The OTT Birthday Cake

The OTT Birthday Cake 18

It was my birthday last week and I tried to turn it into a weeklong celebration with large success. I managed to space my actual birthday, a trip away and my birthday party out enough that it felt like it just kept going. Normally I prefer to celebrate other people’s birthdays more, as I find I always put too much pressure on my own birthday to be a super special day. But this year I had a lovely day and was determined to throw myself a really nice party. And with birthday parties must always come a kick ass birthday cake. Multiple people said its not right to make yourself a birthday cake, that it’s a little sad. Many offered to make one for me, or to buy one instead. But I felt this was a perfect opportunity to try out one of the many crazy cakes that can be found on Pinterest.

I don’t know about everyone else, but I find that Pinterest is full of recipes for cakes, which look like something that I will never be able to humanly achieve, or eat and not die from a cardiac arrest. These are the sorts of recipes that wind up on those lists that Buzzfeed do of the expectation vs reality of Pinterest recipes. You go into it thinking “oh yeah, its just a cake, how hard can it be?” and wind up rocking back and forth in the corner. And I’ve tried to make cakes from Pinterest before and had epic failures, so I was a little hesitant to try again. But I felt that this would be the perfect opportunity to give it another go, and make myself the cake of my dreams.

The cake in question combines two of my favourite things: Chocolate and peanut butter. I just think this is a match made in heaven, as peanut butter is just about the best thing ever invented. If I could eat it all day, and not become the size of a house, I totally would. So when I asked myself what cake I should make, this one was the obvious choice.

Now, upon first glance this cake might appear to be very terrifying and the thought of trying to make it could make you shudder with fear. But it was surprisingly easy. I would actually use the cake recipe again, as it was super easy and made a delicious, light, chocolate cake. Put that together with the glorious peanut butter icing, and you have an impressive looking, but relatively simple cake. You just need to take the time to do it right; it is not a rush job. Love the cake recipe and it will love you back, in the form of an amazing cake.

I could have made it even prettier, as unlike the recipe I used, I did not do a ganache topping over the top, as I just felt it was already a pretty full on cake. But you could do this if you wanted to. Completely up to you and your obsession for chocolate.

My mum and dad tried some of this cake and called it the over the top (OTT) birthday cake. I told them that they had come up with the perfect name for the cake. It was a little over the top, but when you are making your dream birthday cake, you need to go all out.

The OTT Birthday Cake (Chocolate Peanut Butter Layer Cake)

Adapted from Lemon Sugar

Preperation Time: 45-60 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Assembly Time: 60 minutes

Serves: 20-25 pieces

Ingredients

Chocolate Cake

  • 3 cups of Caster Sugar
  • 2 2/3 cups of plain flour
  • 1 1/3 cups cocoa powder
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons of baking powder
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons of baking soda
  • 1 ½ teaspoons of salt
  • 3 medium sized eggs
  • 1 ½ cups of milk
  • ¾ cup of rice bran or vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups of boiling water

Glorious Peanut Butter Icing

  • 250 grams of unsalted butter at room temperature,
  • 250 grams (or 1 box) of cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 ¼ cup of smooth peanut butter
  • 4 cups of icing sugar
  • ¼ cup of heavy cream

Garnish

  • Peanut flavoured candy of your choice (Reece’s pieces would be the obvious choice, but these are hard to come by in Australia. So I used some little peanut butter caramel chocolates instead)

Directions

For the Cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees (350 degrees F)
  2. Prepare three pans of roughly the same size (mine were slightly off each other, but relatively similar – you can always make it even with icing later) – here’s a tip my mum taught me with preparing cake pans. If you are using one where the bottom doesn’t come out, butter the whole pan. Then fold two pieces of foil into two long strips. Place these in the bottom of the pan so that they cross and have bits of the strip hanging out of the pan. Fold these down and place a circle of baking paper over the top of these in the bottom of the tin. When it comes time to remove the cake, you will be able to use the foil to lift the cake out of the tin with ease.OTT Birthday Cake 2OTT Birthday Cake 3
  3. In a very large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt, eggs, milk, oil and vanilla.
  4. Using a hand mixer, beat the ingredients until just combine (don’t overdo it in this step, just make sure that the batter comes together and the lumps have started to dissolve).
  5. Add the boiling water and beat the mixture again until combine and smooth. Then, use a spatula to push the mixture on the side of the bowl into the batter, and mix again. It should look similar to the below:OTT Birthday Cake 4
  6. Evenly distribute the mixture into the 3 cake tins. I used a soup ladle to do this as I could evenly measure how many scoops went into each pan. Here’s my finished product:OTT Birthday Cake 5
  7. Bake for 30-40 minutes until a skewer comes out clean. I put them in for 30 minutes and then tested each 2 minutes after that until I got this result. It ended up taking me about 40 minutes.
  8. Cool the cakes on a wire wrack for 15 minutes, then remove the cakes from their pans to cool completely.

Glorious Peanut Butter Icing

  1. In a large bowl, beat the butter until it is light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.OTT Birthday Cake 6
  2. Add the cream cheese, and beat this with the butter until smooth and creamy.
  3. I had to take a shot of the before and after of my peanut butter jar, because there is nothing more perfect than an unopened peanut butter jar, wouldn’t you agree?OTT Birthday Cake 7 OTT Birthday Cake 8
  4. After marvelling at the glorious peanut butter add this and the vanilla to the mixture, and beat until incorporated with the cream cheese and butter. Use a spatula to push any excess from the sides of the bowl into the mixture, and mix again until completely incorporated.OTT Birthday Cake 9
  5. Add icing sugar and the heavy cream, and beat until this is fully incorporated and the icing is smooth and creamy. Here is how mine looked at the end, in all its glory (this is some of the best icing I’ve ever eaten. It took all my power not to eat the whole bowl):OTT Birthday Cake 10

Assembly

  1. Once the cakes are cool, place the first cake on a nice big plate.
  2. Using an offset spatula, or a cake-decorating tool of your choice, smooth about a cup of icing onto the top of the cake.OTT Birthday Cake 11
  3. Add the second layer of cake on top of this icing, and put another cup of icing on the top of this layer.OTT Birthday Cake 12 OTT Birthday Cake 13
  4. Add the final layer to the cake, and smooth icing over the top. At this stage I put the cake in the fridge to set, as it was feeling a little precarious, so I didn’t want to leave it out any longer. I left the cake in the fridge for about 30 minutes. Here is how mine looked while icing the last tier:OTT Birthday Cake 14
  5. Once set, get the cake out of the fridge. With the remaining icing, ice the sides of the cake, ensuring that you fill in any differences in size between the cakes to make the whole surface even. Smooth over with a spatula once done, and place back in the fridge until you are ready to serve. Here is how mine looked at the end:OTT Birthday Cake 15
  6. When ready, get the cake out of the fridge. Cover with a peanut butter candy of your choice for garnish.OTT Birthday Cake 16

And there you have it! Its not as difficult as it initially looks. I am proud of myself for finally trying a delicious Pinterest cake, and I honestly couldn’t have asked for a more delicious cake for my birthday! I had people texting me after the party asking if I had leftovers, they loved it so much! Although it’s not the healthiest cake you could ever make, it was so delicious you just don’t care. It was totally worth every calorie of every bite, I swear this cake was happiness in a dessert.OTT Birthday Cake 19

Let me know if you make this cake, or what your dream birthday cake would be!

Happy Cooking!

Ella xx

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The ‘Better Than Everything’ Brownies

Cheesecake Brownies

I am so sorry that I haven’t posted in so long, I feel terrible. I have been away on a month long whirlwind trip of America, which was so very amazing. I had the best time, and I am kind of sad to be back now, getting into the swing of normal routine and heading back to work. However, I guess you have to come back to normal life so that when you do go away it makes it that much more amazing. And I can start planning the next one to try and ease the crippling travel depression I feel looming.

Anyway, before I left I was aiming to write a post about these brownies but it just didn’t end up happening unfortunately. But better late than never, because I can assure you that these brownies are well worth the wait! I stumbled upon this recipe on Pinterest a few years ago, in fact they were one of my very first pins. I made them for my friends on Valentines day of 2012, and in 2015 I made these very same brownies for my work colleagues and my boyfriend.

These brownies are the best brownies I have ever eaten. Hands down. They are soft and gooey, rich and delicious. They are also super simple to make, but yield amazing results. If you are going to make anything from my blog, please make these brownies. You will not be disappointed, and neither will anyone you share them with (if you can give them up, you might want to eat the whole lot).

