Kitchen Therapy


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Tiger Cakes

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In her book Baking Chez Moi, Dorie Greenspan describes these mini bite sized cakes as “…a traditional French pastry made with egg whites, almond flour and lots of butter. The addition of finely chopped chocolate that melts and stripes the little cakes explains their name.”

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That sums up nicely this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe!
The problem for me however was that two out of my three children have nut allergies.
So after a little bit of research, I substituted almond flour with coconut flour.
I had read that coconut flour absorbs a lot of moisture and can result in a dry and flaky end product.
Google had many suggestions on how to fix this little problem and to be honest the more I read, the more I felt overwhelmed with ratios, quantities of eggs and liquids etc to add moisture.
So I decided to keep it simple and keep the almond flour and coconut ratio the same, I replaced the cup of almond flour the recipe called for, with a cup of coconut flour.
I mixed the flour into the egg whites as the recipe instructed and then I added a cup of milk to the mixture before following the rest of the recipe as it is in the book.
My little cakes didn’t rise with baking and I was worried!
However I pulled them out and they turned out amazing.
The outside was firm and the inside was moist and delicious.
The family loved them and the only complaint I heard was “I can’t stop eating these!”
The boys in the family loved them dipped in chocolate, my daughter and I preferred the naked 🙂
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Nutella Buttons

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This week is catch up week for the Tuesdays with Dorie group. Which is great for me since I have a lot to catch up on! The Nutella Buttons were an easy choice. We are a Nutella loving family! My daughter turned 18 a few weeks ago and her friends arrived with a 5kg tub of Nutella.

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My husband is the only one who doesn’t like Nutella. He’s also the only one in the family who isn’t into superheroes and comic books. We don’t understand it but we love him nevertheless 🙂
So when completing this week’s recipe I took Dorie’s suggestion and filled some of these bite sized mini muffins with jam.

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It’s school holidays here so these didn’t last long. They were delicious!
Looking forward to reading the rest of the Tuesdays with Dorie posts.


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Mocha Choc-Chip Cookies

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It has been a long, long, while since I last posted.
I have missed everything that goes along with producing a new post.
The planning, the cooking, the photos and then putting it all together in some sort of presentable way!

At some point, I think I decided that since it had been so long since I had done anything, I needed to do something really great to make up for it. That didn’t work out so well for me… so I did more of nothing!

I became the poster child for procrastination.

Then Tuesdays with Dorie: Baking with Julia scheduled Mocha Choc Chip Cookies for this week’s recipe.

Simple.

And I realised that simple was exactly what I needed.

I put so much pressure on myself to come up with something amazing, I totally lost sight of the simple pleasures that make life special.

So on the weekend I took out my baking pans and started.
It had been so long, I actually felt a little anxious! Crazy, I know!

However, as I started mixing the dough I began to enjoy myself.

I decided to try a few different variations…

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…and as soon as I pulled out one batch of cookies, my daughter and her friends ate them hot out of the oven on their way to make a video for their homework.

The next batch my husband ate most of, on his own!

The final batch I had to rescue from my boys and their friends who were running in and out of the house.

So…

Choc Chip Cookies came to my rescue!

I can’t recommend these enough. For a sweet break (and for mental health)!

Please click over to Peggy at Galettista who has the full recipe on her site!

 


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Best Ever Brownies

Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t help think “best ever” claims just invite trouble!
I mean, we’re all different, with different taste and preferences…
It’s what makes life interesting.

However when it comes to these brownies, I kinda sorta feel the claim is justified.
These really were the best brownies I’ve ever had!
And I’m not even a chocolate lover.

I followed the recipe to the letter.
I knew these brownies were meant to be gooey and fudgey so I fought my natural inclination to keep cooking them until I felt comfortable.
I took a deep breath and removed them from the oven at 28 minutes.
I figured my husband and kids fight over cake batter, so barely baked brownies would not go to waste!

I did not expect to love these so much!
And we all agreed the wet gooey bits were far superior to the better cooked cakey edges.

