Wild Things Hedgehog

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There are four Wild Things living at my house. And that’s not counting my dogs. My Wild Things are all two-legged males, and all have bottomless pits for stomachs. They each eat around five meals a day and that’s not including snacks. Or dessert. Yes, they could easily be mistaken for Hobbits, except they’re bigger and their feet aren’t quite as hairy. So what keeps my Wild Things happy and satisfied? Hedgehog. It’s cheap, quick, chocolatey (and therefore yummy) and very, very easy.

Hedgehog

Hedgehog for Wild Things

125 grams of butter

½ cup caster sugar

1 packet of Marie biscuits

100 grams of walnuts, chopped

½ cup cocoa

1 egg, beaten with a fork.

How It’s Done:

Crush biscuits in a blender, leaving some chunky bits. Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Combine butter and sugar in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat in microwave until butter is melted and sugar is dissolved. You might need to pause the microwave and stir the mix a couple of times. Pour butter mixture over biscuits, cocoa and about half the walnut pieces. Mix, cool for five minutes and then add the beaten egg and mix.

Press into a greased slice tin and refrigerate for an hour.

For the icing, add 2 tablespoons of butter and 200 grams of dark chocolate to a heavy-based saucepan. Melt over low heat, and then add 2 cups of sifted icing sugar. If the icing gets too thick, add a dash of hot water. Smooth over hedgehog and sprinkle with remaining walnuts. Refrigerate and then slice into pieces. Store in the fridge.

**Note: the hedgehog slice in this photo was made with double the recipe amounts shown here, as well as two different brands of cocoa, which is what gives it the striped appearance.

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Kale Chips

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Okay, so we all know Kale has been named the new uber-food. It has just about everything good vitamin and mineral known to man crammed into those weird-looking curly leaves. But, let’s face it, it’s kind of bitter just boiled up on the side of your plate. And just how many green smoothies can you drink? Kale chips are huge at my place. Everyone – and I mean everyone – loves them. And they couldn’t be easier to make.

Kale

Kale

*A bunch or good handful of kale leaves. I grew my own this year (yes! That’s my real veggie patch in the pic!) and I’ve just been trimming leaves off as I need them. But it is also readily available in the local supermarket or green grocer’s.

*A tablespoon of olive oil.

*Sea salt.

*Lemon.

*A tablespoon of white vinegar (optional)

*Pepper or other spices, eg: garlic powder, chilli, paprika (optional)

Kale Chips

Kale Chips

Wash and pat dry your kale leaves. Using scissors, cut any thick white stem out, just leaving the greenery. Trim to bite-size. In a large bowl, toss the kale with the olive oil and salt to taste. This is where I like to add the vinegar and some cracked pepper. Salt and vinegar chips, anyone?

On a lined baking tray, place the kale pieces flat, without overlapping each other. Cook in a low oven (120 degrees C) for 10 minutes. Be really careful, because they WILL burn quickly. You’ll be amazed at how crispy a vegetable can be in such a short time. Serve with a drizzle of lemon juice and more pepper, if desired.

Malteser Cake

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The Malteser Cake is perfect if you’re after a treat that will knock everyone’s socks off. Not only does it look super-impressive, but it’s delish!

It does come with a warning though – it’s not for the faint-hearted. This one is seriously sweet and chocolately; even for seasoned chocolate addicts, any more than a sliver might just have you jumping sky-scrapers.

What you’ll need:

150g of softened butter

250g of caster (superfine) sugar

150g of self-raising flour

125g of sour cream

4 eggs

50g of cocoa powder

1tsp of baking powder

a pinch of salt

a few drops of vanilla essence or extract

How it’s done:

Pre-heat your oven to 160 degrees C.  Grease and line 2 x 20cm round cake tins with baking paper. I actually doubled this recipe and made four. Because, you know – more impressive. This recipe works best if you have an electric mixer of some sort, or really big muscles. I used a mixer.

Mix together the butter, caster sugar, flour and sour cream. Then add the eggs (one at a time), cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Finally, add the vanilla.

Divide the mixture evenly between your cake tins, smooth the tops with a spatula and cook for about 30 mins, or until a skewer stuck into the middle comes out clean. Let them cool for a couple of minutes before turning out (carefully!) onto a wire tray to cool completely.

Marble cake 2

Malteser Cake

Buttercream Icing:

100g of dark chocolate, melted (you can either do this in the microwave in a bowl over simmering water. I find the microwave method a bit hit and miss – it’s easy to burn or ‘seize’ the chocolate)

550g of icing sugar

250g softened butter

2 tbs of milk

Mix together your icing sugar, butter and milk until they’re light and fluffy. Then add the chocolate and mix again.

Now for the fun bit!

Smother each layer of cake with buttercream (again, I doubled this recipe) and squish gently together. Then cover the whole thing with even more chocolately buttercream, paying extra attention the edges of the cake. Once it’s totally covered, you’ll need about 600 to 700 grams of Maltesers. Start at the bottom of the cake, in the middle and place the Maltezers over the cake in a straight vertical line. Use that as a guide to covering the entire cake.