For this recipe, you basically make a brownie mix and a cheesecake mix, and put them together. Rather than using the brownie mix from the original recipe, I use a recipe, which has been in my family since my sister was quite small. Seriously, the only copy we have it on old, chocolate stained, Whinny the Pooh stationary. She got it off one of her friends, and it makes the best brownies I have ever eaten. In fact, the brownie recipe on its own is amazing, but adding cheesecake makes it out of this world. I am not sure if anyone realises how special it is that I am publishing this recipe, as it is a bit of a trade secret of my sisters. So use it carefully, and enjoy!

Better than Everything Brownies

Yields 16 delicious brownies

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients

Brownie Batter

125 grams of butter

185 grams of Dark Chocolate – I usually use the whole block

1 cup of caster sugar

2 teaspoons of vanilla essence

2 eggs (slightly beaten)

1 cup of plain flour – you can use a gluten free flour mix instead of plain flour, and we have found that this works just as well.

Cheesecake Batter

225 grams of cream cheese – leave this out of the fridge to make it soft before using.

1/3 cup of caster sugar

1 large egg yolk

¼ teaspoon of vanilla extract

½ cup of chocolate chips, or raspberries depending on your preference (you can also leave these out. I’ve done milk, dark and white chocolate chips and all of them are good)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius, and put the wrack in the middle of the oven.
  2. Get a nice square baking pan and line it with baking paper. The recipe recommends buttering the baking pan instead of this, but I find baking paper so much easier and less messy at the end.
  3. Break the chocolate apart and cut up the butter, placing in a microwave safe bowl. Then melt this mixture in the microwave until soft. I usually do this in 30-second intervals, stirring occasionally to avoid burning the chocolate. You could also do this over a saucepan with water in it over the stove, if you want to get fancy. But I’ve done it in the microwave for years and never had an issue.
  4. Take the bowl out of the microwave and stir in the sugar, eggs and essence. Cheesecake brownies
  5. Sift the flour into the bowl and voila! You have the most amazing brownie mix known to man. It should look similar to this: IMG_5857
  6. In another bowl, use a whisk to mix together all the ingredients for the cheesecake batter until smooth. Pretty simple.
  7. Get your brownie batter and pour into the pan, smoothing out with a spatula so that its nice and even, like so: IMG_5860
  8. Next, pour the cheesecake batter over the top of the brownie mix. I then get a butter knife and swirl the cheesecake batter through the brownie mix so that it gets a cool swirled pattern on the top. Just use the knife to essentially pull the brownie mixture into the cheesecake mixture until you like how it looks.IMG_5861
  9. I then usually get my topping and submerge the chocolate chips and/or raspberries into the mixture, leaving some on the top. I find putting them in the mixture makes it even better. You might need to reswirl the pattern to make it look pretty again, or you could do this before swirling, it just depends on how you feel. In the end it should look like this:IMG_5863
  10. Cook the brownies for 30-35 minutes or until golden on the top. The mixture will be very gooey in its nature, and is always better when it comes out gooey and then is left to sit. So just watch the top and then leave it out for a bit until it firms up.
  11. Cut into even pieces once cool (if you can wait)

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And there you have it! A super simple recipe that yields wickedly delicious results! I highly recommend making these for loved ones to show them you care, if you are having a bad day and need something to make you feel better. But who am I kidding, you don’t really need an excuse to make these delicious brownies. Just do it!

The Gingerbread House Mission

I know that I’m reminiscing through pins a little too much about Christmas baking, but its just so much fun! And I really would love to share with you my mission to make Gingerbread houses. It really was a bit of trial and error, and so if I could make it a little easier for some of you, or inspire you to endeavour on this challenge, then I would be happy!

I decided that I wanted to make Gingerbread houses as presents for the people I work most closely with in my team at work (Obviously I would have made them for everyone if I had the time/patience/was a God of baking, but I had/am none of these on my side). I felt like this would be a nice gift, as it takes a lot of effort, which I think those special people around you deserve, and are really appreciate of the gift! They look really nice when you finish them, and the person you give them to can take them home and eat them when they feel like it, as they keep well. And just look at the finished product:

Small Gingerbread Houses

It took a lot of planning to make the 4 houses. But I decided from the start I would make smaller ones just to make it a little easier on me. I looked up ideas of lollies, layouts, designs and methods to make them the best way I could. I also didn’t practice, which meant that I needed to make it work first time! I really had all the odds against me. The last gingerbread house I made was more like a fort with my partner. We didn’t think through the layout completely so as a result it ended up being a sieged castle that had been overrun by gummy snakes (always remember that artistic license is important when making gingerbread houses). But it was a bit of fun, and I think that’s how you need to approach it! If you get to serious, I swear the gingerbread knows and buckles, or doesn’t bake properly. So just relax, and enjoy the process. And spread it out over a few sessions, like I decided to do, as it really helps you keep your sanity.

I’ll split this post into 3 parts: Making the dough, cooking the gingerbread, and assembly. This should give you a step-by-step, easy way to make 4 gingerbread houses. Feel free to adjust as you see fit. As I said, there is no real right or wrong way to decorate your gingerbread house, so you might want to change the way you do it to what I did. But I’d love to see the result if anyone recreates it!

The Gingerbread Dough

I used my favourite gingerbread recipe, which is super simple to make and hasn’t let me down in the past few years! I got a lot of comments about how delicious it was when I gave out cookies along with the gingerbread houses, and so I’d highly recommend it for simplicity and tastiness!

The only problem was that when I rolled out my batch, I soon realised that I didn’t have quite enough dough (I was only one roof piece short!). So I made another whole batch of the gingerbread, which I used to make gingerbread cookies for everyone else. This could be a good way to do it, as you will have excess for this, or in case of emergencies/baking disasters. However, for the sake of the blog, I’ve recreated the recipe I used for 1.5 batches of the original, which should still give you plenty left over to have some fun with!

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Basic Gingerbread Dough

Recipe from Taste.com

Ingredients

  • 5 1/2 cups self-raising flour
  • 1 ½ cups of plain flour
  • 1 ½ tablespoons of ground ginger
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 ½ cup firmly packed brown sugar – I used dark brown sugar to make the gingerbread taste a little more syrupy
  • 280g butter at room temperature, chopped
  • ¾ cup of golden syrup
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten

Method

  1. In a large bowl, combine the flours, ginger, cinnamon, sugar and butter with a beater (If you don’t have a beater, I’ve used a food processor before). Do this until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
  2. Whisk together the eggs and the golden syrup in a jug until combined.
  3. While the beater is still running (the benefits of using a food processor), add the egg mixture to the dry mixture until it just comes together. You might need to stop and push the sides down with a spatula in order to ensure everything gets mixed correctly.
  4. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and kneed until smooth (this will take a couple of minutes.
  5. Cut the dough into 3 sections and cover in plastic wrap. Pop this in the fridge for at least 4 hours.

I chilled my first batch for a few days and my second one just overnight. I have to say it was better only chilling it overnight; the dough was much easier to work with and wetter, which is what you need for rolling it out.

The Baking

When you are ready to bake your Gingerbread, you will firstly need to find a good template. Luckily, I have already had a look through Google and found one I was happy with. It worked really well in the end, as I found that a lot of them were either far too small (like those cute ones that sit on your coffee cup!) or too big. Eventually I found one I was happy with, and it was a perfect size to fit on the plates that I had bought to put the houses on. Find the template here. I used the template for the roof, the sides and the front and back. You can do the chimney if you want, but I thought it might be too fiddly.

Once you are happy with the template, cut it out and get ready for cutting out the dough.

Method: Cutting out the dough

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 Degrees Celsius.
  2. Get your dough out of the fridge and let it sit for a bit (if you are in Summer it should take no time at all for the dough to heat up). I just found it a lot easier to manipulate once it wasn’t so cold!
  3. Take each portion and place it between 2 pieces of baking paper. Use a rolling pin or other suitably round object to roll the dough out into 5mm thick pieces. Alternatively you can flour up your bench and do it without baking paper. If you do this remember to flour the rolling pin. My dough got a little dry so I used a little water between rolls to soften it up (this is what I needed to do with my first batch to get it to come together a little better).
  4. Using your trusty template, which hopefully by now you have cut out, use a knife to cut through the dough in the shapes that you need for the houses. I needed 4 of each piece of the template, so make sure you don’t forget any pieces!
  5. Carefully place these pieces on a baking tray lined with baking paper. I used a wide spatula to transfer the gingerbread across to prevent it from warping too much.
  6. For the little hole that you see in the template, sort of like a window on both sides, I did something that ends up looking awesome. You can get finely crushed hard-boiled lollies and crush them up finely to make a neat little stained glass window. Place the crushed candy in the window hole, and then bake as normal. The candy will melt and fill the space out. When the gingerbread cools it will harden again, making a great stained glass looking window! I used red candy to keep it Christmassy, but you could use any colour, or even mix them up if you want! I did this on the side of the gingerbread without the door, but you could do it on both if you wanted. I only did this on one of the houses, as I was worried it might affect the structural integrity of the house, but it seemed to hold fine!
  7. Bake the Gingerbread for 10-15 minutes. I only needed 12, as at 12 minutes the dough was a darker golden colour, and verging on firm, but was still soft when I took it out of the oven. This meant that it as it cooled it hardened up perfectly for the house. I prefer my gingerbread soft, so this was good for how I liked it. You could leave it in a little longer if you want it harder, but just make sure you keep watching it to stop it from burning!
  8. Place on a wire wrack until cool.

I actually cooled my gingerbread components, counted them a few times to ensure I had enough, and then placed them in a container. I did this so that I could leave the assembly until the following day, so that I was in a more creative mindset. If you are ready to keep going, feel free to, but just make sure that the gingerbread is 100% cool. Otherwise leave the assembly until you are mentally prepared.

Once you are in a creative mindset, gathered your lollies and have psyched yourself up with a good pep talk, you are ready to decorate!

The Assembly

This step is the most fun out of the whole process. But I think rather than calling it the assembly step, it should be called the “glue the house together and pray it doesn’t fall apart” step. Up until now, it’s pretty simple. This is the step that separates the mice from men, the bakers from the imitators. Well, I shouldn’t get too ahead of myself, but you get the idea.

I will list the ingredients I used for my gingerbread houses, but it’s really up to you what you want to put on it. I looked up a few sites and was able to find some really good inspiration. So feel free to use mine as a guide, but take a look in your supermarket and come up with your own ideas. That’s the best part!

Firstly, you will need to make a glue to stick the houses together. And I don’t mean clag glue, I mean royal icing glue, which I can guarantee will be far more delicious than the real thing.

Royal Icing Ingredients

  • 2 egg whites – lightly beaten
  • 3 cups of pure icing sugar

Method

  1. Beat the egg whites using an electric mixer until soft peaks form.
  2. Gradually add icing sugar, and beat until the mixture goes thick

To assemble the gingerbread houses, I first got some Christmas themed cardboard plates to use as the base. I then set out to glue the pieces of my gingerbread together into a house, which is the hardest part of the whole process.

I firstly attempted to glue the houses together by putting the icing into a piping bag and using this to draw really neat lines between the joints of the house. However, the issue was that I couldn’t get enough icing to really solidify the joints, and so the houses ended up not staying together, which is clearly not ideal.

I then had a look at this recipe from Raspberri Cupcakes and she had the great idea of throwing neatness to the wind in favor of getting enough icing on the pieces of gingerbread to get them to stay stuck. It was quick, easy and when you are decorating the houses anyway, I think it’s more important to make sure that the houses stay together than making this part of them look pretty.

Grab your bowl of icing and dunk the pieces of gingerbread into the icing, ensuring that you get a good amount on the sides. Start with the four wall pieces, sticking them all together and using cans from your pantry to keep them upright if needed. I found I didn’t actually need to do this as the icing was nice and strong, but it will just depend on the consistency of your icing.

I found I needed to leave the houses for about 20 minutes to ensure that they were nice and firm. So set these aside and play the waiting game. If you come back to them and the icing isn’t completely dry, leave them for longer. It’s really important that you don’t move them until they are really dry.

Next, set out gluing them to the plate. I used the piping bag to do this so that I got a really neat line. I used the roof piece template and drew this onto my plate to give me a guide of where to pipe (you’ll find this will pretty much give you the right size). I then stuck the gingerbread house down; using my piping bag on the inside to make sure any joints that weren’t covered in icing yet would stick. Leave this for 30 minutes at least. They should look something like this:

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Next is the hardest part, as you will have gravity working against you: the roof. Make sure you have some suitably sized props for the roof pieces ready to go. Then pipe some icing onto the top of the gingerbread house walls (make sure you use a lot). Dip the sides of the roof that will come together at the top in the icing and stick down. I held these on for a few minutes just to help it start to dry. I then put the props in place to make sure the roof stayed put. After it was all secured, I went around with the piping bag and added the icing into any holes that were left. Mine looked like this:

gingerbread houses

Leave this for about 20-30 minutes to ensure that the whole thing is really dry. I know this seems like a long process but it’s worth it to make sure that you don’t wind up with a broken gingerbread house at the end, crying in despair. I only had one mishap where the roof started sliding, which I thought was a pretty good success rate.

The fun part: The candy

The next step is the best part – you get to decorate your pretty little houses! Use artistic license here, I mean who am I to tell you how to decorate your house? As you can see in the photos, I opted to do 4 different houses so that each recipient was getting something different.

IMG_4939

Ingredients

  • 1 packet of sour straps – These are great to use as they are a. delicious b. take up a lot of space on the house, so are a really good gap filler. I used these on the sides of my houses and on the roof of one.
  • 1 – 2 packets of lolly raspberries – There seemed to be some shortage of raspberries when I was shopping (it seemed like everyone else had the same idea) but these lollies are great on the roof of your gingerbread house, or as additional festive decorations on the walls.
  • 1 – 2 to 5 packets of freckles. These look really nice on the roof of the gingerbread houses, and I didn’t have enough. Buy as many packets as you can, as these are a classic decoration and you will want to eat a couple as you go/there will be broken ones in the bags
  • 1 packet of chocolate covered liquorish bullets – I really don’t like liquorish, so I used raspberry flavoured ones to make it more delicious. These look great stacked up on the side to make the gingerbread house look like a log cabin, or along the joins of the house.
  • 1 packet of musk sticks – and obvious staple, these look great to hide any messy gluing work
  • 1 – 2 packets of jubes – You need a few packets of these if you want to go super festive, as you can pick out the red and green ones from the packet and just use these. For the rest of the colours, I suggest eating them.
  • 1 packet of Christmas themed lollies, or lollies of some other description – I found great Christmas lollies in my supermarket which had all kind of cute shapes. These I stuck all over the house walls.
  • 1 packet of candy canes – I broke these off to use in the doors, and used them in the joints.

Optional extras: These are things I was going to do but didn’t

  • Making a snowman out of marshmallows for the front of the house
  • Using boiled lollies to make a path up to the house
  • Using a chocolate as a chimney on the house

I think ideally I would have liked more freckles and jubes to use on the roofs, but you have to make do with what you have! I found that my houses had really low walls in the end as well, so I didn’t find the need to put windows in. Instead I covered the sides with chocolate logs to make them look like cabins, or sour straps because they were just about the right size when I cut them up.

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A great idea that I used from the Raspberri Cupcake post was to cut the top off the candy canes and use these around the doorways. I then used the bottom straight bit of the candy canes on the roof beams. I think this made it look especially festive. Chuck on a couple of festive themed lollies and hey presto! You have your gingerbread houses!

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I then wrapped these up in cellophane, tied a ribbon around them, and added gift tags. I think that these made really great Christmas gifts, and I don’t think it was too difficult when you split the process up over a few days. Just be patient, and you should be fine! And even if they are a little rough around the edges, Gingerbread houses are just impressive when they stay together, so they are sure to be a hit! And here’s a shot of me with the finished product:

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Until next time, happy baking!

Ella

Two Delicious Christmas Rocky Roads

For my first post I thought it might be fitting to share some of my Christmas baking with you!

I wanted to make something simple and delicious that I could gift to my work colleagues. Seems like a simple task, surely? Well I don’t know about anyone else, but I spent hours trawling through recipes trying to pick something to make. There is almost too much choice, making it difficult to narrow down! I can’t believe how many Christmas recipes there are out there, literally everything you could think of.

I found two recipes for rocky road, and I mean, who doesn’t love rocky road? One was for white chocolate rocky road that was gluten free, and I was pretty keen to try it as one of my work colleagues is coeliac. I also settled on a peppermint chocolate rocky road which looked divine. Rocky road is one of those things that I’ve never tried before, but can’t believe that I haven’t. Its so simple when you get down to it: buy the ingredients, crush them up, pour melted chocolate over them and cool. Simple! It was the perfect recipe to give out, as it looks impressive, is delicious, but super easy to make.

I’ll detail the process below, first for the white chocolate rocky road, and second for the peppermint. As for a favourite, I think the peppermint was the real winner out of the two, but it really depends on your preference.

White Chocolate Christmas Rocky Road

I bought the ingredients for both rocky roads at the same time, which was good as they did call for similar ingredients. But I did have a big issue with this one when I went to the store. I’m not sure how readily available gluten free items were for the writer of the recipe, but I know now that in my supermarket all lollies contain gluten. This was a real eye opener for me, because I just wouldn’t think of gluten being in something other than bread and wheat. Turns out I really don’t know anything!

So after a bit of deliberation I decided that I would scratch making this gluten free. There just weren’t any gluten free alternatives for marshmallows, jelly candy, or jubes in my supermarket, plus if I substituted it would have become far more expensive. Instead I just made a gluten full rocky road version of this recipe. I guess if you have the options you could make this gluten free, but I just didn’t have the choices.

This recipe is delicious, as it has toasted pistachios and macadamias in it, which give it a nice crunch without putting biscuits in. The white chocolate also made it look a lot more Christmassy when paired with red lollies. It was really simple to make and I would recommend this recipe to anyone. The recipe below is how I did it, but obviously you can check out the original post if you would like the full recipe.

White Chocolate Christmas Rocky Road

Recipe Adapted from G-Free Foodie

Ingredients

400 grams of White Chocolate melts– I just used the supermarket brand, as I believed that the ingredients would make up for using cheap chocolate. If you want it more decadent, use a high quality brand

56 grams of unshelled pistachios, lightly toasted (I put these in the oven at 150 degrees for about 7 minutes, or until the kitchen got a nutty aroma

56 grams of macadamia nuts

170 grams of  multi colored marshmallows – I used the Pascal brand marshmallow packet that comes with 4 flavours: strawberry, vanilla, peach and banana. Could have done without the banana, but that’s just personal preference!

85 grams of red frogs, chopped into chunks. For some reason the only red lollies I could find were red frogs, as there appeared to be a Brisbane shortage of rasberries! So I just chopped up the red frogs really finely. I decided to use these instead of multi coloured lollies as the recipe called for in order to make the rocky road more Christmassy.

85 grams of dried cranberries

Directions

  1. Line a baking tin with baking paper and set aside. I did this quite roughly in a pretty deep, square tin. It depends on how thin you want the rocky road to be, the smaller the tin in length and width, the thicker it will be
  2. Chop up the macadamias, marshmallows and red frogs and pop into a bowl. Ensure that the pieces of marshmallow are small enough so you don’t end up with them taking over the rocky road, which is what seemed to happen a little bit with mine! Then add the pistachios once they’ve cooled a little and the cranberries. Mix this all together gently. This is what mine looked like in a bowl:

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  1. To melt the chocolate, the recipe called for melting it in the microwave, but I personally prefer to do it on the stove. I filled a small saucepan with a little bit of water and placed a heat safe bowl over the top so there were no gaps. I then poured the chocolate melts into the bowl and over a medium heat stirred the chocolate until it melted. Sometimes, the water will boil over and you’ll need to lift the bowl. Be careful of the steam when you do this, its normally best to lift it tilting away from you. Here’s a pic:

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  1. Pour the melted chocolate into the bowl with all the lollies and nuts. Mix this well to ensure everything is coated.
  2. Pour this mixture into the prepared pan, and even it out with a spatula.
  3. Refrigerate this for a couple of hours, or overnight if you have the time.
  4. When you are ready to cut it, take it out of the fridge and get a nice big knife and a chopping board. I was able to cut it quite easily as it was a very hot day, but if you don’t have this on your side, simply heat the knife a little under hot water to make it really easy to cut through the rocky road. I cut mine into about 16 pieces, but yield will really depend on the thickness of your rocky road. Here’s my finished product:

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And there you have it! The recipe says it should keep for at least two weeks, but will soften at room temperature. If you live in a hot place like I do, its best to keep it in the fridge, and that way I got more life out of it (until my boyfriend realised I still had some left).

As I said, a very simple recipe, but it looks great when completed! And who doesn’t like rocky road? You wouldn’t even need to keep this treat for Christmas only. You could add any lollies you wanted for an all year round treat.

Peppermint Chocolate Rocky Road

This recipe is a lot more Christmassy, but was definitely the crowd favourite out of the two! The peppermint twist to this recipe really ensures that it is fresh and delicious in every bite! I would say this one was a little more complicated than the white chocolate rocky road, but it was still quite simple. I felt like I did more with this one, like I might have been a little bit more involved with the cooking process. So if you like something slightly more hands on I’d pick this one!

This recipe is not gluten free by any means, but I suppose the great thing about rocky road is that it is really adaptable to what you want to put in it. If you have gluten free ingredients you can most certainly make it gluten free.

When completed, this rocky road looks like Santa’s elves whipped it up themselves. It’s definitely got a lot of festive character.

Peppermint Chocolate Rocky Road

Adapted from Style Sweet CA

Ingredients

150 grams of softened unsalted butter

115 grams of milk chocolate melts – Again, I used the homebrand chocolate melts, as I believed that it wasn’t worth getting good quality chocolate when there are so many things being added to it. If you are a chocolate purist, feel free to get some really good quality chocolate!

230 grams of dark chocolate melts – The recipe did call for good quality chocolate, but again I didn’t listen. Feel free to substitute if you’d like to turn this rocky road up a fancy notch!

¼ cup of rice malt syrup – The recipe called for corn syrup, but I couldn’t bring myself to buy it. Corn syrup really isn’t very good for you, and given that this recipe already adds butter to the chocolate, I felt it could use slightly less bad stuff (I know, it’s a little contradictory). Lets just say using an alternative makes you feel slightly better knowing that you are giving your friends something a little bit better for them. Rice malt syrup is great as it is sweet but doesn’t have as much of a distinctive flavour as honey does.

½ a packet of milk arrowroot biscuits, crushed, but not too finely crushed. Keep it in chunks to avoid getting crumbs through the mixture

2 cups of lollies – The recipe called for 2 cups of mini marshmallows, but if I’m honest with you I forgot to buy enough for both rocky roads. So I combined the rest of the marshmallows and the rest of the red frogs together and finely chopped them. If you are smart enough to remember to buy enough marshmallows, no need for this! But the red frogs did add a little something to the rocky road

6-8 Candy Canes

½ cup of Christmas m and m’s, or other red chocolate candies – the Christmas m and m’s were perfect for this rocky road

1 teaspoon of peppermint extract

Method

  1. Make sure your biscuits are crushed into largish pieces, and that your lollies are all ready to go
  2. Crush your candy canes to within an inch of their lives. I put them in a freezer bag and bashed them on the bench. This was very satisfying, and I’d highly recommend this method. The candy canes need to be crushed fine so make sure you give them a good bashing.
  3. Place the lollies, biscuits and coloured chocolate in a bowl with the candy canes. Leave the marshmallows out. Set aside. This is what my delicious mix looked like before being covered in glorious, buttery chocolate goodness:

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  1. Line a pan with baking paper and set aside. As with the white chocolate rocky road, the smaller the pan, the thicker the rocky road. I only had a long, rectangular pan, so mine ended up being thinner. This worked will with this recipe though.
  2. Place a bowl over a saucepan that has a little bit of water in it on a medium to low heat. Ensure the bowl seals up any gaps. Place the chocolate in the bowl and melt it, stirring frequently. Then add in the butter and rice malt syrup and stir until smooth. Take off the heat. Here’s my glorious chocolate butter mix before melting:

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  1. Pour the chocolate mixture of the lollies and chocolate that you set aside earlier. Fold the mixture gently until everything is covered well.
  2. Add the peppermint extract and stir through.
  3. Add the marshmallows to avoid them melting. Stir through.
  4. Pour the mixture into the pan and smooth with a spatula. Here’s what mine looked like:

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  1. Place in the fridge and cool for at least four hours, or overnight if possible.
  2. Place the rocky road on a cutting board and get a nice big knife. If it’s a hot day you’ll be able to chop it easily, if not run the knife under hot water to make this a little easier. I chopped mine into about 16 pieces.
  3. You can dust it with icing sugar to make it look really nice. I honestly forgot to do this…whoops! But anyway, see my finished product below:

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And voila, There you have it! Two rocky roads all ready to go. I put these into nice little Christmas goodie bags along with some gingerbread cookies, and presented them to my work colleagues. They all really loved them, and I think it worked as a great gift. I managed to give them 2 squares of each rocky road, which was a pretty good size!

I’d highly recommend giving these recipes a go. They were super easy, quick and fun to make. And the finished product looks quite nice. It’s sure to put a smile on someone’s face!

Happy baking!

– The Serial Pinner xx