Chocolate Spoons

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What goes with winter? Open fires, cosy rooms, woollen coats and chocolate. Always with the chocolate. Hot chocolate to be specific. I’m not a coffee drinker (anymore…wahhh!) and although I don’t mind the occasional herbal tea, my blood-warming drink of choice is hot chocolate. Day to day, I devour a sugar-free brand but for something special – there’s these. The real deal. Chocolate spoons. Simply add to warm milk…

 

Ingredients for Chocolate Spoons

Ingredients for Chocolate Spoons

What You Need:

  • Spoons. While you can use and re-use your finest silver, I bought a pack of cute mini-faux-silver spoons from one of those Super-Cheap shops – 50 spoons for $2. Bargain.
  • Chocolate. As always, the better the quality, the better the result will taste. For dark chocolate in particular, try using one that is at least 75% cocoa. You’ll thank me for it later.
  • Flavours: try adding mini marshmallows, chopped Jersey Caramels, cinnamon or chilli. Be adventurous! Try sea salt flakes (on dark choc) or raspberry dust* (recipe below) My one word of advice is this – think about who you’re making these for. Kids or adults? For my children, I’m more likely to make them with marshmallows, for myself – chilli or raspberry.
  • A chocolate mould. Make sure it’s deep enough to fit a spoon. I used a mini-muffin silicone mould.

 

How to make chocolate spoons...

How to make chocolate spoons…

 

How it’s Done:

Make sure your mould is clean and dry. Melt chocolate in a cup in the microwave, or in a double boiler over the stove. Spoon melted chocolate into moulds, tapping gently to get rid of any air bubbles. Add the spoon and flavours before chocolate sets completely. Leave for at least twenty to thirty minutes, pop out of mould gently.

 

Hot Chocolate, Chocolate Spoons with Raspberry

Hot Chocolate, Chocolate Spoons with Raspberry

To Serve:

Heat milk in either a saucepan over low heat – don’t let it quite come to the boil – or in the microwave. Serve in a large cup or mug, add chocolate spoon and stir until chocolate has dissolved. Yummo! Chocolate spoons are also great bunched together and tied with ribbon for a simple gift idea. Try finding delicate vintage spoons at your local second hand shop or market, playing around with mould shapes and sizes…the ideas are endless.

 

Dark Chocoate and Raspberry Dust Chocolate Spoon

Dark Chocoate and Raspberry Dust Chocolate Spoon

*Raspberry Dust Recipe

A handful of fresh raspberries, washed, dried and thrown into the dehydrator for about 5 hours on high. They won’t develop a crunchy texture, more like a fruit leather. Once dried, place the fruit into a snap lock bag, and into the freezer. Once frozen – but still in the bag – smash gently with the back of a knife of small hammer.

Voila! Raspberry Dust!

Store in an airtight container in the pantry. Use sprinkled on ice cream, meringues, biscuits or even warm Camembert cheese.

Chilli Chocolate Spoons

Chilli Chocolate Spoons

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Home Made Chocolate Creme Eggs

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It’s almost Easter! Just a few more days until the Easter Bunny is due to deliver the goods. And when you’re six years old, this is a Very Big Deal indeed. Such a big deal in fact, that the six year old living at my place has been counting down the days since…well, December 25th came and went. My kids are also currently on school holidays, so to help keep Mr 6 amused (and yeah, maybe to keep the Bunny-ache at bay…), we’ve been making all sorts of Easter Yummies. First up, the mandy wrangles version of that oh-so-amazing-gooey-chocolately-fondantey-goodness in a ball – the Cadbury Creme Egg.

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Gooey Easter Goodness

 

What You Need:

Egg shaped chocolate moulds. Mine are plain, but you could use patterned ones.

Milk chocolate melts.

White fondant, available from all cake decorating shops, some supermarkets and online.

Yellow food colouring.

Vanilla essence.

A clean paintbrush.

Brushing chocolate up the sides of the egg moulds.

Brushing chocolate up the sides of the egg moulds.

 

Using a spatula, spread melted chocolate as smoothly as possible across the back.

Using a spatula, spread melted chocolate as smoothly as possible across the back.

