CHOCOLATE CHIP & BUCKWHEAT COOKIES … Hot Cross Cookies for Easter!!

“And if the Easter Bunny had wings, he would fly.”
John Reeves
Back from a short holiday and back to the mundanities which include making breakfast! Why do vacations come to an end so quick? Egg time with the kids on an Easter break … Roald Dahl inspired hot house egg for junior, and French toast for the daughter. Bored out of my mind, I began to look for something more fulfilling to do. Eggs remind me of Easter and I decided to put the empty egg shells to good use.
I love doodling, so I emptied the eggs out carefully after making a tiny hole at one end. Also thought I would make some buckwheat chocolate chip cookies a little later in the day. That offered me the bonus of more egg shells, and importantly the added bonus of egg whites for macarons for MacTweets! Egg-citing times to kill boredom!
Egg shells rinsed well, bereft of all eggy smells, I piped some white acrylic paint designs on them and let them dry. I would have liked to do them with stickers like Bethany, but couldn’t find any small stickers, so paint seemed the next best option for unedible egg shells. I would have loved to make Kinder Surprise Eggs like Joy, but too late; I didn’t boil them nor did I remove the inner membrane with my pinky finger!! Wasn’t sure how acrylic paint would react to boiling, so all plans abandoned.  This time I’ve got to be happy with Easter eggs safe in their nest with colours I like. The daughter chose the blue one as her fave, the son liked them all!
To make Sunday more worthwhile I made chocolate chip buckwheat cookies, buckwheat being my recent obsession, and a surprisingly welcome addition to these cookies. It offers a nice bite to the texture of the cookie, making them crisp and delicious … healthy too. The deep colour of the cookie is due to this dark nutty milled seed flour, which darkens on contact with liquid. Not very pretty cookies to look at, but pretty delicious!!
Energizing and nutritious, buckwheat is available throughout the year and can be served as an alternative to rice or made into porridge. While many people think that buckwheat is a cereal grain, it is actually a fruit seed that is related to rhubarb and sorrel making it a suitable substitute for grains for people who are sensitive to wheat or other grains that contain protein glutens. Buckwheat flowers are very fragrant and are attractive to bees that use them to produce a special, strongly flavored, dark honey. 
I made these cookies a while ago for the first time. At that time, I had used a lower ratio of buckwheat to flour as in the recipe below. At that time the weather was cooler and so 3 egg yolks worked well. My experiment was inspired with my success using this alternate nut flour in this Double Chocolate Espresso Biscotti.  This morning, I made them with equal flour and buckwheat, 3 egg yolks,  and they were still delicious, though they spread a teeny bit. With summer firmly set in and temperatures touching 40C, I think 2 egg yolks should work better to arrest the slight spreading of the cookies.
I made them into hot cross cookies because I didn’t have the time or energy to make hot cross buns, though I would have liked to! A theme, a holiday, a festival, an event all inspire me to think and mak something relevant. I love the connect, and so lavished some ‘hot crosses‘ on the cookies using a mixture of powderd sugar and a little milk! Happy Easter Sunday!!

CHOCOLATE CHIP & BUCKWHEAT COOKIES

Makes 3- 31/2 dozen cookies
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup vanilla sugar (or granulated)
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 cup plain flour
3/4 cup buckwheat flour
3 egg yolks (save the whites for macarons!!)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup mini chocolate chips
Method:
Place both flours, salt, baking soda and chocolate chips in a bowl and stir to mix well.
Beat butter, both sugars, egg yolks and vanilla extract till light and creamy, 2-3 minutes.
Fold in dry ingredients and mix uniformly. Drop with a tbsp or cookie scoop on ungreased sheets.
Bake about 15 minues till light golden brown.
Cool on cookie sheets for 1 minute, and then completely on racks.
Note: I made a second batch with 1 cup plain flour and 1 cup buckwheat flour, and those came out very nice as well. You can do either, or even substitute the buckwheat for whole wheat flour if buckwheat is not available.
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DARK CHOCOLATE ICE-CREAM…for days when life hands you yolks!!

