Friday, 15 April 2011

Light Chocolate Chip Muffins

Ahem, so I know I said I would be posting some healthier baking recipes but ummm, the thing is ... that I've been too busy making full butter, full sugar, full chocolate recipes to fit in any healthy baking. *sigh* I'm just one of those people who would much rather have a small piece of something decadent and thoroughly bad for me (though I hardly ever stop at one piece), than a huge chunk of something healthier but not as tasty! But I know I'm going to have to readjust my attitude a bit and there are some advantages to healthier baking. For example, whereas I try to have the naughty stuff I bake only on weekends, I could have one of these muffins every day during the week without feeling guilty and still enjoying some sort of treat. 
So I'll bake more healthy stuff more often. I promise. Or I'll at least try really hard!

These muffins from Weight Watchers "Seriously Satisfying" cook book are pretty good. Apart from the low fat margarine and skimmed milk, everything else is normal, full fat stuff. And like most muffins, they're very easy to put together, so give 'em a go. I'm glad I did.

ProPoints value per recipe: 46
ProPoints per muffin: 4
Makes 12

200g plain flour
2 tsps baking powder
75g caster sugar
a pinch of salt
1 egg, beaten
200ml skimmed milk
25g low fat spread, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or 1 vanilla pod
40g dark chocolate chips
40g white chocolate chips

1 - Preheat oven to Gas Mark 6/200C/fan oven 180C
2 - Line the muffin tin with the muffin cases
3 - Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl and stir in the sugar and salt
4 - In a separate bowl, beat together the egg, milk, low fat spread and vanilla
5 - Add the egg mixture to the flour with the chocolate chips and stir together until just combined. As with all muffins do not over stir; it is better to have a slightly lumpy texture
6 - Spoon into the muffin cases and bake for 15-20 minutes until golden and risen

7 Cool on a wire rack

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Come Dine with Vickii - Dessert!

You must know me well enough by now to not be surprised when I tell you that my dessert was the first part of my 'Come Dine with Me' menu I decided on.
And I was pretty set on these Crème brûlées from the get-go. The story with these is I went round to my sister's a couple of years ago (co-incidentally after they had just done their 'Come Dine with Me'. Their group scored though. And they won!) and she had a few of these left over in the fridge. And I might have maybe eaten a couple all of them. This is why I always go and visit my sister when I'm in Birmingham. Her and her husband are total foodies and they see me rarely enough that they still consider it a treat so they ALWAYS feed me. 
Side note: Sometimes people think that because I bake and cook, I might be overly critical of other people's cooking or just prefer to do the cooking myself. NOT TRUE. I love love love being cooked and baked for and never ever think 'I could do this better' or any thoughts along those lines. So please; let the dinner invites roll on in.

A few months after I first tried this wonderful dessert; my sister and brother-in-law were hosting a pre-Christmas dinner and I begged for them to make these; thereby forcing them to make two desserts. It was a tough job eating them both but someone had to do it ;p And I might have maybe helped some other people finish theirs; I don't recall. After that though, she wised up, gave me the recipe and told me to make them myself. They're so easy to make and pretty damn amazing! I think it's up there with the best of the Crème brûlées. And there's none of that fiddly stuff that usually goes along with making custard. They're also really good without the caramelised sugar on top. I guess they wouldn't be called Crème brûlée then but they're still something pretty damn amazing; albeit nameless.

I went to some posh Michelin-starred restaurant once and they served their Crème brûlées with two warm, gorgeous biscuity things on the side. I couldn't remember what they were called (I believe the name starts with an 'M' though) so I decided to look for an alternative to serve mine with. I settled on these Nigella-style macaroons from her 'Nigella Express' book as I liked the simple flavours and they were quick to make. They were alright. I think they went well with the Crème brûlée but I don't think they're wonderful enough to make on their own. Yet another recipe from this particular Nigella book I'm not too impressed with. 

I hope you've enjoyed my 'Come Dine with Me' series. Till next time :D

White Chocolate Crème brûlée (I got this recipe from my sister and I'm not sure what the original source is so if I'm plagiarising; I'm sorry!)
Makes - 6

1 punnet raspberries
400ml thick double cream
1 vanilla pod or 2 tsps vanilla essence
150g white chocolate (I would recommend really good quality chocolate)
A few tablespoons golden caster sugar
6 egg yolks

1 - Divide washed raspberries into 6 ramekins
2 - Melt white chocolate in a bain marie
3 - Take melted chocolate off the heat and stir in the egg yolks until combined
4 - Put cream in a saucepan, add vanilla and bring to boil over a low heat; stirring regularly to prevent a skin forming on top
5 - Add the chocolate and egg mixture to the cream and simmer; whisking continuously until it is custardy and coats the back of a spoon
6 - Divide custard among the 6 ramekins; allow to cool then chill in the fridge for a few hours (I usually leave them overnight)
7 - A few hours before you serve them, take them out of the fridge evenly sprinkle the tops with a layer of caster sugar
8 - If you're lucky enough to own a torch; torch the tops until the sugar melts, browns and bubbles slightly.
9 - I put mine under a hot grill, turning every minute or so and keeping a very close eye on them
10 - Put back in the fridge until they are ready to serve

Chocolate Macaroons 
Makes about 25

2 egg whites
200g ground almonds
30g cocoa powder
175g icing sugar

1 - Preheat the oven to 200C/ Gas Mark 6 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper
2 - Mix egg whites (unbeaten) with the ground almonds, cocoa powder and icing sugar until you have a sticky but cohesive mixture
3 - Fill a large bowl with cold water and dip your hands in to wet them before rolling the mixture into little balls the size of small walnuts. You will probably have to redunk your hands to keep wetting them as you go
4 - Arrange the macaroon-balls on the lined baking sheet and put them in the oven to bake for 11 minutes. 
It's hard to tell when they're ready, as they will seem squishy but they harden up a little as they cool and should be damp within; that's what makes them chewy, so don't worry that the underneaths of the macaroons look sticky.