Molten Chocolate Lava Cakes

Possibly the most amazing dessert ever...

50g soft unsalted butter
extra butter
150g caster sugar
50g plain flour
4 eggs
1 pinch salt
1 tsp. vanilla
350g luxury dark chocolate

Preheat oven to 200 C (400 F) and grease 6 pudding moulds, then line the bases with baking parchment.

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler (or makeshift pot-scheme as I have done) and then let it cool slightly.

In the meantime, cream together the butter and sugar until you've reached a uniform consistency.  If the mixture looks a bit too sugary and not buttery enough, add a bit more butter - maybe another 15g or so to make it seem a bit less grainy.

Mix the eggs in a bowl with the salt, then gradually combine the egg mixture with the butter mixture.  Add the vanilla and keep mixing until well combined.  Gradually stir in the flour.  The batter will still be quite runny at this stage.  Scrape in the cooled chocolate and give it a good stir - it will turn thicker and more elastic.
Divide the mixture amoung the moulds.
Now you have two options:
1. Place on baking tray and bake for 10 minutes.  Cakes are ready when the tops have puffed up and cracked a bit.
2. Refrigerate until ready to bake.  These cakes only 'work' when they are served fresh from the oven, but they can be stored in your fridge for up to 24 hours prior to baking.  If you refrigerate your cakes prior to baking, make sure your oven is preheated and then bake for approximately 12 minutes (instead of 10).

Turn out and serve hot with ice cream or whipped cream.



I'd never heard of this dessert before moving to the UK.  It's elegant, light and heavenly.  Possibly the best thing I've ever tasted.  Best of all, it's simple to make. Perfect for a summertime treat.

A Pavlova consists of three layers:
Middle: whipped cream
Top: berries of your choice
Chocolate sauce, optional.

Slice and serve.

Chicken Divan

This homestyle casserole is great for using up leftover chicken or turkey.  It's one of my favourite meals to take to families with a new baby.

20 oz. broccoli (1 large head) or green beans
2 cups cooked chicken or turkey, chopped
2/3 cup mayonnaise
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/3 cup evaporated milk (omit if using a European brand of cream of chicken soup)
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
Topping: 1 cup soft bread crumbs mixed with 2 Tbsp melted butter or margarine.

Begin by steaming the broccoli or beans until crisp-tender. Put into the bottom of a greased casserole dish.
Layer chicken/turkey on top.

Combine mayonnaise, soup, lemon juice and curry powder.  Pour over chicken/turkey layer.

Spread mayo mixture evenly atop chicken, then sprinkle with cheese:
To make topping:  Melt butter or margarine in microwave-safe bowl.
Break 2 slices of bread into small cubes and blend in melted butter/margarine.  Spread crumb topping evenly on top of cheese layer.

Bake at 350 F (180 C) for 30 minutes or till heated through.

Easy Freezy Chicken Enchiladas

There are plenty of good recipes when it comes to tucking away meals in your freezer space.  This is one of our family's favourites.  Thaw, bake and serve up on a busy day when you don't have time to cook or have it on hand to share with someone in need. 
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1 three-oz. (250g) container cream cheese (soft cheese)
1 bell pepper, finely chopped
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
shredded carrot or zucchini (courgette) - optional
1 jar enchilada sauce
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated

In large mixing bowl, combine shredded chicken, cream cheese, bell pepper, onion, garlic and carrot/zucchini.  Add half the jar of enchilada sauce and mix well.
Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray.  Spoon chicken mixture into tortilla and roll up placing seam-side down in pan.  Continue with remaining tortillas.  Pour remaining enchilada sauce along tops of wrapped tortillas and top with grated cheese.

Cover and freeze for up to one month.  To cook: Thaw (put in refrigerator 24 hours before baking).  Then Bake at 350 F/ 180 C for 40 minutes or till heated through and cheese is browned and bubbly.  Serve with salsa and sour cream.

Lemon Drizzle Cake

This dainty British Tea Cake has a lovely light, vanilla cake base with a moist lemon-flavour.  Recipe from the BBC Food website. I served this at a baby shower recently...

225g unsalted butter, softened
225g caster sugar
4 eggs
finely grated zest 1 lemon
225g self-raising flour

juice 11⁄2 lemon
85g caster sugar

Heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Beat together the butter and sugar until pale and creamy, then add the eggs, one at a time, slowly mixing through. Sift in the flour, then add the lemon zest and mix until well combined. Line a loaf tin (8 x 21cm) with greaseproof paper, then spoon in the mixture and level the top with a spoon.

