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chocolate

Nutella Pop Tarts!

May 10, 2010

Nutella Pop Tarts

I have a confession to make: I have never bought a pop tart in my life, ever. And although I went ahead and made strawberry pop tarts after finding a gorgeous recipe online, I didn’t really have anything to compare them with. So I couldn’t say things like “Oh it was the even better than the store bought one that awfully dry and has a tonne of preservatives and whatnot.” And frankly, it didn’t bother me much because the ones I made got rave reviews from all the eaters and the cutesy photos garnered some Stumble love as well.

Today, with some leftover pie dough in my freezer and a bottle of Nutella staring at me from across the room, I realised it was high time I ripped open the seal of that bottle for some Nutella happiness. One spoon for me, one spoon for the pop tarts seemed like a good ratio when it came to dolloping the pie dough with the Nutella; and that’s exactly what I did.

Making Nutella Pop Tarts

All you need is some pie dough and Nutella.
  • Start by rolling out and cutting into 1×3 inch rectangles.
  • Next, dollop some Nutella chocolate cream on the dough, making sure it’s only on one of the short edges and not too close to it.
  • Then fold the other side over the Nutella and seal the edges by gently pinching the sides with your fingers and then crimping the edges with a fork.
  • Pop this into the fridge for about 15 minutes
  • Once that’s done, remove it and bake it in a preheated oven at 170C/350F for 10-12 minutes.
  • Next, pull it out to brush it with a little egg wash for a nice, golden sheen.
  • Pop it back into the oven for another 5-7 minutes.
  • Letting it cool afterward is optional because, well, it’s Nutella! The only thing I’d do differently is find a way to maintain the gooey texture of Nutella instead of letting it dry out into the pie dough. I thought not poking the tops with knives and forks might help  keep the moisture in, but I was wrong. Maybe next time I will thin it down with a little cream. But then I’m afraid, everything will get too mushy. What do you think?

Nutella Pop Tarts

For reference:

PS: I’ve just moved to WordPress over the weekend, so if you face any trouble or find any broken links, please let me know? Thank you!

{ 75 comments }

Rich Chocolate Tart

May 7, 2010

Chocolate tart

I had been craving a chocolate tart for the longest time before I actually made one for myself. I didn’t want something that was simply filled with a soft ganache, but something a little more wicked: something with lots of cream and butter and eggs.

To fulfill this long standing hankering, I found the perfect tart filling recipe on Traveler’s Lunchbox and used the tart base recipe from the Ottolenghi cookbook (a cookbook so colourful, and so refreshing, I wish I used it more often.). The filling turned out to be soft, silky, and intensely chocolate-y; I don’t think I’m going to need another recipe for a chocolate tart. The key to is blind bake the tart, cool it, and then add the filling and bake until the sides look puffed up and the centre is still mushy. I refrigerated mine because I wanted the centre to set, but if you’d like a soft centre, you can eat it while it’s still warm.

This basic recipe can be spruced up depending on what you feel like on a particular day, or what’s in season on your side of the world. I can imagine them tasting so good with fresh raspberries or strawberries and a dollop of softly whipped cream. Another option would be to use your favourite liqueur in the chocolate batter. I used some hazelnut extract I made which was fantastic.

But you know the best part about making this chocolate tart? Watching my petite grandmum (who has an apetite of a bird) polish off two slices of the tart after her dinner! She loved it so much that when I shared it with a few friends the next day, she made me bake some more.

Chocolate tart

Rich Chocolate Tart
Yield: 1 8-9 inch tart

 

Tart shell
Adapted from: The Ottolenghi Cookbook (
USA | UK | India)

In case you’re looking for tips on making the perfect tart dough, head over to Pie Dough 101.

