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31 Jan 2012

Brigadeiro

Brigadeiro.....it has a nice ring to it, doesn't it. I was first introduced to this delectable treat by a lovely Brazilian girl named Anahe. Our story goes a little like this.......



When I first moved to America I met (or more likely was forced to meet) a lot of other nannies from all over the world. It is common practice for them to all meet once a week and talk rubbish about anything and everything. I for one, did not really take to these said gatherings, preferring to make my own friends and actually talk to people I liked as opposed to people I should have liked. There was the exception of a few wonderful girls (you all know who you are) that I would spend all of my spare time with forming a life long bond.

While hanging out with said girls one day, I was introduced to Anahe, she didn't live in my area but was friends with some of the other girls and she wanted to take us to experience Brazilian cuisine. I was intrigued but also a little apprehensive. I guess you could say I was bought up a little sheltered when it comes to my home town. I grew up in a quiet little surfing town, besides a train that ran every 2 hours we had no public transport, we rode our bikes or skateboards everywhere, everyone knew everyone else's business and I'm pretty sure there has never been a homeless person living on our streets. I'm sure you could imagine my brief anxiety when she walked us through bustling downtown (I will leave out the town name) where there were homeless people, gangs of probably very harmless men hanging around in clusters (I have been told they wait for contractors to pick them up for a days work), run down buildings that hold brothels, people dealing drugs in plain sight out front of crack houses and mounds of garbage piled in the curbs.

While I starred bug eyed and took it all in, they all ignored me. Everyone went about their own business and I soon discovered that while it was very out of the norm for me, this was how it was downtown, and walking about was not an issue, however, maybe I wouldn't do this alone at night. Finally we arrived at our destination (a run down dirty looking building that screamed food poisoning), and instead of taking a seat, you took a plate and joined the line of people that were winding their way around a brilliant hot bbq pit. we piled our plates high with salads, hot potato bakes, pasta and freshly sliced bbq meats and then weighed them to figure out how much it cost. I think it was about $7 a pound, don't ask me if that is a good price, I have no idea! Good deal or not, the food was amazing, fresh and free from salmonella.



I didn't over indulge because I had my eye on the dessert cabinet. Passionfruit mousse, flan, an assortment of cakes and cookies and the all famous Brigadeiro. After getting a run down on all the desserts, what is in them and how they are made, I couldn't pass the Brigadeiro. Sweetened condensed milk cooked down with chocolate and rolled in sprinkles (traditionally chocolate sprinkles), this simple dessert has the taste of creamy caramel and a hint of chocolate and is a staple in most Brazilian homes. Sizes vary from golf ball to marble and can also be rolled in coconut, cocoa powder or chopped nuts, which ever way it comes it is delicious!

Many thanks to Anahe for introducing me to the wonderful world of Brazilian cooking, I would never have tried it if it weren't for you. Hopefully on my next visit to America I will remember where this little gem is hiding.



Brigadeiro


Ingredients:


1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon of butter
2 tablespoons of coco powder (I am told that Ovaltine is traditional but if you cant get that, coco powder is fine)
Sprinkles to coat

Method:


  1. Lightly grease a tray with butter.
  2. Place all ingredients in a medium saucepan and stir over low heat continuously until mixture thickens. You should be able to scrape the bottom of the pan and the mixture will take a few seconds to cover it over again. This process will take roughly 15 minutes.
  3. Pour mixture onto tray and allow to cool completely.
  4. Once cool, grease hands with a little butter and roll mixture into balls (I made mine about a teaspoon and a half).
  5. Roll each ball in sprinkles and place in a paper cup.
These can be stored at room temperature or in the fridge. I prefer mine in the fridge because it makes them a little chewier but it is entirely up to you! 


24 Jan 2012

Eggnog Custard Tarts

I love custard. I love anything filled with custard like those cheap custard tarts from the bakery, vanilla slice or Paul's double thick chocolate custard. My mum used to make me and my brother custard as a treat when we were younger (usually when we were sick), not the home made kind with eggs and cream but the kind made with good old custard powder. Actually, I think I prefer the packet mix custard as opposed to traditional custard. I never feel like you can get it thick enough and it doesn't have that artificial yellow colour that I associate with junk food.

