Category Archives: Sweets

Chai Latte Marshmallows

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At this time of year there is one thing that distinguishes those who cycle to college from those who take the bus. A badge that sets us apart, war wounds from a battle against external forces:

The wet thigh.

Don’t pretend you understand, bus-takers. Try to imagine a large oval, a shade darker than your trousers, appearing mid-thigh whilst cycling in the rain, refusing to disappear till at least period 2. Real fun. Or not…

Cyclists, you know who you are; you who leaned into that icy wind, took sleet to the face, arrived with eye make-up even pandas would be proud of and… a wet thigh. Compulsory damp, cold legs for the rest of the day: The mark of a true trouper.

These marshmallows are for you. Let the warm spices of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cardamom and clove warm your cockles and wrap yourself in a cloud of icing sugar and pillowy marshmallow till the trials of the day have passed.  Put them in your hot chocolate. Make radiator s’mores*. Toast them over a camp fire in the middle of the woods if you really want. Or just sit under a blanket in front of Come Dine With Me with the mixing bowl and a spoon and feel a little bit sorry for yourself. I give you my full permission, you deserve it.

*This invention is owed to the sister – my main gal. Take 2 of your favourite biscuits (I highly recommend the dark chocolate Hobnob),  place a marshmallow and 2 squares of chocolate in between, making a sandwich. Wrap tightly in tinfoil and wedge in/on/down the radiator for about ½ an hour. Uncover and eat quickly before your sister can get her hands on it.

Note to self: Waterproof trousers might not be such a bad idea.

Chai Latte Marshmallows
makes 36; adapted from Smitten Kitchen

For the icing sugar dusting
65g icing sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground ginger
¼ tsp. grated nutmeg
1 tbsp. vegetable oil

For the marshmallows
1 tbsp. + 1¼ tsp. powdered gelatine
100ml cold water
230g caster sugar
80g glucose syrup
½ tsp. salt
1 large egg white
1 tsp. vanilla extract mixed with 15ml water
2 cloves
3 cardamom pods
¾ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground ginger
¼ tsp. grated nutmeg

Sugar thermometer
Pestle and mortar

Line the bottom of a 20 x 20 x 5cm baking tin with baking paper. Using a piece of kitchen towel, grease the baking paper and sides of the tin with the vegetable oil.

Make the icing sugar dusting by mixing the icing sugar and  spices in a small bowl and transfer about 1 tbsp.  of the mix to the tin, tapping it around till the sides and base are covered. Tip any remaining icing sugar back into the bowl.

In a large bowl sprinkle the gelatine over 50ml of cold water and leave to stand.
Place the caster sugar, glucose syrup, salt and the other 50ml of water into a heavy bottomed saucepan and place over a low heat, stirring until the sugar’s dissolved. Once dissolved increase the heat to moderate and boil the mixture, not stirring, until the sugar thermometer reaches 240°F/Soft ball stage. Remove the pan from the heat and pour the hot sugar over the gelatine, stirring until the gelatine’s dissolved.
Using an electric mixer beat the mix on high speed until it becomes thick and white and has almost tripled in volume. This will take about 12 minutes if using a hand-held mixer.

Take the marshmallow spices and using a pestle and mortar crush them down as finely as you can manage. Place this chunky powder, the vanilla extract and water into a small saucepan and simmer for a minute or so. In a clean bowl, whisk the egg white till it forms stiff peaks. Sieve the spice mixture (draining out any large pieces of spice) into the sugar mixture along with the egg whites and beat until just combined. Pour the mallow into your dusted baking tin and sift some of the icing sugar mixture over the top. Chill the marshmallow, uncovered, for at least 3 hours.

Run a knife around the tin’s edges and turn the pan upside down onto a large cutting board dusted with a little more of your icing sugar mix. Loosen the mallow with your fingers and onto the board, and peel the baking paper off. Using a large knife trim the edges of the marshmallows and cut into 3cm cubes. Sift the remaining icing sugar into the empty baking tin and roll your cubes of mallow through it, covering all 6 sides before shaking off any excess. Keep in a sealed container for up to a week.

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Homemade candied peel

I sometimes have domestic goddess impulses. The kind where I put on a floral pinny and some pearl earrings, turn on some Tim Hughes, and make cheese scones. Please tell me I’m not alone. Tell me you also pretend to be Nigella Lawson as you eat leftovers out of the fridge at midnight. Or pretentiously walk around the market, picking up fruit and herbs to smell them before deciding Sainsbury’s oranges were cheaper.

This homemade orange peel was a product of one of those urges.

‘Why would you make your own when you can buy it with far less effort?’ I hear you cry. Let me tell you:
1. Because you’re a fabulous domestic goddess who not only makes her own nougat but makes the peel to go in it. Oh yeah.
2. If you didn’t, you’d miss out on the A-mazing summery orangey scents that fill your house as you boil the peel for the first, second… and third time. You’re not only getting candied peel, but an all-day air freshener.
3. Most importantly, it’s SO much better than the bought stuff. This candied peel has a far fresher, fruitier, zingier flavour. Trust me. It’s a totally different ball game.

