October 2015 archive

Gluten-free double chocolate brownies

So episode two of the South African Bake Off has passed and this week’s inspiration is the tray bake, which to me means brownies. Not sure if I would attempt a wildlife scene or spaza shop made entirely with gluten free biscuits (and to be honest, plain biscuits are not really my thing). And brandy snaps… well never eaten one. So the tray bake it is, enter page 105 of “Flourless” and gluten-free double chocolate brownies.

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Ingredients (makes 16 brownies)

  • 140 grams semi-sweet chocolate
  • ½ cup/155 grams unsalted butter
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1¼ cups/250grams light or dark brown sugar
  • ½ cup/50 grams unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1½ tsp pure vanilla extract

Directions

Heat oven to 180 degrees. Line a 20-by-20-cm square tin with foil, then lightly grease the foil with vegetable oil.

In a heatproof bowl set over simmering water, melt the chocolate and butter, stirring until smooth. Remove from the heat and transfer to a large bowl; add the brown sugar, eggs, cocoa powder, salt and vanilla. Stir well to combine.

Spread the batter in the pan, smooth with a rubber spatula.

Bake until the brownies are dry on top and almost firm to the touch, about 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool in the pan for 1 hour.

Gently lift the foil out from the pan after cooling to remove the brownies. Place on a cutting board and refrigerate for up to 1 hour to fully set the brownies. Remove from the fridge and, using a serrated knife, cut into 16 brownies. Serve at room temperature.

The note with the recipe says to let the brownies sit after baking, even overnight, as the longer they sit the firmer they become. After a little nibbling after one hour (I have little restraint when it comes to such matters), two hours and then overnight, I must concur that they do need to be left to rest for quite a while as they become a great deal easier to cut. These brownies are rather decadent, very fudgy, very rich, but very worth it.

(Following each week’s episode of the Great South African Bake Off, I am making a recipe from the fab recipe book “Flourless” by Nicole Spiridakis, inspired by one of the tasks the bakers are set. The next episode focuses on meringue bakes which means macarons #challenge).

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Crushing on Le Creuset

I have recently discovered, thanks to Martha Stewart, that a cast iron casserole dish is also referred to as a Dutch Oven. There is some irrelevant information for you! But I digress, the point of this post is Le Creuset. I have some small Le Creuset items… a whistling kettle (of course), cappuccino mugs, ramekins… and although I have always believed that my life would be better with a Le Creuset casserole, I have never felt that I could spend that amount of money on one kitchen item that would not be used every day. That is until now. A simple walk past a Le Creuset store and the sight of the new Cool Mint colour quickly changed all of that.

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My favourite colour in general is anything slightly leaning towards a blue/teal, and until now I have Le Creuset Caribbean Blue with some Palm Green thrown in for good measure. Cool Mint was launched locally on 1 September and is earth shatteringly beautiful. To quote the Le Creuset blog, “Think mint ice creams and cool breezes, moreish mint macarons and long lunches in the shade of blossoming trees… Le Creuset colours are like jelly beans: fun, cheerful and available in a bright and beautiful mix.”

The good news is that Christmas is coming (face-it) and Le Creuset Cool Mint will be have a starring role in any list I may put together. The colour is available across the full range of Le Creuset products, so stoneware, cast-iron, silicon products and of course the whistling kettles. I had to start somewhere, and so two new fresh Cool Mint ramekins are sitting pretty on my kitchen shelf. I have just purchased the latest issue of Taste Magazine which handily comes with a voucher for 15% discount on Le Creuset… hmm…somehow I sense that a casserole dish will not be far behind!

Gluten-free chocolate soufflé cupcakes

So the Great South African Bake-Off is upon us (finally, technical issues aside). Obviously no one can replace Paul Hollywood, and I am not yet as committed to this series as I am to the British version, but it is early days still. I decided that I must bake an item every week inspired by the South African Bake Off, and that the recipe has to come from this fabulous new book “Flourless” (more on the book later). So let us begin on page 66 with gluten-free chocolate soufflé cupcakes.

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Ingredients

  • 170 grams dark chocolate
  • 6 tbsp/85 grams unsalted butter
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 6 tbsp/50grams granulated sugar
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Dark chocolate frosting

  • ½ cup/115 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 115 grams chocolate, melted
  • 1 cup/100 grams confectioners (icing) sugar

Directions

Heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Line a 12 cup cupcake tin with cupcake liners.

Put the chocolate and butter in a heavy saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring, until fully melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and cool to lukewarm (alternatively I used a double boiler).

In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks and sugar on medium-high speed until the mixture is very thick and pale, about 2 minutes. Beat in the chocolate, salt and vanilla. In a large bowl, beat the egg whites on high speed with an electric mixer until medium-firm peaks form. Gently fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture in three additions, folding until no white streaks remain.

Divide the batter among the cups, filling each about three-quarters of the way. Bake until the tops are puffed and dry to the touch and a tester inserted into the centre comes out mostly clean, with some moist crumbs attached, 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let sit in the tin for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting: In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, cream the butter on high speed until light and fluffy, then add the melted chocolate, Add the icing sugar, a little at a time, until well blended. When ready, spread each cupcake with a generous amount of frosting.

The verdict? These are just great and the frosting alone is rather wonderful. In the original recipe the cupcakes are topped with salted caramel buttercream. I thought it might be a little too rich (even for me) and so I switched to the dark chocolate frosting… but the salted caramel buttercream is just shrieking out to be made! I actually want to try and bake these cupcakes in mini spring form tins, as I think they could form part of an impressive individual chocolate trio dinner party dessert, if it works of course (#maketime).

And to the book “Flourless” by Nicole Spiridakis. What attracted me to this book is that every recipe is naturally gluten-free, using eggs, nut flours and other gluten-free ingredients. Nothing is made with gluten-free flour (which I prefer not to bake with), and apart from the odd recipe with oats (I cannot tolerate oats, gluten-free certified or not), every page is a recipe that needs to be, and shall be, baked.

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