Sunday, 29 November 2009

Snow-Flecked Macadamia Brownies: Sweet & Simple Bakes


Fortune shines! My second Sweet & Simple bake and it's another chocolate one, so no having to think twice. Not that there was much thinking to be done - I really enjoyed doing the last one as it's fun to see the same thing baked by many and to discover how varied the results are. I've been wanting to make brownies with macadamias for some time now and as I prefer not to have my cakes too sweet, this presented an ideal opportunity to swap the white chocolate in the original recipe for macadamias. I cut the quantity by a third from the original as even for me this was rather a lot of brownies to munch my way though (or so I thought). See Sweet & Simple Bakes for the real thing.

This is what I did:
  • Melted 200g 70% dark chocolate with 200g unsalted butter and left to cool slightly.
  • Beat 4 duck eggs, 180g soft brown sugar and 2 tsp vanilla extract.
  • Stirred in chocolate mixture.
  • Sieved in 125g spelt flour (100g wholemeal & 25g white) with a pinch of salt and mix until combined.
  • Stirred in 100g macadamia pieces.
  • Poured mixture into a 9" sq cake thingie and baked at 180C for 20 mins.
  • Allowed to cool a little then sprinkled the top with 1 tsp icing sugar and cut into 16 squares.
Despite the warning Maria gave about this, I did slightly overcook the brownies (by about 3 minutes I reckon), so they were not as gooey as I would ideally have liked. However, they were moist and tasty, not too sweet and with a delicious macadamia crunch. They have also been fantastic keepers, tasting better with each day that passes - one week on and I am still eating them (chief taster having succumbed to the flu and unable to be tempted). I now regret the decision to not make the full quantity as these were so good and an ideal opportunity to put some by in the freezer - hey ho!

As a bit more time has now passed since originally writing this post, I'm just doing a quick update. Things got a bit dramatic with my chief taster being rushed off to hospital at midnight in an ambulance - pneumonia it seems
He did get to taste one of the brownies before being rushed off, but I'm not sure his mind was really on it. My concerns for his welfare explains my lack of recent posts.

Tomorrow, I'm off on my Schumacher course, which is why I've posted this a day or two earlier than the official posting date.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Orange and Cardamom Birthday Cake


Goodness, I have got my first commission! My cupcake adventure around town during National Chocolate Week created a few waves and this was one of them - to make an enlarged version of one of my cardamom and orange cupcakes for a birthday. This is exciting but also rather scary and not the same as making a cake for a friend at all - it could all go horribly wrong and then what?

This is what I ended up doing:
  • Remembered to get butter (200g unsalted) out of fridge early and put it over the heater to warm.
  • Ground up seeds from 17 cardamom pods in a pestle and mortar.
  • Infused pods in 4 fl oz hot water.
  • Creamed softened butter with 200g of soft brown sugar, grated rind from 2 oranges, 1/4 tsp pink Himalayan salt and the ground cardamom until pale and fluffy. Then creamed it some more.
  • Beat in 4 large eggs (from customers own smallholding) alternately with some of the flour (which I'm just about to get to).
  • Sifted in 250g flour (1/2 wholemeal, 1/2 white spelt), 2 level tsp baking powder, 1 level tsp bicarb of soda and 50g cocoa.
  • Stirred in water (with pods sieved out) whilst still warm.
  • Mixed in 6 fl oz sour cream.
  • Divided mixture between 2 21cm cake thingies and baked at 180C for 25 mins.
  • Melted 200g 35% milk chocolate & left to cool slightly.
  • Creamed further 100g unsalted butter with 100g icing sugar.
  • Mixed in chocolate together with 2 tbsp orange liqueur.
  • Used half of the mixture to sandwich the cold cakes together, then spread remainder over the top.
  • Used minstrels to decorate.
Sadly, neither myself nor my chief chocolate taster got to taste this one, so I'll just have to assume it was completely delicious!

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Chilli Sauce

I know, I know. What's this got to do with chocolate I hear you ask? Well to be honest very little, other than chilli & chocolate come from the same part of the world and as Kath pointed out, they do go very well together. I was recently asked for this recipe and as it is one of my own and very dear to my heart I have decided to go against my own rules and put it on my chocolate blog.

We grow Alberto's Locoto which are hardier than most and we grow them outdoors. They are particularly good for making chilli sauce as they are large and thick fleshed. Unfortunately we didn't manage to get them ripe this year so we picked them green and have been waiting for them to ripen in our not so warm house. Today was the day we could wait no longer and luckily many of them were nice and red.

My chief taster helped out a bit with this one, he got the fun job of deseeding all the chillies!

This is how I do it:
  • Halved and deseeded 2 lb hot red Locoto chillies (striclty speaking I didn't do this bit).
  • Skinned 2 sweet red peppers by grilling them until skins were black and blistered then put them in a plastic bag for 5 mins (still messy but a lot easier to skin this way).
  • Peeled 8oz shallots and quartered.
  • Peeled 8 large cloves of garlic and quartered.
  • Peeled and cored 1 large cooking apple (unnamed Cornish variety) and cut into pieces.
  • Put all of this into a large saucepan together with 1/2 pt water, 3 bay leaves and several sprigs of thyme.
  • Simmered this for 1/2 an hour.
  • Added 1/2 pt red wine vinegar and 1 tsp sea salt.
  • Simmered for about another 1/2 hour.
  • Removed bay leaves and thyme.
  • Pureed mixture using hand held blender.
  • Mixed 2 level tsp arrowroot with a tbsp red wine vinegar until blended.
  • Stirred this into chilli mixture and simmered for further 3 mins until sauce had thickened slightly.
  • Poured into 7 clean smallish sterilised glass bottles and capped.
  • Heat processed by placing bottles into a large saucepan filled with enough water so that bottles were 3/4 covered. Bought water up to boiling point and simmered for 20 mins (stored in a cool dark place, this should last for at least 18 months).
You can make this sauce milder by using more red peppers and less chillies. The red peppers give the sauce a wonderful colour and help to flavour it. The quantities I have used make for a light ketchup type consistency, but you can make it thicker or runnier by adding more or less arrowroot. I've also made a runnier version of this sauce using our yellow Fatalii chillies and yellow sweet peppers - it worked well but was very very hot so we only use it for cooking. My tongue is now burning from tasting the sauce - not the hottest sauce in the world, but you generally don't need a great deal of it! In my humble opinion, this is the best chilli sauce I've ever tasted.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Breakfast Muffins


Sundays is the day I do the housework, the washing and various other chores - it's always really busy. Today I have the additional task of making the annual batch of chilli sauce. So, just to give myself a bit more work and, more crucially, the incentive to keep me going, I decided to make some muffins for breakfast. I used Rachel Demuth's recipe for Blackberry & Chocolate Muffins in Green Season's Cookbook. Having discovered last week what a good combination chocolate and ground cherries made, I substituted the blackberries for ground cherries.

This is what I did:
  • Sifted 300g flour (200g white spelt, 100g wholemeal spelt) into a bowl along with 1 heaped tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp cinnamon and a large pinch of salt.
  • Beat 2 Duck eggs together with 75g granulated sugar and 1 tsp vanilla essence until smooth.
  • Added this to the flour together with 100ml yogurt and 100ml of milk and mixed until well incorporated.
  • Folded in 200g ground cherries and 100g bar of 70% chocolate cut into bits.
  • Finally stirred in 100g melted butter.
  • Divided mixture between 12 muffin cases and baked in a preheated oven at 200C for 20 mins until risen and golden.

We ate them for breakfast (some of them anyway) warm from the oven. They were great, not sweet, but with a big energy giving chocolate and berry boost. What a nice change from a slice of toast eaten whilst dashing to the station in the mornings. I might have to do this more often.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Chocolate Ground Cherry Upside Down Cake


Finally, after weeks of waiting, we had enough ripe ground cherries (a type of physalis) to cook up a bit of a storm. Hum, what to make? Ground cherry crumble was all I'd ever had before and I fancied something a bit different - something with chocolate! So I came up with this.
  • Dehusked 200g ground cherries
  • Melted 50g unsalted butter in a pan and mixed in ground cherries then 100g demerara sugar
  • Poured this into a 22cm cake thingie
  • Melted 125g unsalted butter with 125g brown sugar & 100g 85% chocolate.
  • Sieved 150g flour, 1 rounded tsp baking powder and a pinch of salt into a bowl.
  • Made a well in the centre, poured the chocolate mixture in and stirred .
  • Mixed in 2 duck eggs and 3 tbsp milk.
  • Poured this over the ground cherries and baked for 30 mins at 180C.
  • Removed from oven and left to cool for 5 mins then turned out onto a plate.
The photos, taken with a flash, have really not done this cake justice. It was really pretty with the golden ground cherries making a great contrast to the lusciously dark cake. We had this warm, fresh from the oven and served with cream for dinner. It was completely delicious and equally delicious the next day cold. My chief taster and ground cherry fan was particularly impressed. The cake vanished with remarkable rapidity. I've discovered that ground cherries go particularly well with chocolate and I shall certainly be making this one again. Why don't more people grow ground cherries I wonder?

Sunday, 1 November 2009

White Chocolate & Orange Cookies: Sweet & Simple Bakes


This is a first for me. I had noted all the wonderful St Clement's Drizzle Cakes made by the members of Sweet & Simple Bakes last month and thought it would be fun to have a go myself. As this month's bake included chocolate, I couldn't really dip out!

I mostly stuck to the recipe as given - sort of! I used 1/2 wholemeal and 1/2 white spelt flour and all my ingredients are, of course, organic. Actually, I also used less chocolate - G&B Vanilla is so rich, I thought 100g would be enough.

Here is a link to the original recipe.

The results were pretty good, they were crisp around the edges and a bit chewy in the middle and I like my biscuits like that. I wasn't quite so happy with the high sugar content though and found them rather too sweet. So I was glad I didn't use the full quantity of chocolate as stated. The flavour combination was good though, so I will be making these again - less sugar next time and maybe a bit more chocolate. Thanks go to Maria and Rosie of Sweet & Simple Bakes for this.

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails