Nan’s Chocolate Sauce

This recipe is from my dad’s mum, who I never met because she passed away before I was born.  When my dad was growing up my nan went to work in a hotel kitchen to help make ends meet, and that where she learned the recipe for the most amazing hot chocolate sauce. My dad learned the recipe from my nan, and I learned it from him. It is super simple and you can adjust it to suit your taste. 

Ingredients

  • 2 tbls Butter
  • 2 tbls Cocoa (if you are using a dark chocolate cocoa, you may want to reduce the amount a little)
  • 2 tbls Sugar
  • 4 tbls water

Method

  • Melt the butter, and mix the cocoa and sugar.
  • Add the water and mix gently until it all has mixed through and smooth.
  • Serve with vanilla ice cream.
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Condensed Milk Fudge

FudgeI’ve started getting a little bored of baking (and eating) muffins, cakes, biscuits etc. So I’ve decided to try my hand at making sweets. Admittedly, it is also that Xmas is coming so I can make these and hand then out as simple gifts. I have started with the simplest sweet I could think of,  fudge. Be careful with the cooking time, its a bit tricky at first but try it a few times and you’ll get there. The fudge in the picture was a little overcooked, but you get the idea. 

Ingredients

  • 400g tin condensed milk
  • 450g brown sugar
  • 150ml milk
  • 115g butter

Method

  1. Grease and line a 20cm square baking tin.
  2. Heat together the milk, condensed milk, butter and sugar over a low heat in a non-stick saucepan for 10-15 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan often, until the mixture forms a soft ball when dropped into a glass of cold water.
  3. Once the mixture reaches this stage, remove it from the heat and beat it for ten minutes until it becomes thick and grainy.
  4. Pour it into the baking tin and leave it to cool completely before serving.
  5. Once the fudge is cooled, either cut it into small squares or break it apart with your hands. This recipe will yield around 20 portions of fudge.

Recipe source: Fudge Recipes UK

Cream Cheese Frosting

This is a simple recipe for cream cheese frosting that I use for carrot cake. It keeps its rich cheesy taste and will need loads more icing sugar to allow it to be used for cupcakes. 

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup Cream cheese
  • 1 cup Icing sugar
  • 1 tbls Honey
  • 2 or 3 walnuts (chopped finely – optional)

Method

  • This is the simplest ever, let the cream cheese warm to room temperature.
  • Add the honey and the icing sugar
  • Add the chopped walnuts if you want.
  • Voila!

Tomato and Apricot Chutney

Irreverent Baker | Tomato and Apricot Chutney

I made a recipe for tomato chutney last weekend. The other recipe had sultanas (which I am not a fan of) so I decided to substitute some dried apricots (and a few fresh peaches) to see what the result would be. It turned out really great and this is on its way to becoming a family favourite. 

Ingredients

  • 1 kg tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion, thinly chopped
  • 4 medium chillies, thinly sliced
  • 250 g dried apricots, chopped
  • 2 large fresh peaches, finely chopped
  • 1 thumb of ginger, peeled
  • 250 g brown sugar
  • 250 ml white vinegar
  • 15 ml salt
  • 1 ml cayenne pepper

Method

Cooking the Chutney

  • Bring a pot of water to the boil, drop the tomatoes in  and leave them in until the skins split. As soon as the skin splits, fish the tomato out (I used a slotted spoon) and drop them into a bowl of cold water. The skins should be very easy to peel.
  • Slice the peeled tomatoes into medium slices.
  • Mix all the ingredients and simmer gently in a large pot on medium heat until thick enough.
  • Stir occasionally to prevent burning.
  • Before bottling, fish out the ginger.

Tomato Jam

Ingredients

  • 500 gram ripe tomatoes (about 6 tomatoes)
  • 500 gram jam sugar
  • 1 thumb size piece of fresh ginger (optional)
  • 1tsp lemon juice

Method

  • Bring a pot of water to the boil, drop the tomatoes in  and leave them in until the skins split. As soon as the skin splits, fish the tomato out (I used a slotted spoon) and drop them into a bowl of cold water. The skins should be very easy to peel.
  • Slice the peeled tomatoes into medium slices.
  • Mix all the ingredients and simmer gently in a large pot until thick enough. Stir occasionally to prevent burning.

Tomato and Chilli Chutney

A great love in South African food is chutney. We especially love home made chutneys, and of course tomato chutney is a great grown up alternative to tomato ketchup.

Ingredients

  • 1,2 kg tomatoes
  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 3 medium chillies, thinly sliced
  • 250 g sultanas
  • 250 g brown sugar
  • 250 ml white vinegar
  • 15 ml dry mustard powder
  • 15 ml ground ginger
  • 15 ml salt
  • 1 ml cayenne pepper

Method

Cooking the Chutney

  • Bring a pot of water to the boil, drop the tomatoes in  and leave them in until the skins split. As soon as the skin splits, fish the tomato out (I used a slotted spoon) and drop them into a bowl of cold water. The skins should be very easy to peel.
  • Slice the peeled tomatoes into medium slices.
  •  Mix all the ingredients and simmer gently in a large pot until thick enough. Stir occasionally to prevent burning.

