Tag Archives: white chocolate

Zucchini Chocolate Spice Bread

12 Feb

I love zucchini bread – bold in its simplicity and perfectly comforting. Its a good bread, one that is easily frozen and surprisingly easy and quick to make. I thought of this bread when I saw some luscious zucchini at O’Gourmet last week, and thought that it might be a nice idea to try a new twist. I found Bentong ginger powder at PastryPro – organic, sun-dried and so deep and complex in scent its almost overwhelming. I wanted to use it in a bread, and with my beautiful zucchini to hand, I set about inventing a new, enticing version of my beloved old standard.

I have to admit, this new zucchini bread is pretty spectacular. It is damp, lush, complex and dark. I really decided to go all out in this bread … I used dark and light brown sugar, freshly grated nutmeg, cinnamon and the amazing Bentong ginger, a touch of ground hazelnuts, beautiful Tasmanian Leatherwood honey, and both white and bittersweet chocolate. I realise, its full on! I thought to myself, when I put the loaves in the oven … either this is going to be delicious, or its going to taste like a muddled mess!

Luckily, its a wonderful, complicated, intriguing bread. Its very moist and it will get better over a few days – the flavours compounding and playing off one another. It freezes well, and its wonderful lightly toasted, as a snack, breakfast or tea time treat. Plus, what a wonderful way to get people to eat their zucchini and love it too!

I know that this seems a load of ingredients to bring together. If you cant find ground hazelnuts, or dont want to make them, substitute ground almonds, or even just plain flour. Chop and change as you wish, its a very forgiving recipe. Try though to include the honey and the spices … they really deepen and improve the bread immensely. And who doesnt like chocolate? Hehe … though if you want to be more healthy, try a few seeds or dried fruit instead. And do try and wait at least 10 minutes after you remove the bread from the hot oven – its very delicate at first, and needs a moment to firm up! Says she, who never waits πŸ˜‰

Makes 2 loaves

  • 2 medium-large zucchini (approximately 2 – 3 cups grated)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup canola or other vegetable oil
  • 1 scant cup sugar – half dark brown, half light brown
  • 1 heaping tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract or 1 vanilla pod, beans scraped
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup ground hazelnuts
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 2 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp dried ginger (I used Bentong ginger, which is very flavourful – you may want to up the amount of ginger – may be 1 – 2 tsp – Β depending on the quality of your source)
  • 1/2 whole nutmeg, grated
  • 2 cups chocolate chips, drops or chopped (I used half bittersweet, half white, best quality chocolate)

Preheat the oven to 175 C (350 F). Line two loaf pans with baking paper. I usually cut out a large piece of baking paper, centre the loaf pan, and cut in at a 90 degree angle on all four corners. I can then fold in the paper, and have a bit of nice overhang. Set aside the pans.

Set a sieve over a small bowl, and grate the zucchini into the sieve. I use the very fine grater, but depending on the texture youre going for, you might want to grate it slightly more coarsely. Press the zucchini into the sieve to encourage as much water out as possible (you will probably get about 1 cup worth). Set aside while you prepare the rest of the ingredients (and reserve both the zucchini and its liquid!).

In a large bowl, place the eggs, vegetable oil, sugars, honey and vanilla. Whisk together well until everything is well combined and integrated. Set aside.

In a small bowl (or large measuring jug, which is what I use) combine the flour, ground hazelnuts, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Stir to combine completely. Set aside for a moment.

Measure out about 1/2 cup of zucchini water.

Stir the flour and zucchini water into the sugar/oil mixture, in thirds, mixing gently but thoroughly. You might not use all of the zucchini water – just add a splash each time to really help the flour to integrate into the sugar/oil.

Add all the zucchini and mix well, and finally add the chocolate and mix well.

Divide the batter evenly between the two loaf tins.

of Zucchini Bread!Bake, switching the tins in the oven half way through if youre concerned about hot spots, for about 45 minutes – 1 hour. A cake tester inserted into the loaf will either come up covered in chocolate (in which case, wipe down and try again!) or with scant crumbs attached.

Allow the bread to cool for 10 minutes or so before devouring. This freezes exceedingly well, and will stay good in the fridge for a week or more (though its always finished up by the first day or so in my house!).

Enjoy!

 

Oatmeal White Chocolate Bars

8 Dec

Totally Decadent, Slightly Healthy ;)I didnt post yesterday because… well, because I was remembering my father. 14 years ago, yesterday, he passed away. And every day, I miss him. I just had nothing I wanted to cook, so I didnt. Instead, I smoked a cigar in his honour, and remembered him over dinner with a person who loved him too.

So today, I wanted to make something that was comforting, easy, and yet very flexible – kind of like my dad! I decided on oatmeal bars because they fascinate me – and AngelKitten suggested that I add marshmallows – kind of like in a rice crispie bar. Intriguing idea. You dont have to add marshmallows if you dont want to – though they certainly give the bars a chewy, burnt, caramelly angle. Basically, you need to add equal amounts of oats and “ingredients” – in this recipe I added marshmallows, pistachios and peanut butter chips. I know. Sounds like a weird mixture, but funnily enough, it works!

