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Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Double Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

I think that the chocolate/mint combination is such a classic one. It's very a Christmas flavour, and if I get a chance this season I'll be making some to give as gifts.

I found this one a long time ago from Joy The Baker - if you aren't a fan of hers, head on over and check her out. I'm a long time lurker at her blog, and am plotting grabbing her book as soon as I can justify yet another cookbook purchase!

The mixture that this recipe makes is a bit of an odd one to work with, as it's quite thick and sticky. This is quite possibly due to the fact that the only "wet" ingredients in it are butter, eggs and peppermint extract. However, the cookies it produces are chewy without being tough. They do spread a LOT though, so definitely watch your spacing on the tray!!

A simple case of whisking the dry ingredients together in one bowl..
 Mixing up the butter and sugars in another bowl...
 Adding the dry ingredients in and mixing some more
 Here's the finished product (after a failed batch due to badly measured cookies)
 The first 2 batches - one guess which one was the failed batch! (They still taste awesome)

Double Chocolate Peppermint Cookies
From http://joythebaker.com/
1 1/4 cups plain flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
225g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon peppermint extract (I used essence, it's still good)
2 large eggs
340g dark chocolate chips, or baking chocolate chopped up (I used 1 packet of home brand choc chips and half a packet of Nestle milk choc chips - obviously it's better with good chocolate!)

- Preheat oven to 190 degrees celsius, line baking sheets with baking paper or silicone sheets
- Whisk together the flour, cocoa, salt and baking soda in a medium bowl.
- With a stand mixer and paddle attachment, or hand-held mixer and a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed for about 1 minute, until smooth. Add the sugars and beat for another 2 minutes, until well blended.
- Beat in the peppermint.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat for 1 minute after each egg goes in.
- Reduce the mixer speed to low and and add the dry ingredients in three portions, mixing only until each addition is incorporated.
- Spoon the dough by slightly rounded tablespoonfuls onto the baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between spoonfuls (I really recommend you go for teaspoonfuls - they really spread!)
- Bake cookies, rotating half way through, for 10 to 12 minutes or until they are just set around the edges. They may still be a little soft in the middle.
- Remove from oven and allow cookies to rest for 1 minute, then carefully transfer to a rack to cool. (Again, recommend that this is more like 5 minutes as these cookies are fall apart soft straight from the oven!)
- Repeat with the rest of the dough, cooling baking sheets between batches

Note: Joy notes that you can easily cover the uncooked dough and refrigerate for up to 3 days prior to baking. You can also freeze the dough in spoonfuls, ready to bake. No need to defrost the dough, simply add another minute or two to the baking time. I'm definitely going to try this!

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Buttercream Frosting Truffles

I don't know about you, but when I've made cupcakes I always find that I've either made not enough frosting or WAY too much. A while ago I made these Malteser cupcakes for my husband's boss as a bon voyage present, on her last day at work before heading to Italy on holiday.
I ended up with at least a third of my frosting leftover, so decided to turn it into truffles.

This is a fiddly, time consuming but super easy way to use up buttercream!
I'll include the recipe I used for the buttercream, it will ice 20 cupcakes and still have heaps leftover for truffles but you can use any leftover buttercream.

Vanilla Malt Buttercream Truffles
250g butter, softened
2.5 cups icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons malt powder, or alter to taste (I use Nestle)
Approx 200g Milk chocolate melts/cooking chocolate

- Refrigerate leftover buttercream for at least a few hours/overnight until hard.
- Using a teaspoon to portion it out, roll the buttercream into balls and place on to a cookie tray which has been lined with baking paper. Place in the freezer for 30 minutes.
- Melt the chocolate as per directions.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Jam Donut Muffins

In my quest to avoid paying attention to the AFL grand final this year, I have been baking. Although I did receive 2 new cook books in the mail over the past 3 weeks (it's an addiction paid for by my jewellery!), I couldnt help but make some old favourites from my many hours spent trawling food blogs for ideas.

First up, Jam Donut Muffins! Or actually, Jam Doughnut Muffins. I'm yet to understand the difference, Google tells me there isn't any so I'm going with what I know.

This is such an easy one bowl recipe. All the ingedients in:
 Dollop some jam on a bit of the mixture - I went with nutella, jam and lemon curd for variety.
 And then cover it over with some more mixture.
They bake up beautifully, and finish off well with some melted butter and cinnamon sugar.
What I like about these is they give you a donutty (new word) type snack but minus the deep fryer, and they are SO easy to put together.
I like to put different fillings in them, I made a double batch today with lemon curd for my lemon crazy Mum, as well as nutella in some for me and raspberry jam for hubby.
The innards of a nutella muffin. At its most perfect when still warm.
Jam Donut/Doughnut Muffins
From: Nigella
1 1/3 cups self raising flour
1/3 cup white sugar
1/2 cup milk
7 tablespoons of  vegetable oil
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
12 teaspoons strawberry jam/nutella/apricot jam/whatever you like!

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

- Preheat oven 180 celcius
- With a fork, beat together the milk, oil, egg and vanilla.
- Stir this into the flour and 1/3 cup sugar to combine. Don't overbeat, a few lumps are fine.
- Spoon mixture into muffin cups so just under 1/3 full.
- Add a teaspoon of jam into the center of the cup, and then more muffin mix so just about full.
- Bake 20 minutes or until the tops of the muffins spring back when pressed lightly. Remove from oven.

- Melt butter in a small bowl, combine sugar and cinnamon on a small plate.
- Whilst still warm, take muffins out of cups (I leave them in as it's less messy to give them to people), roll in butter and then sugar. Eat warm (or warm briefly in microwave later!)

Friday, 12 October 2012

Triple Chocolate Brownies

Okay so here's an admission, I'm cook book addicted. Every time I see a special on at the supermarket - you know, one of those 'buy 3 of a particular brand, get this cook book free' type ones, I'm there with a shopping basket full of choc chips.
This recipe is from my latest "free" cook book acquisition, "Australia's Sweet Baking Favourites" by Nestle. It's the second similar book by Nestle I've picked up in the same manner this year, but it has a coconut cherry slice in it which I'm dying to make. I am pretty sure it's the same as one I found on the back of a milk melts packet as a child! I'll report back on that one, but in the meantime, here are some brownies!
Again, super easy recipe. Melt the butter, chocolate and sugar..
 Stir in flour, eggs and choc chips and put into greased, lined pan!
 Cool, slice, and eat. They are incredibly rich, you won't want big pieces!
Triple Chocolate Brownies
From: "Australia's Sweet Baking Favourites" by Nestle.
125g butter, chopped
1 1/3 cups/200g dark cooking chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup caster sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/4 cups plain flour
1 cup/190g white choc chips
1 cup/190g milk choc chips

1. Preheat oven to 180C/160C fan forced. Grease and line a 19cm square cake pan.
2. Combine butter, dark cooking chocolate and sugar in a large saucepan, stir over low heat until melted. Allow to cool 10 minutes (I suggest longer, as my choc chips started to melt when mixed in!)
3. Stir in eggs, flour and choc chips. Spoon mixture into prepared pan and smooth the top.
4. Bake 25 minutes or until mixture is just firm to touch. Cool in pan. Turn out and cut into squares to serve. (Lesson learned by me - make sure that the brownies are definitely cool, I was impatient and ended up with broken up brownies rather than beautifully sliced ones!!)

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Brown Butter Blondies With Brown Sugar

Brownies are incredibly popular and SO easy to make, I don't know of anyone who doesn't know what a brownie is, or how delicious they are.

However, I hadn't heard of blondies until I became addicted to baking blogs in 2009, while I was living in England with lots of time to kill during cold wintery days. Turns out they are pretty tasty as well.
This particular blondie uses brown butter, or basically butter which has been simmered in a pan until it turns golden in colour. It adds a slightly deeper taste to the blondies and really works well with the brown sugar in this recipe.

The best bit about these is that the mix ins can be easily changed to your preference. I'm not a nut love but I'm sure macadamias and white chocolate would be amazing!
Just out of the oven - perfect.
 Check out the chunks of white chocolate. Yum.

Brown Butter Blondies with Brown Sugar
From: Chocolatesuze
200g unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon bi-carb soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup plain flour
Add ins, such as choc chips, nuts etc. I used roughly 1/2 cup each of white chocolate and caramel choc chips.

- Preheat oven to 175 degrees celcius, grease and line a slice tin or brownie pan.
- Cube butter. Melt in a saucepan over medium heat, swirling in the pan. When the butter turns a golden colour, remove from the heat.
- Add butter to the brown sugar in a bowl and beat together.
- Add egg and vanilla, mix.
- Sift flour, baking powder, bi-carb and salt and stir into butter mixture until just combined.
- Stir through your mix-ins.
- Cook for 15-20 mins. Will still be a little bit wobbly in the middle when done.
- Remove from oven, cool completely in tin before removing and slicing.
Let me know how yours were, which mix-ins worked well for you?

Friday, 28 September 2012

Fresh Strawberry Cupcakes

 I felt like I needed a break from the dreary winter weather recently, and with strawberries on special at the local Coles, why not use them for some summery cupcakes?
These are beautiful moist vanilla cupcakes, studded throughout with fresh strawberries.
And what better to top them with than strawberry whipped cream?

 This cream is super easy to make, it's simply a case of whipping a cup of cream, and adding some sugar to sweeten it up. Then grab your food processor (I have a tupperware happy chopper that I use!) to mush up half a punnet or so of strawberries. Mix it all together and you have a bowl of AWESOMENESS that you will want to polish off with a spoon before your cupcakes have cooled!

Next time you need to be reminded of warmer weather, definitely make these!

Fresh Strawberry Cupcakes
125g butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
1/3 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups chopped fresh strawberries

- Preheat oven to 180 celcius, line cupcake pan with liners
- Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy
- Add eggs and vanilla until well combined
- Whisk flour, baking powder and salt together in a seperate bowl
- Add flour mixture into the butter mix in 3 batches, alternating with the milk.
- Fold in strawberries

Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full, bake for 15-20 minutes

Strawberry Whipped Cream
1 cup of thickened cream
1/3 cup of sugar
4 tablespoons of mushed up strawberries (roughly chop a handful of strawberries and then blend until mushy - I use a tupperware happy chopper!)

- Whip the cream with a handheld mixer/stand mixer until it resembles whipped cream
- Mix in the sugar until dissolved
- Mix in the strawberries until just combined

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Malteser Cupcakes

My Mr's boss is going on holiday, and her last day is tomorrow. Being the nice guy that he is, he asked me to make her some cupcakes as a farewell present. Gives me something to do while I'm on leave from work and feeling the grip of boredom!

His boss requested something Malteser related. Who doesn't love Maltesers?!

I tried putting Maltesers in the cupcakes themselves before baking first. This wasn't too successful, and to be honest I didn't think it would be. Instead I opted to use a well tested chocolate cupcake recipe and a vanilla malt butter cream frosting.

The butter cream is easy to put together and super malty. This is easily rectified by changing the amount of malt to taste. I recommend you add it one tablespoon at a time and make sure you do lots of taste testing!!

All ready to go to work with hubby tomorrow. Hope the boss likes them!

 Malteser Cupcakes
The Chocolate Cupcakes - from this post (obviously minus the oreos!)

The Frosting: Vanilla Malt Buttercream
250g butter, softened
2.5 cups icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons malt powder, or alter to taste (I use Nestle)

- Cream butter and sugar together using a hand held mixer/stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Start on low until the icing sugar is incorporated and then mix on high for 3 minutes. Will be very fluffy.
- Add vanilla and malt and beat again for another minute.

Top cupcakes with a Malteser and enjoy!