This year has been a little busier than usual. I thought having a 4.5 year old and a 1.5 year old would be easier than last year having a 3.5 year old and a 6 month old. But let me just tell you, I was wrong!! While my 4 year old is pretty good most of the time, Alhumdulillah, it’s my 1.5 year old that gave me a hard time this year. Between her staying up for 2-4 hours at night or her need to not be more than 2 feet away from me – or attached to my hip when out, to her tantrums and lack of eating it has been a little harder than I expected. They call it the terrible two’s but I’m starting to think they had it all wrong, this starts way before they even hit 2. However I’m grateful to have gotten through and I’m so glad to say with a full nights rest these last couple of days she has been an absolute delight, Alhumdulillah.
Rant aside, I wanted to be a part of Eid Eats this year, but when it came down to it, things got a little too crazy and I didn’t get a chance to make something specifically for the occasion. However I’ve had these Sweet & Salty Pecan Cheesecake Bars tucked away and now seemed like the perfect time to put it to good use. Wouldn’t it be great for Eid? My mum asked me to make these a while ago. She sent me a recipe but it turned out the recipe was American and had a lot of ingredients thats weren’t in my Aussie pantry, so I made my own version instead and it turned out wonderfully.
Prepare a 8 x 8-inch pan with baking paper and cooking spray. Preheat your oven to 170c. Crush your crackers until fine like breadcrumbs, don’t be concerned about bigger chunks among the crumbs. Add your melted butter and brown sugar. Mix well and press into prepared pan, place in the fridge for 15 minutes.
Beat cream cheese on a medium speed until smooth. Add sugar and vanilla and beat until combined. Add in eggs one at a time until combined. Spread over prepared base and place in the oven for 25 minutes.
Roughly chop pecans and add in brown sugar and butter. Mix well. After the cheesecake has baked for 20 minutes, remove and gently top with the pecan mixture. Spreading over gently, but firmly pressing into the cheesecake. By placing this on top after some baking time, it ensures the pecan mixture doesn’t settle to the bottom and doesn’t burn. Place back in the oven for 15 more minutes.
Allow to cool completely, then place in the fridge for a couple hours to chill. It is easiest to cut these when it is chilled. Remove and slice into squares. if you feel you may break the cheesecake when removing, then slice them first and remove one slice at a time. Store in the fridge until ready to serve.
Variation: For this recipe I used salty crackers and salted butter. You could use unsalted butter and biscuits instead if you don’t like salty sweet desserts. If using sweet biscuits, there’ll be no need for the brown sugar in the base.
Still looking for Eid Gift ideas? This year has been a little (very) crazy. I’ve had a 17 month old who would be up 2-4 hours at night, suffice to say I was exhausted during the day. I didn’t have a chance to get, make or even plan out my Eid gifts this year. An idea came to me, simple and easy yet yummy and handmade. I do like giving handmade gifts, last year I gave brownie mix jars hard to family and playdough to all my sons little friends.
This year I handed out almond, toffee, salted chocolate bark to our friends and family. I also made cute printables to go with them. Keep reading for the recipe and free printables.
The size of my bags were 13cm but I made the printables slightly bigger so they’d fit a snack size snap lock bag as well. You could use them as is on a bag or cut the edges to fit. I made them in green and black and there’s 3 on a page to save from excessive printing.
Click the green image for the green version or the black for the black labels. Enjoy!
Lay a piece of baking paper on a flat tray. Place your sugar into a flat pan on medium to high heat. Ensure your sugar is dvey spread onthe pan. When the sugar dissolves and begins to turn an amber colour, remove from the heat and pour into your baking paper and spread thin and evenly.
Chop your almonds and set aside in a bowl. Once your toffee (cooked sugar) has set, cut it with a knife. This will cause the toffee to crack and shatter into small shards. Set aside the shards in a bowl.
Lay baking paper on 3 flat trays. I melted my chocolate in 2 lots as it was easier to work with.
Chop 200g dark chocolate and 400g milk chocolate into small pieces. Melt your chocolate in a metal/glass bowl over a pot of simmering water, ensure the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl.
Melt the chocolate until almost all the pieces have become smooth and liquid.
Remove from the heat and stir until smooth and shiny. Pour 2 serving spoons of chocolate into each tray and spread to approximately 3mms. If the chocolate is too thin, it will snap easily.
Sprinkle your almonds, toffee shards and salt onto the chocolate.
I’ve had this idea for a while now. In fact I had planned to make this last year Ramadan, I just didn’t have the time last year.
This is by no means a new idea (although at the time I thought it was) Lail from With a Spin has a little Gingerbread Masjid and I recently saw the cutest DIY kits by Secubit Bakery (USA) on Facebook. Seeing those kits was part of my motivation for finally getting this Masjid made, the other part was being asked by my friend Razeena over at Read Little Muslims.
As you’ve probably noticed my version is made with chocolate cookies. Why chocolate cookie? Well, I’m not really a fan of gingerbread, plus gingerbread is synonymous with christmas so I thought it would be ideal to try something a little different and it’s chocolate, who doesn’t like chocolate?
I didn’t want to reinvent the wheel when it came to the recipes for these, and it is tricky enough to get a cookie recipe that doesn’t flatten or spread so I’ve adapted recipes from other sources and I used pre mix Royal Icing from Queen to make the whole job a little easier. You could try chocolate for the sticking and decoration but I avoided that because 1. I didn’t have any, and 2. I wanted something that would set hard without me having to worry too much. However, I might try chocolate next time.
I kept the template simple, a dome, minarats and square sides. I left windows out of the masjid so it would be less hassle, but I’ve included it as an option in the templates so you can cut them out if you wish. I used the window template to add the windows in with icing afterward. I also included a people template, but you could use a gingerbread cutter instead. I haven’t included the people in our masjid as we haven’t had a chance to decorate them, I’m waiting to do them with my son, I know he’ll enjoy it. A BIG BIG thank you to Penny Paperoni for transforming my drawings into this awesome template for all of you. Click the image below to download and print your template.
glasses or thin bottles to hold everything in place
Chocolate Sugar Cookie
In a mixer, cream butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla essence until combined. Sift 3 cups flour and cocoa powder and add to the mixture. Mix until dough starts to form, if dough isn’t forming add 1 tablespoon of flour at a time until dough forms.
Place dough into a piece of cling wrap and place in the fridge for 1 hour.
Cutting the Cookies
While the dough is chilling print and cutout your templates. Don’t forget to cut out the door of the masjid. Cut baking paper pieces to fit your cookie trays. I used 2 cookie sheets (and reused 1 later on for the masjid people).
After dough has chilled remove from fridge and split into 2 lots, place 1 lot back into the fridge.
Roll the dough onto the cut piece of baking paper, I found this the easiest way to roll the dough, use flour if necessary. Roll the dough to ½cm thick. Place the templates (1 masjid/minaret piece with one square side fits well together on one sheet) onto the dough and cut it out as close to the edge with a sharp thin knife. Remove the excess dough by gently peeling it off the baking paper, being careful around the edges of the masjid cut outs. Place the excess dough in the fridge as well.
Carefully lift the baking paper and place it onto the tray then place in the fridge to chill for another hour.
Do the same with the other lot of dough, cutting out another square and another masjid/minaret side, place again in the fridge for an hour.
If you have another tray roll out the excess dough on another sheet of baking paper and use the people template to cut out as many people as you like, you could also use a gingerbread cookie cutter.
Pre heat oven to 175c after the cutouts have chilled for 45 minutes. Once heated, place the trays into the oven. The masjid and squares will take 13-17 minutes, keep an eye on it from the 10 minute mark. Your cookie will be done when the middle seems firm and is not wet looking. The people shapes will take from 5 – 8 minutes. I baked the people separately so they didn’t burn.
Cool completely before decorating.
Brown Royal Icing
Measure out your half cup of royal icing mixture and place it into a bowl, add in water a few drops at a time. I used a syringe. It’s easy to get the mixture too wet, so be sure not to add too much.
You want your icing to be thick, a good guide is the 20 second rule. Run a spoon through the mix and count the time it takes for the streak to settle back, it should take at least 20 seconds.
Tint your icing brown to match the cookies and fill into a piping/ziplock bag.
Make another batch of royal icing as you did for the brown icing. This time colour it in various colours of your choice. Use candies, lollies, sprinkles and the like to decorate the sides of the masjid.
Decorate each side of your masjid with the icing and decorations and let it set for a few hours. Get a large flat plate, board or cake platter. To attach the masjid front to the plate, pipe a thick line of brown icing onto the flat surface, remembering to leave a gap for the doorway (use the masjid template cut outs to guide your lines). Hold the masjid front piece onto the icing for 15-30 seconds and place a glass or something firm at the front and back of the piece.
Do the sides next, by piping icing onto the inner side edge of the masjid front and pipe a 12cm line on the the plate. Hold the side in place for 15-30 seconds and place something on both sides of the piece to hold it in place. Repeat with the other side.
Finally the masjid back, pipe a line between the 2 sides and along the inner edge of the piece, hold the back piece in place for 30 seconds and place something firm on either side to hold it in place. Pipe more brown icing into any gaps. Use glass cups to keep everything in place while setting. Set for a few hours.
Once set, remove cups and clean out any access icing by gently cutting away with a sharp knife.
Put on display or serve with tea!
Storage The assembled cookie will last 1-2 weeks in cool weather, be sure to keep it covered with cling film to avoid dust, dirt and pests getting into it. If baking to assemble at a later date, store your pieces in an air tight container in the freezer. When ready to decorate and assemble, remove all your pieces and let them thaw separately, then decorate, set and assemble. If baking and decorating to assemble at a later date. Decorate your pieces and let them set. Wrap each piece in cling film and freeze. Before thawing, remove each piece from the cling film and allow to thaw separately. Assemble and enjoy!
I have a sweet tooth, just a quick look at some of the posts on the blog is a dead giveaway. I have to eat something sweet everyday, erm, lets just say sometimes for fear of sounding like a crazy person. From mug cakes to chocolate and everything in between. Having any kind of sweet treats lying around the house has become my weakness, as a result we no longer buy chocolate or the like. This includes Nutella, that beautiful, chocolate, hazelnutty goodness. It never lasts in our house, a medium sized tub would last a week at best. The sad reality is that I cannot control myself around Nutella, so we no longer buy the stuff. It’s chocolate hazelnut gold, I tell you!
Ok, Nutella avoidance aside, when we have had Nutella in the house, I haven’t just eaten it on bread or toast or just with a spoon out of the jar, I’ve also made Nutella mousse. You can easily make a quick single serve or make a big bowl of the stuff. It’s definitely a crowd pleaser.
I by no means invented this. If you search the internet you’ll be flooded with recipes. However at the time of making it, I wasn’t aware there were 2 ingredient versions out there or aware of just how easy it is to make. I kinda just threw it together in a bowl and mixed.
For the quick and easy single serve version, all you’ll need is 1 teaspoon of Nutella and 2 tablespoons of thickened cream. Just put them together in a bowl and mix until smooth and combined then hide behind the couch before anyone catches you, you won’t want to share.
Below you’ll find a recipe for a bigger version, fill it into a large bowl and decorate with chocolate shavings, cookie crumbs or go fresh with strawberries and raspberries. Or you can do what I did and fill them into individual small pots like below.
My dear friend Henna of My Ninja Naan is due to have baby number 2 very soon. In honour of such a momentus occasion I organised a little virtual surprise baby shower for her along with the help of her food blogger friends Sarah of flour and spice blog and Asiya of chocolate and chillies. I’ve introduced you to Henna before, she very kindly wrote me a guest blog post while I was away earlier this year. You can see more of her yummy recipes and beautiful images on her own blog.
We’ve been planning this for a little while and I hope we were successful in keeping it a surprise. Henna is actually completely unaware this is happening, we planned the posts to go up while she sleeps so she could wake up to it the next morning. Henna, I hope this is a pleasant surprise and I hope you enjoy your virtual shower.
The theme we decided on was ‘finger food’, I made snowball whoopie pies. Whoopie pies are handheld sandwich cakes; a popular treat in America. Since Henna is American I thought why not create something close to home. I also happened to have a request from my brother for South African Snowballs; a small rounded sponge cake covered in red jam glaze and sandwiched with more jam or vanilla filling. As you can tell I put the two together to create these Snowball Whoopie Pies. I wanted to make a baby shower cake, but considering the theme is finger food, this is the next best thing. It doesn’t get much better than a handheld cake, right? You don’t even need a spoon or a fork, just pick it up and munch away.