And, with the addition of almond meal, this is a gluten free recipe, though if you are very stringent, make sure you get oats that are labeled as gluten free. While oats themselves are gluten free, they are manufactured in factories, and often stored in facilities with other flours – cross contamination can occur, so be aware.

If you want healthy bars, please feel free to substitute dried fruit (cranberries and blueberries suggest themselves), seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, sesame) and all kinds of nuts. But do add the chocolate – it elevates these bars from crunchy granola to oh my goodness gracious, yes please, I will have another one! πŸ˜‰

Makes a large baking pan full – about 20 bars

  • 4 cups rolled oats
  • 2 cups almond meal
  • 4 cups “taste ingredients” – I used 2 cups marshmallows, 1 1/2 cups peanut butter chips and 1/2 cup pistachios. Feel free to go wild – add whatever your heart desires, but if youre daring, do try this combo. Its delicious!
  • 2 tsp cinnamon or all spice
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) cold butter, grated
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 heaping tbsp mascarpone (or cream cheese)
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips or chunks
  • 2 – 3 tbsp milk or cream

Preheat your oven to 175C (350F). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl combine the oats, almond meal, taste ingredients, cinnamon, salt, and light brown sugar. Use your hands and toss well to combine completely.

Grate over the butter and toss again to combine.

In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, mascarpone, honey and vanilla. You should have about a cup of liquid. If more, thats fine. If less, make it up with a touch of milk.

Pour the liquids over the oat mixture and use your hands to combine. You wont think that the mixture will come together at first, but trust me, it will. It will be quite wet.

Turn out into the prepared baking sheet, and bake in the preheated oven for 15 – 20 minutes or until slightly puffed and toasty brown. (If you have used marshmallows, keep a close eye out – they can burn easily).

Let cool for about 20 minutes. While the oat bars are cooling, melt the white chocolate with the milk in a small saucepan over very low heat until liquid.

When the oat bars are cooled, drizzle over the white chocolate. Allow it to firm up, and then cut into bars.

These will keep up to a week in the fridge.

Enjoy these delicious, slightly healthy, rather decadent treats!

White Chocolate Raspberry Pancakes

30 Nov

I woke up this morning, and I thought… Hungry! Kind of like my nephew, Ezril, who needs to be fed every few hours or he starts mumbling to himself like a slightly mad man. Heh. And then I got depressed thinking I had nothing in the house. But one of the pleasures of knowing how to cook is also knowing that if I think carefully enough, I always have something.

I had some gorgeous frozen raspberries in the freezer – I was considering making a raspberry coulis to go with my raspberry tart – but time got the best of me. I always have chocolate – and almost always have the basics: flour, milk, butter, eggs, baking powder. Hmmm. Pancakes. Yes! And literally less than ten minutes of putting it all together – a few minutes of cooking, and I was done!

Unfortunately, I snarfled up all the pancakes I made before thinking to pause for a photo (of the pancakes, not me). So you will have to wait till later on today for me to post an image. Suffice to say, these are lovely. Light, fluffy, studded with pink raspberry and melting bits of white chocolate. Simple, elegant and delicious.

And so easy that once you know the basic formula, you can get creative in so many ways. Cheddar basil pine nut pancakes may be? Strawberry bittersweet chocolate pancakes? Apple cinnamon walnut? Yes and yes and yes. Just keep to the basic formulation, and you will be fine.

Be inspired! Make some pancakes today πŸ˜‰

Makes about 10 – 15 pancakes, depending on the amount of batter you use per pancake

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp vanilla essence
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted plus extra for the pan
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chunks (well chopped) or chips
  • 1 cup frozen raspberries

Measure out the flour, baking powder, salt and brown sugar into a large bowl. Using a fork, toss to combine well.

Measure the milk, eggs and vanilla essence and whisk together well. Pour over the dry ingredients, and still using your fork, stir to combine. Lumps are fine, dont over mix.

Melt the butter in a large non stick frying pan over low heat. When melted, pour over the pancake mixture, and stir well to combine.

Add the white chocolate and raspberries and stir lightly.

Place the frying pan over medium low heat, and slick on a little bit of butter. You dont need much – less than half a teaspoon. Just enough to cover the bottom and help the pancakes crisp and brown.

Once the butter has melted and foamed, ladle on the pancake batter – about 2 tablespoons at a time. I usually use a soup ladle for this. I get 3 pancakes in a pan at a time.

Allow the pancakes to cook undisturbed for about 3 – 4 minutes. You will see bubbles start to form. Check by lifting a corner of the pancake – if they seem lightly browned and crisp you can flip them over. Be patient. The worst thing you can do to a pancake is to flip it before its time. It will go all hard and rubbery on you. But if you flip it when its ready, the pancake will fluff up, and cook on the second side within a few minutes. You wont need to flip it again (in fact, you shouldnt) – it will be perfectly browned on the outside, and fluffy inside, with melting bits of white chocolate, and gorgeously tart raspberries.

Serve with a bit of butter and some maple syrup or honey.

Total heaven in a few minutes!

Any left over pancake batter can be stored in the fridge, covered, for up to 24 hours.

