Tuesday, September 29, 2009

TWD - Chocolate Crunched Caramel Tart

This week’s TWD recipe is Chocolate Crunched Caramel Tart and was chosen by Carla of Chocolate Moussey. When I got to choose the TWD recipe nearly a year ago this would have been my second pick – a crisp tart shell filled with caramel and peanuts and topped with chocolate ganache. I scaled the recipe back to make only two small tarts.

Dorie’s shortcrust pastry is very easy to make and tastes delicious (almost as good raw as baked!). I rolled out enough to line my two little tart tins and then froze the rest for another day. The caramel layer was made by melting sugar in a pan, then adding a little corn syrup (known as liquid glucose here), then butter and then cream. I was a bit nervous about melting the sugar from scratch, so I did add little water to get it going. My caramel actually turned out pretty perfectly – it was the same dark toffee colour of the photo in the book. But I think next time I wouldn’t take the caramel quite as dark, to get a lighter flavour rather than a dark, smoky toffee flavour.

Once cooled a little, honey roasted peanuts are added to the caramel. I loved the effect of this which is interesting given that I don’t like things such as snickers bars. I did like the way though that the nuts gave a slightly salty taste to the caramel. I think that salted caramel flavour is one of the most wonderful things. The topping on the tart is a thick layer of ganache. I used 70% cocoa chocolate and once again, I think next time I would use a lighter chocolate – maybe 60% as the whole effect was quite rich.

My sister was up for the weekend and we kind of looked at each other thinking hmmm, this is going to be very rich. But we stood up to the challenge and the tart was wonderful – one of those things that you think you are not going to be able to eat very much of as it is just so rich, but you keep going back for another bite as it is just too good!!!

See if the other TWDers loved this tart here.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Cornflake Crunchies

I mentioned a couple of week’s ago that I had had a look through some of my Nana’s old recipe books. Last weekend I made these cookies from one of Nana’s books. They were called caramel biscuits in the book, but I am not sure that the title gives a very apt description of what they actually are.

The cookies are what I would call a good tin filler – they are delicious every day cookies, easy to make and the recipe yield is quite high. They are plain biscuits made more interesting with the addition of coconut and cornflakes. I also added cinnamon chips. Cinnamon chips aren’t available in New Zealand, but my lovely friend, Morven, bought me some on her recent trip to the States. Cinnamon chips have an interesting flavour – more of the kind of flavour you get from one of those cinnamon flavoured chewing gums rather than a spicy cinnamon flavour. They did go really well in these cookies though. You could substitute chocolate chips or even dried cranberries, raisins, sultanas etc for the cinnamon chips, or leave them plain as in the original recipe. The cookies will appeal if you like a crunchy cookie. I think I would re-name them cornflake crunchies.

Cornflake Crunchies

120g butter
¾ c sugar
1 tbsp condensed milk’
1 egg yolk
½ tsp vanilla
1 c flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
½ c coconut
1 c cornflakes
½ c cinnamon chips, chocolate chips or dried fruit of your choice (optional)

- cream butter and sugar
- Beat in condensed milk, then egg yolk and vanilla
- mix in remaining dry ingredients
- roll small balls of mixture into balls, place on tray and flatten with a wet fork
- Bake at 175c for 15 minutes or until golden

Friday, September 25, 2009

Wilton Course 4

My blog has been rather neglected of late and I must apologise for a rather short post. Hopefully next week will be better! This is the final cake I made for the fondant and gum paste Wilton course. To be honest it doesn’t really display any of the “skills” we learnt in the course, mainly because I didn’t like many of the effects we were taught – I prefer a simpler style.

I did like the contrast between the pale pink icing and dark chocolate cake for this cake. The wee flowers are dogwood rose shapes which give quite a contemporary look.

Fingers crossed for more blogging next week – I have been baking, just not blogging!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

TWD - Cottage Cheese Pufflets

This week’s TWD recipe is Cottage Cheese Pufflets chosen by Jacque of daisy Lane Cakes (you have to check out Jacque’s blog – it’s one of my favourites!). This was an interesting recipe – one I probably would have by-passed if I wasn’t baking with the group. It sounds very interesting and it is. Interestingly it is in the cookie section of the book – the name of the recipe to me indicates little muffin like cheese puffs, but these are in fact cookie type creations.

