Basic Dinner

Life seems to be busy lately, and when it has this busy flow I tend to forget to menu plan. I know, I know that the busier times call for more planning, but it’s one thing that passes in one ear and out the other. Then before I know it, it’s Thursday and there’s nothing prepared for dinner and I haven’t been shopping for the family (only my Thermomix cooking class!) for about a week and a half….

With a tight budget, take-away is out of the question so I raided the fridge for leftovers. None. Then I went back and raided it for whatever I could find and throw together.

Voila!

Sometimes it’s the simple dinners that taste the best. I just love my Brussel Sprouts and when they’re in season nearly always have them in the fridge. I pulled them out and chopped them fine then sheared the corn from a fresh cobb that I’d impulsively grabbed while Class Shopping. After dicing some garlic I threw them into a hot pan with some coconut oil and tossed till they started going soft.

It wasn’t enough. So another raid found the Prosciutto I’d had in there (still before it’s BB date!) so I pulled some of it into strips and added it to the hot pan with the leaves of 2 sprigs of thyme. Lastly, I cracked the remaining 2 eggs in the fridge into the pan and tossed them all together with some S&P.

There wasn’t much of it to go between two adults so I toasted some Gluten Free toast before piling it onto that on our plates. A sprinkling of leftover feta from the class and dinner was ready!

If I’d thought about it at the time a squeeze of lemon juice would have made a great addition, but by the time it was ready, I was too hungry to think of that.

Dinner Basics can be a simple fridge raid – veggies chopped finely so they cook quickly and tossed with some protein. A egg is almost always available or some shredded chicken, perhaps a tin of tuna, or even some tofu. Whatever floats your boat. Cooked quickly in a good oil (extra virgin or coconut preferably) and eaten on toast or if you can be bothered, mashed potato, rice or polenta.

Make a basic Dinner at your place and share it with the Mix Taste Eat community here on Facebook.

Liquid Breakfasts

It’s no secret that I’m a self-confessed Breakfast Skipper. I just never seem to find the time. Between getting kids ready for school/breakfast for them/lunches/teeth/hair and coffee and a shower for myself, before I know it it’s time to go and I haven’t eaten anything.

I’m aware of it. I know it’s not a good habit and I know that I function so much better if I’ve had nourishment of some kind to start the day. This is why we call it the most important meal of the day, it kick starts our metabolism and breaks the overnight fasting – re-energising us for the day! Hence the name ‘Break Fast’.

Being the first meal of the day it’s a fantastic opportunity to get many nutrients and goodness into your system straight away. But for me, I’m now looking at my children and the role I’m modelling for them. Yes, they eat cereal. It’s something I’m working on. But we have to pick our battles when we can, right? I go through stages of just not buying cereal and the kids do fine. They have yoghurt, fruit or (if I’ve had my coffee early enough) eggs before school and deal with it. But at the moment they’re having cereal and it works so I’m not fighting the invisible fight with them. I’ll ‘forget’ to buy it again soon and we’ll have another trial of options.

I’ve been trying to think of quick ways to have a nourishing breakfast and hopefully inspire the kids to have that along with me. This week I’ve been smoothie-ing it up. I stocked up on frozen fruit and am using the gems I find in my cupboard and fridge to add extra goodness to my liquid breakfast.

I’m avoiding Bananas at the moment as I’m currently on a restricted diet due to an immune response test (working on my alopecia with my amazing naturopath) so I’ve found that I have to be quite inventive with my smoothies, as I’d usually reach for the bananas and cacao. I straight swapped Bananas with frozen Raspberries and that worked really well. I usually add a teaspoon of mesquite powder (rich in minerals), lactose-free or cashew nut milk, spinach, a pitted date or two and blend.

Other combo’s I love is anything yellow. Mango, turmeric, ginger and coconut milk. Sometimes I add some of The Healthy Mummy’s Smoothie Powder to bulk it up a bit (and add a little sweetness) as well.

My next venture will be into pre-making batters so all I have to do in the morning is fry tablespoons of it off and eat. I particularly love a Cauliflower Fritter batter from Michelle Bridges latest cookbook.

