Coconut Macaroons

Some good news, i've got a temporary job!
I shall be taking on the role of Cheese Baron at a local deli. By Cheese Baron i of course mean Deli Assistant but hey we're all allowed to embellish are we not. A good friend of mine told me about the job so my thanks much go out to her publicly as it is she who has single handedly cured my weekday doom.

So here is my last week of sitting around watching telly for the duration.
I'm a little more hopeful about real jobs and such again and have of course continued to apply profusely to varied establishments.

I also have a new project - to redecorate my bedroom. I'm getting all new grown up furniture, a new wardrobe (which is sad as i love my Narnia size wardrobe currently but the door has fallen off so it must die a sad death!), new book cases with doors and the best of all, a new bed! A real grown up bed for grown ups. I shall of course show you all my new room when it's done in two weeks time. I can't begin to express how excited i am.

Now onto macaroons.
I have attempted the French Macaroons that we all know and love. Not a great experience! They tasted great but the aga didn't do them justice.
I decided to go for their less stylish cousins, the Coconut Macaroon.
Normally when i have left over egg whites (today due to last night's smoked salmon carbonara) i just make meringue because they're so easy to bash together but, mum already has some in at the moment and i must say i love a good Marks and Spencer meringue! These beauties are the perfect combination of meringue and coconut with a little bit of cheeky dark chocolate on top. Stupidly easy to make i feel like it's a bit of an insult to call this a recipe.

Coconut Macaroons
4 egg whites
1 tsp white wine vinegar
1tsp vanilla extract
150g caster sugar
60g ground almonds
400g desiccated coconut (Nigella says shredded, oh well!)
100g dark chocolate

Preheat your oven to 170C or put a cooling rack about half way in the aga.
Beat the egg whites until frothy, add the vanilla and vinegar then beat until soft peaks are achieved.
Add the sugar in bits at a time, I remember Nigella once said a tablespoon at a time but who can even be bothered with that! Just don't do it all at once. Whisk until the peaks hold their shape and are nice and shiny.
Fold in the coconut and ground almonds. This part was so lovely and therapeutic! The mixture won't be sticky but the coconut should just hold together. Don't worry about losing volume in your meringue, that isn't the point. If anything the more compact the better so they don't fall apart once out of the oven and still warm!
Form your balls of coconut. I used my 'cake pop scoop' that i have never used to make cake pops but for cookies etc. Be inventive, do what you like! With my scoop i made 40 bite size macaroons. It's all up to you how you do this of course.

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I baked mine in the aga for 12 minutes. The recommended time is 20 minutes for clementine sized macaroons, mine were smaller ergo the lesser time.
I decorated mine with the chocolate but feel free to do what you like.
A vague-ish recipe that you can do what you like with.

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This recipe can be so easily adjusted to the amount of egg whites you have, so bake away! Put some pink food colouring in to make them pretty or shape them into little pyramids for a more traditional approach. They are perfectly crispy on the outside and really chewwy and perfect and yeah, you get the idea.

Love x


Healing Pretzels

I woke up this morning in a markedly better mood having been out for a gluttonous dinner with my bestie at the Aubaine pop-up restraunt at Selfridges in Manchester. We polished of lobster and steak and moaned about life!

I realised that sitting around moping hasn't helped so decided to do something good for the soul. I baked! Bread is one of my all time favourite things to make even if i'm not very expereiced. There is something otherworldly and theraputic about kneading dough and smelling like fresh baked bread all day. It's also totally time consuming so during the rises i had a got at a few more job applications and dreamed of soft pillowly warm pretzels!

If you have a spare few hours i'd reccomend these little beauties because they taste amazing (The totally non-traditional matrimony of Chilli Con Carne and pretzels was the perfect surprise) and of course my sweet ones will be perfect for breakfast with jam and fruit or warm with too much caramel sauce.

Soft Pretzels
dough ingredients:
500g plain flour
270ml of luke warm water
50g melted butter
25g active dry yeast
12g salt
12g light brown sugar (up this to 60g if you want sweet pretzel dough)

to boil:
500 ml water
6 tbs baking soda

Combine the flour, 50ml of the water, sugar and yeast in a big mixing bowl. Leave in a warm place to rise. You won't get much action here but you just need your yeast to feast a little on the sugar.
Dissolve the salt in the remaining water and pour over your floury mixture with the melted butter. Combine with your hands and kneed for about 10 minutes until you have a soft, not sticky dough.

Cover with cling film the the bowl and leave to rise in a warm place for an hour or until doubled in size.
Once massive and pillowy re-kneed and divide into the desired amount. My dough weighed about 850g so i made 10 mid-sized pretzels. You could make 8 big ones or 4 gigantic ones if you like!
Roll out a rope of dough and make your pretzel shape. I'll admit i followed an online 'guide' but shhhhh. Leave to rise on a floured dishcloth for another 20 minutes.

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Next is the fun part, the boiling!
Bring your water to the boil then carefully add the baking powder. The pan will go insane and you may or may not ruin your mum's aga a little in the process... Place your beautiful pretzels one at a time and boil for 30 seconds each. Let them dry a little, sprinke over your desired topping (half salt crystals and half light brown sugar in my case) and bake at 220C for 20 minutes until golden brown.

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These little beauties are so tasty and you won't regret the hard work gone into them! The only thing i would do differently when i make them again is the definite addition of an egg wash before they go in the oven, that's just personal preference though. Mine were demolished with dinner, although as pointed out by the baby sister they are rather filling.

Enjoy x

Let's be honest

So, if I’ve written one blog post since the last one I’ve written one hundred.
Nothing seemed worthwhile! Even the pumpkin cheesecake. For the first time ever I was just like 'no one wants to hear about anything I do, I have nothing to write'.
Then I realised it's time to be honest.
I know this has never been a blog where I pour my soul out or really talk much about my actual life but I guess it's time now to start. Just a little bit.

Maybe it'll mean you get to know me a little more. I must say one thing though, what I’m about to type isn't me as I am always, just right now. I'd hate you all to think I’m some morose, jobless girl who moans a lot, I’m not i promise!

I haven't been blogging or doing much recently because I’m unemployed. I say that and for the first time since it's been this way I’ve not made a joke... Not made it sound like it's even remotely fun. It isn't! I said this would be honest and it will be!

Since returning from Italy I have tried. Really hard! It has probably been one of the most testing experiences of my life. I'm not a student, I’m not an official 'job seeker', and I’m not even a traveller. I'm doing nothing. I sit day to day trying to fill up the time, frantically checking emails the second they arrive thinking it could be job news. More often than not it isn't. Because of this I’m not myself right now, having spent time with a friend in the same position as me today and properly talking about it I’ve realised this is normal! The pair of us are well rounded, confident, pretty good all round girls yet it feels like we're unemployable. Both with good degrees from quality universities yet it seems like no one wants either of us.

I know this feeling is temporary and one day it'll look up but I wanted to explain to you all where I’ve been mentally. It's not that there hasn't been time to blog (there has I assure you) but my headspace has currently lost a little bit of my former sheer enthusiasm.

It won't be this way always I promise but I have realised I’ve been rather neglectful of my little online space. I promise I’ll begin to update it like I use to one day in the future, just be patient with me and I promise I’ll be a good blogger again. Maybe I’ll even write that pumpkin cheesecake recipe and tell you all about almost burning down my house with pumpkin seeds.

Kate x