Tag Archives: chocolate: dark

Chocolate Cheesecake Brownies

24 Aug

Everything’s been a little bit stressful and crazy lately. The Husband has been working especially hard and has been completely exhausted, so I thought I’d bake him a little something to cheer him up.

These are a complete comfort food: dense, rich chocolate brownies studded with milk chocolate chunks and marbled with swirls of velvety cream cheese. It’s like two desserts in one! Try to resist. Seriously.

The basic brownie recipe comes from Marian Keyes’ wonderful Saved By Cake cookbook, which I’ve altered to add the milk chocolate chunks and cream cheese swirls.

CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE BROWNIES

225g dark chocolate (70%)

225g butter

2 eggs

2 egg yolks

100g brown sugar

100g caster sugar

170g plain flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

pinch of salt

100g milk chocolate

For the cheesecake swirl:

200g cream cheese

2 tablespoons caster sugar

1 egg

1. Grease and line a square cake tin and set aside, then preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius (that’s 325 degrees Fahrenheit or Gas Mark 3).

2. Break the dark chocolate into pieces and melt with the butter, either in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of water or in the microwave, until all the lumps are gone and the mixture is smooth and silky. If microwaving, do so in thirty second blasts, stirring between each zap in the microwave.

3. In a large mixing bowl, beat the 2 eggs, both the egg yolks, the caster sugar and the brown sugar with a stand mixer or handheld beaters until the mixture becomes thick and is the colour of light toffee.

4. Pour the melted chocolate mixture into the egg mixture, and gently fold together to avoid the mixture congealing.

5. Sieve together the flour, baking powder and salt and fold into the chocolate mixture.

6. Break up the milk chocolate into pieces/chunks and gently fold into the brownie mixture.

7. To make the cheesecake mixture, beat together the cream cheese, caster sugar and the egg with electric beaters or a stand mixer in a new bowl for 1 -2 minutes until thick and creamy.

8. Pour half of the brownie mixture into the prepared tin.

9. Dollop spoonfuls of the cream cheese mixture over the brownie batter.

10. Pour the remaining brownie batter over the cream cheese dollops.

11. Spoon more of the cheesecake mixture over the top of the brownie batter in large dollops and marble using a flat bladed knife.

12. Bake for 28 -30 minutes, until the cream cheese swirls have started to firm up. Allow to cool in the tin for approximately 2 hours before turning out the brownie and cutting it into squares.

Store in an airtight container – though I have to say, I don’t think these will be sticking around for long!

As a side note, this post is also dedicated to my wonderful friends Tarryn and Pete, who are celebrating the safe arrival of their first child, a beautiful boy named Percy. Congratulations guys! Sending lots of love and hugs across the seas to you and the bubba! ❤

You can view Tarryn’s lovely blog Butter & Buntings here.

Enjoy! xx

Chocolate and Raspberry Brownies

25 Apr

I know that I’ve used raspberries in a ridiculous amount of recipes over the past few months, but after seeing the latest cover of BBC Good Food magazine, I couldn’t resist this one …

I seriously couldn’t pass them up.

…except, well, I’m too cheap/forgetful to actually buy the magazine to use the recipe (whoops!). So, I ended up adapting a recipe in Marian Keyes’ Saved by Cake cookbook, which I hadn’t had a chance to use yet.

And let me tell you, these are gorgeous. Moist, chocolatey goodness with just the right amount of gooeyness-to-cakeyness ratio and a tart, raspberry tang to balance it all out. I don’t know what it is about them, but these brownies are that little bit more grown up than the originals…maybe it’s the addition of one of your five fruits a day which make them more justifiable? Whatever it is, you need these in your life. Immediately.

So, without further ado (I mean, y0ur taste buds must be quivering in excitement. It’d be positively offensive for me to make them wait!), I give you…

CHOCOLATE & RASPBERRY BROWNIES

200g dark chocolate, roughly chopped

225g butter

2 eggs

2 egg yolks

200g soft brown sugar

170g plain flour

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

pinch of salt

150g raspberries

MAKES APPROX. 16

1. Heavily grease and/or line a 20cm (8in) square cake tin (I couldn’t find a square one in the cupboard, so I had to settle for a round one…you can do this if you have to!) and preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius (that’s 325 Fahrenheit or Gas Mark 3).

2. Melt the chocolate and butter together, either using the microwave (heating in 30 second blocks and stirring between each block of time) or in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. It should be lovely, smooth and glossy once it’s melted.

3. In  a large mixing bowl, beat together the eggs, egg yolks and brown sugar until they come together and the mixture is golden brown.

4. Now add the melted chocolate to the egg and sugar mixture, stirring gently until combined.

5. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking powder and then pour into the chocolate mixture.

6. Gently fold the flour into the chocolate until just combined, making sure that there are no flour pockets hiding in the mixture.

7. Add the raspberries and fold them very gently through the brownie mixture and pour the mixture into the tin.

8. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, then remove the tin from the oven and place it on a wire rack to cool for an hour or two before turning the brownies out onto a board. I cut the edges off mine to square it out into a normal brownie shape.

Enjoy! x

Hot Cross Buns – Traditional and Chocolate!

6 Apr

One of the best things about working in the education system is getting time off work during the school holidays. And time off work means one thing: lots of time for baking. Winner!

With Easter coming up this weekend, I had the perfect excuse to fire up the oven. Who doesn’t love hot cross buns, really? Even if you don’t like the traditional fruit version (although I find this mind boggling, they’re too delicious to pass up!), I’ve got a decadent chocolate variety which seems to be a crowd pleaser for adults and children alike. I realise that hot cross buns aren’t a Good Friday staple everywhere, so if you’re from a country that has sadly deprived you of this Eastery goodness, then I highly recommend you give them a go. Your taste buds will thank you on bended knee!

Don’t be too nervous about the whole yeast/dough/rising/time consuming fiasco, either. These really are incredibly simple to make; time consuming, yes, but ridiculously easy and so worth your patience.

Let’s kick off with a bit of tradition…

HOT CROSS BUNS

4 1/3 cups strong bread flour (or plain flour, if you can’t find this)

2 x 7g sachets dried yeast

1/4 cup caster sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

pinch of salt

1 1/2 cups mixed dried fruit of your choice (I went with sultanas, currants, raisins and citrus peel)

Zest and juice of 1 orange

40g butter

300ml milk

2 eggs, lightly beaten

Extra flour, if necessary

FLOUR PASTE

½ cup flour

5 tablespoons water

GLAZE

2 tablespoons apricot jam

MAKES 12 BUNS

Combine the flour, yeast, sugar, spices, and salt in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, combine the dried fruit with the zest and juice of the orange.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat and add the milk, heating for about  a minute, until lukewarm. Add the warm milk mixture, fruit mixture and eggs to the flour. Using a low speed and paddle attachment on your stand mixer  (or a flat bladed knife if you’re working by hand) mix until the dough starts to come together.


Switch to a dough hook attachment and set on low speed for 5 – 7 minutes, or use clean hands to finish mixing to form a soft dough and then knead on a floured board for ten minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Add extra flour, a tablespoon at a time, if the dough is too runny/too sticky.

Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap.

Set aside in a warm, draught-free place for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until dough doubles in size.

Line a large, deep roasting dish with foil or baking paper and set aside. Punch the dough down using your fists to its original size, then knead on a lightly floured surface until smooth.

Cut the dough in half, then roll each half into a long, smooth log and cut the logs into six even sized pieces.

Shape each piece into a ball and roll round in your hands to smooth them. Place the balls into the lined dish, about 1cm apart.

Cover the dish with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm, draught-free place for 30 minutes, or until buns double in size. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius (that’s 375 degrees Fahrenheit or Gas Mark 5).

Now make the flour paste for the crosses. Mix the flour and water together in a small bowl until smooth, adding a bit of extra water if paste is too thick. Place the mixture into a piping bag and pipe the flour paste over tops of buns to form crosses.

Bake the buns for 20 to 25 minutes, or until they are cooked through and golden.

Finally, make the glaze. Place 2 tablespoons of apricot jam in a bowl and microwave on high for 1 minute, until melted. Brush the melted jam over the warm hot cross buns as soon as they’re out of the oven. Serve the buns warm or at room temperature – preferably with lashings of butter, either way – and enjoy!

And now, just in case you’re not getting enough chocolate already over Easter, let’s crack on with a new take on the old classic. This recipe is an adaptation of the one listed above, so I’ve skipped several photos in the step-by-steps (what’s the point of repeating them?). I had no idea that these aren’t widespread in England; back in Australia (at least, the part that I’m from) chocolate chip hot cross buns are almost as prevalent as the traditional variety. If you’ve never tried one, they make a delicious and gorgeously indulgent treat. I mean, really. It’s Easter. The more chocolate, the merrier!

TRIPLE CHOCOLATE HOT CROSS BUNS

4 cups strong bread flour (or plain flour, if you can’t find this)

1/3 cup cocoa powder

2 x 7g sachets dried yeast

1/4 cup caster sugar

1 teaspoons ground cinnamon

pinch of salt

1 1/2 cups chocolate chips (I used white and dark varieties)

150g dark chocolate, roughly chopped

40g butter

300ml milk

2 eggs, lightly beaten

Extra flour, if necessary

FLOUR PASTE

½ cup flour

5 tablespoons water

GLAZE

1/3 cup water

3 tablespoons caster sugar

MAKES 12 BUNS

Combine the flour, yeast, sugar, cinnamon, salt and chocolate chips in a large bowl.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat and add the milk, heating for about  a minute, until lukewarm. Add the warm milk mixture, fruit mixture and eggs to the flour. Using a low speed and paddle attachment on your stand mixer  (or a flat bladed knife if you’re working by hand) mix until the dough starts to come together.

Switch to a dough hook attachment and set on low speed for 5 – 7 minutes, or use clean hands to finish mixing to form a soft dough and then knead on a floured board for ten minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Add extra flour, a tablespoon at a time, if the dough is too runny/too sticky. In the last minute or so of kneading, add the chopped chocolate pieces to the dough.

Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap.

Set aside in a warm, draught-free place for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until dough doubles in size.

Line a large, deep roasting dish with foil or baking paper and set aside. Punch the dough down using your fists to its original size, then knead on a lightly floured surface until smooth.

Cut the dough in half, then roll each half into a long, smooth log and cut the logs into six even sized pieces.

Shape each piece into a ball and roll round in your hands to smooth them. Place the balls into the lined dish, about 1cm apart.

Cover the dish with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm, draught-free place for 30 minutes, or until buns double in size. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius (that’s 375 degrees Fahrenheit or Gas Mark 5).

Now make the flour paste for the crosses. Mix the flour and water together in a small bowl until smooth, adding a bit of extra water if paste is too thick. Place the mixture into a piping bag and pipe the flour paste over tops of buns to form crosses.

Bake the buns for 20 to 25 minutes, or until they are cooked through.

Finally, make the glaze. Place the water and sugar into a small saucepan and heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil and allow to boil for five minutes. Brush the warm glaze over the hot cross buns once they’re out of the oven.

Serve the buns warm or at room temperature – preferably with lashings of butter, either way – and enjoy!

Happy Easter – however you celebrate, wherever you are and whatever you believe. x

The Ultimate, Award Winning(!) Chocolate Raspberry Cake

17 Mar

It’s been a good week.

Reason One: Remember those job interviews I mentioned? I went to the first one, and I GOT IT. Huzzah! This is an excellent thing; jobs mean a reason to get up in the morning and, of course, money. And money equals the ability to finally start planning for The Husband and I to move into our own place. Oh, yes!

Reason Two: Do you also remember that I told you I’d ordered the new cookbook by the amazing Marian Keyes? It arrived, and it’s AMAZING. There are so many things in there that I’m desperate to try. I honestly can’t wait to have an excuse to get baking! Seriously, get your hands on this if you can. Not only is it a treasure trove of awesome recipes, but it’s also scattered with honest, witty, hilarious, devastating and heartbreaking insights into her battle with depression. As someone who has had to deal with and continues to deal with similar, though markedly milder, mental health issues, I cannot recommend this enough to everyone.

Reason Three: Finally, do you remember me saying that I had another reason to bake last week? Well, here it is. I entered a cake baking competition. Not something I’ve ever done or even considered doing before, but it all went fantastically well. My friend Jo and I discovered that Bodiam Castle, which is only about 1.5 hours away from where we live, was holding the competition. We’re both not-so-secret history geeks, so this seemed like the perfect excuse to drive out there – bake a cake, drop it off, fill in an entry form and then wander around the castle for the rest of the afternoon. Perfection!

What I WASN’T expecting was to win. YES, WIN. Me. I pretty much never win anything, so it came as a huge shock to me!

I’ll apologise in advance for the state of my photography in this entry; it was all a bit rushed and pictures were being snapped as I flung myself around the kitchen in a desperate bid to assemble the cake before we had to leave.

THE ULTIMATE, AWARD WINNING(!) CHOCOLATE RASPBERRY CAKE

For the cake:

400g dark chocolate

400g butter

2 tbsp instant coffee

170g self raising flour

170g plain flour

1⁄2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

400g dark brown sugar

400g castor sugar

60g cocoa powder

6 medium eggs

170ml sour cream

250g raspberries

curled/shaved/grated white chocolate, to decorate

curled/shaved/grated dark chocolate, to decorate

For the ganache:

230g dark chocolate

260ml double pouring cream

2 tbsp castor sugar

Grease and line two 10 inch cake tins and preheat the oven to 140 degrees Celsius (fan oven) or 160 degrees Celsius (conventional oven) (280 degrees Fahrenheit or Gas Mark 2). Meanwhile, break up the dark chocolate into pieces and place in a large, heavy-based saucepan. Cut the butter into pieces and add to the broken up chocolate, then mix the coffee into 250ml of cold water and add to the saucepan. Heat over a low heat until everything is just melted, stirring occasionally to help combine.

In a large mixing bowl, mix together the self-raising flour, plain flour, bicarbonate of soda, brown sugar, castor sugar and cocoa powder, combining with your hands to remove all the lumps. In another small bowl, whisk together the eggs and the sour cream.

Pour the melted chocolate mixture and the whisked egg and sour cream into the flour mixture, stirring well to combine. The batter should have quite a smooth, runny consistency. Divide the mixture evenly and pour into the two tins, then bake for 85 minutes – 90 minutes, until the top of the cakes are firm and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave the cakes to cool in the tins for 10 – 15 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

While the cakes are cooling, make the ganache. Break the dark chocolate into small pieces and place in a heatproof bowl. Pour the cream into a saucepan, add the castor sugar, and heat on medium heat until just before it boils. Take the cream off the heat and pour it over the chocolate, leaving it to stand for 1 minute. Stir until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth.

Now, assemble the cake. Place one of the cakes on a serving platter and spread one quarter – one third of the ganache over the top, leaving a narrow gap around the perimeter of the cake.

Arrange two thirds of the raspberries over the ganache in a circular pattern, placing them around the outer edge of the cake and working your way in, making smaller and smaller circles of raspberries until you reach the centre of the cake.

Drizzle 2 – 3 tablespoons of ganache lightly over the raspberries.

Next, place 3 heaped tablespoons of ganache on the other cake (on the side which is going to be sandwiched onto the bottom layer) and spread it so that it lightly covers the surface, once again leaving a gap around the perimeter.

Place this cake on top of the first, ganache side down, and press down very gently to sandwich together.

Pour the rest of the ganache over the cake, pushing it towards the edges with the back of a metal spoon and letting it fall down the sides of the cake.

Decorate with grated/curled/shaved dark and white chocolate and top with remaining raspberries in the centre.

That’s it!

After the super quick cake assembly, Jo, The Husband and I all bundled into the car and headed for Bodiam. After a fun filled drive getting completely and utterly lost down the narrow, winding country lanes and wasting a good hour trying to find our way back to the main road, we arrived – cake miraculously intact!

And here’s my trophy!

A big thank you and congratulations goes out to designated driver and fellow competitor Jo, whose cake made it into the final seven!

xxx

Chocolate Orange Cupcakes

8 Feb

It feels like ages since I last posted, but it’s actually only been two and a half weeks. Weird! You may notice that Cloudberry Dreams has had a bit of an image overhaul – it’s still a work in progress, but I’m definitely a little happier with the current header than I was before.

The Husband and I are in England (we arrived on the 26th Jan) and we’re still adjusting, really. It’s all been pretty full on; I study at university via correspondence (my uni is in Sydney) and I had an essay due this past Friday, so that added a bit of extra stress onto all the joys that moving (including the inevitable, scary and endless job-hunting) brings.

I’ve honestly been feeling so stressed and unsettled that I pretty much hit breaking point on the weekend and I thought, ‘I need to bake. I needneedNEED to bake,’ as baking really is one of the only things that I find to be theraputic when I’m stressy and anxious (oh, along with watching trashy TV. I’ve watched 15 episodes of The Only Way Is Essex over the last two nights alone. Don’t judge.), so I just needed to find an excuse to do so. I mean, let’s face it – when I’m sitting around all day, cruising job websites (why does that sound vaguely creepy?), the last thing I need is an entire batch of cupcakes at my disposal. Hello, weight gain!

And so, my friend/ex-housemate-from-long-ago, Jo, became the willing victim of my baking extravaganza. She’d mentioned months ago that she wanted to try my choc-mint cupcakes (she’s a choc-mint fiend), which suited me perfectly…except, her boyfriend is not a choc-mint kinda guy. Problem. Her boyfriend is, however, a choc-orange kinda guy.

Solution: make both kinds of cupcakes. Done and done.

The only hitch is that I’ve never made choc-orange anything, so I wasn’t entirely sure how I was going to make it work. In the end, I decided to go the relatively safe route and follow my choc-mint recipe, but modify it along the way. I was pretty pleased with the end result, in all honesty. Think Terry’s Chocolate Orange/Jaffas, and you’ve basically hit the flavour nail on the head. The cupcakes themselves are lovely and moist, the ganache centre is oozy and packed with rich chocolate and orange, and the buttercream is silky and packed with chocolate-orangey deliciousness with real flecks of orange zest. Yum!

If you’re liking the sound of the choc-mint originals, head over here. If you’re more interested in the choc-orange variety, please excuse the terrible photos. I didn’t pay any attention to the weather today until I started baking, and then I realised: England in February isn’t exactly an ideal place to be attempting food photography. Lack of natural light = dodgy photos. Boo, hiss!

CHOC-ORANGE CUPCAKES

CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES

(The same base recipe as the choc-mint variation)

3 cups plain flour

2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons instant coffee granules

1 cup hot water

1 cup cocoa

1 cup cold water

200g softened butter

2 ½ cups castor sugar

4 eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

50 mL orange juice (used after cooking)

Preheat your oven to 170 degrees celsius (that’s 340 degrees fahrenheit or Gas Mark 3 -4 for all you international folk!). Line two 12-hole cupcake/muffin trays with 24 cupcake papers.

Sift flour, bicarb soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl and set aside. Then place coffee granules, hot water and cocoa into a separate bowl and whisk until well combined. Once the mixture has become a smooth paste, add in the cold water and mix until well combined.

Using the bowl from your electric stand mixer (or using a separate bowl if using a hand held mixture), cream the butter for at LEAST 2 minutes on medium-high speed. Once the butter has become creamy and light in colour, begin to add the castor sugar 1/3 at a time, beating for 2-3 minutes between each addition. After adding the final third of sugar, beat the mixture until it is light and fluffy and most of the sugar has dissolved. Add eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition to combine. Then add the vanilla extract and mix well.

Add a quarter of the sifted flour into the creamed butter mixture and beat on the lowest speed setting to combine. Add a third of the cocoa mixture and beat in. Continue this process, alternating between the flour and cocoa mixtures, making sure that the flour is the final addition. Beat the mixture on low until thoroughly combined, while being careful not to overbeat – it’ll make the finished cupcakes tough and heavy!

Spoon the mixture into the cupcake papers, filling the papers 2/3 full (this mixture rises quite a lot!). Bake for 20 minutes (though I’d recommend checking on them after 15 if your oven runs hot like mine does!). Cupcakes are done when a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Once cupcakes have cooled slightly, take a skewer and pierce holes in the top of each cupcake, being careful not to push through the bottom.

Carefully spoon 1/2 – 1 teaspoon of orange juice over each cupcake, allowing the juice to soak into the skewer holes. This will keep the cupcakes moist and add some extra orangey goodness. Winner!

CHOC-ORANGE GANACHE FILLING

3/4 cup heavy cream

200g dark cooking chocolate, chopped

50g butter, cubed

Zest of 2 oranges

Juice of 1 orange

Place butter and chocolate into a bowl and set aside.

Pour cream into a heavy bottomed saucepan and bring to the boil, allowing it to boil for 30 seconds before removing from heat.

Pour hot cream over the chocolate and butter and leave to sit for 1 minute. Slowly stir the ganache until the chocolate and butter are fully melted and the cream is well combined. Once ganache is smooth and silky, add orange zest and slowly add the juice, stirring gently to combine.

If the ganache becomes quite runny after adding the orange juice, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes to thicken.

