November 22, 2013

Black-Bottom Cookie Bars

This glorious recipe makes a soft, chewy combination of cookies and brownies.  It's heavenly.  The brownie-bottom is packed full of choc chips and chopped walnuts while the cookie-top is sweet and smooth.  Together, they're absolutely delicious!

Recipe Adapted From: Bake or Break
Ingredients - 20 cm (8 inch) square tin
250g butter
185g brown sugar
125g white sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
310g flour
1/2 tsp salt
15g cocoa powder
1 1/4 cups choc chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 175C (350F) and line a 20cm (8 inch) square baking tin (or equivalent) with baking paper.

2. Melt the butter.

3. Beat the butter with both sugars.  Add eggs one at a time and combine, then stir the vanilla in.

4. Gradually add the flour and salt until just combined.

5. Divide the batter into two bowls - put a little more than half into one bowl (this will be your blondie part) and keep the rest in your mixing bowl.

6. Mix the cocoa powder, chocolate chips and chopped nuts (if you're using them) into the smaller portion of the batter.

7. Place the chocolate batter into your pre-lined baking tin and spread it as evenly as you can.

8. Spread the plain batter on top of the chocolate batter.  You might think that it won't spread easily (I thought the same thing), but it goes on smoothly like peanut butter!

9. Bake for about 30 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

10. Cool your creation in the tin and then cut into morsels of whatever size you please.


October 31, 2013

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

These decadent cupcakes are rich and fudgy - a delicious combination of chocolate and peanut butter!

Recipe adapted from: Sis. Boom. [blog!]
Ingredients - chocolate batter
170g dark chocolate
113g butter
125g white sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
105g flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt (if using unsalted butter/margarine)

Ingredients - peanut butter filling
92g icing sugar
52g butter
3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1/4 tsp salt (if using unsalted butter/margarine)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 165 C (325 F) and prepare your cupcake tin with patty pans.

2. Make the chocolate batter.  Melt the chocolate and butter and set aside to cool.

3. Beat the eggs and sugar with the vanilla, then add the cooled chocolate mixture.  Set this batter aside.

4. Make the peanut butter filling.  Melt the butter and mix it with the icing sugar, peanut butter, salt and vanilla extract.  My mixture wasn't very liquid so I heated the bowl above a saucepan of boiling water to make everything a bit more workable.  (Only do this if you're using an appropriate bowl!)

5. Assemble the cupcakes.  Spoon some of the chocolate mixture into the patty pans then plop some of the peanut butter filling on top.  Use a toothpick or a small knife to swirl the batter around.

6. Bake the cupcakes for about 30 minutes or until the tops are lightly browned and an inserted toothpick comes out with only a few crumbs on it.

7. Let the cupcakes cool and then consume at your leisure!

October 23, 2013

Pumpkin Pie

This recipe comes by way of one of the teachers I had on camp in high school, Ms Bahn.  She introduced myself and my friends to pumpkin pie.  This recipe is delicious and homey, very spicy (as in ginger/cinnamon etc, not chili) and easy to make as well!  The recipe makes a very large volume, so if you only need a little pie for the family you could probably halve the recipe.

Ingredients - makes enough to feed ten people
2 cups cooked pumpkin, mashed
1 tbsp vanilla essence
3 eggs
500g white sugar
1 tbsp salt
3 tbsp flour
4 cups milk
Ground cinnamon and ginger to taste
Puff/shortcrust pastry

1. Preheat the oven to 190 C (375 F).  Cook the pumpkin and mash it.  I steamed my pumpkin and just used a fork to mash it up.

2. Mix the vanilla, eggs, sugar, salt, flour and milk into the pumpkin.  Flavour it to your liking with ground cinnamon and ginger.

3. Prepare your chosen receptacles with puff pastry or shortcrust pastry.  I used some shortcrust pastry and a square casserole dish as well as a cupcake tin.  Make sure that you swipe the dishes/tins with a bit of butter before you put the pastry in because they do tend to stick!

4. Pour the pumpkin mixture into the pastry-lined receptacles and bake.  If you're doing a large pie (like mine in a casserole dish), you'll need about 1 hour but the littler ones in the cupcake tin will only take about 30 minutes.

