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Archive for the ‘white chocolate’ Category

You know the saying, “when life gives you lemons, make lemon aide”, well my philosophy in life runs in the same vein: When the banana’s of your life turn black, make banana bread.” Which is my way of saying, when life’s being a little rough with you, eat cake. Also, it ties in rather neatly with my Waste-not-want-not upbringing. For a change, however, it being The Season of Great Changes and all, I eschewed all things expected and made something a little crazier. When asked to provide, and I quote, A Simple, No Fuss (with a pointed raised eyebrow, Ms Vickers) Dessert for an evening of screaming and gasping over the new series of Battlestar Galactica, what better remedy to such an unnatural request than brownies; and with those last two, very black banana’s staring at me from the bottom of the dusty fruit bowl, what else could I do but provide Banana Chocolate Brownies? These turned out to be a bit drier than my normal brownie recipe, which I usually diligently obey Nigella’s instruction on, but that made them just perfect with a big, yummy scoop of banana ice-cream.

*note: I put a cup of walnuts on top of the mixture before baking to make a walnut-like crust, but go ahead and mix them into the batter before baking. Ditto with the white choc chips, or go super wild and use dark choc chips for extra punch.

Banana Chocolate Brownies

adapted from The Canadian Living Test Kitchen

80 ml butter (⅓ cup)
185g dark chocolate, chopped (I used a mix of 60 and 70%)
150ml sugar (⅔ cup)
2 eggs
Heaping, oozing ½ cup mashed, ripe banana (the blacker the better)
2 tsp Vanilla
150ml flour (⅔ cup)
1tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
¼ cup white chocolate chips
1 cup walnuts, broken up

– pre-heat oven to 350˚F

– line an 8″ square baking tin (or equivalent)

-in a heavy bottomed saucepan, melt chocolate and butter. Let cool a bit, then whisk in the sugar.

– in a separate bowl, whisk the eggs with the banana and vanilla. Add to the chocolate mix.

– whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt, sift into chocolate and mix well.

– scraped into baking tin, top with nuts.

– bake for about 30 mins until set in the middle. Remove from oven, top with white chocolate chips and allow to cool for about 10 minutes before cutting.

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French Lentils

We haven’t had a housewarming, per se yet. But we decided last week that something was needed to make our house feel like home. And I also needed something to kick start the kitchen a little. A Winter Dinner was quickly put together, some friends asked around and the fire was lit in the hearth. With Winter having arrived a little earlier than I think we were expecting, the meal was warm and comforting, with loads of winter veg and a little bit of chocolatey goodness to help it all along the way. We started off with a Chestnut and Onion Soup, which is a traditional French soup and neither too hearty not too brothy; followed by a main course of Filo baskets filled with Beetroot, Butternut and Onion, topped with a Broccoli and Pepita pesto and accompanied with a variation of the divine Deb’s Curried Lentils and Sweet potatoes and some fresh Cherry Tomatoes. But my favourite bit was, of-course, dessert, as it so very often is. Le Dessert was a miniaturised variation of Nigella’s Nutella cake, topped with a precious marron glacè and swathed in a white chocolate and saffron ganache. Oh, yum. The little cakes were warm from the oven and slightly sticky on the inside. Chocolate heaven. Mmmmm.

An no, I’m afraid I’m not going to give you the recipe’s this time. I have Christmas Stuff to do! My, it’s busy this time of year. Instead, here are some temptingly yummy pictures to water your mouth over a little.

Fireside dinner 1

 

Fireside dinner 1

 

Fireside dinner 3

 

 

 

 

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If you’re in the same boat as me (and by boat I mean relative age category) you’ll remember the Guns ‘n Roses track “November Rain”. If you were in the Romantic Teenage Angst Boat at the time you’ll no doubt be thinking of the sad “death” of a ravishing Stephanie Seymour and that dress, coveted by teenage girls the world over. Well, I’m a little off topic here, but bare with me. Growing up on the High Veld of South Africa, one could only associate November Rain with that gorgeous rush of a late afternoon thunderstorm, a perfect tribute in the Romantic Mind of an Angst-ridden Teen to the loved-and-lost epiphany of pour ol’ Axl Rose.

It’s only now, in my second November in North America, that I can look back at that video and realise (as one so often does when thinking back to one’s teen years) just how very, very wrong I was. I remember last November in Toronto well: the huddling masses, waiting, shivering and dripping for a tram; the crouching of the pedestrian population into their soggy coats and the squelching of water-ridden shoes and socks. November Rain, it seems, has nothing much to do with passion and glory and the lightening strike of True Love (with an electric guitar). It has to do with endless, grey and sombre days; dripping, sopping, wet days and not enough love to go around.