CHOC-ORANGE BUTTERCREAM

120 g dark chocolate

70 g salted butter

2 cups icing sugar

Zest of 1 orange

1 – 2 teaspoons orange extract

Using either a double boiler or a microwave, gently melt the cubed chocolate until smooth and silky. Once fully melted, set it aside and allow it to come to room temperature.

In a separate bowl, cream the butter using an electric mixer on high speed for 1 – 2 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the orange zest and extract and beat again for 1 minute.

Pour in the cooled melted chocolate and beat again for 2 minutes until fluffy.

Add the sifted icing sugar, 1/3 at a time, beating well between each addition.

Once the cupcakes are at room temperature and you’ve skewered them and poured over the orange juice, take a small paring knife and cut a cone shape out of the centre of each cupcake. Fill the hole in the cupcake with the choc-orange ganache and cut off the end of the cone so that you’re left with a flat lid shape. Place the lid back on the cupcake to cover the ganache, and repeat this process until each cupcake has been filled.

Frost the filled cupcakes with the Choc-Orange Buttercream (I used a large open star piping tip).

Enjoy!

As a side note, today was the first time I’ve ever packaged up my cupcakes (or any other baked good, for that matter!) before giving them to someone. I have vague dreams about one day turning baking into a bit of a business, so it was fun playing pretend bakery today. I bought a cupcake box and did a quick, basic tag design on photoshop (nothing fancy, I don’t pretend to be any good at photoshopping!):

but I’m pretty pleased with the overall result. Jo was also suitably impressed, so that’s a plus! I felt so…I don’t know…professional, carrying my little wrapped box of baked goods around. It was fun!

Triple Choc-Chip & Peanut Cookies

18 Nov

My husband and I are still house sitting for my dad, which means that I have plenty of time to bake at any time of the day or night – bliss! (Hey, it’s the small things…). Woo hoo!

Today has been the first semi-hot day of the season – only about 35 degrees Celsius (or 93 Fahrenheit), but you know how that first hot day in late spring pretty much knocks you for six? Well, that’s what today has been like, so cranking up the temperature on the oven probably wasn’t the best idea when it came to keeping the house cool…but we did end up with a nice big batch of cookies, so it was worth the added heat!

This is actually the first time in years that I’ve deviated even slightly from my usual choc-chip cookie recipe, but I couldn’t help it. My dad has a massive container full of peanuts in the cupboard, and they’ve been calling to me. So, here we are:  Triple Choc-Chip & Peanut Cookies!

I know that you probably have a favourite choc-chip cookie recipe which you’re reluctant to part with, but if you want a bit of a change, give this one a go. They’ve already been given the thumbs up from The Official Taste Tester (AKA my husband), and I’m quite pleased with them overall. I wouldn’t make the peanut addition a permanent feature, but it’s really wonderful when you’re looking for a tasty change.

I’m actually not 100% sure where the basic recipe came from originally. It’s written on an ingredient-stained, crumpled scrap of paper that has been sitting in my mum’s recipe folder for as long as I can remember…so credit goes to her on this one!

TRIPLE CHOC-CHIP & PEANUT COOKIES

150g unsalted butter, softened

1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

A pinch of cinnamon

1 egg

1 3/4 cups plain flour, sifted

1/3 cup white chocolate chips

1/2 cup milk chocolate chips

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

1/2 cup salted peanuts, roughly chopped

1 – 3 tablespoons milk (optional)

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius (325 Fahrenheit or Gas Mark 3) and line 3 baking trays with greaseproof baking paper.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar for 2 – 3 minutes until light and creamy. Add the vanilla extract and the egg and beat well. Sprinkle in a pinch of cinnamon and mix to combine.

Add the plain flour and mix gently until just combined. Pour chocolate chips and peanuts over the dough and fold through.

If your dough is too thick add some milk, a tablespoon at a time, until the dough becomes soft and slightly sticky. Spoon heaped tablespoons of mixture onto the baking trays, pressing each cookie down lightly with your fingertips to flatten.

Bake for 8 – 10 minutes if you like soft-centred cookies, or bake for 10 – 13 minutes if you like your cookies to have more of a crunch. Cookies should be lightly browned when cooked.

Leave to cool on the baking tray for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire cooling rack and allow to cool to room temperature.

Enjoy!