 

Ingredients:

12 0z (330g) plain flour
3.5oz (100g) icing sugar
6 oz (180g) butter
1 egg yolk
2 tbsp cold water


 

Chocolate Filling

 

 

 

Adapted from: The Traveler’s Lunchbox

 

Ingredients:

8 oz (225g) dark chocolate
6 tablespoons (90g) butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup (80ml) heavy cream
1/4 cup (50g) sugar
1 teaspoon hazelnut extract
cocoa powder for dusting

 

Equipment:

a 9 inch (20-cm) tart pan
Pastry blender (optional)

 

Method:

 

  1. Put the flour and icing sugar into a bowl and rub the butter either with your finger with gentle, quick movements or with a pastry cutter until you achieve breadcrumb like texture. Add the egg yolks and cold water until the mixture comes together.
  2. Remove the dough from the bowl and knead gently. Flatten to form a thick disk and wrap it in cling film and chill it for at least an hour.
  3. Roll out the dough to 3-4 mm (1/8th inch) thickness and line the tart pan, making sure you press it well into the pan. Prick the dough with a fork and fill it up with dried beans and bake in a preheated oven at 170C/340F for about 17-20 minutes until it looks slightly golden and firm. Let it cool.
  4. For the filling: Melt the chocolate and butter in a saucepan over low heat, stirring until smooth, then remove from the heat and cool for 5 minutes. Whisk together the eggs, cream, sugar, and hazelnut extract in a bowl. Whisk the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture until combined.
  5. Pour the filling into the cooled crust. Bake until the filling 1 inch from edges is set and slightly puffed but center wobbles when pan is gently shaken, 20 to 25 minutes. (The center will continue to set as it cools.)
  6. Dust with cocoa powder when cool. Eat!

 

 

{ 36 comments }

Buttery Buckwheat Nibby Cookies

Or rather, these should be called dangerously buttery buckwheat nibby cookies. I’ve made this cookie recipe a few times ever since my friend Kishi sent me a bag of Valrhona cacao nibs and they’ve been a hit every single time. These buckwheat cookies definitely won’t win a beauty pagent, but that’s hardly going to be a point of contention when you bite into the crumbly cookie and your mouth is filled with buttery richness and nibby nuttiness.

So, what are cacao nibs? Cacao nibs are shelled and roasted cacao beans. They have a crunchy texture with a bitter chocolatey flavour. If you’re a fan of dark chocolate, falling in love with cacao nibs is a no-brainer. Had on their own, nibs seem like a distant cousin of the coffee bean, but only nuttier and more flavourful (note: opinion may be biased because I don’t care much about coffee). And if you really need another reason to buy these then beat this – cacao nibs is one of the top brain health foods.

Ever since I first had cacao nibs in a bar of Scharffen Berger dark chocolate nibby, I’m a fan. I even put some of it in amolten chocolate cake, and my, did the nuttiness of the nibs shine through the silky-smooth texture! You can use them in baked goods just like you use nuts, chocolate chips or poppy seeds! I even used them as a garnish for the lusciouscaramel chocolate tartlets!

But now, back to the cookie – go make it soon! And if you don’t have cacao nibs, dried and ground whole vanilla beans might be fun and supremely flavourful too!

Buttery Buckwheat Nibby Cookies

Buttery Buckwheat Nibby Cookies

Yield: 40 cookies
Adapted From: Pure Dessert, Alice Medrich

1 1/4th cup (5.6 oz) flour
3/4th cup (3oz) buckwheat flour
1 cup (8 oz/2 sticks) butter (unsalted is preferable)
2/3rd cup sugar
1/3rd cup caco nibs
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

  1. Preheat the oven to 175C/350F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Sift together the all-purpose flour as well as buckwheat flour in a bowl. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, or in a larger mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar and salt (if using) until smooth and creamy, but not fluffy.
  4. Mix in the beans and the vanilla.
  5. Stir in the flour and gently knead until it forms a small dough.
  6. Form a 12*2 inches log and then refrigerate it for a few hours or overnight.
  7. Now cut pieces from a log, just like you would for refrigerator cookies.
  8. Lay them out on the cookie sheet and bake them in the oven for 10-12 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown.

Note: The cookies are quite delicate and will be relatively soft when they’ve just emerged from the oven so make sure to let the cookies cool on the parchment before you pick them up! Yep, this is the hardest part!

