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!

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Triple Chocolate & Kidney Bean Brownies

For my first recipe in 2012 I thought I would make it interesting, apparently there is a whole beans in baking ‘thing’ going on in America; so I thought I would hop on the bandwagon. I have a feeling Martha had something to do with this ‘thing’, this recipe originated from her via Joy and then I made a few tweaks.

This is one of those recipes that you read and you immediately start browsing the cupboards for ingredients. The only thing I didn’t have already was the black beans that the recipe called for, and I couldn’t find any, so I subbed in kidney beans. I was already feeling uneasy about this recipe and this change was adding to my unease.

The unease may have had something to do with the fact that I have never made brownies before, and you always hear horror stories of dry brownies, or brownies that actually make people hungrier; something about munchies… I don’t know. But these were a success! They worked out perfectly and I didn’t over cook them. In fact my sister ate three in a row, they were cut small, but we still judged. I won’t judge you though eat as many as you want. And they have less fat and more protein! Only slightly but still! Did mention they are delicious!

Recipe adapted from Joy the Baker

57 grams of unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the pan

85 grams of semisweet chocolate, chopped, I use 70% Lindt

57 grams of unsweetened chocolate, chopped, I use 85% Lindt

48 grams of kidney beans, rinsed, drained, and pureed until smooth in a food processor

299 grams of granulated sugar

2 large eggs plus 1 large egg white

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

125 grams of all-purpose flour

26 grams of unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

10ish white chocolate buttons, I use Cadbury’s white chocolate melts

walnut chunks and coarse sea salt for topping (optional)

Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 170 degrees Celsius.  Butter a 9-inch square baking pan and line with parchment paper, leaving 2-inches of overhang on all sides.  Butter and flour the parchment paper as well.

Fill a medium sauce pan with 2 inches of water.  Bring the water to a simmer.  Place butter, semi-sweet, and unsweetened chocolate in the bowl.  Place the bowl over simmering water and stir until chocolate and butter are melted and combined.  Remove the bowl from the simmering saucepan (the bowl might be hot!).

Allow the melted chocolate mixture to cool for a few moments.  Whisk in the eggs and white, one at a time, until mixture is glossy. Whisk in the sugar.  Whisk in the bean puree and vanilla extract.

In a small bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and sea salt.  Add the dry ingredients, all at once, to the chocolate mixture.  Break up the white chocolate and add to mix. Use a spatula and fold to incorporate.  Once thoroughly combined, pour the batter into the prepared pan.  Top with walnuts and sea salt, if using.

Bake brownies for 25-28 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out with just a few chocolate crumbs on it.  The center may seem undercooked, but it will cook further as it cools.  Brownies are better slightly underdone than overdone.

Let cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes.  Use the overhanging parchment paper to remove the brownies from the pan and slice.

Cut brownies into 9 or 12 generous pieces.  Store brownies, wrapped individually, at room temperature for up to 4 days. Mine did not last this long.

Macaron – attempt #1

Can you wink? Because I totally can’t, I look like a mentally ill turtle. It’s just another thing on the long list of things I can’t do; like roll my R’s, forward roll underwater and run a marathon.

I made these macarons; granted they’ve got nothing compared to mac factory or lindt. But they are better than some attempts i’ve seen.

They were cherry flavoured, because cherries are yum.

So that basically makes me Australia’s next top Masterchef as far as I’m concerned. Score!

There are lots of things that can go wrong with macarons, and basically it’s about having the ingredients as dry as possibly before starting, and all at the same temperature.

My macarons didn’t come out right, so I will persevere until they are perfect! No point posting a recipe that didn’t work; I have a feeling there was too much almond/sugar mix and it was too lumpy; more sifting!

DIY Advent Calendar

So I totally don’t have an advent calendar this year, but my mum did buy me 24 Lindt chocolates, which makes it almost okay (when will they make a nail polish advent calendar?). Also 24 is the perfect number of days between when I was given the Lindt, and my next day off. I’m kidding of course but Christmas is coming and this at least prepares me/lets me know what day it is.

To jazz up my little reindeer, snowmen and santas I added numbers; glittery numbers, because nothing says Christmas like glitter. And more importantly nothing else says “Wake up Rachel, you need to go to work. Here have this chocolate to eat because this has suddenly become a socially acceptable morning activity now it’s December” like glittery, numbered reindeer chocolate.

It’s actually really easy, next year I’m going to make little boxes I think! Unless those nail polish calendars are available, in which case it’ll be a month of me posting about different shades of polish.

Happy 2nd day of chocolate!