Mini meringues add a lovely touch to your dessert table and, with a long shelf life (up to three months in a dry, airtight container), they are the perfect favours wrapped in cellophane bags. This recipe makes approximately 100 meringues.
INGREDIENTS 100g egg whites (3 large eggs) * Pinch of salt * 100g caster sugar *1 tsp vanilla extract * 100g icing sugar, sifted • Pink, blue and yellow liquid food colour
EQUIPMENT 3 large plastic piping bags * 3 star piping nozzles
METHOD Preheat oven to 80°C/gas mark ¼. Line two baking trays with greaseproof paper. Place egg whites and pinch of salt into the bowl of an electric mixer (make sure it is completely grease-free) and whisk at high speed. As the whites thicken, slowly sprinkle the caster sugar into the mix. Be careful not to over-whisk. Add the vanilla extract and slowly fold in the icing sugar using a rubber spatula. Separate the mixture into three parts; keep the first white, mix the second with pink liquid food colour and the third with blue and yellow liquid food colour for a pastel aqua shade. Place a star nozzle in each piping bag then fill each one with a different coloured mixture. Pipe little rosettes onto the lined baking trays. Place in the preheated oven for 2-3 hours or until they have dried out.
ICE CREAM CAKE POPS
Peggy’s own version of the so-now cake pop features dipping fondant or fondant patissiere. We love these for a fun summer reception. This recipe makes approximately 12 cake pops.
INGREDIENTS 400g vanilla sponge * 600g soft ganache (cream and chocolate mix, cooled) * 12 small ice cream wafer cones * Approximately 1 kg caster sugar or enough to fill a small bowl * 600g liquid fondant (also called fondant patissiere) * 1 tsp glucose * A small amount of simple sugar syrup * A selection of food colours * Sugar sprinkles
EQUIPMENT Tray, lined with greaseproof paper * Rubber gloves (optional) * Plastic piping bag * 12 plastic drinking cups * Sugar thermometer * Small plastic bowls (fill with 1kg caster sugar and compress as much as possible to act as a stand for the ice cream cones while the fondant icing sets)
METHOD To make the cake balls Break the sponge into crumbs and place in a mixing bowl. Add the ganache a little at a time and combine until all the cake crumbs stick together. Using your hands, shape into 12 balls and place them on the prepared tray. Chill in the freezer until firmly set.
To assemble Place the remaining ganache into a plastic piping bag and cut 2.5cm (1in) from the tip. Pipe into a wafer cone until it just reaches the top. Place one chilled cake ball on top and press down to ensure it sticks to the ganache. Stand the cone in a plastic cup and place it back in the freezer to set. Repeat for remaining cones and cake balls.
To decorate Microwave the fondant on a medium heat until runny. Don’t let it boil. Stir in the glucose and add sugar syrup if required. You want a thick pouring consistency with a dipping temperature of 48-52°C, so the fondant sets immediately. Divide the fondant into equal parts and mix with your food colours. Use small bowls with enough depth for dipping. Take one cake pop at a time and dip upside down into the fondant until it reaches the edge of the cone. Lift out and spin the remaining fondant off. Top with sugar sprinkles while the fondant is still soft. Push the cone into a sugar-filled bowl and leave to set. You can place a few cones next to each other but make sure they don’t touch. Cake pops last up to five days at room temperature. Don’t refrigerate as the fondant will melt.
MINI CINNAMON DOUGHNUTS
These are lovely little treats for an afternoon tea-style reception, and – hurrah! – they’re also low in fat as they are baked rather than fried. This recipe makes approximately 36 doughnuts.
