Christmas and Chocolate: A match made in Heaven

Christmas Brownies

This week I have been really busy trying to get everything done before Christmas. You know that time of year where you are trying to do all your day to day things, but also trying to buy Christmas presents and organize yourself? I mean I love buying presents for others, but it does take up a lot of time because I take so much pride in when I give to people. Plus, I’m also trying to work out all of my Christmas baking, which is an entirely different undertaking! My sister reminded me that I don’t need to bake for people, especially when it comes to making gingerbread houses! But the truth is I just love doing it, especially because it is such a personal gift! So I guess it isn’t really a question that I’m going to be spending a lot of time in the kitchen gearing up to Christmas. And why wouldn’t you want to me? I mean I know it is really hot, being summer here, and sometimes the oven is a bit much, but there’s just something so awesome about Christmas baking. As you know I love the flavours, but its more the variety of baking there is to do. Everyone loves a good Christmas recipe, and there is the volume of recipes online to match! So I figured it was about time I started testing some out for potential contenders for my Christmas presents.

Christmas Brownies

I have had this recipe sitting around for a while and it caught my eye as one to give a try this week because it combines two of my great loves: Christmas and chocolate. Who doesn’t love a good brownie, especially one where when you bite into it you get delicious Christmas flavours! I figured that there was no time like the present to try this one out and see how it went. I had all the ingredients on hand, along with some Lindt chocolate, so I figured I could put it to good use and upgrade it beyond its chocolate bar origins. It was funny because it’s been so hot in Brisbane lately that I didn’t even need to melt my chocolate, it was already melted for me thanks to sitting out all day!

Christmas Brownies

I have to admit, when I looked at the actually directions for this recipe, I was a little skeptical. Part of the appeal of brownies for me is that they are so easy to make. You melt the chocolate and butter, add all the other ingredients, bake and then you are done! They have to be one of the easiest things to bake, and quickest to wash up (one bowl, one pan). But this recipe called for a lot more steps than what I would usually put into a brownie, as well as a lot more ingredients. I mean when I start having to whip things for a certain amount of time on a weeknight, sometimes I just cannot be bothered. I guess that is why I am always after quick and simple recipes, because sometimes you just want to be able to whip something up nice and easily, and have a finished product in under an hour. Is it too much to ask? But I told myself, even though I was feeling stressed and tired, that I needed to bite the bullet and try out this recipe. The promise of how delicious it would be at the end kept me going, and in the end it ended up making me feel a lot less stressed anyway!

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Don’t be disheartened by the slightly more complicated method in making these brownies, or how long they take to cook. Even though it seems a little more painful than a regular brownie, these were anything but regular brownies! The finished product I was a little skeptical of because they didn’t turn out like brownies I would normally make, but the finished product was absolutely delicious! These brownies are seriously good, so all that time in the kitchen is well worth it for the finished product! If you are after gooey, dense brownies with a perfect crunchy top and a little flavour twist, these are your brownies! So I urge you to not get frightened by the unusually large process behind these brownies, because they pack an amazing Christmas flavour and are well worth the extra effort.

Christmas Brownies

Christmas Brownies

Adapted From The Moon Blush Baker
Preparation Time 25 minutes
Cooking Time 45-55 minutes
Serves 16 brownies

Ingredients

·         175 grams of Unsalted Butter, cubed

·         125 grams of good quality Dark Chocolate, chopped up

·         275 grams of Caster Sugar

·         2 eggs

·         2 egg yolks

·         1 teaspoon of Vanilla Extract

·         100 grams of Plain Flour

·         1 teaspoon of Ground Ginger

·         1 teaspoon of Cinnamon

·         ¼ teaspoon of Ground Nutmeg

·         ½ teaspoon of All Spice

·         ¼ teaspoon Ground Cloves

·         ¼ teaspoon of Black Pepper

·         Pinch of Salt

·         ½ cup of Walnuts, roughly chopped

Method

1.       Preheat oven to 160 degrees Celsius. Line a baking tray with baking paper and set aside.

2.       In a medium heat proof bowl melt chocolate and butter together over a pot of simmering water. Continue to stir until combined and then remove from the heat. Set aside for 10 minutes.

3.       While chocolate is cooling, whisk eggs, yolks, vanilla extract and caster sugar with an electronic whisk until very light and fluffy. This took about 5 minutes for me, and once you’re finished set aside.

4.       In a small bowl, mix together the flour, spices, salt and pepper until combined, and set aside.

5.       Roughly fold the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture until completely combined. Ensure you scrape the bottom of the bowl to ensure the chocolate is fully mixed.

6.       Add the flour mixture to the rest of the batter and mix until completely combined. Add the walnuts and fold through to mix evenly.

7.       Pour the mixture into the tray and place in oven. Bake for 45-55 minutes. I left mine in for 53 minutes and they were still really gooey but had a delicious crunchy top.

