Candy Cane Bark- so easy and pretty.

Photo 4-12-14 5 58 57 pm

Excuse the photo, I am practising and want a record to see how I improve and I actually rather like it.

Miss Muffin has a bring a plate lunch at school tomorrow. I know this phrase doesn’t cross cultures, it means you take a plate of food to share with a crowd. As it is coming up to Christmas we decided to do something different and Candy Cane Bark was chosen. There are pictures of this all over Pinterest and it is easy, very easy. It looks really good and has made enough to share with a class of kids,  My head is now thinking of what other mixes I could do, my pick would be dried cherry and pistachio with dark chocolate.

Candy Cane Bark- Muffinmum.com

  • Servings: enough to go around a group
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

250g bar of milk chocolate

250g bar of white chocolate

150g packet of candy canes (around 10)

Line a baking tin with baking paper , we used a 34cm x 24cm

Put unwrapped canes in a bag and break up using a hammer

Break the milk chocolate up into a glass bowl, place over a saucepan of boiling water (not touching bowl) and gently melt, stirring occasionally

Plop onto the centre of the lined tin and move the tin around so it spreads, I used a spatular to help

Repeat with the white and plop that on top of the milk

Use the end of a spoon to create swirls

Scatter candy cane pieces over the top

Chill on side until cool and then refrigerate for1 1/2 hours, break into pieces

Puff pastry isn’t THAT frightening !

I don’t normally post about things I do in life, mainly because I created this blog for storing recipes. I decided after my wonderful fear conquering evening that I should do a more personal post. I wasn’t actually that scared, not as scared as some one I know, yes, you Lucy.

I belong to a meet up group called Wellington Foodies, join if you live in Wellington and like the idea of joining like minded foodies and learning new things, eating out at restaurants and potluck dinners. There are similar groups in most cities in the world. Last night we went to Elements Cafe Cookery School to learn the art of both puff pastry and choux pastry.

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With the puff pastry we made savoury pies, twistie pastry things that have a flash name and apple turn overs. There was lots of rolling, twisting and turning for the pastry with some wine in between. Yes, that was that much butter in the pastry, that is how you get the golden flaky look.

Now talking of flaky, this was my savoury pie. Look at those layers, just look. I did that. The pastry tasted wonderful and the butter shone through. I can’t say I would make this pastry everyday but I certainly will do it again.

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And here is a photograph where you can see the concentration.

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We also conquered choux pastry and Crème patisserie , I don’t think I have either of these since my friend Claire’s 18th birthday. It wasn’t that hard but did involve a lot of tipping, stirring and getting things just right. I have eaten many an eclaire today. The Crème patisserie really does complete the package.

choux

So, reader, find a meet up group, go along and have some fun. It might take a bit of courage to turn up to a room full of strangers, as they saying goes, strangers are only friends you haven’t yet met. Maybe I just say that?

I would like to thank the hard work of Lucy and others involved in organising events. I hope you don’t mind me using some of the photos.

Bread machine chocolate cake

So, this afternoon I decided that I must try the cake function out on the bread machine. I trawled the internet and fused a few recipes together and came up with this one. I had chopped up chocolate to chuck in when the beep went,  the beep doesn’t go on the cake setting. I had to quickly sprinkle the chocolate bits over the top. On the cake setting it took just over an hour. We may not have waited long enough for it to cool as it crumbled rather a lot. It tasted fine and was chocolate cake, like chocolate cake normally is. I found that the bread machine instructions had a few recipes in, I will have to try these too.

Spray the bread tin, put ingredients in as per your machines instructions. Mine is liquids first. Set on ‘cake’ setting and walk away. Leave in tin for around 5 minutes at the end.

1 1/4 cups milk
150 grams softened butter
2 eggs
2 cups self raising flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 c sugar  (I used 1 cup caster 1/4 brown)

* note 10/10/14 – must try this again and would love to know how it came out for you! Please leave a comment.

Chocolate salami

I first heard of chocolate salami just as the festive season started kicking off. I made a good few and kind of forgot about it and didn’t blog the process. Its origins are from Europe and it is claimed by many cultures. It makes a very good gift ad can be adapted to suit different tastes. I have only made it with dark chocolate (Whittaker’s) as I think it is one of those things that should be kept grown up tasting. I have used the 50% this time as there are other tastes that need to shine through too. You also vary the type of biscuit. I used ginger as I am taking this salami to a friends house who is cooking me a lovely Korean meal and I felt ginger would go well with the meal.

Every time I have been present when one of these was opened people have been gob smacked and impressed, I do rather enjoy that kind of response. I have also been met with, “is there any meat in it?”.

