Christmas (Afternoon Tea) Present This year our popular Christmas Afternoon Tea at the Darien Community Association is looking a little different. We are not offering Christmas Afternoon Tea in person, as, with all the restrictions, we did not want to expose our girls or guests […]
Category: Afternoon Tea
Plum Cake! I have been making a version of plum cake or Plum Torte ever since I found the reference to the famous New York Times recipe of 1983. The recipe for Plum Torte, written by Marian Burros, was printed in the cooking section of the Times every […]
Repost of the recipe for my favorite cake.
I have been saving this repost. I know we are by no means out the woods. Life is still strange and traveling overseas to visit family and friends is in the future. But life feels a little calmer, a lot less scary. However, in the beginning of this super strange times, we did not know where we were heading, or where we would end up and I needed to have something in reserve. You know, just in case.
So maybe this is a small victory post. When you start breathing again. When you didn’t realize you had been holding your breath.
Also, so happy to confirm that Auntie Gertie is doing well!
I was so happy yesterday that my husband decided that his favorite cake was coffee cake. in all fairness, he did ask for carrot cake first, but for some reason that is not in my repertoire. One of my dear friends makes a fabulous carrot cake, so I only eat hers! There was a slight moment of panic, when I discovered that the jar of instant coffee was basically empty. So for the cake in the picture above I made a small espresso and used that as well. Turned out great!
In this post I am going to talk about hygge, and my favourite cake, my Aunt Gertie’s Coffee Cake.
I am sure by now we have all heard of Hygge, the uniquely Danish concept. Hygge loosely translates to cozy, but is so much more. The Danish winter is longer than all the other three seasons put together. However rather than complain about the constant grey skies and damp weather the Danes, also known as the happiest people in the world, have embraced their climate and come up with ‘Hygge’. It is a rather fabulous concept.
It seems to involve a lot of candles setting the moodand warm and furry things like sheepskins and blankets. and a snuggly dog lying sleeping!
Food and drink shared with friends is part of it too, although you can hygge yourself.
It is that feeling of contentment that comes with truly enjoying your surroundings. Hanging out with family or friends, sharing a meal or playing board games. You can be at home or in a cafe or restaurant. It is mainly about community but not exclusively. Perhaps you are reading a book in your favourite armchair in front of a roaring fire. Add a cup of coffee, a bit of cake and perhaps snow outside and you are beginning to get the idea. Mind you, my most hyggly experience recently was playing bridge at the Country Club of Darien, shout out to all my lovely bridge mates, and there was not a sheepskin or a candle in sight.
Danes become very sweet when they talk about hygge. I have been part of conversations with grown men who turn positively ‘adorable’ when they mention the word. It really is part of the fabric of their society. Possibly helped by a climate where you have a lot of opportunity to snuggle inside.
So you are sitting in your favourite armchair, reading a book with a cup of tea and a piece of cake. But what kind of cake? For me there is only one answer. My Auntie Gertie’s Coffee Cake.
My Auntie Gertie makes fabulous coffee cakes, obviously not her only talent. I just have to clarify, we are talking about a cake that is flavoured with coffee. I spent years in America ordering Coffee cake and wondering why I could never taste the coffee. Americans eat their coffee cake WITH coffee, hence the name.
It was tasting Auntie Gertie’s coffee cake that made me want to learn how to bake. My mum gave me full run of the kitchen and I make my first cake at the age of eight. It was truly awful. I had no concept of raising agents or how to mix things properly. I still have memories of a rubbery flat disk with a thick sticky layer of coffee at the bottom and a drizzle of thin icing on the top, which my lovely parents ate with a smile.
Luckily I have improved. The cake is the go to birthday cake for Robert and me (hence the flags on the cake, Danes do flags not candles for birthdays) , but I have to keep it out of the house at other times. I find it absolutely irresistible. Robert and I both agree it is even better after a day, when the coffee icing has developed a crisp outside edge.
I am going to be little vague about how much coffee to add as I truly do not know. I mix instant coffee with a little boiling water and some milk (evaporated is the best, another of Auntie Gertie’s tips.) It is a feeling as to how much is just right, you have to look at the colour of the cake batter or icing and stop adding when it looks about perfect. And perfection is what we are talking about, because every so often I produce a truly marvellous cake against which all others are measured. The measurements quoted are from the cake I was forced to make today just to check the amounts were in the right ballpark. Use common sense as always when baking. Feedback always welcome!
The cake itself is a flavoured version of the British classic sponge, a Victoria Cake. It is the cake that any self respecting eight year can remember how to make. For every egg you take 2 ounces of self raising flour, sugar and butter and beat thoroughly. If you prefer you can cream the butter and sugar together and then slowly beat in the eggs and finally fold in the flour. That is the traditional way to make a Victoria sponge but I find the ‘all-in-one’ method works just fine. I have tried to give conversions from ounces to the American cups. I have found that flours vary so I would recommend using a set of scales if at all possible, see my post on Conversions . Do not mix methods of measurement, stick to one!
7 minute frosting
The icing or frosting is just to be awkward is a variation of the Magnolia Bakery’s (where the girls from Sex and the City always went for cake) 7 minute frosting. It is a recipe originally in cups which translates to an alarmingly high icing sugar to butter ratio when converted to ounces. To be honest I only recently started measuring ingredients for icing. I used to just throw butter and icing sugar into my mixing bowl and then keep adding sugar and the coffee mix until it seemed about right!
NOT part of the original recipe.
