Friday, December 21, 2012

5-minute brownie in a mug!

This is the best recipe I can give you for a Christmas dessert in a pinch. It’s an absolutely amazing brownie in a mug and it really takes no more than 5-10 minutes. Serve slightly warm with whipped cream and sauce and you’ll be sure to make everyone ‘wow’ at your creation and no one will ever know how easy it was. Unless you do tell them you made it in 5 minutes and I bet they’ll still be just as amazed.


The first time I made this my sister stared at me while I poured all the ingredients directly in a large mug. She insisted I lost my sanity. And to be very fair I felt a bit silly as well. Somehow the idea of making a cake in less than three minutes in a microwave just made no sense. After mixing the ingredients, I popped the mug into the microwave and stared at it. I wasn’t too surprised when it started rising, I did after all put self-rising flour into it, but it did rise very high. I also wasn’t too surprised nothing exploded, but I did stop the microwave several times to check. I even wasn’t all that amazed when I took the mug out and the brownie turned out to be a shiny exploded chocolate mess. But I was totally surprised when I took a bite and it had the taste and even consistency of real brownies! It was amazing how it turned out that sweet in such short time!

Ingredients:
4 tablespoons self-rising flour
4 tablespoons sugar
1 egg
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
3 tablespoons milk
2-3 tablespoons sunflower oil
3 tablespoons Nutella
Whipped cream
Caramel or chocolate sauce

1. Put all ingredients in a bowl, or directly into a mug, and mix it with a fork until there are no lumps left.
2. Pour it into 2-3 mugs. The mugs in the pictures were filled for about three-quarters. If you don’t want the brownie to poor over the mug, you’ll need to fill it no more than halfway.
3. Stick the mugs into the microwave and microwave on the highest setting for about 2-3 minutes. You might need a bit longer or shorter depending on the wattage of your microwave.
4. Top the brownie-in-a-mug with whipped cream and caramel or chocolate sauce and enjoy!

You might want to leave it for a few minutes, just so the brownie is cool enough to eat. This way your whipped cream won’t immediately melt as well. Also, I personally totally love the way the chocolate drips from the sides, but if you'd like your brownie to look a bit cleaner fill the cup for no more than halfway! For Christmas I’ll be serving this in tiny cappuccino cups with a little ball of ice cream to the side. I can’t wait for the Christmas dinners! There’s so much food I get to try and show off. 


Of course, now I know how to make these brownies-in-a-mug, I’ll have to start experimenting. I already thought of adding chocolate chips or fudge bits. The very thought of it makes me drool! I also have to start making a white chocolate version. Or how about a gingerbread-version? Do you think I can substitute the Nutella with jam? Since the recipe is so easy I’ll be sure to get down to it soon. I also won’t have to worry about wasting a lot of ingredients!
Thank you for reading again and please leave comments if you're equally amazed, you experimented with this as well or just random! Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Enjoy!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Chocolate Eggnog

My mom keeps buying me lovely things for my baking and photography. A little while ago she brought me a tin box with recipe cards in it. The tin box was ‘covered’ in chocolate shavings and cacao and every single recipe included chocolate. So I sat down and picked some things that looked interesting. One of them was a chocolate drink that included egg. I don’t think I ever had egg in a drink so I thought it was funny enough to try. Before I even tried it I heard it was a chocolate version of the famous eggnog! I got totally exited! Do you have any idea how many times I’ve seen eggnog in movies and on pictures or heard about it from people? I never got the chance to drink it myself!


So I made it. As soon as I possibly could! And wow! It was like drinking chocolate mousse, so fluffy and chocolaty and oh, just lovely! I thought it was amazing. I wonder why we haven’t invented this here in Holland yet. Also, something I never knew: when making or drinking this you’ll notice it’s cold. It’s supposed to be a cold drink. For around 4 people in case anyone is wondering.

Ingredients:
3 eggs
350 ml milk
60 grams cacao
60 grams sugar
Whipped cream
Chocolate shavings
Sugar for the rim of the glasses

1. Separate the eggs. Take the egg yolks (yellow) and mix them in a bowl until creamy.
2. Put the milk with the cacao and 40 grams sugar in a pan over medium heat and stir until dissolved. Make sure the milk doesn’t boil or burn!
3. Add one or two spoons of the hot milk to the egg yolks and stir immediate. Then poor the egg yolk-mixture into the pan with milk and keep stirring on medium to low heat until the mixture thickens. Take the pan off of the heat and leave to cool for about 30 minutes.
4. After 30 minutes, take the egg whites and mix them until fluffy and stiff. Add 20 grams of sugar and mix again.
5. Use a spatula to stir the fluffy egg whites into the chocolate mixture.
6. Poor the eggnog into glasses (with a sugar rim) and top it with whipped cream and chocolate shavings. 


