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30 Dec 2010

Chocolate Macarons

With New Years Eve looming I found myself in a panic, drowning in a sea of loose plans and uncertainty.  Do I brave my most hated night of the year and go out, or do I chance the non arrival of a taxi at a house party and spend the night on a friends sofa? Have a sophisticated gathering with only my nearest and dearest or full blown party at my pad?!  The choices were endless and nobody seemed able to make a decision.  Eventually, after much humming and harring, I decided to have a gathering! Isn't gathering a nice word? So much less stressful than party.... a gathering *sighs*.


As a little treat for my guests I decided to retry my hand at macarons. My first attempt was a roaring success, perfect shells, perfect colouring and perfectly delectable.  Surely I couldn't recreate my little triumph?  Well, I didn't.  These macarons are ok, but not a patch on my last beauties.  I think I may have over mixed the batter causing greasy stains to appear upon the shells.  Oh well, nothing a dusting of edible glitter can't fix, well that and I forgot to age my egg whites. Ooops!



Chocolate Macarons
Adapted from Annie's Eats

Ingredients: 

110g ground almonds
200g minus 2 tbsp. icing sugar
2 tbsp. cocoa powder 100g egg whites (from about 3 eggs), aged at room temperature for 12-24 hours
50g granulated sugar

Method:

Sift the ground almonds, icing sugar and cocoa powder together and set aside.

Place egg whites in a clean bowl and whisk until foamy.  Gradually add the sugar while you continue to beat the eggs until stiff peaks start to form.

Add the ground almond mixture to the bowl with the meringue and quickly but gently fold together using a wide rubber spatula until no streaks remain.  You want to achieve a thick batter that ribbons or flows from the spatula when lifted.

Line two baking sheets with baking parchment.  Transfer the batter to a piping bag fitted with a plain wide round tip.  Pipe into small rounds on the prepared baking sheets (each round should be about 1-1½ inches in diameter), spaced about 1 inch apart.  Let sit at room temperature for about an hour to develop a hard shell.

Preheat the oven to 150C.  Bake for 8-10 minutes, depending on size.  Transfer the pans to a wire cooling rack and let cool completely before moving the cookies.  For easy removal pour a drizzle of water between the paper and baking sheet, the steam created from the heat will prevent the macarons from sticking.

Once cool fill the cookies with Nutella or any other chocolate ganache you fancy.

22 Dec 2010

Did I tell you?

I think I may have forgotten to mention.  One of my recipes has been featured in a real life cook book, one you can actually buy on the shelves of real shops.  How exciting!


The wonderful Thinkfood cookbook is filled with brain fueling recipes to really get your mind working at it's fullest capacity!  The book is filled with awesome recipes fro some of the best foodies on the bloggesphere and I even have an extra copy for my you, my darling readers.  My recipe is filled with brain boosting cranberries and pecan nuts. The perfect breakfast muffin to get your day started. Especially in the current climate :)


So, if you fancy trying out my published (oh yeah) recipe get your fine little booties along to my Pecan, Cranberry & Orange Muffin Thinkfood page. If you're feeling really saucy you could even do a sudoku while you're eating them ;)

Do you fancy getting your mitts on a copy of Thinkfood? Well here's your chance!  This competition is open  to readers from all over the world so get entering.  You get one entry for each of the following:

  • You must be a follower of Katiecakes! So get following and leave me a comment to let me know.
  • Tweet your socks off with: My brain needs food, let @Katie_Cakes feed it with her awesome giveaway http://tinyurl.com/27jt86w.
  • Mention this giveaway on your blog, twitter or facebook for another entry. Don't forget to let me know by leaving a comment.
The competition will close on Jan 3rd (once my New Year hangover is gone). Good luck.

14 Dec 2010

Florentines

Florentines have been on my to bake list for weeks and weeks but every time I get myself geared up to make them something always pops up and throws a little spanner in my works.  Not today, no siree!  Today my plans involved the sofa, copious amounts of Ringtons tea, cuddles with my furry children and florentines! Nothing would stand in my way, except maybe a nap... I jest, I jest.  I didn't nap, I'm a good girl you see and naps make me a cranky mean face. Well, a crankier meaner face as my fiancee would say.


These florentines couldn't be easier to make, the cutting out part however is a bit more tricky.  It isn't difficult to do per say, more it's a bit of a faff and boy do you need a whole bucket load of elbow grease!  If I can offer you a Katie tested recommendation, do what I did and hammer your cookie cutters through the candy with a big arsed pan! That'll do it!


My very favorite thing about this recipe is once you're finished stamping out your florentines and packing them up in pretty little packages you can nibble on all the broken remains. Totally guiltless, don't you agree?

Cherry & Coconut Florentines
(Adapted from BBC Good Food Magazine)

Ingredients
140g light muscovado sugar
100g clear honey
200g salted butter
100g desiccated coconut
140g flaked almonds
300g glacé cherries , sliced
4 tbsp plain flour
400g dark chocolate (you could use milk or light too)
Edible glitter

Method: 
Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Put the sugar, honey and butter in a large pan and gently melt together. When all the sugar has dissolved stir in the coconut, flaked almonds, sliced cherries and flour. 

Line a large baking tray with baking parchment (about 40 x 30cm), and roughly spread the Florentine mixture out to a thin layer - don't worry if you have small gaps, it should melt together in the oven. Bake for 10-12 mins until a rich golden colour, then set aside to cool and firm up. 

Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over gently simmering water. Line a second large tray or board with baking parchment and carefully flip the cooled Florentine bake onto it. Peel off the baking parchment. Spread the melted chocolate over, if you're using a few types just leave a gap between each. 

Leave aside until set, then stamp out shapes using cookie star cutters - if the cutter is digging into your hands (as the Florentine mix may be a little hard), rest a small plate or pan on top of it and push down on this instead. Or do what I did and attack it with a pan! Finish your adorable cookies with a sprinkle of edible glitter for a bit of festive glamor!



12 Dec 2010

Afternoon Tea: The Ritz

During my recent trip to London I was lucky enough to be treated to tea at The Ritz by my dear mum and dad.  Knowing my love for the wonderful British pastime of afternoon tea you can guess how elated I was!  Taking tea and champagne in a gold and pink gilded hall, I mean what more can a girl wish for?





I'm ashamed to say the cake plate was replenished more than once.
I had three of these!





If you are visiting London in the near or far future, I can't recommend this experience enough. Attentive staff, beautiful surroundings and a pianist playing your requested music. 

Bliss!

4 Dec 2010

Midweek Weekend Part Two

I know, I know. There hasn't been any foodie posts up here in a while, bad Katie! I've been so busy with Pet Lamb during the festive season I haven't had a second to enjoy my time in the kitchen. But, the end is in sight, just one more market then I can whip, bake and cream to my hearts content. I promise!

For now, Please try to enjoy some pictures I took at RE-found Objects. Possibly the best shop in the North East of England and when about 50% of my wages end up each month.







This cushion will be mine, one day!



Regulars to this blog should recognise this beautiful green milk glass from many cupcake posts.

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