Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Afro Muffin: Winner and Recipe!

Thank you everyone who entered the Afro Muffin Tshirt Giveaway. You all gave me wonderful flavour ideas and I wish I had a tshirt for each one of you, but the lucky winner is:

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers: 17

And #17 is Lisa! Congratulations girl! Email me your address and the tshirt will be on its way to New Jersey soon!

The main ideas for flavours for the ultimate Afro Muffin were chocolate, coffee, ginger, peanuts and rice, so I decided to combine all this flavours and came up with this goofy looking, but delicious muffin shaped treat!

It's a Double chocolate rice crispy treat filled with a coffee brownie, topped with ginger ganache and a peanut moustache (just like the tshirt had). Is that Afro enough for you?

AFRO MUFFIN

(me, Alton Brown, Kellogg's and all that left comments in this post)

  1. Make the brownies adding the expresso powder with the flour. Bake on mini muffin tins if you have them or cut round shapes from a tray, smaller than a muffin tin (like in the picture above).
  2. Make the rice crispy treats (I made mine on the microwave), but add the chocolate (chips or a bar chopped) to the butter and marshmallows, until all melted and before adding the cereal.
  3. Make the ganache adding the ginger powder (or grated fresh ginger if you prefer) to the cream.
  4. To assemble: Lightly butter or spray with oil regular size muffin tins and your hands. Working fast, so the rice crispy treat don't get hard, shape about 2 tbsp of it in the muffin tins, covering the bottom and sides, as if it was a tart crust, leaving space for the little brownie cup. Place brownie and press to glue. Get more about 2 tbsp rice crispy treats and place on top of the brownie, covering the all surface and giving the typical rounded muffin top. Leave it to dry. Remove from the muffin tin, top with a dollop of ginger ganache. I've used half of a peanut for the moustache and an orange smartie cut in half for the eyes.

Got it? I felt bad cutting the little fellow in half, but I had to show you the inside. They were really good! But really, can you go wrong with brownies, rice crispy treats and more chocolate? I don't think so...

Even if you didn't win the Muffin tshirt, you can allways eat a lot of these to get your own Muffin top!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Peanutella is so good I ate my spoons: Daring Baker's Lavash!

It was vegan month here at the Daring Bakers land! The challenge was Lavash, a very thin flat bread, like crackers, and a vegan dip to go with it. Sweet or savory, hot or cold, pretty or ugly, but vegan! My dip was so good I wanted to eat the spoon I tasted it with, so I decided to make lavash spoons, this way I could actually eat my spoons! The dough was very easy to work with and this was a really fun challenge!

LAVASH SPOONS

  • 1 1/2 cups (6.75 oz) unbleached bread flour
  • 1/2 tsp (.13 oz) salt
  • 1/2 tsp (.055 oz) instant yeast
  • 1 Tb (.75 oz) sugar
  • 1 Tb (.5 oz) vegetable oil
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup + 2 Tb (3 to 4 oz) water, at room temperature
  • Chopped roasted salted peanuts to sprinkle

In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, salt yeast, sugar, oil, and just enough water to bring everything together into a ball. You may not need the full 1/2 cup + 2 Tb of water, but be prepared to use it all if needed. Sprinkle some flour on the counter and transfer the dough to the counter. Knead for about 10 minutes, or until the ingredients are evenly distributed. The dough should pass the windowpane test and register 77 degrees to 81 degrees Fahrenheit. The dough should be firmer than French bread dough, but not quite as firm as bagel dough (what I call medium-firm dough), satiny to the touch, not tacky, and supple enough to stretch when pulled. Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

The windowpane test. Ok ok...