8.       Allow to cool in the tin and then transfer to the fridge to cool overnight before cutting.

Christmas Brownies

Now I look at it, it really isn’t that bad at all. I think it’s just because brownies are normally a one bowl, simple recipe, and this is a little more complicated. But you will be rewarded for your efforts with these ones! I was surprised by how hard the top ended up being, and the brownies themselves deflated a lot while they cooled. But this ended up making the brownies really dense, which was amazing! I was surprised by how dense they ended up being giving how much the eggs and sugar were whipped. But that’s what I love about trying new recipes, they always surprise you.

Christmas Brownies

These brownies had a delicious hint of Christmas in every bite, as were perfectly spiced with those gingerbread sort of flavours that I love! I also think the walnuts really added something to the brownies, because it meant that they had a little extra crunch. They would make for the perfect gift for those special people in your life, or something to bring along to your Christmas party when you’re asked to bring a plate. They are sure to bring the festive cheer, and everyone loves chocolate!

Christmas Brownies

I took these brownies to work and they were a hit! Which is surprising, given how many of the girls in our office are on diets at the moment. Luckily I saved a couple at home for later because they were gone so quickly! I might need to share the love a little though, because I need to be able to fit into my bikini come Christmas time if this weather keeps up!

Christmas Brownies

Until next time, happy baking!

Ella xx

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I Like Muffin Tops and I Cannot Lie

Chocolate and Berry Muffins

This weekend I was having coffee with my boyfriend, and there were these amazing looking muffins on the counter. I am the biggest sucker for those muffins that you find in stores, you know the ridiculously huge ones with the giant muffin top? My favourite thing about them is the crunchy top mixed with the delicious, soft interior. I could happily leave the rest of the muffin once I’ve eaten the top off it. So when I saw these muffins, the only thing that stopped me wanting to buy one was that we had breakfast reservations. I was so surprised that I was able to stop myself, but I managed…just.

Chocolate and Berry Muffins

As I was drinking my coffee, longingly gazing at these amazing muffins, I started thinking about baking muffins, which is my classic response to seeing baked goods I can’t eat. For some reason, every time I bake muffins, they never get that huge, delicious, crusty muffin top on them. They always bake quite flat, and just don’t have the same texture. No matter how hard I try I can’t seem to replicate that bakery muffin that I am obsessed with. So when I was sitting in that café I started looking it up to see if other people were having the same problem. It turns out that they are, and a lot of the articles I read said that it was impossible to replicate it because of the ovens they use in bakeries being so different to those we use at home. This made me quite upset, because it seemed that I wasn’t going to be able to make my own delicious bakery muffins.

Chocolate and Berry Muffins

In comes my boyfriend. I told him what I was thinking about, and in classic construction manager style, he went to problem solving. He said surely it would either be something to do with the ingredients, or the oven temperature. He said perhaps if you started on a higher oven temperature, and then reduced the heat, it would probably cause the muffins to rise. He also said he was more than happy for me to test the muffins on him, if I wanted to try it that afternoon. Such a selfless boyfriend he is!

Chocolate and Berry Muffins

So I looked up a few more articles and found out that my boyfriend was on the right track! A couple of articles had mixed solutions, either to do with the flour content in the muffins, or to do with the heat – turning the oven up higher at the start for a few minutes and then reducing the heat for the remainder of the cook. So I figured to be safe that I would try a recipe that had both in it – a high flour content and the different cooking temperatures.

Chocolate and Berry Muffins

The best part about my spot of Sunday afternoon baking was that I did it at my boyfriend’s house, which meant I got to use his mother’s Kitchen Aid! Oh, my life would be complete if I had one of these, they are so amazing! I was so excited to use it and it made the baking so much more fun! I’m sure the novelty would wear off, but for now this is my ultimate Kitchen goal! Maybe one day I will be lucky enough to own one, although I am concerned that if I did I would be baking something every single day (a problem? I’m not so sure).

Chocolate and Berry Muffins

This recipe was quite simple to make, and really versatile. I let my boyfriend choose the flavours for the muffin (I did have to reign him in a little), and he chose to go down the chocolate and berry road. I love a good chocolate and berry muffin, especially when it’s still warm and the chocolate goes all gooey! However, if this isn’t your taste, you could definitely substitute the chocolate or the berries for something else! As long as the base mix stays the same the muffins should have the same result.

Chocolate and Berry Muffins

The muffins ended up rising a whole heap, and had the crunchiest top I have ever made on a muffin! They were absolutely delicious, so much so that I had to have two! I think they were best served warm, but they still tasted delicious cold. I just love that gooey, warm, muffin goodness that you get when they are fresh out of the oven, so maybe try one straight away and then save the rest for later, if you can make it that long!

