Monday, March 30, 2015

Homemade 3 Musketeers Candy Bars

I absolutely love 3 Musketeers. They are pretty similar to Milky way bars, and I couldn't decide which one's better. I've always been afraid of making candy at home because you need a candy thermometer, and if candy thermometer is involved, it means that you need to watch time and temperature. I don't like rush and tension when I bake. I like making breaks, walking from one room to another, and not worrying about time. But gosh, I've been too curious to find out weather homemade candy bar can be as good as the original one. And I found it out - yes! It tastes exactly like Milky way or 3 Musketeers. The only thing that wasn't perfect, was the texture. I wish it was firmer. But I never succeed completely when it comes to adding hot syrup to the egg whites. I should get a kitchen aid which would make the process easier (yes, I only have a simple hand mixer). But despite the texture, these were awesome. I kept those in the freezer and this way their texture was just perfect. One little warning: after making these bars, my kitchen looked like a sticky mess. There is a little effort involved, but, you have my word - it's worth it.

Homemade 3 Musketeers Candy Bars

Base and Topping:
120g milk chocolate, chopped
28g (2 tbsp) butter

120ml (1/2 cup) water
164g (4 fl. oz./1/2 cup) light corn syrup
400g (2 cups) white sugar
1/4 tsp slt
2 egg whites, room temperature
100g (3.5 oz) bittersweet chocolate (I used 50%), grated*

*You can use chopped chocolate, but grated chocolate melts quicker and here you need it to melt quickly. Trust me.

1) First, in a small saucepan, melt together half of the milk chocolate and half of the butter for the base. Simply melt the butter and add chocolate. Cover and let sit for 2 minutes. Once the chocolate melts, stir and pour it in a 20 x 20 cm / 8 x 8 inch dish lined with parchment paper. Place in a refrigerator.

2) In a large pot, combine together water, corn syrup and sugar. Cover the lid and bring to boil. Cook for about 8-9 minutes over medium heat. While it cooks, follow the step number 2.

3) In a clean bowl, add egg whites and salt. Beat on high speed until stiff. Once the whites start holding their shape, stop beating. You don' want to overbeat it. Set aside. 

4) After 8-9 minutes the syrup should be reduced and have a nice golden color. Uncover the lid and attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pot. Once it reaches 260 F / 127 C, turn off the heat and slowly start pouring the syrup into the egg whites, with the mixer running on low speed. Continue beating until all the syrup is incorporated and the mixture has cooled. It will take around 10 minutes. I had a problem here: the sugar syrup became so stiff that I couldn't use it all. It probably cooled too quickly and stuck to the bottom of a pot. If this happens to you - don't worry. Just leave the syrup, you will still get those candies! The problem is that I do not have a kitchen aid and used a hand mixer. Holding a pot in my left hand and trying to pour the syrup gradually, and beating the whites with my right hand was really difficult. So if you have a kitchen aid, you're lucky.

5) Add your chocolate to the mixture and continue beating until incorporated. Pour the mixture onto the chocolate base. Place in the fridge.

6) For the topping, melt the remaining butter and chocolate and pour onto the cooled candy. Refrigerate for at least an hour, preferably overnight. I find it best to keep those in the freezer. It's much easier to cut them into squares when they are frozen because after sitting in the fridge they were still sticky. However, you might get them firmer as it depends on many factors like how slowly you add the syrup to the whites, what is the temperature at the beginning/end of the beating process, etc. 

Recipe adapted from here.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Cauliflower Crust Pizza

When I first tried making a cauliflower crust pizza, it was a disaster. The crust didn't hold together and didn't even look like a crust. Well, it wasn't that bad because it was still delicious, but it looked more like a cauliflower stew, not a pizza. So after a break, I decided to give it another try (I knew what I did wrong the first time but I was really lazy to make it again). And luckily, it turned out just like I was expecting. The secret? Squeezing as much water out of the cauliflower as possible. Trust me, you will have to do your best here! Otherwise you will end up with a cauliflower stew or salad or whatever but not pizza. Most of you might be wondering if the crust tastes like cauliflower. Well, it would not be truth if I said no. Of course, it's not the same as a normal crust but you can't really taste cauliflower a lot. There are so many ingredients in this pizza and all the flavors don't let the cauliflower stand out. And I love that now I can eat the whole pizza and not worry about the calories. So please follow the directions below and enjoy this guilt-free pizza!

