While baking the new autumnal issue of Clouds magazine we had a a few very pleasant, delicious, and greatly entertaining photo-shoots to handle. It was a good time, one of those gather-together, bring the food and have some fun type of thing, all till the very top filled with marvelous tastes and aromas, tables brimming with food, and the air, thick and creamy, deliberately dusted with sugar.
Somewhere in between, there was coffee. A lot of it. Coffee from Kenya, Ethiopia, Colombia, and Guatemala. Coffee on the table and under it. Coffee in a glass, or in a cup, or in a teaspoon. Coffee beans and coffee tea. Coffee coffee coffee! Good coffee, by the way, roasted to perfection by lovely Taste Map coffee roasters I had already talked about.
And just right next to the coffee, there were a few desserts to match it. Though, not just any kind of desserts; desserts very carefully thought-out so that when paired with a sip of that deeply luscious muddy drink, they wouldn't overshadowed it but rather complemented in a best possible way. That's way sweet and full-flavored Colombia was paired with nutty and fruity chocolate brownie...
Brownie with Dried Fruits and Hazelnuts
1/3 cup hazelnuts
2/3 cup dried fruits (cranberries, raisins, prunes, apricots)
70 g (2.5 oz) dark chocolate
80 g (2.8 oz) butter
70 g (2.5 oz) sugar
90 g (3.2 oz) flour
¼ tsp salt
In a dry pan on a medium heat, toast hazelnuts until their skin starts to come off. Take off from the heat, leave to cool, then rub in your hands, or in a dish towel, until skins flake away.
Rinse the dried fruits with water. Transfer on a paper towel and leave to dry.
In a double boiler, melt together the dark chocolate and butter. Take out from heat and let the mixture cool slightly. Stir in the sugar and whisk in the the eggs, one at a time. Finally, add the flour and mix everything thoroughly.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350 F).
Spread the batter in a 18x18 cm (7x7 inch) size square baking pan lined with parchment paper. Evenly arrange dried fruits and hazelnuts on top. If fruits or nuts seem too big, chop them coarsely. Bake for 18-20 minutes.
When the brownie is done, leave it to cool in a baking dish for a few minutes. Then transfer on a wire rack to cool completely.
Store in a dry airtight container.
Muffins with Pears, Caramelized Onions and Smoked Pork Neck
2 medium onions
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp brown sugar
300 g (10.5 oz) flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 large egg
340 ml (11.5 oz) plain natural yogurt
40 ml (1.4 oz) olive oil
1 medium or 2 small pears
10-12 thin slices of smoked pork neck
Thinly slice the onions.
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a pan. When the oil is hot enough, add the sliced onions and cook on medium heat until soft and translucent. Pour in balsamic vinegar and brown sugar. Cook for a few minutes. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
In a separate bowl, whisk the egg. Pour in the yogurt and oil, and mix well. Add wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and carefully combine them, making sure not to over-mix the batter: mix just until the flour is moistened. In a few quick stirs incorporate the caramelized onions and pears.
Preheat oven to 180°C (350 F).
Divide the batter between muffin tins, topping each of them with the smoked pork neck slices. Bake for 45-50 minutes.
When the muffins are done, let them cool on a wire rack.
Store in a dry air-tight container. Eat within 4-5 days.
The whole story on food and coffee pairing together with all the remaining recipes for the Lemon Cake, Vanilla Panna Cotta as well as unique Cascara Chai Latte can be found right inside the magazine. So, if you want to know more about those coffees, their origins and what is the best way to brew each of them, page 12-24 is the place for you to be!