Posted in Food sparks

Hello, Chocolate Mug Cake

I had read about these magical sounding chocolate puddings in a few different places on the internets recently. Put a few simple ingredients in a mug, pop it in the microwave for a minute or so and – hey, presto – out comes a delicious cake. Can’t argue with that for a quick and easy dessert. Or morning tea treat. Or midnight snack. Or, you know, breakfast. No judgement.

A little smaller than a normal mixing bowl...
A little smaller than a normal mixing bowl…

As always, Google generously provides about a bzillion recipes for cakes and puddings in mugs. I tried a chocolate peanut butter version last night, topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

And then there was cake.
And then there was cake.

The verdict? For a basic muggy dessert that microwaved in 1 minute 10 seconds, it was actually quite good. Definitely much better than I had expected. I have included the recipe that I used (from The Novice Chef blog) below – it’s well worth a try. Especially if you’re in rainy Sydney at the moment and need a bit of extra warmth!

When a cup of tea isn’t quite comforting enough, try a mug of cake, I say.

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[recipe from The Novice Chef blog]
Posted in Food sparks, Travel sparks

New York’s finest fro-yo

Really, I just like how people say fro-yo: a much cooler way to say frozen yoghurt, making it sound edgier and not at all like the low-fat alternative to ice cream. There are a few competing fro-yo chains here, but my cousin took me to the newest (and, according to most of the locals, the best) addition to the fro-yo scene here in NYC. It’s called 16 Handles, so can only presume they’re Molly Ringwald fans. Either that, or they are just very literal folk – there did appear to be 16 flavours of fro-yo.

I’ll let the creators explain what it’s all about, this “hands-on revolution”: 16 HANDLES is mixing things up and at the center of our frozen playground is you: an uncontainable, independent champion of your own taste. More of this, less of that—you want frozen yogurt your way and we’re all about it. With 16 rockin’ kosher certified flavors on tap daily, we provide you with a twisted canvas, your own fat-free backdrop of calcium, protein and probiotic goodness. At our mammoth toppings bar, you’ll find a world of possibilities, from wholesome berries to decadent sauces, that you handcraft into something uniquely yours. Welcome to the hands-on revolution.

Some of the 16 handles of flavours (and one of the topping bars).

Basically, you get a cup and fill it with whatever flavours you like by pulling the handles. Then, you can go to the topping bars and add whatever toppings you like – healthy things like fruits and nuts; or badder things like candy corn, peanut butter cups and gummi bears. It’s pretty much what I imagine heaven to be like at dessert time, to be honest (although with ice cream handles, rather than fro-yo).

Some of the handles – I tried peanut butter, apple pie, coffee and birthday cake. I could only actually taste the apple pie.
The fruit topping bar. I did take some maraschino cherries and chopped almonds.
I promise that I only took little chocolate-covered peanut butter cups from here. And only because they matched the peanut butter fro-yo, of course.
My creation.

So, the verdict: the consistency was fantastic and I really like the whole self-service concept and especially the topping bars. But the flavours weren’t strong, with the exception of the apple pie – which is maybe why they offer so many different toppings, so you can add flavour to the otherwise fairly tasteless low-fat fro-yo. Although that probably defeats the purpose, I guess. Anyways, I liked it and would definitely return, although the weather is starting to get chillier now so it feels more like time for ho-cho (that’s my cool new word for hot chocolate) rather than fro-yo.

The end.
Posted in Travel sparks

Plane speaking: Vegetarian desserts

I’ve had an issue with this for a while, but I’ve never said anything about it until now. Because although it’s made me cranky, it wasn’t until I was faced with this particular outrage on my recent flight to Dublin that I finally snapped. My issue is this: just because I order a vegetarian meal on a flight, that doesn’t mean I don’t eat dessert. Look, I’ll be honest – it doesn’t even really mean that I don’t eat meat, it’s more that I’m a bit fussy and figure it’s better to order a vego meal to be on the safe side. Well, that and I do like to feel a bit special.

Anyways, back to this particular outrage. The lovely Etihad lady went around the cabin handing out menus as we began our journey. I had no clue what time or day it was, so had completely forgotten that my vegetarian meal was pre-ordered – I looked through the menu at the delicious sounding options (of which one was even vegetarian) and started to get excited. And then I got to the dessert section and saw this:


Oh yeah. Banoffee Pie is one of my most favourite desserts in the whole wide world. So you can imagine how excited I was. But then my meal came (it wasn’t the amazing-sounding vegetarian option from the fancy menu, by the way) and I eagerly scanned the tray for my pie. But instead, I found this “dessert” waiting for me:

Uh huh. Not quite Banoffee Pie. I sobbed quietly to myself. Then 15 minutes later when my neighbour finally got his meal, I got a glimpse of what I had missed out on…I would have taken a photo of that, but I couldn’t focus through my tears. And he wolfed it down so quickly that I didn’t get a chance.

This always seems to happen to me – the airlines give fruit for vegetarian meal desserts (and it’s not even a strict vegan meal, it’s that lacto-ovo option, so surely that rules in most desserts?) instead of real sweet treats. But it’s never hit me as hard as this flight, when the Banoffee was so near and yet so far. It’s enough to make me cancel my vegetarian order for the flight home, just in case…