Christmas is coming and its time to get the cake out ! – flourless chocolate fruit and nut cake, with guinness… the alternative Xmas cake, & also gluten free ! 🎅🎄

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Been awhile since I posted anything seasonal on here for Christmas, usually it’s because I am so busy at work with mince pies, yule logs and other stuff to make Santa fatter… if that is at all possible.. I don’t have a frame of reference for his size to be honest, been awhile since a large jolly man has come down my chimney I have to say.

While typing this its been snowing here in East Dulwich, so adding to the festive feel of this post (in my head). And our two cats, Juno the kitten and Macy-Edith are staring out the window, this is Junos first snow being only 5 months old, Macy on the other hand, being nearly 11 yrs old, is wise to the stuff and a lot less impressedIMG_2933

The above paragraph has nothing to do with this recipe, I just like to find ways to shoe-horn something about my cats in ….they’re super cute (when not fighting)

I have been asked a few times to put up a Christmas cake recipe, but at the moment I can’t put up the recipe I use the most, as it will be published in march in the new Biscuiteers book ! which is exciting as I have never had a recipe published in print before, but promise to share a link to it when it’s out and will replicate it here next year after publication… don’t want any spoilers do we ? (side ways glance to boss)

This recipe is a version of a flourless chocolate cake recipe I use a lot, I have adjusted it and added fruit soaked in Guinness, and chopped Brazil nuts… It reminds me of a dark cocoa version of a Cadbury fruit and nut bar, but a tad more alcoholic of course, it’s based on the chocolate almond cakes from Italy, so is by chance gluten-free, not developed to be (I don’t know why but I deemed this to  this to be an important distinction 😏)

It’s quite dense and gooey like a brownie in away, but packed with ground almonds, it’s also about the same consistency as a normal fruit cake, but I think all the more enjoyable with the chocolate inside + plus a ganache topping to finish off.

I have decorated with sugared rosemary and cranberries, with sprayed gold bay leaves.. almost like a Christmas wreath, I actually took this cake to our friend & Neighbour Helen Lederers Christmas party, where someone suggested I hang it on the door 😶

(My husband insisted I mentioned the party as it would be camp… in fact the party was fab and camp and we managed to slice the cake up in small enough pieces to pass around…. coming home at 3.30 am however meant the next day was a little hazy  🎉🍷🍾)

So anyhow I’ve gone off on all sorts of tangents here, so if you’ve managed to hang in there on this post, here’s the recipe, I’ve added notes on replacements if you do not want to have alcohol, and of course how its decorated is entirely up to you, mine is just a suggestion.

Have a fabulous Christmas where ever you are… and a an amazing 2018 !

YOU WILL NEED:

8″ round tinned, greased and lined with parchment.. (on this occasion a loose bottom is preferred)

Some gold food spray, clear spray or egg white, some sprigs of rosemary

Fresh cranberries and a few bay leaves for decoration (all optional)

RECIPE:

230g Dark chocolate

150g unsalted butter

Melt the above over hot water

100g dried cranberries

80g chopped dried figs

80g chopped dried apricots

1tablespoon orange zest

soak in 200ml Guinness over night or a few hours before.

(for non alcoholic soak fruit in juice of 2 oranges)

100g chopped brazil nuts

5 eggs separated

115g caster sugar

3 tablespoons dark cocoa powder

2 teaspoons orange zest

1tsp mixed spice

1tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp ground black pepper

METHOD:

Fold sugar into chocolate/butter mix, then fold in egg yolks.

Add almonds zest and spices & cocoa powder

Fold in soaked fruit, and then chopped nuts.

Whisk egg whites on machine and fold in.

Divide between 1 x 8 “ lined round tin.

Bake at 155c for 55 mins.

GANACHE TOPPING:

125g Dark chocolate.

50g unsalted butter.

1 tablespoon of golden syrup.

1 tablespoon of rum (or orange juice if non alcoholic)

Either melt the chocolate, syrup and butter together in a microwave in stages, or

Melt together over hot water, add the rum or juice.

When cake is cooled spread over ganache, let it set a little then decorate.

Too make sugared rosemary either spray with clear confectioners glaze and roll in sugar, or brush with egg white and sugar and leave on a tray in a warm one for 10 minutes (about 110c) Do the same with the cranberries

I sprayed some bay leaves from my garden with a bronze food spray.

I am sure you creative bakers out there can come up with your own fabulous designs though 🤗

Happy I got the chance to use my fabulous cake stand I received from my friend Andrula & her  family for my recent BIG birthday.

METHOD GALLERY:

Follow the step by step gallery below, click on any picture to enlarge.

 

 

 

 

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Spiced pear, Fig and banana spelt loaf with a sticky nut topping … GET THE KETTLE ON !

 

You’ll love this warming sticky loaf … trust me !

