11 August 2017

HOT DOG PRETZEL BITES

These simple soft and chewy pretzel bites are super easy to make, and very addictive. Crispy on the outside and very soft on the inside. Combined with the hot dogs, they really make a simple, yet very delicious treat for the little ones. As with all pretzels, the process is quite simple, with a slow rise, and not much kneading, but it does have a step you do not want to skip - the baking soda solution. Dipping the pretzel bites into the water and baking soda solution before baking gives them a lovely colour and texture. If you like, you can sprinkle them with coarse salt before baking.


Ingredients
For the dough
450 grams plain flour
1 ½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon yeast
350 ml lukewarm water
2 tablespoons light olive oil
6 hot dogs (rød pølse, braadworst)
For the baking soda solution
1 ½ litre recently boiled water
2 tablespoons baking soda

Preparation
Sift the flour twice, then add it to a large bowl. Add in the yeast, mix it really well, then add in the salt, and mix well again. Make a little well in the centre and pour in half of the water, then, using a wooden spoon, mix the ingredients until a dough starts to form. Add in the rest of the water, and knead until a soft and pliable dough forms. The dough should be soft and shouldn't stick to your hands. Add in the olive oil, and knead it in. At first, it will seem that the dough does not absorb the oil, but keep kneading it in the bowl, and after a minute or two, it will absorb all of it. As soon as the dough becomes ever so slightly tacky, stop kneading. Place the dough in a large bowl, cover it with plastic wrap and leave it in a warm spot for at least 12 hours.
Once the dough has risen, transfer it to a floured surface and knead it for a minute or two, just to make it elastic. Divide it into 18 equal pieces (you can use a kitchen scale to make them equal by weight) and flatten each piece into a circle. Cut up the hot dogs into three parts, then place each piece of hot dog on a dough circle, and wrap the dough around the hot dog tightly. Ideally, fully wrap the dough around, so no hot dog is showing. Let them rest for about 30 minutes in a warm spot.
While the dough is resting, combine the water and baking soda in a large container. Carefully whisk until the baking soda is completely dissolved. Take two large baking sheets, line them with baking paper and keep them close to dough pieces. Dip each pretzel bite in the baking soda solution for 30 seconds, then remove them with a slotted spoon, and place them on the baking sheet. As soon as you finish dipping all of the pieces of the dough, bake them in a preheated oven, at 200˚C (400˚F) for 15-18 minutes or until they are golden. Take them out of the oven and immediately brush them with melted butter, so they stay nice and soft once they start cooling down. Serve them hot, with a spicy dipping sauce. Yields 18 hot dog pretzel bites.
Baker’s note: If you want, you can sprinkle the pretzel bites with coarse salt before baking.

28 July 2017

RED VELVET BROWNIES FOR TWO

I feel like many associate red velvet desserts with Valentine's day only. In reality, they are a great addition to any dessert platter, no matter what holiday or time of the year it is. These lovely, bright red brownies are chewy and dense, just like a brownie should be, but with a tiny tanginess from the buttermilk, which is traditional for red velvet desserts.
Now, since food colourings come in many different forms, you may need to experiment a bit in order to get the shade of red that you like. My personal experience with colouring desserts, particularly red ones, says that the best type of food colouring is the gel kid, closely followed by the liquid food colouring, although this may vary depending on the manufacturer.


Ingredients
75 grams butter
75 grams brown sugar
50 grams dark chocolate, chopped
1 medium egg
1 ½ tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons buttermilk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon deep red gel food colouring
45 grams plain flour

Preparation
As with many brownies, start by melting together the chocolate, butter, and cocoa powder. Melt them over low heat, or in a double-boiler until smooth and silky. Heating the cocoa powder will enhance its flavour. Once melted, remove it from the heat, and let it cool down slightly, then add in the brown sugar. Whisk briefly, until the batter cools down enough so it does not scorch the egg, then add in the egg, and mix vigorously. Add in the buttermilk, vinegar, and the food colouring, and blend it well.
Finally, sift in the flour, and mix it gently, only until you can no longer see large streaks of flour. Take a small loaf pan (9x5”), line it with baking paper, then pour in the batter, and bake it in a preheated oven, at 170°C (340°F), for about 12-15 minutes. Make sure you check them with a toothpick, so they do not overbake. Once baked, remove them from the oven, let them cool down to your liking, I recommend letting them fully cool down, then serve with your favourite red velvet topping. Yields 2 generous servings.

