Posts Tagged ‘chocolate’

Peanut butter cups, anyone?

May 29, 2010

I finally perfected this recipe and had to share. If you’re addicted to Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (like me), you will probably greet this post with a mixture of greedy delight and concern—because having not only a large quantity but a better quality version of these on hand is bound to be dangerous!

This recipe is adapted from Nigella Lawson’s Peanut Butter Squares in her fantastic book, How to be a Domestic Goddess. I love Nigella, I love her recipes, and I love her eccentric turn of phrase, but in my opinion she got this one wrong. The original version was just too sweet, and any peanut-butter-and-chocolate aficionado will tell you that the true beauty of this marriage lies in the pairing of sweet with salty.

For those of you with access to the original recipe, the main changes I’ve made are to reduce the amount of sugar in the peanut-butter base, and to increase the peanut-butter to chocolate ratio.

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Slice

75g dark muscovado sugar (subsitute brown sugar, but muscovado is really what you want)

150g icing sugar, sifted

75g unsalted butter

300g peanut butter (smooth and crunchy are both fine, depends how you want the texture of the slice)

flour, to bind (I used rice flour to make this gluten-free, how much you need will depend on what sort of flour you use and how oily your pb is)

200g milk chocolate

100g dark chocolate

50g unsalted butter, extra

Put the muscovado sugar, icing sugar and peanut butter in a food processor and whiz briefly until combined (if you don’t have a food processor first think seriously about buying one as they are the most useful kitchen appliance ever, then stir the ingredients together in a bowl). Melt the butter and whiz into the peanut butter mixture. Add the flour between pulses, a sprinkle at a time, or until the mixture binds together and is no longer wet. Don’t worry if you still have small lumps of muscovado sugar, it’s nicer that way. Press this mixture into a baking tray lined with baking paper (choose the size of your tray based on how thick you want the slice to be).

To make the topping, melt the chocolates and butter together until smooth. An aside about chocolate choices: I’ve recently been buying chocolate chips as an express chocolate cooking option, since they are already in nice small bits. However for this recipe I wouldn’t recommend the sort that say ‘holds shape once baked’ as your chocolate mixture will be a bit dry and not easily spreadable. Go instead for ‘chocolate melts’ (or if you have time and inclination, buy a block and break it up).

Let the chocolate cool a little and then spread over the base. Put the tin in the fridge to set. Serve at room temperature, cut into squares. Attempt not to eat the lot in one go.

Here is all that is left of mine. Not so pretty, but damn tasty!

I’d like to point out that I didn’t eat it all by myself, I made this to take into work for morning tea. And there are at least two dozen people who can corroborate this story.

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Easter

April 6, 2010

I hope you had a lovely weekend too :)

A day at the markets

March 28, 2010

The handmade markets were on again today. I love these markets. Though they may be more expensive than others, though their organisation may lack a little, they are currently the best place to see new and inspiring designers and products in Canberra. Everytime we go (they’re only on four times a year), I fall in love with so many products, concepts, and lovely people. They make me really, really wish I was more creative!

Today Libby and I treated ourselves to some adorable and clever cupcakes. Mine was chocolate with a sweet little sheep on top:

and Libby’s was coffee flavoured, made in a little paper coffee cup and done up like a cappuccino.

The markets were at a new venue today and it was terribly, terribly busy. In shuffling along behind the masses of people (and climbing around the overabundance of strollers) our little group got separated, so it wasn’t exactly the group outing we’d envisaged. But I think everyone found some beautiful things, and we did manage to meet up for lunch.

Of course I came home with a few nice things, and plans to make more nice things for myself—if I ever get time!

Cooking up a storm

December 12, 2009

It’s been rather a gourmet week this week. Here are some of the tasty things we made.

Almond bread with lots of orange and lemon zest

Buttermilk fried chicken (YUM!) with Christmas salad and Moroccan carrot salad

and earthquake biscuits (dense chocolate biscuits rolled in icing sugar).

Just about all these recipes are from delicious. magazine. If you like cooking, I can’t recommend anything better than a subscription.

Best chocolate discovery ever

September 8, 2009

cognac chocolate

I discovered this Cognac-filled chocolate at our local IGA on Sunday. It is THE BOMB. Sooooo good. I mean, what’s not to love? Cognac. Swiss Chocolate.

Best. Chocolate. Ever.

Domestic divinity

July 16, 2009

Yesterday afternoon and evening were rather creative and domestic as my evenings go—especially for a weekday. There’s something about creative days that makes me happy. I’ve always wished I was more creative. And pottering around in the kitchen is good for the soul, I am convinced.

Libby and I were rostered on to bring some home-baked treats to work for morning tea today, so that was the spur for all this domesticity. We decided on a theme of ‘favourites from an Australian childhood’. This had twofold benefits: all the Aussies (young and old) would get a trip down memory lane, and everyone who didn’t grow up in Australia (at least half the people at work didn’t) would get to try something new and share in the communal nostalgia.

We made chocolate crackles, honey joys, and fairy bread. Yum!

chocolate crackles and honey joys

It’s possible I ate far too much fairy bread this morning. Possible, but sources can’t confirm.

I also managed to get some knitting done, on something that is ultra-cute but unfortunately secret. More news on that later.

