The world of baking and food through the eyes of an American in London

Posts made in May, 2011

Cocotte Baked Apples

Posted by on May 28, 2011 in Other Desserts | 7 comments

Cocotte Apples

I bought these cute mini cocotte dishes at a Le Creuset outlet in Arizona. I saw the cookbook dedicated to using the cocotte dish and the purple dishes next to it and before I knew it I was outside the store with my bag. Total impulse purchase and almost blackout shopping! I grabbed everything and paid before I could stop myself!

I made the baked apples for a quick dessert during the week that feeds two people. I’m coming around to fruit based desserts and this was divine. The apples really melt in your mouth.
I had a debate with myself about how to title this post. The name of these pots is also French for something else. So hopefully Google won’t lead the wrong people here (thanks to Helene for helping me translate).
Cocotte Apples
These need to be served a few minutes after they come out of the oven. I topped mine with a scoop of ice cream but you could also use cream, custard or keep it simple and serve them naked. The book lists the ingredients in both metric and imperial.
Cocotte Apples
Baked Cocotte Apples
adapted from Le Creuset Mini Cocotte Cookbook (serves 2)
2 Golden Delicious Apples
50g light brown sugar (I was out and used dark and it tasted great)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (I like cinnamon so I made mine heaping)
50g unsalted butter cute into small cubes
100ml maple syrup
1. Preheat the oven to 180 C/350F. Lightly butter the cocotte dishes.
Cocotte Apples
2. Wash the apples and cut the tops off (save them for later). Use an apple corer or knife to cut out the center of each apple. I also cut off a small piece of the core to “plug” the bottom.
Cocotte Apples
3. Place one apple in each dish and place the dishes on a baking tray.
Cocotte Apples
4. Mix the brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in a small bowl.
Cocotte Apples
5. Place one tablespoon of the sugar mixture into each hole.
Cocotte Apples
6. Using half the butter cubes sprinkle the cubes around the apples (I placed one cube on top of each hole). Place the top back on the apple. Bake for 35 minutes (without the top of the cocotte dish).
Cocotte Apples
7. While the apples are in the oven, melt the butter in a small saucepan and the remaining sugar mixture and maple syrup. Simmer until reduced by half.
8. When the apples are finished add a spoonful of the maple syrup mixture and serve! Place the cocotte on a small plate and advise recipient to be careful of the hot dish.
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Sweet Tour of Phoenix & Scottsdale

Posted by on May 26, 2011 in Travels | 11 comments


I was in Arizona recently for a week with my mom and my sister for a girlie vacation! We stayed in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area and I really enjoyed it. The weather in May is lovely, everyone was fantastically nice and best of all there were plenty of cupcakes and sweet treats.

I’m amazed at how tall some of the cacti were

If you’re interested all my food photos from the trip are on flickr.


I had my first trip to Sprinkles! I’ve read a lot about Sprinkles and people seem to have mixed opinions. I am of the firm opinion that it rocks! The three cupcakes that we had were perfect.

The shop was very busy but the staff kept the line moving nicely.They had a nice array of flavors on offer and the ones we had were super moist.


The only thing I didn’t like was that the cinnamon sugar cupcake totally tricked me! It’s a naked cupcake with no frosting. The store was really busy and I didn’t notice before I picked it. The chocolate marshmallow was my favorite. It was a rich dark chocolate filled with marshmallow and topped with a chocolate ganache. The salty caramel that my sister had was delicious too.


Tammie Coe Cakes is a local bakery in Phoenix. The actual bakery is for pick up orders and single items are available to purchase at a cute little deli/market shop that is next door. The Ooey Gooey cupcake was soft and super rich.


I liked the sprinkle topping on the red velvet but there wasn’t enough cocoa in it for our liking.


Coconut cupcake had a very nice coconut cream cheese frosting but the cake was more like a muffin.


Nothing Bundt Cakes was my favorite of the trip I think. The cake was just divine. I think it was the softest and moistest cake I’ve ever eaten.


The shop was adorable inside with little knick knacks for sale.


The Praline Pecan was amazing! The Lemon & Raspberry was equally delicious and I wish I bought another to take back with me. They were in these great plastic containers. I bought one on Wednesday night and ate it on Friday morning in the airport and it still tasted freshly baked. Maybe I should open a London franchise!


I also bought a bag of white chocolate popcorn that I brought back with me to London. It was deliciously sweet and salty. I might have to try and make my own version at home!


Cupcakes of Scottsdale was my least favorite of the trip. The cupcakes tasted fine but there is so much competition in the US when it comes to cupcakes and my mom and I weren’t wowed enough with these.



We did however come near the end of the business day. The special of the day, Mimosa, was sold out. I would have really liked to try this. I’m more a fan of unusual flavors and only the ordinary ones were left.
They have competed on Food Network’s Cupcake Wars and their display piece from the third round was in the shop, which was exciting.


The milk chocolate and vanilla was my favorite of the ones I bought. The cake was nice and soft on the inside but the top was rock hard. I couldn’t even break it with my spoon.


The confetti cupcake was OK.  The frosting and cake were both vanilla. There was too much frosting on this cupcake and it overwhelmed the cake I think. The cake was also way over the ledge of the liner so looked a bit funny.



We went to Old Town Scottsdale. It was fun to walk around. There are a lot of restaurants and night spots.


It’s also home to Sugar Bowl! An authentic 1950′s ice cream parlour. It’s a little run down on the inside but don’t let that fool you. It’s also the site where the famous comic strip The Family Circus frequented.

I had a classic banana split with their special ice cream flavor of the month, cherry vanilla walnut. It was uber delicious.
My mom and sister both had a brownie sundae.
We went to local donut shop Rainbow Donuts. I’m a big donut fan and these were way better than Dunkin Donuts or Krispy Kreme (I worked at Krispy Kreme one summer so I’ve eaten enough of those to last a life time!).
My mouth is watering just looking at the picture of the whipped cream donut.
Cinnamon Crumb donut available in both cake and yeasted.


Cherry Glazed

The drinks on offer were bubble tea (!) and some really cool fruit cream frappuccinos. I got a watermelon and cream.

Cinnamon Roll pancakes at IHOP! I don’t even want to know how many calories are these babies. One of things I miss the most about the US is breakfast. I love pancakes, french toast and bacon. My experience in the UK so far has lead me many times to floppy bacon, rubbery pancakes and  french toast that tastes like wet bread (*cough* The Luxe *cough*).


I was psyched to see In-N-Out Burger as I didn’t think they were any outside of California. Their milkshakes are pretty darn good and I treated my mom and sister to dinner all for $15!


We went to local hole in the wall Mexican joint Carolina’s. If my sister hadn’t checked the reviews out on her iPhone I don’t think I would have gone in. I’m glad she insisted because it was the best Mexican food I’ve had in a long time. Simple and delicious.


I had a beef burrito (I think). The beef is wrapped in the tortilla and then I think it was fried as the tortilla was nice and crisp.

Tostadas and Tacos.
The Cheesecake Factory is a nation wide chain but when you’ve spent 14 years living away from the US the big portions and cheesecake are just what I need when I come back for a visit! The avocado spring rolls were crisp and fresh with a sweet dipping sauce.
I got the Carlton salad this time. I loved the cranberries and feta cheese. First time I’ve ever finished a meal here.


We got cheesecake of course! The Reese’s cheesecake cake. They have a lot of cheesecake cakes on the menu now. I’ve seen them on a few blogs as well recently and it might be something to add to my baking list.


We also had a key lime cheesecake. Clearly there is not enough whipped cream on this slice! It was perfectly tart.


We went to local Pizza place Oregano’s. I had a root beer float cocktail which paired perfectly with pizza!


We got a thin crust white pizza. I like the crunchiness of the thin crust over deep dish. I saw a person with a deep dish and it was 2 or 3 inches thick!

Garlic roast chicken lasagna


I don’t believe this is specific to Arizona but I’d never seen one of these before. It’s a futuristic looking soda dispenser at Wendy’s. Instead of a dispenser under each drink there is one dispener that’s used after you make your selection using the touch screen. What I loved was that it had flavors I’ve never seen in store before. Raspberry Coke (my new favorite), Lime Fanta and Peach Fanta.


Also not related vanilla cupcake goldfish crackers. They tasted like funfetti graham crackers!


Pardon the yellow picture. I found these at Target. Bacon and cheese filled Ritz Cracker Bars. They seriously hit the spot while I was an enduring a seven hour “US Airways extended boarding program” at Charlotte. I don’t think I could have survived on the minuscule cookie and glass of water they gave everyone when we were stuck on the plane for four of those hours.

We ran out of time to get to some of the places I had bookmarked GoodyTwos Toffee, The Scottsdale Bakery & Cupcake Company and about twenty other restaurants! Maybe we’ll be back sometime soon.

I also decided at the spur of the moment to sign up for Food Bloggers Connect 2011 Conference (anyone interested in sponsoring me to help cover the fee get in touch!). I’m hoping to learn a thing or two.

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Pear Tarte Tatin

Posted by on May 24, 2011 in Fruit, Pie | 9 comments

Pear Tarte Tatin
This tart may not look like much but it is one of the most amazing tasting things I have ever made. It’s even better than the Apple Frangipane Tart I made a few months ago. Tarte Tatin is a classic French dessert with caramelized fruit on the bottom of the pan and puff pastry laid on top.
Pear Tarte Tatin
I bought a special Tarte Tatin tin at John Lewis and I think I’ll be making this pretty often! I usually don’t chose fruit based desserts (even though I love fruit) but they’re my husband’s favorite so I can’t say no when he asks. Caramelized fruit is so amazing I might consider myself converted. 
Pear Tarte Tatin   
I made my own puff pastry but I’m not sure it’s worth it. It takes forever and I didn’t really follow the instructions in the book because we were getting impatient! It tasted fine though. The photos are pretty dark since I made this at ten o’clock at night and this dessert has to be eaten right away. It won’t taste as good the next day.

Pear Tarte Tatin
adapted from Peyton & Byrne British Baking

300g Puff Pastry (I’m not including the recipe since I made a lot of short cuts. It’s all in Oliver’s book however). Don’t feel guilty about buying store bought.
6 firm pears
juice of half a lemon
75g unsalted butter
100g caster/superfine sugar

Pear Tarte Tatin

1. On a lightly floured surface roll out the puff pastry to 2mm thick using your tarte tatin dish or oven safe frying pan as a template. Place in the fridge while you prepare the rest.

Pear Tarte Tatin
2. Peel and core the pears and cut into quarters. Squeeze the lemon juice over them to keep them from turning brown.
Pear Tarte Tatin
3. Place the tin or oven safe frying pan over medium heat and melt the butter until it foams. Pour in the sugar and stir until it dissolves.
Pear Tarte Tatin
4. Arrange the pears in the dish cut side up in a tight circle with the narrow ends touching in the pan.
Pear Tarte Tatin
5. Turn the heat up until the sugar starts to caramelize and the pears start to get soft and shrink slightly. Remove from the heat and let rest for 5 minutes.
Pear Tarte Tatin
6. Arrange the pastry over the top of the dish and tuck the edges inside. Pierce with a knife to allow the steam to escape. Place on a baking tray and bake for 20-30 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and juices bubbling at the sides. Set aside to rest for 5 minutes.
Pear Tarte Tatin
7. Place a plate larger than the tin over top and quickly flip the tart onto the plate. Drizzle the juices over top.
Pear Tarte Tatin
Place the lid on top and quickly (but carefully) flip it over
8. Serve with a scoop of ice cream or pouring cream! The two of us managed to eat the whole tart in one sitting. I’ve got enough dough so I’m thinking Pineapple Tarte Tatin next!
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Nitro Ice Cream at Chin Chin Labs, London

Posted by on May 19, 2011 in Yummy Places | 9 comments

Chin Chin Labs
It’s was blisteringly hot in London over Easter and with all the bank holidays I finally got around to all the places on my “to eat” list!
Chin Chin Labs
They have swings outside!
I’m pretty persuaded by twitter as well for snack suggestions. I found Chin Chin Labs about 6 months ago. I don’t really live near Camden but for liquid nitrogen ice cream I’ll make the trip!
Chin Chin Labs

The base for the ice cream is made (vanilla or chocolate) and then the liquid nitrogen is poured on to instantly freeze it and make it ice cream!

Chin Chin Labs

The toppings on offer are really fun and change each week. The day I went was caramelized pretzels, grilled white chocolate, heather honeycomb or popping candy. I went for vanilla ice cream with pretzels and honeycomb.

Video of how the ice cream is made. I loved it, but the toppings were just placed on top. I would have preferred to have my pretzels folded into the ice cream.

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Chocolate Irish Cream Truffles

Posted by on May 15, 2011 in Candy, Chocolate | 9 comments

Chocolate Irish Cream Truffles
I wanted to use up some of the Bailey’s I bought for St. Patrick’s day and I’ve always wanted to make truffles. These take a little bit of work but are really pretty and would also make nice gifts for birthdays or holidays.
Chocolate Irish Cream Truffles
I used coffee flavored Bailey’s but any variety would be great for these. I tried to temper the chocolate using Willie’s Chocolate Bible instructions but my candy thermometer only goes as low as 40 C and the instructions go as low as 26 C. I just melted the chocolate for the coating in the microwave instead.
Chocolate Irish Cream Truffles
I used dark chocolate for the coating because it’s my favorite. If dark chocolate isn’t your cup of tea white or milk chocolate would taste great too. I would stick to using dark chocolate for the truffle filling.
Chocolate Irish Cream Truffles
These will keep in the fridge for about a week. I put them in the freezer so I can grab one when I feel like it. I bought little foil wrappers as well and dusted the heart shaped chocolates with luster dust, my new favorite decorating tool.
Irish Cream Truffles
adapted from Yum magazine (makes 30+ chocolates)
100ml Irish Cream
150ml double cream
150g unsalted butter
270g dark chocolate (between 60-70%)
250g dark chocolate, 70% (for the coating)
Chocolate Irish Cream Truffles
1. Break the 270g of chocolate into small pieces and cut the butter into cubes place both in a heatproof bowl over barely simmering water until melted. Don’t stir.
Chocolate Irish Cream Truffles
2. Once melted remove the bowl from the pan and pour in the Irish cream and double cream. Whisk by hand until combined. Place in the fridge to set, about 2 hours.
Chocolate Irish Cream Truffles
3. Once set melt (or temper if you know how) the chocolate for the coating. If using a chocolate mould brush the bottom and sides of the mould and place in the freezer for 20 minutes.
4. Take a teaspoon of the Irish cream filling and place in each mould. Brush more melted chocolate over the top of the filling and freeze for 30 minutes. The chocolates will pop out of the moulds like ice cubes once they set.
Chocolate Irish Cream Truffles
5. If you don’t have a chocolate mould make round balls of filling, freeze and then dip in the chocolate coating.
Chocolate Irish Cream Truffles
6. Place each chocolate face down on the foil square and fold the sides around the chocolate. Keep in the fridge or freezer for best results.
Chocolate Irish Cream Truffles
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