Friday, April 18, 2014

Chocolate Espresso Snaps


Seems like I've just been going from one double chocolate recipe to another, and it might have to do with the weather. Or, it might have to do with my obvious addiction. Same thing...

It's starting to get cool around here.

By cool I mean days of 21 degrees C. Please don't hate me for saying that...

Autumn is in the air in Sydney, Australia and I'm finding that my lounge-around-the-house elastic tube top will no longer suffice. I know North America has not had the most forgiving winter ever, so this might come off almost arrogant. I don't mean it that way. And, if you feel like rolling your eyes and moving onto the next webpage, just remember there's a delicious recipe at the end of this!


It's all good though, because as many of you tumble into Spring, Sydney-siders will be moving to Autumn and eventually Winter. Although 10 degree nights might not sound that chilly, consider a constant cold draft and the fact that indoor heating comes at a premium. Picture me in high socks, sweat pants, several T-shirt layers beneath an over-sized ROOTS hoodie and a hot water bottle in my lap. Suddenly it's not so glamorous.

I still need a hot tea before bed and when paired with an espresso-infused chocolate biscuit it's like a big fat hug from a polar bear. Warm and cozy, but not quite as furry. Chocolate puts me in a comfy place.


These snappy cookies are crisp with a satisfying chew. Depending on how long you bake them you can have crisp all the way through if that's how you dig it. Just make sure not to over bake (ie. burn) as it is difficult to judge "golden" in a chocolate cookie dough! Even though they may still feel soft from the oven, they will firm up as they cool. Trust that. Cocoa is sneaky that way.

They start the same way as most cookie doughs do: cream butter and sugar, beat in egg and vanilla, beat in dry ingredients of flour, cocoa, leavening and salt just until combined.


Extra bittersweet chocolate chopped to bits adds more depth and sophisticated bitterness to these already robust and addictive cookies.

Expect to warm your insides and excite the taste buds - something that we can all use more than just once in a while.


Chocolate Espresso Snaps
    Makes 30 cookies

1 ½ cups (215 g) all-purpose flour
½ cup (42 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp espresso powder (or finely ground instant coffee granules)
1 ½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
2/3 cup (150 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup (135 g) granulated sugar
½ cup (110 g) packed light brown sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
56 g/2 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
¼ cup granulated sugar for rolling

Sift flour, cocoa, espresso powder, baking soda and salt into a medium bowl. Whisk to blend and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and both sugars for 2 minutes, until somewhat light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla extract until combined. Add dry ingredients all at once and mix on the lowest speed until just combined. As the mixer is running, sprinkle in chopped chocolate. Turn dough out onto a piece of wax paper, wrap well and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line two large baking trays with parchment paper.

Roll tablespoons of dough into balls and then roll in sugar to coat evenly. Place dough balls on prepared baking trays, spacing them 2 inches apart and then flatten them slightly with the palm of your hand. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until flat and cracked at the surface. For crispy cookies, bake the full 12 minutes. Let cookies cool on pan for a few minutes before transferring individually to a wire rack to cool completely.


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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Double Chocolate Buttermilk Quakes


These are muffins.

But, really I have a hard time calling them muffins because they're so decadent.

Usually muffins are hearty, full of whole grains, fruit and maybe nuts.

These chocolate monsters don't have any of that. 

They are full of cocoa and huge dark chocolate chunks. They taste like dessert and I am OK with that. And if you choose to have this for breakfast, then we are probably meant to be friends.
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Monday, April 7, 2014

Date, Apricot & Pecan Seed Bread


Remember my Breakfast Cookies?

Well, this is my Breakfast Cake!

I can't get enough of this fruit-studded baby - for breakfast, morning tea, afternoon snack, dessert... it's a multi-purpose bake. You can rest assured that your time spent making this lovely loaf will certainly pay off.

The dried dates, apricots and mixed spice trigger thoughts of the Middle East and maybe even Morocco. If you swapped pecans for pistachios you'd be that much closer.

