Posts tagged Nigella Lawson
Posts tagged Nigella Lawson
Christmas has come and gone as quickly as it does every year and I’m now looking forlornly at the empty space where just days ago there was a pile of wrapped gifts, and at the ample and delicious Christmas day food that now only exists inside my digital camera (and perhaps my thighs).
This year was considerably different to previous Christmases for as far back as I can remember, in the sense that I didn’t get to do the traditional yearly get together with family. Instead, a bunch of us Kiwis (and one Argentinian) that are currently residing in London set off together for what we’ll call an Orphan’s Christmas in a quaint seaside town up North. We were lucky enough to be offered a beautiful, big house (previously known as The Ship Inn) right on the coast of Wells-Next-The-Sea in Norfolk. And after just two hours of trains, tubes and mini-vans we were there for four whole days.
So while our families were sunbathing, swimming, playing cricket and enjoying outdoor Kiwi barbecues in the Southern Hemisphere we were huddled around the fire with mulled wine, puzzles, Scrabble and plenty of comfort food for our very first “White Christmas”.
We divvied up the food duties and I was half responsible for dessert which suited me fine. In the theme of trying new things this Christmas I went with a recipe for Chocolate Cheesecake; something I hadn’t made before as I usually prefer fruit versions. Having watched some of Anne Thornton’s Dessert First TV show recently I decided to use her recipe for “Deepest Darkest Chocolate Cheesecake”. However, I did use my own base recipe (which can be found here) as I prefer a thick, crunchy cheesecake base. It was very, very chocolaty and rich - something I wouldn’t usually complain about - but I do love the taste of cream cheese that usually shines through in most traditional baked cheesecake recipes, and in this one I felt that was lacking. When I make it again I’ll experiment with the ratios of chocolate and cream cheese, and as it was quite dry I’ll perhaps add a cup of sour cream to the mix.
Also on dessert duty was Melina and between us we made sure the spread was plentiful. Melina brought to the table (pun intended) a traditional Argentinian dessert of baked shortcake tarts made with Dulche de Leche. And, oh man, it was so so good! She also had a couple of boxes of Havanna Alfajores to share around; a soft, cakey biscuit that I can’t quite describe and they were just as delicious (I actually managed to weasel a few more out of her for the trip home). They’re like nothing I’ve tried before and definitely something everyone should try at least once in their lifetime. I’ve had a look online and it seems like you can order them internationally from Amigo Foods. Go on, dooooo it!
And because it’s the festive season; I love baking; I love to feed people; and I felt we needed more calorie-laden treats to get us through the days surrounding Christmas I also made Nigella’s Black Beer Gingerbread (recipe at the bottom of this post) and Pioneer Woman’s Cinamon Rolls. The gingerbread was a massive favourite (I even caught a few people sneaking pieces first thing in the morning) and as Nigella described, it was “like Christmas in a bowl”. Just like her Guinness Chocolate Cake it was very rich and very moist. I definitely recommend this for the next time you’re looking to make something to share at a morning/afternoon tea or picnic lunch. In comparison, the cinamon buns weren’t so great and I won’t bother making them again - I can think of much better ways to fill up my daily calorie quota.
To all ATK readers - a very Merry Christmas, Feliz Navidad, Merry Secular Holiday… Regardless of your background or deity, I hope you all had fantastic Christmases and I wish each of you a happy and healthy 2012.
Nigella’s Black Beer Gingerbread
300g golden syrup
200g dark muscavado sugar
2tsp grounder ginger
2tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
300g plain flour
2tsp bicarbonate of soda
300ml sour cream
2 large eggs
Preheat oven to 170c.
Put the butter, syrup, muscavado sugar, Guinness, ginger, cinnamon and ground cloves into a pam and melt gently over a low heat.
Take off the heat and whisk in the flour and bicarb. You will need to be patient and whisk thoroughly to get rid of any lumps.
Whisk the sour cream and eggs together in a measuring jug and then beat into the gingerbread mixture, whisking again to get a smooth batter.
Pour this into a lined rectangle tin, or into a barbecue-type foil tray, and bake for about 45 minutes; when it’s ready it will be risen at the centre, and coming away from the tin at the sides.
Let the gingerbread cool before cutting into slices or squares.
When I discovered a recipe for Guinness cake it set the theme for what I would create for my friend’s 30th birthday - mini Guinness pints in the form of cupcakes. He’s a massive fan of both Guinness and chocolate… so it was quite fitting really.
I’m a kiwi, Benji’s a kiwi, and as kiwis are guilty of doing over here, we often find ourselves congregating with other kiwis. So, we congregated together to celebrate Benji’s 30th birthday the best way that we touristy folk know how: by exploring London’s history and drinking beer.
Benji had organised a crawl of London’s oldest pubs for the night and we started at The Lamb and Flag; the oldest pub in Covent Garden that was first licensed in 1623. From there we moved onto the Seven Stars in Chancery Lane and then Ye Olde Mitre in Ely Court. There were more after that, but my memory grew hazier as the night went on (can’t think why…!) and it was round about here that I got tired of carting around a box full of cupcakes, so we decided to demolish them.
After a few pints of the real Guinness the cupcakes were definitely a hit, and they gave us a good rush of sugar to help restore our energy levels for more crawling between pubs.
But, beer goggles aside, the cupcakes really were delicious. The original recipe came from Nigella Lawson (thou wilt do us no wrong), which she used for one large cake, but it worked just as well when split into cupcake tins too.
Don’t be afraid of embracing the Guinness either, you can’t really taste it - it just adds a depth of richness and moisture.
To create the “Guinness” cupcake look I evened out two cupcakes by slicing off their tops, and stuck ‘em together with a layer of buttercream icing and then simply wrapped them in black craft paper. I created the four leaf clovers by hand-drawing them onto baking paper with a piping bag full of melted white choc and food colouring - no mean feat, but by all means give it a go.
I frosted my cupcakes with the same butter frosting I used in my last cupcake post, (you can find that recipe here) and then topped them with dark chocolate sprinkles (you could also use grated dark choc) and created the darker icing colour by adding Guinness.
Preheat oven to 350; line your cupcake tin.
Melt the butter in the microwave and stir in the Guinness. Whisk in the cocoa and sugar.
In a bowl, whisk the sour cream with the eggs and vanilla, then add to the beer mixture.
Sift together the flour and baking soda, and fold into the batter.
Pour into muffin molds and bake for 20 minutes, or until inserted cake tester comes out clean. Let stand 10 minutes, remove from muffin tin, and cool completely on a rack.