Naturally when Portuguese Tarts became all the rage, I jumped on the band wagon. When I was an apprentice we used to buy them in from a company to sell in our shop. I thought they were the most amazing invention ever and I would pray that they never all sold so I could eat the ones that were "too old". Oh the sweet custard filling piled into layers of crispy, chewy pastry that left your mouth feeling slightly fury like after eating cold sausages.



I have made my own Portuguese Tarts a few times now but this time I had a little brain storm. I also love eggnog (maybe because it is like drinkable custard) and I had some in the fridge left over from Christmas. Instead of using the traditional cream and milk in the custard, I used eggnog. Oh baby, best idea ever! This had every awesome characteristic of a Portuguese tart only it had a subtle hint of the nutmeg from the eggnog. This is a perfect way to use up excess eggnog, or just an alternative to drinking it.



Eggnog Custard Tarts


1 egg
2 egg yolks
300ml eggnog
2 tablespoon corn flour
120g castor sugar
2 sheets of ready made puff pastry


Pre heat oven to 200 Celsius.

Mix eggs, sugar and flour in a saucepan until combined. Gradually stir in eggnog to avoid lumps.

Stir continuously over medium heat until it has thickened and come to the boil. Cover top with cling wrap to avoid a skin forming. Cool to room temperature.

Cut each pastry sheet in half and stack on top of other half so you have 2 double layer pieces. Roll tightly from short end.

Cut each roll into 6 pieces. Flatten and roll each piece out into a circle. Push into a greased cupcake tray.

Fill each pastry case with custard, place into oven and bake for 20 - 30 minutes or until browned on top.

I challenge you to eat just one!




17 Jan 2012

Christening Cake

Just a couple of photos of a Christening cake I recently made for a friend. My specifications were white roses and NOT a heavy cake like mud cake. This is what I came up with......


This is a single tier vanilla butter cake filled with a super fine layer of Swiss meringue butter cream.


This is a picture of the cake once it was cut open. Special thanks to Maria for taking this picture for me. This was 5 individual cakes levelled off and stacked on top of each other.


All the flowers were made by hand using gumpaste. I dusted the Carnations with pink petal dust to make them stand out amongst the arrangement.



The piped design around the sides of the cake were inspired by some really terrible weather. The humidity on the day that I covered this cake was almost unbearable, my patients had run thin with trying to accomplish a totally smooth layer of fondant . When I had finished I wasn't totally impressed with the finish so I  decided to pipe the outside, besides looking pretty, it helps cover any minor imperfections. 




A pretty pink ribbon helped to finish off the look of the cake.




10 Jan 2012

Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie

Everyone has a comfort food, whether it be mac and cheese (a personal favourite of mine), chocolate, mashed potato (ok maybe these are all of my comfort foods) , the list goes on. But, when in dire need of some real comfort, I think everyone can agree that a nice warm chocolate chip cookie will hit the spot every time.

There is nothing like the aroma of fresh baked cookies wafting through the house. It is enough to get anybody's mouth watering. The first bite of a warm, chewy, chocolate filled cookie, maybe a glass of milk for dunking is enough to satisfy my every comfort food need. But just when I thought it couldn't actually get any better, I stumbled upon a recipe for a chocolate chip cookie pie!


This is just like a chocolate chip cookie only baked inside a pastry case. How genius is that! The best part is,  the ingredients are usually a staple in most pantries. It is so fast to make, and if you are really in a hurry, you could always use a pre bought pastry case (again, just don't tell anyone you did that). The hardest part is having to share this with others!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie

Filling recipe courtesy of Nestle

One 9 inch pastry case (home made or store bought)

1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup castor sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
170g butter, softened
2 eggs
1 cup chocolate chips

Pre heat oven to 190 Celsius.

Beat eggs in an electric mixer until flight and fluffy. Beat in flour, sugar and butter.

Fold through chocolate chips.

Pour into prepared pastry case. Bake for 55 minutes to 1 hour. Your cookie pie is done when a knife inserted half way between the crust and centre comes out clean.

