Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Coconut cake

Coconut cake / Bolo de coco com casquinha de açúcar

Make up: I’m no expert - mascara and lipstick are the only things I wear - but know how much different it makes. Not to mention make up in movies – there are fabulous and talented artists out there. Otherwise it would be impossible to transform the charming Gary Oldman into an old and ugly vampire... Especially after he showed up as a handsome 19th century gentleman (I had the biggest crush on him when that movie was released). :D

As for this cake, the “make up” – a.k.a., the icing - served as a cover up: I unmolded the cake after completely cooled and some of it got stuck in the bottom of the pan. :(

Even though the icing came in handy here, I found this cake so tender and delicious that it should be served with nothing more than a sprinkling of icing sugar on top.

Coconut cake / Bolo de coco com casquinha de açúcar

Coconut cake
from Donna Hay magazine

250g butter, softened
275g sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 eggs
300g self-rising flour, sifted
80g unsweetened desiccated coconut
250ml milk

640g icing sugar, sifted
80ml (1/3 cup) boiling water*

Preheat the oven to 160ºC/320ºF; Grease really well a 10-cup capacity bundt or ring pan.

Place the butter, sugar and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until light and creamy. Gradually add the eggs and beat well.
Add the flour, coconut and milk and beat until well combined. Spoon the mixture into prepared pan and bake for 1 hour or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely – don’t let the cake cool completely in the pan or it might stick.

For the icing, place the sugar and water in a bowl and whisk until smooth. Spoon the icing over the cake and allow to set.

* even though I added more water, my icing was a lot thicker than the one in the magazine, but ended up keeping it that way to cover up the bruises on the cake

Serves 8-10 – I halved the recipe and used a 19cm (6-cup capacity) ring pan

Coconut cake / Bolo de coco com casquinha de açúcar

Monday, April 27, 2009

Peanut butter munchies

Peanut butter munchies / Cookies de chocolate recheados com manteiga de amendoim

What do you do when bored?

One of my saviors is the Internet: I read about music, movies and, of course, food. I’ve found several great recipes online in the most boring times. A great source is ____ and its many galleries full of delicious food.

UPDATE: I got an email from bhg proposing a link exchange. Since they did fulfill their part of the deal, I've removed all the links.

I got the recipe for these peanut butter filled cookies and no longer felt bored. :D

Peanut butter munchies / Cookies de chocolate recheados com manteiga de amendoim

Peanut butter munchies

Cookie dough:
1 ½ cups (210g) all-purpose flour
½ cup (45g) unsweetened cocoa powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
½ cup (113g) unsalted butter, softened
½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
½ cup (88g) packed brown sugar
¼ cup peanut butter
1 egg
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

¾ cup (105g) sifted powdered sugar
½ cup peanut butter*

For sprinkling:
1 tablespoon granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 180ºC/350ºF; line two large baking sheets with baking paper.

In a medium mixing bowl stir together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt; set aside.
In a large mixing bowl beat together butter, the granulated sugar, brown sugar, and the peanut butter with an electric mixer until combined. Add egg, milk, and vanilla; beat well. Beat in as much of the dry ingredients as you can with mixer. Stir in remaining dry ingredients by hand with a wooden spoon. Form chocolate dough into 32 balls about 3cm (1 ¼ in) in diameter. Set aside.

For peanut butter filling, in a medium mixing bowl combine powdered sugar and the peanut butter until smooth. Shape mixture into thirty two 2cm (about 3/4-in) balls.

On the palm of your hand, slightly flatten a chocolate dough ball and top with a peanut butter ball. Shape the chocolate dough over the peanut butter filling, completely covering the filling. Roll dough into a ball. Repeat with the remaining chocolate dough and peanut butter filling balls.
Place balls 5cm (2in) apart on prepared baking sheets. Lightly flatten with the bottom of each cookie with the palm of your hand dipped in the granulated sugar.
Bake cookies in preheated oven for 8 minutes or until they're just set and surface is slightly cracked – mine needed 11 minutes.
Let cookies stand for 1 minute. Transfer cookies to wire racks; cool.

To store: place in layers separated by waxed paper in an airtight container; cover. Store at room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

* I had to add 1 tablespoon milk for the dough to become smooth (it was too grainy)

Makes 32 – I got 37

Peanut butter munchies / Cookies de chocolate recheados com manteiga de amendoim

Friday, April 24, 2009

Candied orange sugar cookies

Candied orange sugar cookies / Biscoitinhos com casca de laranja em calda

Taste is very a personal thing – thank heavens! – and that sometimes results in funny/curious things: I love UB40, even though I can’t stand reggae music; the smell of coffee is one of my favorite smells in the world, but I don’t drink it (don’t like its flavor). My friend, for instance, doesn’t like candied citrus peel but she adored these cookies. :D

Don’t be intimidated by making your own candied orange peel – it’s not difficult; you just need a sharp knife and an extra dose of patience.

