Thursday, February 10, 2011

Healthy Toblerone Cookies

 Let me get right to the crux of the matter: There are several ways you can add chocolate to a dish to make it healthier. Impossible, you say? I'll show you how.
  • Chocolate is a valuable source of dairy, magnesium, iron and anti-oxidants
  • If you choose the fruit and nut - variety, it's one of your five serves for the day, plus some healthy fats from the nuts
  • Choose a bar with orange for some vitamin C.
  • It's a known fact that white chocolate and dark chocolate cancel each other out, so if you want to add zero calories to your recipe, add equal amounts of both.
There you go. You're welcome.

I made this cookies because I have LOTS of Toblerone in my pantry to work through, as well as some muesli that didn't reach the required breakfast standards of our family. Our favourite muesli hails from sunny South Africa, and is called Nature's Source Luxury Strawberry & Yoghurt Cereal. It is delicious with little bits of sweet yoghurt and dried strawberry, together with the necessary healthy bits like oats. We love it, and I buy several boxes from our local supermarket when it's in stock. Unfortunately they don't always have it, having to import it from another continent, I suspect. So, occasionally we run out. And it was during one of these dry times that we were forced to look for a standby muesli. The first one we tested were inedible. I tried a bit, chucking it in the bin after a couple of mouthfuls. The Fabulous Man tried some, and threw it away too. Out went the whole packet. The second one we tried were better, but not what I would call muesli nirvana. I was reluctant to throw away another almost full box of muesli, so I decided to look for other ways to use it.

I tried making a muesli cookie with Toblerone bits a few days ago, but , surpise surprise, it turned out a disaster. Cooking mojo gone and all that. When I took it out of the oven it tasted all spongy. And that's the best way I can describe it. Like little cakes, only quite tough, and really just quite awful. I tried cooking it for longer, then for shorter, fiddled with my oven's fictional thermostat knob for a bit, tried another batch, but in the end I threw the cookies together with the rest of the cookie dough in the bin. A few days later I tried a Martha Stewart recipe for banana chocolate chip cookies, and again, spongy. I gave one to the Fabulous Man to get his opinion, and he used the exact word: spongy. What on earth am I doing wrong?

Said Fabulous Man went on a business trip this morning, so us girls are on our own. And in my books, girls alone means cookies. With chocolate, of course. Not wanting to tempt fate I went with my own tried and tested chocolate chip cookie recipe, the one I used for my Christmas cookies. I left out the cranberries and pistachios, swapped Toblerone for the white chocolate, and added a cup of muesli. And it worked! I can't tell you how pleased I am. Not only do we have some delicious cookies in the house again, but to make something that doesn't turn out badly is such a relief.

The cookies really are good. Crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside, with flecks of nutty muesli and melted Toblerone on the inside (if you have them straight from the oven, like we do in our house). If you show a bit more restraint, the Toblerone does firm up, but never really goes back to its hard chocolate consistency. It's great. So, if you need a healthy shot of oats, nuts and anti-oxidants, try these. You never have to think again that eating healthily is boring.

Muesli and Toblerone Cookies
Makes about 36 cookies

1 cup (220g) firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup (110g) caster sugar
1 1/2 cups (225g) self-raising flour
1/2 cup (75g) plain flour
1 cup (140g) muesli
185g butter, melted and cooled
1 egg, plus 1 egg yolk
200g Toblerone, or other chocolate of your choice, broken into pieces

Preheat your oven to 180ºC.

Combine sugars, flours and muesli in a large bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk butter, egg and egg yolk until combined. Stir into sugar mixture until it forms a soft dough. Stir in chocolate.

Place tablespoons full onto prepared trys, allowing for room to spread. Bake for 12 minutes, until lightly brown. Cool on trays.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Work in Progress

The January 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Astheroshe of the blog accro. She chose to challenge everyone to make a Biscuit Joconde Imprime to wrap around an Entremets dessert.

I wish it was otherwise, but unfortunately this turned out a disaster for me. When I saw the challenge initially, I had fabulous plans for a whole range of beautiful little jocondes, filled with an array of ice creams, mousses, creams and fruit. Of course, as I normally do, I dawdled too long, and didn't have any time left to do half of what I planned. Then a heat wave struck Melbourne, and it was so stinking hot, I couldn't turn on the oven. The problem is my oven. Apart from being super tiny, it's thermostat dial has fictional numbers on it. I have a separate thermometer inside, but usually it takes me at least an hour's fiddling with the stupid knob to get the temperature where I want it to be. And in this heat, having a hot oven blasting for hours on end wasn't an option.

