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Saturday, June 23, 2012

Oreo Cheesecake & Chocolate Fudge Sauce

I made this for dessert a few weeks ago, and I absolutely loved it. I added some fudge sauce, and used different cookies in the base, and it turned out great. This was when my oven wasn't working, so I had to try some oven-free recipes for a change.

Oreo Cheesecake:
Here is the recipe.  Australia doesn't have graham crackers, or anything close, really. So, I took it as an opportunity to add more chocolate, and I used Arnott's Choc Ripple Biscuits. I added 2 tbsp of white sugar, and omitted the brown.

For the chocolate sauce, I used this recipe from Company's Coming Sweet Cravings, but I slightly changed a few things.

Chocolate Fudge Sauce:
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, or dark chocolate
1/4 cup butter
2/3 cup corn syrup, or glucose derived from corn (which is a lot thicker than corn syrup, but still works fine)
1/2 cup hot water
1 1/2 tsp instant coffee (optional)
1/16 tsp salt

1 cup icing sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla

Measure first 6 ingredients into a saucepan and heat over medium until mixture is smooth, and chocolate is melted. Be sure not to burn mixture, and stir constantly. Remove from heat. Sift icing sugar into a bowl. Poor a small amount of chocolate mixture into the icing sugar to form a paste. Poor the rest of the chocolate mixture in, and mix until smooth. Add vanilla and beat. Sauce thickens in the fridge, or add more icing sugar to achieve desired consistency. I find you can really taste the coffee, so it's more of a subtle mocha sauce, I think.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Vintage Find - Sifter

Here is another goodie. A sifter. I had one that worked OK, but was so loud I dreaded using it. I would picture metal shavings being added to my recipes as I listened to the squeal of metal on metal. This one cost $15 at an antique shop, and I'm so happy I bought it. It not only works perfectly, it's so lovely to look at.


Friday, June 8, 2012


I've had some time over the past many months to get some sewing done. Never as much as I would like, but at least I got some gifts done I had been planning on. Another bib... though it was planned for last August, it still made it in time for the cute babe it was meant for, sometime in October, I think. This boy's mother is my best friend from highschool. We met in grade 8 humanities (english / socials), and had classes together every year. We had a BLAST together - I have never known someone who was so in tune with me; we wore the same clothes all the time, by accident! People would ask if we were trying to be twins on purpose. We had many sleep overs, and watched every old horror movie you can think of, and I mean almost every one from the 80's. We binged on junk food like it was going out of style (and still do, when we can). We've managed to stay close, even though we also live so far apart. I think about our fun times together all the time. I miss her so much!

Another on recently sewn list is an apron for a very special girl I know. It was also planned for earlier in the year, but still made it out to her across the pond eventually.

And an apron for her very special mother, too. This special lady has been a friend to me my entire life, and I love her for it. We are cousins, who were great friends most of the time, but she had two older brothers who taught her a few things that she couldn't help but pass down to me. Lucky for me, we were usually on the same side of things, and I remember us two being bullies together! We had many adventures growing up, and she is one of the most special people I know. She also laughed her head off when I puked all over her in a road trip we had when we were young. That is someone amazing, if you ask me. I would have cried my eyes out! She's also probably the smartest person I know, talented, amazing mother & friend. And I miss her all the time.

Another apron, for the longest non-related friend I have had. We met in kindergarden (age 4), and have remained friends through many moves, and many years. We grew up running from the big kids in the neighborhood; having sleep overs and family outings together; lying to little brothers and sisters and getting in trouble for it; camping, hiking & swimming. We promised each other that we would get married to each other - I can't remember which one of us was going to be the man, but I think it was me, because I had short hair at the time. It was inconceivable that two women would get married, so we would have to trick everyone. She moved away when we went into grade 1, but we still managed to keep in contact, as our parents were friends. Then I moved away even farther in grade 3 (1,000 km), but our families still saw each other once a year, at least, most years. And though I have now moved even farther (12,000 km), we still manage to see each other every few years. It's incredible when I think of it. I grew up moving around, changing schools, always new and different friends, not many lasting the years... She is my longest friend, and I miss her every day too.

And two more make-up bags for presents & pick-me-up's. A friend of mine was diagnosed with breast cancer before Christmas. It's been a struggle for her, but she is nearing her last days of radiation, after a mastectomy & chemo. She's an amazingly strong, easy-going, optimistic and, most importantly, Christian, woman who I really admire. How do you tell someone you care when they are going through that? I feel like a gift is a lame attempt, but then I think of how special it is to get a package when you weren't expecting it. Even if it can lift someones spirits for a few minutes, it's worth it. I sent her a make-up bag with some word puzzles for the long waits in waiting rooms, and a cookie-in-a-jar mix, for a day when she might feel like eating something home baked, and it wouldn't require too much effort.


Saturday, June 2, 2012

Caramel Date Cupcakes

I've been away again, for quite some time, I see. I've been back a few times, written a post or two, and then not finished it for whatever reason, thinking I would get back to it soon... I guess always think my breaks will be shorter than they end up being. But I suppose if breaks mean my life is busy, then that's not such a bad reason to stop blogging. But I've been itching to get back on here again. I keep meaning to add more content, even if it's without commentary. I'd like to add more of a photo-journal type thing on here too. I love looking at my old blogs, and remembering the lovely days out and about, or cute creatures I tend to photograph...

I would still like to add to my list of recipes I have growing here.  My oven was out of commission recently, for over 2 months, and I was devastated. I had to get a little creative, so I tried a few different, non-oven, recipes I've been a little nervous to try... a few worth mentioning here.

I also keep trying to remember a favorite recipe for this-or-that and realize I haven't documented it here yet. I'd like to keep tabs on these things in some sort of organized way...not loose papers pinned to my cork-board... or in a pile on top of my printer (printers make great shelves if you use the cassette feeder!)
AND FINALLY, here is a fantastic recipe I slightly changed from a Women's Weekly cookbook I received for my birthday last year. I pretty much omitted the chocolate from the original recipe, and then made a caramel glaze instead. Chocolate, as much as I love it, seemed wrong in this instance (there is 1/2 cup semi-sweet / dark chocolate chips added to the batter, if you feel up for it, and a chocolate glaze icing in the original recipe).

1 3/4 cups (250g) seeded dried dates
1 1/3 cups (330ml) boiling water
1 tsp baking soda / bicarbonate of soda
125g (just less than 1/2 cup, approx*)  butter, softened
3/4 cup (165g) packed brown sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups (225g) self-raising flour / self-rising (or use this recipe to make it, if you don't have any), sifted
60g (1/4 cup, approx) butter
1/2 cup (110g) packed brown sugar
2 tbsp cream (or milk)
3/4 cup (120g) icing sugar

1. Preheat over to 180°C / 160°C fan forced / 350°F.
2. Prepare16 cupcake pans with liners or butter / grease.
3. Bring dates and water to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove from heat, stir in soda, and let sit for 10 minutes. Blend mixture until smooth, and cool another 10 minutes.
4. Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one a time, beating beating between each addition.
5. Stir in flour and date mixture.
6. Fill cupcake tins, and bake for about 25 minutes. Allow to cool 10 minutes before turning onto wire rack.
7. Prepare icing by stirring butter, brown sugar and cream in a small saucepan over heat until sugar dissolves. Then bring to the boil, and simmer, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, and slowly poor into icing sugar, beating as you go, to avoid lumps.
8. Spread onto cakes, and enjoy :)

 So moist, and just the right amount of density to not be so cupcake-y. This could be a real dessert! With some vanilla ice cream, of course.

* the reason I have so many measurements, is that I know this blog is read from mainly Australia & North America, and therefore everyone can use these recipes. I found it very frustrating when I first moved to Australia to find that most recipes required a scale. I still rarely use one, so I have found ways to convert most measurements. Also, Australian & North American measurements are slightly different (Tbsp size, etc), but they usually don't make a difference in the outcome of the recipes - I have never noticed a difference.