The Best of 2018

Tonight, from Manchester, I raise my bowl of salad to one heck of a memorable year.

2018 goes down in my personal history book as 100% major.  It’s been one of those years where I feel blessed far beyond what I even knew to ask for.  It’s been filled with gracious opportunity and a lot of hard work.

There have been highs and lows, lots of learning, some tears and plenty of of goodies have come out of my oven, both here and back home.

My phone has been stolen. My laptop’s hard drive has been corrupted. I got a job. I quit my job. Lots of family drama and other unpleasant stuff unfolded. But today we remember and appreciate all the nice things.

Looking through my photos made me realize how much has happened and how quickly time has gone by.

So here it is, my highlights from 2018:

#1

Oh the anticipation of traveling internationally for the very first time ALONE!

I’d been abroad before but never without my parents and siblings so you can imagine my excitement anxiety.

 

#2

Not having to share a washroom, a bedroom or any room for that matter with any of my many sisters is a MAJOR highlight for me xD

 

#3

The year I baked my first cheesecake!

And made truffles.

And ate a lot of berries.

 

#4

The Brathay trip.

The trip of a lifetime.

 

Rowing on one of the most beautiful lakes of the world, Lake Windermere, taking the ‘leap of faith’, and doing all sorts of other wild activities I never would have imagined myself doing.

#5

Meeting some awesome people and making some AMAZING friends from all over the world.

 

#6

Falling in love with the beauty of autumn.

7

#7

Experiencing the magic of Christmas.

 

#8

Exploring London with my crazy Russian best friend.  

 

#9

Visiting the infamous Dominique Ansel Bakery, and FINALLY trying the mighty ‘cronut’. A moment I’d been dreaming of ever since its creation.

The first bite was magical.

I’m swooning just thinking about it.

 

#10

The day I met Cupcake Jemma!!

Major fan moment!

My heart was thumping. My palms were clammy. We talked. I told her my sisters and I were huge fans. We took a photo (which came out horrid). And then I tried some of Crumbs and Doilies mini cupcakes.

A day I can relive over and over again.

 

I might have gone and visited her again. O.o #stalkerandproud 

#11

My first roller coaster ride at the Winter Wonderland in London.

It only took about two minutes, but the experience will stay with me forever. It was raining and I was laughing and crying.

The whole experience was just exhilarating! And nauseating.

 

#12

My first football match.

Though not a sports fan, I wouldn’t mind going again and again.

I loved the electric atmosphere and the excitement you feel with every pass, tackle and goal!

#13

And the highlight that made all the above highlights possible; being awarded the British Chevening Scholarship.

I am incredibly honored to be given this opportunity, to be one among the 1800 scholars out of 65,000 individuals who applied.

It still feels surreal.

 

Every time I walk through the campus feels surreal.

 

me outside campus

Thank you Chevening for giving me Manchester.

#14

Last but not the least, the highlight of not just this year but forever; having my laser eye surgery done.

It’s quite possibly the best thing I’ve ever done. It’s changed my life, my confidence, and my happiness. I am SO glad I took the leap and finally got it done. 

Huge thanks to my mother for pushing me to get it done (and my father for financing it :p). ❤ ❤

I am incredibly grateful for all that has come my way this year and I want to thank you for sharing this journey with me. Your response to my Instastories makes my day.

Thank you for all of the love and support.

Happy New Year.

Love,

Noor

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Deep Dark Brownie Cookies

Here are six important (read: random) things you should know about me:

  1. I absolutely HATE talking on the phone! It takes me about three days to acknowledge the message before I even think about replying. It’s nothing personal. I’m just not very good on the phone.

  2. The early-morning hours are my favorite and most productive time of the day.

  3. It took me three times to pass Math’s in eighth grade. I get frustrated just thinking about it.

  4. I freeze up and turn completely silent in certain stressful situations or when I am nervous around someone in particular.

  5. I love cheeseball 90’s movies. My favorites are: the Runaway Bride, and the Parent Trap. I could watch these a million times…and I may have done so by now

  6. I am addicted to chocolate.

Which brings us to…

Extra thick, extra fudgy and completely irresistible brownie cookies.

This recipe is defined by its triple dose of chocolate.

Extra thick, extra fudgy and completely irresistible brownie cookies. #brownies #cookies #triplechocolate

These deep dark brownie cookies are a chocolate lover’s dream, my dream.