Auntie Gertie's Coffee Cake
My favourite sponge cake with coffee flavouring in the cake and frosting (icing as we Brits would say)
By: Carolyn Eddie
- 2 8 or 9 inch ( 20cm- 22.5cm) round baking tins, greased and lined with parchment paper (see below for link to pre cut parchment paper)or if making the simple sheet cake a quarter size sheet pan
- Coffee Cakes
- 8oz* self raising flour (220g* / 11/2 cups) or 8oz all purpose flour (220g) or 11/2 cups with 2 tsp baking powder
- 8oz* butter (220*g)/2 sticks at room temperature
- 8oz* sugar (220*g)/little over 1cup plus two level TBS sugar
- 4 eggs, beaten, at room temperature
- 2TBS of instant coffee granules dissolved 2TBS boiling water, then diluted with 12TBS of milk until you have a pale coffee colour.
- 8oz/220g /2* sticks butter, at room temperature
- 20-24 oz/500g-700g/6-8* cups icing sugar
- A little milk
- Little Kahlua (optional)
- Step 1 Pre-Heat oven to 400F/200C
- Step 2 Coffee Cakes
- Step 3 Add all ingredients to a large mixing bowl apart from the coffee and beat until you have a smooth mixture. Gradually add 4TSP coffee mixture until the mixture looks coffee colored, but not too dark!
- Step 4 Divide mixture evenly between the two prepared tins and bake in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes.If using the quarter sheet cooking time will be 30-40 minutes.
- Step 5 Cakes are ready when they are golden brown, risen and spring back slightly when touched. Cool on a wire rack.
- Step 6 Frosting
- Step 7 Beat together butter, the lower amount of icing sugar 8TBS of the coffee mixture and 3 TBS milk until totally combined and fluffy, around 5 minutes.
- Step 8 Gradually add icing sugar and remaining coffee mixture (there will be a little coffee mixture left, as required until frosting reaches a soft spreading consistency. You may not need the full amount of either icing sugar or coffee. You can always add a little more coffee mixture or milkif it does not seem to be enough.
- Step 9 If using drizzle a little Kalhua over the cooled cakes before adding frosting
- Step 10 Spread a thick layer of coffee frosting on the bottom layer. Add the second cake and cover top and sides with remaining frosting. You may have some leftover, it can br frozen.
- Step 11 Decorate with walnut halves or as we have with chocolate buttons
NOT part of the original recipe.
I have become completely addicted to pre cut parchment, as it saves time and stress when baking!
Measure the ingredients. Kitchen scales are a great addition to your kitchen and make baking so much more consistent!
Afternoon Tea It is Mother’s Day on Sunday 9th (in the States). If you are home together, or celebrating virtually (the new normal), I though putting together all or part of a Mother’;s Day Afternoon Tea might be a fun way to spend the day. […]
I hope this finds you well. I think we are around week five of lockdown, and it looks like we have another five weeks to go. Like many, I have been enjoying quiet family time. I do understand how privileged I am, to have everyone […]
I hope this finds you well! Today, I want to share my recipe for an Easter (or Valentine’s) Chocolate Ganache Cake. Or my new Snow Day Chocolate Ganache cake!
I already have a fabulous Chocolate Ganache Cake on this website, but I thought I should give you the other recipe I use for chocolate cakes.
My new recipe only uses eggs, butter, cream and chocolate so, in these days of limited shopping trips, these ingredients may already be something you have in your fridge and larder. The other ingredient is either raspberries, or if you are making this for Easter, mini eggs.
This is so good. Might be my new go to chocolate cake.
If you want to see a demo, watch my live webinar from April 10th on HAYVN’s you tube site.
I have also changed out the recipe by adding mini Easter egg as a topping, but by all means stick with the original raspberries.
Easter or Valentine’s Chocolate Ganache Cake
- 9 ounces chocolate ( I like a mix of plain and milk, cut into pieces)
- 11/4 sticks/5 ounces/140g butter, cut into slices
- 6 eggs, 2 whole, 4 separated
- 1 cup /7 ounces/190g of sugar, divided 1/3 for the egg whites and 2/3 for the eggs and egg yolks ( if you use half milk chocolate you can reduce the sugar by a couple of ounces or 1/4 of a cup)
- 1 cup/half pint heavy (double) cream
- 8 ounces chocolate ( I use a mix of dark and milk)
- mini eggs or raspberries, or just leave plain!
- Powdered sugar and any sparkly toppings you have to hand!
- Preheat oven to 350F 160c
- Grease and Line a springform 9inch tin
- start by making the chocolate mixture as this needs to cool slightly before you add it to the eggs
- place the chocolate and butter in a heat proof bowl over simmering water and heat until melted – leave to cool slightly
- add four egg whites to a bowl and whisk to soft peaks with 1/3 of the sugar
- in a separate bowl, add the four egg yolks and the two whole eggs and whisk with 2/3 of the sugar
- add the cooled chocolate mixture to the egg yolks and mix well
- fold the egg whites into the egg and chocolate mixture
- pour into the prepared tin and bake for 40-45 minutes until no longer liquid in the middle
The cake will rise, but upon cooling it will fall in the middle. This is exactly what it is supposed to do!
- Put the chocolate in a bowl or jug.
- place the cream in a pan and bring to just boiling
- pour the cream over the chocolate and leave for five minutes
- stir to mix the melted chocolate and cream together
- leave to cool, either on the kitchen counter of in the fridge
Once the cake has cooled, place on a plate. It may be a little fragile but you can stick any bits that fall off with the ganache and no-one will be any the wiser!