Ta-Daaa!

Marshamallow and Rasberry Cupcakes

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Super cute and super sweet, these vanilla and raspberry cupcakes are topped with a home-made marshmallow that’s ridiculously easy to make (and soooo yummy!). Perfect for a girly afternoon tea or Sweet 16th Birthday Party, they look fantastic grouped together on the table or a cupcake stand. ~Mandy Wrangles

RC_finished

Marshmallow and Rasberry Cupcakes

First up, we’ll start with the marshmallows.

What you’ll need:

3 cups of sugar

2 tablespoons of gelatine

1 and a half cups of boiling water.

Vanilla essence

Food colouring

How it’s done:

Dissolve the gelatine into a bowl with the boiling water. You might have to help it melt by squishing with the back of a spoon.

RC_mixing bowl

Egg White

In a large bowl, place the three cups of sugar. Add the water/gelatine mix to it and beat with an electric mixer until the mix is thick and creamy and the sugar is dissolved.

And after about 5 minutes, looks like this! Magic!

It’s at this stage that you can add flavourings and colour. For this recipe, I used vanilla and a few drops of pink colouring to half the mix. Working fairly fast, spoon mixture into a piping bag with a wide round nozzle – be careful because it sets quickly and can be a bit sticky and messy! Onto a tray lined with baking paper, pipe coils of marshmallow.

Refrigerate for at least a couple of hours, or until cupcakes are baked and cooled.

Now, onto the cupcakes. This recipe makes around 24 cakes.

What you’ll need:

200g softened, unsalted butter

1 teaspoon of vanilla essence

1 cup of caster (superfine) sugar

2 and a half cups of self-raising flour

1 cup of milk

3 eggs

1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries, mashed with the back of a spoon (I used frozen)

Vanilla buttercream icing. (You can make your own, but I’m all for cheating, so used a commercial brand – Betty Crocker)

RC_cooked but no mallow

Naked Cupcakes!

Preheat your oven to 175 degrees C. Line a muffin or cupcake tin with cases, or, you can use the self-structured ones shown in the pics. I like these because you can bake lots more at a time. My trays fit 25 cases.

With an electric mixer, whip the butter, sugar and vanilla until its light and fluffy. Then add your eggs, one at a time. The mixture can go a bit curdly at this stage, but don’t worry, it’ll all come back together. Then add half the flour, half the milk. Then more flour, more milk and keep mixing until it’s all combined. Add a couple of spoons of the mashed raspberries and give another quick mix – but only enough to swirl the raspberries in.

RC_finsihed_further away

Marshmallow and Rasberry Cupcakes

Fill your cupcake cases to about halfway. Add some more raspberry chunks if desired. This is a fairly thick and heavy mixture, so give the tops a bit of a smooth over. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until a skewer stuck in the middle comes out clean. Cool completely before decorating. (pic of cooked, undecorated cakes?)

Once cakes are cool, pull your marshmallows out of the fridge and roll them in icing sugar, or a mix of icing sugar and coloured decorator sugar. Try not to eat toomany before they go on the cakes! With a piping bag and the same large nozzle as used earlier, pipe a round circle of vanilla buttercream around the edge of the cake. Add your marshmallow on top, and you’re done!

Hint: When making cupcakes for a special occasion, I find it really effective to use cupcake cases that match your colour theme, or, as you can see in these pics, two slightly different cases. It’ll make all the difference for the table display.

Chocolate Mud and Oreo Cupcakes

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Oh, my. Chocolate on chocolate on chocolate. And cookies! This was a new recipe I tried out just over the weekend, and it’s pretty safe to say I’ll be making these cupcakes again, especially if my kids have any say in it… ~Mandy Wrangles

CMOC_finished_front and back

Chocolate Mud and Oreo Cupcakes

About 24 cupcake cases

200g of chopped butter

160g dark cooking chocolate. I used Cadbury melts brand.

A quarter of a cup of water

2 tbs cocoa powder

1 tbs instant coffee

1 tsp vanilla essence

1 cup caster (superfine) sugar

3 eggs (best if they’re room temperature)

Three-quarters of a cup of sifted, Self Raising flour

CMOC_mixture

Yummy Mixture!

Pre heat your oven to 150 C, and set out the cupcake cases.

In a small saucepan, over low heat, melt together the butter, chocolate, cocoa, coffee and vanilla. Use a whisk to bring it together until it’s smooth. Don’t let the mixture boil. Remove from heat and let it cool for 15 minutes.

While your chocolate mix is cooling, use electric beaters to mix together the sugar and eggs until they’re pale and creamy. Then add the chocolate mixture, a little at a time. Once it’s all combined, add the flour slowly and mix.

Pour the mixture to fill the cupcake cases to just over halfway and bake for aprox. 30 minutes. This will vary from oven to oven. The best way to tell if your mudcakes are done is to insert a skewer into the middle of one of the cakes. If it comes out clean – you’re done.