Enjoy!

White Chocolate Shortbread

11 Nov

I am in full on cookie baking mode. I just put about 200 Starry Starry Night cookies into the freezer, waiting to be baked tomorrow, and I decided to sit and think about what other kind of cookie I could make. I love shortbread – full, rich, simple and classic, but I wanted to give it a twist. As I looked in my store cupboard, I realised I had about a kilogram of Valrhona white chocolate waiting to be made into something fabulous.

I wanted to make white chocolate chip cookies, and I still may do that, but I wondered if there was a way to get white chocolate into a shortbread without making a shortbread with white chocolate chips. I wanted the white chocolate to be in every bite, to permeate the shortbread – to live in its essence πŸ™‚ So I thought about it some more, and looked at the ingredients list – pretty simple, really. Butter, sugar, flour. Vanilla for additional flavour if needed, and a touch of salt. Thats it.

Well, I thought, if I were to add white chocolate, I could bring the sugar content down. But how to add the chocolate without melting it? Melting the chocolate and adding it to shortbread would, I thought, mess with the essential crumby-ness of this classic biscuit. It would make a nice cookie, but it wasnt what I wanted. I was still thinking about the sugar though, and then it came to me… Could I somehow crumb the white chocolate so that it was mixed in with the flour? I could blitz with my immersion blender – and lo! It worked!

This cookie is astoundingly good. Its surprising too – white chocolate just oozes out of its very heartbeat – but you dont see it when you bite into the cookie, so it taste is unexpected and wonderful. Crispy, rich, scented with vanilla and white chocolate, this cookie is so much more wicked than it looks. Enjoy it very soon, with someone you love very much πŸ˜‰

Makes 8 triangles from a 9 or 10 inch pan

  • Approx 1 cup (5 oz/150 g) good quality white chocolate (I used Valrhona disks – otherwise, use a good chocolate bar and roughly chop), cold from the fridge
  • 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup (8 tbsp) butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla

Place white chocolate, flour and salt in a large bowl. Using your hands, mix together until all the white chocolate is completely covered in flour. This is important for the next step, so please dont skip it!

If you are using a food processor or blender, place the flour chocolate mixture into the machine, and pulse lightly until the white chocolate has crumbed and completely integrated into the flour. If you are using an immersion blender, as I did, place the blender into the flour chocolate mixture, and pulse quickly. Move the bowl around, until all the chocolate has been incorporated into the flour. Set aside in the refrigerator while you prepare the butter mixture.

In a stand mixture, or using a hand held mixer, cream the butter until it is light and fluffy. This usually takes about a minute or two. Add the light brown sugar and cream until it is incorporated into the butter. Add vanilla and mix again.

Remove the flour mixture from the fridge, and add to the butter mixture, adding it in a few batches. The dough will come together quickly.

Butter a spring form pan or a tart pan (about 9 – 10 inches across), and place the dough in the centre. Using your hands, quickly push the dough so that it covers the entire bottom of the pan. Score wedges with a sharp knife (I cut it into 8 pizza wedges – you could do it however you wish), and poke holes in it with the tines of a fork.

Refrigerate the prepared dough for at least an hour, or overnight.

Once youre ready to bake the shortbread, preheat the oven to 175C (350F). Bake the shortbread for about 25 – 35 minutes. Check after about 15 minutes, and if its browning too fast, cover with a little aluminum foil to prevent it from burning. After about 25 minutes check again – it should be crumbly and firm to the touch.

Cool, in the pan, on a rack for about ten minutes. Re-score and re-hole if you feel the shortbread needs it! After about ten minutes, cut the shortbread through with an offset spatula or sharp knife, and allow to cool for a further ten to fifteen minutes. Serve immediately and enjoy!

If you have any leftover, cover and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

 

Vanilla White Chocolate Pudding

31 Oct

This week has been a week of baking, cookies and cakes… I havent posted for days, and I am feeling a little bit out of sorts – still adjusting to being home, seeing old friends, re-establishing ties. And the sweet week of readjustment (accompanied by 3 major bundt cakes and cookies) is about to end – tomorrow comes meetings, work and the usual immersion in daily life. Bills to pay, people to see…

So tonight, I decided, after a lovely dinner with Pingaling, to treat myself. This pudding is so luscious, so creamy and smooth, so soft and silken and unctuous, that you can spread it all over yourself and bathe in it. It is like being enveloped in love and hugs and vanilla and sugar and sweetness. Its easy to make (about 20 minutes or less in terms of actual work time) and it is amazingly adaptable – brilliant either warm or cold.

It would be a phenomenal base for a white chocolate ice cream (just cool in the fridge overnight, and pop into your ice cream maker!). It makes a brilliant accompaniment to any manner of cake, pie, pastry or crumble. It would be stunning as the filling for a deep dark chocolate cake or ginger cake (that could be iced with whipped cream!). Served with fruits (particularly berries), this is a dream. And thinned out with a little more milk or cream, its a surprising and delightful custard.

