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27 Apr 2012

Salted Caramel Chocolate Tort

This is not a desert for the faint hearted, this is a tort for the major leagues!  This is an 'I just got dumped, where's the chocolate' tort, an 'I deserved that promotion more than her' kinda pie or, maybe even a 'I can't believe you made that!' ending to a dinner party.  This will inspire a chorus of oooohs and ahhs and will result in your friends begging you for the recipe. But you'll never tell, for then they'll see how unbelievably simple this tort is.  This one is between you and me, and nobody else!

When my lovely sister in law requested a cheesecake for her birthday celebrations I knew what she really had in mind. Something decedent, something rich and luxurious. A simple cheesecake just wasn't going to cut the mustard, enter salted caramel, the daddy of luxury deserts.

Now this is one rich s.o.b so cut it in slivers and don't say I didn't warn you.  And don't worry, I'll take the calorie content to the grave, brownies honor!

Salted Caramel Chocolate Tort
(adapted from BBC Good Food)

200g digestive biscuits
100g melted salted butter
1 jar dulce de leche
1 tsp sea salt , plus extra to serve
300g quality plain chocolate (70% solids), broken into chunks
600ml tub double cream
25g icing sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
chocolate truffles to decorate

Line the base and sides of a deep, round 20cm loose-bottomed cake tin with baking parchment. 

Crush the biscuits in a food processor or bowl with the end of a rolling pin. Stir into the melted butter, then evenly press into the bottom of the tin. Chill for 10 mins. 

Reserve 2 tbsp of the dulce de leche in a small bowl and add 2tbsp of the double cream, cover and place in the fridge until ready to decorate . Stir the sea salt into the remainder of the dulce de leche and spoon into the centre of the biscuit base. Gently spread so the base is evenly covered but a visible 1-2cm border of biscuit remains around the edge. Chill for 20 mins while you make the chocolate layer. 

Gently melt the chocolate in a large heatproof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water.  Once the chocolate has melted, turn off the heat but leave the bowl where it is, and gradually stir in the remaining cream until you have a smooth, shiny, thick chocolate sauce. Sift in the icing sugar and stir in with the vanilla extract. Lift off the heat and let the mixture cool for 10 mins. 

Ladle or pour the chocolate mixture around the edge of the torte first, so it fills the biscuit border, sealing the caramel in the centre. Then ladle or pour in the rest and gently shake to smooth the surface. Chill for at least 5 hrs or up to 24 hours until firm. 

Remove the torte from the tin, then carefully peel off the strip of paper and transfer to a serving plate. Dot the chocolates on top. Spoon the reserved dulce de leche mixture into a piping bag with a thin nozzel or freezer bag. Snip off the tiniest tip of the corner to make a very small opening, then squiggle lines of caramel over the top. Chill until ready to serve. Scatter with a pinch or two of sea salt before serving, then thinly slice.

25 Apr 2012

Iconemesis Giveaway

When Iconemesis recently got in tough with me asking to try one of their stunning iPhone cases I was delighted.  Not only was I newly in the market for a new phone case after dropping my beloved Kate Spade cover down the stairs, but I'd been eying up the beautiful designs Iconemesis had on offer for quite some time.

After a long, painstaking decision I finally settled upon the beautiful Birds design by Sarah King.  For some reason I'm always attracted to pretty birdies and the pigeons just called to me.  After all, I am from Newcastle and any Northern stereotype just isn't complete without their pigeons.  All I need now is a flat cap and a whippet.  

Now, this is all well and good I here you say, but what's in it for me? Well, the lovely folk at Iconemesis have given me a case to give away to one of you, dear readers.  All you have to do to be in with winning one of these beautiful cases is pop on over to the Iconemesis website and tell me which design you would like to see adorn your precious iPhone.  Leave your answer in a comment before Sunday May 6th to be in with a chance.  Good luck.

24 Apr 2012

Wasabi & White Chocolate Cupcakes

Last week Kris and I visited a mini chilli and chocolate festival in the wonderful Grainger Market in Newcastle.  The festival was to publicise the annual Chilli Festival held at Seaton Delaval Hall which Pet Lamb are delighted to be a part of.  If the mini fest was anything to go by,the actual event will blow off your socks, in more ways than one!  After seeing the amazing variety of products available I started thinking about which flavours we could incorporate into our cupcakes to make them more suitable for such a spicy event.  We have quite a few surprises up our sleeves but one of my favorites is this, wasabi and white chocolate cupcake.  

For those of you unfamiliar with wasabi, it is an extremely hot condiment used in Japanese cuisine.  Also known as Japanese Horseradish it is most commonly used to add flavour to sushi.  I am a huge fan of wasabi so adding it to a cupcake was a match made in Katie heaven.  The heat is rather subtle giving the cupcake a distinct warmth in the aftertaste.  If you like it spicier, simply add more wasabi!

Wasabi & White Chocolate Cupcakes

175g unsalted butter
175g caster sugar
175g self raising flour
50g plain flour
3 large eggs
1tsp baking powder
1tbsp wasabi paste 
100g white chocolate chips
2tbsp milk

125g Butter
350g icing sugar
3tbsp milk
1tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 180C - 160C fan and line a cupcake tray with 12 liners.
In a large bowl sift together the flours, and baking powder. Set aside.
Place the butter and sugar in an electric mixer and mix until light and creamy. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well between each addition.  Add the flour mixture in one go ensuring all the ingredients are thoroughly combined.  Stir through the milk and wasabi paste before adding the chocolate chips and mixing to combine.

Fill the cupcake liners to 2/3 full and bake for 20 - 25 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Allow to cool in the pan for five minutes before removing to finish cooling on a rack.

For the frosting place the soft butter and icing sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and mix on low to combine.  Still mixing slowly add the milk until you reach the desired consistency.  Pipe or swirl onto each cake and enjoy.

10 Apr 2012

Oatmeal and Raisin Cookies

Kris and I often share stern words while shopping, more often than not this bickering occurs within the confines of the biscuit isle.  Biscuits are where Kris and I differ, wildly.  He's a chocolate covered, caramel filled kinda guy where I'm more of a simple lady favouring fruit and nuts.  Kris always wins this fight and I walk away defeated with a packet of toffee pops in my basket.  I could buy them both, but that means I'll eat them both and that's just naughty!

Recently I imposed a biscuit buying ban on our household, favouring to make my own and freeze the dough in portioned out pieces.  This means I always have freshly baked cookies on hand and they always get to be my choice of flavour.  Until Kris learns to make cookies, that's how things are going to stay ;)

Oatmeal and raisin are my absolute favorite.  I was never, ever allowed them in the house due to Kris' dried fruit repulsion.  That was until I made these babies and forced him to try one.  Now, oatmeal and raisin cookies are a firm favorite.

Oatmeal and Raisin Cookies
(makes 30 cookies)

120g unsalted butter, softened
250g light brown sugar
200g plain flour
2 large eggs
1/2tsp baking powder
1/2tsp baking soda
1tsp cinnamon
250g raisins
375g rolled oats

If baking straight away preheat the oven to 180C and line a cookie sheet with baking parchment.

In the bowl of an electric mixer cream together the butter, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla until smooth. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt together.  Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and stir to combine. Using a wooden spoon stir in the oats and raisins.

If you're like me, you can now roll the dough into walnut sized portions, place on a baking sheet and open freeze in your freezer till hard before transferring them into an airtight container or ziploc bag.   If choosing to bake right away chill the dough in the fridge for 30 minutes before rolling.  Place on the prepared baking sheet for 12 - 15 minutes depending on how gooey you like your cookies. If cooking from frozen add an extra five minutes to your cooking time.

Allow to cook on the cookie sheet for five minutes before transferring to a wire rack to continue cooling or an eager mouth to be devoured instantly!

7 Apr 2012

Chocolate Peanut Brownies

Brownies are one of those bakes I can whip up at a moments notice.  The ingredients are always to hand and they're just so flipping simple to throw together.  I've even got Kris in on the brownie making action, with just a swift text I can arrive home to the welcoming fug of brownies in the air.  It's gotten to the point that a simple brownie just doesn't do it for me any more, I need something special to really get my juices flowing.  I've tried everything but the kitchen sink stirred into that glossy, chocolatey batter but nothing quite beats these peanut butter brownies.  Especially since discovering Sainsburys have launched chocolate chip peanut butter!! This just got serious!

Not a fan of peanut butter, why not give Nutella a try in its place?  Or if you're feeling super naughty, try Marmite, just up the chocolate to 300g and lower the Marmite to 100g.  An acquired taste, some might say!

Chocolate Peanut Brownies
(cuts into 16 squares)

100g butter
200g plain chocolate
200g peanut butter
200g plain flour
200g light brown sugar
3 large eggs
1tsp baking powder
1tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 160C.  Butter and line a 20cm square baking tin with baking parchment.

Melt the butter and chocolate together in a bowl over a pan of simmering water, ensuring that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water.  Add peanut butter to the melted chocolate and stir till smooth.  Beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla in a separate bowl and add the chocolate mixture, stirring to combine.

Whisk the flour and baking powder together before adding to the brownie batter.  Fold in the flour mixture taking care not to over mix, this will cause the brownie to become tough and cakey.

Place in the preheated oven for 30 minutes.  Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out to cool completely on a wire rack.  Cut into bite sized pieces and dig in.

3 Apr 2012

Baked Eggs with Chorizo

The last week or so I've been trying to make a bit more of an effort with breakfast.  Normally I skip this meal all together favouring a cup of tea and a cookie from the freezer (more on that later).  This bad behavior often leads to the even worse behavior of me attacking the fridge come 11am.  Naughty I know!  In a bid to stop my mid morning snack attack I've started to force myself to take a proper breakfast and a way to make myself stick to this regime is to document some of the more tasty morsels on here.  Aren't you a lucky lot!

This morning saw the return of a delicious brunch idea I took from the increasingly twee Rachel Khoo and her Little Paris Kitchen.  Last week she whipped up a yummy looking meal of baked eggs in little tea cups.  Her version saw eggs pared with crème fraîche, nutmeg and dill garnished with lumpfish roe.  Not something my tender little tum could face at 9am so I took the basic premise and added one chopped tomato, sliced chorizo and some double cream.  The resulting dish was painfully delicious, I can see this becoming a staple!

Baked Eggs with Chorizo
(Serves one, easily doubled)

2 large free range eggs
2tbsp double cream
30g sliced chorizo
1 medium tomato, de-seeded and diced
pinch of salt and black pepper

Preheat the oven to 180C and pop a small oven proof dish into a medium roasting pan.  A tapas style dish is the perfect size for this recipe.

Sprinkle the diced tomato over the bottom of your dish followed by the sliced chorizo.  Break your eggs, one at a time, into the dish being careful not to break the yolks.  Drizzle over your double cream and season to taste.

Place the roasting tray containing your eggy dish onto the middle shelf of your oven and using a kettle or jug fill the roasting tray with water until it comes half way up the side of your dish.

Bake for 15 minutes until the whites of your eggs are only just set.  Serve with hunks of sourdough bread slathered in butter.

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