Chocolate stout cookies with coffee german buttercream


 

We are on the home stretch on our time in NZ! And OH MAN I am not looking forward to going back to NYC. I love our life there, but there's just something about New Zealand thats so much more 'home'. Hopefully if we get all of our ducks in a line we can move home in a few years - we have already put some of the wheels in motion in order to move so the next few years will be focussing on getting everything together to make the move. We met with a mortgage consultant today - even though we are married, live in a different country and have a business, the concept of borrowing money feels like EXTREME adulting in comparison! It also gives me a great excuse to look at real estate on the internet, which is easily one of my favourite activities, along with making pinterest boards about my future kitchen! 

Another thing that has been so amazing about being home is the food. The first week was filled with fresh fruit, real fruit ice cream and all the things we had missed, then I went down to Wellington for a few days. For those not from New Zealand, Wellington is the capital city, and has an amazing food scene. I was staying with a friend who is just as interested in eating as I am, so we had an incredible time trying all of the new places that have popped up since I was here last! 

While I was there I was also lucky enough to be a small part of a pretty awesome collaboration that was happening! If you haven't heard of the shoe brand Allbirds, you owe it to yourself to do a sneaky wee google. They are a San Francisco / New Zealand based business who make crazy awesome shoes from Merino wool! I have a couple of pairs - they are crazy comfy, and the companies morals and ethics are incredible. I was lucky enough to come across the lovely Lucy on Instagram, and after a bit of back and forth we worked out that we would both be in Wellington at the same time so should probably do something exciting together! 

Allbirds did a special collaboration with three amazing Wellington based businesses - Coffee Supreme, Wellington Chocolate Factory, and Garage Project Beer. They had a bunch of events, and designed a shoe inspired by each company! I was there for the launch party right at the beginning, which was a huge amount of fun. My wee contribution was to design a cookie recipe which would be the takeaway 'goodie bag' of the evening - something which encompassed all three of these companies and the amazing product that they create. 

And this was the result! I went with a dark chocolate cookie, which has a solid amount of dark beer in it, making it soft and almost whoopie pie-ish, sandwiched together with a coffee infused german buttercream. The cookie is rich and dark, with a teeny hint of beer, and the buttercream is not too sweet and silky in texture, so ties everything together perfectly. I developed the recipe and then Lucy had a local bakery in Wellington make them. This was my first time developing a recipe for someone else to make on a large scale so I was a little nervous but they turned out amazingly! 

Thanks so much to Allbirds for having me! I had the best time ever. 

 

 

Chocolate stout cookies with coffee german buttercream
- Makes approx 12 sandwich cookies - 

Cookies

1 1/2 cups (375ml) stout beer
10.5 oz/300g Dark Chocolate, chopped
1 cup (160g) All-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
115g unsalted butter, at room temperature. 
3/4 cup (150g) packed brown sugar
1 tsp (5ml) vanilla extract
1 egg plus 1 egg yolk 

Coffee german buttercream

1 cup (250ml) whole milk, plus extra to top up if necessary. 
30g fresh coffee beans, coarsely ground
3/4 cup (150g) sugar
2 1/2 Tbsp (20g) cornflour
1 egg
1 egg yolk  
1 lb/450g unsalted butter, at room temperature. 

 

- PROCESS -

COOKIES

In a medium pot, heat the stout over medium heat. Simmer for 5-10 minutes watching closely to ensure that it does not boil over, until it has reduced to half a cup. Set aside to cool. 

Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Stir until melted, taking care not to get any water in the chocolate. Remove the bowl from the pot, and set aside to cool. 

In a small bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, or using an electric hand held mixer, beat the butter and brown sugar until pale and fluffy, 3-4 minutes. Add vanilla, egg and egg yolk, and beat well. Add melted dark chocolate and beat until incorporated, scraping the bowl down well.  With the mixer on low, add a third of the flour mixture, alternating with half of the cooled stout and repeat, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Mix on low until well incorporated, being sure to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl well. Chill the mixture for approximately an hour, or until firm, stirring every 15 minutes or so to ensure that it cools evenly. Toward the end of the hour, preheat the oven to 350˚f/180˚c and line three baking trays with parchment paper. 

Using a cookie scoop (I use a #30 / 1.5 Tbsp size), Scoop out mounds of dough onto the prepared baking tray, leaving about 10cm between each one to allow for spreading. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the cookies are set. Cool on the tray for 15-20 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely. 

BUTTERCREAM

In a medium pan over a low heat, heat the milk until it is almost boiling. Remove the heat, add the coffee, and steep for 20 minutes. Strain through a very fine mesh strainer, and return the infused milk to the pot, topping up to make one cup if necessary. Return to almost boiling.

In a large bowl, combine the sugar, cornflour, egg and egg yolk, and whisk to combine. Whisking constantly, pour half of the hot milk mixture into the sugar and egg mixture. Whisk until combined, then return to the pot with the rest of the milk. Whisk continuously until the mixture thickens, then cook for one minute, stirring constantly. Transfer to a bowl, place plastic wrap on the surface, and leave to cool completely, using an ice bath to speed up this process if necessary. 

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the cooled pastry cream mixture until it is smooth and creamy. With the mixture on high, add the butter a chunk at a time, and mix until the buttercream is homogenous and smooth. Swap the mixer to the paddle attachment and beat for 1-2 minutes until creamy and silky. 

ASSEMBLY

 

Using an offset spatula or a piping bag fitted with a round attachment, place a small amount of buttercream on one cookie, and top with another, pressing lightly to stick. Chill, removing from the fridge approx 45 minutes before serving. 

Apple and Pear mini pies


 

Goodness, New Zealand is next level AMAZING. This is the perfect time of year to visit - it's the end of summer, and the kids have gone back to school so things are a little more quiet. We have been splitting our time between Richard's farm and the beach house. TOO GOOD. We have only been here a week and already and somehow I'm already homesick, and we haven't even left yet. We are hopefully planning to move back to NZ in the next two years or so, so it's all about figuring out a game plan and where to go from here.

Before I left, my friend Michelle (AKA Hummingbird High) came around and we made pie! We recreated the herringbone I made a few weeks ago, but this time on mini pies. It was so much fun having someone to bake with, especially when super cute pies are involved. Yay for friends! The recipe for these are also over on Michelle's site. 

We used a pasta maker to cut the strips of the lattice. I have the Kitchen Aid pasta attachment that clips onto my mixer, which makes quick work of the strips, and is super satisfying to use as it makes super even strips that make for a very tidy lattice that weaves together nicely. The dough was rolled using the roller attachment, then we used the fettuccine attachment for the thinner lattice, and the lasagnette for the thicker. You could definitely do the same thing with a rolling pin, a ruler, a pastry wheel and some careful cutting if you are without a pasta maker. I find using a ruler to cut strips makes for a much cleaner lattice when it comes to assembly! 

We went with four 5 inch mini pies, but you could use the same recipe and bake one 9 inch pie instead if you don't have the mini pie pans. We went with a simple apple and pear filling, and a basic dough recipe that is totally my go to due to how easy it is to work with. If you are going to do a thin lattice or use a pasta maker to cut your strips I do recommend working your dough a little more than you would at the flour and butter stage to ensure that it is a little more sturdy and holds together nicely when you are latticing. Dough tends to develop weak points where the chunks of butter are, so you want to minimise this to make sure that it is nice and easy to work with. 

The Herringbone pattern isn't too tricky once you get the hang of it - it is essentially fold three strips back, leave three down, and then place your horizontal strip. The only thing that changes is how you start each line, which gives you variation in the strips folded back, and makes the pattern. It takes some careful reading of the pattern at the beginning but once you get the hang of it it will all make sense and the pattern develops quite quickly. I follow Stella's tutorial, which explains it extremely well, so instead of writing my own, I highly recommend following that. Have fun with it! It looks very fiddly at the beginning, but it will all come together! Promise. Head over to Michelle's blog to check out her shots! 

 

 

Apple and Pear mini pies
- Makes four 5 inch pies - 

 

Pie dough recipe from Four and Twenty Blackbirds

Pie Dough
2 1/2 cups (390g) all-purpose flour
Pinch of Salt
2 tsp (8g) sugar
2 sticks (226g) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 cup (240ml) cold water
1 cup ice
1/4 cup (60ml) apple cider vinegar

Pie Filling
2 large firm baking apples
2 large firm pears
Juice of one lemon
3 Tbsp (36g) granulated sugar
2 Tbsp (30g) raw sugar
4 Tbsp (25g) all-purpose flour
1 tsp cinnamon

Egg Wash
1 large egg, whisked with 1 Tbsp water

 

- PROCESS -

 

PIE DOUGH

Place flour, sugar, and salt into a large bowl. Add the cubed butter and toss to coat. Working quickly and using a pastry blender or your hands, cut the butter into the flour until there are only small pea-sized chunks remaining. If you are going to do a detailed lattice, you want to take it a little further than you usually would to ensure that the dough is pliable and stable enough to be cut into small strips.

