Dark Chocolate and Caramel Tart

I love having family and friends over for dinner… or using my mums kitchen to bake for them. I find it so therapeutic and love seeing them devour the food I’ve made them. As I’ve not been home lately, I’ve been on the hunt for a new recipe to wow them with over birthday season. This is September for us with four of us born in the month plus my sister in law is at the end of August and now my niece at the beginning of October! It’s nice to find some new desserts to test on them!

I can’t wait to get back and make This for them. It’s super easy to do and can be made the day before. It lasts about 4-5 days in the fridge but is best on the day it’s baked.

Use the caramel sauce from Salted Caramel Sauce – aka Heaven in a Jar!

Sweet Shortcrust Pastry

225g Plain Flour

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150g Chilled Butter

25g Icing Sugar

1 Large Free Range Egg

Chocolate Ganache

175ml Double Cream

 

175g Good Quality Dark Chocolate, at least 70% cocoa solids

 

15g Unsalted Butter

1Tbsp Golden Syrup

Method

Make your caramel sauce first using and leave to cool.

To make the pastry, sift the flour into a large bowl and add the cubed, chilled butter. Rub together using your finger tips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Sift in the icing sugar and lightly stir in. Add the egg and mix to form a soft dough. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface, till it is about 3mm thick! Line a rectangular 30cm fluted tin, press the pastry lightly to the corners and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

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Heat your over to 180C/160C Fan/Gas 4. Blind bake your shell – do this by lining the pastry with baking parchment and filling with ceramic beans or rice if you don’t have any! Back for 10-15 minutes. Remove the beans and bake for a further 7-10 minutes or until golden. Set to one side and leave to cool.

While the pastry is baking make the ganache. Chop the chocolate into small chunks and Place into a heat proof bowl and pop to one side. Place the cream into a sauce and put on a low heat until simmering. Pour over the chocolate and stir until melted. Add the butter and golden syrup and continue to stir until fully incorporated. Set to one side to cool, but not set!

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Once the pastry shell is cold and the ganache cool, spread over the Salted Carmel Sauce.

Ensure you get into the corners. Follow this by pouring over the ganache, till to the top of the pastry case. Chill for 1-2 hours before serving.

Serve straight from the fridge! Add a little sea salt on the top to bring out extra flavours!

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ENJOY!! 

Salted Caramel Sauce – aka Heaven in a Jar!

When I first started making caramel sauce I was told never to stir it, to just let it caramelise on its own. And what I’ve discovered through the years is that it’s so wrong! You can stir it, I encourage it. I find that if you don’t you can end up burning the sugar. This is more so if you are using larger amounts.

I eat this by the spoonful when it’s still ever so slightly warm, I’m too impatient to wait for it to cool! This is an incredibly versatile recipe and can be used in so many ways. The sky is the limit.

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Salted Caramel Sauce

500g Caster Sugar

1 tbsp Water

180g Unsalted Butter, room temperature

1 tsp Vanilla extract

250ml Double Cream

1tsp Pink Himalayan Salt

 

Method

Put the sugar and water in a large, heavy bottom pan and place on a medium heat. Stir occasionally until the sugar starts to dissolve.

While this is happening, cut up your butter into cubes. Place the cream into a microwave able dish and heat for 30-45 seconds until warm, but not hot!

Once the sugar has completely caramelised and is light brown in colour take off the heat and add the butter and vanilla. Stir until the butter has melted.

Slowly add your cream and salt and place back onto the heat on a low temperature. This will help you as the cream with form a lump in your pan. Keep stirring until a lowly smooth caramel sauce forms.

Allow to cool before use.

This sauce will keep for up to one month in an airtight jar in the fridge. Use at room temperature.

 

Caramelised Pecans

Caramelised pecans are such a treat in our household! I love them but they aren’t exactly the healthiest thing I make. But they are perfect for movie nights, girls nights in, or even just a Friday night snack!

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Ingredients

200g Pecans

5 tbsp, Light Brown Sugar (firmly packed)

1 tbsp Golden Syrup

1 tbsp Unsalted Butter

 

Method

Pre heat your oven to 180°C (160°C fan)

Roast your pecans for about 10 minutes, until you get that lovely roasting aroma.

Meanwhile, in a large pan add the sugar, golden syrup and butter. Melt on a medium heat, stirring constantly, until it bubbles. Stir in the toasted pecans. Make sure they are all covered.

Place back onto the roasting bad and spread out evenly. Place back in the oven for 7-10 minutes. Remove and allow to completely cool before breaking into pieces.

These should last 2 weeks in an air tight container!

Classic Peanut Butter and Cacao Bites

This is a super easy, simple snack – only five ingredients! So I am keeping this post super simple too…

These are perfect for a little pick me up and last about 1 week in an airtight container. Not only are they simple to make there is hardly any washing up! Win win in my eyes!

