Easter Chocolate Bark Recipe

Looking for something fun and easy to do this Easter? I’ve got you covered with the ultimate in sweet treats – Easter egg chocolate bark! This is a great way to use up the last bit of Easter candies or, as was the case for me, a good excuse to stock up on some of your favourites! I’d like to say that this recipe is fool proof, but unfortunately you do run the very real risk of finishing the ingredients off before they make their way into the melted chocolate! If you managed to keep your taste buds under control though, you’re good to go! I would venture to say that this is even a good one to keep the kiddo’s busy (under supervision of course!) and of course you can customise this to include some of your personal favourites, these just happen to be mine.

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Christmas Chocolate Stars

DIY Chocolate stars for Christmas

I thought between posting my gift guides I’d throw in a quick and easy DIY to gift to anyone from a host to a teacher this festive season. Although it is a small gesture, making something yourself like these chocolate stars, can mean so much to the recipient. It would also be the perfect addition to your Christmas table, serve as a great accompaniment to coffee and compliment many a dessert. So really this is an all-rounder! As an added bonus, it is really simple and affordable to make! All you need is chocolate, your favourite toppings (added bonus if they’re in festive shades) and a silicone ice or chocolate tray.

DIY Chocolate stars ingredients

Ingredients:

  • 200g milk or dark chocolate
  • 40g pistachios, chopped
  • 40g cranberries, chopped
  • Spray and Cook
  • Gold dust

DIY Chocolate stars for Christmas

Method:

  1. Break up the chocolate in a microwavable bowl and put to the side.
  2. Chop up the pistachios and cranberries and keep at the ready.
  3. Give a festive ice or chocolate silicone tray a light spray with Spray and Cook. If you are working with an ice tray, see whether you need to fill the whole shape or whether filling it half-way would be better. My stars turned out quite thick and it might have been better to only fill the shapes halfway.
  4. Take the bowl of chocolate and melt it in the microwave. I usually put it in for 30 seconds at a time at full power. I take care to stir it in between microwaving it and often stop it shortly before everything is completely melted, knowing the final small lumps will melt as I stir. Each microwave is different and your melting times might be different to mine. I know this isn’t conventional or the best method, but it is by far the most convenient! I always microwave my chocolate to melt it (a double-cooker is the correct tool) and rarely use bakers chocolate, but know that if you use regular milk chocolate it will only melt once. So you have to work quick, before it sets.
  5. Fill your tray with chocolate, stopping two milimeters before you get to the top.
  6. Sprinkle the tray with the nuts and cranberries and lightly press each star to ensure that the toppings will set in the chocolate.
  7. Leave the chocolate to fully set.
  8. Once it is set, turn out the stars and dust the top of each chocolate with gold dust.
  9. Store in a cool spot in an air-tight container.

 

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Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Chocolate chip banana bread

I was never the biggest fan of banana bread, or bananas for that matter, until I found this recipe. I’ve made a few changes to it over the years, but now I think it is perfect!

It is fair to say that I have a few hang-ups regarding bananas, as I love artificial banana flavoured things (Beacon’s Fruit Salad sweets come to mind) but I don’t love bananas themselves and the idea of a warm banana freaks me out! They’re okay when eaten slightly green, but after that they just become a slimy mess with an overpowering taste. So I made this recipe with two ripe bananas, not overripe, and I the end result just has a hint of banana.

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Lemon Drizzle Cake

Dressed mini lemon drizzle cakes

This lemon drizzle cake has been a massive success in our house, so much so that I’ve received numerous requests to bake this again soon! I have never actually had a lemon drizzle cake before, so maybe I’m not the best judge, but from my husband feedback I’ll chalk this up as a big success. This is one of those super quick recipes that you could easily whip up on a whim, likely from ingredients already in your pantry. 

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Cheats Carbonara

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I love all things Italian, especially food. Crusty breads, warm pizzas and creamy pastas are just a few of many things that I dream about. Whilst there is nothing inherently wrong with a traditional carbonara, I love this lighter varient that was born when I combined two of my faves (alfredo and carbonara) with some fresh herbs. I think some of the best recipes can be born out of need. In this instance I simply didn’t have enough cream left over for a alfredo sauce and since then I’ve purposefully recreated this recipe a few times as we love the intense flavours and lighter sauce. If the raw egg in a traditional carbonara worries you, then read on to see how I make myself feel better about it.

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3 Ways with Ice Cream

Vanilla Ice Cream

As summer gets into full swing, we’re entertaining more often and frequently invite friends over at the last minute. I’m always on the lookout for last-minute entertaining ideas that I can whip up with items already in pantry. Vanilla ice cream is our default, but serving ice cream and berries or chocolate sauce gets boring after a while.  As ice cream is somewhat of a summer staple, I thought it would be a good idea to share three of my favourite ways to serve the classic in a less predictable way.

Affogato

Affogato with biscotti

This simple Italian drink is the dessert we serve most often as it is so simple to recreate and we usually have some fresh coffee beans to recreate this with. Simply add a scoop of vanilla ice cream to a single or double shot espresso. We serve it with biscotti when we have (get my recipe here), but it is just as enjoyable served on its own.

It works best if you have an espresso machine that can create some crema, but moka pot coffee could also work. You probably won’t be able to achieve the necessary espresso strength with a french press.

Affogato with biscotti

 

Dom Pedro

Dom Pedro

Dom pedros are kinda like the dessert of cocktails, combining the best of both. I personally don’t like a traditional dom pedro with whiskey, but luckily things like Amaretto, Frangelico, Kahlua and Baileys also work well.

Simply blend two scoops of ice cream, 25 ml of chosen alcohol and 100 ml milk per serving. You might want to adjust this according to your taste and the strength of your alcohol (you might need more of somethings creamy like Baileys or Frangelico to detect the flavour). Serve with a sprinkle of cocoa.

Ice Cream Sandwich

Ice Cream Sandwich

I think out of all three options, this is the Chanel handbag of vanilla ice cream desserts. I just went with plain vanilla ice cream sandwiched between the two biscuits, but you could get very creative by sprinkling things on the side. It does however make it more complicated. The combination of a slightly chewy-buttery cookie with the melted ice cream is just as dreamy a combo as you’d imagine.

For this sandwich I used some of the ahhmazing chocolate chip cookies I made (recipe here), but you could use any other chocolate chip cookies you might have in your pantry. Things like Chips Ahoy and FOX would make great alternatives.

For my South African readers, I try to always buy vanilla ice cream that reads “ice cream” and steer clear of anything that says “frozen dessert”  as I am looking for something creamy and not watery. Although something fancy with detectable vanilla seeds would be the best, it isn’t something we usually spring for. Brands that create good vanilla ice cream at reasonable prices are Country Fresh, Ola and Woolworths.

Would love to know if you’re giving any of these a try!

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Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe

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A friend of ours recently proclaimed that “Surely no-one has all the ingredients necessary for a cake at all times!” I kept quiet about the my stash of my favourite cake mix and answered with a resounding, “Yes, cake recipes usually require so much butter! It is rare that I’ll have a full stick of butter on hand.”

I didn’t lie, I often don’t have enough butter for a full recipe which is how this chocolate chip cookie recipe came about. My sweet tooth demanded some chocolatey-goodness so I took a recipe I’d been meaning to try for a while, made some adjustments (replacements and halving the recipe) and I won’t look back! I’ve made fairly good chocolate chip cookies before but everyone that tasted one of my latest creations has been demanding more of this version. It is the perfect balance of sweet, salt and crispy-ness with a gooey centre.

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Ingredients

  • 2 cups cake flour minus 2 table spoons
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 160 g unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup treacle sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 90 g dark chocolate slab, roughly chopped into chunks

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Method

  1. Cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy.
  2. Add the egg and vanilla extract. Mix well.
  3. Mix in the dry ingredients with electric beater. Add the chocolate chips last.
  4. Cover the dough in cling wrap and refrigerate for 4 – 24 hours.*
  5. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees.
  6. Roll the dough in your hand to make small balls approximately 3 cm in diameter and press then down slightly on a prepared baking tray (baking paper sprayed with Spray & Cook). I made two batches and the ones I didn’t press down were smaller, thicker and wasn’t as crispy.
  7. Bake biscuits for approximately 15 – 20 minutes.
  8. Let biscuits cool on a cooling rack before serving.

* I haven’t tested this yet, but apparently the longer you refrigerate the dough the better the results are.

Mine made about 11 cookies (It is possible that I ate more than one cookie’s weight in raw dough though)

 

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Strawberry Frosé

Strawberry Frosé Drinks

Summer isn’t quite here yet, but if you’d like to help it along or find yourself in a warmer clime these frosé drinks are exactly what you need! Super quick and easy to make, yet so impressive when served in sugar rimmed glasses! These are the perfect addition to any summer party, or reason enough to convert your next Netflix and chill session into a mini party.

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Raspberry Bakewell Cake

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This recipe is the ultimate celebration of raspberries in my books. I love whipping it up at the height of raspberry season when they are at their sweetest. I’ve yet to meet someone who can say no to this, it has even been known to convert some non-berry eaters… So hurry and buy a fresh punnet of raspberries whilst they are still in season, this recipe doesn’t deserve frozen berries.

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Winter Bean Soup

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I feel like I have to preface this recipe by stating that I am not a big fan of beans, but in an attempt to eat more healthy I have tried a whole bunch of new recipes that are high on vegies and low on cholesterol. This recipe by Estée Lalonde (Essie Button) is one of my favourites! I just reduce the beans and double up on the good stuff like the garlic. This is a slight variation of the original recipe posted by Estée, but if you’d like to see a video you can do so right here.

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Ingredients:

  • 5 zucchini, chopped
  • 4 carrots, chopped
  • 1 medium sweet potato, chopped
  • 1 medium butternut, skinned and chopped
  • 1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped
  • 1 red onion, roughly chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • olive oil
  • salt, pepper & paprika, to taste
  • 1 can tomato
  • 1 tbs vegetable stock
  • 1 tsp Worcester sauce
  • 1 can red kidney beans
  • 1 can butter beans

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Method:

  1. In a large baking tray, add all your vegies, onion, garlic and drizzle with olive oil. Season well with salt and pepper before baking for 20-30 minutes at 200C, or until all the vegies are soft.
  2. In a large cast iron pot, add 1 litre of water, the stock, veggies, tomato and Worcester sauce. Bring to the boil before turning it down to a simmer. Continue stirring every now and again until it is nearly the consistency you want.
  3. At this stage I like to remove just over half of the soup to blend it in my blender. If you like a very chunky soup you can completely skip this step.
  4.  Drain the beans before stirring it in to the soup. If you blended half of the soup, remember to stir this back in to the soup on the stove.

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Makes about 6 servings.

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