Izzy Does It

Kichen Chaos, the Izzy way

Month: July, 2013

Perfect Burgers with Bacon Onion Balsamic Jam


Sometimes you just want a burger, and if you’re anything like me; once that thought enters your head, nothing else will suffice. For me a burger always has to be juicy, on a soft toasted roll, with cheese, and the juice should run down my chin, so I look gross but happy! Yes!

For once it has been sunny in London, resulting in rising numbers of barbeque occasions, so I felt it was time to get involved and make a perfect hamburger.  And this is it. The recipe comes from the unbeatable Ina Garten of Barefoot Contessa fame. I have always been a massive fan; her recipes were the first I ever made (after Peppermint Creams from one of the Dorling Kindersley children’s cookbook, those where the days!) and she has never, ever failed me. When the time came for burgers, I searched her name plus ‘burgers’ and found this recipe. And she didn’t disappoint. Not at all. The first bite got a moan, the second a smile and the last a feeling of deep satisfaction and a belly rub.

She uses full fat minced beef as the fat really does add a lot of flavour,  and, let’s face it, if you are going down the burger line you are not thinking of your thighs in the first place. One last little, tiny and insignificant thing is you also add a sliver of butter to the centre of each burger. Sorry did I not mention that? Yes, add some fat to fat. It’s worth it.  It creates the most dreamy, moist burger imaginable.

I made a slight change to Ina’s original recipe as I used normal full fat ground/minced beef rather than “ground chuck” and “ground sirloin”, because when I asked the butcher for ground sirloin he looked at me like I was mad and was dismayed at the idea of mincing sirloin, which I had to agree with.  I would, however, advise going to a local butcher and buying  good quality mince as;  A. you can taste the difference and, B. you can cook it until it’s nice and pink in the middle (medium rare- how I like it) without worrying if it will revisit you the same evening.

To top this perfect burger,  I made the ‘bacon onion balsamic jam’ from an Annie’s Eats recipe. I made this “jam” last year at a barbeque where I also spent hours/days/weeks making two types of burgers, buttermilk chicken, salads and four flavours of ice cream with sauces etc. etc. and I’m pretty sure the only thing anyone remembers is this jam. That’s barbeque focus groups for you! I have tripled the ingredients to make enough for the 12 burgers (original was for 4 burgers) feel free to cut down according to your burger quantities, but I would suggest making more than you need and freezing the rest for any boring weeknight meals that would benefit from being jazzed!


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Makes 12 burgers

12 thick slices of smoked back or streaky bacon
3 large red onions
240ml balsamic vinegar
1 ½ tsp. Dijon mustard
240ml water
Salt and pepper

6 lbs or 2721g full fat minced beef
3 tablespoons steak sauce (I used French’s Classic Steak Sauce)
6 extra-large egg yolks
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
60g cold unsalted butter
12 hamburger buns

To make the jam, chop the bacon into ½ inch pieces and thinly slice the onions.  Add the bacon to a large frying pan on a medium heat and cook until lightly browned but not crispy. Transfer the cooked bacon to a plate covered in kitchen roll to drain. Remove some of the bacon fat from the pan (leaving about 6 tablespoons), add the onions and cook, covered, for 2 minutes. Uncover and add a splash of water, scraping the bottom of the pan to lift any browned bits on the bottom. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are cooked through and beginning to brown.

Uncover and add the vinegar, water, mustard and cooked bacon, stir together and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the mixture, uncovered, until it has thickened and most of the liquid has been absorbed, approximately 5 minutes. Season to taste.  Remove from the heat and let cool, ready to top the burgers.

To make the burgers; in a large bowl mix all of the ingredients together with a fork, trying not to mash it. Divide the mixture into twelve equal portions and form each into a ball. Take a thin slice of the butter and press it into the ball creating an indentation and form the meat around the butter into a burger patty, making sure none of the butter shows.

To cook the burgers you can either use a barbeque, griddle pan or frying pan. If you want to toast your buns, brush the griddle/frying pan with a light coating of oil and fry until brown (just put strait onto the barbeque if using) and put to the side ready for the burger. Place the burgers straight onto the hot pan/barbeque and cook for about 3-5 minutes on each side (depending on how pink you like them). Once cooked place in the toasted buns and top with cheese and the jam. Tuck in and let the juice run down your chin so you look gross.


Biscoff Icebox Cake


I once wrote about healthy breakfast bars and I now feel this gives me licence to turn this blog into a sphere of gluttony; my gluttony. This recipe is a wonderful example of this; I start with a biscuit full of sugar and butter and for good measure I add double cream and caramel.  This is all kinds of wrong, which in my gluttonous brain makes it oh so many kinds of right. If the above description makes you think “eww this girl has a problem” you may reading the wrong blog. But…. bear with me here, this pudding is so gorgeous, unbelievable simple and cheap, and really is one of those very naughty things that are totally worth the calories.

