Posts Tagged 'england'

Favorite Shots: Civilization

herbs

One of the best parts of living in civilization is the fact that I can get non-civilization items in plastic packages in THA DEAD of winter so I can feel like I’m living in non-civilization.

Love herbage, miss English,

L

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Pipe Dream #163: To Not Squeeze Ya Too Tight – Pumpkin Tiramisu & Pumpkin Spice Fudge

pump tiramisu 1

All right.This is it. This is the new year. We are all supposed to be turning over new leaves. And here I am trying to squeeze in more pumpkin posts. I just apologize. And by way of apology, I present you with two recipes that are probably a bit too holiday to handle. So, a bad apology on all counts. Just don’t call me lazy, ok? Because these are actually pretty swell.

pump tiramisu 2

At least, the fudge is. The tiramisu, meh. It was an experiment on my part, and I would have preferred that the pumpkin-mascarpone be a little smoother. The method wasn’t exactly like traditional tiramisu cream. Plus, instant coffee that I soaked the ladyfingers in was cheap and too strong and awful. At least the cookies were homemade. If anyone can tell me how to remove a tiramisu from the bottom of a springform pan without wrecking it, I would be most grateful.

ladyfingers

pump tiramisu 3

Like a good wine, this dish does get better with age, so try it, and if you don’t like it, stick it in the fridge for a month. Maybe it’ll come out amazing. Oh! And you can tots make this in advance. It’s a great party dessert.

pump fudge 1

My only suggestion on the fudge is to cook it for a little less time than I did. I followed the recipe, but I think my candy thermometer may be off because it took ages for the fudge to reach the correct temp.

pump fudge 2

Still it was a total winner. Nuts or no. I’ve literally had this recipe in my “To Try ” folder for a year. Finally!

Don’t go nuts, now. No more pumpkin. Except if I decide to post a pumpkin pull apart bread that I made. It’s in the works. If you have strong objections, you can let me know.

Recovering still,

L

Pumpkin Tiramisu

Adapted from Italian Food Forever

1 1/2 cups cold heavy cream
3/4 cup powdered sugar
8 ounces mascarpone cheese
15 ounces pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
a bunch of ladyfinger cookies, maybe 30
1/3 cup light rum + a shot of strong espresso, cooled + 1/3 cup maple syrup
Mix together the espresso, rum and maple syrup in a shallow bowl.
Beat the whipping cream until soft peaks form, then add in the powdered sugar gradually near-stiff peaks form. Remove to a bowl. Beat the mascarpone on medium-low speed until creamy, then stir in the pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice. Take one quarter of the whipped cream and fold it into the mascarpone-pumpkin mixture, then fold in the mascarpone mix to the whipped cream.
Dip each ladyfinger in the rum-espresso mixture, coating both sides, then lining the bottom of a 9 inch or 10 inch springform pan, cutting to fit as needed. Top the first layer of cookies with 1/3 of the pumpkin mixture. Repeat twice more, ending with a final layer of the pumpkin mixture. Smooth the top, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate the tiramisu at least 8 hours or overnight.
To unmold, first run a knife around the inside of the pan and remove the side. If you want, you can sift some dark cocoa powder over the top for effect. I did.

Pumpkin Spice Fudge

You can find the recipe here. Thanks, C.

Cookie Exchange: Dark Chocolate Sugar Cookies

choc sugar cookie 1

Why do I decorate sugar cookies?

I almost loathe it because it requires perfection, a trait of which I am in short supply. It also requires back-bending concentration for hours on end. And it requires whipping eggs whites.

dark choc sugar cookie 7

I think I do it because I feel like it is the “thing” at Christmas-time. Like, everyone’s family decorates those thin sugar cookies together. It’s weird that I think this because my family never did it. We do our Christmas cookies more like this.

dark choc sugar cookie 5

Perhaps I do it because they end up usually pretty much as cuteness.

There are several different ways you can frost these. I tried out a bunch of ways this year based on my mood/event:

dark choc sugar cookies a

dark choc sugar cookie 3

Way #1: Straight Up Royal Icing

No flooding on these babies, just classy piped royal icing and dragees.

dark choc sugar cookie 4

Way #2: Royal Icing + Flood Icing

This is probably the most finnicky way. Plan out a whole day, so that you don’t stress out about being at fun things on time and then get impatient about your piping.

dark choc sugar cookie 8

Way #3: Milk & Powdered Sugar

This is the quick ‘n dirty way of frosting cookies. For this batch, I made the glaze thick enough that I could spread it with the back of a spoon, which was the perfect method for the cookie-decorating party I was going to. However, if you are doing a seriously large batch, like the 500 cookies I made at school in England last year, you can go so far as to dunk the entire cookie in a thinned out glaze. Beware, your counters might look a bit like this when you’re through.