Combine ice, water, and cider vinegar in a bowl. Sprinkle a few tablespoons of the ice water into the flour and butter mixture, and using a stiff spatula or your hands, mix in well. Continue adding water a tablespoon at a time ( I normally need about 12 tbsp) until you have a dough that holds together well, but is not too wet. Squeeze together with your fingertips to make a homogenous dough. Shape into two discs and wrap in plastic wrap. Rest in the fridge for at least two hours, or preferably overnight. 

On a lightly floured surface, roll out one disc of dough until it is approximately 1/8" (3mm) thick. Line four 5 inch miniature pie dishes with dough, leaving some overhang. Refrigerate while you prepare the pie filling. 

FILLING

Peel, core, and thinly slice the apples and pears and place in a large bowl. Add lemon juice and toss well to evenly coat the fruit. Sprinkle with the granulated sugar. Mix well to combine, and leave to sit for 20-30 minutes. 

In a large bowl, combine the raw sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Transfer the fruit to the bowl, leaving behind any excess liquid. Toss well to combine. 

ASSEMBLY AND BAKING

Divide the filling between the four lined pie dishes. If you are making a lattice the regular way, roll out the second disc of dough on a floured surface into a large circle, until it is 1/8" (3mm) thick. Cut the dough into thin strips of equal width.  If you are using the pasta maker for the lattice, pass floured slices of dough through the widest setting on your pasta maker multiple times, folding and pressing it back together between passes until it is smooth and homogenous. Decrease the thickness on the machine to the second widest setting, and pass the dough through several times. Pass the dough through the cutting attachment of the machine, and place the cut strips onto a baking sheet. Prepare the strips for 1-2 pies at a time, and make more as you need them to ensure that the dough does not dry out too much. 

Arrange the strips on top of the filling, either in a regular lattice, or follow the steps in this tutorial to create a herringbone lattice. Trim the edges of the pie using shears. Transfer the pies to the freezer for 15-20 minutes to allow the pastry to firm up.

While the pies are freezing, preheat the oven to 400f/200c. Place a baking sheet on the centre rack of the oven. 

Remove the pies from the freezer and brush with the egg wash using a pastry brush. Place on the baking tray and bake for 15 minutes, until the pastry is beginning to set and go golden. Reduce the temperature to 375f/190c, and cook for a further 20 minutes or until the pastry is a deep golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool completely. 

Honey lavender cake with vanilla german buttercream and lavender ganache drip


 

We made it to New Zealand! I have been eating ALL of the food, and visiting all of the supermarkets. So much fun! So much amazing weather too. Every time I come home I forget how much I have missed it. I'm already dreading leaving, particularly with all the shit that is going on in the States right now. It is our job to stand up and fight, but my goodness it is tempting to just hide in my safe little country forever. 

This cake always reminds me of home - It was the top tier of our wedding cake (which was a monster, and was my first ever stacked cake! I made it out only mildly traumatised), so holds a very special place in my heart. I always pair it with german buttercream, which in my opinion is the perfect buttercream - not intensely butter tasting, and you can infuse it with anything because it is custard based, so you can steep the milk with whatever you like before turning it into pastry cream. I went with an ombre finish on the cake, which is actually way way easier than it looks - you just crumb coat the cake, then spread lots of one colour at the top, lots of another at the bottom and then a mixture in between, then smooth it out and you are good to go! You can do whatever colour you like, and if you aren't happy with the finish, it is super easy to just spread on more colour where needed and re smooth! 

I finished it off with a ganache drip, which I infused with more lavender. I love drip cakes but somehow never get around to doing them. I find that making sure the cake is very well chilled and the ganache a little more set than you think it needs to be always helps. Allow a good two hours to set your cake before you add the ganache drip, or under-compensate when you are adding them, because they will drip further down than you expect! 

I added a little baby's breath on the top becuase I am a sucker for fresh flowers, but you could totally sub these for your favourite flower, or leave them out. Just ensure that if necessary, the ends of the stems are well taped before touching the cake. 

