Thursday, October 30, 2008

Savory crepes filled with broccolini cheese soufflé

Savory crepes filled with broccolini cheese soufflé

I have certain preconceptions, must admit it. That feeling of “haven’t seen it but don’t like it already” – I’ve tried going against that, but it didn’t work out... and I think it is worse now that I’m older - I’m more intolerant.

I read something the other day about Clint Eastwood’s new movie (hey, Mark, more imdb links for you!) :). Angelina Jolie is on it, so I won’t even bother - no time to waste. If the Oscar buzz involving her drives me nuts already, watching all that “talent” in action will do me no good.

But I’m not a bad person. I also have “haven’t seen it but like it already” moments. Or, in this case, “haven’t eaten but love it already”. :)

And what a great recipe this is! I slightly changed the filling and was really pleased with the result. Running late and starving, I pulled the crepes out of the oven the minute the filling puffed and firmed – that’s why mine don’t have a gorgeously golden crust like the ones Leila made. It's OK: I’ll solve that next time, when I make the crepes filled with hearts of palm soufflé. ;)

Savory crepes filled with broccolini cheese soufflé

Savory crepes filled with broccolini cheese soufflé

125g all purpose flour
1 egg
1 egg yolk
300ml milk
generous pinch of salt
oil for brushing the pan

225g broccolini florets
salt and freshly ground black pepper
45g unsalted butter
45g all purpose flour
300ml milk
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
120g cheddar, grated – I used yellow mozzarella from here, made with cow’s milk (it looks like Monterey Jack cheese)
fresh oregano leaves, to taste
4 tablespoons parmesan, finely grated
4 eggs, whites and yolks separated

Start by making the crepes: sift the flour in a large bowl and make a hole in the center. Add the egg, egg yolk, salt and a few tablespoons of the milk. Whisk well. Gradually add the remaining milk, whisking between additions, until you have added all the milk and the batter is smooth (it will be a rather thin batter).

Heat a 22cm non-stick frying pan over medium heat and brush it lightly with oil. Pour 3 ½ tablespoons of batter into the pan, swirling to cover the bottom completely. Cook for 1-2 minutes, until golden; flip the crepe and cook for further 1-2 minutes. Slide crepe onto a plate. Repeat process with remaining batter, coating the pan again if necessary – you’ll get 8 crepes.

Now, the filling: cook the broccolini florets in a pan of salted, boiling water for 1 minute. Drain, cover with cold water and drain again*.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat, then add the flour, stirring constantly; cook for 1 minute.
Remove the pan from the heat and gradually add the milk, whisking constantly to avoid lumps. Put the pan back over heat, add the mustard, mozzarella, parmesan, salt and pepper, whisking until the cheeses melt. Remove from heat again and set aside to cool completely.

Pre-heat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF; lightly brush a non-stick large baking sheet with oil.

Add the egg yolks to the cooled cheese mixture and mix well. In another bowl, beat the egg whites until firm peaks form. Carefully fold in the egg whites into the cheese mixture, then add the broccolini florets and oregano leaves.

Divide the filling in the center of the open crepes and fold them to encase the soufflé. Place the crepes in the prepared sheet, sprinkle with the extra parmesan (I forgot!) and bake for 15 minutes or until the soufflé is puffed and golden and the crepes are crisp.
Serve with a simple salad.

* I steamed the broccolini florets until al dente

Serves 4

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tangerine meltaways

Tangerine meltaways

You know when something gets stuck on your mind and it’s impossible to let it go? After watching this movie – one of the most beautiful films ever – the soundtrack kept playing in my head for weeks.

The same happened when I saw Jen’s lime meltaways - I had to make those. HAD TO. But I was out of limes (and I swear I’d not used them for caipirinhas). :)
I did have tangerines, though, so my citrus meltaway craving had a happy ending.

I used this recipe and, even though the cookies turned out good, I thought they were better off without the icing.

