Ricotta Mushroom and Spinach Parcels

Whoa that is one name and a half! These snacks are hearty and healthy and they taste amazing! A bit on the rich side but not too heavy, just the right bit to fill you up and satisfy a craving for something crispy and hot! I made the size a tad bit too big, you can choose to shape them any way you want. But this, of course, was a bit rustic and easy. heehee!

I also used salt and pepper to taste. I love garlic so I used fresh garlic in with the mushroom as well. I think mushroom, spinach and ricotta is the best combination with flaky puff pastry! You don’t need meat at all! You can substitute cottage cheese with ricotta if you can’t find it. No worries! This is crazy easy to make and you can whip this

Ingredients:

  • 60 g baby Spinach (this is a big handful)
  • 100 g mushrooms (I used fresh, not tinned)
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 small onion finely diced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 1/2 sheets of ready made puff pastry
  • 1 beaten egg

Blanch the baby spinach in rapidly boiling water and take it out. Allow to cool, set aside.

Saute the diced onion and crushed garlic in butter in a small pan, add the mushrooms and cook for about 2 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Allow this to cool as well.

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Add the spinach and mushroom onion mixture to a chopper and roughly chop it all up. I used a handy dandy hand chopper that I can’t live without. You can go ahead use a food processor and what not. Mix in the ricotta to make a chunky paste. This is the filling for our parcels!

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I divided one pastry sheet into four and shaped it into parcels. I also roughly used one heaping tablespoon of filling per parcel. These expand while baking and you can see how they turned out vs. how I shaped them.

 

 

 

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Pre-heat the oven to 200 C and prep a baking tray with baking paper. Position your parcels at least 2 cm away from each other so they don’t crash and burn. Brush the tops generously with the beaten egg and in they go! Lower the heat to 190 and bake for around 15 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before serving.

Beautiful!

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Saucy Plum Noodles

The flavor of Plum goes surprisingly well with noodles, and well, anything asian-inspired to be honest! This was an experiment that turned out ah-mazing! The sauce that is cooked first, lends an amazing flavor to both the chicken and the noodles. A healthy and balanced recipe perfect for this month!

These noodles are tangy and sweet and have that perfect plum-kick to them! If you want to substitute egg noodles, you can do so with spaghetti. But I’m told Pioneer in Lahore stocks the perfect home-made egg noodles so I’m sure you can find them, they’ll be worth the extra effort!

Ingredients:

For the sauce:

  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 2 tbsp plum sauce
  • 1 tbsp plum jam
  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tbsp hot sauce
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1/4 cup dark soy sauce

Extra:

  • 1/2 kg chicken cut into strips
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp extra soy sauce
  • 3 tsp sugar
  • 1 egg, whisked about
  • 1 packet fresh Hokkien noodles – two sachets
  • 1 capsicum, sliced thinly
  • 1 carrot, sliced thinly
  • 1 or 2 cups of sweet corn (I love corn so I added 1 and a 1/2)

Marinate the chicken in pepper, salt and 1 tbsp soy sauce.

Heat up a fry pan and add oil, add garlic and chilli flakes and fry until fragrant. Add all the sauce ingredients and cook until well combined. In a separate wok or pan, cook the chicken till tender.

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After the chicken has cooked, add the whisked egg in the pan with the chicken and turn the heat up, cooking the egg with the chicken should crumble it. Take the chicken out and in the same pan, stir fry up the vegetables for a minute or two.

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Okay now you should have three separate things, the chicken fried with the egg, the sauce and the vegetables, time to mix it all up! Add the noodles first to the sauce so they drink that glorious mix up!

Combine all the three elements and mix well over heat until well combined and heated through.

AAAAND. SERVE!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Make sure that you heat the final ingredients just before you serve because we don’t want to dry up the sauce! Healthy and delicious!

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Burrito Bake

Okay so I recently tried my first burrito and I was kind of disappointed. Maybe it didn’t have that much meat in it or maybe the beans weren’t that flavorful or maybe it was just the wrong place. But I wanted to make a bake with the same ingredients. Healthy but cheesy! 😉

This is kind of perfect for Ramzan because you do want to have something healthy for Iftar but also want to feel full and have a bit of an indulgence. Its your typical burrito ingredients piled into a bake! You won’t believe how easy this is! To make it more heavy, you can choose to fry the pita in a bit of butter before layering it. I didn’t because every once a year I like to pretend I can eat healthy. eheheh.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 kg chicken cut into small cubes
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 2 cups shredded lettuce
  • 1 tomato cubed
  • 1/2 a can of sweet corn
  • 1 can of mixed beans
  • Around 12 sliced jalapenos
  • 1/4 cup olives, sliced
  • 8 pita breads, quartered
  • 4 tbsp ketchup
  • 4 tbsp barbeque sauce
  • 2 cups grated tasty cheese
  • 1/2 tsp mixed italian herbs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Butter for greasing

FOODGOOD 025_FotorStart by greasing a big oven-proof dish with butter and layer half your quartered pita breads on the bottom. Heat this in the oven till the pita is crisp.

