Tag Archives: Coffee

Lindt Creation Dessert Chocolates*, Fats and Bird Caramel Eclairs

We’ve been pretty spoilt this year when it comes to sweet treats. After managing to eke out our Christmas haul all the way until the back end of February, we were ready to say “that’s enough – no treats for a while, let’s be good”. Fortunately, we were snapped out of this madness when we were given the chance to sample some lovely Lindt chocolates. We’re huge fans of Lindt, so we couldn’t turn down the chance to try something new. Fats in particular has fond recollections of Lindt – unfortunately there’s no big romantic story here, instead the memories were formed in the Lindt factory outlet store in Aachen, Germany,  down the road from some offices he used to work in… he did bring Bird back one of these beauties for Valentine’s day – the gorgeous little tin is still used! If you fancy trying these out for yourself make sure you read to the bottom for a chance to win a box!

Lindt Creation Desserts are bite-sized chocolates, each one based on a well-known dessert. This is a great concept, and made for a rather obvious post inspiration – we were to chomp our way through the chocolates with the aim of deciding which one was our favourite, and we’d make the winner into a full-sized dessert and post the recipe on our blog. In fact, we decided to go one further and rank all of the chocolates. It’s a tough job, but we were definitely ready for this particular challenge…

Lindt Chocolate Box

Chocolate Box Full

So (in the style of BuzzFeed) here is the DEFINITIVE ranking of Lindt Creation Desserts!

7. Tiramasu
Tiramasu Choc

At the centre of this chocolate was a thick layer of milk chocolate praline with a layer of white chocolate mousse. This was wrapped by lovely milk chocolate and topped with a thick layer of white chocolate dusted with cocoa powder. Although delicious in its own right, we felt it could have had a stronger coffee flavour.

6. Meringue
Meringue Choc

A hard, white chocolate shell, covering a creamy white chocolate mousse dotted with tiny little bursts of crunchy meringue giving pops of texture. Really tasty, but white chocolate will always be second to milk really…

5. Chocolate Fondant
Chocolate Fondant Choc

Chocolate chocolate chocolate! Thick milk chocolate shell with a rich, gooey centre. Really gooey, the kind of chocolate that sticks your tongue to the roof of your mouth.

4. Brownie

Brownie Choc

A squishy texture with crunchy hazelnut pieces and a nutty, dark, almost burnt flavour. This was really indulgent – perfect with a mug of tea!

3. Mille-feuille

Mille Feuille

This was a lovely milk chocolate coating a rich praline, laced with specs of wafer, giving a great texture.

2. Creme Brulée
Creme Brulee Choc

A milk chocolate cup containing a delicious white chocolate cream with a smooth milky flavour, topped with a crunchy layer of caramelised sugar that gave that lovely burnt flavour you associate with creme brulée – delicious!

1. Caramel Eclair
Eclair Choc

Our winner! Caramely and classic milk chocolate surrounding a gooey centre somewhere between caramel and fudge in texture, with a sweet but complex, coffee-like, slightly burnt taste. So good, we were inspired to make them for real!

We seriously enjoyed these desserts, and we reckon you will too – there’s definitely something for everyone in there. With two weeks to go until Mother’s Day, it would be a great gift too. Read on if you want to know how to make your very own eclairs, and to find out how to get hold of your very own box of delicious chocolates!

Salted Caramel and Coffee Eclairs

This recipe is a bit adapted from a Paul Hollywood recipe that you can find on the BBC food website – we drew on some of the skills we learned at our Bordeaux Quay cookery school earlier in the year and changed the recipe a bit – we hope you like it!

For 4 eclairs (and a few profiteroles for good measure), you’ll need:

For the filling:

And for the icing:

Before you start, pre-heat an oven to 190°C. Now, make the choux pastry. This is pretty scary if it’s your first time, but take it from us that it’s nowhere near as hard as it looks! Melt the butter in a pan over a low heat along with the salt, caster sugar and water. Once the butter has melted, bring it to the boil and immediately add the flour. Keep it on the heat for a few minutes (bit different from Hollywood here!) to cook some of the flour out, while stirring fairly vigorously to bring it all together. Once everything has come together, take it off the heat.

