Tag Archives: Chocolate chip

A bare pantry, birthday cookies and the tumble dryer

Well that was an awkward silence. This feels like the first post in months (okay it actually is the first post in months – seems time flies when your having fun and drinking beer and of course moving across the world). So the blog has made the move with us to Canada from Pretoria in November, and the LiveInBaker has finally had some time amongst all the settling in, exploring, and getting dragged around by me taking in as much of the craft beer that can be found in our area as possible. However birthdays give rise to exceptions, and as such, this is the first BakedInPretoria post that hasnt been written in Pretoria, but rather comes to you from a cold and snowy Mississauga.

We arrived here with an empty pantry that would put even Mother Hubbard to shame – we have some basics in the fridge and pantry but certainly nothing that would be worthy of a birthday bake – and so the challenge was to find something to bake using what little was in the pantry, and not breaking the bank buying loads of ingredients. Might I add that all our bakeware, mixers and baking related kitchenware is sitting safely in storage somewhere in South Africa – and so challenge number two was to find something bake-able with the limited bakeware at the LiveInBakers disposal.

Now I wasn’t exactly privy to the LiveInBakers first attempt at baking here, instead being told that no I wasn’t in fact smelling anything to do with baking, and that I should calm down and go to sleep. Afterwards, once the cookies had been revealed, she had the following to say:

“First on my mind was to simply buy a box cake mix and ready frosting and throw together a birthday cake, but I wanted to make something a little more interesting than that. Maybe brownies using box cake mix but changing the ingredients around a little so that you have a dense, moist, gooey brownie – a little something like this
But I am embarrassed to say that we don’t even have a pan to bake the brownies in – but not to worry, another idea came to mind…ready-made cookie dough! With the help of the Pillsbury Dough Boy himself and a little inspiration from the recipe section, I decided to make:”

Birthday Cookies

Ingredients:

• 2/3 cup crunchy peanut butter (we always have peanut butter)
• ½ cup oats (our breakfast staple)
• 2 tablespoons canola oil
• 1 egg
• 1 roll of Pillsbury Choc chip cookie dough
• ¼ cup mini m&ms or chocolate chips
• ¼ cup raisins (we add these to our oats – cranberries/cherries/blueberries would work too)
• ¼ cup chopped salted pretzels (salted nuts would work well)
• 1 tumble dryer

Heat your oven to 350°F – yes our oven now works in Fahrenheit, but it’s about 180C. In a large bowl (now we don’t actually have a bowl, but do have a salad spinner, so it’s bowl was used) stir together the peanut butter, oats, oil and egg. Break up cookie dough and add it to peanut butter mixture. Add the m&ms, raisins and pretzels and stir until well mixed.

On ungreased baking sheets, drop heaped tablespoons of dough about 5cm apart. Press with fingers to flatten slightly.

Bake for 13 to 15 minutes or until golden brown and edges are just set (tops will not look done). Do not overbake. Cool for a few minutes until they are firm enough to handle and remove from baking sheets to cooling racks.

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Oh yes, and the tumble dryer, well the birthday cookies were a surprise and they needed to be put somewhere safe. There is no hiding place in this apartment – it is so small and absolutely every cupboard and drawer space is packed with our stuff. And so The LiveInBaker resorted to hiding the baked cookies (along with the other evidence in the form of leftover pretzels and m&ms) in the tumble dryer, knowing its the one place I was guaranteed not to look.

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Tag-team driving and Chocolate Chip Pretzel Squares

There are a number of ways young South African’s have come up with over the years to try to get home safe and sound after night out and having had one too many, pushing them just a little bit over the legal driving limit.

And no, just cause the glass you drink out of is 500mls, doesn’t mean that you can still only drink one glass of beer and still be below the limit.

I’ve heard of everything, from the thumb method, where the avid party goer, once in the car, grabs hold of the steering wheel and points both thumbs upwards towards the roof. The idea is simple, if you’re pointing both thumbs up, you’re going straight. Anywhere else and you’re in trouble.

Then there’s the sneak method, wherein the driver chooses to use back roads to avoid and sneaky police roadblocks, and sneaks stealthily (as if a Toyota Tazz can do anything stealthily) across the busier intersections.

And then, when things go really bad, and you’ve been caught by the infamous sneaky road-block, many people turn to their trusted “Fisherman’s Friend” breath mints, in the hope of fooling the breathalyzer.

The best method, obviously, is to ensure that you don’t go over the legal alcohol limit if you’re going to be driving, and while most people seem to get this correct, there are times when other plans are needed.

Hence our invention, the tag-team drive home.

The concept is simple, a quiet discussion as to who would like to drive from which event. In our case, a Craft Beer Festival held in the early afternoon for me, and a house-warming party in the late evening for the LiveInBaker. These happened to be on the same day, so there was much coffee being consumed between the events, as well as one hectic power nap.

It’s an almost fool-proof system, except for the hangover which comes early if you’re going to be the late night driver. But I’m sure that it is a lot less painful than a weekend spent in the local “Chookie” (prison).

Oh yes, there are also more tangible rewards, it means that the LiveInBaker volunteers to bake some pretty amazing treats to ensure there’s enough energy for the drive home:

Chocolate Chip Pretzel Squares

Ingredients:

For the squares:

  • 500ml flour;
  • 5ml bicarbonate of soda;
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt;
  • 170g butter, softened
  • 185ml brown sugar;
  • 100ml white sugar;
  • 2 large eggs;
  • 10ml vanilla extract
  • 375ml coarsely chopped pretzels;
  • 3 slabs of Albany (Dark) chocolate; chopped into chunks.

Topping:

  • 2 slabs of Albany chocolate, broken up;
  • 125ml cream;
  • 24 whole pretzel pieces.
Chocolate Pretzel Squares

This is the size I thought we should leave the square

Preheat your oven to 180C.  With waxing paper, line a 20 x 25 cm metal baking pan.
Combine the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt in a bowl.  With a handheld electric mixer, beat the butter and both sugars until light and fluffy.  Beat in the eggs and vanilla.  Add the dry ingredients.  Stir in the chocolate chunks and chopped pretzels. Spoon dough into the baking dish.

Chocolate Pretzel Squares

The cutting begins

Bake for 25 – 30 minutes or until golden and just set. Once done, transfer the pan to a rack and let it cool completely.

While cooling, you can get started on the topping or ganache.

Place chocolate in a glass Pyrex dish.  Heat the cream on the stove top until scalding (or bubbles from around the edge). Pour the heated cream over the chocolate, and cover with a lid. Leave it as is for 5 minutes, before stirring until well melted and combined.  Let it stand for another 10 minutes to thicken.

Chocolate Pretzel Squares

Busy choosing my piece

Pour over the top of your giant pretzel square and use a pallet knife to even out the ganache. Press the pretzels, evenly spaced, into the ganache. Leave it to set completely.

Once set, remove from the pan, and cut into 24 even squares, so that there is a whole pretzel in the middle of each square.

Take one and eat it for yourself, and once done, serve to everyone else.

Chocolate Pretzel Squares

This recipe was inspired by The Ginger Snap Girl, her blog is awesome so go check it out.

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Easter French Toast

I think that no one will deny that leftovers should be recognised as a food category of their own.

Whether its left over steak on a roll, or left over wors on a roll, or even left over potato salad on a roll (normally for breakfast), I like nothing more than some leftovers for breakfast. In fact the thought of having the leftovers for breakfast the next day is one of the few things which can actually keep me from finishing my supper in one go (or making sure that the LiveInBaker’s leftovers are securely stored in the fridge the night before).

With my Easter egg stash quickly dwindling to a couple of marshmallow eggs, and a single hen’s egg, I knew something drastic had to be done.

Our solution: To turn the almost stale hot-cross buns into french toast.

I give you:

Hot-cross bun french toast

Ingredients:

  • hot cross buns
  • 2 eggs
  •  Quarter cup of milk
  • 2 tablespoons of castor sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla essence
  • dark chocolate chips
  • Ice cream

Start by cutting each of your hot-cross buns in half. The recipe which was our inspiration suggested slicing each bun in 3’s, but the hot-cross buns we get in South Africa seem already to thin for this to work. Once cut, press dark chocolate chips into the bottom half of the bun. And the rule of thumb here, is the more the better.

The more chocolate chips the better

Put the two halves of the bun back together, and squeeze tightly together with your hands.

They might resemble little burgers, but not in taste!

Get your egg dip ready by beating together the egg, milk, sugar and vanilla. Dip each hot cross bun into the egg dip, making sure that each side of the bun is coated in dip, but be careful not to let the dip soak into the bun too much.

Heat up some oil in a frying pan, over a low heat. Place the buns into the oil, and flip after around 4 minutes (but use your discretion here, as the size of the bun seems to dictate how long to fry for).  Flip over and cook for the same amount on the other side. Try to flip each bun only once.

The sugar burns easily, so be careful

It looked like we may have burnt the buns, but then realised that the sugar in the egg dip together with the jam glaze already on the buns, caramalised before the bun is properly cooked. But don’t worry, they didn’t taste burnt at all. Once you’ve added your scoop of ice-cream to the top, no one will even notice. We had a secret weapon, a couple of scoops of Eastern Fusion from Royal Danish Home Made Ice-Cream. We only discovered this ice cream store, making home-made ice-cream in Pretoria, the day before but we don’t think it will be the last time we visit it. And the fact that they are open late into the night, can only mean bad news for any anticipated diets.

If you’re in Pretoria, I would really recommend stopping here for a sugar cone, or 10.

But back to the hot-cross buns, they actually came out really well, despite us thinking that we’d burnt them.

And ice-cream saves the day!

Oh and if you would like to see the inspiration behind our recipe, have a look here.

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New years hangover cure

New Years eve is overrated.

I don’t know about everyone else, but I’ve really found that no matter how epic a new years that is planned, it normally comes out the exact opposite. This might have something to do with the fact that I refuse to queue for 2 things in life, these being for beer and for the loo! Strange that these 2 things might be linked, I know.

So instead of heading out for “The most amazing party of the year”, over the past few years we’ve rather resorted to making sure that the cooler bag is full, the braai is lit, and the pudding is made.

Our pudding of choice for New Years Eve 2011:

Moch Chocolate Cheese Cake Continue reading

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If we can “bake” it in New York, we can “bake” it anywhere!

So they say that absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Well it also makes the stomach emptier!

While working in New York, and not having seen the LIB for three months, I decided to ship the LIB over. So after a 17 hour flight, the LIB had crossed the Atlantic ocean for the first time, and was experiencing what it feels like live in a first world country (the LIB actually just squashed a spider with my empty beer bottle “welcome to the third world”).

Growing up in the Free State notorious for its lack of hills or any other notable terrain feature which might interrupt any television signals, we still only had one TV channel available to us. This channel was, surprisingly enough, refered to as TV 1. I remember spending countless hours as a kid watching re-runs of American sitcoms, where a common theme was ready-made Cookie Dough.

Continue reading

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