Tuesday, August 31, 2010

TWD - Espresso Chocolate Shortbread

This week’s TWD recipe is espresso chocolate shortbread and was chosen by Donna of Life’s Too Short not to Eat Dessert. I don’t like coffee but for some reason love espresso shortbread. I have a recipe I have used for years which is just plain espresso shortbread, but I dip the rounds of shortbread in melted dark chocolate.

This recipe is similar to that although uses white sugar instead of the brown sugar my other recipe uses. This recipe also has chocolate in it, but chopped chocolate or chocolate chips throughout the biscuits rather than dipped at the end. This shortbread was delicious! The chocolate chips were great (as anything with chocolate chips is!) and the espresso gave a lovely flavour. I would definitely make these cookies again, and may have to as they lasted only just over 24 hours in my household (I did halve the recipe though!). See what the other TWders thought here.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A blast from the Past

Last weekend we were invited to friends for brunch. When I asked what to bring, they said muffins. I decided to make a lime version of lemon and poppyseed muffins as a kind friend gave me some limes which was a real treat!

Lemon and poppyseed muffins always remind me of the late 1990s and the whole blue and yellow theme for interiors which was popular at the time. In 1999 my husband to be and I moved into our first home, which was a very small apartment, but it was brand new and we were able to pick the colour scheme, which was a blue and yellow one. We had yellow painted walls, blue carpet and a blue kitchen with a very trendy (at the time) navy benchtop. We also got engaged that year, and many of our engagement presents were in the blue and yellow theme – lots of blue temuka pottery with a yellow trim. In my kitchen I would always have pile of lemons “artfully” displayed on one of my blue platters with the yellow trim – and lemon and poppyseed muffins were a firm favourite for using up the lemons.

The muffins haven’t lost their appeal nearly ten years later. Lime works just as well as lemons – the sourness makes a great contrast for the butteriness of the muffins. These are one muffin that substituting the butter for oil doesn’t give you such a good result –you need the butter to give a crunchy exterior and it really does add to the flavour.

Lime Poppyseed muffins

2 c self raising flour
¾ c sugar
Zest of two limes
2 tbsp poppyseeds
1c milk
75g butter, melted
1 egg

• Combine dry ingredients, then separately combine the milk, butter and egg
• Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and mix gently
• Spoon into muffin cases and bake at 200c for 15-18 minutes or until cooked through
• While still hot spoon over a syrup made by mixing ¼ c sugar with ¼ c lime juice

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

TWD - peach tart

This weeks TWD recipe is Crunchy and Custardy Peach Tart and was chosen by Rachel of Sweet Tarte. This posting is short and sweet – a bit like the tart! The tart was very easy to put together – a peach and custard filling in a shortcrust base, topped with a little almond streusel topping. The tart was delicious. I had nothing in the fridge to serve with it (cream would have been perfect) but even unadorned it was lovely. See if the other TWDers loved it too here.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Variation on a theme

I love my Nana’s chocolate chip cookies – I think it is the condensed milk in them which gives them a delicious crisp but kind of soft texture. Using the chocolate chip cookie recipe as a base, there are lots of variations you can make. While I was on maternity leave I made a delicious variation using chopped dried apricots and cornflakes instead of chocolate chips (even as someone who doesn’t like dried apricots I loved these). Today’s recipe is a chocolate and coconut version.

These are the perfect biscuit for the tins – they freeze really well and while they are delicious, they are plain enough to be good for school lunchboxes (I imagine) and to have on hand as a good stand by. They are quick and easy to make, but their taste belies their easiness.

Speaking of quick and easy, our week day meals have become very quick and easy. I used to spend hours pouring over recipe books deciding what to make for dinner – often making two or three new recipes every meal time. Now that we have Harry, a lot less time is utilised doing this. While I still try and make tasty and interesting meals, they really have to be quick, as mealtimes are a busy time – I get home from work, breast feed Harry, feed him his solids, read him some stories, play with him and make dinner all at once. My husband does do a lot of the prep work which does help of course. An example was last night’s dinner – chicken cooked in a sauce made of ½ c sweet chilli sauce, 3 tbsp soy sauce and 3 tbsp fish sauce, served with hokkein noodles, steamed broccoli and chopped roasted peanuts – definitely delicious but less than thirty minutes to prepare.

Chocolate Coconut Cookies

120g butter
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp condensed milk
2 tbsp cocoa powder
3/4 c flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ c coconut

• Cream butter and sugar, then beat in condensed milk
• Stir in dry ingredients
• Roll into balls and flatten with a fork
• Bake at 170c for 15 minutes or until firmish and golden

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Dream Kisses

Ever since I got the second Ladies, A Plate book, I have wanted to make this recipe for Dream Kisses. The books are full of old fashioned favourites – I had never actually heard of dream kisses though until I got the book. I don’t seem to have done so much baking lately, as my husband has asked me not to – now that he is at home, if I bake a batch of biscuits, he will eat the whole lot in one day and he reckons it’s not good for his waist line! So, when my in-laws came to stay last week, it was a good opportunity to bake these dream kisses.

Dream kisses are a little like a louise cake made with brown sugar, without jam and with nuts added! The base is simply a shortbread base, but made with brown sugar, then the topping is a combination of eggs, coconut, sugar and walnuts. The recipe didn’t specify what size tin to make the slice in, so I used an 18x25 cm tin. It was actually probably a bit small, but my next size tin which is 20x30cm would probably have been too big. The result being that the topping probably didn’t bake as dry as I would have liked. If I made these again, I think I would still bake them in the smaller tin, but use only 2 eggs in the topping. They were delicious and a hit with my in-laws (and my husband!). The other thing I did differently was that I creamed the butter and sugar in the base, rather than making it in the food processor – mostly because I am too lazy to clean the food processor!

Dream Kisses (from Ladies, A Plate, a Second Helping)

100g brown sugar
250g flour
170g butter

• Cream the butter and sugar. Stir in the flour and press the dough into a greased and lined tin (see above for sizing)
• Bake at 180c for 15-20 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before putting on the topping below

3 eggs
200g brown sugar
70g coconut
100g walnuts, chopped
1 tbsp flour
1 tsp baking powder

• Whisk together the sugar and eggs, then stir in the remaining ingredients
• Pour over the warm base and bake at 180c for a further 20-25 minutes

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

TWD - Oatmeal Breakfast Bread (muffins)

This week’s TWD recipe is Oatmeal Breakfast Bread and was chosen by Natalie of Oven Love. I actually made this recipe into muffins, as I had limited time and as loaves take a while to bake, I thought I would shortcut the time by making muffins.

This recipe is a relatively “healthy” one. It has comparatively little fat in it, moistness and flavour being created with apple sauce. I didn’t take a special trip to buy apple sauce (it’s not such a common ingredient in NZ as it seems to be in the States), but of course I do have loads of cans of baby apples in my pantry at the moment (I buy canned fruit for Harry, but cook my own everything else), so I used baby apples for the apple sauce component of the recipe. The recipe made twelve muffins – lovely muffins, full of oats, a touch of spice with a lovely walnut cinnamon crumble on top.

I would definitely recommend these as a very quick and easy to make, but delicious muffin. I am sure the loaf version would be delicious as well. See if the other TWDers agree here.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Oatmeal and Raisin Cookies

A couple of weeks ago I was looking for some easy biscuits to make to take to a friends place. I didn’t have any chocolate chips (having a stay at home husband means that sometimes the chocolate chips are eaten simply as a snack!), so couldn’t make my good old favourite, chocolate chip cookies. Instead I found a recipe in Rachel Allen’s book “Bake” for these oat and raisin cookies. I also didn’t have raisins, but I did have sultanas and dried apricots, so I substituted those.

These cookies were delicious – they even tasted vaguely healthy because of the large quantity of oats in them. They had a very pleasant crisp but slightly chewy texture that I really loved. The original recipe had 2 tbsp of water in it, but I found I didn’t need that, so left it out. I would definitely make these cookies again and I can imagine when Harry gets older, these will make a great lunch box treat. And, if your husband doesn’t eat all the chocolate chips, they would make a great addition to these cookies!

Raisin and Oatmeal Cookies (adapted from Bake by Rachel Allen)

110g butter
110g sugar
110g brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
250g rolled oats
110g self raising flour
110g raisins (or chopped dried apricots, sultanas or chocolate chips)

• Cream the butter and the two sugars. Beat in the egg and then the vanilla.
• Stir in the dry ingredients
• Place rough balls of the mixture onto trays and bake at 170c for 15-20 minutes

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

TWD - Chocolate Ganache Ice Cream

This week’s TWD recipe is Chocolate Ganache Ice –Cream and was chosen by Katrina of Baking and Boys. This ice cream was very easy to make – basically you made chocolate ganache, then made custard, combined the two, chilled and then churned in the ice cream maker. I used energy chocolate (which is about 50% cocoa butter I think) which resulted in a rather mild chocolate flavour. But the ice-cream was lovely and creamy. My in laws are staying at the moment and we had the ice-cream for pudding last night with some little banana puddings I quickly whipped up. The combination of banana and chocolate was delicious. The puddings were very easy to make and the recipe is below.

Check out the other TWDers chocolate ganache ice-cream here.

Banana Puddings (adapted from Donna Hay)

5 tbsp sugar
5 tbsp maple syrup
1 c self raising flour
2 eggs
2 mashed bananas
100g butter, melted

• Combine all ingredients in a bowl
• Spoon into four greased ramekins and bake at 170c for 25-30 minutes or until cooked through

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Best Chocolate Brownie

If you have been reading my blog for a while, you will know that I like to try all sorts of new recipes. But, I do have a brownie recipe that I usually use when I am making a bulk amount of brownie that I want to turn out in a particular way. It is a variation of a recipe found the in the first Zarbo cook book. I think I have found an even better brownie recipe now and it comes from the second Ladies, A Plate book.

A good friend’s younger sister died last week - an incredibly sad time for my friend and her family. I wanted to bake something for my friend that was a yummy treat, but one that she could put in the freezer and bring out at a later stage when she wanted to. Brownie definitely fits the bill for this kind of thing – it is quick and easy to prepare, makes a very tasty treat and can be easily frozen as it has no icing to worry about and wont go soft or change texture upon being defrosted. The recipe uses only chocolate – my previous “go to” recipe used cocoa as well and I used to think that is what made it so delicious. I used 70% chocolate for the recipe. It does have a lot of chocolate in it, but the result is a deliciously fudgey brownie and that is the way I like my brownie.

I added chopped walnuts as recommended and also more chopped chocolate as recommended, but I did use 55% cocoa chocolate for the chocolate add ins. This is my new go to recipe and while I share the recipe here, I do encourage you to buy the book, as it is fabulous.

Chocolate Brownie (from Ladies, A Plate, a second helping)

225g dark chocolate
85g butter
180g sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
55g flour
55-115g walnuts, chopped
55g dark chocolate chopped (extra)

• Melt together the chocolate and butter
• Whisk in the sugar (the mixture will go grainy) and the eggs, one at a time, then lastly the vanilla
• Stir in the flour, then nuts and extra chocolate
• Bake in a lined 20cm square tin at 170c for 30-35 minutes

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Chocolate Muffins

I wanted to bake something for our neighbour last week and decided on these chocolate muffins. I would usually have baked cupcakes, but as a full time working mother, cupcakes are a bit tricky these days - I would get to back the cupcakes, but then I wouldn’t be able to stay up late enough to ice them and then the mornings are a rush by the time I get up at 5.30, do some exercise, feed Harry and get myself ready for work – no time for icing! So, muffins it was!

These muffins are double chocolate. They are essentially plain chocolate muffins with a dollop of chocolate ganache in the centre. Quick and easy to make, as muffins are, but just slightly fancier with the filling. This recipe came from Alyson Gofton’s book, Bake. If I was going to bake them again I would add more cocoa to the mixture, or use dutched cocoa – they just weren’t dark enough for me. The ganache centres were a nice surprise though.

Double Chocolate Muffins (Alyson Gofton)

125g dark chocolate
¼ c cream

• Heat cream and add chocolate. Stir to combine and set aside to firm up

1 3/4c flour
½ c sugar
¼ c cocoa
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ c plain yoghurt
½ c milk
1 egg
75g melted butter

• Combine dry ingredients
• Whisk together yoghurt, milk, egg and melted butter and pour into dry ingredients. Mix just to combine
• Spoon half mixture into muffin cases, top with a spoonful of the set aside ganache and then top with the remaining muffin mixture.
• Bake at 200c for 15-18 minutes

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

TWD - Gingered Carrot Cookies

This week’s TWD recipe is gingered carrot cookies and was chosen by Natalia of Gatti Fili e Farina. These are very interesting cookies – Dorie describes them as being almost scone like, but I am not so sure and wonder whether that description gets lost in translation between American and English definitions of scones, biscuits and cookies!

I halved the cookie mixture, but still used one full egg. The cookies turn out to be knobbly little things – they don’t really taste carroty (but then neither does carrot cake). I also didn’t find the ginger flavour that pronounced. I also left out the raisins as I don’t like raisins. The thing I likes best about them was the pecan nuts. I love pecan nuts and find they make a great addition to lots of things (in fact I added the leftover pecans with cumin seeds, currants and diced preserved limes to cous cous we had for dinner with roasted salmon – they made a delicious addition). I wouldn’t make these cookies again. Even though they tasted ok, they don’t look great and I am not sure that they will keep so well. See what the other TWDers thought here.