Monday, 30 May 2011

Blondes vs Brunettes

Blondes vs Brunettes - who has more fun?  It's an age old question, but has anyone ever come up with a solid answer?  I'm afraid I'll never be able to come up with the answer because I'm a blonde.  Always have been, always will be.  BUT - I could definitely try to answer that question with a totally unscientific experiment that came straight from my kitchen.

So let's ask ourselves the question again: Who What is more fun? The Blondie or the Brownie?


As I was in the process of making the Baked Brownies I posted about earlier, I decided that it would be the perfect opportunity to compare brownies vs blondies, and see which one comes out on top.  Ever since I returned from the US in March I'd had an idea to make a rich and chewy coconut blondie that would make use of my last and final coveted big bag of Coconut M&M's.  If you follow me on Twitter you may have seen me tweeting my rave reviews of the Coconut M&M.  They're probably my favourite M&M (aside from the peanut butter ones), and I really wish they'd bring them to the UK. The M&M's themselves are coconut flavoured chocolate and come in white, brown and green colours. Oh, and they also have cute little palm trees and beach umbrellas printed on them!  Perhaps when the huge M&M World store opens up in London this summer we may have a chance of readily buying them in the UK.  Until then you can get them in  specialty stores that sell American candy, as well as online here via Amazon UK.


I combined the Coconut M&M's together with toasted coconut and white chocolate chips to create a deliciously sweet and chewy blondie that definitely put a challenge to it's rival brownie.  

So, who won the battle?  Well, although they were both absolutely delicious I knew going in that the blondies had a slight edge over the brownies when they sat side by side on our kitchen counter, and my husband couldn't stop eating the blondies.  And he doesn't even like coconut!!!  I brought both of them into work with me the next day and let my co-workers do the talking.  It was a tough decision, but judging by the positive reviews that I received on both of them, I think that the blondies won.  Perhaps it was because although the Baked Chocolate Brownies were super good, the Coconut M&M blondies were a totally different flavour experience than anyone had ever had before.  Either way, whatever you choose be it blondies or brownies you're bound to have fun making  - and eating these!  


Coconut M&M White Chocolate Blondies

Ingredients:

3/4 Cup (170g) Butter, softened
1 1/2 Cups (300g) Brown Sugar, firmly packed
2 Large Eggs
2 tsp Vanilla Bean Paste, (vanilla extract will work as well)
1 1/2 Cups (188g) Flour
1 1/4 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
1 Cup Toasted Coconut
1 Cup Coconut M&M's, plus 1/3 Cup for sprinkling on top
1/2 Cup White Chocolate Chips

Instructions:

1.  Preheat oven to 350 F.  Butter the bottom and sides of a 13x9 (roughly 33cm x 23cm) baking pan , or spray with cooking spray.  (I prefer to line my pan with greased parchment paper so I can lift the whole tray of brownies out and cut them.  It's so much easier than trying to cut them in the pan!)  

2.  In a small bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt together and set aside.  In a large bowl combine the butter and brown sugar, and beat until light and fluffy.  Next add in the eggs one at a time, beating well before adding the next one to ensure they don't curdle with the butter mixture.  Mix in the vanilla.

3.  Fold in the flour mixture to the butter mixture until just combined.  Next, fold in the coconut, M&M's and white chocolate chips until combined throughout.  Spread evenly into your prepared baking pan and bake in the middle of the oven for 30 - 40 mins, or until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs on it.   Cool the brownies on a rack completely before cutting.  *Just like the Baked Brownies, I had to cook my blondies for slightly longer (closer to 40 minutes) because my pan was a tad smaller than a standard 13x9 pan.  If you lined your pan with greased parchment paper like I did, let the brownies cool in the pan for about 15 minutes before lifting them out onto a cooling rack.


So, what do you think?  Who has more fun? Blondes or Brunettes?  I'll let you decide!



Baked Brownies


Every once in a while you hear about something that's supposedly "out of this world" and you think to yourself "yeah, I must remember to make that one day".  C'mon, we all do it - whether it's bookmarking something we've seen online, tearing a page out of a magazine, or putting a sticky note inside our newest cookbook.  But how many of those things do we ever actually get around to baking? Be honest - if you're like me it's probably only around 20%.  

