Chocolate and matcha sable cookies

This is something I’ve made a few times now, but I have never gotten around to posting the recipe. The photos are also a few years old… Better late than never though!

These sable cookies do require some refrigeration time to allow for easy shaping/slicing, but I promise that they are not too fiddly, and are completely worth it. I loved the extra crunch from the granulated sugar, but R isn’t a fan and prefers it without (he says it is too sweet with the extra sugar).

Chocolate & Matcha sable cookies
Makes 40 cookies
Recipe from Okashi (Sweet treats made with love)

  • 40g silvered almonds
  • 130g plain flour
  • 20g corn flour
  • 20g cocoa powder (or matcha powder)
  • 120g unsalted butter, softened
  • 70g icing sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 1 egg yolk
  • Granulated white sugar, for dusting (I use Demerara sugar) – optional
  1.  Sieve plain flour, corn flour, and cocoa powder (or matcha powder) into a bowl.
  2. Beat butter, icing sugar and salt in a mixing bowl on medium speed, until well combined.
  3. Add egg yolk, and mix until just combined.
  4. In two additions, fold the dry flour mixture into the butter mixture, till the dough is homogenous and well combined.
  5. Add the silvered almonds, and mix through.
  6. Roll the dough into two logs, wrap with clingfilm, and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
  7. Preheat your oven to 160’C (fan assisted).
  8. Slice the cookie dough log into 8mm slices. Roll the cookie sides in granulated sugar, if you wish to do this.
  9. Place the cookies on parchment/Silpat lined baking trays.
  10. Bake for 20 minutes, till just firm to touch.
  11. Leave to cool on a wire rack, and eat when cooled. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 10-14 days.

 

[In photos]: Salon du Chocolat 2013

Chocolate. I cannot count the number of times it has kept me going, especially during stressful exam periods, or long days at work. We have a special relationship, chocolate and I. I always have a stash of various chocolate bars in the kitchen – you never know when you will have the craving for it! (Or so I say).

Which is why I knew I jumped for joy when I heard Salon du Chocolat was coming to London, in conjunction with Chocolate Week. It is said to be the world’s largest chocolate show, with exhibits from various top UK and international brands – including Artisan du Chocolat, Paul a Young, Rococo, Valrhona, Bonnat and Lindt. Various demonstrations and workshops from chocolatiers and chefs were also on offer, as well as a display of chocolate inspired couture outfits (which were modelled live on the first evening of the show). There were many French stalls (complete with French speaking exhibitors), unsurprising as this show has been going strong for many years in Paris.

I always discover new brands during food shows, and this time was no exception. I chanced upon the Leeds-based Lauden chocolate stall, lingered, and eventually tried one of their rather attractive chocolates – and really liked it! I felt that their strength was the intensity of flavours, and especially liked the tanginess of the passionfruit chocolate. I bought a box, naturally.

I’ve never been one for words, so I’ll let the photos do the talking. They are mostly close up (ish) shots of the chocolates/sweets on offer, I got a little over excited and forgot to take wider framed shots!

A selection of 12 chocolates from Lauden Chocolate.

Stephen, one of the owners of Lauden Chocolate.

I wouldn’t be able to wear this without eating my way through the cupcakes…

Too pretty!

I first tried these Venchi chocolates when I went to Italy in my first year of uni – Loved them then, love them now.

Chocolate ruffles, anyone?

I think this was a chocolate/pistachio combo…

A selection of sweets and candies, in extremely pretty boxes.

Chocolate heels. Every girls dream…

A very fancy Advent calendar!

Henri Le Roux caramels. Best caramels EVER – especially the CBS (caramel beurre sel), salted butter caramel.

salon du chocolat 10

A range of spreads – mostly chocolate based, of course.

Rococo mini chocolate bars

Giant slabs of nougat, made from mostly-French ingredients.

More nougat. Because it was pretty.

Not chocolate… but I loved the stand!

White chocolate & orange slabs. I wonder how long it would take one to eat their way through a slab of that…

Extremely attractive chocolate slabs from chocoMe. Loved these.

Paris, je t’aime.

Salted caramels from Melt.

More chocolate.

Not chocolate – but very good. Caramel spread from Henri Le Roux, usually near impossible to get outside France! So good on warm toast. Mmmmm.

Salon du Chocolat in a nutshell:
– Definitely worth a visit if you are a chocolate fan.
– Be prepared for the prices, as good chocolate always comes at a price.
– Sample, discover new brands, and have fun!

