Four Cheese and Nut Tart

For all the Cheese Lovers out there….this one is for you!!!

I am an all or nothing kind of a girl, and I have pretty much been on a Gluten and Dairy-Free way of eating for quite some time now.  Well, this tart, just threw the gluten thing and dairy thing out the window for me.  But it was all good and totally worth it. I ate salad leaves and cucumber for a solid week just to apologise to my stomach and try and get it back on track from making it consume the gluten and dairy…but that is how it goes once in awhile :-). This was like my all time cheat.  Most people do it with chocolate, I did it with cheese, not one kind, but FOUR!!!

I cannot take all the credit for this amazing tart.  I have had this recipe for ‘yonks’ and every time I page through my recipe collection, this recipe practically haunts me. It is like….bake me, bake me….I swear I literally hear this timid little voice, it is just so sad…..so…. Finally I just did it ! I made it, and it was all that I expected and more ….yes, this tart was AWESOME.

Four Cheese and Nut Tart

Preparation time: 10  minutes

Cooking time: 45 minutes

Total time:  55 minutes

Serves 8

Ingredients:

Shortcrust Pasty (I used store-bought, purely due to laziness)

4 jumbo-sized egg yolks

a bunch of spring onions

1/4  small white onion, diced finely

200 gram Cream Cheese (I used Full-Fat as I was on a mission)

125 gram Mascarpone Cheese

250 gram grated Matured Cheddar Cheese

20 – 30 gram grated Parmesan

50 gram dry toasted walnuts, chopped

50 gram dry toasted almonds, chopped

Salt and Pepper to taste

Instructions:

Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius / 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Grease a springform cake tin, approximately 20 centimeters /8 inch in size.

Roll out the pastry and cut out a 23 centimeter /9 inch circle and place the shortcrust pastry into the cake tin.

Prick the pastry all over with a fork and allow to bake for 15 minutes.

Now, in a bowl, mix together the egg yolks and onions.

Add the cream cheese and mascarpone.

Season well with some black pepper.

Add the nuts to the cheese mixture.

Then scatter the matured cheddar cheese on top of the pastry.  Top with the nut and cheese mixture and then lastly sprinkle the Parmesan cheese over the top.

Bake in the oven for 25 – 30 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let it rest for ten minutes before serving.

Enjoy 🙂

NB*  This can also be made ahead of time and placed in the fridge.  Just remember to bring it to room temperature before serving.

 

Healthier Blueberry and Seed Muffins

Today is muffin day! and you have my full permission to eat as many as you want.  I am only saying that, as I am guilty of devouring one hot muffin just as they came out of the oven.  I know….I have no control.  I don’t know what it is about muffins, but for me they need to be HOT !!! and the best ones are straight from the oven. I just cannot resist them !!! I don’t even sit down to eat it, it is a matter of …tray out of oven, and my paw clutching one hot muffin from the tray….and need I say much more…..

So, anyway, I decided to post something a little different from my usual …. actually I was kind of feeling a little guilty, as I have not really baked in a while, and I was getting the impression that the hubby was starting to feel a bit deprived.  (Yes, let’s blame it on the hubby :-)) Anyway, so I opted for these ‘healthier’ muffins. Note, the operative word ‘healthier’, so in my mind they are ‘healthier’ but still not 100% healthy. There still are a few things which raise my eyebrows…but hey…it is all about balance. 🙂

Healthier Blueberry and Seed Muffins

Preparation time:  10 minutes

Cooking time:  20 minutes

Total time:  30 minutes

Makes 12

Ingredients:

2 jumbo-sized free-range eggs

45 grams apple sauce

45 grams vegetable oil/or butter, melted/or coconut oil, melted

1/2 cup lactose-free plain yoghurt

1 medium-sized banana

 

225 grams gluten-free plain all-purpose flour

3 teaspoons gluten-free baking powder

50 grams sugar

20 grams gluten-free oats

125 grams seeds (I did a mixture of 50 grams sunflower, 50 grams pumpkin, 25 grams combined sesame and poppy seeds)

125 grams blueberries (fresh or frozen)*

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius /350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Lightly whisk eggs with a fork.

If using butter, melt it.  Whilst butter is melting, mash-up the banana.

In a large bowl, add the beaten eggs, applesauce, butter, yoghurt and banana. Mix well with a metal tablespoon.

