Treacle flapjacks

While in many parts of the world the word flapjack refers to a type of pancake, in the UK and Ireland, flapjacks are simple four-ingredient oat bars, great for lunch boxes or an after school snack. They can be jazzed up with all sorts of additions, such as dried fruit, nuts, chocolate chips, toffee bits… Just don’t count the calories ;)

treacle flapjacks

While they are usually made with golden syrup, I got a tin of treacle for Christmas all wrapped up under the tree (thanks Nuala!) and used some for an amazingly deep toffee flavour in these scrumptious treats.

Makes 16 bars (depending on size)
Preparation 10 minutes
Baking 30 – 35 minutes

Ingredients

175g (1 1/2 sticks or 3/4 cup) unsalted butter, diced
175g (3/4 cup, packed) light brown (demerara) sugar
120g (1/3 cup) black treacle
335g (12oz or 4 cups) rolled oats

Directions

Preheat oven to 175°C (350°F) and line a square or rectangular baking pan, approximately 16 x 26cm (6 x 10”), with baking paper.

Place the butter, brown sugar and treacle in a medium, heavy-based saucepan over medium-low heat and stir just until it starts to bubble and the sugar has melted. It should take about 5 minutes.

Pour the butter mixture into the oats and mix well.

Tip the mixture into the baking dish, spread out evenly and press down well with a spatula or palette knife.

Bake in the centre of the oven for 30 minutes, rotating the pan once. You can increase the baking time by 5 minutes for crunchier bars, but they can be quite hard to bite.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes. When the flapjack starts to set, use a knife to score it into bars, then allow to cool completely in the pan.

Use the baking paper to lift it from the pan and cut along the scored lines.

Store in an airtight container.

Posted in biscuit, cookie, snack, sweet | 2 Comments

Cheesy brioche dinner rolls

Crunchy crust, soft and fluffy interior with a rich, cheesy, buttery flavour. Mmmm, yes please!

Cheesy brioche dinner rolls

We are carboholics around here. Bread, pasta, potatoes, pastry, pizza… In fact, my kids could happily live on pasta and pizza entirely. Okay, we do eat our share of salads and low carb meals, but it just doesn’t feel right to have a bowl of soup without something to dip in it. And it’s not just the carb factor, but the taste and texture contrast that makes bread so good with soup, whether it be a dinner roll, a piece of toast or a grilled cheese sandwich.

These rolls are kind of a bread roll – grilled cheese love-child.  ;)

Makes 12 dinner rolls
Preparation – 40 minutes active time and about 3 hours resting
Baking – 30 minutes

Ingredients

300g (10 1/2 oz or 2 2/5 cups) all-purpose (plain) flour
1 tsp instant yeast (or 8 1/2g fresh or 1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast)
12g (1 Tbsp) granulated (white) sugar
3g (1/2 tsp) fine salt
125g (4 1/2 oz) grated asiago cheese
100ml (3 1/3 fl oz) tepid milk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
115g (1 stick or 1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 egg, lightly beaten, for egg wash

Directions

Note: If using fresh or active dry yeast instead of instant, activate it in the milk first, then proceed with the recipe.

Put the flour, yeast, sugar and salt into a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook and whisk together. Toss through the grated cheese with a fork.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk and eggs. Add to flour mixture and mix with a wooden spoon or on low speed for about 3 minutes, until completely combined.

Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a plastic spatula as needed, increase to kneading speed and mix for about 10 minutes. The dough should be smooth.

Scrape down the bowl again and, with the mixer running at low speed or as you stir, add the butter a teaspoon at a time. It will look very buttery at first, and will take about 10 minutes for the butter to be completely incorporated by machine, longer by hand.

When the butter is all incorporated, increase the speed and knead for about 10 minutes, until the dough is very smooth and comes away from the bowl. Scrape down the dough hook and bowl a couple of times as needed while kneading.

Remove the dough hook, cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp towel and leave to rise in a warm place for about two hours, until the dough has doubled in size.

