Pineapple, White Chocolate and Coconut Cookies

Pineapple White Chocolate and Coconut Cookies
If there is one plaintive cry that is often heard in this house, it’s ‘Why do you never make cookies?’

It’s true that cookies are usually superseded by a sudden whim to make a cake or a brownie so they usually fall down the pecking order. Plus cookies are remarkably easy to eat aren’t they? What is it about them that makes you believe it’s okay to have two or three when you would normally only have once slice of cake. It’s probably because you have to eat one straight from the oven when the chocolate is oozing from within and they are still pretty dough like. Later on it would be churlish not to partake in a cooler cookie with your tea, letting your cup catch the crumbs so you can slurp them up later.

Pineapple White Chocolate and Coconut Cookies

My husband is also a bit of a dried fruit fanatic, there are usually odds and ends of trail mix or some exotic papaya strips that never seem remotely appealing to me. However, these candied pineapple chunks have been winking at me for weeks begging to be used in a recipe. I am not normally a pineapple junkie but I have found myself craving their sweet juicy acidity so whilst a few months ago I would have shuddered at including them in a bake, this time round they were the first ingredient on my list when preparing to make my cookies.

I think it’s rude not to include chocolate in a cookie don’t you? That’s not to say I haven’t enjoyed the odd oat and raisin number in my time but I usually think a bit of a chocolate addition would liven up the proceedings immensely. This time round I poured in a few handfuls of white chocolate chips, which are the type of chocolate oft neglected from my bakes, but here they seemed so right.

The desiccated coconut was added just because I cannot bear to bake or cook anything without coconut at the moment. I thought I would be bored by now after my endless forays of coconut oil, coconut flour, coconut flakes and coconut milk but it’s just so damn versatile in all its different formats and there is usually a place for it in whatever I am cooking.

Pineapple White Chocolate and Coconut Cookies

Now these cookies are huge, so make sure you space them apart a good distance in your baking tray. They are chewy but also a little crisp on the corners for the variety of texture which is so important in your daily cookie. The true test was whether they would pass the husband test and they did with flying colours. The only problem is that now he sees no excuse why there can’t be cookies every day.

Pineapple, White Chocolate and Coconut Cookies
Makes 12 large cookies

175g unsalted butter
175g soft light brown sugar
125g caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
200g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
¼ teaspoon salt
150g jumbo rolled oats
75g desiccated coconut
125g white chocolate chips
125g dried pineapple chunks

  1. Pre-heat oven to 170°C.
  2. Cream the butter and sugars together until very light and fluffy.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time then the vanilla until completely combined.
  4. In a large mixing bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt, oats and coconut.
  5. Add the flour mixture to the rest of the batter and mix until combined.
  6. Finally mix in the chocolate chips and pineapple chunks until evenly dispersed.
  7. Portion out the cookies by weighing out each one out to 100g then rolling into a ball.
  8. Place each ball on large baking trays about 2 inches apart from each other and flatten each ball slightly with the palm of your hand.
  9. Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes until just turning golden brown.
  10. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on the baking tray for 5 minutes until transferring to a cooling rack to finish cooling. Or, eat straightaway so the cookie is warm and the chocolate is still melting.

Blackcurrant, White Chocolate and Thyme Muffins

Blackcurrant White Chocolate and Thyme Muffins
Last weekend at the farmers’ market suddenly felt like summer had bloomed.  Every berry was out, loud and proud.  It was like old friends had gathered together for a yearly reunion and you wanted to talk and catch-up with each of them but you could only have time for a brief hello.  I have already made my first jam of the year when the strawberries came along but now my head is full of jellies, crumbles, tarts, messes, trifles and puddings as I panic about being able to fit in every favourite recipe for the short time they are here.  Gleaming with promise were tables of colourful raspberries, gooseberries, blackcurrants, redcurrants and whitecurrants.  I wanted to get a punnet of each but I am trying to learn the art of restraint and was asked by my husband to pick just one fruit.  It had to be the blackcurrant.

