sweet treat

Mary Berry’s honeycomb ice cream

honeycombicecream

‘Half Term Treat – Mary Berry’s Honeycomb Crunchies’ is by far my most successful blog post to date – if you judge success by the number of hits that is. This is quite depressing really because I wrote it with minimal effort, in a rush, with the children nipping at my heels.

I love honeycomb and when I had this ice cream at a dinner party recently I was in absolute heaven. I just had to look up the recipe and try it. Mary makes the honeycomb in exactly the same way as in the crunchies recipe and mixes it with a ‘cheat’s’ ice  cream that doesn’t need an ice cream maker. It’s so easy to make and I look forward to trying this ice cream technique with other flavours.

Mary Berry’s honeycomb ice cream

  • 4 tablespoons (60ml)  of golden syrup
  • 150g of caster sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda
  • 600ml of double cream
  • 397g (1 tin) of full-fat condensed milk

Measure out the bicarbonate of soda and set aside. Then line a flat baking tray with baking parchment and lightly grease with a flavourless oil.

Put the sugar and golden syrup into a saucepan and set it on a very low heat for about 10 minutes until all the sugar has melted, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. When the sugar is completely melted, turn up the heat to medium. Once the mixture has started to boil, leave to bubble without stirring until it turns golden-brown (this only takes a couple of minutes).

Turn off the heat, add the bicarbonate of soda and quickly whisk for a couple of seconds. The mixture will froth up massively so make sure you use a saucepan with plenty of room. Quickly pour it into the middle of the oiled baking tray and don’t spread it out or touch it or the tray. Leave for about 30 minutes to cool and harden. You can hurry things along by putting it into the fridge after about 15 minutes.

Now break the honeycomb into bite size pieces. Set a third of the honeycomb to one side for decoration, the rest will go into the ice cream.

For the ice cream, whip the cream in a large bowl until it has soft peaks. Then pour in the condensed milk and stir well to combine. Fold two thirds of the honeycomb into the ice cream.

Pour the ice cream mixture into a loaf tin lined with cling film, cover with more clingfilm and freeze for 6 hours or overnight.

When you are ready to serve, turn out onto a serving dish and top with the remaining honeycomb.

Macarons (or is it Macaroons?)

macaroons1

Dainty, pretty and staggeringly expensive macarons seemed to be everywhere in Belgium. We only had them once (as a treat) but this prompted the children to ask when I was going to make macarons again. I vowed that on our return home I would dig out my Mary Berry recipe, defrost the egg whites in the freezer, and rustle some up.

This week I finally kept my promise.

It was then that I remembered why I don’t make macarons very often.

The recipe (which is described as easy) seemed straight forward and all went swimmingly until the part which says very neatly (in soft and calm Mary Berry voice).

“Spoon the macaron mixture into a piping bag fitted with a 1cm round nozzle. Pipe 5cm circles onto the baking tray”.

Now what this doesn’t say is that it is almost impossible to hold the piping bag steady with one hand and fill it with the other because the extremely sticky mixture won’t come off the spoon and you’ve run out of hands. And whilst you’ve been faffing about trying to fill the bag from the top the runny mix is dripping straight out the bottom of the nozzle. You just about manage to pipe messy circles but then, when you have to refill the piping bag, you can’t prise it open because it’s stuck together with syrup. And your hands stick to everything they touch because they’re covered in bright green macaron mix…as is the work surface…the sink…and the floor.

Perhaps I needed one of these piping bag stands that they sell in Lakeland.

 

piping-bag-holder

But I don’t like Lakeland – who sell pointless gadgets to the desperate (in this case me) and gullible.

You can also buy this.

pipping-set

 

Now this does look like it would work but I’m not sure I’m that devoted to the art of macaron making to invest in specialist equipment.

Anyway, I battled on and once the rough looking macarons were baked and sandwiched together they didn’t look too bad. I picked out the best ones for the photograph above and placed them on a beautiful James Hake dish which helped.

The thing is I don’t even like macarons. But I do like making people happy and the smile of anticipation on my children’s faces when I showed them the results of my labours was well worth all the fuss and washing up.

I pretended not to hear when they asked “Mummy, when are you going to make macarons again?”

PS. I still don’t know whether it’s macaron or macaroon.

Mary Berry’s macaroon/macaron recipe

Makes 9-12

For the macarons

  • 125g ground almonds
  • 200g icing sugar
  • 3 egg whites
  • 2 tablespoons of caster sugar
  • ½ teaspoon of cream of tartar
  • Food colouring (whatever colour takes your fancy)

For the butter cream filling (my recipe)

  • 100g of dark chocolate
  • 50g butter
  • 200g of icing sugar

For the macarons, first mix together the icing sugar and ground almonds and try to get rid of any large lumps by crushing with the back of a spoon (you’re meant to blitz in a blender but this makes too much washing up for my liking).

Using an electric whisk beat the egg whites in a scrupulously clean large bowl until stiff peaks form. Then slowly whisk in the cream of tartar and caster sugar until the mixture is smooth and glossy.

With a large metal spoon, gently fold in the food colouring, icing sugar and ground almonds.

Take a piping bag fitted with a 1cm round nozzle. Fill the bag with the mixture (as best you can) and pipe 5 cm circles of mixture onto flat baking sheets lined with baking parchment. I draw around a 5 cm round biscuit cutter onto the baking parchment to make a guide but it is worth noting that the mixture does spread so if you want your macarons to be 5 cm then don’t pipe all the way to the edge. It’s a good idea to leave plenty of space between each macaron in case they spread more than you hope.