This pie is far easier to cut once completely cool, so if you can practice a little self control, allow to cool before cutting into wedges, then heat in the microwave for 20 seconds to make warm and gooey. Of course you could always smother it with ice cream as well!







3 Jan 2012

Indian Barfi

People, DO NOT be afraid of the name! Although this may not sound like the most appealing slice, I assure you it is delicious, so......keep reading!

I think I have always told myself that I don't actually like Indian food. I'm not the biggest fan of Keen's curry powder (curried sausages as a kid ruined me....sorry mum) and I guess I had always just associated the smell of that with Indian food. (Yes I am aware that this is a major stereotype, but to the uneducated like me, it is a common one).

I tasted my first proper Indian meal about a year ago now. At first I was a bit reluctant to try it, and I was somewhat confused over the menu. I don't eat red meat and chicken is beginning to make me squeemish so I stuck to the vegetarian dishes. Honestly, I can't say the menu descriptions sound appealing (to me) so I took a chance and ordered a pumpkin marsala. Holy goodnight what a ripper that was! I couldn't believe it had taken me this long to try it. The flavour was so incredibly intense, it was so rich and creamy and just out of this world!

Needless to say, Indian is on a regular rotation in our dining out repertoire. Don't want to cook dinner tonight, oh well we better go to Indian. (I use this excuse a lot). I still only eat vegetarian but I always try a spoonful of sauce from my man's plate......you gotta try everything right? We believe we are great critics of Indian food now, comparing restaurants and "authenticity" (we have no idea what we are talking about), but we love every experience.

So, this is where the Barfi comes in. You can stop cringing, it really is delicious, see.........


Isn't that pretty? Barfi is an Indian sweet similar (kinda not really) to fudge made from powdered milk and spices. 

I have had this recipe bookmarked for so long and have finally gotten around to actually making it. I haven't done a lot of Indian cooking at home. While I love the idea of being able to make some of the amazing dishes we have tried, I think if I am no good at it, it may destroy my infatuation with the cuisine. But then again, who could pass up something as pretty as this?

This recipe seemed simple enough, however it is a little time consuming due to having to continuously stir the pan for roughly 15 minutes. After my first sample, it was safe to say that I am still in love with Indian food. However,  don't be fooled into thinking this is fudge. Although it may look like it, that is as close as it gets. Barfi is not sweet and sugary like your typical fudge, it is not smooth and creamy and it wont melt in your mouth (or send you running to the dentist),  it is chewy, grainy, milky and has a hint of spice. But don't just take my word for it, make some for yourself!

Indian Barfi (Adapted from Good Taste Magazine)

500g full cream milk powder
500ml pouring cream
315g castor sugar
250ml water
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground clove (I didn't have any so I used mixed spice and it was just as good)
3 T chopped pistachios
Silver cachous to decorate (I used pink cause it is so much prettier)

  1. Grease and line a 16 x 26cm slice tin, allowing the baking paper to hang over the edges. (This makes it really easy to pull it out of the pan once it is set).
  2. Combine the milk powder and cream in a really big bowl. This will get gluggy and gross but just do it.
  3. Place sugar and water in a large saucepan over low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Once the sugar is dissolved, crank the heat up to medium and simmer for 8 minutes.
  4. Add the cream mixture and spices to the sugar mixture and use a whisk to beat all the lumps out. BEWARE: This mixture is extremely hot, do not let it splash on you while you are whisking. Once all the lumps are out, use a wooden spoon to stir for 5 minutes or until the mixture comes to the boil. (I alternated with the spoon and whisk as I found it developed lumps as it started cooking).
  5. reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring continuously until the mixture thickens and comes away from the sides of the pan. (After 10 minutes I gave up and turned to heat up, beware if you do this that you need to beat like crazy and not let it stick to the bottom, alternate with the whisk and spoon if you decide to do this).
  6. Pour into the slice pan and sprinkle the top with pistachios and cachous. Set aside for one hour.
  7. Place in fridge over night and cut into squares to serve.

Note: Traditionally, Barfi is grainy and a little bit lumpy, I'm not really into the lumpy thing but if you want to stick with tradition, don't over beat the mixture on step 4.