Monday, 26 August 2013

Choc-a-block for Fathers Day!

I just realised it's Fathers Day this weekend! Eeeek! How the back end of the year has crept up on us all! So if you are like me and have organised zilch-o for your Dad for Sunday I thought it might help you to know what's out there ready to buy and ready to go! I've focused on chocolate gifts here as what man doesn't like chocolate? (regardless of what they tell you!) And as far as I'm concerned the likes of Bunnings vouchers and bottles of wine can be reserved for birthdays and Christmas, but special days like Fathers Day represent love and appreciation which is always best said with chocolate. I've featured my top 8 chocolate gifts for Dad, but there are many more gifts available on these sites that may suit your budget and style better.

Happy Fathers Day!



1. Cacao Fine Chocolates and Patisserie
For locations click here

2. Darrell Lea
Dad's Bag from $25.00
Available at Coles, Woolies, IGA and Australia Post Shops
 
3. Max Brenner
For locations click here
 
4. Haigs Chocolates
For locations click here

5. Ganache Chocolate
For locations click here

6. Koko Black
Fathers Day Gift Boxes from $23.00
$1 of every Father's Day Gift boxes sold will be donated to Beyond Blue
For locations click here

7. Chocolate Box
Dads Selection Bag from $25.00
For locations click here 

8. Edible Blooms
Delivers Australia wide 
www.edibleblooms.com.au




 

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Cray-cray-crazy cupcakes!

So this is the last blog as part of the series of 'sweet treat crazes of 2013' that I have been working through these last couple of months. We've covered all the hot sweet trends this year from ombre cakes to popcorn, donuts to peanut butter and even winter ice cream flavours (just to name a few!). Last cab of the rank is the idea of 'wild pairings', or more commonly known as two flavours that you would never imagine would be palatable. I researched a lot for this blog and settled on the idea of cupcake as my base. But this wouldn't be just any cupcake, I was adamant to create a cupcake flavour that:  
a) had not been done before, by anyone; 
b) would make you go 'really?' whilst screwing your face up; and
c) go 'oh wow that actually is really yum!' after consuming it. And I'm happy to say that after the all important taste test this afternoon (not only on us but also on members of my family too) I think I have ticked all three boxes. So what is the flavour I hear you ask? Well it's based on the idea of the chili and chocolate combination, where you get the heat of the chili cut against the sweetness of the chocolate to reveal a perfectly balanced combination. 

So drum roll please.... Mr Meko and I present to you, after an afternoon in the experimental kitchen, our Chocolate Honey Mustard Cupcakes with Crispy Bacon Bits. Did your face screw up when you read that? I have no doubt it did. But you do need to try this one before passing judgement, like the chili and chocolate combination you will find a perfect little cupcake harmony going on with your taste buds after one bite. Not just a flat line flavour, this cupcake has multi flavour levels that will make you want another and another. So give it a crack and enjoy x

Chocolate Honey Mustard Cupcakes 
with Crispy Bacon Bits

(makes 24-30 minis)

100g butter
2/3 cup caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup self raising flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder, sifted
1/2 tsp bi-carb soda
1/2 cup milk

honey mustard butter cream
3.5 tbsp honey
4 tbsp Dijon mustard
125g butter, room temp
1 cup icing sugar

1 lean bacon rasher, chopped into strips
1 tbsp honey (for glazing)

Preheat oven to to 180c. Line two 12 hole mini cupcake tins with paper cases.
Using a mixer cream butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Gradually add eggs and mix until just combined.
Combine flour, cocoa and bi-carb soda. Add to creamed mixture along with the milk. Beat until just combined.
Spoon mixture into cases until each is 1/3rd full. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Turn out on to a wire rack to cool.
Meanwhile to make your bacon pieces, heat a tablespoon of honey in the microwave for 20 seconds to warm, then glaze each strip of bacon on one side using a pastry brush. Spray a baking tray lightly with oil spray placing bacon honey side up and bake at 180c for approx 5 mins or until crispy. Remove from oven and set aside to cool. 

Next make your honey mustard by combining 3.5 tablespoons of honey with 4 tablespoons of mustard in a small bowl and microwave on high for 20 seconds. Stir until combined.

To make butter cream, cream butter and icing sugar in an electric mixer until light, white and fluffy. Scrape the sides of the bowl down and add your honey mustard mixture whilst you continue to beat. 

Load butter cream into a piping bag and pipe on to each cupcake using a circular motion. Chop bacon strips into little squares and decorate each cupcake.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Its not a Cronut.....it's not a Zonut......it's a MONUT!


