Monthly Archives: March 2013

9. Chocolate and Praline Traybake

This week I opted for another recipe from the GBBO book, chocolate praline traybake, and feeling brave it was a recipe without a picture, duh duh duhhhhhhhh! First hurdle was to purchase blanched almonds but, alas, there were none so I decided to try and blanch my own (not recommended, if they are available then just pay the extra 40p).

Hazelnuts

Hazelnuts

I read a through a few methods online and decided to go with putting them in the oven for about 10 minutes until the skins ‘fell’ off. Some did fall off, some didn’t budge at all, but after rolling them in a tea towel and picking skins off I got them relatively ‘blanched’ (i.e. peeled).

'Blanched' Hazelnuts

‘Blanched’ Hazelnuts

I then roasted them and while they were doing I whisked 6 egg whites into soft peaks to start the sponge mixture. I took a picture because I thought the peaks looked funny!

Whisked egg whites

Whisked egg whites

I added sugar, flour, cocoa, and the ground hazelnuts (ground by hand as this was yet another recipe calling for a food processor – I really must get one!) to the egg whites, folded together and added to my prepared tin.

Unbaked traybake

Unbaked traybake

This went in the oven for just under 20 minutes until firm to touch.

Baked tryabake

Baked traybake

Untopped close up

Untopped close up

Meanwhile, I attempted to make the praline topper from hazelnuts and caster sugar. I melted down the sugar with the nuts, heated rapidly until coloured and poured onto an oiled tray. The instructions for this were a bit vague but I gave it a go.

Praline

Praline

Once cool, I snapped it into shards, one to top each slice of the traybake.

Toppers

Toppers

I then thought I’d try a bit to see what it was like. It was rank. Like really, really not good. Which was a shame because it would have looked pretty cool, but there was no way I was putting that on the cakes! So in the bin it went. I guess I burnt it, I know sugar so easily burns, I’d like to try it again but I didn’t have enough ingredients at this time.

I then made the topping by melting down chocolate and butter.

Topping

Topping

Once the sponge was cooled I added the topping and through the lack of praline toppers I added sprinkles instead!

IMG_1733

Topped close up

Topped close up

Once set, I cut into squares and ate! Not all of it mind… just one square with a cuppa.

Fini!

Fini!

Nom noms!

Nom noms!

Taste test: gooooood! Did taste of praline and I was still disappointed the toppers got binned but the sprinkles were a good substitute. I would like to try again sometime, even if I just make the praline properly.

8. Pecan Pie

This week I decided to make pecan pie. I’m quite intrigued by american ‘pies’ as they always look like they’d be too much – too dense and sweet and filling – however they are obviously very popular so I thought I’d give one a go!

I started by making the shortcrust pastry, wrapping it in clingfilm and chilling it.

Pastry

Pastry

Once chilled, I rolled it out and after about 10 attempts, got it in the tin. Shortcrust is always a bit hit and miss for me – either too wet or too dry or not cold enough etc etc. It was a bit of a dodgy base but I filled over the cracks!

Unbaked Case

Unbaked Case

Whilst the pastry was baking blind, I started on the filling. It was basically a mix of things that are bad for you (like butter and golden syrup) melted down and boiled rapidly for a minute.

Start of the filling

Start of the filling

Boiling filling

Boiling filling

I then chopped and stirred in a LOT of pecans.

Pecans!

Pecans!

Filling with pecans

Filling with pecans

After the case was out the oven and cooled, I poured in the mixture and put in the oven to bake.

Filled, unbaked case

Filled, unbaked case

Before putting in the oven I was meant to decorate with the reserved pecans I had put aside but I didn’t read the recipe properly and it was too late by the time I realised! Grrrrr! I would also like to say at this point it smelt amazing!

Filled, baked case

Filled, baked case

So I decorated it after instead and stuck on the pecans with maple syrup and dusted with icing sugar.

IMG_1668

Finished pie

Finished pie

Close up

Close up

I took the pie home for the weekend so my family could be testers – it didn’t last long!

