Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Classic unsweetened chocolate brownies

Classic unsweetened chocolate brownies / Brownies clássicos da Alice Medrich

My sister has a lot of friends, and that really makes me happy – I would never wish on her the lonely teenage years I had; some of her friends know I have a food blog and a couple of them read me from time to time.

A while ago I gave my sister and one of her friends a lift somewhere – the girl entered the car, my sister introduced us and then she very bluntly said: “I would love to have a brownie right now”. :D

When they got back from vacation I baked these brownies and told my sister to send some especially to Nicole – I love straight people who don’t beat around the bush. :D

Classic unsweetened chocolate brownies
from the amazing chocolate bible Bittersweet: Recipes and Tales from a Life in Chocolate

112g (4oz) unsweetened chocolate, chopped*
½ cup (113g/1 stick) unsalted butter
1 ¼ cups (250g) caster (superfine) sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
2 cold large eggs
½ cup (70g) all purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F. Line the bottom and sides of a lightly buttered 20cm (8in) square baking pan with foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sites; butter the foil as well.
Place the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water and stir frequently until chocolate is melted. Remove bowl from the heat and stir in the sugar, vanilla and salt. Add the eggs, one at a time, stirring well after each addition. Stir in the flour and beat with a rubber spatula until batter is smooth and glossy, 1-2 minutes. Transfer the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface.
Bake for about 20 minutes – the surface will look dry but a skewer inserted in the center will come out quite gooey.
Fill a roasting pan or large baking pan with ice cubes and add about 2cm (¾in) water. When the brownies are ready, remove the pan from the oven and immediately set it in the ice bath – be careful not to splash water on the brownies.
Cool completely, then carefully remove from the pan using the foil handles. Cut into squares.

* if using 70% cocoa chocolate: 180g (6½oz) chocolate, 7 tablespoons (98g) unsalted butter and 1 cup (200g) caster (superfine) sugar; omit the water bath

Makes 16

Monday, March 28, 2011

Rhubarb white chocolate muffins + a useful website

Rhubarb white chocolate muffins / Muffins de ruibarbo e chocolate branco

Having some rhubarb stalks left after making the compote, I needed a good recipe to use them, and something quick would be even better, since I had plans of watching a movie with my sister. There was a recipe for delicious-looking raspberry rhubarb muffins on "Flour" and adapted it a bit to get to the muffins you see on the picture – which were, indeed, delicious and super tender. :)

I found the rhubarb recipe really fast using “Eat Your Books” – I’ve been using this tool for over a month now and that has made my New-Year resolution of using my cookbooks more often a lot easier; I’m not getting a dime to tell you about the website – I just thought that many of you would find it as useful as I did. :)

Rhubarb white chocolate muffins
adapted from Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston's Flour Bakery + Cafe

1 ½ cups + 1 ½ tablespoons (225g) all purpose flour
¼ teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2/3 cup (133g) caster (superfine) sugar
¼ cup + 1 tablespoon (70g) unsalted butter, melted
½ cup (120ml) whole milk, room temperature
½ cup (130g) plain yogurt, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
125g rhubarb, chopped
½ cup (93g) white chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Line twelve 1/3-cup (80ml) capacity muffin pans with paper liners.*

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg and egg yolk with a fork. Add the sugar, butter, milk, yogurt and vanilla and whisk until well combined. Pour the liquid ingredients into the large bowl and mix lightly with a fork. Add the rhubarb and the white chocolate and mix, again with the fork – do not overmix the batter or you’ll end up with tough muffins. Divide the batter among the prepared pans and bake for 15-18 minutes or until risen and golden – a skewer inserted in the center of a muffin should come out clean.
Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then carefully remove from the pan and transfer to the wire rack to cool completely.

