Salted Fudge Brownie Cookies

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So waaaaaay back when- in a time when we could still hug each other; be in public without looking like random members of GI Joe or when Lysol still stocked grocery store shelves, I baked brownies. A LOT of brownies. The quantity of brownies baked in my kitchen was only just outdone by the amount of experimental cupcake flavors I would try tempt people with (Vanilla genoise w/ white truffle buttercream frosting, topped with strawberry, black pepper and a balsamic drizzle anyone?) Brownies satiated my passion for baking and my love of chocolate. In fact so much so was this the case that I ended up winning the title of Observer Food Monthly Best Reader’s Recipe 2014. The victorious recipe was my Smokin’ Pig Licker Brownies and can be found here if you interested.

Anyway I digress, as so often seems to be the case when I write these days! The current abundance of time indoors led me to wonder if this basic brownie recipe could be tweaked and applied to cookie format. And I was not to be the first. I’ll be perfectly  honest and admit I was utterly coerced by the glut of crinkle cookie images that seemed to be flooding my feed along with those of the omnipresent sourdough. The cookie recipe here follows pretty much the base template of brownies – melted choc/ butter combo; dry ingredients stash and sugar/egg volume. A dash of baking powder adds some leavening power to the cookie “dough balls” and stops them becoming a singular cookie en masse on the baking tray.

Overall I gotta admit to them being a tasty success, if thinner than I expected. I guess the word “brownies” in my head is synonymous with thick and chunky (applies to me in all walks of life!) so I was a little perturbed when these cookies baked to be a bit thinner. Nonetheless they still had the fudgy texture that I love of brownies and the crinkle topping certainly provided a certain visual ASMR.

So add these the long ever-growing list of what I should start calling “Quarantine Cookies”. Little morsels of baked goodness that have become my tasty alternative to crossing days off a calendar. The only downside being that whilst my repertoire is expanding so too, it would seem, is my waistline!

Stay safe!

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup AP Flour
  • 1/4 cup Dutch process cocoa (if you can’t get this standard cocoa is fine as long as it’s unsweetened)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 8 oz semi-sweet chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 1/2 cup salted butter
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coffee extract
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup fine sugar
  • 2 eggs, large
  • Optional: Flaky sea salt, to finish (I use Maldon)

Method

  1. Heat oven to 350°F and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and Kosher salt until combined.  Set aside until needed later
  3. Combine the butter and chocolate pieces in a bowl over a pan of water. Gently heat over medium-low heat until melted, stirring occasionally to combine. When fully melted remove the bowl from the hot water/ heat, add in the coffee extract and give one final stir to combine. Set aside until needed
  4. While the butter/chocolate mixture is melting, combine the eggs, brown sugar and granulated sugar together in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on medium-high speed until pale and increased in volume
  5. Slow and steadily add the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and fold them together until uniform in color and it is just combined
  6. Sift in the dry mixture, again fold it in until just combined
  7. Using a large (3 tablespoon measurement) scoop drop batter balls onto your prepared baking sheet, spaced at least two inches apart.  The batter will be quite runny and will spread significantly as the cookies bake.  (Sprinkle each cookie with a pinch of flaky sea salt, if using)
  8. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the tops of the cookies are crinkled and slightly domed. Remove cookies from the oven and transfer the pan to a wire baking rack to cool. The cookies will flatten and crinkle even further as they firm up and cool down

*These cookies will keep in a sealed container for up to 5 days, or freeze for up to 3 months

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Chewy Maple & Bee Pollen Oat Cookies

Not really much of a tale behind these other than I just REALLY wanted an oatmeal cookie one day. But I can be particular about my oat cookies! Not for me are the crisp, brittle types. I prefer the soft, chewy variety that meltingly give when you bite. Maple syrup ALWAYS makes things better so why not include it? To be honest it’s not too prevalent in the taste of this cookie- just enough boost the “cookie comfort factor” (I may trademark that as a baking calibration tool!) The bee pollen was a “why the heck not?” addition from a pantry rummage, albeit with added health benefits. If you don’t have any feel fee to omit. Which of course means these become “Chewy Maple Oatmeal Cookies”. One less ingredient but just as tasty.

