Chocolate Cupcakes With Salted Almond Icing

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I discovered this recipe a couple of weeks ago while having a look through ZaPop’s copy of The Daily Telegraph Newspaper. It was in the “Eat well” section. There was also an article by Grant Jones called “Season to Taste”, he writes
“A little salt used at the right time in the cooking process can go a long way”.
I completely agree with the above statement as this cupcake recipe below by Marion Grasby, Masterchef combines salty and sweet in just the right proportions to tantalise one’s tastebuds.

The temptation for baking these cupcake’s had been hovering in my kitchen for a couple of weeks as I had kept the article and recipe aside from ZaPop’s newspaper when I discovered them those few weeks ago.

I found these cupcake’s didn’t bake up like a standard cupcake they were a little more crisp on top (not that, that was a bad thing) probably because the recipe does not use flour. In fact the recipe I believe is actually gluten-free provided you use pure icing sugar in the icing, so everyone gets to enjoy this delicious recipe.

Here is what you need

INGREDIENTS

200g dark chocolate (70 per cent cocoa solids), roughly chopped

150g unsalted butter, chopped

2 tbsp brandy (I only used 1 tbsp. just to be safe but I would recommend the 2)

4 eggs, separated

1 cup caster sugar

1 cup ground almonds

1/3 cup natural almonds, sliced

SALTED ALMOND ICING

125g unsalted butter, softened

1/2 tsp vanilla extract (I used vanilla bean paste instead)

1/2 tsp almond essence (I did not use almond essence)

1 tsp sea salt flakes

2 cups icing sugar, sifted

Preheat oven to 170C. Double line a 12-hole (80ml/1/3 cup) muffin pan with paper cases.  (I filled 14 paper cases)

Place chocolate, butter and brandy in a small saucepan and cook, stirring, over low heat for 5 minutes or until combined.
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Cool for 15 minutes.

Using an electric mixer, whisk egg yolks, sugar and 2 teaspoons of water on highspeed for 3 minutes or until thick and pale. Fold in chocolate mixture, then fold in ground almonds.

In a clean bowl, whisk egg whites to soft peaks. Gently fold one-third into chocolate mixture until just combined, then fold in remaining egg whites until just combined.

Divide batter among paper cases and bake for 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out with moist crumbs attached. Cool cupcakes in pan.

To make the icing, use an electric mixer to beat butter, vanilla, almond essence and salt until pale and fluffy.

Add sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, beating until well-combined. Cover surface of icing with plastic wrap to prevent it drying out. Set aside.

Stir icing to a spreadable consistency, if necessary, then spread over cakes. Top with sliced almonds to serve.

Recipe: Marion Grasby, MasterChef

Below you will see how crisp my cupcake’s looked on top, infact Zadada thought they were biscuits when he first saw them come out of the oven.
I would love someone else to try this recipe and let me know the outcome of texture on top they get. Regardless of the texture these cupcake’s were a delight to eat and I will happily make another batch very soon. I think they are a delicious cupcake for adults.

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I hope you get to make and enjoy a batch of these soon.

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Aimee’s Easy Cannelloni

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I love any recipe that is easy especially when it is one my whole family enjoys. Zagorgeous Aimee shared this recipe with me. I have made Cannelloni before but it wasn’t as convenient to put together as this one.

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You will need:
1 box cannelloni tubes
500g chicken mince ( I could have done with about 600g, you will see my dish below could have used a couple of extra tubes in it but I ran out of chicken mixture).
3/4 cup light sour cream
2 tablespoons sweet chilli sauce (Aimee uses masterfoods mild sweet chilli)
1 jar pasta sauce (I used Dolmio Extra red wine and Italian herbs)
1 jar béchamel sauce (I used Dolmio Lasagne extra cheese sauce)
1 cup grated cheese

Combine raw chicken mince, sour cream and sweet chilli sauce.

