Christmas profiteroles

I know I’ve been slow updating on my progress in the Bake Off competition I mentioned previously, and anyone who follows me on Twitter will already know the outcome, but here’s my week 3 pastry round update – I made profiteroles and got through to the final!

These are chocolate choux buns, with a chocolate orange and brandy cream filling, decorated with white chocolate and holly berries and leaves, to look like mini Christmas puddings.

For the competition, I decided I needed to up the ante on presentation, so I also made fondant icing snowmen and penguins, which turned out rather cute if I do say so myself!

The actual profiteroles were great, a festive flavour combination that would hopefully please anyone who doesn’t like actual Christmas pudding.

The judges must have liked them too, as I was put through to the final round, in which I went head to head with two other bakers  in the festive cake round – I will probably post the update on that when I can’t stand any more family Christmas time tomorrow…

Christmas profiteroles (adapted from Holly Bell’s recipe)

  • 60g cold butter, cubed
  • 150ml cold water
  • 55g strong white flour
  • 10g cocoa powder
  • 10g caster sugar
  • 2 medium eggs

For filling and decorating

  • 75g marscapone
  • 50g orange flavoured dark chocolate
  • 100ml whipping cream
  • 1-2 tsp brandy
  • 50g white chocolate
  • holly leaf and berry decorations (I got mine from Asda)

Start by getting all your ingredients laid out, as there’s no time for faffing about when making profiteroles! Holly’s instructions for making the pastry and baking the profiteroles are pretty comprehensive so I won’t repeat them, just add in the cocoa powder at the same time as the flour and sugar.

For the filling, start by melting the chocolate in a small bowl. Leave to cool, then beat in the marscapone and brandy (to taste, my taste is for a strong kick!) In a separate bowl, whisk the cream until it forms soft peaks, then fold into the chocolate mixture a third at a time. Use a piping bag to fill each of the profiteroles, piping into the hole you made to let the steam out.

To decorate, melt the white chocolate then spoon on top of each bun, letting it run down the sides. Add a few leaves and berries, then leave to set.

Someone at work said they were like profiterole canapes, which I think is a great idea if you’re having a Christmas party! Just keep them in the fridge and get them out about 30 mins before serving.

We_Should_Cocoa_V3

As these do have a nice good glug of brandy in, I’m going to enter them into this month’s We Should Cocoa challenge, hosted by Choclette, who chose alcohol as the festive theme. Excellent choice!

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Peach melba swiss roll

The colours of a peach melba alone are enough to make it an amazing dessert, before you even come to the fantastic flavours.

Peaches, raspberry, vanilla – what’s not to like?

I’ve had some leftover raspberry curd in my fridge waiting to be used for a while now, and I’m not quite sure why but I’ve had my heart set on it filling a swiss roll, so I’ve just been patiently waiting for the right time to make one.

I based it on a recipe from the Great British Bake Off cookbook for a flourless lemon cream roll, swapping the lemon in the sponge for vanilla, the lemon curd for my raspberry curd, and adding some fresh shopped peaches as I bought my first punnet of the year at the weekend and they are the best, juiciest, delicious peaches ever!

I reckon as desserts go, this is a pretty healthy one – the sponge is fatless and flourless, so as long as you ignore the whipped cream I think it’s almost virtuous!

The only thing that tainted this swiss roll is that the weather let me down and we didn’t have a gorgeous summer’s day to eat it on – but I guess that just means an excuse to make it again…

Peach melba swiss roll (very loosely adapted from The Great British Bake Off cookbook)

  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 5 tbsp raspberry curd
  • 150ml double cream
  • 1 fresh peach
  • icing sugar to dust

To make the sponge, line a 20 x 30cm baking tray with baking paper. Whisk the egg whites until stiff, then in a separate bowl whisk the egg yolks and sugar until light, airy and mousse-like – the book recommends 3 minutes, I took a little less. Fold the almonds and vanilla into the egg yolk and sugar mix, then fold in the egg whites gently, a third at a time, until completely mixed in. Spread into the baking tray and bake at 180 degrees for 20 minutes, until golden and springy. Remove from the oven and leave in the tray to cool, covered with another piece of baking paper and a damp tea towel.

Whip the cream until almost stiff, and peel, core and chop the peach into small pieces. When the sponge is cool, take the baking paper off the top, dust with icing sugar then flip the sponge over on top. Trim about half a centimetre off each side, and score a line 2cm in from one of the short edges, then spread the raspberry curd all over. Spread the cream on top of that, to within about 1 inch of the edge, then sprinkle the pieces of peach on top. Start rolling from the end where you scored the line, and keep going rolling tightly until you get to the end. Place on a plate seam-side down and keep in the fridge until ready to serve.

