Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Green & Black's Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake

Being a fan of chocolate and pudds, I decided to embark on my first Green & Black's recipe - a classic Chocolate Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake by Anita Kinniburgh. This cake is a British classic, reinvented with dashes of dark, deep chocolate and is so gooey and rich. Since we're going baaaaad, why not top it off with homemade Hazelnut Irish Cream Toffee Sauce and Snickers ice cream? 

Think of it as a mid week treat or as my sister says - 'A perfect wintertime dessert!' It's snowing a blizzard SOMEWHERE IN THE WORLD, I'M SURE.. 

Chocolate Sticky Toffee Pudding, adapted from Green & Black's (Serves 4-6)

  • 100g Green & Black's dark cooking chocolate ( I used regular 70% dark chocolate)

  • 200ml boiling water

  • 100g chopped dates (Medjool dates are the richest)

  • 70g unsalted butter, softened

  • 100g soft light brown or light muscovado sugar

  • 2 large eggs

  • 150g plain flour

  • 2/3 tsp bicarbonate of soda

  • 2/3 tsp baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ginger

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon 

  • 1.) Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas Mark 4. Grease ramekins  

         with butter or plain oil.

  • 2.) Put the water in a saucepan, reduce to a simmer and 

         soak the dates for 10 minutes. Meanwhile melt the 

         chocolate then set aside to cool.

  • 3.) Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl until light 

         and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one by one, and then mix in 

         the melted chocolate. (Make sure your chocolate is cool, 

         or your eggs will scramble!)

  • 4.) Sift in the dry ingredients, then add the dates and their 

         soaking liquid and stir to mix. Pour the mixture into the 

         prepared tin and bake in the oven for 20 minutes until 

         knife comes out clean. 

  •        And this is, as Guy Fieri would put - 'THE MONEY SHOT'.

    Hazelnut Bailey's Irish Cream Toffee Sauce (Serves 6 generously)

    1/3 cup (175 mL) butter
    2/3 cup (300 mL) packed dark brown sugar
    1/3 cup (175 mL) whipping cream
    2 tbsp (60 mL) Bailey's

    1.) Melt butter over medium heat; stir in sugar until dissolved. Add cream and bring to simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened slightly, about 5 minutes. Stir in Bailey's; keep warm.

    2.) To assemble, poke holes all over the still warm cake and spoon toffee sauce generously over cakes. Serve with ice cream and leave the remaining toffee for your guests to enjoy!

    Baker's Notes

    1.) I forgot to add in the soaking liquid, which made my cakes more spongey and dry. This can be remedied with extra toffee sauce, but don't make the same mistake I did!

    2.) Do chop the dates up finely, but a little texture is fine too.

    3.) You don't have to use Bailey's for the sauce. You can withhold it, or play it up with Scotch, Rum and Whiskey! 

    Monday, August 25, 2014

    Marlow & Sons Chocolate Caramel / Snickers Tart

    My first taste of something as decadent as a chocolate caramel tart was actually from Humble Origins, a little cafe / bakery at the National University of Singapore (NUS). It was a sweet surprise from a friend (thanks Huazie!) but I wasn't expecting much. Imagine my delight when I bit into it - The smooth chocolate ganache and rich gooey caramel, all from a simple start up cafe in NUS! 

    I was inspired by their take on the tart, but wanted to amp it up a notch. I replaced the crust with Francois Payard's sweet tart dough and added some peanut crunch for a little Snickers kick. It's really a candy bar no brainer! Payard's recipe may require a little more effort, but it's so worth it. Your crust will be firm and buttery, like a shortbread. 

    For the Sweet Tart Dough (Adapted from Chocolate Epiphany) (Makes 1 9 inch crust shell)
    3 ¼ cups all purpose flour
    ½ cup + 1 tablespoon sugar
    2 sticks (225g) unsalted butter, room temperature
    2 eggs yolks
    1 egg
    11.    Combine butter and sugar in a stand mixer, beat on medium speed until combined.
      2. With the motor running, add egg yolks and egg one at a time. Add the flour and mix until dough is smooth.
      3.  Remove the dough, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour. Preferably overnight.
      4. To prepare, dust a clean surface with flour. Roll out the dough to desired diameter but make sure it is ¼ inch thick. Prick the dough with a fork. (The recipe said to chill the dough again but being an eager beaver, I skipped this step)
      5.  Preheat your oven to 175C. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown.

