Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti

Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti

 

Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti

 

Yes, it’s Valentine’s Day.  Happy Valentine’s Day!  I think chocolate is a must-do today, right?  I made these biscotti to take to a coffee for an international group here, where we were all advised to take something sweet or savory, wear red, and bring a gift.  Of course, there were all sorts of treats on hand, but I am quite happy that no one brought anymore biscotti.

I personally love biscotti, which in Italy they are actually called Cantuccini, since biscotti just means cookie.  I have been making them since times immemorial, I think since I was 16 or so, for my mother’s bridge games.  Rarely do I make them with chocolate though, since I find them harder to pair with dessert wines.  Alas, the chocolate tradition won over today, so I naturally decided to pair them with hazelnuts, since all things that resemble nutella are delicious in my book.

I really like these biscotti because not only are they incredibly chocolatey, I don’t use any fats like butter or oil so they are not sooooo damaging to your waistline!  If you can, try to use some high quality chocolate, such as Valrhona, since the main ingredient is chocolate!

So here’s what you’re going to need:

Makes about 30 biscotti (Adapted from the New York Times Recipe)

1/2 cup whole toasted hazelnuts

1 1/4 cups four

1/4 cup good quality cocoa powder

pinch of salt

3/4 tsp baking powder

2 large eggs

3/4 cups sugar

2 tbsp sanding sugar

1 tsp black pepper

Preheat oven to 350F (180C).  In a large bowl, sift together the flour, chocolate, salt and baking powder, set aside.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the eggs and sugar, beat on medium speed until just mixed.  Reserve one tbsp of the egg mix in a small bowl.

Add the dry ingredients, a little at a time, and beat on low-speed until just incorporated.  Fold in the hazelnuts.

Form into a log shape, about 18 inches long and 3 inches wide, and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet.  Brush on the egg mix you set aside, dust with sanding sugar and the black pepper.

Place in the oven and cook for about 15-20 minutes, or firm.  Take out and let cool for 5 minutes before cutting into diagonal slices, 1 inch thick, with a sharp serrated knife.  Place back on the cookie sheet, on their side, and cook for another 15-20 minutes.

Let cool on a wire rack, and they can be kept in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

 

Michy’s Bread Pudding

MIchy's Bread Pudding photo 2 (1) photo 3 (1)

I am not a huge fan of bread pudding.  I like it, I don’t LUUUURRRVE it.  So, why did I make bread pudding?  Well, two reasons.  1) My daughter begged me to make cheese fondue last week, and I seriously miscalculated the quantities of how much bread we could eat.  2) My good friend Michelle Bernstein (of Michy’s Restaurant in Miami) makes the best bread pudding, hands down.

I tried Michy’s bread pudding 3 years ago when she invited me to eat at her restaurant.  It’s the only dessert she has in her cookbook, “Cuisine a Latina” too.  It’s that good.  What I love about it, is that even though it is quite a rich and decadent dessert, it really doesn’t feel like it, and I think it has to be the addition of brandy, chocolate and the fact that it soaks up the custard for up to 48 hours.  Booze and Chocolate.  Two of my favorite things!  Mixed together, even more yum factor. So, as I generally do, I tweaked her recipe a bit, (But I will give you the original and you can do as you choose!) by using cranberries instead of raisins, and using all of the brandy used to soak the cranberries instead of just a tbsp!  I love the taste of a slightly boozy dessert, but if you prefer yours with a little less ripple, keep to the original recipe!

So here’s what you’re going to need:

1/2 cup raisins (or any dried fruit you like)

Grated zest of 1 orange (I used lemon and it was equally scrumptious)

1 cup brandy or sherry (but go to town, I think rum would even be amazing in this)

2 cups heavy cream

1 cup half and half

6 large egg yolks, at room temperature

3/4 cup sugar

1 tbsp vanilla extract

4 cups diced (1 inch) soft crustless challah, brioche, or white bread (I used crustful baguette)

4 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

Vanilla Ice Cream for serving

Put raisins and orange zest in a small bowl, add the brandy, and let the raisins and zest soak, covered, in the refrigerator for 24 hours or up to 1 week.

