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Friday Food: Four-Ingredient Chocolate Cupcakes

4 ingredient cupcakeDelicious magazine is celebrating its 15th birthday. I used to collect Delicious, but now I use the Zinio for Libraries app to read it on my ipad. This month I was very interested in the 4 ingredient chocolate cupcakes because, well, 4 ingredients and chocolate cupcakes. The 4 ingredients are chocolate, cream cheese, eggs and brown sugar. I was lucky enough to use proper farm eggs, and the whites whipped up in no time flat. There are actually 6 ingredients, but they haven't counted salt and water. I made half the recipe and 15 cupcakes and the recipe says a whole batch is 24, so you might have 30. MrsDrWho tasted the cupcakes and said they were unusual, kind of like a baked mousse. In fact when they came out of the oven they were quite puffed and then sank when they cooled, some even developed a hole. I don't think that really matters.

Once again, the recipe gave the total of the ingredients, but you have to read the recipe really carefully, because you don't use them all in the cupcakes, they are used for the frosting too. I will give the amounts for one whole batch, separated into cakes and frosting.

I was not very successful in making the frosting lovely and shiny as it is in the magazine photo, but my bakes often suffer from being refrigerated and transported. I ended up just spooning on some frosting rather than piping it.

Magazine shiny frosting

I think that is all really, other than the cupcakes being fine for gluten-free people!! I don't think these will keep for very long as they were not terribly moist, and they went a little hard when they were kept in the fridge.

 

4 Ingredient Chocolate Cupcakes     makes 24-30

For the cupcakes:

  • 500g dark chocolate, at least 70%
  • 500g full fat Philadelphia cream cheese, cubed and softened
  • 12 eggs, separated
  • 250g brown sugar

 

For the frosting:

  • 200g dark chocolate, at least 70%
  • 500g full fat Philly cream cheese, cubed and softened
  • 80g brown sugar
  • 20ml water (1 Australian tablespoon)
  • pinch salt

 

Preheat the oven to 150*C and line muffin trays with paper cases.

Melt chocolate

For the cupcakes, melt the chocolate over a double boiler or in the microwave and set aside to cool slightly.

Philly

I cubed my Philly cream cheese earlier and put it out in the sun in a big clear tub, with the lid on!!  Once it is softened, beat it with a spatula or spoon until it is smooth.

Combining

Then pour in the cooled chocolate and beat together. Add the egg yolks and sugar and mix well to combine.

Eggwhites

Whisk the egg-whites, by hand or with a beater, until stiff peaks form. There looks to be some yellow in the beaten egg-whites, but it is just a trick of the camera. Any yolk at all in the egg-whites will prevent them from whipping up.

Cupcake batter

Gently fold 1/3 of the egg-whites into the chocolate mixture. This is to loosen it, so that the rest of the egg-whites will be easier to fold in. You always lose a little of the lift from this first 1/3. Gently fold in the remaining egg-whites until no white streaks remain.

Bake and cool

Spoon or scoop into the paper cases, I filled mine to about 3/4 full. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a skewer poked into the centre comes out clean. I found it took 25 minutes for my cakes to cook. Set the cakes aside to cool completely.

Choc and cream cheese

Make the frosting by melting and cooling 200g dark chocolate, and softening and beating 500g of cream cheese.

Frosting

Beat the chocolate and cream cheese until smooth and then add the sugar, water and salt. Beat again until smooth. The icing will be thick and they recommend chilling it to thicken. This is when mine went dull, instead of shiny.

Spoon or pipe the icing onto the cupcakes and you are done!!!

4 ingredient chocolate cupcakes


Where Have All The Flours Gone? Long time Passing.

This week I went to The Hospital to participate in a pretend ward round for the almost graduating doctors. They have a small replica ward and there were four patients and we all had a scenario to play. I was being me, with a relapse. An actor was playing a dementia patient and caused havoc all around the ward and he even ran away from his doctors!! Though the bed wasn't terribly comfortable, it was a very restful three and a half hours. I changed into my pyjamas and my next door neighbour gave me some honey bear lollies to eat. We had cups of tea and sandwiches at half time.

