Notes of Nutmeg – Valentine’s Day Recipe

 Show off your sweet side!

 

Valentine’s Day is one of my favourite holidays. Although it gets perceived as tacky and commercial, it is a great opportunity to celebrate love with the special people in your life.

I’ve always found that the best way to show someone you care is to make them something heartfelt. My recipe for fondue and dipping biscuits for two is the perfect way to do this. As well as being a unique Valentine’s gift idea, is it also a tasty twist on the traditional heart-shaped box of chocolates that is far more fun and personal.

If you’re trying to impress a new partner or simply trying to change it up in a long-term relationship, this recipe is perfect for any food-lover or chocaholic. With this romantic recipe at the ready you will have an unforgettable evening, without breaking the bank.

If you’re a baking beginner, don’t worry, this recipe is easy to follow so have fun with it.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

Fondue for two with heart-shaped dipping biscuits:

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(makes enough fondue for two and 20-25 biscuits, prep time: 1hr 40 minutes, cook time: 10 mins per batch)

 

Ingredients:

For the biscuits:

90g unsalted butter, soft

100g caster sugar

1 large egg

200g plain flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

Pinch of salt

Sugar decorations

For the fondue:

100g dark chocolate, good quality

100g milk chocolate, good quality

200 ml double cream

Any other fruits or sweets for dipping, for example strawberries, marshmallows and cherries.

You will also need:

– Heart-shaped biscuit cutter or stencil

– Cake pop sticks

– A chocolate fondue pot

 

Method:

  1. Beat together the butter and sugar until it’s pale and creamy. This could take 3-4 minutes with an electric beater. Add the egg and vanilla paste then beat again until mostly combined.
  2. In another bowl, mix together your dry ingredients.
  3. Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture and beat gently until a dough is formed. Try not to overwork the dough as the biscuits could become tough.
  4. Wrap your dough in cling film and chill for at least an hour.
  5. Once your dough has chilled, preheat the oven to 180°c/Gas Mark 4 , Roll out the dough onto a lightly floured surface to a thickness of about a ½ cm.
  6. Cut out as many hearts as you can. To do this, either use a heart-shaped cutter or print out a stencil and then use a knife to cut around the shape. Place the shapes onto a lined baking tray.
  7. To make these into biscuit pops, perfect for dipping, carefully push a pop stick into the base of each heart and reform the shape by pinching the bottom gently. Cheeky 😉

If you’re adding decorations, push them gently into the top of the biscuits now.

  1. Bake the biscuits for around ten minutes, turning the tray halfway through if your oven is uneven. When the biscuits are done, they should look slightly more golden and smell delicious.
  2. Whilst the biscuits are cooling on a rack, break up your chocolate into a heatproof bowl and add the cream. Heat this over a very gently simmering pan of water, stirring constantly until the chocolate has all melted and combined.
  3. Place your chocolate mix into a fondue pot and serve with your dipping biscuits and any other nibbles you see fit. Tuck in immediately.

 

 

Left-over batter from Pancake Day? Try making the perfect pancake for your partner with these delicious recipes 

 

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Notes of Nutmeg – Pancake Day Recipes

Pancake Day 3 Ways:

 

Yes! Pancake Day is here! Who doesn’t love a day where you can get away with eating pancakes for all three meals?  

Here in the UK, it’s a tradition that goes back many generations. On Shrove Tuesday, pancakes are made to use up the sugar and eggs in house, so there is little temptation left for Lent. It’s now more common to give up those bad foods as a New Year’s resolution. Pancake Day, to most, has become a day of Wintertime fun; flipping pancakes with family and friends.

In my family, Pancake Day is always good fun. Pancake flipping competitions always provided good mealtime entertainment, even if we lost a pancake or two along the way. Everyone likes their pancakes a different way and with different toppings, so variety has always played a key role in our Pancake Day traditions. The year we found out that my dad is gluten-intolerant, we also had to be creative and discovered the best ways to enjoy Pancake Day gluten-free. Pancakes are so easy to make, even for baking beginners and they can easily be adapted to modern diets.

