Monday, 16 July 2018

Gluten-Free Lemon Meringue Slices

Lemon Meringue Slice

Lemon Meringue Whole


It's my birthday coming up (wahoo!) and so I wanted to bake something for work. I have a colleague who is a celiac, so I always make sure my work bakes are gluten-free. Another can't eat hen eggs, but can have duck eggs. Duck eggs are much richer and hence more delicious than hen eggs, so these lemon meringue slices use duck eggs in the curd filling and meringue topping.

Duck eggs aren't too tricky to find either - Iceland in the UK sell them now! Lots of farm shops also stock them.

I used Asda gluten free plain flour, but other gluten-free varieties should also work.

Makes 20 squares

Ingredients:

For the biscuit base:

  • 125g (2/3 cup) caster sugar
  • 150g (2/3 cup) softened butter
  • 1 duck egg
  • 250g (2 cups) gluten free plain flour, plus a tbsp for dusting
  • 1 tsp gluten free baking powder

For the curd filling:

  • 1 x 397g tin condensed milk
  • Juice of 4 lemons
  • 125g (2/3 cup) caster sugar
  • 3 duck egg yolks

For the meringue topping:

  • 3 duck egg whites
  • 75g (3/8 cups) caster sugar
  • 75g (3/4 cups) sifted icing sugar

For the topping:

  • Zest of 4 lemons
  • 2 tbsp demerara sugar (or you can use granulated sugar)

Method:

1. Grease the base of a 20 x 20cm square cake tin and dust with a little gluten free plain flour.

2. Beat the butter and sugar together in a mixing bowl until the mixture has lightened in colour and is creamy.

3. Add the egg, gluten-free flour and gluten-free baking powder, and stir into the mixture. The dough will be very soft.

4. Gently press the dough into the prepared cake tin, trying to get it as level as possible. Chill for 20 minutes.

5. Preheat your oven to 180c (160c fan)/355f/gas mark 4.

6. Use a fork to prick all over the top of the biscuit, then bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the top is golden.

7. Whilst baking, make the lemon filling by pouring the lemon juice, condensed milk, sugar and egg yolks into a mixing bowl.

8. Whisk until smooth.

9. When the base is cooked, remove from the oven. Pour over the lemon filling and return to the oven for 5 minutes, until it is just set. Remove from the oven whilst you prepare the meringue.

10. In a grease-free bowl, pour in the egg whites. Start whisking (I used a stand mixer but an electric hand whisk will also work) on a medium speed until it turns white and forms stiff peaks.

11. Add the caster sugar, a tablespoon at a time, constantly whisking. Once all of the caster sugar has been added, turn the speed of the mixer up and whisk until the meringue forms stiff peaks when the whisk is lifted from the mix.

12. Briefly whisk in the icing sugar.

13. Spread the meringue over the lemon filling.

14. Mix the demerara sugar and lemon zest together and sprinkle over the meringue.

15. Bake for 10-15 minutes until crisp and golden.

16. Leave to cool completely before removing from the tin and slicing into squares.

17. Store in an airtight container.

18. Enjoy!

Lemon Meringue Slice
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Saturday, 30 June 2018

My Favourite Milk Chocolate Brownies

Milk chocolate brownies


June has been a busy month! With work, studying and ultra-marathon training, I also managed to squeeze in a race involving 50 miles of cycling, a mountain run and a canoe. So that's my excuse for not being as up-to-date with my blog posts as I would like! However, my partner has also been training for the ultra, and is covering so many miles each week. Sometimes we both need a high carbohydrate and calorific treat, but with little time to go to the shops, I had to root through my cupboards to find something to bake.
Luckily I pretty much always have a stash of cheap chocolate (I get the supermarket own-brand), which I find great to use for simple bakes. We also had eggs, cocoa powder, butter and brown sugar. With all of these ingredients, I thought I'd have a go at milk chocolate brownies.

Milk chocolate brownies are usually quite a bit sweeter than the traditional (which tend to use the higher percentage cocoa solid dark chocolate). The addition of the cocoa, however, knocks back this sweetness, and the texture wasn't affected at all. The outside was lovely and crisp, with a soft centre that could still easily be cut. I added white chocolate chips to mine, but chopped walnuts would be amazing as well (sadly I had none in my cupboards).

I was really happy with the result, and if you wanted to serve this as a dessert, bake the brownies for 2 minutes less, so that they are a little gooier. Serve warm with some ice cream, and that'd be bliss!
The version I've baked are perfect as an afternoon treat, or as replenishment after a really hard run.

I also prepared and cooked these beauties in less than an hour, so no excuses...GO :)

Makes around 16

Ingredients:

  • 175g (1 cup) milk chocolate, chopped roughly
  • 175g (3/4 cup) softened butter (margarine will also work), plus 1 tsp for greasing
  • 3 eggs
  • 250g (1 & 1/3 cups) light soft brown sugar
  • 40g (1/3 cup) cocoa powder
  • 75g (1/2 cup) plain flour
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 60g (1/3 cup) white chocolate, chopped into chunks (or use chocolate chips)


Method:

1. Preheat your oven to 180c (160c fan)/355f/gas mark 4. Lightly grease the base and sides of a 20cm square cake tin, and line with baking parchment.

2. Place the milk chocolate and butter into a heatproof bowl, and place over a pan of simmering water. Make sure that the base of the bowl DOES NOT touch the water.

3. Stir regularly until all of the butter and chocolate have melted. Set aside for 5 minutes to cool.

4. Whilst the butter/chocolate are cooling, pour the eggs and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment (or use an electric whisk). Whisk for 5 minutes (on a medium speed) or until the mixture has at least doubled in size and thickened.