It's only when I keep on hearing about something over and over again, that I know I definitely HAVE to make it ASAP.  And that was the case of these brownies.  Chances are if you're into baking you've probably come across a mention (or several) of the infamous award winning Baked Brownie.  Originally sold in the New York Bakery appropriately called Baked, this Brownie has been named Best Brownie by America's Test Kitchen and the Today Show.


Over the past few months I'd been hearing so much about these infamous brownies and how delicious they were that I finally gave in and ordered the Baked - New Frontiers in Baking cookbook that I'd had at the top of my Amazon wish list for months. 

This book is packed full of amazingly mouthwatering and delicious recipes, I'm a bit annoyed that it took me so long to purchase it.  Perhaps it's because I have a whack load of recipe books sitting next to my sofa waiting to be read, baked from and reviewed, but I just couldn't help myself with this one. I had to have it!

Immediately after leafing through all the recipes and bookmarking practically every page, I went into the kitchen to make those brownies.  Wow!  They were seriously good, seriously fudgey and seriously addicting!  I can't argue with their award winning status - they totally deserve it!



The Baked Brownie
From Baked New Frontiers in Baking

Ingredients:

1 1/4 Cups (157g) Flour 
1 tsp Salt 
2 Tbs Dark Cocoa Powder (I used Green & Blacks) 
11 oz (311g) Bittersweet Chocolate (60-72%), chopped coarsely 
1 Cup (227g) Unsalted Butter, cut into 1-inch pieces 
1 tsp Instant Espresso Powder 
1 1/2 Cups (338g) Sugar 
1/2 Cup (100g) Light Brown Sugar (Muscavado), firmly packed 
5 Large Eggs, room temperature 
2 tsp Vanilla Extract

Instructions:

1.  Preheat oven to 350 F.  Butter the bottom and sides of a 13x9 (roughly 33cm x 23cm) baking pan , or spray with cooking spray.  (I prefer to line my pan with greased parchment paper so I can lift the whole tray of brownies out and cut them.  It's so much easier than trying to cut them in the pan!)  

2.  Whisk the flour, salt and cocoa powder together in a medium bowl and set aside. 

3.  Place the chocolate, butter, and espresso powder in a heatproof bowl and set it over a pot of simmering water, stirring occasionally until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and combined together.  Remove the bowl from the heat and add in the sugars.  Whisk to combine completely and then let the mixture cool to room temperature.  

4.  Add three of the eggs to the chocolate mixture and whisk until just combined.  Next, add the remaining two eggs and whisk again until just combined.  Add the vanilla and stir until just combined.  **Do not overbeat at this stage or your brownies will be cakey.  

5.  Sprinkle the dry ingredients over the chocolate mixture, and use a spatula to gently fold them into the chocolate.  Fold the flour mixture until just little a trace of the flour is visible.  

6.  Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the top so it's flat.  Bake the brownies for 30 minutes (rotating the pan halfway through the baking time), or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached.  *The closest pan to a 13x9 pan I have in the UK is roughly about 12x9, so I had to cook my brownies a few minutes longer than suggested.  Cool the brownies on a rack completely before cutting.  *If you lined your pan with greased parchment paper like I did, let the brownies cool in the pan for about 15 minutes before lifting them out onto a cooling rack.


Like I said before these brownies are seriously good! Even putting these in the freezer to try and prevent you from eating them all won't work cuz they're even good frozen!  I had to bring them into work where they were promptly gobbled up to rave reviews!


On a side note, I just wanted to mention that due to issues with Blogger, I've decided to extend my Salter Scale giveaway until 11:59pm Tuesday May 31st.  I've received several emails and tweets letting me know that they couldn't become a follower or leave a comment on the post because of these issues. Now that Blogger seems to be somewhat back to normal I'm extending the contest by another 2 days.  Please do let me know if you're still not able to comment or follow and I will add you into the giveaway myself.  

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Macaron Successes, Failures and a Giveaway!


It was about 2.5 years ago (shortly after moving to the UK)  that I was flipping through a magazine when something caught my eye.  Something magnificent that I'd never seen before.  No, it wasn't a pair of designer shoes or a pretty dress.  It was a cookie!  But not just any cookie.  These cookies were colourful fancy little things with pretty ruffled edges.  I scoured the page to find out what they were called and where I could get them.  Macarons. I'd never heard of them before - except for the American coconut haystack kind (aka macaroons).  I immediately googled macarons to see how I could make them.  At that time only a few websites & blogs popped up that actually featured recipes for macarons, each of them explaining how finicky they were to make.  Age your egg whites, fold the batter until it flows like magma - (no more than 50 strokes), don't make them on a humid day, let the piped macarons rest on the counter for 45 mins,  leave the oven door propped open with a wooden spoon, and only listen to smooth jazz while making them - ok, that last one is a lie, but you get the picture.  It seemed as if the odds to make these pretty little cookies were stacked against me.  Never the less a few days later I decided to bake my very first batch of macarons.  I did all of those things I mentioned above (except for the jazz), and you know what?  My macarons actually turned out pretty darn good for my first try!  They had the frilly little feet and everything!  I was thrilled with them, and gloated to myself that they really weren't that hard to make!  Well, fast forward 2.5 years, and I've made dozens of batches of macarons, but sadly only about 50% of them have actually turned out well enough to even be called a macaron.  I didn't know what I was doing wrong.  My beginners luck had run out shortly after I made my first batch, and it seemed like each batch I made was completely hit or miss - even if I used the exact same recipe as the time before.  Macarons started getting increasingly popular on the blogging and baking scene, and I was constantly reading new blog posts and trying new recipes out.  I got pretty discouraged after a while, and to be honest I probably went a good year without baking another batch of macarons - until now.  Recently I came across a blog post by Brave Tart where she described her exact recipe and method of macaron making.  What made Brave Tart's recipe and method so different from all the others I'd come across what that none of those crazy "rules" that I mentioned above applied!  It didn't matter if the egg whites were aged, room temperature or cold, humid days were no problem at all.  And I believed her!  Why?  Because she confirmed my thoughts all along.  You see, Brave Tart is a restaurant pastry chef who makes batches upon batches of macarons each day, and if she had to adhere to all those crazy rules ALL the time, she may only be able to produce and sell her macarons 3 days a week!  So, this past weekend I gave Brave Tart's recipe a try.  Three trys to be exact.  Each time I managed to get at least one tray of perfect looking macarons.  Sometimes I aged the egg whites, and sometimes I used fresh cold ones. They worked each time.  I did however have a few issues, but I don't believe they're the fault of the recipe. 





My latest macaron baking sessions allowed me to come to the conclusion that my oven is - well basically a piece of crap.  Why?  Well, to be honest I've never really been a fan of my tiny UK oven - especially after discovering that some of my North American pans are too big to fit inside. But the size isn't what annoyed me this week.  It's the fact that my oven only has a top element - not a bottom and a top element like most of the ovens I'm used to.  This results in a lot of my baking browning on the top in order for it to become fully cooked throughout.  In fact, I'll often have to cover whatever I'm baking with a sheet of aluminum foil to prevent it from browning as it continues to cook.  This was reflected in the 3 batches of macarons I baked over the weekend, and led me to believe that my oven may likely be the main reason why my macarons have been so hit and miss over the past couple of years.  I tinted the first batch bright pink, and I was really pleased with the way they were looking in the oven until I noticed that they were starting to brown slightly around the edges, making the colour a little uneven.  The other thing I noticed when I took them out of the oven after the recommended baking time was that the bottoms weren't nice smooth (and lets face it - we all want nice smooth bottoms don't we!)  Instead my macarons had slightly moist and sticky bottoms - a result of there being no direct heat underneath my macarons.  I came to this conclusion after reading this article from Syrup and Tang that explains the differences between the 4 main types of ovens & their heating elements.  The article stated "If you have a crappy electric oven with an element just at the top (type D), abandon much hope of easy macaron making without a serious oven stone of some sort to store heat in the lower part of the oven."  That explains a lot!  As I mentioned before, my oven is fan assisted with the only heating element located at the top.  I've tested the temperature regulation of my oven before using a thermometer, and although it does reach the exact temperature I set the oven to, the temperature will vary by about 10ºC-15ºC throughout the duration of the baking time. Not good!  Basically thanks to the Syrup and Tang article I've come to the conclusion that I'll need to create a heat source at the bottom of my oven using my pizza stone.  I haven't had a chance to try that yet, but I definitely will sometime soon!