You could also try just dusting them with a sprinkle of powdered sugar. I love the contrast of the dark cookie with white frosting.

dark choc sugar cookie 2

dark choc sugar cookies b

The cookie recipe made over 100 cookies for me, providing ample supply for approximately 1 church event, 1 work event, 1 card club hosting and our family’s various cookie exchanges. They freeze well, so I just made a big batch of cookies one night, and then took them out in small batches to decorate and serve.

Go crazy, friends! You know, if you want to literally go crazy trying to decorate that many cookies. Might wanna halve this one, as it is only, oh, 5 days before Christmas.

L

Dark Chocolate Sugar Cookies

You can find Sweetapolita’s recipe here.

You can find a royal icing recipe on my blog here.

If you want to go the milk/p sugar route, just mix 1/4 cup powdered sugar with milk or water, 1/2 teaspoon at a time, until you reach desired consistency.

Pipe Dream #159: To Plan Extravagance – Tangerine, Fresh Cranberry & Dark Chocolate Scones

 

 

cran scones 2

Having “company” really brings out my productive side. First off, it is a chance to treat someone to some delicious hospitality.  I love seeing people’s faces in response to delicious hospitality. It is a massive delight to my heart. Secondly, it is a chance to treat me to some delicious hospitality. So I guess I am really getting the better end of the deal, two treats in one, but no matter.

cran scones 1

The problem with any hospitable host (*ahem, Martha), is that he or she is often unable to partake in the general festivities because they are pulling souffles out of the oven, perfecting the flaming strawberries and wiping the unnoticeable dust off the sideboards. I strive not to be this person, kind of like I strive not to be the chick with the camera, so I try and do advance planning as much as possible. Enter, these scones. Extravagantly delectable, and perfectly easy to whip up. Freezer to table in 30 minutes, people. Does it get any better than this?

cran scones 4

The answer, dear Reader, is no. Especially as there is chocolate involved, and my best friend ever coming for a visit.

cran scones 6

Now, to business. Please be proud of me. I chose to forego the high fructose dried berries route in favor of fresh cranberries. This is an essentially good choice. Please make it. The combination of citrus and dark chocolate (never a bad thing) is further complexified by the cranberries.

cran scones 3

And the beautiful part is that the fun parts are housed by the lightest scone dough ever. It was soft and crispy on the outside and not too dense on the inside, unlike some of those day-old scones you can find in coffee shops. These are best fresh.

cran scones 5

I also whipped together a mock Devonshire cream, which is very similar to the trifle filling I used here. So much good. Not that these chock-full lovelies need anything more than a pat of butter.

cran scones 7

Oh, and a cup of tea, obv. That’s easy too.

I rhyme,

L

Meyer Lemon Fresh Cranberry Scones
Adapted from Gourmet, Inspired by smittenkitchen

1 1/2 tablespoons freshly grated tangerine zest (from about two tangerines)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar plus 2 tablespoons
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

4 ounces quality dark chocolate (or chips, whatever)
1 1/4 cups fresh cranberries, chopped in half
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 400°F. and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Zest two tangerines for all they’re worth. I found the scones were a little light on that flavor, which wasn’t an awful thing, but more zest might be great.

In a food processor pulse flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, salt, butter and zest until mixture resembles coarse meal and transfer to a large bowl.

In a small bowl toss together fresh cranberries and 2 tablespoons sugar and stir into flour mixture.

In another small bowl lightly beat egg and yolk and stir in cream. Add egg mixture to flour mixture and stir until just combined.

On a well-floured surface, pat dough into a 1-inch-thick round (about 8 inches in diameter) and with a 2-inch round cutter or rim of a glass dipped in flour cut out as many rounds as possible, re-patting the scraps to get more rounds out of it. Try not to handle the dough too much, though. Arrange rounds about 1 inch apart on baking sheet and bake 15 to 20 minutes, or until pale golden.

Let cool until almost completely cool, then serve scones warm with mock Devonshire cream (recipe follows). If you have any left over the next day, pop them in the micro for 7 seconds or so before serving. Makes around 12 scones.

Note: I froze half of this batch, and saved them for another weekend. After the scones are cut out, lay them out on a tray and stick them in the freezer for 10 minutes. Remove the par-frozen scones to a freezer bag, and stick ’em in the freezer until you need ’em. And no need to defrost either! Just add a few minutes onto the baking time if you are making them straight from frozen, maybe five.

Mock Devonshire Cream, Scone Accompaniment
Adapted from Sweet Jeanette

4 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Beat the cream cheese until fluffy, then beat in the confectioners’ sugar until smooth.  Add the whipping cream and beat on medium speed until combined, then beat on high until peaks form. Try to beat it until the peaks are just under the “stiff” label. Refrigerate until serving.

Pipe Dream #148: To Not Nitpick My Baking So Much – Coffee & Walnut Traybake

She’s at it again. The Great British Bakeoff cookbook was calling. This cake jumped out at me when I first paged through, partly because walnuts are delish and partly because I thought it would be feasible to attempt making this for 200 people. My other option with walnuts was the Coffee & Walnut Battenburg, but if you’ve ever seen a battenburg, you can imagine my disinterest in the idea of making that for a crowd.
Even after I left school, though, I still thought it sounded good. And besides, what is a “traybake” even? I assume it is what we in the States call a “sheet cake.”
Overall, it was a pretty ok cake. I thought it was a little lacking in the moisture department, but everyone at work raved it, so it’s possible that, as with cookies, I have pretty specific tastes when it comes to moist-ocity/underbaking. Another aspect of its okay-ness: I made the icing a bit too thin. It worked out all right, but I would have preferred a more swirly type icing.
Thank you for listening to me about how I could have done things right. It is therapeutic for me.
L
Coffee and Walnut Traybake
225 grams butter, softened
225 grams light brown sugar
275 grams self-raising flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
4 large eggs
2 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons instant coffee dissolved in 2 tablespoons boiling water, cooled
75 grams chopped walnuts
For the icing
75 grams butter, softened
225 grams sifted powdered sugar
2 teaspoons milk or cream
2 teaspoons instant coffee dissolved in 2 tablespoons boiling water, cooled
Walnut halves, broken roughly

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees (fan)/ 160 degrees/gas mark 4. Grease a 9 x 13 inch pan, and line the base with parchment. Grease the parchment.

Beat the butter in a mixing bowl until creamy. Add the sugar and beat well until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until incorporated after each addition. Fold in the flour and coffee liquid. When combined, fold in the walnuts.

Pour into the prepared pan and smooth the top of the batter. Bake for about 20 minutes or until the top is golden brown and springs back when lightly pressed.

Remove from the oven and run a knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the cake. Let cool 20 minutes on a wire rack before turning the cake out. Let cool completely.

To make the icing, sift the powdered sugar into a bowl. Add the warm melted butter, coffee and milk. Stir until smooth. My frosting was a bit too thin, so you may want to reduce the amount of milk you add. Let sit until it is a bit more firm, then swirl over the top of the cake. Sprinkle with the walnut pieces, and leave until firm.

Keeps in an airtight container for 4 days.

Pipe Dream #147: To Have An Edition of Something- Homemade Cream Eggs

A few Saturdays ago, I made three different recipes with one 15 ounce can of pumpkin puree. It was like Saturday: Pumpkin Edition, except the days of my life don’t have titles like that. It was just a Saturday, and I had ruminating on all the beautiful pumpkin bakes on other blogs all week. After a solid week of thinking about pumpkin cinnamon rolls, you might go crazy too. Hm. Maybe it should be Saturday: Pumpkin-Craving Edition.

Anyway, seeing as Halloween is coming up, I purposely placed this candy-making post today. Not that it will do you any good. It’s not like you can hand these out from the front door as a frugal substitute for a fun size Butterfinger Bar. Everyone knows that the houses who hand out homemade stuff are weird, and they probably poisoned the candy. My family used to sift through our bags at the end of the night and check for suspect goods, opened wrappers, that sort of thing.

I had trouble taking the Tootsie Roll pop with a Kleenex taped over it to make it into a little mini ghost from the house in the cul-de-sac. Thoughts from my 10-year-old mind:

1. Where has this Kleenex been? Gross.

2. I am trying to ignore the fact that this is like, a heathen holiday. Why are you reminding me with this ghost? I just want to gorge myself on candy and skip the church “Harvest Fest” Halloween replacement party, ok?

3. I wonder how these candy poisoners poison candy? Probably they have to inject it through the wrapper so that no one notices.