Salon du Chocolat is running from 18-20 October at Olympia National Hall, Kensington, London.
http://www.salonduchocolat.co.uk/

Disclaimer: I attended Salon du Chocolat as a guest, but all the opinions above are my own.

Pear & chocolate cupcakes

I love my food. I find any excuse imaginable to snack, and sometimes worry about how much I am seemingly able to eat! To ensure I maintain some sort of balance, I do try to sometimes snack on fruit rather than something errr… less healthy. I also like using fruit when baking, subsequently declaring it “healthy”.

Which is why I welcome the idea of office fruit boxes, which appears to be the new “in” thing. Fruitdrop are one of the companies that offers this service, and supply a selection of fruit to your office – each box contains a selection of 50 fruit, and you can choose from either the “Essentials” or “Seasonal” Fruitdrop office fruit boxes. Prices appear to be fairly competitive, and start at £20 per box. R gets a fruit box where he works, and I am perpetually envious that I don’t, and have to bring in my own fruit!

fruitdrop box

I was recently sent a “Seasonal” box – and was pleasantly surprised at the variety of fruit included within. The site didn’t state how many varieties would be supplied, so it was all a bit of a mystery until I received the box. As you can see from the photo, there were a few seasonal fruits e.g strawberries and plums, alongside the ever present bananas, apples, clementines and so forth.

As I had an abundance of fruit, I decided to experiment and bake with them. Eating them as they are gets boring after a while you see…

fruitdrop pear chocolate cupcakes

fruitdrop pear chocolate cupcake

So yes. I uhmed and ahhed about which fruit would be my first victim, and finally decided to make some pear and chocolate cupcakes. I tried to make these a little healthier than the average cupcake, so these were made with yogurt and oil (no butter). Shocking, I know. And there isn’t any icing because I honestly am not a fan of cupcake icing – I find it way too sweet for my taste.

The only thing I’d do differently next time would be to sprinkle some demerara sugar on the tops of the cupcakes, as this tends to give a very pleasant crunchy top to bite into. And I like crunch.

fruitdrop pear chocolate cupcake

Pear & chocolate cupcakes
Makes 24 small cupcakes

  • 150g caster sugar
  • 200g plain flour
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 125g corn oil (or any other flavourless oil)
  • 280g Greek yogurt
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 180g pears, chopped into 1cm pieces, and tossed lightly in 2 tbsp of plain flour*
  • 100g dark chocolate chunks/chips
  • demerara sugar, for sprinkling

1. Preheat the oven to 170’C (fan assisted).
2. Sieve the caster sugar, plain flour, ground almonds, baking powder and baking soda into a large bowl.
3. Add in the corn oil, Greek yogurt and the egg yolks, and mix until just combined.
4. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks.
5. Gently fold in the egg whites into the cake mixture, in two additions. Take care to not overmix, as this may result in a dense cupcake.
6. Gently fold in the pear pieces and chocolate chunks.
7. Spoon the mixture into a cupcake tin lined with cupcake cases. Sprinkle the tops with demerara sugar if you wish.
8. Bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown on the top.
9. Cool slightly, and enjoy!

* Tossing the pear pieces in flour prevents them from sinking to the bottoms of the cupcakes.

fruitdrop pear chocolate cupcake

Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Fruitdrop.

Chocolate chip cookies – without chocolate chips!

It’s been a while. However I don’t think I shall launch into my “I have been a terrible blogger lately” ramble, as it’s all becoming rather repetitive!

So let me get right down to it.

Lindt Hello range

I recently received some chocolate balls from Lindt’s new “Hello” range. As I have yet to see in stores, I was naturally excited to try these out. My first thought was “I love the packaging”. It deviates slightly from the more formal packaging of other Lindt products, but I like the playfulness of these – and really, it would be nice to give someone a thank you gift which says “Hello, just wanna say thank you” wouldn’t it? Sure it’s a little bit cheesy, but we need cheesy in our lives sometimes.

Lindt crispy balls

I tried the “Crispy balls” and the “Chocolate balls” from this range. Now I should say that I absolutely LOVE Lindt’s Lindor balls, but these crispy little balls are my new favourite. Crunchy pastry balls, coated in chocolate and hazelnuts, rolled in cocoa powder to finish. They taste similar to Maltesers, but I think they are better. It’s the hazelnuts that do it – think a crunchy Nutella chocolate ball. So good!