I only made a quarter of the recipe as I had done some other baking over the weekend and Dorie (quite rightly) advised that the pufflets are best eaten on the day of baking. The cookies are little squares of pastry made with butter, a little sugar, cottage cheese and flour. The dough is a very soft one and you have to chill it well before rolling out. I ended up making little square puffs rather than triangle and being the impatient person that I am, I didn’t roll the dough out as thinly as was recommended. Each little pufflet has a small dollop of jam in the centre (I used raspberry jam).

I liked these better than I thought I would. Although, I think they were at their best when they were still warm from the oven. I actually the pastry of these would be nice made with something savoury inside – like some pesto and prosciutto. I don’t think I would make them again as a sweet something though.

See what the other TWDers though of the pufflets here.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Something Different

I usually have porridge for breakfast – summer and winter. I love it and it is my favourite meal of the day. Lately it has left me filling a bit full and icky, so I decided that I would make some muesli in the weekend to give my body a bit of a change.

I am one of those unusual creatures who doesn’t like dried fruit. So shop bought muesli doesn’t really do it for me. If I am out and I have cereal I have to pick out all the sultanas and raisins – even one sultana will ruin my breakfast. So, the muesli I make for myself is pretty plain. Often I do put sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds or linseeds in it, but I kept this version pretty low key.

The muesli was simply made by mixing together rolled oats, whole almonds, about 50g melted butter, 1/3 c brown sugar and 2 tsp cinnamon. I spread the combined mixture on a baking tray and baked at 160c for 30 minutes. Keep an eye on it as the sugar can burn and then it is ruined. Once the muesli had cooled I mixed it with all bran for some extra fibre. It was perfect with mixed berry yoghurt and milk for breakfast this morning.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Old Fashioned Favourite

A sequel to one of my favourite books, Ladies, A Plate, has just been released. It’s called (quite cutely) A Second Helping. It’s full of more old fashioned favourite recipes, the kind I find in my Nana’s recipe books. I am lucky enough to have two of my Nana’s recipe books. They are the two cook books I treasure most from my vast collection. They are what I would call “community” cook books- recipes collated by women in a local community raising money for a particular cause. I love Nana’s handwritten notes in the margin. Treasures such as “Good!”, “Not as good as my recipe”, “Good for a party” and other such notes.

Having received “A Second Helping” it inspired me to look through Nana’s books again. I came across a recipe called chocolate cream slice. My blogging friend Morven said her mother used to make this and it was called keamish Square. It is a real old fashioned slice, but quite delicious. A chocolate base, layer of raspberry jam, layer of a kind of mock cream which is set with gelatine and then chocolate icing. My husband loved it. I really liked it too but it is quite sweet so you can really only eat a small bit at a time.

I’ve tagged a whole heap of other old fashioned recipes that I am going to try and report on in the coming months.

Chocolate Cream (or Kneamish) Square

120g butter
120g sugar
1 egg
180g flour
1 tbsp cocoa
1 tsp baking powder
Raspberry jam

• Cream butter and sugar; beat in egg
• Stir in dry ingredients.
• Press into lined 18 x 23cm tin and bake at 175c for 25 minutes
• When cold top with a layer of raspberry jam and then the following topping and then once that has set, ice with chocolate icing

120g butter
60g sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp gelatine dissolved in 3 tbsp cold water

• Cream butter and sugar
• Beat in remaining in ingredients until thick, pale and creamy

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Cake Decorating

I am currently doing course 4 of the Wilton cake decorating courses – this course focuses on fondant and gumpaste. To be honest it probably isn’t worth doing – well, that’s not quite right. The four lessons could quite easily be condensed down into two lessons. I actually had to miss a lesson last week as well as we were away on holiday.

Gum paste is like a much more expensive (4 time the price) version of fondant. The advantage it has over fondant is that it sets hard. Whereas fondant doesn’t completely dry hard. It is used to make flowers such as the carnations and daisies we were taught in the class. This little cake is a banana cake and is quite simply decorated with green and white stripes and whit daisies. We were meant to be doing a cake with a shawl thing on it. Well, I cannot imagine a situation where I would put a shawl of fondant on a cake, so I made my more simply decorated cake. It’s not perfect but it’s kind of cute.

