chocoholic

Brown Butter, Pecan and White Chocolate Brownies (GF)

If you do one thing this weekend, make these brownies; with brown butter delivering a deep nutty flavour, pecans adding a welcome crunch and dark brown sugar leaving you with a molasses hit, they 100% deliver on flavour and texture and are perhaps the most delicious brownies I’ve made to date (drops mic) (cringes).

Ingredients (makes 9-12 brownies)

  • 250g butter, cubed
  • 250g dark chocolate
  • 100g dark brown soft sugar
  • 100g golden caster sugar
  • 3 eggs, plus 1 egg yolk
  • large pinch sea salt
  • 100g gluten free plain flour (I used Doves Farm)
  • 100g chopped pecans
  • 75g chopped white chocolate
  • 75g chopped milk chocolate

Method (makes 9-12 brownies, depending on how hungry you are)

1) Preheat the oven to 180c. Grease and line a 22x22cm brownie tray.

2) Place the cubed butter in a saucepan and melt over a medium heat. Once completely melted, up the heat and allow the butter to foam until it smells nutty and reaches a deep golden colour. At this stage, remove from the heat and add in the chopped dark chocolate. Let it sit for a couple of minutes then stir briefly to create a smooth glossy mix. Set aside to cool a little.

3) While the chocolate mixture cools, place the sugars, salt, eggs and egg yolk in a stand mixer (or in a large bowl) and beat until very light and voluminous (it will pretty much double in size). This stage is well worth the effort- it will give you that classic cracked top.

4) Once the egg mixture is ready, pour the chocolate mix down the side of the bowl and fold in using a large metal spoon. Add the gluten free flour and do the same until you have a smooth, lump free batter. Now add the chocolate chunks and pecans and stir through to evenly distribute.

5) Tip the mix into the prepared tin and level off. Bake for 25-30 minutes.

6) When it’s ready, the brownie will have a flaky crisp top but will still be gooey and moist on the inside. Set aside to cool (completely) in the tin then remove, slice up and serve.

 

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Tahini & Pistachio Brownies

First off, apologies for the brief recipe hiatus. I’ve recently moved house and have been trying to figure out the perfect temperature to bake with in my new (incredibly retro) gas oven. And no, it’s not been as simple as converting degrees to gas marks- this oven has its own special way of working (i.e. it’s lukewarm for the majority of settings until the last when it turns into Mordor and burns everything in sight). Anyway I think I’ve cracked it now, so here’s my first recipe a la 1980s oven; tahini and pistachio brownies. They’re really simple to make but deliver everything you’d expect from a really good brownie- a dense, moist texture with added crunch from the pistachios and a deep indulgent chocolate flavour, which is definitely enhanced by the slightly salty, nutty pockets of tahini and halva.

Ingredients

  • 250g good quality dark chocolate
  • 250g unsalted butter
  • 250g golden caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • generous pinch sea salt
  • 150g plain flour
  • 100g milk chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 50g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 75g chopped pistachios
  • 100g halva, crumbled
  • 100g tahini, well stirred

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c. Grease and line a 22x22cm brownie tray.
  2. Place the dark chocolate and the butter in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of simmering water (don’t allow the water to touch the base of the bowl or the chocolate will burn). Melt gently, stirring occasionally, then set aside to cool a little.
  3. In a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer) whisk together the golden caster sugar and eggs until pale and voluminous (about 3-5 minutes). Fold in the cooled chocolate mixture followed by the sea salt and flour. Add the milk chocolate and dark chocolate chunks and most of the pistachios (reserve a few for sprinkling on the top) then stir.
  4. Tip half the brownie mix into the prepared tin then dollop over half the tahini and sprinkle on half the halva. Top with the rest of the brownie mix and repeat, then finish with the reserved pistachios.
  5. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the middle is almost set but retains a slight wobble. Set aside to cool completely in the tin.
  6. Once cooled, slice up and serve.