Ferment at room temperature for 90 minutes, or until the dough doubles in size. (You can also retard the dough overnight in the refrigerator immediately after kneading or mixing). Mist the counter lightly with spray oil and transfer the dough to the counter. Press the dough into a square with your hand and dust the top of the dough lightly with flour. Roll it out with a rolling pin into a paper thin sheet about 15 inches by 12 inches. You may have to stop from time to time so that the gluten can relax. At these times, lift the dough from the counter and wave it a little, and then lay it back down. Cover it with a towel or plastic wrap while it relaxes. When it is the desired thinness, let the dough relax for 5 minutes. Line a sheet pan with baking parchment. Carefully lift the sheet of dough and lay it on the parchment. If it overlaps the edge of the pan, snip off the excess with scissors. I've cut spoon shapes out of the dough.

Draw, cut and cut some more!

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180ºC) with the oven rack on the middle shelf. Mist the top of the dough with water and sprinkle with the peanuts.

Looks promissing...

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the crackers begin to brown evenly across the top. When the crackers are baked, remove the pan from the oven and let them cool in the pan for about 10 minutes.

Here they are! So what can we spoon with them?

I've been meaning to make homemade peanut butter for a long time, and I've been meaning to make homemade Nutella for a even longer time. (I even had this Zen recipe bookmarked). I thought this was a good oportunity to make one of them, but since I couldn't decide which one to make, I've combined both and came up with my own version of Peanutella, a peanut-chocolate spread, or in this case, dip! I've based my recipe on Zen's but besides substituting hazelnuts for peanuts, I've changed a few more things.

PEANUTELLA

  • 1 cup toasted peanuts
  • 1/3 cocoa powder
  • 1/4 + 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1-2 tbsp oil

I have a Magic Bullet, but if you don't have one you can do it in a food processor. First process the sugar until you have a fine powder. Remove, set aside and add the peanuts. Process until the peanuts start loosing their natural oil and start forming a paste. Add the sugar, cocoa, vanilla and salt. Keep mixing and add oil little by little until you're happy with its consistency. Keep refrigerated.

Peanutella is my new favourite thing!

Dig in!

It's ok to double dip!

Let's get to the bottom of it!

Thanks Shel and Natalie, our wonderful hosts for this month! Head here for hundreds more of lavash and dips!

You know you want it!

And since you're here, don't forget to enter in the Muffin Tshirt Giveaway!

Friday, September 26, 2008

I've been provoked! ProBocada!

Some weeks ago my Spanish friend Morgana and other great girls that run a group food site called Blogolosas, invited me for their first blog event: ProBocación (a funny play on words in spanish, meaning a provocation).

I though the idea was just great! Most blog events start with the same recipe (Daring Bakers, TWD, etc), other start with a theme (SHF, etc). This one starts with an image! Isn't that cool? We could do whatever we wanted based on that image.

For the first ever ProBocación this was the image chosen.

And this is my version!

It's a Mint pannacotta alternated with dark chocolate ganache, topped with stracciatella whipped cream and chocolate shavings! That's a too long name, I'll just call it Pannacotta ProBocada!

PANNACOTTA PROBOCADA

Mint Pannacotta:

  • 50 gr (1.8 oz) sugar
  • 75 gr ml milk
  • 300 ml cream
  • 3 gelatine sheets
  • 2 tbsp mint liqueur
  • 2 drops green food coloring (opcional)

Dark chocolate ganache:

  • 100 gr (3.5 oz) dark chocolate chopped
  • 80 ml cream

Stracciatella whipped cream:

  • 1/3 cup whipping cream
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp chocolate shavings (I've used a microplane)

For the pannacotta: heat the cream, milk and sugar until boiling point. Add the gelatin sheets that have been previosly soaked in cold water and well drained (you can also use powder gelatine: 1 tsp=1 sheet). Add the liqueur and food coloring and stir well.

For the ganache: Heat the cream and add to the chocolate. Leave to rest for 1-2 minutes and stir with a spoon until a thick and shiny cream forms.

For the whipped cream: Whip very cold cream until soft peaks, add the sugar and keep whipping until medium peaks. Add chocolate shavings.

