On to the plate

Experimenting with flavours, colours and style of food served at our place


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Valentine’s Day dessert – early

Chocolate Hearts

Chocolate Transfer sheets used to fancy up the decorations

I’ll be travelling from Hamilton on Valentine’s Day. We’re going out for dinner on Saturday, but I wanted to make something nice for Mr Fussy.

Mr Fussy and his “resolution” didn’t want cake. I found a compromise. There’s cake, but it’s not covered in fondant and dressed up prim and proper. Instead this is a dessert, which has cake, and is similar to the Devils Dream Cake, Mr Fussy’s dessert of choice from Strawberry Fare (where we’re dining on Saturday).

This is my Valentine’s Day special dessert, made and served yesterday for some of my favourite people, Mum, Yvonne and my MIL, and of course, my wonderful husband, the love of my life.

For my Valentine

Layered dessert, all but the chocolate sauce.

For a few weeks now I’ve wanted to make a really really chocolate cake. And when we’d decided on a dessert rather than a cake I went to Rosie’s blog, Sweetapolita, to re-read a few of her recipes where she’d made cake for her and her husband. What I decided on was the cake from this recipe and then I went searching for recipes for a dark and white chocolate mousse.

I grabbed the dark chocolate mousse from another of my favourite blogs, David Lebovitz and picked at random another blog for the white chocolate mousse. I really didn’t want to add gelatine to the mousse, but I wanted something a bit more robust than the thickening from whipped cream. This recipe used both egg yolks (to give a more custard type consistency) and cream, but it was the only recipe I found that didn’t use gelatine.

Dark Choc Mousse

Folding the whipped up egg yolks and sugar into the melted and cooled chocolate.

I made the cake on Friday and measured the different round cookie cutters to the inside of the food rings. I had 3 good rings and wanted to get 3 more. I only managed to buy one more food ring. Sadly the kitchen warehouse place I shop had run out. My two sets of round cookie cutters are like a half size between them. I’ve used the cutter before for the Black Forest Dessert I made and it was fine, but the cake seemed to have shrunk a bit after I cut the rings out. I only realised this after having measured out the acetate and cellotaping them to size of the inside of the food rings. When I put the first round of cake into the bottom the acetate was too wide so I had to resize them all. I also had to shimmy them up the cake base so that I could get a little more height for all the mousse.

I made both the dark chocolate and white chocolate mousse Saturday morning and set them into the fridge while I fluffed about with preparing the food rings.

I wanted to make 6 desserts with 3 layers of cake with mousse between the layers, and a thin spread of raspberry puree between the middle layer of cake.

Raspberry Layer

Raspberry puree beneath and above the middle cake layer.

I baked the cake in a 9 x 13” cake pan and only managed 15 cake layers. Eeek, I need 18. I took some of the bigger scraps so I could piece together a middle layer for what would be my dessert and thought I would cut a few layers in half. What I found as I was layering the dessert was the cake layer was too thick. The cake baked 2.5cm which I was thrilled about. In the end I used the 2.5cm thickness for the base, then cut circles of cake through the middle for the middle and top layer of the dessert. I had plenty of cake left.

Thankfully I had left over cake (but no left over raspberry puree) because one of those desserts toppled over. I guess I shimmied the acetate sleeve a little too high and the weight of the mousse and cake caused the dessert to lean and then it was all over. I quickly noticed two others going the same way. There was a shriek and yell for more hands. Mr Fussy came to my rescue and we used the 4 food rings I had to guard some of the desserts that threatened to lean.

White Chocolate Mousse

Rich white chocolate mousse.

We ate that toppled dessert after lunch, it was very rich.

I bumped up the coolness in the spare fridge and left those desserts to firm up over the next 6 hours.

Mr Fussy cooked a lovely leg of lamb on the rotisserie BBQ, add some new spuds, spring (?) carrots and a fresh green salad and we had a really lovely dinner.

Food rings

Layered and ready for the fridge after a protective layer of Gladwrap.

