Thursday, 23 June 2016

Ice Cream Cookie Sandwiches


As I am a huge fan of ice cream, finding new ways to enjoy eating it is high on my list of favourite activites. As is discovering new exciting flavours of ice cream. A few days ago I had a jaffa cake flavour one that was very delicious, and now I've been lucky enough* to try Häagen-Dazs' new flavour - Mango & Raspberry. I am already a huge fan of their Salted Caramel flavour (which I highly recommend!) and so I was really looking forward to seeing what the new flavour would be like. I also decided that rather than just eat it alone, I'd sandwich it between two rich chocolate cookies.





















The ice cream is a creamy mango flavour, swirled through with raspberry. To make the cookies I followed a Double Chocolate Cookies recipe I've made before, but added dark chocolate chips instead of white chocolate, and I doubled the recipe to allow for sandwiching!


I creamed together 350g light brown sugar and 150g butter. I then added 2 eggs and 2 tsp vanilla extract and whisked in.


I melted 300g dark chocolate in a glass bowl over gently simmering water.


I added 200g self raising flour and 50g cocoa powder to the mixture, followed by the melted chocolate, and mixed well.


I then added a packet of dark chocolate chips and folded them in. I chilled the mixture for 30 minutes in the fridge.


Using my hands I made small balls out of the mixture and flattened them before placing them on a lined baking tray.


I baked them on 180C/350F/Gas 4 for 12 minutes. I let them cool for 10 minutes on the tray before moving them to a cooling rack.


Once the cookies are fully cool, I loaded one up with Häagen-Dazs Mango & Raspberry ice cream and sandwiched another on top. I also added some fresh raspberries. Wow these were certainly decadent!


You have no choice but to dig right in! The fruity mango & raspberry ice cream is the perfect filling between the dark chocolate cookies. These are a indulgent dessert to end a meal, or a sweet summertime snack. Not that you need hot weather to eat ice cream, I certainly don't!


I am linking up with Recipe of the Week hosted by A Mummy Too.


And Cook Blog Share hosted by Hijacked By Twins.



And finally the Sunday Fitness & Food Link Up hosted by Ilka's Blog and Marathons & Motivation.

*Häagen-Dazs sent me a voucher to purchase the ice cream. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Queen of Puddings Cupcakes



This year in the UK we are celebrating our Queen's 90th Birthday, and of course one of the main focuses of the celebration is food. If you haven't heard of the dessert Queen of Puddings before, it is a lemon breadcrumb base, topped with custard, then jam and finally meringue on top. I am a big fan of turning different types of desserts into cupcakes, and although I've never tried Queen of Puddings, it sounds extremely tasty and perfect for converting into cupcake format! I've used a lemon sponge as the base, filled it with creme patisserie and raspberry jam, and finally topped with Italian meringue. Surely a dessert fit for a Queen!


I started by making the creme patisserie the night before so I could cool it in the fridge overnight. I heated 250ml whole milk with the seeds from a vanilla pod until it reached boiling point. I then took it off the heat and poured into a jug.


In my food mixer I whisked up 3 egg yolks (reserve the egg whites for later) with 70g caster sugar until pale and thick. I added 23g cornflour and mixed that in. I then put the mixer on a medium speed and poured the milk in slowly as it mixed.


I poured the mixture back into the pan and heated it up whilst stirring continuously. When it started to thicken, I started whisking it to keep it smooth and stop any lumps. I put it in a bowl, and covered it with cling film. I made sure the cling film was touching the creme pattiserie so that a skin doesn't form on it. I left it in the fridge overnight to cool.


I only made 8 cupcakes, but the creme patisserie and Italian meringue make enough for double, so I'll give you the quantities for 16. To make the cupcakes I first creamed together 240g butter and 240g caster sugar. I added the zest of 2 lemons and mixed it in.


I then whisked in 4 eggs, mixing between each addition, and finally folded in 240g self raising flour.


I separated the mixture into cupcake cases and baked on 180C/160C Fan/350F/Gas Mark 4 for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.


I left the cupcakes to cool completely.


Using a cupcake corer, and a knife, I made holes in each cupcake.


I filled each hole with the creme patisserie.


 I then covered the creme patisserie with raspberry jam, piling it on top.

 
I then made the Italian meringue. I started with the sugar syrup. I put 170g caster sugar and 95ml water in a pan and let it come to the boil with the lid on. If I noticed any sugar around the edges of the pan I brushed them away with a wet pastry brush. When the mixture boiled I took it off the heat and poured the sugar syrup into a jug.


In a stand mixer I whisked up the 3 egg whites reserved earlier with 1/2 tsp cream of tartar until they reached soft peak stage. Then, keeping the mixer on, I poured the sugar syrup into the meringue. I was careful not to let the sugar syrup hit the side of the bowl. I kept the food mixer running until the bowl felt cool, it had a wonderful fluffy texture and was white and shiny.


I dolloped the meringue on top of each cupcake using a spoon and flicked it around to give it texture.


Then my favourite bit! I got out my kitchen blowtorch and browned the meringue all over.


The cupcakes were so indulgent and delicious. The Italian meringue creates a pillowy soft marshmallow texture on top, and the fruityness of the jam compliments it so well along with the sweetness of the creme patisserie hidden inside. I certainly felt like a Queen as I enjoyed eating this divine dessert!


I am entering these cupcakes into myself and Cakeyboi's challenge Treat Petite, this month's theme is 'Fit For A Queen'.


And into the Food Year Link Up hosted by Charlotte's Lively Kitchen, as these would be perfect for The Alzheimer's Society's Cupcake Day.


And into Tasty Tuesdays hosted by Honest Mum.


And Recipe of the Week hosted by A Mummy Too.


