Matcha & vanilla mini doughnuts (with a chocolate glaze!)

When looking through my previous posts, I realised that I’ve never blogged anything Valentine’s Day themed before… so I am here now to rectify this. Most Valentine’s themed desserts nowadays usually have one (if not both) of chocolate, or red velvet. I did toy with the idea of making something like a chocolate fondant (I made these for Valentine’s a few years ago and loved them), but decided to make something I’d never done before instead.

So… I decided to make mini doughnuts, partly because I had a 6 month old mini doughnut tin which had yet to be used. Tin, you say? Why yes. These are baked doughnuts, you see. I doubt I would ever make ‘proper’ deep fried doughnuts, because the amount of oil needed and the subsequent oily kitchen floor really is not something I want to deal with. But baked ones – yes please! [P.S. I LOVE fried doughnuts, I just don’t love making them myself.]

There were a number of different recipes around, some with ‘cake like’ ingredients (i.e. without yeast), and some with ‘bread like’ ingredients (i.e. with yeast). Because I haven’t made these before, I decided to go with a recipe from Heather of Sprinkle Bakes – I’ve tried a few of her recipes before and they’ve turned out well, so I knew I could trust her recipe.

I initially planned on making vanilla doughnuts, but changed my mind at the last minute and went for vanilla and matcha instead. What can I say, I’m fickle. I’m really glad I added in the matcha though, as it added a lovely flavour to the teeny little doughnuts. Plus, if there is matcha in these, they qualify as health food… right? ūüėõ


Doughnut tic-tac-toe, anyone? ūüėČ

These doughnuts turned out really well, and I had a lot of fun decorating them with sprinkles! The decorating actually took longer than the actual baking of the doughnuts, believe it or not. It’s a testament to my pure OCD-esque-ism. They taste best on the day of baking, but become slightly hard the next day. I discovered a little trick to re-soften the doughnuts though: zing the doughnut(s) on HIGH for 10 seconds in the microwave… and voila! Slightly warm, soft doughnut with a melty chocolate glaze. Total win/win situation. In fact, this is what I always do with my beloved Krispy Kreme doughnuts – they just taste so much better warm!

Whilst these aren’t your typical Valentine’s dessert, I can assure you they are the perfect sweet treat for a “pick me up”. And even if you don’t really celebrate it – who needs a reason to eat mini doughnuts?

Matcha & vanilla mini doughnuts
Adapted from this recipe on Sprinkle Bakes
Makes approximately 36 mini doughnuts

For the doughnuts:

  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1/4 cup caster sugar (use 1/3 cup if you prefer a sweeter doughnut)
  • 2 tbsp matcha powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste (optional)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tbsp butter, melted and cooled

For the chocolate glaze:

  • 100g milk or dark chocolate, broken into small pieces
  • sprinkles of your choice

1. Preheat oven to 210¬įC. Oil your doughnut tin with oil or melted butter (or cooking spray, if you have it).
2. In the bowl of your stand mixer (or a mixing bowl), sift together the flour, sugar, matcha powder, baking powder and salt.
3. Add the buttermilk, egg, vanilla extract, vanilla bean paste (if using) and butter to the mixing bowl. Beat with the paddle attachment on medium high speed, until the ingredients are just combined.
4. Fill doughnut batter into a piping bag, and pipe the dough into the doughnut tin cavities. Don’t overfill the tin, as the doughnuts will puff up and look more like muffins than doughnuts – aim to fill to just under 3/4 its capacity. Alternatively, you can try spooning in the batter, but piping it is much easier (and neater!).
5. Bake for 5-8 minutes, until the top of the doughnuts spring back when touched with your finger. Let cool in pan for 2-3 minutes before removing to a wire rack.
6. Whilst the doughnuts are cooling, melt the chocolate in a double boiler, or in the microwave.
7. Dip the cooled doughnuts into the melted chocolate, and top with sprinkles. Repeat. Then eat! (If you find that your chocolate is too thick, add 1-2 tbsp of milk to the chocolate which will help to make it a little more liquid and dip-able.)

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!¬†And regardless of whether or not you plan to celebrate it, remember that there is ALWAYS a reason to eat some chocolate. Or cake. Or mini doughnuts.

Hotel Chocolat Valentine’s giveaway!

