Monday 10 June 2013

Easy No-Churn Banoffee Ice-Cream

Well, it appears that warmer weather has finally found the UK over the past couple of weeks (although I am nervous to say it for fear of driving it away again!). So to celebrate the warmth I thought I'd make ice-cream. I thought it would be nice to make something quite quick and easy and a little cheat-y too but that doesn't mean that this won't be delicious.

Inspired by Kavey's Bloggers Scream for Ice-cream challenge many months ago (July 2012) I have been intending to make no-churn ice-cream for a long time. Using sweetened condensed milk and whipped cream as the base for the ice-cream means that you don't need to churn it to get a smooth, crystal free ice-cream, perfect for people without an ice-cream machine.

Easy No-Churn Banoffee Ice-Cream
300ml whipping cream
200g (half a tin) condensed milk, chilled to speed the freezing process
150g Bonne Maman Confiture de Caramel (or use Nestle's Carnation Caramel)
2 small to medium ripe bananas (or large, depending on taste)
You'll also need a freezer-proof container or two depending on size

- Whip the cream until it reaches the soft peak stage, don't overwhip.
- Whisk in the condensed milk until you have a combined mixture with soft peaks.
- Chop the bananas into the mixture.
- In order to get a caramel swirl you have two options
      - if your freezer-proof container is big enough you can pour the banana mixture into the container, then add the caramel and swirl carefully.
        - if you're going to be tight on space, swirl the caramel into the mixture in your mixing bowl but then don't mix too much more as you pour it into the container to freeze.
- Freeze for at least three hours or until solid. (I left mine overnight)

Serve with extra caramel (for more luxury) and extra banana (for more health!). If the ice-cream has hardened too much, allow it to soften a little in the fridge or at room temperature to make it scoopable.

I was recently contacted by Fruitdrop - a company who deliver boxes of fruit to workplaces and asked if I wanted to develop a recipe for them. I used bananas to make my ice-cream. They delivered one of their fruit boxes to my house (although the driver looked most confused - he said he'd never delivered to a residential property before!) and were very accommodating about having to work around me leaving the house at a rather early hour.

A Fruitdrop fruit box - with rubbish lighting - sorry!

I wasn't asked to review the contents of the box, but actually, I want to. As well as being very helpful to work with the quality of the fruit in the box was very high indeed - all of the fruit was fresh and unblemished - it had obviously been packed and transported with care (including nectarines!) and I think the quality was probably better than equivalent supermarket fruit. The box contents were as follows: 16 bananas, six pink lady apples, ten satsumas, two nectarines, three peaches, four gala apples, six packham pears and a huge bunch of grapes. The nectarines, peaches and pears were under-ripe, but this is understandable given that they cannot be transported ripe and given a couple of days would have been fine. You can find out more about Fruitdrop boxes for offices here - there is pricing information and I think my box was a 'Seasonal' one. 

Selection of fruit from the box

As I'm not such a fruit bat that I could have eaten all of the fruit before it went off I took the box to work to share with colleagues and quite a number of them commented about the high quality of the fruit. They were also very pleased to have a refreshing change from cakes!!! Sadly the organisation I work for does not have the capacity to take this idea on, but if it did I'm sure it'd be well received.

Thank you to Fruitdrop and Alice for the box.

This is a sponsored post, however I was not required to write a positive review; all views expressed are my own (or my colleagues'!).

Sunday 2 June 2013

Rhubarb Cupcakes

I keep seeing rhubarb in the shops at the moment and decided to buy some to bake with. The only way I've ever really had rhubarb in the past is in crumble and not for years and years. For some reason I can't recall, I had convinced myself that I didn't really like it very much. It seems that's not really true! 

The rhubarb I bought is the outdoor variety (the forced kind having gone out of season months ago) so the colour is more towards green rather than the pretty bright pink kind you see in the winter/spring months, but the flavour is still good.

Reduced rhubarb syrup - pretty in pink

I decided to make rhubarb cupcakes from one of my less-used baking books, The Primrose Bakery Book, which is the second from the Primrose Bakery (yes, I do have the first one too, and have actually made quite a lot out of it!). I can't find a legitimate copy of the recipe on the internet, but it involves chopping and stewing the rhubarb first to cook it and then draining the cooking syrup. This is then reduced to make a thick sticky syrup to add to the buttercream. The stewed rhubarb is added to the cupcake mixture. The only change I made to the recipe was to omit the 1tsp ground ginger called for and replace it with 1tsp vanilla extract. I found that after the specified 25 minutes the cakes were pretty much cooked but because I'd been a numpty and set my oven too low they weren't coloured at all (note to self: check oven temp) so I turned the oven up and left them a bit longer to colour. This meant that I was a little concerned they'd be dry and so used some of the reduced rhubarb syrup as a glaze.

Glazed cupcakes before buttercream

The buttercream recipe wasn't my most successful attempt. The recipe in the book calls for 110g butter and 500g icing sugar, along with the reduced rhubarb juice from stewing the rhubarb. I thought this sounded unbearably sweet and started out with 110g butter and about 200g icing sugar. Unfortunately the buttercream split slightly when I added the rhubarb juice and a little warm water to slacken the mixture, I'm not quite sure why. 

Buttercream in the making

I ended up trying to rescue it by adding more sugar (to about 300g total), whisking like mad and I also added about 30g melted white chocolate (as the chocolate is supposed to stabilise the fat/sugar emulsion). It worked out in the end and the buttercream didn't split again but it was too sweet for my tastes. I think I'll add more white chocolate and less sugar next time. Because the rhubarb syrup is added to the buttercream you get a natural, very pale pink colour. 

These were ok, not the best thing I've ever made - the cakes were on the moist/heavy side and as above the buttercream wasn't my favourite. I also found I couldn't really taste the rhubarb but I did discover that I like the smell of rhubarb cooking, which is a good thing!

Since these are an 'R' bake I'm going to enter them into Alphabakes, hosted this month by Ros of The More than Occasional Baker and cohosted by Caroline of Caroline Makes. I haven't managed many challenges over the past few months, but I'm off to an early start here!


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