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Ingredients

90g Oats

35g Honey

70g Crunch Peanut Butter

15g Cacao Powder

2 tsp Sesame Seeds

 

Method

Begin by placing all the ingredients a bowl. Give it a good stir, add two tablespoons of water to loosen up the mixture. Keep mixing until the mixture comes together.Screenshot_20170518-180336

Take a tablespoon of the mixture (approx. 20g) and roll into a ball. Continue doing this until all the mixture has finished, it should make around 12.

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Munch away! These are also perfect with a cuppa 😉

 

 

Adult Brownie Scotch Eggs

Many things led to this recipe! I’ve lived in Dublin now for 7 months (SEVEN! Wow, time has flown by!) and I realised I hadn’t cooked or baked with Guinness. This is poor on my side, one: I live in the home of Guinness and two: The Boy works for them, which has meant we have a lot of Guinness in the house! Plus Easter is just around the corner so we all need a good themed Easter recipe in our lives. Also, why should kids get all the chocolatey goodness…

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Ingredients

Brownies

130g Butter

200g Caster Sugar

3 Eggs

125g Plain Flour

½ tsp Baking Powder

150ml Guinness Extra Foreign Stout

Buttercream

150g Icing Sugar

300g Butter

60ml Baileys

2 tbsp Cocoa Powder plus extra for dusting

 

6 Crème Eggs

 

Method

Pre heat the oven to 160°C (fan)/180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 and line a 25x19cm tin.

Melt the butter in a medium sized bowl and stir into the cocoa until it forms a paste. Slowly add 100ml of Guinness, it will foam! Slowly mix together, this is why you need that medium sized bowl! Set aside.

In another bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar until nice and pale. Add the flour and baking powder and fold together until smooth.  Repeat with the cocoa powder and remaining Guinness.

Bake in the oven for around 20-25 minutes. They should be soft to touch but baked all the way through, insert a skewer to check they are done. Set aside, and leave to completely cool.

Whisk together the icing sugar, butter and baileys until light and fluffy. Take about a third of the buttercream and place in another bowl. Add the Cocoa Powder and whisk until smooth to make your cocoa buttercream for the outside of the scotch eggs.

If you have a food processor, place the brownie in and pulse until they look like breadcrumbs. If you don’t, don’t worry! Break up the brownies into small ish chunks, using your electric whisk, on the lowest setting whisk until they break up and again look like breadcrumbs.

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Mix the brownie breadcrumbs with Baileys buttercream! Using your hands separate the mixture into 6 balls, approx. 135g each. In your hand, flatten one of the balls, place the crème egg in the middle and fold the brownie mixture around the egg. Squeeze together until you have a smooth ball. Repeat with the other crème eggs.

In a bowl add some cocoa powder ready to cover the scotch eggs

Now it gets messy…

One at a time – using a palate knife, cover the ball in the cocoa buttercream. Place in the bowl of cocoa powder and light roll around until they are completely covered. Repeat until you’ve finished all six!

ENJOY!

 

(N.B –  remove the alcohol and this is great to make with kids – you can even cover in sprinkles instead of cocoa powder!)

Summer Fruit and Thyme Jam AND Bakewell Tart recipes

HAPPY SUNDAY!! It’s spring time (ish!) and I’m getting into preserves and fermenting recently. I think it’s great to stop wasting food but also I find it’s really therapeutic. It’s great to get a product at the end that shows such love and care. It’s also a great way to liven up your cupboard – no more plain strawberry jam for us! You can also use smaller jars and give them to friends and family as gifts.

I know these berries aren’t in season, they literally are called Summer Berries but I’m new and wanted to try with some fruit I knew before doing anything too crazy. I used frozen berries but you can obviously use fresh when they get into season. 

And what’s better than using your homemade jam in a Bakewell tart! It’s also a great way to show off, how many times can you say that it’s completely homemade. So here are the two recipes for you…but don’t worry if you don’t like Bakewell Tarts, the jam goes fantastically on toast (even with some cheeky peanut butter too!)


Summer Fruit and Thyme Jam

650g Mixed Berries (I used blackberries, raspberries, red currents and black currents!)

1tbsp water

35ml lemon juice (approx. half a lemon or use pre juiced)

550g Caster Sugar

1.5tbsp thyme, finally chopped

 

Yields approx. 0.5l

 

Place all the berries with the water into a deep, heavy bottomed pan and place on a low heat for 10 minutes to soften. Add the lemon juice and sugar, stir and bring to the boil until it reaches 104°C.

While you are doing this sterilise your jars! Turn your oven to the lowest setting and place your jars in there for about 15 min.