This is what the choux looks like when an egg has just gone in - don't panic!
This is what the choux looks like when an egg has just gone in – don’t panic!

Start adding the eggs, a little bit at a time, and stir to incorporate into the rest of the mixture. Don’t worry if it doesn’t come together immediately, you really need to put some effort in! Hollywood reckons 2 eggs for twice this mixture, but we got nearly 2 eggs in – what you’re looking for is a really shiny, silky texture that isn’t runny but will be easy to pipe.

Ahh - perfect silky choux!
Ahh – perfect silky choux!

Once the choux mixture is done, put it in a piping bag with a 1 cm nozzle (we used disposable bags and cut a 1 cm nozzle), trying to make sure there are no air bubbles. Pipe out four 12cm-long eclairs onto a pre-prepared baking sheet lined with baking paper, and as many profiteroles as you can get out of the rest of the mixture – we managed 4 fairly large ones (about 3 cm across).

Choux going in bag

Eclairs going on

Dab down any spikes of choux with a wet finger, and whack in the oven. Bake until a light golden-brown colour – this should be about 30 minutes. As soon as they come out, put a small hole in each one with the tip of a knife, to let any steam out – otherwise they’ll go a bit soggy, and no-one wants soggy choux.

Cream

Now for the cream filling. Beat the marscapone in a bowl until smooth, and then add the coffee and icing sugar and mix in. Beat the cream until it holds soft peaks and then fold into the rest of the mixture. Spoon into a piping bag with a 1cm nozzle, and pipe into the eclairs and profiteroles. This is another step that’s a bit scary if you haven’t done it before! Just stick the nozzle into the hole that you made and squeeze (making sure that the cream is going to come out of the right end of the piping bag!). The eclairs will hold a surprising amount of cream, inside they’re nothing but air. They’ll be pretty weighty when you’re done!

Perfect one-hand filling from bird there!
Perfect one-hand filling from bird there!

Eclair Filled

For the icing, heat the sugar, butter and salt in a saucepan. Don’t stir initially – give it the odd shake around though. When everything is melted and a bit smoother, add the milk and bring to the boil. Keep it boiling for about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Take it off the heat and sift in the icing sugar. You’ll need to be quick now, the icing will harden surprisingly fast! Slather over your eclairs, and dip the profiteroles in to get a little cap of icing.

For a last extra-special touch, sprinkle over a little sea salt and gently press into the top of the icing. This lovely burst of flavour and texture just puts the icing on the cake… or should that be the salt on the icing?

The sea salt is a really excellent touch!
The sea salt is a really excellent touch!

Now – eat them! We have to say thanks to Lindt for this, not only for the lovely chocolates, but for inspiring us to get in our kitchen to cook up this quite frankly incredible dessert.

Eclair Done

We also have an exciting announcement – head over to our twitter feed for a chance to win a box of your very own Lindt Creation Desserts. A perfect gift just in time for Mother’s Day (or a treat to scoff yourself!). UK only, competition closes 21/03/2014, one box available and winner is chosen at random from followers who have retweeted – retweet and follow us on Twitter for a chance to win!

*Lindt Creation Desserts were sent to us free of charge by 4Ps Marketing. You can buy them at the lindt shop

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Underground Cookery School

On Monday we had the extreme good fortune to be invited to the Underground Cookery School in Shoreditch, London. Having followed that up with a most excellent dinner with some good friends last night, it’s fair to say that right now we’re both feeling pretty tired. Not since our days as students have we come off the back of a Monday-Tuesday late-night double-whammy! As well as the exhaustion (being a foodie is hard!) we also feel extremely lucky, and we’re excited to tell you all about it (but please forgive us if we start talking jibberish).

The day started off like any normal Monday (work, ugh) but the morning flew by and come lunchtime we were able to sack off our day jobs and don our foodie mantles! We stopped at Friska on the way to the station to pick up some really excellent crispy pork pho (Vietnamese noodle soup – if you’re in Bristol, or Vietnam for that matter, try some!) and pretty shortly we were on our way to the big city.

Crispy Pork Pho from Friska... Great start to a foodie afternoon!
Crispy Pork Pho from Friska… Great start to a foodie afternoon!

Since we had a free afternoon and the whole of London at our disposal, we took a short wander through Hyde Park to stretch our legs and meet some of the locals (swans, a heron and a moorhen!) before heading to the Victoria & Albert museum. It was the first time either of us had been to the V&A, and it’s one of those places we could get lost in for days! Apparently if you were to see everything in the Louvre in Paris it would take you a solid week, and while we’re not sure it’s quite that big, it was nevertheless impressive. We wound our way through some 19th century sculpture, historic Japan, took in the gardens, stumbled around mediaeval Europe and finally, feeling quite overwhelmed, decided it was about time to find some good coffee.

Heron Hyde Park

Swan Hyde Park

Courtyard in the V&A... We've decided we need one for our house
Courtyard in the V&A… We’ve decided we need one for our house
Inside the V&A
Inside the V&A

Deciding to neglect tea and cake in the V&A for some strong coffee we did a quick Google and came up with Shoreditch Grind, a rather trendy looking place right on Old Street roundabout. We weren’t quite sure we were cool enough to go in – there was a cinema sign, neon and plenty of industrial barstools – but we put our best hipster faces on and went in. We knew right away that this was the place for us, the aroma of amazing roasted coffee hit us and shook any thoughts of tea from our minds! Fats went for a flat white while Bird chose a macchiato, both were incredible, they even rivalled our Bristol favourite, Small St Espresso.

Macchiato and Flat White at Shoreditch Grind
Macchiato and Flat White at Shoreditch Grind

After working out how to sit on a barstool without almost falling off every few seconds we happily whiled away the hour or so before it was time for our cooking lesson. There was a brief thought of going somewhere else for a slightly more intoxicating drink (Dutch courage and all that) but a candle and a bar list was plonked in front of us so we settled in for a cider (Bird) and a beer (Fats). Minds lubricated and inhibitions fractionally lowered, we headed off to our first ever blogger event!

Dutch Courage!
Dutch Courage!

We’ve been to a couple of cookery schools in Bristol, but the Underground Cookery School is a bit of a different proposition to what we’ve experienced before – they promised a “fun and informal” approach to cookery, as well as a “Hoxton Brasserie” vibe – and it certainly delivered! On entering the stylish and modern underground kitchen/diner we were warmly greeted by Carlos, who immediately thrust a welcome glass of Prosecco into Fats’ hand while Bird dived straight in with some mussel de-bearding. After a few delicious canapés Matt – founder and head chef at the school – gave us a short introduction explaining what was on the menu (moules marinière, ballotine of chicken and tarte Tatin) before splitting us into two groups of 10 and setting us to work.

Canapés on Arrival
Canapés on Arrival

We started off by learning how to de-bone a chicken. This is a great skill to have, and is not something that we have done before. It was great to see an experienced chef do this with such ease, it immediately filled us with confidence! We’re going to blog a tutorial about this sometime soon, so watch this space. Once we’d de-boned it, we took the breast and flattened it with a rolling pin (by whacking it! Great way to unwind…) before laying it on a couple of leaves of lightly wilted cabbage and spreading with a mixture of cream cheese, leeks and bacon (definitely didn’t sneak a cheeky taste of that…) and rolling tightly in cling film and kitchen foil.

Chicken Ballotine
Chicken Ballotine

We were then shepherded quickly to the next lesson of the night, tarte Tatin. This was done in teams, with a couple of us slicing apples, a couple of us making caramel and the rest assembling and covering with pastry. This lesson especially was a great way to get to know some of our fellow bloggers – there was a really great atmosphere, and a bit of competitive spirit (who can assemble the most perfect tarte Tatin? Who can slice the thinnest apples??) didn’t hurt!