In another bowl, combine all the dry ingredients together.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and fold in nicely.

Lastly, fold in the blueberries until just combined.

Spoon dollops of mixture into the muffin tin.

Cook for approximately 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Enjoy 🙂

NB*  If you are using frozen blueberries, allow the blueberries to defrost naturally overnight.

If you are not Gluten intolerant, I am sure these muffins will be equally as nice using another healthier flour option.

Butternut and Herb Scones

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Hey, hey….lets talk about savoury scones for awhile.  Who is more into savoury than sweet? Personally, I am not fussy. My mom was the queen of scone making, she would throw together a batch in like no time.  Unlike me, who still goes by the written out recipe!  Yip, there is no hope ! She would add this or that, or keep them plain so we could have jam and cream with them (yum). No matter what, they were always delicious :-). Anyway, scones just seemed to be on my radar lately, but I wanted to just change it up a bit so savoury scones it was.  I have been on a bit of a butternut vibe lately (but that is a story for another time, and apart from the fact that I had bought a pocket of butternuts…I just thought butternut scones just had to happen, I mean …come on, we have butternut everything happening these days, so why not butternut scones! Let me tell you, these Butternut and Herb ones are the Thing !  Just saying!!!

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Butternut and Herb Scones

Preparation time:  15 minutes (prep time will be longer if you do not have pre-roasted mashed butternut)

Cooking time:  20 minutes

Total time:  35 minutes

Ingredients:

125 millilitres (1/4 cup) salted butter

500 millilitres (2 cups) cake wheat flour

1 jumbo-sized free range egg

125 millilitres (1/4 cup) buttermilk

125 millilitres (1/4 cup) mashed roasted butternut

125 millilitres (1/4 cup) chopped spring onion

125 millilitres (1/4 cup) chopped fresh rosemary

a little extra milk for the tops of the scones

Instructions:

Firstly, preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius (170 degrees Celsius Fan Oven)/350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Dust a baking tray with a little flour, to prevent sticking.

In a large bowl add the flour, baking powder and the chilled butter.  Using your hands, yes, I prefer using my hands with this next step, it is a bit messy but persevere and scrunch the butter into the flour mixture with your fingers, with a lifting up motion. Continue to do this until you literally have a bowl of ‘breadcrumbs’.  Shake the bowl, and you will notice any big clumps sitting on the top, just break those down.

(You may want to wash your hands now quickly) Then add the egg, buttermilk, butternut, spring onion and herbs.  Stir well with a metal spoon.

Empty the scone mixture onto a floured surface.  (This may sound ridiculous, but now is the time to flour your hands) Flatten the scone mixture slightly. Using a knife divide the scone mixture into eight. I usually cut, as if I were cutting a pie.

With a little extra milk, moisten the top of each scone.

Place in the preheated oven and let cook for 20 minutes.

Once done, enjoy with a nice smearing of butter.

Enjoy 🙂

 

Carrot and Nut Cake

 

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Yay ! 🙂 Happy Happy Anniversary to my Blog 🙂  Yip, one year ago, on this day, I pressed that ‘publish’ button, and I am so pleased I did. It has been a year where I have connected with so many wonderful, amazing bloggers which I consider friends.  It has been a year where I have had to overcome my fear of all the techno stuff on WordPress and just figure it out and just do it !

Never the less, I have survived, and here’s to another good year and many more.

So, I decided to celebrate with my favourite Carrot and Nut Cake which I have not baked in quite a while. This has been adapted slightly from the original recipe which was published in a 2004 Your Family Magazine. The icing I do, is really quite special.  It is known as the Boiled Milk Frosting or Ermine Frosting.  This I found on the internet many years ago, and does not disappoint.  I find it a lovely change to the normal cream cheese frosting.

(Sorry about the pic’s, seriously…but that is another whole long story….and the semi decent pics were only from a half eaten cake…..).

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Carrot and Nut Cake

Preparation time:  15 minutes

Cooking time:  40 – 50 minutes

Total time:  55 – 65 minutes

Ingredients:

300 grams  (635 millilitres) cake wheat flour

2 teaspoons (10 millilitres) baking powder

1 teaspoon (5 millilitres) bicarbonate of soda

1 1/2 teaspoons (7.5 millilitres) ground cinnamon

1/2  teaspoon (2.5 millilitres) ground nutmeg

a pinch of  ground cloves

zest of one medium to large orange

325 millilitres sunflower oil

320 grams (400 millilitres) white sugar

4 free-range jumbo sized eggs, beaten

300 grams grated carrot

150 grams chopped mixed nuts (I used walnuts, pecans and almonds)

Instructions:

Grease and line two spring-form cake tins.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius/170 degrees Celsius (thermo fan) / 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a medium-sized bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg together and set aside.

