White chocolate and macadamia cookies

More is more. More is better.

There are some times in life when less is more. Like with Justin Bieber. But generally speaking, I err on the side of more.

Let’s think about white chocolate and macadamia cookies, sure, that’s good. But now let’s think about white chocolate and macadamia and coconut AND oat cookies? Better.

You know what I don’t get? The four Ingredients or less phenomenon. I get especially mad when one of those ingredients is a jar of korma sauce. That’s not an ingredient. That’s a jar of korma sauce.

It’s not that I think simplicity is bad. Home cooking is good cooking. (My the view is nice from up here on my soap box.) The books annoy me because I like to put A LOT of ingredients in. And I don’t like it when people actively encourage others to put less in.

So when a girlfriend gave me her mum’s recipe for white chocolate and macadamia cookie with LOTS of stuff in. I knew it was going on the blog.

Rant over.

Cookie time.

Waiting to be cooked.

Ingredients
125 grams butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 egg
1 cup plain flour
1/2 cup SR flour
1 cup macadamia nuts (about 100 grams), chopped
1 cup coconut
3/4 cups oats
1 cup (200 grams) white chocolate chips

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 200C, line a couple of baking trays with baking paper.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar with electric beaters in a large bowl. Or, soften the butter in the microwave (on defrost!) then beat them together by hand with a whisk if you don’t have beaters. Mix in the vanilla essence and gradually add the egg, beating well.
  3. Add both types of flour, your chopped macadamias, coconut, oats and chocolate chips. Fold in to the batter until well combined. You’re not really in danger of over mixing them, so make sure you get all those flour pockets out. The mixture will look quite crumbly.
  4. Roll into balls, then squish them in your hand or with a fork when they’re on the tray. These cookies don’t spread so you need to help them out during this phase.
  5. Bake for 10 minutes, turning the tray around half way through. They’re done when the bottom of them is just turning brown. They’re nice soft, so don’t overcook. Cool on a wire rack.

Makes: 30 cookies

Healthy? 170 calories a cookie.

Gluten free? No, I haven’t tried with this recipe.

Storage: In an airtight container. Then take them to work and win friends.

Source: My friend’s mum.

Chocolate carrot muffins

Pop quiz time!

Would you like:

a) Some dark chocolate
b) A carrot
c) All of the above

If you answered c, then boy do I have a muffin for you!

Before…(well kind of, you use grated carrot, but it wasn’t as pretty to get my point across)

After! (like magic)

These are SUPER moist and dense. You can thank the all the carroty/oaty goodness for their texture. Plus they have vitamin D.

At 140 calories a muffin, these are also one of the healthiest muffins around. Especially as most sweet things this low in calories would contain some god-awful sweetening agent. And you can taste that stuff. Word.

Ingredients
1 cup raw oatmeal or quick oats
1 cup low-fat milk
3/4 cup flour / rice flour or a gluten-free alternative
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons of cocoa powder
2 eggs
1 cup grated carrot
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup (about 100 grams) of dark chocolate chips

Note: I cut up some of a block of dark cooking chocolate for the chocolate chips, the recipe tends to lend itself to the rough kind of chocolate chips you get by doing it that way.

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180 C. Grease a 12 cup muffin tin or line with patty cases and spray with cooking oil.
  2. Soak the oatmeal/oats in the milk while preparing the rest of the ingredients.
  3. Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and cocoa powder together, then add the rest of the ingredients, including oats/oatmeal (don’t over mix!).
  4. Spoon into the prepared muffin tin and bake for 12-15 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean and they bounce back to touch. Cool on wire rack. Makes 12.

Healthy? 140 calories a muffin.

Gluten free: I have made these with rice flour and they work really well. No one even noticed. This muffin is moist enough to handle GF flour well. Make sure your oats are GF too.

Storage: They freeze well, otherwise best eaten within a couple of days. Store in airtight container.

Healthy spinach and feta muffins

Healthy is a namby pamby word. What is that all about? These muffins are healthy, but totally accidentally, because you’d never think so. I am healthy (because I say so), but am eating trifle straight out of the bowl as I write this.

So now we’re just arguing over semantics. Let’s not argue.

I joined a gym when I first moved to London and the next day I used my break clause to quit that same gym. It smelt, and quite frankly, I thought the money could be better spent.

So I made a deal with myself. I would always walk up and down the escalators at tube stations and then we (‘we’ being me and my alter ego) could use the spare money to go on more holidays! Yay! Total win-win.

For those of you who also think gyms smell, this recipe might come in handy. It might be because it’s made with water instead of butter, but at 120 calories, it’s a great snack. It’s healthy.

How is it still healthy with three different types of cheese? Because I say so.