Put the cream and half and half in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over low heat.  Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl.  Whisk one-third of the warm cream into the egg mixture, a little at a time, to prevent scrambling the eggs, then whisk in the rest of the cream mixture.

Add the bread to the bowl and stir to soak it with the custard.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 24 hours, or up to 48 hours.

Put a rack in the center of the oven to 325F (170C).  Butter six 4 to 6 ounce ramekins or baking dishes.  Drain the raisins, reserving the brandy.  Add the raisins and a tablespoon of the brandy to the bread mixture and mix well.  Spoon into the prepared ramekins or baking dish.  Sprinkle chocolate over the top of the bread puddings.  Put the ramekins in a roasting pan and fill the pan with enough warm water to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins.  Bake, uncovered, until the pudding is just set, about 25 minutes; when you shake the pan, the custard should wobble for just a moment.

Remove the pan from the oven and carefully place the ramekins on small serving dishes.  Serve the bread pudding hot, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream right on top.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

“Kitchen Sink” – Power Breakfast Muffins

Breakfast Muffins

These days I have exercising like a fiend.  I am extremely proud of myself because I usually train when I have a race coming up, and then take a more relaxed attitude to working out.  But, since this year I wanted to not only lose weight, but get healthier and feel better, I have stuck to a rigorous gym workout for the last 4 months.  (Patting myself on the back now.)

The only problem, is mid through my workout, I get ravenously hungry.  I have done the fruit and yogurt with granola, the eggs with toast, smoothies, you name it.  I needed something filling and portable to take to the gym with me, that is healthy, but also feels like I am indulging.  So, I went into my pantry, I love having a pantry after all these years, by the way, and basically took out a basket full of ingredients that could possibly go into a muffin.  I edited quite a few, but I did end up using most of them.  The result was perfect.

photo (14)

Made with whole wheat flour, oat bran, chia seeds, walnuts, fruit and some cinnamon and chocolate for that splurge factor, these are fantastic little nutrient power houses, with no added fats!  Ridiculously delicious and easy to make, and super healthy, these will be a staple to carry in my gym bag when my belly starts a rumbling!!

So here’s what you’re going to need:

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1 cup oat bran

1/4 cup chia seeds

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup chopped semi sweet chocolate

1 ripe banana, mashed

1 cup oat milk (you can substitute soy, almond or real milk if you want)

1/2 cup apple juice or sauce

1/2 cup molasses

1 egg

Preheat the oven to 350F (180C).  Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray, set aside.

In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients together.  Sprinkle in the walnuts, raisins and chocolate.  Mix well.  In another bowl, mix the banana, oat milk, apple juice, molasses and egg.  Fold into the dry ingredients.

Use a 1/4 cup measurement to fill the muffin tin 3/4 full.  Cook for 16-18 minutes.  Let cool on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes before serving.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Malteser Cake

Malteser Cake

Phew.  I made it out alive, barely, but I did!  This was my daughter’s 16th birthday party, and she had a blast.  But I felt like a hired hand most of the time.  That’s ok though, birthday’s are only once a year.  Thank God.

I am actually very happy, because normally she asks me to make her a cake from Milk Bar….chocolate malted something or other, which we just call the “Monster Cake”.  Why?  Because it takes about 3 days to make it and it has a whopping billion calories per slice.

This year, she wanted something different, she loves Maltesers (Whoppers in the States) and so I made her a cake that showcased her favorite malted milk balls.

As far as cakes go, this was a cinch.  It took me about 3 hours to make, and it was delicious!  Crunchy, moist, creamy…..all those things in one.  So for your next party why not try it?  Guaranteed to have some happy faces and full bellies!

