Chocolate Oat and Speculoos Fudge

I grew up on a healthy diet of Malory Towers and St Clare’s. Boarding schools that came into my life way before Hogwarts did, thanks to Enid Blyton and her magic. Books that I devoured so fast that on my 10th birthday, I was done with the one my parents got me a couple of hours after they gifted it to me. We went back to the bookstore and got me the next one.

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I loved a lot of things about those books. But what I loved most is the food those girls ate at their slumber parties. Some were strange things that I probably wouldn’t go anywhere near in real life, but they sounded delicious at the time. Some were just ‘plump tomatoes’ or ‘crisp apples’ that sounded like the mot delectable things ever known to man. And then there were the cakes, the sandwiches, the biscuits, the puddings.

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All I wanted to do was have my own slumber party. And so we did. Every so often between the ages of 9 and 11, our little gang of girls would meet up at any one of our houses and our Moms would enthusiastically take up the task of feeding us at midnight, knowing fully well we’d be struggling to stay awake. There were cakes, sandwiches, chips and my Mom’s famous chocolate fudge (no ‘tongue’ or ‘boiled eggs'; we weren’t as evolved as the girls in the books).

Unfortunately, the recipe for that seriously good fudge is tucked away somewhere in her elaborate recipe books and is apparently very fiddly. At the age of 10, I just assumed it was the most obvious thing to make at all times, not realising that ’69 grams of sugar’ had to be measured out each time.

Then I grew up. And butter, cream and dark chocolate became both my greatest loves and biggest guilt-inducers. I found this recipe that is a healthier spin on traditional fudge. It is delicious. My ten-year-old, Enid Blyton toting self would have approved.

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Baked Mozzarella Sticks

I, like most people in the world, dream of deep-frying anything that can be deep-fried. Because in my head, like in the heads of most people, things taste better when dunked in hot oil, mercilessly browned and delectably crispy.

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Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on which side of the calorie-acceptance line you stand, I’ve lately discovered a certain aversion towards a number of things deep-fried. (French fries, please don’t ever leave me). The dream largely tastes great only in the dream. I can’t stomach even the thought of deep-fried Snickers and a too-slick burger can put me out of action for days.

Maybe my digestive system got less fun the older I got.Maybe my stomach is just trying out to balance out the copious amounts of chocolate I don’t seem to be averse to.

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So I began making churros that were baked, falafel that’s baked. And discovered my digestive system is probably doing me a favour by making me eat less grease, right?

Also, the stuff tastes phenomenal.

These mozzarella sticks are a delicious, slightly nerve-wracking alternative to the fried version if like me, you’re using shredded cheese and not the easy-to-peel-off string cheese.

But, gooey melty cheese is good no matter what!

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Double Chocolate Banana Bread (Eggless)

It’s a terribly dark Monday. So I decided to make you the darkest cake of them all.

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It has chocolate two ways. Banana. Whole wheat flour. Not a lot of sugar. No eggs. Few things make me feel good on a Monday morning. This cake just shot to the top of that list.

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Hazelnut Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches

I had a terrible idea. Really, really terrible.

I decided I must make buttery, soft cookies stuffed with hazelnuts. No wait, that wasn’t the terrible part. I then decided to take two of them, spread a big scoop of rich, dark chocolate ice-cream with brownie pieces on one, mush them together and keep them in my freezer where they are miraculously always soft enough to eat.

Just terrible.

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I don’t know what the most terrible part of it was. The fact that the hazelnuts were spread far and wide in the cookies, the fact that I could bite into crunchy bits of them, the fact that everything was unimaginably buttery, the fact that hazelnuts and dark chocolate were meant to be, or the fact that the chocolate ice-cream impossibly got so much better, even though it was pretty much already the best I’ve ever had.

Really, I should be sued.

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Spinach + Mushroom and Mushroom + Olive Quesadillas

I’ve spent weekends making extremely complicated food, not realizing till recently that the whole point of a weekend is that it’s a two-day VACATION. And vacations do not mean cursing the universe in a sweltering hot kitchen because the pastry dough just won’t stay still and the yeast won’t behave.

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No, weekends are for things that do go right the first time. And then every time after that. Weekends are for enough time to go giggle with the minions, stare into space for a bit, fill your wardrobe with clothes you probably didn’t need to buy, and eat chocolate ice-cream sandwiched between hazelnut cookies (JUST YOU WAIT).

Weekends are for these shamelessly easy quesadillas, to be made while munching on mozzarella sticks that are just as easy (JUST YOU KEEP WAITING). Yes, I did make three really fun things this weekend and even though there will be a day when the courage of (wo)men will fail, it was not this day.

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Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut Cake

It’s about time.

It’s about time we got some chocolate on our clothes and some butter in our veins. It’s about time we put aside the salads and the healthy pizza. I mean, delicious as all of that is, a girl’s gotta get some chocolate. Especially if the girl is me.

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I needed chocolate so badly I decided this cake must have no flour. Chocolate through and through. Unholy amounts of butter, half a dozen eggs and many hazelnuts later, here we are.

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Topped with chocolate sauce because that’s always a good idea. Served in large, unapologetic chunks. Rich, gooey and leaves no hazelnut to the imagination. Grab a fork.

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Thai Style Tofu, Pineapple and Vegetable Fried Rice

Someone pass me a pair of chopsticks. And a fork for backup.

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I’m getting quite carried away with these non-dessert recipes. There shall be chocolate soon, I promise. But first, let’s eat some rice.

Out of the many beautiful products Sprig sent me, one was a sample of their Nam Prik Pao paste, to be launched in August so stay tuned! It’s a thick, dark paste fragrant with all sorts of beautiful ingredients. Move over Thai curry paste, this is my new love.

Ordinarily, I’m not a fan of pineapple added to anything that’s not cake, or a muffin, but after this salsa, I grew up. I’d bookmarked this recipe along time ago because I hadn’t seen a prettier bowl of rice in my life.I changed around the recipe to match my tastebuds and whatever I had in the kitchen, making a special effort for the pineapple because it was just divine. The Nam Prik Pao (such fun to say) was absolutely meant for it.

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