Tag Archives: Chocolate

Birthday Adventures to Berry NSW

14 Oct

So Miss Wallflower turned 30 a little while ago. How does a Legal Tart celebrate the birthday of a friend. By taking a road trip to Berry and seeing a palm reader.

A friend of mine had raved about the uncanny insights of Ric, a palm reader who operated on weekends out of a shop in Berry. I have to admit that I tend to regard such things as hocus pocus. Don’t get me wrong, I am not one to claim no belief in the psychic world, I have no doubt that some people do possess a gift, but I am really hard to convince.

I had come home and retold the story about Ric to Miss Wallflower and she decided we should definitely go, so I said I would take her for her birthday. A road trip was born to one of my favourite places with a progressive dining plan to be followed by a palm reading for Miss Wallflower and I.

We started off nice and early and made our first stop after arrival at the Berry Sourdough Cafe. I have to confess that I have no photos here as the service was a bit slow, so by the time my macadamia tart arrived I was salivating and simply inhaled it. It was good…very good. I hadn’t realised before arriving that the café now did lunch which looked lovely and involved a wine list…very important 🙂 After we finally got our coffee and tea we departed buying a lovely sourdough loaf on our way out.

Next stop after a brief walk about was the Savannah Cafe and Bar. The café is licensed and serves South African inspired food. I had booked a table fearing that I would be unable to get a table during the busy lunch period, but we were the only diner besides one other couple. The restaurant is located down one of the arcades and I can only guess that this is the reason the restaurant is not very busy, because the food was certainly good and the service friendly.

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I had the bobotie with rice and a salad. The bobotie was arranged nicely with the sides on a plate and came out with a bubbling top just calling for a spoon to break through to the curried meat beneath. The sauce as well seasoned with a perfect mix of sweet and spice. The salad was lightly dressed and a nice fresh accompaniment. Wine was served by way of a piccolo bottle.

SAMSUNG

Miss Wallflower had the gnocchi with boar sausage. This was generously proportioned and the gnocchi was clearly hand made and was light as a feather. It was topped with a persian style fetta.

SAMSUNG

Before our palm reading we had some time to walk around and see the sights. First stop was Miss Pompadours. A fabulous little chocolate shop, where I bought some dark chocolate bark and a dried raspberry and milk chocolate bark. I have been very good with it and there is still some left…not much though 😦

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Then a little visit to the Berry Tea shop. A lovely little place with great gift ideas and quirky teapots.

Our final visit for the day was to Ric who was doing readings at Global Contact.

Ric is a lovely man in his seventies, who learnt the art of palm reading as a child from his grandmother who also had the gift. I don’t want to give all of my future away, because lets be honest I am not sure I can live up to the promise of my palms, but I will say this..boys… only those with potential waterfront property in their future need apply. Ric tells me my lunar crescent means I simply have to live near water 😉

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Have you ever seen a psychic

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Classics with a twist: Chocolate Hazelnut cake

25 Aug

I have always been a person who has experimented with personal style. Not always very successfully but I have tried. I remember when much younger I went through a phase of refusing to wear matching socks. We are not talking laziness about finding two matching socks, because heaven knows my socks were always paired rolled and in the appropriate drawer…thanks Mutti. No I carefully matched, mismatching socks to my outfit. I assume this came from some American TV show and I adopted it in an attempt to be different and cool. I clearly failed to understand that cool in child world means fitting in.

As I went through my early teen years I adopted a more refined grunge look. Accessories formed a large part of this particular look. Long layered skirts and dresses with asymmetric hats and doc martens. Of course puberty put an end too this experimentation. It is truly disappointing to realise that floating hippie dresses don’t mix well with boobs and bums 😦 However in all of this experimenting I continue to claim I had a tendency towards trying to add a classic component to any current fashion trend. I now understand that no matter how much I marvel at some girl’s ability to look positively gorgeous in rolled up boyfriend jeans with high heels and a imitation Chanel jacket. I will simply look like a deranged escapee from the Salvation Army store. So I stick with classics with a twist of colour or pattern.

Chocolate hazelnut cake

This cake to me is the perfect mix of a classic rejigged. ‘How passe!’ you exclaim flourless chocolate cake..it has all been done before. Yes indeed it has…. and this version may not be entirely cutting edge, but it is a classic flourless cake with the twist of hazelnut meal. In the same way that mismatched socks represented my attempt at being fashion forward in my youth, I will happily have my current tastes defined by this cake. Classic, decadent and a little boozy and so is the cake 😉

Chocolate and Hazelnut cake

Serves 8

adapted from Donna Hay recipe for Chocolate and Pecan cake featured in Issue 69 Donna Hay Magazine

  • 350 gms dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa)
  • 150 gms unsalted butter cubed
  • 6 eggs seperated
  • 2 tablespoons brandy
  • 1 2/3 cups of hazelnut meal
  • 1 tsp of vanilla paste
  • 1 cup if brown sugar
  • cocoa for dusting

1. Preheat an oven to 160 degrees. Line and grease a 22 cm spring formed tin

2. Break the chocolate into a bowl with the butter and place into a microwave on 80% power at 40 second intervals until melted.

