Alice’s Wonderland Cake Pops

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It’s no secret I’m a huge fan of the humble cake pop. My recipe is a no-bake-no-brainer, and I’ve blogged it a couple of times before. At my niece Alice’s, recent first birthday party, I made a trio of flavoured marshmallows – raspberry, blueberry and pineapple flavoured. To go with them, I made matching cake pops, patterned with pink, blue and yellow. They were the simplest I’ve made yet.

 

Write or make patterns with Candy Writers

Write or make patterns with Candy Writers

What You Need:

*3 packets of Arnott’s Tim Tam biscuits (for those of you not in Australia and unable to get your hands on the mostamazingbiscuitintheworld, you can replace them with Oreos. Apparently.

*240 grams of Cream Cheese – this works out to 80g per pack of Tim Tams if you need to expand or decrease these amounts.

*Cake pop / lollypop sticks, available from cake decorating shops or online.

*2 packets of dark chocolate buds for melting.

*Candy Writers (actually chocolate in a tube) in various colours.

 

Cake Pops

Cake Pops

How it’s Done:

Add the Tim Tams and Cream Cheese to a blender and blitz until well combined. Using a heaped teaspoon for measurement, roll balls of mixture and place on a tray lined with baking paper. Refrigerate for half an hour.

Melt a small amount of chocolate in a cup (I use the microwave). Dip the end of a cake pop stick into the chocolate, and push into a Tim Tam ball. Allow to set in the fridge for another 20 minutes.

Melt more chocolate in a small but deep container. Dip each cake pop into the chocolate, submerging it completely. Place upside down on the tray lined with baking paper again, forming a flat side on the pops. Once the chocolate is set, decorate with the Candy Writers. Now, these aren’t candy as we know it in Australia. They’re coloured white chocolate with a few extras added in, but perfect for this type of thing. In a cup or mug, add really hot (but not boiling) water. Add the tube of ‘candy’, and wait 5 minutes for it to begin to melt. Massage and roll the tube in your hands before adding it back to the hot water for a few minutes. This enables to chocolate to melt evenly. Snip the top of the tube, and add any sort of pattern you like to the flat top of your cake pops. I found spirals and zig-zags were a quick and effective way to go.

As I’ve done before, I served the finished cake pops bunched in a simple glass tumbler. Totally irresistible!

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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.

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.

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!

3 Ingredient Chocolate Fudge Cake

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I made this wicked chocolate fudge for the first time over the weekend. To be honest, I’m almost wishing it wasn’t so easy – because it’s seriously smooth, creamy and very, very decadent.

3 ingred. fudge cake

Chocolate Fudge Cake

A 385ml can of condensed milk.

50 grams of butter, chopped into cubes

400 grams of dark chocolate, cut finely.

How it’s done:

Grease and line a slice tin – I used an 18cm x 18cm square tin. Over a LOW heat, combine butter and condensed milk in a medium saucepan. Stir continuously to stop it burning and sticking to the bottom of the saucepan. Once the butter has melted, add your chocolate and keep stirring until it’s melted. It does get quite thick at this point, so bring your muscles!

Pour into the prepared tin, smooth the top, refrigerate for one to two hours and cut into serving size squares. And THAT’S IT! It will keep for up to 5 days in an airtight container – if it doesn’t get eaten before then.

** I did find this recipe to be a little on the rich side (but it could be just perfect for you!) so next time I might try using milk chocolate. Or white chocolate. Or maybe using one of those fancy flavoured chocolates, like salt or chilli. I might try mixing in some nuts and marshmallows for rocky road, or some jelly lollies or, or…

Let me know if you come up with any more ideas!

Chocolate Lasagne

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(aka The Lasagne Saga)

 

Mandy Wrangles_2_tnSo, one thing I’ve learned since writing up these recipes for Escape Club is that you guys tend to like the super rich and decadent chocolately ones the best. So when a friend suggested over Facebook (*waves to Deb*) that I give Chocolate Lasagne a go – who was I to refuse? There’s heaps of recipes out there online, but I decided to go with my own invention. The only tip I stole was to use instant pudding for some of the layers… read on and you’ll see how that went!

So hopefully, with all my trial and error, I’ve saved you the drama, and even though this is a time consuming dessert to make (that time is chilling between layers, not actual work), it’s really simple when broken down into steps.

Choc Lasagne_1Preparation:

Grease and line a tin with baking paper. Be careful with this step, and make sure you’ve lined the tin well. I used a cake tin measuring 22cm x 28cm and 7cm deep. You don’t need to make yours as mammoth as mine, but do make sure your tin is deep enough for all the different layers.

1st Layer is Dark Chocolate Fudge:

Melt 50g of butter with a 395g tin of condensed milk. Stir constantly over a low heat – you can’t leave it or you’ll burn the pot. Once the butter and condensed milk are combined, add 400g of finely chopped dark chocolate. Continue stirring until all combined and thick. Then carefully spoon the mixture into the bottom of your prepared pan, making it as level as possible. I added sliced ‘Chomp’ chocolate bars sprinkled on top for texture. Chill in fridge while you prepare the next layer.

Choc lasagne_22nd Layer:

Is marshmallow! Add 2 tablespoons of gelatine to 1 ½ cups of boiling water. Stir until combined. Place 3 cups of sugar in a large mixing bowl, and add the dissolved gelatine mix. Mix with an electric beater for at least 5 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add a couple of drops of vanilla essence, and mix for another couple of seconds. If you wanted to add some colour, now is the time to do that, too. Spread carefully over the top of your chilled chocolate fudge and chill again. You’ll most likely have waaay too much marshmallow, so use your leftovers by spooning into a greased cake tin (you’ll use it another layer).

choc lasagne_33rd  Layer:

Is caramel. Now, I’d planned to cheat here and use the tinned version, but didn’t have enough. So I made my own like this: Add 200g of butter to 200g of brown sugar in a small saucepan. Heat slowly and stir constantly until they combine to a smooth paste. Then, add a 395g tin of condensed milk and keep stirring for about 5 minutes, but don’t allow the mix to bubble. Cool at room temperature for about half an hour (or if you’re impatient like, me – 10 mins in the fridge). It’s important your caramel is cool so it doesn’t melt the marshmallow when you spread it over the top.

4th Layer:

So, this is where my problems started. I’ll spare you the details, but let’s just say I tried using instant chocolate pudding. It was a disaster and I had to scrape it off the caramel (which I’d allowed to set well, thank goodness) and start again. I started with about a cup and a half of leftover marshmallow, to 2 tablespoons of butter. Melt together in a medium saucepan over low heat. Once combined, add 2 tablespoons of cocoa and continue stirring. Pour mixture over 4 cups of Coco-pops, and mix really well until the Coco-pops are covered. Press firmly into your tin with the back of a spoon, over the top of the caramel layer. Then, just because too much chocolate is never enough, I sprinkled white chocolate buds over the top.


choc lasagne5th Layer:

Now, when I make this again, I’ll probably leave this layer out, but it’s up to you how much is enough, or how rich you like your decadent desserts. I added a thin layer ofmilk chocolate ganache by mixing 250g of milk chocolate with 3 tablespoons of cream and heating over a low heat until the chocolate is melted and combined.

6th and Final Layer:

Is the same as the first! Yes, more dark chocolate fudge, and more sliced Chomp Bars for decoration. Allow your finished Chocolate Lasagne to set for a couple of hours before turning out of the tin (VERY carefully – and this is where you thank me for reminding you to line that tin well). You might need to give it a bit of a tap on the bottom, to coax it out, but be patient. Slice with a very sharp knife. You could serve this with whipped cream – but honestly, you probably won’t need it!

Now… time to go for a run. Or do some sit-ups. Or something.