Lindt chocolate balls

The chocolate balls (nougat crunch & cookies and cream) were also good, but a little too sweet for my taste. They’re great for a quick sugar hit, but I found that I couldn’t really eat more than one at a go. And I like eating more than one in a go. The packaging of this was brilliant though, as you can open the box without needing to untie the ribbon – meaning the box looks pretty all the time.

As I found the chocolate balls a little too sweet, I decided to experiment and use them as “chocolate chips”. I simply chopped the balls up into small chunks, and substituted them into a chocolate chip cookie recipe. Thankfully it worked out pretty well. (Phew).

chocolate ball cookies 2

chocolate ball cookies 5 copy

Please excuse the terrible photo – I was too lazy to arrange everything prettily, thus the use of the ugly chopping board/horrendous lighting. 

I used a mix of chocolate balls and crispy balls – the crispy balls didn’t retain as much of their crispiness once baked, but the chocolate balls were perfect. I’ve modified the recipe below to only include the chocolate balls.

I thought I’d be a little bit adventurous and stray from my usual chocolate cookie recipe, and tried out one of Nigella’s. Interestingly, my cookies came out more crunchy than chewy (the recipe stated that this was a fudgy chewy cookie, with and edge of crisp bite). I suspect my cookies were a little smaller than hers, which might explain it. Still good though.

chocolate ball cookies 4
Chocolate “ball” cookies
Adapted from a recipe in Kitchen, by Nigella Lawson
Makes 20 cookies, measuring approximately 2″ diameter

  • 150g unsalted butter
  • 80g soft brown sugar
  • 80g caster sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 egg + 1 egg yolk, fridge cold
  • 300g plain flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 300g Lindt chocolate balls, chopped into 1cm chunks
  • 100g chopped nuts (I used almonds)

1. Preheat the oven to 170’C.
2. Melt the butter, and let it cool slightly. I used a microwave to melt the butter, but you can do it on the stove if you wish.
3. Place the brown and caster sugar into the bowl of your stand mixer. Pout the melted butter over the sugars, and beat with the paddle attachment until just combined. (Or use a regular hand held mixer)
4. Add the vanilla extract, cold egg + egg yolk. Beat until the mixture is light and creamy.
5. Add the flour and bicarbonate of soda to the bowl in two parts, mixing until just combined.
6. Carefully fold in the chopped chocolate balls and chopped nuts.
7. Shape the cookies into mounds of dough, and place on a parchment lined baking tray.(You can use an ice cream scoop/a spoon/measuring cup to do this, depending on how large/small you want your cookies to be.) Leave at least 5cm between the mounds as they will spread whilst cooking.
8. Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes, or until edges are lightly toasted.
9. Cool slightly on baking rack, then enjoy!

chocolate ball cookies 1

chocolate ball cookies 3
Disclaimer: I received the review samples courtesy of Lindt, but all the views expressed above are my own. 

Non watermarked photos are courtesy of Lindt.

A very chocolate-y Easter!

I can’t believe it’s almost April already. Where has all that time gone? Three whole months of 2012 have just whizzed by. Before I know it, it’s going to be Christmas… eeep.

That said, there are a few things I love about April. One of which, is of course how it means that summer (and all the wonderful berries that come with it) is just around the corner. The other is rather interestingly… Easter! Again I suspect this is because it’s not a huge thing back home in Malaysia, as opposed to over here in London where you see Easter eggs being sold from February onwards.

Those of you who have been reading the blog know that I’m a fan of Hotel Chocolat and their beautiful range of chocolates – festive themed, or not.

Their chocolate range gets more impressive each year, and I always look forward to seeing what new twists they come up with. This year’s Easter selection is the best one I’ve seen yet, with a few things I don’t remember seeing last year. I am particularly amused by the chocolate hot cross buns (pictured above)… they’re SOOOO cute! This is one of the things I don’t remember seeing last year (my memory is horrendous though), but I’d definitely say it’s a keeper.

Hotel Chocolat are also known for their extra thick Easter eggs, which boast luxuriously thick chocolate shells (thicker than your average Easter egg). I always say there is no such thing as too much chocolate, and it’s as if they read my mind! 😉

Because I’ve not tried any of their dark chocolate ranges before, I thought it would be nice to try their Serious Dark Fix Easter Egg. The giant egg comes in a lovely keepsake box – I love food that comes in containers/boxes that I can keep and reuse, and this is an example of that. I have been known to buy biscuits and jams just so I can have the tins/jars that they come in…

There’s also a surprise collection of chocolates hidden within the egg, and happily they’ve included one of my favourite chocolate flavour combinations: salted dark caramels. The raspberry liqueur truffles come a close second. The other flavours include: chilli pralines, black cherry truffles, espresso truffles, and rum truffles. If you haven’t already noticed, all the truffles/mini chocolates are from Hotel Chocolat’s dark chocolate range – thus the name ‘Dark Fix’. (And on a side note, I must say I love the Union Jack shaped chilli praline!)

I know I normally hold a giveaway alongside a review, but I’ve been extremely busy with work and as such have left it a little late to photograph & write the post… so there unfortunately won’t be one this time around as it’s already so close to Easter. Apologies!

But anyhow, if you’re looking for an Easter Egg to knock the socks off a child, significant other, or best friend – look no further! (I wouldn’t give the dark chocolate egg to a child though, the milk one will probably go down a lot better).

Have a very chocolate-y Easter! (I know I will) 😀

* I received a Extra Dark Fix Extra Thick Easter Egg from Hotel Chocolat, but all the views expressed are my own. Non-watermarked photos are courtesy of Hotel Chocolat.

Matcha & vanilla mini doughnuts (with a chocolate glaze!)

When looking through my previous posts, I realised that I’ve never blogged anything Valentine’s Day themed before… so I am here now to rectify this. Most Valentine’s themed desserts nowadays usually have one (if not both) of chocolate, or red velvet. I did toy with the idea of making something like a chocolate fondant (I made these for Valentine’s a few years ago and loved them), but decided to make something I’d never done before instead.

So… I decided to make mini doughnuts, partly because I had a 6 month old mini doughnut tin which had yet to be used. Tin, you say? Why yes. These are baked doughnuts, you see. I doubt I would ever make ‘proper’ deep fried doughnuts, because the amount of oil needed and the subsequent oily kitchen floor really is not something I want to deal with. But baked ones – yes please! [P.S. I LOVE fried doughnuts, I just don’t love making them myself.]

There were a number of different recipes around, some with ‘cake like’ ingredients (i.e. without yeast), and some with ‘bread like’ ingredients (i.e. with yeast). Because I haven’t made these before, I decided to go with a recipe from Heather of Sprinkle Bakes – I’ve tried a few of her recipes before and they’ve turned out well, so I knew I could trust her recipe.

I initially planned on making vanilla doughnuts, but changed my mind at the last minute and went for vanilla and matcha instead. What can I say, I’m fickle. I’m really glad I added in the matcha though, as it added a lovely flavour to the teeny little doughnuts. Plus, if there is matcha in these, they qualify as health food… right? 😛


Doughnut tic-tac-toe, anyone? 😉

These doughnuts turned out really well, and I had a lot of fun decorating them with sprinkles! The decorating actually took longer than the actual baking of the doughnuts, believe it or not. It’s a testament to my pure OCD-esque-ism. They taste best on the day of baking, but become slightly hard the next day. I discovered a little trick to re-soften the doughnuts though: zing the doughnut(s) on HIGH for 10 seconds in the microwave… and voila! Slightly warm, soft doughnut with a melty chocolate glaze. Total win/win situation. In fact, this is what I always do with my beloved Krispy Kreme doughnuts – they just taste so much better warm!

Whilst these aren’t your typical Valentine’s dessert, I can assure you they are the perfect sweet treat for a “pick me up”. And even if you don’t really celebrate it – who needs a reason to eat mini doughnuts?

Matcha & vanilla mini doughnuts
Adapted from this recipe on Sprinkle Bakes
Makes approximately 36 mini doughnuts

For the doughnuts:

  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1/4 cup caster sugar (use 1/3 cup if you prefer a sweeter doughnut)
  • 2 tbsp matcha powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste (optional)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tbsp butter, melted and cooled

For the chocolate glaze:

  • 100g milk or dark chocolate, broken into small pieces
  • sprinkles of your choice

