24 December 2014

{Holiday Baking} Festive Blondies

More festive baking before all the food blogs in the world go healthy for January (juicing and salads anyone?).

These are amazing. Even if you don't like ginger, which my husband doesn't, but he absolutely adores these blondies and stuffed his little face with them under mountains of vanilla icecream. True story.

So this recipe is pretty flexible. I made them with dark brown sugar and light brown sugar. Both were delicious. I made them with molasse, honey or golden syrup, equally fantastic (personal preference to honey!). And I made them with traditional flour (same quantity as the original Martha Stewart recipe) and with gluten free flour and they both rocked! So there you go, not bad for flexible baking...

festive blondies

inspired by Martha Stewart

240 g gluten free flour (2 cups)
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground clove
freshly ground nutmeg (to your liking)
280 g unsalted butter, room temperature (2 1/2 sticks)
250 g light brown sugar (1 1/4 cup, packed)
130 g caster sugar (1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons)
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
80 ml golden syrup or honey or molasse (1/3 cup)
200 g white chocolate, broken in squares (I used Green & Black)
50 g cranberries
30 g crystalised ginger (small handful)

Preheat your oven to 350 F / 175 C. Grease and line a pan (I used a 12 x 8 inch pan) with parchment paper.

Mix the flour, salt and spices together. In a separate bowl, beat the butter and both sugars together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time and beat well in between each addition. Scrape the side of the bowl often! Add the vanilla and golden syrup and give it a good mix. Add the flour mixture gradually and mix until incorporated. Then mix in the white chocolate bits, cranberries and crystallised ginger (with a wooden spoon) and spread the mixture in your prepared pan. Bake for around 35 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Let cool completely before cutting into those lush little beauties.

What recipes have you been making this holiday season?

18 December 2014

{Holiday Homemade Gift} Coffee Syrups

There are soooo many Christmassy recipes on the internet at the moment, I guess 'tis the season for pretty, glittery food. Especially sweets!

Last year, I made these. Which are obvi on my baking list again this year. They just embody the holidays to a tee! Plus they are pretty damn tasty.

This year, I wanted to tackle the hard task of making my own coffee syrup. Which took 10 minutes. So not hard at all!

I think that homemade coffee syrups are a perfect gift idea. I'm actually planning on giving these to my lovely neighbour who always signs for my deliveries (like every week, online shoppers unite!).

The recipe is super easy and can be adjusted to make plenty of other syrup flavours. I'm thinking vanilla, almond, hazelnut... You basically make a simple syrup, which is equal parts (volume, not weight!) of water and sugar, and then add your flavouring of choice. I went for peppermint (think of hot chocolate with peppermint syrup, yum) and maple caramel (gotta put a little bit of maple in the holidays y'all!).

peppermint coffee syrup

2 cups water (500 ml)
2 cups caster sugar (around 400 g)
1 teaspoon peppermint extract

Mix the sugar and the water in a saucepan and put on medium the heat. Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved and let simmer away for a few minutes. Let cool off the heat and add the peppermint extract. Transfer into a bottle and let cool completely.

maple caramel coffee syrup

1 1/2 cup water (375 ml)
1 1/2 cup caster sugar (260 g)
1/2 cup caramel sauce (125 ml)
1/2 teaspoon maple extract

Mix the sugar and the water in a saucepan and put on medium the heat. Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved and let simmer away for a few minutes. Let cool off the heat and whisk in the caramel sauce (I think I used Carnation caramel sauce if I remember correctly, but you could make your own too!) and maple extract. Transfer into a bottle and let cool completely.

Now you can make cute labels! Mine are pretty simples, but you can go to town if you want to! Nothing wrong with more sparkles...

Are you making homemade gifts this holiday season, edible or not?

17 December 2014

Life update

I've got my camera back! Which basically means I've got my mojo back... My poor little camera had to go to the camera doctor for more than a month.

So now I can go back to taking pictures of food. That's it!

3 December 2014

Mise en place

My mum first tought me about mise en place when I was a young teen trying to bake and realising I only had about half the ingredients listed in the recipe I wanted to make. Boo. Learning about patience and measuring all your stuff before even starting to mix and bake and decorate. I wasn't impressed, but it proved essential, and I have been doing it ever since like the good girl that I am.

Do you know about mise en place? It's French for 'putting in place'. A clever idea to set up all your ingredients, all measured up, before you start working your magic to make food preparation easier.

Now, not only will it ensure that you have no ingredient shortage before your start rustling up that crispy crumble, it won't make a fool of you when the time comes to add that melted butter in a steady slow stream whilst beating furiously those egg yolks over a bain-marie (says you with a hard brick of butter in hand and looking at those yolks that are quickly staring to look like scramble eggs).

I like to extend my mise en place not only to ingredients, but to the equipment I will be using as well. Just to ensure I will not be halfway through mixing a delicious chocolate mousse cake and realise I lent my hand mixer to a friend (been there, done that).

Do you use mise en place for your recipes?