3. Beat egg yolks vanilla and 1/2 cup of sugar for 1 minute and then add brandy, chocolate/butter mix and the hazelnut meal mixing until it is all combined. Put this chocolate hazelnut mixture aside

4. Beat the egg whites in a seperate bowl adding the remaining sugar one tablespoon at a time.

5. Add 1 half of the beaten egg whites to the chocolate hazelnut mix beating in with a wooden spoon to loosen the chocolate mixture and then fold in  the second half of the beaten egg whites.

6. Pour the stiff mixture into the tin and then bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes 10 1 hour and 25 minutes or until the top is crisp the sides have come away for the edge. there will still be a slight wobbly in the middle  when you shake the pan.

7. Allow the cake to cool in the time before removing. (i did not do this and ended up with a crack in my cake. What can i say i am impatient)

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8. Serve with berries and cream

Choc Chip Oat Cookies and finding purpose

19 Nov

Hello lovelies.

Yes I know you must be wondering where I have been. Well as it turns out I have been trudging through the last of my assessments for my masters degree (fingers crossed). Does this mean I haven’t cooked for the last month. Certainly not, it just means that I have been cooking to eat quickly and haven’t had time to think, plan and photograph my meals and baked goodies. In fact most of my recent food has revolved around large helpings of chocolate eaten at a computer while trying to construct sensible, analytical and compelling arguments about topics that seemed at the time of choosing them incredibly interesting, but now feel tedious.

So at last I have no new classes to attend, no more essays to write and I can cook, read and engage in other purely recreational activities without guilt…at least in the beginning. Already I can feel the apprehension building about looking down the barrel of a new year with no firm goals in mind. The Christmas festivities will guide me through the early months post purpose but then what? Yes mindfulness and living in the present are absolutely skills that elude me, except when baking.

The following recipe came off a magnet given to me by Mutti after one of her and dad’s road trips. The cookies are delicious, chewy, crispy and most importantly big and chunky. I made these the day I handed in my last essay, they are easy to make and remind you how good the simple things can be.

What are your goals? Are you good at living in the present?

Chocolate Chip and Oat Cookies
Courtesy of Long Track Pantry Jugiong

Makes 15

  • 150 gms of butter
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups of rolled oats
    1 cup of brown sugar
  • 1 cup of plain flour
  • 1 cup of chocolate chips
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp of baking powder

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees

2. Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy

3. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined

4. Put all the remaining dry ingredients in to the butter mixture and fold to combine.

5. Using a spoon and your hands form the mixture into balls and place on a lined oven tray. Flatten slightly. They will spread.

6. Cook for 10 mins or until just golden.

 

Fathers Day Chocolate Guinness Cake with Bourbon Caramel Frosting

3 Sep

My Dad used to play basketball before we were born. We have pictures of him on the basketball court, in his tiny basketball shorts circa 1975. My Dad is also an absolute wind up merchant and stirrer. When we were kids Dad had the usual stories about walking 10 miles in the snow every day to school, a distance that seemed to increase by a mile every time he told the story, but he also had some special stories. One of his favourites was the story about when he used to play for the Boston Celtics. My brother loved the story about how Dad used to shoot hoops with Larry Bird. In a child’s head the details of the story were unimportant. In fact it seemed completely plausible after all we knew he played basketball we had seen the photos. Mum used to tell us how he was called ‘legs 11’ because that was his number and he used to live in another country. As far as we were concerned he was the font of basketball knowledge and a sporting genius.

One day we were playing at Rachel’s house and my brother proudly told her father how his Dad used to play for the Boston Celtics. Rachel’s father scoffed let out a chuckle and told my brother he didn’t think that was true. The amused expression on his face told me that clearly there was some adult knowledge here I wasn’t privy too and so instead of supporting my brothers proud boast, I kept quiet. My brother being younger and less perceptive insisted it was true and that Dad had played with Larry Bird. This claim was met with absolute laughter and by then I started hissing at my brother to stop talking. Once again his lack of perception intervened in his reasoning abilities and he continued to argue passionately with Rachel’s father, retorting the ultimate in all argument clinchers ‘he did too!’

