Thursday, 19 December 2013

The Alternative Christmas Pudding

If you put a plate of Christmas pudding in front of me, I'll quite happily eat it.  Although there will be no excitement.  Apart from of course when it's set on fire.   I'm all for tradition but think the time has come  - as far as puddings go -for it to be broken.  I came across this meringue, tower sensation in Grazia this week and think that its too magical not to be part of Christmas.  It's made by the wonderful Meringue Girls, who if you don't know their work, have a look, its incredible.
Below they've shared how you can re-create this vision.

Ingredients for the Meringue
* 400g egg white (we use Two Chicks Free Range Liquid Egg White) *800g caster sugar * 500g pistachios, ground. 
For the brandy cream: 600ml double cream * 2 tablespoons icing sugar  * 1 shot of brandy, or 2 tbsp of rosewater if you want to keep it booze free. 
To decorate: edible glitter * 1 punnet of figs sliced into 1/6ths  * 1 punnet of strawberries  * 1 punnet of physylis (cape gooseberries)  * A handful of dried cranberries  * edible flowers  or any other Christmasy decorations you like! Holly sprigs, gold leaf or sprinkles, a heart-shaped sparkler...
How To Make:
  • Preheat oven to 200?C. Line 6-7 small flat baking trays with baking paper and draw out your seven Christmas tree layers on each sheet.  Draw the largest circle on your first sheet of baking paper. Use your serving plate/tier as a stencil.
  • Once you have your circle, draw a five-point star within it, making your star as fat as possible. Get your next sheet of baking paper and trace over the star, but making the star 2cm smaller. Repeat until you have your final 7th baby star for the top of the tree. 
  •  Line a deep roasting tray with baking paper, pour in your caster sugar and put it in the hot oven for about 5-7 minutes until the edges are just beginning to melt.  Heating the sugar helps to create a glossy, stable mixture.
  • Meanwhile, crack the egg whites into a non-plastic bowl.  Make sure your bowl and whisk are free from grease.  At first whisk slowly allowing small stabilising bubbles to form, then increase the speed until the egg whites form stiff peaks. The sugar should be ready to take out of the oven at this point.
  • Turn your oven down to 100?C. Whisking at full speed, slowly, big spoon by spoon, add the hot sugar to the meringue mixture.  Once you have added all of the sugar, continue to whisk on full speed for about 5-7 minutes. Feel a bit of the mixture between your fingers, if you can still feel the gritty sugar keep whisking at full speed until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is smooth, stiff and glossy.
  • When ready, carefully spoon your stiff meringue mixture into a disposable piping bag. Pack the meringue mixture in tightly, ensuring there are no air bubbles. With sharp scissors, cut the tip of the piping bag to the size of a 20p coin. To get the piping bag flowing, use some of the mixture pipe small dollops on to the four corners of your baking sheets and stick down your baking paper securely in place. You are ready to start piping!
  • Hold the piping bag with two hands, place your dominant hand at the top of the piping bag and your other hand half way down the bag. You must ensure that there is pressure at the top on the bag. Use the hand that is half way down the piping bag to control the flow of the mixture and squeeze to form your beautiful filled in stars. These should be at least 1inch thick. Cover each star with your ground pistachios.
  • Bake these at 100C for 45mins-1hr, until the meringues is firm and come off the baking paper without breaking. Take out and leave to cool.
  • In a bowl whip the double cream and icing sugar into stiff peaks. Fold through the brandy at the last minute. You want your cream to be very thick but not over whipped.
  • Time to assemble! Very gently place your largest star on the cake stand and spoon a large spoonful of your brandy cream on top. Smooth it out to the edges and then place the second largest star on top making sure that the points of your second star fit into the gaps from the first star not directly on top. Repeat this process until you have layered all seven stars.
  • Decorate! We dipped our figs, physalis, dried cranberries and strawberries in edible glitter and stuck these and the edible flowers into the cream in a spiral tinsel garland.  We added a beautiful heart sparkler to top off the cake and give it the final wow factor.

The genius meringue girls - Alex and Stacey

Monday, 9 December 2013

All I want for Christmas...

Chaz has been asking where this year's Christmas present guide is for days.  Not for himself of course but for all those husbands out there - in Shanghai apparently - who are relying on me to help them shop for their wives.    So here it is;  rather later than planned I'm sorry.  I seem to have gone for (mega) quality over quantity - not many stocking fillers here. I'll do a 'part two' filled with smaller, more purse friendly ideas later this week.

Top top top of my list - and I imagine every other girl in the world - are these Chloe, navy, suede Susannah boots.  These will keep you in the good books for years to come. Maybe even centuries. 

Zimmerman celestial swimsuit.  Perfect for a bit of New Year tanning.  If this is a bit loud/too covered up, try one of Lisa Marie Fernadez's towelling creations.

Tibi red faille skirt.  A red, silk, pouffy sensation.  Girls dream about skirts like this.

Sibella Court's newest book Gypsy

A Hugo Guinness print or painting

This 'Giraffes' painting by Roger Hilton

A plane ticket somewhere hot, sunny and beach trimmed.  
I'd like one to Singapore to see my tiny new Godson.  

A flower arranging course at The Little Flower school in Brooklyn.  Or if you're UK based, maybe one slighter nearer home like Judith Blacklock's.

J Crew embellished sweatshirt
This one's quite a fancy one but the new J Crew shop is so full of sensational sparkly numbers you can't really go wrong.  I'm not sure if J Crew has reached Shanghai yet...  

J Crew navy cashmere tunic

Boys, this may look like a boring old blue jumper but don't be fooled.   It's jumper perfection.  And if she/you are bored by the blue, they offer them in a whole colour wheel of colours.  

Emma Bridgewater splatters.  
This pattern was originally made as a one off for Liberty.  Thank God they have come to their senses and are now selling a few special bits online.

Sophie Hulme ponyskin tote
The whole collection is a sensation and you can't really go wrong.  The cross body bags are especially wondrous.

I am permanently wanting a new look at home and would love nothing more than a huge box of Designer's Guild Amrapali peony wallpaper to redecorate our bedroom in.  For something a little less bold have a look at the equally beautiful Barneby Gates papers.

Some people I know wouldn't be thrilled to find an old carpet under the tree.  I for one though would be over joyed.  In fact I would love any of Penny Morrison's heavenly rugs.  Or lampshades or cushions for that matter.  For a cushion lover, Rifat Ozbek and Erdal Karaman's Yastik collection can't be beaten.

Chaz absolutely does not get my obsession with old china.  I think it could be a girl thing.  The line between good and bad china is a fine one and one that unless you're 100% sure of what you're buying, should maybe be left alone.  Did I mention the Chloe boots?
However, if you do find your self surrounded by good antique spoils look out for pink lustre or speckled blue spongewear.  I always find jugs and loving cups go down very well.

Happy Christmas!

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Teenage dirtbag

If a stranger was to take a peek into my wardrobe right now, they could quite rightly assume it belonged to a teenager.  I had hoped by the time I'd reached thirty I would have my own definite sense of style;  I'd know what I liked; which colours and shapes suited me and also the ones to avoid with a barge pole.
But here I am instead, not looking remotely like my style icon Ulyana Sergeenko but lusting over sloppy, slogan covered sweatshirts instead. I can't get enough of them. 

Whistles Joie de Vivre

Partier - asos

Zoe Karrson Batman

More from the magical Zoe Karrsen


Style Queen
The oh-so-shic Ulyana Sergeenko.  

Monday, 2 December 2013

Winter in Waddler

If funds would allow, the whole of the Cubs's wardrobes would be filled with Waddler's heavenly creations.  The good news, is that they now make grown up wolf and bear suits too.  And that they're offering free delivery tomorrow.

Put TUESDAY in the promo box to get free delivery.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

White Out

It tends to be Swedish houses that give me the biggest dose of house envy.  This one is no exception and once again I'm reaching for the white paint. Despite being fully white it somehow feels remarkably cosy.  It's 5.30am as I write - the smallest Cub still firmly believes that the early bird catches the worm - and I can't think of anything more heavenly that climbing into that dreamy looking bed right now.

The photos are taken from Lantliv Magazine