In a large bowl, using an electric beater, beat together the oil and sugar for about 5 minutes.  Whilst beating continuously, add the beaten eggs slowly to the oil and sugar mixture.

Add the grated carrots and the nuts to the egg mixture, and stir with a metal tablespoon or a wooden spoon.

Fold in the sifted dry ingredients, including the zest, and mix well.

Pour the mixture equally into the two prepared tins and place in the oven for 40 – 50 minutes.

(If you are not using a thermo fan oven, you can check at 40 minutes, and if the skewer comes out clean, the cake is done.  I use a thermo fan oven, so mine needed to cook for 50 minutes)

Once cakes are done, let them sit in the cake tins for at least ten minutes, before releasing them and putting them on a cooling rack.

The cakes must be completely cold before icing.

For the Icing:

Ingredients:

5 Tablespoons cake wheat flour

1 cup full-cream milk

225 grams salted butter

1 cup (250 millilitres) castor sugar

1 teaspoon (5 millilitres) vanilla extract

Instructions:

Using a small saucepan and a whisk, mix the flour and milk together. Place the saucepan over a medium heat, and while stirring continuously with the whisk, bring the flour and milk mixture to a very slow boil. Keep whisking until the mixture thickens.  This can take at least 5 minutes. Then place the saucepan directly into the fridge.

While the heated flour and milk mixture is cooling in the fridge, use an electric beater and cream the butter, sugar and vanilla extract together until light and creamy. This literally takes a a couple minutes.

When the heated flour and milk mixture is completely cool, take it out of the fridge and add the creamed butter mixture to it. Beat with an electric beater until the mixture is fluffy and thick.

Then apply to the cold cakes.

Decorate with chopped nuts.  (I dry toasted mine – optional)

Enjoy 🙂

 

 

 

Bran Muffins

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Okay, I know everyone knows how to bake Bran Muffins.  They are super easy to do and we all have baked them at one time or another.

I wanted to share this particular recipe with you, for a couple reasons:  First, they are DIVINE and second, they have a magical ‘all time plus motivator !’. This recipe can be made in advance and literally stored in an air tight container in the refrigerator for six weeks !!! I kid you not !!! Isn’t that awesome !!!

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I just find these the best to have.  Once stored in the refrigerator, it is just so easy to just get the muffin pan out, whenever the need arises, get a tablespoon, stir the remaining mixture a bit, and spoon the mixture into how ever many muffins hollows from the muffin tray you want to eat at the time.  These are perfect to quickly pop in the oven, just before work or for lunches…These are perfect when the unannounced family member or friend arrives….These muffins just spell WIN WIN WIN 🙂

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So, I apologise for the boring post.  I apologise for the uneventful pics…but hey, I just had to share this recipe.

This recipe came from a recipe book by Annette Human, called Kitchen Gifts. One of my best friends, Janet. (She used to live next door to me when growing up, from about the time we were two bricks high) gave me this recipe book years ago when I got engaged. It was the perfect gift.  This is a book I refer to all the time. I have not altered or tweaked the recipe at all, as honestly it does not warrant it.

I hope you enjoy these muffins as much as I do.

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Bran Muffins

Preparation time:  10 minutes

Cooking time:  20 minutes

Total time:  30 minutes

This mixture makes 3 litres (3000 grams ) of batter.

Ingredients:

5 x 250 millilitres (650 grams) measured unsifted cake wheat flour

25 millilitres (25 grams) of bicarbonate of soda

10 millilitres  (2 teaspoons) salt

750 nillilitres (600 grams) white sugar

5 x 250 millilitres (250 grams) All Bran Flakes  (cereal)*

1 litre (1000 grams)  buttermilk

250 millilitres sunflower oil

4 extra large eggs, beaten

Instructions:

In a large bowl, sift the cake flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt together.

Add the sugar.

Add the All Bran Flakes.

Mix together thoroughly with a wooden spoon.

