What does the last of the housewives do?

Tag: chocolate

Better Choc Mint Slice

It’s been a long day, and I’m now officially only treasurer for one organisation again. I could blog about the Oscars, but I didn’t watch them and haven’t seen any of the movies nominated except The Hobbit. I think Twitter does a pretty good summary, and it really looks like metallic is having a moment, doesn’t it? I wish velvet would, also fluffy hair, but heigh ho.

What I wanted to tell you about was that I’ve had another crack at chocolate peppermint slice, and I really think I’m getting there. I’ve done more of a pastry base this time, with a kneaded peppermint fondant and a much harder chocolate topping. I’m also rather pleased to have come up with a recipe that uses one egg white and one egg yolk, I never get around to using leftover egg components.

The base is adapted from one in my perennial favourites, The Good Cookie. They suggest it as a good base for slices, and they’re right. You put in your mixing bowl one cup of flour, one third of a cup of caster sugar, one third of a cup of cocoa powder and 125 grams of cold butter and mix it until the whole lot resembles breadcrumbs. You then chuck in an egg yolk and two teaspoons of cold water and mix until the whole lot starts to come together in a dough like fashion. Press it into a baking paper lined slice tray and bake for about twenty five minutes. If you weren’t doing a chocolate base, you’d use one and a third cups of flour and no cocoa powder, and would probably add in half a teaspoon of vanilla essence and you could also bake until it starts to brown, but you’re not and you can’t, so don’t.

Meanwhile make the peppermint fondant. Beat the leftover egg white until soft peaks start to form, or you get bored, whichever comes first. Beat in two cups of icing sugar. Add in some peppermint essence. I used half a teaspoon, but next time I’ll go crazy and use a whole teaspoon. The fondant will taste minty enough on its own with half a teaspoon of essence, but I think you need more to go with the chocolate. You will have formed a soft dough, which you turn out onto your bench top and sprinkle it with more icing sugar. Knead it like bread dough, you’ll be dissolving the sugar crystals and making a smoother feeling mint layer. Press it onto the cooled base.

I would then leave it lying about somewhere for a few hours, or overnight. Somewhere the ants can’t get to it. The mint layer dries out, which is what I’m after, you may prefer it wetter. Then you spread it with 170 grams of dark chocolate melted together with thirty grams of butter. Harmonie, not Pepe Saya. It’s turned out to be a pretty good ratio, it gives a chocolate layer you can cut without shattering, but not too melty. I would usually melt the chocolate with the butter in a heatproof bowl over boiling water, but I got a bit daring and did it over a low flame in a little glass saucepan, stirring constantly. I got away with it too, and it was easier to scrape out of the saucepan. With the heatproof bowl I never feel I can get all the chocolate out, I have to wait for it to set and then scrape it out and eat it with a teaspoon and that sets a bad example for the children.

Perhaps not quite the canonical recipe yet, but much closer.


Bounty balls

I feel like there’s a pirate joke in there somewhere, but I’ll let it go.  I’ve learned my lesson and am doing a test run of Bounty Balls before unleashing them on the general public.  I may also need to come up with a better name.

I really love it when people give me raw ingredients.  A friend of mine recently accidentally bought two and half kilos of shaved coconut rather than the five hundred grams she’d intended.  It could happen to anyone.  She was correct in assuming I’d be delighted to take some off her hands.  Earlier this week I was trying to convert some of it into desiccated coconut in my coffee grinder, now that the hand held blender has gone into the cleanup after it refused to be a substitute for a Thermomix. The result was useable on top of a raspberry slice, but it was more of a coconut meal than little shreds.  It also smelled gorgeous and I was keen to use it something else.  Combined with my recent chocolate mint experience, the obvious choice was to have a crack at the Bounty Bar.

How people found new recipes without an entire library of cookbooks or access to Google is beyond me.  Tons of trial and error, I’ll bet.  I was surprised not to find lots of Bounty recipes, I guess people are pretty happy with the commercially available version.  The one I decided on was on, but came with a warning that it hadn’t been tested and there weren’t any reviews.  It was also half in metric and half in ozzes.  It looked like it might possibly work though, so this morning I gave it a go.

Mix together 100 grams of desiccated coconut with 200 grams of condensed milk.  If you’re processing the coconut in a twenty year old coffee grinder, be aware it will only take 20 grams at a time.  It will smell very good, though.  It’s also not the best idea to wipe out the crumbs with your finger without turning it off at the wall, but I like to live dangerously.  Start mixing in 200 grams of icing sugar.  That will be quite wet, so you work more and more in until you have a fairly stiff dough.  It actually behaves like a flour dough, I think it probably took about 300 grams for this batch.  You can knead it and everything.  Interesting.

Pinch bits off to roll into little balls, put them on a tray lined with baking paper and whack them in the freezer for ten minutes.  Meanwhile melt 300 grams of good quality dark chocolate over a double boiler.  I used metal tongs to dip the coconut balls, more lenticular than spherical, really,  into the chocolate, then placed them on a tray lined with baking paper.  Not as fiddly as it sounds.


I have them in the fridge now, but the Horror snaffled one on the way.  He snarfed it down, choked quite a lot, had two glasses of water, then asked for another.  He’s not getting one, but be warned, you can’t just breathe them in, they should be savoured.  I hope they set nicely.  Might be safest to keep them in the fridge.  Hidden behind the pickles, so the Horror can’t find them.


Shopping with the girls

Shopping is always better with girlfriends, especially if they’re taking you somewhere you’ve never been before and it’s not a shop you’d find on your own. Now I’m as fond of shoe and handbag shopping as the next girl, but this was a special experience. We went to Chef’s Warehouse.

The are many reasons I’d have never gone there by myself. It’s among the vomit splattered streets of Surry Hills and I’m allergic to driving in the Eastern Suburbs. It has a small and self effacing entrance that I’d probably miss. It says “trade only” on the door, and I always take these things very literally and slink away without making enquiries. Apparently it’s to stop locals from wandering in to buy the overproof rum they sell for Christmas cakes. So I was very pleased to be escorted.

It was a small and perfectly formed wonderland. I tried not to look at KitchenAids, I’m really not ready to go there yet. Every size of chopping board, serving dish, mixing bowl, baking tin, sieve and knives were there. Callebaut chocolate chips in flour sack sized bags. I didn’t even know they made cocoa powder. Proper recipe books, I was very tempted to buy some to even out the ratio of joke cookbooks to useful ones in my collection. I wondered why there was such a thing as a Chef’s saw, surely they’d get a butcher to deal with any bone issues? Then I thought, some of those chefs you see on TV get very cross, perhaps it’s to process recalcitrant kitchen hands into the goulash without anyone knowing. Here’s a picture of my purchases.

The baking tins are two small square ones and a longer loaf one, and my burst of mental arithmetic tells me that their volume added together will equal my square cake tin. So next time I make a fruit cake I can make three gift sized ones to chase people down the street with. I had to get the chocolate and the cocoa powder, and a peppermint essence because it’s difficult to find. As are recipes that use it, as it turns out. I’m going to have to get inventive. The little bat thing is a gnocchi paddle, every kitchen should have one. Come on, I didn’t get the tomato corer. And check out the tomato sauce bottle. I am going to be so popular when the kids get home. They may insist on sausage sandwiches for dinner. I did get a raised eyebrow from one of the gang for buying it, but they had clearly never seen Bunfight at the OK Tearooms and are therefore Missing Out.

Dark Victory Chocolate Brownies

Yes, I do need an excuse to bake brownies, and now I have two.  We’re hosting an end of season bbq for the Muffet’s team, and as we’re providing the meat I am naturally compelled to make something to have with coffee.  I’m not that fond of meat.  I’m also being nagged to make brownies by the Muffet’s schoolfriend, Lindy Lu.  Lindy loves my baking and often sends requests home with the Muffet, because her mum never bakes anything.  It makes a nice counterpoint to the Muffet, who complains that she never gets normal food in her lunchbox, like everyone else.

Even before the web it was easy to find multiple brownie recipes, everyone has a favourite.  The one I’ve been making for a while comes from The Good Cookie by Tish Boyle, and I haven’t even altered it.  Except to convert those absurd American measurements.  A stick of butter, forsooth!  How far can you get from SI??

I don’t use a double boiler, because guess who washes up?  I use a metal bowl balanced over a saucepan of boiling water and it seems to do the trick.  Place in the metal saucepan 200grams of very nice butter and 100g of dark chocolate.  These, along with the cocoa, are the ingredients that will make people beg you for the recipe, their quality makes a big difference.  I use Harmonie Organic Butter.  I was using Belcolade chocolate drops and they were quite good, but then I bought one of those chunks of Callebaut chocolate you see at Harris Farms.  Why do they sell them like that?  How on earth are you supposed to break them down?  The first one I got I just surreptitiously nibbled at until it was all gone.  The second one was fortunately exactly the right size for these brownies, which was when I realised I couldn’t go back.  Now I get Callebaut in chip form either at the IGA, or from the nice man at my local chocolate shop.

Place your bowl over the saucepan of boiling water and wait for the contents to melt.  This took about as long as making a coffee, taking a phone call from my husband to ask why his Blackberry wasn’t syncing properly (I blame Google) and reheating the coffee in the microwave.  Probably time he moved to an iPhone.  Stir it with a wooden spoon then take it off the heat.  Stir in half a cup of Dutch cocoa (mine comes in a dark brown container from Norton St Grocers and I can’t be bothered digging it out of the cupboard to get the brand), one and a quarter cups of caster sugar, and three eggs – one at a time.  I also try to get nice eggs, but I can’t say that I can taste a difference.  Then stir in one third of a cup of sour cream, once again, can’t taste the difference between Barambah Organic and Dairy Farmers, and two teaspoons of vanilla essence.  Vanilla is the salt of the sweets world, you won’t necessarily pick it as a flavour but it makes everything taste nicer.  Speaking of salt, I’ve recently started grinding a turn or two of sea salt into my brownie, but you really don’t want to overdo it.  Last, stir in half a cup of plain flour.  The recipe also suggests stirring in a cup of pecans, which sounds like a wonderful idea except, as you would have gathered by now, my family Don’t Like Bits In It.

Scrape mixture into a baking paper lined square or rectangular cake tin.  Mine is square and 20cm a side.  Bake at 160C for about 45 minutes.  It will be all cracked on the top.  I don’t bother dusting it with icing sugar, but you can if you’re a presentation kind of person.

I might have to take some to my choir committee meeting tonight, seeing as how making it delayed me sending out my treasurer’s report by at least an hour.