Wow Another post, So soon after the last one, they’ve been pretty thin on the ground over the last few years, so why the pick up ? Nothing to do with getting a reminder about my annual  wordpress subscription and that I really should be using it and not wasting my dosh…. no of course not, nope 😏

Truth be told a lovely friend who is one of the best cooks and cocktail makers I know, gave me and the husband some of her home made Jam – Plum, rose and Cardamom… now I am not saying this because she’s a friend, but it is pretty amazing and far too good for toast.

The amazing Jam !

So I was thinking at the same time of my next recipe on here, thinking about some of the fruits around about now – some of my favourites. Also about time I blogged one of the many loaf cakes I have made at various workplaces, and thought of this… a banana loaf – with pear & figs, not only that but made with spelt flour and topped with a maple toffee nut glaze   (if it wasn’t for all that sugar it would practically be a health food ! 😆)

The pears and figs are left covered in allspice and black pepper for a while, the pepper enhances the warmth of the spice flavours, and I use spelt for its marvellous nutty almost treacly flavour, which compliments the nut topping… all in all this goes splendidly with the above mentioned Jam… and hence this post was born (I got there in the end)

One sweet toothed kitten.

I had a little helper, well I had to keep her away from jumping up on the food counter, so not so helpful really.. our new member of our family, our kitten Juno, who eventually got her away and was allowed a lick of the spatula when I’d finished.

*DIGRESSING FROM POST KLAXON*

Speaking of plums, I am always reminded of a time I worked at the pastry kitchen  of the staff restaurant at the headquarters of BP Oil many years ago, there a tour of the kitchens by one of the top dogs at the company, and also the person responsible for who got the catering contracts… he popped into the pastry section where myself and the commis pastry chef were.

We had large windows and he noticed it was a really frosty late spring morning.

He said loudly, some what exsapserated …..

“LOOK AT THAT FROST !!!”

“WELL I CAN KISS MY PLUMS GOODBYE !!!”

I don’t know how I kept that straight face, not so my commis who I had to shunt out the way when he wasn’t looking.

*END OF DIGRESSION*

So anyway if you fancy making it here’s how.

I used a mix of Pistachios, pecans, almonds, walnuts and hazelnuts…. you can choose what ever you want, or just one, pecans on their own are great, or just leave out the nuts if you prefer and just pour over the sticky glaze.

And if you want to follow my  jam making friend here,  @cocktail_queeny on instagram, feel free.. to see what else she creates !

YOU WILL NEED

A Loaf tin greased and lined with parchment.

( I used one that was 8.5″ long, 4.5″ wide  & 2.5″ Deep.)

An oven pre heated to 160c

INGREDIENTS.

Ingredients

  • 150g  unsalted butter
  • 100g  soft brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 250g Whole meal spelt flour
  • 1/2  teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon mixed spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 Teaspoon cider vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 bananas, mashed
  • 120g buttermilk
  • 2 ripe-ish pears
  • 2 fresh figs
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper (from a mill Is best)

NUT GLAZE

  •  100ml double cream
  • 100ml maple syrup
  • 100g  roughly chopped mixed nuts

 

METHOD GALLERY:

Alternatives:

You can use any different combination of fruit you fancy with this recipe, Plum and blackberry, apple and blueberry, even mix nuts into the batter rather on top.

Whisky, maple, orange poached pears, Ginger Parkin & blackberry compote – bridging late summer to autumn 🍐🍂

 

Ah here we go, another post by moi, been few and far between this year… but I couldn’t help but post this one, seems the right time … the leaves are turning fantastical colours, the nights are drawing in… & the squirrels are fumbling with their nuts and digging up my bulbs in the garden

(hey !! ?.. what, they are doing WHAT !) 🐿😡☠️)                        

We had some lovely friends around for dinner last night, and I was scratching my head about what to do. These days my job basically involves cakes, brownies and Macarons etc, for the two Biscuiteers cafes I supply, so I don’t get the chance much to plate any actual desserts these days. So after mulling over some of my favourite things I like to shove in my gob this time of year I came up with this trio…. gorgeous gooey ginger Parkin, pears baked in whisky, orange and maple syrup (I really like the whisky part of course) … and a deep red blackberry compote with some rosemary and juniper thrown in… so sort of paying an homage to the end of summer with the fruit, and foretaste of autumn/ winter with the Parkin and whisky (well whisky can warm me up anytime of year tbh… along with a certain actor …. sorry.. distracted myself there….)

So here’s the recipe for all three, you can either go the whole hog and make the whole shebang, or choose a bit of each, treat yourself to some Parkin, make the compote to drizzle on some ice cream….. or just drink the whisky and forget about the pears etc

I made the Parkin individual like, you can do the same if you have the moulds, or use a small loaf tin and serve as slices, or bake in a tray and cut into squares.

This Parkin recipe is made with wholemeal flour, and deserves soaking with some lovely syrup, like the reduced one from the baked pears, with a bit of the compote juice thrown in.

I’ll stop blah blah blahing now and write up the recipe, the usual step by step gallery is added too … you know the drill, click on the picture to enlarge etc etc…. Enjoy !😉😋

YOU WILL NEED:

Small sauce pan.

