Monday, November 30, 2009

Dark Chocolate and Macadamia Brownie

This chocolate brownie tastes stunning, with the layer of caramelised bananas adding a banoffee-like flavour to the rich chocolate and macadamia cake. Allow around 40 mins prep and 35-40 mins baking time. Eggwhite powder is a professional pâtisserie product and can be found at many shops; if you cant find any then simply replace using 1 egg white = 1 3/4 tsp. eggwhite powder. This recipe makes a brownie cake that serves 10.

INGREDIENTS:
200 gms butter, coarsely chopped
100 gms dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), coarsely chopped
3 eggs
210 gms caster sugar
100 gms plain flour
100 gms macadamias, coarsely chopped
100 gms brown sugar
1 tbsp finely grated ginger
5 bananas, halved lengthways

Milk chocolate mousse
2 eggs
1/4 cup caster sugar
1 1/2 leaves of gelatine, softened in cold water
5 gms eggwhite powder (see note)
600 ml pouring cream
400 gm milk chocolate (36% cocoa solids), melted and cooled slightly

PREPARATION:
Preheat oven to 150C. Melt butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth. Whisk eggs and caster sugar in an electric mixer until thick and pale (5-6 minutes), fold through chocolate mixture, then fold in flour and macadamia. Spoon into a buttered and baking paper base-lined 22cm-diameter springform pan, smooth top and bake until just firm to touch (20-25 minutes). Cool completely in pan.

Heat brown sugar in a large frying pan over medium-high heat until melted (2-3 minutes). Add ginger, stir to combine, then add bananas in a single layer and cook, turning occasionally, until caramelised and tender (4-5 minutes). Arrange on top of the brownie, squash to make a uniform layer then cool completely.

Meanwhile, for milk chocolate mousse, whisk eggs and sugar in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water until thick and can hold a ribbon (10-12 minutes), then remove from heat. Squeeze excess liquid from gelatine and whisk in gelatine with eggwhite powder. In a separate bowl, whisk cream until soft peaks form, add chocolate and fold to combine, then fold in egg mixture. Spoon mousse over caramelised banana, smooth top and refrigerate until set (2-3 hours). Dust with cocoa, scatter with chocolate balls and serve immediately.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Chocolate Cherry Cake

This delicious cake is easy, rich but light, and so wonderfully moist. There is about 20 minutes prep time, and around 55 minutes cooking time. To make chocolate curls, melt dark chocolate, spread thinly onto a marble slab or inverted heavy tray, set aside until firm. Scrape with a knife at a 45-degree angle (away from you) to create curls. These extravegent curls give this dessert that 'cake shop' glamour!
Serves 10.

INGREDIENTS:
150 gms dark chocolate (54% cocoa solids)
150 gms butter, softened
170 gms caster sugar
6 eggs, separated
150 gms self-raising flour, sifted
3 tsp cornflour
50 ml kirsch, plus extra to drizzle
250 ml 1 cup) pouring cream

Cherry compote
1 1/2 cups caster sugar
500 gms pitted cherries

Ganache
150 gms dark chocolate (54% cocoa solids), coarsely chopped
140 ml pouring cream

PREPARATION:
Preheat oven to 175C. Melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Cool slightly. Beat butter and 150gm caster sugar in an electric mixer until pale and creamy (4-8 minutes), then add egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add melted chocolate and stir to combine, then fold in flour in batches. Whisk eggwhites to soft peaks, then fold through chocolate mixture. Pour into a greased and baking paper-lined 23cm spring-form pan and bake until a skewer withdraws clean (30-40 minutes). Remove from pan and cool on a wire rack.

For cherry compote, combine sugar and 500ml of water in a saucepan and cook, stirring over medium heat, until sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil, add cherries, bring to boil again, reduce heat and simmer until cherries are tender (5 minutes). Remove from heat and set aside. Makes 1 litre of cherries and juice.

Meanwhile, drain juice from cherries (reserving 180ml and discarding remaining). Place cherries in a bowl. Mix cornflour with 20ml reserved cherry juice to make a paste. Combine remaining cherry juice, drained cherries and cornflour paste in a saucepan. Stir over medium heat until mixture boils and thickens (2-3 minutes). Add 30ml kirsch and set aside to cool.

For ganache, melt chocolate and cream in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (3-5 minutes). Remove from heat and stir until smooth and glossy.

Whisk cream and remaining sugar until stiff peaks form, add remaining kirsch and whisk briefly to combine. Refrigerate until ready to assemble.

Halve cake horizontally, drizzle base generously with kirsch, spread with cream and spoon over cherry compote. Sandwich with top half of cake. Drizzle with more kirsch, then pour over ganache and scatter with chocolate curls.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Dark Chocolate and Orange Mud Cakes

What is the difference between a standard chocolate cake and a dark chocolate mud cake? Chocolate mud cake usually has some gooey components, like a pudding consistency or a fudge sauce typically found in the centre. These rich individual mud cakes use a swirl of orange liquor to achieve their hints of citrus, and are fantastic served with sliced mandarins and choc-orange / jaffa ice cream.

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 cups caster sugar
100 gm dark chocolate (64% cocoa solids), finely chopped
60 ml orange liqueur
2 egg yolks
60 gm cocoa
40 gm plain flour
4 egg whites
2 mandarins, peeled and segmented

PREPARATION:

Preheat oven to 160C. Combine 165gm sugar, chocolate, liqueur and ¼ cup hot water in a heatproof bowl placed over simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth. Remove from heat, add egg yolks and mix to combine, then fold in flour and cocoa.

Whisk egg whites using an electric mixer until soft peaks form, add 55gm sugar and whisk to combine, then fold through chocolate mixture. Place 6 buttered 6cm-high 7.5cm-diameter metal ring moulds (see note) on a baking paper-lined oven tray and divide mixture among them. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until risen and firm to the touch, remove from oven and cool in rings.