If you haven't realised that donuts are trending like crazy this year then you must be living under a rock! Whether they are featuring as part of a donut bar or being enjoyed over a hot chocolate as a churros, they are without a doubt the number one sweet treat this year. And I've noticed that there is some serious creativity going on with donut flavours and even some wild 'crossings' appearing with likes of 'cronuts' (a cross between a croissant and a donut) and even 'zonuts' thanks to Adriano Zumbo. So we decided to jump on the band wagon and come up with our own original donut flavour. I did a little research this week on what flavours are trending out there as far as donut fillings go and was really impressed with what I found. From pomegranate mousse filled donuts, to egg nogg and even peanut butter and jelly filled, there was some serious donut envy going on from my side of the laptop! So when I posed the question to Mr Meko "what filling should we do for our donuts?" he answered without hesitation, "Turkish delight".  "Sold!" I proclaimed, being an old Turkish delightful from way back! But with all the Zonuts and Cronuts out there we decided to put our own Meko spin on our donuts and call them a 'Monut'! But is was much to my Mother's dismay who insisted they should be called a 'Mekonut', which I didn't think had the same ring to it. I had to chuckle though when I thought of calling it a 'Gonut' (using the G from our last name), but thought better of it after realising it sounded more like a part of the male anatomy than a sweet treat. So here it is, our Turkish Monuts! You won't find this recipe anywhere else, because it is fresh from the Meko experimental kitchen today. Enjoy x

Turkish 'Monuts'
(makes 24)

You'll need:
3/4 cup milk
14g dry yeast
1/4 cup caster sugar plus 2 tblsp
pinch salt
1 1/2 cups plain flour
220g butter, chilled & cubed
3 eggs, lightly beaten
vegetable oil for frying

Icing
2 cups icing sugar
1/4 tsp butter, softened
6 tblsp water
1 tsp rose water essence
80g pistachios, crushed

Filling
250g traditional Turkish delight pieces 
1/4 cup water

1. Heat milk over a low heat until just warm (overheating will kill yeast). Remove from the heat and pour into a jug. Add yeast, 2 tablespoons caster sugar and salt. Whisk until well-combined. Stand for 10 minutes.

2. Sift flour into a large bowl. Add butter and rub in with fingertips until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add 1/4 cup caster sugar, stirring until well combined. Make a well in the centre and add yeast mixture and eggs. Mix until well combined. Place mixture onto a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes (watch how to do this here). Place dough into a lightly oiled bowl and cover with glad wrap and stand in a warm place for 45 minutes, or until doubled in size.

3. Turn onto a lightly floured board and cut dough in two halves and knead each piece for 5 minutes. Roll each half out one into 5cm thick logs. Cut into 3-4cm slices then using your hands roll each piece into a round ball. Watch the video on how to do this here.

4. Half fill a saucepan with oil. Heat until oil to 170c (you will need a heat resistant thermometer) and ensure you maintain this heat throughout the process. Add 2 to 3 donuts at a time, cooking for 6 mins (3 minutes on each side). Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. 

5. Once cooled, make your icing by mixing your icing sugar, water, butter and rose water together until smooth and combined. Dip the top of each donut in icing and then into the pistachio nuts. 

6. When ready to eat, place your Turkish delight in a microwave proof jug with your water and heat for 30 seconds. Mix with a spoon until melted and runny (add more water and heat again if necessary). Half fill a syringe (available at most chemists) with Turkish delight mix and insert into donut to fill. Repeat for remaining donuts and serve.


Visit our Instagram page for more 'how to' and action shots http://instagram.com/mekocreations

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Happy Anniversary 'Honey'



Mr Meko and I celebrated 10 years together this week (since we met, not in marriage....yes we still remember our first date!), and last night thought it would be fitting to crack a special bottle of wine and have a gourmet homemade meal to celebrate the occasion. With the list of 'Sweet Treat Crazes of 2013' still front of mind for me and still continuing on the blog week by week (we only have two more to feature after this!) I thought it was time we tackled the flavour honey. Now I was surprised to see this flavour on the Sweet Treat Craze list as it's a pretty standard flavour in desserts, along with the likes of caramel which also featured on the list. Honey doesn't really strike me as a craze that we need to be on to, but rather know how to pair it up with other flavours that will make it shine. So rather than creating for you a honey cake or honey cookies, Mr Meko thought it was time to showcase a dessert (of which he is most well known for). So we present to you our Honey Panna Cottas with Caramel Popcorn and Caramel Sauce. We actually made some lovely 'picnic style' panna cottas last week when visiting a friend in hospital, which is probably why the idea was so front of mind. But I nearly fell off the couch when I tried these ones last night.......the mix of the honey and caramel against the delicate panna cotta with the crunch of the popcorn was just to die for. And if you watch your Master Chef as we do, you know that texture is the key to a good dessert. So please try this one, it's a really easy dessert to try at your next dinner party that will no doubt impress your guests.