You need the ganache to be pourable, so if it is too firm, you can reheat it in the microwave.
Fill the center of the cake with ganache, then top with Easter eggs or raspberries.
As with all desserts this is best served with some chilled cream or creme fraîche!
If you make this tag me on facebook @carolynsabsolutelyfabulousevents or instagram #carolynsfabfoods
Happy Valentine’s Day!
I know the chance of finding flour, sugar and most of all marzipan at short notice is pretty slim (Wholefoods had nothing left in the baking aisle this week), but just in case you have access to the supplies and some spare time, thought I […]
Stress Baking I hope this finds you well. We are now in week three of staying at home, with the prospect of four more weeks ahead of us. I realize how fortunate I am having (most) of my family with me. The highlight of our […]
I hope this finds you safe and well!
I am reposting my recipe for Scottish Shortbread, as I have just been brave enough to put together my first cooking video. So, if you want a good laugh, keep scrolling down! I first published this recipe as part of a post on my visit to Scotland’s capital, the wonderful city of Edinburgh, which you can read about here.
Scots Claim Credit for Shortbread!
The Scots invented shortbread centuries ago, perhaps as far back as the 12th century. However, the type of shortbread we know today, is credited to Mary, Queen of Scots. With its high butter content, shortbread was a luxury item, saved for special occasions such as weddings, Christmas and New Year. It is still a traditional to give ‘first-footers’ a wee bit of shortbread on Hogmony! If you want to find what that actually means, check out my post about New Years Eve!
You can now buy shortbread everywhere, with perhaps Walkers being the most well known. Recently, before everything closed down, I had the honor of suppling shortbread to the Fabulous Cheese shop in Darien. Talk about feeling that you have arrived!
(The cheese shop is still open, my commercial kitchen is not!)
It is one of this lovely recipes that makes sense. One part sugar, two parts butter and three parts flour. The high butter content makes it ‘short’. You can also change the texture by replacing one part of the flour with rice flour or semolina, one making it slightly crunchier than the other. I sometimes also make the shortbread in a tin by just pressing it until it is evenly spread. Remember to cut into smaller pieces whilst it is still warm.
I have also given you measurements for using cups, which are equally pleasing. 1/4 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup of butter, 1 generous cup of flour. .
By: Carolyn Eddie
- 100g*/4oz*/1 stick butter at room temperature
- 50g*/2oz*/1/4 cup sugar, slightly rounded
- 100g*/4oz*/3/4 cup of plain or all purpose flour
- 50g*/2oz*/1/4 cup semolina or rice flour,
- optional sugar to dredge the shortbreads prior to cooking
- Step 1 Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
- Step 2 Add the flours and continue mixing until fully combined.
- Step 3 Divide the mixture into two parts and roll each piece into a cylinder shape. If you want crispy edges you can roll the cylinders in sugar. Wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes.
- Step 4 Preheat oven to 300F/160C
- Step 5 If you want crispy edges Slice the shortbread into 1/4 inch disks and place on a baking sheet.
- Step 6 Cook for 20-30 minutes until just beginning to color, the base should no longer be doughy.
- Step 7 Leave to cool on a wire rack then enjoy with with a nice cup of tea!
Fabulous Scones, sweet, savory and gluten free options! I hope this finds you safe and well. I have just created a video showing how to make these scones, together with suggestions for variations. This is one my original recipes which I have updated. I have […]
Upside down Orange and Polenta Cake – Gluten free flour works too! February 2020- I am resending this recipe as I have recently discovered that replacing the all-purpose flour with gluten free flour works and produces a really lovely cake. I am also suggesting you […]
By Carolyn Eddie | May 15, 2017
This post is for a Heart Shaped Chocolate Almond Cake with Chocolate Ganache and Raspberries – see recipe below. It was written a few years ago, after the terrible bombing at a concert in England.
I am updating this post to tell you I also have a flourless cake which does not need almonds, which is possibly easier in these days of limited shopping and supplies. Easter Chocolate (or Valentine’s) Ganache Cake
Both cakes have a dense consistency, more like a brownie. They are not dry chocolate cakes, so if you are looking for a regular chocolate cake, these are not the recipes for you!
I also recently did a video for The Darien Community Association showing how to make the original cake, adapting the recipe for Easter by replacing the raspberries with mini chocolate eggs.
As you can see from the picture below, I had a few issues getting the cake out of my tin, so I would recommend using a round springform cake tin as you can release the cake in one piece!
The video is here! The picture is from my subsequent efforts, much prettier!
One of the many things I loved about America was people showing they cared with gifts of food. When we moved into our neighborhood we received plates of cookies. In our town a new baby, illness or bereavement prompted ‘food trains’ allowing friends to sign up to volunteer to bring supper over a number of days or weeks. So often we feel powerless when watching friends struggle with a life changing event, and whilst a lasagne or cookies might not solve any problems it is a practical way to show you care.
Some of us, however, can do more than bake cookies and I have to pay tribute to one very special American, Ariana Grande. She used her influence to bring together top artists in the ‘One Love Manchester’ Concert to give the world a little joy in response to a very bleak moment. Francis Wilkinson, in Bloomberg.com, wrote that Grande offered “a face that was brave and kind in the wake of terror while accomplishing several useful goals – raising money for victims, bolstering courage and making the attacks look both puny and pointless. Whatever the terrorists had hoped to produce in Manchester, it certainly wasn’t this party.”