Chocolate and Berry Muffins

Chocolate and Berry Muffins

Adapted From Little Sweet Baker
Preparation Time 15 minutes
Cooking Time 20 minutes
Serves 12 Muffins

Ingredients

·         2 and ½ cups of plain flour

·         1 tablespoon + 3 teaspoons of baking powder

·         ½ teaspoon of salt

·         ½ cup of unsalted butter, melted in the microwave and cooled

·         1 cup of caster sugar

·         2 large eggs

·         1 cup of milk (I used Zymil and this seemed to be fine)

·         1 tablespoon of vanilla extract

·         1 cup of chocolate chips (I used a mixture of white chocolate and dark chocolate to get different flavours into the muffins, but entirely up to you what you use)

·         ½ cup of frozen mixed berries

Method

1.      Preheat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius (425 Fahrenheit) and line a 12-cup muffin tray with muffin liners.

2.      In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, salt and chocolate chips. Whisk to combine, and set aside.

3.      In a medium bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the melted butter, sugar, eggs, milk and vanilla until combined and light.

4.      In batches, slowly add in the dry ingredients to the mix, until the entire mixture is just combined. Once it has come together, fold in the frozen berries until they are evenly distributed.

5.      Divide the batter into the 12 muffin liners evenly.

6.      Bake in the oven for 5 minutes on 220 degrees Celsius, and then reduce the oven heat to 190 degrees Celsius (375 Fahrenheit). Cook the muffins for another 15 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the muffins comes out clean.

7.      Leave to cool for 5 minutes and serve warm. The remaining muffins will keep in a container for around 5 days.

Chocolate and Berry Muffins

And that’s really all there is to it. I told you it was a nice and easy recipe. And these muffins were amazing! I definitely recommend having at least one fresh out of the oven for full effect, because muffins are always best served warm! I can assure you that you won’t be disappointed by the delicious, crunchy top and gooey, chocolaty inside of these muffins. My boyfriend was certainly a happy taste tester, and I left him with the remaining muffins so he had treats for the rest of the week (if they lasted that long). He was lucky that I gave them up, I must have been feeling generous!

Chocolate and Berry Muffins

The muffins rose a lot more than muffins that I have made in the past, so it must have really helped having the two temperatures. I think the main thing about this recipe was that it produced muffins with that perfect crunchy top and soft, fluffy centre. They were pretty much just what I would expect from a bakery muffin, but a little smaller. I guess that means you are allowed to have two, or four! For such a simple, easy recipe, the results were absolutely delicious! I think this might become my new go to muffin recipe, because it is so easy to change up the flavour with whatever you have lying around. What combination would you try?

Chocolate and Berry Muffins

Until next time, happy baking!

Ella xx

Healthy Doughnuts Exist, and I Made Them

Chocolate Chip Doughnuts with a Salted Caramel Glaze

This week, I have been having a bit of a rough one, and I must admit I was getting dangerously close to not baking or cooking anything for the blog because I’ve been so exhausted. My mum told me I should just leave it for the week with so much other stuff going on. But then I thought about it, and decided that I knew the perfect remedy for stress! As you know, the one thing I love doing when I’m stressed is baking, it just makes me feel so relaxed. I love the feeling of making something special out of a few ingredients, and that feeling of accomplishing something always helps with the stress.

Chocolate Chip Doughnuts with a Salted Caramel Glaze

A few things put the idea for this weeks baking into my mind. Firstly, for all of you who live in Brisbane, there is an amazing gluten free doughnut company called nodo donuts. Absolutely amazing and delicious guilt free doughnuts, if you are ever in the mood. Anyway, they have decided to open up a store, and the store happens to be really close to my work, which will mean I will have a lot of trouble not eating doughnuts every week (not the worst problem to have, I know). But it is also opening up on 1 Ella Street, which I take as a sign from a higher power that I should be eating more doughnuts! Seems legit.

Chocolate Chip Doughnuts with a Salted Caramel Glaze

Someone in my house also must have happened to purchase a mould for baking doughnuts, which has magically appeared in our drawer in the kitchen. I haven’t seen any doughnuts made using this mould yet, so I figured it was about time we broke it in! Having a doughnut mould means that you can bake your doughnuts instead of frying them, instantly making them healthier. It is the perfect way to cook doughnuts with special ingredients in them, such as making them gluten free or paleo. It really opens up the doughnut making to a whole new range of doughnuts! And as much as I am quite partial to a delicious deep fried doughnut, sometimes it’s nice to try healthy alternatives. Especially coming up to swim suit season in Australia!

Chocolate Chip Doughnuts with a Salted Caramel Glaze

I had a look for gluten free recipes for doughnuts, and surprisingly there are quite a few online, with so many variations it was hard to decide which one to try first. But I decided on a recipe for paleo almond doughnuts, because it seemed pretty simple and it used all natural ingredients. However, it didn’t have a recipe for a glaze, which I think is a necessity for any type of doughnut (except for cinnamon sugar, you can’t improve a classic). So I found another recipe for a salted caramel glaze that sounded amazing, and was also completely natural. And then in true Ella style I added dark chocolate, because I am absolutely obsessed with chocolate. I mean, you can’t be too healthy! And dark chocolate is good for you anyway. So I guess if you want it to be free of chocolate, you can easily remove it, but I wouldn’t personally, because they were really delicious doughnuts!

