Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Aian't gonna let Christmas sneak away!


































Christmas has a way of sneaking up on us.

When the lights and sparkles go up in the streets, we're suddenly startled into the realization that we're almost at the end of another year.

Sudden panic sets in for some of us - where did all that time go??
Are we really done for the year?

Others are a bit more sanguine, resigned to the next month or so of scrambling and racing to accomplish the ambitious tower of job tasks and personal errands we crazily set ourselves.

Whichever the case, let's remember to take a breath and absorb a bit of that Christmas happiness.

Don't let that Christmas spirit sneak away without us paying any attention to it.
Such a waste of the most wonderful time of the year.

Looking to ease a bit of that Christmas shopping crunch?

Chocolate-Almond Sables with Sea Salt, Gula Melaka Christmas Granola or Toasted Herb and Sesame Shortbread make for some pretty nifty scrumptious gifts.

Or bring a Tipsy Bailey's Tart or Rocky Road Christmas Wreath to a party.
Spread the Christmas yum!
> details in image above

More Christmas desserts:
> Death by Chocolate Cake
> Salted Bailey's Mint Chocolate Pie
> Decadent Chocolate Pistachio Torte
> Guinness Beer Chocolate Cake
> Deep Chocolate Ganache Cake with Summer Fruits
> Rich Red Velvet Cake

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Halloween companions

Most people enjoy a good hair-raising scare.

Which is why Halloween is so popular, and heart-splitting horror movies get more freaky each year.

There are a few however, who like hanging out with humans more than with ghouls. Those who get chills when the window shutters flap about for no reason.

Like me.

So instead of disguising myself as Frozen's Anna or a sexy vamp bunny wannabe, and getting my wits scared out in a devil's mansion, I've rounded up a couple of desserts to snuggle up to on Halloween night, when the clock strikes 12.


Till Death Do Us Part


































Adios and Ciao Ciao, part of the cultishly popular Tokidoki series, are condemned to wander the earth after 500 years in hell. Could there be a more perfect Halloween dessert??
> Get the recipe for Martha Stewart's perfect chocolate cake.

More night-friendly cakes:


Darkside Chocolate

































Chocolate works really well for a night snack. Maybe cuz it's forbidden (says all the healthy folks!), or maybe it's the midnight darkness of the cacao that lures. Either way, this chocolate cupcake topped with dark chocolate ganache, is a definite walk on the dark side. 

Death by chocolate, anyone?

More darkside desserts:


Nighttime Ice-Cream


































I-C-E  C-R-E-A-M cravings. They hit at midnight, and they hit hard. If like me, you're not about to venture out into the darkness of Halloween night even for ice cream, you gotta do the next best thing - ice cream cake pops.

You could do ice-cream cone style, like Bakerella's. I had ice cream sticks lying around, so I did the popsicle version. Pretty much the same way you make all your other cake pops - just make sure the cake pop adheres well to the ice cream stick when inserting, press the pop around the base in a little if you need to.

> What are cake pops?
> Making basic cake pops
So-darn-good Rum Balls
> Ride away Bicycle Pops


Deep Dark Double Chocolate Trouble

































Wash them down with milk. Or good coffee. Or a smoothie. That's how you need to eat these little devils. This soft-baked cookie is so decadently good, you'll be fighting demons to stop at one. Their cracked tops erupt into soft chocolately chews, and these are made extra large - for double the evil indulgence. 

Get Martha Stewart's recipe here.

Not enough cookies?

Embrace your midnight companions and eat up, welcome to the dark side!


Monday, September 29, 2014

Sometimes YOLO is code for Granola

Ok that's probably quite a stretch... 
But what I'm saying is, we're hard-wired to seek comfort.

We do the whole YOLO / bucket list thing, searching for new thrills, loving new adventures. 

But when it comes down to happiness, it's often the dead-easy parts of life that do the trick.


Like a cup of good coffee.
A hot bowl of chicken soup.
Fried chicken that crunches.
Juicy steak.
And of course, brunch.

(I am all about food, I realize!)


All the in-built yearnings.
Nothing fancy.
Just a whole lot of comforting good.

The whole idea of brunch is a soothing indulgence.

A precious weekend treat of taking things slow. Not having to scramble, eyes half-closed, jostling with scores of fellow un-deads.

Brunch is wickedly set in the middle of breakfast and lunch, just to say - I get to eat at a weird time, and no one's gonna stop me.

I love a good hearty full brunch of eggs, bacon, toast, beans and sometimes - even fries.
Fries go with every meal. Truth.

But some brunches are stay-in days. When you're too lazy to get into decent clothes, or when it's raining outside.

Life's answer to stay-in brunch comfort: GRANOLA.


I'm a shameless granola hussy, for 3 simple reasons:

1) Crunch = good
It's a party in your mouth. There's crunch, there's flavor - I'm sold. I was born with a tooth for the crunchy (fried food, chips, nuts - you name it), and granola has awesome crispy texture with such amazing flavors folded into their tiny nuggets of crunch. This may be a sign - I need to start Granola Anonymous.


2) Sweet, salty, sour
Have I mentioned how versatile granola is? There's not a single flavor dimension that cannot work with these grains. I made some super fabulous sweet granola below - Deep Chocolate Crunch and Chai Spice Honey - look out for posts on some savory ones soon!



3) Trickery
And because I snack so much, granola is a fab way of tricking my brain into believing I'm eating my fave crunchy snack, but with the bonus of amazing nutrients and none of the evil trans-oils and salts.

I feel healthier already, just thinking about it!

Totally planning to granolarize the kitchen again, can't wait.


CHAI SPICE HONEY GRANOLA


A wonderfully fragrant mix from the Inquiring Chef, this is a granola that is subtle and strong at the same time. The spices impart a beautiful tang to the grains, and you could eat this on and on... and on without getting tired of it.



































Vary the spice mix as you like, I went with about 3/4 the quantities and found it to be quite the perfect balance.






































The granola itself is pretty much up to the grains and nuts you like. Almonds are great for adding a sharp crunch, either whole or slivered. The coconut oil is interchangeable with vegetable oil or any other light oils, and I made mine with rolled oats (instead of a mix with quick-cook oats), and it turned out just as delicious.

More desserts like this:
> Summer cakes & shakes
> Sesame match cupcakes, Zingy ginger crunch


DEEP CHOCOLATE CRUNCHY GRANOLA



I call this an indulgent granola because it's not something you can eat everyday, even if you declare every day Brunch Day. It's got a deep earthy chocolate crunch that is such a treat, but keep reminding yourself - step away from the bowl




















And I'm saying this as a friendly baker-warning, and a recovering sore throat victim - you SHOULD NOT be finishing this all in one sitting. It's a dangerously addictive granola that needs to be paced out.

Take my word for it.


































Here's the recipe from Peaceful Cooking, I've adapted parts of it to make a blend I like:

Halved the amount of brown sugar, reduced the honey slightly, omitted raisins (I find the blend sweet enough as is). The chocolate chips melt when I stir them in, giving the grains a nice chocolately coat that I love. If you like them whole, stir them in after baking instead. Both instant and regular oats work for this recipe, you just need to vary the baking time a little to the crunchiness you like.

More chocolate desserts:
> Death by chocolate cake
> Guinness chocolate cake
> Chocolately love
> 10 years young