Tangerine meltaways

Tangerine meltaways

¾ cup (170g) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup (140g) icing sugar, sifted
zest of two tangerines
3 tablespoons fresh tangerine juice
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1¾ cups (245g) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
¼ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon fresh tangerine juice
3 tablespoons icing sugar, sifted
½ tablespoon unsalted butter, melted and cooled
icing sugar, extra

For dough: sift together flour, cornstarch and salt; set aside. Using an electric mixer, cream together butter and icing sugar until smooth. Stir in tangerine zest, juice and vanilla. Add sifted ingredient and mix to incorporate. Divide dough in half; shape into logs, wrap in baking paper and chill for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 160ºC/325ºF; line two large baking sheets with baking paper.

Slice logs into ¼-inch (5-mm) slices and place on a prepared sheets. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes and allow to cool – they won’t turn golden.

For glaze: Whisk together juice, icing sugar and melted butter. Pour glaze over cookies to cover and allow to set, about 1 hour. Sprinkle with icing sugar.

Makes about 24 – I got 32

Friday, October 24, 2008

White chocolate and pecan spice friands for Sugar High Friday

White chocolate and pecan spice friands

Or, “the poor little friand that stood alone”. Because the friand on the photo was the only one I could remove from the pans – all the other 6 got stuck! :(

I’d just received the book by mail and quickly looked for a recipe calling for spices (because of this month’s Sugar High Friday). I’d been meaning to try friands for ages and thought I’d found a great excuse for that (as if I needed an excuse to bake...) :D

My brand new small brioche pans seemed perfect to prepare such precious treats. Too bad it didn’t turn out as I had planned. I did butter them beyond generously, but...

These friands tasted amazing and were tender. I wish I’d gone the simple way and used my muffin pan.

This is my entry for this Sugar High Friday, a sweet and delicious event created by Jennifer and this month hosted by the talented and lovely Anita, who has become a book author!

White chocolate and pecan spice friands

White chocolate and pecan spice friands
from Little Cafe Cakes

100g unsalted butter, room temperature
100g white chocolate, chopped
1 cup ground pecans
6 egg whites, lightly beaten
1 ½ cups (210g) icing sugar
½ cup (70g) all purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice

Preheat the oven to 190ºC. Grease well – very, very well – 10 individual cake or muffin pans.
Place butter and white chocolate together in a bowl and microwave on medium for 1-2 minutes, mixing in 30 second intervals, or use a double-boiler – you want the ingredients to melt, but do not let the butter burn.
Place all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir until just combined.
Spoon mixture into prepared pans; they should be just over ½ full. Bake for 25 minutes.
Let stand in pans for 5 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack.

Makes 10 – I halved the recipe and still got 7

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Chocolate shortbread fingers and gifts from Berlin

Chocolate shortbread fingers

I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m a clickaholic – every time I read something online I click, and click, then click and click again. I go, link after link, and sometimes I don’t even remember where I started. :)

I was listening to Billy Idol’s “Sweet Sixteen” this morning on my way to work – absolutely love that song – and, after googling him, then the song, I ended up here. I did not know about that artist and was really intrigued by his bio and work.

That’s how I met Silvia, a lovely Brazilian blogger who lives in Berlin. I clicked on Technorati, then clicked on one blog that had linked mine... And we became friends.

All the delicious treats you see on the photos were sent by her, all the way from Germany. Isn’t it amazing? You, my blogger friends, will end up spoiling me pretty bad... :)

Silvia, my dear, thank you so much for the gifts!! I loved each and every one of them! xoxo

Another result of my clicking mania was finding this recipe – Jen posted it a long time ago and I urge you to try it, too. These cookies are wonderful and I’m sure you have all the ingredients in your pantry.

Chocolate shortbread fingers

Chocolate shortbread fingers

1 ½ cups (340g/3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 ½ cups + 2 tablespoons (370g) all-purpose flour
4 ½ tablespoons Dutch process cocoa powder
heaping ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup (200g) superfine sugar
granulated sugar, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 160ºC/325ºF. Butter/spray a 30x20cm (12x8in) rimmed baking sheet and line with parchment paper, letting it hang over the long sides. Sift together flour, cocoa, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.

