I'm sorry. It's been a while. Let me make it up to you with pie.
Banana Cream Pie is such an American dessert, and frankly, not one I thought I'd make. I'm just not a huge banana fan, unless it comes in a muffin or loaf. That way the texture is completely erradicated and I only have to deal with the flavour. That's the one reason I don't eat Banoffe Pie more often - I don't like the slimey texture bananas inevitably take on. But this recipe, this one is delicious, and gave me great ideas for repurposing the Banoffe Pie.
I was a little bit scared of this pie to start with - it involves fast work on the element, as well as cornflour. Back in my early days of baking (read: eleven/twelve years old), I had some... not so pleasant experiences with cornflour, and have since harboured an irrational fear of what it might do to my hard work. But thanks to this pie, I have since gotten over my dramatics and used the technique elsewhere, too. Thank you, Banana Cream Pie. Other than the element/cornflour factor, this pie includes nothing else remotely challenging in the cooking process and thought a little time consuming, is very easy to make. It's also wonderful for making in advance, and leaving in the fridge for the day.
Banana Cream Pie
Pie Shell 1 1/2 cup flour 120g butter, melted 1/4 cup caster sugar 1 egg yolk
1. As with all my pie shells, this is a throw-everything-in-the-bowl-at-once job. So do that, and mix. You should end up with a crumbly textured dough. If you want, you can knead it together and roll it out. But I never bother.
2. Roll or press it into a pie tin - I prefer the ones with the loose bottoms. It makes removal easier.
3. Bake blind for around fifteen minutes in an oven heated to 180 degrees celcius, until it is golden at the edges and cooked, and then remove from the oven and let cool completely.
*The original recipe calls for one, and then layers pieces of banana under the pastry cream layer. I wasn't into that idea, so I added more banana to the pastry cream.
1. Place 3/4 of the cup of milk, and three tablespoons of the sugar, into a saucepan and heat until it just begins to bubble.
2. In a second bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and remaining sugar. Then in a second, smaller bowl, mix together the remaining milk and cornstarch. Then pour the milk mixture into the eggs.
3. Once the milk has begun to bubble, slowly pour it into the egg mix, making sure you don't scramble the eggs.
4. Pour it back into the saucepan and cook over a medium heat until it thickens and comes to a boil. Once it has reached a boil, remove it from the heat and mix in your vanilla. Then set it aside and let it cool.
5. Add your chopped banana and lemon juice to a blender, and puree. I also found that sieving the mixture after gave you an even silkier texture. Then mix the banana and lemon puree into the pastry cream.
6. Place a piece of cling film over the pastry cream - right down into the bowl, so that it touches the cream, which discourages a skin growning over the top of the pastry cream.
You're now finished with it until it comes time to assemble the pie!
Chocolate Ganache 4 ounces of chocolate* 1/2 cup cream. 1/2 cup chopped pecans * I prefer to use milk chocolate for a milder taste, but dark chocolate also works wonderfully.
1. Heat your chocolate and cream over a low to medium heat until smooth. Set aside for a moment.
1. Sprinkle the chopped pecans over the cooked pie base, and then slowly pour over the ganache, so as not to disrupt the pecans. Set it aside to cool for ten minutes.
2. Once the ganache has set smooth over the pastry cream, and pop back in the fridge while you whip some more cream.
3. Once the cream is whipped, spread it over the rest of the pie filling, and then sprinkle with chocolate. Tada!
In case you haven't figured it out yet, I love chocolate. But I also love cheese - the stronger and smellier the better. I could quite happily subsist on a diet of chocolate and cheese in their many forms. It would be wonderful. Anyway, what I'm trying to say, is that this next recipe showcases delicious, delicious cheese. And cheese in a form that everybody will love; it's simple, satisfying, and really easy to make. And the dough keeps quite well in the fridge for several days - what could be better?
