Salted caramel popcorn

Salted caramel popcorn

Do you have movie nights in your house? We used to until the kids came along. Sleepless nights and all the other kid-things that needed our time and energy meant that 90 minutes of action or romantic dialogue was just too long. 30 minutes was perfect, 60 was achievable when I had managed an afternoon nap. We spent the last 4 years wondering if Leonard and Penny would make it (The Big Bang Theory), what the relation is between Red and Liz (The Blacklist) and if Mike Ross was ever going to get caught (Suits). However lately, I’ve noticed we aren’t as tired as we used to be. Maybe we are ready to go back watching movies.

With movies come movie snacks. And since we never really plan these things, we usually only have 1 thing in the house: corn. I store it in a cute jar and label it with the words: Corn for Popping. Yes, microwave popcorn is quicker, but homemade is cheaper and better and it only takes a couple of minutes longer to make. Plain popcorn is good, flavoured is better but popcorn with salted caramel is the best!

A spoonful of salted caramel sauce

The recipe for the sauce is part of this scrumptious cake by Linda Lomelino. I just love her photo’s, don’t you? For perfect homemade popcorn I turned to this beautiful blog and it does give you a perfect batch every time.

What’s your favourite movie snack? Or your favourite movie for that matter? 

 

Salted caramel popcorn

Ingredients for the popcorn:

corn for popping

3 tbsp of coconut oil

ingredients for the sauce:

115g sugar

75ml cream, heated (not boiled)

50g cold butter, cubed

1/4 tsp fleur de sel or coarse sea salt

Method:

1. In a pot with a lid, heat up the coconut oil on a medium heat.

2. Add 3 corn kernels and wait until they pop.

3. Once they have popped, add the rest of the kernels and make sure they form one, even layer at the bottom of the pot. Close the lid and remove the pot from the heat. Count to 30.

4. Put the pot back onto the heat and let the corn pop. You shouldn’t have to shake the pot but if you do feel like you need to move the corn around, move the pot back and forth so the kernels move on the service of the pot and don’t get thrown around.

5. When the popping die down and stops, take the pot off the heat and pour the popcorn into a bowl.

6. Pour the sugar in a saucepan and melt it over a medium heat. Then let it turn golden. If using a thermometer, it should read 170-175 degrees C.

7. Add the butter and stir so the butter melts and is fully incorporated. Be careful as the caramel will bubbel and splatter a bit.

8. Now add the cream and stir. Then add the salt and stir. The sauce should be smooth and creamy.

9. While still hot, pour it into a clean, heatproof, glass jar and let the sauce cool down at room temperature. You can now store it for about a week.

10. Preheat the oven to 150 degrees C and line a baking tray with baking paper.

11. Pour 100ml of salted caramel sauce onto the popcorn and use a wooden spoon to mix it all together. All popcorn pieces should be coated in the sauce.

12. Spread the popcorn in a single layer on the baking tray and place in the oven for 15 minutes.

13. Let the popcorn cool and eat straight away.

ENJOY!!

Adding salted caramel sauce to popcorn

Macarons with pineapple curd

Macarons with pineapple curd with blue and yellow background

Fact is that we all have a mother. She may have carried you lovingly in her stomach for 9 months or she may have had to rely on another woman to do this. Maybe, you were raised by an aunt, a grandmother, a sister. Maybe, come Mother’s Day you won’t have good memories of your own mom. Maybe, you’re a mother yourself and you’re looking forward to Sunday when your role in the lives of your children will get some extra attention. Or maybe, your mother’s day will be spent alone because of some event in your life meaning your children are currently not with you. Whatever the situation, whatever the past, this Sunday it’s time to celebrate the woman or women in your life that loved you and helped you become the fabulous person you are now.

Yellow peony on blue background

I’m a mother. I have been for the past 4 years and there are days I love it. And there are days I hate it. Sometimes, I feel like I’ve got this parent thing down. I see my kids play nicely together, they are happy, they sleep like angels and shower me with cuddles and kisses. More often than not though, the reality is that they fight, wake several times during the night (blanket fell off, midnight trip to the bathroom,etc.), refuse to get dressed and ignore my instructions to tidy up (this usually goes hand in hand with a blank stare of indifference to the situation that is an explosion of Duplo Lego blocks).

Ball of string

When do you get it? When do you figure this motherhood thing out? When does it get easier? The more time passes the more convinced I am that the answer is “No one knows”. And that is a hard fact to accept for someone like me. I like to know what I’m doing. I like to get it right. But I have to admit that as time goes by I am starting to accept that I will never be the perfect mother because there is no such thing. It just doesn’t exist. As long as I’m doing a good job 90% of the time I think we’ll be OK. And as long as I do exactly what it is I need to do for my kids, I think we’ll be OK.

Macarons with pineapple curd on a blue background with yellow peony

My own mother lives 800km away from me. She lives in Belgium, I live in Germany. We haven’t lived in the same country for 11 years. But she’s always got my back. She’s honest and understanding. She’s also one of the strongest women I know. I admire her. I love her. And I hope my kids will think the same of me when they are older. In the mean time, I will happily settle for a snot-covered kiss while being “treated” by doctor S. and Doctor K. by means of hammering IKEA toy bolts into my poorly tummy (because that’s how you treat stomach ache apparently).

macarons on blue background with yellow peony

Macarons with pineapple curd filling

(approx, 20 macarons)

Ingredients for the macarons:

110 finely ground almonds

160g powdered sugar

60g sugar

3 egg whites

Ingredients for the pineapple curd:

250ml pineapple puree, strained

100g sugar

3 egg yolks

2 tbsp corn starch

2 tbsp butter

Method:

1. First make the curd so it has time to cool. Mix all the ingredients, except the butter, in saucepan with a whisk. Then heat the mixture on a low-medium heat, stirring constantly until it thickens. Remove the curd from the heat and add the butter. Stir until all the butter is melted and incorporated. Leave to cool.

2. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C.

3. Use a foodprocessor to mix the ground almond and powdered sugar until it is really fine. Then sift the mixture.

4. Mix the egg whites and sugar in a glass bowl. Place the bowl on a saucepan with a couple of cm of water in it. Place over a medium heat. Don’t let the water boil!

5. Stir the mixture constantly as you use a thermometer to check the mixture heating up to 55 degrees C. When it reaches 55 degrees C, transfer the mixture to a standmixer with whisk (or use a handmixer) and whip it on a high seeing until you get a soft meringue.

6. Add half of the almond-powders sugar mixture and fold it in. Then add the other half and fold it all in so no lumps remain.

7. Spoon the mixture into a piping bag.

8. On a lined baking tray, pipe small circles about 5cm in diameter.

9. Carefully, tap the baking tray on your working surface. This will get rid of any bubbles and spread the circles out a bit.

10. Bake for 15-17 minutes.

11. Leave to cool.

12. Use a piping bag or teaspoon to fill the macarons with the pineapple curd.

macarons with pineapple curd

My macarons aren’t perfect. But then neither is being a mother.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Enjoy!

Baking with kids – Top hats

 

top hat sweet with yellow smartie

The Top hat. If it hadn’t been for my daughter I don’t think I would ever have come across these treats. Backtrack 2 years and we were still living the countryside-life in beautiful Northern Ireland. My daughter was 18 months and our son was just born. Two days a week, S. would happily trot up the street to her nursery. Some days she would come home with a painting or some sort of art project, but now and again she would present us with something that resembled a cookie or cupcake. I’m sure it took every last bit of her concentration to put the sprinkles on top of the icing. Or place the raisin in the exact spot she wanted it. It was always nearly a shame to eat her creations.

child's hand putting smart on top of marshmallow

So one day she came home with one of these cute sweets. A top hat. And all it really is, is marshmallow, chocolate and smarties. And they are so easy to make. She helped make them when she was 18 months and now my 2 year old son is also loving making these fluffy creations. The perfect young toddler’s “baking” project.

child's hand picking smarties

Baking with kids – Top Hats

20 mini cupcake cases

100gr melted chocolate

20 big marshmallows to make top hats

(more marshmallows to taste, poke and pull apart)

20 coloured smarties

(more smarties to eat, spill and lick before sticking on the top hats)

Method

1. Melt the chocolate (parents or older kids). I prefer to melt my chocolate in a glass, heatproof bowl set on top of a saucepan with about 3 cm (1 inch) of simmering water. I take the bowl off the pan (careful, it’ll be hot) when nearly all the chocolate is melted. I then stir to melt the remainder. Set the bowl to one side to cool slightly while you and the kids get the cupcake cases ready.

2. Spoon 2-3 tbsp of melted chocolate into the cupcake cases.

3. Put a marshmallow in the middle of the chocolate filled cupcake case.

4. Use a teaspoon to put a generous drop of melted chocolate on top of the marshmallow and stick a smartie on.

5. Put all the top hats on a tray and put them in the fridge for at least 30 minutes so the chocolate cools and becomes solid again.

6. Taste and have lots of wipes/wet cloth/napkins ready because the chocolate will leave its mark.

As with all my recipes for baking with kids, have a look at my tips and tricks. In the end, you know your child best and what her or his abilities are. The important thing is to let them try things and to have fun.

Enjoy!

making top hats

Belgian style chocolate truffles

Three chocolate truffles on a white heartIf you follow me on Twitter you will have seen my panic about the fact that tomorrow is St. Valentine’s. And the fact that I am totally not prepared to shower my loved one with a card, small gift, romantic dinner for two, a glass of something bubbly, …

But if I’m totally honest, P. and I don’t really celebrate Valentine’s. OK, I admit that he usually buys me something small which of course I appreciate but if he didn’t I wouldn’t mind. Why? Let me paint you a romantic picture of our relationship. Be sure to find the humour and sarcasm in this list.

Point 1: P. celebrates his birthday 2 days after the feast of love and we prefer to celebrate that. Why don’t we celebrate both days? See point 2.

Point 2: We have a nearly 2 year old and a 3 1/2 year old running around. If you have kids, you’ll need no more explanation on this subject. If you don’t, here’s how it is in our house:

“Want to go out for (insert event) tomorrow? There’s a new restaurant on the other side of town serving the most amazing (insert favourite food).”

“Sure… I wonder if the babysitter is available at such short notice? I’ll give her a call.”… “She can do it! I’ll book a table.”

“They only have a 20:30 slot for us. What do you think?”

“By the time we get there, have a 3 course dinner and get back it’ll be midnight or possibly later if the place is amazing… Who is going to get up tomorrow at 6am when the kids decide it’s time to do arts and crafts? You or me?”

Why don’t we plan ahead? See point 3.

Point 3: Planning ahead is almost impossible if you are a family with small kids. If you try, no doubt one of the following will happen: 1 child is sick OR more than 1 child is sick.

So, in our house, romantic gestures are a very much a spontaneous thing. Sort of like: “The kids are in bed, they are actually asleep, quick, get the take-away and I’ll get 2 cold beers out of the fridge.” or “I walked past this shop the other day and they had a book I thought was perfect for you but I couldn’t go in and get it because our son was having a tantrum and our daughter decided walking was overrated and sat down in the middle of the pavement.”

So, for all of us who’s life a matter of last minute decisions and last minute plans, here’s my recipe for Belgian style truffles. 3 ingredients, very little effort involved and I bet you have everything in the house.

Row of truffles on red paper

 Belgian style truffles

(makes 20-30 truffles depending on size)

For the truffles:

200g good quality dark chocolate

100 ml whipping cream

50g butter

optional: 1 tbsp of your favourite liquor (i.e. whisky, Amaretto, Grand Marnier)

For the coating:

200g good quality dark chocolate, in pieces

Method:

Chop the chocolate into very small pieces and put in a bowl. The smaller the better as they will melt quicker.

Heat the cream in a saucepan until it nearly starts to simmer.

Add the butter and stir until it is completely melted.

Pour the cream-butter mixture over the chopped chocolate. Stir as the chocolate melts. At first it will look spotty but it will all come together and you will end up with a shiny, smooth mixture. Add the liquor if using.

Cool in the fridge for about an hour. The mixture will set.

Belgian truffles tend to be oval and not round. Use a teaspoons to scoop out a truffle. Irregular shapes are OK, if not a must.

Put the truffles on a silicone mat or baking paper. Refrigerate while you make the coating.

For the coating: Fill a saucepan with a small amount of water, about 3 cm/1 inch. Let it get warm but not beyond simmering point. Put the chocolate pieces in a glass or metal bowl and let the bowl sit on the pan without it touching the water. Stir as the chocolate melts. Once all the pieces are melted, take the bowl of the pan. Be careful of the steam coming out from under the bowl and use oven mitts to hold the bowl as it will be hot.

Use a fork on which you rest a truffle and dip it in the chocolate. Let excess chocolate drip back into the bowl.

Place the coated truffle on a silicone mat or baking paper and let it set. Repeat until all truffles are coated.

Close up row of trufflesThese truffles will not only melt in your mouth but also in your hand so eat fast! That’s the beauty of good quality chocolates, they will cover your hands and fingers. And since these are made with fresh cream and butter they will not last too long either. But try not to keep them in the fridge. As a Belgian and lover of chocolate, storing chocolate in the fridge is a big No-No.

Have a lovely Valentine’s whether you are celebrating or not. P. and I will be in IKEA buying our daughter a toddler bed… maybe we’ll hold hands and steal a kiss as we browse the duvet cover aisle.

ENJOY!

truffles in a row focus on middle one

truffels on and next to white heart