Medium high sided baking dish.

Either individual baking pans, a small loaf tin or 6″ square cake tin.

Some dinner guests to try this on, just grab someone of the street and scream eat this! if you must 😛

PS … I like to leave the skin on the pears, I think it adds texture and soaks up the flavours nicely in those fibres… also good for you apparently.

PPS … I’m finished now.

SERVES 6

RECIPE:

Parkin

140g fine oatmeal
140g whole wheat flour
450g pound Black Treacle warmed
1 tbsp ground ginger ( level tbsp)
115g unsalted butter
1 tbsp milk
1/2 tsp baking soda

 

170c conventional oven 160c fan

Mix the flour, oatmeal and spice

Melt the butter and treacle in a pan, leave to cool slightly

Dissolve the baking soda in the milk

Add the warmed treacle and fold this into the dry ingredients to make a soft batter.

Spoon into a greased moulds or tins of choice

Bake for 30 minutes, check, may need 5 minutes more, but watch they don’t burn on top, they need to be still moist in middle.

 

PEARS:

3 pears

juice of two oranges + zest of one

150ml whisky

120g maple syrup

5 cardamom pods

¼ tsp cinnamon

Half the pears, leave the skin on, core the middle with a melon scoop or teaspoon.

Place in deep oven dish core side down, pour over whisky, juice and zest.

Add spices.

Bake in oven at 175c conventional or 165 fan for at least 40-45 mins

Check pears half way through and turn over so core side up

NOTE: they may need longer if under ripe, or less if very ripe.

COMPOTE:

2 punnets blackberries

Juice of 1 orange

80g caster sugar

4 dried Juniper berries

2 sprigs rosemary

150 ml water

2 teaspoon cornflour dissolved in a little water

Bring water, sugar juice to boil add berries and rosemary.

Then add blackberries, simmer for 3 minutes

Remove the sprigs of rosemary

Add the dissolved cornflour and cook out, leave to cool slightly

ASSEMBLING:

Take the pears out of the syrup, place syrup in pan and simmer for a couple of minutes to reduce the liquor slightly.

Trim the Parkin, place on plate, prick top with a fork or skewer and pour over some of the hot syrup

Place a pear halve alongside the Parkin with the core showing

Warm up the compote, spoon some in the core and round the pear and parkin, drizzle some of the juice over the Parkin if you like.

FINISHING TOUCHES:

Place a spoon of creme fraiche on top of the Parkin, sprinkle a little syrup over

SUGGESTIONS:

If you don’t fancy the creme fraiche, serve with double or clotted cream, Ice cream or even some warm vanilla custard ( Might actually try that next time I make this… dammit I’m in the mood for custard now !)

METHOD GALLERY:

Gluten free ? yep it is, a strawberry and lime tart with (garden) mint meringues.

Here we go a new blog post… well I thought I had better put something up seeing as I’ve just paid my yearly fee for this thing 😉

A lot of people have been asking me for a good gluten-free pastry recipe, so I thought while I was making this tart at home recently I would blog about it too with a gluten-free pastry recipe….. I’m like that you see, like to kill two birds with one stone.. (how ever I would never kill a bird, or even be that good an aim, my cat on the other hand….)

The filling for this recipe is cream cheese based, with lots of tangy lime which is my favourite pairing flavour with Strawberries, I have added meringues made with mint from my garden, you can use the same fresh mint you can buy from most grocers if you haven’t got any growing.

When making this pastry, don’t be alarmed by how wet it seems, most gluten-free  flours are much “drier” than wheat flour, this extra moisture is to compensate, it will firm up nicely once chilled .

Unlike most sweet pastry recipes, this has whole egg rather than just yolk, the egg white helping to give extra structure which is lacking due to no gluten being present, I have added a small amount of xanthan gum, just a small amount is needed, as the final mixing is a bit longer to incorporate the flour and moisture more, so the gum gets a good work into the paste, so too much will give a slight “rubbery” feel.

This pastry can be rolled quite thin, and re-rolls quite easily with out getting elastic.

Well, let’s get on with it … can’t abide these recipe posts where the writer goes on and on and on and on ….  👀 😉

YOU WILL NEED:

A 9″ tart ring

Baking tray.

Two piping bags

A glass of pimms to use up any left over strawberries and mint with (or a sneaky strawberry daiquiri)  🙂

PASTRY:  Make day before, or place in freezer for couple of hours to set.

150G Gluten free white flour l  (I use doves farm as my a brand of choice)

75g icing sugar

75g unsalted butter

1/4 tsp Xanthan gum

1 egg

1 teaspoon  milk.

1 teaspoon orange zest

METHOD GALLERY:

MINT  MERIGUES: Can be made a day or so in advance.

Oven at 140c

80g egg white (approx 2 eggs)

160g caster sugar (weigh in two separate 80g batches)

5 good size mint leaves

METHOD GALLERY: Meringues.

