01 February 2016

CARAMEL MOCHA CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES

Caramel, coffee, chocolate, all united in a lovely symphony of taste. Deep chocolate and coffee flavours come from the unsweetened cocoa powder, and freshly brewed hot coffee in the cupcakes, while the sweet caramel stems from the buttercream. As with all chocolate cupcakes, use the highest quality cocoa powder you can, as it determines both the taste and texture of the cupcakes. Some types of cocoa powder and make the finished product rather dry. As for the liqueur, I used Dulseda, but feel free to use any sweet caramelly liqueur, to intensify the flavour of the frosting.

Caramel mocha chocolate cupcakes recipe tinascookings.blogspot.com

Ingredients
For the cupcakes
120 grams plain flour
6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 medium eggs
100 grams sugar
120 grams plain yogurt
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
120 ml hot coffee
For the caramel butter cream
250 grams butter, softened
100 grams instant caramel pudding powder
100 grams icing sugar
2-3 tablespoons caramel liqueur (like Dulseda)

Preparation
Place the eggs in a large bowl, sprinkle on the sugar and whisk vigorously for about a minute, until lighter in colour and slightly thickened. Add the yogurt and oil and blend it well. Sift together the flour with the cocoa powder, baking powder and baking soda, then quickly add it to the wet ingredients and combine it with as few strokes as possible, being careful not to overmix the batter. Add the hot coffee and mix until incorporate. Divide the batter evenly between 12 standard muffin cups (lined with paper liners) and bake immediately in a preheated oven, at 180˚C (350˚F) for about 12-15 minutes. Check them with a toothpick to make sure they do not overbake. Once they are baked, let them cool completely before frosting.
For the buttercream, place the butter in a large bowl and beat it with an electric mixer on high for about 2-3 minutes, until completely light and fluffy. Add the caramel pudding powder and blend for another 2 minutes on high. Add the sifted icing sugar and repeat the mixing, until well blended. Finally, add the liqueur until you reach your desired buttercream texture. Once the cupcakes are cooled, transfer the buttercream to a large piping bag fitted with a large nozzle (like Wilton 1M) and decorate the cupcakes as desired. Keep them refrigerated until serving. Yields 12 standard cupcakes.

25 January 2016

CABBAGE SOUP

Light, nourishing, and ever-so-slightly spicy, this soup is very easy to make, and it feeds a crowd. The prep work takes a bit of time, but the rest of the process is easy. I served it with cooked ham and sour cream, but you can serve it just as it is and make it vegetarian-friendly.

Homemade cabbage soup recipe tinascookings.blogspot.com

Ingredients
1 kilogram cabbage
2 tablespoons light olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion
2 large carrots, sliced
2 medium tomatoes
1.2 litres vegetable stock
2 chilli peppers
½ cup fresh parsley
1 ½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 ½ tsp paprika

Preparation
Take a large pot with a heavy bottom, place it over medium high heat and let the butter and the olive oil melt and heat up. While the oil is heating, thinly slice the onion and carrots, remove the seeds from the chilli peppers and mince them, peel and dice the tomatoes, and shred the cabbage. Add the onion to the pot and cook for about 5 minutes, until it starts to turn translucent and fragrant. Add the carrots, and cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes. After that, add the tomatoes to the pot, and cook for about 10 minutes more, until they turn soft and most of the liquid evaporates.
Add the seasoning and stir well, then add your shredded cabbage. Mix everything really well, then pour over the vegetable stock, partially cover the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 30-45 minutes, depending on how tender you like your vegetables to be cooked. About 5 minutes before the cooking time is up, add the minced parsley and stir well. Serve right away, with sour cream and bacon or ham. Yields 8 servings.

19 January 2016

BRAIDED ORANGE VANILLA LOAF

One of the best things to have for breakfast is freshly baked sweet bread, with a bit of butter or clotted cream on top, and a cup of hot tea. When it comes to baked goods, homemade ones are really better than anything you can buy in a store. So why not make this lovely braided orange loaf? The texture almost resembles puff pastry, and the fresh orange zest gives lots of flavour, combined with the warm vanilla.
Keep in mind that you do not have to divide the dough into six pieces, you can divide it into as many as you like, and make the braid you are comfortable working with. One more thing to keep in mind is that the longer the braid, the harder to transfer to the baking sheet. You can braid it directly on the baking sheet, which helps a lot. Serve the bread warm, with plenty of hot tea.

Braided orange vanilla loaf tinascookings.blogspot.com

Ingredients
400 grams plain flour
5 tablespoons sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ¾ teaspoon dried yeast
200 grams yogurt
120 ml boiling water
3 tablespoons oil, divided
1 teaspoon orange flower water
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon oil, for brushing

Braided orange vanilla loaf tinascookings.blogspot.com

Preparation
Take the yogurt out of the fridge and leave it on the counter for about half an hour. While the yogurt is coming to room temperature, sift the flour in a large bowl, add the yeast, sugar and salt, and whisk it very well. Take the boiling water, and pour it into the yogurt, whisking constantly. Add in 2 tablespoons of oil, mix it really well, then pour it over the dry ingredients.
Mix with a wooden spoon or a sturdy spatula until a very soft and slightly sticky dough forms. Add the orange flower water, orange zest and vanilla and mix it in well. At this point, add a bit more flour if you need to, but try to keep the dough as soft as possible. Keep kneading the dough right in the bowl, for a couple of minutes, until it becomes really sticky. Add the reserved tablespoon of oil and knead it in. The dough won’t stick anymore, so you can shape it into a ball.
Place the dough in a large clean bowl, cover it with a kitchen towel and let it rise, at room temperature, for about an hour, until doubled in size. Once the dough has risen, transfer it to a lightly floured surface and knead it for a few minutes. If the dough keeps sticking too much, add some additional flour. Divide the dough into as many pieces as your desired braid will have. I divided mine into 6 equal pieces. Shape each one into a long rope shape, then make the braid you want and place it on a large baking sheet, lined with baking paper.
Let it sit in a warm spot for another hour, to rise again. Just before baking, brush it with an additional tablespoon of oil and bake in a preheated oven, at 190˚C (375˚F), for 15-20 minutes.
Note: As with any other baked bread, if you wish, you can brush the top with a bit of butter as soon as you take it out of the oven, for a softer crust.

