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    Monday
    Oct202014

    Heston's Triple Cooked Chips

                                     heston's triple cooked chips with their crisp glass like finish

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    Heston Blumenthal is popping up in my home state of Melbourne, well at least his world renowned UK restaurant 'The Fat Duck' is. For sixth months from February 15th 2015 the 'The Fat Duck' will be at Crown Casino. With only 16,000 seats available those hoping get a table must enter an online ballot. The ballot is open until midnight October 26th, if your successful break open your piggy bank to pay $525.00 per person without drinks. 

    Dang, I want to experience four plus hours and 12 - 15 magical courses but I might have to settle for Heston's triple cooked chips.

    Watch Heston himself make his chips, this video stops at final fry.

    Heston's Triple Cooked Chips

    Ingredients

    1 kg (2.2lb) of potatoes ...  (use the best frying potato in your area)

    Grapeseed oil for deep frying 

    salt

    chips cut not too big or too small ... shhh, I had a ruler out the first time I made them. 

    Method

    Put the cut chips into a bowl under running water for 5 minutes to wash the starch off. Ok, being on water restrictions a lot here, I caught as much water as I could and transferred it to the garden. 

    The weird step; Place 2 litres (8 cups) of cold tap water in a large saucepan and add the potatoes. Place the pan over a medium heat and simmer until the chips are almost falling apart (approximately 20–30 minutes, depending on the potato).

    Carefully, no really "carefully", remove the cooked chips with a slotted spoon and place them on a cooling rack to dry out. Then place the rack in the freezer for at least 1 hour to remove more moisture.

    Heat a deep-fat fryer or a deep pan no more than half filled with oil (to a depth of around 10 cm - 4 inches) to 130ºC (266F). Fry the chips in small batches until a light crust forms (approximately 5 minutes), remove from the oil and drain on paper towel.

    Put the potatoes on a cooling rack and place in the freezer for at least 1 hour. You can do this ahead and store the chips in fridge for up to three days. 

    Heat the oil in the deep-fat fryer or deep pan to 180ºC (356F) and fry the chips until golden (approximately 7 minutes). Drain and sprinkle with salt.

    I served the chips wrapped in food colouring printed newspaper, for a fun nostalgic presentation. 

    The best chips we have ever had... the most work for a chip... longest time investment for a chip... but oh baby it's a great chip! 

    Haven't entered the ballot yet and want to try for a booking ... head on over to The Fat Duck/Crown Melbourne.

    Happy Baking :) 

    You might also be interested in Nutella Dust

    Thursday
    Oct162014

    Half a Grasshopper Pie

                                                   Half a Grasshopper Pie

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    Grasshopper Cocktail: The drink reputedly originated at Tujague's in the French Quarter New Orleans. The cocktail contains equal amounts of creme de menthe and white creme de cacao with added cream and shaken with ice.

    You start with the thought "I'm going to make Nigella Lawson's Grasshopper pie", that was until you realise you don't have and can't get some of the ingredients.... which brings us to today's recipe a "half a grasshopper pie".

    I thought I did, I thought I did... have whie creme de cacao. I didn't. We don't have Bourbon biscuits here but I'm Australian so dark chocolate Tims Tams it was. 

    Tim Tams: chocolate coated and chocolate cream filled biscuits (cookies) popular in Australia, use the equivalent in you country i.e. chocolate coated oreos. 

    We also don't have the mini white marshmallows Nigella uses here so I thought white soft eating marshmallows will do. Three supermarkets later I cannot buy white marshmallows, I can buy fruit swirled, chocolate dipped, pink and white mixed but no "white". 

    Yep, this is why I found myself separating pink from white marshmallows. I've since found out Aldi in Australia has white eating marshmallows... dang I should have asked my all knowing friend Jacinta first! 

    Half a Grasshopper Pie recipe

    1 loose bottomed 25x5 cm (10x2 inch) fluted tart tin

    300g grams (10.5oz) of chocolate coated cream biscuits (approx one and half packs of dark chocolate Tim Tams) 

    50g (1.75oz) of dark chocolate (I used Lindt 70%)

    50g (1.75oz) softened butter

    200g (7oz) grams soft white eating marshmallows (cut in half or quarters depending on size)

    2tsp of pure vanilla extract/essence

    80ml (2.7 fluid ozs) green creme de methe 

    125ml (4.22 fluid ozs) milk

    375ml (12.7 fluid ozs) thickened cream

    few drops of green food colouring

    *optional vanilla whipped cream, fresh mint and chocolate curls to serve

     

    oiled scissor blades make short work of cutting marshmallows 

    Process the chocolate biscuits (cookies) with the chocolate in a food processor until it's a rough crumb, add the butter and pulse until it just comes together. 