There are two schools of thought when it comes to Valentine’s Day. One group of people firmly believe that Valentine’s is the day to shower love/flowers/cards/etc on your loved ones; whilst the other group firmly believe that Valentine’s Day is a overcommercialised holiday that simply doesn’t mean very much. I have to admit that I actually fall somewhere between the two: I don’t go all all and celebrate it (we usually eat a nice home-cooked meal at home), but I do admit to buying Valentine’s Day cards. Mind you, I am someone who enjoys walking into Paperchase to randomly buy cards to give to people, so I suspect a lot of it is simply a ‘oooh this card is pretty’ thing rather than a ‘must get a Valentine’s card’ thing.

But no matter what your thoughts are about Valentine’s Day, it’s always hard to resist chocolates. Especially when they’re packed beautifully and look pretty. I mean, one doesn’t always need red roses in the house… but who doesn’t need chocolate? I certainly know that chocolate is always welcome in my house. ūüėČ

Hotel Chocolat have, as always, come up with a fantastic range of chocolates for Valentine’s Day. I especially like their chocolate ‘hearts’, because hey, I’m a girl and I like most things that come in this shape. That’s a good enough reason… right? I also really like their chocolate slabs (in fact I recently bought some to bring home to give to friends), and I think this ‘Passion Pop’ slab is almost too pretty to eat.

I had a chance to sample Hotel Chocolat’s Sleekster Love Collection, which I also tried last year. What I was pleased about was that there are some new flavours in this years selection, i.e. they don’t just recycle the same flavours and ideas year after year. My favourites from the selection are the: Strawberry & black pepper (light strawberry truffle and a pinch of black pepper), Soft chilli caramel (soft caramel giving way to a mouth-warming chilli kick), and Praline oyster (smooth milk hazelnut praline).

The other chocolates in the selection that I also enjoyed were: Champagne truffle (milk chocolate and a splash of champagne), Buck’s fizz (white chocolate truffle with a splash of champagne and dash of orange juice), Bison grass vodka (Polish vodka in mellow milk chocolate) and Chilli sweetheart (dark chocolate with chilli and cocoa crispies).

Thanks to Hotel Chocolat, one lucky reader will get the chance to WIN themselves a Sleekster Love Collection box! To enter, just answer the following question:

  • Do you believe in/celebrate Valentine’s Day? Why?

For extra chances to win: (Each will get you ONE entry) ‚Äď remember you need to answer the above question in order to qualify for extra entries!

  • Like Hotel Chocolat on Facebook, and leave me a comment below telling me you’ve done this.
  • Tweet about the giveaway: You can use the ‚Äútweet button‚ÄĚ below or copy this: I just entered the @breadetbutter and @HotelChocolat giveaway to win some chocolates for Valentine‚Äôs Day! #giveaway¬†http://wp.me/pAcXx-EW
  • Stumble this post, and leave me a comment telling me you‚Äôve done this.

This giveaway is open to all residents of UK, Europe and USA. Giveaway ends Thursday 9th February 2012 at 23:59 BST. A winner will be chosen at random, and once he/she confirms their address, the Sleekster Love Collection will be sent out to them. If the winner fails to confirm their address within 24 hours, another winner will be chosen.

Good luck!

*Review chocolates and giveaway prize sponsored by Hotel Chocolat, but all views expressed are my own.
*Non-watermarked photos courtesy of Hotel Chocolat.

Spreading Christmas cheer with a chocolate giveaway!

**Giveaway has now ENDED***

I can’t believe it’s December! Time seems to have flown by, as it does every year. (And I’ve also just turned a year older, which I am always in denial about).

I never really celebrated Christmas back home in Malaysia (Chinese New Year in January/February is usually where our focus is!), but since living in London.. you can’t really *not* celebrate it. There’s just something about a roast turkey with stuffing and cranberry sauce…

Christmas is also a time for exchanging gifts. Being a total foodie, I naturally am a huge believer of food-themed gifts, and chocolate is definitely way up there on the list. And as always, Hotel Chocolat have come up with a fantastic selection of (beautifully packaged) chocolates. They’re not only offering Christmas gift boxes, but also stocking fillers! I’ve previously spoken about the quality of their chocolates, so I won’t go into it again – but I’m pretty certain you won’t be disappointed.

When looking through their Christmas catalogue, there were a few things that caught my eye. The first of these was the Mulled wine cherries. Succulent cherries soaked in fortified wine spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves, then enrobed in thick dark chocolate. Now, who wouldn’t be drawn it by that? Plus, since it contains fruit it can pass as health food. Sort of, anyway. ūüėČ

I really enjoyed these little cherries, as they’re just the right size for snacking. A word of warning though, these babies are extremely boozy! I suspect that I would become fairly tipsy if I had too much in one sitting… But it IS the season of festive cheer, so some booziness is totally justifiable.

