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24 Dec 2011

Peanut Butter Blossoms

A few weeks ago Pet Lamb attended a less than fabulous market.  The high winds which hit the North of England and Scotland saw a four day market turn into a two day rush!  Thanks to the blustery weather I was left with an abundance of Hershey's Kisses which normally adorn the top of our double chocolate cupcakes.  Rather than resign myself to Kris munching his way through three huge bags, I decided to use them in some relaxing Christmas Eve baking.




I've seen these adorable cookies on many American blogs but always thought Hersheys Kisses were a little too pricey to use in such large numbers.  Up until recently I only ever saw them in the American food section of fancy food halls sporting a massively inflated price tag.  Thankfully the candy company appear to have started trading in the UK, supplying most major supermarkets for a pocket friendly price.  Now if only Junior Mints were to do the same!

Hershey's Peanut Butter Blossoms

Ingredients:
113g unsalted butter
170g smooth peanut butter
70g light brown sugar
65g caster sugar
1 large egg
1tsp vanilla extract
1tsp baking soda
2tbsp milk
200g plain flour
1/4tsp salt

Method:
Preheat oven to 190C and place rack in the center of the oven. 
 
In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the butter until creamy and smooth. Add the peanut butter and sugars and beat until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat to combine. Beat in the milk. 

In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to the peanut butter mixture and beat until incorporated. Cover and chill the batter for about an hour, or until firm enough to roll into balls.

Roll the batter into 1 inch round balls. Place the granulated white sugar in a shallow bowl and roll each ball in the sugar. Place on the prepared baking sheet, spacing about 2 inches apart. 

Bake the cookies for about 8 - 10 minutes, or until the cookies are lightly browned. Immediately upon removing the cookies from the oven, place a unwrapped Chocolate Kiss into the center of each cookie, pressing down gently until the cookie just starts to crack. Cool completely on a wire rack. 

18 Dec 2011

Lennon Wall - Prague










During my recent trip to Prague I set myself the mission of finding the famous John Lennon Wall.  I've visited the city no less than six times and each time, due to ropey maps and guide books, I've gotten myself hopelessly lost trying to sniff out the landmark.  This time, armed with my trusty iPhone and Lonely Planet App nothing would stop me.

The infuriating thing was, once I finally discovered the wall it was actually located right behind the hotel in which I always stay.  D'oh!  Oh well, at least I actually found it.

16 Dec 2011

Hotel Chocolat Turkish Delight

Recently I witnessed a distressing Twitter debate.  It seems, a lot of you twitterati don't like turkish delight?!  I know, I can't believe it either!  Ever since the White Witch enchanted young Edmund with some of the magical rose scented candy in the land of Narnia I was a girl obsessed.  So here it is, I'm begging you, give turkish delight a chance.  I bet, if you let it, it can enchant you too :)


Need some more persuading?  Well how about this, the lovely folk at Hotel Chocolat have given me a stunningly beautiful wooden box filled with my favorite turkish delight to give away to one of you lucky people!  Interested?  Read on, dear follower.


Leave a comment on this post to let the world know you're either pro turkish delight (yay) or against (boo).  The winner will be announced on Friday 30th December!


Don't forget to check out Hotel Chocolat's gorgeous Christmas range, it's not too late for some last minute deliciousness!


Stay tuned for what I have planned for this mouth watering box of sweeties in the next few days, it's going to make the perfect Christmas gift for a rose loving vodka drinker ;)

8 Dec 2011

Coconut Macarons

Why hello again, it's been a while hasn't it?  If you follow me on Twitter you'll understand my lengthy absence from blogging, Kris and I just made the leap into home ownership.  Hurray!  The journey has been maddening, stressful and, in places, downright miserable but all of that now seems like a distant memory.  Well, if you ignore the fact I've been without a fridge freezer for three weeks of course. 


I'd love to say that these delicious macarons were the first sweet treat to christen my brand new kitchen but alas, 500 cupcakes have adorned the counter tops since we moved in. No rest for the wicked, or so they say. 

I've been on a bit of a coconut kick recently, I just can't get enough of the fresh flavour and satisfying crunch.  I experimented with some coconut ice cupcakes for Pet Lamb last week and decided to try out some macarons with the left over coconut.  Lets just say, the decision paid off!

Sadly the pied didn't form correctly.  I put this down to the fact my baking sheet was too big for my new oven so had to bake the macarons with the door more than slightly ajar.  Time to buy some new cookie sheets if you ask me ;)


Coconut Macarons

Ingredients:
3 large egg whites
2tbsp caster sugar
150g of icing sugar
40g dessicated coconut
60g ground almonds

Method:

Preheat oven to 150C fan and line a baking sheet with baking parchment.

Whisk the egg whites with an electric whisk until soft peaks appear.  While still whisking, pour in the caster sugar and continue to mix until sugar dissolves and the meringue is thick and glossy.

Add the icing sugar, almonds and coconut in two batches, folding the dry mix into the meringue between additions.  Try not to over mix, about 50 turns of the spoon should do it.

Transfer macaron mix into a piping bag fitted with a large, circular nozzle.  Pipe out circles of batter onto the lined tray about 1.5" in diameter leaving 2" between each macaron.  Drop the baking tray on the counter twice to flatten out the macarons and leave for fifteen minutes to form a skin.

Place macarons into the preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes.  Once cooled sandwich the macaron halves together using your favorite filling, I used buttercream flavoured with coconut essence.  Why not try lemon or raspberry?

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