Monday, July 19, 2010

Honeycomb Cookies

My other half obviously hadn't had his fill of cookies yet, so this was round 2 for the week.

Using the same base dough recipe as the choc chip cookies I made earlier in the week, i replaced the chocolate with some violet crumbles.


Honeycomb Cookies
125g unsalted butter
¾ cup brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 tsp vanilla extract
250g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 X 50g Violet Crumble bars, crushed.

Pre-heat oven to 190 degrees C.

Using a hand mixer, cream the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy. Add the beaten eggs and vanilla and mix again. Fold in the sifted flour, baking powder and 1/2 a tsp of salt until a stiff batter forms, then stir in the crushed violet crumble.

Roll heaped teaspoons of the batter into a ball and place onto a tray lined with baking paper.

Bake for 9-11 minutes or until light golden in colour. Leave on the trays for 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool. Store in an airtight container.

Makes about 20

Chai Buttermilk Cupcakes with Maple Buttercream

A Chai flavoured cupcake has been on my cupcakes-to-make list for a little while now and I thought a maple buttercream would go really well with the spices.

I had some left over buttermilk from breakfast, so to use it up I found a vanilla buttermilk cupcake recipe and added some chai tea mixture to it.

The cupcakes came out really nicely. They had a nice crust on them and the centre was really moist and fluffy. The original recipe only called for 1/4 cup of butter, but i found this not enough to cream with the sugar.

I dusted my finished cupcakes with a little chai spice.

Chai Buttermilk Cupcakes
1 1/3 cups plain flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
½ cup butter, room temperature
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla (i used vanilla bean paste)
1 cup buttermilk
Chai Spice - To taste: I used a chai spice tea drink mixture which wasn't very strong in flavour. I used approx 2 tablespoons, but if you were using a straight spice mix I imagine you would need to use a lot less.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.

Place liners in a 12 cup cupcake tin. In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until it looks creamy.

Beat in the egg and the vanilla until mixture is smooth. Add half of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir until almost combined. Add buttermilk and stir, again, until almost combined. Add the rest of the flour and stir until all ingredients are mixed in. Add enough chai spice mixture to your liking.

Divide batter evenly into tin. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Let cupcakes cool for 10 minutes and then remove from the muffin pan. Cool completely before frosting. Makes 12 cupcakes

Maple Buttercream
110g unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups icing sugar, sifted
2 tbsp. maple syrup
1-2 tbsp. Milk

Using an electric mixer, cream the butter on medium-high speed until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the powdered sugar. Beat on medium speed until well combined, then increase speed and beat until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl again and add the maple syrup. Mix until incorporated. If the frosting is too thick, add 1-2 tablespoons of milk and beat until smooth and desired consistency is achieved. Top each cupcake with a swirl of frosting.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookies, 2 ways

Who doesn't love a choc chip cookie?

It has been aaaages since I have made cookies and I had a mid-week craving for them. As I still hadn't found my HG cookie recipe, I used one which i found on my HG website - the Vogue forums. I give it a 2 thumbs up.

I love my cookies to be as soft as possible, thus making them like cookie dough when eating. To do this you need to cook them until they are just golden on top (in my oven it is about 10 minutes). If you prefer a firmer cookie, feel free to cook them longer.

To mix it up a bit, I added super crunchy peanut butter to half of my batter. There is seriously no better combo in this world than chocolate & peanut butter.


Chocolate Chip Cookies
125g unsalted butter
¾ cup brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 tsp vanilla extract
250g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
150g dark chocolate chips

Pre-heat oven to 190 degrees C.

Using a hand mixer, cream the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy. Add the beaten eggs and vanilla and mix again. Fold in the sifted flour, baking powder and 1/2 a tsp of salt until a stiff batter forms, then stir in the chocolate chips.

At this stage, i halved my batter and stirred in about 2 tablespoons on extra crunchy peanut butter.

Roll heaped teaspoons of the batter into a ball and place onto a tray lined with baking paper.

Bake for 9-11 minutes or until light golden in colour. Leave on the trays for 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool. Store in an airtight container.

Makes about 20

Rhubarb & Blackberry Crumble Soufflé

I think this just may be the first Masterchef masterclass recipe i have tried.

When i saw Gary making this little gem, i had to restrain myself from licking the screen.

I had been wanting to play around with rhubarb for a while now, but as i have a love/hate relationship with it, i wasn't really sure what to make with it.

My mum used to make stewed rhubarb when i were younger and would serve it with creamed rice. I liked this, because the sweet creamyness of the rice would cut through the sourness of the rhubarb. The thing i didn't like about rhubarb was the stringiness of the fibres.