In a frying pan, heat the oil and fry the chicken with garlic and salt until done.

 

 

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Smatter the mix of mixed beans, corn, olives and tomatoes onto the pita.Cover with the cubed, cooked chicken and jalapenos. Season with salt and pepper. Layer with pita again.

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FOODGOOD 028_FotorBrush the pita with a bit more butter and splat around the ketchup and barbeque sauce. Be liberal with it. Use more if you want to.

 

 

 

 

End with sprinkling the grated cheese and herbs. I wouldn’t call this sprinkling tbh.

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Grill in the oven until the cheese is happily evenly browned, almost crisped.

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Just before serving, dollop sour cream oven the baked cheese and top with shredded lettuce. Not only will this give you the illusion of eating salad, but will stop the dish from getting cold unnecessarily beforehand.

I just used a hell lot of adjectives today. Enjoy! 😀

I promise this is healthy!

Crunchy Lettuce Boats

 I needed a quick recipe to entertain and my sister texted me a recipe for lettuce wraps and insisted I make these. As per usual I took one look at the recipe and decided I’ll make something easier. But at the supermarket the ingredients for these cups literally called me from the shelves. I spotted the hoisin sauce in plain view, just mocking me. And a huge bunch of the freshest green lettuce at the entrance looking very hopeful and the noodles that my sister told me to use fell out from a shelf straight into my trolley. It was a sign.

These crunchy lettuce boats pack the perfect crunch, they’re fresh and packed with flavor and guilt-free. Its like a super oriental salad that feels like a meal! I didn’t really follow the recipe my sister gave me and ended up making my own version but you can’t substitute the hoisin sauce. Its what gives these boats the real flavor.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 kg chicken cubed into teeny tiny pieces
  • 1 tsp chopped garlic
  • 1 tbsp oil or more
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 4 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 grated carrot
  • 1/2 capsicum chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped peanuts, fried
  • 1 packet steam fried noodles (If you can’t find these, use maggi noodles blanched in water and then fried)
  • 2 bunches baby lettuce or 1 flower of iceberg lettuce, leaves separated and washed

I used these. They look already cooked and pretty straight for noodles.

So the first thing you need to do is heat up your oil in a large-ish pan and add the chopped garlic and chicken. Fry this mixture until the chicken is well cooked. Add oyster sauce and chilli flakes and push this around in the pan for a bit. Just to boss it around or so.

 

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Add the chopped capsicum, grated carrot, brown sugar and hoisin sauce. Cook until well heated through and combined. We don’t want to mush up the carrot and the capsicum so don’t overdo it.

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Take this mix off the pan and reserve for later. Add the noodles and fry them up in the same pan, you may need to add more oil.

Put them aside too. but don’t mix with the chicken.

Similarly, fry your peanuts and set aside. Don’t mix it in. Peanuts should be the last thing to fry – some people have nut allergies so you want to keep it separately if you’re having guests over so that they can mix it up later if they so desire.

Now just prep your lettuce onto some serving plates and trim off where needed, roughly the lettuce should be the same size so that no one gets upset. Because this is insanely delicious. I used baby lettuce because I like the taste of it over iceberg. Its more crunchier and more ‘alive’ looking. I don’t know what I mean by that but these pictures can show.

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Oh I meant more green and wrinkled and beautiful I guess! ALIVE!

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yummm! These were wiped out in minutes! great to try for iftaris since it tastes like a fresh bunch of yum without being heavy.

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GLORIOUS.

 

Crunchy Fish Fingers

winter is upon us! and winters mean lots of fried food and warm comforters and late night tv! i’m personally a huge fan of fried fish so this recipe perfectly fits in with my current mood. i made a huge platter of these for my daughter’s second birthday and had everyone raving. the fish was bought pre-cut and i used sole for this, you can use pangasius (not sure about the spellings) but that’s usually very tasteless so i don’t recommend.

