Posts Tagged With: marzipan

Spiced Tea & Chocolate Cake with Chocolate & Cinnamon Ganache Icing

I first came up with the idea of, and impulsively made, this cake for the first time over a year ago when I wanted to combine the winning combination of chocolate and good old-fashioned English tea in sponge form. The addition of cinnamon and mixed spice adds an extra layer of depth to the flavours and I’m really pleased with how the finished product turned out.

The flavours are slightly reminiscent of my Christmas favourite, chocolate gingerbread cake, but the texture is less dense and more akin to a traditional sponge, making it an ideal treat all year round.

I stupidly didn’t take any photos of my first attempt but, when asked to make a birthday cake for a pony-mad colleague, I decided to recreate it in deceptively simple but eye-catching horseshoe form. The equine motif is, of course, optional and the cake tastes just as delicious made in a regular round or square tin. It’s also very tasty in its naked form, minus the icing, but the cinnamon ganache adds an extra touch of indulgence.

I must give credit to the inspirational domestic goddess and my all-round food idol, Nigella Lawson, for the aforementioned icing – the original recipe is hers (part of her decadent Devil’s Food cake), and I simply added some cinnamon.

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INGREDIENTS – makes 1 bundt ring cake as in the picture, or 1 deep round 20cm/8in cake

For the cake:

  • 225g/8 oz butter or margarine
  • 115g/4 oz caster or granulated sugar
  • 115g/4 oz brown sugar
  • 225g/8 oz self-raising flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 heaped tbsp cocoa powder
  •  120ml/4 fl oz strong cold tea
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 0.5 tsp baking powder

For the ganache icing/decorations:

  • 125g/4.5 oz dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • 90g/3 oz butter
  • 20g/0.75 oz dark brown sugar
  • 65 ml/2 fl oz water
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 7 Caramac buttons (optional)
  • Silver shimmer spray (optional)
  • Palm-sized piece of marzipan (optional)
    + horse-shaped cookie cutter (optional)

METHOD

For the cake:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C (or 160 fan) and line your cake tin of choice with parchment paper or spritz with cake release spray.
  2. Whisk the butter/margarine and sugars together in a large mixing bowl until pale, then whisk in the eggs.
  3. Fold in the flour, cocoa powder, tea, cinnamon, mixed spice and baking powder until a batter of a soft dropping consistency has formed.
  4. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin, then pop in the oven and bake for around 25-30 minutes until a cocktail stick inserted into the sponge comes out clean (it might need a bit longer if you’re using one round tin instead of a ring-shaped one).
  5. When baked, leave the cake to cool on a wire rack before turning it out of the tin. At this stage it can be frozen for decorating at a later date if you wish.
  6. If you’re making a horseshoe cake, cut out a section of the sponge ring (and eat later!)

For the ganache icing/decorations:

  1. Place the water, butter, brown sugar and cinnamon in a saucepan and melt together on a low heat.
  2. When the mixture begins to bubble, take the pan off the heat and add the finely chopped chocolate. Swirl the liquid over the pieces so that they melt evenly.
  3. When the chocolate has all melted, whisk the mixture until smooth and glossy, then transfer into a cool mixing bowl.
  4. Leave the frosting to set for at least one hour (place it in the fridge to speed up the process a bit) until it’s a spreadable consistency.
  5. When set, spread the frosting onto the cooled cake.
  6. If you’re making a horseshoe cake, arrange the Caramac buttons, evenly spaced, along the middle of the sponge and finish with a spritz of silver shimmer spray for a metallic sheen.
  7. To make the little yellow horse centrepiece as in the photo, roll out the chunk of marzipan until it’s about the thickness of a pound coin, then stamp it out using the horsey cookie cutter and place in the middle on the serving plate/board.

