Monday, February 16, 2015

Orange Raspberry Napoleons and Downton Abbey

Tonight was the seventh installment of the fifth season of Downton Abbey.  What a ride it was!  I don't know what I enjoyed more, Tom Branson taking charge at dinner, Violet confessing she enjoys Isobel's company, Lord Merton's TERRIBLE sons, or Mary's stunning hat.  The hour flew!
Retrieved from PBS online episode

The frosting on the proverbial cake was this... Orange Raspberry Napoleons! 

Yum-MEEE!!!  My process follows.


1 box frozen puff pastry
confectioners sugar
Raspberry Sauce (go here for instructions)
250 ml milk
zest of one orange, finely grated
3 large egg yolks, room temperature
50g granulated sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
100 ml heavy cream (and a little extra if you would like to use in the layering process)

Thaw the frozen puff pastry.  Line two baking sheets with parchment.  Place one sheet of pastry on each baking sheet and cut each into a series of equal sized squares.  There should be about 12 small squares per sheet.  Bake according to package instructions and allow to cool on a baking rack.

In a medium saucepan, heat milk with orange zest. 

In a large heatproof bowl, whisk together the yolks, sugar and cornstarch.

Temper the egg mixture by quickly whisking in a slow, steady stream of hot milk. 

Once tempered, return the mixture to the saucepan and heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture begins to bubble and becomes a thick custard.

Remove the custard from the heat and pour into a bowl.  Top with a piece of plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming.  Refrigerate for two hours.

Whip the heavy cream and place back into the refrigerator until ready to serve. While you are at it, make a little extra for use in the layering process. You won't be sorry.

Once the custard is cool, gently fold in the whipped cream to form a pastry cream.

To assemble the napoleons, cut two squares of the puff pastry in half.  Place half of one square on a plate then top with a dollop of the pastry cream. 

Add a drizzle of raspberry sauce.  Top with the other half of the puff pastry. 

Add a dollop of whipped cream.  Top with another half of pastry followed by a dollop of pastry cream, drizzle of raspberry sauce, and top with the final half of pastry.  Dust the entire form with confectioner's sugar.  Serve with a cuppa tea!

Now... where can I find one of those divine cloche hats?!
Retrieved from PBS online episode

Monday, February 09, 2015

Downton Night - Chocolate Fudge Hot-Pot Pudding

Tonight's Downton Abbey was fabulous.  I squealed with delight when Lady Mary spun around in that hairdresser's chair to reveal her stylish bob. I am a sucker for short doos.  I loved Cora's honesty with Robert.  Does she know about the maid a few seasons ago?  Likely not but hey, she knows his nature!  Are you ready to see if anything will transpire between the Russian prince and the Dowager?  Hmm... she looks a little older than he is.  I do feel sorry for poor Daisy who is still reeling from Ms. Bunting's leaving.  I do like how she and Moseley are forming a bond over education.  Times are changing!!  And poor Isis!  I sure hope she makes a full recovery.

The only thing that made this installment even better was the amazing Chocolate Fudge Hot-Pot Pudding I enjoyed right along with it.  The recipe comes from The Great British Bake Off: How To Bake The Perfect Victoria Sponge And Other Baking Secrets and it is to die for.

If you love chocolate, like I love chocolate, you will be hooked from the first bite... well, likely before.  If the scent of chocolate while making the sauce doesn't hook you, I am not sure you LOVE chocolate.

Caution:  Because the recipe came from a British cookbook, it is not written in the American style of cups.  I did convert everything to ounces so you can better estimate using common measuring methods.  However, if you have a kitchen scale and prefer to use it, the measurement for grams is in parentheses.


4 1/2 ounces of unsalted butter, softened (125g)
4 1/2 ounces of superfine sugar (125g)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 1/2 ounces self rising flour (75g)
8 tablespoons cocoa
2 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon milk
4 1/2 ounces light brown sugar (125g)
300 milliliters boiling water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter a 2 to 2 1/2 quart casserole dish and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat butter until cream.  Add sugar and vanilla and continue to beat until the mixture becomes light and fluffy.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating to incorporate with each addition.