None of this Novemberness is in anyway helping with my exasperation at not yet being back at my stove. Well, not successfully, in any event. We cooked our first meal last night, with a friend come to visit, and it was a dismal, if laughable, failure. After discovering late in the day that the soup I’d left out to defrost was marked “Country Soup” in my sloppy handwriting, and not “Vegetable Soup” for the simple reason that it had ham in it, and our guest being vegetarian, I rifled in the fridge and settled on making a spinach and mushroom soup with purple potatoes. Sounds yummy, non? And really, how hard could it be? It’s soup! It’s easy! Except, that in my distracted state of being, I doubled the amount of stock in the pot and ended up with a green, watery grave for the potatoes to bob around in. After reducing it for as long as I thought I could get away with, I discovered that the stock, once thus condensed, had turned the soup far too salty. Ah well, at least the sun-dried tomato and herb bread was good.

Oh, patience, Vickers, I keep telling myself. Before you know it all the boxes will be packed away and you’ll be baking batches of biscuits till the cows come home. Le sigh. In the mean time I’ll think back to that time I like to call Before The Rain and a walk I took in the park…

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White and dark chocolate mousse

Nothing is calming down in this household at the moment. No sooner do I drop my bags at the door, when I have to pick up the packaging tape and bubble wrap and start packing all over again. Yip, we’re a-movin’. I think back over the last chunk of my life and realise that I’ve moved every single year (at least once) for the last 8 years. That’s a lot of packaging tape, and a lot why-won’t-the-espresso-maker-fit-in-this-box frustration. Though, I’m really excited about this next move. It’s to a house, you see. A real house, a tall house, a house with an Outside where I can (hopefully) grow a tomato or two come the Spring. We’ll see just how green my thumbs are then, won’t we?

In the mean time I’m going to take a moment and remember a little bowl of comfort I made for a friend just before the last set of jetting. For recipe’s, go here and here. Here’s what I changed from there:

– I adjusted the recipe’s to allow for 2 egg whites per mousse. I used 4 egg whites all together, beat in one big bowl, then divided between each ganache.

– I didn’t put any spices or flavouring into the mousse (not even espresso, gasp!) and I used 60% chocolate for the dark mousse for a lighter flavour (my friend, Ms K has a milder palate)

– I spooned the different layers carefully from the sides of the glass to the middle. Start in the middle and the bit you’re adding just sinks to the bottom, pushing the bottom layer up the sides.

White and dark chocolate mousse 2

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white chocolate tart with blackberries 1

I’ve been using Mr P’s camera for the last while to take blog photographs, seeing as how I’m still a poor and starving artist. Wait. Did I just say ‘starving’? Well, hardly, but I’m still holding out for the camera I long for and in the interim I’m a Borrower. On Sunday I did something I’ve never done before, trained as I am with the reflexes of a cat (ahem) and dropped Mr P’s appropriated private possession, destroying the focus and retraction on the lens. Not wanting to beat about the bush for too long I ran out at first light, well 10am when the shops opened doors you must be a stickler for detail, and purchased a replacement model, which is shiny and new, with bells and whistles (the old one just had the bells) and fits in to the hand like it was born to be there. The proof of the pudding, as always in this house, is in the eating, so we’ll have to wait and see the first foodie photo’s it takes before we judge.

In the mean time, perhaps I could interest you in a little something something for that sweet tooth. A little derivative from Sylivie, who somehow always leaves me feeling a little breathless and under qualified in the baking department.

*note: this recipe needs about 6 hours in the fridge, preferably overnight. It’s great for entertaining as you can make the shells and filling the day before and just whip up and decorate the tarts before your guests arrive.

white chocolate tart with blackberries 2

White Chocolate Tarts with Black berries

for the pate sable:
200g butter, softened
pinch salt
⅓ cup icing sugar, sifted
¼ cup almond flour
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 Tbsp + 1½ cup flour

for the filling:
70g white chocolate, chopped
2 Tbsp + 60 ml Cream

1 punnet black berries, washed

make the pastry:
– beat the butter with the almond flour, salt and sugar until creamy.

– add the egg, vanilla and 1 Tbsp of the flour and beat until smooth.

– add the rest of the flour and combine to form a sticky dough. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour

– roll out and line greased and floured tart tins, refrigerate for a few mins

– heat oven to 360˚. Blind bake tarts (using parchment paper and legumes/lentils/etc) for 10 mins

– remove from oven, remove paper and legumes, bake empty tart shells another 7 – 10 mins until pastry is coming away from the sides of the tins and is “singing”.

– cool tart shells to room temperature.

make the filling:

– in a bain mare, melt the chocolate with the 2 Tbsp cream

– when the ganache is smooth, remove from heat to cool a bit. Add the rest of the cream and chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours, or overnight.

– whip the chocolate cream until it’s stiff. It whips up really quickly.

– fill the baked tart shells and top with black berries.

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Matcha green tea and Lavender cup cakes

Who on this earth does not have a secret love affair with cup cakes? Those little mounds of sweet delight we used to gorge ourselves on at Saturday afternoon birthday parties as children, usually in unnaturally bright colours and packed with enough sugar to give all children tummy aches and all Mums headaches. The time for the Noble Cup Cake, as I’m sure you’ve noticed from local corner bakery to Gourmandista’s grocery lists, has returned. Only now they’re a little more grown up, a little more subtle but still oh so good. While great as a tea time snack on your own on a Sunday afternoon, a treat for the entire office or a delightful end to a dinner party I can assure you that the best bit of these little treasures is the making of them!

I’ve adapted the cup cake recipe from Nigella Lawson’s ‘Domestic Goddess‘ to suit my tastes.

Lavender Cupcakes

Basic Cup Cake Batter

Makes 12 little cup cakes

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup castor sugar
2 eggs
1 cup flour
20 mls milk

For the Matcha Tea cakes:Matcha Green Tea
2½ tsp matcha tea powder
few drops vanilla

For the Lavender cakes:
1 Tbsp dried Lavender petals
⅓ cup milk
few drops vanilla

– heat oven to 400˚F

– put 12 medium muffin liners in a muffin tin

– beat butter and sugar together until creamy. Add eggs one at a time and beat well. (For Matcha cakes, add vanilla here).

– add flour and mix until well incorporated. Add milk and mix.

– bake for 10 – 15 mins. Keep an eye on them, they will go from yumminess to dry and nasty in no time!
– allow to cool completely before icing.

To Make the Lavender Cakes:
– put milk and flowers in a small sauce pan and heat until the milk is piping hot, but not boiling. Remove from heat, cover and allow to steep for a good 20 to 30 mins.

– strain milk, add vanilla and use Lavender milk in place of normal milk in cup cake recipe.

To Make Matcha Cakes:
– add vanilla after eggs

– once batter is mixed, add tea powder and incorporate.

White Chocolate Icing for Matcha Cakes

75 g good white chocolate (using good chocolate makes a big difference)
60 g unsalted butter
2 tsp milk
Icing sugar, about 2 – 3 cups, sifted
3 Tbsp Cream Cheese

– melt chocolate, butter and milk together over a bain marie, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat and allow to cool for a minute.

– add sugar, a half cup at a time, until consistency of mixture is a smooth, easily spreadable paste. Add cream cheese and mix well.

Lavender Cupcakes 2

Lavender icing

½ stick unsalted butter, softened
2 or so cups icing sugar, sifted
3 Tbsp Lavender Milk
a drop of blue and red food colouring

– beat butter until creamy. Add icing sugar a bit
at a time until a stiff icing is formed.
Add milk and mix, adjust consistency of
icing with sugar.

– in a small bowl, combine food colouring
with one teaspoon icing. Mix well.
Add to icing, little bit by little bit,
mixing very well in between,
until desired shade is obtained.

Matcha Green Tea cup cakes

Lavender Cupcakes 3

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White Choc Mousse with Red Currant Sour Cherry

Three egg whites and a secret, long kept desire to make white chocolate mousse. I’ve developed a real taste for white chocolate over the last few weeks. I’ve been making white chocolate and macadamia nut muffins and chucking a cup in with the dark chocolate when making choc chip cookies, but somehow an entire dessert of white chocolate seemed far too cloying to be a success. But cut the extreme sweetness with some tart, sour berries and voila! Success! The berry confit I made from the red currants and sour cherries perfectly complements the white chocolate of the mousse. Yum!

White Chocolate Mousse with Red Currant Sour Cherry Confit

for the confit:Sour Berries

(best made a day or so ahead)

1 punnet red currants, destalked
1 punnet small, red sour cherries, pitted
½ cup sugar

– put a saucer in the freezer

– in two separate, large, heavy based pots
bring the berries to the boil with ½ cup of
water each. Simmer until tender, about 10 mins.

– using a potato masher, mash the currants.
Add cherries to currant pot.

– add the sugar and bring to a hard simmer, stirring frequently, until mixture thickens a bit, about 15 mins.

-remove saucer from freezer and put a drop of the conserve on it. When the edges wrinkle when pushed with your finger, the conserve is ready. Bottle in a sterilised jam jar.

for the mousse: (adapted from the Callebaut website, which is the couverture I used for this)

230 – 250 g white chocolate, chopped
80 ml milk
3 large egg whites
200 ml whipping cream

-melt the chocolate in a bain marie

-warm the milk, do not allow to boil

– remove chocolate from stove once melted. Transfer to a bowl and add milk. Mix until smooth.

– whip egg whites until soft peaks form. Gently fold into chocolate mixture.

– whip cream and gently fold into chocolate mixture.

– divide mousse into two parts. Gently fold about 60 – 80 ml currant and cherry conserve into one half.

– place 1 Tbsp berry conserve into the bottom of each serving glass/bowl. Divide white mousse between bowls. Carefully pour berry mouse into centre of each bowl

– refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving. Can be made the day ahead, so it’s a great, easy dessert recipe for dinner guests.

 

White chocolate mouse with redcurrant sour cherry conserve

 

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