I did some serious thinking before deciding on the theme for May: “I want to do chocolate, but then again, right after Easter, is it worth it?, etc…” until I realized: who gets sick of chocolate? 😀
To start off the Chocolate Tertulias, I decided to finally photograph my second favorite chocolate cake! My very favorite chocolate cake is the one my mom makes, but that is for another series 😛 Devil’s food loaf is similar to that cake, but the frosting is very different – and the best part of it!
45g unsweetened cocoa powder
¾ tsp baking soda
100 ml boiling water
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
3 medium eggs
233g brown sugar
½ cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
60 g dark chocolate, chopped
14g unsalted butter
2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 Tbsp whole milk
½ Tbsp honey
Start by preparing your loaf pan (mine was 8.5 x 9.5 inches): butter it, line it with parchment paper, making sure there’s an excess of paper so it’s easy to take the cake out of the pan, and then butter the parchment paper!
In a small bowl, whisk the cocoa with the boiling water. Mix in the baking soda and let it cool for 20 minutes.
In a medium bowl, thoroughly whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt. In the stand mixer, mix the eggs, sugar, and oil, until you get a smooth cream. Add the vanilla. Mix in the flour mixture – at this stage, I prefer to use a rubber spatula, but that’s just me. Add the cocoa/water mix and combine well.
Pour the batter into the pan. Now, something different: tap the pan on the counter a few times, to remove air bubbles from the batter. I don’t know what horrible thing happens if you skip this step; I never did! 😀
Bake in a pre-heated oven until it passes the toothpick test – here, it took about 50 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before removing it – you’ll see how the parchment paper trick makes the process easy! Let the cake cool completely.
When it’s completely cooled, it’s time to make the frosting. Melt the chocolate and butter in a small pan, over a water bath. While the chocolate melts, mix the cocoa powder, milk, and honey in another small pan, stirring constantly over high heat until it simmers. Pass the contents of this second pan through a sieve over the chocolate and butter mixture, stirring well (I must confess: I sometimes just mix the contents of both pans, without fussing with the sieve). Spread the frosting over the cake – do this immediately, as it dries quickly.
Test your willpower by letting the frost set for a couple hours before serving!
Before I went to Brasília, I made a list of the recipes I wanted to cook there for the blog – things with kale, yellow carrot, and other ingredients I can’t find in Uruguay. With everything I had to do there, I didn’t cook ANY of them! 😮 Then, we came up with the idea of a “Jota’s recipes” series, which would only feature recipes tested by my brother. We selected a few recipes and… we only cooked this one. 😦
But what a recipe! I always made the same cheesecake recipe, with ricotta, but this is a very different and tasty version – unlike what I had imagined, this is not too sweet! And you can still make it for Easter lunch! 😉
For the base:
240 g corn flakes
70 g unsalted butter, melted
4 Tbsp cocoa powder
For the filling:
200 g hazelnut
500 g cream cheese
200 g heavy cream
85 g sugar
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
For the topping:
170 g dark chocolate
200 g heavy cream
Ferrero Rocher chocolates, to decorate
Start by making the base: in the food processor/blender, finely process the corn flakes. Add the melted butter and the cocoa powder and mix well. Cover the bottom of a 10-inch round springform pan with the crust, pressing well, and place it in the fridge to firm up. You don’t need to butter your pan, as the crust is buttery enough.
While the crust is in the fridge, place the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and roast them in a pre-heated oven. The process takes about 15 minutes. Every now and then, shake the baking sheet so that the hazelnuts don’t burn. You’ll know they are ready when the kitchen is smelling of hazelnuts 😀
Place the hot hazelnuts straight on the blender and blend WELL, until it becomes a paste. This is a lengthy process: Jota and I weren’t willing to wait that long, so we just ground them up, it was good! #truestory
In a bowl, mix the hazelnuts with the cream cheese, 200 g of cream, vanilla, and sugar, until it is nicely mixed. I mixed the cream cheese with the cream first, with a spatula, and then added the remaining ingredients of the filling, but that was just because I didn’t want to get the mixer dirty! 😀 Pour this cream over the cold crust, then cover your pan with plastic wrap and put it back in the fridge to firm up.
Meanwhile, place the cream and dark chocolate in a small pan over low heat (or a bain-marie if you’re more patient than I am), stirring well until all the chocolate is melted. Let it cool down a bit and cover the cheesecake with the ganache. Decorate with the Ferrero Rocher chocolates, put it back on the fridge for at least 30 minutes, and serve!
