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    Entries in chocolate (46)


    Fat Witch Brownies book review

                       fat witch brownie with added chocolate on top

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    Books make such fabulous stocking stuffers, I thought I'd review a few cookbooks in the lead up to the holidays. Starting with one that's been out for a while, 'Fat Witch Brownies: Brownies, Blondies and Bars from New York's Legendary Fat Witch Bakery'. 

    This book is extremely well reviewed on Amazon , many of the reviewers compare the bought brownies from the bakery with the recipes from the book so I'll keep my review short and sweet.

    The leafy outer suburb of Melbourne is worlds away from New York's Legendary Fat Witch Bakery, but it's here that I baked half dozen recipes from the Fat Witch book... three of which I'll be talking about today.

    The small format book is full of promise, beautiful photos, 50 plus recipes, smart use of one 9x9 inch cake pan for all recipes (closest 22 cm in Oz) and a warm chatty tone that emanates from author Patricia Helding. Unfortunately, it doesn't quite live up to expectations starting with the disappointing "Fat Witch" brownie that is more cakey than fudgy. I baked this one twice, the second time pictured at top of page was sprinkled if chocolate pieces to add more flavour. Look, it's not awful... but it's not that flavourful either, plus it's a cake brownie not the promised chocolately fudgy hit I was expecting. That said, my best friend Jacinta liked this brownie and it's made it's way to parties where it has been well recieved. 

    The cocoa brownie on the following page is "ok" too... but not "wow!". 

    frozen cream cheese brownie

    Step son Daniel loves cheesecake so next up was the frozen cream cheese brownie. This tasted more like a brownie, but I did change the filling the second time around adding vanilla and sour cream. I'd make these again with the adjusted filling.

    banana bread brownie

    Then we tried the banana bread brownie... which in no way resembles any brownie I've ever seen/tasted. Dense, moist with good flavours, this will probably end up on my "goodness, the bananas have gone brown" rotation. It's is an odd one, particularly texturally!! 

    The book contains a wide selection of brownies, blondies and bars, plus frostings and glazes and tips. It is a nice slice/bar book, but not the "I'll never need another brownie recipe" book I was expecting. 

    Later today, yes today!.... there is another brownie story coming up, plus a competition to win a stocking stuffer recipe book.

    Until then, happy baking :)


    Chocolate Chilli Focaccia

                                        chocolate chilli focaccia

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    My Step son Daniel is in a world of pain at the moment as he remains sleepless and stuck in front of his Mac editing his end of year movie for film school. 

    Though he could always swap career paths and become a chef... one of Daniel's fab recipes today. A chocolate studded focaccia with a little warmth from chilli and cinnamon. Enjoy :) 

    Oh, and don't forget if you have a spare minute go push that "like" button on facebook to support a young film maker. You do want to see the promised trailer for a romantic comedy featuring beards don't you!!

    Daniel getting some love from one of his actors in A Bearded Tale

    Foccia Dolce (sweet focaccia) - Chocolate Chilli  Focaccia

    Preparation Time 30 minutes 

    Rising Time 30 minutes

    Cooking Time 30 minutes

    Makes 1 loaf


    310ml (1 1/4 cups) warm water

    2 tsp (7g/1 sachet) dried yeast

    2 tablespooons caster sugar

    3 1/2 tbs olive oil

    450g (3 cups) plain flour

    1 tsp ground cinnamon

    1/4 tsp dried chilli flakes

    1 tsp of salt

    200g (7oz) dark chocolate cut into chunks

    coarse sugar to sprinkle

    Plus icing sugar (confectioners sugar) to dust on top of finished focaccia


    Combine the water, yeast, sugar and 2 tablespoons of oil in a small bowl. Set aside in a warm, draught-free place for 5 minutes or until frothy.

    Place flour and  the sea salt, chili and cinnamon in a bowl… whisk with a wire whisk. Make a well in the centre and pour in yeast mixture. Use a wooden spoon to stir until combined, then use your hands to bring the dough together in the bowl.

    Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Brush a bowl with oil to grease. Place dough in bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a damp tea towel. Set aside in a warm, draught-free place for 30 minutes or until doubled in size.

    Preheat oven to 200°C. Brush a 20 x 30cm (7.87x11.81 inches approx) Swiss roll pan with 2 teaspoons of remaining oil. Punch down centre of the dough with your fist. Press into the prepared pan. Cover with a damp tea towel and set aside in a warm, draught-free place to prove for 20 minutes or until doubled in height. Use your finger to press dimples into the dough. Brush with remaining oil. Press the chocolate chunks into the dough. Sprinkle with a little coarse sugar.

