Incredibly Easy Chocolate Cookies

This recipe came from my Nigella cook book and is called Granny Boyd’s Chocolate Cookies. I can see why they are Granny friendly, super easy and very very cheap. With only 4 ingredients you’ll be wondering why you didn’t think of this yourself. Same sort of texture as shortbread with a light chocolatey flavour makes these little mouthfuls endlessly moreish.

2 cups SR Flour

2 tbs cocoa powder

7 tbs caster sugar

240g unsalted butter (room temperature)

Preheat the oven to 160C and line 2 flat trays with baking paper. In a bowl cream butter and sugar together with a spoon until all combined. Sift in flour and cocoa powder and stir until it forms a dough. Do not add any liquid, keep stirring it will come good and form a lovely soft buttery dough. Roll small balls of the dough, about the size of walnuts and place on the lined trays, leaving enough space for them to spread a little. Once you have filled the trays, make fork press marks on the tops of all of the cookies. Place in the oven for 5 minutes then turn the oven down to 150C and bake for another 12-15 minutes. They should be firm to the touch but not hard. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool completely then store in an airtight container.

I would tell you how many this recipe makes but it depends on your interpretation of a walnut. I would tell you how long you can keep these for but I don’t think ours will last more than 2 days, they are already 2/3’s gone! Just shows how delicious they are! As mentioned before they have a crumbly and melty texture like shortbread but the thickness and size make them more like an American cookie, it’s hard to describe these in any other way than with made up words.

I was about to get the beaters out to cream the butter and sugar when I decided to touch the butter to check how melted it was, by leaving it out for an hour it was incredibly soft and using the beaters would have been a waste of time, so just check your butter and you might be able to save on washing up like I did. They took about 3 minutes to mix up and about 5 minutes to roll and press, so really for 8 minutes work this stash of cookies is well worth your time either for yourself or as a quick present. I only made half a batch as I get quite frustrated rolling cookie balls and just want it to be over with, so half a batch does us just fine. I got about 46 out of the half batch, but they are small, just a bit bigger than a 50c piece.

If I had any complaints it would be to myself for not buying the lindt cocoa powder I saw last week, I think they would be nicer with it but the nestle does the job just fine too. Thinking about it now these would be perfect for cooking with children because it is a one bowl, one spoon recipe and lots of little hands makes rolling a lot quicker. I suppose you could add nuts or chocolate chunks to this if you needed something a little bit fancier, but I like them plain and simple.

This week there may be an extra post or two as my Mum is coming to visit and we have a special something planned for Saturday breakfast in addition to my normal weekend baking so keep your eyes peeled for updates. Happy Monday every one!

Love Sonia x

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Banana Bread

Delicious for breakfast, morning tea, afternoon tea, just feel like a slice? Everyone loves banana bread and this recipe is so simple you’ll be wanting your bananas to go black too quickly. Not as dark as the ones you get at a cafe but wonderfully soft and bananary (if that is even a word).

1 3/4 cup or 260g of plain flour

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda

2/3 cup or 150g brown sugar

100g walnut crumbs or chopped walnuts.

3 large over ripe bananas

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

100g unsalted butter, melted, cooled

Preheat the oven to 175C. Lightly grease an 11cm x 22cm loaf tin and line with baking paper, leaving an overhang to pull bread out once cooked.

Sift flour, cinnamon, baking powder and bicarb soda into a bowl and add brown sugar then add the nuts, stir to combine.

In a separate bowl mash the bananas with a fork, then stir in the eggs, vanilla extract and cooled melted butter. Using a wooden spoon, fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until they’re just combined – don’t over mix. Scrape batter into prepared tin and place in to the oven for 50 minutes to 1 hour. It should be golden brown and a skewer inserted into the centre should come out clean. Cool the loaf in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to 3-4 days.

The batter only takes about 15 minutes to make, unless you, like me lose the new vanilla extract and spend 30 minutes looking for it in every corner of the house until you find it in the cornflake box. Apparently baking ingredients now throw themselves off the shelves and dive into cereal boxes. It will be the first place I look from now on! After our hunt for the vanilla everything else seemed very easy.

