Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti

Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti

 

Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti

 

Yes, it’s Valentine’s Day.  Happy Valentine’s Day!  I think chocolate is a must-do today, right?  I made these biscotti to take to a coffee for an international group here, where we were all advised to take something sweet or savory, wear red, and bring a gift.  Of course, there were all sorts of treats on hand, but I am quite happy that no one brought anymore biscotti.

I personally love biscotti, which in Italy they are actually called Cantuccini, since biscotti just means cookie.  I have been making them since times immemorial, I think since I was 16 or so, for my mother’s bridge games.  Rarely do I make them with chocolate though, since I find them harder to pair with dessert wines.  Alas, the chocolate tradition won over today, so I naturally decided to pair them with hazelnuts, since all things that resemble nutella are delicious in my book.

I really like these biscotti because not only are they incredibly chocolatey, I don’t use any fats like butter or oil so they are not sooooo damaging to your waistline!  If you can, try to use some high quality chocolate, such as Valrhona, since the main ingredient is chocolate!

So here’s what you’re going to need:

Makes about 30 biscotti (Adapted from the New York Times Recipe)

1/2 cup whole toasted hazelnuts

1 1/4 cups four

1/4 cup good quality cocoa powder

pinch of salt

3/4 tsp baking powder

2 large eggs

3/4 cups sugar

2 tbsp sanding sugar

1 tsp black pepper

Preheat oven to 350F (180C).  In a large bowl, sift together the flour, chocolate, salt and baking powder, set aside.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the eggs and sugar, beat on medium speed until just mixed.  Reserve one tbsp of the egg mix in a small bowl.

Add the dry ingredients, a little at a time, and beat on low-speed until just incorporated.  Fold in the hazelnuts.

Form into a log shape, about 18 inches long and 3 inches wide, and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet.  Brush on the egg mix you set aside, dust with sanding sugar and the black pepper.

Place in the oven and cook for about 15-20 minutes, or firm.  Take out and let cool for 5 minutes before cutting into diagonal slices, 1 inch thick, with a sharp serrated knife.  Place back on the cookie sheet, on their side, and cook for another 15-20 minutes.

Let cool on a wire rack, and they can be kept in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

 

Michy’s Bread Pudding

MIchy's Bread Pudding photo 2 (1) photo 3 (1)

I am not a huge fan of bread pudding.  I like it, I don’t LUUUURRRVE it.  So, why did I make bread pudding?  Well, two reasons.  1) My daughter begged me to make cheese fondue last week, and I seriously miscalculated the quantities of how much bread we could eat.  2) My good friend Michelle Bernstein (of Michy’s Restaurant in Miami) makes the best bread pudding, hands down.

I tried Michy’s bread pudding 3 years ago when she invited me to eat at her restaurant.  It’s the only dessert she has in her cookbook, “Cuisine a Latina” too.  It’s that good.  What I love about it, is that even though it is quite a rich and decadent dessert, it really doesn’t feel like it, and I think it has to be the addition of brandy, chocolate and the fact that it soaks up the custard for up to 48 hours.  Booze and Chocolate.  Two of my favorite things!  Mixed together, even more yum factor. So, as I generally do, I tweaked her recipe a bit, (But I will give you the original and you can do as you choose!) by using cranberries instead of raisins, and using all of the brandy used to soak the cranberries instead of just a tbsp!  I love the taste of a slightly boozy dessert, but if you prefer yours with a little less ripple, keep to the original recipe!

So here’s what you’re going to need:

1/2 cup raisins (or any dried fruit you like)

Grated zest of 1 orange (I used lemon and it was equally scrumptious)

1 cup brandy or sherry (but go to town, I think rum would even be amazing in this)

2 cups heavy cream

1 cup half and half

6 large egg yolks, at room temperature

3/4 cup sugar

1 tbsp vanilla extract

4 cups diced (1 inch) soft crustless challah, brioche, or white bread (I used crustful baguette)

4 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

Vanilla Ice Cream for serving

Put raisins and orange zest in a small bowl, add the brandy, and let the raisins and zest soak, covered, in the refrigerator for 24 hours or up to 1 week.

Put the cream and half and half in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over low heat.  Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl.  Whisk one-third of the warm cream into the egg mixture, a little at a time, to prevent scrambling the eggs, then whisk in the rest of the cream mixture.

Add the bread to the bowl and stir to soak it with the custard.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 24 hours, or up to 48 hours.

Put a rack in the center of the oven to 325F (170C).  Butter six 4 to 6 ounce ramekins or baking dishes.  Drain the raisins, reserving the brandy.  Add the raisins and a tablespoon of the brandy to the bread mixture and mix well.  Spoon into the prepared ramekins or baking dish.  Sprinkle chocolate over the top of the bread puddings.  Put the ramekins in a roasting pan and fill the pan with enough warm water to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins.  Bake, uncovered, until the pudding is just set, about 25 minutes; when you shake the pan, the custard should wobble for just a moment.

Remove the pan from the oven and carefully place the ramekins on small serving dishes.  Serve the bread pudding hot, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream right on top.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Blackberry and Cornmeal Muffins

Blackberry and Cornmeal Muffins

 

It’s been one of those weeks.  A pipe burst in our apartment, and we have had severe damage to our floors and walls.  Nothing like inept handymen sent by your landlord to further make a mess of the situation.  Apart from that, it’s been rainy, cold, and I’m kind of homesick.

That means it’s time for me to get baking, and make some feel good treats for breakfast so I can get my butt to the gym, whenever these lovely men think they’ll finish making holes in our floor!

photo (2)

This recipe is adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes cookbook.  I love the taste of blackberries, but don’t really enjoy eating them raw.  They are way too grainy and seedy for me, and store-bought always seem to be incredibly tart!  I always dream of walking through some field, and picking them off their bush, and taste the sweet ripeness that only the sun can provide.  Alas, the only time I have had contact with any wild blackberries is when my daughter brought back silk worms from school as a project.  I had no idea that they only ate blackberry leaves, so I had to hunt out a tree and pick the leaves so they wouldn’t die.  Even though I ABHOR any type of worm.  But, I just can’t let a living thing die, disgusting or not.

photo (4)

Today we found an array of berries at the market, and I love me some blueberries for breakfast, but picked these up thinking I would make the muffins I saw in Martha’s book.  Brought them home, picked up the book, read the recipe and then realized I don’t have any cornmeal.  I only had Arepa flour.  (Arepas are Colombian cornmeal patties- delicious!)  Even though in Martha’s book it stated for cornmeal, I swapped it in, lessening the amount of sugar that the recipe originally called for.  The Arepa flour that I have has some sugar already in the mix.  I didn’t want them to be overly sweet, either, and I wanted to be able to taste the tartness I find unappealing in the raw berries.  It worked perfectly.  Nice and cornbread like, soft, fluffy, and moist, berries bursting when you take a bite.  Definite “picker upper” on a cold rainy day!

So here’s what you’re going to need:

Adapted from Martha Stewart Cupcakes

Makes 12-16 muffins

1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup fine ground yellow cornmeal

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 1/4 cups sugar

1/2 cup buttermilk, room temperature

2 large eggs, room temperature

7 tbsp butter, melted and cooled

1 -2 containers (6 oz each) fresh blackberries

1. Preheat oven to 375 F (190C).  Line standard muffin tins with paper liners.  Whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, and 1 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar.  In another bowl, whisk together buttermilk, eggs and melted butter, pour over flour mixture, whisking to combine.

2.  Fill each lined cup with a scant 1/4 cup batter.  Top batter with blackberries (3-4 berries per cup), then sprinkle evenly with remaining sugar.

3.  Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until evenly browned on top, 20- to 25 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before removing muffins.  They are best eaten the day they are baked, but will keep in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Strawberry Jam Tea-Cakes

cupcakes

 

On Monday it was Paolo’s birthday, and as custom here in Spain, when it’s your birthday, you bring the treats.  So, a couple of years ago I had prepared these for Paolo to take into work, and he asked for them again this year.  I love these cupcakes, as they are really cakey, and nothing is better than biting into this luscious strawberry filling!  My favorite part has to be the glaze, though.

I remember as I was making them that there was something that I needed to do with the glaze, and after making them this time, I now realize that you have to make double the amount of glaze for them to truly be covered in it.  If not, it just seems to pool messily on the bottom, leaving much to be desired on top!  But, that said, next time I am sure I will remember.  (Or will I?)

This is a recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart, whose cupcake book I pore over time and time again.  I love looking at the glossy pictures of these beautiful cupcakes.  Unfortunately, not all the recipes work out.  I am constantly confounded by this, as I have had many issues with Martha’s recipes.  You’d think such a monstrous sized company would have a recipe-proofer, but alas, even Martha has her imperfections!

So here’s what you’re going to need:

Martha Stewart Cupcakes

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for tins

3 cups all purpose flour, plus more for tins

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 tsp finely grated orange zest

4 large eggs, separated, room temperature

1/2 cup milk

1 cup strawberry jam or preserves

Citrus Glaze (Recipe Follows)

1. Preheat oven to 350F.  Brush standard muffin tins with butter, dust with flour, tapping out excess.  Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.

2. With and electric mixer on medium high speed, cream butter, sugar, and zest until pale and fluffy.  Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.  Reduce speed to low.  Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of milk, and beating just until combined after each.

3.  In another bowl, with an electic mixer on medium speed, whisk egg whites to soft peaks; gently fold into batter.  Spoon 2 tbsp of batter into each prepared cup.  Make an indentation in the middle of each; fill with one tbsp jam.  Top with an additional 2 tbsp batter, covering jam completely.

4. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until cake tester inserted in centers of top layers comes out clean, about 30 minutes.  Remove from oven.  Run a small offset spatula around the edges, and turn out cakes onto wire racks and let cool completely.

Makes 12 cupcakes

5.  To finish, drizzle cakes evenly with glaze, and let set, about 30 minutes.  Glazed cupcakes can be stored up to 2 days in a single layer at room temperature in airtight containers.

For the Citrus Glaze:

1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar, more if needed

1/4 tsp finely grated citrus zest

3 tbsp fresh citrus juice, more if needed

Whisk together all ingredients until smooth.  If necessary add more juice to thicken or more juice to thin the glaze.  Use immediately.

Makes about 1 cup

 

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Saveur Magazine Classic Recipe No. 83 – Elvis Presley’s Pound Cake

Elvis Presley's Pound Cake

Hello my friends, I am very sorry for not posting in a week…..I have been bombarded at work, staying up until 5 am to watch the US elections, and then, my fantastic computer (not) decided it needed a break too and wouldn’t work.

Finally, after many restarts and uninstalls and installs, it decided to be nice and let me post!

This dish was a petition from my daughter,  as I mentioned before, we each get to choose a recipe to be done for the week.  My daughter was intrigued, thinking this would be more of a bread, obviously from the aspect.  I was very wary, because I remember pound cakes being these incredibly moist, buttery things you got in a white box that read Entenmann’s.  I remember getting that said box, tearing it open with my grandmother, and having her cut the middle slice, where the loaf separates, and gobbling it down with a glass of milk.  Other pound cakes I had tried didn’t come close in comparison.

Except for now, I can proudly say, this recipe is a MILLION times better than those pre-prepared confections.  Spongy, moist, dense without being dry.  All in all, this is one pretty amazing pound cake!

Imagine, 3/4 of the loaf was promptly eaten straight out of the oven.  And the next day, after resting in the fridge, it was even better.

I hope you get your mojo on and make this cake.  Fairly easy to make, no rocket science involved.  And my daughter gladly lent me a hand in preparing it.