The most exciting and creative project of the day was the peculiar inside-out rolls I made after Libby went home. I really have to think of a better name for them, so I’d better describe them. I’ve been thinking about making this sort of bread for a while—basically it’s a roll which has filling baked inside it. This way you don’t have to make a sandwich in the morning, you just grab one of these and off you go. It came about because I was trying to think of things that are convenient for Phil to take to work. He travels around a lot during the day and often doesn’t have microwave or fridge access, and some things are liable to get squashed in his bag. My immediate thought was pasties, but the unhealthiness of pastry turned me off a bit. I thought, what if I replaced the pastry with bread? And here we are.

These have a ham, cheese and tomato based filling, but I imagine you could fill these with anything you like, depending on if you want to eat them at room temperature or warmed up. I imagine leftover stews, curries and the like would work well, but I think fresh ingredients would also shine here. I’m thinking of trying pumpkin and feta ones, maybe with a bit of spinach. Or roast capsicum with onion and lemon zest. Use your imagination!

Peculiar Inside-Out Roll Things

1 quantity of Jamie’s basic bread dough (I used half bread flour, a quarter wholemeal plain flour, and a quarter white plain flour, but use what you like)

about 200g ham, sliced

grated cheddar

2 tomatoes, chopped

black pepper

fresh continental parsley, chopped (or other herbs, I used chives when I ran out of parsley).

Follow the recipe for bread dough up to the end of Step 4. While it is rising, mix together your filling ingredients (I basically used the quantities that suited my taste for this filling, but if you like more cheese and less ham or whatever, adjust as you see fit).

At Step 5, after you knock back the dough, divide it into 8 pieces. Press and pull each of these pieces into a circle about 1cm thick; it should be about 18-20cm in diameter. Place a mound of filling in the middle (I used about 3-4 tablespoons’ worth), then fold the dough up and over the filling, squashing it all together so none can escape.

peculiar1peculiar2

Put the rolls sealed-side down on a baking tray, cover with a clean tea-towel and allow to rise as Jamie suggests.

Once they have risen, cook your rolls in a 220°C oven for around 20 minutes, or until they sound hollow when tapped and are nicely brown.

peculiar3

Leave them to cool for as long as you can stand it, then dig in!

peculiar4

Boston from on high

June 12, 2009

On Tuesday Boston threw some of its apparently typical Spring weather at us, suddenly becoming chilly and grey. Despite the weather we headed into the centre of the city so Eduard could show me some of downtown Boston.

The first place we stopped was the Boston Common, one of the large parks within the city, and part of the Emerald Necklace. The frog pond was closed but I was delighted with the frogs nonetheless

frogs

and also with how beautiful and green everything was.

lake

More of those wonderful big trees!

Spring was definitely in the air, we saw a tiny duckling being shepherded (duckherded?) by its parents

duckling

and some nesting swans.

swans

After leaving the common we strolled down Commonwealth Avenue which was again beautiful, clearly the nicer part of town. Instead of the wonderfully rustic wooden houses of Cambridge, this area had stylish brick townhouses, just like you see in the movies.

stylish

After a quick lunch (and some amazing chocolates from Godiva’s) we went up the Prudential tower to the Skywalk Observatory, where you can see the whole of Boston spread out before you. An audio tour with colourful local ‘characters’ provided some interesting information about the history and landscape of the city, but the view itself was the real star.

boston

That square of green to the left of the big glass building is the Boston Common we walked through earlier. It was so cool to see everything spread out below you, and to see the differences between different areas—the straight streets and neat brick houses of Back Bay, the wooden houses of Cambridge almost hidden by their trees, and the river winding past Harvard, MIT, and many historical sites, such as the Old North Church (said to have a role in the beginnings of the American Revolution).

On Tuesday night Eduard called on some more of his fantastic local knowledge, taking me to a cute little French-Cambodian restaurant called the Elephant Walk. Again I managed not to take any photos, but the combination of new and different (and very tasty) food and good conversation was apparently too distracting.

On Wednesday Eduard had to stop past the office, which gave me the chance to see Harvard-Smithsonian for real. Like most old observatories, it still has telescope domes, remnant of the days before the city engulfed the area and light pollution made observing impossible.

dome

You can enjoy a view across Cambridge to the city from the roof of one of the buildings—it seems like a nice place to work.

eduard
On the way back home we stopped at Formaggio’s, the most amazing deli and gourmet food store I have ever been in. Ever. And I make a habit of going to these places. As it was my last day I couldn’t buy anywhere near as much as I would have liked, but I did manage a small haul that was consumable within the day.

tasty
That’s a gourmet sandwich, a pomegranite-flavoured softdrink, a packet of ginger cookies, a punnet of raspberries, and one turkish lavender-scented caramel. I did share the cookies, but the rest was no trouble for just me. Especially the raspberries. I love raspberries and live for when they’re in season. These ones are bigger than the sort we usually get in Australia, and while they weren’t yet as sweet as they probably will be in a month’s time, they were still delicious. And at four dollars a punnet, even with the exchange rate they were cheaper than they ever are in Australia. Bliss! I was surprised how easy it was to eat a whole punnet in such a short time, but they were half gone before we even got home (as you can see from the picture). And of course making up fun ways to eat the rest wasn’t too hard.

raspberries!

However the cutest purchase of the day was definitely the honey Eduard bought—check out the ingredients list:

honey
awwwwww. :)

All too soon after that it was time to pack up, travel to the airport and say goodbye. Boston has been great, and catching up with a good friend I haven’t seen in almost a year has been wonderful. One thing is bugging me though. I was delighted to see not only my first, but many (absurdly cute) squirrels in Boston—and I didn’t get a photo of any of them!