Chocolate Caramel Crack(ers) or Chocolate Toffee Bark

Chocolate Caramel Crack

I wasn’t going to make this. Nope, not me. You see I usually like my christmas treats to be complicated and require at least an hour of labor. But then I had my second kid and she hit the terrible twos and now …well… now I am a lot more open to trying quicker things. But in all honesty I would not have tried this delicious recipe if it wasn’t for my all-things-food-person Marium. She made it and raved about it and then I had to. Yes folks, after all that resisting, all it took was someone I think is cool to make it and I turn into a big ol’ copycat.

Chocolate Caramel Crack(ers) or Chocolate Toffee Bark

The first time I made it I messed up a little (oops), but by the second I had learnt my lesson. The right sized baking sheet is key, otherwise the whole caramel to cracker ratio is off. The recipe is definitely very very sweet so adding instant coffee to the caramel helped temper that overt sweetness. Also please please stick to semi sweet chocolate or darker, anything sweeter is too much.

You could add anything you want to the top and I toyed with christmas-sprinkes, but then I decided that this delicious delicious beauty didn’t need to get any sweeter and I stuck to toasted flaked almonds as suggested by Deb at Smitten Kitchen.

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Ferrero Rocher Stuffed Brownies

It’s almost that time. That time when the excess of the holidays and it’s impact on our overall well-being (aka waistline) catches up with us and we swear to ourselves to eat better, live better, be better. Well before all that noble stuff kicks in let’s go out and buy an obscene amount of chocolate and make these brownies.

Ferrero Rocher Brownies

The Ferrero Rocher that is nestled within takes these brownies over the top, but even without it the actual brownie itself is exceptional. My usual go to recipe is a cocoa based brownie that comes together in a saucepan and while I would never give it up, this folks, is truly spectacular. Think rich deep chocolaty flavor and a distinct crumb that is almost cakey, but with the moist chew that is a must have for brownies.

Ferrero Rocher Brownies

Happy New Years folks, go out, celebrate, eat these brownies and I’ll see you next year 🙂

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A Tinkerbell Inspired Fairy Party

Guess what I did for my birthday this year?

I threw my daughter a Tinkerbell inspired Fairy Party…sorry I meant Fairy Gymnastics Party. In case you’re scratching your heads and wondering why I would do that, the answer is kinda boring – that’s just what was available at The Little Gym. Btw for those of you in the ‘hood I highly recommend these guys. All the girls had an awesome time and Mama was immensely grateful for the much needed help from their staff. Wonderful wonderful wonderful.

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Anyway, back to the party. Zara wanted a Tinkerbell Fairy Party for her birthday, but since I am not a huge fan of a lot of the premade Tinkerbell things I tried to keep a balance between overtly Disney things and handmade things. The birthday girl loved it all and I am so happy with how things turned out – minus the things that I forgot to put up *head thwack*.

Get ready for a fairly long post (mostly pictures).

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Invites: These were born of panic, my friends reminded me I needed to get cracking so I scoured my craft box and made these. I do like how they turned out and they were pretty easy to do as well.

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Wands: This was a pretty and inexpensive craft. The purple tissue used in the flowers, the dowels for the wand, and the stars on the ribbons are from the dollar floor. The ribbons are from that real fancy place called Wal Mart. I roughly measured (in handspans) how much ribbon I wanted and then cut 16 sets out in my 3 party colors – green, pink, purple. I stitched the three ribbons together with a thread and needle and then taped them on to the wand. Then on top went my purple paper flowers which were secured onto the wands with the same purple ribbon I used to make the paper flowers (tutorial here). Where it wasn’t as tight as I liked I added a little clear tape. And done.

IMG_6142_zpsfef92661Flower pots: I had scraps of green leftover from green buntings (which somehow didn’t get put up) so I held them in the center and wrapped the pink/purple streamers around them in such a way that the base was tighter and the top fuller. They aren’t fancy flowers, but they do the trick.

IMG_6148_zps3f03fbdc (1)Candy Napkin Rings: I first saw these here and they are so quick and easy!

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Food: The cake and wands merit another post (or so I would like to think), but in terms of food here is what I ended up with:
• Vanilla Cake (6-inch, 4 layers, 4 colours)
• Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting
• Marshmallow Wands
• Tink on a Tea Cup Berries (All credit to the husband and pinterest 😉 )
• PIZZA – so clichéd, but the birthday girl loves it
• Sausage Rolls
• Chicken Sandwiches – Boiled Shredded Chicken with my homemade Peppercorn Mayo
• Jam Swirls
• Veggie Sticks
• Pretzels
• Homemade Butterfly Crackers

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 For the food labels I downloaded something from the internet and tweaked it to suit my purposes – all done in Word, nothing fancy. I am happy to pass them on to anyone who wants them.

Hmm let’s see what else …. oh right…

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• The Happy Birthday Banner was courtesy of my super awesome friend Vaish – you should get one of those… just not mine, I keep her busy 😉

IMG_6360_zpsecccbe2aWings – Another dollar store find, I was very worried that there would be some fighting over wings, but fortunately the girls didn’t get into it and a quick taping onto the back of standard plastic chairs really upped the prettiness.

IMG_2355Loot bags – I wanted something simple and whimsical and here is what I came up with. Inside the lootbags I put Disney Fairies watches, stickers, Nerds, a mini Crunch bar and a lollipop. The girls also got to take their wings and wands home.

• Not pictured, but used were this Tinkerbell Scene setter and Tinkerbell balloons.

So there you have it a Fairy party with a whole lot of Fairy and a little bit of Tinkerbell. Hope this gives you some good ideas for your own party – or at least the confidence that if I can do it so can you 🙂 Happy birthdaying!

