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White chocolate takes centre stage with these three recipes from Jeni Ianetta, chef at cult Bad Girl Bakery in the Scottish highlands.
Certain foods filter us into two camps. In the savoury world, you’re either a Marmite person or not, but in the sweet universe, it’s usually milk and dark chocolate versus white. For those on Team White, what we share is a desire for a flavour profile that’s insanely sweet and creamy. The sweeter, the better in our minds. And we’re not alone – the proliferation of white Kit Kats, white Twix and white Snickers over the past couple of years demonstrates the popularity of the heavenly cocoa butter-based concoction.
If anyone knows a thing or two about sweet stuff, it’s Jenni Iannetta. Since opening her bakery, Bad Girl Bakery in 2017 in the Scottish highlands, her sugary delights have built up a cult following. Considering her ethos – inverting the idea of baked goods as guilty foods that are ‘bad’ for you and repositioning them as a joyous treat – who can blame them?
Thankfully, Iannetta is sharing her patisserie knowledge in her new cookbook, Bad Girl Bakery. So, if you can’t take a trip to the Scottish highlands, sift through 100 of her favourite recipes that are stocked on its counters.
It’s no secret that the intricacy and complexity of some baking recipes are off-putting, but Iannetta’s philosophy is refreshingly the opposite – it’s simple and uses the least amount of ingredients possible. And when you have brilliant ingredients like white chocolate to hand, it’s only right that you use them generously.
First up, her raspberry and white chocolate cookie bar will satisfy all types of white chocolate devotees. A soft, gooey combination of oats, raspberry jam and frozen raspberries, these moreish bites toe the glorious line of sweet and sour. Thanks to the easy, snackable size, you’ll be hard pressed to leave them sitting in your kitchen for too long…
If you’re looking for something to fill the afternoon tea-shaped hole at home, her clementine, white chocolate and cranberry scones are sure to impress. Fine, crumbly and laced with a fresh, orange zest, these are the ultimate definition of a pick-me-up.
Lastly, nothing fills the 3pm WFH slump quite like a failsafe cupcake, and her caramelised white chocolate and maple honeycomb cupcakes will exceed expectations. Light, spongy and laced with golden and maple syrup, this is the ultimate sweet tooth taste test. Place the vanilla cream icing on top and its made even more indulgent. White chocolate, it’s your time to shine…
Raspberry and white chocolate cookie bar
Jeni says: This traybake takes its inspiration from an American cookie bar called a Caramelita that combines oats, pecans and caramel. I came across the recipe years ago in an old magazine in a doctor’s waiting room. I couldn’t bring myself to steal the magazine so I scribbled down as much as I could and tried to recreate it.
Makes 12 cookie bars in a 32 x 21cm traybake tin, lined
- 250g soft light brown sugar
- 350g porridge oats
- 150g self-raising flour
- 50g white chocolate, blitzed in a processor or finely chopped
- 350g unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
For the filling
- 250g good raspberry jam
- 120g white chocolate chips
- 60g white chocolate
- 2 tbsp freeze-dried raspberries
- 2 tbsp white chocolate chips
Get the oven on at 180°C (160°C) and line your traybake tin. Weigh the sugar, oats, flour and blitzed chocolate into a big bowl. Then pour in the melted butter and mix until there are no dry bits.
Press about half the mixture into the bottom of the lined tin. Just judge this by eye; there’s no need to weigh it and it’s ok if it’s not exactly half. Take some time to pat this down so it’s even and smooth and pay attention to the corners: if they are thinner they will bake more quickly and be too hard.
Give your jam a stir so it’s nice and loose and easy to spread. Spread it in an even layer over the base, being careful to leave a 2–3cm border all the way round so the jam doesn’t ooze out and weld your traybake to the paper. Scatter over the white chocolate chips.
Finally, scatter the rest of the oaty mixture evenly over the top and lightly pat it down. It doesn’t need to be heavily packed like the base does. Bake on the middle shelf for 25 minutes.
The only bad news is that you need to leave the traybake to cool before you can drizzle it with the chocolate. Even if you want to skip the drizzling stage (though why would you?) don’t be tempted to cut it up while it’s still warm: the traybake will fall apart.
