Gooey Dark Brownies with Pistachio Praline

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Kitchen disasters always happen at the worst of times, this particular one happened after a week-long baking marathon; my teeth had grown sick of sugar and my hands were well and truly done with being buttered. I shan’t dwell on that though because A.) I love baking and B.) I got to make these AH-may-zing brownies and C.) I ate far too many for my own good.

Now brownies have a special place in my heart. Why I hear you ask?

Well I am the queen of under-baking (note baking – the only time I under cook things are veggie pasta bakes that I am just too hungry to wait until they crisp up; and that is all good!), it most definitely steams from far too many dry birthday cakes as a child – other kids obviously my mum made rocking birthday cakes. Because of this when I bake I just hang out in the kitchen watching the cake and painting my nails. Cakes never hurry up for me, they always take a bazillion times longer than the recommended time. This is where brownies become the saviour of the day, they relish the watch, sometimes it all happens so fast; if you’ve seen Masterchef you will know that you are only minutes away from over cooking.

These were for my pretty awesome boyfriend and they went down a treat! I made these at his house and forget he didn’t have a food processor so the praline was more crunchy bits of caramel than the smooth crunch of praline!

Dark Chocolate Brownies adapted from Joy the Baker
makes 24 brownies
200g unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
12 Tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter a 9×13-inch baking pan.  Line and butter the lining.  This will make brownie removal much easier.

Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.

Place butter and chopped chocolate in a medium-sized heat proof bowl.  Place the bowl over a pot of barely simmering water, being sure that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the boiling water.  Stir until chocolate and butter are completely melted.  Use pot holders to remove the bowl from over the boiling water. Lets mixture sit for a few minutes.Image

Meanwhile, in a medium-sized bowl, whisk together sugar, eggs and vanilla extract.  Whisk until pale and thick.  Pour the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture.  Whisk until completely incorporated.  Add the flour mixture all at once and whisk to incorporate.  Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.ImagePotentially review size of container for overflow, however if you do have overflow you can totally eat it, that’s cool.

Pistachio Praline

165g caster sugar
1/4 cup water
50g shelled pistachios

Combine sugar and water in a saucepan and stir over low heat to dissolve sugar. Increase heat and boil, without stirring, until mixture is a caramel colour. Pour into six 175mL ramekins.
Lightly toast nuts in a hot oven.
Remove caramel from heat once nuts are toasted.
When bubbles subside, carefully stir in nuts. Pour onto a greased baking tray, cool, break into pieces and grind finely in a food processor.
Add some vanilla gelato from Gelatissimo and you have an amazing dessert.
❤ Enjoy!
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Strawberry and Balsamic Cupcakes

I’d first like to point out that I got 99 problems, and they are all related to university.
Maybe that won’t rap so well. I’ll work on it, sorry Jay Z.

I made this for mother’s day; but let us be serious for a second, it’s an any time cake! I hope you made your mum something awesome; you should totally share your creations, sharing is caring.

The balsamic really tones down the frosting sweetness; which I love! I added a bit of pepper to the cake batter as well, which gives it a kick. Plus I don’t know whether I mentioned this – but I have a major pepper addiction, pepper and lemon. Pepper and lemon and strawberries! If I were making this again I would roast the strawberries for a while and drizzle them with lemon before straining them. But that’s just me.

I also seem to love strawberry and balsamic, remember the strawberry balsamic flatbread  made; I need to make that again!

Join me on a wonderful journey of strawberries; oh man strawberry journeys sound like the best.

Basic Vanilla Cake+ Pepper

I used a vanilla cake recipe from Bake by Alison Thompson
This produces a very cakey flavour, if that’s not what you’re into my next post will have a super light vanilla cake.

250 gr Unsalted Butter – I like to use B.D. Paris Creek Farms unsalted butter
250 gr Caster Sugar
2 Teaspoon of Vanilla Extract
5 Eggs – always use free range!
250 gr Self-raising flour (make sure your flour is in date, self-raising has rising agents that can go off – your cake won’t rise!)

Pre-heat the Oven to 160C and set out 24 cupcake papers.

Cream the butter sugar and vanilla together until creamy and pale; about 5 minutes.
Add the eggs one at a time; beating well after each addition. Sift in the flour and mix on low-speed until just combined; now is the time to add any flavourings.

Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve and divide equally between cupcake patty pans. Bake for 20 minutes.

Strawberry and Balsamic Frosting from Raspberri Cupcakes

150 gr (a little over half a punnet) ripe strawberries, hulled
280 gr (2.5 sticks) unsalted butter
500 gr icing sugar (about 4 cups), sifted
Approx. 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar, adjust to taste (I used a fantastic caramelised balsamic – a sweeter, thicker balsamic is preferable but any balsamic will do, just adjust to taste)

remove the butter from the fridge 30 mins before starting. Puree strawberries in a food processor or blender (if unavailable you can chop it up and try to mash it through a sieve). Place butter in a large mixing bowl and beat until smooth, fluffy and pale. While beating on medium, gradually add sifted icing sugar and then add the strawberry puree and balsamic vinegar (to taste) and beat on high until smooth and fluffy. You may need to add more puree or more icing sugar to get the right texture, you want it to be spreadable but not runny.

