Saturday, February 20, 2021

Maggie Beer's Chocolate Brownies

Here’s one from the archives - Maggie Beer’s Chocolate Brownies, from The Cook and The Chef.  I made these in January last year for a work morning tea and just never quite got around to posting them. They are very good though, so I am posting about them now.

These brownies contain prunes, which makes them extra moist and fudgy. You can easily make them gluten free by using a gluten free flour mix (which is what I did).

Maggie topped her brownies with ganache, but I skipped it - the brownies are already quite rich.

To make these brownies, you will need:

170g butter
40g cocoa
100g chopped dark chocolate
3 eggs, lightly beaten
350g brown sugar
150g pitted prunes
120g self raising flour
Pinch of salt

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius and grease and line a 20cm square cake tin.
Sift the flour, salt and cocoa together into a large bowl, and mix in the sugar. 
Melt the chocolate and butter together in a double boiler, then fold into the dry ingredients. Fold the eggs through the batter.

Place the prunes in the bottom of the cake tin, and scrape the batter over the top of the prunes, and spread evenly with a palette knife.

Bake the brownies for 30-45 minutes or until just tacky on top.  Allow the brownies to cool in the tin on a wire rack before slicing and serving.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Buckwheat Pancakes with Roasted Rhubarb for Shrove Tuesday


Today there is a bonus post for Shrove Tuesday, also known as Pancake Tuesday. I made Buckwheat Pancakes with Roasted Rhubarb for the occasion.

The buckwheat pancake recipe came from here. The roasted rhubarb recipe came from here.

The combination of the warm, nutty tasting pancakes, rhubarb roasted in maple syrup and I cream was delicious. I made this for dessert but you could easily have it for breakfast (or any time!).

To make the roasted rhubarb, preheat your oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Cut a bunch of walked trimmed rhubarb into 5cm lengths and place in a roasting dish. Drizzle with 1/4 cup maple syrup. Roast the rhubarb in the oven for 20 minutes or until fork tender.

For the pancakes, combine 295ml milk with w tablespoons of lemon juice or vinegar in a jug.

In a large bowl, combine 3/4 cup buckwheat flour, 3/4 cup plain flour, 1 tablespoon sugar, 3/4 teaspoon baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Make a well in the centre.

Combine 1 beaten egg and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract with the milk mixture. Melt 4 tablespoons butter and allow to cool slightly.

Pour the melted butter and milk mixture into the well in the flour mixture, and stir with a fork until the ingredients are just combined.

Heat a large frypan  on medium heat, and lightly brush with melted butter. Pour 1/4 cup batter into the pan and spread into a 4” circle. Leave on the heat until the surface bubbles, then flip the pancake. Cook the pancake  on the  flip side for 1-2 minutes or until lightly browned and cooked in the middle.

Serve the pancakes warm with whatever you like.

TWD - Major Grey’s Roll-ups


This week’s Tuesday’s with Dorie recipe is Major Grey’s Roll-Ups. These are effectively savoury rugelach, with a cream cheese dough, a chutney and mustard filling, and the roll-up or crescent shape.

My roll-ups are something only a mother could love to look at, but they what they are. I used P&P fig and port chutney, as Major Grey’s is not a readily available brand of chutney here.  I also asked Steph what would be a good substitute for Triscuits in the dough - she and Mardi suggested Ritz crackers, which was perfect.

I liked these but didn’t love them. I would not make them again, but if someone presented these in a bowl as nibbles at a party, I would happily eat them.

To see what everyone else made this week and their thoughts about it, visit the LYL section of the TWD website.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Red Velvet Cookies for Valentines Day

A cigarette that bears a lipstick’s traces
An airline ticket to romantic places
And still my heart has wings
These foolish things remind me of you.
                          Holt Marvel, These Foolish Things

Happy Valentines Day readers! It is a day that divides the crowds, but I like it, even though I don’t have a Valentine - I prefer instead to use the day to celebrate those dear and near to me in a non-romantic sense.

It is also Transfiguration Sunday in the Lutheran Church, being the last Sunday before Ash Wednesday. I think that is rather fitting for Valentines Day, as love for another transforms them in our eyes. To quote the finale song of Les Miserables, to love another person is to see the face of God.

One of the best things about Valentines Day is the opportunity to bake and decorate something fun. I made cookies again, but this year they are red velvet rollout cookies. It was  a challenge to find a recipe I could make, as the most popular recipe contained buttermilk powder, which I did not have.

I finally landed on a recipe from Baking A Moment, containing cream cheese instead of buttermilk powder for that red velvet tang. I used a quarter of the recipe - here are my cookies before being decorated:

To make these cookies, you will need:

225g butter
115g cream cheese
1 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon red liquid food colouring
3 cups plain flour
1/4 cup cornflour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius and line baking sheets with baking paper.

Put the butter, cream cheese and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer and beat together until smooth.

Beat in the egg yolk, vanilla and food colouring.

Add the flour, sifted cocoa, cornflour and salt and mix until just combined.

Turn the dough out onto a piece of baking paper and press it together into a flat disc. Put another sheet of baking paper on top, and roll out the dough to a thickness of roughly 3/16”. 

