Double Chocolate Muffins

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I’m still sick so I’m going to keep this one short. These muffins are awesome, if you get them at the exact right time they are moist and wonderful, so start checking them at 20 minutes by poking them with a skewer, if it comes out clean you’re good to go. Even if they get overcooked a little bit the chocolate chips save the day. As with all of my muffin recipes so far it’s adapted from this Classic Muffins recipe, check it out for a great base recipe to put your own spin on. Well, I’m going back to lying curled up in the fetal position and dreaming about cooking!

Double Chocolate Muffins

Adapted from Rachel’s Classic Muffins over at Rachel Schultz.

3/4 cup milk

4 tbsp butter

1/4 cup vegetable oil

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 3/4 cups plain flour

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup caster sugar

1 tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 packet of choc chips (I used milk)

Preheat oven to 175 C, line a 12 hole muffin tin with paper liners.

Combine the milk and butter in a small saucepan, warm up on low heat until the butter has just melted.

Add the vegetable oil, eggs and vanilla and whisk until combined. Set aside.

In a large bowl combine flour, cocoa, sugars, salt, baking powder and choc chips, reserving some choc chips to sprinkle on top.

Add the wet mixture into the dry and mix until just combined, scraping the bottom of the bowl well.

Divide the mixture between the 12 paper liners, sprinkle the reserved choc chips evenly over the batter.

Bake for 20-25 mins, until a skewer poked into a muffin comes out clean.

Rest in the tin for 5 mins before transferring to a cooling rack.

Croatian Plum Jam Biscuits

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These biscuits bring to mind grandma’s with old but deft hands kneading and rolling biscuits to feed all of their children and grandchildren. At least they do for me. I think it’s the dusting of caster sugar, so old school. The amount of butter and cream in these biscuits is pretty ridiculous, I temporarily forgot about it when I ate five right after I dredged them in sugar. I will definitely put more jam in the middle next time I make them but if you like your biscuits on the less sweet side keep it at 1 tsp. I know that sounds kind of silly considering that these are covered in sugar but there is very little sugar in the dough, so pretty much all of the sweetness comes from the sugar on the outside. You can get the jam from European deli’s but I got mine from Gourmet Mix.

The dough was surprisingly easy to work with considering all of the butter, just make sure you keep dusting with flour while kneading, this prevents the dough from sticking to the counter. The original recipe uses vanilla sugar but I don’t keep that in my cupboard so I just used caster sugar and vanilla syrup, the syrup has real vanilla seeds in it and is quite strong. The other big difference to the original recipe is that I divided the dough in half to roll it out, just as a space saver.

I recommend getting the cream to room temperature before combining it with the soft butter because if the cream is cold it makes the butter harden up again and you have to mix with your hands for longer to help the butter melt (yeah, that happened). I’ve included this in my recipe so you don’t have to repeat my mistake. If you watch the video for the original recipe you will probably notice that Mira’s biscuits are longer and more steeply curved than mine turned out, I realised afterwards that my triangles needed to be shorter but wider. I am pretty happy with how they look, though, similar to tiny croissants. Don’t stress if you don’t get them even, appearance becomes less important after you taste them. Licking the sugar off you lips after taking a bite will more than make up for any disappointments you have with their looks.

Croatian Plum Jam Biscuits

Adapted from Mira Valcich’s Plum Jam Biscuits over at SBS Food.

250g unsalted butter, softened

300ml cream, room temperature

2 tbsp caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla bean syrup

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

400g (2 2/3 cups) plain flour

provdl plum jam

extra flour for dusting

extra caster sugar for dredging

Preheat the oven to 200 C.

Place the butter, cream, sugar, vanilla syrup and baking powder in a large bowl and mix together with your hands until well combined.

Add the flour in three lots, mixing well each time.

Turn out the dough onto a well floured surface and knead for 5 mins, adding extra flour to stop it from sticking.

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Cut into two pieces, set one aside.

Roll out one piece on a well floured surface until quite thin, then cut it into triangles.

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Place 1 tsp of plum jam at the thickest end of each triangle.