So here’s what you’re going to need:

For the yellow cake

Adapted from The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook

2 round cake tins

1 cup unsalted butter, cut into squares plus more for tin

3 cups cake flour

1 tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

2 cups sugar

1.5 tsp vanilla extract

4 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup milk

1 packet crushed maltesers

Malted Chocolate Buttercream frosting (recipe follows)

10 packets maltesers (approximately)

Multi colored sprinkles (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F.  Butter the two round cake tins and dust with flour.  Sift together flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter on low-speed to soften, increase speed to medium, and cream until light and fluffy.  Keep beating while gradually adding sugar; beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Add the vanilla.

Gradually drizzle in the beaten eggs, beating between additions until the batter is no longer slick, scraping down the sides of the bowl.  With the mixer on low, alternate adding flour and milk, starting and ending with the flour.  Scrape sides of the bowl and mix 10 seconds longer.  Fold in the crushed maltesers.

Divide evenly between the pans, and bake in the oven for about 40 minutes, a knife should come out clean.  Let cool before frosting.

To assemble the cake, place one layer on a platter and frost with the buttercream about an inch thick.  Place a layer of maltesers on the top.

Top with the second layer of cake, and frost the top and sides with the remaining buttercream, and then top with Maltesers in 3 rows, as shown above, tightly packed.  Leave a round space in the center for the candles and sprinkles.

Tilt the cake in the platter and sprinkle  with the sprinkles, and add some in the center, if using.

Malted Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Adapted from Baked Explorations by  Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito

5 large egg whites, at room temperature

1.5 cups sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature

4 oz good quality semi-sweet chocolate, melted and cooled

1/4 cup malted milk powder

12 maltesers, crushed

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the egg whites and sugar.  Set the bowl over a pot of simmering water and whisk until the sugar is dissolved and the egg whites are just warm to the touch.  Return the bowl to the mixer, and with the whisk attachment beat in the vanilla and eggs on high-speed until firm and glossy, about 3-5 minutes.  With the machine running, whisk in the butter a few tbsp at a time.  If the mixture begins to look curdled, continue to beat until it is smooth before adding more butter.

Dissolve the malt powder in 2 tbsp hot water, then beat it in to the buttercream, then whisk in the melted chocolate.  Fold in the crushed maltesers.  Cover and refrigerate if not using immediately.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Individual Chocolate Banana Cakes with Crushed Honeycomb

Chocolate Banana Cakes with Crushed Honeycomb

 

When I moved to the Bahamas, I tasted my very first Crunchie bar, and it was pure, sweet, magical love.  I had never tasted anything like it, that airy, sweet, crispy caramel tucked neatly inside milk chocolate.  It was pure bliss.

Crushed Honeycomb

Imagine my happiness when my Jamie’s Great Britain book arrived in the post, and I found a recipe on how to make the inside of a Crunchie bar!!!!  I literally got the book on Tuesday, and Wednesday I was making the honeycomb.  I’m flabbergasted at how easy this was to make.  I mean, I don’t know what I thought it would entail, like some super-duper complicated machinery to infuse the caramel with all those teeny tiny holes, but in reality….it’s a 4 step process.  It took me a whole of 10 minutes.  Crazy!!!

My friend came over for lunch yesterday, and I hadn’t baked in a while.  Luckily, my pantry is always stocked with the necessary accoutrements (I just wanted to use a fancy word.  Ingredients, actually) to whip up a simple sponge cake.  Which also came out of Jamie’s book.

Queen Victoria Sponge Cake

I decided I would combine his recipe for honeycomb, with his recipe for Victoria Sponge, and add a little banana and some ganache.

Individual Chocolate Banana Sponge Cakes with Crushed Honeycomb

This is the bomb.  Tastewise and calorically.  But heck, it was worth the run I did afterwards!

So, if you are so inclined, here is the recipe for my little concoction!

