Friday, 21 February 2014

Coffee and Chocolate Madelines


Are you there February 2014? It's me Deirdre, please don't leave me. I am hanging on like a bird in a tree during a tornado. 

I am on the study train again with exams looming which means I am pretty much eating everything I can get my hands on.

Today I ate this Heuvos Rancheros for dinner with guacamole and sweet potato chips but that just whet my appetite for delicious avocado so I made this Avocado Hummus with tortilla chips. Mexico meets the Middle East. I could eat that stuff with a soup ladle. I didn't obviously (warning not so obvious). Get this on your Friday night chat show food menu. Seriously.

This is the second time I have featured madelines. These are sort of a twist on the classic vanilla and almond and coffee and chocolate are a combination from heaven, there is no doubt about that. Crisp on the outside, soft on the inside, these babies won't make February slow down but they will ease the transition into March! 

From Will Torrent's Pattisserie at Home 

125g butter 
100g icing sugar 
30g ground almond 
30g plain flour 
1 1/2 tbsp cocoa powder 
a pinch of salt
1 1/2 instant coffee 
3 large egg whites 
2 tps honey 
1 tsp vanilla extract 

1. Brush the madeline tin with butter and dust with flour. Place in the fridge. 
2. Put the butter in a saucepan over medium heat and allow to melt. Continue to cook until it turns golden brown and the sizzling stops. This is browning butter. 
3. Sift the sugar, ground almonds, flour, cocoa powder and salt into a dry bowl.  
4. Whisk in coffee, egg whites, honey and vanilla with a balloon whisk. 
5. Finally whisk in the cooled browned butter. 
6. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave in the fridge for at least an hour, preferably overnight. 
7. Preheat the oven to 170oC. Place a heaped tablespoon of mixture into the holes in the madeline tin. 
8. Place in the fridge for 20 minutes so that a skin can form. 
9. Place in the oven for 10-15 minutes. Allow to cool completely in the pan and then ease out with a butter knife. 

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Messy Chocolate Brownies with Salted Caramel Sauce

I'm Liz Lemon-ing my way around the world today. Shuffling from calamity to calamity in baggy pants and stained oversized sweatshirts while mumbling nonsensically to myself. And EVERYTHING is messy. The house, my handbag, my brain. Even my food. Especially my food.  Messy, messy messy. 

Nothing to do but embrace it. Or tidy up.....  

Brownies from Neven Maguire

200g (8oz) butter 
250g (10oz) caster sugar 
25g (1oz) pecan or walnuts nuts, roughly chopped 
275g (10oz) plain chocolate, finely chopped (I like a mix of dark and milk, 200g milk, 75g dark) 
4 eggs 
100g (4oz) self-raising flour 
75g (3oz) cocoa powder

1. Preheat the oven to 170oC. 
2. Line a swiss roll tin 30cm x 23cm/12 inches x 9 inches with deep edges (at least 5cm/2 inches deep). 
3. Melt 100g/4oz of the chocolate gently in the microwave or in a pan with the butter. Make sure to stir regularly. Set aside to cool. Chop the remaining chocolate. 
4. Beat the eggs with an electric beaters until they start to increase in volume. Dump in the sugar and beat until the eggs are a pale shade of yellow, thicker and doubled in volume. 
5. Sift the flour and cocoa powder into the bowl and then fold in gently until almost incorporated.
6. Add the cooled butter and chocolate mixture along with the remaining chopped chocolate and the nuts, if using. 
7. Fold until all combined being careful not to overwork as this will knock all the air out. 
8. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 20 minutes. Then turn the tin around and bake for a further 10 minutes. The top should have a nice crust and be pillow firm to the touch. By that I mean you don't want it liquidy but you do want a slight wobble in the centre. 

For the salted caramel sauce - From Brown Eyed Baker

See picture tutorial here
200g/8oz caster sugar
90g/4oz butter cubed 
116g/5 fl oz cream at room temperature

1. Put the caster sugar in a dry, non-teflon large pan. The greater the surface area of the pan the easier it is to caramelise. Turn to a medium heat and watch like a hawk. 
2. When the edges begin to darken gently swirl the pan so that the undissolved sugar mixes with the caramel. Once all the sugar has melted do not stir. 
3. Allow to cook over a medium heat until it is an amber brown. If you have a sugar thermometer it should read 350oF. Even if the sugar has crystallised, keep cooking. It will all come good once you keep the heat low! 
4. Once you have reached the right temperature or the right colour take off the heat and add the butter. The caramel will sizzle but continue to stir cautiously. 
5. Finally pour in the cream, stirring continuously. The sauce should become glossy and thick. 

Note: If you feel like your caramel smells suspiciously like burning and you don't have a sugar thermometer fill a sink with cold water and plunge the bottom of the saucepan into the water. This will stop the cooking process. Have a quick taste (let it cool first!) and if you think it needs more cooking put back on the heat.  

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

I was going to whinge about the incessant rain and violent winds that have been whipping through our little island.   

And then I remember that in some parts of the country houses and cars are flooded and so soggy jeans compared to the horror of wading through your kitchen seems merely.... inconvenient.  

Onto the bakeage so... 

You can be knee-deep in fancy French pastries but some days all you want is a great soccer-mom-style all-American chocolate chip cookie.    

Welcome to my ultimate chocolate chip cookie recipe. That means a lot coming from the girl who rarely bakes anything twice. (Seriously I think I might have bakers ADD). 

The 'secret ingredient?' The technique of browning butter. Get on that train. It adds such a depth of caramel style flavour to your bakes. [Insert rant and rave here]. I have used it before in Almond and vanilla bean madelines and these Maple Syrup Pancake Muffins. NOMS

Three things I want from a great chocolate chip cookie:  
1. Chewiness 
2. Slight ooze in the centre (the perfect bake is crispy on the outside and slightly gooey in the centre) 
3. Plenty of chocolate (preferably milk).  

From Joy the Baker cookbook

Makes 2 1/2 dozen cookies

8 oz/225g unsalted butter softened
1 cup caster sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp treacle/molasses (optional)
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk
2 1/4 cups plain four
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup chopped nuts (pecans are fabulous)
6oz/150g chopped milk chocolate

1. Brown half of the butter by placing in a small pan and melt on a gently heat. Once melted crank up the heat to MEDIUM and simmer. The butter will crack and sizzle, this is fine. Once the butter goes light brown and the crackling stops the butter is ready. Take off the heat and allow to cool.
2. Cream the remaining 112g of butter with the caster sugar until light and fluffy, around 4 minutes. Add the vanilla and treacle (if using) and beat for one minute. Check that the brown butter is cooled and then add along with the brown sugar.
3. Cream for around 2 minutes then add the egg and egg yolk. Beat for one more minute.
4. In a clean bowl sift the flour and baking powder together. Add the salt.
5. Dunk the flour into the butter mixture all at once and beat at a low speed.
6. Finally fold in the chocolate and nuts until well incorporated.
7. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes while you heat the oven to 375 F/190 C.
8. Roll tablespoons of dough into balls and space well apart on a lined baking tray. #
9. Bake for 12-14 minutes until slightly browned on top.
10. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before devouring.