 

Lemon Velvet – A 3 Ingredient Wonder

Every family has it’s go to recipes, the ones with a totally retro vibe that make a steady appearance at dinner after dinner, but somehow never get boring. For some it is a classic cake or a kheer, but in my family that dessert is Lemon Velvet and the best way I can describe it is as an eggless lemon mousse. It is sweet, tart and utterly luscious. Like most things I like to make it is also a cinch to pull together and can be used in many ways.

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We usually served lemon velvet in a square or rectangular dish, layered with salty buttery Tuc biscuits, stabilized with two spoons of dissolved gelatin and cut in to squares for serving. These days I love prettying it up by serving it in glasses and adding some attitude with crushed gingersnaps. You can also layer it with fruit, spread over meringue, use it as a tart filling – the possibilities are endless.

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(between you and me, it’s yummiest licked of the spatula … shhhh)

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Eid Eats 2014 & Chocolate Covered Salted Caramel Ice Cream Stars

Hello everyone and welcome to the first of many Eid Eats! Eid Eats is a virtual Eid potluck party hosted by Asiya at Chocolate and Chilies and myself. Whether you are celebrating Eid this coming week or not you should keep an eye on this post for some delicious inspiration courtesy of some incredible bloggers.

To my Muslim friends I wish you an early Eid Mubarak – hope us bloggers provide you with some scrumptious ideas for your upcoming festivities!

Click on the Eid Eats button below to see what yummies have been prepared for this wonderful occasion and to submit your blog post as well. You can submit links (and check back for updates) till the 29th of July 🙂

Today I am bringing to you a dessert that is part recipe and part idea. In other words you can make it like I did or take the idea and run with it. Either way it should be tons of fun 🙂

Some time ago I had made this star shaped kulfi and since Eid and Chaand Raat (the night the new moon is spotted signifying the end of Ramadan and the beginning of Eid) reminds me of all things celestial I thought I would go with a fun spin on that idea. I present to you homemade salted caramel icecream in a star shaped chocolate shell with a smattering of edible gold stars scattered across the top.

Chocolate Covered Salted Caramel Icecream Stars w Edible Gold Stars

It is beautiful, luscious, and decadent all at the same time making it utterly celebration worthy.

Now obviously you can use any ice cream that you like, but do remember that a chocolate coating adds an element of sweetness so a less sweet ice cream is ideal. If you have an ice cream machine then this recipe is a must try.

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Caramel Cardamom Eclairs with Coffee Cream

I kinda sorta love eclairs. Like really, really love eclairs. When I saw that the delightful duo over at Love & Olive Oil had proposed eclairs for Aprils Kitchen Challenge I was very excited about having an excuse to make them.

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If you have any set ideas about what an Eclair should be like then please look away. This is not the éclair of pastry chefs. Instead this is a riff on the kind of éclair I grew up eating in Karachi – the one that had a pillowy whipped cream centre and a smooth chocolate dipped top. My reinvention of this éclair ties in three of my favorite flavors – coffee, cardamom, and caramel.

The combination of coffee and cardamom is reminiscent of Arab style coffee with a bitter depth tempered by the mellow sweetness of the cardamom. The caramel filling on top has the traditionally lovely chew of caramel, but with a little more heft to it thanks to the addition of roughly ground cardamom seeds.

There seems to be this notion that éclairs are complicated to make. Two words: Not true. Time consuming, yes. Complicated, no. There are three components to an éclair – the choux pastry, the filling (usually pastry cream) and the smooth ganache like topping. Each component of a traditional éclair can be made in advance and they actually meld together quite well if you make them a day or several hours before serving.

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I almost did not post this recipe because the pictures are so bad *hanging my head in shame*, but I never got a chance to make it again and wanted to  post this before the deadline. Let’s just say these are a zillion times yummier than they look!

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My Kind of Idiot Cake

My eldest brother, Haider, is a pretty cool guy. Am I biased because he is my brother? Of course not, don’t be silly. Pfft. He also makes my love of chocolate seem like an occasional indulgence. Let’s just say cereal and granola are not really his idea of a good breakfast. Once upon a time I made him a batch of brownies that drove me NUTS. It would not bake and after an hour in the oven I gave up. I ended up pulling the gooey mass out of the oven and was strongly considering tossing it, but the logistics of throwing hot brownies away seemed a little daunting. Turns out that the gooey mess with its crackly top was according to him the most delicious thing I had ever made. Its deep chocolate flavour seemed to get better with every decadent mouthful and the wafer thin subtly crunchy layer on top made it pure magic. No matter what I did I could never make it again. Clearly I did something very wrong/right that day and could never figure it out. When I started making David Lebovitzs flourless ‘idiot’ cake (original post here) I did not think I would be taken back to my teenage self beaming from the praise of an adored older brother, but folks, we have a winner. The paper thin crackly layer, the luscious chocolate rolling in my mouth, this truly is a dessert my brother would love. The good news is that now I can actually make it again.. and again.. and again. Oh and the really good news? That it is SO easy. I think it took me 15 minutes, and that accounts for time I may have spent ‘cleaning’ the spatula with the chocolate on it. It literally is melt chocolate and butter, whisk eggs and sugar, combine. Bake. Let this be our little secret okay? Next time I make it I am going to doll it up with berries and crème fraiche and pretend like I spent the entire day making it. Psst.. I do apologize for the sub par pictures, I made this at night not expecting to want to blog about it, but then I thought how selfish of me to keep this to my self, what if David Lebovitz had done that etc etc 🙂 Continue reading