Posts Tagged ‘Chocolate’

Banoffee Pie Popsicles

When Maryam was 6 months old, I decided I needed to go back to work. At least part time, to give me some sanity, adult conversation and take a break from being a mommy for a few hours a week. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely loved being a mom and Maryam was a dream child, still is. She slept all night, ate everything on her plate and never cried. I always joke that the amount Hassan cries in a day, Maryam has probably cried in a lifetime!

I had a lovely nanny to look after Maryam, one I could really trust and I excitedly entered the workforce. But things didn’t go as planned. On my first day back, I just couldn’t concentrate. My shift was only 4 hours but I called home a total of 30 times. What time did Maryam wake? Did she finish her breakfast? What is she doing now? What snack did she have? Did she nap? How long for? Did she finish her lunch? The questions in my heart didn’t stop, nor did the phone calls.

That night, as I held her tight and put her to sleep, brushing her tiny curls behind her ears that we fondly called her whiskers, I made the easiest decision I have ever made. And the hardest, if that makes sense. But the best decision as well.  I could not work outside the home whilst the children were small. I just couldn’t. I couldn’t bare the thought of not being there everyday to see her evolve, to see her growing, be there to capture her firsts in my heart. Listening to her as her speech changed, her favourite toys changed, building her first lego tower and holding her hand through it all. 

However, I also quickly realised that I wasn’t the mom that loved to play. Whilst I could manage 15 minutes building a lego tower, another 10 baking a pretend pizza, I was never going to be the mother that played all day. I’d rather take Maryam to the park and push her in the swing or let her discover the slide and flowers and weeds and dewy grass beneath her feet. I’d rather be in the kitchen baking that real pizza. 

And so that is exactly what we did. Every morning, I would strap her tiny pudgy body into the bouncer and place it on our kitchen table, positioning her perfectly yet safely so she had the best view. I would go about creating recipes and havoc in the kitchen, describing my every move to her. As though I was a teacher and she my student. Sometimes I’d even pretend I was hosting a cooking show on tv and she was my audience.

At times she fell asleep and I’d feel deflated but as she grew older her eyes grew more curious, her actions more animated. Sometimes I’d catch her playing with the flour that danced along with the light coming through our kitchen window. When she started to crawl, this opened up a whole new world of possibilities in the kitchen for her. Pots and pans were her favourite toys and emptying out the pantry was the best part of the day for her. 

That was then. And look, this is now. Her apron sits right next to mine behind the door, her step stool has its own place in the kitchen. She would rather crack eggs and play with flour over her toys any day.   She proudly knows where all the cake tins and muffin pans stay and she can probably name most spices in my pantry.

I love that we can spend quality time together, both of us doing what we love. I love that I can nurture her love of cooking and baking. I love that she helps to decide our menu for the week. I love that she is willing to try anything, at least once. I love that face of anticipation and curiosity as she watches dough rise or batter cook in the oven. I love that excitement when she wants to decorate anything and everything pink, with ‘springles’ of course. 

As she wanted to do with these banoffee pie popsicles. She wasn’t too pleased when I thwarted her plan to cover them with pink shiny sprinkles. We settled on chocolate sauce instead. With her favourite biscuit in the whole wide world. Mine too- Digestives. The inspiration for these comes from the one ingredient banana ice cream posted by The Kitchn. We put our own twist to it and had such a fun afternoon decorating popsicles and photographing them.

Banoffee Pie Popsicles

1 can condensed milk
4 large bananas
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp butter
40 g digestives, crushed
80 g chocolate, I used half milk and half dark

Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Take any paper packaging off from the condensed milk tin and place in boiling water so that it is fully submerged in water. Allow it to simmer on medium heat for 2-3 hours. The longer you boil it, the darker your dulce de leche will be. Add water as necessary, making sure the can is always covered in water. Use tongs to remove the can from the water and cool completely.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Centigrade. Peel and halve the bananas. Place the bananas on a baking tray greased with butter. Sprinkle with brown sugar and roast for approximately 20 minutes (You can skip the roasting part if your bananas are already ripe). Allow to cool before freezing for 2 hours. Blend the frozen bananas until smooth, scraping the bowl whenever necessary.  