Candied orange sugar cookies / Biscoitinhos com casca de laranja em calda

Candied orange sugar cookies
from Food & Wine magazine

1 cup (226g/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup (200g) sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups (280g) all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons julienned candied orange peel (recipe follows)

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter until creamy. Add ¾ cup (150g) of the sugar and beat at medium speed until fluffy. Beat in the egg yolk and vanilla. At low speed, beat in the flour and salt. Gather the dough into a ball and shape it into 2 logs, each about 1 ½ inches (3.75cm) in diameter. Roll the logs in the remaining ¼ cup (50g) of sugar*. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF; line two large baking sheets with baking paper.
Using a thin, sharp knife, slice the logs ¼ inch (0.6cm) thick. Arrange the slices on prepared sheets and press a few slivers of candied orange peel in the center of each. Bake the cookies on the upper and lower racks of the oven for about 22 minutes, until golden around the edges and on the bottom; shift the pans from front to back and top to bottom halfway through baking - I preferred to bake one sheet at a time. Let the cookies cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheets, then transfer them to wire racks to cool completely.

The cookie dough can be frozen for up to 1 month. The baked cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

* the dough was too sticky to be rolled in sugar so I just sprinkled it around the baking paper and shaped the dough into a log, sprinkling a little extra over the log before wrapping it – I ended up using less than ¼ cup sugar.

Makes 4 dozen cookies – I halved the recipe and got 28

Candied orange peel
from The Perfect Scoop

4 large oranges, preferably unsprayed
2 cups (480ml) water
1 cup (200g) sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
pinch of salt

With a vegetable peeler, remove strips of peel 1 inch (2.5cm) wide from the oranges, cutting lengthwise down the fruit. Remove just the colorful outer peel, leaving behind the bitter white pith. using a very sharp knife, slice the peel lengthwise into very thin strips no wider than a toothpick.
Put the strips of peel in a small, nonreactive saucepan, add enough water to cover them by a few inches and bring to a boil. Reduce to a gentle boil and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat, strain the peel and rinse with fresh water.
Combine the 2 cups water, sugar, corn syrup and salt in the saucepan. Fit the pan with a candy thermometer and bring to a boil. Add the blanched peel, reduce the heat and cook at a very low boil for about 25 minutes, until the thermometer reads 110ºC/230ºF. Turn off the heat and let the peel cool in the syrup.
Once cool, lift the peel out of the syrup with a fork, letting the syrup drain away – some of the peel got stuck in the bottom of the pan and I could remove them by quickly reheating the syrup.
Place the strips separately, side by side, on a large baking sheet lined with baking paper and let them dry overnight – if you won’t use all the peel, leave them in the syrup and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.

Makes about 1 cup (200g drained)

Candied orange sugar cookies / Biscoitinhos com casca de laranja em calda

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Little couscous cakes

Little couscous cakes

I sometimes get the weirdest looks for saying this, but it’s true: I love the cold. To me, cold days are perfect for staying in, baking, watching TV under the covers... So good!

My mom was from Santa Catarina – in the South of Brazil - and I spent many vacations there as a little girl. My favorite time of the year there was in the middle of the winter, in July – my aunts used to prepare delicious treats and (very) hot chocolate for me and my brother. Some days were so freezing that my mom did not let us play outside, but I didn’t mind: I loved writing and playing school with my imaginary “students” – I was always the teacher, of course. :D

I saw these cakes and they screamed “fall” – perfect to celebrate my second favorite season.

Little couscous cakes

Little couscous cakes
from Little Cafe Cakes

¼ cup (60ml) rum or brandy
½ cup (120ml) olive oil
finely grated zest and juice of 2 oranges
1 cup (180g) couscous
2 eggs
¾ cup (150g) sugar
½ cup (70g) flour, sifted
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup (82g) dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 170ºC/338ºF. Grease and flour 12 individual cake or muffin pans or one 20cm springform pan.

In a saucepan heat rum or brandy with oil, orange zest and juice. Place couscous in a bowl and pour over hot liquid. Cover with plastic wrap and leave to steam for 10 minutes. Uncover and fluff up couscous with a fork.

Whisk eggs and sugar together until thick and pale. Stir this mixture into couscous along with remaining dry ingredients and cranberries.
Spoon into prepared pans and bake for 15 minutes or until cakes spring back when touched.

