30 August 2015


I love all brownies, as I do love all chocolate, but these little gems are a thing of beauty. Dark chocolate in the brownies, dark chocolate in the frosting, and a sweet, rich caramel glaze. The perfect symphony of flavours. Although these are a chocolate lover's dream, I have to add that the strong chocolate flavour is very prominent, as the recipe uses dark cocoa powder and dark chocolate (70%). So slice them up into small pieces and serve with a tall glass of cold milk, or a hot cup of coffee.

Double chocolate caramel brownies recipe tinascookings.blogspot.com

For the brownies
150 grams butter
30 grams unsweetened cocoa powder
100 grams sugar
2 eggs
60 grams plain flour
2 tablespoons powdered milk
1 teaspoon powdered vanilla
100 grams dark chocolate, chopped roughly
For the Ganache frosting
100 grams dark chocolate, chopped finely
8 tablespoons heavy cream
For the topping
4 tablespoons caramel sauce

Dice the butter into a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Place it over medium heat, sift in the cocoa powder and keep whisking until everything melts and blends well. Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the sugar. Mix for a few seconds until the sugar starts to dissolve, then add the eggs, one at a time, whisking well after each. It is perfectly fine if it looks a bit grainy when you add the sugar, it will become smooth and glossy as soon as you mix in the second egg.
Finally, sift in flour, powdered milk and vanilla, add the chopped chocolate, and gently fold everything in the batter until only combined. Do not overmix. Grease (or line) a small baking pan (16x16 cm; 6x6-inch), pour in the batter and bake in a preheated oven, at 170˚C (340˚F), for about 15-20 minutes. Check it with a toothpick, just to make sure the brownies do not overbake. Let them cool in the pan for about 30 minutes, then remove them and let them cool completely on a wire rack.
To make the frosting, chop up the chocolate and place it into a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Pour over the heavy cream and place the saucepan on medium high heat. Keep stirring and melting until the chocolate and cream are combined. The Ganache will be smooth and runny at this point. Let it cool almost completely; the cooler the frosting is, the easier it will be to frost and serve the brownies. Once everything is ready, place the baked and cooled brownie on the serving plate, frost it with cooled Ganache and generously drizzle the top with caramel sauce. Cut it into 12 or 16 small pieces and serve.

24 August 2015


Coffee and chocolate are one of the best flavour combinations out there. The coffee enhances the chocolate flavour, and deepens it. These cupcakes are quite quick to make and enjoy. Less than half an hour to make and bake them, then a few more minutes to make the frosting and they are done. This is a small batch of just six of them, but if you are serving a crowd, just double or triple the ingredients and it will be fine. If you do make a large batch, make sure you check them carefully for doneness, and rotate the pans during the baking. You can serve them with a few chocolate covered espresso beans on top, if you like.

For the cupcakes
120 grams plain flour
4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons espresso powder
60 grams butter, softened
100 grams sugar
1 medium egg
60 ml hot milk
100 grams mini chocolate chips
For the buttercream
75 grams butter, softened
2 teaspoons espresso powder
100 grams icing sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon heavy cream

Sift together the plain flour with the unsweetened cocoa, baking powder and espresso powder, and set it aside. In a large bowl, cream together the softened butter with the sugar, until creamy, smooth and lighter in colour. Add the room temperature egg, and blend with an electric mixer on high, until completely incorporated. At this point, start heating up the milk and remove it from the heat just as it is about to start boiling. Add half of the dry ingredients to the creamed butter and sugar, mix briefly, then add half of the hot milk.
Blend well and repeat one more time, using up all of the dry ingredients and the milk. Finally, fold in the chocolate chips. Divide the batter between six standard muffin cups (lined with paper liners) and bake it in a preheated oven, at 190˚C (375˚F) for about 20 minutes. The batter is rather dense and it will bake for a bit longer than a usual batter, so check them regularly with a toothpick to make sure they do not overbake. Once baked, remove them from the oven and let them cool completely.
While the cupcakes are cooling, make the mocha frosting. Beat the softened butter with an electric mixer on high, for a minute or two, until completely creamy. Add the sifted cocoa powder and espresso powder and blend really well. Ideally, beat the frosting about a minute after each ingredient is added. When it becomes creamy, add the sifted icing sugar in a few additions, beating well after each addition. Finally, add the heavy cream and blend well. If you want to spread the icing instead of piping it, you can add another tablespoon of heavy cream. Frost the cupcakes to your liking and serve. Yields 6 standard cupcakes.

18 August 2015


Rye grain has many uses, for flour, beer, whiskeys, and even some vodkas. It can also be eaten whole, as rye berries (cooked), or as rolled rye (flakes). Whole rye kernels are usually called rye berries. To make them softer, you soak them in water overnight, and then cook them according to the needs of the recipe. This is a pretty basic bread recipe, hearty and dense.
Adding the rye berries makes it even more delicious, with just a slightest crunch from the berries. The strong, aromatic rye berries are a fantastic addition for breads served with spicy dishes, like this one. When choosing whole rye kernels, always go for the organic produce, as they are grown naturally, and they don't have a bad effect on your health or the soil where they are grown.

