Tag Archives: Lime

Tangy Lime and Coconut Crumble Bars

Lime & Coconut Low Fodmap Bars_6107_wm_4x5

It can sometimes take a long time to come full circle on a promise.  Sometimes, it can take a full fifteen months before you make good and deliver … *whistles as she looks around aimlessly, avoiding eye contact with the computer screen*.  Remember those yummy Coconut & Lime Bars I posted in October 2011?  I mentioned then that I usually make two kinds. The kind I posted then and a more tangy version, where the lime is the star of the filling.  I kept meaning to post the tangy one … but … ummmm … *looks away again, whistling nervously*

So here I am, fifteen months have flown by, and we’re all of us a little older.  I’m still making lime and coconut bars from time to time, but am finally posting the recipe.    With a bit of luck on my side, I managed to get a few minutes to take some snapshots of said bars before they started to disappear.  Literally.  Two to three minutes :-/  They are popular in this household.  Which is rather flattering, I know, but it was also a little annoying today.   You see, I made them for me this time.  I have gone back to the beginning with a low FODMAP elimination diet as I have had some random flare ups and just wanted to know why.  Having an intolerance to fructose, fructans, and polyols is a harsh restriction on one’s diet (especially when one loves mangoes so much one uses the word in the name of her blog, right?).

Most of the time, I am happy to bake up a storm, knowing I can have a small amount and let others reap the benefit of my labours.  Today, I needed to bake a treat that I could enjoy, due to the frustration of having another food intol fail, despite adhering to strict elimination diet guidelines.  Well, I guess, I may just be reacting to something that others generally tolerate well.  Frustration is a good thing to work off in the kitchen and tomorrow is another day, so the upside of this story is that

WE HAVE LIME AND COCONUT CRUMBLE BARS!!!

These bars are very different to the standard sturdy citrus bar.  The crust is quite soft and thinner than your usual bar.  Much more like a soft pastry crust.  The filling is curd-like in texture and tangy with lime juice and zest.  You don’t have to top it all off with the coconut crumble but it adds another dimension and more texture to the bar, especially as the crust is so thin.  This is more a dessert than a snack bar … fabulous with a dollop of Greek yoghurt, crème fraîche, cream, or ice cream, or just on its own.

The coconut sugar gives the crumble and crust a lovely toffee-like flavour.  You don’t have to use coconut sugar.  If you prefer, this recipe works well with granulated white sugar for the crumble and crust, and icing sugar in the filling.  In truth, that is how this recipe began.  I just made the coconut sugar variation today … looking at the bars when cut, I was reminded of hazel eyes … all green and golden brown.

You can make the coconut crumble topping ahead of time.  Cover and refrigerate it until ready to use.

These bars are gluten-free and low FODMAP, except for anyone with a lactose intolerance, as butter is an ingredient of the crumble and crust layers.  I have suggested coconut butter as a substitute, or use whatever you love best in place of the butter.  They are also tree nut free.

I hope you enjoy these … despite the very very long wait!

Makes 12

Ingredients
Coconut Crumble
25 grams unsalted butter, softened*
15 grams coconut flour
25 grams granulated coconut sugar OR granulated white sugar

Crust
110 grams unsalted butter, softened*
75 grams granulated coconut sugar OR granulated white sugar
50 grams coconut flour
1/8 teaspoon salt

*If you are lactose intolerant, substitute coconut oil for the butter.  Make sure the coconut butter is solid at room temperature before using.

Lime Filling
235 grams whole eggs (about 5 x 50g in the shell)
125 grams icing sugar OR granulated coconut sugar
80 millilitres lime juice (about 4 limes)
4 grams lime zest, finely grated (from 4 limes)
30 grams coconut flour
green food colouring (optional)

Instructions
Coconut Crumble
Rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.  Stir through the sugar until well combined.  If making ahead, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Crust
Line a 20cm square cake tin with silicone baking paper.  Use a shallow pan or one with removable sides for easier removal of the bars.  Set aside.

In the bowl of a mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until light and the sugar is dissolved.  Add the coconut flour and salt, and mix until it comes together.  Press the dough into the base of the prepared tin.  Dust your fingers with coconut flour as the dough is soft and slightly sticky.  The crust layer will be quite fine.  You could roll it out but I have found it easier to press into the tin as the dough does not roll out easily as it is quite soft.  Chill for 20 to 30 minutes and preheat the oven to 180℃.