Chocolate truffle pie

As soon as I showed the pony a picture of this chocolate truffle pie on Handle the Heat, he was pretty adamant that it had to be the next thing I baked.

With a chocolate digestive base, chocolate ganache layer, chocolate mousse layer and whipped cream on top, I could kind of see where he was coming from…

It took a while to make, but only because of all the chilling stages, each individual part was really simple and the only thing that actually needs baking is the base.

Aside from about 1/10 of the pie which I ate, the pony polished the rest off in 4 days, and since he finished it hasn’t stopped going on about how much he misses it and wants it again, so I think it’s safe to say it’s every bit as good as it looks!

Chocolate truffle pie (recipe adapted from Handle the Heat)

Serves 10 people or one friendly pony

Biscuit layer

  • 250g chocolate digestives
  • 50g melted butter
  • 1tbsp sugar

Ganache layer

  • 170g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 2/3 cup double cream (165ml)

Mousse layer

  • 170g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups double cream (375ml)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Cream layer

  • 1 cup (250ml) double cream
  • 50g icing sugar
  • chocolate shavings to decorate

Start by greasing a 9″ high sided tin (I use an oil spray for this). Blitz the biscuits and sugar in a food processor until there are no big lumps left, then gradually add in the melted butter while the mixer is running – you might need a bit more or a bit less, but it should look like wet sand when it’s ready. Press the crumbs down into the base and up the sides of the tin, then bake at 190 degrees for 8 minutes, or until crisp and a little browner.

For the ganache, heat the cream until almost boiling, then pour over the chocolate. Stir until all the chocolate has melted, then pour over the base, spreading to the sides, and chill in the freezer for half an hour while you make the mousse.

Heat 1/2 cup of the cream (125ml) for the mousse in a bowl with the vanilla and chocolate, stirring until all the chocolate has melted. Leave to cool to room temperature (don’t try and speed this up in the fridge as it will quickly set too much). Whip the remaining cup (250ml) cream until vey soft peaks form, then fold in the cooled chocolate mixture. It might look like it’s not combining, but it will.

Spread over the ganache layer, then leave in the fridge overnight to set. To finish the pie, whip the cream and icing sugar until it can just hold it’s shape, then spread on top and sprinkle with chocolate shavings or whatever you fancy. Cut into thin slices – it’s quite rich! – and serve.

 

Coconut and lemon cream sandwich cake

With the gorgeous weather we’ve had this past week, baking with winter flavours has been out – bright, light, summery baking was needed to see in the spring.

This coconut and lemon cream sandwich cake fits the bill perfectly with two of my favourite fresh flavours combined in a simple but tasty cake.

The only downside of this cake was that I went a little over the top with the filling – after a 20 minute drive to work it had all spilled out the sides and needed quite a bit of a tidy before it was fit to be seen!

Another reason I loved this cake was that I got to use my new cake plate and dome that I was given for my birthday for the first time  – finally I can present my baking in something slightly nicer than a tupperware tub!

Coconut and lemon cream sandwich cake (my own recipe)

Cuts into 8 big slices

  • 225g butter
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 75g desiccated coconut
  • 225g self raising flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 3-4 tbsp lemon curd (I made mine following the Pink Whisk’s recipe)
  • 150ml double cream

Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, followed by the lime zest and juice and coconut. Sift in the flour and baking powder and lightly fold into the mixture. Divide between two greased and lined 8″ round cake tins, and bake at 180 degrees for 25-30 minutes, or until risen and golden and a skewer comes out clean.

Leave the cake to cool, then spread the lemon curd on top of one half. Whip the cream until it holds its shape, then spread on top of the lemon curd. Top with the second sponge, then dust with icing sugar to serve.

Profiteroles

The last time I tried to make profiteroles, it was a bit of a disaster

Pastry that didn’t quite puff, creme patissiere that was ever so slightly scrambled eggy – it ended up going straight in the bin.

I don’t like the idea of something so simple defeating me, so I decided it was time to try again.

I went with a whipped cream filling as I thought it might go better if I faced my issues one at a time – creme patissiere will have to wait for now.

I was very pleased when I opened the oven and found lovely golden puffed up balls – that retained their shape after having the holes poked in to let the steam out.

