Thursday, 28 May 2015

Super Simple Coconut Macaroons



If you love the flavour of a Bounty and/or coconut in general, you will love these. With only three ingredients, these are perfect to whip up when you have a spare minute, or if you have unexpected guests. They are soft, yet crumbly, with a satisfying coconut-y taste and texture.

Makes 8

Ingredients:
  • 1 egg
  • 110g dessicated coconut, unsweetened
  • 75g caster sugar


Method:

1. Beat the egg with a fork briefly (for at most a minute). Add the dessicated coconut and sugar, and beat in (with a wooden spoon). Once combined, leave to stand for 20 minutes.



2. Preheat your oven to 180c/160c fan/ gas mark 4. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.

3. Form the mixture into 8 balls. Place them on the baking tray, and flatten slightly with the back of a spoon (or your palm).



4. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden in colour. Take out of the oven and leave the macaroons for a few minutes on the tray. Transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.



5. You're done! Enjoy your bounty ;)


Variation: How about trying a chocolate-coated macaroon and dip half of the baked/cooled macaroon in dark or milk chocolate?
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Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Classic Coffee Loaf and Cupcakes


These loaves and cupcakes are perfectly flavoured with coffee, making it a super mourish treat for adults/coffee lovers. I adapted the recipe from Mary Berry, who baked a whole coffee cake. However, I didn't have a cake tin to hand. So after rooting through my cupboards, I decided instead to make a coffee loaf and cupcakes, which were very much enjoyed :) The batter took minutes to prepare, and was baked and decorated soon after. They are perfect with a cup of tea or coffee, or just as a delectable dessert.

Makes one 2lb loaf and 6 cupcakes

Ingredients:
  •      225g soft butter or margarine
  •    225g light soft brown sugar
  •   225g self-raising flour
  •   1 tsp baking powder
  •   4 eggs
  •   4 level tsp instant coffee, dissolved in 1 tbsp boiling water (this takes a while to dissolve but   keep stirring until it has all dissolved)

For the buttercream:
  •      175g soft butter
  •          350g icing sugar
  •      4 level tsp instant coffee, dissolved in 1 tbsp boiling water


Method:

    1. Preheat your oven to 180c/160c fan/ gas mark 4. Butter and line a 2 lb loaf tin, and place bun cases into a deep 6 hole muffin tin.

   2. If your brown sugar is very solid, blitz in a food processor to fine crumbs (this will make your life a lot easier when creaming). Cream the butter and sugar together for a few minutes until light and fluffy (this can be done with a spoon or electric whisk). Add the eggs, flour, baking powder and coffee, and fold in until just combined (when no flour speckles can be seen. Do not overwork).

   3. Pour into the loaf tin until 2/3 full, and place spoonfuls into the muffin cases (about 1-2 tbsp will be fine).

  4. Bake the muffins for 20-25 minutes, and the loaf for 40-45 minutes, until a skewer (or knife) entered into the loaf/muffin comes out clean, and is springy to the touch. Another interesting way to test if the loaf/muffin has baked is to listen – if you hear a sort-of bubbling/cracking noise, the cake is still baking so requires another 5 minutes or so.

   5. To make the butter cream, beat the butter with the icing sugar and coffee until well combined. If the buttercream seems too loose, add some more icing sugar. Refrigerate until ready to use.

   6. Carefully slice the loaf into three layers. The easiest way to do this is to use a serrated knife and turn the loaf as you slice. Place spoonfuls of the coffee buttercream on each layer of the loaf and spread evenly using a palette knife (to about 1/2cm thickness).  Stack the loaf layers (cake-buttercream-cake-buttercream-cake).

     7. Cover the top and sides of the cake with more coffee buttercream, and spread evenly over the top and sides of the cake.

   8. Cover the cupcakes with the buttercream. There are many ways to decorate the cupcakes. For example, small spoonfuls of the muffin can be taken out,  the gap filled with buttercream and topped with the muffin tops. Then cover the top of the muffin with more buttercream for  a muffin with a coffee cream centre!

   9. Enjoy!







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Friday, 22 May 2015

Japonaise Biscuits (Sandwiched Almond Meringues)


I first tried these a few weeks ago when I visited York. They are composed of two almond meringues filled with a coffee buttercream. When I arrived back home I had to try to make my own, and here is my recipe. It’s very simple, nutty and sweet, with a slight background of coffee. Try it out and impress your friends!

Makes 8-10 biscuits

Ingredients:

For the meringues:
  • 90g ground almonds
  • 2 egg whites
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 30g cornflour
  • 50g mixed chopped nuts
For the filling:
  • 50g butter, softened
  • 150g icing sugar
  • 1 tsp coffee, dissolved in 1 tbsp boiling water

Method:

1.     Preheat your oven to 180c/160c fan/ gas mark 4. Grease and flour the base of a baking tray.

2.     Whisk the egg whites in a clean bowl with an electric whisk until the egg whites are very white and foamy.  Gradually add 35g of the caster sugar, one teaspoon at a time. Whisk for approximately 3-5 minutes, until the meringue is white, glossy and forms soft peaks (when the whisk is lifted from the meringue a peak is formed, with the tip slightly toppling over).

