Posts Tagged ‘sweets’

20131023-151549.jpgSo I’m scanning yahoo the other day and came across this really easy Mexican dessert recipe.  I took a quick look at the list of ingredients and saw that there was cheese involved with the dessert which sounded interesting… plus one of the comments on the bottom mentioned that the consistency/texture is similar to flan, but with nowhere near the amount of calories which really started to get my attention.
Talk about one of the more simple recipes out there!  I’ve included the info below:
Ingredients:
2 eggs
2 cups milk
3 tablespoons sugar
5 ounces of Mexican/Latin cheese (I went with a mixture of cojita cheese and queso fresco which you can find in any latin grocery store)
 Butter to spread on the baking dish20131023-151534.jpg
I mixed the eggs, milk, sugar, and cojita cheese/queso fresco in a blender but I also added some cayenne pepper just to give it a little heat with the sweet of the sugar and the saltiness of the cheese.  I then preheated the oven to 350F andrubbed the butter along the bottom and sides/corners of a square glass pyrex dish.
Threw in the blended mixture and placed it in the oven for 40 minutes or until the top was golden brown.  Let it stand to cool then I threw it in the fridge with a cover.
20131023-151525.jpgAfter a few hours, I had some for dessert that night and it really was like flan but a little bit more “chunky” because of thecojita cheese.  I thought it tasted great but I might be a little bias!  If you think you’d like a cheesy kind of flan, then give it a try.  The cayenne gave it a nice kick but I would enjoy it without the pepper as well.  I even put some in a bowl and threw on some chocolate syrup which gave it a nice chocolate flavor as well.
Enjoy!
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Mums Apple Pie.jpgSince my unexpected arrival back in Australia 2 weeks ago, I have been bunkering down at my parents’ house.  It has always been a place that I feel at home, get taken care of and can take some time to get my head on straight. I was fortunate to have one of my Apples.jpgclosest friends K and her baby and husband come up the first weekend for Sunday lunch. This was a wonderful distraction and enjoyable afternoon, a great way to get my mind of my own troubles.

I managed to help Mum whip up some food, making a mushroom risotto and some fresh bread. However in my less than stellar state I let Ingredients.jpgMum cook dessert. Mum’s apple pie (that is actually her sister’s husband’s grandmother’s recipe… yes it is one of those recipes) is sweet, delicious and not like the apple pies you get in the US. It has a sweet shortcrust pastry rather than the more savoury kind you get in the US.Pastry.jpg

Firstly put on the apples to stew… Just peel and slice up some granny smith apples and add them to a pot with 2 tablespoons of sugar.

For the pastry, beat 125 grams of butter and ¾ cup of sugar together until creamy. Add in 2 eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Next mix in 1 teaspoon of vanilla Rolling.jpgand a pinch of salt. Then gradually mix in 2 cups of self-raising flour, ½ cup of plain flour and ½ cup of cornflour. Mix this until everything is combined.

Filling.jpg

The rest is simply rolling out the dough for the base and the top. Filling the pie with thecooled apples and then baking.

It bakes in a 180C oven for about 30 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. The great thing is that because the apples are cooked you’re Pie.jpgjust cooking the pastry until it is crispy.

This is now my new go to sweet choice for when I am down… not chocolate or icecream… Mum’s apple pie. Served with a dollop of icecream or fresh cream, it is just the perfect way to end a Sunday lunch or any lunch or dinner or breakfast… my new comfort food. Thankfully though it isn’t hard to make it is just time consuming enough for me not to make it too often… otherwise I could be in big trouble! Delicious, sweet and crispy… give it a try, it is guaranteed to help warm your heart!

Slice of pie.jpg

 

Time to eatBeing the foodie in our office has lead to me bringing in cakes for birthdays. Fortunately we have a staff of 6 so it doesn’t happen too often. Earlier in the year I made a Mum’s Sticky Chocolate cake for everyone which was a huge success. This time around I gave the birthday girl a few choices and she went with the Triple Chocolate Marble Mud Cake… well really, who wouldn’t!?

Step 1

The only problem… I had never made it before! How difficult could it be.

In a small pan I combined 250 grams of chopped, unsalted butter, 2 cups of caster sugar, and 1 cup of hot water. I mixed this until it was all melted and combined. Then I just set this aside to cool for 15 minutes and got on with the rest of the recipe.

