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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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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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Homemade Oreos

There are some things that I get obsessed with…and never stop being obsessed until I’ve had so much of it, I feel my knees buckle and my heart ceases to feel the flutter anymore…that is until I get reminded of how great it is and the whole mad cycle starts again.

I first felt this way with Barbie. The clothes, the shoes, the house, the car…the ugly ken doll…and when I turned 14 I thought “meh, time to get over it…” But every year on Halloween after that, I wanted to dress up as Barbie. And I finally did, blonde wig and all. Wasn’t a good look.

Another time I felt it was with jeans. I never grew up wearing the stuff so when skinny jeans was all the rage and every IT girl had their butts squeezed into one, I was all about them too. Pair after pair after pair. Turns out, not only did the make me look short, they also deprived me of half the breathing I should’ve been doing whilst in them.

And lately, my obsession has been deep fried Oreos. It started when I saw an episode of America’s Next Top Model, and one of the models made the confection for everyone in the house. And then I went onto just about every site and started ogling at their Oreos. And then Flour arrived; the amazing book that Joanna Chang has penned. And in there lay the most perfect recipe for Oreos. So I made them, dunked them and boasted about them. I think I’ll be making another batch sooner than you can say deep fried Oreos and Oreo thickshake.

Gluten-free Oreos (adapted from Flour by Joanna Chang)

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and semi cooled
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup (200g) semisweet chocolate, melted and slightly cooled
1 egg
1 1/2 cups GF Flour blend + 2 tbsp
3/4 cup dutch processed cocoa powder (to achieve that black look)
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp baking soda

1) In a medium bowl, whisk the butter, sugar until well combined. Whisk in the vanilla and chocolate. Add in the egg and mix well.

2) In another bowl, stir the flour, cocoa powder (sifted), salt and baking soda. Using a spatula, stir in the chocolate mixture. Joanna says the dough will seem floury- mine seemed a little wet so I added in 2 tbsp of flour. It should have the consistency of playdoh. Let dough sit at room temperature to firm up for an hour. (After this, I shaped them into 1-inch balls, flattened them and baked them. If not, follow the next step)

3) Transfer dopugh to a 15-inch square of parchment. Using your hands, shape dough into a rough log about 10 inches long and 2.5inches wide. Place the log at the end of the sheet of paper and roll it up around the log. With the log fully encased in the paper, smooth is out while keeping it at 2.5 inches wide. Refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm. Log may settle after awhile so re-roll it every 15 minutes or so to maintain it’s rounded shape.

4) Position rack in the middle of the oven. Heat oven to 175°C.

5) Cut log into 0.25inch thick slices and place them about 1 inch apart from each other. Bake for 20-25 minutes (start checking at 17 minutes). They should feel firm to the touch. Remove from oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet until warm. Remove onto wire rack to cool completely. Fill one half with about 1 tablespoon of filling before sandwiching.

Filling

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 2/3 cup icing sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp milk

1) In the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat all the ingredients together until you get a smooth buttercream.

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A Welcoming Cookie

Is it normal to get so excited over something that you plan, plan and plan in anticipation, hoping that doing so will occupy your mind so time passes that much quicker?

I think so. I think we all do it. Especially when a certain boy is coming to visit. I love visits!

Maybe that’s how I’ll feel like when I’m old and grey and my grandchildren come to visit. Perhaps it’s exactly how my grandma feels. Visiting is fun though, especially when it holds the prospect of food.

Well when the boy comes over to visit, he’ll be needing cookies. Plenty in fact, since the only ones he gets aren’t homemade, stuffed with milk chocolate buttons nor made by someone he actually knows. And we all know that makes the difference.

So if you’ve got someone coming to visit too, here’s some cookies they’ll probably love and thank you for. And here’s some from me to you, for visiting.

Chocolate Chip and Oat Cookies (adapted from Eat Me! by Xanthe Milton AKA Cookie Girl)

60ml sunflower oil
85 g unsalted butter, room temperature
90g brown sugar
50g caster sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
110g oats
180g rice flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
170g milk chocolate buttons/chips

1) Preheat oven to 180 degreesC. Line two cookie sheets with greaseproof paper.

2) Mix the oil, butter and sugar together and beat until smooth (it will look fairly runny). Mix in the egg and vanilla, followed by the oats.

3) In another bowl, sift the flour with the baking powder and baking soda. Tip the flour mix into the oats mixture and beat with a wooden spoon until thoroughly combined. dd in the chocolate buttons/chips and stir.

