Thursday, October 16, 2014

Nutty Chocolate Oat Cookies

 Filled with nuts and chocolate, this oat cookie is a healthier snack to satisfy your cravings. Keep a jar of these for those times when only a cookie will do.

Tomorrow I'm going to see my grandparents. I'm excited because I haven't seen them for quite a while. The only bad part about visiting my grandparents is the travelling. It is made worse by the occassional  frequent pangs of hunger my sisters and I have.

Stuffing your face with snacks, although delightful, is not exactly the best thing for your health. But having something to eat with you when travelling is absolutely essential.
While I was pondering over this, I wondered into the kitchen and my eyes fell on a huge box of porridge oats. So I thought "Why not make some oat cookies? They should be healthier than any other cookie"
And that's exactly what I did.

Nutty Chocolate Oat Cookies (Makes 18)

4 oz/110g butter or margarine
2 oz/55g light brown sugar and extra for sprinkling
2 tablespoons golden syrup
4 oz/110g plain flour
4 oz/110g porridge oats
1 1/2 oz / 40g almonds, chopped
3 oz/75g dark chocolate, chopped
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
A pinch of salt

Into a large bowl, sift in the flour, salt and raising agents. Add the chopped nuts and chocolate and mix with a wooden spoon to combine.
In a saucepan, over low heat, melt the butter or margarine, brown sugar and golden syrup until the sugar has sort of dissolved into the butter.While the butter is still hot, pour it into the dry ingredients and mix together.When you do this the chocolate will start to melt.You may have to use your hands to bring everything together.
Divide the mixture into 18 balls.On a wooden board or a clean work surface, flatten each ball of dough with your fingers and using, a palette knife, transfer them to a baking sheet.
Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until the cookies are firm and just starting to brown. Transfer them to wire rack to cool. While they cool, the cookies will continue to cook further and harden a little more.

Notes on the recipe
  1. I didn't use blanched almonds in this recipe. This is because leaving the skins on gives the cookie a much better flavour. You could use pretty much any kind of nuts you wanted or even a mixture of them. (I'm going to try them with peanuts next time)
  2. Butter or Margarine would both work fine here. I used margarine because it's the "healthier" choice.
  3. You can use chocolate chips instead of chopping up dark chocolate (to make life easier)

Once all the ingredients are mixed, the mixture should look something like this.

Divide the mixture into 18 balls flatten them out and bake!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Chocolate Molten Lava Cake

Intensely chocolate-y with a gorgeous, gooey molten centre. Absolutely foolproof!
(Just follow this step-by-step recipe)

There's nothing like chocolate to help you take a break! This is the story of how a five minute break from studying turned into three gorgeous chocolate lava cakes.

Normally when I take a break, I read through my steadily growing collection of recipe books or as I've mentioned before, take a look at food related posts on Google+. If I need a longer break I watch an episode of Grey's Anatomy(with which I am obsessed). These days I've been watching past and present episodes of The Great British Bake-Off (this year's series was epic!). But today found myself wandering into the kitchen......
(My head is always in the kitchen but these days I haven't been baking much because I need to study. So I've stuck to baking stuff in my head) 

I spent a lot of time last year trying to perfect this recipe. I eventually did it but this was before I got my camera, so I don't have any photos of my failed attempts to share with you.
This recipe is combination of several, from my recipe books and the internet. I was extra good today and took photos of all the steps. Don't worry about making this cake. It will turn out just fine if you follow the recipe exactly right.

Chocolate Molten Lava Cake
(makes 3)

100 g (4 oz) Dark Chocolate
85 g ( 3 oz/ 1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
50 g (1/4 cup) sugar
30g (1/4 cups) plain flour
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
A pinch of salt
3/4 teaspoon instant coffee granules (completely optional)

Grease 4 ramekins with butter and preheat the oven to 200C/ 400F.
Melt the chocolate in a bain-marie or in the microwave. The chocolate should be chopped up roughly or you could use dark chocolate chips to make life a lot easier.

If you're melting in the microwave, do it in 30 second increments, stirring in between. This is to make sure the chocolate does not get too hot and start to seize (this has happened to me a few times before). If the chocolate seizes, it will become grainy and you won't end up with a smooth and glossy chocolate and butter mixture, like this.

Stir in the coffee granules and salt into the chocolate while it's still hot. This will make sure the coffee dissolves properly.
Let the chocolate cool. Meanwhile, beat the sugar and eggs on high, in a stand mixer or with a handheld electric whisk, until they are thick and mousse-like. They should be fluffy and really pale and will have almost tripled in volume. This will take around 4 minutes ( I haven't really timed it).
Beating the eggs like this makes the cake really soft and also helps it rise a little.

Slowly pour the melted chocolate into the eggs and sugar mixture, with the mixer on a low speed.(The chocolate and butter should be completely cooled when you do this. DO NOT do it when the chocolate is still too warm), You can put it into the fridge to speed things up.Add in the vanilla extract.

Sift the flour over the mixture and gently fold in until just incorporated. Take care not to over-mix.
By this time the volume of the batter will have reduced a little and that's okay, but you should be careful so that it doesn't reduce too much.
The mixture will be slightly thick and glossy.

Spoon the batter into the prepared ramekins. Each will get about one cup of batter.
Bake the cakes for 12 to 15 minutes. Keep a close eye on them.They should still be a little soft in the middle ( this means they are molten inside ) and a little firm around the edges.
Check them in 12 minutes. If they're not done, keep checking every 30 seconds. It's very easy to overcook them.

The longer the cake sits, it cooks more inside, so it's better to eat them while they are still a bit warm ( Not piping hot, obviously!). When the cakes have cooled slightly, run a knife around the edges. Then gently push the cake towards the middle.This is to release it from the bottom of the ramekin. Turn the ramekin over onto your serving plate and gently tap the bottom of the ramekin. The cake should fall out.

Give the cake a dusting of icing sugar. Eat with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or just on its own!

Notes on the recipe
  1. The instant coffee granules are for an added boost of flavour. You can leave them out, if you prefer.Make sure to add the vanilla and salt though, because they really enhance the flavour of the chocolate.
  2. A common problem with lava cakes is that they are difficult to turn out. I fact, I hardly ever do this. I eat them straight from the ramekin or I bake them in teacups which look very pretty.

These lava cakes are proof that a little extra effort goes a long way. Tell me what you think about this recipe. Is it worth a try?