    Base processing finished and ready to press into shell. 

    Using the back of a spoon or your hands press the crumbs evenly around the base and sides of fluted tart tin. Make sure you press firmly, particularly around the edges coming up the sides. Refrigerate the base. 

    Put the cut marshmallows with the milk in a small saucepan, *over low heat. Once the milk starts to foam around the edges, remove from heat and stir marshmallows to completely melt in. Pour into a heat proof bowl, stir in the creme de menthe, vanilla and green food colouring if using. Set aside to cool. 

    Whisk the cream until soft peak stage (it will hold it's shape but drop gently off a spoon), add cooled marshmallow mixture. Whisk until combined but not over beaten. 

    Pour mixture into chilled crust. Spread lightly to fill shell evenly, create a few swirls or smoother finish... whatever you prefer.

    Refrigerate pie a minimum of four hours, use a plastic dome lid or aluminium foil to create a dome over the pie. You don't want the surface to be touched.

    When ready to serve either top with crushed chocolate biscuits (cookies) or as I did with a dollop of vanilla white cream, chocolate curls and a fresh mint leaf. 

    * Trouble shooting: gentle, gentle heat melting marshmallows if the mixture boils the marshmallows don't reset. 

    * a delicate texture similar to a Sara Lee Bavarian dessert, this pie needs to be refrigerated... it will collapse if left in a warm place. 

    Was the pie worth it? Absolutely!!  Happy Baking :) 

    You might also be interested in Ode to Bounty Bar cupcakes   

    Tuesday
    Oct142014

    50 Shades of Grey cupcake

    50 Shades of Grey cupcake

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    Another Monday at the nursing home, By the Light of the Silvery Moon tinkles in the main rooms piano sing-a-long session, yet a short distance away rap in the way of Kanye West Bound 2 is blaring from one of the residents rooms. It's a 50 shades of Grey cupcake idea in the making! 

    I've been gone for almost a year, during that time my Dad has gone into a nursing home with dementia and my health has deteriorated, leading to time split between doctors, hospitals and the nursing home. It's baking and cooking that have kept me going throughout and I'm so excited to be back!! I've learnt lots of new techniques to share with you, and of course I'll have to do a Halloween cupcake or two in the next week.

     

    Definitely aiming for ummm "slightly" more detailed tutorials than this... but it's first day back and I'm out the swing, or is that the loop? Oh you know what I mean. The elderly lady is a "marked head" figure, roll a ball of fondant and mark out eyes, nose, mouth with a toothpick, piping tip or cake tool. This type of head is quick and useful, it can be a man, woman, baby even a dog.  

    I'm so looking forward to getting back into all things bakerrrrrryish.  

    Happy Baking :) 

    You might also be interested in Hippy Dippy using a clay gun to make hair, wool, grass etc. 

    Tuesday
    Nov052013

    Chocolate Soil 


    crystallised chocolate soil 

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    A two ingredient chocolate soil, I'll give you all the dirt today (ok couldn't resist) on how make it with the least amount of cleaning up.  

    With chocolate soil you can add crunch and texture to a plated dessert, make pot plant cupcakes, set up a garden scene for your cake or perhaps just sprinkle on your favourite ice-cream. 

    Flavour it up; you can use a flavoured dark chocolate i.e. blueberry, orange, mint etc for flavoured soil or add your own flavour by stirring in cinnamon, ginger, chilli flakes, a drop or two of peppermint oil or whatever takes your fancy. 

    We are aren't going to use a *candy thermometer, we are going to do this by eye... a photo will act as your guide. 

    Here we go...

    Chocolate Soil 

    Ingredients

    100g (3.5OZ) Caster Sugar

    75g (2.6OZ) Dark Chocolate roughly chopped (even if you don't usually like 70% dark chocolate, I would recommend using it here because your are adding sugar to counteract the bitterness)

    Tools.... a wire whisk and a baking tray lined with non stick paper ready for you to tip your completed soil on. 

