Sunday, 7 August 2016

Watermelon Macarons


As most of you probably know, I started my own little business a few weeks ago and (incredibly) I've been rushed off my feet with macaron orders! (Thank you so much!) So I've not got a huge amount of time for blogging these days, but these watermelon macarons I made last week are just too cute not to share! Not only are they watermelon flavored (yes, there's watermelon flavouring in these bad boys!) they also have one of my favorite color combinations - green and pink! 

They may look complicated but these pretty macarons are actually fairly simple to create. These are perfect for a summer party, or just for anyone who loves watermelon as much as I do!


Watermelon Macarons
Makes 20

For the macarons
3/4C aquafaba (water from a can of chickpeas) (180ml)
1/2C sugar (100g)
1C ground almonds (100g)
1/2C powdered sugar (65g)
1/2tsp watermelon extract (optional)
Green & pink food coloring gel

1tbsp black sesame seeds

For the buttercream
2Tbsp vegan butter spread
3C powdered sugar
1tsp watermelon extract
2Tbsp almond or soy milk
Green & pink food coloring gel

First make the macaron shells
Pour the aquafaba into a small saucepan and allow to simmer over a medium heat until it has reduced to 1/3C (80ml). This usually takes around 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to cool for 10 minutes.

Pour the reduced chickpea water into the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a balloon whisk attachment and whisk on medium to high speed until soft peaks form. Add half the sugar and whisk until well combined, then add the remaining sugar and whisk at high speed until the meringue is glossy and thick - it should be the consistency of thick marshmallow fluff. Add the watermelon extract (if using) and whisk to combine. Set aside while you prepare your dry ingredients.

Put  the the ground almonds into your food processor and pulse a few times until very finely ground. Add the powdered sugar and process for a few seconds, until well combined.
Sieve the almond-sugar mixture and discard any large pieces. Pour half the dry mixture into the meringue and use a spatula to mix the ingredients together, pressing the dry ingredients down into the meringue until everything is incorporated well. Add the remaining dry mixture and fold into the batter.

Now it's time for a crucial step - the macaronnage. Firmly press the batter against the side of the bowl and then scoop it up and turn over. Repeat this process a further 19 times. After macaronnage the batter should be thick and glossy but should fall slowly off the spatula like a ribbon and then settle/spread slightly in the bowl. If the mixture is too thick you can add up to 1Tbsp of water, but be careful not to add too much or the mixture will be too thin. 

Spoon half of the mixture into a separate bowl and add a little food gel to each bowl, coloring one half green and one half pink - be careful not to over mix the batter.

Spoon the pink mixture into a piping bag and seal at the top. Paint a line of green food gel up one side of the inside of a piping bag and then fill with the green mixture and seal at the top.
Line two large baking trays with grease proof paper and carefully pipe 20 circles onto each, in one smooth motion holding the piping bag directly above the center of each macaron. Drop the baking sheets twice onto a hard surface (this helps to get rid of air bubbles and develops the 'pied') and use your finger to press down any bumps on the surface of the macarons.

Sprinkle the pink macarons evenly with the tablespoon of sesame seeds and leave them to dry at room temperature for 2-3 hours. Once ready to bake, place the first baking tray into a COLD oven, and then immediately set the oven to just under 100 degrees Celcius. Bake the macarons for 20 minutes (some ovens you may have to bake for longer but don't bake for more than 30 minutes) you can check that the macarons are sufficiently baked by gently lifting up a corner of the grease proof paper and lightly peeling it from a macaron shell. If it comes off easily and the macaron doesn't stick then you can turn your oven off!
Turn off your oven and leave the macarons inside with the door shut for 10 minutes, then open the door and leave them to cool inside the oven for a further 10 minutes before removing and allowing to cool completely on the baking tray at room temperature.
Once the oven is COMPLETELY COLD you can repeat the baking process with your second tray of macaron shells. Once the shells are cooled, gently peel them from the baking paper and place them on a tray or rack, ready to fill.

Make the frosting
Cream together the butter spread, watermelon extract and one cup of the powdered sugar. Add the milk a teaspoon at a time and mix until smooth. Add the rest of the powdered sugar and mix well, adding more milk as needed until you have a thick and creamy frosting. Split the mixture in to two bowls and colour one pink and one green. Drop alternating spoonfuls of pink and green frosting into a piping bag and seal at the top.

