Rose and Violet Chocolate Truffles

IMG_9689-1

Without getting too horticultural on you, 2015 has been a VERY good year for the roses in the UK. Fact. With a mild winter and a gentle spring, rose blooms are everywhere and have inspired me to get experimental in the kitchen. [Read more…]

Marshmallow Lollies

marshlollies-1-3

Phew…I made it to the end of the week!

It is such a hectic time of year (for all of us, I know), my head is spinning. My children finished school today for the Christmas holidays so I can heave a sigh of relief, well, in part anyway. So for a few weeks, we have no rushed early morning starts, homework battles will subside (albeit temporarily) and my school uniform laundering takes a break. Just Christmas to focus on, right?marshlollies-2Oh, if only it were that simple! My passion for baking has totally overthrown any planning and organisation that it required for this time of year. I know from experience that it is always hectic (without the baking) but I can’t help but be in the kitchen at the moment.

Yes – I have Christmas gifts to buy and wrap, cards to write and post, gingerbread to bake, a Birthday Cake to make, preparations for my eldest daughter’s birthday this week, as well as bake, photograph and post bakes that I am desperate to share with you before Christmas. The only way I figure that I can manage it all is to ‘break it down’ into manageable tasks per day. Do you ever do that?

Anyway, I digress from these pretty, marshmallow lollies. I made these a couple of weeks back for the school fayre and I have to say they were a big hit – the kids loved them! I will be making more this weekend as I am going to add them to my daughter’s party bags and I think they will also look gorgeous, tied with ribbon, to any Christmas gift intended for a child. So appealing.

marshlollies-1-2

If you are familiar with making marshmallow, these lollies are very easy to make. If not, please don’t be daunted, they are straightforward. I was a bit apprehensive about piping the marshmallow as it was my first attempt but actually it was not the sticky, messy experience I was anticipating.

This great recipe, adapted in method and quantity (if you are going to the effort of making these, in my mind, you may as well make a few more, 18 being what this recipe makes) is from ‘Sweet Things’ by Annie Briggs. This book is brilliant! And if you are stuck for a little gift idea for a keen home baker, this gem of a book would be greatly received.

I added a little more fresh vanilla than the recipe stated and it works beautifully but there is no reason why you could not use a different flavour marshmallow, or add food colourings for a different effect.

 These can be wrapped in cellophane, or bagged and stored in an airtight container. Such a lovely treat.

marshlollies-1-4

Marshmallow Lollies

Makes 18 Lollies

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp. cornflour
  • 3 tbsp. icing sugar
  • 525g granulated sugar
  • 225ml water
  • 2 tbsp. golden syrup, or liquid glucose
  • 9 leaves of gelatine
  • 3 egg whites
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp. caster sugar
  • 1 pod of vanilla bean seeds, or 1 1/5 teaspoon vanilla paste
  • 60g dark chocolate
  • 60g white chocolate
  • Sprinkles
  • 18 lolly/cake pop sticks

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, mix together the cornflour and icing sugar. Prepare three baking trays by lining with baking parchment and sieve the cornflour and icing sugar mixture quite evenly over the baking parchment. (Ensure you have some left for sprinkling over the lollies). Equally space the lolly sticks on the trays, six per tray.
  2. Place the granulated sugar, water and golden syrup (or liquid glucose) into a saucepan and add the 225ml of water. Over a medium heat dissolve the sugar. Bring the syrup to the boil and add a sugar thermometer to the pan. Allow the syrup to boil until it reaches 120 degrees C - this is actually between 'soft' and 'hard' ball on the sugar thermometer. It will probably take 10-15 minutes to reach this temperature.
  3. Meanwhile, fill a bowl with cold water. Add the gelatine leaves, one at a time, to the bowl and ensure they are all submerged. Set aside.
  4. In the bowl of a freestanding mixer, fitted with a whisk attachment, add the egg whites, salt and 2 tbsp. of caster sugar. As the syrup approaches the correct temperature, start to whisk the egg whites. Once the correct temperature is reached, with the mixer on a slow speed, pour the hot syrup into the whisked egg whites. Take one leaf of gelatine at a time, squeeze out excess water and put into the hot syrup/egg white mixture, all whilst constantly mixing. Repeat with every sheet of gelatine. Continue to whisk, at high speed, until the mallow becomes thick and shiny, about 10 minutes.
  5. Prepare two, large disposable piping bags with nozzles of your choice (I used a star and plain nozzle). Fill both piping bags with the mallow mixture. Pipe spirals over one end of the lolly sticks, so forming the lollies. When you have finished piping, twist the sticks into the marshmallow to ensure that they hold. Sieve some further cornflour/icing sugar mixture over the lollies. Allow the lollies to cool/set completely, approximately 6 hours or overnight.
  6. Place the dark chocolate, broken into chunks into a small sandwich/plastic bag. Do the same with the white chocolate. Place both bags of chocolate into a small bowl of hot water. Allow the chocolate to melt in the bags. Snip a small hole in the bags and drizzle the chocolate over the lollies. Quickly scatter sprinkles over the chocolate before it sets. Allow to set further.
  7. Store in a airtight container.
http://thecontentedbaker.com/marshmallow-lollies/