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Roll up starting from the thick end into a croissant shape.

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Place on a lined baking tray, curling into a crescent shape (allow room for slight spreading).

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Repeat with remaining triangles, then repeat the whole process with the second piece of dough.

Bake for 12-16 mins until light brown.

Allow to cool on trays for 5 mins, then dredge each one in the extra caster sugar.

Best eaten warm.

English Muffin Bread

IMG_0390[1] This bread tastes like ENGLISH MUFFINS! I don’t know about you but I was built on those babies. Nothing was as easy to make quickly than an English muffin smothered in butter and in high school the after school snack of choice was a little English muffin pizza. I don’t buy them very often anymore because I don’t eat as much bread as I used to and I try to steer away from things that I can’t easily make myself. It probably would only have been a matter of time before I tried home made English muffins but from the recipes I’ve seen it’s a multi-step process (more steps than this recipe, I mean). I’m not one to shy away from a complicated recipe but if I can get great results from something simpler that also makes less dishes to wash up then I’m on board.

The bread doesn’t taste very good unless it’s toasted, the same way that an English Muffin doesn’t either. I’m not sure how long the loaf would last in the fridge because I sliced mine up straight away and popped it in the freezer. This would be a great recipe for anyone interested in getting started with bread baking but feels a little intimidated by the whole process. There is no kneading and the resting time is relatively short. I bet this bread would make a really nice egg and bacon breakfast sandwich, too.

English Muffin Bread

Adapted from Tim’s English Muffin Bread over at Lottie + Doof.

2 1/2 cups bread flour

2 1/4 tsp instant yeast

1/2 tbsp caster sugar

1 tsp table salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 cups full-fat milk, heated to 48 C/ 120 F

cornmeal for dusting

Preheat oven to 190 C.

Grease a bread tin and dust with cornmeal.

Combine the bread flour, yeast, sugar, salt and baking soda in a large bowl.

Stir in the warm milk and mix until well combined.

Cover dough with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place for 30 mins.

Stir the dough to deflate and transfer to the prepared bread tin, using a greased spatula to push it into the corners.

Spray the dough with oil and cover with plastic wrap, allow to rise for 30 mins in a warm place.

Discard plastic wrap and bake bread for 30 mins, until well browned on top.

Turn out bread onto a wire rack and allow to cool completely before slicing.

Best served toasted.

Failsafe Scones

IMG_0353[1] This recipe has never let me down and I hope that it’s the same for you. I pass it on with my blessings. It’s the type of recipe that I just have to scribble down when people tell me they’ve never been good at scones. Neither was I, until this recipe found me. My favourite thing about it? No rubbing butter into flour! I hate the feeling of running flour between my fingers and the way it gets stuck under my fingernails. This also means it’s much quicker. I can turn these out in 20 mins (or I could if my oven didn’t take 20 mins to preheat!). IMG_0351[1] If you roll it out thinner than 1.5 cm then the scones will still be fluffy and delicious but they won’t have that gorgeous puffed up look to them. If you want to do mini scones roll the dough out slightly thinner and check them after 8 mins in the oven. I find that scone cutters are my preference because they have a really sharp edge that helps the scones to rise, but a drinking glass turned upside down and dipped in flour works well if you don’t think you make scones enough to invest in specialty tools.

This is how much I love this recipe. I framed it.

This is how much I love this recipe. I framed it.

This is probably one of my favourite things that decorate the house. A friend of mine bought a typewriter and when she presented me with some lovely paper and told me to type anything I wanted, all I could think of was this great scone recipe I had been making lately. It was in a dinky $2 store frame for a while until I found this pretty oval one. If you know anyone with a typewriter or if you have really nice handwriting I think a framed recipe would make a really nice present.

Failsafe Scones

Adapted from Matt Preston’s recipe for Date and Lemon Scones from Taste.

3 cups self-raising flour

2 tbsp caster sugar

pinch of salt

150ml milk

150ml cream

1 egg

Preheat oven to 200C.