Next up are these Alternative mince pies, which are essentially milk chocolate cups filled with praline and salted caramel. I loved the idea of these, as I unfortunately am not a huge mince pie fan. I can eat two or three, tops. So it was a total no brainer that I’d want to try these – and I was not dissapointed. The salty sweet caramel complements the milk chocolate well, and the crunch of the praline rounds it all off. Like.

I also had a chance to sample The Classic Christmas H box selection, which features a selection of pralines, soft caramels and creamy truffles. All the chocolates are very Christmassy, with the flavours of warming mulled wine, chilli and rum, cherry florentines, gingerbread, and cinnamon. My personal favourites were the Sea salt and caramel bauble (milk chocolate with crushed caramel pieces and a hint of sea salt) and the Ginger cheesecake (sour cream notes of cheesecake on top of a layer of spicy ginger).

And because I love you, I’m delighted to announce that thanks to Hotel Chocolat, 3 lucky readers will get a chance to try one of the three items above! I personally picked out these items after much consideration, so I do hope that you will enjoy them too.

Photo courtesy of Hotel Chocolat

There are a few ways you can enter:
1. Leave a comment below, answering the following question – What will be you be doing on Christmas Day?
2. Follow Hotel Chocolat on Facebook, then leave a comment below telling me you have done this.
3. Tweet about this giveaway: Like chocolate? Win some to brighten your Christmas from @HotelChocolat and @breadetbutter! http://wp.me/pAcXx-DO #giveaway
4. Subscribe to this blog, then leave a comment below telling me you have done this.

Three winners will be chosen at random (the first will win the mulled wine cherries, the second: alternative mince pies, the third: Christmas H box selection). If winners do not respond within 48 hours, a new winner will be chosen.

Giveaway is open to all residents of UK, Europe and USA, and closes on Monday 12th December 2011, 23:59 BST.

***Giveaway has now ENDED. Congratulations to Nicole, Meryl and Azra – I hope you enjoy your chocolates! ūüė¶

Good luck! 

Disclaimer: Hotel Chocolat kindly provided the review chocolates (and the prizes), but all views expressed here are my own.

Pierre Herme chocolate raspberry mini tarts

Over the years, I’ve come to realise that I’ve got a slight raspberry obsession. I’m not sure what it is that makes me love it so… but truth be told, there is very little to not like about¬†its¬†vibrant red hue and¬†ease of being eaten (they’re bitesize!). Or maybe it’s just because I never ate much of it growing up – my childhood was predominantly filled with more ‘tropical’ fruits like rambutans, dukungs, mangoesteens and durians (all of which I miss terribly).

At any rate, I always find it hard to resist any desserts that features raspberries. In fact, I actually add raspberries to most of the things I make, even when the recipe does not call for it. It’s all about evolution. ūüėČ

So when I saw these chocolate raspberry tarts on Ju’s blog, I was instantly hooked. Chocolate? Tick. Raspberries? Tick. Pierre Herme? Double tick! I made these tarts almost a year ago, but I still remember what they taste like, as if I was eating it yesterday. Which doesn’t often happen, let me tell you!

The tart base was excellent, and I can honestly say it’s one of the best recipes I’ve encountered (so far) for a sweet pastry base. It was a perfect balance of crumbly and crunchy, and to be honest I think I could eat the pastry cases on its own and be¬†one¬†very happy person. Like Ju, I also made¬†tartelettes¬†(the original recipe makes for¬†one large tart)¬†– because in my world,¬†mini tarts are always better. Not only¬†do they look more¬†dainty, but it also¬†gives you the illusion that you are allowed to eat more of it in one sitting.¬†Total win win situation, no?

One extra thing I did was to pour some melted chocolate on the tops of the tarts after they’d been baked.¬†This was because I wanted the raspberries to be stuck on firmly onto¬†each tart, as¬†I¬†was planning to bring some to work the next day and didn’t want rapsberries to be¬†flying around in my container! And¬†I’m glad I did, because the melted chocolate gave the tarts an extra¬†texture, as well as adding a nice sheen to the top of the tarts.¬†I’m all about shiny things, evidently.

I also made some custard tarts¬†with the extra¬†tart dough, but found that¬†the tart shells browned a little too much in my attempt to get the characteristic ‘burned spots’ on the custard.¬†Thankfully¬†it didn’t alter the taste of the¬†tart shells too much, but I think I might have to adjust my cooking times/oven temperature if I was¬†to use¬†this¬†pastry dough for¬†custard tarts again.

