Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Rainy Day Double Choc Cookies {Recipe}


This week Olive and I went on an eBay road trip to pick up her 'new' tap shoes. I could have just had them posted but I had an ulterior motive.  The pick-up location, although right over the other side of town, was reasonably close to my old neighbourhood which happens to be a mecca for great food and coffee.

After picking up the tap shoes (and bonus ballet shoes the seller thoughtfully included) I was looking forward to lunch.  But as soon as I pulled out of the car park, the sky turned black and the rain started to pour.  Bugger.  I kissed my lovely lunch dreams goodbye and did what any sane parent of a three year old would do in the same situation - I headed for the nearest shopping centre with an underground car park.

Ten minutes later I was sitting in the food court eating  ricepaper rolls while Olive got Happy (I think you know what I'm talking about).  Not quite the foodie experience I'd been hoping for.

Every cloud has a silver lining and as I sat there amidst the sea of tables and chairs, I thought of a way I could redeem my afternoon.  Instead of buying an inadequate food court coffee, we jumped in the car and hurtled home to switch on the oven and coffee machine.


Within 20 minutes of walking in the door we were sitting down to still warm double choc cookies that I'd stashed in the freezer for a 'rainy day'.   Umbrellas and gumboots are entirely optional.

Recipe: Rainy Day Double Choc Cookies
Recipe from In the Kitchen (Allan Campion and Michelle Curtis) 
Makes: 40+ cookies

Ingredients
150g soft butter
150g caster sugar
100g brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
150g self raising flour
100g plain flour
50g cocoa
190g small chocolate chips (dark, white, milk or a mix - whatever you have)

Method

  • Preheat oven to 180C and line two baking sheets with baking paper.
  • Cream the butter, sugars and vanilla until light and fluffy.
  • Add the egg and beat well until combined.
  • Sift together the flours and cocoa and then stir into the mix, taking care not to over mix.  
  • Finally fold through the chocolate chips.
  • Roll level tablespoons (UK/US 15ml tablespoon) of the mixture into balls and place them evenly on the baking sheets allowing room to spread.
  • Gently flatten them with a fork or spoon. (You can flash freeze the cookies at this point to bake at another time.)
  • Bake in preheated oven for approximately 10 minutes - they should be dry on top and still slightly soft in the centre.
  • Remove from the trays from the oven and leave to cool on a cake rack.
  • Store in an airtight container.


Freezing Notes:

  • To freeze uncooked cookies, place flattened cookies onto baking paper lined tray and place it in freezer for at least 30 minutes.  Transfer frozen cookies into an airtight container and freeze up to three months. 
  • Bake straight from frozen in a 180C preheated oven for 10 minutes whenever the urge for freshly baked cookies strikes.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The best sausage rolls in the whole wide world {Recipe}


Planning a party? Don't forget the sausage rolls. Want to really impress your guests?  Make them yourself.

Appealing to young and old alike, there's something about sausage mince encased in flaky pastry that just demands bottomless bowls of tomato sauce for dunking in. Originating from the UK, sausage rolls are almost a national food here in Australia.  No celebration is complete without them.

Like most things, there are sausage rolls and then there are sausage rolls.  Most are lovely, some are terrible and some transcend into the realm of bl##dy fantastic!

A good sausage roll will get talked about.  Some people will congratulate you, some may curse you behind their paper napkins and some will beg for the recipe.


Planning ahead for Mr Di-licious' recent party, I couldn't lay my hands on my favourite sausage roll recipe (a lesson learnt - if you like a recipe, clip it or write it in your recipe notebook!) Rather than tear the house apart looking for it I thought I'd try something new.

I turned to the matriarch of Australian cooking, Margaret Fulton and quite by accident found what could be the best sausage roll recipe ever in her Encycolpedia of Food and Cookery.

It's actually an amalgamation of two of her recipes - I used the sausage filling recipe from one and baked it according to the method of another recipe.



What makes these sausage rolls taste so good?

In a nutshell, they're moist and flavoursome.  I admit I used frozen, pre-rolled pastry sheets (I can only imagine how much better they'd be if I'd used Careme puff pastry).

But there is something else that elevates these sausage rolls above all others.....a secret ingredient.

Brandy.

Its hard to describe but these sausage rolls are really nothing like you've ever tasted before.  I couldn't heat them up fast enough at the party - kids and adults alike were clamouring for more.

And they were reviewed by the most important food critic in the land - my three year old daughter, Olive.  "Mummy, these are the best sausage rolls in the whole wide world!"  (and I wouldn't want to call her a liar.)



Recipe: The Best Sausage Rolls in the Whole Wide World
Recipe adapted from Margaret Fulton's Encyclopaedia of Food and Cookery
Makes 50-60 sausage rolls depending on size.

Ingredients
2 large onions, thinly sliced
30g butter
500g sausage mince
500g pork & veal mince
2 Tblsp brandy
2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
1/2 tsp fresh sage, chopped
large pinch nutmeg
small pinch ground cloves
1//2 tsp salt
pepper
5 sheets ready rolled frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten

Method

  • In a frypan, melt butter and gently fry onion until soft but not brown.  Set aside to cool.
  • Preheat oven to 230°C
  • In a big bowl, place the cooked onion, minced meats, brandy, herbs, nutmeg, cloves, salt and pepper.  Using your hands, knead the ingredients together until well mixed through.
  • Cut each sheet of pastry in half to give 10 rectangles of pastry.
  • Divide the mixture into 10 even portions.
  • Roll each portion into a log the same length as the width of the pastry.
  • Place each roll of meat on the bottom edge of the pastry.
  • Brush along the exposed edge of pastry lightly with beaten egg and then roll up to enclose the meat.  Press to seal.
  • Cut each log into 5 or 6 pieces (according to your preference).
  • Place rolls onto tray lined with baking paper, allowing room for pastry to puff up.
  • Brush rolls lightly with beaten egg and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  • Bake in preheated, very hot oven for 10 minutes and then reduce heat to 180°C and bake for another 10 minutes.
  • Serve hot with big bowls of tomato sauce for dunking.

NB: 
If made ahead, cool rolls on a wire rack.  Freeze for up to three months.  
Reheat from frozen in a 180°C oven for 15-20 minutes or until heated through.
Reheat unfrozen rolls in a 180°C oven for 5-8 minutes or until heated through.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The country music cake



I've been missing in action.  The winter school holidays started and all of a sudden I found myself out of the house for two weeks. Away with girlfriends, staying with family, away from my laptop and reliable internet and out of mobile phone range.

Excuses, excuses! In my rush to go gallivanting around the countryside, I forgot to show off the third birthday cake I made for Mr Di-licious - the Country Music cake!


It's true Mr Di-licious loves both kinds of music as well as Earl Grey Tea and chocolate - so this cake for his party at home with a few friends was the perfect opportunity for me to have a little fun at his expense.

This chocolate cake (using my favourite chocolate party cake recipe) is filled with salted dulce de leche and covered in dark chocolate ganache.

The blue base tile, numbers and 'wooden paling' letters are made out of fondant.  The letters are hand cut and textured with a leaf veiner. I used biscuit cutters to cut out the numbers and impaled them onto toothpicks.

The cup I bought online on a whim less than two weeks before the party to create the ultimate country music fan dedication.  I had racked my brains for how I could convey his passion for country music that wasn't a cowboy hat, guitar or cowboy boots. I had to pay the express courier surcharge to get it delivered in time for the party (yikes) but the grin on Mr Di-licious' face was worth every cent.

The cup is actually filled with a couple of sticky date puddings that I had stashed in the fridge and two Earl Grey teabags.  I topped the cup up with some leftover Earl Grey chocolate ganache and sprinkled over Earl Grey praline.


From a design point of view this is a pretty simple cake.  What made it so successful was that it personified the birthday boy's interests with a little bit of humour.  (It also tasted di-licious!)

And now that the balloons have come down and the embarrassing photo board has been packed away, the mug is a lasting reminder of the party he had for his 40th and a reminder of the only time he was ever able to play country music all night without his friends complaining.

PS - if you missed the first two cakes, here they are:
A very special birthday
The Earl of chocolate cake

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Crunchy topped pear muffins


Dear Muffin,

Oh how you must hate me for neglecting you so!

I admit I was distracted by the winsome charms of the seductive cupcake and had almost forgotten all about you. Almost.

If it were not for Bill Granger's cheeky smile leaping out at me from the pages of his Holiday cookbook, I might never have tasted your beautiful pear chunks and crunchy pecan crumble topping.

Can you ever forgive me?

Di x


Recipe: Crunchy-Top Pear Muffins
Recipe by Bill Granger, Holiday (2007)
Makes 6 large or 12+ regular muffins

Ingredients
1 cup plain flour
1/2 cup wholemeal plain flour
3 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 cup low fat plain/greek yoghurt
1/2 cup grapeseed oil
1 pear, peeled and diced

Crumble
40g pecan nuts, finely chopped
1/4 cup brown sugar

Method
  • Preheat oven to 180C.  Line muffin tray with paper cases.
  • Sift the flours, baking powder and cinnamon into a large bowl.  Add the oats and sugar.  Stir to combine and make a well.
  • Whisk together the eggs, yoghurt and oil.  Pour into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
  • Fold through the pear (just don't overmix).
  • Spoon into muffin cases.
  • To make the crumble topping, mix the pecans and brown sugar.  Sprinkle over the top of muffins.
  • Bake muffins for 20-25 minutes til golden.


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Triple chocolate party cake {Recipe}


We’re celebrating one year of Di-licious Cupcakes and now it’s time for me to give you your present – my Triple Chocolate Party Cake recipe.

This sweet, moist chocolate cake is the perfect base for a large celebration cake, cupcakes or as this simply elegant cake with cream and ganache.  It’s truly a cake for every celebration.

