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.

 

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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!

 

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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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Japharrell Cake

Baking, Cake, Dessert, Sweets

Full disclosure, I had zero idea why Pharrell was so burnt out and in need of a catch-up. I assumed being a Grammy Award winning, Academy Award nominee was enough to be exhausted?

Turns out, it wasn’t the entire story.

Pha-Pha, as I call him, arrived straight off the plane from LA late last night completely spent after a gruelling season on The Voice. After two hours of him explaining to me that he wasn’t talking about the Australian version and that I needed to put down the knife and relax, he fell into my arms, exhausted and looking for the comfort of a true friend.

I first met Pharrell in the 1700s in the 90s as a founding member of N*E*R*D. Despite being ejected from the band after it was discovered I thought it was a fetish dating site, Pha-Pha took me under his wing as his immortal business protege before I eventually became a muse. Fun fact, the drawing scene from Titanic was inspired by the moment I entered into his … muse-dom?

Needless to say, I’ve played a crucial part in all of Relly’s future successes and have been his go to person. I’m the Yang to his Grey, if that is still a thing – I don’t know, I gave up after Izzie cut the damn LVAD and Snow Patrol became a thing in the mainstream.

Also, is Snow Patrol a band or a barbershop quartet consisting of Mr Plow and the Plow King?

But I’ve digressed.

Rel dropped by after wrapping the US version of The Voice (produced by my dear pal Mark Burnett) where – I shit you not / *spoiler alert* – Curly Sue took the crown. Sadly his contestant, Hannah … Horvath (? – I assume it is a characters of fiction edition) could only snag third, despite a stellar finale performance.

Needless to say, he is a sensitive soul and was taking the loss very hard meaning the only thing that could cure his mood and turn his frown upside down, was my Japharrell Cake.

 

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While Jaffas are the worst coated chocolate treat, this cake is off the hook. Maybe it is the inclusion of blood orange oil – rather than its generic sibling orange oil – but the moist, bitter chocolate cake combined with the tang of the citrus is something to behold. Plus, it melts in your mouth and quite literally, is dripping in ganache (if you’re too lazy to let it set/cool, like I am).

Enjoy!

 

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Japharrell Cake
Serves: 1-12.

Ingredients
200ml blood orange oil
70g valrhona cocoa powder (sifted)
165ml boiling water
2 ½ tsp vanilla extract
200g almond meal
¾ tsp bicarbonate of soda
pinch of salt
265g caster sugar
4 large eggs

Ganache
225g dark chocolate, 70% solids or more
1 cup heavy cream
pinch of salt

Method
Preheat the oven to 170°C and grease a 20cm springform pan with some olive oil and the base with baking paper.

Place the cocoa powder in a small bowl and whisk with the boiling water until smooth. Add in the vanilla extract and leave to cool.

Combine the almond meal, bicarb and salt in a large bowl.

In the large bowl of an electric mixer, combine the sugar, oil and eggs and mix with the paddle attachment on high speed for about 5 minutes. Reduce the speed and pour in the cooled cocoa mixture. When combined, add the almond meal in slowly.

Scrape down the sides, pour the mixture into the pan and bake for 45 minutes or until the cake is set but with a nice moist centre.

Moist – I love that word.

When it is ready, allow to cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes before removing the sides from the pan. Then leave to cool completely (unless you can’t like me).

While the cake is cooling, start on the ganache by bring the cream to the boil over medium heat. While the cream is getting all hot and bothered, break up the chocolate in a medium bowl.

When the cream is hot, pour it over the chocolate, add a pinch of salt and leave to stand for five minutes.

Five minutes later – and I mean that – whisk the cream and chocolate until combined and smooth. Allow to stand for a further 15 minutes, stirring ocassionally, before pouring over the cake and smoothing it out.

Obviously I didn’t wait for either to cool or set, resulting in the puddle cake … which was still delicious, FYI.

 

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Happy clappy chappy

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

My oldest and most dearest friend and rumoured vampire Pharrell called last night to ask if he could drop by and rejuvenate after having such a busy few years. Obviously this made me very happy – feel free to clap along – and I agreed instantly.

He’ll come so far, to be fed something blah.

So let’s raise the bar and fill my plate with a star!

He’ll fill up-a his tum, I’ll be up to feed hum.
We’ll be up all night catching-up, I just can’t wait to say sup’?

(But seriously, if you have a better rhyming word for up, i’ma let you finish).

Picture source: Kevin Winter / Getty Images for NARAS.

 

As you can probably tell, we are very social but the fun isn’t only limited to celebrities! You can follow us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr and Google+.