Tag Archives: Sugar

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.

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Christmas in July Sugar Cookies

Fake Christmas sucks!
Yeah sure the food is amazing, there’s always more than enough drinks, and the company is normally not too bad either.
Okay, maybe its a bit more than amazing.
But for some reason there aren’t any presents. What the hell?
It takes a lot to get me out of bed before the sun rises, and this normally only happens a couple of times a year, and most of those times involve gifts of some kind. The other times, early morning rugby games. Maybe someone forgot to send Santa the memo, but for our Christmas in July, he definitely forgot to deliver the gifts.

I will be addressing this oversight on his part (and I am sure that he is very sorry), in writing, when I send him my annual Christmas wish list.

But cowboys don’t cry, so I got over my disappointment, and got into helping the LiveInBaker with the preparations for our first Christmas in July dinner. And on the recipe stand this time:

Fake Christmas Sugar Cookies:

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups (375 ml) butter, softened
  • 1 cup (250 ml) sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. (5 ml) vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 cups (875 ml) cake flour
  • Coloured sugar / sprinkles / edible glitter (optional)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 190°C. In large mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed of an electric mixer for about 3 minutes or until creamy. Add egg and vanilla and beat well. Add flour and mix on low-speed until just blended.

Shape the dough into 2 balls, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Roll the dough between 2 pieces of cling film (about 5mm thick), and use a cookie cutter to cut out your shapes (stars and christmas trees in our case). Place the cookies onto wax paper lined cookie sheets; decorate with edible glitter/sugar/sprinkles.

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until edges are a light golden brown colour. Cool cookies for 2 minutes on the cookie sheet and then move to a cooling rack (we use an amazing 3 tiered rack). Repeat with remaining dough, if you haven’t snaked on it all yet.

This makes about 60-70 cookies, which is more than enough to share if you can control yourself. Unfortunately, our cookies didn’t make it to the main course!

At least some cookies made it to the table.

Tagged , , , , , ,

Guest Baker – Lime filled Meringue Cupcakes

Some people have guest bloggers, I however have guest bakers.

This normally comes about when the LiveInBaker and myself come to a stalemate on who is going to be the designated driver home, accompanied by countless unresolved games of ching-chong-cha (known to everyone except my family as rock-paper-scissors). “Someone call us a taxi”. In the end, wine beats paper, and beer beats everything, and the baking responsibility gets handed to someone else. So we convinced a friend to take on the baking duties.

Apologies for the lack of photos of the actual baking process, but I was a little bit busy taking “artistic” photos of empty beer bottles.

The cupcakes knew that their time was almost up

Ingredients:

For the cupcakes:

  • 225g unsalted butter;
  • 225 g caster sugar;
  • 225g self-raising flour;
  • 4 eggs.

For the meringue:

  • 75g granulated sugar;
  • Quarter teaspoon cream of tartar.

For the filling:

  • 75 ml lime juice;
  • 400g condensed milk.

Begin by preheating the oven to 175C and chilling your own beer to 10C. Blend all the cupcake ingredients for 2 minutes. Bake the cupcakes for 20 minutes in a cupcake pan. Remove from the oven and cool for 5 minutes.

While the cupcakes are cooling,  get your baker to start on the filling, while you get started on another beer. Combine the lime juice and the condensed milk. Cut the top off each cupcake and spoon the filling in and replace the top. Don’t be afraid to hollow out the cupcakes a bit if you want to get a bit more of the filling in.

For the meringue topping,  beat the eggs and cream of tartar until soft peaks form (this is code for a moer of a long time). I did help here, while expertly balancing my beer in the other hand. Add one-third of the sugar and beat for an additional minute. Repeat until all sugar has been added. Increase the oven temperature to 230C and spoon the meringue onto cupcakes. Brown in the oven for 5 minutes.

You can either serve immediately or allow them to cool for a bit (which is really just an excuse to have another beer).

"I'm ready for my close up"

Tagged , , , , , , ,