Blackcurrant White Chocolate and Thyme Muffins  |  Stroud Green Larder

Blackcurrants put a lot of people off as they are not always the most social of berries, they don’t play well with strangers and can be terribly sour.  But they remind me of my childhood.  They used to grow all over our garden when we were growing up, the funny thing is I don’t remember them being very sour then, and picking them directly from the bush was some of my first real knowledge about where food comes from.  The scent of the fruit, then plucking the little stalk from the end and the final pop of the blackcurrant in my mouth is wonderfully grounding, until the antagonistic tartness makes my lips pucker and sends me headlong into the sugar.

Blackcurrant White Chocolate and Thyme Muffins  |  Stroud Green Larder

The basis of this muffin recipe is not mine but it is one that I have made so often that it feels like my own.  I learnt it from Paul A Young, the master chocolatier, in a seminar on chocolate that he was giving.  I fell completely and utterly in love with these muffins and so does everyone I bake them for.  They take about 15 minutes to pull together and 20 minutes in the oven.  This time round I added the blackcurrants which has turned out to be such a perfect compliment to the other ingredients I think I will now reserve these muffins for this time of the year every year.  The piquant tang of the blackcurrant is soothed by the sweet white chocolate, the crunch of palm sugar and the sticky thyme syrup slicked on top of the muffin.

Blackcurrant White Chocolate and Thyme Muffins  |  Stroud Green Larder
Blackcurrant, White Chocolate and Thyme Muffins
Adapted from Paul A Young’s Adventures with Chocolate
Makes 12-14 muffins

100g caster sugar
100g soft light brown sugar
2 eggs
125ml light olive oil
250ml whole milk
20g thyme leaves
1 tsp vanilla extract
400g plain flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
150g white chocolate chips
125g blackcurrants
for the syrup:
2 tsp palm sugar
2 tbsp caster sugar
2 tbsp water
2 thyme sprigs

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C.
  2. Place the sugars, eggs, olive oil, milk, thyme and vanilla in a large bowl and beat together until smooth.
  3. In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt until thoroughly combined.
  4. Add the flour mixture to the batter and beat together until smooth, do not overmix.
  5. Stir in the chocolate chips and the blackcurrants until evenly dispersed.
  6. Divide the batter into muffin cases, filling to just below the top.
  7. Sprinkle a pinch of palm sugar onto each muffin then bake in the oven for about 20 minutes until risen and the blackcurrants are bursting out.
  8. Whilst the muffins are baking make the thyme syrup by heating together the caster sugar and water until the sugar has dissolved. Add the thyme sprigs in and simmer for a couple of minutes. Turn off the heat and leave to infuse.
  9. As soon as the muffins have been taken out of the oven, brush the syrup liberally over the top of each muffin until they are glistening.

How To Temper Chocolate

Everything you need to know about how to temper chocolate
Making your own chocolate truffles and hand filled chocolates is a bit of an indulgence.  It requires some time and a little bit of patience to learn how to temper chocolate but a whole lot of satisfaction.  If you find the whole process slightly intimidating then have no fear, it is much easier than you think and once you have done it a few times, you may find making your own beautifully hand filled chocolates more than a little addictive.  Or maybe that’s just me, but I don’t hear any complaints from friends or family.

Why do you temper chocolate?

Chocolate does not need to be tempered if you are melting chocolate for everyday use such as adding into cakes, buttercreams, biscuits or tarts.  However, if the finished look and texture of the chocolate is important, such as if you are coating truffles, creating chocolate cages for your cakes, making Easter Eggs, chocolate bark or hand-filled chocolates then you will need to temper the chocolate. Chocolate bars we buy from the supermarket have already been tempered but if we melt the chocolate we are taking it out of temper, which means that the crystallisation of the cocoa butter will run amok. We need to take these crystals into line by regulating the temperature of the chocolate during the melting process. Think of the lovely glossy shine of an Easter egg right before you break it apart with a glorious crack.  Without tempering, chocolate will bloom, giving it a dull white streaky appearance and with no satisfying snap, the chocolate will crumble miserably.

