Categories
Chocolate Cooking General Recipes

Buttermilk Waffles for Brunch!

My favourite type of waffles are Belgian Liège style waffles (names after Liège, a city in Belgium). There is a little shop in Kenginston Market in Toronto that serves up some pretty delicious ones! It’s called “Wafles & More“. They also serve a a pretty good hot chocolate, should you feel like a rich, warm drink to accompany your already decadent breakfast 🙂

Wafles & More
Belgian Waffles

I woke up this morning craving some waffles and since it is New Year’s Day (and most places are closed), I knew I would have to cook some up myself. Given that Liège style waffles are made with a yeast-based dough and therefore, cannot be made on a whim, within the hour, I decided upon buttermilk waffles instead. They turned out pretty great!

Should you want waffles that are not too sweet, with just a hint of warm molasses and sourness, slightly crisp on the top, fluffy in the middle, and glowing with a caramel-coloured hue, then try this recipe!

Ingredients:

2 cups of flour

1/4 cup turbinado, light brown, or dark brown sugar (packed)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1.5 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

0.5 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)

114 g (8 tablespoons) cultured, unsalted butter (if you can’t find cultured butter, any unsalted butter will do)

2 cups whole buttermilk

3 eggs (separated)

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Toppings (you could use any or all of these, or throw on any toppings that appeal to you):

Whipped Cream (Ideally, flavour it with some liqueur)

Berries

Bananas

Melted Chocolate

Maple Syrup

Chocolate Hazelnut butter (go here for a recipe)

Nutella

Peanut Butter

Jam

Method:

1. Place all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Mix and then sift them all into a large bowl.

2. Warm the butter and buttermilk to just slightly warmer than room temperature.

3. Mix the butter, buttermilk, egg yolks, and vanilla essence together in a bowl. Then add this mixture to the dry ingredients and gently mix them all together with a whisk.

4. Whip the egg whites until they form stiff peaks.

5. Turn on your waffle maker.

6. Gently fold the egg whites into the mixture from step 3.

7. The batter is now ready! Spoon some into the waffle maker and let it cook for about 3 minutes. You will have to figure out how much batter to add into the waffle maker, as well as precisely how much time to let the waffles cook, after a few tries (both these variables will be influenced by the type of waffle maker you have).

8. Your waffles are good to go! Throw on some toppings and enjoy!

9. Just a note, I think whipped cream is an absolutely essential topping for waffles. I recommend whipping some up right before you start making the waffles. I also suggest adding some liqueur to the cream before you start whipping it up. I used cherry liqueur!

10. Also, if you’d like, you can make a few extra and store them in the fridge. I have found that when you’re ready to eat them, it’s best to heat them up in the oven at 350 degrees Celsius, for 2 mins on either side, after basting them with some butter.

Neatly plated waffles 😊
Simple buttermilk waffles
Messy waffles 😝
Categories
Baking Food General Recipes

Boozy Banana Bread Served with Orange-Chocolate Butter

This is by far the most delicious banana bread that I’ve ever had. It’s a miss-mash of a few recipes I’ve tried out before, but it’s predominantly based off of Jamie Oliver’s banana bread recipe, which can be found here. Overall, while I liked his recipe the best of all the ones that I’ve tried, it wasn’t boozy 😉 and his chocolate butter, while delicious, was a bit too sweet. So, I played around with the recipes for both the bread and the butter a bit and came up with this one.

Also, just a clarification, the bread doesn’t actually have a strong taste of alcohol; I was just being flip and I liked the alliteration in the title.

This bread is a great addition to a tea party!

Banana bread with rum raisins

Or, you could just make up a loaf, and eat a slice or two every day as an afternoon snack, with tea 🙂

Banana bread with rum raisins

Anyway, if you want to try it, here’s what you will need, and what you will need to do.

Ingredients:

For the Banana Bread:

1 cup walnuts, shelled and chopped

2 handfuls raisins (ideally golden raisins)

Enough rum to submerge the raisins completely (about 100 ml)

500 g frozen, very ripe bananas, (measure the weight once you have peeled the bananas)

125 g unsalted butter

125 g dark brown sugar

2 large eggs

200 g unbleached, all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

A couple of pinches of salt

A couple of pinches of salt

 

For the Chocolate Butter:

The zest of an orange

100 g good quality dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids), coarsely chopped

100 g unsalted good quality butter

50 g icing sugar (you might want to play around with the amount of sugar you use based on the bitterness of the chocolate you are using and of course, on your taste)

Largish flakes of salt (I like the pink salt because it looks nice on top of the butter)

General notes about ingredients: Leave the eggs and butter out on the kitchen counter for a few hours before you begin making the bread so that they are at room temperature. Also, unless otherwise specified, when I list the amounts of dry ingredients you should use in a recipe, I mean levelled tea spoons, table spoons, and cups.