Makes 30 apx

Ingredients

• 1 1/2 cups All Purpose flour

• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

• 1 teaspoon baking soda

• 1 teaspoon salt

• 1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, softened

• 1 cup light brown sugar, packed

• 1/2 cup granulated sugar

• 2 large eggs

• 1 tablespoon fancy molasses

• 3 cups whole rolled oats

• 1/2 cup bee pollen

• 1/4 cup maple syrup

Method

  1. Whisk the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugars on medium-high speed until blended, about 5 minute, then increase to high speed and whip for another 5-6mins
  3. In a jug combine the eggs, molasses, maple syrup and vanilla. Add to the butter mixture and beat for 3 minutes until combined. Scrape down the sides and beat again as needed to combine
  4. Add the dry ingredient mixture to the wet ingredients (I usually do it in 1/4 cup increments) and mix on low until combined. Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold in the oats and bee pollen. The final dough will be thick and sticky.
  5. Cover and chill the dough for at least 45 minutes in the refrigerator
  6. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats
  7. Use a medium cookie scoop (about 2 tablespoon size) to scoop the cookie dough on to the prepared baking sheets, placing 2 inches apart. Bake for 15minutes or until lightly browned on the sides. The centers will look soft.
  8. Remove from the oven and allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely
  9. Cookies can be kept at room temperature in a sealed container for up to 1 week

Classic Angel Food Cake

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I recently tired making one of these to pass (yet another) day in self-isolation. I knew of it’s reputation for being a difficult and finicky cake to master. I’ve got to be honest- as long as you have the correct Angel Food/ Tube cake pan it’s a breeze. The recipe is a classic standard and sure it can be found with ease on Google. I’m posting it here for convenience as I’ve had a number of people inquiring about it.

A final parting word. Despite it’s fabled complication in the kitchen the cake itself is quite easy and well worth the effort. In my opinion it hands down beats any Japanese Souffle Cheesecake.

Angel Food Cake Checklist

  • Always use Cake Flour (see note below)
  • Always use room temperature egg whites
  • Always whisk/ sift the flour to aerate it
  • Always leave the cake pan ungreased
  • Always FOLD the mixtures together, do not beat
  • Always invert the baked cake straight out of the oven
  • Always allow to fully cool before removing from tin
  • Always use a serrated knife to cut cake slices to avoid squashing the crust

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Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups Cake flour*
  • 2 cups sugar, divided
  • 14 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Special Equipment

  • 10″ Angel Food/ Tube cake pan

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour and 1 cup sugar. Set aside until later
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites at medium speed until foamy
  4. Add remaining 1 cup sugar. Increase mixer speed to high and immediately add cream of tartar and salt. Add vanilla extract, and beat until peaks form
  5. Transfer egg white mixture to a clean and dry large bowl. Gently fold in flour mixture in 4 additions just until combined. Transfer the batter to an ungreased 10-inch removable-bottom tube pan. Run a sharp knife through batter to remove any hidden air pockets, and smooth the top level
  6. Bake until cake is firm to the touch and an instant-read thermometer inserted near center registers 205°F (96°C) to 210°F (99°C), about 40 minutes.
  7. Remove from the oven and immediately invert pan** and let cool completely.
  8. When cool turn cake-side up and using an offset spatula, loosen cake from sides and remove bottom/ cake insert from pan surround. Loosen cake from bottom and tube by same method. Invert onto a cake plate and serve, cut using a serrated knife

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    Served with blueberry & gin compote and peaches

    *When I was making this I discovered I didn’t have cake flour to hand. A frustration-saving substitution for cake flour is as follows

    For 1 cup of cake flour- 1 cup of All Purpose flour but remove 2 tablespoons of it. Add in 2 tablespoons of cornstarch and sift the mixture twice. Remeasure 1 cup of the resulting mix as 1 cup of cake flour. DO NOT use All purpose flour on it’s on in this recipe – your cake will have a texture verging on bread!