The second recipe of the Christmas Tertulias is not exactly a Christmas recipe, but it is a perfect fit for the hot weather in the Southern Hemisphere. As the idea of this series is to make edible gifts, all you have to do is place these bars in a red-and-green box and there you have it: CHRISTMAS 😀 😀
They are also a great dessert for Christmas Dinner. We know your aunt is bringing
pudim (Brazilian-style flan), but you can innovate and bring these! 🙂
Lemon bars are also one of Sky’s favorite desserts: I first baked them because every time I baked something, he’d say “oh, this is pretty good, but you could make lemon bars, you know…” I’m glad he insisted, though, because these are really good! I’ve tried many recipes, but this one, by Ree Drummond, is one of the most traditional.
To fill a 20 x 30 cm (8 x 11 inch) pan with lemon bars <3, you’ll need:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract – “an invention from my head,” as Grandma would say
225 g butter, cold and chopped into small cubes
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Zest and juice of 5 lemons
Confectioner’s sugar, for decoration
Start by lining the baking pan (20 x 30 cm, 8 x 11 inch) with aluminum foil − leave extra foil on the sides to form handles, so that removing the bars from the pan isn’t a traumatizing process 😀 – there’s no need to butter the foil, as there’s plenty of butter in the dough!
For the crust: in a medium-sized bowl, use a whisk to combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Add the butter and the vanilla and use the tip of your fingers (or a pastry cutter) to mix the ingredients until it looks like fine crumbs. Press this dough onto your baking pan and bake in a pre-heated oven for approximately 20 minutes, or until the sides are light golden. Don’t bake any more than that, as these will go back to the oven! 🙂
While the crust is baking, prepare the filling. Use your whisk to mix the sugar and flour. Add the eggs, mixing well, and then add the lemon zest and juice. Mix and set aside. As this whole process takes about 3 minutes, do the dishes! 😀
Remove the crust from the oven, carefully pour the filling, and bake for another 15-20 minutes, or until the filling is firm. Remove from the oven and cool it for a while before placing in the fridge for about 2 hours – it’s a lot easier to cut them when they’re cold!
Remove the chilled bars from the pan, using the aluminum foil. For extra prettiness, sift a generous layer of confectioner’s sugar over the bars. Cut them into 5-cm (2-inch) squares. Place the bars in a cute box (if you have to pile them, separate the layers with wax paper), and there’s your gift!
To begin our Christmas Tertulias, also known as edible gifts, I decided to cook a recipe I’ve always been curious about. We don’t eat fudge in Brazil, but when I was a child a lot of books mentioned that somebody had made it for Christmas and, of course, Honeydukes sold Fudge Flies! (#Potterhead)
I’ve read several fudge recipes: some are more complicated, requiring a candy thermometer and a lot of patience, and some are more straightforward. Obviously, I chose the easiest one I could find, by Patricia Scarpin! While I was writing this post, I realized I had (involuntarily) adapted the recipe – I had read it wrong and only used ½ cup of sweetened condensed milk, instead of ½ can! 😀
This is a GREAT gift – it’s different (well, if you’re from Brazil), it will stay firm unrefrigerated, it’s delicious and… it’s so easy to make! A lot less stressful than trying to go to a shopping mall this late in the season!
To make the (adapted) fudge, you’ll need:
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk – do NOT swap for evaporated milk!
330 g of a good dark chocolate, chopped – as the recipe is basically chocolate, the quality matters quite a lot. I used a 64% cocoa chocolate.
1 Tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla extract – you’ll see that the picture looks like a lot more, and that’s right: my homemade extract wasn’t quite full-strength yet, so I added some.
Chopped walnuts, to taste − completely optional. You can use walnuts, hazelnuts… or nothing at all.
Start by lining a 20 x 20 cm (8 x 8 inch) baking pan with aluminum foil − leave extra foil on the sides to form handles, so that it is easy to remove the fudge from the pan.
Chop the chocolate into small chunks – as mine came in discs, I didn’t bother chopping. In a heavy-bottomed pan, place the chocolate, the sweetened condensed milk, and the water. Cook on low heat, stirring constantly, until the chocolate is completely melted.
When the chocolate is melted, you’ll notice that the fudge is in a thicker consistency. Turn off the stove and add the vanilla. Transfer the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the surface.
Spread the chopped nuts over the fudge, pressing lightly so that they stick – I once forgot to press and the nuts fell off as the fudge cooled #fail. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for about 2 hours.
Use the foil handles to remove the fudge and cut it into 2.5-cm (1 inch) cubes. In theory, they last approximately 1 week in the fridge. Here, they lasted about three hours…. #self-control 😀
Things were a bit quiet around here, weren’t they? There’s a pretty good explanation, though: we moved! Between looking for a new apartment, signing a contract, trying to get everything ready, giving up and calling Mom and Dad to help us move, and, of course, working, it was pretty hard to post here! But now that that is over, it’s time to face the folder “Photographed – Need to write the recipe”! To start, I decided to write this recipe, which I made in Brasília and was totally worth it! 🙂
As soon as I got Rita Lobo’s book, I rushed to select the recipes I wouldn’t be able to cook in Uruguay: the cod and black-eyed peas salad, plantain gnocchi (which I ended up not cooking), and these wonderful muffins.
