Chocolate Biscotti 


For those who don’t know Biscotti are Italian biscuits originating in the city of Prato. They are twice-baked, oblong-shaped, dry, crunchy, and nice to have with a cuppa. This was my first attempt at making them and as you’d expect there were a few hiccups. The recipe I used is from a book titled “Taste Chocolate.”

I had to do a few things differently to the recipe so my alterations will be in bold.

Anyway, here goes:

Ingredients 

120g (3/4 C) hazelnuts 

350g (2 3/4 C) plain all purpose flour

A pinch of salt

2 tsp baking powder 

60g (1 C) cocoa powder

1 tsp vanilla extract

220g (1 C 2 Tbsp) brown sugar

5 small eggs

50g (1/3 C) pistachios, shelled

75g (1/2 C) raisins or dried cranberries

1/2 tsp lemon zest, finely grated.

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius.

2. Toast the hazelnuts in a dry non-stock pan, stirringly constantly. Take off the heat when the skins of the hazelnuts crack. Place in a paper towel and allow to steam for a minute or two. Rub the hazelnuts in the paper towel until all skin is removed.

3. Pour the flour into a large bowl, add the salt, baking powder, cocoa, and sugar and mix well. Make a well in the middle, add the eggs and vanilla into the well and mix until a smooth dough forms. Knead in the hazelnuts, pistachios, raisins (I used cranberries) and grated lemon peal. 

4. Shape the dough in a roll approximately 60 cm thick.

5. Place on a baking tray lined with baking paper and press the dough flat, until it is 3-4 cms in height. Bake on the bottom shelf for about 20 minutes, or until firm to touch.

6. Take out of the oven, remove the baked roll from the baking tray and place on a chopping board. 

7. In roughly 7 minutes, or when the dough is no longer to hot to cut without crumbling, slice the roll at a slight angle into approximately 2-3 cm slices using a serrated knife. 

8. Lay the slices on the baking tray and bake for a further 4-5 minutes on each side or until the centre is dried out. Leave to cool.

The main reason I had to alter the recipe so much is that it was quite brief in parts and I found myself having to look up how to do things online. The mixture also didn’t seem to bind using only 3 eggs, possibly because the recipe required the use of large eggs, but this was not specified. Instead I used 5 small and a little bit of water to get the dough to the right consistency. 

Anyway, it did end up resembling Biscotti, but it wasn’t completely dry in the centre, so you could say it was semi-successful. I think next time I will just use a well trusted Italian recipe. 

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Maltesers Cake

This is my first attempt at a cake with layers of buttercream that I made for my brother as an early birthday present. The recipe is relatively simple and quite tasty, if I do say so myself. It’s from a book titled taste BAKE: your all-time favourites cookbook. 

The only issue I had was with cutting the layers of cake, the top layer crumbled a bit, possibly as it was too hot when I cut it. I also used a baking pan that was 21 cm in diameter, rather than 20 cm, which meant I couldn’t have 4 layers as the recipe called for. In saying that, I thought 3 layers worked fine.

So here’s the recipe:

Ingredients

200g (1 cup, firmly packed) brown sugar

185ml (3/4 cup) milk

125g butter, chopped

115g (3/4 cup) self-raising flour

75g (1/2 cup) plain flour

50g (1/2 cup) cocoa powder

3 eggs, lightly whisked

185g butter, extra, at room temperature

345g (2 1/4 cups) icing sugar mixture

95g (3/4 cup) malted milk powder

1 tablespoon milk, extra

465g Maltesers

GANACHE

300g dark cooking chocolate, finely chopped

125ml (1/2 cup) thickened cream

30g butter

Method

Step 1

Preheat oven to 160C. Grease a 20cm round cake pan with butter. Line base and side with baking paper.

Step 2

Place the brown sugar, milk and butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Cook in microwave on high, stirring every minute, for 4-5 minutes or until the butter melts and the mixture is smooth.

Step 3
Use a balloon whisk to whisk the combined flour and cocoa powder into the butter mixture. Whisk in the egg. Pour into the prepared pan. Bake for 55 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Set aside in the pan for 5 minutes to cool before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Step 4

To make the ganache, place the chocolate, cream and butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Cook in microwave on high, stirring every minute, for 2-3 minutes or until the chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth.

Step 5

Use an electric beater to beat the extra butter in a bowl until pale and creamy. Beat in the icing sugar, malted milk powder and extra milk until fluffy. Beat in 1 1/2 tablespoons ganache.

Step 6

Set the remaining ganache aside for 1 hour 30 minutes or until thick, glossy and spreadable.

Step 7

Meanwhile, use a large serrated knife to cut the cake horizontally into four layers. Place the cake base on a platter. Spread with one-third of the icing. Continue layering with the remaining cake and icing, finishing with cake. Cover and place in the fridge for 1 hour 30 minutes to chill.

Step 8

Spread the ganache evenly over the top and side of the cake. Decorate with Maltesers.

“It was delicious but it wasn’t from Malta… 9/10”-Angus Leslie (Aka the brother) 

Apple and Cinnamon Bread and Butter Pudding 

So my mum suggested I make a bread and butter pudding to use up the little scraps of bread in our freezer, and I couldn’t have come by an easier recipe. It’s very simple to make, and is also for the most part, reasonably heathy. The addition of apples to such a classic dessert is a wonderful idea as it sweetens it without the need for excess amounts of sugar. I also like the fact that the apple has a slightly chewy texture, which contrasts with the pudding-like bread. 
For the original recipe go to:

http://www.healthyfoodguide.com.au/recipesm/2011/june/apple-cinnamon-bread-and-butter-pudding
The only thing I did differently was in regards to cooking time, so here’s my ever so slightly different version:

Ingredients

cooking oil spray 

2 tablespoons brown sugar 

2 medium apples, peeled, cored, thinly sliced 

8 slices bread, crusts removed 

2 1/2 cups skim milk 

2 teaspoons vanilla essence 

3 eggs 

2 teaspoons grated lemon zest 

1 teaspoon cinnamon 

2 tablespoons white sugar 

Method

1. Preheat oven to 160°C. Lightly spray a 6-cup capacity ovenproof dish with oil.

2. Combine brown sugar and 1 tablespoon water in a medium frying pan over low heat. When sugar is dissolved, add apple slices, stir and cover. Simmer for 5 minutes, or until apples are tender.
3. Cut bread slices in half and arrange bread and apples in alternate layers in baking dish.
4. Place milk, vanilla, eggs, lemon zest, cinnamon and white sugar into a bowl and whisk well to combine. Carefully pour over bread and apples. Sprinkle with a little extra white sugar. Cook for 50 minutes, until cinnamon mixture is set.
And for any ones whose interested…

Nutrition Information

Kilojoules 892kJ

Calories 213cal

Protein 10.1g

Total fat 3.6g

Saturated fat 1g

Carbohydrates 34.6g

Sugars 20.4g

Dietary fibre 2.3g

Sodium 249mg

Calcium 187mg

Iron 1.3mg

Turkish Pistachio Shortbread 

I made these today for some guests and I am very pleased with the outcome. While the recipe ended up making 100 not 50 shortbread biscuits, the taste made up for the endless dough rolling. I also love the cute design of the biscuits. So, without further ado, here is the recipe from Anissa Helou’s “Sweet Middle East”: 

Ingredients

1/3 cup (50g) hulled unsalted pistachios

1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp (150g) unsalted butter, at room temperature 

1 1/3 cups (150g) confectioners’ sugar

3/4 cup (180ml) sunflower oil

1 large egg, at room temperature 

5 Tbsp (50g) cornstarch

3 1/2 cups plus 2 Tbsp (575g) unbleached all-purpose flour 

Method 

1. Set aside 50 pistachios to use as garnish. Using a small food processor or spice grinder, finely grind the remaining pistachios.

2. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celscious. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. 

3. Using an electric mixer, blend the butter and confectioners’ sugar until very smooth. Add the sunflower oil and egg and mix well. Add the cornstarch and ground pistachios and combine. Finally, add the flour and mix until you have a smooth dough. 

4. Pinch off enough dough to roll into a ball the size of a walnut. Place on the prepared baking sheet, flattening the dough slightly. Spike a pistachio in the middle. Repeat with the remaining dough.

5. Bake until done. It not coloured, 15 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an artight container, in a cool place, for up to 1 week.

The Exhibition 

So I just thought I’d do a post of what I ended up making for the pottery exhibition. I’ve made the butterfly cakes before, except this time I made them smaller. The passionfruit melting moments haven’t featured on my blog before but I’m afraid the recipe is top secret, handed to me by a patisserie chef in kangaroo valley. Anyway, it was all worth it because I got given some of my grandad’s gorgeous pottery at the end. 

Gingerbread Mugs 

So I made these yesterday for my grandad’s pottery exhibition that will be taking place this weekend, as gingerbread tends to last a week. It uses the same recipe as was used to make the gingerbread house for Christmas last year, expect I halved the quantities. To get a mug shape I used a hand-drawn template and cut the gingerbread using the template. Alternatively you could print a picture of a mug off from online, or if you’re lucky, find a cutter that is the desired shape.

Here is the recipe:

Makes roughly 60 mugs

Ingredients

188g (not exactly half but close enough) unsalted butter

150g dark muscovado sugar

75g golden syrup

450g plain flour 

1/2 tbsp bicarbonate soda

1 tbsp ground ginger

Icing

1 1/2 egg whites

338g icing sugar, sifted 

1 1/2 tsp lemon juice

Method

1 Heat the oven to 200C / fan 180C / gas 6. Melt the butter, sugar and syrup together in a large pan. Sieve the flour, bicarbonate of soda and ground ginger together in a large bowl and make a well. Pour in the melted butter mixture, stir it in and when cool enough to handle, knead to a stiff dough.

2. Divide the mixture into 4 balls and cover in cling wrap to prevent dough from drying out. Unwrap one ball and roll to a thickness of about 5 mm between two sheets of baking paper. 

3. Using a template or cutter, make as many mugs as possible, removing any leftover dough and keeping it for later. To avoid the dough stretching due to being moved onto a tray, simply use the bottom layer of baking paper used to roll out the dough for baking (I.e lift it off the bench top and place it on the tray, rather than moving each individual mug). 

4. Bake for 7 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Over cooking the biscuits will cause them to be crunchy. 

5. Repeat process until all dough is used, even the excess from each ball of dough that has been rolled out. Allow to cool on wire racks. 

6. For the icing, whisk the egg whites in a large bowl until frothy. Using a wooden spoon or a hand held electric mixer on slow speed, add the icing sugar a tablespoonful at a time. Stir in the lemon juice and beat the icing until it is very stiff and white and stands up in peaks. Cover the surface with a damp cloth if not using immediately.

7. Pipe a white outline using a small circular nozzle on each mug.

With the piping, I piped on a handle rather than cutting out a handle before baking. This is because the dough spreads a little in the oven and the handles are likely to fall off, as they are weak structurally. If the mugs were larger a hole could be cut out for the handle.

Gluten-free Brownies


I made these the other day for David’s pottery exhibition, and I must say for a gluten free brownie they tasted pretty bloody good. They require exactly the same recipe that was used for the classic chewy brownies below, except the 110g of almond meal replaces 115g of flour. The almond meal gives it a slightly nutty taste, which I quite like.