Sunday, 16 December 2012

Chocolate Christmas!

Sunday morning...pancakes have been made, devoured and are digesting...slowly. Coffee is hot, the dog is lying in the sunshine, the cat curled up in her corner of the world and the son & heir....well, he's doing what many 11 year old boys do - play cricket on the PlayStation until his little mate arrives to play the real thing. Brushing up his skills he tells me! 

I'm just out of my jammies and into trackies - yes, its all about class here on slow Sundays! Haven't checked the mirror yet for bed hair, sleepy eyes and dream chaos; best not to and just get cooking. It's time for (more) hot chocolate fudge sauce. Same recipe as yesterday, but a little more carefully as I convert to metric, exactly as my scales tell me. This time I also stir the cream, golden syrup (oh my that stuff is heaven!), sugar and cocoa BEFORE I heat the hell out of it and add the chocolate. When I tried this last week, it went a bit grainy because I hadn't combined the ingredients properly. 'From little things BIG things grow' or rather, big mistakes happen (to take a really beautiful song line from Paul Kelly and turn it into a foodie mantra!).

I'm cleaning the old labels from the jars. I've decided soapy water and patience is the best trick, although I've read everything from vinegar to oil to peanut butter works! I'm not wasting good (and expensive peanut butter, especially when I've only got organic macadamia nut paste in the pantry). 

I decide I don't like my labels and spend the next few hours cutting, drawing, and gluing new ones together. I'm happy with plain old brown paper, white tags and string. Simple.

I now have 12 jars of delicious decadence - fudge sauce, salted caramel and lemon curd (thought I'd whip up another batch with the duck eggs I get from a lady at work). They look great, taste unbelievable and now I need a little lie down with a packet of chips, I'm sugared out!

This recipe is adapted from various sources, and I added a bit of this and that to make it my own. Print if you dare! Print Recipe

Friday, 14 December 2012

A tempest in the kitchen!

For years I've been meaning to make Christmas food gifts, but always seem to run out of time, get distracted with having holiday fun and end up buying some mass made, corporation ruled gift. This year I have my 'buy local, eat local' hat well and truly on. It's time to get those old jars off the top shelf of the (very crowded) pantry, get my funky new apron on and cook up some delights. 
I've decided on salted caramel sauce, hot chocolate fudge sauce and lemon curd. I have my labels ready to go, it's raining outside so there's not much gardening to be done. I just went for a wander around the green lush backyard - that until yesterday was looking decidedly dry - and propped up the corianders, now going to seed, standing tall but on a lean. I wrapped them in string and just watch them flower, seed and then move on to the next phase. Sometimes I collect the seeds but generally I am lazy and just let them do their thing where they are. Organic gardening at it's best. Coriander seem to like growing in the same spot. As my mum says - "I am the coriander Queen" - she can't grow it at all. 
Anyway, I digress. Salted caramel sauce is on the agenda. I follow a simple recipe from Recipe Girl, converting tablespoons of butter to grams. It seemed too little butter but I went with it anyway. Caramel has always scared me, its tricky and a bit tempestuous - it looks like a tempest when it's bubbling and gurgling away. I measure everything out before I start (I'm learning, slowly) and I watch it like a hawk. The mixture bubbles peacefully, I add the cream and all hell breaks loose. It spits at me like a hissing feline. Then it starts to solidify, as in lumpy, gooey and not smooth caramelly at all! I add the butter and vanilla, then the salt and whisky away. The lumps stay but the rest of it goes nice and smooth. I take out those little sticky mounds of badness and am left with a delicious caramel sauce. Phew! This is quite stressful.
I'm wondering if there's another version I can try, just because I want to get this right. I go to old mate, Google and find Nigella's recipe. I love her cooking style, it's usually uncomplicated and this one has golden syrup which I love!It's very easy - the measurements are metric which I like as I can use my favourite digital kitchen scales. No satan's uprising here, all is calm on the caramel front and I have another lovely jar of sauce, ready for labelling and wrapping. They both taste fabulous - the 2nd recipe is richer because of the golden syrup and easier - for someone like me who is still scared of hot gurgling sauces that just do their own thing. Conquered part of my fear at least.