Auguest 2020: Brendon D'Souza

Brioche Loaf

“When someone cooks with love, the meal deserves to be celebrated. You get dressed, choose a killer playlist, and pour a glass of wine then sit down to share the magic with your loved ones.” — Brendon D’Souza

Auguest 2020: Brendon D'Souza

In the middle of typing out a fairly lengthy email at work, my phone vibrates. It’s Dad. A red box of Lowan Whole Foods Instant Dried Yeast appears on the screen. He’s finally found it! For weeks we’ve been on the hunt for a packet of dried yeast. The fourth-highest sought commodity after toilet paper, hand sanitiser, and plain flour. Not too long after the lockdown, Dad had picked up a 5kg bag of bread-making flour thinking it was plain flour. We could finally put it to good use.

As you can imagine, I jumped straight on the #BakeCorona bandwagon. Out came the Pyrex mixing bowls and measuring jug, and the plastic kitchen scale. Years ago I bought a book called Bread Revolution by Duncan Glendenning and Patrick Ryan. The pair had quit their day jobs and founded their artisan bakery The Thoughtful Bread Company so that they could ‘put a smile on people’s faces’ with bread that was lovingly crafted and shaped by hand. It’s a song that foodies have tooted for years. Making food the old fashioned way with time, love, and passion. It seemed to align perfectly with the requirements of the lockdown. We had to slow down and learn to relish in a simpler life. Spending more time surrounded with our immediate family or housemates. For most households, this included cooking more meals at home and actually having the time to sit down to a shared meal instead of eating on the go or by oneself.

Brioche Loaf

My first loaf worked out fairly well. It rose in the tin and had a light brown crust and was demolished within the hour with plenty of butter. Still, I felt I needed to give it another try. This time adding a little more olive oil to the base dough to make it more elastic. This helps to give it a longer shelf life too. I let this batch rise on the tray and scored it with a sharp knife to give the bread a chance to rise and create those perfect cuts. Another secret I learned probably by accident is that dough will continue to rise even in cold conditions. I had left a batch to rest overnight in the fridge in an oil-lined bowl wrapped in cling film. Funnily enough it had grown about four times its original size and produced one of the fluffiest loafs I think I have ever baked. A few loaves later I was adding in melted butter and egg yolks which produced a golden crumb and deep hazelnut crust. This is an adaptation of Duncan and Patrick’s white loaf.

Brioche Loaf Ingredients

PREP TIME 25 MINS* | COOKING TIME 1 HOUR | MAKES 1 LARGE LOAF (700G)

* Allow for an extra 60 to 90 minutes to proof the dough

INGREDIENTS

  • 600g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 125g unsalted butter, melted
  • 300 ml water
  • 3 egg yolks, plus 1 extra egg for glazing
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp instant dried yeast
  • 2 tsp salt
  • Olive oil, for greasing

Brioche Loaf Step-by-Step

METHOD

  1. Place the flour, salt, sugar, and dried yeast into a large mixing bowl. Combine the wet ingredients in a medium jug and slowly add to the dry ingredients. Combine using a whisk to form a sticky dough.
  2. Dust a clean work surface with flour. Tip out the dough and then knead for 10 minutes to form an elastic and pliable dough. You can test the dough by poking it with your finger and it should bounce back into shape.
  3. Brush a large clean mixing bowl with the olive oil. A clear glass bowl is handy so you can easily check on how the dough rises. Cover with a clean tea towel or cling wrap and set aside for 60 to 90 minutes for the first proof.
  4. Remove the covering and ‘knock-back’ the dough by gently punching it down. Turn it out onto a clean work surface and shape onto an oval. Transfer this to a loaf tin lined with baking paper. Allow the bread to proof for a second time.
  5. Preheat an oven to 230C (450F or gas mark 8). Position 2 baking racks in the centre and base of the oven. After 10 minutes reduce the temperature to 210ºC (400F or gas mark 6). Your bread goes into the top rack, and a baking dish filled 2cm high with cold water on the bottom rack. The water will steam and help the bread to rise evenly.
  6. The bread will take about 35 to 50 minutes to cook. You’ll know it’s done as your kitchen will suddenly be filled with an incredibly rich yeasty aroma. The top of the loaf will be golden and the loaf will sound hollow when tapped.
  7. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Once cool enough you can remove the loaf from the tin.
  8. Slice thick and serve with butter or your favourite spread. Enjoy!

Brioche Loaf

Brioche Loaf

Photo Courtesy & Recipe Copyright © 2020 | Brendon D’Souza (@brendonthesmilingchef)

BON APPÉTIT

– Brendon D’Souza
Follow me on Instagram at @brendonthesmilingchef

myTaste.com

Auguest 2019: Brendon D'Souza

Potato Gnocchi with Red & Yellow Peppers

Hi Foodies, it’s Brendon D’Souza from @brendonthesmilingchef here.

It’s an honour to take part in Auguest once again this year at AMCarmen’s Kitchen. Allison and I met in Sydney a few years ago through Instagram, and then in-person at a food blogging event I hosted. Since then we’ve had countless foodie adventures together.

I started a food blog called Brendon The Smiling Chef around 2012, following the success of a recipe column of the same name. I wrote, styled, and photographed the recipes of my favourite dishes and reviewed some of my favourite restaurants and cafes. The blog continued to run until around 2016. I then focused on photography and a few other passions, worked for tech startups like Deliveroo and Tix and eventually landed a role at a global workspace provider. Earlier this year I launched my photography business Sydney Food Photography. I’ve been lucky to collaborate with some amazing brands like Samsung, OzHarvest and more.

Potato Gnocchi with Red & Yellow Peppers

When I received the theme for this year, I knew I wanted to take a playful twist on the definition of fruit. Potatoes are called pomme de terre in French which could literally translate to ‘apple of the earth’ and peppers (or capsicums as we call them in Australia), are also technically a fruit of the nightshade family (Solanaceae).

Gnocchi are delightful potato dumplings made with a few simple ingredients. They are one of my favourite comfort food this winter and pair very well with a tangy roasted pepper sauce.

Potato Gnocchi with Red & Yellow Peppers

PREP TIME 25 MINS | COOKING TIME 1 HOUR 30 MINS | SERVES 6

INGREDIENTS

For the gnocchi

  • 500g potatoes, skin on
  • 200g plain flour + extra
  • 1 free-range egg yolk, lightly beaten
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

For the peppers

  • 1 large red pepper, sliced
  • 1 large yellow pepper, sliced
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil + extra

To serve

  • 250g cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Handful chopped parsley
  • Grated Grana Padano or other hard Italian cheese, to serve

Potato Gnocchi with Red & Yellow Peppers

METHOD

  1. Preparing the Potatoes: Place the potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water. Place over high heat and bring to a boil. Continue to boil until cooked through. A knife should glide through the potato when it’s cooked. Remove from the heat and drain. Cover the potatoes with cold water and set aside to cool.
  2. Roasted Peppers: Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC/160ºC fan forced. Toss the peppers with a little olive oil and garlic slices. Spread in a single layer in a roasting pan and roast for 20-25 minutes until the peppers have softened and start to caramelise around the edges. You may need to stir the peppers in the pan while roasting. Remove from the oven and set aside.
  3. Potato Gnocchi: Once the potatoes have cooled, peel and then mash. Add the 200g of flour, egg yolk, salt and pepper and mix with a wooden spoon to form a pliable dough. If the mixture looks a little sticky, add more flour until it forms a ball. It will look and feel like play dough.
  4. Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil. Sprinkle a chopping board with some extra flour. Divide the dough into quarters and roll to form a 1.5cm thick sausage. Cut the sausage into 1cm thick slices with a sharp knife dipped in some cold water. This helps to prevent the dough from sticking. I like to make my gnocchi a little rough and leave them as discs.
  5. Cook the gnocchi in small batches for 2-3 minutes. They will float to the surface when they have cooked through. Remove to large heatproof bowl and toss with a little olive oil to prevent sticking.
  6. Add the roasted peppers, cherry tomatoes, and parsley to the gnocchi and toss to combine. Drizzle with olive oil and grated Grana Padano to serve and enjoy!

Potato Gnocchi with Red & Yellow Peppers

Optional extra: I love the taste and texture of pan-fried gnocchi. To do so, heat a frying pan over a medium-high heat. Add 1 tsp butter and a drizzle of olive oil. When hot, add the gnocchi in batches and sauté until golden brown.

