Welcome to Day 3 of the 12 days of Christmas on Ellie Bakes, where I will be sharing a festive recipe every day until Christmas Eve. I think Christmas is the best time of the year for baking, and I have lots of great recipes to share!
This hot chocolate is the perfect indulgent Christmas treat, and is the only thing to drink after a frosty winter walk. It is also a great way to use up those chocolate oranges which you might have hanging around at this time of year…!
You can scale it up to make as much as you want, just multiply the recipe by how many hearts you are warming (or people you are feeding)!
Last week was pastry week on the Bake Off, and saw the bakers making savoury parcels, a very odd technical (sensing a theme here!) of Kouign Amman, and show stopper eclairs. I though all the bakers did really well, they’re all so good now I don’t know who’s going to leave each week! Chetna’s eclairs looked amazing, and I absolutely loved Richard’s ‘éclair stair’, I thought it was inspired and was a great way to present his eclairs.
As my friend and I were having a baking day anyway, we decided to challenge ourselves and make eclairs! I have made eclairs once before, a long time ago, and although they’re similar to profiteroles, which I made for my baby croquembouche, they’re a French staple which I wanted to have another go at. I was actually surprised by how easy they were to make – apart from a bit of arm work to whisk the eggs in (or use an electric whisk!) they were really simple, and came out looking great. In hindsight, and after watching Bake Off, I think I piped the pastry while it was a bit too warm, as some of the eclairs spread out a bit too much.
Also last week I was Star Baker in the #GreatBloggersBakeOff – so Thankyou Jenny, that was such a lovely surprise!
For the choux pastry:
- 75g chopped butter
- 100g plain flour
- 175ml water
- 3 eggs
- 1/4 tsp salt
For the filling:
- 3 egg yolks
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
- 40g caster sugar
- 15g cornflour
- 15g butter
- 200ml milk
- 250ml double cream
For the topping:
- 100g dark chocolate, melted
- 50ml double cream
2 baking sheets lined with baking paper
25cm bundt tin, greased and dusted with flour
- To make the filling, heat the milk and vanilla to boiling point. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks and caster sugar until pale, then stir in the cornflour. Pour the hot milk over the egg yolk mixture and whisk until smooth. Return to the pan and heat gently, stirring constantly, until thick.
- Put the thick custard into a clean bowl cover the surface with cling film and leave to cool completely.
- To make the pastry, heat the butter, water and salt over a gentle heat until the butter melts. Increase the heat and bring to the boil, then remove from the heat and quickly beat in the flour. Keep stirring until the mixture is smooth, glossy and comes away from the sides of the pan.
- Allow to cool for a few mins, then gradually add the eggs, mixing well with an electric whisk between each addition.
- Spoon the pastry mix into a piping bag fitted with a 2cm plain nozzle. Pipe 14 buns, about 8 cm long and 2cm wide, leaving space for expanding between each one.
- Bake for 15 mins or until golden brown and doubled in size, then put on a cooling rack to cool.
- While the elcairs are cooling, whip the cream to soft peaks and fold into the crème patissiere mix. Then melt the chocolate and cream together until you have a shiny sauce.
- To assemble the eclairs, cut them in half lengthways and either spoon or pipe in the cream and custard mixture. Spread the chocolate glaze over the top of each eclair and leave to set before serving.
This post is entered in week 6 of the Great Bloggers Bake Off, run by the lovely Jenny Paulin over at http://www.mummymishaps.co.uk/.
Summer is here! I don’t know how that happened, this year is going scarily quickly, but I am now home from uni for the summer and ready to do some serious baking! One thing I really miss when I’m away is having a garden, not just because I love sitting outside, but also because it’s so lovely to be able to go into the garden and pick produce to use in my baking.
This cake is made with rhubarb from the garden, which makes it perfect for summer – not too heavy, with a lovely fruity filling. You don’t want to put too much of the rhubarb in the cake, otherwise it will spill over the sides, and not look so pretty (although it will still taste just as good!)
Rhubarb and almond cake with orange marscapone filling
For the cake:
- 250g softened butter
- 250g caster sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp almond essence
- 250g self raising flour
- 40g ground almonds
For the rhubarb filling:
- 8 sticks of rhubarb, half roughly chopped and half cut into short lengths, then cut in half again lengthways
- 50g brown sugar
- Juice of 1 orange
- 1 tbsp cornflour mixed with enough water to make a thick paste
- red food colouring
For the orange marscapone filling:
- 150g light marscapone
- 150ml double cream
- 1 tbsp icing sugar
- Zest of 1 orange
2 x 20cm circle cake tins, greased well and dusted completely with flour
Pre-heat your oven to 180°C
- Beat the butter and sugar together in a bowl until light and creamy, then stir in the vanilla and almonds extracts.
- Add the eggs and beat well again.
- Sift the flour and ground almonds into the bowl, and fold in.
