Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Chocolate coated candied orange pieces

This Easter hubby went to my favourite chocolate place on the planet, Haigh's, for my Easter egg. When I worked in the CBD I would make pilgrimages to Haigh's just for their milk chocolate freckles and dark chocolate candied orange pieces. I'm not normally much of an orange/dark chocolate fan (I think my impressions of that flavour combination was ruined by Jaffas!) so I was surprised to be so taken with the candied orange pieces. Chewy candied orange on the inside and 70% cocoa chocolate on the outside. Heaven!

So while up the coast this weekend when hubby presented me with my Easter "egg" (freckles and candied orange pieces) not only was I rapt but the cogs in my head started turning. How hard is it to candy something? Naturally this started some frenzied internet research in to the different ways and means of candying orange (I must also admit that I was suffering from baking withdrawal as I had neglected to take away with me my Kitchenaid mixer, piping bags & macaron stencil which was driving me a little batty) until I found the common candying themes.

I must admit that now I've mastered them I'm almost a little sad that I have ruined for myself the mystique of one of my favourite treats as they are disappointingly easy to make. Especially when they cost $90 a kilo at Haigh's!

Chocolate coated candied orange pieces

2C water
3 1/2C sugar
4 seedless oranges
300g dark chocolate (make sure this is good quality! I used Lindt 50% cocoa)

Cut the oranges in half  lengthwise and then half again. Cut the orange in to 1/2cm slices so they look like this:

Combine the water and sugar in a large saute/frying pan over a medium heat and bring to a simmering boil. Add the orange slices and simmer, occasionally dunking the floating orange slices with a slotted spoon (but please don't stir or else the orange will break down!). After an hour remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool completely before removing the candied orange with tongs.

Place the candied orange on a wire rack over some baking paper and allow to dry overnight (I cheated and put them on the racks of an oven with a dish below on 100 celsius for 3 hours until they were dry).

Melt the chocolate and dip the orange pieces, allow to set in the fridge before eating. They should keep in an airtight container for a couple of weeks and are perfect with coffee.


Monday, 18 April 2011

Orders, orders, orders

This weekend I was kept relatively busy filling orders for Monday morning. I'm still playing around a little with fillings and have stumbled across a few of crackers. First amazing combination is a lemon mascarpone filling which is just beautifully light and creamy with a definite lemon zing to it. The second one which I tested out only about half an hour ago is a passionfruit mascarpone, I never would have thought it would taste so good but I think I'm now firmly on the passionfruit in baked goods bandwagon! 

So without further ado please enjoy some pics of the flavours in my mixed dozen:

(L-R) passionfruit mascarpone, fairy bread, lemon mascarpone, choc peppermint & salted caramel

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Baby shower Macarons: salted caramel perfected & choc peppermint

My lovely friend who is 7 months pregnant and house bound (eek!) had her baby shower today and I though it might be nice to take along some Macarons to share (and also to get some people to try out a new flavour!).

I remade the salted caramel ones from earlier on this week:

Salted caramel. Still a winner.

Especially with pretty yellow shells

Choc peppermint

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Macaron Madness

My apologies for neglecting the blog this week, I have been spending way too much time in the kitchen making things to even think of getting on the computer to write it! Let me just say that I'm in love with the Macaron and the Macaron bug has well and truly bit me. I think the most appealing thing about Macarons is that in terms of flavour the sky is the limit. 

My mind is just buzzing with the possible flavours and textures that I can play with and I can't wait to make them all. At this point I think it's only fair that I say a big thank you to my flavour Guinea Pigs (family, long suffering colleagues & husband's colleagues) who have devoured more than their fair share of Macarons this week without complaint. 

My Macaron breakthrough occurred on Tuesday evening when I decided to give a different shell recipe a go and for some reason everything fell in to place, suddenly making these seemed like the most simple, natural thing in the world. Making Tant Pour Tant (or TPT as it is known which is simply a mix of equal parts icing sugar and almond meal) which is then mixed with a fresh egg white, heating a sugar syrup to 115 Celsius, whisking egg whites to soft peaks, slowly adding the hot sugar syrup to the egg whites, then beating the meringue until it is impossibly thick and glossy, folding the meringue through the TPT paste, piping the shells out, leaving them to rest, baking and matching them up. 

Then comes the fun part where you get to play around with the flavour and texture of the filling. This week I've played around with making caramels, ganache & buttercreams, experiencing their different feel in the mouth, level of sweetness and adaptability. Personally I think that the salted caramel I made on Sunday was an absolute winner and very hard to beat in terms of flavour. White cholocate ganache is a little too sweet for me especially when combined with the already sweet Macaron shells but others seemed to love it. I believe the overall winner in terms of a brilliant vessel for other flavours would be the buttercream mainly because there is the ability to mediate the level of sweetness relative to the other flavours in the Macaron. Having said that I'm keen to explore the use of flavour infused marscapone, citrus curds & fruit jams. 

