Paul A Young’s Sea-Salted Chocolate and Pecan Tart Recipe Review

Paul A Young sea-salted chocolate and pecan tartI was leafing through Paul A Young‘s Adventures with Chocolate recipe book and decided I HAD to bake this dark chocolate sea-salted and pecan tart (recipe online here)! The photo was just too irresistible! I made this for a week day dinner party last week but it did require baking it over two days so I’d recommend considering it for a weekend dinner party. The pastry is easy to create and using a food processor makes it super easy. I used medium yolks. I left it in the fridge for over an hour then rolled it out and left about a couple of inches spare so that the pasty overhung my dish and then cut off a bit of the excess. Next up another rest in the fridge for 15mins. I actually think it might be worth resting it for half an hour as I found my pastry did shrink a bit in the oven.

chocolate pastryI cooked the pastry at 160 degrees in a fan oven which was defo the right temperature for my oven atleast. I baked it for the full 20mins then another 8 mins and let it cool overnight. The next day I made the filling and popped it in the fridge before the dinner guests arrived. Now time to make the topping. Pour 100g of caster sugar in a small saucepan on a medium heat. Then don’t touch it. I know it sounds bonkers how can dry sugar turn liquid but it’s like magic! Keep that spoon far away from this sugar! Literally don’t touch it. Very slowly you’ll see the edges of the sugar start to liquefy and change colour. Give the pan a little shake to encourage the non-melted sugar to merge with the liquid bits. Very slowly you’ll start to get a nice golden brown caramel emerge. This Guardian article gives some nice tips on how to make different types of caramel.

chocolate and pecan tartThen pour it over halved pecans. It forms a lovely gooey caramel and quickly hardens. These are fab to sprinkle over the choc filling and it gives it a lovely crunch and texture and breaks up the monotony of the dark choc colour. Place on a big cake plate and watch your dinner guests’ eyes fill with glee! It serves 8 people as it’s very rich but boy was this a wonderful dessert!

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Jamie Oliver New Year Nuts

Festive nuts

Nuts! It’s the first day back to work. Well what better way to keep hold of that festive mood than to make some festive nuts. I gave these away as pressies for Christmas but they’re equally lovely as New Year treats or to chomp through during Dry January. This is a Jamie Oliver Honey-Roasted Nuts recipe which went well. I bought most of the nuts from Asda and a few from Sainsburys and I bought Kilner Jars from Robert Dyas (350ml ones). I doubled the recipe to make four jars. The nuts I used were pecans (they burn more easily than the others so keep stirring the nuts at regular points), unsalted cashews, peanuts, walnuts, brazil nuts (cut up in to halves), and almonds etc. 20mins was plenty of time in the oven. I used twice as much smoked paprika and it turned out really tasty. Jamie says use sweet smoked paprika but I couldn’t find anything saying ‘sweet’ on the label. Other tips? Personalise with this NotontheHighStreet ‘baked with love’ label maker and some festive ribbon. Nom nom nom.

Photo story: Squires Baking Exhibition – part 1 – wedding cakes

A couple of weeks ago I went to the Squires Baking exhibition in Farnham with @MissV1ss and we had a fabulous time wandering round seeing beautiful wedding cakes, cake competition entries and watching demonstrations like macaroon making by Mark Tilling. The pics speak for themselves so check out the wedding cakes below. There will be more tips and photo stories to come from the exhibition so watch this space! We also purchased a load of goodies from the Squires shop up the road from the exhibition.

hearts and love wedding cake by The Pretty Cake Company, photo by Naomi Longworth

Wedding cake with purple background and white petals - photo by Naomi Longworth

Second anniversary of the Cake takes the biscuit blog

ImageTo mark the second anniversary of the Cake takes the biscuit blog, I decided it was time to give it a makeover. Having set out on a journey to tweak recipes and review cupcakes and cafes, my mission hasn’t changed, I’ve just added in a few extras like reviewing afternoon teas and photo stories with fantastic images from the likes of Jonathan Pollock. I have met some great people along the way writing the blog and I hope it continues!

My illustrator and designer friend Mary Kilvert very kindly offered to design my new logo and background. I hope you like them – I certainly do! I have also given the blog a fresh look with a new layout. Hopefully this is more appealing with the content categorised by theme. If you like Mary’s work, she will be exhibiting at the Country Living Magazine Spring Fair on stand M69 on 21-25 March. Mary will be launching her new Spring Lambs, woolly eggs and colourful sheep egg cups at the show. If you can’t catch her at the show, Mary’s lovely products can be found on her website.

Mary Kilvert, colourful sheep

Vanilla Birthday Cake shower gel

I caught up with a friend last night and we exchanged belated birthday presents! Although this was 9 months later than my birthday it was well worth waiting for as it’s shampoo, shower gel and bath creme all in one – and it smells deliciously sweet of vanilla sponge cake! You can buy it from John Lewis and there are other great smells from Philosophy such as raspberry sorbet and melon daiquiri!

Gareth James Chocolatier – one year on…

Today I visited Gareth James Chocolatier shop in Tynemouth and it was a timely visit as it will be their one year anniversary later this month. Since I last visited, the shop has widened its range with chocolate pearls, sea salted caramel squares and their new 60% chocolate and orange bars. They are also doing more coffees and teas and it was lovely to sit outside for a mid morning coffee in the sunshine. The staff were friendly and efficient and admitted whenever they do tastings, they can’t help but eat the chocolate themselves! I don’t blame them. My next stop was the beach and I thought it would be fun to photograph the chocolates with the complementary sand colour.

 

The chocs in a box were delicious and I loved the sea salted caramel one and the hazlenut praline whilst my boyfriend enjoyed the champagne, orange blossom and classic ones. The brownie was lovely and gooey although perhaps needed a little more structure and the dark choc and orange bar was really delicious and the taste was lingering in your mouth so you hardly needed to eat any. If you’re in Newcastle, it’s worth the metro ride out to Tynemouth for the beach and chocs!

Celebrating one year of Cake takes the biscuit!

James Martin recipeToday is a special day, as it’s the first anniversary of the Cake takes the biscuit blog. It’s been a fabulous culinary journey so far and I intend to keep it up! I thought a Valentine’s theme post would be particularly appropriate, especially since I did promise to let you know what I would bake. First of all I made a beef and ale pie with this James Martin recipe. It’s a great one to get simmering away on a Sunday in winter and then just finish off on a week night with the puff pastry and add into the oven for 25mins. I added a heart in pastry to make this Valentine themed. It was very tasty and I’d definitely cook it again. My boyfriend did have two helpings so that was a good sign.

Hummingbird Bakery vanilla cupcakes with vanilla icing and heart shaped chocolates
For pudding, clearly the most important part of the meal, I baked vanilla Hummingbird cupcakes in heart shaped baking cases. I also used homemade vanilla essence which was a present from my sister-in-law at Christmas. Add two good quality vanilla pods to sterilised jars and fill with decent vodka, shake and wait. It needs 4-6 weeks to mature so this week was great timing to use it. I then decorated the cupcakes with vanilla icing and little hearts wrapped in pink and red foil from M&S. I made these in fairy cake cases rather than bigger cupcake cases. Nonetheless my boyfriend tucked into four of them! And my housemates polished off the rest with me tonight and they went down a treat. All in all, a success and a great way to start the second year of Cake takes the biscuit!

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