Thursday, 22 December 2011

Last Minute Christmas Baking Ideas: Chocolate & Hazelnut Snowballs Recipe


Can you believe it is 2 days, 4 hours 3 minutes and 15 seconds until Christmas!

Every year no matter how early I try to prepare or how soon I get my Christmas shopping done, the big day always seems to sneak up on me.


I have been baking non stop this December, at the bakery, at home, you name it I've made it.  I have also made about 70% of my gifts this year so have had a lot to do but I really have enjoyed every second of it and will definitely be making presents next year too.

Today I thought I would post a seriously delicious, super easy, last minute Christmas recipe.  Not the mini Bûche de Noël obviously, I thought I'd just post those for fun and you can find that recipe here.



I made the Bûche de Noël in exactly the same way as before, only cutting the chocolate sponge into three after trimming.  I rolled starting from the shorter edge rather than the longest side of each third as before, in order to create small fat little logs.


I decided to decorate them all differently, the first I simply decorated with sugar Holly and Berries, the one above I scattered with chopped hazelnuts and decorated with little toadstools.  Below is probably my favourite little log, I added a branch to the top of the log rather than the side and sat an adorable little snow man on top.


That's enough about my Mini Yule Logs though, lets talk Chocolate & Hazelnut Snowballs.

These delicious little rice krispie treats could not be easier to make and I guarantee they will go down a storm with adults and children alike.


Chocolate & Hazelnut Snowballs

(Recipe adapted from Food Network Magazine)

1/2 cup icing sugar
3/4 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts
1 cup crisp rice cereal
1/2 cup chocolate hazelnut spread


Sift the icing sugar onto a plate and set aside.

Mix together all the remaining ingredients by hand until well combined. 

Shape the mixture into balls.

 Do not try and squish or roll the mixture into balls, this will not work and makes a terrible mess, rather, gently pat the mixture into a roughly spherical shape.

 Transfer to the prepared plate of icing sugar.  Gently roll the ball in the icing sugar to coat and set aside on a sheet of greaseproof paper to set.

There you have it delicious chocolatey, nutty snowballs.


I probably won't be posting again until after Christmas so a huge Merry Christmas to you all.  I hope you all have a wonderful time with your friends and family. 

 Enjoy it and try not to stress out!


Merry Christmas!

Lots of Love

Astral

x x x



Friday, 16 December 2011

Christmas Baking: Bûche de Noël or Chocolate Yule Log Recipe

This gorgeous Bûche de Noël or Chocolate Yule Log is by far my favourite home-bake of the Christmas season, so far at least.  Not only does the finished log look absolutely beautiful but it tastes like a dream!

I have decided that I personally would much rather have one of these as the centerpiece of my Christmas dessert table than a traditional Christmas cake and I'm sure most of my family would agree.  The flour-less sponge is beautifully light and the buttercream is just wonderful. 


Mr. P. called the cake epic and I have been running around delivering little bits of chocolate log to friends and family, all of them have raved about it. 

I love this recipe so much I think I'm going to make a few mini chocolate logs before Christmas!


Don't feel daunted by the rolling of the cake and decorating, it really is actually pretty easy, I was so pleased with my roll, not a single crack!

Don't worry if your cake does crack a little, the icing will cover all sorts of little issues. The bark effect is a breeze, trust me and you will have so much fun making and decorating this cake.

Bûche de Noël  or Chocolate Yule Log

Recipe adapted from Nigella's Christmas

For the chocolate yule log:

6 eggs (separated)
150 g caster sugar
50 g cocoa
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the chocolate buttercream:

175 g dark chocolate
250 g icing sugar
225 unsalted butter
1 tbsp vanilla extract

Line a Swiss roll tin or shallow baking tin with baking parchment.

Preheat the oven to 180° C

In a medium bowl whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks, still whisking gradually add 50g of caster sugar, continue to whisk until the peaks are stiff but not dry. Set aside

In a separate larger bowl, whisk the egg yolks with 100g of caster sugar until they are thick, light and airy and pale in colour.

Add the vanilla extract and sieve the cocoa powder onto the yolk mixture, gently fold them in. Add a dollop or two of egg white to the yolk mixture to lighten it and gently fold to combine. Gradually, and gently, fold in the rest of the egg whites.

Pour the mix into the prepared Swiss roll tin or shallow baking tin. Bake for 20 minutes. Allow the cake to cool a little before turning out onto a clean sheet of baking parchment. Trim the edges of the cake with a sharp knife.

To make the chocolate buttercream:
 
Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl placed over a pan of barely simmering water, remove from the heat and set the bowl aside to cool.
 
In a large bowl cream together the butter and icing sugar for around 3 minutes. Add the chocolate and vanilla extract to the buttercream and beat for a further 2 minutes.
 
To Assemble:

Spread the cooled cake with a thin layer of chocolate buttercream.

 With the long side of the cake facing you, gently roll the cake away from you, the the baking parchment to help you curl the end under and put pressure on the log as you roll it, this will help insure a tight roll.  Don't worry if the sponge cracks a little, the buttercream will hide a multitude of sins.