Marble Slab Method

There are two main ways of tempering chocolate, the marble slab method and the seeding method.  The marble slab method gives a more consistent result if you are dealing with large amounts of chocolate but it does require you to have a large marble slab or countertop. The seeding method, which I am concentrating on here, is more suitable for tempering chocolate at home as you can temper less with more control and you are not pouring chocolate all over your kitchen. Well, at least that isn’t the aim.

Seeding Method

The only bit of special equipment required for the seeding method is a digital thermometer. I definitely have a preferred instrument – my thermapen (thermapen.co.uk) – as it reads the correct temperature immediately. Some of the cheaper digital thermometers do have to be held in the chocolate for thirty seconds or so to confirm an accurate reading which could be the pivotal amount of time to drive up your temperature and lead to over-tempering, plus they have annoying wires which really get in the way. Thermapens are not the cheapest but they come in different colours and if you shop around some of the colours are strangely cheaper than others.

How To Temper Chocolate

How much chocolate do you need?

The minimum amount of chocolate you can temper successfully is about 300g, any less and you will have difficulty getting an accurate temperature reading. More chocolate means the temperature gauge can fully immerse in the chocolate, plus you will have more control with the more chocolate you are handling.

What kind of chocolate do you need?

I recommend buying good quality chocolate chips rather than relying on Green and Black bars, mainly due to the cost, as it is so much cheaper to buy chocolate in bulk online than in single bars from the supermarket. Also chocolate chips will melt much quicker which will really help when you are adding your seed back into your chocolate. Now, you also can’t buy just any old chocolate chips, if you are spending your afternoon tempering chocolate and covering some delicious chocolate truffles then you really want the chocolate to be of the utmost quality. Of course you can go absolutely crazy with this as different brands can be astronomical, but a good place to start is Belgian Callebaut chocolate chips as they are reasonably priced and are also delicious. I buy my chocolate online from www.chocolatetradingco.com as they have a very good selection. The different types of chocolate, dark, milk or white work to different crystallisation temperatures, so do read be careful that you follow the correct method for the correct type of chocolate.

I always wear latex kitchen gloves when handling melted chocolate as it will get all over your hands, your kitchen work surface, spoons, bowls and the floor. Melting, then cooling, melting, then cooling. Also chocolate moulds can be messy if you are not used to them. Gloves mean there is less temptation in licking all that molten goodness off your fingers and you can concentrate on the task at hand.

How many times can you re-temper chocolate?

You can re-temper the chocolate 3-4 times so don’t worry about the amount of chocolate you are melting if you actually only need about half. You can always have a few chocolate projects on the go. However, once you are done with the tempering you will usually have some spare melted chocolate left sitting in your bain marie. For this reason my home made chocolates always come with some brownies on the side as you do not want that chocolate to go to waste. Remove the chocolate from your bain marie whilst it is still in a molten state otherwise it will pretty impossible to shift once solidified.

Once you get the hang of it tempering chocolate is really quite easy. Making homemade chocolates is a lovely way to spend the day. The Easter weekend is the perfect time to tackle such a project with the obvious reward being lots of delicious chocolates which will cost a hell of a lot less than those you will get from your fancypants chocolatier and a million times more delicious than Terry’s All Gold.

Everything you need to know about how to temper chocolate

How to Temper Dark Chocolate

For tempering white or milk chocolate look to the table below for the different temperatures to work with, the rest of the method remains the same.