Chocolate Salami

200 g of a good dark chocolate chopped

100 g butter, at room temperature chopped into squares

2 egg yolks (use whites for Forgotten cookies)
1 tsp (or more to taste) of a spirit (gin, rum, something that needs using up)
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
5o grm of one of those fruit/nut mixes chopped up
6-8 biscuits chopped, not too small

1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 tsp of flaked salt
icing sugar

1 tube from inside a kitchen roll

a loaf tin

cling wrap

Place butter and chocolate in a microwave proof bowl, cover

Microwave for 1 minute, let it sit while you chop bits, microwave for another minute

Stir chocolate mix gently until glossy

Gently stir in biscuits and fruit/nut mix

Break egg yolks into a small bowl , add spirit and chilli flakes

Stir until mixed

Add to chocolate mix until incorporated with the cocoa and salt
Now come the fiddly bit-

Cut the tube once length ways

Place in loaf tin and line the inside of the roll with cling wrap, leave lots of excess at each end

I peg open one side of the roll, pegs on roll and loaf tin

Fill the centre of the tube with the mix until it looks full

Grab your excess cling wrap and roll each side together, fold in the each end too

Cool and store until your moment is close (can go in fridge)
To present-

Unwrap the salami

Roll in lots of icing sugar, making sure it gets into all the creases

To gift, I wrap it in doubled over grease proof paper and tie a bow at each end

It is good to label it in your own fancy way so your friend know what it is.

  

RQute- sure are.

Thank you Rochelle, sorry these photos are not the best.
If you have read my post regarding the New Zealand Chocolate Festival you may recall that I had rather a soft spot for the very lovely RQute stand. Rochelle, who is the  brains behind the chocolates and can be found at Ernesto, ran a competition for the best photos of her chocolate from the show. Well, I was the winner. How cool is that?

My prizes are pictured below. I am keeping the jigsaw and lollipop kit for a Christmas present for Miss. I am rather pleased with myself and am saving the truffles for Friday night. Only one more sleep. All of the bits are chocolate. If you look at the 7 Babushka dolls you will notice they are all different. How am I supposed to eat them? They are so lovely.

The Ultimate Chocolate Cake made with cocoa

I have another recipe on here for a chocolate cake with sour cream, this one trumps that. The other cake is good for using up sour cream but this one is the bees knees.I cut back on the sugar and only put just under a cup in. For the cocoa, I used the Signature range Dutch cocoa.
 
The recipe of from the Australian Taste website. I find lots of interesting recipes on here from various foodie mags.

Ingredients (serves 6)

Melted butter or margarine, for greasing

50g (1/2 cup) cocoa powder

125mls (1/2 cup) boiling water

125g butter, at room temperature

275g (1 1/4 cups) caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla essence

3 eggs

150g (1 cup) self-raising flour

40g (1/4 cup) plain flour

Icing sugar, to serve

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Brush a deep 22cm round cake pan with the melted butter or margarine to grease and then line the base with non-stick baking paper.
  2. Sift cocoa powder into a bowl. Gradually add almost all the water, stirring to form a smooth, thick paste. Stir in remaining water. Set aside.
  3. Use electric beaters to beat the butter, sugar and vanilla essence in a medium mixing bowl for 1-2 minutes or until pale. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition until combined,
  4. Sift together the flours. Use a large metal spoon to fold the flours into the butter mixture alternately with the cocoa mixture, in 2 batches each, until well combined. Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake pan and smooth the surface with the back of the spoon.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Stand for 3 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool. Serve dusted with icing sugar.

New Zealand Chocolate Festival

New Zealand Chocolate Festival
I was lucky enough to get invited to the opening of the New Zealand Chocolate Festival. I have to be honest and say I still a little puzzled as to how but strongly suspect twitter was involved. I am very happy with that, who wouldn’t be? When I got my invite I was in the UK,whooped loudly and had already purchased a ticket for the Saturday morning event, which is tomorrow. I am looking forward to going back!
So, this morning I met with several food bloggers, I will link their blogs with their names and then you can read their reports which will probably be more in-depth than mine. I have spoken to all three on twitter and met with two of them before. We are all heading out for dinner next Friday to Fratelli with some others, anyone got idea for the name for a group of food bloggers? No, coven will not do!
So my blogging friends,in no particular order were, Rosa, Shirleen and Millie (who is also part of Gusty Gourmet). On arrival we were given a name badge, please forgive me for the childish act of being amused and pleased by this but mine did categorise me as -media.

As we were media we got to go to the media presentation where we received a rather nice goody bag, heard all about how the festival started and them got a tasting lecturing about how to taste 5 different types of chocolate. This was the session.

chocBuds are our hosted tasting sessions where we will serve various types of chocolate for you to indulge in.
Learn how to taste the difference and find out everything you always wanted to know about chocolate.
Rene Fellmann,
Swiss Chocolatier
… will lead you on a course of discovery about Chocolate!
Rene’s passion for chocolate will awaken your senses to love chocolate like never before.
“Chocolate consumed in moderation, as a treat, will never interfere in body shape, but just give you a happy lifestyle” – Rene Fellmann, Chocolatier

I was most impressed with being able to let the chocolate melt slowly on my tongue, to then breath out through my mouth and in from my nose. This increased the taste considerably and I particularly enjoyed the dark with this process and least liked the sweetness of the milk. 

