Mars bar cheesecake (no-bake)

Serves 8

Ingredients:

  • 250g plain chocolate biscuits
  • 150g butter, melted
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 20g butter, extra
  • 300ml thickened cream
  • 50g milk chocolate, chopped finely
  • 3 tsps gelatin
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) water
  • 2 x 250g packets cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup (110g) caster sugar
  • 3 x 60g Mars bars, chopped finely

Method:

  1. Process/crush biscuits until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add butter, process/mix until just combined. Using one hand, press crumb mixture evenly over base and side of 21cm springform tin. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes or until firm.
  2. Meanwhile, combine brown sugar, extra butter and 2 tbsps of the cream in a small saucepan; stir over low heat until sugar dissolves, to make butterscotch sauce.
  3. Combine chocolate and another 2 tbsps of cream in another small saucepan; stir over low heat until chocolate melts.
  4. Sprinkle gelatine over the water in a small heatproof jug; stand jug in small saucepan of simmering water. Stir until gelatine dissolves; then let cool for 5 minutes.
  5. Beat cheese and caster sugar in medium bowl with electric mixer until smooth. Beat remaining cream in small bowl with electric mixer until soft peaks form. Stir slightly warm gelatine mixture into cream cheese mixture; stir in Mars bars; fold in cream.
  6. Pour half of the cream cheese mixture into prepared tin; drizzle half of the butterscotch and chocolate sauces over the mixture. Pull skewer backwards and forward through the mixture several times go create a marbled effect. Repeat process with remaining mixture and sauces.
  7. Cover cheesecake and refrigerate 3 hours or until set.

Note:  You can also melt the milk chocolate and cream in a microwave oven; cook on HIGH (100%) for about 1 minute, stirring twice during cooking time.

Spinach and bacon parcels

Spinach bacon parcels

Ingredients:

  • 4-6 leaves of fresh silverbeet
  • 3-4 eggs
  • 500g bacon, diced small
  • 1 cup grated cheese
  • 1 cup fresh (or 1/2 cup dry) breadcrumbs
  • 1 tbsp parmesan cheese
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or finely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 4 sheets of frozen puff pastry

Method:

  1. Trim silverbeet off the stalks and wash well; shred and cook until collapsed; drain well.
  2. Remove rind and surplus fat from the bacon and cut up small. Cook in a saucepan until nice and brown.
  3. Add the chopped onion and garlic and cook until onion is clear. Allow to cool.
  4. Grate the cheese and put out pastry sheets to defrost. Prepare fresh breadcrumbs if using.
  5. Put breadcrumbs, cheese, and silverbeet into the saucepan with the bacon and stir; then add the eggs and seasonings and stir well. Mixture should be moist but not runny.
  6. Divide mixture into four portions and place each portion onto one side of the pastry square. Spread the mixture to within 2cms of the edge of pastry on two sides to form a triangle. Do not wet edges as puff pastry will seal better if not wet. Fold over and seal.
  7. Bake on greased trays in a hot oven until cooked.

Note:  These pastries are nice hot or cold, and can be made smaller for an entrée or snack.

(photo credit: penguincakes via photopin cc)

Caramel mud cake

This caramel mud cake is rich, dense and delicious. If you love caramel, then this cake is for you!

Caramel mud cake Ingredients:

  • 125g unsalted butter, chopped
  • 100g white chocolate, chopped coarsely
  • 225g brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 150g plain flour
  • 1/3 cup (50g) self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 3 eggs, beaten lightly (use only 2 eggs for a denser cake)

Ingredients (caramel frosting):

  • 185g butter, chopped
  • 1.5 cups firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (100ml) milk
  • 2 cups pure icing sugar, sifted

Ingredients (chocolate ganache):

  • 2/3 cup dark chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 2 tabs double cream

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to slow. Grease 22cm-round cake pan; line base and side with baking paper, extending paper 5cm above edge of pan.
  2. Combine the butter, chocolate, sugar and water in medium saucepan; stir over low heat until mixture is smooth. Transfer mixture to large bowl; cool 15 minutes. Whisk in both flours, then essence and eggs.
  3. Pour mixture into prepared pan; bake in a slow oven for about 1 hour (see tip below). Stand in pan 10 minutes; turn onto wire rack to cool.
  4. Place cake, top side up, on serving plate; allow to cool.
  5. Slice cake in half sideways to form a base and a lid.  Spread the base with a third of the caramel frosting; cover with the top half of the cake. Spread the remaining frosting over the the cake.

Method (caramel frosting):

  1. Melt butter in small saucepan.
  2. Stir in brown sugar and milk; bring to a boil. Reduce heat then simmer, uncovered, for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  3. Gradually stir in icing sugar until frosting is of spreadable consistency.

Method (chocolate ganache):

  1. Place dark chocolate and double cream in a small microwavable bowl.
  2. Heat on high for 15 second intervals, checking if the chocolate can be stirred.
  3. Once, the chocolate has melted enough to stir, stir until it is a smooth and shiny consistency.
  4. Allow the ganache to cool slightly, then place it in a piping bag. Using the piping bag, add a dot of ganache to the middle of the cake, then draw rings around it (like a target). Then, using a skewer, draw alternating lines back and forth through the rings to create a chevron appearance.

Tip:  If the cake starts to rise above the tin but is not quite cooked, cover it loosely with foil.

(photo credit: afeitar via photopin cc)

Mulled wine

Mulled wine

Ingredients:

  • 3 bottles (2.25L) cheap red wine (Lambrusco is good)
  • 2 cloves
  • 5 inch stick cinnamon
  • Grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
  • Juice of 2 oranges
  • 9oz (250g) sugar cubes
  • 1 pint (600ml) dark rum or brandy

Method:

  1. Put wine and grated lemon rind into a large pan and heat gently.
  2. Stir in the lemon and orange juices.
  3. Pack sugar cubes into a stainless steel sieve and set it across the top of the pan.
  4. Warm the rum/brandy slowly and pour over some sugar.
  5. Set fire to it, adding more rum from time to time to keep flames alight.
  6. When all the sugar has melted, stir well and serve.

(photo credit: rpavich via photopin cc)

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