Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Hot Fudge - Homemade and Completely Natural



In my post about my Daughter's Birthday Dessert Cake I mentioned that I had made a Hot Fudge topping and that I would soon post about it. This is that post!

I have also previously posted about Hot Fudge or Choc Sauce but the difference is in the ingredients, in how it is made and most importantly how it tastes.

I've never really liked the fact that my first recipe uses Liquid Glucose / Corn Syrup to thicken the mixture. I kind of felt that it wasn't terribly healthy and to this day I don't really know what goes into Liquid Glucose. So, some time ago, I tried something out that has changed the way I make my Hot Fudge.

Rather than using a thickening agent like liquid glucose or corn syrup, I wondered what would happen if I started off with making something that was already thick and then thinning it down a little - something like a caramel sauce.


So I made a caramel, added in some butter, then some cocoa and then some milk. IT turned out brilliant and tasted like any store bought or restaurant found Hot Fudge. As I said before I've made this many times but I've never really measured anything out. This time I did and this is the recipe.


Ingredients
8 Tbsp Sugar
75g butter
10 Tbsp Cocoa Powder
1.5 Cups Fresh Milk
2 tsp vanilla
Method
Melt the sugar in a saucepan with a little water to make a light caramel. As soon as it turns golden, reduce the heat and add in the butter, being careful as it may splutter. Stir well and add in the cocoa. Mixture will thicken considerably and may even get lumpy. Dont worry at this stage. Add in the milk and using a whisk, stir the mixture until well combined and smooth. Keep stirring over medium heat until the mixture thickens nicely. Add in the vanilla.

You may need more cocoa or sugar depending on your taste and this can be added in once the mixture has cooked and is thick. The Hot Fudge keeps really well in the fridge and you just need to zap it for a few seconds in the microwave or reheat it over low heat.



It's brilliant with ice cream or as an accompaniment for waffles, cake or practically anything that needs hot fudge! You can even add in some other flavouring instead of vanilla like orange essence or even some rum or brandy for extra flavour. Say goodbye to canned/bottled hot fudge or chocolate sauce and start making your own!

Monday, 21 February 2011

A Princess turns 7 (with lots of pictures...)



My little Princess turned 7 on the 17th February. As per usual practice with both the kids, we hid her presents under her bed before waking her up. We sang Happy Birthday and although sitll groggy and half asleep, she slipped off the bed to check out what loot there was under the bed.



Regular followers of my blog will know that my little princess is not your typical princess. She doesn't like Barbie or any other dolls, she hates dressing up and she loves Football - that's why she had a Football themed Cake last year. She also loves NERF guns and so we got her a NERF Dart Tag set in addition to a few other smaller presents.



She was rather delighted with the NERF Dart Tag set and couldnt wait to try it out. The set comes with a small NERF gun and a target board - like a dart board. It also comes with a pair of glasses that they call "Vision Gear".



Sarah was quite specific in how she wanted to spend her birthday. Firstly, even
though it was a school day, she asked that both The Lovely Wife and I take leave from work so that we could pick her from school and then go for lunch.

Secondly, she requested a gathering of the extended family for a small dinner on Thursday night. This was compounded by the fact that we had a Wedding Reception on the following Saturday (19th) where we would usually have had a birthday celebration. So, seeing that we couldnt celebrate her birthday on Saturday, we agreed to invite everyone over on Thursday, her actual birthday.

Thirdly, Sarah knew exactly what she wanted for the meal. She wanted a Hot Dog party!


We served the sausages with with Hot Dog buns, relish, tomato sauce and mustard, rather yummy. But with about 17 people to feed, Hot Dogs weren't enough! The Lovely Wife wizzed up her version of the California Pizza Kitchen BBQ Chicken Salad, (something she has made before and I thought I had posted about but looks like I didnt - so look out for it!) that was indeed delicious.


Together with my Mother-in-Law, The Lovely Wife also whipped up a dish of Fried Noodles.


My mom had also ordered some Chicken Curry Puffs.



So indeed, there was rather a lot of food!