    Bake in oven for 20-30 minutes or until golden and focaccia sounds hollow when tapped on base. Serve warm or at room temperature, dusted with icing sugar.


    Donna Hay Packet Mix Reviews

                                       donna hay packet mix macarons

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    Donna Hay has a range of cake mixes available in Australia,  today we are looking at the chocolate cupcakes mix and the almond macaron mix. One is a nigh on perfect example of a great packet mix, the other.... well, the other is photographed above!! 

    Bit nervous about making macarons and thought you might give a packet mix a try?? This part of the story is sub titled "Mark makes macarons" because my non-cooking hubbie Mark thought he would in fact give it a try!

    Mark Makes Macarons

    Donna Hay Macaron mix

    We bought a pack of the Donna Hay Almond Macaron Mix for $7.99 at our local Woolworths supermarket. 

    Inside the box you will find, the almond mixture, an egg mixture and a sachet of dark chocolate pieces. You only need water for the macaron itself and 2 tablespoons of cream for the filling.

    Mark was looking confident when he set about pre heating the oven, lining the baking tray and still confident at the whipping the egg white mixture and sifting over the almond mixture; it's at this point it started to go awry with "gently fold through".

    The egg mixture after the 4 minutes beating on high is very stiff.

    When Mark did "gently fold through" the almond mixture into the egg mixture he ended up with billowy clouds of raw almondy meringue; when Mark "dropped" one tablespoon at a time as per the instructions this is what you end up with...

    After baking, Mark turned temperental chef and didn't want to fill his oversized cracked macarons with the chocolate ganache filling (which was set firm by this stage). Instead I warmed the ganache and I drizzled it over the macarons, topped with berries and a scoop of ice-cream. Slightly placated Mark was still grumbling "told you I can't cook" far into the night. Mark didn't make a mistake, he followed the instructions as many novice macaron bakers would. 

    Too much fuss for a packet mix?? There is a .pdf that I downloaded from Donna Hay's website, because this packet mix comes with alternative step by step instructions. 

    Step Four on box says to "Drop 1 tablespoon of mixture at a time onto baking trays"... this changes in the .pdf to Step Five where you are dropping in a "circular motion". The filling is made at the end of the process rather that the beginning like on the box.

    Neither way results in an attractive (normal?) macaron, you'll have to pipe the macaron mix for that. Break down the meringue a bit by firmly folding, until the mixture drops off your spoon looking "lava" like... then you will have a greater chance of getting the "foot"on your macarons.

    You really should be aiming for this.... here almond macarons I made last week (from scratch) are ready to go in the oven. 

    how piped macaron mix should look on trays

    Donna Hay Chocolate Cupcake packet mix

    Donna Hay Chocolate Cupcakes packet mix $7.99 Woolworths Supermarket


    In the box... the cake mix, frosting mix and plain dark brown cupcake cases.

    Quick, easy and as close to home made as you can get from a packet.... just add butter, eggs and milk. The Donna Hay Chocolate cupcakes baked perfectly, frosting was good and everyone that tasted these loved them.

    My step sons Mum made these too... same result, great cupcakes with a home made taste. 

    Donna Hay Macaron and Cupcake mixes available in Australia from Woolworths supermarkets and online at Donna Hay   and for Donna Hay's step by step instructions on how to pack packet mix macarons download the .pdf here.

    You might also be interested in TAKE 5... five packet brownie recipes tested including Donna Hay Molten Chocolate Brownies. 

    warm Donna Hay Molten Chocolate Brownie


    Chocolate Peanut Butter Spiders

                                         chocolate peanut butter spiders

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    Finishing off "easy ideas" week with Chocolate Peanut Butter Spiders. Five minutes and three ingredients, that's all you'll need to make 24 crunchy and chocolately mini spiders. 

    If your an Australian with kids you have probably made these or eaten these before, they are made with the popular fried noodles made by 'Chang's'. This is pretty much the recipe you will find on the packet and I added black cachous on the dark spiders for the extra crunch of "spider eggs" ;) 

    Chang's Original Fried Noodles


    1 pkt Chang’s Original Fried Noodles 100g (3.5oz)
    2 Tablespoons Crunchy Peanut Butter
    200g (7oz) chopped Milk or Dark Chocolate... this can eating chocolate like I used today or cooking chocolate or even compound chocolate/candy melts if you prefer. 

    Optional: black cachous 


    Microwave chocolate and peanut butter in microwave safe mixing bowl for about 30 seconds on high. If not melted, then microwave again in 5 second intervals. Stir until smooth. Add noodles, stir lightly with a metal spoon until well coated. With a teaspoon, spoon the mixture onto non-stick baking paper or mat. Using heaped teaspoons, this mixture will yield 24 to 40 spiders. Top with black cachous if using. 

    black cachous for spider eggs

    Place in refrigerator until set. Package as gifts or just eat them straight away!!

    Happy weekend baking :) 


    Amore Frangelico Truffles

                                        amore frangelico truffle

    Golden truffles laced with Frangelico are a decadent ending for a sumptuous Italian banquet or that bowl of spag bol that you plan to zap in the microwave. 

    Pile them high on a collared full sized cake, use single truffles as cupcake toppers, eat them as they are with an accompanying expresso or better still a glass of Frangelico. 

    Frangelico the Italian Hazelnut liqueur with it's hints of cocoa and vanilla is like liquid Nutella for grownups. Best bit, Frangelico is produced in miniatures so you don't have to buy a giant bottle; I do, buy the giant bottle particularly for the Christmas season when I use it for cakes, puddings and the like.Frangelico with it's distinctive friar in his habit shaped bottle

    Gold Lustre Dust is metallic edible food decorating powder, available from cake decorating suppliers.

    various metallic gold lustre dusts

    Amore Frangelico Truffles

    makes 20 to 24 truffles


    250g (8.8 oz) dark eating chocolate

    2 tsp Frangelico liqueur 

    125 grams (4.4 oz) mascarpone cheese

    cocoa powder to coat

    gold lustre dust


    In a heat proof bowl over saucepan quarter filled with simmering water, melt the chocolate. Stir in the liqueur. Remove from heat, allow to cool until just warm. Stir in the mascarpone.

    Refrigerate 20 minutes or until firm enough to roll into truffle sized balls. Roll balls and toss them in cocoa powder to coat. Once all the balls are coated, dust top half with gold lustre dust. Refrigerate until needed, let them come to room temperature before serving. 

    Variations; swap the liqueur... chocolate and coffee liqueurs work well, but don't forget orange or even mint.


    Tomato Soup Chocolate Truffles and Cupcake Topping

      tomato soup cupcake topped with chocolate tomato soup ganache

    Back blogging today :) please do join me on Facebook too :) 

    Tomato Soup or "Mystery Cake";  This odd cake of American origins dates back to at least the 1930's and uses canned tomato soup (usually the iconic Campbell's) as an ingredient. 

    Nigella has a version and renowned baker Rose Levy Beranbaum says the tomato soup adds "zing" to the recipe. 

    Goodness me... I'm definitely getting "onion/garlic" but I'm not sure about "zing". I'm wondering if Campbell's Tomato Soup is a different formula in Australia??? Grab a can out of your pantry if you're not from Oz and let me know what is in your tomato soup.... 

                   ingredient list Campbell's Tomato in Australia

    I made Rose Levy Bernbaum's Chocolate Tomato Cake with Mystery Ganache. Now, I do love "Rose" and 'Rose's Heavenly Cakes' is one of favourite cake books, but I don't like this cake at all. My step son Dan and I found at first bite you taste chocolate, but  shortly after an unpleasant aftertaste sets in.

    Slightly more successful was the "Mystery ganache" which I used to make truffles, mmmm not sure if I really like them but it does have that fun "what is it" factor. Oh, the truffles would be great for any Warhol themed event too :)

    The following is a tweaked version (*almost exactly the same!!) of Rose Levy Bernbaum's Mystery Ganache recipe;


    1/4 cup of Campbell's tomato soup 

    1 1/2 cups cream

    370 grams (13 oz) dark eating chocolate  


    Chop chocolate into small pieces with a serrated knife, alternatively use a food processor taking care not to over process. Transfer chopped chocolate into a heat proof bowl. 

    In a saucepan heat cream and tomato soup, stirring once or twice until the mixture just comes to the simmer and small bubbles appear around the edges. 

    Pour hot cream mixture over chopped chocolate and let sit for 2-3 minutes, stir until mixture is smooth. At this stage you can use the chocolate as a glaze cake topping like I have in the cake pictured at top. To do this you can either pour over the liquid ganache or dip the top of cake into it. 