This Father’s Day I tried to combine my Dad’s favourite flavours into one special cake to celebrate a man who could tell his children absolute whoppers straight faced and unflinchingly 🙂 The cake recipe I used suggests using a bundt pan, I however opted for a two layered cake. I paired it with the caramel bourbon frosting which was extremely yummy, even for someone like me who isn’t a great fan of caramel. The Bourbon cuts right through any sickly sweetness and makes the cake decidedly grown up. If you are concerned that the cake will taste like Guinness, don’t be. It simply adds depth and character.

Did your father tell you outlandish stories about his past lives?

Chocolate Guinness Cake with Bourbon Caramel Frosting

Adapted from  Smitten Kitchen and Creative Culinary

Serves 8 – 10

Cake

  • 1 cup of Guinness
  • 250 gms of unsalted butter
  • ¾ cup of cocoa powder
  • 2 cups of Plain Flour
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 1 tsp of baking powder
  • ½ tsp if bi carb of soda
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup of sour cream
  • Pinch of salt

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius

2. Grease 2 20cm cake tins with butter and line the bases

3. Combine flour, sugar, baking powders and salt in a large bowl and put aside

4. Place butter and guiness in a pan and allow the butter to melt, then add cocoa powder and whisk to combine

5. Allow the chocolate mix to cool

6. Beat eggs and sour cream together and then slowly add the slightly cooled chocolate Guinness mixture. Add the flour mixture and continue to beat until combined

7. Pour half the batter into each tin and then bake in the oven for 20 – 25 mins or until skewer comes out clean and the top of the cake is springy to the touch

9. Allow cake to cool completely before icing

Caramel Bourbon Frosting

  • 1 cup of caster sugar
  • 2 cups of icing sugar
  • ¼ cup of water
  • 8 tbsp of butter
  • ½ cup of cream
  • 1-2 tbsp of milk
  • 3 tbsp of bourbon
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract

1. Whisk the bourbon into the cream and set aside

2. Combine the caster sugar and water in a saucepan and place of medium heat. Bring to the boil shaking the pan occasionally, I find it better that you don’t stir or whisk it.

3. Once the mixture turns a caramel amber colour and then take of the heat.

4. Add 6 tbsp of butter. Be careful the butter will cause the mixture to bubble and froth. Whisk in the butter until it is melted.

5. Once the butter has melted, slowly pour the cream mixture into the caramel mixture. Once again the mixture will bubble considerably. Place the mixture on a low heat again and then mix until completely combined.

6. Put caramel in a fridge until it is cool and firmer

7. Once the caramel is cooled cream together the 2 tbsp of butter and caramel.

8. Add the icing sugar one cup at a time, alternating with 1 tbsp of milk and continue to beat until smooth.

9. Place the frosting in the fridge until it is firm enough to easily spread on the cake.

10. Place one of the cakes domed side down on the serving plate. Top with some of the frosting and then sandwich the other cake on top. Use more of the frosting to spread on the tops and the sides of the cake.

Living Dolls and Red Velvet Cream Cheese Brownies

10 Jul

I don’t know if anyone else remembers a doll that came out years and years ago that reveled its gender only after purchase, kind of imitating the real life gender surprise at birth. I recall when I was small that they sat on the shelves beckoning me every time I went into a department store and I begged Mutti for one. I had never had anything but girl dolls before but I desperately wanted one of these dolls, it came with a dissolvable package that revealed the birth certificate and gender of your baby. I of course was adamant that despite the dolls androgynous features I could pick the girl dolls and I remember Mutti trying to reason with me that I may get a boy doll and I couldn’t give it back. After some careful consideration…..maybe a whole day of thought….. I decided I could indeed cope if I got a boy doll, although I was still sure I would get a little girl. Some time later mum let me pick a doll, I got it home dissolved the little package and it revealed I had a bouncing baby boy! I was horrified 😦 I refused to pick him up or play with him at first and I think I might even have cried.  I came to love him, I named him after an uncle, but I never felt the same fondness.

Aren’t they pretty!

 

A new little girl was introduced into the world a couple of weeks ago and I am completely ecstatic. I won’t lie, I basically jumped around after I heard the news and told people I had a living doll to dress, before promptly going out and buying clothes for her. I love the little men that my friends have so kindly brought into the world so I can practice my car sounds and force cuddles on them, but there is just something so exciting about a little girl. Little girls open a whole new world of sugar and spice and all things nice 🙂

In honour of the new little princess I made a slice which I thought was appropriately girlie and completely delicious. I also figured it would give poor mum some sweet treats to keep up her energy or bribe her toddler (or husband) with.