Add the buttermilk, sunflower oil and eggs and mix thoroughly with the wooden spoon.

Spoon the mixture into an airtight container, and place in the refrigerator.

This mixture will keep up to six weeks in the refrigerator.

To bake the muffins:

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celcius/170 degrees Celcius (fan oven) / 350 degrees F

Spray a muffin tray with a non stick food spray.

Spoon the muffin mixture into a muffin tray allowing a little room to rise.

Bake in a preheated oven for approximately 20 – 25 minutes until golden brown and a skewer comes out clean.

Enjoy 🙂

Further Options Apart from the All Bran Cereal are:

  •   to use 5 x 250 millilitres (350 grams) Raisin Bran Cereal.
  •   to use 5 x 250 grams All Bran Cereal and 175 millilitres (100 grams)   seedless raisins
  •   to use 5 x 250 millilitres (350 grams)  Corn Flakes Cereal.

Garlic and Herb Bread

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Happy New Year everyone.  I hope 2016 will be a good one for you.

Well, the New Year has begun, and as much as I am not really into the ‘New Years’ resolutions, because they kind of just never work out, and I blame myself completely….I am more into trying to just improve my life… (please note the operative word…trying ! )

Anyway enough of that.  As much as I would love to kick off the New Year with a well deserved healthy recipe….its not going to happen, instead I am going to share with you the best Garlic and Herb Bread recipe ever !  It is loaded with carbs, fattening greasy butter, healthy herbs and healthy garlic…so you see it is not ALL bad, just a little…but you know,…… it is totally worth it.

This bread, I have been doing for years, and it beats all the store bought garlic breads by miles in my opinion.

A huge plus is that it is so easy to do.  All you need is the bread, herbs, and the garlic butter.  Word of advice…please please please use fresh garlic and not the bottled jobs.  There is a massive difference in taste.  The fresh, tastes fresh with no preservatives, flavourants and colourants in it.  The bottled jobs….are just a no no…I don’t want to even go there.

Okay, so once you have all the ingredients, mixed the garlic, herbs and butter together, it is a matter of slice, apply loads of delicious fattening garlic herby butter on BOTH sides of the sliced bread, and then on the top of the bread, wrap in tin foil (aluminium foil) and bomb in a preheated oven for 20 – 30 minutes…and DONE.  Next is just to devour it, and that really won’t be a problem.

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This is awesome as a side for a meal, or a braai (barbecue)

Garlic and Herb Bread

Preparation time:  15 minutes *

Cooking time:  20 – 30 minutes

Total time:  35 – 45 minutes

Serves ….not sure, depending on the size of the bread you get and how hungry everyone is 🙂

Ingredients:

500 g butter, room temperature

15 cloves of garlic, chopped very small

a handful of fresh herbs (I used basil,chives, thyme and parsley), chopped

a fancy loaf of bread

Instructions:

In a medium sized bowl, add the butter, chopped garlic and chopped herbs.

Mix thoroughly with either a fork or a tablespoon.

With a bread knife, slice the loaf into slices, but do not cut completely through. The bread should still be able to hold its own and end up ‘fan like’ with all the slices still joined to the bottom of the loaf of bread.

Then, generously add the garlic, herb butter to the slices of bread, buttering both sides of each slice.   And, add the garlic, herb butter over the top of the bread.  Do not skip this part !

Wrap in tin foil (aluminium foil) and place in a preheated oven at 180 degrees Celcius for 20 – 30 minutes.

If you are wanting a crisper top of the bread, nearing the end of the time, just open up the tin foil (aluminium foil).

Enjoy 🙂

  •  Preparation time can be reduced, if you prepare the garlic herb butter  before hand.

NB*  This butter is can be frozen.  If you have any left over, put it in a sealed container and place in the freezer.   It can be used for so many other dishes as well.

Triple Chocolate Gooey Chunky Snickers Brownies

 

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If you are wanting indulgence, these Triple Chocolate Gooey Chunky Snickers Brownies are indulgence. Just writing that, I reminisce over that first bite I had into one of these brownies.  Soft, moist, gooey are just a few words that come to mind.  Decadent is another.   Just … pure chocolate decadence…. That first bite almost melts in your mouth, and all the flavours of the chocolate just intermingle with such precision, it is unthinkable………sorry…did I get carried away then?