4) Drop heaped tablespoonfuls of the mixture onto the baking tray, leaving 3-5cm between each. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until set. I bake mine crisp since I like crunchy cookies. Cool on the tray for 10 miutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

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I Eat Bears

I’m off to Bali tonight, for a long weekend with a girl friend from uni! So, til then, I thought my bears and bunnies could keep you company.

I suffer from Stuffedtoyitis. It’s quite normal around this household. I don’t know if it’s a genetic problem but my mom is guilty of it too, and my sisters? Hell yeah.

I hate calling it a disease since it makes it sounds alot worse than it is. Call me insane but I like to think that I’m grown accustomed to it’s ‘side-effects’ such as weird stares from colleagues and friends wondering where in the world they picked me up from. The Boy is used to it, actually, I think he’s showing mild signs of Stuffedtoyitis.

And if you’re wondering how to spot those with this syndrome, tell-tale signs include…

1) talking to stuffed toys as if they would really respond
2) giving them names like slumber, Mr P and Blub (short for Blueberry Muffin)
3) watching TV with them because their favourite show is CSI Miami

These are just to name a few. And before you run away thinking all hell has broken loose, remind yourself of Mr Snuffles or your tattered blanket and relish in the joy he brought you. That’s how happy we feel everyday. Society may not be very accepting, but they’re just a grumpy lot.

The bears and bunnies I present today may not be as cuddly as Mr P (my polar bear), but they’re tasty, never get dusty, and are a very obedient bunch. They roll out easily, detach themselves from the baking paper amazingly well and are quick to make without having to chill your dough. Got you with the last step didn’t i?

Sugar Bears and Bunnies (adapted from KAF’s Sugar Cookies)

1.5 cup – 2 tbsp gf flour
2 tbsp gf flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 tbsp cream cheese*
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 an egg (break 1 egg, beat, divide into two)

1) Preheat oven to 180 degreesC. Line two baking sheets with parchment.

2) In a bowl of a KitchenAid, cream the butter and sugar. Add in the egg and beat well.

3) Add in the cream cheese and vanilla. Beat. Add in the flour. Beat until the mixture forms a smooth dough. It will look as if it won’t come together but it will.

4) If dough is too soft to roll out, chill for 30 minutes and try again. If dough is firm enough, roll out on a baking sheet until 1/4 inch thick. Use cute cutters to cut out shapes and gently peel it off the baking paper as if you were peeling a sticker. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until gently browned and surface feels firm to touch. Let cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to wire rack to cool completely.

5) I melted chocolate chips for the faces and piped the details on.

PROBLEM! My chocolate didn’t set so the facial details smudge when touched. Should I put them in the fridge to set up?

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Digestives

Firstly, thanks to everyone who’s just as excited as I am about having my sister home! And the cookbooks! I’ll have the post up on those soon, oh, and along with my “to-bake” wishlist.

Actually, today I have a recipe to share from one of the books she got me *already!* I really couldn’t keep my flour covered hands off the books. In fact, I’ve been pretty good lately, baking from all sorts of books, not leaving any of them out. It’s an accomplishment as many of you will probably understand since it’s really quite testing to not show favouritism to a particular book.

My secret book loves are Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Cake Bible and Heavenly Cakes, Donna Hay’s Modern Classics 2, Sherry Yard’s Desserts by the Yard, Carole Bloom’s The Essential Baker, Jennifer Graham’s The Crabapple Cupcake Cookbook and Sur La Table’s The Art and Soul of Baking.

What are you secret loves? Oh do tell…

On to yummier things, I baked digestives today and for most people, this may be quite a strange thing to bake. Afterall, McVitie’s makes the BEST chocolate covered digestives. I love mine eaten cold, from the fridge, so the chocolate has set into fudge and holds up when I dunk it into my Milo (malted chocolate drink).

But being gluten free means no, no and er…no digestives. What a bummer. Actually, I think the initial stage of becoming gluten free turns you into ‘no’ lady (or man). You practically have to say no to everything! And worse, the people who render you food-impossible. Meh, not cool.

Well these digestives are very, very tasty, just like the packaged ones but better. I find that it doesn’t have that ‘odd’ aftertaste I used to get with the packaged ones. And the chocolate I coated it in? No vegetable fat, just pure 55% couverture chocolate. Talk about snobby digestives! I now have mine cold, sitting in the fridge, waiting for me to sink my teeth into them. And the un-chocolate-d ones would make the greatest cheesecake crust if I dare say so myself.