Base mixture

While it was cooling I melted 150 grams of white chocolate in a bowl and in another bowl I melted 150 grams of dark chocolate. I used 70% dark so that it wasn’t too sweet. There is so much sugar in this recipe already I didn’t think I need extra in the chocolate. I then set these aside.

Going back to my sugar, butter and water mixture I whisked in 1 cup of plain flour, 1 1/2 cups of self raising flour and a teaspoon of vanilla. I added 2 eggs that I had already lightly beaten and whisked everything together. Now the tricky part… I had to divide the mixture into 2 equal parts, putting them in separate bowls. After a bit of back and forth, I think I got pretty close.

Two mixtures

To the halved mixture I added the melted white chocolate to one and the melted dark chocolate to the other. I just quickly mixed the chocolate into each mixture and the cake was ready to assemble.

Layering

In my large cake tin I spooned a spoonful of the white mixture in one corner and then next to it a spoonful of the dark mixture. It was easy just alternating between the two, layering them on top of eachother, until the mixtures were completely gone.

This went into a preheated 150C degree over for 1 3/4 hours. I couldn’t believe how easy it was, well relatively easy. I then just sat back with a glass of wine and waited for it to cook.

Cream and chocolate - Copy

When I opened the oven I discovered it may not have been as easy as I thought. The middle of the cake had sunk! Oh well, that was what the ganache was for… to fill up the large crater in the cake.

Ganache

I turned it out and let it cool. Of course as it cooled the center dropped more… What could I do? More room ganache is what I say!

When it was cool and ready to coat in ganache, I quickly combined in my double boiler 300 grams of milk chocolate and 3/4 cup of thickened cream. I slowly melted these together over a low simmering pot of water. I stirred this continuously until the chocolate had completely melted and was combined with the cream.

I took it off the heat and set it aside. As I was preparing the cake I realized that the square cake didn’t quite fit in my round Sunken but deliciouscake carrier… being the ideas woman I am, I angled off the corners to make a shape that would fit in the container… Later people in the office commented on how cool it looked – I didn’t tell them it was purely to get it to fit, not make it look pretty.

The ditch

My cake now fit in the container, it was time to ganache it! I poured my ganache onto the cake and filled up the huge crater in the center. I then smoothed it down and around the edges until it was completely covered. It looked great! You couldn’t even tell that the cake looked like it had been hit by a meteor. A few quick decorations with fresh strawberries and I was done!

I held my breath when we cut it in the office, praying that it was actually marbled and that the puddle of ganache wouldn’t run off the cake like a waterfall. Luckily it didn’t!

Iced

The best news is that everyone in the office, including the birthday girl loved it. The cake is moist, dense and incredibly rich (especially the parts in the center with an inch of ganache on top). The cake was an afternoon snack for everyone for the rest of the week. I even managed to sneak J. home a slice. He really liked it, he thinks the texture is like a soft, dense cookie.

For a first attempt at this recipe I think I did well. It wasn’t as great as my mum’s but I rarely make her recipes as well as she does. It was a hit and it was delicious, I couldn’t really ask for more but I think I will need a little more practice to be able to make it as easily and as well as I make my Mum’s Sticky Chocolate.

Close up of marbling

Mango Coconut Panna Cotta.jpgJ. and I like to make bets with each other at different times. Whether it is on the AFL, NFL, the Olympics or who was in a particular movie, it makes for some fun teasing and competitiveness between the two of us which we both enjoy.

Most often the bets will involve payouts of dinners out or dinners made or chores done… I hate to say that I am often on the loosing end of these bets. For example last summer I lost a number in a row and ended up having to change the cats litter box for 2 months straight… not fun.

Ingredients.jpg

J. won a bet again recently that let him decide on a 3 course, homemade dinner and then chose this past weekend to redeem it! The meal he chose was scallops, followed by roast lamb and potato gratin and then panna cotta for dessert. He really didn’t have any preference for how I cooked the scallops or what flavor panna cotta I made, so I got to play a little.

First I chopped up 2 ripe mangoes and puréed them in the blender. The mixture should become Mango.jpgrelatively smooth. I then set this aside. I added 500ml of thickened cream (whipping cream) and 500ml of coconut cream to a saucepan. This went onto medium heat and I added 1/3 cup of caster sugar to this mixture. I kept stirring this until it was completely heated through, (around 3 minutes) and the sugar had melted.For dessert I decided on a Mango Coconut Panna Cotta… nice and light and very summery. The great thing about panna cotta is that I can make it early on in the day and it just sits in the fridge ready to go for dinner. First thing Saturday morning I got to work.