Chocolate Chip Doughnuts with a Salted Caramel Glaze

This recipe ended up being a little more complicated than I originally anticipated, but that’s ok because the results were absolutely delicious! I was surprised at how sweet they were given the lack of sugar in them, so I didn’t feel the slightest bit guilty about eating them. My only issue was that my doughnut mould and the recipe only made 6 doughnuts, which meant that they were gone really quickly. I think I might need to get more moulds to ensure I can make more, because I really want to try these again, and maybe try some other interesting flavours! It’s cool because once you’ve got your base doughnut, you can add whatever you want to it.

Chocolate Chip Doughnuts with a Salted Caramel Glaze

Chocolate Chip Doughnuts with a Salted Caramel Glaze

Adapted From Southern In Law (Doughnuts) and NoDo Donuts (Glaze)
Preparation Time 30 minutes (including assembly)
Cooking Time 20 minutes
Serves 6 doughnuts

Ingredients

Chocolate Chip Doughnuts

·         1 cup of Almond Meal

·         3 tablespoons of Honey

·         2 large Eggs

·         2 teaspoons of Vanilla Extract

·         ¼ teaspoon of Baking Soda

·         500 grams of good quality Dark Chocolate

Salted Caramel Glaze

·         ¼ cup of Coconut Sugar

·         2 tablespoons of Water

·         270ml of Coconut Cream

Directions

Chocolate Chip Doughnuts

1.      Preheat your oven to 150 degrees Celcius (300 Degrees Fahrenheit).

2.      Grease the doughnut mould with coconut oil and set aside. You could use something else to grease it if you wanted, but I found this worked quite well.

3.      In a medium sized mixing bowl, mix together all ingredients until smooth. You don’t really need an electric mixer for this, a wooden spoon worked perfectly fine for me!

4.      Roughly break the chocolate up and fold into the mixture.

5.      Fill the doughnut moulds with the mixture, filling each about half way full

6.      Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Mine took about 20 minutes to get completely cooked

7.      Take out of the oven and allow the doughnuts to cool completely before removing from the moulds. Place on a wire rack with a plate underneath.

Salted Caramel Glaze

1.      Add the coconut sugar and water to a saucepan and let simmer for 2-4 minutes until a golden caramel colour. Make sure you stir constantly to avoid burning.

2.      Add the coconut cream and a pinch of salt, and allow to simmer until the mixture reduces. Ensure you keep stirring the mixture to avoid sticking. This should take about 5-8 minutes, at which point the mixture should have reduced by half and thickened enough to coat your spoon.

3.      Allow the Glaze to cool for a few minutes and bring over to your doughnuts on the wire rack. Using a spoon, cover the doughnuts completely with the glaze, ensuring all edges are covered.

4.      To garnish, shave some dark chocolate and sprinkle over the top.

5.      Refrigerate the doughnuts until ready to serve.

These doughnuts were absolutely delicious and I didn’t feel the slightest bit guilty for eating them. I only wish there had been more! Next time I think I will make a double batch. I took these over to a friend’s place for dessert and her boyfriend demolished three of them in under 5 minutes. Given they were quite healthy I take this as a sign that they were really delicious.

Chocolate Chip Doughnuts with a Salted Caramel Glaze

The doughnuts ended up having a great texture, and I loved having the chocolate through them to break them up, like a delicious chocolate chip cookie! The glaze was surprisingly sweet for using coconut sugar, but not too sweet. It was the perfect balance of flavours with the salted caramel and almond honey flavours.

Chocolate Chip Doughnuts with a Salted Caramel Glaze

You could make these doughnuts with any flavours you wanted. I think blueberries or raspberries would also be delicious in these instead of the chocolate, or maybe even in addition! Go nuts!

Until next time, happy baking

Ella xx

Gluten Free Double Chocolate Cookies

Gluten Free Double Chocolate CookiesOn Monday night I was really feeling like baking, because I’ve done a whole two weeks without baking and I was having serious withdrawals. So I decided that a baking session was seriously in order, but what to bake? I mean, there are so many seriously delicious treats to bake, and so little time to bake them all. There are almost too many options when it comes to baking, and I almost need to narrow it down by what I feel like making, how much time I have and of course what is on hand. And when I went to my pantry I noticed that I was seriously lacking what you would normally need as staples for baking i.e. flour, caster sugar, cooking chocolate.

Gluten Free Double Chocolate Cookies

Most people at this point would give up, as it was a Monday night and I could have put the TV on instead and forgotten about the whole thing. But not me, I was determined to bring baked goods into work to improve everyone’s Tuesday! So instead I rallied and figured out how I could get creative with my baking! And it ended up being a really fun, and delicious, experiment.