The concept of an ‘icebox cake’ seems to be prolific in the America but I had never personally heard of them.  Simply put; biscuits or wafers are stacked with cream and left overnight in the fridge (“icebox”) where the biscuits soften and form a cake like layer. This particular recipe from Willow Bird Baking uses Biscoff or Lotus biscuits (the little caramel spiced biscuits you often get with coffee) which I have always loved, so combining that with cream sounded like heaven and I set to work.

In the original recipe she used shop bought caramel and poured it over the top of the cake. I had some homemade salted caramel sauce left over in the freezer (as you do) from a recent ice cream making extravaganza so thought I would use that instead, and on every layer,  just to up the decadence. I have added the recipe (from David Lebovitz’s, The Perfect Scoop) below as it is so amazingly perfect you should have a batch on hand for everything (included a salted caramel brownie recipe I will post asap). My final tweak was removing the Goldschläger (I’m a child when it come to my deserts) and adding some vanilla essence and cinnamon to the cream in its place.


Now I have made this icebox cake a world of ideas have opened up to me. It would be amazing with a layer of banana, or apple butter after the biscuit layer. Or maybe chocolate? They are now making the lotus biscuits with a chocolate coating on top and maybe that would be marvellous, like a cream and biscuit Vienetta! But I’m getting carried away. For the time being I will post the original recipe and I’m sure I will add to it in due time. I decided on a glass fruit bowl for my cake so you could see the layering but any dish will do. The measurements I have used match said fruit bowl which held 1.5 litres so amend according to the size of your vessel.


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For the Salted Butter Caramel Sauce:
(makes 375 ml)

85 g salted butter
150 g caster sugar
250ml Double cream
1 ¼ tsps. Flaky salt

Take a large heavy bottomed saucepan, and melt the butter on a medium heat. Once melted add the sugar and stir frequently until the mixture is a deep golden brown and starts to smoke slightly. Remove from the heat and instantly pour in half of the cream. Bear in mind it will splutter and foam so you should use an oven glove to protect yourself. Once it has calmed stir in the remaining cream, vanilla extract and the salt. You may be left with a few lumps of caramel and if so return to a low heat and whisk the mixture until they have gone. Let cool.

The mixture can be kept in the fridge for around two weeks, or frozen for longer. To bring back from frozen allow the sauce to defrost before heating (to bring it make to the right consistency) in a small saucepan.

For the Icebox Cake

600ml double cream
½ tsp. Vanilla Extract
¼ tsp. cinnamon
70g icing sugar
2 packs Lotus Biscoff biscuits (I only used 1 ¼)

For the icebox cake add the cream to your mixing bowl and sift the icing sugar over the top. Add the cinnamon and vanilla extract and whisk (using a hand held whisk or your mixer) on a high speed until stiff peaks form.

Drizzle a layer of the (cooled) caramel followed by a layer of the biscuits (you may need to break the biscuits in half to fit them in) on the bottom of your dish. On top of this plop and then smooth some of the cream to form a layer about ½ – ¾ inch thick. Repeat this layering until the dish is full, ending with a top layer of cream. Cover with cling film and place in the fridge overnight. When the time comes to indulge, remove from the fridge and decorate the top with a drizzle of caramel, and a crushed biscuit over the top. Serve individual portions with a whole biscuit.


Jam Doughnut Cupcakes


I don’t really know how I feel about Hummingbird Bakery. When I was working in the event industry I was yelled at by an entitled client that her baby shower cupcakes “must be Hummingbird!”, resulting in a 2 hour long round trip to fetch them, shaking in the aftermath of her wrath. It left a bad taste in my mouth.  I also wanted to order a large red velvet cake for The Dishwashers birthday a month ago and the total cost came in at around £50! Needless to say that idea was scrapped. On the other hand I do have two of their cookbooks, they do make good (if expensive) cakes and they have a very high ogle factor.

Last month their special cupcake was a Jam Doughnut Cupcake, which really sounded like perfection to me. What’s not to love with that idea? I love doughnuts, I love cupcakes, I love jam (I love fat, I love sugar and I may have a problem). But sooner than the thought of trekking to my nearest bakery to sample said masterpiece occurred, the cupcake was discontinued.   However…… once I get an idea/craving into my head, that’s it, so I set about trying to recreate the un-sampled cupcake at home.

Reading on their website they described the cake as consisting of vanilla cake filled with jam, with cinnamon buttercream icing, sprinkled with sugar and topped with a small round doughnut. I used the vanilla cupcake recipe from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook for the base of my experiment. From there I added cinnamon to the buttercream, filled them with raspberry jam and sprinkled a cinnamon sugar mixture on top. I searched the internet for a doughnut hole recipe to make the doughnut balls and came across one on here, braved the deep frying process and was awarded with about 30 doughnut holes! From all these elements a half plagiarised, semi original little cupcake was born, and oh boy what a jam doughnuty cupcake.