Once it is completely cool, gently melt the remaining 60g white chocolate either in the microwave on low in 20 second bursts or in a heatproof bowl over just-simmering water. Either way, take it off the heat when it’s almost completely melted and the residual heat will do the rest. Drizzle the chocolate over the traybake and then scatter over the freeze-dried raspberries and white chocolate chips. Pop it in the fridge till the chocolate is just set. It’s now ready to cut.
• This is at its best on the day it’s baked but it’s still really good on day two or three if you keep it well wrapped in a cool place.
• It’s also lovely warmed through in the microwave and served with ice cream.
Clementine, white chocolate and cranberry scones
Jeni says: These scones are a real favourite at Christmas time, when we always make them with fresh cranberries. They’re just as good with dried cranberries, and you can use the zest of a large orange instead of the two clementines if you fancy. Just like the savoury scones, you can change up the flavours really easily by replacing the cranberries, zest and chocolate with different combinations of sweet flavours.
Makes 8 very big bad girl-sized scones
- 500g self-raising flour (plus more for dusting)
- 120g caster sugar
- 1 rounded tbsp baking powder
- 100g unsalted butter, softened a little and cubed
- 300ml milk
- 2 medium eggs
- 100g fresh or dried cranberries
- 100g white chocolate, chips or chopped
- zest of 2 clementines
- 60g white chocolate, melted handful of dried cranberries
Heat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan).
Weigh the flour, sugar and baking powder into a big bowl, then add the cubed butter. Measure the milk into a jug, then add the eggs and mix with a fork. Flour your work surface now, before your hands get all sticky with dough.
Now, rub the butter into the flour, picking up small amounts in your fingertips and rubbing your thumb and fingers together as you let the mixture fall back into the bowl. Once it looks like breadcrumbs, give the bowl a shake and any rogue lumps of butter will come to the top – rub them in too.
Add the cranberries, white chocolate and clementine zest and around two thirds of the eggy milk. Mix with a butter knife (this way you won’t overwork the dough) until most of the flour has been incorporated. If there’s still a lot of flour in the bottom of the bowl, add a little more milk. You just want a rough, craggy- looking bowl of dough that feels a little sticky, but not wet. Use more of the milk if it’s too dry or add a tiny bit more flour if it’s too wet. Once you’re happy, tip the whole lot out onto the floured surface and use your hands to bring it together into a ball. Your dough should have lumps and bumps – don’t be tempted to work it until it’s smooth.
With your hands, gently flatten your ball of dough into a flat disc roughly 20cm across and 3–4cm high. Dust a knife with flour to stop it sticking, and cut the dough into eight evenly-sized triangles as if you were cutting a cake.
Space the triangles out on your baking tray and brush the tops with a thin coat of the remaining eggy milk mixture (you might not need it all). Bake for around 20 minutes or until they are baked through. The timing will really depend on the thickness of your scones so use a skewer to check, and if they’re not done pop them back in the oven for another three minutes before checking again. They are ready when the skewer comes out clean.
Let the scones cool a little on the tray before taking them off and transferring to a wire rack – they are a wee bit fragile straight out of the oven. When cool, drizzle the tops with the melted white chocolate and scatter over a few dried cranberries before the chocolate sets.
• The best tip we can give is don’t overwork the dough. Overworked dough makes your scones heavy – it should have lumps and bumps in it.
• The consistency of the dough is the only tricky thing here. After making this a few times you’ll know exactly what you’re looking for. Too dry and your scones will be dense and crumbly; too wet and sticky, they won’t rise and will be tough and chewy.
• Scones are at their very best served still warm from the oven and are definitely only good on the day. They can be frozen though: once defrosted, refresh them in the oven for a wee while to warm through. Don’t decorate the top of scones you are planning to freeze.
Caramelised white chocolate and maple honeycomb cupcakes
Jeni says: Our lovely bakery manager, Rachel, came up with the idea of chocolate honeycomb cupcakes and they have always been a great seller. When caramelised white chocolate became a thing, I was keen to pair its rich, nutty flavour with maple syrup and these are the happy result.
Make the Caramelised White Chocolate and the Maple Syrup Honeycomb the day before you want to eat these.