**Some Angel Food/ Tube cake pans come with pronged feet attached which allow for inverted cooling. If yours doesn’t have them (like mine) then invert the baked cake tin tube onto a narrow wine bottle neck or spirits miniature bottle (some balancing or leaning against something may be required)

PB & J Coffee Cake

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PB & J – Never have three letters caused such divisive reactions. To be honest the quintessential North American stable of childhood has often has left me baffled in the past. I guess the secret of it’s appeal lies in that age old combination of sweet and salty. Whilst I struggle with grasping it’s appeal in it’s original sandwich form I’ll confess to being partial to it in bake form with contradictory fervor. Just as long as it’s not with grape flavoring! That attraction still eludes me.

So imagine my interest when I stumbled upon this recipe. Although I wish I could lay claim to this recipe the credit all lies with the publication Bake From Scratch and their recent issue on “One Layer Cakes”, If you haven’t heard of BFS I’d definitely recommend checking them out. If not directly for their recipes then certainly as a source of inspiration as I have done in the past.

Whist the original recipe calls for making two 6″ single layer cakes I couldn’t help but think who on earth wants a cake that small! So I instead baked mine in a single 9″ with the only variance being a longer cooking time with the necessity for aluminium tenting the top of the cake towards the end of baking. 

Prepare to surrender to the peanut buttery goodness! I love the crumbly peanut streusel topping- it’s a unique twist on the signature coffee cake feature. I’m sure jam/ jelly to suit your taste could be subbed in, there just happened to be strawberry lurking in my pantry. All in all this cake didn’t last long as it proved a quick hit with the kids. I kept mine on the counter top, in an airtight cake box, and after 4 days it was still tasty ever.

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Ingredients

Streusel topping

  • 1/3 cup All Purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon salted butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup salted peanuts, chopped

Cake

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups All Purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 3/4 cup strawberry jam

Garnish

Warmed peanut butter

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9” round deep cake pan with baking spray and line with baking parchment
  2. To make the streusel topping: In a medium bowl, whisk together flour and brown sugar. Stir in peanut butter and butter until mixture is crumbly. Crumble with your fingertips until desired consistency is reached. Stir in peanuts. Chill in the refrigerator until needed later
  3. For cake: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar at medium-high speed until fluffy and pale, stopping to scrape sides of bowl. Reduce mixer speed to low. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla extract
  4. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture in 3 stages alternately with buttermilk, beating just until combined after each addition. Pour 1/3 of the cake batter into your prepared tin. Spread on strawberry jam, and top with remaining batter, smoothing the top for a level surfaced. Sprinkle with the peanut streusel you prepared earlier
  5. Bake until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 60-65 minutes, if needed loosely covering with foil to prevent excess browning. Let cool in pan for 15 minutes. Run a sharp knife around edges of cake to loosen sides. Invert onto a plate, and then invert again onto a wire rack. Let cool completely. Garnish with warmed peanut butter, if desired.

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Millionaire’s Shortbread

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“Millionaire’s Shortbread”, “Caramel Slice”, “Millionaire’s Slice”…call them what you will these caramel laden shortbread bites remain hugely popular from many a childhood memory. Investigation would point to it’s origin’s thanks to our Antipodean friends in the ’70s and as such the initial recipe remains unchanged- buttery shortbread, sweet caramel and luxurious chocolate.

Yes it may seem like such a chore laboring to make each of those individual layers but the end result is surely worth it? None of the intrinsic layers require any great skill in the kitchen, but with some attention and patience a batch of delicious Millionaire’s Shortbread is pretty much a cinch. 

The shortbread layer is first out of the starting block. The pale, crumbly dough that you’ll press into you pan will be baked to a golden, buttery slab of goodness. I mention in the recipe below a handy trick that I’ve used over time and in addition have seen cited in a few other recipes. Using a measuring cup or spoon to compact the freshly baked biscuit layer helps avoid surplus crumbling when slicing the baked shortbread. Simply press the back of the measuring cup (I find 1/3 cup a good size) or spoon gently but firmly on to the shortbread surface in it’s entirety, taking can not to drag it lest you pull some of still-setting crumbs with you. Once this is done you can leave to cool (or pop it in the fridge as I do) and carry on. See- that wasn’t so hard was it? 