But yes – try this recipe out if you’re in the mood for some tarts. Whilst the recipe for the filling was good (but nothing outstanding), the recipe for the tart dough is fantastic, and is most definitely worth a try!

Chocolate raspberry tartelettes
From Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé, first seen on The Little Teochew

For the sweet tart dough
* Make this at least 1 day in advance because you need to chill and rest the dough for a minimum 4 hours or up to 2 days, before rolling and baking

  • 285g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 150g icing sugar, sifted
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
  • 490g all-purpose flour

1. Place the butter in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on low speed setting, until it turns creamy.
2. Add the sugar, ground almonds, salt, vanilla and eggs, beating it (on low speed) until it is¬†combined.¬†The dough may look curdled, but it’s alright – so don’t panic!
3. Add the flour in three or four additions, and mix (still on low speed) until the mixture just comes together to form a soft, moist dough. Take care to not overmix.
4. Gather the dough into a ball, and divide it into 3 or 4 pieces: 3 pieces for 10-inch (26cm) tarts, 4 for 9-inch (24cm) tarts. Gently press each piece into a disk and wrap each disk in clingfilm. (As I was making mini tarts, I divided my dough into 6 portions. This meant that my dough would stay cold for as long as possible.)
5. Allow the dough to rest in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, or for up to 2 days, before rolling and baking. *At this point, the dough can be wrapped airtight and frozen for up to a month.
6. On a lightly floured surface roll the dough to a thickness of between 2-4mm, lifting the dough often and making certain that the work surface and dough are amply floured at all times. One trick I’ve picked up from all those hours watching the food channel: it’s easier (and less messy) to roll out the¬†dough between two pieces of clingfilm. Just remember to lift up the top¬†sheet of clingfilm¬†from time to time, to¬†ensure the clingfilm doesn’t crease and cause¬†tiny¬†crease¬†indentations in your dough.
7. ¬†Roll the dough up around your rolling pin and unroll it onto the tart ring. Fit the dough into the bottom and up the sides of the ring, and cut off the excess. Prick the dough all over with a fork, and chill it for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator. (If you’re making mini tarts, you can easily pick up rounds of dough without needing to use a rolling pin to help you.)
8. To bake the crusts, preheat the oven to 180¬įC. Fit a circle of parchment or foil into the crust and fill with dried beans/rice/baking beans, and bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until it is very lightly coloured. Transfer the crust to a rack to cool. (I baked my mini tart shells for approximately 15 minutes. My advice is to constantly check to ensure you don’t overbake them.)

For the filling:

  • 55g (1/2 cup) raspberries
  • 145g bittersweet chocolate
  • 115g unsalted butter, cut into 2cm chunks
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature, stirred with a fork
  • 3 large egg yolks, at room temperature, stirred with a fork
  • 2 tbsp caster¬†sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 190¬įC.
2. Fill the tart crust with the raspberries. (I used 2 raspberries for my mini tarts, how much you put into each case depends on the size of your tins.)
3. Break the chocolate up into small pieces, and melt it over a bain marie (i..e in a bowl, over simmering water). Do the same for the butter, but in a seperate bowl. Allow¬†both the butter and chocolate¬†to cool until they are just warm to touch (approximately 60¬įC).
4. Using a small whisk or rubber spatula, stir the egg into the chocolate, stirring gently in ever-widening circles. Take care to not agitate the mixture ‚Äď you don‚Äôt want to beat air into the ganache.
5. Little by little, stir in the egg yolks, then the sugar.
6. Finally, still working gently, stir in the warm melted butter.
7. Pour the ganache over the raspberries in the prebaked tart shell(s).
8. Bake the batter for 11 minutes (5-8 minutes for mini tarts), until¬†the top of the tart turns dull, like the top of a cake. The center of the tart should be wobbly if jiggled (it will firm up, don’t worry!). Remove the tart from the oven, slide it onto a rack, and allow it to cool for about 10 minutes before serving. (If you wish, you can drizzle more melted chocolate on the tart(s), and top with even more raspberries.)

Blog surfing: Halloween favourites

One of the things I love most about the blogging community is the sheer amount of talent out there. As cheesy as it sounds, it is really inspiring to see what other bloggers come up with because believe me – these people are REALLY creative!

