Thursday, February 28, 2013

Chocolate whiskey Bundt cake

Chocolate whiskey Bundt cake / Bolo de chocolate e whiskey

“Beasts of the Southern Wild” premiered here last week and a couple of days ago I finally watched it – the movie is absolutely beautiful and moving and I could then understand all the awards. Quvenzhané Wallis is lovely and very talented – kids in movies are cute but to me not all child stars have an actor’s aura, so to speak, but Quvenzhané certainly does; I believe she’s that kind of person who was born to act (something I thought of Tom Holland while watching “The Impossible”).

My sister, a.k.a. “my partner in crime for all things cinematographic”, also loved “BotSW” – which was a relief, since she hadn’t liked my previous choice – and for the first time in over four years of watching movies together I saw her crying, and to me that was pretty intense.

I don’t drink coffee – I don’t like the flavor despite loving its smell – and therefore I never bake with it, but I guess that there’s a first time for everything in life and to me this delicious, moist and chocolatey cake – not to mention boozy – was a first for liking coffee flavor in desserts.

Chocolate whiskey Bundt cake
slightly adapted from the great Gourmet Today: More than 1000 All-New Recipes for the Contemporary Kitchen

1 cup (90g) Dutch-processed cocoa powder + 3 tablespoons for dusting pan*
1 ½ cups (360ml) brewed coffee
½ cup (120ml) American whiskey – I used Johnny Walker
1 cup (226g/2 sticks) unsalted butter, coarsely chopped
2 cups (400g) granulated sugar
2 cups (280g) all-purpose flour
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
whipped cream, for serving (optional)

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 160°C/325°F**. Generously butter a 12-cup capacity Bundt pan, then dust with 3 tablespoons cocoa powder, knocking out excess (1 ½ tablespoons of cocoa were enough to dust my pan).
Heat coffee, whiskey, butter, and remaining 1 cup cocoa powder in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, whisking, until butter is melted. Remove from heat, then add sugar and whisk until dissolved, about 1 minute. Transfer mixture to a large bowl and cool 5 minutes.
While chocolate mixture cools, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Add the eggs, one at a time, to the cooled chocolate mixture and whisk until combined well. Whisk in the vanilla. Add flour mixture and whisk until just combined (batter will be thin and bubbly). Pour batter into prepared pan and bake until a wooden pick or skewer inserted in center comes out clean, 40-50 minutes.
Cool cake completely in pan on a rack, about 2 hours. Loosen cake from pan using tip of a thin metal spatula, then invert onto a plate.
Serve with whipped cream, if desired.

* the original recipe called for natural cocoa and baking soda; since I only had Dutch-processed cocoa at home, I adapted the recipe to use it and replaced the baking soda for baking powder following the instructions on this link

** I baked my cake at 180°C/350°F for 45 minutes

This cake improves in flavor if made at least 1 day ahead and kept, in a cake keeper or wrapped well in plastic wrap, at cool room temperature. It can be made up to 5 days ahead and chilled. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Serves 10-12

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Plum and ginger crumble with flapjack topping

Plum and ginger crumble with flapjack topping / Crumble de ameixa e gengibre com cobertura de flapjack

As I’d imagined, my list of favorites wasn’t on the Academy members’ minds, but at least Ang Lee took home the Best Director award and that was great – the moment his name was announced I jumped on the bed so hard I ended up waking up my husband. :D

I have tremendous respect for Lee who, to me, is one of the best directors out there: not only is the man super talented but also very versatile – how many directors actually deserve both adjectives? Too bad, once again, his movie did not get the Best Picture award, but just as to me “Brokeback Mountain” was the best movie back in 2005 “Life of Pi” was the best in 2012.

And, speaking of best this and best that, this crumble comes from one of the best cookbooks I own, and certainly one of the most beautiful as well: the flapjack topping - and by flapjack I mean the cereal bar and not pancakes, as the fantastic Jeremy Irons explains to Martha - is so good I’ll try this recipe with apples once fall arrives.

Plum and ginger crumble with flapjack topping / Crumble de ameixa e gengibre com cobertura de flapjack

Plum and ginger crumble with flapjack topping
slightly adapted from the wonderful Good Things to Eat (mine was bought here)

250g small plums, halved, stones removed
1 teaspoon finely chopped crystallized ginger
1 tablespoon water
pinch ground cinnamon
50g + 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, divided use
¼ cup (50g) + 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, divided use
1/3 cup (30g) rolled oats
1/3 cup (46g) self-raising flour*
½ tablespoon golden syrup
1 ½ tablespoons heavy cream – I used sour cream I had left from another recipe

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F. Have ready a shallow 500ml-capacity ovenproof baking dish.
Put the plums in a small saucepan with the ginger, water, cinnamon and 1 tablespoon of the butter. Cook over medium heat for a few minutes, until the plums have started to soften. Transfer the mixture to the ovenproof dish and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the sugar.
In a small bowl, mix together the oats, the remaining sugar and the flour. Melt the remaining butter in a saucepan, remove from the heat then add the golden syrup and cream and mix well. Pour over the oat mixture and stir together. Spoon on top of the fruit, level out in a thin even layer about 1cm (½in) thick – try not to make it any thicker, or it may not cook through. Put the baking dish on a baking sheet and bake for about 30 minutes or until fruit is bubbly and topping until is set and golden brown.
Cool for 10 minutes then serve with cream or vanilla ice cream.

* I replaced the self-raising flour for 1/3 cup (46g) all purpose flour + ¼ teaspoon baking powder + pinch of salt

Serves 2 or 1 very greedy and hungry person :)

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Chocolate snickerdoodles + my Oscar votes

Chocolate snickerdoodles / Snickerdoodles de chocolate

Later on today we'll know who will take home the 2013 Oscars - if I could choose the winners, my list would be the following:

- Best picture: "Life of Pi"
- Best director: Ang Lee
- Best actor in a leading role: Joaquin Phoenix
- Best actress in a leading role: Naomi Watts
- Best actor in a supporting role: Philip Seymour Hoffman (I would give it to Leonardo DiCaprio, but...)
- Best actress in a supporting role: Helen Hunt

Probably none of the above will take home the award, but that doesn't matter - they're the ones I'd vote for. And while my Oscar choices may not be the most popular ones, at least my cookies are: these very simple to make yet delicious snickerdoodles were a hit with my husband's coworkers. :)

Chocolate snickerdoodles
from the always delicious Food & Wine

1 ¾ cups (245g) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
½ cup (113g/1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
55g (2oz) dark chocolate, melted and cooled – I used one with 53% cocoa solids
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For coating the cookies:
½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F. Line two large baking sheets with baking paper.
In a bowl, sift the flour with the baking soda, baking powder and salt. In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until creamy. Add the melted chocolate, the egg and the vanilla and beat until smooth. Beat in the dry ingredients until incorporated.
In a shallow bowl, mix the sugar and cinnamon to coat the cookies. Roll the dough into 2.5cm (1in) balls and roll in the cinnamon sugar. Transfer to the prepared sheets, placing them 5cm (2in) apart, then flatten slightly. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the cookies are puffed and cracked. Transfer to racks and let cool.