So without further ado please enjoy a few shots of what I have made so far this week.

White Chocolate & Raspberry Macarons

Tasty but the white chocolate made the ganache a little too sweet for me. But they do look perfect!

Fairy Bread Macarons

The idea for these actually came from a colleague of my brother's girlfriend and I have to say that they are very appealing to me, who doesn't secretly still love fairy bread?!

The little ones resting and forming their crust, I was a little concerned that the colour of the 100's & 1000's would bleed on to the mixture.

But luckily it didn't! I just love how whimsical they look.

Filled with a vanilla buttercream with more 100's & 1000's mixed through.

Yum, nuff said.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Why didn't anyone tell me that chicken, haloumi & honey was awesome?!

I started making this a few weeks ago after a few months of hesitation since first spying it in a cookbook I was given for Christmas. I understand the combination of chicken & honey, chicken & haloumi but honey & haloumi?! Upon closer study of the recipe it calls for oodles of lemon which I think act as a sort of middle man between the salty chewiness of the haloumi and the sickly sweetness of the honey. The flavours that you end up with are amazing and this dish is so  simple that it shouldn't taste as good as it does, even my one year old nephew loved it. Oh and thank you to my awesome brother who thought to take photos when the rest of us were digging in!

Baked chicken with haloumi & honey
Adapted from Donna Hay 'Fast, Fresh, Simple'
I'll write this up as a serve per person so just multiply it by the number of people you need to feed.

1 200g chicken breast
75g haloumi, sliced thickly
zest of 1 lemon
1 sprig lemon thyme
1t olive oil
1t honey

Preheat the oven to 180 Celsius. Place the chicken and haloumi in a baking dish and sprinkle over the lemon zest and lemon thyme. Place the honey and olive oil in a watertight container and give it a good shake to combine. Drizzle the honey/oil mixture over the chicken and haloumi. Bake in the oven for about 20 mins or until the chicken is cooked and the haloumi is golden.

I love this particularly with a fig and rocket salad. Just drizzle a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar over some rocket and sliced figs.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Sugar Egg Flour's Belgian triple chocolate fudge brownies

Our signature brownies are dense and fudgy with generous chunks of Belgian Callebaut dark, milk and white chocolate. 

mmmmm... brownie

Now that's just being cruel. Sorry!

You don't win friends with salad.. Unless it's one of these babies!

Unfortunately I wasn't able to bake last night for my normal Wednesday evening stress release baking session due to a horrible migraine which has been hanging around since Monday. Cooking really isn't on the top of my list of priorities when my eyes feel like they are about to make a dash for freedom from my eyelids or when your head feels like it's in an old school wine basket press being slowly turned. Ok ok I promise that  the morbid self-pity session is now over.

I just thought that I would share a couple of quick recipes for some amazing salads. Yeah yeah I know, you don't win friends with salad but these two are beauties! So easy and they will win over most carnivores and are so much more interesting than your normal Greek or garden salad.

The first recipe is one which was given to me by a friend of mine who is the most amazing chef, one night Ben & I went to the little restaurant he used to own and out came the most amazing dish. Duck and pistachio sausages on a beetroot salad with a truffled honey dressing. I had to beg for the recipe for the salad dressing and the truffled honey (I bought mine from The Essential Ingredient) takes a little bit of searching to find in the shops but the effort is worth it.

Beetroot Salad with Truffled Honey Dressing

2 beetroot
2 granny smith apples
200g rocket

1T truffled honey
2T light olive oil
2t good quality balsamic vinegar

Wrap the beetroot in foil and bake for 1 hour at 180 Celsius. When the beetroot is still hot rub the skin off and slice into fine matchsticks (I use a mandolin). Slice the apples into matchsticks (if you want to make this ahead of time but don't want the apple to brown, just toss it in a little lemon juice). Toss the beetroot, apple and rocket together. To make the dressing place the truffled honey, olive oil and vinegar in a little watertight container and give it a good shake. Drizzle over the salad and serve. This is also great with some toasted pine nuts tossed through.

The second recipe is one that I saw on the menu of a restaurant and one which seriously delivers on taste. Hot, salty molten haloumi with sweet fresh figs and peppery rocket... droooool. Then when you throw in the tartness of the pomegranate it becomes an almost religious experience.

Fig & Haloumi Salad with Pomegranate

4 fresh figs sliced into wedges
200g baby rocket
250g haloumi
seeds of 1 pomegranate

1T white balsamic vinegar
2T olive oil

Slice the haloumi into little batons (like fish fingers!). To make the dressing combine the vinegar and oil in a watertight container and give it a good shake. Toss together the figs and rocket. When you are ready to serve quickly fry the haloumi in a pan or on the BBQ until golden. Quickly toss the haloumi through the salad and drizzle on the dressing. Serve immediately.