Sunday, 25 November 2007

Snickers and Peanut Butter Muffins

These muffins have a special charm: I think the ingredients speak for themselves - Nigella Lawson

These muffins are just another example of what my sister calls "Nigella's insane levels of indulgence" - Bells

And both Nigella and Bells' sister are right - the ingredients definitely say to me "this is insanely indulgent, but just a little bit special". How could it not be with a recipe that contains these:
The verdict:
Unusual or substituted ingredients: Hey, did anyone know that 6 tablespoons of peanut butter is over half a jar?? I didn't, until I made these! And while some may call peanut butter and 3 snickers bars unusual, the only substitution I made was regular caster sugar for golden caster sugar.
Special utensils or cookware: Standard utensils and cookware all the way. I have to say, it is hard to get an exact measure of a tablespoon of peanut butter (it's just so sticky!) and so I guestimated my tablespoons. I probably ended up putting a bit too much in, which made the muffins a little dry or crumbly, but they were still quite edible!

Repeatability: These were good, but won't be the first on the list to make again, I have to say! Sauciness: Well, come on, how could they not be, with 3 chopped snickers bars!! The caramel and chocolate goes all goey and yum, but the slight saltiness of the peanut butter ensures they aren't too sickly sweet.
Overall pleasure level: Hmmm, this is a hard one. I think 6.5 for these. So very very wrong but so very very right!

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Nigellan Flatbread

Look, the name is meant to be a bit of a joke.....Nigella Lawson

The verdict: I've long wanted to make these partly because I think the name is amusing (she's referring to the black seeds, called Nigella Seeds) and partly because I love the idea of making such a take away staple. I've only ever had flat breads from Indian restaurants and while I love them, I fancied the idea of making my own. But don't worry, I won't be making these each time we get Indian takeaway. That would just be silly.

Unusual or substituted ingredients: Being a bread making veteran now, I have a well stocked cupboard for such things, but you'll need to get some instant yeast and Nigella seeds. I found them easily a long time ago (remember the Poppy seed incident?) They're a kind of onion seed, I believe.

Special utensils or cookware: None. Just bowls and baking trays!

Repeatability: I will do these again. And again. And again. They were astoundingly easy because you don't let the dough rise as long as regular bread (an hour at most) and they only take 8 mins in the oven. I made them for a dinner party and as they cooked, I whipped them out and wrapped them all layered in foil to keep them warm in a very low oven. I served them with fresh dips.

Sauciness: I think my guests were incredibly impressed. 'You made these? Seriously?' Talk about a feel good cooking experience!

Overall pleasure level: See above. Huge feel good result. As Nigella herself would say, maximum pleasure for minimum effort. 10/10

Thursday, 1 November 2007

Baklava Muffins

...these taste so good: gooey, crunchy, soft and filling; sticky buns for the slapdash cook - Nigella Lawson

The verdict:

I must have been feeling very slapdash the day I made these because everything just felt right.

Unusual or substituted ingredients: The recipe asked for demerera sugar but I was all out so I just used plain raw sugar.

The wonder of these muffins is that you make a mixture of chopped walnuts, demerera or raw sugar and cinnamon which will later make a kind of filling. I struggled not to eat too much of this mixture myself.

Special utensils or cookware: Just a muffin pan and muffin papers. Sadly, I ran out of all the muffin papers I needed. Who knew you would ever run out of muffin papers when they come in a pack of 200?

After you've made the plain muffin mixture, you half fill a cup, add the filling (Yum!) then add more mixture. Finally, top it off with a sprinkling of the remaining filling.

And yes, I did have some filling left. I hadn't eaten ALL of it.

Then bake.

Repeatability: I can see myself making these many, many times.

Sauciness: Given that baklava is one my personal favourite middle eastern desserts, I think it's pure genius to replicate the idea in muffins. And the true, saucy joy? You pour honey over them at the end of the baking, while they're still warm! Finger licking sticky goodness.

Overall pleasure level: 9 out of 10 for me. Near perfection. I should have got a photo of the inside of them, where the nuts and sugar make a river of sweet, crunchy delight that shows up when you bite into them. Wonderful.