Anyways, lets get back to my macarons! Although all 3 batches of my macarons turned out, I was most pleased with the look of my final batch.  In order to avoid my macarons from noticeably discolouring I opted to leave them au-natural.  I made a plain vanilla flavoured macaron and filled them with Speculoos (a subtle gingerbread flavoured spread similar to peanut butter).  I also had a few extra Speculoos cookies laying around which I crumbled and sprinkled on top of the macaron shells before baking them.  These were so so good!  And thanks to Brave Tart's recipe they were also so so easy to bake!  For this particular batch I opted not to age my egg whites or bring them to room temperature.  I just used cold ones straight from the fridge.  Although I did get those pretty little feet around the edges of all my macarons, I do think that the best feet were achieved in my first batch (the ones that discoloured & that I ate before taking any real photos) when I used egg whites that were aged for 2 days at room temperature. 





Vanilla & Speculoos French Macarons
Slightly adapted from Brave Tart

4 ounces (115g) Almond flour, or whatever nut you like
8 ounces (230g) Powdered sugar
5 ounces 
(144g) Egg whites , temperature and age not important!
2 1/2 ounces (72g) Sugar
The scrapings of 1 vanilla bean or 2 tsp vanilla extract (I used vanilla bean paste)
1/2 tsp (2g) Salt

1 Belgian Speculoos cookie - crushed up

Belgian Speculoos Spread (Peanut butter or Nutella would also go well)

Instructions:

1. Preheat the oven to 300° and have ready a large (18”) pastry bag, fitted with a plain circle tip, along with two sheet pans lined with parchment paper.

2.  Process the almond flour and powdered sugar in a food processor for a minute or two in order to get rid of any little almond chunks.   Set aside.

3.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the egg whites, sugar, vanilla bean (not the extract), and salt and turn the mixer to medium (4 on a Kitchen Aid). Whip for 3 minutes. They will not seem especially foamy at that point.  

Increase the speed to medium-high (7 on a Kitchen Aid) and whip another 3 minutes, then crank the speed to 8 for go another 3 minutes.  

At that point, turn the mixer off and add in any extracts/flavor/color and whip for a final minute on the highest speed, just to show it who’s boss (and to evenly distribute the color/flavor).  At the end of this minute, you should have a very stiff, dry meringue.

When you remove the whisk attachment, there will be a big clump of meringue in the center, just knock the whisk against the bowl to free it. If the meringue has not become stiff enough to clump inside the whisk, continue beating for another minute, or until it does so.

4.  Now dump in the dry ingredients all at once and fold them in with a rubber spatula. Use both a folding motion (to incorporate the dry ingredients) and a pressing motion, to deflate the meringue against the side of the bowl.

First timers: the dry ingredients/meringue will look hopelessly incompatible. After about 25 turns (or folds or however you want to call “a single stroke of mixing”) the mixture will still have a quite lumpy and stiff texture. Another 15 strokes will see you to “just about right.” Keep in mind that macaronage is about deflating the whites, so don’t feel like you have to treat them oh-so-carefully. You want to knock the air out of them.

Undermixed macaron batter: quite stiff. If you spoon some out and drop it back into the mix, it will just sit there and never incorporate. Do this test before bagging your batter and save yourself the trouble of baking of undermixed macarons!

Overmixed macaron batter: has a runny, pancake batter-like texture. It will ooze continuously, making it impossible to pipe into pretty circles. Um, try not to reach that point.