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Still craving for more Cookie Recipes?!
Nutella Pinwheel Cookies
Black Forest Cookies
Valentine Linzer Cookies
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Milan Cookies
Cheddar Cheese Biscuits

{ 22 comments }

Hazelnut Chocolate Truffles

February 12, 2010

Chocolate Truffles
I love chocolate truffles for two reasons:
  1. You have an excuse to grab the best chocolate in your pantry.
  2. Truffles freeze really well. This gives you a chance to make lots of them and simply freeze them. Just pull them out whenever you feel the sudden compulsive need to satiate your chocolate craving. Like right now, at 2 am on a quiet Friday morning.
I could lengthen this list, but you don’t really need any convincing to make chocolate truffles, do you?
Now some of you might think that truffle-making is a fancy art, one that only a pro-chocolatier is adept at. Wrong. With three simple ingredients (chocolate, cream and your choice of coating) and a basic understanding of the process, you will be on your way to rolling out the most stunning chocolate creations.
And with V-day just around the corner, you can make truffles as presents for your loved one… even if you don’t know how to cook! (Thank you, whoever you are. I’m going to assume you’re hanging around here for the photography and writing (maybe?), so I’m flattered.)
Dark chocolate, hazelnut, milk chocolate
I’m always looking at trying out different newer varieties for my truffles, so I’ve listed a whole bunch of variations that might be worth a try. This list is nowhere close to being exhaustive. I hope to update this with newer ideas and flavour combinations, so do share what you have on your mind in the discussion below. You can get creative and make a flavour that suits you best. But please don’t make a truffle with rice crispies or citrus peel, dust it with matcha, and then come back and tell me that your girlfriend almost choked on it. However, if you work at Patrick Roger’s and think this could be your next signature truffle (and maybe looking to hire someone), then Comment ça va?!
Chocolate Ganache
Truffle Flavour variations:
To stir into cream:
  • Alcohol – raspberry, kirsch, kahlua, baileys, Cointreau, grand marnier, Amaratto
  • Pistachio paste
  • Gianduja
  • Caramel
Or for steeping in cream (bring the cream to a boil with any of the following, and let it sit for at least 20 minutes. Bring it to a boil again to pour over chocolate):
  • Espresso powder or any other flavouring powder you may want to include
  • Citrus peel
  • Fresh fragrant flowers like rose petals (I’m so excited to try this!)
  • Hot Spices: ginger, chilli powder, black pepper
  • Sweet Spices: vanilla beans, cinnamon, cardamom
  • Herbs: lemongrass, mint, rosemary, lemon balm leaves, kefir lime leaves, thyme
And/or stir into chocolate ganache:
  • Roasted, chopped nuts
  • Rice crispies
  • Chopped white chocolate
And finally the coatings:
  • The ubiquitous cocoa powder
  • Roasted, chopped nuts: walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, pecans
  • Shredded coconut
  • Candied fruits and flowers
  • Tempered chocolate
The garnish (optional or when tempered chocolate is used as a coating):
  • Vanilla bean seeds mixed into white chocolate and spooned over each truffle
  • Matcha powder
  • Sea salt
Chocolate Truffles

 

Given my love for hazelnut, it’s no surprise that I made truffles with roasted hazelnuts. I crushed them into really, really tiny morsels (this allows you to just feel the subtle crunch and flavour that comes through, without biting into a chunk of it.) And to maintain the distinctness of textures of chocolate and hazelnut, I sifted the crushed hazelnuts and let go of the hazelnut fairy dust. I’m not a very bitter-chocolatey person, so I used 50% milk chocolate that orangefoodie got me from Paris (the Paris post is next, I promise!)
To make these truffles I consulted none other than Alice Medrich’s Bittersweet. This book of hers is one that every chocolate lover must own. Although I’ve probably said it many times before, I don’t think I can praise this book enough. This is the only one you’ll need to refer to for anything to do with chocolate. Quite like how  Dorie Greenspan’s Baking From My Home to Yours is for baking.

 

Chocolate Truffles - WIP
Hazelnut Truffles
Makes: 50 truffles
8 oz. / 225g. bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I used 4 oz bittersweet and 4 oz. milk)
1 cup/ 200g. heavy cream
2 oz. / 60g. hazelnuts, toasted, then chopped up and sifted
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  1. To make the ganache: Place the chocolate in a medium bowl and set aside. In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a boil over a low heat. Pour it over the chocolate and let it stand for 2 minutes, then stir gently, until the chocolate has completed melted. Let it cool a bit, after which you can stir in the chopped hazelnuts. Next, get a shallow container and line it with parchment paper. Pour the ganache on it and spread evenly. Refrigerate this for 4 hours or overnight.
  2. To form truffles: Once the ganache has firmed up, score lines on the sheet of ganache inn the box to give you 50 squares. This way, you can achieve even sized truffles. Now pluck each square from the parchment and roll it into a 1 inch ball. Depending on how warm your environment is, you might need to refrigerate the rolled truffles for another hour before you can coat them.
  3. Coat the truffles: Once rolled into balls, toss them in a plate of sifted cocoa and coat them evenly.

{ 50 comments }

Chocolate Mousse
Chocoholics – you’re going to love this!
I made a chocolate mousse the other day and I cannot begin to tell you how delicious it was. I’m usually the kind who feels squeamish about having raw eggs in my desserts – especially yolks, but in this mousse you just can’t tell. Make sure to use really fresh eggs. And if you are still worried about it being raw, I suggest you use pasteurised eggs, and if you’re in India where such a category of eggs is unheard of, then simply pasteurise them at home. It’s easy.
White Chocolate Shavings
The chocolate mousse is so rich, so silky and it feels so wonderful in the mouth that you’re going to get hooked on to it. And because you can make this in no time, you can treat yourself to a luxurious chocolate dessert whenever you feel that urge to satiate a chocolate craving. Really – just read the steps below and you will know. For the best flavour, remember to use the finest chocolate you can get your hands on and you will be on your way to chocolate heaven.
I referred to the chocolate mousse recipe that I found in Pure Chocolate as well as the one on Smitten Kitchen to arrive at my version of chocolate mousse. You should totally try it. And let me warn you – sharing this is going to be hard.
Chocolate Mousse
Chocolate mousse
Yield: 6-8 servings
8 ounces / 225g bittersweet chocolate (no more than 60% cacao), chopped
3/4 stick / 3 oz / 75g unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
3 large eggs, separated
1/4th cup sugar
1 cup / 200g very cold heavy or whipping cream
2 ounces / 60g white chocolate shavings
  1. In a large bowl, set over a saucepan of simmering water, melt the chocolate and butter and stir until smooth. Remove from the saucepan and switch off the heat.
  2. In the same saucepan (now with the heat turned off), set a small bowl and beat yolks and sugar with your electric mixer until thick enough to form a ribbon that takes a few seconds to dissolve — this will take about two to four minutes to achieve. Whisk yolks into chocolate mixture.
  3. In the bowl of a KitchenAid, beat the egg whites until they just hold soft peaks. Remove from bowl and set aside.
  4. In the bowl, whip up the cream until it just holds stiff peaks.
  5. Fold the whipped cream and beaten whites into the chocolate mixture, gently but thoroughly. Transfer to 8 (4 ounce) ramekins and sprinkle with the white chocolate shavings. Let the mousse set in the fridge for about an hour before serving.
    Note: The mousse will keep for upto two days in the refrigerator.

{ 34 comments }

Chocolate Caramel Tartlets

January 20, 2010

Chocolate Caramel Tartlets

Or better still the title of this post should be Oh. My. Goodness. Because that’s what I said when I bit into this luscious caramel tartlet covered with a thick layer of dark chocolate and then sprinkled with some nutty cacao nibs.

These tartlets are small and delicate with a buttery, almost cookie like crust layered with rich, thick caramel and stiff dark chocolate topped off with a few precious Valhrona cacao nibs (or some sea salt, if you like). I earnestly urge you to have this recipe in your repertoire because this really doesn’t get better than this. Need another reason? You can make these much ahead of time when you have guests coming over. Even though I’d made 24 such tartlets, I didn’t get enough to satiate my caramel-cravings so I made yet another batch for myself today. I can’t make up my mind about what I liked most about them – each of the 4 distinct layers: crust, caramel, chocolate, nibs/salt blew my mind. I was afraid the caramel would be too sweet for my liking, but the bittersweet chocolate and the mellow crust did an excellent job setting off the sweetness, and the salt gave it a well rounded flavour coupled with a classy touch. I’d never been a fan of salt in my dessert, but with this tart, I’m a changed person.

Chocolate Caramel Tartlets
I look for every opportunity I can to use vanilla beans, so I split and scraped half a bean to use for the caramel. What I also did was let the bean sit in the warm caramel for some more of the vanilla goodness to infuse into it. Doesn’t the caramel look beautiful with those specks of vanilla?
So, since I made them twice, I tried them with a chocolate ganache, as the recipe prescribes and then this time, I melted bittersweet chocolate with 2 tablespoons of milk just so that the chocolate loosens up a bit and isn’t too firm to the bite when it has set. I liked it more this way.
Caramel Chocolate Tartlets
Chocolate Caramel Tart
Adapted from: Lottie and Doof and the original recipe is by Claudia Fleming (I so want her book!)
Yield: 1 10 inch tart or 24 small tartlets
For the Chocolate Tart Dough
8 tbsp / 1 stick / 112g unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
For the Caramel Filling
1/2 cup water
2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup / glucose
1/2 cup heavy cream preferable (I used Amul)
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons crème fraîche (I added extra cream because this is hard to find!)
For the Chocolate Layer
3 1/2 ounces extra-bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 tbsp milk
Final touch
Sea salt or cacao nibs
  1. To make the tart dough: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and confectioners’ sugar until combined, about 1 minute. Add egg yolk and vanilla, and beat until smooth. Sift in flour and cocoa powder, and beat on low speed until just combined. Scrape the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap, and form it into a disk; wrap well. Chill until firm for at least 1 hour. You can keep this refrigerated upto to 3 days.
  2. Preheat oven to 325°F/160°C. On a lightly floured surface, roll the tart dough 3/16th inch thick and cut out dough with a round cookie cutter that is slightly larger than the tartlet mould. Transfer it to the mould and press it in gently, especially the corner of the base so that it fits securely. Alternatively, you could make a 10 inch large tart as well. Just roll the dough out in a circle and transfer the fluted tart pan with a removable bottom and press into pan. If it falls apart at all just push it back together in the pan. Chill the tart shell in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  3. Prick the shell all over with a fork. Blind bake for 10-15 minutes until done. Let it cool for another 10 minutes or so before removing the tarlets from the moulds. Transfer them to a wire rack to cool. (The tart shell can be made 8 hours ahead.)
  4. To make the filling: Place 1/2 cup water in a large saucepan. Add sugar and corn syrup, and cook mixture over medium-high heat, swirling the pan occasionally, until it becomes a dark-amber caramel (I removed it when it was sort of a medium amber since I knew it would continue to cook off heat), about 10 minutes. Remove pan from heat and carefully (the mixture will bubble up) and slowly add the heavy cream followed by the butter and crème fraîche. Stir until smooth. (The caramel can be made up to 5 days ahead and refrigerated in a covered container.) Pour the caramel into the cooled tart shell and allow to set, first at room temperature and then in the refrigerator.
  5. To make the chocolate layer: Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over simmering water. Add two tablespoons of milk for a softer texture. Spoon this over on individual chocolates and immediately top with cacao nibs or sea salt, whichever you prefer before the chocolate sets. Serve!

{ 45 comments }

Chocolate Hazelnut Marbled Cake

Before I get to the delicious cake, I want to tell you about the big news I was holding on to a while ago.

If you’re following me on Twitter or Facebook, you might have heard me gushing about finally signing ‘the contract’.No, it’s not some corporate contract boohockey or a typical 9-5 job. This contract is my entry into the world I’ve only dreamed about until now. It’s a world full of butter, sugar and flour – a world I know I’m going to be happy in. Starting January 2010 I will work for a lovely, first-of-its-kind, startup French pâtisserie here in Bombay. Here, I’ll work with two absolutely amazing chefs from Le Cordon Bleu, Paris. When I first baked with them, the day went by quickly and I lost complete track of time – that’s when I knew that this is my kind of place. The two of them are so professional and so much fun at the same time. I’m going to love it here!

I’m sure as hell going to miss orangefoodie and my friends at my current workplace, but I know this is one step closer to where I want to be. 5 years ago, when I learned about Le Cordon Bleu cooking school and got my hands on their brochures, I knew I had to study there – I just had to. Back then, my parents didn’t take my passion so seriously and thought my interests were as fleeting as summer, and cooking/baking for a living sounded absolutely ludicrous to them. Luckily, they are so much more supportive of the career switch now more than ever. I am so thrilled about this – my dream of baking for a living is finally becoming a reality.

Here’s a wonderfully moist chocolate hazelnut marbled cake that I made yesterday. I used Dorie Greenspan’s mocha walnut bundt cake recipe as a framework to create this cake. I substituted  hazelnuts for walnuts and cocoa for espresso. While recipes usually call for milk at room temperature, I’ve noticed that using warm or hot milk is important for producing really soft cakes that makes all the difference. Don’t be scared, the hot milk won’t cook the eggs. My mom wolfed down most of the cake and asked for more to take for my grandmom.

Chocolate Hazelnut Marbled Cake

Chocolate Hazelnut Marbled Cake
Adapted from: Baking From My Home to Yours -Dorie Greenspan
Yield: 1 large bundt cake

2 ½ /310g cups flour
½ / 100g cup ground hazelnuts
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
9oz. / 250g. butter
3oz./ 85g. bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
1 tsp cocoa powder
1 1/4th cup hot milk
1 3/4th /350g cup sugar
4 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F/160C. Butter a 10 inch bundt pan or a loaf pan and dust the inside with flour. Tap out the excess flour.
  2. Whisk together the flour, ground hazelnuts, baking powder and salt.
  3. In a heatproof bowl set over simmering water, melt 2 tbsp butter with cocoa and chocolate. Heat until the chocolate and butter have melted and the mixture is smooth. Set aside.
  4. In a bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl, mix together the butter and sugar for about 3-4 minutes – this will look like a thick paste.
  5. Beat the eggs in one at a time, until the mixture looks smooth. Add the vanilla extract.
  6. Now either on a reduced speed, or by folding in by hand, add the flour and hot milk alternately, starting and finishing off with flour (so, flour-milk-flour-milk-flour)
  7. Now take a little less than half the flour and mix it with the chocolate mixture that you set aside earlier. Stir till it is thoroughly blended – don’t overdo it.
  8. What I did was add the white mixture then the chocolate mixture and then the white mixture again into the bundt pan and then run a knife through it once or twice for very visibly distinct two layers. For a pronounced marbled look, stir the knife through the batter a few more times.
  9. Bake for 55-65 minutes or until the knife comes out clean. Let it cool for 10 minutes or so before unmoulding.
  10. Slice and eat! It’s lovely with some mascarpone dusted with caster sugar or some chocolate sauce.

{ 43 comments }

Chocolate Chip Shortbread

December 1, 2009

Chocolate Chip Shortbread

Or, instead, this post should be titled ‘I Love Dorie Greenspan’.

The more recipes I try from her book Baking: From My Home to Yours, the more I feel like I don’t need any other baking book. I love how each recipe is written so beautifully with personal notes from experience and ideas for variation. There hasn’t been a single recipe that hasn’t worked for me yet. Be it the Lemon Poppy Seed Cupcakes, or the soft and chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies (you must click through, just for the pictures of the giant chocolate chips!), or the Apple Crumb Cake which I adapted from her Blueberry Crumb Cake recipe.

My latest venture from her book is the Chocolate Chip Shortbread. While I skipped the espresso in the recipe, given my aversion to coffee, you should definitely go ahead and add 1 tablespoon of espresso dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water and mix it in along with the vanilla. Also, while Ms. Greenspan uses unsalted butter, I would really recommend using salted butter for this recipe so you get the more evenly distributed taste instead of simply sprinkling it on top of the cookies, as this NY Times article on Chocolate Chip cookie suggests.

And something totally cool about the recipe is that you roll it in a Ziploc bag – gives you the most perfectly even edges so there is no re-rolling the scraps! (I used cling film for one batch because I was out of Ziploc bags.)

Chocolate Chip Shortbread - WIP

With one batch, I put the cookies back into the oven for another 3 minutes after they had cooled. Made them even more crisp and literally lived up to the name of a biscuit (twice baked).

The verdict? Supremely buttery. The shortbread cookies got over sooner than I wanted them to. I’ve made them twice already. I’m going to make them with roasted hazelnuts the next time.

Chocolate Chip Shortbread

Chocolate Chip Shortbread

Yield: 32 cookies

2 sticks / 8 oz. /225g salted butter, at room temperature
2/3 / 130g cup caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups / all-purpose flour
4 oz. / 112g bittersweet chocolate (finely chopped, or 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting (optional)

  1. Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until the mixture is very smooth. Beat in the vanilla (and espresso, if you are using), then reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour, mixing only until it disappears into the dough. Don’t work the dough much once the flour is incorporated. Fold in the chopped chocolate with a rubber or silicone spatula.
  2. Using the spatula, transfer the soft, sticky dough to a gallon-size zipper-lock plastic bag. Put the bag on a flat surface, leaving the top open, and roll the dough into a rectangle that’s 1/4 inch thick. As you roll, turn the bag occasionally and lift the plastic from the dough so it doesn’t cause creases. When you get the right size and thickness, seal the bag, pressing out as much air as possible, and refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours, or for up to 2 days.
  3. Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 325 F/160C. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
  4. Put the plastic bag on a cutting board and slit it open. Turn the firm dough out onto the board (discard the bag) and, using a ruler as a guide and a sharp knife, cut the dough into 1 – 1.5 inch squares. Transfer the squares to the baking sheets and carefully prick each one twice with a fork, gently pushing the tines through the cookies until they hit the sheet.
  5. Bake for 15-17 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point. The shortbreads will be very pale–they shouldn’t take on much color. Transfer the cookies to a rack.
  6. If you’d like, dust the cookies with confectioners’ sugar while they are still hot. Cool the cookies to room temperature before serving.

P.S. To double the fun, try this delicious chocolate chip cake!

{ 51 comments }

Banana Bread Slice
Doesn’t everyone just love a thick slice of banana bread?
And coupled with a glass of cold milk or a dollop of whipped cream, it makes for an offer that is hard to turn down.

But what if it has crystallised ginger and a good handful of chocolate chips thrown in? Yes. Just as I thought – you will sit up, take notice, and quickly bookmark this recipe.

Or you won’t. Crystallised ginger in banana bread? Uh, no way!

Chocolate chips + Candied Ginger
I would have been one of the folks in the second category if I were to try the recipe 6 months ago. Worse still, I’d skip the candied ginger all together (I didn’t know how easy it is to make!). But luckily for me, I not only made some really awesome crystallised ginger, but  also had a delicious gingerale concentrate in the process. Just as soon as I began relishing candied ginger, I went back to the banana bread recipe in Molly Weizenberg’s book, A Homemade Life. Here, she extolled the goodness of banana bread with crystallised ginger and chocolate chips and said that, “the flavours of banana and chocolate get along so well, and the ginger makes it even better, cutting through its richness with its spicy heat.” I knew I had to make it.
Like most recipes that call for banana, this one too requires ripe bananas. But, I’m not a huge fan of a strong banana-ey fragrance in the bread and neither do I fancy using bananas that are dark, black, spotted and ugly. I always use bananas that are ready to be eaten. Also, once this is baked, you will be tempted to eat this straight out of the oven, but hang on, the banana bread tastes a lot better the next day.  Just let the flavours play together overnight – you will taste the difference, I promise! Oh, and the best part is finding the pockets of melted chocolate as you take one bite after another.
Banana Bread Loaf

Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips and Crystallised Ginger
Yield: 1 large loaf that serves 8
Adapted From: A Homemade Life

6 tbsp / 3 oz. / 90g. butter
2 cups all purpose flour
3/4th cup sugar
3/4th tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt (skip this if you’re using salted butter, like me)
3/4th cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/3rd – ½ cup crystallised ginger – chopped finely or into strips for a more recognisable bite.
2 large eggs
1 ½ cups mashed bananas (approx 3 large bananas)
1/4th cup yoghurt
1 tsp vanilla extract

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9- by 5-inch loaf pan with butter or cooking spray, and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, melt the butter in the microwave or atop a double boiler. Set aside to cool.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Add the chocolate chips and crystallised ginger. Set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl, lightly beat the eggs with a fork and add the mashed bananas, yoghurt, melted butter, and vanilla and mix well.
  5. Pour the banana mixture into the dry ingredients and gently fold in the batter with a silicone spatula, incorporating all the dry ingredients until it looks like it has come together. It’s okay if it looks kinda lumpy.
  6. Pour the batter into the loaf tin and bake in the oven for 50-60 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.
  7. Let the banana bread cool in the pan for 5 minutes before transferring to the cooling rack.
  8. Cut yourself a slice, because you can hardly wait – and let the entire loaf cool completely.

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