As many of of you know I love dancing and singing so indulge me as I have included two clips from the concert. ‘Angels’ by Robbie Williams holds a very special place in my heart, as it does for many Brits, although it is not widely known in America. My husband always finds it funny that I listen to the lyrics in a song. I thought the Black Eyed Peas “Where is the Love” was spectacular, and the lyrics were perfect for this event.
So to the cake.
This cake does not use traditional baking powder and relies on the air captured by whisking the eggs to provide the lightness, so make sure to gently fold them in. I am sure ground hazelnuts would work well instead of the almonds. The cake tastes even better if left for a day in the fridge.
The extra ganache can be heated and served along side with, obviously, some whipped cream or it would be great as a fudge sauce on ice-cream or profiteroles. The other option is to roll teaspoon of the chilled mixture into truffles, just a thought.
So with this heart shaped cake I think ‘love actually is all around.’ to quote one my favorite movies.
Royal Wedding Cake Just in time I have thought to make Royal Wedding Lemon and Elderflower Cupcakes. Living in Copenhagen, I have not been so caught up in the Royal Wedding. Obviously, I have read about the dress, the family, the comparisons to previous royal […]
Oh Joy! A post from last year about rhubarb, which, somehow was temporarily lost when I transferred hosting services. I have not found rhubarb this year in Denmark so far. I am, however, seeing it pop up in pictures in Instagram, from peeps I follow […]
I have now lived more than half of my life outside of Scotland, land of my birth and childhood. Based back in Europe, I have been travelling a lot recently, but more and more Scotland has been calling to me. I have become a tour guide in Copenhagen and have loved learning about the culture and history of Denmark. Now I want to spend more time in Scotland, there are so many castles to explore, hills to climb and tearooms to visit.
On our last trip home to Bonnie Scotland we visited Scone Palace, in the heart of Perthshire. Scone Palace was the home of the Stone of Destiny, or Coronation Stone, where all the Kings of Scotland were crowned. It was also the scene of a gruesome dinner party, think Game of Thrones ‘Red Wedding’. Nowadays, it hosts music festivals for the not so young, may have provided inspiration for J.K.Rowling and was a location for the Great British Bake-Off. It also has a rather fabulous tearoom!
We went home to the North East of Scotland for Easter. As it was a direct flight, we flew into Edinburgh rather than Aberdeen. We decided we would rather spend a few hours driving through the fabulous Scottish countryside, than sitting in airport lounges and racing between terminals. Passing through Edinburgh also gave me a chance to catch up with old University of Aberdeen friends. Another joy of being back in Europe.
I wrote about Edinburgh, the capital city of Scotland, in an earlier post. We have been in the city itself a lot recently so this time we contented ourselves with a morning walk in the Pentlands, the hills just outside the city limits.
It was still a little early in the year for the yellow broom and the purple heather, the soft colours that give the Scottish countryside a slight dreamlike quality, but the sheep were out in force
and the old Scottish dykes were glorious with moss.
Reception at Scone Palace
As we arrived at the Palace we were very lucky, and were greeted by a Scottish piper, dressed in Highland attire.
First class tearoom
However as you can see from the video (now sadly unavailable) it was also raining so we decided to go to the tearoom first and partake of a little refreshment, in the hope that the weather would have improved by the time we finished. It didn’t!
I have always loved tearooms, most Brits do. It was one of the things I found hardest about living in America, the lack of tearooms. In the U.K. every park, stately home and even garden center has a wee tearoom, generally with home-baked cakes. You can climb serious mountains in Scotland and find a small cafe at the end of the walk. Quite often it was the reason you went out in the first place. We are not talking full blown afternoon tea, although there is plenty of that fabulous tradition too, just a normal cup of tea or coffee and a wee treat to go with it. This frustration probably inspired me to start my own catering business in the States, and specialise in Afternoon Tea.
In my youth I used to joke that the perfect job would be visiting tearooms and cafes, rating them and then putting a book together. Now you have to remember my youth was a long time ago, before everyone and their dog started writing travel and food blogs.
Why am I rating Scone Palace tearoom so highly? Because of this
Is this a Scone or a Meringue?
The answer? No, you are right, it is a scone. Old Scottish joke, because the Scottish pronunciation of ‘Am I wrong’ is ‘a meringue’. Well, seeing both a scone and a meringue together on one tea-tray kept me laughing all morning. And it was not just any meringue, but the meringue of my childhood. Click on the highlight above to get recipes for both scones and meringues!
When I was six I used to go to ballet class every Tuesday after school.. First, I went to my granny’s house, and she would give me sixpence (told you I was old), that would be 21/2 pence or around 5 cents in today’s money. Then I would walk across town on my own, because that’s what you did, to my ballet class. On the way I would pass the local bakers and buy a lovely big meringue which I would eat whilst walking. I think that was the start of my love affair with meringues, a love affair which has continued to this day. Click on the links to take you to recipes for both scones and meringues.
History of Scone Palace ( and the Game of Thrones Connection)
The first true King of the Scots was Kenneth MacAlpin. Scotland, up until the 9th century, had been lands owned by a mix of Scots and Picts, invaded by the Vikings, occasionally attacked by the Angles and the Britons, the usual Middle Ages mayhem. MacAlpin, in true Game of Thrones fashion, united the country by inviting the Pictish King Drostan to a banquet at Scone Palace. I think we all know what happened next.
This story and a similar tale which took place at Edinburgh Castle provided the inspiration for George R.R. Martin’s Red Wedding, in a real ‘fact is stranger than fiction’ sort of way.
With the opposition taken care of, MacAlpin sat on the ‘Stone of Destiny’ and was crowned King of Scotland on ‘Caislean Credi’, or the ‘Hill of Credulity’, in the grounds of Scone Palace. Today the hill is known as Moot Hill.
All kings of Scotland, including Robert The Bruce and Macbeth, were crowned at Moot Hill. It was believed that no king had a right to reign as king of Scotland unless he had first been crowned at Scone upon the Stone of Scone or Stone of Destiny.
The Stone of Destiny
The Stone of Destiny, see the replica above, is the stuff of legends. It is also known as Jacob’s pillow, which appears in the Book of Genesis. The stone was said to have used as a pillow by Jacob and, after having a vision in his sleep, Jacob consecrated the stone to God. The revered stone is thought to have been brought to Scotland from Ireland. It was placed outside Scone Abbey and used for the coronation of Scottish Kings until the end of the 13th century, when it was stolen by the English King Edward.
King Edward took the stone back to Westminster Abbey and had it fitted into a wooden chair. The chair, known by the rather snappy title of “King Edward’s Chair”, has been used up until this day for all English Coronations. After the Act of the Union in 1603, the use of the Stone sanctified all British coronations, including that of the present Queen Elizabeth II (first of Scotland!).
Scottish Kings, however, continued to be crowned at Scone Palace despite the loss of the Stone of destiny. The last king to be crowned there was Charles II in 1651.
Four Scottish students stole The Stone from Westminster Abbey on Christmas Day 1950, breaking it into two pieces in the process. They took it back to Scotland, but finally left it at Arbroath Abbey from where it was taken back to Westminster Abbey. There is even a film all about the caper.
In 1996, the Stone was finally restored to the people of Scotland by the British Government. However, it was placed in Edinburgh Castle, where it can viewed together with the Scottish Royal Jewels, ready to be returned to London for the next coronation.
Scone Palace Today
The Scone Palace we visited was built around 1804. Both the Palace and the small Presbyterian Chapel on Moot Hill were restored in the Gothic style.
The present owner of Scone Palace is the 8th Earl of Mansfield. Lord Mansfield is also 13th Viscount Stormont and Lord Scone, 11th Lord Balvaird and Hereditary Keeper of Bruce’s Castle of Lochmaben.
As it was a wee bit dreich (wet) on the day we visited we skipped walking the extensive grounds. However, I was excited to learn that the Palace had hosted the famous White Tent for one season of ‘The Great British Bake-off’. It is regularly used as a filming location, and hosts events such as car shows and medieval reenactments.
I was especially excited to discover that Scone Palace has a music festival called Rewind for those of us stuck in the 80s. A chance to ‘glamp’, dine at the palace and watch bands from our youth. You can even rent part of the palace to stay in during your visit.
Finally, the J.K. Rowling connection?
J.K. Rowling lives in Edinburgh. In fact, we had passed some of her property when we were out walking in the Hills earlier that morning.
While visiting the Palace, we found references to Albus and Severus, two main characters in the fabulous Harry Potter books. However the big clue that J.K. may have been to Scone Palace was the white peacock we saw wandering in the Palace grounds. I am sure you all remember that Lucius Malfoy kept White Peacocks in his grounds. Just saying!
Getting to Scone Palace
From Edinburgh the easiest way to get to Scone Palace is by car. It is, however, possible to use public transport, it just takes a little longer.
Parking and entrance to the grounds is free, as is a visit to the tea room and the gift shop. For full opening times, click here
Easter Egg Rocky Road This recipe is inspired by a photo from the BBC Good Food website. I have taken the idea and adapted the Nigella Lawson Christmas Rocky Road recipe for Easter. Easter and Chocolate I am reposting this as my final suggestion for Easter, just […]
Valentine’s Afternoon Tea I know, we are past Valentines, (although for most us, we feel as though it is still Groundhog Day). I am reposting this, as I have just added a video on how to make Chocolate Dipped macaroons. Hoping coconut is easier to […]
Christmas on a plate
In our house it would not be Christmas without home made mince pies, a sweet fruity filling in a lovely buttery shortcrust pastry. For our family they really are Christmas on a plate. I generally make my first batch just after Thanksgiving. They never last long. So far I have made four dozen this season and it is only the 7th of December. Oh, and when I am making mince pies at home, for some reason, I have to listen to Michael Bublé, so click on the link and continue reading.
It is virtually impossible to buy mince pies in the States, so in Darien I made hundreds of them. I have lovely memories of standing in my kitchen, and at the Darien Community Centre, with my fabulous girls as we prepared for Christmas parties and the Christmas Tea. I have to do a special shout out to Caroline Burke, who probably made even more pies than me. She brought her own pastry cutters!
In this post I am going to share my favourite sweet pastry recipe. I use it not only for mince pies, but also for strawberry tarts and lemon meringue pies.
My dear friend Cathy gave me the recipe, many years ago, when we both lived in Wimbledon. Cathy told me she found it on a Stork margarine wrapper. I want to say a big thank you to Stork, but must confess I have only ever made the pastry with butter. It has been my goto pastry recipe for over twenty years. The pastry is very well behaved and also freezes well. I always make a big batch and if I do not need all of it I throw the rest in the freezer for another day.
You can buy jars of mincemeat but I have been making my own for over twenty years. I always use Delia Smith’s mincemeat recipe from her fabulous ‘Christmas’ cookbook, and making it has become part of my Christmas ritual. When I lived in America I used to have to import (vegetarian) suet into the US. This required serious forward planning, but it is an essential ingredient for mincemeat. If you fancy making your own mincemeat but do not have access to suet I have found a recipe by Nigella which does not need it. I love the large amount of fresh and dried cranberries she uses and I have started adding cranberries to my own mincemeat as it seems to make it even more Christmassy.
A tiny bit of history
Mince pies have been enjoyed as part of a British Christmas feast from as far back as the 12th century. Originally they would have been a mixture of exotic dried fruit, newly discovered precious expensive spices and minced meat, ox tongue or mutton. They were also rectangular in shape. By the 17th century they were generally round, but it was the arrival of cheap sugar in the 18th century which changed the essential taste of the filling. Some mincemeat recipes still add meat but for most of us the addition of beef suet is as far as we want to go. For a more detailed history read this great article I found in the Independent.
Tiny mince pies
I was catering a party for my dear friend Grace a few years ago and she asked, in that lovely British way, if I could possibly make tiny little mince pies. Just a bite and no more. I did, and since then I have become rather obsessed with making tiny pies. They really are a perfect size and so small that you can always eat at least one (or two) no matter how much you have indulged. I have also started topping my mince pies with stars. No more fiddly pie tops for me.
The secret to a decent mince pie is rolling out the pastry for the crust as thinly as possible. It is a fine balancing act, as you need to make it thick enough to support the filling, but not so thick that the pie is all pastry. Then you need to cram as much filling into the pie without it spilling over the side. Easy!
I have always used ounces when making this pastry. For my dear American, cup using, friends I have added a cup conversion. I used Danish flour so see my warning notes on conversions.
I would recommend using either imperial or metric measures.
Best ever sweet pastry recipe
I am giving the flour and icing sugar quantities twice as they are added separately. It is how I think of the recipe so I am not making a mistake when I repeat the quantities
By: Carolyn Eddie
- 8oz/225g/15/8 cups plain or all purpose flour
- 2oz/55g/3/8 cup icing/confectioners sugar
- 10oz/280g/21/2 sticks butter, softened
- 2Tbs cold water
- 1tsp lemon juice
- 2egg yolks
- 8oz/225g/15/8 cups plain or all purpose flour
- 2oz/55g/3/8 cup icing/confectioners sugar
- Step 1 Add the first batch of flour and sugar to a mixing bowl.
- Step 2 Add softened butter.
- Step 3 Mix egg yolks, lemon juice and water in a small bowl, then add to flour and butter.
- Step 4 Cream mixture together. I use my kitchen aid.
- Step 5 Add the second batch of flour and sugar.
- Step 6 Beat mixture again until just combined.
- Step 7 Tip onto a floured surface and knead lightly.
- Step 8 Divide mixture into two and quickly knead each half into a smooth round disk.
- Step 9 Wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for at least twenty minutes
- Step 10 Generally I bake this pastry at 400f/22c
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Always Fabulous Scones
“If you’re afraid of butter, use cream.” -Julia Child.
Driftway Lane Scones
When I still fairly new to town I was invited to a meeting at a neighbour’s house. My neighbour entered the room with a plate piled high with freshly baked scones, lightly dusted with icing sugar. I was so impressed and decided that I wanted to be just like her when I grew up (I had since changed my mind and want to be Idina Menzal, but I am trying to let it go).
I think the recipe below came from my neighbour, but the recipe is well known in town and has appeared as ‘Shakespeare on the Sound’ Scones and ‘Tokeneke School’ Scones too. It is so fun to tell people that there is no butter or eggs in the scones,( just a rather large amount of heavy cream).
I have been handing out this recipe from memory for years and my dear American friend Amy quite rightly commented that it really is a biscuit recipe. This rather appeals to me as I am a Brit passing off a biscuit recipe as a scone, whilst a biscuit in the UK is the name we Brits give to a cookie!
The original recipe calls for each disk to be divided into six, which yields 18. I think eight gives a better size and a very pleasing two dozen.
Click on the above link for my full observations on the perils of converting cups to ounces. This recipe works really well for cups. If you can find self raising flour then honestly any cup will do. I am going to say that in Denmark I am finding a cup of flour is somewhere between 4.8 and 5 ounces ie around 135 – 140 g. If using ounces add the smaller amount first ie just over 400 grams together with baking powder mixed in if using plain flour. If the mixture seems too wet and sticky add a little more flour/ too dry a little more cream. You know the drill.
- 3 cups flour and 4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder mixed together before adding the wet ingredients or 3 cups self raising and no baking powder In Denmark if I am using self raising flour I find I need to add a little 1/2 tsp baking powder.
- 1/3 cup sugar/ 21/2 ounces/ 65g or just add a little depending on how sweet your flavor is…bit more for tart blackcurrants, a bit less for strawberries
- 2 cups/ 16 uk fl ounces/480ml heavy cream
- optional 1 cup dried fruit or a good handful! – I use Raisins but you can use cranberries, apricots etc or, if you are my friend Kathy, chocolate chips! Since writing this original recipe I have also discovered that Blueberries or Blackcurrants also work well, and Strawberries are delicious. Just be careful not to over mix or you will end up with a rather horrible looking scone.
Combine fruit with cream, stir to break up lumps
Combine all dry ingredients. Add cream/fruit and stir until combined.
Knead a few times on a lightly floured surface. Divide dough into three.
Pat each third into a round, 3/4 to 1″ thick. Cut each round into eights.
Place scones 1″ apart on ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 400 f for 15-20 mins.
They do not really keep beyond the day of baking,
although I have discovered they freeze well.
They can be frozen fully or part baked. Once defrosted reheat in a moderate oven.
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Welcome Plate of Chocolate Chip Cookies
Alan came in from walking our dog Fraser last Saturday morning and told me he had just been helping our new neighbour carry some belongings in from her car. He suggested I go and say hi. It occurred to me that when I lived in Darien I would never go empty-handed to greet a new neighbour. At the very least I would bring a plate of cookies. I was suddenly horrified to realize that since our arrival (when the lovely Anne-Louise brought me chocolate cake) that three sets of neighbors had moved into our stairwell and I had not brought any of them any form of food.
I decided I had to rectify the situation immediately, and for good measure I would also bake for Anne-Louise and Lisbeth who occasionally look after Fraser when we are away. In all fairness the weather was rubbish and I could think of no better way of spending the afternoon than making an variety of ‘ultimate chocolate chip cookies’.
Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe
Have you noticed how it seems to be impossible to have a recipe for simple chocolate chip cookies? They must be ‘best ever’, ‘world’s greatest’ or in my case ‘the ultimate recipe’. I dispatched Alan to go off on his bike and buy chocolate (Trader Joe’s I miss you). It only took him two attempts to get it right, bless. While he was out I searched my folder stuffed with pages from magazines and hand written notes begged from friends but could not find my’ ultimate’ recipe. Disaster! I must have thrown it out when I moved. What was I thinking?
After consulting various trusted sources I came up with following recipe, as usual a hybrid of a classic recipe with some minor changes. I only had Demerara sugar so adjusted my sugars as I did not want the molasses taste to overpower the chocolate. If using light brown sugar equal amounts of each type of sugar will work well.
Points to Note
The best chocolate chip cookies are not made with chocolate chips, as they are specially engineered to hold their shape at high temperatures hence do not melt, and they also are not chocolatey enough. The best cookies are made with chunks of chocolate. Use thick chocolate bars, then, with a sharp knife cut, them into chunks. Please Be Careful!
I made two batches, one using milk and one using white chocolate. Anne Lousie told me later that her daughter refused to eat the white chocolate cookies as she did not believe there was any chocolate in them. Technically she was absolutely correct, as white chocolate is not real chocolate.
The second important thing to remember is that it is important to UNDERBAKE the cookies, as that makes them soft on the inside. I also find that cookies are really best eaten on the day they are baked. When I had my catering business I would shape the dough then freeze it in bags with enough shaped dough to make a dozen cookies. The dough could be quickly baked straight from the freezer. If you do not think you will eat all the cookies, the recipe gives you around 48, freezing them is a good option.
To roll or scoop?
You may use a small ice-cream scoop to measure out the cookies in which case the mixture is the correct consistency. If you decide to rolls them into balls you will need to flour for hands and the work surface as the mixture is super sticky
Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe
By: Carolyn Eddie
- 2 sticks butter (8oz/225g) (I use salted butter so omit salt from this recipe, if you use unsalted add a large pinch of salt)
- 3/4 cup light brown sugar ((smidge over5oz)/150g)
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar (6oz/170g)
- 1 tsp vanilla (or use vanilla sugar)
- 2 large eggs, beaton
- 21/4 cups plain flour (10 1/4oz/295g, plus another quarter to a third if you are rolling them)
- 11/8 tsp baking soda
- 11/4 pounds/560g chocolate, white, milk or dark - I love Trader Joes Belgian Chocolate - cut into small chunks
- handful of chopped nuts optional
- Step 1 Preheat Oven to 350F or 180C and line cookies sheets with parchment paper. Have a cooling tray ready for when the cookies come out of the oven.
- Step 2 Add the butter and both sugars to a mixing bowl and cream until light and fluffy.
- Step 3 Gradually add the beaten eggs and the vanilla if using.
- Step 4 In a separate bowl sift the flour and baking soda.
- Step 5 Add to the creamed mixture and beat until just incorporated.
- Step 6 Fold in the chocolate chunks.
- Step 7 Using a teaspoon take small amounts of the mixture and roll into balls about the size of a golf ball, you may need to add flour to your hands, work surface or the mixture itself if it seems too sticky.
- Step 8 Place on prepared cookie sheet and flatten slightly, make sure to leave enough room for the cookies to spread.
- Step 9 You may need to bake them in batches depending on how large your cookie sheets are.
- Step 10 Cook for between 13-15 mins, until just underdone!
- Step 11 Once removed from the oven allow them to cool slightly and then remove to a cooling rack.
I plated my cookies and went and delivered them saving the last plate for my new neighbors. I knocked on their door for about five minutes until finally someone answered. It was the painters. It seems my new neighbors will not move in for another few weeks. The painters were very happy with the cookies!
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By Carolyn Eddie | June 9, 2017
Alan and I are celebrating our 30th Wedding Anniversary on the 12th of this month, to be honest I am not sure how he has put up with me all this time!
I have to share the recipe for the dessert that was served at our wedding. Brandy Baskets filled with cream, strawberries and kiwi fruit, drizzled with caramel sauce, I have no real memory of the rest of the meal, chicken maybe, but this dessert, for a Banff lass, was the height of sophistication. Remember, this was a time, when strawberries only made a brief appearance for a few weeks of the summer.
The basic recipe is for brandy snaps, the cream filled cigar shaped dessert which is only really around at Christmas. I have changed the shape to create baskets to hold the fruit and cream. The baskets can be made in advance and stored in an airtight container. Fill them with the fruit and cream just before serving, otherwise they will get soggy. High humidity is not great for them either
The key to making them is to cook them until golden brown then, once out of the oven, shape them over a small water glass. If the lacy biscuit (cookie) becomes too hard to work with you can pop them back into the oven to soften them again.