 

FILLING RECIPE & HOW TO ASSEMBLE TART

Oven on 160c to start to bake tart case.

450g full fat cream cheese (Philadelphia is my fave)

150g caster sugar

2 eggs

3 limes Juice of all, zest of one.

1 teaspoon of good vanilla extract

Cream all the above together until smooth, careful not to beat too much air in.

Bake tart case then turn oven down to 155c for filling.

METHOD GALLERY:

TO FINISH

Strawberry topping.

500g fresh strawberries hulled and halved

80ml water

80g caster sugar

30g corn flour dissolved in a small amount of water

100ml double cream whipped with a bit of sugar and vanilla essence to garnish.

METHOD GALLERY:

 

Hello… long time no blogging, It’s been a while !

Hiya ! … yep it’s me, not been on here for a while, about a year and a half I reckon.img_7573

It’s not you…its me you know, I haven’t been sure for a while where this blog was going, and also I have been getting my head down and getting my career back on track after my redundancy at Spring studios in 2015…. More on that in 2017.

well for those in the know, I have been working at the Biscuiteers baking company since April 2015, (based in my manor of south London)  who are pretty much famous the world over for their hand iced biscuit collections, with concessions in some fine retail outlets.

I Myself am not involved in the biscuit side, but rather the cake side, as they have two marvellous boutiques bakeries in Notting hill and Northcote road, clapham, I supply  & develop ranges of Macarons, tarts, cakes and tray bakes for their cafe options, and have been involved in setting up a pastry team to take this forward, so you can imagine, a lot of stuff to do and no time for blogging my fancies online .

Looking back on some of the posts on here I have not been too sure if this was for me anymore, It all seems a bit all over the place, a few marzipan figures here, some tarts, a bit of gluten-free, some dodgy baking innuendo and really bad iPhone photos, but I have decided to make 2017 the year I give it ago again, some posts I have written will be trashed in a “eww what was I thinking kinda frame of mind’ ..& I will try to restore some order and continuity, probably giving some more time over to Gluten free items and other free from sweet lovelies.

I am removing some of my categories and tidying up the space here… it’s like my 15-year-old selfs bedroom, things I liked for about 5 minutes and the shoved under the bed  or in the sock draw  (in the case of this blog, the side bar)

So anyhow, enough of the babbling, lets see if I can give this another go.. so looking forward to starting “The Cake-Shaker” .2 and seeing where it goes, and If you have any ideas of what you would like to see, or anything you want to find out more about… just drop me a message.

I’ll get a “Happy new year”  in to you all  in early, and see you in 2017.

Heres a few highlights from 2016.

 

Blondie bombshell in a (salty nutshell) White chocolate & salted peanut butter Blondie.

So you have the brownies Right ? .. all gooey and sweet, dark and chocolatey…and er.. Brownie-ish ?

But what about the light side, not the dark ? well don’t panic, if its white chocolate you like, here’s the recipe for you !

Now because white chocolate is quite sweet, I decided to stick my salty nuts in my recipe, ( yes I know, sorry about that, I can’t help myself)

So here’s a blondie recipe using peanut butter, plus salted peanuts… I like that whole contrast between sweet & salty, thats why one of my guilty pleasures is a chocolate digestive with a bit of strong cheddar on.. (trust me, it’s similar) 😉

Leave to cool., cut to desired size ...and scoff ;)

A salty mouthful with a sweet punch, what’s not to love ? 😉

Just like brownies are, you know …well,  brown, blondes get their name from the sandy colour of the final cake, more so with the peanut butter in this case.

YOU WILL NEED:

A an 8 inch square cake tin

A bowl of water over a saucepan of hot (not boiling water)

stirring spoon or whisk

A separate mixing bowl to mix all together in.

INGREDIENTS:

150g white chocolate.

160g butter

200g  crunchy peanut butter

120g soft brown sugar

1oog plain flour

1/2  teaspoon baking powder.

(For gluten-free use 130g gluten-free flour, or 100g fine rice flour + 2 tablespoons of rapeseed oil)

180g salted peanuts.

2 pinches of sea salt.

1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon.

4 eggs.

METHOD:

Place a bowl over a pan of hot water (make sure bowl isn’t touching water)

Place the butter, peanut butter and white chocolate in the bowl and leave to melt while stirring, add  2 pinches of sea salt & cinnamon.

When melted take of heat, stir in the sugar, then beat in the eggs, then fold in the flour & baking powder.

Pour into your  tin lined with parchment, then sprinkle over the rest of the nuts.

Bake at 160c (155 fan) for 40-45 minutes, test with a small knife or skewer, if it’s slightly tacky that’s fine, not wet.

Leave to cool.

METHOD GALLERY:

Click on any image to enlarge.

 

Alternatives:

Add salted or unsalted Cashews for a smokier flavour ( see photo below ), or honey roasted peanuts on top for a totally different flavour, salted Almonds are great too.