Bake the crust for about 10 minutes, until golden.  Remove from the oven.

Lime Filling
In the bowl of a mixer, whisk together the eggs and sugar (whichever one you use) until light.  Add the lime juice and zest, and the coconut flour.  Whisk until smooth.  The filling is quite fluid.  If you wish to add a little food colouring, do so now.  I don’t add it, but it’s a matter of preference.

Pour the filling over the crust as soon as it comes out of the oven.

Sprinkle the coconut crumble over the top as evenly as possible.

Return to the oven and bake for a further 12 to 15 minutes, until the filling is set.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin.  You can cut the bars when cool but it is much easier to chill the bars before slicing.  Use a pallet knife to lift them gently off the base of the pan, as the crust is very soft.

Store in an airtight container, in the refrigerator, for up to five days.

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Lime & Coconut Low Fodmap Bars_6109_wm_1x1

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Lime & White Rum Truffles

I cannot totally express my joy at spending an evening in my kitchen surrounded by the sight and aromas of sifted cacao and … oh my sweet criollo … melting couverture.  Since my week of chocolate abstinence, I’ve hardly eaten much chocolate.  Well, aside from those scrummy protein truffles, but I won’t count the raw cacao experience with all its bounty of antioxidants.  I’m pretty sure I consumed more chocolate last night than in the entire three weeks earlier.  It had to be done.  There were bowls of ganache and tempered chocolate to clean up, after all.  And quality control taste testing  😉

There’s something special about truffles.  They are undoubtedly the easiest chocolates to make but, like boiling an egg, or making the perfect piece of toast, perfecting a lovely shiny, creamy, and delectable ganache is an exercise in balance and patience, the ratio of chocolate to cream, the quantity of butter, and a little wrist action.

I promised I’d make proper truffles and so I have.   Citrus cocktail flavoured truffles … lime and white rum to be exact.   Badass enough for you?   You’re probably wondering why I didn’t make mango truffles.  Or chilli truffles.  Or chocolate chilli mango truffles.  I have.  I will.  But not today.  Too obvious.  Predictable.

These are just a sprig of mint away from being mojito truffles.   Adding mint to chocolate is lovely but would overpower the lime in these creamy centres and I want the lime to feature.  I love all citrus fruits with chocolate but lime and yuzu are my favourites.    Lime has a special astringent tang that I love with the bitterness of dark chocolate.  But that said, while I’m generally NOT a fan of white chocolate, lime and white chocolate are magic together too.  White chocolate is too sweet for me but the citrus acidity cuts through it nicely.

So what chocolate to use with the lime?  Well, you can use whatever takes your fancy.  I considered using a Valrhona Manjari as it’s got an astringent bite to it, but I went with a Valrhona Araguani instead.  It’s dark and intense but with a nutty smoothness that just screams suave Venezuelan.  Yes, I get a little carried away by chocolate.  More than a little.  A lot.   Short answer … a great match and contrast for the sharpness of lime and rum.    Note that the white rum is optional.  The alcohol is purely in a support role here.  The lime zest is the star attraction.

I tossed half the truffles in cacao and the other half enrobed in more Araguani for a crisp chocolate shell around the creamy ganache centre.  Directions are given for two methods, depending on your level of confidence and skill in working with chocolate.  The results for both are great.  When making truffles, I have always used what I’ve called the Purist’s Method, below.   This is the method I have used this time.  The ganache and resulting truffle centres are much creamier and softer, which I prefer.  Lovely traditional truffles.  In lovely irregular truffle shapes, as they should be.  I’m not a fan of perfect truffle spheres.  What truffle in nature has ever been found to be perfectly spherical?  See my point?  They wouldn’t be truffles, they’d just be chocolate balls.  Marbles.  Whatever.  🙂

The flavouring possibilities for truffles are endless of course and I give a few other citrusy variations below that I love, just to keep with the citrus theme.   I’ve used fresh plain old garden variety limes.  They are particularly good at the moment, with a fragrant and flavourful zest (and lots of juice inside).  You could use kalamansi lime … very trendy, everyone raves about it.  It’s lovely, but the zesty flavour of plain old lime is a thing of beauty too.

