Melting moments and surprises

I always thought that melting moments would be super tricky to make. It wasn’t until late last year that I came to realise just how easy they are. And I was pleasantly surprised! This recipe produces beautiful, soft little biscuits which (as the name suggests) melt away in your mouth.

Mid-way through making these alabaster beauties the front door-bell was rung quite fiercely. I broke away from rolling the dough IMG_4799and answered the door, doughy-handed. I’ll cut out the boring bits (like polite chatter with the mailman and the unwrapping) and tell you that in the big box that arrived with the mailman came my very own KitchenAid mixer. For whatever reason, the Boy took it upon himself to surprise me with it! I’m amazingly grateful… and super keen to use it!!

Norman partook in the celebrations by attempting to eat the little packaging puffs. Then he spat them out, then tried to eat them
again. He ended up in the box full of them and made himself quite comfy!

I won’t gush any further, but it will hopefully feature in upcoming blogs. It’s so beautiful I could die!

I’m hoping it will also improve the quality of my baking (especially meringues, which are the bane of my life!)

Biscuits:

plate

  • 250g butter, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • ½ cup icing sugar
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1/3 cup cornflour

Filling:

  • 60g butter, softened
  • 1 passionfruit
  • 1 – 1 ½ cups icing sugar

MixPreheat oven to 160°C and line a large tray with baking paper. If your baking paper is disobedient, dab a few spots of butter in the corners of the tray and use that to keep the baking paper down.

Cream butter, vanilla and icing sugar together until smooth and creamy – it should change in colour
slightly. Sift the flours into the butter mixture and mix until you get a soft dough. When you scoop a spoonful out of the mixture it should look like ice cream – solid, but soft at the same time.

Measure out heaped teaspoonfuls of mixture and roll them into small balls, lining them up on the baking paper as you go. Don’t worry if the balls aren’t perfect, they’ll smooth out even further when they’re in the oven. icecream

press 1When you have a tray full of soft doughy spheres, grab a fork and use it to lightly flatten them, pressing a pattern into them as you go. To avoid messing up the pattern or the smooth dough, pull the fork out towards you after you’ve pressed them down.
icingBake for 15 minutes and make the passionfruit filling while they’re in the oven. Beat the butter and icing sugar together, then mix in the passionfruit pulp. Take the biscuits out of the oven and transfer the biscuits to a wire rack to cool. Even if they don’t look done after 15 minutes, they are – you don’t want them to brown like you generally would a biscuit, these biccies are beautiful and pale. Once the biscuits are cool spread a teaspoon of passionfruit filling onto one biscuit and sandwich it with a second.

You can substitute the passionfruit for any other fruit of your choosing. Experiment – let me know what filling you use!

You should get about 28 individual biscuits, which will make 14 melting moments. You might want to double this recipe though, they don’t last long! passionfruit

Chocolate custard tart and winter weather

It is heater weather at the moment, which is a perfect excuse for me to bake; I love filling the house with warm, delicious smells! This custard tart is delicious served warm or cold, and tastes just as delicious one or two days later…if it lasts that long.

The cinnamon in the chocolate custard gives it a little kick of warmth, which is delightful as the need for electric blankets and heaters increases. Norman is relishing the new heater in our house – he stands so close to it that I worry about him singeing his fur! If Norman was allowed chocolate I’m sure he would demolish this custard tart!

eyesyawn

Chocolate custard tart:

  • 2 sheets ready-made shortcrust pastry (even though I used puff)slice
  • ½ cup caster sugar
  • 3 free-range egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • 250ml/9fl oz whole milk
  • 100g/3½oz dark chocolate
  • 1 tbsp cocoa
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 250g strawberries

Preheat your oven to 200°C and grease a shallow 26 cm pie dish.

pastryDrape your sheets of pastry over your pie dish so that they cover as much of it as possible. This recipe is probably more suited to shortcrust pastry, but I was craving puff pastry! Trim the edges so and use the excess to fill in any gaps that may remain. Press together the pastry at any point where there is a join. Cover the pie with baking paper and pop it into the oven with either baking weights or rice to weight it down for 15 minutes.

