Sunday, September 26

Walnut & coffee biscotti with white chocolate


It's been a week of baking failures, first I tried to make baked ricotta cheesecake (disaster!) and then I tried to make chocolate and beetroot cake (even more of a disaster!) So, needless to say, I was feeling rather disheartened. It's not fun to fail!

So, to cheer myself up I decided to make something that couldn't possibly go wrong - biscotti. Luckily for me, nothing did go wrong and I redeemed myself in the eyes of well... myself.

I love biscotti, there's something lovely about it. Maybe it's the fact that it needs to accompany a cup or tea or coffee, two things that I rather like. This biscotti isn't bad, but it's certainly let down by the fact that it contains instant coffee, however I'm not sure how to get the coffee flavour and the speckled look without using it. This biscotti is certainly pretty and the use of white chocolate rather than dark makes it deliciously sweet - nicely offsetting the bitterness of the coffee.

If you don't mind the instant coffee taste, this biscotti is rather good. Dripped in coffee it makes for a tasty, tasty afternoon treat.


Walnut & coffee biscotti with white chocolate

(adapted from Biscuits and Macaroons by the Australian Women's Weekly)
makes about 20

110g (1/2 cup) caster sugar
1 egg
75g (1/2 cup) plain flour
35g (1/4 cup) self-raising flour
4 teaspoons instant coffee
100g (1 cup) walnuts, coarsely chopped
60g (2 oz) white chocolate

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F), line an oven tray with baking paper.

Whisk the sugar and egg in a medium bowl until combined. Sift the flours over the egg mixture, then stir through. Stir in the coffee granules and walnuts. Shape the dough into a 20cm (8 inch) log and place it on the prepared tray. Bake for 30 minutes, then cool on tray.

Reduce the oven to 150°C (300°F).

Using a serrated knife, cut the log diagonally into 1cm (1/2 inch) slices. Place the slices, in a single layer on to the tray. Bake for 30 minutes, turning the biscotti halfway through so ensure both sides are cooked. Cool on wire racks.

Melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl over freshly boiled water. Spread one side of each biscotti and stand at room temperature until set. Serve with coffee.

Thursday, September 9

Amaretti ice cream - churned and non-churned versions


It's not often that I make something that doesn't go down well with J. His ability to eat and enjoy almost everything is astonishing. I'm incredibly picky about what I eat, whereas he's the exact opposite. There's not much he doesn't like.

When, on the odd occasion, I hear loud spluttering noises coming from the kitchen I know I'm done something monstrously stupid. I may have mixed up the salt and the sugar or accidentally added two tablespoons of baking soda when all I needed was two teaspoons. You get the gist.

So, when I heard said spluttering noises coming from the kitchen last night I was incredibly confused. I knew I hadn't left anything I'd made on the counter to be gobbled.

I rushed in to see what was the matter - hoping J wasn't dying or something equally dramatic. Imagine my surprise when I find him waving his arms around and pointing at the amaretti biscuits I've left neatly (ahem..) in their packet.

"Whoa, what's wrong?" I said.

"Those biscuits!" he said, "They're awful!"

"No, they're not" I tell him "they're just awful strong."



It seems I managed to find something J doesn't like. In fact, I would go so far as to say I've found something he loathes. I don't mind though, the ice cream I used the biscuits in turned out quite nice. Slightly on the creamy side of too creamy, but nice none the less.

The recipe was originally for a no-churn ice cream but I decided to churn half of mine for fun. As expected the churned half is less icy. The non churned half isn't had either.

Honestly, sometimes I prefer not the share. This time is one of them.

Amaretti ice cream

(adapted from Delicious magazine, May 2009)
makes 2 litres

250ml (1 cup) double cream
375ml (1 1/2 cup) single cream
100g (2/3 cup) icing sugar, sifted
80ml (1/3 cup) amaretto liqueur
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon salt
110g (4 oz) amaretti biscuits, coarsely chopped

Non-churned version

Place the creams and icing sugar in a bowl and beat with electric beaters until soft peaks form. Gently whisk in the amaretto and vanilla, then chill until required.

Place the egg whites and salt in a bowl and beat until soft peaks form.

Remove the cream from the fridge, give it a quick whisk if it has lost some of its body. Gently stir in the biscuits, then fold in the beaten egg whites. Pout into a 2 litre container and chill for 6 hours, or until firm.

Churned version

Place the creams and icing sugar in a bowl and beat with electric beaters until the cream reaches the ribbon stage. Whisk in the amaretto, vanilla, and salt, then gently fold in the egg whites. Chill until cold.

Remove the mixture from the fridge and churn according to the manufacture's instructions. Add the amaretti biscuits in the last few minutes of churning.

Transfer the ice cream to a two litre container and freeze for a minimum of 2 hours.

Wednesday, September 1

Sour cream coffee cake


So, this cake was supposed to be more a BBQ. A BBQ that I never attended, a BBQ that I made potato salad, juice, and a cake for. Why I didn't attend, I'm not sure - these things happen. You know those times when you just don't feel like doing anything or going anywhere? I had one of those. It was nothing to do with the company, or the weather, or my inability to choose something to wear. I had no reason not to go, except sometimes I'm slack.

So, I felt a bit bad about not going. Rather than sulking about my own inaction, I decided to have a piece of cake.

After my slice of cake I felt better. Why? Because this cake is amazing, it's so delicious that it makes you wonder how something can possibly be so delicious. it's one of those things that makes you stop and think how damn amazing it is that a few simple ingredients can be combined to create a myriad of different things. Or maybe that was just my weird mood talking. Either way, it's a fascinating world.

It's not secret that delicious things make me happy, and making me happy is what this cake did exceptionally well that day. It's definitely going to be promoted to 'one of my favourites' status. The texture is spot on and the contrast between the nuts and the cake crumb making for a fun eating experience.

You should definitely add this too your repertoire.

Next time I'll share (and take better pictures!), I promise.

Sour cream coffee cake

(from The Modern Baker by Nick Malgieri)
makes one 25cm (10 inch) tube cake

For the filling

1/3 cup light brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
100g (4 oz) walnut pieces, coarsely chopped

For the batter

2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
140g (5oz) butter
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 large egg yolks
225g (8 oz) sour cream

Set a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 160°C (325°F), grease a 25cm (10 in) tube pan and set aside.

For the filling, combine the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and walnuts in a small bowl and set aside.

For the cake batter, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and baking soda in the bowl of an electric mixer. Stir well, by hand, to mix. Add the butter, then beat at a low speed until the mixture is a smooth heavy paste, 1 to 2 minutes. If you find your mixture is too crumbly add a tablespoon or two of water.

In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, egg yolks and sour cream until well combined. Increase the speed of the mixer to medium and beat 1/3 of the egg mixture into the butter and flour. Beat for 1 minute.

Stop, scrape down the bowl, and then beat in another half of the egg mixture. Beat for 2 minutes. Repeat with the last of the egg mixture.

Remove the bowl from the mixer and, using rubber spatula, give the batter a final mix to ensure everything is combined.

Scrape half the batter into the prepared tin and smooth the top. Scatter the nut and sugar.

mixture over the top. Scrape the remaining batter over the sugar and nut mixture and smooth the top.

Bake the cake until it is well risen and firm, and a tooth pick inserted next to the central tube comes out clean, about 1 hour.

Remove the cake from the oven and cool in the tin for 5 minutes. Invert a rack over the tin and turn the cake out. Cool the cake completely before slicing.