Because it takes an hour to cook if you want to eat this relatively soon after cooking I suggest baking this as mini loaves and baking for only 20 minutes or so as it will crumble if cut when warm. Once cooled this slices easily and the end piece stays moist. I used chopped nuts in this one, which are just chopped peanuts because Daniel doesn’t like walnuts. They work just as well, just has a slightly different taste to other banana breads.

The recipe states it serves 8, which it very well could, but they would be big cafe style pieces which unless you were only having this with a cuppa would be too much, unlike a cupcake or biscuit this isn’t a follow on food, you can’t have lunch followed by this, it is far too dense.

Beautifully soft, very bananary and very satisfying for sweet tooths and not so sweet tooths. I hope this brightens up your weekend and fills your Sunday with the freshly baked smell that we all love so much!

Love Sonia

Pikelets

As today is Shrove Tuesday I decided to make pikelets, even then it is meant to be pancake day, but pikelets are a little more appropriate. Not being religious I see pancake day as a day to try a new recipe for pikelets and less about the day before lent. This recipe came from February Super Food Ideas, they are lovely when fresh, they have gone a little rubbery since making them a few hours ago, so I would suggest making these just before you want to eat them.

1 3/4 cups self raising flour

3 tablespoons caster sugar

1 1/3 cups reduced fat milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 eggs

20g butter, melted

butter or canola oil spray for greasing

Sift flour and sugar into a bowl. Make a well in the centre, whisk milk, vanilla and eggs in a jug until just combined. Add to flour mixture, whisk until just combined. Add butter and whisk to combine. Lightly spray a non stick frying pan with oil, heat over a medium heat. Cook tablespoons of batter in batches for 1-2 minutes each side or until bubbles appear on the surface then flip. Transfer to a plate and repeat with remaining batter. Serve with jam and butter or just as is!

Makes approximately 28.

To make these I use my electric frying pan but only because our stove is unreliable when it comes to even heat. It took about 15 minutes to cook them all which is quite an instant reward compared to my usual baking challenges. The recipe states that each pikelet costs 6 cents to make, that is pretty good if you ask me and at the rate that Daniel eats these it’s a good thing too!

I usually make pikelets with the home brand mix but decided to make these from scratch considering I am writing a baking blog! I have to say I am quite impressed with how good they tasted.

Just a short post today, so happy pancake day everyone.

Love Sonia xx

Chocolate Brownies

A cakey, fudgy, crunchy and decadent treat. The humble brownie. A bit like your favourite chocolate cake, but with a crunchy outside and a middle that isn’t quite cooked. This one is my favourite, from Donna Hay’s website and as usual tweaked a little to suit our taste. I made these for my dear friends Gemma and Oli last night for dessert after our Donna Hay burgers, for which I will add the recipe on the end of this blog post. Incredible!

  •  200g dark chocolate, chopped (we use Nestle Club Original and a few squares extra of what ever is in the fridge as the block is 180g)
  •  250g unsalted butter, chopped
  •  1¾ cups (310g) brown sugar
  •  4 eggs
  •  ⅓ cup (35g) cocoa powder, sifted
  •  1¼ cups (185g) plain (all-purpose) flour, sifted
  •  ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • I also add between 50g and 80g of milk or dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 160°C. Place the chocolate and butter in a saucepan over low heat and stir until smooth. Allow to cool slightly.

Place the sugar, eggs, cocoa, flour and baking powder in a bowl. Add the chocolate mixture and mix until combined. Pour into a 20cm-square slice or cake tin lined with non-stick baking paper. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until an inserted skewer withdraws clean. Allow to cool slightly in the tin before slicing. Serve warm or cold. Makes 16 slices.

So now to the real notes. Does it make 16, yes it does. It also makes 8 or 25, just depends how you cut it and how much brownie you can handle in a sitting. Last night I cut 4 large slices for dessert and got about 14 pieces out of the rest. Do you have to add the chocolate chips, no you don’t, they aren’t in the original recipe, but really who doesn’t like chocolate chips?

This recipe is super easy, I got Daniel to help me last night as I was short on time, so he stirred the butter and chocolate in the saucepan while I measured out the other ingredients, but you can do it by yourself quite easily. It takes about 10 minutes to get the mix ready, then it’s the waiting game for them to be ready, it seems like such a long time when you can smell fresh baked brownie scent filling your kitchen but you know that they aren’t ready and won’t be for another 20 minutes. Be strong, it is worth it. Daniel likes his brownies with a crust but still gooey in the middle which is why I repeatedly use this recipe. I have made them about 5 or 6 times now and they have worked without fail everytime. Just don’t be tempted to take it out anytime before 40 minutes. Big mistake! You end up with 4 middle squares that have to be eaten with a spoon off the chopping board!