Cream mixture.jpg

In a small bowl I put 2 tablespoons of boiling water and 1 tablespoon of gelatin powder and stirred this until the gelatin had melted. Setting this aside I went back to the cream mixture.

I added the puréed mango to the cream mixture, mixing until it was completely combined. I put this into a jug (passing it through a sieve to make sure I got out any chunky bits of mango). Finally, I added the gelatin mixture to the jug, stirring quickly until it was completely mixed in.

Ready for pouring.jpg

That’s everything done! It was easy. I just then poured the mixture evenly into 6 ramekins and placed them in the fridge. They took around 5 hours to set but they were in there a lot longer just to make sure.

I removed them from the fridge about 20 minutes before we were going to eat them just to soften them a little. I topped each with some slices of fresh white peaches and grated dark chocolate.

Panna Cotta.jpg

They were delicious! J. really enjoyed it – he love both mango and coconut. I was happy with how they turned out. Perfect consistency and texture and then they tasted pretty amazing as well. A perfect summer dessert…

Passionfruit Choc Brownies.jpgOver the weekend we ran out of sweets. We have been trying to cut back on sweets, which means I have curbed my baking a little but we still like to have one small thing after dinner each night as a treat. So on Saturday when we discovered all our treats had been eaten, I know I had to bake.

I gave J. a few things to choose from and he settled on Passionfruit Choc Brownies. Like every normal person we love chocolate and we are both crazy about passionfruit, even though you can’t get fresh ones here in Arizona.

(I am trying to grow my own vine though…)

Luckily I still have some of the passionfruit nectar in a tin left from our last supply run to Australia!

I must apologize for the lack of step-by-step photos… but it is so easy, the photos aren’t really necessary.

Out of the oven.jpg

First up, I preheated the oven to 180C (356F) and greased my square baking tin. I roughly broke up125 grams of 70% dark chocolate and chopped up 125 grams of unsalted butter, putting them into a heatproof bowl. Over a saucepan of simmering water, I melted the butter and chocolate until combined.

Once completely melted I took it off the heat and added 150 grams of light brown sugar, stirring until the sugar is incorporated. To this mixture I added 2 medium eggs and 1 additional egg yolk… (2 whites, 3 yolks). I mixed all of this together before sifting in 40 grams of self-raising flour, 40 grams of cocoa powder and a pinch of salt. It is best to use a really high quality cocoa powder for this so you get the best flavor in the brownie.

Ready to cut.jpg

When this was all combined I added 4 tablespoons of passionfruit nectar (including seeds) and mixed that in. I poured the mixture into the

tin and placed it on the middle shelf of the oven for 20 minutes.

They smelt delicious when they came out of the oven but we were good and went to the gym, had dinner and then ate a brownie. I cut them up and J and I ate one with a glass of milk.The best way to tell that the brownies are done is to insert a skewer and it comes out with some dense crumbs left on the skewer but no gloopy, wet mixture.

The brownies have a great chocolate flavor with just a hint of the passionfruit. I would probably add more passionfruit nectar next time. However, they are yummy and delicious and not too sweet, just the right amount of sweetness, thanks to the dark chocolate.

This was the first time I have made them and I will be definitely making them again… J. really enjoys them too – a nice sweet treat after dinner!

We’re back!

We haven’t really been anywhere but it seems as though life got in the way of the blogging for the last few months… However just because we were too busy to blog doesn’t mean we were too busy to eat.

We have been eating as hard as always. The last few months have been a combination of travelling, delicious tastes, addictive drink and great cooking home!

So stay tuned for some tales, recipes, photos and FOOD!

We’re happy to be back…

Italian Thick Chocolate.jpgAustralia is in the middle of summer right now, when we arrived in Brisbane back on the 21st it was hot, steamy and overcast. We had our lunch out with friends and had decided to explore the city center a little. We jumped on a bus and trundled into the city and watched the rain clouds gather…

Now this preamble is leading to a food adventure but I need to set the scene…

We arrive in the city and wander down the Queen Street Mall, the rain starts falling gently… we walk further… across the river to Southbank and the “beach”. Those of you who don’t know Brisbane, they have created a man-made beach right in the center of town on the south bank of the river. I am pretty soaked at this stage and even though it is hot and muggy the last thing I want to do is risk getting sick on our first day of vacation.

