Cocoa Krispies cake bars

The cereal in these bars goes by many different names – Coco Pops, Cocoa Krispies, Choco Krispies, Choco Pops depending on the country you’re in – but who can resist chocolate flavoured rice cereal?!

Cocoa Krispies cake bars

I have an early morning routine that involves two cups of coffee and an hour browsing foodie websites in an endless search for inspiration. Sometimes I’m looking for dinner ideas, sometimes it’s bread, elegant suppers for guests, tasty weekend lunch ideas, but very often it’s a search for lunchbox treats for the family. One particular day, I had in mind a snack bar type thing and had bought Choco Krispies (as they are called hereabouts) in anticipation, so when I spotted this recipe, I knew I had to adapt it. The family is happy I did!

Ingredients

Makes 12 servings

125g (1 cup, scooped and levelled) all-purpose (plain) flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp fine salt
2 tbsp cocoa powder
75g (1 cup) desiccated coconut
100g (1/2 cup lightly packed) light brown (Demerara) sugar
170g (1 1/2 sticks or 6 oz) butter, melted
60ml (1/4 cup) milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
120g (4 cups) chocolate rice cereal

Topping

200g (7 oz) milk chocolate
30ml (2 tbsp) milk
65g (1/2 cup unsifted) powdered (confectioners’) sugar

Directions

Preheat oven to 175°C (350°F) and butter a rectangular or square baking pan, approximately 20 x 25cm (8 x 10″)

Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, cocoa, sugar and coconut.

Whisk together the melted butter, milk and vanilla extract and add to the flour mixture to make a smooth batter.

Stir in the rice cereal so it’s evenly distributed in the batter.

Dump the mixture into the baking pan and press in with a spatula.

Bake in centre of oven for 18 minutes, until set.

Remove pan from oven to a wire rack and allow to cool for about 10 minutes.

Melt the chocolate with the milk in a double boiler, then stir in powdered sugar. Spread over the cereal cake and allow to set, about 20 minutes.

When cool, use a plastic spatula (if using a coated non-stick pan) or knife to cut into pieces.

Posted in biscuit, cake, cookie, dessert, snack, sweet | 4 Comments

Caramelized white chocolate ice cream

Thick and rich and creamy, with a spectacular flavour, and all it requires is 3 ingredients and a mixer. 3G’s comment after the first mouthful was  Sweet mother of chocolate!

This is definitely a small-serve special treat. But it’s okay to splurge once in while, right?

Caramelized white chocolate ice cream

I do have an ice cream machine… but I never remember to put the disc into the freezer 24 hours ahead of time, and the freezer is too small to keep it in there all the time on the off-chance. For the longest time, I avoided filling my kitchen with gadgets, resolving to make do with what I had, but I’m getting more self-indulgent. Not sure that’s always a good thing. It means I have a few things that I now don’t know how I ever lived without, but it also means a cupboard full of other single-purpose machines that rarely, if ever, get used. Do you have one of those cupboards? Or are you a wiser shopper than me?

Caramelized white chocolate

200g (7oz) good quality white chocolate

Preheat oven to 120°C (250°F), top and bottom heat with the rack in the centre.

Chop the chocolate roughly and spread evenly in a shallow baking dish.

Cook it in the oven for an hour or so, stirring with a spatula every ten minutes. The length of time it takes will depend on the chocolate.

It’s ready when it’s a rich caramel colour.

Set aside to cool to room temperature. It won’t take long to cool, about 30 minutes, and it needs to still be soft.

Ice cream

Makes about 1.5 litres (3 pints)

500ml (about 2 cups or 16 fl oz) whole cream
1 x 397g (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
caramelized white chocolate from above

Beat everything together on medium-high speed until thick and moussey but not to the texture of whipped cream, 3 – 4 minutes. Don’t be tempted to overbeat it, or the ice cream will end up with a buttery taste and a fatty mouthfeel. If using a whisk, you’ll have your work cut out for you, so I’d recommend an electric mixer.

Pour mixture into a container, seal tightly and freeze for at least 8 hours.

There shouldn’t be any need to soften it before serving – it’s so creamy (i.e. full of fat!) that it won’t freeze rock hard.

Posted in dessert, ice cream | 8 Comments

Blueberry cream-cheese cake

It may not be the prettiest thing, but this moist, soft cake is absolutely bursting with sweet, juicy blueberries.

Blueberry cream cheese cake

This is a great cake to have for morning tea… or afternoon tea… or breakfast. It’s not overly sweet and the taste is amazingly fresh. I’m in love with blueberries at the moment. And with just smallish amount of sugar and no butter or oil, these are a little less wicked than some of my more recent offerings. Don’t fret, though. I’ll be making up for that soon enough!

Makes 12 servings

Ingredients

250g (2 cups, scooped and levelled) all-purpose (plain) flour
100g (1/2 cup) granulated (white) sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
200g (7 oz or 1 cup) cream cheese
240ml (1 cup) whole milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
250g (about 9 oz or 1 1/4 cups) blueberries
4 tbsp pearl (nib) sugar

Directions

Preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F) and grease and flour a square or rectangular cake pan – mine was 20 x 26cm (8 x 10″).

Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.

In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream cheese, milk and vanilla until smooth.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and fold in with a spatula just until it’s smooth.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, scatter the blueberries evenly over the top, then sprinkle with pearl sugar.

Bake in centre of oven for 40 minutes, until dark golden and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Place on a wire rack to cool completely in the pan.

Posted in cake, dessert, snack, sweet | 11 Comments

Brown sugar yeast scrolls

Here’s my third entry in the June Daring Bakers sweet roll challenge, at long last.

Brown sugar yeast scrolls

For these brown sugar yeast rolls, I adapted the filling recipe from the Nazook I made a couple of years ago (another DB challenge), replacing the white sugar with dark brown sugar for a rich, molasses flavour. I swear, this batch of 16 scrolls were gone in a matter of hours. I think I found the key to M’s sweet tooth with these ;)  Soooooo much brown sugar, and the tops become crisp for a fantastic textural contrast. I am well and truly convinced that adding mashed potato to a yeast dough makes a huge impact on texture – the rolls turn out so fluffy soft and shreddy. I really dislike that thing where you bite into a sweet roll and it ends up chewy and hard in your mouth as you chew – it should melt. These melt :)

Makes 16

Dough

500g (4 scant cups) all-purpose (plain) flour
1 x 7g sachet (2 1/4 tsp) instant dry yeast
60g (1/4 cup, packed) dark brown (muscovado) sugar
1 tsp salt
100g (7 tbsp) unsalted butter, room temperature
125ml (1/2 cup + 1 tsp) milk, room temperature
200g (1 cup) mashed potato, room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature

Filling

125g (1 scant cup) all-purpose (plain) flour, sifted
325g (1 1/2 cups, packed) dark brown (muscovado) sugar
170g (3/4 cup, 1 1/2 sticks)) butter, room temperature

1 egg, lightly beaten together with 1 tsp water for wash

Dough

In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together flour, yeast, sugar and salt, then rub in butter with your fingertips until it has the texture of soft breadcrumbs.

In a small bowl, whisk the milk, mashed potato and eggs together and add to the dry mixture, stirring to combine.

Either fit the mixer with a dough hook or turn dough out onto a clean work surface and knead until soft and elastic.

Transfer dough to a large buttered bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap and allow to rise until doubled in size, about an hour, up to two, depending on ambient temperature.

Filling and baking

Put the flour, brown sugar and butter in a medium bowl and mix with a fork until it looks like wet sand.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll it out to a rectangle about 30 x 50cm (12 x 20″).

Sprinkle the dough evenly with the filling.

Roll the dough from the long edge into a tight log, seam-side down, then cut crosswise into 16 equal pieces.

Arrange the rolls cut-side-up on the baking sheet, leaving about 2cm (about 1”) between them.

Cover rolls loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rise for about one hour, or until puffed and jostling for space in the pan.

Preheat the oven to 180°C (360°F).

Brush rolls with egg wash and bake in centre of oven for about 30 minutes, until deep golden brown.

Remove rolls to a wire rack to cool.

Posted in cake, daring bakers, dessert, muffin, potato, snack, sweet | 12 Comments

Strawberry sour cream gelato

All you need is a whisk! Sweet and creamy gelato with ripples of luscious strawberry, this goes amazingly well with a rich chocolate brownie for an indulgent dessert. 3G declared it to be the best thing since sliced bread  :)

Strawberry sour cream gelato

A few days ago, I saw this home made sour cream gelato on the interwebbies and knew I had to make it. It was suggested that it would make a good base, and I wondered what I could jazz it up with, then I spotted the strawberries in the supermarket. Mara des bois strawberries, to be precise. Such a beautiful red, so juicy, sweet and with an incredible perfume. They are my favourite strawberries by a country mile, so were destined to feature in this gelato.

A couple of notes: One thing I found in my experimenting was that all the ingredients had to be well chilled, otherwise it froze too slowly and the sour cream and condensed milk separated a little. I did change the quantities just a tad so that I didn’t have a tiny bit of condensed milk left over, but I really don’t think the ratios are that far off that it would make a difference. Also, I opted not to cook the strawberries because I prefer the fresh taste, but that does mean they will crystallise a bit.

Ingredients

Makes about 1 1/2 litres (3 pints)

465g (2 cups) crème fraîche or sour cream
1 x 397g (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
500g (18 oz) strawberries

Directions

Wash, dry and hull the strawberries, then purée to desired smoothness and refrigerate until needed.

Whisk together the sour cream, condensed milk and vanilla until smooth.

Pour into freezing container (I used a glass soufflé dish, but a large loaf pan would work well).

Slowly dribble the strawberry purée into the sour cream mixture, ensuring that it is evenly distributed. Don’t stir!

Cover the container tightly with plastic wrap and freeze overnight.

Remove from freezer 10 minutes or so before serving.

Posted in dessert, sweet | 2 Comments

Cheese & herb waffles

3G, hubby and I went to Bruges (Brugge) in Belgium for a long weekend last month and had a fantastic time wandering around the old town, trying countless Belgian beers and recreating scenes from the movie “In Bruges” (without the guns, of course). We also experienced the joy that is the Liège waffle. Once in three days. The other two times we found ourselves served what the rest of the world calls Belgian waffles but the Belgians refer to as Brussels waffles. Batter based, not yeasted. No pearl sugar. Very sad.

cheese and herb waffles

After having my waffle-eyes opened that one time in that little cafe by the canal on that first day in that beautiful town, I was determined never to eat a toaster waffle again, so as soon as I got home I bought a proper Belgian waffle maker. So far, there have been sugary Liège waffles, batter based savoury corn waffles and these yeasted cheese and herb waffles. Super tasty with a crispy exterior, soft interior and just perfect with a salad of grilled veggies.

I see a lot more waffles in our future!

Ingredients

Makes 8 large or 12 medium

280g (2 1/4 cups) all-purpose (plain) flour
1 x 7g sachet (2 1/4 tsp) instant dry yeast (see note)
12g (2 tsp) fine salt
2 tsp dried herbs (I used marjoram, thyme & oregano)
a pinch ground nutmeg
a few grinds black pepper
1 large egg
80ml (1/3 cup) lukewarm water
115g (1 stick or 1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
125g (4 1/2 oz or 1 lightly packed cup) grated provolone

Directions

Whisk together flour, yeast, salt, herbs and nutmeg in a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook.

Add the egg and water and mix to combine.

Add the butter and knead in well.

Add the grated cheese and knead to combine.

Transfer dough to a clean bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour – it won’t rise much but will develop flavour.

Remove dough from fridge and bring to room temperature – could take an hour or so, depending on how long it was in the fridge.

Divide into 8 – 12 equal pieces and roll into balls, cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rest for at least 30 minutes, until they start to puff up.

Bake the waffles at your preferred heat setting until golden brown. I do mine for 5 minutes at medium-high.

Best served immediately, but you can keep them warm in an oven heated to 150°C (300°F).

Note: If you use active dry yeast instead of instant, activate until frothy in the water and add it to the mixture along with the egg.

Posted in bread, side | 12 Comments

Baklava scrolls

Honey-sweetened cardamom-scented yeast dough, filled with honey-butter syrup and chopped pistachios, then glazed with more honey.

Baklava scrolls

These were actually the third batch of sweet roll I made for the June Daring Bakers challenge (late, obviously) but I couldn’t wait to post them! I adore baklava but have never made it myself, and given the price of unsalted pistachios in this town (ouch!) I won’t be making it any time soon! But these rolls don’t use nearly so much, so they are doable. The bread is soft and shreddy, the filling is sweet and nutty. Gorgeous.

Makes 16

Ingredients

100g (7 tbsp) unsalted butter, room temperature
550g (4 1/3 cups) all-purpose (plain) flour
1 x 7g sachet (2 1/4 tsp) instant dry yeast
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
240ml (1 cup) milk, lukewarm
2 large eggs, room temperature
65g (3 tbsp) honey

Filling

75g (5 1/2 tbsp) unsalted butter
65g (3 tbsp) honey
80g (2/5 cup) granulated (white) sugar
120g (4 1/4 oz) unsalted pistachios (weighed without shells), coarsely chopped

about 45g (2 tbsp) extra honey for glazing

Directions

Rub butter into flour with your fingertips until it has the texture of soft breadcrumbs, or use a stand mixer with a whisk attachment to combine.

Add yeast, salt and cardamom and mix thoroughly.

Heat milk to lukewarm, whisk in the eggs and honey and add to the dry mixture, stirring to combine.

Either fit the mixer with a dough hook or turn dough out onto a clean work surface and knead until soft and elastic. It will be quite wet and sticky.

Transfer dough to a large, buttered bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap and allow to rise until doubled in size, about an hour, but up to two, depending on ambient temperature.

Filling and baking

Combine butter, honey and sugar in a small, heavy based saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring continuously.

Remove from heat and set aside to cool for 10 minutes.

Line a large baking sheet with parchment.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll it out to a rectangle about 30 x 50cm (12 x 20″).

Spread the dough evenly with the honey caramel then sprinkle with chopped pistachios.

Roll the dough from the long edge into a tight log, seam-side down, then cut into 16 equal pieces.

Arrange the rolls cut-side-up on the baking sheet, leaving about 2cm (about 1”) between them.

Cover rolls loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rise for about one hour, or until puffed and jostling for space in the pan.

Preheat the oven to 180°C (360°F).

Bake in centre of oven for about 30 minutes, until deep golden brown.

Remove rolls to a wire rack. Heat the extra honey in the microwave and brush onto the warm rolls, then allow to cool completely.

Posted in bread, cake, daring bakers, dessert, muffin, snack, sweet | 18 Comments