Saturday, 20 February 2010

Macaroni and Cheese (oh-so-comfortable)

For some time now I've been experimenting with various Macaroni and Cheese recipes.

Ever inspired by Ajax Diner's delectable down-home Mac n Chee recipe, I thought I'd try my hand creating my own version of this oh-so-comforting favourite.


Ingredients:

2c. Macaroni
1/2c. Bisquik
1/2tsp Paprika (substitute w/ Cayenne Pepper if you'd like more of a kick!)
Dash-o-Nutmeg
Dash-o-Salt
Dash-o-Pepper
1 1/2c. Cheddar Cheese (grated)
1 Egg (beaten)
3/4c. Milk
1/4c. Cream (or Sour Cream for a richer taste)
3tbsp. Butter (cut into pieces)

Directions:

Boil the Macaroni until al dente (it should be soft on the outside, with a touch of chewiness in the center). Drain and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the Bisquik, Paprika, Nutmeg, Salt and Pepper, then toss with the Cheese (just like a salad!). Next, stir the Egg, Milk, Cream and Butter into the existing mixture. Lastly, toss your al dente Macaroni into the mix.

Pop into a casserole dish and bake in the oven at 200C for 30min (covered for the first 20, and uncovered for the last 10)

For a crunchier version: top with crushed crackers (I prefer Ritz) for the last 10min of cooking!

Excuse me while I treat myself...

Until next time.

Hearts

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Two Tarts for Two Not-so-Tarty Girls

This week's baking activities proved a bit of a challenge on the creative front. The loverly Steph & Jordan will be celebrating their Birthdays at the end of the week! Having two gals with very different tastes -my aim was to please.

Introducing:
Steph's Double Chocolate Strawberry Tart & Jordan's Choco Pecan Bourbon Tart



Steph's Double Chocolate Strawberry Tart
(Dark AND White Chocolate AND Berries...what could go wrong?)


Base:
320g Plain Flour
60g Cocoa
160g Caster Sugar
Pinch o Salt
160g Butter/Margarine
2 Eggs

Filling:
150g White Chocolate (broken into pieces)
1c. Cream
2 Egg Yolks (the yellow bits!)

Decor:
450g Fresh Strawberries (or any berry of your choice!)

For the Cocoa Tart Base:
Blend together Cocoa, Caster Sugar, Salt, Butter, and Eggs until mixture becomes pebbly. Slowly add Flour to the existing mixture until all is well incorporated. Then press the mixture into a 9in round baking tin and cook in the oven for 10min at 180C. (Base will not be completely cooked at this stage.)

For the White Choco Filling:
Combine the Chocolate pieces and Cream into a heat-safe bowl and place the bowl over a simmering pan of water - stirring mixture until it becomes smooth. Whisk in the Egg Yolks until all is well incorporated.

Lastly, pour the White Choco Filling into its Cocoa Tart Base and pop in the oven at 180C for 30-35Min (cooking the base thoroughly, and creating a gooey custard texture to the filling).

Refrigerate, then decorate with fresh Strawberries before eating.


Jordan's Choco Pecan Bourbon Tart
(A Southern Classic with a Choco Bourbon Twist)


Base:
200g Butter
100g Icing Sugar
1 Egg
420g Plain Flour

Filling:
3/4c. Semisweet Chocolate Morsels (or a Dark Chocolate bar - finely chopped)
3 Large Eggs
1/3c. Sugar
3 tbsp Brown Sugar
1 tbsp Plain Flour
3/4c. Corn Syrup
1/4c. Butter/Margarine
3tbsp Bourbon
2tsp Vanilla
2c. Pecans

For the Sugary Tart Base:
Using a hand mixer, cream together the Butter and Sugar, adding the Egg and blending until smooth. Slowly add Flour to the existing mixture until all is well incorporated. Press mixture into a 9in round baking tin, sprinkle the Chocolate Morsels onto the base and set in fridge to chill approx 10 min.

For the Bourbon Pecan Filling:
Blend together all ingredients (minus the Chocolate Morsels and Pecans) and pour 3/4 of the mixture into the Sugary Tart Base - covering the layer of Chocolate Morsels. Then create an even layer of Pecans over this mixture, and drizzle the remaining 1/4 of the Bourbon Filling to coat the Pecans.

Pop into the oven at 180C for 45-50Min (until the Tart Base is golden brown, and the Bourbon Pecan Mixture is swollen. Don't fret! The tart will deflate upon cooling!)

This dish can be served warm or chilled.


I hope the girls enjoy my take on their Birthday Puds! Let the celebrations commence!

Until next time...

Hearts.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

My Funny Valentine (Of the biscuit variety!)

This lovely biscuit set was awaiting my arrival to work today courtesy of the Biscuiteers! What a wonderfully quirky (and unexpected) treat!

I think I'm in love...

Hearts.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

A Bit(e) Overdue...

Okay okay. So I fell behind on the blog front last week (but my baking was still intact!), shame on me...

To quickly recap last week's activities: Chocolate Peanut Butter Pillows made a second appearance into the tummies of my vegan hubs and colleagues. Needless to say, their presence was slightly overshadowed by this little beauty:


Brownie base. Cheesecake middle. Fresh Raspberry whipped topping. Courtesy of the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook (p 104). Let's let the pictures do the talkin...


The recipe makes enough for a 13x9 pan...plus enough to make a small batch of fluffy brownies w/ a thin cheesecake glaze (which I ate within the first five minutes of pulling them out of the oven)!


After refrigerating overnight (a must for the freshly whipped topping!) I divvied up this beautiful light pink desert for two day's worth of treats for my co-workers (who have now expressed their concern on days I don't bring goodies in for them...perhaps I should start up a baking fund...)

Verdict: One taster called this dish 'orgasmic' which a new one for me. It's a shame I didn't leave this one for Valentines Day. The trio of colours parallels the trio of textures: The pink raspberry whip has a wonderful ice cream-like texture, the white cheesecake is creamy & smooth, while the brownie base is fluffy & moist. A surprisingly easy item to make (but maybe I shouldn't disclose that).

Which brings me to this week...

Recipe One: Peanut Butter Hash Cookies (as in hash key, not naughty hash)

These cookies remind me of childhood bake sales - Stacks of five sitting mid table in their plastic wrapping and colourful ribbon ties. I thought I'd try my hand at an old fave (altering the recipe to make them vegan):

- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup creamy or chunky peanut butter
- 1/2 cup ( 1 stick ) butter or margarine, softened
- 1/2cup firmly packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg (I used veg oil instead)
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix wet contents in one bowl and dry in another. Then combine the two and refrigerate for 20 minutes. Roll the dough into small balls and place them onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Use a fork to make the hashkey pattern/flatten the cookie slightly. And toss in the oven at 200degrees for 10 min.


Verdict: Patience is needed with this mixture (which comes out quite pebbly), but this is made up for in taste. Mum-in-law approved. I smell a bake sale approaching.

Recipe Two: Mexican Chocolate Snickerdoodles. Courtesy of Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar (p.89)

Not too long ago, a friend of mine introduced me to the wonderful world of chocolate laced with chilli. Having always been a fan of the classic Snickerdoodle, I thought this recipe captured a wonderful take on the two.


Verdict: This chocolate biscuit is rolled in cinnamon sugar and packs a kiss of cayenne. The combination of sweet and hot is truly a thing of wonderment (I've already eaten three!) I will be popping these onto Emma's desk for a lovely Monday surprise.

Until next time...

Hearts