Fill your molds with a little bit of the banana mixture followed by a bit of the dulce de leche. Keep repeating until you have filled you popsicle molds completely. I used approximately 1 tablespoon of dulce de leche per mold. You can refrigerate the rest of the dulce de leche for other uses. Cover molds with foil paper and insert a wooden popsicle stick in the centre. Freeze overnight till solid. 

Melt the chocolate in a bain marie or in a steel bowl placed over hot water. Spread the crushed digestives on a tray. Unmold the frozen popsicles and roll them in the crushed biscuits and drizzle the chocolate over it.  Serve immediately.

Makes 4 large popsicles. 

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Banana Chocolate and Hazelnut Loaf Cake

I can’t believe it’s been nearly a year and a half since I last baked a banana cake. I was six months pregnant at that time and it was a craving that led me to bake one of my favourite cakes. Since that time, many things have changed.

Our family has grown and is complete. We moved to a bigger house to accommodate this- and my growing collection of props. Maryam started school and Hassan learnt many new things. I worried for the longest time when he didn’t sit till nine months. Now he tries to climb into Maryam’s chair and sit, just like his big sister. He crawls and cruises and has the most headstrong personality a fifteen month old could ever have. It is highly amusing to see him throw his head back in anger and then bury it between his legs when he doesn’t get his way. Terrible twos already?

I finally have a garden although it still needs some love and attention. A few more plants and flowers to add colour and perhaps even a herb garden at some point? I’m being rather optimistic I think. But one thing that hasn’t changed is my love for banana cakes. Oh yes, I still have a thing for them.

Here I have taken that same cake I baked whilst pregnant and changed it to suit our current cravings (Oh and I’m definitely not pregnant). Added some chocolate and hazelnut butter and finished it with some chopped toasted hazelnuts. We devoured it together. Me, Maryam and my little Hassan as well. Good thing it makes two loaves so we could share with friends too. 

Banana Chocolate and Hazelnut Loaf Cake

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/4 cup hazelnut butter (stir if oil has separated)
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 tsp lemon juice
1 1/2 cups mashed bananas
1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts, skin removed and chopped coarsely 

For the ganache:
6 ounces semi sweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup whipping cream

Extra chopped hazelnuts for garnish.

Preheat the oven to 175 degrees Centigrade. Grease and flour 2 loaf tins. Mash bananas mixed with lemon juice and set aside. In another bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

Using the paddle attachment of your stand mixer beat the butters and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time. Add the vanilla extract. With the mixer speed on low, add the flour mixture alternating with the buttermilk. Stir in the mashed bananas, chopped chocolate and hazelnuts. 

Pour batter into prepared pans and bake for 1 hour or so or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the cake. Frost when completely cool. 

To make the ganache, bring cream to a boil. Turn the heat off and add the chocolate chips. Let it sit for two minutes. Add butter and with a wooden spoon, mix until smooth. Frost cooled cake immediately and garnish with extra toasted hazelnuts. 

Makes two loaves.

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Maryam’s Chocolate Crepes

This is Maryam’s recipe. Kind of. It was Monday and we had just spent our entire weekend cooped inside. Maryam had a fever since Friday which meant she was off school. The weekend was spent trying to tear Hassan off Maryam as she rested on the sofa. The other half was spent pacifying Maryam as Hassan kept destroying her Lego creations. 

You know the usual. She made, he destroyed. Don’t ask. So when Monday rolled round, I was relieved we had plans to go to the beach with friends. Followed by a picnic of course. Beaches are aways associated with picnics, yes? At least they are in our world.

‘Mummy, what are you making to take to the beach?’ Maryam enquired. ‘I want something with chocolate, lots of chocolate.’ A giggle escaped her lips. I had no choice but to agree- who could turn down chocolate right? We decided on crepes, slathered with Nutella and sealed with bananas.

As she did her usual routine of cracking eggs and telling me the same story she tells me every time she cracks eggs- that of her 21 year old cousin that is scared to break eggs, she asked, ‘How about chocolate crepes?’ And I thought why not?

As the batter whizzed and spun in the blender and we both eyed the bubbles frothing, I saw a tiny hand scooping more cocoa powder. ‘It just doesn’t look chocolaty enough.’ Who was I to disagree. So instead of three, we put four tablespoons. Just right.

So that makes it Maryam’s recipe right. She beamed when I said we’ll call these Maryam’s crepes from now. ‘And I cracked the eggs all by myself and I wasn’t even scared……’ And she went on to repeat the same story for the nth time. 

