Tuesday, 28 April 2009

lemon meringue pie cupcakes. word.

since the purchase of two exceptionally expensive for their size (4") tart rings I have been going tart crazy! rhubarb & custard tart with pistachio crumble, cherry tarts with ginger nut streusel and dark chocolate lemon tarts to name but three. mmmmm and hmmmmm! the last tart I made was a challenge set by a friend, whose mother apparently makes a mean lemon meringue pie, and so I stepped up! i bought jim fobel's book aeons ago and until now have only taken it down to read and sigh at, but I knew that this little puppy would be my go to book for a decent pie recipe. mainly because i judge books by their cover and have not been proved wrong here. the filling is totally delicious, not too sweet not too tart and his basic pastry is scrummy, just flaky enough. i made four mini pies for lunch dessert, and with the left over lemon filling I just had to make cupcakes of course! i used the basic magnolia vanilla cupcake recipe, removing a cone of cake once baked. I filled the hole with the yummy lemonyness and popped the trimmed cone lid back on. I then made up the meringue mix, and using a star tipped piping bag did some fancy meringue swirls on top of the cupcakes. I find that if you do a 'base' of icing swirl, then another on top of the you get a more even cover. then you just have to pop the cupcakes back in the oven for a few minutes to bake the meringue and you are done....though I did get fancy and used my kitchen blowtorch to add some deeper colour to the meringue for schmanciness! OH and LOOK I have a website! most exciting. so far it consists of but one page, but I have more on the way, perhaps even 2 or 3 pages! essentially I needed to get my act together and this is phase 2 (phase 1 was business cards from moo, i love moo). so I am getting together all my treats and delights to pop up on the site for perspective perusals and purchases (I hope!)

Monday, 27 April 2009

daring bakers challenge: my first and a cheesecake!

so very exciting indeed! I am now a member of the Daring Bakers! very pleasing and one of the reasons I got interested in blogging the first place; after seeing that most of my daily blog reads were members I did some investigatory work and finally de-lurked to sign up!
the april 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge. with my first challenge being cheesecake, I was more than happy to have a go, a nice introduction indeed! the recipe makes 1x8" cheesecake, which was more than happily gobbled right on down by my work mates. the recipe is quite different to the normal baked cheesecake recipe I use so it was great to try out a new one, and I must say it is superbly divine!
the alterations I made was to make an Oreo cookie base, to which I REALLY wanted to add popping candy (have done this before to great success) but alas none was to be found, moop :( next time! :) next I removed 2 cups of the filling, poured the remainder over the set base, then mixed the 2 cups worth with 2oz of melted dark chocolate. I then piped this back into the cheesecake in balls** to make polka-dots, which I had seen in a magazine during the week and just had to try out, it was pleasingly successful (thank goodness!). lastly I made a chocolate ganache and poured this over the baked cheesecake, before leaving to set in the fridge overnight.
Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake:
2 cups / 180 g graham cracker crumbs
1 stick / 4 oz butter, melted
2 tbsp. / 24 g sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 sticks of cream cheese, 8 oz each (total of 24 oz) room temperature
1 cup / 210 g sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup / 8 oz heavy cream
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. vanilla extract (or the innards of a vanilla bean)
1 tbsp liqueur, optional, but choose what will work well with your cheesecake
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (Gas Mark 4 = 180C = Moderate heat). Begin to boil a large pot of water for the water bath.
2. Mix together the crust ingredients and press into your preferred pan. You can press the crust just into the bottom, or up the sides of the pan too - baker's choice. Set crust aside.
3. Combine cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand-mixer (or in a large bowl if using a hand-mixer) and cream together until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Make sure to scrape down the bowl in between each egg. Add heavy cream, vanilla, lemon juice, and alcohol and blend until smooth and creamy.
4. Pour batter into prepared crust and tap the pan on the counter a few times to bring all air bubbles to the surface. Place pan into a larger pan and pour boiling water into the larger pan until halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan. If cheesecake pan is not airtight, cover bottom securely with foil before adding water.
5. Bake 45 to 55 minutes, until it is almost done - this can be hard to judge, but you're looking for the cake to hold together, but still have a lot of jiggle to it in the center. You don't want it to be completely firm at this stage. Close the oven door, turn the heat off, and let rest in the cooling oven for one hour. This lets the cake finish cooking and cool down gently enough so that it won't crack on the top. After one hour, remove cheesecake from oven and lift carefully out of water bath. Let it finish cooling on the counter, and then cover and put in the fridge to chill. Once fully chilled, it is ready to serve.
**polka-dotting, an almost how to: thought I should update my post to include an attempt at a guide to creating the dots in the cheesecake.
I removed 2 cups worth of the plain batter, and mixed it with 2oz melted dark (73%) chocolate. I poured this into a piping bag with a 1/2" tip...then to create the dots. Insert the tip of the bag about 1/4-1/2" into the top of the cheesecake, starting in the centre. Squeeze out enough batter to make a 2" round ball - now this bit is down to confidence and guesswork.
I used the same piping technique as when piping truffles, firmly hold the bag and pipe anti-clockwise with a gentle pressure, whilst moving the bag up at the same time. I tried to imagine I was piping the filling into a ping-pong ball if that makes sense, visualising the dots!
Repeat the dotting as many times as you want, most recipes I saw on the net said to be all symmetrical but I don't go in for all that and like the randomness of mine. BUT do not be afraid, do not fear the dot...I had not done this before and did freak a bit as I was about to pipe but all was well in the end! here is a pic of the pre-baking just dotted cake if it helps too... elle x

Thursday, 9 April 2009

chocolate earl grey tea cookies

tea? anyone? coookie? yes? good. ingredients 2 cups plain flour 1/2 cup cocoa 1/2 cup caster sugar 1/2 cup icing sugar 6 earl grey teabags worth of tea (about 2 tbsps if loose already) 1/2 tsp salt 1 tsp vanilla extract 1 cup (225g) unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces cold water method 1. whizz up all the dry ingredients in a food processor, this will also break down the tea at the same time 2. add the vanilla and butter, pulse, then add the water a tiny drizzle at a time until the dough comes together - keep it dry rather than wet, about 1 tsp water is enough 3. tip out mix onto some baking paper, bring together, shape into a log and wrap in the paper. Pop in the fridge for a minimum of 30 minutes - preheat oven to 190C (180C if your oven is hot hot hot like mine) 4. remove the cookie log from the fridge and slice into discs, about 1/2 inch wide 5. place on baking paper on trays and bake in the centre of the oven for 8-10 minutes; remove and allow to cool completely on the baking paper on some cooling racks before devouring with a nice cup-o-tea!