Wednesday 19 December 2012

Salted Dulce de Leche & Mocha Cake Pops

Dear readers,

Firstly, I would like to apologise for my lack of posting last month. The recipe that I was working on had failed. However, I hope to perfect it and post it on the blog in the near future!

Now let's talk about these cake pops. It was my birthday recently and I decided to make some cake pops for my friends to make a change from a normal birthday cake. These aren't the most innovative of flavour combinations (salted mocha caramel cake pops already exist!) but I wanted to make something that all of my friends would like. Rather unsurprisingly, I couldn't resist using the decadent dulce de leche again - it's just so good!

I decided to use my chocolate tempering skills that I acquired from the Chocolate Confectionery Training Course at work (I have been working at Leatherhead Food Research since July 2012) to temper some chocolate for the pops, rather than go for a chocolate coating which seems to be a popular choice in many recipes. Tempering chocolate is quite a work out!

Salted Dulce de Leche & Mocha Cake Pops
To make ~15 cake pops
100g self raising flour
100g sugar
2 large eggs
100g butter
1 tablespoon instant coffee dissolved in 2 tablespoons of hot water
1 tablespoon cocoa
200g dulce de leche
300g dark chocolate or chocolate coating
1 teaspoon sea salt
15 lollipop sticks

Cream the butter and sugar together then add the self raising flour, eggs, prepared coffee and cocoa and whisk until well incorporated. Spoon the mixture into a greased and lined cake tin and bake at 180°C for 25 minutes. Allow to cool.

Break the cake into chunks and place in the food processor to form fine crumbs. Add 90g of the dulce de leche to the crumbs in the food processor and mix for a few more seconds until a dough forms.

Make ~25g balls from the cake and dulce de leche 'dough' mixture. Using the lollipop sticks, prick half way into each ball to prepare for the 'gluing' of the sticks to the balls and place onto greaseproof paper with the lollipop stick holes facing upwards.

Melt 100g of the dark chocolate in a small narrow cup. Dip the lollipop sticks into the dark chocolate and then place into the holes in the balls. Place in the freezer for 30 minutes.

Remove the cake pops from the freezer. Temper the remaining chocolate (or melt the chocolate coating) and cover the cake pops with the chocolate by submerging them until ~5mm of the stick is covered, then quickly and carefully turn them so that there is an even layer of chocolate on the surface. The chocolate will cool very quickly.
It takes a little bit of practice. Place the coated cake pop in styrofoam (or an unsliced loaf of bread, as I used!). Repeat until all pops have been coated and allow to cool and set.

Gently warm the remaining 110g of dulce de leche in the microwave 20 seconds at a time, stirring frequently until it has a smooth consistency. Be careful because it burns easily. Pour the warmed dulce de leche into a piping bag and drizzle over the top of the cake pops. Add a sprinkle of sea salt and serve!

If one wishes to prepare the uncoated cake pops the night before and store them in the freezer overnight, be sure to remove the pops from the freezer about 25 minutes before coating them to avoid cracking of the chocolate.

Be gentle when putting the sticks into the cake balls as they, also, are very susceptible to cracking!
Chocolate tempering is quite tedious. Temperature probes are essential. The seeding method is probably the easiest method to carry out at home. Please have a browse on the internet for different methods. I decided to use real chocolate because I wanted to test my tempering skills, so if you're feeling brave then please give it a try! If not, chocolate coating works perfectly and is much easier to use because it doesn't require tempering.

The cake pops went down well with my friends and colleagues. However, some people commented that the mocha flavour did not come through. This may be due to the powerful flavours of the dark chocolate, so one could use coffee frosting instead of dulce de leche to 'glue' the cake crumbs together to increase the mocha flavour.

Happy cake-popping!

Tuesday 30 October 2012

Snouts - Homemade Bacon Marshmallows Dipped in Milk Chocolate

Dear readers,

I'm not a huge marshmallow fan. When I was a child I used to toast marshmallows on the fire in the living room. My favourite marshmallows were those covered in granulated sugar because, when they were toasted, the sugar melted into a crispy shell which encased the soft molten marshmallow - they had such a wonderful light crunch with a gooey centre, unlike those covered in corn flour which just burned on the outside! I find most commercial marshmallows generally quite chewy and unpleasant. I heard, however, that homemade marshmallows are quite different from the commercial ones. Also, I thought that it would be fun to make marshmallows at home!

When I was in Year 7 (at school), many years ago, we had a media project where we had to design a product and create some adverts for it. I made some "scent bags" with a couple of my friends (I was very 'attached' to the sewing machine at that age) and some of my friends in my class made a food product - snouts! As far as I can remember, these snouts were coated in chocolate and had a pair of nostrils to represent a pig snout. I decided to use that memory of my friend's snouts to influence my homemade marshmallows to surprise him.

Bacon seems to be in everything in America. Burgers, pancakes, chocolate, brownies, cookies, lollipops... and even marshmallows! I always like to make things interesting and I thought that bacon marshmallows would be very apt for making snouts! Most of the people with whom I discussed my idea of bacon marshmallows were a little horrified. This didn't put me off of making them (they already exist anyway!) but it did scare me off of putting too much bacon in them. This resulted in a final product with only a few tiny pieces of bacon in each snout, which meant that most people wouldn't even know that the bacon was there, unless I told them. So I am a little disappointed with the outcome in that respect. Next time I will definitely use more bacon, and try not to be afraid of adding too much!

Homemade marshmallows really are very different from the commercial ones - they are so light and airy, like little clouds (the Spanish actually call marshmallows "nubes", which literally means 'clouds') that go "poof!" in your mouth and disappear before your second chew! They are also very easy to make (unlike macarons!). I can't wait to try out a different flavour soon!

This recipe is adapted from David Lebovitz.
9g powdered gelatine (1 sachet)
60ml + 40ml water
100g sugar (caster or granulated)
50g liquid glucose
2 large egg whites at room temperature
A pinch of salt
A few drops of red food colouring
2 rashers of crispy bacon, finely chopped
100g milk chocolate
Marshmallow mix (70g icing sugar mixed with 70g corn flour, sieved)

This recipe makes ~24 snouts.
Put the gelatine and 60ml cold water in a small bowl to soften.

In a small saucepan with a sugar thermometer add the 40ml cold water, the sugar and liquid glucose and place over a medium heat.

In a clean bowl whisk the egg whites until they are soft and fluffy. Add the pinch of salt.

Once the sugar mix reaches a temperature of 220
°F, beat the eggs until they become stiff. When the sugar mix reaches 245°F, slowly pour it over the whipped egg whites and continue whisking.

Put the gelatine and water mix into the saucepan and allow it to melt with the remaining heat from the sugar mix. Whilst whipping, pour the liquefied gelatine into the egg whites and sugar. Add the food colouring and continue whisking until the mixture and the bowl has completely cooled. Gently fold in the crispy bacon pieces.

Generously dust a round cake tin with the marshmallow mix and lightly grease the edges of the tin with vegetable oil.

Spoon the cooled marshmallow into the cake tin and allow to set uncovered for a minimum of 4 hours, but preferably overnight.

Once the marshmallow has set, use a 1 inch diameter cookie cutter to cut out individual marshmallows. Roll in the marshmallow mix and dust away any excess.

Slowly melt the chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of hot water on a low heat. Dip the bottom of the marshmallows in the melted chocolate and place on greaseproof paper. Use the end of a fork to dot on the two nostrils of the snout on the top of the marshmallow. Allow the chocolate to cool and serve!

The complete cooling of the marshmallow during the final whip is crucial - if the marshmallow hasn't fully cooled before placing into the mould, it will weep after it has set.

Unfortunately, I was afraid of adding too much bacon in these marshmallows which, as I mentioned above, has resulted in a marshmallow with too little bacon flavour and texture.

My friend, for whom I made these marshmallows, was overjoyed with my re-creation of the snouts. He agreed that the marshmallows were very light and fluffy. He enjoyed the bacon but also agreed that the bacon flavour could be made stronger.


Monday 17 September 2012

Kaffir Lime and Coconut Macarons

Dear readers,

After over two years of blogging, I thought that it was about time for me to try making macarons. I've heard that they are challenging, and that they were; I baked five batches at various baking conditions. The main problem that I experienced was the cracking of the shells. I have read pages and pages about the making of macarons and I think that I have finally (not) cracked it!

Kaffir lime leaf is one of my most favourite flavours in the world. It is so fragrant, aromatic and invigorating. I believe that kaffir lime leaves are the one ingredient that captures the essence of Thailand - a Thai curry is nothing without them! I searched the internet for kaffir lime leaf flavoured macarons and, to my surprise, I couldn't find one recipe. I decided that this situation needs to be changed.

Kaffir Lime and Coconut Macarons
8 kaffir lime leaves finely chopped
 45g egg white (aged for 2 days at room temperature)
70g + 100g icing sugar
50g ground almonds
22g caster sugar
Green food colouring (powder or gel - the amount will vary depending on the type used)
30g coconut cream

This recipe will make 16 macarons (32 shells).

Sieve the almonds and 70g icing sugar. Whisk the egg whites until they become stiff, then add the caster sugar and food colouring and whisk until stiff again. Fold in the kaffir lime leaves and sieved icing sugar and ground almonds. Stir a few times until the batter has a runny consistency. Pour the mixture into a piping bag and pipe circles of the mixture onto silicone baking sheets. Leave to rest for 45 minutes. Preheat the oven to 170°C. Place the macarons in the oven and immediately turn the temperature down to 140°C. Place a wooden spoon in the door of the oven to hold it ajar for the duration of the cooking. Bake for 15 minutes, then set aside to cool before removing from the baking sheet.

Sieve 100g icing sugar and mix with the coconut cream. Pour into a piping bag and pipe onto the bottom of the shells to glue them together.

In most meringue recipes, minimal folding is required in order to keep as much air in the mixture as possible. I learned (many cracked macarons later) that macaron batter requires a lot of the air to be stirred out before it is piped. This is tricky, since not stirring enough will ruin the macarons and so will stirring too much! About 10 stirs will leave the batter runny enough so that once it has been piped, it spreads out and flattens a little to yield flat surfaces.

Baking times and temperatures may vary - it depends on your oven and also the weather! This is the recipe that (finally) worked for me.

In winter, rest the macarons near a radiator.

To those who sampled these without knowing the flavour, limey and herby flavours were described. I agree that kaffir lime leaves have lime and herb-like flavours. I think that it was difficult to identify the kaffir lime leaf flavour alone as people are generally used to eating them in savoury dishes with lots of other flavours. Some friends actually said that these macarons remind them of Thai curry! The aromatic kaffir lime leaves and the smooth and creamy coconut do make a fine pairing and are very much associated with Thai cuisine. I think that they make quite a fine pairing in macarons, too!

I am glad that I have now accomplished the "macaron challenge". I think that I will put them to one side for now, but hope to try out a different flavour combination in the future! Has anyone else found these as tricky as I have?

Thursday 30 August 2012

Painkiller Cocktail Cupcakes with Pineapple Flowers

Dear readers,

I have been experimenting with this recipe for a couple of months now (between various other baking activities) and I think that I have finally cracked the recipe.

A few years ago my brother went to the British Virgin Islands and brought back the recipe of one of his favourite cocktails that he sampled at the Soggy Dollar Bar, Jost Van Dyke Island - the "Painkiller".

The Painkiller cocktail consists of pineapple juice, orange juice, dark rum, coconut cream with grated nutmeg on the top. My brother and I enjoyed making these cocktails at home. We used coconut cream that is sold in cartons (essentially for making curries) which made them quite indulgent!

I wasn't sure whether to decorate these cupcakes with a cocktail stick and fresh fruit, with a cocktail umbrella or perhaps with a straw. I then remembered reading a post by Maggie from Kitchen Delights on Pineapple Flowers. I thought that these were stunning and would be the perfect decoration for my Painkiller cocktail cupcakes, and even more so once I discovered the caramelised and almost rum-like flavours in them.

The pineapple flower recipe is adapted from Kitchen Delights and Martha Stewart.

Cupcake sponge
2 large eggs
120g self-raising flour
120g butter
120g caster sugar
30 desiccated coconut
zest of 1 orange
1 half of a nutmeg, grated

50g coconut cream
200g sieved icing sugar
2 cap-fuls dark rum
Grated nutmeg

Pineapple flowers
1 whole pineapple

This recipe will make 12 cupcakes.

Cream the eggs and butter together, then add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Spoon the mixture into the cupcake cases and bake for 20 minutes at 180°C.

Mix the sieved icing sugar, coconut cream and rum together until it forms a smooth and even mixture.

Slice the skin off the pineapple and use a melon baller or a knife to cut out the "eyes". Thinly slice the pineapple (as thin as you can without the slices falling apart) and place the slices on a baking tray. Cook at 120°C in a fan oven for 30 minutes, then turn the slices over and cook for 1 hour, or until the slices have completely dried but remain flexible. The cooking time will vary dramatically according to the size of the slices, the ripeness of the pineapple and oven conditions. Place the slices in cupcake cases and allow to set over night in the oven (turned off!) to set the flower shape.

Frost the cupcakes with the icing using a piping bag. Add a light grating of nutmeg, place a pineapple flower on top and serve.

Notes & tips:
Initially, I thought that the coconut in the sponge would be enough for the cupcake and I tried to create a rum-infused meringue butter icing. The icing was delicious, however, it was lacking the creaminess of the coconut cream, so I decided that this ingredient had to be part of the icing.

I understand that pineapple juice is a key part of the cocktail, but I found it very difficult to incorporate this flavour into the sponge. I tried pineapple juice and I also tried chunks of tinned pineapple, since I struggled to get hold of dried pineapple. Yet, overall, I am happy with the flavours contributed by the pineapple flowers.

I used silicone cupcake cases to help the cupcakes hold their shape. I have found, many times, that paper cases tend to spread out during baking and form rather flat cupcakes. Using the silicone cases really helps to keep their shape.

The pineapple flowers can be stored for up to 2 weeks in an air tight container. Do not store the cupcakes once they have been decorated because the moisture from the icing will cause the pineapple flowers to wilt.

I hope that, one day, I will be able to taste a real Painkiller cocktail from the Soggy Dollar Bar in the British Virgin Islands. However, these cocktail cupcakes will have to suffice for now!

Tuesday 31 July 2012

Mayan Chocolate Truffles

Dear readers,

Early last year during my Study Abroad Exchange at UC Davis, California, I visited Mexico during my "Spring Break". I went on a day trip to Chichen Itza and bought some real Mayan Chocolates (unfortunately, I don't have a photo of them). They were quite dry and crumbly but the flavours were delicious - dark and spicy. I tasted black pepper, chilli, cinnamon, bitterness from the cocoa and a slight sweetness of honey.

I really enjoyed these flavours so I decided to create my own version of these chocolates. I wanted to keep the same flavours - black pepper, chilli and cinnamon, but I wanted the chocolates to have a smooth, melt-in-the-mouth texture, rather than dry and crumbly. Fortunately, a very simple ganache of chocolate and cream makes wonderful melt-in-the-mouth truffles.

As I have mentioned before, I prefer my sweets to be on the bitter side. My father and I enjoy the creaminess in milk chocolate but not the sweetness from the added sugar. Also, we both love the deep bitterness of high-cocoa content chocolates but, unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be a creamy chocolate available with high cocoa and low sugar. Most creamy chocolates  have even more added sugar! So, I find that these truffles perfectly suit my taste - just cream and blissful dark bitter chocolate, with a few added spices to mimic the wonderful flavours that I discovered in those Mayan chocolates.

Mayan Chocolate Truffles
200g 80% dark chocolate
300ml double cream
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
teaspoons cinnamon (or mixed spice)
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
50g cocoa for dusting

This recipe makes approximately 60 truffles.

Break up the chocolate and place in a heat-proof bowl. Slowly heat the cream in a saucepan until it starts to bubble. Remove the cream from the heat, pour over the chocolate and stir until all of the chocolate has melted. Mix in the spices and pour the mixture into a cling-film lined bowl. Allow to cool for 3 hours. Once cooled, use a spoon to cut out some of the truffle mixture and roughly shape into a ball using your hands. Roll the ball in cocoa. Repeat with the rest of the truffle mixture and serve. Store the truffles in the fridge for up to one 1 week.
These are quite hot - the odd one or two are enough to satisfy! So, please reduce the amount of cayenne pepper if one prefers less heat. I chose the rustic look of the rough ball-shaped truffles, as they look similar to the Mexican chocolates. If you look closely, you can see that I also mixed some edible bronze lustre with the cocoa to give the truffles a little sparkle!

I have also included a couple of my favourite photos from my trip to Mexico - it is a truly beautiful place!

Friday 22 June 2012

Lime Drizzle Cupcakes

Dear readers,

Lime has such a refreshing, tart and aromatic flavour and is so versatile across the world of cuisine. I was so surprised at the lack of "lime drizzle" recipes, as there are many lemon drizzle and some orange drizzle recipes out there, that I decided to test the idea myself.
I used a simple sponge recipe with equal weights of eggs, flour, butter and sugar. I actually made a crucial mistake when making these cupcakes - I forgot to use self raising flour! I was quite surprised by how much the cakes rose without any raising agent involved. One almost couldn't tell!
As I mixed the lime juice, sugar and lime zest together, the beautiful bright green of the lime zest started to fade (see photos) to a less attractive olive green colour. This is due to the replacement of the magnesium ions in the chlorophyll with hydrogen ions in the acidic lime juice. Unfortunately, this didn't come to mind before I made the cupcakes! Despite the colour change, I very much enjoyed these cupcakes and they make an interesting yet subtle change from the infamous lemon drizzle cakes!

Lime drizzle cupcakes
2 medium eggs
120g self raising flour
120g butter
200g caster sugar
Zest of 3 limes
Juice of 1 lime

This will make around 12 medium-sized cupcakes.

Mix the butter and 120g of sugar together until well-combined, then add the flour, eggs and zest of 2 limes. Fill the cupcake cases and bake for 20-25 minutes at 180°C, or until golden brown.

Mix the zest and juice of 1 lime with the remaining 80g of sugar. Drizzle on top of the cupcakes while they are still warm. Then enjoy!

Tuesday 12 June 2012

Torta Rogel

Dear readers,

Torta Rogel is an authentic Argentine recipe. It consists of layers of crispy pastry sandwiched between glossy dulce de leche and is topped with Swiss meringue.

When I was in Argentina I made this cake with one of my Argentine friends. She gave me a 1kg pot of dulce de leche to take home to make this dessert for my English friends and family.

Many people make Torta Rogel using the same dough as empanadas or they use pre-made empanada discs that I mentioned in my Empanada post. This is such a simple dessert that I didn't want to take any shortcuts. I don't think that England sells empanada discs, anyway! I researched many different recipes, in both Spanish and English, and combined them to create my own.

Torta Rogel

4 egg yolks
260g plain flour
100g butter
50ml water

400g dulce de leche

Swiss meringue

4 egg whites
100g icing sugar

Mix the butter and flour together until a breadcrumb-like texture is formed. Add the egg yolks and water and mix to form a dough. Divide the dough into walnut-sized balls, wrap them in cling-film and then leave them to rest in the fridge for 1 hour.

Roll out the dough balls on a floured surface to a thickness of ~0.5mm. Place the sheets on a baking tray and prick the pastry all over with a fork. Bake the sheets at 180
°C for ~5 minutes until they are lightly golden brown.

Sandwich 7 or 8 baked pastry sheets with spoonfuls of dulce de leche. It may be useful to heat the dulce de leche slightly to soften it and make it easier to spread.

Lightly whisk the sugar and egg whites over a low heat. As the mixture warms, whisk harder until stiff peaks are formed. Place the meringue into a piping bag and pipe little peaks of meringue on the top pastry sheet.


This recipe makes 38 walnut-sized dough balls which, in turn, makes 5 cakes. I decided to make 1 cake and several "rogelitos" (mini-cakes) by dividing each pastry ball into 5 smaller balls to make smaller pastry sheets. If one wishes to make one cake, I recommend quartering this recipe.

Although this recipe is simple, the rolling out of the pastry sheets and cooking them tray by tray does take some time. These are best eaten fresh, however, they can be stored for a few days and heated up for a few minutes in the oven before serving.

En Español:
Torta Rogel

4 yemas
260g harina
100g manteca
50ml agua

400g dulce de leche

Merengue suizo

4 claras
100g azúcar impalpable

Mezclar la manteca y la harina juntos hasta conseguir una textura como de miga de pan se forma. A
ñadir las yemas y el agua y mezclar hasta formar una masa. Separar la masa en bolas del tamaño de una nuez, envolverlas en film transparente y dejar a descansar en la heladera durante 1 hora.

Estirar entonces las bolas de masa sobre una superficie enharinada hasta un espesor de 0,5mm. Colocar las hojas en una bandeja de horno y se pincha la masa por todas partes con un tenedor. Hornear las hojas a 180°C durante aproximadamente 5 minutos hasta que estén ligeramente doradas.

Intercalar las hojas con cucharadas de dulce de leche.

Batir las claras y el azúcar impalpable suavemente calentando en fuego bajo. Cuando esté caliente, batir mas fuerte hasta que este dura a punto de merengue. Rellenar una manga de decoración con el merengue y formar picos encima de las hojas con dulce de leche.

Esta receta hace 38 bolas de masa, que hacen 5 tortas.
Me decidí a hacer una torta y varios "rogelitos", dividiendo cada bola en 5 bolas más pequeñas para hacer pequeñas hojas.

Aunque esta receta es simple, el estirar y cocinar de las hojas requiere mucho tiempo. Estas tortas se comen mejor frescas, sin embargo, pueden almacenar durante unos pocos dias y se calientan durante unos pocos minutos en el horno antes de servir.

The pastry is very crumbly and delicate. The idea is for the pastry to crack as one adds the layers together and the sticky dulce de leche to act as a glue holding each layer in place.

The Swiss meringue is quite different from normal meringue since it holds a mousse-like texture. If one prefers, the meringue can be hardened on a low heat in the oven for 30 minutes or so. The cakes will survive a low temperature in the oven.

Slice like a normal cake and enjoy!

Monday 28 May 2012

Blueberry, Thyme and Feta Salad

Dear readers,

I am truly sorry for disappearing again. My final few weeks of university (ever!) occupied a great deal of my time. I have now completed my four-year degree and it's time for me to enter the real world!

I have lots of blog ideas in the pipeline and waiting to be used once I have the free time. This dish is very simple, but I thought that it would be better to post a simple recipe rather than none at all.

I love shopping in the supermarkets in the evening - I always manage to grab so many bargains. One of the recent bargains that I picked up was a large box of fresh blueberries for 50p! I had some feta cheese in the fridge and I also decided to buy some fresh thyme. I simply threw these three ingredients together to create a beautiful, simple and tasty salad that is perfect for these glorious sunshine-filled days that we have here in England.

Blueberry, Thyme and Feta Salad
40g diced feta cheese
50g blueberries
20 sprigs fresh thyme
Drizzle of balsamic vinegar

Mix all the ingredients together and serve as a starter, side or snack.

I hope to be back soon now that my studies are complete. Thank you for being so patient, my lovely readers. Please stay tuned!

Saturday 7 April 2012

Empanadas with Chicken in a Cherry Sauce to Celebrate the 2nd Birthday of my Blog!

The inside of a chicken in a cherry sauce empanada

Dear readers,

I wanted to make a dish with chicken and a cherry sauce to celebrate the second birthday of Chicken in a Cherry Sauce. I am in Argentina so what better idea is there to make other than one of the most abundant foods in the country - empanadas (similar to Cornish pasties) with chicken in a cherry sauce?!

Chicken in a cherry sauce empanadas

It seems that cherries are extremely scarce in Buenos Aires. My boyfriend and I searched all over the city for something cherry. In all of the main supermarkets, there were no cherry jams or cherry preserves, no dried cherries… just nothing!

Chicken in a cherry sauce empanadas

After much time searching, we finally found a small jar of cherries in syrup in a tiny corner shop. These weren’t ideal for a savoury cherry dish, but at least they were cherries! I then realised that we needed some sort of jam to thicken the sauce. I adapted this cherry sauce recipe from Delia’s sour cherry sauce that she accompanies with roast duck (I made this a few years back and it was fabulous). Clever novio [boyfriend] found a jar of cherry preserve in another tiny store that his grandmother had recommended. Perfecto!

The inside of a chicken in a cherry sauce empanada

As I researched empanada recipes on the internet beforehand, I was shocked to find that almost all of the recipes used shop-bought empanada pastry discs. I’m pretty sure that England does not sell these, and I didn’t want to cheat. I was definitely going to make my own dough. I roughly followed this recipe by Laylita; however, I found the dough to be very tough and difficult to handle. I made another batch with a lot more water and the dough was perfect.

Chicken in a cherry sauce empanada

As I read in many empanada blog posts, they really are time consuming to make. But I also read that they are totally worth it – and they definitely were. I couldn’t live with myself knowing that I’d cheated with pre-made empanada discs!

This recipe makes 15 empanadas.

Empanada dough (modified from Laylita's recipe):

500g plain flour
150g butter
1 large egg
½ teaspoon salt
~250ml water
1 egg for glazing the empanadas

Chicken in a cherry sauce:

2 chicken breasts
10-15 cherries (preferably fresh, but jarred/tinned are sufficient)
½ bottle red wine
1 jar of cherry preserve or jam
1 teaspoon thyme


Empanada dough: Mix together the flour, salt and butter in a large bowl
using a spoon until a breadcrumb-like texture is formed. Mix in the egg and water to form a dough. Separate the dough into two balls. Wrap the dough balls in cling film and place in the fridge to rest for approximately 30 minutes.