I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed making them.  I literally almost burst into song as I worked.

I’ve given two methods for preparing the truffles, below.  Which one you choose to use depends on your preference, confidence and skill in working with chocolate.  Tempering chocolate is not difficult, but even when you’ve had lots of practice, things can still go wrong, if the chocolate doesn’t crystallise correctly, and if it loses its “temper”.  There are a lot of sites on the Internet that give great directions for tempering chocolate.    If you do choose to use the method I prefer (I’ve called it the Purist’s Method), the ganache will remain fairly soft and creamy when set.  This gives you that luscious creamy truffle centre we all adore.  Plus, you can store the truffles airtight, in a cool dry place and they will keep fresh for at least 2 weeks, without the need for refrigeration.   If you use this method, do not be tempted to place the ganache or truffles in the fridge or freezer, even briefly.  The humidity within the refrigerator and freezer will cause condensation and the truffles will spoil at room temperature, when stored.  As soon as you decide to refrigerate or freeze them, you’ve chosen your path!  There’s nothing wrong with using the Refrigerator Method, below, however, and you can still soften the truffles at room temperature before serving.

Tempering
I didn’t have room on the bench for my marble slab yesterday so I used the seeding method to temper the chocolate for enrobing.  You will need a candy thermometer.  Melt half the chocolate in a heatproof (e.g. Pyrex) bowl over hot water, until smooth.  Add the remaining half of the chocolate and stir it with a spatula until melted.  Continue stirring quite vigorously and check the temperature.  You want the crystals to be small and even so that the chocolate shell will be shiny and snap beautifully, revealing the creamy truffle centre.  Don’t forget to scrape down any chocolate on the sides of the bowl.  It will be ready when the chocolate is around 32℃ for dark couverture.  A degree either side of this is OK.  Keep moving the chocolate with a spatula during the enrobing process to make sure it does not begin to cool down too quickly and set around the edges.

Variations
I love zesty citrus flavours with chocolate and citrus cocktail truffles are even better, although these are fabulous with just the citrus.  Some favourite combinations to try:

  • Lemon and Limoncello
  • Orange zest and Grand Marnier, Curacao, or Cointreau
  • Yuzu and Yuzu juice (don’t mess with the amazing yuzu)
  • Lime or Grapefruit and Tequila
  • Lime or Lemon with Malibu

These truffles also work really well with white or milk chocolate.

Makes 60 truffles (halve the recipe for a smaller batch)

Ingredients
380 grams Valrhona Araguani couverture (or your favourite with min 70% cacao)
300 grams cream (35% fat)
finely grated zest of 2 or 3 limes
60 grams butter, diced and softened
50 grams white rum (e.g. Bacardi)

For a sweeter truffle, add 30 grams light flavoured honey (e.g. orange blossom) or maple syrup

Enrobing
175 grams or 350 grams Valrhona Araguani couverture (or your favourite with min 70% cacao)*
unsweetened cacao

* If you wish to enrobe only half the truffles in tempered chocolate, as I did, use the smaller amount of chocolate indicated here.

Instructions
Chop the couverture into small even pieces and place in a large heatproof bowl.   Heat the cream and lime zest together in a saucepan until it comes to the boil.  If adding honey to sweeten, add it to the cream and zest before placing on the heat.  Remove from the heat and gently pour the cream mixture over the chocolate.  Let sit for 20 seconds.  With a whisk, gently start to stir the truffle mixture from the centre of the bowl.  Continue whisking gently until all the chocolate melts, and the mixture is smooth.  It should still be very warm.  Add the butter and whisk until the ganache is super shiny and smooth.

THERE IS NOTHING QUITE SO BEAUTIFUL AS A SHINY GANACHE …

Nope.  There surely isn’t.  Don’t argue with me.  I’ll just cover my ears and start chanting la-la-la-la-la … 😀

Add the rum to the ganache and whisk until smooth again.  Let the ganache cool, then cover tightly with clingwrap.

Line a large tray with non-stick silicone or parchment paper.