You can evaluate your batter one stroke at a time, no rush.  Essentially, the macaron batter needs enough thickness that it will mound up on itself, but enough fluidity that after 20 seconds, it will melt back down. I’ve heard people describe this consistency as lava-like, or molten, and that’s pretty apt.

5.  Transfer about half the batter to a piping bag. (When your bag is too full, the pressure causes the batter to rush out in a way that’s difficult to control, making for sloppy macarons.)  Pipe the batter into the pre-traced circles on the baking sheet. Stop piping just shy of the borders of the circle, as the batter will continue to spread just a bit.  After piping your macarons, take hold of the sheet pan and it hard against your counter. Rotate the pan ninety degrees and rap two more times. This will dislodge any large air bubbles that might cause your macarons to crack.  Sprinkle the tops with the crushed Speculoos cookies.  

Bake for about 18 minutes, or until you can cleanly peel the parchment paper away from a macaron. If, when you try to pick up a macaron, the top comes off in your hand, it’s not done.  Once the macarons have baked, cool thoroughly on the pans, before peeling the cooled macarons from the parchment. Use a metal spatula if necessary.

6.  To fill your macarons take a large dollop of  Speculoos and carefully smooth it on the bottom of a macaron before sandwiching another macaron of similar size and shape on top to create the finished macaron.  

Macarons, against all pastry traditions, actually get better with age. The shells soften and become more chewy, mingling with the flavor of the buttercream too. So, while of course you can eat them right away, don’t hesitate to store them refrigerated for up to a week. If at all possible, set them out at room temperature for a few hours before consuming, because cold buttercream is kinda gross.




I'm so excited that I found this recipe, and Brave Tart herself has been wonderful about getting back to my tweets and emails full of questions!  I can't wait to make these again using different flavours, fillings and colours.  Next time I'll use the pizza stone as a bottom heat source and will let you know whether or not its successful.


And now onto something really exciting!  Everyone knows that the key to making a good macaron is a good kitchen scale, so I was delighted when lovely folks over at Salter UK provided me with a beautiful new MyScale kitchen scale to test out.  I decided that making these macarons would be the perfect opportunity for me to try it out.  The scale is definitely the prettiest kitchen scale I've ever seen, and it's also pretty cool because you can customise the pattern on it to whatever you like!





The Salter MyScale Personalised scale is customisable allowing you to change the display image to suit your tastes and kitchen decor.  It comes with 2 ready made designs - a pastel polka dot background and  a beautiful silvery grey damask pattern that I LOVE!  But if you don't like either of those patterns then the really cool thing is that you can upload and print out your own design using a picture of your choice by visiting the MyScale website.




The digital display is back-lite which makes it easy to read, and the buttons are really sensitive to the touch, so there's no need to push down hard on them in order to reset it or change the measuring units.  (I had to do this with my old scale and it was a pain!)  You can easily switch from grams to ounces and milliliters to fluid ounces at the touch of a button, so there's no need for measuring cups.  The scale turns off automatically after a few minutes, but instead of the digital display turning completely blank, it reverts to a clock!  The scale is also wall mountable so that you can use it as a pretty piece of art and a clock when you're done baking in order to save valuable counter top space!  See - told you it was pretty cool!





Now here's the best part!  Salter UK has kindly provided me with a 2nd MyScale to giveaway to one of my readers!   To enter all you have to do is leave a comment below telling me what design you would choose to use on your MyScale.  Additional entries can be earned by doing the following:


  • Become a follower of Made With Pink using Google Friend Connect
  • Become a fan of Made With Pink on Facebook 
  • Follow Made With Pink on Twitter and tweet the following message:  I've just entered to win a customisable #Salter_MyScale from @Made_With_Pink and you can too! Visit http://tiny.cc/nehz9
Links to all of the above are in the right hand column.  Maximum of 4 entries per person.  The winning comment will be chosen at random

You can also follow Salter UK on Twitter here: @SalterUK and as well as on Facebook

Open to UK residents only.  Contest closes at 11:59pm Sunday May 29th.  Winner will be announced the week of May 30th.  