Makes 3 dozen – I used 1 leveled tablespoon of dough per cookie and got 50 small snickerdoodles

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Maple-iced fruity Advent bread

Maple-iced fruity Advent bread / Pão do Advento com frutas secas e glacê de xarope de bordo

Trying the lime and coconut flavor combo both in cookie and cake form was not the end of my testing around: the apricot, cranberry and golden raisin trio worked out so beautifully in oatmeal cookie form that I thought it would be wonderful to use it again, this time in a yeasted treat: this delicious bread, with a hint of cardamom, comes from one of the best cookbooks I’ve ever bought – and let’s just say that means a lot! – and my husband, after trying a slice of bread, could not believe how tender it was – I did not keep track but I’m pretty sure he said that more than five times. :D

Maple-iced fruity Advent bread
slightly adapted from the beautiful, beautiful Scandilicious Baking

1 cup (240ml) whole milk
1/3 cup (75g) unsalted butter
2 cups + 2 tablespoons (300g) all purpose flour
¾ cup + 2 tablespoons (125g) whole wheat flour
1/3 cup + ½ tablespoon (72g) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon freshly ground cardamom
¼ teaspoon table salt
2 ¾ teaspoons dried yeast
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup (60ml) Marsala wine
150g mixed dried fruit (I used 50g each of golden raisins, chopped apricots and dried cranberries)
1 egg, beaten with a fork, to glaze

½ cup (70g) icing sugar
1 tablespoon maple syrup

Bread: scald the milk by heating it in a small pan with the butter until it is almost boiling and then leave to cool while you assemble the other ingredients. Scalding the milk makes the finished bread softer.
Place the flours, sugar, cardamom, salt and yeast in the large bowl of an electric mixer (place salt in one side of the bowl and yeast in another, so they’re not close). Add the egg and vanilla, then the warm milk mixture (make sure it’s not hot) and, using the dough hook, mix on medium speed until a soft and sticky dough forms. Mix for 5-6 minutes or until elastic. Transfer to a lightly buttered large bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Leave to rise in a warm place for 45-60 minutes or so until doubled in size and springy to the touch.
While the dough is rising, pour the Marsala over the dried fruit in a small bowl. Leave to soak for 30-40 minutes, turning the fruit occasionally so they’re all soaked in the wine. Drain the fruit right before adding it to the dough, discarding the wine.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface, than add the fruit and knead a couple of times to incorporate and evenly distribute. Divide dough in half and shape each half into a rough loaf shape. Place them about 10cm (4in) apart onto a large baking sheet lined with foiled. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and leave to prove in a warm place for a further 45-60 minutes of so, until the dough no longer springs back: you can test it by gently poking it with your little finger – the indentation should stay put – in the meantime, preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F. Brush the loaves with the beaten egg, then bake for 30-35 minutes until the loaves are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped on the base. Cool on the sheet for about 20 minutes, then carefully peel off the foil and transfer to a wire rack. Cool completely.
When the bread is cool, sift the icing sugar into a small bowl and whisk in the maple syrup until thick but still drizzable – add water if necessary. Drizzle over the cooled loaves and set aside for 15 minutes to dry.

Makes 2 loaves

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Lime coconut cake

Lime coconut cake / Bolo de coco e limão

If I obsess over movies, TV shows and music things wouldn’t be different with food: certain flavors and dishes get my attention from time to time and I find it hard to resist them.

After baking those delicious lime coconut cookies – which looked so cute, by the way – I wanted to make something else with those flavors and this cake was the perfect choice: very tender, with a nice hint of citrus and a delicious coconut topping (I’m a complete sucker for toasted coconut). As a bonus, the recipe comes from a magazine I believe many of us miss, but luckily for us its website is very, very rich.

Lime coconut cake
slightly adapted from the oh, so beautiful and missed Gourmet mag

1 cup (100g) sweetened flaked coconut
½ cup (113g/1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 ¼ cups (250g) granulated sugar
finely grated zest of 2 large limes
2 large eggs
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ¾ cups (245g) self-rising flour*
½ cup (120ml) coconut milk
¼ cup (60ml) whole milk
¼ cup (60ml) fresh lime juice, divided
1 cup (140g) confectioners’ sugar
½ tablespoon rum (optional)

