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April 2017

Friday Food: Giant Macadamia & Chocolate Biscuit

Giant chocolate biscuitNoooo, Better Homes & Gardens magazine, you should not be publishing the August issue while it is still June. It is making my year go way too fast. But you are forgiven because you have an excellent biscuit baking section. This week I made giant biscuits.  The recipe makes two. The biscuits are melt and mix and I complicated things by making a plain and a chocolate version. I don't think the chocolate version was as successful, but I can't taste it to find out: it seems less snappy and crispy. I halved the initial melted mixture and then substituted 1 tablespoon of Dutch Processed cocoa for one tablespoon of the self-raising flour.  I forgot to add the vanilla.

I am not sure if the white chocolate is supposed to be melted, but I don't think it is, otherwise it would have been melted with the butter. I used white choc chips and a good bar of dark chocolate. The only macadamia nuts in the supermarket were already chopped into smallish pieces. I kind of prefer larger chunks really.

My oven trays are 28cm wide and I traced a slightly smaller circle on the back of the baking paper so I could make the biscuit roundish. And that's it: easy to make, quick to bake and they look very impressive and the plain biscuit has a lovely golden edge.

 

 

Giant Macadamia & Chocolate Biscuit           makes 2

 

  • 200g butter, melted
  • 100g white chocolate, finely chopped. I used choc chips.
  • 220g (1 cup) caster sugar
  • 1 tspn vanilla paste
  • 1 egg
  • 300g (2 cups) self raising flour
  • 1/2 tspn bicarbonate of soda
  • 200g good dark chocolate, chgopped
  • 1/2 cup macadamias, chopped

 

Preheat the oven to 200C or 180 fan-forced. Line two trays with baking paper. I traced a circle on the back of the paper to help make more circular biscuits.

Melt

Put the sugar and butter in a bowl and mix with the white chocolate.

Egg and mix

Add the egg and mix till combined.

Dry and half the yummy things

And from here I halved the batter and made half plain and half chocolate as explained at the top. Add the flour, bicarb and half the dark chocolate and nuts. Save the other half for the topping.

Mix to a dough

Mix to a dough. I ended up using my hands to bring it together.

Make a big biscuit

Form a disc and then press out into a circle on the baking paper, it should be about 1cm thick.  Sprinkle over the extra chocolate and nuts and press gently but firmly so they stick on top.

And baked

Bake for 20 minutes, I swapped the trays and turned them half way through. Cool on the tray. The biscuits will keep for a week in an airtight container, or freeze for 3 months!!

Giant choc biscuits

 


Friday Food: Nutella Chocolate Truffles

TruffleIn spite of the blog title, I used Nutino for my truffles because it appears higher on the list of friendly choc-hazelnut spreads. This three ingredient recipe from EugenieKitchen, well four if you count the sprinkles, takes but a few minutes to make. Then, as many lazy hours of refrigeration or freezing as you wish, before you roll it into balls and be-jewel with chocolate sprinkles.

I used Old Gold eating chocolate with 40-45% cocoa, and thickened cream. You can buy thickened cream with no gelatine now, which vegetarians would appreciate.

I used a baking paper-lined box to refrigerate the truffle mixture as I find it easier to divide evenly using a rectangular container.  It measures 5 x 6 inches, which is an unwieldy  12.7 x 15.2 cm. I drew some lines using the Imperial measurements and made 30 truffles. I could only find a 115g bottle of chocolate sprinkles, but it was plenty and there were some left over.

The truffles will keep for at least a fortnight in the fridge in an airtight container and they do need to be refrigerated as they are quite soft*.

 

Nutella Chocolate Truffles          makes 24-30

  • 125ml (1/2 cup) thickened cream
  • 130g (4 1/2 oz) good dark chocolate
  • 110g (1/3 cup) Nutella or substitute
  • about 120g sprinkles or 1/2 cup cocoa powder

 

 

Cream and chocolate melt

Heat the cream in the microwave for 1 minute on High, stir and then heat for 1 minute more. It should be almost boiling. Keep an eye on it so it doesn't boil over. Meanwhile chop the chocolate finely and place it in a small bowl. Pour the cream over the chocolate and cover for a minute to let the hot cream melt the chocolate.

Add choc hazelnut spread

Stir gently but firmly until the chocolate and cream is smooth and combined. Add the Nutella (or substitute) and once again stir until smooth and combined.

Refrigerate and divide

If you so choose, pour into a square or rectangular container lined with baking paper or cling-wrap and refrigerate until firm. I marked some truffle-sized portions as soon as it was set. You can just refrigerate the truffle mixture in a bowl and scoop out a spoonful later on. I am a tad obsessed with trying to make them the same size.

Roll in sprinkles

I find it easiest to put the sprinkles/cocoa in a bowl and then gently shake the truffles about until they are coated. Then I roll them into balls and refrigerate again until firm.

Nutella chocolate truffles fake roses

And that is it, so simple and so delicious. I admit I did lick the spoon at the end and they taste heavenly: so smooth and chocolaty.

* I realised as I typed the recipe that I had only used 110g of chocolate instead of 130g. This may be why the truffles are softer. They still taste decadent!!


Weather You Like It, Or Not.

Life has been so busy this week. Monday was a holiday, and I can't actually remember what we did. On Tuesday I went to Leukaemia Support Group and found that one of our number had died. I don't have the local paper delivered any more so it was a bit of a shock. Two of our group have died in the last six months, but their other halves have continued to attend, and we are all pleased to see them. I baked a big batch of Coconut Rough Muffins and went and spent a little time with WeeJock & Bessie whose Mum and Dad had to elsewhere unexpectedly.

Weejock and bessie

Yesterday I baked some TimTam Brownies and went to the wool shop for some knitting time with knitting friends. I went to pat WeeJock and Bessie and there may have been some slight miscommunication between their Mum and Dad because I set off the alarm. Oh, it was so loud and piercing and went straight through me. I had no idea what to do, but luckily their kind next-door neighbour knew what to do and we were able to disarm the alarm. I had to go home and have a cup of tea and a little lie down. Then I took some muffins to MrsDrWho, because I had promised to, and she is writing reports. We went to bed at 7pm last night.

Today has been just as hectic. We went for a walk, I baked more muffins, had lunch with friends. I am sitting here now and I can hear we have a mouse. It is rustling in the wall. I shall have to do something about it tomorrow. I made a scarf for one of my lunch friends, a simple Feather & Fan stitch in charcoal Jet 12ply. I knitted two halves so that the ends both had a nice curve and then grafted them together at the back of the neck. The socks are in Crunchy Salad, Fresh'n'Juicy from Opal. They are almost finished, for MrsDrWho's birthday.

Mrsmauritius scarf crunchy salad socks

I knitted the Cowl for MrsMichigan last year, but I hadn't posted it and now it is Summer, but she will have it for their Winter. It is a Craftsy free pattern in a knit-along by Kate Atherley: the Waverton Cowl.

Wave-over-there cowl 2017

Lorelai Gilmore's health continues to improve. She runs and plays with the other dogs and jumps up for a treat, even though she knows she shouldn't.

Gilly boop

Hedy is just full of happiness and wickedness. She is sometimes so happy she quivers with joy.

Hedy is so happy

For only the second time in maybe fifteen years, there are lemons on the lemon tree: there were three, now there are two. I am a terrible gardener and plants volunteer to come to our house and die. Still, I am hoping this is a sign of things to come.

La la la la lemon

The lemon tree is in The Forbidden Zone and The Labradors are only allowed in there under strict supervision. So, late in the evening when I came home from Sewing, they went mad. They went round and round the tree, one going one way to try and catch the other. It was a good game!! Hedy has laser eyes, and Gilly is so fast.

Labradors' night time circles

I sewed a new dress sometime in the last few months. It is the Cashmerette Upton Dress in some lovely Christmas tablecloth poinsettia material. MrsHouseOf paid the grand sum of $4 for four metres and gave it to me, so it was free!! I love that I didn't have to do a Full Bust Adjustment. I followed the instructions and cut out a toile and it fitted almost perfectly. I always have to raise the armholes and lower the waist a tad, but I am so pleased. I love the swooshiness of the skirt. I sewed the pleated skirt, v-neck version. It is a little loose and needs some tweaking, but I couldn't be happier. I like a loose dress when the weather is warm. I obviously have ONE pose, because each of my neighbours took these photos at different times during the day!!

Upton Poinsettia dress

The ABC TV News decided to update their weather map. That is a good thing, but when they updated it, they put the numbers for the forecast first and then the name of the town or city. I couldn't work out why I was having difficulty reading the chart when the sound was down. My eyes were searching wildly for the place name in the few seconds the map was up, and then it was gone before I could find the numbers.

I know we read from left to right, not middle to end, then back to the start and then to the middle again. I taught many children to read when I was teaching, so I know I have some expertise in this area. I rang The ABC and explained why I thought they needed to revise their chart almost three weeks ago. They said the graphic designer would ring me, but no-one did. Tonight I watched the News and something seemed different with The Weather: yes!!! They have changed the order and the place name is first and then the forecast numbers. The map is so much easier to read. I feel it is a victory for common sense and teachers of reading everywhere. Thank you ABC!!

Weather before and after

We all had a nap this afternoon, and it is very late. The Labradors are in bed already. Tomorrow I am thinking of making some Nutella-like truffles for Friday Food. It will be an experiment, so I may need a back up plan.


