Monday, August 26, 2013

Tripple choc-chip cookies, a Bar-One ice-cream cake and a lot of excuses

Life is back to a pace that allows for blogging and the occasional bit of pottering.  The last few months left very little time for either and in fact very little time for anything it seemed.  

Our new kitchen got finished and so did the office and classroom and for a while we just enjoyed it all.  Our little family has now found a new rhythm in our bigger space and the little school for two is doing well too. 

This past month was time for the big Winter holiday in South Africa and our house had been bustling with people throughout.  My sister and her kids came from Canada for a month and we had the best time.  The little ones spent countless hours exploring the garden, collecting rocks and climbing trees.  They must have circled the property a million times on their bikes and worked up a huge appetite looking for the kittens and building sand castles.  We took turns cooking for all the hungry little tummies (and some days we had many, as more friends came to play) and both shared the kitchen. We toasted marshmallows on the fire and went foraging for Pecan nuts or peas in the garden.  They ate oranges and dried mangoes and drank liters of my Mum's home-made lemonade.  My heart aches now, just thinking about the happy times.

Our friends from Cape-Town and Namibia also visited, which called for more cake and big camp fires and potjies full of deliciousness.  And more tears when it was time to say goodbye.

The holiday was simpy magical, but more so because the days had been beautiful and warm.  Almost impossibly so.  The sky seemed an iridescent blue with none of the fires, wind and horrible, bone chilling cold. 
All this beautiful weather had us all gardening up a storm over the last few weeks.  We have expanded beds and created paths, moved mountains of compost and huge logs and ever so slowly got rid of the last of the cement.  

Unfortunately my telephone cable were the target of a copper cable thief in July, which meant a whole month without any internet here on the farm.  Our telephone company then installed a thief-proof cable, but alas, the new technology and the old farm lines did not want to communicate so well, which meant more interruptions in service and alas, many blog ideas left unpublished.  It had been a year of excuses for my lack of posts - no internet, no camera, no computer, no time.  But here is to a more creative, crime-free future.  

The lack of internet meant we did have a lot of warm evenings in front of the fire-place, reading books or watching sports.  And the fire-wood came from a friend who traded me a load for some of these cookies.  

And the cake was an impromptu cake for a birthday party dinner that we were invited to.  I had all the ingredients and then experimented with the combinations.  There are very few rules when making an ice-cream cake.  It is sort of a marvelous concoction really.  Try it, you won't regret it.

Triple Chocolate Cookies

230g butter
200g dark chocolate, chopped
240g caster sugar
280g soft brown sugar 
40g dark brown sugar
4 eggs, beaten
4 tsp vanilla 
500g plain flour
60g cacao powder
1tsp baking powder
1 cup chocolate chips

Heat the oven to 180°C.
Melt butter and chocolate in a sauce pan over a low heat.  Take care not to over-heat the chocolate.  Remove from the stove when almost melted and whisk lightly until smooth. Let cool slightly. 
Stir in the sugars and eggs.  Sift the flour and cacao and fold into the butter mixture.  Spoon onto a lined baking tray and bake for 8-10 minutes.  The cookies will be soft in the center when done.  Leave on the tray until set and let cool completely on a cooling rack.  Store in an airtight container.

Bar-One Ice-Cream cake

5 liter vanilla ice-cream  
4 tablespoons of cacao powder
6 small Bar-One bars
2 tablespoons of Macadamia nuts

1 cup of cookie crumbs (these chocolate ones mixed with Tennis biscuits worked well)
½ cup butter, melted
¼ cup sugar

 ½ cup cream

Process the cookies, sugar and melted butter in a food processor.  Line the base and sides of a spring form tin and freeze for an hour.  Bake at 180ºC for a few 8 minutes, let cool and then freeze again.  (To be honest, I am sure you can skip the whole baking process and just used at the base of the pan).  
Process half the ice-cream in a processor with the cacao powder.  Slice some of the chocolate bars into the mixture.  Spread evenly onto the base and freeze for about an hour until set.  Process the rest of the ice-cream in the processor for about a minute and slice in another chocolate bar.  Spread on top of the chocolate layer and freeze again.  

To make the sauce, melt 3 chocolate bars and cream over a low heat in a sauce pan, stirring continuously until melted.  Let cool completely and pour over the frozen cake.  Process some of the left-over crumb mixture with the nuts and sprinkle around the sides of the cake.  Remove from the pan a few minutes before serving.

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