April 25, 2011

Double-Decker Mud Cake

Chocolate Cakes (Cookbook Adventure #9 - The Australian Women's Weekly "chocolate cakes"

Happy Easter! 

I offered to make dessert for Easter Sunday dinner, so of course this was the perfect cookbook for this adventure. Some colleagues kindly gave it to me in place of a birthday card given my predilection for all things chocolate! 

This double-decker mud cake was a winner from the start and it may turn out to be an Easter regular (or for a post Easter "use up all my kids' easter eggs" baking frenzy).

The original recipe can be found on the Australian Women's Weekly website and here is my Thermotalk version:

150g white cooking chocolate
250g butter
220g raw sugar (original recipe had 440g!)
250g milk
225g plain flour
75g self raising flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 tbsp cocoa powder
500g milk cooking chocolate 
210g cream 

Preheat oven to 150C. Grease two deep 20cm round cake pans; line bases and sides with baking paper.
Place white chocolate in TM bowl. Grate for 5 seconds on speed 8.
Add butter, sugar and milk. Mix at 50C for 3 minutes on speed 2.
Add flours, vanilla and eggs. Mix for 10 seconds on speed 5.
Pour half of the mixture into one of the prepared pans (half is when you can just see the pointed end of the TM blade sticking out of the remaining mixture in the TM bowl).
Add cocoa and mix for 10 seconds on speed 5.
Pour into other prepared pan.
Bake cakes for about 50 minutes or when a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Stand cakes in pans for 5 minutes then turn cakes, top-side up onto a wire rack to cool.
Wash the TM bowl and then make the frosting. 
Place milk chocolate in TM bowl and grate for 7 seconds on speed 8. Add cream and heat at 50C for 4 minutes on speed 3. Pour into a bowl and refrigerate for about an hour (or until spreadable), stirring occasionally.
To put the cake together - split each cooled cake in half. Place one layer of cake on serving plate. Spread with milk chocolate mixture. Repeat layering alternating colours. Cover top and sides of cake with remaining chocolate mixture. 

Decorating the top of the cake is optional. The Lindt white choc bunny was just perfect for this occasion. 

But of course it had to be shattered to be shared!

Cleaning tip: After making the frosting make yourself or your choc loving child a yummy hot chocolate by placing 150ml of milk into TM bowl and heating at 70C for 4 minutes on speed 2. This will ensure every last skerrick of chocolate is consumed and the TM bowl will only need a quick rinse afterwards!

April 19, 2011

Japanese Mayo & Potato Salad

It was sushi night at our place and I decided to make some Japanese salads to compliment it.

Hubby makes the best sushi (as vouched for by many friends and family). Unfortunately this is one thing the Thermomix can't do!

Potatoes were plentiful in my pantry and so potato salad seemed an obvious choice.  And what's Japanese Potato Salad without Japanese Mayonnaise? We are usually an ardent fan of
Kewpie Mayonnaise, but in my Thermomix mindset of course I had to have an attempt at making it. Found this recipe at Bella Online but have tweaked it to my taste.

1 egg at room temperature (very important!)
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
3/4 tsp salt
1/8 to 1/4 tsp karashi hot mustard (which I didn't have so used hot english!)
1 tsp white sugar
250g canola oil

Insert butterfly. Place all ingredients except oil into TM bowl. Mix for 1 minute on speed 4. With blades rotating on speed 4 and MC in place, slowly drizzle the oil into the lid (should take about 6 minutes to incorporate all the oil).
Store in a sterilised jar. To be the on the safe side most recipes say that it keeps for a couple of days but I have kept it for 2 weeks (just try to use fresh eggs and wash it before cracking).

Potato Salad
This recipe is based on a recipe posted by Just Hungry, however I have again varied the ingredients a bit for taste and texture, and of course used the Thermomix for the whole process! Here it is in Thermotalk:
4 firm medium sized potatoes, scrubbed
2 small carrots, peeled and halved lengthwise
1 small cob of corn, peeled and cut into 3cm length cobs
1 egg
1 stalk of celery
1 small onion or two spring onions
100g Japanese mayonnaise
Salt and pepper

Place 500g of water, 1/2 tsp of salt and a pinch of sugar into TM bowl. Insert simmering basket and place potatoes and egg into it. Place corn and carrots into Varoma receptacle and place Varoma into position. Steam cook for 25 minutes on Varoma temperature speed 1. After 15 minutes remove the corn and egg and set aside. Continue cooking the potatoes and carrots for the remaining time. Once cooked remove simmering basket and throw out water.
Peel potatoes whilst warm (use a kitchen towel if necessary). Peel egg.
Place onions and celery into TM bowl. Chop for 3 seconds on speed 5. 
Roughly break potatoes, carrot and egg into half and add to the TM bowl. 
Cut corn kernels off corn cob and add to the TM bowl (give remaining cob to a teething baby as a tasty and healthy rusk!) 
Add mayonnaise and salt and pepper to TM bowl. Mix for 10 seconds on speed 4 or until chopped to the texture that you prefer. 
Best eaten at room temperature (so if you do refrigerate it, remember to take it out at least 10 minutes before serving).

Cooking order tip: If you are making the mayonnaise and the potato salad on the same day, then do it in the following order to minimise washing up: 
  1. Cook potatoes, egg, carrots, and corn. 
  2. Rinse out steaming water and dry TM bowl.
  3. Make mayonnaise.
  4. Remove the mayonnaise to a sterilised jar but don't worry about washing the TM bowl.
  5. Complete the remaining steps for making the potato salad.