 

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Categories: Chocolate, Icing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Honeycomb & Chocolate Flapjacks with Marzipan Bees

I’m a huge fan of The Great British Bake Off’s 2013 champion, Frances Quinn, who captured my heart with her incredible culinary creativity when she appeared on the show. She is an idol of mine as I love how she always thinks outside the box and is constantly coming up with quirky new twists on recipes.

There are lots of brilliant cooks out there, but I’ve never come across another with Frances’s talent of taking baking to the next level by slathering it with an extra layer of fun and Willy-Wonka-like wonder. A big jam sandwich recreated in Victoria sponge, biscuit matchsticks, squirrel cake and a giant Swiss roll cigarette were among her wonderfully imaginative creations on the show, proving that it is indeed possible to combine both style and substance. I’ve never seen another contestant come close to her in terms of visual presentation before or since, despite the hundreds of showstopping bakes produced over the years.

Needless to say, I was desperate to get my hands on a copy of her book, Quinntessential Baking, when it was released and it has become a firm favourite. Instead of churning out recipes for the same old ‘best ever chocolate cake’, blueberry muffins and yet another pavlova that hardly differ from the offerings of the dozens of other cookbooks that clamour for attention among the saturated culinary market, I adore the way in which she outlines a set of base recipes and then tells you how to transform them into something wonderfully ingenious with a few simple touches. Some delightful examples include a wall of Bourbon ‘brick’ brownies, white chocolate candles, meringue swans and bonfire cupcakes with spun sugar flames. And, as a fellow lexeme lover, her cute puns and wordplay make me feel all warm and fuzzy!

Anyway, despite my rambling ode to Ms Quinn’s fabulousness, this post doesn’t actually include one of her recipes. However, the creations I’m sharing here were very much inspired by her. Some the gorgeous adornments Frances suggests in her book are marzipan bees, which I’ve copied here and which inspired the idea of honeycomb flapjacks. I realise it’s hardly the most original concept in history, but I like to think of them as a little homage to the Queen of Creative Baking. And they taste absolutely bee-rilliant (sorry…)!

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INGREDIENTS – makes 12 large or 18 small flapjacks

For the flapjacks:

  • 130g/4 oz butter or margarine
  • 170g/6 oz brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 255g/9 oz oats
  • 4 x standard Crunchie bars, chopped into small cubes (as in the picture below)Untitled

For the bees:

  • 3 tbsp marzipan (approx.)
  • Chocolate or black writing icing
  • 10 flaked almonds

METHOD

For the flapjacks:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C (or 160 fan) and line a rectangular baking tin with parchment paper.
  2. Melt the butter/margarine, sugar and honey together – either in a saucepan on the hob or in a large mixing bowl in the microwave – until smooth.
  3. Stir in the oats and chopped up Crunchie bars until the oats are all evenly coated.20160409_162606
  4. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and pop in the oven for around 15-20 minutes until the edges are slightly brown (the mixture will will firm up as it cools)
  5. Leave to cool on a wire rack and then cut into bars with a sharp knife. If you’re very patient you could cut them into individual hive-esque hexagon shapes!

For the bees:

  1. Tear off pieces of marzipan around the size of a 50p piece and roll into balls with your palms.
  2. Use the writing icing to pipe three horizontal stripes and two eyes, as in the picture.
  3. Gently push two flaked almonds into each bee so that they resemble wings.
  4. Arrange artistically on top of your flapjacks!
Image of Quinntessential Baking book copyright Amazon.co.uk
Categories: flapjacks, Traybakes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Iris Tart

Our lovely and amazingly hardworking intern at work from the Netherlands, Iris, sadly left us a couple of weeks ago. To mark the occasion, I wanted to make her a genuine Dutch ‘vlaai’, which is a traditional tart made with fruit and a yeasted dough and topped with a distinctive lattice pattern.

Unfortunately, I only had a couple of hours to create one so I cheated and used an American recipe for a (supposedly) Dutch almond lattice tart with apricot jam that I found online and used regular shortcrust pastry instead of a dough that involved proving, kneading etc. The ingredients were pretty much all in tablespoons which was a bit frustrating (ever tried precisely measuring out a tablespoon of solid marzipan?!) and I didn’t have quite a few of the required ingredients so I ended up improvising and making up my own version. It took quite a while to cook in the oven, the top becoming ever browner while the middle remained soggy as I panicked that I’d incinerated it, convinced the finished product was going to end up an outright insult to the good people of the Netherlands.

Anyway, as is so often the case with cooking, it turned out fabulously and received lots of compliments from my colleagues. Despite its success, it’s certainly not authentic Dutch cuisine so I decided to christen it with its own unique name, Iris Tart, in her honour. I’ll certainly be making it again and will think of her when I do!

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INGREDIENTS

For the pastry:

  • 340g/12 oz plain flour
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 170g/6 oz butter
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

For the filling:

  • 115g/4 oz butter
  • 130g/4.5 oz marzipan (+ extra if you wish to use for decorations)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 85g/3 oz caster/granulated sugar
  • 45g/1.5 oz plain flour
  • 150g/5 oz dried apricots, snipped into small pieces
  • Sprinkling of demerara sugar

METHOD

For the pastry:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C (or 160 fan), grease a large heatproof flan dish with butter/margarine and place the apricots in a jug of boiling water to soak.
  2. Place the flour, sugar and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl and then rub the butter into the mixture with your fingertips until breadcrumb-type bits form. Add the milk and form into a ball of dough. If it’s too sticky add some more flour and if it’s too dry and crumbly add a splash more milk.
  3. Wrap the pastry in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for at least 25 minutes.

For the filling:

  1. About 5-10 minutes before the pastry’s chilling time is up, beat the butter, eggs and sugar together in a bowl.
  2. Grate the marzipan block into the mixture (you may want to chill it for a bit if it’s too squishy to grate) and then fold in the flour and soaked apricot pieces.
  3. Remove the pastry from the fridge and roll out on a floured surface with a rolling pin until it’s about 0.5cm thick. Carefully transfer onto the prepared flan dish and gently press down into the fluted bits. Trim off the excess pastry with a knife.
  4. Squish the offcuts back together and roll out again. Cut into 9 strips, each around 1 inch wide and long enough to lie across the tart.
  5. Pour the filling into the flan dish and then carefully arrange the pastry strips in a lattice pattern on the top – ‘glue’ them together with a bit of water on your fingertip if needs be.
  6. Sprinkle the tart with some demerara sugar and then place in the oven for around 35-40 minutes until the top is golden brown and the filling is cooked through.
  7. Transfer onto a wire rack to cool and decorate with extra marzipan adornments if you fancy. Enjoy the tart cold as it is or serve warm with a bit of cream or ice cream.

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Categories: Other Treats, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Stollen Biscotti

I know I’m cutting it a bit fine posting my one brand new edible festive creation late on Christmas Eve Eve but these biscotti are so fabulous that I think they warrant a fashionably late arrival. I have been doing a fair amount of yuletide baking recently but everything bar these have used recipes from books/magazines (which is unusual for me), hence why I haven’t posted them on here.

I was originally going to make the divine-sounding stollen muffins from the November issue of Good Food, but the only problem with muffins is that they’re quite heavy and I wanted to bake something lighter to enjoy with a cuppa after the hefty indulgence that is Christmas lunch, hence the idea for a biscotti version came to me. I used to hate marzipan as a child and have distinct memories of painstakingly picking it off every slice of wedding or Christmas cake while carefully salvaging the sweet, sticky white icing. However, I’ve started to love it in my old age, and I now can’t imagine a December without stollen.

This biscotti recipe and technique are very similar to the wonderfully versatile ones I blogged about here: https://cloud9point1.wordpress.com/2015/06/08/fabulous-biscotti/. Despite this, I feel that their rich, festive flavour and all-round fruity, almondy deliciousness means they deserve a separate post. Again, feel free to experiment with ingredients and flavours – you could try adding pistachios, candied peel and/or chopped dates, among other things, to create a similarly Christmassy taste if you’re not a fan of marzipan.