I’ve been trying to catch up on my ever growing pile of unread blog posts in my RSS reader, and have come across quite a number of brilliant Halloween inspired posts in the last week or so. Whilst I would love to make them all, I simply don’t have the time to do it at present, so I thought I would compile a list of my favourite Halloween posts so far…

*ALL photos in this post are courtesy of the respective bloggers 

“Batty” Battenburg cake from Sprinkle Bakes

I absolutely adore Heather’s blog, and she has inspired a great many of my baking experiments. This Battenburg cake is just another one of her marvellous creations – I mean, how COOL does this cake look? Totally blew me away. My favourite bit is the orange bat eyes. ūüėČ

Black widow chocolate rum cupcakes from 6 Bittersweets

Xiaolu’s blog is one of my newfound favourites, and I urge you to check out her blog if you don’t already read it regularly. The ‘black widow’ spiders are made from modelling chocolate, which is something I’ve yet to work with – but I plan to experiment with it… soon! Xiaolu has helpfully detailed the instructions of how to make the spiders, if you wish to try recreating them.

Rat plaque brownie bites from Not Quite Nigella

One of the first blogs I discovered back in the day (which actually wasn’t too long ago!) was Lorraine’s, and her blog remains one of my favourite ones. She is a total wonder woman, and manages to blog EVERY SINGLE DAY. I kid you not. I have no idea how she manages to do it, especially when you consider the effort she puts into writing them (she’s really funny too!). Lorraine loves Halloween, and always puts on truly elaborate Halloween parties each year… which she blogs about, naturally. You can read her Halloween party posts here, here, and here.

Spooky shortbread fingers from Baking Quinn

Quinn has a number of great recipes on her blog (she inspired me to make Chinese New Year peanut cookies earlier this year!), and this is another one of them. These shortbread fingers are made with muscovado sugar, which I suspect adds a nice molasses-esque taste to them. I’ve seen a recipe for brown sugar shortbread in Bill Granger’s cookbook (of course, being me I find a way to bring Bill into everything), and I’ve now reminded myself that I need to try the recipe!

Oreo and M&M witch hats from Gourmand Recipes

These cute hats are from Ellie’s new-ish blog Gourmand Recipes – as I’m sure most of you know, she’s no newbie to the blogging world though, as she used to blog on Almost Bourdain (which if you should definitely check out if you haven’t yet).¬†All you need to make these little babies are oreos, M&Ms, mini cones, and chocolate. How much simpler could it get? I can only imagine how good these would be with peanut butter M&M’s….. ūüėÄ

Halloween chocolate orange layer cake from Bakingdom

If you think this cake looks amazing now, just wait till you have a look at what it looks like on the inside! One word – amazing!

Devil-ish red velvet cupcakes from 6 Bittersweets

Another one from Xiaolu, and she’s made the red velvet cupcake even red-der! ūüėČ The tails and horns are made from modelling chocolate. I normally am not a fan of too much food colouring, but I figure Halloween is a good time to whip out the supplies!

Ghost cake from I Am Baker

Amanda churns out so many fantastic cakes that it simply astounds me… can you imagine being her neighbour? ūüėČ I only recently learnt of her blog, and I’m still trawling through her very impressive archive of posts. This ghost cake is just one of the many examples of her creativity…

Eyeball cake pops from Bakerella

The pop cake queen strikes again! These eyeballs somehow manage to strike the right balance of cute and scary… and I love them. Her creativity (and love of sprinkles) knows no bounds! ūüôā She also made some Halloween ‘character’ cake pops last year, which you can find here.

Decorated Halloween cookies from Sweetopia

Marian’s blog is a cookie decorating newbie’s heaven – she has everything from great ideas, to detailed tutorials on the how-to of royal icing and sugar cookies. I’ve learnt a great deal from her site, and I still continue to learn! These Halloween pumpkin cookies are by far the cutest ones I’ve seen so far. Look at them just smiling away at you! ūüôā

Ghost marshmallows from One Million Gold Stars

Gail’s photo of her ‘drowning’ ghost marshmallow totally put a smile on my face! Imagine how good these would be dunked in some hot chocolate… mmmm. I’ve made my own marshmallows before, and I can safely say that they taste a LOT better than storebought ones. Trust me, once you make them you will find it hard to return to storebought.

So yes, these are my favourite Halloween treats so far! I’m sure there will be more in the coming days, and I’ll update the post as needed. ūüôā Please feel free to let me know if you have any favourite Halloween goodies that I haven’t included in the post – it’s always lovely to discover new blogs!