Even with dietary requirements, your Pancake Day can be equally as delicious. I’m sharing with you three of my top pancake recipes for slightly alternative Pancake Day treats.

 

 

Gluten-free galettes:

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(makes 5 pancakes, prep time: 10 mins, cook time: approx. 6 mins per pancake)

If you are gluten-intolerant or are trying out a gluten-free diet, this is the best pancake mix for you. I discovered it when staying with my friend’s family in France and we had it many times as a light lunch with a glass of cider. It has a delicious flavour and is naturally gluten-free, as it uses buckwheat flour. If you’re struggling to find buckwheat flour in your local supermarkets, try any local health food shops or online.

I was taught a galette should be eaten with cheese, ham and an egg cooked right there on the pancake, a galette complète. Delicious!

Ingredients:

For the pancakes:

100g buckwheat flour

Pinch of salt

1 egg

300ml milk

50g melted butter, plus extra for frying

To fill:

5 ham slices, cut/torn into pieces

200g grated cheese

5 eggs

Method:

  1. Sift the flour into a bowl. Then add the salt, egg and half of the milk and beat until smooth.
  2. Add the remainder of the milk and mix into a thin batter. At this stage the batter can be kept in the fridge for up to 12 hours if you’re not planning to make the pancakes straight away.
  3. When you’re ready to get cooking, make sure the batter is back up to room temperature. Melt the butter and add it to the mix, stirring until combined. Be prepared, the batter is a strange, slightly stringy or gloopy texture, but this is normal.
  4. To cook the pancakes, heat up a frying pan (or ideally a pancake pan) until it’s nice and hot. Add a small amount of butter to coat the pan surface. Then, using a ladle, drop some of the batter into the pan making sure to move it around until it’s evenly spread out.
  5. After about a minute, there should be air bubbles forming under the pancake and the edges should be starting to brown and peel away, this means it’s time to flip!
  6. After flipping the pancake, crack your egg straight onto the hot pancake so that it starts to cook, then add the grated cheese and ham around the edge of the egg. If the egg is taking a little too long to cook, try spreading the whites out thinner or placing the pan under a grill, keeping an eye to make sure the pancake doesn’t catch.
  7. Once the filling is all cooked, fold the edges of the pancake in to make a square, with the egg showing the middle and serve immediately.

 

Vegan pancakes

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(makes approx. 10 pancakes, prep time: 10 mins, cook time: approx. 3 mins per pancake)

Although pancakes are traditionally made using butter, milk and eggs, they are not necessary to make a great pancake. Here is my favourite recipe for a vegan British pancake mix with my favourite decadent topping, poached pears and dark chocolate.

Ingredients:

150g plain flour

1tsp baking powder

1 tbsp sugar

500ml soy milk

1tsp oil

Oil for frying, preferably coconut oil

For the topping:

4 ripe pears, peeled

1l of water

300g sugar

A shake of ground cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla extract

100g dark chocolate, melted (Vegan Chocolate)

 Method:

  1. Starting with the pears, add the water, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla into a large pan and stir until most of the sugar has dissolved. Now add the pears to the water and heat the water to a good simmer. Turning the pears occasionally, leave to simmer for up to 20 minutes or until the pears feel soft when tested with a sharp knife. When they’re done, turn the heat off but leave the pears to rest in their liquor. They can be used hot or cold.
  2. Whilst the pears are poaching, sift the dry pancake ingredients into a bowl.
  3. Add the oil and gradually add the milk whilst stirring the batter to make sure it’s all combined smoothly.
  4. Now heat the coconut oil in a frying pan until its nice and hot and make sure it’s spread to the edges. Pour a ladle-full of the batter into the pan and spread it evenly, trying to make the pancake very thin. This recipe can easily produce a stodgy pancake if poured too thick.
  5. When the pancake is bubbling underneath and the sides are peeling away, flip and cook on the other side.
  6. Serve your pancake with slices of poached pear and drizzled heavily in dark chocolate. If this doesn’t take your fancy, why not try them with the traditional lemon and sugar?

 

Fluffy American style pancakes

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(makes approx. 8 pancakes, prep time: 15 mins, cook time: approx. 4 mins per batch)

This is my final Pancake Day special. No diets allowed for this one, it’s a traditional fluffy American-style pancake recipe for those who want to indulge.

For the pancakes:

Ingredients:

150g plain flour

1 tsp baking powder, heaped

¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda

2 tsp caster sugar

Pinch of salt

250ml buttermilk

1 egg

25g unsalted butter, melted (plus extra for greasing)

 

Method:

  1. In a large bowl, sift together the dry ingredients. Then, in another bowl, whisk up the buttermilk, egg and butter.
  2. Combine the wet and dry together in the large bowl, stirring only until they are combined with a few lumps. This mix doesn’t like to be overbeaten.
  3. In a greased pan, over a medium-low heat, drop in a large heaped spoonful of the mixture per pancake. You can cook these in batches of 2 or 3 at a time.
  4. Once the pancake has little bubbles on the top and the underside has browned, flip them over and cook for another minute or two until golden and spongy to touch.

 

Now you have a stack of fluffy pancakes, why not try my super tasty topping options?

 

Maple glaze, toasted pecans and vanilla ice cream:

Ever find when you drizzle maple syrup on your pancakes, that it soaks right in and you can barely taste it? Well, this maple glaze is a super easy to make and delicious alternative which will stay on your pancakes and keep them moist and sweet.

 

 Ingredients:

50g unsalted butter

100ml maple syrup

100g icing sugar, sifted

50g toasted pecan halves

Vanilla ice cream

Method:

  1. In a small saucepan over low heat, melt together the butter and maple syrup.
  2. Once the butter is fully melted, take off the heat.
  3. Add gradually to the bowl of icing sugar, stirring until its fully combined.
  4. Leave until it’s come down to room temperature as it should then me a good pouring consistency.
  5. Serve your pancakes with the glaze poured over, sprinkled with pecans and topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

 

Mixed berry compote and cream:

Fancy something a bit fruitier? Try my easy recipe for a tangy berry compote.

Ingredients:

400g frozen mixed berries

1-3 tbsp brown sugar, depending on your sweetness preference

Extra thick double cream

 

Method:

  1. In a saucepan, mix together the berries and sugar and place over a medium-low heat.
  2. Stirring occasionally, heat the fruit until it starts to break down and the sugar has dissolved.
  3. Leave the mixture at a low simmer for around 20 mins, stirring every now and them to prevent any burning on the bottom.
  4. Leave your compote to cool slightly before spooning onto your pancake stack and topping with a dollop of fresh cream.

 

 

Not a big fan of pancakes? There are other delicious treats to enjoy on Shrove Tuesday – Why not try Brookies as another way to use up tempting ingredients in your kitchen cupboard?

 

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Crème Egg Crispy Cakes

 With Easter just around the corner, any party or Easter Egg hunt would be incomplete without these easy and fun-to-make treats. Inspired by the humble crème egg, these are great for anyone with a sweet tooth. The white of the egg is made from marshmallow fluff; this is an American marshmallow-y spread which you can find in most big supermarkets or sweet shops. Happy Easter everyone!

 

Try my ‘Brookie’

 

What do you get if you cross a brownie with a cookie?

Imagine the richest brownie you’ve ever tasted. Now top it with a delicious soft-baked cookie. Welcome to the beautiful world of the brookie. A friend introduced me to this amazing recipe which combines two of the world’s yummiest bakes into one beautiful baby, and I have fallen in love.

This recipe may look pretty daunting as it’s basically two recipes for one bake but trust me, not only is it fun and easy to do, the outcome is definitely worth it. Just think how popular you’ll be with your friends and family when you offer them one of these.

