April 19, 2015

Caramel Pecan 'Turtle' Brownies


I have seen many 'turtle' recipes on the internet, all involving caramel, pecans and chocolate.  I now know that there is a certain sweet called turtles, but I've never seen them in Australia.

All that aside, these brownies are gorgeously dense and chocolatey, and the caramel-pecan layer adds some extra sweet crunchiness.  My favourite way to eat these is either fresh out of the oven or, for a similar effect, briefly heated for about 10 seconds in the microwave so that the caramel oozes out of the middle and the brownie goes soft and warm.

Recipe adapted from: Averie Cooks
Ingredients 32 x 23cm brownie tin (approx 12.6 x 9 inch)
115g butter
170g dark chocolate
2 eggs
185g white sugar
1 tbsp vanilla essence
1 tbsp instant coffee granules (optional)
115g flour
1 cup pecans
About 1 cup (250mL) salted caramel (recipe and method here, just add salt!)

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 175 C (350 F).  Line a brownie tin with baking paper.

2. Melt the butter and chocolate, mix them until combined.

3. Let the chocolate mixture cool for a bit, then whisk the eggs, sugar, vanilla and coffee in.

4. Stir the flour into the mixture. 

5. Chop the pecans into chunks (not too fine).

6. Pour half the brownie batter into the prepared tin.  Bake it for about 15 minutes until the top has just crusted over - don't overbake it!

7. Take the brownie out of the oven and sprinkle the pecans evenly over the top, then pour the caramel on.

8. Carefully spread the rest of the brownie batter evenly on top.

9. Bake the whole brownie for another 25 minutes.

10. Let the brownie cool for a while before cutting it, as it will be difficult when the caramel's all warm and liquid.  You can even put it in the fridge for a while to make sure that everything's set.



These brownies can be enjoyed cold...



Or they can be warmed up in the microwave so that the caramel's melted.  So delicious!



April 12, 2015

Pumpkin Citrus Syrup Cake


This cake is a favourite in our household.  It's moist but not heavy, sweet and citrusy.  The pumpkin gives the cake a great texture.



Recipe adapted from: Women's Weekly Cakes & Slices Cookbook
Ingredients - 23cm square cake
250g butter
2 tbsp orange zest
2 tbsp lemon zest
195g caster sugar
3 eggs
310g flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 cup mashed pumpkin (about 350g)

Ingredients - syrup
6 tbsp orange juice
6 tbsp lemon juice
500g white sugar

Method
1. Preheat your oven to 180C (355F) and line a 23cm square pan or equivalent with baking paper.  I also prepare my pumpkin at this point by chopping it up and microwaving it with a splash of water until it's cooked, then mashing it with a fork and setting it aside to cool.

2. Cream the butter, sugar and zest until light and fluffy.



3. Separate the eggs.  Beat the egg yolks into the butter mixture.  Put the egg whites in another bowl for use later.

4. Mix half the pumpkin into the batter, then half the flour.  Once that's combined, mix in the rest of the pumpkin and the flour along with the baking powder.

5. Whip the egg whites to soft peaks.  Mix a spoonful into the pumpkin batter to lighten it, then gently fold the rest of the egg whites into the batter.

6. Spread the batter into your prepared cake tin, and bake for about an hour.  An inserted toothpick in the middle of the cake should come out clean.



7. Make your syrup!  Combine all the syrup ingredients in a saucepan.  Stir until the sugar dissolves, then bring to the boil and simmer for 2 minutes, without stirring.  Make sure you keep a sharp eye on this as it can tend to boil over!

8. Once the cake has been baked, pour the syrup over the cake in the tin.  You can also poke some holes in the top to let the syrup really get in there.

9. Invert the cake onto a serving plate once the syrup has soaked in.  Then, pour the remainder of the syrup onto the cake.



This cake is glorious when served warm!




April 5, 2015

Cinnamon Sugar Pull-Apart Bread


Hello all!  I hope you're well, and have some time on your hands, because you definitely want to try this recipe out.  I'd actually come across it twice, via Joy The Baker and Chocolatesuze.  Obviously this was a sign that I had to make it for myself.

The most compelling thing about this bread is how the top gently curls like the pages of a book - the bottom of the bread is syrupy and sticky, the middle is fluffy and the top is gloriously crisp and crunchy.  There's something for everyone and it all tastes amazing!

Recipe adapted from: Joy The Baker
Ingredients - bread (22 x 12 cm loaf (approx 8.7 x 4.7 inch))
430g flour (divided into 310g and 120g portions)
63g white sugar
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast (one sachet)
1/2 tsp salt
57g butter
80mL milk
60mL water
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 eggs

Ingredients - topping
250g white sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
45g butter

Method
1. I was using active dry yeast, so I didn't proof the yeast beforehand - however, if you want to make sure that the bread rises and you're not sure if it will without proofing, place your yeast in 3 tbsp of warm water (not too hot!) with a pinch of white sugar.  Let the mixture sit until it's frothy, about 5 minutes.

2. Mix the 310g flour, white sugar, yeast (**if you have proofed the yeast as in step 1, wait until a later step to add it!) and salt in a large bowl - if you're using an electric mixter, use the bowl that comes with it.

3. Place the butter and milk in a microwave safe receptacle and heat in the microwave until the butter has melted.  Mix the water and vanilla in.

4. Pour the milk and butter mixture into the dry ingredients and mix.  I just let my mixer do the work with the dough hook attachment.  **If you are using proofed yeast, add it to the dry ingredients along with the milk and butter mixture.

