chocolate chunk cookies

27 Apr 2015

For this week's blog post I wanted to use what was in my cupboards, as I'm just about to head overseas. I found a half eaten block of hazelnut chocolate in the cupboard and when I looked through the fridge, there were some eggs and butter that also needed to be used, so I decided to make chocolate chunk cookies.

This is a very old hand written recipe from my time living in Canada. The recipe came from a Baker's Chocolate recipe leaflet and I have a feeling I altered it a little to suit my taste as the sugar quantity is quite low for a North American recipe.

I haven't made these cookies for a very long time but I think they are plenty sweet enough. The original recipe called for ¾ cup of chopped walnuts but with plenty of whole hazelnuts in the chocolate chunks, I dispensed with the extra nuts.

Here they are on the cooling rack. Why are cookies just out of the oven so irresistible? I had 2 for my lunch with a cup of tea and they were delicious!

In case you also need to eat cookies for lunch, here’s the recipe for you. For all my recipes, I use a 250 ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon. All eggs are 60 grams and my oven is a conventional oven not fan forced, so you may need to reduce your oven temperature by 20°C.

Chocolate Chunk Cookies, similar to this recipe

1 cup + 1 tbl flour 
½ tsp baking powder
pinch salt 
110g (4 oz) unsalted butter, softened 
¼ cup packed brown sugar 
¼ cup caster sugar 
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla 
8 oz (220 g) dark hazelnut chocolate roughly chopped into chunks


Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a small bowl. Beat the butter, sugars, egg and vanilla in large bowl until light and fluffy. Add the flour to the butter mixture and stir until well blended. Add the chocolate chunks and mix well. Cover the bowl and place in the fridge for an hour or overnight if you prefer.

Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper then drop tablespoonfuls of dough, 2 inches apart, onto the baking trays. Bake the cookies for 12 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned, swapping the trays halfway through the baking time. 

Allow the cookies to cool on the baking trays for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks. Cool the cookies completely before storing in an airtight container. 
Makes 30 cookies

  • Well it's been a wild old week weather wise in Sydney with torrential rain, strong winds, flooding and hailstorms. I'm fine and my place is fine but my car is a bit worse for wear. So many other people are in a worse position than I, so I am not complaining but counting my blessings. I'm off to Singapore later in the week so I'll see you again soon from somewhere on the road. 
  • Bye for now,

plate to plate - ottolenghi chocolate krantz cake

20 Apr 2015

When Juliana and I were trying to decide what to bake for this month's Plate 2 Plate post, we both knew we wanted to make something sweet. I'd seen photos of this Chocolate Krantz Cake from Ottolenghi's book, Jerusalem, all over the internet and suggested we give it a try.

Juliana agreed so it was as easy as that. The recipe makes 2 cakes and here are Juliana's photos of the 2 babkas she baked.

Despite having a Polish grandmother, I'd never eaten or made a krantz cake (aka babka) before. Reading through the recipe it looked very similar to a brioche dough, covered with a sinful chocolate spread, topped with toasted pecans then bathed in a sugar syrup. What's not to love? Here's my version of the process. As you can see, I took loads of photos!

Here are some of the ingredients Juliana used to make her babka. That Swiss butter sure beats my local butter hands down.

I'd not made brioche before and decided to make half a batch of the dough. I was a bit disconcerted with how little the dough rose.  I checked the bottom of my tin of yeast only to discover it had expired at the end of 2014. I ran out of time to bake the babka last weekend so put the dough back into the deep freeze and defrosted it Friday night.

I wasn't sure the dough would work out so Saturday morning I made another half batch of dough just in case, changing the technique substantially and it worked a charm. I'll be posting the original recipe with my changes added beneath. You can see that batch of dough in the picture above and that second batch of dough is now resting in the freezer waiting for me to whip it into another babka. I can't wait to see how the second batch of dough compares.

Juliana made the full batch of dough and made a chocolate babka and a cinnamon and walnut version. She baked the cinnamon and walnut babka in a round tin and commented how pretty that looked. I found a photo of a round babka which had dispensed with the tin entirely so I thought I'd give that a try. Here's Juliana hard at work twisting the babka dough and the 2 babkas ready for baking.

Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen suggested freezing the filled babka before halving and twisting the dough. There wasn't enough room in my freezer to do that but I did refrigerate the log for about 20 minutes. The folds fell apart a bit as I was twisting the dough but in the end it didn't seem to make a difference. Once the babka came out of the oven I dowsed it with the sugar syrup, which I'd infused with a cinnamon stick. I did reduce the quantity of sugar in the syrup a little as well. Again I'll write my changes in the notes.

Here it is, fresh from the oven. It's a thing of beauty, isn't it? I cut a piece and I can only say the chocolate babka is one of the most delicious things I've ever tasted.

I had a piece for my morning tea today and it still tasted pretty good. I zapped my piece in the microwave for 5 seconds to warm the chocolate filling and it was a very good decision. I'm taking the leftovers into work and I'll be interested in what my workmates have to say.

Here are the 2 babkas Juliana made. The cinnamon and walnut version in one the right, the chocolate babka on the left. 

Here's the recipe for you. The excerpt is from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi.

'Making a krantz isn't easy or quick. You need to let the dough rise overnight and then fill and shape it, which is quite an elaborate process. Although this recipe makes two fairly large cakes, there isn't really any risk of anything going to waste. They are just the sort of thing everyone hurls themselves at as soon as they come out of the oven.They will also keep for up to two days at room temperature, wrapped in foil, and up to a couple of weeks when frozen'. Photos below by Juliana. Don't you just want to pour yourself a cup of tea and tuck into a slice or two?

'For a fabulous alternative to the chocolate filling, brush each dough half with 6 tbs/80 g melted unsalted butter and then sprinkle with ½ cup/120 g light muscovado sugar, 1½ tbs ground cinnamon, and scant ½ cup/50 g coarsely chopped walnuts; then roll as described in the chocolate version'. That's what Juliana did, as you can see below. I'm not sure which version she preferred.

Chocolate Krantz Cake from Jerusalem. Makes 2 loaves.

For the dough
4 cups/530 g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
½ cup/100 g caster sugar
2 teaspoons fast-rising active dry yeast
Grated zest of 1 small lemon
3 extra-large free-range eggs
½ cup/120 ml water
Rounded ¼ tsp salt
cup/150 g unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into ¾ inch/2 cm cubes
Sunflower oil, for greasing

For the chocolate filling
Scant ½ cup/50 g confectioners’ sugar
cup/30 g best-quality cocoa powder
4 oz/130 g good-quality dark chocolate, melted
½ cup//120 g unsalted butter, melted
1 cup /100 g toasted pecans, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons caster sugar

For the sugar syrup (enough for both cakes)
cup /160 ml water
1¼ cups /260 g caster sugar

For the dough, place the flour, sugar, yeast, and lemon zest in a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook and mix on low speed for 1 minute. Add the eggs and water and mix on low speed for a few seconds and then increase the speed to medium and mix for 3 minutes, until the dough comes together. Add the salt and then start adding the butter, a few cubes at a time, mixing until it is incorporated into the dough. Continue mixing for about 10 minutes on medium speed, until the dough is completely smooth, elastic, and shiny. During the mixing, you will need to scrape down the sides of the bowl a few times and throw a small amount of flour onto the sides so that all of the dough leaves them.

Place the dough in a large bowl brushed with sunflower oil, cover with plastic wrap, and leave in the fridge for at least half a day, preferably overnight.

Grease two 2¼ lb/ 1 kg loaf pans (9 by 4 in/23 by 10 cm) with some sunflower oil and line the bottom of each pan with a piece of waxed paper. Divide the dough in half and keep one-half covered in the fridge.

Make the filling by mixing together the icing sugar, cocoa powder, chocolate, and butter. You will get a spreadable paste. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle measuring 15 by 11 inches (38 by 28 cm). Trim the sides to make them even, then position the dough so that a long side is closest to you. Use an offset spatula to spread half the chocolate mixture over the rectangle, leaving a ¾ in/2 cm border all around. Sprinkle half the pecans on top of the chocolate and then sprinkle over half the caster sugar.
 Brush a little bit of water along the long end farthest away from you. Use both hands to roll up the rectangle like a roulade, starting from the long side that is closest to you and ending at the other long end. Press to seal the dampened end onto the roulade and then use both hands to even out the roll into a perfect thick cigar. Rest the cigar on its seam.

Trim about ¾ in/2 cm off both ends of the roulade with a serrated knife. Now use the knife to gently cut the roll into half lengthwise, starting at the top and finishing at the seam. You are essentially dividing the log into two long even halves, with the layers of dough and filling visible along the length of both halves. With the cut sides facing up, gently press together one end of each half, and then lift the right half over the left half. Repeat this process, but this time lift the left half over the right, to create a simple, two-pronged plait. Gently squeeze together the other ends so that you are left with the two halves, intertwined, showing the filling on top. Carefully lift the cake into a loaf pan. Cover the pan with a wet tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place for 1 to 1
½ hours. The cake will rise by 10 to 20 percent. Repeat the whole process to make the second cake.

