Almond Millionaire Shortbread Squares

As I work full time, and no longer as a baker, I try to make sure I find time to bake but it’s not just the time it’s the “What to bake this week” question I hate. But GBBO has become my saving grace. I love it. It gives me such inspiration each week. So this week I’ve gone for the millionaire shortbread, a classic, and a family favouirte – shortbread, caramel and chocolate, an instant winner. I’ve gone for simple flavours, as in my eyes, you don’t want to mess around with a classic too much.

Ingredients 

Shortbread

225g Plain Flour

200g Unsalted Butter

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120g Caster Sugar

1 Egg Yolk, whisked

50g chopped blanched almonds

Caramel

 

300g Light Brown Sugar

150ml Double Cream

40g Unsalted Butter

1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract

1/2 tsp Salt

Chocolate

 

200g Dark Chocolate

30g Unsalted Butter

1/2 tsp Coffee Powder (I use either Nespresso Espresso or Nescafe Azera)

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Topping 

50g chopped blanched almonds

Method

Line a 34x24x2cm baking tray.

Make the shortbread first! Place the flour and butter into a large bowl and with your fingers rub together until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the sugar and give a quick stir. Followed by the egg yolk. Mix until the mixture comes together to form a ball of slightly soft dough. Try not to over mix as this with ruin the soft crumbly flavour that we all love about shortbread!

Roll out the dough about 5mm thick and large enough to fit your tray. Sprinkle over the chopped almonds, gentley pressing them into the dough. Chill for 20 minutes. Pre heat your oven to 180°C/160°C fan/350°F. When they have chilled back for 15-20 minutes, until lightly golden. Leave to cool completely!

Time for your caramel! Place the sugar, cream and butter into a heavy-based, medium-sized pan, put it on a low heat. Heat gently, stirring constantly, for about 15 minutes until the sugar and butter are completely melted and the sugar is no longer grainy. Add in your vanilla and salt. Turn up the heat, stir continuously until the caramel comes to around 112°C/242°F.

Remove from the heat and plunge the base of the pan into a sink of very cold water to stop the mixture cooking. Stir constantly for one minute. You want it cool, but still spreadable. Pour your cooled caramel  over your shortbread and leave to set.

While that is cooling make your chocolate ganache. Finely chop the chocolate and put it into a heatproof bowl with the butter. Set over a pan of simmering water, stir frequently until melted and smooth. Add in the coffee powder and almond extract. Pour over your caramel! Sprinkle over the remaining chopped almonds and leave to set completely.

Cut your squares into 12, or smaller if you prefer, these work great as bite size, I’m just greedy.

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Salted Caramel Pretzel Blondies

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Ingredients

125g Brown Butter

2 Eggs

220g Light Brown Sugar

200g Plain Flour

1tsp Baking Powder

3g Salt

60g Pretzels

75g Salted Caramel Sauce (plus extra for serving)

 

Method 

Line an 8″ round tin. Pre heat the oven to 150C/300F

Start by making the brown butter.  Do this by make this by placing the butter on a medium heat and cooking until it reaches 150C/300F, it will start to smell slightly caramelly. Leave to slightly cool.

Whisk together the eggs and sugar together until light and fluffy. Whisk in the butter, followed by the four, baking powder and salt. Fold in the pretzels and 50g of the salted caramel sauce.

Place into your tin and drizzle over the remaining 25g of Salted Caramel Sauce. Bake for 35 minutes. It will be soft when it comes out but if it wobbles too much cover with foil and bake for a further 10 minutes.

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To serve cut small slices and drizzle with more caramel sauce! It’s best eaten on the day of baking but will last 3 days in an airtight container!

Pickled Rhubarb

So the obsession with pickling continues!! This time Rhubarb. With the season coming to an end I want to try something a bit different.

20170909_210148Ingredients 

300g Rhubarb

160g Apple Cider Vinigar

160g Water

1 Cinnammon Stick

1/2 tsp Salt

3 Whole Cloves

1/2 tsp Peppercorns

1 Green Cardamon Pod

Method

Cut the rhubarb into sticks to fit your jar.

In a large pan, combine all the ingredients bar the rhubarb. Place on a medium heat, leave to come to a simmer for 5 minutes.  Take off the heat and leave to cool slightly.

In a sterilised jar, add the rhubarb with the spices, try to distribute them evenly.. Pour over the brine and tap out any air bubbles. Seal and leave for at least 2 weeks before eating!

 

The Rolling Donut

Donuts or Doughnuts… either way they have become the big thing to eat in Dublin! Some are epic, some are thoroughly average. But the one that takes the dough is The Rolling Donut. I don’t think I can even count how many times I have had one of their lovely light sourdough donuts.

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They are a family business, having been around since 1978! Their little kiosk on O’Connell Street has been opened since 1988. Walking past this little kiosk, with the smell of fresh, warm donuts it’s hard to not stop and eat them all! They also have two stores, one on Bachelor Walk and the other on South King Street which opened at the end of last year.

Everyone has their favourites, everyone has different tastes but these are my few…

Molly Malone

Apple and Cinnamon filling top with a Vanilla glaze and biscuit Crumble

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Maple Bacon

The breakfast of champs – maple bacon on a sourdough donut… enough said!

