Archives for category: Sweet things

Date slice 2

While I was still pregnant I was browsing Facebook and one post caught my attention. It was a comment about a past tradition catching up with their Mum each week with a date slice that was missed since they had moved to another state. Finally finding the date slice in their new home had brought back memories of these catch-ups. It got me thinking about how  certain foods are more than just something we eat. They can evoke feelings and memories in us.

This left me craving date slice, so I went looking for a recipe to make some. Dates seem to be one of those ingredients that people either love or hate, I am definitely in the love category. They are very sweet however and I can only eat a small amount.

This slice is quite easy to make and as long as you like dates, it’s pretty tasty. If I make it again I might try putting some citrus zest in with the dates and/or some spices in the base/crumble mix for something different, but it was delicious as is and satisfied my craving.

Click here for the recipe

Hot choc spoons

Happy (Australian) Mother’s Day! Just a very quick post as I have been baking most of the weekend so that I can spoil my Mum with high tea this afternoon, and I have to leave soon to get to my parent’s house.

My Mum has her birthday, Mother’s Day and wedding anniversary within the same week and I always try to make it special for her. Hopefully she will enjoy all my baked treats (I’ll update this post with links to what I have baked later…my Mum reads my blog and I don’t want to spoil the surprise).

However, these are not part of the high tea today. I actually made these for my Mum for Easter, however they make a great edible gift any time of the year and are great for chocoholics. It is more of an idea than a recipe. As such I haven’t given quantities, you can make as few or as many as you like based on the size of your moulds and the amount of chocolate you use. I first saw these in a magazine last year and have seen them in quite a few since then (too many to reference). I haven’t used them myself yet to make hot chocolate; however Mum has said they work really well, with the chocolate melting into the hot milk to make hot chocolate perfectly. So next time you are in search of a gift, why not give these a go?

Click here for the recipe

 Hot cross bun cupcakes

 

Happy Easter everybody! I hope you are all having a lovely relaxing long weekend and enjoying time with family, friends and good food (especially for all the chocoholics out there).

I remember how excited I would get as a child waiting for it to be light enough so my brother and I could get up and go on our Easter egg hunt. We would stay at our Nanna’s house every Easter. She lived in a small two bedroom unit and had an amazing courtyard garden, full of hanging baskets and pot plants that made great hiding places for Easter eggs. We had a great time, although our poor Nanna didn’t get much sleep with us up at first light and awake long before that.

These days, my favourite Easter food isn’t the chocolate eggs but hot cross buns. I love the smell of the spices when they are cooking (though I don’t like them with citrus peel in), and they are just delicious eaten warm with some butter/margarine and maybe some honey. Last year I had a go at making my own at home (recipe here). So this year I decided to try something different…cupcakes inspired by the spices I love in my hot cross buns. They turned out pretty good, although they don’t taste exactly like hot cross buns. But the spices and orange zest in the cake are lovely and the creamy tart cream cheese frosting makes a nice contrast. I left the sultanas/fruit peel out however you could easily add it in either to the cake mix, frosting or both. I was also going to drizzle the top with honey, but my honey was crystallised and honestly they don’t need to be any sweeter.

So here is my recipe for hot cross bun inspired cupcakes. Happy Easter!

Click here for the recipe

Banana and raspberry loaf As much as I love trying out new recipes, there are always times when I prefer to bake some of my old favourites. Especially if I’ve offered to bring dessert or cakes/baked goods to an event or a friends house. I want to know that I am making something that works and tastes great. This has seen me revisit a lot of my old favourites over the past few weeks including my citrus coconut cupcakes, chocolate and raspberry fudge brownies and raspberry crumble slice, meaning I haven’t had much new to blog about.

However, my freezer was starting to fill up with overripe bananas again. Never throw out an overripe banana. Place them straight in the freezer and they will be ready to use later in baking. They go black on the outside when frozen but inside they are still great to use for baking once defrosted. That way you always have very ripe bananas, perfect for baking, ready whenever you want to use them.

With that in mind, I was browsing through some Coles magazines on my iPad and noticed this recipe for banana, raspberry and macadamia bread. I’m loving having most of my cooking magazines on my new iPad. Most of them let me bookmark favourites to try and some like the Coles one (which is also free) let me email them to friends etc. The subscriptions are a lot cheaper than the print version and they don’t take up any space at home. I still much prefer to have actual hard copy cookbooks rather than digital versions on an ebook or tablet, but find the tablet perfect for magazines.

I was sure I had macadamias at home; however once I started the mix I discovered I didn’t so I just left them out (this is why I usually measure everything out before I start cooking, so I don’t get halfway through and discover a missing ingredient!). The result was still great, although the macadamias would add more texture. This is a really easy recipe to make and the end result is wonderfully moist, lightly spiced cake. A great breakfast or tea time treat! Click here for the recipe

 Crepes with rhubarb and raspberry compote 3

Here is my contribution for pancake day, although they are crepes not pancakes.

I still remember a few years ago when I decided to cook brunch at my parent’s house for my Dad for Father’s day. I told Jerome I was making crepes (very thin, usually quite large) and he kept insisting that I was making pancakes (thicker and fluffy). Once I cooked them and he saw the final product, he had to admit that I did actually know what I was talking about and that I had made crepes.

For my birthday last year I was looking for somewhere new to have brunch and I found Toast in East Perth. As soon as I saw crepes with rhubarb and raspberry compote on the menu I was sold. It is now one of my favourite places for breakfast/brunch and they also make a great juice called the ‘beach bear’ (pineapple, apple, ginger and mint). I’m honestly thinking about getting a juice maker at home just so I can try to make that juice!

So, inspired by my favourite crepes at Toast, I decided to see if I could replicate the flavours at home and make my own rhubarb and raspberry compote. I have to say that the final result exceeded my expectation. I was so happy with the compote that I could happily eat just that. I like very tart sweets, so you may want to add more sugar if you prefer things a bit sweeter. I’ve also included the crepe recipe that I have used for years, from The Beginner’s Cookbook by Family Circle.

Click here for the recipe

choc orange tart

As I’ve mentioned many times before, I’m not that fond of chocolate (strange I know). I will always bypass a chocolate dessert for something made from citrus or berries. If I am going to eat (or bake) something with chocolate, I need something added to it to cut through the richness of the chocolate.

When I saw the cover recipe of the March BBC Good Food magazine, with the classic combination of chocolate and orange, I knew it was something I wanted to try. And with a house warming to go to this weekend, it was the recipe for me.

The recipe in the magazine used store bought sweet crust pastry, with cocoa added to it in a food processor to make a chocolate pastry. I decided I had to make the chocolate pastry from scratch. Not the best plan when you only have a few hours to make the whole tart at the end of the week and the house/kitchen is boiling hot (it is a warm summer here in Perth). But I persevered. If you can give the pastry a couple of hours in the fridge it is much easier to work with and you can roll it a bit thinner. I had to make it a bit thicker as it wasn’t quite cool enough when I rolled it…but the end result was still good. I also wanted to make small individual tarts as I thought that would be easier at a house warming than a large one that needed to be cut.

The filling for these is almost like a cross between a curd and a custard. Don’t take your eyes off it when it is on the stove. I went to check the pastry and it started boiling and almost curdled. Thankfully it still worked and the end result was a good combination of the rich chocolate from the ganache drizzle and pastry, and the sweet tartness of the oranges. I used my favourite ganache recipe instead of the one in the magazine which had the addition of golden syrup as I thought this would be too sweet. The recipe below has more ganache than you’ll need to drizzle on top of the tarts. However I had extra pastry so I made more tart shells and filled the rest with the ganache for rich chocolate tarts with a hint of orange in the pastry and ganache.

choc orange ganache tarts

Click here for the recipe

IMG_3933

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone. I wish I could actually give you all one of these cookies, they are delicious! I first saw the recipe the other week in the December (Christmas) issue of the BBC Good Food Magazine, which is the current issue here in Australia (we are always a few months behind in getting them). I always find new recipes I want to try in this magazine and I have just this week subscribed to the digital version of the magazine, so from now on I won’t have to wait months for the magazine to arrive in Australia.

The magazine included a section on Christmas baking traditions from around the world, including the German Christmas cookie the Zimtsterne. As soon as I read the recipe I knew I had to make the cookies, but I couldn’t wait for Christmas 2014! So instead I decided to use the recipe to make some heart shaped cookies for Valentine’s Day.

The flavours are amazing. The ginger, cinnamon and lemon go so well together and the biscuit has a lovely nutty, spicy flavour without being overpowering, with the lemon providing some freshness. These are a chewy cookie, with the outside developing a delicate macaron like crispness and that are completely different to gingerbread biscuits. I certainly plan to make them for Christmas every year from now on! They also have the added bonus of being gluten free so they make a great alternative to gingerbread for anyone who can’t eat gluten. I shared the biscuits around at work and I think it was one of the most positive responses I’ve ever had. They were very popular. So if you are looking for a different cookie recipe to try, or maybe something different for next Christmas, I recommend giving these a go.

IMG_3941

Cinnamon, ginger and lemon cookies (Zimtsterne)

Makes around 30 stars if you use a 5cm star cutter, approximately 18 hearts with a slightly larger heart shaped cutter

Ingredients

  • 2 egg whites (I always use large/59g eggs)
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • Zest of a lemon
  • 200g pure icing sugar – sifted plus extra for dusting
  • 250g almond meal/ground almonds
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 130C fan forced (150C). Line a large baking tray with baking paper.

2. Place the two egg whites in a large clean bowl (not plastic) or the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk (using the whisk attachment on a stand mixer or an electric hand whisk) until it becomes foamy. Add the lemon juice at this stage and then whisk until the egg whites form soft peaks.

3. Once the egg whites have formed soft peaks, start adding the icing sugar in a spoon at a time until all the icing sugar has been added and the mixture is shiny and stiff.

4. Remove ¼ of the egg white/icing sugar mixture and keep in a separate bowl to use as the topping.

5. Add the almond meal, lemon zest, cinnamon and ginger to the rest of the egg white/icing sugar mix and mix to form a dough. It will be quite sticky.

6. The dough is best rolled out between baking paper as it is sticky. Place a sheet of baking paper on the bench. Dust a small amount of icing sugar onto the paper and place the dough on top of the paper. Dust the top of the dough lightly with icing sugar and then place another sheet of baking paper on top.dough

7. Roll out the dough to approximately 0.5cm in thickness. Peel off the top sheet of baking paper  and cut out to the shape of your choice and place on the baking tray. Repeat until you have used all the dough.ready to ice

8. Before baking, spread a small amount of the remaining egg white/icing sugar mix over the top of each cookie (either using the back of a small spoon or I used a small offset spatula). You may need to add a few drops of water to thin it out slightly if it is too stiff.

They got a bit neater with practice!

They got a bit neater with practice!

9. Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes for the smaller stars. My cookies were a bit larger and took 15-20 minutes. You want to bake them until the icing on top has set but isn’t browning. Allow them to cool fully before storing in a sealed container. They will last for up to 2 weeks.

Adapted from BBC Good Food Magazine December 2013- Zimtsterne

Spiced hearts

Whisper cake 1

It is definitely summer here in Perth. We have recently experienced quite a few days above 40 degrees (celcius) and a lot of days in the high 30s. That isn’t the best weather to encourage baking and as a result the oven has been getting a bit of a rest.

One of the few things I have baked recently is this whisper cake. After the holiday period, I was looking for a treat that was a bit lighter and I found this recipe in the Australian Healthy Food Guide magazine. I’ve made it twice, once as a full sized ring cake, and once in my 12 cup mini bundt pan (which I’ve had for ages and had never used until now). The result both times was a delicious and moist cake. The flavours remind me of my favourite citrus (and coconut) cupcakes with raspberry frosting, but with a lot less fat/calories. This recipe is going into the favourites list! It is a very easy recipe, great for picnics and a lot easier to make in this heat than pastry from scratch, which was the other thing I baked recently for a picnic (mini quiches).

Whisper cake 2

Click here for the recipe

 lemon curd mousse

A belated happy New Year all. I hope everyone had a wonderful and safe holiday season. I had a lovely Christmas with my family. Christmas really is one of my favourite times of the year. However, between all the Christmas cooking/baking, an old neck injury playing up again (ouch) and the fact that I was still working over the holiday period, I needed to take a holiday from something…so I took a couple of weeks off from my blog.

But my break is over and it is now time to get back to the baking and blogging, and what better recipe to start the year with than one of my all-time favourite desserts. I first tried this recipe from Gary Mehigan’s book Comfort Food a few years ago after meeting him and getting a signed copy of his book at a food show. This recipe includes my favourite lemon curd recipe that I often make on its own (it makes a great gift) and have written about previously. I’ve wanted to make the mousse for my blog for some time, but have been waiting for a reason to make it. I knew if I made it solely for the blog that I would end up eating too much of it myself! So when I was invited to a friend’s pre-Christmas dinner, I offered to bring dessert and knew it was time for this dish to make an appearance again. After all, the spicy gingernut crumble is reminiscent of ginger bread so that makes it Christmassy, right?

The gingernut crumble is quite easy to make, however you could always replace it with crushed bought ginger biscuits if you want to skip a step. The original recipe called for ground star anise, but I don’t like aniseed flavours so I have replaced it with mixed spice. Like most desserts I cook for dinner parties, this can be made ahead. The curd is best made at least the day before (or the morning) you want to use it so it has time to cool. The crumble can also be made a day or two ahead of serving. I have made the mousse up to a day before serving and it has still been great. It is always good to know you have dessert ready to go on the night with no stress.

This recipe is a cross between a mousse and a cheesecake. The tartness of the lemon cuts through the richness of the cream cheese and the sweetness from the condensed milk, with the crumble adding great spice and texture. It really is one of my favourite desserts.

Click here for the recipe

Fruit mince slice 1

Back in November I made a batch of fruit mince after attending my first Christmas baking class with Sarah Brigden (babyCakes). This weekend I am finally using it, after letting it develop its flavours for over a month. As well as the usual fruit mince pies, I decided I wanted to try something a little bit different.

One of my favourite (and quite easy) recipes is raspberry crumble slice. It is incredibly moreish and also easily adapted. I’ve used the base recipe to experiment with other combinations including an apple crumble slice. This weekend, I decided to use it as the base for a fruit mince crumble slice to take into work tomorrow.

I also made fruit mince pies, using the cinnamon pastry recipe and baked them in patty pans, topped with pastry stars (cooks for 20 minutes in a 160C fan forced oven). I’m not a huge fan of fruit mince, but I really like this recipe. I find the addition of apple cider gives it an extra flavour that I really like and the spices are just the flavours of Christmas.

fruit mince pies

  Click here for the recipe

%d bloggers like this: