Tag Archives: Chocolate

Brainchild of Halloween

I feel like I’ve been having the greatest kind of days. You too? Nice.

Each day deviated from the original plans. I met one of my closest friends the other day,with the intention of being all big-girl-like and having a fancy dinner followed by drinks at a swanky new joint. Only thing is we made it to the most cliche old-school dinner place in town (the kind that used to be cool when your mom was your age), cheap manicures, flea markets and a much-deserved foot massage. Oh, and those drinks? Swapped it with bubble tea instead.

And yesterday was meant to be productive, only thing is I spent it watching Harry Potter and baking cupcakes. But it was pretty awesome. And today, the beach was on the agenda, but after a late night of dancing, I think it’s going to be more Harry Potter and eating cupcakes. Probably a horror movie thrown in somewhere all in the spirit of Halloween.

My point is, no matter how you plan things, anticipate the scenarios, draw up a five-year route you’re going to take,it’s really rather amazing to go along with a bit of hope that someone’s got a plan you never thought of, but brings you along anyway. I used to get panicky every time I felt the pressure to come up with something, like I needed to conjure a well-thought of road map, with all my back up plans in place. Plus, the hazard that comes with the work I do requires I think of the worst case scenario in every scenario. But the greatest thing comes when you see that it’s okay to not have a plan, or have a plan different from what people expect you to have. I can deal with different.

I can deal with dancing to the music inside my head. I can deal with laughing at things people don’t find that funny. I can deal with eating ice cream for dinner. I can deal with picnics in the living room. And the best thing is, he can deal with me.

To get started, let’s not make pretty cupcakes. Let’s go all cool and CSI-like. Let’s go with brains.

Brain Cupcakes (Chocolate Mud Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream)

Chocolate Mud Cupcakes (adapted from The Crabapple Bakery Cookbook)

3 tbsp instant coffee granules
3/4 cup hot water
250g butter, unsalted
300g dark chocolate, chopped
4 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 cups GF flour blend
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 cups caster sugar
1/2 cup dutch-processed cocoa powder

1) Preheat oven to 160°C. Line three 12-hole cupcake tins with cupcake cases.

2) Dissolve coffee in hot water. Put the butter, chocolate and coffee into a metal bowl, set over a bain marie, and stir gently until butter and chocolate are thoroughly melted. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

3) In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, oil and buttermilk until combined. In another bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar and cocoa together. Make a well in the centre and pour in the egg mixture and mix until well combined. Add the cooled chocolate mixture and mix until homogenous.

4) Divide evenly between the 28 cupcake cases and bake for 25 to 28 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before frosting.

To Frost:

1) Fit a piping bag with a 6 or 8 mm round piping tip. Fill bag with the buttercream.

2) To get the design, pipe 2 straight lines down the centre of the cupcakefollowed by a repeated swirl on either sides. For the ‘blood’, the consistency of lightly warmed cherry/raspberry jam works well. Ensure the jam has NO seeds.

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Filed under Chocolate, Cupcakes, Events, Frostings, Inspired, Recipes

So, You Want to Touch My Ganache?

I’ve been having a disappointing run with the shops. It’s almost as if the universe is conspiring with my wallet to stop me from buying things. I mean, what’s up with 4 hours of shopping and not buying anything?

I know…failure.

But maybe it’s the universe’s way of saying “don’t give up”.

The late nights, frustrated phone calls, missed gym sessions have clearly taken a toll; as my shopping craving rightfully points out. Let’s throw in the seasonal insomnia,uninspired outfits and constant migraines, and I’m a whine bomb.

Still I persevere, whether it’s for that dress, or maybe just to make my way to December. In this case, even after ‘knowing’ the right way of making ganache, trying this new version has just made it all worth it. Worth the extra steps, worth the unsettled feelings I’ve had towards other ganache recipes and worth taking that chance.

The things worth doing are never easy.

Silky  Chocolate Ganache (adapted from Miette)

10 ounces chocolate, 60% or darker, chopped
2/3 cup icing sugar, sifted
3/4 cup plus 1 tbsp heavy cream
2 large egg yolks
3 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature

1) Combine chocolate and powdered sugar in a heatproof bowl

2) In  a saucepan over medium heat, bring the cream to a gentle simmer. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Nest the bowl over a pain of simmering water to create a bain marie. Heat, stirring, until all of the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove bowl from heat.

3) Whisk the egg yolks in a small heatproof bowl. Pour about 1/2 cup of the melted chocolate mixture into the yolks while whisking, to temper them. Pour the tempered mixture back into the pan of chocolate and whisk to combine. Add the butter and stir until smooth. Pour the hot ganache through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean heatproof bowl.

4) Use the ganache immediately, or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks. Ganache does not freeze well.

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{The Fudgier, The Better} Brookies

I must’ve missed out on a lot, especially since I haven’t written in awhile. Have you started taking sugar with your tea? Have the flowers in the garden, blossomed? When did you get your haircut? I like the new streaks in your hair. Glad you went with the maxi dress for that party.