Depending on your oven and the size of your pies, this will vary so use your own judgement!  When it's done, the pie will be solid but should jiggle a bit when the dish is moved.

(You can make mini pumpkin pies in individual souffle ramekins for easy eating.)

5. Let the pie/s cool and consume at your leisure.  They taste good cold out of the fridge, as well as when they're heated up or straight out of the oven.


October 15, 2013

Pecan Decadence Cookies

Want a rich, bittersweet, fudgy cookie with the smooth crunch of pecans?  Look no further, this is your recipe.

Recipe adapted from: Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-In-Your-Mouth Cookies by Alice Medrich
225g dark chocolate
25g butter
2 eggs
100g white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
40g flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt (if using unsalted butter/margarine)
170g chocolate chunks or chocolate chips
200g pecans or walnuts, chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 175 C (350 F).

2. Melt the 225g dark chocolate with the butter and stir until smooth.  Set aside to cool.

3. Whisk the eggs, sugar and vanilla essence together.

4. When the chocolate mixture is cool, mix it into the chocolate.

5. Stir the flour, baking powder and salt (if you're using it) into the batter.  Resist the urge to add more flour - due to the high concentration of chocolate, this batter hardens up pretty quickly!

6. Stir the chopped nuts (I used pecans) and chocolate chunks into the mixture until they're evenly distributed.

7. Scoop out spoonfuls of batter and place onto your baking paper/silicone sheet covered baking tray.  Make sure to let the batter fall exactly where you want it because it's difficult to move these babies without making a mess!  Keep them quite far apart because they flatten out quite a lot.

8. Bake the cookies for about 12 minutes or until the surface of the cookies looks dry and has cracked.  Don't bake them too long because you want the centres to be gooey.

9. Let the cookies cool on their trays and then transfer them to a drying rack to cool completely.  Alternatively, eat them fresh out of the oven when the chocolate's still melty inside.


October 8, 2013

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars

These bars have an interesting combination of tastes and textures.  The oats make it very muesli-bar like, but then you hit the smoothness of the chocolate and taste the hint of cinnamon.  Overall it creates a delicious bar that seems healthy.  Oats, am I right?

Recipe adapted from: pdxfoodlove
Ingredients (20 cm (8 inch) square tin)
125g white sugar
92g brown sugar
62g butter
155g flour
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp bicarb soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
85g choc chips or choc chunks

1. Preheat the oven to 190 C (375 F).  Line a 20cm square baking tin or equivalent with baking paper.

2. Cream the white and brown sugar with the butter and peanut butter.

3. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until combined.

4. Stir the bicarb soda, cinnamon, baking powder and flour, then the oats and choc chips.

5. Spread the mixture into the prepared baking tin and bake for about 25 minutes or until the edges are golden brown.  I baked mine for a bit longer, which resulted in a firmer texture - bake for less if you prefer the bars to be more squishy.

6. Cool the bars in the tin then cut into squares or rectangles.

October 2, 2013

Rich Chocolate Sorbet

Hello, and I hope you're ready to meet the newest addition to our kitchen.  After much um-ing and ah-ing, in which Mum made a batch of delicious chocolate sorbet and we all became frustrated with the time it took to chill (HOURS), we traipsed down to the shops to get a thing.

The thing is a Cuisinart ice cream maker, which I have dubbed 'Rotato', because I like to name things.  And the bowl rotates.  It all makes sense in my head.

From what I've gathered, there are two types of ice cream makers - the ones with a refrigeration unit inside that cools the ice cream mixture as it churns it without the need to refrigerate anything separately, and those that are basically churners with bowls that you have to freeze beforehand.  This particular ice cream maker is the freezy-bowl variety.  The bowl is double insulated with liquid within, and you have to keep it in the freezer until the liquid is completely frozen.  Then tip your ice cream mixture in, churn for about 25 minutes, and voila!  Ice cream!

