Easter chocolate crunchies

Easter chocolate crunchies

easter-chocolateThese are something a little different for Easter and are so incredibly delicious you will be hard pressed to find anything quite like them. Anything made is so much better than bought and these will be appreciated by anyone receiving them. They are really simple to make and the family will love them.

What you need

280g plain chocolate
100g butter
80g crunchies (honeycomb chocolate bars)
80g digestive biscuits
100g white chocolate
grease proof paper (wax paper)

The process

First off, place the crunchies and the white chocolate in the fridge to get brittle, then give them a few taps with a rolling pin or mallet to crack them into smallish pieces and set aside.

Melt the butter in a pot over a medium to low heat, and add the plain chocolate broken up and allow to melt, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat ad allow to cool.

Add the pieces of broken up chocolate bars and and biscuits, stir gently to combine evenly.

Place a large sheet of baking paper on your kitchen counter and spoon out the mixture into a log shape about 30cm long along the middle of the sheet.

Roll the paper over the chocolate log and twist the ends until the log is quite tight and a nice round shape.

Place in the fridge for about 2 hours until set, then remove the paper and cut into slices about 1cm thick.

Eat your heart out!

Mango salsa

Mango salsa

mango-salsa

Mango salsa

While the weather is still so warm I thought I would do a real old favorite which is great with fish, chicken or even on the side of a curry. You can quite easily substitute the mango with pawpaw for something a little different. I often add other things like finely chopped pears to it when having with pork chops or a red chili finely sliced when having chicken breasts, so this is a base for you to start from, then just follow your taste buds.(enough for 4 people)

What you need

1 large ripe mango
3 spring onions finely chopped (you can use 1/2 a onion finely chopped)
palm of flatleaf parsley chopped
1/2 red pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
squeeze of lemon
pinch of salt

The process

Cut the mango into small cubes, finely slice the spring onion or chop the onion, red pepper, and parsley and add to a bowl.

Mix them up to combine the flavors. (If you are adding anything extra do it now)

sprinkle over a teaspoon of sugar and a pinch of salt, squeeze over some lemon juice and gently mix to coat everything in the little juice.

Taste and season accordingly then place in the fridge covered until you need it.

Tip: The best way to cube a mango is to cut as close as possible on either side of the pip so you have 2 pieces with skin still on. Then there are 2 methods to remove the flesh.

1. Work a spoon along the inside of the skin to loosen the flesh and remove, chop it up.

2. Cut the flesh toward the skin lengthways and then horizontally to form a criss cross pattern being careful not to cut through the skin, then turn the skin up by pressing your thumbs into the base of the skin exposing the cubes, run a knife along the skin to remove. (Your kids may know these as hedgehogs- easiest way to eat a mango)

Cheese blintz

Cheese blintz

cheese-blintz

Cheese blintz

Cheese blintzes are a jewish delicacy which I just love. They are simple to make and can be eaten as a tea time snack, breakfast or anytime really. Like most home cooked food, it’s best to eat them straight away.

What you need

6 eggs
3 cups cold water from the fridge
1/2 teaspoonsalt
3 tablespoons oil
1/2 cup self raising flour

Filling

500 g chream cheese
1 egg
1 tablespoon castor sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 tablespoon lemon juice
zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon caster sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon powder

The process

Combine the eggs, oil, water and flour together in a bowl and mix to a smooth batter.

Filling

Combine all of the filling ingredients together and mix with a metal spoon until evenly combined.

Heat a pan to medium and add a splash of oil, place enough of the batter mixture in the pan to coat the bottom nice and thinly, cook until the top is dry and flip over for a few seconds.

Once you have used all of the batter, take each (pancake) and place a heaped tablespoon of the filling into the center of the pancake, fold in half, then fold in the edges and roll to complete the blintz. repeat until you have used all of the mixture.

Place the completed blintzes in the fridge to cool and then heat about 2 cm of oil in a pan and fry them to golden brown.

To serve dust with caster sugar and serve immediately.

They make a fantastic breakfast served with fruit or a fruit coulis. Try them with honey or anyhing sweet.

Sticky toffee sauce

Sticky toffee sauce

sticky toffee sauce

Sticky toffee sauce

I have so many great memories of sticky toffee pudding from the Dullstroom hotel to pubs and restaurants in England, so I went out to find a great recipe. It was easier than I thought and then made the pudding even easier with a bought sponge cake. This is excellent to deal with a sweet craving and the quickest hot dessert when you are at a loss and just don’t want to spend much time in the kitchen.

Your guests will never know if you use a bought sponge smothered in this fabulous sauce. They will ask for the recipe so be prepared.

What you need

100g butter
100ml brown sugar
100ml thick cream
100ml golden syrup

(If you like a lot of sauce, just use the principle of equal amounts of everything)

The process

Add all of the ingredients to a pot and heat until all of the sugar is dissolved and the sauce is golden and shiny.

Take the sponge cake, cut into pieces and pack into an oven dish, much like you would if you are making a bread and butter pudding.

Pour over the hot sauce and let it sit for about 5 minutes before serving so that the cake absorbs the sauce. Serve it with whipped cream, custard or just as it is.

Simple and a winner every time!

I have tried it with vanilla, chocolate and coffee sponge cakes before and it’s really good with any of them.

If you want to make something from scratch the easy malva pudding is simply fantastic.

Pears with walnuts

Pears with walnuts

pears and walnut

Pear Walnut Dessert

These are good as a dessert and are also really great with strong cheeses or as part of a cold summer lunch platter of cheeses, cold meats and salads. I saw Nigella do these and they were so simple I just had to try them and must say they are really fantastic.

There are a whole lot of fabulous Dessert recipes for you to try in the Desserts section, give a few a try.

What you need

2 or 3 pears cut into 8ths
125ml marsala
2 tablespoons honey
Handful of unsalted walnuts

The process

Wash and dry the pears and cut into 8ths.

Brown them in a non stick pan on a medium heat with a tiny bit of oil.

Combine the Marsala and honey together, mix and pour into the pan with the pears. Allow to simmer until the pears are soft and the sauce has turned a little sticky.

Remove the pears and add the walnuts. Toss the walnuts to coat with the sticky sauce and heat through.

Remove and combine with the pears.

They become very stick and seriously delicious.

Try some of the other fruit Desserts or the festive entertaining recipes

Meringues

Meringues

meringues

Meringues

Meringues are the one of my other favorites that can become any number of desserts or sweet things to munch on. I have made thousands of meringues over the years and this is how I do it. If you like meringues and have never made an Eton Mess, you are missing out on something very special. Check out the easy Eton mess recipe.

What you need

3 egg whites

3/4 cup castor sugar

The process

Separate the eggs and place the whites in a large glass bowl. Mix with an electric beater on low until they are frothy, then turn the speed up to the highest you have and mix until the whites are creamy and stiff.

You will know they are ready for the sugar when you remove the beaters and the whites form a peak that does not fall over. Now add the castor sugar in 4 equal amounts beating on fast until the mixture shines. It will look luxurious and you will be tempted to dive in straight away.

Line a baking tray with grease proof paper and make mounds of about 2 tablespoons for each meringue or if you have a piping bag, pipe them about 4/5 cm high.

The trick is this. Heat the oven to 140 Celsius, place the meringues in the middle of the oven, close the door and turn down to 120 Celsius immediately. Bake for 45 minutes, then turn the oven off and allow the meringues to cool completely in the oven (about 2 hours). this dries them out and gives you an even crunch with no gooey bits in the center.

Serve with cream and strawberries or whip some cream and stick the meringues together in a pyramid shape with the cream and dot with strawberries on the outside.

