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Easy Chocolate Truffles

Tomorrow is my Mum’s 70th Birthday.  I decided to make her birthday cake, as you do, so she would have something to offer guests when they came to visit her (she’s having several little soirees to stretch her special day out).  Cue much culinary disaster and chaos. Everything I tried to do tonight ended in failure.  To start with, I couldn’t find my kitchen scales so couldn’t make the cake I had wanted to create, then I spilled sugar all over my bench, then the cupcakes I made were horrible and inedible.  Finally I decided to make truffles because I only had a few ingredients left and couldn’t bear having to bake anything else.  I had seen truffles made with only a couple of ingredients, and not needing butter or cream, so I looked for a recipe that would suit and – hey presto! – Slice of Kitchen Life  came to the rescue with this easy-peasy truffle mix.  I have adapted it slightly but it is still the basic recipe and principle of the original.  They’re made with water, which goes against everything we all know about cooking with chocolate but, trust me, it works!

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INGREDIENTS
  • 200g dark (70% cocoa solids) chocolate
  • 6 tablespoons espresso coffee (cooled to room temperature)
  • 2 and ½ tablespoons maple syrup (at room temperature)
  • Two Tablespoons Crunchy Peanut Butter (the 100% peanut kind -not the kind made with added oil, sugar etc)
  • To serve:
  • Sifted cocoa powder and / or dessicated coconut for rolling truffles in
 
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. In a medium bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water, gently melt the dark chocolate.  I usually take it off the heat well before it is full melted and then just keep stirring until it’s all melted down.  The residual heat in the bowl will do the work for you, and then you don’t end up with burnt choccy!
  2. Allow to cool for a few minutes. Add the liquid coffee and begin gently stirring with a silicone spatula. As the liquid is incorporated, the chocolate will seize and thicken.
  3. Add the maple syrup, a spoonful at a time and again, gently stir until the mixture is smooth, glossy and thick.  Stir in peanut butter.
  4. Chill the truffle mixture for at least 45 mins – 1 hour. It will continue to thicken as it chills which will make handling a lot easier.  Be patient – it seems like it isn’t working at first but then – voila! – it suddenly hardens and you’re good to go.
  5. Measure out a generous teaspoonful of truffle mixture at a time, and roll into a smooth ball in the palms of your hands.
  6. Roll the balls in sifted cocoa powder or coconut until well coated, pop into mini-cupcake papers, and store in the refrigerator until serving.

This recipe makes about 15-18 truffles, depending on how large you like ’em!  They are very rich so smaller is better.

I’m so relieved something worked out tonight.  My kitchen looks like something exploded and I have melted chocolate all over me, the benches and the floor, but hey, your Mum only turns 70 once, right?  I wish I could have made her something a bit more spectacular but hopefully she will appreciate these anyway.

Happy Birthday Mum – I love you very much xxx

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Easy Chocolate Oat Cookies

Easy Chocolate Oat Cookies

I have been eating a lot lately.  Bingeing, you might say.  Whether it is to fill an emotional void or just because I am a pig with no self control, I can’t say.  I don’t generally keep “bad” food in the house because I will just eat it.  Rapidly. With no thought to the size of my thighs or any other part of my expanding body.

Today I had my niece’s 1st birthday party to go to.  I was severely hungover (not from alcohol, I don’t drink – it was from some medication I take to ease neck pain and headaches and last night I took a big dose because I just wanted to sleep) and very dopey and unmotivated.  Last night, I had predicted my inevitable last-minute dash to the party, so I had baked some cookies. Easy cookies which take no brain power whatsoever to make.  I added chocolate to the recipe because I am currently also going through some sort of brain fog, whereby I forget that I’m not supposed to eat chocolate (because of my kidneys).  Besides, the cookies were for the party, not strictly for me alone, so I could cheat and eat some batter and pretend it was ok.

The cookies are yummy and turn out really well, even if your oven is rubbish like mine.  The wholegrain porridge oats mean they are super healthy (you can lie to yourself like I did) and should be eaten with abandon.

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Easy Chocolate Oat Cookies

150g Self Raising Floour
150g Wholegrain Quick Oats
150g Dark Brown Sugar
150g Butter
2 Tablespoons Golden Syrup
100g chopped dark chocolate or chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
In a saucepan, melt butter, sugar and golden syrup together until sugar is dissolved.
Stir in dry ingredients until all combine. Chocolate will probably melt into mixture but that’s ok!

Spoon mixture onto baking tray and form into rounds.

Bake for approx 20 minutes.  Let cool on trays.  Store in airtight container.

Voila!  Eat and go on a diet tomorrow!

🙂

Coconut and Pistachio Barfi

Coconut and Pistachio Barfi

I am off work today with a cold.  Not a terrible cold or the flu – just sniffly and snuffly and couldn’t get out of bed-dy.  I always feel guilty about taking time off work but I really didn’t feel well this morning and so when hubby asked me if I was gonna stay home, I said “Yep” and went straight back to sleep.

