Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Pink Strawberry Chocolate Fondue with Strawberries

Sadly this post comes with a warning. I made a trip to the dentist yesterday and it seems I am to pay for my sweet addiction with a possible root canal. I'm sure its been coming for several years now but it reminded me of how much sugar my body processes every year. Sweets. They rule my life. Yet the cost is far greater than just that of the ingredients.
No but really, don't expect a decrease in the number of recipes being posted on this blog. Although I am shirking sugar for a while until I cease to feel guilty about that tooth, the baking continues...just not for me.
But that's really what I'm about anyway. My satisfaction in cooking comes almost entirely by giving other people the pleasure of devouring it. Of course the cooking, photography and blogging is pretty awesome too. But cooking for the people I love, just tops it right off.
So here's a little bit of decadence, a great centre piece for table when guests are over, and an elegant end to a meal. Strawberry chocolate fondue with strawberries, cake, or any other delightful nibble you want to add to the skewer!




STRAWBERRY CHOCOLATE FONDUE WITH STRAWBERRY SKEWERS

3/4 cup cream
12 oz white chocolate buttons
2-3 tbsp strawberry liqueur
1 drop red food colouring

Heat cream on a medium flame for 2-3 minutes until hot. Add the chocolate, and stir continuously until melted. Remove from heat. Add the food colouring and flavouring. Serve over tea-light flame with fresh strawberry skewers.

Serves 6 or more






Friday, February 24, 2012

Sticky Date Puddings with Toffee Sauce

I once heard a real estate agent giving a client tips on improving the chances of selling their house, which had been on the market for some time. I have never forgotten it because it was to do with food. It was such a simple, clever idea and it won me over.
Brew some coffee. Bake some biscuits. Fill the house with comfortable, homey, delicious aromas. Take the time to do these simple things before a home inspection and the chance of pleasing the inspectors greatly increases.
The scent of cinnamon, the smell of freshly baked bread...these and many more smells are often nostalgic, aromas people enjoy and feel comfortable with.
Need to sell your house and have a home inspection coming up? Whip up a batch of these delicious individual sticky date puddings and your house will smell divine. Drizzle it in a splashing of toffee sauce with a ball of ice cream to top off your day!

"This has to be the stickiest, most wicked dessert recipe I know. Its texture is rich and gooey, and the stickiness contrasts beautifully with the vanilla ice cream. Serve the pudding as hot as possible. It also freezes very well, so is a great standby for busy cooks."
~Simone Logue, Simone Logue Food Company, Sydney






STICKY DATE PUDDINGS WITH TOFFEE SAUCE (by Simone Logue, from "Wicked")

180g dried dates, pitted, chopped
1 tsp bicarb soda
1 cup water, boiling

50g unsalted butter
150g brown sugar 
2 eggs
180g self raising flour, sifted

Toffee Sauce:


150g brown sugar
1 cup thin cream
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
20g unsalted butter 

Preheat oven to 180C.
Combine the dates and bicarb soda in a bowl. Pour over the boiling water, and set aside for 20-30 minutes, or until room temperature.
Cream together butter and sugar in a large bowl until pale. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between additions until smooth. Use a metal spoon to gently fold in the flour, then stir in the date mixture.
Pour the mixture into regular sized muffin pans (we used silicone for ease), and bake until cooked through, for about half an hour. Set aside for 5 minutes before turning out.

To make the sauce, combine all ingredients in a saucepan over a low heat, stirring, until the butter has melted. Simmer for 5 minutes. Pour hot sauce over individual sticky date puddings with a scoop of ice cream. Serve.

Serves approximately 10
 





Monday, February 20, 2012

Cinnamon Toast Scrolls

After a little break (which was perfect timing for me, due to the birth of my little daughter) The Secret Recipe Club is back. I was assigned an amazing blog this round, Kitchen Belleicious with the lovely Jessica, who sounds as obsessed with creating food stuff as I am...and also has a newborn in the house like myself.
Busy mums need those quick and delicious recipes that can be whipped out at top speed and with little hassle, and my eyes where immediately drawn to a fabulous idea that Jessica had discovered. It was all those things I needed as a mum with a newborn in the house.

Time saver. Interesting. Delicious. Amazing in its simplicity. Ingenious. 

Besides being completely quick and delicious, these little guys are practically foolproof...and you will probably have everything required for this recipe right at your fingertips. White bread? Cinnamon? Sugar? Butter?
That's all you need to create these delightful little cinnamon scrolls, twists, or rolls. Get creative and make them just the way that tickles your fancy. I even got a little bit naughty and drizzled some thin white icing and crushed nuts over them...mmmh!
This one's marked down in my memory, ready to draw out in all those stolen moments in the kitchen when the baby is sleeping for half an hour--and there are visitors expected! Not only will you have a delicious treat to serve with tea and coffee, but you will have the delightful aroma of cinnamon wafting through the house (overtaking the smell of a freshly changed nappy, perhaps)






CINNAMON TOAST SCROLLS (from Kitchen Belleicious)

12 slices of fresh white bread
melted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
3 tbsp cinnamon powder

Preheat the oven to 190C (375F).
Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.
Cut the crusts off each slice of bread. Using a rolling pin, roll each slice as thinly as you can. Spread both sides of the piece of bread with melted butter. Coat one side of the buttered bread with the cinnamon sugar, ensuring that it is generously covered. Roll as desired (be as creative as you like) and fit the cinnamon roll into a greased mini muffin tray. (I used a silicone mini muffin tray that saves even more time)
 Repeat with the remaining slices. Bake for 15-20 or until golden brown. Cool in tray a few minutes before removing. Serve warm, as is, or with a little drizzling of icing sugar and crushed nuts.
Makes 12

Notes: These freeze well! To reheat, thaw in microwave and place in oven at a low heat until warm and crisp.





Saturday, February 18, 2012

Sweetpea Baby Shower Cake


Recently, my blog has become a dangerous vision in this house. I can't open the page without causing hysterics. No, its not my husband.
Its my son, the little man of the house, who has gained quite a sweet tooth.
His favourite thing is "cack" and he calls for it as soon as he sees me open my blog. He whines continuously that he wants some and then he goes and pulls out the cookbooks and magazines and pages through, virtually drooling over the pictures he sees before him.
What monster have I made! The cookie monster, mini sized and eager to stuff his sweet little mouth with as much as he can get.


Here he is, a vision in cake...I mean, a vision in nothing, armed with two spoons, eating the leftovers of a baby shower cake.
Which is really the reason for this post. It's nothing fancy, just a little project that kept me busy before my sister-in-law's baby shower. I always have grand plans, that rapidly down size themselves due to lack of time and the sweet demands of motherhood.





Flowers and other decorations were made using rolled fondant, was a lot of fun but I wish I had more time to fine tune the modeling. Here's how to make your own rolled fondant. The plaque was a little experiment of mine that didn't dry in time, hence it rippled on the cake. The writing was made using edible gold dust mixed with a little vodka.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Mini Red Velvet Cheesecakes

Cochineal. You may associate this with the red dye used in Red Velvet Cakes, but when I think of the word I think cacti eating, crushed beetles.
Yes, believe it or not, that's where the red colouring comes from, the Cochineal beetle. They are found in Mexico and South America and are farmed for their colour properties. If this all sounds a little freaky, have no fear--plain red food colouring is a fine substitute, and makes these delicious red velvet cheesecakes brilliant. Not only are they delightfully delicious, they make a truly impressive appearance on the table when guests are over. I added these to our St. Valentine's Day menu for dessert, and they were a hit!



 MINI RED VELVET CHEESECAKES (Adapted recipe from Betty Crocker)


15 chocolate chip biscuits
2 tbsp cocoa powder
3 tbsp butter, melted
400g cream cheese, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
3 tbsp cocoa powder, extra
2 tsp. vanilla essence
2 tbsp. red food colouring
3 eggs
1/2 cup cream, beaten

Preheat oven at 180C.
In a small bowl, mix crushed biscuits with melted butter until well combined. Divide mixture among 12 foil regular sized cupcake cups (We used a silicone muffin pan instead) pressing into the base with a spoon.
Beat the cream cheese in a medium bowl until smooth. Gradually add the sugar, and then the cocoa powder until fluffy. Add the vanilla and red food colouring. Beat in the eggs, one at a time until well incorporated.
Divide the batter evenly among the cups, ensuring the mixture comes up almost to the rim.
Bake for 20-15 minutes until the centres are firm to touch. Cool for 15 minutes in the tray. (centres may sink a little)
Refrigerate in tray/baking cups for at least two hours before serving. Garnish with whipped cream and cocoa powder if desired.

Makes approximately 12 cheesecakes

NOTES: You can use any preferred biscuits for the base.