I’m making a conscious effort to include a variety of fruit and veggies in my breakfast, but like any human, it doesn’t always work. But I figure, at least I’m trying, so that has to count for something, right?

What do you usually have for breakfast?

A little bit Cheffy

If there’s ever an opportunity to cook with friends, I’m all for it. I love the community of cooking and sharing a meal together, chatting and getting to know each other more. It’s why I loved my home Cook-A-Long days before we moved.

This month (NEXT WEEKEND!!) I’m heading to Auckland with some of the beautiful ladies in my Thermomix Branch to our annual ThermoFest. It was a challenge for us to qualify for the trip but we did it! So on the 1st of March we got together, made some wonderful food to celebrate our achievements.

Recently, Dani Valent (food blogger/journalist) teamed up with Thermomix to release her third Thermomix Cookbook – Entertaining with Dani Valent. It’s the most beautiful cookbook, the chapters being Menu’s of different themes – think Mexican, BBQ, Brunch, Indian to name a few – with each theme populated with many recipes to make your next event specular. I’ve made many dishes from it, using the Recipe Chip it comes with makes cooking them so easy, and have been looking forward to diving into this chapter the most – A Bit Cheffy.

Together we made 5 dishes and it was one of the best lunches I’ve had this year. It included:

  • Pineapple and Rum Cocktail (which just may become a regular weekend drink in my house!)
  • Potted Baby Vegetables
  • Cheese Puffs
  • Confit Salmon with creamy Cauliflower mash and Parmesan Gnocchi
  • Strawberry Spheres with Mango Truffles.

The lunch was amazing. We each chose a dish to create and put it together there before eating. I loved the tahini dip that was hidden under the olive and rye ‘dirt’ of the potted vegetables. Unfortunately I didn’t have the cheese puffs (as they’re gluten based) but everyone raved about them.

img_4855 img_4864 img_4868

img_4878

I chose to make the Salmon dish. I’ve been curious at how the confit would go as it was cooking within the confit of olive oil, in the Varma. Next time I’ll cover the confit with a cling wrap to prevent any water from the steam dripping into it, and I’d ensure the tin I used didn’t leak oil everywhere as well (oops!). We are so fortunate to have an amazing chef with us who helped me with the crispy salmon skin technique. The parmesan gnocchi just melted in your mouth and was so easy to create but the winner of that dish would have to be the cauliflower cream. Definitely an element I’ll be recreating at home – possibly next time with a rich slow-cooked lamb or some spicy indian dish.

img_4881

img_4888

The other side of Instagram!

If you’re on Instagram be sure to follow me here and my friend Gabrielle’s beautiful blog @kitchenthyme.

The star of the day with the dessert. As I mentioned, Chef Gabrielle was able to source some of the more difficult ingredients for us and together we make the strawberry spheres (so interesting!!) while she’d prepared ahead the Mango Truffles and the other elements. (If you’re friends of mine on Facebook there’s a hilarious video of us making them!!)

img_4890

If you get together and create one of Dani’s menu’s, remember to check out her website – she’s put together some great playlists of music to have in the background of your next Entertaining Event. Having studied music, I loved the combination of Cornelious, Nick Cave and The Avalanches. Pieces I haven’t heard in years! Thanks for the memories Dani!

If you’re looking for a new cookbook, I highly recommend it. Most of the recipes feed 8 people – so fantastic for larger families, and they’re surprisingly easy to throw together. Outside of this menu, my fav would have to be the Mexican night (the Blackened Chicken with Peanut sauce is so deviiiine!), and you can’t go past the Pea and Lettuce Soup from the Ladies Lunch. Yes, sounds odd. Tastes amazing.

You can purchase your copy through your Thermomix consultant or directly from the Thermomix Website.

*not sponsored.

