Thursday, May 28, 2009
I am obsessed with Tastespotting, but unfortunately it is filled with lots of yummy, sweet summer produce, as lots of American's post recipes (and it's summer there - who'd've thought it, huh?). But here it is winter, so many of the delicious ingredients - ramps, strawberries - are not availiable, and thus, my recipes have to be shaken up and changed around. But strawberry. I am not a fan of the fruit as a whole (I know - how weird am I?), but I adore the flavour, and ridiculously fresh strawberries make the best flavour for cakes and the like. And I wanted strawberry cupcakes, damnit. Now! So once again, I compromised and sourced myself a good quality strawberry jam.
The cupcakes turned out this awesome cinnamony colour with a faint hint of sweet strawberry, and are so delicately soft. I can't say they are my favourite cupcakes ever (can we say chai cupcakes? Yum), but they are more than appealing and it's easy to eat two before even realising it. I topped them with a candy pink icing that I spiked with strawberry essence, and then got a bit sprinkle happy. So cute!
Without further ado!
125g butter, room temperature
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup strawberry jam, seedless (or just strained)
1tsp strawberry essence
1 cup flour
3tsp baking powder
1. Strain your jam. I find heating the jam up for a minute before hand to melt the sugar helps to make this easier.
2. Add the butter, sugar, essence and eggs and cream together.
3. Toss in your dry ingredients and combine. And then hey presto! You have a cupcake batter.
4. Spoon into your cases, and pop into an oven (which should be preheated to 180 degrees celcius) and let cook until they bounce back from the touch.
5. Once they are cool, ice them.
Basic Butter Cream
100g butter, room temperature
1tsp strawberry essence
1 - 3 tbsp milk
1. In a bowl, combine your milk, essence (start low) and butter until they are light and fluffy.
2. Toss in your icing sugar - this always varies, so I haven't given a measurement. Just keep adding in icing sugar until you get the desired consistency. If you make it too dry, add a tablespoon of milk.
3. Put it in a piping bag and decorate!
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Carrying on the chocolate chip cookie theme of my last post, I thought I would share with you my chocolate chip cookie recipe. It is basic, reasonably quick, very classic and apparently impossible to resist. If you go by my father's ability to eat two dozen in a day - and my grandfather loves them, which is saying a lot. That man lives with my grandmother, and man, can she bake. In fact, it seems everybody in my family loves these cookies, and I'm forced to take them with me many places. While they can be a bit tedious to make for the one millionth time, it's always worth it because of the inevitable appreciation, so here we go. You too can experience the pleasure that is baking praise!
Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies.
250g soft butter
1/2 cup sugar
6 tbsp condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla esscence
3 cups flour
3 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup milk chocolate buttons
1. In a bowl, cream your butter,sugar, condensed milk and vanilla until they are lovely and light and fluffy.
2. Add the flour, baking powder and chocolate buttons into the mixture and combine until everything is evenly mixed. The mixture will be soft, but you should be able to form it easily into balls.
3. Take a large teaspoon worth of the mix, and roll it into a ball.
Go ahead, eat one. You know you want to.
4. Place on a tray, allowing for a little bit of spread (though not a huge amount), press down gently with a fork and bake in an oven preheated to 180 degrees celcius for 5 - 10 minutes. I remove these cookies from the oven when they have developed only a little bit of colour, because I love that moist, slightly cookie dough-ish inside - so that they are soft to eat, not crunchy.
How cute is this?
5. Eat and enjoy. Or you could wrap a few up with a ribbon, and give them away.
Monday, May 18, 2009
Oh my. Oh my god. Where has this pie been all my life? It sounds like such an unlikely combination; cookie and pie, but it works. It works really, really well. This pie is just the perfect combination of structure and dense, chewy goodness and I have no doubt anybody it is served to will love it. Because who doesn't love cookie or pie? It can only get better when you combine the two.
When I first came across the inspiration for this recipe (here and here), I was a little baffled. How exactly did it work? Was it just a giant cookie? What on earth? You see, I'd never heard of a chocolate chip cookie pie - we're rather deprived when it comes to sweet pies out here in New Zealand. I've already explained that here, pie means meat and pastry. So finding new sweet pie recipes is always a revelation and exceedingly exciting. Anyway, despite my misgivings, I plowed on. And it was kind of a little scary, but once I figured out just what was happening, and let the oven do it's thing, everything went very smoothly. When I first put this pie into the oven, the filling promptly dissolved, because it has a lot of sugar in it. I freaked out and wondered what on earth I'd done wrong, before I remembered sugar + heat = duh! So I let it cook further, and lo and behold; the flour and eggs did their job. This pie, it appears, is supposed to be very moist and dense - which makes sense, given the amount of heavy ingredients (pecans and chocolate) and butter in the recipe. So maybe this is a recipe you don't want to make if you're convinced every baking endeavour you under take will flop. In saying that, this pie actually isn't complicated. It just requires a little leap of faith at certain points. I am convinced that any baked good I make succeeds because I refuse to think that it won't work, somehow. It can always be salvaged, right? Lets just cut off the burnt bits! (Kidding! I don't really burn things now days). Nobody has any idea how often things I make don't turn out how I intended, but they work well just the same.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie
1 1/2 cup flour
120 g butter, melted
1/4 c caster sugar
1 egg yolk
1. In a bowl, chuck all your ingredients and blend. What you should come out with is a loose dough that has formed into lots of little balls.
See what I mean?
2. Press it into a tin. Make sure it is very well greased. For this pie, you want it to be relatively deep, so a nine inch pan with high sides is best. I only had a spring-loaded cake pan, so I used that, and just stopped the crust about an inch from the top.
3. Cover with baking paper and weight down with baking beans (I use haricott, you can use other dried beans, or rice. Just anything that won't burn when you put it in the oven). Let cook for five minutes in an oven preheated to 180 degrees celcius, then remove from the oven and let cool. While cooling, make up your filling.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Filling
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
150g butter, softened but not melted
1 cup chocolate buttons (I pefer milk)
1 cup roughly chopped pecans
1. Beat your eggs well, until they are frothy, at least a minute, preferably two.
2. Combine the flour and sugars with the egg.
3. Slowly add in your butter, chocolate and pecans, making sure that everything is well combined (no butter pools/slicks).
4. Fill your semi-cooked pie crust, and then put into the oven (which should already be heated to 180 degrees celcius from cooking the pie) to cook for roughly 35 - 45 minutes.
5. Remove from oven and let sit for five minutes. If you used a spring loaded pan, go ahead and release the catch now and ease the sides away.
Looks like a giant cookie, doesn't it?
6. Dust with icing sugar, cut the pie and serve warm with ice cream.
7. Eat it. Immediately.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Once again, I have fallen prey to the Great American Ingredient, peanut butter. The peanut butter cups were so delicious - and eaten way too fast - that I had to whip something else up with these delicious flavours. But I felt like changing it up a little bit this time, and came up with my own version of smores. I am certain that I had a craving for marshmallow, chocolate and crunchy biscuit because it reminds me of summer-time camping. It's bitterly cold here at the moment, and the reminder is well timed.
This recipe is very easy and only has a handful of steps; the longest period of time is spent chilling the layers. Warning though, it is very sweet, and were I to make this again, there are a few changes that I would make. First up, I would double the amount of marshmallow, because it provides a great texture and subtle flavour to the bar, and secondly, I would halve the chocolate. I added way too much, and it is just a little bit over bearing. But I love chocolate, so it doesn't bother me a whole heap.
Peanut Butter Smore Bars
1pkt malt biscuits, crushed
1 1/2 cup icing sugar
1 cup smooth peanut butter
375 grams chocolate melts*
1 cup smooth peanut butter
* Seriously consider halving this, so you're only using around 190 grams.
Peanut Butter Biscuit Base
1. In a bowl, combine your crushed malt biscuits and icing sugar.
2. Melt your butter and heat the peanut butter through, so it is easy to spoon. Add these two ingredients to your biscuit mix, and combine well.
3. Press into a pan (any size you want, but keep in mind that you don't want the biscuit base too thick) and chill for ten minutes in the fridge.
1. Put your marshmallows into a microwave safe bowl, and zap for thirty five seconds. Remove from the microwave, and mix together so that everything is smooth. If you still have lumps left, return to the microwave for ten seconds. Repeat until you get the desired consisitency. Be careful though, because it can burn easily.
2. Spread over your chilled biscuit base, and return to the fridge.
1. In a double boiler, melt your chocolate and second cup of peanut butter until they are nice and smooth.
2. Spread over your marshmallow layer and return to the fridge for ten minutes.
3. After ten minutes, remove the smore from the fridge and score cutting marks through the chocolate. This will mean that it is much easier to cut when the bars are fully chilled.
4. Return to the fridge for an hour, and cut properly. Eat and enjoy!
Monday, May 11, 2009
Remember the chai cake that I served as desert earlier this week? Well, this is what came before it. Though they are calling 'wellingtons', the term can really only be applied very loosely. They have a crunchy coating, but it's not a pastry. There is a stuffing, but it's not around the meat. So, just be prepared, they're probably not what you would serve to a hard and fast wellington connossieur. However, as those I feed are not at all such, I quite happily plied my victims with them, and was instructed to inform you all that they were very happily received and more than tasty enough. I had to agree – though I’m never sure if that is because I made them, and am naturally inclined to like them. In saying that, though, I always find that I am more critical of what I make than other people. So it’s always very confusing. Either way, I found them delicious; they were just the right mix of crunchy and crispy, with soft, cream cheese moist pork on the inside. Yum.
Panko Crusted Stuffed Pork Wellingtons
Serves five adults
100g cream cheese
12 medium button mushrooms, sliced
3 rashers of bacon, diced
1 glove of garlic, crushed
1 bunch of spring onions, diced
Salt and pepper to taste
16 pieces of pork schnitzel
1/2 cup of plain flour
1-2 cups of panko crumbs*
*Panko are a course, japanese bread crumb. They give a much crunchier bite to crumbed dishes, and are awesome.
1. In a pan, place your garlic, buttons and bacon and cook with a big dollop of butter. You need the butter, trust me. What is better than browned butter in cooking? Nothing. Nothing at all. So do as I say.
2. When cooked, remove the pan from the heat and let the mushroom mix cool, before putting into a bowl and mixing with the cream cheese and spring onions to form the yummiest stuffing ever. Chuck in your salt and pepper here too.
3. Lay out a piece of schnitzel and place a generous teaspoon of the stuffing about 2 cm down from the top of the meat, and in the centre. Then roll the top over the mixture, and fold in the sides, then roll the rest of it up. Repeat until you have no schnitzel left.
4. Now comes the messy part. You have to dredge every wellington in flour, then dip it in the egg, and then finally in the panko. The panko is really lite weight, so it will stick to the egg wonderfully.
5. In a pan, heat about enough oil so that it is about half an inch deep. You can add butter in here, too, so that you get that buttery taste, but the oil will stop it from burning, so you won't get that bitter, gross taste. While you're at it, turn your oven to 180 degrees celcius, so that it can heat up.
6. Shallow fry each wellington until all sides are a nice golden brown, then pop on another tray and put into the oven to bake for fifteen to twenty minutes. Then pile them onto a plate and serve them to whatever hungry hoard is waiting at your table. I served these with baby beans and feta mashed potato. When you cut into these, you will find that the cream cheese has melted away, but as it had nowhere else to go, it's flavoured the meat beautifully.
Friday, May 8, 2009
Living in New Zealand, it is difficult to get hold of some of the more Americanised treats, such as Reeces's Peanut Butter Cups, and when one has a craving for exactly that, it becomes problematic. So what do you do? Make your own, of course! Until I saw a few recipes online, such a thought had not even entered my head, but they seemed so easy. And they were. Granted, they did take a bit of time to put together and chill, but they were well worth it, and I now have 30 cups sitting in my fridge, just waiting for me to indulge any more cravings I have
Peanut Butter Cups
Candy cup papers
300g milk chocolate melts
3 tbsp smooth peanut butter
1. In a double boiler, melt your chocolate and peanut butter until smooth.
2. Now you need to line the inside of your candy cups with the chocolate mix. If you liked, you could use normal cupcake papers, but I decided to use candy cups because the paper is waxed (thus easier to remove from the cup). My tip for coating the cups is to put half a teaspoon of the chocolate in the cup, then drag it up the sides with the teaspoon until everything is nicely covered (you might need to add some more chocolate, etc).
Making my own cups! (This was irrationally exciting - maybe I was just really looking forward to the peanut butter cups)
All in a row. Sort of.
3. Put the cups in the fridge for ten minutes so that they can set.
Peanut Butter Filling.
3/4 cup smooth peanut butter (although you could use crunchy - that would be yummy)
1/3 cup icing sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1. In a bowl, add all your ingredients, and mix.
Before. I love the contrasts of this picture - fluffy icing sugar, creamy peanut butter.
After. The icing sugar helps to stablise the peanut butter a little bit, so thats why it's in there.
2. Remove your cups from the fridge, and fill them with approximately half a teaspoon of the peanut butter. Once you have all the cups filled, press the mixture down with a damp finger, just so the top is even.
3. Finally, cover the top with the rest of your chocolate mixture, making sure to cover all the peanut butter (so that you reinforce the sides of the cups, and make them stronger).
4. Pop in the fridge for at least an hour. You can then remove all the papers, or just leave them on. Whichever you prefer.
Look at all that deliciousness!
Perfect. Utterly perfect.