Beat together butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. If you don’t have superfine sugar, process granulated sugar in a food processor for 15 seconds. Add flour mixture and mix until just combined.

Spread dough into baking sheet. Chill dough in refrigerator or freezer for about 15 minutes or until firm. Prick dough all over with a fork. Bake for about 20 minutes or until firm – mine took 35. While still hot, cut into 10x2.5cm (4x1in) pieces. A pizza cutter works wonderfully for this. Sprinkle top of shortbread with granulated sugar, covering completely. Cool completely in the pan.

Makes about 20 (I cut mine a bit shorter and wider than Jen’s)

Chocolate shortbread fingers

Monday, October 20, 2008

Parmesan potato bread

Parmesan potato bread

Daylight Saving Time started on the weekend here and I’m so sleepy... I love this time of the year – the feeling of longer days, especially on the weekends, is fantastic – but the first week is a tough one. :S

A slice of this insanely tender bread – one of Nic’s wonderful recipes – is certainly a great way of starting one’s day, even if the sun hasn't come up yet.
The cheese flavor is very subtle, so spread some butter, jam, Nutella or whatever strikes you fancy. Next time I make this recipe I’ll sprinkle some parmesan over the bread before baking it. Yum!

Parmesan potato bread

Parmesan potato bread

224g/8oz baking/russet potatoes
2 tablespoons (28g) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup (240ml) milk (low fat is fine), room temperature
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
½ cup (120ml) water
4-5 cups (560-700g) all purpose flour – I used 4 ¼ cups
1 cup (100g) Parmesan cheese, grated
1 egg + 2 tablespoons water (for egg wash)

Peel potatoes and cut into even chunks. Boil potato pieces in a small saucepan until tender. Drain cooking liquid and completely mash potato (a ricer works well here) until smooth. Transfer potato to a large mixing bowl and stir in butter and milk, mixing until well combined.
Stir active dry yeast and sugar into the potato mixture. Let stand for 5-10 minutes, until mixture is slightly foamy. Add in salt, water and 3 cups (420g) of flour. Mix until smooth, either stirring with a wooden spoon or using the dough hook attachment on an electric stand mixer. Stir in parmesan cheese and gradually add in additional flour in ¼ cup (35g) increments until dough comes together and pulls away from the sides of the mixing bowl. If using an electric mixer, continue to knead at medium speed for about 5 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic. If mixing by hand, turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5-7 minutes, until dough is smooth and elastic.

Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 45-60 minutes, or until doubled in size.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gently deflate. Divide in half, shape into long, oval loaves and place on a baking sheet generously sprinkled with cornmeal or lined with non-stick baking paper (if using regular baking paper, brush it lightly with butter or oil) – you can made small slits on the surface of each loaf.
Cover with a clean dish towel, and let rise for 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 190ºC/375ºF.
Stir together egg and water with a fork and lightly brush mixture over the risen loaves.
Bake for 30-40 minutes, until bread is a dark golden brown and the bottom sounds hollow when tapped. An internal read thermometer inserted into the center of each loaf will read 90-93ºC/195-200ºF.
Transfer loaves to a wire rack to cool.
Cool completely before slicing.

Makes 2 large loaves

Parmesan potato bread

Friday, October 17, 2008

Chocolate marshmallows

Chocolate marshmallows / Marshmallows de chocolate

My friend and I went to the movies last night to watch “Nights in Rodanthe” and we both got out of the theater even more in love with Richard Gere then we already were. :)

Part of the movie takes place in a beautiful beach, with a house surrounded by balconies. I can easily picture myself there, with a cup of hot chocolate and these marshmallows. Talk about a great way of spending a cold afternoon.

