Friday, March 29, 2013

Fallen souffle chocolate egg nest

I think it’s highly possible that every time I am armed with chocolate and a whisk, my GP dies a little on the inside.  But its Easter after all and it’s one of the last chances we’ve got to legitimately enjoy a chocolate assault on all the senses so this is another take-no-prisoners chocolate delight for those among us who love all things round and cacao driven. And besides, I feel an obligation these days to help sustain my GP’s employment.
If Cadbury crème eggs were the leader of my Easter pack, the birds egg with the delicate shell would be its second in command. The crunch, the sweetness, and the scattered pastel prettiness of it’s exterior are elements I’ll never tire of. This is more a chocolate love nest than an egg nest – a luscious, light and airy like mousse meets soufflé. It falls a little as it cools but that is exactly what we want – creating a perfect little landing pad for your bevvy of Easter eggs.
Make sure you allow the cake to cool sufficiently before pressing the eggs into the surface. Over eager moves mean the Easter eggs can melt and make a mess of your hands and your pudding.

Serves 8-10

340g good quality dark chocolate (70%)
170g unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
Pinch of salt
6 large eggs, separated
2/3 cup caster sugar plus 1 tbsp
Icing sugar to dust
220g Red Tulip ‘birds’ eggs

Preheat oven to 175C.  Grease and line a 22cm springform pan.
Melt the chocolate and butter in a large heatproof bowl placed over a saucepan of barely simmering water, stirring until completely smooth. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for at least five minutes.
Whisk together the yolks, vanilla, and 1/3 cup caster sugar then whisk into the chocolate mixture. Set aside to cool completely.
Whisk the eggwhites with a pinch of salt until they just hold soft peaks then gradually add the remaining sugar. Beat on medium high until whites are glossy and just hold stiff peaks. Whisk about 1/3 of the whites into the chocolate, then using a spatula, gently fold in remaining whites until combined. Gently pour into the prepared pan.
Bake for 30 minutes or until the top just feels dry and starts to crack. A skewer inserted in the centre should come out slightly sticky but not completely wet. Let the cake cool completely in the pan – it will fall as it cools. Remove ring from pan and dust the top generously with icing sugar. Gently press the birds eggs into the top of the cake until just submerged and standing upright. Best served the day it is made.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Chocolate swirl bread with caramel jam and fresh raspberries

So it seems my gustatory assault on all things hedonistic and chocolate for Easter continues. Enter the chocolate swirl bread with caramel jam and fresh raspberries. I'm not sure this dish is going to have the crazy 3000 shares on Facebook like last week's Cadbury Creme Egg Chocolate Pudding - Wowzers I had no idea there were so many like minded addicts walking among us. 

I promise next week to include something other than dessert - all things going to plan I hope to put up a nice Good Friday lunch spread or at least something that covers all the key food groups to take you into the Easter break.

The loaf recipe is based on a crumpet recipe. So much so that you could opt for making crumpets should you feel the desire come Easter Sunday morning. The addition of bicarbonate soda means no kneading and it ensures a light and lovely texture – basically it’s a low maintenance loaf and that’s how I like it. It also means the bread isn’t overly sweet, despite the addition of chocolate, allowing the tastes of the caramel jam and beautiful raspberries to really shine through. You can make the loaf the day before and toast lightly before serving.

It’s Easter brunch perfection.

800ml milk
40g butter
10g caster sugar
7g dried yeast ( 1 sachet)
500g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate soda
175g dark chocolate (70%) cut into small chunks

To serve
6- 8 tablespoons good quality caramel con leche
125g punnet fresh raspberries

Heat the milk and butter in a saucepan over a low heat until the butter melts, remove from heat and set aside until lukewarm. Combine the sugar and yeast in a small bowl, add 200ml milk mixture, stir to dissolve then stand in a warm place until foamy (4-5 minutes).
Combine the flour and a pinch of salt in a large bowl, make a well in the centre and add yeast mixture, stirring to incorporate a little flour. Add the remaining milk mixture and the chocolate chips and stir until smooth and combined, the chocolate may melt a little, don’t worry this just adds to the marbled effect of the bread. Cover with plastic wrap and stand in a warm place until very foamy (1-2 hours). Dissolve the bicarbonate of soda in 50ml warm water, add to batter and beat gently to combine. Cover and set aside until bubbles appear on the surface. (25-30 minutes). Grease and line a loaf tin and preheat the oven to 175C.
Pour the batter into the loaf tin and bake for 45 minutes or until lightly golden on top and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Allow to cool completely in the tin before turning out to slice.
To serve, slice the loaf and gently toast the slices until the exterior is just crisp. Smear the base of one piece with caramel. Top with raspberries and drizzle over caramel to taste. Sandwich with another piece of chocolate bread and drizzle over additional caramel if desired. Repeat with remaining bread, caramel and raspberries.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Cadbury Creme Egg Self-Saucing Chocolate Pudding