Thermomix Chocolate Muffins

If you’re in my Mix Taste Eat Facebook Group, you may have seen that I recently shared a video of my favourite 12WBT Chocolate Fudge Cakes being made. When I did the 12WBT program, these were a craving lifesaver for me. I would make a batch and freeze them all wrapped individually so if I had a sweet craving after dinner I knew that I could nuke one of these in the microwave for 30 seconds and I’d have a warm gooey chocolatey treat that fit in within my daily calorie goals.

img_4840

I may have over indulged a little over the school holidays. I’m trying to get back into the swing of things and the first thing I reach for when I need to get back in shape is my old 12WBT information. I know that sticking to the calorie limit and exercising works really well for my body, and I like to do something that gives me results I can see as well as setting me up for better habits.

I’m a bit of a snacker. I’m not big on breakfast and will have a bigger lunch than needed then will snack too much for the rest of the day. So I’ve started with having breakfast every morning. I’ll have balanced meals and if I’m craving that chocolate kick after the kids have gone to bed, I’ll reach for a Chocolate Muffin and know that it still fits within my diet. Mostly.

I had a little play with the recipe and made it more my own. Obviously, I make it using my Thermomix before baking them in the oven too. How silly would it be to make them the ‘old fashioned’ way now!

img_4826

Thermomix Chocolate Muffins

You’ll need:

  • 140g Apple Puree (I make mine but you can also buy it from the supermarket)
  • 130g Yoghurt (I used Lactose Free Natural Yoghurt – Coconut Yoghurt would work well too)
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Essence
  • 110g Plain Flour (I used Gluten Free Flour)
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 40g Cacao Powder
  • 80g Brown Sugar
  • Pinch of Salt

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 150C. Grease a muffin tin and set aside.
  2. Weigh into the Mixing bowl your apple puree, yoghurt, eggs and vanilla and mix together for 20 Sec/Sp 4.
  3. Add in the flour, baking powder, cacao, brown sugar and salt on top of the wet mix and blend for 20 Sec/Sp 4.
  4. Scrape down sides and mix for another 20 Sec/Sp 4.
  5. Pour mixture into your prepared muffin tin and bake for 10-15 min in your oven.

When done I’ll let them cool completely before wrapping individually in glad wrap and storing them in a freezer proof container in the freezer. Then I’ll unwrap one, zap it in the microwave for 30 seconds and eat warm with some yoghurt or cream. Yum!!

Red Dragon Fruit Panna Cotta

There’s a wonderful little grocer just around the corner from where we live and seeing as we’ve been living in the middle of nowhere for so long with limited access to wonderful fresh food, you can just imagine the heaven I’m in.

I’ll often go there rather than the local IGA to grab bread just so I can see what’s on special and if there’s a ‘seconds’ box. They usually have a few boxes of fruit and veg that at the end of the day don’t look so good and so they pile them all together and sell them for $3 a box.

Bargin!

From them I’ve made 3 jars of tomato ketchup, a few jars of strawberry jam (the older not-so-nice looking strawberries are just perfect!) and there’s a few odd looking things in them that I like to experiment with.

The other day while browsing I picked up a box with this wonderful fruit in it, already wanting to create something vibrant and delightful.

Red Dragonfruit has this intense pink flesh that’s spotted with little black seeds when cut open. I just love the subtle sweetness it has when eaten and I knew I wanted to make something that showcased both of these wonderful elements.

Red Dragon Fruit Panna Cotta.

img_4802

I don’t have a set-in-stone recipe for Panna Cotta but have made a few in the past and more so follow the instructions on the back of the gelatine packet, but for you guys, I {thankfully} wrote it down!

Now, if you don’t have dragonfruit don’t stress! You can still make the base recipe (without the dragonfruit) and add some vanilla bean paste, matcha powder {possibly my next panna cotta…}, cacao powder, mango flesh or even tumeric powder {but increase the sweetness for this one!} for a vibrant yellow dessert! But if you do happen to find a Red Dragon Fruit (be sure to check the store as there are also White Dragon Fruit’s with white flesh) for this dish then, perfect!

img_4798

To make it you’ll need:

  • 220g Coconut Milk
  • Flesh of 1/2 a Red Dragon Fruit
  • 30-50g Maple Syrup {depending on how sweet you like it}
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 4 Sheets of Gelatine

Method:

  1. Into your Mixing Bowl weigh in your coconut milk then add the dragon fruit flesh, maple syrup and vanilla. Mix together for 4 Min/70 C/Speed 4
  2. While that’s mixing soak your gelatine leaves in a bowl of water to soften.
  3. When the mixture has finished set your time for 1Min/Speed 4 and add the softened gelatine leaves through the mixing bowl lid, allowing them to be completely incorporated into the coconut mixture.
  4. Once done, strain through a fine mesh sieve to remove the dragon fruit seeds and pour the pink mixture into 4 small cups, placing into the fridge to set for at least 5 hours.