Makes 12 cupcakes
For the caramelised white chocolate
- 300g white chocolate
For the maple syrup honeycomb
- 200g caster sugar
- 3 tbsp golden syrup
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
For the cupcakes
- 200g unsalted butter, softened
- 150g caster sugar
- 50g soft light brown sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 medium eggs
- 200g self-raising flour
- 2 tbsp evaporated milk
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 50g caramelised white chocolate, finely chopped
For the buttercream
- 375g unsalted butter
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 525g icing sugar
- 50g maple syrup honeycomb
- 1/2 batch maple syrup honeycomb
- 250g caramelised white chocolate
First make your caramelised white chocolate. Preheat your oven to 140°C (120°C fan).
Put the white chocolate in a heatproof dish and pop it in the oven on the middle shelf. Every ten minutes, take it out and give it a really good stir with a spatula before popping it back in the oven. Do this for about an hour until the chocolate is smooth and golden brown (like a Caramac bar!). Don’t worry if your chocolate looks lumpy at any point – that’s normal. Just flatten out the lumps with your spatula and stir well. Scrape the chocolate into a small Tupperware container lined with baking paper. You want it to harden into a nice thick layer so you can chop it into good-sized chunks. Set aside to cool completely and store in a cool place for up to three days.
To make the honeycomb, get all your ingredients ready and line your tin, as the last stage of the recipe has to be done quickly. If you don’t have a sugar thermometer, set the bowl of cold water next to your hob. Weigh the sugar, golden syrup and maple syrup directly into a medium-sized pan, then put it on a low heat to melt slowly. Swirl the pan around to help things along and give it the occasional stir if you need to. Be patient here as you don’t want the mix to get too hot and bubble before the sugar has melted.
Turn up the heat and bring the syrup to a simmer. Don’t stir it – you’ll see lots of bubbles, then it will start to turn a little darker in colour and smell more caramelly. Cook for around five to ten minutes until it reaches 150°C. If you don’t have a thermometer, drop a little of the syrup into your bowl of cold water – it’s ready when it makes a hard ball as it cools.
When it’s hot enough, take the pan off the heat. Quickly add the bicarbonate of soda and whisk vigorously. You’ll see the honeycomb puff up – quickly tip it into your lined tin, then set aside to cool and harden.
Preheat your oven to 180°C (160°C fan).
Weigh the butter and caster and light brown sugars into a big mixing bowl or stand mixer and add the vanilla extract. Crack the eggs into a jug and weigh the flour into another bowl.
Beat the butter, sugars and vanilla together using your spatula (or a mixer on low) until it looks lighter in colour and less dense and craggy. It won’t go really fluffy, but you will see a difference after a few minutes of mixing. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl to make sure you’ve got everything mixed in.
Pour an egg into the mix and add a couple of spoons of flour, then mix until combined. Repeat with each egg, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl between each addition. Gently mix in the remaining flour until it’s all incorporated, and add in the evaporated milk, maple syrup and finely chopped Caramelised White Chocolate. Stir to combine.
Divide the batter equally between your cupcake cases (an ice cream scoop works wonders here) and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, testing with a skewer after 20. If the skewer comes out clean, they’re ready. If not, pop them back in for two more minutes and test again, repeating until they are done. Do test each cake as bake times vary depending on where they are in the oven and how much batter is in each case. The tops should be golden brown. Leave the cakes to cool in their tins for 15 minutes before taking them out to let them cool completely on a cooling rack.
Now you can get on with making the buttercream: Put the butter into your stand mixer bowl along with the vanilla and mix until completely smooth, then add in the icing sugar. Once it’s all incorporated, turn the speed up to medium and keep mixing until it’s super smooth. It will go lighter in colour and texture. Once it’s ready, take 50g of the Maple Syrup Honeycomb and either blitz it in a processor or bash it in a sandwich bag until you have crumbs. Fold these into your buttercream. Using the piping bag with the open nozzle, pipe a dome of buttercream on each cake. If you don’t have a piping bag you can use an ice cream scoop instead: take a flattened scoop of buttercream and place it on the cupcake, smoothing any ridges with a palette knife.
Break the remaining maple honeycomb into large, jagged shards. Melt the Caramelised White Chocolate and dip in the shards so they are half-covered. Put one shard, chocolate side down, on the top of each cupcake, pressing it into the buttercream a little so the melted chocolate pools around it.
Photography: Claire Irwin