1. Preheat oven to 210°C. Oil your doughnut tin with oil or melted butter (or cooking spray, if you have it).
2. In the bowl of your stand mixer (or a mixing bowl), sift together the flour, sugar, matcha powder, baking powder and salt.
3. Add the buttermilk, egg, vanilla extract, vanilla bean paste (if using) and butter to the mixing bowl. Beat with the paddle attachment on medium high speed, until the ingredients are just combined.
4. Fill doughnut batter into a piping bag, and pipe the dough into the doughnut tin cavities. Don’t overfill the tin, as the doughnuts will puff up and look more like muffins than doughnuts – aim to fill to just under 3/4 its capacity. Alternatively, you can try spooning in the batter, but piping it is much easier (and neater!).
5. Bake for 5-8 minutes, until the top of the doughnuts spring back when touched with your finger. Let cool in pan for 2-3 minutes before removing to a wire rack.
6. Whilst the doughnuts are cooling, melt the chocolate in a double boiler, or in the microwave.
7. Dip the cooled doughnuts into the melted chocolate, and top with sprinkles. Repeat. Then eat! (If you find that your chocolate is too thick, add 1-2 tbsp of milk to the chocolate which will help to make it a little more liquid and dip-able.)

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! And regardless of whether or not you plan to celebrate it, remember that there is ALWAYS a reason to eat some chocolate. Or cake. Or mini doughnuts.

Hotel Chocolat Valentine’s giveaway!

There are two schools of thought when it comes to Valentine’s Day. One group of people firmly believe that Valentine’s is the day to shower love/flowers/cards/etc on your loved ones; whilst the other group firmly believe that Valentine’s Day is a overcommercialised holiday that simply doesn’t mean very much. I have to admit that I actually fall somewhere between the two: I don’t go all all and celebrate it (we usually eat a nice home-cooked meal at home), but I do admit to buying Valentine’s Day cards. Mind you, I am someone who enjoys walking into Paperchase to randomly buy cards to give to people, so I suspect a lot of it is simply a ‘oooh this card is pretty’ thing rather than a ‘must get a Valentine’s card’ thing.

But no matter what your thoughts are about Valentine’s Day, it’s always hard to resist chocolates. Especially when they’re packed beautifully and look pretty. I mean, one doesn’t always need red roses in the house… but who doesn’t need chocolate? I certainly know that chocolate is always welcome in my house. 😉

Hotel Chocolat have, as always, come up with a fantastic range of chocolates for Valentine’s Day. I especially like their chocolate ‘hearts’, because hey, I’m a girl and I like most things that come in this shape. That’s a good enough reason… right? I also really like their chocolate slabs (in fact I recently bought some to bring home to give to friends), and I think this ‘Passion Pop’ slab is almost too pretty to eat.

I had a chance to sample Hotel Chocolat’s Sleekster Love Collection, which I also tried last year. What I was pleased about was that there are some new flavours in this years selection, i.e. they don’t just recycle the same flavours and ideas year after year. My favourites from the selection are the: Strawberry & black pepper (light strawberry truffle and a pinch of black pepper), Soft chilli caramel (soft caramel giving way to a mouth-warming chilli kick), and Praline oyster (smooth milk hazelnut praline).

The other chocolates in the selection that I also enjoyed were: Champagne truffle (milk chocolate and a splash of champagne), Buck’s fizz (white chocolate truffle with a splash of champagne and dash of orange juice), Bison grass vodka (Polish vodka in mellow milk chocolate) and Chilli sweetheart (dark chocolate with chilli and cocoa crispies).

Thanks to Hotel Chocolat, one lucky reader will get the chance to WIN themselves a Sleekster Love Collection box! To enter, just answer the following question:

  • Do you believe in/celebrate Valentine’s Day? Why?

For extra chances to win: (Each will get you ONE entry) – remember you need to answer the above question in order to qualify for extra entries!

  • Like Hotel Chocolat on Facebook, and leave me a comment below telling me you’ve done this.
  • Tweet about the giveaway: You can use the “tweet button” below or copy this: I just entered the @breadetbutter and @HotelChocolat giveaway to win some chocolates for Valentine’s Day! #giveaway http://wp.me/pAcXx-EW
  • Stumble this post, and leave me a comment telling me you’ve done this.

This giveaway is open to all residents of UK, Europe and USA. Giveaway ends Thursday 9th February 2012 at 23:59 BST. A winner will be chosen at random, and once he/she confirms their address, the Sleekster Love Collection will be sent out to them. If the winner fails to confirm their address within 24 hours, another winner will be chosen.

Good luck!

*Review chocolates and giveaway prize sponsored by Hotel Chocolat, but all views expressed are my own.
*Non-watermarked photos courtesy of Hotel Chocolat.