Bake for 45-50 mins until a thin skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. While the cake is cooling in its tin, mix together the lemon juice and sugar to make the drizzle. Prick the warm cake all over with a skewer or fork, then pour over the drizzle - the juice will sink in and the sugar will form a lovely, crisp topping. Leave in the tin until completely cool, then remove and serve. Will keep in an airtight container for 3-4 days, or freeze for up to 1 month.


Burnt Sugar - Candy Bar Cake

This was the most popular cake from our annual Cake Fest celebration in 2010.  Our guests enjoyed the rich flavour the caramelized sugar gives to this cake as well as the assortment of tasty chocolate bars.  This cake looks great and tastes even better.

3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup hot water
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup butter, softened
2 egg yolks
2 tsp. vanilla
2 egg whites

Grease and lightly flour three 8x 1.5-inch round baking pans.  In a large skillet cook the 3/4 cup granulated sugar over medium-high heat until the sugar just begins to melt (do not stir).
Reduce heat; cook until sugar is golden brown, about 1 to 3 minutes more, stirring constantly.

Carefully stir in hot water (syrup will form lumps).  Bring mixture to boiling; reduce heat.  Continue stirring until mixture is free of lumps. 
Remove from heat.  Pour syrup into a large glass measuring cup.  Add additional water to equal 1 3/4 cups liquid.  Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl stir together flour, baking powder, and baking soda. 
In another large bowl, beat together the 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, the 2/3 cup butter, egg yolks, and vanilla with an electric mixer on medium speed about 1 minute or until mixture is smooth. 
Alternately, add flour mixture and sugar syrup to egg yolk mixture, beating on low speed after each addition just until combined.

Wash and dry beaters thoroughly. In a medium mixing bowl beat egg whites until stiff peaks form (tips stand straight). Gently fold whites into batter.

Divide batter into prepared pans; spread evenly.  Bake in a 350 F oven (180 C) for 25 to 30 minutes or until wooden toothpicks inserted near centres come out clean. 
Cool in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Remove cakes from pans. Transfer to wire racks; cool completely.

Prepare Browned Butter Frosting:
In a small saucepan heat and stir 1/2 cup butter (no substitutes) over low heat until melted.  Continue heating until butter turns a nut-brown color.  Remove from heat; cool for 5 minutes.  In a large bowl beat together two 3-ounce packages of softened cream cheese with 3 Tbsp butter until combined.  Beat in about 2 cups sifted icing sugar.  Beat in the browned butter and 1 tsp vanilla.  Gradually beat in an additional 4 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar and 2-3 tsp. milk until the frosting is of spreading consistency.
To assemble the cake:
Spread 1/2 cup browned butter frosting over bottoms of 2 of the cake layers.  Sprinkle each layer with half of hte finely chopped candy bars (I used Twix, Snickers, and Kit Kat this time 'round).
Place the third (unfrosted) layer on top, rounded side up.  Spread remaining frosting on top and sides of cake.  If desired, garnish with coarsely chopped candy bar pieces.

Mango Buttercream Cake

1 24-ounce jar mango slices in light syrup
1 cup sugar
6 beaten egg yolks
3 Tbsp orange liqueur or apricot brandy (I used the light syrup from the mango slices)
2 cups (1 pound) unsalted butter, softened
2  9- or 10-inch layers white cake, cooled
36-50 cream-filled cylinder cookies (depending on size of cake)
mango slices for garnish (optional)

For mango buttercream, drain the mango slices, reserving a few slices for garnish.  Place in a blender, cover and process until smooth.  (You should have 1 1/2 cups puree). 

In a heavy saucepan, gently simmer mango puree over medium-low heat until it is reduced to 1 cup, about 25 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent scorching.  Stir the sugar into mango puree in saucepan. Cook and stir over medium heat until bubbly. Remove from heat.

Gradually stir about 1 cup of the hot mixture into the beaten egg yolks.

Return the egg yolk mixture to the saucepan.  Bring to a gentle boil; reduce heat.  Cook and stir for 2 minutes more.  Remove from heat.

Quickly cool the mixture by placing the saucepan into a bowl of ice water.  Stir in the liqueur/syrup.  Stir for 2 minutes.  Cover; chill for 1 hour.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy.  Pour cooled mango mixture into beaten butter.  Beat until fluffy. 

Using a long, swerrated knife, split each cake layer in half horizontally.  Place 1 cake layer on a plate. Frost with about 1/3 cup of the buttercream.

Repeat with 2 more cake layers and 2/3 cup more of the buttercream.  Top with the last cake layer.  Spread remaining buttercream on top and sides of cake layers.

Lightly press cookies into buttercream, around sides of cake, cookie ends even with the bottom of cake and cookie tops extending sightly beyond height of cake.   Chill cake or serve immediately.  before serving, arrange mango slices in center of cake and garnish as desired.