30 June 2015

STRAWBERRY CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES

Cupcakes are generally very easy to make, and almost everyone loves them. Especially if there’s chocolate. These tasty little chocolate treats are filled with homemade strawberry jam and topped with rich strawberry buttercream. Since they are in season, they are a fantastic accompaniment to desserts. The flavour is well-balanced between chocolate and strawberries, and they are perfect with afternoon coffee.

Strawberry chocolate cupcakes recipe tinascookings.blogspot.com

Ingredients:
For the cupcakes
120 grams plain flour
100 grams sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
⅓ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
6 tablespoons boiling water
2 tablespoons oil
For the filling
50 grams strawberry jam
For the frosting
100 grams butter, softened
3 tablespoons strawberry jam
200 grams icing sugar, sifted

Preparation:
Sift the plain flour right into a large bowl, sift the cocoa powder over it, then add the baking soda and the sugar and whisk everything very well. Add the boiling water, oil and the vanilla bean paste and mix with a spatula until combined. Do not overmix it, because it will make the cupcakes tough. Immediately pour the batter between in 6 standard muffin cups lined with paper liners and bake them, in a preheated oven, at 190°C (375°F), for about 12-15 minutes. Let them cool completely on a wire rack before filling and decorating.
To make the strawberry buttercream, place the softened butter in a large bowl and beat it with an electric mixer on high for about 2 minutes. Add the strawberry jam and blend really well. Finally, sift in the icing sugar in three additions, blend well and beat until smooth and creamy. If you want a thinner buttercream, add another tablespoon of the jam.
When the cupcakes are baked, take out about a teaspoon out of each cupcake (use a teaspoon or an apple corer), then add a heaping teaspoon of the jam. Place the buttercream in a decorating bag fitted with a large nozzle (Wilton 1M or 1G) and pipe a generous swirl on top of each cupcake. Yields 6 cupcakes.

23 June 2015

RASPBERRY BROWNIE CHEESECAKE

This cake is everything I love about summer fruits mixed with chocolate. Rich, dark brownie base and a tangy cheesecake filling, what’s not to love? Even though the base is quite thin, it gives a great depth of chocolate flavour, and it think you shouldn’t make it in a smaller tin, because you need it this thin. Any thicker, and it would take over the whole cake. This way, it just gives it that special touch, just like fudge sauce served over ice-cream. If you want, you can add bits of dried raspberries to the brownie base, it can only make it even better.

Raspberry brownie cheesecake recipe tinascookings.blogspot.com

Ingredients:
For the brownie base
200 grams butter
200 grams light brown sugar
40 grams unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
3 medium eggs
100 grams plain flour
1 ½ tablespoon cornflour (corn starch)
For the raspberry cheesecake filling
400 grams fresh organic raspberries
50 grams sugar
50 ml water
200 grams Mascarpone cheese
200 ml heavy cream
3 teaspoons unflavoured gelatine
For the garnish
100 grams fresh organic raspberries

Preparation:
To make the brownie base, dice the butter into a heavy bottomed pan. Sift in the cocoa powder, and melt it over medium heat until well blended. It may seem like the ingredients are not going to come together, but the butter melt slowly and mix with the cocoa. When it's completely melted, add the brown sugar, and mix well. Set it aside for a few minutes, until it cools down slightly. Add the fist egg to the warm batter and immediately whisk it in very well. Add two more eggs in the same fashion, and add the vanilla and blend really well.
When the eggs are blended in, sift in the plain flour and cornflour and gently fold it in the batter. Do not overmix, about 20-30 strokes with a spatula should be enough. Take a round baking pan with a removable bottom or sides (23 cm; 9"), grease and flour the bottom and sides, pour in the batter and gently level it. Bake it in a preheated oven, at 160°C (325°F) for about 20-25 minutes. Check it with a toothpick, to make sure it isn't overbaked. Do not run your knife around the edges, you need it to be somewhat stuck to the pan so the cheesecake filling won't leak out. Let it cool completely in the pan.
For the cheesecake filling, take the Mascarpone out of the fridge so it can come to room temperature. Place the raspberries, water and sugar in a saucepan, and bring it to a simmer over medium heat. Let it simmer for about 10 minutes, then remove it from the heat and let it stand for a few minutes, to cool down. Place the gelatine in a small bowl, pour over 4 tablespoons of cold water and leave it for about 10 minutes, to bloom. Once the raspberries are cooled and the Mascarpone has softened, place both in a large bowl and combine it with an electric mixer on low or a spatula.
Melt the gelatine over low heat (or in the microwave), take a few teaspoons of the Mascarpone mixture, mix it well with the gelatine, then pour everything back in the bowl and blend well on low. In a separate bowl, beat the heavy cream until stiff peaks form, and gently fold it in the previous batter. Pour the filling over the cooled brownie base and place the whole cake in the fridge overnight. Serve it with fresh raspberries. Yields 16 servings.

18 June 2015

SANGRIA CHOCOLATE PARFAITS

If you like Sangria and you like chilled treats, this is the right recipe for you. Sangria is a lovely summery beverage that normally consists of wine, fruit, and a small amount of brandy. This lovely parfait consists of sweet Sangria and dark cocoa powder, and it's topped with freshly whipped cream. What better way to celebrate the beginning of summer than with a sweet chilled dessert. I chose to add some additional dark chocolate on top, but you can add any summery fruit you like, just be sure to add it right before serving.

