Friday, 19 June 2015

Fluffy Fudge Brownies


I'm pretty picky when it comes to brownies. Over the years I've had trouble finding a recipe I really like, one that ticks all the boxes for me. So I decided to experiment and have come up with my own! These brownies are soft, slightly cakey but still dense and fudgey. They are perfect for cutting into squares and don't fall apart when you eat them. Oh, and they're packed full of chocolate!


Fluffy Fudge Brownies
Recipe by Charis Mitchell
Makes 12

1 1/2C self raising flour (or plain flour + 2tsp baking powder)
1C sugar
1Tbsp, heaped cornstarch
1tsp baking soda
1tsp, heaped espresso powder
1/2tsp salt
1/3C dark cocoa powder
1/3C dark chocolate chips, melted
1/3C vegan butter spread, melted (or vegetable oil)
1 1/4C almond or soy milk
1C dark chocolate chips, divided

Preheat the oven to 150/325.
In a large mixing bowl combine the dry ingredients. Put 1 tablespoon of the dry ingredients mixture into a small bowl with 3/4C of the dark chocolate chips and mix to coat before setting aside.
Make a well in the middle of the dry mixture and pour in the melted dark chocolate chips, melted butter or vegetable oil and milk and mix with a whisk until the batter is very smooth. Fold in the chocolate chips that have been mixed with the tablespoon of dry mix and spread the mixture into a greased brownie pan or foil tray. Sprinkle over the remaining 1/4C of dark chocolate chips and bake for 20-25mins. When done the brownies should be crackled but firm on top, but still have a little bit of jiggle underneath when shaken. 

Leave the brownies to cool in the pan completely before cutting into 12 squares. To keep the brownies deliciously moist I wrap them individually in cling film and keep them in an airtight container in the fridge. They last about a week.


Thursday, 18 June 2015

Matcha & Chocolate Macaron Millefeuilles


Lately I've been experimenting with different shapes of macarons, and I loved the idea of making a beautiful dessert macaron like you would find in a French patisserie. I wasn't sure how the feet would turn out as I've only ever piped plain round shaped ones, but I was so happy to find that the long piping worked perfectly and each had a perfect pied all the way around!

You can of course just make regular round macarons using this recipe, the combination of the matcha green tea and the chocolate cream is to die for!


Matcha & Chocolate Macaron Millefeuilles
Recipe by Charis Mitchell
Makes 10 millefeuille or 20 round macarons

3/4C aquafaba (water drained from a can of chickpeas)
1/2C granulated sugar
1C ground almonds
1/2C powdered sugar
1Tbsp matcha powder
1tsp vanilla extract

3Tbsp vegan butter spread
3C powdered sugar
1/4C cocoa powder
4Tbsp almond or soy milk
Pinch of salt

Raspberries to decorate (optional)

First make the macaron shells
Pour the aquafaba into a small saucepan, allow to simmer over a medium heat until it has reduced to 1/3C (80ml). This usually takes around 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to cool for 10 minutes.

Pour the reduced chickpea water into the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a balloon whisk attachment and whisk on medium to high speed until soft peaks form. Add half the sugar and the vanilla and whisk until well combined, then add the remaining sugar and whisk at high speed until the meringue is glossy and thick - it should be the consistency of thick marshmallow fluff. Set aside while you prepare your dry ingredients.

Pulse the ground almonds a few times in a food processor until finely ground. Add the powdered sugar and the matcha powder and process for a few seconds, until well combined.
Sieve the almond-sugar mixture and discard any large pieces. Pour half the dry mixture into the meringue and use a spatula to mix the ingredients together, pressing the dry ingredients down into the meringue until everything is incorporated well. Add the remaining dry mixture and fold into the batter. 

Now it's time for a crucial step - the macaronnage. Firmly press the batter against the side of the bowl and then scoop it up and turn over. Repeat this process a further 19 times. After macaronnage the batter should be thick and glossy but should fall slowly off the spatula like a ribbon and then settle/spread slightly in the bowl. Spoon the batter into a large piping bag and seal at the top.

Line two large baking trays with grease proof paper and carefully pipe 12 even lines of batter onto each, in one smooth motion holding the piping bag directly above the tray as you pipe. Drop the baking sheets twice onto a hard surface (this helps to get rid of air bubbles and develops the 'pied') 

Leave the macarons to dry at room temperature for 2-3 hours. Once ready to bake, place the first baking tray into a COLD oven, and then immediately set the oven to just under 100 degrees Celcius. Bake the macarons for 20 minutes (some ovens you may have to bake for longer but don't bake for more than 30 minutes) you can check that the macarons are sufficiently baked by gently lifting up a corner of the grease proof paper and lightly peeling it from a macaron shell. If it comes off easily and the macaron doesn't stick then you can turn your oven off!
Turn off your oven and leave the macarons inside with the door shut for 15 minutes, then open the door and leave them to cool inside the oven for a further 15 minutes before removing and allowing to cool completely on the baking tray at room temperature.
Once the oven is COMPLETELY COLD you can repeat the baking process with your second tray of macaron shells. Once the shells are cooled, gently peel them from the baking paper and place them on a tray or rack, ready to fill.

Make the cream
Cream together the butter spread, cocoa powder and half the powdered sugar until smooth. Add the rest of the powdered sugar and salt, and as much milk as needed until the cream is thick but a nice soft consistency. Spoon the cream into a piping bag and seal at the top.

Assemble
Pipe blobs of the cream along each base macaron shell and then sandwich together with the top shells. If desired you can also pipe a few blobs on top (using a floral tip on the piping bag) and place raspberries on top.

Place the macarons in the fridge for 24 hours or overnight before eating (this allows the flavors to develop and gives the desired chew) 
Macarons keep well in an airtight container in the fridge for a week and in the freezer for months.

Friday, 12 June 2015

Lemon-Elderflower Layer Cake


I love making layer cakes! They're so fun to stack up and decorate, and I always enjoy the challenge of a tall cake! I recently whipped up this Lemon-Elderflower Layer Cake for afternoon tea with family, and it was really delicious!

Three moist sponges infused with lemon and elderflower are stacked together with a delicate elderflower frosting and drizzled with lemon-curd sauce before the cake is finished with a tangy lemon icing. The perfect summer cake!


Lemon-Elderflower Cake
Recipe by Charis Mitchell
Serves 12-18

For the sponges
3C self raising flour (or plain flour + 2tsp baking powder)
2C sugar
2tsp baking soda
1/4tsp salt
2/3C vegetable oil
2 + 1/3C dairy free milk
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1Tbsp elderflower cordial/syrup

For the frosting
5Tbsp vegan butter spread/margarine
3 1/2C powdered sugar
1Tbsp elderflower cordial/syrup
2Tbsp dairy free milk

For the lemon curd sauce
1C sugar
1/2C lemon juice
1/4C almond or soy milk
4Tbsp (heaped) cornstarch
6tsp water
4tsp (heaped) vegan butter spread

For the lemon icing
2C powdered sugar
Juice and zest of one lemon

Make the sponges
Preheat the oven to 150/325 and grease and line three circular cake tins.
In a large mixing bowl whisk together the dry ingredients. Make a well in the center and add the wet ingredients and the lemon zest and whisk until the mixture is smooth and thick.
Pour equal amounts into the three pans and smack them each on the counter a couple of times to pop any excess air bubbles that have formed. Bake for 20-25mins, or until a knife inserted into the middle of one of the cakes comes out clean.
Remove the cakes from the pans and transfer to wire racks to cool completely while you prepare the other elements.

Make the lemon sauce
In a small saucepan over a medium heat whisk stir together the lemon juice and sugar until the sugar has completely dissolved. Add the milk and stir. Mix the cornflour and water together until they form a smooth liquid and pour it into the pan. Whisk vigorously while over the heat and allow the sauce to thicken up nicely. Once thickened, remove from the heat and leave to cool for 5 minutes before stirring in the vegan butter spread.
Pour the sauce into a jar and pop into the fridge to cool before using.

Make the frosting
Cream together the vegan butter spread and sugar. Add the elderflower cordial and as much milk as is needed to form a thick but pipeable frosting. Scoop 1/3 of the frosting into a piping bag and seal at the top.

Make the lemon icing
In a small mixing bowl combine the powdered sugar, lemon zest and juice and mix well until you have a thick, tangy icing.

Assemble!
Place your first cake layer onto a cake plate or stand. Pipe an even circle of frosting around the edge of the cake, then use half of the leftover frosting (not in the piping bag) to fill the circle. (You don't have to do the piping, but I find it gives a nice finish to the cake) Spread some of the lemon sauce on top of the frosting layer and top with the second sponge cake. Repeat this frosting and sauce process with the next layer and top with the final sponge cake. Top with the lemon icing and decorate with whatever you like! (I used some flowers, little pearl sprinkles and some strips of lemon zest.

The cake lasts about a week in the fridge.

Monday, 1 June 2015

Vanilla Chai Macarons with Vanilla Bean Cream


I absolutely love chai spiced tea, its probably my favorite kind of tea ever! And I love the combination of chai spices and vanilla that come together in these macarons to deliver a sweet, spiced treat. 

I experimented this time with infusing the aquafaba to give a richer flavor and it worked really well! I'm excited thinking of the prospect of other infused macarons! Lavender, basil, teas - the possibilities are endless!

Watch my step-by-step vegan macaron video here!


*NOTE: I used slightly less ground almonds this time to see if I could achieve a smoother macaron shell, this did work really well - however if you have difficulty getting your meringue as thick as marshmallow fluff I would still use 1 and 1/4C ground almonds, or else the batter won't be thick enough for the macarons to hold their shape.

Vanilla Chai Macarons with Vanilla Bean Cream
Recipe by Charis Mitchell
Makes 15 

For the macarons
3/4C aquafaba (180ml)
1 chai tea bag
1/2C sugar (100g)
1/4tsp brown food coloring (optional)
1C ground almonds* (100g)
1/2C powdered sugar (65g)
1 chai tea bag, contents finely ground

For the vanilla bean cream
2Tbsp vegan butter spread
3C powdered sugar (375g)
4-6Tbsp almond or soy milk
Seeds scraped from 1/2 a vanilla pod

First make the macaron shells
Pour the aquafaba into a small saucepan, add the chai tea bag and allow to simmer over a medium heat until it has reduced to 1/3C (80ml) and the mixture is brown from the tea infusion. This usually takes around 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, discard the tea bag and leave to cool for 10 minutes.

Pour the reduced chickpea water into the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a balloon whisk attachment and whisk on medium to high speed until soft peaks form. Add half the sugar and whisk until well combined, then add the remaining sugar and the brown coloring (if using) and whisk at high speed until the meringue is glossy and thick - it should be the consistency of thick marshmallow fluff. Set aside while you prepare your dry ingredients.

Pulse the ground almonds a few times in a food processor until very finely ground. Add the powdered sugar and the chai tea and process for a few seconds, until well combined.
Sieve the almond-sugar mixture and discard any large pieces. Pour half the dry mixture into the meringue and use a spatula to mix the ingredients together, pressing the dry ingredients down into the meringue until everything is incorporated well. Add the remaining dry mixture and fold into the batter. 

Now it's time for a crucial step - the macaronnage. Firmly press the batter against the side of the bowl and then scoop it up and turn over. Repeat this process a further 19 times. After macaronnage the batter should be thick and glossy but should fall slowly off the spatula like a ribbon and then settle/spread slightly in the bowl. Spoon the batter into a large piping bag and seal at the top.

Line two large baking trays with grease proof paper and carefully pipe 15 circles onto each, in one smooth motion holding the piping bag directly above the center of each macaron. Drop the baking sheets twice onto a hard surface (this helps to get rid of air bubbles and develops the 'pied') 

Leave the macarons to dry at room temperature for 2-3 hours. Once ready to bake, place the first baking tray into a COLD oven, and then immediately set the oven to just under 100 degrees Celcius. Bake the macarons for 20 minutes (some ovens you may have to bake for longer but don't bake for more than 30 minutes) you can check that the macarons are sufficiently baked by gently lifting up a corner of the grease proof paper and lightly peeling it from a macaron shell. If it comes off easily and the macaron doesn't stick then you can turn your oven off!
Turn off your oven and leave the macarons inside with the door shut for 15 minutes, then open the door and leave them to cool inside the oven for a further 15 minutes before removing and allowing to cool completely on the baking tray at room temperature.
Once the oven is COMPLETELY COLD you can repeat the baking process with your second tray of macaron shells. Once the shells are cooled, gently peel them from the baking paper and place them on a tray or rack, ready to fill.

Make the cream
Cream together the butter spread, vanilla seeds and half the powdered sugar until smooth. Add the rest of the powdered sugar and as much milk as needed until the cream is thick but a nice soft consistency. Spoon the cream into a piping bag and seal at the top.

Assemble
Pipe a generous blob of cream onto each base macaron shell and then sandwich together with the top shells.

Place the macarons in the fridge for 24 hours or overnight before eating (this allows the flavors to develop and gives the desired chew) 
Macarons keep well in an airtight container in the fridge for a week and in the freezer for months.