Makes 12 – I halved the recipe and got 9 (my pans hold 1/3 cup batter each)

Little couscous cakes

Friday, April 17, 2009

Dutch caramel cashew cookies

Dutch caramel cashew cookies / Cookies com praliné de castanha de caju

I have 5 very special cousins that I deeply love – they are like sisters to me. I grew up spending vacations and holidays with them and I’ll never be able to thank them enough for all their love and support.

One of them worked in a music store for a while and gave me one of the most wonderful gifts I’ve ever received: Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors” - I was 9 and wanted it so bad... Getting it was such joy and to this day I remember when Lilia gave me that cassette – I played it so many times I wonder how it did not break. :D

My other cousins spoiled me a lot, too, but, to be honest, I get more presents now than I used to; everyday, when I access my email, there are several gifts waiting for me: messages and comments left by you - they really make my day.

One of my readers – her name is Patricia, too - wrote to me commenting about a certain caramel cookie she is crazy about. That inspired me and I felt like baking caramel cookies. I used this recipe – the making of the cookies was a little confusing, so I was saved by Judy’s post.

Dutch caramel cashew cookies / Cookies com praliné de castanha de caju

Dutch caramel cashew cookies

½ cup (100g) sugar
2 tablespoons water
pinch of cream of tartar
½ cup (75g) finely chopped roasted, salted cashews

½ cup (1 stick/113g) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup (67g) sugar
1 egg yolk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (140g) all purpose flour

Start with the cashew praline: Place a large piece of foil over a baking sheet, butter it and set aside.
In a heavy skillet cook the sugar with the water and cream of tartar over moderately high heat, washing down any undissolved sugar that clings to the sides of the skillet with a brush dipped in cold water, until the mixture is a light caramel. Stir in quickly the finely chopped raw cashews. Pour the praline onto the prepared foil and with a buttered spatula spread it into a thin layer. Let it cool until it hardens and chop it coarsely.

Now, the cookie dough: preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF; line two large baking sheets with baking paper and set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter with the sugar until it is creamy. Beat in the egg yolk and vanilla. Stir in flour and the chopped praline.
Roll a rounded ½ tablespoon of dough into a ball and place onto prepared sheets 5cm (2in) apart. Lightly flatten the top of each cookie with moistened fingertips.
Bake cookies for 12 to 15 minutes, or until they are lightly browned in the bottom – mine needed 18 minutes.
Let the cookies cool on the sheet for about 1 minute and with a spatula remove them to a rack to cool completely.

Makes about 25 cookies

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Chocolate cinnamon madeleines

Chocolate cinnamon madeleines / Madeleines de chocolate e canela

Before today’s recipe, there’s someone I need to thank: Juliana, a dear reader of my blog in Portuguese. A small article about my blog was published in a Brazilian airline magazine and she was kind enough to keep a copy for me. Thank you, Ju!

I’ve told you I’m terrified of horror movies and that hasn’t changed. But I guess I’ll have to make an exception, even though the trailer alone has scared the bejeesus out of me: I absolutely love Willem Dafoe and will pretty much watch everything he’s on. He’s part of several favorites of mine and the only reason why I watched “Spiderman” until the end - just can’t resist him. :D

I cannot resist making madeleines as well – this time I used one of Helen’s recipes and just added a touch of cinnamon.

Chocolate cinnamon madeleines / Madeleines de chocolate e canela

Chocolate cinnamon madeleines

2 eggs
½ cup + 1 tablespoon (80g) all purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons (15g) cocoa
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons (80g) sugar
80g unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 220ºC/425ºF.
Melt the butter in the microwave or over low heat. Let cool slightly.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and cocoa; add the sugar. Separate the egg yolks from the whites. Add the yolks to the flour/cocoa mixture and whisk with a spatula. Break the egg whites with a fork, without making them foam. Add them to the flour/cocoa/egg mixture. Add the melted butter and whisk vigorously to incorporate everything.
Butter madeleine molds and fill them halfway through with batter.
Bake at 220ºC/425ºF for 4 minutes, the turn the oven down to 190ºC/375ºF and bake for another 4 minutes. Let cool slightly and unmold – do it while they are still warm otherwise they might stick to the pan.
Repeat with the remaining batter.

Makes 16 cookies – I got 20 using molds that hold 1 tablespoon of dough

Monday, April 13, 2009

Lavender and white chocolate mini pavlovas

Lavender and white chocolate mini pavlovas / Mini pavlovas de lavanda e chocolate branco

Those around here in their 30s - like yours truly - probably remember Rick Astley: a thin, red haired guy that had a really powerful voice. It made me wonder how such a strong voice would come out of such a small person. For my younger audience – who must be thinking “what on earth is she talking about??” - Alex Band would be a similar example. :D

The lavender buds I used in this recipe are just the same: teeny tiny, but full of flavor.