Add some dark chocolate chips into the mix ( about 150g ) or top with a dark chocolate ganache (recipe below) to get a “salted snicker bar” type Blondie.

Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or any ice creamy prefer, with warm chocolate sauce (recipe below)

CHOCOLATE SAUCE:

100ml single cream

75g dark chocolate

Teaspoon of golden syrup

Teaspoon of dark cocoa powder

Warm cream in pan with chocolate and syrup, then add cocoa powder until smooth sauce is formed, warm brownie in oven, serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream & the sauce.

Ganache topping.

1ooml single cream

100g dark chocolate

2 teaspoon of honey (or 1 tablespoon of maple syrup)

tablespoon of sunflower or rapeseed oil, or try olive oil for totally different flavour.

Bring cream to the boil,turn down heat add chocolate , stir, then add honey stir in, then slowly add oil.

spread over Blondie and set in fridge.

 

Same recipe above, but using salted or plain cashews, about 200g sprinkled on top before baking.

Same recipe above, but using salted or plain cashews, about 200g sprinkled on top before baking.

It’s been the best of times, the worst of times, now time for exciting new opportunity times…goodbye Spring studios !

..... It was all downhill fromm here on ;)

….. It was all downhill from here on 😉

What’s this all about you may ask ?

Well it all began with a magpie ………….

I woke up on the Monday morning a few weeks ago, ready for the week ahead, eating my half a grapefruit for breakfast (a tradition I carry on from my grandmother) and I was staring into our garden, thinking “looks nice out does that”

Then a magpie landed straight in front of my view on our bird bath. Now in most cases I’m not particulary superstitious, or even remotly religious, but for some reason I always find myself saluting a lone magpie 3 times, you know, just incase like.

The whole spell was broken by a wood pigeon swooping down and starting to knock seven bells out of said Magpie, which spilled out on to the lawn, my money was on the pigeon, it looked pissed.

Sooo anyhow, off to work I went after the avian punch up at the bird bath, on my bike to a normal Monday work routine. When I arrived at the studios I started stuffing the bar in the restaurant with cookies & brownies, sorting out that weeks al a carte menu, and going through the days production sheet to see what clients I was to be stuffing all things sweet and gooey down that day.

That afternoon as I was walking across the restaurant to adjust my muffins, ( they always seem to get a bit unruly ) When a young lady from HR handed me an envelope and sat me down, I was to be put on a two-week redundancy notice due to a change in business and cost cutting…..Well first of all I was like “EH?” then I was “OH!” Then the news settled in and I was surprised to feel quite calm and a bit tingly, almost excited for some strange reason.

To be honest, I sort of saw this coming, the studios had changed, become even more successful, they were streamlining areas and saving money to put into other areas that were more successful, the restaurant was the smallest part of the operations, and they decided to save my wages and just out source the pastry side of things, I was basically a luxury that didn’t make sense on paper, I get that business is business, the restaurant is still going, just without a pastry chef, like a lot of restaurants do.

I had a great run at the studios, 8 years of association ( with a 7 month gap where I worked at love Bakery in 2010 )

It was so different to my previous 20 years in the world of corporate fine dining, I worked entirely on my own, I didn’t even have a head chef or restaurant or catering manager above me, I was treated as a creative, and allowed to go down my own path with the full support of the studios (which I did have during times when it was really needed especially during one period there)

So thank you Spring studios for giving me a time in my career where I forged my own identity in my profession & for allowing me to grow, there’s no hard feelings at all, I made many friends who will be with me in the years to come.

So my two weeks notice period passed real quick, in a blink of an eye I now find myself unemployed.

So what next ?

I have been very lucky in the support I have had from friends & family, lots have given me leads to where to send my CV so big wet kiss to all those, who gave me messages of support & sent my CV to people they think might be interested in little ole me.

I used all my social media accounts to announce my redundancy & promote my CV and job ability, the response there has been brillliant ! especially on LinkedIn, I posted a piece about my redundancy which proved very popular, and now have a folder full of new connections and agents I didn’t have before.

I now have interviews lined up & the promise of some work trials ( not going to say much incase I jinx them )

The one thing about the studios is that catering is not their main business, they are not a catering company, so one thing I am looking forward to is hopefully working for a company who’s main business is catering, like I used to, I did miss being part of a large brigade of chefs to be honest, so I’m looking forward to being part of one again soon.

I also now have to think about how I can help myself, I have an idea about away to expand this very blog and the Cake-Shaker name, it’s early days yet, but watch this space 😉

Don’t worry, there are a still a few recipes to go up on here, I have the photo’s in the bag and the recipes to write up…obviously I now have the time to do it and no excuses .

Anyway ….. F%*@**G  MAGPIE !!  😉

 

 

Click on link below for my farewell to Spring slide show 🙂

https://flipagram.com/f/TMzAT3EJsn/embed

Cookie dough, the way to go, the recipe I’m most asked for.

Cookie Jenga annyone ?

Cookie Jenga annyone ?