3.     In a separate bowl, combine 15g of caster sugar with the ground almonds and cornflour. Sift into the meringue mixture, and use a spatula to gently fold in (mix as little as possible).

4.     Place the almond meringue mixture into a piping bag, and pipe swirls, approximately 3cm in diameter. Bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, until the meringues are light brown and firm to the touch. If you are baking on more than one tray, switch the trays halfway through to allow even cooking.

5.     Leave to cool for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack – the easiest way to do this is by using a palette knife.

6.     Whilst the meringues are cooling, make the buttercream. Cream the butter in a bowl until very soft, then add the icing sugar. Add 1 tbsp coffee/water and stir to a thick paste.

7.     Once cooled assemble the biscuits. Pipe buttercream on the centre of each meringue and sandwich together. Alternatively, for an impressive dessert, stack more than two layers of meringue by alternating the meringue with the buttercream.

8.     Cover the tops and sides of the meringue biscuits with buttercream and cover with the mixed chopped nuts.


9.     Devour.
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Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Custard and White Chocolate Cookies



These cookies are amazing! Don’t be put off with the addition of the custard powder – they are very simple, soft and chewy, and will last at least a fortnight! I got this recipe from bbcgoodfood.com, and haven’t had to modify it much for cookie perfection.

Makes 20-25

Ingredients:
  • 140g butter or margarine
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 85g custard powder (I used Birds)
  • 85g white chocolate, cut into small chunks

        
Method:

   1. Preheat the oven to 180c/160c fan/ gas mark 4. Grease and line the base of a baking tray.

   2. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. 



   3. Add the egg, vanilla extract and 1 tbsp self-raising flour and beat well (the flour addition prevents the cookie dough from curdling).

   4. Fold in the remainder of the flour and the custard powder. Mix in the white chocolate chunks.



    5. With a spoon or your hands, take walnut-sized pieces of cookie dough and place on a baking tray. You will get 6-8 on to one baking tray, so the cookies need to be baked in batches. The cookies will spread so don’t place them too close together. Press the cookies lightly.

    6. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the edges are just starting to turn golden (I tended to bake them for 12 minutes to ensure a chewy texture). Leave to cool for 2-3 minutes before carefully transferring to a wire rack (a palette knife makes this job very simple as it easily runs under the cookie without tearing the paper underneath.



    7. Repeat with the remaining cookie dough.
    8. Enjoy.


Love cookies? Then you'll love these Chocolate Truffle Cookies :D
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Thursday, 14 May 2015

Hangar Number 4

Address: 4 Crown Street, Warrington, WA1 2AE, UK
Visited: 14th March 2015, Lunchtime



This is a restaurant my boyfriend and I were excited to visit. From the name, you may guess the theme of Hangar Number 4, but maybe not the extent the restaurant goes to in order to achieve this theme. The restaurant is designed like an aeroplane lounge, with black seating around the edge of the cosy restaurant and cute signs up displaying how you order your food – looking like the safety sheets found on aeroplanes. 
Best of all was a real half-jet at the end of the room!
This is easily the best themed restaurant I have heard of, and walking in, the place had a great ambience, and we were taken straight away to a table.

It is a little odd that I haven't mentioned the kind of food Hangar Number 4 serves yet...it's a burger bar, with different burgers themed around the globe. When we visited, there was a good amount of variety on offer. I particularly liked the fact that they had interesting non-beef burgers. It didn't take us long to decide on our food, and once we had decided we went to the bar to order.

My boyfriend went for a New York Burger – a beef burger with chicken, bacon, cheese and bbq sauce, and I went for the Mumbai, a dish that had only been put on the menu the previous evening. This was a burger containing a tandoori chicken breast, with an onion bhaji, mango chutney and spinach, topped with a cooling raita. We also decided to try out their onion rings.

The cost of the burgers, given their size and quality seemed very reasonable, with both burgers being less than £10.

Next would be one of my few criticisms about the dining experience. We had a very long wait for our food – given that there were only 3-4 other tables with customers, we waited at least half an hour for the burgers to arrive.

However, when they did arrive, they arrived in style. The food was delivered to us in a trolley, like how food is served on an aeroplane. Better yet, the cutlery we had was actually branded by a company who make aeroplanes themselves! The burgers looked incredible, with nicely glazed brioche buns, and were so big that we had to eat them with a knife and fork.

My boyfriend loved his burger – all the meat was cooked excellently, and he particularly enjoyed the onion rings.
 
New Yorker Burger on the left
My mumbai experience was very interesting. The chicken was cooked perfectly, and although I would have liked it a little spicier, I enjoyed it. The onion bhaji was also cooked well, being super crisp (and not very greasy!), with a subtle hit of spicing. So although it was an odd choice for a burger, I would definitely eat it again.

Mumbai Burger

One of the owners of the restaurant actually served us our food, and was very chatty and helpful. It would have been better if the rest of the serving staff could have been a bit more like him, but given the small amount of time the restaurant has been open, I am happy to forgive these small details.

Overall I would rate Hanger Number 4:

Appearance/ambience: 4.5/5 (I was cold...knocking off 0.5 marks)
Service: 4/5
Food: 4/5
Value for money: 5/5


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