Before and after this we did some wandering around and a fair bit of trying. There were several businesses that I wasn’t familiar with and I was surprised by this. They were all good discoveries and it was good to see the places I was familiar with. My favourites were-
She chocolate, they have some really unique flavours and I may have to buy 5 tomorrow. One of those will be the beetroot flavour. 
Scilla chocolates, I love the idea of buying chocolates in a tin. I do have a little thing for tins and would happily order these as a present.
Bull rush, had good flavours and were a different product. They are fairly similar to a chocolate shop in Brighton called Montezuma’s   and now I can start to dream of a create your own bar being available in NZ. I was rather taken with the Rhubarb and Kumara flavour. Kumara is like a sweet potato for you aliens out there.
The Damson Collection, I made my only purchase for today and rather strangely, it was a damson vinaigrette. It comes in a spray bottle which I think is bloody marvellous and I can’t wait to spray my next salad. I have fond memories of scrumping damsons as a kid. I didn’t get to try a chocolate and will make that a mission for tomorrow.



RQute – My favourite stand and most enjoyable conversation was with Rochelle from RQute. She is a woman after my own heart and was full of passion. She was the only supplier there who imports (not exports) cocoa beans and grinds them for 15, yes 15, hours. She currently works out of the back of Ernesto in Cuba Street and her creations are just beautiful and so different. The logo for the business is so different, her products are so different and at the moment they are only available through limited places in Wellington. Her art work need to be sold everywhere. Have a look on the shop part of the website and you will see what I mean.



After our browsing and trying the lovely chocolate fountain the others vanished off to work and shopping. I stayed to hear the talk on tempering chocolate by Arno Sturny. I enjoyed watching it happen in front of me and learning from watching, rather than reading.
So, all in all I really enjoyed the morning and the enthusiasm for the event that was felt all around. This was the first ever New Zealand Chocolate Festival and was very impressive, I look forward to watching it grow and visiting again next year. I also enjoyed the company and being amoungst other food nutters.
Oh and one last mention goes to-
Schoc, the world famous in New Zealand chocolatier for the strangest 2 flavoured chocolates. I have to say I rather enjoyed them both.

One last picture, the goody bag.

Saturday- 
I went back this morning with a ticket and a lovely friend, Viv. I really enjoyed myself and I think Viv did too? As I had the inside knowledge we headed straight for the chocolate fountain and had a go and then into the main room via the left door. We ate plenty of chocolate and made some purchases. I have 2 lovely chocolate from RQute and a few from She. Tonight, I will be resting and not partaking.
I could easily write about each stand but I like my first impressions from above. One thing I forgot to mention was the amazing fimo food jewellery from Yummy Charms . I could have spent a small fortune and I am gutted I didn’t go back and get a phone charm. The detail was amazing. Think I might buy a few bits anyway for future birthday parties.
I really hope that this event happens next year and when it does, I will be waiting to buy my ticket.


Mexican Hot Chocolate Balls

Just what you need to dunk in your hot chocolate

I was trying to think of a way to describe these balls of delight and the word morsels sprung to mind. They are like a tasty shortbread. Warning, never try to cut them in half, you will end up covered in icing sugar. I presume they fall in a Mexican category due to the cinnamon.

240 g of softened butter
3/4 cup icing sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup pecans or walnuts, finely chopped (optional)
for dusting- 1 cup icing sugar, 1/4 cup cocoa and 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 180
Beat butter, cocoa and icing sugar until light
Add flour, 1 tsp cinnamon and stir in nuts (if using)
Work with a fork and your hands until it starts to form into a ball, like with shortbread. You can use a food processor.
Shape dough into small balls and place 2cm apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
Bake 18-20 minutes or until lightly browned. Allow to cool completely.
Combine the dusting ingredients.
I put 1/2 in the box I am going to store the cookies in, put warm cookies in and then cover in remaining dust.

Read more: http://baking.food.com/recipe/mexican-hot-chocolate-balls-273710#ixzz1P6FiRB4z

Chocolate Brownie Cake (thanks Boysmum)

Made this again tonight. I have one of those food confessions to admit- I used compound chocolate. In the brownie mix I used Whittaker’s dark chocolate and for the other 100 grams I had a mix of white and milk chocolate buttons. I think it came out better with the less flash chocolate.  It also had ‘the’ crust that makes the perfect brownie.
So for the chocolate I used -200grm dark cooking chocolate and 100 grams of white and milk buttons.

Not the best picture and yes, I sinned and cut it in the tin. You can see the crust and the ooze.
Chocolate Brownie cake (thanks Boysmum)

125g butter
300g chopped  dark chocolate (I used 200g milk choc plus 100g white choc)
1 1/4 c sugar
3/4 c plain flour
1/4 c cocoa
3 eggs
Optional- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (didn’t use these – but I did put almonds on the top once)
preheat oven to 170 – line and grease a springform pan.
melt butter and 200 g chocolate – cool slightly.
combine sugar, flour, cocoa, 2/3rds remaining chocolate, some of the nuts.
add chocolate mixture and eggs.
pour into tin and sprinkle with remaining chopped choc
bake for 1 hour (or until a skewer comes out clean) – mine only took 40 mins.