Purist’s Method
When the ganache is cool, cover tightly with clingwrap and set aside in a very cool, dry spot.  I usually leave it on a stand in the hallway, which is one of the coolest spots in the house.    Leave it until the ganache thickens and sets.  You can leave it overnight, if you wish.  When set, the ganache will still be soft.

You will not be forming these into perfect little spheres 🙂

If coating in cacao powder, have ready a plate or bowl with some sifted cacao.  If you wish to enrobe half or all the truffles in chocolate, you will need to temper the chocolate first.

Use two teaspoons to scoop a mound of ganache and form into irregular truffle-like shapes.  Toss in cacao powder or dip in the tempered chocolate using a dipping fork and place gently on the lined tray to set.  For the truffles enrobed in tempered chocolate, set aside in a cool, dry place to set, at or below 18℃, but not in the refrigerator.  Don’t be tempted.  When set, store in an airtight container, with a sheet of parchment between the layers of truffles.  Store at or below 18℃, but not in the refrigerator.  I store the truffles coated in cacao separately.  They will keep fresh for at least two weeks.  If they last that long 😀

Refrigerator Method
When the ganache is cool, cover tightly with clingwrap and place in the refrigerator to set.  When set, the ganache will be firm enough to roll into balls in the palm of your hand.  Dust your hands with cacao to help prevent the ganache from sticking.   Use a teaspoon to scoop out a small amount and roll each into a ball.

If you are coating the truffles in cacao powder, have ready a bowl or plate with some cacao and toss each one in the cacao before placing on a tray lined with silicone paper.  When finished, you can store the truffles in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  I like to place the truffles in even layers with a sheet of parchment between each layer.

If coating some, or all, of the truffles in chocolate, you can choose whether to temper the chocolate first.  As you will be storing them in the refrigerator, it really doesn’t matter, so it’s up to you.  Temper the chocolate or melt it in a heatproof bowl over hot water until smooth.  Dip each truffle into the melted chocolate and place on the lined tray.  When the truffles have been coated in chocolate, you can set the tray in the refrigerator to set.  When set, store the truffles in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

To serve, you can either serve them straight from the fridge (good in summer, I guess) or leave out for 30 minutes to allow the ganache to come to room temperature before serving.  They will be a little softer and more creamy.

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Filed under All Recipe Posts, Chocolate, Confectionery, Fruit, Special Diet

A lighter shade of paleo … Coconut Lime Paleo Cupcakes

This one is for all of you who’ve kept expressing your wish for me to

put de lime in de coconut, and mix ’em bot’ up

again 🙂

I’ve always been fascinated by the myriad of dietary philosophies out there.  Not weight loss diets.  I have no time for that nonsense.   What I’m talking about is lifestyle changes for reasons of health and fitness (which, if healthy, often lead to steady, permanent weight loss, if it’s an issue to begin with).  Having a food intolerance myself, I have spent the last few years coming to terms with that and making some major changes to my diet.  But I took it further, partly because I found myself feeling so much better (it took a while!) but also because I wanted to adopt a truly clean and healthy diet that would support my fitness goals as well.   Plus, I like to experiment.  You can take the girl out of science but …

So I find myself avidly reading about different dietary lifestyles, largely out of curiosity and to see if there is anything I can glean from the experience of those who have travelled the road before me, something that I can try to improve my diet.  I don’t subscribe to any particular diet myself as I have to accommodate my food intolerances and I’m all about balance … good common sense and listen to your body.

Importantly, don’t forget dessert.  Frankly, if your diet is pretty healthy 90% of the time, a little indulgence is good for the soul and probably does your body some good too.  All things in moderation.  Keeps us looking gorgeous.  It would be hypocritical of me to suggest otherwise, given the nature of this blog, wouldn’t it? 😀

So, for the record, I do not follow a paleo diet.  But, I have experimented a bit with paleo style baking, just for something to do.  I like it because it gives me a lot of scope to use coconut in all its myriad forms.  I was never a big fan of coconut but I’ve grown to like it over the past twelve months as some of the recipes on this site show.  One of the issues I have though, is the very high fat content of many of the dessert and baking recipes out there.  Not that I have a problem with fats.  On the contrary, we need fats of various kinds for our bodies to function properly, plus they keep us feeling full and they make food taste great.  Again, it’s all about moderation.