Tarte Tatin

Onion slicing like a pro came next, where we also learnt that they make you cry by wafting into your eye and promptly turning into sulphuric acid (we can thank our fellow blogger Heidi for that one!). Throughout the evening the chefs were absolutely great, taking a really relaxed approach and happy to go over anything again if we didn’t quite get it the first time.

Moules marinière turned out to be about the easiest thing we’d ever cooked! Cook off some onions and garlic, throw in a healthy slosh (like, half a bottle) of wine, reduce a bit, then in with the mussels until they open up! Toss in a bit of oil and parsley and serve. Just don’t eat the ones that stay closed.

Muscles

Moules

All of the food we cooked was totally delicious, and we shared a real combined sense of achievement (we were all eating each others’ food, so a bit of trust helped!). The wine and conversation kept flowing through dinner and too soon we had to run to catch our train home to Bristol (but not without boxing up our tarte Tatin for the road).

We had a great time at our first blogger event – we met some really great people and learnt some useful skills! Big thanks to Matt and the team, they really made us feel welcome. We can thoroughly recommend the Underground Cookery School for any event, we can’t imagine a better way to spend an evening. Here’s to many more blogger events to come!

The Underground Cookery School offer team building, hen parties and private events. They can be found near Old Street roundabout in London and at undergroundcookeryschool.com.

Dining

Tart Tuesday: Chocolate and Coffee Ganache with Roasted Hazelnuts

Guess who’s back… back again… Tart Tuesday’s back… ok so it doesn’t really work. Anyway, the point is that it was a particularly emotionally draining week on The Great British Bake Off with both Paul and Mary seeming to have woken up on the wrong side of bed that morning (separate beds hopefully) and all of the fantastic bakers took a verbal hammering. To counteract the distressing nature of this viewing we made our most indulgent mini tarts to date! These little artery-cloggers are filled with a ganache made with both dark and milk chocolate, coffee liqueur and then topped with chopped, roasted hazelnuts.

Once again we used the same pastry as featured in all of our Tart Tuesday posts but as this is a fridge set tart the pastry was rolled out to pretty thin (around 5mm) and then placed in the same loose-bottomed tart cases that we’ve used throughout (thanks Nanny Bird for those!). The base of it was then pricked with a fork and a piece of greaseproof paper placed in each, filled with baking beans and then baked blind for just under 10 minutes at 180°C, then the beans and greaseproof paper were removed and it was baked for a further 10 minutes or so until lightly golden and firm. Leave these to cool fully while you make the ganache.

Chopped Chocolate

We used a mixture of half milk chocolate and half dark chocolate to give a semi-sweet filling as no sugar is added. Finely chop 100g of your desired chocolate and place in a jug for easy filling of the tarts. Place 65ml of double cream in a small pan over the lowest heat and slowly heat until it begins to steam, at this stage tip in about 1 tbsp of liqueur. If you wanted to miss this step and make them non alcoholic just used 75-80 ml of cream instead. We used a coffee liqueur but orange, raspberry, almond, hazelnut or probably many others would be delicious too.

Once you have added the liqueur to the cream watch it closely and once it starts bubbling slightly pour it over the chopped chocolate immediately. Let this mixture stand for 30 seconds to 1 minute to let the hot cream do it’s work, and then using a whisk bring the ganache together. You will end up with a much better, glossier ganache if you try not to introduce much air at this stage so don’t whisk properly, just gently use the whisk to mix until you have a rich, glossy mixture. Pour this into the cold pastry cases and then put in the fridge to chill – ours chilled for about an hour and a half and had a beautiful truffle-y texture. You can leave it just simple like this or top with it anything you like, we used chopped roasted hazelnuts made by roasting a small handful of whole hazelnuts at 180°C for 5 minutes, chopping once cool and sprinkling on top.

Chocolate Tarts

Enjoy… Who do you hope wins Bake Off?