Grating the manioc was extremely boring. The worst of it was that, when I was almost finished, mom told me we could buy grated manioc at the supermarket!! >.< Other than that, the recipe is pretty straightforward. I’m calling them muffins because of their shape – the texture is not quite that, as this is (almost) a flour-free recipe.
When it came out of the oven, we thought “oh, let’s just share one, to taste, we’ve eaten a lot today already.” After the first bite, I had to HIDE two of them for the pictures, because everyone wanted their own! It was THAT tasty! 🙂
For 12 muffins, you’ll need:
1 ½ cup of skinned manioc, grated – please, buy the grated kind! 😀
¾ cup sugar
¼ cup oil
1 cup of meia-cura cheese, shredded – as this is impossible to find outside of Brazil, good substitutions would be mild cheddar, Colby, or Monterey Jack.
1 cup unsweetened dry coconuts
Butter and cornstarch to coat the muffin tin and say you made a gluten-free recipe, therefore it must be healthy, therefore you can eat it all at once no problem 😛
Start by placing the shredded manioc in a bowl and covering it with ½ cup water. While the manioc rests, butter your muffin tin and then dust with cornstarch – it will make a little bit of a mess on your counter, ok? Don’t worry.
In a big bowl, whisk the eggs, the sugar, and the oil, until they become a smooth creamy mixture.
Press the manioc on a sieve to drain the water. To the egg mix, add the coconut, the manioc, and the cheese. Place the dough in the muffin tin – do not overfill and do not press the dough down.
Bake in a pre-heated oven for 30 minutes, or until they are golden brown – it was very weird to cook a recipe where you can’t use a toothpick to test if it’s ready!
Let them cool before removing from the tin. Control yourself and don’t eat them all at once!
To end our Muffin Tertulias, nothing better than a VERY CHOCOLATY chocolate muffin – there’s cocoa and chocolate in the recipe! In addition, as the recipe calls for yoghurt, these are very soft. In fact, they were tastier on the second day!
The only part that takes a little bit of work is chopping the chocolate! I use normal chocolate, because I can’t find decent chocolate chips (only those with hydrogenated fat, ewwww). If you find decent chocolate chips, your muffins will be even prettier!
This recipe yields A LOT: I got 12 normal muffins and 15 mini-muffins! I think it would yield 16-18 normal-sized muffins .
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
3/4 cups dark chocolate chips – I’ll add more next time!
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup whole-fat unsweetened yoghurt
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup white chocolate chips, for decorating
This is the easiest of all the recipes in this series – we don’t even need to melt the butter! 🙂
In the first bowl (the smallest), mix the dry ingredients. In the second bowl (a bigger one that can fit all the ingredients), mix the wet ingredients. Combine the dry and wet mixtures with a rubber spatula. As always, don’t mix too much – muffin batter really is a little lumpier than cake batter, so just mix until you can’t see flour specks anymore!
Fill the muffin cups, always to only 3/4 full. Sprinkle a few white chocolate chips on the top and bake for 20 minutes, or until they pass the toothpick test! 🙂
Let them cool down on a rack and CHOW DOWN!
As I had already made donut muffins, I decided to skip the topping this time. No regrets! 🙂 If you’re like my dad, who doesn’t care for raw blueberries, you should know that they are much tastier once baked!
For 12 muffins, you’ll need
255 g flour
100 g sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup buttermilk – I can’t buy buttermilk at the store, so I make my own, by putting 1 Tbsp lemon juice (vinegar would work too) in the measuring cup, filling it to the 3/4 mark with whole milk, and letting it sit for 10-15 minutes.
90 g butter, melted
Zest of 1 lemon – do not omit, it makes all the difference!
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup blueberries – mine were frozen, and they went from the freezer straight to the batter!
Start by preparing the buttermilk and melting the butter – if you want to be savvy, melt the butter in a pan that is big enough to mix the batter! 😀
Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl using a whisk to make sure everything is nicely mixed and lump-free.
When the melted butter cools down a bit, mix in the eggs, the vanilla extract, and the buttermilk. Add the dry mix and mix A LITTLE with a rubber spatula – don’t mix the batter too much, or the muffins will harden: when you can’t see specks of flour, you’re done!
Add the blueberries to the batter and pour into the muffin cups – remember to fill only to 3/4 of the capacity, so they won’t overflow in the oven!
Bake for 25 minutes, or until they are golden/toothpick comes out clean… you know the deal. Let them cool on a wire rack – if you try to eat them while they’re hot, the dough sticks to the paper liner; it’s a nightmare. #truestory #learnedbydoing
To freeze: just place the cooled muffins in a ziploc bag! 🙂 They should last up to three months in the freezer, but only if you forget they are there, otherwise they get eaten WELL BEFORE that! 😀