Profiteroles are no longer my nemesis!

Profiteroles (from the Little Loaf) with glossy chocolate sauce (from the Chocolate and Coffee Bible):

Makes 16 large-ish profiteroles

  • 60g strong plain flour
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 150ml cold water
  • 50g butter, diced
  • 2 eggs, beaten

Sift the flour and sugar together onto a piece of baking paper or foil, ready to shoot into the dough. Heat the water and butter in a saucepan over a medium heat and bring to the boil. As soon as it gets to boiling, remove from the heat and tip the flour in, all in one go. Whisk like mad until it forms a ball of dough that comes clean from the sides of the pan.

Transfer the dough to a mixing bowl, then add in the eggs a little at a time, whisking constantly. Stop when you have a thick glossy mixture – you may not need all the egg. Use two teaspoons to place small balls of dough on a lined baking tray, greased and sprinkled with a little water to help create steam. Bake at 220 degrees for 25 minutes, or until golden, puffy and hollow sounding.

Poke a hole in the bottom of each using one blade of a pair of scissors, then return to the oven for another five minutes to dry out. Leave to cool while you make the filling and sauce.

For the filling and sauce:

  • 300ml double cream
  • 10g icing sugar
  • 115g caster sugar
  • 60ml water
  • 175g dark chocolate
  • 25g butter

Whisk the cream and icing sugar until just thick enough to pipe. Use a piping bag to fill each profiterole through the hole you poked in the bottom.

For the sauce, heat the sugar and water in a saucepan until all the sugar has dissolved, then add in the chocolate and butter and stir until melted. Pour over the profiteroles while still hot (if you don’t want to eat them all at once, the sauce can be kept in a jug and reheated later).

Strawberries and cream chocolate Ivy cake

Last weekend, our neighbour Ivy celebrated her 91st birthday. NINETY-ONE!

This was definitely cause for a celebration cake. A bit of sneaky research revealed that creamy cakes are her favourite, so I set about making this strawberries and cream chocolate layer cake.

I used the same sponge recipe that I used for the chocolate gateau a while ago, but baked it in three layers as it rose out of the tin last time. I think this is definitely going to be my go-to recipe for chocolate layer cakes, it’s fudgey, chocolatey, and can hold the weight of several layers on top.

I spread each of the bottom two layers with melted strawberry jam, then piled on whipped cream with chopped strawberries mixed in. The top layer of the cake was decorated with a layer of chocolate ganache, halved strawberries arranged around the edge, and white chocolate writing.

We finished the cake with a few candles and took the it round to surprise Ivy. She loved it!

Strawberries and cream chocolate Ivy cake:

For the sponge

  • 250ml buttermilk
  • 125g plain chocolate
  • 125g butter or margarine
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 300g self raising flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder

Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of hot water. Cream together the butter and sugar then beat in the eggs one at a time. Sieve the dry ingredients into the cake and fold until well combined. Beat in half of the buttermilk, then the melted chocolate and remaining buttermilk.

Divide the mixture between three 7″ tins (I only have two so I baked then in two goes, and weighed the mixture to make sure each tin had the same amount). Bake at 180 degrees on the middle shelf of the oven, for approximately 2 minutes. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

For the filling and decoration

  • 300g strawberries
  • 275ml double cream
  • 50g icing sugar
  • 3-4 tbsp strawberry jam
  • 75g dark chocolate
  • 25g white chocolate

Halve 8 of the strawberries for the decoration and set aside. Finely chop the rest. Whip the cream until soft peaks are starting to form, then stir in the icing sugar and chopped strawberries.

Melt the jam, then brush onto two of the sponge layers. Divide the cream mix between the two sponges, and sandwich together.

Place the dark chocolate in a bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan until almost boiling, then pour over the chocolate and stir until well mixed. Refrigerate until thick enough to spread, then spread onto the third cake layer to within 1cm of the edge. Arrange the halved strawberries around the edge of the cake, then leave in the fridge until the ganache is set.

Melt the white chocolate and transfer to a piping back for the writing. It’s easier to decorate the top before it goes on the cake, so once the writing is done add the third layer. Add candles and celebrations and enjoy!

Banoffee pie tarts

These banoffee pie tarts were a last minute addition to my barbecue cake line up, when I realised I would have double the amount of pastry I needed for the mini white chocolate and strawberry tarts.

I thought about what would go well with the pecans in the pastry, and although I’ve never tried it before decided that pecan, banana and caramel was bound to be a winner.