    Method

    On you stove top in a small to medium saucepan add the caster sugar, gently pour in 2 tablespoons of cold water. We are being gentle so we don't splash sugar crystals on the side of the pan.

    Turn on your heat to high and you are going to just let it do it's thing without stirring, the sugar will dissolve and bubble and boil until you see "golden brown edges". 

    the center of the boiling sugar is still clear, the edges have changed to golden brown. 

    have your roughly chopped chocolate ready to go

    Immediately remove saucepan from the heat and all at once whisk in the chocolate, along with any flavouring if using. Don't forget to whisk around the edges. Whisk until all the chocolate is coated, this doesn't take long ... a couple of minutes.

    it starts to look like "soil" almost instantly 

    Yep, you're done, it's finished and ready to poured onto your non stick paper prepared baking tray to cool.

    finished chocolate soil

    Once cool, store in an airtight container for up to a week, or freeze up to a month.

    *I've adapted this recipe from Heston Blumenthal's chocolate soil... halved the sugar and made it a simpler soil. His recipe has many more elements and is part of his wickedly delicious tiramisu recipe. Check out Hestons tiramisu on SBS food

    Clean up tips: Remember how we cleaned up our sugar work saucepans? It's the same today, fill your saucepan with water, bring to the boil, empty the water out and wash as per usual. Clean your whisk the same way, boiling water will remove any stuck on crystallised chocolate.

    *really want to, need to, use a candy thermometer... 135 cel or 275 F. 

    Happy Baking :) 

    You might be interested in Christmas Pie Pops with recipe for Grand Marnier fruit mince

    Friday
    Nov012013

    Heston Mince Pies with Pine Sugar review

                   pack of six Heston mince pies with pine sugar

    Heston Blumenthal, is an English celebrity chef and owner of The Fat Duck, a three-Michelin-starred restaurant in the UK. Heston has written many cookery books, appeared in many TV cookery shows including regular appearances on MasterChef Australia. 'Heston' is a ready made range of food produced for Waitrose an upmarket range of British supermarkets .

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    Oh, I missed out on these pies last Christmas so I was excited to see them in the local supermarket today. Straight home to open the pack and popped them into the oven to warm. Ahhh, tragic I know that I'm excited about fruit mince pies but I do love Heston Blumenthal, the theatre, the magic, the great food. 

    Lets start with the pastry on these little fruit mince pies, puff pastry replaces the regular short crust. Now being a lady (I am so!!), my first bite contained pastry, just pastry. It's not particularly buttery, it is umm, nice and "puffy" ;) Back to the "being a lady" your last bite is all pastry too. The kind of pie you need to have a drink with or provide cream/ice-cream to get it down.

    Hmmm, the side of the box promises fruit mince filling with 'the added ingredients of lemon curd, rose water and apple purée'.... the ingredient list includes citrus oils, juices and zest. This is sounds lovely and I want that fruit mince pie, what you actually get tastes pretty much like the filling of any good commercial fruit mince pies... I missed the citrus and the promised rose water.

    The pine sugar for sprinkling does deliver a "fun factor", when sprinkled on the oven warmed pies the aroma is "Christmas" and it provides a much needed flavour boost.  The sugar alone (ok I put it on a spoon and ate it which you aren't going to do) is heading towards loo cleaner... not that I have eaten loo cleaner but you know what I mean. 

    All in all, the pies are just ok, they look pretty and the sugar element is fun. 

    In Australia from Coles Supermarkets

    You might also be interested in fruit caviar 

    Or make some Nutella dust 

    Thursday
    Oct312013

    Happy Halloween 

                   the continuing adventure of the Gingerbread man

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    The Gingerbread man is still on the run from his first blog appearance Christmas 2009.
    Caught up with him in Egypt in 2010.

    Lost him in 2011 but found him under attack by Zombies in 2012.

    This year I thought I'd cut him a break and let him cut himself a costume to do some Trick and Treating. 

    Happy Halloween :) 

    You might like to do some "gingerboy eating" with this chocolate truffle ginger cupcake recipe

    Tuesday
    Oct222013

    Catrin Day of the Dead Cupcake

    catrin day of the dead cupcake

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    Day of the Dead (Spanish: Día de los Muertos) is a Mexican holiday celebrated throughout Mexico and around the world in other cultures. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. November 2nd is the official date for Day of the Dead, it is celebrated between October 31st and November 2nd.

    In 2013 Day of the Dead celebrations begin November 1st and finish November 2nd. 

    I've made a Cartrin this year, because a lady needs a dance partner. 

    Made in the same way as the Catrina skull last year, you start with a white egg shaped piece of fondant or modelling paste.

    Roll small sausage shapes and add to the skull to build up features. Use your finger tips and modelling tools to blend and shape the skull. Use a toothpick to mark out cracks and scratches on the skull.

    Start the body with a torso shaped piece of fondant or puffed rice treat. If using puffed rice treat, cover with a base layer of fondant first. Cut a vest and apply with damp brush, I had imprinted the rolled fondant so I dusted with green lustre dust at this stage to bring out the pattern and add depth of colour. Small balls of fondant were marked with a toothpick and attached as the buttons.

    Make white collar for the shirt, attach. Proceed to make the jacket, again attaching with a brush barely dampened with water.

    Bow tie is made with two rectangles, the larger one is pinched in the middle and shaped. The smaller one is wrapped around the center of the large one.

    Make pocket handkerchiefs with small triangles, attach to jacket and then attach false pocket flap to the top.

    For the hat I used puffed rice treat to reduce the weight, I know he is a skeleton and all but I didn't want to squoosh his head. Squeeze and shape the puffed rice treat into a top hat, cover with fondant. Make a band and brim with fondant.

    For the buttonaire see Catrina Cupcake  

    Leave the pieces to dry, supported where necessary to keep the shapes. Once dry use dusts to shade the piece and insert either a strand of dry spaghetti or a small wooden through the whole piece and attach to your cupcake.

    Happy Baking :)  

    Amazon has a range of day of the dead figures... click on the Senorita to visit Amazon :) 

    You might also be interested in a recipe for quick and easy Chocolate Peanut Spiders for the kids and young at heart.

    Saturday
    Oct192013

    Chocolate Tia Maria Fridge Cake 

    last of the chocolate coffee liqueur fridge (ice box) cake

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    Oh, have you tried replacing some of the cream in your ganache for plain Greek yoghurt?

    Even if yoghurt isn't in your top 500 foods, once added to ganache a little bit of magic occurs. Well, ok not "magic" (I'm trying to sell you on the idea because I like it so much), but rather the yoghurt has a two fold effect of lightening the texture of the ganache and adding an acid component that cleans the palate. 

    I like a ratio of 50% cream to 50% Greek yoghurt. The yoghurt ganache can be made with white, milk and dark chocolate. Think white chocolate yoghurt ganache with strained passion fruit puree for truffles or dark chocolate yoghurt ganache sauce with profiteroles or for your berries and waffles. What follows is the basic ratio/method that you can use in your existing recipes, plus a retro fridge cake laced with Tia Maria that the "Lovely Lauren" my step son Daniels girlfriend declared was so nice "I could eat this everyday". 

    Chocolate Tia Maria Refrigerator Cake

    Ingredients

    Sponge fingers come with different amounts of biscuits depending on the brand... from 250g to 400g but the following recipe makes plenty of ganache, in fact you might have some over to top a cupcake or two. 


    I x packet of savoiardi/sponge finger biscuits

    125 ml (quarter of a cup) of very strong brewed black coffee  (you can make up instant if you don't have shots of expresso handy) 

    1/4 cup caster sugar (superfine) 

    3 tablespoons of coffee liqueur (add more coffee if you want to avoid the alcohol) 

    1 tsp of pure vanilla extract/essence

    150g  (5oz)  milk chocolate, roughly chopped

    150g  (5oz) dark chocolate, roughly chopped

    250 ml (one cup) thickened cream (whipping cream)

    250 ml (one cup) plain thick Greek yoghurt

    Place the sugar and coffee in a saucepan, bring to a rapid boil and boil one minute or until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat. Stir in Tia Maria and vanilla extract. Set aside. 

    Melt the chocolate with half the cream in a heat proof bowl over pan a simmering water. Remove from heat and stir through the remaining cream and yoghurt. Refrigerate until the ganache is thick enough to spread. 

    Divide up your sponge fingers, I made my cake by laying six sponge fingers side by side and allowed another 12 sponge fingers to create two layers on top. *This size will give you leftover ganache, if you are using a larger packet of biscuits you will use all the ganache. 

