Block of Choc Brownie

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This brownie is very easy and quick to whip up when unexpected visitors arrive and it can be served with coffee or as a dessert.  Use one bowl and there is very little to clean up.  The finished brownie is crunchy around the edges, chewy on top and moist in the middle.  If you like chewy more than gooey, leave the brownie in the oven for an extra 3-4 minutes.  White sugar will give a crustier top than raw sugar. I usually make this brownie with 72% cocoa dark chocolate to keep it dairy-free however the 33% cocoa with toasted coconut is extremely popular.  Any of the nut chocolates work well as does white chocolate.  Chocolate with a flavoured toffee shard such as mint or hokey-pokey turn out a delicious but sticky brownie as the toffee shards melt and sink to the bottom.
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Block of Choc Brownie

Ingredients

  • 4 medium eggs
  • 200 ml lite olive oil
  • 50 ml almond milk (or other non-dairy milk alternative)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 400 g (2 ½ cups) raw sugar
  • 70 g (2/3 cup) cocoa powder
  • 75 g (1/2 cup) white flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 250 g block of chocolate, roughly chopped

Instructions

  • Preheat oven 160ºC and grease and line a 33 cm x 23 cm slice tin.
  • Place eggs, oil, milk and essence into large bowl and whisk until combined. Sift in cocoa powder, flour and baking powder. Add sugar and chocolate. Stir until combined.
  • Pour brownie batter into prepared baking tin.
  • Bake for 40-45 minutes for moist & gooey in the middle chocolate brownie or leave in the oven for a little longer if you like the brownie chewy all the way through.
  • Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
  • Cut into pieces (between 20 – 24 pieces) and dust with icing sugar to serve.
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Variation: Toasted Coconut Brownie

Use the 33% cocoa milk chocolate block with toasted coconut, use coconut milk instead of almond milk.  Sprinkle the brownie with ½ cup toasted chocolate chips before placing in the oven.

Variation: Dark Gingerbread Brownie

Use 62% or 72% dark chocolate and add 2 teaspoons of gingerbread spice mix when adding the flour.  Sprinkle brownie with ½ cup chopped crystallized ginger before placing it in the oven.

Gingerbread Spice Mix

2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
Combine spices in a small airtight jar.

Prune & Cardamom Biscuits (Cookies)

Prune & Cardamom Biscuits (Cookies)This recipe was created to use a bag of diced prunes that were purchased (in error) instead of whole prunes.  The result were biscuits so tasty that I had to make them again – this time using whole prunes that I diced and dusted in a little flour so they didn’t clump together otherwise all the prune would end up in just a few of the biscuits.
Prune & Cardamom Biscuits (Cookies)

Left to right: Prune & Cardamom, Double Chocolate & Ginger, Apricot & Almond

Prune & Cardamom Biscuits

Yield: 18-24 depending on the size of the spoonful.

Ingredients

  • 170 g butter, melted
  • 200 g (1 cup) brown sugar
  • 125 g (½ cup) white sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 300 g (2 cups) pure plain flour
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 150 g (3/4 cup) dark chocolate drops
  • 150 g (3/4 cup) diced prunes

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 165ºC. Grease and line a baking tray.
  • Combine melted butter and sugars in a large bowl and whisk until well blended.
  • Whisk in vanilla and eggs until the mixture is light and creamy.
  • Sift in flour, baking soda and cardamom.
  • Add the chocolate drops and diced prunes.
  • Stir the mixture well so all the ingredients are combined.
  • Refrigerate the mixture for at least 15 minutes.
  • Place spoonfuls onto the prepared baking tray about 8cm apart.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes.
  • The biscuits are still soft once baked so leave on the tray for five minutes to firm up.
  • Transfer the biscuits to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Store in an airtight container

Notes

Variation: Double Chocolate & Ginger Biscuits Reduce the flour by ½ cup and replace with ½ cup cocoa powder Replace ground cardamom with ground ginger Replace diced prunes with diced crystallized ginger

Apricot & Almond Biscuits Replace vanilla extract with almond extract. Omit the ground cardamom Replace the dark chocolate drops with slivered almonds Replace diced prunes with diced dried apricots

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Golden Raisin, White Chocolate & Madeira Cake

Christmas cake: some love it (its cake so what’s not to like?) but some people hate fruit cake of any kind.  This light cake might just change their minds about fruit cakes; it has just enough raisins to add texture and a subtle flavour.