In a large bowl whisk together the flour, sugar and salt.

In a separate bowl whisk together the milk, cream and egg.

Add the wet mix into the dry and stir with a bread knife until the mixture is just combined.

Turn out onto a well floured surface, dust the top with flour and roll out to 1.5cm thick.

With a medium scone cutter cut out rounds and lay them on a lined baking tray.

When you have cut as many rounds as possible, recombine the dough and roll out to 1.5cm again, cut rounds and repeat until all dough is used.

Bake scones for 10-12 mins, until the tops are light brown and the bottom sounds hollow when tapped.

Portugese Custard Tarts

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For a very long time I thought that I didn’t like custard. The custard we had as kids was from a carton and heated up in the microwave, for some reason we really liked drinking it through a straw. It was kind of thick and tasteless and I eventually just stopped eating it. My first introduction to homemade custard was when I started making custard based ice-creams. Half of the batter wouldn’t make it into the ice-cream machine, it was so good. It was a bit of a culinary epiphany. This is what custard could be like. Rich, smooth and always dotted with vanilla seeds. I still don’t eat custard very often because it’s always so hot here and I feel that there is a very small window of time to bake the wintery, rich comfort food that custard compliments so well.

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When I saw this recipe for Portugese Custard Tarts, though, my new found custard love caused my heart to flutter. I was in actual love. I couldn’t wait to make them, I couldn’t stop telling the boyfriend how much I wanted to make them. I had trouble going to sleep because the next afternoon I had a date with these beauties. Work went slowly as I counted down the minutes when I could be with them. And when they finally cooled down enough for me to eat one, they were everything I’d dreamed they would be. The only problem was that they didn’t blister on the top like the one’s in Lorraine’s pictures but it’s OK, I’m not shallow.

Lorraine (of Not Quite Nigella) uses just one sheet of puff pastry for the cases and uses all milk instead of cream. I’ve used cream but only used 1 sheet of puff pastry as well. Try a few different combinations to see what works for you. I’m giving most of this batch away to someone at my work for their birthday and I have already promised to make another batch for my house. And another batch for the boyfriend’s parents. I’m starting to see a pattern here…

Portugese Custard Tarts

Adapted from Lorraine’s Portugese Custard Tarts over at Not Quite Nigella.

3 egg yolks

1/2 cup caster sugar

2 tbsp cornflour

230 ml cream

170 ml milk

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 sheet defrosted puff pastry

Put the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour in a pan and whisk together.

Whisk the milk and cream into the eggs until no lumps remain.

Place the pan over a medium heat and cook, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens and comes to the boil.

Transfer to a bowl and mix in the vanilla extract.

Cover the custard with clingfilm, pressing it onto the surface to prevent it forming a skin.

Leave to cool.

Preheat the oven to 200 C.

Lightly grease a 12 hole, 80 ml capacity muffin tin.

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Cut the pastry sheet in half and lay the two pieces on top of each other, leave to rest for 5 mins.

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Roll up the pastry tightly from the short end.

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Mark out 12 equal pieces.

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Cut into 12 pieces.

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On a lightly floured surface roll out the discs with a rolling pin until each is 10 cm in diameter.

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Press the pastry discs into the holes in the muffin tin.

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Divide the cooled custard evenly between the 12 pastry cases and bake for 20-25 mins or until golden brown on top.

Leave tarts in the tin to cool for 5 mins then transfer to a wire rack.

Best eaten warm, store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Blueberry Muffins

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You know that feeling when a piece of the puzzle just slides into place? My first taste of these muffins had dat feel. I’ve tried quite a few muffin recipes looking for THE recipe, the one to write down in my recipe book, but none of them had me coming back for more. These are my perfect muffin. Brown on the outside, airy but substantial in the middle and studded with pockets of jammy blueberries.

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I use frozen blueberries because fresh ones can be up to $5 for a weeny little punnet whereas the 1 kg bags of frozen go for $9. Bonus, the frozen ones last indefinitely and I can whip up a batch of these whenever the mood takes me, which has been twice soon to be three times this week. The muffins themselves freeze amazingly well, only taking 30 seconds in the microwave to bring them back to their former glory.