I’ll sign off now by wishing a very MERRY CHRISTMAS to everyone reading this, and a huge thank you for supporting my little blog 🙂 Here’s to more culinary fun in 2016!

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INGREDIENTS – makes approx. 15 pieces

  • 180g/6 oz self-raising flour
  • 80g/3 oz caster or granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp ground almonds
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 40g/1.5 oz dried cranberries
  • 40g/1.5 oz sultanas
  • 40g/1.5 oz marzipan, chopped into small cubes
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 0.5 tsp baking powder

METHOD

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C (or 160 fan) and line a large flat baking tray with parchment paper.
  2. Mix the flour, sugar, ground almonds and baking powder together in a large bowl then add the cranberries, sultanas, marzipan cubes and almond extract.
  3. Beat the egg and milk together for around 1 minute and pour into the mixture.
  4. Mix with a wooden spoon and then your hands until the ingredients come together to form a stiff dough. If it’s too sticky add a little more flour and if it’s too dry and crumbly add a splash more milk.
  5. Roll the dough into a sausage shape about 25-30cm long and place on the baking tray then gently flatten it until it’s about 2cm tall.

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  6. Place in the oven for around 25-30 minutes until the dough is firm with a crust but still fairly pale.
  7. Remove from the oven and reduce the heat to 140 degrees C then allow the dough to cool for around 10 minutes before sawing into pieces about 2cm thick using a serrated knife.
  8. Place the biscuits back on the baking tray and cook for a further 25 minutes or until lightly browned then leave to cool before enjoying with tea, coffee or a festive tipple!
Categories: Biscuits/Cookies, Festive, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Cookbook Challenge 3 – Trine Hahnemann’s Scandinavian Marzipan Tarts

I was given Trine Hahnemann’s beautiful book, Scandinavian Baking, for Christmas last year and have been meaning to have a go at some of the recipes from it for a while. I have a soft spot for all things Scandi (Norway and Iceland are top of my bucket list of places to visit!) and love the sound of a lot of their traditional bakes, both sweet and savoury. I have to admit that I have made an alteration to this recipe and substituted the original lingonberries after ending up with a fabulous haul of blackberries following a productive foraging session in the fields near my house. Scrumping is one of my favourite things to do when autumn arrives so I thought it fitting to use the fruits of my labour and add a British twist 🙂 The berries’ tartness and the sweet, nutty marzipan are a match made in heaven.

I tend to stick with cakes or biscuits when baking so these lovely simple tarts were a perfect way to try something a bit different. I’d never made my own pastry before but it was so easy I’ll definitely be doing it again! This bake would also work wonderfully as one large tart for sharing, or with other kinds of sharp fruit. Trine’s recipe said to use individual fluted tins but a standard muffin tray works fine.

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I topped my tarts with a few flaked almonds as a final flourish.

INGREDIENTS – makes 16 tarts

For the pastry:

  • 170g plain flour
  • 60g icing sugar
  • 115g butter, chilled
  • Half an egg, lightly beaten
  • Pinch of salt

For the filling:

  • 300g marzipan
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 100g butter, softened
  • 150g lingonberries (or blackberries)

METHOD

  1. Sift the flour, icing sugar and salt into a bowl and rub in the butter with your fingers until the mixture resembles crumbs.
  2. Add the egg and stir until the pastry comes together in a ball.
  3. Wrap in clingfilm and leave in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  4. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees C and grease 16 mini fluted cake tins or 2 muffin trays with butter.
  5. Roll the chilled dough out on a floured surface until 5-8mm thick then cut out rounds with a 9cm cookie cutter.
  6. Place the rounds in the prepared tins or muffin tray and grate the marzipan.
  7. Mix the grated marzipan, eggs and butter into a smooth paste and use to fill the pastry cases, then add the berries (about 3-4 per tart if you’re using blackberries).
  8. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the bottoms of the pastry cases are slightly brown then remove from the tins and leave to cool on a wire rack.
Categories: Other Treats | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Cherry Bakewell & Cherry Chocolate Scones

Apologies for the lack of action on my blog recently – I’ve been back in my hometown doing some office temping at my old workplace for the last three weeks and left all my recipes back in my flat in London! I’ve also not been doing so much baking recently due to the sweltering weather (I’m not good with heat; I’m a bit of a summer grinch!), although I’m looking forward to making cakes for both my best friend and my boyfriend who have birthdays in the next couple of weeks.

Anyway, here’s a recipe I’ve been meaning to post for a while. I love scones as they’re so darn simple to make – nothing but flour, butter and milk in their most basic form – and they’re so versatile, so I decided to do decadent a twist on the traditional plain kind for Sunday Baking Club’s (@SundayBakeClub on Twitter) charity cherry theme a while back. Both types came out really well and tasted delicious with a bit of butter or just on their own (mountains of jam and clotted cream not required here unless you have an incredibly sweet tooth!) The chocolate ones had a sweet, sticky texture and the bakewell ones had a lovely marzipan-like flavour. Perfect to enjoy as part of an alfresco afternoon tea!
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INGREDIENTS – makes approx. 8-10

For the cherry bakewell scones:

  • 250g/9 oz self-raising flour
  • 55g/2 oz butter
  • 25g/1 oz caster/granulated sugar
  • 150ml/5 fl oz milk
  • 40g/1.5 oz glace cherries, chopped
  • 2 tsp almond essence
    To decorate:
  • 2 tsp almond essence
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar
  • 4-5 glace cherries, halved

For the cherry chocolate scones:

  • 250g/9 oz self-raising flour
  • 55g/2 oz butter
  • 25g/1 oz caster/granulated sugar
  • 150ml/5 fl oz milk
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 40g/1.5 oz glace cherries, chopped
  • 40g/1.5 oz dark or milk chocolate, chopped
  • 0.5 tsp vanilla extract
    To decorate:
  • Handful of flaked almonds
  • 2 tsp icing sugar
  • Few drops of milk or water

METHOD

For the scones:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C (or 160 fan) and line a large rectangular baking tray with parchment paper.
  2. Place the flour, sugar and chopped cherries (plus the cocoa powder and chopped chocolate if making the chocolate scones) in a large mixing bowl and make a well in the middle.
  3. Place the butter, milk and almond essence (if making the bakewell scones) or vanilla extract (if making the chocolate scones) in the well and roughly mix with a knife.
  4. Rub the liquid into the dry ingredients with your hands until a pliable dough forms. If the mixture is too sticky, add a little more flour and if it’s too crumbly, add a little more milk.
  5. Place the dough on a floured surface and roughly pat until it’s around 3cm/1in in thickness, then cut out scones with a large round or fluted cookie cutter. Squish the offcuts together and repeat until all the dough is used.
  6. Place the scones on the prepared baking tray and bake in the oven for around 15 minutes until they’re slightly brown on the bottom.
  7. Leave the scones to cool on a wire rack. They can be frozen at this stage if you wish.

For the cherry bakewell decorations:

  1. Mix the icing sugar and almond essence together thoroughly until a runny mixture forms.
  2. Drizzle in a criss-cross lattice pattern over the cooled scones then top each one with half a glace cherry.

For the cherry chocolate decorations:

  1. Mix the icing sugar and milk/water together thoroughly until a runny mixture forms.
  2. Place a small blob in the centre of the top of each scone using a teaspoon, then arrange 5 flaked almonds in the shape of flower petals using the icing as ‘glue’. Finish each flower with a tiny blob of icing in the centre.
Categories: Chocolate, Other Treats | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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