I’m not feeling well but that doesn’t mean I’m gonna sit around and do nothing.  I have to be really sick to just lie on the couch all day watching TV or sleeping.  So I’ve been re-organising my jewellery supplies.  When I say “re-organising”, what I should really say is “organising” because they were in a pretty bad state and nothing was even remotely organised.  At all.  I want to put all my silver findings in one box, copper findings in another and so on.  So I can find stuff when I need it.  Which will certainly be a novelty for me.  It is going to take me the better part of one whole day I think.  I’m culling as I go as well because there are beads and findings that I just won’t use. Lots of plastic beads and stuff that I’ve just acquired over the years.  So many boxes and cases to go through…it all looks so much nicer when it’s all neat and tidy and colour matched though:

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As I said in my last post, I have a “Bollywood” themed fundraiser at work tomorrow so my department had to make Indian foods for a staff banquet.  I said I would make some sort of sweet thing.  I chose Coconut Barfi because it seemed pretty simple to make and didn’t have lots of ingredients.  I altered mine a bit to include Pistachio because it’s just such a pretty colour and I love the flavour.  So, here’s the recipe, provided by my lovely library assistant, Bhavni:

Coconut & Pistachio Barfi

Should make about 12 – 15 pieces depending on how big you roll them

Ingredients 
2 Cups Desiccated coconut ( I am a bit of an idiot and accidentally used shredded coconut but it still worked fine)
Condensed Milk -1 Can (300 ml)
½ tsp Cardamom powder
100g ground pistachio
Extra desiccated coconut for coating

Method
1.Heat a non-stick pan on medium flame and add the coconut.
2. Saute until the you can smell the coconut, making sure it does not brown at all (it takes 5 to 10 mins).
3. Add the condensed milk and cardamom powder and ground pistachio

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4. Saute for 5 mins continuously until everything rolls out to a ball.
5. Add some food colour if you like (the pistachio was green enough for me) and mix it.
6. Switch off the stove and let mixture cool down so you can handle it.
7. Roll into small balls and roll in extra coconut.

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8. Store in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to serve.

Voila!  Pretty easy really.  Thanks Bhavni!

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Hopefully people at work will like them.  I should point out that I washed my hands continuously throughout the making of these little gems.  I didn’t want anyone getting my germs as a special surprise in their Barfi.  I’m not coughing so I hopefully kept my plague to myself.  I had some ideas for dressing up the dish and making them look all blingy and Indian-inspired and colourful but I’m not feeling that well.  I’m just glad I got something made, despite my ill health.

Have a great week everybody.  Why not try some Barfi?  They don’t take long and you could make some to take to your own workplace and share around.  Let me know if you do 🙂

PS The Barfi can also be pressed into a tin (buttered, the recipe suggests, or, as I would suggest, lined with baking paper) and when set, cut into diamonds.  Pretty!

Brownie Bake-Off

Brownie Bake-Off

A group of librarian friends in Sydney are having a brownie bake-off.  Recipes are being tweaked, samples scrutinised and ingredient lists zealously protected.  I’m unable to eat chocolate any more due to my renal condition (it’s a cruel universe indeed that forbids the all-healing goodness of chocolate) but I am known for my brownies.  I used to bake them a lot – for every family gathering, craft sale, birthdays and just-because days.  I haven’t made them for over a year now – it’s no fun whipping up a batch of these little beauties unless you can dip into the batter and help yourself to the baked finished product.

However, I am happy to share the recipe with all of you. It’s a fool-proof one and never fails me.  Give it a try – you’ll be glad you did (and so will anyone else whom you deem lucky enough to sample it).  Just be warned though – you WILL have to make these again and again.

 

CHERRY RIPE BROWNIES

125g butter
200g brown sugar
2 eggs
5 tablespoons cocoa, sifted
3 tsp cherry brandy essence (or vanilla essence)*
100g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 bars of Cherry Ripe, chopped
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped (can use pecans or almonds or mixture of nuts)

Preheat Oven to 180 degrees celsius.

Over low heat, melt butter in a medium sized saucepan.  Remove from heat and mix in cocoa powder, sugar, essence and eggs.  Sift flour and baking powder and add to mixture with chopped nuts and Cherry Ripe.  Stir until combined.

Pour into a 20cm square cake tin, lined with baking powder.

Bake for approx 25 minutes.  Do not over-bake. Check at 20 minutes – brownies are better undercooked.  A skewer inserted into the middle should come out just clean.  Let cool in tin and then dust with icing sugar before cutting into squares.  

* Cherry Brandy Essence is available in the Cake/Baking section of the supermarket.  It’s not essential but it does amp up the flavour!  Substitute real Cherry Brandy if you like – experiment!