Things have been shifting around here. Some of the dresses I hardly wear have made it into the other wardrobe (the one filled with everyone’s other things); the weather seems to be going bi-polar; relationships have been moving forward (in a great way), I’ve shifted from scaredy cat to daredevil rollercoaster rider. Yeah sure it took a whole lot of convincing together with an insane amount of screaming and cussing but I made it.

So what’s new with you? Some days I figure there’s nothing quite new with me and it’s actually rather comforting. Plus I figure I’m too lazy to think about what’s really ‘new’ since I go through things everyday and it’s not particularly newsworthy. Maybe one day we’ll run out of things to talk about.

When that happens, we can stick to topics about the weather, food and shopping. And you’ll tell me how your day’s been, we’ll spend the afternoon with tea (or coffee, you pick) and something freshly baked. I reckon people always prefer it that way, you know, homemade with love and all that warm fuzzy feelings sort of thing. And if we realllyy end up with nothing but dry words, these Brookies are so fudgey (with a hint of cookie; brookie = brownie + cookie) that it’s almost impossible to talk with them in your mouth.

(non)Conversation sorted. You’re welcome.

Brookies (adapted from Clinton St Bakery)

2 eggs
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup GF flour blend
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups couverture chocolate (55%)
1 tbsp oil
1 tbsp butter

1) Preheat oven to 170°C, fan forced. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment (or Silpat).

2) In a heatproof bowl, melt the chocolate, oil and butter in the microwave using 40 second bursts on med-high heat until melted. Allow to cool for 5 minutes.

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

4) In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar and vanilla together. Slowly add in the melted chocolate and fold as you go. Fold in the flour mixture until no streaks of white are visible.

5) Place the batter on a shallow tray, such as a pie plate, and chill in the freezer for 6-8 minutes or until it firms up slightly.

6) Drop the batter in tablespoonfuls on the prepared baking tray and bake for 11 minutes or until the tops are crackly andslightly firm to touch. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before removing from baking paper. Cookies will be fudgy and chewy. Milk isn’t mandatory but highly recommended for maximum pleasure.

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Filed under Chocolate, Cookies, Recipes

Walnut & Dark Chocolate Scones

One day I might get sick of Foster the People.

One day I will find the perfect chocolate cake recipe.

One day I’ll definitely have cereal for dinner.

One day I could get to see Orcas in real life.

One day I’m going to go shopping with wild abandonment.

One day I shall make my way to Vienna and Germany.

One day I hope to take my mom on a holiday.

Today though, I shall smell like walnut and dark chocolate scones, have lunch with some of my favourite people, then dinner with more favourite people, talk about everything over brownies, listen to more Foster the People, figure out how to do my hair and then change my mind all over again.

It’s really a lot easier focusing on all the things that keep you happy. Some days, the annoyingly optimistic kid in me reminds me that the best things about a crummy day is that it’ll eventually end. And when it does, you better be prepared to embrace the good stuff. There’s no waiting around for it to come back again; think about it…would you sit around while some random stranger comes and takes away the perfect dress?! Thought so.

Wait, is this me being smarter than usual?

I kid. The truth of the matter is, my dad came home for a surprise visit yesterday. My man bought me a cookbook just because. The cutest little boy loved the cake I baked so much that he gave me two thumbs up; twice, and wouldn’t share it with anyone else. My mom did a massive grocery shop up for me. My sister’s coming to dinner tonight. The other one’s thinking about us all the way in London.

It’s all love here!

Walnut and Dark Chocolate Scones [adapted from Gluten-free Gourmand]

1 3/4 cups GF flour blend
1/4 cup oat/sorghum flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup sugar
90g cold unsalted butter, cubed
1 large egg
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
80g dark chocolate, chopped
50g walnuts, roughly chopped

1) Preheat oven to 210°C. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper or Silpat mat.

2) Mix the flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.

3) Whisk the cream, vanilla and egg together.

4) Cut the butter into the flour mix, either by hand, food processor or stand mixer until it resembles breadcrumbs.

5) Mix in the liquids until combined. Stir in the chocolate and walnuts.

6) Tip the scone batter onto the prepared tray and shape into a large rectangle, about 1.5 inches tall. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and gently cut into 9 pieces. Bake for a further 4-5 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

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Filed under Breakfast, Chocolate, Nuts, Recipes

[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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Filed under Bars, Chocolate, Recipes

[Do it like a Dude] Chocolate Beer Cupcakes, Ganache & Beer Frosting

Sometimes you forget that it’s important to make a cupcake that involves three procedures. You don’t realise that it’s probably what you needed to get your head screwed on right. To know that whatever happens, stirring warm cream and dark chocolate will work better than any other form of therapy.

There are cupcakes, the sort that lay it all out for you; cake and frosting. Then there are cupcakes; the ones that hold dark secrets. Maybe they’re more like people; we all have secrets, stories we haven’t told, things we can’t share, the very ones that make us who we are. They don’t define us, they merely shape the way we operate. Much like us, these cupcakes aren’t about to bare all. It’s a dark chocolate cake, filled with ganache and topped with beer frosting. Yeah, it looks like chocolate and vanilla; but the beer gives the cake such an edge, it’s worth trekking to your local store for a gluten-free beer just so you can experience this all for yourself.