They are no greater work than a usual brownie. The only amendment I made to the original recipe was to make a double batch and use a different shade of food colouring. They are by far the most moist and moreish brownie I have ever made and they didn’t last long.

Red Velvet and Cream Cheese Brownie

adapted (only slightly) from Sweet Pea’s Kitchen

 

  • 1 cup of butter
  • 110 gms of dark chocolate
  • 2 cup sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 3 tsp of rose pink colouring
  • 1 1/2 cup of plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp of salt

Cream Cheese Topping

  • 450 gms of cream cheese
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 large egg
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract

1. Pre heat oven to 180 degrees

2. Grease an aluminium roasting tray, line if you are using a non disposable baking tray

3. Microwave the butter and chocolate in a bowl until melted and combined

4. In a seperate bowl whisk together eggs, sugar, vanilla extract and pink food colouring.

Prior to adding chocolate the mixture is bright pink

5. Add the chocolate and butter mixture to the egg mixture and stir to combine

6. Add flour and salt and stir to combine completely

7. Pour into baking dish. Bang the dish a couple of time on the bench top to release any bubbles

8. Beat together the ingredients for the topping until smooth and then layer on top of the brownie and using a knife swirl the topping in with the brownie mixture.

9. Bake for 40 mins or until sides are slightly crisp but centre is just set. Leave to completely cool before cutting

 

Childs play: Creme egg crispies

19 Jun

Have you ever been at a kids party, seen their food and wished you were sitting at the children’s table. I have, I have also been known to wait until they have become distracted by a new plaything and then help myself to their food while no one is watching. You say desperate and sad…. I say clever 😉

It is not simply that the food is in miniature, I admit I have a slightly odd fascination with miniature clothes, cookware and food. But it is also that kids food brings back memories of halcyon days stuffing my face with tasty and fuss free foods, completely unaware of food fads or fat contents.

One of those things that I absolutely loved as a child was the chocolate crackle. While I was making the recipe below Miss Meat and I reminisced about chocolate crackles and she commented how her father still loves them. I suggested  that they should still be served at adult parties, which got me thinking I might need to do a kids themed cocktail party because a chocolate crackle can only be improved by partaking  in a Bosom Caresser at the same time.

In saying that children’s food is simple and fuss free, I did fool around with the concept of a chocolate crackle in making the recipe below. In my defence it was motivated by a desire to get rid of some things left in my fridge, namely a bag of mini crème eggs. But I think it stays true to the spirit.

What’s your favourite kids food?

Crème Egg Crispies

Makes 20 mini crispies.

  • 230 gms of Cadburys mini crème easter eggs
  • 60 gms of copha
  • 60 gms unsalted butter
  • 50 grams of dark chocolate
  • 2 cups of corn flakes.

1. Heat the copha and butter in a pan over medium heat until melted and then add the crème eggs. You will need to keep an eye on the chocolate and stir occasionally until the eggs are completely melted.

2. Add the dark chocolate and stir until melted and combined with the crème egg mixture.

3. Turn off the heat and add the 2 cups of cornflakes and stir cornflakes through the chocolate mixture.

5. Spoon teaspoons of the mixture into patty cases. I used mini ones but you can use bigger muffin patty cases and chill until hard.

6. Serve to those who take delight in children’s party food.

Box of childish delight

Self Awareness and M&M Cookies

6 May

Recently I have been going through a little stage of hating people. My faith in them has been seriously undermined by a combination of being exposed to the worst qualities in people in both my work and my social life. It doesn’t happen that often, but a few incidents of poor behaviour in a row and a wealth of stewing on and analysing disappointments can really put me in a mood. So here goes the rant….

People just seem to be prepared to have no self awareness.  Let’s be honest no one wants to admit that they can behave badly, but recently I have become increasingly frustrated at people who run away from their mistakes or minimise their involvement. I sometimes feel that this complete unwillingness to be brutally honest with ourselves means that people can engage in some hurtful and often self harming behaviour. We learn nothing and gain nothing when we ignore our failings. We all make mistakes and bad choices, we respond in humanly flawed ways to challenges and humiliations, I think it is how we deal with them that is the measure of who we are and who we will become…. Deep breath….

When I get into my hating people funk I like to spend time with children. I can’t have any expectation that a small child will have any self awareness and empathy, I can’t feel betrayed when they hug me and tell me 5 mins later they don’t like me and I know that all I have to do to win a smile is present them with a cookie. If only everything was so simple. I have to admit these cookies were crunchier than I would have liked but they were still tasty, maybe a little less cooking time would have rendered them more chewy. I also used M&M’s instead of Smarties. Chocolate freckles would be good too.

