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Posts tagged ‘Chocolate’

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Cookies

Peanut butter and choc cookies

Peanut butter and choc cookies

These cookies are so simple to make and taste really good. You just need a food mixer, a hand held one is fine, and the ingredients are really straightforward.

Start off by lining a few baking trays with baking parchment – you will need 2 large or 3 small baking trays.

Set the oven to 190 deg C.

You need:

180g plain flour

half a teaspoon of baking powder

a pinch of salt

125g butter or dairy free spread e.g. Nuttelex

60g soft brown sugar

125g smooth peanut butter

1 teaspoon of vanilla essence

1 large egg

125g of dark chocolate either use chips or block chocolate broken into small pieces

1. Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl – flour, baking soda and salt.

2. Beat the sugar and butter together using the food mixer, once it is nicely combined and fluffy add the peanut butter and whisk again.

3. Now beat in the egg and vanilla, it may curdle a little but don’t worry the flour will sort that out.

4. Now mix in the dry ingredients and beat again – the dough should stiffen up quite a bit and you may need to add a little water to soften it, but don’t add too much because it needs to hold together on the baking tray.

5. Lastly stir in the chocolate chips.

6. Now take a dessert spoon of mixture and press it onto the baking tray in a roundish shape. Continue until all of the mixture is  used up. Keep a few centimetres distance between each biscuit because they will spread out.

7. Bake for approx 12 minutes until they are slightly golden and still a little soft in the middle. It is important to taste one just to check.

8. Yum, now get the kettle on – there’s nothing like freshly baked biscuits with a cuppa.

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Stack

Choc peanut stack Choc peanut stack Choc peanut stack

The inspiration for this cake recipe comes from a similar item that I had in Starbucks in Singapore a few years ago. The Starbucks version was yummy but also sickly sweet, and I was reminded of it when a friend at work asked me to make a cake with nuts in it. Originally I thought of making a coffee and walnut cake, but then I thought why not try the stack ? I haven’t made a many layered creation like this before, so I knew it would be a worthy challenge.

I used an 8 inch square (20cm) cake tin with a removable bottom. I am sure it can also be made with a round tin and served as wedges, but I think that the rectangles look nicer. I lined the tin with baking parchment in both directions so that when the cake was done, I could lift it out with the parchment. This makes it adaptable to a square tin without a removable bottom too.

Make the chocolate cake a day in advance. Like bread, it is much easier to slice if it is not fresh out of the oven. I sliced my cake into three horizontal slices, but on reflection, maybe I should have used 4 slices. Use your favourite chocolate cake recipe, the darker the better. If you go for a packet mix, choose one without filling and frosting, and preferably one that uses oil as an added ingredient. Vegetable oil will make the cake very moist.

I also made my caramel a day in advance – I chose to make dulce de leche, where you simmer a can of condensed milk (just place the whole tin in the water, don’t open it) for 3 hours. This is a fairly simple method, just check to make sure that it doesn’t boil dry.

Use the same baking tin to assemble the cake – I re-lined mine with parchment for ease.

I made the base from digestive biscuits and melted butter – like a cheesecake base. You can use dark choc biscuits if you like, but I thought that oaty digestives would give another texture. You need approximately half the weight of butter to biscuits e.g. if using 150g biscuits, melt 75g butter. Whizz up the biscuits to crumb consistency using either a food processor or by bashing them with a rolling pin while they are in a plastic bag. Slowly mix in the butter and line the base of your tin with the mixture – use the base of a glass or cup to push the mixture down – push it into the corners, then put the whole tin in the fridge so that the base sets more firmly as the butter hardens.

Next slice the cake so that it is ready to layer – be careful because each layer will be quite flimsy – you can put parchment between the layer if it helps to lift them.

Now make the mousse and buttercream – each amount should make enough for two layers.

Chocolate mousse:

200g dark chocolate (70% at least)

1 1/2 cups thick cream

2 tablespoons of icing sugar

Using an electric whisk, whisk the cream and icing sugar in a chilled bowl preferably until the cream is stiff rather than runny. While you are doing this, melt the chocolate in a bowl over a double boiler.

Once the chocolate has melted, fold half of the cream into it, it might go a bit stiff and claggy at first, but keep folding and it will smooth out. Then fold in the rest of the cream until it is an even consistency.

Peanut buttercream:

1 cup unsalted butter – soft

1 heaped cup of smooth peanut butter

2 cups of icing sugar sifted

1/2 cup thick cream

a pinch of salt

Using an electric whisk, whip the butter and peanut butter until light and fluffy. Next whisk in the icing sugar. Now whisk in the cream and salt – if it is too stiff to spread, add a little more cream.

