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Tahini & Dark Chocolate Cookies {with Bacofoil®}

10 October 2018

Hello autumn! My favourite season - and no, I’m not just jumping on the #pumpkinspice #autumnleaves bandwagon. For me, autumn spells a return to routine (this is not really the case now that I’m a fully grown adult, but you know - old habits die hard), a new spread of incredible season produce to cook and bake with, my birthday (gulp), and our upcoming holiday to Sri Lanka. Exciting! Any tips or recommendations for the later would be gratefully received, especially if they involve anywhere that I can get my mitts on delicious Sri Lankan food.

But I digress. The cooler temperatures and darker evenings still feel charming to me at the moment, especially when I get to spend them tucked up in our kitchen trying out new recipes. We’ve been eating a lot of meat-free recipes recently, and tahini has become an essential ingredient to have to hand. We’ve been drizzling tahini lemon dressing over whole baked cauliflower, coating sweet potatoes in it and stirring through soups and risottos. Too good.

The use of tahini in baking has an established pedigree (Ottolenghi, anyone?), and for good reason too. It has the textual quality of a nut butter with the slightly bitter tang of sesame, which works perfectly with chocolate. Put them in a cookie and expect gooey, buttery deliciousness.

Gooey cookies are the best kind (in my opinion, anyway), but can be tricky to bake smoothly. The soft centre and melted chocolate chips are prime candidates for sticking to baking paper - which is nobody’s favourite. So when Bacofoil® challenged me to test a notoriously sticky product on their Non-Stick Baking Paper, I was all ears!
For anyone wondering how this works, let me enlighten you. The paper has an innovative and unique non-stick textured surface. The little dimples mean there is less surface area in contact with the food, allowing it to bake more evenly and preventing sticking.

I put the Non-Stick Baking Paper to the test vs regular baking paper AND an unlined tin. I think the results speak for themselves! The cookies slid off the Bacofoil® paper like a dream. The regular paper - not so much. Sticking, stuck chocolate chips and even one sad broken cookie (I wasn’t so sad about that but, you know). The unlined tin was a similar story (*sigh*).

In short, the Non-Stick Baking Paper is a dream to bake with, and makes this recipe that bit easier - which is always a win in my eyes.

Regular baking paper
No baking paper
100g unsalted butter, softened
150g dark brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
100g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
125g tahini 
100 dark chocolate
Flakey sea salt

Line two baking trays with Bacofoil® Non-Stick Baking Paper, and heat the oven to 180°C. 

Cream together the softened butter and sugar. Once fluffy, beat in the egg and vanilla. Scape down the sides of the bowl and beat again until well combined.

Separately, whisk together the flour, bicarbonate of soda and fine sea salt. Add to the wet mixture, and mix to combine. Stir through the tahini. 

Finely chop 60g of the dark chocolate, the stir through the cookie dough. Use a tablespoon measuring spoon to spoon the mixture onto the baking trays, ensuring they are well spread o
ut. Sprinkle with a little flakey sea salt, then bake in the oven for 8-11 minutes - the cookies are ready when well spread, and the edges have browned but the centre is just cooked. You will need to bake the cookies in several batches (the paper can be re-used). 

Cool the cookies on the trays. Melt the remaining 40g dark chocolate, the drizzle over the cookies. Once the chocolate is set, lift the cookies off the tray with a palette knife. Store in an airtight tin. 

This post was written is partnership with Bacofoil®, but all views are - as always - entirely my own.

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Brown Butter & Roast Plum Cake {for leftover egg whites!}

1 September 2018

Eeeeeek how is it September?! I feel like I've blinked and missed August. Actually, scratch that - I won't be forgetting that heatwave in a hurry. It was simultaneously wonderful and awful; it was sunny afternoons with windows wide open, and it was melting buttercream, wilting flowers and - I'm afraid to say - one collapsed cake. A summer of highs and lows one might say, albeit with high and higher temperatures. And for the record, I learnt my lesson from the collapsed cake (four words: too. much. lemon. curd.).

It's been a while since I've shared a life update on here (I tend to stick to my annual recaps - last edition HERE, for anyone interested!), but am pleased to say that my bijou (my new favourite word which means small, yet elegant and perfectly formed - natch) wedding cake venture has had a busy few months! Factor in birthdays, anniversaries and wedding tastings, and one way or another I've had a cake most weekends this summer. This makes me super, super happy, mad excited and unbelievably grateful to those trusting people who keep asking me to make cakes for them. It's so great! Thank you, thank you!

Put all that baking aside working full time, and it also means that some other areas of my life - predominantly this little blog, but also a number of my long suffering friends - have been a little bit neglected. One day I'll nail that balance, but for the time being I think I'm doing - if not perfectly - then ok. I'm doing ok. I'm spinning quite a few plates and nothing has crashing into pieces just yet (except for me, that is, when the aforementioned cake collapsed in a 30°C kitchen. Yup.)

