Thursday, October 29, 2009

Lemon Slice for Hospice

I mentioned last week that it was Baking for Hospice time again and I made the cupcakes I posted about last week. I also made this lemon slice. I have been so lucky this year in that I havent had to buy lemons once. I have been supplied by friends and also from the lemon tree at one of our rental properties. I have had enough to cook and bake with and also to preserve. My friend who was staying with me actually chose this recipe for me to make for hospice. It is from A Second Helping, the sequel to Ladies, A Plate.

The slice has a thin shortbread style base and then a lemon curd style topping. The slice makes a large one, but it is quite thin. I was tempted to make it in a smaller tin, but lemon slice is one of those things, that should be delicate, not thick and stodgy. The recipe didn’t say to use the zest of the lemon, but I did and I think that added to the texture, if not to the flavour. The recipe also suggested drizzling the top with chocolate. Now, I am a real chocolate lover, but I just cant imagine chocolate on lemon slice. Perhaps white chocolate, but definitely not dark. I just sprinkled my slice with icing sugar.

Lemon Slice (method adapted but ingredients the same - from A Second Helping by Alexa Johnston)

170g butter
105g icing sugar
180g flour

• Cream butter and icing sugar; stir in flour to make a dough
• Press dough into a lined 20x30cm slice tin and bake at 180c for 15-20 minutes or until golden

55g softened butter
200g sugar
15g flour
Juice and zest of three lemons
3 eggs

• Gently combine all ingredients with a whisk
• Pour over hot base and bake at 180c for a further 30 minutes
• When cold remove from tin and cut into slices. Dust with icing sugar

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Cherry Fudge Brownie Torte

This week’s TWD recipe is Cherry Fudge Brownie Torte and was chosen by April of Short & Rose. It’s a shame that there isn’t a photo of this recipe in Dorie’s book as I actually think this has been one of my favourite recipes that we have made so far. In saying that, it was an expensive recipe to make as it had lots of chocolate, butter, mascarpone, cream cheese and cream in it (yes, not the weight watchers special) but it was truly delicious. I probably would have made a scaled down version of this recipe, except we have my in-laws staying with us at the moment and I thought they would enjoy having the leftovers in the fridge for a few days.

This dessert has a very rich brownie base which is studded with dried sour cherries. I have never seen dried sour cherries in the usual places I shop, so I actually used bottled cherries. This also meant that I left out the step where you flambĂ©ed the dried cherries in kirsch – the most challenging part of the recipe. I think I probably preferred the canned cherries in the tort as I don’t like dried fruit. I also got the opportunity to open my beautiful jar of French cherry preserves which I bought at the food show a few months ago.

The topping is a decadent mixture of cream cheese, mascarpone, sugar and cream – like a cheesecake topping, but not too sweet – the sweetness comes from the brownie base. Dorie suggested decorating the top of the torte with pureed cherry preserves. However, I didn’t really want to use my expensive French preserves for that, so I used raspberry jam – completely different flavour I know, but it did have the visual effect I was after. Christmas is at our place this year and I think that I may make a raspberry version of the torte for Christmas, using fresh raspberries instead of the cherries and then decorating the top of the torte with fresh raspberries.

I loved this recipe and will definitely be making this again. See if the other TWDers loved it as much as we did here.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Holiday Slice

I mentioned yesterday that my friend and her children were up last weekend, so I wouldn’t to fill the tins with something “child friendly”. I had a look through my books and ended up picking a slice from a book which was one of my very first recipe books. The book is a community cookbook from Orepuki, a small community in rural Southland where my mother’s cousins lived. I think I got the book when I was about 9 and even then I have ticked recipes and written “good” beside them in the same way my Nana had in her cook books.

There is a great baking section in this book, lots of great tin fillers. I picked a recipe called holiday slice which sounds pretty boring but is actually delicious. The recipe has cornflakes in it and I chose if because even though we don’t eat cornflakes for breakfast, I bought some a while ago to make afghans and I ended up buying a huge box as it looked nicer on my pantry shelf than a bag of cornflakes! So I wanted to use some more up.

The slice recipe is the easiest kind to make and would be great to bake with kids. You mix all your dry ingredients in a bowl, stir in melted butter, press into a tin, bake and then ice with chocolate icing. I added more cocoa to mine to give it a more chocolatey flavour and I also added an egg yolk, as my mixture was a little dry and more melted butter would have given a very crisp slice rather than the slightly chewy one I wanted to create. Once I had iced the slice I covered it with these cute sprinkles I found at foodtown – they are a combination of hundreds and thousands, long sprinkles (which I think are called jimmies in the states) and stars. They are so cute and really made my slice appealing to the kids. I cut the slice into little two bite pieces. The kids weren’t the only ones that loved it – the adults thought it was pretty good too.

Holiday Slice

1 c flour
1 c cornflakes
1c sugar
3 tbsp cocoa
1 tsp baking powder
1 c coconut
150g butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg yolk

• Combine dry ingredients, then stir in melted butter and vanilla. If the mixture is still a little dry add the egg yolk
• Press into a lined 27 x 18 cm tin and bake at 180c for 20 minutes
• When cold ice with chocolate icing and sprinkle with hundreds and thousands, coconut or chocolate hail

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Cupcakes for Hospice

Last Sunday was another “baking for hospice” run. I had my friend and her 4 year old and 18 month old staying with me, so the 4 year old and I decided to make cupcakes as part of my contribution to baking for hospice. After a big day out at the zoo, shopping and visiting a friend with a newborn baby, I wanted an easy non-demanding recipe to make. Something that a 4 year old could easily help me with. So I looked to my Ladies, A Plate book and decided to make the recipe in there for cupcakes. It is a very simple cream the butter and sugar, add the eggs, then the dry ingredients and milk style recipe. The cakes are plain vanilla ones, but you could change the flavouring by adding citrus zest, replacing cocoa for flour or even tinting the mixture with food colouring to get coloured cupcakes.

The recipe made 12 standard sized cupcakes. The next morning we made buttercream icing, tinting it a pale pink, and spread it on the cupcakes, topping each one with a royal icing flower which I made some time ago. My little friend decorated hers with heart shaped sprinkles. I love how something as simple as pretty pink icing and a flower can turn an otherwise plain cupcake into something special.

Cupcakes (from Ladies, A Plate)

115g butter
150g sugar
2 eggs
180g flour
1 tsp baking powder
115ml milk
1 tsp vanilla

• Cream butter and sugar, beat in eggs, one at a time
• Combine flour and baking powder and fold into the creamed mixture alternately with the milk and vanilla
• Spoon into cupcake cases and bake at 180c for 20 minutes or until cooked through.
• When cold decorate with buttercream icing

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

TWD - Sweet Potato Biscuits

This week’s TWD recipe is Sweet Potato Biscuits and was chosen by Erin from Prudence Pennywise. This recipe requires a bit of a translation for New Zealand readers, as in NZ, sweet potato are called kumara (the Maori word for the variety of sweet potato that grows here) and biscuits are actually akin to our scones – a biscuit in NZ is really a cookie.

Also, in NZ we don’t have canned sweet potato (I cant even imagine what that would be like!). So in order to make the biscuits, I steamed a whole beauregard kumara (the orange fleshed variety of kumara) and mashed it. This meant that I had to add a little milk to my biscuit dough, as the mashed kumara by itself was a bit dry. I halved the recipe and instead of making the biscuits into little rounds as the recipe suggested, I cut four scone sized biscuits from the dough.

I loved these. The kumara gave a real tenderness to the biscuits. They were light and flaky and just delicious. We ate them warm with butter even though Dorie said that they are best a while after they are cooked. I would be interested to see how different mine were using fresh kumara as opposed to canned sweet potato.

See what the other TWDers thought here.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Ricotta Bites

A few weeks ago we went to friends for dinner and I volunteered to make a plate of nibbles. I ended up making these tasty wee bites, which are ricotta and ham bites, loosely based on a recipe in a donna Hay magazine. They are very easy to make and are really tasty. They are sort of like mini quiches but I think are almost simpler to make.

To make them combine a 200g tub of ricotta with an egg, grated parmesan to taste and some chopped herbs (I used chopped basil). Season well with salt and pepper – one of the things I learned at the cooking classes I used to attend at the Epicurean is that with nibbles, it is important to season well, as it is just one mouthful and you want to leave a lasting impression. Spray mini muffin tins with non stick spray (I use a rice bran oil spray), line with prosciutto, or use strips of shaved ham as I did, fill with a teaspoon of the ricotta mixture and bake at 180c for about 12 minutes or until browned and set.

Leave for a few minutes before loosening and removing from tin. You could add all sorts of different flavourings such as pesto, sun dried tomatoes, different cheeses, tomato relish etc.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Double Chocolate Cookies

A couple of issues ago there was a recipe in Dish magazine for double chocolate cookies. My sister who also subscribes to the magazine made them and didn’t rate the recipe that highly. I made them in the weekend and actually thought that they were really great. I did modify the recipe just a little to include 2 egg yolks rather than a full egg and 1 egg yolk. I made this recipe using white chocolate and dark chocolate buttons. They, of course, would be much nicer using real chocolate.

The butter in this recipe is melted rather than softened. I think this is what gives the cookies the great texture which is crisp but chewy at the same time. I think I might try these again with equal amounts of white and brown sugar which would hopefully still give the chewy texture but perhaps give a lighter colour to the finished product.

Double Chocolate Cookies (adapted from Dish magazine)

190g butter
½ c sugar
1 c brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 egg yolks
2 c flour
½ tsp baking soda
¾ c each dark and white chocolate chips or buttons

• Melt butter and whisk in sugars
• Whisk in vanilla and egg yolks and then stir in the balance of the ingredients
• Roll mixture into balls and flatten slightly with the palm of your hand
• Bake at 170c for 15 minutes or until golden

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

TWD - Allspice Crumb Muffins

This week’s TWD recipe is Allspice crumb Muffins and was chosen by Kayte of At first glance I didn’t think these muffins had a lot going for them – they had nothing of interest to note other than a crumb topping – no fruit, chocolate etc to make them interesting. However, I completely underestimated how delicious they were in their plainness.

The muffins are subtly flavoured with allspice, one of those spices that you only use every now and again. I was tempted to put more spice in the muffins as half a teaspoon didn’t seem to be enough, but it was just right. I actually pretty much stuck to the ingredients as listed. Usually when I made muffins I try to make them a little more healthy by using rice bran oil, and always no more than ¼ c, and only even use one egg. I decided to stick with the butter with these muffins, and while I would normally cut the amount of butter in half, this time I scaled it back to 90g which was about ¾ of that stated in the recipe. I figured that the butter was an important taste factor in the muffins.

One thing I did do was use half wholemeal flour and half plain. This gave the muffins a bit more of a healthy bent (more fibre) and I think was a welcome addition. The crumb topping was delicious, but you could as easily halve the crumb mixture and still have enough to top all your muffins – I ended up throwing about half of mine away.

The verdict on these muffins was that they were delicious. I think they were particularly good warm from the oven and I actually buttered mine (a rare treat in this day and age!). I would definitely make these again using my wholemeal variation. See what the other TWDers thought here.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Simple and Cute

Quick Sunday afternoon post. It is a gorgeous day here - seems like the first fine weather weekend day in ages. I'm about to go and do some things outside, but thought I would post this photos of these cookies I made for my sister last week. they are simply shortbread cookies cut into rounds, then decorated with pink and white icing. I actually really like the one with the pink sprinkles on it.

Every weekend I think to myself that I am going to practice my cookie and cake decorating, but each weekend gets so caught up in household chores and other things that I run out of time. We've got a long weekend coming up in a couple of weeks, so fingers crossed for then!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Tan Square

I wrote a couple of weeks ago that the sequel to “Ladies, A Plate” had been published. My youngest sister, who as I have mentioned before loves caramel slice, was up a couple of weeks ago, so it was the perfect opportunity to try the tan square from Ladies, A Plate, a second helping. Tan Square is a caramel slice which has a shortcake style base, a caramel filling and then a topping which is some of the base mixture reserved and crumbled over the top.

Traditional tan square has a rather mean layer of caramel in it, and as with the way most slices were back in the 1950s and 1960s (judging by the quantities in recipe books of that era) the slice was a thinner more delicate version of the huge hunks of slice we see cafes today. I must admit though when it comes to caramel slice, be it tan square or any other version, my preference is for thick caramel and a decent wedge of biscuit base on the bottom. So, I did play around with this recipe quite a bit, doubling the caramel mixture and also making more base than suggested. The original recipe had chopped walnuts added to the crumble topping – I left those out and just added more chocolate chips. My other trick to making a delicious caramel slice is to slightly under cook it, giving a deliciously gooey slice. If you don’t have access to golden syrup, you could add some brown sugar, but you wont get quite the same syrupy flavour to the caramel. I guess you could also try maple syrup but that will also give you a slightly different taste.

Tan Square (adapted from so as to not really even resemble the recipe in A Second helping)

250g butter
125g sugar
1 tsp vanilla
420g flour
½ c chocolate chips

• Cream butter, sugar and vanilla
• Mix in flour
• Spread 2/3 of the mixture into a lined 23cm square tin. Pop the rest of the mixture into the fridge while you make the caramel

60g butter
2 generous tbsp golden syrup
1 400g can condensed milk

• Stir ingredients together in a small pot over a gentle heat until butter is melted and the caramel is thick
• Pour over the base, then stir the chocolate chips into the reserved base mixture and crumble over the caramel
• Bake at 175c for 20-25 minutes until golden

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

TWD - Split Level Pudding

This week’s TWD recipe was chosen by Garett of Flavour of Vanilla and is Split Level Pudding. This is a recipe I have been looking forward to making for a long time – Dorie explains it as being a recipe that appeals to vanilla lovers and chocolate lovers alike.

You will have to forgive the poor photography – I made the puddings late in the day on Sunday and by the time I went to photograph them all natural light had gone and I just couldn’t get them to look as good as they tasted.

The split level pudding is a layer of chocolate ganache topped with a set vanilla custard. I made a third of the recipe and made the puddings in two high ball glasses. This made enough for a medium sized pudding each for my husband and me. The pudding was made with the aid of a food processor – you blended the egg yolk, sugar and cornflour with hot milk and then thickened it over a medium heat on the stove. You were then meant to blitz the pudding in the food processor and add some vanilla and butter. Me being me, I only skim read the recipe and had dismantled and put away my food processor before my pudding had thickened. So, I just whisked the pudding like mad once it came off the stove. I didn’t add the butter because I didn’t really think that the pudding needed it.

I enjoyed this pudding. I think the chocolate ganache was a wonderful addition (maybe I am a chocolate not a vanilla girl?), as you could dip your spoon in for a small addition of the chocolate to eat with a spoon of vanilla pudding, rather than getting an overt chocolate flavour. I would make this again, but next time I think I would make more ganache so that the ratio of chocolate to vanilla was more like 40:60 rather than about 20:80.

See what the other TWDers thought here.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Jaffa Cupcakes

A couple of weeks ago we met some friends for afternoon tea at Cornwall Park. I made these jaffa cupcakes to take. It’s quite a long story as to how I decided to make jaffa cupcakes, but here goes……

A few weeks ago I decided to make fudge for some gifts. I wanted to use a recipe from a Jo Seagar cook book which involved melting marshmallows, adding melted chocolate and other things. Instead of going to the supermarket, I stopped at the service station on the way home to buy the marshmallows. There I spotted a bag of orange flavoured M & Ms which cutely only have white or orange candy coatings. I thought they would be good add ins to the fudge to make it look a bit more decorative.

Well, the fudge was a disaster! I melted the marshmallows and butter in the microwave for he advised amount of time, but it must have been a bit long and overheated the marshmallow mixture, as when I added the chocolate the whole things seized. Well, I was determined that roughly $10 worth of ingredients wasn’t going into the bin, so I beat the fudge like crazy until it sort of came together. I didn’t want to waste my m & ms by putting them into sub-standard fudge (which actually ended up tasting ok in the end anyway) so I saved them for another day.

So, when I was deciding what cupcakes to make to our picnic afternoon tea, I thought I would use the orange and white m & ms to decorate them with. I had some lovely Kerikeri oranges in the fruit bowl after our trip to the bay of islands and thought Jaffa Cupcakes would be perfect. However, in the end I decided not to decorate them with the orange M & Ms after all – they are still stashed in my pantry. Instead I topped the cakes with whipped cream (I still reckon this is the best cupcake topping as it pipes like a dream and I don’t find it too sweet) and sprinkled them with orange coloured sugar. Simple but delicious.

Jaffa Cupcakes

100g butter
2/3 c sugar
2 large eggs
3 tbsp cocoa dissolved in 3 tbsp hot water
Zest of one orange
3 tsbp freshly squeezed orange juice
2/3 c self raising flour

• Cream butter and sugar, then beat in eggs, one at a time
• Beat in cocoa dissolved in water and orange zest
• Fold in remaining ingredients
• Spoon into cupcake cases ( I got 11 cupcakes) and bake at 180c for 17-20 minutes
• When cold top with chocolate icing made with orange juice instead of water or whipped cream

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Decorating Brownie

Last week when my sister was up we went to the Wilton brownie decorating course. This is apparently the latest Wilton thing. I hadn’t really thought about decorating brownie before, but of course, the same techniques can be used on any slab cake cut into shapes or just on cupcakes. I enjoyed it for two reasons – it was something fun to do with my sister and secondly it was actually quite good to do a bit of a refresher course on the basic icing skills I learnt in course 1.

Now that daylight savings has arrived and the days are getting longer and slightly warmer we are starting to have a few more salad type meals – and of course asparagus! This salad is one that we had last week. I pan fried lamb leg steaks, sliced them and then combined with baby spinach leaves, sliced roasted red peppers, roast red onions and roasted chunks of kumara. I drizzled the lot with balsamic drizzle. Tasty and pretty at the same time.

I also want to mention that you may or may not have noticed that I didn’t post a daring bakers challenge this week. Life has become even busier lately and I have made the decision that the only blog challenge I will continue to participate in is TWD – lately I have been making my Daring Baker challenges in a real rush and not giving them the time they deserve, so I have decided to retire my DB apron strings – at least for the next little while!