April 5, 2014

Chocolate Mud Cake

I've always had the impression that mud cake should be like its name - dense and fudgy - but after ordering mud cake at restaurants one too many times, I've learnt a hard truth.  Mud cake is always dry, slightly crumbly, but with an upside of intense chocolatey-ness.  If you want a fudgy cake, you have to go for something different.

Of course I had to bake it for myself to see, and yes, dryness is a big factor, which is quite unfortunate.  This can be mitigated by heating the cake up and serving with some kind of sauce, and after that it's quite acceptable, but given that I'm a fan of moist cakes, this isn't a recipe I'll be reaching for very often.

Recipe adapted from: Simple Essentials Chocolate by Donna Hay
375g butter
230g brown sugar
3 eggs
300g flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
80g cocoa powder
200g dark chocolate
180mL (6 fl oz) milk

1. Preheat the oven to 160C (320F).

2. Melt the chocolate and set it aside to cool.

3. Beat the butter and sugar until light and creamy.

4. Add the eggs one at a time, beating between each addition.

5. Sift the cocoa powder.

6. Fold the flour, baking powder, cocoa powder and melted chocolate into the batter.

7. Stir in the milk until combined.

8. Pour the batter into a 22cm round tin and bake for 1 1/4 hours or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

This cake is best served warm with cream, coulis or, if you have it, it's glorious with a dollop of praline paste!

March 10, 2014

White Chocolate Cake with Lemon Glaze

The majority of my household, myself included, are worshippers of dark chocolate.  Then there's my Dad - who loves white chocolate.  This is very handy as he voluntarily picks the white chocolates in assortments while the rest of us fight over the others.

The downside is that he always asks me to bake things with white chocolate and I always say "uhhhh...no."  However, occasionally, I acquiesce to his request and do something like this; a delicious white chocolate cake with a tart lemony glaze.

I'm so glad that I made this, because the cake had a perfect fluffy-yet-dense texture and the glaze complemented the sweet heaviness of the white chocolate so well.  Just make sure that you use good quality white chocolate to make this - David Lebovitz says that the only fat it should contain is from the cocoa butter and milk.  If it has vegetable oil, it's a no-go!  Mum bought white chocolate from Koko Black especially for this  (it was worth it).

Recipe adapted from: David Lebovitz
Ingredients - cake
150g butter
170g white chocolate
Zest of one lemon (alternatively, use about a teaspoon of lemon juice if you don't have lemons on hand)
150g white sugar
2 eggs
150g flour

Ingredients - glaze
120g icing sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice

1. Preheat the oven to 190C (375F) and line a 20cm square cake tin with baking paper.

2. Gently heat the butter, white chocolate, salt and lemon zest in the microwave, stirring frequently, until the chocolate is melted.

3. Whisk the sugar with the eggs (I did this by hand), then add the white chocolate mixture and whisk until combined.

4. With a spatula, fold the flour into the batter, making sure not to overmix.

5. Pour the batter into your prepared tin and bake for about 30 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

6. Let the cake cool for a moment then transfer it to a wire rack to cool completely.

7. It's time to make the lemon glaze!  It's easy-peasy - mix the icing sugar and lemon juice together until smooth.

8. Pour the glaze over the cake, making sure to spread it out so that there are some sweet little drips over the side.

Then, you can either wait until the glaze hardens, or you can dig straight in and enjoy!

February 28, 2014

Macadamia Gianduja Chunk Cookies

These chunky cookies are melt-in-your-mouth shortbread packed full of creamy gianduja and crunchy macadamias.  This recipe originally calls for hazelnuts, which ties in with the gianduja, but I only had macadamias on hand when I made this and it was still glorious.

Recipe adapted from: Chewy Gooey Crispy Cruncy Melt-In-Your-Mouth Cookies by Alice Medrich
225g butter/margarine
125g white sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt (if using unsalted butter/margarine)
310g flour
125g chopped gianduja (or milk chocolate if you don't have gianduja on hand, though I highly recommend getting some because it's so good)
3/4 cup macadamias or hazelnuts

1. Chop your gianduja into largish chunks.  Roughly chop the macadamias and toast them in a frypan or in the oven on the grill setting, then set them aside to cool.

2. Beat the butter, sugar, vanilla and salt until blended.

3. Stir in the flour until moistened.

4. Stir the gianduja and nuts into the dough.  At this point, my dough was kind of bitsy and didn't really look like a normal biscuit dough; but have no fear!

5. Refrigerate the dough for a few hours or overnight if you can.

6. When you're ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 160C (325F).

7. Using your hands, take roughly tablespoons of dough and pat them together to form a ball.  Due to the sheer amount of nuts and gianduja, you may need to do a bit of squishing to make sure the cookies stick together!

