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Food, general thoughts, food…

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Jam it!

Jamy, chewy and nutty, these went down pretty well with visitors on the weekend.
I was feeling a little low the other day so did what I like to do best and baked up a storm. First it was the Cardamom cookies and immediately thereafter it was these little beauties. None of them outlasted the weekend’s guests.

I find it very therapeutic to bake and it’s even better to see people enjoying the fruits of my labour. If you want to cheer me up, come over for a cuppa and eat everything I have made this week, I’ll even package up a care package for you to take home, as long as my food gets eaten and enjoyed, I am a happy bunny. It also saves me from eating the lot myself which is a blessing in itself J.

The recipe called for peach jam, I didn’t have peach jam but I did have a jar with a little plum, another with a little apricot and another with a little ginger jam. It all added up nicely to a little over 280g so it made a quick trip into the microwave to warm up and a good stir to blend and this is the flavour we ended up with. Obviously your slice taste will vary with your jam selection but I can tell you that just about anything goes.

Jam Pecan Bars

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
3/4 cup butter
1 cup chopped pecans, divided
280g peach jam or preserves

Combine first 6 ingredients; cut in butter with a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in 1/2 cup pecans.
Remove 3/4 cup of the mixture and set aside. Press remaining mixture evenly into a lightly greased 20cm square pan.
Spread peach jam over base; sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup pecans.
Sprinkle reserved crumb mixture over pecans.
Bake at 180C for 35 to 40 minutes; cool. Cut into bars.



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Chocolate Brownies with Sour Cream Frosting

Moist, dense and chewy with pecan nuts for added texture and flavour, this was a pretty good example of what I like in a brownie. The sour cream and chocolate frosting is very good also and super easy to make. (I actually bought sour cream for this recipe, I doubted that my usual Greek yoghurt substitute would do it justice)
I melted all the necessary chocolate in the microwave instead of over a double boiler, because I am just fond of short cuts like that.

I put aside 4 of these immediately upon cutting to take to my Grandmother this week. Everyone in the household has been warned not to touch the container, even in the horrific advent that all of the others disappear. Fingers crossed the ‘pain of death’ warnings take and I still have 4 to gift to my Nan when I see her.

Chocolate Brownies with Sour Cream Frosting

125g butter
185g dark chocolate, chopped
1 cup castor sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup plain flour
1/2 cup chopped pecan nuts

Sour Cream Frosting
100g dark chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup sour cream

Grease a deep 19cm square cake pan, line base with paper; grease paper.
Melt butter and chocolate in saucepan over hot water.
Transfer mixture to large bowl. Stir in sugar and essence, then eggs, sifted flour and pecans.
Pour mixture into prepared pan, bake in moderate oven for about 30 minutes, cool in pan.
Turn brownies out, top with frosting; refrigerate until set before cutting.
Store in refrigerator.

Sour Cream Frosting: Melt chocolate in heatproof bowl over hot water, stir in sour cream, stir constantly until mixture is smooth and glossy.

Keeping time: 4 days. (tee hee hee)


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Chewy Choc Chip Biscuits

These worked out very nicely. Don’t leave them in the oven too long, they literally take minutes to cook and the bottoms are susceptible to scorching if left too long on a bottom shelf.
Those disasters are fairly easily avoided by paying attention to what you are doing, I am easily distracted so it’s harder than it sounds some days. This aside, mine turned out pretty well indeed.
Munching on one of these as I write, I can tell you they are more soft than chewy but they are certainly delicious.

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes about 28 cookies

1 cup butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans

In a bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter and brown
sugar until well blended. Beat in eggs and vanilla until smooth,
scraping down sides of bowl as needed.
In another bowl, mix flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir or beat into
butter mixture until well incorporated. Stir in chocolate chips and
pecans, if using.
Drop dough in 2-tablespoon portions, 5cm apart, onto
buttered baking sheets.
Bake in a 200C oven until cookies are lightly browned and no longer wet
in the center (break one open to check), 6 to 8 minutes; if baking more
than one pan at a time, switch pan positions halfway through baking.
Let them cool on the trays, they will break apart if you try to move them while they are too warm.



Caramel Two Ways

Here are 2 Caramel flavoured slices. This first one I forgot to take a picture of.
The base of this slice was quite biscuity and the topping/filling was a sugary fudgy concoction that went crispy caramel at the edges. It was all good but the edge bits were my favourite. I used a little less chocolate than was called for, I like my chocolate on the thin side when paired with caramel, I don’t like the chocolate taking over.

The second recipe is an un-brownie i.e. it might be a brownie kind of consistency but as you can see from the photo, there isn’t anything brown about it. Is it a blondie? I wouldn’t know, but it was pretty good. I don’t really like baked cheesecake and the topping of this slice is reminiscent of that texture and taste but it wasn’t bad at all. I made it on Saturday and there is one slice left this Monday morning. Quite a few slices made it my way regardless of my predefined biases and that speaks for itself really.
I may not make it again but I can see how it would end up in some peoples ‘keepers’ book.

Caramel & Chocolate Pecan Bars

2 Cups Flour
1 Cup Packed Brown Sugar
1/2 cup Butter, Softened
1 Cup Pecan Halves

2/3 Cup Butter
1/2 Cup Packed Brown Sugar

1 Cup Chocolate Chips

Preheat oven to 180C. Mix all crust ingredients except pecans until fine. Press into the bottom of a 13 X 9 pan and sprinkle pecans over crust. In a saucepan, heat butter and brown sugar on medium heat until entire surface boils, stirring constantly. Once mixture comes to a boil, continue boiling for just 1 minute stirring constantly. Remove from heat after 1 minute and pour evenly over pecans and crust. Bake 18-22 minutes or until whole top layer is bubbly (oven temperatures may vary). Remove from oven and sprinkle with chocolate chips. Spread chocolate chips once they begin to melt and allow to cool completely.

Caramel Un-Brownies

125 g white chocolate
30 g butter
2 eggs
¼ cup sugar
1 cup plain flour
2 tablespoons bottled caramel topping

Cream cheese filling
60 g butter
185 g packaged cream cheese
2 eggs
¼ cup sugar
2 tablespoons plain flour
1 teaspoon vanilla

Melt chocolate and butter in a saucepan over a low heat, cool slightly.
Beat eggs and sugar with an electric mixer until thick and creamy. Stir in sifted flour and caramel topping, add chocolate, stir until combined.
Pour mixture into a greased 16 cm x 26 cm lamington tin.
Cream cheese filling: Beat butter and cheese together with an electric mixer, add eggs and sugar, beat well. Stir in sifted flour and vanilla. Spread cheese filling over brownie base. Bake at 180°C for 35 minutes. Cool in tin, cut when cold.