Mmm, mmm, muesli bars

29 Apr

Muesli bars

At home with the kids.  They’re making things with salt dough; I want to make something but for some reason cupcakes are not calling my name today.  I check out the pantry – there’s a big, fat bag of leftover muesli that my husband obviously decided he didn’t like, after having eaten half the bag… it’s been there a while.  Muesli… muesli bars.  Hmmm…

I searched online for some recipes but they were mostly heavy on the seeds, which I’m not a fan of.  I then looked at some old school cook books and got a bit of an idea of the ratios, and came up with my own (very flexible) recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups muesli (containing dried fruit)
  • 1 cup puffed rice
  • 1/2 cup sultanas (or alternatives as below)
  • 1/2 cup desiccated coconut
  • 125g butter, cubed
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp golden syrup
  • 1/4 cup caster sugar

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 180ºC
  • Line a 12″ x 8-9″ slice tin with baking paper
  • Place butter, honey, syrup and sugar in a heatproof jug/bowl and microwave for 1 minute
  • Stir to combine, until butter melts and sugar starts to dissolve
  • Microwave for 1 minute to cook the syrup, then stir for a few minutes until the sugar feels dissolved
  • Microwave for 30 seconds to thicken syrup and stir again
  • Place all dry ingredients in a large bowl
  • Pour the syrup over the dry ingredients and stir well to ensure all ingredients are wet
  • Press the mixture into the tin and bake for 15-20 minutes
  • Once cooled a bit, place tray into the fridge and allow the slice to chill, before cutting into squares or bars

Notes:

  • I used muesli because that’s what I had on hand; it contained rolled oats, bran cereal (the little “sticks”… heyyyyy, what if they really are just… never mind), sultanas and some kind of dried fruit and some kind of seeds.  If you just use rolled oats, I would decrease the muesli by half a cup and replace with half a cup of dried fruit/nuts/seeds (in addition to the half cup of sultanas (or alternative), so in the end you have about one cup of fruit/nuts/seeds in total).  Even though the muesli already had sultanas in it, I love them so still added the full extra half a cup.
  • Options for “dried fruit/nuts/seeds” could be: sultanas, apple, apricots, dates, currants, raisins, berries, choc chips, crushed nuts of any kind, pumpkin, sesame, sunflower, flax seeds etc
  • You could substitute the puffed rice with other kinds of cereals – corn flakes, bran flakes, bran sticks, or something flavoured, if that’s your bag (or more rolled oats, even)
  • You can stick with honey if you don’t have (or want to use) golden syrup, but I like the flavour it adds
  • If using all honey, you could consider using brown sugar instead of caster sugar for a flavour twist
  • I don’t see why you couldn’t use a sugar substitute in this, but I haven’t tried it so don’t take my word for it – I guess if you use the stuff often, you will have an idea of whether it would work or not

Muesli bars

I wasn’t sure what the kids would make of these (they don’t particularly like store-bought muesli bars), but they quite liked them.  I was a fan from the moment I combined the syrup with the oats – it smelled awesome (and I may or may not have licked the stray oats from the palms of my hands as though it were possibly my last meal, after I had pressed the mixture into the tin).

There are a lot of ingredients and they look like they’d be more trouble than they’re worth, but they are extremely easy and the end result is really good.  And I know it kind of defeats the purpose of making bars, but they are totally awesome crumbled into vanilla yoghurt.

Nanna’s choc coconut slice

25 Apr

Choc coconut slice

Giving credit where it’s due – this is my grandmother’s recipe.  She used to make it often when we were kids, and it was one of the things we specifically requested.

Awesome with a glass of milk (but then, what dessert isn’t?).

Choc coconut slice

Ingredients – slice:

  • 1 & 1/2 cups desiccated coconut
  • 1 & 1/2 cups self-raising flour
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa
  • 250g butter, melted

Ingredients – icing:

  • 3 tbsp icing sugar
  • 3 tsp cocoa
  • 2-3 tsp water

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 180ºC
  • Line a 12″ x 9″ slice tin with baking paper
  • Place all dry ingredients in a bowl and mix together
  • Pour melted butter over dry ingredients and stir to combine
  • Press into tin and bake for approx. 20 minutes
  • Leave in tray to cool
  • Combine all icing ingredients and mix together
  • Whilst slice is still slightly warm, spread icing on top and sprinkle with more coconut

Om-nom-licious.

Chocoffee ganache tartlets

21 Apr

Chocoffee ganache tartlets

I don’t even know if “chocoffee” is a thing – if not, I call it!

Yeah, anyway… it best describes what this actually is, so I’m sticking with it. It’s technically not ‘mocha’.

I asked my husband to get me some dark chocolate to make ganache for the Caramel and Double Ganache Slice and the bright spark seemed to have forgotten how to read, or something, because he brought home Nestlé Club Espresso Crisp.  Basically coffee-flavoured chocolate with little crispy things in it.