Take the jam off the heat and use the wrinkle test to check it’s ready. Do this by placing a spoon in the jam, using another spoon, on the back of the spoon push a strip through the jam. You are looking for it not to spring back. Stir through the thyme leaves

Spoon into your jars and seal! Your jam should last 6-12 months unopened. Once opened consume within 4-6 weeks.
Bakewell Tart

Sweet Shortcrust Pastry

225g plain flour, plus extra for dusting

150g butter, chilled

25g icing sugar

1 large free-range egg, beaten

Frangipane Filling

150g butter, softened

150g caster sugar

150g ground almonds

1 large free-range egg, beaten

1 tsp almond extract

Icing

300g icing sugar

1 tsp almond extract

3tbsp Water
Method

First start with the pastry. Measure the flour into a large bowl with the cold butter. Using your finger tips, rub the butter until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add in the icing sugar and stir using your hands. Pour in the beaten egg and mix to form a soft dough. It can be a tad sticky but it will be fine. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface, approx 5mm thick. Place into your 23cm/9in fluted flan dish. Pop in the fridge for 40 minutes. 

Pre heat your oven to 180C Fan/200C/Gas Mark 6.

Scrunch up some baking paper and place on top of your pastry. Fill with baking beans, or in my case uncooked rice! They both do the same trick! Just make sure you push it into the corners. Bake blind for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and take out the rice and bake for a further 7 minutes. Remove and reduce the heat of the oven to 160C Fan/180C/Gas 4 Leave to cool while making your filling.

For the frangipane, cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Add the ground almonds, egg and almond extract and mix.

Place 5tbsp of your lovely homemade jam into the cooled pastry case. Spread evenly, making sure you get into the edges. Top with your frangipane mix. Carefully push this to the edges making sure you can’t see any jam. A spatula is the easiest way for doing this. Bake for 30–35 minutes, until golden-brown and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely in the tin.

For the icing, sift the icing sugar into a bowl. Stir in the almond extract and about 3 tablespoons cold water to make a smooth, fairly thick icing. When the tart has cooled completely, spoon the icing on top and spread to form a smooth surface. Leave to set the icing to set (I know it’s hard! But you’ll hate yourself if you don’t) serve in slices. I recommend some yogurt and some raspberries to top it, makes a great dessert! 

Homemade Brownies – the ultimate treat!

Having a good baking week, marshmallows last week and now brownies!

So with winter seem to be wanting to stick around you can’t go wrong with lots of baking!! I’m sure you’ve just realised I am not good with the cold, and I’m very much a summer baby. I think in a previous life I could have been a bear, they seem to have the right idea of hiding from the winter cold and hibernating until spring. Everyone knows when I think it’s time to hide as the space boots (aka winter, furry, warm boots) come out and the brogues go into hibernation too!

My go to sweet treat is Brownies…the soft gooey, just holding their shape ones! That with a cup of tea is my perfect evening, oh and I guess the boy being there makes it nice too. This is my favourite recipe for brownies; they are versatile so you can add a topping or ingredients in them if you want to jazz them up. They make a great dessert for dinner parties too. Cut them into smaller squares and layer them with cream and berries in a nice glass!

I know a lot of people will see this and go “No real chocolate! These can’t be that good!” but trust me they are. Good quality cocoa powder can work wonders. Don’t use drinking powders as that has additional sugar in which won’t give the same depth as a rich good quality powder.

I did these ones in an 8”x12” Riess enamel tray! Depending how thick/big you want them you can do them in anything from an 8” square tin to 9”x13” just adjust the cooking time – thick ones will take a lot longer!

Ingredients

4 Eggs

450g Caster Sugar

Add to Sugar

150g Plain Flour

2 tsp Vanilla Extract

135g Cocoa Powder

150g Butter

 

Method

Pre heat the oven to 160°C (fan)/180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 and line an 8”x12” tin.

Melt the butter and stir into the cocoa until it forms a paste and set aside. Whisk the eggs and sugar until it is pale and ribbons form. Add in the vanilla extract and whisk again. Add the flour and whisk until smooth followed by the cocoa paste.

Bake in the oven for around 30-35 minutes. They should be soft to touch and when a skewer is inserted it won’t come out completely clean as you want them to stay gooey.

Either serve straight away or cold later on. If you decide later on you want them warm, you can wrap individual pieces in cling film and place in the microwave for 30-1 minute, until warm and gooey again.

 

You can top with the following if you fancy it –

Marshmallows – nicely sprinkle over evenly about half way through your baking time

Salted Caramel– swirl and drizzle onto the brownie before baking

Nutella – melt approx. 150g so its thinner and drizzle over the top

Crunch Peanut Butter – 100-150g chopped roasted salted peanuts, mix some into the mixture and sprinkle some on top!