* I did not use paper liners and unmolding the muffins was complicated because some of the chocolate chips stuck to the pan

Makes 12

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Soba noodles with sesame seeds - a super quick meal

Soba noodles with sesame seeds / Soba com gergelim

This is such an easy dish and it tastes so great that I had to share it with you – perfect for those nights when all you need is a shower, a quick dinner, your couch and Detective Stabler, I mean, Law&Order SVU on TV. :)

Soba noodles with sesame seeds
from Nigella Fresh

75g sesame seeds
250g soba noodles
2 teaspoons rice vinegar (mirin)
5 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons honey
2 teaspoons sesame oil
5 spring onions

Toast the sesame seeds in a dry pan over high heat until they look golden brown; transfer to a bowl.
Bring a large pan of water to the boil and add some salt. Put in the soba noodles and cook them for about 6 minutes (or according to packet instructions) until they are tender but not mushy. Drain then refresh under cold water to stop them from cooking any further.
In the bowl you are going to serve them in, mix the vinegar, soy sauce, honey and oil. Then finely slice the spring onions and put them into the bowl with the cooled, drained noodles and mix together thoroughly before adding the sesame seeds and tossing again.

Serves 2

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Lemon ginger frozen yogurt and the beginning of fall

Lemon ginger frozen yogurt / Frozen yogurt de limão siciliano e gengibre

Fall has arrived and the days have been gray in Sao Paulo – the sun comes up for a while, but fat, heavy clouds seem much stronger and take over the sky.

I am not complaining for I love cold days, but this frozen yogurt certainly reminds me of the last days of summer – fresh, tangy, delicious.

Lemon ginger frozen yogurt
slightly adapted from the amazing Bon Appetit Desserts

¾ cup (180ml) water
¾ cup (150g) caster (superfine) sugar
¼ cup light corn syrup
2 teaspoons finely grated peeled fresh ginger
1 cup (260g) plain yogurt
1 cup (240ml) buttermilk
¼ cup (60ml) fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest

Bring the water, sugar, corn syrup and ginger into a boil in a small heavy saucepan, stirring until sugar dissolves. Boil 2 minutes. Remove from heat, strain into a medium bowl and chill until cool.
Whisk the yogurt, buttermilk, lemon juice and zest into the ginger syrup. Process mixture in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Serve immediately or transfer to an airtight container and freeze for up to 3 weeks.

Serves 6

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Peanut butter pound cake with coconut topping

Peanut butter pound cake with coconut topping / Bolo de manteiga de amendoim com cobertura de coco

Like the lovely Nina, I am, too, a pound cake addict: they are simple to make, taste great – and stay that way for a good couple of days – and after that can be turned into delicious toast.

This cake is fantastic and the topping is just as good – I “accidentally” left some in the pan after icing the cake and had to eat it with a spoon. :)

Peanut butter pound cake with coconut topping
slightly adapted from the wonderful Baking for All Occasions

1 cup (226g/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 ½ cups (300g) granulated sugar
140g creamy peanut butter
5 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 ¾ cups + 1 tablespoon (255g) all purpose flour

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup (58g) light brown sugar, packed
3 tablespoons heavy cream
½ cup (50g) sweetened shredded coconut, plus a pinch extra to garnish

Start with the cake: preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Butter and flour a 22.5x12.5x7.5cm (9x5x3in) loaf pan.
In the large bowl of an electric mixer, with the paddle attachment if possible, beat the butter until smooth, 45 seconds. On medium speed, add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally. Add the peanut butter and beat until fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Still on medium speed, add the eggs gradually, beating well after each addition.
Now, on low speed, add the flour in two additions, mixing well until combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Place the loaf pan on a baking sheet and bake for about 1 hour, or until risen and golden and a skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool in the pan, over a wire rack for 10 minutes, then carefully unmold onto a wire rack and cool completely.
Make the topping: in a small heavy saucepan, melt the butter with the sugar over low heat. Add the cream and coconut and stir until blended. Remove from the heat and spread over the cake. Sprinkle with the extra coconut shreds.