I served mine with some vanilla {lactose free} cream, chopped pecans and micro-herbs but if you don’t want to fuss you can top yours with a dollop of thick cream {maybe a shave of chocolate or three!} and enjoy!

My Top 5 Favourite Cookbooks.

lamington

I once read a quote that said something along the lines of ‘we only really create 6 recipes from a cookbook’ and when you think about it, that’s generally true. I read that years ago and since then I’ve attempted, not once but twice, to cook every single recipe from a cookbook. It’s always a fantastic challenge as I find myself creating dishes I wouldn’t have looked twice at, discovering different flavour combinations and pushing myself outside of that 6 recipes comfort zone.

I’m always conscious of my new cookbooks now and always attempt to get the most out of them. A cookbook to me is like a good novel. I love to read them, cover to cover. I’ll happily sit and read recipes, methods and drool admire the beautiful food photos that are so carefully and loving put together. It’s a dream of mine to write and produce a cookbook, I’ve found that the more experience I have with food and Thermomix and cooking, the more I want to inspire others to cook and love food as well.

My bookshelf is overrun by cookbooks and while I love them all, there’s always a select couple I reach for. For birthday cake. A healthy dinner. Something quick and easy that the whole family will eat. So if you’re just starting out or wanting to expand your own cookbook collection, here are my Top 5 Must Have Cookbooks.

  • The Happy Cookbook, by Lola Berry. One of my ‘Cook All the Recipes’ challenges was based around this book and I’d do it again. Berry has created a focus on getting the most nutrients into her simple but tasty recipes. I love it because I can eat everything in the book without fear of food reaction too!
  • 30-Minute Meals, by Jamie Oliver. My bookshelf is an Ikea cube-like shelf and nearly two of the ‘boxes’ are taken up with my much loved Jamie’s cookbooks. Out of all of them, I reach for his 30MM the most. Each meals has a main, two sides and {generally} a dessert. I generally leave out one element for our smaller family but the mains are so easy to recreate, and once you’ve got them down pat, really do only take 30 Minutes {especially with the help of my Thermomix!}
  • Something for Everyone, by Louise Fulton Keats. Written for cooking with the Thermomix, this is my most used Thermo Cookbook on my shelf. Family friendly meals, school friendly baking and my favourite Flourless Biscuits recipe. It’s a must-have for all families.
  • Seasons, by Donna Hay. I have many many Donna Hay cookbooks {and a few of her magazines} and this one is the most well used. It was the other I used for one of my challenges and still a favourite. I love it’s focus on eating what’s in season, it’s the best way to get the most flavour out of food as well as kinder on the budget.
  • Day to Day Cookery, by I.M Downes. If you did Home Ec in Australia at any point, you’ll have your own copy of this household staple. It was the first one I had when I moved out of home, my copy is well work, food splattered and still used. It hold’s my favourite recipe for omelette, different methods for cooking chicken and all the baking recipes to fill a display cabinet. Another must have.

While I love these, I always covert any new cookbook that comes into my home. I recently had the pleasure of cooking from Dani Valent’s upcoming Thermomix cookbook ‘Entertaining with Dani Valent’ and can not wait to get stuck more into it. Before we recently moved I bought a box of second hand books and in it Peter Gilmore’s Quay has taken pride on my shelf, along with a bunch of new-to-me books that need decidedly more food splatter on them.

What new recipe are you going to make this week?

Green Smoothie Freezer Packs

Earlier this year I hosted a Cook-a-long with a bunch of friends and we made our favourite Freezer Meals. It was such a fun day! We had heaps of laughs, made so much good food and had enough dinners to last us each for the rest of the month!