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Anyway…..brownies are so easy to make and these are no different, even though these ones I have given a mouthful of words as a title….but they deserve it, I just could not down play them !  These little gems of decadence came about when I had five snickers bars, 50 grams each, in my chocolate container which is in the fridge (yes, I have a chocolate container, lets not go there, right now…) just crying out and saying ‘eat me’.  Anyway these snickers bars, kind of got forgotten …well, I knew they were there, but I just never got around to doing anything with them.  Then, the day came…I instantly knew what I wanted to bake …brownies of course, but not my usual brownies, I wanted something different…. ” alarm bells “, and then I went delving into the chocolate container, and hauled out the snickers bars.  At first I really didn’t now how or where I was going to fit the snickers into my brownies, I just knew it had to happen, so the Snickers Brownies, really just happened, how they happened, and thankfully they were a success.  I particularly enjoy the layering part, that way there is the chunk from the snickers at the top, the sauce, the gooey-ness of the brownie, more chunks of snickers, more gooey-ness of brownie…I mean, what is not to love !!!!

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Something really important to know is when baking brownies, to rather under cook them, rather than over cook them to cake stage.  This is something I have learnt over the years.  I mean, the over cooked ones still taste great, they come out like a cake, but the under cooked ones just have more character, that is where all the gooey-ness comes into it, I think.  They kind of just melt in your mouth.

Oven temperatures do differ to a degree, but if you know your oven just watch as soon as the time is nearing ‘done’ time.  I usually check to see slight cracking of the brownie at the sides of the dish, then that is my cue that time is up.  The brownies cook whilst cooling, so that too, needs to be taken into consideration.

Now, back to these Triple Chocolate Gooey Chunky Snickers Brownies….I have had to hide them in my freezer, from myself and from the hubby (me mainly…no big surprise there).  They are awesome just brought to room temperature and then heated up in the microwave with a good helping of a good quality vanilla ice cream……yum :-).

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Triple Chocolate Gooey Chunky Snickers Brownies

Preparation time:  10 minutes

Cooking time:  30 – 35 minutes

Total time:  40 – 45 minutes

Makes 9 squares

Ingredients:

160 grams Cadbury’s Bournville Classic Dark Chocolate

100 grams salted butter

250 millilitres (1 cup) castor sugar

125 millilitres (1/2 cup) cake wheat flour

30 millilitres (2 tablespoons) cocoa

2 free-range Jumbo eggs

250 grams Snickers chocolate bars, chopped

For the Chocolate Brownie Sauce:

160 grams Cadbury’s Bournville Classic Dark Chocolate

1/2 cup (125 milllilitres) whipping cream

1 tablespoon crunchy peanut butter or Nutella

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C (150 degrees C Thermo)/320 degrees F.

Grease a pan or oven proof dish approximately  21 x 21 centimeters /8.5 x 8.5 inches in size.  Line this pan with baking paper and grease again to be on the safe side, (allowing extra paper on all sides to help lift the cooked brownies out of the pan when done).

Chop the Cadbury’s Bournville Classic Dark  Chocolate into pieces, and set aside.

Chop the Snickers bars up coarsely  and divide into two bowls and set aside.

Place a medium-sized heat-proof bowl, over a pot of a little simmering water on the stove.  The water must not touch the heat-proof bowl.

Add the chopped dark chocolate and the butter to the heat-proof bowl and allow the chocolate and butter to melt.

Whilst the chocolate is melting, combine the flour, sugar and cocoa powder in a bowl.

Lightly whisk the eggs with a fork.

Once the chocolate has melted, remove the heat-proof dish from the pot and put aside.

Add the melted chocolate and eggs to the flour mixture and stir quickly until just combined with a metal tablespoon.

Now, this is where the layering begins.

Get one half of the chopped snicker bars (the other half we use later) and put these right in front of you.

Get the brownie mixture, and pour half of the brownie mixture into the prepared greased pan.

Then, top the brownie mixture in the pan with one half of the chopped snickers bars.

Spoon the other half of the brownie mixture on top of the chopped snickers bars.

Place in the preheated oven for 30 – 35 minutes.

When you notice a slight ‘cracking’ of the brownie at the sides, generally the brownie is done. Remember, rather have the brownies slightly underdone than cooked properly, that way they will be soft and gooey inside, just the way a brownie should be.

