28 Feb 2012

Potato Chip Chocolate Chip Cookies

When I mentioned at work that I would be making these cookies, I was accused of being a closet American. I have no objection to this, they do after all come up with some amazing food and this recipe is one of them.

There is the most fantastic television show in America called Unwrapped. Hosted by Marc Summers, they delve into how anything and everything (food related) is produced, from jelly beans to curry, carnival food to sports drinks and anything in between. I may be starting to sound like a spokes woman for the Food Network but I can not get enough of this show, so much so that I own it on DVD and watch it on a regular basis (and can tell you every segment off by heart)!

So while watching this show I came across a segment about an American cookie company that uses crushed potato chips in their chocolate chip cookies. Needless to say I thought this was a brilliant idea, I mean really, who doesn't love both of these snack foods, and together, well that's just pure genius. Of course I wouldn't be writing this if I bought their cookies......I made my own!

To make these you will need:

I medium packet of plain salted potato chips
Sea salt for sprinkling (this is totally optional but if you love the sweet & salty thing it's a must!)
Chocolate chip cookie dough as follows:

250gr butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
150gr brown sugar
150gr castor sugar
2 eggs
375gr plain flour
1 teaspoon bicarb soda
1 cup chocolate chips (or more or less, depending on how much you love chocolate. I used the rainbow covered chips because they are so pretty but you can use any chocolate you like)

  • Beat butter, sugars, vanilla and eggs until smooth.
  • Stir in flour and bicarb soda.
  • Crush potato chips and stir into dough along with the chocolate chips.
  • Roll 1 tablespoon of mixture into a ball and flatten slightly onto a cookie tray lined with baking paper. Repeat with remaining dough spacing 5cm apart to allow for spreading.
  • sprinkle tops with sea salt.
  • Bake at 200 Celsius for 12 minutes or until browned slightly. Stand for a few minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. 
  • Store in an air tight container for up to 3 days if they last that long!

21 Feb 2012

The Worlds Best Chocolate Cake

I think I may have discovered the worlds best chocolate cake! Yep that's right, the BEST!!!

That's a big call coming from me. I can always find fault in anything, however tiny/obscure it may be, so for me to say it is the best is kind of a big deal.

I have tried a million and one chocolate cakes and I am always disappointed. I love nothing more than chocolate but once it is mixed into a cake batter it loses its comforting appeal. That was of course until I met this little beauty.

I couldn't get over just how beautiful and moist this cake was, every mouthful was like heaven. It is so extremely intense, so sweet and so so so rich. I couldn't stop, even when the chocolate coma set in. I was like a woman possessed! Of course this one is definitely not good for the hips but I am willing to put in a few extra hours at the gym if it means more cake!

Before you make this cake there are a few little notes:

  • It is important to use a good quality dark chocolate. I know it is a little more expensive but believe me it makes all the difference. I use a 70% cocoa mass chocolate but of course you may use more or less. Please, please, please do not use compound or cooking chocolate!
  • If you can handle it, make the cake a few days before you actually intend on eating it. The longer the cake sits the denser and richer it gets. Of course it can be eaten on the day you make it but it is much nicer after a day or two.
  • I use carob powder because it is sweeter but feel free to use a Dutch coco instead.

The Worlds Best Chocolate Cake

375g unsalted butter
680g castor sugar
300g dark chocolate
50g carob powder
340g self raising flour
3 eggs
1/2 teaspoon instant coffee powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
750ml hot water

  • Preheat oven to 160 Celsius and line a 23cm round springform tin with baking paper.
  • In a large saucepan combine chocolate, butter,sugar, water and coffee. Stir over low heat until smooth. set aside to cool to lukewarm.
  • Add the eggs and vanilla to the chocolate and whisk until smooth.
  • Sift over the flour and carob and whisk until smooth.
  • Pour into prepared tin and bake for 1 and a half hours or until cooked. A skewer should come out slightly crumby (not clean, we want it to still be fudgey inside). Allow to cool in the tin for 20 minutes, turn out and cool completely.
Once the cake has cooled you can cover with a chocolate ganache by mixing 200ml of cream with 250gr of dark chocolate over a medium heat until they have melted together.

14 Feb 2012

A Cookie for My Valentine

By now you all know my thoughts on Valentine's Day but I really, really, really can't help but do some "Love" baking. There are just too many opportunities to bake pretty, girly treats (come to think of it, Valentine's Day really is all about the girls, I may have to come up with something male orientated for next year) and I just had to bake these cookies!

These are my second attempt at a decorated sugar cookie (my first being the Christmas Tree and Snow Men). After my first battle with a million piping bags, I did find the second time around much easier and I used a way better recipe for the cookie dough! I kept it basic, mostly because I am too lazy to get all intricate (and possibly because I may need to keep practising before I can do anything too fancy), but I think they looked cute as is. Of course to make them even cuter, you could wrap them up, tie a pretty bow around them and give them to your Valentine!