Remove the top piece of paper and cut the dough into whatever shapes you like, and place each shape onto the lined baking trays. (If, like me, you find the dough is sticking to the paper, put the rolled out dough into the fridge to chill for 10 minutes or so.)

Put each sheet of cookies into the oven and bake for ~ 15 minutes or until the cookies are firm at the edges but still a little soft in the centre.  Cool the cookies on the baking sheets.

Now the fun part - decorating your cookies!  I brushed the top of each cookie lightly with water and stuck a thinly rolled piece of fondant cut into a matching shape on top of each cookie. I then used stencils to air-brush designs on top of the cookies. I used this Cookie Countess cartoon heart stencil:

and this Berry Sweet lips stencil:

They are a little bit blurred, but I think that’s part of the charm, especially for the lips - it looks a little like smeared lipstick.

Enjoy your Valentines Day!

Friday, February 12, 2021

Pineapple Tarts for Chinese New Year

 Happy Chinese New Year - the Year of the Ox!

One of the dishes made in Malaysia for Chinese New Year is Pineapple Tarts. Sweet treats are made for CNY because they symbolise bringing a sweet life, and the name of the pineapple, ong lai in the Hokien dialect,  means “fortune come”. 

I had already made the pineapple jam from the recipe in Warm Bread and Honey Cake by Gaitri Pagrach-Chandra. Next door to the jam recipe was a recipe for Guyanese pine tarts, a South American delicacy. The recipe for the pineapple tarts and the Guyanese pine tarts was pretty much the same, with the tarts simply made into different shapes, so I decided to kill two birds with one stone, so to speak, and make both kinds of tarts from the same pastry.

The Malaysian pine tarts are formed into cross-hatched rolls:

while the Guyanese pine tarts are formed into triangles:

If you fancy making some pineapple tarts (or pine tarts!), this is how to do it:

First, make the Pineapple Jam:

500g fresh or canned, drained pineapple
500g sugar
Juice of 1/2 lemon

Wash 2 jam jars.

Roughly chop the fruit and purée it in a food processor. Put the fruit purée, sugar and lemon juice into a large heavy based saucepan and heat gently, constantly stirring, until the sugar dissolves, then turn up the heat and bring the mixture to the boil.  Allow the mixture to boil for 5 minutes, constantly stirring, until it thickens. Test when it is ready by putting a saucer in the freezer while cooking the jam, and when ready to test, place a small blob of jam on the plate, and run your finger through it.  If the furrow created by your finger stays and the jam doesn’t run to fill it, the jam is ready.  Spoon the jam into the prepared jars, filling them to the top, put the lids on, and turn the jars upside down for 5 minutes, then turn the jars back the right way up and leave the jars on the counter until the jam cools completely.

Then make the pastry:

250g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
125g butter, chilled and cubed
4 tablespoons cold water
Beaten egg, for glazing

Put the flour and salt into a food processor with the butter, and pulse until fine, breadcrumb-like particles form.

Add the water to the processor bowl, a tablespoon at a time, and pulse between each one. Once the dough comes together, stop adding water and pulsing.

Turn the dough out, shape it into a flat disc, wrap in cling film and rest it in the fridge for 30 minutes.

To make the tarts:

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Celsius and line a baking sheet with baking paper or a silicone mat.

Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces.  Roll each piece into a ball, then press each ball into a disc shape with the palm of your hand.  Roll each disc out into a 5” round circle. Put one tablespoon of pineapple jam in the centre of each circle.

For the Malaysian tarts, fold the dough over the top of the jam and cover the jam completely, pinching the edges closed. Form each piece into a ball shape, then gently squeeze each ball into a log about 1-1 1/2 inches long. Place each log shape on the baking tray and using a small sharp paring knife, cut a cross hatch pattern into the top of each tart. Brush the top of each tart with the beaten egg.

For the Guyanese tarts, fold the right side of the dough circle, then the left, over the jam centre, forming a point at the top. Fold up the bottom of the circle over the the remainder of the uncovered jam, then crimp each exposed edge of the dough in the centre of the tart with the tines of a fork.  See the photo at the top of this post to see what it is meant to look like - you should have  a neat triangular parcel of pastry.  Place these tarts on the baking tray and brush the tops with egg yolk.  I made half and half Malaysian and Guyanese tarts (6 of each).

Bake the tarts in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until the tops of the tarts are golden brown.

Remove the tarts from the oven on the tray, and cool completely on a wire rack.

Eat or freeze the tarts, as desired.

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

TWD - Lucky Charm Brownies

 This week’s Tuesday with Dorie recipe is Lucky Charm Brownies. They don’t contain Lucky Charms cereal - rather, they are Dorie’s “lucky charm” because these brownies are always a hit whenever she serves them.

The brownies are flourless and their key feature is the addition of amaretti biscuits. I didn’t have any amaretti biscuits and didn’t want to buy any, so I used some crushed savoiardi that I had bought for a different Dorie recipe.

The brownies have a ganache glaze with more cookies sprinkled on top - not necessary but definitely the icing on the cake. I’d make these again.

To see what everyone else made this week and what their thoughts about it are, visit the LYL section of the TWD website.