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19

Jun

A Father’s day experiment

For father’s day this year, I decided to bake for my dad because what says love more than home baked goods? I found this simple (but surprisingly innovative) recipe for dessert bars and modified it to add chocolate (<3). I also used the remaining chocolate I had to create nutella brownies (which turned out surprisingly good - and I will post it another day!).

So after my routine gym elliptical run (which is always so satisfying), I showered and sat down to start out my experiment. This is a really easy recipe, best served HOT with COLD vanilla ice cream.

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Ingredients

  • 1 (18.25 ounce) package yellow cake mix
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup butter or margarine, melted
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup chopped dates
  • 1 cup chopped chocolate chips

Directions

  1. In a mixing bowl, combine dry cake mix and brown sugar. Add butter and eggs; beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Combine dates and chocolate; stir into batter (the batter will be stiff). Spread into a greased baking pan.
  2. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Run a knife around sides of pan to loosen; cool completely before cutting.

03

Jun

Sticky Toffee Date Pudding

My mom never really cooked desserts. She evidently didn’t have the sweet tooth that both my dad and I had developed. My own addiction to sugar began when I was living with my grandparents in Pakistan, just under the age of 3. I refused the traditional food of rice and chicken (a habit that has carried over to my adulthood) and as I became more and more stubborn they became more and more worried. So, when I took a liking to gulab jamman, which is a sweet South Asian dish filled with sugary goodness, they naturally fed me spoonfuls. And that is how a hypoglycemic was born. (Well I guess genetics played a role too).

The rare times my mother did bake, however, were when we had dinner parties at our house. She used our natural resources of dates to make a cake - and added caramel sauce on top. My mother had learned the recipe when we lived Australia and found an award winning recipe in the Australian Woman’s Weekly. We only had those cakes during rare times, so when I stumbled across a recipe a few days ago, I glanced at the aging dates already present in my fridge and hesitated no further.

It’s definitely not the same cake my mom makes - not even close. I have tried to replicate the recipe but just can’t get it right. They say chemistry labs are easy - you have to follow the instructions as if you are baking a cake. No wonder I suffer in lab classes - I never learned how to bake to begin with.

The truth is, no matter how many times you try to recreate the past, you’ll never be able to quite grasp it. That’s why we have to create strong memories: they literally need to last us a lifetime.

Ingredients

  • 250g pitted dates, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 1/2 cups boiling water
  • 125g butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 cups self-raising flour, sifted
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 300ml thickened cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 60g butter, chopped
Method
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a pan.

  2. Bring the water to a boil and place the dates in the water. Remove dates from water when tender and add bicarbonate soda. Let stand for five minutes.

  3. Using an electric mixer, beat butter, sugar and vanilla until pale and creamy. Add eggs one at a time and beat well. Mix the date mixture and flour together in a separate bowl. Then combine the two mixtures to form cake batter.

  4. Spoon mixture into cake pan and bake for 40 to 45 minutes. 

    Make caramel sauce: Combine sugar, cream, vanilla and butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, for 3 minutes or until boiling. Reduce heat to low. Simmer for 2 minutes. Pour warm sauce over warm cake. Cut into wedges. Serve.

18

May

An Arabian delicacy: black chocolate chip cookies

I am currently babysitting my 6-year-old brother. He persuaded me to make us oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, which are currently baking in the oven. I have a horrible sweet tooth, but above all I cannot resist perfectly made chocolate chip cookies. I love the golden brown color, chewy yet soft texture and obviously the molten chocolatey taste. 

Somewhere in my first semester of college, I decided to attempt baking such cookies. I went to the small (and very overpriced) convenience store across the street and bought a prepackaged roll of cookie dough. All you had to do was slice them up and bake them in the oven. Simple? Apparently not. I put those cookies into the oven, ate a spoonful of the remaining cookie dough and left to my room, absentminded as I am. I realized too late that my cookies must be burning and rushed back to the commons, hurriedly opened the oven - and found perfectly black cookies. And thus formed my reputation for the one who could absolutely not cook. I laughed it off and named the cookies an Arabian delicacy - and then threw them out.

Now that I watch my cookies tanning in the oven, I realize just how far I’ve come. I’ve gone from being completely dependent to semi-independent. (Not that I’m a skilled cook now or anything… the cookies I just made came in the Betty Crocker package, but oh well. Putting butter and egg does require some skill, I suppose).

But at the end of the day I still made chocolate chip cookies. Me - the girl who couldn’t operate an oven or an iron before she moved half way across the world.