*** Just a reminder that you MUST leave a comment below in order to be entered into the prize draw, otherwise I have no way of keeping track of who tweeted, followed etc.  If you make a comment anonymously then please leave an email address so I can contact you if you win. You should leave a separate comment for each of the 3 things listed above if you want to be entered more than once.  I will be using random.org to choose a number from all of the comments listed below in order to determine the winner. *** 


Alternately if you can't wait to find out if you've won the MyScale you can purchase it via Amazon here:   





Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Lemon & Lime Blueberry Strusel Muffins

Lately I've been on a bit of a fruit kick, but I'll admit that sometimes I buy too much which results in some of the fruit going a bit mouldy before I can eat it.  To avoid this I'll often throw what I know I can't eat into the freezer so I can use it in smoothies or muffins later.  I love muffins.  Blueberry are probably my favorite, but I've just never found a blueberry muffin recipe that I was 100% satisfied with - until now.  Last week I was cleaning out our fridge & freezer when I came across a few things that I just knew once combined would make a super delicious muffin.  Frozen blueberries, a few lemons and limes, and some sour cream.  The results were delicious.  They're not too greasy, and they've got just the right amount of lemon & lime zest in them.  I would definitely make again - and that's saying a lot, because although 99% of the things I bake are totally yummy I don't usually bake the same thing more than once because I'm always looking to try something new. 


I prefer to use frozen blueberries in these muffins because they're solid, so won't turn your batter purple when stirring them in.  You can either purchase pre-frozen blueberries, or do what I do and just buy a container of fresh blueberries and pop them straight in the freezer.



Lemon & Lime Blueberry Strusel Muffins
Makes 12 Muffins

Muffin Ingredients:

2 Eggs
3/4 Cup (170g) White Sugar
3/4 Cup (150g) Brown (Muscavado) Sugar
1/2 Cup (125ml) Vegetable Oil
1/2 tsp Vanilla
1 Cup (250ml) Sour Cream
2 Cups (250g) Flour
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
3/4 Tbsp Lemon Zest (approx 3 Lemons)
1/2 Tbsp Lime Zest (approx 2 Limes)
1 1/2 Cups Frozen Blueberries

Strusel Topping:

2 Tbsp + 1 tsp (32g) Butter
1/3 Cup + 1 Tbsp (78g) Brown Sugar
1/4 Cup (32g) Flour
1/4 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Lemon Zest

1.  Preheat oven to 400ºF (200ºC) and line a 12 hole muffin tin with paper muffin liners.  In a small bowl combine all of the Strusel topping ingredients and basically smoosh them together with your hands until small little crumbly bits form.  Set aside.

2.  In one bowl combine the flour, salt, baking soda and cinnamon and set aside.  In a separate bowl beat the eggs, while gradually adding the sugars.  Next gradually pour in the oil and continue beating.  Lastly add in the vanilla and sour cream and mix until combined. 

3.  Gently fold the dry ingredients in with the wet until just combined.  It's ok if there's a few lumps - just make sure not to over mix.  Lastly add in the blueberries, lemon and lime zest and lightly stir until just combined.  Pour and divide the mixture evenly into your muffin pan and sprinkle the tops of each muffin with a generous amount of the strusel topping.  Bake for 20 - 25 mins (until a toothpick comes out clean).  Let the muffins cool slightly before serving. 


The only thing I would have done differently with this recipe would have been to add a bit more strusel topping on each muffin.  I sprinkled what looked like an ok amount on top of the unbaked muffins, but once they cooked and puffed up a it the strusel topping looked a bit wimpy on top.  I'd recommend covering the entire top in strusel topping, which should result in a nicer look, crunch & flavour once the muffins are baked.


These muffins freeze well in an airtight container or ziplock bag for up to a month.  When you're ready to eat them simply take them out of the freezer about an hour before and leave them to defrost at room temperature uncovered (so the tops don't go soft & sticky)

Enjoy!

