Sunday, February 24, 2013

OTT chocolate brownie cookies (with caramelised white chocolate)

One of the greastest pleasures in life is a good midnight snack. It’s not often I wake up with the urge to visit the kitchen but I’ve always loved the idea of creating a culinary masterpiece in the dim light of the open fridge door. This weekend I found myself baking a batch of totally OTT (over the top) brownie cookies at 11pm on a Saturday night (don’t judge me), not because of insomnia but rather because my neighbours were throwing what felt like the biggest trance party in the Southern Hemisphere. And I’m not exaggerating. Okay maybe I am but still. And BTW it had nothing to do with the fact that I wasn’t invited okay? The occasion warranted a totes innapropes (totally innapropriate) amount of chocolate because that was all that was standing between me and dialling the po-po (police). The caramelised white chocolate filling is honestly the best thing that has ever graced my taste buds. How I have lived this long without it in my life, is a mystery and if I ever meet the person responsible for its glorious creation, my brain will explode from wonder. The white chocolate turns a beautiful golden brown in the oven and develops a toasty flavour. A pinch of sea salt flakes is all that’s standing between this stuff (I’m nicknaming it white chocolate crack) and a stint in rehab. Caramelised white chocolate FTW (for the win). Now smother gooey dark chocolate brownie cookies with the chocolate crack (warning: this will annihilate your diet but, hey, YOLO [you only live once] and all that) and you have a midnight snack that will solve all the world’s problems. After all, my neighbours will tell you that it contributed to the best party ever. True story.

Chocolate brownie cookies with caramelised white chocolate
I've used Fairtrade chocolate in honour of Fairtrade week - nothing better than eating chocolate with a clear conscience! 
Makes 12

Caramelised white chocolate
300g Fairtrade white chocolate, chopped*
1-2 tbsp vegetable oil

200g Fairtrade dark chocolate, chopped
50g Stork Bake
2 eggs
2/3 cup Selati castor sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ cup Sasko cake flour
¼ tsp baking powder
pinch of sea salt

To make the caramelised white chocolate, preheat the oven to 120C. Spread the chocolate on a baking sheet and drizzle with the oil. Place in the preheated oven for 10 minutes then remove and stir with a clean, dry spatula. Continue to cook for 30-60 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Don’t worry if the chocolate looks lumpy and chalky at some stage, it will smooth out and caramelize.
Once the chocolate is golden brown, stir in a pinch of salt. If it’s still lumpy you can place it in a food processor to smooth it out and add a little cream or oil if necessary. Store in a jar at room temperature.
To make the brownie cookies, melt the chocolate and Stork Bake together gently.
Beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla in an electric mixer for 15 minutes or until pale and creamy.
Fold in the flour, baking powder, chocolate mixture and allow to stand for 10 minutes.
Spoon tablespoons of mixture onto a lined baking sheet and bake at 180C for 8-10 minutes or until puffed and cracked.
Allow to cool completely then sandwich together with the caramelized chocolate.

*use a white chocolate with a minimum of 30% cocoa butter content for the best results

Caramelised white chocolate aka 'White chocolate crack'

And here's the clip of me making these yummy cookies on Expresso Breakfast Show this week:

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Double desserts: Peppermint crisp tart ice cream sandwiches

The sun is rising later in the mornings and setting earlier in the evenings which means that chilly autumn is rearing it's head. Ever the optimist, I am holding on to summer for as long as possible! These ice cream sandwiches are one of my favourite flavours of South African summer. Inspired by a 'local 'n lekker' dessert, peppermint crisp tart, it is made with only 4 ingredients (like the pudding which inspired it) but is a much better suitor for our steamy climate. It's so easy you can rope (read: trick) the kids in to making them (while you read a book or pour a glass of wine) and the little sarmies are great for serving after a lazy weekend  braai.

Fusing two desserts together, in this case the tart and ice cream sandwich, is one of the trendiest things to do at the moment. Banana split cheesecake, apple crumble cupcakes or smores brownies (am I making you hungry yet), you get the idea. Why? Because if you have a sweet tooth and have ever had to choose between two desserts, you'll know that it's a torturous nightmare. Two desserts in one. Problem solved! Because too much of a sweet thing is never enough! 

Photograph by Christelle Botha for Sanlam Reality

Peppermint crisp tart ice cream sandwiches
(serves 6)

1 packet (250g) coconut biscuits
250ml cream
1/2 (400g) tin caramel
1 peppermint crisp bar (80g), crumbled

Beat the cream until stiff then fold in the caramel and peppermint crisp, leaving a few swirls. Freeze the mixture in a baking dish so it’s about 2cm thick, until firm.
Once firm, arrange the tennis biscuits on top and cut the ice cream into squares. Remove each square, sandwiching another tennis biscuit on the bottom of each ice cream slice. Arrange on a baking tray and freeze again until firm. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Valentine's Desssert: Chocolate fondants with gooey liquid centres

There is not a human being on this planet that would turn down this dessert. It ticks all the boxes a dessert should - contains chocolate? Check. Decadent and gooey? Check. Not too sweet? Check. 

Just plain swoon-worthy! And before you go ahead and think it's difficult and involves effort bla bla bla, wait just a minute there, because you can make this in advance and then simply pop it in the oven 10 minutes before you wish to melt whoever's heart you're serving this to. The timing here though is key. You're going to check the fondant after 10 minutes like the recipe says, and you're going to think, Katelyn you've lost the plot this is still raw. It's not raw, it's gooey and oozing chocolatey goodness and also, when have I ever lead you astray? Never. So just trust me, it's good to go. Oh, but not without some softly whipped cream or a big scoop of vanilla bean ice cream, of course. 

Chocolate fondants
Recipe by the fabulous Zola Nene
Makes 6

100g dark chocolate, chopped
100g butter, softened
3 large eggs
85g white sugar
100g cake flour
2 tbsp cocoa powder
Pinch of salt

Melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water until smooth.
Whip the eggs and sugar together in an electric mixer until triple in size. The mixture should be light, fluffy and thick.
Sieve the flour, cocoa and salt together.
Fold the chocolate mix and the dry ingredients into the eggs alternately.
Grease and dust 6 dariole moulds or ramekins with a little cocoa powder.
Fill greased moulds with the fondant mixture and allow to rest in the fridge until ready to bake. The mixture can even be prepared the day before serving.
Bake at 180°C for 10 - 11 minutes.
Loosen the edges of the fondant from the mould then serve turned out on a plate with whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Valentine's dinner for two: Courgette, mint and prawn pasta

Valentine's Day. You either loathe it or love it - strangely enough (we're not really that surprised), this mostly depends on whether you have someone to share it with or not. If you somehow haven't noticed the ridiculous amount of red-heart-splattered paraphenalia that has littered supermarkets since Christmas, woke up today in a panic and realised it's on Thursday, then shoooosh don't worry, Katelyn is here. And I totally sympathise. 
Whether you like the day or not,  the reality is that if you have a significant other, you're going to have to treat them to something special, or face sleeping on the couch. 

 Personally, my advice is to avoid the red roses, expensive restaurants and corny cards. Instead, cook dinner. Nothing says you care more than hours slaved over a hot stove. The way to a man's (or woman's!) heart is most definitely through their stomach and this recipe is one that will be an absolute winner. What I love most about this pasta is that it has a bit of pizzaz to show that you splurged a bit, looks impressive (like you know your way around a kitchen) but in fact, is so simple and easy anyone can whip it up. If this doesn't earn you MAJOR brownie points, or a second date, then I will eat my favourite pink spatula. Deal? And because I love you all so much, check in again during the week as I'll share a no-flop liquid-centred chocolate fondant recipe. Gooey and decadent enough to melt any heart. You can thank me later.

Photography by Angie Lazaro

Courgette coriander and prawn pasta
Serves 2

olive oil, for frying
1 small onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely crushed
1/2 glass white wine
1/4 cup brandy
1 cup cream
juice and finely grated zest of 1 small lemon
sea salt and white pepper
300g prawn meat, defrosted, drained well on paper towel, shells removed
3-4 small courgettes or baby marrows, in ribbons (made with a veggie peeler)
200g dried linguine pasta (or any other pasta such as penne, tagliatelle or even lasagne sheets)
2 tbsp freshly chopped parsley
2 tbsp freshly chopped coriander
2 tbsp freshly chopped mint
toasted pine nuts, for garnish (optional)

Begin by making the pasta sauce; heat a little olive oil in a pan and gently saute the onions and garlic until soft and translucent. Add the white wine and brandy and simmer until almost all the liquid has evaporated. Add the cream and simmer until slightly thickened. Add the lemon juice and zest and season with salt and white pepper. Set aside. 
Bring a large pot of boiling salted water to a boil and cook the pasta until tender and al dente. Drain the pasta, leaving a little water in the bottom of the pot. Toss in the pasta with a drizzle of olive oil.
While the pasta is cooking, heat another pan with olive oil until hot then flash-fry the prawns until pink. Add the courgette ribbons and season well. Stir through the herbs. 
Toss the pasta in the white wine sauce and divide between two plates. Top with the courgettes and prawns then sprinkle with a little extra chopped herbs and a sprinkling of the pine nuts. Wait for compliments. 

Photography by Angie Lazaro

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Chocolate meringue gateau

World Nutella Day is here and personally, I will be keeping it simple by celebrating with a jar and a spoon. But, if you'd rather make more of an occasion out of the day, then decadence is the key. This gateau is a marriage of meringue, shortcrust pastry, chocolate, nuts and of course, Nutella. Meringue is simplicity at its sweetest – soft pillows of marshmallow with a crisp outer crust created out of nothing more than whipped egg whites and sugar. Combine this lightness with layers of rich chocolate and whipped cream and you have a dessert that will get any chocolate-lover’s heart a-flutter! It certainly got mine going!

Photography by Angie Lazaro 

Chocolate meringue gateau
(serves 8-12)

8 egg whites, at room temperature
500g castor sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup pecan nuts (or other nuts), finely chopped

Shortcrust pastry
225g Sasko Cake Flour
125g cold Stork Bake, chopped
½ cup icing sugar, sifted
3 egg yolks
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp ice cold water

1 cups cream
200g dark chocolate, chopped
1 cup Nutella spread
200g white chocolate, chopped
2 cups cream
2-3T Amaretto liqueur
chocolate curls, to garnish

Place egg whites in a large bowl and whisk until soft peak stage. Gradually add the sugar in small amounts, whisking until stiff peak stage. Whisk in vanilla.
Pipe the meringue in 4 large spirals and sprinkle with the chopped nuts. Preheat the oven to 120°C, turn the oven off, prop the door open slightly with a wooden spoon and let the meringue discs dry for at least 8 hours or overnight.

Photography by Angie Lazaro 

For the pastry, place the Sasko cake flour, Stork bake and icing sugar in the bowl of a food processor and process in short bursts until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. While the motor is running, add the egg yolk and vanilla. Add the iced water and process until the dough just comes together. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and bring together to form a ball. Flatten into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 180ºC. Roll the pastry out to 3mm thick. Cut the pastry into a disc the same size as your meringue spirals. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden.

Photography by Angie Lazaro 

To make the fillings, heat the cream and pour ½ cup over each of the dark chocolate and white chocolate and stir until melted. Allow to cool. Place the pastry disc on a serving plate. Whip the cream with the liqueur. Spread the dark ganache on the pastry disc and spread with whipped cream follow with a meringue disc, the Nutella spread, more whipped cream, another disc, the white chocolate, the final disc and then finish with more cream. Refrigerate for 3 -4 hours before serving. Decorate with chocolate curls or drizzle with melted chocolate and top with chopped nuts. 

Photography by Angie Lazaro