  1. Measure out your chocolate, then set aside ⅓ of the chocolate to create the seed.
  2. Place the first ⅔ of the chocolate in a bain marie or a metal bowl set over a saucepan with 1 inch of hot water in it. The water should not be boiling and should not be touching the bottom of the metal bowl.
  3. Melt the chocolate very slowly, stirring occasionally but always checking the temperature. You want it to reach 55°C which is usually just after all the chocolate has melted.
  4. As soon as the melted chocolate reaches this temperature, remove the metal bowl from the heat and place on a tea towel to halt the heating.
  5. Tip your ⅓ of chocolate seed into the molten chocolate and stir in very quickly and firmly so that the chocolate melts completely. You need the temperature to reduce to 27-28°C. This could take about 10 mins of constant stirring. If by this stage your seeded chocolate has not completely melted you need to remove the lumps as these will impair the finished temper of the chocolate.
  6. As soon as the temperature has dropped to 27-28°C then place the metal bowl back on the heat and bring back up to 31-32°C. It can take just moments so keep stirring with the thermometer at hand to monitor.
  7. When your chocolate has reached 31-32°C it is now in temper and is ready to use.
  8. If you are able to keep the chocolate between 31-32°C whilst you are using it then that is ideal, however, if not then you need to work very quickly coating your truffles or filling your moulds otherwise the temperature will drop out of temper. As the chocolate cools it will thicken and become impossible to manipulate.
  9. If you let your chocolate rise above 31-32°C then you will have over-tempered the chocolate and will need to start again by raising it to 55°C and taking it from there.

chocolate tableTable adapted from Paul A. Young’s Adventures in Chocolate

STEP 1 STEP 2 STEP 3 STEP 4 STEP 5

Easter Egg

How To Temper Chocolate

Quick Guide on How To Temper Chocolate

This is a long post so if you want a quick easy reference on the basic points of how to temper chocolate then download my quick guide on how to temper chocolate at the link below!

SHOP THE RECIPE

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Raspberry and White Chocolate Banana Bread

Raspberry and White Chocolate Banana Bread
Why are bananas so fun?  They are great to eat, they are great to say, you can play cops and robbers with them and they look kinda funny too.  There is a reason why slipping on a banana skin is a comedy staple as opposed to a mango skin or a peach skin which can be just as hazardous I’m assuming.  The banana not only does the job but it looks the part.  They are the stand up comic of the fruit bowl.  But c’mon you know why I like bananas.  They are just so great to bake with, especially on a grizzly October day.

I like to buy bananas, arrange them regally in the fruit bowl, perching on top of the apples and oranges.  Then I forget about them.  Deliberately.  A banana in its prime is no good to me so I will keep a subtle eye out after day four, checking for black spots, the other fruit if still around cowering under its blackening skin.  Only when I’m sure that it is definitely past-its-best will I pounce, launching myself into a banana baking bonanza.  This is the ideal stage for mashing, its flavour having matured into its innate bananainess and perfect now for its signature recipe, the banana bread.

The banana bread is such a popular and universal family favourite that when I man cake stalls we have to issue a missive that people don’t donate banana breads, otherwise that is all we would have.  It’s probably because they are easy to make well, they mistakenly sound very healthy and the cook has the added pleasure of indulging in the heady scent as the banana bread nestles in the oven, the wonderful aroma permeating the kitchen.

This recipe is adapted from a Donna Hay classic, all I did was add the raspberries and white chocolate, just because.

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Raspberry and White Chocolate Banana Bread

125g unsalted butter, softened
200g soft brown sugar
2 eggs
185g plain flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
4 medium sized bananas, mashed
125g raspberries
100g white chocolate

  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C.  Line and butter a 900g loaf tin.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together until the mixture is pale and fluffy.
  3. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition
  4. Mix in the vanilla extract.
  5. Fold in the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda.
  6. When just combined, fold in the bananas, then the white chocolate, then the raspberries.
  7. Pour into the loaf tin and bake for 1 hour 10 mins.
  8. Leave for half an hour in the tin before removing and cooling on a wire rack.