Close up filling

Close up filling

 

7. Eclairs

First off any followers – I’ve just updated my last post as a couple of chunks were missing and it didn’t really make sense. Anyway, this week I decided to face my fear of choux pastry with eclairs and it turns out my fears were not unfounded!I brought the butter and water to the boil and added the flour and beat it together which was meant to resemble a ball. It didn’t…

The 'not a ball' mix

The ‘not a ball’ mix

I left it to cool anyway and then added the eggs. Then it was meant to be a glossy mix that was pipeable. It wasn’t. It was far far too runny to pipe so I added a little flour. Then a mittle more. Then some more. And more… Until I thought this is not right at all but still decided that *maybe* I could pipe it. I thought maybe because the large eggs were very large they made it too runny. So I did try to pipe it and er…

Sloppy eclairs

Sloppy eclairs

…not great. I put them in the oven anyway and out came…

Umm...

Umm…

Yes I know. WTF?! As was pointed out to me – they look like pasties. While these monstrosities were cooking and I was lounging in front of the Wizard of Oz I was going back over the recipe in my head. And when I checked it… 150ml of water not 250ml! 150ml!!! Ahhhh poo! At least I know where it went wrong and it’s not just that I’m totally incompetent! Except at reading recipes clearly. Back to the drawing board…

The 'ball' mix

The ‘ball’ mix

An actual ball this time. Followed by a glossy mix with egg…

Glossy this time!

Glossy this time!

Which was much easier to pipe!

Better piped eclairs

Better piped eclairs

And once baked, would you Adam and Eve it…

Woo for choux!

Woo for choux!

Close up

Close up

…they looked like something resembling eclairs!

Then I whipped up some double cream, added a bit of icing sugar and once the pastry was cool I piped the cream in.

With cream in

With cream in

With chocolate on

With chocolate on

Once set they were all done and here they are!

Nom noms

Nom noms

They were actually not too difficult (if you read the recipe correctly) and quick to do but I think will be a lot harder to get looking porfessional – maybe next time!

Much better tasting that the ones from the shop in my opinion – softer and fresher tasting. They can sometimes be a bit chewy shop bought. They’re not very sweet either which makes it easier to eat more than one! Would also be nice with milk chocolate I think – maybe I’ll try that too.

6. White Chocolate and Summer Fruit Blondies

This week I decided to make some brownies but having done unorginal chocolate (and various variations) many times before I thought I’d try something a bit different. I had a look through a brownie book that my parents bought me a while back and decided on a white chocolate and raspberry recipe.

So Sunday afternoon I popped to Sainsburys to stock up on ingredients but alas, no raspberries. No worries thought I, they do frozen fruit these days. Oh, no raspberries. Ok, I’ll try Tesco, striaght to the fresh fruit and ah… no raspberries. Well they’ll definitely have frozen ones, then bing bong ‘this store will be closing in 5 minutes’ (me ‘goddam Sunday opening hours!’) and in the frozen section, you guessed it, no raspberries! Ahhh! No book with me to get another recipe (I don’t really trust the Internet for baking recipes FYI, especially when the ingedients are in cups!) and no time to go home and replan. They did however have frozen mixed summer fruits (containing raspberries) which I decided was going to be the best I was going to get.

Yes, I know what your thinking, idiot. In my defence I don’t really eat fruit hence me having no idea what is and isn’t in season. I have since been chastised and have learnt my lesson!

Anyway – once home I picked out all the raspberries from the mix and didn’t have enough so added some blackberries. The rest of the recipe was fairly straightforward, mixed it all together and put in a tin. Then the fruit (once defrosted) and some flaked almonds went on top. Loved the colours here (see pic below).

Before the oven

Before the oven

After the oven

After the oven

After it had cooled I took it out the tin and went to cut it into 16 but after the first cut realised it was still raw! Disaster!

Now I don’t usually do this but I didn’t want it to go waste so I reheated the oven and put it back in for a bit longer. This would never work with a cake but as brownies don’t need air in them I thought I’d give it a go. After they seemed better cooked I removed from the oven and left to cool again.

Once they were cooled I cut into 16 and decorated with some black and red currants from the fruit mix and white chocolate curls. They fell apart a bit and were rather squidgy but I guess the whole point of this is experimentation and not everything is going to be perfect!

Finished and decorated

Finished and decorated

Close up!

Close up!

Taste test: pretty nice and I don’t realy eat fruit! Couldn’t really taste the almond despite having almonds in and on. Very squidgy and sweet so the size was about right and very nice with some ice cream.