Overall taste points: 8.7 / 10

Difficulty: Easy, but you need a stand up or hand-held mixer

Availability of ingredients: Super easy

16 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pans

3 cups cake flour, sifted, plus more for pans

3 cups sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract

3/4 tsp kosher salt

7 eggs

1 cup heavy cream

 

Heat oven to 350F (180C).  Grease and flour two 9″ x 5″ x 2″ loaf pans; set aside.  Beat butter, sugar, vanilla and salt in a bowl on medium – high-speed of a hand mixer until pale and fluffy, about 6 minutes.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each, until smooth.  Add flour and cream alternately, beginning and ending with flour, beating until smooth.  Increase speed to high;  beat batter until smooth and light, about 5 minutes.  Divide batter between prepared pans, and smooth tops with a rubber spatula; bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with a couple of crumbs adhering to it, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Let cool 30 minutes, and then unmold onto a cooling rack; let cool completely before slicing and serving.  Serves 10.

Panellets – Catalan Almond, Sweet Potato and Pine Nut Cookies

Panellets

This year, instead of celebrating Halloween, and making all sorts of goodies relevant to my favorite holiday, I’ve decided to celebrate my wonderful city’s tradition of Panellets.  Why, you ask?  Well, because it is the last year that I celebrate this tradition.  You see, in about a month, we are moving to Madrid.

Panellets are these incredibly moist and delicious cookies that are like little pillows of heaven.  They are typically eaten on November 1st, which is All Saints’ Day here, which is called “La Castanyada”, meaning the day of chestnuts.  You eat them for dessert with a nice glass of dessert wine and some hot roasted chestnuts.  Very yummy indeed.  Now, as all good recipes go, there is the catch, to use sweet potatoes or not?  Some people say it is a sacrilege, others say it imparts a moistness that you don’t get if you only use the almonds.  I chose to use the sweet potatoes, because they’re good for you!  And traditionally, they are coated with pine nuts, but lately they come covered in coconut and almonds too.  I did a few in coconut because I ran out of pine nuts.  The choice is up to you!

Now, this is the first time I have made them at home.  After 10 years of being here, I am ashamed of this.  But, to be totally honest, it’s like making Oreos at home.  They are so readily available at this time of year that it almost is stupid to make them.  But, I have to admit that, this is so far from the truth.  Now that I have accomplished this feat, I have to tell you, this is baking 101.  So super easy.  And, the bonus is that they taste MUCH MUCH MUCH better than the store-bought ones.

Now, who feels like a fool?

I really hope that you try to make these, not only are they tasty, they’re pretty healthy as far as cookies go.  No butter.  No gluten.  If you really want to make them über healthy, abstain from the regular sugar and go brown or with stevia.  Up to you.

So here’s what you’re going to need:

To make about 30 cookies

250g sweet potato, boiled, cooled, peeled and mashed

450g ground almonds, preferably marcona

Grated lemon peel from 1 whole lemon

400g sugar

3 eggs, separated, keeping the whites in one bowl, and TWO yolks in another, and ONE yolk in another bowl

400g pine  nuts (coconut and crushed almonds optional)

Preheat your oven to 180C (350F).  In a large bowl, mix the mashed sweet potatoes with the sugar.  Mix in the almond and lemon peel.  Add two of the egg yolks and mix well.

Make small balls about 2 inches in diameter.  Beat your egg whites slightly.  Now align your bowls with the egg whites, the pine nuts and the rest of the coatings if using.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Now dip your cookie balls in the egg white, and roll in the pine nuts (or the other coatings if using) and place on the baking sheet.  Repeat until you have finished all the cookies.  Brush them with the 1 egg yolk, and bake for about 20-25 minutes.  Let cool on the baking sheet and refrigerate for about an 1.

Serve with dessert wine and some hot roasted chestnuts!

Visca Catalunya!

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Malteser Cake

Malteser Cake

Phew.  I made it out alive, barely, but I did!  This was my daughter’s 16th birthday party, and she had a blast.  But I felt like a hired hand most of the time.  That’s ok though, birthday’s are only once a year.  Thank God.