Things have happened since I last wrote, and with all that’s said and done, I’m glad I’m returning with these cupcakes; familiar, yet different.

Am I starting to trail off? Are we even talking about cake anymore?

Probably. Most definitely.

Cake makes my heart sing. I hope it does the same to yours too.

Happy New Year, a little late, but better than never! :)

I used Guinness for my cupcakes since the lucky guy who’s receiving them isn’t gluten intolerant. Please, PLEASE find a gluten-free version if you’re allergic to it. I’ve seen sorghum beers around and I’d like to suggest that beer/root beer may work as well!

Chocolate Beer Cupcakes (Adapted from The Butch Bakery Cookbook, makes 12 standard)

1 1/2 sticks butter (180g)
1/2 cup Valrhona cocoa powder (or any natural cocoa)
3/4 cup dark stout (Guiness or try a cola or root beer; poured and settled before you measure)
2 large eggs, broken
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup + 1 tbsp GF flour blend
1/4 cup GF oat flour
3/4 cup caster sugar
1 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt

1) Preheat oven to 170°C. Line a standard 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.

2) In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over a low heat. Stir in the cocoa powder and stout. Allow to cool for 10 minutes.

3) Whisk the flours, sugar, salt and baking powder together in a separate bowl.

4) In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whisk the eggs and sour cream together. Add in the chocolate-stout mixer and mix well. Add in the flour mixture and mix until no white streaks remain. Divide evenly between the cupcake liners. Bake for 22-25 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

5) Allow to cool for 15 minutes before removing from tin to cool completely.

6) To fill, use a small sharp knife to cut a ‘cone’ out of the tops of the cupcakes. Using a melon baller or a small teaspoon, hollow out the hole a little more so it can hold more ganache. Using another teaspoon, fill each cavity with ganache. Top the cupcakes with the cone you just cut out. Press gently so it’s almost flat.

7) Using a palette knife, spread two tablespoons of frosting over the cupcake. Dust with cocoa powder. ENJOY!

Chocolate Ganache

3/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup 55% chocolate chips

1) Place the chocolate chips in a heat proof bowl.

2) Heat the cream in a microwave-proof bowl in 30 second bursts until it starts to bubble. Pour over the chocolate.

3) Using a spatula, slowly stir until all chocolate has melted and combined happily with the cream. Allow to stand until it’s of a spreadable consistency.

Beer Frosting

1 stick unsalted butter, softened (120g)
2 2/3 cups icing sugar
3 tbsp stout
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

1) In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and 2 cups of icing sugar together until well combined.

2) Add in the stout, vanilla and salt. Mix well.

3) If icing isn’t stiff enough, add in the icing sugar, 1/3 cup at a time until you get your desired consistency.

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{Another Chocolatey One} Crackly Brownies

I swear I wasn’t sneaking the odd piece here and there…

I once had an obsession; I wanted to bake brownies like Betty Crocker just without a box mix.

But you know those pouches of liquid Hershey’s fudge you get with the premium brownie mixes? You can’t beat the excitement of ripping it open. It’s like receiving a hand written letter. There’s no way around it.

So instead of trying to make a longer process seem more enticing than Betty Crocker’s one-box-one-bowl-one-PERFECT-tray brownies I’ll just cut to the chase. Betty, I love you, you’re inspiring, but I think you’re losing your touch. Sorry I had to say that, maybe I’m just upset because there’s no gorgeous gluten free version of Betty’s mix. That’s it. Throw a tantrum, make these brownies and be happy Miette wrote a book.

So what’s one gluten-filled dessert you wish you could un-glutenify? I think Mine would be cannoli. There are recipes out there; I just need to get those tube things for frying. And maybe croissants. But for the sake of fitting into interview clothes, I might hold off the pound of butter for now.

I miss going to work. Is that weird? I probably won’t be saying this if I had a job. But I’ll only know it if I did. Which I don’t. Hence, rambling.

Vicky, out.

No stand mixer for me; old school hand held all the way!

Crackly Brownies (adapted from Miette)

1 cup GF flour blend
1 tsp baking powder
1 pound of 70% couverture chocolate, chopped
1 3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup butter, unsalted
2 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
5 large eggs, room temperature

1) Preheat oven to 160°C. Line a 9 x 13inch baking tray with parchment and grease well. [I didn’t have a pan on hand so I used a round cake tin]

2) In a bowl, sift the flour, baking powder and salt together. Melt the chocolate and butter together over a bain marie or in a microwave, medium power, 45 second bursts until melted through. Stir well and leave to cool.

3) In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the eggs and sugar until double in volume. Slowly pour in the chocolate mixture in a steady stream down the side of the bowl while the whisk is running on low speed. Add in the vanilla. Once the chocolate if fully incorporated, using a spatula, fold in the flour until just mixed through. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 18-20 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out with a few moist crumbs clinging to it. Remove from oven and allow to cool immediately (I would put it in an ice bath or in front of a fan).

4) Refrigerate to set before slicing into squares.You may wish to spread a layer of ganache over it if you’d like to be sent into a chocolate induced coma. It’s great.

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Filed under Chocolate, Recipes