Serves 12 – I made ¾ of the cake recipe above and used a 20x9cm loaf pan; I made the entire topping recipe, though.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Mini rhubarb pavlovas

Mini rhubarb pavlovas / Mini pavlovas de ruibarbo

I told you once how much I adore “True Blood” – the show got me so addicted that after watching the 3 seasons I started reading Charlaine Harris’ books – in a very incessantly way, I might add. :)

Something similar happened when I watched some of Sophie Dahl’s videos on You Tube: her soft, lovely way around her beautiful kitchen and the delicious food got me hooked – I immediately bought her book.

The original recipe calls for cooking the rhubarb for only 5 minutes but to me it tasted raw and sort of astringent; I added more water and sugar and cooked it longer – the result was a wonderful, jammy compote.

Mini rhubarb pavlovas
slightly adapted from Miss Dahl's Voluptuous Delights

3 large egg whites
¾ cup + 1 ½ tablespoons (168g) caster (superfine) sugar
pinch of salt

Rhubarb compote:
225g rhubarb, chopped in rounds
1/3 cup (80ml) water
3 tablespoons caster (superfine) sugar – or more, to taste
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

To assemble the dessert:
½ cup (120ml) heavy cream, very cold
½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped with the back of the knife
1 tablespoon icing sugar
2-3 tablespoons lightly toasted sliced almonds

Start by making the meringues: preheat the oven to 140°C/285°F. Line a large baking sheet with baking paper. In a very clean bowl, with no traces of fat or water, whisk the egg whites in medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar, whisking well until the mixture is thick and glossy – rub a bit of the mixture between your fingers: you should no longer feel the sugar granules.
Drop 6 large blobs of meringue onto the prepared pan, 5cm (2in) apart. Bake for 1 hour, or until crisp and firm. Leave to cool inside the oven with the door ajar.
Now, the compote: place the rhubarb, water and sugar in a small heavy saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until a jammy consistency, 10-15 minutes. Add the vanilla, remove from heat and cool completely.
Whip the cream, vanilla seeds and sugar until soft peaks form. To assemble: place a meringue on a serving place, top with a generous spoonful of whipped cream and finish with another generous spoonful of rhubarb compote. Sprinkle with the toasted almonds and serve immediately.

Serves 6

Friday, March 18, 2011

Lemon financiers

Lemon financiers / Financiers de limão siciliano

I realized something a good while ago: I bake when I’m happy, and I bake when I’m sad.

If something bothers me, or if people let me down, I bake – or feel the urge to. If I am glad about something, or someone I like deserves a treat, I bake, too. :)

These financiers were baked on a very happy day: I was going to meet four lovely, gorgeous, fantastic women, who I am very lucky to call my friends. Therefore I baked something – and it was lemony, of course. ;)

Lemon financiers
adapted from Little Cafe Cakes

175g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup (100g) ground almonds
6 egg whites, lightly beaten
finely grated zest of 2 lemons
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 ½ cups (210g) icing sugar, sifted
½ cup (70g) all purpose flour, sifted

Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F. Butter well twelve 1/3-cup (80ml) capacity muffin pans.
Place the butter, ground almonds, egg whites, lemon zest and juice, icing sugar and flour in a large bowl and stir just until combined.
Equally divide the batter among prepared pans – they should be just over ½ full.
Bake for 25 minutes or until golden and risen and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.
Allow to stand in pans for 5 minutes then turn out onto a cooling rack.

Makes 12

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Cinnamon choc chip swirl bread

Cinnamon choc chip swirl bread / Pão de canela com gotas de chocolate

After cookies and cakes, Susan and I decided it was time to play around with yeast – we both wanted to bake from John Barricelli’s beautiful book and the cinnamon swirl bread caught our eyes (and our stomachs). :)

The bread is tender and delicious; the dough is easy to work with – not sticky! – but my idea of using chocolate chips instead of raisins turned out to be less than genius: I used dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids) and in the end it was a bit too bitter for the bread. :(

So ignore my version and make the bread with raisins, or raisin-free as Susan did – her loaf looks fabulous!