After indulging in the food, Sarah cut her cake. As I said in my previous post, this time around, Sarah wanted a Dessert Cake and not an iced and decorated cake. She was also quite specific that she wanted me to try and replicate the Fridays Mocha Mud Pie. She insisted on wearing her Vision Gear to cut the cake but I later insisted she take it off so that we had a nice picture of her! (see previous post)



She also wanted The Lovely Wife's Fruit Tarts with grapes and strawberries




and of course the Birthday Cake,





It was certainly a lot of work getting everything ready but then that's what Mummy's and Daddy's are for! All our guests enjoyed the birthday dinner and most importantly, My litte princess was very, very happy!



Happy 7th Birthday Sarah!

Friday, 18 February 2011

Mocha Mud Pie for Sarah's Birthday



My litte princess turned 7 yesterday. We had a gathering of the family and both The Lovely Wife and I made a few dishes for her. I'll post about the meal in my next post but first, the cake....

My little girl is growing up fast and as she grows up, her tastes are getting more and more mature. This time around, she wanted a Dessert cake rather than an iced and decorated cake. She said that although the iced and decorated cakes were nice, they weren't as much fun to eat. Smart Gal!

One of her favourite dessert cakes is the Mocha Mud Pie that you get at TGI Fridays. We all enjoy that dessert and its basically a large chunk of Coffee and Chocolate ice cream with an oreo base, covered with oreo sprinkles and served with Hot Fudge and Almonds. That's what I think it is anway!

As search for TGI Friday's Mocha Mud Pie didn't provide much in terms of recipes so I thought I would wing it and come up with something of my own. Everything is home made with the exception of the Oreo biscuits!



This dessert cake is rather cumbersome to make as there are so many components to it. As I said, since everything was home made, it took quite a bit of doing and quite a bit of time. To save time, I made a batch of chocolate ice cream and then halved it. I added Instant Coffee to the halved batch to make a Mocha Ice Cream and then layered that on top of the Chocolate Ice cream. If you dont want to make your own ice cream, just use equal amounts of Chocolate and Coffee Ice Cream. You can also opt to buy your own Hot Fudge but I prefer to make my own.

Ingredients
For the Ice Cream
700ml Cream
300g dark chocolate
8 egg yolks
150g caster sugar
600ml fresh milk
2 tsp Corn Flour
3 Tbsp Coffee
1.5 Tbsp Sugar
3 Tbsp Cream

For the Base and topping
3 packets of Oreo Biscuits
50g butter

almonds for topping
Hot Fudge (recipe will be provided in another post)

Method
Whisk the egg yolks, sugar and conglour together. Bring milk to the boil and then gradually mix a little into the egg mixture to temper it. Pour the egg mix back into the rest of the milk and cook over a gentle heat, stirring constantly until custart thickens and is smooth. Remove from heat.
Add in the chocolate and stir till melted. Allow to cool then chill.
Whip cream until it forms soft peaks and then fold into the chocolate mixture. Half the mixture and set aside.
Heat 3 tbsp cream then add in the coffee and 1.5 Tbsp sugar till it dissolves.
Add in the coffee mix to one half of the mix.

If using an ice cream maker, churn till firm.
Else, freeze mixture and then beat every few hours to remove the ice crystals and make the ice cream smooth

To make the base and assemble:
Line a 9 inch round or square pan with greaseproof paper, allowing the paper to come up the sides. This is so you can remove the cake and plate it later. Melt the butter and let cool. Process 2 packets of Oreos till fine crumbs. Add in the butter and press on to the pan. Chill in freezer for 10 mins till firm.
Remove the ice cream from freezer and allow to thaw till slightly soft. Cover the oreo base with one layer of chocolate ice cream and then cover that with a layer of Mocha/Coffee ice cream. Place in the freezer to set overnight or at least 8 hours. Before serving, crush the remaining packet of Oreos and cover with hot fudge and almonds.





It took a while to make the ice cream and wait for it to set and all that but I was able to do different bits over different times. The actual assembly didnt take too long either and I left the Hot Fudge and Almonds aside to place on each serving as that way, I could keep the cake in the freezer without the hot fudge freezing.

Since the cake was pretty much frozen, we could'nt stick a candle in, so I decided to stick a candle in a Strawberry and just place that on the cake.




The cake was very well received by everyone and Sarah was a happy little girl! I'm pleased that I managed to kind of replicate the TGI Friday's Mocha Mud Pie and I hope that anyone else looking to make a home made version tries this recipe out and please tell me how it goes. Both my kids think that this version is pretty true to the original and they actually prefer mine as the ice cream is creamier and not so icy.

