playing with flour

Month: August, 2012

Hazelnut Espresso Shortbread

I have a confession to make: before today I had not tasted Nutella. Shocking I know, but it’s true. Obviously I’ve had chocolate and hazelnuts before, and even had the two together, but not once had I eaten this amazing spread. It is probably a good thing really, I can see myself buying (and eating) a lot more of it. I ate three spoonfuls before even starting these cookies!

Fragrant with hazelnuts and coffee this shortbread melts in your mouth. The rice flour keeps them light and the hazelnut meal gives a strong flavour and interesting texture. You could easily substitute almond meal or even macadamia meal if you like, but I found these cookies went perfectly with a spoonful of Nutella sandwiched between them.

This shortbread is quite easy to make but a little temperamental to work with. I recommend placing the dough in the fridge for a while before shaping into cookies to avoid getting your hands too messy. I cut small shapes out of half of my cookies while they were still warm from the oven although you can try and do this before you bake them but they may be too soft. Also don’t let them cool completely and then try to cut them as they will just crumble.

I think this recipe will quickly become a favourite in this house, not least of all because it gives me an excuse to eat more Nutella!

Hazelnut Espresso Shortbread Cookies

125g unsalted butter, at room temperature
60g icing sugar
60g hazelnut meal
130g rice flour
1 tsp instant coffee dissolved in 1 tsp hot water
Nutella to fill

Preheat the oven to 160° and line baking trays with baking paper.

Sift icing sugar into a bowl and add the butter. Beat on medium speed until fluffy and pale, about 5 minutes. Add the hazelnut meal, flour and coffee and stir until combined. Refrigerate about 30 minutes or until easy to handle.

Roll teaspoon sized balls of the dough and place on baking trays. Flatten each ball with the bottom of a glass (use a piece of baking paper between the glass and the dough if they stick) and bake for 10-15 minutes or until lightly golden.

If cutting out shapes from your cookies now is the time to do so. Be very gentle and use a toothpick to clean up any edges. Once completely cooled spread Nutella on one cookie and sandwich with another.

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Brigadeiros

It’s my husbands birthday today but he doesn’t want me to bake him a cake, or throw a party or make a fuss. It’s funny how for some of us getting older is a thing to celebrate, a day to spend with friends or family and over-indulge but for others it reminds us of what we have yet to achieve and how fast time passes. I honestly like getting older. Looking back I can see how much things have changed and how far I’ve come, and make plans for where I want to be going. However you look at it, to me birthdays still need some celebration, and what better way than with brigadeiros?

Brigadeiros are basically Brazilian truffles. They’re so simple to make with only three main ingredients, but taste unbelievable. Rich caramel flavour with a chewy and dense texture, the versatility of these little treats is only limited by your imagination. Traditionally coated in chocolate sprinkles, I like to flavour mine with whatever I have on hand. This time I chose to make three varieties: orange, cherry and coconut and rum and raisin but almost any combination will work well.

Be careful if using liquids to flavour your mix as too much will change the consistency and make them hard to roll. Using liquors or flavoured essence should allow you to get a decent amount of flavour without too much liquid. Do be careful to stir the mixture constantly as it will burn quickly.

Brigadeiros

1 395g can sweetened condensed milk
3 tbsp cocoa
1 oz unsalted butter

Place all ingredients in a medium saucepan over a medium heat. Heat the mixture stirring constantly for 10-15 minutes or until the mixture gets thick and sticks together. You will find if you tilt the pan the mix will slide together rather than sticking to the saucepan.

Divide into separate bowls depending on how many flavours you are making and allow to cool. You may find it easier to add your flavouring before cooling but don’t try to roll the brigadeiros until the batter reaches room temperature or they will be very messy!

Flavourings

Orange

1 tsp finely diced orange zest
2 tsp Cointreau

Rum and raisin

2 tsp finely chopped raisins or sultanas
1 tsp rum or cognac
Chocolate biscuits for coating

Soak the raisins in the alcohol for 5 minutes then add to the mixture. Process the chocolate biscuits to get a fine crumb then roll each ball in the crumbs.

Cherry and coconut

2 tsp diced glace cherries
Coconut for coating

Jaffa Fudge Brownies

I had a rough day yesterday. Nothing significant, just a hard day on placement, but one that made me question my ability to succeed in this career. I came home wanting nothing but comfort. Unfortunately my husband is interstate for work and I was too tired to visit friends. So instead I called my mum and made brownies.

I’ve always loved the combination of orange and chocolate. For these brownies I was inspired by the crunchy bite sized Jaffa lollies. They were always a top choice for movies (and go really well with popcorn!) and I have fond memories of my sister and I using the bright red coating as lipstick when we were younger. I wanted to re-create some of the fun I associate with them.

These brownies are super dense and fudgy. Rich and chocolatey with a hit of orange and some lovely crunch from the edges and Jaffa pieces, they’re a total indulgence. Perfect for a bad day. Because they’re so rich I cut mine into bite sized pieces but feel free to leave them larger if you think you can handle it!

I recommend using good quality dark chocolate as you really do taste it in this recipe. I added Cointreau to my curd to boost the orange flavour but feel free to leave this out. The only thing I would change for next time is to chop the Jaffa’s instead of processing them. Although this would be time consuming I think having larger chunks in the batter would be fantastic. To make them easier to cut allow the brownies to cool in the fridge overnight.

 

Jaffa Brownies

4 oz dark (70% cocoa) chocolate
¾ cup butter
1¾ cups sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
½ tsp salt
1 cup flour
¼ cup orange curd
½ cup Jaffa’s (or other choc-orange lollies)

Preheat oven to 180° and grease and line a 7×7 inch pan. In large bowl over simmering water melt chocolate and butter. Add sugar and eggs and stir through thoroughly. Add vanilla, flour and salt and stir until mixed through and smooth.

Separate the mixture into two bowls. Process the Jaffa’s in a food processor until you have small pieces. Mix the Jaffa’s through one bowl and pour into prepared pan. Bake for 5-10 minutes or until just set. Allow to cool in pan.

Spoon orange curd over brownie layer and smooth out leaving a ½cm gap around the edges. Carefully spoon the second brownie mix over the curd starting near the centre and working outwards. When completely covered bake for 10-15 minutes or until set. Allow to cool completely in the pan then refrigerate before cutting.

Orange Curd

¾ cup orange juice
1 tbsp orange zest, finely chopped or grated
2 eggs
3 egg yolks
½ cup caster sugar
6 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into cubes
30ml Cointreau (optional)

Combine the eggs and sugar in a medium saucepan and stir until mixed. Add the orange juice, zest and butter and heat slowly over a low heat, stirring constantly. Do not heat too quickly or the egg will curdle.

Continue to heat until curd is thick and smooth, and coats the back of a spoon. This could be anywhere between 10-20 minutes depending on how thick you’d like it. The curd will continue to thicken somewhat when cooling.

When ready pour through a fine sieve to catch any cooked egg strands. Cover and refrigerate until cold.

Blueberry Friand Slice

As much as my husband would disagree, I don’t own every piece of baking equipment there is. If I could get away with it I would love to buy myself a madeleine tin, mini muffin trays or a bundt pan. And I would definitely buy moulds for friands. I’ve always thought of friands as a grown up version of a muffin or cupcake. Dense yet light, full of almond meal and sold individually (and often more expensively) these miniature cakes are full of class.

Rather than purchase yet another baking tin I decided to adapt a standard friand recipe to make a friand slice instead. While you could pour the batter into a standard muffin tin, I was curious to see how a slice would turn out. The cake is soft and moist and quite sweet and the blueberries burst full of juice when you bite into them. The centre pieces obviously don’t benefit from having the crunchy edge you get on a usual friand, but the taste more than makes up for it.

I was lucky enough to find some out of season blueberries on special, but any berry would work well in this recipe. I poked my berries into the batter before baking but they do sink somewhat anyway so if you like you can just scatter them over the top. If you can afford the luxury of using a vanilla pod I would highly recommend it. Not only do you get to see the tiny black specks within the slice but the vanilla taste is prominent throughout.

This slice goes really well with a cup of tea and is perfect still warm from the oven, with just a dusting of icing sugar.

Blueberry Friand Slice

4 egg whites
100g unsalted butter, melted
1 tbsp milk
½ tsp vanilla extract
125g almond meal
160g icing sugar
50g self-raising flour
1 vanilla bean
100g blueberries

Preheat the oven to 150° and line a 20 x 30 cm baking tin with baking paper. In a large bowl whisk your egg whites by hand until combined and frothy. Sift in the flour and icing sugar then add the butter, milk, extract and almond meal. Mix to combine.

Cut the vanilla bean lengthways and scrape out the seeds. Add to your mixture and gently stir until smooth and even. Pour into your prepared tin and smooth surface. Scatter the blueberries over the top and bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden and springy to touch.