For anyone who doesn’t know how to make that pretty sugar rim on glasses: really all you need to do is dip the rim into water and then dip it into sugar. You can add cinnamon or cacao to the sugar beforehand to give it something extra!

While making these pictures I tested a new technique for the background. I used one big cloth for the bottom and the back of the picture. It’s a pretty odd setup and even though you can quite obviously see the creases of the cloth (if you look at the background and not the lovely drink), I was satisfied with the result. I thought it gave the pictures a nice feel. I hated the fact that I used glass though. To be fair, I insisted on using glass, because it would nicely show off the chocolate ‘mousse’ together with the whipped cream and it did look lovely. But once I took a picture: look at those reflections! They were everywhere! There was no way to get rid of them either! 


I hope you enjoyed my explorations of new recipes and photographing techniques and I’ll make sure to post more soon! For those reading this around Christmas (it is, I believe, a traditional Christmas drink): Merry Christmas!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Melon pan

I’ve made these lovely little buns a few times before, but I decided it was time to try a new recipe. Especially because I found a recipe video of melon pan on youtube. Someone made a youtube channel entirely dedicated to food and recipes. It was amazing. A whole new world opened up to me. Did you know there are so many people on youtube with whole channels dedicated to food? It’s amazing! I never knew! It makes me want to give it a try as well, but I already know I wouldn’t very much like seeing my face on the internet or hearing my voice nor my talent for filming or my editing with windows movie maker. No, the whole thing is just a terrible idea. I’ll just stick to watching other people.

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Back to the lovely bun. I finally know why it’s called melon pan. I’ve always thought it was called melon pan due to the taste. (I still wish it was.) I was totally wrong. The buns are called melon pan because of shape, which is supposed to resemble a melon. I’ve seen this being called pineapple bun, which I believe would be more accurate. I wonder how it would taste with a hint of pineapple. Oh, I wonder about all the different tastes I could put in it. So far I’ve tried banana, chocolate, vanilla –of course- and mocha. I’ve also finally made my turtle melon pan’s! Next time the shells need to be green. What taste can I try that goes with green? Green tea? Pandan? Oh, the possibilities are endless!

Ingredients for the bread dough:
140g bread flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons milk powder
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1 tablespoon beaten egg (about 1 small egg)
70ml lukewarm water
15g butter

Ingredients for the cookie topping:
25g butter
35g sugar
25g beaten egg
80g flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder


1. Start with making the bread dough: sift the flour into a bowl.
2. Add the sugar, salt, milk powder and instant yeast and mix it with a whisk.
3. Beat the egg and the water together and pour it into the bowl. Mix it in with a fork and then knead until you have a slightly sticky dough. Add more flour if needed.
4. Place the butter in the dough and knead until it is fully incorporated. Then leave the dough to rise (in a greased bowl with plastic wrap or towel over it) for about 40 minutes or until doubled in size.
5. Knead the dough to remove the trapped gas and roll it into a cylinder. Cut the dough into 6 or 12 equal pieces. (Or any other amount depending on the size you want.)
6. Roll the pieces into balls and put them on an oven tray (greased or lined with greaseproof paper). Let them rise for another 20 minutes.
7. Now comes the tricky part: we’ll cover the dough-balls in cookie dough. You can see a picture of it on an older post of mine on melon pan here or watch this youtube video for a good explanation. Start with putting sugar in a bowl and cutting two pieces of plastic wrap.
8. Take a bit of cookie dough and shape it into a ball. Place it on a piece of plastic wrap and cover it with another piece of plastic wrap, then flatten it into a large circle with your hands or a flat object. The plastic wrap will prevent the dough from sticking to everything. Then take one of dough-balls we shaped before and roll it again. Take the flat cookie dough and place it on your dough-ball, wrap it around the ball, leaving only the bottom open. ‘Pinch’ the bottom with your fingers and hold the dough-ball in one hand like that, and roll it into sugar. Then place it bake on to the baking sheet.
9. Repeat step 8 to cover all the dough-balls in cookie dough and sugar. Take a knife and make 2-3 diagonal cuts on the bun and another 2-3 crossing those (think melon/pineapple!). Leave them to rise again for another 40 minutes.
10. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius or 340 degrees Fahrenheit. Leave the buns in the oven for 12-15 minutes and voilĂ !