So let’s not argue, let’s do this instead:

Take a cup of baby spinach and 100 grams of feta

Show the spinach who’s boss. Chop it good.

Put the rest of your ingredients in a bowl. Not too fancy. Just chuck it all in.

Spoon in to your trusty muffin tin. Top with parmesan.

Be healthy.

Ingredients
1 egg
1 cup water
2 cups self-raising flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
100 grams low-fat feta cheese, crumbled or cut into 1cm cubes
1 cup of finely chopped baby spinach
2/3 cup low-fat grated cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, to top muffins

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180 C. Grease a 12 cup muffin tin or line with patty cases and spray with cooking oil.
  2. Mix all ingredients together except parmesan. It will be very solid.
  3. Spoon into prepared muffin tins and sprinkle with parmesan
  4. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until muffins are golden. Makes 12.

Healthy? 120 calories. So yea.

Gluten free? Swap out the flour for a GF alternative and these work well.

Storage: They freeze well, otherwise best eaten within a couple of days. Store in an airtight container.

Source: modified from the Muffin Bible spinach and feta muffins.

Cherry ripe slice

Like all good stories, we should start at the beginning:

1. Cherry ripe bars (not the slice below, I’m talking about an actual chocolate bar here) are Australia’s oldest chocolate bar. It’s not hard to be the oldest thing of anything in Australia, but when something is, we respect that.

Word.

2. Cadbury, the makers of the bar, describe it as “… ripe juicy cherries and moist coconut smothered in rich Old Gold dark chocolate …”

3. What the marketing team doesn’t mention is you can’t get them in London. This is a problem for me.

This recipe was printed in the The Guardian Weekend newspaper. so armed with three packets of glace cherries, I gave it a shot. It’s delicious. So good. I took it to a BBQ and another couple of Australians there said the taste was just the same as the chocolate bars.

Next time I make it though, I’m going to half the base. I’m more about the chocolate and the cherries. But other taste testers at the above BBQ liked the base as is. I’ll post an update once I try it.

Before I launch in to the recipe I would like to issue a challenge:

You can either chop up the cherries needed for this recipe by hand or use a food processor. If you have a child under 10 (who you trust with a knife) I think you should let them chop the cherries. Then email me at  a picture of the resulting cherries/child combo at clevermuffin@gmail.com. I promise to post it. *hehe*

Ingredients: Base
1 1/3 cups plain flour
2 tablespoons cocoa
½ cup caster sugar
½ teaspoon baking powder
100 grams butter, softened
¼ cup cold milk

Ingredients: Cherry filling
600 grams glace cherries
125 grams sweetened condensed milk
1 ¾ cups desiccated coconut
2 teaspoons vanilla essence

Ingredients: Chocolate topping
250 grams dark chocolate
4 teaspoons olive oil

Method: Base
1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees (160C fan-assisted, 350F, gas mark 4).
2. Take a 18cm square cake tin, preferably one with a removable base, and line bottom with baking paper. Spray with cooking oil for good measure.
3. Put the flour, cocoa, sugar and baking powder in a bowl and rub in the butter until it’s worked through and all the lumps have gone.
4. Add the milk and mix to a soft, even dough.
5. Press firmly and evenly into the base of your prepared tin.
6. Set to bake for 15-20 minutes, or until set and dry on top. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

Method: Cherry filling
1. Put 400 grams of glace cherries in a food processor to mince very finely. I did start this process by hand (see above) which is possible with a bit of patience. But very sticky. I then borrowed a food processor from my neighbour. Much quicker.
2. Mix in the sweetened condensed milk, coconut and vanilla until you have a smooth, pink paste.
3. Cut the remaining cherries in half, stir through, then spread evenly over your cooling base (doesn’t matter if it’s not completely cool).
Warning: even through the base has been cooling and the sides are cool, the bottom is still piping hot, don’t try and pick it up with your bare hands to put it back in the oven (guess how I learnt that lesson).
4. Bake at the same temperature for a further 25 minutes or until it starts to go golden on top.
5. Refrigerate until the slice is cold – about two to three hours.

Method: Chocolate topping
1. Place the chocolate and oil in a saucepan over low heat and stir until melted.
2. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
3. Spread over the slice.
4. Refrigerate until firm.
5. Cut with a heated knife. This will take a bit of muscle. I had two tall cups full of boiling water to assist with the process.

But it’s worth it. Oh, it’s so worth it.

Cut in to 2cm squares, this makes 30.

Healthy? It’s no fruit salad love. 200 calories per slice.

