Mandy Wrangles_2_tnIt’s almost Easter, and I have to confess this recipe was one of the trickier ones I’ve put together for Cook Club! After being inspired by an extremely delish photo I found online, I set about making my own version (of what looked like a really simple recipe) to share with you guys. Alas, I need to remember things on the internet can be deceiving! But never fear, Cook Clubbers, after three trials, we now have a simple, pretty much fail-safe Easter Loaf so full of chocolatey goodness it might just send us all into a diabetic coma.

 

choc loaf 1WHAT YOU NEED:

Mixed chocolate bars. I used Cherry Ripe, Peppermint Crisp, Crunchie, Kit Kats, Wonka’s Cookie and Cream and mixed mini Easter eggs (but nothing too creamy – I made that mistake in attempts one and two). Look for bars that have colourful insides.

400g dark chocolate, chopped

50g butter, cubed

1 tin of condensed milk

A loaf tin

Grease proof paper (or similar, to line your tin)

 

choc loaf 3HOW IT’S DONE:

Prepare your chocolates by unwrapping them all, maybe cutting some in half. You’ll need to work fast so have everything handy. Line your loaf tin with cooking paper.

In a medium saucepan set to a low heat, melt butter and condensed milk together, stirring constantly. Once they’re combined, add the chopped chocolate all at once and stir like crazy. It will come together thick and fast, so use your muscles.

Once your fudge base is combined, layer it in the tin with your prepared bars and Easter eggs, giving the tin a light tap between layers to get rid of any air bubbles. Continue layering bars, fudge, bars until you fill the tin to the top. Refrigerate for 24 hours, or at least overnight. When set, turn out of tin – you might need to give it a good tap on the bottom – and slice.

**Confession – my loaf tin is quite deep, so I ended up doubling the fudge mixture. Next time, I think I’ll add more bars and less fudge.

** Don’t be afraid to experiment! I think using milk chocolate in the fudge mix would work well – dark choc made this recipe very, very rich…though my family aren’t complaining! I’d love to see what variations you guys come up with.

 

 

 

choc loaf 4

Easter Chocolate Loaf

 

 

Belinda tries Mandy’s recipe!

 



 

Mandy Wrangles_2_tnFor this month’s cook club, Mandy shows us how to make CARAMEL POPCORN CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES (for cheats!)

 

 

popcorn 4WHAT YOU NEED:

* As all good Kitchen-Cheats understand, keeping the odd box of instant cake mix in the pantry is a must. For this recipe, I used a Chocolate Fudge Cake mix, but you could use any chocolate or chocolate mud cake mixture. Find one that suits YOU.

*Butter / oil. eggs and milk or water – depending on what your Cheat-mix requires.

*Instant chocolate frosting. I prefer the Betty Crocker range.

*400g of Jersey Caramels.

*1/4 cup of full cream.

* One 175g pack of Lolly Gobble Bliss Bombs. Or caramel popcorn. Or plain popcorn…depends how sweet your tooth is!

*Cupcake wrappers. I used gold foil wrappers for this recipe, because pretty. And it matches the caramel.

 

popcorn 3HOW IT’S DONE:

Bake your cupcakes according to the packet directions, but be wary of over-filling each cupcake (fill to 2/3 maximum) My mix was only supposed to be enough for 12 cupcakes, but in fact it made 18.

Allow cakes to cool completely, then, using a teaspoon, carefully scoop out a well from the centre of each one.

Chop Jersey Caramels and add to a medium sized pot along with cream. Over a medium heat, stirring constantly, melt caramels and cream together. This takes a little while, and will give your arms a good workout before it all comes together. Try not to allow the mixture to boil. Once combined, spoon aprox a teaspoon full of melted caramel into the well you made in each cupcake. Work quickly here, before the mixture begins to stiffen. Also – HOT. Be careful. Follow with a quick smothering of pre-prepared chocolate frosting over the whole lot. I just used a knife to smooth it over rather than a piping bag this time.

POPCORN 1Add the packet of Lolly Gobble Bliss Bombs to your caramel mixture, carefully spooning through so the entire packet is coated with caramel. A metal tablespoon is easier to work with here rather than a wooden one. Once combined, spoon a large tablespoon of popcorn on to the top of each cupcake and allow to set.