Cute little flower and dots

At the same time I had a sneaking suspicion that the challenge might not turn out the way I want it to. I've read other people's versions, and if they were having trouble, I knew I definitely would. And I was really reluctant to give up one of my Saturdays for something that might not even work. (The Fabulous Man takes our Little Girl out for the day so I can at least have a shower in peace).  But I did it anyway. And maybe I brought it on myself, but I was right. It was a disaster. Not the joconde bit, mind you. That turned out almost as good as I wanted. It was the inside bit. I decided to make life easy for myself and just make a simple chocolate mousse. The recipe I chose was Nigella's from Domestic Goddess. You know the one which is actually a cake, but she says if you want a mousse chill it instead of bake it? Unfortunately this did not work our for me at all. It was one big mess. It didn't set very well, and when I unmoulded my joconde, it all collapsed in one big sorry-looking puddle. It didn't even taste nice. Horrible gooey texture, tasting suspiciously like raw cake batter. I'll try the joconde recipe again soon and try to make it right, because it looks fabulous. This is not over.

Batter poured over design

Then I looked at the date yesterday, and realised that my blog is one year old! I felt I had to postpone my post about my disastrous jocone, and make something nice for the anniversary. Something nice, and something that cannot possibly fail. You see, for some reason, I have had a lot of mishaps in the kitchen recently. I'm not entirely sure what's happening, but I have obviously lost my cooking mojo. Not that I've ever been great, contrary to my lovely little nephew's opinion. His mum told me that he thought I should definitely enter Masterchef, and would it be okay if they give me my welcome home party when I leave the competition? But then added that it probably won't be necessary, because I will obviously win the competition. Don't you just love the ignorance of kids? I recently saw one of the Junior Masterchef episodes, and I'm telling you, there are 8 year olds who can cook me under the table.

Fresh from the oven

So, considering the fact that these days I do well if I make Nutella toast without burning the toast, I decided to stick with my Daring Bakers disaster for my anniversary post. Because I think this is the best example of my cooking at the moment. I have lofty ideals and grand plans, but  they seldom work out. Mostly I buy my food at the supermarket and cook something super easy for dinner. But, hopefully, I will get better, and the disasters will get less and less. It's a work in progress.

Finished Joconde

Patterned Joconde-Décor Paste

This amount of paste is a lot, so I suggest you make half the amount, at most.

 200g unsalted butter, softened
 200g Confectioners' (icing) sugar
7 large egg whites - about 200g
220g cake flour
Food coloring gel, paste or liquid

COCOA Décor Paste Variation: Reduce cake flour to 170g. Add 60 g cocoa powder. Sift the flour and cocoa powder together before adding to creamed mixture.

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy (use stand mixer with blade, hand held mixer, or by hand)

Gradually add egg whites. Beat continuously.

Fold in sifted flour.

Tint batter with coloring to desired color, if not making cocoa variation.

Spread a thin even layer of décor paste approximately 5 mm thick onto silicone baking mat with a spatula, or flat knife. Place mat on an upside down baking sheet. The upside down sheet makes spreading easier with no lip from the pan. (I wasn't sure that it was completely necessary to turn the sheet upside down)

Pattern the décor paste – Here is where you can be creative. Make horizontal /vertical lines (you can use a knife, spatula, cake/pastry comb). Squiggles with your fingers, zig zags, wood grains. Be creative whatever you have at home to make a design can be used. OR use a piping bag. Pipe letters, or polka dots, or a piped design. If you do not have a piping bag. Fill a ziplock bag and snip off corner for a homemade version of one.

Slide the baking sheet with paste into the freezer. Freeze hard. Approx 15 minutes.

Joconde Sponge

85g almond flour/meal - *You can also use hazelnut flour, just omit the butter
75g confectioners' (icing) sugar
 25g cake flour
3 large eggs - about 150g
3 large egg whites - about  90g
10g white granulated sugar or superfine (caster) sugar
30g unsalted butter, melted

In a clean mixing bowl whip the egg whites and white granulated sugar to firm, glossy peeks. Reserve in a separate clean bowl to use later.

Sift almond flour, confectioner’s sugar, cake flour. (This can be done into your dirty egg white bowl)

On medium speed, add the eggs a little at a time. Mix well after each addition. Mix until smooth and light. (If using a stand mixer use blade attachment. If hand held a whisk attachment is fine, or by hand. )

Fold in one third reserved whipped egg whites to almond mixture to lighten the batter. Fold in remaining whipped egg whites. Do not over mix.

Fold in melted butter.

Remove the decor paste from freezer. Quickly pour the Joconde batter over the design. Spread evenly to completely cover the pattern of the Décor paste.

Bake at 475ºF /250ºC until the joconde bounces back when slightly pressed, approx. 15 minutes. You can bake it as is on the upside down pan. Yes, it is a very quick bake, so watch carefully. (I baked mine for 7 monutes at 230ºC)

Cool. Do not leave too long, or you will have difficulty removing it from mat.

Flip cooled cake on to a powdered sugared parchment paper. Remove silpat. Cake should be right side up, and pattern showing! (The powdered sugar helps the cake from sticking when cutting.)

Line the sides and base of your lined mould, and fill with your chosen filling.