So i finally had a weekend where i could try this recipe for myself. I liked the textures of it. The cloud-like soufflé, the crunch of the crumble, then the cold creamy ice cream.

The lemon pairs beautifully with the berries and rhubarb and really brings out the best in their flavour. The only amendment i made to the recipe was replacing the hazelnuts in the crumble, with pistachios.

Rhubarb & Blackberry Crumble Soufflé
4-6 sticks (500g) rhubarb, cut into 1-2 cm pieces
150g caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
150g fresh or thawed frozen blackberries
½ lemon, zest finely grated
1 tbs cornflour mixed with 1 tsp water
4 egg whites
Vanilla ice cream, to serve
Double thick cream, to serve

Crumble topping
75g plain flour
100g softened butter
50g brown or white sugar
50g rolled oats
1/3 cup roasted hazelnuts, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 180°C.

Place rhubarb in a saucepan with 75g of the caster sugar and ¼ cup water. Cover and place over medium heat and cook for 5-10 minutes until softened. Add blackberries and lemon zest and cook, uncovered, for 5 minutes until softened. Add ½ of the cornflour mixture and stir for 3-4 minutes until thickened, then cook for a further minute to cook out the cornflour. Set aside in a bowl to cool to room temperature for at least 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, to make the crumble topping, combine flour, 50g of the butter, sugar and a pinch of salt in a bowl, mixing with your fingers until combined and the butter is in pea-sized lumps. Add the oats and hazelnuts and toss gently to combine.

Place the crumble mixture on a lined baking tray and bake for 5 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the oven and set aside. Increase oven temperature to 200°C.

Grease 125ml soufflé moulds with remaining butter that has been slightly softened. Butter base and sides with a pastry brush, then brush up the sides – you want an even coating of butter. Refrigerate for 5 minutes to set the butter, then repeat the process - for the second buttering, be a bit more generous with the butter. Sprinkle sugar into each mould and roll ramekin around so the sugar coats the butter, tipping out any excess. This forms a lubricated crust so the soufflé can rise easily.

Place egg whites in a large, clean, dry bowl with 1 tablespoon of the remaining sugar and beat with a hand beater on high until soft peaks. Gradually sprinkle in the remaining sugar and beat for about 30 seconds - 1 minute until you have shiny, soft peaks.

Mix an equal amount of beaten egg white with cooled fruit puree until combined, then add the same amount of egg white again and fold through gently, turning the bowl, then lifting and folding the mixture to keep as much air in the mixture as possible. Spoon into buttered, sugared moulds, taking care to avoid getting any mixture on the side of the ramekins until the moulds are full. Scrape the mixture off the top with a palette knife so you have a really smooth surface, then run your thumb around the very inside of the rim so you have a clean rim.

Bake for 6-7 minutes until risen about 1 cm above the rim. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the crumble topping over the top and return to the oven for another 3 minutes until they have risen another centimetre.

Serve with vanilla ice cream and a dollop of thick cream.

Makes 6-8 soufflés

Friday, July 9, 2010

Hummingbird Cupcakes

Ahhhh mid week baking. With my oven FINALLY fixed, I can now produce baked goods at home – Yippeee!
It hasn’t been working for many many months, so I would always have to do my baking at my mums house (which had it’s pro’s & con’s). The pro’s being: bigger kitchen, oven that works, mum to help and all the ingredients I need. Con’s being that I have to transport all the baked goods back to my house, which isn’t always easy.

When it comes to baking with bananas, the rule is the browner the better. I had some lovely ripe-for-baking bananas sitting in my fruit bowl that were calling out to be made into something delicious, but something a little different to my usual banana cake.

Hummingbird cake has been on my list of things to make for a while now. I don’t think I have actually ever tried it before, but as it looks so delicious in all of the pictures, I thought it was about time I attempted to make it for myself.

Now I don’t really know what to compare this recipe to, but it was delicious! It was wonderfully moist with chunks of pineapple strewn throughout cake. I think it would be nice with some roughly chopped pecans in it, just to add another dimension to the texture.

I garnished mine with some shredded coconut which I toasted off in the oven.

Hummingbird Cupcakes
1 x 450 g can crushed pineapple
1 cup plain flour
1/2 cup self-raising flour
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup desiccated coconut
1 cup mashed over ripe bananas (about 2 bananas)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup vegetable oil

Cream Cheese Frosting
100 g butter, softened
1 x 250 g cream cheese, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
1 1/2 cup icing sugar

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius (160 degrees Celsius fan-forced) and line a 12 hole cupcake pan with cupcake liners.