I am actually very happy, because normally she asks me to make her a cake from Milk Bar….chocolate malted something or other, which we just call the “Monster Cake”.  Why?  Because it takes about 3 days to make it and it has a whopping billion calories per slice.

This year, she wanted something different, she loves Maltesers (Whoppers in the States) and so I made her a cake that showcased her favorite malted milk balls.

As far as cakes go, this was a cinch.  It took me about 3 hours to make, and it was delicious!  Crunchy, moist, creamy…..all those things in one.  So for your next party why not try it?  Guaranteed to have some happy faces and full bellies!

So here’s what you’re going to need:

For the yellow cake

Adapted from The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook

2 round cake tins

1 cup unsalted butter, cut into squares plus more for tin

3 cups cake flour

1 tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

2 cups sugar

1.5 tsp vanilla extract

4 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup milk

1 packet crushed maltesers

Malted Chocolate Buttercream frosting (recipe follows)

10 packets maltesers (approximately)

Multi colored sprinkles (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F.  Butter the two round cake tins and dust with flour.  Sift together flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter on low-speed to soften, increase speed to medium, and cream until light and fluffy.  Keep beating while gradually adding sugar; beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Add the vanilla.

Gradually drizzle in the beaten eggs, beating between additions until the batter is no longer slick, scraping down the sides of the bowl.  With the mixer on low, alternate adding flour and milk, starting and ending with the flour.  Scrape sides of the bowl and mix 10 seconds longer.  Fold in the crushed maltesers.

Divide evenly between the pans, and bake in the oven for about 40 minutes, a knife should come out clean.  Let cool before frosting.

To assemble the cake, place one layer on a platter and frost with the buttercream about an inch thick.  Place a layer of maltesers on the top.

Top with the second layer of cake, and frost the top and sides with the remaining buttercream, and then top with Maltesers in 3 rows, as shown above, tightly packed.  Leave a round space in the center for the candles and sprinkles.

Tilt the cake in the platter and sprinkle  with the sprinkles, and add some in the center, if using.

Malted Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Adapted from Baked Explorations by  Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito

5 large egg whites, at room temperature

1.5 cups sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature

4 oz good quality semi-sweet chocolate, melted and cooled

1/4 cup malted milk powder

12 maltesers, crushed

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the egg whites and sugar.  Set the bowl over a pot of simmering water and whisk until the sugar is dissolved and the egg whites are just warm to the touch.  Return the bowl to the mixer, and with the whisk attachment beat in the vanilla and eggs on high-speed until firm and glossy, about 3-5 minutes.  With the machine running, whisk in the butter a few tbsp at a time.  If the mixture begins to look curdled, continue to beat until it is smooth before adding more butter.

Dissolve the malt powder in 2 tbsp hot water, then beat it in to the buttercream, then whisk in the melted chocolate.  Fold in the crushed maltesers.  Cover and refrigerate if not using immediately.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Peanut butter, Almond, and Pine Nut Slab Cookies

Peanut butter, almond and pine nut slab cookies

It’s cause I was sick.  I needed cookies.  I had the cookie monster on my shoulder saying, COOKIE…COOKIE….YOU WANT COOKIE!  COOKIE IS GOOD FOR YOU  WHEN YOU SICK.

So I listened.  And I made these three nut cookies.  Just cause I love peanut butter.  And almonds.  And pine nuts.  So why not all three in one?

Also, slab or log cookies are perfect.  You don’t have to make 36 of them and then you either eat them all in one go….or they go bad.  Slab cookies you can chill, cut the amount you want to bake, and then freeze the rest of the dough.  How great is that?

So I hope you give in to your inner cookie monster and make these COOKIES NOW!

Here’s what you’re going to need:

Adapted from “bigfatcookies” by Elinor Klivans

1 cup unbleached flour

1/2 cup ground almonds

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup peanut butter, room temperature

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup packed light brown sugar

1 large egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup coarsely chopped and whole pine nuts

Sift the flour, almonds and baking soda in a medium bowl.  Set aside.  In the bowl of an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the peanut butter and butter until smooth and blended together.  Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed.  Add the granulated sugar and brown sugar and beat until blended, about 30 seconds.  Add the egg and vanilla and beat until thoroughly blended, about 1 minute.  On low-speed, add the flour mixture and blend until just incorporated.