Anyway, thank you for following along on this unconventional little journey. I've followed a number of amazing bloggers over the years, and one of the things I loved the most was watching their humble, unassuming little passion projects evolve into fully fledged careers. I'm definitely not there yet, but I hope you guys feel like that too. Rest assured that just because I'm not posting all that often, I'm still reading your comments, occasional kind emails and social posts, and feel so *hashtag blessed* (sorry, I still can't get on board with that). If you'd like to hear from my more often, you can follow me on Instagram, which I am a little more active on - apologies in advance for the wedding cake spam.

So - finally - to this here brown butter and roasted plum cake. I baked this at the weekend, and it felt so good to be pottering around my kitchen again, not clock-watching, not multi-tasking, rather just pulling out everything that needed using in our fridge and working out a recipe.

The plums, handpicked with my wonderful friend Jess and her sister Imogen in Iver, were already roasted, very simply in honey and earl grey. They needed eating, just like a sad looking punnet of blackberries, and a leftover dollop of salted caramel filling from a wedding cake. I also had six egg whites going spare, the remains of some batch curd making (raspberry, passionfruit and lemon, all for recent wedding cakes). This sponge uses just the whites and is light and airy, but also strong enough to hold up a whole lot of fruit. Pretty perfect, in my eyes anyway.

Swap out the fruit for whatever you have to use up. I used half brown and half caster sugar, but use a full batch of either according to what you have in your cupboard.

The cake mix is adapted from THIS recipe on the inspired NAMI NAMI, as recommended HERE by the one and only David Lebovitz.
600g plums, quartered and stoned
200g water
1 earl grey teabag
2 tbsp honey
6 egg whites
100g soft brown sugar 
100g caster sugar
150g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
100g butter
100g blackberries (optional)
50g salted caramel (optional)
25g flaked almonds

Heat the oven to 150°C / 130°C fan. Place the teabag in the boiling water to infuse. Cut the plums into quarters and remove the stones. Arrange them in an ovenproof dish, drizzle with the honey and pour over the hot tea, discarding the teabag.

Roast in the centre of the oven for 25-35 minutes, covering with foil halfway through if the plums begin to catch. The plums are ready when they are softened and have intensified in colour. Set aside to cool. Once cool, drain away the liquid.

Increase the oven temperature to 180°C / 160°C fan, and line an 8" round baking tin with greaseproof paper.

Place the butter in a saucepan, and melt over a gentle heat. Turn the heat to medium-high, and allow the butter to bubble until the white solids on the surface have turned golden. Remove the pan from the heat, and allow to cool slightly.

Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer with a tablespoon of the caster sugar. Whist until thick, airy and in soft peaks.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the remaining sugar, flour, baking powder and salt. Add to the egg whites, and carefully fold to combine, working carefully so as not to knock too much of the air out. Spoon a little of the mixture into the tin, then top with a layer of roast plums and blackberries. Continue until all the cake mix and plums have been used. Swirl the surface of the cake with the salted caramel, scatter with the flaked almonds, then baking the the centre of the oven for 45-50 minutes, or until golden and a skewer comes out of the centre of the cake clean.

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Matcha Pistachio Blondies

19 July 2018

They say it's not easy being green. True, these funny little blondies do have something of the Kermit the Frog about them, but I think it's kind of amazing. Let me elaborate.

I know I'm a little (read: about five years) late to the matcha craze. What can I say? I suppose the slightly acrid flavour profile learnt from several terrible matcha lattes - complete with burnt milk and creepy latte art - put me off. I finally decided to give matcha another chance and, experimenting with this enigmatic ingredient in my own kitchen,  my eyes have been well and truly opened to a whole new world of subtle, aromatic flavour that is perfect for baking.

Blondies are one of my favourite things to bake (and to eat). Their sweet, gooey, melty, butterscothey deliciousness is the perfect canvas for chocolate, nuts and fruit, either fresh or dried. Matcha pairs beautifully with white chocolate; the silky texture and sweet flavour is the perfect foil to the earthiness of the tea. I've tweaked my blondie recipe here to add melted chocolate to the base, giving the finished blondies the most incredible, decadent texture. Verdant pistachios, like crunchy little jewels, bring even more greenery to the party.
250g unsalted butter
175g white chocolate
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
150g caster sugar
100g pistachios, shelled 
150g plain flour
10g matcha
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking power

Line a 20x30cm baking tin with parchment, and heat your oven to 150°C. Place the butter in a small saucepan along with 75g of the white chocolate, and melt over a very gentle heat. As soon as the butter has melted, remove from the heat. Any chocolate pieces that have not fully melted should do so by sitting in the warm butter. Set aside.

Place 50g of the pistachios in a food processor. Pulse until ground to a coarse, sandy powder. Set aside. Chop up the remaining 100g white chocolate into pieces, and set aside.

Place the eggs, vanilla and caster sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk for a couple minutes until thick, pale and fluffy. Carefully pour in the melted butter and chocolate, whisking until just combined. 

In a separate bowl, whisk together the ground pistachios, flour, matcha powder, salt and baking powder. Add to the egg mixture, and mix until just combined. Add the remaining 50g whole pistachios and the white chocolate chunks, and mix through. 

Pour into the prepared tin, and spread the mixture to level. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes, until the surface is set but the centre of the blondies wobbles very slightly when shaken. Allow to cool completely before slicing. Use a clean, hot knife to achieve clear cut edges.

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