INGREDIENTS 110g plain flour * ½ tsp baking powder * ¼ tsp ground cinnamon * Pinch of salt * 65g caster sugar * 25g light brown sugar * 1 medium egg * 45g whole milk * 40g buttermilk * ½ tsp vanilla extract * 15g unsalted butter, melted * 600g liquid fondant (also called fondant patissiere) * 1 tsp glucose * A small amount of simple sugar syrup (if required) * A selection of liquid food colours * 50g plain chocolate, melted
EQUIPMENT 3 mini doughnut oven trays * Spray oil * Plastic piping bag (optional) * Sugar thermometer
METHOD Preheat oven to 160°C/gas mark 3. Prepare the trays by greasing each mould with spray oil. Sift flour, baking powder, ground cinnamon, salt and sugars into a mixing bowl. In a separate bowl whisk together the egg, milk, buttermilk, vanilla extract and melted butter. Pour the liquid ingredients onto the dry ingredients, mixing briefly until just combined. Pipe or pour the mix into the prepared trays, filling the moulds halfway up. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the tops spring back to the touch and have turned lightly browned. Microwave the fondant on a medium heat until runny. Don’t let it boil. Stir in the glucose and add sugar syrup if required. You want a thick pouring consistency with a dipping temperature of 48-52°C, so the fondant sets immediately. Divide fondant between small, deep bowls and mix with your food colours. Dip each doughnut into the fondant until half coated. Leave to set slightly then drizzle with melted chocolate using a teaspoon or fork. Leave to set.
Made in a selection of pretty colours, these cookies make fabulous thank-you presents or favours. This recipe makes approximately 30-40 biscuits.
INGREDIENTS 200g unsalted butter, softened * 200g caster sugar * Seeds of 1 vanilla pod * Pinch of salt * 1 medium egg * 400g plain flour, plus extra for dusting * 600g sugar paste * 2 tsp gum tragacanth (natural gum) * Yellow, orange, pink and red paste food colour * A small amount of white vegetable fat (optional) * A small amount of apricot jam, sieved
EQUIPMENT 4-5cm (1½-2in) round pastry cutter * Chrysanthemum silicon mould (Peggy uses a mould from First Impressions)
METHOD Preheat the oven to 175°C/gas mark 3. Line two baking trays with greaseproof paper.
To make the biscuits Cream the butter, sugar, vanilla seeds and salt in a mixing bowl until smooth. Beat the egg lightly in another bowl and slowly add to the butter mixture while still whisking. Sift the flour and mix until the dough just comes together. Gather the dough into a ball, wrap in cling film and chill for at least 30 minutes or until it feels firm and cool. Place the dough on a floured surface, knead briefly and roll to a thickness of 4–5mm. Using a round cookie cutter, cut out 30 biscuits and place onto the prepared baking trays. Chill for 30 minutes or until cool and firm. Bake for 6 minutes or until the biscuits are golden brown around the edges. Let them rest for 30 minutes outside the oven.
To decorate Knead the sugar paste with the gum tragacanth until it starts feeling firm and stretchy. Divide the sugar paste into four equal parts. Mix the first with a small amount of yellow paste food colour to a pale lemon shade, the second with orange to a pale peach shade and the third with pink to a pale pink shade. To create a coral shade, combine a little of the red and orange paste food colours and use to colour the fourth part. If the sugar paste sticks to your fingers while colouring, add a small amount of vegetable fat. When the paste is coloured, cover with cling film to prevent it from drying out and leave to rest for 30 minutes to firm up a little. Using the mould, make a chrysanthemum blossom for each cookie using the different colour sugar pastes. Gently heat the apricot jam in a saucepan. Brush a thin layer over each cookie, place the blossoms on top and leave to set.
TRIPLE BERRY CHEESECAKES
Make your own dessert course (and every guest’s mouth water!) with these summery dreams. This recipe makes 16 individual cheesecakes.
INGREDIENTS For the biscuit base 100g melted butter * 2 tbsp runny honey * 200g digestive biscuits, finely crushed * 1 tsp ground cinnamon
For the cheesecake 6 gelatine leaves (Peggy uses Supercook Platinum) * 100ml blueberry purée * 100ml raspberry purée * 100ml strawberry purée (if you can’t find berry purées, make your own by puréeing fresh berries in a blender and passing them through a fine sieve) * 620g full-fat cream cheese * 185g caster sugar * 210g crème fraîche * 640ml double or whipping cream
EQUIPMENT Sixteen 5cm (2in) round dessert rings or mousse moulds lined with 5cm (2in) deep acetate strips * Three plastic piping bags
METHOD To make the biscuit base Melt the butter with the honey in a saucepan. Add the crushed biscuits and cinnamon and mix until combined. Carefully press a tablespoonful of the biscuit mixture into the bottom of each mould, keeping the sides as clean as possible. To make the cheesecake Place the gelatine leaves into a bowl and soak them in cold water. Gently warm each of the fruit purées separately, squeeze the water from the gelatine leaves and dissolve two leaves in each of the hot fruit purées. Set aside to cool. Place the cream cheese and caster sugar in a bowl and mix together until smooth. Add the crème fraîche and whip to a soft-peak consistency, taking care not to overwhip. Divide the mixture into three equal parts. Once the fruit purées have cooled to room temperature, mix each one separately with a third of the cream cheese mixture, using a whisk. Work quickly from this point on as the gelatine can set. Divide the whipped cream into three equal parts. Gently fold through each of the three cream cheese mixtures until combined. Starting with strawberry, followed by raspberry and then blueberry, layer the three fruit mixtures in the lined rings or moulds. (If you don’t have piping bags spoon the mixtures carefully into the moulds instead.) If using bags, fill a plastic piping bag with each mixture. Snip 2.5cm (1in) from the tip and pipe a layer over the bottom of the biscuit base to about halfway up the sides. Repeat for the two other fruit mixtures until you reach the top. Flatten the top layers with a palette knife or the back of a spoon. Chill for at least four hours or until set. Make up to 3 days in advance and store in the fridge. De-mould and remove the acetate strips just before serving.
PEGGY’S SIGNATURE MACAROONS
This recipe takes some patience but if you have a couple of bridesmaids who are dab hands in the kitchen, it’s so worthwhile. Peggy likes to use her own purple raspberry and rose jam for the filling, but you can create your own flavour combinations. This recipe makes approximately 50 macaroons or 100 shells.
INGREDIENTS 200g ground almonds * 200g icing sugar * 200g egg whites * 200g caster sugar * 100ml water * Food colour (optional)
EQUIPMENT Permanent marker pen * Round piping nozzle, 8mm (½in) in diameter (Peggy uses No. 12 from Wilton) * Small heart-shape cookie cutter (optional) * Sugar thermometer * Plastic piping bags
METHOD Preheat the oven to 150°C/gas mark 2. Cut sheets of baking parchment to fit a couple of oven trays. Using the fat end of a large round piping nozzle and a small heart-shape cookie cutter as templates, draw circles and hearts on the reverse side of the parchment at even intervals. In a food processor briefly pulse together the ground almonds and icing sugar until mixed well, sift into a large bowl and set aside. To make an Italian meringue, place the egg white in a clean, dry bowl. Reserve one tablespoon of the egg white to mix with the colouring later on. Place the caster sugar in a small saucepan with the water. Dissolve the sugar over a medium heat, then bring the sugar syrup to the boil. Using a sugar thermometer, measure the temperature of the syrup. When it reaches 115°C, slowly whisk the egg whites. Gradually increasing the whisking speed until the eggs are white and frothy. Once the syrup reaches 121°C, slow down the whisking and carefully pour the hot syrup into the egg whites in a thin steady stream – pour down the side of the bowl so that the syrup doesn’t splash onto the whisk. Once all the syrup has been incorporated, continue whisking quickly until the meringue has cooled to room temperature; this will take about 5-10 minutes.
Adding colour Once the meringue has cooled, add your preferred colouring to the reserved tablespoon of egg white and then whisk into the meringue. Using the rubber spatula, fold the ground almond and sugar mixture into the meringue in three batches. Fold gently but thoroughly to ensure the mix is loose and smooth when piped. The amount you fold in here and the consistency you achieve is crucial; you want the mix to be even and fall easily off the spatula, but not so liquid that it doesn’t keep a good round shape when piped. Place the nozzle into the piping bag. Using a rubber spatula, half fill the piping bag with macaroon mixture.
Piping Use a little of the macaroon mix to secure the sheets of baking parchment in place; smear a small amount of mixture on each corner of the underside of the sheet. Using the circles you have drawn as a guide, pipe small rounds of mixture. To finish piping, stop applying pressure to the bag and flick the nozzle round in a small circular motion as you pull away. This avoids leaving a peak on top of the macaroon. For the hearts, pipe a blob at the top half of the heart and then drag it down to the bottom. Repeat on the other side. If the mixture is the correct consistency, any small trails should sink back to leave a smooth surface.