Friday Food: Ferrero Rocher Brownies

A ferrero rocher brownie pieceEvery week Taste.com.au sends out a newsletter and the words Ferrero Rocher Brownies leaped out at me on Monday. Yes: I had everything I needed except the eponymous chocolate treats. I decided to make the brownie for Sewing on Thursday evening and serendipitously the chocolates were on sale for half price!! This is an unusual brownie in that you whip the eggs and sugar, rather than melting chocolate and butter: there is no butter in this recipe. Despite this, MrsDrWho said it was excellent, very rich and she could only eat a small piece. My brownie was quite fudgy, but still properly cooked.

I have trouble with things being arranged randomly. In spite of my best efforts the 16 Ferrero Rocher** supposedly arranged randomly, were really (secretly) in a 4x4 array. I just gave in and made the array properly. I did cut pieces of the baked brownie to make the best of the cross-section of the Ferrero Rocher and it looks pretty fabulous.

I used Dutch Processed cocoa and Original Old Gold chocolate which is 40-45% cocoa. Two of the eggs are from the chickens over the road and one from the deli at the corner and the over-the-road eggs are have much paler yolks. In truth, you could replace the Ferrero Rocher with any chocolate confectionery you desire.

 

 

Ferrero Rocher Brownies     serves  16-20

 

  • 3 eggs
  • 200g (1 cup) brown sugar
  • 300g (1 cup) Choc-Hazelnut spread
  • 115g (3/4 cup) plain flour
  • 1 tbspn Dutch processed cocoa
  • 100g dark choc, finely chopped
  • 16 Ferrero Rocher chocolates

 

Preheat the oven to 180*C or 160*C fan-forced and grease and line a 20cm/8 inch square cake tin.

Beat eggs and sugar

Use an electric mixer or beater to beat the eggs and sugar for about 4 minutes, it will become thick and creamy and double in size.

Add hazelnut choc spread

Gently warm the Choc-Hazelnut spread in the microwave and then fold carefully into the egg and sugar mixture.

Dry ingredients and chopped choc

Combine the flour and cocoa, and chop the dark chocolate.

Add dry and choc and fold in

Add the dry ingredients and chopped chocolate to the batter and fold together, trying not to knock out too much air.

Ferrero rocher

Unwrap the Ferrero Rocher.

Arrange ferrero rocher

Keep 1/4 -1/2 cup of the brownie batter aside, and pour the rest into the tin and spread evenly, smoothing the top. Place the chocolates randomly, or not randomly in my case, into the brownie.

Add extra batter and bake

Pour the resrved brownie batter over the top, trying to mainly cover the tops of the chocolates and bake for 35-40 minutes. My brownie was set on top, but still soft in the centre after 35 minutes. Cool in the tin and then cut into pieces as you like.

Ferrero rocher brownies

I especially like the way the brownie looks when the Ferrero Rocher are cut in cross-section.  I can't think of a way to improve the brownie at all!!

** What is a Ferrero Rocher?? I am not sure how to refer to them. They are not lollies, and not really chocolates per se, hence the endless repetition of Ferrero Rocher throughout this post!!


Friday Food: Giant Choc Chip Cookie

Giant cookieI love a good baking trend, and the Better Homes & Gardens trend this year is a giant cookie shaped silicon baking pan. Last year it was a doughnut pan and a few years before a long bar tin. I bought the $8 offer in the supermarket for the magazine, cooking booklet and one silicon pan, but there is an offer in their shop if you fancy a pan or two. I decided I only needed one pan and chose the cheaper route.

There are eighteen recipes: gluten-free, no-bake, microwave and ordinary oven baking. There are also three variations for the Giant Cookie: classic, triple chocolate and confetti. I chose the classic.

If you don't have this silicon pan, you can use any 23cm/9 inch round cake tin.

I followed the recipe exactly, and it is just melt and mix, so marvellously easy. The giant cookie turned out surprisingly well, surprisingly because this is the first time I have used a silicon pan. I greased it very well, in every nook and cranny. I placed it on a baking tray at every turn to make it more stable. You could use any combination of choc chips, even chopped chocolate and/or nuts and dried fruit. I even piped chocolate over the pattern on the top, in a wriggly way, but a pattern nonetheless. MrsDrWho declared it exceedingly tasty, as did people in the staffroom when she took some to school.

I shall definitely make this again.

 

Giant Choc Chip Cookie        serves one giant or 12-14 ordinary people

 

  • cooking oil/spray to grease silicon pan
  • 125g butter, melted
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 1 tspn baking powder
  • 1/2 tspn bicarbonate of soda
  • 300g choc chips, any combination
  • 50g chocolate of your choice extra, melted, for piping

 

Grease the pan

Preheat the oven to 180*c or 160*C fan-forced. Thoroughly grease the silicon pan. I used some baking paper and oil, but it is easier to use a cooking spray, I just don't have any. Put the pan on an oven tray.