Cut the ends at an angle, and save the pieces you have removed to create a branch or two later.

Cover the yule log with the chocolate buttercream, using a palette knife or the back of a spoon to create a rough finish. Place the pieces of cake you removed earlier on the side of the log to create branches and ice these with buttercream in the same way. 
 
Use a wooden skewer or similar instrument to mark lines in the buttercream, creating the bark pattern, don't forget the wriggly round markings at the end of the log.
 
 
How you decorate is up to you, I kept my log pretty traditional with sugar mushrooms and a dusting of snowy icing sugar.  I even added a little dusting of cocoa powder to the board and mushrooms to add to the woodland effect.  You could add little sugar Holly leaves, Christmas bows, little woodland creatures, a little gingerbread house and a few white chocolate decorations would look gorgeous too.

I have been busy making loads of gorgeous edible Christmas gifts that I cannot wait to post but I might have to wait until after Christmas for fear the lucky recipients might see something they shouldn't

.  I hope you're all enjoying the lead up to Christmas, have a brilliant weekend. x



Saturday, 3 December 2011

Christmas Baking - Mince Pie Macaron Recipe


I am so glad it is finally December and I can break out all the Christmas bakes! I have been think about these Mince Pie Macarons since September when I first got my hands on some Buttery Sweet Dough flavouring. The ability to make a macaron taste like sweet pastry was just to exciting to bear quite frankly.

Mince Pies are the epitome of Christmas for me, I love them and look forward to them every year.  I also love a variation on the traditional mince pie and these macarons are no exception they taste so much like a mince pie, even a mince pie itself wouldn't be able to tell the difference.

I am adding these gorgeous macarons to this months Mac Tweets, I love a seasonal Mac Attack and I have sadly missed a few lately so I'm glad to be back to it.


These Macarons are really simple, the shells are of course flavoured with Buttery Sweet Dough emulsion (which you can source from NY Cake) and mixed spice.

The filling is a very simple buttercream with glorious Mincemeat stirred through, you can use any type of mincemeat you like sore bought or home made will both be great.



Mince Pie Macarons

170g icing sugar
160g ground almonds
1/2 tsp mixed spice
4 medium egg whites, separated into two equal batches
160g vanilla sugar or caster sugar
1 tsp Buttery Sweet Dough flavouring emulsion (optional)

For the filling:

50g butter, softened
100g icing sugar
1 tbsp milk
100g mincemeat

To Serve:

1 tbsp icing sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon


To Make The Macarons:

Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Sieve together the icing sugar, ground almonds & mixed spice into a large mixing bowl. Add the first batch of egg whites (unbeaten) and mix to form a thick paste. Set aside.

Tip the second batch of egg whites into a heatproof bowl and have an electric whisk at the ready. Place 50ml water and the caster sugar into a small saucepan on a medium heat. Bring to a boil and cook until the syrup registers 110C, using a sugar thermometer, at which time start beating the egg whites on a high speed. Once the syrup has reached 118C pour it slowly down the side of the mixer bowl, avoiding the whisk. Add the flavouring emulsion if using and continue to whisk on high until the mixture has cooled slightly and you have a shiny peaked meringue mixture - the bowl should no longer be hot to the touch, but still warm.

Tip the meringue onto the almond mixture and gently fold together. It is important not to over-mix the batter - it should fall in a thick ribbon from the spatula. The ribbon should fade back into the batter within about 30 seconds - if it does not, fold a few more times.

Heat the oven to 170C/150C Fan/ gas 3-4. Transfer the batter to a piping bag fitted with a plain nozzle. Pipe rounds onto the prepared baking sheets, knock the air out of the macarons by giving the bottom of the tray a whack on the kitchen counter and leave to rest for 30 minutes on the, or until the macarons have developed a skin.

Bake the macarons for 14 minutes. Once out of the oven immediately slide the parchment onto a work surface and cool for a few minutes before gently peeling off the paper.

Pair up your macaron shells.

To Make The Filling:

Beat the butter with an electric mixer until significantly whiter in colour around 1-2 minutes. 

Sift the icing sugar and gradually add half to the butter, continuing to beat the entire time, add the milk and finally the remaining icing sugar.  Beat the mixture for a further 3 minutes.

 Stir in the mincemeat using a rubber spatula.

Spoon a teaspoon of filling onto the flat side of one macaron in each pair and sandwich the two shells together.

 To Serve:

Sieve the icing sugar and cinnamon together.

Pile the macarons high on a cake stand or serving plate and sieve the cinnamon sugar mixture over the plate of macarons to dust.


I cannot wait to fill the house with the smells and sounds of Christmas!

I have been so busy at the bakery, where it has been pretty darn Christmasy, that I'm a little behind at home this year but we are getting our tree tomorrow and I cannot wait!

I'm making lots of foodie gifts for people this year and I really looking forward to putting on the Christmas music and getting the goodies underway, the best bit of Christmas is definitely the baking.

x x x