Sangria chocolate parfaits tinascookings.blogspot.com

Ingredients:
150 grams granulated sugar
120 ml cold water
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
120 ml cold Sangria
50 grams dark chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons cornflour (corn starch)
4 tablespoons cold water
200 ml heavy cream

Preparation:
Place the sugar in a heavy-bottomed pan, then shake it to distribute the sugar in an even layer. Pour over the cold water and put the pan on medium high heat and cook it, stirring occasionally until the sugar is completely dissolved, about 3-5 minutes. Remove it from the heat and add the sifted cocoa powder and stir it vigorously until the cocoa dissolves. Add the Sangria and whisk it again. In a small bowl, whisk together the cold water and cornflour.
Return the pan to the heat, pour in the cornflour and cook, stirring constantly, for about 2-3 minutes, until thickened. Remove it from the heat, add the chocolate and mix until melted. Let it cool to room temperature (or colder, so it doesn't melt the cream). Whip the heavy cream until soft peaks form, then layer the cooked Sangria pudding and the whipped cream in two tall dessert glasses. Place it in the fridge for 2-3 hours, or until completely cold. Top with fresh fruit or additional chocolate. Yields 2 servings.

12 June 2015

ULTIMATE COCOA BROWNIES

I like brownies and make them quite often. They are immensely easy to prepare, and they always taste great, no matter how you serve them - hot, with a dollop of vanilla bean ice-cream, or cold, with caramel sauce. Or even plain, just dusted with icing sugar, which is how I like them the most. One important thing you need to remember when making brownies is that you do not overbake them. That is, unfortunately, quite easy to do, as they are usually thin and can go from perfectly fudgy and baked to dry in minutes.
Since every oven is a little bit different, keep an eye on them while they bake, and check them with a toothpick. Brownies are done when a toothpick comes out with just some moist crumbs sticking to it. It is fine even if you slightly underbake them, they will still taste great. One more thing to keep in mind - the type and quality of the cocoa powder you use will determine how good your brownies taste.

Ultimate cocoa brownies tinascookings.blogspot.com

Ingredients:
150 grams butter
200 grams light brown sugar
30 grams unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
2 large eggs
45 grams plain flour
1 tablespoon cornflour (corn starch)

Preparation:
Dice the butter and put it in a heavy bottomed pan. Sift in the cocoa powder over it and melt it over medium heat until well blended. At first, it will seem like the ingredients are not going to come together, but be patient and let the butter melt slowly. Add the brown sugar, and mix well. It will look grainy at this point, and that is fine. Set it aside for a few minutes, until it cools down slightly. Crack the eggs into two separate small bowls and prepare a whisk. Add the fist egg to the warm batter and immediately whisk it in very well. If you wait too long, the residual heat in the batter will cook the egg, leaving the brownies with clumps.
Add the second egg in the same fashion, and finally, add the vanilla and blend really well. When the eggs are blended in, sift in the plain flour and cornflour and gently fold it in the batter. Do not overmix the batter, about 20-30 strokes with a rubber spatula should be enough.Take a small baking pan (18x18 cm; 7x7"), grease and flour the bottom and sides, pour in the batter and gently level it. Bake it in a preheated oven, at 160°C (325°F) for about 15-20 minutes. Check it with a toothpick, to make sure it isn't overbaked. Let it cool completely before serving.

06 June 2015

STRAWBERRY ROSE PETAL JAM

This is a lovely, delicate, flavourful and fragrant jam. Heaps of fresh organic strawberries mixed with delicate rose petals to produce a very unique flavour that will brighten up any breakfast or tea. To aid the fragrance of the petals, rosewater is added at the very end. While most roses are edible, some of them have more flavour than others.
Red and pink roses are most often used for jams, and my recommendation would be pink roses. It is best to use home-grown roses that haven't been sprayed at all, but just to make sure, you need to wash them in cold water. Pick your favourite rose and enjoy it in every bite of this lovely jam. The final product is a rich a fragrant jam, not too sweet, with just a hint of tartness from the fresh strawberries. It also makes a beautiful homemade edible gift.


Ingredients:
1 kilogram fresh organic strawberries
100 grams granulated sugar
20 rose petals (one small pink rose)
300 grams jam sugar (2:1)
½ teaspoon rosewater

Preparation:
Remove the petals from the rose, remove the bottom section of each one and wash them gently in cold water. Make sure to remove any bruised or discoloured ones. You can leave them in cold water while you prepare the fruit. Wash and clean the strawberries, then dice them into a large, heavy bottomed pot. Press them gently with a wooden spoon, sprinkle on the granulated sugar and leave them for about 30 minutes.
Place the pot on the stove, over medium high heat, add the drained petals and bring it to a boil. Let it boil, undisturbed, for about 2 minutes, then let the jam cook, stirring often, to avoid burning, for 30 more minutes. You can mash the fruit with a wooden spoon while it cooks. At this point, add the jam sugar, cook for another 5 minutes and remove it from the heat. Stir in the rosewater and fill the prepared jars. Yields 500 grams of jam.