Gluten Free Double Chocolate Cookies

I decided on a recipe for cookies (because you know how much I love cookies) that were made using almond meal, because despite not having flour, for some reason I had a lot of almond meal. This was a positive as well as some of the girls in my office can’t eat gluten and so it meant they could enjoy the cookies too! I ended up finding a recipe for double chocolate cookies using almond meal which looked really delicious. And who doesn’t love chocolate? I feel like anything with just singular chocolate in it is good, let alone DOUBLE chocolate! And it was such a shame that all I had on hand was Lindt chocolate, because it made the cookies about one million times better!

Gluten Free Double Chocolate Cookies

I would have to say, these may be my favourite cookies that I’ve ever baked. Which is weird, because all things considered they aren’t that bad for you. The batter was a perfect Monday night treat, and the cookies themselves were so good I had to keep going back! I think if you are looking for a chocolatey, delicious cookie recipe, you should look no further than this recipe, it is seriously good!

Gluten Free Double Chocolate Cookies

Gluten Free Double Chocolate Cookies

Adapted From Gourmande in the Kitchen
Preparation Time 15 minutes
Cooking Time 9 minutes
Serves 28 cookies

Ingredients

·         200 grams of bittersweet dark chocolate – I used Lindt 85% chocolate for melting, and 90% chocolate for the chocolate chips. You will be melting half and using the other half for the chocolate chips. Roughly chop half of the chocolate

·         1 ½ cups of almond meal

·         ½ cup of unsweetened cacao (or cocoa if you only have this on hand)

·         ½ teaspoon of baking soda

·         ½ teaspoon of sea salt, finely ground

·         112 grams of butter cut into cubes

·         1 cup of coconut sugar

·         2 large eggs

·         1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Method

1.       Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celcius (350 degrees F)

2.       Fill a saucepan with a bit of water over a medium heat, and place half the chocolate in a bowl. Place the bowl over the top of the water so it completely covers the saucepan. Slowly melt the chocolate, stirring until completely liquid. Remove from heat.

3.       In a bowl, combine the almond meal, cacao, baking soda, salt and sugar, and use a hand held mixer to combine.

4.       Add the cubed butter to the mixture and process until it is completely brought together. The dough should look a bit wet and darker.

5.       Add the eggs, vanilla and melted chocolate and process until the dough is smooth. It will be quite wet but still firm enough to use a spoon to form balls. Fold in the chopped chocolate to the mixture.

6.       Line two baking trays with baking paper. Using two tablespoons, drop heaped balls of dough onto the baking sheets, keeping a few inches between each cookie.

7.       Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until just set (don’t overbake as they will firm up when you take them out of the oven)

8.       Cool completely on a wire rack, and enjoy!

This recipe was really simple and ended up having minimal washing up – you only need to use two bowls and your mixer! They also ended up being really healthy all things considered – dark chocolate is really good for you and they didn’t have any refined sugar or flour in them. The result was super chocolatey, gooey cookies with the most amazing texture! Everyone at work was commenting about how delicious these were, and I loved them because they weren’t overly sweet, they had just the perfect amount of sweetness that you didn’t feel really gross after eating one, or four.

Gluten Free Double Chocolate Cookies

As these are technically chocolate chip cookies, I am going to rate them on my chocolate chip cookie scale (If you have only just started reading, here is the original post explaining my hunt for the perfect cookie). Even though these are a little different to a classic chocolate chip cookie, I think they still have their place in the great cookie hunt!

Supreme Cookie Awesomeness Score

Gluten Free Double Chocolate Cookies

Simplicity: 7

Gooeyness: 7

Tastiness: 9

Gone Factor: 8

Total Score: 31/40

They scored a little lower than the last batch, just because the ingredients are a little harder to source, and it involved melting chocolate etc. Also, they lasted a whole two days, rather than the one day that the other cookies I tried lasted. But they were equally tasty and gooey, so overall a really good score!

Gluten Free Double Chocolate Cookies

These make for a great relatively healthy treat for everyone to enjoy! What delicious chocolate chip cookies. If this is what gluten free cookies taste like all the time, sign me up! I’m sure they don’t, but man I have started attempting gluten free cookies on a high note!  I don’t know if I can make any gluten free cookies that taste better than these, but I guess I am a little biased as I love dark chocolate so much! Does anyone have any cookie recipes they think could top these? I’d love to know!

Until Next Time, Happy Baking!

Ella xx

The Hunt for the Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie

The Hunt for the Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie

On Sunday morning I woke up a bit earlier than my partner, as he had a bigger night than I did the night before. So I could have lazed around in bed, watched some TV or read a book. But instead, I felt the urge to bake chocolate chip cookies, because that’s a totally normal thing to do on a Sunday morning.