Dark Chocolate and Salted Tahini Cookies

Tahini, a thick sesame paste commonly used in Middle Eastern cooking, is my go to ingredient for when I want to  add a deep, nutty and slightly bitter flavour to a dish. I don’t usually think of incorporating tahini into my baking (for some unknown reason), and more often than not I’ll just pop it into baba ganoush, add it into a yoghurt dressing or drizzle it neat over slow cooked lamb and roasted roots to balance out a sweet date syrup glaze. This being said, yesterday I fancied making some cookies (someone put a stop to my wild and spontaneous lifestyle please…) and decided to bring tahini into the mix alongside sea salt and rich dark chocolate- the major players in my cookie game. The resulting cookies are absolutely delicious with a good balance of sweet, savoury, nutty and salty flavours; one hundred percent give the recipe a go, it’s a real winner.

Ingredients

  • 115g tahini
  • 110g unsalted butter
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 150g dark brown soft sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2tsp sea salt
  • 300g plain flour
  • 300g coarsely chopped dark chocolate, plus 50g extra for decoration (optional)
  • 2tbsp toasted sesame seeds (optional)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c. Line 3 large baking trays with greaseproof paper.
  2. Place the butter, tahini and both sugars in a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer) and beat until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition. If the mix curdles or you’re worried about curdling, add 2tbsp of the flour with each egg.
  3. Once the eggs are well incorporated add the bicarbonate of soda, salt and flour then mix to combine. Finally, add in the coarsely chopped chocolate and very briefly mix once more just to distribute through the dough.
  4. Pop the dough in the fridge for half an hour to firm up a little, then line even balls onto the prepared trays leaving room for spreading (I like to use an ice cream scoop for this). Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the edges of the cookies are turning a light golden colour but the middles are still very soft (they will firm up during cooling).
  5. To finish the cookies melt the additional dark chocolate and drizzle over the tops, then sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.

Enjoy!

Hazelnut Latte Eclairs

Everyone loves a chocolate eclair, and these Starbucks inspired ones (filled with coffee cream, dipped in milk chocolate and topped with a strip of dark chocolate and hazelnut praline) make a nice seasonal change from the usual vanilla cream variety.

eclair-1

Ingredients:

  • 3 eggs
  • 85g butter
  • 220ml water
  • 105g plain flour
  • 100ml strong black coffee, cold
  • 2 tbsp light brown soft sugar
  • 300ml double cream
  • 100ml mascarpone
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar
  • 100g hazelnuts
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 100g milk chocolate
  • 100g dark chocolate

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200c. Line 2 large baking trays with greaseproof paper. Sieve the flour twice to ensure there are no lumps then pour onto a square of greaseproof (this means it is ready to tip straight into the choux when you need it!).
  2. Place the butter and water in a saucepan. Heat gently until the butter has melted then bring to a boil. Once boiling, remove from the heat and immediately shoot in all the flour. Stir very quickly for about a minute until the mixture is shiny and coming away from the sides of the pan. Now tip into a large bowl and spread thinly to speed up cooling.
  3. Once the choux mixture (called a panade at this egg-less stage!) has cooled to room temperature it’s time to add the eggs. Whisk the eggs in a jug to break them up then pour 1/4 into the bowl. Whisk with electric beaters to fully incorporate, then keep adding  a little more and whisking until you reach a dropping consistency (this means the mixture should fall off a spoon when shaken after about 4 seconds). You might not need all the egg.
  4. Pile the choux into a piping bag and pipe 5 inch lines onto the prepared sheets (leaving space for expansion). Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden then pierce each eclair with a skewer, reduce the temperature to 180c and bake for a further 10 minutes to dry out. When they’re ready they should be crisp and nicely browned. Cool on a wire rack while you make the fillings and toppings.

eclair-2

  1. For the coffee cream, heat the brown sugar and coffee together then set aside to cool.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together the mascarpone, cream and icing sugar until thick. Fold in the coffee mix when it’s cooled completely.
  3. For the hazelnut praline, place the sugar and nuts in a small saucepan. Stir occasionally to encourage the sugar to melt then take it to a deep golden colour. Pour onto greaseproof  paper, leave to harden then break into pieces or smash into a dust (depending on your decorating ideas!).
  4. For the chocolate topping simply melt the milk chocolate and allow it to cool. If you’d like to recreate the chocolate strip just melt and set the dark chocolate on a flat surface in the fridge, then slice into your desired shapes.
  5. To assemble the eclairs, slice them in half and fill with the coffee cream, dip in the melted chocolate and decorate with the set dark chocolate and praline.