Method:

Place the raisins and rum in a little pot or saucepan and place the pot/pan on medium to high heat on the stove. Once the rum is boiling, take the pot/pan off the heat, cover it, and set aside for at least an hour, until the raisins have soaked up all the rum 🙂

Rum soaked raisins in banana bread

Pre-heat the oven to 170 degrees celsius (325 degrees fahrenheit). Sift together all the dry ingredients into a medium bowl. Take two half litre loaf tins (or a single one litre tin) and line them with parchment paper that has been buttered on both sides. Once the oven has pre-heated, place the walnuts on a baking tray and toast them in the oven for 4-5 minutes, until they are slightly darker in colour and you can smell an aroma coming off them. Be careful not to over-toast them. While the nuts are being toasted, mash-up the bananas in a bowl. You don’t have to make a smooth paste of them, it’s ok if there are a few chunky bits in the banana paste.

Next, beat the butter and sugar together using a stand mixer or hand-held mixer (egg beater) until the butter and sugar form a smooth, creamy mixture (say for about 5 minutes at medium to high-speed). Now, beat in the eggs, one at a time. Once you have an even/smooth mixture, mix in the bananas, walnuts, and rum-soaked raisins with a spatula or spoon, followed by the dry, sieved ingredients. The batter is pretty thick; as you can see, my wooden spatula was standing up in the batter without any support:

Banana Bread with Raisins and Walnuts

Pour the batter into the prepared tins and bake in the middle shelf of your oven. You will know the bread is done when you poke it with a tooth pick or skewer and it comes out clean. This should take about an hour, depending on your oven.

20140330_223841

While the bread is baking, you can get the chocolate orange butter ready.

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler (you can also do this in a microwave, in which case, make sure to use a low heat setting and monitor the chocolate, so as not to burn it). Once the chocolate has melted, take it off the heat and stir in the orange zest. Set the chocolate aside. In another bowl mix the butter and sugar with a hand-held mixer until smooth and creamy. Finally, stir the orange-infused chocolate into the sugar-butter mixture.

It’s ready! You can serve and/or store the butter in a bowl, on a little plate, or even in a butter dish. Whichever way you choose to serve/store it, sprinkle some coarsely ground salt on top of the butter; it’ll look nice and taste even better 🙂

Delicious chocolate butter infused with orange zest

One thing to note, the butter is best served/eaten at room temperature when accompanying the bread. Of course, it tastes great cold if you’re just eating spoonfuls of it by itself. Fair warning though, it’s pretty unhealthy and you might feel quite ill if you eat too much, so moderation is advised!

This is the bread, once it was baked and sliced up:

Delicious soft, dense Banana Bread

Great snack- banana bread with chocolate butter

Categories
Chocolate Food General Recipes

Dark Chocolate Strawberries Sprinkled with Toasted Brazil Nuts (a Quick and Healthy Dessert!)

Strawberries dipped in dark chocolate and coated in toasted nuts

I decided to stay in town for the long weekend because I wanted (had) to work on my thesis (it’s taking over my life!). So while it seemed like the whole world was outside enjoying the lovely spring weather, I was indoors all day, sitting at my desk, staring at this computer screen.

Earlier this afternoon, I felt particularly overwhelmed, and needed a little something to cheer myself up and keep me going on the chapter I was working on. So I went over to my pantry and picked out some snacks. I set out some dark chocolate covered biscuits and chocolate cream filled wafers on a plate and was about to walk away, when it occurred to me that I needed to add something more healthy to the mix. So I decided to make some chocolate covered strawberries!

Strawberries dipped in chocolate and sprinkled with toasted brazil nuts

The process is so simple that I don’t think it even makes sense to post a recipe. But, if you’ve never made chocolate covered strawberries, here are some simple tips.

Start off by melting some dark chocolate; you can use a microwave, just make sure to use a low heat setting, so as not to burn the chocolate.

If you’d like to sprinkle some nuts on the strawberries, pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and toast some brazil nuts or hazelnuts on a baking tray for about 5-7 minutes, until they are fragrant. Once cooled, place the nuts in a tea towel and rub them against each other through the towel, in order to remove their skins. Then, crush the nuts with a mortar and pestle and set the crushed nuts aside.

