26 August 2016

PIZZA POCKETS

Pizza pastry is always a hit, whether it is served at a party, as a snack, or even dinner. These pastries are so soft and delicately crispy, and the filling is full of cheese, tomato sauce and smoked ham. They are quite large, so each one makes a generous serving, and this recipe can easily feed a crowd. You can serve them hot or cold, as you would serve regular pizza.

Giant pizza pockets recipe tinascookings.blogspot.com

Ingredients
For the starter
120 ml lukewarm water
30 grams fresh yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons plain flour
For the dough
900 grams plain flour
240 ml lukewarm water
250 grams plain yogurt
100 ml extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
For the filling
200 grams smoked ham, diced
300 grams Edam cheese, shredded
300 grams tomato sauce
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
¼ teaspoon garlic powder

Preparation
To make the starter, crumble the fresh yeast in a medium bowl, sprinkle in the sugar and flour, then gently pour over the lukewarm water. Mix it, and let it sit for about 30 minutes in a warm spot, so the yeast can activate. Once the mixture is bubbling, proceed with the dough. Pour the starter in a large bowl, add the lukewarm water, yogurt, oil, and salt, then start sifting in the flour while you mix with a wooden spoon.
Keep sifting in the flour and mixing until you use up all of the flour and the dough starts pulling away from the sides of the bowl. Sprinkle the work surface with flour, turn the dough out and knead it for at least 5 minutes, or until it becomes smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a large, clean bowl, cover the top with plastic wrap, and let it sit until doubled in size, about an hour to an hour and a half. When the dough has risen, take it out of the bowl, and knead it well or a floured work surface. Return it to the bowl, and let it rise again. It should take less than an hour, because the dough always rises more quickly the second time.
While the dough is rising, prepare the filling. Dice the ham (small dice works best), shred the cheese, and mix them in a large bowl. Add the seasoning and mix well. Add the tomato sauce, and mix thoroughly, so that it is distributed as evenly as possible.
Take the risen dough out of the bowl onto a well-floured surface, gently knead it, then roll it up to about 5mm (¼-inch) thickness. Using a large biscuit cutter, cut out 15 cm (6-inch) circles of dough. Place a part of the filling in the centre of each circle, fold the dough over itself, and tightly press the ends with a tines of the fork, so the filling doesn’t leak out while baking.
Gather all the dough scraps, knead and roll them again, then proceed to cut out circles and fill them until you use up all of the ingredients. Place the pizza pockets or three large baking sheets, and let them rise for about 30 minutes, while the oven is preheating. Brush them with some more extra virgin olive oil just before baking, and bake them in a preheated oven, at 200°C (400°F), for about 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve them with some additional pizza sauce, if desired. Yields 18 large pizza pastries.

19 August 2016

CHOCOLATE-COVERED COCONUT RUM TRUFFLES

Rum and chocolate mix and mingle really well in desserts. And it's even better if there is coconut involved. These truffles are quite easy to make, but they require some time to cool down, so they could be shaped. The reason why the batter is so soft is pretty simple - it makes the dessert light and creamy inside of a crispy chocolate shell. They basically melt in your mouth. You do not have to shape them into truffles, they could very easily be piped or spread into moulds, and then coated in chocolate.
The only advice I have is to keep them refrigerated before coating in chocolate, as they soften up pretty quickly at room temperature. This will not be a problem once they are coated, of course, as the chocolate shell shall keep them from melting. Once they are out of the fridge, you need to work quickly. While coating them, remove only a few at a time, and coat them quickly. They will keep refrigerated for up to 5 days.

Chocolate-covered coconut rum truffles recipe tinascookings.blogspot.com

Ingredients
150 grams butter, softened
150 grams mashed potatoes
300 grams icing sugar
100 grams powdered milk
200 grams desiccated coconut
6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons dark rum
400 grams chocolate, for coating

Preparation
To make the mashed potatoes, you can slightly heat up leftover mashed potatoes, or simply boil them until tender, then mash them with a potato masher. Make sure they are room temperature or colder, if they are too hot, they will melt the butter. Once they are ready, proceed with the preparations. Place the softened butter in a large bowl and beat it with an electric mixer on high, for at least 2-3 minutes, until it becomes smooth and creamy. Sift in the icing sugar and continue mixing on high for another 3 minutes, until really well blended. Add in the mashed potatoes and blend on the highest setting you have, for about 3-5 minutes, until completely smooth. Sift in the powdered milk and unsweetened cocoa powder, add the rum, and blend well.
Finally, add the desiccated coconut and mix once again. The batter will be rather soft, so you will not be able to roll them into truffles. Place the batter into a large flat container and cover the top with plastic wrap, so it doesn't dry out in the refrigerator. Let the batter chill overnight or for at least 6 hours. It should be still soft, but firmed up enough for you to shape the truffles. Once the batter is ready, take out teaspoons of the batter, roll it into truffles, and set them on baking paper, then return them to the fridge for the time being. Melt and temper the chocolate, then take the truffles out of the fridge, only a few at a time, glaze each one with chocolate, and let them sit on parchment paper until set. Yields 35 truffles.
Note: You can substitute dark rum for coconut rum, if you wish.