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I find the easiest and neatest way to divide the batter into the tin is with a large ice-cream scoop (one of the kind that have the scraper in them). I bought a set of ice-cream scoops in three different sizes from eBay and I use the smallest for cookies, medium for small cupcakes and the largest for muffins. In the original recipe the butter is melted by itself and added to the other wet ingredients but I have a fear of warm butter seizing in cold milk so I warmed it all in a saucepan together.  I am yet to experiment with other flavours because I’m just so smitten with blueberry but I think lemon and poppy seed will be next on my list.

Blueberry Muffins

Very slightly adapted from Rachel’s Blueberry Muffins over at Rachel Schultz.

2 cups plain flour

1 cup caster sugar

1 tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup vegetable oil

4 tbsp butter

1 tsp vanilla essence

2 eggs

3/4 cup milk

1 1/4 cups frozen or fresh blueberries (more if you’re a berry fiend)

Preheat oven to 175 C.

Line a 12 hole muffin tray with paper liners.

Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.

In a small saucepan combine milk and butter, warm over a low heat until the butter is just melted.

Add vegetable oil, vanilla essence and eggs to the milk mixture and whisk well.

Add wet mixture into the dry and mix until just combined, then fold in the blueberries gently to avoid turning your batter grey.

Divide the batter between the 12 liners and bake for 25-30 mins, until muffins are light brown on top.

Crack Cookies

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Is the name slightly inappropriate? Possibly. But that’s what these cookies are called around these parts and I wouldn’t think of calling them anything else. They have earned this nickname for the fact that certain people (who claim to not like chocolate) find them irresistible. This recipe began it’s life as the first cookies I ever baked and this is their latest reincarnation. It was the Chocolate Chip Recipe from the Woman’s Weekly Big Book of Beautiful Biscuits, pretty much the first recipe book I ever baked from. I cut my teeth on cookies and chocolate slice but what I really loved was flipping through the pages and just imagining the food. When I look at it now I have to laugh at the typical 80’s photography and food styling but it will always have a special little place in my heart, right next to Zooper Doopers and Melody Pops.

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Most recipes for choc chip cookies are pretty conservative on the choc chip front but not these ones, they have a whole 1 1/2 packets squashed in there. This guarantees that every cookie has its fair share of chocolate and there isn’t a little pile of chocolate-less cookies left in the bottom of your cookie jar. Those cookies always make me sad.

I frequently change between dark, milk and white chocolate chips for this recipe but a favourite seems to be a mix of all three. It’s also a great way to use up any leftover choc chips or bars of chocolate you have languishing in your cupboard. The original recipe says to cook for 10-15 mins but I am a chewy cookie gal so I’ve found that 10 mins in my oven results in my perfect cookie. Start off with 10 mins and slowly increase the time to decide how you best like your cookies.

I use my mini ice-cream scoop to portion out the dough and I think I would end up in the fetal position if I ever had to roll out cookies by hand again. The cookies end up larger this way, so stick to hand rolling if you want to have the 45 little cookies that the original recipe makes. I don’t think that I ever made it to 45 when I used to roll them by hand, I would get sick of it and use the remaining dough to create one giant cookie, that I dubbed the Omni-Cookie.

Crack Cookies

Adapted from Choc-Chip Cookies, from the Women’s Weekly Big Book of Beautiful Biscuits.

125g butter, room temperature

1/2 cup caster sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar, lightly packed

1 tsp vanilla essence

1 egg

1 1/2 cups self-raising flour

1/4 cup cocoa

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 packets your choice of choc chips

Preheat oven to 170 C.

Cream together butter, sugars and vanilla until combined.

Beat in the egg and cocoa until combined.

Mix in flour and salt, when combined mix in the choc chips.

Shape teaspoonfuls into balls and place on a lined baking tray, allowing room for spreading.

Bake for 10 – 15 mins depending on cookie preference, shorter for chewy cookies, longer for crunchy cookies.