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Tim Tam Brownies

Possibly one of the most wicked brownies in exsistence. The Tim Tam brownie.
What exactly is a tim tam? You may wonder what this chocolate coated goodness is that I speak of.
Tim Tams are possible one of the most wicked things that finds its way into my pantry. Trust me, a packet of those babies doesn't stay there long. They're compiled of two layers of chocolate biscuit wedged with a chocolate cream and then coated, or double coated in an outer layer of chocolate. Add brownie to that mix and you're in for a death by chocolate treat. 

Moist chocolate brownie, chocolate, chocolate malt biscuit, light chocolate cream, chocolate malt biscuit, chocolate, and moist chocolate brownie again. 

Add some ice cream for a quick dessert!
But wait, it gets better. Tim Tams come in all different flavours, as well as white, dark, milk and double coated varieties. Find yourself trying to decide between choc mint tim tams, caramel, rum and raisin, cookies and cream, black forest, (and the list goes on). It's a near impossible task to decide! So mix it up and make your choice of flavoured Tim tam Brownie! You wont regret it (but your waistline might)





TIM TAM BROWNIE

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup plain flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 packet tim tam biscuits

Preheat your oven to 190C.
Melt butter and remove from heat. Stir through the cocoa and brown sugar until combined.
Beat in the eggs and vanilla. Next, blend in the flour and salt. Spoon a thin layer of batter into a lined dish. Arrange the tim tam biscuits on the top of this batter as desire. Cover the biscuits with the remainder of the mixture and smooth the top. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove, and  when cooled, cut into squares serve with ice cream.


OTHER WAYS TO ENJOY YOUR TIM TAMS:

1.Bite the ends off, and drink your coffee through its deliciousness.

2.Crush up tim tams finely and add enough cream cheese to be able to form balls. coat in chocolate for decadent truffles.

3. Roughly break up tim tams and swirl through softened vanilla ice cream; refreeze. Tim tam Ice Cream? Yes please!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

White Chocolate Lemon Truffles

As promised, I have a few more delightful truffle and chocolate recipes to share. Here's a delicious white chocolate truffle, zesty with lemon accents and ever so creamy. Pop one of these in your mouth and you won't be able to stop.



WHITE CHOCOLATE LEMON TRUFFLES (adapted slightly from Swapna's Cuisine)

500g white chocolate, chopped
zest of one lemon
1/4 cup (60ml) lemon juice
1/3 cup cream
cocoa powder or caster sugar to roll

Combine the cream and zest a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture starts to bubble, but not boil.
Remove from heat and add the chocolate, whisking quickly until the chocolate has melted and becomes thick and smooth. Add the lemon juice and mix until well incorporated. Transfer the mixture to a glass bowl and cover with cling wrap. Refrigerate until firm enough to form balls. Form rough balls using a teaspoon. Roll the truffles in caster sugar or cocoa powder and place in paper cases. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.





Monday, February 13, 2012

White Chocolate Hazelnut Rafaello Balls

With Saint Valentine's Day on the cards, I've come to ponder, what is romance? What is romantic? So I asked my husband what he thought and we both came up with the same thing.
It doesn't have to be a trip to Paris. It doesn't have to be anything sweep-me-off-my-feet movie style.
It's the little things, the thoughtful things, surprising things that are romantic in this house. I'm sure its different for everyone, but I don't need loud or extravagant gifts from my man to feel and know that he loves me.
So are you stuck for a St. Valentine's Day gift? What is romantic to you and your better half?
To be honest I swept my brow in relief to find out my husband had the same idea of romance as me. Truth be told, most couples probably share the same ideas on love and romance, otherwise they wouldn't be together.
So when I found myself stuck for a gift for my hubby, I started trying to think outside the box, and it brought me to the chocolate box. Whats that cacophony I hear? Oh its my readers...
Not a box of chocolates!
Oh hush. This isn't your ordinary box of chocolates. Its a designer box of chocolates.
So here's the idea. Its sweet, original, unique and hand made...nothing comes from the heart more than something home and hand made! It's relatively budget friendly too, if you can curb your wild creative side enough to stick within a budget.
So here it is...I am going to make a box of assorted truffles and chocolates. Each will be named after a special occasion that my husband and I have shared together eg. First Kiss, Wedding Day, Proposal, First Date, Honeymoon, you get the picture. You could also name the chocolates after pet names, places you've been on dates, or even things that spell romance to you. Each chocolate will have a little tag attached, a little story that goes with it. A box of memory chocolates! Reliving moments of romance over a box of chocolates...sounds pretty sweet to me!
So here I am, on the hunt for great chocolate and truffle recipes. I've found a few wonderful ones, so stay tuned!
Here's one for the Rafaello Fans. Ever wondered how to make your own Rafaello chocolates? Here's how. And you'll just fall in love with the simple decadence of these beauties. Coconut, white chocolate and vanilla wafer rolled around one roasted hazelnut. Divine.







