Kitchen Therapy


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Cast Iron Pan Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

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This week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe from Dorie Greenspan’s cookbook, Dorie’s Cookies is for Cast Iron Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars.
These are caramelised and crispy around the edges, soft and chewy in the centre.
The dried apricots soaked in hot water and the shredded moist coconut in the recipe add sweetness and depth of flavour.
It tastes like a wonderful chocolate chip cookie yet has the texture of a moist, chewy, muesli bar.
I found this playful and delicious.
The whole family loved this week’s recipe!
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It is the first day of school holidays for us here so I don’t expect these will last long in our house!
To see the rest of the group’s thoughts on this week’s recipes click here!

 


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Chocolate Brownies – Sebastian’s Remarkably Wonderful Brownies

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This week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe is Swedish Visiting Cake Bars.
I didn’t make these! I really wanted to.
They sound delicious.
And full of almonds.
I love almonds, however two out of my three children have a nut allergy.
Some nuts are absolutely no problem, like hazelnuts, which means Nutella is ok!
However almonds are not on our friendly nut list.
So I thought I’d take this opportunity to catch up on one of the recipes I have missed.

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I keep saying I’m not a fan of chocolate and then I choose the most chocolatey thing I can find to bake! Like the Chocolate, Prune and Whiskey Cake a couple of weeks ago.
Well this was just as decadent and rich as that cake. However while that cake bordered on bitterness from the chocolate, I found this tray of brownies waaaaayyy to sweet for me. The recipe does have 2 cups of sugar!
The family loved it however.
I made it mostly for them, they are all fans of chocolate.
For chocolate lovers this seemed to be a success!
I’m looking forward to seeing what everyone thought of their Swedish Visiting Cake Bars, now they are definitely more up my alley 🙂

 


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Chocolate, Prune and Whiskey Cake

IMG_7035.JPGThis cake is for grown ups.
It is rich, decadent and alcohol infused.
There is something about soaking dry fruit in liquor, and then having to wait until it becomes plump and moist, that excites me!
I’m not a big drinker, however my husband has an every growing scotch and whiskey collection that I’ve grown to enjoy the smell of.
The Macallan Edition No.2 Single Malt Scotch Whiskey caught my eye for this recipe as it was a limited edition release by Macallan Master Whiskey Blender Bob Dalgarno and the chefs behind El Celler de Can Roca, the 3 Michelin starred restaurant in Spain.
I can smell the fruity and even chocolatey notes in the alcohol and thought they would be wonderful paired with prunes in this cake.
(Having said that, the recipe calls for Irish whiskey so I’ve already strayed!)

The cake has almond flour so I decided to experiment (which I enjoy) and make a nut free version using plain flour, however I added my favourite bourbon for cooking, Maker’s Mark in this second version making it a Chocolate, Prune and Bourbon Cake.

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I think the psychologist in me revels when there’s any form of experimentation happening. I found it interesting that with time, the Macallan seemed to absorb the flavours of the prunes and they melded together to make me think of a Christmas Pudding. However the prunes with the Maker’s Mark smelled consistently of just the bourbon.
Both cakes came out of the oven at the 35 minute mark (which was the high end of the recommended cooking time) and in hindsight I think it would have been perfect to remove them 5 minutes earlier to get an even more gooey centre.
The result was a beautiful cake.
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Rich, dense, moist, decadent yet not overly sweet, in fact, most of the sweetness came from the alcohol infused prunes. Surprisingly, while the cake was definitely luscious and satisfying, it still left you wanting more, looking for another hit of sweetness and whiskey from the succulent prunes.

*I used Macallan Edition No.2 Single Malt Scotch Whiskey instead of the Irish Whiskey called for in the recipe.
*I made a second nut free version substituting plain flour for the almond flour, using the same amount of plain flour as almond flour.
*The second version I also used Maker’s Mark Bourbon to soak the prunes in, so technically making this a Chocolate, Prune and Bourbon Cake
*I’m including the recipe with my findings and my thoughts on the nut free version.

