Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Piña Colada cake

Piña Colada cake / Bolo Piña Colada

This is the cake I made for my MIL’s birthday; I’d already set up my mind to bake a chocolate cake, but when I called her to ask which flavor she wanted she told me I was being kind enough to bake her the cake, so she would not choose the flavor – I should do that, instead; just what I needed to try a different cake from my favorite layer cake book. :D

I could not find canned pineapple in juice, so I bought it in syrup and adapted the filling. I thought the pineapple jam was delicious and the coconut buttercream almost addictive – but wasn’t all that happy about the cake layers. They tasted good, because of the massive amounts of brown sugar, but the texture was a bit heavy in my opinion. If you’re interested in making the piña colada cake, I suggest the cake layers from this recipe.

Piña Colada cake
adapted from Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes

Brown sugar cake:
3¾ cups (525g) cake flour*
1¾ teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2¼ cups (393g) packed light brown sugar
1 cup (226g/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1¾ cups (420ml) buttermilk
5 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2/3 cups (160ml) rum (light, amber or dark), to assemble the cake

Pineapple filling:
1 can (560g/20oz) sliced pineapple in syrup
1 cup (200g) caster sugar
1/3 cup (80ml) freshly squeezed lime juice
3 tablespoons water
½ vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped with the back of a knife

Coconut buttercream:
3 eggs whites
pinch of salt
1 cup (200g) caster sugar
¼ cup (60ml) water
2½ sticks (280g/10oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup (160ml) unsweetened coconut milk

½ cup (50g) sweetened shredded coconut, lightly toasted (if desired)
pineapple slice

Start by making the cakes: preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Butter three 22cm (9in) cake pans, line the base with baking paper and butter the paper as well.
Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt into the large bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk gently to combine. Add the brown sugar, butter and 1½ cups of the buttermilk to the dry ingredients. With the mixer on low blend to incorporate. Raise the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.
Whisk the eggs with the remaining ¼ cup buttermilk and the vanilla and add to the batter in 3 additions, scraping down the sides of the bowl well and beating only long enough to incorporate between additions. Divide the batter between the 3 pans.
Bake for 25-28 minutes or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the layers cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire racks, carefully peel off the paper and allow to cool completely.

Now, the pineapple filling: drain the pineapple and discard the syrup. Set aside 1 slice of pineapple (for decoration) and finely chop the other slices. Place in a medium saucepan with the sugar, lime juice and water. Add the vanilla seeds you scraped from the vanilla bean. Warm over a medium-low heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar, 2 to 3 minutes. Raise the heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the juices have almost completely evaporated and turned jam-like in consistency. Let the filling cool completely before using. Can be made a day in advance and refrigerated.

Make the buttercream: put the eggs whites and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whip attachment so they are ready to go.
Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and place over a medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Bring to the boil and cook without stirring until the syrup reaches the sold boil stage, 114°C/238°F on a candy thermometer.
Beat the egg whites briefly at medium speed. Slowly add the hot syrup in a thin stream, being careful to avoid the beaters. Continue to whip until the meringue has cooled to body temperature.
With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the butter, several tablespoons at a time and continue to beat until a smooth fluffy frosting forms.
Add the coconut milk in several additions, scraping down the sides of the bowl well after each addition. Measure 1 cup of the buttercream and mix with the pineapple filling.

Assembling the cake: place one layer flat side up on a cake stand. Sprinkle a generous 3 tablespoons** rum over the cake. Spread half of the filling over the layer, leaving a small gap around the edge. Add the second layer, sprinkle with more rum and cover with the remaining filling. Top with the third layer and sprinkle with the remaining rum.
Frost the top and sides of the cake with the coconut buttercream. Decorate the sides of the cake with
the shredded coconut and top with the reserved pineapple slice.

* homemade cake flour: 1 cup (140g) all purpose flour minus 2 tablespoons + 2 tablespoons corn starch

** I used only 1 tablespoon of rum per cake layer

Serves 14-16 – I made 2/3 of the recipe above and used 20cm (8in) cake pans

Monday, September 27, 2010

Dark and bitter orange chocolate cookies

Dark and bitter orange chocolate cookies / Cookies de chocolate amargo e casca de laranja em calda

I’m not a chocoholic but love chocolate and orange together.
I know the thought of making the candied orange strips might make some of you discard this recipe, but let me tell you: these cookies are absolutely worth the “trouble”. :D

From U.E.’s blog – and I already have another recipe of his on my "to try" list. :D

Dark and bitter orange chocolate cookies

Candied orange peel:
3 oranges, preferably organic
2 cups (400g) caster sugar
2 cups (480ml) water

224g (8oz) bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup + 1 tablespoon (150g) all-purpose flour
½ cup + 2 tablespoons (57g) cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ cup (113g/1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup + 2 tablespoons (224g) caster sugar
2 large eggs
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup (80ml) whole milk
½ batch candied orange peel, chopped (recipe follows)

Start by making the candied orange peel: remove the rind from the oranges by slicing off the two polar ends (stem and blossom ends). Score the fruit in wide strips from one polar end to the other, cutting through the rind and the white pith, but stopping just shy of the flesh of the fruit. Peel the rind and reserve the fruit for other use.
Put the rind in a small sauce pan. Add water to cover and bring to a boil. Drain the rind and return them to the sauce pan. Repeat the boiling process twice more. Set the rind aside to cool. If there is an inordinate amount of fleshy, white pith, gently scrape it away with a spoon. Slice the wide strips into thin strips – about the thickness of a chopstick.

In a medium sauce pan, combine the water and sugar. Place this over medium heat and bring it to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Add the orange rind strips and lower the heat to medium-low. Cook the rind over a simmer until the strips of rind become translucent. The cooking time can vary depending on the thickness of the rind. This will generally not occur until the sugar syrup has sufficiently thickened. However, if the syrup has become too thick, add a little bit of water. If the white of the pith is still opaque, keep cooking. At no time should the temperature of the sugar syrup exceed 110°C/230°F (use a candying thermometer to check the temperature from time to time).
Once the rind is sufficiently candied, remove the pan from the heat and pour the contents into a heatproof container. Let cool completely. Store the zest in the cooking syrup in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 month. When you are ready to use the rind, drain them from the syrup and let them dry on a baking rack for no less than 6 hours, but no more than 12 hours. In addition to using them in cakes, cookies, and ice creams, they can be dipped in chocolate.

Now, the cookies: preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Line two large baking sheets with baking paper.
Pour water to a depth of about 5cm (2in) into a saucepan, place over medium heat, and bring to a simmer. Put the chocolate into a stainless-steel bowl that will rest securely in the rim of the pan and place it over, not touching, the water. Make sure that the bowl is completely dry before you add the chocolate and that no moisture gets into the chocolate. Moisture will cause the chocolate to seize, or develop lumps. Heat, stirring occasionally, just until the chocolate melts and is smooth. Remove from the heat and let cool.

Stir together the flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder in a bowl. Set aside. Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until creamy. Slowly add the sugar and mix until the mixture is completely smooth and soft. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition until incorporated before adding the next egg. Beat in the salt and vanilla, and then add the melted chocolate and beat until incorporated. Add the milk and chopped candied orange peel and beat until combined. Finally, add the flour mixture and beat on low speed until incorporated.

Drop the dough by heaping tablespoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheet, spacing them about 2.5cm (1in) apart. Bake the cookies until they are just barely firm on top when lightly touched by are still very soft underneath, about 7 minutes - mine needed 10 minutes. They will get firmer as they cool. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and let cool. They will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for several days.

Makes 36 – I halved the cookie recipe and made 1/3 of the candied orange peel for it (got 26 cookies)

Friday, September 24, 2010

Crème brûlée with passion fruit topping and a thank you

Crème brûlée with passion fruit topping / Crème brûlée com cobertura de maracujá

No, no, the crème brûlée bug has not bitten me – to be honest, I made this recipe just because of the passion fruit topping. :)
Not sure if that is a sensible way of choosing a recipe to make, but what else could you expect from someone who watches “Lie to Me” just because of Tim Roth? ;)

On a totally different note, I would like to thank Amanda for this lovely, beautiful article about my blog, and my reader Tania Pereyra for telling me about it! xx

Crème brûlée with passion fruit topping
from Simple Essentials Fruit

4 cups (960ml) single/heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
8 egg yolks
½ cup + 1 tablespoon (112g) caster sugar
¾ cup + 1 tablespoon (162g) caster sugar, extra
pulp of 1 passion fruit*

Place the cream and vanilla bean and seeds in a saucepan over low heat and cook gently until the mixture just comes to a boil. Remove from the heat, cover and let infuse for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 160°C/320°F. Remove the bean from the cream and reheat it.
Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until thick and pale. Pour the warm cream over the egg mixture and whisk to combine. Return the mixture to the pan and stir constantly over low heat for 6-8 minutes or until custard coats the back of a spoon. Pour the custard into eight ½ cup (120ml) capacity ovenproof dishes and place in a deep baking dish. Add boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the dishes. Bake for 25 minutes or until just set. Let cool then refrigerate for 3 hours or until custard is completely set.
Combine the extra sugar and passion fruit pulp, cover the custards with the mixture and caramelize with a blowtorch.

* the passion fruit I used were huge (there’s a photo here) so ½ was enough

Serves 8

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Dulce de leche crêpe cake with Suzette sauce

Dulce de leche crêpe cake with Suzette sauce / Bolo de crepes com doce de leite e calda Suzette

Before I give you the recipe for this delicious dessert, I have to confess something: I cheated. See those pretty little citrus segments on top of the crepe cakes? I did not cut those. I suck at segmenting citrus fruit. After murdering two oranges trying to finish up the recipe I gave up – and reached for the jar of mandarins in syrup I had gotten in a Christmas basket and thought I would never use. :D

Wow, I feel a lot lighter now. :D

Dulce de leche crêpe cake with Suzette sauce / Bolo de crepes com doce de leite e calda Suzette

Dulce de leche crêpe cake with Suzette sauce
from Australian Gourmet Traveller

395g (1 can) dulce de leche
4 oranges, segmented
pouring cream, whisked to soft peaks, to serve

Crêpe batter:
350g (2 ½ cups) all purpose flour
finely grated zest of 1 orange
4 cups (960ml) whole milk
160g unsalted butter, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon caster sugar
1 teaspoon salt
6 eggs
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup (240ml) beer

Suzette sauce:
½ cup + 1 tablespoon (127g) unsalted butter, coarsely chopped
¼ cup + 1 ½ tablespoons (68g) caster sugar
finely grated zest of 2 oranges
1 teaspoon orange-blossom water (optional)
½ cup (120ml) freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tablespoon + ¼ cup (60ml) Cointreau, Grand Marnier or brandy, separate use

Start by making the crêpe batter: combine flour and zest in a large bowl and form a well in the center. Combine milk, butter, sugar and salt in a saucepan over high heat until butter melts (5-6 minutes). Whisk eggs and oil in a bowl until combined, add milk mixture, then gradually pour into flour, stirring with a whisk until blended and smooth. Stir in beer, cover with plastic, stand at room temperature for 30 minutes, then refrigerate to rest (overnight)*.
Heat a non-stick crêpe pan with a 21cm-diameter base over medium-high heat, add ¼ cup (60ml) crêpe batter, swirl to coat pan, cook until golden (2 minutes), turn and cook until set (30 seconds). Transfer to a plate and repeat, stacking crêpes as you go. Makes about 25 crêpes.
Spread 3 teaspoons of dulce de leche on each crêpe except the top one, stacking crêpes on an ovenproof serving plate as you go. Set aside at room temperature.
For Suzette butter, cook butter, sugar, zest and orange-blossom water in a saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves and bubbles (4-5 minutes). Add orange juice and 1 tablespoon Cointreau and simmer until slightly thickened (7-8 minutes; the sauce can be made ahead up to this stage and reheated when ready to use).
To serve, preheat oven to 180°C/350°F. Warm crêpe cake in oven (5-8 minutes). Meanwhile, add orange segments to Suzette butter, warm over low heat (3 minutes), spoon a little Suzette butter with orange segments over cake, and transfer remaining to a serving dish. Return pan to heat until warm, add remaining Cointreau, carefully ignite alcohol with a long match, tilting pan away from you (be careful as alcohol will burst into flames), then pour over cake while still lit. Serve warm with whipped cream and Suzette butter.

* I refrigerated my batter for 6 hours and it worked out fine

Serves 12 – I halved the recipe above, made 12cm crêpes and got 20; made two stacks with 10 crêpes each

Monday, September 20, 2010

Ginger crunch bars and favorite parts of songs

Ginger crunch bars / Barrinhas crocantes de gengibre

There are songs I adore as a whole, but certain parts of them I deeply love: the first seconds of “This Charming Man” and “You Surround Me”, or the very ending of “One Headlight”, for instance.

The same happens with these bars: I liked them as a whole – and you will too, especially if you do not overbake the base as I did – but the ginger icing is especially good. Actually, after spreading the icing over the shortbread I licked the spatula so eagerly I burned my tongue. :S

Ginger crunch bars
from Donna Hay magazine

2 2/3 cups (374g) all purpose flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder, sifted
2 teaspoons ground ginger, sifted
1 cup + 1 ½ tablespoons (218g) caster sugar
250g cold unsalted butter, chopped

Ginger icing:
150g unsalted butter, chopped
¼ cup corn syrup
1 ½ tablespoons ground ginger, sifted
1 2/3 cups (234g) icing sugar, sifted

Make the base: preheat the oven to 180°/350°F. Lightly butter a 20x30cm (8x12in) pan, line with foil leaving an overhang on two opposite sides. Butter the foil, but not the overhangs.
Place the flour, baking powder, ginger and sugar in the bowl of a food processor and process in short bursts to combine*. Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs – the base will be crumbly when you press it into the pan, but will come together as the butter melts in the oven. Press into the base of the prepared pan. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden and firm to touch. Set aside to cool completely.
Now, the icing: place the butter, corn syrup and ginger in a saucepan over medium heat and cook for 2-3 minutes or until butter is melted. Add the icing sugar and whisk to combine. Pour icing over base and refrigerate for 1 hour or until set. Carefully lift up the ends of the foil liner, and transfer to a cutting board. Cut in bars with a sharp knife.

* I made 2/3 of the recipe and used a 20cm (8in) square pan; when I made the base, the food processor was pretty full, but processed it normally

Makes 20

Friday, September 17, 2010

Olive and rosemary breads

Olive and rosemary breads / Pãezinhos de azeitona e alecrim

Joao and I are absolutely crazy for olives – that is why it is difficult for me to make a recipe that calls for them: we eat the whole jar beforehand. :D

The first time I made this recipe I used sage instead of rosemary, but after the breads were baked there was hardly any flavor left from the herb. Rosemary works beautifully here and even though it is a mighty herb it doesn’t overpower the olive flavor.

I highly recommend these still warm from the oven – and they reheat really well, too.

Olive and rosemary breads
from Donna Hay magazine

Basic dough:
1 teaspoon dry active yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup (240ml) lukewarm whole milk
2 ½ cups (350g) all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil

1 quantity basic dough
generous ½ cup black olives
1 ½ tablespoons rosemary leaves
all purpose flour, for kneading
olive oil, for brushing

Place the yeast, sugar and milk in a bowl and mix to combine. Set aside in a warm place for 5 minutes or until bubbles appear on the surface.
Add the flour, salt and oil to the yeast mixture and mix until a smooth dough forms. Knead on a lightly floured surface for 5 minutes or until smooth and elastic, adding a little extra flour if the dough becomes too sticky – I used my Kitchen Aid to knead the dough.
Cover with plastic wrap, set aside in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in size.

Brush sixteen ½ cup (120ml) capacity pans with oil or cooking spray.
Press down the olives with the palm of your hand to remove the stones, then tear the olives into pieces. Knead the olives and rosemary leaves into the dough on a generously floured surface, incorporating extra flour to compensate for the wetness of the olives. Divide into 16 pieces and roll into balls.
Place in prepared pans, cover with a clean tea towel and set aside in a warm place for 45 minutes or until the dough is doubled in size. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F.
Brush with the oil and bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden.

Makes 16

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Lemon cake with crackly caramel glaze

Lemon cake with crackly caramel glaze / Bolo de limão siciliano com casquinha quebradiça de caramelo

If there are no limits to the number of apple cakes I’m willing to try, do I need to say anything about lemon cakes? :)

I saw this recipe a couple of weeks ago and went completely crazy over it – I felt like running home to bake it, but unfortunately I had to work. I ended up making it a couple of days later, but switched to another cake recipe – the thought of whipping the egg whites separately made me feel instantly lazy.

The caramel glaze did not work as the recipe said it would – ask Joao about the nice words coming from the kitchen while I was making it – so I made another batch of caramel and simply poured it over the cake. It was a bit hard to slice, but tasted good – and absolutely crackly. :)

The reason why I’m posting this recipe, bad caramel and all, is that I had to share with you my favorite lemon cake so far. Did I say lemon cake? Sorry – my favorite cake. Period. :D

Lemon cake with crackly caramel glaze / Bolo de limão siciliano com casquinha quebradiça de caramelo

Lemon cake with crackly caramel glaze
adapted from Baking by Flavor

2 ¾ cups (385g) all purpose flour
1/3 cup (46g) cake flour*
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks/226g) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups (400g) caster sugar
finely grated zest of 2 lemons
2 tablespoons lemon juice
4 large eggs
1 cup less 2 tablespoons buttermilk, well shaken

Lemon syrup:
¼ cup (60ml) water
¼ cup (50g) caster sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Crackly caramel glaze:
1 cup (200g) caster sugar
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
2 tablespoons water

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Generously butter a 25cm (10in) Bundt pan.
Sift the all purpose flour, cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl. Set aside.
Cream the butter in the large bowl of an electric mixer on moderate speed for 3 minutes. Add the sugar in three additions, beating in moderate speed for 1 minute after each addition. Beat in the lemon zest and juice. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for 30 seconds after each addition.
On low speed, alternatively add the sifted ingredients in three additions and the buttermilk in two additions, beginning and ending with the sifted mixture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl frequently to keep the batter even textured. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and level the top.
Bake the cake for 55 minutes or until risen, set and a wooden toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean. Let the cake stand in the pan on a wire rack for 5-8 minutes then invert onto another wire rack.

Make the syrup: in a small saucepan, simmer the water and sugar over moderate heat just until the sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes. Let cool, then stir in the lemon juice. While the cake is still hot, brush it with the glaze, taking care to dampen the sides of the cake as well. Cool completely before drizzling the cake with the caramel.

Make the caramel glaze: in a heavy saucepan, stir the sugar with the cream of tartar and water until sandy. Wash down the sides of the pan with a moistened pastry brush to remove any sugar crystals. Bring the mixture to a boil over moderately high heat and cook without stirring until a deep honey-colored caramel forms, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Carefully swirl the pan to cool the caramel slightly, then pour it over the cake.

* homemade cake flour: 1 cup (140g) all purpose flour minus 2 tablespoons + 2 tablespoons corn starch

Serves 16 – I halved the cake and lemon syrup recipes and used a 6 cup capacity ring pan; I did not halve the caramel recipe, though

Monday, September 13, 2010

Whole wheat chocolate chip cookies

Whole wheat chocolate chip cookies / Cookies integrais com gotas de chocolate

A couple of days ago I was discussing Oscar injustices with the lovely @liliantrigo – it all started with this post – and we came to the conclusion that the year of 1994 was a disaster in the male categories: Ralph Fiennes, magnificent (for a change) in “Schindler’s List” lost to Tommy Lee Jones – just typing this makes me mad already. And Tom Hanks got the award for “Philadelphia” (what a bad movie, my goodness), beating Daniel Day Lewis for the amazing “In the Name of the Father”, Liam Neeson and Laurence Fishburne.

There’s nothing I can do regarding the people voting for the Oscars, but there is one injustice I can fix: I used to look the other way every time I saw a recipe calling for whole wheat flour – I know, I know, that’s awful. But these cookies have changed my mind – and now I want to make each and every recipe in this book.

Whole wheat chocolate chip cookies / Cookies integrais com gotas de chocolate

Whole wheat chocolate chip cookies
from Good to the Grain

3 cups (420g) whole wheat flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks/226g) cold unsalted butter, chopped into 1.25cm (½ in) pieces
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
224g (8oz) bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped into 6mm and 1.25cm (¼ and ½ in) pieces

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Line two large baking sheets with baking paper.
Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl, pouring back into the bowl of grain or other ingredients that may remain in the sifter.
Add the butter and sugars to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. With the mixer on low speed, mix just until the ingredients are blended, 2 minutes. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing until each is combined. Mix in the vanilla. Add the flour mixture at once and blend on low just until the flour is barely combined, about 30 seconds. Add the chocolate chunks at once and mix on low speed just until the chocolate is evenly combined – to avoid overmixing the dough, finish incorporating the ingredients with your hands.
Scoop mounds of dough about 3 tablespoons in size onto prepared baking sheets, 7.5cm (3 in) apart*. Bake the cookies for 12-16 minutes or until they are evenly dark brown. Transfer the cookies, still on the baking paper, to the counter to cool.
Cookies are best the day they are made but will keep in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

*I halved the recipe above, used 1 leveled tablespoon of dough per cookie (I don’t like very large cookies), placing them on the sheets 5cm (2in) apart and got 36 cookies

Makes 20

Friday, September 10, 2010

Grape nectar baby cakes

Grape nectar baby cakes / Bolinhos com calda de uva

I have made several recipes from this adorable little book and loved each and every one of them. Now, Julie Le Clerc strikes again – the cakes are very simple, but the grape syrup... Yum! I bet it tastes great over ice cream, too – too bad there was none left for testing. :D

Grape nectar baby cakes
from Little Cafe Cakes

¾ cup (150g) caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup + 1 tablespoon (127g) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 eggs
½ cup (120ml) whole milk
1 ¾ cups (245g) self rising flour, sifted

Grape nectar syrup:
1 ½ cups (360ml) grape juice
juice of 1 lime
1 cup (200g) caster sugar

Preheat the oven to 160°C/320°F. Butter and flour twelve individual cake of muffin pans or one 20cm springform cake pan*.
Cream sugar, vanilla and butter together. Beat in eggs and then milk. Gently stir in flour.
Divide the batter between prepared pans and bake for 15-20 minutes (muffin pans; if using the large pan oven time will vary) or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack then unmold.
Make the syrup: combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil then simmer for 10-15 minutes or until thick and syrupy.
Pour hot syrup over cold cakes and serve.

* I made the recipe above and got 4 mini Bundt cakes (1 cup capacity pans) + 3 small cakes (1/3 cup capacity muffin pans)

Makes 12

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Marmalade bread and butter pudding

Marmalade bread and butter pudding / Pudim de pão com geléia de laranja

Yesterday I did two things for the first time in my life: I made bread pudding and watched “Fargo”.

Let’s just say that the dessert was a thousand times better than the movie – and for the record, I like the Coen brothers. Even though I’m 14 years late for this, I think Frances McDormand should mail her Oscar to Kristin Scott Thomas, Brenda Blethyn or Emily Watson – the award should have gone to any of the three.

Marmalade bread and butter pudding / Pudim de pão com geléia de laranja

Marmalade bread and butter pudding
adapted from Donna Hay magazine

softened butter, for spreading
8 thick slices bread
1 cup marmalade
2 cups (480ml) whole milk
1 cup (240ml) single (pouring) cream
3 eggs
½ cup (100g) caster sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons demerara sugar
custard, ice-cream or double (thick) cream, to serve

Preheat oven to 160°C/320°F. Butter the bread slices, spread half with marmalade and sandwich with remaining slices.
Cut in half and arrange in two 3 cup-capacity (720ml) ovenproof dishes. Place the milk, cream, eggs, caster sugar and vanilla extract in a bowl and whisk well. Pour over the bread. Allow to soak for 1–2 minutes. Sprinkle over the demerara sugar and place in a large deep baking dish. Add enough boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the dishes.
Bake for 1 hour 5 minutes or until just set. Serve with custard or cream.

Serves 6

Monday, September 6, 2010

Chocolate pecan puddle cookies

Chocolate pecan puddle cookies / Cookies deliciosos de chocolate e pecã

Would you believe me if I told you that I made these cookies using only egg whites, cocoa, icing sugar and pecans?

I must confess that I doubted Aimée’s post at first – sorry, sweetie! – but since I was feeling pretty fearless I decided to see it for myself. And wow – these are so good! Sinfully delicious!

Now it’s your turn to be fearless and make these cookies – just be aware that they’re very addictive. :)

Chocolate pecan puddle cookies

3 cups (330g) pecans
4 cups (560g) icing sugar
2/3 cup (60g) cocoa
¼ teaspoon salt
4 large egg whites
1 tablespoon good vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F; line two large baking sheets with baking paper.
Toast your pecans, cool them and roughly chop them.
In a large bowl, sift together the icing sugar, cocoa and salt. Add the nuts, then stir in the egg whites and vanilla. Stir until well combined.
Drop the batter in small mounds (about 1 tablespoon each) onto prepared pans, spacing them well away from each other.
Bake for 9-11 minutes – they will spread, puff, crack on top, get glossy and then turn matte. Slide the cookies on the parchment off the sheet onto a cooling rack and let them cool.

Makes three dozen 5cm (2in) cookies – I halved the recipe, used 1 leveled tablespoon of dough per cookie and got 24

Friday, September 3, 2010

Cinnamon crumb muffins + and some movie spoilers

Cinnamon crumb muffins / Muffins de canela com farofinha de canela

Even though “The Hurt Locker” is not part of my all time favorite movies list and the Oscars are never fair, I have to say that it was wonderful seeing Kathryn Bigelow winning the award – for being a woman and for winning it over James Cameron. :D

But I have to complain about something and if you haven’t watched the movie yet, please, go straight to the recipe:


How could she get Ralph Fiennes *sigh* and Guy Pierce killed so quickly? That was such a waste! You should have seen the look on my face while watching the movie... :S

That reminds me of this recipe: if I’m going to make cinnamon muffins, there will be A LOT of cinnamon on them – otherwise, why bother? :)

Cinnamon crumb muffins
adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours

½ cup (70g) all purpose flour
½ cup (88g) light brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
5 tablespoons (70g) cold unsalted butter, cut into bits

2 cups (280g) all purpose flour
½ cup (100g) caster sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup (44g) light brown sugar, packed
½ cup (113g/1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs
¾ cup (180ml) whole milk
¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F. Butter or spray the 12 molds in a regular-size muffin pan or fit the molds with paper cups. Place the muffin pan on a baking sheet.

Start by making the streusel: Mix the flour, brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Add the butter and use your fingertips to rub it into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Set aside in the refrigerator for the moment.

Now, the muffins: in a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Stir in the brown sugar, making certain there are no lumps. In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, whisk the melted butter, eggs, milk, and vanilla extract together until well combined. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and, with a fork, gently but quickly stir to blend. Don't worry about being thorough--the batter will be lumpy, and that is just the way it should be.
Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups. Sprinkle some streusel over each muffin, then use your fingertips to gently press the crumbs into the batter.

Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the tops are golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes before carefully removing each muffin from its mold.

Makes 12 – I halved the recipe above, used 1/3 cup (80ml) capacity muffin pans and got 7 muffins

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Chocolate cake with caramel ganache for my sister's birthday

Chocolate cake with caramel ganache / Bolo de chocolate com ganache de caramelo

Traditions. I did not like them when I was younger, I must tell you that. But I have learned to cherish them over the years – I guess one should get wiser as they get older, right? :)

One of the traditions I hold dearest is baking my sister’s birthday cake - that started several years ago, long before I even knew what a food blog was. And lately I have been sharing these cakes with you, too. But I wasn’t particularly fond of the cake I baked this year – even with Olga’s precious tips the result did not please me; the cake layers were too big, the frosting was too sweet. I got angry and did not photograph it to create a post.


But as I’ve told you in the beginning of this text, I like traditions. And the light of my life deserves a birthday cake post. So I baked another cake – much simpler, but delicious – to have her birthday marked here somehow. And a birthday cake calls for candles, don’t you think?

Chocolate cake with caramel ganache / Bolo de chocolate com ganache de caramelo

Happy birthday, Jessica! I wish you all the happiness in the world, since you brought back the happiness I had long lost when you were born.
I love you! xx

Chocolate cake with caramel ganache / Bolo de chocolate com ganache de caramelo

Chocolate cake with caramel ganache
cake from here, ganache from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking

2/3 cup + 1 tablespoon (165g) unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup + 2 tablespoons (157g) brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups (186g) all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons (18g) cocoa powder
pinch of salt
2/3 cup sour cream – I used yogurt
165g dark chocolate, melted and cooled – I used 70% cocoa solids

Caramel ganache:
150g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), chopped
1/3 cup (67g) caster sugar
1 tablespoon water
½ tablespoon corn syrup
½ cup (120ml) heavy cream

Start by making the cake: preheat oven to 160°C/320°F. Butter a 20cm round cake pan, line the bottom with baking paper and butter the paper as well.
Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until light and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. Sift the flour, baking powder, cocoa and salt over the butter mixture, add the sour cream and chocolate, and mix until just combined.
Pour the mixture into prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes or until just set and a skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool in the pan over a wire rack. Carefully unmold onto a place, then invert in onto a serving plate, top side up.

Now, make the ganache: place chocolate in a heatproof small bowl. Set aside.
In a small saucepan, mix the sugar, water and corn syrup, being careful not to splash the mixture on the sides of the pan. Cook over high heat, without stirring, for 4-5 minutes or until golden – keep an eye on the caramel so it doesn’t burn, otherwise it will taste bitter. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, bring the cream to a boil over medium heat. Remove from heat. When caramel is golden, remove from heat and set aside for 30 seconds. Carefully – because it will bubble like crazy – add the cream to the caramel, mixing for 1 minute. Add this mixture to the chocolate and set aside for 2 minutes. Then, starting by the center of the mixture, stir until ganache is smooth. Allow the ganache to stand for 5-7 minutes before spreading over the top of the cake.

Serves 8

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