 

 

Honey Lavender cake with Vanilla german buttercream and lavender ganache drip
- Makes one 6 inch layer cake- 

Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens

Honey Lavender Cake
3/4 cup (170g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups (300g) sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp (90ml) liquid honey
1 1/2 tsp (7.5ml) vanilla extract
1/2 tsp (2.5ml) lavender extract (optional)
3 eggs, at room temperature
2 2/3 cups (390g) all-purpose flour
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp culinary lavender, finely ground in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle
1 cup (240ml) whole milk

Vanilla german buttercream
1 1/2 cups (375ml) milk
1 Tbsp Vanilla bean paste, extract, or the scrapings of one vanilla bean
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp (255g) sugar
3 Tbsp (24g) corn starch
1 egg
2 egg yolks
3 cups (675g, or 6 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature. 
pinch of salt
Gel food colouring in your chosen colour

Lavender milk chocolate ganache
200g (7oz) milk chocolate
100g (100ml) heavy cream
1 Tbsp culinary grade lavender

 

- PROCESS -

LAVENDER HONEY CAKE

Preheat the oven to 350f/180c. Grease and flour three 6 inch cake pans

Using an electric beater, or in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter until pale. Add sugar and beat for another five minutes or until light and fluffy. Add honey, vanilla, and lavender extract, and mix until incorporated. Add eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition, stopping to scrape down the bowl as necessary. 

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and dried lavender. 

Starting and ending with the flour mixture, alternately add flour and milk to the batter, and mix until well incorporated.

Divide the mixture between the tins and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until golden and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool in the tins for 10 minutes, then cool completely on a wire rack.

VANILLA GERMAN BUTTERCREAM

In a bowl, whisk together the sugar, corn starch, egg, egg yolk and salt. In a medium non-stick saucepan, heat the milk and vanilla to just shy of a simmer. Remove from the heat.

Using one hand to whisk constantly, pour half of the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture. This helps to temper the eggs and stop them from scrambling. Whisk until incorporated, and then pour the whole lot back into the saucepan. 

Heat the milk and egg mixture over medium heat, whisking constantly, until it begins to bubble. It will thicken quickly. Once it has thickened, cook for one minute, then remove from the heat. Pour into a shallow dish or bowl of a stand mixer and press some plastic wrap over the surface to avoid a skin from forming. Refrigerate until cold. If you are in a hurry, you can speed up this process by placing the custard mixture into a bowl, and placing the bowl into an ice bath, stirring frequently.

Fit your mixer with the whisk attachment. Whip the custard mixture on medium until creamy and lump-free. Begin adding the butter, a few cubes at a time, until fully incorporated. Switch to the paddle attachment and beat for a few minutes until smooth and silky. 

LAVENDER CHOCOLATE GANACHE

NOTE: do not prepare ganache until ready to use - the cake requires 1-2 hours to cool so ensure to allow enough time for this.

In a medium pot over low heat, heat the cream until almost boiling. Add culinary lavender and steep for 15 minutes. Strain and top up to 100G if necessary. Return the strained cream to the stove and heat again until hot and just beginning to boil. 

Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate, and stir until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Leave to sit for 10-15 minutes to thicken slightly.

ASSEMBLY

Level off the cakes. Place the bottom layer on a turntable or cake plate, securing with a small amount of buttercream underneath. Place a generous amount of buttercream on the cake, smooth out, and place the second layer carefully on top, ensuring that it is level. Repeat the process until the cake is stacked. Give the cake a thin layer of buttercream on the top and outside of the cake to act as the 'crumb coat', and allow to rest in the fridge for 20-30 minutes until set.

While the cake is resting, transfer a small amount of buttercream (about 3/4-1cup) to a separate bowl, and dye your desired shade of purple using gel food colouring. Keep the remainder of the buttercream white.

Remove the cake from the fridge. Using an offset spatula, apply a solid band of purple around the base of the cake, and a solid band of white around the top of the cake. Apply both purple and white buttercream to the middle of the cake to create an ombre effect until the cake is fully covered (see photos for a guide). Using a bench scraper or icing scraper, smooth the edges of the cake. Fill in any holes or bare spots and re-smooth. Keep the top of the cake white. Rest in the fridge for 1-2 hours or until cold - this will help stop the ganache from running.

Remove the cake from the fridge and using a teaspoon, carefully spoon the ganache onto the cake a small amount at a time, coaxing it toward the edge so that it drips down the sides of the cake. You can make the drips as close together or far apart as you like. Begin with a small amount of ganache on your spoon and do a 'test drip' to see how far down the cake it will travel before adding the rest of the drips. Once you have added drips all around the cake, add more ganache to the top of the cake using the spoon, smoothing it with the back of the spoon to create a smooth top. 

Rest in the fridge to allow the ganache to set, then decorate with your choice of flowers.