Archive of ‘Dessert’ category

Strawberry and Blackberry Crumble Bars

Strawberry & Blackberry Crumble Bars

Crumble is not necessarily the first dessert that comes to mind in late spring.  Although I adore it, when it is warm(er) outside it is normally a refreshing cold dessert or fresh fruit that your taste buds are craving.  These bars solve that problem and make crumble, not only a warm weather friendly dessert, but also portable! Sounds pretty good to me.

These strawberry and blackberry crumble bars have everything that is good about a crumble – crunchy topping, hearty oats, tart fruit – and shove it all atop a chewy, butter shortbread base.  The biscuit base is earning its keep, it bring a lot to the table, so to speak.  Firstly it holds everything together making these perfectly portable and a certain hit at picnics.  Secondly, and to be honest this part was a bit of a surprise to me, the biscuit is texture perfection.  The edges are crisp, as you would expect, but the centre absorbs some of the fruit juices meaning it bakes up slightly chewy.  Wonderful!

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This recipe could be adapted all throughout the year too, to reflect whatever fruit is on hand.  Even in the summer there are a multitude of different fruits that would work really well.  Peaches, nectarines or apricots would turn soft and sweet, even if they are a little under-ripe the heat will sort them right out.  You would also substitute any other berries, or add some rhubarb.  Apple in the autumn?  Mincemeat at Christmas?  This is a hardworking recipe, definitely a keeper! (more…)

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Roasted Strawberries with Whipped Coconut Cream

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As May flies by we are inching ever closer to summer.  Strawberries, barbecues, Wimbledon!  It is all good and I can’t wait!  British strawberries are starting to make an appearance in the supermarkets, although the delicious local pick your own varieties won’t be ready for a couple of months, I couldn’t resist picking up a box recently.

They are not quite at their flavour peak yet so, to get the most out of your strawberry, I suggest you roast them.  Roasting strawberries concentrates the sweetness and depth of flavour.  When coated with a little honey and balsamic vinegar prior to hitting the oven , they become a taste sensation.  You can then store them in a jar in the fridge to use on your yogurt, in your porridge or simply with cream.

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Talking of cream…I don’t like it.  I know that is really odd, because I like every other rich, typically calorific food on the go but I have just never been able to enjoy cream.  So the classic strawberries and cream is totally lost on me.  Strawberries and ice cream, now you’re talking! (more…)

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Macarons

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Today was a pretty exciting day for me.  As you know, I gave up my job and moved back to Inverness last month.  It was a big change but I’m settling in and starting to enjoy living up north again.  That feeling in my stomach has gone.  That one of constant worry, expectation, fear.  It has been gradual but there is now a sense of relief that I’ve made a big change to my life which will hopefully lead to great things.

Today I took the first step towards those great things.  The feeling in my stomach is now a little bit of anxiety but I think that is normal with any new job.  It is for me anyway!  I’m excited to be working as part of a Pastry Team, albeit for a trial period to begin with, but I’m going to work hard to get the most out of it as possible.

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On the subject of learning, I’ve been trying to master macarons again.  I’ve been hit or miss, the last attempt wasn’t great, but before that I made these delightful chocolate and peanut butter babies.

This time I stuck to a plain macaron mix, filled with different types of ganache, and others with shop bough dulche de leche. They were a success.  So much so that I had to fight with my family to let the rest in the fridge overnight…and to be honest, after a few hours some had been eaten already!  Light, sweet and chewy with a satisfying crunch just as you take a bite.  Perfection. (more…)

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Pear & Apple Pie

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In this spirit of Thanksgiving, which has just passed, it seemed appropriate to bake a pie.  My first thought was to bake a sweet potato  pie, being typically American,  but I just wasn’t confident about how it was going to taste, and let’s face it I’m not going to bake something that I can’t eat in vast quantities!

Plus there’s the pear kick that the blog is on at the moment so this pie was ticking many boxes.  My dinner guests didn’t seem sold on the sweet potato pie either, they both thought it was a main course accompaniment – so uncultured!

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This was my first ever full on pie.  Bearing that in mind I think it went okay.  In fact, I was pretty much delighted with it…before it went in to the oven.  I got distracted by eating the delicious roast chicken and all the trimmings and overcooked it just a tad.  Well, maybe a bit more than just a tad.  Carefully selected photos and Photoshop are masking a multitude of sins!

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Saying that, the end result was still pretty tasty and enjoyed by the three of us – with some leftovers, we’re not that bad.  The filling is sweet and spicy but using Bramley apples helps to keep everything balanced.

I’m definitely looking forward to making another pie, and maybe turning my oven down a little the next time. (more…)

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Chocolate and Peanut Butter Macarons

Macarons make me think of three things.  Decadence, holidays and Blair Waldorf.

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Macarons are luxurious little delicacies.  Often brightly coloured, usually exotic flavour combinations and almost always boxed to perfection.  The very act of going in to a Ladurée shop and being hit by the overwhelming scent of sweetness, then choosing your box and selecting a bounty of treats, is so extravagant.  Even the little bag they give you to carry away the little box is so over the top wonderful!  Yes, they are a little pricey but it’s not something I do every day.

Which is why they remind me of holidays.  No trip to London is complete without a stop at the Harrods branch of Ladurée, although last time I tried Pierre Herme instead.  The macarons were divine it’s just the experience, a concession within Selfridges, isn’t quite as glamourous.

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Glamour being an essential part of the perfect macaron, which is why, no doubt, they are Blair Waldorf’s , of Gossip Girl fame, favourite.  Sure she’s kinda mean, and bitchy, but she had the best clothes and even dated Dan Humphrey, she had it all!  Her favourite were pistachio, which is a excellent choice.  I enjoy salted caramel and rose flavours.

Despite all that, these macarons are keeping it real and down to earth in the flavour department.  The name, and the method, and the terminology may be fancy but chocolate and peanut butter is simple and delicious.  My favourite EVER flavour combination.  So making these macarons was a total no-braner!
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