          For the Caramel Filling (Adapted from Lottie & Doof ) Serves 8
                1/2 cup water
                2 cups granulated sugar
                1/4 cup light corn syrup
                1/2 cup heavy cream
                8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
                2 tablespoons crème fraîche / sour cream

    For the Chocolate Ganache
                1/2 cup heavy cream
                3 1/2 (100g) ounces extra-bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

    1. Caramel :  Place 1/2 cup water in a large saucepan. Add sugar and corn syrup, and cook mixture over medium-high heat, swirling the pan occasionally, until it becomes a medium amber caramel. (Mine took about 20 minutes, do NOT leave your sugar unwatched)
    2. Caramel : Remove pan from heat, carefully and slowly (the piping caramel will bubble and splatter, so be careful!) add the heavy cream followed by the butter and crème fraîche. Stir until smooth. (Excess caramel can be frozen for up to 3 months)  

    Pour the caramel into the cooled tart shell and allow to set, first at room temperature and then in the refrigerator.

    3. Ganache glaze : Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. In a small saucepan, bring cream to a boil. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate, and let stand for 2 minutes, then stir with a rubber spatula until smooth. Pour the ganache and spread over the tart. Refrigerate until set.

    Serve and enjoy with some coffee! 
    Baker Notes
    1. The pastry dough takes time to prepare, but it is so worth it. The crust is extremely buttery and moreish.

    2.You don’t need a candy thermometer, just a watchful eye for your caramel.

    3. For a little added crunch, I tossed in some extra peanut brittle to give it a peanutty/ snickers spin. You're free to spin your own variations - pecans / walnuts / dried fruit! 

    Thursday, August 21, 2014

    Sticky Ginger Cake

    My friends hate ginger cake. It hardly ever shows up in bakeries in Singapore, maybe except during December. In Singapore, ginger's prominently used in Chinese cooking, and I do have fond memories of it garnishing my fish cchouk (congee), salted mince pork patties and even in my chicken rice! 

    But the absence of it in desserts is just S. A. D., especially with such a spicy kick that I JUST HAD TO BAKE IT IN A CAKE. It was met with mixed results - approval and delight from grown adults vs. a slight confusion ( + a hasty downing of a cup of water) from younger kids. 

    Grating fresh ginger is abit of a chore, but makes the flavour profile that much stronger. Have a merry Christmas in August everybody!

    David’s sticky ginger cake (Makes 9 cupcakes)

    2-ounce (60-g) piece fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
    1/2 cup (250 ml) mild-flavored molasses
    1/2 cup (or less) (100 g) sugar
    1/2 cup (125 ml) vegetable oil
    1 1/4 cups (175 g) all-purpose flour
    1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
    1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
    1/2 cup (125 ml) water
    1 teaspoons baking soda
    1 large eggs, at room temperature
    ¾ cup soaked rum raisins
    Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
    1. In a food processor fitted with the metal blade or with a chef’s knife, chop the ginger until very fine. Set aside.

    2. In a large bowl, mix together the molasses, sugar, and oil. Soak raisins in hot water and add 3 tablespoons of rum, leave for 10 minutes. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, cloves, and pepper.

    3. In a small saucepan, bring the water to a boil, then stir in the baking soda. Whisk the hot water into the molasses mixture, then add the chopped ginger. Drain the raisins and add to mixture.

    4. Gradually sift the flour mixture over the molasses mixture, whisking to combine. Add the eggs and whisk until thoroughly blended.

    5. Scrape the batter into the prepared springform or cake pan and bake until the top of the cake springs back when lightly pressed with a finger or a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Let cool completely before frosting.

    Tangy Cream Cheese Frosting (Frosts 9 exactly) 
1/2 package (110g) cream cheese 
    30 g unsalted butter
    1/2 cup powdered sugar
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla
    Zest of 1/2 an orange
1. Cream butter till soft and fluffy. Then, beat in zest and vanilla.
    2. Add the sifted powdered sugar and mix. Finally, blended in cream cheese until smooth. 

    Baker's Notes
1. With the fresh ginger and array of spices, this is a fragrant, spicy cake. Not for the fainted hearted!
2. Do grate in some citrus zest in your cream cheese frosting for a flavour boost!
3. I added in raisins from the original recipe, but feel free to substitute in chocolate chips, walnuts etc; THE PANTRY IS YOUR PARTY PLACE! 

4. I topped it with a dollop of apricot jam, apricots go so well with ginger anyway!