“O when the yolks, come marchin’ in, O when the yolks come marching in,
There’s gonna be dessert tomorrow, O when the yolks come marchin’ in…”
These are pretty happy days for the family. Desserts of every kind entice them, and footfalls from the mac attack seem to be never ending! Faux tiramisu, mango mascarpone budini, basil sandwich cookies, flat pathetic macs … the sweet run continues. The last day of mac frenzy left me with something I didn’t particularly relish the thought of … egg yolks , and 6 of them! I’m pretty much an egg yolk hater. I’ve confessed this several times, yet have passion to bake. Eggs and baking go hand in hand most of the time. It’s one thing baking with full eggs, & another thing dealing with yolks. Have you ever had yolks and more yolks building up in the fridge? I know of a bunch of mac attackers that had just those… and I was one of ‘em! An involved & fun bunch of us stood up to a mac challenge on twitter very recently, and by then end of the frenzy, a number of us had many yolks, beautiful yolks on hand. If macarons were to be made only with yolks, there was no way I was in for the challenge! You see, the French macarons use just whites, and when you are mac challenged, you tend to use up many whites trying to get ‘feet’. However, when you are majorly mac challenged like me, obsessed about getting it right, and can try 6 times in a day, then it’s time for ice-cream! I made this delectable dark chocolate ice-cream from a book my daughter bought for me as a gift on my birthday in November last year. ‘Ice Cream‘ by Pippa Cuthbert & Lindsay Cameron Wilson is a “cheery little cookbook celebrates the innumerable pleasures of ice cream, from simple Milk Chocolate and fresh-tasting Strawberry to elaborate Raspberry and Kaffir Lime Leaf Sorbet. The authors provide a glossary of ice cream terminology and a useful guide to toasting nuts, caramelizing condensed milk and performing all the other steps necessary to churn up homemade ice creams, gelatos, yogurts and sorbets.”

I’m not an egg yolk ice-cream person at all. I’m much the eggless ice-cream lover, but life is unpredictable, and you can never say no. With the mantra of ‘waste not,’ which is held close to my heart, rather then throwing the yolks down the drain, I hung on to them. Ideas for yolks – cream patisserie, mayonnaise, creme caramel, custard, brulee …

…but in the back of my mind was this beautiful little book, the only dedicated ice-cream book I own. ICE-CREAM. It’s pure eye candy, with pick-me-up pictures and fun ideas. Leafing through the book, I could instantly find many good uses for the yolks. For a while, I got hopelessly distracted by eggless ice-creams like cinnamon and mascarpone ice-cream, ricotta ice-cream etc. Slapped my self back into focus, & reluctantly returned to the eggy ones. A foodie’s got to do what a foodie’s got to do…

The recipe in the book is described as… “this recipe was inspired by Italian food writer Marcella Hazan’s Chocolate Gelato, first published in her book Marcella’s Kitchen. It’s dark, velvety and divine.” As much as I enjoyed making it, I just couldn’t get myself to taste it. The hub tried very hard to convince me to have a T E E N Y bit as there wasn’t the faintest of eggy smells, the kids loved it & asked for seconds…but not me. I shall wait for eggless. It’s psychosomatic & I know it; that’s the tragedy of the wiring in my brain. Weird!!

You might wonder why I got my ice-cream into this shape. Actually, not very long ago, my sis sent me this fluted baking tin thinking I would conjure up some magic in it, baking little cakes on the go. Little did she know that it was a fluted brioche mold, & brioches are breads rich in egg & butter. A few conversations later, we knew that the tin had to be used for something else. I don’t like bread with eggs, breads rich in eggs even less. So the other day, while making the ice-cream, I thought it would be nice to set it in this fluted mold to add some fun quotient. I did just that, after lining the tin with clingwrap. I also added some crushed failed macs to the tin just before leaving it to set finally. I made the ice-cream by hand, since I don’t own an ice-cream maker, & it came out really smooth & rich. No crystals, just pure deep chocolate heaven ( as per the feedback from my happy tasters)!

Dark Chocolate Ice Cream
adapted from Ice-Creams
by Pippa Cuthbert & Lindsay Cameron Wilson, pg 33
Makes 600ml (1 pt)
Ingredients:
6 egg yolks (4 large; our Indian yolks are very small)
1/2 vanilla bean
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
125g plus 2 tbsps vanilla sugar
500ml full cream milk/whole milk
100gm dark chocolate, broken into pieces, melted
45g cocoa powder