Preheat oven to 180°/350°F with rack in middle. Generously butter a 22x5cm (9x2in) round cake pan and line bottom with a round of parchment paper. Butter paper as well.
Toast coconut in a small baking pan in oven, stirring once or twice, until golden, about 6 minutes. Cool. Leave oven on.
Beat together butter, granulated sugar, and zest with an electric mixer until fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, followed by the vanilla. Stir together flour and ½ cup (50g) of the coconut (reserve remainder for topping). Stir together coconut milk, milk and 2 tablespoons of the lime juice. At low speed, mix flour and milk mixtures into egg mixture alternately in batches, beginning and ending with flour.
Spoon batter into pan and smooth top. Bake until golden and a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, 40-45 minutes. Cool to warm, then turn out of pan and discard parchment.
Sift the confectioners’ sugar into a small bowl, then whisk in remaining 2 tablespoons lime juice, and rum (if using) and pour over cake. Sprinkle with remaining coconut.

* instead of self-rising flour, I used 1 ¾ cups (245g) all purpose flour + 1 ¾ teaspoons baking powder + ¼ teaspoon table salt

Serves 8

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Lemon poppy seed brioche and learning from previous recipes

Lemon poppy seed brioche / Brioche de limão siciliano e semente de papoula

Cooking and baking to me, besides being loads of fun, are definitely a learning process – I think that certain recipes go beyond the deliciousness of their final products: they teach you something.

I was making these lemon brioches and after the dough had proved for the first time it was too sticky and too soft to be shaped. That was when I remembered Paul Hollywood’s brioche recipe, in which the dough has to be refrigerated in order to be firm enough to be shaped into buns, and that’s what I did – it worked perfectly.
These brioches aren’t very sweet and to me that makes them perfect to be slathered with butter or jam while still warm, and let me tell you: these will probably disappear in a matter of moments. :)

Lemon poppy seed brioche
slightly adapted from the always lovely and delicious Delicious - Australia

¼ cup (60ml) lukewarm whole milk
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
¼ cup + 1 tablespoon (62g) granulated sugar
2 cups + 1 tablespoon (300g) all purpose flour
pinch of salt
3 eggs
finely grated zest of 2 lemons
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
160g unsalted butter, softened
1 egg, extra, for brushing the brioche

Combine milk, yeast and 1 tablespoon of the sugar in the large bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook and stir to combine. Set aside for 5 minutes or until mixture starts to foam. Add remaining sugar, flour and salt to the yeast mixture and beat for about 6 minutes on medium speed or until a rough dough forms (my dough was too dry, so I added 1/3 cup of warm milk). Add the 3 eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add zest, vanilla and poppy seeds, and beat to combine. Gradually add butter, beating after each addition. Continue beating on medium speed for about 8 minutes or until dough is smooth and elastic – it will be very soft. Transfer to a lightly buttered large bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave for 1 hour or until doubled in size, then refrigerate for 4-5 hours (otherwise the dough will be too soft to be shaped).
Generously butter a 12-cup muffin pan (1/3-cup capacity cavities). Remove dough from the fridge and transfer to a lightly floured surface. Knead 3-4 times, then divide into 12 balls. Divide each ball into 3 smaller balls. Place 3 small balls in each muffin hole, loosely cover with a clean kitchen towel and leave for 40 minutes or until doubled in size.
In the meantime, preheat oven to 180°C/350°F. Lightly whisk the egg with a fork and brush the top of each brioche with it. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden and a skewer inserted into center comes out clean. Cool in the pan over a wire rack for 5 minutes, then carefully unmold and transfer to the rack to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature (these reheat really well).

Makes 12

Friday, February 15, 2013

Swedish almond cake (Toscatårta)

Toscatårta (Swedish almond cake / Bolo de amêndoa sueco)

Last week I finally watched “Silver Linings Playbook” and I thought it was a good movie – not a great one. I don’t really get all the fuss about it, or the several award nominations, especially for best picture and best director – Paul Thomas Anderson should be in David O’Russell’s place, or at least Ben Affleck should because of his super popular “Argo”. Jennifer Lawrence is fantastic – she’s my girl crush, you know that – but in a perfect world her performance would never top Naomi Watts’ in “The Impossible” (I’m comparing the performances I’ve seen, that is why I haven’t mentioned the other Best Actress nominees). Oh, expectations.... they can be tricky buggers, sometimes: everyone was talking about this movie so much, I think I expected too much. Luckily that can work both ways: I expected Rachel Allen’s cookbook on cakes to be good, but it turned out to excellent.