Chocolate marshmallows / Marshmallows de chocolate

Chocolate marshmallows
from Australian Gourmet Traveller

20g powdered gelatin
330g sugar
100ml corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
20g Dutch-process cocoa

60g pure icing sugar, sifted
35g corn starch
15g Dutch-process cocoa

Place gelatin in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, add 1/3 cup (80ml) cold water and let stand for 10 minutes.
Combine sugar, corn syrup and 1/3 cup (80ml) water in a saucepan and stir over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves, bring to the boil and cook without stirring until mixture reaches 121ºC/249ºF on a sugar thermometer. With the mixer on low speed, add this syrup in a thin steady stream and whisk until combined. Scrape down sides of bowl, add vanilla, increase speed to high and whisk for 8-10 minutes or until thick, white and fluffy – I used a Kitchen Aid and in 4 minutes it was done.
Sieve over the cocoa, whisk and transfer mixture to a baking paper-lined, lightly oiled 17cm-square cake pan*, smoothing top and stand overnight. Turn onto a lightly oiled cutting board and cut into squares – coating the knife with cooking spray or brushing it with oil helps a lot.

Sieve together icing sugar, corn starch and cocoa, then roll marshmallows in cocoa mixture to coat.

Marshmallows will keep for up to a week in an airtight container.

* I used a high 15cm square pan and a 20cm square pan would have been even better

Makes about 60

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

White chocolate, cranberry and Cointreau truffles

White chocolate, cranberry and Cointreau truffles

Before I got married, people used to tell me that brides never eat during the wedding – they are too busy walking around, talking to guests, thanking for presents...

I might not have eaten tons of food during the wedding but not because I was terribly busy. I did talk to everyone and it was wonderful to see all those dear faces on such a magical day for me, but that was my day and I wanted it to be about things I like doing. That’s why I danced a lot – so much my shoes were off by the end of the night – and enjoyed the moment with Joao to the fullest, with a slice of cake and ice cream on the side.

The catering company we hired prepared a snack box for us to take to the hotel – that was so nice! There were a lot of sweets in the box and they were delicious – I could enjoy the ones I hadn’t eaten during the wedding. :)

I am telling you all that because my Brazilian buddy Fernanda is hosting an event about wedding sweets and candies, which is something absolutely traditional here in Brazil.
I’m taking part on the event with these truffles; the ones I had on my wedding were plain, with just a touch of brandy, but I wanted to add an unusual ingredient for Brazilians that goes so well with orange – cranberries.

White chocolate, cranberry and Cointreau truffles

White chocolate, cranberry and Cointreau truffles
adapted from here

300g good white chocolate
¼ cup (60ml) whipping cream
1 ½ tablespoons of Cointreau or other orange flavored liqueur
½ cup dried cranberries, finely chopped
1 teaspoon grated orange zest or rind
½ cup (70g) icing sugar

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler (bain-marie).
Warm the cream in a saucepan or microwave but be careful not to scald.
Add the warm cream to the chocolate (still in the double boiler) and mix together until evenly combined.
Remove from heat, add the Cointreau, cranberries and the grated zest and beat the mixture until smooth – chocolate will look curdled, don’t worry. Just beat well until glossy again.
Cover and refrigerate the mixture until it has set, 4 hours or overnight – remove mixture from fridge 10 minutes before rolling the truffles.
With a small spoon or cookie scoop roll small balls of the mixture.
Dust the truffles by rolling them in icing sugar and refrigerate again until hard.
Place into small paper or foil cases to serve if desired.

Makes 25-30

White chocolate, cranberry and Cointreau truffles

Monday, October 13, 2008

Spiced yogurt mini cakes and a box of gifts

Spiced yogurt mini cakes

I got a box full of gifts!!

These were the prizes I won with my sake panna cotta at the event hosted by my lovely friend Clarice. She sent all these amazing things all the way from Japan. Thank you, dear!

I had Clarice in mind while making these mini cakes – they are delicate and pretty, just like her. She loves all things cornmeal, but the wonderful cinnamon she sent was such an inspiration and I felt like baking with that flavor.

Clarice, my friend, I wish I could personally serve you these cakes, on a beautifully set table; since I can’t, I virtually offer them to you, with love!

