Tag Archives: Chocolate

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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Power to the People – Cherry and Chocolate Banana Loaf

Amandla!

Amandla!

Even in sunny South Africa, it is scary as to how reliant we have become on a consistent supply of electricity.

For a nation that prides itself on its ability to rough and enjoy it, you’d be amazed at how quickly panic sets in as soon as the power is cut-off. Okay to be fair, even the toughest of people will balk at the thought of facing 35C temperatures without even the smallest of working air-conditioners to take the edge off of it. And of course, it is perfectly acceptable to be brought to tears when your television cuts out due to a power outage right before a Brian Habana intercept try! But no one wants to face an Atterbury intersection, let alone Grayston, to be met by a set of blank traffic lights.

But as long as you can finish drinking all the beers before they get warm, you will make it through!

The LiveInBaker was recently busy with a boredom induced bake, when much to her horror, and with a very disappointing “click”, the kitchen was plunged into darkness. We were in the middle of another Eskom black-out.

But we were prepared for this, and with a swift and rather stylishly performed pull, the cover was removed from our outdoor gas braai, the valve was carefully opened, and two burners quickly lit, combining two of the best three words starting with B (or are there actually 4 words?) – Bake and Braai!

Cherry and Chocolate Banana Loaf – Braai’d

Ingredients:

  • 125ml butter;
  • 200ml brown sugar;
  • 3 bananas, mashed;
  • 180ml milk;
  • 2 extra-large eggs;
  • 500ml cake flour;
  • 3ml bicarbonate of soda;
  • 3ml baking powder;
  • 5ml vanilla essence
  • 100g dark chocolate bar, roughly chopped up;
  • 80g Maraschino cherries, chopped and dabbed dry with paper towel

Preheat your “oven” (or in this case gas braai) to 180C and Spray-and-cook a 10×20 cm loaf tin.

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the mashed banana and mix lightly.

Beat the milk and eggs together, and sift the dry ingredients together.

Cherry and Chocolate Banana Loaf

The moment before the power outage.

Add the egg mixture to the butter mixture, alternating with the dry ingredients. Make sure to mix well. Add the vanilla essence and fold in the chocolate and Maraschino cherries.

Turn the batter into the prepared loaf tin.

Normally you would then bake in the oven for around 1 hour.

However thanks to the wonder that is Eskom, the electricity cut out 5 minutes into said hour.

Cherry and Chocolate Banana Loaf

Yes, that is a gas braai in the background

However, the LiveInBaker’s abilities continue to amaze me, and as quick as a flash, she was out of the door and had the gas braai lit, with the 2 outside burners burning on a low gas setting, with the temperature gauge slowly creeping towards 180C. Before this moment I wasn’t even sure that she new where the braai was kept, let alone how to operate it.

Cherry and Chocolate Banana Loaf

Two slices for you and the rest for me!

Place the tin over the centre burner (so that you are cooking through induction and not direct heat), close the lid, and keep a close eye on your temperature gauge. When the top of the bread is golden brown and a testing skewer comes out clean, your banana bread is ready.

One tip we have learnt, is that you need to get the bread tin off the braai grid, as the grid itself gets hot and left the base of our banana bread a little bit more crispy than we would have liked. Next time we’ll put an inverted baking tin underneath the bread tin to get it away from this heat.

Cherry and Chocolate Banana Loaf

The finished loaf

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Redemption and Soft Gooey Chocolate Cake

So the LiveInbaker has been forgiven.

Miraculously, some of the cake that the LiveInBaker made has survived a week (pushing a new record) and has made its way back to me.

Unfortunately, it made it back at the end of a day filled with an assortment of puddings, and so all I have been able to eat is a small square from the corner. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as this cake is so decadent, that not even the lowest of cholesterol levels can survive its assault.

But it is good enough that it can get even the most heinous of baking crimes forgiven.

Soft and gooey chocolate cake:

Ingredients:

  • 250g plain chocolate;
  • 225g unsalted butter;
  • 80g golden syrup;
  • 5 eggs;
  • 175g caster sugar;
  • 55g plain flour.

Preheat your oven to 150C. Spray and cook a 23cm springform cake tin and then base line (which is to cover the base of the springform tin with baking paper, not something a DJ would drop at a club).

