What does the last of the housewives do?

Tag: the good cookie

Little Coconut Cakes

At least I’ve had some warning this time. Also prior experience. “Mum, can I take something in for the last choir of term?”

The first time I had this request from the Horror it was half an hour before we left for choir, so as I always strive to be a good parent I told him to go jump in the lake. Having learned this lesson I’ve been able to ratchet the request back to a much more reasonable forty eight hours prior. This even enables us to work out what baked good he’d like to take. He’s rather enamoured of something I had a crack at yesterday, namely mini coconut cakes. As they’re almost all gone, I’ve just made another batch. I’ll have to hide them so he has some to take in tomorrow morning.

First, locate some coconut. I like to get mine in flake form from The Source, in Balmain.

A quick visit to the Thermomix turns it into a very fresh tasting desiccated coconut.

One also needs coconut milk. I was able to persuade myself that the ancient tin dug out of the back of the cupboard contained something still edible, no really, it was fine. I tasted it and everything.

Cream together ninety grams of butter with three quarters of a cup of sugar. Add a teaspoon of vanilla essence and an egg and cream some more. Add an egg yolk and incorporate that also. I found some nifty little glass saucers with lids for keeping just such a thing as left over egg whites.

Was it at Peters of Kensington? I can’t remember. But I used some egg whites that had been kept this way for two weeks in the fridge only yesterday, they made excellent meringues.

Add three quarters of a cup of flour and beat that in. Add a third of a cup of coconut milk and the zest and juice of half a lemon and beat that in. Add a third of a cup more of flour and a third of a cup of desiccated coconut and beat that in. Spoon into greased mini muffin tins. Or these saucer shaped things that I think I inherited from my Nanna.

Bake at 160 degrees for about twenty minutes, or until turning golden on top. Don’t they come out a cute shape?

I’ve adapted the recipe from Coconut Tea Cakes in the ever reliable Good Cookie, by Tish Boyle. I have modified a few things. I added the lemon, I love citrus and coconut. I’d like to try lime, but it’s sometimes a bit funny when you cook it, especially the zest. The recipe book suggests sweetened shredded coconut, but I spit on that suggestion. Why can’t Americans sweeten things as they go, or would it be too shocking to see how much sugar they eat? Or are they just trying to use up all the corn syrup? There’s also a fancy frosting to go on top, but I’m not bothering. Too hard to store.

Of course what will happen is that The Horror will take these in tomorrow morning and some kid will have brought in Krispy Kremes. Then the Horror will eat half of the coconut cakes himself at recess and make himself some friends with the other half. Whatever, I’ve done my bit. The housewife’s honour is satisfied.


Raspberry Linzer Thingo

There are still many recipes in Tish Boyle’s The Good Cookie that I want to try and I’ve had my eye on this one for a while. I’ll tell you at the outset that it tastes fantastic, but it’s no good at all. Have a go at it after I’ve gone through a few iterations. It’s a texture thing.

I’m going to give you the recipe anyway. Grind together half a cup of slivered almonds, half a cup of hazelnuts and half a cup of caster sugar. If you have a terrific almost brand new blender, this will take seconds. If your almost brand new blender is taking a holiday in Western Australia you’ll need to do this in four batches in your twenty year old coffee grinder. I’m not bitter. Much.

In your far more reliable KitchenAid, mix 270 grams of butter with a third of a cup of brown sugar. I think this may be my problem. The recipe specifies 9 tablespoons of butter, and I’m using a conversion of thirty grams to the tablespoon. What kind of measurement is a tablespoon? Crazy Americans. Anyway, it’s clearly too much. Next time I make this, and I will, I’ll be using significantly less butter. Maybe just 200 grams. We’ll see. Beat in an egg. Beat in the ground nuts and sugar mixture, also half a teaspoon of vanilla extract and a quarter of a teaspoon of almond essence. Don’t mess with the flavours, they’re just right. Add one and a half cups of plain flour, a teaspoon of baking powder, half a teaspoon of cinnamon, one quarter of a teaspoon of ground cloves (you want them very finely ground, they’re very strong), and a quarter of a teaspoon of salt. Mix it up until it just comes together.

The second problem is that this is a very large amount of dough. The recipe suggests pressing two thirds of it into a lined square cake tin, spreading it with raspberry jam, then messing about with cutting the rest into strips and doing a fancy lattice arrangement on top with them. Because the dough was so soft with all the butter, the strips just blobbed in to each other. That’s another reason I think the butter measurement was wrong. I think next time I’d spread the dough out into a larger slice pan and possibly still do the lattice thing with the firmer dough. You’d need more than half a cup of raspberry jam, so buy more than one jar. Bake it at 160 degrees for about thirty five minutes.

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You can see that it’s very soft, but the taste is sensational. It’s definitely going in my morning tea repertoire. Once I get it right.

Edited to note that a friend has very kindly pointed out, restraining herself from all forms of mockery, that a tablespoon is only fifteen grams. Doesn’t that explain a lot? In my very poor defence, I was clearly thinking of an oz. What better illustration could there be for the adoption of SI units?

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.