But somehow, tonight, all I wanted was a bowl of this pudding, and a few of Adi’s crisp haunting vanilla cookies. The worries and pressures of tomorrow can wait. Tonight is a good night πŸ™‚

Makes about 3 1/2 cups

  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk (though you can make it with low fat milk, it loses a bit in the richness – and of course you could add some cream but that is going just a tad overboard!)
  • 1 vanilla pod, split and scraped and/or 1 tbsp (or to taste) vanilla essence
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 egg yolks
  • Pinch of salt (I use Maldon or fleur de sel because I love the sudden pops of salty in all that sugary smoothness)
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup (a few good ounces) white chocolate, chopped
  • 2 tbsp butter

Pour the milk into a medium saucepan, and split the vanilla pod. Scrape the beans into the milk, and pop the pod in there too.

Heat the milk over your lowest heat, until it just starts to steam and bubble around the edges. This might take a while, so be patient, and busy yourself with other things while it is happening.

Once the milk is just at the point of boiling, take off heat, and cover for 5 minutes to let the vanilla bean steep. If you are not using vanilla bean, allow the milk to cool down for about five minutes while you prepare the eggs.

Crack the eggs into a medium bowl and add the egg yolks. Set the whites aside for another use. Add the salt and sugar, and begin to whisk. Let me just take a moment and state that I use light brown sugar in this recipe because I adore the slight caramel tones that the light brown brings to the flavour profile. However, if you prefer a very pristine pale pudding, without the caramel-y notes, feel free to use white caster sugar.

Whisk until the sugar has completely dissolved into the eggs.

Once the milk has cooled for 5 minutes or so, fish out the vanilla pod (if using), and whisk in the white chocolate. Whisk well to ensure that all the chocolate is completely melted (it should do this relatively quickly). Add a tablespoon or so of vanilla essence at this point and taste. You should have very strong vanilla and white chocolate notes. They should complement each other, but also be distinct. Adjust if you like.

Whisk about a third of the hot milk into the eggs, and continually whisking, add the egg-milk mixture back into the saucepan.

Put the pudding over very low heat and whisk constantly until it begins to thicken and steam and tiny bubbles begin to pop onto the surface. Whisk in the butter.

You need to keep your nerve here. Too long, and you get sweet, expensive, useless scrambled eggs. Too soon, and it doesnt thicken enough. Do remember though, that pudding does thicken substantially as it cools down. Its a balancing act, but I rather take off too soon than too late! You can always give it a little more heat if it does not set up as you would like it to.

Hopefully, you will have rinsed the bowl you whisked the eggs and sugar in. Place a sieve over this bowl, and pour the pudding through, to ensure a beautiful smoothness.

You now have a difficult choice. You could eat some pudding immediately (who am I kidding, I always do! Cook’s treat) … or place greaseproof paper over the surface of the pudding and refrigerate for about 2 hours or so until it has cooled and thickened completely.

Enjoy in a myriad of ways… and be comforted πŸ™‚

Birthday Party! Pink White Chocolate Frosting!

26 Sep

by Julia

Today was Z’s 1st Birthday Party! It was a group effort – I baked, MZ designed, organised, invited and created all the gifts, BSA Quality Controled and Julia arranged the flowers (arent they gorgeous?!). We are all full on exhausted. But it was so much fun! We made a lasting memory for Z – which is what birthdays should be about – memory, friends, and wonderful times together.

With loads of goodies

This was the birthday table… loaded with pink heart cookies, glittering pink flower cupcakes, a spinach and artichoke dip, tea sandwiches and a bottle for Z! All, of course, in a girly pink and lace colours. Very pretty.

It all looked really pretty, and tasted good too…

For Z

The cupcakes were lovely – fluffy and imbued with vanilla. It really makes a difference when you add real vanilla bean to a recipe. The tiny flecks of vanilla seed were gorgeous, and the vanilla frosting was tinted pink, with India Tree natural food colours. The decorations were all natural – and gorgeous!

Galore!

For the children, we had a red chili pinata filled with candy… And a cupcake station. We had frosted but undecorated cupcakes…

Cupcakes

And a cupcake tin filled with edible glitter and sparkles and hearts and stars

For Cupcakes

There were a lot of busy bees making beautiful creations!

Decorating

The Birthday Cake was quite insanely pink. I think this was about 15,000 smushed fairies worth of pink and glitter. (Photo courtesy of PFW)

1!

The cake itself was a buttermilk chocolate cake – lovely and fluffy. But it was the frosting (despite its liberal covering of glitter and sparkles and roses and pearls) that was absolutely awesome. It was made with a full pound of Callebaut white chocolate, and it was unspeakably good. I adapted it from a Cook’s Illustrated recipe. When soft, this icing is very very billowy and smooth… it has a satiny feel to it. Gorgeously lush like silk against the skin. But in the fridge, it firms up a lot, which is great on a hot day. It enabled us to serve and cut the cake without worrying about frosting melting everywhere…

Pink White Chocolate Icing

  • 1 lb best quality white chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp corn syrup
  • 2 tbsp vanilla extract or vanilla paste if you have it
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups cold heavy cream
  • A few drops natural red food dye (I used India Tree)

Melt the white chocolate. You can do this in the microwave by placing the chopped chocolate in a microwave proof dish, and running for about 45 seconds, stopping every 15 seconds or so to mix the chocolate with a spoon. Stop when almost all the chocolate is melted, and just stir – the rest will melt easily. If you dont have a microwave, melt the chocolate very gently over the stove top using a double boiler if you can, but if not, in a small pot over very very low heat. Stir often, and take the chocolate off the heat before it completely melts. Set saide.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Add the sugar, corn syrup, vanilla and salt and turn the heat up to medium. Stir the mixture until the sugar completely melts and everything is incorporated. You will have a wonderful caramel.

