10 Microwave Cheats to Make Your Life Easier
Don’t look at us like that – we’re not ashamed to admit we love our microwaves as much as the next person. Why? Because they come in handy for so much more than re-heating food. Here’s our round up of the 20 best tips and tricks you might not have known you could use your microwave for.
1. Poach an Egg
Devour the perfect poached egg in 50 seconds with this clever microwave method: pour boiling water from the kettle into a microwave-safe bowl until 3/4 of the way full. At this point, it’s a good idea to add a dash of white vinegar – this will keep the egg white together. Crack the egg into the bowl and lightly pierce the yolk with a toothpick (this will stop it exploding). Cover the bowl with cling film and microwave on full power for 30 seconds. Remove from the microwave and very gently turn the egg (for even cooking). Cover with cling film again and cook on full power for a further 20 seconds. Remember the egg will continue to cook in the hot water so remove it quickly!
2. Make Fudge
Using the trusty microwave, you can make this moreish chocolate fudge in 10 minutes flat (plus chilling time). And everybody knows that chilling time means chilling out time so kick back, relax and enjoy this Pandan, Coconut and Chocolate Burfi at the push of a button (or two).
You can make this in 10 minutes flat (plus chilling time). And everybody knows that chilling time = chilling out time so kick back, relax and enjoy this Pandan, Coconut and Chocolate Burfi at the push of a button (or two).
Pandan, Coconut and Chocolate Burfi (yields 25 pieces)
Ingredients for the pandan layer
If you’re not sure what pandan is then you can read up on it here.
3 cups whole milk powder
1 cup condensed milk
1 ½ tsp pandan extract
Ingredients for the coconut layer
1 ½ cups whole milk powder
½ cup condensed milk
¼ cup coconut (dessicated or fresh)
½ tsp cardamom powder
1 small pinch saffron
Ingredients for the chocolate layer
1 cup milk chocolate, chopped into small pieces
¼ cup butter
Oil to grease the tray
1. For the pandan layer combine the pandan extract with the condensed milk. In a microwave-proof mix the green condensed milk with the milk powder and microwave on high power for one minute at a time for four minutes. Remove from the microwave in between these one minute intervals and stir.
2. Grease a 6X8 metal tray or thali with plenty of any flavourless oil (I used groundnut).
3. Press the pandan layer into the metal tray with the back of a spoon, making sure it’s even all over. Set aside and allow to cool.
4. For the coconut layer combine the milk powder, condensed milk and coconut in a microwave-proof dish. Repeat the microwave process as in step one, but for three minutes this time. Remember to stir at one minute intervals so it doesn’t burn. Add the cardamom and saffron and combine quickly.
5. Place the coconut mixture on top of the pandan layer and press in tightly and evenly. Set aside and allow to cool.
6. Place the chocolate in a microwave-proof bowl and microwave on high for 30 second bursts until it has melted. Remove from the microwave and add the butter. Fold the mixture with a spoon until silky. Don’t overwork the chocolate.
7. Pour the chocolate over the cooled coconut layer and allow to set at room temperature. When the burfi has set, cut it into pieces with a sharp knife.
3. Soften Ice Cream
Ever have the urgency to dig in to a tub of ice cream but hate waiting for it to soften? Pop the tub in the microwave and zap on high power in 10 second bursts, checking it each time until soft. It should take around 30 seconds per litre. Scoop into bowls – or if you can’t wait, grab a spoon and eat it straight from the tub. We won’t tell.
4. Make Quick Caramel Sauce
Knock up the world’s quickest caramel sauce using your microwave. Grab a few handfuls of soft caramels, unwrap and place in a microwave-safe bowl. Add a tiny splash of milk and microwave on medium power for one or two minutes, stirring at 30 second intervals until silky smooth. Pour over your favourite ice cream (the one you just softened in the microwave), sundae or sponge cake.
5. ‘Soak’ Lentils and Beans
For pulse-lovers, there’s nothing more annoying than reading a recipe that uses beans or lentils and seeing they require soaking overnight. So here’s a cunning method for faking it using your microwave. To soak dried beans, place the beans in a microwave-safe bowl, add a pinch of bicarbonate of soda and cover with water until they’re totally submerged. Microwave on high power for 10 minutes, and then allow to rest for 30-40 minutes. Use as directed in your recipe.
To soak lentils, repeat the same process as you would for beans but this time, you only need to microwave for two minutes and rest for five before using in your recipe.
6. Bring Crystallised Honey Back to Life
Remove the lid of your glass jar and any metal. Microwave on medium power for 50 seconds and stir in a teaspoon of lemon juice. Be careful as it will be really hot.
7. Melt Chocolate
Attention all chocoholics, you probably knew you could melt chocolate in the microwave, but here’s how to do it without creating a grainy, lumpy mess. Chop the chocolate into little pieces, the smaller the better and place in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on medium power in 15 second bursts, waiting 15 seconds between each burst. This will give the chocolate a few moments to melt gently in the heat of the microwave. Stir lightly only after you’ve repeated this twice. Repeat this process until the chocolate has completely melted.
8. Cook Vegetable Rice
Here’s how to make a fragrant Indian pilau in the microwave: in a large, microwavable bowl, melt 2 tablespoons of butter (15-20 seconds on high). Remove from the microwave and add 2 teaspoons of whole cumin seeds, a bay leaf and a stick of cinnamon. Microwave on high power again for 20 seconds. Remove from the microwave and mix in 100g washed Basmati rice, a handful of peas and four quartered new potatoes. Season with salt. Cover with boiling water from the kettle until the water reaches about 2cm above the rice. Cover with a microwave-safe lid and cook on high power for 12 minutes. Leave the rice to sit in its own steam for 5 minutes. Use a pair of oven gloves to remove the bowl from the microwave and fluff up the grains with a fork.
9. Chocolate Mug Cake
Craving cake in the middle of the night hasn’t been a problem since we discovered the power of cream-topped chocolate mug cakes. Now a speciality of students all over the globe, the basic principles of cake making are chucked out of the window, yet the results can hit the spot in ways you’ve never imagined. Word of warning: not all mug cakes are foolproof – we’ve seen bricks less bricky than some of the creations produced in our microwaves.
10. Soften Butter for Baking
Don’t you just feel like kicking yourself every time you intend to bake, but forget you need butter at room temperature for creaming? Don’t worry, here are a few tricks to softening butter perfectly using your microwave: cut the butter into small cubes and place into a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in on low power for 15 seconds. Remove from the microwave to check its progress. If the butter needs more softening, repeat for as long as required. The key is to microwave in short bursts to avoid the butter melting completely – if in doubt, less is definitely more.