Still, it was nice to try to lighten the load a little on a paleo style cupcake.  You won’t find coconut butter in here, but you will find some coconut and almond flour supplying some good fats.  I’ve also used egg whites to add extra lightness to the cupcakes, a tack that has worked beautifully.

A little burst of fresh lime juice and zest adds some zing to cut through the coconut … these cupcakes are very moist, have some great texture with the addition of shredded coconut and are extremely light.  The frosting is entirely optional.  They are fabulous without it.  But, if you believe that more coconut and lime is better, then go for it.

Note that these are both dairy and gluten-free.   If you do follow a paleo diet, well hello there 🙂

I made these for my mum so she can have a treat that she can enjoy without worrying about it being unhealthy and the coconut sugar won’t play havoc with her blood sugar either.    Oh yeah, I also made them for me, so I can enjoy another healthy treat this Christmas.  I really hate being left out when it’s time for dessert 😀

I hope you enjoy them!

Makes 8 cupcakes (recipe can be scaled up proportionally)

Ingredients

2 x 400 millilitre cans of organic coconut milk

Cupcakes
215 grams egg whites*
75 grams coconut sugar
45 grams coconut flour
125 grams almond meal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
125 millilitres coconut “water”
2 limes – zest and juice
40 grams unsweetened shredded coconut

*you can substitute whole eggs for the egg whites.  You will need about 4 x 59 gram eggs (52 grams shelled).

Frosting
300 grams (about) coconut “cream”
40 grams coconut sugar
1 lime – zest and juice

slices of fresh lime, to decorate

Instructions
Several hours (or the night) before you intend to make the cupcakes, place the two cans of coconut milk in the refrigerator.  The coconut milk will separate out into a solid “cream” and “water”.  You will need the cream for the frosting and some of the water for the cupcakes.   Don’t discard the extra coconut water (you will have an extra 375 ml or 1 1/2 cups).   It is great in smoothies,  for making protein pancakes, anything.  It’s really rehydrating and tastes good too.

Decided to make these on a whim?  Don’t panic. 

If you are pressed for time, you can substitute full-fat or lite coconut milk in the cupcakes and standard coconut cream for the frosting.

Cupcakes
Preheat the oven to 175℃.  Line eight muffin tin molds with cupcake liners.

In a large bowl, whisk together the egg whites (or whole eggs) and coconut sugar until frothy and the sugar has dissolved.

Sift together the coconut flour, almond meal, baking powder, and baking soda.  Add half the mixture to the egg whites and beat until smooth.  Add the coconut “water”, lime zest and juice.  Beat on low-speed until incorporated.  Add the remaining flour mixture and the shredded coconut, and beat until smooth.

Divide the batter evenly between the cupcake liners.  Bake for about 20 minutes, until risen and golden.  Remove from the oven and let cool while you prepare the frosting.

Frosting
In a blender or food processor, blend or process the coconut “cream” until smooth, to make sure there are no hard coconut pieces left.

Place in a bowl with the coconut sugar, lime zest, and juice.  Whisk until the sugar dissolves and the mixture thickens slightly.  Refrigerate until ready to frost the cupcakes, if required.

Pipe a little frosting on each cupcake.  Top with a slice of fresh lime to decorate.

If you are interested in learning more about the paleo diet and lifestyle, a simple google search will unearth a number of sites.  I haven’t listed any here as my intention is not to promote any particular dietary lifestyle (je ne suis pas qualifié).  We all need to work out what works best for ourselves.

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Filed under All Recipe Posts, Cupcakes, Fruit, Special Diet

Coconut & Lime Bars

Ever since my holiday in the tropics I’ve been a bit obsessed with the combination of lime and coconut.  I’m still slathering on lime and coconut body lotion to recapture a little of that holiday in the tropics feeling.

At first, I wanted to make a super healthy treat (shhh … for that “other section” in this blog) but a couple of cookie experiments left me uninspired.  So this week I just thought what the heck, I’m making coconut lime bars.  Or slice as we like to call them here in Australia.  Whatever.   I was in the mood to make something buttery, sugary, coconutty and lime.

When it comes to fruit and coconut bars, it seems there are two camps.