In a medium bowl that will fit into a larger bowl, pour in the heavy cream. Add all the white chocolate and the butter mixture, and stir well. Add the food colouring, one drop at a time, until it is of your desired pinkness!

As soon as the colour is to your liking, pop the bowl into a larger bowl that you have filled with ice and water. Stir the mixture well, and leave to cool down for at least 30 minutes in its ice bath. You may want to check on it after 10 minutes or so and refresh the ice.

What will happen is that the frosting will start to stiffen up. You dont want it completely hard, so take it out of its icebath if it starts to get very firm.

Using an electric blender, whisk the frosting until it is light and fluffy. Use immediately, or store in the fridge. If it firms up again, whisk until it is of the desired consistency.

Let your most beloved ones lick the bowl πŸ˜‰

White Chocolate Raspberry Tart

10 Sep

Raspberry TartToday is a day of celebration – it is the end of the Ramadan and the Rosh Hashanah. Two very intertwined religions, and their holidays. Well, on a day like today, you just have to celebrate. So I came up with this vegetarian (but unfortunately not vegan) white chocolate raspberry tart. The pastry cream was imbued with the rich lusciousness of white chocolate, such a perfect match for tart sweet bright raspberries. I dont usually do fruit with chocolate, but this is the exception that proves the rule.

This is a phenomenal tart. And I can say that because I have made some pretty damn brilliant tarts in my day…. but this one. It was so very good. The pastry crust was like a sugar cookie – dense, buttery, flaky and scented with vanilla. The pastry cream was literally stuffed full of Callebaut white chocolate. It was so creamy, it was sinful … but the great thing about it for me was that it looked like any garden variety vanilla pastry cream. It was only upon tasting that the ambrosial flavour of white chocolate made itself known. I adore good surprises like that! And the organic raspberries were the perfect counterpoint – tart and bursting with last of the summer sunshine, they made the white chocolate cream even more chocolate-y. This was one of my best tarts by far. Β And the best part was seeing family eat it so happily on this most family of celebration nights… BSA’s son was surprised I made it from scratch πŸ˜‰ It takes quite something to impress a 13 year old, so I was happy. Heh.

I put this tart together in literally half an hour (not including the wait times for baking and cooling off). Baking the pastry took very little time – but you need to make sure its baked through, because once it comes out of the oven, there is no more baking to do. I didnt bake it blind – I just made sure I poked tons of holes in it with my fork. It shrunk a bit, but I baked it in a 9 3/4″ spring form pan, so a little shrinkage was okay. The pastry cream took minutes to make, and about 20 minutes to cool in the fridge. Putting raspberries on top wasnt really work … but it was fun! I was actually a little shocked at how easy it was to make this tart – the return was so big, that I should have slaved for hours on it. It was a joy to present something so decadent and yet so easy to make.

Start at least 2 – 3 hours before you plan to serve this tart (or the day before) as you do want it to set up in the fridge.

Serves 8 people

Sweet pastry

  • 1 1/2 cups flour (all purpose is fine, but if you have pastry flour, use that)
  • 1/4 cup sugar – I used powdered sugar, which I find gives a finer result
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, frozen
  • 1 egg
  • 1 – 2 tbsp vanilla essence

In a small bowl, mix together the flour, sugar and salt. Use a fork and make sure it is all combined.

Grate the butter over the flour mixture, and using your fingers, toss to combine well. You should have oatmeal flakes of butter within the flour mixture.

In another small bowl, or cup, beat together the egg and the vanilla essence. Use more vanilla essence if you think your essence isnt very strong or flavourful.

Pour the egg mixture over the flour mixture, and using your hands, knead to combine. You should have quite a soft dough.

Tip the dough out onto a clean surface, and knead two or three times to get it soft and pliable. Using the heel of your palm, smear the dough away from you. This will spread the frozen butter in thin layers throughout the dough. Do this two or three times.

Roll the dough into a ball, put it back in the bowl, and refrigerate for ten minutes or so to let it all just come together.

Preheat the oven to 175C (350F). Have a pie tin, or a spring form cake pan (I used a 9 3/4″ pan) ready.

Take the dough out of the refrigerator, and tip it out onto a clean surface. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough to about 1/8″ thick, or to fit your pan.

The dough should be malleable enough, and yet cold enough, so it wont stick to the surface, or to your rolling pin. If it sticks, it has not sat in the fridge long enough, so put it back for a few minutes.

Once you have rolled out the dough to your liking, roll it onto your rolling pin, and centre it over your pan. Place it gently in the pan, and using your fingers, make sure all the edges are even. My spring form pan had very high edges, so I just folded the dough over and crimped it to come up about half way up the pan. It worked out fine!