Sterilising the Jars

(From Asian online recipes)

  • Wash the jars in warm soapy water, then put them in a pan of boiling water for 10 minutes.
  • You can also sterilize jars in the microwave: half fill them with cold water, then heat them on High for about 3 minutes or until the water boils.
  • Whichever method you use, then put the jars upside-down in an oven preheated to 140 degrees C and leave them to dry for 10 minutes.
  • The jars must be clean, dry and warm when the hot chutney is added. As soon as you have filled the jar, cover the chutney with a waxed disc and seal with a glass, plastic or plastic-coated lid.
  • Do not use bare metal as the vinegar in the chutney would corrode it.

Traditional Welsh Cakes

Welsh cakes are amazing. They are almost a scone, but not as fluffy. They are made best using a skillet which helps to distribute the heat properly. They take a little longer to cook than pancakes (because they are thicker) and when they are done, they are best served coated with a think layer of sugar. Needless to say, these don’t really fit onto a diet plan, but completely worth the treat. I used the recipe from BBC Good food as a basis, but I’ve made a few adjustments to suit our house. 

Ingredients

  • 225g plain flour
  • 85g caster sugar
  • 100g butter , cut into small pieces
  • 50g mixed dried fruit
  • 1 egg , beaten
  • splash milk

Method

  • Tip the flour and, sugar,  into a bowl.
  • Then, with your fingers, rub in the butteruntil crumbly.
  • Mix in the dried fruit.
  • Work the egg into the mixture until you have soft dough, adding a splash of milk if it seems a little dry – it should be the same consistency as shortcrust pastry.
  • Roll out the dough on a lightly floured work surface to the thickness of your little finger.
  • Cut out rounds using a 6cm cutter, re-rolling any trimmings. (I used a medium size drinking glass as a cutter)
  • Grease a flat griddle pan or heavy frying pan with lard, and place over a medium heat.
  • Cook the Welsh cakes in batches, for about 3 mins each side, until golden brown, crisp and cooked through. Delicious served warm with butter and jam, or simply sprinkled with caster sugar.
  • Cakes will stay fresh in a tin for 1 week.

Vanilla Frozen Yoghurt

I’m trying out all sorts of healthy ice cream alternatives. This is a simple vanilla flavoured frozen yoghurt. 

  • 255g/9oz low fat natural fromage frais
  • 2 vanilla flavour Muller light
  • 1/2 level tbsp artificial sweetener
  • Few drops vanilla essence

Mix all the ingredients and insert into ice cream machine.

Follow the ice cream machine instructions.

Strawberry Frozen Yoghurt

I got an ice cream machine! After a bit of a faff, I finally figured out how it works (you need to put the big bowl in the freezer overnight first) I decided to throw some stuff together to make frozen yoghurt. It’s not ice cream, but its a much healthier option. 

Ingredients

  • 500ml fat free plain yoghurt
  • 1 tablespoon sweetener (I use a stevia based sweetener, it is miles ahead of any of the others)
  • 1 cup chopped strawberries

Method

Mix the ingredients together, then using a hand blender give it a few blitzes, but making sure there are still some bits and it is not completely smooth. Then follow the instructions on your ice cream machine and voilà!

Chocolate Mousse for 2

I have started a new eating regime because I am trying to work off all of those extra pounds I’ve gained from too many yummy things. I will of course remain committed to the blog, but I may chose to do a few more healthy recipes, and if nothing else, the unhealthy ones will have much smaller portion sizes. The thing I struggle with eating healthily is trying to get the most chocolate yumminess in with the least amount of calories. To help achieve that I went hunting for the most chocolatey yumminess and I came up with chocolate mousse. I used Raymond Blanc’s recipe because it uses egg whites and not buckets of cream, so hopefully it wont completely kill the diet. I also halved the recipe to only make 2 servings.

Ingredients

  • 3oz good-quality dark chocolate, minimum 60 per cent cocoa solids, roughly chopped (I used half Green & Blacks and half Hershey’s)
  • 4 free-range egg whites
  • 1/8 tsp lemon juice
  • ¾ oz caster sugar

Method

  • Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water (do not allow the base of the bowl to touch the water).
  • Whisk the egg whites and lemon juice in a large, clean bowl until they form soft peaks. The lemon juice will stabilise the egg whites, make them easier to work with and help to prevent over-whisking.
  • Add the sugar and continue to whisk until firm peaks form when the whisk is removed. Do not whisk beyond this stage – the egg whites will start to collapse and separate into dry froth and runny liquid, and you’ll lose all the air that you’ve whisked in.
  • When the chocolate has melted, remove the bowl from the heat. Whisk one-third of the egg whites into the hot chocolate quickly and vigorously, until thick and well combined – if you add the egg whites in too slowly, their cold temperature can make the hot chocolate seize, solidify and result in a lumpy mousse.
  • Fold the remaining egg whites into the chocolate mixture, using a spatula, until all of the egg white has been completely incorporated into the chocolate. Don’t overmix at this stage as you’ll knock out the air bubbles and the mousse will be dense.
  • Spoon the mousse mixture into four Martini glasses (of course I used my ramekins). Chill in the fridge for 2-3 hours, or until set.

