Double trouble – Caramel chocolate shortbread and pretzels

Chocolate and caramel shortbread recipe

I have to confess, the idea for this cookie didn’t come from, as many similar others do, homemade twix. There’s no denying that homemade twix is scrumptious, as is regular factory made twix. (Pretty much anything involving cookies, chocolate and caramel is scrumptious in my book). But as inspiring as that famous candy bar is, the idea for these came from Lille’s Thins. Not as famous, they are impossibly thin cookies with just a sprinkle of sugar, and just the other day I got a tin of them as a gift and, being the cookie monster I am, I opened them right then and there where it was slightly dark. The plastic tray thingy they come in is chocolate coloured, and I of course got super excited because the outside did not advertise any cacao goodness. But to my great disappointment,  it was all a sneaky ruse from the packaging, there was no chocolate involved. But I could not stop thinking as I dunked a couple in a glass of milk, how much more nice they would be if they had a thin thin layer of chocolate as well as that “sprinkle of sugar”. So I set out to make a shortbread thin version covered with chocolate. And in the process thought that an also very thin layer of caramel wouldn’t hurt anyone. And voila! Three ultra thin layers of some of the best components of pastry: caramel, chocolate and shortbread. The result is beyond scrumptious, if that’s possible.

But that’s not all. I knew I’d have some leftover caramel from the recipe, and hence the double trouble: the day you make these you can turn into a two-treat kind of day, because if you have some extra chocolate chips and a few pretzels around, you can also make pretzelcaramelchocolatechunks. (Which don’t have a name that I’m aware of) These both make excellent gifts if you wrap them individually in waxed paper, and they keep very well as long as you keep them away from heat and moisture. So go on, read more for the recipe (s) ! Continue reading

Indulging – Double chocolate scones

doublechocoscones-2

I’m writing this post and have just realised that I haven’t got a category called “baked goods” because I’m constantly baking and it didn’t occur to me that I should have a place where to put all the croissants/muffins/tartelettes that I make. So I am now officially renaming the “Muffins and small cakes” category to Baked goods & pastries. This all came up because I’m constantly making scones and only now does it dawn upon me that scones aren’t a bread, nor a cake, nor a cookie and not exactly a dessert. What are these heavenly bites then? Baked goods. If anyone has a more appropriate name for them, I’m all ears. But on to the recipe….these are actually chocolate scones. Not scones with chocolate chips in them. Oh no. These are a full cocoa explosion in your mouth. Dark and scrumptious. And of course, a few chocolate chips in there never hurt anyone …right?(hence the double). These are beyond good for breakfast, topped with apricot or raspberry marmalade, and if you’re feeling really indulgent, why not a bit of clotted cream? Trust me, you’ll never want to have eggs for breakfast again :/
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The killer combo – Chocolate, banana & almond tart

Chocolate banana almond tart

Recently I’ve had a ton of birthdays. I don’t know why, but March seems to be a popular month amongst people near me to turn older and remind me that in a few more months I will also be adding a year to my belt. This of course, after you’ve passed the 25 mark, is always catastrophic. And while I know that I’m not ancient and that not only the blogging world but the world in general is full of articles praising your late 20’s and telling you how it’s the best time of your life, it still panics me a bit to be reminded I’m also getting older. But. Birthdays also remind me that I have an excuse to eat tons of dessert, have too many drinks and in general be merry. Because as we get older our celebrations evolve with us, and, to my great enjoyment, increasingly involve better food and more importantly, more dessert. (And thankfully, more wine and less tequila shots). But the truly great thing about birthday desserts, is that you get to enjoy them like a little kid, because when you get a killer combo of sweet ingredients that take you back to that very first birthday when you put bananas and chocolate in your mouth, and realised the world was in fact a great place worth making a life in, we all become little kids. And in that moment the crow’s feet round your eyes are purely from smiling. (Except for those unfortunate souls who don’t like chocolate.). This tart, with it’s chocolate ganache, fresh bananas, toasted almonds and whipped cream topping, will actually make you wish you had even more reasons to feel old, just so you could whip one up once a week.
Note: while this tart is very easy to make, if you’re not comfortable making tart shells or are in a hurry, feel free to swap the one in the recipe for a store bought one. Just make sure it’s chocolate! Recipe after the jump. Continue reading

Post monday – Greek yogurt chocolate banana muffins

Greek yogurt chocolate banana muffins

Some things are just universally loved. Like finding money in your pockets or banana muffins for breakfast. Other things are universally hated, like smashing your little toe against a table, or mondays. Most people find mondays truly horrible; it’s the day they have to get up early again, go to work, and accept the fact that there are five more days of the same before the weekend comes again. I, on the other hand,  happen to be a complete lunatic and absolutely love mondays. And don’t get me wrong, I love weekends as well… but they just take a huge toll on my doing-things-I-love-on-my-own schedule. For example, I can never have the discipline to work out on weekends. Or to walk my dogs, or read, or try out new recipes, or start a new work project, or finish another one I had at the back of my mind. I also get tons of ideas during weekends for cooking, or drawing or designing or just in general things I’d like to do, and I invariably forget them after a night out with friends. Which are absolutely worth it… but they make me crave monday morning the same as I crave banana muffins any other morning. There’s an incredibly good feeling when you don’t hit the snooze button and get to walk outside with the sunrise that carries on throughout the day, making those five days till friday actually really great. Almost as great as waking up to the smell of freshly baked muffins – which is what happens at my house when I don’t get to work out because of a bad ankle. I just bake instead. In this case, greek yogurt, chocolate chip, oat and ultra banana-ish banana muffins. They’re the perfect consistency, so smooshy from bananas you might even think there’s no flour instead. And not overly sweet, which means you won’t feel like you’re having cake for breakfast. (on monday! Asolute no-no. That’s ok on saturdays only) Not too much butter in them either, so have one after lunch as well. And since even sharing you can’t possibly eat all 12 in one day, have some post-monday. Read more for the recipe!

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For a spotty friend – Almond and chocolate scones

Almond chocolate scones

I’m a huge Dr. House fan. I’m also a huge scone fan. And how might these two relate? (apart from Hugh Laurie being british) Well, I was watching an episode about two weeks ago in which a family went scuba diving to an old shipwreck and got infected with what appeared to be smallpox. Which was eradicated quite a bit ago. and as I was watching the show, I was also getting a few spotty-faced snapchats from a friend who’d been infected with…wait for it…..chicken pox! Which is almost eradicated even in little kids…so how she got it was also a mystery worthy of House. And so while watching the family slowly die in isolation, I thought up these scones to bring to my friend who was also in isolation (though thankfully not dying, just quite itchy) and who, like me, also finds solace in crumbly pastries which you can have for breakfast, lunch or dinner. (because scones are just awesome like that). So if you have a friend in need, or just want a snack to munch on while you watch House re-runs, go read more for the recipe. Continue reading

Grown up kids – Oreo and peanut butter cupcakes

Oreo peanut butter cupcakes

When I was an annoying pre-teen my diet consisted solely of quesadillas and oreos. It’s true, there was a time in the life of this foodie where I totally missed out on one my favorite things in life; eating. I do have to say though, in defense of quesadillas and oreos, they are both incredibly good. I’m pretty sure there aren’t many mexicans out there who’ll deny the deliciousness of cheese, tortillas and salsa. And what can I say about oreos? If you don’t like them, there’s probably something severely wrong with you. Like get-your-butt-to-the-doctor-wrong. Especially if the wonderful cookie sandwiches come accompanied by peanut butter and a tall glass of cold milk. Am I right? Peanut butter and oreos is the ultimate pre-teen combo…and teen, and young adult, and adult and senior. Because it never gets old. At least for me it will always be one of those childhood flavors that I will never outgrow.
And so were born these oreo cupcakes (and cake!)….stuffed with cookies and topped with a not too sweet, melt in your mouth peanut butter frosting. Also topped with more oreos, because you can’t have too many of those. I actually made these for a co-worker who recently left our office and who needed something to remember us by, and what better way than using an already full of memories combination of flavors?Read more for the recipe! Continue reading

Indulge every morning – Chocolate rye bread

chocolateryebread

Second warning of the day: This might be the best bread I’ve ever baked. And I know bread is one of those things (like cookies) which you can’t say there’s an absolute winner, because that choice will always depend on what you’re eating it with, whether it’ll be eaten cold or warm, what time of the day you’re having it, etcetera, etcetera. But this recipe turned out to be so rich in flavor, with a slightly bitter bite from the rye and cocoa, balanced out with sweetness of the cranberries and raisins, and soft and fluffy on the inside but crusty on the outside. What more could you ask for?? Nothing I say. Plus, you can bake it as a sandwich loaf, as baguettes, as diner rolls, whichever way you like! Because the dough is so easy to manipulate once kneaded, you don’t have to struggle a lot to get it to stay perfectly shaped.
And then once you bake it, you can have a thick slice with gouda, spinach, and a poached egg on top. And if you cover that with creamy mustard sauce, then you might just forget it’s monday and that you have to hurry up to get to work on time.
Read more for the recipe!

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