Homemade Hard Shell Chocolate Sauce

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This recipe consists of only two ingredients and is super easy.  (Credit to 52 Kitchen Adventures for the recipe I used.)

** INGREDIENTS **

220g dark chocolate
2 heaped tablespoons of coconut oil

** METHOD **

Break the chocolate into pieces and add into a heatproof bowl with the coconut oil.  Stir after 30 seconds, and then again every 10 seconds until the mixture has melted.

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Once melted, remove from heat and allow to cool.  Sauce will harden once poured on top of ice-cream.  (Sauce can be stored in the fridge and reheated when required.)

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Brownie Waffle Cones

Brownie Cones

After coming across a Reddit post of someone baking brownies in a waffle cone, I knew what my next baking project was going to be.

Instead of buying a brownie mix, I decided to use my favourite brownie recipe (credit goes to the Brown Eyes Baker for their supplied French Chocolate Brownies recipe).  It’s easy to follow and has not yet let me down.

This is my variation of the recipe:


** INGREDIENTS **

1/2 cup plain flour
170g dark chocolate
170g salted butter
3 large eggs
1 cup white sugar

Additional requirements:
Box of waffle cones
Foil roasting tray (or anything else to keep the waffle cones upright during baking)

** METHOD **

1.  In a small bowl, whisk the flour with a hand mixer for about a minute and set aside.

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2.  Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and melt in the microwave.  (Stir after 30 seconds, and then every 10 seconds.  This will prevent the chocolate from burning.)

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3.  Once the chocolate has melted, add the butter and stir so that it melts into the chocolate mixture.  If the butter is not melting, you can put the bowl back into the microwave and heat in 10 second intervals.  Once the mixture has been combined, set aside.

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4.  Beat the eggs and sugar in a large bowl until they are thick and pale (about 2 minutes.)

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5.  Pour the chocolate-butter mixture into the egg and sugar bowl and mix at a lower speed until incorporated (you will have a chick, creamy batter).

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6.  Add the dry ingredients and mix at lower speed for about 30 seconds.  (The dry ingredients won’t be completely incorporated and that’s fine.)  Finish folding in the dry ingredients by hand with a rubber spatula.

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6.  Cut holes into the foil roasting pan and insert waffle cones.

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7.  Pour the batter into a piping bag (I didn’t have one so I used a sandwich bag) and pipe into the waffle cones.  The remaining batter can be poured into a tin foil lined container.

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8.  Bake in the oven at 150°C.  (If baking brownies in a tray, bake for 50 to 60 minutes.  The waffle cones took about 30 minutes, and the remaining batter about 50 minutes.  They will be done when the top is dry and cracked, and a knife inserted in the centre comes out clean.)

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9.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.  (Cut the brownie tray into pieces while still warm.)

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I served my brownie cones with Blue Ribbon Ice-Cream (3 in 1 Caramel & Honeycomb Crunch) and Homemade Hard Shell Chocolate Sauce.

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Spicy Sweet Potato Lentil Burgers with Parmigiana Topping

After going out to a restaurant and ordering the “Sweet Potato and Lentil Parmigiana”, I knew that I had to find a recipe.  The recipe I found was spicy but delicious.  It also added spinach which turned out to be great.

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The original recipe can be found here: http://ontapfortoday.com/2013/03/19/today-spicy-sweet-potato-lentil-burgers-a-guest-post-from-alex-eats-green/

** INGREDIENTS **

1 cup dry lentils
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. chilli powder
1-2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. coriander
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper and mixed Italian herbs (each)*
4-5 small organic sweet potatoes, baked, peeled, mashed
1-2 cups fresh spinach
1 cup bread crumbs
2 tsp. olive oil

** METHOD **

  1. Combine lentils in large soup pot. Add enough water to cover about 3 inches above lentils. Boil until lentils are very tender, about 45 mins – 1 hour. Drain water from lentils. Transfer lentils to a large bowl and cool.
  2. Add the seasonings to the lentils. Stir with lentils until well blended. Cover lentils and set aside.
  3. Slice sweet potatoes in half, and bake at 375 degrees. Cool, peel, and coarsely mash. Add mashed potato lentil mixture and mix well.
  4. Chop spinach then add to mixture. Add 1/2 cup breadcrumbs to mixture (more if you still feel that the consistency is too sticky)
  5. Using a spoon or both hands, form mixture into balls and then flatten. Press breadcrumbs lightly onto patties. Cover and refrigerate 30-60 minutes. Don’t skip this step!
  6. After chilling, freeze any burgers that you want to save for later.
  7. To cook burgers, heat in non-stick pan with small amount of olive oil for about 5 minutes.

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For the parmigiana topping I went to http://www.exclusivelyfood.com.au/2006/07/chicken-parmigiana-recipe.html.  It was divine.  I will definitely be using this recipe again.

** INGREDIENTS **

Tomato Sauce
Makes about 1 1/3 cups.
20ml (1 tablespoon) oil
1/2 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 large garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
400g can crushed/diced tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar, firmly packed
Salt and pepper

Cheese Topping
140g (1 1/3 cups, firmly packed) grated mozzarella cheese
40g (1/2 cup, lightly packed) grated tasty cheddar cheese
22g (1/4 cup) grated parmesan cheese

** METHOD **

  1. Heat oil in a heavy-based medium saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, until onion has softened but not browned.
  3. Add tomatoes, basil and brown sugar, increase heat and bring to the boil. Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer for about 35-40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sauce has reached the desired consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Set aside for 10 minutes, and then puree sauce in a blender or food processor.

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Tiramisu

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Apologies for being AWOL.  I haven’t done much baking yet, despite purchasing a new hand mixer.  My mother’s 30+ year old mixer has unfortunately seen its day. 

I decided to make a Tiramisu for our family lunch today and it was superb.  I’m not usually a Tiramisu fan, but this recipe saw me get up for my second helping.  YUM!

Credit goes to: http://www.askchefdennis.com/2011/04/the-best-tiramisu-you-will-ever-make/

This is what I did:

** INGREDIENTS **

6 egg yolks
3/4 cup white sugar
1 1/4 cup mascarpone cheese
1 3/4 cup thickened cream
1 container savoiardi sponge fingers
1/2 cup cold espresso
1/2 cup marsala wine
1 tbsp cocoa for dusting

** METHOD **

1.  Combine egg yolks and sugar in the top of a double boiler, over boiling water.  Reduce heat to low, and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring constantly.  Remove from the heat and whip yolks until thick and lemon coloured.

2.  Add Mascarpone to whipped yolks, beat until combined.

3.  In a separate bowl, whip cream to stiff peaks.

4.  Gently fold the whipped cream in the mascarpone mixture and set aside.

5.  Mix the cold espresso with the marsala wine and dip the sponge fingers into the mixture just long enough to get them wet, do not soak them!

6.  Arrange the lady fingers in the bottom of a baking dish.

7.  Spoon half the mascarpone cream filling over the sponge fingers.

8.  Repeat process with another layer.

9.  Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.

10.  Dust with cocoa before serving.

Piñata Cake

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I had so much fun making this.  A friend of mine sent me a picture of a Piñata Cake they came across online and I decided then and there that I had to make my own.

I thought that the best baking pan to use would be one that would ultimately form a 3D ball shape so I bought one from eBay.  It worked brilliantly and formed two perfect ball halves.

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I cheated this time round and used 2 x vanilla cake packet mixes.  I did some research online and found that Green’s Baking products were rated very highly for packet mixes.

I followed the directions on the back of the box, but had to bake the cakes for much longer than the recommended time.  At the recommended time, the knife came out of the centre of cake very wet.

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Once cooled, I cut off the tops, hollowed out the centres ad added some mixed confectionary (I choose Jelly Beans and Clinkers).