The caramel sauce is based on a recipe by the fabulous Ina Garden. I always ended up with a pan of crystallized sugar so the recipes below suggests you add little lemon juice or vinegar which seems to help my success rate. It can be a little tricky so I allow you to buy a good quality sauce in a pinch.
Good things to have in your fridge
If you succeed with the caramel it will keep beautifully in the fridge for quite some time. Make it together with chocolate the ganache from the Heart Shaped Almond Torte and you have two sauces which you will find suddenly become useful for a variety of desserts, apple pie, ice cream Sundays and so on.
Allow a good hour as you need to cook the mixture in batches.
- 4oz/120g Butter
- 21/2oz/75g all purpose flour
- 31/2oz/100g sugar
- 3 TBS Golden Syrup
- 1tsp ground ginger
- 2 TBS brandy
- 101/2oz/300g/11/2 cups sugar
- 3fl oz/80ml/1/3 cup water
- 10 fl oz/310ml/11/4 cup heavy cream
- splash of vinegar or lemon juice
- To finish
- Strawberries topped and halved, Kiwis pealed and sliced. then halved. Raspberries or any fruit you would like.
- Whipped cream
Preheat oven to 350F/180C and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
Have four small drinking glasses to hand.
Melt butter and syrup in a small pan, remove from heat once melted.
Add remaining ingredients and stir until smooth.
Keep pan on a low heat to keep mixture warm.
Take 1tsp of mixture and drop onto on quarter of parchment paper.
Using the teaspoon spread mixture out in a circle until 4inches/10cm wide.
Repeat three more times.
Bake for around 5 mins until nicely browned.
Allow lacy wafers to cool enough so you can handle them then drop them over the glasses. lacy side out to form cups.
They should harden quickly allowing you to work with the next batch.
If mixture becomes too hard it can be soften by turning it briefly to the oven.
Repeat until all the mixture is finished.
In a heavy bottomed pan add sugar, water and a little splash of vinegar.
Melt the sugar over a low heat until it is dissolved, without stirring.
Increase heat to medium and boil until sugar turns a deep brown, be careful as mixture goes from perfect to burn very quickly. 5-7 minutes
Be careful caramel is very hot!
Once it has reached the desired color take pan off heat.
Slowly add the cream, which will make the caramel splutter and harden,
Return pan to a low heat and, stir constantly until the mixture is smooth.
Leave to thicken for a couple of hours
Just before serving fill brandy baskets with whipped cream and fruit, drizzle with caramel sauce.
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I love these little heart shaped tarts. I make them as an Amuse Bouche for for my Afternoon Teas at the Darien Community Association ( DCA). They are a perfect size and super cute, a fancy vol-au-vent, that retro party favorite.
I have just made a video for the DCA, showing how easy they are to put together. In the video, I think I make seven. When we are offering Afternoon Tea, we generally make one hundred!
Although my recipe calls for pesto, goat cheese and tomato, feel free to experiment. Mushroom, onion and bacon would be great too, maybe with some gruyere? At Christmas, I often fill the tarts with brie and cranberries. Also do not be bound by the heart shape, round would be perfectly acceptable too. If you like the heart shapes, I have found some good cutters on Amazon, and have listed them at the bottom of the page.
Pesto and Goat Cheese Hearts
Makes approximately 17 hearts
- 1 pack of frozen puff pastry, I use Pepperidge Farm
- Small log of goat cheese
- Pesto, I love the one from Costco and, obviously the one from the Darien Cheese shop is fantastic.
- Baby tomatoes, quartered
- 1 Egg, beaten,
- Fresh basil
- Pine nuts would be great on these too, totally optional
Pre heat oven to 400F
I love the silicone tray liners and use them with pastry. They seem to really spread the heat evenly and help you avoid the dreaded soggy bottom.
Defrost pastry and, with the larger heart shaped cutter, cut as many hearts as you can from both sheets.
In half the hearts cut out a smaller heart from the middle of the larger heart. I always cook the tiny hearts, sprinkle them with some parmesan and use for a small nibble, but it is the ‘outside’ heart that you need to use for this recipe.
Place the uncut hearts on a baking tray which is either lined with parchment paper or one of the silicon liners.
Dampen the edges of the hearts with a little water and place the cut out hearts on top.
Prick the inside of the hearts to stop them puffing up too much during cooking.
Brush with egg.
Cook for approximately 8-10 mins until the pastry is risen and a golden brown color. Leave to cool.
Fill each heart with a scant teaspoon of pesto, some crumbled goat cheese and two to three quarters of tomatoes.
Return to the oven and bake until the edges of the cheese are just starting to catch, again 8-10 minutes.
Garnish with a little basil and pine nuts and serve.
Pastry hearts, silicone liners and precut baking parchment sheets
I thought I would gather the products that I use in this recipe, love the pre cut parchment. You can see in the video of the recipe, that I ran out over the lockdown. I did not want to order anything non essential.
I am an affiliate of the products that I occasionally promote on this website. What this means is that if you purchase a product by clicking on a link or image on this website, I may earn a small affiliate commission. (This is like a referral fee). There is no additional cost to you.
I think these heart shaped cutters would work best for this recipe
These silicone sheets are brilliant for baking.
However, my new favorite is the precut parchment sheets. No more searching for scissors and having to patch sheets as you have ripped the paper into a slightly too small size