Drying out Once the macaroons are all piped, gently tap the tray on the work surface to bring any large air bubbles to the surface and pop them with a cocktail stick. Leave the macaroons to dry out a little on the surface; about 15-30 minutes in dry conditions. You should be able to gently touch the surface of the macaroon without your finger sticking.
Baking As soon as the macaroons have a dry skin, place them on the lower shelves in the oven and immediately reduce the heat to 135°C/gas mark 1. If your oven bakes from the top, place a tray on the shelf above the macaroons to prevent the tops from browning too much. Bake for approximately 15 minutes, turning the trays halfway through the cooking time. The macaroons are done when the tops are dry. As soon as they are done, remove the tray from the oven and transfer the baking paper, with the macaroons still attached, directly onto a wet tea towel. Leave for a few minutes and then remove the macaroons.
Storage Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two days or in the freezer for longer. Sandwich with your chosen filling on the day you want to eat and once filled put in the fridge for one hour before eating – this helps the macaroons to soften and the flavours to develop.
TROUBLESHOOTING Egg whites Separate a few days in advance and leave uncovered in the fridge to allow some of the moisture to evaporate and strengthen the whites. Bring the egg whites to room temperature before using. If in doubt, add a teaspoon of Meri-White to the egg whites to counteract any ‘watery-ness’. Drying It is important to let your macaroons dry on the surface before baking. If you don’t, the tops won’t be smooth and produce a good ‘foot’ on the bottom. Baking Every oven is different, so get to know your own oven and what temperature works best. Generally, a low temperature is important to prevent over-browning of the macaroons and a low shelf for the same reason. Some chefs find the macaroons can bake too quickly on the bottom and use two trays, one on top of the other. If you bake the macaroons for too long, they will lift easily off the paper but be a bit dry and possibly over-brown; to counteract the dryness. place them in an airtight container in the fridge for a day to soften. If they are not baked enough, they will be too soft and not lift off the paper properly; they will also sink back down and develop what look like grease spots on the top.
Give coffee and speeches a colourful flourish with these dome-shaped puffs. Play with shapes by spreading the marshmallow on a tray and getting creative with cookie cutters. This recipe makes approximately 60-70 small puffs.
INGREDIENTS 280ml water * 6 sheets gelatine * 620g caster sugar * 130g glucose * 70g egg whites (approximately 2 large eggs), at room temperature * Pinch of salt * Seeds of 1 vanilla pod * Pink, purple and green liquid food colour
EQUIPMENT Sugar thermometer * Plastic piping bags * Silicon trays with dome shape wells of approximately 4.5cm (1¾in) diameter * Spray oil
METHOD Place the gelatine in a saucepan with 130ml of water. Leave to soak for 10-15 minutes. Gently warm until the leaves have dissolved. Or dissolve the gelatine by microwaving it in short bursts on a low–medium heat. Place 320g of the caster sugar and the glucose in a small saucepan with the remaining water. Gently warm over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved, then turn up the heat and bring to the boil. Measure the temperature of the syrup using a sugar thermometer. When it reaches 115°C place the egg whites in a mixing bowl with the dissolved gelatine and salt and start whisking. Once the syrup reaches 121°C, slow down the whisking and carefully pour the syrup into the egg whites in a thin steady stream – pour down the side of the bowl so the syrup doesn’t splash the whisk. Once all the syrup has been incorporated, continue whisking quickly until the marshmallow has cooled to room temperature. Once it has cooled, add the vanilla seeds. Divide the mix into equal parts, fold the liquid food colour through with a spatula and place each colour into a separate piping bag. Cut approximately 2.5cm (1in) from the tip of the bag and pipe the marshmallow into the greased moulds. Leave to dry for several hours. Divide the remaining caster sugar evenly between 3 bowls and mix each with a few drops of liquid food colour, matching the colours of the marshmallows. Sift out lumps before use. Once the marshmallows are fully set, remove from the moulds and roll in their coordinating sprinkling sugars. Leave to dry uncovered overnight before packing into airtight containers and store for up to five days.
READY TO GET BAKING FOR YOUR WEDDING?
For more delicious recipes by Peggy Porschen, see her new book Boutique Baking, published by Quadrille (quadrille.co.uk), £20.
MORE DIY RECEPTION IDEAS…
Print out and try these nifty reception ideas from craft book Everything Alice