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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Love and other drugs

Here’s the thing. I absolutely understand why people aren’t into Valentine’s Day. I do. There’s pressure and expectation, and everything is expensive and I hate roses.

Going out for dinner is insane. I saw an ad for a restaurant in the city that was charging $90 a head, with a shared set entree and dessert, a main course. Not even a glass of wine. I’m sorry, you’re going to charge me $90 and I don’t even get to choose my own dessert?! Bollocks to that.

If I’m honest though, I’m a complete and utter hopeless romantic. I like the idea of celebrating love. Yes, you should do it every day, but we don’t. Life kind of gets in the way of that. So it’s nice to have a day where you go to the special effort of taking care of your loved one.

For those of you who remain footloose and fancy free, fear not. There’s Galentine’s Day. An invention of my spirit animal, Leslie Knope, you can celebrate the most important person in your life (being you, duh) with breakfast food, which, let’s be honest, is the best kind of food. Except for this cake, of course.

You can get all aphrodisiac like on V-Day, of course. But cut to the chase, no one hates chocolate, and everyone loves cake. This, I believe, is the ultimate chocolate cake. It’s not for the faint-hearted, but it is incredible.

Chocolate truffle cake with chestnut cream and ganache

From Delicious Magazine

2 cups (500ml) milk
250g unsalted butter, chopped
300g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
300ml thickened cream
3 eggs
1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped
1 3/4 cups (385g) caster sugar
2 3/4 cups (410g) plain flour
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder

Chestnut cream
50g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
300g unsweetened chestnut puree
75g softened unsalted butter, chopped
1 1/3 cups (200g) pure icing sugar, sifted

Preheat oven to 160°C. Grease and line two cake tins.

In a saucepan over medium low heat, stir together the milk, 225g butter, 200g chocolate and 125ml cream, until the chocolate melts and is combines. Leave to cool.

Beat together the eggs, vanilla and sugar in a large bowl with electric beaters until the mixture is thick and pale.

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Mix in the chocolate mixture, then add the dry ingredients and mix until combined.

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Evenly divide the batter between cake tins and bake for 45 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool in the pans for 15 minutes, then on a wire rack.

To make the chestnut cream, melt 50g of chocolate gently in the microwave or in a pan over simmering water. Remover from the heat and leave to cool slightly. In a medium bowl, beat the chestnut cream until creamy, the add the butter and icing sugar, and beat again until light and fluffy. Fold in the melted chocolate.

To make the ganache, place the 175ml of cream in a saucepan over low heat. Bring it to an almost-boil, then pour over the last 100g chocolate, and leave to melt. Add the last 25g of butter, stirring until combined and glossy. Leave to cool for 5 minutes, so it thickens a little bit.

Spread the chestnut cream over one of the cakes, leaving a little border to allow for smooshing. Place the second cake on top, then pour the ganache over the top, allowing it to artfully run down the sides. It’s rustic. go with it.

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P.S. Chestnut puree can be found at Fresh Provisions, some IGAs, and the David Jones food court in the CBD (which is where I bought mine – admittedly, it was sweetened, but still awesome).

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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Sun, sand, stings and sweets.

Australia Day for me this year was a low-key affair.
Due to the stifling week of 40*c heat; it was quite frankly too bloody hot to do just about anything.

So my friends and I packed up our stuff, and hit the beach early for a swim in the Indian Ocean.

Hitting the piping hot sand at about 9:30 in the morning, the beach was just starting to hum with activity. Families, shrieking kids, wafting bbq smells, Triple J’s Hottest 100 blasting from a dozen stereos… Just another Australia Day. Perfect.
The water was sweet relief from the already biting sun. Until we realised that the high waves were hiding many, many jellyfish.

My first jellyfish sting and the accompanying rash. Many jokes were made about the best way to treat it. If you don’t know, I don’t suggest you Google it. Shizz gets weird.

We packed a small picnic, and after coming to the conclusion that messy, sticky Pavlova and sand just doesn’t go well together, settled on crowd pleasing cookies. Because much like parfait, who doesn’t love cookies?
Triple chocolate chip never fails to win people over. The amounts are just a guideline, mix them about as you please. Like more white than dark? Ok. Want MOAR chocolately goodness? Throw in more chips.

It’s all good.

Unless you’re me, and burn yourself on the oven.

That was a particularly accident prone 24 hours for me. Owwies.

Triple Chocolate Cookies

Adapted from Slow Like Honey

225g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
Ÿ cup  granulated white sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 œ cups plain flour
Ÿ tsp baking soda/bicarb soda
⅛ tsp salt
200g dark chocolate, coarsely shopped
50g milk chocolate chips
100g white chocolate, coarsely chopped

Directions:

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.

In a large bowl, beat the butter, brown sugar, white sugar, and vanilla just until smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until thoroughly incorporated.

Stir the flour mixture into the creamed butter mixture until combined, then mix in all the chopped chocolate until just combined.

Divide the dough into quarters. Shape each quarter into a log. Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, for at least 2 hours, max of 24 hours.

Once chilled, preheat the oven to 180*C. Line two baking sheets with baking paper.

Slice the logs into disks about 1.5cm thick and place the disks a couple of centimeters apart on the baking sheets. Bake the cookies until lightly browned in the center, about ten minutes. Remove from oven and let cookies cool. Once firm enough to handle, transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

I’d normally include a photo of the finished product. Because you should know how they turn out, right?
Um… They didn’t last that long.
But imagine a beautifully browned delight of cookie and chocolate heaven. That’s totally what they looked like. *nod*

If God was a Cheesecake…

I’m sure I’ve said it before. Baked treats are all kinds of delicious and amazing.
But this. This may just be my greatest work to date. No, seriously. It’s rich, decadent, glorious-ness in cheesecake form.

I think I found my heaven…

On the first day, God created Oreos (and a cricket stump to crush them with, as he couldn’t find his rolling-pin).
On the second day, God created butter. A LOT of butter.
On the third day, God created white chocolate, and said ‘let it be melted into cream cheese’. And it was so.
On the fourth day, God created dark chocolate, and felt that it could only be improved by double cream.
On the fifth day, God created raspberry coulis, because he felt guilty, and figured including fruit made it less ‘bad’.
On the sixth day, God baked, and saw that it was good.
On the seventh day, God rested. And ate. And was pleased. Then felt a little ill.
(I’m going to hell for that. I’m ok with this.)

I’ve been obsessing over this recipe for months. I just didn’t have an event worthy of such a magnificent cheesecake. But then, along came Christmas. And well, if you can’t make something at Christmas, when can you?
This is not something to make on the day. I made it over two, to allow proper setting time. Plus, cheesecake flavours enrich and develop over time, so its best to make it the day before. Also, don’t let the size of the recipe scare you, it’s detailed so you’re more likely to get it right.

It took 6 of us to get through half, and even then, it was a struggle.
This being said, the next day my two housemates ate the second half by themselves. Though, they did feel very sick after. I did not tell them I told you so (I totally said I told you so. There’s a dance that goes with it, it’s awesome).

If you’re sugar intolerant, a diabetic, on a diet… We can’t be friends. Seriously, you can leave.
No, I kid, just give this bad boy a wide berth, nothing about this can end well for you.

White Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Cheesecake

Adapted from SweetAnnas

Ingredients:

1 package frozen raspberries
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons cornflour
1/2 cup water
25 Oreos, crushed (just shy of two packets)
1/4 cup melted butter
2 cups chopped white chocolate
1/2 cup thin cream
3 packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
150g chopped dark chocolate
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup chocolate chips or chopped dark chocolate

1. Make the raspberry sauce: Stir together the raspberries, sugar, cornflour and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, and boil 5 minutes. Pour through a fine-mesh strainer into a small bowl and store in the fridge until you are ready to make the cheesecake. (This step can be done a few days in advance to save time)

2. Make the crust: Preheat the oven to 180Âșc. Stir together the finely crushed oreos and melted butter in a medium bowl until well mixed. Press into the bottom of a Springform pan and bake for 10-15 minutes, until the crust is set. Remove from the oven, reduce the oven temperature to 160Âșc and let the crust cool while you prepare the filling.

3. Make the filling: In a medium saucepan, heat the thin cream to almost simmering. Remove from the heat and stir in the white chocolate until melted and smooth. Set aside.

4. In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, making sure to blend completely after each one. Beat in the vanilla, salt and the melted white chocolate mixture.

6. Wrap the pan with the cooled crust in it tightly with foil. Place the foil-wrapped pan in a roasting pan, and put a pot of water on the stove to boil (you will be making a water-bath for the cheesecake to bake in).

7. Pour half of the filling over the crust. Sprinkle with the chopped dark chocolate. Drizzle 4-5 tablespoons of raspberry sauce over the filling and chocolate bits and swirl with the tip of a knife. Pour the rest of the filling on top of that, drizzle with another 4-5 tablespoons of the raspberry sauce and swirl again with the knife.

8. Place the roasting pan into the oven and pour water into the roasting pan to reach about halfway up the sides of the Springform pan. Bake the cheesecake at 160Âșc for 60-70 minutes, until the center is almost set (but still jiggles if you shake the pan).

9. Remove the roasting pan from the oven, let the cheesecake sit in the hot water for another 30 minutes or so, and then remove the Springform pan from the water onto a cooling rack to cool. Let the cheesecake cool to room temperature and then place in the fridge to chill at least 3 hours.

10. Make the ganache: In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream just to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate until smooth. Pour the ganache over the top of the cooled cheesecake, smoothing with a spoon and allowing some of the ganache to drip over the sides of the cheesecake. Return to the fridge to chill an additional 3 hours or until the ganache is shiny and set.

I don’t have a nicer picture for the finished product for you, I’m sorry. We were so keen to get into it that I kind of forgot… Oopsies. But it is pretty, promise!

Christmas time calls for elves to make kitchen magic happen. Ladies and gentlemen, say hello to Nic, my taste tester, BFF extraordinaire and guinea pig. Don’t worry, she’s only friends with me because I feed her.