Pretend Hospital

Last week I did actually feel quite poorly and had a couple of days in bed. Luckily one was Wednesday and we don't go for a walk, and I roused myself to take The Labradors for a walk on Thursday and then I could sleep contentedly knowing they had their exercise. The weather has been typical Spring weather: hailstorms, heavy rain, wind and then warm sunny days. No-one knows what to wear or if they should take their umbrella or not.

Hedy has learned a new trick. When she plays with Sandy, she does evasive roly polys to try and get the better of him. She is so funny, and after all the rolling on the grass also very wet. Gilly doesn't play. She likes to wander about investigating all the smells, and (I am sorry to say) eating wallaby pooh.

Gilly went to see Dr David last week and we had good news again. Her blood results were all in the normal range and this week she only has to take one blue tablet each day, and we don't have to go back for a month!! Lorelai Gilmore is so happy, she wags her tail on her walk and she is naughty at home: I caught her in the kitchen!!!!

Gilly at the vet

She is still very hungry all the time and likes to eat her food up on the step, so she can be higher than Hedy Lamarr. Hedy likes to try and steal Gilly's food.

How Gilly eats her breakfast

Hedy is so big now and she can be quite defiant. She knows she mustn't jump up when someone comes home, so she sits perfectly: and barks crossly. If it is later in the evening, Gilly is always waiting at the gate, but during the day they are both there. They are not allowed at the back gate because they bark at dogs going past, but if I am at the car, I let them have a special gate treat!!!

Gilly and Hedy waiting at the gate

I had meant to blog last week, but on Thursday and Friday my internet was interrupted. Earlier this year I was without a landline for five weeks, and finally my ISP apologised and gave me some compensation and upgraded me to a better plan. I was very pleased, but no-one explained clearly that being upgraded meant an interruption to the internet!! It was all fixed by later on Friday, but I lost the will to bake and blog!!

Our knitting group had a Dessert Degustation. One of our number is undertaking a Hospitality course and she has been cooking with some famous chefs, like Tetsuya!!! We were lucky enough to experience these culinary delights from our talented chef:

Dessert degustation 1

Poh's White chocolate ganache tart with raspberries, creme caramel and chickpea brownie with berry compote and whipped coconut cream. I couldn't eat the chocolate brownie, and I couldn't even fit in a second slice of the delicious white chocolate tart!! The creme caramel was so smooth and the caramel so yummy.

Dessert degustation 2

The final dessert was Tetsuya's Granny Smith apple granita with apple jelly. We didn't know about the tiny hidden apple jelly cubes so they were a wonderful surprise. This may have been my favourite. To finish we had three truffles, I can't remember what the dark chocolate one was, but the other two were saffron and cumin I think, and then a spiced rum and coconut. It was a marvellous selection of desserts and no-one had room for dinner.

Hedy has also been using food, but not in a good way. While I was sleeping she chose some plain flour from the shopping bag and then opened it and played with it, in the loungeroom, on the carpet. I am not sure how to remove it as it has set in a crusty layer. The darker spots are where she has tried to nibble the flour. She is still very much a puppy.

Hedy's flour explosion

But look at her: even when she is lying in wait for Gilly half way up the steps, she is as cute as a giant button!! I think that might be flour on her nose.

Hedy waits to jump on Gilly

I am knitting a hat for WeeJock and Bessie's dad. It will be the Five by Five, Faith Hat and I am using some lovely soft Inca Spun Tweed in grey. I have knitted a ball of wool since lunch time and only have another 5cm to work until the crown decreases. I think I shall finish it tomorrow!!