I love my baking weights, I think they’re beautiful!baking weights

While the pastry is baking, whisk the sugar, eggs and cornflour together in a bowl and set them to one side.

Put the milk in a small pan along with the chocolate, cocoa and cinnamon over a medium heat. Once the ingredients have combined turn the heat up and bring chocolate mix to boil. Allow to boil for about two minutes, stirring it regularly so it doesn’t burn, then remove from heat.

Take your pastry out the oven and set it to one side to cool.

Allow the chocolate mixture to cool for five minutes before adding the egg mixture to the pan and returning it to the heat. Whisk the chocolate mixture to remove any lumps and allow it to thicken. Remove the custard from the heat and allow it to cool slightly.

chocolatePour the warm custard into your base, (spreading it out as evenly as possible) and return it to the oven for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, chop the tops off the strawberries and slice them thinly in preparation for when the tart comes out of the oven. When you do remove the tart from the oven, work quickly, fanning the strawberries out around the tart, making sure each slice overlaps the last one slightly.

strawbs

As you’re doing this, press them into the custard lightly so that they stay in place.

overlaptart

To serve you can glaze with a syrup made from 1 tbsp strawberry jam and ¼ cup water heated over the stove and brushed onto the strawberries, or simply sprinkle with icing sugar.

wholeflowers

Madeleines and perfection

Wednesday was one of those days where everything just seemed to work.

Friends and I went op-shopping for plates and utensils to pretty up the blog, I was given home-made croissant dough to have a play with (because I’ve never made my own before), I found lots of new recipes and I ate some delicious food. (I Instagrammed it all, it must be true)

And to finish the perfect day off, I went to see Maeve O’Meara host a chat with Lorraine Elliot (better known as Not Quite Nigella!!) – it was so lovely! Lorraine was humble and completely adorable. She was generous with her tips for bakers and bloggers and the audience chatted to her freely. Most of the people in the audience knew intimate details of Lorraine’s life, which I suppose comes with choosing to be a blogger, so she spoke candidly about almost everything!

I also came home to delivery of new measuring spoons in the mail – Wednesday was perfection!

To celebrate my Wednesday (and share the celebrating with you all), here is my madeleine recipe.

This recipe, like my Wednesday, just works. The flavours are beautiful, soft and worth savouring. If you’ve never tried orange blossom water before, let this be the recipe that you amend this – it’s like bathing in gardenias, like swimming in blossoms.

Neither of those descriptions do it justice. This smell makes me long for the orange tree that used to grow in my backyard. Orange blossom water smells and tastes like my childhood.

I just Googled madeleines and it turns out that ‘madeleine’ is used in Proust’s In Search of Lost Time, to refer to something that evokes a memory or is a source of nostalgia. How neatly Proust just rounded off this evening’s recipe musings.

Orange blossom water may be a little bit hard to procure, but I promise every drop of this delightfully intoxicating little liquid is worth it.

Orange Blossom Madeleines:Madeleines (2)

  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup plain flour
  • 45g melted butter
  • 3 tsp orange blossom water

Preheat your oven to 180°C. Whisk together the eggs and sugar with a mixer until foamy, this should take about 2-3 minutes. Melt your butter in the microwave while the mixture foams up.

Butter stack

Take out the whisk element and slowly sift in the flour, then mix in gently using a wooden spoon.

Add the melted butter and orange blossom water to the mixture. If you’re unsure about the orange blossom water – despite my best attempts to entice you – try cutting back two one or two teaspoons and just to test it out. Or, if you’d prefer to be completely unadventurous, replace the orange blossom water with some lemon zest, coconut essence or rum.

Spoons

Before you grease anything, marvel at how beautiful the madeleine tins are for a second. Aren’t they just gorgeous?!

batter and tinsLiberally grease your madeleine tin with butter and fill them about 3/4 of the way up. When I say liberally, I mean lather your tin up, because these little ladies like to stay in their tins. Refrigerate your filled madeleine tins for about an hour if you’ve got the time (I got impatient and took them out after half an hour with no adverse affects.)

Place them in the oven and cook them for about 12 minutes, when the edges turn golden.

Allow to cool and sprinkle with a little bit of icing sugar.

Enjoy with tea and friends.