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These are without a doubt the most fluffy little buns I’ve ever tasted. I’ve made them so many times now I can’t even remember. Did you follow step 7 and 8? I honestly didn’t know how to put it down in words so someone would understand. When you don't understand, just watch the video. It's very easy to do, just hard and long to explain. Don't let this hold you back from making them because you're seriously missing out if you haven't tasted them before!
If you’re wondering which of the recipes to go with, I can tell you they’re not that much different. I realized the cake topping is practically the same. The recipe for the sweet bun is also very much alike. However I did get more success with this recipe rather than the previous ones. Whether that is due to practice, the flour I used, the way I baked them or the minor changes in the recipe, I wouldn’t actually know.

A note on the turtle melon pans: if you want to make your own, make the bun first and cover it in cookie dough. Then add little balls for the feet and head later. It comes out prettier that way. I didn't add any pictures of these totally cute buns, mainly because they came out completely horrible on the picture. The day I made these was the second day in a row that I was "forced" to make melon pan and the whole family attacked the food as soon as it was out of the oven. I barely had any time to save my life let alone my buns to take a picture.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Banana Oat Cookies (2 ingredient cookies)

I haven’t posted anything in ages! I’m so SO sorry. But I’ve got a good excuse! I’ve been abducted by aliens who got stuck in traffic mainly because the bridge was open and they forgot time and all they really wanted to do was keep me from posting. Good news is they weren’t after my brains so I survived all of this. No. Actually I have vacation and I’ve been too busy and too lazy. I’ve been baking a lot and wrote down a lot of recipes, but I simply haven’t posted them. I have some actual Good News though. I’ve been trying to hone my photography skills so my pictures should start to look better from now on.


So now for some actual baking. I found this recipe when I was searching the web for some DIY things to do. The writer was totally enthusiastic about the two ingredient cookies. For the most basic cookie I can think of you need at least butter, sugar and flour, so cookies with just two ingredients sounds amazing! I’m not sure what made me make these cookies as banana’s are definitely one of my least favourite fruits and I was never a fan of oats either. The idea of adding raisins was nice though. But I think what made me make these cookies was the writers enthusiasm about her 2 ingredient cookies and my curiosity on actual two ingredient cookies. So I made it. And ate them all. I didn’t actually share them either. I’m horrible, I know!

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Ingredients:
2 bananas
1/2 cup oats
1/4 cup extra’s (like raisins or chocolate chips)


1. Mash the bananas in a bowl with a fork until you’ve got rid of the biggest lumps. I like a few banana chunks in there, but feel free to mash it all the way.
2. Add the oats and whatever else you’re adding (or not) and mix away.
3. Dump the ‘batter’ in cookie-sized bites on an oven plate (either greased or lined with greaseproof paper!!) and dump into a preferably preheated oven of 180 degrees Celsius or 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10-15 minutes.

See? It’s totally easy right? This is the easiest 100% no-fail recipe I’ve ever seen and I actually like it. It’s totally healthy too! I’ve made it quite a few times since the first time and added chocolate instead of raisins as well. I’m going to have to agree they don’t look the most appetizing, but I’m sure you’ll be surprised!
Enjoy! And have a nice vacation to those of you who have also gotten lost in the space-time continuum!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Banana gingerbread

This is a recipe I wanted to try out because a friend of mine said she loved bananas. It just made me want to bake with them. Also, everyone loves gingerbread. You can’t exist if you don’t. So I pulled out one of my biggest and most wonderful books and baked up a recipe that looked way too delicious for its own good. I did substitute the main ingredients. I know I almost always end up changing recipes to my own liking, but I simply don’t have black treacle and malt extract around and I wouldn’t know where to buy it. If you do have some, use two tablespoons of each and omit the vanilla extract.