Lavender and white chocolate mini pavlovas

Lavender and white chocolate mini pavlovas
own creation, based on a recipe from Donna Hay magazine

1/3 cup (80ml) egg whites
½ cup (100g) caster sugar
½ teaspoon edible dried lavender
1 tablespoon corn starch, sifted
1 teaspoon white vinegar
¾ cup (180ml) whipping cream
50g white chocolate shavings
lavender buds, to decorate

Preheat the oven to 150ºC/300ºF. Line a large baking sheet with non-stick baking paper (I used regular). Trace six 8cm rounds on one side of it then turn the paper over.
Place the sugar and lavender in a small food processor and process for 15 seconds or until the lavender buds are coarsely ground. Sift the sugar into a bowl and discard the excess lavender.
Place the egg white in the bowl of an electric mixer and whisk until stiff peaks form – the bowl must be completely free of fat and/or water.
Gradually add the sugar, whisking well, until the mixture is stiff and glossy - rub a little of the mixture between your fingertips; when you no longer feel the sugar granules, the mixture is ready.
Add the corn starch, vinegar and whisk until just combined.
Divide the mixture into the traced circles.
Reduce oven to 120ºC/250ºF and bake for 35 minutes – mine baked for 45.
Turn the oven off and allow the pavlovas to cool completely in the oven – I did this overnight and, even though the pavlovas seemed to be too soft when I turned off the oven, there was a thin, hard layer outside them on the following morning.
Whisk the cream until firm peaks form. Place a layer of whipped cream over each meringue and top with chocolate shavings and a few lavender buds – they are kind of bitter so you might want to decorate your pavlovas some other way.

Makes 6

Lavender and white chocolate mini pavlovas

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Cinnamon ice cream

Cinnamon ice cream

Doing several things at the same time can be tricky – Dr. Manhattan knows that well. :D

I gathered the ingredients for this recipe while watching Nigella and talking on the phone - something got lost in between. I ended up using less cinnamon sticks than required but the ice cream still tasted wonderful - the cinnamon flavor is subtle but you can definitely feel it.

I had doubts about posting the recipe due to my mistake, but my best friend helped me make up my mind – she liked the ice cream so much I thought I should share it with you, too.

Cinnamon ice cream

Cinnamon ice cream
from The Perfect Scoop

1 cup (240ml) whole milk
¾ cup (150g) sugar
pinch of salt
four 3-inch (8cm) cinnamon sticks, broken up*
2 cups (480ml) heavy cream
5 large egg yolks

Warm the milk, sugar, salt, cinnamon sticks and 1 cup (240ml) of the cream in a medium saucepan. When it comes to a boil, cover, remove from the heat and let steep at room temperature for 1 hour – mine steeped for almost 2 hours.
Rewarm the cinnamon-infused milk mixture; pour the remaining 1 cup cream into a large bowl and set a mesh strainer on top.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm mixture into the yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.
Stir the mixture constantly over medium-low hear with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula – do not let it boil.
Pour the custard through the strainer into the cream and discard the cinnamon sticks. Set aside to cool then refrigerate for at least 5 hours.
Freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

* the original recipe calls for 10 sticks, but I got distracted and used only 4; since they were strong (the Fauchon cinnamon sticks I got from my friend Clarice) the cinnamon flavor was subtle, but noticeable.

Makes 1 quart (1 liter)

Monday, April 6, 2009

White chocolate lime cookies

White chocolate lime cookies

Remember when I told you I’d watched “Zodiac”? After returning it to the video store, I decided to get two more movies. I was in a hurry and did not think much – sort of grabbed whatever was in front of me, because those were movies I’d been dying to see for ages. Do you know what I got? “Blindness” and “Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind”. Yes, my friends - three movies with Mark Ruffalo in just one week.

Sometimes I get stuck with something and my mind has a hard time letting go. That’s why I give you the combo lime + white chocolate again – this time, in cookie form.

White chocolate lime cookies

White chocolate lime cookies
from here

1 cup (226g) unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup (150g) sugar
¾ cup (130g) light brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 ½ teaspoons lime juice
1 tablespoon lime zest
2 ½ cups (350g) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
336g (12oz) white chocolate chips/chunks

Preheat oven to 180ºC/350ºF; line two large baking sheets with parchment/baking paper.