After telling him what an idiot he was, I realised it would probably make a more interesting filling than plain dark chocolate.  (I ended up using some dark chocolate Easter eggs in the slice, and kept the coffee stuff for this recipe).

Chocoffee ganache tartlets

So here it is – super quick and easy; biscuit base with ganache filling.  If I had actually gone to any effort to plan these, I would have put a chocolate coated coffee bean on top, but since I hate coffee I don’t have anything like that just laying around (yes, I hate coffee, but this chocolate is yum).

Ingredients:

  • 250g packet Arnott’s Butternut Snap Cookies
  • 180g Nestlé Club Espresso Crisp chocolate
  • 90ml cream (with no gelatine or other thickeners)
  • 30g butter

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 180ºC
  • Place a biscuit over each hole of a patty pan (not a cupcake pan)
  • Bake for 3-5 minutes until softened, then press very gently into the shape of the pan
  • Leave to cool for a few minutes, so biscuits ‘set’ in curved shape
  • Repeat with next batch of biscuits and continue until they are all done
  • Chop chocolate into small pieces
  • Put cream and butter in a heatproof bowl/jug and microwave for 1 minute or until boiling
  • Add chocolate to hot cream and stir until combined (zap in microwave for 20 seconds if chocolate hasn’t fully melted)
  • Spoon the ganache into the biscuits

If you don’t have a patty pan, you can just warm the biscuits on a baking tray and curve them around a soup spoon.

I found I had one or two extra biscuits than ganache, so if you want it piled fairly high, I would add extra chocolate and cream (another 2 or 3 rows of chocolate should do it, plus proportionate amount of cream [choc 2:1 cream] – no need to add more butter).

Chocoffee ganache tartlets

These biscuits are notoriously tough to bite, but they do soften with a wet filling, so they’re easier to eat.

Yes, the ganache looks lumpy, but that is just the crispy bits in the chocolate, mmmkay?

Lemon cheesecake slice

17 Apr

Lemon cheesecake slice 

I got this recipe from a friend who absolutely raved about it.  I’ve never found a recipe as good as the $2 frozen cheesecakes at the supermarket, so I was like “yeah, ok, whatever” and in no hurry to try it.  However…

HOLY CRAP THIS IS SO GOOD!!

I am not a fan of baked cheesecake and prefer the chilled variety, and I have never tasted one as good as this.  Seriously.

It’s just a biscuit crumb base, a layer of cream cheese mixed with condensed milk and some fresh lemon juice, with a layer of whipped cream on top (yes, there is cream on top of the slice in those photos – I know it’s the same colour as the filling, but it’s definitely there).

I jigged it a little bit – here’s my version:

Ingredients:

  • 250g plain, sweet biscuits (crushed)
  • 125g butter (melted)
  • 250g cream cheese
  • 395g tin sweetened condensed milk
  • Juice of two lemons (approx 1/3 – 1/2 cup)
  • 2 tsp gelatine
  • 1 tbsp warm water
  • 150ml cream
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Method:

  • Combine crumbs and butter and press into the bottom of a 12″ x 12″ square tin (or similar – could also use a round springform tin to make a ‘cake’)
  • Refrigerate base
  • Mix cream cheese (preferably room temperature) until smooth
  • Continue mixing, and drizzle in condensed milk until combined
  • Put gelatine in warm water and allow to thicken
  • Drizzle in lemon juice and mix until combined
  • Add gelatine mixture and mix until combined
  • Spread cheese mixture over prepared base
  • Refrigerate slice
  • Whip cream, icing sugar and vanilla
  • Spread or pipe over top of slice

You could probably cut and serve immediately but it’s better if you can refrigerate it for at least a few hours, or overnight, before cutting.

If you want an extra lemon hit, add some rind somewhere (in base or cheese mixture, on top of cream, etc).

Lemon cheesecake slice

My tweaks to the recipe were as follows:

  • The addition of gelatine and water to the cheese mixture (mine was looking a little thin and I was worried it wouldn’t set properly)
  • Adding the icing sugar and vanilla to the cream (I always do this as I prefer the taste over plain whipped cream)
  • Using a biscuit crumb base (the recipe I was given used Lattice biscuits as the base, but I don’t like the idea of that at all!)

Now, pay attention, kids – you cannot just leave out the lemon juice if you don’t like lemon.  The lemon juice is actually the setting agent – if you leave it out, it will stay runny.  Lime juice should work fine, but orange juice will not.  If you want another flavour (I’m going to try plain old vanilla, soon), then you’ll need to up your gelatine to maybe 4-6 tsp.  Don’t take my word for it, because I haven’t tried it sans lemon yet…

Lemon cheesecake slice

I took this slice to work for a morning tea and pretty much everyone (even people I’ve never really spoken to before) commented on how good it was.  People were still mentioning it hours later.

You’re welcome.

Caramel slice with double chocolate ganache

13 Apr

Caramel double ganache slice

I haven’t made a slice for ages (who needs slice when there are cupcakes?!), but I thought I’d do something different for once.  Biscuit crumb base, caramel filling, then a layer of both white and dark chocolate ganache.