You can make this at ahead and keep this, it freezes very well. Again, be sure to use fresh breadcrumbs otherwise the crunch on this is lost, make sure the oil for frying is hot but not too hot as to burn the crust – this will prevent soggy fish and result in that delectable golden crust that we see in food magazines. Don’t fry a large batch, keep it small and keep it warm in a hot oven till serving time. Remember, this is best served with a big batch of fresh hot potato chippies!

For the marination:

  • 1 kg Boneless fish fingers (I used sole) cleaned and washed
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp garlic paste
  • 1 tbsp white pepper powder
  • 1 tsp mustard paste
  • 4 tbsp vinegar

For coating:

  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 3 cups fresh breadcrumbs
  • 2 cups flour seasoned with 1/2 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper
  • Oil/ghee for frying

Method:

Amu's 2nd 003_FotorMarinate the fish fingers with all the ingredients from the marinade and coat well, leave these in a pretty little bowl for half an hour.

 

 

 

Amu's 2nd 001_FotorRoll the fish fingers in seasoned flour making sure that a thick layer of flour stays on, repeat with egg and then breadcrumbs. damn, they make you work it.

 

If you’re planning on gorging on these beauties right after you make them, refrigerate for 10-15 minutes before frying. If you’re planning on freezing them for some alone time later, then they can go straight in the freezer.

Heat oil in a deep frying wok and fry the fingers in batches until golden. Serve immediately!

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OH. this is the kind of bed everyone wants to lay on.

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Dahi Phulki Chaat

Dahi phulki or dahi boondi is a popular street food in this part of the world. a lot of people don’t want to attempt making this at home because they feel its a lot of trouble or that they won’t be able to achieve a soft boondi. BUT THAT’S WHERE I SWOOP IN TO SAVE THE DAY, OR RATHER, MY MOTHER – BECAUSE ITS HER RECIPE AND SHE MIGHT HAVE COPYRIGHT ISSUES, YOU NEVER KNOW!

The phulki is basically a soft fluffy fried cloud that is made to soak a mixture of spiced yoghurt and is accompanied with boiled diced potatoes and fresh onion and tomato, served with lashings of chaat masala and imli chutney and crunchy bits of papri, this is really the perfect chaat. Gloriously fresh and tangy and spicy and sweet, I’m craving a big bowl of it even now! Make this recipe and you won’t be disappointed, I’ve learnt the technique from my mom so you might not get it right the first time – but the pictures will make it very easy to follow I hope!

Ingredients for the Phulki:

  • 8 oz gram flour (besan)
  • 1/4 tsp cumin (zeera)
  • 1/2 tsp flaked red chilli
  • 1 pinch carom seeds (ajwain)
  • less than 1/4 tsp bicarbonate soda (meetha soda)
  • Oil for frying
  • Large bowl of water mixed with 1/4 cup milk

Other ingredients:

  • 4 cups Unsweetened yoghurt whisked with 1/2 tsp salt and 1 tsp of crushed roasted cumin
  • 1 potato, cubed and boiled
  • 1/2 onion thinly sliced
  • 1/2 tomato thinly sliced
  • Crushed Papri (available at most markets)
  • Imli chutney
  • chaat masala (as required)

Mix all the dry phulki ingredients, be sure to use a measuring jug, this will make frying easier as well!

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food 006_FotorMix in lukewarm water until the batter is of a fluid consistency like so.

Heat up around 1 1/2 inch oil in a shallow frying pan until hot enough for frying.

Add spoonfuls of batter in the pan, your phulki should swell up and assume the cloud shape:

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After frying, dunk the phulki into a weak mix of milk and water in a large bowl and quickly take them out. They should be soft and spongy to the touch. Set these aside in the fridge to chill.

Roast the cumin and add this to the whisked yoghurt, add the salt as well. I find that I have to thin out the yoghurt with milk and water to my desired consistency, so if you’re using thick store-bought yoghurt, I’d suggest thinning it out.

food 012_FotorArrange the chilled phulki and cubed potatoes in a serving dish and top off with yoghurt.

Let the phulki absorb all of that goodness and chuck it in the fridge to chill for at least half an hour.

Garnish with tomatoes and onions aplenty and make sure you have a crazy amount of chaat masala to go with! I like to serve it simple and put the condiments (imli chutney, papri and chaat masala) on the side so that the family can go ahead make their own bowls.

You are beautiful, hope you know that.

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Phulki had me like:

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Want. this. right. NOW.

Skinny Cheese Sandwiches

Wait, what? Skinny and cheese in the same title? it’s true folks, the big fat is on a mission to eat healthy and since that involves whipping up dinner and lunch every day, i’ve been a tad busy, unable to document anything. But the great part is, i have delicious healthy, almost fat free recipes to share which don’t compromise on the taste!

