Sunday, June 19, 2011

Donna Hay's Raspberry Spiked Brownies

My new workplace has this great little morning tea tradition. Every Wednesday the staff in the east wing of the Town Hall take turns cooking something to share with everyone. Two people are rostered on each week and usually one person will do sweet and one will do savoury. I made it very clear when I was first filled in on the workings of it that I could only do sweet!

Last week it was my turn so I thought I'd pull out a new recipe to go along with my apple crumble muffins (I'm told you don't have to cook two things but it's generally ok if that's what you want to do!). When we were on our girls' weekend in Warrnambool a few months ago I got a gorgeous little Donna Hay 'Chocolate' cookbook. I love the food photography that Donna Hay does - the rustic feel of it is just gorgeous. I took a quick look through it and quickly settled on this recipe - I'm sure by now you can understand why!

Donna Hay's Raspberry Spiked Brownies

Another quick and easy one! Preheat your oven to 180c. Melt 200g dark chocolate and 250g butter in the microwave, stirring every 40 seconds until melted and smooth.

In a bowl, mix together 4 eggs and 1 3/4 cups brown sugar then add the chocolate mixture. Sift over this 1 1/3 cups plain flour, 1/4 tsp baking powder and 1/3 cup cocoa. Mix to combine.

Pour the mixture into a lined square cake tin and top with 1 1/2 cups raspberries. The raspberries can be fresh or frozen, it doesn't really matter. It feels like a lot of raspberries but do put them all on because they shrink in quite a bit when they're cooked.

Bake for 30-35 minutes. The brownies should be quite fudgy so don't worry if they don't seem completely set. Let them cool completely in the tin before cutting into 16 squares. It's tempting to try and cut them while they're still warm but don't - it gets very messy!

My first offering for the traditional morning tea at work.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Two of the best - choc-chip biscuits

A good choc chip biscuit is one of life's simple pleasures. I'll admit that you can get good ones at the supermarket and bakery but there's something about a good homemade biscuit that you can't go past. For me it's getting them out of the oven, carefully transferring them to the rack and then watching them crisp up as they cool. All of that said, it's taken me ages to find a good recipe and I've learnt that you have to watch them like a hawk when you bake them - a couple of minutes too long and you can wreck a whole batch.

So here are two of my favourites - Janelle Bloom's condensed milk choc chip biscuits and Nigella Lawson's totally chocolate chocolate chip cookies.

Janelle Bloom's condensed milk choc-chip biscuits

These ones are from a recipe book I bought my Mum for her birthday one year. We had a bit of a tradition when I was doing uni of sitting down at lunch time and watching Ready, Steady, Cook and Janelle always made the most incredible baked treats and desserts. These biscuits are just one example!

Preheat your oven to 180c (170c if using the fan) and line four big baking trays with baking paper - we're making around 40 biscuits here, depending on how much mixture you eat on the way!

Grab your electric mixer and pop into the bowl 250g butter (softened and chopped), 1/2 cup caster sugar  and half a tin of condensed milk. Beat until pale and creamy. Sift 2 1/2 cups plain flour and 3 1/2 tsps baking powder over the top of the butter mixture and mix until just combined. Add 375g choc chips and stir until well distributed.

Roll heaped teaspoons of the mixture into balls and place onto the baking trays, leaving a little bit of room for them to spread. Flatten a little with a fork.

Bake two trays at a time for 9-12 minutes. Stand for five minutes on the trays and then transfer to wire racks to cool.

Nigella Lawson's Totally Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies
 ( minus my good camera :(
Ok, so these biscuits right here are the definition of comfort food! You could not possibly get any more chocolate into them if you tried - even I had trouble getting through a whole one in one go (I did manage though - tough gig but someone has to do it). When I saw Nigella making them on her show, she was making them for a girlfriend who had just broken up with her man - like I said, perfect comfort food.

Preheat your oven to 170c (remember to lower it a bit if you don't have the option of turning the fan off in your oven - I forgot and had the fan on and they cooked a bit too quickly). Line two large baking trays with baking paper.

Melt 125g dark chocolate in the microwave and set aside to cool a little. Put 150g plain flour, 30g cocoa, 1 tsp bicarb and 1/2 tsp salt into a bowl. Use your electric mixer to cream together 125g butter, 75g brown sugar and 50g white sugar until pale and creamy. Add the melted chocolate and mix to combine. Then add 1 tsp vanilla extract and 1 cold egg. It's interesting that the recipe calls for a cold egg because all good bakers know that all your ingredients should be at room temperature but the lady that taught Nigella this incredible recipe says the egg is to be cold, so cold it is!

Mix in the combined dry ingredients and then finally 350g dark choc chips. Scoop 12 equal mounds onto the trays - one of those ice cream scoops with the release handle works best but I just used my 1/4 cup measure. Don't flatten the mounds.

Place the trays into the oven. It should take around 18 minutes for the biscuits to cook - check them from time to time. You should get some fudgy cake crumbs sticking to the tester but no raw mixture. You'll have to try and avoid the hundreds of choc chips to get an accurate idea!

Remove from the oven, leave to cool on the trays for 5 minutes or so and then transfer to wire racks to cool completely (minus the one that you HAVE to eat while it's still warm - incredible!)