  • Those who love a strong citrus or fruity tang with just a hint of coconut.  The filling layer is often very curd like in texture or jammy.  I love those.  My favourite, especially with citrus.
  • Those who prefer the kind where the coconut features with a lovely hint of fruit.  The filling is more textural with more coconut and has more substance.  A bit more custard-like or just more coconut cutting through the fruit.  Frankly I like these too, but my family certainly prefers these.

Of course, you can make the filling somewhere between these two … the important thing is to make sure it sits on a lovely shortbread crust.  Sweet, buttery and, in this case, with a little coconut to complement the filling.  And of course, you put de lime in de coconut … 😉

I wanted to make a version of both, to keep everyone happy.  This is the first instalment.  I wasn’t going to post it until I’d made both, but hey … might as well put it out there now.  They are really good.  As usual, I’ve put the photos together very quickly so we’re not winning any photographic beauty contests but … who cares?

The coconut lime layer for these bars is not tangy.  There is a lovely hint of lime to complement a thick coconut filling layer that has a bit of substance.  I used unsweetened organic shredded coconut.  The flavour is truly divine compared with the sweetened, sticky variety usually found in the supermarket.  If you can’t find it, then you might want to reduce the amount of sugar to compensate.

How high should the filling be?  Well, that’s another point of difference amongst folk.  I just went for about the same thickness of filling layer as for the crust layer.  The result is a really nice balance of flavours and textures.  If you like a thicker filling layer, just multiply the recipe for the filling by one and a half.

These bars are fabulous for an afternoon tea, a picnic or BBQ, and make a great treat anytime.

As we enjoy these now, I’m already thinking about making a tangy version with more lime 😀

I hope you enjoy these too!

Makes 12

Ingredients
Crust
110 grams unsalted butter, softened
40 grams coconut oil, softened
110 grams sugar
125 grams plain flour
50 grams coconut flour
pinch of sea salt
Coconut Lime Layer
3 eggs
3 egg yolks
120 grams sugar
100 grams pure cream
2 limes, grated zest and juice
30 grams coconut flour
35 grams shredded coconut (unsweetened)

Instructions
Crust
Preheat the oven to 180℃.  Line a 22cm square cake tin with silicone baking paper.  A good tip is to use two strips of the same width as the tin and overlay them.  This creates a double layer over the base.  Set aside.

Combine the butter, oil, and sugar in a bowl and beat until very light and creamy and the sugar has dissolved. Sift in the flour and salt and beat until a soft dough forms.  Press the dough into the baking tin and make sure the dough surface is level across the width of the tin.

Bake for 10 – 12 mins until very light golden and slightly risen.  Remove from the oven, ready to add the filling layer.

Coconut Lime Layer
In a bowl, combine the eggs, egg yolks, sugar, cream, lime zest and juice and whisk until creamy.  add the coconut flour and whisk until smooth.  Finally, fold in the shredded coconut.

Pour the filling over the crust layer.  Return to the oven and bake for another 20 minutes.

Lower the oven temperature to 170℃ and bake for a further 10 mins or until the coconut lime layer is set.  It will start to colour at the edges and won’t jiggle in the centre when set.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely in the tin.  When cool, remove from tin and cut into twelve bars.

Serve dusted with icing sugar.  To achieve the lattice effect in the photos, just place the bars under a wire rack on the diagonal and sift over some icing sugar.  It’s that easy.  It’s an old trick, but rather effective, don’t you think?

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Berries & Cream Brownies

They look pretty innocuous with the swirl of cream cheese icing and berries on top.   Ah, but underneath that light summery exterior lurks a heart of darkness, full of rich, luscious chocolate brownie.

The brownie recipe below is my basic brownie recipe that I’ve used for years.   After mucho tiempo experimenting in the brownie lab (aka my kitchen), these brownies came out on top for the serious chocaholic.   I don’t put nuts in my brownies.  Okay, occasionally, but only if making them for someone else.  Me, I like them unadulterated.  And chocolatey (yes, it’s a word.  Would I lie?).   These will always be extra special to me as they got me a gig writing a baking column in the Epicure section of The Age a while back.  That was cool and a lot of fun while it lasted.   I got lucky and had it published (Kamikaze Brownies, page 46, Epicure Chocolate: Recipes from 20 Years of Indulgent Ideas).  That felt pretty awesome too.  And bizarre.  Point is though, I won’t make any outlandish claims to them being the best ever but they are seriously good.  You tell me.  Try ’em.  Rate ’em :-).

To make the brownies, I used my favourite couverture, Valrhona Araguani (72%).  I do a happy dance when I say the word Araguani … uh, there I go again.  Use whatever dark chocolate you like, but do choose a good quality chocolate.   Beware of inferior chocolate.  I hear it causes biblical plagues and maybe even the apocalypse.  It’s just bad ;-).   The Manjari would be good too as it goes really well with fruit, particularly berries.  But for something smooth, rich, warm and nutty … Araguani.  It will leave a lingering taste that’s heavenly.  I digress …

If frosting the brownies at all, I tend to top them with a whipped ganache.   They are very rich though so this is a great alternative in summer.  Two versions we like at home, both of which are lovely, it just depends on your preference.  This time I made cream cheese and lime frosting.  Sometimes I like to use sweetened whipped cream with lemon or lime.  I’ve used lime here as lime with chocolate is quite a subtle but beautiful combination.  Lemon works too, if you prefer it.

They are small, but trust me, they are rich.  Enjoy!

Makes 20 brownies

Ingredients
Brownies (adapted from Epicure Chocolate: Recipes from 20 Years of Indulgent Ideas)
300 grams dark chocolate/couverture
125 grams unsalted butter
3 large eggs
1 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons Créme de Cassis (optional)
1/2 cup plain flour, sifted

Cream Cheese & Lime Icing*
125 grams icing sugar
250 grams cream cheese
110 grams unsalted butter, melted & cooled
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice

20 each raspberries and blueberries
5 strawberries, quartered and stems removed
40 small mint or lemon balm leaves

*see below for Lime Cream variation.

Instructions
Preheat oven to 175°C.   If using a fan-forced oven, lower the temperature to 165°C.

You will need 20 x 4cm (mini) cupcake liners.  Place the cupcake liners on a baking tray.
Melt the chocolate and butter together, in a bowl over simmering water, until smooth.  Remove from the heat and let cool.

Whisk the eggs with the sugar and liqueur.  I use a hand-held whisk to do this.  The idea is to not incorporate too much air into the mixture or the brownies will rise unevenly, create internal air pockets, causing the top to crack.

Stir in the melted chocolate-butter mixture with the whisk, until incorporated.  Sift the flour and stir into the batter until smooth.  Tap the bowl on the bench to make sure there are no large air bubbles in the mixture.

Carefully fill each cupcake liner about 2/3 full with the brownie batter.  Tap the tray on the bench to even out the batter in the liners and remove any remaining air bubbles.

Bake the brownies for about 18 – 20 minutes.   It is better to under-bake these so keep an eye on them after about 15 minutes.  Cool the brownies on a wire rack.  When cool, they are ready to decorate.

Make the Cream Cheese Icing: Using a hand-held whisk, whisk the cream cheese until smooth.  Sift the icing sugar and add to the cream cheese.  Whisk until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is light and creamy.

Whisk the cooled butter until slightly thickened and add it to the cream cheese mixture along with the lime juice.  Whisk the frosting until light.  If making ahead, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Place the cream cheese icing into a disposable piping bag fitted with a small decorative tip.  You can use whatever you like, even a plain round tip.  Pipe the frosting on to each brownie and decorate each with a mixture of berries.  I used one each of the raspberries and blueberries and one-quarter of a strawberry for each brownie.  Finally, add two small leaves of mint or lemon balm.  My preference is for the lemon balm to match the subtle citrus flavour in the icing.  I’m all for matching …

They’ll keep for a few days, stored in an airtight container, in the refrigerator.  If they last that long.

Variation – Lime Cream
400 millilitres double cream
2 tablespoons icing sugar
1 tablespoon lime juice

Place the cream in a bowl.  Sift in the icing sugar and add the lime juice.  Using a hand-held whisk, whisk the cream lightly until slightly thickened.  Cover and chill in the refrigerator until ready to decorate the brownies.  Decorate as per the directions above.

 

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