Am I disgusting. I’m entirely sure of it. But my love of the Cadbury cream egg knows no limits. They only come out for a few brief and wonderful months a year and Easter (in my mind) seems to be an entirely justifiable period of gluttony, one involving an almost pure subsistence on chocolate. There's something about Easter eggs that has people craving a taste of childhood and I am no different, becoming my own crack team of eggsperts, blindly unwrapping bits of foil and testing with glee. This dessert is a pure celebration of the Cadbury cream egg however if supermarket aisle confectionery is not for you, replace with luscious chunks of dark chocolate and some pistachios for an equally decadent “more high brow” dessert.

You can also replace the milk with soy milk or almond milk for a nuttier flavour – just be careful with almond milks, some of the sugar contents can make this dessert far too sweet.

1 cup plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ cup cocoa powder
¼ cup almond meal
½ cup each brown sugar, caster sugar
75g butter, melted
1 large egg
420ml full cream milk
Cadbury cream eggs (mixture of small and large), placed in the freezer for at least 4 hours to harden (I used 1 x 135g pack mini eggs and 3 large eggs)

To serve
Icing sugar to dust
Ice cream (optional)

Preheat the oven to 175C. Sift the flour, baking powder, a pinch of salt and half the cocoa powder into a large bowl. Add the almond meal and half the sugars and stir to combine.
Combine the melted butter, egg and 125ml of milk in a bowl and whisk lightly with a fork. Whisk into the flour mixture until smooth and combined. Spoon the mixture into a buttered 2-litre baking dish, smoothing the top. Gently push the Cadbury cream eggs into the batter until just covered and set aside.
Combine the remaining sugar and cocoa powder in a bowl and scatter over the top of the pudding.
Gently pour the remaining milk over the top of the pudding. Bake for about 25- 30 minutes or until the centre springs back when pressed.
Dust with icing sugar and serve warm. And with ice cream if obscenely rich is how you roll.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

A new way to do burger night

Spiced chickpea burgers with pickled beets, labne and honey

It might not be the sexiest food item on the shelf, but greatness lurks beneath each and every can of humble chickpeas. This delight can be turned into so many beautiful things from soups to stews to super tasty burgers just like this one. This is a burger capable of silencing even those who believe that meat and only meat belongs on a bun. It is also a whole lot cheaper and leaner, which helps momentarily, until you are halfway through your second. 
It’s a new way to do burger night.

If you don’t have time for fresh beets, feel free to use tinned, I’ve tried both and they work well either way.
Patties can be made ahead and stored covered in the fridge for two days.

Serves 4 - 6

600g cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
½ cup cooked cous cous
1 small brown onion, peeled and finely chopped
1½ tsp each cumin, ground coriander, garam masala
2 tsp ginger, grated
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp each caraway seeds, fennel seeds
2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
1 tbsp olive oil
¼ cup fresh marjoram, chopped                
¼ cup fresh flat leaf parsley
2 tbsp olive oil
Beetroot Pickle
2 fresh beetroot, roasted, peeled, thinly sliced
30ml olive oil
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
½ tsp caster sugar
2 tbsp marjoram leaves
2 tsp fennel seeds, toasted

To serve
6 burger buns
4 tbsp labne
3 tsp honey

Preheat oven to 150C.
Combine all ingredients for the burgers in a bowl and stir to combine. Season generously with salt and pepper. Place a fry pan over medium heat and cook the chickpea mixture until fragrant. Remove from the heat and place in a blender and blitz until just smooth. Scoop two tablespoons of mixture per burger and shape into patties. Repeat with the remaining mixture. Place patties on a baking tray and place in the oven to keep warm until serving.
Add the beetroot, olive oil, red wine vinegar, sugar, marjoram and fennel seeds to a bowl and toss to combine.
Line the base of each burger bun with lettuce. Top with a chickpea pattie, beetroot pickle and a dollop of labne. Drizzle over a little honey and season with salt and pepper. Repeat with remaining patties and burger buns. Serve warm.

Friday, March 1, 2013

I'm back

I am so sorry for the delay in posting. I've been away in Thailand on a cooking intensive and only just back on my feet thanks to some kind of post trip stomach bug. I learnt more than 120 dishes in 12 days (so tired) and I can't wait to share some of the recipes with you. For now, here is a sneak peak of a few of the dishes. I'll be posting more in a few days.