The only cooking required for these is to make the caramel and the ganache, both of which are very easy.

I went for ganache rather than just chocolate on top, as I hate the way the caramel squeezes out the middle when you try to bite or cut through the hard chocolate (yes, I know you can turn it upside down to cut… still doesn’t solve the biting problem – caramel is the main part of this, so it sucks when it all gets pushed out the sides).

Ingredients – base:

  • 250g any kind of sweet biscuits (I used Nice)
  • 125g butter, melted

Method:

  • Crush/process biscuits until you have fine crumbs
  • Combine the crumbs and butter
  • Press into the bottom of a tin (approx 7-9″ square or 7-9″ x 10-12″ rectangular) lined with baking paper
  • Refrigerate whilst preparing the filling and topping

Caramel double ganache slice

Ingredients – filling:

  • 1 x 395g tin condensed milk
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup
  • 30g butter

Method:

  • Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and cook until boiling, stirring constantly
  • Reduce heat and simmer for 6 minutes, stirring constantly
  • Remove from heat and stir for a few minutes to help it cool down
  • Pour over biscuit base and spread evenly
  • Return to fridge

Caramel double ganache slice

Ingredients – topping:

  • 140ml cream (must not contain any gelatin or other thickeners)
  • 140g dark chocolate
  • 210g white chocolate

Method:

  • Chop up white chocolate and put in a heatproof bowl
  • Bring 70ml cream just to the boil
  • Pour hot cream over chocolate and stir until chocolate has melted (I needed to zap mine in the microwave for 20 seconds as well)
  • Pour ganache over caramel layer and spread evenly
  • Chop up dark chocolate and put in a heatproof bowl
  • Bring the remaining 70ml cream just to the boil
  • Pour hot cream over chocolate and stir until chocolate has melted (the dark stuff was much runnier than the white)
  • Pour over white chocolate ganache layer and spread evenly

Variations:

  • Use one layer of ganache (it’s pretty rich!)
  • Marble the ganache, if you use more than one type/flavour
  • Use chocolate flavoured (not chocolate covered) biscuits for the base
  • Add a couple of tablespoons of coconut to the base mixture
  • Use a double batch of caramel if that is your favourite part, and a thin layer of ganache
  • Add chocolate chips to the caramel or base layer

I used a 9″ x 12″ pan so my caramel was pretty thin compared to the ganache.  Next time I might make it in a square pan, and only do the dark layer of ganache.

Went down very well in my house.  Will definitely make these again.

Ganache!

9 Apr

Every time I see the word ‘ganache’, I picture Buddy from Cake Boss saying it.  Guh-nash, guh-nosh, whatevs.  More like duh-lish, amirite?

Let’s move on, shall we.  Ganache – discuss:

  • Use cream with no gelatin or other thickening agents
  • Heat the cream to just before boiling point, then pour it over the chocolate (in a separate heatproof bowl)
  • Since white chocolate has a different melting point to dark chocolate, you need to adjust your chocolate:cream ratios – 2:1 for dark chocolate, and 3:1 for white chocolate
  • Popular in Australia for using under fondant (instead of buttercream)
  • Holds up pretty well
  • You can get really sharp, clean edges with it
  • You can whip ganache to make it light and fluffy (use a 1:1 ratio and let it sit out overnight, before whipping)
  • If you want a glossy look, add a tablespoon of butter
  • It keeps cakes moist by creating a seal
  • Doesn’t require refrigeration once applied
  • Leftovers (lol) can be frozen
  • Use a hot palette knife to smooth it out and sharpen edges
  • Don’t use white chocolate unless the cake will be in a cool or air-conditioned environment
  • At firmer consistency (think Nutella or peanut butter), it is used for spreading – can be used to both fill and cover a cake
  • At runnier consistency, can be used to pour over the top of a cake and run down the sides (it will firm up later – you may need two layers and it’s more likely to show up any imperfections in the cake – consider doing a crumb coat of firm ganache, then pouring the thinner ganache over top)
  • Can be used as a filling or topping in tarts, slices etc

Check back soon for my Caramel Slice with Double Chocolate Ganache!

Cherry Ripe cupcakes

6 Apr

Cherry Ripe cupcakes   

How do Cherry Ripes have so many haters?  They are full of chocolatey, coconutty, cherry goodness.  Look at that photo… how is that possibly wrong?!  That’s right, it totally isn’t.

Cherry Ripe cupcakes

That’s why I made these equally awesome Cherry Ripe cupcakes.  Chocolate cake (just a buttercake with half a cup of cocoa thrown in), Cherry Ripe chunks inside, a swirl of chocolate Duncan Hines canned frosting, and some slices of Cherry Ripe on top.

Cherry Ripe cupcakes

I did the whole thing where you break off the bottom of the cupcake and put it on top of the frosting, then eat it like a sandwich. I have to say, these just may be the best cupcakes I have ever had. And I’m a die-hard vanilla fan. Well played, Cherry Ripe, well played.