Easy apricot crumble

Easy apricot crumble

fresh fruit

Apricot Crumble

This is a classic and very quick dessert that is very versatile. You can add a few strawberries or goosberries as well for a change and the crumble topping comes out with a nice crunch that is sweet and so very moreish.

What you need

15-20 fresh apricots
2-3 tablespoons castor sugar

180g soft butter (room temp)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
100g castor sugar
200g flour

The process

Halve and remove the seeds from the apricots, then place in an oven proof dish that has been lightly buttered, sprinkle over the 2 tablespoons castor sugar and bake at 180 Celsius for about 5 minutes to soften them up slightly while you make the crumble.

Add all of the crumble ingredients together and rub the butter in with your hands.

The crumble topping should be fairly course but not dry.

Cover the apricots with the crumble mixture and bake for a further 20-25 minutes until the crumble begins to brown.

Serve with ice cream or double thick cream.

There is an easy apple crumble recipe or perhaps you will like the Easy Apple Pie recipe

Fantastic french toast

Fantastic french toast

gourmet french toast

When last did you make French toast? It’s so simple and a real treat that should be doused with syrup. Make more than you would normally, this is a real hit and not for the weight conscious.
What you need

2 eggs
2 tablespoons caster sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
1 tin evaporated milk (it makes all the difference)
Butter for frying

Thick cut bread slices about 2-3cm thick (use white bread like french loaf or a sweet bread like Kitke)

Fruit and syrup to top it off

The process

Beat the eggs in a bowl, add the caster sugar, vanilla essence and evaporated milk and whisk together well. You want most of the caster sugar to dissolve.

Place the bread pieces in batches in a shallow dish and pour over the mixture, turning them to coat well.

Heat a pan to medium and melt some butter and cook the bread until golden brown with a few dark areas on the edges. if your pan is too hot the bread will not heat through and the outside will burn.

Serve immediately with fruit slices and a good amount of syrup.

It’s heaven, take my word for it.

Sticky toffee pudding

Sticky toffee pudding

sticky toffee sauce

Sticky toffee pudding always reminds me of the old Dullstroom hotel which I spent many, many fantastic weekends visiting in the 80’s and 90’s. Hot gooey and unbelievably good, you just have to try this one.

What you need

Cake mixture

1 1/3 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
100g treacle sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
75ml melted butter

Toffee Sauce

120g soft butter
200g treacle sugar
250ml cream

The process

In a large bowl, sift the flour, add the sugar, salt and combine well.

In another bowl, add the milk, eggs, vanilla essence and melted butter. Whisk together until you get a slight froth on the top.

Add the liquid to the dry ingredients and mix well.

Pour into a buttered baking dish and bake at 180 Celsius for 40 minutes until the cake is firm to the touch.

The sauce

Add all of the ingredients to a pot and simmer for 5 minutes or so over a medium heat.

I prefer to pour sauce over the individual servings but you can also poke holes into the cake and pour it over the top as it comes out of the oven and let it soak in.

It’s very rich and should serve 6 people no problem.

Hot chocolate brownie dessert

Hot chocolate brownie dessert

chocolate brownies

Hot Chocolate Brownie Dessert

Hot chocolate brownies and cream anyone? This has got to be the ultimate winter feel good dessert. It’s hot, its gooey and it’s choclate….

What you need

100g butter
100g dark chocolate chopped
175g caster sugar
2 eggs beaten
80g flour
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 cup milk chocolate drops

The process

Lightly grease a small cake tin (20cm) or 8 ramekins and line the base with grease proof paper.

In a pot over a low heat melt the butter, add the dark chocolate and stir until completely melted and remove from the heat.

Add the caster sugar and stir, add the beaten eggs, sift in the flour and cocoa powder and stir to combine. You don’t want to mix it thoroughly.

Lastly, fold in the chocolate drops and pour into the tin or ramekins.

Bake in a 180 Celsius oven for about 20 minutes.

The tops should be quite firm but not hard. Let them cool slightly and then turn them out and serve with a good amount of thick jersey cream or ice cream.