Friday, 13 May 2011

These Will Change Your Life

Every once in a while you come across something that gets you thinking "where have you been all my life?".  You know what I'm talking about.  It's the kind of feeling you get when you discover something so earth shattering you just know it's gonna change your life.  Take the iPhone for example - sure,  I could have lived without mine a year ago cuz I didn't know any better, but now..... well, I'd rather loose my left arm (cuz I'd still need the right one for texting) than give up my iPhone now.  And you know that saying "It's the best thing since sliced bread"?  Well, sliced bread has been around for a while now, and as far as I'm concerned what I'm about to show you really is the best thing since sliced bread.  So what is this miraculous invention?  Quadruple chocolate chip cookies!  Yes, you heard correctly! Chocolate cookie dough with dark chocolate chips,  milk chocolate chips,  white chocolate chips, and a fluffy Lindt Chocolate Mousse square hidden inside.  These cookies will change your life.  Seriously.  They're slightly crispy around the edges, but will stay moist and chewy on the inside for days - a true sign of a good chocolate chip cookie! 


To make these you'll need 2 Lindt Chocolate Mousse bars (they're available at most grocery stores and come in both Dark & Milk chocolate - I used Dark), and a selection of chocolate chips or chunks.  I guess if you really wanted to you could always leave out the Lindt Chocolate Mousse squares, although I'd say that would be a pretty foolish move on your part  if you're a true chocolate lover.  Never the less, these cookies are pretty amazing - even without the chocolate mousse squares tucked inside. 




Quadruple Chocolate Surprise Cookies  

Ingredients: 
1 Cup (227g) Butter, softened 
1 1/2 Cups (337g) Sugar
2 Eggs
2 tsp Vanilla Extract
2 Cups (250g) Flour
2/3 Cup (65g) Cocoa Powder
3/4 tsp Baking Soda
1/4 tsp Salt
1/2 Cup Dark Chocolate Chips
1/2 Cup Milk Chocolate Chips
1/2 Cup White Chocolate Chips 
24 Lindt Chocolate Mousse Squares

Instructions: 
1.  Cut your Lindt Chocolate Mousse bars into squares and put them in the freezer.   Pre-heat oven to 350ºF (175ºC).  Sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt, and set aside.  In a separate bowl, beat butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla together with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.  

2.  Gradually stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture until combined.  Add in your chocolate chips and stir until they're combined throughout.  

3.   Place approximately 2 teaspoons of the cookie dough onto your cookie sheet and flatten slightly.  Then place a square of the Lindt Chocolate Mousse bar on top of the cookie dough and smoosh it down a bit.   Next, cover the chocolate square with another 2-3 tablespoons of cookie dough before placing the cookie sheet in the oven.  Bake for 10 - 12 minutes depending on your oven.  The cookies should still be slightly soft in the middle, but not liquidy or undercooked.   Let the cookies cool on the cookie sheet for approximately 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.  



Note: These cookies will be big, so make sure you leave enough space in between.  I baked 4 cookies staggered per sheet.  UK cookie sheets are smaller than North American ones so if you're using a North American Cookie Sheet you might be able to bake 6 at a time.  While the cookies are baking keep your cookie dough in the fridge and your chocolate squares in the freezer to prevent them for spreading out really thin while baking.  This recipe makes 24x 4 inch cookies.  


Now don't those look good?  These cookies are pretty addicting, so to prevent myself from eating the whole batch in one night I like to freeze them.  They freeze very well in an air tight container, and only take about 15 minutes to thaw out and return to their original freshly baked soft and chewy consistency.    


Enjoy!

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Visiting The 2011 London Real Food Festival

What do you get when you combine fabulous wine, organic olive oils, spicy chorizo, local cheeses, gluten free brownies and adorable little baby lambs all together all under one roof?  The 4th annual London Real Food Festival that's what!  Yesterday I attended day 3 of the 4 day event, and I had a fabulous time wandering around the festival exploring and chatting to the nearly 250 exhibitors who were showcasing their products.  It was great to see such a wide variety of food products on show, many of which were either organic or free range.


Almost every stall was giving away free samples of their food, so of course I had to take full advantage of them!  The first thing I stopped to try were some delicious handmade chocolates by Sciolti.  Their award winning chocolates use natural and locally sourced ingredients such as fruit, flowers and cream.  I tried their Kir Royal chocolate and it was delicious!  The filling was so smooth, and full of black current flavour.  I wish I would have remembered to go back and buy a selection of them to take home.  If you do get the chance to sample their chocolates I highly recommend them!