Assemble
Pipe a blob of frosting onto each green macaron shell and carefully sandwich together with the pink shells.

Place the macarons in the fridge for 24 hours or overnight before eating (this allows the flavors to develop and gives the desired chew) 
Macarons keep well in an airtight container in the fridge for a week and in the freezer for months.



Saturday, 9 July 2016

Everyday Pancakes



Pancakes are a firm favourite in our house. The boys love them, and Pete & I love them too! I love this pancake recipe because not only are the pancakes perfectly light, fluffy and soft - they are so easy to whip up you could have them everyday (although we tend to save them for the weekend!)

This is just the basic recipe, and I added some dark chocolate chips (chocolate is never a bad thing, eh?) but feel free to get creative, adding your favourite fruit, nuts - anything really!


Everyday Pancakes
Makes 6 large pancakes

1C plain flour
2tsp baking powder
1Tbsp sugar
1C almond or soy milk
1Tbsp vegetable oil
1tsp vanilla extract

1/4C dark chocolate chips (optional)

Place a non-stick frying pan over a medium-high heat. Prepare your batter by mixing the dry ingredients together. Add the wet ingredients (reserving the chocolate chips) and mix until smooth. Once the pan is very hot spray with cooking spray and pour 1/4c of batter at a time into the pan. Sprinkle with a few chocolate chips and cook until bubbles appear on the surface of the pancake and then use a spatula to flip the pancake over. Cook until risen and golden, around 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate and continue until you've used all of your batter.

If you want to keep the pancakes warm while you make the rest pop them on a baking tray in the oven on its lowest setting. 

Serve with fruit, maple syrup or whatever you fancy.



Monday, 4 July 2016

Black Sesame & Vanilla Macarons


I've always loved the sweets and pastries you find in China Town, there are always so many interesting flavour combinations and unusual ingredients. Black Sesame is a common ingredient in Chinese desserts, and has a rich, sweet flavour. I paired black sesame with subtle vanilla to create these unusual, delicate and delicious macarons.

Sweet, nutty black sesame shells filled with teal vanilla frosting and a sweet sesame paste center - these macarons are truly delightful!


Black Sesame & Vanilla Macarons
Makes 12

For the macarons
3/4C aquafaba (water from a can of chickpeas) (180ml)
1/2C sugar (100g)
1C ground almonds (100g)
1/4C toasted black sesame seeds (25g)
1/2C powdered sugar (65g)
1tsp vanilla extract

1tbsp black sesame seeds

For the buttercream
2Tbsp vegan butter spread
3C powdered sugar
1tsp vanilla extract
2Tbsp almond or soy milk
1/4tsp teal gel food colouring (optional)

For the black sesame paste
1/2C toasted black sesame seeds
3Tbsp liquid sweetener (I used Sweet Freedom Syrup)


First make the macaron shells
Pour the aquafaba into a small saucepan and allow to simmer over a medium heat until it has reduced to 1/3C (80ml). This usually takes around 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to cool for 10 minutes.

Pour the reduced chickpea water into the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a balloon whisk attachment and whisk on medium to high speed until soft peaks form. Add half the sugar and whisk until well combined, then add the remaining sugar and whisk at high speed until the meringue is glossy and thick - it should be the consistency of thick marshmallow fluff. Add the vanilla and whisk to combine. Set aside while you prepare your dry ingredients.

Grind the black sesame seeds in a coffee grinder or food processor until very fine. Add the the ground almonds and pulse a few times in a food processor until very finely ground. Add the powdered sugar and process for a few seconds, until well combined.
Sieve the almond-sesame-sugar mixture and discard any large pieces. Pour half the dry mixture into the meringue and use a spatula to mix the ingredients together, pressing the dry ingredients down into the meringue until everything is incorporated well. Add the remaining dry mixture and fold into the batter.

Now it's time for a crucial step - the macaronnage. Firmly press the batter against the side of the bowl and then scoop it up and turn over. Repeat this process a further 19 times. After macaronnage the batter should be thick and glossy but should fall slowly off the spatula like a ribbon and then settle/spread slightly in the bowl. If the mixture is too thick you can add up to 1Tbsp of water, but be careful not to add too much or the mixture will be too thin. 

