Friday, 19 December 2014

S'mores Cookie Cups

Making things like these S'mores Cookie Cups gives me a reason to own a *mini ice cream scoop and *shot glasses. Because believe me, I don't use them for my ice cream and cocktails. I'm a grande girl.

S'mores Cookie Cups
adapted from here
Makes 24

1 cup digestive biscuit crumbs (Blitz about 8 biscuits in a processor until fine crumbs), or graham cracker crumbs
1 1/4 cup plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
115g (1/2 cup) unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup caster sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
24 white marshmallows
60g dark chocolate, melted

Preheat the oven to 180C (350F). Grease 2 x 12 mini muffin pans with cooking oil spray. Set aside.

Put the biscuit crumbs, flour, baking soda and salt into a large mixing bowl. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and both sugars until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined. Add the biscuit crumb mixture and mix until just incorporated.

Drop heaped teaspoons (*I used a mini ice cream scoop) of the dough into the holes of the prepared pans. Press the dough down (*I used a shot glass), to create a small indentation and form a cup shape. Bake for 6 - 8 to minutes, until the edges are just golden brown. Remove from the oven and press a marshmallow into each cookie. Let cool completely.

Use a blow torch to toast the marshmallows and leave to cool. Drizzle with melted chocolate.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Cranberry and White Chocolate Chunk Cookies

When you have 200 places to be, 600 people to see, 400 presents to buy, 900 labels to write, 500 gifts to wrap all before Christmas Eve, bake some cookies. Makes sense, right?

Cranberry and White Chocolate Chunk Cookies
slightly adapted from here
Makes 25 - 30 cookies

150g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
75g rolled oats
125g unsalted butter, softened
75g dark brown sugar
100g caster sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
75g dried cranberries
50g pine nuts
150g white chocolate, chopped into chunks
100g white chocolate, melted for drizzling

Preheat the oven to 180C (350F). Line two baking sheets with baking paper and set aside.

Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and oats in a bowl. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and both sugars together on medium speed for about 4 minutes, until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Reduce the speed of the mixer to low and add the dry ingredients. Mix just until combined. Fold in the cranberries, pine nuts and white chocolate chunks.

Roll heaped tablespoons of cookie dough into balls. Put the balls onto the prepared baking sheets and press down lightly to flatten slightly.

Bake for 15 minutes, rotating the baking sheets halfway through cooking time. The cookies are done when they are a pale golden around the edges. Leave to cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. Drizzle with melted white chocolate.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Peanut Chilli Batard

It's the perfect time of the year for elegant pre-dinner nibbles with Champagne, dainty afternoon snacks with mojitos, classy evening canapes with G&Ts... or eating a whole batard for dinner while drinking Coronas and watching National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.

Peanut Chilli Batards
slightly adapted from here
Makes 3

50g tahini
75g crunchy peanut butter
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 long red chillies, charred over a flame until blackened, deseeded and finely chopped
75g roasted peanuts
500g multi-grain bread flour (I used a German blend), plus extra for dusting
1 teaspoon dry yeast
olive oil, for kneading
Sesame seeds

Put the tahini, peanut butter, cumin and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook. Add 100ml hot water, chopped chillies, 200ml cold water and the peanuts. Mix on low until combined. Add the flour and yeast and mix on low again until the mixture comes together into a soft, sticky dough. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave to rest for 30 minutes.
Turn the dough out onto an oiled worktop and knead for about 10 seconds. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with the plastic wrap again and leave to rise for an hour.
Preheat the oven to 220C (425F).
Divide the dough onto three even portions, shape into balls and leave for 15 minutes to rest again. Shape into sticks. Flour a worktop and pat each stick into an oval, fold it upon itself a few times, then roll to 30cm in length. Brush with water, roll in sesame seeds and leave to rise on a baking paper lined baking tray for 45 minutes. Slash down the length of each loaf with a sharp knife and bake for 30 minutes.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Christmas Cupcakes

A little bit of uncomplicated Christmas sprinkle, Friday afternoon, pre-weekend, post school year fun... before the madness begins. Happy weekend friends.

Christmas Cupcakes
Makes 18

For the Cupcakes:
1 cup dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup full cream milk
3/4 cup plain flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 cup caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt flakes or pink Himalaya salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup sunflower oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the Ganache:
100g dark chocolate, finely chopped
100g sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Christmas sprinkles

Make the Cupcakes:
Preheat the oven to 180C. Line 2 x 12 hole cupcake pans with 18 paper liners. Set aside.

Put the chopped chocolate and milk into a small pan and gently heat over low heat, stirring until melted and smooth. Be careful not to overheat. Set aside.

In a bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, sugar, salt and baking powder. Stir to mix. Set aside

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the eggs, sour cream, oil and vanilla for about 1 minute. Slowly add the melted chocolate and then the dry ingredients. Mix on low for a further minute to combine.

Fill the cupcake liners until half full and bake for 15 - 17 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle of a cupcake comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool completely.

Make the Ganache:
Put the chopped chocolate into a heat-proof bowl. Heat the cream to almost boiling in a small saucepan over medium heat. Remove the cream from the heat and add the vanilla extract. Pour it over the chocolate. Leave for about 2 minutes, then stir it together until the chocolate is melted and you have a smooth, velvety mixture.

Smear each cooled cupcake with a generous helping of ganache and tip an edge in your favourite Christmas sprinkles. 

