February 21, 2010

Peanut Butter and chocolate - in a biscuit.

Before this, I don't think I'd used peanut butter in baking - though I always loved the taste.  So when I came across a recipe for 'Snickery Peanut Butter Oat Cookies' I was determined to give them a go.  They included peanut butter, and Snickers; the only chocolate bar I adore.
After making them, I am pleased to say that they taste delicious, have a just right crunch and the inclusion of chocolate completes this biscuit.  Thank you Anna from Cookie Madness!

Recipe Source: Cookie Madness
Ingredients - makes about 3 dozen
114g butter
100g brown sugar
96g white sugar
135g peanut butter
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarb soda
130g flour
80g oats (quick cooking or old fashioned, not instant)
84g chocolate chips
80g Snickers bars (I used 3 regular sized bars, I think.  And ate the last one.  Yum.)

1. Preheat oven to 177 degrees C.

2. Roughly chop up the Snickers bars.  I chopped them too small, so the addition of the snickers became unnecessary.  If you want to use Snickers, chop them quite big.

3. Cream butter, brown sugar and white sugar in an electric mixer.

4. Beat in the peanut butter, then add egg and beat until combined.  Beat in the vanilla, baking powder and bicarb soda.

5. Fold in the flour, then oats, chocolate chips and Snickers.

6. Take tablespoons of dough and roll them in your hands to shape into balls.  Arrange them on a baking tray lined with baking paper.  Use your palm to flatten them a little.

7. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown.

If big globs of Snickers melt off the biscuit, quickly push them back into the biscuit using an implement - not your fingers.  Let the biscuits cool on the tray for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.

Tips and Suggestions
 - Could do with more peanut butter and choc chips
 - If you're not using Snickers bars, add some extra chocolate chips
 - If you are using Snickers, make sure you cut them big so they're noticeable

February 20, 2010

Pecan Slice

**11/09/2014 - Please see my updated recipe here!

I'd had Pecan Pie before, but couldn't really remember the taste - so I jumped at the chance to try my own pecan creation.  It was worth it.  This Pecan Slice is crunchy, gooey, nutty and downright fantastic all at the same time.

Recipe Source: I can't for the life of me remember.  Though I know it's from someone's blog.
Ingredients - Crust
1 1/2 cups flour
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
6 tbsp cold butter (use more if you want your crust to be less hard.  When I made it, the crust was hard and biscuity.)

Ingredients - Pecan filling
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup corn syrup (glucose syrup)
4 tbsp butter, melted
2 tbsp Bailey's Irish Creme (optional - I didn't use it)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp table salt
1 large egg
2 cups pecans, chopped coarse, toasted (I forgot to toast them - and they turned out OK!)

1. Preheat oven to 175 degrees C.

2. Line a baking tin with baking paper and butter the uncovered sides.  I used a 27cm x 17.5 cm tin.

3. Crust - place flour, brown sugar, butter, salt and baking powder in a food processor and whizz until all combined.

Tip the mixture into your lined tin and pat down until flat and even.

Bake the crust for 20 - 30 minutes, or until light brown and feels cooked.

4. For my Pecan Slice, I used 1 batch of crust and 2 batches of filling.  1 batch of filling just didn't look like enough.  This created a slice with about 1/3 crust and 2/3 filling.  If you want about half-half, use follow the recipe without doubling the filling ingredients.  But more gooey caramelly pecan yummy filling, I assure you, is better - if you want this, then double the filling ingredients.

While the crust bakes, make the filling (1 or 2 batches, your choice!).  Whisk together all ingredients except the eggs and pecans in a medium bowl until just combined.  Add egg and whisk until incorporated.  

Add pecans and mix gently so the pecans are dispersed throughout the mixture.

5. When the crust is done, pour filling on top of it and poke the pecans around so there are pecans everywhere.  If there are some cracks in the crust, don't worry too much unless they are gaping caverns.

6. Bake for 30 - 35 minutes, or until the top is brown and cracks start to form across the surface.

7. Leave to cool in the tin for a bit, then lift out by the baking paper and cut into slices whatever size you desire.  Make sure you try some when it's warm - it's good.

February 18, 2010

Adventures in Opera

Around New Year, Mum and I had gone on a cookbook buying spree funded by some gift cards from my grandmother.  One of our purchases was 'The Fundamental Techniques of Pastry Arts', by the International Culinary Institute and its patisserie chefs.  Quickly it has become our baking bible.  It has revealed many tricks, secrets and techniques as well as shown us exactly how complex baking can be.

Mum's birthday was recently, and I asked her what cake she wanted.  We'd both been itching to try a recipe from the pastry book, so Mum flipped straight to the almost-back of the book and chose Opera Cake.  Maaaaaan.

Opera Cake is traditionally a three layer cake flavoured with chocolate, coffee and vanilla.  On the bottom is a layer of hazelnut cake; then rich ganache; then cake; coffee buttercream; cake; vanilla buttercream; cake; chocolate glacage (glaze).

The cake layers, for us, turned out quite strong yet soft.  Our buttercream, much much different from the plain butter and icing sugar mix we usually make, was made with egg yolks and a whole pile of other stuff.  (Mum loves this buttercream.  Loves it.  It was all I could do to stop her from eating it all before it was added to the cake.)  Our ganache was awesome and chocolatey, as always, and the glacage turned out perfectly.  Hooray for offset spatulas!

Opera cake is not a healthy meal - but it tastes so good.  It contains about a kilogram of butter; don't eat it all at once.

The recipe is long, complicated and would take ages for me to write, so I won't bore you all with the details of epic win and fail.  But it was a lot of fun to make - and here are some photos of the finished product.

February 16, 2010

Banana Bread with Choc Chips

This is a fantastic recipe from my Auntie in Sydney - it's quick, easy, conveniently uses up bananas you've forgotten about and tastes delicious.  Especially with choc chips all through it.

Recipe Source: The 1997 Joy of Cooking
Ingredients - 11 x 21 cm (4 x 8 inch) loaf
185g plain flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
75g unsalted butter
65g sugar
2 eggs
2 ripe bananas (best if they're all squishy)
50g walnuts or pecans
Optional: you can use chocolate chips instead of nuts, or just add the chocolate to the mix.

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.

2. Combine butter and sugar.

3. Sift the flour with the bicarb and baking powder, then beat into the butter and sugar mix.

5. Gradually beat in the eggs, one at a time.

4. Roughly chop the bananas and mash them.

5. Fold the banana, nuts and chocolate into the main mixture.

6. Line a loaf pan with baking paper and spread the batter into it.  Try to get the batter as flat as you can.

7. Bake the loaf for 45 - 60 minutes.  When baked, it should be brown and well risen.
Let the loaf cool in the tin for 5 - 10 minutes, then lift it out using the baking paper.

Slice, and eat.  Mmmm.  Look at all that melty chocolate goodness.  And hey, it's got fruit in it, so it's healthy too!