Caramel Slice…its just too Nice!!

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Caramel Slice would definitely have to be a family favourite in my household. Actually, come to think of it, anything caramel is a favourite! So when my sister asked me to bake something for her works Biggest Morning Tea it was the first thing that came to mind. Here in Australia, families and business around the country host a Morning tea to raise funds for Cancer research, collecting donations for a great cause! I was so excited to be able to help contribute through something that I myself love to do.

I actually received this recipe off my best friend, who herself had got it off her grandma (grandma’s always know the secrets to great cooking!) and I’ve made it quite a few times! When I recieved a copy of it, it was handwritten in beautiful cursive writing, a perfect sign of a recipe that was certainly going to produce beautiful old fashioned baked goods! The last two times I’ve made it though, I have made a few slight changes and I think I’m finally happy with a recipe that is super easy and super tasty. What I love about this slice is that the base is soft and chewy while the caramel centre isn’t overly sweet. Using dark chocolate on top also helps to balance the whole thing out so I’d recommend staying away from milk chocolate. This recipe is also really great as its really quick to make and kids can get involved too. A perfect lunch box treat if I do say so myself..that is if any slices make it to your lunch box!!

So here it is, my version of a great classic, Caramel Slice (based on one I received from a beautiful friend and her wonderful family!!)

What you need:

1 Block Dark chocolate (200g)

For the Base:

1 Packet Arnotts Butter Snap Cookies

1/4 cup desiccated coconut

115g butter (melted)

For the Caramel:

1 tin condensed Milk

2 Tbs golden syrup

1 Tbs butter

What I did:

1. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees C. Then use a food processor to turn your butternut snap cookies into a fine crumb (if you don’t have one you can always do this by hand by putting your biscuits into a bag and hitting it with a rolling pin. It may just take a little longer). Then add your coconut and melted butter and pulse until the mixture looks like wet sand.

2. Line your baking tin with greaseproof paper and tip your crumb mixture into it. Using the back of a spoon, press the mixture firmly and evenly around the tin to form your base. Then pop it into the fridge (this part is very important as it prevents you getting biscuit crumbs in your caramel later! Trust me, don’t skip it!) 

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2. While your base is setting in the fridge, pour your condensed milk, butter and golden syrup into a saucepan and put onto a medium-low heat. Stir it continuously until it turns into a nice golden caramel colour. Its really really important that you don’t stop stirring this mixture as it will burn so easily and leave you with a caramel that has burnt bits in it. Also make sure you stir right to the edges of the pot so it doesn’t stick. This bit can take a while as you need to work with a low heat but stick with it. 

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3. Pour the caramel over your base and pop the whole thing into the oven for 10minutes.

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4. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completly. Once cooled, melt your chocolate in a bowl over a simmering pot of water. Pour over the caramel and set the whole thing in the fridge (1hr) or freezer. Use a sharp knife to cut into squares before serving

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Enjoy and Happy Baking!!

Triple Chocolate Cheesecake

ImageSo I am fairly certain that anything with three types of chocolate in it will always taste delicious, regardless of what it is. Add to that the fact that the chocolate will make up a beautiful rich cheesecake and you’ve got yourself a winner! Last weekend I decided to cook a three course lunch for my mum for mothers day and knowing that she loves all things chocolate and cheesecake I knew what the dessert had to be. But the question remained….how to do it?? 

I often steer away from making no bake cheesecakes after a previous experience which didn’t end up to be very successful. During that attempt, the recipe asked me to use gelatine powder to set the cake (again a chocolate cheesecake). Now either I was a bit heavy handed with the gelatine or the recipe itself was a little (or a lot) off but what I ended up with was a very dense, very firm cake that was a huge let down in all areas! After that time I thought that I would just steer clear of the gelatine set type cakes and stick to the baked cheesecake. 

Thankfully though, my approach changed completely after watching an episode of MKR (yep another recipe from this show! I’m sorry but I really love it!) where two contestants (QLD’s Paul and Blair) created what looked like a beautiful triple chocolate cheesecake. Aside from the fact that the recipe seemed very simple, the two dad’s are self confessed “non-dessert” people, so I thought that my chances of success would be slightly higher (it was one of those, “if they can do it so can I moments”). So off I went on a path of determination!

And luckily, I was NOT disappointed! Wow! what a recipe! The base is a lovely crumbly mixture that combines the flavours of chocolate, walnuts, dates and honey to make something really really special. The cheesecake mixture itself is beautiful, light, and creamy, with pockets of sour raspberries to cut through the rich flavours. Honestly, this would have to be the lightest, most delicious cheesecake I have ever ever eaten! If thats not proof enough, my family have continued to eat it every day this week and their still not sick of it! I promise you will love this one. It’s easy, tasty and so more-ish! The only issue that I had was that I think I used a slightly smaller cake tin then the recipe required, which meant I had a little leftover of the milk chocolate layer. I put this into another tin though to make a mini cheesecake, which my sister and boyfriend happily devoured as “chef-specials”!

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So here it is, the recipe for Triple Chocolate Cheesecake (original found here):

Ingredients

  1. Melted butter, to grease
  2. 300g plain chocolate biscuits
  3. 180g (1½ cups) walnuts, finely chopped, toasted
  4. 10 dates, pitted (Soak in boiling water to soften for about 15mins)
  5. 100g coconut oil
  6. 2 tbs honey

Filling:

  1. 750g cream cheese, softened
  2. 100g caster sugar
  3. 300ml thickened cream
  4. 200g white chocolate, chopped
  5. 200g milk chocolate, chopped
  6. 200g dark chocolate, chopped
  7. 3 tsp powdered gelatine
  8. 125g fresh raspberries, plus extra, to serve (I used frozen)

Method:

1. Grease a 23cm cake pan with removable base with melted butter. Process biscuits and nuts in a food processor until the mixture resembles crumbs. Add dates, coconut oil and honey and process to combine. Press mixture over base and sides of prepared pan and refrigerate until needed.
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2. To make the filling, using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar (on medium speed) until smooth and combined. Add cream and beat until smooth. Set aside.
3. Fill a small saucepan one-third full with water and bring to a gentle simmer. Place the white, milk and dark chocolate in separate small heatproof bowls. Working with one bowl at a time, place over pan and stir until chocolate has melted (don’t let the bowl touch the water). Allow to cool.
4. Place 60ml boiling water in a small heatproof bowl and sprinkle over gelatine. Stir until dissolved. With the motor running, gradually add to cream cheese mixture and beat to combine. Add a third of the cream cheese mixture to each bowl of melted chocolate and stir to combine.
5. Pour dark chocolate layer over chilled cake base. Dot with raspberries, then freeze for 5 minutes. Top with milk chocolate layer and freeze for 5 minutes. Top with white chocolate layer and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight to set.Image
6. Slice cheesecake and place on serving plates.
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I served mine with a raspberry coulis (cooked frozen raspberries with a bit of sugar and lemon juice to make a syrup) which is a lovely accompaniment!
 
Happy Baking and Enjoy!
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Death By Chocolate

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Last night my friends and I went on what we like to call a “Food Safari”! Basically, we all have a huge passion for food (eating it and cooking it of course!) and so spend hours catching up every few months at a different eatery around Sydney. Despite the fact that we all live in the same area, we are more then happy to travel for great food, which is exactly what we did last night! Of course, as it is Easter, what better opportunity to venture to Brighton Le Sands to make a visit to Bay Vista, a chocolate cafe (who really needs an excuse anyway!)

Luckily, two of my friends had been before, so they were able to advise on whats what and thank goodness they did because the menu choices are HUGE!! Thankfully, I was also encouraged to go with an empty belly so as to leave optimum room for dessert, which is exactly what I did!

When you arrive at Bay Vista, you enter a warm chocolate coloured room with low lighting that provides a nice intimate feeling. A perfect location for eating rich chocolatey desserts. I could honestly smell the chocolate from the moment I entered the room, and not in a sickly way that was overpowering, but more in a subtle way that was warming and a little exciting. If that didn’t get my taste buds watering then the huge chocolate fountain filtering silky, shiny milk chocolate most certainly did! mmm yum! As I mentioned earlier, the menu is absolutely HUGE! Who would have realised that there were so many ways to eat and serve chocolate! Additionally, there is a savoury menu but hey, who has time for that! Cleverly, the owners have divided the menu for your convenience into areas including Crepes, Ice Cream, Frozen Yogurt, Drinks, Pancakes, Waffles and Ice Cream Bowls (and yes all of these are on offer for you to choose from!) Of course, for someone as indecisive as me this proved a huge problem…where do I even start! Never fear though because I had a plan. I firstly agreed with myself that I wanted 

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something with chocolate, preferably including ice cream and with something hot like a crepe or waffles. As my sister was with me we also agreed to share two things (that way you get the best of both worlds) and then finally eliminated waffles based on the idea that after past experiences at other venues, waffles can be a bit doughy (although they did look amazing and I think next time I go, I’ll give them a try). And there you have my fail-proof process of elimination! The only step was now to decide which crepe and ice-cream bowl we wanted (trust me, this then took a while) but eventually we agreed on the Snickers Crepe ($16) and the 5th Avenue New York Ice Cream Bowl ($24).

To be honest, the Snickers Crepe was my favourite of the two! A huge, thinly cooked crepe filled with Snickers pieces and roasted peanuts, then drizzled with chocolate and caramel sauce! The dish was served with a nice big scoop of vanilla ice cream and dusted with icing sugar! Wow! This was soooo tasty I could have eaten it all day! I loved discovering little pieces of chewy nougat throughout my crepe and the roasted peanuts added a nice little crunch. A very tasty option which I would highly recommend.

Our second dish was the Ice Cream Bowl which was served in the biggest parfait glass I have ever seen! Inside the bowl we had a scoop each of peanut butter, chocolate and boysenberry ice cream topped with another scoop of soft serve vanilla ice cream and some whipped cream (if there Imagewasn’t enough cream for you yet!). Scattered throughout were pieces of chocolate brownie and new york cheesecake before being drizzled in chocolate fudge sauce! Wow what a dish! Now I know that that sounds irrisitable on paper, and trust me it was, I had a few reservations about it. Firstly, if your ordering this then I would certainly share it with a friend and order something on the side like we did. Also make sure that you like cream, not ice cream but cream, because they put an awful lot of it on the top, which there’s nothing at all wrong with, I’m just not a huge fan of cream. My other sense of confusion was the inclusion of boysenberry ice cream, which didn’t seem to fit with the rest of the flavours included. Perhaps it should be replaced with something more caramel-like? Despite that thought, the chocolate fudge sauce was rich and gooey and the brownie pieces with the ice cream was just delish! I loved the peanut butter ice cream, in fact I wish they had given us a bigger scoop of that one, which had a very subtle peanut butter flavour (so don’t worry about it being too rich) and fantastic creamy consistency. Although we shared ours, I did see lots of people finish a whole one on their own so I’m sure if you’ve got a sweet tooth you would be able to manage! Overall, so much yummy-ness in one big bowl!

After a good rest we all got a hot chocolate ($6) which I would very much recommend as almost a meal in itself! Three cute little serving dishes were presented to me; one empty mug, one filled with warm frothy milk and the last with rich, silky milk chocolate. Then, if that wasn’t enticing enough, a skewer was placed across my cup with alternating waffle pieces and marshmallows! It was like a chocolate fondu AND hot chocolate in one! Great value! I decided to use mine for that exact purpose but in the end couldn’t quite finish it off as I slowly slipped into a food coma (a fact that I deeply regret now!)