Chicken in a cherry sauce: Bake the chicken breasts on a greased baking tray for 25 minutes at 200
°C. Slice the cherries in half. Add the wine, cherries, thyme and preserve/jam to a saucepan and simmer on a low heat for approximately 30 minutes, stirring occasionally until the wine has reduced and a thick sauce is achieved. Slice the chicken into small cubes and combine with the cherry sauce.

Filling the empanadas: Take the dough from the fridge and place on a lightly floured surface. Roll out the pastry
to a thickness of ~2mm using a lightly floured rolling pin. Use a round 10cm diameter pastry cutter or cut around a small plate to make the empanada discs.

Place a heaped tablespoon full of the filling into the centre of the disc. Brush the edges of the disc with a little egg to glue the edges together. Fold over the pastry to create a semi circle and press down the edges to seal the empanada.

Pinch the edge of the pastry with two fingers and fold over. Continue this action with the rest of the empanada. (It takes a couple of empanadas to get the hang of it! This short video shows the folding technique.) One may prefer to crimp the edges using a fork instead. Brush the empanadas with egg before placing on a greased baking tray and bake at 200
°C for 25 minutes, or, until they are golden brown.

Note: I ended up using a clean sock to brush the empanadas with the egg, as I didn't have a pastry brush. It worked very well!

Meat empandas

We decided to make some traditional meat empanadas, too.

Meat empanadas

Meat filling:

500g minced beef
3 hard boiled eggs chopped into pieces
1 large finely chopped onion
1 large chopped red pepper
50g raisins
50g sliced olives
2 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon each of oregano, rosemary and thyme (or whichever herbs you prefer!)

Meat filling: Fry the onions, meat and herbs in a saucepan with the oil until the meat is cooked through. Add the pepper and raisins and cook for a further 15 minutes on a low heat. After cooking, mix in the olives and eggs.

The folded edges of the meat empanadas

We both preferred the chicken and cherry sauce empanadas, yet still enjoyed the meat ones, too. The folding of the edges can be tedious, but I think they look just beautiful (even more so after baking). Practice makes perfect! They also provide a nice crunch in contrast to the rest of the empanada.

The inside of a meat empanada

Meat empanadas

Happy 2nd Birthday to Chicken in a Cherry Sauce!

Life has, indeed, become busier since the 1st birthday of Chicken in a Cherry Sauce and, as a result, it has been difficult to keep up with regular blog posts. Blogging has helped me a great deal with my professional, as well as my social (by all you fellow bloggers!) and indeed my life in the world of food. I absolutely adore blogging about food and I'm very much looking forward to another year of it. Thank you, so much, to all of my readers. Every comment about my blog, whether online or in person, always brings a huge smile to my face and a great deal of happiness! Thanks to all of the beautiful food blogs out there that have inspired me - I can honestly say that I spend more time on food blogs than any other site on the internet! Please continue your great support, it is truly appreciated.

Tuesday 3 April 2012

El Submarino

Dear readers,

I am back in the southern hemisphere experiencing pleasant autumnal sunshine, similar to that of a good day in the British summer.

Submarino is a popular beverage that appears on the menu of every café that sits on every corner of Buenos Aires. Submarino simply translates to English as "submarine". The simple name is perfect for such a beverage as it consists purely of hot milk and a piece of dark chocolate, which is sometimes shaped into a submarine. One submerges the chocolate into the hot milk and stirs as the chocolate melts and mixes with the milk to form an Argentine version of hot chocolate.

During my trip last December, I never sampled the Submarino due to the extreme heat and humidity. However, as the season has entered early autumn, the weather is becoming cooler. South of the capital, at a beach town called Pinamar, the windy coastline provides the perfect setting to sample this beverage.

Despite my love for dark chocolate, I was disappointed with this drink. I think that the name and the idea of creating the hot chocolate at the table are more interesting than the drink itself. Perhaps the milk wasn't hot enough to create a smooth consistency, or maybe there was too much milk for the small piece of chocolate. It was lost. The chocolate merely provided a grainy mouth-feel to the milk. I am surprised that such a simple drink, without the addition of sugar, is so abundant on the menus of a country with such a sweet tooth!

However much my palate prefers less-sweet desserts, I can't help but imagine that this drink would be better with the addition of a little something sweet, such as honey, sugar or even dulce de leche, or, maybe, all it needs is a little more chocolate...