After a hard day picking shells and sand at the beach for a special project (again, dont ask!), we feasted on these crepes. Some with bananas, some with raspberries. All with nutella though. And my Hassan, of course he joined in too. He’s also just learnt to suck with a straw. He is utterly obsessed with straws now. And I with him. 

Maryam’s Chocolate Crepes

1 cup all purpose flour
4 tbs cocoa powder

Pinch of salt
1 1/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup soda water
2 eggs
2 tbs butter, melted and cooled
Melted butter for frying

Nutella, sliced bananas, raspberries, icing sugar and roasted hazel nuts to serve

Mix all the ingredients in a blender and mix until the batter is smooth and lump free. If lumps remain, sieve the batter. Let it rest for at least an hour or more.

In a non stick frying pan set over medium heat, ladle approximately 1/3 cup batter at a time (the amount will depend on how big your pan is) and swirl the batter around the pan. Cook for about 1-2 minutes. You can add a few drops of butter to help lift the edges off to flip the pancake over. Cook for a further minute on the other side. Serve immediately with nutella, bananas, raspberries, icing sugar and hazel nuts.

Makes 10 crepes.

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One Bowl Chocolate Cake with Whipped Chocolate Frosting

You may think from my absence on this blog that not much cooking has been happening in our kitchen. Quite the contrary actually. If you follow me on Instagram you have probably seen what I’ve been up to in the kitchen.

Correction- what we have been up to. With Maryam off from school, baking and cooking is a great way to entertain and keep her busy- she ALWAYS wants to help. We have made orzo salad with arugula and sweet cherry tomatoes, soft doughy bread rolls, home made pizza with the most flavorful and easy tomato sauce ever. Must share that one soon.

This one bowl chocolate cake has been a favorite. I cannot tell you how many times we have made this cake over the last few months. July and August is a busy month for us when it comes to birthdays and other celebrations. A total of eight I think. Yes, and our anniversary too. Eleven years married.

And so a celebration cake is always sitting on our counter, more than likely chocolate. After all it needs no season right? Moist, easy, no hassle and little clean up. Simple, yet always looks like so much effort went into it.

I like to top it with some chocolate whipped cream for special occassions but it works just as well topped with fresh berries and powdered sugar. Even though I have blogged about this recipe before, it was Maryam who prompted this post.

‘Mamma, why are you not taking a picture of the cake?’ And I thought, why not. Even though this cake has graced the blog, sometimes there is nothing like on old favorite. Something comforting, like a soft old blanket. Weathered, frayed at the ages, used a multitude of times but cocoons like no other.

And that is exactly what this cake does.  

One Bowl Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Whipped Frosting

2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup hot brewed coffee
2 eggs
4 oz. semi sweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups whipping cream

Preheat oven to 175 degrees Centigrade and grease and flour two 6 inch cake pans. In a bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients. Create a well in the centre and add all the rest of the ingredients except coffee. Mix well until combined and then add coffee. Mix once again (the batter will be very runny). Pour into greased pans and bake in the middle rack in the oven for approximately 45 minutes or until a skewer comes out just clean. Cool on a wire rack.
To make the frosting, heat the whipping cream in a pan to a simmer (do NOT boil). Add to it chocolate chips and stir to combine until chips have melted. Regrifgerate until cool and whip until stiff peaks form.

Cream will not whip if boiled or if not completely cold before whipping.

Cake recipe from

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Tart with Peanut Praline Brittle

Every once in a while, I have the urge to declutter and cleanse. Every part of my life- from my make up bag to the pantry as well as the fridge and freezer. There is nothing better than opening your wardrobe to find all your clothes arranged neatly according to color. Or opening the kitchen cupboard and staring in awe at all the jars labeled alphabetically.

Yes, you could say I am rather obsessed with being a clean freak- everything must be orderly and organised. This year, Maryam joined in my spring cleaning spree. Together, we went through her toys and systematically sorted out what she loves to play with and what is currently tossed to one side. As I kept putting more and mroe toys to the ‘chairty’ pile, every time I turned my head the pile became smaller and smaller.

She would putting the toys back saying she still ‘needed’ them. In the end, we collectively agreed on what toys she would be giving away to those less fortunate. It was a great activity to do together, to make her realise the importance of charity, of giving, of sharing. Yet, it also made me more conscious of how wasteful we can be.