Cinnamon choc chip swirl bread
slightly adapted from The SoNo Baking Company Cookbook

¾ cup (180ml) warm whole milk
1 ¾ teaspoons active dried yeast
3 ¼ cups (455g) all purpose flour
½ cup + 1 ½ tablespoons (85g) whole wheat flour
3 tablespoons caster (superfine) sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
6 ½ tablespoons (91g) unsalted butter, cold, chopped
½ cup + 2 tablespoons water
2/3 cup dark chocolate chips (or use raisins as the original recipe called for)

2/3 cup (133g) caster (superfine) sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 large egg, beaten, for egg wash
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

Start by making the dough: in a small bowl, mix the warm milk and the yeast with a fork and set aside until foamy, about 5 minutes.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the all purpose flour, whole wheat flour, sugar, salt and butter on low speed until butter dissolves into the dry ingredients. Add the yeast mixture and the water and beat on low speed until well combine – the dough should be tacky but not sticky when touched; if the dough is too dry, add water by the tablespoon.
Turn the dough onto an unfloured surface and knead until dough pulls together in a ball and becomes less tacky. Knead for 7-9 minutes or until dough is smooth and springy. Pat the dough into a 23cm (9in) round, sprinkle with the chocolate chips (or raisins), and knead briefly to incorporate. Form a ball with the dough, place into a lightly oiled large bowl, turn so both sides are coated, cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place (at least 21°C/70°F) until increased in bulk by 1 ½ times and very soft, 1 to 1 ½ hours.
Deflate the dough: using a plastic pastry scraper, turn the top of the dough down and the bottom up. Turn the dough so that the smooth side faces in. cover with plastic wrap again and let rise in a warm place until increased in bulk by 1 ½ times, about 1 hour.
Make the filling: in a small bowl, mix the sugar and cinnamon together. Measure out 1/3 cup of the mixture and reserve it separately.
Turn the dough onto an unfloured surface, gently stretch it to make a 15x35cm (6x14in) rectangle, then brush with the egg wash. Sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar mixture, allowing 2.5cm (1in) borders at top and bottom. Rolling from the top, roll the loaf as tightly as you can into a log. Gently press the seams together. Place the loaf seam side down in a buttered 21x11cm (8 ½ x4 ½ in) loaf pan.
Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise until increased in bulk by 1 ½ times, 30-45 minutes.
Set the oven rack in the middle position. Preheat the oven to 260°C/500°F.
Place the loaf on a baking sheet, put it in the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 190°C/375°F. bake, rotating about two-thirds of the way through the baking time, until the crust is evenly brown and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom (using oven mitts, carefully lift the bread from the pan and gently tap on the bottom with your knuckles), 40-45 minutes. Remove from the oven, unmold onto a wire rack and let cool completely.
Brush the cooled loaf with the melted butter and sprinkle with the reserved cinnamon sugar mixture. Place the loaf back on the wire rack and let stand until sugar coating dries, about 30 minutes.

Makes one loaf – I made the exact recipe above and yet got 2 loaves, using 20x9cm and 19x8cm pans

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Caramel nut tart with brandy cream + my new Twitter account

Caramel nut tart with brandy cream / Torta de caramelo e nuts com creme de conhaque

Reading "Nigella Kitchen" the other day I could totally relate to her comment on the choc chip bread pudding (the one I made a while ago): it might seem odd to use cream, eggs and chocolate to save a piece of old bread – some people would just throw it away, I guess – but I really get her idea there; I did the same with this tart – all this caramel and nuts and pastry just to use up some heavy cream that would go bad in a couple of days. :)
The tart was divine and it felt good making it. :)

On a different note, I had to delete my Twitter account - as much as I would like to tell you why, I cannot; I have created a new one: @TKitchen_blog - I hope I see you there!

