Ooey Gooey Chocolate Cakes

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Today marks my last full day in Belfast, Northern Ireland. And I’m stuck at home with a bit of a cold and a sore throat. Usually if I’m feeling a little sorry for myself, I like to whip up something quick and comforting. A fudgey cake-like thing is often my Plan A (Plan B being cheese on toast). If there is a block of Lindt 70% in the cupboard and a scrape or two left of vanilla ice-cream in the freezer, then everything is going swimmingly, George Peppard. With this happy injection of chocolate, I then proceed to curl up on the couch, and watch something trashy on TV. I am particularly obsessed with food/cooking programs (surprise surprise). Stefan Gates’ Cooking in the Danger Zone was a recent good one and Gordon Ramsay is always entertaining.

A couple of days ago, I spotted a set of cute white ramekins in B’s mom’s kitchen, and decided to make some mini chocolate cakes. (The ramekins remind me of little flower pots, so I imagine it might be interesting to try baking small bread rolls or even muffins in them). These cakes can be made with plain flour instead of ground almonds, if you happen to not have any almonds in the house. For a more pudding-y feel, I served the cakes warm, ladled over with a generous spoonful of warm chocolate sauce (flavour this with a dash of Baileys, depending on the location of your occasion).

Jill Dupleix’s Little Chocolate Cakes :

Makes 12

200g bittersweet dark chocolate
100g caster sugar
120g butter
100g ground almonds
4 large eggs, separated
icing sugar for dusting

Heat the oven to 180C/Gas 4.

Roughly chop the chocolate. Fit a heatproof bowl into a saucepan of simmering water, and combine the chocolate, sugar and butter in the bowl. Stir as it melts into a smooth and glossy sauce. Remove from the heat and cool for 5 minutes.

Add the ground almonds, and stir well. Beat in the egg yolks, one by one, until well-mixed.

Place the egg whites in a large dry bowl and beat until stiff and peaky. Stir a large spoonful of egg white into the chocolate mixture to lighten it, then gently fold in the remaining egg white.

Spoon into lightly buttered large-muffin moulds or doubled cake papers, and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Leave to cool for 10 minutes before removing from moulds. Serve at room temperature, dusted with icing sugar. Store in an airtight container for up to three days.

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R2-P4

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It would take a strength too great to put into words, for me to resist the offer of a petit four. A little bite of something sweet is the perfect way to end a meal. Like a miniature dessert to be popped into the mouth and washed down with tea, especially if you don’t have the room to eat a whole dessert. This lack of room is a malady unheard of, by those of us who have a separate stomach compartment for desserts. But sometimes all you want is a wahffer-theen something-or-other, and that’s where the petit fours come in.

Chocolate is usually my favourite petit fours flavour. At Vue de Monde in Melbourne, one of the petit fours they serve are cute mini chocolate bars. I have also seen in various restaurants, chocolate truffles served up in all sizes, flavours and forms, and balls of ice-cream impaled on cocktail sticks and dipped in chocolate.

This month’s SHF event (#24) theme is petit fours, which I couldn’t resist having an attempt at. It’s my first time participating, so I hope you’ll forgive any transgressions as I veer off into the wilderness and present :

R2D2 chocolate caramel petit fours (or R2P4′s) : I had so much fun making and eating Stormtrooper cookies recently that I wanted to do more on a similar theme. And who more perfect than R2D2 with his little round body to sandwich a caramel flavoured chocolate filling? These R2D2s are small enough to be consumed in 2-3 bites and satisfyingly chocolatey enough to conclude any meal with.

Basic tuille mix :

125g unsalted butter, melted
125g caster sugar
125g egg whites
125g plain flour, sifted

Stir the butter and sugar together in a bowl. Gradually add the whites, stirring to combine. Fold in the flour. Place a third of this mix into a separate bowl. Add about 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder into this bowl. Mix well. This is your cocoa tuille mix for adding detail to your cookies. The depth of colour will depend on the type and quantity of cocoa you use. Cover and chill both mixes for at least 20 minutes before using.

When ready to be used, spread the mixture over your prepared template with a small palette knife. I used cardboard from a cereal box to make the R2D2 template. Add detail using a piping bag filled with cocoa tuille mix. Bake at 160′C until lightly golden brown (this only takes a few minutes). When cool, sandwich with a filling of your choice. Here, I have used a chocolate caramel truffle filling.

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(I also submitted my little R2D2′s to October’s DMBLGIT, which is being hosted by Andrew at SpittoonExtra. Check out the other photos here).

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World Bread Day ’06

World Bread Day '06

After the recent success of my bread baking venture, I thought I would try my hand at making a few more loaves of wheaten bread in celebration of , also an event hosted by kochtopf. Wheaten bread, or brown bread as it’s simply known in some parts of Ireland, is one of my favourite breads. The appeal lies in it’s rustic look and taste, and the ease with which it can be whipped up.

The trouble is, the difference in ingredients between countries has meant that in the past I was never able to whip up a convincing loaf of this bread when in Sydney. Once, due to desperation, a loaf was even secretly smuggled over the border, past the usually sharp eyes of Australian customs officials.

The aim of my baking session today was to try to make a more international-friendly batch of wheaten bread. I used spelt flour because I have seen it being sold in Sydney shops, and tried an alternative to buttermilk because the buttermilk in Sydney is a little different also. The resulting bread is a bit finer in texture but retains the taste of the original.

This recipe is my version of Mother Linda’s, the original of which can be found here.

Wheaten Bread :

3 cups organic spelt flour
1 1/2 cups oatmeal
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
60g butter
1 egg
1 1/2 cups milk, mixed with 3/4 lemon juiced and left to stand for at least 15 minutes

In a bowl, combine the spelt flour, oatmeal and baking soda. Rub the butter into this mixture. Mix the egg with the soured milk and pour this over the dry ingredients. Stir gently with a fork or wooden spoon to bring the mixture together. Transfer the dough onto a flat tray lined with greaseproof paper. Cut a cross into the top of the dough (but don’t cut all the way through to the bottom of the dough). Bake at 190′C for about 1 hour, or until a knife inserted into the loaf comes out clean. Cool, slice thickly and eat toasted or as is, with a topping of your choice.

[13/10/2007 update : Note that a new and improved recipe is now here instead.]

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