At this point, the dough can be refrigerated overnight in an airtight container if desired.

Knock the dough back by folding it over two or three times with a bowl scraper.

Butter a 12 hole muffin tin.

Scrape dough out onto work surface, knead gently together and cut into 12 equal sized pieces. Roll the dough pieces into balls, arrange seam side down in muffin tin and brush lightly with egg wash.

Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rise for about 1 hour (2 hours if the dough was refrigerated), until doubled in sized.

Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F).

Brush the rolls lightly again with egg wash. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 180°C (360°F) and bake for a further 20 minutes.

Turn rolls out onto a wire rack and allow to cool a little before serving warm.

Posted in bread, lunch, muffin, soup | 4 Comments

Oeufs à la Neige (snow eggs)

After a brief hiatus, the Daring Cooks are back in action! And what a way to start the new year! The January challenge was to make that luscious, indulgent French dessert, Oeufs à la Neige. Soft, light, sweet poached meringues floating in a pool of rich, golden crème anglaise, topped with a sprinkling of crisp almond praline.

Oeufs à la Neige

Serves 6 – 8
Preparation: 10 minutes for the praline, 45 minutes for the meringue, 10 minutes for the crème anglaise, plus an hour or more chilling and 5 minutes assembly

Praline topping

Note: This will make more than you need, but it can be stored indefinitely in an airtight container, or ground in a food processor to add to pastry cream or other desserts.

75g (2/5 cup or 7 Tbsp) granulated sugar
25ml (2 Tbsp less 1 tsp) water
50g (1/2 cup) slivered almonds

In a medium, heavy-based saucepan, bring the water and sugar to a boil, until the sugar has completely melted.

Add the slivered almonds to the boiling sugar mixture and stir continuously so as not to burn the nuts. The sugar will “sand” but will melt again then become golden. Pour out onto a silicon mat or a baking sheet lined with wax paper to cool.

Poached meringue

6 large egg whites (reserve the yolks)
pinch of salt
150g (3/4 cup) granulated (white) sugar
600 ml (2 1/2 cups) whole milk

Place the egg whites in a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Add a pinch of salt and begin to beat on medium high speed until you have soft peaks.

While continuing to beat, add the sugar by tablespoons until completely incorporated.

Increase the speed to high and beat the whites until you have stiff peaks. You should be able to hold the bowl upside down without any spilling out.

While you are beating the whites, bring the milk to a simmer in a medium, wide-based saucepan. It needs to be steaming but not bubbling to poach the meringue.

With two tablespoons (one to scoop, one to help ease the meringue off the other spoon), spoon 2 or 3 oval-shaped meringues into the milk. They will puff up a bit and can be delicate to turn, so don’t be tempted to make them to big or do too many at a time.

Poach for 2 – 3 minutes, until set, turn over with the help of a spoon and poach the other side for 2 – 3 minutes.

Once they are done, remove with a slotted spoon to a plate. They will drain and deflate a bit.

Set meringues aside (room temperature is okay if serving within a couple of hours, otherwise refrigerate them) and reserve the milk for the crème anglaise.

Crème Anglaise

6 large egg yolks
reserved milk from poaching the egg whites
150g (3/4 cup) granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
extra milk as needed

In a medium bowl, whisk the yolks until fluffy.

Strain the milk into a clean medium saucepan and top up with more milk as needed to make 500ml (2 good cups), add the sugar and vanilla and bring to a simmer.

Pour about 1/3 of the warm milk into the egg yolks, whisking constantly.

Return the milk to the heat and, while continuing to whisk, pour the yolk mixture into the milk in a slow stream. Stir the mixture continuously over low heat until thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Pour the mixture through a strainer into a bowl and cool it in the fridge, stirring occasionally.