I find that these are best eaten warm, so fresh is best, but it is very difficult to eat this much chocolate in one sitting. After the first day I suggest a square of brownie in a bowl, into the microwave for between 10 and 20 seconds and it will be beautiful. Add a scoop of vanilla icecream and you have a bowl of deliciousness! I am not going to pretend that this recipe is good for you in any way, shape or form. Realistically if you can’t work that out from the ingredients list, you deserve the stomach ache that comes with eating too much of this at once. 250g of butter, 200g of chocolate and 300g of sugar doesn’t fit in with any diet I’ve ever heard of, that is why this is a dessert and not really for afternoon tea or a snack. Sure a sneaky square out of the container won’t hurt, but I certainly won’t be making these anytime again in the near future unless I invest in a gym membership. DO NOT however let this put you off, as described to me by Gemma these are “pure nommy”. That is what they are, I agree 1000% just make sure you have someone to share them with!I suggest serving these with icecream and some kind of fruit to help with the richness. I got Daniel to decorate the strawberries with some melted white chocolate and they were lovely. You could also serve them with thickened cream or custard. Take my word for it that once you make these, see how easy they are and how delicious they are for the minimal effort involved you will be whipping them out every chance you get. Oh and another thing, they freeze well, so if you want some for yourself but don’t want the whole lot you can always freeze the rest and just defrost them in the microwave.

I hope you enjoy them as much as we all did last night.

Much love,

Sonia xx

 

P.S Donna Hay Beef and Chorizo Burgers recipe as promised (it’s in this month’s magazine):

500g premium beef mince

1 chorizo, skin removed and chopped (good luck with the skin)

salt and pepper

1/4 cup sour cream

1 tbs horseradish cream

4 crusty breadrolls

baby spinach

For the beetroot relish; 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar, 1/3 cup brown sugar & 200g of tinned baby beetroot drained and chopped

To make the relish place the vinegar and sugar in a saucepan over a low heat and stir until dissolved. Add the beetroot, increase the heat to medium and cook stirring occasionally for 15 minutes or until thickened. Set aside.

Place the beef, chorizo, salt and pepper in a food processor and process until well combined. I did this in 2 batches and then mushed it all together with my hands in a bowl. Shape mixture into 4 patties. Preheat pan or bbq to high heat. Cook for 4-5 minutes each side (mine took 10 minutes each side, just use common sense, no one likes raw mince). Place sour cream and horseradish in a bowl and mix to combine. Spread the rolls with the horseradish mix and top with baby spinach leaves. Add the patties and top with beetroot relish. Serves 4 and is suberb. Definately worth a try!

Have a great weekend everyone x

 

Toblerone Cheesecake

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! I hope you all had a lovely day filled with surprises and deliciousness. Today’s post is quite fitting considering Cheesecake is in my top 3 loved foods. Toblerone Cheesecake. In no way healthy but that is made up for with its ease and supreme tastiness. A big thank you to my step-mum Debbie for getting me hooked on making this as soon as I realised you could make cheesecake at home. This was a special request from Lauren, so I hope this is what you were looking for and be sure to give some to my Dad when you make it because he loves it!

  • 300g McVities Chocolate Digestive biscuits
  • 80g butter, melted
  • 2x 250g blocks of Philadelphia Cream Cheese (Don’t use the light one or it won’t set)
  • ½ cup caster sugar
  • ½ tablespoon gelatine powder in ¼ cup boiling water
  • 250ml thickened cream
  • 200g Toblerone (chopped or food processed), plus extra for decoration.
  • Bring cream cheese to room temperature; an hour out of the box should do it.
  • Line base and sides of a spring form Place biscuits, broken in a food processor and process to fine crumbs. Melt butter in microwave safe bowl.
  • Combine biscuit crumbs and butter in bowl and press into base of springform pan. Refrigerate until filling is ready
  • Beat cream cheese with electric beaters until smooth, add caster sugar, cream and gelatine into mix and beat until combined, stir through toblerone.
  • Pour over biscuit base and tap to settle.
  • Refrigerate for 3-4 hours or overnight. Sprinkle with grated or pieces of toblerone. Serves 8 (large servings)

Warning: The base of this cheesecake will set very hard because of the chocolate in the biscuits, be careful when cutting. Also it is very addictive!