You could follow this up with a drizzling of melted chocolate, but the verdict from my family was that these are pretty full-on in the sweet department already and wouldn’t need it. The surprise dollop of caramel inside the cupcake will set to a gooey consistency, lots of fun for small people and adults alike.

 

 

 

and now… Belinda tries it out!

 



Mandy Wrangles_2_tnCrisp on the outside, chewy on the inside, white chocolate and macadamias. What more you could ask for in a cookie?

This is a huge recipe – not in time or effort, but certainly in the amount of cookies you’ll have left to devour once it’s done. My family of boys can manage a double batch without a problem, you (and Bel) might decide to half the amounts I’ve given here.

 

mac cookies rawWHAT YOU NEED:

1 cup of softened butter. No, not margarine. Butter.

1 cup of white sugar.

¾ cup of brown sugar, packed.

2 tsp of vanilla extract.

1 tsp of salt.

2 large eggs.

3 cups of plain flour.

1 ½ tsp baking soda.

150g chopped macadamia nuts.

150g white chocolate chips.

 

mac cookiesHOW IT’S DONE:

Pre heat your oven to a low 140 c. In a large bowl, beat together butter, sugars and vanilla extract until it turns fluffy and takes on a lighter colour. An electric mixer will make your life easier, but it’s not essential for this recipe. Then add eggs one at a time. The mixture might appear to curdle at first, but it will come together.

In a second bowl, mix flour, baking soda and salt. Gradually add this mix to the butter and egg mixture until all combined. It’s seriously easy to end up in a big mess with flour flying everywhere if you don’t take your time with this bit. Go on…ask me how I know! Or, maybe don’t. Add the chocolate chips and macadamia nuts at this point. You might want to get your hands in there to mix until pretty much even.

Line a baking tray or three with baking paper (my favourite thing in the kitchen, saves on washing up). Spoon one tablespoon of mix into balls in your hands, then place on tray. Don’t place too close together, as they WILL spread. Cooking time is only about ten to eleven minutes – you won’t think they’re ready yet, but look for the slight golden brown change in colour around the edge of your cookies. They’ll still be quite soft. Allow to cool for a minute or two, then slide off with a spatula. Overcook and you’ll lose that lovely chewy consistency. Of course, if you prefer your cookies with that bit more crunch, then by all means bake for a little longer.

 

and now Bel videos her version of Mandy’s recipe

 

 



Mandy Wrangles_2_tnFor Cook Club this month, I decided to make one of my favourite desserts – spectacular and far simpler to make than you’d think, but it’s a bit too full-on for everyday. Here in Australia, where we celebrate Christmas in summer and our delicious berries are in season, well, a triple-layered Pavlova has to be the perfect Christmas Day dessert ~ Mandy

 

What You Need:

  • 200ml of egg whites. I find it easier to measure egg whites this way, because at my place the eggs come in all shapes and sizes from our backyard chickens.
  • 1 ½ cups of caster (super fine) sugar.
  • 200g of dark chocolate.
  • 400 ml of cream: 200ml for whipping, plus another 200ml for mixing with the chocolate.
  • Mixed berries. I used strawberries, blackberries and blueberries.
  • 2 ½ teaspoons of white vinegar.
  • 3 tablespoons of cornflour.

 

????????????????????????????????How it’s Done:

Preheat oven to 130 degrees C. Line three baking trays – I use pizza trays – with baking paper, and mark a circle on each, aprox 20cm in diameter and set aside.

Very carefully separate your egg whites from the yolks. I use a groovy little kitchen gadget that I think came via Tuppaware years ago, but on the days when that gets lost in my junk drawer, just cupping your (clean) hand and letting the whites slide through your fingers does a pretty good job.

Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites on their own until they turn white with foamy peaks. Add the caster sugar little bit by little bit on medium-high. Be patient! Make sure each sugar edition has dissolved before adding the next lot. An easy way to check this is by rubbing a little mixture between your fingers. If you can still feel grit from the sugar, beat a little longer. Once complete, your mixture should be white, stiff and very glossy. At this point, add the vinegar and cornflour to stabilise the mix (Confession – I forgot to add the vinegar and cornflour, but it still worked.)