12 January 2016

NO-BAKE BANANA CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE

Cheesecakes are a lovely sweet treat that almost everybody loves. They are very easy to make, and they are simple and delicious. This beauty is full of chocolate and bananas, with a crunchy chocolate base. Serve it with shaved chocolate, chocolate sauce, or simply with freshly whipped cream.

No-bake banana chocolate cheesecake recipe tinascookings.blogspot.com

Ingredients
For the base
150 grams biscuit crumbs
120 grams butter, softened
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon heavy cream
For the filling
250 grams cream cheese
200 grams ripe bananas, mashed
200 ml heavy whipping cream
100 grams milk chocolate
2 teaspoons unflavoured gelatine

No-bake banana chocolate cheesecake recipe tinascookings.blogspot.com

Preparation
To make the base, beat the butter with an electric mixer until lighter in colour and creamy, add the honey and cocoa powder, and beat for a few more minutes, until creamed and well blended. Add the heavy cream, and gradually add the ground biscuits until you get a batter that you can press into the base of a 23 cm (9-inch) spring form pan. Set the base aside and continue with the filling.
For the filling, first melt the chocolate in a double boiler and let it cool to room temperature. Next, pour two tablespoons of cold water over the gelatine and leave it for at least 10 minutes to activate. Mash the bananas very well, then set them aside. Beat the cream cheese with an electric mixer on high, until creamy, then add the bananas and blend really well.
Heat up the gelatine to dissolve it, but do not let it boil. Take a tablespoon or two of the cream cheese mixture and mix it well with the gelatine, then pour everything back to the mixture and blend well. Add in the milk chocolate and mix well. Finally, whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form, then gently fold it in. Pour this over the base, and let the cheesecake sit in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours. Yields 12 servings.

06 January 2016

MINIATURE JAM DOUGHNUTS

Plain or filled with jam, Nutella, or custard, maybe dusted with icing sugar or even drizzled with melted chocolate, there isn't a wrong way to eat a doughnut. I prefer to eat them filled with jam, those are my favourite doughnuts, but I also like them dipped in granulated sugar right after baking, that's how we used to eat them when we were kids.
Doughnuts are a type of fried confectionery pretty much everyone likes, whether they are homemade or from a local bakery. Two main types of doughnuts are yeast doughnuts and cake doughnuts. Both of them can be frosted and even filled, but for me, nothing can be compared to a lovely yeast doughnut, filled with homemade jam. Deep fried, of course.
Speaking of deep frying, yes, a lot of oil is used, and yes, some of the oil is absorbed by the doughnuts during frying. The paper towel absorbs some of it, though. You can shallow fry them to cut back on the amount of oil used, that is up to you. One last tip I have is that you do not have to make miniature doughnuts, you can make them regular, and fry them the same way (only adjust the time, because they will need a bit more time to be done in the centre).

Mini jam doughnuts recipe tinascookings.blogspot.com

Ingredients
450 grams plain flour
2 ½ teaspoons dried yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
200 ml milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 large egg yolks
5 tablespoons butter, softened
300 grams thick jam (to fill the doughnuts)

Mini jam doughnuts recipe tinascookings.blogspot.com

Preparation
Take a large bowl, pour in the warm milk, add the sugar and the yeast, mix it well and let it sit for about 10 minutes in a warm spot, so the yeast can activate. While the yeast is dissolving, sift the flour twice, set it aside. Take a medium bowl, add in the egg yolks and quickly whisk them to break them up, then add vanilla and combine it.
Once the yeast has activated, add in about half of the flour, mix well, add the yolks and combine everything with a wooden spoon. Keep mixing the dough and adding the rest of the flour, until a smooth dough forms. Transfer the dough to a floured surface, then gently knead it for about 5 minutes, gradually adding the diced butter as you knead. If the dough starts getting too sticky, add another tablespoon of flour.
Once everything is well kneaded, transfer the dough to a clean bowl, and cover it with a kitchen towel. At this point you can leave the dough to rise overnight in the refrigerator, or let it rise in a warm spot for about an hour to an hour and a half. Either way, once the dough has risen, gently knead it on a floured surface, then let it rise for another hour. Once again knead the dough lightly, then roll it out to about 1 cm thickness, and cut out circles of dough with a small cookie cutter (2.5 cm; 1").
Let the dough circles rise for about 30 minutes, while the oil is preheating. If you have a thermometer, heat the oil to about 160-170˚C (around 325˚F), otherwise just make sure the oil isn't overheated, because the doughnuts will burn. Take only a few doughnuts at a time, place them into the hot oil, cover with a lid, and let them cook for about 2-3 minutes on each side. Once they are lovely and golden, remove them on a paper towel so it can absorb some of the oil. When they are cool enough to touch, fill them with a jam of your choice (using a narrow piping nozzle helps a lot), dust them with some icing sugar and serve. Yields 45 mini doughnuts.