Sunday, April 5, 2015

Caramel Choc Chip Hot Cross Chelsea Buns

I LOVE hot cross buns - especially when they're toasty and dripping with salted butter. They're just heavenly! But the worst thing about making them is waiting for that pesky yeast to rise - which can take anything from half an hour to half a day! And when you have a craving that is literally forever! So I've cut straight to the chase with this recipe - it's one that comes all the way from my standard 6 Home Economics class when we first made Chelsea Buns using a scone dough recipe. It's so simple, quick and delicious! With no proving, knocking down and what have you. 

My buns (snigger snigger) have swirls of sticky caramel in them along with pockets of chocolate chips, candied zest and flaked almonds - which can easily be tailored to whatever your heart desires! Oooo white chocolate! Chopped Turkish apricots! Pistachios! 

Although all of our focus this week is on Easter, just a reminder that it is also Fairtrade Fortnight. So the Fairtrade SA team challenged me to make a recipe using their Fairtrade chocolate, rooibos tea and a yummy energy drink. Boy, what a challenge! But coincidentally they all fitted quite easily into this recipe - chocolate chips in the buns and rooibos and the drink in the glaze. My favourite part of buying Fairtrade, is that it takes a lot of the guilt out of enjoying a slab of chocolate :) Okay fine, maybe two slabs. Point is, we can make a big difference by making a small choice. 

Caramel Hot Cross Chelsea Buns

3 cups (360g) cake flour
2 tbsp (30ml) white sugar
1 tbsp (15ml) baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground mixed spice
120g butter, cubed
300ml buttermilk 
1 large egg

½ tin (200g) caramel spread (like dulce de leche)
½ cup (50g) flaked almonds
2 tbsp mixed candied peel
1 cup (150g) chopped good-quality dark chocolate (I used Fairtrade)
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 cup (180g) honey, warmed
1/4 cup strong rooibos tea (optional)
1/4 cup water (I used a Fairtrade drink because of the Fairtrade challenge)
1 cup (130g) icing sugar, sifted
1 tbsp (approx.) buttermilk

Grease and line a 20cm round cake tin. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
Combine the flour, white sugar, baking powder, salt and bicarbonate of soda in a bowl and mix well.
Rub the butter into the dry ingredients with your fingertips until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.
Combine the buttermilk and egg separately then add to the dry ingredients. Use a knife and cutting movements to incorporate everything until it forms a soft dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead roughly 10 times or until a smooth dough forms.
Roll the dough out into a rectangle about 20cm wide on a lightly floured surface.
Spread caramel over the dough then sprinkle with almonds, peel, chocolate and spices.
Carefully roll your dough up to form a long sauasage and pinch the edges to seal.  Using a sharp serrated knife, cut slices roughly 4-cm thick and pack them together into your lined baking tin. Make sure to pack the buns together quite snugly.
Bake at 200 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until risen and golden. Combine the honey, rooibos tea (if using) and water and simmer until  and brush over the warm buns. 
To make the crosses, mix the icing sugar and buttermilk and place in a piping bag. Pipe crosses over the tops of the buns. 



Saturday, April 4, 2015

Easter Rocky Road brownies

Why eat your Easter eggs one at a time, when you can devour them all 
at the SAME time in one convenient block? 
These dark chocolate brownies are topped with an Easter egg rocky road which I’ve crammed all my favourites into – those moreish white candy-coated chocolate eggs, marshmallow eggs, and my absolute favourite; mini speckled eggs (which I should seriously consider purchasing shares in). I’ve also added some oreo’s for biscuity crunch but you can add your own favourites and turn them into your own Easter fantasy bars. Whether you’re making these FOR Easter to wow the kids (they'll love you forever!) or AFTER Easter as a way to use up your leftover stash of chocolate (what does 'leftover chocolate' even MEAN?!), these brownies are so darn swoon-worthy they’ll become a family favourite. Put simply, they're an Easter explosion of chocolate happiness in your mouth and you need to make them now! 

Happy Easter!

Side note - imagine these bars crumbled up into vanilla ice cream?! Oh em geeee.

Easter Rocky Road Brownies
Makes 12

200g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
150g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
2 tsp vanilla paste or extract
150g castor sugar
3 eggs, beaten
75g plain flour
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp salt

Rocky road topping
50g butter
150g dark chocolate, 
100g biscuits, crushed
50g marshmallow easter eggs, chopped
50g mini speckled eggs
50g White candy-coated chocolate eggs, cracked into pieces

Preheat the oven to 180C and grease a 20cm square baking tin and line the base with baking paper.
Melt the chopped chocolate, butter and vanilla together in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, making sure the surface of the water does not touch the bowl.
Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar, then leave to cool for a few minutes. 
Beat in the eggs, then sift in the flour, cocoa and salt and fold in until the mixture is smooth and glossy.
Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and level the top. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes or until the top starts to crack but the centre remains gooey. 
Turn off the oven and leave the brownies inside for a further 5 minutes before removing. Leave to cool completely in the tin.

Make the topping by melting the butter then add the dark chocolate and melt until smooth. Allow to cool then stir in the biscuits, marshmallows, speckled eggs and white eggs.