Apr 13, 2013

Homemade Granola Bars

Whoever said sweet things cannot be healthy?

Well, somewhat healthy.

My sister introduced to me this Nature Valley Oats and Honey bar awhile back and we just recently finished our stash. Rather than running out to the nearest supermarket, I attempted to make my own version.

Be warned, your arms are in for a big work out. Or maybe I am just unfit. :)

Homemade Granola Bars
adapted from Delectably Mine

6 cups rolled oats
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups of nuts (I used raw almonds and macadamia)
1/4 cup honey + 1/2 cup golden syrup (or 3/4 cup honey)
3/4 cup brown sugar (packed)
tsp vanilla essence

  1. Preheat the oven to 180˚C.
  2. Line a 18 x 13 inch baking tray with baking paper.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the oats, salt and vegetable oil. Toss it using a wooden spoon, ensuring that all of the oats have been coated with the oil.
  4. Transfer to the baking tray and spread it out evenly. Place the tray in the oven and toast the oats for about 25 minutes or until it turns golden. At every 10 minute interval, toss the oats to ensure that it does not burn.
  5. While the oats are toasting, place the almond and macadamia nuts in a frying pan and toast it slightly.
  6. Transfer the toasted nuts into a food processor and process it until coarsely chopped. (You can use a knife to do this as well)
  7. Transfer the nuts into the same bowl that held the oats.
  8. Once the oats are golden, take it out of the oven and combine it with the nuts. Turn the oven temperature down to 150˚C.
  9. Place the brown sugar, honey and golden syrup in a saucepan and heat it gently. Make sure that you constantly stir it or the sugar will burn. Once all the sugar has been melted, pour in the vanilla essence.
  10. Pour the syrup over the oats in three portions. Toss the oats with the syrup each time. This is to ensure that all the oats will be coated by the syrup.
  11. Using the same baking tray as before, pour the mixture back onto the tray. Press the mixture down with the back of the spoon, making sure that it is really compact.
  12. Place the tray in the oven and bake for about 40 minutes.
  13. Once the granola has turned golden brown, take it out of the oven and let it cool for about 10-15 minutes. 
  14. Once it is slightly cooled, use a knife to cut the granola into bars. Make sure that you do this before the 15 minutes is up or it will be very difficult to cut the granola.
  15. Let it cool completely.
It looks like there are a lot of things to do, but there really isn't! I am just trying to be thorough here so that you won't stumble across the problems I had.

I will promise you though that you are going to enjoy this yummy homemade granola bars!

Jelly Hearts Strawberry Cheesecake

Easter break is officially over. Back to reality. Back to 8.30 a.m. classes. 

So to mark the end of my 2-week long holidays (which was not much of a holiday actually due to all my assignments), I decided to make Jelly Hearts Strawberry Cheesecake.

The first time I tried this was while I was back in Kuching. I was really young and did not have an appreciation for cheesecake. Silly me.

But the second time round, my sister decided to make it here in Melbourne and ever since then, this has been one of my favourite desserts.

I should warn you, if you want this recipe to be quick to eat, then you might want to close this screen. Now.

Because it is a non-baked cheesecake (which is what I generally prefer) and will take about 4 hours to set. But that really depends on how much gelatine water you added to the cheese mixture and what sort of jelly powder you are using for the top layer.

So here is the basic recipe, but feel free to change it up. Maybe instead of using strawberries, you can use another type of berry or passionfruit or mango. Whatever suits your fancy.

Jelly Hearts Strawberry Cheecake
makes 12 cupcakes

Bottom layer: Biscuit base

200 g Arnott's "Nice" biscuits (or graham crackers)
140 g butter (melted)

  1. Place biscuits into a food processor and blitz until you have small crumbs.
  2. Pour the crumbed biscuits into a bowl and add the melted butter. Mix well.
  3. Divide the mixture equally among 12 cupcake liners.

Middle layer: Cheese layer

250 g Philadelphia cream cheese
50 g sugar
10 g gelatine powder
1/2 cup boiling water
1 tsp vanilla essence
6 strawberries, halved

  1. Prepare the strawberries first before making the mixture.
  2. In a small bowl, place the gelatine powder and boiling water. Stir until all the granules have been disolved.
  3. In a separate bowl, cream the cheese, sugar and vanilla essence. Once the sugar has been dissolved, pour in the jelly mixture.
  4. Divide the batter among the 12 cupcake liners.
  5. Place half a strawberry on top of each cupcake.
  6. Place the tray in the fridge for about 3 hours.