Vanilla Sugar Cookies:
Recipe adapted from Cookie Craft by Valerie Peterson and Janice Fryer

3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon of salt
226g unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar (vanilla sugar makes the flavour more intense)
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • Cream the butter and the sugar until pale and fluffy using the paddle attachment on a stand mixer.
  • Set the mixer to low and add the egg and vanilla incorporating well.
  • Add the flour and salt and mix well.
  • Turn the dough onto a bench and kneed slightly. Divide into 2 or 3 portions, you are now ready to roll out your dough.
  • Roll dough between 2 sheets of grease proof or wax paper until approximately 1/4 inch thick. cut shapes using your chosen cookie cutter, remove the excess dough and place the cut outs (do not attempt to move them, leave them where they lay) in the fridge to completely chill.
  • Once the shapes are cold (they should be very firm) place on a baking tray lined with baking paper and bake for 12-16 minutes (more or less depending on the size of your cookies) at 180 Celsius.
  • Once cooked, move to a wire rack to cool completely before decorating. 

7 Feb 2012

It Musk Be Love

Valentine's celebrate or not to celebrate? I have the feeling that this is just another commercial holiday that is pushed upon us and forces us yet again to spend money on gifts that I find just too difficult to buy. For the most part, we don't indulge in this holiday. Last year I made a lovely picnic style dinner that we ate on our living room floor at 10pm at night (since the man had to work) and that was it. No fuss, minimal expenses and no panic over finding the perfect gift.

However, with Valentine's Day just around the corner, I can't help but bake a little love. We usually have some sort of strawberry concoction, strawberry being the man's favourite fruit, but this year I wanted to try something different. I love musk sticks, they are so pretty and pink (my favourite colour) and I seem to recall Mum having a stash of Musk Lifesavers in her purse when we were little. So I incorporated these two lollies into my cake and made "It Musk Be Love".

This is a 6 inch musk infused vanilla cake layered and covered in musk chip Swiss meringue buttercream! The perfect size for 2 to share after a romantic dinner. And cake is so much better than a gift!

This is a simple cake to make but requires just a teensy bit of work before hand. You will need to infuse some milk with musk sticks. First, make sure you buy the soft musk sticks, they need to be able to melt in the milk. I used 8 sticks to every 250ml of cold milk, you can use more or less depending on how much you like the flavour. Chop the sticks up into small pieces and place in a saucepan with the milk. Heat over a very low heat stirring every so often until the sticks have dissolved. It is important that you do not boil this mixture as boiling the milk will make it evaporate leaving you with less liquid. Once all the sticks have dissolved, remove from heat and place in fridge to cool down. Once this has cooled you can begin to bake your cake.

Musk Infused Vanilla Cake:

113g cake flour
113g all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
113g unsalted butter
300g castor sugar
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup egg whites
170g musk infused milk
Pink food colouring (optional)

  • Preheat oven to 180 Celsius, grease and line a 6 inch cake pan.
  • Sift together the flours and baking powder, set aside.
  • Beat butter and sugar together on medium speed in a stand mixer until light and fluffy.
  • Add vanilla and mix well.
  • On low speed gradually add in the egg whites scraping down the sides as needed.
  • Add the flour alternately with milk, starting and finishing with the flour mixture. Add food colouring now if you wish to use. (I didn't use any colouring as the milk was pink enough from the musk sticks but if you want a more vibrant pink add as much or as little as you like).
  • Pour the batter into prepared tin and bake on the centre shelf. Bake for 20 minutes initially and then check cake every ten minutes until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. If the top of your cake is browning too quickly, cover with foil until it is finished baking. Mine took almost 50 minutes but my oven is not too reliable so please keep an eye on yours!
  • Allow to cool in tin for 20 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to complete cooling. Once cool it is time to decorate.

Musk Chip Swiss Meringue Buttercream:

285g castor sugar
145g egg whites
285g unsalted butter, cubed and softened
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
Hard musk lollies (candies) like Lifesavers or something similar. Process in a food processor until it resembles fine bread big chunks or you won't be able to smooth it.

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the egg whites and sugar.
  • Place this over a saucepan of simmering water whisking constantly until the sugar begins to dissolve and the mixture gets hot. WARNING: Be careful not to cook the eggs, you want it hot but not scrambled!
  • Fit the bowl to the mixer and whisk on high speed until the mixture is thick and glossy and the bowl has returned to room temperature. This should take roughly 10 minutes.
  • Replace the whisk attachment with the paddle and with the mixer on low speed, add the butter a cube at a time allowing it to incorporate before adding more.
  • Once all the butter is incorporated turn the mixer to medium speed and beat till glossy and smooth.
  • Add the vanilla and musk chips (as much or as little as you like) and beat to incorporate.

You are now ready to decorate your cake!

Of course you may do this however you wish! I split my cake into 3 layers and sandwiched them with a little of the buttercream. Once they were all stacked I covered the whole outside with a layer of the buttercream and used a hot palate knife to smooth it over. I piped a basic shell around the edges and finished the top with a little home made sanding sugar (raw sugar mixed with a few drops of food colour). A perfect cake for my Valentine -xx-