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Overall, I would highly recommend a visit to Sydney’s Bay Vista! Be prepared for beautiful rich dessert dishes which will take you quite some time to decide upon. You may even need to have a little system like I did before you go!! Either way, you won’t be disappointed! I’m already counting down until I go again!!

PS. Check out their website here!!

Enjoy!!

French Flair

ImageA few months ago I discovered Rachel Khoo’s Little Paris Kitchen and immediately fell in love with the simple, yet delicious recipes she had on offer! Every Thursday night I would rush to my TV with pen and paper in hand, frantically scribbling down her recipes, and giving cross looks to anyone who dared to speak or ask questions (for the duration of the episode my family was sworn to silence!) Every dish was a beautiful celebration of Parisian culture and fresh ingredients and I can honestly say that I sat licking my lips for the most part! I was absolutely devastated when the series finished, and also somewhat disappointed at the BBC’s poor efforts of uploading recipes to their online website (she has a cookbook though which I plan on investing in very very soon!)

One of my favourite must try recipes though was her Chocolate Mousse, which was by far the most decadent, light, creamy, fluffy mousse I have ever tasted! While Rachel served hers with cocoa nibs I made some chocolate bark to top it with, but either option would work perfectly. Sadly I was too excited to eat the mousse to take any pictures of the process so you will have to trust me when I say MAKE THIS DISH!! Especially if you like chocolate, and even if you don’t it will change your mind! It’s not overly sweet but perfectly balanced. Be warned, you’ll only need a little as it is very rich!

So here it is, Rachel Khoo’s Chocolate Mousse

Ingredients

For the crème pâtissière (pastry cream)
  • 3 free-range egg, yolks only
  • 50g/2oz caster sugar
  • 20g/1oz cornflour
  • 250ml/9fl oz whole milk
  • 1 heaped tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
For the chocolate meringue
  • 3 free-range eggs, whites only
  • 50g/2oz icing sugar
  • couple drops lemon juice
  • pinch of salt
  • 150g/5½oz dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • 200ml/7fl oz whipping cream
To serve
  • 2 tbsp soft butter
  • 50g/2oz cocoa nibs

Preparation method

  1. For the crème pâtissière, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until pale and thick, then whisk in the cornflower.
  2. Add the cocoa powder to the milk and bring to a boil then switch off the heat.
  3. Pour the milk in a slow stream onto the egg mixture, whisking vigorously all the time. (Pour slowly to avoid scrambling the egg.)
  4. Return the mixture to a clean pot over a medium heat and whisk continuously. Make sure to scrape the sides and the bottom, otherwise it will burn.
  5. The cream will start to thicken. Once it releases a bubble or two, take it off the heat.
  6. Pour into a shallow bowl. Cover with cling film (pat the cling film so it sticks directly on to the cream) and refrigerate for at least an hour before using.
  7. For the meringue, put half the egg whites into a clean glass or metal bowl. Add the sugar, lemon juice and salt and whisk until white.
  8. Add the rest of the egg whites and continue whisking until the meringue forms stiff peaks when the whisk is removed.
  9. Melt the chocolate in a bain marie (a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water) or in the microwave on a low setting.
  10. Whip the cream until soft peaks form when the whisk is removed.
  11. To make the mousse, beat the chilled crème pâtissière to remove any lumps before stirring in the melted chocolate. Mix in one third of the meringue, then gently fold in the rest followed by the whipped cream.
  12. To serve, brush 4-6 glasses or ramekins with soft butter. Add some cocoa nibs and roll them around the sides and bottom of the glasses until evenly coated.
  13. Divide the mousse between the glasses and chill for at least an hour, but ideally four hours. Serve chilled, sprinkled with cocoa nibs. The mousse is best eaten the same day and should not be kept for more than two days (due to the raw egg whites).

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z-KWWKGJK1U

Enjoy and Happy Baking!!