Of course, we had to test it out as soon as the bowl was properly frozen, so Mum made another batch of the chocolate sorbet.  This is seriously good stuff; it's intensely chocolatey, rich and smooth.  It's also dairy-free and egg-free as well!  If you don't like chocolate ice cream but you love chocolate, I can pretty much guarantee that you'll like this sorbet.

Recipe adapted from: David Lebovitz via food52
555mL water (divided into 375mL and 180mL portions)
200g white sugar
75g cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
185g dark chocolate
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1. In a saucepan, whisk 375mL of the water with the white sugar, cocoa powder and salt.

2. Let the mixture come to the boil, whisking frequently.  It'll boil pretty aggressively because it's a sugar syrup with more stuff added in, and boiling sugar syrup gets mad, yo.

3. Boil and whisk for about 45 seconds then remove from the heat.

4. If your chocolate comes in a block, chop it up until it's in little choc chip sized pieces.  Add the chocolate to the sugar mixture and stir until it's melted and combined.

5. Stir the remaining water and vanilla extract into your mixture.

6. Blend the mixture in a blender for about 20 seconds.  We used a stick (handheld) blender just in the saucepan and that worked well.

7. Let the mixture chill.  If you want this done quickly, pour it into a brownie pan to maximise surface area and pop the pan into an ice bath.

8. Once the mixture is cold, pour it into your ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer's instructions.  We did it for 25 minutes but we could have gone longer for a firmer sorbet.

If you don't have an ice cream maker, freeze the mixture in the freezer and take it out every now and then and beat it with the paddle attachment on a stand mixer.  This mimics the churning of an ice cream machine and breaks up the ice crystals - your finished product won't be as smooth and it will take a long time to get the sorbet to the right consistency, but it's still good.

After 25 minutes of churning, the sorbet was soft-serve consistency straight out of the ice cream maker.

When decanted into a container and frozen for longer, the sorbet reaches a scoopable consistency.


September 29, 2013

Cream Cheese Espresso Swirl Brownies

These brownies are a combination of fudgy chocolate and tangy coffee-tinged cream cheese goodness.  Absolutely amazing!

Recipe adapted from: Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-In-Your-Mouth Cookies by Alice Medrich
Ingredients - brownies (17 x 26 cm (6.5 x 10 inch))
1 recipe Steve Ritual brownies (omit the nuts)
Ingredients - cream cheese swirl
1 tbsp instant coffee
1 tbsp water
225g cream cheese
65g white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg

1. Preheat the oven to 200 C (400 F) and line a 22cm (9 inch) square tin or equivalent with baking paper.

2. Prepare the brownie batter (see this method).

3. Spread all but about 1/2 cup of the batter in the baking tin.

4. Combine the instant coffee with the water in a small bowl.  I used hot water for this.

5. Mix the cream cheese with the sugar and vanilla until smooth.  This is easy to do since the cream cheese is soft, so I did it by hand.

6. Stir the egg and the coffee mixture into the cream cheese mixture.  Beat until smooth.

7. Spoon dollops of the coffee batter and the reserved brownie batter onto the top of the batter that's already in the tin.  Make sure that the dollops are nicely separated so that the brown and white colours are alternating.

8. Using a knife, gently swirl through the dollops back and forth (just dip the knife in, don't push it all the way down to the bottom of the baking tin).  Swirl as you like until a nice pattern forms - keeping in mind that if you mess with it too much, the colours will blend together and won't look as good.

9. Bake the brownies for about 25 minutes.  When it's near the end of that time, prepare the Steve Ritual ice bath by finding a pan big enough to hold the brownie tin and filling it about 3/4 full of water and ice cubes.

10. When the brownies are done, set the tin straight into the ice bath and leave to chill.

11. Cut into rectangles or squares and enjoy!

September 21, 2013

Peanut Butter Cookies

These cookies are lovely, with a slightly crumbly outside, soft inside and the delightful crunch of peanuts all the way through.