Gooey Chocolate Cake

Ready for melting

Melt the chocolate, butter and golden syrup using a double boiler. Once melted allow it to cool a bit before stirring until smooth.

Gooey Chocolate Cake

Fight the temptation to eat it just yet

In another large bowl, stir together the eggs, caster sugar and flour until the mixture is smooth. Stir in the cooled chocolate mixture and pour into the prepared tin.

Bake for 25-30 minutes (the cake will have a slight wobble in the middle). Remove from the oven and leave in the tin to cool.

Gooey Chocolate Cake

Almost ready

Once the cake has chilled a bit, remove the sides of the springform tin but leave the cake on the base and chill for around an hour in the fridge. The LiveInBaker actually made this the day before it was needed, so we just left it on the kitchen counter for around 24 hours in an airtight container (once it was completely cool). This results in the best end product. It should be firm enough to slip off the base of the tin when ready.

Gooey Chocolate Cake

Ready for eating

As weird as it sounds, the cake is best served with sour cream. Don’t question it, just do it.

Warning, this cake is dense and decadent, so when serving, rather go for thinner slices than you might normally, or risk putting your guests into a mammoth food coma!

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Spring Day hangover – Chocolate drizzled Biscotti

Spring is back in Pretoria! After one insane winter – okay in fairness there was only really one cold month, but it did snow during that month (the first time snow was seen in the city since 1968) which I suppose does make it a pretty special winter. But 1 September saw every warm-blooded Pretoria male donning their favorite pair of shorts. This is code for an uncomfortable amount of middle-aged men walking around in old rugby shorts, grease stains and all.

In true Pretoria style, everyone had their own way of celebrating planned. Ours this year being to drink more white wine than we have since drinking became legal (legal for us that is, not the world). Oh yes, if I remember correctly, there was dinner involved as well.

As we are such good planners, we had the post night out hangover breakfast planned and taken care of, thanks to the LiveInBaker. She did explain that these rusk-like “biscotti” were tasty, and a sneaky way of getting some early fruit in, but I couldn’t fail to miss the fact that there was more chocolate than anything else on them. But don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. Really I’m not!

Walnut and Cranberry Biscotti:

Ingredients:

  • 300g cake flour;
  • 150g castor sugar;
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder;
  • quarter teaspoon salt;
  • 3 eggs;
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla essence
  • 75g walnuts;
  • 75g dried cranberries;
  • dark chocolate to drizzle over.

Start by combining all the dry ingredients together (except the nuts and dried fruit) in a large mixing bowl. Whisk the eggs with the vanilla essence, and mix together with the dry ingredients. You should be left with a sticky dough. Lastly mix in the walnuts and the dried cranberries.

Divide the dough into 2, and form each one into a log shape, 25cm long and 5cm wide.

Bake each log in the oven (pre-heated to 150 degree celsius) for 40 minutes or until they are a light golden colour.

Immediately remove from the oven, and cut across the log so that you are left with slices that are between 1 to 2 cm thick.

Lay the slices on their side on a baking tray, and bake in the oven for 10 – 15 minutes or until the visible side is a light golden colour. Flip the slices over and bake for the same amount of time.

Remove from the oven and let the slices cool. We melted some dark chocolate and drizzled it over the slices. This is not compulsory but is highly recommended.

Once cooled, pack away into a convenient air tight container as quickly as you can. I find my stomach works well for this.

Read our first attempt at making Biscotti.

Drinking with this recipe:

I don’t really remember what we drank the night before, except that it was white and crisp, and there might have been a rosé involved as well, but with this recipe we were only drinking coffee, strong coffee!

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It’s Freedom Day, so feel free to indulge

Freedom Day 2012 saw South Africa having its 18th birthday since our first free and fair elections. So for the first time, the country is allowed to legally buy itself a beer (no more sneaking a few sips from its parents’ drinks), and finally can ditch that ridiculous learners licence and take the car out for a spin completely unsupervised (with much wheel spinning and racing other youths from traffic light to traffic light). It might even volunteer to be the designated driver now, just once in a while.

It’s also time for the country to start making some serious decisions, like what it’s really going to do with the rest of its life, and whether its going to make the big move to a university near the coast, or stick in land where things are a little faster and a little tougher. And if it’s going to buy those text books it needs, or if it’s rather going to save the money for something more important, like a crate of beer for the weekend?

The country might even think of entering into its first serious relationship, no longer messing around with silly child-like crushes.