How It’s Done:

Make sure your moulds are clean and completely dry. Remember: when working with chocolate, moisture is your enemy. Melt milk chocolate using your favourite method, whether it be a small amount at a time in the microwave, over the stovetop using the double boiler method, or like me, using a cheap little fondue set. Once your chocolate is melted, you need to work fairly quickly. Place a small teaspoon full into each chocolate shape. Now, you need these eggs to be hollow, so don’t over-fill. Using your paintbrush, brush the chocolate right up the sides of the mould before moving on to the next egg shape. Once all egg shapes have been chocolatised (yes, that is totally a word. Now.) put aside to set at room temperature.

Chocolate shells with fondant.

Chocolate shells with fondant.

 

While your chocolate egg shells are setting, take a couple of tablespoons of the white fondant and add some vanilla to taste and a few drops of yellow food colouring. The vanilla flavour won’t give you the exact flavour of the Cadbury kind, but it’s pretty darn yummy. Technically, you could use any flavour – in fact I’ve been considering making up some zombie easter eggs with green or blue insides flavoured with blueberry or mint…but that could be an entirely different blog post…

Once your shells are set, spoon a teaspoon of white fondant into each. Then repeat with a smaller amount of yellow fondant in the centre. Melt up some more chocolate and smear over the top of your shells, trying not to make too much mess of your fondant. Smooth off the top with a flat knife or spatula, as in my pic.

 

Once the egg halves are completely set (don’t rush them), they will pop out of the moulds with a small tap. Then, with a little more chocolate dabbed onto the back, join two halves together to make a whole. See…so easy a six year old could do it!

 

See? So easy a six year old can do it.

See? So easy a six year old can do it.

 

 

 

Home Made Strawberry Icecream

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I’ve mentioned before that we have a glut of strawberries happening at our place this year. I’ve been growing them in pots for 3 or 4 years, and a good day’s picking would mean half a dozen, maybe more, and gobbled up within minutes of reaching the kitchen. If they reached the kitchen.  This year, we built a dedicated strawberry patch. I split a couple of the plants I already had, and planted about six more from my local nursery, in the hope that I’d have enough for jam in a next year or two. Wow, did I underestimated the fruiting ability of a happy strawberry! Still not getting enough in one day for that illusive batch of jam – but there’s been plenty of other recipes made. Including this one – possibly my favourite:

strawberry ice cream 3

Strawberry ice cream cone!

Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream

In the past, I’ve used a basic vanilla base without eggs for my strawberry ice cream. Since I have so many strawbs to play with this time around, I figured why not go for a traditional ice cream base using eggs (did I mention we also have a permanent glut of eggs, kindly laid daily by our eight backyard chickens?)

What You Need:

  • 3 cups of fresh strawberries, hulled and chopped roughly into quarters. Put aside 1/2 cup to add to ice cream later.
  • 1 ¾ cups of caster sugar. This will be divided into 2 lots – 1 cup for the strawberry sauce, ¾ cup for the ice cream base.
  • 2 eggs.
  • 3 cups of heavy cream.
  • Juice of one lemon.
Stawberry icecream_1

Home grown strawberries

How It’s Done:

Add 2 ½ cups of chopped strawberries, 1 cup of sugar and the lemon juice to a medium saucepan. On a low heat, cook until the mix resembles a slightly chunky sauce and sugar is dissolved. It’s okay to bring it to a simmer, but try not to boil. This step will take around 20 minutes. Make sure you stir frequently. Allow to cool and then refrigerate.

For the ice cream base, using an electric mixer, whisk the eggs for a couple of minutes until they become light and fluffy. Whisk in the ¾ cup of sugar a little at a time until completely combined. Then add the cream and whisk until blended. Here’s a secret – even though this mix will be at room temperature, chill it for an hour. Your ice cream machine will be so much happier you took the time to do so.

strawberry ice cream 2

Strawberry ice cream

Once both mixtures are sufficiently chilled, begin churning the egg mix according to your machine’s instructions. I use an ice cream add-on to my KitchenAid machine, but there’s plenty of dedicated ice cream makers out there, ranging in price from hundreds of dollars right down to $30. The trick is to keep the bowl in your freezer so that at any time you need it, it’s fully frozen. My machine will produce soft-serve ice cream in around 25 minutes, so I churn the egg mixture alone for half that time, and then while the machine is still running, add the strawberry mix. Once the required consistency is reached, add the reserved chopped strawberries and continue churning for a further minute or two. You can either eat now, or pour into a sealable, freezer-happy container for a further two to three hours, which will give you a great, scoopable consistency.

Be warned…you will never, ever bother to buy commercial strawberry ice cream again. The difference is AMAZING.

*best eaten within four days, due to the raw egg factor of this recipe. That’s if it lasts that long…

The Piece de Resistance!

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Okay, so we have our three recipes together, right? No? Well then, check these links –

For the Easy-Peesy Chocolate Brownie, click here.

For the Honeycomb, click here.

And for the Dark Chocolate Mud Ice Cream, click here.

Now we have all the recipes in order, if you’ve managed to keep the end results away from sticky fingers, it’s time to put them all together for something a bit special. Just like the three previous recipes, this one is way easier than it looks. Plus, no new ingredients! It’s just a matter of plating up.

super dessert 3 in 1_web 2

Three desserts in one make something special!

What You Need:

Homemade Chocolate Brownies, still in the pan, cooled but unsliced.

Homemade Honeycomb. Crushed.

Homemade Dark Chocolate Mud ice cream that has been set in a slice tray.

A round cookie cutter, aprox 7cm.

A round cookie cutter, aprox 4cm.

To serve, I added golden syrup and a commercial chocolate sauce.

How It’s Done:

After all that hard work, this is the fun bit! Using your cookie cutter, cut a circular shape from your brownies. My brownies were quite thick, so I cut it in half width-wise, but if yours are thinner, cut two circles. Cut one circle from your set ice cream – make sure it’s the same size and your brownies. Place one brownie on the plate, the ice cream directly on top of it, and then another brownie piece. You need to work quickly and carefully at this point. Then, using a smaller round cookie cutter – or a small ice cream scoop – cut another two discs of ice cream. Place one flat on top, the other sitting on an angle. Then, crumble honeycomb pieces over the top and a few more on the side of the dish for garnish. I added a quick swirl of golden syrup and chocolate sauce too.

*Experiment! Just because I’ve used round shapes here, doesn’t mean you can’t cut squares, heart shapes or anything else. And, if you’re taking your dessert directly to the table, a warmed chocolate sauce would be DELISH.

Super Dessert

Dark chocolate ice-cream with brownie and honeycomb

Chocolate Mud Icecream

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I’ve desperately wanted to learn how to make my own ice cream for years. A lack of an ice cream maker put that on hold for a while, though. I tried the (very good) method of buying top quality commercial ice cream and adding special ingredients for dinner parties, but it wasn’t quite the same as making from scratch. Luckily for me, last year for a (ahem) ‘special age’ birthday, my lovely parents-in-law gave me a KitchenAid mixer a gift. I’ll go into all the thousands of reasons I love my Kitchenaid another day, but I will say one of those reasons is ICE CREAM MAKER ATTACHMENT.

choc mud icecream 2

The ingredients

No, you don’t need a KitchenAid to make ice cream. You don’t even need an expensive ice cream maker. I’ve seen them on special for as little as $30. Keep an eye out at those sales. They’re a handy little toy to have in the kitchen. I will be adding a couple of posts in the near future that go into more detail so far as ice cream making is concerned, including recipes that don’t always need a specialty machine.

This recipe is a Mandy-altered version of one that came courtesy of KitchenAid. It’s delicious. And full-on. The richest, most decadent chocolate ice cream you’re ever likely to spoil yourself with. And it’s far easier to make than you might imagine…

choc mud icecream 3

The Mixture

What You Need:

  • 600ml of thickened cream
  • 300ml full-fat milk (sorry, but there’s just no point going skim when you’re doing this one…)
  • 300g of best quality dark cooking chocolate, roughly chopped. Best quality means best quality. You need a minimum of 60% cocoa. Trust me on this. I’ve tried to cheat. It doesn’t work. At all.
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract. In a perfect world, this means pure vanilla extract. I didn’t have that this time, so used the artificial stuff.
  • 4 egg yolks.
  • 155 grams of caster sugar.
choc mud icecream 4

Churn it!

I’ve made this dozens of times now, and except for the time I used cheap chocolate buds, it’s never failed me. The one thing I always do before beginning is to have all my ingredients ready and lined up on the bench. That means sugar weighed, eggs separated.

Step One: Place cream, milk and chocolate into a large metal bowl over a saucepan containing simmering water. Be really careful not to let any water or steam come into contact with your chocolate or it will seize. Cook cream, milk and chocolate over a low heat, stirring occasionally until it comes together as a smooth mixture.