I brought the cookies along with me for my play date and they did elicit a smile and that smile plus some cuddles went some way to rebuilding my trust in people, plus they look like such happy cookies, how can a world filled with cookies be bad? In the meantime I have to keep practicing acceptance and repeating the mantra the dude abides…the dude abides

M&M Cookies

Very slightly adapted

 

Happiness in a biscuit


 

Do you ever have difficulty accepting things as they are?

 

Indulging for Easter: Black Forest Trifle

2 May

When I was a kid, Mutti and I while shopping would sometimes stop for Kaffe and Kuchen. I loved being able to go up to the cake display and with my nose pressed to the glass look at all of the sweet offerings and decide what I would have.

I absolutely love chocolate, particularly dark chocolate, but I am not obsessed with mud cake like so many chocoholics I know, unless it is for breakfast where it seems to possess an all together different appeal……..rather like McDonalds at 2 am after a night out drinking 😉 So Black forest cake was often my pick. The slight sourness of the cherries against chocolate sponge and cream were just heavenly.

This Easter after weeks of almost no sugar in my daily diet thanks to my new health kick, I decided to go all out and make a heavenly trifle based on black forest cake I so fondly consumed as a child. There is certainly no shortage of chocolate in this recipe which seemed only fitting for celebrating the day where I can eat chocolate with guilt free glee.

Black Forest Trifle

I won’t lie, this particular version is not exactly a slap dash type of trifle. But I have taken some short cuts which hopefully will make you more inclined to make it. I used cherry brandy because despite Dads best efforts Kirsch could not be found. The cherry liqueur serves to add an echo of cherry flavour to all layers of the trifle and gives it extra depth. The chocolate cake recipe I have used is by no obligatory it just happens to be a quick one bowl wonder and is not so rich as to be over powering, but you can use your favourite chocolate sponge recipe.

I have  used the mousse recipe so many times it doesn’t bear thinking about. I usually use brandy, but in keeping with the cherry theme substituted cherry brandy. Don’t be scared that it will add some strong alcoholic component to the mousse. It really doesn’t but rather enhances the flavour of the chocolate.

While I knew all the components of this trifle were delicious by themselves, I had no idea if placed together they would really work the way I hoped. But I promise that this will not disappoint. Even Dad licked the bowl!

Black Forest Trifle

Serves 6-8

Chocolate Sponge

by Miranda Sharp in Epicure Chocolate

  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup of self raising flour
  • 2 tbsp of cocoa
  • 1 cup castor sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract

Chocolate Mousse

adapted from ABC Online

  • 300 mil cream
  • 30 gms of sugar
  • 130 gms of dark chocolate
  • 4 eggs, seperated
  • 2 tsp of Cherry Brandy

Remaining Layers

  • Jar of morello cherries
  • 300 mls Whipped cream
  • Vanilla pod
  • Store bought sponge cake
  • Cherry jam

Make the chocolate cake as instructed below;

1. Melt butter and combine with remaining ingredients. Pour into 20 cm cake tin and bake for 20 mins.

2. Once cooled and removed from the tin wrap in cling film and place in the freezer for approximately 30 mins before using. This will make it easier to cut in half.

Make the mousse as instructed below;

1. Whip cream with sugar until soft peaks

2. Melt chocolate in microwave on short bursts. Allow the chocolate to cool slightly and then add brandy, egg yolks and whip until smooth and thickened

3. Fold cream into the chocolate mixture

4. Whip egg whites until soft peaks and then fold 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture, you can be quite cavalier with how you combine this 1st 1/3 of the egg whites. Add the egg white and chocolate mixture to the remaining 2/3rds of the egg whites folding gently until just combined.

5. Chill.

Next prepare the cherries

1. Drain cherries, put the cherries aside and place the syrup in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.

2. Add 2 tbsp of cherry brandy and reduce the syrup until reduce by half and sticky. Take off the heat and put cherries into the mixture and leave to macerate. The cherry mixture must be completely cooled before using.

Slices are similar heights.

3. Slice vanilla sponge cake in half lengthwise.

4. Slice chocolate sponge in half lengthwise

5.  Slice 1 slice of vanilla sponge on the bottom of trifle bowl. Spread with cherry jam top with 1 slice of chocolate sponge.

6. Top the chocolate sponge with half the cherry mix and spoon over half the syrup.

7. Repeat process until all the sponge, cherries and syrup are used up.

8. Top with Chocolate mousse

9. Whip cream with vanilla seed from 1 vanilla pod and spread on top of trifle.

10. Top with chocolate shavings.

 

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