Daring Bakers November Challenge 2012: Twelve Days of Cookies

Holiday season is the time for sharing and Peta of Peta Eats is sharing a dozen cookies, some classics and some of her own, from all over the world with us.

The challenge recipe I chose to make was the chocolate sables, recipe here.  I left out the egg yolk as I had read some other recipes on the internet that did not use it, so I thought I’d see how it went.  The cookies were delicious, crumbly with big chunks of chocolate and not too sweet.  They even seemed to get better with time!  Try them crumbled up in vanilla ice cream for an excellent version of cookies and cream.

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As my second cookie, I made Alfajores, which are South American corn starch based cookies, filled with dulce de leche.  I used the recipe from familyfoodie.com, which have a little lemon zest as well as vanilla for flavour.  Dulce de Leche, whilst readily available in Spain is quite expensive, so I made my own using the oven method, which seems a lot safer than boiling sweet and condensed milk in a pan and is also much faster.  Simply pour a can of sweetened condensed milk with a sprinkle of salt into a pyrex tray and bake at about 180 degrees until golden brown (time varies with your oven-mine took about an hour but my oven is terrible).  When it is golden whisk it up to get rid of any lumps and leave to cool and set a little before using.

The cookies were lovely and crumbly, although very sweet and with a tendency to stick your mouth together!

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 This was an excellent challenge, Ill probably make a few more cookies before Christmas hits!!

Daring Bakers Challenge June 2012: Battenberg Cake

Mandy of What The Fruitcake?! came to our rescue last minute to present us with the Battenberg Cake challenge! She highlighted Mary Berry’s techniques and recipes to allow us to create this unique little cake with ease.

I’m not really a fan of plain sponge cake or marzipan, so I decided to try and jazz the cakes up a little and used the chocolate plastique rather than marzipan for the covering.  For the cake I made a chocolate sponge and a cherry coconut sponge, sandwiched together with a chocolate ganache.

It was nice, but a little dry and although the chocolate plastique worked quite well as a covering, I didn’t really enjoy the taste, so next time would probably use a chocolate icing instead.

Chocolate Sponge cake and Cherry Coconut Sponge (based on Mary Berry’s Coffee Battenberg)

Ingredients
¾ cup  Unsalted Butter, softened & cut in cubes
¾ cup  Caster Sugar
1¼ cups Self-Raising Flour
3 Large Eggs, room temp
½ cup dessicated coconut
3/4 tsp / 3½ gm Baking Powder
3 tsp Milk
½ tspVanilla Extract

2 cups pitted cherries chopped
1½ tsp cocoa powder

 

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to moderate 180°C/160°C Fan Assisted
2. Grease an 8”/20cm square baking tin with butter
3. Line the tin with parchment paper, creating a divide in the middle with the parchment (or foil)

4.  Whisk together dry ingredients (except cocoa and coconut) and combine with the wet ingredients in a large bowl (except vanilla and milk) and beat together just until the ingredients are combined and the batter is smooth
6. Spoon half the mixture into a separate bowl and stir in the vanilla, 1½ teaspoons milk and cocoa
7. Spoon the cocoa mixture into the one side of the prepared baking tin
8. Add chopped cherries, coconut and the remaining 1½ teaspoon milk and add to the remaining batter, stir until just combined
9. Spoon the cherry batter into the other half of the prepared baking tin
10. Smooth the surface of the batter with a spatula, making sure batter is in each corner
11. Bake for 25-30mins until the cake is well risen, springs back when lightly touched and a
toothpick comes out clean (it should shrink away from the sides of the pan)
12. Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes before turning out to cool thoroughly on a wire rack

Chocolate Plastique / Modelling Chocolate (From joy of baking)


Dark Chocolate Plastique
200gm /7 oz Good Quality Dark Chocolate (70% Cocoa content)
¼ cup / 60ml /2 oz Light Corn Syrup / Glucose Syrup / Golden Syrup

Directions:
1. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water, stir occasionally
2. Once completely melted, remove from heat and allow to cool a bit
3. Stir in corn syrup / glucose syrup / golden syrup, it will seize up almost immediately, just keep stirring until mixed and it comes away from the side of the bowl
4. Transfer chocolate into a sealable bag, spread the chocolate out then seal the bag
5. Leave overnight or refrigerate for about 2 hours until completely firm
6. Turn out from the bag and knead on a surface dusted with powdered sugar, at first it will just break , but as you knead, it will warm up and start to become pliable
7. Knead until it’s pliable enough to roll out or mould, 5 – 10mins

Chocolate Ganache

1.  Heat 200g dark chocolate in a pan with 200ml whipping cream over gentle heat until chocolate is melted.

2.  Leave to cool a little before use.

 

To make battenberg:

1.  Cut cooled cakes in half to make long rectangular pieces.

2.  Trim pieces so they are all even

3. Stick pieces together with chocolate ganache to form battenberg pattern and ice the top and sides to stick the chocolate plastique.

