Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Pretzel Cookies

I may be a chocolate + pretzel addict....

First I made these Salty Pretzel Chocolate Brownies and they were such a delicious chocolately salty soft and crunchy sensation that  my food imagination went into overdrive and I made these Salted Caramel Pretzel Chocolate Doughnuts.

It was only a matter of time before one obsession met another- 'browning' butter. You will notice a subtle caramel undertone in your cookies if you add brown butter AND it also makes this dough easy to roll into balls before baking.

Makes 2 dozen

100g butter
110g caster sugar
50g soft brown sugar
100g chocolate chips
175g plain flour
50g crushed pretzels
1 tsp baking powder
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla

1. Brown 50g of butter by heating in a saucepan over a medium heat. When the butter starts to crackle, turn the heat down. Take off the heat when plenty of brown flecks appear and the butter goes silent. Leave to cool completely.
2. Cream 50g butter and the sugars in a bowl with an electric beater for 5-6 minutes. Add a third of the egg with a tablespoon of flour and beat well. Continue to use up all of the egg.
3. Add the vanilla and brown butter beat briefly for 1 minute.
4. Add the flour and baking powder and mix until fully combined, but try not to get too heavy handed.
5. Finally fold in the pretzels and chocolate chips. Roll into a ball, wrap in clingfilm and leave in the fridge for 30 minutes.
6. Heat the oven to 180oC. Roll the dough into balls and place well spaced apart on a baking sheet.
7. Bake for 8-10 minutes until golden at the edges.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Chocolate Coffee Pecan Buns

The weekend is my happy coffee time. If I drink coffee at work, I am usually feeling tired and in need of an energy boost. But at the weekend, I savour it. A good cup of coffee is a giant exhale, a high-five, a 'whoop' it's the weekend. 

And I won't just make a cup of coffee for anything. It has to be for something good. A great read, an interesting article, a cool podcast, a great episode of my favourite-right-now TV show. A good cup of coffee at the weekend cannot be squandered.

And just as the moment must be right, so too must the accompaniment. Enter soft pillowy dough and swirls of coffee chocolate pecan sweetness. God I am in LOVE with these buns. The dough recipe is taken from Donal Skehan's recipe for Swedish Cinnamon Buns,.

Yeah it has yeast in it so you need to hang around for an hour or so to let it rise and do 5 minutes of kneading if you don't have a food processor, but honestly it's extremely straightforward. I experimented with the filling, departing from the traditional cinnamon flavour and really do love the chocolate and chocolate combo. The coffee cuts through the sweetness of the milk chocolate and the pecan nuts provide a toffee tasting crunch. 

Because I am a hipster wannabe I baked them in a cast iron skillet. You can bake these buns free form on a baking sheet or in muffin cases. 

Go on.... Your weekend coffee deserves a worthy partner.

Makes around 12 rolls

200ml milk
1 sachet instant action yeast
55g butter, melted
55g caster sugar
375g plain flour
1-2 tsp salt

For the filling
40g butter
55g sugar
30g milk chocolate
1 heaped tsp instant coffee powder
1 tblsp cocoa powder
125g pecan nuts

1. Heat the milk and butter over a low heat in a saucepan or in the microwave until the butter is almost melted. Take off the heat, stir until the butter is fully melted, add a teaspoon of sugar and allow to cool.
2. When lukewarm, sprinkle over the sachet of yeast and whisk well. Set aside for 5-10 minutes until the mixture becomes frothy. If it doesn't get frothy, then check the sell by date on your yeast and start again.
3. Put the flour, salt and caster sugar in a bowl. Add in the yeast mixture and mix until a ball of dough forms. Tip out onto a floured surface and knead for 5-6 minutes until the ball is smooth and no longer ragged.
4. Put the dough into a clean bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave to rise for 1 hour to 1.5 hours in a warm place like the airing cupboard or beside (but not on) a radiator, until doubled.
5. To make the filling, put the chocolate in a small saucepan with the butter and heat until evenly melted. Take off the heat and add the coffee and cocoa powder. Allow to cool and then add the sugar. Mix well until a thick paste forms.
6. Heat the oven to 190oC and chop the pecan nuts gently.
7. Punch the air out of the dough, tip onto a floured surface and roll into a rectangle 3mm thick. Spread the paste liberally and sprinkle over the pecan nuts, not forgetting the corners but leaving a 1cm border around the rectangle.
8. Starting at the long side roll the dough like a swiss roll to create a snail-like effect.
9. Once fully rolled up, use a knife to cut the dough into 12 pieces. Place cut side up into a cast iron skillet or a flat bottom pan suitable for the oven which has been greased and lined on the bottom with a sheet of baking paper. Leave an inch or so between each buns. Do not overcrowd or your buns won't cook properly and will be soggy. You may have one or two extra if your pan is as big as mine. Bake these free form on a baking sheet.
10. Leave the buns to rise for another 30 minutes and then brush with a little beaten egg for shine before baking for 15-18 minutes until golden.