Archive for chocolate

A: Think pink!

Posted in Cakes, Muffins with tags , , , on October 10, 2008 by gluttondressedaslamb

October is Breast Cancer Month, and what better time than now to experiment with my favourite pink vegetable– beetroot! I have been desperate to make a beetroot cupcake for AGES but have never sighted a recipe that I felt was simple yet would do justice to this superfood.

SO, I did some research and decided the best thing to do would be to use a carrot cake recipe as a point of reference and go from there. This is what I came up with (and if I do say so myself, I am quite pleased).

Choco-beet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

Ingredients:

3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp plain flour and a pinch of salt

2 tbsp cocoa powder

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground ginger

2 large eggs

1/2 cup caster sugar

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup melted butter

2 tbsp milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

grated orange zest from one orange

1 1/2 cups grated beetroot

1/2 cup dark chocolate, chopped

Frosting: 125g cream cheese, 60g butter, 1 cup icing sugar, 1 tsp vanilla extract

Method:

Pre-heat oven to 180C, line 12 muffin cups.

Beat the eggs and sugars until well combined.

Add in oil, butter, milk, vanilla, zest and mix till blended.

Add in the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices and gently fold in the dry ingredients.

Stir in beetroot and chocolate chips.

Fill cupcake holders 3/4 of the way, bake for 20 minutes.

Cool in tray for 5 minutes before removing to a rack.

The cake itself has a

The cake itself has a lovely light texture and yet is very moist all at the same time! (I had to try one before frosting just in case I'd messed up!)

Frosting: Cream butter and cheese until smooth, add vanilla and mix until well blended. Sift icing sugar into butter and cheese mixture and beat until light and smooth. Frost cupcakes when cool.

Now if I didn’t already know there was beetroot in this cupcake I probably wouldn’t be able to pick it out. It’s one of those things that are only obvious if you know what you’re looking for. It’s not the best chocolate cupcake ever, but it’s pretty good for a first attempt! Plus the fact that it’s got beetroot in it makes it okay to stuff yourself silly on this stuff!

The orange zest was a bit of a non-event and didn’t really shine here, I might try Cointreau as well as orange zest next time. Perhaps even some candied beetroot or orange segments on the top? Oh the possibilities! Watch this space for more experimental beetroot madness!

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A: Shanks you very much!

Posted in Restaurant reviews with tags , , , , , on October 5, 2008 by gluttondressedaslamb

MWD with the girls on Monday followed by lunch at Sitella on Friday. You’d think I might be able to stay away from Swan valley for just a few more days but NO! Man and I decided to head to Duckstein for lunch today. The weather was lovely and we managed to get there just after opening, which was a good idea seeing how it was completed booked for indoor seating and we had to sit out in the courtyard!

Mmmm.... beer...

Mmmm.... beer...

We decided on the Cloudy Pils (our current Duckstein favourite) and I of course had the pork shank. Man’s meal choice was embarrassing considering we were at a German brew house– fish and chips. Sigh.

Having only recently tried the pork shank at Elmar’s, I am decidedly in favour of the Elmar’s over Duckstein for shank. The skin on the Elmar’s shank is far superior– crispy and totally edible, where the Duckstein shank’s skin was very chewy and not really worth the extra calories! The potatoes served at Elmar’s are crisp and gorgeously steamy on the inside compared to the so-so fried potatoes at D. Basically, Elmar’s have totally mastered the crisp-factor where it comes to potato and shank skin, where D really falls short. The shank itself was still quite lovely at D and went just beautifully with our pils. Beers between the 2 breweries are still comparable and quite competitive. No complaints in that department!

All in all it was a lovely way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Or any afternoon on any given day of the week, really.

We then headed to The Margaret River Chocolate Company for a look-see, which turned into a gluttonous chocolate frenzy culminating in a A$100 bill! Yay for champagne truffles and designer chocolate bars!!!

A: Beam me up, spotty!

Posted in Cakes with tags , , , on July 26, 2008 by gluttondressedaslamb

I made this cake for a friend’s birthday a while back and thoroughly enjoyed the whole process. I’m not too great at decorating or fiddling about with things, thanks to my giant farmer’s hands good for hard manual labour and not much else! YET, the spotted collar came out beautifully! I did need an extra pair of hands to place the collar on the cake but apart from that it was all me. I originally found the recipe here, but since then have actually seen it in an actual cookbook as well (I’m terribly sorry to have forgotten the name of the book, it does annoy me when people don’t cite original sources). If you do go to the website and wonder why my cake looks a lot like magicpantry’s in the comment section, it’s because that’s my comment!

Ingredients:

125g butter

125g caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla essence

2 eggs

160g morello cherry jam (any berry jam will do quite nicely, even marmalade!)

40g self-raising flour

125g plain flour (or 165g plain flour and 3 tsp baking powder, just omit the self-raising flour)

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

60g cocoa powder

185ml buttermilk

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 oC/gas 4.
  2. Brush a deep 9 inch round cake tin (or 2 similar-sized sandwich tins) with butter.
  3. Line base/sides with parchment.
  4. Beat butter, sugar & vanilla essence together.
  5. Add eggs gradually beating well after each addition
  6. Add jam; beat until smooth.
  7. Fold in sifted flours, soda & cocoa alternately with buttermilk. Stir until smooth.
  8. Pour mixture into prepared tin.
  9. Bake for 40 mins or until skewer comes out clean.
  10. Leave cake in tin for 5 mins until turning onto wire rack
  11. Cool completely before icing.

    Chocolate icing:

    150g white chocolate

    125g butter

    80ml cream

    Combine ingredients in a heavy-based saucepan. Heat over low heat until butter and white chocolate melts, stir then leave to cool to a mud-like consistency. Frost in between cakes and on the top only, or if baking one layer, frost all over.

    Chocolate collar

    Ingredients:

    40g white chocolate, melted

    80g dark chocolate, melted

    Method:

    Cut out a rectangular strip of baking paper about 3 cm wider than the height of the cake (including icing) and 2 cm longer than the circumference of the cake.

    Drop dots of melted white chocolate randomly over strip.

    Allow to set, then spread a layer of melted dark chocolate over the entire strip. (Make sure the chocolate has cooled a little so you don’t melt the while chocolate).

    Working quickly, wrap paper, chocolate-side in around the cake. This is where you might need to grow extra hands or yell out for help!

    Hold paper strip in place until the strip holds itself on.

    Put the cake in the fridge until the chocolate collar is set.

    When set, carefully peel away the paper. Take a moment to enjoy your artwork!

    Refrigerate the cake until ready to serve. Just before serving, fill the top of the cake with fresh berries, glaze with melted jam if you like, dust with icing sugar/cocoa and serve!!!

    Note: I imagine you could make a Pollack-isque collar by drizzling the white chocolate across the baking paper in long strokes or if you’re really game, the name of the lucky birthday boy/girl. The possibilities are endless!

    A: Eggcellent environmentally-friendly idea #1

    Posted in Muffins with tags , , , on July 18, 2008 by gluttondressedaslamb

    At the risk of sounding a little too pleased with myself, I am so very proud of this particular stroke of genius!

    Firstly, I do believe I have found the world’s best chocolate muffin recipe (yes, really). Thanks once again to Dorie and her amazing substitution ideas combined with the unfaltering user-friendly recipes from Leiths Baking Bible I have discovered what just might be the perfect combination of liquids to use when baking (see recipe).

    Secondly, check out the funky packaging!!!

    Not quite what you were eggspecting?

    Not quite what you were eggspecting?

    Now, I’m not claiming to be the first person to have thought of transporting mini-muffins in an egg carton. In fact, I’d be quite surprised if no one’s thought of it before! BUT, I am nonetheless pleased with my clever discovery.

    Triple Chocolate Muffins (adapted from Leiths Baking Bible)

    Ingredients:

    285g self-raising flour

    55g cocoa powder

    225g soft light brown sugar

    1 egg, beaten

    85g butter, melted

    175ml evaporated milk

    100ml buttermilk

    55g white chocolate chips

    55g dark chocolate chips

    85g milk chocolate chips

    Method:

    1. Heat oven to 180C

    2. Combine flour, cocoa and sugar and whisk to combine

    3. Combine egg, butter and both milks in a jug and add to the dry ingredients, mixing carefully.

    4. Add chocolate chips and mix well.

    5. Spoon into muffin cases and bake for 20-25 minutes (15 minutes if baking mini-muffins)

    6. Cool on wire rack and enjoy!

    Makes 12 muffins plus 12 mini muffins, or 36 minis, or 18 muffins, or 6-10 jumbo muffins or one really, really big muffin. Mmmmm….. giant muffin……

    Note: The evaporated milk may be substituted for milk and buttermilk for soured cream (as was in the original recipe), but I do find that the evaporated milk made the mix extremely creamy with a lovely, sticky mouth-feel, while the buttermilk gave it a fairly light crumb. Mix and match to figure out what suits you!

    A: Buttermilk madness

    Posted in Muffins with tags , , , , , on June 28, 2008 by gluttondressedaslamb

    I adore baking with buttermilk, and have in my recipe collection a decent repertoire of muffins and cakes that call for buttermilk. Unfortunately, buttermilk once opened tends to spoil quickly (yes, even in the fountain of youth I affectionately refer to as Fridge). My local supermarket sells buttermilk in 1l quantities, where the average cake/muffin recipe uses 1/2-1 cup of buttermilk, which always results in the onslaught of buttermilk baking in a quest to use up every last drop of this milky ambrosia. More often than not I call on an old favourite of mine- a basic muffin recipe that doesn’t require the Kitchenaid (much as I adore my empire red powerhouse), just 2 bowls and a spatula.

    cooling muffins

    This time I split the basic mix in 2 and did a raspberry and white chocolate, as well as a lemon and poppyseed batch. I must say the raspberry and white chocolate combination is a hard one to beat!

    Basic muffin mix

    2 cups plain flour (or 1 1/2 cups plain and 1/2 wholemeal)

    1 tbsp baking powder

    1 tsp baking soda

    1/4 cup caster sugar

    1/2 tsp salt

    1 egg

    1 1/2 cups buttermilk

    3 tbsp melted butter

    Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl and whisk well.

    Combine all the wet ingredients and whisk well.

    Add wet to dry and mix gently with a spatula.

    Add fruit/nuts/ chocolate chips (see tried and tested additions, below).

    Bake at 190C for 20-25 minutes. Makes 12.

    Tried and tested additions (no fixed quantities here, just add ingredients until it looks right!)

    Raspberry and white chocolate

    Strawberry and lemon zest, followed by drenching it in lemon syrup (equal proportions lemon juice and sugar, boiled till sugar dissolves)

    Chocolate chocolate chip (substitute 1/2 cup flour for cocoa, add milk and dark chocolate chips)

    Lemon and poppyseed- zest in mix, drenched in lemon syrup or topped with lemon butter after.

    The list is endless!!!

    A beautiful light crumb, thanks to the buttermilk no doubt. Enjoy!

    A: Haunted oven/pantry

    Posted in Muffins with tags , , on June 26, 2008 by gluttondressedaslamb

    Botched up a lemon slice BIG TIME a couple nights ago. So much that I was too ashamed to even consider photographing it. Granted, I decided to make it in a new set of tart tins instead of a baking tray, which is what caused the giant leak, which resulted in giant pool of lemon filling on bottom of oven, which resulted in big black gooey mess, which ended up in big old sulk on kitchen floor.

    THEN came the wonderfully moist chocolate cake that I have made over and over again with no trouble, that decided NOT TO RISE!!! Turns out self-raising flour really does expire and the pantry isn’t a rot-free zone like the fridge (because we all know that the fridge is a safe haven from all bacteria and spoilage, and food lasts infinitely in the fridge). Tastes ok but way too dense. 😦

    flat choc cake

    And FINALLY came the buttermilk chocolate cupcakes that just couldn’t quite hackit. Cupcake tins too full, not full enough, all in all they just didn’t look right!

    sunken chocolate muffinoverflowing cupcake

    So I picked out the best of the lot, slapped on some frosting and played with the cat.

    frosted cupcakes

    Try and try again they say!

    A: When the going gets tough…

    Posted in Biscuits/Cookies with tags , , , on June 14, 2008 by gluttondressedaslamb

    The tough get baking!

    It’s a busy time at work and of course I have left too much too late. The house is a mess, car needs fixing, and of course there’s the impending in-laws visit. So what do I do 90 minutes before we’re due at the airport to pick them up, surrounded by a paper-trail-moat and tripping over misplaced magazines and bric-brac? BAKE!

    On one of my late night trawls through the internet I chanced upon Baking (From my home to yours) by Dorie Greenspan and I officially LOVE it. She offers up interesting alternatives and substitutions and her recipes are nothing if not versatile and plain ‘ol YUM.

    So, I pile up paper-trail-moat to build a substantial tower instead, shovel all else under some unassuming rug and started on Dorie’s Chocolate Chunkers. Mmmm…..

    Prepped it, baked 4 batches, washed up, and we still had to wait 15 minutes at the airport for said in-laws to clear customs.

    Fresh from the oven!

    Left chunkers (and they really are very chunky) to cool and returned an hour later, weary guests in tow to the warm homely smell of freshly baked cookies. Didn’t take long for taste tests 1, 2, 3 and then some, to take the edge off having sat 5 hours in a cramped budget airline cabin. YAY! Took some more to gym this morning and shared it with my workout posse (ironic really but we feel we earned the sugar hit), then sat down to a relaxed cup of tea on the balcony this afternoon in between procrastination and daydreaming to savour what was left of the bickies.

    Enjoying some much needed balcony time

    Chocolate Chunkers (adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking)

    1/3 cup plain flour

    1/4 cup cocoa powder

    1/2 tsp salt

    1/4 tsp baking powder

    3 tbsp softened butter

    200g 70% chocolate

    2 large eggs

    2/3 cup sugar

    1tsp vanilla extract

    175g 70% chocolate, chopped

    175g white chocolate, chopped

    1 1/2 cups chopped nuts (I roasted some pecans before chopping and adding to the mix)

    Melt butter and 200g lot of 70% chocolate (I use the microwave and watch it like a hawk). Set it aside to cool.

    Beat eggs and sugar on med-high until pale and foamy.

    Beat in vanilla then add melted butter and chocolate, mixing only until incorporated.

    Scrape down the bowl, then add dry ingredients on low. Dough will be thick.

    Using a spatula, mix in chocolate and nuts (original recipe also called for 1 cup raisins or chopped apricots)

    Drop dough by generous tablespoons onto baking sheets, leaving room between each mound and bake at 180C for 10-12 minutes. Enjoy!