Brookie
Serves 16
Prep Time
50 min
Cook Time
20 min
Prep Time
50 min
Cook Time
20 min
Brownie
  1. 2 eggs
  2. 85g soft light brown sugar
  3. 50g icing sugar
  4. 75g unsalted butter
  5. 150g dark chocolate
  6. 60g flour
  7. ½ tsp salt
Cookie
  1. 50g butter
  2. 85g soft light brown sugar
  3. 1 egg
  4. 60g flour
  5. ½ tsp baking powder
  6. 1 56g Daim bar, chopped into small pieces (or equivalent chocolate chips)
Method
To make the brownie layer
  1. Line a 21cm square tin with baking or greaseproof paper.
  2. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the sugars and the eggs until the mixture is foamy and light in colour, this gives the batter some air.
  3. Next melt together the butter and chocolate (this is essential for the recipe and also makes your kitchen smell fantastic).
  4. Stir the chocolatey mix into the eggs until it’s all combined.
  5. Then combine the dry ingredients and sieve them into your mixture. Mix it all in thoroughly, then pour the batter into your prepared tin and set it to one side.
To make the cookie layer
  1. At this stage, you’ll want to preheat your oven to 200°c
  2. Beat together the sugar and butter until it’s smooth and paler in colour. Then gradually add your egg and don’t worry too much if it splits a bit, it’ll be okay after the flour is added.
  3. Mix in the flour and baking powder so the mix becomes a thick paste. Now mix in the Daim chunks.
  4. Spread this mixture carefully over the top of the brownie batter, trying to get a thin, even layer over the whole tray.
  5. Pop the brookies in the oven for 20 minutes, until they’re evenly golden brown and still a little soft.
  6. Now cool then completely before removing them from the baking tray. Cut them up into the sized pieces you’d like and enjoy!
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Choc-Chip Banana Cupcakes

Okay, so I LOVE banana cake. I can confidently say that choc chip banana loaf is my all-time favourite and these cupcakes are a really cute alternative! I wasn’t sure of the recipe at first because the cupcakes on their own are very sweet but with the dark, smooth, slightly bitter ganache on top, it balances out perfectly and they go down a treat.

Choc-Chip Banana Cupcakes
Choc-chip banana cupcakes
For the cupcakes
  1. 225g unsalted butter, softened
  2. 225g caster sugar
  3. 225g self-raising flour
  4. 4 eggs
  5. ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  6. 225g mashed ripe bananas
  7. 150g dark chocolate chips
For the ganache
  1. 300g dark chocolate, broken into small pieces
  2. 150ml double cream
For the cupcakes
  1. Preheat oven to 175°c /Gas mark 4 and put 18 paper (or silicon if that’s your jam) cupcake cases into cupcake or muffin tins.
  2. Put the butter, sugar, flour, eggs and nutmeg into a large mixing bowl and go at it with an electric mixer until it’s smooth. (That’ll probably take a minute or so but if you decide to go by hand, it might take a bit longer.)
  3. Stir in your mashed bananas until they’re well combined (it’ll make the mixture look a bit porridgy but don’t worry about that). Then stir in the chocolate chips.
  4. Spoon the batter into the cases and try to make them even. (If you’re going for professionally identical cupcakes, I’d suggest using an ice cream scoop or piping bag to make the amounts in each case super even.)
  5. Bake the cupcakes for 20-30 minutes, they should be a little risen and spongy but not gooey. Cool them in the tins for at least 5 minutes then transfer them to a cooling rack until they’re cold.
  6. [TIP] In the baking/cooling hiatus, it is always a good idea to have a clear up and prepare whatever frosting you are using
For the ganache
  1. Put your chocolate in a medium sized bowl then heat the cream in your smallest saucepan until its bubbling gently but don’t boil it. Once it’s hot, take it off the heat and pour it quickly over the chocolate pieces and stir quickly until the cream has melted all the chocolate and you’re left with smooth, silky heaven-in-a-bowl.
  2. Once the cupcakes are cool, spread your ganache on in whatever fashion you like: rustic-style or fancy piping. Take liberties with the decoration and make it your own but if you are in need of inspiration, you could place a banana chip on top or coat them in white choc-chips, totally up to you!
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