We’re going to top and tail the oranges and score the peel into quarters.

Peel the skin off, including the pith (the white bit just under the zest)

Cut the peel into ½ cm wide strips.

Place the peel into a pan and cover with cold water. Then place the pan on a high heat and bring to the boil. Once boiling, drain the peel from the orangey water and repeat this process twice more. Tip: Don’t try to drink the orange water; you’ll think it’ll be nice. You’ll be mistaken. It’s not.

Pour water and sugar into a pan and simmer to create a syrup, adding the peel and candying to perfection.

Go on, give in to your domestic goddess calling. You know you want to.

Homemade candied orange peel
2 large oranges – I used Valencia
110g caster sugar
125ml water

Rinse your oranges, cut the top and bottom off each one and score the skin into quarters. Using your fingers remove the skin from the oranges and cut into ½ cm wide strips.

Place the peel strips into a saucepan and add enough cold water to cover them. Place on the stove over a high heat until boiling. Drain the peel from the water and repeat this process twice more.

Pour the 125ml water and sugar into a saucepan and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 9 minutes. Add the peel into the syrup and cook for 45 minutes-1 hour. Keep checking it to ensure it’s not boiling violently and adjust the temperature accordingly. Also avoid stirring the peels, instead swirling the pan around to coat those peels not covered. Once cooked, the peels should appear translucent.

Drain any remaining syrup from the peels. There shouldn’t be too much left but this orangey syrup can be a tasty addition to tea or gingerbread. Lay the peels out on a cooling rack and leave to dry for 4-5 hours. Store in an airtight container.

Dark chocolate, toasted almond and tangy orange nougat

I have a sad truth to tell you. I haven’t baked in 5 weeks. Say what?! 5 whole, long weeks out of my beloved kitchen. I know, it pains me. I’m getting withdrawal symptoms.

The only thing that’s made this absence slightly sweeter is the crazy fun adventures that have got between me and the flour. They include 2 patisseries crawls, 100 patisserie shop windows, 10 plays, caper berries (try them, they’re so great), 2 weeks with God and thousands of amazing people in a field , tiramisu ice-cream, Hunt and Darton café , Angelina’s, watermelon Tic-tacs and the leaning tower of Pisa. All this travelling and time to think has also inspired many new and exciting recipe concepts for you. Watch out, recipe #1’s coming at ya.

Think nougat. Now scrap that pink and white striped, semi-hard, cellophane-wrapped candy you had as a kid and refocus your thoughts on soft, chewy, mallowy nougat studded with dark chocolate, toasted almonds and homemade candied orange peel. Better thought? I think so.

Adding honey to the mix makes this recipe a whole lot sweeter. And the bees very happy. They’ll want a piece too if you’re not careful.

Italian nougat, as my summer travels have revealed, is something we Brits have taken, messed with to make it last longer, travel better and cost less, and essentially ruined. So let’s bin the candy stripes and pick up the honey jar. It’s nougat time.

Now this recipe requires very, very hot sugar. You’ve been warned. If you’re the kind of person who’s likely to drop a pan of boiling sugar when put under pressure I’d advise you try these instead. I’m just looking out for your fingers.

You’ll also have to work very quickly when it gets to juggling (not literally, let’s not get confused) different temperature sugar syrups and egg whites, so it might be helpful to have an extra pair of hands nearby. That’s unless you have a Kitchen Aid, in which case lucky you.

Dark chocolate, toasted almond and tangy orange nougat

Makes 36

220g caster sugar
150g liquid glucose
110g honey
1 egg white
90g whole almonds
100g dark chocolate, cut into chunks
80g homemade candied orange peel, diced (see next post for recipe)

Sugar thermometer

Line the base of an 18cm x 18cm baking tin with baking paper,  and oil both the paper and the sides of the tin with about a tsp. of vegetable oil.

Place the sugar, glucose, honey and 60ml water into a heavy-based saucepan and stir on a low heat until all the sugar’s dissolved. Increase the temperature and let the mixture boil until the syrup reaches 130°C.

Meanwhile, whisk the egg white until it forms stiff peaks. With your mixer still running, add half of the syrup in a slow and steady stream, ensuring it’s all mixed in. Whilst continuing to whisk the egg white and syrup mixture, return the remaining syrup to the heat and boil until it reaches 154°C. When that temperature’s reached, gradually pour the hot syrup into the mixture in the same way, whisking all the while.

Whisk the nougat mix until it becomes very, very thick. This may take up to 10 minutes. Stir in the nuts, chocolate and candied peel, and spoon into the prepared tin. Smooth the top as best you can with a palette knife and leave to cool completely for a minimum of 3 hours, although the longer you leave it the easier it will be to cut.

Turn out onto a board, remove the baking paper and cut into 3cm x 3cm squares. Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

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