Happy Feast-er Part 2

Along with all the lovely food and drink that we buy at Easter, people seem to have wanted to get involved with baking this year in order to make even more yummy Easter treats. And I’m not just talking about cakes. But chocolate, Creme egg Brownies. They seem to be all the craze this Easter so I just had to make my blog post a two parter and share it with you. The recipe and the photos that is – not the brownies themselves I’m afraid 😉

I think they have been popular because they combine our favourite things about chocolate and indulgence. They are typically Eastery because they have the Creme egg in but are also gooey and chocolatey and comforting. Perfect for the cold Easter we have had. They will also go amazingly well with ice-cream as a dessert (loved by adults and kids alike). And of course they aren’t just for Easter but can be made purposefully as a yummy treat. I was going to say they are great to ‘use’ up ‘left-over’ Creme eggs, but that is crazy! Left over? Use up? I bought a six-pack especially for the occasion!

egg brownie 5

I saw this on a friend’s Facebook… I like the choppiness of these ones!

My boyfriend and I made some this morning – it was nice to bake together really. I think it was the first time we had done that actually. Spilt sugar, lack of electric whisk and a messy kitchen aside…. it was a pleasant experience with a delicious looking outcome. I feel a fraud really because I haven’t tried one yet. But like lots of others, I saw previous pics and just had to make them – so you don’t need my word of mouth dribbling with saliva. You’ll probably want to make them anyway.

Here’s the recipe:

AMAZING CADBURY’S CREME EGG BROWNIES! (This was the title that I found on Facebook. I can’t argue with the excitable enthusiasm, capitalisation or exclamation mark…)

  •  185g unsalted butter
  • 185g best dark chocolate
  • 85g plain flour
  • 40g cocoa powder
  • 3 large eggs
  • 275g  caster sugar
  •  6 Cadbury’s Crème eggs cut in half. (we put them in the freezer for a couple of hours – which apparently makes them easier to cut.)
  1. Preheat the oven to 160C (Gas mark 5)  and grease a 20 cm square baking tin. (we lined with baking paper)
  2. Melt the butter and dark chocolate together either in the microwave or in a bowl over boiling water.
  3.  Break 3 large eggs into a large bowl and tip in 275g caster sugar. With an electric mixer on maximum speed, whisk the eggs and sugar until they look thick and creamy, like a milk shake. This can take 3-8 minutes. (or 20 if you don’t have an electric whisk – but we figured it was burning off the looming calories!)You will know it’s ready when the mixture becomes really pale and about double its original volume.
  4. Pour the cooled chocolate mixture over the eggy mousse, and then gently fold together.
  5. Hold a sieve over the bowl of eggy chocolate mixture and sift the cocoa and flour mixture, shaking the sieve from side to side, to cover the top evenly.
  6. Gently fold in to the mixture.
  7. Pour into the baking tin and cook for 15 minutes then take out of the over and gently press the Cadbury’s Creme egg halves into the mix, spacing them apart evenly.
  8. Put back in the over for another 5-10 minutes.
  9.  Leave to cool before removing from tin and cutting into squares.
Our version - it made 6. Two are waiting to be eaten with ice-cream this tea time :D

Our version – it made 6. Two are waiting to be eaten with ice-cream this tea time 😀

This was a version another friend made….

egg brownies

These are neat ones made by my boyfriend’s brother and girlfriend…..

egg brownnie 3

My sister made these. I did make fun because I thought they looked odd – but now I look again, I like how they have all the little eggs in. (She used caramel ones too).

So yes, I’ve acquired an unhealthy obsession with Creme egg brownies (and other people’s Facebook pics!) Luckily I haven’t eaten all these… or I wouldn’t be here to tell the sickly tale! But some baking inspiration for you all 😀

Keep feasting… 😉

XSXS

Advertisements

Happy Feast-er!

I’m not religious. I’ve said that before. However, I do always give chocolate up for Lent. This isn’t anything related to Christianity (for me) and some of you may call me a hypocrite – but any of us could say that to people who celebrate Easter, yet do not worship God. I do it for personal reasons and an individual challenge. I choose to do it that time of year, rather than any other, mainly because others are giving up things too (and chocolate eggs are a great way to end this period of chocolate dieting 😉 )

I must guiltily admit though, that this year, I finished my ‘Lent’ 3 days early.

