Monthly Archives: February 2017

Orange and Strawberry Cupcakes with Toasted Meringue Cloud Topping

OK, so I should tell you from the outset that in the original recipe, the ingredients included zest of lemon and lemon curd; however in my cupboard there was only orange curd so the recipe was adjusted to accommodate. And I must say, these little darlings are absolutely delightful – light fluffy sponges topped with the zesty orange curd and a cloud of sweet meringue – heavenly!

Makes 12

What you need…

1 x 12-hole muffin tin, lined with paper cases

1 x icing bag and large nozzle(optional)

1 x chef’s blow torch (optional)

100g butter, chunked

150g self-raising flour

150g caster sugar

3 tablespoons milk

2 happy eggs

Zest of 1 orange, finely grated

7g freeze-dried strawberries (available from all major supermarkets)

for the meringue topping

100g-ish orange curd (roughly half a standard jar)

2 happy egg whites

100g caster sugar

What to do…

Preheat your oven to 180°c / 350°f / gas 4.

To the sponges: tip all the ingredients except the freeze-dried strawberries into your food processor and whizz until light and fluffy. Fold in three-quarters of the strawberries and then divide the mixture evenly between the 12 cupcake cases. Pop them into the oven and bake for 20 minutes, until risen, springy and golden.

Remove from the oven and decant from the muffin tin onto a wire rack to cool.

When cold, using a sharp little knife to cut out a circle off the top, roughly the size of a £2 coin from each cake, scooping out a walnut-size piece of sponge to leave a hole. Use a teaspoon to fill each hole with the orange curd – right to the top of the cake.

Use a handheld electric whisk to beat the egg whites until they are stiff, then gradually add the sugar, whisking the whole time, to create a lovely stiff, glossy meringue.

Either use a spoon to plop the meringue on the top of each cake or gently spoon the mixture into an icing bag and pipe the meringue on the top in as creative and majestic a structure as you fancy. Again, a choice: either take a chef’s blow torch to them, toasting the meringue so that it has lovely golden crispy edges or pop them under the grill to achieve the same affect – don’t walk off – they only take a minute! Sprinkle with the remaining freeze-dried strawberry morsels and serve – a heavenly delight!

Tips…

If you want to try the original recipe, swap the zest of 1 orange for the zest of 1 lemon and replace orange curd with lemon curd.

Haven’t tried it yet, but I did wonder about adding chocolate chip cookies to the sponge rather than the fruit zest and replacing the orange curd with chocolate spread and tipping chocolate sprinkles over the meringue – will do this the next time the grandkids are up and let you know!

Inspired by…

Mary Berry

How easy…

Really very easy and I love that you can make the sponges in advance, finishing them off with their glorious meringue topping just before you want to eat them.

 

 

White Chocolate Mousse with Black Pepper and Fresh Mint

I’m not normally a fan of white chocolate but this recipe intrigued me – a dessert with black pepper? What a fabulous surprise it was! It’s spectacularly simple and fast to make: within 20 minutes, you have a truly fantastic dessert: the rich creaminess of the white chocolate is perfectly contrasted by the black pepper and the fresh mint – honestly I just had to keep digging in to marvel at the simplicity and deliciousness of this great and rather elegant dessert! Don’t hesitate – give it a go!

Serves 6

What you need…

280g good quality white chocolate, chunked

300ml double cream

1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

12 fresh mint leaves (6 finely sliced and 6 reserved for decoration)

What to do…

Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl in a steamer over a pan of simmering water to melt (for some reason it takes waaaay longer than milk or dark chocolate but it WILL melt). Once melted, stand the bowl on a cold surface to cool down slightly (I stuck mine in the metal sink).

Using a handheld electric whisk, beat the cream until it forms soft peaks.

Put 2 tablespoons of the cream into the melted chocolate and use the whisk to gently beat them together. Use a spatula to scrape every last bit of the melted chocolate/cream mixture into the remaining double cream together with the pepper and mint and then, using a balloon whisk, very gently fold in the ingredients so they are thoroughly mixed together.

Spoon the mixture into 6 pretty glasses (tall Champagne flutes are particularly elegant but you need long handled spoons to go with them!).

Pop in the fridge for just 20 minutes or overnight if you’re preparing ahead. Just before serving, decorate with the remaining mint leaves. Serve to a dubious group whose faces will light up with joy! Gorgeous!

Inspired by…

Gino D’Acampo

How easy…

Couldn’t be any easier and you can prepare ahead!