Chocolate Almond Biscotti

biscotti

Chocolate Almond Biscotti (Adapted from David Lebovitz)

Ingredients

280g flour
75g top-quality cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3 large eggs, at room temperature
200g sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup (125g) almonds, toasted and very coarsely-chopped
3/4 cups (120g) chocolate chips

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 180C.

2. In a small bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.

3. In a large bowl, beat together the 3 eggs, sugar, and vanilla & almond extracts. Gradually stir in the dry ingredients, then mix in the nuts and the chocolate chips until the dough holds together.

4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Divide the dough in half. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into two logs the length of the baking sheet. Transfer the logs onto the baking sheet, evenly spaced apart. Bake for 25 minutes.

5. Remove the cookie dough from the oven and cool 15 minutes. On a cutting board, use a serrated bread knife to diagonally cut the cookies into 1/2-inches slices. Lay the cookies cut side down on baking sheets and return to the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, turning the baking sheet midway during baking, until the cookies feel mostly firm.

Once baked, cool the cookies completely then store in an airtight container for up to two weeks. If you wish, the cookies can be half-dipped in melted chocolate, then cooled until the chocolate hardens.

Quadruple Chocolate Loaf Cake

Adapted from Nigella Lawson

Ingredients

For the cake

  • 200 gram(s) plain flour (-25g)
  • ½ teaspoon(s) bicarbonate of soda
  • 50 gram(s) cocoa powder (+25g)
  • 275 gram(s) caster sugar (200g)
  • 175 gram(s) unsalted butter soft
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1 tablespoon(s) vanilla extract
  • 80 ml sour cream
  • 125 ml water boiling
  • 175 gram(s) dark chocolate chips (unless you prefer milk)

For the syrup

  • 1 teaspoon(s) cocoa powder
  • 125 ml water
  • 100 gram(s) caster sugar
  • 25 gram(s) dark chocolate (from a thick bar)

Directions

  1. Take whatever you need out of the fridge so that all ingredients can come to room temperature.
  2. Preheat the oven to gas mark 3/170°C, putting in a baking sheet as you do so, and line a 900g loaf tin (mine measures 21x11cm and 7.5cm deep and the cooking times are based on that) with greased foil – making sure there are no tears – and leave an overhang all round. Or use a silicon tin.
  3. Put the flour, bicarb, cocoa, sugar, butter, eggs, vanilla and sour cream into the processor and blitz till a smooth, satiny brown batter. Scrape down with a rubber spatula and process again while pouring the boiling water down the funnel. Switch it off then remove the lid and the well-scraped double-bladed knife and, still using your rubber spatula, stir in the chocolate chips or morsels.
  4. Scrape and pour this beautiful batter into the prepared loaf tin and slide into the oven, cooking for about 1 hour. When it’s ready, the loaf will be risen and split down the middle and a cake-tester, or a fine skewer, will pretty well come out clean. But this is a damp cake so don’t be alarmed at a bit of stickiness in evidence; rather, greet it.
  5. Not long before the cake is due out of the oven – say when it’s had about 45-50 minutes – put the syrup ingredients of cocoa, water and sugar into a small saucepan and boil for 5 minutes. You may find it needs a little longer: what you want is a reduced liquid, that’s to say a syrup, though I often take it a little further, so that the sugar caramelizes and the syrup has a really dark, smokey chocolate intensity.
  6. Take the cake out of the oven and sit it on a cooling rack and, still in its tin, pierce here and there with a cake tester. Then pour the syrup as evenly as possible, which is not very, over the surface of the cake. It will run to the sides of the tin, but some will have been absorbed in the middle.
  7. Let the cake become completely cold and then slip out of its tin, removing the foil as you do so. Sit on an oblong or other plate. Now take your bar of chocolate, wrapped in foil if you haven’t got much of its wrapper left, and cut with a heavy sharp knife, so that it splinters and flakes and falls in slices of varying thickness and thinness.
  8. I’ve specified a weight, but really go by eye: when you think you’ve got enough to scatter over the top of the loafcake, stop slicing. Sprinkle these chocolate splinters over the top of the sticky surface of the cake.

Sugar Cookies Basic Dough

IMG_6667

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • optional: 1/2 c  chocolate chips or nuts(increase to 2/3 to 3/4 c if you like more chips, or use a combo of white/dark, white/butterscotch, all dark, etc or if you want traditional sugar cookies, omit chips)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.  Cream together softened butter and sugars until very smooth and fluffy.  Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat until well combined.  Stir in the cinnamon, baking soda, and flour and mix until just combined.  DO NOT overmix.
  2. Stir in the chocolate chips and place the whole mixing bowl into the freezer for about 10 minutes so that it chills a bit.  You can also chill the dough for an hour or longer in the refrigerator.
  3. After approximately 10 minutes, remove the chilled dough from the freezer and form 1 inch balls.
  4. Roll the balls through the cinnamon sugar mixture and place on Silpat-lined, parchment-lined or sprayed cookie sheets.
  5. Bake at 350F for 8 to 10 minutes or until just barely set.  Remove cookies from the oven even if they look a bit underdone as they will firm up.  Allow the cookies to cool, well, on the cookie sheets before attempting to remove them.

Notes/Tips:

Cream your butter and sugar very well; make it fluffy which will ensure fluffier cookies.

Do not over-mix the flour once you’ve added it.  This will result in tough cookies.

Chilled dough is key to these cookies retaining some height and not flattening out completely.  If you prefer to chill your dough in the refrigerator for an hour or longer, feel free.

Some recipes call for baking soda in addition to or instead of baking powder.  I don’t think it could hurt to add 1/2 teaspoon baking powder.  I will trial this in future batches to see the impact and if that makes them puffier.

Best Brownies – no fuss

One of the reasons why I like this recipe is all stirring happens in a non-stick pan. It makes all utensils so easy to wash!

The brownie base is simple and you can always add whatever you like into the batch

 Best Brownies

Best Brownies

adapted from allrecipes.com
Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar (I’ve tried white and brown, both works for me)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 all purpose flour
  • 1/4 salt
  • 1/4 baking powder
  • Optional: Chocolate chips/Nuts (almond, pecan, hazelnuts, macadamia)/ Marshmallow/ Dried Fruits/ Cream Crackers

(actually anything dry and you think will work well in your brownies)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven at 175 degrees C, grease an 8 inch square pan
  2. Melt the butter in a large saucepan, remove from heat once melted.
  3. Stir in sugar, vanilla and eggs
  4. Sift the cocoa powder, flour, baking soda and salt into the mixture and stir well
  5. Spread batter into prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes. DO NOT OVER-BAKE  (In order not to overcook it, I cover the pan with aluminum foil for the first 25 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for another 3-5 minutes)

It’s really important to make sure not to over bake the brownies, otherwise you will come up with a hard and dry crust with flaky middle. Although it will still be tasty, you’ll miss the chocolaty gooey goodness.