For 2 reasons:

1.)  I went to Pizza Express for a colleague’s retirement on Thursday and the dessert options for the ÂŁ12.95 offer were both chocolate related 😉 Sorry I couldn’t resist!

2.) My friends came for dinner on Good Friday and one made a super chocolately cake – so I couldn’t ignore the great effort. Plus it made it a very GOOD Friday! 😉 I still went 6 weeks without the brown stuff though, so I am happy with my effort. 🙂

So Easter for me, is about treating myself to what I have starved myself of for 6 weeks. Like I also said in my Christmas post, it should be about spending time with friends and family. I am not mocking religion or belittling it anyway and I truly respect and admire those who celebrate it for its actual meaning. But, I am just being me and being honest at how I celebrate a holiday in my own, individual way. It is the free time that I always feel lucky to have and I plan to spend that in the most productive ways possible. (As Easter allows school workers to have a scrummy 2 weeks off!)

My boyfriend and I are going out on a date night tonight. We realised we hadn’t been out just the two of us in a long time. Again, typically untraditionally, we are going for a Thai meal 🙂

So, what this short blog post is saying today is:

Enjoy Easter, how you choose. If you are lucky enough to have the long weekend off work, then spend it with the things you love the most. For me that is friends, family and chocolate 🙂

Easter is for family...... even chocolate bunny families! ;-)

Easter is for family…… even chocolate bunny families! 😉

I’ll take this opportunity to remind you of my thoughts about chocolate and religion in two of my previous posts:

https://samanthagray9.wordpress.com/2012/11/15/a-happy-soul/

https://samanthagray9.wordpress.com/2012/09/01/sweet-like-chocolate/

Have a lovely feast-er! 😀

XSXS

Christmas: The good, the bad, the funny and the damn right inhumane!

Well the world didn’t end and Christmas 2012 is going to happen. I want to share with you my views on Christmas and what it means to me. I also want to tell you various stories that I have heard this festive period… the good, the bad, the funny and the inhumane – you can decide which is which 😉

I’ll start with one that was to do with the end of the world because it really made me laugh. Someone told me that they had a friend who completely and utterly believed that the world was going to end at 11.11am on Friday  – like some others I am sure. The person decided to test this belief and said that their friend should buy a sex toy for their Dad and have it ordered and delivered to his address ready for Christmas Day – because if the world was going to end like they oh so believed, it wouldn’t matter would it?! I think the friend took up the challenge and I now think he will have a very awkward present opening session on Christmas Day. But not to worry, it’s not the end of the world 😉

So yes Christmas is going to happen. Christmas is, in literal terms, the birthday of Jesus Christ but as time has passed over centuries, it is not just the Christians and other religions who celebrate it. Some people think it is wrong and that we should remember this actual meaning. Being a non-Christian and un-religious individual myself, I don’t think you have to believe in Jesus in order to appreciate Christmas and I don’t think that you should have to believe in order to celebrate it. As for believing in Santa – well that is a whole other issue! I think Christmas has evolved and it is now about what it represents to each of us. For me, it is about family and friends and having time off work and very good reason to spend quality time with these groups of people. Not that we need an excuse but I am sure you know what I am trying to say….

Christmas has become commercialised and it shouldn’t be about the presents – well in my opinion it shouldn’t be about expensive ones. People who get into debt because they feel they have to spend money to keep people happy are just ridiculous. It is a little bit about the presents though, treating your loved ones, giving and, if you’re lucky, receiving some in return. One of the things I look forward to the most on Christmas day is people opening the presents that I have bought them…. very exciting. So it is about being generous yes, but you should only ever spend what you can afford. My boyfriend’s mum told me a great story. She does a lot of work for the Border Collie Trust and goes to pet shops in order to fund raise. She noticed this one woman at a store she was at and she went round the store with a huge trolley. She filled it with dog food, blankets, toys. She then paid for it all and gave it all to the charity. Now that is an example of a season of goodwill.

Another good will story I heard was about a homeless man.  Someone posted on Facebook that he walked past a homeless man and then felt such guilt as he saw him shivering in the Decemeber weather that he walked straight to the market and bought gloves, a scarf and a KFC meal for the homeless man. He was overjoyed and touched and asked the generous man to sit with him while he ate. He told the story that he was on the streets because he had a drug problem and he was getting over it before he returned to his family. I don’t know a lot of details and I won’t judge. Naturally, some people did and called him a ‘waster’ or whatever but we don’t know the background and I hope he gets over this and his family accepts him back in time for Christmas. The man who bought the items and and gave up his time is compassion personified in my opinion.

Food is something we all go crazy about this time of year and it does make you think, when you hear of people on the streets who don’t have any, let alone luxury and an endless supply of chocolates and snacks. I am the same, I admit. Being whisked into the buzz of western society, I am conditioned to believe that we need to have all these special foods in order to make Christmas perfect, when really that is nonsense. Friends and family will do that, like I mentioned above. But anyway, yesterday I sent my boyfriend to the supermarket with a long list of food to get. I added little notes next to it so that it was just right. I talked him through it before he want (control freak, moi?!) He came back with the shopping and I couldn’t find the Chocolate log for Christmas Day. I also found a couple of bars of chocolate that weren’t on the list. He explained that he thought ‘chocolate log’ was in fact ‘chocolate 10g’ so he bought me a bar of chocolate so I could get my 10 grams! Ha! He said he wondered why I wanted just 10 grams!

I also read a story about a young woman who dropped a bottle of wine at the entrance to the supermarket. We can all picture the scene. Shopping done, paid up and juggling all the bags as you stumble out to the car, dying to get home to put the kettle on. The bottle smashed to the floor and did anyone help?! No. They complained about her being in the way, made jokes about needing a straw  or just shuffled by. My friend, who posted the story, went to help. She seemed shocked – says it all really. My friend also said he thought humans are ‘such twats’. From this story, I tend to agree.

Like this young woman, I am not so fond of supermarkets myself at the minute. I crashed my car into a trolley bay yesterday and I have a huge dented and scratched door on the passenger side. I don’t blame the Christmas rush, I don’t blame the mad Christmas shoppers and lack of parking spaces, no I blame myself and the fact that I didn’t even need to go to the supermarket anyway oh and my awful parking skills! Happy Christmas to me! But it was all put into perspective when I thought that at least I wasn’t in an accident, I wasn’t hurt and  I have a home to go to (not like the people in the floods). So, it’s nothing really – not that that stopped me sobbing, shouting and swearing at myself for the whole morning!

Today, has been a lot nicer. I have spent the afternoon with friends exchanging gifts, playing games and listening to Christmas songs. I also received a lovely bunch of flowers and a card from my boyfriend’s rowing club. This was to say thank you for supporting my boyfriend, not complaining (too much!) about him being away a lot and a general thanks. My boyfriend received a card and a sat-nav for his efforts too 😉 So that was a very touching thing to happen today.

So there you have it… many festive moments and they are all what life is about I guess. Christmas can mean lots of things to us and it is interesting to see what it means to you. Oh and …. ‘Remember, if Christmas isn’t found in your heart, you won’t find it under a tree.’

Merry Christmas readers, visitors and bloggers!

My lovely flowers that gave me some Christmas cheer….

A Day of Birth

….no I am not talking about Obama since it isn’t a birth of a new president, he has done the job for 4 years and I hope he continues to do it well! On from that, I want to talk about birthdays in general. Mine is on Friday (the big 27 but hush hush 😉 ) I thought I would write this now since I have plans on Friday… off out for a meal and drinks with lots of friends yippee!

Isn’t it strange how we celebrate birthdays? I mean it was the day we were born. A day of birth. We didn’t really do anything; our mothers did! We can’t even remember it unless we have a super power heightened memory like I talked about in my post: https://samanthagray9.wordpress.com/2012/09/26/remember-that/. Our mum’s should get a celebration like ‘I gave birth day’ – yes I know there is mother’s day but we could re-jig and have a day for others elsewhere like a ‘child’s’ day. But I guess the appeal of birthdays is that it is your own, your day. Unless you happen to have a mate with the same birthday or, like my partner, you are a twin and have to share your birthday (they also had a friend with the same birthday when they were growing up – how unfair is that? A three way shared birthday!) It is your day, though, to feel special and to celebrate another year alive…. which I also find a little odd because it is almost like people are saying ‘well done for surviving another year!’ or ‘well done for coming one year closer to death!’ Haha. It also gets me for special birthdays especially, people congratulate you – like a card saying ‘congratulations on your 40th’. I mean congrats for what? They haven’t done anything, just managed to avoid getting run over by a bus, have a terminal disease or get a fatal case of food poisoning for 40 years. Well well done you! It’s not like they have got a new job or graduated from university – just simply survived and stubbornly stayed on the earth for 4 decades!

Anyway, you’re going to get the feeling that I don’t like birthdays and that is so not true. I just find the whole concept a bit odd that’s all. I do, though, get quite excited about birthdays. I love when friends and family have birthdays and I’ve bought them that special surprise present that they will love or even better if we are going out to celebrate. I get very excited when my birthday is looming. I am not that materialistic and it is not the presents (well it is a bit, I am human after all and we all like to receive things!) but normally I have such great plans (that tend to extend for two weekends) and it is a time when I get to see all of my closest friends and family. This week is a very busy birthday week for my family actually – me, my uncle and granddad are all in the space of five days! Quite nice really.

This year, me and my boyfriend’s brother’s girlfriend are having a joint birthday do – makes sense because our birthdays are four days apart and we have all the same friends. So it should be good! Then the weekend after, I am going out with my other group of close girly mates for a meal and it is also my Aunty’s 50th birthday party (she has survived half a century, get out the champagne!) so there is a reason that I call November ‘birthday season’.

My favourite birthday was my 25th. I know I should probably say by 7th when I had a huge party or my 18th because it was a ‘special’ one but my 25th was just so great for so many reasons. I had to go to work but I was asked to go on a school trip with some special needs kids. It was hard work but a great day (except from when I left the camera in a mosque and didn’t realise until I was the other side of town and had to race back for it – putting on my head scarf as I went! That is part of it now – a funny memory.) So yes, the working day was different, a break from routine (good for me but not the SEN kids!). I was a bit gutted though because the kids back at school had been doing solids, liquids and gasses in science and I had suggested to the teacher the best way they would understand was by using chocolate (well of course!) as it is a solid and melts to a liquid. I convinced the teacher to do this and he said he would for my birthday – then I ended up going on the trip! When I returned though, he had saved me some melted chocolate! I had badges, cards and presents off colleagues and got home to flowers waiting in the doorway. I also called to see my family and then my boyfriend took me for a meal later that evening. I had also been for a meal with friends the weekend before and my boyfriend’s family came to visit the evening after. So I saw everyone I wanted to and just felt very loved and special. Other birthdays have been great too and I am lucky that none of them have been bad (fingers crossed Fri will be good too!) but that one just sticks in my mind as everything going right (apart from the camera incident!)

So here is to birthdays, raise a glass. When you are apparently celebrating becoming a year older, but it is in fact a day older than the day before! But why miss a chance to celebrate being ‘you’ and made to feel special?

Oh and remember, birthdays are nature’s way of telling us to eat more cake!

XSXS

 

A Cake of Cheese (Part 2)

Afternoon everyone. You may remember a while ago that I posted a recipe for a cheese cake in A Cake of Cheese. I have also shared with you, my love of chocolate in Sweet like Chocolate. I mentioned that I have a recipe for a dark chocolate cheesecake too….. one to take you to the dark side. 😉

It’s been a busy week with the Aussies. Tomorrow, we are having a huge family party and me and my Mum are sorting the food. This is where my cheesecake comes in. I am making one for tomorrow. The white chocolate cheese cake that I posted about previously is a recipe off my Aussie aunty, so it’s only right that I share my recipe in return right?

In the last few years, I have made this cheesecake probably ten times. I got the recipe from a Sunday magazine and it is a recipe of Tana Ramsey (Gordon’s wife). It requires a bit of messing and a lot of different bowls but it is so worth it! After making it so many times though, i still haven’t learnt that my cake tin is smaller than the one in the recipe so I always end up with too much! Hence, I make two mini ones too 😉 A happy mistake then really.

So without further ado… here is the recipe:

Chocolate Cheesecake

Preparation time: 15 minutes (though I swear it always takes me longer… must be the licking out the bowl!)

Cooking time: 45 min to 1 hour.