4.  Cover in rolled chocolate plastique and trim ends to neaten.
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Another Momofuku Milk Bar Hit; Compost Cookies

Are you a sweet tooth, craving cake, chocolate and cookies?  Or maybe more of a savory snacker who goes in for chips, pretzels and the like.  Which ever your snacking preference, these compost cookies from Christine Tosi’s Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook will hit the spot.  Basically you can throw in anything you like or have in the cupboard, although the recipe makes some pretty awesome suggestions that you’ll probably want to try first!

Compost Cookies (Adapted from Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook). 

  • 225 grams butter, at room temperature
  • 200 grams  granulated sugar
  • 150 grams  light brown sugar
  • 50 grams glucose (I left this out as I didn’t have it and they were still great!)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 grams  vanilla extract
  • 225 grams  flour
  • 2 grams  baking powder
  • 1 1/2 grams baking soda
  • 4 grams  salt
  • 150 grams  mini chocolate chips (I used chopped chocolate)
  • 100 grams mini butterscotch chips (I used chopped mars bar)
  • 1/4 recipe Graham Crust -see recipe below
  • 40 grams old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 5 grams ground coffee (I forgot this- didn’t matter)
  • 50 grams  potato chips
  • 50 grams  mini pretzels
  • handful sultanas
  • handful chopped hazelnuts

Directions

1.  Combine the butter, sugars and glucose in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes.

2.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the egg and vanilla, and beat for 7 to 8 minutes.

3.  Reduce the speed to low and add the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix just until the dough comes together, no longer than 1 minute. (Do not walk away from the machine during this step, or you will risk overmixing the dough.) Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.

4.  Still on low speed, add the chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, graham crust, oats, sultanas and nuts and coffee, and mix just until incorporated, about 30 seconds.

5.  Add the potato chips and pretzels, and paddle, still on low speed, until just incorporated. Be careful not to overmix or break too many of the pretzels or potato chips.

6.  Using a 2-ounce ice cream scoop (or a 1⁄3-cup measure), portion out the dough onto a parchment-lined sheet pan. Pat the tops of the cookie dough domes flat. Wrap the sheet pan tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or up to 1 week. Do not bake your cookies from room temperature—they will not bake properly.  (I put mine in the freezer for about an hour and they held shape well)

7.  Heat the oven to 180.

8.  Arrange the chilled dough a minimum of 4 inches apart on parchment-  Bake for 18 minutes.

9.  The cookies will puff, crackle and spread. After 15 minutes, they should be very faintly browned on the edges yet still bright yellow in the center. Give them an extra minute or so if that’s not the case.

10.  Cool the cookies completely on the sheet pans before transferring to a plate or an airtight container for storage. At room temp, cookies will keep fresh for 5 days; in the freezer, they will keep for 1 month.

Spot the chip!

Graham Crust Recipe

Ingredients

  • 190 grams graham cracker crumbs (I used digestives)
  • 20 grams  milk powder
  • 25 grams  sugar
  • 3 grams salt
  • 55 grams butter, melted, or as needed
  • 55 grams heavy cream

Directions

1.  Toss the graham crumbs, milk powder, sugar and salt with your hands in a medium bowl to evenly distribute your dry ingredients.

2.  Whisk the butter and heavy cream together. Add to the dry ingredients and toss again to evenly distribute. The butter will act as a glue, adhering to the dry ingredients and turning the mixture into a bunch of small clusters. The mixture should hold its shape if squeezed tightly in the palm of your hand. If it is not moist enough to do so, melt an additional 14 to 25 grams (1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons) butter and mix it in.

3.  Eat immediately, or deploy as directed in a recipe. The crust is easiest to mold just after mixing. Stored in an airtight container, graham crust will keep fresh for 1 week at room temperature or for 1 month in the fridge or freezer.

This would make an awesome cheesecake crust too!

Coconut Swiss Roll with Chocolate coconut mousse filling and white chocolate cream cheese icing. (As used in Surf’s Up cake)

Well this was my first attempt at a Swiss roll and I’m quite happy with the result, although I would probably skip the white chocolate icing on top in the future.  The whole thing was just a bit too sweet!

The cake cracked slightly on rolling, but I put this down to the fact that I made it a week in advance and froze it.  The sponge had a nice flexible texture before freezing and I think it would have rolled well then!  The taste was unspoilt by a week in the freezer, but the texture was slightly more brittle.

I adapted the roll recipe from one I found on this blog The Pleasure Monger

And then created the filling and icing myself.  I think the icing could replace the filling if you prefer the white chocolate and coconut combo, but both together will have you bouncing off the walls for hours!  See Surf’s Up cake.