Gluten free? The base is not. The GF recipes I have seen just substitute the flour with GF flour, but I haven’t tried it. With all the butter and sugar, I think it would be fine and bind well enough. Or, you could do something like:

Gluten free alternate for base
Ingredients
170 grams digestive type GF biscuits from the supermarket, crushed
60 grams butter, melted
2 tablespoons cocoa

Method
Combine the digestive biscuits, butter and cocoa together. Press firmly into the base of the tin. No need to cook it for this method. Then just add the cheery mixture on top and keep going as above.

Storage: In an airtight container.

Source: Modified from The Guardian Weekend “How to bake: cherry ripe bars” by Dan Lepard p. 63. 18 July 2011.

Perfect chelsea butter buns…guest post

These chelsea butter buns are PERFECT!!! They are the best perfectly perfect fabulous awesome loveliness (running out of adjectives). I know this because I didn’t make them. Megan did. Megan, who needs no introduction after sharing her lovely soups and savoury muffins previously.

Here’s her fabulous how-to guide for Chelsea butter buns – old school style with pink icing, coz it tastes better than way. Perfect! Take it away megs:
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I have been meaning to make these for weeks, ever since Aimee and I visited this amazing little cafe in Soho in London, where we shared this amazing Chelsea butter bun.

When I came back to Melbourne, I dragged out my copy of the Women’s Weekly ‘How to Cook Absolutely Everything’ book and sure enough, there was a recipe in there for these delicious little buns!

So this weekend, I attempted to make them. I followed the recipe below verbatim, but found you could definitely cut the butter ratio to around 100 grams, brown sugar to about ½ a cup and even the currants to about 1 ½ cups.

It goes a little something like this:

Cut them up, nice are carefully.

Line them up on your greased tray. Then cook them!

ice ’em. eat ’em. (say hello to the chelsea butter bun official tester. tough life for some!)

Here’s the recipe!

Ingredients
1 tablespoon of dried yeast
1 tablespoon caster sugar
4 cups plain flour
1 ½ cups warm milk
2 cups  (320g) dried currents (see notes above, I would use 1 ½ next time, you can also use a selection of dried fruit)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 egg
125g butter, melted
2/3 cup of firmly packed brown sugar

Icing
1 cup icing sugar
1 tablespoon milk
pink food colouring

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to moderately hot (200°C/180°C fan forced).
  2. Combine yeast, 1 teaspoon of the flour and milk in small bowl, cover, stand in warm place for about 10 minutes or until mixture is frothy.
  3. Place currants in small saucepan, cover with water, bring to boil. Remove from heat, cover, cool for 15 minutes. Drain currents well, combine in small bowl with rind and cinnamon.
  4. Whisk egg into yeast mixture. Sift remaining flour into a large bowl; stir in yeast mixture. Cover, stand in warm place for about 40 minutes or until dough has doubled in size. Use this time do the dishes you were meant to do last night, except you went to the pub instead.
  5. Knead dough on floured surface for about 3 minutes or until smooth. Roll dough into 30 cm x 40 cm rectangle. Brush with a quarter of the butter and sprinkle with a third of the brown sugar.
  6. Grease a deep 23cm square cake pan. Fold one end of the dough to come two-thirds of the way up the dough, fold over top third to cover first fold. Turn dough halfway around to have the open ends facing you. (see pics above)
  7. Roll dough into 30 cm x 40 cm rectangle. Repeat folding from Step 5, using the same amount of butter and brown sugar. Turn dough halfway round, roll into 30 cm x 40 cm rectangle. Brush dough with half the remaining butter, sprinkle with remaining brown sugar and the current mixture.
  8. Roll dough firmly from the long side like a Swiss roll (I’ve never made one of these, but I like to eat them!). Cut dough evenly into nine pieces, place buns, cut side up, in the greased pan. Sprinkle with the remaining caster sugar. Stand, uncovered in a warm spot for 20 minutes or until buns have risen slightly.
  9. Drizzle buns with remaining butter. Bake, uncovered for 5 minutes. Reduce temperature to moderate (180°C/160°C fan forced). Bake for a further 25 minutes or until golden brown.
  10. Meanwhile make icing. Use no more than one drop of food colouring, unless you like my psychedelic pink icing in the photos above, in that case use 3-4 drops.
  11. Turn buns onto wire rack, drizzle a little icing onto each bun, cool.
  12. To make icing: Sift icing sugar into small bowl, stir in enough milk to form a thin, smooth paste. Tint with food colouring.

Healthy? 16.9g total fat (10.4 saturated), 2788kj (667 cal), 112g carbohydrates, 13g protein, 5.0g fibre. I would actually have an ambulance on standby for when you go into a diabetic coma from too much sugar.

Gluten free? Not this recipe.

Storage? Web searches say you can freeze them. I’ll give it a go and report back.