  • 300g of sweetened oat biscuits (they work well but I also use digestives a lot as some prefer them.)
  • 75g butter
  • 150g of good quality dark chocolate
  • 750g of mascarpone or cream cheese (Philadelphia or supermarket alternatives work well.)
  • 125g light brown sugar
  • 3 beaten medium eggs
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4 (160C if fan oven). Line a 23cm nonstick springform tin with greaseproof paper (I just grease my tin with butter and it comes out fine.)
  2. Put your biscuits into a food processor until they are crumbs (or if you are unlucky like me, put them into a plastic bag and bash with a rolling-pin – another reason it takes me longer!) Then melt your butter, mix with the crumbs and press firmly into your tin to create the base. Put in the fridge for 10-15 min.
  3. Meanwhile, melt your chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of hot water and set aside to cool (but not too much because i find it separates otherwise.)
  4. Beat you soft cheese and add the sugar and beat again. The stir in the beaten eggs and the chocolate and pour onto the chilled biscuit base.
  5. Put the cheesecake in the oven for 45min – 60 min (I find mine always needs the full hour.)
  6. When it is ready it will still have a wobble to it if you shake it slightly. It will continue to cook as it cools.
  7. Let it cool and refrigerate until ready to serve! Yummy.

You can add grated chocolate to the top too to make it really calorific! I put white chocolate onto mine once when it went wrong. This was when the dark chocolate separated from the cheese and it went speckly! So it was a hiding aid… but it makes it look pretty as an added extra.

My next challenge is to get the cheesecake to my Gran’s house without dropping it! 😉

Enjoy your chocolately treat this weekend!

XSXS

Sweet like Chocolate

Since it is the weekend and we are all in the mood for a treat, I just had to share with you a highlight of our holiday. Visiting a chocolate factory in Switzerland! Mmmmmm…..

We drove over to Switzerland from Evian one day and paid 10 euros to get into to the Nestle factory. It turns out Nestle, a French guy and also Cailler, a Swiss guy (maybe?) joined forces to make a company. Of course over here, we have Nestle and I seem to recognise Cailler too? What you think?

We learnt all about the history of the company and how chocolate was made. We even got to try the ingredients, like the cocoa butter, nuts, almonds and cocoa beans…

Me trying a very bitter cocoa bean!

We got to see the chocolates being made.. as the chocolate gets mixed and then made into sizeable chunks….

My kind of machinery!

If you have ever been to Cadbury’s World you will know that you also learn about the history of the chocolate and how it is made. You also get to take some chocolates away with you to eat – but that’s just like having free bars as is from a shop. Even though I must admit, they also had a room where you got a free pot of melted chocolate and could choose you own sweet/crumble/biscuit topping – that was pretty cool. But at this chocolate factory there was an actual tasting room to try every type of chocolate that they make. A way for me to easily get my 10 euros back haha. I felt a bit like I was at Willy Wonka’s factory without the shrinking or blowing up like a blueberry part. It was great, there was a whole row of just milk, dark, white and nutty solid chocolates. That was to ease you in because you went round the other side and there was all the fancy pants stuff like truffles, caramels and lovely soft centred ones. That was my lunch that day – it was soooo good!

The Tasting Room. Remember if you recognise any of these lucky choc munchers, like I mentioned in my post Photographic Memories on Friday, then let me know!

Yummy, oh just one more then!

So yes it was a great day and I fully recommend this if you are over that part of the world. It is definitely worth the ten euros. In comparison to Cadbury’s World (which I also fully recommend and one that I would definitely go to again since I live in that part of the country) it is cheaper but the tour isn’t as long and there isn’t quite as much to see. But the tasting room, as I say, is definitely worth it and you can spend as long as you want int there. There is also advice on how to taste and saviour the chocolate properly haha… I tried that ‘advice’ for like two chocolates and then gobbled the rest. To me chocolate is best in chunks, dipped into a hot mug of tea so that it melts… Mmmmmm….

The best question that came up that day was:

As you can see the translation underneath… For you, when is it time for chocolate? This was a room with a writing shelf so that you could write your answer and then fasten it to a display board. I answered… ‘anytime, anywhere!’  What would you say?

I have used lots of photos today, as you can see. That is because I can describe the gorgeous, velvety chocolate in thousands of words but I think you need to see it to fully appreciate its glory!

Enjoy a nice evening with a chocolate or two… or what am I kidding, five at least!

See you tomorrow,

XSXS