Espresso brownies

I have just finished my (paid) work and am bracing for school home time. It’s been a mixed bag of a week which saw me in tears last night at the thought of making dinner AGAIN (#everyfuckingnight, I swear to God people, every.fucking.night). Sure, there may have been some hormones involved but let’s just put that day to bed.

These are on the front cover of Food52’s baking book from which I want to bake every single recipe. Hey, maybe that’s a challenge I can set myself? And are so very good.

You need a big baking pan – 33 x 45cm, 13 x 18 inch – so get onto that. You could of course just split the mixture between two smaller ones but as to what size they’d be don’t ask me because, well, numeral.

It makes a lot – 24 large brownies, 36 smaller ones. It uses eight eggs. EIGHT EGGS! When I started cooking as a kid and then with a fair amount of gusto as a teenager I’d show mum a recipe and without fail there’d be an exclamation about how many eggs were in it. Were eggs expensive back then? Was there some sort of price collusion in the 80s I was unaware of? Anyway, it uses eight eggs.

Now, even though in the recipe’s intro it talks about how this is the 35th version of  these brownies the recipe creator June Jacobs has created, I still didn’t follow it exactly. Just follow it exactly OK?

Espresso brownies.
Espresso brownies.

Espresso brownies
 
Rich, fudgey brownies with icing on top, as if that's even allowed.
Author:
Ingredients
Brownies
  • 3 cups lightly packed dark brown sugar
  • 225g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 8 eggs (EIGHT eggs!)
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 1½ cups plain flour
  • ⅔ cup cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp instant coffee powder (use a strong espresso kind)
  • 2 cups toasted nuts (I left these out, totally fine without it)
  • 2 cups choc chips
Icing
  • 1½ cups caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp instant espresso powder
  • ¼ cup cognac (I KNOW! Fancy like)
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 6 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup choc chips
Instructions
For the brownies
  1. Preheat the oven to 175C and butter the sheet pan
  2. In a mixer beat the butter and sugar together but you don't want it all fluffy - these are brownies remember, not a cake, you don't need a heap of air in the mix
  3. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping as you go
  4. Then add the vanilla and salt
  5. Mix the flour with the coffee and cocoa powder and nuts
  6. Add to the butter mixture
  7. Pour the batter into the pan and spread it out THEN sprinkle over the choc chips
  8. Swirl the choc chips in a bit (I ignored this and added them with the flour and all the choc chips sunk to the bottom, so yeah, maybe the recipe is right)
  9. Bake for 23½ minutes (don't you love the precision! I did mine for a bit longer because I didn't have the right sized tin and was winging it)
For the icing
  1. Combine everything except the chocolate in a saucepan and stir fairly constantly until it comes to the boil
  2. Let it boil for a a minute or two.
  3. Take off the heat, add the chocolate and stir until smooth
  4. Pour over the cooled brownies
  5. Drown your troubles.

 

Wholemeal apple and cinnamon muffins

School’s back today. We’re on the homestretch to Christmas people. We’re in for a scorching couple of days which somehow seems appropriate.

But let’s take a moment to talk about lunchboxes. There are parts of the world where you don’t need to pack your kids a lunch. CAN YOU IMAGINE!? I hate it with the heat of a thousand suns.

The worst part is trying to not become pray to food brand marketing but once you say no to the snack packs, back off to the muesli bars and no way jose to anything with sugar you’re basically sending your kids to school with twigs and bark.

I know more virtuous people than I who make up batches of things on the weekend, freeze them then pop them in lunchboxes but whenever I’ve done that the kids never eat it. WHAT IS WITH THAT?

Anyway, I made this Smitten Kitchen recipe the other day and three of the four of them ate them. Into high rotation they go!

Go well my friends, Term 4 awaits!

Wholemeal apple and cinnamon muffins.
Wholemeal apple and cinnamon muffins.
Wholemeal apple and cinnamon muffins
 
Fantastic muffins full of apple and cinnamon
Author:
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • 1 cup wholemeal flour
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 115g butter
  • ½ cup caster sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 granny smith apples, peeled, cored and diced
  • ¼ cup brown sugar - extra, for topping
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 220C and line a 12 cup muffin tray
  2. Mix all the dry ingredients together
  3. Cream the butter and the sugar
  4. Add the egg
  5. Add the buttermilk - it will probably curdle so don't fret
  6. Fold in the dry ingredients and then the apple until it's all just combined (it's a chunky batter)
  7. Put big heaping spoonfuls into the twelve muffin cups
  8. Sprinkle the extra brown sugar over the top
  9. Bake for 10 minutes then turn the heat down to 200C for a further 10 minutes
  10. Cool in the tin for 5 minutes or so and then turn out onto a cooling rack.
The inner workings. They have wholemeal flour in them, they're practically a health food.
The inner workings. They have wholemeal flour in them, they’re practically a health food.

Mocha Meringue Cake

A divine mocha mousse sandwiched between two meringue discs.

Ok, something fancy for a change.

It’s been so invigorating having my cooking mojo back but let’s face it, cooking dinners tends to focus on the functional in this house and I just had a hankering to make something requiring a bit of technical skill and that was a little bit fancy.

I was rearranging my cookbook bookshelf and the June July copy of Donna Hay fell out with this on the cover. I basically had to make it immediately. I swapped out the white chocolate for milk because it was all I had and the mousse probably didn’t set as well as it should have because I didn’t have enough whipped cream. I also used almond meal instead of hazelnut meal because it was what i had in the cupboard. But guess what, it was BLOODY DELICIOUS.

It’s not technically challenging, but there are steps and waiting/cooling times so go in with that knowledge.

Mocha meringue cake
Mocha meringue cake

Mocha Meringue Cake
 
Total show pony dessert
Author:
Serves: 8-10 slices
Ingredients
The meringue
  • 2 tsp strong instant coffee granules
  • ½ tsp boiling water
  • 1 tblsp cornflour
  • 1 cup almond meal (any nut meal will work a treat)
  • 4 eggwhites
  • 1½ cups icing sugar
The mousse
  • ½ cup pouring cream
  • ¼ cup strong instant coffee granules (yes, ¼ cup)
  • 400g milk chocolate (original recipe is 300g white choc, 100g dark choc)
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1½ cups thickened cream, whipped
Instructions
For the meringue
  1. Preheat the oven to 120C and draw 2 x 20cm circles on baking paper
  2. Dissolve the coffee in the water
  3. Combine the cornflour with the almond meal
  4. Whisk the egg whites in an electric mixer until stiff peaks form
  5. Add the sugar in spoonfuls and beat until thick and glossy
  6. Scrape down the sides then add the almond meal mix and whisk until just combined
  7. Turn the baking paper upside-down (so the pencil doesn't transfer onto the meringue) and place on two baking trays
  8. Spoon the meringue onto the two circles and smooth with a pallet knife or spatula
  9. Bake for 1hr, then turn off the oven and leave in there for 2 hours or overnight
For the mousse
  1. Put the ½ cup of cream and the coffee in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water
  2. Once the coffee starts dissolving add the chocolate and stir every now and then until it's all melted and smooth. Set aside to cool slightly (I basically waited until it was blood warm)
  3. Whisk the eggwhites until soft peaks
  4. Mix the egg yolks into the chocolate then fold through the eggwhites
  5. Refrigerate for 15 minutes (or in my case a few hours because I made it all out of order!)
To assemble
  1. Grease and line a 24cm springform tin
  2. Place one of the meringue discs into the bottom of the cake pan, top with mousse and then the remaining meringue
  3. Refrigerate for 3-4 hours
  4. Dust with icing sugar

 

Pecan Shortbread (pecan puffs)

A pecan shortbread recipe which just dissolves on your tongue.

