Monday, May 17, 2010

Choc dipped ginger biscuits


Ok, so clearly I had a baking frenzy yesterday. Cake just wasn't enough so I made these chocolate ginger biscuits as well, adapted from Best Recipes. And I swear to you, THEY ARE THE MOST DELICIOUS BISCUITS EVER. For serious. This is a hyperbole free zone. Shut up, it is. Ginger: delicious. Chocolate: even more delicious. Put them together and holy wow!

  •  2 cups flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon bicarb soda
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • generous shake of cinnamon
  • another of nutmeg
  • 125g or 4 oz butter
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons golden syrup
  • lots of finely chopped crystallised ginger
  • Chocolate of your preference
And here's how you do it. It's super easy. Put all the dry ingredients in a mixer with the cubed butter. Blend until it resembles large crumbs. Stir through the crystallised ginger. Mix the egg through the golden syrup and add to the flour mix. Stir wet and dry mixes together vigorously with a large spoon (there may still be crumbly chunky bits at this stage). Tip out onto a clean surface and press together with your hands into a doughy ball. Knead for a minute until pliable.

Then spoon the mix into walnut sized balls on baking paper lined trays, and squish them gently with your fingers to flatten them a bit.

Bake them at 160 C for 15 minutes (a bit longer if your oven isn't fan forced) so that they look like this:

While these delectable morsels are cooling, get yourself some chocolate in a microwave-proof bowl.  When melting and cooking with chocolate, you will really notice the difference between good and poor quality chocolate so get your hands on some callebaut if you know what's good for you. I used two thirds dark and one third milk.

Then microwave it until it is glossy and delightful and smooth. They key to melting chocolate in the microwave without it burning is to underdo it. Put it in for 20 seconds at a time and keep checking it. Once it's mostly melted and softened, stir it really fast, the remaining lumps will melt in the ambient heat.

Lay a sheet of clean baking paper on your bench, and have your biscuits in easy reach. Then dip half of each biscuit in the chocolate and lay on the baking paper.

Then stare at them lovingly and try not to drool.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Tea Cake

I have recently signed up to go back to study. Only in lightweight mode at the moment, but nevertheless when a hefty pile of core readings materialised in my living room recently, I decided that today would be my first proper study session in many years. Fortunately, I also remembered two things:
  1. Study requires delicious snacks in order to really be productive
  2. Study makes you housebound.
So, what better way to cope than to make a cake. And what better Sunday afternoon cake than a tea cake. A tea cake is dense and fluffy and reminds me of my Mum.  It's easy to throw together and not sickly sweet, so slices can be consumed in multiples.

Here is the secret to a scrumptious tea cake:

Butter. Great big chunks of good quality butter. With some baked goods you can get away with substituting for margarine. Tea cake is not one of those goods.

Tea cake (adapted from the Genazzano cookbook, circa 1965)

  •  5oz butter (8oz in an Australian stick, do the math)
  • 1 and a half cups caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 and a half large cups of SR flour
  • salt
  • vanilla 
  • 5 tablespoons boiling water
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 4 teaspoons cocoa
  • 2 heaped teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 oz butter, melted
Cream the butter and the sugar. Add the eggs one at a time and beat in. Then add the remaining ingredients and mix. The result will be a thick, creamy batter.

This is one cake that'll definitely have you licking the beaters clean if you know what's good for you. After cleaning the mixer with your tongue, pour into a greased sandwich loaf tin (This is important. I once used a round tin and the centre didn't cook while the edges burnt).

Bake at 180 C for 50 minutes or until the top springs back to touch. I am still adjusting to the whizbang fan forced oven in my new apartment, and the edges ended up a little too browned, but not too badly.

Make the icing by mixing together the icing ingredients into a delicious gloop, and smear over the cake while the mixture is still hot.

If you are feeling truly decadent, serve a slice warm with butter on it, and a cup of lady grey tea. Then return to your social policy reading a new and cake filled woman.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Poutine for cheats

The Friday wearies have hit me hard. I had an intense meeting today that was supposed to end with no further work, but actually ended with considerable further work. I was too tired to go out, though I was supposed to, and left the office late again. Then I couldn't ride or walk home because of my suit and heels gettup.

I had grand plans on the tram of getting home and immediately going for a long run, returning the dvds that were due back on Wednesday, hire some more, and then doing something constructive. However on getting home I immediately thought: fukkit, I'll just open a bottle of wine, make poutine and watch Masterchef.

My poutine is not nutritionally sound, nor particularly authentic. It is basically poutine made with potato gems. If you know me, you will already know how much my emotional stability and my hips owe to potato gems. It is also made with instant gravy, because I thought I had an onion, but I do not, and I am not leaving the house again. Not with all this Winter going on.

So here it is:

  • Potato gems
  • Grated cheddar
  • Instant gravy powder
  • mustard
  • onion if you have one

Put the potato gems in the oven just as the bag instructs. When they're crispy and golden brown scatter the cheddar over them and return to the oven for 5 minutes.

Make the gravy. If you have an onion, slice it thinly and sautee it in butter. Then add your instant gravy powder and hot water. If you don't have an onion, skip straight to the instant bizzo. (Obviously if you have a superior gravy method, go with that. I didn't have an onion or stock, and instant gravy seems utterly fitting for this Friday night). Bring to the boil and let it thicken, add a spoonful of mustard. I use French - after all, this is poutine. Add some black pepper if you fancy it.

Then pour your gravy into a bowl and scatter your cheesy gems on top. You could do it the other way round, but I am loathe to soggify the crispy gems by dousing them in the gravy. Instead I like them to rise above it. I feel the same way about ice-cream and waffles, but that is an anecdote for another time.

Consume with a Pinot Noir. After all people, it is Friday.