Category Archives: Bars

[Heart Throb] Dark Cocoa Brownies

A few things have turned dark recently. For one, I look in the mirror now and see the darkest hair I’ve ever had. I haven’t decided if it’s because of my recent quest to complete the entire Underworld series or if it’s me deciding that I would much rather spend more time doing other things as opposed to sitting in a chair at the salon, waiting. [natural hair colour = black hence, no more having to re-colour it]. Don’t you just love it when your hairdresser does exactly as you want and not suggest you have flaming red hair instead.

Then there’s also my new favourite dark cocoa brownie recipe. Well, technically it isn’t new; it’s just a renewed love for it. Challenging my idea that brownies made with melted chocolate are richer (therefore, better, duh!), a damn fine cocoa makes for a wicked brownie. I think I’ve met my soul mate equivalent. Now, only to find the perfect excuse to bake it all the time.

On a completely random note, try saying dark 10 times in a row, stressing on the ‘arrrkk’ part. Bet you’ll start finding it a rather bizarre word.

In other non-related news, I chanced upon a book yesterday ‘Perfect Kids Names’. Don’t give me that look, it was right next to the cookbook section. But my point is…what in the world is a perfect child’s name?! Are we not seeking perfection in pretty much everything already? Now we’re even trying to control what other people name their kids? Will people be telling me when’s the best time to eat chicken soon? Actually, they’ll probably tell me how much carbon eating meat causes and make me feel guilty. And I can repent for my sins by hugging trees.

I love vegetarians, just not the hemp wearing, yoga posing, meat-is-the-spawn-of-the-devil ones.

Brownies are vegetarian. So I guess we can all just get along now?

Dark Cocoa Brownies

2 sticks butter, melted
3/4 cup GF flour blend
1 cup natural cocoa powder (it’s worth seeking out the best; I use Varlhona)
pinch of salt
2/3 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp hot water
2 large eggs
2 tbsp heavy cream (or milk)
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)

1) Preheat oven to 170°C. Line a 8-inch square baking pan with greaseproof paper.

2) Sift the cocoa powder, flour and salt together. Add in the caster and brown sugar. Toss to mix.

3) Add in the melted butter and stir well.

4) In another bowl, mix the eggs, water, vanilla and cream together. Add this to the cocoa mixture. Stir to combine.

5) Fold in the walnuts. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 27 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out with a few crumbs/is moist.

6) Allow to cool before slicing! :)

 

 

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Lemon Meringue Bars

Today someone asked me why I didn’t want to be a fashion blogger since I’m obsessed with adding new things to be wardrobe all the time. I didn’t really know how to answer them. Do I like food more than I love pretty things? I love things; especially ones that make the usual me feel like SHAZAAAAMMM!!! me. Like those wide leg, high waisted flare jeans.

I came up with something half decent as she stared at me, waiting for an answer.

I don’t like taking full body photos of me and if I were to be a fashion blogger, that’s the sort I’d be. So see, it’s not that I didn’t want to…I couldn’t. Physical limitations.

Food on the other hand, can also get quite fussy. Thank goodness you can eat them after all the effort. It’s the washing up that realllyyy reeks. And the slaving over a hot stove part. You can’t win it all.

So I found a great way to satisfy my need to dress up and keep this blog going…super cute aprons! Don’t feel bad if you need to wear a string of pearls or have winged eye-liner on while you bake; I totally get what you mean.

Dad went straight for it after the photos

Besides, you never know when company’s coming, especially if you’re going to be baking these succulent, buttery lemon meringe bars. You can’t possibly answer the door looking like that.

Lemon Meringue Bars (adapted from The Essential Baker & The Sweeter Side of Amy’s Bread)

Base
1 cup + 2 tbsp GF flour blend
1/4 cup GF oat flour
1/2 cup icing sugar
5 tbsp cornstarch
pinch of salt
156g cold butter, unsalted

1) Preheat oven to 175°C. Grease and line a 9 x 13 baking tray with parchment.

2) Dice butter into 2-inch cubes and place it in the freezer for 5 minutes while you gather the remaining ingredients.

3) Mix the flours, icing sugar and salt together.

4) Do this either in a food processor or a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment: Pour 1/2 of the flour mix and all the cold butter into the mixing bowl and (food processor) pulse on and off until the butter starts mingling with the flour. Add in the remaining flour and pulse until it comes together to form a dough. (Stand mixer) Do the same, but have the motor running on medium-low until you get a dough. Do not over mix. Place the mixture into the prepared pan and press firmly with your fingers, ensuring the dough covers the base of the pan and about 1/2 inch up the sides, to prevent filling from flowing over.

5) Place in the freezer for 10 minutes and bake for 20 minutes or until lightly golden. Remove from oven and pour filling over the base. Bake for another 20 minutes or until filling has just set. Top with meringue either by dolloping heaping spoonfuls over the lemon filling or piping it in swirls and stuff. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven, cool completely before slicing. It’s even better when it’s been refrigerated for 3-4 hours.

Filling
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs, beaten
3 tbsp GF flour blend
145g lemon juice (about 5/8 cup)
1/4 cup + 1 tbsp whole milk
pinch of salt

1) Mix all the ingredients together and whisk well.