I haven’t posted for ages on any week day meals we have had, mostly because the last three weeks or so have just passed by in a blur! Last night we had lovely fresh fish (terakihi). I sprinkled it with lemon zest, sea salt and pepper and drizzled it with lemon infused olive oil before roasting it at a high temperature for about 12 minutes. Just before it came out of the oven I sautéed some slivered almonds and cherry tomatoes in a little lemon infused olive oil, just until the nuts turned golden and the tomatoes started to pop out of their skins. I spooned this over the fish and served it with roast kumara, salad and home made hummus on the side. This was loosely based on a recipe in the latest Dish magazine.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

TWD - flaky apple turnovers

This week’s TWD recipe was chosen by Julie of Someone’s in the Kitchen and is Flaky Apple Turnovers. This is another one of those recipes that I probably wouldn’t have been rushing to make, but I was pleasantly surprised with.

The flakiness of the pastry dough for these turnovers comes from the “folding like an envelope” action when rolling the pastry, and the tenderness is aided by the addition of sour cream (in my case thick natural yoghurt). I just made a half recipe of the pastry, and even then only added about 2/3 of the butter, so my pastry probably wasn’t as flaky as it might have been – it just seemed to be an horrendous amount of butter!! I actually only ended up using enough pastry to make 3 apple turnovers and I froze the rest for another day.

The filling is simply sliced apples, cinnamon, sugar and a little four to thicken. The turnovers were delicious straight from the oven (I don’t think they would taste all that great cold). We had them with mixed berry yoghurt which was a delicious complement. See what the other TWDers thought here.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

TWD - Chocolate Souffle, Better late than Never!

Another short and sweet post. We came back from holiday yesterday – had a wonderful time in the beautiful bay of Islands. Weather was fabulous too. I wasn’t able to make last week’s TWD challenge to post on Tuesday, so here is my chocolate soufflé for last week chosen by Susan of She’s becoming Domestic. I made a half recipe. My soufflé puffed up beautifully in the oven and then spectacularly deflated when I took it out!! It still tasted delicious though and we had it with yoghurt for dessert.

Back to usual posting next week!!!

Friday, September 4, 2009

SPCA Cupcake Day

We are off on holiday next week so there wont be any posting. In the meantime, it was SPCA cupcake day on Monday and I made these cupcakes to take to work for people to “buy” as a donation to the SPCA. My favourite were the dogs – so cute. The dog cupcakes are chocolate cake and the cats are vanilla. See you all in a week!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Birthday Cupcakes

My sister, her husband and my gorgeous niece and nephew have been staying for the past week. While they were here, it was my sister’s birthday. In the weekend my other two sisters came up and we had a birthday picnic on Saturday. My 5 year old niece loves baking and on Saturday morning we made these cute cupcakes for my sister’s birthday. My niece is going to be a talented baker! She has immense patience for a 5 year old when baking and a steady hand when it comes to mixing, folding and even cracking open eggs (she cracked 7 eggs over the weekend for different things we baked and not one piece of shell at all).

These cupcakes are chocolate cupcakes decorated with whipped cream that we tinted pink. We sprinkled them with some pretty pink sprinkles that I bought from foodtown and then topped them with sugar roses that the lovely Lorraine from Not Quite Nigella sent me from Sydney. The purple rosebud is actually one that I made – my first attempt at a ribbon rose and I must say I was quite pleased with the outcome. I have just started course 4 of the Wilton cake decorating classes, so will be posting about my cakes in the next few weeks.

The cupcakes were delicious and the whipped cream topping was just perfect on the pretty cakes.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

TWD - Espresso Cheesecake brownie

As you can tell from my very slack posting I have been quite busy lately with family staying, busy at work and other things! So here is a very brief posting on this week’s TWD recipe which was chosen by Melissa of Life in a Peanut Shell and is Espresso Cheesecake Brownie. I made these for when I hosted book club at my house last week and they went down a real treat. Once again I must apologise for a rather terrible photo of a really delicious treat – a busy life means hurried photos.

These cheesecake brownie were more cheesecake than brownie – a brownie base with an espresso flavoured cheesecake topping and then a layer of sweetened sour cream on top. I am not a coffee drinker, but the coffee flavour of the cheesecake topping was not so pronounced as to bother a non coffee drinker. I am not sure what the sour cream topping added to be honest. I would have been just as happy without it. My sour cream topping didn’t set all that well – maybe the consistency of sour cream in New Zealand is different to that in the US?

Anyway, the result was that all the girls at book club loved the brownie. I did too - it was simple to make, although it did take a lot of ingredients. But, I would make it again. See if the other TWDers loved it as well here.