I guarantee you that this sandwich is going to give you happy dreams, so you can kiss your grease ridden nightmares goodbye and give your tummy a reason to love you back. This is very filling, and I’ve used low-fat cottage cheese in two ways, one as meat and the other, as well – cheese.

All aboard the low-fat train? CHOO CHOO!

Ingredients:

  • Multi-grain bread, sliced
  • 1 cup cottage cheese, sliced
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 1 cucumber, sliced into rounds
  • 1 small tomato, sliced
  • Sprinkle of Paprika
  • Sprinkle of salt
  • Mayonnaise (optional – I only used a little smidgen)
  • 1 tsp BBQ sauce
  • Olive oil (as needed)
  • Soy sauce (as needed)
  • Honey mustard (as needed)

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Prepare your veggies and set aside. They should be sliced up and ready to be used for the sandwich, otherwise you’ll probably cut a finger off in between prep. Divide the cheese into two portions, we will imagine one portion as the meat substitute in the sandwich.

food 003Fry half of the sliced cottage cheese in a pan over a slight drizzle of olive oil and season with paprika and salt. Keep going till your sliced have a golden crunchy crust. This will be the winning layer, I kid you not.

 

 

food 006Saute the onions in the same pan, without adding more oil, you can add a bit of soy sauce to achieve a slight caramelization but the purpose is to have glistening pink sweet onion in the end. Set these two on a plate. Looks gorgeous already, doesn’t it?

 

Toast the bread and start with a little smidge of mayonnaise. I would have skipped this altogether, but you can use some to hold the sandwich together. Wish we could use mayonnaise on humans to hold them together too. eheheheh :3

Layer with fresh cheese, then cucumbers, then tomato. Add the onion and lastly, the grilled and seasoned cottage cheese.

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Finish it off by spreading BBQ sauce on the other toast and a slight spatter of honey-mustard. The sandwich now should come forth and get ready to be devoured.

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YUMM.

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Chicken Corn Soup

These days, the weather in Lahore is stifling when the sun is shining. Humidity is so thick it can be cut with a knife, but the evenings have turned pleasant and the breeze makes you feel like taking long walks and having soup. My allergies keep kicking in and I crave a hot bowl which banish the blues away. This is obviously the best soup because well – chicken and corn.

This makes a huge pot. Which you can slurp down yourself (but I don’t want to kill you so) or it can feed 7 hungry soup starved people! I made the stock at home by boiling down almost a 1 1/2 liter of water with 1/2 kg bones with meat to a liter of water. Seal the meat by sauteing it with a large sliced onion in the pan before adding the water – this will make a nice flavorful broth which won’t need as many ingredients.

I’m sorry for not having the step-by step pictures but only the end result. I was busy cooking something else on the side so my apologies. I  promise this comes out delicious and will please your soul.

Ingredients:

  • 1 liter chicken stock
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1/4 cabbage, sliced thinly
  • 1 small can sweet corn, blitzed in the blender for a second
  • 1 stock cube (without msg preferably)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 4 tbsp hot sauce
  • 4 tbsp vinegar
  • 4 tbsp soy sauce
  • 4 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 kg chicken, cut into very small bits and stir fried with a tablespoon of soy sauce.
  • 2 tablespoons cornflour dissolved in a tablespoon of cold water
  • 1 egg, beaten.

Stir fry 1/4 kg of chicken bits in a pan with some soy sauce. I added a bit of garlic to this – but you can skip if you want. Once the chicken is completely cooked, transfer this to a plate and keep on hand.

Get a big pot and start off the soup by adding stock. Once the stock has heated up, add the carrot, cabbage and the blitzed up sweet corn. Don’t overdo the blitzing on the corn – you don’t want to make this into a slurry, you want the corn meshed up into very tiny golden knobs that surprise you when you drink up the soup!

Add the stock cube and the seasonings and the cooked chicken to the stock. Bring to a boil and simmer. You can add more salt or pepper depending on your taste – I personally think the seasonings I’ve added suffice.

Now add the dissolved cornflour and cook till your soup has thickened and achieved that glistening soupy consistency.

Lastly, pour the beaten egg slowly in the prepared soup – it should amount to a drizzle and keep stirring the pot so that the egg cooks and dissipates evenly.

Serve piping hot in your favorite bowl!

UMMM. YUM!