Spoon the mixture into a piping bag and seal at the top. 
Line two large baking trays with grease proof paper and carefully pipe 12 circles onto each, in one smooth motion holding the piping bag directly above the center of each macaron. Drop the baking sheets twice onto a hard surface (this helps to get rid of air bubbles and develops the 'pied') and use your finger to press down any bumps on the surface of the macarons.

Sprinkle the macarons evenly with the tablespoon of sesame seeds and leave them to dry at room temperature for 2-3 hours. Once ready to bake, place the first baking tray into a COLD oven, and then immediately set the oven to just under 100 degrees Celcius. Bake the macarons for 20 minutes (some ovens you may have to bake for longer but don't bake for more than 30 minutes) you can check that the macarons are sufficiently baked by gently lifting up a corner of the grease proof paper and lightly peeling it from a macaron shell. If it comes off easily and the macaron doesn't stick then you can turn your oven off!
Turn off your oven and leave the macarons inside with the door shut for 10 minutes, then open the door and leave them to cool inside the oven for a further 10 minutes before removing and allowing to cool completely on the baking tray at room temperature.
Once the oven is COMPLETELY COLD you can repeat the baking process with your second tray of macaron shells. Once the shells are cooled, gently peel them from the baking paper and place them on a tray or rack, ready to fill.

Make the frosting
Cream together the butter spread, vanilla and one cup of the powdered sugar. Add the milk a teaspoon at a time and mix until smooth. Add the rest of the powdered sugar and mix well, adding more milk as needed until you have a thick and creamy frosting. Add the colouring gel if using and mix until it's an even colour. Spoon into a piping bag and seal at the top.

Make the sesame paste
Grind the black sesame seeds using a coffee grinder, food processor or a pestle and mortar until extremely fine. Add the liquid sweetener a tablespoon at a time and mix well until you have a dark, glossy, thick paste. Spoon into a piping bag and set aside.


Assemble
Pipe blobs of buttercream in a circle around the edge of each base macaron shell, pipe a blob of sesame paste in the center and carefully sandwich together with the top shells.

Place the macarons in the fridge for 24 hours or overnight before eating (this allows the flavors to develop and gives the desired chew) 
Macarons keep well in an airtight container in the fridge for a week and in the freezer for months.



Thursday, 26 May 2016

Brownie Batter Dip



I don't know about you, but when summer time rolls around I kinda go off proper meals during the day, and just want picky things! I don't know why, but it is what it is. I love just munching on watermelon or veggies with hummus, but my latest favorite snacky lunch is this high protein Brownie Batter Dip with lots of fruit to scoop it up with! This is a great recipe for using up all those pesky chickpeas leftover from making macarons!

Real talk for a second. There are a load of healthy, sugar free, low calorie sweet chickpea dip recipes floating around the blogosphere and I'm afraid this isn't one of them. I've tried those recipes and I'm sorry (not sorry) to say that I need the sugar. If you want something to taste like brownie batter, sugar is a pretty crucial component. By all means, switch the sugar in this recipe out for a replacement if you wish, but it probably won't taste as good as the full-sugar version! 


Brownie Batter Dip
Makes 1 1/2C 

1 400g can of chickpeas
1/2C full fat coconut milk
1Tbsp coconut oil
1/3C cocoa powder
1/4C light brown soft sugar
3Tbsp caster sugar
1tsp vanilla extract
1tsp maple syrup or agave
1/4tsp salt

1/4C mini dark chocolate chips (optional)

Drain the chickpeas (save the aquafaba for making macarons or meringues!) and remove the skins. This takes abut ten minutes, but it really makes a difference to the texture of the dip. 

Put the chickpeas along with all the other ingredients apart from the chocolate chips into the bowl of your food processor and blend until very smooth. Scrape down the sides and blend again, making sure everything is well mixed. Pour into a bowl and place in the fridge to set for 30mins to an hour. 

Once thickened spoon into a serving dish and sprinkle the mini chocolate chips on top. Serve with your favorite sliced fruits, pretzels, crackers or cookies!

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four days.