One of the Freezer Meals we made were these Green Smoothie Freezer Packs – pre-made smoothie packs that could make breakfast or that mid-morning pick me up easy to grab, blitz and go.

We didn’t really follow a recipe for these. It was a matter of deciding what we like in our smoothies, chopping up a bunch of fruit and dividing them amongst ziplock bags to freezer. We did make sure we squeezed as much air out of them as possible – and if you want you can blanch your greens before freezing them to ensure the colour is retained. But we decided against that because, well, we just didn’t feel like adding that to what we were already doing for the day.

img_4568

The Tips I have for these bags are:

  • Use Seasonal Fruit – using what’s already ripe and in season will make the packs easier and much cheaper to make
  • Don’t be afraid to add herbs – parsley is great for green smoothies.
  • Have everything chopped and all the bags ready to go, makes packing them easier.
  • Buy the spinach in a LARGE bag – again, cheaper.
  • Use Spinach alternatives if it’s not in season. Or don’t make them ‘Green’ Smoothies.
  • If you are using Spinach, then be sure to add some Orange in with that bag as the Vitamin C will help you absorb any Iron you get from the Spinach.
  • Add nuts, seeds, maca powder etc – they freeze well too.
  • Don’t fill the bags up!! That’s a lot of smoothie! Just under half way for one portion should do it.

Once you’re ready to whip one into a smoothie, dump the contents into your Thermomix with your choice of liquid – Coconut Milk/Water/Cream, Milk, Almond/Nut Milks or even just water – around 300g of liquid works.  I always blend for 1 Min/Sp 9 to get the smoothest texture. Drain and enjoy!

IMG_1370.jpg

5 Thermomix Tips

 

One comment I hear a lot at Thermomix Demonstrations is ‘I wish I knew that earlier!’ It’s often about some small tip I give or a way another owner has used their own Thermomix recently. But it’s pretty common. So I recently asked my local Thermomix community, and on my Facebook blog page, what was something they wish they’d known when they first received their Thermomix.

Here are a few of their responses as well as a few tips I give out.

  1. You can use your Varoma as a colander! It mostly fits well into your sink and is wide enough to not splash hot water everywhere.
  2. Once you’ve finished cooking something, place your MC (Measuring Cup!) upside down on your bench, then your lid upside down on top of your MC. All the mess will be facing up and not on your clean bench top!
  3. Fill your ThermoServer with hot water and place your Varoma on the top with your wrapped dough inside. The heat from the steam of the hot water will help prove your dough quicker.
  4. There’s a knack to using your spatula – it’s actually made to fit the shape of your Mixing Bowl. Remember to use it clockwise at the blade level (as it’s against the back and blunt side of the blade) with the back of the spatula in towards the nook of the blade. You’ll find it scrapes around the bowl perfectly.
  5. TM5 owners – you probably already know that you can bookmark your recipes, right? I learnt recently that even while you’re in the middle of cooking a Guided Recipe you can access the home screen > Menu > Recipes > Select your Chip and get to the point in a second recipe where you can see the ingredients (scroll down once you’ve selected a Recipe) so you can prep for what you’re cooking next. Think Bolognese and Béchamel Sauce.

What are your Top 5 Thermomix Tips for new owners?

Top 10 Tips for Hosting a Thermomix Demonstration

10

I’ve been demonstration the Thermomix for over two years now, so I’d say I know a thing or two about hosting a successful Thermomix Demonstration. I’ve done many, from the small and quaint to the large and overwhelming demo’s, you name it, I’ve done it.

Crazy ones hosted in the evening where every man, woman, child and dog seems to be in the same room, kids running around like headless chooks while one interested guest shouts questions at me from over the roar. Intimate ones where a few close friends sit around a bench, so close to the Thermomix they can touch it (and they can’t take their hands off it!), murmuring ways of sneaking one past their Hubby and onto their own kitchen benches. Husbands, firing off a million and one questions at a time, trying to see if they can find a flaw or trip my answers up before finally admitting its the best thing they’ve seen since sliced bread and pulling out their wallets.