It’s parents might sit it down, and explain that it’s about time that it finds a place of its own to stay, and to remind it that it is probably not okay to have breakfast for supper, even though that milk and cereal is just about the only meal it knows how to make without seriously stuffing it up.

The country, like most teenagers when they finally turn 18, probably thinks it’s really the man, but it won’t take long to find out its back at the bottom of the ladder, and that there are a lot bigger countries out there able and willing to put it in its place with a quick snot-klap.

But that’s all not its problem at the moment. Right now it really just needs to worry about how bad its first proper birthday hangover is going to be!

So to celebrate its birthday, and to celebrate the end of the countries high school year, we made:

Chocolate, Pretzel and Peanut Butter Squares

Ingredients:

  • 170g butter, at room temperature;
  • 250ml light brown sugar;
  • 125ml sugar;
  • 2 large eggs;
  • 2 tsp. vanilla;
  • 500ml cake flour;
  • 1 tsp. bicarbanate of soda;
  • ½ tsp. salt;
  • 100g milk chocolate (in slabs);
  • 170g of dark chocolate (in slabs);
  • 375ml mini pretzels, coarsely broken;
  • 60ml crunchy peanut butter;
  • 45g dark chocolate, either disks or a slab broken for melting.

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Spray & cook, and line a square 23cm baking tin with wax paper.

Hot out of the oven.

In a large bowl, beat the butter with both sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. Add the flour, bicarbanate of soda and salt and stir until almost combined. Add the dark and milk chocolate (both roughly broken up) and 250ml of the pretzel pieces and stir until blended.

Spread the batter evenly in the pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden. In a small double boiler, melt the peanut butter and remaining dark chocolate, stirring until smooth. Sprinkle the bars with the remaining crushed pretzel pieces and drizzle with the peanut butter-chocolate mixture.

The LiveInBaker uses a big knife, mostly to keep me from sneaking bits.

Allow to cool until set, then cut into squares. Make sure it is properly set and cool, otherwise the cutting part can get a bit messy (but that is all part of the fun I guess).

If you are making these to share, ensure you keep a few for yourself, as you are definitely going to want as many as you can get your hands on.

If you are on some sort of diet, you are going to need to wait for your day off, as these are seriously decadent, and seriously delicious.

These two were left at home, for our midnight snack!

Happy Birthday South Africa! Here’s looking forward to you entering your twenties!

To see the recipe that inspired this, look here.

If you liked this, why don’t you follow on twitter:

or “like” our Facebook page.

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If you’re going to drink out of a bottle, you might as well eat out of a glass

When it comes to certain types of food, I think I am really old school. For example fruit is not something that I think should be in a dessert, but rather something to be eaten only when trying to avoid a doctor. I also don’t really classify anything as dessert unless there is some sort of chocolate involved, even if it means me running down to the petrol station to buy said chocolate. But as they say, change is as good as a holiday, and so sometimes even I need to take a break from my usual chocolate-centered pudding.

The last time this happened, the LIB was ready with a recipe. Though I think it was more her addiction to cheese cake that led her to this recipe, and not my latest chocolate detox. The dessert we made, while not originally being described as a cheesecake, does definitely have a hint of cheesecake flavour, with a nice bite of lemon to go with it:

Layered Lemon (cheese)cake Cups:

Ingredients:

  • Madeira Cake – 1 loaf is enough to serve 4 people
  • Lemon Curd – we used a ready prepared one from Pick ‘n Pay
  • Lemon Sugar Syrup (detail below)
  • Icing (detail below)

Lemon Syrup

  • Juice and zest of half a lemon
  • Half a cup of sugar
  • Half a cup of water

Icing:

  • 62.5g of softened butter
  • Half a cup of icing sugar, sifted
  • 230g of plain cream cheese
  • 10ml fresh lemon juice

Do these qualify as rejects?

For the lemon syrup: heat the water, sugar, lemon juice and zest together until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and let it cool.

The icing is loaded and ready to go

For the icing: Cream (which has been explained to me as “just blend them well to make an even, homogeneous texture without lumps and blots” – thanks Google) the butter and sugar together. Then lightly whisk in the cream cheese, or if you’re impatient just mix it in using a spatula. Just be careful not to over mix. Mix in the lemon juice, again you can use the spatula. Chill in a fridge to thicken while preparing the rest of the pudding.

This might be the most awesome icing machine ever!

For the cakes, cut the cake into 1.5 cm thick slices length wise. The LIB uses a rather fancy cake slicer to do this (looks like a giant cheese slicer). Use whichever container you’ll be using to cut out the correct size and shape of cake. We used glass tumblers for this. Don’t worry about any excess cake, as someone is bound to walk past and eat them (most likely me). Then start assembling the cake, in the following pattern: place 1 round of the cake into the bottom of your tumbler, add a drizzle of the syrup, and pipe a layer of the cream cheese icing on top. Add 10mls of lemon curd and then repeat the entire pattern. You can do as many levels as you like, just make sure you end the cycle with a cream cheese icing layer.

Can I have mine yet?

Don’t waste your time garnishing, just bang them into a fridge to stay cool, and serve them either cool or at room temperature.

And if you can control yourself, these do taste a whole lot better the next day, once the flavours have had a chance to combine properly.

The LIB said that if she would change anything about this recipe, it’s that she wouldn’t cut the cake into smaller container shaped pieces, and would instead assemble as one large loaf. And because this pudding tastes so damn good, I’m more than happy for her to try again.

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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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Sunburn, sounds and Rice Krispie bars

As a kid, I remember one of the most important things to get done in summer, was to get the first sun-burn of the year done and out of the way. Yeah I know there were the risks of skin damage and all that, but we were young, and based on the amount of time we spent around the pool (normally from around sun up to sun set) some sort of sun-burn was inevitable. And just like when pulling off a plaster, our thinking was always to do it quick, fast and properly. With the first bad sun-burn of the year behind you, you could get on and enjoy the rest of your summer.

Extreme measures to stay protected from the sun

Now that I’m older and, have convinced people, wiser, I don’t intentionally get sun-burnt, but every year it normally happens, and there is normally beer in varying quantities mixed into the equation. I’m blaming this particular sun-burn on and a good dose of Mitchell’s Old Wobbly Lager, which went down like mother’s milk. A couple of hours later, and I had a champion makro tan coming along (famously named after the security guards at the store of the same name, from standing too long in the sun wearing shorts and short sleeve shirts, while maintaining the pasty white complexion underneath). But after queuing to get into the KONGOS concert at the Voortrekker concert, there was no way I was gonna let a little sun burn slow me down. That and the LiveInBaker and I had also spent the better half of a day working out how we were going to sneak all our goodies into the event. And by sneak I really just mean find enough hands to carry it all.

The LiveInBaker normally makes something sweet to eat at these concerts, and she definitely didn’t disappoint this time, though in her words it was just something simple that she had quickly thrown together.

Continue reading

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In the spirit of giving, give fudge!

We like to get into the Christmas spirit early.

Maybe this is due to the mass marketing that most stores seem to adopt, from around the end of October, but it could also be because when it comes to Christmas, you can never be too old to get excited. I still can’t sleep the night before Christmas, and apparently its no longer okay that I wake the whole house up at 6 am on Christmas day.

But with the end of the year, comes the inevitable end of year Christmas parties. Some of these are tamer than others, but when I say tamer I am actually just referring to the severity of the hangover the next day.

The LIB was asked to make some gifts for one of these Christmas parties. On the recipe stand this time, was chocolate fudge and roasted cinnamon almonds.

First up, the chocolate fudge. Now bear with me on the instructions, as this is quite a complicated recipe, not for the ingredients necessarily, but more for the technical nature of actually making fudge.

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Death by Brownie!

Everyone has their own, preferred method of leaving this world.

Some people would like to go quietly into the night, some people would like to go out in a blaze of glory. Some people would like to see it coming, some people would like it to come in their sleep. I’ve even heard of someone who, when the time comes, has planned on buying a corvette, and flipping it on the highway.

Me? I see it coming, with a mild case of heartburn, and a couple of brownie crumbs on my lips.

Speaking about leaving this world, I think that the LIB was actually trying to get rid of me (maybe she has finally had enough of my snoring).

I should’ve known when I didn’t even need to ask for the latest creation to come out of the LIB’s kitchen.

In fact the first I knew about these was when I received a message from the LIB, saying that she was not sure how much longer she could go without eating one.

And her weapon of choice: Seriously Decadent Chocolate Brownies.

Continue reading

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