Posted in Baking Day, Recipes

Blackberry & Apple Mess

My all-time favourite simple dessert is fresh fruit and Irish Dairy cream.  Simple. Add one more step of crushing up some shop-bought meringue nests and you can elevate it to something that looks quite classy despite the name ‘mess.’ Based on Eton Mess here I’m using stewed fruit – Blackberry and Apple, but you can use whatever fruits you have – stewed rhubarb for example would work equally well or just some apple on its own.
Blackberry & Apple Mess

To be as visually appealing as possible serve this in nice sparkling glasses and layer up whatever way you choose.
stewed blackberry and apple

crushed meringue

layered fruit and mess

I came across these meringue nests in SuperValu today made by ‘The Tipperary Kitchen‘ and there are 2 ingredients : Irish Free Range Egg whites from O’Egg and Caster Sugar.  I love discovering great Irish Food Products.
The tipperary kitchen meringue nests

blackberry dusted closeup

Blackberry & Apple Mess:
You will need:
6 meringue nests
350g stewed blackberry, apple & sugar (50g) cooled
280ml double cream (approx. carton sizes vary)
Method:
Roughly crush the meringue nests and set aside.
Whip the cream until holding soft peaks.
Spoon a little of the stewed fruit in the base of a glass and top with a layer of crushed meringue.
Mix the remaining stewed fruit (reserve 1 tbsp for later) with the whipped cream and then stir through the remaining crushed meringue (reserve a little crushed meringue dust for decorating).
Spoon the creamy mixture on top of the fruit and meringue layered in the glasses.
Top with a little fruit and a blackberry and then sprinkle with meringue dust.
Enjoy!
‘Til next time, Sheila.
p.s. A final shout out for your Vote for Irish Blog Awards please –  vote for Gimme The Recipe to reach to Irish Blog Awards 2015 Finals -voting closes tomorrow 21st September – fingers crossed!

Posted in Baking Day, Food & Health, Recipes

Chocolate Tartlets {sugar is not your enemy}

Chocolate Tartlets.

Chocolate tartlet bitesize close-up
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again it doesn’t matter what you eat it’s the amount you eat that matters if you want to reach and maintain a healthy weight.  I’ve witnessed people on ‘diets’ wolfing down tubs of cottage cheese and seen the triumphant tweets as another milestone few pounds are shifted on a diet that awards points to food.
Chocolate tartlet

Diets are not sustainable.  Variety is the spice of life so have variety. Do not restrict your diet, do not cut out anything but do cut back, just because it’s there doesn’t mean you have to eat all of it now – you can have some more tomorrow. Be sensible.
Chocolate tartlets

Change your portion size at dinner – palm size of protein (palm does not include your fingers!), fist size of carbs (yours not Mohammad Ali’s), and have vast amounts of vegetables.
Tartlet tins

If you need to lose some weight then stop eating after 6pm and do some extra exercise until you shift the pounds, then maintain your healthy weight by moderately exercising and watching your portion sizes.
Chocolate tartlets upside down

Stop eating the kids leftovers. If you go out tonight and have a three course meal then dinner tomorrow should be vegetable soup or something light. It’s about balance and moderation. Be sensible.
Chocolate tartlets bitesize on platter

The latest food war being waged is against sugar, this in a world that has shifted from dissing butter, fat, eggs and salt.

Sugar makes things sweet and I like sweet things. Sweet things are for treats and desserts, they are for occasional indulgence. Sugar is not your enemy. Be sensible.
Chocolate tartlets bitesize side-on

Desserts in restaurants are huge so share them – you don’t really want to feel bloated do you, you just want to feel satisfied.

These chocolate tartlets contain butter, sugar, eggs & chocolate.  All real, good foods but too much of it will make you fat.  You don’t want to be fat so just have a little piece.
Chocolate tartlets bitesize from side

I would make these for a special occasion where there are lots of people around to share and cut each tartlet into bite-size morsels.
Chocolate tartlet bitesize close-up

When I’m cooking I think I’m like most people and regularly hurried and without the luxury of time to wait for things to set or rise etc. In this recipe I use a small quantity of shortcrust pastry to make a light biscuity base for the tartlets. Shortcrust pastry should really get to have a little rest in the fridge before it’s rolled but here I don’t and you know what it works out just fine.

Chocolate tartlets:

You will need {for the pastry base}:
6 tartlet tins with push up bases, pie weights
100g plain flour
50g butter (cold)
10g caster sugar
1 egg yolk {keep the white for the chocolate mix}
1 tbsp cold water
Method {for the pastry base}:
Pre-heat the fan oven to 180C.
Use a food processor to mix the flour and cold butter together until breadcrumb texture then add in the caster sugar, egg yolk and water and mix until comes together into a dough ball.
Lightly flour a work-surface and rolling pin.
Roll out the pastry and invert your tartlet tins to cut out pastry to their size.
Line each tartlet tin with a pastry base, don’t worry if it doesn’t reach all the way up the sides.
Use pie weights – I put them in a cupcake case – and then bake the pastry bases in the hot oven for 10 minutes.
Remove from oven and reduce heat to 170C .

While the cases bake make the filling for the chocolate tartlets:
You will need {for the chocolate filling}:
125g chocolate (70%+)
75g butter
100g light brown sugar
3 tsp water
2 egg yolks
3 egg whites {use the 1 left-over from the pastry}
Pinch salt
Method {for the chocolate filling}:
Pre-heat the fan oven to 170C.
Break the chocolate and roughly chop the butter into a bowl and melt together in the microwave.
Place the light brown sugar in a saucepan, add the water and bring to the boil stirring to create a syrup over a high heat.
Use an electric whisk to add the syrup in to the melted chocolate and butter, keep whisking until smooth.
Whisk in the 2 egg yolks then place the bowl in the fridge to cool while you whisk the egg whites.  Whisk the 3 egg whites with a pinch of salt until beginning to thicken and hold soft peaks.
Remove the chocolate mixture from the fridge and use a spatula to gently fold and stir in the egg whites until all is well combined but without beating.
Pour the chocolate mixture into the semi-cooked pastry cases and return to the oven to bake for 20 minutes.
Remove from oven and allow the tartlets to cool in the tin.
I suggest slicing each tartlet into 6 bite-size pieces.
Enjoy.
‘Til next time, Sheila.
P.S. Voting for the Irish Blog Awards 2015 opens on 7th September for 2 weeks and I’d love it if you’d vote for ‘Gimme The Recipe’ to reach the finals of the Food & Drink category.

Posted in Baking Day

Bulletproof Chocolate {or heavenly morsels to abate the cravings}

‘I need chocolate.’
Fruit and nut bulletproof chocolate
Does that just sound sad, pathetic, weak-willed, the cry of the sugar addict?
Maybe, and if so I’ve spawned 6 little sugar craving monsters of my own who also wail of their ‘need (for) chocolate.’  But that’s not a problem because in my house there’s ALWAYS chocolate.  The stash locations vary, sometimes it’s out in the open on the worktop in the box that says ‘biscuits’ because sometimes the most obvious place is the last place they’ll look.  And I don’t particularly mind sharing the stash, what I do mind is when the last morsel has been raided and I go in search in anticipation only to be met with the vacant and crumpled foil.
bullet proof chocolates

As a well established cynic it’s not in my nature to buy into fads.  Those 10 second soundbites announced like some Gospel as time-fillers on the morning radio with the latest stats on what’s going to kill you or make you live longer – well they just have me raising both eyebrows and rolling my eyes.  So when someone tells me that drinking coffee loaded with fat will have me training my body to burn fat instead of sugars my reaction is a pretty lame ‘meh, I really don’t think so.’  But that’s just me because I’m a cynic and I really don’t like the sound of loading coffee with 2 tbsp coconut oil and 2 tbsp butter and knocking that back for my breakfast.  I won’t be trying it because I like to eat food.

However along the vein of the bulletproofing coffee I was intrigued with a recipe described to me by Rachel my iBrow guru {a girl’s gotta groom}.  Anyway I couldn’t remember the exact quantities she had recommended but the bulletproof chocolates she described to me sounded easy, doable and worth a try.
Tray of bullet proof chocolates

I’m not selling you any promises with these chocolates other than they will really stretch your chocolate bar and with the hiding place being the freezer it’s the last place the kids will look.  With a nod to towards the health brigade I experimented with some additions of various types of nuts and dried fruit, like flaked almonds, macadamia nuts and dried cranberry.
Almond and cranberry choc

They can be eaten straight from the freezer though the flavour is better if you at least let them thaw while you boil the kettle for your coffee.