Cooks of all walks of life, from the beginner novice, to people who would rather do burpees than make dinner to the advanced home chef, have all invested their time and money into their Thermomix, getting the most out of their demonstration.

Now it may be your turn. You may have already booked in a date, or you’ve been watching Masterchef and want to learn more about how this fabulous machine can work for your lifestyle. From my experience, here’s my Top 10 Tips for Hosting a Thermomix Demonstration:

  1. Setting the time and date – Work during the week? Consider an evening demo where you can relax and not have to worry about cooking dinner. Or if you’re a shift worker or stay at home parent (same thing, right?) consider a day time demo with some friends, your mothers group or your neighbours. Weekends are great if you’re a busy busy person, your consultant will have a range of days available to be sure to snap up the right one for you.
  2. Selecting the Menu – The thing to remember with a Thermomix Demonstration is that the menu is set to show off the functions of the Thermomix and how it can apply to your life. Do a lot of baking? Make sure to pay attention to the icing sugar milling at the very beginning of the cooking. Not a fan of spending a lot of time in the kitchen for dinner, maybe volunteer to cook the main and get a hands on feel of how easy it is to pull off a fantastic main in under 30 minutes. Your consultant will have your menu options available to you and if you have any questions and dietary restrictions be sure to let them know.
  3. Inviting guests – What is the best kind of dinner party to have? One where there’s 20 people in the room and it’s loud and noisy (and your consultant is trying to talk over the top of everyone)? Or a small and intimate party, where you sit together over a cuppa (or a glass of wine) and relax, enjoying yourself. Thermomix Demonstrations are designed to be small so if you have many friends interested in coming, consider hosting two. That way, you can reap all the host rewards and get two meals cooked for you!
  4. Getting ready – Once you’ve decided on your menu your Consultant will advise you what ingredients you’ll need to supply, and they’ll bring the rest. For health and safety reasons you’ll be asked to supply any cold food required, which isn’t very much. Also, have a think about where you’re going to hold the demonstration. I’ve done demos in all kinds of places. Standing at the end of a dining table while the guests sit and watch, behind a kitchen bench with guests sitting on bar stools, outside on the patio table. There’s heaps of options! Just remember your demo can go for around 2 hours so chairs are a good idea!
  5. Save on the dishes – Another good tip, especially if your demo is on the bigger side, is to consider purchasing some disposable plates and cutlery as well, saves on washing up!
  6. Bring your Appetite – I always ask a host to remind their guests to come hungry, there’s 5 courses to get through! And trust me, you’ll want to taste everything!
  7. Write down any questions in advance – It’s easy to get caught up in the demonstration and seeing the Thermomix in action that you could forget a few questions you may have thought of earlier, write them down! Pop them in your phone as it’s always within arms reach then when your consultant asks if anyone has any questions, you’re prepared!
  8. Have fun!! – Enjoy the food! Browse the cookbooks. Relax with your friends while learning how the Thermomix can help your lifestyle. Think about the extra time you’ll have at the end of the day while your Thermie is cooking dinner. What else can you be doing? Giving the kids a bath, helping with homework, unwinding after a long day of work, checking your Facebook (Like my page!). Enjoy your Thermomix Demonstration and start dreaming of life when your is sitting on your bench!
  9. Take brochures – Whether you’ve just purchased or you need to sleep on it, take a brochure. It contains a lot of information that you might want to refer back to incase you have any questions. Also, it has your consultants phone number on the back to contact her as well.
  10. Your Second Demo – We know people who host demonstrations use their Thermomix more. If you’re an owner, be re-inspired by selecting the other menu options (and maybe learn a thing or two more!) Your consultant wants you to be using your Thermomix to it’s full potential. Also – HOST REWARDS! If you’re wanting that second ThermoServer or a ThermoMat for all of those dough’s you’ve been making, hosting a demonstration will get you one at a discounted price.

Doing Demonstrations are one of the best parts of the job for me, only delivering a Thermomix to a new owner tops them! Demonstrations are fun, everyone enjoys the food, the company and seeing how the Thermomix does so much in so little time.

For me, I’ve been able to get out of the house more. A lot of my Thermomix Customers have become close friends and I know that I’ve become a more confident and outgoing person (from the shy me I was before I started consulting!) because of Thermomix.