Potato Gnocchi with Red & Yellow Peppers

Check out my foodie adventures on Instagram at @brendonthesmilingchef

Photo Courtesy & Recipe Copyright © 2019 | Brendon D’Souza

BON APPÉTIT

– Brendon D’Souza

myTaste.com

Auguest 2018: Brendon D'Souza

Easy Avo Toasts

Hi Foodies! My name is Brendon D’Souza and I run the Sydney Food and Lifestyle Blog known as Brendon The Smiling Chef. I’m so honoured to be guest-posting here at AMCarmen’s Kitchen once again for the third time since Ally started her Auguest series.

In between running a busy collaborative workspace in the heart of Sydney, and a number of side hustles, I love developing fresh and tasty recipes that you will love to cook. Think comforting winter roasts, colourful salads, decadent desserts and much more!

Easy Avo Toasts

Sydney will forever be known as the home of over-glorified Avocado Toast for breakfast (or “brekkie” as we like to call it), and you will always find a variation of this simple recipe at any cafe or restaurant.

Treat your friends to a gorgeous breakfast feast that’s actually super easy to prepare. This is a great recipe for children to make too!

Easy Avo Toasts

PREP TIME 5 MINS | COOKING TIME — MINS | SERVES 1

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 slices multigrain bread
  • 1 large ripe avocado
  • 2 tsp olive oil

METHOD

  1. Toast the bread to your liking.
  2. Carefully peel the avocado and remove the stone.
  3. Use a spoon to scoop out the flesh and slice.
  4. Drizzle the toast with olive oil and top with the sliced avocado and season with a touch of salt and pepper. Serve and enjoy!

Brendon’s Tips

  • Jazz up your Avo Toast with a selection of your favourite ingredients.
  • Try smoked salmon, crispy bacon, fried eggs, rocket, feta, sliced cucumber, cherry tomatoes, roast beetroot or even fresh berries.

Easy Avo Toasts

Easy Avo Toasts

Check out my Instagram @brendonthesmilingchef to keep up do date with all my adventures.

Photo Courtesy & Recipe Copyright © 2018 | brendonthesmilingchef

Happy cooking and keep smiling,

– Brendon (Brendon The Smiling Chef)

myTaste.com

White Chocolate & Macadamia Red Velvet Cookies

White Chocolate & Macadamia Red Velvet Cookies

Hello Everyone! I don’t think I ever mentioned it in the past 3 posts for the month of November, but I’m pretty sure that most of you who follow my blog are smart little ducklings and have already probably figured out that the theme for Amcarmen’s Kitchen this month is all about Procrastibaking – well, really, not really. The theme isn’t just centred around baking, but it is most definitely about baking with… CHOCOLATE! How did I come up with this month’s theme you ask (well if you didn’t ask then read ahead hehe), I wanted to bake a Chocolate cake for my birthday this month, and I had two chocolate-linked recipes sitting in my archives waiting to be post up on my blog, and so… Baking with Chocolate came into play!

Or you could probably just say that I’ve been lazy and haven’t been in the mood to cook on Sundays for the past few weeks – which is partially true. It’s not that I was being lazy – it was more like I wanted to have a Sunday to myself doing whatever I want, meaning doing nothing actually *cheeky grin* instead of slaving away in the hot kitchen the whole afternoon. I’ve probably mentioned this in a post before, but for those of you who don’t know, I work 6 days a week from 8am to 5pm. By Sunday, all I want to do is just sit back and do nothing, however, if I did do that, I wouldn’t be able to keep up with Amcarmen’s Kitchen any longer.

White Chocolate & Macadamia Red Velvet Cookies

Anyway, enough of my rants, let’s move on to tonight’s recipe – an adaptation from none other than my favourite baker out there, Sally’s Baking Addiction. You can find the original recipe for these cookies over on her blog. If you went over to visit her blog, you’d notice that they are actually Red Velvet Chocolate Chip Cookies, but I decided to do a little twist and use white chocolate chips instead and pair them with macadamia nuts! The perfect combination in my opinion! I’d like to take this opportunity to share a recipe by a friend of mine, also known as Brendon The Smiling Chef, for his “I Love You This Much” Giant Red Velvet Cookie. I remember the time we met up and cooked together for my Auguest series last year, Brendon baked a Giant Chocolate Chip Cookie from the left over cookie dough he had from his “Cookies & Cream” inspired dessert. I think I might bake a Giant Cookie for next week actually!