Perhaps the best part of cleaning sprees is that moment of discovery. When you find hidden money in the sofa, when you stumble upon an outfit that is almost as good as new, when leftover tart dough is unearthed from the depths of your freezer.

And that is exactly how this tart came to be. I had made this tart dough a while back when I made these pear crumble tarts for Mowie’s magazine. I decided to top them with smooth and velvety chocolate mousse and a kiss of peanut butter. Then you bite into it and there is a crackling explosion in your mouth. It’s the crackle of peanut praline brittle. It was the icing on the cake after a hard day of cleaning.

Me and Maryam quietly ate one each at the end of the day, a twinkle of excitement in both our eyes. She- because she chanced upon a singing stuffed toy in her toy box. I- because I discovered a long lost yellow dress, perfect for spring.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Tart with Peanut Praline Brittle

Tart dough:
200 gms butter, room temperature
100 gms sugar
1 egg
300- 350 gms all purpose flour

Mousse filling:
200 ml whipping cream
1 tbs peanut butter
50 gms milk chocolate
100 gms dark chocolate

Peanut praline brittle:
1/2 cup peanuts
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbs water

To make tart bases, cream the butter and sugar using the paddle attachment on your mixer until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat well. Stir in 300 grams of flour. If the mixture doesn’t clean the sides of the bowl, keep adding more flour a tablespoon at a time until it does. Shape the dough into a disc and wrap in cling film. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Centigrade. Grease your tart bases and roll out the tart dough using minimal flour to a 1/4 inch thickness. Fill the tart bases and cut off any excess (can be stored in the freezer). Pierce the tarts with a fork and bake for approximately 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool.

Place the peanuts on baking paper placed over a baking tray. To make the peanut praline brittle, mix the sugar and water in a heavy bottom saucepan and bring to the boil (do NOT stir but swirl the pan). Boil for a minute and reduce the heat. Simmer mixture until it turns a golden color. Quickly pour the syrup over the peanuts and tilt the tray to coat all the peanuts. Work quickly as the toffee sets very quickly. Refrigerate until completely cool. Place in a food processor and pulse a few times.

To make the mousse, whip the cream to soft peaks. Heat chocolate and peanut butter until melted and fully incorporated over a bain marie (can use a microwave). Cool completely and quickly fold into the whipped cream. Spread into the cooled tart bases and sprinkle with peanut praline brittle. Can serve as is or refrigerate and serve cold.

Makes 6 tarts. Extra dough can be frozen.

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Chocolate Nutella and Hazel Nut Brownie Cake

We haven’t spent much time together. You see, I’ve been busy and she is confused. Before, my world revolved around her. She would be the first thing I set my eyes on when I woke. Or rather, when she woke me up. And the last thing I checked on before I went to bed. Just to make sure she was still tucked under her blanket.

But recently her world has been turned topsy turvy, she is in a midst of a hurricane. She doesn’t quite understand why. Why I’m always in a hurry? Why we don’t go to the park EVERY day? Why I don’t feed her EVERY meal time? Why I don’t drop her to nursery anymore?

Why do we never mange to finish the story at bed time? Why don’t we have play dates anymore? Why don’t we spend hours playing in the bath nowadays? Why do I have to share my toys? ‘Why’ has been a prominent question in our home lately. Sometimes I have an answer, a lot of the times, I evade the question.

Whilst Maryam is loving being the big sister and having a young brother to cuddle, play with and experiment on (!), she hasn’t been liking the fact that I cannot spend all my time with her. There just aren’t that many hours in the day anymore. But I had a plan. A surprise to make it all better again, to make ir right, to make her happy. Like old times.

The first thing she asked when I had gotten back from hospital was, ‘Mummy, can we make ‘loodles’ and carrot cupcakes?’ So I knew baking had to be involved. I told her the night before that we would make a brownie cake for Valentine’s. And a card for Papa. She was excited with a twinkle in her eye. ‘I’ll chop the nuts. And mix.’

And that’s exactly what we did for Valentine’s. I measured. She chopped, whisked and mixed. And tasted of course. That is always part of the plan.  Together, we baked and for a little while, there was a pause in the WHY. That is how we spent our Valentine’s. Simple. But with a decadent treat. A chocolate brownie cake with hazel nuts and Nutella. It was gooey, fudgy and the perfect end to our dinner.

Chocolate Nutella and Hazel Nut Brownie Cake

Brownie Cake
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup + 2 tbs dark chocolate, roughly chopped
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup hazel nut flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup cocoa

Nutella Layer
1/2 cup Nutella spread
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup chopped hazel nuts

Ganache Layer
1 cup dark chocolate, roughly chopped
1 cup milk chocolate, roughly chopped
2 tbs cream
1/8 cup butter, room temperature

Chopped hazel nuts to garnish

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Centigrade and line a rectangular pan with baking paper. In a bowl set over a a pot of boiling water, melt the butter and chcolate until smooth (can use a microwave). In whisk together the eggs and sugar. Add the chocolate mixture to the egg mixture. Add dry ingredients into the liquid mixture until just incorporated. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 20-23 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with only a few crumbs. Refrigerate brownie cake after it has cooled.

In the mean time, mix all the ingredients of the Nutella layer. Spread over cooled brownie cake. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or so or until it has set.

In the mean time, prepeare the ganache by melting all the ingredients in a bowl set over boiling water. Pour ganache over the set Nutella layer and immediately garnish with chopped hazel nuts. Refrigerate for 20 minutes or so to set the ganache layer.

Serve cold. Makes 18 pieces depending on pan size. Leave to cool out of the fridge for 5 minutes before slicing

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Cappuccino Truffles

I have always wanted to celebrate Christmas. I yearned for all things festive- glittering decorations, sparkling trees, a frosty winterland when I peek outside my window, intricately decorated cookies. In fact, one of the highlights of living in London was getting caught up in the spirit of Christmas.

The beautiful lights that lined Oxford Street, the food hall at Harrods adorned with exquisite delicacies, even the romantic adverts on TV. I was especially keen on the Marks and Spencer adverts which came out every Christmas.

However, my mum was never keen on the idea. We never celebrated Christmas as she always wanted to hold on to our culture, traditions and religion. And now that I am a mother, I understand that. However, I do want Maryam to enjoy the holiday period. The festive Christmas nursery rhymes, the magical aura of Santa. A winter wonderland full of snow, elves and reindeers.

Living in the middle of a desert means some elements need to be left to the imagination. However, we did celebrate in our own little way by attending a lovely gingerbread decorating session at Sally’s house. Later that week, Maryam helped me wrap a present for a round of Secret Santa at nursery. She had a wonderful party there with lots of cookies, mince pies and learnt some new Christmas nursery rhymes which all the children sang in front of the parents. Besides devouring cookies, her favorite part of the day was sitting in Santa’s lap and receiving her present.

That glow of excitement and amazement in her eyes at the sight of Santa appearing from behind the Christmas tree was priceless. I’m really glad we have found a great balance of being able to celebrate and embrace different holidays, festivals and cultures whilst still holding onto our own identity.

This is the perfect time to share these truffles with you that I made for Mowie’s Christmas Issue. Perfect bite sized treats with a kick of coffee and a crunch from the pecans. I also made some pear tarts with a chocolate crumble, some hazelnuts and coffee. You can get the recipe for the pear tarts here (page 142 onwards).

I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas with their loved ones with plenty of snow, laughter, cookies and presents. And of course plenty of family time.

Click on recipe to print

Cappuccino Truffles:

150 gms white or dark chocolate (I used white)
80 ml double cream
2 tsp coffee powder
30 gms pecans, finely chopped
1 tbs butter, room temperature
Mixture of Dutch processed cocoa powder and coffee powder for rolling

Chop the chocolate finely and place in a bowl. In a pan, bring the cream and coffee powder to a boil and pour over the chopped chocolate. Stir in the chopped pecans and butter. Use a wooden spatula to whisk the mixture until a homogeneous ganache is formed. Cover the bowl with a cling film and leave in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or until the ganache is set.

Remove the mixture from the refrigerator and using a teaspoon or a melon scooper, scoop small balls into the palms of your hand and roll into balls. Place on wax paper and back into the fridge for another 30 minutes.

Sift a mixture of cocoa powder and coffee powder into a bowl. Roll each truffle into the mixture and shake off any excess powder with your hands or in a sieve. Serve the truffles at room temperature or store in an air tight container for up to a few weeks.

Makes approximately 16-20 truffles depending on size.  

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Cinnamon Rolls

Sometimes, all it takes is a packet of woody, fragrant and curled cinnamon sticks to inspire me, brighten my day and warm our home. I bought a bag of these fresh curly spices and whilst unpacking the groceries, I knew I had to incorporate them into our day.

My parents were in town last week to visit a new addition to our family. Nope, not me……my sister. She gave birth to a beautiful baby girl called Fatema just over two weeks ago, hence the lack of blogging. Who knew a wee baby could take up so much time and attention. Maryam is besotted with the new ‘doll’ and we constantly make visits to my sister’s apartment. Good thing she lives in the same building as me.

Besides spending time with my family, I have been busy developing recipes, cooking and shooting for various magazines, both locally and online. I can’t wait to share these with you. Stay tuned in the next few blog posts.

But just because I didn’t get a chance to blog doesn’t mean we haven’t been eating fresh, homemade , wholesome food- my mum’s favorite apple crumble, cinnamon and cardamom spiced shawarmas that my dad requested, green moong bean soup, cumin scented pilaf. There’s just something else about spending time with my Mom in the kitchen- food is more flavorsome with plenty of laughter, stories and tips shared around our dinner table.

And then there were these cinnamon rolls. Pillowy swirls encased with freshly ground woody cinnamon, butter and brown sugar. Oh, and some chocolate chips for good measure. They were perfect with afternoon tea at the park.

October also marks one year since this blog has been running. I do have a special post planned with a giveaway that I’m sure you’ll love. In the mean time, I hope you enjoy these cinnamon rolls. Me and Maryam certainly did.

Cinnamon Rolls

1 cup warm milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup margarine
4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup white sugar
2 1/2 tsp yeast

1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 1/2 tbs cinnamon powder
1/3 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup chocolate chips

3 ounces package cream cheese
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt

In a small bowl, combine the milk, eggs and melted margarine. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, salt, sugar and yeast. Make a well in the centre and add the wet ingredients. Knead the dough till it is soft and pillowy. I found the dough to be too sticky and added a further 1/4 cup flour. Cover the dough with a cloth for an hour or until it has doubled in size.

When double in size, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll into two 16 by 21 inch rectangles. Combine together the brown sugar, butter and cinnamon. Spread this paste over the rectangles and sprinkle with chocolate chips. Roll the dough into a swiss roll and cut into 12 rolls each. Place the rolls into a lightly greased baking tray. Cover with a cloth and let it rise for 30 minutes or until double in size again. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Centigrade in the meantime.

Bake rolls in the oven until golden, approximately 20 minutes. While the rolls are baking, make the cream cheese frosting by beating together the rest of the ingredients. Frost rolls while they are warm.

Recipe mildly adapted from I halved the recipe and this yielded 12 medium rolls.

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Chocolate and Nut Bark

One of my most favorite things to do after dropping Maryam off to the nursery is to while away the time at the bookshop. I usually scoop half a dozen of my favorite food magazines into my arms, trying my best not to draw attention to myself.

I then spend the next few hours snuggled in a cozy corner, browsing each one page by page, cover to cover. As I turn each glossy page, I’m transported to another world, enamored by the beautiful pictures, intrigued by the unusual recipes.

I take it all in and when I leave, my mind is buzzing with new ideas, unfamiliar recipes and the excitement to rush home and try them out. Like this one. I recently read a recipe for a no bake cookie with various nuts and wafers, all amalgamated together with a mixture of condensed milk and melted chocolate. Although I don’t remember the exact magazine nor the exact recipe or ingredients, I knew I wanted to try something similar.

Now, I have a special relationship with nuts so I knew that this bark had to be about the nuts. I love them all- pistachios, almonds, pecans, hazel nuts. Green ones, crunchy ones, toasted ones, sweet ones. There isn’t a nut I don’t love and I like to appreciate them in all their forms. Maryam too.

We don’t generally get very far with cooking with them as she is constantly popping them into her mouth. Then another. And another. And before we know it- ‘Mummy, it’s finished.’ It has ceased to surprise me when I find a stray one in her toy box, behind the sofa, on the carpet or in her doll’s pushchair. Nuts and raisins too.

I decided to make this as a surprise addition to her lunchbox. But they didn’t make it that far. We took them along for the road on our way to Ras al Khaimah last weekend. It’s always been an unsaid tradition to bring a snack for the road on any car journeys for weekends away or picnics.