Spiced yogurt mini cakes

Spiced yogurt mini cakes
from a Brazilian cookbook

1/3 cup skinned almonds, coarsely chopped
225g granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
180g all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
90g unsalted butter, room temperature
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
200g plain yogurt

1 cup (140g) icing sugar
2 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons sliced almonds, slightly toasted

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF; generously butter a 12-cup muffin pan.

In a bowl, place the chopped almonds, 4 tablespoons of the granulated sugar, the cinnamon and nutmeg.
In another bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

Using a stand mixer, cream together butter and remaining granulated sugar. Add the egg and vanilla and beat well. Fold in 1/3 of the sifted ingredients and half the yogurt. Proceed with the remaining dry ingredients and yogurt in 2 additions.

Place a heaped tablespoon of batter in the bottom of each muffin cup. Generously sprinkle with the almond and spice mixture. Cover with cake batter (don’t fill the pan too much or it might overflow while in the oven)
Bake for 20 minutes or until golden and a skewer inserted in the middle of the cakes comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and let cool completely before unmolding.

Make the icing: mix sugar and milk together until smooth and runny – add more milk if necessary. Pour the icing over the cooled cakes and sprinkle with the sliced almonds.

Makes 12

Spiced yogurt mini cakes

Friday, October 10, 2008

Venetian biscuits

Venetian biscuits

I sometimes have the impression that people tend to complicate simple things until they ruin it.
Take the movie I saw last night, for instance (I’m still trying to understand all the fuss and Oscar nominations). A very interesting story – I’ve heard so much about the book I want to read it – was reduced to a sort of fashion editorial. Not to mention the awful choice for a leading lady: a girl who can’t act to save her life, pouts all the time and that probably last ate in 1995.

I wouldn’t do the same to these simple, light and beautiful cookies – it’s a recipe by Ursula Ferrigno that I got on Valentina’s blog. My only change was to add orange zest to the dough. What a wonderful smell that brought to the cookies.

Venetian biscuits

Venetian biscuits

225g (8oz) all purpose flour
225g (8oz) sugar
finely grated zest of 1 large orange
4 egg yolks
1 egg
½ tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF. Line two large baking sheets with nonstick baking paper (or lightly buttered baking paper).

In a medium bowl, beat all the ingredients together to form a dough – start using a wooden spoon then finish mixing by hand.

Working on a lightly floured surface, grab small portions of dough – I used ½ tablespoons per cookie – and roll out the dough into strips or “sausages”; form them into “S” shapes and place on the prepared pans.

Bake for 15 minutes or until golden. Slide the paper to a wire rack and set aside to cool; peel the cookies carefully from the paper.

Makes about 35

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Toffee apple shortbreads

Toffee apple shortbreads

Joao and I went to Sao Paulo’s Mercado Municipal last weekend – the one Anthony Bourdain visited in one episode of “No Reservations”; btw, I’ve read he said some mean things about the city. I hope he never comes back, thank you very much.

Mercado Municipal is a very traditional market, full of lots of types of food and ingredients, but it was my first time there. I went crazy with all the spices, nuts, fruits and veggies, cheese, olives... I got home with several new ingredients to cook and bake with. And an emptier wallet, too. :)

My first choice was some delicious dried apples I’d bought there– they were so good I was glad there was a lot more than the amount called for in the recipe. :)

I found these bars here and used a different pan to make them. Make sure you use a warm knife to slice the bars, so you won't mess up the topping like I did.