Nutritional Info per serving

This is based on a few comparisons from various online sources, so don’t hold me to them too closely.

  • 257 Calories
  • 12.4g Total Fat
  • 36g Total Carbohydrates

For Slimming World followers, the recipes adds up to a whopping 15-20 syns, but it is so worth it.

Super Simple Pizza Dough

Nothing says the holidays quite like pizza. I have finally decided to try what I have wanted to for ages, home made pizza dough. I used the recipe from Delia online, but I used the method that I learned when making rye bread. I’ll explain as I go, but it’s much simpler and makes sure the yeast is working correctly before wasting the flour.  I used plain flour for the recipe, which gives the pizza base a fine dough rather than the heavy bready dough that really bad pizza bases have. This one is yummy. You really should use a pizza stone to bake this, which I don’t have, so I baked the base without any toppings for a few minutes, before taking it out, turning it over and dressing it, and baking it again. This makes sure that the base isn’t soggy. Of course I love thick pizza base, if you make it super thin I don’t think you’ll have the same problem. Good luck at finding the best bang for your pizza and your oven. 

Ingredients

  • 6 oz (175 g) plain white soft flour
  • 1 level teaspoon salt
  • 1 level teaspoon easy-blend dried yeast
  • ½ level teaspoon golden caster sugar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

 To roll out

  • 2-3 level tablespoons polenta (cornmeal)

Method

  • Pre-heat the oven to its lowest setting.
  • Begin by warming the flour slightly in the oven for about 10 minutes, then turn the oven off.
  • Sift the flour, salt, yeast and sugar into a bowl and make a well in the centre of the mixture, then add the olive oil and pour in 4 fl oz (120 ml) hand-hot water water. Now mix to a dough, starting off with a wooden spoon and using your hands in the final stages of mixing. Wipe the bowl clean with the dough, adding a spot more water if there are any dry bits left, and transfer it to a flat work surface (there shouldn’t be any need to flour)
  • Knead the dough for 3 minutes or until it develops a sheen and blisters under the surface (it should also be springy and elastic).
  • You can now either leave the dough on the surface covered by the upturned bowl or transfer the dough to a clean bowl and cover it with cling film that has been lightly oiled on the side that is facing the dough. Leave it until it looks as though it has doubled in bulk, which will be about an hour at room temperature.
  • Having made the dough and left it to rise, pre-heat the oven to gas mark 8, 450°F (230°C), along with the pizza stone or baking sheet.
  • The next stage is to tip the dough back on to a work surface that has been sprinkled generously with polenta to prevent it from sticking. Knock all the air out of the dough and knead it for a couple of seconds to begin shaping it into a ball. Then dust your rolling pin with polenta and roll the dough out to a circle that is approximately 10 inches (25.5 cm) in diameter. Then finish stretching it out with your hands, working from the centre and using the flat of your fingers to push the dough out; it doesn’t need to be a perfect round, but you want it to be a fairly thin-based pizza, with slightly raised edges.
  • Using a thick oven glove, very carefully lift the baking sheet or pizza stone out of the oven and sprinkle it with polenta. Now carefully lift the pizza dough on to the stone or baking sheet and cover the pizza with your choice of filling, taking it up to the raised edge.
  • Bake the pizza on a high shelf for 10-12 minutes, until the crust is golden brown.

Pancakes

When I was growing up in South Africa, it was tradition to have pancakes on wet, rainy days. I never really understood where the tradition came from, but I suppose it was a great way to keep the children occupied while they were stuck inside (needless to say this was before the new media age).

When we moved to the UK, we found that there was a different tradition involving pancakes. The Tuesday before the start of Lent is pancake Tuesday and most of the country eats pancakes. I’m up for pancakes anytime, the more pancakes the better!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (110g) Plain Flour
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) Baking Powder
  • 2 tablespoons (15ml) Sugar
  • 1 egg
  • +-1 1/2 cups (450ml) milk
  • 2 tablespoons (15ml) Oil for frying

Mix the flour and sugar together. Make a well in the middle of the flour and using a wooden spoon stir in approximately 400ml of the milk. Then add the egg and beat with a mixer.  If the mixture is too thick, add more milk until you have the right consistency.

Pour the oil into a frying pan and allow to heat up. Once hot, pour the oil out of the pan into a cup/jug (I use a mug).

Pour some mixture into the pan, enough batter to cover the bottom of the pan. Wait until the pancake is cooked through (it will have set on top) and turn over.

This mixtures serves about 10 pancakes (allowing for the broken and burnt ones), just enough for the two of us.

Serve with Cinnamon sugar (1/8 teaspoon cinnamon mixed with around 3 tablespoons Sugar), banana slices, nutella, chocolate sauce, ice cream or anything else you can think of.

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