Sift flour and 4 tablespoons of the cocoa into the bowl and fold into the butter, sugar, egg and vanilla mixture.

Add chopped chocolate and milk.  Transfer pudding to the buttered dish and spread evenly.

In a heat proof bowl, sift the final 4 tablespoons of the cocoa with the brown sugar.  Whisk in the boiling water until the contents become thin and even.  Seriously, the aroma is INTOXICATING!

Pour the sauce over the pudding and bake 30 to 35 minutes, until the pudding is firm to the touch and the sauce is bubbling.

Serve immediately with vanilla ice cream or freshly whipped cream.

I am thrilled Lady Edith finally decided what she wanted and took her child back.  I feel awful for Mrs. Drew who was visibly heartbroken to lose Marigold.  Let's hope poor Edith can craft a happy life for herself.  Until next week!  Now, let me enjoy this divine chocolate dessert.

By the way, this would make an INCREDIBLE dessert for Valentine's Day.  Just sayin'.

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Valentine T-Shirts

We love our holidays around here!  In preparation for the upcoming Valentine's Day parties at school, I painted shirts for my littles.

Cute, right?! The best part is it is soo easy!  Here's how you can create a shirt of your very own.

1. Gather the materials.

  • Plain white t-shirt
  • Acrylic paint in seasonal colors
  • Sponge paint brush
  • Paper doily
  • Tape
  • Cardboard

2. Place the t-shirt on a sheet of cardboard to prevent the paint from bleeding through to the other side. Center the doily a couple of inches under the neckline of the t-shirt and tape into place.

3. Using the sponge brush, dab paint into the nooks of the doily.  Be sure to keep the paint within the borders of the doily.  You may need to use your finger nail to prevent it from shifting.

4. Set the shirt aside to dry.  Once dry, it can be washed and is ready to wear!

Bread and Butter Pudding - Downton Night 5

Downton Night... one of the most anticipated nights of the week.  I always look forward to the latest from the Granthams and my husband always looks forward to discovering the new British dessert in which we will indulge.

Tonight, I tried my hand at Bread and Butter Pudding.

Seriously, the British need to do something about the names of their desserts.  This did not sound terribly appetizing but I trusted a couple of friends who assured me I would like it.  As soon as it went into the oven, I knew they were right.  The aroma in my kitchen was sheer torture.  It was soo hard to wait for it to finish baking!


2 sticks of butter, softened (plus more to butter the baking dish)
1 jar preserves (I used apricot but any you like will work)
20 slices of white sandwich bread, crusts removed
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 cups milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 eggs
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 355 degrees Fahrenheit and grease a 4 pint/2 liter baking dish with butter. Cut the crusts from 20 slices of white sandwich bread.

Spread each with butter and preserves and cut into triangles.

In a saucepan, heat milk and cream without boiling.  In a large bowl, whisk sugar, spices, eggs and vanilla until light and frothy.

Continue whisking while slowly adding the hot milk mixture.

Once together, pile in the bread triangles and gently fold in until all pieces of bread are coated.  Allow to soak for 30 minutes.

Pour the bread mixture into the buttered baking dish and place on a baking sheet lined with foil.  Bake about 80 to 90 minutes, until top is golden and egg mixture is set.

Serve hot with fresh whipped cream and a cup of tea.

Now, bring on 1924!  I need to know what is going on with creepy Thomas and whether or not Edith is going to come clean about her baby girl.  Will Bunting get kicked to the curb by Branson?  Will Lady Mary be a little firmer with giving her beau the boot?  What is going on with Lady Grantham's creepy admirer? Will the Dowager and her Russian Prince reignite that spark from years ago? Let's hope tonight's episode gives us a few answers.  Even if we are denied, this Bread and Butter Pudding is worth the time spent viewing.  I am sure Mrs. Padmore would agree.