Kraftherine O’Dinnara

All up in Schitt's Creek Week, Main, Side, Snack

While Eug is the Schitt’s Creek cast member I have known the longest, my dear best friend Catherine O’Hara is the one I am closest to. And that isn’t meant to shade my relationships with the rest of the crew, but simply highlight how great a bond Cath and I share.

So obviously I met Cath when she joined the Second City troupe in Toronto, but our bond truly solidified when we worked together on the one-two punch that is Beetlejuice and Home Alone. You see, I was the stuntman for both Winona Ryder and Joe Pesci in the movies, and working together again gave Cath and I the opportunity to grow even closer on set.

That and the fact that I was so moved by her work on Home Alone, led to me dedicating my live to getting her the recognition she deserves. Aka an Oscar.

While my trips to rehab, multiple deportations and myriad of scandals have distracted me from that goal at times, we’ve always remained the best of friends and I was thrilled when Eug told me they were co-starring again in Schitt’s.

As expected, Cath was thrilled to drop by and celebrate the premiere with her bestie and to honour her greatest role yet as Queen Moira Rose. She was even thrilled to see a big vat of the delightfully Canadian meal, my famed Kraftherine O’Dinnara.

 

 

Does her name easily work with Kraft Dinner? No. Am I still unsure whether Kraft Dinner should be classed as a national dish of Canada (hey, Wikipedia says so … so it has to be – Canadians, please let me know if this is true in the comments)? Fuck no. Am I ashamed to admit how much I loved my copycat version? I’d sooner die!

So enjoy and feel no guilt, ok?

 

 

Kraftherine O’Dinnara
Serves: 4.

Ingredients
500g macaroni
⅓ cup butter, cut into chunks
3 tbsp flour
½ tsp mustard powder
pinch of paprika
salt and pepper, to taste
2 cups milk, to taste
1-2 cups grated vintage cheddar cheese
250g Kraft ‘cheese’ slices (aka American cheese), yes the plastic stuff (it’s fantastic)
6 hot dogs, cooked and sliced
tomato ketchup, to serve

Method
Cook macaroni per packet instructions.

Once you’ve drained the pasta, place the butter in the pot and melt over medium heat. Cook until foamy before adding in the flour, mustard powder, paprika and a good whack of salt and pepper. Cook stirring for a couple of minutes or until the roux has come together and the ‘flouriness’ has gone. Remove from the heat and whisk in the milk.

Return the pot to the heat and slowly whisk through the cheese and the ‘cheese’ until melted, goopy and well combined. Stir through the cooked macaroni and hot dog pieces, and serve immediately. Then, obvi, devour slathered in ketchup to taste.

 

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Pierogene Levy

All up in Schitt's Creek Week, Main, Party Food, Snack, Street Food, Tapas, Vegetarian

Given I am close with the entire cast of Schitt’s Creek, it was extremely difficult to decide who to bestow the honour of kicking off my celebration honouring their return to the screen. But like my girl Hizza Clinton before me, I am known for making hard choices when I need to, so picked up the phone to call the delightful Eugene Levy first.

I mean, it is only fitting that I kicked off the party with Eugene as he is the person I have known the longest. Eug and I first met whilst a part of Second City, Toronto and by a part of, I was his stand in when blocking performances given our eerily similar appearances.

While we drifted apart when I was deported from Canada – and therefore unable to appear on SCTV – we reconnected again in the ‘90s through my dear friend Tars. I was part of her entourage on the set of American Pie to get closer to Chris Klein – it was the ‘90s – but I was so thrilled to see Eug again that I abandoned my lust for Chris, and instead focused on making up for the lost years of our friendship.

Despite being extremely busy with other publicity commitments, he was so excited to come down under and mark season four in culinary form with his dearest friend.

“Ben, you really need to come visit when we’re filming next season. I could see Alexis having a long-lost twin and you have the perfect nature to pull off the role!”

“Eug, my love, I don’t know. I’m super busy at the moment, but it truly makes a lot of sense.”

Now I can’t tell you how that conversation ended for upcoming contractual reasons – hell, I shouldn’t have even mentioned how it began – I can tell you that my v. Canadian Pierogene Levy were the perfect snack to toast season four … and beyond.

 

 

Like Eugene, these babies are the perfect comforting slash celebratory snack. Warm and fluffy, and packed full of carb-y, cheesy goodness, you need to get these in your belly ASAP.

Warm apple pie my arse (… which is another embarrassing story of mine for another time).

Enjoy!

 

 

Pierogene Levy
Serves: 6.

Ingredients
1.5kg potato
6 shallots, roughly cut
200g ricotta cheese
100g cheddar cheese, grated
2 eggs
salt and pepper, to taste
40 gow gee wrappers

Method
Preheat oven to 180°C.

Peel and cut the potatoes quarters and place in a saucepan of salted water. Bring to the boil and cook until just tender, about five-ten minutes depending on their size. Drain the potatoes, transfer to a lined baking tray with the shallots and cook for a couple of minutes, or until all the moisture is gone. Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool for about fifteen minutes.

When the aggressive heat from the potatoes has gone, mash them until their mostly smooth. Add the ricotta, cheddar, eggs and a good whack of salt and pepper, and mix until thoroughly combined.

To make the pierogis, place the gow gee wrappers on a clean, dry bench and place a generous teaspoon of filling in the centre. Brush the edges with water and press the edges together, pleating as you go … to make them look as flash as a rat with gold teeth. Because, obvi.

When they’re all done, bring a large pot with about 1-inch of water to the boil and steam the pierogis for about ten minutes, give or take, or until they’re cooked through.

Devour, greedily, with sour cream or some hot sauce.

 

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Rachel Bloom’in Onion

Golden Globe Gold, Golden Globe Gold: Goldhood, Party Food, Side, Snack

I thought it was only fair to kick off our first Golden Globe Gold, Goldhood, by making up for my shade thrown at The CW yesterday. While their shows aren’t as critically beloved as other networks, it is easily my favourite US network given my love of teen drama, rom-coms and superheroes.

I am basic and proud.

Anyway, the jewel in The CW’s critical crown is without a doubt Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and its creator-writer-producer-star and Golden Globe winner, my dear friend Rachel Bloom. I’ve known Rach for years and years, meeting through our mutual friend Ilana Glazer when she took over my room in Il and my flat in BK.

Now I don’t want to say that Rach became obsessed with me and I inspired the character of Josh Chan, but well, I did. I moved from Brooklyn to West Covina, for some unknown reason, got deep into bubble tea and she followed me. While I awkwardly set her straight on the fact I was not in fact straight – I was running a scam trying to marry a wealthy older woman in NYC when we met – we were able to remain friends, she returned to NY and I encouraged her to turn it into a beloved comedy musical. Emphasis on beloved.

It was such a treat to kick off the new year with such a dear friend and strap in for the all important running of the odds. While it was bittersweet given the fact she was snubbed this year, she held her head high as we got to work discussing the female TV categories. She agreed that Nicole, Laura and Lis would all add a globe to their hauls for Big Little Lies for the former two and The Handmaid’s Tale for the latter (with it also taking out Best Drama), we did differ in her ex-category comedy. While she believes Frankie Shaw would continue the trend of a young ingenue taking out the gold, I think it is definitely the other Rachel’s to lose. When it comes to comedy series, I believe Master of None will get the recognition it deserves, though wouldn’t be shocked if this is where SMILF takes out a win.

As is oft the case, the discussion rendered us completely exhausted so it was lucky I’d whipped up a delightful – and DiazTwine family favourite – Rachel Bloom’in Onion.

 

 

As a founder and ex-co-owner of Outback Steakhouse, it is hard to call this recipe a copycat … though I was fired in controversial circumstances and can never talk about it again. Forget I said anything … though be thankful that this copycat I have no connection to creating is delicious.

Enjoy!

 

 

Rachel Bloom’in Onion
Serves: 1 pair of besties.

Ingredients
1 large white onion
2 ½ cups flour
2 tbsp paprika, plus ¼ tsp for sauce
1 tsp cayenne pepper, plus pinch for sauce
1 tsp garlic powder
½ teaspoon dried oregano, plus pinch for sauce
salt and pepper, to taste
2 eggs
2 cups milk
vegetable oil, for fryin’
½ cup mayonnaise
2 tsp ketchup
2 tsp horseradish cream
¼ tsp paprika

Method
Cut the top of the onion off and peel back the skin, making sure to keep the root area intact. Repeatedly slice down into the top of the onion, about 1cm apart, stopping just before the bottom to form your petals.

Combine the flour, paprika, cayenne, garlic powder and oregano in a bowl with a good whack of salt and pepper. In a second bowl, whisk the eggs and milk together.

Dip the onion into the flour mix to completely cover, shaking off excess like my frenemy Tay-Tay. Transfer to the egg-milk mixture and swirl around until completely coated before returning to the flour for one final coat. Transfer to the freezer for 30 minutes to set.

Fill a medium saucepan with 10cm of oil and heat to 200°C.

While everything is coming to temperature, combine the mayo, ketchup, horseradish, ¼ tsp each of paprika and salt, and pinches of cayenne and oregano in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Gently lower the onion in, open side down and allow to fry for 5 minutes or so, or until golden and opened. Flip and cook for a further couple of minutes. Transfer to a paper towel to drain off excess oil before serving with the dipping sauce … and devouring.

 

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Barney Marnhattan

12 days of Festivus for the rest of us, Drink

After kicking the 12 days of Festivus off on a joyous note with the divine Jason Alexander and then being brought back down to earth when checking in with the deceased Susan Ross’ portrayer Heids, I opted to whip out the time machine and check in with my dearly-departed pal Barney Martin.

While he was technically the second man to play Jerry’s dad, Barns will forever be the Morty in my heart.

I first met Barney on the set of The Golden Girls in the ‘80s and we became the fastest of friends, which led to me putting his name forward when they needed to recast Morts. I also got him cast on Full House with Cand as a gag.

As is oft the case when venturing back to hang with friends that have past, it was both uplifting and melancholic. Though it was exciting to pop on our best Morty Floridian shirts, have a laugh and enjoy a very, very festive Barney Marnhattan.

 

 

As my rapidly bloating liver can attest, 90% of Christmas is drinking so I couldn’t go past adding another festively flavour tipple on the menu. But seriously, how can you go wrong with the sticky sweet cherry and some bitters.

You can’t, so enjoy!

 

 

Barney Marnhattan
Serves: 1.

Ingredients
ice
2 ½ shots of bourbon
1 shot vermouth
a hearty dash bitters
maraschino cherries, to taste

Method
Fill a glass with ice.

Pour over the bourbon, vermouth and bitters.

Stir.

Add cherries.

Down.

Repeat.

 

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Brandy Jason Alexander

12 days of Festivus for the rest of us, Drink

While Seinfeld, as the name clearly suggests, is all about my friend Jerry Seinfeld, the great, wondrous holiday that is Festivus is all about the Costanzas. While yes, Frank was the creator of the blessed holiday – how many ways will I describe the holiday in the next 12 days? – I feel it is most appropriate to kick this celebration of with the delightful holiday Jason Alexander.

Jase is one of my oldest friends after meeting in ‘81 on the set of the hit TV movie Senior Trip. Annelie and I were part of Mickey Rooney’s entourage at the time but were both so moved by Jase’s performance in the bit-part – no small parts, just small actors etc. – that we vowed to make him an absolute star.

I think we can all agree that despite our questionable pasts, rehab and priz stints and aggressive feuds, the way we moulded Jason’s career truly is our opus.

Given how busy I’ve been since starting this anthropological study, I’ve barely had time to catch-up with my celebrity friends unless they’re keen to document it. And while Jason was always down for the career boost I offer, I wanted our date to be truly special.

And there is nothing more special than Festivus.

As soon as Jase arrived we were laughing like he’d snapped my fingers in a jewellery box – which coincidentally was inspired by us mucking around when he gave me some thank you jewels for the one-two punch of Seinfeld and Pretty Woman – catching-up on what he’s been up to lately and making a toast to our friendship slash the season, in the form of my Brandy Jason Alexander.

 

 

Now I know the great Ron Burgundy says milk is a bad choice in the heat and Brisbane is balls hot, but add some festive spice and a nip of brandy and you really can’t go past it. Trust me.

And that’s not a threat … but it’s also not not a threat.

Enjoy!

 

 

Brandy Jason Alexander
Serves: 1.

Ingredients
30ml brandy
30ml crème de cacao
30ml heavy cream
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg and cinnamon

Method
Shake the liquid in a cocktail shaker with ice, and pour into a chilled glass.

Garnish with nutmeg and cinnamon.

Down.

 

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Betty White Chocolate, Pumpkin and Walnut Cookie

Baking, Side, Snack, Sweets, Thankgiving for being a friend

Despite the fact my girl Betts is the only surviving Golden Girl, I applied yesterday’s logic with Rue – that she’d be upset if I disappeared after catching-up with Bea and Estelle – so decided to stick around in ‘87 to see out this year’s thanksgiving. Well, technically that year’s thanksgiving. But in lieu of this year’s.

Fuck – time travel can be a confusing bitch, no?

I’ve known Bet for years and years, after meeting on the set of Match Game in ‘63. Side note: based on how much fun we had, I suggested Ru do a version on Drag Race … and Snatch Game was born. You’re welcome.

While Betty and I talk on the phone every other day in the present day – I got super paranoid about a Golden curse in 2010/11 after Rue passed away a year after Bea, and she a year after Stell – we weren’t able to see as much of each other as we liked in the ‘80s. I mean, between my various crimes, scams and love affairs and her hit show, we were lucky to catch up once a month.

I rolled up on the lot for the fourth day in a row – talk about deja vu – as Betty raced into my arms for a hug.

“My dear Ben. I’ve missed you! It will be so wonderful to have my turn marking Thanksgiving with you.

“I’ve been so happy all day … Bea wanted to kill me!”

She burst out laughing while a fear gripped me … before I realised it wasn’t the present and she has outlasted the curse thus far. We gossiped and laughed as we drove back to her house. Both thankful, most of all, for each other’s company. And, obviously, my festively approved Betty White Chocolate, Pumpkin and Walnut Cookie.

 

 

Yes, cookie. In the singular – this was our first foray into the majesty of the skillet cookie. And dare I say it, we nailed it. Perfect spiced dough combined with the sticky sweet chocolate and pumpkin, and the earthiness of the nuts join together for a perfectly festive dessert.

I mean, how can you not be thankful for nuts in your mouth?

Enjoy and happy Thanksgiving!

 

 

Betty White Chocolate, Pumpkin and Walnut Cookie
Serves: 6.

Ingredients
olive oil
½ small butternut pumpkin, cut into a 1cm dice
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
150g unsalted butter, chopped
½ cup firmly packed muscovado sugar
¼ cup raw caster sugar
1 egg, lightly whisked
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 ¾ cup plain flour, sifted
½ tsp bicarb soda, sifted
pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
2 cups white chocolate chips
⅔ cup toasted walnuts, roughly chopped

Method
Preheat oven to 180°C.

Place the pumpkin on a lined baking sheet with a lug of water and a teaspoon of cinnamon. Toss to combine, transfer the tray to the oven and bake for twenty minutes, or until golden and sweet. Allow to cool while you get to work on the cookie.

Combine the butter and sugars in a 20cm, ovenproof skillet and cook over medium heat for a couple of minutes, or until the butter has just melted and everything combined. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 15 minutes.

Whisk the egg and vanilla into the mixture before folding in the flour, bicarb soda, remaining cinnamon and nutmeg until just combined. Fold through the pumpkin, chocolate and walnuts, transfer the skillet to the oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until golden and crisp. Allow to cool for half an hour before serving just warm with ice cream.

 

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Dave Coulieraid

Drink

As you know, I‘ve got a very extensive history with the cast of Full House. While I spent most of my time as an Olsen triplet and lusting after Uncle Jesse, I became extremely close with the dear, sweet Dave Coulier.

He saw me for the comedy genius that I am – plus he had also felt the sting of being kicked out of 30 Rock by Lorne Michaels – and took me under his wing and tried to mentor my career. Which obviously was both sweet and unnecessary.

While there was a brief falling out after I sided with Alanis during their break-up – and then co-wrote You Oughta Know about him – time healed our wounds, our friendship was renewed and the I was able to convince him to join Fuller House.

Given that they are currently in production on the third season of the questionable reboot, Dave didn’t have much time to spare for a catch-up … but given our much I mean to him, he jumped on the first plane to reconnect over a quick drink.

As exhausted as we both are at the moment, it was just such a joy to hang, relax and catch-up on what we’ve been up to … and try to find a way out of his Fuller House contract.

We may not have been successful with the latter but we both felt refreshed after downing a Dave Coulieraid.

 

 

Now sure, this technically isn’t a recipe – you add cordial to water and drink – but when the man who birthed Mr. Woodchuck begs to be included, you do it. Plus, we used to make jokes about not drinking any of Candace’s kool aid, so he definitely earned it.

So enjoy!

 

 

Dave Coulieraid
Serves: 2 friends, just hanging out.

Ingredients
cordial / kool-aid
water

Method
Combine cordial / kool-aid with cold water.

Mix.

Add ice.

Down.

 

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Moroccan Lamb Gaffnizza

Bread, Main, Party Food, Snack

So I know I was kind of rambling the other day – probably still spooked from the Werewolf Bar Mitzvah and the fear that the Sanderson Sisters were coming for my youth, but I have been friends with the delightful Mo Gaffney for years, after meeting her through my childhood friend Kathy Najimy.

Does it make more sense now?

Anyway, I played an integral part Kathy and Mo’s Mo’s success, getting Kath the job in Sister Act and Mo a job on Ab Fab and Drop Dead Gorgeous, the later of which solidified are friendship and made us as close as we are.

As it is universally acknowledged, DDG is the greatest movie ever made and that is in no small part due to the supreme talents of all the friends I cast in the film. However towards the end of the casting process – and this will come as a shock –  I was having difficulty casting the integral cameos of Terry and Colleen but thankfully – praise Jesus – I thought of Mo’s work as Bo and knew there was no one else who could play the role.

The rest, yada yada yada, history.

Mo has been busy lately guesting on Veep, House of Lies, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, appearing in the – terrible and I hate to admit it – Ab Fab movie and actively campaigning for my girl HRC on Twitter (remember, I am her campaign manager), so it was so nice of her to take the time out and reconnect as I warm up for the holiday season.

Thankfully Mo is fully supportive of me pretending that Brisbane is in the northern hemisphere and I don’t have sweat dripping off my balls, and was more than into splitting a hot and spicy Moroccan Lamb Gaffnizza.

 

img_6977

 

It should probably be apparent to you by now that I am a huge fan of pizza, the love affair being second only my love of burgers. I’m also a massive fan of balls – second only to Probst … and am Australian, so lamb. Put that all together with some hot Moroccan flavour, smooth feta cheese, sweet pumpkin and sharp rocket, and you’ve got yourself a meal worthy of my dear friend Mo and her mo friend.

Enjoy!

 

moroccan-lamb-gaffnizza-2

 

Moroccan Lamb Gaffnizza
Serves: 4.

Ingredients
½ butternut pumpkin, diced
extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp cumin
500g lamb mince
2 tbsp moroccan spice mix
2-3 pizza bases, obviously using Zsa Zsa’s recipe
⅓ cup pine nuts
small red onion, finely sliced
200g feta, diced
grated cheese, optional but advised … who doesn’t want more cheese?
rocket

Method
Preheat oven to 180°C.

Spread diced pumpkin on a small tray, coat with a dash of olive oil, sprinkle over the cumin and cinnamon and bake for 20 minutes, or until golden.

Meanwhile, combine the lamb in a bowl with the moroccan spice mix – you can make your own, but I frankly could not be bothered. Heat a lug of olive oil in a large pan over medium heat and throw in balls of the spiced meat, not worrying about being too careful with size or form. Cook until browned on the outside, remove to some paper towel and repeat the process until all the meat is cooked.

When ready to assemble, cover the base with some tomato paste and some miscellaneous herbs, throw over some meatballs, spice pumpkin, pinenuts, spanish onion and cheese/s. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until crisp and delicious.

Remove from the oven, top with some fresh rocket and allow to stand for five minutes before serving / devouring.

 

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The important thing is we have a winner

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

Outside of a Werewolf Bar Mitzvah, Halloween always gets me thinking of the classic Hocus Pocus and the wonderful Sanderson Sisters. Fun fact, their penchant for murder and sucking the life out of things was inspired by a cult I started.

Not the one with Andrew Keegan though, to be clear.

Anyway, since I didn’t stay a virgin long enough to light the black flame candle and greenlight – well blacklight … but that is semantics – a sequel, I simply couldn’t bare to face Bette, SJP or my dear friend Kathy Najimy over Halloween … so I reached out to Kath and my mutual friend Mo Gaffney.

So what do I make that says does Kathy hate me for not getting the job done … but also says Drop Dead Gorgeous is the greatest movie of all time and thank you? Praise Jesus.

Image source: Still from Ab Fab.

 

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Jack McGraveyard

Baking, Cake, Dessert, Halloween, Side, Snack, Sweets, Werewolf Bar Mitzvah

As you would have picked up by now, I have long been a support and inspiration to Teens over the years. None more so than when creating / fleshing out the life and times of one Kenneth Parcell aka my dear Jack McBrayer’s opus.

I first met Jack in the late 90s while he was attending the University of Evansville where I was lecturing in Theatre Administration. Shockingly, this was the one time I was actually qualified to teach what I was hired to do.

Jack always had an overabundance of talent, so I took him under my wing and mentored him to greatness. More importantly, since this is the one job I haven’t been run out of due to a scandalo, we have always remained close. After he graduated, I quickly convinced him to take up improv, got him a job at Second City and the rest, as they say, is history.

Or HERstory.

When Teens was developing 30 Rock, she was having trouble coming up with the Kenneth character so I regaled her with tales of my dear Jack and she developed the role with him in mind.

Obviously the whole Kenneth as an immortal being thing was inspired by my own apparent immortality – she thinks my time-travel is actually a sign of my own immortality – and the character of Hazel was based on my own horrid ways.

Jack has been busy lately, what with also starring in a modern Disney icon Wreck-It Ralph and its upcoming sequel, so we haven’t had much time to catch-up. Thankfully he was eager to clear his schedule for the Werewolf Bar Mitzvah and to split a big ole Jack McGraveyard.

 

jack-mcgravyard-1

 

Full disclosure – let’s pretend you haven’t noticed before, ok – presentation / themed edible situations are not my forte … but when they taste this good, you should just look past that.

With a brownie base as black as a lost soul, littered with walnut brains and rotten (cranberry) flesh and topped with a cream cheese grass, this is a graveyard that will make you happy.

Plus, Trump has a tombstone … that counts for something, right?

Enjoy!

 

jack-mcgravyard-2

 

Jack McGraveyard
Serves: 6-8.

Ingredients
225g dark chocolate
225g butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
¼ cup fresh coffee
200g raw caster sugar
3 large eggs, whisked
150g almond meal
100g walnuts, chopped
100g craisins, chopped
½ cup icing sugar
1 tsp milk
black food colouring
4 oval biscuits
250g cream cheese
1 tbsp double dream
green food colouring
extra 100g chocolate, melted, for decorating – I used a combination

Method
Preheat oven to 170°C.

In a large saucepan over low heat, melt the butter and chocolate together. Remove from the heat, mix in the vanilla, coffee and sugar, and allow to cool slightly.

Once it has had time to chill, beat in the eggs, almond meal, walnuts and craisins. Transfer to a lined, square baking tin and bake for 20-30 minutes, or until set but still a little gooey. Allow to cool completely.

While the brownies are cooling, combine half the icing sugar and milk in a small bowl with a drop of black food icing to make your tombstone lacquer. Dip the oval biscuits in and allow to set on a lined baking sheet, repeating a couple of times to build up the layers – clearly it was too hot for it to set properly in my house.

Meanwhile beat the cream cheese, remaining icing sugar and double cream in a stand mixture until smooth. Add in enough green colouring to turn it into grass, or slime, whatever you’d rather. I also added black, because spooky.

By now the brownie should be adequately chilled so flip it over onto a serving plate, and dig out space for four graves. Ice around the graves, chuck in the tombstones and return the dug-out dirt to create freshly buried mounds.

Drizzle with melted chocolate, adorn your tombstones and devour. Edible glitter and other kitsch decorative things are highly encouraged – this isn’t a low-rent cemetery!

 

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