Butter sugar egg

Use a large bowl and mix the melted butter and sugar. Add the egg and mix again.

Make the dough

Stir in the dry ingredients until a smooth dough forms. Divide the dough into thirds, roughly.

Cover the star

Press one third of the dough into the centre of the silicon pan, to cover just the star part.  Leave the outside border dough free, and smooth the top as best as possible.

Choc chip dough at last

Add the choc chips to the remaining two-thirds of the dough and mix through evenly. Very gently press the choc chip dough in the pan, covering the centre star area and pressing right out to the fluted border section.

Smooth the top

The recipe says to smooth the top and so I used a piece of baking paper to protect the cookie and smoothed as best I could. I am not sure so much care was needed, but the cookie was beautifully smooth.

Bake and cool

Place the tray with the cookie pan into the oven and bake for 35 minutes. I found it took 40 minutes for mine to bake properly. The recipe says bake for 30 minutes for a chewy cookie and 40 minutes for a crunchier texture. I have not tried any other baking times, so I can't say what will happen.

Cool in the pan, on the tray, for 20 minutes and then turn out onto a rack, starry side up, and leave to cool completely. When it is cold you can pipe chocolate, following the outline of the star pattern. I forgot my piping tips, so I used a ziplock bag with a tiny hole snipped in one corner. It was not very accurate, but it shows the general idea.

Slice of giant cookie cake

The giant cookie is fun to make and I would definitely love to try some more baking ideas using the silicon pan. Oh I did, I baked a giant wagon wheel!! It was a labour of love, but worth it in the end. Don't cut the wheel straight from the fridge, it cracks terribly. IPad photo, so not the best, sorry.

Giant wagon wheel

 Oops, I pressed Publish and forgot to remove all the white space at the bottom of the post!!


Dip-That-Toe

For the last two months I have either had a cold, or been recovering from a cold. And not even a bad cold. I went to the doctor for my usual appointment and she decided I didn't need antibiotics, and I didn't. But it took me so long to recover. Every day we would go for a walk, then we would go to bed until four or five o'clock in the afternoon, and we would sleep all night too. It was only last week that I started having proper days awake. Consequently I am dipping my toe back into The Internet and my blog.

There has been very little crafting: I knitted a Milo (It's Marvellous What A Difference), some socks for MrsDrWho ( Magical Happy Socks) and I made Wee Master Singapore some Shiny Gold Disco Trousers to match the Shiny Gold T-Shirt I sewed for him. Oh and I made a whole other set of pouches with Labradors on the front. I sewed one set and promptly put them somewhere safe, aka Lost. I sewed another set and of course then I found the first.

Things I have made

Lorelai Gilmore's health has continued to improve. She is feeling very well and loves to run and play all the time. Winter is here today, but we have had a few fogs and frosty cold mornings already. Gilly and Hedy love the colder mornings, they are invigorated.

Winter walk

We went to the vet for Gilly's blood test a fortnight ago. This is how Hedy waits for Gilly.

Hedy waits for Gilly at the vet

And it is impossible to take a photo of her joy when Gilly comes back. Poor Gilly, Hedy's waggy tail is a bother.

Gilly is back  Hedy is so happy

Hedy loves to play with Rafa and the ball. The ball is the thing. They both want it, they both can't have it at the same time. Rafa has the same toy, but if there are two, it is too confusing for them.

Hedy and rafa wrestling with the ball

I've had to return a whole stack of books to The Library, unread. I couldn't concentrate at all. Thank goodness I feel better, as I have lots of new books on Hold as well as the old one, back on Hold again.

I used my candy thermometer for the first time and made some Italian meringue. I made a syrup with sugar and water and brought it to the boil until it reached 120*C. Meanwhile I whisked some egg-whites. When the syrup reached the correct temperature I slowly poured it into the bowl as I whisked the egg-whites until they were cool. I don't have a blowtorch to brown the meringue. I am afraid of them, uncalled for I know, but gas and matches or an ignition spark scare me. I made some lemon curd and marscapone filled doughnuts topped with the Italian meringue and also some apple pie doughnuts, tipped with whipped cream, pecans and maple syrup. I took them for supper at Sewing. I feel more confident with the candy thermometer now, there may be more temperature related recipes in my future.

Doughnuts

Last week I went to Sewing, this week to Knitting Dining Out and I was also an unexpected Patient/Partner for the Fourth Year Doctors. I was the lucky ninth phone call to find someone to fill a gap.

And now it is time for all good Labradors (and naughty ones) to go to bed. Tomorrow I am going to ask my next door neighbour to take a photo of the new dress I sewed ages ago, and I shall endeavour to post for Friday Food and even, shock/horror, read and comment on blogs!!!

Here is Lorelai Gilmore running. She hasn't run like this since Peri Naughty died. Oh and here's Hedy Lamarr and her BillyBall and Sandy too.