When I assembled my cake, I placed choc mousse over the biscuit base, followed by a layer of cake, followed by a layer of peanut butter cream, followed by a layer of cake, then a layer of mousse. I carefully placed some peanut butter cream on top of the mousse (this is why I could have done with another cake layer), and finished off with a layer of cake.

I lightly whisked the dulce de leche with a fork and spread that over the top with a spatula. Then I sprinkled salted peanuts on top. I placed it in the fridge for a few hours before removing from the tin and slicing.

Grown-up Chocolate Bars

Making your own chocolate bars is so easy, and you can guarantee that your guests will love them.

Home made chocolate bars

Home made chocolate bars

The recipe here is for adult chocolate bars with dark chocolate and salty peanuts – but if you really can’t bear to go without milk chocolate, you can make them with milk, just use less butter otherwise they will be really soft. You can vary the fillings to suit your taste, I like glace cherries in mine, but you can also use crystallised ginger, caramelised nuts, slices of Cherry Ripe, M&Ms etc.

Recipe:

250g dark chocolate (try to use at least 70% cocoa) in small pieces

5 tablespoons butter (or dairy free spread)

2 tablespoons honey

1 1/2 to 2 cups of salted peanuts (the salt is essential – it brings out the flavour of the chocolate)

1 small pack of glace cherries

270g Crunchie bars or honeycomb chopped into small pieces

In a double boiler (or a bowl over a saucepan of water), melt the chocolate, butter and honey together. Do this gently and if you are using a bowl over water, don’t let the bowl touch the water.

While this is happening line a standard loaf tin with baking parchment. If you don’t have a loaf tin, you can use any container – a tupperware tub will do.

Put the glace cherries in a sieve and pour boiling water over them to remove the sticky coating. After a few minutes, fun cold water over them to cool them down and dry them off well.

In another bowl combine the peanuts and the honeycomb, then add the glace cherries.

Once the chocolate/butter/honey has melted, take it off the heat and add the nut/honeycomb/cherry mix. Stir well with a spatula.

Transfer to your lined container and pack it down well with the spatula, then chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours.

When ready to serve, remove from the fridge and slice using a very sharp knife.

Chilled bar in the fridge

Chilled bar in the fridge

The bars make a really nice after dinner treat to serve your guests with coffee.

 

Dairy Free Chocolate Brownie

Chocolate Brownies

Chocolate Brownies

I didn’t know if dairy-free chocolate brownies would taste okay, but I made them today and they were rather good.

The dairy item in a ‘normal’ brownie is butter, I replaced the butter with a vegan spread called Nuttelex – which is just emulsified olive oil.

Recipe:

75g plain flour

half a teaspoon of baking powder

a quarter of a teaspoon of salt

160g fine dark chocolate (I used Lindt 70% which is dark enough to be classed as vegan and dairy free)

200g Nuttelex or other non-dairy spread

4 eggs

220g brown sugar (this is half the amount that the original recipe recommended!)

1 teaspoon of vanilla essence

Line a 8 inch  (20cm) square cake tin with baking parchment and heat the oven up to 170 deg C.

Melt the chocolate and spread in a double boiler or a glass bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water – don’t let the water touch the bottom of the bowl.

Meanwhile whisk up the eggs, sugar and vanilla in another bowl until foamy and creamy.

Mix the flour, salt and baking powder together in a separate bowl.

When the chocolate and spread has melted, leave it to cool for a while (but don’t let it go hard) about 5 minutes.

Stir the chocolate mixture into the whisked eggs and mix well. Use a spatula to scrape all of the chocolatey mix out – don’t waste a drop.

Now fold in the flour/salt/baking powder gently until it is all combined.

Pour the mixture into the baking tin and bake for approx 35-40 minutes. When done it should be crispy on top, but gooey in the middle although a skewer should come out clean.

Mmmmm – serve warm with a nice cup of tea.

Chocolate Twists

I made chocolate twists today using my favourite croissant dough recipe, and they were so delicious that I think I should immediately give up work and manufacture chocolate twists for a living.

My success with croissant dough has been a bit up and down, so I have been holding off posting a recipe until I got it just right, but I think this week has taught me that if you leave the dough in the fridge for a few days (e.g. 4-5 days) it just gets better and better.

I also love the maths and science associated with this dough, because the reason that the layers puff up is because the butter creates steam when placed in a very hot oven, so the key thing is to have lots of layers of butter within the pastry, and to have the oven hot when you put the dough in to cook. Please don’t be put off by the dough recipe, it really is quite simple. I recommend rolling and folding it five times, but each roll and fold is very quick, and I can have this dough made and in the fridge in half an hour easily.

The number of rolls and folds is very important. The first fold gives you 3 layers, the second fold gives you 9 layers, the third fold gives you 27 layers, the fourth fold gives you 81 layers, and the fifth fold gives you 243 layers. You can go on and do further folds if you like, but I find that five is sufficient.

The following quantity will make 6 croissants or chocolate twists plus you should have a little bit left to make a little sampler piece – every time I cook I like to make a little taster portion so that I can eat some straight from the oven without breaking into the main yield. If you need a larger quantity, just increase the amounts accordingly.

Dough Recipe

1 cup (150g) of plain flour

37mls water

37mls milk

14g sugar

18g melted butter

1/4 tablespoon yeast

1/2 teaspoon salt

70g butter slightly soft

1. Flatten the 70g portion of butter between two sheets of baking parchment to form a square approximately 13-14cm square. Wrap it in the parchment and place it in the fridge.

2. Mix all the other ingredients together in a bowl. Stir with a spatula to combine and as they come together, use your hands to knead the dough into a ball. If you have time, wrap it in cling film and place it in the fridge for approx 30 minutes.

3. Roll out the dough onto a floured surface into a large square.

4. Place the butter square in the middle of the dough in a diamond shape, and wrap the dough around the butter, overlapping it to avoid the butter oozing out. You will see from my pictures that my edges are a bit rough – but don’t worry, it really doesn’t matter.

5. Roll the dough into a rectangle, if any pieces of butter poke through just sprinkle them with flour and continue.

6. Fold the rectangle into three as if you are folding a letter ready to be placed in an envelope.

7. Turn the dough and roll and fold again so that this time you are folding it in the other direction. Keep doing this until you have turned, rolled and folded at least 5 times. If at any time the butter gets really sticky, wrap the dough in cling film and put it in the fridge for a while.

8. When you have finished, wrap the dough in cling film and refrigerate. You can leave it for 5-6 days, the longer you leave it, the better it will be.

Creme Patissiere for filling (the filling is not compulsory but is very nice)

1 egg separated

1 tablespoon cornflour

1 tablespoon plain flour

15 – 25g sugar (depending on how sweet you want it to be)

150ml milk

1/2 tablespoon vanilla essence

1. Separate the egg into two bowls. Add the sugar to the yolk.

2. Using an electric whisk, whisk the egg white until it is stiff and fluffy. Set this aside for later.

3. Don’t wash the whisk, go straight on to whisking the yolk and sugar until it is pale yellow and creamy smooth. Add the cornflour and flour, and a splash of the milk and whisk again.

4. Heat the remaining milk gently in a non-stick small saucepan until almost boiling.

5. While stirring, pour the milk onto the egg yolk/sugar/flour mixture, then return the whole mixture to the saucepan and heat very gently, stirring all the time to avoid sticking. Scrape every morsel from the bowl.

6. It will thicken fairly quickly, keep stirring so that it doesn’t go omeletty, and add the vanilla essence.

7. Now add half the whisked egg white (this is all you need, but you can add more if you need the custard to be looser). Fold the egg white into the custard, return to the heat and gently cook for a further 2 minutes.

8. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.

To make the twists

1. Heat the oven to approx 200-220 deg C.

2. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment.

3. Roll out the pastry into a square approx 32cm square (the exact size does not matter).

4. Now cut it vertically into strips approx 5cm wide.

5. Spread the creme patissiere (if you are using it) along the middle of the strips and scatter dark chocolate chips along the bottom half of each strip. (You will need approx half a tablespoon of chips for each twist).

6. Fold each strip in half from top to bottom, and press around the edges. Now stretch and twist each strip and place them on the baking sheet side by side.

7. Brush with milk or egg and bake for approx 15 minutes until golden and puffed up.

8. Sprinkle with sieved icing sugar.

Chocolate Caramel Pie

I had my first chocolate caramel pie at Soda Cafe in North Beach – it was so perfect that I kept going back, just for coffee and a slice of that pie. The pastry was thin and crispy, the caramel was smooth and sweet, and the dark chocolate mousse had a lovely firm consistency so it stood up in the slice, but was soft and light when you bit into it. It also seemed to have a top layer which was maybe a very thin layer of ganache. Last year they stopped serving it, and my visits to Soda dwindled, so I have been desperately trying to recreate this treat, and I have come pretty close.

What follows is a recipe of my best effort so far. For the caramel, you can slave over a hot stove trying to make caramel the traditional way with sugar, butter and cream, or you can make dulce de leche, which is far easier. If doing this, I recommend making the dulce de leche a day or two beforehand – you can store it in the fridge all ready to go.

As for pastry – I have always had problems with pastry – I remember my Home Economics teacher, Miss Milner saying “Oh dear Susan, your pastry looks grey like clay”, but in recent years I have found a few combinations that work for me provided that I don’t handle the pastry too much with my warm pastry-unfriendly hands. I use the cup measures (Australian cups), but I have put the gram equivalents for anybody who does not have a set of Australian cup measures. To be honest you can use a teacup if you like so long as you are consistent with the proportions. If you make a lot of pastry it is worth buying a bag of ceramic baking beans or beads (also called pie weights) – they stop the pastry case from rising in the middle.

Pastry:

1 1/4 cups or 190g of plain flour

1/4 cup or 40g self raising flour

1/4 cup or 50g caster sugar (I use brown sugar and pass it through a sieve)

90g unsalted butter

1 egg

Pinch salt

1. Sieve the flours and sugar into a food mixer.

2. Cut the butter into small cubes and add it to the flour/sugar. Start the food mixer and mix until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs (you can rub the butter in using your fingers if you like, but I have warm hands, so I use a food mixer).

3. Pour the mixture into a bowl and add the egg and a pinch of salt. (My photo shows a double quantity which is why there are two eggs). Mix with a spatula or wooden spoon until it comes together, then using your hands, lightly knead and shape it into a round (keep handling to a minimum, and if you have warm hands like me, rinse them in cool water first so that you start off with cool hands).

4. Roll the pastry out into a round and use it to line a flan tin or dish. Put the pastry lined flan dish in the fridge for approx 30 mins if you have time – this will stop it from shrinking away from the edge in the oven.

5. Cut a circle of baking parchment slightly bigger than the middle of the flan dish, and put some ceramic baking beans in the middle. Bake for 10 minutes at 190 deg C, then remove the baking beans and bake for a further 10 minutes. (The baking beans just stop the middle of the tart case from rising too much, you can get away without using them, but you will need to prick the base with a fork, and you may find it will rise a little).

6. Remove the dish from the oven and leave the pastry to cool to room temperature.

The caramel (dulce de leche method):

1 tin of condensed milk (must be condensed – not evaporated) Check that the tin is in good condition, do not use if dented – the lid must be unopened and not damaged.

1. Using an old saucepan, place the unopened tin of condensed milk in the saucepan, cover with water.

2. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 3 hours. You can cover it with a lid to stop the water from evaporating too much. Check it every hour to make sure that the water is not boiling dry – top the water up as necessary.

3. Carefully remove the tin from the water and leave it to cool thoroughly – it can be stored in the fridge until needed. Do not attempt to open it while it is still warm – I have heard stories of some tins exploding when opened, but I have never had a problem – be sensible just in case – cover it with a cloth when opening.


Regular Caramel:

300g golden caster sugar

175g butter

200ml double cream

1. Place the sugar in a pan with2 tablespoons water. Heat until it dissolves but do not stir.

2. Boil until amber.

3. Stir in the cream – add a pinch of salt if you like salted caramel.

4. Stir in the butter and simmer for a further 3 minutes.

Chocolate Mousse:

200g good quality dark chocolate, coarsely chopped

1/4 cup (60ml) water

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 egg yolks (a handy hint for separating eggs is to break them on to a saucer, use an egg cup to cover the yolk, and tip the white into a separate container)

2 tablespoons sugar

1 cup (250ml) of whipping cream, whipped

1. Place the chocolate and butter in a bowl and melt by placing the bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water (the base of the bowl must not dip into the water) – or use a microwave if you are confident that you can melt it perfectly. Personally I use the saucepan double boiler method – I am not a fan of microwaves.

2. Cool the mixture for 10 minutes.

3. In a small saucepan whisk the egg yolks, sugar and 1/4 cup water. Cook and stir over a low heat for approximately 1-2 minutes (if you have a thermometer, it should reach 160 deg F/70 deg C).

4. Remove from the heat and whisk into the chocolate/butter mixture (get somebody to pour while you whisk). Cool down quickly by placing the bowl in  some cold water or ice and continue to stir for about 5 minutes.

5. Fold in the whipped cream. It will look quite a lot paler now, but it will go dark again as it sets.

To assemble:

When the pastry case is cooled, you can add the caramel to the base of the pastry case. If you like salted caramel you can add a few scant flakes of sea salt on top of the caramel (if you have not already salted it).

Put the caramel coated pastry case in the fridge so that it is completely cool before adding the mousse. This will help to keep the layers nice and separate.

Top the cool caramel with the mousse mixture and leave to set in the fridge. 3-4 hours should do it.

If you want to add a further ganache layer (I haven’t tried this yet), I would recommend a mixture of dark chocolate and cream in the ratio of 100g chocolate to 70mls cream – if it seems too stiff you can always add more cream. When I make chocolate and cream mixtures, I break the chocolate into really small pieces, then heat the cream to almost simmering, and quickly pour it over the chocolate, stirring all the time. The warm cream melts the chocolate and you get a lovely shiny mixture.

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