Form the dough into a rough rectangular slab.  Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes, to firm the dough up a bit.

Check the dough and reshape into a “nicer” rectangle.  Chill for at least 3 hours or overnight.  Or you can freeze it for a month; thaw in the fridge before using.

Preheat the oven to 350 deg. F (175 C).  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Unwrap the dough and slice into 1/3 inch slices.  (Slice as many or as few as you need).  Press the pine nuts into the cookies.  Bake for 14 minutes.  Cool them for 5 minutes on the same sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Miniature Apple Pies with Thyme

Miniature Apple Pies

Ahhh, Autumn is fast arriving here in Barcelona, and for me it is one of the most special times of year.  As the days get shorter and the heat of Summer fades away, my mind wanders to longer, warmer food.  There certainly is nothing better than the smells of apples and spices emanating from your kitchen.

I have never been a big apple lover, but for some reason, apples that are baked are truly scrumptious.  A flaky crust, moist and tender, filled to the brim with those soft and delicious apples.  Served warm with some vanilla ice cream, it’s a decadent treat that will please everyone!!

For my last dinner party, I made these miniature versions.  I don’t have a beautiful pie tin, so I opted for giving everyone a mini pie.  It’s a perfect little serving.  And so easy to bake, it bakes in a cupcake tin, and they pop right out when you’re done!

Miniature Apple PiesI had lots of fun creating different tops, so feel free to let your imagination run wild.  I created a lattice top, and then I have the lovely Williams Sonoma Leaf cut outs, which I used on another, and lastly, I used a large frosting tip to create small holes.

Miniature Apple Pies

 

So have fun with them, no matter how you decided to decorate the tops, they are guaranteed to be delicious!

So here’s what you’re going to need:

Serves 12

For the Short Crust Pastry:

250g All purpose Flour

150g unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small cubes

1 tsp salt

1 egg

1 tbsp milk

In a large bowl, measure out your flour.  Add the butter and crumble with the tips of your fingers, until your flour looks like wet sand, and all the butter has been incorporated.   Add the egg, salt and milk, with your hands, mix and knead until a firm dough forms.  Roll into a ball, cover with plastic wrap, flatten into a disc and refrigerate for at least one hour.

For the filling:

5 mixed apples, such as Golden Delicious or Gala, cut into 1 inch cubes

125g butter

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp ground cloves

1/2 tsp ground allspice

1/4 tsp salt

Black pepper to taste

1 sprig of Thyme, leaves detached

3 tbsp water

1 egg, beaten

In a large pot, add all your ingredients except for the egg, and cook, about 20 minutes, until the apples are tender and the filling has thickened.  Let cool.

To assemble the pies:

Pre-heat oven to 190C.  Cut the dough in half, on a lightly floured work surface roll out the dough until 1/4 inch thick.  If the dough gets too sticky, then just refrigerate it for another 15 minutes until it is easy to work with again.

Break out your cupcake tin, and get a biscuit cutter or glass that is slightly bigger than the circumference of the circles on your tin.  Cut out the base of the pastry and place in the cupcake tins.  Then grab a bowl or something similar (look at the picture above) that is slightly larger than what you used to cut the base, and cut out the tops.  Now, decided what shapes you want to cut out, holes, lattice, etc.

Add the filling to the base, and brush the rims with a bit of the beaten egg, and then add the top of the crust and press to seal tightly.  Brush the tops of the pies with the egg wash, and add a little sugar to the tops if you want.

Bake in the oven in the middle rack for about 30-35 minutes. Remove from the tin and let cool on a wire rack.  Serve warm with some vanilla ice cream.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

 

 

 

Individual Chocolate Banana Cakes with Crushed Honeycomb

Chocolate Banana Cakes with Crushed Honeycomb

 

When I moved to the Bahamas, I tasted my very first Crunchie bar, and it was pure, sweet, magical love.  I had never tasted anything like it, that airy, sweet, crispy caramel tucked neatly inside milk chocolate.  It was pure bliss.

