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Flapjack and the complexities of the English language

Posted by on Oct 28, 2014 in Afternoon tea, Sweet treats | 0 comments

I feel that an apology is in order…

Over the past few months my husband and I have been jetting from one country to another in a whirlwind of weddings (not ours), Independence Referendums (well only one actually) holidays and family events. Adding to this I recently started a new job here in Milan. All this has meant that my precious cooking and blogging time has taken a hit. Sorry about that.

I intend to rectify this situation over the next few weeks, so be prepared for more British food-based musings and recipes shortly.

I have however, found a tiny bit of time to write a piece for the British Council on flapjack and the complexities of the English language. Included is a very simple recipe for my favourite flapjack. This sticky treat is simple to make and perfect for autumn, with wholesome oats smothered in rich butter and golden syrup.

Flapjack

 

 

Chocolate teacakes

Posted by on Aug 2, 2014 in Afternoon tea | 0 comments

This summer the sport never seems to end. This week all eyes in the UK are on the Commonwealth Games. In case you haven’t heard of it, the Commonwealth Games is like a mini Olympics for all the countries of the Commonwealth (i.e. the former British Empire).

This year the Commonwealth Games are taking place in Glasgow with 71 countries and territories taking part. The Games are showcasing Scotland to a global audience at an interesting time. There are less than two months to go until the Scottish independence referendum, where Scotland votes on whether to remain part of the United Kingdom or split away as an independent nation.

As an English person I have mixed feelings about Scottish independence. I can understand why many Scots want it, but I feel sad that we would not be united anymore. My husband is Scottish, and on this topic we don’t always see eye to eye.

But we both love Scotland, and have very much been enjoying these Commonwealth Games. So this week I decided to make a version of the famous Tunnock’s chocolate teacakes, which made an appearance at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony.

Tunnock’s teacakes are loved by our nation for many reasons. Their distinctive retro packaging and long history brings out the nostalgia in all of us. They are also a real indulgence, with light, sweet marshmallow sitting on crunchy shortbread, all covered in smooth rich chocolate.

Chocolate teacakes

I have never made teacakes using a silicone mould before, but my mother recently sent me one and so I decided to give it a whirl. If you don’t have a silicone mould then don’t worry. You can make the biscuits as below (but don’t cover in chocolate) then make the marshmallow and use a piping bag with a thick nozzle to pipe out the marshmallow onto the biscuits. Then melt all of the chocolate, leave to cool slightly and place the marshmallow-covered biscuits one at a time into the chocolate, covering them completely.

The recipe also includes Golden Syrup, which is a classic British sugar syrup. If you cannot get hold of this then you can make a simple Italian meringue.

I won’t lie to you, these teacakes do take some time to make and can get very messy, but the final results taste and look truly spectacular.

Ingredients

  • 300g dark or milk chocolate

for the biscuits

  • 60g flour type ‘00’
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • 30g butter
  • 30g caster sugar
  • 1 medium egg yolk
  • ½ tablespoon milk

for the marshmallow

  • 3 medium egg whites
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1 tablespoon golden syrup

Preparation method

  • Combine the flour, salt, baking powder and sugar in a bowl. Add the butter and rub the mixture together using the tips of your fingers until it resembles breadcrumbs.
  • Add the egg yolk and milk and work the mixture together with your hands to form a dough.
  • Turn out onto a floured surface and roll out. If you are using a silicone mould like mine then cut out 6 circles using a 7cm cutter. If you are using a different size mould then adjust accordingly.
  • Place on baking tray covered in baking paper and bake in the oven for 15 minutes until firm. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
  • Melt 200g of the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of boiling water, make sure not to overheat and burn it. Once melted, leave to cool a little.
  • Once the chocolate is a little thicker spoon approximately one tablespoon into each of the domes in the mould. Coat each dome completely, and then leave to set, checking periodically that the chocolate is still completely covering the sides of the dome.
  • Dip the biscuits into the remaining chocolate and cover completely. Place on baking paper and leave to set.
  • To make the marshmallow put all the ingredients into a heatproof bowl over a pan of boiling water and whisk using an electric mixer until the mixture turns thick and hold soft peaks. This may take several minutes. If it is not thick enough, just keep whisking. Then leave the mixture to cool.
  • Melt the rest of the chocolate.
  • Place the marshmallow into the chocolate-coated domes and fill up to the top. Then take a chocolate-covered biscuit and spread more melted chocolate onto one side, then place onto the dome, and leave to seal. Then leave them to set.
  • Once set gently turn out the domes from the silicone and they are ready to serve.

Recipe adapted from BBC food and tips from The Little Loaf.

Forget the football…

Posted by on Jun 25, 2014 in Afternoon tea | 0 comments

The British Council asked me to write a few words about British sport this month. It has not been easy, particularly following England’s early exit from the World Cup.

After yesterday, I advise you Italians and English, forget about the football and watch the tennis at Wimbledon instead. It’s much more civilised and has Pimms!

You can read the article on the British Council blog, and check out my Wimbledon-inspired recipe for Eton Mess with strawberries in cream.

Pimms