Chocolate is a sweet way to surprise on Mother’s Day

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Chocolate is universally loved, but the way it’s used as an ingredient varies greatly from country to country. In the Netherlands, various kinds of chocolate are spread, and sprinkled, onto hagelslaag, a kind of breakfast fairy bread that probably isn’t recommended by the nation’s health professionals. In Denmark, wafer-thin sheets of chocolate are used as a sandwich filling.

In Mexico, chocolate can take on a savoury note in the traditional mole (pronounced “mohlay”), a famously complex sauce that can use more than 20 ingredients and is served with fish, meat and vegetables. Guatemalan mole is different again, a sweet dessert sauce that’s poured over fried plantains.

But the true global chocolate connoisseurs must be the Swiss, who eat more than eight kilograms per person every year – more than any other nation on earth. Whether it’s an elaborate Mexican feast, a homemade bikkie or just a block of the good stuff, if you’re looking for a way to say thanks this Mother’s Day, here are two ways to do it with chocolate.

CHOCOLATE GOULASH

Serves 8

Just a hint of chocolate in this goulash gives it a rich, deep flavour with equal hints of bitterness and sweetness. 

• 2kg chuck steak, cut into very large chunks, about 10cm square

• 2 tbsp olive oil

• 3 large carrots (1 finely diced, 2 cut into thirds)

• 1 stalk celery, finely diced

• 1 large brown onion, thickly sliced

• 4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

• 2 red capsicums, cut into large chunks

• ¼ cup sweet paprika

• 2 tbsp plain flour

• 1 tsp Vegemite (optional)

• 1 tbsp dark soy sauce

• 1 can (400g) whole peeled tomatoes

• 1 litre beef stock

• 2 bay leaves

• 6 sprigs thyme

• 75g dark chocolate

• 500g potatoes, peeled and quartered

• ¼ cup finely shredded parsley

Season the beef well with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a heavy casserole dish over high heat and sear the meat until very well browned on all sides then set aside. Add the diced carrot, celery, onion, garlic and capsicum, reduce the heat to medium and fry for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the paprika, flour and Vegemite (if using) and fry for a further 2-3 minutes. Add the soy sauce, tomatoes, stock and herbs and return the beef to the pot. Cover and simmer for about 2½ hours, stirring occasionally until the beef is tender.

Place the chocolate in a small saucepan with half a cup of the liquid from the goulash. Stir frequently over medium heat until the chocolate is melted and combined with the liquid. Stir the chocolate sauce through the goulash, and then add the remaining chunky carrots and quartered potatoes. Simmer uncovered for 30-45 minutes until the carrot and potatoes are soft and the goulash is thick and dark. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Adam’s tip Cutting meat into “bitesized pieces” is often a mistake. Meat will shrink during cooking so it can end up as firm nuggets or sloppy mush. It’s much better to leave meat in bigger chunks for long braises. They’ll have a better texture while still being soft enough to tear apart.

CHOCOLATE MONTE CARLOS

Makes 18 iced biscuits

Chocolate Monte Carlos.

Chocolate Monte Carlos. Photo: William Meppem

Keep the individual biscuits quite thin as you’ll be sandwiching them together for a delicious homemade version of an Aussie classic.

• ½ cup (125g) butter, softened

• ¼ cup (60g) castor sugar

• 1 cup (150g) self-raising flour

• ¼ cup (40g) cocoa powder

• ¼ cup raspberry jam, to serve

Vanilla butter cream

• ½ tsp vanilla extract

• 60g butter, icing sugar

• 120g icing sugar

Heat your oven to 170C.

Cream the butter and sugar together. Mix the flour and cocoa powder and gradually add to the butter, while beating, until the mixture forms a soft dough. Divide the dough into 36 balls, each about the size of a teaspoon, and place on a lined baking sheet. Press each ball down well with the tines of a fork to create flat discs with the pattern of the fork on top. Bake for 15 minutes and then allow to cool completely on a wire rack. For the vanilla butter cream, beat the vanilla, butter and icing sugar together until smooth and transfer to a small piping bag.

Pipe a small amount of butter cream onto half of the biscuits and add a little dollop of raspberry jam to the centre of the other half. Sandwich the biscuits together and serve. 

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