The Hunt for the Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie

I really love chocolate chip cookies, is anyone else with me? I don’t know what it is about them, but I’ve always been a number one fan. I feel like they might be the king amongst cookies, the one cookie to rule them all. I mean, I know thee is so much choice when it comes to cookies and biscuits in general, but I find nothing compares to a delicious chocolate chip cookie. It’s like pure happiness in baked good form, and you don’t even need to cook them, the cookie dough is just as amazing!

The Hunt for the Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie

Now that I have completed my ode to delicious chocolate chip cookies, which I hope you enjoyed, I can continue on with my post. Although I can enjoy all types of chocolate chip cookies, I love gooey ones with melty chocolate inside. I’ve never been a huge fan of hard cookies in general, which is often a point of contention amongst cookie lovers. So I’m always looking for recipes that will yield soft, gooey cookies rather than hard ones. I’ve noticed on Pinterest there are a number of diagrams for the avid cookie lover that show you what ingredients result in each type of cookie, which I found pretty interesting and helpful. I mainly have kudos for whoever spent the time making that many batches of cookies in order to create the diagram. It must have been a really delicious experiment.

The Hunt for the Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie

So I decided that maybe I needed to embark on a little experiment of my own. I have noticed that there are pretty much a billion recipes for chocolate chip cookies, all of which claim that theirs is the best recipe in the world. I’m not really sure which one should wear the crown of the best cookie recipe in the entire world, as cookie loving is so subjective. But I did decide that I should try out a few of these ‘best cookie recipes’ and see which one reigned supreme, just like Iron Chef but for baked goods. After all, there’s no harm in giving as many cookie recipes a go as possible, except perhaps for the waistlines of those around me. RIP waistlines.

The Hunt for the Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie

The recipe I tried for this post was one such recipe that claimed it was the best chocolate chip cookie recipe, and I had a look at it and thought it might have potential. And oh boy did it ever. The cookies were absolutely delicious, and were gone within the day. Honestly, once you started eating them you couldn’t stop. They were so gooey and delicious, perfect for a Sunday treat. And the recipe itself was nice and simple, not really involving much preparation or difficulty in the baking. So I believe we have started the competition off strong.

Soft, Gooey Chocolate Chip Cookies

The Hunt for the Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie

Adapted from Pinch of Yum
Preparation Time 15 minutes
Cooking Time 9-11 minutes
Servings 16 cookies

Ingredients

·         ½ cup or 8 tablespoons of salted butter

·         ½ cup of caster sugar

·         ¼ cup of packed brown sugar

·         1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

·         1 egg

·         1 and ½ cups of plain flour

·         ½ teaspoon of baking powder

·         ¼ teaspoon of salt

·         1 packet of chocolate of your choice – I used milk cooking chocolate, about 200 grams worth

Method

1.      Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius (350 degrees Fahrenheit). Microwave the butter for 40 seconds so it is just barely melted (make sure you don’t overheat it, so if it isn’t completely melted put it back in for 5 second increments).

2.      Using electric beaters, beat the butter with the white and brown sugar until smooth and creamy. Add the egg and vanilla extract, beating until fully incorporated. Try not to overbeat as it will stiffen the cookies, just keep it to 10-15 seconds.

3.      Add the plain flour, baking powder and salt to the bowl. Mix until the dough becomes crumbly, and use hands to form into a dough. At this stage the dough should not be too wet or too dry.

4.      Break the chocolate block up into small chunks and mix into the dough with your hands.

5.      Cover a baking tray with baking paper, and roll the dough into 16 medium sized balls (if you want larger cookies, just roll less). Ensure you leave a bit of room between each cookie on the sheet to avoid them sticking when baking.

6.      Bake the cookies for 9-11 minutes, or until the cookies puff up and are just barely golden. They should be pale and puffy when they come out of the oven, as this will ensure they are nice and soft on the inside.

7.      Allow the cookies to rest for about half an hour, if you can wait that long. They will firm up on the outside and remain nice and soft on the inside. Keep in an airtight container and they will last as long as you can hold off eating them for.

So to make this a true competition across my blog posts, I am introducing a scoring mechanism for the cookie recipes that I try, just so that we can objectively measure the success. I will score the cookies in a couple of categories out of 10 to ensure supreme cookie awesomeness. This will rate the cookies for their ease of baking, gooeyness, taste and a special score for how quickly they were eaten, which I will so aptly name the ‘gone factor’. Here is the first recipes score:

Supreme Cookie Awesomeness Score

The Hunt for the Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie

Simplicity: 8

Gooeyness: 7

Tastiness: 9

Gone Factor: 9

Total Score: 33/40

Not a bad score for my first entry to the hunt for the perfect chocolate chip cookie. This cookie was truly delicious, and really easy to make. They were quite fluffy but gooey on the inside, which is what you want in a cookie. For a traditional chocolate chip cookie, this one was a perfect standard recipe, which I think you could keep in your arsenal for any time you have a craving. They were so quick that you could have delicious chocolate chip cookies in about half an hour, and how can you argue with that? The cookie dough was also delicious, so if they don’t quite make it to the oven I wouldn’t blame you!