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It was then time to piece the ball together.  I achieved this by making some vanilla buttercream (see recipe in previous post).  I stuck the two halves together with a generous layer of buttercream and then iced the entire ball.

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The first cut was very nerve-wracking and required a lot of patience.  To my surprise, it didn’t collapse!

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Overall, I think the Piñata Cake was a huge success with my work colleagues.

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In case you were wondering what I did with the inner cake…  I added it to crushed Oreos and Cream Cheese, and then topped it with melted chocolate.  It was delicious!!

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Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

Cupcakes

I’ve never made proper buttercream icing/frosting before.  In fact, I’ve never properly iced a cake/cupcake in my life!

So I went to Google and found an easy vanilla buttercream recipe with very positive reviews.

The Food Network recipe ticked all the boxes and was easy to follow.  One of the comments also suggested using less icing sugar and only 1 tablespoon of cream so that’s what I did…

** INGREDIENTS **

306g Icing Sugar
250g Unsalted Butter
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Essence
1 Tablespoons Cream

Note: This quantity was enough to ice 30 cupcakes.

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** METHOD **

1. Sift the icing sugar into a large bowl.

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2. Add the butter (which is at room temperature – I had to put mine in the microwave for 20 seconds), to the icing sugar and mix on low speed with a hand mixer until well blended.

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3. Once well blended, beat on medium/high speed for 3 minutes.

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4. Add vanilla essence and cream to the mixture and beat on medium/high speed for 1 minute.

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5. I wanted to colour my buttercream so I halved my mixture and added blue food colouring.  Beat until the colour is well mixed.

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6. Spoon the dyed buttercream into a piping bag and pipe onto the cupcake.

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7. Add 100s & 1000s to the icing to add decoration.

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8. Add pink food colouring to the remainder of the buttercream and beat until well mixed.

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9. Spoon into a piping bag and pipe onto the cupcake.

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10. Add 100s & 1000s to the icing to add decoration.

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11. Place the cupcakes in a container and put into the fridge.  The buttercream should harden in the fridge.

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Piñata Cookies

Cinco de Mayo pinata sugar cookies

After seeing this recipe on SHEKNOWS, I knew that had to make them.

But unfortunately, mine didn’t turn out quite like the one on the website!

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My problem was my horse cookie cutter.  The legs were too thin so as soon as I tried to pull the cutter out of the cookies, the legs stuck in the cutter and pulled off.

So I broke them into small pieces and served them like that.  They still looked interested and tasted great.  My colleagues ate them all so that’s positive!

** INGREDIENTS **

1 cup sugar
1 cup icing sugar
1 cup butter
1 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
5 cups flour
1 tablespoon vanilla essence

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** METHOD **

1. Cream sugars with butter.

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2.  Beat in eggs.

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3.  Add oil.

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4. Combine dry ingredients together and gradually add to the mixture.

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5.  Mix in vanilla essence and almond extract.

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6.  Split the dough into five, even-sized balls.

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7. Add food colouring to each of the dough balls until desired colour is achieved.

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8.  Use a container the same width as your cookie cutter and line it with food wrap.  Split your coloured dough in half and begin layering the dough in the container.

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9.  Cover the dough and freeze for four hours or overnight.  (I froze overnight.)

(At this stage I realised that I didn’t make nearly as much dough as I needed to.  So I had to use what I had already layered and put on top of itself.  It really spoiled the layering.)

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10.  After freezing, unwrap the dough and cut into slices.  Put them on a baking tray lined with baking paper.

Bake at 180°C for 12 minutes.

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11.  Immediately after taking them out of the oven, use your cookie cutter to cut the cookie shapes.  For each completed cookie, you need three (one needs the centre cut out to form the hidden pocket).

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This is where my method ends.  I managed the patience to cut only one shape when I decided to serve them in small pieces instead.

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Unfortunately I won’t attempt these again.  There was too much effort involved and disaster was evident.  Next time I’ll make rainbow/swirl sugar cookies.