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Salted Caramel Cheesecake

The last of day of the school year calls for cheesecake... salted caramel cheesecake. The kids are pretty happy about it too.

Salted Caramel Cheesecake
slightly adapted from here

Caramel Sauce:
1 cup single cream
60g unsalted butter, chopped
175g brown sugar
Sea salt flakes for sprinkling

For the Crust:
500g shortbread biscuits
60g ground almonds
150g, unsalted butter, melted

For the Filling:
350 ricotta
500g cream cheese, room temperature
175g brown sugar
4 eggs, room temperature
2 tablespoons golden syrup
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Topping:
1 cup thickened cream
1 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Make the Caramel Sauce:
Put the cream, butter and sugar into a medium saucepan over low heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Increase the heat to high and boil for 5 - 7 minutes until thickened. Set aside to cool.

Make the Crust:
Line the base of a 22cm round springform pan with baking paper. Lay out a long sheet of foil and put the pan on it. Fold the foil all around the outside of the pan. This will create a barrier against the water when it is baking in the water bath. Set side.

Blitz the biscuits and almond meal in a food processor until they are a fine crumb. Add the melted butter and blitz briefly to combined. Press the mixture into the base and sides of the prepared tin and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Make the Filling:
Place the ricotta and cream cheese into the bowl on an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat until smooth, about 5 minutes. Add the sugar and beat for a further 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the golden syrup, fine sea salt and vanilla and beat until thoroughly combined. Pour into the biscuit crust. Place the cake pan in a roasting tin and pour enough boiling water in the roasting tin to come halfway up the sides of the cake pan. Baking the cheesecake in a water bath will result in even cooking and smooth creamy texture. Bake for 1 hour 30 minutes or until firm to the touch. Remove the cheesecake from the water bath and carefully remove the foil. Allow to cool completely in the tin before refrigerating it for at least 3 hours.

Make the Topping:
Place the cream, sour cream, icing sugar and vanilla into the bowl on an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat it until soft peaks form. Spoon the cream on top of the cold cheesecake.

To Serve:
Pour the caramel sauce over the cheesecake and sprinkle with sea salt flakes.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Korean Meatballs and Quick Kimchi Rice Bowls

Our Christmas tree is up at last. The pressure finally got to me. I've been getting some not-so-subtle hints from the boys for about a week about not having a tree. So today, while every one was out at work and school, I jumped in my car, drove to the tree place, selected the perfect tree, wrestled it into my car, drove it home, wrestled it out of my car, trimmed the base, wrestled it inside, constructed the stand, erected the tree (making sure it was straight from all angles and that the "good side" was facing out - not that I have OCD or anything), placed the tree in its rightful place, found the lights and decorations, untangled the lights (even though I made sure they were untangled when they were put away last time), made sure the lights worked, put the lights on the tree (which always sounds like a really nice job until you're actually doing it), cleaned up all the pine needles and waited for the boys to come home from school, They decorated the tree with baubles and tinsel while I made these Korean Meatballs and Quick Kimchi Rice Bowls for dinner... It's the least I could do.

Korean Meatballs and Quick Kimchi Rice Bowls
adapted from here
Serves 4

For the Quick Kimchi:
500g white cabbage, finely shredded
1/4 cup salt (I used pink Himalaya)
2 1/2 cups boiling water
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1cm piece fresh ginger root
1 shallot, peeled and roughly sliced
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon sugar (I used panela)
1 teaspoon Korean chilli powder
2 tablespoons gochujang (fermented red pepper paste)
1/2 apple peeled and cut into chunks
1 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

For the Meatballs:
1kg ground beef
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 teaspoons salt
3 spring nioons, roughly chopped
6 cloves garlic, peeled
4 tablespoons of sugar (I used panela)
1 tablespoon sunflower oil, for frying

For the Simmering Sauce:
5 tablespoons soy sauce
90ml water
90ml unsweetened apple sauce
6 tablespoons sugar (I used panela)
2 tablespoons honey
10 cloves garlic, peeled
1cm piece of fresh ginger root
3 spring onions, roughly chopped

To Serve:
4 spring onions, finely sliced
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted
1 cup julienned carrots
4 cups cooked Japanese rice, hot

Make the Kimchi:
Put the cabbage into a heat-proof bowl. Dissolve the salt in the boiling water and pour it over the cabbage. Set aside for 10 minutes.

Put the garlic, ginger, shallot, fish sauce, sugar, chilli powder, gochujang and apple into a blender and blitz until smooth.

Rinse and drain the cabbage. Add the paste to the cabbage along with the toasted sesame seeds and mix thoroughly. Adjust seasoning and set aside.

Make the Meatballs:
Put the beef into a large bowl.

Put the soy, sesame oil, salt, spring onions, garlic and sugar into a blender and blitz until smooth. Add to the ground beef and mix thoroughly with your hands until fully incorporated. Roll the mixture into walnut-sized balls.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the meatballs in batches until they are browned. Remove from the pan after each batch is cooked. Wipe out the pan and add all of the simmering sauce ingredients to the pan. Bring to boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Reduce the heat to simmer and add the meatballs back to the pan. Cook until the sauce is thick and syrupy and there's only a small amount left to coat the meatballs and the bottom of the pan.

Assemble the Rice Bowls:
Divide the rice among four deep bowls. Top with kimchi, meatballs and some shredded carrot, Pour over any remaining simmering sauce and sprinkle with sliced spring onions and toasted sesame seeds.