Remove from the oven and let cupcakes cool completely before decorating.

CMOC_pair on plate

Decorated with Oreos

Vanilla buttercream mixture

Chocolate buttercream mixture (yes, you can make your own, but the commercial brands are delicious and make life SO much easier. I use the Betty Crocker brand. Whoever said it wasn’t okay to cheat in the kitchen?)

Pack of miniature ‘Oreo’ cookies.

Piping bag and large ‘star’ nozzle.

Bring vanilla buttercream to room temperature.

Put aside two Oreo cookies for each cake, and add the left overs to a small snap-lock plastic bag. Seal the bag and smash the cookies with a rolling pin until they’re a fine grain. You can use a blender to do this, but it’s way more fun to smash stuff! Make sure the grains of cookie are small enough that they won’t clog your piping nozzle. Mix the cookie grains through the vanilla buttercream and pop in the fridge for 5 or 10 mins.

While the vanilla and cookie buttercream chills, add the chocolate buttercream to your icing bag and pipe a ‘base’ of chocolate over the entire cake. Once they’re all done, remove the vanilla/cookie flavour from the fridge and pipe a small swirl on top, adding the saved Oreo cookies for garnish.

Mrs Hartney’s Scones

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I come from a long line of home cooks. My Nanna ran a private girl’s school canteen and then a regional Cole’s cafeteria. Her daughter (my Mum) was a Home Economics teacher in a special needs school for almost thirty years. I thought this week, I’d share some of their favourite recipes with you. We’ll start with Mum’s seriously simple scones.

scones

Mrs Hartney’s Scones

2 ½ cups of Self-raising flour

1tsp of baking powder

2 tbs of butter

1 egg (whipped slightly with a fork)

Milk

Jam and whipped cream to serve

How it’s done:

Pre heat oven to 180 degrees C.

Mum would tell you to add the butter, flour and baking powder to a large bowl and rub the butter into the flour with your fingers until it resembled breadcrumbs. I’m lazier than her (and have this icky thing about food under my fingernails…) so I just throw it in the food processor and blitz for a few seconds. Same result. Then add the egg  to the mixture, still blitzing for a few seconds at a time, then add just enough milk to form a dough – usually around half a cup.

On a floured surface, roll your dough out until it’s about 1cm thick, and using a round cutter (an upturned glass works well, too) cut your scones out. Place them fairly close together on a greased or lined baking tray. Placing them closely helps them to rise apparently, but that could be an old wive’s tale!

Brush the tops with a little milk, and bake for 10 to 12 minutes – until the tops have turned a light golden brown.

Serve warm with whipped cream and raspberry or strawberry jam.

Big Cheat’s Chocolate Box

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It’s no secret I love baking. The satisfaction of making a cake from scratch is awesome. But, let’s face it, sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day, or ingredients in the pantry to do that. This week, a very special member of my family turned 13, and I needed a cake big enough to feed at least fifteen people – plus leftovers, because chocolate cake is even better the next day. I was also seriously stuck for time and inspiration. So, I cheated and here’s how:


CCBox_ingredientsWhat you need:

*3 packets of ‘White Wings’ brand Rich Chocolate Cake (or similar – but not mud cake because melting chocolate over a saucepan of water etc is not for cheats). These packets required adding softened butter and 2 eggs each – so 6 eggs all together.

*1 Betty Crocker brand Milk Chocolate Frosting. I love this stuff, and use it even when I’m not cheating.

*Aprox 40 miniature Kit Kat chocolates (buy the multi packs)

*Various packets of chocolates. I used: Freckles, Ferrero Rochers, Jaffas, Miniature Oreo Cookies (again, cheaper in the multi packs), Smarties or M&M’s, Maltesers and Chocolate Finger buscuits.

*Ribbon.


How it’s done:

I used a rectangular cake tin 22cm x 28cm and 7cm deep. Grease and line the tin with baking paper, set your oven to the instructions on your cake mix. Make and bake cake as directed – allowing for extra baking time because you’re using 3 cake mixes. Mine took almost 2 hours to bake.

CCBAllow cake to cool COMPLETELY on wire rack. Seriously, give it an hour or two or you’ll regret it later when all your chocolate decorations fall off. Trim the top of your cake so it’s perfectly flat.

Smother the whole thing with the chocolate frosting. Using a little extra frosting for glue, surround the outside of your cake with Kit Kats as a border. Use the ribbon to tie around the Kit Kats, not only does this give the cake a little bit of extra wow, but it helps keeps those suckers from falling off! Use the chocolate finger biscuits to divide up sections – making sure each section is wide enough for whatever you decide to put in them eg: I measured using the Ferrero Rochers and the Oreos. Fill your sections with plenty of yummy chocolate goodness, bearing in mind contrasting colours etc.

That’s it. Done. So easy, so quick (except for baking time). And such a show-stopper!