No-bake chocolate pumpkin cheesecake and Halloween

Halloween is a bit of a funny one this year – it’s on a Monday. Wandering the streets of the city yesterday, I saw the oddest mix of people; regular Saturday shoppers, zombie walkers, Jokers and Harley Quinns, blood-covered doctors or nurses and many bemused onlookers. Australians have mixed feelings towards Halloween, so when it doesn’t fall on a weekend, it seems even further diluted.

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Oreo ice cream sandwiches and the end of Summer

sandwichSummer ended this weekend. How dramatic does that sound? Even though everyone was heralding the end, both days were really hot. Hot enough that I decided to make my own ice cream, without an ice cream machine!

It did not disappoint.

The custard base gives it a sweet, smooth flavour, and the Oreos add a delectable crunch – the best taste, however, if the satisfaction of home-made ice cream!
I refuse to believe that this is the last batch of ice cream I’ll be making – with the weather we had today (stinking hot), I envisage many more batches of home-made ice cream!

Valentine’s pretzels and home-made gifts

I am the anti-Valentine. I’ve written about this before.  I question the need for lavish gifts, I’m awkward and clumsy when dining at nice restaurants, I don’t really like champagne (unless it’s champagne icing!) and, given the choice, red roses are the last flowers I would choose for myself.

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I’d also choose kitchen/dachshund or tea-related items over a stuffed teddy.

Chocolate cups with blueberry cream and romance

edible heartsI’m not really one for Valentine’s Day. I’ve never been keen on red roses, I’m not a fan of the clichés. I’m really not much of a romantic at all. When asked the other day about the most romantic thing the Boy had ever done for me, my response was that he got me Daisy for my birthday.

My idea of romance involves sausage dogs. Yup.

Mango coconut pops and Summer tastes

singleThis recipe used up the last of the mangoes that I bought on my way down the NSW east coast. It was sad to see the last of the mangoes go, but these ice blocks celebrated the mangoey goodness thoroughly; the handful of ingredients and killer combination of fruits makes for a simple, delectable summer dessert.

Seriously, eating one of these makes you feel like you’re on some divine tropical island, lazing by the beach and being fed deliciously exotic fruits. Mango and coconut transport me to paradise. 

Earl Grey Custard and comfort food

aboveI debated over the title of this blog, because technically tea is not a food, it’s a beverage. And when I was growing up, my siblings and I used to try to treat custard like a beverage! I didn’t think that “comfort beverages” sounded right though.

ANYWAY, this tart combines two of my loves – custard and tea. They’re delicious, comforting and… well, what more could you want? Both of them remind me of my dad. He loves traditional egg custard – just the smell of milk warming on the stove makes me think of him! He also introduced me to earl grey tea when I was a child…I hated it! I used to call it soap tea, no matter how much he espoused its merits!

Strawberry lemon cordial and Spring!

flowersI know I’m a little late jumping on the bandwagon, but it’s Spring and I couldn’t be more thrilled.

My favourite flower in the entire world happens to be the freesia, which only rears its gorgeous little head for the shortest period of time. Spring is that time. If you’ve not seen a freesia before, I’ll give you a little crash course.

They’re small, predominantly white flowers that grow best in the wild. They like company; four or more flowers will grow, side-by-side, on the same stem. They’re trumpet shaped and tend to have shades of purple and yellow dabbed around the outer edges.

Peanut butter slice and broken ovens

cutThis little slice was created at a time when I thought that I had no oven. The oven in my rental property had been smoking  like crazy for no apparent reason at all. So I stopped using it while we tried to get the issue sorted.

Some people could cope with just a stove top to cook on…I can’t.

Ovens are kind of integral to what I do here at Baking with Gab.

So in the week that I went without an oven I went Pinterest crazy on no-bake recipes. I was amazed at the amount of food that people get away with not cooking! Lots of fudges are no bake, I almost made a cake batter dip, and there are so many raw desserts that I want to try.

Brigadeiros and fanfare

groupThe World Cup is in full swing and I haven’t even mentioned it. I love any excuse for a themed post , but I realised recently that I haven’t taken the opportunity yet.

So I did some Googling. Having never been to Brazil, I’m not an expert on Brazilian cuisine (not that lack of experience stopped me having a go at foreign sweets before!) I am, however, a keen reader; Google, Pinterest and Instagram have taught me lots about Brazil in a relatively short amount of time.

I’ve learned that Brazilians seem to have a love of caramel and sweetened condensed milk.

I, therefore, love Brazil!

Cashew, Cobs & caramel fudge and texture

mixIf you haven’t noticed already, I get kind of excited about food. I love putting unexpected flavours together (basil and chocolate, anyone?), I love putting a twist into classic recipes, and I’m really loving playing around with textures to avoid the sameness that can creep into an indulgence like fudge.

Don’t get me wrong, I ADORE simple, speedy fudge. I would have eaten my Nutella fudge all by myself if my siblings hadn’t found out about it. And the peanut butter fudge? I basically did eat that all by myself!

But this fudge is different. It’s kind of grown up. I’d venture so far as to say that it’s a little bit classy!

The smoothness of the chocolate fudge is gorgeous. It’s rich and suave. If this fudge was a person, it would probably be Richard Branson.

The addition of the jersey caramels, Cobs popcorn and the cashews. Make it brilliant, crunchy and a little bit nuts.

Probably still like Richard Branson…

I was a little worried about posting this recipe, because I thought that it was kind of ugly. It’s bumpy and chunky and not as pretty as the recipes I usually post. But the response to the preview photo I posted yesterday on Facebook was fabulous. I love that you guys see beauty in this chunky little delight.

Personally, I think that the alliteration of these three additives (as well as the taste) makes them the best. No matter what combination of ingredients is in the bite that you take, I promise it will be glorious.

Cobbs, cashew and caramel fudge

  • fudge400g dark chocolate
  • 395g tin sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 tbsp thickened cream
  • ½ cup cashews
  • ¾ cup jersey caramels, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup Cobs salted caramel popcorn

 

caramelGrease a 20cm square tin and line it with baking paper. You only need to grease it very lightly, just so that the baking paper has something to adhere to.

Chop up your caramels. Try not to chop them too finely, they’re beautiful when they’re big and chunky. Leave your cashews and salted caramel popcorn whole. Set these to one side.

meltPop your chocolate and sweetened condense milk into a saucepan over a low heat. Stir constantly until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Don’t worry if you can’t get the mixture completely smooth, a few little chunks of chocolate won’t make any difference to the finished product. Add in the thickened cream to give it a glossy sheen.

Take the chocolate mixture off the heat and stir in your caramels, cashews and Cobbs popcorn. Working as quickly as you can, distribute them evenly throughout the mixture, making sure everything is covered in the chocolate fudge. Pour into your prepared pan and smooth it down as best you can. Don’t bother making it perfect, there’s something to be said for delicious, ugly imperfection. refrigerate for at least an hour.

setThat’s it! Sit back and snack on any popcorn or caramels that you’ve got left over.

Remove from the fridge ten minutes before you want to serve it and slice into small squares. It’s super rich, so you only need a mouthful or two!

The great thing is, you can substitute the additives with anything – make a marshmallow, choc-popcorn and walnut fudge. Or M&M, jaffa and white choc chip fudge. There are so many great possibilities.

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