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Banana & Chocolate Bran Muffins

I haven’t baked in a while (like a couple of weeks) and it is shows.  I got my muffin mixture all spooned out into the muffin papers and ready for the oven when I noticed my bowl of soaked sultanas was still on the bench. Oh well, my Sultana, Banana & Chocolate Bran Muffins just morphed into Banana & Chocolate Bran Muffins. Continue reading

Anzac Biscuits (Dairy-Free)

Anzac Biscuits (Dairy-Free)
Anzac biscuits are a well-known and equally well-loved biscuit (cookie) that we share with our cousins over the ditch in Australia.  There are heaps and heaps of recipes out in cyber-space, most of which have rolled oats, coconut and golden syrup.  Some add spices, nuts, dried fruit or even chocolate: Dean Brettschneider has a delicious fruity Anzac biscuit here that includes sunflower seeds, dried figs and dried apricots.  Chelsea Sugar have a delicious version with chocolate chips and dried apricots.  And I have created a version (with apple syrup instead of golden syrup) that are studded with golden chunks of dried apple that I call Applezacs.  As an aside there is also an interesting history about the Anzac biscuits that can be read on the National Army Museum website here.
Anzac Biscuits (Dairy-Free)
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White Chocolate & Lime Syrup Cake

White Chocolate & Lime Syrup Cake
Two cakes in a row…. but cake is a good thing particularly when paired with a nice hot coffee and a good book. Continue reading

Double Chocolate Banana and Milk Kefir Cake

Double Chocolate Banana & Milk Kefir Cake
A few years ago I hopped onto the fermenting wagon with enthusiasm.  Perhaps too much enthusiasm as bottles of water kefir and kombucha took over the fridge followed by milk kefir and kimchi.  Production far outstripped demand and we ended up having way too much so I have scaled back my efforts.  Currently I am only making milk kefir as it is a wonderful product to have on hand for baking.  I use it in place of yoghurt, sour cream or buttermilk.  I do have yoghurt, sour cream and sometimes buttermilk in the fridge but they are “earmarked” for other things and I can always rely on having milk kefir to use up. Continue reading

Bushwalker Cookies with Apple (Dairy-free)

Bushwalker Cookies with Apple

When I originally began this blog it was my intention to take regular recipes and see how I could ramp them up with flavours of apple.  I have done a fair bit of adding apple to recipes but have failed to add them to my blog before the bottomless-pit-teenagers manage to remove all trace of such baking experiments. Continue reading

Bushwalker Cookies (Dairy-Free)

