Ready for greatness | Baller Brownies

Everybody loves brownies. They’re in every cafe, every bake sale, every morning tea. A good, fudgy, chewy brownie is everything that is right in this world.

So how do you make a great thing better? Fill it with all the best, tastiest tidbits you can get your hands on. Today, that’s two kinds of chocolate chips and crunchy nuts. Are you ready for greatness? Because these brownies are.

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Many years ago, I was commissioned to make 100 white chocolate mud cake cupcakes with white chocolate buttercream. Several trials and more than 200 cupcakes later… The smell of white chocolate makes me instantly queasy. Can’t do it. This recipe takes boring old white chocolate and turns it into golden, caramel-ey goodness. Roasting the chocolate low and slow imparts a deep caramel flavour that can be used anywhere you’d use the white stuff. And the smell? Heaven. I can’t get enough.

This recipe is made better by the quality of chocolate you use. Lindt is the best supermarket-available chocolate, and I like to use the Smooth 70% and Touch of Salt, because it’s not overly sweet, it’s not overly bitter, and the salt just lifts everything and makes it better. Buy it when it’s on sale, and you’re onto a winner.

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Baller Brownies

Adapted from Delicious

150g unsalted butter, chopped
250g dark chocolate (I used 200g Lindt 70% Smooth dark, 50g Lindt Salted Dark), chopped
3 eggs, lightly beaten
250g caster sugar
50g plain flour
100g white chocolate, chopped
50g Lindt Salted Dark
100g pistachios, chopped

Heat the oven to 120*c. Place the white chocolate in a Pyrex roasting dish, then place in the oven. Stir the chocolate every 10 minutes or so until it’s a deep gold in colour and caramelised in flavour. It’s okay if it looks lumpy, it will smooth back out. Set aside to cool and solidify.

Increase the temperature 10 180*c. Line a brownie pan with baking paper and set aside.

Place the chopped dark chocolate and butter into a heatproof bowl, then place the bowl over a small saucepan of simmering water, making sure the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl.Stir occasionally until melted together, and set aside to cool to room temperature.

Whisk the eggs and sugar together with an electric mixture until light and fluffy, a couple of minutes. Add the chocolate mixture to the egg mixture and combine, then stir in the flour. Crumble in the caramelised white chocolate, pistachios and additional dark chocolate, folding to evenly combine.

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Pour the mixture into the brownie pan and bake for 20-25 minutes until a crust forms. Remove the pan from the oven and leave to cool to room temperature, then place in the fridge to chill and firm.

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Hand Made Heaven | Salted Caramel Apple Crumble

I have a lot of cook books. Like, a lot. I’ve just realised that, of the bookshelf that is entirely dedicated to cook books, it’s full. I have come to the conclusion that I can never ever move from my current house, because moving the books is just too damn hard.

Whether you have overflowing selves like me, or no shelves, or you just want a book that covers all your day-to-day baking needs, get your hands on this. Hand Made Baking is an instant classic, and will be your go-to bible for years to come. Everything is practical, within reach of beginners, but with enough finesse to please a more seasoned baker. His tag line of simple, sophisticated, delicious is just about the perfect description for every recipe.

And Kamran? He writes over at The Sophisticated Gourmet, a gorgeous blog that I’ve been following for a little while now. Oh, and he’s 22. That’s right, TWENTY BLOODY TWO. To be so good, so young, Kamran quite simply had to be born to this. And we are all the better for it.

The forecast for Perth this weekend is pretty monstrous – storms, wind, rain, and cold, AKA Bri’s dream weather, on the proviso I can spend it in bed with books and movies. And probably a bowl of this, because why wouldn’t you? 

This apple crumble is perfect all on its own, but I couldn’t help but add lashings of salted butter caramel that I had tucked away in the fridge. There are few recipes that I make more than once, but I made this every weekend for a month, for the guys at work, for Rob, for friends at a party, because there is no one who won’t love this recipe.

P.S. Kamran’s tip of using half sweet apples and half tart is the perfect way of getting a balanced, not overly sweet crumble. Genius.

Salted Caramel Apple Crumble

Adapted from Hand Made Baking by Kamran Siddiqi

2 tsp lemon juice
6 apples, cored and thinly sliced
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch of sea salt
1/2 cup caramel sauce (store bought is fine, or something like this)

120g plain flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
Pinch of cinnamon
85g cold unsalted butter, chopped
150g traditional oats
70g brown sugar

Heat your oven to 200*C. Spray a brownie pan with oil, or grease with butter.

Combine the sliced apples in a large bowl with the lemon juice. Combine the sugar, salt and cinnamon, then add to the apples and carefully stir to coat. Pour into the baking dish, scatter tablespoons of caramel over the apples.

Whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, sugar and cinnamon in a bowl large enough to get your hands into. Rub the butter into the flour mixture with your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the oats and combine.

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Cover the apples with the crumble, then bake for 20-25 minutes until the crumble is golden. Serve with custard or ice cream

 
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Ain’t no one got time for that| Banoffee Pavlova

Pot lucks and picnics, dinner parties and barbecues, shindigs and hootenannies. There’s a myriad of pre-Christmas catch-ups in the pipeline for all of us, so in the interest of being prepared (and also greedy) I’m lining up a couple of crowd-pleasing recipes for you to keep in your back pocket!

First up, Banoffee Pavlova.

Pavlova is pretty traditional at this time of year. I mean, why WOULDN’T you take complete advantage off all of that beautiful seasonal fruit? Uh, because everything is made better with cream and caramel, and fruit makes it almost look like healthy, and you know I ain’t got time for that. Obviously.

I made this a couple of weeks ago for a food bloggers picnic (Thanks Bryton for organising!), and good gravy, it was tasty. You know you’re onto a winner when no one could resist eating dessert first!

Meringue remains a current obsession of mine, which is fuelled by the fact that my gas oven is basically a furnace, running faaaar too hot to bake pavlova properly. Every time I make one, it doesn’t fails, which infuriates me, which gives me a steely resolve to get the next one right, which then fails, rinse, repeat. If you’re having some trouble with your pavlovas, I found this to be really helpful with troubleshooting.

Hell, if you get really stuck, you can buy a pavlova and just throw this together… Though, as always, making your own is a thousand times more satisfying. Trust me on this, a well-made meringue is a thing of great beauty.

 

 

Banoffee Pavlova

300g caster sugar
5 large egg whites

2-3 medium sized ripe bananas, sliced
250g tub mascarpone
½ cup whipping cream
½ – ¾ cup caramel sauce, approx (I used El Asador dulce de leche, but you can make your own, or even use Top N Fill in a pinch)
2 Crunchie/Violet Crumble or Flake bars, crushed

 

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Line a baking tray with baking paper. Spread the sugar over the tray in an even layer, then bake for 5 minutes to melt the edges.

Place the egg whites in a bowl and whisk on low (either with a freestanding mixer or electric beater) until they froth up a little bit, then increase the speed and beat until stiff peaks form. Remove the sugar from the oven, turn the temperature down to 100°C and leave the door open a little to help cool the oven down. With the mixer on high, add a spoonful of sugar to the egg mixture at a time. Once sugar is combined, continue whisking for a further 5 minutes until stiff, smooth and glossy.

Carefully spoon the meringue onto a baking sheet lined with baking paper (I split mine into two), making a little well in the middle. Bake for two hours, then turn off the oven and leave to cool completely.

When ready to serve, combine the mascarpone and whipping cream, and whip together until it forms soft peaks. Spoon half of the cream over each pavlova, then top with 1 sliced banana, half the caramel sauce (there’s no such thing as too much caramel, so if you need more, use more!) and 1 crumbled Crunchie/Flake bar. VERY carefully place one pavlova on top of the other, and serve.

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Image via @brytontaylor Instagram

 

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The Sweet Swap | Salted Caramel Swirl Marshmallows

I love mail.

I mean, proper mail. Not bills, or pizza delivery flyers, not junk mail. Ain’t no one got time for that.

So when I heard about The Sweet Swap, you can bet I was signing up for something that results in me getting delicious treats in the post. Why wouldn’t you!?

I had been inspired to give marshmallow-making a go after reading this post by The Sugar Hit – I mean, how hard could it be?

So I made one batch. That went fine.

I started on a second. I dropped and smashed my thermometer. I then burnt the sugar syrup. In a moment of brain snap, I poured the syrup straight into the bin… Where, because sugar syrup is basically lava, it melted through the bin liner (and half of the contents), pooled in the bottom of the bin, and set like toffee. The whole bin went into the garbage (and I still owe Blair a new one).

Oops.

One week and a new thermometer later, and these guys came to fruition. So very, very pretty, and very, very tasty.

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Salted Caramel Swirl Marshmallows

From Bake or Break

For the coating:
3/4 cup icing sugar
1/2 cup cornflour

For the marshmallows:
1/2 cup salted caramel sauce (bought or your own recipe)
4 & 1/2 teaspoons unflavored powdered gelatin
1/2 cup cold water
3/4 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup, divided
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Sift together the corn flour and icing sugar in a small bowl, set aside.

Lightly coat a square brownie tin with oil, then dust the pan with the icing sugar mixture.

In a microwave safe bowl, combine the gelatin with 1/2 cup cold water and leave to bloom for 5 minutes.

In a medium saucepan, combine 1/4 cup corn syrup, 1/4 cup water and salt and bring to a boil. Stirring occasionally, bring to a temperature of 240*f/115*c.

While the syrup boils, heat the gelatin in the microwave for 30 seconds or until melted. Pour into the bowl of a stand mixer with the remaining 1/4 cup corn syrup, then turn the mixer on low.

Once the syrup has reached temperature, remove from heat and veeeery slowly add to the gelatin mixture, while the mixer is still on low. Once combined, increase the speed to medium and beat for 5 minutes. Increase the speed again, beating for a further 5 minutes. Then, increase to high, add the vanilla and beat for 2 minutes. The mixture should have tripled in volume and be white and fluffy.

Add 1/4 of the marshmallow mixture to a bowl, and stir in the caramel until combined. Then scrape the caramel mixture back in to the marshmallow, and gently swirl together.

Pour evenly into the brownie tin, and smooth the top with a spatula. Leave the marshmallow uncovered in a cool dry place for 8 hours or overnight to firm.

Cut the marshmallows into squares, then toss with extra coating (this stops them from sticking) and tap off any excess. Enjoy!

 

Most marshmallows are gluten-free – just make sure the icing sugar and cornflour specifies that they are gluten-free (most do), and you’re on your way to an allergy friendly treat for the masses!

Welcome to the dark side. We have cookies.

I wish I could tell you that there is some kind of story as to why I made these cookies. Some kind of tale about visiting friends, sharing a biccie over a cup of tea; a true soul bonding moment.

No such luck, my dear reader. It comes down to my two favourite things. Gluttony and obsession. Once I happened across this recipe, I could think of nothing else until I made them. I mean, it’s caramel, with nutella, in a chocolate chic chip cookie. It’s everything I’ve ever dreamed of, if my dreams were anything like this. Which, let’s be honest, they are.

It goes without saying that these are most certainly a sometimes food.

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They’re playing jump rope with that fine line between you and diabetes. But what’s the point in life if you can’t enjoy a sugar bomb once in a while? One that’s not worth living, that’s what. So go ahead.

Salted Caramel & Nutella Stuffed Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

From Top With Cinnamon

1/2 cup (110g) butter
1 1/2 cups (350g) light brown sugar
1/2 cup (55g) cocoa powder
2 eggs
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking powder
2 cups (260g) all-purpose flour
100g milk or dark chocolate chips
flaky salt, for sprinkling
Nutella
15-16 caramel-filled chocolates (or whatever flavour you like – mint would also be excellent)

Preheat the oven to 180*c. Line a cookie tray with baking paper.

In a saucepan, melt the butter. Remove from heat and add the brown sugar and eggs, stirring to combine. Add the cocoa, salt and baking powder, then the flour, stirring well to combine. Carefully fold in the chocolate chips.

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Take about 1 tbsp of dough, flatten it into a disc; take 1 piece of caramel chocolate, dunk it in the Nutella, then wrap the cookie dough around the chocolate.

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Place on the cookie tray, then gently press flat with your palm (but don’t crush the chocolate). Sprinkle the cookies with flaky salt, then bake for 8-10 minutes.

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Leave to cool on a wire rack.

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Old school

Canteen. Tuck shop. Cafeteria. School lunches hold a
special place in our hearts, for better or worse. I had the
pleasure of growing up pre-food revolution, so my school canteens
were stocked with chicken rolls, noodle cups, vegemite cheesies
(which are still a comfort food of mine to this day) and packet
soups in winter. The only thing better than vegemite cheesies, is
the treats section. Vanilla slice. Yogos. Little Petit Miam
tubs?Mars Bar slice. Anzac biscuits. My highschool made the best
hedgehog slice I’ve ever had, and I’m too scared to try them
anywhere else, least it doesn’t live up to my expectations. What’s
missing from this list? ONLY THE MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL. Caramel
slice is a classic, the kind of thing that’s met with very confused
faces should you admit to never having tried it. There may even be
claims of being denied caramel slice being akin to child abuse.
Don’t be offended, it’s just really that good. I made this for my
friend Jan’s birthday recently. He explained
that he loved it, but hadn’t had a good one in some time. It’s
everything you remember.

Caramel & Ginger
Slice

From Cuisine Magazine Base 1 cup
shredded coconut 190g unsalted butter, melted 1 and 2/3 cup plain
flour 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed 75g crystallised ginger, finely
chopped
Preheat the oven to 180*. Gently toast the
coconut in a dry frying pan until lightly golden. Combine the
butter, brown sugar and flour in a bowl, then add the coconut. Line
a slice tray with baking paper, then press the mixture the bottom
of the pan. Bake for 15 minutes until golden. IMG_6640 Sprinkle with crystallised
ginger, then set aside to cool.
Caramel 395g can sweetened condensed
milk 2 tbsp golden syrup 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed 75g unsalted
butter, chopped 3 tsp ground ginger Put all the ingredients into a
small saucepan, and over low heat, cook,
stirring continuously so it doesn’t burn. Pour the
caramel over the base and then bake for a further 15 minutes or so,
until the caramel bubbles. IMG_6643 Remove from the oven and
leave to cool. Ganache 1/2 cup cream
1/2 cup dark chocolate, chopped Bring a saucepan of water to a
simmer, then place a heatproof bowl with the cream and chocolate
over the top. Stir the two together until smooth and glossy. Spread
the ganache over the cool caramel, then put in the fridge for at
least an hour to set. Cut into squares before serving. IMG_6650 IMG_6645 If you’re not ginger
inclined, you can leave it out entirely. Another option is to
sprinkle flaked sea salt over the caramel before you put in the
oven for a shot of salted caramel goodness. Oh. This weekend? Northbridge O-Day. It looks fantastic,
there are activities and fun and snacks. You should go, take your
friends and kids!

Afternoon (tea) Delight

Have you ever had that thing where, say, you decide to buy a red car. In the following days/weeks/whatever, all you see are red cars? I’m having the recipe equivalent of that.

Right now, I’m staring at 6 recipes, in varying forms, of tarte tatin. Which is a little weird, because until the onslaught of recipes started creeping into my food magazines… I didn’t know what one was. An upside down tart with apples (traditionally) caramelized in butter and sugar, it turns out.

The internet does many things, sadly transporting the incredible smell one of these baking in the oven is not one of them. I can’t even begin to tell you!

You could use frozen puff pastry here. But don’t. Make this rough puff instead. It hands down beats the frozen stuff, the buttery flavours are heaven with the rich caramel.Trust me on this.You should definitely pair this with a cup of tea, it’s utter perfection.

Apple Tarte Tatin

Ingredients

Rough Puff
250g strong (baker’s) flour
250g unsalted butter, chopped (at room temperature)

Tart
3/4 cup caster sugar
1/4 cup water
50g chopped butter
4 green apples, peeled, cored and quartered

To make the puff: In a large mixing bowl, add the flour with a pinch of sea salt. Add the butter, and with our fingers, rub the butter into the flour. Make a well in the center of the flour, add 100ml of cold water in splashes and combine until you have a rough dough.

On a bench covered in flour, roll into to a rectangle. Fold a third of the pastry into the center, then fold the bottom third up over that. Give dough a quarter turn and roll out again. Repeat folding, rolling and turning twice more. Chill the pastry for 30 minutes.

For the tarte: Heat the oven to 190*c.

Heat an oven proof frying pan over low heat. Add the sugar and water, stirring to dissolve.

Up the heat to high and boil the syrup for 7-9 minutes, until a light golden colour, without stirring. Add the butter and stir until combined.

Take the pan from the heat and arrange the apples in the caramel, cut side facing up.

Roll out the pastry til slightly bigger than the pan. Cover the apples with the pastry and tuck in the apples, folding in the edges. Cut 3 small lines in the center of the tart.

Place the pan in the oven, and bake for 35-40 minutes until golden. Loosen the edges with a knife, place a place over the tart and turn out. Serve with cream or ice cream.