I hope this list helps you with your upcoming Thermomix Demonstration, let me know if there’s anything you’d add!

Shannon’s Chocolate Peanut Bar

I like a good challenge. I’m more likely to challenge myself to reach a new goal, learn something new or to step a little out of my comfort zone but I can say that if someone else told me I can’t achieve something or I won’t be able to learn this or that, just watch me smash that assumption out of the park.

I dare you.

I’ve always been good at following a recipe. I grew up browsing my Mum’s display folder of recipe cut outs she’d taken from various magazines. When I left home Mum bought me the ‘Day to Day Cookery Book’ that’s a staple in many households. I lived cooking out of that book for years.

Now, I read cookbooks like you’d read a good Dan Brown. I will happily sit and read recipes, down to every detail, then whenever I can find the spare hours, I cook.

Last year I re-created Anna Polyviou’s Carrot Cake from a MasterChef Pressure Test. While it took me two weeks (I don’t have a blast chiller and live in the middle of nowhere so I had to create even some of the ingredients for the recipe – Hazelnut Praline Paste anyone?) the end result tasted amazing and was so satisfying I vowed to do it again with another fantastic looking recipe this year.

Bring on Shannon Bennett’s Chocolate Peanut Bar Dessert.

The first pressure test for this year’s MasterChef and as they were showing it to the competing contestants I was sitting on my couch mentally adding up how many days it’d take me to make it. {Two.} They displayed the different elements to the competitors and I was ticking off if I could access all the ingredients before Hubby’s birthday the next week. As soon as the recipe was available on the Ten website, I downloaded it and read.

Again, I don’t have a blast chiller, so leading up to Hubby’s birthday I made the Chocolate Parfait and the Peanut Ice-cream two days before. The next day, I had a spare hour and thought I’d just get a few elements done. I nearly completed it. Each element is so particularly detailed by Bennett that I felt it was easy to re-crate. It was wonderful to go through and tick them off once they were completed.

The last two things to do were the Honey Caramel Sauce and the tempered chocolate layer that sit’s on the top of the nougat. The sauce was simple and happily sat aside waiting for dessert time to re-heat it up. The tempered chocolate was the only thing that I had to do twice. Firstly I followed Bennett’s instructions but I don’t think I had good enough chocolate, so I sent Hubby out with strict instructions on what to buy and when he’d brought it home, I tempered chocolate the way I already knew how, and it worked. Thankfully.

13139084_10153712317932523_7773146681512565894_n

Our dinner that night was light and eaten with much anticipation in what’s to come (as I had shared what I was making with my friends on Facebook.) Assembling the dessert, I felt as though I was jumping out of my skin with excitement!

The Peanut Ice-Cream alone is sensational. I could sit and eat a bowl of it all on it’s own.  If you don’t watch MasterChef or missed that episode, the Chocolate Peanut Bar Consists of:

A Brown Sugar Crumble that holds the Peanut Ice-Cream in place. A Candied Peanut Crumb that sits beside the Peanut Caramel. On top of that rests the Chocolate Parfait that is dotted with Honey Nougat then topped by the Tempered Chocolate. Then there’s theatre. Once on the table you pour over the hot Honey Caramel Sauce, and that melts the tempered chocolate and blankets the dessert. So lush and rich.

Bonus – there’s enough of each element leftover for Mothers Day Dessert tonight!

A few points – I definitely couldn’t have made it without my Thermomix. It’s even specified a few times in the recipe. It make a huge difference when aiming for the correct textures of different elements. I also used my KitchenAid for part of it as well.

As I don’t have a sugar thermometer the caramels were made by experience on how much I’d pushed the sugar to the right temperature. Thankfully they worked out well, but if you’re not confident with that just pick up a sugar thermometer, they’re readily available.

As with all new recipes, read through it first and see what you can make now and which elements you can make later (account for freezing/resting/cooling times) so that everything is all ready at the same time.

It was such a great challenge I’m hoping theres a few more pressure tests to re-create this year! Or I might just go ahead and apply myself one of these days…