playing with flour

Category: Chocolate

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

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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.

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.

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.

Old-fashioned Chocolate Cake

I love a complicated recipe. Numerous steps, hours of preparation and cooking, multiple techniques. It’s a challenge I’m more than willing to accept. But sometimes it’s good to make something simple and classic, like this chocolate cake. Rich, but not overpowering, dense but not heavy, it comes together incredibly fast. I recommend using good quality chocolate and cocoa as there is nothing else to hide behind, so you will notice the difference. The frosting is deliciously chocolately and super easy to spread. Perfect for a last minute dinner party!

 

Old-fashioned Chocolate Cake

Recipe by Nigella Lawson

200g plain flour
200g caster sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
40g cocoa
175g soft unsalted butter
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
150ml sour cream

Preheat oven to 180° and grease and line two 20cm baking tins.

Cream butter and sugar in large bowl then add all the remaining ingredients: flour, baking powder, bicarb soda, cocoa, eggs, vanilla and sour cream. Mix on medium speed until all combined and smooth.

Pour into prepared tins and cook for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Allow to cool completely on wire racks before frosting.

 

Chocolate Frosting

75g unsalted butter
175g dark chocolate, broken into small pieces
300g icing sugar
1 tablespoon golden syrup
125ml sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt the butter and chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water (If you want you can use the microwave but go slowly!). Allow to cool slightly. Add the golden syrup, vanilla and sour cream and mix to combine.

Seive the icing sugar into the chocolate mixture and whisk until smooth. You may need to adjust the thickness of the frosting by adding a small amount of water or more icing sugar to get your desired texture.

Spread 1/3 of the mixture on one cake, then place the second cake on top. Use the remaining frosting for the top and sides of the cake. Decorate as desired.

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