CHOCOLATE, PRUNE AND WHISKEY CAKE
from THE VIOLET BAKERY COOKBOOK by CLAIRE PTAK

125g prunes
40ml Irish whiskey (I used scotch whiskey in one version and bourbon in another)
240g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), chopped into small pieces
200g unsalted butter
5 eggs, separated
100g caster sugar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
150g almonds, ground (or 150g plain flour if making nut free version)
butter, for greasing the tin

1. Soak the prunes in whiskey, if you can do this the night before, all the better.
2. Peheat the oven to 180C/160C(fan).
3. Butter a 20-23cm cake tin and line with baking paper (I used a 21cm tin).
4. Put the dark chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and place over a pan of barely simmering water. Make sure the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl or it may spoil the chocolate. Once the chocolate has melted, take the pan off the heat to cool slightly but keep away from any draughts.
5. Put the whites and yolks into two separate bowls and, starting with the yolk, add half of the caster sugar and whisk to thicken.
6. Fold the thickened yolk into the melted chocolate and set aside.
7. Chope the prunes into eighths and add to the chocolate mixture along with the ground almonds (or plain flour if making a nut free version).
8. Beat the egg whites with the remaining caster sugar and the sea salt until soft peaks form.
9. Fold into the chocolate mixture until just incorporated.
10. Pour into the prepared cake tin and bake for 30-35 minutes. The cake will be slightly soft in the middle but do not overtake it or the gooeyness will be lost. (I cooked my 21cm pans for 35 minutes and the gooeyness was barely there so I recommend 30 minutes).
Serve warm or at room temperature.

CONCLUSION:
Straight from the oven, I was drawn to the nut free version as it seemed to be slightly sweeter. Both cakes are very rich and you are a left looking for some sweetness from the prunes to give you a break from the almost bitter richness of the chocolate.

The original almond version has more moisture and lushness on the tongue, and you can taste the ingredients individually. The almonds, the prunes and the alcohol hold their own integrity and can be tasted in each mouthful.

The nut free version has a more muddled taste. The texture is more dense and as it hits the mouth, it feels almost sticky. The flavours of the cake come next and they are more mild than the almond version and I think more child friendly. There is more sweetness and less of a hit from the alcohol. It’s as if the strong flavours in the cake have fused together and have taken the edge of each individual ingredient and melded into a very pleasant mouthful that is easier to eat than the almond cake that is more intense and has more of a slap to your face intensity!


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Cocoa Tahini Cookies with Sesame Crunches

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We moved house and have been living on take away food for a while now. The tradesmen have practically moved in with us. Every day I buy them pies for lunch and we sit together eating and chatting. The builder has connected my television, my washing machine, dishwasher and he brings me cakes from the Italian pastry shop near his home. My husband knows that I now refer to the builder as my other husband 🙂
We have been relying on Sara Lee (and the builder) for something sweet!

Finally the inside of the house is kind of, almost, pretty much finished.
And the weekend was cold, wet and extremely windy.
Perfect baking weather to try out my new kitchen (it’s a little empty at the moment!)
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I checked the Tuesdays with Dorie baking schedule and knew I had to make these cookies. I love sesame and tahini. I grew up eating halva and often dollop a spoonful (or two or three) of tahini on an apple or just straight into my mouth.

Making the Sesame Crunch was simple, the second time around. Amazing how quickly the sugar goes from light brown to bitter and burnt!
The rest of the cookie was quick and simple. I had all the ingredients I needed on hand.

The family loved these! I have to admit I was a little disappointed I couldn’t taste the sesame as much as I would have liked. They tasted like a chocolate biscuit with a bit of crunch. A very good chocolate biscuit. However I had my heart set on the nutty tahini flavour I loved and I was a little disappointed. The rest of the family were not! They loved the cookies. Maybe next time I will use less cocoa powder…

So good to back in the kitchen! My kitchen 🙂
Can’t wait to see what everyone from the Tuesdays with Dorie group thought of these!