Take the brownies out from the oven and allow to cool in the pan (they too, will cook a bit more whilst cooling)

In the meantime, make the Chocolate Brownie Sauce.  Add the whipping cream to a small pot  and allow to cook very slowly until just before boiling point, then add the chopped Cadbury’s Bournville Classic Dark Chocolate and keep stirring until the chocolate has melted.  Add the tablespoon of Nutella or Peanut butter, and extract and stir until well combined.

Once the brownies have cooled down, top them with the Chocolate Brownie Sauce and scatter the remainder of the chopped snickers bars on top.

Slice into squares and eat !

Enjoy 🙂

 

 

Apple, Pear and Nut Cake

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Many years ago, a friend of mine raved about a particular Pear Cake she had tasted.  Not long afterwards, I discovered amongst my recipes, that I too, had that particular recipe.  Now, for me then, cake was either vanilla or chocolate, a fruit cake, just did not cut it for me.  I really was on the fence about baking it for years, but eventually, my curiosity got the better of me.  Well, I was super impressed, to the point I could not believe I had denied myself the deliciousness of this cake.  It probably was the most moist cake I had ever tasted and the actual pears in the cake were superb.

The first time I made the cake I was slightly worried as the recipe stipulated that the cake would take 1 hour ten minutes to cook, mine took 2 hours and fifteen minutes!  I was stressing thinking the cake would be all dry, (quite the opposite) I then wondered if it was because I had used a silicone bundt cake pan, not that, that would make the difference….but I questioned myself anyway…..So when I made the cake the second time, used a normal bundt cake pan, and the cake still took 2 hours and fifteen minutes!  Again, a perfectly lovely moist cake…

Anyway, I was totally inspired, and from that cake, have created my own version.  Using fresh apples and pears, and poaching them, a bunch of nuts, this cake has become a family favourite.

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Oh, by the way, I found that each time I bake this cake it rises to the extent of being uneven once turned out of the tin.  Grab a sharp knife and trim the cake to make it even and have your own private taste testing… I mean, the baker has to taste the cake ! Its a moment you won’t regret, and no-one needs to know 🙂 🙂 :-).

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Apple, Pear and Nut Cake

Preparation time: 1 hour (including time to poach the apples and pears)

Cooking time: 2 1/4 hours

Total time: 3 hours 15 minutes (time can be reduced if poaching of the apples and pears are done beforehand and refrigerated)

Ingredients:

To poach the apples and pears:

400 grams peeled and cored fresh apples (I used Granny Smith Apples)

400 grams peeled and cored fresh pears

2 cups (500 millilitres) water

1 cup (250 millilitres) sugar

More ingredients for the cake:

300 grams mixed chopped nuts (I used a mixture of almond, pecans and walnuts)

3 cups (750 millilitres) Cake Wheat Flour

2 cups (500 millilitres) white sugar

2 teaspoon (10 millilitres) cinnamon

1 teaspoon (5 millilitres) bicarbonate of soda

1/2 teaspoon (2.5 millilitres) salt

1 1/2 cups (375 millilitres) vegetable oil

3 free-range jumbo eggs

1/2 teaspoon (2.5 millilitres) vanilla extract

Icing Ingredients:

4 teaspoons (20 millilitres) butter

1 cup (250 millilires) icing sugar

1 1/2 tablespoons reserved apple and pear juice

1 tablespoon boiling water

Instructions:

To poach the apples and pears:  In a medium-sized pot, place the chopped apples with two cups of water and a cup of sugar and poach till tender (but not too soft they are falling apart). Once the apples are done, take them out of the pot with a slotted spoon and set aside to cool.

Then add the chopped pears to the reserved water in the medium-sized pot and poach till tender as well.  Once done, remove  the pears with a slotted spoon and set aside.  Do not throw out this water as some of it will be used for the icing of the cake later on.

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C/325 degrees F.

Take out a large-sized mixing bowl, and sieve the flour,  2 cups sugar, cinnamon, bicarbonate of soda and salt together into this bowl.

Then, add the wet ingredients (oil, eggs and extract) to the dry ingredients.

With an electric hand beater, beat all the ingredients for about 4 minutes.  The mixture becomes extremely thick.  I found that the mixture literally was just hugging the hand beater blades, to the point I had to get a knife and ease the mixture off the blades in order for the blades to actually work properly. But it was fine, par for the course….