Method:
In a heat proof bowl, whisk the egg yolks, seeds of 1/2 a vanilla pod, vanilla extract and 125gms vanilla sugar till thick & creamy.
Gently heat the milk to near-boiling point, then pour into the bowl of egg mixture, beating well.
Beat the melted chocolate into the egg mixture, followed by the cocoa.
Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water and stir with a wooden spoon until the bubbles deflate and the mixture coats the back of the spoon. remove from heat
Meanwhile, in a very small saucepan, make a caramel, combining the 2 tbsps sugar with 2 tbsp of water. Boil the mixture until it turns a dark amber in colour, swirling the pan as it begins to darken. (It is ready at 180C on a sugar thermometer)
Whisk the caramel into the chocolate until smooth – it will sizzle. Cover the surface with cling film & let it cool. (I cooled it over an ice water bath, stirring often.)
Leave in the fridge for at least an hour, then churn in an ice cream maker. if you don’t have one, like me, whisk every hour to break down crystals. Serve or transfer to a freezer container, cover the surface with foil & put in the freezer.

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GINGER LEMON-GRASS CREME BRULEE …TASTE OF YELLOW

“For me it was always a simple passion”
Lance Armstrong

This is a sunshine post for Barbara of Winos & Foodies. She’s back with her ‘ Taste of Yellow‘ event, and my yolks were screaming yellow at me. In Barbara’s words, “LiveSTRONG With A Taste Of Yellow is my way of supporting the Lance Armstrong Foundation by raising awareness of cancer issues world wide. It is a way for all food and wine bloggers to share their stories. The happy and the sad, the struggles and the triumphs. If you are lucky and have not be touched by cancer you are still welcome to participate.” The Yellow Wristband Project
For champion cyclist and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong, yellow is more than just the color of the Tour de France’s leader jersey. It’s a symbol for hope, courage, and perseverance. Today, more than 47.5 million LIVESTRONG wristbands have been sold since they were first made available in May of 2004 to raise funds for the programs of the Lance Armstrong Foundation (LAF).

I’ve been meaning to make creme brulee or at least creme custard for ages, but my dislike for eggy smells has kept me at bay. No longer though. Now that I finally had this lovely big bag of vanilla beans that Ria managed to source for me from South India, I had to make the custard right away.

The elegant dessert creme brulee has a thick pudding base of cream and eggs topped by a delicate layer of caramelized sugar. In French, “creme brulee” means “burnt cream,” which refers to the process by which sprinkled sugar gets heated to a temperature that caramelizes it to a delicious brown. The traditional method of cooking this type of custard has evolved many flavored variations.

My custard is a fusion of flavours, Thai I think. I had ginger in the fridge, and lots of lemon grass growing in my little patch outside, so I googled for ideas. There I was – A Ginger Lemon-Grass Creme Brulee I found here. None of the flavours in the custard were overpowering or overwhelming. Just simple subtle flavours, combining elegantly to flavour the custard. Simple enough to be enjoyed by the kids too. I did have trouble with the brulee though since I don’t have a blow torch. It took forever for the sugar to caramelise under the hot grill & I was a bit wary of my custard melting. 4 ramekins later, I cheated a little and took a shortcut for the remaining few. I caramelised some sugar to very brown in a pan & quickly poured it on top of the chilled custard. Tilted the ramekins immediately to spread it, kept it thin… Unauthentic, but it got me to some sort of brulee stage alright! Later even tried to spin some sugar with not very good results!
Ginger Lemon-Grass Creme Brulee
Adapted from recipe by Eric Lanlard from Glamour Puds
Ingredients:
400ml single cream
125ml whole milk
6 large eggs
100g of caster sugar
1 vanilla pod
2 stem of lemongrass, chopped
1 stem of fresh ginger
Demerara sugar for sprinkling

Method:

Preheat the oven to 140C.
Put the ginger and lemon grass in a pestle and mortar and bruise well to release flavours.
In a saucepan add the cream, milk, split vanilla pod and the lemongrass and ginger paste then heat slowly until hot but not boiling. Leave to infuse for an hour. (or overnight which is what I did). Reheat to almost boiling just before use.
In a mixing bowl whisk the eggs with the sugar until white and fluffy. Slowly pour the hot cream over the egg mixture mixing continuously.
Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve.
Pour the cream into lightly greased ramekins bake it for approximately 30 minutes until the mixture is wobbly.

Leave to cool down. Cover the ramekins with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, about 2 hours, or even overnight.
Sprinkle about 2 tsps demerara sugar on the top of each and caramelize with a blow torch for 1-2 minutes before serving. Or set the ramekins on a baking sheet and slide it under the broiler. Broil, watching constantly and rotating the pan for even caramelization, until the toppings are bubbling and a rich brown, about 2 or 3 minutes, depending on the intensity of the heat.

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