Sunday, 20 February 2011

Coffee and Heath (Dime) Bar Cake - The Cake Slice Bakers February 2011

I am very excited to have been able to join The Cake Slice Bakers group! Thank you for having me. It’s a fabulous idea, the group chooses a cookbook and bakes something from it every month for a year. Given my tendency to ‘cook’ books, it just sounds just perfect for me.
Ready to go.
The book that the group is baking from now until September this year, is Cake Keeper Cakes by Lauren Chattman. A book brimming with lovely American cakes.
Ready to bake in the oven.
The chosen cake this month comes from the Crumb Cakes chapter and is a Coffee Heath Bar Crunch Cake. Now, some US coffee cakes don’t have any coffee in them, but are meant to be served with a cup of coffee. This one actually does have a coffee sponge cake with a streusel topping on top. Grinding the coffee and Daim (Dime) Bars for chopping
I made a couple of substitutions, I can’t take shakey caffinated coffee at all, so de-cafe coffee granules, which I ground in a pestle and mortar to powder – instead of espresso powder, and also 5 Dime (Daim) bars for 4 American Heath bars. They will always be Dime bars to me! Lovely cake, very moist and the crunchy topping of toffee and chocolate was fabulous. A couple of days later the little bit that was left became even more moist and the topping less crunchy, but when leftover slices were heated up in the microwave brifely the topping became nice and gooey. My cake was eaten for a pudding and some eaters wanted cream with it and some didn’t. I preferred it without, to let every bit of the coffee-toffee-chocolate flavours come through.
The crispy bits fround the edge were so delicious.
Do check out the Cake Slice Bakers Blogroll for more gorgeous takes on this lovely cake. Can’t wait for next months one!
Care for a slice?
Next post: Book review and first cooks from The Hairy Bikers Mum’s Still Know Best.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Third Helpings of Nigella Lawson’s Kitchen

Red Velvet Cake

Next instalment of cooking from Kitchen Recipes form the Heart of the Home by Nigella Laswon. I’m still happily cooking from it, so do expect more in the future!

Sweet and Sour Chicken
I’ve made this one several times now, it a fast route to sweet and sour chicken, easily done on a busy weeknight. This is not least because the sauce is just stirred together in a jug before actually cooking it. It’s not the same as Ching-He Huang’s one that I make, but then it in turn isn’t as easy for a weeknight either – so they both have their place in my kitchen

Baked Seafood
I just did this with prawns, because that as what looked best on the day I made it, think I’ll add in some salmon next time too. It was good, the pan juices really made it.

Chocolate Orange Loaf Cake
Well I don’t suppose it’s much of a surprise that we loved this one given our liking for the pairing of chocolate and orange. It disappeared quickly – not even a slice left for next day.

Cheesy Chilli
Wouldn’t make this one again. It didn’t work for me on three levels, the chilli itself was not flavourful enough, the cheese was bland here, and it in turn made the whole chilli a bit water-y. Can’t love them all.

Bolognese Risotto
This one by contrast was absolutely superb. The mix bubbles ferociously when the meat sauce is added, and do watch it doesn’t spark you, as I got a little burn. Still, it is so worth making, I used beef stock and missed out the anchovies- and it was so just so good.
Risotto Cakes
I had a bit of leftovers so made the risotto cakes appended to the recipe, and although they weren’t as good as the initial risotto (but that would have very hard really), they were a nice supper to use up what was left.

Bacon and Egg Salad
I’ve been making this for ages, a go to lunch. Nigella’s method for boiling eggs works a treat, they are a good texture. I do my boiled eggs a la Nigella now.

Franks in Blanks
Don’t make these if you are on a diet – they are oddly compulsive. Nigella does warn us of this in her introduction, and it’s true. I’ve made (although assembled is more like it) these so many times both with full fat puff pastry and also the lower fat puff that has appeared in the shops recently. Both were good. We did try the mustard dipping sauce, but it blew my head off with its fiery intensity. On two or three occasions I did try watering the heat down a bit, but in our house Heinz tomato ketchup is the order of the day apparently!

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cheesecake
This is very very rich. Too rich for my tastes, and I’m not averse to butter and cream. It did have a lovely texture though. Hubby really disliked it, so won’t do this one again.

Korean Keema
Oh how I’m addicted to this. I’ve surprised myself, being a self confessed chilli wimp. If I haven’t made this for a couple of weeks I feel I must have it again. Pretty healthy too.

Chorizo and Chicken Bake
This one is very easy and full of flavour. A green vegetable and your are set for a feast.

Red Velvet Cake
I’ve posted about this recipe as cupcakes before, and this is it in cake form. I made for a Birthday cake, as was requested, and it’s just as good in cake form. You can really see the red this way. I decorated it with sprinkles and edible glitter, would be nice as a Christmas time party cake too. I thought it was beautiful!
Next Up: Cake Slice Bakers, very excited to be baking with this group!
Followed by my Next Review : The Hairy Bikers new one: Mum’s Still Know Best by Si King and Dave Myers. I've made a few recieps from this one already, and looking forward th sharing with you.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Macarons by Annie Rigg – Book Review

I seem to have a bit of a macaron obsession going on at the moment, this is my 9th macaron cookbook (!) and a lovely little one it is too. Macarons Chic & Delicious French Treats by Annie Rigg, published by Ryland, Peters and Small in January 2011 (64 pages).
Annie Rigg is a new author to me, and I found this one after being given her Gifts for Cooks in December. I’ve followed it up with her Holiday Cupcakes (fabulous ideas there, will come back to the one later in the year) and have also pre-ordered her ‘Fabulous Brownies’ book due out in April 2011.
This book is done as many macaron books are – with a basic recipe at the beginning that is used throughout the main flavour variation recipes. There is a step by step with this main recipe. It’s for macarons made by using an electric whisk and processor, but doesn’t need the sugar syrup that some other books recipes do. You’ll need a piping bag too.
Pages are very nicely done, and there are pictures of all the main macarons recipes. Annie gives some more ideas of mix and match combinations of shells and fillings from throughout the book which are not pictured. Measurements are metric and U.S. The only thing I think the author should have done that she hasn’t in this book is to say that when you are colouring the macaron mixture that you need to make it darker than you want it to be when baked.
Chapters are: The Basics * Fruit & Flowers * Coffee, Caramel & Chocolate * Nuts & Spice and all Things Nice.

The first one I’ve tried was her mint and dark chocolate macarons, which I changed by adding some peppermint extract to the filling as it wasn’t quite strong enough for us with just a mint infused syrup mixed with chocolate. It was a delicious macaron though, and something a little different to have after dinner either with or instead of chocolates. I didn’t colour the mix a strong enough green, so my macarons were a mild green colour, but I live and learn.
The author provides some gorgeous sounding recipes for example: Blueberry and Vanilla, Cappucino, Coconut and Mango or Violet creams.
Next up on my list are Chocolate and Passion Fruit macarons, Strawberries and Cream macarons and Blackberry and Apple ones which have two different coloured shells, violet and green with a crème patesserie and fruit filling.

A little note for regular readers. I’m still doing my multiple pictured usual format posts, but wanted to find a way to include lots of books that I like - and still be able to fit my clothes! So you’ll now also find review posts like this one, with just one or two pictures, as well as the norm.
Next up: Third helpings from Nigella Kitchen.