There was sufficient cake to last for dessert the next day and I still have a small bowl filled with the Mocha Pie to last us over the weekend!

I'm glad you liked the cake Princess although Mummy insists its not a cake and is more an ice-cream dessert...

Happy Birthday Sarah!


Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Chocolate Orange Cake with a Rabbit thrown in!



Happy Chinese New Year everybody! Okay, So I'm a little late but at least I'm still within the 15 days of Chinese New Year! This year, our good friend, Ms Lor Siak Por, invited us over for Chinese New Year lunch on Saturday, 5th February. That was the 3rd day of Chinese New Year.

I have to say that Ms Lor Siak Por cooked up a feast and I ate a whole lot more than I should have. I told her the food was Absolutely (F***ing) Delicious and she laughed at my profanity! I'd tell you what she cooked but then again this is my blog and not hers...

So anyway, The Lovely Wife and I thought that we couldn't go over empty handed especially since Ms Lor Siak Por is such an ardent fan of my cakes/desserts. Since this year is the Year of the Rabbit and since Chinese New Year is always equated with mandarin oranges, I decided to make a Chocolate Orange Cake.


I've made a Choc-Orange cake before for a friend where I just added in some marmalade and cointreau to my usual chocoalte cake recipe but this time I wanted it to be different. What I did was to make a double batch of my butter cake recipe, but modified to include Marmalade, Cointreua and Orange Oil. Then I split the quantity and added Cocoa to one half and then marbled the batter to make a Choc Orange Marble cake.

For the Icing, I used a combination of cocoa, butter and chocolate with liberal doses of cointreau added in as well. The results were indeed rather yummy. The recipe yielded enough for 1 round 9inch cake plus a square 8 inch cake plus a Mother rabbit and two baby rabbits.



I had the Rabbit moulds stored away in the cupboard - a hand me down from Mummy dearest who had apparently made a Rabbits in the garden cake many, many, many years ago! So I baked all the cakes together and they came out looking pretty good. I decided I would keep the small rabbits for the kids and put the mummy bunny on top of the square cake.


Makes 2 quantities. Half the recipe for just one cake.
Ingredients
460g (16oz) Flour
5 tsp Baking Powder
460g (16oz) Castor Sugar
500g Butter
8 Eggs – lightly beaten
6 Tbsp Marmalade
2 Tsps Orange Oil
3 Tbsp Cointreau
3 tbsp cocoa mixed with hot water

For the Icing
4 oz butter
4 oz chocolate
4 oz cocoa
12 oz icing sugar
1-2 Tbsp Cointreau
water

Method
Cream butter and sugar till light and ivory coloured. Add eggs a little at a time. Fold in flour (sifted twice with baking powder). Add in Marmalade, Orange Oil and Cointreau. Mix well till smooth. Halve the mixture. Mix the cocoa with a little hot water to make a smooth paste. Add in the cocoa to one half of the mixture.
Marble the batter by putting in two spoons of plain mixture followed by two spoons of chocolate mixture. Divide equally into two lined and greased cake pans or moulds.
Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180 C for about 45 mins or till golden and done
Allow to cool then frost with icing.

Icing
Melt the butter, cocoa and chocolate together to form a smooth paste. Allow to cool. Sift the icing sugar and beat into the mixture. It may clump up a little. Add in the cointreau then add in a little hot water, a little at a time till you achieve a nice smooth, thick icing.
Method



I had made the cakes the evening before and The Lovely Wife's mother, brother, nephew and niece had come over. I served the cake with Ice Cream and the Kids ate the baby rabbits and then dug into the cake with much gusto. The cake was almost completely polished off and I was surprised by how fast it went.



Once cut, the cake had a nice marbled effect and the orange taste was rather distinctive while the chocolate was more subtle.

When we took the cake over to Ms Lor Siak Por's place, I was a bit embarrassed as I thought the rabbit looked more like a little rat as my icing didn't turn out so good. I had run out of icing bags and had to make do with zip lock bags that kept bursting. Fortunately, it looked enough like a rabbit for everyone to ooh and ahh. Apparently her other guests remembered my Chocolate Raspberry Cake that I made last year and I was hoping that this cake would be just as good.

The cake turned out really well and everyone enjoyed it. The kids especially liked it when we could finally cut into the rabbit. I think the rabbit tasted especially good too and as I said earlier, the marbling looked quite good too.




Happy New Year Ms Lor Siak Por and I hope you enjoyed eating whatever cake was left over! Thanks for the splendid meal too. :)







Friday, 4 February 2011

Poached Eggs



I've always wanted to poach an egg and have tried a few times without success. The whites seems to dissipate in the water and become all straggly and stringy. I did try using a method I learnt from my friend Lorraine at Not Quite Nigella where she uses plastic wrap to encase the egg white and yolk.
Even that method though didn't quite work for me as the egg seemed to cling on to the cling film. I suppose that's why its called Cling Film...

Recently, the whole family has enjoyed watching MasterChef (The US
Version) and the kids have a great time in immitating Gordon Ramsey whenever The Lovely Wife or I cook something. After the season of MasterChef ended, our Satellite TV Station introduced Junior MasterChef(Australia).


I was so astounded by all the stuff that these little kids were making!
Simply Magnificent. I coulnd't cook half of what I can cook now at their ages. Then there was this little girl that made a poached egg. Dammit! If an eight year old (or was she younger) could poach an egg than I bloody well could too!



So... a few days ago, during the Public Holiday for City Day, I decided I was going to poach an egg. I remembered an episode on the adult MasterChef where Whitney (the winner) had poached an egg and the judges mentioned that she had used the 'swirl method'. I was intrigued by what the swirl method was and learnt that you stir the water before dumping the egg in. The swirling water creates a centrifugal force that pulls the egg onto itself.

I also remembered reading somewhere that you should add some vinegar to the water as the vinegar helps to bind the proteins in the egg and stop the egg white from spreading too much. However, I have also read that it doesn't really make that much of a difference.

The first time I attempted the Poached Eggs, I used vinegar in the water. I swirled the water around and then dumped the egg in. It started to spread out and so I tried scooping up the sides to the centre. Bad idea. More strings of egg white formed. I let the egg set and then scooped it out into a bowl. I discarded the water and started to boil a new batch. This time, I used a smaller saucepan. The water was only salted and I didnt use vinegar.

I remembered at this point that it was best to use room temperature eggs. At least I had left two eggs outside to 'warm up.' It was also advised that the best poached eggs were fresh eggs. The eggs I had in the fridge were already more than a couple of days old, if not older. Maybe that's why the first attempt failed.

Anyway, I broke one egg into a small rameking and waited for the water to boil. I turned the heat down and then I swirled the water into a nice whirpool. The egg was slipped into the water gently and the swirling action really seemed to bring it together. I timed it perfectly to three minutes and then scooped it out and let it dry before I placed it on a nice piece of toasted wholemeal.




Method
Fill a saucepan with water ensuring enough water to cover the broken egg.
Add 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp vineger (optional).
Bring water to to the boil and once boiling, reduce heat to low so that water is just simmering.
Working with 1 egg at a time, crack an egg into a small bowl. Stir the simmering water in one direction to create a whirlpool. This is the 'swirl method'.
Quickly slide the egg from the bowl into the swirling water. Allow to cook for 3 minutes, without stirring.
Then using a slotted spoon, remove the egg and allow to drain on the spoon over some paper towels.
Repeat with remaining eggs, one at a time. Between cooking eggs, use the slotted spoon to skim off any foam or egg remnants from the surface of water surface.

Serve eggs on toast, seasoned to taste with salt and pepper.




While I was getting my camera ready, I called out to my little princess who excitedly waited at the dining table for her breakfast of poached eggs on toast. She sliced the yolk and all the creamy goodness spilled out. "Just like on MasterChef, Dads!" she exclaimed proudly. I was rather proud of myself too!




I did another egg for my son but this time I left it in a bit longer to get a firmer yolk. The yolk did turn out a little firmer and I think the firm yolk was quite nice too although I have to admit that I prefer the runnier version.




My little princess really enjoyed her Poached Eggs and I was really proud of myself for having finally conquered the poached egg. I started singing a little jingle with my princess that went like this:

Daddy can make a poached egg, Daddy can make a poached egg.

We sang it over and over again until The Lovely Wife started to roll her eyes toward the heavens, seeking enlightenment!

Next step is to try and make Eggs Benedict...




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