Recipe adapted from: Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-In-Your-Mouth Cookies by Alice Medrich
105g butter
50g brown sugar
150g white sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
315g crunchy peanut butter (alternatively, use about 280g smooth peanut butter and 35g peanuts)
190g flour
1/2 tsp bicarb soda
1 tsp salt

1. If you're using smooth peanut butter, chop the peanuts into small bits and set aside.

2. Beat the butter, brown sugar and white sugar together until creamy but not fluffy.

3. Add the egg, vanilla, peanut butter and peanuts (if you're using them) and mix until combined.

4. Add the flour, bicarb soda and salt then mix until incorporated.  At this point, my family ate most of the dough.

5. Cover the (remaining) dough and let it sit in the fridge for at least two hours and up to three days.  I kept mine refrigerating for about 4 hours.

6. When you're ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 165 C (325 F).

7. Roll the dough into balls a bit larger than 1 tablespoon and place on baking trays lined with silicone or baking paper.  Flatten the balls a bit with the tines of a fork or your palm if you'd prefer non-lined cookies.

8. Bake for about 15 minutes or until the cookies are golden.  I baked mine for closer to 20 minutes, but my oven is notoriously inaccurate with temperature.

9. Let the cookies cool before storing or devouring.

September 14, 2013

Marbled Chocolate-Pistachio Loaf

This recipe is for a lovely cakey loaf, which is sweet, moist and very visually pleasing.  It does take quite a while to make since you have to make the two different batters using different techniques, but it's definitely worth it!  I found that the finished loaf lacks a strong pistachio flavour, but the pistachio batter takes on a honey flavour that contrasts beautifully with the chocolate.  The pistachios sprinkled over the top get lovely and toasted in the oven, adding a fragrant crunch to top everything all off!

Recipe adapted from: Chocolat: The Chocolate Bible by Le Cordon Bleu
Ingredients - chocolate batter (11 x 21 cm (4 x 8 inch) loaf)
60g butter
3 eggs
210g caster sugar
90mL cream
A pinch of salt (if using unsalted butter)
135g flour
30g cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder

Ingredients - pistachio batter
60g butter
1 tbsp water
200g caster sugar
1 tsp honey
35g pistachios
3 eggs
90mL cream
A pinch of salt (if using unsalted butter)
165g flour
1 tsp baking powder
Additional pistachios for garnishing

1. Preheat the oven to 160 C (320 F) and line a loaf pan with baking paper.

Make the chocolate batter.
2. Melt the butter in the microwave and set it aside to cool.

3. Beat the eggs and sugar until light and creamy.  I used a handheld mixer.

4. Gently beat in the cream, melted butter and salt.

5.  Sift the cocoa powder then fold it into the batter along with the flour and baking powder.  Set the chocolate mixture aside.

Make the pistachio batter.
6. Melt the butter and set it aside to cool.

7. Heat the water, 20g of sugar and the honey in a small saucepan.  I used a tiny one-egg size frying pan.  Stir until the sugar is dissolved and then bring to the boil.  Remove from the heat and set aside.

8. In a blender, blitz the pistachios until they're a fine powder.  My food processor wasn't awesome enough for this, so I ended up with finely chopped pistachios.

9. Pour the honey mixture into the blender and whiz until a paste is formed.

10. Combine the eggs, remaining sugar (180g) and pistachio paste.  To do this, I beat the eggs and sugar then used the flat of a spatula to smear the paste over the side of the bowl to blend it in.  The paste is very sticky, so it didn't beat straight in with my hand mixer.  (I suspect that it might have been easier if I used the Kitchenaid with the paddle attachment).  My method took a bit of time and elbow grease, but worked eventually!

11. Gently beat in the cream, melted butter and salt.

12. Fold the flour and baking powder into the mixture.

Assemble the loaf.
13. Alternate large scoops of the pistachio and chocolate mixture in the loaf tin, building it up layer by layer.  There isn't a definitive method of doing this, just lump it all in there however you feel like!  When you're done, use a knife to swirl the mixture a bit.  Don't over-swirl or you'll lose the definition between the two coloured batters.

14. Sprinkle some pistachios over the top.

15. Bake for about 1 hour, or until a skewer inserted into the loaf comes out clean.  I had to bake mine for about 1 hour and 45 minutes in my finicky oven.

16. Let cool in the pan for a bit, then let the loaf cool completely on a wire rack.