WHITE CHOCOLATE HAZELNUT RAFAELLO BALLS (translated and adapted from Din Bucataria Mea)

200ml condensed milk
3-4 tbsp. full cream milk powder
50g butter, room temperature
100g coconut flakes
50g vanilla wafer biscuits, crushed
toasted hazelnut, if desired
150g white chocolate, melted
150g coconut extra

Mix butter with condensed milk, add milk powder, coconut flakes, and crushed vanilla wafers. Mix until well combined. Roll into walnut sized balls; flatten in the palm on your hand and press a hazelnut into the centre. Re-roll so that the hazelnut is well covered and positioned in the middle of the ball. Repeat until all mixture is used.
Melt the chocolate. Put the extra coconut in a small bowl. Using a fork, dip each ball into the white chocolate and coat. Let the excess chocolate drain from the all before rolling it through the coconut, then place on a tray. Repeat until all the balls are coated and refrigerate until ready to serve.

NOTES: These delicious chocolates are just as delicious without the nut in the centre, and look marvelous boxed as a gift




HAPPY ST. VALENTINE'S DAY!!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Floating Coconut Island Macaroons

They're not your ordinary macaroons. These fluffy looking coconut "mountains" are dipped in dark chocolate, drizzled in white chocolate and hold hints of hazelnut liqueur. Lightly toasted, subtly sweet, you will feel like you're on cloud nine sinking your teeth into these.





FLOATING COCONUT ISLAND MACAROONS

7oz dessicated coconut flakes
1/3 cup sugar
3 tbsp. flour
small pinch salt
2 egg whites
1 1/2  tbsp. hazelnut liqueur
Dark chocolate for dipping
White chocolate for drizzling

Mix coconut, sugar, flour and salt in a large bowl. Stir in whisked egg whites and liqueur, and stir until well combined. Form 24 rough but firmly packed mounds of mixture onto greased and lined trays. Cook for 15 minutes at 180C until the edges begin to turn golden. When cooled, dip the bottoms in melted chocolate and place on baking paper until cooled. Drizzle white chocolate over the tops if desired. Store in an air tight container.

NOTES: If you prefer your macaroons to be more golden on top but the bottoms are already browned enough, a few moments under the grill will colour the tops beautifully. During baking time, you may like to remove the trays and check that the macaroons have not crumbled on them selves and pinch the tops if they have collapsed a little. Sometimes the mixture seems a little crumbly.







Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Hazelnut Almond Sticks

One of the wonderful memories I have of my Opa is his never ending selection of delectable biscuits. He would always bring out that fancy silver biscuit tin, remove the lid and tell us to eat as many as we wanted. They were always specialty biscuits, mainly European I imagine--lots of delicious Dutch biscuits I cant for the life of me pronounce the names of. I remember many of them where almond or hazelnut based, so when I found this recipe  i was delighted. These biscuits look a little like Bokkenpootjes (Goat's Feet) but have a different taste. I was surprised to find them reminding me more of biscotti than Bokkenpootjes, and found them hard on retrieving them from the oven. Nevertheless, after a few days of sitting in the tin, I was delighted to find them softened to perfection, and the taste had become richer and oh so nutty. The combination of the dark chocolate over this nutty finger is delicious, a match made in heaven. I'm sure my Opa would have loved these.




HAZELNUT ALMOND STICKS (Adapted from Woman's Weekly Cookbooks "The Big Book of Beautiful Biscuits" 1982)


3 egg whites
3/4 cup caster sugar
1 cup ground hazelnuts
1 cup ground almonds
1/4 cup plain flour
150g dark chocolate, chopped
1 tbsp. butter, melted


Beat egg whites in a medium dry bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar, beating well so that the sugar dissolves between additions. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and stir in the nuts and sifted flour. Spoon the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a 1.5cm plain tube. Pipe 8cm lengths, about 4cm apart, on lined oven trays. Bake at 160C for about 15 minutes or until dry to touch.Cool on wire racks.
Place melted chocolate and butter together in a small bowl, and stir until incorporated.. Dip the ends of the sticks in the chocolate mixture and drizzle the ends with two stripes of chocolate. Leave to dry before serving. .

NOTES: you can use 30g copha instead of butter if preferred. Also, these sticks are best eaten a few days after making, as the flavour becomes richer and the biscuits become a little softer.