Then, once the ingredients are nicely combined, its time for ‘the arm workout’.

Fold in the apples, pears and nuts.    This needs to be done well.  The mixture is very stiff, so dig down deep with that metal tablespoon and fold.  Some of the apples and pears will break automatically, but try not mash the apples and pears.

Seriously when you make this cake you can definitely skip going to the gym that day to do arm exercise!

Spoon the mixture into the greased 26 centimeter bundt cake tin.

Place onto a baking tray, just in case the mixture topples over with the rising and put in the preheated oven and enjoy the aroma of the cinnamon filtering through the kitchen.

Bake in the oven for 2 1/4 hours.  (Check with a skewer after 1 hour and 10 minutes and see….I checked every 15 minutes thereafter with the skewer until the cake was done)

Once the cake is done, take it out of the oven and allow it to cool in the cake tin for 5 to 10 minutes. Then release onto a cooling rack.

Whilst the cake is cooling, prepare the icing.

Cream the butter and icing sugar together adding the icing sugar in small batches.  When the mixture gets too dry and the icing sugar is flying around, add 1 1/2 tablespoons of the reserved apple and pear juices and the tablespoon of water.

This does not make a large amount of icing, basically just enough to cover the top.

Scatter some nuts on the top of the icing for decoration.

Enjoy 🙂

NB*  Use a digital scale if possible for accurate measurements.

NB*  If using a silicone bundt cake pan, the cake must cool completely (literally be cold) before it is released from the silicone cake pan, otherwise the cake will fall to pieces.

 

 

 

Chocolate Squares

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I decided on baking a batch of Chocolate Squares today.  I felt like baking something which my brother and I used to thoroughly enjoy as kids, after all, it is his birthday today, so Happy Birthday Robin 🙂 . You are the best brother ever !!! (My brother lives in Connecticut with his beautiful family and they are so far away from me 😦 .  Living in different countries is not fun.)

These Chocolate Squares have been playing on my mind for quite some time. They take me back to my childhood days and memories of my mom baking them for us when my brother and I were still small. This recipe had been given to my mom by our friend and neighbour.  My mom had hand written it, in a little book, and it is this very recipe which I baked for my girls when they were small.  It has been years since I have made them for my family, and not only that, it has been years since I have baked anything remotely like this…(really bad !)

This recipe is not quite like the standard ‘crunchie’ recipe where you use syrup and butter melted to bind the ingredients. There is no syrup in this recipe, and it still binds and holds together when packed tightly, just with the butter.

Once the Chocolate Squares are done and come out of the oven, its important to do the chocolate icing there and then, and then sprinkle with coconut or any other sprinkles you prefer.  Avoid waiting for the Chocolate Squares to get too cold before putting the icing on.  Also, wait for the Chocolate Squares to cool completely before cutting them into squares. (that’s the hard part) These Chocolate Squares are slightly softer than the standard ‘crunchie’ and trust me, they are very very more(ish)….(probably not a good idea for me to have them in the house…)

These Chocolate Squares will last a few days in a sealed container, if they last that long. (FYI…mine are being devoured, as we speak 🙂 )

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Chocolate Squares

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time:  25 minutes

Total time: 40 minutes

Makes approximately   24  Chocolate Squares

Ingredients:

1 cup butter

3 cups uncooked oats

1 1/2 cups  fine grade desiccated coconut

1 cup white loosely packed sugar

1 1/2 cups chocolate wheat free Pronutro *

2 tablespoons cocoa

1 teaspoon baking powder

For the Icing:

2 1/2 cups icing sugar

3 tablespoons cocoa

5-6 tablespoons of boiling water

dash of lemon juice

(some coconut or sprinkles for decoration)

Instructions:

Pre-heat oven to 160 degrees C (Fan oven)

Grease a large baking tray approximately 35 cm x 24 cm/9.5  x 13.5 inches  in size

In a medium sized bowl combine the oats, coconut, sugar, pronutro, cocoa and the baking powder.

Melt the butter, and then stir the melted butter into the dry ingredients.

Stir well to combine, using a wooden spoon.

Then tip mixture into a greased baking tray. *

Press down firmly.  This must be done very firmly, as this will help bind all the ingredients together .

Bake for 25 minutes.