I used 2 ounces of Cadbury Milk Baking Chocolate and 4 ounces of Lindt 70% cooking chocolate.
So I’m not sure if my milder, sweeter choice in chocolate made a big difference.
But I’ll be definitely making these again.
The entire tray was gone by the next day!

If you would like to try these for yourself, Monica from  A Beautiful Mess is this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie: Baking with Julia host and has the recipe available on her site!


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Chocolate Mousse

I like chocolate.
However I need my chocolate to be part of something bigger.
It can be the star of the show. Definitely.
But there needs to be a show. (No matter how small!)

I prefer it’s sweetness be offset with the tartness of fruit. Strawberries. Raspberries. Pineapple.
It’s texture elevated with the addition of nuts, coconut, honeycomb, popcorn.

I’ve come to believe my chocolate preferences are an extension of my personality.
The part of me that gets bored quickly.
The part that says too much of anything (even if it’s good), can become dull and monotonous.

My husband and daughter do not share my opinion.
To be honest they passionately disagree with me.

So for them, this dessert was perfect.
They thoroughly enjoyed it.

I on the other hand struggled.
I followed Dorie’s recipe and then promptly threw it out.
I did not like it! Actually none of us did.

I turned to my collection of cookbooks and searched the internet to see what I was doing wrong and how I could improve the flavour.

I noticed a few of the recipes had butter added to the melting chocolate and cream mixed into the final product.

I ended up following Dorie’s recipe and then adding the extra’s from Donna Hay’s recipe I found here.

My hybrid mousse was much nicer.
And the raspberries took the taste to another level.
Delicious!

I’m looking forward to reading what the rest of the French Fridays with Dorie group thought of this one!


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Banana Espresso Chocolate Chip Muffins

Winter is on it’s way out here in Sydney.
The days are getting longer and the temperatures are starting to average in the 20’s (degrees celsius that is).


I’m looking forward to summer fruits.
Peaches, nectarines and sweet juicy mangoes.
In the meantime, I’ve been using up left over bananas any chance I get to make banana bread.

I’ve experimented with recipes from Joy the Baker Cookbook, The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook, Home Baked Comfort William Sonoma and the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook to name just a few.

 

What can I say… we’ve eaten our way through a lot of banana bread!
We’ve had heated debates about which one is the best, we all have a favourite.
I’ve even gone as far as making each version a variety of ways, with nuts, with choc-chips, with both and even with bourbon (thanks to Joy the Baker)!

I’m going to go off an a tangent here so bear with me… I do have an important point!

Lately I’ve found myself with the usual crazy schedule of kid related events, like the book parade at my son’s school.

 

However, in addition to all the running around I’ve also had a string of frequent visitors stopping by for cups of tea and coffee! And because I’ve been running around more than usual, I’ve taken to stopping by a cupcake bakery store that’s just opened at our mall to grab something sweet for my guests and I to share while we chat!

Aren’t they just soooo pretty!

Now these are tasty cupcakes. Some more than others. But tasty nevertheless!

 

But as I was chatting away I couldn’t help but think how much I’d prefer to be eating the Banana Espresso Chocolate Chip Muffins that I had made the night before.

I went through a phase of making these on a very regular basis a few months ago, my daughter took them to school and she and her friends were absolutely obsessed with these and kept asking me to make more!

 

They come from one of my most flicked through books, Baked ‘New Frontiers in Baking’ by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito.

I cannot recommend these enough…

 

BANANA ESPRESSO CHOCOLATE CHIP MUFFINS 

 

1 1/2 cups mashed, very ripe bananas (about 4 medium bananas)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup whole milk
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder (sometimes I put up to 3 teaspoons, other times I just leave it out)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips (I use Cadbury Baking Chips and I can’t help wonder if this is what takes them to the next level irresistibility!)

 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (or 180 degrees Celsius).
Spray a 12-cup muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, stir together the bananas, sugars, butter, milk and egg.

In a another medium bowl, whisk together the flour, instant espresso powder, baking soda, and salt. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients. Pour the wet ingredients into the well and stir until just combined. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Fill each cup about three-quarters full. Bake in the centre of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centre of a muffin comes out clean.

Move the muffin pan to a cooling rack, and let cool for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, remove the muffins from the pan and let them finish cooling on the cooling rack.

 

Muffins can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

These are honestly amazing!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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The Pioneer Woman’s Knock You Naked Brownies

Every three or so months my husband and I book flights to Melbourne and run away for the weekend.


The first time we went was about 2 years ago.
I spent the first trip tormenting myself for leaving the kids with their grandparents.
The two nights however went by quickly and we were home before I knew it.
I rushed home to find three very happy kids who had clearly spent a great weekend being over indulged by their doting grandparents.
Hmmm….
Clearly I needed to get a more realistic perspective on my kids’ resilience.
So when my husband and I booked our next trip to Melbourne, I was in a much better place and ready to actually  give relaxing a go!
This time I did start to relax… on the day we were scheduled to fly back home to Sydney.
It’s many trips down the track now and I can honestly say these day I switch into ‘Melbourne’ mode the minute we start our drive to the airport. By the time we land in Melbourne, I can feel the tension leaving my body and as we sit down to lunch at our favourite restaurant, Movida, I’m feeling giddy with joy!

We are like two teenagers as we choose dishes we want to eat!
We don’t have to try and find things that the kids might like, we can actually choose dishes with chillies and strange sounding names and ingredients! We giggle with excitement!

We then walk over to my favourite cake shop for dessert…

Before heading out to the sea-side town of St Kilda to check into our hotel. I open the curtains, we take in the views and do absolutely nothing! Nothing! We talk, read and relax until dinner.
Then we get dressed and walk down to St Kilda’s main street for dinner.
And we get to walk past Luna Park without arguments and tears about why we can’t go inside!

So. What does all this have to do with brownies?

The thing about living in Australia is that there are many recipes I see online or in books that have ingredients I can’t find here. I’ve found some after a lot of searching in specialty shops and I’ve managed to substitute others with what we have available here. However, in the back of my mind is a list of ingredients I’m always on the lookout for.

Melbourne is known for it’s shopping and it’s amazing restaurants. So I’ve always thought if I’m going to find these ingredients anywhere, it will be here in Melbourne.

And I was right!!!

A few months ago, I was looking for a brownie recipe to use up my stock of chocolate I had built up over time.
I came across The Pioneer Woman’s Knock You Naked Brownies.
Now these weren’t going to solve my chocolate stock problems as they were made with a German Chocolate Cake Mix, but they looked so good I couldn’t get them out of my mind. I went straight to our local Woolworths supermarket, and of course, there was no German Chocolate Cake Mix. I was tempted to substitute with a plain chocolate cake mix but I remembered Ree Drummond emphasising the importance of using the German Chocolate Mix.
Aghhhh!
So another ingredient went on my list of things to keep a lookout for.

Until last weekend that is!
I have now crossed German Cake Mix off my list! Yay!
I found it in Melbourne and couldn’t wait to come home and make Ree’s brownies!
I had my son and four of his friends running in and out of the house with skateboards and soccer balls.
Then my daughter  sent me an SMS on her way home from school asking if 5 of her friends could come over and hang out at our house since it was Friday.
Sure! Yeah! Whatever!!
I was making Knock You Naked Brownies!

I really wanted the kids to enjoy these so I left the nuts out of the recipe.
And I have to say these really are a knock out.

My husband ate them hot out of the oven. He ate them cold out of the fridge before I had the chance to dust them with icing sugar and cut them. And as we ran the kids to soccer, netball, umpiring duties, parties and get togethers he sent me texts to tell me he just ducked home and ate more brownies and that I was never, EVER allowed to make these again because he can’t stop eating them!

I cut them into bite size pieces and I left them on the kitchen bench. I have to say I like them best at room temperature. The plate is almost empty now. Less than 24 hours since I made them.

I think that says it all!

If you want to check out The Pioneer Woman’s photos (which are way better than mine!) and the recipe, just click here!