Allow to cool in the pan then transfer to a board to cut. Dust with icing sugar prior to serving.

Milo Cupcakes with Condensed Milk Frosting

There is nothing that can’t be fixed, or at least helped, by Milo. This is a philosophy a good friend of mine and I have stuck to for a long time. Whenever one of us is having a hard day or needs a pick me up, out comes the Milo. Not to say that it should only be consumed when times are tough, but this deliciously malted drink is a pretty powerful remedy.

For those days when even a large mug of Milo isn’t enough, these cupcakes will do the trick. The batter is thick and dense but light and packs a huge amount of flavour. The sour cream helps to keep them from getting too heavy, and the crunchy tops are delicious. Topped with a condensed milk frosting these cupcakes are just what the doctor ordered.

I originally found this recipe at raspberri cupcakes blog and made a few small modifications. Next time I think I’ll make them a bit smaller to get a better ratio of frosting to cake, and up the condensed milk in the frosting so they’re not so sweet. I actually think these would make a great muffin rather than a cupcake and may have to look at making those in the future.

Funnily enough, it was actually the same friend who introduced me to having condensed milk in my Milo. While incredibly sweet and rich, it really does pair fantastically and makes a delicious drink (or cupcake) even more decadent.

Milo Cupcakes
Adapted from recipe by raspberri cupcakes

200g plain flour
200g caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
120g Milo
1 tsp vanilla extract
200g sour cream
170g unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs

Preheat the oven to 180° and prepare your cupcake liners. Cream the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl on medium speed until creamy. Add the eggs one at a time and mix thoroughly. Add the sour cream, vanilla and Milo and mix until just combined.

Sift the flour, baking soda and baking powder into a small bowl and gradually add to the Milo mixture, beating on low until just combined. Fill cupcake liners until ¾ full and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the tops are crunchy and a skewer inserted into the cupcakes comes out clean. Allow to cool before frosting.

Condensed Milk Frosting

150g unsalted butter, softened
300g icing sugar
100g condensed milk

Beat the butter on medium speed until light and fluffy. Sift the icing sugar and slowly add to the butter, beating until combined. Add the condensed milk and beat on low speed for 5 minutes until thick and smooth.

Cherry-Ripe Tartlettes

It’s with cherry stained fingers that I write this, and let me tell you, it is worth it. I took an ordinary trip to the supermarket this morning with the vague idea of making something sweet for dessert. I didn’t have a clear plan until I came across these gorgeously red and sweet cherries on special, and suddenly it all came together.

One of my favourite chocolate bars growing up was the Cherry-Ripe. Dark chocolate, coconut and juicy cherries, it was rich and decadent and that is what I wanted to recreate. I knew I had a box of Oreo biscuits at home so they became the base of these tartlettes but any dark chocolate flavoured cookies would work well. Adding coconut to the base gives it a great texture and stops the coconut being overpowering.

I recommend using your fingers to remove the pips from the cherries. Although messy, if you do this over the ganache you can capture all the cherry juice and add an extra boost of flavour. The ganache is deliciously creamy and slightly soft due to the cherry juice and biting into the chunks of fruit gives a sweet and powerful cherry burst.

You could use glacé cherries if desperate but the result would be very different (and likely too sweet). It’s actually interesting how much I enjoy cherries considering the intense hatred I have towards artificial cherry flavouring but after eating these, it’s not hard to see why.

Cherry-Ripe Tartlettes

100g Oreo cookies (or other dark chocolate cookies)
¼ cup desiccated coconut
50g unsalted butter, melted
100g dark chocolate
100g cream
150g cherries

Place Oreo cookies and coconut in food processer and blitz until you have fine crumbs. Add the melted butter and process further until you have a damp mixture. Press the crumbs into the tartlette bases firmly and refrigerate until cold.

Finely chop the chocolate and place in a bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan until just boiling then pour over the chocolate. Allow to sit for 1 minute without stirring. Using a whisk slowly stir from the center outwards until you have a smooth ganache.

De-pip and chop the cherries into small pieces. Add to the ganache and stir to combine. Spoon the ganache mixture into the tartlette bases and refrigerate until set. Top with coconut if desired.

Makes 4 10cm tartlettes and can be easily doubled.