Toffee apple shortbreads

Toffee apple shortbreads
from Delicious magazine

Shortbread base:
110g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
40g caster sugar
175g all-purpose flour
10g cornstarch

100g dried ready-to-eat apples, finely sliced
450g firm dulce de leche*
200g dark chocolate, chopped and divided

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF. Grease and line a square 20cm (8in) baking pan, leaving some paper hanging out of the pan on at least two sides (it will make unmolding easier).
To make the shortbread base, cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Sift in the flour and cornstarch and, using a rubber spatula, then your hands, work to a dough. Place in the pan and use your fingertips to roll out flat and into the corners – if you have much too warm hands you might try it with the back of a spoon, lightly dusted with flour.
Bake for 20 minutes or until golden. Set aside to cool.Scatter the apples over the cookie base, spread over the dulce de leche and level out. Chill in the fridge for 1 hour.Melt 150g of the chocolate in a glass bowl over barely simmering water. Remove the bowl from the pan and quickly wipe the water with a kitchen tower – no water should be in contact with the chocolate. Add the remaining 50g of chocolate and beat well to melt it. Pour the melted chocolate over the caramel and apples, then spread evenly. Set aside to cool at room temperature for about 2 hours or until set. Remove from the pan and cut into squares.

* you can warm the dulce de leche into pouring consistency prior to adding it to the cookie base.

Makes 16 squares

Monday, October 6, 2008

Lavender madeleines

Lavender madeleines

Enough with the bad magazines, right? Let’s talk about a really good one – Donna Hay’s.

Those who have read me for a while know about my love for anything Donna – besides delicious and fool-proof recipes, her magazine also brings beautiful ideas for home-décor and entertaining. You have also told me, through comments and emails, that some of you can’t find the magazine where you live and/or it costs too much for you to buy it on a regular basis. I have great news for you: Donna has launched her new website and it looks fantastic! You’ll find tons of recipes there (with photos!) and fabulous style ideas. Go on, take a look! I know you’ll love it. :)

Speaking of marvelous things and talented people, I got the recipe for these madeleines on Helen’s blog and made them using the lavender Allen sent me as a gift.

Lavender madeleines

Lavender madeleines

5 tablespoons (70g) unsalted butter
1 tablespoon dried edible lavender
¾ cup (105g) flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
1/3 cup (67g) sugar
grated zest of half a lemon
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Melt the butter with the lavender and let sit for 10 minutes to infuse. Strain but keep half of the lavender in with butter, or discard the whole amount.
Sieve together the flour, baking powder and salt.
Working with a stand mixer, beat the eggs, sugar and lemon zest until pale and thick, about 3 minutes. Add the honey and vanilla and beat for one minute more. Switch to a rubber spatula and incorporate the dry ingredients. Fold in the butter. Refrigerate the batter at least 2 hours or up to 3 days (it helps with the bumps characteristic of the madeleines).

Preheat oven at 200ºC/400ºF.
Butter and flour your madeleines molds and divide the batter evenly.
Bake for 12-14 minutes until they are golden brown.

Makes 12 – Helen got 24; I halved the recipe and got 15

Lavender madeleines

Friday, October 3, 2008

Brownie roll-out cookies and Bon Appétit has disappointed me. Again

Brownie roll-out cookies

Remember when I complained about Bon Appétit?? Back then, I sent their Customer Service an email asking for information on the cancellation process – just wanted to know if there would be a refund in case I decided to cancel the subscription. Now, weeks later and no answer from them, I found out that they simply cancelled my subscription without my asking. Can you believe it?
Thank you, Bon Appétit, for making WISE decisions for me! :S

Luckily, I don’t need that magazine to get great recipes – there are other sources, and much better ones. Like the wonderful food blogs I read.

I got the recipe for these delicious and addictive cookies on Deb’s blog and the inspiration for cutting them like stars came from the gorgeous cookies Vitor Hugo baked the other day.

And speaking of blogs I love, I made these cookies using one of the gifts my dear friend Ivan brought me from his trip to the US – something Nic posted about this week:

Brownie roll-out cookies

3 cups (420g) all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 cup (226g/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened + pinch of salt
1 ½ cups (300g) sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup (60g) unsweetened cocoa

Preheat oven at 180ºC/350ºF. Whisk flour, ½ teaspoon salt and baking powder in bowl and set aside. Mix butter, pinch of salt, sugar, eggs, vanilla and cocoa in mixer. Gradually add flour mixture, and mix until smooth. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least one hour.