A hint of coffee helps to temper the sweetness of the cake and lets the chocolate flavour shine.  The semi-sweet chocolate cream and chocolate ganache makes it a show stopper (just don’t tell anyone how easy it was to make!)

The cake is also perfectly happy to be baked ahead of time and frozen.  In fact it’s better if you do; it’s easier to trim and tort the cake when it’s still semi-frozen.  Likewise you can make the ganache ahead of time to make decorating a breeze.

Could this be the world’s best chocolate cake? 

Recipe: Triple Chocolate Party Cake
Serves 4-6  Recipe adapted from Donna Hay 
Recipe makes one 6inch or 7inch cake or single 9inch layer.  Double the recipe to make an 11inch square layer or 12 cupcakes.

Ingredients
½ cup of water
2 Tbls baking cocoa, sifted
1 Tbls instant coffee
60g butter, chopped
1cups plain flour, sifted
½ tsp bicarbonate soda, sifted
1 cups caster sugar
1 pinch salt
1 egg, at room temperature
¼ cup buttermilk, at room temperature
½ tsp vanilla extract

Chocolate ganache
200g dark chocolate
100ml cooking cream

Chocolate cream (makes more than you’ll need but is fabulous with hot chocolate)
300ml cream
1 Tblsp baking cocoa, sifted
1 Tblsp drinking chocolate, sifted

Equipment
6inch or 7inch round baking pan
2 x cooling racks
2 x tea-towels
Palette knife

Method
For the cake

  • Put the water, cocoa, coffee and butter into a small saucepan.  Gently heat over a low heat, stirring until the butter melts.  Take off the heat and allow to cool.
  • Preheat your oven to 160°C (no fan).  Grease and line base and sides of a 6inch round pan with baking paper. 
  • Sift together the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt into mixer bowl.  Stir in the caster sugar and make sure everything is well distributed.
  • In a separate large jug, lightly whisk together the buttermilk, egg and vanilla extract.
  • With the whisk attachment in place, turn your mixer on to low speed and slowly pour in the cocoa/butter mixture.  Scrape down the sides and then increase speed to medium so that it is completely mixed in. 
  • Reduce speed to low and slowly whisk in the buttermilk mixture. Use your scraper to make sure the egg mixture is completely incorporated.
  • Pour mixture into the lined cake pan and bake on low shelf in oven for approx 60mins or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.  (Every oven is different so don’t be concerned it cooks in less or considerably more time – let the skewer tell you when it’s done.)*
  • When cooked, remove the tin from the oven and place it on a cooling rack to cool for approx 10minutes. Get another coolin rack and two clean tea-towels ready.
  • Line the second cooling rack with a folded tea-towel and invert onto top of the tin.  Holding each side of the tin/rack sandwich, lift and carefully flip the cooked cake onto the lined rack. Remove the tin and cover base of cake with spare tea-towel and rack. Flip the cake again so that the baking paper covered base of the cake is cushioned by the tea towel and allow to cool completely.  The tea-towel helps prevent rack lines marking the base of the cake.
  • If freezing the cake, wrap in 4-5 layers of cling wrap, label and freeze.


For the ganache

  • Place chocolate in big bowl (metal is good – it helps hasten the process).
  • Heat cream in a small saucepan and bring it to the boil – this is referred to as scalding the milk.  Take off heat straight away and pour over the chocolate.  Using a whisk, stir cream into the chocolate and keep stirring until the chocolate melts and becomes glossy and smooth.
  • Transfer to a microwave safe container and allow to cool completely. Store in the fridge if not using straight away.  Ganache can also be frozen for up to three months.  Wrap container in cling wrap to be sure of airtight seal and label.


For the chocolate cream

  • Place cream, cocoa and drinking chocolate into bowl of your stand mixer with whisk attached and start whipping on medium speed. Keep an eye on it (I accidently made chocolate butter one day when I got distracted- oops).
  • Whip cream til it is thick.  Transfer to an airtight container and store in fridge if not using straight away. 


Assembling the cake

  • Trim top of cake and then split into two layers.
  • Place bottom layer onto cake plate or stand. 
  • Dollop a generous amount of chocolate cream into centre of the cake and gradually spread out, not quite to the edge of the cake (when you put the top layer on the weight will squeeze out cream to the edge).
  • Cover with remaining cake layer and using both hands, gently press down to make sure the top layer is level.
  • Gently heat the ganache in microwave (50% power for 10 seconds) til it becomes spreadable.  If you melt it too much, just make a cup of tea and let it thicken up a little while you take a break.
  • Spoon some ganache into centre of cake and spread it out slowly, almost to the edge.  Do this a couple of times and make swirl marks with your palette knife.  Allow to set.  Voila!
  • Store cake in fridge and allow to come to room temperature before serving.  (This will ensure your ganache is glossy.)

*Additional baking times
For cupcakes, bake approx 24 minutes
For 9inch round layer, bake approx 50 minutes
For 11inch square layer, bake approx 45 minutes
For double quantity batter in 9inch round pan, bake approx 75 minutes



Di-licious!