Archive for the ‘Desserts’ Category

Chocolates from the Chocolate Society

I went for a wander through the streets of Belgravia one lunchtime last week and ended up passing by the Chocolate Society on Elizabeth Street. Walking by, it seemed like a good idea to nip inside and pick up a few goodies for Rob and myself.

Lavender fondant from the Chocolate Society
Lavender fondant

A crisp, dark chocolate shell topped with a lavender bud. Inside is a sweet, lightly fragranced, liquid centre – neither as thick as I’d expect, nor as smooth, but nonetheless absolutely delicious.

Sea salt caramel from the Chocolate Society
Sea salt caramel

This one is just for Rob as I’ve never been a fan of salted caramel. He finds the chocolate dark and rich, but in no way bitter whilst the caramel is silky, sweet and buttery. It’s not as salty as other salted caramels he’s tried, but fares well against them in terms of overall flavour and enjoyment.

Roasted fig and honey chocolate from the Chocolate Society
Roasted fig and honey

My favourite of the four: the honey comes through immediately and is followed by the intense flavour fig – that sweet, sticky middle of the dried variety. The milk chocolate shell is smooth and creamy with a lovely, unfussy flavour.

Honey and thyme chocolate from The Chocolate Society
Honey and thyme

The honey and thyme dark chocolate was the first one I chose while in the shop as I thought it had a lot of promise. It is a little disappointing with neither flavour really coming through; a pleasant chocolate for chocolate’s sake, but not at all what I’d hoped it would be.

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Mixed berries, meringue, clotted cream and star anise

If you read yesterday’s making meringues post, you’ll know that we had a dessert that included meringue, redcurrants and blackcurrants that was inspired by something we found in the weekend’s Observer Food Monthly. Here it is:

Berries with Meringues
Serves 2
Prep time: 15 mins (+ 1 hour cooling/steeping)

75g blackcurrants
75g redcurrants
150g strawberries
30ml caster sugar
40ml water
1 star anise
clotted cream

1) Wash the berries. Remove the redcurrants and blackcurrants from their stalks and hull the strawberries (cut them up if they are large). Put all the fruit into a bowl.
2) Pour the water into a pan and add the sugar and star anise. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 5 minutes, stirring the sugar into the water until it has dissolved to form a syrup.
3) Pour the syrup over the berries and stir it through. The leave it for an hour or so to cool and for all the flavours to blend – go back and stir it every now and then.
4) To serve, split the berries into two bowls, break over some meringue and add a dollop of clotted cream.

This was such a perfect summer dessert and a great twist on a classic Eton Mess. The addition of the star anise was a stroke of genius from the recipe’s creator, Chef Jason Atherton, offering warm exotic undertones to complement the dessert’s sweet, hedonistic flavours.

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Homemade meringues

Ted spotted a rather yummy looking dessert in today’s Observer Food Monthly that would work well with some redcurrants and blackcurrants that we picked up yesterday. I’m not going to give much more away about it just yet as we’ll save it for tomorrow’s post, but what I will tell you is that it involves meringue.

I love meringue! I realise there isn’t really much to it but the crispy, crumbly outside and the sweet soft gooey inside really does it for me. I’ve wanted to try making meringues for ages now, but have never really had reason to (I’m one of those people who loves to make sweet things, but will then eat it all – this means moderation on the making side is key).

I’m sure everyone has their own recipe for meringue and their own tips and tricks for making it just perfect – I opted for a simple-looking meringue recipe from Waitrose. I halved all the quantities to produce four, rather than eight, meringues.

I’ve always heard about how important it is that everything’s very clean and dry when whisking egg whites so I went into OCD-mode and rewashed and dried everything I’d be using – large pyrex bowl, egg separator, balloon whisk, electric whisk heads and ramekin.