Take out of oven, and with a piece of wax paper covering the chocolate squares, press down again to ensure good binding.  (I used a rolling pin for this, to really press down securely)

If not quite golden brown, return to the oven for an extra 5 minutes.

Once golden brown, remove from the oven.

Prepare for the icing by placing the icing sugar and cocoa together in a bowl.

Add the boiling water and mix thoroughly with either a wooden spoon or metal tablespoon. (The icing should not be watery, but more of a thicker consistency)

Place icing on the cooked mixture and smooth out with the back end of the spoon till it reaches and covers the entire tray.

Decorate with coconut or sprinkles of your choice.

Allow to cool before cutting into squares.

Enjoy 🙂

*  Pronutro is a healthy nutritious breakfast cereal.  It is very common to buy in South Africa.  I believe it is available on some online stores and in South African shops in and around the States.

http://www.africanhut.com/bokomo-foods.asp

http://internationalfoodsonline.com/bokomo-pronutro-original-cereal

http://www.amazon.com/s/?ie=UTF8&keywords=pronutro+cereal&tag

http://www.southafricanfoodshop.com/

(with regards to the Pronutro there are several flavours available.  For this recipe I used chocolate, but the original is equally as nice)

*  I use ‘Spray n’ Cook’ to grease for baking or cooking.  I have found that most butters at times can stick.

 

 

 

Spicy Brownies

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Recently when I was compiling all my recipes which I had collected over the years, I came across Spicy Brownies.  This particular recipe came from a Your Family Magazine dated 2003 !  This recipe absolutely intrigued me, to the point I had to try it.  I personally had never seen a Spicy Brownie recipe before this one, and have never seen one since.

When going over the recipe, the spices didn’t seem too intense and I envisioned a low-key, subtle flavoured brownie.

Well, today was the day.  I finally got around to making them and apart from the brownies being so quick and easy to make, the texture was amazing, soft, squishy and moist, just as a brownie should be and I was right about the flavours. They were subtle, almost fragrant with a delicate hint of the spices and an after taste which was just superb….just so different….

I did bake the brownies in a fan oven.  If you are using a convection oven the temperature should then be 180 degrees C instead of 170 degrees C and then allow to bake for 35/40 minutes, instead of the said 45 minutes. You will know they are done when you notice slight cracking on the top of the brownie mixture.  Remember not to over cook the brownies and also remember that whilst the brownies are out of the oven and cooling in the baking tray, they still are cooking slightly until they have cooled down completely.

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Once the brownies cooled and were cut, I sifted a little icing sugar over the top.  This of course is optional.  These Spicy Brownies are delicious as is, or as a dessert with either cream or ice cream.

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Spicy Brownies

Preparation time:  20 minutes

Cooking Time:  45 minutes

Total time:  1 hour and 5 minutes

Ingredients

200 grams salted butter

300 grams (300 millilitres) Huletts loosely packed brown sugar

3 jumbo free range eggs

150 grams Cadbury’s Bournville Classic Dark Chocolate

50 grams Cadbury’s Milk Chocolate

25 grams (60 millilitres) cocoa powder

100 grams (200 millilitres) Cake Wheat Flour

.60 teaspoon (3 millilitres) ground ginger

.60 teaspoon (3 millilitres) ground all spice

1 teaspoon (5 millilitres) ground cinnamon

Instructions

Preheat Oven 170 degrees C (Fan Oven)/340 degrees F.

Grease and line a baking tin, 18 x 18 centimetres/7.5 x 7.5 inches*

Once all the ingredients have been measured out, set aside in separate bowls.

Sift the flour and spices together, and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, add the butter and sugar.

Using an electric beater, mix the butter and sugar well until the mixture becomes a cream(ish) colour.

Add each egg, separately into the creamed butter and sugar mixture and beat well after each addition with the electric beater.

Now, place a small pot of a little simmering water on the stove.  Set a heat proof bowl on top of the pot. Ensure the simmering water does not touch the heat proof bowl.

Add the chocolate and allow to melt.

Once the chocolate has melted, fold the melted chocolate into the creamed egg mixture with a metal spoon.

Then add the sifted flour and spices to the chocolate creamed mixture and fold with a metal spoon.

Pour the mixture into the lined, greased baking tray and place in the preheated oven at 170 degrees C (fan oven) for 45 minutes/340 degrees F.

Enjoy 🙂

*  I use Spray ‘n Cook for greasing when baking.