Rustic rye berry bread loaf recipe tinascookings.blogspot.com

For the rye berries
150 grams whole rye berries
300 ml cold water
For the bread
500 grams plain flour
For the starter
300 grams plain flour
300 ml warm water
2 teaspoons dry yeast
For the dough
200 grams plain flour
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt

Start by washing the rye berries, then letting them sit overnight in 500 ml cold water. They will not expand nor absorb much of the water, but they will soften up, and that is what you need. Next day drain them really well, then put them in a large pot, add 1,2 litre (about 5 cups) ml cold water and bring them to a boil over high heat. Once they start to boil, lower the heat to medium high and let them cook, stirring occasionally, for 45-60 minutes. Be careful towards the end of cooking time, because they can stick to the bottom of the pan.
Before you start cooking the rye berries, make the starter for the dough. Place 300 grams of the plain flour in a large bowl, add the yeast and the warm water and mix really well, until everything is smooth and well blended. Let this starter rise in a warm place for about an hour. When the starter has risen and the rye berries are cooked, drain them and let them cool down. Add them to the starter and mix them through, gently but thoroughly.
Add the rest of the flour, salt and oil, and mix until a dough starts to form. Transfer it to a floured surface and knead for at least 5 minutes by hand, this will make the dough more elastic. Shape it into a round loaf and let it rise in a warm spot for about an hour, then bake in a preheated oven, at 200˚C (400˚F) for 25 minutes, then for 35 more minutes at 180˚C (350˚F), because the bread is dense and you need it to cook thorough. Let it cool down slightly, then slice it up and serve. Yields one standard (23 cm; 9") loaf.

12 August 2015


Brownies are a very versatile dessert. You can make them fudgy, cakey, with or without hazelnuts or almonds, or even raisins. Or you can make them into cupcakes. These lovely fudgy brownie cupcakes are dense and chewy, and full of dark chocolate. The topping is fairly simple, but do not let that fool you. Heavy cream is there for a reason – to cut the richness of the brownie cupcakes. Make sure to serve them well chilled, with plenty of whipped cream.

Brownie cupcakes recipe tinascookings.blogspot.com

100 grams butter
100 grams dark chocolate
100 grams sugar
1 egg
5 tablespoons plain flour
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
250 ml heavy cream

Dice the butter and put it in a heavy bottomed pan. Add the chopped chocolate and let it melt over medium heat until well blended. Remove it from the heat and stir in the sugar gradually. Mix it well and add the egg and vanilla. Quickly and vigorously stir it in. The batter will become thicker. When the egg is blended in, sift in the plain flour and cocoa powder, and gently fold it in the batter. Do not overmix the batter, about 20-30 strokes with a spatula should be enough. Line a standard muffin tin with 6 paper liners and evenly divide the batter. Bake them in a preheated oven, at 170°C (340°F) for about 15-20 minutes. Check them with a toothpick, to make sure they don't overbake. Let them cool completely. Whip the heavy cream until soft peaks form, pipe it on the cupcakes and serve.

06 August 2015


Flaky pastry is generally easier to make than puff pastry, but requires the same rolling and folding technique. This is my version of the flaky pastry, with Feta cheese in the dough itself. I love the tanginess the Feta gives, it makes the pastry very delicious in both savoury and sweet versions. Important thing to keep in mind is to make sure you do not handle the dough too much with your hands and keep all the ingredients as cold as you can, it will make the process easier. As all the ingredients are cold, the warmth of your hands can make the butter melt a little bit, and make the dough sticky. And don't fear the honey in the recipe, it will not make the pastry sweet, it just balances the richness of Feta.

Double feta flaky pastry recipe tinascookings.blogspot.com

For the flaky pastry
400 grams plain flour
120 grams butter, cold
120 grams Feta cheese
1 medium egg
1 tablespoon runny honey
120 ml whole milk, cold
2 teaspoons dried yeast
½ teaspoon salt
For the filling
250 grams Feta cheese

Take your cold butter and dice it, then place it in the freezer for about 10 minutes. Place the Feta cheese in a large bowl, mash it slightly with a fork, then add the egg and blend really well with an electric mixer on medium. Add the honey and salt and blend again. Set the bowl aside. Sift half of the flour into a large bowl and add the cold butter. Rub the butter into the flour using your fingers or a pastry blender, until it is completely incorporated. Once a fine mixture forms, add a bit more flour and combine it well. Add the butter and flour to the Feta mixture, add the yeast, and blend it well with an electric mixer on low. Drizzle in the cold milk and blend one more time with a mixer. Sift in the rest of the flour and quickly form a dough with a wooden spoon or a very sturdy spatula.
Turn the dough out on a floured surface and gather it with your hands, pat it down and roll it out to about 5 millimetres thick (¼-inch). Brush any excess flour off the dough surface, then fold each outer fourth to the centre. Fold it like a book (to get one long rectangle), roll it further with a rolling pin, then fold it in the same fashion as before. Once you get a perfect square of cold dough, place it on a platter, wrap it well with plastic wrap, and place it in the fridge overnight. Make sure it is wrapped really well, because any exposed areas will dry out.
Next morning, take the dough out of the fridge and let it sit on a floured surface for about 5-10 minutes, depending on how warm your room is. Roll it out to about 5 millimetres thick and cut out rectangles in desired size. Make sure you cut out an even number of pastry pieces. Gather the scraps into a dough, roll it out and repeat. Than take one piece of the dough, place a bit of Feta in the centre, brush the edges with water, then cover it with another pastry piece. Press the edges with a fork to make sure nothing leaks out during the baking and place it on a large baking sheet lined with baking paper. Let them rest and rise slightly, for about 15 minutes, then bake in a preheated oven, at 200˚C (400˚F), for 12-15 minutes. Yields about 800 grams (28 oz) of flaky pastry.