The Hunt for the Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie

My boyfriend was really excited to wake up to freshly baked cookies, and when I took these over to a friend’s house the rest were demolished in about 20 minutes. I take this as a sign that these chocolate chip cookies were truly irresistible!

What do you like in a chocolate chip cookie? Would you give these ones a go based on how much I liked them? If anyone has a recipe they think might beat this one, let me know and I will check it out!

Until next time, happy baking!

Ella xx

Chocolate and Blueberry Muffins

I think there might be something wrong with me.

Some people like to unwind in front of the TV with a glass of wine, or read a book, or take a bubble bath. I myself, as much as I enjoy all of the above, really find baking relaxing. Whenever I feel like unwinding, I think about what I should bake. There’s just something about mixing all these ingredients together and turning them into something wonderful and delicious. I think I might even like the process of baking more than actually eating the finished product (which works out well for those around me). Baking to me is my passion, my hobby and my therapy.

Chocolate and Blueberry Muffins

So this week I felt like baking something all week, but I just kept running out of time. I was working, exercising, catching up with friends, and you can hardly put your life on hold just because you want to bake, can you? I wish! So I finally found some time to bake, and then it was just about finding the perfect recipe to try.

Chocolate and Blueberry Muffins

For some reason, I had a real urge to bake muffins. I haven’t made them in such a long time, and I’m not sure why, because they are so delicious. My favourite are gooey in the middle, more filling than muffin, and of course they have to have a crunchy muffin top. Muffin top is totally acceptable in my books.

Chocolate and Blueberry Muffins

I had a recipe for dairy free blueberry muffins on my Pinterest that looked really delicious, but I realised when I went to make them that the only milk I had was cows milk. So I figured, what’s the harm in adding in some chocolate if I’m going to make them with dairy. Because chocolate makes just about everything 10 times better, and muffins with chocolate in them are just about the best type of muffin.

I feel a little guilty as the website I got the recipe off is a dairy free website, but it just looked like such a good recipe. And where’s the fun in exactly copying a recipe, when you can change it up and try something new? I guess I won’t know which one would taste better, but I like to think of this as my spin on it. Hopefully you like it!

Chocolate and Blueberry Muffins

Chocolate and Blueberry Muffins

Adapted From Go Dairy Free
Serves 12 muffins
Preparation Time 10 minutes
Cooking Time 20 minutes

Ingredients

·         1 and ½ cups of plain flour

·         1 tablespoon of baking powder

·         ¼ teaspoon of salt

·         ¼ cup of brown sugar, firmly packed

·         ¼ cup and 1 tablespoon of caster sugar, divided

·         2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice

·         ¾ cup of milk

·         2 large eggs

·         2 and a half tablespoons of melted coconut oil, or canola oil

·         1 cup of blueberries (preferably fresh)

·         1 cup of chocolate pieces, roughly chopped

·         ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon

Method

1.      Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius and line 12 muffin cups with cupcake liners

2.      Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.

3.      In a separate bowl, whisk together brown sugar, ¼ cup of caster sugar, lemon or vinegar, milk, eggs and oil. Whisk until the mixture is smooth.

4.      Add the wet mixture into the flour mixture and whisk to combine. Mix to ensure that there are no lumps, but avoid over mixing.

5.      Fold in the blueberries and chocolate to the mix.

6.      Divide the batter between the cupcake pans, ensuring each has an even amount of blueberries and chocolate.

7.      Combine the remaining tablespoon of sugar and the cinnamon in a small dish. Sprinkle each muffin with the cinnamon-sugar mixture.

8.      Bake for 18 to 22 minutes or until brown on the top and cracked.

9.      Allow the muffins to cool on a wrack, and serve warm with butter, or on their own.

The muffins themselves ended up beautiful and gooey, full of blueberries and melty chocolate, and so crunchy on the top. The sugary top really added a nice crust to the top of the muffins, which I think really took them up a notch! Plus, they were really easy to make, you only need two bowls and didn’t even need an electric mixer! It’s a perfect recipe for a late night baking expedition, and then you will have delicious muffins for your breakfast in the morning! These muffins are delicious warm because the chocolate and blueberries are all gooey and delicious, so I would highly suggest doing this for maximum enjoyment!

Chocolate and Blueberry Muffins

When I think about it, these muffins aren’t that bad for you. They have no butter, use coconut oil and you could substitute the milk for a non-dairy alternative and remove the chocolate chips if you wanted to. They are also pretty low in sugar. So you don’t need to feel that guilty about making these and eating one, or five.

Chocolate and Blueberry Muffins

These went down a treat at work, everyone really needed a Friday pick me up and these made for a delicious one. Perfect for a morning tea snack, or time or occasion really. We don’t discriminate when it comes to muffins!