Enjoy!

Chocolate Oreo Celebration Cake

Chocolate seems to be dominating my blog recently, so before I break from that theme to enter other territories I thought I would share my Oreo chocolate cake recipe. It’s made up of three chocolate fudge cake layers which are sandwiched between chocolate ganache, slathered in Oreo cookie frosting and topped with chocolate drips and Oreo cookies. Make it for your next special occasion and your guests will be forever grateful (if a little heavier…).

Ingredients (the quantities might sound like a lot- but this is a big old cake!):

  • For the cake: 400g plain flour, 450g caster sugar, 125g cocoa powder, 3tsp baking powder, 3tsp bicarbonate of soda, 4 eggs, 350ml milk, 225ml vegetable oil, large pinch salt, 300ml boiling water
  • For the ganache: 300g milk chocolate, 200ml double cream
  • For the Oreo frosting: 300g butter, 800g icing sugar, 3tbsp milk, 1 pack oreos (crushed into crumbs)
  • For the drips: 100g dark chocolate, 120ml double cream

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c then grease and line three 8 inch cake tins.
  2. Place your plain flour, caster sugar, cocoa powder, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl and stir briefly to combine.
  3. In a jug, mix together the eggs, milk and oil. Make a well in the bowl of dry ingredients and pour in the wet. Whisk together until smooth, then measure out your boiling water. Add the boiling water in a few additions, carefully mixing to distribute it through the cake mix. It will be very runny, but this is what makes the cake so moist. Once smooth, pour the batter into the three cake tins and bake for 30-35 minutes. Once baked, leave to cool completely.

  1. While the cakes are cooling make the chocolate ganache. Finely chop the milk chocolate and place in a bowl. Heat the cream until nearly boiling then pour straight over the chopped chocolate and allow to melt. Stir until smooth then set aside to cool.
  2. Now make the buttercream. Place the butter in a large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer) and whisk (using electric beaters) until pale and thick. Add the icing sugar in additions and keep beating until it becomes white, light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Now add the Oreo crumbs and milk. Whisk again to combine then adjust the consistency by adding a drop more milk if necessary. Set aside.
  3. Make the chocolate ganache for the drips now, to allow cooling/ thickening time. This ganache should be runnier than your filling you’ve already made.  As before, heat the cream and pour all over the chopped dark chocolate. Mix until smooth then set aside until it reaches a thick but still pourable consistency.
  4. Now it’s time to assemble your cake! Layer up the chocolate sponges with milk chocolate ganache (and a little Oreo frosting too, if you like!) then coat the whole cake in a thin layer of the Oreo frosting (a crumb coating). Chill for 10 minutes, then use the remaining frosting to create a thick outer layer. Smooth down with a palette knife and cake scraper. Chill again to firm the edges, then pour the runny dark chocolate ganache over the top, allowing it to drip down the sides.
  5. Now you can garnish with more Oreos and serve!

Willie’s Cacao: Orange Blossom and Chocolate Melting Moments

If you’re a frequent reader of this blog, you may well have noticed that my recipes tend to be a little chocolate heavy (it is my vice- I can’t help it). With this in mind, I thought it would be interesting to team up with quality chocolate makers Willie’s Cacao to create a few recipes using different ‘single estate’ bars. By doing this I want to show how different beans create different flavours in chocolate, which in turn taste best when paired with specific ingredients and foods- as with grapes in fine wines.