Preheat the oven to 375°F/190°C, making sure you allow plenty of time for it to heat fully before the cakes have finished rising. Remove the tea towels, place the cakes on the middle rack of the oven, and bake for about 30 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

While the cakes are in the oven, make the syrup. Combine the water and sugar in a saucepan, place over medium heat, and bring to a boil. As soon as the sugar dissolves, remove from the heat and leave to cool down. As soon as the cakes come out of the oven, brush all of the syrup over them. It is important to use up all the syrup. Leave the cakes until they are just warm, then remove them from the pans and let cool completely before serving.

For the second batch of dough as I wasn't sure how active my yeast was, I doubled the quantity of yeast and activated it first with a tsp each of sugar and flour mixed with a tablespoon or two of water to make a paste and left it covered for 15 minutes until it was quite spongy.

I simplified the dough process by using the regular beater on my stand mixer to cream the butter and sugar together before adding the yeast mixture and the eggs. I added about half the flour to make a soft batter before switching over to the dough hook. I added in the remaining flour and sufficient milk/water to make a soft dough then mixed the dough for about 10 minutes. It was so much easier making the dough this way. I left the dough to prove for an hour before covering the dough and placing in the fridge overnight. The dough didn't double but it was probably 50% larger in volume this way.

I used a tsp vanilla extract instead of grated lemon rind in the dough and added ½ tsp ground cinnamon to the toasted pecan mix.

I pinched the 2 ends of the braid to form a circle, which I placed on a parchment lined baking tray. I baked the babka for closer to 40 minutes than 30 minutes.

I reduced the sugar in the syrup to ⅔ cup. Once the sugar had dissolved I simmered the syrup for 5 minutes with a cinnamon stick. I left the cinnamon stick in the syrup while it cooled and used all the syrup on the cake.

Please try this recipe as despite the number of steps, the outcome is so worth it. The cake is no delicate flower though - it's dense, moist, sweet, chocolately and crunchy all at the same time. 

Many thanks to Juliana for being my partner in Plate 2 Plate.

I'm flying to Singapore next Thursday to attend a conference, so if I have time I'll be back next week with some baking. If not, then I'll be posting from the road.

See you all again soon,



    lemon iced anzac biscuits

    13 Apr 2015

    With the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landing just around the corner I thought it was time to make some Anzac biscuits.

    I love Anzac biscuits, but I wanted to jazz them up a little bit but not too much. Using a Belinda Jeffrey recipe as my base, I added a little lemon rind to the mix then drizzled the biscuits with a simple lemon icing.

    When I was growing up, I think Anzac biscuits were the first biscuit I ever made. It's such a simple mix and melt recipe that you really can't go wrong. The lemon rind is a very gentle addition to the recipe and one I don't think the original Anzac's would have minded.

    Here's the original recipe for you. I halved the ingredients and made a batch of 16 biscuits. Four were consumed for quality control reasons and the rest I took into work. There are only 3 left in the bickie tin so I think that means they're not bad at all. This recipe makes chewy biscuits and Belinda suggests ways to make a crunchy version.

    For all my recipes, I use a 250 ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon. My oven is a conventional oven not fan forced, so you may need to reduce your oven temperature by 20°C.

    Anzac Biscuits - make 16

    ½ cup regular rolled oats (not quick-cooking oats)
    ⅓ cup shredded or desiccated coconut 
    ½ cup plain flour 
    ⅓ cup golden caster sugar
    ½ tsp grated lemon rind
    60g (2 oz) unsalted butter
    1 tablespoon golden syrup
    1 tablespoon boiling water 
    ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda

    Lemon Icing
    25g (scant 1 oz) unsalted butter
    ½ cup sifted icing sugar
    1-2 tablespoons lemon juice 

    Preheat the oven to 160°C. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper and set them aside.

    In a large bowl, thoroughly mix together the oats, coconut, flour, caster sugar and grated lemon rind. Put the chopped butter and golden syrup into a small saucepan over low heat (or you can do this step in the microwave) and stir occasionally until the butter has melted. Remove the pan from the heat. Mix the boiling water and bicarb soda in a cup and add to the butter mixture. Pour the butter mix into the oat mixture and stir until thoroughly combined. 