April 12, 2011

Choc Chip Hot Cross Buns

It's Easter time and I've been busy hot cross bunning! (If you count 3 batches baked in 10 days as busy). The recipe is in the EDC (page 117 sans the choc chips). However I've decided to post my own version which came about purely by accident!
When making my first batch of the season I didn't realise my TM cord was caught up under one of its legs and resulted in serious weighing errors (something one should have learnt in Thermomix 101!)  I only discovered this once I had put in the milk and was weighing in the flour so there was no going back.  As I hate waste, I didn't throw it out but plowed ahead and did it all by "feel".  It produced the best batch I have ever made.  And therein lay the problem - I was not sure I could recreate it because of the errors!  Anyway a couple of experiments (and many calories) later, I think I have it.  

So here's my Thermotalk version of this month's "hottest" bun:

400g milk
60g raw sugar
15g dry yeast (4 tsp)
650g bakers flour
2 tsp salt
90g butter
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
200g mixed dried fruit (or your own favourite combo of any or all of sultanas, raisins, currants, cranberries, cherries, mixed peel (but don't use more than 20g of this unless you really like the orange/lemon rind taste))
Approximately half a cup of dark chocolate chips
Extra butter


Place milk into TM bowl and cook for 2 minutes at 60C on speed 1.
Place remaining ingredients (in order of the recipe list) into the TM bowl except the dried fruit and choc chips, and mix for 6 seconds on speed 7.
Place dried fruit into the TM bowl and mix for 10 seconds on speed 5.
Set dial to closed lid position and knead for 4 minutes on Interval setting. 
Dough before first prove

Remove from TM bowl and put into a bowl to prove. As the  dough is quite sticky, use buttered hands to make it easier to remove from the TM bowl.

Put in a warm place to prove for 1 to 1.5 hours until dough more than doubles in size.
Grease a large baking tray (30cm x 40cm) (you can use baking paper but I find that I get a better bun if it is baked directly on the tray).

With buttered hands pull off enough dough for a dinner roll size bun, press 4-6 chocolate chips into the base and fold over to enclose and create a smooth top on your bun. Makes about 24. 
Buns  before second prove
Place onto baking tray about 1cm apart so that they have room to grow. Cover and let prove for about an hour until the buns are touching each other.
Crossed & ready for the oven

Pipe with crosses and bake in a pre-heated oven at 220C for 12 minutes or until a golden colour. Leave oven on.

Brush with hot sugar syrup and then place back into the oven for another minute to set the glaze.

Piping Mixture
Place 50g water, 40g plain flour, 1/2 tsp light olive oil and a pinch of salt in TM bowl and mix to combine for 30 seconds on speed 4. Scrape down sides if necessary and mix again until mixture is smooth and of pancake consistency. Pour into a piping bag (or a ziplock/freezer bag and snip a tiny bit off the corner) and pipe out the crosses onto the buns.

Sugar syrup

Dissolve 3 tbsp raw sugar in 3 tbsp of boiling water by stirring vigorously.

Best eaten straight from the oven whilst warm! Still good to eat a day later, and if (in the unlikely event) you have any leftover pop them in the freezer for a yummy snack another day.

April 5, 2011

Upside Down Blood Plum Tart

Cookbook Adventure #8 - "food fast" 
Food Fast (Marie Claire Series)

With plums in season I couldn't resist finding a recipe which used them. In particular blood plums, because of their velvety redness, which when cooked looks fabulously vibrant.

So I delved through my recipe book collection and found this recipe, which was perfect as I also had some almonds to use up. And the added bonus was that it promised to be fast (as per the name of the book) ... it was!

Photo from p108 of food fast
This recipe book was my first marie claire cookbook (I now have three large ones (all by Donna Hay) and 4 small ones) and I've always loved how each recipe has a delicious looking photo to accompany it (I like to know what the cooked product is supposed to look like!)

In this instance, since I was making dessert for 8 people, and couldn't be bothered mucking around with 8 individual bowls, I thought I would experiment with doing it in a flan tin. I know, a bit risky with an untested recipe, but the occasion was not a do or die and the result was worth the risk!

Here's my Thermotalk version:


4-6 blood plums (depending on what will fit into your tart tin), stone removed 
165g almonds
160g raw sugar
190g butter, cubed 
85g plain flour
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 200C.
Grease a flan or tart tin and line the bottom with non stick baking paper. (Check out Jamie's website for an easy way to make a circle of baking paper (aka a "cartouche"). I learnt this from watching his first tv series!)
Cut plums into six even segments and place into the tin in a circular pattern or however you want it to look when turned upside down!
Place almonds in TM bowl. Grind for 10 seconds on speed 8. Set aside.
Place sugar in TM bowl. Mill for 3 seconds on speed 9.
Add butter, mix for 20 seconds on speed 5.
Add flour, eggs, almonds and vanilla and mix for 30 seconds on speed 4.
Spread mixture evenly over plums in tin. Smooth top to make it even.
Bake for 20 minutes or until filling is puffed and golden. 
Leave in tin for 5 minutes and then turn out onto the serving plate to cool.   

Eat by itself or serve with Thermomix vanilla bean icecream (see EDC page 150 but use a real vanilla bean or vanilla bean paste and not just vanilla essence.) 

Variation: Try substituting yellow nectarines or golden peaches for the plums.