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Ingredients:
275 grams flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
4 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons mixed spice or cinnamon
115 grams soft light brown sugar
60 ml oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 eggs
4 tablespoons orange juice
3 bananas
115 grams raisins


1. Sift the flour together with the soda and spices. Add the brown sugar and the dry ingredients together.
2. Mash the bananas with a fork or put them into the mixer. If you like, leave the raisins in a bit of orange juice to swell.
3. Make a well in the center and add the oil, vanilla extract, eggs and orange juice. Mix thoroughly.
4. Lastly, add the raisins and bananas and mix again.
5. Pour the mixture into a greased brownie tin and bake in a preheated oven of 180 degrees Celsius or 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20-30 minutes.

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Cut them into slices and serve them warm straight away or if you can resist leave them to cool. Don’t cover this cake straight away or it will get a bit sticky from the condensation. Other than that, I don’t have much to say. It turned out perfectly after my first try and it’s just really nice. On the other hand there will never be anything I make that will be good enough, so this time I’m complaining about the pictures. They’re horrible and in no way do they display the beauty and deliciousness of this cake. Forgive me for that one and enjoy the recipe!

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Apple Crumble Spiced Muffins

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It takes you longer to say the name than to eat these muffins. I can assure you!
I made these because I wanted to make something sweet for my grandparents for when they came by and just baking a Focaccia wasn’t enough, especially not sweet enough. So I decided to make muffins and stick with one of the best recipes for muffins that has yet to fail me: Doughnut muffins. This time an apple crumble variation! It wasn’t exactly in the spirit of Queens Day, in which the Dutch have the colors orange and our flag-colors: red, white and blue all over the place. I didn’t have anything to fit those colors, but they enjoyed it and we ate about 8 of the 15 in one day with the three of us together. That says enough. It also brings me to the point that, somehow, when it comes to cupcakes and muffins, I always have at least 3-5 extra, even though the recipe always claims to make the standard 12. Having extra cupcakes to eat can be so very frustrating!

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Topping
Ingredients:
50 grams flour
40 grams butter
30 grams sugar
30 grams chopped almonds


Muffins
Ingredients:
275 grams self-raising flour
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
100 grams caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon mixed spices
75 ml sunflower oil
150 grams (Greek) yogurt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 apple
1-2 hands-full of raisins


1. Start with the topping by adding the flour and butter and ‘crumbling’ it with a fork. You can also use a food processor for this.
2. Add the sugar and the chopped almonds and mix.
3. On to the muffins: chop the apple into small pieces and, if you like, leave the raisins to soak in apple or orange juice until needed.
4. Sift the flour, the bicarbonate of soda, sugar and spices together.
5. In a separate bowl add the oil, yogurt, vanilla extract and eggs together and whisk. Add the apple and (strained) raisins to the mixture.
6. Then add the dry ingredients and stir until everything is thoroughly mixed. Try not to beat the batter any more than necessary as the muffins might be dry.
7. Line a cupcake tin with cupcake cups and drop a spoon in each case. Crumble the topping over each muffin.
8. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius or 375 degrees Fahrenheit and leave the muffins in for about 16-20 minutes.

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One thing I learned with making these muffins is keeping the wet and dry ingredients separately until the oven is done preheating. Then mix them and quickly pour them into the cupcake cups. This reduces the time in which the wet and dry ingredients are in contact with each other and thus reduces the chance that the muffins are tough and dry.
Other than that you just can’t go wrong with this recipe. I always use a bit more yogurt than needed for this recipe, just because it makes me feel healthier. I haven’t dared to omit the the oil altogether, something might go wrong when I try although I have no clue what exactly.
I made these apple spice muffins a few times without the topping which is certainly worth a try as well. Somehow the topping makes them look cuter though.
Enjoy!

Focaccia

I felt very much like making bread this week and decided this was one of the most lovely breads around so I had to make it myself. It turned out just as lovely! It just proves how you can never go wrong with flat breads or anything Italian.
Well, the first time I made it was for my grandparents who came that same day. The bread I made didn’t rise, was quite tough and very salty. Apparently salt destroys the capability of yeast to make bread rise so the problem might’ve been in the salt. That, or the fact that I put the oven on the lowest temperature to make some heat for the dough to rise, but 50 degrees Celsius could be slightly too much for dough to handle. Even through the fails I quite liked it and my grandpa said he loved the ‘spice’ of the bread. Anyway, I learned from this and two days later I made the bread again for my family. I cut the salt inside the bread and sprinkled some on stop last moment instead. Also, I added herbs for more taste and just to be cautious I added slightly more yeast than needed. It was lovely! I made two loafs and they turned out perfect! Both of them were gone that very evening. The only comment I got was that I could cut on the salt sprinkled on top, but that apparently was also one of the best parts of it. Perhaps next time I could slightly variate the two breads to fit everyone’s taste.
Here is the recipe for two focaccia loafs:

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Ingredients:
500 grams flour
2 teaspoons salt
7 grams instant yeast
325 ml water
3 tablespoons olive oil
1-2 tablespoons herbs (parsley, sage, rosemary, oregano, etc.)
Topping like sea salt and rosemary


1. Sift the flour and salt in a bowl and make a well in the middle. Add the yeast in the middle together with the water and olive oil.
2. Knead for about 10 minutes until smooth and firm.
3. Lightly oil a bowl and place the dough inside. Cover the bowl with cling-film and leave it in a warm place for about 1-1,5 hour or until the dough has doubled in size.
4. Knead the dough again and add the herbs. Divide the dough into two equal pieces and shape them into a circle. Put the shaped dough in a greased cake or brownie tin. Cover with cling-film again and leave in a warm place for about 30 minutes.
5. Poke holes into the dough and lightly oil the top. Sprinkle your topping over the dough. Cover with cling-film and leave the dough for another 30 minutes.
6. In the meanwhile preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius or 400 degrees Fahrenheit. When the bread has doubled in size place it in the oven for about 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.
7. When done remove the breads from their tin immediately and leave to cool on a wire rack.

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If you leave the breads to cool on a flat surface or leave them covered for a bit they will become slightly softer as the bread will still loose steam, but this steam has nowhere to go when the bread is completely or partially covered. This does give a softer effect provided you don’t cover the bread for too long, otherwise it will become soaky.
Also, like I said before, go easy on the salt in the bread. I’m not sure what effect adding herbs in the first step would have. It would spread the herbs out more evenly and I don’t think it’ll have an effect on the rising process, but I’m not sure.
The last time I made this bread I used a package for white bread, with flour, salt and yeast added already. It might be handy for those of you who don’t make bread that often anyway and don’t want to buy a whole pack of flour and yeast. It works just the same as well.
There’s no more tips or notes I can think of for you so I just hope you enjoy this Italian flat bread!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Spiced Apple Cake

With pear. Because the power of pear is totally underestimated. And dates come to think of it, because dates are totally awesome as well. It adds up to a totally fruity cake. With some walnuts sprinkled on top I think it looks like a totally ‘rustique’ cake for some reason.

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Let me tell you a secret: the cake tastes wonderful and I know you can’t wait to try it. It almost tastes healthy with all the fruits in it. Personally I think this is a way better alternative to apple pie. Then again, I’m really no fan of apple pie.

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Apple Spice Cake
Ingredients:

225 grams self-rising flour
3 spoons wholemeal flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
175 grams dates
75 grams (palm) sugar
1 tablespoon apple (and pear) sauce
120 ml apple juice
2 eggs
90 ml sunflower oil
2 apples or 1 apple and 1 pear or 2 small apples and 1/2 a pear
1 tablespoon walnuts


1. Start with preparing the ingredients: chop the dates and the walnuts, grate the apples and pear and make the apple & pear sauce if you didn’t want to buy a whole jar for 1 spoon. (See recipe below)
2. Sift the self-raising flour, baking powder and cinnamon together. Add the wholemeal flour.
3. Mix the sugar with the apple sauce. And then add the apple juice, eggs -lightly beaten-, sunflower oil and grated apple and pear.
4. Finally add the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.
5. Line a baking tin with greaseproof paper or butter it in. Spoon the mixture into the tin and sprinkle it with chopped walnuts.
5. Bake for 35-40 minutes in a preheated oven on 180 degrees Celsius or 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

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And? Are you getting excited as well? I should definitely try a recipe like this with only pear. That's all I have to say about it. Awesome cake. It will be made again!

Oh yes! For the apple and pear sauce! Here it goes:

Apple sauce
Ingredients:

Diced apple and/or pear
Juice and/or water
Sugar


1. Put the apple and pear in a pan in a bottom of juice. Make sure you have more fruit than juice. Make sure you always have a little bit of juice in your pan so the fruits don't burn.
2. Put the lid on the pan and leave it on the fire to simmer.
3. After a while check and stir, add more juice and leave again if necessary. Use a fork to mash the fruit and add some sugar to taste. And voilĂ ! Super easy, super quick apple sauce!

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Edit: Want to see more recent pictures of this cake? I'm showing them off in this post!