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Betty’s Chocoholic Cake with Raspberry Filling

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This week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe was Betty’s Chocoholic Cake.
Wow! This was a hit with all the chocolate lovers in the family.
The cake is dense and rich, to me it tastes like 3 layers of brownies stacked on top of each other.
Which, according to the kids, is awesome!
Unlike the rest of my family however, I’m not that fussed on chocolate!
So I added a raspberry sauce between the three layers to break up the sweetness.
I blitzed 300g of raspberries, strained them them to remove all the hard bits and then boiled the raspberries with 1/4 cup of sugar and 1 tablespoon of cornflour.  I spread the sauce between the 3 layers and then covered the cake with Dorie’s chocolate ganache.

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I woke everyone early on the weekend and we headed to the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney and walked from Coogee beach to Bondi beach to try and work off some of the sugar from this cake 🙂
It’s a long and somewhat tough walk but it’s also really pretty so that makes it easier somehow!

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We then felt good about coming home and having more cake!
Looking forward to reading what the rest of the Tuesdays with Dorie group thought of this month’s recipes!

 


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Chocolate Pudding

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todd's 16th

This week my son turned 16!
His birthday falls at the end of the Easter two week school holidays.
On the first day of the school holidays he went to Chinatown in Sydney with his friends and had a great day at the markets and eating dumplings. The next day he started to feel unwell and a week later we found out he had salmonella poisoning. Luckily it wasn’t severe enough to send him to the hospital but it knocked him around for the entire 2 week school holiday break. He lost a few kilos that he really couldn’t afford to lose so I was excited to get him eating again!

He loves chocolate and I had planned to make this week’s Cook the Book Fridays recipe, the salted butter caramel-chocolate mousse for his birthday celebrations with the family. I left My Paris Kitchen open on the recipe page on the kitchen bench and everyone who walked past and saw the photo was excited! It looks amazing. The problem was that I realised the recipe required raw eggs. Normally I wouldn’t give this a second thought. However, after our salmonella experience I decided (reluctantly) that I just couldn’t take the risk. I broke the news to the family that I would not be making the mousse and my daughter thanked her brother for getting himself sick and “ruining everything”. (I don’t have siblings, I am an only child so I need my husband who is one of 4 boys to reassure me that this is normal!)

I decided to compromise (and I hope the group doesn’t mind) by finding a recipe from David Lebovitz for something similar. I couldn’t go past the Double Chocolate Pudding on his website!
In the past week I have made a double batch of the recipe 3 times. It was surprisingly silky and smooth but not overly sweet. The problem with this was that you could just keep eating it! The third time I made it first thing in the morning and took the photos before everyone came home from school, uni and work. It really was that good! It was also very quick and easy to make. So much reward for such little effort! I know I’ll be making it again… and again… and again 🙂
I know down the track I will make the salted caramel mousse, but for now I can’t say enough good things about David’s Chocolate Pudding!
I can’t wait to see how everyone went with this week’s Cook the Book Fridays group recipe!

 


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Hot Chocolate Panna Cotta

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This is the perfect summer dessert when you’re over summer and looking forward to cooler weather and the foods that go along with cooler temps, like hot chocolate!
This week’s Tuesdays with Dorie’s recipe tasted heavenly to me. It was cold, silky smooth and refreshing. At the same time there was no mistaking the flavours of a good hot chocolate.
It’s still summer in Australia and we have had temps that have sat around 30 degrees celsius (that’s mid to high 80’s in fahrenheit) or above, pretty much every day this month. It’s starting to wear thin! I’m ready for some diversity, a little bit of cool weather, maybe throw in some rain! Dorie’s recipe felt like it fit perfectly with where I am at. Hinting of cooler weather pleasures but satisfying the need for food that is still  cold and refreshing.
What we have been taking advantage of this summer are the long days. Going for walks at 7 and 8pm at night along Manly beach. The tourists have gone home for the day and the ocean breeze is a welcome relief. And it’s a great way to walk off all the desserts I’ve been enjoying from Baking Chez Moi!

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I am looking forward to reading what everyone else in the group thought of this dessert.
We decorated our hot chocolate panna cotta with cream and raspberries to make it look pretty for our dinner guests.
So the following day I made it again and I have to say, it doesn’t look as pretty, but I preferred it like this. The hot chocolate flavour was clear and the texture reminded me of the puddings my mum used to make for me when I was a little girl back in Yugoslavia.

 

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