Next I stopped by My Sweet Tooth Factory and sampled some of their Oreo cheesecake squares which were really tasty.  They were also selling a variety of cupcakes and a really really nice and moist looking Red Velvet Cake - which I didn't try, but really wish I did.  I wasn't familiar with My Sweet Tooth Factory before today, but I was told they sell their cakes on Sundays at the Brick Lane Market.  


One of the things I was pleasantly surprised with was the Chocolate Fudge from The Old Chapel Fudge Company (their website is currently under construction).  Back home in Canada I used to love fudge, but since moving to the UK I haven't been able to find fudge like we had back home.  Most of the fudge I've tried over here has been extremely sweet and rather dry and crumbly - and I'll admit I usually end up throwing it out after a bite or two.  But not this time.  The Chocolate Fudge I tried had a rich and dense consistency, and was probably the closest thing to North American fudge I've tasted since living in the UK.  If you're not a fan of chocolate fudge, don't worry because The Old Chapel Fudge Company had a wide variety of flavours to choose from.


There were so many delicious foods on offer at the Real Food Fest, so I was really thankful for all the samples that were being given out - there was no way I could eat more than 1 or 2 full sized portions.  After wandering around and stopping off to eat one of the best hamburgers I've had in a long time (sorry - can't remember the name of the place!) it was time to explore more of the baking stalls.  

One of the first things that caught my eye after lunch was the most amazing looking Rich Chocolate Tart from The Pudding Stop.  This thing was seriously good!  It had the richest smoothest chocolate filling, but still somehow managed to taste light as air and not heavy at all.  If you manage to make it down to the last day of the Real Food Festival tomorrow I'd definitely recommend trying this one!  



Another thing that got my attention was the fabulous looking cupcake display from Sweet Things.  And after reading rave reviews about their cupcakes yesterday by I Heart Cupcakes, I decided that this would be the only cupcake I would try at the festival as I absolutely hate wasting money on bad cupcakes!  Sweet things sell loads of other yummy treats beside cupcakes, and they also have a large selection of wheat free cakes.  I bought one of the last regular vanilla cupcakes they had left.  It was very nice, and had a really yummy icing on top that I'm pretty sure was  swiss meringue.  


Finally I stopped by to see Caroline who owns and operates the fabulous Sugar Grain which specialise in gluten free and wheat free products.  I'd met Caroline once before at a food blogging event, and she was so lovely I haven't been able to stop thinking about her and her products since!  Sugar Grain have a stall at Borough Market, and I've been wanting to stop by and sample some of her products for ages but just never got the chance until today.  I had a hard time choosing what to try, but I opted for the award winning Raspberry and White Chocolate Chunk Brownie and I'm so glad I did.  That thing was seriously good!  And I'm not just saying that to be nice!  The brownie was so nice and moist, and had a rich chocolate flavour bursting with fresh raspberries.  If I hadn't have waited until I left the Real Food Festival to try it I would have gone back and bought a second one.  


There was no way I could stop and sample everything without physically exploding (or going totally broke), but there were a few other things that caught my eye, although I don't remember the the names of companies who were selling them.

Giant meringues 

Savoury macarons accompanied by your choice of cheese

And of course there were sweet macarons too!

If you're looking for something to do today - Sunday May 8th, then I'd definitely suggest visiting the Real Food Festival.  There are loads of different foods and products available, and don't worry they're not all sweet!  Like I mentioned before, there was a wide variety of meats, cheeses, fish, olive oils, spices, cereals, breads, fresh vegetables etc.  You name it, they have it!  And bring your kids too because they had the most adorable little baby lambs on display courtesy of the Real Farm Lambing School in Scotland. 

Cute!

This was my first visit the Real Food Festival and I had a great time exploring and trying all of the different products that were available. I will definitely be back again next year!  If you do manage to stop by today, and if I would recommend one thing for you to try it would be Sugar Grain's award winning Raspberry and White Chocolate Chunk Brownie.  Simply divine!
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