Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Peanut butter and raspberry mini cakes and the fantastic "The Night Of"

Peanut butter and raspberry mini cakes / Mini bolinhos de manteiga de amendoim e framboesa

Weeks ago I told you I had dropped River because it made me feel miserable – I wanted something to cheer me up, not to bring me down.
Cut to a couple of days later and I started watching The Night Of – yes, I know, I don’t even understand myself, I don’t expect you to. :)

What an amazing TV show. What a fantastic cast – John Turturro was born to play John Stone, and I found him even more perfect for the part after reading that the first choice to play the lawyer had been James Gandolfini, and after Gandolfini died Robert DeNiro got cast. The movie gods were really watching this show, since that failed too. In my head those two actors would never be able to do John Stone justice – they lack the frailty that is so important in the character. I can’t imagine Galdonfini, so big, tall and with that characteristic loud and strong voice playing John Stone.

I can’t imagine Gandolfini doing what Philip Seymour Hoffman did with his Truman Capote.

I loved the show as a whole – writing, directing, cast, everything was beautifully put together, so perfectly as I hadn’t seen in quite a while (Breaking Bad comes to my mind, as you can imagine). Yes, the show was depressingly sad and dark and each night I would go to sleep with it engraved in my mind, but it was so great I could not drop it as I had done with River. Having some chocolate around for after each episode of The Night Of is the tip I give you – these mini cakes are a good idea, too (and the raspberries can be replaced by pieces of dark chocolate for a nice variation of the recipe).

Peanut butter and raspberry mini cakes
slightly adapted from this cookbook

3 eggs
200g smooth peanut butter
½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
3 tablespoons canola oil
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
100ml whole milk, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons (30g) all purpose flour
about ½ cup fresh or frozen (unthawed) raspberries – I used 4 in each mini cake

Preheat the oven to 180˚C. Generously butter and then flour a 12-hole muffin pan.

In a bowl, whisk together the eggs and the peanut butter until smooth. Whisk in the sugar, oil, baking soda, baking powder, salt, milk and vanilla until smooth. Fold in the flour. Divide the mixture between the holes of the muffin pan. Top the batter with the raspberries, dividing them among the cakes, gently prodding them into their middles.

Bake for about 20 minutes, or until they are golden and puffed and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Allow to cool in the pan over a wire rack for 5 minutes, then carefully remove the cakes from the pan and transfer to the rack to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature with ice cream if you want.

Makes 12

Monday, September 12, 2016

Nigel Slater’s brownies

Nigel Slater's brownies / Brownies do Nigel Slater

Remember that I told you that some recipes get stuck in my head forever? One of them was this brownie recipe by Nigel Slater – I saw it on many, many blogs, people seemed to go crazy over them. However, I kept postponing making the recipe since it required creaming butter and sugar together, something I just do not associate with making brownies (the fact that it called for 250g of butter and 300g of sugar for a 23cm pan made me cringe, too).

The day came when I finally made them, and accordingly to my husband, who doesn’t like sweets but tastes all the brownies I make, these are the best brownies I made in quite a while. I must confess I did not go crazy for them (sorry, Nigel): too much work for this result. I like brownies recipes that are practical and fast and require no thinking ahead – melting the butter is always a plus when you forgot to take it out of the fridge.

These brownies are good, but nothing I would make again – but since my husband praised them so much I decided to share the recipe with you. I have cut down the sugar slightly (for I did not have 70% chocolate around), doubled the amount of chopped chocolate folded in the batter and also used a 20x30cm pan – when I looked at the amount of batter in the bowl I was sure it would never fit a 23cm square pan.

Nigel Slater’s brownies
Slightly adapted rom the one and only Nigel Slater, recipe found here

200g dark chocolate, finely chopped – I used one with 53% cocoa solids
60g all purpose flour
60g unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
½ teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
250g unsalted butter, softened
250g granulated sugar
100g dark chocolate, coarsely chopped – I used one with 53% cocoa solids
3 large eggs + 1 egg yolk, all lightly whisked with a fork
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Lightly butter a 20x30cm (8x12in) metal baking pan, line it with foil leaving an overhang in two opposite sides and butter the foil as well.

Place the 200g finely chopped chocolate in a bowl and melt over a pan of simmering water, without letting the bowl touch the water. Remove from the heat and cool. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Using an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and creamy. Scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally. Beat in the eggs gradually, and scrape the sides of the bowl between additions. Beat in the vanilla. On slow speed, mix in the melted chocolate. Fold in the dry ingredients and the coarsely chopped chocolate – mixture will be thick. Spread it evenly into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the top will have risen slightly but the middle is still soft – a toothpick inserted in the center should come out sticky, but not with raw mixture. Cool completely in the pan over a wire rack. Cut into squares to serve.

Serves 24

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