Bananas aren't the only fruit suited to a quick bread. Let's step out of that straight-edged box!
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Monday, March 31, 2014

Dark Chocolate Almond Cake


Chocolate must be one of the most versatile foods in the world.

Why else would having just one chocolate cake recipe never be enough?

I must know over 40 recipes for chocolate cake.

Some with cocoa, and some with chocolate - white chocolate, milk chocolate, dark chocolate, bitter chocolate...

Chocolate cakes with sour cream, yogurt, buttermilk, brown sugar, white sugar, butter, olive oil...

       ...the flourless kind, the molten ones, mint-infused, fruit-filled and full of nuts...

They can be dense, moist, gooey and oozing or light, soft and super fluffy. Anything goes.

Let's not forget muffins, brownies, cookiesloaves, hot fudge and truffles. Chocolate is the gift that keeps on giving.
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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Salted Brown Butter Pecan Cookies


When it comes to baking, there's one thing you absolutely need to appreciate:

Butter is Better.

Always.

Period.

Shortenings, especially highly emulsified ones, can create very uniform cake crumb structure. This is true.

Lard makes the flakiest pie crust.
I completely agree.

BUT, butter makes everything taste better.
Heck yes!

Although shortening and lard have great functional properties, when they are required (like for pie dough or fine textured cakes), I will always cut them with butter for that rich, full-bodied, rounded dairy flavour. Nothing compares.

Butter is a natural flavour enhancer. Thank you cow - you are udderly incredible (ha...).
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Monday, March 17, 2014

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookie Cheesecakes


Cheesecake sits right up there with ice cream when it comes to foods you eat...

a) following a festive/celebratory meal
b) any time you even think of moving (house hunting sucks!)
c) because you can and you will
d) after realizing you didn't click SAVE and now it's gone forever...
e) in desperate moments with a spoon off the floor not to waste a pinch (like a certain Rachel & Chandler)

If anything can make cheese more delicious and irresistible than it already is, it's sugar. And if there's anything that can make cheesecake more delicious it would be eating it with a Chocolate Chip Cookie, because chocolate chip cookies also suffice in any instance a) through e).

We welcome chocolate ganache 365 days a year. Today is no exception.

To summarize: Chocolate Chip Cookie, Vanilla Cheesecake, Dark Chocolate Ganache.

Can we just call this "the cure"?
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Sunday, March 9, 2014

Peanut Butter Ganache Cookie Bars


It's been 7 posts since I last gave you a peanut butter and chocolate recipe.

I reckon that's 7 posts too many.

Let's put life back in balance with these Peanut Butter Ganache Cookie Bars

They have two layers and two types of chocolate. The base is where we get the crunch - a buttery crunchy play on shortbread. On top of that sits a silky smooth peanut butter-white chocolate ganache. I mean it - you'll never experience something as satin and silky as this stuff. It's about as smooth as buttah! Then a drizzle of bitter dark chocolate to make everything OK.

You know... I never used to be a huge fan of squares or bars, or "slices" as they're known here in Oz. And now that I think about it... I'm not quite sure why.
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Sunday, March 2, 2014

Strawberry Turnover Cookies


Remember these?

They came in a packet. They were soft and sweet and pretty damn good.

Do they still exist?

I don't really know because I always have way too many cookies around the house to ever need or want to buy them at the shop. I don't think I ever even pass the cookie aisle of the grocery store...

Instead I recreated them at home.

It's amazing how our senses can be so nostalgic. The sound of a hockey game on TV puts me right back on the couch of my living room in the house I grew up in with a big bowl of ice cream and my dad falling asleep on the rocking chair. The smell of a freshly sliced cucumber brings images of Nonno calmly preparing salad for dinner at the kitchen counter. The taste of orange and almond reminds me of mom's famous Christmas biscotti.
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Sunday, February 23, 2014

Deep Dark Chocolate Soufflé Cake


You know those kind of people who seem so intense and mildly intimidating on the outside but once you get to know them you realize it's just on the surface?

Inside, that person is soft and gentle. Conversation is actually quite light and goes down quite easy.

If this cake were a person, this is the personality it would have.

At first glance you think you're in for something heavy. It looks rich. It looks decadent.


But then once you have a bite, you're shocked! It's light on the palate. It is still rich in flavour - very chocolatey. But it doesn't weigh you down. In fact, it actually screams for a bit of thick cream! Not what you'd expect, but totally welcome.
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Sunday, February 16, 2014

Big Fat Trail Mix Cookies!


Cookies for breakfast is perfectly acceptable around here.

You can do a lot of things that I might not approve of. Like, put black beans in your brownies, wear one of those thick high-waist belts more suited to a wrestling champ than a dress, or add sugar to a tomato sauce - WRONG!

But eating cookies before noon is not one of them. Grab a glass of milk and go nuts.

Though I've been known to eat every kind of cookie before lunch hour, these Trail Mix Cookies with their whole grains, nuts, seeds and dried fruit might help to give you a case if you need one.
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Sunday, February 9, 2014

Ultimate Chocolate Lover's Cupcakes


It's a coincidence that these chocolate-packed cupcakes creeped into my kitchen during the love month.

This recipe is for lovers of all kinds - those who love chocolate and those who just love to love.

I think anyone who has an addiction to chocolate must hold onto a lot of passion. It is the "food of the gods" after all...

These cupcakes are almost not not even cake. They're so fudgy and rich that they probably make all of the other chocolate cakes jealous. Like misfits in the "light & fluffy" cake world, they get by on their outside appearance, but they know they'd probably get along better with brownies.

There are two sources of cocoa in the cake: pure dark chocolate and heaps of unsweetened cocoa powder. Natural or Dutch-processed work fine here.

There is lush whipped white chocolate ganache atop.

It's a perfect complement as the cake is uber rich, dark, bitter and not-too-sweet. While the frosting is light, creamy and perfectly sweet. They need each other.
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Sunday, February 2, 2014

Gooey Little Pecan Tarts


Last week something came over me and I decided to put the butter and flour aside.

With a sprinkle of science, I created the most angelic brownie recipe possible… these Gluten-free, Dairy-free Fudgy No-ButterBrownies. Despite their lack of flour and butter, they are still moist and fudgy – so, a proper brownie in every sense.

This week I'm back to my usual antics and I've got butter on full board.

We knew it couldn't last long. We’re a butter-loving bunch, aren't we?

Nothing praises the creamy, rich, seductive flavour of butter better than golden, tender and flaky pastry.

Pecan Tarts are on the menu today!

My favourite way to eat pecan pie is in miniature form, like these 4-inch tarts.

Why? Because that is when the pastry/pecan/gooey-filling ratio is just right. With a classic pecan pie, there’s always too much filling for my liking. It’s such a thick layer that the sweetness never feels balanced by the buttery pastry.
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Sunday, January 26, 2014

Fudgy No-Butter Brownies (gluten-free, dairy-free)


There are two things in life that scare me the most:

1. Sharks.

2. Baking without butter.

The name of this post makes me very uncomfortable. It's bold. It rattles every bone in my body. It goes against my senses and disturbs my taste buds. 

But it works.

This time, it actually works.
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Saturday, January 11, 2014

How to make a perfect Roast Chicken


I know it’s not a sweet recipe, but it is an essential one, so today we will be “Scientifically Savoury”!

Next to how to stitch a simple hem and memorizing the lyrics to Bon Jovi’s “It’s My Life”, everyone should know how to roast a bird. It’s daunting to many, probably because it involves a giant piece of meat, the assumption of constant peeping and basting and a lingering fear of undercooking or recreating that bone-dry turkey scene from Christmas Vacation.

I’m about to tell you that it’s not that hard! Plus, it's cheaper and tastier to cook a whole chicken so why wouldn't you? Let's learn!
  
Roasting a whole chicken doesn’t require any more skill than roasting quarters, thighs or drumsticks. It doesn’t even require a special roasting pan. It just needs time, space and an oven thermometer.  

My favourite pairings with chicken are lemon, rosemary and garlic, so let me show you how I do it.
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