Source: Method and quantity adapted from Annie Rigg’s ‘Sweet Things’

 

 

Mixed Berry Fruit ‘Roll Ups’

berryrollups-1-2

These fruit ‘roll ups’ are a fun, homemade confection I wanted try for the children as they go back to school tomorrow.

I thought they would be great as a quick, after school pick-me-up snack but having made them, they would also be a hit at children’s parties. ( I am now thinking alternative flavour combinations for Halloween…)

berryrollups-1-5

As fresh berries are still so abundant for us right now, these ‘roll ups’ are a great use of them, and a completely different way of enjoying fresh fruit.

I have used a combination of blackberries, raspberries and strawberries along with Bramley apples which form the basis of this homemade confection.

The taste of these beauties is amazing! They give a sweet, fresh, blast of rich berries so intense that you instantly want to try another. Although I intended the ‘Roll Ups’ for the children, grown ups love these as well.

The method for making these is relatively easy – basically heat the fruit, puree in a blender, sieve and spread on a baking tray. The only drawback being the drying out time. They are not ready in an instant. If you want to give these a go, I would suggest starting them late afternoon/early evening, dry them on a low oven for 4-5 hours, transfer the papered rolls to a cooling rack and return to the oven (now switched off but still warm) and leave there overnight to dry out thoroughly.

berryrollups-1

This gorgeous snack, which I can’t rate highly enough, is also freezeable. The fact of the matter is though, that these will never make it to the freezer.

They taste so good they will be gone before school even starts.

berryrollups-1-6

Mixed Berry Fruit ‘Roll Ups’

Makes approximately 25-30 Roll Ups

Ingredients

  • 400g Bramley apples, peeled, cored and roughly chopped
  • 300g blackberries
  • 150g raspberries
  • 150g strawberries
  • 225g granulated sugar
  • 120ml water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Place all the ingredients into a large saucepan and heat gently. Cover with lid and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove lid, stir and continue to simmer for approximately 10 minutes until the apple becomes soft.
  2. Pour the heated fruits into a food processor and blend to form a puree. Place a sieve over a large bowl and pour the puree through it, so catching some of the fruit seeds.
  3. Prepare two baking trays by lining with baking parchment. Ensure the trays have edges so that the puree will not spill over. Divide the puree equally between the two trays and spread with a palate knife so forming a thin, smooth layer.
  4. Set the oven to 80 degrees C, or Gas Mark 1/4. Place the trays in the warm oven for 4-5 hours. After that time, turn the oven off, swap the baking trays for wire cooling racks and return to the oven (which is now switched off). By transferring to cooling racks, the bottom of the 'roll ups' can dry out sufficient. Leave overnight to dry completely.
  5. Test the 'drying' by peeling the edge of the 'roll up' away from the parchment. If it peels easily it is ready.
  6. When dry, with a sharp knife, cut strips about 2cm wide across the short side of the dried puree. Repeat until all cut. Roll up the strips and serve.
  7. Store in an airtight container. Suitable for home freezing.
http://thecontentedbaker.com/mixed-berry-fruit-roll-ups/

Source: Adapted from ‘Waitrose Food Illustrated’

Homemade Raspberry Marshmallows

marshmallows-1-7

I first tasted a ‘homemade’ marshmallow in 2000.

I remember it vividly. I was living and working in Manhattan at the time. I used to spend my weekends exploring various parts of the city on foot and used to stumble upon great ‘finds’ whether it be quirky stores, cafes, book stores or bakeries. A friend had suggested I visit ‘The City Bakery’, if I was in the Union Square part of town. Sure enough, I paid a visit and it was so worth it. There is a large range of baked goods available, breads, cakes, cookies, warm food, including their infamous macaroni cheese and on a wintry New York day, I opted for their fabulous hot chocolate and their homemade marshmallow.

It is fair to say that the homemade confection bears little resemblance to the shop-bought packet version. It is very light, fluffy and not sickly sweet. I didn’t envisage at that time, that this sweet delight would be something I could re-create at home in my kitchen.

marshmallows-1-8

So fast forward thirteen years, a marriage, three children and international house move and here I am making the ‘homemade’ marshmallow. I have made it a few times and use Genevieve Taylor’s straightforward recipes. The appeal of her recipes are that they do not call for light corn syrup, which is not readily available in the UK (that said, I did see it, this week, in my local superstore in the American foods section.)

marshmallows-1-11

So why am I making these this week? The children have their Summer fete at school and the home produce stall requires ‘homemade’ offerings. These marshmallows are my contribution. Typically you would probably want the marshmallows in the Autumn/Winter time, along with a hot chocolate, but the beauty of this confection recipe is that it can be adapted easily with various flavours. I have made a Fresh Raspberry version, but substitute the fresh raspberries for a teaspoon of vanilla extract, or paste, and you have a Classic Vanilla flavour.

These are very easy to make with ingredients that you will be familiar with. They store well in an airtight container. They also make a lovely homemade gift. Simply wrap in a cellophane bag, jar or tin and finish with a colourful ribbon and you will have one happy recipient!

marshmallows-1-10

These can be enjoyed by young or old and at this time of year, there is no reason why they can’t be toasted on the barbeque or a camp fire. By toasting them slightly (I actual give them a blast with my cook’s blow torch) they have this wonderful crunchy shell with gooey mallow inside. They can be eaten alone, or added to desserts.

marshmallows-1-2

marshmallows-1

Give these flavoursome mallow treats a try. They will certainly make you smile.

marshmallows-1-6

The City Bakery is located at 3 West 18th Street, New York, NY.

Note: Contains pork

Homemade Raspberry Marshmallows

Approximately 40 marshmallows

Ingredients

  • 8 sheets of fine leaf gelatine
  • 2 egg whites
  • 500g granulated sugar
  • 250ml cold water
  • 150g fresh raspberries, washed and drained
  • You will also need,
  • Baking tin, either 23cm x 30cm (Brownie tin) or a square 20cm tin
  • vegetable oil, for greasing the tin
  • 2 tbsp. cornflour mixed with 2 tbsp. of icing sugar

Instructions

  1. Prepare the tin by greasing all over. Add a heaped tablespoon of the cornflour and icing sugar mixture and tap all around tin ensuring that everywhere is sufficiently covered. Discard the excess mixture.
  2. Put the cold water and sugar into a saucepan and over a low heat dissolve the sugar. Stand a sugar thermometer in the pan and increase to a medium heat. Bring to the boil and allow to bubble away. The temperature of the sugar mixture needs to reach 122 degrees C or reach what is known as the 'firm/hard ball' stage. This should take about 15 minutes. If you do not have a sugar thermometer, test the mixture by dropping a little onto a saucer. Its should be firm and hold its shape.
  3. Whilst the sugar is bubbling. Place the gelatine leaves into a bowl of cold water, one at a time to prevent them sticking.
  4. Also, puree the raspberries by placing in a blender. Put the puree through a sieve so removing the pips from the puree. Set aside.
  5. In a free standing mixer, beating the egg whites until stiff.
  6. Once the sugar has reached the correct temperature, with the mixer on a low speed, slowly add the hot mixture to the egg whites, continually beating. Increase the speed of the mixer and add the gelatine leaves, squeezed, one at a time.
  7. Allow the mixer to continue to beat for about 10 minutes until the mixture has cooled. Add the raspberry puree (or vanilla extract if making Classic Vanilla flavour) and mix until incorporated.
  8. Tip the mixture into the prepared tin and carefully spread throughout the tin. Sieve some of the remaining cornflour/icing sugar mix over the marshmallow. Allow to set, in a cool place but not a refrigerator, for approximately 4-6 hours.
  9. Once set, cut the marshmallow to size. Tip; slightly oil a sharp knife and continually wipe with a piece of kitchen towel with some light oil on it.
  10. Dip the sticky edges in the remaining cornflour/icing sugar mix and store in an airtight container.
http://thecontentedbaker.com/homemade-raspberry-marshmallows/

Source: Genevieve Taylor’s ‘Marshmallow Magic’