Honey Panna Cottas with Caramel Popcorn and Caramel Sauce

(makes between 6-10 depending on mould size)

You'll need:

500mls milk
250mls cream
350gs honey
11g gelatine leaves
1/4 cup popping corn and vegetable oil for popping

Caramel Sauce:
275g brown sugar
215mls cream
100g butter

Soak your gelatine leaves in a bowl of cold water until soft.

Meanwhile in a saucepan, heat the milk, cream and honey over a high heat until just boiling. Remove off the heat.

Remove the gelatine leaves from the water, squeezing them to remove any excess water. Add the gelatine to the saucepan, stirring until dissolved. 

Transfer the cream mixture from the saucepan to a bowl and place in the freezer to cool for approx 30 mins, stirring every 10 mins to avoid freezing. If the mix starts to freeze, whisk back until it is runny. 

Lightly spray some dariole moulds (individual plastic moulds) with oil spray. 

Once cooled, remove your mix from the freezer and fill your moulds to just below the top of each one. Transfer your moulds to the fridge to set for at least an hour. NB. If your mix is too warm when you transfer to the moulds it will cause them to split. If this occurs, return to the saucepan and reheat before transferring back to the freezer to cool.

To make your caramel sauce, heat your cream and brown sugar together in a saucepan over a high heat until boiled. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter until all combined. Set aside.

Make your popcorn as per the packet instructions. Then in a bowl pour some of your hot caramel sauce over your popcorn and stir until coated. Spread onto a tray lined with baking paper and set aside to set and cool. Once cool, break into pieces and set aside for later.

Once your panna cottas are set, prepare your plate. Using a dessert spoon, place a spoonful of the cooled caramel sauce on the plate and smear using the back of the spoon, dragging it through the sauce into an arc shape. NB Ensure your caramel sauce is not to hot to avoid melting your panna cotta when plated.

Loosen your panna cotta from its mould by creating air pockets around the side of the mould by gently pulling the panna cotta away from the edge of the mould and squeezing the mould gently to loosen it. Place the mould on the plate and gently remove to reveal the panna cotta. 

Decorate with your caramel popcorn and serve.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Boo! It's a name cake!



So we are almost through the list of sweet treat crazes of 2013, but I have been saving this particular sweet treat craze for a special little nephew of mine for his birthday. I am of course referring to the Peekaboo cake craze that is sweeping social media this year. Whether you've seen it done on the Great Australian Bake Off with their checker board cake challenge or seen the images a plenty on line of cakes sporting polka dots, rainbow swirls and even love hearts, we've all questioned "well how one earth do they do that?". So we thought we would show you! But given the abundance of tutorials on line on how to bake polka dots into your cakes we decided to take it to the next level and try something you hadn't seen before (we have actually only seen this done once before albeit unsuccessfully), a name cake. Yes that's right, cut the cake open to reveal the name of your loved one or maybe some special words. Now this will really only work for short names/words, unless you find some very small letter cutters, but you may lose the effect. And of course this can be done with any sort of image cutters, it doesn't have to be letters, so let your imagination run wild.


  
Step 1.

Bake your cakes for the letters inside the cake (get the recipe for our butter cake here). We baked 3 square butter cakes coloured with red food gel (one cake per letter to spell 'MAX').



Step 2.

Once your cakes are completely cooled, trim the tops of your cakes with a serrated knife to ensure a flat surface to work with.



Step 3.

Using letter cutters, cut your letters out and set aside. We got four of each letter out of each cake.



Step 4.

Prepare your cake batter for the rest of the cake. You can use the same butter cake recipe here.



Step 5.

Place a small amount of batter in the base of your tin and smooth over. Align your first row of letters set at least 2cm back from the front of the cake tin.Stack the remaining letters behind without any gaps.





Step 6.

Using a piping bag, pipe your cake batter in an around your letters, filling the tin. Use a spatula to smooth over the top of the cake.



Step 7.

Bake cake as per the recipe and allow to cool.



Step 8.

Once completely cooled, trim the cake sides and top using a serrated knife to ensure a perfectly sized cake with the lettering centered.




Step 9.

Decorate as desired. We covered our cake in butter cream with fondant cut letters to match the inside of the cake. Get our butter cream recipe here.



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