Then I saw it, an oasis from the rain… Max Brenner. This is a chain of “restaurants”/ “cafes”/ Spicy Mexican Chocolate.jpg“chocolate shops” that can be found around Australia… actually when I was just googling I found that there are some here in the US too, including Vegas – How did I not know this!?! They do some decadent waffles and sweets not to mention delicious chocolates. I suddenly wanted a hot chocolate! J had never been to Max Brenner for some reason so I suggested a short respite from the rain and a cup of hot chocolate to share!

So in we went to dry off and order a cup to share… well as if that was ever going to happen… we ended up ordering 2 cups, because we could! I wanted what I have always had, the Mexican Spicy Chocolate with Milk Chocolate and then J ordered the Italian Thick Chocolate with Dark Chocolate.

We sat down and sipped away at our mugs of steaming hot chocolate… they were so delicious and I have to say that J’s Italian Thick Chocolate is now my new favorite… (that sounds dodgy). Anyway, the chocolate wasn’t too sweet and was nice and hot. My Mexican Spicy one could have been a bit spicier but it was delicious anyway. J was pretty pleased with his choice and he would normally stay away from a hot drink in that kind of weather.

After we had dried off and consumed our drinks we were ready to get back out walking again! When I say consumed, I mean licked the cups clean…

What a way to force ourselves to stay awake and avoid jetlag. Hot chocolate in the middle of summer, I think hot chocolate anytime works really!

Fairytale Brownie.jpgOnce upon a time… a long time ago… in a land far far away… a boy and a girl met. Boy wanted to impress girl with sweet, delicious treats, girl was happy to be impressed.

These are the stuff of fairytales, magic and myth… of love, romance and decadence… (I’m talking about my love and romance with chocolate).

Fairytale Brownies

J. had these sent to me very early in our relationship when we were both still trying to impress each other… He told me that they were great, that I would love them. To be honest I was incredibly skeptical. Every brownie I had ever eaten was ok, it was yummy sure but nothing special. Brownies really aren’t such a big thing in Australia.

This spectacular box of brownies arrived at my, then, office. of course, I couldn’t wait until I got home to try them so I ripped Big brownies.jpgthem open right there and then. Inside were 12 individually wrapped brownies of varying flavors. As pretty as the packaging was I still didn’t believe they were as great as J kept saying.

I chose an original brownie to try first… I took a bite, my knees went weak, I quickly sat down. Oh my, these were the best thing I had ever tasted! How is this possible when they were sent across the Pacific all packaged up?

Ever since that first bite it has been true love, a love that will never die. I have brought back countless boxes from the US to Australia for gifts, for my family, for friends. They freeze incredibly well so we used to have a stash of them in our freezer in Australia.

Why are they so good you ask? They melt in your mouth, they are incredibly chocolaty, they are moist, rich and decadent, and last but certainly not least the different flavors are just genius!

  • Original – Belgian dark chocolate brownie
  • Walnut – Brownie piled walnuts
  • Pecan – Bursting with handfuls of fresh, crunchy pecan halves
  • Raspberry Swirl – Raspberry purée swirls through the chocolate brownie
  • Cream Cheese – Cream cheese swirled through the chocolate brownie
  • Toffee Crunch – Big chunks of crunchie toffee have been baked into the brownie
  • Caramel – A thin layer of caramel through the center of the chocolate brownie
  • Mint Chocolate – Mint flavored chocolate hand-drizzled over brownie
  • Espresso Nib – Filled with rich espresso flavor, sprinkled with crushed cocoa nibs
  • White Chocolate –Chocolate brownie with white chocolate chips inside and white chocolate drizzled on top
  • Peanut Butter – Yummy peanut butter swirled through the chocolate brownie
  • Choc Chip – Chocolate chips inside the brownie for some extra chocolate

Sprites.jpgI have to admit that I have tried every one of these at least twice but I do have my favorites. I am a huge fan of the toffee crunch and the cream cheese while J. loves the caramel brownie. I don’t particularly enjoy the walnut or pecan brownies but then if they were my only choices I would still eat them. To be honest I would eat all of them over and over and over again, and we have!

J. and I recently stocked up for our Holiday trip home to Australia. We got one large box of brownies to share with the family. We will cut these up and they will go a long way. We also got a box of brownie sprites which are half the size but perfect to give away as gifts. I don’t think my family is concerned with Christmas presents, as long as I bring them home some brownies.Toffee Crunch.jpg

They are too good to be true; you eat them and think it has to be a dream. So Fairytale Brownies has a fitting name, and they certainly helped J. in his attempts to impress me. A little Phoenix based shop that delivers around the world… perfect!