I’m not sure what a whoopie pie is meant to taste like and these don’t taste like traditional snowballs, as they aren’t very spongy and I decided not to include the jam element but I think it all works together nicely and is a great treat all the same. Even snowball loving Mr Munchies approved of them. The whoopie pie recipe was actually suggested to me by Henna, I used her adaptations as well as making some of my own. I think it turned out really well. Henna always has great taste with food, always sharing recipes that work well and have delicious flavours. Don’t forget to check out her blog and be sure to scroll through to see what the other attendees brought to the party and to view the recipe at the end.
Henna, I wish you everything of the best in this chapter for your family. I hope all goes well for you and bub makes a safe and healthy arrival, in Shaa Allah. Your support and friendship has been amazing, thank you.
Sarah from Flour and Spice – Buffalo Chicken Pinwheels.
Asiya from Chocolate and Chillies – Stuffed Mushrooms.
Pre heat your oven to 170c and line your baking sheets with baking paper. Cream butter with sugars until smooth and creamy. Add in eggs, vanilla and yogurt and mix again until combined. Mix together milk, vinegar and bicarb and add it to the mixture. Add in your flour, and baking powder and beat until mixed through. Using a table spoon or small ice cream scoop, spoon out your filling keeping 1-2 inches between each spoonful. Place in the oven for 8-10 minutes. The whoopie pie will be done when they’re lightly golden and firm to the touch. Let them cool completely on the baking sheet.
Mix 1 cup sifted icing sugar with enough water to make a runny glaze, add in colouring and mix through.
Beat together butter and icing sugar. Slowly add in the cream and continue to beat until light and fluffy.
Spread buttercream onto one side and sandwich with another. Swirl each side in the glaze and then roll in desiccated coconut. Be prepared to get your hands messy for this one.
Adapted from https://justbakedbyme.wordpress.com/2012/01/30/vanilla-whoopie-pies/
My first guest post is by my blogger friend Henna of My Ninja Naan. Somehow, somewhere in this big blogosphere, our paths collided and we’ve been good friends ever since. While we’ve never met or have spoken face to face (type to type is how we roll, lol) we keep in touch often. Henna is a great friend, her recipes are even greater, if you haven’t already checked out her blog you are missing out. I could go for some of this chocolate ice cream right now.
Today Henna has made M&M Cookies to share. How good do they look? I wish she lived close by.
Salaam and Hello All!
My name is Henna and I blog about my love for all things culinary over at My Ninja Naan. I met Faaiza some time back, and since then we have gotten to know each other on a very personal level. Alhumdullilah, praise be to God, for the connections and relationships that we make with others in all corners of the world through blogging, something that many of us consider a hobby.
The recipe that I am sharing with you today is something that the little ones in your life would enjoy both creating and eating- m&m Cookies! My son, who is now 3 ½, loves to help out in the kitchen whenever possible. Although it can get messy, I love pulling up a stool to our counters and letting him get involved. The excitement that comes from creating, and then waiting for the end results, are so worth any amount of mess 🙂
Go ahead and give these a shot, I’m sure you and your children will not be disappointed 🙂
And lastly, thank you Faaiza for this opportunity! I pray that you and your family have a wonderful trip to India, and that you return safe and sound. Can’t wait to read all about your adventures!
Yield: 1 to 1 ½ Dozen Cookies
· ½ cup unsalted butter
· ½ cup brown sugar
· ¼ cup sugar
· 1 egg
· ¾ teaspoon vanilla
· 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
· ½ teaspoon baking soda
· ½ teaspoon salt
· 1 cup + more for topping, candy-coated chocolate pieces
In a large bowl, combine butter, brown sugar, sugar, egg, and vanilla. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add all-purpose flour, baking soda, and salt and mix on medium-low speed until thoroughly combined.
Fold in candies, and drop tablespoons of dough, spaced at least 3 inches apart, on an ungreased baking sheet. Gently push a few candies onto the tops of each ball of dough. Refrigerate baking sheets for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Bake cookies for 9 to 11 minutes, until the edges are golden brown. Cool completely on trays.