Follow my blog with Bloglovin Home of the Kimonii: December 2012

Thursday, 20 December 2012


I love making truffles and they are so much better made fresh. Most in shops are covered in a hard chocolate shell, and this is hard to do without a machine to temper the chocolate, so for home made ones stick to rolling them in coco powder, dessicated coconut, chocolate shardes or icing sugar, or pipe into cases as I've done. Un-covered the last for about two weeks, if you can resit them for that long!

You will need : 430 grams dark chocolate (if you want to make milk chocolate truffles use 580 grams of milk chocolate, and for white use 730 grams, as these have less coco solids so need more volume to set properly)

180 grams of double cream - to make coffee truffles dissolve four teaspoons of coffee granules into the cream as you heat it. 

60 grams glucose syrup - you can use golden syrup but this has more (lovely) flavour, I'd add vanilla essence with this to create a lovely caramel flavour.

25 grams unsalted butter, very soft but not melted.

30 ml spirit of your choice - or you can use vanilla as mentioned above.

Equipment - one large bowl, one small pan, a round ended knife or metal spoon, pipping bag fitted with a large nozzle, or you can just use the coupler ring with not nozzle if you don't have a big enough icing tube - I use a 1 cm round tube, smaller ones can get clogged up. Weigh everything carefully and get it ready before you start.

Truffle tips - do not refrigerate your truffles, leave them over night to harden at cool room temperature. Refrigeration is bad news for quality chocolate, it's too damp and it will actually shorten their self life and make them bloom.

This is a coco dusted truffle, which I wrapped in gold foil to keep them fresh.

Flavour ideas:

Infuse the cream with spices such as cinnamon, ginger and mace to create spiced truffles. Use 400 grams of dark chocolate and 100 grams of milk.

Black pepper - sounds odd but spices are great with chocolate, I simply grind a large portion of pepper into the cream, and you add pepper to your dusting coco as well.

Christmas puddings - make a brandy truffle then stir in small dried fruits soaked in brandy. Instead of pipping, use a spoon or melon baller to scoop up portions and roll into truffles. Put into petit-four cases and then melt some white chocolate over a bain-maire or in a microwave ( in this case, use cheap and cheerful budget white chocolate) and then drizzle over the Christmas puddings to look like cream. You can even find little cake sprinkles that look like holly leaves and berries and stick them on the top.

These make such a lovely gift for those awkward people who are hard to shop for, buy pretty gift boxes and fill with a mix of chocolates, or use china boxes and pretty cup and saucers bought from charity shops and wrapped up in cellophane and tie with bows to make unique gifts.

The above recipe makes around 70 truffles and it cost me £7, so it's cheaper than buying luxury chocolates, especially if you are a dab hand at making your own boxes from recycled material. If you buy chocolate whole sale and make four or five flavours, you'd spend around £40 but you could make around ten boxes worth, and they would have the personal touch which makes all the difference.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Floaty light Christmas cake

Much as I love traditional Christmas cake, if you're having a Christmas afternoon tea it might be too heavy coming on top of mince pies, cranberry scones and turkey finger sandwiches, so this is an alternative which is just as seasonal. I do usually make it with whiskey soaked sultanas, but I admit on this occasion I didn't put them in as I knew one of my guests didn't like dried fruit and as the cupcakes I was making were also fruity ones, I left them out this time. However, I love them, so if you want to do the cake justice, then take 100 grams of big sultanas and soak them over night in a good slug of whiskey and then fold them into the mix before you add the egg whites. The rest of the method it all the same.

 You will need:
6 oz/170 grams each of unsalted butter, self raising flour and caster sugar.
6 eggs, separated.
Zest and juice of 1 lemon, 1 orange and 1 lime.
100 grams whiskey soaked sultanas.

Line two 20cm spring form tins.
Heat your oven to 160 degrees
sift your flour and separate your eggs.
 Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until they pale and creamy looking and meanwhile, put the butter into a small pan and heat slowly until melted and take off the heat.
 The yolks are at what is called the ribbon stage - read to add the zest of the fruit, followed by the juice.
 The zest of life.....
 The sift the flour over the yolk mix and fold in, that means moving the spoon ( always use a metal one) as if you were folding the edge of the mix into the center.
 When the flour is folded in, add the melted butter in a steady stream and fold in also - it will look a bit weird and oily until the butter is folded in, but keep going and you'll get there!
 See, nice and smooth again! Now whisk up your egg whites until they are super light and fluffy, you should be able to tip the bowl upside over your head and they won't fall out - so until you're confident you won't get an egg white hair mask, keep whisking! If you've got a good hand mixer like the one Bosch do, that's where the extra motor power will save you from an eggy fate!
If you're adding the fruit, fold that in before you add the whites.
 There - like this! Then you fold one spoon full into your yolk and flour and butter mixture, this is to 'slacken' it off and make it easier to get the rest of the white folded in.

 Now fold in the rest of the egg white, again it will look a bit odd but keep going just until all the egg white lumps have gone, using a metal spoon again and a cutting and folding action, you're trying to mix the egg white in but not squash out too much air.
 It should look like this, very pale and fluffy still. Divide the mix between the two tins and put into your oven to bake - this cake needs to be baked at once to ensure the air stays in the mix so don't hang around.
 The cake takes around 40 mins to bake, but check it at 30 mins and if the top looks too brown, put some foil over the top to save it from over browning. To test insert a clean skewer into the center, if it comes out clean your cake is ready.
Set it to cool and then spoon a generous table spoon of whiskey over the cooling cake, more if you like!
 To frost I made my usual butter cream - 250 grams unsalted butter, 500 grams icing sugar - beat the butter for 5 mins until very fluffy, add half the sugar and 100 ml of double cream, beat again then add the rest of the sugar, beat AGAIN and then flavour with whiskey and lemon to taste.
How you decorate is up to you - I filled the center and then coloured the rest of the icing a whiskey colour with coco powder, and then placed some lace over the surface and sprinkled it with icing sugar; though I did find that the icing sugar melted into the icing, this would have worked better if I'd left the top of the cake unfrosted, or done it just before serving.
 But it looked rather nice, and tasted even better!

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Monday, 10 December 2012

Beer bread

 All though the idea of left over beer may sound strange, I did get left with three quarters of a bottle of London black stout at the weekend, after making Jo's Christmas pudding, so I decided to use it for my bread. As I live in a hard water area, my bread can be slow to rise, but the stout really helped with that!
For this large loaf I used 800g of white flour and 200 g of rye, which gives a wonderful flavour along with the yeasty stout. I then activated 30 grams of yeast in 150 ml of tepid water and while it was frothing up, rubbed 50 grams of butter in the flour and added  tsp of salt.
 I made a well in the center to add the yeast water, well away from the salt, and then gradually mixed it into the flour, adding stout little by little until I had a sticky but not wet dough. I then oiled my work surface and hand and kneaded the dough well - the smell with the added stout at this stage is amazing! Then you knead -  if you're lucky enough to have an electric mixer with a dough hook like the lovely Bosch one I was given, then this makes short work of the job, but even hand kneading isn't difficult, keep going until the dough is no longer sticky but silky, smooth and pliable. Then it's time to put it to rise in a large bowl covered with cling-film.
When it had doubled in size, about an hour and a half, I turned it out on the surface again.
 It was a beautiful caramel colour from the stout, and I shaped it into a long loaf, slashed the top into 1 cm sliced to help with cutting, dusted it with more rye flour and set it to prove covered in a plastic bag, sitting on a baking parchment covered tray.
After 40 mins I turned my oven onto 240 and put an empty baking tray under the oven shelf ready for ice-cubes. 20 mins later we were ready to go, so I tipped a handful of ice cubes onto the hot tray, gave them a moment to explode into steam, and popped in my loaf. If I had a proper NEFF oven, I could use their proving setting and not need all this, one day, one day! Either way, do join their Facebook page for baking tips and more.

 After 25 mins I turned it over for another five to make sure the bottom was cooked through, and it's ready - a huge stout loaf with a wonderful malty flavour which is great with savory or sweet.