First things first, separating the eggs. I’d decided to get each white into a ramekin first just in case one went wrong and ruined the other. I messed up the first egg by bursting the yolk and in a mini-rage threw the whole thing away which, in hindsight, was a little unneccesary. The next two worked okay though – we now have two yolks in the fridge, any ideas on what to do with them? I added the cream of tartare (anything to make a difficult recipe less unpredictable is fine by me) and then started whisking with the balloon whisk until the whites were bubbling, I then got stuck in with the electric whisk (I don’t know if the balloon whisk was necessary, but I was concerned by the recipe’s “start whisking on low” instruction). After a few minutes, the whites were starting to form little peaks.

Whisked egg whites - making meringues

Next, I added the sugar. The recipe said 3 tbsps at a time, but as I was halving all quantities I thought 1.5 tbsps would be safer. As the sugar’s going in, you really start to feel the mixture getting stiffer and the whisk working harder. It also gets a beautiful gloss to it and after a further few minutes of whisking it was ready (Rob wanted me to hold it upsidedown over my head, but I didn’t trust it enough so just did it over the floor – nothing fell out, phew!).

Whisked egg whites and sugar - making meringues

I then stuck down the baking parchment with a little mixture, as directed, before spooning on four mounds of wonderful goo, before popping them in the preheated oven (and helping myself to the bits of mixture left on the utensils!).

Meringue mixture ready for the oven

Everything had gone really well up til this point. I set the timer for 45 minutes, but had a niggling feeling that the oven just seemed too hot. I wish I’d gone with my instincts and checked the temperature with the thermometer as 45 minutes later, my meringues were looking decidedly beige and were smelling more like honeycomb than meringue.

Freshly baked meringue - slightly burnt

Rob and I tried one of the meringues after they’d had their extra 30 minutes in the open oven. I think it had definitely been too hot as the bottoms were a bit burnt, but the gooey middle was actually too gooey and felt a little under done. Not too bad for a first attempt, but disappointing nonetheless. I’ll definitely try this again, but will be checking the oven and following my gut feeling a little more in the baking process.

Come back tomorrow to see what we’re going to do with them!

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Melon and pomegranate salad

We had a small melon still in the fridge from our Abel & Cole delivery that, over a week on, was starting to look a little sorry for itself. It stuck in the back of my mind as we were doing our weekly shop this afternoon when I spotted some enormous pomegranates (about the size of small melons themselves) and knew I had to have one – I’d think about what to do with it later.

When I was younger, a friend’s mum would often give us pomegranates to hack at for the best part of an hour or so and making a terrible mess on fingers and clothes – no wonder I’ve always loved them! Thankfully, the grown up me now knows the secret to de-seeding a pomegranate with no mess and no wasted seeds – a simple bowl of water.

How to De-seed a Pomegranate

1. Cut the pomegranate into quarters
2. Pull away the areas of skin and pith that come away easily
3. Transfer the piece of pomegranate to a bowl of water and remove the seeds – it will be surprisingly easy to do so
4. The seeds will sink to the bottom, whilst the pith will float to the top. Scoop the pith out of the water with a sieve and then drain the water – you’ll be left with a glistening pile of beautiful pomegranate seeds.

There was also a lone orange in the fruit bowl and half a lime from Ted’s fajitas last night and so, a light summery dessert was born.

Melon and Pomegranate Salad
Serves 2-3
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: None

1 large pomegranate (2 standard-sized will do!)
1 small melon (any variety other than watermelon will do)
1 orange
1/2 lime
25ml vodka (optional)

1. De-seed the pomegranate (as described above), cut the melon into slices, remove the skin and cut into chunks. Grate the rind of approximately half of the orange onto a separate dish.
2. Cut the orange in half and juice both halves into a cup/small bowl then add a couple of squeezes of lime juice (to taste). If you fancy a bit of an extra kick add the vodka now!
3. Put the pomegranate seeds, melon chunks and orange rind into a bowl and mix well with your hands. Pour over the juice and mix again, then serve.

I really liked this. The crunchy pomegranate seeds and sharpness of lime provided a wonderful contrast to the sweet, soft melon – a delightfully refreshing dessert that was much needed in the desperate-for-a-storm heatwave we’re experiencing in SW London. We tried this both with and without vodka and I couldn’t really decide which one I preferred so will leave that decision entirely up to you!

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