Put the dough back into the fridge for five minutes or so to get over being rolled and prodded! This is an important step so dont forget it!

Once you take the unbaked crust out of the fridge, poke multiple holes in it with the tines of a fork. Dont forget to go up the sides!

Bake in the oven for 25 minutes or so, or until completely baked through and very lightly tan in the centre. You will know if its baked fully or not by the texture of the crust. If its soft, malleable, it has not baked long enough. If its firm, and solid feeling, its fully cooked. Decide on how brown you want it – for this delicate tart, I decided to let it barely get a blush of bronze.

Set aside to cool.

White Chocolate Pastry Cream

  • 1 1/2 cups milk (I used lowfat)
  • 1 + 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 1 cup best quality white chocolate
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 2 tbsp cornflour
  • 3 egg yolks

In a small saucepan, heat the milk, 1 tbsp vanilla and white chocolate over medium low heat, stirring occasionally, until the white chocolate melts.

Meanwhile, mix the sugar, flour and cornflour together very well with a whisk. Add the further 1 tbsp vanilla and the egg yolks, and whisk extremely well until everything is thoroughly combined.

When the milk is quite hot, take about 1/4 cup of milk, and add it to the egg mixture. Whisk very well. Turn the heat up on the milk mixture, and allow to just come to the boil. Add all the egg mixture at once, and turn the heat down. Stir until very thick.

If you are worried that the pastry cream is lumpy, you can sieve it, but its usually unnecessary as long as you have whisked the ingredients together very well at each stage.

Put aside to cool, about 10 – 15 minutes.

Assembly

  • Cooled crust
  • White Chocolate Pastry Cream
  • About 2 cups fresh raspberries, lightly rinsed if needed

CelebrationPour the pastry cream into the crust. Arrange the raspberries on top in a pretty pattern (I usually just make rings but do as your heart desires). Refrigerate for at least 1 – 2 hours.

If you are making this tart the night before, prepare all the elements separately, and assemble them together a few hours before serving.

Serve and Celebrate!

The Best Blondies

31 Aug

utter perfectionThis is my 100th post! Hooray! I never thought I had the discipline or the strength of purpose to actually commit to sit down and write a recipe a day, no matter what is happening or where I am. I have to say, I am impressed with myself πŸ˜‰ Long may it continue πŸ™‚ Today, in celebration of this personal milestone, I decided to try a new recipe. I love blondies. I am not so hot on brownies to be honest. They are too overwhelming – that mix between fudgy and crusty, and intense intense chocolate. I dont know what it is, but I like chocolate in almost all ways, but brownies are probably 100th on the list (keeping with the 100th theme!)

But blondies are another story entirely. Studded with chocolate, but not overwhelmed by fudge dough, blondies are chic brownies – brownies with an edge. I used Callebut white and milk chocolate here. Chopped it into chunks and mixed it with a caramelised vanilla batter. It baked shiny and crispy, with edges that were brown and crunchy, but with interiors that were the best of melted chocolate and soft vanilla cookies. Sooo good. Delicious, delectable, and amazingly easy. It took me about 20 minutes to put everything together, and another 20 – 25 to bake. Do not overbake these! They need to be cooked (and when you stick a knife in, they can be squishy, but not liquid), but if you overbake, they will get stone hard and yucky.

I adapted these blondies from a recipe on the Cook’s Illustrated website. I dont do nuts with my sweet baked goods (well on very rare occasions, but thats the exception rather than the rule). I dont know by, but its true. By the by, I also dislike chocolate and orange or lemon. Just does not do it for me. We each have our own tastes, and especially in brownies or blondies, I am a no nuts kind of person. Oh and in carrot cake, but thats another story. Anyway! The Cook’s Illustrated recipe required 1 cup of toasted pecans for these blondies. If you like nuts, toast some pecans (or walnuts or cashews, go crazy with it) and substitute the nuts for 1 cup of chocolate. Otherwise, do as I do, and revel in both milk and white chocolate πŸ™‚

The other major thing I did was I let the butter burn a little as I melted it. I remembered the recipe for the best chocolate chip cookies ever, and how the butter, burnt to a dark brown, added a depth of flavour to the cookies. Well, I didnt burn the butter to that extent, but I let it get a little toasty. Just a hint of light brown colour. It worked really well in the finished product – the blondies had a deep caramelised flavour that came from the union of slightly burnt butter, light brown sugar, vanilla and eggs. Sublime.

This recipe will fit into a 14″ x 8″ pan. Make sure that you double line the pan with aluminum foil, and allow some foil overhang. This lets you lift out the cooled blondies easily. Also, butter that foil to within an inch of its life! With all that caramelisation going on, you want to be able to lift the blondies out easily, and buttering well really does help.