And finally the Sunday Fitness & Food Link Up hosted by Ilka's Blog and Marathons & Motivation.



print recipe

Queen of Puddings Cupcakes
Ingredients
  • 250ml Whole milk
  • 1 Vanilla pod
  • 7 Eggs
  • 480g Caster sugar
  • 23g Cornflour
  • 240g Butter
  • 2 Lemons
  • 240g Self raising flour
  • 95ml Water
  • 1/2 tsp Cream of tartar
  • Raspberry jam
Instructions
To make the creme patisserie, heat the whole milk with the seeds from the vanilla pod until it reaches boiling point. Take off the heat and pour into a jugIn a food mixer, or with an electric whisk, whisk 3 of the yolks from the eggs (reserve the egg whites for later) with 70g of the caster sugar until pale and thick. Add the cornflour and mix inPut the mixer on a medium speed and pour the milk in slowly as it mixesPour the mixture back into the pan and heat it up whilst stirring continuously. When it starts to thicken, whisk it to keep it smooth and stop any lumps. Once thick, put it in a bowl, and covered it with cling film so that the cling film touches the creme pattiserie. Put in the fridge to cool completelyTo make the cupcakes cream together the butter and 240g of the caster sugar. Add the zest of the lemons and mix inWhisk in 4 of the eggs, mixing between each addition, and finally fold in the self raising flourSeparated the mixture into cupcake cases and bake on 180C/160C Fan/350F/Gas Mark 4 for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Leave the cupcakes to cool completelyUsing a cupcake corer, or a knife, make holes in each cupcakeFill each hole with the creme patisserie, then cover the creme patisserie with raspberry jam, piling it on topTo make the Italian meringue put 170g of the caster sugar and the water in a pan and let it come to the boil with the lid on. If you notice any sugar around the edges of the pan brush them away with a wet pastry brush. When the mixture is boiled, take it off the heat and pour the sugar syrup into a jugIn a food mixer or with an electric whisk, whisk up the 3 egg whites reserved earlier with the cream of tartar until they reach soft peak stage. Then, keeping the mixer on, pour the sugar syrup into the meringue. Be careful not to let the sugar syrup hit the side of the bowl. Keep the food mixer running until the bowl feels coolDollop the meringue on top of each cupcake using a spoon and flick it around to give it texture, then use a kitchen blowtorch to brown the meringue all over

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

10 Foodie Tips for Venice



I've recently returned from a short trip to the beautiful and unique city of Venice in Italy. It's been a dream place of mine to visit for as long as I can remember and I had such an amazing time exploring the city. Of course one of the things I was most excited about was the food! So I wanted to share my foodie tips based on my experience in Venice, and I hope they help you enjoy your trip there too, or even inspire you to visit.


1. Head to a local bakery
Dotted around the city you're sure to come upon a bakery. Meringues, 'S' shaped biscuits, strudels, cakes and macarons line the windows. Head on inside to try the delicious treats. We enjoyed some fresh sugar coated mini donuts with raisins inside that were absolutely scrumptious.


2. Try a Spritz!
You'll see people drinking this bright orange drink from wine glasses, and it really is the drink of the city. It's most commonly served with ice and a slice of orange, sometimes you'll get an olive in it too. The flavour is bitter orange, it reminded me of the cocktail Negroni.


3. Gelato comes in lots of flavours
So try as many as you can! Trust me - it's worth it. We got a different flavour every time we visited a gelato counter and in 3 days we managed 12 flavours! The scoop size is fairly modest and you're on holiday so why not! I also saw vegan friendly gelatarias if you don't eat dairy.


4. Take your time
Meals tend to be eaten later in Venice, for example breakfast in our hotel was served 8 - 12. So take it easy and enjoy a leisurely meal as the Italian tradition is to take your time and really enjoy your food.


5. Eat Seafood
If you eat seafood like I do, then take advantage of how fresh and plentiful the seafood options are in Venice. Every menu I saw was packed with options from the more well known like calamari and lobster, to the more exotic like octopus and squid ink pasta.


6. Avoid the restaurants in Piazza San Marco
During my research for this trip I constantly came across warnings about the restaurants and cafes directly in and around Piazza San Marco (St Mark's Square). I've read stories about being charged for sitting down, and a bill for 100 for 4 coffees! I've not experienced anything like this myself, but personally I'd rather not take the risk.


7. Grab a slice...
Of pizza! There are so many toppings to choose from and the slices are reasonably prized and generously sized. It'd be rude not to! We shared a delicious slice of spinach and ricotta pizza for 2.50.


8. Cicchetti
Also known as tapas, this is the Italian version of small bites of food and it's worth checking out for authentic Venetian flavours. They are also great value for money! We didn't get a chance to try any as the restaurant we were recommended was so busy people were stood outside on the street eating (a good sign I know, but we wanted to sit down after walking all day), so it's high on my list for next time.


9. Take it home
The pasta section the supermarket near our hotel was the biggest pasta section I've ever seen, and also the most diverse. We grabbed the pasta haul above to take home with us, which includes red wine flavoured pasta and rainbow coloured pasta. I also saw lemon flavour, and orange and paprika flavour pasta. I wish I had a bigger suitcase!


10. Enjoy a drink
Drinking alcohol in Venice is a relatively low cost pursuit, so it was nice to treat ourselves for a few days whilst we were on holiday. I enjoyed a glass of prosecco with a meal for only €2.50 and we found 3 bottles of beer in the supermarket for under €2! When eating cicchetti (see tip 8) you can also often get a deal where a glass of wine is included in the meal price.

And one final bonus tip...
If you go to Venice I highly recommend the hotel we stayed in, Ca Maria Adele, it really was very beautiful and the service was excellent!