Chocolate & Salted Caramel Squares with Peanuts.

What with my latest obsession for ‘sweet with salty’ getting uncontrollable, I decided to finally do something about it. Sure, I’m on a diet, as how can it be any other way? Anyway, to cut a long story short (mostly about the struggle within) I spotted this easy recipe off the ‘net. I can safely say that if you’re feeling the urge for a brittle, sweet & salty, agonizingly delicious caramel & chocolate treat, you’ve stumbled upon the right page.

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This treat is really simple to put together ‘coz almost everything is should be available in your kitchen cupboard. All you need is the strength to watch 250g of lovely milk chocolate slowly turn from delicious little squares to the gooiest pool of chocolate madness without giving up the plan & just polishing off the bowl instead. Yes, so deep breaths.

 Now, assemble:

  • caster sugar-100 g
  • butter, softened and diced-200 g
  • self-raising flour, sifted-300 g
  • boiled condensed milk-400 ml
  • salted peanuts, roughly chopped-125 g
  • milk chocolate, broken into pieces-250 g

All you need to do next:

Pop a sealed tin of condensed milk into a heavy bottomed pan – cover completely with plain water & bring to boil. Then simmer for 2-3 hours. Be sure to top off the water to ensure that the tin is always submerged. Once done, cool off the tin. You should get a lovely dark & very gooey caramel instead of the pale runny condensed milk. Dulce de leche, made easy!

Preheat the oven to 180C. Line the base of a 20 x 30cm tin with baking paper. Sure, it’s tricky, but so worth the effort.

In a large bowl, rub together the butter and flour in a bowl with your fingertips and stir in the sugar. Press into the prepared tin with your hands or a palette knife – be sure to level out the mixture.

Place in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown all over, then remove from the oven and allow to cool completely in the tin.

Only once it is cool, the fun really begins! Spread over the condensed milk to cover the shortbread, and then press the roughly chopped peanuts into it, making sure they are evenly distributed.

Now for the challenging part- place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water and allow to melt. Do not let the base of the bowl touch the water. It’s also important here to keep an eye on the chocolate as too much heat can turn it grainy. Once the chocolate’s glossy , smooth & evenly melted, remove from the heat and pour over the peanut-studded dulce de leche, allowing it to cool, and then leave in the fridge for 1–2 hours to set. Once set, cut the mixture into squares in the tin.

That’s it- simple and delicious!

Easy Vanilla Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream

This no fuss little treat is simply the best one I’ve ever nicked off the net. Minimal steps to perfection- if you have 20 mins to spare, give this one a try!

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For around 24 fluffy & light cupcakes, you need ..

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup of softened butter
  • 3/4 cup castor sugar (add a little more, if you like yours sweeter.)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence

 

The steps are so easy..

 

  • Preheat oven to 170c; line muffin tray with cupcake papers.
  • Cream butter and sugar till light and fluffy.
  • Beat in eggs one at a time.
  • Add flour (mixed with baking powder and salt) alternating with milk beat well; stir in vanilla.
  • Scoop evenly, about ¾, into cupcake liners in tray and bake for 20-22 minutes. Let cool in tray for about 10 mins before cooling completely on wire rack.

 

The Chocolate Buttercream, though an added step, is essential to this simple cupcake- as it adds a rich & satisfying finish. Plus it looks so great!

 

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting:

 

  • 75 g softened butter
  • 1 tbs heavy cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 tbs unsweetened cocoa powder-press through a sieve to break up lumps.
  • 175 g sifted icing sugar

 

To make the frosting..

 

  • In a medium bowl, whisk butter till pale & fluffy.
  • Add & mix in cream & vanilla.
  • Finally, whisk in the icing sugar & cocoa, making sure there are no lumps.
  • Choose the piping nozzle that works for you & frost the cooled cupcakes!

 

Sometimes, I scoop out a tiny bit of cake from the centre, about half way through a cupcake & begin piping at this point, swirling my way to the top! Simply filling in more icing only enhances the deliciousness of every bite!

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The Cutest Chocolate Cupcake

Wanted to end the year on a sweet note-and with a swirl! So my latest fave, the Meltingly Moist Chocolate Cupcake with Marshmallow Frosting- or to make it easier- the Cutest Chocolate Cupcake makes it to the top!

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This recipe, nicked from the net & modified to suit, I think is the most easy & fun cupcake I have ever baked. The Marshmallow frosting adds a delicate & delicious finish, while making these little cupcakes cuter than they already are!