I have to wait until Christmas for my next bite though… so I’m going to close my eyes and think about them for a little while now…

And they lived happily ever after… (me and the brownies)

We are heading to Las Vegas for the weekend and are actually driving for the first time. We usually fly but 4 of us a piling in the car and driving up later today. In preparation for our 6 hour road trip to Vegas I made some sweet snacks for me and the boys. I wanted to make something quick and easy to eat. I had introduced J. to “slices” back in Australia, they seemed like a foreign concept to him. There are all kinds of slices, lemon, custard, chocolate, coconut… just to name a few. I decided I would make a Passionfruit and Coconut Slice to class up what was definitely going to be an interesting road trip.

This was something I had never made J. before and simple enough that his 2 mates who were road tripping with us wouldn’t be scared to try it out.

In a large bowl I combined all the dried ingredients… 3/4 cup of sugar, 1 cup of self-raising flour, and 1 cup of coconut. I mixed these well so they were thoroughly combined.

While I was doing that I was melting 125 grams of butter on the stove. Which I added to the dry ingredients when it had completely melted. After stirring this in I added 2 eggs that I had beaten separately before adding and last thing to go in was 1/2 cup of milk.

When all of this was stirred together I poured the mixture into a lined and greased pyrex dish. Again this is because we don’t have a slice tin or brownie pan which I would normally make this in. I then put it into a 350F degree oven for 25 minutes.

When the slice was in the oven I prepared the passionfruit part of the slice… Passionfruit Butter Cream. This is so easy and probably one of the best butter creams I make. 2 cups of confectioners sugar combined with 2 heaped tablespoons of butter and 1/2 a cup of passionfruit nectar. I had the passionfruit nectar left over in the freezer from the pavlova I made a whileback. I mixed this together until completely combined and put it in the fridge to set for a little while.

When the slice was cooked I took it out of the dish and let it cool. Once cool I spread the butter cream across the top and allow it to set. I had toasted some coconut earlier and sprinkled a little of this across the top to make it look pretty.

I then just cut it up into bite size pieces and pack it up for the road trip later today. I taste tested a piece of course to make sure it tasted ok. I think it was yummy… I like the coconut and passionfruit combination and the toasted coconut on top breaks up the sweetness of the passionfruit butter cream. I liked it a lot but I will have to let you know what the boys thought of it. Time to pack now.

Unfortunately today’s blog is not about the mighty pig. I thought I would share the dessert I cooked from Saturday’s dinner. I went for something a little different but not so much so that the boys wouldn’t like it. I made Rasberry, Rhubarb and Apple Ginger Crumble with Vanilla Custard. Yummy, warming and not too adventurous for the cautious eaters at our table Saturday night.

I started out by peeling, coring and cutting up 4 green apples. Cut them into bite size pieces I put these is a large pot and let them begin to stew with 2 tablespoons of sugar and 2 tablespoons of water.

Next I added 450 grams of frozen rhubarb. We couldn’t find any fresh rhubarb in the stores so had to settle for the frozen. The apple and the rhubarb need to cook down a little, they need to be soft but don’t necessarily need to be cooked so much they loose their shape.

When these were cooked I added 400 grams of fresh raspberries. I stirred these through. You don’t need to cook the raspberries at all, I just stir them through the hot apple and rhubarb and leave the mixture to cool.

Next I needed to start on the crumble. In the food processor I put 200 grams of gingersnaps (ginger nuts in Australia), 1/2 cup of self raising flour and 2 teaspoons of cinnamon. I pulsed this until the cookies had crumbled and everything was mixed together well. I put the mixture into a large bowl and using my hands rubbed in 110 grams of butter. You only need to rub this through until the mixture is a good crumbly texture.

Lastly I just put the fruit into a large pyrex dish and spread the yummy crumble evenly over the top. Then 30 minutes in a 400 F degree oven and it is ready. I actually made this earlier on Saturday and then put it back in the oven while we ate dinner to reheat. It took about 20 minutes on 300F degrees to reheat.

I served this with a plain vanilla custard and the boys loved it! They were all kind of stuffed by the end of the dinner and ready to sleep I think. There were a couple of them slipping into food comas. I love this dessert, the tartness mixing with the crunchy sweetness is just fabulous! Such a great winter dessert too… warms you up. It is also great as leftovers the next day – if there are any leftovers!