Caramel nut tart with brandy cream / Torta de caramelo e nuts com creme de conhaque

Caramel nut tart with brandy cream
slightly adapted from the beautiful Sunday Suppers at Lucques

2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 large egg yolk
1 1/3 cups + 1 ½ tablespoons (202g) all purpose flour
3 ½ tablespoons (42g) caster (superfine) sugar
pinch of salt
½ cup (113g/1 stick) unsalted butter, cold and diced

1 ¾ cups whole nuts – I used pecans, almonds and cashew nuts
1 ½ teaspoons honey
1 ¼ cups (250g) caster sugar
½ cup (120ml) water
1/3 cup (80ml) heavy cream
pinch of salt

Brandy cream:
½ cup (120ml) heavy cream
2 teaspoons icing sugar
1 teaspoon brandy

Make the pastry: whisk the cream and yolk together in a small bowl. Using an electric mixer with the dough hook, combine flour, sugar, salt and butter until you have a coarse meal. Gradually add the cream and yolks. Mix until just combine – do not overwork the pastry. Transfer to a lightly floured surface and bring it together with your hands. Shape into a 2.5cm (1in) disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 10-15 minutes (depending on how soft the pastry is).
Working on a lightly floured piece of baking paper, cover the pastry with another piece of paper and then roll it into a 6mm (¼in) thick circle. Carefully transfer to a lightly buttered 25cm (10in) tart pan. Using your fingertips, press the pastry into the corners of the pan. Remove the excess pastry with a pairing knife, prick it all over with a fork and freeze for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F. Line the pastry with a buttered piece of foil, then fill the paper with dried beans/baking weights. Bake for 15 minutes or until set. Remove from the oven, remove beans/weights and paper, and bake for 10-15 minutes longer, or until crust is evenly golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool completely over a wire rack.
Start making the filling: spread the nuts on a baking sheet and lightly toast them in the oven, until golden – be careful as different types of nuts will toast in different times. Set aside and cool completely.
Transfer the nuts to a large bowl and add the honey. Set aside.
Place the sugar and water in a medium heavy saucepan. Cook the sugar over medium-high heat, swirling the pan – do not stir – until it becomes a deep brown caramel. Remove from heat and slowly whisk in the cream, stirring constantly – be careful as caramel may spit – until mixture is smooth. Allow to cool for 1 minute, and then pour over the nuts and mix well to combine. Mix in the salt, then pour filling over tart crust – do not overfill the crust. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Whip the cream, icing sugar and brandy together until soft peaks form. Serve with the tart – remove it from the fridge 20 minutes before serving.

Serves 8-10

Friday, March 11, 2011

Cinnamon panna cotta

Cinnamon panna cotta / Panna cotta de canela

Yes, I love panna cotta – actually, I think I could be considered a panna cotta addicted, if there’s such a thing. :)
The original recipe was for vanilla panna cotta, but let me tell you, without any modesty, that my cinnamon version was quite something – perfectly spiced, creamy, delicious.

If you think that my panna cotta addiction is a problem, don’t get me started on the favorite movies issue – guess who was watching “Slumdog Millionaire” for the third time last night? ;)

Cinnamon panna cotta / Panna cotta de canela

Cinnamon panna cotta
adapted from Bon Appetit Desserts

¼ cup (60ml) cold water
2 ½ teaspoons unflavored gelatin
3 cups (720ml) heavy cream
2/3 cup (133g) caster sugar
8 cinnamon sticks
freshly ground cinnamon, to serve

Combine cream and cinnamon sticks in a small saucepan. Bring just to a boil over medium heat, remove from heat, cover and let stand for 15 minutes.
Pour the water into a small bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over water, let stand until gelatin softens, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, add sugar to cream mixture and stir over medium heat until sugar is dissolved and mixture is piping hot. Remove from heat. Bring 2.5cm (1in) of water to a simmer. Place bowl with gelatin in simmering water. Stir until gelatin dissolves. Remove bowl from water. Add gelatin to cream mixture and stir until dissolved. Strain through a fine sieve into a measuring glass. Divide the liquid among eight ½-cup (120ml) capacity glasses. Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for 3 hours or until set.
Sprinkle with freshly ground cinnamon and serve.