They are thick and fudgy just like brownies.

They have an intense chocolate flavor and are full of walnut chunks and gooey bits of chocolate.

And they taste out.of.this.world!

DSC04066

Extra thick, extra fudgy and completely irresistible brownie cookies. #brownies #cookies #triplechocolate

Extra thick, extra fudgy and extra chocolaty.

And they’re super easy to make too!

The dough is made with a generous amount of cocoa powder and melted dark chocolate to give the cookies a deep chocolate flavor and very dark color. I recommend using chocolate having 70% or above cocoa solids (preferably Lindt) for that rich dark taste.

 

I recommend chilling the dough for at least one hour so that the cookies won’t spread too much while baking. If the dough is too hard to handle when you take it out of the fridge, let it sit at room temperature for 15-30 minutes.

Baking time is also very important! Bake the cookies just to the point when the edges start to set. I like to slightly underbake my cookies for extra fudginess and softness. Overbaking will make them dry. Baking time in my oven is exactly 12 minutes, don’t bake them more than 14 minutes. Keep in mind that baking time is different if you bake bigger or smaller cookies than what the instructions suggest.

If you’re addicted to chocolate just like me then you’ll love these cookies!

Deep Dark Brownie Cookies

 Yields: 12 cookies
Ingredients:
·         100g dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
·         ½ cup all-purpose flour
·         2 ½ Tablespoons process cocoa powder
·         ½ teaspoon baking powder
·         Pinch of salt
·         2 ½ Tablespoons (36g) butter, softened to room temperature
·         ¼ cup + 2 Tablespoons packed brown sugar
·         2 Tablespoons granulated white sugar
·         1 large egg, at room temperature
·         ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
·         ½ cup chopped walnuts
·         ¼ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Directions:
  1. Melt the chocolate in the microwave in 20 second increments, stirring after each until completely melted. Set aside to slightly cool.
  2. In a bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt together. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl using an electric mixer, beat the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar together on medium-high speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla extract, and beat on high speed until combined, about 1 minute. Pour in the slightly cooled melted chocolate and mix on medium speed until combined.
  4. On low speed, add the dry ingredients. Turn the mixer up to medium-high speed and beat until combined. Finally, beat in the walnuts and chocolate chips. Cover and chill the dough for at least 60 minutes in the refrigerator.
  5. Preheat oven to 180°C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  6. Roll the dough into balls, about 1.5 Tablespoons of dough each. Place 3 inches apart on the baking sheets and bake for 11-12 minutes or until the edges appear set. The centers will look a little soft.
  7. Remove from the oven and allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Notes
1.       The longer the dough chills, the thicker the cookies will be.
2.      If chilling for longer than a few hours, allow to sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before rolling and baking because the dough will be quite hard.

 

 

Molten Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cookies so good I’ve made them three times already!

Chocolate chip cookies packed with dark chocolate which melt into the most gorgeous glistening pools of molten chocolate. #chocolate #cookies #recipe

 

These are the best chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever had. Period. Why you may ask?

  • No fancy ingredients needed, only the basics; butter, sugar, flour, egg

  • No electric mixer required. Just a whisk, saucepan, and some mixing bowls.

  • No chocolate chips. We use bars of dark chocolate chopped into gorgeous shards and chunks; some big, some small. That way your warm cookies have pools of molten chocolate instead of just tiny chocolate bits.

They’re soft and gooey in the middle with a perfectly chewy edge. And my favorite part: they’re packed with dark chocolate which melts into the most gorgeous glistening pools of molten chocolate.

The best thing about using chocolate bars instead of chocolate chips is that your warm cookies have pools of molten chocolate and not just tiny chocolate bits.Chocolate chip cookies packed with dark chocolate which melt into the most gorgeous glistening pools of molten chocolate. #chocolate #cookies #recipe

These cookies can be whipped up quickly, they taste AMAZING, they have the perfect texture, and I don’t see why you shouldn’t make them.

Chocolate chip cookies packed with dark chocolate which melt into the most gorgeous glistening pools of molten chocolate. #chocolate #cookies #recipeChocolate chip cookies packed with dark chocolate which melt into the most gorgeous glistening pools of molten chocolate. #chocolate #cookies #recipe

 

NOTES

  • Use the best dark chocolate you can find. I recommend using either Bournville or Lindt Dark 70%. The slightly bitter edge balances the cookie sweetness perfectly.

  • Chop the dark chocolate roughly. The larger the chunk, the easier it will spread into a molten pool of chocolate.

  • I recommend chilling the dough for at least 20 minutes before baking. Chilling gives the dough time to rest and helps develop the flavor. It also prevents the cookies from spreading too much. The colder the dough, the thicker the cookies!

  • Dough can also be chilled overnight. The next morning, allow it to sit at room temperature just long enough so that you can scoop it and bake for an extra 2-3 minutes.

  • These cookies are perfect for when cravings strike. Seal cookie dough balls in a ziplock bag and stash in the freezer for up to three months. Bake frozen cookie dough balls for an extra two minutes, no need to thaw.

  • When baking, the cookies tend to expand a lot so be sure to space the cookie dough balls apart.

  • This recipe makes 14 cookies; I have halved the original recipe. But you can easily double the recipe it if you want to make more.

The best thing about using chocolate bars instead of chocolate chips is that your warm cookies have pools of molten chocolate and not just tiny chocolate bits.The best thing about using chocolate bars instead of chocolate chips is that your warm cookies have pools of molten chocolate and not just tiny chocolate bits.

BEST COOKIES EVER

aaand I’m out.

Molten Chocolate Chip Cookies

 Yields: 14 cookies
Ingredients:
·         1/2 cup / 113g unsalted butter chopped
·         1 ½ cup + 2 Tablespoons / 208g all-purpose flour
·         ½ teaspoon baking powder 
·         ½ teaspoon baking soda
·         ½ teaspoon salt
·         ¾ cup / 160g packed brown sugar 
·         ¼ cup / 50g granulated sugar
·         1 large egg
·         1 teaspoon vanilla
·         6 ounces / 170g semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped into large chunks
·         Sea salt for sprinkling, optional
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 180˚C. Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper.
  2. In a medium saucepan over a very low heat, heat the butter until it is just melted.
  3. Chop your chocolate and set aside.
  4. In large bowl, whisk together your dry ingredients: the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  5. Pour the melted butter into a different large bowl and whisk in the white and brown sugar. It may look very weird and greasy, but keep mixing, it will smooth out after you’ve stirred it for a bit. Add in the egg and vanilla. Whisk till combined.
  6. Add your dry ingredients to the wet mixture and combine all together using a spatula. Once blended, add the chopped chocolate and mix until just combined.
  7. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest for at least 20-30 minutes in the fridge – preferably overnight.
  8. Make the dough into golf-ball sized balls (about 3 tablespoons per cookie) and bake for 10-14 minutes, rotating the pan about half way through baking. (Colder dough takes longer to bake.) Cookies should be puffed up and have nice golden edges.
  9. Leave cookies on cookie sheet for a few minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack. They will deflate a little. Store in an airtight container.
Recipe adapted from Seven Spoons My Favorite Recipes for Any and Every Day by Tara O’Brady

 

Everything you need to know about the Chevening Scholarship

In response to the multitude of questions I’ve gotten on how I received the British Chevening Scholarship, I’ll be explaining the scholarship application process here using my own application as a guideline. I hope this helps and I sincerely hope you apply.

What is Chevening?

Chevening is the UK government’s most prestigious scholarship award coordinated by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and managed by the British High Commission across the Commonwealth countries.

The selection criteria for Chevening Scholarships are aimed to identify “high-caliber graduates with the personal, intellectual and interpersonal qualities necessary for leadership.” You will need to be able to demonstrate all of the following mentioned skills at each step of the application:

  • Personal, intellectual and interpersonal qualities necessary for leadership in home country.
  • Motivation to develop career in order to establish a position of leadership within 10 years.
  • A clear post Scholarship plan, outlining career objectives and how to achieve them.
  • Commitment to networking to find global solutions.
  • Commitment to networking within Chevening community, and alumni network in home country.
  • Use studies and experience in UK to benefit themselves, their country and the UK.
  • Able to successfully complete proposed course of study in the UK.

Specific selection criteria varies from country to country.

Selection Criteria for Pakistan

By researching the Chevening alumni and the list of awardees for this year, I have found that the subject areas most favored in Pakistan are:

  • Cultural studies
  • Development
  • Education
  • Environment and sustainability
  • Law; human rights
  • Management
  • Medical sciences; healthcare
  • Science and Technology

Specifically these are the courses that this year’s awardees are studying:

  • Computer Science
  • Conflict Security and Development
  • Counter Terrorism
  • Criminology
  • Development Administration and Planning
  • Development Studies
  • Economics Politics and Public Policy
  • Education
  • Education and International Development
  • Endocrinology
  • Financial Management
  • Gender Studies and Law
  • Global Health
  • Global Political Economy
  • Governance Development and Public Policy
  • Innovation Management
  • International Accounting and Financial Management
  • International Development
  • International Planning and Sustainable Development
  • International Relations and Security
  • LLM
  • LLM Human Rights
  • Media Practice for Development and Social Change
  • Neuroscience
  • Public Administration
  • Public Financial Management
  • Public Policy

As evident, law and development studies are some of the most popular choices.

You must remember that Chevening focuses on developing international relations amongst the Commonwealth countries so your chosen course of study must align with that goal. It can’t be something like a Masters in Fashion Designing or Architecture. Chevening focuses on building future leaders who can come back to their home country and work to bring change and instill development.

So first things first; decide what you would like to study, how your past experience supports that, and how it aligns with your future goals.

WORK EXPERIENCE

This is the part I get the most questions about.

‘Is two years’ work experience mandatory?’

‘I’ll have two years of experience by the March next year, will that be okay?’

‘How did you get the scholarship if you only graduated last year?’

‘Does voluntary work count?’

‘I was a member of the OC teams at my universities MUN and other events, does that count?’

Yes, work experience counts. Yes, minimum of two years’ work experience is mandatory!

There’s a part in the application where you have to enter the exact number of hours you have worked, there’s no skipping that part.

Now the kind of work can vary. It doesn’t have to be two full years at one work place. It can be different kinds of work for different periods of time but they must all join up to make two years’ worth of experience.

According to the Chevening website:

“The types of work experience that are eligible for Chevening can include:

  • Full-time employment
  • Part-time employment
  • Voluntary work
  • Paid or unpaid internships
  • Work experience can be completed before, during, or after graduating from your undergraduate studies.

Employment undertaken as part of your undergraduate or postgraduate course are not eligible.”

While you can’t count work you did at your university (class projects, school events/conferences/MUNs), you can mention them in your essays. For example, I mentioned being the Director of Broadcasting of the Job Fair and being a member of the various MUNs in my leadership and networking essays but I did not count them as my work experience.

Important!

What will make your application stronger is if your work experience and all your extracurriculars support your desired course of study.

It’s true I only graduated last year. It’s true I only worked an ‘office job’ for 3 months after I graduated. So how did I magically get the scholarship despite no work experience? That’s because my intended course of study was ‘entrepreneurship’ and I had two entrepreneurial ventures to back it up. Spatula in my Pocket and Nuts about Donuts may sound like just another Facebook page to some, or just a hobby to others but they are purely entrepreneurial in nature; started by me, run by me. And that’s how I built my application based on two of my own ventures.

You need to realize that if you run a Facebook page too, featuring your photography or your arts and crafts, but you’re applying to study law or environment sustainability you cannot use those pages to support your application. Your work experience must support your study goals.

In the end, what will make your application stronger is when your work experience and all your extracurricular activities support your desired course of study.

 

APPLICATION TIPS

Here are my tips for getting started with your application:

1.Decide on your course of study and then research the heck out of it. All the universities that offer it in the UK, the faculty, the modules, electives, entry requirements… everything.

Find out what matters to you, what you want to do in your life. You need to choose three courses. All three of your courses can be from the same university or you can choose the same course at three different universities.

Also, don’t forget to research the city as much as the university itself. Would you be comfortable living in a big and expensive city like London or do you prefer something smaller like the quaint city of Bournemouth?

I chose University of Manchester as my first choice because:

  1. The Entrepreneurship program here is ranked as number one in the entire UK
  2. Manchester is known as the city of innovation
  3. Manchester is also known as the student city of UK since there are SO many students all from diverse backgrounds
  4. You get the true “international” experience
  5. It is relatively cheaper than other cities like London

2.Gather all your work experience details and extracurricular activities in one word document. This should include everything you have done in your life that matters; any events you may have participated in, any conferences/workshops you may have attended or helped organized during your college years or after. Were you a teacher’s assistant, a class representative (CR), best intern, employee of the month…any of these, just write them down.

3.Start working on your essays as soon as possible. Do not leave them for the week before the deadline. It takes time to perfect them and trust me these essays count ALOT. Write, edit, review, get someone else to review them too.

More information can be found here >> http://www.chevening.org/apply/eligibility-criteria

—————————————————————————————————————————————–

Some additional questions:

Can PhD students apply?

PhD students can unfortunately not apply.

The courses you choose must be:

  • Full-time
  • Start in the autumn term (usually September/October)
  • Taught master’s (i.e. not research-focused MRes programmes)
  • Lead to a master’s degree qualification
  • Based in the UK

Courses cannot be:

  • Distance learning
  • Part-time
  • Less than nine months in duration
  • More than 12 months in duration
  • PhD or DPhil are not permitted
  • Taught with more than one month of study outside the UK

Do you need to have a good GPA?

I think Chevening focuses more on the experience and the skills. A good GPA does help but a 4.0 isn’t necessary.

Is the scholarship fully funded?

Yes it is.  It comprises of:

  • Payment of tuition fees (see point 1.2.a in relation to MBA fee caps)
  • Economy travel to and from your country of residence by an approved route for you only
  • An arrival allowance
  • The cost of an entry clearance (visa) application for you only
  • A departure allowance
  • A contribution of up to £75 for TB testing, where this is required
  • A travel top up allowance
  • A monthly personal living allowance (stipend) to cover accommodation and living expenses.

 

Exciting news!

SPATULA IN MY POCKET IS MOVING TO ENGLAND!!!

Specifically…Manchester!

In just 5 days!

And I’m thrilled to finally tell you all about it today!  😄 Seriously, it has been killing me to keep this to myself all this time.  My trustees told me not to say a word till the final award letter was here, and then ‘not till you get the visa’, and THEN ‘not till you book your ticket’!

But I’m happy to say that my plan is now officially a go, and in just five days, I’ll be flying across the ocean to my new life in Manchester.  And I cannot wait to get this adventure started.

 

I’ve been dreaming to study in the UK since I was about six when I first started reading Enid Blyton books and fell in love with girl boarding schools. And then came the Great British Bake-Off and I fell in love with Britain all over again. I dream of visiting the Dominique Ansel Bakery, roaming the streets of the Northern Quater, taking pastry classes at Le Cordon Bleu, and studying in a country where there is so much to explore and do.

And in just a few days, I will be making that dream a reality.

I am going to the University of Manchester to pursue a Masters in Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship fully sponsored by the British Chevening Scholarship Program.

DSC04097

Chevening is a UK government international award, which sponsors developing global leaders in obtaining a Masters degree at any British university. This program is financed by Foreign and Commonwealth office and is oriented at future leaders, influencers and decision makers from all over the globe.

After an almost year-long agonizing selection process, I am incredibly honored to be chosen as the youngest Chevening Scholar from Pakistan for the year 2018/2019!

Right now, I think it’s safe to say that I am officially feeling all the feels.

I can’t wait to be swept up in the newness of a brand new place with so much to explore and so many new memories to be made. I am just feeling incredibly excited and lucky that I have the opportunity to take an adventure like this. And more than anything, I am super excited to visit all the donut shops I’ve been stalking on Instagram all these years xD

That said, it’s also sinking in just how much I am going to miss my friends and family here back in Pakistan.  And how much life I am going to miss out on here while I am away.

With each passing day, though, the reality of this amazing adventure ahead is starting to feel more and more real.  And I absolutely can’t wait to get there and get it all started!!!  So thank you in advance for following along on the blog and coming there with me and making this entire journey possible. This scholarship would definitely not have been possible if wasn’t for your love and support that made Spatula in My Pocket what it is today.

I can’t wait to write and share all about my adventures, the wonderful people, places, and food I discover along the way. (Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram!)

Love you all and thank you!

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Banana Chocolate Chip Pancakes

This is the ultimate recipe for the ultimate stack of pancakes, sweetened with bananas, and loaded with melty gooey chocolate chips.

the ultimate recipe for the ultimate stack of pancakes, sweetened with bananas, and loaded with melty gooey chocolate chips.

Confession: Breakfast is my least favorite meal of the day. 

I’ve had a cup of plain coffee every single morning for as long as I remember.

Don’t get me wrong, I love breakfast food: pancakes, waffles, omelets, scrambled eggs! I’d eat “breakfast food” for 90% of my meals. But I just don’t like eating at breakfast time. 

I’d much rather have an omelet for lunch, granola for snack, and a stack of waffles for dinner.

And these pancakes, these gorgeous banana chocolate chip studded pancakes, I could have at any time of the day.

These are seriously everything!

 

The ultimate recipe for the ultimate stack of pancakes, sweetened with bananas, and loaded with melty gooey chocolate chips. #banana #chocolatechip #pancakes

Extra fluffy, soft, slightly sweet from the bananas, slightly bittersweet from the chocolate, perfectly golden brown.

In short, these pancakes are a blessing from the heavens.

The ultimate recipe for the ultimate stack of pancakes, sweetened with bananas, and loaded with melty gooey chocolate chips. #banana #chocolatechip #pancakes

I, sometimes, intentionally set aside 3-4 bananas and let them ripe just so that I can make these pancakes or my banana chocolate chip bread.

Whoever first thought of pairing up bananas and chocolate chips deserves a wildly prestigious prize in my book.

The ultimate recipe for the ultimate stack of pancakes, sweetened with bananas, and loaded with melty gooey chocolate chips. #banana #chocolatechip #pancakes

Making these pancakes is incredibly simple and if you want your pancakes to be as scrumptious as mine, I suggest you read the following tips along with the written recipe.

BANANA CHOCOLATE CHIP PANCAKE TIPS:

  • Use slightly over ripe bananas. The riper the bananas, the sweeter they are.

  • DON’T OVERMIX: Mix the batter just until you see no more streaks of flour. It will be slightly lumpy. If you overmix the pancake batter your pancakes will turn out dense.

  • Make sure your frying pan/griddle is hot before adding the pancake batter.

  • Cook on low-medium heat to ensure that the pancake gets cooked in the middle and develops a crisp golden brown “crust” on the top.

If these next two pictures don’t make you seriously consider why you aren’t in your kitchen right this second making these pancakes, I don’t know what will.

DSC03599The ultimate recipe for the ultimate stack of pancakes, sweetened with bananas, and loaded with melty gooey chocolate chips. #banana #chocolatechip #pancakes

This is a recipe you’re going to want to hold onto forever.

Banana Chocolate Chip Pancakes

Serves: 4
Ingredients:
1 1⁄2 cups flour
1 Tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1⁄2 teaspoon cinnamon powder
1 1⁄4 cups milk, at room temperature
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil or melted butter
1⁄2 cup banana, mashed (3 small)
1 egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1⁄2 cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips, divided
Directions:
1.      Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and cinnamon in a large bowl.
2.      In another bowl whisk together the milk, oil, banana, egg and vanilla.
3.      Combine the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.
4.      Fold in 1/4 cup chocolate chips.
5.      Heat a non-stick frying pan or a griddle, greased lightly with oil on medium heat. Pour 1/4-1/3 cup of batter per pancake on to the pan. Scatter some chocolate chips on top.
6.      When the top looks slightly dry and bubbles have appeared, flip the pancake and cook the other side for another minute or until golden.
7.      Prepare remaining pancake batter as directed greasing pan with more oil if needed.
8.      Stack the pancakes, top them with maple syrup if desired and tuck in.

 

Homemade Churros with Chocolate Sauce

Call me crazy but I find frying things oddly satisfying.

Which might explain why I am able to survive ten hour donut shifts in front of the fryer in this heat o.o

.

.

.

With frying comes sweat and I mean ALOT of sweat. But the end result always makes it worth it.

After you take the first bite of be it a donut or a churro, the sweat and all your fried oil guilt *poof* disappears.

Crispy, golden churros rolled in cinnamon and sugar and dunked in a dark chocolate sauce #churros

Churros are strips of dough deep-fried until they become crunchy, sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon, and served with warm chocolate sauce.

These Spanish/Mexican concoctions are addicting!

You won’t be able to stop at one. Also, they make a great snack to share with friends and family when watching the telly or just hanging out.

Crispy, golden churros rolled in cinnamon and sugar and dunked in a dark chocolate sauce #churros

IMPORTANT

If you do not own a piping bag or a piping tip, that does NOT mean that you can’t make homemade churros.

No piping bag?

No problem. Use a plastic ziplock bag instead (easily available in all superstores, check the foil and cling wrap section)

No piping tip?

No problem. A piping tip isn’t essential, it just gives the churros their signature textured lines. You can just snip off the end of your piping bag or ziplock bag and pipe straight from it.

No thermometer?

No problem. Preheat your oil for minimum 10 minutes on high heat (thats how long it takes it to reach 190 degrees Celsius). Fry on medium heat. And then in between batches crank up the heat again because the drops very quickly as soon as you put the churros in.

Crispy, golden churros rolled in cinnamon and sugar and dunked in a dark chocolate sauce #churros

This churros recipe might be different than anything you’ve ever made.

There will be several points throughout this recipe where you might curse my name, especially when you’ll have to exert every bit of energy you have in mixing the dough and then some when piping them into the hot oil.

You might also curse me when your piping bag bursts open because of the pressure (the dough is That thick) which is why I’m telling you beforehand to scotch tape the piping bag around the piping nozzle/tip two to three times. Just to be safe.

You’ll get through it and I promise you’ll love me when you bite into your first warm delicious churro dripping with dark melty chocolate.

Crispy, golden churros rolled in cinnamon and sugar and dunked in a dark chocolate sauce #churros

This is what you should end up with.

Stodgy, white dough.  

Crispy, golden churros rolled in cinnamon and sugar and dunked in a dark chocolate sauce #churros

You’ll need a large star piping tip and a piping bag, or a big ZipLock bag. And a knife!

You squeeze the dough in the form of strips onto a parchment paper, and slice it off with the knife. Doing this:

  1. makes it much easier to plop them in 3-4 at a time instead of squeezing them straight into the hot oil one by one

  2. that way chances of burning your fingers are less

Crispy, golden churros rolled in cinnamon and sugar and dunked in a dark chocolate sauce #churros

Fry till golden brown. Toss in cinnamon and sugar. 

Crispy, golden churros rolled in cinnamon and sugar and dunked in a dark chocolate sauce #churros

Dip them in chocolate and hallelujah!

Dip em once, dip em twice or maybe even thrice.

Crispy, golden churros rolled in cinnamon and sugar and dunked in a dark chocolate sauce #churros

Now you don’t need to go to Disneyland to eat churros. You can make them at home anytime you want. How cool is that!

Crispy, golden churros rolled in cinnamon and sugar and dunked in a dark chocolate sauce #churros

If you try this recipe, please let me know! Leave a comment, tag a photo #spatulainmypocket on Instagram so I can see it.

Cheers!

 

Churros with Chocolate Sauce

Prep Time: 20 minutes                      Yields: 10-15 (4 inch) churros, more if you’re making them smaller
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Ingredients:
For the Churros
1 cup water
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 quarts oil for frying
1/2 cup fine white/castor sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
For the Chocolate Sauce
100g dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup (125 ml) cream
Equipment
 a thermometer; a heavy-duty plastic piping bag or a ziplock bag; a large star piping tip (such as Wilton #2110)*
Directions:
CHURROS
Stir water, sugar, salt, and vegetable oil in a small saucepan and put on the stove over medium heat. Bring to a boil and remove from heat. Add in the flour and mix together with a wooden spoon until it forms a cohesive dough.
Heat oil at 375 degrees F (190 C) for deep-frying.
While waiting for the oil to heat up, line a baking sheet with parchment/wax paper. Fill a piping bag lined with a large open star piping tip, with dough and pipe strips onto the baking sheet. Use a pair of kitchen scissors or a knife to cut off the strips at around 4-6 inches, depending on how long you want your churros to be. I like them small.
Set out a plate lined with paper towels for draining.
When the oil has heated up, drop in churros 4 or 5 at a time. Be sure to keep an eye on the temperature, keeping it as close to 375 as possible (it drops very quickly). Fry until golden, around 1-2 minutes. Remove from the oil and set on paper towels to drain.
Combine sugar and cinnamon in a bowl and toss churros in the mixture.
Serve the churros with the warm chocolate sauce (recipe below).
Best when eaten immediately.
CHOCOLATE SAUCE
Place the chopped chocolate in a small bowl.
Warm the cream in small saucepan or the microwave for 20 seconds. (Do not let it boil.) Pour the cream over the chopped chocolate. Let it sit for 1 minute then stir to combine.
Notes:
*if you don’t have any of the equipment mentioned, kindly check substitutes mentioned in the post description above

Best All-Cocoa Brownies

I’m baaaack…..

It’s been a long time since I posted anything but I promise that I had good reason – which I’ll get to later.

First can we just stop, wait a minute and admire the gorgeousness that this brownie is!

A Rich, fudgy, ALL cocoa brownie. #chocolate #brownies #fudge #spatulainmypocket

Look at that fudge.

Look at that shine.

Look at the corky piece of walnut peeking through.

Doesn’t it make you want to sink your teeth into it right now? 

A Rich, fudgy, ALL cocoa brownie. #chocolate #brownies #fudge #spatulainmypocket

These brownies have become my go-to brownies because they are THE best. 

They’re extremely dense, fudgy, chewy and have NO chocolate in them. That’s right, not a single square!

I almost wept with joy upon biting into my first, straight from the oven (hence the unruly cuts), square of deep dark chocolate deliciousness. I’m swooning just thinking about them.

A Rich, fudgy, ALL cocoa brownie. #chocolate #brownies #fudge #spatulainmypocket

I found the recipe on kitchn.com and was drawn to its name ‘Pantry Cocoa Brownies’ which is very apt because they really do just call for ingredients that I’m sure all of us have in our kitchens – oil, sugar, eggs, flour, and cocoa.

Nothing extra!

No need to worry about buying copious amounts of dark chocolate or melting pounds of butter or making buttermilk.

A Rich, fudgy, ALL cocoa brownie.  #chocolate #brownies #fudge #spatulainmypocket

These fudgy chocolatey bars of goodness take half an hour to make and another half an hour to bake.

That’s an hour well spent I’d say especially considering you’ll have an entire batch of devilishly good brownies at the end of it.

The smell of chocolate wafting through your entire house is an added plus.

A Rich, fudgy, ALL cocoa brownie. #chocolate #brownies #fudge #spatulainmypocket

There are two things to note about the recipe:

  1. I’ve added half a cup of chopped walnuts, they’re totally optional though. I personally love nutty and crunchy bits in my brownie. The original recipe does not call for any nuts.

  2. The original recipe does however call for powdered sugar instead of normal granulated sugar. If you don’t have powdered sugar on hand, you can grind normal granulated sugar in a blender or food processor. But decrease the amount slightly because as compared to powdered sugar, granulated sugar is heavier in weight.

A Rich, fudgy, ALL cocoa brownie.  #chocolate #brownies #fudge #spatulainmypocket

With that out of the way, make them and let them blow your mind.  

Cheers – Noor

Cocoa Brownies

Prep Time: 30 minutes                                                                   Yields: 9 large or 16 small squares
Cook Time: 25-30 minutes
Ingredients:
2/3 cup canola oil
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 1/3 cups icing sugar*
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Directions:
1.       Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
2.      Grease a 9-inch square baking pan and line I with wax or parchment paper. Set aside.
3.      Place the oil into a microwave-safe bowl and heat in 4 to 6 (5-second) bursts until it is warm but not hot. Add the cocoa powder and whisk until completely smooth and combined. Let sit for 4 or 5 minutes so the cocoa can bloom.
4.      In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
5.      In another bowl, place the eggs, powdered sugar, and brown sugar. Using a handheld mixer, beat on medium speed until fluffy and lighter in color. Beat in the vanilla until just combined.
6.      Add 1/2 of the cocoa mixture to the egg mixture and mix at medium-high speed until it is shiny and fully combined, about 2-3 minutes.
7.      Next, add in the flour mixture to the egg and cocoa mixture and mix at low speed until fully combined. Add the remaining cocoa mixture and mix at medium-high speed until the batter is shiny and fully combined, about 1 minute. Fold in the chopped walnuts.
8.      Transfer to the prepared baking pan.
9.      Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. You’ll know the brownies are done when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with a few crumbs attached (it shouldn’t be completely wet) and the brownies pull away from the edges of the pan.
10.   Let them cool (if you can help it ;)) before cutting into squares.
Notes
*If you don’t have icing/powdered sugar on hand, you can grind normal granulated sugar in a blender or food processor. But decrease the amount slightly because as compared to powdered sugar, granulated sugar is heavier in weight.
**Brownies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature or in the fridge for up to 2 days.
Recipe source: kitchn