Having made this cheesecake at more times than I can remember, I would say about 20 times I just had to share it with you. A friend of my Dad’s Lauren asked me for a cheesecake recipe and I knew straight away that this was the one to share with her and all of you. It’s no bake easiness is what draws me to it every time, especially in summer when you don’t want the oven on all day. I have also made this with melted white chocolate and frozen raspberries, but this needs to be eaten within a day otherwise the raspberries bleed through making it a bit soggy and sort of splits the mixture.

For Valentine’s Day this year we decided to stay home and do nothing, a simple dinner and a quiet night watching tv sounded too good to pass up but I decided to do something to sweeten the night up a bit. Mini heart shaped toblerone cheesecakes! I got 8 in total, so they will last a couple of days. I made a half batch to make these as a full batch I use to fill a 23cm springform tin. You could also use the full batch to fill a 20cm springform tin but it would be very deep, so a lot of cheesecake filling to base.

The filling is so light, fluffy and creamy. A completely different texture to baked cheesecake so don’t make this if you are after the dense and smooth filling that you get from a baked cheesecake or you will be disappointed. If I could teach Daniel to make this I would have it for my birthday every year as it is just so delicious and great for a sneaky birthday breakfast (naughty I know, but once it’s in the fridge it’s hard to walk past).

There are no really trouble points with this cheesecake, so long as you get the crumbs fine enough that there are no big chunks which are hard to press down and you don’t process the toblerone for too long (it melts if the machine gets too hot) you shouldn’t have a problem with it. Another option if you don’t have a food processor is to melt the toblerone in the microwave and stir through the mix so the mix is chocolate flavoured with the nougat bits through the mixture. I haven’t tried this but the recipe for toblerone cheesecake on the Kraft website does say to melt the chocolate so it must work that way too.

Alright enough of me saying how wonderful this is because I could carry on forever. But really believe me when I say this dessert will transform dinner parties and the fact that it needs to be made the night before makes serving it up even better, just take it out, slice it up and serve. Scrumptious and delicious!

Love Sonia xx

 

Valentine’s Day Chocolate Cupcakes

For Valentine’s Day I think the nicest things are something sweet, something shared and a few nice words. These combine all three and are sure to impress whomever it is you are trying to impress this year. Super easy cupcakes with a gorgeous glossy ganache and a few nice words for my loved one. The recipe for the cupcakes is another Nigella Lawson one, but I actually got it off another food blog, the ganache and the decorating ideas came from the Martha Stewart website, a bit from everywhere, but isn’t that what cooking is all about?

Food Processor Cupcakes

125g butter, softened
125g sugar
125g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-3 tablespoons of milk
2 tablespoons cocoa powder (leave this out to make vanilla cupcakes)
 
Chocolate Ganache
113g Dark chocolate, broken into squares
1 tablespoon glucose syrup
2/3 cup thickened cream
 
A handful of white chocolate melts for decorating

Preheat oven to 200C, or 180C if using fan-forced.

Place all the ingredients except the milk into a food processor. Blitz in short bursts until the mixture is well combined and smooth.

Whilst pulsing the mixture, gradually pour in the two tablespoons of milk through the food processor funnel. Blitz until the milk has been incoporated. The mixture should look smooth and creamy.  Add another tablespoon of milk if necessary.

Divide the mixture across a patty-lined 12-muffin tin. A tablespoon or two should be sufficient, as the mixture should triple in size when baked.

Bake for 15-20min or until risen and tops spring back to the touch. Cool on a cooling rack. Ice when cool.

To make the ganache, heat cream in a saucepan over a medium high heat. In a heatproof bowl add broken chocolate and glucose syrup. Once the cream is hot (DO NOT BOIL) pour over the chocolate and stir until smooth and glossy. Let cool for one minute. Either dip or spoon and spread the icing onto to cupcakes. Let set for thirty minutes. Store in an airtight container.