Yes yes… I know there are hundreds of cookie dough recipes out there these days, but it’s my most asked for recipe.  So I have been procrastinating about posting this recipe ever since I started this blog, I don’t know why, it’s not like I am being overly protective of it or don’t want to share.

And here It is, I think my main reason for posting now is due to pure laziness, once it’s here I no longer have to scribble it down for people who asks me for it at work, just point them in this direction.

I truly do not know where this recipe originated from, but as usual it’s one thats been tinkered with over the past decade, it used to contain oats, but I did away with that so it was more soft and chewy, This version has chocolate chips in, the most popular one I sell.  But it is a really versatile recipe and you can customise it how you ever you want, I’ll leave some ideas at the end of this post.

I can’t tell you how many of these I have made over the years, but for a charity event I made 3000 one day a few  years ago, ! Oh my goodness ! I think I didn’t get my sense of smell back to normal for at least a week, I could just smell cookie dough for ages afterwards !

I make quite a bit at work..this will last a couple of days, if that ;)

I make quite a bit at work..this will last a couple of days, if that 😉

They are now a consent staple where I work, there is always a jar on the bar in the restaurant, or I sometimes send them into studios where clients are working, still warm on the baking tray.  One thing you will notice is the amazing aroma, all due to the cinnamon and vanilla …. who needs scented candles, just knock up a batch of these before your guests come around, better than any old potpourri your mum might have 😉

You can make any size you like…big ones, small ones, some as big as your head, just remember to adjust cooking times.

YOU WILL NEED:

A pre-heated oven at 160c ( 155c fan )

A baking tray lined with a baking mat or parchment

A mixing bowl

Some disposable gloves ( incase you are precious about getting dough under your nails, but optional if you want to lick yourself clean of dough after you have finished )

That is all.

Please note, my actual recipe is for a huge bulk amount for work, so I have scaled it down here, but all pictures are taken at work us using my normal amount, so will look a lot bigger than you will have while making this recipe.

This will make about 10-12 largish cookies or 15-20 smaller, this dough can keep for a week, wrapped in the fridge, and can easily be frozen.

Best eaten while a bit warm out of the oven, or can be kept for 3-4 days in a sealed container

TIP: “Refresh” cookies a few days old by placing in a warm oven for 5 minutes, making the chocolate chips gooey.

INGREDIENTS:

320g unsalted butter.

460g soft light brown sugar.

3 eggs, medium.

3 tablespoons of milk

540g Self raising flour + 1 teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons of vanilla essence

2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon.

200g dark chocolate buttons/chips.

200g white chocolate buttons/chips.

(You can add more chocolate if you are feeling naughty)

 

METHOD:

Beat the butter and sugar until it’s light and fluffy.

Beat in the eggs one at a time until fully incorporated.

Beat in the milk, vanilla, and cinnamon.

fold in the flour.

fold in the chocolate buttons

 

Place in a container, cover and place in the fridge for a couple of hours to firm up.

BAKING:

For large cookies weigh around 150g of dough, roll into ball and flatten to about 1/2 an inch on tray, place cookies at least 2 inches apart bake at 160c (155c fan ovens) for 15 minutes.

For smaller cookies weigh around 75g dough, roll into balls and flatten as above, bake for around 8-10 minutes.

Leave for 10 mins before eating, I don’t want to be sued for causing lip blisters due to molten chocolate chips 😉

VARIATIONS

Oat & Raisin

Take out 50g sugar, add 50g oats add 200g raisins instead of chocolate, raisins are nice soaked in rum for a couple of hours before hand if you like (if you want chocolate and oaty cookies, just leave the chocolate buttons in)

White chocolate, cherry and cinnamon

Add 250g white chocolate 150g chopped glace cherries

( you can replace the 1 teaspoon of cinnamon with with two ground ginger for a spicier cookie, or add chopped stem ginger in syrup)

Date and pecan

200g chopped pitted dried dates & 250g chopped pecans add 1 teaspoon of ground cardamom as well as cinnamon..

Christmas cookies.

200g dried cranberries, 250g white chocolate chips, 1 tsp cinnamon, 2 ginger, zest of one clementine.

I will get back to you on a gluten free version, that’s still a work in progress.

METHOD GALLERY:

click on any image below to enlarge.

©The Cake-Shaker 2015

Fig and berry marshmallow…. With some “Frankenstien brains” thrown in for halloween 👻 !

Squares of marshmallow with a campari shot

Squares of marshmallow with a campari shot

Marshmallows …Where DO I start, well they have been around for donkeys years, and get the name from a plant (The Marsh Mallow plant of course)  which the powdered roots were originally used to make a gelatinous medicine for sore throats, & later confections, mainly in the middle east at first.

Then us Europeans got in on the act and started messing about with them, the french mainly  (of course they did, those confectionary geniuses)  and they were then mainly made using gelatine or egg whites. due to the fact the original plant root was a bit hard to come by & wasn’t cheap. It was often flavoured with rose. These days the main bulk of theses spongy morsels is a boiled sugar syrup & gelatine thats flavoured.