Once the custard has been chilled, spoon it into serving dishes, gently place one or two or three of the poached meringues on top, and decorate with your topping of choice – nut praline, spun sugar, shaved chocolate…

*****

Daring Kitchen blog checking lines: The January Daring Cooks Challenge will ensure that no matter where in the world you are, you will have a bit of snow! Kim from Ask a Foodie challenged us to make Oeufs à la Neige, or “Eggs in Snow”.

The original recipe is here.

Posted in daring cooks, dessert, french, pudding, sweet | 3 Comments

Brandy snap baskets with chantilly cream and pomegranate seeds

Crisp brandy snap baskets filled with soft, sweet chantilly cream and topped with bright pomegranate seeds are equally at home on fine china at the dining table, or on a napkin at a party. At our friends’ New Year party, we set out the 3 elements on the buffet table and let the guests serve themselves.

brandy snap baskets with chantilly cream and pomegranate seeds

Brandy snaps are an old British, Australian & New Zealand favourite. They are super simple to make, if a little time consuming because they have to be baked in small batches. A soft dough is used to bake discs which are then traditionally shaped into a tube. They don’t normally contain any brandy themselves, the name actually coming from the brandy-spiked cream they are often filled with. I added a touch of brandy to the snaps themselves for flavour, knowing that the alcohol would be cooked off (we were serving to children and I didn’t want brandy in the cream), and the basket shape is a popular variation, frequently served as an edible bowl for ice cream.

Makes about 30 small baskets
Preparation: about 20 minutes for the brandy snaps and 30 minutes for the chantilly cream, plus cooling time for everything
Baking: about an hour for baking brandy snaps in batches

Brandy snap baskets

100g (3 1/2 oz or 7 Tbsp) unsalted butter
100g (3 1/2 oz or 1/2 cup lightly packed) dark brown (muscovado) sugar
100g (3 1/2 oz or 2 1/3 fl oz) golden syrup
100g (3 1/2 oz or 4/5 cup) all-purpose (plain) flour
1/4 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp brandy (optional)

Preheat oven to 180°C (360 °F) and line a baking sheet with parchment. Either set out some upside down silicon cupcake pans or oil the underside of a muffin pan, the base of small ramekins or narrow drinking glasses. It’s best to do this on parchment, too.

Put the butter, sugar and golden syrup in a saucepan and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved – about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool a little.

Whisk together flour and ginger in a bowl and make a well in the centre. Add the lemon juice and brandy. Pour in the butter mixture and beat it into the flour until the mixture is thoroughly combined. It may be a bit lumpy at first, but persevere.

Use a teaspoon to drop heaps of mixture onto the prepared baking tray, spaced well apart because they will spread a lot, to about 10cm (4″). A good rounded teaspoon is enough for a small basket. I did 6 at a time, but if you are making them bigger then 4 per sheet would be best.

Bake in centre of oven for 9 – 10 minutes until set and light golden brown. Leave for one to two minutes before shaping – they should still be pliable, but set enough to move without tearing.

Carefully lift the brandy snaps from the parchment with a palette knife or fine spatula (I used both, one on either side) and drape them over the cupcake liners/muffin pan wells or whatever you organised for shaping. Press down the sides a little to create basket shapes. Don’t mold them too tightly or they won’t release easily when set.

Allow brandy snaps to cool and harden, about 5 minutes, then remove them from the molds and proceed with the next batch.

The baskets can be stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days, but they will soften over time.

Chantilly cream

480ml (2 cups) whole milk
2 Tbsp cornstarch
65g (6 Tbsp) granulated (white) sugar
seeds from 1 vanilla bean or 1 tsp vanilla paste/extract
1 large egg, room temperature
2 large egg yolks, room temperature
240ml (1 cup) heavy or whipping cream
seeds from 1 large pomegranate (or berries, if you’d prefer)

Dissolve cornstarch in 1⁄4 cup of milk in a mixing bowl.

Combine the remaining milk with the sugar in a saucepan, add the vanilla seeds or paste/extract, bring to boil and remove from heat.

Beat the whole egg and the yolks into the cornstarch mixture. Pour 1/3 of the hot milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly.

Bring the remaining milk back to the boil and pour in the hot egg mixture in a slow stream while continuously whisking.

Continue whisking until the cream thickens and comes to a boil and thickens, about 5 minutes.

Remove from heat and pour into a clean bowl, press plastic wrap firmly against the surface, and chill until ready to use.

In a separate bowl, whip the cream to firm peaks, then fold into pastry cream by tablespoons until combined. If making ahead, cover the bowl tightly and refrigerate.

Spoon the cream into the brandy snap baskets, sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and serve immediately – the filled baskets will soften if left to sit for too long.

Posted in biscuit, cookie, dessert, pudding, sweet | 2 Comments

Vegetarian sushi

Vegetarian sushi is great finger food for a party because you can make it ahead of time then pop it into the fridge – it’s ready when you are, to serve with soy sauce for dipping.

Vegetarian sushi

You can fill them with whatever takes your fancy. I use a selection of different vegetables for colour, flavour and texture – the ingredients I give here are the way I did this particular batch, but you can add any finely sliced vegetables, sprouts, sesame seeds, Japanese sweet omelet, wasabi paste or pickled ginger if you like. Rolling them takes a little practice, but they don’t have to be perfect! I don’t bother trimming the ends, but you can if you want.

Vegetarian sushi

Makes 48 rolls
Preparation – about 30 minutes for the rice, plus cooling time,
30 minutes cutting vegetables and 30 minutes assembly
Equipment – a bamboo sushi mat helps

Ingredients

500g (about 17 1/2 oz or 2 3/4 cups) sushi rice
700ml (3 cups) cold water

10 Tbsp rice vinegar
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt

12 nori sheets

200g (7oz) firm tofu
1/2 avocado
1 small carrot
1 small red bell pepper (capsicum)
10cm cucumber
2-3 Tbsp shredded celeriac
1 spring onion (scallion)
10 snow peas

Directions

Stir together the rice and water in a rice cooker or heavy based saucepan, cover and bring to boil. Reduce heat to minimum and cook for 10 minutes, turn off heat and let rice rest for 15 minutes without removing the lid.

In a small bowl dissolve the sugar and salt in the vinegar, then fold mixture into rice until rice cools to room temperature.

Finely julienne tofu and all vegetables.

Place a sheet of nori rough side up on the sushi mat. Use damp fingers to spread a layer of rice over it, leaving a border of about 5cm (2″) along the edge farthest from you.

Place a selection of filling ingredients across the rice about 2cm (1″) from the front edge – don’t overfill it or it will be harder to roll – then use the mat to help you roll it tightly. Place roll seam-side down on a cutting board then proceed with the next one.

As they sit, the nori will absorb moisture from the rice and it will seal at the seam and soften.

Use a large, sharp knife dipped in water to slice the rolls into 4 pieces each.

Arrange the pieces on a serving platter, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Posted in asian, rice, salad, snack, starter, tofu | 2 Comments

Dutch spice bread

The December Daring Bakers challenge was to make Ontbijtkoek – Dutch spice bread (or cake) – a wonderful winter tea time treat! Crunchy crust, dense crumb with a rich, sweetly spiced flavour. Ontbijtkoek is traditionally served at breakfast with a thick layer of butter, or it can be served as a snack.

Dutch spice bread

My choice between the variations provided (follow the link to the Daring Kitchen recipe page at the end of the post for all of them) was dictated by a combination of what I had in the pantry (no rye flour, golden syrup or brown sugar) and limitations in spice choices due to family allergies and dislikes (no ginger and only a hint of cinnamon), so this is… well, not traditional. It’s a mash-up of Peperkoek and Kruidkoek with further variations that are probably totally unacceptable to a Dutch person.

Mijn excuses voor het knoeien met de traditie!

But it is really good, I promise!

