A chocolate chip cookie recipe

I am quite a fan of Australian cook Bill Granger's books. His chocolate chip cookies are a family favourite. If you make a double batch you can freeze the raw cookie dough so you have some more of these heavenly treats at the ready when unexpected visitors arrive. You can cook the raw cookie dough from frozen at the temperature and cooking times stated below. 

Bill Granger's Chocolate Chip Cookies

125g unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups tightly packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups plain (all purpose) flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups chocolate bits

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C (350 degrees F).
Place butter and sugar in a bowl and beat until light and creamy.
Add vanilla and egg and stir to combine.
Stir in the sifted flour, baking powder and salt until just combined.
Fold through chocolate chips.
Place spoonfuls of cookie mixture on a greased and lined baking tray, allowing room for spreading.
Cook for approx. 15-20 minutes until they turn pale gold.
Allow to cook on the tray for 5 minutes before placing biscuits on a wire rack to cool.
Makes 16.

Bill Granger, Bills Sydney Food, Murdoch Books: Sydney, 2000, p. 111.

Tarta de Santiago

Tarta de Santiago Cake on Zinnia Plate in CeladonTarta de Santiago would have to be my favourite almond-based, gluten free cake. It has a tender, citrus cake crumb and keeps extremely well, though I doubt it will bide much time on the kitchen table!

This recipe is by the celebrated cook, Claudia Roden, and can be found in her book “The Food of Spain: A Celebration," (Penguin, UK, 2012). I have substituted whole almonds (that required grinding) for ground almonds to save precious time. The cake is fêted in Southern Spain and has fascinating origins in religious traditions. Roden elucidates the cake’s origins as follows:

“This is a splendid cake which is normally made in a wide cake or tart tin and comes out low, but it is equally good as a thicker cake.
Pilgrims and tourists who visit the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, where the relics of the apostle Saint James are believed to be buried, see the cake in all the windows of every pastry shop and restaurant, decorated with the shape of the cross of the Order of Santiago. I have watched the cake being made in many sizes, big and small, over a pastry tart base at a bakery called Capri in Pontevedra. This deliciously moist and fragrant homely version is without a base.

When I suggested to a man associated with the Galicia tourist office that the tarta was a Jewish Passover cake, he dragged me to a television studio to explain all. The presenters liked the idea. The Galician city of A Coruña is on the Jewish tourist route. There is a synagogue and an old Jewish quarter there. Jews from Andalusia, fleeing the Berber Almohads' attempts to convert them, came to Galicia in the 12th and 13th centuries.”

Serves 10
250g ground almonds 
6 eggs, separated 
250g caster sugar 
grated zest of 1orange 
grated zest of 1 lemon 
4 drops almond extract 
butter to grease the cake tin 
flour (or cornflour for gf version) to dust the cake tin 
icing sugar for dusting the cake

Beat the egg yolks with the sugar to a pale cream with an electric mixer, then beat in the orange and lemon zest and almond extract. Add the ground almonds and mix very well.

With a cleaned mixer, whisk egg whites until stiff and fold into egg and almond mixture – the mixture is so thick you need to turn it over quite a bit into the egg whites. Grease a spring-form cake tin around 28cm in diameter (preferably non-stick) with butter and dust with flour or cornflour, then pour in the mixture.

Put the cake into an oven preheated to 180C/gas mark 4 for 40 minutes or until it feels firm. Let it cool before turning out. Dust the top with icing sugar. If you like, cut the shape of a Santiago cross out of paper and place it in the middle of the cake before dusting with icing sugar. Then remove the paper shape.

Lemon Curd Madeleines

I make these lemon curd madeleines all the time. If you prepare the lemon curd in advance they are very quick and easy to make. If you can, serve them warm, while the centre is still gooey and unctuous. Dust with a light shower of icing sugar after plating on a pretty plate (in the image I have used a Bebe Oval Scalloped Platter in powder pink. A perfect morning or afternoon tea party treat. Individual servings look lovely on small plates in butter, french vanilla and golden syrup.

Lemon Curd Madeleines

This recipe has been adapted from one I discovered in Michel Roux Jr's Le Gavroche Cookbook, published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London, 2003. It is the best madeleine recipe I have come across in my extensive searches to date!
Makes approx. 12 small madeleines of 9 large ones.

2 eggs
1/4 cup caster sugar
grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
60 grams unsalted butter, melted
approx. 1/2 cup lemon curd

Lightly beat the eggs with the sugar, and zest and juice of 1 lemon. Fold in the sifted flour and baking powder, then the melted butter: do not overwork. Let rest for 1 hour.
Heat the oven to 210 degrees Celsius (yes I know, that is hot!) Butter and flour the madeleine trays or use silcone moulds (these do not need any preparation just put the mixture straight in them). Using a tablespoon, three-quarters fill each mould. Cook small madeleines for approx. 7-8 minutes for smaller madeleines (depending on your oven) or 10 minutes for larger ones: do not overcook as they should remain moist.

As soon as they are cooked tip the madeleines out of the moulds and place on a wire rack. At this stage you can use a piping bag or a syringe to fill each madeline with one teaspoon of lemon curd (or, if you don't have this equipment you can add a teaspoon of lemon curd on top on the madeline mixture and top with more mixture to cover prior to baking them.

Lemon Curd (makes approximately 2 cups)

4 very juicy lemons 
125 grams butter
2 cups sugar
4 eggs, beaten

Zest the lemons and set aside. Squeeze the lemons and strain the juice. Melt the butter in the top of a double boiler. Stir in sugar and lemon juice until sugar is dissolved. Add eggs and lemon rind. Place over boiling water and cook, stirring all the time until mixture thickens (this can take about 25-30 minutes). Pour into sterilised jars. Store in the fridge.
Recipe from The Edmonds Cookery Book, Hodder, Moa Beckett, Auckland, 1998.

A recipe just in time for Christmas!

Here is one of my favourite chocolate cake recipes from the River Café Cook Book Easy by Ruth Rogers and Rose Gray (Ebury Press, 2008). It is cooked in a water bath, producing a silken texture that is heaven-sent! It will serve at least 10 people and is very rich so small portions are recommended. I serve the cake on one of my large lilac Zinnia plates and pepper it with edible flowers such as pansies.

Easy small nemesis

340g excellent quality chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids)

225g Unsalted butter

5 large eggs

210 grams Caster sugar

Preheat oven to 120 degrees celcius.

Using extra butter, grease a 25cm cake tin, and line with baking paper.

Break the chocolate into pieces an melt with the butter in a bowl over simmering water. Beat the eggs and 70 grams of the sugar in an electric mixer until the volume quadruples.

Heat the remaining sugar with 100ml water until dissolved into a light syrup. Pour the hot syrup into the melted chocolate and cool slightly.

Add the chocolate to the eggs, and beat slowly until the mixture is combined. Pour into the tin.

Put a folded tea towel in the bottom of a roasting dish or a high-sided baking tray. Put in the cake and add enough hot water to come three-quarters of the way up the side of the tin.

Bake in the oven for approximately 70-90 minutes until set (it should have a slight wobble to it). Leave the cake to cool in the water. To get the cake out of the tin, briefly dip the tin in a basin of very hot/boiling water for a few seconds and then invert onto a beautiful plate! Decorate with edible flowers such as pansies. Cut the cake using a sharp knife dipped in hot water for a clean cut.