Serves 8

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Chickpea, tomato, lemon and mint salad

Chickpea, tomato, lemon and mint salad / Salada de tomate, grão-de-bico, limão siciliano e hortelã

Another year, another Carnival ... and another salad – savory, this time – after tons of food and booze. :)

Again, mint is the refreshing agent around here – I never knew it would go so well with tomatoes. Just delicious.

Chickpea, tomato, lemon and mint salad
from The Commonsense Kitchen

1 tablespoon olive oil
½ red onion, diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 cups cooked chickpeas, well drained
2 cups diced ripe red tomatoes, seeds removed
juice and finely grated zest of ½ lemon
pinch of hot red pepper flakes
½ cup loosely packed mint leaves, coarsely chopped – set aside a few whole leaves for decoration
¼ cup coarsely chopped parsley
freshly ground black pepper
extra-virgin olive oil

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic with a little salt and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Add the chickpeas and cook until they are dry. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
Before serving, gently toss in the tomatoes, lemon zest and juice, pepper flakes, mint, parsley, and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and serve.

Serves 2-4

Monday, March 7, 2011

Chestnut pound cake

Chesnut pound cake

A very dear friend of mine got me a package of chestnut flour as a gift – yes, we’re the kind of people who love giving/getting food as gifts. :)

I have never seen that flour around here, and the minute she gave me the package she said: “make Alice Medrich’s chestnut pound cake as soon as you can”. I did as I was told – four times already, to be honest – and I’m forever in debt with my friend: this is one of the best cakes I have ever had. EVER.

Chestnut pound cake
from Pure Dessert

1 ¾ cup + 1 tablespoon (255g) all purpose flour
1 cup (126g/4½oz) chestnut flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
1 cup (226g/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups (400g) caster sugar
2/3 cup (160ml) buttermilk
1/3 cup (80ml) dark rum

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F; butter two 5-cup capacity loaf pans, line with baking paper and butter the paper as well.
Sift together three times the all purpose flour, chestnut flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together into a medium bowl. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs lightly with a fork.
In the large bowl of a mixer, beat butter until creamy. Add the sugar in a steady stream and beat until light and fluffy. Beating constantly, add the eggs gradually to the mixture.
Stop the mixer, add 1/3 of the flour mixture, beat on low speed until flour is absorbed. Stop the mixer; add half the buttermilk and half of the rum. Repeat with half of the flour mixture, then all the buttermilk and rum. Scrape the sides of the bowl, add the remaining flour, beat until absorbed. Scrape batter to pan and bake until risen and golden and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean (50-55 minutes).
Remove from oven, set over a wire rack and cool in the pan for 20 minutes. Carefully unmold and let cool completely over the rack.
Can be frozen for up to 3 months (wrapped airtight).

Serves 16

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Buttered rum meltaways

Buttered rum meltaways / Amanteigados de rum

One of my readers – hi, Angelica! – left me a comment about the amount of recipes calling for rum around here – there’s another one today!
I don’t like rum for drinking, but I certainly love baking with it – and if you try these cookies I am sure you will, too. :)

I’ve slightly adapted the recipe from Lizzie, who got it from a book I’ve been meaning to buy.

Buttered rum meltaways
from Martha Stewart's Cookies

1 ¾ cups + 2 tablespoons (265g) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons corn starch
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup (170g) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup (140g) confectioners' sugar, sifted*
¼ cup (60ml) dark rum
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Whisk flour, cornstarch, spices, and salt in a bowl. Put butter and 2/3 cup (93g) of the confectioners’ sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until creamy. Mix in rum and vanilla. Reduce speed to low, and gradually mix in flour mixture.
Divide dough in half. Place each on a piece of parchment paper; shape dough into logs. Fold parchment over dough; using a ruler, roll and press into a 3cm (1 ¼in) log – like Martha does here. Wrap in parchment. Chill in freezer 30 minutes (up to 1 month).
Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F; line two large baking sheets with baking paper.
Unwrap logs. Cut into 6mm (¼in) thick rounds; space 2.5cm (1in) apart onto prepared sheets. Bake until just golden, about 15 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks; let cool 10 minutes. Place remaining sugar in a bowl and gently toss warm cookies in it.
Store cookies in airtight containers at room temperature for up to 4 days.

Makes about 4 dozen – I halved the recipe and got exact 2 dozen cookies

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Fresh lemon gelatin + a great lemonade poster boy

Fresh lemon gelatin / Gelatina de limão siciliano

I am completely biased when it comes to lemon/lime things – and you all know that – but these gelatins are so delicious I beg you to try them!
It’s like eating solid lemonade – and if I can’t convince you of how good lemonade can be Mr. Ford is perfect for the job. ;)

Fresh lemon gelatin
from Luscious Lemon Desserts

3 ¼ cups (780ml) water
1 cup (200g) caster (superfine) sugar
¼ cup finely grated lemon zest
3 tablespoons plain, unflavored gelatin
1 ¼ cups (300ml) fresh lemon juice

Have ready six 1-cup (240ml) capacity glasses or ramekins.
Combine 2 ½ cups (600ml) of the water, the sugar and the zest into a medium saucepan and bring to the boil over medium-high heat. Remove from the heat, cover and let stand for 15 minutes.
Pour the remaining ¾ cup (180ml) cup of the water into a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over the water. Let stand until softened. Place the bowl in larger bowl of hot water and stir until the gelatin has dissolved and the liquid is clear.
Add the gelatin mixture to the saucepan and stir until dissolved. Stir in the lemon juice.
Pour the mixture through a strainer into the glasses/ramekins and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate, covered, for at least 3 hours or up to 5 days.

Serves 6

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Plum financiers

Plum financiers / Financiers de ameixa

My financiers did not look exactly like RLB’s, but they made me feel really proud: layering all those plum slices was not a quick thing, let me tell you that.

I wish they looked more like flowers, therefore more beautiful, but I’ll be nice to myself this time: the three weeks from hell at work are over and I’ve survived. Do not know how, but I did. I deserve some kindness, even if it comes from myself. :)

Plum financiers
from Rose's Heavenly Cakes

¾ cup + 1 tablespoon (113g) icing sugar
1/3 cup + ½ tablespoon (45g) cake flour*
pinch of salt
½ cup (50g) almond meal (finely ground almonds)
4 large egg whites (120g)
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup (1 stick/113g) unsalted butter, melted and still warm
3-4 plums

In a large bowl, sift together the icing sugar, flour and salt. Mix in the almond meal. Add the egg whites and vanilla and mix until smooth. Mix in the butter. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate the batter for at least 6 hours.
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F; generously butter six 9.7cm (3 7/8in) tartlet pans.
Divide the batter among the prepared pans and set aside at room temperature while you prepare the plums.
Cut each plum in half and remove the pits. Place each half on a cutting board, cut side down, and slice the plums lengthwise into very thin slices, setting each slice on a paper towel – if the plums are very firm, blanch the slices used for the middle row so they become flexible enough to be curved: dip them in boiling water for a few seconds then in ice water.
Starting near the outer edge of the tartlet but not overlapping the edge of the mold, overlap plum slices around the perimeter to resemble a rose. Angle the slices so that the bottom edges are inserted slightly into the batter and the top edges are slightly raised. Start with the larger slices and save the smaller ones for the inner row.
Place the tartlet pans on a large baking sheet, making sure they’re at least 5cm (2in) apart. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the outside edges are golden brown. The filling will have puffed up to the top of the mold between the plum slices and it will bounce if pressed lightly with your fingers. Let cool completely in the tartlet pans on a wire rack. Carefully unmold.

The financiers will keep in an airtight container for up to 3 days at room temperature or 5 days refrigerated.

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

Makes 6 – I used 9cm tartlet pans and got 7 financiers

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