Another Shot at the Shortbread

This isn’t my first attempt at the shortbread. But I finally I managed to get the dough right, cooked it at the right temperature, followed the technique to the T and every bite of the shortbread is a perfect melting moment.

The classic shortbread needs only 4 ingredients, then what could possibly go wrong?  Take care of the following and you should get a decent shortbread.

  1.  Butter should be at the room temperature and soft enough to mix well.
  2. When you cream together butter and sugar, don’t over beat it. Beat only till the two are mixed well.
  3. When you add flour to sugar-butter mix, mix with the beater for a minute then knead the dough with hand.
  4. Don’t roll the dough before baking it. Flatten it / make shapes of your choice with your hands.

In my pursuit of making shortbread, I read a few blogs, watched some videos, scanned through cookery books – I am amazed to know that there are so many different methods of making that perfect shortbread. Some recipes replace 1/4th plain flour by rice flour, some add corn starch and some use icing sugar instead of granulated sugar. While I stuck to my basic four ingredients, here are some interesting links on ‘shortbread’;

http://bakingforbritain.blogspot.in/2008/02/scottish-shortbread.html

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2010/sep/30/how-to-make-perfect-shortbread

Note down the recipe.

Ingredients;

½ cup sieved granulated sugar

1 cup lightly salted butter at room temperature (if you use unsalted butter, add a tsp of salt to the flour)

1 ½ sieved plain flour

A dash of vanilla (essence or use seeds from the vanilla pod)

 Procedure;

  1. Cream together butter and sugar with a spoon or blender.
  2. Add vanilla essence, all the flour and mix only till the time all the ingredients come together.
  3. Keep the blender aside and mix the dough by hand.
  4. Divide the dough in equal portions. Shape the dough as shortbread fingers – the length of a finger and thickness of about 1cm.
  5. Line up the entire lot of shortbread fingers on a baking tray.
  6. With a fork make light puncture marks at three places on each shortbread finger. This will help release bubbles
  7. Chill the fingers for 20 mins before baking.
  8. While the fingers are in the fridge, preheat the oven at 160 C
  9. Remove the fingers from the freezer and put them straight into the oven. Bake for about 35-40 mins till they turn golden brown.
  10. Take the fingers out of the oven. Sprinkle granulated sugar on them while they are hot.

 

Let the shortbreads cool. Store in air tight container.

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Chelsea Buns for the champions

I had no idea what ‘Chelsea buns’ are till I stumbled upon this recipe sometime back while browsing . The name got me curious and I started gathering information.

What better reason to bake these goodies than Chelsea’s surprise victory in UEFA championship?

Chelsea buns are very British buns invented in London. They are made from dried spices and dried fruits and are ideal with afternoon tea (I loved them with black coffee though). The fragrance can sometimes be mistaken for cinnamon rolls.

Chelsea Buns taste somewhat like scones with a nice cinnamon flavor.

The tricky part in this whole recipe I would say is the dough.

 

Let’s get started;

For the DOUGH

2 ½ tsp of fresh yeast

250 ml fresh milk (at room temperature)

400 grams of plain flour

50 grams of granulated sugar

50 grams of melted butter (+ a little more for greasing the pan)

½ tsp of salt (I didn’t use salt. I used salted butter instead. It’s much easier to find in stores)

For the FILLING

50 grams granulated sugar

1 tbsp of cinnamon powder

50 grams mixed dried fruits (only fruits avoid nuts)

 

Preparation before you start

  1. Measure all ingredients
  2. Melt the butter
  3. Add fresh yeast to the milk and whisk till the yeast dissolves completely
  4. Mix cinnamon and sugar together
  5. Grease the tin with melted butter

 

 

Procedure

  1. In a large bowl / pan sieve flour and add sugar to the flour. Mix well.
  2. Add melted butter to the flour and start mixing slowly with hand.
  3. Start pouring milk with one hand and simultaneously start mixing the flour with the other hand.
  4. Knead the dough gently till it comes off the sides of the bowl.
  5. Cover with a cling film and let it rest for 1-2 hours. The dough will rise to double its size in that time.
  6. Once the dough is ready. Roll it on a flat surface.
  7. With a brush, apply generous amount of melted butter on the surface of the dough.
  8. Sprinkle ‘cinnamon-sugar mix’ and dried fruits all over the buttered surface.
  9. Gently, roll the dough along the edges (like a Swiss roll) till the end. Seal the edges.
  10. Turn the roll over so that the seal is underneath and divide the roll into 9 equal buns.
  11. Place the portions on the buttered tin. Cover with a cling film and leave it for 30-45 mins until they have doubled in size. The gaps between individual portions will vanish; it will look like a big bun muddle.

 

Baking

  1. Preheat the oven at 180C
  2. 18.   Bake the buns for 25-30 mins (mine is not a fast heating oven. Fast heating oven will take around 15-20 mins)
  3. Once baked, cool them on the wire rack.

Eat as soon as you can! If you like add a bit of cheese cream icing on the top.

 

Chocolate Passion Fruit Truffles for a lazy weekend

Yeah! The name sounds exotic, but trust me its quite simple to make. The best part being that majority of the time on this will be spent away from the burner. Now isn’t that a blessing in this hot weather?

The key part here is to get the consistency and the texture of your Ganache right.  Ganache is a French word. It basically is a mix of chocolate and cream.  Ganache is different in different recipes – the composition of chocolate and cream varies as per the use. Popularly, ganache is used on éclairs, on cakes, chocolate glaze on biscuits…and of course for truffles.

You can have additional flavours like vanilla, alcohol, fruit juice going into the ganache. We are going to add ‘passion fruit juice’.

Feel free to replace it with the flavour of your choice. But mind the ratio of solids to liquids all the time.  The standard ratio is 2:1. If you wish to add other liquids like fruit juice or alcohol to ganache in a higher proportion then reduce the quantity of cream accordingly.

So lets start with the ganache first. The rest is quite simple.

Ingredients ;

  • 300 grams of chocolate (You can use bitter chocolate or sweet chocolate as per your choice. I used 175 grams of Belgian dark chocolate and 125 grams of sweet chocolate as I was too lazy to venture out to buy chocolate and I sort of like sweet and bitter taste mixed up)
  • 150 grams of thick cream (I used Amul cream)
  • 25 grams of unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp of passion fruit juice/pulp (if the juice is too watery, boil it till it is  reduced to 1/4th of its original quantity)

Procedure

  1. Shave the chocolate bar into small pieces with a knife. You can use any technique you know as long as the chocolate is cut into fine pieces. Use of Chocó chips is also a good idea. Keep the cut chocolate in a heat proof bowl.
  2. Mix the cream and butter in a sauce pan. Heat it on a medium flame close to boil i.e. heat the mixture till bubbles start to appear on the sides of the sauce pan. The process is called scalding.  Stir occasionally to avoid burning the bottom of the pan.
  3. Pour the boiled cream over the chocolate pieces and let it rest for 45 to 60 seconds.
  4. With a spatula, gently stir the mixture starting from the centre. If you stir rapidly, cream will cool off faster not giving enough time for the chocolate to melt.  As you go on stirring, the chocolate and cream will mix together.  Keep mixing till chocolate and cream blends into a shiny smooth paste. Make sure there are no lumps.
  5. Add passion fruit juice and mix well.
  6. Cover with a cling film and keep the ganache to set in the refrigerator.
  7. It will take about 40-50 mins for the ganache to set. This will depend on the temperature in the fridge and local weather conditions.

To make truffles

  1. Once the ganache sets, with a spoon or melon scooper take small chunks of ganache and roll them into small balls. The truffles have a rocky uneven look so even if you don’t get the round shape right, it is absolutely fine.
  2. Roll the balls in coco powder and keep them in the refrigerator to set further for a couple of hours.

In case if the ganache doesn’t set keep it in the freezer for 5 minutes.

If you are absolutely not able to get chunks of ganache , grab a spoon and dig in. You can also slice some fruits like strawberries, mangoes to go with it. It tastes yummy. After all chocolate can never go waste. 😉

Dark Chocolate Cookie

Dark chocolate cookies are baked exactly the same way as Chocó chip cookies, with a slight change to the ingredients.

Ingredients;

200 grams unsalted butter

150 grams granulated Sugar

150 grams brown sugar

2 cups of plain flour

½ cup of dark cocoa powder

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt (skip this if you use salted butter)

2 eggs

1 cup  Belgian Chocó chips (or any other  with 70% cocoa)

Approximate yield = 3-4 dozens of cookies.

Refer ‘Chocó chip cookie’ recipe for the procedure.

As a variation, you can try chips of milk chocolate.  White chips on a dark cookie make a great contrast. They are like a quick sweet punch in the middle of a bitter chocolaty taste.

The classic Chocolate Chip Cookie

This crunchy, buttery and sweet classic cookie is almost forgotten. I am not a cookie person. Never been one. But once in a while, after meals, I love to snack on the leftover crumbs from the jar.

Cookies are quite simple to make. The same set of ingredients as cake. Change the proportion of ingredients. Bake at different temperature. And you get cookies.

Ingredients;

200 grams unsalted butter

150 grams Granulated Sugar

150 grams Brown sugar

2 and ¼ cups (230 grams roughly) plain flour

1 tsp Vanilla extract

1 tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt (skip this if you use salted butter)

2 eggs

1 cup Chocó chips (of your choice, I use the ones with 50% cocoa)

Approximate yield = 3-4 dozens of cookies.

Before you start;

Take all your ingredients at room temperature. If butter is refrigerated, microwave it for 30 secs before use. Store Chocó chips in cool temperature, refrigerate in summers.

You can use a whisker/ manual beater to prepare the batter for cookies. Electric beater is absolutely optional.

The Cookie dough has a tendency to spread while baking. Try baking one cookie first, if you feel that the dough is runny; refrigerate it for 30-40 mins before using it.

Cookie dough can be stored in the fridge for a couple of days. Bake fresh cookies as and when you feel like having some.

Preheat the oven at around 150 Degree Celsius.

Procedure;

  1. In a small bowl sieve flour, baking soda and salt. Mix together with a spoon.
  2. In a large bowl add butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract. Beat till all the ingredients are mixed well.
  3. Add eggs to the mixture, one at a time. Gently beat after adding each egg.
  4. Fold in dry ingredients, little at a time in to the large bowl. The batter will be thicker than the one we make for cake.
  5. Mix Chocó chips with the batter. Save a handful for later use.
Line up the baking tray with butter paper. On the butter paper, drop a spoon full of cookie dough (batter spreads to double the size. The amount of batter will decide the size of the cookie). Leave enough space (an inch minimum) between two cookies.  Dot the cookies with the remaining Chocó chips.

To have standard size cookies, you can use an ice-cream scoop instead of a spoon.

Bake the cookie dough for 12-15 mins. Let stand for a few minutes.

Remove the cookies on the wire rack to cool.

Those with a taste for high amount of coco in chocolate, you can check out the darker and bitter variant of chocolate chip cookie –‘Dark chocolate cookie’ produced as a separate recipe.

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