Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Rose Blondies

with pistachios and cocoa nibs

This recipe is appearing a little late for St. Valentine's Day, but it was made for my local Cake Club meeting, which didn't take place until after that date. Roses and chocolate are synonymous with St. Valentine's celebrations, so it seemed natural to use them together to flavour my bake. I  chose to make blondies rather than brownies so that the full effect of the colourful additions of rose petals, chopped pistachios and cocoa nibs could be seen.

This is a recipe which I've used once before, back in 2011, when it was very much an experiment. I made a bigger batch this time, doubling up the basic recipe but not all the add-ins. I also decorated the blondies to fit in with the Valentine's theme - something I wouldn't usually do.

150g plain flour
pinch salt
scant 1 teaspoon baking powder
60g unsalted butter
100g caster sugar
2 tablespoons milk
200g white chocolate
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons rosewater*
80g pistachios, chopped
30g cocoa nibs
1 tablespoon rose petals (optional)

* Different brands of rosewater vary a lot in strength. I used Neilsen-Massey, which is very strong. Add to taste, according to what you have experienced with your particular brand, remembering that too strong a flavour can be off-putting.

Preheat oven to 160C and line a 20cm square shallow baking tin with parchment.
Mix the flour, salt and baking powder in a small bowl.
In a large pan, melt the butter, sugar and milk together on a low heat. When the butter has melted add the white chocolate and stir until the chocolate has melted. Remove from heat.
Beat in the eggs and rosewater, then sieve in the flour mixture and fold in, followed by the nuts, cocoa nibs and rose petals, if using.
Transfer the batter to the prepared tin and bake for 25 minutes, or until an inserted probe comes out just dry.
Cool in the tin then cut into bars or squares for serving.

I used a glacé icing coloured with 'hot pink' gel, and some bought chocolate hearts to finish off the decoration.

These blondies were dense and chewy, as they should be, but a little on the dry side. Most people trying them agreed that the rose flavour was just about right.

Friday, 1 February 2019

Mincemeat and Orange Cake

With this cake I surprised myself by finishing off my mincemeat before the end of January; it's not unusual for me to be baking with the remnants from a jar at Easter. I've used this recipe before, adding my own touches to the ingredients, as you can see here.

As I had two jars of mincemeat open, one of which had orange flavour notes, I added the zest of an orange to the cake, and soaked the rather wizened sultanas I was using in the juice of the orange for a couple of hours, before draining off the excess. I was lucky that there was just about 400g of mincemeat when the contents of both jars were combined. I also added a sprinkling of demerara sugar as a topping, before baking.

I cooked the cake in a smaller tin - 20cm in diameter - as I prefer a deeper cake, but this didn't affect the cooking time, it was still done in 75 minutes.

It looks, in the photo as if the fruit sank, but that's just the randomness of that particular slice - it was  much more evenly distributed in reality! Adding the orange definitely perked up the cake - the usual spiciness and tartness of mincemeat is muted when it's spread though cake batter, giving a much more gentle flavour.