12 August 2016

BUTTERY DINNER ROLLS

Who says dinner rolls have to be plain and round? These little flowers are buttery, soft and fluffy, not to mention super fun for the little ones. By rubbing the butter in the flour you get a flaky texture almost resembling flaky pastry, and the yogurt gives it a tangy taste and keeps it fresh even the next day. The most important thing about making these is to keep the dough at room temperature before the baking. If the room is too warm, the butter may start to melt and you will have a very difficult time kneading and shaping the dough.

Buttery dinner rolls recipe tinascookings.blogspot.com

Ingredients
450 grams plain flour
100 grams butter
2 ½ teaspoons dried yeast
200 grams plain yogurt
120 ml lukewarm water
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, for brushing

Preparation
Dice the butter into small cubes and place it in the freezer for about 10 minutes. Sift the flour twice and place half of it in a large bowl. Add the chilled butter and rub it in the flour. You can rub it between your fingers or use a pastry blender. Once you have a fine mixture of butter and flour, add a bit more flour and rub it in the same way. Take a medium bowl and pour in the yogurt, salt and the lukewarm water. Make sure the water is not too warm, because the butter will start to melt and you will not be able to knead the dough properly. Add the rest of the flour and the yeast to the bowl with the butter and flour, whisk well and make a well in the centre. Pour in the wet ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon until the dough starts to form, then flour your work surface and knead the dough with your hands for a few minutes.
Place it back in the bowl, cover with a kitchen towel and let it rise for about an hour to an hour and a half at room temperature. If the room is too warm, the butter may start to melt. Once the dough has risen, gently knead it on a floured surface and divide it into 16 equal pieces. You can weigh the dough and divide it by weight, or just divide it approximately. Shape each dough piece into a ball, then arrange them on a large baking sheet lined with baking paper. If you wish, you can make six cuts into the each dough ball (not all the way through, you do not wish to cut it in half) so it resembles a flower. Let them rest for about 30 minutes at room temperature, then brush them with the oil and bake them in a preheated oven, at 200˚C (400˚F), for about 15 minutes.

05 August 2016

STRAWBERRY DREAM CAKE

When you love strawberries, there really is no wrong way of eating them. They can be a part of many dishes, sweet and savoury, and today they are a part of a lovely birthday cake. Sweet, spongy strawberry cake layers, sandwiched together by a delicious vanilla and strawberry filling, and all that enveloped in a generous coat of vanilla bean paste frosting. It is as fragrant, as it is delicious. The epitome of summer.
Try your best not to overmix the batter, because that will make the cake dry; and, what's equally important - do not overbake it. Because it's such a small cake, it doesn't require a lot of baking, so pay close attention to it. It is fine if the sides turn a little brown, that can be trimmed before frosting. As far as proper storing goes, keep it refrigerated until serving time, and you can even place it in the freezer for 30 minutes to an hour, it will make the cake almost ice-cream like.


Ingredients
For the strawberry cake layers
180 grams plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
100 grams granulated sugar
2 medium egg whites
180 ml whole milk
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons strawberry extract
1 drop strawberry red gel food colouring
For the filling
120 ml whole milk
3 tablespoons plain flour
1 whole vanilla bean
100 grams caster (superfine) sugar
150 grams butter, softened
1 tablespoon freeze-dried strawberries, crushed
¼ teaspoon strawberry red gel food colouring
For the vanilla frosting
200 ml whole milk
5 tablespoons plain flour
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
100 grams caster (superfine) sugar
200 grams butter, softened
For the white chocolate ganache
100 grams real white chocolate
4 tablespoons heavy cream
1 drop strawberry red gel food colouring