Drain pineapple through a fine sieve, pressing out as much syrup as possible, reserving ¼ cup syrup. Sift flours, soda and cinnamon in a large bowl. Stir in sugar and coconut. Make a well in the centre. Add combined bananas, eggs, oil, pineapple and reserved syrup. Mix until combined. Pour mixture into prepared cupcake pans.

Bake for about 20 minutes, until the cupcakes are light golden. When they are ready, a skewer or thin-bladed knife inserted into the centre of a cupcake will come out without any batter attached.

Allow the cupcakes to cool in the pan for about five minutes, and then place them on a wire rack to cool completely.

Cream cheese frosting: Beat buffer, cream cheese and essence in a small bowl with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in icing sugar until smooth.
Spread or pipe onto the cooled cupcakes and garnished as desired.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Dearest boyfriend has been bugging me for a while now to make scones. I gave in to his request after seeing them dismally produced by the contestants on Masterchef for the CWA Challenge. It also gave me a chance to see if my oven had FINALLY been fixed.

The last time I made scones I used the lemonade method, they were ok, but not great.
I searched the internet to see if I could find the CWA (Country Womens Association) scone recipe. Surely this had to be a good recipe, I mean, it's the CWA, they are the pinnacle of home baking!

The CWA recipe uses both milk and cream, no butter (therefore none of that fiddly rubbing in).

My lord were these awesome. I know when something I bake is good when the boy looks at me after his first bite and gives me a big grin. They were crispy on the outside and beautifully moist on the inside.

And the number one tip for perfect scones...don't overwork the dough!!

3 cups self-raising flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup cream
1 & 1/4 - 1/2 cups milk

Sift dry ingredients. Cut in cream and milk with a knife. Work quickly into a dough on a floured bench.

Flatten into about a 1.5cm-high rectangle on a lightly floured or greased scone tray.
Cut using a scone cutter, or cut into squares with knife or pizza cutter and place on top shelf of very hot oven (220-230 degreesC) for about 10-12 minutes.

Serve warm with your favorite jam and whipped cream.

Notes: I used about 1 1/4 cups of milk. It seemed a little wet at first, but is easy to work with if your hands and bench are well floured. I also cooked them for a little longer - about 15 minutes.

Strawberry Jam

I love cooking things that remind me of my Nanny. She's been gone for over a year now, but I still think about her all the time. She was the person that taught me to cook, and as a child I loved going through all her recipe folders and looking at the old recipes passed down to her.

One of my favourite things to make with her was Jam. We would go the old brickworks and pick blackberries from the prickly bushes. My fingers would be stained a deep purple colour by the end of it, but I loved it because it was something special that we did together.

Now, we never made strawberry jam (it was usually blackberry or apricot), but I had the urge try making jam by myself for the first time with some old strawberries that I had. We would usually make a big batch on the stove, but this recipe uses the microwave.

It was really simple to make, only took 20 minutes, and there was no need to keep an eye on it.

Strawberry Jam
500 grams of strawberries, washed, hulled and chopped
375 grams of white sugar
Juice from 1 large lemon

Put the strawberries into a 3 litre capacity heatproof bowl (Very important: bowl has to be microwave-safe). Add the white sugar and 1/3 cup lemon juice.

Place the bowl in the microwave, uncovered, for 4 minutes on HIGH (100%) power. Then stir. Put the bowl back in the microwave for a further 15 minutes on HIGH (100%) power (the jam should still be runny) or until the jam reaches setting point.

To test if the strawberry jam has reached its setting point, place 1 teaspoon of jam onto a chilled saucer. Place the saucer in your freezer for 1 to 2 minutes or until jam is at room temperature. Run your finger through the jam. If the surface “wrinkles” and the jam stays in 2 separate portions, your strawberry jam ready to bottle. If not, cook for a little longer and test again.

Spoon your hot strawberry jam into the hot sterilised jars and pop the lid on straight away (the lid will eventually pop which means it has been seal correctly).

Sterilise the jam jars and lids by washing them in hot soapy water and rinse well. Place jam jars and lids in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil and boil for about 10 minutes. Then put jam jars and lids on to a baking tray lined with baking paper. Place in an oven preheated to 100°C (212°F) for 12-15 minutes or until dry.

Label, date and store jars in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight until ready to use. Give the jam at least 3 hours to set. Once the jar is opened, store in the fridge for 6 to 8 weeks