Monday, April 22, 2013

Monday Macarons

As you read here, I've been fascinated by macarons for a while now. These elite pastries are so delicate, and notoriously fiddly to make that I decided last weekend in Dublin to stop by Ladurée in Brown Thomas and try out the crème de la crème of macarons!

They were a little pricey- €1.87 each, but well worth it! I think however, the large boxes of these little delicacies are a bit much- it's hard to justify paying €45 for a box of biscuits at the end of the day! But the box of six would be a cute gift to bring to a dinner party!

The server said that these last up to four days in the fridge, but I found that despite the TLC I gave them, by the time they had survived a taxi, train and bus journey they were a little cracked. So perhaps the boxes are part of the advantage for that- they're snugly packaged to prevent any damage.

My favourite flavour was undoubtedly the Bubblegum Rose (my boyfriend tasted bubblegum icecream for the first time today and was swooning over how accurate it tasted, but it was nothing to this macaron!) 

On first bite through the crisp shell, into the soft centre I tasted the rose, but as the macaron reached my back molars, the bubblegum flavour burst through. This seemed like a small feat of molecular gastronomy! I wish I had bought all their stock of Bubblegum Rose, I'll definitely have to pick up a few more on my next visit! ;)

The Vanilla was almost over-powering. Perhaps because ordinary 'vanilla' products use vanilla essence, which doesn't contain any real vanilla pods so my tastebuds were a little underdeveloped (note, I always use homemade vanilla extract in my recipes! ;) ) But the flavour was really intense, almost in a negative way I felt, as it was overshadowed by the Bubblegum Rose! 

The Pistachio was a little flat. I have previously tasted pistachio macarons with a chocolate ganache filling and those were much better! I think the pistachio lacked any real wow factor, as the filling looked more guacamole than high-end pastry, but as a lover of pistachio I enjoyed this too!

Let's be real here, the Bubblegum Rose was my favourite- but I'm clearly biased! My excitement at tasting a Laudureè macaron may have had something to do with it! ;) 

What do you guys think? Have you tasted a Ladurée work of art yet?? How do you think the pricetag stacks up in today's economic climate? Let me know in the comments below!

If you have any macaron-making tips, keep me updated, I'll attempt to make them soon!

Stay sweet! x

Update: I visited BTs in Dublin (September!) and the Bubblegum Rose wasn't on sale, very disappointing! x

Friday, April 19, 2013

Friday Bakeoff: The Best Brownies

One of my daily favourite foodie sites is Jenny Flake's blog, Picky Palate (especially since, I have one picky palette!) When I saw her box-mix style brownies last week, I knew I had to try them out!

 Here's the recipe, and the pros:

  • Super easy, just mix with a wooden spoon until combined
  • Not as much butter as Jamie Oliver's recipe
  • Everything's mixed in one bowl- bonus washing up points!
  • Lift easily from baking parchment
  • 35 mins worked perfectly in an 8x8 tin at 165degrees Celcius for me

These are by far the best brownies I have ever made, they are less dense than Jamie Oliver's, but softer than the Ghiardelli mix (which can produce quite a hard crust). They cut easily and are deliciously more-ish, but yet not sickening.

I love that, like a box mix you could put together the dry ingredients and make your own brownie-in-a-jar gift for someone, particularly handy if you forget a birthday or run out of time at Christmas! :)

These are top notch, I implore you to bake them this weekend! Guaranteed good-mood-food!

Stay sweet! x

To Bake or Not to Bake??

This week my friend tweeted the following, 
"I think my life would be a lot more quirky and romantic if I worked in a bakery."

On the show yesterday I looked at where this notion stems from and debunked the myth!

Tune into hear about 'suspended coffees' the charitable donations that are sweeping the globe!

Also, this weekend I'm having a brownie bake-off to find the best brownie recipe!! See yesterday's post for Jamie Oliver's 'Fifteen Brownies' but also my current favourite, Ghiardelli's award-winning brownie recipe!

Until then, stay sweet! x

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Jamie Oliver's Brownies

I absolutely love love love brownies!! They're the best snack imaginable- half cake, half fudge, all chocolate, mmmmmmmmmmm.....

Anyways, I had made these brownies years ago and only again quite recently. I intend on testing out some brownie recipes in the coming weeks because my family were horrified at the amount of butter that went into these. 250g doesn't sound like a lot, but I assure you, if anybody has high cholesterol, evacuate them!!

These were uber gooey, dense and utterly more-ish. They really were a hit, with everyone- even the butter-phobes took second and third helpings.

Definitely a treat for a  special occasion, what do you think? Do you have your own favourite brownie recipe? Or will you be trying out Jamie Oliver's Brownies for yourself?

Talk to you on air later, 11-12noon on UCC 98.3fm!

Stay sweet x

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Mac and Cheese

The first savoury post up here- there's a first time for everything! 

Like most non-Americans I was always intrigued by the concept of Mac and Cheese. Recently, Roma Pasta brought out a cut macaroni so when I saw it, I knew what had to be done! This is ridiculously indulgent, and if you love cheese as much as I do, you'll never look back!

I followed the Pioneer Woman's recipe (omitting flavoured salt and mustard), and added in strips of bacon... as well as some Parmesean on top to crisp up under the grill. Delicious! It is a lot of cheese, and I doubt I actually put in a pound- usually just as much as fits in a regular sized dessert bowl. But don't skimp on the cheese, or feel guilty, this is a one-off indulgence so enjoy it!

The recipe looks slightly complicated but once you get all of your ingredients up on your countertop, as well as the measuring cup and teaspoons it makes much more sense. If you have an extra set of hands you can have them stir everything, so you can focus on the recipe. I also use a fork instead of a whisk and it works perfectly.

To reheat, just add a drop of milk and heat as normal in the microwave or oven, stir to combine and enjoy, again!

I've made this recipe about four times since, which in the space of two months goes to show how great it is! Tune into last week's podcast to hear another great tip for thickening the sauce! ;)

As I said in the on air, definitely a comfort food favourite in my book, let me know what you think in the comments section below!

I've also made this using penne pasta and it turned out just as good, so don't fret if you can't source macaroni. 

Stay cheesey...? ;) x

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Exams are coming....

Thankfully, I don't have any end of year exams for my Masters. *breathes sigh of relief* I always preferred essays to exams- mainly because my bad habit of leaving things to the last minute could be combatted by an all-nighter and good WiFi!! Unfortunately exams brought panicked mindmaps, post-its and coffee which just didn't keep me going! (I actually fell asleep for a few minutes during my last three-hour exam in first year college!)

So for all of you battling the study month blues here are some ideas for study-fuel food and also, comfort eating after a long day in the library!!

I also love College Candy's stress-busting guide! Number ten is always a winner, especially if you play B.O.B. ft. Rivers Cuomo, 'Magic'. Absolutely epic! So motivating!

More ideas:

  • I love having a big bowl of fruit salad after going swimming/for a run, it'll make you feel really healthy and set you up for a good day's study!
  • If you do sleep in, it's inevitable over the course of the month! Don't berate yourself, get up, shower, make an indulgent brunch- pancakes, or French toast! Or take an hour to bake muffins/granola that you can use for the week. Relax, and then tear into the revision!
  • Buy coloured paper, and pens and make notes using imagery and mindmaps, this is a tried-and-tested method for people with dyslexia and I think it's great!
  • Don't highlight an entire book, just buzzwords.
  • Start revising by writing everything you know out on a page. Then reduce your notes to just sentences that lead to paragraphs, keep going reducing it down to buzzwords. 
  • Have a sheet full of quotations (especially if you study English/History!) that you can cram into your head just before entering the exam hall!
  • Get into a good sleeping pattern early on in the study month.
  • Start studying early, that way you will actually get a seat in the library and be able to take the night off! It's a win-win! 
  • For exams, I always brought water, a stimulant (Berocca/Coke/Lucozade/Red Bull), a six-square bar of Dairy Milk and a roll of Rowntree's Fruit Pastilles in with me. They are the perfect mix of stimulants! Also, don't forget tissues and coloured pens!
  • Wear layers- it's not worth it being freezing/boiling over. No ballet flats- your feet will freeze!! Also, bring a hair tie.
  • Keep money/car keys in your pencil case, I heard of too many peoples' belongings being stolen outside the hall to risk it!
  • Most importantly arrive fifteen minutes early, find a quiet corner to study in, go to the toilet and straight in to your desk. :)

Best of luck, you'll do great!

Stay sweet! x

Harry Potter Party

I am a 90's child through and through- and the thing that proved this? Harry Potter. I was a fanatic. Obsessed. I waited in line for hours to get the newest release, (read the seventh book in SEVEN hours!), could recite quotations thereafter, annoyed my friends by calling out what would happen in the movie- at the premiere, I had all the merch, all the vids- because back in those days DVDs were an unknown object, I bawled at the deaths in the books- WHY JK, why?!?! 

In short, I was a Harry Potter child. :p

Lately with all the study to be done I've needed an escape so Harry has come to my rescue, I find the books really do help me get to sleep and exercise my eyes first thing in the morning before turning to journal articles!

So if you're looking to have a unique night in, tune into the show to find out how you can have a magical night!

Back soon, stay sweet! x

Monday, April 1, 2013

Easter Treats

I was totally overwhelmed with college work this weekend so I didn't get to make any Easter treats... I haven't even cracked open an Easter egg yet! It's shocking!!

Anyways, in case you're having an Easter party tomorrow, why don't you try a Peter Rabbit themed party?? Check out the show to hear more! 

Let me know in the comments box what you think! :)

Happy Easter everyone!!
Stay sweet! x

Easter Sunday Sugarcraft

I always loved shows like Ace of Cakes and Cake Boss- FYI Duff Goldman boss of Ace of Cakes recently followed me on instagram... Be like Duff and search Milis Treats/orlmurf.

Anyways, when I heard that the Cork Sugarcraft Guild were holding their exhibition on Mother's Day I went along to take some photos, and pick up some tips for you guys! I also grabbed some ingredients!

Here's the show where I discussed the exhibit and talked about all things sugar! 

Stay sweet! x

Here are some of the products I picked up- I'll link soon with the fruits of that labour! ;)

Cutters, fondant ready to roll icing, and edible disco dust.