Saturday, 24 October 2015

Witches Hats

Witches Hats

Now these are admittedly a little wonky and battered but I was basing them on the hats that a classic Disney witch or the Wicked Witch of the West would wear, or even the Harry Potter sorting hat, something that has seen a lot of action anyway. At least that's my excuse for the rather untidy chocolate exterior...

They would make an ideal addition to any Halloween party, whether for children or adults although if you are making them for children consider using milk chocolate instead of dark. Apart from anything else, they're really delicious with their chocolatey biscuit base and the rich ganache used to make the pointy part. Yes, they are slightly fiddly to make but there's nothing intrinsically difficult and children can help with all stages, from rolling out the biscuits to the very messy job of covering the whole hat with melted chocolate. 

Orange and/or Black is the theme for this month’s Treat Petite, so I am sending these to CakeyBoi who is this month's host and The Baking Explorer.

I’m also sending these off to Karen at Lavender and Lovage for Tea Time Treats as I think they are suitably goulish and spooky for the Halloween theme! This is co-hosted by Janie at The Hedge Combers.

Tea Time Treats


For the biscuits

150g plain flour
15g cocoa powder
65g icing sugar
75g cold butter, diced
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the filling

100ml double cream
125g dark chocolate
10g butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

200g dark chocolate for covering

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C

Start by making the biscuit base. Sieve all the dry ingredients together and put in a food processor together with the diced butter. Pulse until the mixture looks like sand. Add the egg yolks and vanilla and mix on high speed until the mixture comes together to form a ball.

Tip out onto a work surface and bring it all together into a ball, wrap it in cling film and leave in the fridge for half an hour.

In the meantime, you can make the ganache. Heat the double cream and butter until just simmering, then remove from the heat and add the chopped chocolate. Stir until it has all melted and then whisk until it gets thicker. Leave to cool.

Remove the biscuit base from the fridge and roll out to about half a centimetre thick. Cut out about 8 large discs (about 6 or 7 cm diameter) and 8 smaller ones (about 3 cm diameter). Place on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper and bake in the oven for about 15 minutes. 

Leave to cool on a wire rack.

Put the ganache into a piping bag with a large star nozzle. When the biscuits are cool, pipe the ganache onto the smaller biscuits, making a tall cone shape. Make sure that the ganache is anchored firmly to the biscuit base. Put into the fridge to cool.

Now for the fiddly bit. Melt the chocolate. Dip the large biscuits (one side only) into the melted chocolate, then repeat with the small biscuits with the pointy tops, making sure that they are completely covered with chocolate. Then place the small biscuits carefully onto the centre of the large ones and leave to cool on a wire rack, so that when the chocolate has solidified, the two parts are stuck firmly together. 

Decorate if you wish with star shapes, liquorice laces tied round like ribbon or anything else that takes your fancy. 

Witches Hat biscuits

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Vanilla Panna Cotta with fresh blueberry sauce

Vanilla Panna Cotta

Panna Cotta is my go-to dessert for entertaining gluten-free friends. It doesn't require any tinkering because it's already naturally gluten-free and as it can all be prepared the day before, it makes for a very easy pudding. 

I've talked before about how I never choose panna cotta in restaurants because I find them all too solid and rubbery. This recipe is different however; I use just enough gelatine to allow it to set, but it still has a glorious wobble. I find the all-cream versions too heavy; the perfect ratio for me is half milk (full-fat of course) and half double cream. However, if you prefer a creamier version, just up the cream to 300 ml and reduce the milk to 200 ml. See the recipe for a note about the sugar too.

The crowning glory is the blueberry sauce. Heating the fruit with a little water, sugar and lemon juice so that it releases those wonderful, purple juices transforms what is quite a bland fruit into a beautifully flavoured sauce that complements the creamy panna cotta perfectly.


250ml double cream
250ml full-fat milk
60-70g caster sugar (I use 60g as I don't like it too sweet but you can increase the amount of sugar if you prefer)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4g gelatine leaves

For the blueberry sauce
100g blueberries
2 teaspoons sugar
juice of half a lemon
grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon water

Put the gelatine sheets in cold water to soak.

Put the milk, cream, vanilla and sugar in a saucepan and heat gently, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. When it's just about to boil, remove from the heat and stir in the squeezed-out gelatine. 

Pour into small moulds and leave to set in the fridge overnight. 

The blueberry sauce can be made the day before too. Just put all the ingredients (blueberries, water, lemon juice and zest, sugar) in a saucepan and heat gently for about 10 minutes until the blueberries are soft. Strain through a sieve, squashing the fruit so the pulp goes into the sauce, leaving just the skins behind. 

To serve, run a knife around the panna cotta before inverting onto a plate. Serve with the sauce and a few fresh blueberries if you like.

panna cotta with blueberry sauce