Caramel Bottom Cupcakes

If I was to suggest one recipe that you make from this blog, this would be it. Remember those caramel chips I used in the biscotti? Here is yet another amazing way to use them. Inspired by the traditional black bottom cupcakes, which are usually made with chocolate cake and chocolate chips, these little treats are full of caramel goodness.

The base is a rich mud cake that truly tastes of caramel and would be delicious baked into a large cake on its own. The smell of the batter is rich and inviting and very hard to avoid tasting! Top that with tangy cream cheese and caramel chips and you have a decadent cupcake that is hard to resist. When I first made this recipe I was skeptical they would turn out as nothing ever works as well in life as it does in your mind, but these do not disappoint. They were such a hit that we ate most of them in a day and my mum has been nagging me for the recipe for months. They also have the added bonus of being easy to transport, as there is no frosting to worry about ruining.

I was lucky enough to be sent some vanilla pods recently and the addition of one of these to the cream cheese frosting was an indulgent treat. If you don’t have access to one or just can’t justify spending the money, feel free to use vanilla extract.

My biggest tip for these very simple to make cupcakes is to ensure you don’t overfill the cases. The cake does rise quite significantly and if you have too much filling you will get overflow (and lose most of the cream cheese). Also be careful not to over bake them to ensure a moist cake and prevent drying out the cream cheese topping. The best advice I can give you? Eat one warm from the oven. I promise you, you will thank me for it!

Caramel Bottom Cupcakes

100g unsalted butter
100g white chocolate
100g brown sugar
90ml hot water
2 tsp golden syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
1 cup plain flour
2 tsp baking powder

Preheat the oven to 160° and prepare your cupcake cases. In a medium saucepan place the butter, chocolate, sugar, hot water, vanilla and golden syrup. Over low-medium heat melt together and using a whisk, stir to combine. The white chocolate may take a while to dissolve, just keep stirring. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Once cooled add the egg and whisk thoroughly. Sift in the flour and baking powder in small batches, whisking between each addition. The batter should change from a dark caramel colour to a lighter butterscotch. Ensure the flour is completely mixed in and has no lumps before spooning into the cupcake cases. As warned (and I speak from experience) don’t fill further than half way.

Caramel Cream Cheese

140g cream cheese
1/3 cup caster sugar
1 egg
Seeds from 1 vanilla pod/1 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
¾ cup caramel chips

In a small bowl beat together the cream cheese, sugar, egg, salt and vanilla on medium speed. I like to leave my mixture with a few lumps of cream cheese but you can process it until it is smooth if you’d prefer.

Stir in the caramel chips, then spoon a teaspoon or so of mixture onto the caramel cake bases. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until the cream cheese is firm and lightly golden.

Sticky Date Pudding

 

It’s so much easier to find desserts to have in summer. With an abundance of fruit available it is simple to throw something light and fresh together. Not to mention the ice-creams and sorbets to help cool down the hot days. But in winter? Finding something light and delicious that helps keeps you warm can be tricky. That’s why it can be good to stick with the classics: sticky date pudding.

I love this recipe. It’s simple and fast to make and the resulting pudding is rich and moist and not at all heavy. I adapted a Donna Hay recipe by adding vanilla and using chopped dates rather than processing them as she suggests. I love that you get small chewy chunks of date throughout the pudding but if this isn’t your style, feel free to blend them before adding to the other ingredients.

The butterscotch sauce is incredible. Do make sure you use a large saucepan to allow the mixture to boil properly without making a mess of your stovetop. The creamy and rich sauce pairs so well with the light and fluffy pudding that it’s hard to only have one piece. Best served with thick cream or ice-cream.

Sticky Date Pudding

Adapted from recipe by Donna Hay

1.5 cups chopped pitted dates
1 cup boiling water
1 tsp baking soda
100g unsalted butter
¾ cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 cup self-raising flour
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 180° and prepare a baking tin (26 x 16cm) with baking paper. Place the dates, hot water and baking soda in a bowl and allow to sit for 5 minutes.

Cream butter and sugar in a mixing bowl then add the eggs and vanilla and mix well. Pour in the dates with the liquid and stir to combine. Sift in the flour and mix until smooth. Pour into prepared tin and bake for 30-35 minutes.

Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before cutting and serving. Use this time to prepare the butterscotch sauce.

Butterscotch Sauce

150g unsalted butter
1 cup cream
1.5 cups brown sugar

Place all the ingredients in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir until melted and then increase the heat to bring the mixture to the boil. Allow to cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens. Pour over pudding and serve with cream or ice-cream.