Choc-Mint Cupcakes

4 Nov

Tomorrow it’s going to be 30 degrees celsius (which, incidentally, is just about as hot as I can handle it before I start dying of heat exhaustion. I really shouldn’t be an Australian) and to celebrate the real start of summer, my friend Lauren is having a barbeque. Cupcakes aren’t exactly typical barbeque food, but…well, screw it. Any excuse to bake and I’m there!

I decided to go with a combination I haven’t tried in cupcake form before – Mint Chocolate. It’s been given the thumbs up from my husband (who has already devoured several of the finished cupcakes this evening), and I must say that I’m pretty pleased with the outcome – the cupcakes are lovely and fluffy, the ganache filling is gloriously gooey and the frosting has just the right amount of minty-ness. It’s pretty much like a Mint Slice/Aero/After Eight/Any other choc-mint flavoured treat you can think of in cupcake form. What are you waiting for?

CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES

3 cups plain flour

2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons instant coffee granules

1 cup hot water

1 cup cocoa

1 cup cold water

200g softened butter

2 ½ cups castor sugar

4 eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 170 degrees celsius (that’s 340 degrees fahrenheit or Gas Mark 3 -4 for all you international folk!). Line two 12-hole cupcake/muffin trays with 24 cupcake papers.

Sift flour, bicarb soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl and set aside. Then place coffee granules, hot water and cocoa into a separate bowl and whisk until well combined. Once the mixture has become a smooth paste, add in the cold water and mix until well combined.

Using the bowl from your electric stand mixer (or using a separate bowl if using a hand held mixture), cream the butter for at LEAST 2 minutes on medium-high speed. Once the butter has become creamy and light in colour, begin to add the castor sugar 1/3 at a time, beating for 2-3 minutes between each addition. After adding the final third of sugar, beat the mixture until it is light and fluffy and most of the sugar has dissolved. Add eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition to combine. Then add the vanilla extract and mix well.

Add a quarter of the sifted flour into the creamed butter mixture and beat on the lowest speed setting to combine. Add a third of the cocoa mixture and beat in. Continue this process, alternating between the flour and cocoa mixtures, making sure that the flour is the final addition. Beat the mixture on low until thoroughly combined, while being careful not to overbeat – it’ll make the finished cupcakes tough and heavy!

Spoon the mixture into the cupcake papers, filling the papers 2/3 full (this mixture rises quite a lot!). Bake for 20 minutes (though I’d recommend checking on them after 15 if your oven runs hot like mine does!). Cupcakes are done when a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

CHOC-MINT GANACHE FILLING

3/4 cup heavy cream

200g dark cooking chocolate, chopped

50g butter, cubed

2 tablespoons peppermint essence

Place butter and chocolate into a bowl and set aside.

Pour cream into a heavy bottomed saucepan and bring to the boil, allowing it to boil for 30 seconds before removing from heat.

Pour hot cream over the chocolate and butter and leave to sit for 1 minute. Slowly stir the ganache until the chocolate and butter are fully melted and the cream is well combined. Once ganache is smooth and silky, add peppermint essence and stir gently to combine.

MINTY BUTTERCREAM FROSTING

200g salted butter, softened (yes, salted– it helps stop the frosting from becoming too sickly sweet)

8 cups icing sugar, sifted

1/2 cup milk

1 ½ tablespoons peppermint essence

2 -3 drops green food colouring

Cream the butter using an electric mixer for 2-3 minutes until light in colour. Add the milk, peppermint essence and half of the sifted icing sugar and beat for 3-4 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the rest of the icing sugar and beat for another 3 minutes until light and fluffy and spreadable in consistency.

Add the food colouring a drop at a time and beat well until your desired shade of green is reached.

Allow cupcakes to cool to room temperature before taking a small paring knife and cutting a cone shape out of the centre of each cupcake. Fill the hole in the cupcake with the choc-mint ganache and cut off the end of the cone so that you’re left with a flat lid shape. Place the lid back on the cupcake to cover the ganache, and repeat this process until each cupcake has been filled.

Frost the filled cupcakes with the Minty Buttercream (I used a large open star piping tip) and sprinkle with grated dark chocolate.

Makes 24 large cupcakes.

Enjoy! (:

Inspiration came from the wonderful Annie’s Eats, and the cupcake and modified frosting recipe is from The Crabapple Bakery Cupcake Cookbook.