Preparation
Take a large bowl and sift the flour with the baking powder twice, add sugar and whisk well. In another bowl, whisk the whole milk with the oil, add in the food colouring and strawberry extract, and whisk really well. Add the wet ingredients into the dry, add in the egg whites, and blend everything well by hand. Take two small round pans (10 cm; 4”), grease the bottoms and sides, then line them with baking paper. The paper should go high up the sides, to prevent the spilling. Evenly distribute the batter, and bake, in a preheated oven, at 180°C (350°F) for about 20-25 minutes. Check them with a toothpick, and let them cool completely.
While the cakes are cooling, start with the filling. Pour the milk into a heavy-bottomed saucepan, add in the flour, sugar, and the beans from the vanilla bean, and whisk everything thoroughly. Place the saucepan over medium heat, and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens. It will coat the back of the spoon, and it will resemble a cooked pudding. It should take about 5 minutes or so. Remove it from the heat and let it cool down to room temperature or even slightly cooler. Once the custard has cooled, place the softened butter into a large bowl, and beat it with an electric mixer on high, for about 3 minutes, until it becomes lighter in colour, and completely creamy. At this point, start adding the cooked base, a tablespoon at a time, beating on high constantly. Divide the frosting into three equal parts, and add the freeze-dried strawberries, and the food colouring to one of the bowls. Mix well and set it aside.
Make the frosting in the same way - pour the milk into a heavy-bottomed saucepan, add in the flour and sugar, and whisk everything thoroughly. Place the saucepan over medium heat, and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens. Same as before, it should thicken up enough to coat the back of the spoon (about 5 minutes). Remove it from the heat and let it cool down to room temperature. Once the base has cooled, place the softened butter into a large bowl, add in the vanilla bean paste, and beat it with an electric mixer on high, for about 3 minutes, until it becomes lighter in colour, and completely creamy. At this point, start adding the cooked base, a tablespoon at a time, beating on high constantly. Set the finished frosting aside.
To assemble the cake, start by levelling the cakes if they rose unevenly. Cut the levelled cakes into two layers. Take a bit of frosting and spread it on the serving platter (to keep the cake from moving while you frost). Place the first cake layer on the platter, and spread a third of the vanilla filling you made earlier. Place the second cake layer on top, then spread the strawberry filling evenly. Place the third cake layer on top of that, spread on the remaining vanilla filling, and place on the final cake layer. Take three thin cake dowels and insert them into the cake in a triangular manner into the cake, then trim to level them. Place the cake for about 10 minutes in the freezer to firm it up, then use the vanilla frosting to crumb coat the entire cake. Place it bake into the freezer for another 10 minutes, then evenly frost the entire cake, smoothing out the frosting as you work. Let the cake sit in the refrigerator for at least a few hours.
While the frosted cake is chilling, make the Ganache. Melt together the white chocolate and heavy cream over low heat or in the microwave, then add in the food colouring and mix until well incorporated. Let the Ganache cool a bit more, so it doesn't melt the frosting. Once the Ganache is ready, remove the cake from the refrigerator and pour it over the top of the cake, and down the sides. Decorate the cake further with some white chocolate dragees, and return it to the refrigerator for at least 8 hours. Yields 4 servings.

29 July 2016

MOCHA CHOCOLATE MOUSSE

Coffee and chocolate are a match made in heaven. They really complement each other perfectly, and make for a lovely dessert. Even a lovelier dessert if it involves no baking. Smooth chocolate crème, light and airy coffee mousse, and a fluffy layer of freshly whipped heavy cream. A fantastic dessert done in no time, and always a good idea for parties or quick sweet treat after lunch.

Mocha chocolate mouse recipe tinascookings.blogspot.com

Ingredients
For the chocolate crème
120 ml heavy whipping cream
100 grams good quality milk chocolate
For the mocha mousse
120 ml heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
4 tablespoons boiling water
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons unflavoured gelatine (140 bloom)
2 tablespoons cold water
For the garnish
200 ml heavy cream
chocolate-covered espresso beans

Mocha chocolate mouse recipe tinascookings.blogspot.com

Preparation
To make the chocolate crème base, break the chocolate bar into small pieces, place it in a saucepan, and pour the heavy cream over it. Place the saucepan over medium heat, and let everything slowly melt together. Once melted, remove the crème from the heat and let it cool slightly. Take 4 serving glasses, and evenly pour in the chocolate. Place them in the refrigerator to set the crème.
Once the chocolate part it set, proceed to make the mocha mousse. Pour the cold water into a small bowl, sprinkle in the gelatine, and let it sit for about 10 minutes, to bloom. Take another small bowl, add the espresso powder and the boiling water, mix well, and let the coffee cool down to room temperature, then add the honey, and mix very well. Beat the chilled heavy cream until very soft peaks form, pour in the coffee, and continue mixing.
Melt the bloomed gelatine over low heat, then take a teaspoon or two of the coffee mixture, mix it well with the gelatine, then pour everything back in the bowl, and mix to combine. It will look very runny, but that is fine. Divide it evenly between the four serving glasses, pouring gently over the chocolate layer, and return the glasses in the refrigerator. Once this layer has set, whip the heavy cream, spread it over the mousse, decorate with chocolate-covered espresso beans, and serve. Yields 4 servings.