5 by 5 faith hat start

Hedy always gets a sudden urge to play rough and rowdy rebel games at bedtime. There is an awful lot of refereeing to do and maybe a little cider vinegar squirting. Oh no, now she is blowing bubbles in the water bowl. She is fascinated by the patterns the water makes in the light, and so we have a towel under the inside water bowl now. Thank goodness for Lorelai Gilmore!!!


Friday Food: Lemon Cheesecake Pavlova

Lemon cheese cake pavFrankenstein desserts are all the go, and while I am not always a fan, I thought the combination of pavlova and lemon cheesecake sounded delicious. This was the cover recipe on the September issue of Taste Magazine, but you can find it online here now. The pavlova needs to be made the day before and cooled overnight in the oven and then the cheesecake added on top and the dessert refrigerated for at least 3 hours. In truth, you could easily serve this as a frozen dessert, which would have circumvented my problem- read on.....

I found the recipe annoying because it doesn't separate the sugar into two parts: one for the pavlova and one for the berries. I had measured it out could not be bothered doing it again, so I just made a 4 egg pavlova and had some extra small pavlovas. The recipe also lumps the toppings in with the general ingredients. I have separated them into better categories. I know I am supposed to read the whole recipe, but I just expect it will be organised the way I like!!!

I used fresh local strawberries instead of raspberries. The raspberries are either frozen, imported from overseas countries where they don't have strict food laws, or unbelievably expensive right now. MrsDrWho and MrsReno said strawberries were fine. I used posh lemon curd from the supermarket, and I added the zest of the lemon I juiced to the cheesecake, because I don't think you can have too much lemon really.

Although I followed the recipe faithfully and accurately, and refrigerated it for 6 hours, the cheesecake portion didn't "set" and oozed over the sides of the pavlova when I removed it from the tin. It still tasted the same, but didn't look spectacular at all. I didn't bother with the white chocolate decorations as this recipe involved many steps, and I was tired by the time it was in the fridge. You can refer the the recipe online for the instructions.

Good and not so good

 

Lemon Cheesecake Pavlova       serves 8-10

For the Pavlova:

  • 3 eggwhites at room temperature
  • 190g caster sugar
  • 1 tspn cornflour
  • 1/2 tspn white or cider vinegar. I have used malt at a pinch.

 

For the Cheesecake:

  • 25og Philly cream cheese, full fat, at room temperature
  • 70g caster sugar
  • 40ml (2 tbspn) fresh lemon juice and the zest
  • 2 tspn gelatine powder
  • 40ml warm water
  • 300ml thickened cream
  • 145g (1/2 cup) lemon curd

 

For the topping:

  • 250g frozen raspberries or fresh strawberries
  • 70g caster sugar
  • 2 passionfruit, or a tin of passionfruit
  • 185ml double cream
  • 125ml thickened cream

 

Make the pavlova first. Line a 12 x 27cm loaf tin with baking paper and preheat the oven to 120*C/100*C fan-forced.

Whisk eggwhites

I always wipe the metal mixer bowl and the beaters with some lemon juice or vinegar and it is vital that there is not a skerrick of egg yolk or the whites won't whip properly. Whip the eggs until they are just holding their shape and then add the sugar a tablespoon at a time. It generally takes about 10-15 minutes to properly incorporate the sugar. The eggs are ready when you rub a little bit of the mixture between your finer and you can't feel a single grain of sugar: it is smooth and glossy.

Add sugar, cornflour, vinegar

Spoon into the tin and smooth the top and bake for 1 1/2 hours.

Bake pavlova

Turn the oven off and leave it to cool overnight. If needs be, you could make the pavlova early in the morning on the day you want the dessert.

Gelatine

Before you start making the cheesecake part, put the the warm water in a small heatproof bowl or glass and sprinkle over the gelatine. Place this bowl/glass into a larger heatproof bowl and pour in boiling water until it comes half way up the sides of the smaller bowl/glass. Stir every minute for about 5 minutes until the gelatine is totally dissolved. Set aside until it is at room temperature.

Creamcheese lemon

Meanwhile beat the room temperature cream cheese with the sugar until it is smooth. Add the lemon juice/zest and beat briefly to combine and then finally beat in the cooled gelatine mixture.

Add lemon add gelatine

In a new bowl, whisk the thickened cream until it soft peaks form. Fold in about 1/3 of the cream cheese mixture and then add the rest. Fold gently to combine. Swirl through the lemon curd. The idea is that you will see the swirls of curd in the finished cheesecake.

Combine

Spoon onto the pavlova, even out the top and then cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

Layer cheesecake on pavlova

Prepare the berries by defrosting them if they are frozen, and blending them with the sugar. You could also push them through a sieve. I don't mind the pips in berries, and there is passionfruit, which is basically pips anyway. Whip the creams till soft peaks form and then assemble the dessert.

Berries

Gently remove the dessert from the tin, spoon on the cream and pour over the berry sauce and passionfruit. You can add some extra berries and white chocolate shapes too. I chose to put a slice of the sad squished dessert on a plate and then added the cream and fruit on top. I wish you better luck than I had with the gelatine setting, but be assured the taste was not affected at all. I think this would be a fabulous frozen dessert for Summer, especially as it can be made beforehand and served whenever you want.

Lemon cheesecake pavlova


Now It's Music I've Found, And I'm Tired, I'll Sleep Sound.

Oh I am so tired. I am beyond tired. Today we went for a walk and unexpectedly met Rafa and his dad. Hedy played so much she had to have a little lie down.

Hedy the ball Rafa

Then I had my hair cut and this afternoon I went to be a Patient-Partner at the Hospital. Seven people searched for, found and then palpated my spleen.  An enlarged spleen is a rarity, so the almost newly minted doctors and their tutors were excited to feel my spleen. I also had to exert myself so that they could hear the murmur in my heart. And get on the bed, off the bed, several times. I want to go to sleep, but I know if we go to bed now, I shall be awake in the middle of the night again.

Lorelai Gilmore is feeling very well. We met a new puppy, Sebastian, but I don't have a decent photo of him. Hedy, Sandy and Rafa played with him. Gilly?? No, Gilly met Sebastian's human and ascertained immediately that she had treats in her pocket. Gilly has never met a pocket full of treats she doesn't love!!

Gilly, never met a pocket she didn't like

Lorelai Gilmore has her "asking for a treat" face and paw down pat. Look at that face.

Gilly asking for a treat

Hedy Lamarr never passes up a treat, she also never passes up a muddy puddle.

Hedy in the muddy puddle

When Hedy bites Gilly, I squirt a little diluted apple cider vinegar at her. I only had to do this a few times before she realised what it meant. After that I just had to show her the bottle and say "No!". Unfortunately I left the bottle on the desk and Hedy wrought her revenge quickly, chewing off the top.

Hedy's revenge

I have been knitting something from Craftsy's new free Autumn Knit-along . They say Fall, I say Autumn. It is a gift, so I have not shown it as it truly is. I am very pleased though. It was a fun knit and looks great too.

Some knitting

I've also been trying to eat more vegetables. Tonight I had peas, sweet potatoes and potato. Yesterday I had some carrots, Hasselback potatoes with bacon and broccolini (not shown).

Bacon-y potatoes

I am tired in other ways too. A female politician has said she felt bullied by a male politician. The male Premier has decided there is no case to answer and the male politician apologised for his tone, but not the bullying. Now he is saying that he is the victim. How is it that he seems to have turned the whole thing around and made it about him?? The Premier says there should be mediation, but I think there should be a proper third party inquiry. I don't believe that putting a bully, and the person they bullied together is a good idea. I think it can give more power to the bully. No-one really know what happened, but the male politician threatening to sue anyone who discusses it seems wrong.

It is still a man's world.

Today is International Day of the Girl and a survey released shows that two-thirds of girls believe that gender inequality is a persistent problem in Australia. 40% say they do more chores than the boys in their family and only 16% feel they are valued for their brains and ability. Things have changed, but not enough. It seems that because girls have been given the same opportunities as boys, boys feel they have had something taken away from them. And when women are given equal opportunities to men, men also feel that they have lost out: I am speaking generally. I think of the way Julia Gillard was, and Hillary Clinton is, treated so poorly by men and by the media. I despair of old rich entitled white men. Women and men are certainly different, but deserve the same opportunities and respect. A few weeks ago I found a credit card on the road behind my parked car. I took the card to the police station and I had to fill in a form. The form was all "he", "him" and "his". Not even a pretence of "s/he". I do feel not as equal when simple things such as government forms only have male pronouns. I would like to see all forms with just female pronouns and then tell men that these pronouns are inclusive. I don't feel included.

What else can I talk about?? The Plebiscite for Same Sex Marriage. I cannot for the life of me work out why I can have a vote-that-might-not-even-be-worthwhile about same sex marriage, but not one about going to war or the deficit. It does seem now that The Plebiscite might be off. I think couples should be able to be married in a civil ceremony. Everyone should have a civil ceremony and then they can have their marriage blessed, or whatever, in a church if that is what they choose. And churches should be able to refuse if they want to. I don't want to interfere in their religion. I can't think of one good reason why there should not be same sex marriage. The arguments used against it sound oh so familiar to those used against African Americans, against our Aborigines and against women. And saying that children deserve a mother and a father?: even fifteen years ago in my classroom most of the children's parents were no longer together in their original family unit. There were single mums, single dads, people who had remarried, people whose spouse had died, the list goes on. I believe children are better off with two people, or one person, who loves them, rather than with two people who hate being together and make their home an unhappy or unsafe place.

I feel like Hillary after saying all that!!

And I just can't even start thinking about Donald Trump.

There. I've managed to while away an hour. Time for a cup of tea, maybe another episode of Fringe and then sleep. Tomorrow there is no walk, we don't walk on Wednesdays, so I plan to sleep all morning.

And now I plan to press "Publish" and be damned.


Friday Food: Bacon Wrapped Asparagus

Asparagus bacon rollsI don't have The Facebook, so on The Internet I have to peer above a big opaque box that obscures half the screen. In the gap on Tastemade Facebook I saw something delicious: bacon wrapped asparagus. Yum. Asparagus is plentiful and cheap now and to take advantage I went ahead and made three batches of this recipe. I made the first two with normal sized asparagus spears. I not only cut off the woody ends, I also shaved the bottom third of the skin away. I used teeny tiny asparagus spears for the third batch and though they were cute, there was a low asparagus to bacon and puff pastry ratio. I would stick to the ordinary sized asparagus from now on.

I found that the asparagus rolls worked best with only half the puff pastry and half the streaky part of the bacon. I don't call the "not eye" part of the bacon anything, but I have seen it in the deli with a "streaky bacon" label.  I didn't have any Parmesan cheese and so my rolls have none.

If I was up to it, I would serve this with some roasted tomatoes and maybe some Hollandaise or cheesy sauce. I plan to make a fourth batch and take them to Sewing on Wednesday.

 

Bacon Wrapped Asparagus     makes 12

 

  • 12 spears of asparagus
  • 1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed
  • 6-12 rashers of streaky bacon
  • pepper
  • 1-2 tbspn wholegrain mustard
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1-2 tbspn Parmesan cheese, finely grated

 

Preheat the oven to 230*C and line a tray with baking paper. I put the tray in the oven as it heats up so the puff pastry hits the very hot tray and starts to puff up more quickly. Or at least this is what I choose to believe.

Prepare

Prepare the asparagus by cutting off any woody stems and if it is thick, peel the darker green skin off the ends. Cut the thawed puff pastry into 12 thin strips and create 12 long thin pieces of streaky bacon about the same length as the puff pastry.