 

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Crunch

Crunchy Chocolate peanut butter filling with a layer of chocolate ganache and toasted flaked peanuts

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Nutella and Marshmallow

Stuffed with Nutella and topped with a chocolate glaze and marshmallows. What’s not to love!

They also do vegan donuts! So everyone is being catered for. Also one of their stores is right on the river. It’s great when the sun is shining to pop down to the river and chill out with your donut. Or the other near St Stephens Green… perfect locations!

 

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

With GBBO back on, it obviously influences what I bake! I had to go for sandwich cookies, bit more interesting than just cookies. I also wanted to see if I could make a cookie that didn’t squeeze out it’s filling when you bite into it. This was something I had yet to achieve! But I managed it, I finally played around with enough recipes to stop my filling oozing everywhere. Plus these are super easy to make…and highly addictive to eat.

Screenshot_20170909-204423.jpgIngredients 

Cookies –

125g Caster Sugar

225g Buter

250g Plain Flour

50g Cocoa

Filling –

40g Butter

100g Peanut Buter

100g Icing Sugar

30g Golden Syrup

 

Method

Mix all the ingredients together to form a dough. Tip onto the work surface and shape into a log 5cm in diameter. Wrap in cling film and chill for 1 hr. You need to do this otherwise the cookies will spread too much in the oven.

For the filling, mix all the ingredients to form an icing. Roll this into a log, like the cookie dough, though make it a little smaller so it will fit in the cookie nicely. Refrigerate until you need it!

Pre heat the oven to 140C/285F.

Cut the cookie log into 5mm discs. Place them on to a baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes. Leave them to cool on the baking sheet. Cut the icing into 4mm discs. Once the cookies are completely cooled, place a disc of icing on one cookie and using another sandwich together!

 

 

 

My Festival Advice

“A long weekend camping”

Had you said this to me when I was younger I would have hated it, refused to go, kicked up a fuss… now, now I leap at the chance. Camping you say, I can’t think of a better way to spend my weekend! Booze, friends, and lot of memories.

Having done a few festivals now each one seems to teach me something different, so this is my advice to a good festival…

Pack for all weather – even if your festival is in sunny Spain it can still rain, or in Ireland it can still be sunny! You literally can’t predict the weather (as much as they try to!). I got caught in a thunderstorm while I was in Spain! None of us had any form of waterproof with us as we all made that decision “it never rains in Spain!”

It’s okay to nap during the day – if you need it, take that nap! It will make your night that much better. If you’re over tired you won’t enjoy yourself as much, you need your energy for all that partying later.

nap

See acts you’ve never heard of – there will be so many people on that you want to see but go out of your way to see something new. A lot of people start off at this events, you never know you might see the next Ed Sheeran or find a new love to replace him!

Set alarms – if there is an act you really want to see set an alarm for it! It’s easy to get distracted and not notice what the time is, and before you know it you’ve missed that one person you wanted to see. Though if you do, don’t beat yourself up over it, there will always be so many other great people on.

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Stick with a friend – boring, but let’s be safe here, girls stick with your friends. We all know the drill here. But boys, try to stick with your friends too, you’ll have more fun and not end up doing anything (too) stupid… hopefully!

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Don’t take valuables – take your phone yes, you’re going to want to take a tone of photos but don’t take that nice watch you got for Christmas or those expensive speakers you spent your last pay check on. There is a high chance of it getting stolen but there is also a high chance of it getting wet and breaking!

Mark your water bottle – take off the label, write on it, duck tap it. Do whatever it takes for you to know which is your water. You don’t want to mix it up with your alcohol in the middle of the night when you’re dying of that dry mouth hangover!

Mark your tent – if your early remember there will be hundreds of tents around you later. Put bunting up, put a long stick in the group, or use someone else’s marker! You will be so grateful when you stumble back and can spot it from a mile off. Plus it tends to stop other people getting confused that it’s theirs too!

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Enjoy every minute! 

If you meet someone be nice, if you can’t be nice, be good, if you can’t be good be safe

 

 

 

Pickled Blueberries

I admit this sounds like an odd one but bear with me, they turn out great! This will recipe makes approximately one 500ml jar. It’s a lot of blueberries but they last! They are great for those warm sunny evenings – slather some good crusty bread with goats cheese and sprinkle these on top! You can even jazz it up even more by doing it on Melba toast with some charcuterie and serving them as canapés! Or eat them out the jar like I do!

Ingredients 

125g Apple Cider

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135g Water

75g Granulated Sugar

1/2 tsp Salt

Zest of one Lemon

Zest of one Lime

5 Peppercorns

1 Green Cardamon Pod

6 Whole Cloves

15g Fresh Ginger

1 Cinnamon Stick

250g Blueberries

 

Method

In a large pan, combine the vinegar, water, sugar and salt. Place on a medium heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar has dissolved.  Take off the heat.

Slice the ginger and had to the hot brine along with he zests and other spices. Leave to infuse for 15 minutes. Using a slotted spoon remove the spices and place to one side.

In a sterilised jar, add the blueberries with the spices, try to distribute them evenly amongst the berries. Pour over the brine and tap out any air bubbles. Seal and leave for at least two days before eating!

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