To decorate for Valentine’s Day or other special occasion. Using white chocolate melts, put a handful in a mug in the microwave for 60 seconds, once done stir until smooth. Fit a piping bag (I use multix disposable ones) with a size 2 piping nozzle and pour chocolate into the bag. Pipe words that mean something to you or to fit a theme.

I am ever so happy with how these turned out. Admittedly I did practice the piping onto baking paper twice this week just to work out the best angle for getting fluent and legible words. Some of the final product aren’t quite perfect, but hey they will still get eaten. The white chocolate sets hard which is a nice little crunch against the silky runny icing and the soft and fluffy cupcake. The cupcakes are quite plain, but it is a basic mixture. I also found that the icing is quite bitter being all dark chocolate, next time I would use half dark and half milk, even though Daniel loves the dark chocolate bitterness. Equally if you don’t like dark chocolate use milk otherwise you could find these inedible.

This is my favourite cupcake mainly because I didn’t stick my finger in the icing and the piping didn’t run together. After trying one of the cupcakes for dessert I definately think they would be even better as just vanilla or something like raspberry and coconut. I think for a chocolate cake I would like it to be a little denser, but it still has a great flavour and texture.

I will do another post during this week for the cheesecake I make for Valentine’s Day dessert, so get baking. I’m sure your Valentine will love these gorgeous cupcakes as much as mine does.

Love Sonia xx

Sour Cream Cupcakes

I have made these cupcakes a couple of times now, all for “special” occasions. Once for a family birthday, once for a friends birthday and for my dear friend Eliza today. They are a really basic cupcake with a twist because of the almond meal and sour cream. Light and sweet, not overly moist but it has a lovely crumb.

* 125g unsalted butter, softened

* 1 cup (200g) caster sugar

* 3 eggs

* 1/2 cup (75g) plain flour

* 1/2 cup (75g) self-raising flour

* 1/2 cup (55g) almond meal

* 1/3 cup (80g) sour cream

* Icing flowers, to decorate

* Icing

* 2 cups (300g) icing sugar mixture

* 10g softened butter

* 2 tbs hot water

* 2-3 drops pink liquid food colouring

1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Line 20 1/3-cup (80ml) muffin pans with paper cases.

2. Use an electric mixer to beat the butter and sugar until pale and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition. Add the flours, almond meal and sour cream, in alternate batches, and stir with a wooden spoon until just combined.

3. Spoon mixture evenly among the lined pans and smooth the surface. Bake in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes or until cooked through. Remove from oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

4. To make the icing, combine the icing sugar and butter in a medium bowl. Gradually add enough water, stirring with a wooden spoon, until a smooth paste forms. Add the food colouring and stir until well combined.

5. Use a round-bladed knife or palette knife to spread icing over each cake. Decorate with icing flowers. Put aside for 15 minutes to set.

For the icing I made 2 different colours, a light pink and a bright pink. I just halved the icing ingredients and put them in 2 separate bowls, to one I added about 4 drops of pink food colouring and the other I dipped a wooden skewer into the food colouring bottle and just touched the end into the icing, this makes a really pale pink. You could use any colour you like, yellow would look lovely. The icing flowers I bought from Woolworths a pack of 15 for $4.99. I only used 10 as I didn’t put them on the ones for Daniel and myself. I saw some different designs at Pink Frosting in Fyshwick last week, sold in little packs for about $3.50 and I will try these out next time. The pink striped cupcake pans are also from Pink Frosting and are paper eskimo brand.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you are looking for cupcakes that are a little different from the norm, these are perfect. The sour cream cuts through a lot of the sweetness, but the icing adds a little back in so they are quite well rounded and as I mentioned before the almond meal makes the crumb really lovely and soft. I like these by themselves or with a icy cold glass of lemonade or milk, something light and cold is perfect for these. Daniel is laughing at me for writing lemonade or milk, but I still think they are the best beverages to have with them.

As a present for Eliza I boxed these up in a gift box with some cellophane, they look lovely grouped together or lined up and the alternating colours look really pretty. They would look really good on a cupcake stand or tree if you made enough of them, I got 10 small cupcakes and 6 regular size. From memory it made 12 regular cupcakes the first time I made them. I really like these cupcakes and I hope you do too. Thanks for following scrumptious and delicous,

Love Sonia xx