Bulletproof Chocolate
Makes approx 24 – depends on size of ice-cube trays you use.
You will need:
80g dark chocolate (I used Green & Black 85%)
80g almond butter
80g coconut butter
Nuts & dried fruit optional e.g. macadamia & cranberry
Method:
Break the chocolate into a microwave-proof bowl.  Scoop the two butters in on top and microwave for a couple of minutes, stopping every so often to stir until all are combined.
Place a nut and fruit (if using) into ice-cube trays.
Use a jug to pour the chocolate mixture into the ice-cube trays.
Allow to freeze for an hour or more until set.
Enjoy whenever.
‘Til next time, Sheila.

Posted in Dinner Party

Mini Cheesecake Pots

This is a dessert for the time-pressed cheesecake lover.  The kind of person who doesn’t prepare things the night before and doesn’t like to wait while things set or bake.
Mini Cheesecake Pots

You can take this in any direction that you like and the flavour combinations here are a variation on some classics, just think about your favourite flavour parings and then interpret them into biscuits and fruit.  If you’re a lover of oranges perhaps a jaffa cake base, then some mandarin slices mixed in with the cream and  cheese all topped off with a couple of Terry’s chocolate orange segments.  (Now why hadn’t I thought of that earlier? I do think that would look very pretty and be sophisticated enough to grace a dinner party table.)
Goody tray
I recycled some glass yoghurt pots and some glass ramekins that I think had been bought filled with pate once upon a time.  You could pretty things up with some co-ordinating ribbon but I did say these were ideal for the time-pressed so perhaps not.
If you’d like to reward all your hard work with a break away there’s a fabulous competition running with some great prizes from now until the 30th of March 2012. Just follow this link.
There’s also some great opportunities to win copies of my book ‘Gimme the Recipe‘ on a number of other competitions that I’ve linked to on my gimme the recipe facebook page – and while you’re over there I’d appreciate a Like, thank you!
Now back to these beauties:
First up I give you the Lemon & Crunchie Honey Pot:

Lemon & Crunchy Honey Cheesecake Pot
Lemon & Crunchie Honey Cheesecake Pot

Next to grace the table is Cadbury’s Chocolate Fingers & Raspberry Pot:

Cadbury's Fingers & Raspberry Cheesecake Pot
Cadbury's Fingers & Raspberry Cheesecake Pot

& finally  the Oreo & Strawberry Pot:

Oreo & Strawberry Cheesecake Pot
Oreo & Strawberry Cheesecake Pot

In the interests of being the ultimate time-saving dessert I used Avonmore pre-whipped cream.  Did you know there was such a thing? I’m not talking the long-life cream in a can but a tub of whipped fresh cream straight from the supermarket chill cabinet, handy or what?
Mini Cheesecake Pots:
Makes 6.
You will need:
For the base*:
Cadbury’s crunchie bars
or
Cadbury’s chocolate fingers
or
Oreo cookies
For Filling:
250g mascarpone cheese (or any cream cheese)
1 tbsp icing sugar
350ml fresh whipped cream ( I used Avonmore Freshly Whipped Cream)
For Flavouring Filler:
Half tsp lemon juice & 1 tbsp honey
or
mashed raspberries
or
mashed strawberries
To garnish:
Lemon zest & slices
or
Dark chocolate to grate & extra chocolate fingers
or
Whole oreo biscuit
Method:
Place your chosen base in a sandwich bag and bash until crumbled with a rolling-pin.
Mix the mascarpone cheese in a bowl with 1tbsp icing sugar and whatever you have selected to flavour the mixture.
Once the flavouring element and mascarpone cheese have been combined then gently fold in the whipped cream.
Assemble your cheesecake pots by layering the crumbled base first then the flavoured filling and finally garnish at will.
Can be served immediately or chilled in refrigerator if prepared ahead of time.
Note: I toasted and bashed some hazelnuts for the lemon & honey version and I added extra whole raspberries and slices of strawberries on top of the biscuit base and under the filling in the other ones.
*Quantities per base: Allow approx half a crunchie per pot or 4 chocolate fingers or 2 oreos
Creamy Cheesecake PotsEnjoy.
Til next time, Sheila.