To assemble: In long tube glasses put a few tablespoons of pannacotta and take to the fridge until it hardens, leaving the glass tipped, I've used a butter block to support it and the glass bottom was stuck on the fridge racks. When it's set, add a layer of ganache and wiggle the glass arround allowing the ganache to spread, covering all the pannacotta layer. Let harnen a bit and do the second third of pannacotta. Keep doing this until you have 3 layers of each (you might need to heat the ganache in the microwave for the last layer). Top with the whipped cream, extra chocolate shavings and a sprig of fresh mint.

Bueno, pués aqui estamos en la primera ProBocación! Me encantó la idea de hacer un reto en que se empieza con una imagen, al invés de empezar con una receta. Duespues de ver el imagen, esta fué mi idea: Pannacotta de menta, intercalada con ganache de chocolate negro, nata montada de stracciatella y cubierta de trozitos de chocolate! Pero como es un nombre muy largo, le vou a llamar solo Pannacotta Probocada! Ha sido muy divertido, un poco un lio tener los vasitos tumbados en la nevera y esperar que las capas cuajasen (tengo muy poca paciencia, jejeje), pero todo por el amor al arte! Creo que se quedaran monos los vasitos y además ricos! A ver lo que será la seguiente imagen que nos proboque!

PANNACOTTA PROBOCADA

Pannacotta:

  • 50 gr azúcar
  • 75 ml leche
  • 300 ml nata
  • 3 hojas de gelatina
  • 2 cucharas licor de menta
  • 2 gotitas de colorante verde

Ganache:

  • 100 gr chocolate negro (en trozitos)
  • 80 gr nata

Nata montada:

  • 1/3 taza nata
  • 1 cuchara azúcar
  • 1 cuchara trozitos chocolate (usé un microplane)

Para la pannacotta: Calentar la nata, leche y azúcar hasta casi herbir. Sacar del fuego y añadir la gelatina previamente remojada en agua fria. Juntar el licor y colorante y remover bien.

Para la ganache: Herbir la nata en el microondas y añadirla al chocolate en trozos. Dejar reposar 1-2 minutos y mezclar bien con una cuchara hasta que este una mezcla homogénea y con brillo.

Para la nata montada: Montar la nata un poco, añadir el azúcar y montar hasta que este con picos medianos. Juntar los trozitos de chocolate y mezlcar bien.

Para el montaje: Colocar un par de cucharas de la pannacotta en los vasitos y llevar al frio. Yo los dejé inclinados presos en las mismas rejillas del frigo y sujetados con un paquete de mantequilla. Cuando esta cuajada, es tiempo de meterle la primera capa de ganache, volteando el vaso para que cubra toda la pannacotta. Dejar que endurezca un poco. Seguir haciendo este proceso hasta tener 3 capas de pannacotta y 3 de ganache (a lo mejor se tendrá que calentar la ganache en le microondas para las ultimas capas). Cubrir con la nata montada, un poco más de trozitos de chocolate y unas hojitas de menta fresca.

This was a lot of fun to make and a really good pacience exercice! For me, that have little patience sometimes, you can imagine that waiting for all those layers to set was not easy. But oh, so worth it! I think it came out quite cute and with mint and chocolate, do I need to tell you it was delicious as well? Can't wait to see what's the next image we're going to be provoked with! Check the other creations here!

Oh! And don't miss out on the chance to win a Muffin Tshirt, in this Giveaway!

Monday, September 22, 2008

A Giveaway, tshirts, muffins, cars and awards...

Happy Autumn everyone!

Remember a while a go when I posted about my food related tshirts? I really can not resist buying a new one whenever I see it. Today I found this cute one with an Afro Muffin! Cute isn't it? So I got us one!

That's right! You read it correctly, I got us one each! Since a lot of you liked my tshirts so much and some even asked me where I got them, when I saw this new one I decided to get one for me and one for you! The tshirt is black with that cute moustachy muffin and it's a size medium.

Even if you don't think you'll use the tshirt yourself, you can allways get it for your daughter, friend, mom, sister, niece... And if you're a guy you can try to win it for your girlfriend or use it to go to the gym. Yes, I'm talking to you!

So to enter the Giveaway just leave me a comment saying what would make the perfect Afro Muffin! I want flavours, add-ins, whatever you can think of that would celebrate Africa in a muffin form!

Also, after my last post, a lot of you asked for pictures of the Lightning McQueen cake. Here it is! At this point he was still smiling, not knowing he was about to be eaten. Oh poor McQueen!...

Lastly, still in the Emmys spirit I would like to thank some awards:

  • Thank you Tamy for the Blog de Ouro award!
  • Thank you Reeni for the I love you this much award!
  • Thank you Blond Duck for the Kick ass blogger award! And Happy Birthday!

I will pass this awards to everyone who doesn't win the tshirt, so everybody wins something!

You have until next monday (29th Sep) to tell me about the perfect Afro Muffin! The Giveaway winner will be chosen randomly and announced on tuesday 30th.

Have fun!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Waiter, there's a cupcake in my yogurt!

Is it a yogurt? Is it a cupcake?

Ohhhhhhhh! It's a Yogurt Cupcake!

I had to do a big cake today, sculpted as the Lightning McQueen from the movie Cars. After assembling it I was left with about half a loaf of cake and decided to play and transform it in cupcakes. I had the yogurt containers that I have used in the cake batter (vanilla flavoured) and those were perfect to use as cupcake "liners"!

Then to keep the yogurt theme I made a yogurt ganache to serve as icing and that was pretty much it. Fast, fun and delicious!

You can fool everybody: Eat cake but say you're eating a healthy yogurt!

YOGURT CUPCAKES

  • 1 yogurt container (125gr/4.46oz) plain or vanilla

Use the yogurt container (y.c.) to mesure the other ingredients:

  • 3 y.c. flour
  • 3 y.c. sugar
  • 3/4 y.c. vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Beat egg yolks and sugar. Add yogurt, vanilla and oil. Mix well and add the dry indredients: flour, baking powder and salt. Whip the egg whites and add delicately to the batter. Bake in a loaf pan or muffin tins for about 20-40m (depending on the mold) at 180ºC (350ºF).

YOGURT & WHITE CHOCOLATE GANACHE

  • 120 gr (4.3 oz) white chocolate
  • 7,5 tbs yogurt

Melt the chocolate in the microwave, being careful because white chocolate burns fast, so check and mix it often while melting. Add the yogurt and mix just until it's combined and you have a smooth shiny cream.

I've cut pieces of cake with a round cutter that is the same size as the yogurt containers, but you can cut them with a knife. Put the little cake rounds inside the washed containers and top with the icing. Smooth the top to give the "yogurt look". And all you have to do after is eat!

I think they'll be great to serve at April Fool's Day or at Halloween, after all they are yogurts disguised as cupcakes, or cupcakes disguised as yogurts, as you prefer!

I'm going to send this to Fanny @ Foodbeam, she's hosting this month's Sugar High Friday: Cupcakes!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Serom's: Inside-out Smore's!

Yes, I've came up with another "inside-out" treat!

Can you resist a crispy on the outside but gooey on the inside, toasted marshmallow stuffed with melted chocolate and crunchy cookie pieces?

Really, can you?

Remember when I did Cookie Chip Chocolates? I still had some cookie chips frozen and they were perfect to use here! I hope Leslie, Katrina and Manue still have some leftover as well from making the chocolates, so they can give this a try!

But you don't need cookie chips to treat yourself to an inside-out S'more, you can use broken up pieces of Graham Crackers or any other type of cookie. You don't even need a recipe, just some marshmallows, chocolate and cookies. Look at the pictures and see how easy it is:

Get your favourite big marshmallows. Maybe Emiline can use her homemade ones.

Snip them with a scissor and help with a knife if you want, making a pocket but not going all the way thru.

See that pocket there? That's where you're gonna put chocolate chips or small chocolate chunks cut from a bar. That's what I did, and I've used a milk chocolate one.

Put also your cookie pieces or cookie chips and some more chocolate. You can never have too much chocolate! Help tuck everything inside with your finger and leave a bit of space so you can close the pocket.

Pierce it across the opening with a fork, closing it with the chocolate and cookies inside. Toast as you would a normal marshmallow, but beeing extra careful so it doesn't open. I did mine on the stove burner, but you can do yours in a campfire as well!

Toast until golden and enjoy!

Careful don't burn your tongue!

Again, can you resist it?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

My tshirts are so sweet I could eat them!

For us that live in the north part of our lovely planet, Summer is slowly going away. The weather here is still beautiful, but the tank tops are now getting replaced by tshirts. Last weekend I was organizing my closet and putting my tshirts in a more assessible place, when I noticed most of them had baked goods drawings. I decided to share.
Really, do you think I think about sweets a bit too much?

I'm still unsure if the first one in a bread slice or a muffin.... All I know is that it's hot!

I love sweets! And flying ice-creams as well!

One day I'll make a real version of that cake on the green tshirt, and then I'll wear it while I eat the cake!

A cute cookie man and a smiling cupcake. How old am I again?

But they're sweet aren't they? Do you know what's also sweet? These Blog Awards I was given recently! Thank you girls!

  • The "Brillante Weblog award" was sent by the lovely Blond Duck!

  • From Brazil arrived the "Prémio Blog de Ouro" (Gold blog award), given by Mari from Vanilla Bistro! She was one of the winners of Cake Lifters Giveaway I had a while ago. She just made a gorgeous cake using it, check it out here!

It's only fair to give these girls awards as well, so Lisa the "Prémio Blog de Ouro" is for you. Blond Duck, I think you'll enjoy the "I love you this much award". And Mari, the "Brillante Weblog award" is yours! Enjoy!

I'm off to buy some grownup tshirts now...

Monday, September 8, 2008

Hay hay they're really tiny and vegan too!

Almost everybody agrees that cookies can not be to big! Good! I'm happy to know that I'm not alone in this! So, I'm sure that you will also agree, following that same way of thinking, that pancakes can not be too big. But... Can they be too small?

Lately I've been playing in the vegan playground. No, I'm not becoming vegan but I like to experiment. I've been also experimenting with weath-free baking. And I've been having a lot of fun doing pancakes, vegan wheat-free tiny ones!

I have so many types of flours at home, seriously I must have at least 15 types of different flours... Flour types (and hips) are growing, but space on the other hand is allways the same. So I've decided to use up my flours and keeping the wheat free theme I've decided to create my own "all-purpose" flour mix. Although it's wheat-free it's not gluten-free (rye has gluten and from what I read there's still some confusion about oats), but I think there are allready great gluten-free recipes for homemade flour mixes.

WHEAT-FREE FLOUR MIX

  • 1 cup rye flour
  • 1 cup oat flour*
  • 1 cup rice flour (white or brown)
  • 1 cup corn starch
  • 1 cup buckwheat flour
  • 2 tbsp ground flax seeds*

Combine all flours and mix with a wisk. Store in a big jar.

* I've made my own by grinding them on the food processor, both the oats and the flax seeds.

I was very happy with this mix, I really didn't put much thought into it, just mixed the same quantity of what I had on hand, but was lucky to discover that this makes really great texture and flavour goodies! The first thing I made were these awesome Pancakes!

It was my first time having vegan pancakes, and I loved them! Plus they're low in sugar and low in fat, but most of all they're delicious and with a nice texture. Really, they were a surprise! I don't know how they would work with "regular" flour, but in 3 days I've made 2 batches of the flour mix. So you can say I'm pretty excited about them!

I've been enjoying regular sized ones for breakfast, but couldn't resist making tiny little ones served on a spoon for an afternoon snack. This is what I would serve if Jenny came for a visit, I think she would love them, she's a miniature food freak!

MY VEGAN WHEAT-FREE PANCAKES

  • 1 cup wheat-free flour mix (or AP flour maybe?)
  • 1 tbs brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon (optional)
  • 1 1/2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 cup soy milk (vanilla flavoured or plain)

Mix dry ingredients (flour mix, salt, baking powder, cinnamon and sugar) in a bowl. Mix soy milk and olive oil and add to the dry ingredients, mixing well with a wisk. Cook on hot non-stick griddle or skillet pan. I didn't use any fat, but you can spray or rub some oil before starting to cook them. Drop teaspoons of dough and in seconds they'll be ready to turn over to cook on the other side. Or just make regular size ones (about 1/4 cup of dough for each).

I wasn't lying when I said they were tiny!

Do you think Donna Hay would aprove them? I hope so, because this is my entry for HHDD Pancakes (Hay hay it's Donna Day), hosted by my lovely friend Suzana, whom I hope to meet in person soon! HHDD is a food event created by Barbara from Winos and Foodies and now under the wing of Bron Marshall.

A spoonfull of pancakes anyone?

Friday, September 5, 2008

Mamma Mia...

...Here I go again! Here I go again with Chocolate Chip Cookies...

I've been a bit busy lately and away from the Blogland, I've been helping a friend who asked for a favour. He's a really good friend so I'm not complaining, but can favours be a bit too big sometimes?

What about cookies? Can cookies be too big?

After I made the Levain Bakery "look-a-like" and the NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookies I was cookied out for a while, but of course it didn't last long. I wanted cinnamon chocolate chip cookies and wanted them big! I wanted them really big!

I decided to repeat the big fat Levain cookie (adding cinnamon & pecans) but applying the NY Times method (the fridge waiting period).

HUGE CINNAMON & PECANS CHOCOLATE CHUNK COOKIES (Makes 4)

  • 110 gr (4 oz) butter room temperature but not very soft
  • 6 tbs sugar
  • 6 tbs dark brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 180 gr (6 1/2 oz) stong/bread flour
  • 1/4 tsp instant yeast*
  • 1/4+1/8 tspn salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chunks chopped from a bar (or chips)
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped pecans
  • Sea salt to sprinkle

Beat butter and both sugars just until they come together. Don’t over-beat. Add the egg and salt and beat just until incorporated. Mix together the flour, cinnamon and yeast* . When thoroughly mixed, add to batter and stir just until blended. Stir in chocolate chips and pecans. Store the dough in the fridge for 24h-48h hours.

Divide dough into 4 large mounds, but keep the mounds kind of raggedy. Sprinkle with sea salt. Bake on pre-heated oven at 190ºC (375º F) for 10m and then reduce the oven to 180ºC (350ºF) and bake 6-10 m more. Cool on sheet for about 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool.

* About the Instant Yeast: The first time I made the "original" recipe, that I had seen at Cookie Madness I tried with 4 different types of leavenings, one of them being instant yeat, that turned out to be my favourite. This time I divided the dough in 2 and experimented with instant yeast and with a combo of baking powder & baking soda. In the picture above you can see the diference between the 2 (the smaller is the yeast one).

I still prefer the cookie with yeast and that's the version I wrote in the recipe. It makes a really heavy chewy cookie, in a good way! But if you think that might be too much for you, use 1/4 tsp baking soda + 1/4 tsp baking powder instead of the yeast, fot that same recipe.

Next time I'll skip the fridge waiting period, I don't think it made a big diffrence. What I liked about these cookies was the warmth the cinnamon and pecans gave them. And of course, the fact they were huge!

So what do you think? Can a cookie be too big?