And roll

Layer a strip of bacon overlapping slightly the puff pastry and twist on lots of freshly ground black pepper. I found the best way to cover the asparagus was to wrap the beginning across to the right and kind of seal the pastry together, and then bring the long end and spiral around to the left. 

One bacon wrapped asparagus

But of course do whatever works for you, I pinched the ends together.

Lay the wrapped asparagus onto the tray, spread on some mustard and then brush with the beaten egg. I did half with, and half without, mustard. This is where you would add the Parmesan cheese.

Brush mustard bake

Bake for 15 -17 minutes. I turned the tray after 10 minutes. They took 17 minutes to bake. They are ready when the pastry is a deep golden brown and crisp. You can cool on the tray and serve warm or cold, or piping hot. I like them every way!!!

Bacon wrapped asparagus


If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Bedtime

The football finals came and went. This was Hedy's first footy party next door and she was not impressed: too noisy and too many new people. Gilly went to the part a few times but there was no barbecue and so no real incentive to stay. It was underdogs winning all round in the finals.

Footy final labradors

This week I ate somewhere nice: twice. I spent most of the rest of the week sleeping, or lying on my side on the couch watching Fringe from the start all over again. The weather has been typically vernal, with heavy rain interspersed with warm sunshine. Today after our walk we went to bed and I didn't wake up until 5-09pm. The sound of rain on a corrugated iron roof is very soothing, except if it results in floods and we have had floods again in the north and south. The Hydro lowered the dam in expectation of the heavy rain. Even so the dam has been overflowing all week.

A lot of water

I made some teeny tiny Baby Kiwi socks with the wool left over from my socks. I wound wool on, checking the repeats, and had enough left over. I am very pleased. I think the colours work better than an adult sized sock.

IMG_2505

I rescued my new Vogue pattern from Hedy. Luckily she didn't tear it up, as she did with an old paperback from the recycling, but it is very grubby on the outside. I plan to make the dress without the gathered pockets.

Hedy and the pattern

Gilly continues to improve. She is wicked, she has stolen things from the grocery bags and on our walks she ranges far and wide. She is interested in life again, and maybe there will be some extra food involved??

Gilly investigates

Hedy has never really played inside the boom gate area, so she was quite worried about finding Gilly. You can just see Lorelai Gilmore in the bottom left corner. Hedy Lamarr heard the noise and leaped towards Gilly.

Gilly and Hedy in the bush

The Labradors love going for a walk. It has been very wet, but we don't mind the rain. I am a little tired of wet dogs inside. Thank goodness we have plenty of dog drying towels at home.

Hello smiling dogs

We always take a toy for Hedy to play with, to encourage her not to bite Gilly. MrsDrWho bought The Labradors two new balls-on-a-rope. Really, only Hedy plays with them, but the first thing to do is to remove the rope!!

Hedy with the new ball

And then remove the covering. We are careful to throw out old 'tennis' balls because the ball inside splits into pieces very easily.

This week nine Australian men were arrested in Malaysia for undressing down to their Speedos which were embellished with the Malaysian flag. I shall not say any more, Internet search them if you wish,   but the general reporting called them "boys" and basically, boys will be boys, right? Boys??!! They ranged in age from 25 to 29. These are not boys, they are men, and men with responsible jobs.  I don't understand why drinking too much and stripping to your undies in a foreign country is dismissed as just boyish behaviour.

Our duopoly supermarkets are complaining that customers using the self-serve option are keying in the wrong codes, saying a mango is a potato for example, and so stealing from them. What did they think would happen when they stopped serving customers?? I am always in a long line waiting to be served by a person. I won't use the self-serve as it takes away people's jobs. I know it is a pointless protest and I am cutting off my nose to spite my face, but apparently that is who I am!!

If it's Thursday, it must be bedtime. Oh look, it is and so it is. I don't think the fact that I slept for seven hours today and seven more in the night, will stop me sleeping again as soon as my head hits the pillow.