White Chocolate & Macadamia Red Velvet Cookies Ingredients

White Chocolate & Macadamia Red Velvet Cookies

PREP TIME 1 HOUR 10 MINS* | COOKING TIME 10 MINS | SERVES 18 COOKIES

*Includes chilling time

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 & 1/2 cups + 1 tbsp plain flour, spooned and leveled
  • 1 cup semi-sweet white chocolate chips (plus a few extra for after baking)
  • 3/4 cup packed light (or dark) brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup raw macadamia nuts, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder
  • 115g unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 large free range egg, room temperature
  • 1 & 1/2 tbsp red food colouring
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt

METHOD

  1. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt together until incorporated well. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the softened butter using a handheld or stand mixer with a paddle attachment on high speed until creamy, about 1 minute. When necessary, scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl. Add in the brown and granulated sugar, beating until combined and creamy, about another minute. Then, beat in the egg, milk, and vanilla extract, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Once mixed, add the food colouring and beat until combined.
  3. Turn the mixer off and pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Turn the mixer on and slow beat on low speed until a very soft dough is formed. Beat in more food colouring if you’d like the dough to be a brighter red.
  4. Add in the white chocolate chips, and roughly chopped macadamia nuts and use a spatula to combine with the dough mixture. At this point, the dough will be sticky.
  5. Cover the dough tightly with aluminum foil or plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour (and up to 3 days). Chilling is mandatory.
  6. Preheat the oven to 180C (350F or gas mark 4) (177°C). Line two large baking trays with parchment paper or silicone baking mats and set aside.
  7. Scoop about 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of dough and roll into a ball, as pictured above. Place 9 balls onto each baking sheet and bake each batch for about10-11 minutes. The cookies may have only spread slightly and that’s ok. Simply press down on the warm cookies to slightly flatten and form crinkles. Stick a few chocolate chips into the tops of the warm cookies (optional and only for looks).
  8. Allow the cookies to cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool down completely. Enjoy and share with family and friends!

White Chocolate & Macadamia Red Velvet Cookies

White Chocolate & Macadamia Red Velvet Cookies

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Auguest 2016: Brendon D'Souza

Spinach, Broccoli & Thai Green Curry Soup

Hi Foodies, it’s so exciting to be able to share a recipe with you via Amcarmen’s Kitchen and I want to say a big thank you to Allison for organising such a wonderful global blogging experience. Last year, I was able to cook and collaborate in the same kitchen with Allison, where were exchanged some delicious recipes. If you haven’t had the chance to read them, here are the links to my Giant Chocolate Chip Cookie and Cookies & Cream.

My friends call me a chilli fiend. I can’t help it, I am after all Indian. I just love the pungency and zing it adds to soups, curries and stews. I created this recipe on one of those cold winter Sydney evenings when feeling a little bit under the weather. It’s packed full of delicious super greens, fragrant herbs and spices that will help to reinvigorate your senses. Make a big batch and pack it for work the next mayor freeze in snap-lock bags for 1-2 months.

Spinach, Broccoli & Thai Green Curry Soup Ingredients

PREP TIME 30 MINS | COOKING TIME 30 MINS | SERVES 3-4

INGREDIENTS

For the green curry paste

  • 1 large garlic clove, peeled
  • 5cm piece of ginger, washed
  • 2 spring onions
  • 1 bunch coriander, washed, roots and stems scrubbed
  • 1 bunch Thai basil, washed (optional)
  • 2 tbsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2-3 small green chillies

For the soup

  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 cup firmly packed English Spinach, washed and finely chopped
  • 1 broccoli, cut into florets, stem diced
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • Lime wedges
  • Extra coconut milk, to serve

METHOD

  1. Roughly chop the garlic clove, ginger, spring onions, coriander leaves, root and stems, and Thai basil. Place these and the remaining ingredients into a blender along with a 1/4 cup water. Blitz to form a smooth paste. You may need to add some more water to help the mixture along.
  2. Heat the sunflower oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the curry paste to the saucepan and cook, stirring occasionally until fragrant. Add the spinach and broccoli and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add 1L cold water and cook over medium-high heat for 10 minutes or until the broccoli stems are tender and the spinach is wilted. Allow to cool.
  3. Purée the mixture using a stick blender, then return to the heat and add the coconut milk. Allow to heat through. Serve with lime wedges and a drizzle of coconut milk. This soup goes really well with turkish borek or spinach and ricotta triangles.

Spinach, Broccoli & Thai Green Curry Soup

For more tasty recipes and Sydney food adventures head to www.brendonthesmilingchef.com

About Brendon
I’m a food writer, blogger and passionate home cook living and working in Sydney. By day I work at one of the world’s fastest growing premium restaurant delivery services, and by night I cook, style and photograph recipes for my award-winning recipe blog. I really can’t stop smiling, believe me, I’ve tried and probably lasted 2 seconds. Sharing food, stories and recipes with family and friends makes me happy, which is exactly why I created “Smiling Chef”. I often try to include a selection colourful vegetables in my cooking, for both it’s nutritional benefits, and the fact that it makes such great #foodporn for Instagram. Get in touch if you need #instaworthy shots of your restaurant or cafe food for your website and social networks. I’m also keen singer and pianist and also love street and landscape photography – see more at @my_omd_and_me.

Instagram: @brendonthesmilingchef/ @my_omd_and_me
SnapChat: bthesmilingchef
Facebook: brendonthesmilingchef
Twitter: bthesmilingchef

Recipe Copyright © 2016 | brendonthesmilingchef

Happy cooking and keep smiling,

Brendon D’Souza:)

myTaste.com

Auguest 2015: Brendon D'Souza

Brendon’s Giant Chocolate Chip Cookie

Hi Everyone! It’s Brendon from Brendon The Smiling Chef again with my second delicious dessert post as part of Amcarmen’s Kitchen’s Auguest series. It’s been a pleasure to be able to share my recipes with you, and next week you can visit my website to check out Ally’s mouthwatering recipes for Adobo and Sinigang.

Brendon's Giant Chocolate Chip Cookie

Here in Australia we often take for granted just how lucky we are to have an abundance of fresh, delicious food whenever we want it. On my travels to developing parts of India or Peru I saw firsthand the immense poverty and malnutrition that many people experience in their daily life. With populations on the rise, food is becoming an increasingly scarce and precious commodity. Back home in Sydney I’ve volunteered for a number of years with St. Vincent De Paul Society in their Vinnies Van appeal, providing fresh meals to people less fortunate. I’ve seen their struggle and this is why find it extremely difficult to hear that in the state of New South Wales alone (where I live) we throw away over 1.1 million tonnes of food each year! It’s a ridiculous amount and we really need to be more careful with our food consumption habits if we are to create a sustainable future for the generations to come.

The recipe I’d like to share with you today is part of a collection of recipes I like to call “Up-cycled Food”. The idea is simple – take your leftovers or parts of ingredients you would commonly throw away (such as parsley stalks or vegetable stems to name a few) and turn them into a delicious meal. At the end of my Cookies and Cream recipe from Tuesday’s post, I promised to show you what you can do with your leftover chocolate chip cookie dough. Sometimes I genuinely cannot be bothered to roll out a million tiny balls for individual cookies. Instead I press the dough into a cake tin or slice pan and bake it as one giant choice chip cookie. It still tastes absolutely delicious and much faster to make. You can either use your leftover cookie dough from Tuesday’s recipe (and simply skip straight to step 3) or make some more dough using the recipe below.

Brendon's Giant Chocolate Chip Cookie

PREP TIME 10 MINS | COOKING TIME 20-30 MINS | MAKES 2 GIANT COOKIES

INGREDIENTS

  • 250g unsalted butter, softened
  • 200g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 200g milk chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1/4 cup baking powder
  • 1 free range egg
  • 1 tbsp vanilla bean paste (or extract)

METHOD

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 170C (325F or gas mark 3). Grease two 20cm spring form cake tins with butter and line with a disc of baking paper. Place each onto a baking tray and set aside.
  2. Place the butter and sugar and vanilla into the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until fluffy. Alternatively use electric hand beaters. Add the egg and beat until combined. Add the flour, baking powder and salt and stir to form a smooth dough. Add the chopped chocolate stir to combine.
  3. Divide the dough in half and press into each cake tin using your fingertips.
  4. Place the baking tray on the middle shelf of the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until for a soft, fudgy cookie. Increase cooking time to between 25-30 minutes for a firmer, biscuit-y texture. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  5. Cut into wedges and serve. Any leftover ganache from Tuesday’s recipe tastes delicious with these gooey cookies. Simply warm it up then drizzle for a full-on chocolate hit!

That wraps up things for me here at Amcarmen’s Kitchen. It’s been a pleasure to be a part of this Auguest series. You can check out all my cooking and food blogging adventures at Brendon The Smiling Chef. While you’re there check out my Instagram page @brendonthesmilingchef.

Brendon's Giant Chocolate Chip Cookie

Recipe Copyright © 2015 | brendonthesmilingchef

Happy cooking and keep smiling,

Brendon D’Souza 🙂

myTaste.com

Auguest 2015: Brendon D'Souza

Brendon’s Cookies & Cream

Hi Everyone! Hope you’re all having a lovely day wherever you are. My name is Brendon D’Souza and I am a writer and food blogger from Sydney. I’m very honoured to be a part of this Auguest series and have some exciting dessert creations to share with you over the next two posts.

I launched my website Brendon The Smiling Chef in 2012, posting simple recipes that I had cooked for dinner. I developed skills in food styling and photography through internships and writing and editing roles at Green Lifestyle, Grapeshot, Australian Catholics and Youth Food Movement Australia and started to apply these skills to my recipe posts. This year I plan to make a few exciting changes with the website and include a restaurant review section called “Smiling & Dining @” which features reviews that I publish at Zomato While you’re there feel free to check out all my foodie adventures in Instagram at @brendonthesmilingchef.

Brendon's Cookies & Cream

I met Ally a few months ago at a food blogging seminar held in Sydney and she told me all about her passion for exploring cultures through food, which is something that I too love! We caught up a few weeks ago for a fabulous cooking day where she showed me how to make some delicious Filipino recipes (Which you can check out at Brendon The Smiling Chef next week). The recipe that I’m going to share with you today is a bit of an invention that I have drawn from my experiences of growing up here in Australia. Like Ally, I too am a bit of a third-culture foodie. My family are Indian and are originally from the state of Goa which sits on the West Coast of India. Goa is largely influenced by the Portuguese, who colonised the region in around the 16th Century, so our culture, customs and cuisine are surprisingly similar to Europe. I was born in Bahrain and lived there for two years before we migrated to Australia in the mid-nineties.

Growing up in Western Sydney, I was surrounded by a wealth of multicultural diversity and from a young age I was introduced to the cultures and cuisines of the Philippines, Southern America, Malta and Vietnam to name a few. Despite all this I have to admit that as a child I was very embarrassed about being Indian. It’s one of side-effects of growing up in Anglo-Saxon society. I saw myself as different from all the other kids at school. I had black hair, brown skin and brown eyes rather than blonde hair and blue eyes. Now that we’ve all grown up, a lot of my friends have said that they experienced these feelings too! I would cringe when I opened my lunchbox to find the beautiful Goan prawn curry and rice that mum had packed for me. What would the other kids think? We never really ate much Indian food at home when we were younger because my sister and I, being True Blue Aussies, didn’t like the pungent spices used in most of our cooking. They were too hot for our tiny tastebuds to handle. In these instances, six-year-old Brendon would drag a chair to the kitchen and reach for a jar of tomato paste sauce to put together my version of Spaghetti Bolognese; 1 kilogram of beef mince with 1 jar of tomato paste, yes paste (#IcantbelieveIdidthat), stirred through.

Brendon's Cookies & Cream

The 2000’s came along we noticed a number of American food products appearing on the supermarket shelves including Pop Tarts, Oreos, and Krispy Kreme Donuts. My favourite was Hershey’s Cookies ’n’ Creme bar, (or the Mars® counterpart Dove), a dreamy combination of white chocolate with tiny chocolate cookie pieces. It was ever popular among my Filipino friends. They had experienced this delight for years because it was sold in all the Filipino grocery stores. We saw it as a luxury because it was so new! It became one of my favourite flavour combos and, to nine-year-old Brendon’s delight, even started appearing in ice creams and cheesecakes!

I was playing around with the idea of reinventing Cookies and Cream and turning it into a sophisticated dessert. Chocolate chip cookies would definitely feature because who doesn’t love a good chocolate chip cookie? A white chocolate and vanilla bean ganache could represent the Cream and a 70% dark chocolate ganache would balance the sweetness. It had been a while since I’d tried to make macarons from scratch but I thought it would be nice to have some chocolate almond cigars to add another texture and flavour to the dessert. We made up the recipe for these while referring to the Master Adriano Zumbo’s for rough measurements. They weren’t as smooth on top but they made delicious chewy cookies.

Brendon's Cookies & Cream Ingredients

PREP TIME 30 MINS | COOKING TIME 15 MINS | SERVES 2-3

INGREDIENTS

For the white chocolate and vanilla bean ganache

  • 100ml pure cream
  • 200g white chooclate, chopped
  • 1 tbsp vanilla bean paste
  • 1 tsp glucose syrup

For the bitter dark chocolate ganache

  • 100ml pure cream
  • 150g dark chocolate (min. 70% cocoa solids)
  • 1 tsp glucose syrup

For the chocolate almond cigars

  • 1 free range egg white
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 150g almond meal
  • 2 tbsp Dutch process cocoa powder

For the chocolate chip cookies

  • 250g unsalted butter, softened
  • 200g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 200g milk chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1/4 cup baking powder
  • 1 free range egg
  • 1 tbsp vanilla bean paste (or extract)

METHOD

Preparation

  1. White chocolate and vanilla bean ganache: Place the cream and white chocolate into a microwave-safe bowl and stir to combine. Heat for 30 seconds on medium then give the bowl a stir with a spatula. Continue to heat and stir the ganache in this way until smooth. Alternatively you can place the chocolate and cream into a heatproof glass bowl set over a pan of simmering water and stir until melted. When smooth, add the vanilla bean paste and the glucose syrup and stir until smooth. Allow to cool completely. Transfer the ganache to a disposable piping bag, seal the end with a rubber band and place in the fridge until cold but pliable.
  2. Bitter chocolate ganache. Place the cream and dark chocolate into a microwave-safe bowl and stir to combine. Heat for 30 seconds on medium then give the bowl a stir with a spatula. Continue to heat and stir the ganache in this way until smooth. Alternatively you can place the chocolate and cream into a heatproof glass bowl set over a pan of simmering water and stir until melted. When smooth, add the glucose syrup and stir until smooth. Allow to cool completely. Transfer the ganache to a disposable piping bag, seal the end with a rubber band and place in the fridge until cold but pliable.

Chocolate Almond Cigars

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 150C (300F or gas mark 2). Line a baking tray with baking paper and set aside.
  2. Place the egg white into a clean stainless steel or glass bowl free from grease or dirt. Whip to soft peaks using clean electric beaters. Add 1 tbsp of castor sugar to the egg whites and beat for 20-30 seconds or until the sugar has dissolved. Continue to add the sugar in this way until you have a glossy meringue. Sprinkle the almond meal and cocoa powder over and fold using a spatula to form a smooth batter.
  3. Transfer the batter to a disposable piping bag, twist the opening to enclose the filling and carefully cut off the tip of the bag to create a hole 2cm in diameter.
  4. Pipe 5cm cigars onto the baking sheet. You will need about 8 for this recipe. Allow them to rest for 10 minutes.
  5. Place the tray on the middle shelf of the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes or until the cigars have risen. Remove the tray from the oven and allow them to cool. When cool, take your piping bag with the white chocolate ganache and pipe a line down half the cigars. Sandwich with another cigar on top.

Brendon's Cookies & Cream

Chocolate Chip Cookies

  1. Place the butter and sugar and vanilla into the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until fluffy. Alternatively use electric hand beaters. Add the egg and beat until combined. Add the flour, baking powder and salt and stir to form a smooth dough. Add the chopped chocolate stir to combine.
  2. Roll out 12 cookies using 2 tsp cookie dough for each. Place them onto the prepared baking tray leaving about 3cm between each cookie for spreading. You will only need a small amount of the dough for the recipe but I’ll show you what you can do with your leftovers in my next recipe. Wrap the leftover dough tightly with cling wrap and place in the fridge.
  3. Place the baking tray on the middle shelf of the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes until the cookies have spread. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  4. Crumble 4 of the cookies to form cookie crumbs.

Plate up the dessert

  1. This is where the fun begins. Feel free to let your imagination run wild. Sprinkle the cookie crumbs across 4 serving plates. Pipe some white chocolate ganache onto each of the serving plates. Then rest a cigar along the ganache. Divide the chocolate chip cookies among the plates. Make a 1cm hole in the piping bag with the biter chocolate ganache and pipe them around the plate. Serve.

Ally and I had lots of fun with the plating. Check out our attempts.

Brendon's Cookies & Cream

Brendon's Cookies & Cream

Recipe Copyright © 2015 | brendonthesmilingchef

Happy cooking and keep smiling,

Brendon D’Souza 🙂

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