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.


September 7, 2013

Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

Recipe adapted from: Simple Essentials Chocolate by Donna Hay
Ingredients - biscuit
65g cold butter
40g icing sugar
75g flour
2 1/2 tsp corn flour
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1 egg yolk

Ingredients - ganache
85g dark chocolate
85g gianduja (or use chocolate if you prefer)
185mL cream

1. Preheat oven to 180 C (350 F).

2. In a food processor, combine the butter, icing sugar, flour, corn flour, cocoa powder and egg yolk.  Process until a soft dough forms.

3. Wrap the dough in cling wrap and refrigerate for about half an hour.

4. Roll small portions of the dough (size depending on how large you'd like your cookie sandwiches to be) into balls and flatten them slightly on your baking paper/silicone.  Make sure that the cookies are spaced out enough because they do spread a little.

5. Bake for about 7 minutes then cool on trays.

6. To make the ganache, heat the cream in the microwave then add the chocolate and stir.  I used some gianduja in place of half the chocolate because gianduja makes everything better. When the ganache is smooth, set it aside until it hardens to a more spreadable consistency.

7. Spread the ganache onto half the cookies and sandwich them together.


September 4, 2013

Flourless Chocolate Cake

The recipe for this delicious and moist flourless chocolate cake comes by way of my lovely Auntie Diane.  It's easy to make and tastes absolutely amazing!

Ingredients (20 cm (8 inch) cake)
120g butter
150g dark chocolate
6 eggs
185g caster sugar
150g almond or hazelnut meal

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

2. Melt the butter and chocolate and stir until combined, then add the sugar and mix.  Set the bowl aside to cool.

3. Separate the eggs.  When the chocolate mixture is cool, stir the egg yolks in.

4. Whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form.

5. Mix the almond or hazelnut meal into the chocolate mixture, then gently fold the egg whites in until it's all combined.

6. Butter a 20cm springform tin and line the bottom with baking paper, then pour the batter in and bake for 45 - 60 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.

7. Serve with toppings of your choice.  In these photos, I drizzled the cake with ganache and raspberry coulis.  Delicious!