Bushwalker Cookies (Dairy-free)
Homemade cookies or biscuits as we call them here in New Zealand (not to be confused with American biscuits which we call scones) are a welcome sight in our baking “tins”.  I say “tins” as baking containers doesn’t conjure up the same image but, although I have three or four actual tins, I store baking in airtight plastic (yes, BPA-free) containers.  I prefer clear transparent containers so the kids don’t lift a corner of each to see what is inside.  Invariably they don’t reseal the container leaving the contents to soften unless I come along behind them pushing down the corners and clasps.  I think that is my life long task along with closing kitchen drawers (and The Anster’s is to turn off the lights in all the empty rooms).
Bushwalker Cookies (Dairy-free)
So back to the biscuits – many biscuit (cookie) recipes begin with cream the butter & sugar which is absolutely fine if you don’t have an aversion to dairy products.  I like baking with butter but I don’t like the reaction I get from Miss M and she doesn’t like to reaction she gets from consuming butter.  I could substitute the butter with margarine but margarine is a swear word in our house.  I do buy dairy-free spread made with olive oil for Miss M so she can enjoy toast with “butter” and jam but I try not to use that too much in baking unless I absolutely cannot get around it.
Bushwalker Cookies (Dairy-free)
The next best thing is to find recipes that require the butter to be melted so I can swap out the butter for oil & non-dairy milk.  I have found I get the best results when I use 75% neutral-tasting oil (I use rice bran oil) and 25% non-dairy milk (which is what ever milk is in the fridge at the time: almond, coconut, rice, oat or soy).
Bushwalker Cookies (Dairy-free)
When deciding to bake biscuits the first thing I look at is, if there is butter, what method is required: creaming (discard that recipe) or melting (worth a second look).  I have been experimenting with using my 75/25 butter substitute in recipes traditionally requiring the creaming method but that is another post for another day.
Bushwalker Cookies (Dairy-free)
On one of my second-hand/charity shop scouring trips I came across Cookie Magic: Cholesterol Free & High Fibre Recipes by Diana Linfoot for the huge price of $1.00.  A quick look through the book and I found a number of recipes requiring the sugar and margarine (the author says never use butter and margarine gives a better result than oil but I am ignoring that little piece of advice as this book was produced 26 years ago and butter had an undeserved bad reputation way back then).  I have never used margarine in baking and always substitute it with butter – such a rebel!  But back to the blending of sugar and fats – this method will work perfectly well with sugar and my 75/25 butter substitute mix which opens up a whole lot of interesting recipes to play around with.  Just over half the recipes are either blend or melt or completely dairy-free however some of the recipes have five or six variations so that leaves plenty of scope for some delicious cookie creations/adaptations.  The only one I have discarded completely is the Savoury Cheese Nibbles.  They do sound and look very good but cheese is kind of tricky to substitute.  Maybe I’ll make them anyway and put my sunglasses on to shield me from the black looks Miss M sends my way.
Cookie Magic
Bushwalker Cookies (Dairy-free)
Here is the first cookie recipe I converted to dairy-free and is a resounding success with all four of the bottomless-pits commonly known as teenagers that reside in our house. My changes were to swap out the margarine for oil & non-dairy milk, substitute the dates for chocolate chips, substitute self-raising flour for standard flour & baking powder (I have nothing against self-raising flour but I already have large containers of high-grade, standard and wholemeal flour as well as numerous smaller jars of coconut, oat, sorghum, quinoa, and rice flours etc etc and my-bursting-at-the-seems-pantry has the draw the line somewhere) and I used Weetbix crumbs as I have a large jar that I top up each time a box of Weetbix is consumed (which sometimes seems like every second day).  None of the BLP (bottom-less pits) like Weetbix crumbs (dust) for breakfast but are quite happy to eat it when incorporated into cookies & cake which is great for the zero waste movement.  On that note how do they measure how much food each household throws away each year?  Do they dig through our rubbish?  And what about the food I discard from our fridge to donate to our chickens – is that considered “thrown away”?
Bushwalker Cookies (Dairy-free)

Bushwalker Cookies (Dairy-Free)

Yield: 20-25 cookies

Ingredients

  • 95 g oil
  • 30 g non-dairy milk
  • 200 g raw sugar
  • 1 (53-62 g) egg
  • ½ tsp vanilla essence
  • 15 ml (1 T) water
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 170 g (1 cup) dark chocolate chips (dairy-free)
  • 150 g (1 cup) flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 90 g (1 cup) rolled oats
  • 30 g (1 cup) Weetbix crumbs (approximately 2 Weetbix biscuits)
  • 45 g (½ cup) desiccated coconut

Instructions

  • Preheat oven 140ºC and grease & line 2-3 baking trays.
  • Place the oil, milk and sugar together in a large bowl and beat until combined. Add egg, essence, water and baking soda, and beat again until combined.
  • Mix in the remaining ingredients.
  • Roll into balls and flatten onto baking tray (I scoop out a teaspoonful of mixture then push it off the spoon with another spoon, then shape them slightly with the second spoon, saves getting my hands all biscuity and works just as well as rolling out the mixture).
  • Bake until crisp on the edges and golden in colour (about 18-20 minutes).
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Cookie Magic | Bushwalker Cookies

Cookbook Review: Melie’s Kitchen

Melie’s Kitchen by Amelia Ferrier (Penguin Random House New Zealand)

Melie's Kitchen

I have a fair collection of cook books both new and old.  My favourite cook books are anything with baking or preserving (jams and jellies and such like).  Some books I have never made anything from, although I want to try three or four of the recipes.  Other books I have get me extremely inspired to get into the kitchen and try stuff out.  Melie’s Kitchen falls into the second group – there is so much in there that is just ‘wow’ and ‘oh-my-goodness’ and ‘I’d never have thought of that’.  It’s so exciting (and no, it is not sad that I find a cookbook exciting). Continue reading