- Spoon the mixture into your cake tins and level the tops, then bake in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the rhubarb filling by putting the roughly chopped rhubarb in a saucepan with the sugar and orange juice. Simmer for 5-10 minutes until the rhubarb is soft, but not mushy.
- Add the sliced rhubarb and simmer again until soft. Add the cornflour mixture and stir until the rhubarb is slightly thickened, then add enough food colouring until the rhubarb is a nice pink colour.
- When the cakes are cooked, take them out of the tin and leave to cool on a wire rack.
- While they’re cooling make the filling by beating the cream with a whisk until thick, then beating in the marscapone, icing sugar and orange zest until smooth and thick.
- When the cakes are cool, arrange on a plate, then top with the orange filling. Spoon over some of the rhubarb – you may not need it all, and you don’t want it to spill over the sides – and top with the other cake.
- Serve with some of the extra rhubarb and enjoy!
These mini croquembouche would be the perfect dinner party dessert – impressive looking, yet relatively simple to make. The profiteroles can be made ahead of time, along with the pink crème pâtissière, then all that’s needed on the day is assembly and decoration with the caramel. You can also decorate it with whatever catches your eye – pink and white sugared almonds would also look really pretty, as would fresh (edible!) flowers, including rose petals and pink mallow.
These baby croquembouche have been a long time in the imagining! I first started designing a pink croquembouche with my friend Izzy as a revision break during exams last year, and now it has finally been made! We really wanted to have a pink crème pâtissière filling, to complete a quintessentially girly dessert!
For the profiteroles:
- 185g plain flour
- 175g butter
- 6 eggs
- 450ml water
- Three days ahead, preheat the oven to 180C. Lightly butter 3 large baking sheets. Put the butter in a large, heavy-based saucepan with the water and gently heat until the butter has melted. Bring to the boil then immediately tip in the flour, all in one go. Beat with a wooden spoon until the mixture forms a ball that comes away from the sides of the pan. Leave to cool for 5 minutes.
- Beat in the eggs, a little at a time, beating well between each addition, until the mixture is glossy and only just holding its shape. You may not need to add all the beaten egg. Spoon and pack half the mixture into a large polythene freezer bag. Twist the opening to secure and snip off a 1cm tip from the corner (or use a piping bag and 1cm plain nozzle)
- Pipe small rounds, about 2cm in diameter, on to the baking sheets, trimming the paste from the bag with a knife. Leave room between them to allow for spreading. You should end up with about 75 rounds. Bake for 25 minutes, in batches if necessary depending on how many baking sheets you have, until well risen and golden, rotating the baking sheets half way through cooking. As soon as the pastry is cooked, make a 1cm slit on the side of each bun to let the steam escape. (This stops them turning soggy as they cool). Return to the oven for a further 5 minutes to dry them out, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.
For the crème pâtissière:
- 300ml milk
- 3 egg yolks
- 50g caster sugar
- 20g flour
- 1tsp vanilla extract
- 300ml double cream
- pink gel food colouring
- To make the crème pâtissière, pour the milk into a pan with the vanilla and heat.
- Put egg yolks, sugar and flour into a bowl. Whisk with a hand electric mixer until the mixture becomes pale and fluffy – it should leave a trail that stays on the surface momentarily when the whisk blades are lifted. This whisking will take about 2 mins.
- Pour about a third of the hot milk into the bowl, whisking on a slow speed all the time until it has all been mixed in. Now whisk in the remaining milk, removing pod.
- Return the mixture to the pan, scraping it out of the bowl using a rubber spatula. Bring slowly to the boil, stirring all the time, until the custard is thickened, smooth and glossy.
- Pour into a bowl, cover with clingfilm and put in the fridge until cold.
- When cold, whip the cream until soft peaks appear, then whisk in the crème pâtissière and enough pink colouring to turn the mixture your desired colour!
- Finally spoon the pink cream into a piping bag, and use to fill all the profiteroles.
For the assembly and decoration:
- 200g caster sugar
- sugar flowers, sugar almonds, rose petals, or other edible flowers, to decorate
- Put the sugar in a small heavy-based saucepan with 10 tbsp water. Heat very gently, stirring slowly until it has dissolved to make a smooth syrup. Take care not to splash the syrup up the sides of the pan or it may crystallise and solidify.
- Bring the syrup to the boil and cook for 4-6 minutes, watching closely until it turns a rich golden colour. Take off the heat and dip the base of the pan in cold water to prevent further cooking.
- Now assemble your croquembouche! Dip the profiteroles into the caramel and stick together into a small pyramid shape. You may want to stick the bottom pastries to the plate with caramel too, to make serving easier.
- Now decorate! Using a teaspoon, drizzle more caramel around the buns so that it falls in fine threads. If the caramel hardens before you’ve finished decorating, gently reheat it, taking care not to burn it. Decorate with edible flowers or anything else you choose!