The little doughnut balls on top were surprisingly easy to make despite the deep frying element.  I usually run and hide when a recipe mentions deep frying, but then when I finally do pluck up the courage I end up wondering why I worry! As long as you make sure you take all precautions this really is as easy as pie, and totally worth it. I have made changes to the original recipe, added cinnamon not nutmeg and covered the holes in a cinnamon sugar mix rather than icing sugar. I have also elaborated on the original recipe to give a more detailed step by step guide which hopefully makes this less daunting (I promise it’s easy).  From the 30 the recipe makes, at least half of them will turn out perfect and the rest can be eaten with molten chocolate! The holes don’t keep very well so would be best to make on the day of eating.


For all of your mixing you can either use a hand held electric whisk or a freestanding mixer. I have used a mixer throughout but feel free to swap out. Although donuts are traditionally filled with strawberry jam I felt the raspberry (with a little added lemon juice), which is lightly tarter would cut through the sweetness of the rest of the cakes.


p.s I got a new camera for my birthday! I hope it shows!

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Makes 12-16 cupcakes

80g softened unsalted butter
280g caster sugar
240g plain flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
240ml whole milk
½ tsp. vanilla extract
2 large eggs

160g softened unsalted butter
500g icing sugar
¼ tsp. cinnamon
50ml whole milk
½ tsp. vanilla extract

170g seedless raspberry jam
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice

½ tsp. cinnamon
85g granulated sugar

Doughnut balls
190g plain flour
75g caster sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 egg
120ml milk
30g butter, melted
500ml -750ml vegetable oil (depending on size of pan)

Sugar coating for balls
120g caster sugar
½ tsp. cinnamon

Preheat your oven to 190°C/375°F and line a cupcake/muffin tin with cupcake liners. Cream the butter and sugar in your mixer and add the flour and baking powder. Beat until the mix resembles fine breadcrumbs.

In a jug, whisk together the eggs, milk and vanilla and with the mixer on a low speed pour three-quarters of the liquid into the dry ingredients. Beat together and scrape down the sides. Pour the remaining liquid in and beat again on a medium speed until the batter is smooth.

Spoon the batter into the cases until they are about two thirds full. If you have any leftover batter (I ended up with 15 cupcakes) fill further cases in a separate tin. Put the cakes in the oven and bake for 18-20 minutes, until the top is springy and a toothpick comes out clean. If you have two tins in the oven remember to swap them over halfway through the baking time. Once baked remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool.

To make the buttercream, sift the icing sugar and cinnamon into a bowl and set aside. Cream the butter in your mixer, add the dry ingredients and beat until combined and sandy in consistency. Add the vanilla extract to the milk and, with the mixer on low, slowly pour the milk into the mixture.  Increase the speed to high and beat until light and fluffy. Set aside

For the doughnut balls, first create an assembly line. Take an empty dinner plate/chopping board and cover in kitchen towel and set aside, near your stove. Take another bowl, add the cinnamon and sugar, mix to combine and set next to the kitchen towels.

In a bowl combine together the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl add the egg, milk and melted butter and whisk. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and beat to combine. Set aside.

Pour the vegetable oil into a heavy bottomed saucepan to about 1½ inches deep. Place a good accurate thermometer in the oil (this one is my favourite thing ever) and heat until it reaches 190°C/375°F. Turn the heat to low to keep the temperature constant.

Take two teaspoons and scoop up half a teaspoons worth of batter (they puff up in the oil) and use the other teaspoon to scrape the batter of the first teaspoon and continue this action until a semi ball shape is formed, drop the batter ball into the oil. Fry until browned (2 minutes) turning occasionally and once browned remove with a slotted spoon and drain on the kitchen towels. Once drained (2 minutes) add ball to the sugar mixture and shake to cover.  Repeat the process with the rest of the batter in batches keeping only about 5-6 balls in the oil at one time to avoid the oil cooling.  Leave to the side to fully cool.

To fill the cakes, spoon the raspberry jam into a bowl and add the lemon juice, stir the mixture until the jam has softened a little and the juice is incorporated. Once the cakes have fully cooled, take a small sharp knife and cut a cone out of the centre of the cupcake. Take the cone and cut off the tip and discard (into your tummy). Fill the hole in the cupcake with the jam mix and replace the top of the cone over the top of the jam, sealing it inside.


Mix together the sugar and cinnamon for the topping and set aside. Take each filled cupcake and smooth the icing on with a palate knife. Wipe the palate knife clean and even up the icing further in a swirling motion. Sprinkle over a layer of the sugar cinnamon mixture and top with a doughnut ball. Sit back and admire your hard work. Then eat your hard work.