Makes 1 x 30cm (12″) loaf
Preparation about 15 minutes
Baking about 60 minutes

Ingredients

500g (4 cups) whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground mace
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/8 tsp ground white pepper
1/8 tsp ground cloves
500ml (2 cups) whole milk
500g (2 cups) raw cane sugar

Directions

Preheat oven to 175°C (350°F) and grease and flour a 30cm (12″) loaf tin.

Whisk flour, baking powder and spices together in a bowl.

Put the milk in a medium heavy based saucepan and heat until it just comes to a boil. Remove from the heat, add the sugar and whisk until the sugar has dissolved.

Pour the milk mixture into the dry ingredients whisk until the batter is smooth.

Pour into loaf tin and bake in centre of oven for about 60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Take the cake out of the oven, allow it to cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then remove to a wire rack. As the cake is quite dense, it won’t shrink much, so you may need to use a fine plastic spatula to loosen it in the tin.

Allow cake to cool to room temperature before serving.

*****

Daring Kitchen blog checking lines: For the month of December, Andrea from 4pure took us on a trip to the Netherlands. She challenged us to take our taste buds on a joyride through the land of sugar and spice by baking three different types of Dutch sweet bread

The original recipe is here

Posted in bread, breakfast, cake, daring bakers, muffin, snack, sweet | 9 Comments

Christmas parfait

Looking for something a little different from the traditional Christmas pudding this year? How about a Christmas parfait.

The quintessential flavours of Christmas with spiced fruit mince, cherries and toasted almonds in a rich, custard-based ice cream cake, without the heaviness of a pudding.

Christmas parfait

You can serve this alongside a slice of pandoro, a pile of chouquettes or just on its own.

I used golden syrup, but maple would work as well, and if you don’t have fruit mince to hand, toss some dried fruits with cinnamon, nutmeg, mace and cloves, then soak them in rum or brandy.

Makes about 12 servings
Preparation about 30 minutes
Chilling about 2 hours
Freezing overnight

Ingredients

3 large eggs, separated, room temperature
300ml (1 1/4 cups) whole cream
90ml (6 Tbsp) golden (or maple) syrup, divided
seeds from 1 vanilla bean or 1 tsp vanilla paste or extract
35g (4 Tbsp) slivered almonds
50g (1/4 cup, lightly packed) light brown (demerara) sugar
200g (4/5 cup) fruit mince
75g (1/2 cup) glacé cherries, diced

Directions

Whisk together the egg yolks with the cream, 45ml (3 Tbsp) of the golden syrup, and the vanilla seeds/paste/extract in a medium saucepan and bring to the boil slowly over low heat, stirring constantly with a whisk. When the mixture thickens sufficiently that it coats the bottom of the pan when you tilt it (a few minutes, depending on heat), remove from heat and pour into a stainless steel or ceramic bowl, cover with plastic wrap pressed to the surface and set aside until cool. Refrigerate until chilled, about an hour.

Heat a small skillet over a medium-low flame and lightly toast the almonds, stirring constantly to avoid scorching, until golden. Transfer to a bowl and set aside to cool completely, then roughly chop.

Completely line an 18cm (7″) round cake tin or 25cm (10″) loaf tin with plastic wrap, with plenty overhang to cover the top.

Using an electric whisk and a large bowl or a stand mixer, beat the egg whites to firm peaks.

Combine the sugar and remaining golden syrup in a small saucepan and heat to boiling, ideally to 112°C (234°F or soft ball stage). Slowly pour into egg whites while beating on low speed, then increase the speed to high and beat for 5 minutes until the mixture is cool and thick.

Fold the fruit mince, cherries and almonds through the chilled egg yolk custard in a large bowl.

Add the meringue and fold together until there are no obvious traces of meringue.

Pour into the tin, smooth the top, cover tightly with the plastic wrap overhang and freeze for at least eight hours, preferably overnight.

Open the top of the plastic wrap, turn out of the tin onto a plate, remove the plastic wrap and cut into wedges or slices to serve.

The parfait will keep for at least a month in the freezer.

Posted in cake, dessert, ice cream, preserves, pudding, sweet | 1 Comment