I love this little recipe so much coz all ingredients are usually lying around at home – no last minute treks to the shop required at all.

To make about 12 cupcakes , you’ll need:

  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, if using unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup castor sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup hung yogurt

All you have to do :

  • Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Line a 12-cup regular muffin tin with paper liners.
  • Into a bowl, sift together cocoa, flour, baking powder, and salt; if adding, and set aside.
  • In a mixing bowl, whisk butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each, lastly beat in vanilla. I use a hand held electric whisk – so much easier!
  •  Switch to a spatula, adding flour mixture in two batches, alternating with the yogurt and beginning and ending with flour. Gently, mix the together, avoiding lumps.
  • Spoon batter into cups, sure to fill each 3/4 full.
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    • Bake until a toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 to 25 minutes.
    • Cool in pan 5 minutes; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely, then ice the cupcakes, if you like.
    • For the Marshmallow Frosting:
      • 4 large egg whites
      • 1 cups sugar
      • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
      • 1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
      • Place egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar in the heatproof bowl. Set over a saucepan with simmering water. Whisk constantly until sugar is dissolved and whites are warm to the touch, takes about 3 to 4 minutes.
      • Use an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment to beat the warm mixture, starting on low speed, gradually increasing to high, until stiff, glossy peaks form- this should take around 5 to 7 minutes. Finally add the vanilla and mix until combined. I added a touch of pink to half the frosting & mixed both into a piping bag.
      • It’s recommended to frost the cupcakes immediately. The frosted cupcakes can be stored in the fridge, in airtight boxes for up to 3 day.

Red Wine, Dark Chocolate & Pear Tart

Occasionally, I get into these fitness binges & stuff my fridge with fruits of all types. And, as these outbursts last no more than a few hours, I’m often left with a huge amount of quickly-softening & over-ripening fruits! Never a good thing.

A frantic search on the net led me to this GORGEOUS recipe that turned a load of neglected pears into this decadent & delicious little dessert!

Had to share my version 😀

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Makes: two 9-inch tart cakes

You Need

For the pears:

  • About 4 pears
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cup red wine.
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

For the cake:

  • 1 1/4 cup brown sugar- finer in texture the better.
  • 100 ml red wine
  • 150 g butter, I used salted.
  • 100 g dark chocolate, broken into small pieces
  • 1 Tbsp whiskey
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda

 You Have to

Make the pears:

Peel pears and slice in half, removing core and stems. Place in a saucepan with the water, red wine and cinnamon. Make sure the pears are submerged, so a medium sized pan is the best fit! Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 20-25 mins until tender.

Remove pears from pan & keep aside liquid. Slice each half lengthwise so you have quarters, set aside for cake.

Simmer liquid for about 15-20 mins until reduced by half to a thick syrup, cool and set aside. This is the stunning sauce for the cake & the BEST part; so gorgeous & rich!

Make the cake:

Preheat oven to 180C, lightly butter base and sides of two 9-inch removable base tart tins.

Lightly whisk eggs in a medium bowl, set aside.

Now for the tricky (but rewarding) part! Spread sugar in the bottom of a large heavy-based saucepan. Cook over medium heat; do not stir until the sugar turns to liquid around the edges. With a large metal spoon gently drag the edges into the centre, continuing until all sugar is melted.

Remove the pan from heat, once the sugar is lightly caramalized, and immediately pour in the wine, stir vigorously but very carefully until the bubbling subsides and mixture is smooth. Again, be really patient during this step, as the contents of the pan are REALLY hot!

Once smooth, add in the butter & stir until mixture turns glossy. Add the chocolate and continue to stir until melted. Stir in whiskey.

Pour a little of the chocolate caramel into the beaten eggs, whisking vigorously. Pour egg mixture back into the pan with the remaining chocolate caramel and whisk until smooth.

Whisk in all remaining ingredients – buttermilk through baking soda – until smooth. Pour half the batter into each prepared pan. Gently place 8 quarters on top of the batter.

Bake for 25 minutes until just firm in the centre. Cool completely in tins before removing sides. Serve a warm slice with a scoop of the best vanilla ice cream plus a drizzle of the reserved wine sauce!

Recipe adapted from this gorgeous original:

http://84thand3rd.com/2013/07/01/spiced-pear-red-wine-chocolate-cake/#comment-18030