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Pipe chicken mince mixture into pasta shells (I used one of my disposable piping bags with no nozzle attached and just snipped enough of the end off to fit the tip of bag inside the cannelloni tube. You could use a ziplock bag the same way if you are stuck).
Line a baking dish with baking paper (this saves on the washing up later).
Spoon pasta sauce to cover base of lined dish.
Then place the filled cannelloni shells on the bed of pasta sauce as pictured below.

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Spread béchamel sauce over the top of tubes followed by grated cheese evenly sprinkled over the top.

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Cover with foil, cook in a hot oven 50 minutes removing foil for the last 15 minutes so cheese can golden up.

I served the cannelloni with a nice fresh garden salad. Our 2 year old is a very fussy eater, she happily gobbled up the cannelloni, wish I could say the same for the salad!! At least she ate something!! Next time I plan to trick her and grate some carrot and zucchini into the mince mixture!

Butter Coconut Crisp Biscuits

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I feel very fortunate to have in my possession one of my late Nanna’s recipe collection’s. A lot of the recipes are clippings from magazines and newspapers, she must have kept an eye out as I do now for any recipes that sound yummy. So as I was flicking through this little collection of treasures, I came across a recipe that looked quick and easy to make as well as great lunchbox treat for Zakidlets.

INGREDIENTS

125g butter
2 cups self-raising flour
1 cup sugar
1 egg
(optional extra I added 1/2 cup dried cranberries)
coconut

METHOD

Melt Butter. Sift flour and sugar into a bowl, add cranberries if desired, add beaten egg and gradually the melted butter (you may not need it all), mix thoroughly. Form into small balls, roll in coconut.
Place on lined baking trays press down slightly, leaving enough room for biscuits to spread. Bake in a moderate oven approximately 10-15 minutes (I made mine a little on the larger side it took them closer to 20 minutes). Loosen on tray, leave until cold. If you like a crunchy crisp biscuit then you will love these.

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Thai Beef Salad

This is a great meal to have anytime as it doesn’t take much to put together and is extremely tasty!!! Some of you would have seen me post a picture of it on Zamamabakes Face Book page last week!!! I have finally got around to blogging the recipe.

I have Zabeautiful Trish to thank for making the suggestion of Thai beef Salad, resulting from the question I put up on Face Book ‘what should I make for dinner’?

I had a look at a few online recipes for some ingredient idea’s, I found they all differed slightly, this is what I ended up making. It was deliciously fresh and I will happily make it again.
You could use any selection of salad you desire and as for the meat again select what you enjoy best. Whatever you do I hope you enjoy this dish as much as ZaDada and I.
You should get at least 3 dinner serves out of the amount of ingredients listed. We had 2 main meals plus 2 smaller lunch serves the next day.

MEAT INGREDIENTS

500g rump or sirloin steak

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 garlic clove, crushed

SALAD INGREDIENTS

1 packet Coles mixed lettuce leaves

1 carrot grated or thinly sliced

1/2 red capsicum finely sliced (I used some of a mixed packet of small red, yellow and orange capsicums)

10 snow peas thinly sliced lengthways

1 punnet grape tomatoes

1 Lebanese cucumber halved lengthways and sliced diagonally

1/2 cup natural cashew nuts to sprinkle over the top of salad and beef

DRESSING INGREDIENTS

1/2 teaspoon crushed garlic

1/2 teaspoon chilli (I keep dried chilli flakes in pantry for convenience)

1 Tablespoon fish sauce

1 1/2 Tablespoons lime juice

1 1/2 Tablespoons sweet chilli sauce

2 teaspoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon chopped palm sugar (you may want to add more or use less depending on your palate)

1 Tablespoon freshly chopped mint ( you may choose to use less or more again according to your taste, you may also like to add some fresh coriander in conjunction with or instead of mint). Zadada loathes the taste of coriander so I did not use it.

METHOD
1. Combine all meat ingredients in a bowl/container to marinate in fridge (if your organised a few hours but I only did for 1 hour and I was still happy).
2. Combine all dressing ingredients and set aside
3. Arrange salad ingredients on dinner plates.
4. Cook steak to your liking and let rest for at least 4 minutes, cover with foil during this time.
5. Thinly slice steak into strips and arrange over the top of salad ingredients.
6. Garnish with cashew nuts
7. Pour a serve of salad dressing over the top
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Enjoy, we loved it. Thanks for the inspiration Trish.

Crystal Creek Banana’s

IMG_3371I love the fact that on a drive home from town, if I need some fresh produce, Banana’s in particular, there is a great roadside, fresh produce stall that I can call into. It is known as Crystal Creek Banana’s and you will find them on Nerang – Murwillumbah Rd which continues off Numinbah Rd towards Chillingham. From the town centre of Murwillumbah it is approximately 11.5 km and will take you about 12 minutes. We just happened to call in there for some delicious Banana’s and some other fresh produce yesterday.

As you can see all Banana’s were only $1 per kg.

IMG_3372Alani enjoyed helping hold the cucumbers, they were 3 for $2!!!

We also purchased an avocado for $0.80, bargain.

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IMG_3374 The satisfied face says it all.

IMG_3376I would recommend stopping to make some purchases if you are ever passing by.

Chocolate Hedgehog slice

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This is an all time favourite recipe of the whole family including my extended family.
It is quick and easy to make which is what I love about it and if I take it to a morning tea I always get asked for the recipe.
So without further ado here are the instructions to create this little number!!

INGREDIENTS
175g butter (I use 150g and add extra if mixture looks to dry at the end)
2/3 cup caster sugar
4 tablespoons cocoa
2 Tablespoons desiccated coconut
1 egg, lightly beaten
250g packet plain biscuits (I use whatever I have in cupboard ie Scotch fingers, Marie or Milk Arrowroot) broken into pieces.

I start with the biscuits in a snap lock bag. Pierce bag a few times with a fork just to let air escape.
I then fold a tea towel around bag and hit firmly with something like a meat mallet or rolling pin.

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Biscuits should end up looking as pictured above

1. In a saucepan melt butter, sugar and cocoa overa medium heat for 3 minutes. stirring to ensure sugar dissolves.
2. Remove from heat add coconut, egg, and biscuits. Press mixture into a baking paper lined
28cm x 18 cm slab pan. Chill for 1 hour.

CHOCOLATE TOPPING
250g dark chocolate, chopped coarsley
50g butter
Melt chocolate and butter in a bowl over simmering water, spread over slice. Allow to set in fridge for about 1/2-1 hour. Slice with a hot knife into pieces.

Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy my lovelies!!!!!

Beautiful Butterfly Birthday Cake and Pretty Butterfly Fairy bread

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This beautiful butterfly birthday cake was made by ZaBeautiful cousin Adele for her gorgeous little 7-year-old Zara. I think it’s just perfect for a sweet little girl’s birthday!!! In keeping in theme with butterfly’s Adele also made this pretty butterfly fairy bread!!

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Adele also informed me that she had an amazing helper in the kitchen and that would be her beautiful Mum (My Aunty Gail) she is extremely qualified in the kitchen and many other area’s too, always having a handy tip or new recipe to share. She has a very special place in my heart.
Beautiful work ladies!!!!

It’s time to sleep Book and DVD

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This DVD and book ‘It’s time to sleep’ by Maree Viotto was an essential item that helped ZaDada and I keep our marbles when it came to comforting and aiding Zakidlets to sleep when they were babies.
When we had our first baby Blake 8 years ago, like most 1st time parents we were flying blind he wasn’t a terribly unsettled baby but around 4 months his sleep patterns became a little more challenging. We had lots of people happy to give us advice, we took on board everything suggested to us but sometimes advice coming from all different directions can get a little overwhelming.
I found this DVD and Book online one day when Blake was about 6 months old. This system does use a controlled comforting technique for 6-12 month olds and I understand it’s not for everyone. For those who are interested in getting there babies and toddlers to sleep independently through the night then this DVD and book may be of some interest to you.
ZaDada and I wish we had of known about this DVD from the very beginning, regardless we have certainly made good use of it with all 3 of our children.
It’s time to sleep –
* will show you how to settle babies newborn – 6 months
* will show you controlled comforting techniques 6 – 12 months
* will show you how to get the older toddler to stay in their bed 1- 3 years
I love that the DVD shows you hands on how to put everything into play, you’re not just reading a book, you also get to see the instructions and advice accurately demonstrated.
I can say honestly that this made a positive difference to all 3 of our babies sleep routines.
If you have hit a bit of a wall with sleep routines then I hope this little package may bring you and your partner some comfort and perhaps a little extra sleep.
Sweet dreams.

Pop Cracknell’s Date cake

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A great classic the good old date cake!!!
This recipe has been handed down through generations of ZaDada’s family. I feel very honoured to be able to share it with you all. As far as I have been told it was originally baked by ZaDada’s late Great Grandfather of Picton in Sydney it was his specialty. ZaDada’s late Grandfather Fred continued the baking of this cake and in turn passed it on to his daughters which is how I came to obtain my copy.
This is an easy but delicious cake to make. It is especially amazing warm straight from the oven with a helping of butter!!!

INGREDIENTS
2 cups self-raising flour
1 cup brown sugar
125g butter, cubed small
1 cup dates, chopped finely
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt

Rub butter into flour,

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until mixture is of breadcrumb consistency,

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add sugar, dates, salt and stir to combine.
Mix eggs and milk together in a small bowl, add to the dry ingredients and stir.
Mixture will still appear to have fine lumps this is fine and is quite a thin mixture but that’s ok.

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Bake in an 8 inch cake tin greased and lined in an oven of 175 degrees celsius for 3/4 hour or until a knife inserted comes out just clean.
I hope you all enjoy this cake, it certainly holds lots of fond memories for ZaDada’s family.
There is nothing quite like sitting down with a good cup of tea and a delicious piece of date cake!!!

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Double Chocolate Mud Cupcakes with Cookies and Cream Icing

I have to confess I was shopping with the kids at our local Coles supermarket the other day and my little boy Blake pointed out some cupcakes that took his eye in the bakery section, and that my friend’s is where my inspiration came from to create a similar cupcake like these ones, made from scratch at home.

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DOUBLE CHOCOLATE MUD CUPCAKES

60g dark eating chocolate, coarsely chopped.
2/3 cup (160ml) water
90g butter, softened
1cup (220g) firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2/3 cup (100g) self-raising flour
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/3 cup (40g) almond meal

1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees C/150 degrees C fan- forced. Line a 12 hole standard muffin pan with paper cases.
2. Combine chocolate and the water in small saucepan, stir over low heat until smooth (I used a bowl over simmering water method, as I never trust chocolate).
3. Beat butter, sugar and eggs in bowl with electric mixer until light and fluffy.
4. Stir in sifted flour and cocoa, almond meal and warm chocolate mixture. divide mixture among cases. (I found mixture to be very thin, I added some extra self-raising flour but I really think you would be fine without it and should end up with an even moister cake then I did).
5. Bake cakes for about 25 minutes. Turn cakes onto wire rack to cool.

COOKIES AND CREAM ICING

INGREDIENTS
125g (4oz) butter
1 1/2 cups icing sugar (I use Coles brand soft icing mixture)
2 tablespoons milk
150g packet orio biscuits (I used about 10 biscuits from the packet)

METHOD
Have butter and milk at room temperature, place butter in small bowl of electric mixer, beat until butter is as white as possible, gradually add about half the sifted icing sugar, beating constantly,add milk gradually, then gradually beat in remaining icing sugar, mixture should be smooth and easy to spread with a spatula.

To make icing cookies and cream flavour I used 10 original Orio biscuits and processed them to a fine crumb in food processor. I then mixed them thru the Vienna cream evenly. Garnish with a little bit of Orio biscuit crumb.
I chose to pipe the icing on the cupcakes but that is completely your choice, they will taste the same regardless!!!

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The end result was Happy customers. What more could a Mama ask for???

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