Tuesday, January 26, 2010

TWD: Cocoa-Nana Bread


I had a feeling that when I picked the cocoa-nana bread that there would be some debate about the whole banana and chocolate combination. While most people love banana bread with chocolate chips, chocolate banana bread seems to be another story. There were a few substitutions that were mentioned, including apple sauce, pumpkin, pears, sweet potato so it might be an interesting week for variations. For those who were afraid of the whole chocolate-banana combination, I'd still give it a try because you never know! I was a little undecided when I first tasted this bread, but it really grew on me afterwards. The best part was the dense yet tender texture. I only wish the recipe gave the banana amount in cups because the variation in fruit size will affect the flavour and moisture of the final product. My bananas measured out to 1 cup and the bread tasted like Dorie describes, chocolate-chocolate and then you get hit with the banana.

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Thanks to everyone who baked along with me! I hope I didn't ruin too many people's experiences with banana and chocolate.... the P&Q freaked me out a little.

Cocoa-nana Bread
Dorie Greenspan

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup semisweet cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 stick unsalted butter at room temp
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 ripe bananas, mashed
3/4 cup buttermilk
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped, or 1/2 cup store-bought chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. Butter a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan and place it on an insulated baking sheet or on two regular baking sheets stacked on top of the other. (This extra insulation will keep the bottom of the bread from over baking.)

Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt and baking soda.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter at medium speed for about a minute, until softened. Add the sugars and beat for 2 minutes more. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for a minute after each addition. At this point, the batter may look a little curdled -- it's okay. Reduce the mixer speed to low and mix in the mashed bananas. Add the dry ingredients in 3 additions, mixing only until they disappear into the batter. Still on low speed, add the buttermilk, mixing until it is incorporated. Stir in the chopped chocolate. Scrape the batter into the pan.

Bake for 30 minutes. Cover the bread loosely with a foil tent to keep the top from getting too dark, and continue to bake for another 40 to 45 minutes (total baking time is between 70 to 75 minutes) or until a thin knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for at least 20 minutes before running a knife around the edges of the bread and unmolding. Invert and cool to room temp right side up.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Chocolate White Chocolate Chunk Cookies

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This is my first Ina recipe and it was fabulous! I love her show, but between her and Paula, I don't know who uses more butter. I think the butter usage seems worse than it is though because Ina likes to use pound measurements for butter. 1/2 lb of butter sounds more than 1 cup of butter, well at least to me. I'm not a fan of chocolate based cookies because they're generally bland, chalky or too bitter. Almost every chocolate based cookie recipe I've found has melted chocolate in them so I was a little concerned that these wouldn't have enough flavour. Then I figured that if Dorie's world peace cookies (which are totally amazing and everyone should make them!) can do without melted chocolate, then so can these. I added 1 tsp of espresso powder to give it an extra boost in flavour just in case.

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I think the best part about these cookies is the texture. The edges are crispy and the centre is brownie-like. I especially liked how pretty they baked up with the cracked tops and just the right thickness because I can't stand chunky cookies. The next day, the cookie becomes uniformly chewy. Just make sure to bake them for 12 minutes instead of 15 if you're using the 1 3/4 inch cookie scoop (Oxo medium). Many reviewers on food network also complained about 15 minutes being too long of a baking time. I will definitely make these again, but Ina.. why must you use extra large eggs?! I used 2 large eggs and it was fine. If you're not into the fuss of melting chocolate like me and crave chocolate based cookies, you should definitely give these a try!


Chocolate White Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Ina Garten
Makes 40 to 48 cookies (I got 36 because I used less chocolate)

1/2 pound (1 cup/2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar, packed (I used dark brown)
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 extra-large eggs at room temperature (I used large eggs)
2/3 cup good unsweetened cocoa
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 pounds good white chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used white chocolate chips)
(I added 1 tsp of espresso powder)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. (I baked at 335 F)
Cream the butter and both sugars until light and fluffy in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Dissolve espresso powder in vanilla extract. Add dissolved mixture, then the eggs, 1 at a time, and mix well. Add the cocoa and mix again. Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt and add to the chocolate with the mixer on low speed until just combined. Fold in the chopped white chocolate.
Drop the dough on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, using a 1 3/4-inch ice cream scoop or a rounded tablespoon. Dampen your hands and flatten the dough slightly. Bake for exactly 15 (I baked for 12) minutes (the cookies will seem underdone). Remove from the oven and let cool slightly on the pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Friday, January 15, 2010

MSC: Coconut Cupcakes


I haven't updated in ages, but I really don't want to get kicked out of MSC. It's just been so busy since the holidays that I kind of let everything slip. Maybe I just need a new camera for some inspiration... I used a ganache glaze instead of 7 minute frosting. I wasn't trying to be lazy or anything, but I had just enough leftover from cupcakes I made earlier for a birthday party and that little container of ganache in the fridge was just begging to be used.


These were the cupcakes I stole the ganache from. The ganache on this cupcake was actually whipped, but I heated it up again for the coconut cupcakes so it went back to glaze form. Sorry for the blurry picture, but I took this on my blackberry because I was in a rush to deliver them. The flower on top is made with royal icing and tinted with 'no taste' red gel colour. As usual, I went with the always reliable and crowd favourite Hershey's perfectly chocolate chocolate cake recipe. The leftovers were brought to work and I think it's safe to say that everyone enjoyed them!

The coconut cupcakes on the other hand weren't really a favourite of mine so I left them at home, but I'm starting to feel that as long as something is sweet or has chocolate in it, people will just eat it anyway. It's actually kind of sad because the standards for good tasting food seem to be getting lower as processed food becomes more available and easy. From the reactions I was getting when I brought in cookies to work, it's almost as if people have never had a cookie made with butter before!

Thanks to Jennifer of Cinema Cupcakes for choosing coconut cupcakes!

Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Chocolate Cake

2 cups sugar
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa (natural)
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.

2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.

3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost with "PERFECTLY CHOCOLATE" CHOCOLATE FROSTING. 10 to 12 servings.

ONE-PAN CAKE: Grease and flour 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Heat oven to 350° F. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely. Frost.

THREE LAYER CAKE: Grease and flour three 8-inch round baking pans. Heat oven to 350°F. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake 30 to 35 minutes. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost.

BUNDT CAKE: Grease and flour 12-cup Bundt pan. Heat oven to 350°F. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 50 to 55 minutes. Cool 15 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack. Cool completely. Frost.

CUPCAKES: Line muffin cups (2-1/2 inches in diameter) with paper bake cups. Heat oven to 350°F. Fill cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake 22 to 25 minutes. Cool completely. Frost. About 30 cupcakes.

Royal Icing
Whimsical Bakehouse

You'll have no worries about pasteurization with this easy recipe. Royal icing is ideal as the glue to assemble your gingerbread house or for decorating cookies with the flood method or sanding sugar. Meringue powder can be found at baking supply stores and some grocery stores.

In a large bowl of a clean electric mixer fitted with a whip attachment, whip to stiff peaks:
1/4 cup meringue powder
1/2 cup cold water

Add and mix at low speed with a paddle attachment, until combined:
1 lb confectioner's sugar

Continue mixing at high speed for 5 to 8 minutes, or until the icing is stiff.

Add and mix on low speed until combined:
1/2 tsp. lemon juice

Cover the bowl with a damp cloth while you are working with or coloring the icing, or immediately place it in an airtight container or pastry cone; otherwise, a hard crust will quickly form as it dries.

Yield: 4 cups

Chocolate Ganache
From Savoury, Sweet, Life (with an excellent tutorial)

8 ounces of chocolate, chopped into small pieces
1 cup heavy cream
*optional 3 tbl. of flavored liqueor

Place chocolate pieces in a large bowl. Heat heavy cream on medium high until it comes to a boil. Remove from heat and immediately pour cream over chocolate and stir until completely mixed and glossy. Allow ganache to cool before pouring over cakes as a glaze. The longer you allow the ganache to cool, the thicker it will set. Typically I stick mine in the refrigerator so it is slightly cold before whipping. For piping or frosting, allow the ganache to completely cool and set up. When you are able to spoon the ganache and it can hold its texture, it is ready for piping


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