Willie Harcourt Cooze, founder of Willie’s Cacao, focuses on ‘single estate’ cacao; what this means is that each bar is made from beans grown in one very carefully selected location (whether that be Peru, Venezuela or Cuba etc), instead of beans of various origins going into the same chocolate. The company work in this way to highlight how growing beans in varying climates and soils result in contrasting flavoured bars.

Having experimented with three of their chocolates, I have created three recipes in which the taste of the specific cacao is (hopefully)  highlighted by my choice of flavour pairings. This experimentation has made me realise how important it is to do your research when it comes to chocolate (and any ingredients really), as these bakes have a great depth of flavour I have never achieved before with chocolate based baking.

BISCUIT 3 USE

My first recipe is for these orange blossom and chocolate melting moments. For these I used the Colombian Los Llanos single estate bar- it has fruity and floral notes so really works with the orange centre. They are made up of two buttery chocolate biscuits, a delicious chocolate ganache and an orange blossom and fresh zest buttercream.

INGREDIENTS (makes 8-10 sandwich biscuits)

For the biscuits: 175g soft butter, 60g icing sugar, 60g corn flour, 20g cocoa, 150g plain flour

For the ganache: 50g 70% Colombian Los Llanos chocolate (or another good quality dark chocolate), 50g double cream

For the orange blossom centre: zest 1 orange, 1tsp orange blossom extract, 65g soft butter, 150g icing sugar

BISCUIT 1 USE

METHOD

Preheat the oven to 160c (fan) and line 2 baking trays with greaseproof paper.

For the biscuits, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Sift in the cornflour, cocoa and plain flour then very briefly mix until smooth and combined. The less handling the biscuits have, the more buttery and crumbly they will be.

Once the dough is combined, take 1tbsp pieces and roll into balls, then line onto the prepared trays (with a little space between each). When all the dough has been used, press down on the balls with the back of a fork to create the line pattern. Chill for 10 minutes in the fridge.

Once chilled, bake for 10-12 minutes, then cool on a wire rack.

Meanwhile, make the fillings. For the ganache, grate the chocolate into a bowl. Heat the cream until almost bubbling then pour over the chocolate. Leave to melt for a couple of minutes then stir to combine. Set aside to cool.

For the orange buttercream, beat the butter and icing sugar until light and fluffy then add the zest and extract. Stir to combine.

Fill two piping bags- one with the ganache and the other with the buttercream.

Once the biscuits are cool pipe a ring of ganache around the outer edge then fill the centre with the orange buttercream. Place another biscuit on top to create a sandwich and repeat the process until all the biscuits have been used up.

Enjoy!

BISCUIT 2 USE

I hope you like these biscuits and find cacao as interesting as I do. Look out for two more chocolate recipes this week and do give them a try, I’m really pleased with the results!

Peanut Butter and White Chocolate Cookies

These take no time to make and are my personal guilty pleasure; you can’t beat a chewy peanut butter cookie studded with white chocolate chips!

DSCN9238

For these cookies you will need: 260g plain flour, 1tsp bicarbonate soda, pinch salt, 80g butter, 80g peanut butter, 150g dark brown soft sugar, 150g caster sugar, 1 egg, 1 egg yolk, 250g white chocolate chips (or white chocolate roughly chopped)

Preheat the oven to 180 and line 2 baking trays with greaseproof paper.

Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt and caster sugar into a large mixing bowl.

Melt the butter, peanut butter and dark soft sugar in a saucepan. Allow to cool a little then add the egg yolk and egg. Whisk together until smooth.

Add the egg and butter mix to the dry ingredients and stir thoroughly to form a soft but firm cookie dough. Mix through the white chocolate evenly.

Roll heaped tbsp amounts of the dough into balls and place onto the prepared trays, ensuring that you leave space for spreading.

Bake for 10-15 minutes for a soft chewy centre. They will be very soft when you remove them from the oven so leave on the tray for a little while to allow them to firm up before eating!

Enjoy!

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