Sunday, 22 December 2013

Rocky Road Brownies

Rocky Road, who loves rocky road? Its that crunch of the peanuts, the juicy squeeze of the red raspberry lollies and the melting chocolate all mixed into one. Now just add a chocolate brownie and you're in heaven. This is a recipe I found a long time ago and then lost it, but the idea was still there, so I made my own up.

The best part of rocky road is you can make it simple or extravagant as you want. In the recipe below, I will so you the extravagant side of rocky. This is also a really good recipe for Christmas gifts. 

The great thing about this recipe also, it doesn't take all day in the kitchen to have a final product. You can do the cooking in the morning and be enjoying the rocky for after Christmas lunch.

Here in Australia it is normally hot (I say normally because at this very moment in time, it is raining and cold) so having roasts is not the best option some times. Slaving away in a hot kitchen when it can be 40 plus degrees outside is not good. After these are refrigerated, it is a nice cool, and very tasty treat on a hot summers day.

What you need:
75g plain flour
30g cocoa powder
155g caster sugar
2 eggs
125g melted butter
150g of mini marshmallows
100g pistachio nuts (husks removed)
100g glace cherries
25g shredded coconut 
200g milk chocolate
100g dark chocolate

How to:
1) Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Brush a 20 x 30cm (approx) baking tin with some of the melted butter. Line the tray with baking paper with the sides overhanging. 

2) Sift the flour and cocoa powder into a large bowl. Stir in the sugar. Make a well in the centre and add the eggs and melted butter. Stir to combine. 

3) Pour the mixture into the baking tin and bake for 20 minutes. Set aside in the pan and allow to cool. Keep the brownie in the pan, do not remove.

4) Combine the marshmallows, cherries, pistachios and coconut in a bowl. Melt the chocolate and add to the mixture. Stir to combine.

5) Pour the chocolate mixture over the brownie and spread the mixture over out evenly. Place in the fridge until the chocolate has set. Once the mixture has set, slice anyway you want and enjoy.

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Sunday, 15 December 2013

Baklava (Baklawa)

I have always enjoyed the sweet and sticky taste of Baklava. The crunch of the pastry and nuts just brings a smile to my face. For me, when I think of Baklava, I always think Greece. I was chatting to a work colleague who is from Lebanon and he told me that they have their own style Baklava. Of course, me loving Middle Eastern food and Baklava, couldn't believe my ears.

With the Greek style Baklava, you have spices such as cinnamon and cloves. With the Middle Eastern version, you have things like rose water and orange blossom. Having one of these Baklava after a hearty Tagine just hits the spot, just like an after dinner mint.

Like the Turkish Delight I made for one of my first recipes, this is very sticky, but so much more easy to handle than the Turkish Delight. There is two components to this recipe; the sugar syrup and the Baklava. The best way to do this is to start the Baklava and when it is in the oven, start the sugar syrup.


What you need:
1 x 375g packet filo pastry
180g of butter, melted
1 cup of crushed peanuts
1 quantity of sugar syrup HOT (see below)
1/4 cup coarsely ground pistachio nuts

How to:
1) Preheat the oven to 220 degrees C. Cut the filo pastry sheets to the size of your baking tin. Brush the baking tin liberally with melted butter.

2) Layer half the filo pastry sheets in the tin, brushing every second sheet with butter.

3) Spread the peanuts evenly over the pastry.

4) Cover with the remaining filo pastry, again brushing every second sheet with butter. Do not brush the top layer, not yet.

5) With a sharp knife, cut the Baklava into diamonds. Now brush the top with the melted butter.

6) Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 180 degrees C and bake for a further 30 minutes or until golden brown. This is the best time to start the sugar syrup.

7) Remove from the oven and pour over the hot sugar syrup. You may hear a sizzling sound - this is normal.

8) Sprinkle the pistachio nuts over the top and allow to cool, then serve.


What you need:
400g white sugar
1 tbs lemon juice
1 tbs of either rose water or orange blossom
1 1/2 cups of water

How to:
1) Bring the sugar, lemon juice and water to the boil over medium heat.

2) Cover and let boil for about 20 minutes or until the sugar has dissolved and the syrup is thick.

3) Stir in the rose water or orange blossom and remove from the heat.

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