Meanwhile combine remaining sugar, orange liqueur and 1/2 cup water in a saucepan and stir over low-medium heat until sugar dissolves, add mandarin segments and simmer for 20 minutes or until segments are translucent. Cool in syrup.

To serve, unmould cakes, and serve with mandarin segments and syrup and chocolate ice-cream to the side.

Serves 6.
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Monday, November 23, 2009

Strawberries with Balsamic Vinegar

Sometimes the quickest and simplest recipes can be the best; there is great joy in throwing together ingredients quickly and yet making such an incredible tasting dessert. Balsamic vinegar and black pepper intensify the flavor of strawberries and bring out their sweetness. You can use any type of fruit balsamic vinegar if you wish; raspberry or fig vinegars go particularly well.

Makes 6-8 servings.

INGREDIENTS:
16 oz. fresh strawberries, hulled and large berries cut in half
2 tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice

PREPARATION:
1. Place strawberries in a bowl. Drizzle good Balsamic Vinegar over strawberries, and sprinkle with sugar and lemon juice.

2. Stir gently to combine. Cover and let sit at room temperature for at least 1 hour but not more than 4 hours.

3. Serve plain, with vanilla ice cream or creme fraiche and a grind or two of black pepper.


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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Vanilla Soufflé

A soufflé can be one of those dishes we shy away from but it truly isn't that difficult and the finished result is delicious. Don't be intimidated by all the steps, it's really quite easy. This recipe is delicious with fresh cream or a sauce; here we have served it topped with a caramel.

INGREDIENTS:
2 vanilla pods
1 1/2 cups milk
2 tsp vanilla essence
7 egg yolks
3/4 cup caster sugar
6 Tbsp flour
8 egg whites, at room temperature
icing sugar, for dusting

PREPARATION:
Grease and dust with sugar 6 x 10cm round ramekins or soufflé dishes. Open the vanilla pods, scoop the seeds into the milk and add the vanilla essence. Heat the milk until it reaches just below boiling point.

Beat together egg yolks and 1/4 cup sugar until the mixture is thick and pale. This is called ribbon consistency; you should be able to lift the beaters from the mixture and draw the figure eight and still see its imprint when you have finished drawing. Beat in the flour.

Gradually stir in the hot milk and place in the top of a double boiler or heat-proof bowl and cook over a saucepan of simmering water for about 3-4 minutes, stirring with a whisk until the mixture is thick and glossy. Set aside for about 10 minutes too cool.

In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites with the remaining 1/2 cup sugar until a soft meringue consistency. Do not over- beat, as the soufflé will not rise well.

Stir one third of the meringue mixture into the custard with a whisk. Fold the remaining egg whites in with a holed spoon. Transfer the mixture to the prepared soufflé dishes making the mixture level with the top. Use a knife or thin spatula to cut around the inside of each dish – this will ensure the soufflé rises straight up and does not grip to the sides of the dish.

Place the dishes on a preheated oven tray and bake at 200°C for 8-9 minutes. The soufflés should still be moist and slightly unset in the centre; this acts as a sauce for the soufflé. Dusted with icing sugar and serve immediately with fresh cream or a chocolate or caramel sauce.

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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Soft Centered Chocolate Tortini


Tortini means "little cakes" in Italian. This means it can be just about anything, either savoury or sweet. But this recipe makes a beautiful little pudding best enjoyed with ice-cream and raspberry sauce. This tortini uses dark chocolate, which contains a higher percentage of cocoa solids than other types of chocolate. Studies have shown that dark chocolate has ingredients that lower blood pressure and fight disease. So its not only delicious, its also good for you! (well, better than a milk chocolate tortini anyway). This recipe serves 6.

INGREDIENTS:
Tortini
160 gm dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), coarsely chopped
160 gm butter, coarsley chopped
3 eggs
3 egg yolks
75 gm (1/3 cup) caster sugar
50 gm (1/3 cup) plain flour
To serve: vanilla ice-cream
Raspberry sauce
240 gm raspberries
240 gm caster sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice


PREPARATION:
Melt chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water, stir to combine and cool. Using an electric mixer, beat eggs, yolks and sugar for 8 minutes or until thick and creamy. Gradually add flour and whisk to combine, then add chocolate mixture and whisk for another 5 minutes. Divide mixture between 6 lightly greased and floured 10cm-diameter round pie tins, place on an oven tray and refrigerate for 1 hour.

For raspberry sauce, combine raspberries, sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan, bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for 25 minutes or until syrupy. Cool. Makes about 1 cup.

Preheat oven to 170C. Bake tortini for 10 minutes or until they are firm but their centres are soft. To serve, remove tortini carefully from pie tins and place on plates, top with a scoop of ice-cream, drizzle with raspberry sauce and serve immediately.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Dark Chocolate and Star Anise Mousse


For sheer simplicity and luxurousness, nothing comes close to a velvety dark chocolate mousse. This recipe makes more than is needed for two so keep leftover desserts in the fridge for a treat the next day. Serve liquorice on the side to complement the anise flavour.

INGREDIENTS:
200g dark chocolate
3 eggs at room temperature, separated
¾ cup cream at room temperature
40ml Baileys, Kahlua or brandy
½ teaspoon ground star anise
Liquorice sticks to serve

PREPARATION:
Melt dark chocolate in a double-boiler or in the microwave on medium power until smooth. Cool slightly then whisk in egg yolks, cream, liqueur and spice.

Beat egg whites until firm then fold into chocolate mixture until evenly combined. Pour mousse into serving glasses and refrigerate until set, at least 2 hours. Serve with liquorice. Serves 4-6

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