Divide mix into three, and spoon onto your baking trays. Using your circles as a guide, smooth out mixture as much as possible, and keeping the sides tidy. Add to the oven, turn heat down to 120 C. Bake for 1 hour, 10 mins (Confession – mine were ready at one hour exactly, so do keep an eye on them), then turn off the oven, open the door and allow the meringues to cool completely.

While your meringues are cooling in the oven, melt the chocolate over a double boiler with 200ml of cream. A double boiler is basically a saucepan with a little bit of water in it and low heat, and another large bowl placed directly over it. Don’t allow steam or water to come into contact with your chocolate. Stir constantly, and eventually it will come together in a chocolate sauce. Allow to cool.

Prepare berries, and whip remaining 200ml of cream. I always add a dash of vanilla extract. On a serving dish, very carefully place one of your cooled meringues. Using about a third of your chocolate ganache mixture, smooth on top of the meringue, followed by a third of the whipped cream and berries. Place your second meringue on top and repeat the process, then the final meringue, chocolate, cream and berries.

For serving on Christmas Day, you could add more berries to the plate, tinsel or baubles to decorate.

Good luck Cook Clubbers, I’m looking forward to seeing what Bel comes up with!

 

And now… Belinda videos her efforts and tries the Jamie Oliver trick. #whipit

 



Triple Chocolate Tim Tam Cake Pops

 

TTcake popsFor our first Cook Club, Bel was hoping I’d go a little easy on you all (but mostly her, I suspect!) with something simple. So, wish granted – it doesn’t get much easier than my no-bake Tim Tam Cake Pops. I use this recipe HEAPS, it’s so quick and flexible, there’s minimal mess (always a good thing in my kitchen. I’m allergic to washing dishes…) and you can make the pops as simple – or as complicated – as your imagination will allow.

WHAT YOU NEED

1 packet of Milk Chocolate Tim Tams. For those of you not in Australia and therefore unable to get hold of the world’s yummiest treat – use Oreos.

80 grams of chilled cream cheese, such as Philly.

1 packet of dark chocolate melts.

Chocolate sprinkles for decoration (or, you could GO FOR IT and try coloured sprinkles or drizzled white chocolate or crushed M&Ms)

Cake Pop sticks. These are basically lollipop sticks, available for your local cake supplies shop or $2 Shop.

 

TT cake pops 2HOW IT’S DONE

Using a food processor or blender, give your whole pack of Tim Tams a quick blitz for about 20 seconds, just to break them up a little. Then add the cream cheese and blitz until the mixture all comes together in a ball. Note – if your kitchen is hot, or it’s a particularly warm day, you might find the mix gets a bit sticky to work with. If this is the case, just pop it in the fridge for ten minutes.

Take rounded-teaspoon sized scoops of the mixture, and roll into a ball. You should get about12 – 16 from the mix. Place on a plate or tray lined with baking paper, and chill for around half an hour.

Take a coffee cup, and fill it half way with chocolate melts. Using the microwave, melt chocolate in 10 second bursts, stirring in between. It’s really easy to ‘seize’ or burn chocolate if it’s over-heated, or you get any moisture into it (keep the water WAY away!), so be careful at this point. Once melted, dip one end of your Cake Pop stick into the chocolate – about 1cm – and push into your chilled chocolate ball, then back into the fridge to allow them to set.

Prepare a small dish or bowl by filling it with your chocolate sprinkles. Then, using the same microwave method, melt more chocolate. This time you need to almost fill the coffee mug. Dip each cake pop into the melted chocolate, giving it a tap on the side of the mug to help remove the drips (probably the trickiest part!), then dip the top if your coated pop into your sprinkles. Use a glass or mug to stand your completed cake pops in while the chocolate sets.

And that’s it! All you need to do now is taste test them. Have a look and see what my tribe of chocoholic boys have to say… (Hint – not much, their mouths are too full of cake pops to speak!)

Enjoy, Bel and gang. I’m sure you’ll do just fine!

Ps – if anyone has any questions, feel free to ask me in the comments section below. I’ll be keeping my eye out and will be here to answer.

 

 Belinda’s Chocolate Cake Pops!

 



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