In the meantime, wash the berries and dry them with a paper towel. Then, dip the berries in chocolate. I decided to leave the leaves on the strawberries as it’s easier to work with them that way, and I also think it’s easier to pick them up by the leaves when you want to eat them 🙂

You can use your hands to coat the strawberries in chocolate, like this:Dipping strawberries in chocolate

wpid-2013-03-31-19.58.58.png

If you don’t want to use your hands, or you’d like to take the leaves off, you can also use a fondue fork.

image

After you’ve dipped each berry in the chocolate, place it on a plate covered in wax paper or parchment paper.

image

If you’ve decided to add nuts to the mix, coat the chocolate covered strawberries in the crushed nuts. Let the berries be for a while, until the chocolate hardens, and then serve them. And there you have it, a simple and quick snack or dessert that’s very healthy!

image

Categories
Chocolate Chocolate Truffles Food Recipes

Spiced Black Tea (Masala Chai) Chocolate Truffles

Masala Chai Truffles

My latest chocolate-related invention: Masala Chai Chocolate Truffles!

How did I come up with this curious combination of chocolate and masala chai (Indian-style black tea)? I was planning my birthday party earlier this month, and I was trying to think of snacks and desserts that I could serve at the party. I wanted to be able to do most of the work in advance, preparing at least some of the foods days in advance, but I also didn’t want to compromise on their taste. Truffles, are of course a great choice given these criteria. So I decided to make some of my usual favourites: Cointreau truffles, mint butter-cream truffles and almond butter-cream truffles. But, I also wanted to be a bit adventurous and try something new and quirky. I’d made myself a cup of tea, and was sipping it, while I thought about what new flavours I could throw together, when the obvious occurred to me: tea-truffles. And then I thought, “Why not masala chai truffles, just to spice things up?”. They turned out surprisingly well, and were quite a hit.

If you’d like to give them a go, here’s how.

Equipment you will need:

A cutting board and knife OR a food processor

2 medium-sized bowls

2 plates

Parchment sheet, baking sheet or foil

Little paper cups to put the truffles in.

Ingredients:

8 Oz (approx 225 g) good dark chocolate (at least 70-80 % cocoa solids)

1/2 cup cream (whipping cream in Canada or heavy cream or double cream elsewhere)

2 pinches of salt

1 tea bag masala chai (available in most grocery stores)

A few tablespoons of cocoa powder

Method:

Chop up the chocolate on a cutting board into fine pieces with a large knife. This is the tiresome part of the recipe. I have a food processor, so I just break the chocolate up into individual squares and then throw it into the processor. The reason you want the chocolate broken up into fine bits is because you want it all to melt evenly when you pour in the hot cream. Throw the chocolate bits into a bowl.

How to make chocolate truffles/chocolate ganache

Next, get the half cup of cream to a gentle simmer and immediately turn off the heat. Add the tea bag to the cream, and let it steep for about 5 minutes.

Heat the cream again to a gentle simmer, and pour the hot cream through a strainer lined with a cheese cloth (as shown below), into the bowl with the chocolate.

How to make masala chai truffles

Using a ladle, make sure all the chocolate is covered by the cream. Let it sit for 2-3 minutes. Then add the salt, and delicately mix everything with a whisk.

Making Masala Chai Truffles

It’s important not to be rough because then you will get air bubbles into the chocolate. That wouldn’t be good as you want the chocolate to taste smooth and rich.

Chocolate ganache

Once you have a smooth mixture (this is called chocolate ganache), place the bowl in the fridge for about half an hour, until it firms up. The length of time you will need to leave it in the fridge will depend on the temperature inside your fridge, so keep checking on it. You want the ganache to be just firmed up, but not hard.

In the meantime, take out the plates and place a sheet of parchment or foil on each of them. Once the chocolate mixture is ready, take it out of the fridge and spoon out the chocolate in small portions on the parchment or foil (use an ice cream scoop if you have one). The portions should be approximately the size you want the truffles to be.

Making assorted chocolate truffles

Now, roll each scoop/portion of chocolate about in your hand until it is more or less spherical, then place it back on the parchment. I would recommend washing your hands periodically, while you do this, as you will get chocolate all over them, and it will be more difficult to shape the truffles if you’ve got melted chocolate on your hands. Also, the washing will help to cool your hands. The truth is, I have to wash my hands periodically anyway because I can’t resist licking some of the chocolate off every once in a while 😉

Masala chai/black-tea flavoured truffles

Masala Chai truffles

Once you’ve shaped all the truffles, take another bowl and put about 2 tbsp of cocoa powder in it. Take each truffle in your hand, roll it about for a second or two in your hands, just enough to warm the surface and then roll the truffle in the cocoa powder, until it is covered. Finally, place it in a paper cup. Repeat until all the truffles are done.