And now for the infamous caramel layer! Yes, boiling sugar in a pan and the resulting caramel can sound daunting but with some care and a good candy thermometer on hand those fears will soon be waylaid. I have two pointers here a) constant gentle stirring is a lifesaver in order to avoid the molten mixture catching at the bottom of the pan and charring b) adding in heavy cream to the caramel mixture not only adds a luxurious touch but also keeps the mixture emulsified and avoiding separation which can occur due to heating the condensed milk. The last thing you want ruining your hard work is a gluey, grainy approximation of caramel. 

As for the final finishing chocolate layer, the one that always gets me salivating, there is one common pitfall. One that I can admit to making more than a few times. Don’t forget to add butter to your chocolate for the finishing coating. Practice has taught me that just melting the chocolate and slathering it on in it’s virgin state leads to a brittle layer that frustratingly cracks at every cut and bite. Including the butter incorporates enough yield into the final set surface that you can achieve those insta-worthy cut pieces and decedent mouthfuls without covering yourself in chocolate splinters.

If you do venture to make these you’ll see (and taste) just why they have proven so popular again and again, and indeed traveled the world over. Just remember to share!

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Ingredients

Shortbread Base

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 sticks salted butter, melted

Caramel Filling

  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup golden corn syrup
  • 1 stick salted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Chocolate Topping

  • 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
  • 1 tablespoon salted butter

Method

Shortbread Base

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 325°F. Grease and line a 13×9″ baking pan with parchment paper leaving some hanging over edges of pan to lift out after baking
  2. In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, and kosher salt. Add melted butter and stir until flour is mixed and dough is crumbly
  3. Transfer to your prepared baking pan and press evenly over bottom of prepared pan. Using fork, pierce dough at regular intervals all over. Bake for 30 minutes, or until light golden brown and firm to touch
  4. Remove from oven. While still warm, use a the back of a measuring cup and press surface of shortbread slightly to compress. Although this part is optional it helps when cutting later. Set aside until needed later

Caramel Filling

  1. Combine the caramel ingredients together in large saucepan. Cook over medium to low heat, stirring frequently to avoid any scorching on bottom for 20 minutes, or until mixture reaches 240°F (Soft Ball stage on candy thermometer)
  2. Carefully pour over shortbread while hot and spread to even thickness. Let cool completely for 1 1/2 hours, or until caramel is firm to the touch

Chocolate Topping

  1. In a small microwave safe bowl melt the chocolate and butter in microwave for 30 second intervals on high, stirring in between until melted. Stir to incorporate the butter until smooth. I find that 2 blasts in the microwave is usually enough
  2. Pour the chocolate over the cooled caramel layer and tilt pan to cover to edges and look smooth or use a spatula or knife and spread back and forth across the surface. Refrigerate the finished shortbread for a couple of hours or until the chocolate topping is set
  3. Lift out of pan using parchment overhang onto a cutting board. Slice into bars*. For the size of tin I use here, I cut so I have 3 by 8 rectangular “bars” (2 cuts x 7)

*I’ve found the best way to slice the shortbread so that you get neat, clean bars is as so- Remove the fully cooled shortbread traybake from the refrigerator about 15 minutes before you want to slice. Fill a tall heat-proof jug full of boiling water so that it covers the blade of a sharp knife. Let the knife stand in the jug for 2 minutes. CAREFULLY wipe the knife off of any water and make your cut into your shortbread. Slice once- quickly and smoothly, then stand the knife back in the jug of boiling again. You don’t need to leave it for long this time, a simple full plunge of the blade will do. Again CAREFULLY wipe the blade clean of any water or chocolate residue. Carry on cutting, plunging and wiping until all the traybake is cut to your required size. Leave for a few minutes so the cur bar edges firm up then serve.

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