Serves 6

Adapted from Jamie’s Great Britain Cookbook

Basic Honeycomb Recipe:

1/2 heaped tsp baking soda

125g white sugar

1 tbsp honey

Line a shallow baking tray with a sheet of parchment paper.  Measure out your baking soda so that it’s ready to go – you’ll need to work quickly once the sugar reaches the right temperature.  Put the sugar, honey and 25ml of water into a medium-sized, deep, heavy-bottomed pan.  Stir together and heat to 150 Celsius on a sugar thermometer.  Whatever you do, do NOT touch or taste the caramel, as it will burn you.

As soon as the caramel reaches the right temperature, turn the heat off and add the baking soda, whisking quickly and carefully to combine it.  It will froth right up, but that’s normal.  Carefully pour the mixture out onto your lined tray right away, then gently tilt the tray a little from side to side to get the mixture to spread out in a fairly even layer (again, being careful not to come into contact with the hot caramel).  Leave to one side to cool, then crack it into bite size pieces and crush some into powder or smaller pieces.

For the Victoria Sponge:

125g softened unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing

125g self-raising flour, plus extra for dusting

2 large eggs

zest of one lime

a few drops of Rosewater

Preheat your oven to 190C.  Grease your individual cake tins with butter, and dust with flour.  Trust me on this, I didn’t dust with the flour and they stuck….so instead of 6 I had 4.

Beat the butter and sugar together in a mixer until light and fluffy, about 10 minutes.  Add the eggs, one at a time, making sure you beat each one before you add the next one.  Fold in the lime zest, flour and rosewater.  Divide the batter among the cake tin, and with a greased spatula, smooth the bottoms.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and rise, and a toothpick comes out clean.  Turn out on a baking rack to cool completely.

For the ganache:

250g dark chocolate

1 cup heavy cream.

Shave your chocolate with a serrated knife.

Shaved dark chocolateThis will make sure that the chocolate melts all at the same time.  In a medium sauce pan, heat the cream just before boiling.  Place the chocolate in a large heat-proof bowl, and add the cream.  Mix once and let sit for 1o minutes.  Then whisk well, until all the chocolate is mixed with the cream and it is glossy.

To Assemble:

1 banana, cut 6 slices, and chop the rest

Crushed Honeycomb

6 individual cakes

Ganache

Place a piece of parchment beneath the baking rack.  Add the honeycomb and chopped banana to the tops of the cakes.  Then drizzle the ganache over the cakes.  Let it set for about 3 minutes, then pour over again, and smooth the sides and top with a spatula.

Top the cakes with the small crushed honeycomb, then add one large piece.  Add one slice of banana to each cake.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

 

 

Layered Crepe “Cake” with Nutella, Pastry Cream and Summer Berries

Again, my inspiration was from Girl in a Food Frenzy’s post on Crepes.  But this time, I decided to make them without the buckwheat flour.  I wanted them more sweet, less savoury, and have more of a cakey quality.  So I decided to look through my The Beautiful Cookbook: France, which had a recipe for Crepes Suzette.

I think someone somewhere has done the same thing that I’ve done, but I totally wanted a tasty, easy and ridiculously yummy cake to serve on Olympics Opening night…which just happened to be an impromptu celebration of another friends’ birthday.

So, I knew I wanted berries, I knew I wanted Nutella, and I knew I wanted Pastry Cream.  So, all three were combined.  And it was to die for my friends.  Truly, to die for.

Fairly easy to make, even better to eat, here’s the recipe for this simply exquisite “cake”:

For the crepes:

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 cups milk

2 eggs

1 tsp sugar

3 drops vanilla extract

1 tbsp vegetable oil

For the pastry cream:

1 1/4 cups whole milk (or 2%)

1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise

3 large egg yolks

1/4 cup white sugar

2 tbsp flour

2 tbsp cornstarch

1/2 tbsp liqueur (grand marnier, kirsch etc)

1 cup Nutella or melted milk chocolate

3 cups mixed berries, such as strawberries (sliced), raspberries, blackberries, blueberries and currants

Powdered Sugar, for dusting

To make the crepes:

Mix all the ingredients and whisk vigorously, let rest for 30 minutes to an hour.