21 July 2017

OVERNIGHT CHOCOLATE CINNAMON ROLLS

Cinnamon rolls and a tall glass of cold milk have the status of an iconic breakfast, a true classic loved by many. This is a slightly richer, extraordinary version of the famous rolls. With lots of cinnamon and chocolate, they make for a perfect breakfast, and a perfect sweet treat. The best part about them is that you can make them in the evening, let them slowly rise in the refrigerator overnight, then just remove and bake in the morning!
Perfect for busy mornings, or those lazy, hazy Sundays. They are also really great for picnics - just bake them in a disposable pan, and you can use it to transport them. You can adorn them with a drizzle of an icing of your choice, but as you know, I am not a fan of icings on cinnamon rolls, so I opted to serve them without it. And if you are feeling really jovial, you can serve them with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream!


Ingredients
For the cinnamon dough
400 grams plain flour
3 tablespoons icing sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon dry yeast
120 grams vanilla yogurt
180 warm water
1 tablespoon oil
For the chocolate cinnamon filling
120 grams butter, softened
100 grams light brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
200 grams cooking chocolate

Preparation
Sift the flour into a large bowl, then sift in the icing sugar, add in the yeast and cinnamon, and whisk well. Make a hole in the centre, then pour in the lukewarm water, oil, and yogurt. Start mixing slowly with a wooden spoon (or a sturdy spatula) until a shaggy dough comes together. Proceed to knead it by hand for about 5 minutes, or until the dough becomes smooth and springy to the touch. If it sticks too much to your hands or the work surface, add a tiny bit of flour more.
Let it rest at room temperature for 10 minutes, then roll it out into a square (30x30 cm). Be patient with the dough, and if starts to shrink back, let it rest for a few more minutes. Spread the softened butter evenly on the dough, then sprinkle on the cinnamon. Evenly sprinkle the light brown sugar over the cinnamon, then evenly spread the chopped up chocolate.
Gently and evenly roll the dough up into a log, then slice it up into twelve equal rolls, and arrange them in a small baking pan (18x18 cm), lined with baking paper. Cover them snugly with cling film, and place them into the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight. Next morning, or when you are ready to bake, remove the cling film, and let them sit at room temperature for 30 minutes, to warm up and rise slightly, then bake in a preheated oven, at 180°C (350°F), for 15-20 minutes. Yields 12 rolls.

14 July 2017

RASPBERRY RUM CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES

Raspberries and dark chocolate is one of the classics, and one of the most favourite flavour pairings in desserts. With an addition of rum, this combination becomes even better. Using fresh raspberries is maybe the crucial element in this dessert, because they give such an amazing burst of fresh flavours. And, since they are in season now, what better time to make this lovely sweet treat!
I do not recommend increasing the amount of rum, because it can be overpowering. You can increase the amount of Chambord, if you wish, though. And, you can very easily make these vegan, too, by using dairy-free butter, vegan yogurt, and an appropriate icing sugar.