I totally made this the cheat way with a tin of caramel, but when you’ve got 5 sets of cakes to make in a day speed is important!

If these were any bigger I think they’d be a bit too sweet for my tastes, but in such little bite size portions they were just right!

Banoffee pie tarts (makes about 15):

  • 1/2 quantity of pecan shortcrust pastry, recipe here
  • 2 bananas
  • 1 400g tin caramel (or dulce de leche if you want better quality!)
  • 300ml double cream
Once the pastry is baked and cooled, add a heaped teaspoon of caramel into each case. Chop one of the bananas and place the pieces on top of the caramel. Lightly whip the cream then spoon a dollop onto the top of each tart, then top with another slice of banana. Ridiculously easy!

Eton Mess

Meringue. Berries. Cream. How could anyone possibly not like that combination?!

I think Eton Mess might be one of my favourite summer desserts. That’s why when I had a couple of leftover egg whites, and I found a punnet of blueberries reduced to 50p, I knew exactly what to make.

The blueberries were the best I’ve tasted all summer, and the British strawberries were equally delicious. The fact that they survived long enough to make it into the dessert is down to some severe self restraint!

This barely counts as a recipe as it’s so, so simple.

Whisk 2 egg whites until stiff, then whisk in 110g of caster sugar a spoonful at a time. Blob on to a baking sheet and bake at a low temperature, 130-140ish. 30 mins will give you white meringues with a soft marshmallowy centre, an hour will produce crisper, golden meringues, it’s really down to your personal preference but I went for golden crispy.

Break up the meringues into small-ish chunks. Whip 300ml double cream with a little icing sugar, then pile into glasses with the meringue and whatever berries are available. That was my slight attempt to make it look nice, but really all mixed in together and chucked into a big bowl is equally as good!

I also kept one meringue back to make a mini pavlova, as the friendly pony had never have one before. Talk about deprived culinary upbringing!

Super Chocolate Gateau

So this weekend I had a specific cake request from a friendly pony – a chocolate gateau with chocolate cream, Sara Lee style. After much searching through recipe books and looking online, I was unable to find anything that would be chocolatey enough, so i decided to adapt a chocolate fudge cake recipe from Joanna Farrow’s ‘Chocolate’ cook book, substituting her praline cream for a chocolate cream and cherry jam filling.

The recipe calls for an 8″ round cake tin, but I decided to split it between two 7″ tins. Looking at the list of ingredients I didn’t think it would make that much – how wrong I was! It’s as high as it is wide, at least, and extremely chocolatey, so I would recommend eating in small slices – not that the friendly pony paid any attention to that…

Super chocolate cream gateau with the first slice missing

Super Chocolate Cream Gateau

Cake Ingredients:

  • 250ml milk
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 125g plain chocolate
  • 125g butter or margarine
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 300g self raising flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
Filling Ingredients:
  • 100g plain chocolate
  • 50g icing sugar, or to taste
  • 284ml double cream (I used light in a half-hearted attempt to cut calories)
  • about a third of a jar dark cherry jam
Method:
  • Add the lemon juice to the milk and leave to sour.
  • Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of hot water.
  • Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then beat in the eggs one at a time.
  • Sieve the flour, bicarb and cocoa powder in to the mixture and mix well (at the point the batter will be very thick and hard to mix).
  • Add half the soured milk and beat into the cake mix, then add the remaining milk and melted chocolate, beat until all combined.
  • Divide between two greased 7″ cake tins and bake at 160 degrees for 50 minutes, or until risen and a skewer comes out clean. Don’t overcook or it won’t turn out fudgy!
  • To make the chocolate cream, melt the chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of hot water and leave to cool. Whip the cream, then add a spoonful into the melted chocolate to loosen (if it looks like the chocolate is going to seize, pop in the microwave for 10 secs and it should be fine). Add the chocolate mix to the whipped cream and stir until combined. Sieve the icing sugar in and beat it all together, then leave in the fridge to cool.
  • To assemble, wait until the cakes are completely cooled then slice each one in half. Use one of the top halves and turn upside down  onto a plate to use as the base. Spread a third of the jam onto the sponge, then top with a quarter of the chocolate cream. Add another layer of sponge and repeat, and the same again with the third layer. Place the final layer of sponge on top (one of the tops) and spread the remaining cream over it. Dust with cocoa powder and serve!
Slice of chocolate fudge gateau with chocolate cream

The first HUGE slice of gateau, cut for the friendly pony