Masala Chai Truffles

I’ve heard it being said that this process can be messy and/or arduous; I didn’t think it was either; I did however end up smelling like chocolate all day 🙂

You can put the truffles in the fridge for two to three weeks, but take them out a few hours before you serve them, so that they’re at room temperature. They also make for a great present, just put them in a nice box and voilà! you have a handmade, personalized present!

Masala Chai Truffles
Categories
Food General

How Every Dinner Party Should End

Last week, two old friends invited me over to their home for dinner. It was a lovely evening which ended with them bringing out this super pretty cake. On a side-note, the friend who baked this cake is so serious about baking that she is actually taking a cake-decoration class! Don’t you think it’s very intricately decorated?

20120519-014207.jpg

It looked so ornate and perfect that I almost couldn’t eat it. Almost. Needless to say, I ate more than I should, and brought a whole lot more home with me 😛

I think ALL evenings should end like this, with a beautiful, and perhaps as importantly, large cake, being shared amongst a few good friends 🙂

Categories
Baking Chocolate Food Indian Cooking Recipes

How to Break AND Fix a Chocolate Ganache

I am taking chocolate fudge cupcakes to a friend’s birthday party tonight! I baked them late last night and took a break from work this afternoon to frost them. I decided to fill them with dark chocolate ganache and top them off with either Gianduja chocolate frosting or Peanut butter-cream frosting. I will write about how the cakes turned out soon enough, this post however is all about the ganache. More specifically, it is about how to break a chocolate ganache and then, fix it. Why, you ask, would you want to know how to break a ganache? Well, because then you’ll know what not to do when YOU make your next ganache, of course. And if you manage to break your ganache in a unique and entirely different manner than the one chronicled below, why then read on, and you will find how to fix it!

A dark chocolate ganache should taste smooth and rich. This is how it should look:

Chocolate ganache
This is how a chocolate ganache ought to look; a broken ganache will look oily and goopy not smooth and even like this.
Unfortunately for me, things went horribly wrong. I ended up with an awful, goopy, oily mess. I didn’t take a picture of it, but here is a link to someone else’s photograph of a ruined ganache that looks very much like mine did.

I think this might be because I added cold vanilla extract from the fridge, when in fact, I should have ensured that it was at room temperature.

I panicked and tried various ways of fixing it. First, I heated it on low in the microwave. When that didn’t work, I tried heating it in a double boiler. Finally, I tried to fix it by adding a few tablespoons of warm milk one at a time. After each table-spoon, I gently stirred the mixture with a whisk. And Voila! It worked! Here is what I ended up with:

Fixed chocolate ganache
Fixed, but slightly thin, ganache
It is smooth and even, the way it out to be. However, the mixture is a bit thinner than my previous ganaches have been. It’ll firm up in a bit I am sure, and since I am using it as a filling for cupcakes this might even be a happy accident, as it might be nice to have a softer filling inside the cakes. On the other hand, if I was going to be making truffles with this ganache, I might have a problem on my hands.

Ps. I washed my hands before I dipped my finger in that ganache!

Categories
Chocolate Chocolate Truffles Food Recipes

Cointreau Chocolate Truffles

Cointreau chocolate truffles

This was my latest chocolate experiment: Cointreau Truffles!

How did I settle on this particular flavour? Well, I bought a whole bottle of Cointreau at the Delhi International Airport last month you see. And today, wanting to make a new type of truffle I looked about my kitchen, and my eyes fell upon the bottle. I was torn between trying out Cointreau truffles and red wine truffles; in the end this seemed like a better bet. It turned out to be a good choice; they were delicious!

 

Equipment you will need:

A cutting board and knife OR a food processor

2 medium-sized bowls

A grater or citrus peeler or vegetable peeler

2 plates

Parchment sheet or wax paper (at a pinch, you could use aluminium foil)

Little paper cups to put the truffles in, preferably orange paper cups

Silicone Chocolate Mold (optional)

 

Ingredients:

8 Oz (approx 225 g) good dark chocolate (at least 70-80 % cocoa solids)

1/2 cup cream (whipping cream in Canada or heavy cream or double cream elsewhere)

2 pinches of salt

1 tbsp Cointreau (you could probably also use Grand Marnier)

1 orange

A few tbsp of cocoa powder

 

Method:
1.Peel or grate the rind/peel of the orange. Get the half cup of cream to a gentle simmer and immediately turn off the heat. Add the orange zest to the cream and let it steep for about an hour.