Frankenstein Marshmallow braaiiiinnnssss !

Frankenstein Marshmallow braaiiiinnnssss !

Marshmallows have had a resurgence of late, “gourmet marshmallows” as they are known, are made with more natural ingredients, Like fruit purees, chocolate …even alcohol ! ( yes…I like that last one) People have been really inventive with them and coming up with all sorts of concoctions….so of course I had to have a play 😉

The following recipe is made with a gelatine base ( I am not keen on the egg white base)  I know this isn’t really vegetarian friendly, but I will be updating this blog post once I have experimented with other bases like Agar and will keep you informed. But for now I am using a gelatine recipe, using a fruit puree as a flavour, in this case fig and berry, Mainly because at the time I was writing this post, summer had given way to Autumn and I was using these as they were in season.

I used ready made purees in this recipe from Boiron, Funkin purees are also perfect for this recipe (links below)

HALLOWEEN KLAXON !! Yes ! my fave part of the cakey calendar is about to fall upon us as I write, and I couldn’t resist using marshmallow  for halloween treats. It’s spongy texture is perfect to make “flesh like” treats for the creepy season, I also used food pipettes filled with raspberry puree to add a bit of “mad scientist” to them and moulded the mix in some brain chocolate moulds I bought online (I will leave relevant links at the end of the post)

You can also make some “Zombie flesh” making square of marshmallow, and rolling in a mix of cornflour and icing sugar coloured with green powder, stick a pipet of raspberry “blood” and away you go 👻.

Raspberry marshmallow Zombie flesh, with a blood transfusion… Lovely ! 💀

 

Bloody marshmallow brains ...YUM ! ;)

Bloody marshmallow brains …YUM ! 😉

I flipping loved how they came out ! real creepy like 🙂 I have still used the pipettes in normal squares of marshmallow , so people can squeeze a bit of loveliness over them to add a bit of oomph, I have even used pipettes filled with cocktails (filth !)

You can use any combination of puree you want to, as with all these recipes and this blog, the aim is to get you to experiment yourselves 😉

Now I haven’t really touched on sugar boiling before, so heres a first, you will need a sugar/jam thermometer for this one…and keep it handy, as I have another recipe coming up which will need it soon.

YOU WILL NEED:

A heavy based saucepan

A Sugar/ Jam thermometer

An eight to ten inch cake tin or brownie pan.

An electric whisk and bowl.

INGREDIENTS:

20g gelatin powder or 7 leaves of Dr Oetker size gelatine, soaked in around 150mls of water.

150ml fig Puree 100ml raspberry puree* } You can use any combination of purees as long as you get a combined amount of 240mls liquid.

120g golden syrup

420g caster sugar

180ml water 1/2 tsp lemon juice ( to help the flavours “punch” through the sugar syrup)

Cornflour to dust.

METHOD:

Line your tin with oil or cake release spray, then line the bottom and side with baking parchment (not greaseproof paper) I find this better then cling film as it leaves less creases in the end product…you can dust it with cornflour too.

Mix the gelatine powder, purees & lemon juice together in your mixing bowl and allow the gelatine to soak up the liquid and swell. If using leaves soak them in  the cold water until they have swelled and are spongey (bloomed) Then take them out squeezing out any excess water.

In your pan place the sugar, syrup, water and bring to the boil, continue boiling (washing down sides with a brush and water to stop crystals forming) and using the thermometer, keep boiling until it reaches 120c (hard ball) Take of the heat and leave until it stops bubbling.

Next (and be careful here as you are using a very hot liquid) whisk into puree/gelatine mix, gradually speed up the whisk until its high, and whisk until mix has doubled in size  and is a much lighter colour…almost like bubble gum. If using leaves, pour the syrup over the puree and start whisking, as you add the soaked leaves, they will melt when they hit the heat of the syrup.

Using a greased spoon or spatula ease the marshmallow into your tin, place some more parchment over the top and press down. Leave to cool for at least 4 hours.

If you use the brain moulds, oil the moulds and dust with cornflour, pipe the mallow in each mould and press down to get the mould detail on each one.

TO SERVE:

when set, turn out the mallow onto a corn floured surface, cut into squares to size you want, you can dust with cornflour or dip in chocolate, or use food pipettes filled with fruit puree or alcohol to add a little something special.

With the brain moulds  you can gently Peel them out the moulds. I brushed them with jam first to make them look “bloody”

You don’ t have to have brain moulds for a Halloween treat, brush squares of marshmallow with an edible skin tone food colour powder, and stick a pipette with red berry coulis in for a “cube of human flesh” … even better, while whisking the mallow, add a bit of green food paste to give a zombie flesh feel.

USEFUL LINKS: –          Food Pipetes        Boiron purees

Brain moulds       Funkin Purees

METHOD GALLERY:

use the gallery* below to view the method, click on any image to enlarge.

