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 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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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!! 

Hoppy Beer Pickles

With the boy as a brewer and endless amounts of beer that comes into the flat I decided to do something other than just drink it, much to do his disappointment.

Beer Pickled Pickles!

These are so easy to do and really taste fantastic. I recommend a hoppy beer, here I used Lagunitas IPA but I’ve also done it with one of the boys brews for my sister wedding! Use whatever beer makes you happy, though I wouldn’t recommend a stout!

A&L485
As it’s just two of us here I made this into a smaller recipe, but you can easily double or triple it! Just up the quantities and jar size!

Makes one 500ml Jar 20170729_164747.jpg

Ingredients 
100g Beer
150g Apple Vinegar
100g Granulated Sugar
15g Yellow Mustard Seeds
10g Whole Peppercorns
20g Pink Himalayan Salt
1tsp Chilli Flakes
400g Snacking Cucumbers

Method
Place the beer, vinegar and sugar into a pan. Place on a medium heat and stir occasionally until the sugar has dissolved. Add the remaining ingredients, bar the cucumbers and leave to simmer for about 10 minutes.
Sterilise your jar. Do this by filling up with hot, soapy water, rinse clean and place in the oven on a low heat for 10 minutes. Or wash in the dishwasher. Your jar needs to be warm when you fill it though.
Top and tail your cucumbers. Slice into quarters and put them into your jar standing up right. Try and wedge in as many as you can.
Pour over the pickle mix, covering the cucumbers. Knock out the air bubbles by lightly tapping on the surface and seal.
Leave for at least 4 days before devouring. I recommend a good cheese board with some hard cheeses or in a cheese toastie!20170806_141524.jpg

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!