2. In the meantime, chop up the chocolate on a cutting board into fine pieces with a large knife. This is the tiresome part of the recipe. I have a food processor, so I just break the chocolate up into individual squares and then throw it into the processor. The reason you want the chocolate broken up into fine bits is because you want it all to melt evenly when you pour in the hot cream. Throw the chocolate bits into a bowl.

Chopped up chocolate to make a ganache

3. Once the orange peel has steeped in the cream for about an hour, re-heat the cream again to a gentle simmer, and pour the hot cream through a strainer into the bowl with the chocolate. Using a ladle, make sure all the chocolate is covered by the cream.

Making a chocolate ganache for chocolate truffles

4. Let it sit for 2-3 minutes. Then add the Cointreau and salt, and delicately fold the mixture. It’s important not to be rough because then you will get air bubbles into the chocolate. That wouldn’t be good as you want the chocolate to taste smooth and rich. You might also break the ganache (see this post for more on this).

Gently mixing the chocolate ganache

Chocolate ganache

5. Once you have a smooth mixture (this is called chocolate ganache), place the bowl in the fridge for about half an hour, until it firms up. The length of time you will need to leave it in the fridge will depend on the temperature inside your fridge, so keep checking on it. You want the ganache to be just firmed up, but not hard.

How to shape chocolate truffles

(That cow looks like she wants some of that delicious ganache :P)

6. In the meantime, take out the plates and place a sheet of parchment or wax paper on each of them. Once the chocolate mixture is ready, take it out of the fridge and spoon out the chocolate in small portions onto the parcement or wax paper. The portions should be approximately the size you want the truffles to be.

Making assorted chocolate truffles

(As you can see, at this stage, things look pretty messy, but that’s ok. You will be able to roll them about in your hands and slowly work them into fairly smooth and nice looking spheres.)

7. Now, roll each scoop/portion of chocolate about in your hand until it is more or less spherical, then place it back on the parchment. I would recommend washing your hands periodically, while you do this, as you will get chocolate all over them, and it will be more difficult to shape the truffles if you’ve got melted chocolate on your hands. Also, the washing will help to cool your hands. The truth is, I have to wash my hands periodically anyway because I can’t resist licking some of the chocolate off every once in a while 😉

Masala chai/black-tea flavoured truffles

8. Once you’ve shaped all the truffles, take another bowl and put about 2 tbsp of cocoa powder in it. Take each truffle in your hand, roll it about for a second or two, just enough to warm the surface and then roll the truffle in the cocoa powder, until it is covered. Finally, place it in a paper cup. Repeat until all the truffles are done. I’ve heard it being said that this process can be messy and/or arduous; I didn’t think it was either. This was the sum-total of the mess I made:

Making chocolate truffles is not messy!

This is how your truffles should look:

Cointreau Chocolate Truffles

9. If you don’t like the slightly rustic look of the cocoa, you can also dip the shaped truffles into melted chocolate. That is, once you’ve shaped the truffles in Step 7, skip Step 8. Instead, place the truffles in the fridge to firm up and, in the meantime, melt some dark chocolate in a double boiler or a fondue pot. Then dip the firmed up truffles in the melted chocolate, and place the truffle on a tray lined with parchment or wax paper. Let the chocolate harden and enjoy!

Cointreau truffles coated in dark chocolate

You could sprinkle some ground almonds on top to compliment the orange-y flavour 🙂

Cointreau truffles

10. You can also make more professional looking truffles if you have a silicone mould, like this one:

Silicone mold for truffles

All you have to do with a mould like this is pour the ganache directly into it right after Step 4. Then place the mould in the refrigerator or freezer until the chocolate firms up, then pop the chocolates out of the mould.

Cointreau chocolate truffles

You can put the truffles in the fridge for two to three weeks.

They make for a great present, just put them in a nice box and voilà, you have a handmade personalized present! I, for one, know my mother would love this; if only she and I were in the same country 😦 I will make her a box for when she visits me though 🙂

I also like to make up a box of assorted flavours:

Homemade truffles as a gift

If you’d like to try making a box of assorted chocolates, you could look for recipes on the Internet, or just be playful and invent your own. Here are some of my own recipes: basic dark chocolate truffles, masala chai truffles, sugar-coated truffles with orange-cream cheese centres, truffles with cream cheese centres, or truffles with mint butter-cream centres.
Or look at this detailed post about how to make multiple flavoured truffles for a gift box.

Have fun truffling 🙂