Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Gingerbread Cookies

Nothing says christmas like freshly baked gingerbread cookies. Paired with a steaming mug of hot chocolate topped with whipped cream and marshamllows, these soft and chewy gingerbread cookies make the perfect accompaniment. 

Ingredients
  • 350g plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 3 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 115g butter, cubed
  • 175g soft light brown sugar
  • 5 tablespoons golden syrup
  • 1 egg, beaten



Method
  • Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 5 and lay parchment paper on a few baking trays ready for the biscuits 
  • Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and ground ginger into a large bowl.Rub in the butter with your fingertips until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs; stir in sugar. Beat syrup into egg then stir into flour mixture.
  • Knead the dough until smooth. Roll out to 1/2 cm thick on a lightly floured surface; stamp or cut out desired gingerbread men shapes.
  • Bake in the preheated oven until golden and puffed, about 10-12 minutes. Let them sit on the tray for a few minutes before moving to a wire rack.
  • Allow the cookies to cool completely before decorating with royal icing

Royal Icing Ingredients
  • 1 egg white
  • 225g icing sugar sifted
  • Food colouring of your choice

Method
  • Place the egg white in a clean bowl and whisk using an electric mixer until soft peaks are formed
  • Slowly add the icing sugar into the egg whites and continue mixing for another 5 minutes until the icing has the consistency of toothpaste. 
  • Pour the mixture into a piping bag and start decorating! 


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Friday, 18 November 2016

Chocolate Workshop - Cocoa Amore

I could eat chocolate all day, everyday! Unhealthy I know - but I open a bar of chocolate and within a few minutes its gone. Every. Single. Time.

Having visited Cocoa Amore before with my friend Fatima (check out her awesome blog here) we had put the chocolate making workshop on our bucketlist which offers a chance to learn the history of chocolate, make a bag of truffles, and a box of your own chocolates to take home. Little did I know she was going to surprise me with this for my birthday seeing as she didn't tell me where she was taking me until we were outside the shop!

When we arrived, we were greeted with the owner, Pete Gardener who led us upstairs and told us the overview of the session and all the things we were going to learn. This started off with a brief history of chocolate where we were shown the cocoa pods, the different processes required to make chocolates and best of all we got to taste various types of chocolates from across the world.



We were also told quite a few interesting facts about the cocoa bean and how valuable it was to the Mayan and Aztec people as they used cocoa beans as their currency and to put it into perspective for you, 200 beans = a female slave and 300 beans = a Turkey. Not quite sure why a Turkey was more expensive than a female slave but hey..

Now on to the most exciting part, the chocolate making. First, we started off by making truffles where the ganache is made with 2 parts chocolate to 1 part boiled cream and then cooled. We rolled these up into balls, gave them a thin coating of tempered chocolate and then rolled them in cocoa. They're actually harder to make neat than it looks but here's my attempt.

Lets just say I was going for the rustic look


Next, we got to make moulded chocolates with any flavoured ganache filling of our choice - and trust me, there was a whole load of weird wonderful flavours you could choose from. For this process we started off with choosing our moulds. I chose a cocoa bean shaped mould which we had to polish first with a paper towel to get rid of any residue or finger prints that may have been left there. Therafter, we filled the mould to the top with chocolate. 



After having done this, I scraped the excess chocolate off the top of the mould, and then hit it on the work surface to allowed the bubbles to rise to the surface. After this has settled, we then flipped the mould over to allow the excess chocolate drip off, leaving a shell of chocolate ready to be filled with ganache. 

Now for the bit where I felt a little like Heston Blumenthal, I was able to choose whatever flavours I wanted for the ganache filling. Choosing was the most difficult bit as I wanted to try everything! They had an array of interesting flavours such as Tomato, Fennel, Wasabi and even Hay. I thought I'd give the Hay a miss this time and instead chose the three flavours of Burnt Sugar, Breadcrusts and Rhubarb - I was going for a rhubarb crumble/ rhubard bread and butter pudding theme. 




Filling the chocolate shells with ganache

Once these shells were filled with ganache and cooled, the 'foot' which is the bottom of the chocolate was then added and after a little wait they were ready to be unmoulded. 


Done - Finished off with a dusting of gold lustre



And now here for a few extra pictures 


Banana hot chocolate 




 I would recommend this to any of you chocolate lovers out there as its a fun experience where you get to experiment with flavours, learn the history of chocolate and the best bit - you get to eat. This course was honestly so enjoyable and thanks so much to Fatima for thinking of such a thoughtful gift she knew I'd love!


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Monday, 3 October 2016

White Chocolate & Pistachio Cookies


Having tried the Marks and Spencer White Chocolate, Cranberry and Pistachio cookies which I can demolish in a matter of minutes, I decided to have a go and try to recreate these cookies and they turned out a success! Best of all they're pretty simple to make and you can replace the pistachios with any other nuts or anything else you'd like.





INGREDIENTS 
  • 125g Butter
  • 100g Soft Brown Sugar
  • 100g Caster Sugar
  • 1 Egg beaten 
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Essence
  • 225g Self Raising Flour
  • 120g Salted Pistachios roughly chopped
  • 80g White Chocolate chunks

METHOD
  • Pre-heat the oven to 180°c / gas 4 
  • Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla
  • Sift in the flour then stir in the pistachio and white chocolate chunks
  • Roll into walnut sized pieces and place on grease proof paper a few cm's away from each other as they will expand when baking
  • For a softer more doughy cookie, bake for 7-8 minutes until the edges are just set and the centre is still soft. For a firmer crispier cookie, bake for around 12 minutes until golden brown and enjoy!







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