5. Add both eggs, beating them with a fork to break them up a bit, then mix them into the flour mixture.  It may take a while for everything to come together, but keep mixing!  The dough will end up being very sticky.



6. Grease a large bowl with butter (I just used the same bowl as I was mixing in) and put your dough in.  Let it rest for about 1 hour - you want the dough to double in size.  Leave it in a warm place covered with a clean tea towel or with cling wrap.




7. Once the dough has risen, punch it down and knead a few tablespoons of flour in so that the dough becomes soft rather than sticky.

8. Mix the white sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg for the topping.  Melt the butter in a separate bowl.

9. Roll the dough out into a large rectangle - as large as you can get it!  Brush the dough with the melted butter and sprinkle the cinnamon mixture evenly on top.

10. Cut the dough into six strips along the length.



11. Stack the strips up one on top of the other, then cut the stack into six sections - you'll have six individual stacks of six squares.



12. Line your loaf tin with baking paper and stack the squares into the tin.  I've seen this done on other blogs with the squares stacked all in one direction in the tin, but that configuration didn't work out with my tin at all!

I think that there's definitely room for experimentation; try cutting the dough into whatever size will fit your particular loaf tin best.



13. Cover the dough with a clean tea towel and let it rise for another 45 minutes, until doubled in size.  While this is going on, preheat your oven to 175 C (350 F).

14. Bake the risen loaf for about 35 minutes, until the top is very golden brown.



15. Allow the bread to cool - then tip it out of the loaf tin, peel it apart, and enjoy!



I recommend eating this within 1-3 days while it's still fresh.



March 29, 2015

Nutella Gelato


This gelato is so smooth and creamy that I was amazed it was something I made at home, rather than a high-quality gelati store creation.  My grandfather was in raptures about it.

It's a custard-based recipe so there're egg yolks and stove-top cooking involved, plus lots and lots of Nutella.

Recipe adapted from: Leave Room For Dessert
Ingredients
500mL cream
500mL milk
1 tsp vanilla essence
300g caster sugar, split into two 150g portions
5 egg yolks
300g (or more!) Nutella

Method
1. In a saucepan, heat the cream, milk, vanilla essence and 150g caster sugar over medium heat.  Stir until all the sugar is dissolved.

2. Just before the mixture starts to boil, remove it from the heat.

3. Beat the egg yolks with the other 150g portion of caster sugar until the mixture is thick and pale.

4. Whisk the egg yolk mixture into the cream mixture and heat it again, over low heat, stirring constantly.  Keep heating it until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

5. When the mixture's thickened, stir the Nutella in until everything's combined.

6. Pour the mixture into your ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer's instructions (I used my Cuisinart freezer-bowl ice cream maker).  Alternatively, you can pour this into a shallow brownie tin and put it in the freezer, taking it out every couple of hours and beating it to ensure that it's smooth.



Enjoy!



March 22, 2015

Snickerdoodles


When one of my Mum's friends from America gave her a recipe for 'snickerdoodles' I had no idea what such things could even be.  It turns out that they're vanilla cookies covered in cinnamon and sugar.  The dough is delicious and the finished cookies are nice and crunchy on the outside, softer on the inside.  I recommend dipping these in some tea for extra yumminess.

Recipe adapted from: tasteofhome.com
Ingredients
125g butter
250g caster sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
230g flour
1/4 tsp bicarb soda
1/4 tsp cream of tartar

Sugar coating:
5 tbsp white sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Method
1. Preheat your oven to 190C (375F).

2. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

3. Beat the egg and vanilla into the butter mixture until combined.

4. Fold the flour, bicarb soda and cream of tartar into the mixture.

5. In a small bowl, mix the white sugar and cinnamon together.

6. Form the dough into small balls (I use about a tablespoon of dough per biscuit) and roll them in the cinnamon and sugar mixture.

7. Place the dough on on a baking sheet covered in baking paper or silicone mats, make sure you leave enough room between the cookies as they will spread when baked.



8. Bake the cookies for about 10 minutes, you don't want to over-bake them as then they'll be too crunchy (unless, of course, you like that!)

9. Let the cookies cool on wire racks.  Enjoy!



March 9, 2015

Chocolate Fudge Peanut Butter Cookies


These cookies are beautifully soft and chocolatey, the peanut butter is present but not overwhelming.  Another great chocolate/peanut butter staple!

Recipe adapted from: How Sweet Eats
Ingredients
115g dark chocolate
250g butter
125g peanut butter
375g white sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla essence
310g flour
30g cocoa powder
1 tsp bicarb soda
1/2 tsp salt
250g chocolate chips (more if required...)

Method
1. Melt the 115g dark chocolate in the microwave and set aside.

2. Cream the butter, peanut butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

3. Add the eggs one at a time, beating between additions.  Add the vanilla and beat until combined.

4. Add the flour, cocoa powder (sift this for best results), bicarb soda and salt, mix until combined.  It will be quite a soft dough but that's okay, once you add the melted chocolate it will firm up a bit; and you want these cookies to be gooey and soft in the end.

5. Mix the melted chocolate in, and finally fold the chocolate chips into the batter.

6. Cover the dough and refrigerate for a few hours.  I left mine overnight - you can just cool it for however long you like and bake it when you're ready.

7. When you're ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 175C (350F).

8. Form balls of dough about 1 tablespoon in size (you can go bigger or smaller if you like, but make sure you adjust the baking time accordingly) and place them spread out on a baking tray covered with baking paper or a silicone mat.


9. Bake the cookies for about 10 minutes.  They should be soft in the middle still, you don't want to overbake these and lose their squishiness.