    Scoop out tablespoons of the mixture onto the lined oven trays, leaving about 2 inches as the mixture spreads. Flatten the biscuits a little.  

    Bake the biscuits in the preheated oven for 14-18 minutes, or until they're a deep golden brown but still soft. I always rotate the biscuit tray halfway through the cooking time so the biscuits cook evenly. Leave the biscuits to cool on the trays for a few minutes, then carefully transfer them to wire racks to cool completely. If desired, you can ice these with lemon icing. The uniced biscuits keep well in an airtight container for up to a week.

    Lemon Icing
    For the icing, melt 25g of unsalted butter in a small bowl. Add ½ cup of sifted icing sugar. Gradually add a tablespoon or 2 of lemon juice to form a thick icing. Beat for 1-2 minutes over hot water until shiny and runny. Drizzle the icing over the cooled biscuits. Allow the icing to set before serving the biscuits. You may have some leftover icing.

    I hope you all had a great weekend. I did a bit of shopping for my trip to Singapore and Japan, which is now less than 3 weeks away. How did that happen?

    See you all next week with a new Plate 2 Plate post.

    Bye for now,


    passover week - passover chocolate caramel slice

    6 Apr 2015

    Hi every-one,

    welcome to the last of this year's Passover recipes. I’d hoped to share this recipe with you last year but I hit a snag. I emailed this organization asking whether golden syrup and condensed milk were kosher for Passover. Unfortunately I received a response that they were not because there was a potential for contamination during the processing.  You can’t make this recipe without condensed milk so I was both disappointed and surprised. Disappointed because I couldn't share the recipe with you and surprised because 
    all my baking life, I've used condensed milk to make Passover coconut macaroons

    I've been on the case ever since and I've got some good news for you. Here’s the response from another organization saying it’s okay to use condensed milk as long as there’Kosher for Passover certification on the label. So if you’re happy with this information, then this recipe is for you. 

    If you’re not happy to use tinned condensed milk or you can’t find a certified tin, I've tracked down recipe so you can make it at home. I've not tried out the recipe so I can’t vouch for its success though. I also have good news on the golden syrup front. Tate and Lyle golden syrup (the brand in my kitchen) is kosher for PassoverIf you can’t track down this brand, honey or maple syrup would do at a pinch but it will taste a little different. 

    Chocolate caramel slice must be one of my work colleague’s absolute favourite treats. I took this into work and it was demolished in an instant, which I took as a good sign. 

    Here’s the recipe for you. For all my recipes, I use a 250 ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon. All eggs are 60 grams and my oven is a conventional oven not fan forced, so you may need to reduce your oven temperature by 20°C.

    Passover Chocolate Caramel Slice - makes 16 large squares

    1 cup Passover baking mix, sifted   
    ½ cup brown sugar   
    ½ cup desiccated coconut   
    110 - 125g butter (4 oz), melted   
    2 x 400g cans sweetened condensed milk   
    ⅓ cup golden syrup   
    60g (2 oz) butter, chopped
    2 tsp Passover vanilla extract (or omit)  
    25g (1 oz) butter, chopped   
    150g (5 oz) dark chocolate, chopped  
    Make base  
    Preheat oven to 180°C/350°FLine a 3 cm deep, 28 x 18 cm (base) lamington pan or 8 inch square tin with non-stick baking paper. Using the 8 inch tin will result in a really thick layer of caramel filling 

    Combine all base ingredients in a bowl. Mix well before lightly pressing into the prepared tin. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and allow the base to cool.   

    Make filling  
    Place the condensed milk in a saucepan over medium heat and cook, whisking for 6 - 8 minutes or until slightly thickened. You can also do this step in the microwave, placing the condensed milk in a large microwave safe bowl, stirring every minute. Add the remaining ingredients to the condensed milk mixture and stir thoroughly until well combined. Pour the filling over the cooked base and bake for 15 - 20 minutes or until the filling is golden brown and firm.  Allow to cool completely before refrigerating the slice for 3 to 4 hours, or until set.  

    Make topping  
    Place butter and chocolate into a heat-proof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and stir until melted. Pour over the caramel layer, spreading evenly with a palette knife or offset spatula. Refrigerate until set before cutting into squares using a knife dipped into hot water.  

    This recipe is simply is delicious and I must warn you that often one piece is just not enough!

    I hope you've all had a great Easter break. See you all again next week.

    Bye for now,

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