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Jalapeno Beef Sliders

Can I boast a little today? I make the best beef burgers. I’ve had a plenty, from all the joints in town and they might have more condiments than I do, but these burgers respect the taste of the meat. The tender beef patty needs to be slowly cooked before being transferred to a soft burger bun with only mayonnaise and mustard to compliment. The jalapenos and cheese provide for the extra flavor construction but they don’t take away the beef’s thunder.

These are loved by the boys in the family, of course. And what more, they’ve started hating the store bought patties now. Be sure to use premium quality beef though, which has a fair amount of fat in it because you want these to cook on their own without absorbing so much oil. Flatten the patty till its a bit beyond your palm because it will decrease in size once it cooks. Bun to Beef ratio should be kept equal otherwise everyone loses their minds. I know I do.

Patties can be made and frozen up till a week. Beef can be substituted for chicken. Served best with fries – this recipe makes up to 12 burgers.

Ingredients for the Beef Patty:

  • 1 Kg Beef mince
  • 3 medium onions, chopped finely
  • 1 heaped tsp ginger garlic paste
  • 4 toasts pulverized into breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Extra things you need:

  • About 12 soft burger buns
  • mustard
  • mayonnaise
  • sliced jalapenos
  • slices of cheddar cheese

Mix all the ingredients of the patty, seasonings and sauces with the beef, making sure to combine everything well. Refrigerate this mixture for half an hour before taking it out and forming palm sized patties. Refrain from keeping them too thick, because the meat will not cook through. Chuck these in the freezer for about 10-20 minutes so that they keep their shape once cooked.

Eid 2015 003Fry the patties in a deep heavy based non-stick pan, browning each side.

Make sure not to bother these too much when they cook – they will tend to break and mess things up.

 

Eid 2015 004Once done, one side of the patty should look like this:

 

 

 

Prepare your buns by slicing them down the middle and spreading a nice generous dollop of mayonnaise and mustard on top.

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Cover with the cooked patty:

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And add the jalapenos and cheese slices:

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Cover the tops and warm the sliders in an oven to melt the cheese and get the party going. (You can skip this if you want to, but I like my buns warm  – and my cheese melted 😛 )

Serve with a side of french fries and lots of ketchup!

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NOMOMNOMNOM 😀

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Chocolate Topped Dream Puffs

I’m sorry but the cream puffs i’ve had lately from the local bakeries have been incomparable to what these taste like. Light pillowy puffs filled with whipped cream and topped off with a dollop of chocolate sauce – its the perfect dessert. Melt in your mouth, bite-sized and utterly blissful. Just imagine biting into one of these – the light baked dough gives way to a small gush of cream and the chocolate just brings all the flavors together. I can have five of these in one go. Seriously.

A word of caution though, this recipe is not for beginners – although I’ve tried to include all the steps with pictures, it still takes effort and time to put together. But the result is worth it. No one will believe that you made them, and they taste a thousand times better than the ones you buy. If you carefully follow all these steps and measurements – you’ll be good to go! Don’t let it daunt you!

Ingredients:
For the puffs:

  • 75 g butter, chopped
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup plain flour, sifted
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 200 ml cream, whipped until thick

For the chocolate sauce:

  • 100 g dark cooking chocolate
  • 2 tsp butter
  • 2-3 tsp hot water

food 020Combine butter and water in a pan and melt over medium heat. Bring to a boil and add the sifted flour all at once, stirring with a spoon until a soft dough is formed and the mixture leaves the sides of the pan. Convert to a mixing bowl.

 

 

Add in beaten egg slowly, mixing the dough with a beater on medium speed after each addition. The mixture should turn glossy.

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food 023Drop heaped teaspoons of the mixture on greased baking trays, leaving space apart (the puffs will almost double in size) Its great to keep the trays lined because the puffs are delicate and its tough to separate them from the trays after baking.

 

food 025Bake in hot oven for around 15 minutes, take them out and make a small slit on the sides to allow steam to escape. Return to oven for five minutes until tops are browned and puffs are dry. Cut these sideways and wait to cool. Carefully pull out any residual soft mixture from the center.

Chocolate sauce:

food 027Melt chocolate and butter in a double boiler (if you’re feeling adventurous use the microwave – but honestly, I don’t trust microwaves) and stir until well melted and fluid. Add 2 tsp of water to make a spreadable sauce.

 

 

You’ll be sad at how easy these babies finish! Now all you have to do is, fill the puffs in the middle with whipped cream. Tip: Refrigerate your cream for an hour or two before whipping.

And top them off with the chocolate sauce!

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DIVINE!

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