    To make simple tomato soup chocolate truffles, refrigerate the chocolate soup mixture until firm enough to roll into balls, then toss the balls in cocoa to coat. Refrigerate until serving time, bring to room temperature for full flavour. 

                           chocolate tomato soup truffles

    PS promised Japanese Slipper Cupcake recipe.

    Happy Baking :)

    * want to try Nigella's tomato soup cake? ... recipe on her official blog here


    The Men Bake Birthday Cake

    A slice of what the men can do!! Chocolate peppermint birthday cake.

    It's my birthday and husband Mark and Step son Daniel baked me a cake!! This year they baked their first full sized cake from scratch & what a fabulous result!! Mark actually came away from the experience saying "oh, that's easy!" something I didn't think I'd ever hear. 

    They used a Nigella Lawson recipe for 'Dense Chocolate Loaf Cake' page 166 from 'How To Be A Domestic Goddess'. Mark and Dan used a square 23 x 23cm (9 x 9in) pan instead of the loaf pan, topped the cake with peppermint whipped cream, chocolate ganache and crushed peppermint candy bars.

    If you can't recall last years birthday cake it was a "do it yourself" chocolate peppermint cake ;) A bought chocolate cake with chocolate peppermint candy bars to crush as topping. Truthfully, I'd love any cake they gave me, but it was extra special this year with them baking for me!

     I learnt a few lessons watching the less experienced bake, what I just take for granted everyone knows i.e. "creaming the butter and sugar" Mark didn't know and was asking "how much cream?". I will discuss it with you more fully at a later date... but for now it's my birthday and I'm off to do birthday things.

    Happy Baking :)


    Dreams of Chocolate Cream

    'dreams of chocolate cream cupcake' featuring chocolate shells with three chocolate creams

    Often overlooked for more complex frostings & fillings, Chocolate cream is versatile & easy, whether it's beaten to stiff peaks, piped or plopped, flavoured or boozy. Try topping your next pavlova with clouds of chocolate cream & chocolate dipped strawberries, as a filling for your layer cakes, a plop of chocolate liqueur cream in your cup of hot chocolate or just as a quick piped topping on your favourite chocolate cupcake. 

    All the chocolate creams start with chilling your large mixing bowl and beaters for 15 minutes prior to commencing. I use caster sugar to sweeten the cream, but by all means just use regular granulated sugar if you prefer. Whipping cream in Australia is sold in 300ml (approx. 10 fluid oz) bottles as "thickened cream". 

    1. CHOCOLATE CREAM with grated chocolate

    300ml (10 fluid oz) thickened/whipping cream 

    1/2 tsp pure vanilla essence/extract

    1 tablespoon of caster sugar (or to taste)

    50g (1.7oz) Milk or Dark eating chocolate, grated

    Place cream, vanilla & sugar into your mixing bowl. Stir to combine. Whip until soft peaks form, add grated chocolate and continue beating to desired stiffness.

    2. CHOCOLATE CREAM with cocoa

    300ml (10 fluid oz) thickened/whipping cream

    1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder (preferably dutch processed cocoa)

    2 1/2 tablespoons caster sugar (superfine)

    1/2 tsp pure vanilla essence/extract

    boiling water

    In a small bowl mix cocoa powder and enough boiling water to create a smooth paste, set aside. Place cream, vanilla & sugar into your mixing bowl. Stir to combine. Whip until soft peaks form, add cooled cocoa paste and continue beating to desired stiffness.

    3. CHOCOLATE CREAM with melted chocolate (my favourite for piping)

    300ml (10 fluid oz) thickened whipping cream

    60 grams (2oz) dark, milk or white eating chocolate, melted

    1 tablespoon caster sugar or to taste

    1/2 tsp pure vanilla essence/extract

    Place cream, vanilla & sugar into your mixing bowl. Stir to combine. Whip until soft peaks form, add cooled melted chocolate and continue beating to desired stiffness.


    For boozy chocolate cream omit vanilla from recipe add one to two tablespoon of chocolate, mint or orange liqueur, rum or brandy to the above recipes... beating in after the cream reaches the soft peak stage.  

    Flavours... omit vanilla from recipe,  replace with essence/extract flavour of choice or replace melted plain melted chocolate with a flavoured variety.

    So fill those cupcakes, pipe those pastries, top those strawberries, layer it up or make that sundae and start dreaming up more ideas for your chocolate cream. 