In the meantime, make the pastry cream.  In a medium, thick bottomed sauce pan, heat the milk and vanilla bean until just boiling.  In a large heat proof bowl, mix the eggs, sugar, flour and cornstarch.  When the milk is hot and just about to boil, pour into your egg mix and whisk continuously so that the eggs don’t curdle.  Pour all the milk in a slow stream and keep whisking until done.  Then pour the mixture back into the saucepan and heat until it boils, always mixing, until it thickens.  When it has thickened, take off heat and keep whisking for another minute or so.  Add the liqueur.  Take out the vanilla pod and reserve covered with plastic wrap until using.

If you are using milk chocolate, melt in a double boiler.

Separate about 1/3 cup of pastry cream.

Mix the Nutella (or melted chocolate) into the large bowl of  pastry cream.

In a large sauté pan, heat a good knob of butter until it melts, then wipe away with some kitchen paper.  Add a ladle of crêpe batter, and swirl it around so it covers the whole pan.  Cook for about 40 seconds, and with a spatula lift off and cook the underside, 30 seconds more.  Continue to do this with all the batter.

To make the cake:

Layer nutella pastry cream and strawberries on a crêpe, top with another crêpe, and continue to do so until you don’t have any crepes left.  On the last crêpe, top with the 1/3 cup of pastry cream (without chocolate) top with the mixed berries and currants.  Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes, and just before serving, dust with powdered sugar.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

 

 

 

 

Banana Chocolate Chip Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Toasted Coconut

Pinterest.  I find it to be one of the most addictive things, when I am on it that is.  I actually don’t spend so much time on it, but if I did….oh dear.  I would be as big as a heffalump.  There are all these cake recipes!  I am a sucker for cake.  And I love love love baking them.  But there are so many cakes, and brownie’s and goodies….I am literally pinning and pinning and who knows when I will actually get to them.  But, I managed to make one.  I came across one for this recipe, and I thought the idea was delicious.  I love banana bread, but I’ve never had a cake.  The original recipe from http://www.allrecipes.com calls for nuts instead of chocolate chips, but the pinner added chocolate chips.  And who doesn’t love the combination of bananas and chocolate?

I added the toasted coconut, and also some shaved dark chocolate on top.  To the batter I also added some vanilla extract and lemon rind.

It is divine.  Pure indulgence.  Super moist, light and fluffy.  Try it.  And give some away because it is addictive!

So here’s what you’re going to need:

2.5 cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 pinch of salt

115 g butter

1 tbsp corn syrup

1 cup sugar

3/4 cup brown sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp grated lemon rind

3 extra ripe bananas, mashed

2/3 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:

2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup butter, softened

2 cups powdered sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup sweetened coconut, toasted

1/4 cup dark chocolate, shaved

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease 2 nine-inch round cake pans, set aside.  Sift flour, salt and baking soda together in a large bowl.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 10 minutes. (Trust me on this, makes the cake super airy and light).  Add eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition.  Add the vanilla extract and lemon rind.

Set the speed to low, and alternatively add the flour and buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.  Fold in the mashed bananas and chocolate chips.

Bake for 30 minutes, approximately, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cool on a wire rack before frosting.

While the cake is cooling, make the frosting.  Cream the butter and cream cheese until creamy.  Add the vanilla and powdered sugar.  Beat until fluffy.  Refrigerate until using.

Cut the cakes in half, so you have four thin layers.  Frost the layers and dust with a little coconut.  Then frost the top and outside of the cake.  Dust the middle with chocolate, and the outer ring with coconut.  If you want, also the sides.

Enjoy with a really tall cold glass of milk!  Yumm yumm.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla