Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Farewell Cupcakes

These were made for the boys final day at work. I really do hope the office enjoyed them :)

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Orange & Coconut Tea Cakes

An orange cake has been on my list of things to make for a while now. The craving for this cake came from tasting the teacakes from the café downstairs at work (i believe they get them from Brasserie Bread, Sydney)

I liked the sponginess of the cake, paired with the zestiness of the orange.

The recipe I used to re-create these cakes is from the exclusively food website. I swapped the lemon for orange, and used coconut milk in place of normal milk. I also added a little milk and a bit of orange zest to the icing.

The cake was beautiful and moist, although next time I would add a little more of the dessicated coconut.

Orange & Coconut Tea Cakes
125g butter, softened
225g (1 cup) caster sugar
1 teaspoon finely grated orange rind
2 large eggs
40ml (2 tablespoons) orange juice
30g (1/3 cup) dessicated coconut
210ml (3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon) coconut milk
225g (1 1/2 cups) self-raising flour

Orange Glaze
150g (1 cup plus 1 tablespoon) pure icing sugar (sifted if lumpy)
25ml (1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon) lemon juice
(add a little milk if the icing is too stiff for your liking)

Preheat oven to 170 degrees Celsius (150 degrees Celsius fan-forced).

Grease a 12 hole muffin pan (I used a mini bundt pan).

Using an electric mixer or electric hand-held beaters on low speed, beat the butter in a large bowl until creamy (about 2 minutes).

Add the caster sugar and orange rind and beat on medium speed. Stop the machine once or twice during beating to scrape down the side and base of the bowl with a spatula. Beat the mixture until it is pale and creamy (about 5-7 minutes).

Add the first egg to the butter mixture and beat on medium speed for about one minute. Stop the machine and scrape down the side and base of the bowl. Add the remaining egg, beating on medium speed for about one minute. Scrape down the side and base of the bowl.

To the butter mixture, add two tablespoons orange juice, coconut, half the coconut milk and half the flour. Using a large spoon or spatula, gently fold ingredients together until just combined. Add the remaining flour and coconut milk and fold ingredients together until combined. Don't over mix the batter.

Spoon batter into prepared pans.

Bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until the crust is golden in colour and the cake springs back when lightly pressed in the centre. Insert a thin-bladed knife or wooden skewer into the centre of the cake to test whether it is cooked through

Allow cakes to cool in pan on a wire rack. When cooled, remove cake from pan.

Stir icing sugar and 25ml (1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon) orange juice together in a small bowl until smooth. Spoon over the cooled cakes.

Baked Pears with Spiced Mascarpone

I needed a simple dessert to make for a Sunday feast with friends.

After uming and ahring my way through my piles of recipe's, I decided on these. I have made these baked pears before, after seeing them on this fellow bloggers site, and they were beautiful. The texture of the pear against the silky mascarpone is just divine.

This recipe is definitely a keeper.

Baked Pears with Spiced Mascarpone
8 large buerre bosc pears
1 vanilla bean, halved lengthways
80g butter
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 1/2 cups apple juice

Spiced mascarpone
250g mascarpone cheese
1 1/2 tablespoons icing sugar mixture
1 teaspoon finely grated orange rind
1/2 teaspoon mixed spice

Preheat oven to 200°C/180°C fan-forced. Peel the pears and Place them in a medium baking dish.

Scrape seeds from vanilla bean. Reserve bean. Place seeds, butter and sugar in a saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or until sugar has dissolved. Add reserved bean to baking dish.

Brush pears with butter mixture. Add juice and remaining butter mixture to dish. Bake for 1 hour or until pears are tender. Stand 15 minutes. Discard bean.

Meanwhile, make Spiced mascarpone: Place mascarpone, sugar, orange rind and mixed spice in a bowl. Stir to combine. Place pears on plates. Drizzle with pan juices. Serve with spiced mascarpone.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Caramel Chocolate Mousse Tart

I bought myself a new camera this weekend. I was originally going to invest in a Canon 450 DSLR, but as I am now heading off on a holiday to France in a month, I decided on a compact digital camera (hopefully I will purchase the DSLR later in the year).

I ended up with the Canon IXIS 130 camera, and I must say I was pleasantly surprised by its capabilities.

To break in my camera, I took some photographs of this little baby.

Now this tart is the shit. It is rich, decadent, gooey, and loaded with calories.
I decided to make it for my boyfriend’s friend who is currently stuck in hospital. I wasn’t exactly sure what she would like, but I was sure I couldn’t fail with this tart. Everyone who has eaten it has died and gone to tart heaven.

I changed it up a bit this time, and used some leftover chocolate pastry I had in the freezer. It was a chocoholics dream. (the original pastry recipe can be found here)

What I like about this particular tart is the mousse. I generally don’t like chocolate tarts as I find ganache quite heavy and sickly. The mousse in this recipe gives you the chocolate hit, without the heaviness.

Caramel Chocolate Mousse Tart

Chocolate Pastry
320g plain flour
60g cocoa
160g caster sugar
Pinch salt
160g cold butter, diced
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 180°C. Place the flour, cocoa, sugar, salt and butter in the bowl of a food processor and process until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the eggs and process until dough just starts to come together.

Turn on to a lightly floured surface and gently knead until just smooth. Shape into a disc and cover with plastic wrap, then place in the fridge for 10 minutes to rest.

Roll out the pastry to a 15 x 40cm rectangle, about 3mm thick. Line a shallow rectangle 10 x 34cm (base measurement) fluted tart tin with a removable base with the pastry and trim any excess. Place in the fridge for 15 minutes to rest.

Line pastry with baking paper and fill with baking weights. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove paper and rice and bake for a further 5-10 minutes or until firm to touch. Cool pastry in tin

225g caster sugar
250ml water
80ml thickened cream
70g butter, roughly chopped

Combine sugar and water in a heavy-based saucepan and stir over a low flame until sugar is dissolved.

Increase the heat to high and cook sugar, while brushing down the sugar crystals on the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush, until it's a deep golden colour (about 10-15 minutes). As soon as it starts to turn amber, do not take your eyes of it!

As soon as it hits the right colour, remove quickly from the heat and immediately add cream and butter (this will stop it cooking). Be careful as the mixture will spit and foam.

Stir to combine and pour into the tart case. Refrigerate until firm (about 1-2 hours)

Chocolate Mousse
250g dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
4 eggs, separated
185ml thickened cream
2 Tbl caster sugar

Melt chocolate in a double-boiler or heatproof bowl over a pan of low simmering water. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.

Add the yolks, stir to combine and set aside (it will look a bit weird and gluggy but this is ok).

In a separate bowl, whisk cream until soft peaks and set aside.

In another bowl, whisk eggwhites with an electric mixer until frothy. Then gradually add the sugar and continue whisking until it forms soft peaks.

Add a little of the cream and stir into the chocolate mixture to soften it up and make it easier to mix.

Fold a 1/3 of the eggwhite mixture gently into the chocolate mixture, then fold in a 1/3 of the remainder of the cream. Repeat with remaining eggwhite and cream until all combined.

Spoon over cold caramel in the tart case. Spread the mousse to the edges and smooth the top. Refrigerate until firm (about 2-3 hours).

To Finish
150g dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
60ml pouring cream
20g unsalted butter, softened

Combine chocolate and cream in a small saucepan and stir over low heat until chocolate melts.

Remove from the heat, add butter and stir to combine.

Cool until it's a touch warm, then spread over the fully chilled chocolate mousse in the tart case and smooth top. Refrigerate immediately until set (about 30-40 minutes).

Caramel Mud Cupcakes

Each week I make a sweet treat for the boy to take to work. This week he requested something creamy and crispy, or caramel mud. I chose the latter (mainly because I have had a recipe sitting in my to do pile for a while).

So the cake part was easy, it was finding a frosting that was the hard part. I couldn’t find any recipe for a caramel buttercream that I was completely happy with.

I eventually settled on one that involved butter, brown sugar and golden syrup. After making it, it wasn’t really what I was after. I ended up adding some icing sugar and extra golden syrup, but still, it tasted too much like the start of a butter cake, rather than a fluffy frosting. I wouldn't use this frosting recipe again.

For a garnish, I was inspired by Masterchef to make some honeycomb. I was surprised at how easy it was. I didn’t used the Masterchef recipe, as I didn’t have any glucose, so used one with golden syrup instead.

Caramel Mud Cupcakes
125g butter, chopped coarsely
100g white eating chocolate, chopped coarsely
2/3 cup (150g) firmly pack brown sugar
1/4 cup (90g) golden syrup
2/3 cup (160ml) milk
1 cup (150g) plain flour
1/3 cup (50g) self-raising flour
1 egg

Preheat oven to 170°C/150°C fan-forced. Line 12-hole muffin pan with paper cases.

Stir butter, chocolate, sugar, syrup and milk in small saucepan over low heat until smooth. Transfer mixture to medium bowl; cool 15 minutes.

Whisk sifted flours into chocolate mixture, then egg.

Drop 1/4 cup of mixture into cases. Bake about 30 minutes. Stand cakes 5 minutes before turning top-side up onto wire rack to cool.

Caramel Buttercream
125g butter, at room temperature
100g (1/2 cup, firmly packed) brown sugar
2 tbs golden syrup (i probably added another tbs)
1 tbs milk
(i also included about 1 Cup of icing sug

Use an electric beater to beat together the butter, sugar and golden syrup in a medium bowl until light brown and fluffy. Add the milk and beat until well combined. Pipe or spread onto cooled cupcakes.

6 tbs white sugar
2 tbs golden syrup
2 tsp water
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Place sugar, golden syrup and water in a heavy saucepan and stir over a gentle heat until the sugar is dissolved

Bring to the boil and boil for seven minutes

Remove from the heat and quickly add the bicarbonate of soda. At this point the mixture will froth.

Stir quickly and pour into a greased 28x18cm lamington tin. When cold, cut into pieces and sprinkle over cupcakes. Store leftovers in an airtight container.

Moroccan Sweet Potato & Carrot Soup

Another soup I came across this weekend was a recipe for Moroccan Sweet Potato & Carrot Soup. I thought this would be a nice alternative to the good ol’ Pumpkin soup that I dearly love.

The soup itself was incredibly easy to make. I especially love soups where the preparation is minimal and involves cutting the vegies into careless chucks rather than delicate dices.

The Moroccan spices add a beautiful subtle taste, which balanced well with the sweetness of the potato and carrots. This soup would be lovely served with some toasted Turkish bread.

Moroccan Sweet Potato & Carrot Soup
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large brown onion, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon chilli powder
600g orange sweet potato, peeled, diced
500g carrots, peeled, sliced
6 cups reduced-salt chicken stock
300g can chickpeas, drained, rinsed
1/2 small lemon, juiced

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic. Cook, stirring often, for 3 minutes. Stir in coriander, cumin and chilli powder. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add sweet potato and carrot. Cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Add stock. Cover. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes.

Add chickpeas to soup and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes or until chickpeas are tender.

Blend soup, in batches, until smooth. Return to saucepan over medium-low heat. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Heat, stirring, until hot (do not boil). Ladle into bowls. Top with croutons. Sprinkle with pepper. Serve.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Cream of Mushroom Soup

My boyfriend and I are trying to be a little more frugal these days. As a result I have been trying to send him to work with packed lunches rather then buying it each day. This week he asked me to make him some soups to take to work, a mushroom soup to be exact.

I'm not a huge fan of mushies, but I knew he would be after something creamy to satisfy his tastebuds. After checking out a couple of recipes on Google, I ended up with the following.

It was quite nice, although next time i would use a reduced salt stock, as the saltiness overpowered the delicate taste of the mushrooms.

Cream of Mushroom Soup
60 g butter
2 medium leeks, trimmed, halved and thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
300 g flat mushrooms, diced
300 g cup mushrooms, diced
1/3 cup plain flour
4 cups chicken stock
2/3 cup cream
‘A cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
Toasted bread, to serve

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat until butter begins to foam. Add leeks and garlic and cook, stirring often for 3- 4 minutes or until soft.

Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes or until mushrooms are tender. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly for 2 minutes.

Gradually add stock. Bring to boil, stirring constantly over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 10 minutes.

Remove from heat, allow to cool and process to desired consistency. Stir in cream and parsley.

Heat soup over medium to low heat, without boiling until hot. Season with salt and pepper and serve with toasted bread.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Birthday Wishes

Apologies for the dodgy iphone photos.

I made this cake for a work colleagues 21st birthday. Man was it epic.

I made the cakes over the weekend and froze them, ready to decorate Tuesday night. For the chocolate layer, I used Donna Hay's chocolate buttermilk cake recipe, and for the white layer, I used a recipe for a white chocolate buttermilk cake from the delicious. sweet recipe book (I cheated a little due to time constraints on the pink layer and used a Greens brand packet butter cake mix)

Monday, June 14, 2010

Banana Cupcakes

Both recipes from this weekend's baking fest are from the exclusively food website. I use this recipe for banana cake on a regular basis (in both regular cake and cupcake form), and it is always a hit. This recipe is a great way to use up old bananas and left over buttermilk, and it is dead easy to make.

Banana Cupcakes/Cake
125g salted butter, softened
330g (1 1/2 cups) sugar
280g (1 very slightly rounded cup) very ripe, mashed banana
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (1 teaspoon natural vanilla essence)
2 large eggs (we use eggs with a minimum weight of 59g)
100ml (1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon) buttermilk
225g (1 1/2 cups) self-raising flour
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius (160 degrees fan-forced).

Line cupcake trays with cases (amount will vary depending on the size of your tray). If baking in cake form, grease the side and base of a 22cm diameter (inside top measurement) round cake pan, and like the bottom with non-stick baking paper.

Place butter, sugar, banana, vanilla and eggs in a food processor.

Process for about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of processor. Add buttermilk and pulse to combine.

Sift flour and bicarbonate of soda together into a large bowl. Add flour mixture to food processor and process until just combined.

Pour batter into prepared pan or cupcake cases.

Bake for about 20-25 minutes until golden brown (50-60 minutes for a cake, or until a skewer or knife inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean)

Leave cupcakes/cake to cool on a wire rack.

Spread or pipe cooled cupcakes/cake with cream cheese icing. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Cream Cheese Icing
90g cream cheese, softened
45g butter, softened
210g (1 2/3 cups) icing sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juic

Beat cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer until creamy. Add sifted icing sugar and beat until smooth. Add lemon juice and beat to combine. Pipe or Spread icing over cooled cake.

Caramel Honeycomb Cheesecake

Okay, so I admit it, I have never baked a cheesecake before. Never. I ate a beautiful cheesecake at a friend’s house last week, so I was inspired to make my own.

One recipe website that I refer to on a regular basis, is I have tried many recipes from this website, and none of them have ever failed me.

For my cheesecake, I decided to trial their Caramel Honeycomb Cheesecake recipe. I am not usually a fan of baked cheesecakes, but this one was nice. The texture was beautiful. It was soft and creamy on the palette. The caramel taste was lacking though, and the violet crumble was almost non existent. I did make a few amendments to the original recipe (see notes), and if I were to make it again, I would probably include an additional violet crumble, and possibly serve it with a caramel sauce to bring out the flavours in the cake.

Caramel Honeycomb Cheesecake
250g packet Scotch Finger (shortbread style) biscuits
95g butter, melted (the amount you need may vary, depending on the type of biscuits you use

20g butter
62ml (1/4 cup) thickened cream (35 percent fat)
62ml (1/4 cup) sweetened condensed milk
60g (1/4 cup, firmly packed) brown sugar
1 tablespoon (20ml) golden syrup

100g chocolate coated honeycomb bars (we use two 50g Violet Crumble bars)
500g cream cheese, softened
90g (1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon) caster sugar
3 large eggs (we use eggs with a minimum weight of 59g)
126g (1/2 cup) sour cream
125ml (1/2 cup) thickened cream (35 percent fat)
1 tablespoon (20ml) lemon juice

Place honeycomb bars in the refrigerator to allow the chocolate to harden.

You will need a round springform cake pan with a diameter of 20cm (top inside measurement) and a depth of at least 6cm. Grease the base and side of the pan. Line the base and side of the pan with non-stick baking paper.

Finely crush the biscuits in a food processor or blender. If you used a food processor to crush the biscuits, add the melted butter to the biscuit crumbs and process until well combined. If you used a blender, it is probably easier to tip the biscuit crumbs into a medium bowl and stir in the melted butter.

Firmly press the biscuit mixture over the base and up the sides of the prepared pan (we use the back of a spoon to do this). Cover the pan and refrigerate while preparing caramel and filling.

To make the caramel, place 20g butter, 1/4 cup cream, condensed milk, brown sugar and golden syrup in a small saucepan. Place saucepan over medium-high heat and stir constantly for about 4-5 minutes, reducing the heat if necessary to prevent the caramel catching on the base of the saucepan. The mixture should thicken slightly.

Remove from heat and allow to cool at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 160 degrees Celsius. Adjust the oven rack to the lower-middle position, so the centre of the cheesecake will be in the centre of the oven.

Gently hit unopened packets of honeycomb bars with the smooth side of a meat mallet until bars are crushed into small pieces. Empty the honeycomb into a small bowl and set aside until required.

Using an electric mixer, electric hand-held beaters, or a food processor, beat cream cheese and caster sugar together in a large bowl. Stop the machine occasionally and use a spatula to scrape the side and base of the bowl. Beat until the mixture is completely smooth.

Add the eggs to the cream cheese mixture one at a time, beating until combined after each addition.

Add the sour cream, cream, lemon juice and cooled caramel mixture to the cream cheese mixture. Beat until the ingredients are well combined.

Pour half of the cheesecake mixture over the biscuit base.

Sprinkle crushed honeycomb over cheesecake mixture.