Mr Fussy doesn’t know how I managed to eat my dessert minus the raspberry since he thought it would be too rich without the tartness of the raspberry puree. Yvonne even mentioned how it was a good balance with the chocolate.

The last touch I added to the dessert were the chocolate transfer hearts. I made them on Friday. It was my first time using chocolate transfer sheets and it was a bit of a learning experience. The white chocolate took forever to set enough that I could press out the hearts using my small heart cookie cutter. And when I thought it was set and went to nudge a heart out of the way, it melted. My hands aren’t that hot, but the few minutes sitting on the bench and it was enough to distort it.

Chocolate Transfer Sheets

Easy to use. Compound “chocolate” would be best for white, or be prepared to wait a loooong time for it to set up.

The dark chocolate was fine, it set up nicely and it cut nicely. And on that basis I decided to use the dark chocolate as the “glue” to hold two hearts together on a tiny straw.

I also made the chocolate sauce Rosie used in her Double Chocolate Cake recipe. It’s the first time I’ve made a chocolate sauce that didn’t include water or cream. My recommendation is to take it off the heat (sitting over a pot of simmering water) several minutes before serving, when it’s too hot the sauce is thin. I wondered if I’d need to double the recipe, expecting to completely drown the dessert, but I was the only one that was heavy-handed with the sauce and there’s plenty of sauce left. As there is of each mousse. For this dessert you would get away with halving each mousse recipe.

Add sauce

Smothered in chocolate. Now we’re talking.

We have enough that I’ve made 6 more desserts. I’m going to need to diet after all this chocolate overload.

2014-02-09 14.00.25

More chocolate mousse desserts. Mixing it up with dark then white, and white then dark mousse. Using up all the left over shards of chocolate. Nothing is wasted.

I just want to add a note about the dark chocolate mousse, the rum flavour is very prominent. I would have liked to swap rum for Cointreau but that wouldn’t go with the raspberry puree. I think you can probably omit any alcohol. I also used Bushells Coffee & Chicory essence instead of brewed coffee. I don’t drink coffee (or tea) so I have no idea on what a rich or dark coffee is. I find using the coffee & chicory to be easier to get a handle on.

Like the Double Chocolate cake that called for ¼ cup, so did the mousse. For both recipes that was 40ml of the coffee & chicory essence with the balance made of water. Mr Fussy said the coffee was what he found more obvious than the rum.

Also with the cake, I didn’t have enough dark muscovado sugar, I had 130gm and made the balance up with brown sugar.

Those are the only changes I made and I have to say that cake is the best chocolate cake I’ve ever tasted. I love the little chocolate chips through the batter. I can’t wait to make it again!

Yvonne & Mum

Blurry photo aside, great company and a rich dessert with Mr Fussy’s Moa Pale Ale front and centre.

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Coming full circle

I’m jumping the gun and posting this before the cake I had made and decorated for the “I need an excuse and it’s my blog anniversary”.

It’s  more fitting that I post tonight’s dessert. One of the main reasons for this blog existing is because I was enjoying baking and wanted to share what I was making and trying, but what kicked the blog off was wanting to make Mum a really nice cake for her birthday. That was almost a year ago, well when I finally got the blog up and running, and made my first test cake.  You can take a trip down memory lane here, my first blog post.

Oh, I’m not going to hold out any longer, here’s what I made.


Released
 

One of the disappointing things about the Black Forest Cake I made for mum was the lack of cherry flavour. At the time I didn’t know about the Mediterranean Food Company who sometimes have Maraschino Cherries. Since visiting the shop, on occasion I’ve seen them available, but not every time. In the back of my mind I thought I’ll have to pay particular attention the closer we get to Mum’s birthday.  Though I’m making something different for Mum this birthday. Stay tuned.

I happened to be over the right side of town with a client on Friday and decided to pop in and see if they had the cherries, and pop next door to, to Aitkens. I had been after food rings for some months now. I spotted some in Nelson but flagged getting them, they were so pricey! I’d seen them in Aitkens before somewhat cheaper. I nabbed 3 food rings and from the Mediterranean Food Company I grabbed the larger pottle of cherries and a few other things. There’s always a few other things that end up in my shopping basket.

I was pretty much set. I had in mind to use the left over Chocolate sponge from the Devils Dream Cake and stack the sponge with layers of cream and cherries. It was a pretty easy dessert to whip up given I had nothing more to prepare than chopping cherries and whipping up cream.

Assemblying

I added a tablespoon of cherry brandy to the unwhipped cream, and I stablised it as I had previously. A rounded 1/2 teaspoon of gelatine and a splash more than 1 tablespoon of cold water to the 400ml of cream I used. Then after a good 5 minutes I microwaved the gelatine in 5 second bursts until it had liquified.

After making up the desserts (I needed 4 rings!) I had a few bits of not quite round disks of sponge left over, and a little bit of cream. I put a teaspoon of cream on the sponge and Mr Fussy and I shared it. It was pretty tasty. Then I spotted another odd shaped piece of sponge. This time I brushed on a bit of the syrup (from the pottle of cherries) before dropping the very last spoonful of whipped cream onto it. It was so much better, and I thought the plain sponge tasted good. This is really odd because the first tiny smear of the syrup I tasted, tasted so much like almond to me. I’m not a fan of almond at all. I really don’t care for cherries either, but I don’t dislike them.

You might see that I had acetate lining the food rings. I cellotaped them (on the outside of the acetate that would not be in contact with the food) and then slid them back into the food ring. I used a cookie cutter to cut the circles from the 9″ sponge layers. Then it was no more trouble than to use a piping bag with a very large plain nozzle to squeeze the cream in where it was needed, then purposefully place chopped up cherries and repeat.

Drenched in Chocolate Sauce

Sorry for the image size, I’ve yet to add my other software onto the Mac which would allow me to trim the bottom of the photo. I produced the photo as a custom size and this is what you get for it, a photo that doesn’t fit the frame.

As you can see I didn’t stop at just assembling the desserts. I went one step further and made a chocolate sauce that I’d pinned during the week. Another of David Lebovitz’s recipes. Salted Butter Chocolate Sauce.  I think it’s kind of cute that using salted butter is a bit of an oddity in some countries. Using unsalted butter was something quite special for me, though I’ve got about 6 or so blocks of the stuff still vying for space in the fridge.

Here’s my slightly wonky dessert, mine was the one made using the almost circular sponge pieces, sans a food ring. But I wanted to show the inside, not that it really looks any different to the outside!

Inside out

But don’t you just love those cherries hiding out in that whipped cream.

So there we are, almost 12 months to the date and I’ve used the same ingredients and learnt a lot of new tricks along the way. And acquired a truck load of new equipment in that time. I’ve run out of space and would dearly love a 2nd kitchen and pantry. Mr Fussy is still participating in Lotto and I’m expecting any significant win to grant me my wish 🙂

While its not yet Mum’s birthday, she was able to enjoy this dessert, and I dare say she would agree it was a vast improvement on the cake. I think for less effort this was a much nicer Black Forest Cake. Of course having the correct cherries makes a HUGE difference. I personally preferred this as a dessert. And I’ll take making chocolate sauce over making chocolate curls any day.


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Sour Milk Bread–a Pot Luck lunch

During the week I was preparing Cameron’s 21st cake for decoration Mr Fussy let me know his workplace was having a Pot Luck Lunch on Friday, and his team were responsible for bread.

Mr Fussy thought buying a loaf of bread would be more than adequate. You probably can guess what I thought of that suggestion. Not much.

Knowing I was going to be flat tack, and it was Mr Fussy’s work “thing”, I wanted to find a bread recipe that didn’t require yeast and would be easy enough that Mr Fussy could tackle the recipe on his own without my interference guidance.

Then came along a post for Sour Milk Bread by David Lebovitz in my RSS which fit the bill perfectly. Except I didn’t have Rye flour, or Fennel seeds, or Caraway seeds, or Star Anise. But apart from that, we were good to go.

On the Wednesday night we got all the ingredients together, having wrestled with the Star Anise pods waiting for those precious seeds to be released.

Ingredients

Mr Fussy got all the seeds and pounded them a bit in the pestle and mortar and we set everything aside ready to be mixed Thursday evening. It really is as simple as the photo above makes it out. Dry ingredients, buttermilk and the molasses and golden syrup combined ready to mix all together.

Ingredients mixed

And when it is all mixed together, this is what you get. It was quite sticky, and I had to remind Mr Fussy that he wasn’t to beat the mixture, just gently mix it to get all the dry ingredients wet. I might have taken over Winking smile

Ready for the oven

As you might have guessed, I’ve never baked/cooked with Rye flour Fennel or caraway seeds, I’ve never used Star Anise (though I’ve seen lots of recipes which use it). I had no idea what this would bake like or taste of.

Texture

David Lebovitz makes a couple of suggestion as to how you might serve the bread. He had both a savoury and sweet suggestion which baffled me a bit. But it’s true, this bread doesn’t really hint at being a savoury or sweet bread. I can see how both the suggestions made would work.

But for me, having my first taste, before wrapping these loaves up for Mr Fussy, was to simply spread it with butter.

Buttered

The colour you see in this last photo is probably more true to the colour of the loaf. I tasted flavours that I’ve never before had. I was quite surprised and I couldn’t work out which of the seeds it was I could taste so clearly since almost every ingredient was new to me. I’m guessing it was the caraway seeds since they weren’t ground to a coarse powder.

Since it was all eaten I guess it turned out well. Even Mr Fussy with his aversion to new ingredients had a couple of slices and said it was good.

Even though the top of the loaf seemed well baked, in that when I tapped it, it was firm, the inside of the loaf was soft and easy to chew.

I might even make this again. At the very least I’m going to make another Rye loaf of some sort. If you’ve got a favourite do let me know. Otherwise I’ll do my usual and search Google and Pinterest.


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Salted Caramel Ice Cream

I know, I know. It’s Autumn. What am I thinking making ice cream.

Salted Caramel Ice Cream

I hadn’t planned to make ice cream. The pie made me do it. And before the pie, it was learning it was Caramel Week that lead to the pie.

The pie, a Caramel Apple pie, will be made tomorrow. And the ice cream will be consumed with it.

Oh how I love caramel. And how glad am I that there’s a week in the calendar dedicated to caramel. A very worthy food item to claim a spot on the foodie calendar.

I guess we’re working backwards. I’m posting about the ice cream. The pie might be tomorrow. But I started on Friday making the pie dough. And there’ll be a post on that too. It’s a very unique method of making dough which had caught my attention many many months ago, and I promised myself I’d give it a crack.

Caramel Custard

Oh, before I forget, my flash arrived this week. I had ordered it a couple of week ago on eBay and I was so happy when it arrived. That photo of the ice cream is taken in the kitchen at 8:15pm. The flash is making a noticeable difference and it means that I can bake at night and take photos. I had often wanted to jump up and get busy in the kitchen but the poor lighting always put me off. I like to share photos of the whole process. I’m sure you’ve noticed.

While I LOVE caramel, I’ve had a bad run of trying to make caramel sauce. It wasn’t pretty. I actually tried twice in the same day. The first attempt was tossed out. I burnt it. The second time I was too scared and I didn’t quite get there with cooking the caramel long enough. I think this time I did much better. I put it down to using a bigger pot, cool but not cold butter and I’d warmed up the cream.

Caramel Praline

So encouraged was I, I went on to make the Caramel Praline that was part of this ice cream recipe.

I love that taffy look, the little fine strands standing proud.

I’ve stuck with David Lebovitz as the master of all things ice cream. And while I’ve not waited for the ice cream to properly freeze, I’ve had a small sample. Just enough to get the gist of what this ice cream will be like. I’ve had a few bits of the praline too. But I don’t need to tell you that, you already knew Smile

Salted caramel

Look at those flecks of Maldon salt. Given I’m a lover of caramel, I’ve never really quite “got” the whole salted caramel thing. I know it’s all the rage but I’ve not found anything salted that has tasted like this caramel praline. And I am now a convert. If only all “salted caramel” this and that I tried tasted like this.

Mr Fussy was very gracious. I need his help when I made ice cream because of tempering the egg yolks and trying to pour slowly from our pots, which are nothing like your traditional pot with a long handle. They are awkward to pour from because they are too heavy and don’t have a sensible handle that fits nicely in your hand when you’re pouring.

And I needed help with the caramel praline, for much the same reason. I needed to quickly pour it out of the pot and tilt the baking sheet to get the caramel to move around and settle into a thin layer.  Mr Fussy is very handy to have around, and a good sport since he had been watching a movie and had to pause it to come to my aid.

Crushing the caramel praline

David, in his notes, suggested using a Pestle and Mortar to crush the caramel praline. It worked well. But by the time I got to crush the praline, while the ice cream was churning, it had become a little sticky, so it clumped a little. I hoped it wouldn’t clog up the ice cream maker. It didn’t. Phew.

Salted Butter Caramel Ice Cream by David Lebovitz

Ingredients

For the caramel praline (mix-in)

  • ½ cup (100 gr) sugar
    ¾ teaspoon sea salt, such as fleur de sel

For the ice cream custard

  • 2 cups (500 ml) whole milk, divided
  • 1½ cups (300 gr) sugar
  • 4 tablespoons (60 gr) salted butter
  • scant ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cups (250 ml) heavy cream
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  • I’m giving this a big swerve. David has good instructions and due to copywrite I don’t know how to explain them any differently, so I’m sending you to the post to follow.

My Notes:

  • I warmed the cream in the microwave until it was warm.
  • The butter was cut up into small squares around 1cm in size. The butter wasn’t straight from the fridge, it was cool but not cold.
  • I covered the bowl the custard was in, but even so there was a thick-ish layer over the top. I tossed it all into the ice cream maker and it incorporated completely.
  • I made an ice bath as David describes in his instructions, which I’ve not done in past recipes I’ve made, but I recommend it if you’ve got ice handy. It certainly cooled the custard quicker and I had totally cold custard in 6 hours. I hadn’t checked any earlier.
  • The ice cream is described as a really creamy ice cream, and I think this is part of the reason it takes a long time to churn. It was around 50 minutes before I added the crushed caramel praline.

Ice cream maker

Because the ice cream never totally freezes in the ice cream maker it’s a lot easier to scrape out (almost) all of it.

It tastes good. I can’t wait for tomorrow. Even if the pie and flaky pie dough don’t live up to all the accolades they’ve received respectively in the blog posts, the ice cream is a winner.


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Ice Cream, Lemon Curd and a Chocolate Sauce

This morning started with putting our house back to pre-Christmas. We’d moved our wrought iron liquor stand out to the garage and had to take all the bottles of alcohol off. That thing is heavy without several dozen bottles of booze.

While we were moving things out and bringing things back Maranello was whinging to go outside. Finally I organised him to go outside (our cats are indoor cats but have harnesses and leads so they can go outside, somewhat restricted, when we’re home – I wont be surprised if you think we’re bonkers).

At the same time the washing machine was just revving up for the spin cycle and with several bottles of alcohol on top they began clinking together. Maranello, who could saunter out the back door, instead headed to the bedroom and hid in the wardrobe. I was at a loss for words. He’d been harping (meowing) on about going outside and now he was hiding.

It took me some time to figure out what had happened. During the Christchurch earthquakes we’d had bottles of alcohol sitting on the beer fridge in the laundry and I imagine the sound of the bottles clinking on the washing machine (it’s a front loader) reminded him of the terror of the earthquakes. I’ve heard of so many pets been left traumatised by the earthquakes. Once I shifted the bottles Maranello was quick to head out the door and have a taste of the outdoors. And life resumed.

ChocSauce

The chocolate sauce I made late this afternoon had a splash of alcohol in it. A choice of Whiskey (we don’t have any), Cognac or Rum. I chose Rum (recently purchased for the Rum & Raisin Ice Cream I made).

The sauce was really easy to make. I used a recipe from David Lebovitz’s book Ready for Dessert, a recipe I’d taken a copy of when I’d borrowed the book from the library.

Rich Chocolate Sauce by David Lebovitz

Ingredients

  • 340gm dark chocolate (with at least 45% cocoa solids), chopped
  • 180ml water
  • 180ml double cream (I used standard cream which has 35% fat)
  • 2 teaspoons whiskey, rum or cognac

* Variation – for a slightly richer sauce, stir in 2 tablespoons unsalted or salted butter, at room temperature, along with the whiskey, rum or cognac

Instructions

  • In a medium saucepan, combine the chocolate, water, and cream.
  • Warm over low heat, stirring gently until the chocolate is melted and the sauce is smooth.
  • Remove from the heat.
  • Stir in the whiskey, rum or cognac
  • Serve the sauce warm

IceCreamSauces

The other day I made Scottish Shortbread. I froze some of it, and used some crumbed up in Lemon Truffles and then added some of the crumbled up shortbread in the Ice Cream along with the Lemon Curd I’d made.

I’m getting to be so good with freezing things and then reusing them in new ways.

The Ice Cream I made was based on the same recipe I used for the Strawberry Ice Cream, a recipe adapted from David Lebovitz.

I really enjoy making Ice Cream. I love watching it being churned. I know some people are mesmerised by watching flames in a fire, but I have a similar draw to watching churning ice cream. And I haven’t heard of that leading to any other devious behaviour.

LCIceCream-2

I didn’t measure the amount of crumbled shortbread or how much Lemon Curd I added. I just did what felt right.

Mr Fussy has admitted that the Ice Cream, despite adding a biscuit, is just fine.

Isn’t Ice Cream great, you can just add any sweet left over to create something a little bit special and unique to what you’d find in the supermaket.

LCIC2

As for the chocolate sauce with the ice cream, it was nice but nothing I’d call out of this world, but it’s really straight forward to make and for that it’s a winner. Only Mr Fussy got a hint of the rum, I wasn’t aware of it at all, other than smelling it in the kitchen while I was making the sauce.

Unfortunately the Whittaker’s chocolate wouldn’t completely blend. I don’t know why. It hadn’t burnt, and when I touched the little globs they were soft and flattened without any pressure, but why they wouldn’t completely blend into the sauce I’m unsure.

David suggests the sauce being served with a Chocolate Cake.

I had made a Devil’s Food Cake (guess whose recipe?!), covered it with a White Chocolate Cream Cheese frosting and added crushed up candy canes around the bottom and served that during afternoon tea yesterday. Lots of my extended family aren’t into heavy fruit cake and I didn’t want them missing out. Yes I’m a star and all round good guy.

When I mentioned to Mr Fussy that the sauce was recommended to have with chocolate cake he asked after the cake I’d made yesterday. Unfortunately for him what hadn’t been eaten was divided up between my two sisters. Imagine pouring warm chocolate sauce over a cake smothered with white chocolate cream cheese frosting. If that doesn’t make your teeth hurt I don’t know what would. However he’s turned down my offer to make another chocolate cake.

LCIC3

I’ve got lots of cream left over from what we expected to use at Christmas, I wonder if I should make another ice cream. Mr Fussy is keen to use it to make cocktails on New Years Eve. Who will win?


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Brownies–at last the 2nd one

Back in November I mentioned in this post about the Baked Brownie that I had made two during the weekend and would share the second. Well that time has come. Thanks for being patient.

I made this Brownie to take to a Thanksgiving dinner we’d been invited to by Mr Fussy’s very good childhood friend. Dave celebrates his birthday early in November, and his Dad was American, so he’s half Kiwi, half American. Almost every year he has a Thanksgiving dinner which we’re invited to. I look forward to it knowing there will be Turkey. I love Turkey. Not as much as I love Caramel, but it’s getting up there.

However this year there wasn’t Turkey, instead were were treated to baked Ham. Boy that was good. Enough about Dave’s skills in the kitchen, let’s have a look at this Brownie.

Brownies1

It was sort of fate that I made this particular Brownie. I was sitting in the car about to hand back my borrowed copy of Ready for Dessert by David Lebovitz and the page opened to the Brownie recipe. I sent Mr Fussy to the Supermarket (in the same carpark) to get Pecans while I returned the book to the library, not before taking a photo of the recipe from my phone.

Pecans seemed to be about as American as I could muster considering Pumpkin Pie had already been spoken for, and my backup recipe which Chris kindly sourced for me was going to cost more than $20 to make since I didn’t have most of the ingredients.

There are two main ingredients here, the Pecans, and the chocolate. I again chose to use Whittaker’s chocolate. It was just a choice of which percentage of chocolate I wanted. Not an easy choice when there’s so many options.

Pecan

I toasted the Pecans as recommended by David. In fact all recipes in his book that use nuts he recommends toasting, it improves and brings out the flavour of the nut. And it’s well worth the few minutes that it takes, let me assure you.

IMG_5173

As you can see, I settled on 50% cocoa. I can’t tell you enough how good Whittaker’s chocolate is to use. I have melted white chocolate as well, direct in the pot, not even over a boiler of some sort. It’s so easy to work with. In fact I prefer to use it in baking more than I do eating it.

Brownies-2

There’s one knack with this Brownie recipe that seems unbelievable of a Brownie, in fact even David admits to not having followed it and therefore disagreed this recipe was “the best”. But he had a quiet word with the creator of the recipe, and when David was quizzed, he admitted he skipped a step not believing it could be correct.  Beating the batter. Who does that to a Brownie recipe?!

BakedBrownie

But you can see that despite beating the batter for a minute, it comes out looking just like you’d expect of a Brownie.

Because I took a photo of the recipe, I found a copy of it online for you to review. I’m copying it word for word.

Robert’s Absolute Best Brownie Recipe

Ingredients

6 tablespoons (3 ounces) unsalted or salted butter, cut into pieces, plus more for the pan

  • 8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, or pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped
Directions
  • 1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
  • 2. Line the inside of an 8-inch square pan with 2 lengths of foil, positioning the sheets perpendicular to each other and allowing the excess to extend beyond the edges of the pan, or with a single large sheet of extra wide foil or parchment paper. Lightly butter the foil or parchment. [Editor’s Note: The original recipe calls for a 9-inch square pan, although we’ve had success with an 8-inch pan.]
  • 3. In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt the butter. Add the chocolate and stir by hand until it is melted and smooth.
  • 4. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the sugar and vanilla until combined. Beat in the eggs by hand, 1 at a time. Add the flour and stir energetically for 1 full minute—time yourself—until the batter loses its graininess, becomes smooth and glossy, and pulls away a bit from the sides of the saucepan. [Editor’s Note: There are two crucial elements in the making of these brownies. One is throwing yourself into the making of them by stirring them “energetically,” as the recipe stipulates. The second, also spelled out in the recipe, is making certain you stir the batter thusly for a full minute. It may appear to separate a few seconds into stirring, and it may appear grainy midway through, but when you stir with vigor for a full 60 seconds–and we do mean a full 60 seconds, along the lines of “One Mississippi, two Mississippi…”–you’ll end up with a batter that’s rich, thick, satiny smooth, and glossy as can be. And therein lies the difference between dry, crumbly brownies and what many brownie mavens around the world feel are, indeed, the world’s best brownies.] Stir in the chopped nuts.
  • 5. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake until the center feels almost set, about 30 minutes. Do not overbake.
  • 6. Let the brownie cool completely in the pan—this is the difficult part—before lifting the foil or parchment and the block of brownie out of the pan. Cut the brownie into squares. (The brownies will keep well for up to 4 days and can be frozen for up to 1 month.)

I packed these up and took them with us to the Thanksgiving dinner and when they were bought out the plate was practically fought over. Everyone asking if there would be enough for everyone. I didn’t know who was going, or how many, but again fate played a part and there was enough for one each. Win!

Brownies3

Not that you’ve asked for it. Mr Fussy and I both agree that the first Brownie recipe I made was the better. Mr Fussy doesn’t like nuts, so I knew these wouldn’t be his pick. I also prefer a Brownie without nuts, as it turn out. Believe it or not, I’d never had Pecans before. I thought (assumed) they wouldn’t taste good. I’m starting to sound like Mr Fussy, having made my mind up based on someone else’s view. They taste very similar to a Walnut. I really like Walnuts, and I found out I liked Pecans. But boy they’re pretty expensive. Still, I’d take a no-nut Brownie over one with nuts.

And because I’m a bit greedy when it comes to sweets and desserts, this is my second post submitted for Sweet New Zealand, hosted by Lydia of Lydia Bakes.

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Lemon Curd, who can resist?

In my Scottish Shortbread post I mentioned that I was making a Lemon Truffle recipe. That recipe uses shortbread crumbs. So luckily I had some “less than perfect” shortbread that would fit the bill.

The recipe also calls for Lemon Curd, but the blog post didn’t actually give a recipe to use.

Naturally I used Google and Pinterest to search out a recipe. The last time I made a curd was in the microwave, and that was many moons ago. The French Lemon Cream Tart I made is probably also a curd, despite it being called a Cream. It was a bit fussy to make and since it was 29 deg Celsius outside I wanted something quick rather than slaving over a hot oven any longer than necessary.

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As is typical of me, I ended up finding a recipe on David Lebovitz’s website. Though I adjusted the quantities a little.

My freezer has so much lemon juice sitting in little Glad zip lock bags that I didn’t want to add anymore to it. So instead of 125ml of fresh lemon juice, the recipe has 150ml.

Lemon Curd – slightly adapted from David Lebovitz’s Improved Lemon Curd

Ingredients

  • 150ml Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 130gm White Sugar
  • 90gm Butter – cubed
  • 2 whole Eggs
  • 2 Egg Yolks

Instructions

  • In a pot add together the lemon juice, sugar, whole eggs and egg yolks, whisk to combine
  • Add the butter cubes and set the pan over low heat, whisking constantly until the butter is melted.
  • Increase the heat and cook over moderate heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens and just begins to become jelly-like. It’s done when you lift the whisk and the mixture holds its shape when it falls back into the saucepan from the whisk.
  • Immediately press the curd through a fine mesh strainer. Once strained, store the lemon curd in the refrigerator. It will keep for up to one week.

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Even though you are whisking the curd while it thickens, there’s still (or at least in my experience) very little bits of egg white. Pushing the curd through the strainer will help to separate the cooked whites from the curd. And you need to do this before the curd cools as it will continue to thicken making it a little harder to push it through the strainer.

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Mmm, this tastes so good.

While the recipe says you’ll get a cup, I got 1.5 cups. Not sure why. I kept whisking for quite a while. I never got the curd to the point where it dropped from the whisk and sat on top without blending in. But as you can see, as it’s cooling it’s doing just that. And it’s definitely the right consistency for spreading on toast.

I briefly stopped whisking and the curd started to boil. So don’t be alarmed. Just keep whisking to ensure it doesn’t catch on the bottom of the pan. Whisking for 6-8 minutes is likely to be the right amount of time, but again it will depend on how hot ‘moderate’ is for you.

It’s almost a shame to use this curd in the truffles. I really want to spoon it into my mouth.

On such a hot day this curd is very refreshing. I guess I could always make some more Winking smile