For 1 pan of totally delectable blondies, you will need:

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 12 tbsp butter (1 1/2 sticks), melted, slightly burnt, and then cooled + 1 tbsp for buttering
  • 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 – 6 tsp vanilla essence
  • 2 cups best quality chocolate, chopped, chunks or if you have to, chips (I used 1 cup Callebaut white + 1 cup milk chocolate, chopped)

Preheat your oven to 175C. Prepare your baking pan. Line a 14″ x 8 ” pan (at least 2 – 3″ deep), with double layer of aluminum foil. Allow some overhang, and push it well into the corners. Use 1 tbsp of butter and butter the foil extremely well. Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Use a fork to mix well together. Set aside.

Melt butter in a saucepan, and allow to burn just a little bit. You want it to foam, subside, and then just start turning light brown. Take off heat and allow to cool.

Meanwhile, in another small bowl, whisk together 2 eggs and 4 – 6 tsp of vanilla. You will know how much vanilla to use, depending on the quality of the vanilla you have. Your judgement is important here, but remember you want a strong vanilla taste. Its the main flavour of the blondie, and you want it to come out well. Set aside the eggs and vanilla.

In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter and brown sugar. Add the egg mixture and whisk well. You will have a glossy, shiny, almost caramel like batter. Taste for vanilla and adjust if need be.

Fold the flour in gently, in three parts. Dont overmix. Fold in the chocolate (or the chocolate and pecans if you are so inclined). Using a spatula or wooden spoon, coax the batter into the baking pan. Spread it around to make sure that the entire pan is filled. It may not look like much, but heat is magic – it will puff up the batter and create a phenomenal blondie.

Bake in the centre of the oven for 20 – 25 minutes, checking a few minutes before hand to make sure they have not overbaked. The top will be shiny, slightly cracked, and light brown. A toothpick stuck into the blondie will come out with crumbs sticking to it – but if it comes out covered in batter, it needs more time.

yummmOnce done, take out of oven and allow to cool in pan for at least 20 minutes or so. Use the aluminum foil to remove the blondies from the pan, and cut into squares. The tops will be crisp and crackly, the bottoms will be golden and the centres will be squishy and vanilla-y and bursting with melted chocolate. Serve with vanilla ice cream if you want to be overly decadent.

White Chocolate Semolina Pudding with Damson Jam

4 Aug

White Chocolate Semolina Pudding with Damson Jam and a touch of CreamThis is not your school days semolina pudding. I promise. No lumps or bumps or tasteless paste. This is semolina pudding for sensualists. This pudding is smooth, moist, golden, scented with vanilla, creamy with white chocolate. Sexy and yet comforting at the same time – yes its possible. Just think of the scent and feel of your favourite partner’s worn t-shirt enveloping you, and you will know what I mean… Or not! You might just have to take my word for it!

Its a doddle to make – and I needed something simple, yet decadent, because I came home from an almost six hour shopping spree with ZaZa and my feet hurt! I am expecting people for dessert tonight, and I was thinking of making a cake, or cookies, but this is so much easier. And it can all be made in one pot if you are super lazy (though transferring the cooked semolina into a nice looking baking dish is pretty simple too), and tastes like you slaved over the stove for hours. I love that kind of cooking.

This does not require a huge amount of technical cooking, chopping, slicing, dicing or sauteeing. Its a little bit of waiting (for the vanilla to infuse), a little bit of stirring, some pouring (if you are putting it in a pretty baking pan) and some more waiting while it bakes golden. It does however depend on your sense of taste and balance – how much vanilla? How much white chocolate? How much, if any, sugar, to balance the chocoalte? I have to rein myself in in regards to chocolate, but if you feel like going wild, you have my blessing! Substitute dark or milk if you wish, but I think this pudding is perfect with white chocolate.

Here in Malaysia we call semolina suji or sooji and it is used for cakes, puddings, and a huge variety of Indian dishes. Its also used extensively in Italian and European cooking for pastas and breads, amongst other things. Its used as the base to make couscous, and is basically the coarse pieces of starch or endosperm (what a word!) from milling of durum flour. It is awesome.

And the jam? Well, when you have Duchy Organic damson jam, theres not much point in making your own. Its the best jam ever. Dark purple, and tasting like mystery … superb with this pudding, on a slice of dark brown bread, with a bit of cheese. Its only available in the shops on a seasonal basis (which I like very much), so when I see it, I grab at least 3 or 4 jars and hoard it with pure adoration. Use whatever jam is your personal favourite!

This will fit a large-ish baking dish, serving about 6 – 8 people, depending on greed πŸ˜›

  • 4 cups milk (or a mix of milk and cream – or for the lactose intolerant out there, almond or oat milk, or even coconut milk)
  • 1 vanilla pod (or up to 2 tsp vanilla essence, added later)
  • 1 scant cup semolina
  • 1 cup white chocolate, chopped plus addition 1/4 cup optional
  • 1 tbsp light brown sugar (or to taste – optional)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 – 2 tbsp butter
  • Jam and a bit of cream to serve

Pour 4 cups of milk into a medium saucepan. If you are using a vanilla pod, slice it in half lengthways, scrape the vanilla seeds into the milk, and drop in the pod as well. Bring the milk almost to a boil (when you see little plip plops of milk at the surface, take it off), stirring with a whisk all the while, and take off the heat. Leave, covered, for about 15 minutes, to allow the vanilla to infuse the milk. If you are using vanilla essence, leave for a few minutes to cool down, and go on to the next step.