Prepare for dunkage!

Better Gluten Free Digestives. makes 35-40 (adapted from River Cottage Everyday by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall)

*Gluten-free and Egg-free

125g trans-fat free shortening, softened and cubed
125g butter, softened and cubed
1 1/2 cup GF flour blend
1/4 cup buckwheat flour
250g medium oats (I pulsed GF oats in the food processor for 15-20 seconds)
35g brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp fine sea salt
1-2 tbsp almond milk (any milk’s fine)

1) Preheat oven to 180 degreesC. Grease and line 2 cookie pans with parchment

2) Pulse the butter, shortening and flours in a food processor until it resembles breadcrumbs

3) Add in the sugar, oatmeal, salt and baking powder. Pulse 3 times, 3 seconds each.

4) Pour the dough into a big bowl and using your hands, knead it lightly. Add in 1 tbsp of milk and mix in using your hands. Dough should be slightly sticky, enough to hold together when rolled into a ball. If not, add in more milk, 1 drop at a time.

5) Roll tablespoonfuls of the dough into balls (about 17-18g, I weighed it!) and place onto cookie sheet. Fill  bowl with 1 cup of icing sugar and dip the flat bottom of a glass into the sugar, and press down onto the dough ball to flatten it to about 4-5 mm thick. If it’s too thin, it tends to be too fragile after baking. Dip the glass bottom into icing sugar again and repeat.

6) Before baking, carefully hold the baking tray and the parchment at a angle and lightly tap the tray against the table to remove excess icing sugar from the cookies. Bake for 12-15 mins, or until cookies are fairly firm when touched. They don’t brown too much so colour may not be the best way to test for done-ness. Cool completely on the tray.

7) If you’d like chocolate covered digestives, melt 120-150g of 55% chocolate and let cool to room temp. Then, using a rubber spatula, gentle spread half the cooled cookie surface with the chocolate and place in a single layer, to chill in the fridge until set. Where I live is really warm so I’ve been keeping those in the fridge., The un-chocolate-d ones are good in an airtight container, on the kitchen counter, for hungry, wandering hands.

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A Zig Zac

I’m going to let you in on a secret. Come closer.

Ready? Ok.

I’ve never had an Anzac cookie before. Why is this a big deal? Simply because I lived where the cookie originated from! Imagine, every year, during Anzac day, while everyone had their day off, commemorating the friendship between the Australia and New Zealand, I worked for the double pay and never had an Anzac cookie. Sad stuff. Luckily I’ve had a lamington before, albeit a really dry version from Coles.

Another shocking discovery? I’ve never had Vegemite! Again, have I been living under a rock? To be fair, I’m allergic to the ingredients found in this spread. Apparently it is THE BOMB with crusty toast, thick lashing of butter and a healthy smear of the stuff. I know The Boy’s recently fallen for it, eating it just like his dad does. Am I missing something?

What other national-worthy dishes are there?

I agree with pancakes, maple syrup and bacon. Love my soy beancurd with black jelly(Singaporean hawker dessert at it’s best). So I really should check this whole Vegemite thing out. Anyway, back to the Anzacs, long story short, I finally made them, perfumed the whole house with caramel tinted butter and ate my weight in it before I could get it to the office.

I used Donna Hay’s recipe because who better to trust with a national icon than the iconic Aussie herself. oats + butter, golden syrup, coconut = love. I feel as if history has just been made.

Gluten-free Anzac Cookies (adapted from Modern Classics 2 by Donna Hay)

1 cup rolled oats (GF oats)
1 cup GF flour blend
1 tbsp cornstarch
1/3 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup dessicated coconut
2 tbsp golden syrup (I doubt mine was super accurate since it got messy)
125g butter
1/2 tsp bicarb soda
1 tbsp hot water

1) Preheat the oven to 160 degreesC. Line 2 cookie pans with parchment.

2) In a large bowl, mix the oats, flour, cornstarch, coconut and sugar together.

3) In a medium saucepan, melt the golden syrup and butter. Careful not to boil/burn it. Take off the heat. Mix the bicarb soda andf water together. Pour into the butter mixture.

4) Pour the butter mixture into the dry ingredients, stirring as you go. Mixture will look ‘crumbly’, not very much like a typical batter.

5) Drop tablespoonfuls of the batter onto the parchment, trying your best to keep the batter together (it will seem fairly crumbly but will come together while baking)

6) Bake for 10-12 minutes. Cool on wire rack. Eat and be transported to Australia immediately.

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