The recipe is fairly versatile- just use any nuts you have on hand. I added some raisins too as Maryam is a fan. I didn’t really have a plan with this recipe, use whatever you have on hand. Hopefully this week I will manage to edit the rest of the pictures from our trip and share them with you along with a birthday cake.

Come join the fun at the My Baking Addiction and GoodLife Eats Holiday Recipe Swap sponsored by Scharffen Berger.

And just a quick reminder that the worldwide giveaway for the Braun hand held blender ends tomorrow so if you haven’t taken part, you can do so here. Winners of September’s edition of DMBLGiT will also be announced soon. Till then….

Chocolate and Nut Bark

100 gms dark chocolate
150 gms milk chocolate
1 cup mixed nuts (hazel nuts, pistachios, cashew nuts, pecans, almonds, walnuts)
handful of raisins

Line a baking tray with baking paper. Roughly chop the chocolate and melt in a double boiler or in the microwave. Stir to combine and spread the melted chocolate over the baking paper to your desired thickness. Sprinkle the nuts over the melted chocolate (I chopped the slightly larger ones like cashew nuts and walnuts in half before doing so). Put in the fridge to set. Once set, break or cut into pieces. Can be stored in a refrigerator for at least a week, if not more.

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Chocolate Chip Cookies

Today is the first day of a new beginning- leaving old memories behind, a new start, a new path. Will you join me on this new journey?

49 posts ago, I started this blog on a whim. It was late night and me and my best friend started throwing out blog names at each other. The next thing I know I was treading on unknown waters, untravelled paths and unfamiliar destinations.

49 posts ago, I started this blog when Maryam was 18 months old. I was disillusioned with my career and job prospects or lack of. I had always dreamed of being a stay at home mom and I was living that dream. So why the feelings of failure, of frustration, of discontent.

But all that changed 49 posts ago when this blog was born. This blog was initially created to fulfill the void I had of not having a career, a life outside of home, a place where I could use unleash my creativity.

Don’t get me wrong- I’m so grateful I don’t HAVE to work and have a full time job and can spend most of my day with sweet Maryam. But any Mom will relate to the fact that you need an identity of your own, something to mentally stimulate you, something to distinguish you from being a Mom and a housewife.

49 posts, ago, what was borne out of not having a career, has BECOME a new career. Although by trade I’m an optometrist, I seldom woke up in the morning excited to go to work. Through this blog, I have found my true vocation, my true joy. Every morning, I am excited to pick up my camera, cook foods that I haven’t before, capture foods in a way I never thought possible.

49 posts ago, I would never have met you all. I’ll be very honest and say that if it weren’t for all your lovely comments and emails, tweets and facebook messages, the buzz of blogging wouldn’t have been the same. I’m so grateful you read the blog, cook things from it and report back. I truly truly appreciate it and hope you will continue to accompany me on this adventure.

And finally, 49 posts ago I didn’t have the pleasure of knowing a special person. This woman is a force to be reckoned with. She is kind, generous, giving, articulate, an amazing photographer, a good listener, beautiful and…..well, I could go on. Sylvie, you are amazing and I hope you know that. Sylvie has always helped me in some form or another, be it for my photographs, my writing, choosing this wonderful blog name and helping me with design. Thank you so much being my friend and guide. I truly appreciate it.

While I do have a fantastic giveaway to mark the launch of this new name and site (it will run next week), I want today’s post to be about you. Thanks you so much. As a way to thank you, I’m sharing a chewy chocolate chip recipe with- one that has been requested by many of you.

In return I’m going to ask for a small favor. Can you tell me what you’d like to see more of on Sips and Spoonfuls? Also, my facebook page has changed- would you care to like me here?

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tbs vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 cups milk chocolate chip cookies

Preheat the oven to 165 degrees Centigrade. Line a cookie tray with parchment paper. In a bowl, mix together, the flour, salt and baking soda.
Using the paddle attachment of your stand mixer, beat the butter and both white and brown sugars until light and creamy. Add the egg, followed by the yolk and vanilla extract. Beat thoroughly. With the mixer speed on low, add the flour mixture until just combined. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Using an ice cream scoop or a tablespoon, dollop cookie batter onto the parchment paper leaving ample space around each one. Bake in the oven for 17-20 minutes, rotating halfway through. Cool the cookies on the cookie sheet for at least 10 minutes before transferring onto a wire rack.

Makes 27 cookies.

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