Final layer: Jelly layer
  1. Follow the instructions on the strawberry jelly box. 
  2. Take the cupcake tray out of the fridge, and fill the cupcakes until the top or until the strawberry is covered.
  3. Refrigerate until jelly has set.

So you might be wondering, what are you going to do with the reaming jelly liquid? Make another dessert! Fresh strawberries with jelly!

After the jelly has set? Start eating! ;)

Apr 5, 2013

Chocolate Pavlova

Two posts in one day? Why not? :)

Just last Sunday, my sister and I had our cousins over for dinner. And we went all out. She made roasted chicken, caulliflower soup with a yummy salad on the side. I was in charge of dessert.

My first initial dessert idea was to make Moelleux au Chocolat. But I wasn't sure if I could make enough for the 7 of us. So we decided to change it to a Chocolate Pavlova.

One thing great about this recipe is that it is quick in preparing and easy to make. But (and there's a but to everything) it takes an hour and 15 minutes to bake.

So, here's what you need to do.

Chocolate Pavlova 

6 egg whites
300 g caster sugar
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
3 tbsps cocoa powder
50 g chocolate (optional but recommended)

Optional toppings

whipped cream
mixed berries

  1. Preheat the oven to 180˚C.
  2. Whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks. Slowly add the caster sugar and continue to whisk until you get a gleamy and satiny meringue.
  3. Add the balsamic vinegar and cocoa powder. Fold gently until all of it has been incorporated.
  4. Break up the chocolate into small chunks and fold it through the meringue mixture.
  5. Pour the meringue onto a lined baking tray. (Note: You don't want the meringue to spread out too much so that you can really get the marshmallow centre in the pavlova).
  6. Place the tray in the oven and immediately turn the temperature down to 150˚C.
  7. Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
  8. Once the pavlova is cooked, take it out of the oven and let it cool.
  9. Serve on the side with whipped cream and mixed berries.

Voila! :)

Top Paddock

I was just reminded today that I have not updated my blog in the longest time. Many apologies. I have been extremely busy with my assignments until now. And since I am not in the mood to start on those yet, I thought I would update my poor desserted blog. 

Just today, my friends and I went to Top Paddock for breakfast. Yes. Breakfast. Not brunch.
But it was a good breakfast. Food was good. Coffee was not too bad (give me Manchester Press or Industrial Beans - another post - any day). Service was a bit slow, but the waiters and waitresses were really friendly.

Top Paddock is this really huge cafe along Church Street so you can't miss it. Thankfully we went on a weekday and not a weekend because I have read several blogs that it gets packed really quickly over the weekend. 
It is really spacious inside with simple decorations. The stools were made from recycled road-signs which gave this place a more rustic feel to it. And because the walls were actually full windows, you still get to enjoy the sun while sitting inside.
We were being a little "adventurous" today (aka. greedy) and decided to have a main each and shared a dessert. By the end of it, we were really really reallllllly stuffed. Honestly, the portions looked smaller than most cafes, but we were dead wrong.
I am not going to post up the menu because you can just click here and you'll have a clearer view of it.

V ordered the poached eggs with ham hock (really really yummy ham hock).
R ordered the cured salmon with poached eggs. Yet another tasty dish.
And I had the kingfish. 
However, I thought that it was a bit too salty for my taste.
What I liked about all the dishes was that it was so colourful!
What can I say? I am a sucker for these kind of things.
Lastly, for our dessert, we shared the ricotta hotcakes.
If you are considering of ordering a dessert to share, order it at the end. By the time we got to our hotcakes, it wasn't hot anymore and we were pretty stuffed too. But overall, it was good. The hotcakes were light and fluffy on the inside and not too sweet.

Regardless of how great the food is at any place, there is always a downside. That is, getting to this place. It is not easily accessible by public transport. Thankfully, my friend had rented a car this week so she said she'll drive there. BUT, please not that if you do decide to drive there, do not go over the parking limit even by a minute! We learnt that the hard way.

Will I go back? Probably. There's a few more interesting dishes on the menu that I would like to try. But that's for another day.

I can't even think about eating right now.
658 Church Street
VIC 3121
(03) 9429 4332

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