Swedish almond cake (Toscatårta)
from the oh, so beautiful Cake (I bought mine here)

3 large eggs
¾ cup (150g) granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup + 1 tablespoon (150g) all purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
3 tablespoons whole milk
1/3 cup (75g) unsalted butter, melted

50g unsalted butter
100g flaked almonds
¼ cup (50g) granulated sugar
2 teaspoons all purpose flour
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Butter and flour a 23cm (9in) springform or loose-bottomed cake pan* - if you’re using a spring-form pan, make sure the base is upside down, so there’s no lip and the cake can slide off easily when cooked.
In the large bowl of an electric mixer, whisk together the eggs and the sugar for 5-7 minutes, or until thick and mousse-like. Beat in the vanilla. Sift in the flour, baking powder and salt and pour in the milk and melted butter, then gently fold everything in until combined. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out moist but not totally clean, as the mixture will still need another 10 minutes of cooking. Increase the heat to 200°C/400°F.
Topping: Just before the 30-35 minutes are up, make the topping. Place the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat. When it has melted, add the remaining ingredients and bring to the boil, allowing the mixture to bubble away for 1 minute.
After the cake has been cooking for the first 30-35 minutes, remove it from the oven and spoon the almond mixture evenly over the top. Place it back in the oven and bake for about 10-15 minutes or until the topping is golden.
Leave to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Using a small, sharp knife, loosen around the edges and carefully remove the sides of the pan before placing the cake (still on the base of the pan) on a wire rack to cool completely.

* I made the exact recipe above using a deep 20cm (8in) round cake pan with a removable bottom

Serves 8-10

Monday, February 11, 2013

Lady Grey tea cookies

Lady Grey tea cookies / Biscoitinhos de chá Lady Grey

I guess that when it comes to cooking and baking we all have our favorites - I certainly do, and the list includes Nigella, Jamie Oliver, Donna Hay and, of course, Martha: her baking recipes are always a hit and these cookies are no exception, delicious and dead easy to make. I got two logs of dough from this recipe and thought of keeping one in the freezer for another day, but after trying one of the cookies I knew I should bake as many as possible. :)

Lady Grey tea cookies
from one of my favorite cookbooks

2 cups (280g) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons finely ground Lady Grey tea leaves (from about 4 bags)*
¼ teaspoon table salt
1 cup (226g/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
½ cup (70g) confectioners' sugar, sifted
finely grated zest of 1 large orange
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whisk flour, tea, and salt in a small bowl; set aside.
Put butter, sugar, orange zest and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until pale and creamy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low; gradually mix in flour mixture until just combined – at this point I tasted the dough and thought it wasn’t sweet enough, so I added 1 ½ tablespoons icing sugar.
Divide the dough into two equal parts. Place each on a piece of parchment paper; shape dough into logs. Fold parchment over dough; using a ruler, roll and press into a 3.5 cm (1.4in) log – like Martha does here. Wrap in parchment. Chill in freezer until very firm.
Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F; line two large baking sheets with baking paper.
Unwrap one log at a time (keep the other in the freezer). Cut into 6mm (¼in) thick rounds; space 2.5cm (1in) apart onto prepared sheets. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until golden brown around the edges, about 15 minutes. Cool completely on the sheets over a wire rack.

* I used this grinder to grind the tea leaves

Makes about 50 cookies

Friday, February 8, 2013

Maple sour cream cake

Maple sour cream cake / Bolo de sour cream e xarope de bordo

If TV shows are hard for me to keep up with, can you imagine cookbook releases? :D Every time I take a look at the new cookbooks on Amazon I feel so far behind – and I’m not even talking about books that were released long ago but I still want anyway.

For instance, there is a new Food52 cookbook and I haven’t purchased the first one yet – life isn’t easy for a cookbook junkie like me, I’ll say. ;)

This is a delicious and very easy cake from Food52 – the website. Now I can’t wait to try the clementine pound cake, too.

Maple sour cream cake
slightly adapted from the beautiful and delicious Food52

1 ½ cups (210g) all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
½ cup (120ml) maple syrup
¾ cup sour cream*
¼ cup (50g) granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
finely grated zest of ½ large lemon
½ cup (120ml) canola oil

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 180°C/350°F. Generously butter a 21x11x6cm (8½×4½×2½in) metal loaf pan – I used a 22x12cm (9x5in) pan.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. In a small bowl, whisk together maple syrup, sour cream, eggs, sugar, vanilla, and lemon zest. Add to the dry ingredients and whisk to incorporate. Fold in oil gradually until the batter absorbs it.
Pour batter into prepared pan. Place pan on a baking sheet and bake until risen and golden and a tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Cool cake in pan on rack 5 minutes, then carefully unmold onto rack. Turn cake upright on rack and cool completely.

* homemade sour cream: to make 1 cup of sour cream, mix 1 cup (240ml) heavy cream with 2-3 teaspoons lemon juice in a bowl. Whisk until it starts to thicken. Cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for 1 hour or until thicker (I usually leave mine on the counter overnight – except on very warm nights – and it turns out thick and silky in the following morning; refrigerate for a creamier texture)

Serves 6-8

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Coconut and pecan bars

Coconut and pecan bars / Barrinhas de pecã e coco

Besides the urge to go to the kitchen, Nigella Lawson’s TV shows also bring me the thought of having kids – luckily for me the first is easy to deal with and the latter goes away after I finish watching the episode. :D
Right before I purchased Nancy Baggett’s beautiful cookbook on cookies I watched the lovely video posted on Amazon’s website and boy, not only did it have the same effect on me that Nigella’s shows usually do but I also wished my sister were a small kid again so we could bake cookies together like the two adorable children on the video. :D
Since I already owned a great book written by the author the decision of buying “Simply Sensational Cookies” was a no brainer – and these delicious bars were the first recipe I tried from it.

Coconut and pecan bars
from the delicious Simply Sensational Cookies

Shortbread layer:
13 tablespoons (182g) unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon table salt
2 cups (280g) all purpose flour

1½ cups (165g) pecans, chopped
1½ cups (150g) sweetened flaked or shredded coconut*
¾ cup (170g) unsalted butter, chopped
2/3 cup (116g) brown sugar, packed
¼ cup light corn syrup
¼ teaspoon table salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Lightly butter a 32x22cm (13x9in) baking pan, line it with foil leaving an overhang in two opposite sides, and butter the foil as well.
Shortbread layer: in the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter, sugar, vanilla and salt just until blended. On low speed, beat in the flour just until the mixture forms a mass. Pat the dough onto the base of the prepared pan into an even layer. Prick it all over with a fork and bake for about 20 minutes or until light golden and slightly darker around the edges. Remove from the oven, leave it on and make the topping: combine the pecans, coconut, butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and salt in a medium heavy saucepan. Stirring constantly, bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat. Boil for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally, then remove from the heat and add the vanilla.
Pour the mixture evenly over the shortbread layer. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the top is bubbly, golden brown and just slightly darker around the edges. Cool completely in the pan over a wire rack, then cut into bars to serve.
Bars can be stored, airtight, at room temperature for up to 4 days.