Lemon Layer Cake

I’m really lucky to have some great neighbours. We live in an apartment building where it is all too easy to shut the door and ignore the outside world. It is only over the last year or so that I’ve gotten to know the people living so close to us and I’m so glad I did. It can really help to have friends nearby especially when you have freshly baked goods you need to offload to avoid eating all of them!

When my lovely neighbour Bec celebrated her birthday last week I thought it was only appropriate that I bake her a cake. Being that it is only her and her boyfriend at home I didn’t want to make a giant cake, but rather something small and simple. Unfortunately I only had one small baking tin so each layer was baked separately (hence the variation in sizes) and then assembled.

The lemon in this cake is bright and delicious and pairs well with the cream cheese and coconut frosting. Using lemon curd in the layers also helps bring out the tanginess, feel free to use store bought or make your own.

The edges of the cake can get a bit dry so I would recommend covering the cake with foil as it is baking if it starts to brown too quickly. The recipe converts well into a full sized cake if you’d rather make it that way. Using a 10cm cake tin I made five small cakes which, when sliced, equated to two frosted cakes.

Happy birthday Bec x

Lemon Cake
Adapted from recipe by Donna Hay

220g melted butter
1.5 cups caster sugar
2 eggs
1 cup cream
¼ cup lemon juice
2 tbsp lemon rind
2 cups plain flour
2 tsp baking powder

Preheat the oven to 180° and prepare your baking tins. In an large bowl place your cooled butter, sugar, eggs, cream, lemon juice and rind and beat on a low speed until combined.

Sift the flour and baking powder into the bowl and beat for 3-4 minutes on medium speed until smooth. Pour into tins and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before cutting and frosting.

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

250g cream cheese, softened
65g butter
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
4-5 cups icing sugar

In a medium sized bowl beat together the cream cheese, butter, vanilla, lemon juice and zest until smooth, about 5 minutes. Sift the icing sugar in a cup at a time, combining with each addition, until you get a thick spreadable frosting.

When assembling the cake spread a layer of lemon curd on each layer before adding the frosting. Continue to add layers until you get the height you desire. I would recommend keeping everything cold to help make the process easier. Cover the top and sides of the cake in more frosting, then press desiccated coconut onto each surface to cover the cake.

Crunchy Choc-Mint Cookies

After all the citrus over the last couple of weeks it was definitely time for some chocolate. I have a complete weakness for anything choc-mint flavoured and these cookies do not disappoint. Crunchy and crumbly with delicious ganache filling it’s hard to stop at one.

The recipe is simple enough but it is time consuming, mostly due to the waiting times for each step to set or cool. If you can spare the time these rich biscuits make for great gifts and the layers of chocolate make quite a heavy treat so you only need a couple per person.

I wanted to take some pictures of dipping the cookies into the melted chocolate, but it was such a messy process I didn’t think they would look too glamorous! I would recommend using simple cookie shapes to help make the dipping process easier and ensuring you have everything set out and ready to go before you start. As you can see I did just drizzle some cookies with chocolate instead of coating them which was much easier, but the overall taste was better when coated in a thick layer.

Chocolate Mint Cookies

250g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups plain flour
½ cup rice flour
2 tbsp cocoa

Ganache

200g mint chip chocolate
1/3 cup thickened cream

Chocolate coating

200g dark chocolate
200g milk chocolate
1 tsp peppermint essence

In a large bowl beat butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy, approximately 5 minutes. Sift in the flours and cocoa and beat on slow speed until combined. Gather the mixture together and press into 4 small disks. Cover with clingwrap and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.

While you’re waiting make the ganache by finely chopping the mint chocolate and placing in a bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan until almost boiling. Pour the cream over the chocolate and let sit without stirring for 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the cream and continue to whisk until the mixture is smooth. Cover with clingwrap and refrigerate until needed.

Preheat the oven to 160° and prepare trays with baking paper. Roll out a disc of dough to 3mm thick and use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes. I would recommend simple shapes as the dough is pretty fragile (and it will make coating them with chocolate easier). Place on trays and bake for 8-10 minutes or until firm. Transfer to wire racks and allow to cool completely.

When cool, spread ganache on cookies and sandwich together. Pace back in fridge for 15 minutes or until set.

Using a bowl set over a pan of simmering water, melt the dark and milk chocolate and add the peppermint essence. Dip cookies in chocolate and cover completely, scraping off any excess. Allow to set on wire racks.

Keep cookies in an airtight container, preferably in the fridge.

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