Meringue
4 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cream of tartar

1) Place the egg white, sugar an cream of tartar in a bowl of a stand mixer. Place the bowl of a pot of simmering water and whisk constantly until an instant-read thermometer registers 60°C. It will look thick and foamy. Remove from pan and place bowl on the mixer and whisk on high speed until you get a glossy shiny meringue which holds stiff peaks.

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Crispy Blondies with Cream Cheese Swirls

Guess who I got to meet today?! Let me give you a hint…if he can cook, so can you!

No takers? You sure…? Come on, take a wild stab at it…Give up?

Martin Yan!!!

I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve never used a single one of his recipes and I’ve never reached near obsessive state with him, unlike my love for Nigella or Buddy. But he has got to be one of the first TV chefs I ever watched. He taught me how to steam food in those bamboo steamer baskets over a wok of boiling water. He taught me the word ‘julienne’ and he’s definitely the one who taught me the cornstarch + water slurry for thickening. All the very fundamentals of Chinese cooking I must say.

And he’s coming to Singapore for a tour and presenting a couple of masterclasses and dinners. OOOOH BOY! I was sooo excited. He steamed things in the little steamer baskets!

He used the cornstarch slurry. And julienned things. Whoah!

Madness aside, I made crispy blondies yesterday, crispy only because I added Crunch (the chocolate with the rice krispies- they’re NOT gluten free so please use another if you’re coeliac) in it. So good. I love knowing that brown sugar, butter and chocolate will always create magic in the oven. Throw in a lovely swirl of cream cheese and it’s practically self-frosting heaven. Plus, it looks all top chef-y when there are swirls involved.

Crispy Blondies with Cream Cheese Swirl (adapted from The Complete Magnolia Bakery by Allysa Torey and Jennifer Appel)

Cream Cheese Filling:

4 ounces cream cheese (not too soft)
2 tbsp caster sugar
1 tbsp GF flour blend
1 large egg yolk

1) In a medium bowl, mix the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Slowly blend in the egg yolk and flour until fully incorporated. Set aside.

Blondies

1 1/2 cups GF flour blend
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup caster sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup Crunch chocolate bars, chopped (or a gluten free version for those who are Coeliac)

1) Preheat oven to 170°C. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together. Add in the oil and beat well.

2) In another bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and salt together.

3) Add the eggs to the butter mixture and blend well. Add in the flour mix and vanilla extract. Mix well.

4) Stir in the chocolate bars and pour into a 13 x 9 inch baking pan, greased and lined with parchment paper.

5) Bake for 35-40 minutes, but check at the 30 minutes mark. Skewer inserted should come out clean. Allow to cool to room temperature before serving.

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Lemon Squares

Recently I discovered a problem with me. And I’m proud to say that I’m probably not the only one. I’m sure that even as I’m typing this, someone is guilty of commiting this ‘problem’. And how can anyone blame you? It’s not your fault that you don’t always have fresh nutmeg to grate or vanilla sugar you so dutifully prepare every time you have a vanilla pod just…lying around. So what do we do? We improvise, and change, and sometimes, invent.

But you see, the big problem with that, my friend, is that I don’t really know how a recipe from my stash of cookbooks is really supposed to taste like. And that, is a problem. How can I tell if this is the best possible way to do something if I don’t know the original way it’s supposed to be done! So I decided, I shall follow a recipe for once, just this once, and see how it turns out. Okay, so I cheated and used a book I had utmost faith in, but I just couldn’t bear the thought of something horrid coming out of the oven.

I made Rebecca Reilly’s Lemon Squares from her Gluten Free Baking book. The squares were really, and I mean really simple to make. And quick and most importantly, absolutely tasty. The shortcrust bottom is not to thick or dense, but doesn’t crumble too easily, a fault many GF cookie bases suffer from. The lemony filling? Slightly sticky, sour and easy to cut through and impossible to mess up.

Gluten Free Lemon Squares from here

2 c GF flour blend
1/2 c almond meal/hazelnut meal
1 stick of butter, diced and kept in the freezer for 5 minutes
1/3 cup icing sugar
1/4 tsp xantham gum
1/8 tsp salt

1) Preheat the oven to 175degreesC. Lightly grease a 13 x 9inch baking pan for thin bars or an 8inch square pan for thicker bars. Line the pan with buttered parchment paper.(I didn’t do this because my pan was non-stick)

2) To make the crust, mix together the gluten-free mix, almong flour, icing sugar, xantham gum and salt. Using your fingertips, work the butter into the dry ingredients. Do not overmix. You want to have a crumbly texture. (To test if it was ‘wet’ enough, I lightly squeeze the crumbs to see if they would form a dough) Press the mixture ino the prepared pan and bake for 20 mins of under slightly golden brown. (Mine ended up slightly undercooked so I recommend baking it for a little longer, maybe 23 mins)

Filling

3 eggs
1 1/2 c granulated sugar
1/3 c fresh lemon juice

1) To make the filling, beat the eggs and sugar together. Add in the lemon juice and whisk.

2) Pour the filling over the hot crust. Return to oven and bake for another 20 mins. The edges will begin to brown. Cool before dusting with more icing sugar. Cut into about 2inch squares.

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