* I used sweetened shredded coconut and though the bars were a bit too sweet – if I were to make these again I would definitely use unsweetened coconut

Makes 24 – I made the exact recipe above using a 20x30cm (8x12in) pan

Monday, February 4, 2013

Lime butter drops with coconut + "Breaking Bad"

Lime butter drops with coconut / Biscoitinhos de limão com coco

Some of you read me long enough to know that when I like something I talk about it (or write about it) over and over again, and that is why I’ll write about “Breaking Bad” today: I’m in complete awe with the show! Besides the brilliant plot, there is a out-of-this-world cast, with each and every one of the talented actors giving flawless performances; add to that the amazing writing and you have a perfect show – I love it how drama and comedy are intertwined on it. I’m halfway up the second season and I can guarantee that if I didn’t have to work I’d have watched all the episodes available by now. :)

Bryan Cranston has received many awards for his role on the show and he surely deserves them – the guy is absolutely fantastic – but the supporting cast is equally great, Aaron Paul – who has received some awards, too, and is incredibly gifted –, Anna Gunn and Dean Norris being the highlights. “Breaking Bad” is so wonderful I feel like wearing a T-shirt with “WATCH ‘BREAKING BAD’” written on it. :D

I find the combo lime (or lemon) and coconut a very tasty one, and in these cookies the flavors work beautifully together; I don’t have a “MAKE THESE COOKIES” T-shirt, but I hope you guys try them anyway – they’re that good. :)

Lime butter drops with coconut
slightly adapted from the oh, so beautiful One Girl Cookies: Recipes for Cakes, Cupcakes, Whoopie Pies, and Cookies from Brooklyn's Beloved Bakery

¾ cup (150g) granulated sugar
finely grated zest of 2 limes
2 ½ cups (350g) all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon table salt
1 cup (226g/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold, cut into pieces
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons cream cheese, room temperature

1 tablespoon cream cheese, room temperature
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, more if needed
1 cup (140g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted, more if needed
½ cup (50g) unsweetened shredded coconut – I used sweetened

Cookies: put the sugar and the lime zest in the large bowl of an electric mixer. Using both hands, rub the sugar into the zest. Add the flour and salt and, using the paddle attachment, mix on low speed for 30 seconds. With the mixer running on low speed, gradually add the pieces of butter. When the mixture begins to look like crumbs, add the vanilla. Gradually add the cream cheese. When the dough starts to clump together, turn the mixer off and finish mixing with a spatula, until all the ingredients fully combined.
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Line two large baking sheets with baking paper.
Roll 1 leveled tablespoon of dough per cookie into a ball and place it onto the prepared sheets, 2.5cm (1in) apart. Gently press the ball. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until golden around the edges. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Glaze: it the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the cream cheese, the lime juice, and the confectioners’ sugar. Mix on low speed for 30 seconds. Increase the speed to medium and mix for 2 more minutes. The glaze should be as thick as glue – add more sugar or more juice if necessary (I had to add 25g of sugar to get the right consistency).
Spread the coconut on a plate. Dip the top of each cookie into the glaze, dip into the shredded coconut, and let set for 20 minutes.

Makes about 4 dozen

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Limoncello & lime popsicles

Limoncello and lime popsicles / Picolés de limão e limoncello

Once you have a bottle of homemade limoncello in your pantry you have to use it, right? I've been adding it to lemon cakes regularly, especially when the recipe calls for lemon extract, with great results. And it went really well in these, too, which I call "popsicles for grown ups" - delicious and very easy to make.

Limoncello & lime popsicles
from the always amazing Delicious - Australia

½ cup (120ml) heavy cream, whipped until thick
1 395g can sweetened condensed milk
¼ cup (60ml) limoncello – I used homemade
finely grated zest of 2 limes
½ cup (120ml) lime juice

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl, folding gently to combine. Pour into twelve 1/3-cup capacity popsicle molds, then freeze for 1-2 hours until firm but not completely frozen. Insert a popsicle stick into each mould. Freeze for at least another 2 hours or overnight until firm.

Makes 12

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