Crushed Honeycomb

Imagine my happiness when my Jamie’s Great Britain book arrived in the post, and I found a recipe on how to make the inside of a Crunchie bar!!!!  I literally got the book on Tuesday, and Wednesday I was making the honeycomb.  I’m flabbergasted at how easy this was to make.  I mean, I don’t know what I thought it would entail, like some super-duper complicated machinery to infuse the caramel with all those teeny tiny holes, but in reality….it’s a 4 step process.  It took me a whole of 10 minutes.  Crazy!!!

My friend came over for lunch yesterday, and I hadn’t baked in a while.  Luckily, my pantry is always stocked with the necessary accoutrements (I just wanted to use a fancy word.  Ingredients, actually) to whip up a simple sponge cake.  Which also came out of Jamie’s book.

Queen Victoria Sponge Cake

I decided I would combine his recipe for honeycomb, with his recipe for Victoria Sponge, and add a little banana and some ganache.

Individual Chocolate Banana Sponge Cakes with Crushed Honeycomb

This is the bomb.  Tastewise and calorically.  But heck, it was worth the run I did afterwards!

So, if you are so inclined, here is the recipe for my little concoction!

Serves 6

Adapted from Jamie’s Great Britain Cookbook

Basic Honeycomb Recipe:

1/2 heaped tsp baking soda

125g white sugar

1 tbsp honey

Line a shallow baking tray with a sheet of parchment paper.  Measure out your baking soda so that it’s ready to go – you’ll need to work quickly once the sugar reaches the right temperature.  Put the sugar, honey and 25ml of water into a medium-sized, deep, heavy-bottomed pan.  Stir together and heat to 150 Celsius on a sugar thermometer.  Whatever you do, do NOT touch or taste the caramel, as it will burn you.

As soon as the caramel reaches the right temperature, turn the heat off and add the baking soda, whisking quickly and carefully to combine it.  It will froth right up, but that’s normal.  Carefully pour the mixture out onto your lined tray right away, then gently tilt the tray a little from side to side to get the mixture to spread out in a fairly even layer (again, being careful not to come into contact with the hot caramel).  Leave to one side to cool, then crack it into bite size pieces and crush some into powder or smaller pieces.

For the Victoria Sponge:

125g softened unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing

125g self-raising flour, plus extra for dusting

2 large eggs

zest of one lime

a few drops of Rosewater

Preheat your oven to 190C.  Grease your individual cake tins with butter, and dust with flour.  Trust me on this, I didn’t dust with the flour and they stuck….so instead of 6 I had 4.

Beat the butter and sugar together in a mixer until light and fluffy, about 10 minutes.  Add the eggs, one at a time, making sure you beat each one before you add the next one.  Fold in the lime zest, flour and rosewater.  Divide the batter among the cake tin, and with a greased spatula, smooth the bottoms.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and rise, and a toothpick comes out clean.  Turn out on a baking rack to cool completely.

For the ganache:

250g dark chocolate

1 cup heavy cream.

Shave your chocolate with a serrated knife.

Shaved dark chocolateThis will make sure that the chocolate melts all at the same time.  In a medium sauce pan, heat the cream just before boiling.  Place the chocolate in a large heat-proof bowl, and add the cream.  Mix once and let sit for 1o minutes.  Then whisk well, until all the chocolate is mixed with the cream and it is glossy.

To Assemble:

1 banana, cut 6 slices, and chop the rest

Crushed Honeycomb

6 individual cakes

Ganache

Place a piece of parchment beneath the baking rack.  Add the honeycomb and chopped banana to the tops of the cakes.  Then drizzle the ganache over the cakes.  Let it set for about 3 minutes, then pour over again, and smooth the sides and top with a spatula.

Top the cakes with the small crushed honeycomb, then add one large piece.  Add one slice of banana to each cake.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla