Baklava – A Baker’s Odyssey Challenge #59

What’s the best baklava you’ve ever had? Was a Greek or Lebanese baklava? Come to think of it – is it baklava or baklawa? A couple of years ago on a visit to Melbourne I had the most delicious baklava ever from a Greek stall at the Queen Victoria markets. The flavours had melded together beautifully, it was crisp and not too sweet.

This recipe, from A Baker’s Odyssey by Greg Patent comes close.  I think the difference is the clarified butter. Clarified butter is easy to make at home. Here is a good explanation of how to clarify butter or you can find it in most supermarkets.

Baklava is a great do ahead recipe. In fact, it tastes better the next day. It keeps well in the refrigerator for a least a week. Greg says to store it a room temperature but I don’t know about your place but here in tropical North Queensland nothing lasts very long left in our steamy room temperature.

Which is your favourite baklava shop?

 

baklava

Baklava adapted from A Baker’s Odyssey by Greg Patent

Syrup

3 cups sugar
2 cups water
2 tablespoons orange flower water
1 tablespoon  fresh lemon juice

Filling

500g/1lb walnuts
1/2 cup sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons orange flower water

To assemble

340g/3 sticks unsalted butter, clarified
500g/1lb phyllo dough, thawed if frozen

Make the syrup: combine the sugar and water in a pan and set it over a medium heat. Bring it to the boil stirring occasionally. Then cover with a lid, reduce the heat (so it doesn’t boil over) and simmer for 3 minutes. Uncover, keep it simmering and cook until the syrup reaches 95C or 200F. Remove the pan from the heat and add the orangeflower water and the lemon juice. Allow to cool and refrigerate it. It should be a pourable consistency not as thick as honey. Add a little water if it is too thick. Keep refrigerated.

Make the filling: process walnuts in the food processor in batches until coarsely chopped. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in the sugar and orangeflower water. Set it aside until you are ready.

To assemble: Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Brush a 33 x 22 cm baking pan (13 x 9 inch) with clarified butter. Place 1 phyllo sheet in the pan and brush lightly with butter, fold in the overhanging edges of dough. Repeat again until you have used half of the dough. Sprinkle the walnut filling evenly over the pastry. Then repeat the layering and buttering of the remaining phyllo. With a sharp knife cut through the pastry right down to the base forming diamonds or whatever shape and size you want the finished pieces to be. Pour any remaining butter into the cuts.

baklava

 

Bake the baklawa for 30 minutes and then reduce the temperature to 150C/300F until brown and crispy, another 45 to 60 minutes. Take the baklawa out of the oven and immediately pour over the cold syrup. Let it stand for 2 or 3 hours, even overnight, before serving

baklava

baklava

Chocolate Raspberry Tart

Chocolate and raspberries are a match made in heaven. Don’t you think? I first made this chocolate tart back in May 2013 with dark 70% cocoa chocolate and roasted hazelnuts and it was delicious. Consequently when I needed a delicious but easy dessert my mind went back to this amazing tart. While I loved the bitterness of the dark chocolate this time what was needed was something more subtle.  So I reduced the chocolate and used a more mild and slightly sweet 60% cocoa chocolate, added raspberry jam to the base and, most of all, fresh raspberries on top. This tart is perfect for summer and Valentine’s Day.

Chocolate and Raspberry Tart

 

The beauty of the tart is that the base is so easy, being prepared with biscuit crumbs. There is no messing with rolling out pastry and trying to ease it into the pan! There is no worry about the pastry shrinking or becoming tough!

Raspberry Jam spread into the base of tart

Finally. the filling is super easy! Just beat all the ingredients together. No fear of curdled or scorched custard. Just a smooth decadent filling which will impress your guests! Guaranteed!

Go on, try it! There is only one week until the big day!

Pouring chocolate filling over raspberry jam

 

Chocolate Hazelnut Tart

For the base:

250g plain biscuits crumbs ( I used up whatever was lurking in the pantry – savoiardi, amaretti and some plain sweet biscuits all whizzed in the food processor)
50g ground hazelnuts
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/3 icing (confectioners) sugar
130g butter, at room temperature
Combine everything in the food processor and whizz until it all comes together. Coat an 11inch/28cm tart pan with a removable base with non-stick cooking spray. Then press the base mixture evenly over the base and sides using the back of a spoon to help you. You can let it set in the refrigerator.

For the filling:

1 cup good raspberry jam
250g dark chocolate 60%, broken up
2 cups cream
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
50ml Frangelico liqueur
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 350F/180C.

Take the prepared tart base out of the refrigerator. Warm the raspberry jam slightly in the microwave until it loosens a little and carefully spread the base with raspberry jam.
Heat the cream until it bubbles (you can do this in the microwave). Add the chocolate to the cream and allow to sit for 3 or 4 minutes. Take a whisk and start slowly mixing the cream and chocolate until it is smooth and well combined. Cool a little so that the eggs don’t scramble.
Add the eggs, vanilla, Frangelico and salt. Whisk well.
Pour this mixture into your prepared tart pan. I had a small, maybe a couple of spoonfuls, amount of mixture left over that didn’t fit into the tart pan. Remember not to overfill because we need to add the topping. Carefully transfer to your hot oven and bake undisturbed for 25 minutes. Allow the tart to cool for about 15 minutes then transfer to the refrigerator to cool completely.

For the ganache topping:

1/2 cup cream
100g dark chocolate 60%, broken up
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon Frangelico

Heat the cream (again you can do this in the microwave) add the chocolate and allow to sit for a few minutes. Whisk to combine the chocolate and cream then add the honey and Frangelico. Pour this delicious mixture all over the top of the tart. Don’t use anything to spread it. Just tip the tart around to spread the topping. This will result in a mirror like finish. Return to the refrigerator until set. Before serving decorate with fresh raspberries. r.

Chocolate Raspberry Tart

Easy Mango and Passionfruit Ice Cream

Ice Cream,  summer and a facelift! This mango and passionfruit ice cream is so easy and delicious. While our summer in North Queensland is hot and humid,  lots of ice cream helps us get by. And a face lift – noooooo, not me! Marcellina in Cucina!  And she is  looking pretty good, don’t you think? We have been working hard behind the scenes for the last few weeks and are confident all is well and up and running.  If you are new here, welcome! If you are a return visitor, many thanks. I hope you all enjoy  Marcellina in Cucina at her new and sparkling site.

Mangoes and North Queensland go hand in hand. Driving north up the coast, mango orchards are a common sight. While mangoes are in season, roadside stalls are often spotted selling mangoes by the bucketful. Actually, I have to tell you, with four mangoes trees, I do get sick of mangoes so into the freezer they go.  My freezer is full of surplus mango cheeks and passionfruit pulp so I can make this quick and easy ice cream whenever the desire strikes. Combining mangoes with passionfruit is a no brainer.

Mango and Passionfruit Ice Cream

The secret of this mango and passionfruit ice cream is the frozen mango. Whizzing the frozen mango in the food processor creates a delicious pure fruit sorbet. Adding the passionfruit, sugar and cream is elevating it to another level.

Have all your other ingredients well chilled and you can be tucking into luscious mango and passionfruit ice cream in less than 20 minutes. If you prefer a firmer consistency, by all means, pop it into the freezer and allow about 2 hours for a scoopable ice cream. The beauty about the high quantity of mango is that this ice cream never freezes rock hard plus that makes it low in fat which means you can eat more of it. It keeps well for a week or so…hmmm, if you can resist the temptation for that long!

I served the ice cream in my homemade crunchy krumkake cones but in keeping with “easy”, a store bought waffle cone does the trick. If it has been in the freezer for more than a day be sure to take it out a few minutes before you want to serve it so that it is not so icy but then again I love that quality about this ice cream!

Mango and Passionfruit Ice Cream

You will need about 3/4 to 1 cup of passionfruit pulp to make the 1/2 cup of juice. This is simply to do – first loosen the seeds from the pulp by pulsing in the food processor  then push the pulp through a sieve and collect the gorgeous, golden juice in a small bowl. Discard the seeds ( or plant them in the garden to grow your own passionfruit).

Whenever you make ice cream or frozen desserts freeze the bowls, utensils and particularly the pan you will be freezing your ice cream in. This tip really helps to keep the ice crystals to a minimum.

Mango and Passionfruit Ice Cream

Easy Mango and Passionfruit Ice Cream original recipe by Marcellina

Yield 6 servings

Prep Time 20 minutes plus freezing

1/2 cup passionfruit juice, no seeds, chilled
75g/100g sugar
2 tablespoons lime juice, chilled
500g frozen mango, cubed
1/2 cup cream, well chilled

1. In a small bowl mix together the passionfruit juice, sugar and lime juice until the sugar is dissolved.

2. Place the frozen mango in the bowl of a food processor with a metal blade attached. Process until a smooth and thick consistency.

3. With the processor running add the passionfruit juice mixture.

4. Followed by the cream. Process only for 30 seconds to 1 minutes. Don’t over process or the cream could curdle.

5. Serve immediately in cold bowls or freeze in a prechilled shallow pan for 2 hours for a more firm consistency.

Mango and Passionfruit Ice Cream

Dutch Donuts – The Last Daring Kitchen December Challenge

These donuts, Dutch Oliebollen, are the delicious last challenge in the Daring Kitchen community. Donuts are a traditional treat for New Year’s Eve in the Netherlands and I think, donuts are a great treat anytime.

The week since Christmas Eve has flown by and now we arrive at the end of 2016. I’m sad to say that this post also marks the end of Daring Kitchen, a wonderful online group of which I have been a part of since 2009.

It is because of the Daring Kitchen that I started this blog in the first place. And it is because of the Daring Kitchen that I even thought to attempt puff pastry, croissants and macarons, just to name a few. And it is because of the Daring Kitchen that my interest has been spurred in the the amazing baking traditions of many countries around the world, like the Esterhazy cake, Armenian nazook and speculaas. Within this amazing group I have found wonderful blogging friends and we developed a great baking camaraderie. So, today I bid a sad farewell to the Daring Kitchen.

This last challenge was hosted by the lovely Francijn Brouwer from the blog “Koken in de Brouwerij”. Francijn is from the Netherlands and this is the third time she has opened her kitchen and shown us her country’s wonderful baking traditions. Oliebollen are a traditional treat for New Year’s Eve in The Netherlands and there are mobile kitchen everywhere during winter selling these delicious Dutch donuts. The traditional oliebollen are made with apple and raisins. I also made a plain version which were injected with Nutella after frying. Thanks to Francijn, these donuts were a hit with my family!

Oblibollen – recipe courtesy of Francijn of “Koken in de Brouwerij”

300g / 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
200g / 1 1/2 cup plus 5 tsp all-purpose flour
10g / 3 tsp instant yeast
10g / 1 1/2 tsp salt
25g / 2 Tbsp caster sugar (white or light brown)
3g / 1/2 tsp cinnamon
150ml / 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp brown beer (room temperature)
175ml / 3/4 cup water (room temperature)
175ml / 3/4 cup milk (room temperature)
50g / 3 1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter (melted but not hot)
1 small egg
200g (7 oz, or 1 1/3 cups) raisins (without clumps)
1 small apple or half a big apple (a firm variety)

Directions:

1. In a large mixing bowl mix flours and yeast with a whisk.
2. Add salt, sugar and cinnamon, and mix again.
3. Add beer, water and milk (mind the room temperature), the melted butter, and the egg.
4. Attach the paddle to your mixer (or the dough hook, if you don’t have one) and mix the ingredients thoroughly. Go on until the dough becomes elastic, a few minutes.
5. Let the dough rest for 15 minutes.
6. In the meantime cut the apple in small cubes, as big as peas or beans.
7. Add raisins and apple to the dough, and mix well with a spatula.
8. Put a wet towel over the bowl, and let the dough rise for an hour, until is has nearly doubled in size.

9. In the meantime, put the oil in your deep fryer. Heat it to 180°C / 355°F.
10. Get ready for cooking: place a tray on the counter and cover it with two layers of paper towels. Have something ready to place your scoops on, to not cover your counter with grease. And have a timer handy, to track frying time.
11. Once the dough has doubled in size and the oil is hot, dip your ice scoop in the oil to avoid sticking, and fill it with dough, leveling it against the side of the bowl. Take care to include a reasonable amount of filling.
12. Release the doughball carefully into the oil, by sticking the scoop into the oil and pulling the lever. For now, don’t add more oliebollen. Start the timer.
13. Observe the behavior of the oliebol. It will start floating around, and after some time, it will turn over automatically. That way, in the ideal situation, it will brown on both sides. If the oliebol doesn’t turn over, help it when the frying time is halfway over, using a fork.
14. After five minutes of frying, take it out of the oil and put it on the tray with paper towel. Wait a minute, and then cut it through the middle with a sharp knife. Look at the center. Do you see raw dough? Then you should have cooked it longer. Do you see a bread-like texture? Then it is done, and you could even try to shorten the cooking time.
15. If you are satisfied with the texture? Then start again, but now with a few oliebollen at once. Are you not satisfied? Try again with a longer or shorter frying time.

16. Keep frying until there is no dough left, and make sure the oliebollen are all the same size, otherwise they will need different cooking times. Don’t forget to start the timer with each batch, and remember that the ones you put in first, should be taken out first.
17. Oliebollen are best when you eat them while they are still hot and crunchy. Sprinkle them with powdered sugar and enjoy! They are still great at room temperature, but next day you will miss the crunchiness. This is how to reheat them: preheat the oven to 150-160°C / 300-320°F / Gas Mark 3, and heat the oliebollen for 5 minutes.

Torta Della Nonna – The Daring Kitchen November, 2016 Challenge

For the month of November we at the Daring Kitchen were challenged by Ginger-Z to make the delicious Torta della Nonna.  This humble Italian cake is seen in many variations, single crusted and double crusted. Many years ago I had clipped a recipe from an Australian magazine Home Beautiful. Actually the clipping is dated 1993! Oops, never got around to making it. For my version, I added a layer of Nutella at the bottom of the pastry and I mean, what is not made better with Nutella! Very similar to Gâteau Basque which featured in “Cucina” over a year ago.

I am sad to report that this will be the second last Daring Kitchen challenge. Daring Kitchen has been an important part of my baking life since 2009 and was the catalyst for starting this blog. Daring Kitchen will close it’s doors following the December challenge. It is with this amazing group of people that I have learnt many baking skills – puff pastry, macarons, croissants, many tortes and delicious treats from around the world. Daring Kitchen will be missed.

Torta della Nonna

Custard

2 1/2 cups milk
1 vanilla bean, split
2 egg yolks
1/3 cup castor sugar
4 tablespoons plain flour
Nutella, as desired
slivered almonds for topping

Pastry

2 cups flour
pinch salt
2 egg yolks
125g butter, cut into pieces
1/3 cup castor sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

To make the custard, heat the milk and vanilla bean until just starts to boil. Set aside to cool slightly. Beat the egg yolks and sugar well until light and creamy. Stir in the flour. With a whisk gradually add in the warm milk. Strain the milk mixture back into the saucepan. Return to the heat and stir until it thickens. Boil for about a minute to cook the flour. Remove from the heat and pour into a bowl covering with plastic wrap touching the custard to prevent a skin forming.

To make the pastry, in a food processor place the flour, salt, egg yolks, butter, sugar and vanilla. Process until the mixture just starts to come together. Remove and wrap in plastic wrap and chill for an hour.

When ready, grease a 20cm pie plate and preheat the oven to 180C. Divide the dough in two pieces, with on slightly larger. Roll out the larger piece between to pieces of non stick baking paper until large enough to fit the pie plate. Carefully lift the pastry and press into the pie plate, trimming the edges. Spread the base with Nutella, as much as you wish, then top with the prepared custard. Brush the edges with water. Roll out the second piece of pastry as you did with the first and fit over the custard, pressing the edges to seal and then trim off excess. Brush the top with water and sprinkle with slivered almonds. Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes.

Allow to cool and dust with abundant icing sugar. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

 

 

Buttermilk Cardamom Waffles – A Baker’s Odyssey Challenge #52

Want a great breakfast on Sunday morning without too much bother? Dust off your waffle irons, everyone! This is one not to miss!
These waffles are light with buttermilk, perfumed with cardamom and taste heavenly!
All it takes is a bowl and a whisk. Not madly beating egg whites to stiff peaks or waiting around for the batter to take a “rest”. Just get straight into it and share them with someone who will thank you for it!
Happy weekend!

Buttermilk Cardamom Waffles – A Baker’s Odyssey by Greg Patent

2 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
pinch salt
1/2 cup castor sugar
1 to 2 teaspoons freshly ground cardamom
4 large eggs
2 cup buttermilk
60g unsalted butter, melted

Preheat the waffle iron

On a sheet of baking paper sift flour, baking soda, salt, castor sugar and cardamom. In a large bowl whisk together the eggs and  buttermilk. Pick up the paper on top opposite sides, pour into the egg mixture and whisk gently until just combined. Fold in the melted butter. Like muffins, don’t over mix!
Follow the instructions for your waffle iron to make the waffles.

It might take a couple of times to get the correct amount of mixture for each waffle –  it did for me.

Stack up your waffles and bring them to the table with your choice of toppings. 

These Norwegian waffles are traditionally topped with sour cream and fruit or jam. Nothing wrong with icecream and syrup, though!

Nutella Puff Pastry Flower

Do you consider yourself a good baker? Or do all of those measurements and precision get to you?
If you fall into the latter, then this recipe is for you!
Read on and impress! 

First preheat you oven to 220C and line a baking tray with baking paper.
All you need is three sheets of frozen puff pastry. Allow  to thaw and use a large plate to cut a circle out of each of the sheets.  Start assembling on the lined baking tray. Spread one circle of pastry with Nutella, top with another pastry circle. Spread that one with Nutella and top with a pastry sheet. You will have two layers of Nutella and three layers of pastry.

Now take a glass and push it lightly into the centre. With a sharp knife cut first into quarters. Cut each quarter in half to make eighths then each of those in half to make sixteen cuts.

Lift each piece and twist twice. Yep, this bit gets messy! When you have finished, brush with egg wash.

 Bake for 20-30 minutes until well browned and puffed.

Dust with icing sugar and enjoy! 

Pavlova – Daring Kitchen challenge for August 2016

This month I hosted a Daring Kitchen challenge and challenged the members of the Daring Kitchen to make a pavlova. I know, not that daring really, is it? But that was the whole point. I wanted this to be more of a creative challenge…take the main ingredient of a pavlova and let your culinary  imagination go wild. Daring Kitchen members came up with some wonderful creations. Have a look here. Or have a look at these wonderful blogs here, here, here or here.

I have been making Pavlova for many years and it is standard dessert fare at many Australian gatherings. The classic Pavlova is a dessert consisting of a crisp, light meringue base topped with fruit and cream. Most often the centre of the meringue is of a marshmallowy consistency. However Pavlova can be stacked layers, mini Pavlovas, or lightly baked and rolled with a filling. The meringue can be flavoured with nuts, spices, chocolate, cocoa or coffee powder and filled with custards, mousses, bavarians, mascarpone, fruit curds or yoghurt.
The recipe I provided is one I have used for many years, so long that I don’t know where it came from but it is very similar to most recipes for the Classic Pavlova. I prefer my Pavlova baked to quite crunchy with little marshmallow in the centre. I usually top with fresh whipped Chantilly cream and fresh fruit such as strawberries, kiwi fruit and passionfruit. On this occasion I made a passionfruit curd to drizzle over the cream and topped with green and gold kiwi fruit and toasted shredded coconut.

Notes:
This recipe can be halved or increased quite easily just keep in mind that the cooking time will vary. I often make this into a 6 egg white pavlova.
Make sure your whisking bowl is clean and greasefree. If in doubt rub with paper towel dipped in white vinegar or lemon juice before use.
Have everything ready on the bench because once you start mixing, your pavlova you can’t be interrupted.
Use eggs at room temperature to ensure the best whip. The egg whites must not contain even a trace of yolk. To be sure separate each egg individually.
I like to use cream of tartar to stablise the whites. I have read that a ½ teaspoon of white vinegar or lemon juice or even a pinch of salt can be substituted but I
can’t verify this.
If you can’t get superfine sugar, whiz regular sugar in the food processor.
Do not open the door during the cooking then when baled. allow to cool slowly in the oven with the door ajar.

Recipe 1: Pavlova

Servings: 8 to 10 serves or less if your guests are hungry
Ingredients
4 egg whites (approx. 120g or 8 Tbsp using 57g / 2oz eggs), at room temperature
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup / 225g / 8oz caster/ superfine sugar
3 tsp / 8g cornstarch (Australia ­ cornflour)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp white vinegar
Directions:
Preheat the oven 135°C / 275°F / Gas Mark 1 and prepare a large flat tray by lining with nonstick baking paper.
Beat egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form. Continue beating while gradually adding the sugar one tablespoon at a
time. Continue beating until the meringue is thick and glossy and the sugar has dissolved.

Rub a little meringue between fingers. If still “gritty” with sugar, continue to whisk until sugar dissolves.

Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and gently fold in the sifted cornstarch, followed by the vanilla and the vinegar.
Pile the mixture onto the baking paper lined flat tray. It should be about a 20 ­ 25cm / 8 ­ 10″ circle. Hollow out the centre a little.

Bake for 1 ¼ hours. If your oven runs hot and the pavlova is colouring simply lower the temperature by 5 or 10 degrees.
Cool in the oven with the door ajar.

Once cool store in an airtight container unless using straight away.

To Assemble the Pavlova just before serving

1 baked and cooled pavlova, as per recipe
2 green kiwi fruit and 2 gold kiwi fruit, sliced, or you choice of fruit
1/3 cup shredded coconut, toasted
Passionfruit curd, recipe below
Chantilly cream, recipe below
Remove the baking paper from the pavlova and place on a serving tray. (I recently saw Nigella Lawson prepare a pavlova and she simply turned it upside down
on a serving tray, removed the baking paper and decorated the pavlova. Once decorated no one could tell it was upside down.)
Spread the Chantilly cream over the pavlova, drizzle with as much of the curd as you like, decorate with slice kiwi fruit and sprinkle with toasted coconut.

Recipe 2: Passionfruit Curd


Makes: 2 ½ cups / 600ml / 20 fl oz
Ingredients
150ml / approx. 1/2 cup + 2tsp strained passionfruit pulp
2 Tablespoons of passionfruit seeds
20ml / 1 metric Tbsp / 1 US Tbsp + 1 tsp lemon juice
170g / 1 1/2 sticks / 3/4 cup unsalted butter, chopped
200g / 9/10 cup caster sugar
3 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
Directions:
In a medium saucepan place passionfruit pulp, lemon juice, butter and sugar. Cook over a medium heat until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved.
In a bowl place eggs and additional egg yolks and whisk eggs until combined.

Whisk the eggs and slowly pour in the passionfruit mixture. It is important to keep whisking while you do this. Strain the passionfruit curd mixture through a
sieve back into the saucepan to remove any “eggy bits”.

Add the passionfruit seeds and continue to cook over a low/medium heat until the mixture has thickened and coats the back of a spoon. At low heat this can
take as long as 10 minutes. At medium heat it can take as little as 5 minutes.
Be careful not to overheat and overcook the mixture – you will then have passionfruit flavoured scrambled eggs. I like to not risk further cooking of the curd
by pouring the cooked mixture into a glass jug until cooled.

Once mixture has cooled place in a sterilised jar and store in the fridge. Passionfruit curd will last for a couple of weeks in the fridge.

Recipe 3: Chantilly Cream

Ingredients
300ml / 1 1/4 cups / 10 fl oz full fat cream (about 35%)
16g / 2 Tbsp powdered sugar
5ml / 1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:
Combine all ingredients.
Using a hand whisk or electric whisk, beat the cream in a stainless steel or glass or china bowl (not plastic­ doesn’t seem to whip as well).
It is whipped properly when it is still soft and billowy but holds its shape when the whisk is withdrawn.
Once the cream is whipped, cover and store in the fridge.

Nutella Brownie Cups

Early on this year I saw these amazing cookie cups by Lindsay at Life Love and Sugar. Lindsay makes eleven different types of cookie cups – apple, lemon, fruit, peanut butter and snickers just to name a few. I thought these were a great idea and seemed a lot easier than make a delicate pastry, rolling it out and all the drama that goes with pastry. In this case, make a simple cookie-like dough, press into muffin pans, bake and fill. Perfect.

When I made these, I found that they were more like brownies so that’s what I named them. Also extra Nutella in the bottoms enhanced the Nutella experience!

Oh, and if you have a family anything like mine, protect your cooling cups.  I had to make another batch because they seemed to disappear from the wire rack as they cooled.

Nutella Brownie Cups adapted from Life Love and Sugar
makes 16

Printable recipe here

170g butter, room temperature
1 cup castor (superfine) sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups plain flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cornflour

Nutella Cheesecake Filling
280g Philly cream cheese, room temperature
2 cups icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup Nutella, plus extra
raspberries

Preheat oven to 180C/350F. Coat 2 x 12 cup muffin (large cupcake) pans with nonstick cooking spray or butter well.
Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and beat well to combine. Sift flour, baking soda and cornflour into butter mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon to mix well. The mixture will be thick. Take about 2 tablespoons of the mixture, roll into a ball and press into muffin pans and up the sides a bit. You should get about 16. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes. If they cups have puffed up, press down with the back of a teaspoon to form an indentation. Remove to a wire rack to cool.

Nutella Cheesecake filling

Beat all the ingredients together until well mixed and smooth.

To assemble cups take a small spoonful of Nutella and spread onto the base of the cups. Pipe or spoon filling in and top with a raspberry. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Prepare to be inundated!

Kouign amann

Isn’t it amazing the variety of recipes around the globe? Some are similar and some are very different. But each culture has their own unique way of preparing food. I particularly love that a baker can take baking basics such as flour, sugar, butter, eggs maybe a little yeast and create something which is totally their own.
This month in the Daring Kitchen we were challenged to prepare  kouign amann. Now this I had never heard of! According to our host,   Meredith. from The Poco Loco Olsons – “a kouign amann (prounounced “kwee-amahn”) is a round crusty pastry that originated in Brittany in roughly 1860. It is made with a bread dough that is laminated (think of a croissant or puff pastry) and then sprinkled with sugar before being cut into squares and baked in muffin tins”.
I decided mine could do with a square of chocolate in the middle. Yup, these are good. Very good!

Kouign amann

Servings: 12

Ingredients:

300g/10 1/2 oz / 2 2/5 cups strong plain flour, plus extra for dusting
5g / 1 1/2 tsp instant yeast OR 6.75g / 2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
5g / 1 tsp salt
200ml / 6 3/4 fl oz / 4/5 cup warm water
25g / 1oz / 1 3/4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
250g / 9oz / 1 1/5 sticks / 1 cup + 1 1/2 Tbsp cold unsalted butter, in a block
100g / 3 1/2 oz / scant 1/2 cup caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling

Directions:

1. Put the flour into the bowl of a freestanding mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the yeast to one side of the bowl and the salt to the other. Add the water and melted butter and mix on a slow speed for two minutes, then on a medium speed for six minutes.
NOTE: If using active dry yeast, activate it in the water for 5 minutes first.

2. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and shape into a ball. Put into a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with cling film and leave to rise for one hour.

3. Sandwich the butter between two sheets of grease-proof paper and bash with a rolling pin, then roll out to a 14 cm / 5½” square. Place in the fridge to keep chilled.

4. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a 20cm / 8” square. Place the butter in the center of the dough diagonally, so that each side of butter faces a corner of the dough

 Fold the corners of the dough over the butter to enclose like an envelope.

5. Roll the dough into a 45 x 15cm / 18 x 6” rectangle. Fold the bottom third of dough up over the middle, then fold the top third of the dough over. You will now have a sandwich of three layers of butter and three layers of dough. Wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for 30 minutes. This completes one turn.

6. Repeat this process twice more, so you have completed a total of three turns, chilling the dough for 30 minutes between turns.

7. Roll the dough into a rectangle as before. Sprinkle the dough with the caster sugar and fold into thirds again. Working quickly, roll the dough into a large 40 x 30cm / 16 x 12” rectangle. Sprinkle the dough with additional caster sugar and cut the dough into 12 squares. I added a small block of chocolate in the middle of each.

8. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin well with oil. Gather the dough squares up by their four corners and place in the muffin tins, pulling the four corners towards the centre of the muffin tin, so that it gathers up like a four-leaf clover.

Sprinkle with additional caster sugar and leave to rise, covered with a clean tea towel, for 30 minutes until slightly puffed up.

9. Preheat oven to 220°C / 200°C (fan) / 425°F / Gas Mark 7. Bake the pastries for 30 – 40 minutes, or until golden-brown. Cover with foil halfway through if beginning to brown too much. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for a couple of minutes before turning out onto a wire rack. Be careful not to burn yourself on the caramelized sugar, but don’t leave them to cool for too long, or the caramelised sugar will harden and they will be stuck in the tin.

10. Serve warm or cold.