Let it be known the pecan is the king of nuts. I won’t hear any battle cries from cashews or pistachios, the pecan has it. This recipe is based on an almond kilfi recipe but I had pecans and needed them in my guts in a baked form.

I do this all in the food processor which I view as a good thing because I’ll often avoid the processor if it’s for just one step of a recipe because it’s a bastard to wash up. See also: lazy.

Don’t over mix it, just until it all comes together. And don’t make them too big – this recipe should make 60, yes SIXTY, little crescents. Basically work with a little ball of dough about as big as your thumb to the first knuckle. If you make them too big they clag in your mouth rather than just dissolving on your tongue.

Pecan shortbread
A pecan shortbread recipe which just dissolves on your tongue

 

Pecan Shortbread (pecan puffs)
 
Delightful little shortbreads that just dissolve on your tongue
Author:
Ingredients
  • 125g pecans
  • 250g butter
  • 350g (2⅓ cups) plain flour
  • 1 tblsp caster sugar
  • 1 cup (or so) icing sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 160C and have two baking trays ready to go
  2. Blitz the pecans in a food processor
  3. Add all the other ingredients except the icing sugar and blitz until it all comes together
  4. Roll little half-thumb sized balls of dough into a little log then press in the middle to make into a crescent. Don't be precious about this, mine always end up looking more like little logs than crescents
  5. Place on baking trays, they don't spread so you can put them quite close to each other
  6. Bake for 30-40 minutes until they're light brown
  7. When cool roll in the icing sugar (to be honest I never measure the icing sugar)
  8. Store in a container and pour over a bit more icing sugar.
  9. Try not to eat 10 at a time.

 

Lamingtons

A fail safe and delicious recipe for the Australian icon, the lamington.

Sponge, chocolate, coconut. What is not to love?
Sponge, chocolate, coconut. What is not to love?

There was a time in high school we did a lamington drive to raise money for some charity. The organisation we were helping has long left my head but the memory of buying six dozen lamingtons under false names and eating them all myself has not. (See also: bulimia.)

I have banned myself from buying the Woolworths lamington fingers purely because I KNOW I could eat the entire packet. In one sitting. I never have, but the knowledge that I COULD is enough.

This recipe comes from my kitchen bible – Allan Campion & Michele Curtis’s In The Kitchen. I refer to this cookbook more than any other and every single thing I’ve made from it has always worked and been delicious. I’m not sure it’s still in print but if you find a copy grab it.

This is fiddly and messy but totally worth it.

006

Lamingtons
 
An iconic Australian cake with sponge rolled in chocolate and coconut.
Author:
Ingredients
For the cake
  • 4 eggs
  • ½ cup caster sugar
  • ⅔ cup plain flour
For the icing
  • 3 cups icing sugar
  • ½ cup cocoa
  • ¾ cup water
  • 4 cups desiccated coconut
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 180C and line a lamington tin with greaseproof paper and then grease it and dust with flour
  2. Beat the eggs and caster sugar together until very thick and really pale in colour then gently fold in the flour (this is a sponge so go lightly, you don't want to knock out all that air you whipped into the eggs and sugar
  3. Pour into tin, smooth the batter and bake for about 10 minutes or until golden on top
  4. Cool in the tin for a few minutes then lift out and peel off the baking paper. Cool completely
For the icing
  1. Put the icing sugar, cocoa and water in a saucepan and bring to the boil, whisking well
  2. Reduce heat and simmer for a couple of minutes then remove from the heat and cool a little
  3. Now get ready to get messy.
  4. Set up a workstation with the cake cut into squares, then the chocolate sauce, then a wire rack and then a shallow dish holding the coconut and then another wire rack
  5. Dip the sponge in the chocolate until all covered - I use to forks to turn the cake over in the mixture - then put onto the wire rack to let any excess drip off
  6. Roll the pieces in the coconut then onto the final wire rack to dry
  7. Eat them all.

 

Onward!