Cauliflower Crust Pizza 

1 large head of cauliflower (1kg)
1 large egg,lightly beaten
50g cheese, grated
1/2 tsp salt

2 tbsp oil
100g (1 medium) onion, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
180g mushrooms, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp italian herb mix
1 tbsp garlic powder
200g ketchup
100-200g cheese, grated

1) Preheat oven to 200C / 400F. Line two baking trays with parchment paper and set aside.

2) First, cut the cauliflower into small florets. Place in the food processor and process until it looks like rice (I like even smaller bits).

2) Bring a pot of water to boil and add the riced cauliflower. Cook around 4 minutes and drain into a strainer. Once drained and cooled, transfer to a clean kitchen towel. Wrap the cauliflower up into the towel, twist up the ends and squeeze the water out. It must be absolutely dry. 

3) Transfer the cauliflower to a large bowl and beat in the egg, add cheese and salt. Mix everything. Divide the mixture into two parts and press each of them onto the baking sheet. (It will not hold together now so you just have to press it down very well. It will stick together after baking).

4) Bake for 20-30 minutes or until it looks dry and the edges are slightly browned.

5) Remove from the oven and top with your favorite toppings. If you like what I did, follow the directions below.

6) In a saucepan, heat oil. Add onion, garlic and saute until soft and browned. Add mushrooms and a pinch of salt. Cover the lid and cook until the mushrooms release their liquid. Uncover and cook until all the liquid evaporates. Remove from heat and set aside.

7) Top the pizza with ketchup, herb mix, garlic powder, cheese and sauteed mushroom/onion/garlic mixture.

8) Return to the oven and bake for additional 5-10 minutes. Serve immediately.

Makes 2 pizzas

Recipe by collecting memories

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Chocolate Peanut Butter Oat Bars (No-Bake, Healthy)

Here's another recipe for those healthy, nutrient-packed oat bars which are irreplaceable to me. I always need to have some oat bars in my fridge for breakfast or late night snacking, but I usually end up eating these all day long. 
These are very easy and quick to whip up, you will only have to wait until they firm up in the fridge. These become very soft at room temperature because coconut oil starts melting so you will have to keep them in the fridge. 
These have a mild chocolate flavor - they taste more like milk chocolate bars (and I loved it), but if you prefer dark chocolate flavor, feel free to increase the chocolate to 200 grams. 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Oat Bars (No-Bake, Healthy)

180g (2 cups) quick-cooking oats
75g (1 cup) unsweetened coconut flakes
1 tbsp ground flax seeds
250g (1 cup) salted peanut butter
100g dark (50%) chocolate
100g (1/2 cup) unrefined coconut oil
170g (1/2 cup) honey

1) Line a loaf pan with parchment paper or prepare a silicone loaf pan. 

2) In a large bowl, mix together oats, coconut flakes, and flax seed meal.

3) In a small saucepan, combine together coconut oil, honey and peanut butter. Cook just until melted. Remove from heat. Add chopped chocolate, cover and let sit for 2 minutes until the chocolate is melted. Stir until smooth.

4) Add the wet ingredients into the dry ones and stir to combine. Place in the fridge for at least 3-4 hours or until firm. Store in the fridge.

Recipe by collecting memories

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Green Olive Hummus

I love hummus as it makes for a perfect snack and is super easy to whip up. Traditional hummus with garlic and lemon is a classic and I absolutely love it, but there are so many possible variations it would be shameful not to try them. If you're a fan of olives, then this version is a must make. It's like hummus and olive Tapenade in one dip. You are going to love this!

Green Olive Hummus 

250g cooked chickpeas
2 tbsp water
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp Tahini paste*
2-3 cloves garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
70g green olives
Salt, to taste
Smoked paprika/cumin/olive oil, for topping (optional)

*To make Tahini paste at home, roast a small handful of sesame seeds in a skillet stirring constantly until lightly browned. Don't brown them too much or they will become bitter. Remove from heat and add to your food processor. Process until smooth and creamy, adding a splash of olive oil, if needed.

1) Add all the ingredients into your food processor and process until smooth. Scrape down the sides. You may want to add more lemon juice/water to achieve the desired consistency.

2) Serve on a slice of your favorite bread. Store in refrigerator for up to one week.

Recipe by collecting memories

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Soft Peanut Butter Cookies

I could never say no to peanut butter. And that has become a problem because once I make something with peanut butter, it tends to disappear too quickly. So I've found a solution. Making a small batch! Which is what I did with these cookies. I baked 8 cookies and left the dough safely in the freezer (but of course there's a drawback - I can't stop thinking about peanut butter dough which is in the freezer). That sounds like a serious obsession!
Ok, enough about my food obsessions. Now about these cookies. They're very crumbly and delicate with crunchy, buttery edges. Corn syrup, brown sugar and an extra egg yolk make these cookies super soft and moist in the middle. But that depends also on a baking time. DO NOT overbake these cookies. You have to remove them from the oven when they still look underbaked and way too soft when you try to press them. Trust me, they will firm up once they cool. Also, do not touch them immediately after taking out of the oven because they will fall apart. Let them rest on a baking tray for 5-10 minutes before transferring to a plate. To serve, dust with some powdered sugar and enjoy with your tea!

Soft Peanut Butter Cookies 

56g (1/2 stick / 4 tsbp) butter, softened
250g (1 cup) homemade peanut butter
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp corn syrup
200g (1 cup) light brown sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
125g (1 cup) flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cornstarch

1) In a large bowl, beat butter, peanut butter, salt, corn syrup and brown sugar until light and very fluffy. Add egg, egg yolk and continue beating until smooth.

2) In another bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder and cornstarch. Stir the dry ingredients to the wet ones and mix just until incorporated.

3) Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180C / 350F. Line 2 baking trays with parchment paper. Form balls and flatten a little. These cookies will not spread.

3) Bake for 9-11 minutes. Do not overbake - if they look underbaked in the middle it's ok - they firm up while cooling. Remove from the oven and let sit on a counter for at least 10 minutes before removing from the baking tray. Dust with some powdered sugar.

Makes 28 cookies

Recipe by collecting memories

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Date Caramel, Cashew Butter and Cocoa Fudge Bars (No-Bake)

You might not believe because I tell that all the time, but these might be the best healthy bars I've made in a long long time. I'm not a raw food expert and I don't know lots of things about it but I do know that it's very easy to experiment with this kind of foods. If it's not sweet enough, add more honey, if too dry - add coconut oil, if too runny - add some ground oats, nuts, seeds etc. Which means, no bake - no fail. And since I've bought a new food processor (which is not very fancy or something but it makes nut butter pretty well) I feel inspired to experiment more with foods which require no baking. And I must admit, I feel kind of inspired by other bloggers because I'm pretty sure you've noticed how crazy everyone is about vegan, raw, gluten-free foods. As I've said before, I don't have enough knowledge about it. But I've said too much already, all I should say is that these bars were AWESOME. Just perfect. They weren't too sweet, and their consistency was amazing. The chocolate and the cashew butter layers are chewy like a fudge and the caramel layer is a little bit softer. You could add less water to make it firmer but I love it just the way it is. I haven't tried storing them at room temperature because they had a perfect texture when kept in the fridge. And honestly, I didn't really have a chance to store them. You see, I ate them within two days. They were THAT good.

Date Caramel, Cashew Butter and Cocoa Fudge Bars (No-Bake)

30g (1/4 cup) unsweetened dark cocoa powder
20g (2 tbsp) ground flax seeds
85g (1/4 cup) honey
50g (1/4 cup) unrefined coconut oil

Middle layer:
125g (1/2 cup) cashews
30g (2 tbsp) unrefined coconut oil, melted
40g (2 tbsp) honey, melted
1/4 tsp salt

Top layer:
175g (1 cup) dates
2-4 tbsp boiling water
1/4 tsp salt 

1) Line the bottom and the sides of a standard loaf pan with parchment paper or prepare a silicone loaf pan.

2) In a small saucepan, combine together all the ingredients for the base and heat until the coconut oil and the honey is melted. Stir until smooth and spread evenly into the loaf pan. Refrigerate while you prepare other layers.

3) Make the cashew butter layer: Place cashews into your food processor and process until smooth and very creamy. It will take around 10 minutes. It takes more time and patience than peanut butter. But don't worry if the mixture doesn't look like getting smooth - it will look grainy like a curd but eventually it will turn into butter. Trust me. Just don't stop processing. Make sure you make a few short breaks to let your food processor rest.

4) When the cashew butter is ready, mix it with melted honey and coconut oil and salt. Stir until very well combined and spread onto the chocolate layer (first make sure that the first layer has set). Return to the fridge.

5) To make the caramel layer, add dates, salt and 2 tablespoons of water into your food processor. Process until smooth. You may need to add more water if the batter looks sticky and hard. I needed 3 tablespoons of water.

6) Spread the caramel layer onto the cashew butter layer and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before cutting into squares.

Store in the fridge.

Recipe by collecting memories

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