What do you think? Would you give these a go to unwind, or perhaps for a spot of procrasti-baking? Is anyone else weird like me and enjoys baking to de-stress? I’d love to know if I’m not the only one!

Until next time, happy baking!

Ella xx

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Five Minutes to Chocolate Heaven

Chocolate Lava Mug Cake

First of all, I’m sorry I haven’t posted this week. I’ve let time get away from me as I’ve been away from home for work! It was quite difficult to get enough time to write a blog post surprisingly, even though I was certain I would have enough time undisturbed in my hotel room. But I’m afraid socialising won out, and given because I’ve been to Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney this week, I think the lack of time at home has meant my blog has suffered!

I guess time is a big thing, especially with cooking. I find a lot of my friends always complain that they never have any time to cook, or bake, or blog. I fall into the habit too – I find myself scrambling at the end of the week sometimes to figure out what to cook, and I think if I didn’t have this blog as a project I would just keep doing my usual thing of stir fries and grilled chicken. I think this is why I am enjoying this blog so much, because it is pushing me to try new things and make time for cooking and baking, which is something I really enjoy!Chocolate Lava Mug Cake

I found myself on Saturday night at home packing for a week away, and contemplating what I should cook for this week’s blog post. I knew because I would be in a hotel room for most of the week, I would seriously lack the tools needed to bake for the blog. And this was married with my slight depression at being home on a Saturday night doing something boring like packing. I had to leave the Gold Coast just to pack, and to me that is reason enough for a delicious dessert!Chocolate Lava Mug Cake

So I decided to fill the void with something delicious, because I am not an emotional eater or anything. But I knew it had to be something quick because I really did need to pack, and something that I could make as one serve, because I would be the only one eating it. I’ve always wanted to try a microwave cake, because the concept to me seems so strange. I’ve always enjoyed the process of baking so I never normally want to speed it up. But this I do have to say was quite fun. There is something really satisfying about making a cake batter in a mug, putting it in the microwave for 2 minutes, and getting instant gratification. It does scare me a little though because now I know cake it so easily accessible to me in single serving form, I think dieting is going to be a lot harder!Chocolate Lava Mug Cake

This mug cake was gooey in the centre and the perfect size. The original recipe I used was for 2 serves so I halved it, because no one wants to share mug cake. That’s the kind of stuff you make for eating while watching a chick flick in your pajamas, and I promise you that if you are home alone watching a chick flick, the addition of this mug cake will make your night a million times better!

Chocolate Lava Mug Cake

Chocolate Lava Mug Cake

Adapted From Cleo Buttera
Servings 1
Preparation Time 3 minutes
Cooking Time 2 minutes

Ingredients

·      1/8 cup of plain flour

·      1/8 cup of caster sugar

·      1 tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder

·      ¼ teaspoon of baking powder

·      Pinch of Salt

·      1 and ½ tablespoons of melted butter

·      1 and ½ tablespoons of milk at room temperature

·      1 small egg

·      ¼ teaspoon of vanilla extract

·      14 grams (or a few squares) of dark chocolate, broken up

·      ½ a tablespoon of water

Method

1.     In a microwave safe mug, using a fork, whisk together to flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt until combined.

2.     Pour the melted butter, milk, egg and vanilla into the mug. Whisk well with the fork until combined, ensuring that there is no flour mixture stuck to the bottom.

3.     Place chocolate pieces in the centre of the mug, ensuring you don’t push down on them. They will sink as it bakes.

4.     Drizzle the water over the top of the cake mixture.

5.     Cook into the microwave for between 1 minute 20 seconds and 2 minutes, or until the edges of the cake look set. It took mine about 2 minutes, but it will depend on the temperature of the microwave. After 1 minute 20 seconds keep checking the cake and putting in for 5-second intervals, as you don’t want to overcook the cake. It should slightly stick to the finger when touched, and look slightly wet but not raw.

6.     Allow the cake to cool for a couple of minutes if you can, to avoid burning your tongue. It will also allow the sauce to thicken.

7.     Eat straight out of the mug with some ice cream on top to really get the full mug cake experience.

See what I mean about it being easy? A little too easy and quick I think. I mean, now that I know I can make a delicious chocolate dessert in 5 minutes, I’m a little worried I’ve opened up my world to a lot more dessert. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, given how delicious this little pudding was. I never thought that I would enjoy a cake made in the microwave, but once again a recipe I’ve found on Pinterest has pleasantly surprised me.Chocolate Lava Mug Cake

The result of this recipe is absolutely delicious, and a great addition to a cold winter night, where you are snuggled up in front of the TV. The cake is gooey and full of chocolate, and tastes great with a bit of ice cream on the top. You can see below that I followed my own advice: Chocolate Lava Mug Cake

Would you give this recipe a go? I think out of all the ones I’ve tried, this one is the easiest and quickest. So give it a go and see what you think!

Until next time, happy baking!

Ella xx