Ingredients
For the brownies
100 grams dark chocolate
120 grams unsalted butter
200 grams granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon dark rum
5 tablespoons plain yogurt
150 grams plain flour
30 grams unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
For the raspberry rum chocolate sauce
120 ml fresh raspberry purée
2 tablespoons cold water
100 grams granulated sugar
30 grams unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon dark rum
To make the truffles
50 grams miniature chocolate chips, chopped finely
1 tablespoon freeze-dried raspberry powder
1 tablespoon Chambord liqueur


Start by cooking the syrup, because it needs a bit of time to cool down sufficiently. Place the sugar into a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Sift the cocoa powder to get rid of all the little lumps, then add it to the sugar and mix really well. Pour in the water, and the fruit puree, and mix it to combine. Place the saucepan over medium high heat and let it come to a boil without stirring.
Once it starts to boil, start the timer, and start whisking the sauce. You need to whisk because it can easily burn. Continue cooking and whisking for about 3 minutes, on medium heat, or until the sauce thickens. Remove it from the heat, add the rum, and stir well. It will still be runny when it's piping hot, so do not overcook it. Set the syrup aside and let it cool down to room temperature.
To make the brownies, start by melting together the butter and dark chocolate, over medium high heat, until smooth and combined. Remove it from the heat, and add in the sugar, vanilla, and rum. Mix well, and set it aside briefly. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, and the baking soda, into a large bowl.


Pour over the chocolate batter, and mix it gently, then add the yogurt, and mix to combine. The batter will be thick. Line a small square pan (20x20 cm), add in the batter, level it as much as possible, then bake, in a preheated oven, at 180°C (350°F), for about 20 minutes. Check them with a toothpick to make sure they do not overbake. Once done, remove them from the heat, and then from the pan, and let them cool down to room temperature.
When the brownies are at room temperature, place them into a large bowl, and crumble them up using a fork. Add in the freeze-dried raspberry powder, liqueur, and the syrup you made earlier. Start mixing the batter by hand, by using a wooden spoon or a very sturdy spatula, then add the miniature chocolate chips, and mix everything well. If you wish, you can use a stand mixer for this, as well. Place the mixture in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, so it can firm up. Once it is ready, make the truffles by using a small scoop, and roll them into your desired topping. If the batter becomes too sticky, return it briefly to the refrigerator. Yields 25 truffles. © TINA VESIĆ
Baker's note: I chose a mixture of unsweetened cocoa powder, icing sugar, and desiccated coconut, but you can choose anything you like, that pairs well with raspberries.

07 July 2017

BEER BARS

Beer is actually the world's oldest and also one of the most popular drinks, along with water and tea. Although beer can be used in sweet pastries, I usually use it in savoury ones. Primarily because those were the ones I started with, but also because I like how it pairs with sauces and stews. When baking with beer, the dough tends to be very flaky, with much less used fat, and I like that texture.
Now, all beers produced today can be divided into two groups – ales and lagers. I used the Löwenbräu original in this recipe, but if you are not a fan of it, use another pale lager that you prefer. Always cook with ingredients you like, and of course, even in pastries never use a beer you wouldn't want to drink. You can spice up the dip, though. Use more Sriracha if you wish, and you can add a bit of chili powder, too.


Ingredients
For the beer bars
400 grams all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon paprika
100 ml vegetable oil
1 medium egg
150 ml light beer
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, for brushing before baking
1 tablespoon of butter, optional
For the spicy dipping sauce
100 grams mayonnaise
2 tablespoons Sriracha, or to taste


Preparation
Sift the flour with the baking powder, add salt and paprika and whisk well. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg with the oil, then add the beer and blend well. It will foam up a bit, but that is fine. Add about half of the dry ingredients to the beer mixture, and mix well with a wooden spoon. Keep adding the rest of the flour, while mixing with a wooden spoon until you get a soft dough that doesn't stick to your hands. Transfer it to a floured counter and knead it for a few more minutes, to make it more elastic.
Depending on your flour, you may need to add another tablespoon or two, while you knead. Roll the dough out to about 5 mm thickness, and using a pizza wheel, cut out dough bars of desired size. Arrange them on a baking sheet lined with baking paper, brush them with oil and bake them in a preheated oven at 200˚C (400˚F) for 10-12 minutes. If you wish, as soon as you take them out of the oven, brush them with butter (for a softer crust) and serve warm with a spicy mix of mayonnaise and Sriracha sauce. Yields 32 beer bars.