A Delicious Debate

Cookie debate, lavender and white chocolate v. Vanilla bean and white chocolate

I don’t really love macadamias. We tolerate each other. The main issue (with my life) is that white chocolate and macadamias are a pretty exclusive pairing when it comes to cookies, and whilst that is okay; it’s not perfect. Yep that’s the main issue!
Well that and how much glitter is too much?

It’s the big questions in life.

And by starts I mean everything starts with chocolate. The recipe however does not.

This is my search for perfection; after some research – browsing baking blogs and drooling over Martha Stewart- I narrowed it down to two flavour pairings:

  • Lavender and white chocolate
  • Vanilla bean and white chocolate

This base cookie is from my go-to lady when it comes to sugar, Joy the Baker. The base is browned butter which gives it a nuttiness that the crowd was split on. Some loved it, some thought it was overpowering.

Lavender won for me, however the crowds were again split.

The debate/recipe – based on Joy the Baker

113g butter
200g light or dark brown sugar, I used a mix about 75% dark, 25% light
25ml  milk
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
219 g all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8  teaspoon salt
165g white chocolate chunks I used Lindt Lindor White chocolate pieces roughly chopped.
2 Tablespoons of ground lavender OR 1 tablespoon of vanilla paste (equals one vanilla pod)

Place a heavy bottomed pan on a medium heat and chuck in the butter. Stir and swirl until the butter has melted and turned a nutty brown colour. Once browned take off the heat.

Whilst the butter is cooling measure out your dry ingredients. Place the sugar into a large mixing bowl and add the cooled sugar, stir until combined.
Add the egg and stir until just combined.
Add the milk and vanilla extract and stir again.

Scrape down the sides and then incorporate your dry ingredients mixing until just combined. Fold in your chocolate chips and ingredient of your choice. Go with lavender!

No wait vanilla.

I use a small ice cream scoop to get the cookies evenly shaped then press my thumb down to flatten them slightly. If you chill them before they go in the oven then wont spread as much! Bake at 180C for 15 minutes-ish, until golden and still soft in the middle. You want them to be fairly soft when you bring them out as they will continue cooking whilst they cool.

Next week I’m going in search of the chewiest cookie base around. And then adding white chocolate, lavender and vanilla!

Apple and Raspberry Crumble

Sorry totally took an unexpected one week breather from life, similar to the breather from the gym that I’ve taken; not sure when that one is ending though. Life is starting again today, that’s happening. I’m sure the unwillingness to do much is stemming from the fact I 100% have to get an injection next week; when I have to get them life seems to get put on hold and I become completely lethargic with refusal to do anything hard. If anyone knows good ways to overcome phobias that would be simply amazing!

I made this last week and it has sat on my laptop pretty much finished apart from the recipe down at the bottom. Pretty darn lazy I think.

Crumble was made for living in the moment, crumble and shots. Can they be combined? I think I’ll have to try. This crumble is delicious and jammy. Mega comfort food that tastes slightly more grown-up than your standard home-grown apple crumble because of the brandy. Have a shot of brandy on the side; live a little. Does anyone do shots of brandy? Is that a nanna thing?

Adapted from Jamie Olivers Great Britain cookbook

Ingredients
6 Medium Apples Peeled, cored and sliced into 10 (use a mix of apples)
100 grams of brown sugar
giant slug of brandy
1 nutmeg for grating
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
100 grams of Raspberries
Juice of one Orange

Crumble Topping
75 grams of Butter, chilled and cut into small cubes
100 grams of Plain Flour
100g of Demera Sugar
Zest of one Orange (perhaps the one you juiced before; zest it first though)

How-to-make-this:
Pre-heat oven to 180C/350F.
Cut each Apple roughly into about 10 pieces; they should be slightly larger than bite-size. Put the pieces into a large heavy bottomed pan over a medium heat. Add the brown sugar and cinnamon, grate over some nutmeg and add a good swig of brandy. Like a lot of brandy, you are making the sauce with this stuff!Cover with lid and stew for 5 minutes, or until fruit has started to soften. Remove lid and cook for another 5 minutes or so, until the sauce has thickened up a bit. When it’s good simply stir in the raspberries (or any soft berries of your liking; Jamie used blackberries) and take off the heat.

In a clean bowl, make your crumble topping by quickly rubbing the butter into the flour and sugar until you have fine crumbs – you can do this in a food processor, but I think it tastes better by hand – clean hand that is. Grate zest over and mix in carefully and set aside.

Pour the stewed fruit into an oven-proof dish and add the orange juice over the top, sprinkle over the crumble topping and put in hot oven for 50 minutes. Or until topping is lovely and golden. The smell that will fill your house is amazing. Serve warm with a good scoop of vanilla bean ice cream.