Spoon the remaining cheesecake mixture over the honeycomb.

Place the cheesecake on a baking tray to catch any butter that may leak from the springform pan. Bake cheesecake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. The cheesecake may be cracked and risen; it should still be wobbly in the centre.

Allow cheesecake to cool in the pan for two hours at room temperature.

Leave cheesecake in the pan, and place in an airtight container or cover pan with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until completely cold.

Remove from pan and cut into slices to serve. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Notes: For the base, i used 200g of Granita biscuits and 75g of butter. I only covered the base of the tin, and did not go up the sides.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Cinnamon Scrolls

This past year has been a year of many cooking firsts. Whilst I have always had the ability to cook, I didn’t really use recipe’s that I though would be complicated, or had ingredients that I hadn’t used before.

My first hurdle earlier this year was learning how to make my own pastry (as opposed to getting it pre-rolled out of a freezer). My first attempt was a bit of a fail, but now as I have done it over and over again, I learned what can and cannot be done, and that it isn’t all that delicate.

This weekend I made dough, using Yeast for the first time. I had been reminiscing about childhood foods, and one that stands out to me were the Cinnamon Scrolls from my high school canteen. These were my absolute favourite thing from the canteen. The dough was light and fluffy with a touch of cinnamon, and the best thing about them was that they were drenched in icing.

The recipe I used was from Bill Grangers Sydney Food cook book. Whilst they did fill my cinnamon scroll void, I felt that they could have been a little lighter and fluffier (maybe a longer kneading next time?).

Iced Cinnamon Scrolls
2x 7g sachets dried yeast
¼ cup lukewarm water
1 cup milk
125g unsalted butter, cubed
4 cups plain all-purpose flour
a pinch of salt
¼ cup caster sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup currants (I omitted)
1/3 cup sultanas (I omitted)
80g unsalted butter, melted
¾ cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 tbsp ground cinnamon

1 cup icing sugar
1 tbsp warm water
½ tsp vanilla essence

For the dough, Dissolve the yeast in warm water.
Place milk, cubed butter in a medium saucepan and heat until butter is melted. Sift flour and salt into a large bowl. Add sugar (caster) and stir to combine. Make a well in the centre and add the eggs, and milk and yeast mixtures. Stir until a smooth dough forms.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 6-8 minutes, working in extra flour if dough is too sticky. Add the currants and sultanas (if using) at the last two minutes of kneading.

Place the dough into a large lightly floured bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Keep the bowl in a warm area and allow to rise for 30 minutes to an hour. The dough should have doubled in size.

Punch the dough down and on a floured surface roll into a 23 x 60 cm rectangle. Brush generously with melted butter, reserving some for later, and sprinkle some brown sugar and cinnamon evenly over the surface. Roll the dough up, to make a log. With the seam-side down, cut the roll into 2cm thick slices and place on baking trays 1.5 cam apart. Brush the tops of the rolls with the remaining butter. Cover loosely and leave to rise until doubled again.

Preheat oven to 180˚C.
Bake rolls for 20-30 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove from oven and allow to cool on a rack for 10 minutes then drizzle with icing.

For the icing, Dissolve icing sugar in warm water and add vanilla essence in a mixing bowl. Stir until smooth. Add extra water if the icing is too thick to drizzle.


Sunday morning in our house is pancake day, but this weekend I thought I would mix it up with... waffles!

I received a waffle maker years ago and used it once. Using the recipe that came with the instructions, they failed miserably. What I thought would be fluffy, crispy waffles turned out as flat, rubbery discs.

I came across a recipe on which claimed to be the perfect waffle recipe, so I gave it a go. The recipe produced a lovely tasting waffle, which was fluffy in the centre with a crisp exterior.

I served them with a creamy vanilla bean ice cream, strawberries and maple syrup.

1 egg separated
¼ cup castor sugar
1 cup of milk
¼ cup of water
1 ½ cups of self raising flour
pinch of salt
60g butter, melted

Using a hand mixer, beat egg white until soft peaks. Gradually add half the sugar until you get stiff peaks. Keep aside.

Beat egg yolk (with remaining half of sugar) until creamy. Then beat in milk and water, followed by the sifted dry ingredients.

Mix in melted butter, and then fold in the egg white.

Place batter into your waffle maker (amount will depend on your waffle maker)
Serve hot with your choice of topping – ice cream, banana, strawberries, cream, topping, yoghurt.

Notes: This recipe made enough for 2 (hungry) adults. The waffles stated to go a bit soggy upon standing; I put them under the griller for a moment to crisp back up again.