Tag: pastry

chocolate eclairs

Chocolate eclairs

Difficulty: A wee bit harder

Time:30 minutes + 30 baking

Serves: 12

Ingredients

For the choux pastry
50g (1/4 cup) butter, diced
150ml (¼ pint) water
65g plain (2/3 cup) (all-purpose) flour, sifted
2 large eggs, beaten

For the filling
300ml double (heavy) cream

For the icing
50g plain chocolate, chopped
15g (1 tbsp) butter
2 tbsp water
75g (3/4 cup) icing (confectioners’) sugar, sifted

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Pavlova

I’ve wanted to make chocolate éclairs for a while but kind of assumed they would be too difficult – or certainly too complicated for the kids to get involved. I came across a recipe in Mary Berry’s baking bible last week though and saw that they were actually simpler than you might think. I also figured that there weren’t too many ingredients in them so if it went pear shaped we wouldn’t be wasting too much!

As it turned out, they were much easier to make than I had first thought and Hannah really enjoyed making (and trying them). Ours might look a little wonky, but they tasted good and that’s what counts!

Method

Preheat the oven to 200C / 180C Fan / 400F and grease 2 baking trays or line with baking paper. Get a piping bag with at least a 1cm (1/2 inch) tip ready.

Make the choux pastry

Get your kids to help you measure the butter (50g) and water (150ml) and add to a small pan. Melt the butter over a low heat then slowly bring it to the boil.

Meanwhile measure the flour into a small bowl.

Once the butter/water mixture is boiling, remove it from the heat and add the flour. Beat it until the mixture forms a soft ball and leaves the side of the pan. Leave to cool slightly.

Add the eggs

Get your kids to break the eggs into a small bowl and give them a little whisk. Add the eggs a little at a time, beating really thoroughly between each addition so you have a lovely smooth shiny paste.

Make the eclairs

Spoon the mixture into your piping bag. Pipe the éclair mixture onto your baking trays in straight lines about 15cm or 6 inches long. Leave space between them to allow for spreading. Hannah enjoyed helping with this although not all her éclairs were particularly straight or even. We found it worked best if I still squeezed the piping bag while she just helped guide it.

Bake the éclairs

Pop the eclairs in oven for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 170C/150C Fan/325F and bake for a further 15-20 minutes. They’re ready when they are well risen, crisp and golden brown.

Remove the éclairs from the oven and split them with a sharp knife down the side to let the steam escape. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

Fill the éclairs

Get your little one to help whip the cream with a hand held electric whisk or freestanding mixer with the whisk attachment. It needs to be just firm enough to pipe.

Fill each éclair with the whipped cream with a piping bag with a plain nozzle.

 

Only fill each éclair when you are ready to eat them. If they sit for too long with the cream inside they’ll go a little soggy.

Decorate the chocolate eclairs

Make the icing

Melt the chocolate (50g), either in the microwave or a bowl set over a pan of hot water (making sure the bowl isn’t touching the water).

Add the butter (15g) and water (2 tbsp) to the chocolate and continue to cook on a low heat until everything has melted. Stir occasionally.

Add the icing sugar and mix well until it’s smooth.

Spoon the chocolate mixture over the top of each éclair and leave to set.

Enjoy!

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mince pies

Mince pies

Difficulty: A wee bit harder

Time: 45 minutes + 15 minutes baking

Serves: makes 24

 


Ingredients

375g (3 cups) plain flour
260g (1 1/6 cups) unsalted butter, softened
125g (1 cup + 2 tbsp) caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
1 large egg, plus 1 beaten egg for glazing
800g jar mincemeat

 

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It wouldn’t be Christmas without mince pies. So far this year we’ve made about 4 batches and I think there is probably time for some more! We use a jar of mincemeat but you could make your own. Don’t be put off making your own pastry, it’s not as hard as you think, although you could use shop bought shortcrust pastry if you wanted.

If you can’t find a jar of mincemeat or just want to make your own, try this recipe from BBC Good Food.

Method

Make the pastry
Get your toddler to weigh the flour (375g) out and put it in a large mixing bowl. Measure the butter (260g) and cut into small pieces before adding to your bowl.

Rub together until it looks like breadcrumbs.

Get your child to measure the sugar (125g) and add to the bowl. Crack the egg into the bowl.

Mix everything until it’s coming together then tip out onto a lightly floured surface. Fold until the pastry comes together – try not to over mix, as soon as it happily forms a ball you’re done. Wrap the pastry up in cling film and pop it in the fridge for 15+ minutes or so.

Pre-heat the oven to 220C/200 fan.

Make your mince pies
Lightly flour your work surface then get your toddler to help you roll the pastry out to 3mm thick.

When you’re rolling it out, be sure to turn it 90 degrees between turns – it helps to stop it sticking to your work surface, and also ensures you get an even thickness. When it gets a bit bigger, roll it round your rolling pin before rotating it to stop it tearing.

Use a round cutter (about 10cm) to cut out 24 bases and place them gently into muffin trays. Put a tbsp or so of mincemeat into each base.

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Re-roll the pastry and either use another round cutter to cut some lids (7cm) or if you have stars like we do use them. I prefer using stars as they look nice and Christmassy and I also think it’s a nicer ratio of mince pie meat to pastry.

Get your toddler to crack an egg into a small dish. If you are using a full lid brush the edges of your mince pies with a little egg before placing the lids on and pressing them down to seal. You don’t need to worry about the egg at this point if you are using stars.

Use the egg to glaze the tops of the mince pies. If you are using a full lid, cut little slits in the middle.

Bake your mince pies
Bake them for 15-20 minutes. They’re ready when they are golden brown and bubbling.

mince pies

Remove your tray from the oven. Cool the mince pies on a wire rack. I find it easier to remove the mince pies from the muffin tray before while they’re still hot.

mince pies

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