Monthly Archives: December 2012

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Merry Christmas to all you love and peace on Earth for mankind

Merry Christmas to all you love and peace on Earth for mankind

Mince pies for Rudolph, a dram for Father C. and a present wrapped in sugar. Hope And Love to You ALL – Hope I have forgotten nobody!

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Tempering and producing your own Christmas chocolates…

IMG_2927…is much easier than I first though possible! Once I mastered my secret weapon… And the thrill of offering your own homemade chocolate is … well… a THRILL!

A few attempts and several recipes later, I can give you my very first and almost foolproof recipe for gorgeous and velvety homemade chocolates. The glossy squares in the picture encase a delicious strawberry ganache. But if raspberries are easier to come by, they will do just as well. If you are running short of presents, you have got a week to master this.

These recipes are adapted for the Thermomix and I have to say, this machine really allows you to quickly temper chocolate almost as well as a professional tempering device. There. I have said it: I am never trying anything else again…

For the strawberry purée:

  • 200 g strawberries, fresh or frozen
  • 20 g granulated sugar
  1. Heat the strawberries and sugar 6 minutes/80°C/Speed 3/Reverse Blade Direction (using reverse blade stops the strawberry pips breaking up/splitting and releasing any bitterness). Pass through a fine sieve or muslin cloth into a small bowl and set aside. Squeeze by hand to get as much purée as possible or press with the back of a spoon.

For the chocolate ganache:

  • 130 g whipping cream (37% butterfat)
  • 130 g strawberry purée
  • 4 drops strawberry essential oil OR ½ tsp natural strawberry extract
  • 650 g good milk chocolate callets/chips/drops OR milk chocolate bars broken into 1 cm pieces
  1. In a clean TM bowl heat the cream and strawberry purée 8 minutes/60°C/Speed 2.
  2. Add the chocolate and melt 3 minutes/50°C/Speed 2.
  3. Scrape down the sides of the TM bowl with the spatula, then melt again 5 minutes/37°C/Speed 2. Pour the chocolate mixture into a frame or tray lined with clingfilm 1 cm deep. Allow to set at room temperature overnight then place in the fridge to chill for at least 3 hours. Cut into desired shapes and store in an air tight container in the fridge for up to 6 weeks.

This recipe comes curtesy of the Thermomix website and the following is pinched from Thermochoc.com. It works a dream.

Tempering the chocolate

Thermomix method

Ingredient:

▪   500g high quality chocolate, broken into small pieces

  1. Pulse the chocolate on Turbo for 5-6 seconds, to turn it into pieces about the size of crushed hazelnuts, this helps it to melt evenly.
  2. Take out about half the chocolate and put to one side.
  3. Heat the remaining chocolate on 50 degrees, speed 2 for 6 minutes. This will take it up to about 46-48 degrees.
  4. Add the remaining chocolate and mix on speed 2 for 6 minutes. This will take it down to about 28-29 degrees, and the chocolate might look like it’s starting to lump.
  5. Heat at 37 degrees for 30 seconds on speed 3. This will take the chocolate up to about 32-33 degrees, which is a good temperature to use.

Your chocolate should now be tempered. Which basically means that each molecule is back into place et your chocolate will now have a snappy texture and a glossy appearance- So tempering is a little bit like putting together lego blogs!

Keep the pan in a bigger one full of hot (not boiling) water so you can keep it at melting temperature while you work with it.

Cut up squares from the cooled strawberry ganache and dip them into the tempered chocolate. Remove carefully and leave to dry onto a silpat or grease proof paper. While still soft, you can decorate with a violet or a rose petal dipped in sugar- avalaible from delicatessens or baking supplies.

IMG_8545With thanks to www.thermochoc.com

Brick à l’ oeuf

This is without a doubt my children’s favourite meal. The sort of thing you whip up on a tuesday night, amidst a very busy week, when the food delivery is due past dinner time and the only thing you have in the fridge is a packet of “brick” pastry and a few eggs…

Brick pastry is a very thin, paper like pastry sold in some supermarkets and in most asian or mediterranean shops. It is used to make dainty meat or veg parcels or tasty rolled up and fried sweets. I try to always keep some in the back of the fridge… NOt to be confused with filo pastry, it is sold flat in large circles.

At home, when we were young, we would eat those “Brick a l’oeuf”  with a green salad and a sprinkling of cumin. No spice goes better with a simple egg than cumin! Take my word for it.

The instructions are easy peasy: take a sheet of brick, put it into a deep plate or a bowl so the sides are slightly raised. Break one or two eggs in the middle dip. Sprinkle some cumin and fold the sides up like a parcel.

Warm some rapeseed oil in a shallow pan and fry each parcel on both sides until the white is cooked but just before the yolk has set! This is the only skill required: The yolk needs to be runny so it oozes out when you cut up the parcel… Mop with the pastry and some salad leaves.

Brick a l'oeuf

Brick a l’oeuf

IMG_3205Enjoy a very simple pleasure.

Big Ben in gingerbread and other festive delights

I had three teenage girls in my kitchen this week-end, exchanging geeky (chemistry!) jokes and spilling laughter and edible glitter all around the place! They used our recipe from last year and wanted to build a gingerbread house, but being ambitious and competitive young things, they decided on Big Ben as a template! So here it is: Big Ben in gingerbread and sweets.

This will make a fantastic Christmas centre piece and is now displayed in prime position in our house…

We also baked and decorated lots of gingerbread shapes to give as presents in hampers and boxes. Same recipe just shorter baking time. Because the recipe has masses of honey and spices, those are really delicious as well as decorative and none of us seem to get enough of them at tea-time… They make great dunkers!IMG_3188IMG_3182

IMG_3178IMG_3180IMG_3189Well done girls! I am very proud of you and you are very welcome to come back next year! Buckingham palace this time?!