    Happy baking :)

    Now your thinking of chocolate you might also like...

     Baci Chocolate ice-cream


    Toblerone dessert in 30 minutes!! 


                                    Toblerone dessert in 30 minutes


    A super quick and easy "emergency" dessert today for the holiday season. It's creamy, it's chocolaty, it's yummy and it's ready in only 30 minutes!

    Makes 8 small or 6 medium or 4 "husband Mark" sized serves.


    200 gram (7oz)  Milk or Dark Toblerone (melted)

    500g (17.5 oz) *softened Philadelphia Cream Cheese

    1/2 cup sour cream

    1/2 cup caster sugar (superfine sugar)

    1 tsp vanilla 

    Optional... 2 tablespoons of chocolate, or honey, or almond liqueur


    200 gram (7oz) Milk or Dark Toblerone 

    thick cream

    honey to drizzle

    flaked, chopped or silvered toasted almonds


    Beat softened cream cheese with caster sugar until smooth. Add melted Toblerone, sour cream, vanilla and liqueur if using and beat until combined.

                              beaten cream cheese

     melt toblerone in a metal or glass bowl over a pan of barely simmering water until just melted.

     beaten Toblerone mixture still contains the pieces of honey nougat from the chocolate bar

    Spoon into small serving glasses, bowls or ramekins. 

    Top with a spoonful of thick cream, toasted almonds, Toblerone pieces and a drizzle of honey... that's it, ready to serve! 

    If you do want to make ahead of time, spoon the Toblerone mixture into glasses, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until required. Just before serving add the toppings. 

    *to soften your cream cheese roughly chop and place in a microwave safe bowl, zap on low in 30 second increments  until soft. 

    Notes: reduce the fat in the dessert by substituting light sour cream and light Philly cheese for the full fat varieties. 

    You might also like:

    Mini Chocolate Cake Puddings

       Ode to Bounty Bar Cupcakes


    Mini Chocolate Cake Christmas Puddings

      quick and easy mini Tia Maria chocolate cake Christmas puddings cupcake toppers

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    It started yesterday with a "pucker", not a Jamie Oliver pucker but rather puckering cupcake liners after I baked chocolate sour cream cupcakes. 


     puckering of the liner caused by a higher fat recipe, is this case sour cream

    Hmmm, what to do? Why crumble the cakes and make mini puds of course! Small faux Christmas puddings are popular in Australia, although usually made from crumbled fruit cake I thought a chocolate version would placate all those that gag at the thought of dried fruit. Besides, they have Tia Maria in them so you know they are going to be good!

    Whilst there is no hard and fast recipe for these, I'm giving an example recipe made from six crumbled cupcakes... it will all depend on what cake you have on hand, store bought or homemade; chocolate mud cake, choc sour cream cake, chocolate pound cake or any moist dense chocolate cake would be good.

    Makes 18 mini puddings for mini cupcake toppers or 12 mini puddings to serve in chocolate cases.


    6 crumbled moist chocolate cupcakes

    150g (5.3oz) melted dark eating chocolate

    3 tablespoons of *Tia Maria

    1/4 cup of cold black coffee sweetened to taste

    For decorating you will need melted white chocolate and any of the following... green and red sprinkles, edible glitter, chopped green and red glace cherries, chopped green and red jelly lollies or do what I did and make fondant leaves and a "cherry". 


    I started with 6 chocolate cupcakes and crumbled them into a mixing bowl.

    Stir in your melted chocolate and Tia Maria. Scoop up a little of mixture and squeeze it in your hand, if it feels moist and stays together it's ready, if it feels dry add a little of the coffee repeating the squeeze test until you have a truffle like consistency. Roll a practice ball, it should be smooth with no "cracking", add more coffee if necessary. 

    Moist mixture stays together and can easily rolled into balls

    Roll your pudding balls and top with a small amount of *melted white chocolate and top with sprinkles of choice.

    I used mine to top 12 mini ganache topped cupcakes. Just so cute they would make a perfect chocolate lovers gift this holiday season.

    Happy Baking :)

    *for orange choc mini puddings replace the Tia Maria and Coffee with Grand Marnier and orange juice.

    *for an alcohol free version replace the Tia Maria and Coffee with orange juice and also add 1/2 teaspoon of orange zest

    Mini cupcake liners from Martha Stewart Crafts ... note postage to Australia is slow, about 4 weeks.