*Note: The amounts look larger than they will for the recipe given above, as I make much larger amounts at work, I have adjusted recipe to give you a smaller amount, but the method shown is the same. Also colour may vary in photos as I have photographed different types I have made over the year, Images are just to illustrate the method

HALLOWEEN “FRANKENSTIEN” BRAINS GALLERY ! Make using recipe as above, will fill at least 8 brain moulds.

© The cake-Shaker 2014

Mastering chocolate with the “Mast brothers – A family cookbook” and falling in love with Brooklyn, NYC. (including my fave recipe, an ingenious chocolate blueberry pie)

The Mast Brothers factory and shop, I was mesmerised by the smells, flavours and feel of the place.

The Mast Brothers factory and shop, I was mesmerised by the smells, flavours and feel of the place.

As you may or may not have noticed, if you’ve been wandering through this blog, is that one of my fave places on the planet is New York city.

I was lucky enough to visit again in March this year with the husband, Terry Ronald, who has been going there for 25 yrs after working out there in the early 90’s, hence we have a New York family of friends as well as the ones back here in London.

This year we explored a  lot more of Brooklyn, which has gone on to become THE place to be in NYC, especially Williamsburg, which our friend Leticia, who’s lucky enough to be a long-standing Brooklyn resident, took us on a tour of. Now Leticia loves her chocolate, & one place she took us to was The Mast brothers chocolate factory and retail shop, and boy, was I blown away by the creativeness & flavours.

The mast Brothers Marvellous book in their retail shop, Brooklyn.

The mast Brothers Marvellous book in their retail shop, Brooklyn.

At Mast brothers we handcraft chocolate in away that seeks to highlight the unique characteristics of its exceptional ingredients, cacao and sugar. Ingredient-focused cooking always respects the process in its entirety: from ground to mouth, farmer to customer, bean to bar.

The above quote is from the Mast brothers, A family cookbook, Which I picked up and bought, while at their shop, which in itself is amazing, with glass screens from which behind chocolatiers worked away to the brothers formulas, like chocolate alchemists. Of course we took full advantage of the tasting pieces on offer, and bought a couple of bars for our friend from Manhattan, Michele, who also highly recommended we visit this area & shop too.

Once back in the UK I completely became obsessed with this book (being obsessed with chocolate and with munching as much of it as I can throughout my time here on earth helped) and didn’t waste anytime in trying out some of the recipes, they have away with mixing flavours you wouldn’t think off, including savoury combos, including scallops & pork.

The Photography and design of this book, is just perfect.

The Photography and design of this book, is just perfect.

I like the fact they have gone much further than fair trade, by dealing with the cacao farmers direct & forming a strong relationship with them, so getting the best sourced ingredients for their marvellous creations.

This is something I don’t normally do when I write about a book on here, include my favourite recipe. So below is a recipe for a blueberry and dark chocolate pie, I’ve made it a couple of times, and it’s so simple, and involves a flavour combo and method that I am envious of not coming up with myself.

(I have added a tip on how to make a gluten free version of the crust at the end of the recipe below)

The book will soon be  available locally where I live  in East Dulwich at Roullier white, I raved about it so much to our friend Lawrence , the proprietor, that he checked it out & liked it so much he decided to stock it. (will post a link as soon as it’s available online, or you could visit the shop in ED)

This was one of the best things I bought in NYC on this particular trip  (well that and my vintage ghost busters hoodie I bought for $7 in a Williamsburg thrift shop)  🙂

If you can get hold of a copy please do, its such a lovely book and totally inspiring … even to an old pastry chef who’s been around the block like myself 😉

MAST BROTHERS

A FAMILY COOKBOOK.

by Rick & Michael Mast

Published by Little Brown book company, Hachette book group

Available on Amazon and coming soon to Roullier white’s book selection

RECIPE- The Mast brothers chocolate blueberry pie.

You will need: An 8 inch pie dish (or an  loose bottom tart case which I used as I didn’t have a dish)

An oven at 180c, 350f  (160c if using an a fan oven)

ingredients (I have converted from cup measures to grams for us on this side of the pond) 🙂

CRUST

1 1/2 cups (180g) of plain flour.

6 tablespoons of cocoa powder (dark).

1 teaspoon sea salt.

3/4 (180g)  cups unsalted butter

1/4 (25g)  cup icing sugar

1 egg yolk.

1.5 teaspoons of double cream.

FILLING:

5 cups of fresh Blueberries  (I found 5 Punnets was adequate).

2 onces (90g) of dark chocolate, chopped + extra for shaving over pie after baking.

1 cup (200g)  of castor sugar

4 Tablespoons of cornflour.

METHOD GALLERY:

Below is a gallery of the how to make the pie, click on any image to enlarge.

Note: I made a gluten free version of the crust by substituting plain flour with  doves farm gluten free flour with 1/4 teaspoon of xanthan gum and 1 teaspoon of orange juice for the crust and left it 15 minutes longer to chill in refrigerator.

© THE CAKE-SHAKER 2014