Friday, 20 July 2012

After dinner treats for when you're told not to bring a thing!

Been invited over for dinner lately and told to bring nothing?!  I've been on the receiving end just as much as telling my guests the same thing.  Its a common conundrum we have all faced at some point and whilst the host has the best intentions and in most cases (certainly mine!) truly means 'don't bring anything', the guest either really wishes to contribute to the nights feasting, or feels obliged to not turn up empty handed.

Either way, the marketing and advertising teams down at Cadbury no doubt had some clever insight into this situation when they launched the Cadbury Favourites 'What to bring when you're told not to bring a thing' campaign!!  I know that slogan has run through my head on multiple occasions prior to a night out at a friends place!

Well, although I am certainly not suggesting 'little old me' can match the powerhouse that is Cadbury and come up with my own 'Cadbury Favorites' competitor product, I did think these little ideas would be easy and fun if you were looking for something to 'make and take' to your next dinner invitation. (yeah ok I need to work on my slogan!)

So here are some quick and easy bite size yummies to try out...

Chocolate truffles

These always provoke a big WOW factor and yet they are sooooo simple to make (not that you need to tell your friends that!).  Ganache and some flavours of your choice are all that is needed.  They look really effective and go beautifully with an after dinner coffee.

Use half the amount of cream to chocolate for the ganache - I usually use about 200ml cream to 400g dark chocolate pieces and a knob of butter.  This amount will make quite a few truffles - probably about 20 or so, depending on the size you make them.

So heat the cream until just before boiling point (if you boil it I find the finished ganache loses its shine) and pour it over the chocolate pieces in a bowl. Mix with a metal spoon until smooth.  Add the butter and give it a good stir to make sure the butter emulsifies well - you dont want an oil slick on the top!

If you are wanting to add flavours to the ganache do so at this point.  There are endless options but here are some I love...
finely chopped glace ginger
organic shredded coconut
natural peppermint extract
finely grated orange rind
crushed toffee pieces
finely chopped nuts of your choice
a tablespoon or so of liqueur such as Kahlua, Cointreau, Creme de Menthe

Allow the ganache to set which will take a couple of hours - you want it to roll into a ball and stay that way!  If you are pressed for time throw it in the fridge. 

Roll them into rough balls and toss into a bowl of cocoa (my delivery of raw cacao powder yesterday would be perfect for this use- giving the truffle a dusting of antioxidants which of course would then make them totally healthy and acceptable to eat a few of!).  The other option would be to melt some good quality dark, milk or white chocolate and dip them into the chocolate for a 'cracking' crust.

They look great presented as is on a small platter or placed in mini patty cake liners.

If you are looking for a dairy free option, try using coconut cream instead of cream as I have detailed here but just use a bit more chocolate and omit the butter.

See how easy they are??!!!

Easy Peasy nut brittle

I was given the original recipe for this a few years ago and quickly got addicted to not only the taste but also the little effort it took to make it!  However revisiting this recipe I see 'granulated white sugar' and 'corn syrup' and I think to myself 'surely this can be pimped to make it a little less processed'?  'Of course you do' they say!!  Well I decided to try it with rapadura sugar and pure maple syrup and WOW!  Super delicious with much more depth of flavour I would say.

Although I have been getting a little more wary of using a microwave these days, this recipe is so easy due to the microwave method that I decided to take the 'positives outweigh the negatives' approach!

So here it is.  As always, take the license to change it up a bit - different nuts, dip the finished product in chocolate, throw some puffed rice with the bicarb soda at the end...... whatever you like really!


1 c rapadura sugar (or use white if you want to be traditional about it!)
1/2 c maple syrup (light corn syrup was the original ingredient)
1 c nuts (use roasted peanuts, almonds, brazil nuts, macadamias or a mix of all)
1 tsp butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
a pinch of salt
1 tsp bicarb soda


1.  Lightly grease a large baking tray.
2.  In a large 8 cup glass measuring jug (I used my Tupperware one and it was fine) stir together sugar and syrup.
3.  Cook on high for 3-4 minutes, depending on the power of your microwave.  (I do 3 minutes)  Just watch it to make sure it doesnt burn.
4.  Stir in nuts and cook on high for a further 3-5 minutes (I do 3)
5.  Add butter, vanilla and salt and cook on high for a further 1-2 minutes (I do 1)
6.  Add bicarb soda and gently stir until light and foamy.
7.  Immediately pour mixture onto tray.  Spread quickly with the back of a spoon.  **Remember the mixture is very hot and hardens quickly
8.  Let cool for about half an hour (to room temperature) then break into pieces.


Or for something a little more decadent, try out my Almond and Coconut balls.  My take on the Ferrero Raffaello balls!  YUM!

Impress your friends with little effort but a lot of love!  Enjoy!


  1. This all sounds just too yummy!!! Maybe I will have to try them oneday but only when I need to take something out, otherwise I would consume them all myself!!!

    1. I'm laughing because as I read your comment I was munching on a piece of nut brittle!!! Woops!!

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