Coconut Swiss Roll RecipeCoconut (halved)

1 egg
3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
35g unsalted butter
50g plain flour
10g corn flour
3/4 cup coconut milk
3 egg whites
85 caster sugar
3/4 cup dessicated coconut
1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Line 12 inch by 9 inch cake pan with baking paper.
2. Combine 1 egg, 3 egg yolks,  and vanilla  in a small bowl and lightly beat. Set this mixture aside.
3. Heat butter in a small saucepan over low heat until butter is melted. Add sifted flour to melted butter and cook till you get a dough that comes away from the sides of the pan. Remove this dough to a bowl, and add the egg mixture from Step 2 in small amounts. Gradually mix the dough and egg mixture into a smooth batter with each addition. Add coconut milk and dessicated coconut  to the batter and mix well.
4. In a clean bowl, whip up egg whites till foamy. Add half of the sugar and beat for a few minutes, then add the remaining sugar and beat till stiff and glossy peaks are formed.
5. Gently fold one-third of this meringue mixture into the batter. Fold in the remaining meringue until just mixed in.

6.Pour this batter into the cake pan and smooth the surface out with a scraper. Bake the sponge for 18 minutes.

7. Remove the tray from the oven, loosely cover the cake with a piece of aluminium foil to retain moisture and prevent cracking, place it on a cooling rack to cool completely.

Chocolate Coconut Cream Cheese Mousse Filling:

250g cream cheese

50g dark chocolate

1 cup dessicated coconut

Raw white chocolate

3/4 cup icing sugar

1.  Melt chocolate over stove on in microwave.

2.  Mix other ingredients into the chocolate and whisk with an electric beater until light and fluffy.

3.  Spread a generous amount of mousse in the centre of your roll cake, leaving spaces at the edges.

4.  Gently roll cake and wipe any excess filling that squirts out the ends.

5.  If you want a professional looking cake cut each end off to produce a smooth finish.

White Chocolate Cream Cheese Icing (optional filling or to go on top if you have a massive sweet tooth!)

250g cream cheese

60g butter

2 1/2 cups icing sugar

150g white chocolate

1.  Melt white chocolate in microwave or over stove (watch it carefully, it burns very quickly if you turn your back!)

2.  Whisk cream cheese and butter together in a bowl until fluffy and then add melted chocolate and icing sugar.  (icing will be runny, but will thicken as chocolate cools!)

Hot and Spicy Chocolate mud cake…with pumpkin

dense choccy goodness

You can never have too many good chocolate cakes in your repertoire.  I currently have two foolproof favourites which I whip up when time is short, or I just want something that goes down well with the crowds.  But I am constantly looking for something a little bit different to mix it up a bit and the addition of vegetables and ingredients usually confined to savoury dishes to chocolate cake seems like a good way to achieve this.  And as an added bonus it has vegetables in it…so it has to be healthy right? Being Halloween and Autumn in Spain, Pumpkin is the way to go in terms of in season veggies, so Pumpkin Chocolate cake it was!

This recipe is based on Dan Lepards’  Pumpkin Chocolate Mud Cake, but whilst in the process of baking it I was distracted by the spice rack and ended up lobbing a load in thinking that cinnamon goes nicely with chocolate, as does chilli, but nutmeg goes nicely with pumpkins…so lets have them all in there!

The result was less of a pumpkin chocolate cake and more of a spicy chocolate cake, perhaps the quantity of spices over powered the taste of the pumpkin a bit.  But it was still a nice moist, dense chocolaty cake with a distinct chilli hit, in fact if you don’t like hot foods you should probably reduce this, or maybe serve it with a glass of milk to quell the fire in your mouth!  I used Donna Hays’ Chocolate cream cheese icing, as this is my current favourite icing and the cream cheese goes nicely with the spices and cools the whole thing down a bit! It was meant to have nuts too, which I think would add a nice crunch to the texture, but I forgot to buy them!

Being a mud cake, it stays moist for a long time and also freezes well, (I made it a week ahead and it was absolutely fine).  So celebrate Halloween with a cake featuring the best of the seasons ingredients (pumpkin and chocolate), or if you just fancy something a little bit outside the box with a hint of spice, whip one up!

 Spiced Up Pumpkin Chocolate Mud Cake

250g dark chocolate broken into peices

150g butter

3 eggs

275g soft brown sugar

275ml cold water

3tsp vanilla extract

250g plain flour

3 tsp baking powder

200g grated pumpkin

1 tsp cayenne pepper

3 tsp cinnamon

2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 cup chopped pecans/ wanuts (optional)

1.  Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius

2.  Line 20cm square/round cake tin with baking paper

3. Melt chocolate and butter in microwave or over a pan of boiling water on the stove.

4.  Beat eggs and sugar until smooth, then add chocolate mixture and stir through

5.  Beat in water and vanilla -mix will be very runny!

6.  Add flour, baking powder and spices and stir to combine.

7.  Stir through pumpkin and nuts if you want them.

8.  Pour into prepared tin and bake for approx. 60 mins or until cake is solid, but with a slight spring.

9.  Cool and ice.

Donna Hays Chocolate Cream Cheese Icing

250g cream cheese

50g butter (softened)

2 cups icing sugar

1/4 cocoa powder

1.  Cream butter and cheese together in electric mixer until smooth and creamy (5-6 mins)

2.  Stir in sugar and cocoa and whip until smooth with no lumps.