5. Sift the cocoa and flour over the egg mixture, add the salt, and pour over the butter/milk chocolate mixture. Fold together until no more flour speckles can be seen.

6. Briefly fold in the white chocolate chips until fairly evenly spread through the batter.

7. Pour into the prepared cake tin. Bake for 25-30 minutes (or for 20-22 minutes if you want a super gooey centre), until the top is crisp and if you shake the tray a little, it only wobbles in the very centre.

8. Remove from the oven and leave to cool fully before slicing (unless serving warm with ice cream of course).

9. Enjoy!!

Keep these in an airtight container in the fridge, and they theoretically will last a good two weeks (but they are pretty moreish so they're not going to ever last that long in my household!)

Milk chocolate brownies
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Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Pistachio Macarons

Pistachio Macarons


Here's another macaron recipe! This time it's quite a sophisticated one I think as the macarons are filled with a pistachio buttercream, which gives the macarons an extra nutty taste. You could also try finely grinding some pistachios and use 50% pistachio, 50% ground almond in the macaron mix, but I haven't had a go at this method yet (hopefully soon I'll give that a go!).

These need to be kept in an airtight container, and I think they are best eaten the day after baking, as the shells soften slightly and the flavour seems to intensify.

Ingredients:

For the macaron shells:
  • 160g (1 & 1/4 cups) ground almonds
  • 175g (1 & 1/2 cups) icing sugar
  • 4 (125ml/1/2 cup) medium egg whites
  • 165g (3/4 cup) granulated sugar
  • 50ml (3 tbsp and 1 tsp) water
  • Green food colouring (I used a concentrated gel)

For the pistachio filling:

  • 50g (1/3 cup) shelled pistachios
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 65g (1/3 cup) caster sugar
  • 55g (1/4 cup) softened butter
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tbsp water

Method:

1. Place the ground almonds and icing sugar in a food processor (or high power blender) and blitz for 2-3 second bursts, until the mixture is very fine. Don't over blend the mixture as the almonds will start to turn to almond butter.

2. Sieve the almonds/icing sugar into a large bowl. Add 2 (60ml/1/4 cup) of the egg whites, and beat until a smooth paste is formed.

3. Heat the granulated sugar and water in a saucepan, stirring occasionally until the sugar has dissolved. Then stop stirring and place a sugar thermometer in the pan. In a grease-free bowl, add the remaining two egg whites. Once the sugar/water has reached 112C, start whisking the egg whites at a medium speed (I used a stand mixer and found this required less of my attention than a handheld).

4. Once the sugar/water syrup has reached 118C, the egg whites should be white and frothy (like shaving foam). Turn the stand mixer down to a low speed, then carefully pour the syrup onto the egg whites, whisking constantly. Be very careful not to touch the syrup as it is super hot! Once all of the syrup has been added, turn up the speed of the mixer to high and keep whisking until the mixture is shiny and forms peaks when the whisk is lifted from the mixture (this should take between 5 and 7 minutes).

5. Dip a toothpick into the violet food colouring and then dip into the meringue mixture. Whisk briefly. Add more food colouring until you have the desired green colour.

6. Use a metal spoon to fold a third of the egg white mixture into the almond/sugar paste. Once incorporated, gently fold in the remaining egg whites.

7. Fill a piping bag with the macaron mixture, and cut off 1cm from the end (or use a large round nozzle). Grease and line four baking trays with parchment paper and hold the piping bag vertically above where you want to pipe. Pipe directly down onto the tray until you have a circle 3cm wide (or whatever shape you like - I also like making rectangles so that they look like mini eclairs). Repeat across the trays, leaving about a 1&1/2cm gap between each macaron shell.

8. Tap the tray on the surface a few times, then leave at room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour, until a "skin" has formed on the macarons - this means that when you gently touch the macaron, no mixture goes on your finger.

9. Preheat the oven to 170c (150c fan)/ 340F/ gas mark 3. Before you place the baking trays into the oven, tap the trays against the surface again. This gives the perfect "foot" of macarons. Bake the macarons for 10-12 minutes - keep an eye on them after 8 minutes in case they are browning too much. Remove the macarons from the oven and transfer the macarons (with the baking paper still attached) to a wire rack to cool.

10. To make the pistachio filling, place the pistachios and salt in a high-speed blender/food processor with around 1 tsp water. Pulse until the mixture becomes a smooth butter, adding teaspoons of water if the mixture isn't coming together.

11. Pour the caster sugar and 2 tbsp water into a saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook until the temperature reads 120c/250f on a sugar thermometer.

12. Start whisking the egg yolks using an electric whisk or in the bowl of a stand mixer. Once the sugar/water gets to 120c/250f, gently pour over the egg yolks, continuously whisking on a low speed (to prevent splashing).

13. Once all of the sugar syrup has been added, turn the speed of the whisk up to medium, and whisk for 5-10 minutes, or until the temperature drops to 40c/104f.

14. Chop the butter into 1cm cubes, and add a few cubes of butter at a time to the buttercream whilst whisking. Once you can no longer see the butter cubes, add another 2-3 cubes. Keep going until you have used up all of the butter and the mixture is light.

15. Add the pistachio paste and whisk in to combine. Once well mixed, transfer to a piping bag.

16. Once the macarons have cooled, flip half over and pipe about 2 tsp worth of filling on each flipped shell. Top with an un-flipped shell.

17. Enjoy!!

Pistachio Macarons




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