Roll out cookie dough on floured counter (I rolled it between lightly floured sheets of baking paper) until it is ¼ inch (about 0.60cm) thick. Cut into desired shapes, brushing extra deposits of flour off the top.
Bake on a parchment-lined baking sheet for 11 minutes or until the edges are firm and the centers are slightly soft and puffed.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Makes... according to Deb, a lot. I halved the recipe, used a 5cm (2-in) star cutter and got 45 cookies.

Brownie roll-out cookies

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Brioche filled with chocolate ganache

Brioche filled with chocolate ganache

After all those tears on the weekend, a video made me laugh my heart out Monday night. Have you seen the 9 year-old boy who acts like Gordon Ramsay? I watched the video 3 times in a row – that’s how much I liked it. And there wasn’t a fourth because Joao said I would probably wake up the entire building. :)

“There is nothing like a day after another” – my granny always says. Despite her sailor’s mouth, she’s quite a wise person. :)
That’s why I bring this brioche to you today. After that bomb, I deserved some good bread. And this, my friends, is superb.

Brioche filled with chocolate ganache

Brioche filled with chocolate ganache
from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

Brioche dough*:
1 ½ cups (360ml) lukewarm water
1 ½ tablespoons granulated yeast (1 ½ packets)
1 ½ tablespoons salt
8 eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup honey
1½ cups (340g/3 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
7½ cups (1.050g) unbleached all-purpose flour

¼ pound (112g/4 ounces) bittersweet chocolate – I used 60% cocoa solids
2 tablespoons (28g) unsalted butter, plus more for greasing pan
4 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon rum – I used brandy
5 tablespoons corn syrup
1 egg white, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water
Granulated sugar for sprinkling on top

Start by making the dough: mix the yeast, salt, eggs, honey and melted butter with the water in a 5-quart (4.7 liter) bowl or lidded (not airtight) food container. Mix in the flour without kneading, using a spoon. You can also use a 14-cup capacity food processor or a heavy-duty stand mixer with dough hook. If you’re not using a machine, you may need to use wet hands to incorporate the last bit of flour. The dough will be loose but will firm up when chilled. Don’t try to work with it before chilling. You may notice lumps in the dough but they will disappear in the finished product.

Cover (not airtight) and allow to rest at room temperature until dough rises and collapses (or flattens on top), approximately 2 hours.

The dough can be used as soon as it’s chilled after the initial rise. Refrigerate in a lidded (not airtight) container and use over the next 5 days. Beyond 5 days, freeze the dough in 1-pound (450g) portions in an airtight container for up to 4 weeks. When using frozen dough, thaw in the refrigerator for 24 hours before using, then allow the usual rise and rest times.

Now, make the ganache: melt the chocolate over a double boiler or in the microwave on low, until smooth. Remove from heat, add the butter and stir until incorporated.
Stir the cocoa into the rum, add the corn syrup and mix until smooth. Add to the chocolate and butter mixture.

Lightly butter a 9x4x3-inch nonstick loaf pan (I used a regular 26x10x5cm pan lined with baking paper). Dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a 1-pound (450g/grapefruit-sized) piece. Dust the piece with more flour and quickly shape in into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter turn as you go. Using a rolling pin, roll out the ball into a ¼-inch (0.60cm) thick rectangle, dusting with flour as needed.

Spread ½ cup of the ganache evenly over the rectangle, leaving a 1-inch (2.5cm) border all around. Starting at the short end, roll up the dough, being careful to seal the bare edges. Gently tuck the loose ends underneath, elongate into an oval and drop into the prepared pan. Allow to rest 1 hour and 40 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF. Using a pastry brush, paint the top crust with the egg white. Sprinkle lightly with granulated sugar.

Bake the brioche for about 45 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the sugar caramelizes. Remove from the pan and cool slightly, then drizzle the remaining ¼ cup ganache over the top crust. Cool completely and slice.

* this amount of dough makes four 1-pound loaves – I halved it to make two.

** this amount of ganache is enough to fill and drizzle over one 1-pound loaf – I doubled it to make two.

Brioche filled with chocolate ganache

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