In a large mixing bowl using a stand mixer, beat sugar, brown sugar and butter until combined but not fluffy.
Add eggs one, at a time, then add vanilla, lime juice and lime zest. Mix to combine.
Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Mix into creamed mixture until just combined. Fold in the white chocolate chips/chunks.

Shape the dough into 2.5cm (1 inch) balls and place 5cm (2 in) apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the edges are golden and the centers are just set – mine needed 15 minutes.
Allow to sit on the pan for three minutes before moving to wire racks.

Makes 5 dozen cookies – I halved the recipe, dropped ½ rounded tablespoon of dough onto sheets (dough was too soft to be rolled into balls) and got 33 cookies

White chocolate lime cookies

Friday, April 3, 2009

Pistachio brigadeiro

Pistachio brigadeiro

As most of you know, I’m a huge movie fan – hence the name I chose for my blog. But I also love reading, even though these days I don’t read as much as I used to.

Unlike many people, one thing I don’t stress about is when books become movies – to me, it’s very clear that they are two completely different means of communication and one can never be exactly like the other. The book author has one point of view that may not be shared by the screenwriter and the director. It’s someone’s version about someone else’s work – it will never be the same but that doesn’t have to be something bad: I had tears in my eyes this morning after watching Jose Saramago’s reaction to Fernando Meirelles’ take on “Blindness”.

Now I give you my take on Brazilian chef Morena Leite’s pistachio brigadeiro – it is not exactly like hers, but still delicious.

Pistachio brigadeiro

Pistachio brigadeiro

100g unsalted, shelled pistachios
1 can (395g) sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon unsalted butter + a bit extra for buttering the plate

Butter a large plate and set aside.
Place the pistachios in a food processor and grind until it resembles wet sand.
Mix the condensed milk, butter and ground pistachios in a saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly – when the bottom of the pan starts to show and the mixture is a bit thicker, remove from heat and immediately pour into the prepared plate. Set aside to cool completely.
To serve, place 2.5cm (1 inch) portions into individual serving spoons or roll into balls and place in a serving dish.

Serves 10-12

Pistachio brigadeiro

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Sugared apple galette

Sugared apple galette

A long time ago I posted a list of my top 5 favorite songs. I had a hard time choosing them – one huge problem was picking only one song by The Smiths. Other songs I deeply love were left out of the list but that’s OK – I knew I would regret it minutes after writing it. :D

There’s one song, though, that could not be included on that list – it’s so beautiful, perfect and magical that it belongs in the Music Olympus and should never be mixed with nor compared to with other songs. “Bohemian Rhapsody” is simply the best song ever created. Period.

The same happens with my favorite recipe websites – they are wonderful and I adore them all, but Australian Gourmet Traveller is my #1. It’s where I got this recipe from.

Sugared apple galette

Sugared apple galette
slightly adapted from Australian Gourmet Traveller

Brioche base:
2 ¼ teaspoons (1 envelope/7g) dried yeast
30g caster sugar
80ml (1/3 cup) lukewarm milk
330g plain flour
finely grated zest of 2 limes
1 egg and 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten together, at room temperature
2 tablespoons brandy
120g unsalted butter, softened

Sugar apple top:
80g Greek-style thick yogurt
60g unsalted butter, stored in the freezer for ½ hour
80g caster sugar
finely grated zest of 1 lime
2 Granny Smith apples, cored and deseeded, very thinly sliced

For dusting:
pure icing sugar

For brioche base, combine yeast, a pinch of the caster sugar and warm milk in a bowl, stir to dissolve yeast, then set aside in a warm place until foamy (2-3 minutes). Meanwhile, combine flour, lime zest and remaining sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook and mix to combine. With mixer on low speed, add yeast mixture, egg mixture and brandy and mix to combine. Add butter a little at a time and beat until smooth and glossy (4-5 minutes).

Transfer to a buttered bowl, turn to coat and cover with plastic wrap. Stand in a warm place until double in size (1½-2 hours).
Preheat oven to 200ºC/400ºF.

Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll out to a 30cm-diameter circle. Line a buttered 27cm-diameter fluted tart pan* with the dough, rolling edges in and pleating as you go, and prick within border with a fork.
For sugar apple top, spread yogurt over brioche dough within border. Coarsely grate butter and scatter two thirds over yogurt. Combine sugar and lime zest in a small bowl, scatter two thirds of the sugar mixture over butter. Layer apple over sugar mixture, overlapping slices, then scatter with remaining butter and sugar mixture.
Bake until golden and cooked through (15-20 minutes), dust edges with icing sugar and serve immediately.

* I used a 24cm pan

Serves 6

Sugared apple galette

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