    Spread some of the chocolate ganache onto your cake platter to secure the first row of sponge fingers. 

    Start to build the cake by dipping biscuits in the coffee/tia maria solution, lay six across the bottom, top with ganache, dip another six biscuits lay those on top of the base layer, top with ganache and lay final layer of dipped biscuits on top. Use remaining ganache to cover the sides and top of cake. 

    Chill for 4-6 hours. 

    Optional: decorate with your choice of chocolate curls, grated chocolate, chocolate coated coffee beans or crushed choc/coffee candy bars. 

    adapted from no bake Irish gateau Hamyln all colour cookbook: 200 chocolate recipes 

     Happy Baking :)

    You might also interested in no bake Tia Maria Treats

    Or perhaps you have been hankering to make a Chinese dragon  

    Wednesday
    Sep252013

    A Trip to the Moon Halloween Cupcake

    A Trip to the Moon (French: Voyage dans la Lune)

    A Trip to the Moon (French: Voyage dans la Lune), is a 1902 French silent film directed by Georges Méliès. It was named one of the 100 greatest films of the 20th century by The Village Voice, ranking at #84, and in 2002 it became the first work designated as a UNESCO World Heritage film.  Wikipedia

    Sweating modelling chocolate today, but first a bit on 'A Trip to the Moon'. It was fantastic a hand coloured print of the short silent film was found in the 1990's and fully restored in the 2000's, however for me it did lose a little of it's "innocence" once I saw the blood coming from the moons eye. My parents are to blame of course. Mum told me it was "dripping cheese" coming from the moon... and I believed it ;) 

    black and white still of the iconic moon

    colour still of the moon 

    And you can watch it now on You Tube (it's black and white... think of cheese).

    Ok on to "sweating modelling chocolate". Modelling chocolate is brilliant when you are making figures or highly detailed pieces that you need to spend more time on than fondant alone would allow. The problem is "temperature", it's fairly cool in Melbourne at the moment but already my modelling chocolate is starting to sweat/fat seperating. 

    Now you can put your modelling chocolate in the fridge to firm up again, but as the temperature rises, and rises, over summer it's a losing battle. But you can still have the benefit of a bit of extra time to sculpt by mixing it with your fondant or modelling paste. 

    sweating modelling chocolate (sorry for the phone photos... bit of colour glitch)

    I thought "hmmm, might be ok?"

    But no, scrapped that and mixed fondant, a little CMC powder, modelling chocolate just till the sweating disappeared. 

    In the height of summer I use 50/50 fondant and white modelling chocolate... you can adjust the amounts to the weather conditions where you are. 

    Here you can see I still made a lot changes to moon after this point, the modelling chocolate content allowed me to work longer without the surface crusting. The mixture is soft and malleable. 

    I use this recipe, though any modelling chocolate recipe would suffice. 

    Have fun sculpting and happy baking :) 

    You might also like Swamp Zombie!!

    Saturday
    Sep142013

    Frankenstein's Monsters Cupcake

                                 Frankenstein's Monsters Cupcake; topper made from modelling chocolate and fondant

    “I ought to be thy Adam, but I am rather the fallen angel...” Mary Shelley

    Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus is a novel written by Mary Shelley about eccentric scientist Victor Frankenstein, who creates a grotesque creature in an unorthodox scientific experiment. Wikipedia

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    Goodness, I'm late, I'm late, I'm always running late but instead of making a white rabbit/Alice in Wonderland cupcake I had a slight panic moment when I saw Martha Stewart's Halloween issue is out already... it must be time to work out this years Halloween baking theme. Shall it be classic monsters? Yet, I've never done Hitchcock before.

    Mad scientists appeal to me. I think I can make something with a bowl of green goo (green coloured peanut butter turned into powder perhaps?) or pop rocks/space candy, I love pop rocks, I could fill test-tubes with those and give them out to sprinkle of top of frosted cupcakes or bake them into the cases of chocolate chilli tarts.

    Hmmm, what to do? What will you do? 

     

    Also out now the first edition of Taste.com.au magazine. Definitely worth a look, with  Zumbo, Manu and Matt Preston writing stories/recipes plus a plethora of other aussie food journalists. Paper copy from Woolies, digital copy from itunes. 

    I'm off now to read Martha Stewarts Halloween :) Happy Baking.