Step Two: I use a wire whisk on my Kitchenaid for this step, but you could use any electric mixer. Place the chocolate mixture into a large bowl and allow to cool for about 10 minutes. On a low-medium speed, begin to mix. Add the vanilla, egg yolks (one at a time) and sugar. Once all ingredients are added, mix for one further minute. Remove the mixture and place in the refrigerator to chill for around half an hour. I’ve been known to leave it at this step overnight.

Step Three: The churning bit. With most ice cream makers, there’s a special bowl that needs to be frozen to use. The principal is that they’re hollow and filled with a liquid that freezes solid. I keep mine in the freezer all the time it’s not in use. That way, it’s ready when I need it, rather than having to think 24 hours in advance. The most common mistake when making homemade ice cream is not having this bowl sufficiently frozen.

I try to make sure my chilled chocolate mixture is in a bowl that’s easy to pour from, just to try and cut down on the mess factor. Following your ice cream maker’s instructions, turn the machine on and slowly pour in the chocolate mix. Churn for around 25 or 30 minutes – obviously this will vary between machines. The KitchenAid starts to make a ‘clicking’ noise as the ice cream rises up the paddle, letting you know when it’s ready. At this point, your ice cream will be more like a soft serve than anything you can scoop, so it really needs to go back in the freezer – covered – for about two hours. For the recipe I’m making later in the week, I froze mine in a square slice tin.

Enjoy with strawberries, raspberries or simple whipped cream.

*It’s important to eat your chocolate ice cream within four days due to the raw egg factor.

choc mud icecream 1

Serve with a wafer

Honeycomb

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Fun Fact #1 – There’s no actual honey in honeycomb. Well, not in this version anyway.

Fun Fact #2 – Cooking is science. And what better way to prove it to your kids than watching honeycomb fizz and puff and grow to triple its size?

Fun Fact #3 – Honeycomb is crazy-easy to make.

Fun Fact #4 – Honeycomb isn’t just for kids…

So, Honeycomb is number two in this series of little recipes that will fit together to make one seriously impressive dessert. In the meantime, why not have a trial run?

Honeycomb 1

Hubble, bubble …

What You Need:

4 tablespoons of Golden Syrup

1 cup of Caster Sugar

2 teaspoons of Bicarb Soda

Honeycomb 2

Cool the honeycomb

How It’s Done:

Grease a slice or cake tray and set aside.

Add golden syrup and sugar to a large saucepan and bring to the boil. As soon as it’s boiling, turn the heat down to a low simmer for about 10 to 12 minutes – but stand by to make sure it doesn’t burn. When you think it’s time, add a drop of the syrup into a glass of water. If it is ready, it will become brittle as soon as it hits the water.

Remove pot from the heat, and place close to your prepared pan on the bench. Add the bicarb and stir vigorously. It’s important to work fast at this point, because the mixture will foam up instantly and you need to get it into that cake tray as soon as possible. Leave at room temperature to set, then break into bit sized pieces. Delish!

Honeycomb 3

Delish alright!

Easy Peesy Chocolate Brownies

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Okay, so I’m going to try something a little different over the next week or two. It occurred to me that most of those amazing dessert recipes you find are really just a few simple recipes thrown together. So let’s do just that. I’m going to give you recipes for three sweet, simple goodies and at the end, put them all together for something special.

First up, we have ridiculously easy, and oh-so-chocolatey Brownies.

Choc brownies 1

Chocolate Brownies!

What You Need:

  • 1 ¼ cups of butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 ½ cups of plain flour
  • ½ teaspoon of baking powder
  • 2 cups of caster sugar
  • 2 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 1 cup of cocoa (use the best quality you can)
Exploded Mixer

Messy Mandy!

How It’s Done:

Pre-heat oven to 170 degrees C. Melt the butter in the microwave, being careful not to burn. Add to a large mixing bowl – I used my electric mixer with a stir attachment, but these could just as easily be done by hand, probably with less mess (see pic below!). Add cocoa, then sugar and eggs – one at a time. If using an electric mixer, give a quick blitz for a few seconds between each addition. Stir in the flour. If you are using an electric mixer, remember to use the spill guard, or, like me you’ll end up with flour everywhere.

Bake for aprox. 30 minutes in a greased slice tin – I used a pan about 15cm by 25cm. Remember, brownies don’t spring back quite like a cake when tested, so be careful not to overcook. Allow to cool on a rack for 20 minutes, then slice and serve…although they’re pretty delicious served warm!

I served mine with a sprinkling of icing sugar, strawberries from my garden and a little chocolate sauce.

Boys and bowls

My boys!