My inspiration came from here, though I have changed things a little, including the name. I refuse to name anything I bake 'Cheese Busters', although the mythology behind that name is certainly true - you will eat enough of these to 'bust your belt'. Regardless of it's accuracy, I will not use the name. So cheese biscuits it is! These are great for hitting that midnight craving square on (which is when I made them the first time) and the beauty is that you can size them to whatever suits you - I prefer them small, but you might like them bigger. I also don't go in for any unnecessary rolling out or cutting, like the original recipe calls for - so I just roll them into balls and squish them down with a fork. Ta da! Perfect round biscuits with minimum effort. Just a note though, they do go stale pretty quickly, so that is why I prefer to only cook up as many as I want at a time, and leave the dough in the fridge for the next craving. That way they're always perfect.
On with the show.
8 tbsp soft butter
2 cups flour
2 1/2 cups grated cheese
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup diced up ham (optional)
1. In a bowl, rub the soft butter into the flour. Or, if you're like me and completely forgot to do that and just dumped the flour and cheese into the bowl, you can just rub it into that mixture too, and it will work out the same. Did I mention this recipe was easy? Well, it's pretty fool proof, too.
2. Mix in your salt and pepper so that everything is nice and evenly mixed. This is where you can add in the ham, or any other additives that you've chosen. I think some fresh basil would be great in these, too.
3. In with the milk! Now, I haven't given a measurement for this, because I find that it varies. Start off with splashing about three tablespoons in and mixing - you'll find that the dough comes together very quickly. If you don't find that the dough is combining well enough, add a bit more milk in - but be careful. The dough should be pretty firm to the touch, and slightly sticky from the flour.
4. You can roll it straight into balls and cook it from there, or you can wrap it in some gladwrap and refridgerate it until you're ready to cook it. I took the second option, because I was cooking dinner at the same stage, and then whipped them out a little while later and cooked them, so that we had something light to nibble on when the full dinner bellies had worn off. I also only used about half of the dough; the other half is still sitting wrapped up in my fridge.
5. Place them in a preheated oven (fan bake, 180 degrees celcius) and cook until light golden brown. Remove from the oven, and let cool for a couple of minutes. These are so delicious while they're still warm. Although they're pretty awesome when they're cold too.
Yesterday was a public holiday in my region of the country, and one of the two aunts who lives elsewhere than our town, is down with her little babies. So my mother decided that she would have the family to brunch. By the family I do mean The Family ... children, aunts, uncles, grandparents. Though not even half were able to make it, there were still eleven adults and four children. You know, average breakfast for fifteen. Anyway, we did brunch (rather uneventful, and came together easily!), and then I decided we needed something sweet to eat later with a cup of tea, or coffee. I had some cookie dough in the fridge, so Harriet and George (six and two, cousins) helped me roll them out and put them in the oven. But I also had some bananas left over from my baking efforts on Saturday (to come), so I decided to whip up some muffins.
Usually these muffins are simply banana and chocolate chip, and they're good like that. But Nicola (one of the many aunt's) shared a trick she uses when baking for the shearers on her farm... put a piece of caramello chocolate in the middle. Genius! Who doesn't love caramel? And this method is so simple! So I sent my father out to buy eggs and chocolate, and while he was away, set the 'helpers' to mashing banana.
I did most of the banana mashing.
Banana, Chocolate Chip and Caramel Muffins
4tbsp butter, melted 1 1/2 c milk 1 c semi packed brown sugar 4 c flour 4 small - medium bananas, mashed 2 eggs 6 tsp baking powder 1 c chocolate pieces 24 pieces of caramello chocolate
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon 5 tsp sugar
1. Put everything in a bowl, and mix. Just a tip though, add the melted butter last so it doesn't have time to set. Just make sure you don't pour it on the chocolate.
2. Get two small muffin trays, and fill each cup half way. Once that is done, place a piece of the caramello chocolate in the middle of each spoonful of mixture. Top with another spoonful, so that the mixture is even with the top of the cup.
3. In a small bowl, mix together the ingredients for the topping, and then sprinkle a little on top of each muffin.
4. Place them in an oven preheated at 180 degrees celcius, and bake for around 10 minutes, or until the muffins are firm-ish to the touch, and will bounce back quickly when you poke them gently.
5. Eat them while the're still warm. You can put butter on them, but you won't really need to. They're quite a moist muffin, with all that banana and chocolate in there.
This is something I sort of grew up with, once again. It's a recipe from my Godmother, who (along with her family) is a very close family friend. She's a great cook - though I never appreciated the yumminess she used to make as a child as much as I do now. However, I always loved this slice, even though it's full of coconut. I'm not a coconut fan, but... this. This is delicious, even with all that coconutty-stuck-in-your-teeth-ness.
And what is even better? It literally takes two minutes to whip up. There is no creaming of this or that, and you don't even have to be overly accurate with the measurements (though of course it helps). I don't have much to say about this, except that it's quite delicious, waaaay too easy to make, and perfect if you have unexpected people drop by. That's why mum asked me to make some on thursday... and now (now being Saturday), it's all gone. So I'll have to make some more! I'll admit that I did sort of break my non-chocolate diet more than a time or two for this. But who could blame me?
Jill's Sydney Square 125 g butter 2tbsp cocoa 1/2 c sugar 1 tsp baking powder 1 c desicated coconut 1 c cornflakes 1 c flour
1. Melt your butter, then mix in the sugar. Step one is complete.
2. Add in everything else and give it a stir until everything is nicely combined and the mixture forms damp clumps... like the picture below will show you.
3. Pour it into a 20cm square baking tin and press down hard. You don't want any loose bits, otherwise it will be crumbly when baked up, and difficult to eat.
4. Bake for eighteen minutes in a 180 degree celcius oven. Remove from oven and let cool for ten minutes. While it is cooling, make your icing!
Basic Chocolate Icing
2 c icing sugar 1/4 c cocoa powder 1 tsp butter 1/8 c hot water
1. In a bowl, melt the butter in the water.
2. Add the icing sugar and cocoa in and mix until smooth and well combined. You may need to add more icing sugar or water in, depending on the texture. You want it to be thick and slightly runny.
3. Pour over the still warm slice and let sit for twenty minutes before attempting to cut. Or, you could be my family and just hack away at it.
Okay, store-bought mint thins are pretty awesome themselves. But I always like to try a homemade version of something before I make my mind up completely, and while I was fishing around on my favourite food blog (smittenkitchen - who has just introduced the most beautiful little boy into the world), I found a sweet little recipe for chocolate wafers. She made a suggestion of adding mint essence to them and covering in chocolate, and the idea intrigued me, so naturally I took it and ran with it... adding my own improvsations in as I went.
The wafers are so very easy, and mintifying them even more so. Seriously, there is absolutely nothing to this, and even hardly any fiddling around. I love it, and am already planning a second batch to deliver to my grandmother who is completely obsessed with anything chocolately and minty. The great thing about this recipe, too, is that you can adjust the level of mintyness; whether you want it that firey hot peppermint, or just mild, with a hint. A warning though, cos there is a lot of strong chocolate flavour in this recipe, I would suggest adding a little more than you think, if you only want a mellow mint taste, otherwise the chocolate might overwhelm it.
Chocolate Wafer Recipe:
1 1/2 c flour 3/4 c cocoa powder 1 c plus 2 tbsp sugar 1/4 tsp salt 1/4 tsp baking soda 180 grams butter, softened 3 - 5 tbsp milk 1 tsp vanilla essence
1. In a bowl, cream your butter and sugar.
2. Add everything else! With the milk though, only add a few tablespoons of the milk to start with, and if everything doesn't start to form into damp clumps, keep adding the milk until it does. Just go slowly so you don't make it too soft.
3. Form it into a log - make sure the log is about as big as you want your wafer to be, cos you're just going to slice off pieces from this log, and pop them on the tray. After you wrap it all up, let the log sit in the fridge for about an hour.
4. After an hour, remove them from the fridge and start slicing - make them about a cm thick, and then gently set them on your baking tray. They will not spread all that much, so you don't need to be too careful with spacing
5. They will need to cook for about 10 - 15 minutes in a low heat of about 150 degrees celcius. When you bring them out of the oven, you'll also need to let them sit on the tray for another five minutes before you attempt to move them, as they will still be very soft.
2 c icing sugar 1/8 c hot water 1 tsp butter 2 tsp peppermint extract (for firey mint)
1. Once all your wafers are cooled, line them up on the bench in two rows - one for spreading with the mint filling, and one to top with.
2. In a bowl, melt your butter in the water, and then add your mint and icing sugar. You may need to add more icing sugar, but what you want is a reasonably thick icing. You don't want it to ooze all over the place, as that'll cause problems when you're eating it.
3. Go ahead and spread that icing all over one row of the cookies, and then top with the second. Let them sit for five minutes so that the icing can firm up.
Chocolate for dipping
1. In another bowl, melt approximately 300 grams of milk chocolate and stir until smooth.
2. Then dip one side of the sandwiched cookie in the chocolate, so that it covers the edges and seals in all the mintyness.
3. Let sit until the chocolate has hardened, then nom!
Everybody craves chocolate cake once in a while, right? I know I do. But then I go and buy some, and it's always dry in texture and really crumbly. It's not worth the effort used to eat it, in my opinion. Plus, when my craving hit this time, it was some time after 11 pm, so I had no choice but to make something. Except it was sunday evening, which is universal empty-cupboards time, I'm sure of it. I knew I didn't have the required amount of butter for anything resembling a cake - I had eggs, but not much milk. Pretty useless, right? Then I remembered, Mean's mayo cake!
Mean was kind enough to give me this recipe when I was trying to find something to make for my grandfather's 75th birthday. Unfortunately I did not end up using it at the time (and found something equally as yummy - and have since lost the recipe for), but I kept it in my inbox, and after some searching it resurfaced. I'm glad I found it again! No need for butter, eggs or milk - just lots of sugar and mayonnaise. I could work with that.
However, I did change things around a little bit; like included a half cup of sour cream because I didn't quite have enough mayo, switched out some of the flour for some extra cocoa and completely forgot about the baking soda. Oops, thankfully I always over compensate with baking powder. I also think it would cope well with some chopped nuts - like walnuts or pecans. It worked out really well with those changes, so I officially like this cake. I think I would even like it a lot without the fact that it lend's itself to experimentation well, because it cooked up beautifully and tasted just as awesome.
Mayo Cake, ala Mean, with a little bit of tinkering.
2 3/4 cup flour 1 1/2 c sugar (thanks sara! forgot that one) 3/4 cup cocoa 3 heaped tsp baking powder 1tsp vanilla extract 1 cup mayonnaise 1/2 cup sour cream 1 1/2 cup water
1. In a bowl, whisk together the mayo, vanilla and water.
2. Add in everything else! Mix that all together and you're done. Pretty damn quick, hey?
3. Pour it into your pan. I used a 30 cm sprung pan, though next time I would probably use a 20 cm so that I get a taller cake. Or possibly split it in half and cook it in two pans and sandwich it together with some icing when it's cooled.
4. Pop it into your oven, which should already be preheated to 180 degrees celcius, fan bake (if you have it). Mean's recipe says let cook for 30 - 40 minutes, but I found that my cake was done within 25. That was probably due to the fact that I cooked it using the fan bake setting though, so the cooking time is always faster. You can always tell by touching it gently, and seeing if the cake bounces back. Or stick a skewer or a knife in it and see if it comes out clean.
5. Once you have determined that your cake is cooked, take it out and release it from the tin. If you haven't used a sprung tin, I'd suggest waiting until it's cooled quite a bit. But this cake is really dense, so it's not likely to break apart on you easily.
6. I like to ice my cake while it's still warm, so that way the icing sort of melts into the cake and makes it all the more dense and yummy. This time I chose ganache, but next time I think I'll go with a basic icing sugar and cocoa icing. If you are going to ice the cake while it's still warm and on the cooling rack, I'd suggest laying down some cling wrap or baking paper, and popping the tray on that, because the icing will just slide off the sides while it's melting in, because the cake is still warm. And then you can just fold up the cling wrap, and throw it away, without any extra clean up!
7. Cut it up, serve with ice cream and consume with great gusto.