Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Oatmeal dulce de leche choc chip cookies and some teary days

Oatmeal dulce de leche choc chip cookies / Cookies de aveia, doce de leite e gotinhas de chocolate

I don’t know why, but I have felt very sensitive in the past few days – I even thought it was PMS, but no.

I saw a photo of a father playing with his two little girls in a destroyed bathtub – someone posted it on Facebook – and cried my eyes out. I was not having a very good day, and when I saw those kids playing in a place completely destroyed by war I felt so insignificant… My problems were nothing compared to that.

Then I watched Michelle Obama’s amazing speech last night and the tears came down hard – wow, that woman touched my heart in so many ways! My husband was in the kitchen making dinner and he was like “what happened? Are you OK?”, and I was just watching Michelle being fantastic.

Minutes ago, as I reached for this recipe and started writing down the post, I thought of my nephew and how much he enjoyed these cookies: it was a matter of remembering him eating them and bam, there came the waterworks. Lately, actually, everything related to him makes me cry: as I spend time with him, watching him discover the world, I think of my mom and of how much she would enjoy sharing these moments with us. My nephew is a very smart kid – he has long conversations with us, even though we don’t understand everything he says – and he is very tender and sweet – I get kisses and hugs all the time, plus he sometimes calls me “mom”. I get emotional every time I think of her and of how much she would love her grandson if she was around. I have cried often lately, sometimes they are tears of joy and sometimes they are tears of sorrow. I guess that is life, right?

These are Martha’s oatmeal raisin cookies that got turned into something a bit different: as I grabbed the ingredients to bake them, I saw the dulce de leche left from making the molten cakes I posted days ago. So I added a very generous dollop to the batter – cutting back a bit of the sugar – and replaced the raisins for chocolate chips, since dulce de leche and chocolate go so well together.

The cookies turned out fabulous and if you don’t believe me take my nephew’s word for it. ;)

Oatmeal dulce de leche choc chip cookies
slightly adapted from the goddess Martha S.

2 cups (280g) all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon table salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup (2 sticks/226g) unsalted butter, room temperature
¾ cup (130g) packed light-brown sugar
½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
½ cup (150g) dulce de leche
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
3 cups (240g) rolled oats
1 cup (165g) chocolate chips – I used ones with 53% cocoa solids

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Line two large baking sheets with baking paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, cinnamon, baking powder, and baking soda. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine butter with both sugars, and beat until light and creamy. Beat in the dulce de leche and vanilla. Scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally. Beat in eggs, one at a time, and mix well. Add flour mixture, and mix on low speed just until just combined. On low speed, mix in the oats and chocolate chips.

Drop 2 leveled tablespoons of dough per cookie onto the prepared pans, 5cm (2in) apart. Bake the cookies for 12-15 minutes, or until they’re golden-brown around the edges. Cool completely in the pans.
Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.

Makes about 28

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Banana peanut muffins

Banana peanut muffins / Muffins de banana e amendoim

As much as I try to stick to the ingredients I have at home when baking, that doesn’t always happen: I sometimes cannot resist some fruits at the grocery store or buying another bar of chocolate and/or a jar of jam (I was much worse in the past, if that is any consolation). :)

It is like buying another book when you are not even close to finish reading the ones you already have (that, luckily, I no longer do). But the ingredients… I sometimes give in. :)

Last weekend, however, I reached for a batch of homemade vegetable stock in my freezer and saw a couple of bananas there. There was another ripe banana in the counter, so I decided to bake with them. The idea started as a cake, but changed to muffins when I saw these on Olive magazine – I had each and every ingredient at home and that made me feel like a winner. :D

On top of using the bananas, I was able to go through my giant peanut butter jar a little bit more, use up the remaining peanuts from this recipe and also the peanut meal I found in a shop weeks ago (and of course I had to bring it home). :D Don’t worry if you don’t have any peanut meal at hand: the original recipe calls for almond meal, so you can use either one.

Banana peanut muffins
slightly adapted from the always great Olive magazine

1 ¾ cups (245g) all purpose flour
2 ¾ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon table salt
3 tablespoons peanut meal (finely ground peanuts)
1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon (78g) demerara sugar
3 ripe bananas, being 2 mashed and 1 chopped
100g smooth peanut butter
2 eggs
½ cup (120ml) buttermilk*
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
handful of toasted peanuts (salted are fine)

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F. Line a standard 12-hole muffin pan with muffin cases.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, peanut meal and sugar. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the 2 mashed bananas, the peanut butter, eggs, buttermilk and vanilla until well mixed. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir with a fork – do not overmix or your muffins will be tough; muffin batter is supposed to be lumpy, not smooth like cake batter. Stir in the chopped banana.

Divide the mixture between the cases and sprinkle with the peanuts – press them slightly with your fingers so they adhere to the batter. Bake for about 20 minutes or until risen and golden and a skewer inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Cool in the pan over a wire rack for 5 minutes, then carefully remove the muffins from the pan and transfer them to the rack. Serve warm or let them cool completely.

* homemade buttermilk: to make 1 cup buttermilk place 1 tablespoon lemon juice in a 240ml-capacity measuring cup and complete with whole milk (room temperature). Wait 10 minutes for it to thicken, then use the whole mixture in your recipe

Makes 12

Friday, July 15, 2016

Yogurt, orange and almond cake with white chocolate and yogurt icing

Yogurt, orange and almond cake with white chocolate and yogurt icing / Bolo de amêndoa, laranja e iogurte com cobertura de iogurte e chocolate branco

I am completely drawn to beautiful food photos and I have a list of favorite people whose recipes I trust completely, so a couple of years ago, when I discovered Bill Granger’s column on The Independent I was really happy: his recipes always work and taste delicious and the photos posted on the paper website are truly gorgeous.

I found this cake recipe there and was curious to try it since I called for no butter and no oil. I twisted it around a little bit, but still ended up with a very moist and tender cake, perfumed with oranges. The icing goes a bit to the sweet side, but I am a fan of white chocolate, so no problem to me – if you are a white chocolate hater (as most of my coworkers seem to be), feel free to make a simple glaze with icing sugar and orange juice, it will make the cake shine, too.

Yogurt, orange and almond cake with white chocolate and yogurt icing
slightly adapted from the always great Bill Granger

1 cup + 1 tablespoon (150g) all purpose flour
½ cup (50g) almond meal
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
finely grated zest of 2 oranges
2 eggs
170g plain yogurt
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons Cointreau (optional)

For the topping:
¼ cup (60g) plain yogurt, room temperature
100g white chocolate, melted and slightly cooled
2 tablespoons icing sugar
¼ cup (35g) whole almonds, toasted, cooled and then coarsely chopped

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°C. Butter a 20cm (8in) round cake pan, line the bottom with a circle of baking paper and butter the paper as well.

Cake: in a medium bowl, whisk together the all purpose flour, almond meal, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, rub sugar and orange zest together until sugar is fragrant. Add the eggs and using the mixer whisk until thick and creamy. Beat in the vanilla and the Cointreau (if using). On low speed, mix in the yogurt. Fold in the dry ingredients and pour batter in the prepared pan. Bake for around 40 minutes, until the cake is risen and golden and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan onto a wire rack.

Icing: whisk in the yogurt into the chocolate until smooth. Sift in the sugar and stir to combine. Cover and chill in the fridge for 20 minutes, or until it reaches a spreadable consistency. Unmold the cake, carefully peel off the paper and place onto a serving place. Spread with the icing and top with the chopped almonds to serve.

Serves 8

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Dulce de leche molten cakes - an easy peasy recipe + a fantastic movie

Dulce de leche molten cakes / Petit gateau de doce de leite

I have a terrible habit that I think some of you might share: even though there are thousands of great movies out there I sometimes ended up watching the same ones over and over again. :)

There are times, however, when watching movies more than once is necessary: my husband hadn’t watched Whiplash yet, and since this was the best movie I saw last year I was more than willing to watch it again, this time with him. He absolutely loved it – Whiplash is, to me, the kind of fantastic movie which almost impossible to describe without using four letter words. :D
I got to watch J.K. Simmons being beyond fantastic again – he pulled a Cate Blanchett and won each and every award with that role, not to mention one of the most deserved Oscars in History.

I liked J.K. Simmons before – I am a Law and Order devotee, after all – but I really did not think he could be that great. What a pleasant surprise.

A surprise similar to the one I had with the recipe I bring you today: with so few ingredients and put together in a matter of moments, I did not expect these cakes to be so good – well, I was wrong, very wrong: they are delicious and so easy to make I see myself repeating this recipe to exhaustion – the same way I see myself watching Whiplash at least once a year from now on. :D

Dulce de leche molten cakes / Petit gateau de doce de leite

Dulce de leche molten cakes
from the always gorgeous and delicious Donna Hay Magazine

2 eggs
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (300g) dulce de leche
4 tablespoons (40g) all purpose flour
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 220°C/425°F. Generously butter six 120ml capacity muffin pans or mini cake pans.

Place the eggs, yolks and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer and whisk for 4–5 minutes or until very thick and pale. Add the dulce de leche and whisk on low speed until just combined.
Add the flour and salt and carefully fold through the mixture. Divide the mixture between the prepared pans.

Bake for 6-8 minutes or puffed and still slightly soft in the middle. Allow to stand in the pan for 1 minute, then very carefully run a knife around the edges to release the cakes from the pan and invert them onto a plate. Serve immediately with ice-cream.

Serves 6

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