8. Place the dough balls on baking paper or silicone mats, making sure they have a little space to spread (about 5cm).

9. Bake for about 20 minutes or until they are lightly golden on the top.

10. Cool the cookies and consume at your leisure.  If desired, sift some icing sugar on top for that extra touch of sweetness.

February 20, 2014

Fairy Bread

I am often surprised by how many foods are so well known in Australia and are relatively or completely non-existent overseas.  Tim Tams, for one; Tiny Teddies, Vegemite and the glorious fairy bread.

If you are unfamiliar with fairy bread, it is rainbows, happiness and very easy to make.  It's popular in Australia at children's birthday parties - I made it for my Mum's birthday and we had it for lunch.  (Super nutritious and totally age appropriate, obviously).

All you need for fairy bread are 100s and 1000s (rainbow sprinkles - the more artificial colouring, the better...), fresh white bread and butter/margarine.  Place the sprinkles in a shallow dish, spread the bread with butter, dunk the bread into the sprinkles and cut into shapes of your choosing.  It'd be really cute to use cookie cutters and have fairy bread in hearts and stars!

In all seriousness, fairy bread is fun and delicious - I definitely recommend it for celebratory occasions!

January 24, 2014

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Choc Chip Cookies

These delicious peanutty creations are made extra wholesome by the addition of rolled oats.  Choc chips are optional, but of course I couldn't resist!

Recipe adapted from: Hidden Ponies
125g butter
140g peanut butter
125g white sugar
93g brown sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
170g flour
100g rolled oats
1/2 tsp bicarb soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt (if using unsalted butter/margarine)
1 cup chocolate chips

1. Preheat the oven to 190C (375F).

2. Beat the butter, peanut butter, brown sugar and white sugar until light and fluffy.

3. Beat in the egg and vanilla essence until combined.

4. Mix the flour, oats, bicarb soda, baking powder and salt.

5. Fold the flour and oat mixture into the batter until combined.

6. Finally, stir the chocolate chips into the batter.

7. Roll the dough into balls the size of your choosing, place onto baking paper/silicon mats and bake for about 12 minutes.

8. Allow the cookies to cool on wire racks...or just eat them when they're warm.

January 11, 2014

Chocolate Hazelnut Crunch Cake

This cake is one of my few 'original' creations (original here meaning that I tweak various recipes then smoosh them all together) and boy, is it good.  It's a combination of moist chocolate cake, a crunchy chocolate-hazelnut layer and chocolate mousse to top it all off. 

Ingredients - cake (recipe adapted from The Australian Women's Weekly Cakes & Slices Cookbook)
60g dark chocolate
63 butter
1 tsp vanilla essence
166g caster sugar
1 egg
155g self raising flour
95mL milk

Ingredients - crunchy (recipe adapted from Pierrick Boyer)
220g praline paste
115g paillete feuilletine
35g butter
50g dark chocolate

Ingredients - mousse (recipe adapted from Pierrick Boyer via Taste le Tour 2008)
100g dark chocolate
100g butter
2 egg whites
50g caster sugar

Method - cake
1. Butter a 20cm round cake tin and line the bottom with baking paper, preheat the oven to 190C (375F).

2. Melt the chocolate and set aside to cool.

3. Cream the butter and sugar with the vanilla essence until light and fluffy.  Add the egg and beat until combined.

4. Fold half the flour into the batter, then all the milk and the remaining flour.

5. Mix the cooled chocolate in until combined.

6. Spread the batter into the prepared cake tin and bake for about 30 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.

7. Let cool on a wire rack and get started on the rest of the cake!

Method - crunchy
1. Melt the chocolate and butter.

2. Mix the paillette feuilletine into the butter mixture.

3. Mix the praline paste in until combined.

Method - mousse
1. Melt the chocolate and butter and mix until combined, then set aside to cool.

2. Beat egg whites until firm, then add caster sugar slowly and beat until incorporated.  Be careful not to over-beat!

3. Mix 1/3 of the egg white into the chocolate mixture to lighten it, then fold it into the rest of the egg whites gently.  

All the white streaks of egg white should be gone when you're done.

Method - cake assembly
1. Cut the top of the cake so it's level.

2. Spread the crunchy on top of the cake with a metal spatula, making sure to press down so there are minimal air pockets.

3. Place a cake ring (if you have one) or the ring part of a Springform tin around the whole cake.  I have yet to possess a cake ring so I can say for sure that Springform tins work!

Spread the mousse on top of the crunchy layer.  Leave it messy-looking if you prefer...

...or use a spatula to flatten everything out.

4. Gently work the cake ring off the cake.  You may need to heat the outside or work a spatula around the inside to remove it.

5. Chill the cake to firm it up if required, then cut and serve as you like.

The best thing about this cake is definitely the crunchy layer, which tastes like heaven and Nutella, and is pretty much perfect sandwiched between the smooth mousse and the moist, sweet cake.