Don’t ask my why I was puzzling over the best way to poison candy. I don’t even think I’ve ever heard of that happening.

So this is the Halloween edition of my blog that is actually not a Halloween edition. It is more like the Easter edition of the Halloween candy that will be completely useless to you. Except for eating, of course. Or giving to your sister, who is addicted to Cadbury Cream Eggs.

And p.s. This recipe is particularly good for those of you who have recently moved back to the U.S. from England, where Cadbury is abundant in all its forms and Cream Eggs are sold year-round. Can you even imagine a more perfect world?

I can’t,

L

Homemade Cadbury Cream Eggs

Makes about 2 dozen. Adapted from here.

1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
red and yellow food coloring

1 bag (12 ounces) chocolate chips
2 teaspoons vegetable shortening

Combine the corn syrup, butter, vanilla and salt in a large bowl. Beat well with an electric mixer until smooth. Add powdered sugar, a little bit at at time and mix by hand after each addition. Mix until creamy.

Remove about 1/3 of the sugar mixture and place in a small bowl. Add a bit of yellow food coloring (like, three drops), then a drop or two of red food coloring. Mix well. Cover both mixtures and chill for at least 2 hours or until firm and workable.

Roll a small, marble size from the orange filling. Wrap a small amount of the white filling around the orange. Form into the shape of eggs and place on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Chill for at least 4 hours, or until set.

When the centers are firm, combine the chocolate chips and shortening in a double boiler or ceramic bowl. Melt, stirring gently, until mixture is smooth. Dip each center into the chocolate with a fork, shake to remove drips, and place back on the baking sheet. I touched up my eggs a bit with some leftover chocolate. They looked spotty. Let set out or stick them in the fridge until the chocolate is set.

Pipe Dream #143: To Not Wear It Out – Earl Grey Cupcakes

Earl Grey tea is such a treat. I don’t even let myself buy it, because I’m afraid I’ll wear it out and not appreciate it. Once, when I was like, 10, I was telling my grandpa how much I loved Cool Whip. I said something ridiculously gluttonous and over dramatic like, “I just want to eat the whole bowl!”

And he said, “If you ate the whole bowl, you would be sick of Cool Whip. You wouldn’t even like it anymore.” Which instilled some fear in me. Heaven knows I’ve gotta like Cool Whip for the rest of my life. Actually, I was just thinking that I haven’t had Cool Whip in a really long time. This is probably just fine. There are better things in life, like whipped cream. I didn’t know that at 10, I guess. I should make something with Cool Whip in it sometime. Hm.

Anyway, I saw this recipe in The Great British Bakeoff (book just won’t quit), and I knew it was meant for me. I allowed myself a few tea bags and set to work.

Just because this recipe was meant for me does not mean that it was the best recipe ever. I thought the cakes were a tad dry, and they lacked a serious Earl Grey flavor. I even increased the amount of tea bags called for in the original recipe. The simple lemon buttercream was a bit sharp, too, so you might want to adjust to your taste. That being said, they weren’t bad, and they actually were a perfect complement to a real cup of Earl Grey tea, which is how this afternoon turned into a tea party.

I piped all of these with a medium Wilton rose petal tip, but I forgot which one I used. Any one will do really. And go crazy! You can make up a whole garden!

Fondly,

L

Earl Grey Cupcakes

From The Great British Bakeoff

For the cupcakes:
200ml semi-skimmed milk
3 Earl Grey tea bags
115g unsalted butter, softened
225g sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
250g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

For the icing:
75g unsalted butter, softened
grated zest & juice of two lemons
375g icing sugar, sifted

Preheat oven to 180C. Heat the milk in a pan until it is steaming hot. Remove from heat, add the tea bags and leave to infuse for 2 minutes. Squeeze the bags gently, then remove them. Measure 150ml milk and leave to cool to room temperature.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar until creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well. Add in one-third of the flour to the creamed mixture and beat well. Pour in one-third of the milk and beat again. Repeat until all the flour and milk have been added.

Carefully spoon the mixture into the cup cases, dividing evenly so they are about two-thirds full. Bake for about 20 minutes. Remove for the oven and leave the cakes in the tray for about 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.

To make the icing, beat the butter with 5 tablespoons of the lemon juice and half the icing sugar until smooth. Gradually add the remainder of the icing sugar, beating well until smooth and creamy. Taste and add a little more juice if needed. Pipe or spread swirls of the icing onto the cupcakes and decorate with the lemon zest.


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