Preheat your oven to 180 C and butter a large-ish baking dish (I use two small pretty white ceramic dishes because thats what I have!).

After 15 minutes, uncover the milk, and slowly whisk in the semolina. Whisking in the semolina off heat, in warm instead of boiling milk, ensures that the finished product is smooth like silk. Put the saucepan over medium heat, and allow the mixture to come to the boil, whisking all the while.Β As you bring the semolina milk mixture to the boil, it will start to thicken. It will eventually get quite stiff. It is boiling when the semolina starts to bubble at the surface. Make sure you whisk the entire time to ensure that it does not burn, and stays smooth.

Off heat, fish out the vanilla pods, and add the white chocolate. I usually add about 1 cup of white chocolate, and then taste. Chocolate varies so much in quality and sugar levels, that sometimes you may need the addition of a tablespoon (or even two) of light brown sugar. Most of the time, if you are using good chocolate, you dont really need it. I leave it to your (sweet) palate to decide. Remember though, that if you decide to serve it with jam, it will have a very sweet addition, and so needs to be mildly sweet, rather than overly sweet. You can kill this pudding with too much sugar!

If you did not use a vanilla pod, add your vanilla essence now, to taste.

Switch to a spatula, and beat in the eggs, and the butter. These two ingredients act as softeners and thickeners as the pudding bakes.

If you are feeling very decadent, and are a chocolate fiend, feel free to sprinkle extra chocolate over the pudding just before it goes in the oven (that would be me!). It might be nice to have a white chocolate semolina pudding, and sprinkle over with shards of bittersweet chocolate. Though I would then serve a seville orange marmalade with the pudding rather than damson jam. You could also, if your heart so desires, sprinkle some nutmeg or cinnamon over, though for me, these tastes are too much for the delicacy of this pudding.

Baked Pudding Cooling Down with dots of White ChocolateBake in the oven for about 30 – 35 minutes until the top is golden, and the pudding is slightly puffed. Take out of the oven, and allow to cool at least 10 – 15 minutes before serving. You could leave the pudding in a switched off warm oven while having dinner if you like…

Serve with some jam and may be some extra cream on the side for those who want it (and I dont know anyone who wouldnt!)

Banana White Chocolate Bread Pudding

12 Jul

Banana White Chocolate Bread PuddingI was supposed to go out to dinner tonight to see an old friend’s Mum. However, I think I twisted my back in the excitement of the World Cup finals! So panadiene it was, and I was in no fit mood to drive. After a little nap, I decided I needed to try and cook something comforting, soothing, and nurturing. So I looked in the fridge, and on the counter (new organic delivery today!) and pieced together this bread pudding. Oh my, YUM! So good. So simple, and very quick to make. Just the thing for making a sore back go away. Heh.

Just a note. I literally used what I had in the fridge. It worked out really well. If you have dont have port wine, for example, you could substitute it with a little wine or liqueur or some juice. If you dont have bread, but only croissants, go ahead and use them! Dark chocolate, and no white? Substitute lah. This is a very forgiving recipe.

I baked this in a round cake tin. You could use 2 loaf tins, or a square tin if you like. Serve with sour cream on top for a really lovely contrast.

  • 12 slices bread (white or brown), toasted
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp + 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 5 very ripe bananas
  • Couple tablespoons port wine
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups milk – I didnt have enough! So I used 1 cup milk, and into the measuring cup, I put 2 tbsp light sour cream and 2 tbsp sweetened condensed milk. I made up to 2 cups with a bit of water and mixed all together. If you do have enough milk, and decide to use just that, then make sure to add 3 tsp sugar to the recipe (or to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup white chocolate chunks
  • A little brown sugar for topping

First of all, toast your bread in the toaster. This will dry out the bread, and also caramelise it (thats what the brown is – the sugars in the bread caramelising) and will add tons of flavour. Leave to cool.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large non stick pan over medium heat. Once the butter is sizzling, sprinkle 2 tbsp dark brown sugar over the butter. Dont mix, but just let the sugar melt into the butter. Slice the bananas over this and let cook for a few minutes. Using a spatula, gently flip the bananas over, and add the teaspoon of vanilla and port wine. Let the bananas cook for about 3 – 5 minutes in this gorgeous sauce, and then take off the heat and let cool to lukewarm.

In a large bowl, beat together the eggs, milk (see note above), sugar if you are using, salt and tablespoon of vanilla. Gently mix in the cooled banana with all its juices. Tear the bread into chunks and add to the bowl, and mix well. Add the white chocolate chunks and stir to combine thoroughly.

Let this mixture sit for at least 10 minutes, while you preheat your oven to 180C. You want almost no liquid left and the bread to have soaked it all up. Butter a 9 inch cake pan, and pour the mixture into the pan. Bake for 40 – 45 minutes, sprinkling a little brown sugar over the top 5 – 10 minutes before the cooking time is over. You will know its read when its risen and puffy, and there is no more liquid when you pierce the bread pudding with a knife.

Let stand for a few minutes before serving.

Serve warm with a little sweetened sour cream on top. Soul comfort food.