If a peak forms on top then flatten it down with a damp finger. Tap the trays sharply onto the work surface to expel any air bubbles and then let the macaroons settle for about an hour, or until the surface is no longer sticky.

Heat the oven to 160oC and bake for 15 minutes.

Leave to cool for 10 minutes before removing from the baking parchment with a flat knife and transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Make up the butter cream filling by melting the dark chocolate and mixing with softened butter and icing sugar until smooth. You could also fill the macarons with standard butter cream, or lemon curd or whipped cream.

Use the filling to sandwich the macarons together. Then chill in the fridge until the butter cream has set before storing in an air tight container at room temperature.

Peanut butter squares

peanut squares

Some of you will already be yawning because if you haven’t made Lorraine Pascal’s peanut butter squares I bet you will have eaten one made by someone else. They were quite the thing about three years ago when the TV programme and book came out. I’ve had many but it was only this week that I finally got around to making them myself  (I was at a loose end with two mardy and overheated children to cheer up).

These are good to make with kids because all young children like bashing up digestive biscuits with a rolling pin and breaking up chocolate into small pieces. But if you’re like me you’ll spend most of your time telling them off for trying to eat all the ingredients.

I’m trying to be good at the moment diet-wise, so it was torturous making such deliciously sweet, calorific delights and then trying not to eat them all up. I didn’t actually eat a whole one but I did wolf down all the crumbs left over from cutting them into squares (which probably amounted to more calories anyway). I’m not a huge fan of peanut butter but I do like digestives, Snickers bars and chocolate and so I just love these.

Lorraine Pascal’s peanut butter squares 

Makes 16

  • 150g of butter
  • 200g of good quality chocolate (dark, milk or a mixture)
  • 250g of digestive biscuits
  • 200g of soft light brown sugar
  • 300g of crunchy peanut butter (this is a staggering amount- almost a whole small jar). I only had smooth so I reduced the amount slightly and added some chopped peanuts (which are visible in the above photo).
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • A pinch of salt (my addition because I’m a salt addict)

Line a 20cm square tin with baking parchment, leaving some excess paper hanging over the edges (this makes it easier to lift out once set).

Melt the butter in a large pan over a low heat, or do this in the microwave.

Blitz the digestive biscuits and brown sugar in a blender or food processor until you have fine crumbs. Or do this in the old fashioned way with a plastic bag and a rolling pin (much more fun and less washing up).

Tip the sugar and biscuit crumbs into the melted butter. Stir in the peanut butter and vanilla extract and mix together so everything is well combined. Tip the mixture into the lined tin and press it down really hard with the back of the spoon.

Snap the chocolate into squares and throw into a small bowl. Melt in the microwave in 30 second blasts, stirring well between each addition or sit the bowl over a pan over simmering water.

Pour over the melted chocolate, tilting the tin back and forth a bit so that the whole thing is evenly covered. Pop in the freezer for 30 minutes to firm up (or the fridge for an hour).

Once the chocolate is set, remove it from the freezer (or fridge). Lift it out of the tin with the help of the baking parchment. Remove the paper and then use a sharp knife to divide it into 16 squares.

NOTE: I think these are best kept in the fridge until you are ready to eat.

Marble cake

marble cake 1

This is a really good cake to have in your baking repertoire – it looks impressive but is straight forward to make and doesn’t need icing. It’s a winner in our family (probably because it involves chocolate) and the kid’s love to help make it.

The recipe was printed in a free pull out section of the Daily Mail (this is not a paper that I’m a fan of but my father-in-law gave it to me…honest). It comes from Paul Hollywood’s ‘How to Bake’.

I for one am looking forward to the new series of ‘The Great British Bake Off’ now that the World Cup has ended and there is literally nothing worth watching on TV.

Marble cake

Serves 8 – 12

  • 200g butter, softened
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of good quality vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 250g plain flour
  • 3 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 3 tablespoons of full fat milk (although I used semi-skimmed because we don’t buy full fat and it was just fine)
  • 2 teaspoons cocoa powder

Heat the oven to 180oC fan and line a 1kg loaf tin with baking parchment.

In a large bowl beat the butter, 180g of the sugar and the vanilla extract until light and fluffy (I use an electric hand whisk).

Beat in the eggs one at a time then sift the flour and baking powder into the bowl and gently fold in with 2 tablespoons of the milk.

Spoon two thirds of the mix into the prepared tin.

Sift the cocoa powder into the remaining mixture, add the remaining 20g of sugar and 1 tablespoon of milk and fold until well incorporated.

Spoon the chocolaty mixture into the tin then run a fork through both mixes, swirling the two together to make a marbled effect.

Bake in the oven for 45-70 minutes – testing with a skewer after 45 minutes to see whether it is done (it’s done if the skewer comes out clean). Paul leaves his for 55 – 70 minutes but mine was done after 50 minutes.

Remove the cake from the tin and leave to cool on a wire rack.

You can dust the top with icing sugar if you want it to look pretty.

NOTE: I would advise making this cake when you know it will be eaten up quickly (if you’re having people to stay for the weekend for example). The use of butter and no icing means that it doesn’t keep that well and dries out within a couple of days. If you do have some left however, then you can refresh by zapping each slice in the microwave for a bit (10-20 seconds should do it).