Monday, November 29, 2010

Missing in Action

Hi everyone

I've had a few e-mails lately about my blog, making sure I am ok. I am great - thanks everyone :0) I am just really busy. Work is busy, Harry keeps me busy and just lately blogging is just another thing to do! So, while I may come back to it some day soon, at the moment I am having a wee break to refresh!

Tammy :0)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Quick and Easy Home Made Gifts

Harry had a very busy Sunday a couple of weeks ago as we had been invited to a second birthday party in the morning and a first birthday in the afternoon. In my pre Harry days I would have spent ages decorating little biscuits for my friends children, but with time being a bit more precious, these easy but still cute shortbread cookies were the quick version of decorated cookies.

A set of number shaped cutters are a great thing to have on hand to make quick and easy birthday gifts. These cookies were obviously for the two year old’s present. I simply made the shortbread in the number 2 shapes, whipped up a batch of royal icing (I whisk an egg white until frothy and then whisk in the desired amount of icing sugar – this kind of icing is less runny than glace icing and also sets to a nice thick consistency) and sprinkled over “boy” coloured sprinkles. The one year old party was for a girl and I made Number 1 shaped cookies and sprinkled them with pink sprinkles. In the past I have also made these for adult presents (a bag of 5s and 0s for a 50 year old, 3s and 0s for a thirty year old etc. Even just decorating the cookies with coloured icing gives some impact.

Friday, October 22, 2010

FFwD - Hachis Parmentier

This week’s FFwD recipe is Hachis Parmentier. If there was no photo of the recipe in the book, I would have gathered from the name of the recipe that it is some kind of hash, and that is one way of describing this recipe. Dorie describes it as a French version of Shepherds Pie. The full recipe, which my sister made, takes a long time as it involves making your own beef broth and cooking basically a casserole before topping it with a cheesy potato mash. I made the quick version which is made with mince, and I am glad I did as my sister said she felt like she did a lot for what is essentially a fancy shepherds pie. I am sure Hayley’s hachis had a much greater depth of flavour than mine. I actually added more tomato paste to my meat mixture to give it a bit more depth. I am not a lover of shepherds pie or mashed potato, but I did think that the grated cheese through the potato and scattered over the top was a nice touch. See what the other FFwDers thought here.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Cupcakes, At Last!

Last week book club was at my house, so for the first time in a long time, I made cupcakes. For my birthday at the start of the year, one of my good friends gave me the hummingbird bakery cook book. It is a lovely book full of delicious cakes, cupcakes, muffins etc but I had only ever made cookies from it. I had a look through it and found this recipe for peaches and cream cupcakes. They sounded delicious and also easy as they used a drained tin of peaches rather than fresh peaches.

The other thing I liked about the recipe is that it only had one egg and only 40g of butter. So many cupcake recipes have huge quantities of butter and numerous eggs, so not only was the recipe easy, it was also economical and fairly low in fat. Instead of making a buttercream icing, I topped the cakes with swirls of whipped cream. I love using whipped cream to top cupcakes, as I love cream far more than icing and it negates the need to serve some cream alongside the cakes. I made the cakes in pretty blue cupcake cases and topped them with little silver balls and blue flowers which I made a while ago. I think they looked really elegant and my book club friends enjoyed them too.

Peaches and Cream Cupcakes (from the Hummingbird Bakery cook book)

120g flour
140g sugar
1 ½ tsp baking powder
40g softened butter
120ml milk
1 egg
400g tin peaches, drained

• Combine flour, sugar and baking powder, then mixing in the softened butter using a cake mixer
• Combine the egg and milk and then gradually add to the dry ingredients. Mix to combine
• Place two slices of peach in each of 12 cupcake cases. Divide the cake mixture between the cases and bake at 170c for 20-25 minutes

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

TWD - Caramel Pumpkin Pie

Short but sweet post today. TWD recipe is Caramel Pumpkin Pie and was chosen by Janelle of Mortensen Family Memoirs. Pumpkin Pie is not big in NZ and I think this is only the second time I have made it. I thought this pie was ok. I didn’t really love the highly caramelised flavour of the pie. I prefer my caramel to be on the sweeter, creamier side rather than the highly sugared almost burnt caramel flavour. I halved the recipe and made two mini pies, and cooked the rest of the pie filling in a small ramekin for my gluten free mum who was up staying over the weekend. Mum hadn’t tried pumpkin pie before and loved it. See if the other TWDers enjoyed it here.

Friday, October 15, 2010

FFwD - Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup

This week’s FFwD recipe is Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup. Goodness, this was a hard recipe to photograph nicely! The soup almost has Thai flavours without the curry paste. It’s a coconut milk based recipe with fish sauce to season, chicken gently poached in the soup and noodles. There were also a myriad of things you cold flavour the soup with - I was a bit boring and just used lime juice.

The soup was nice – probably nicer the next day once all the flavours had had a good chance to meld together. I think if I made it again I would make the curry paste version just to give it a bit more depth of flavour. Check out the other FFwDers’ versions here.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Improvising for Harry

When I am cooking dinner for my husband and I like to think of ways I can make a version of what we are having for Harry. Last week I made us a basmati rice, eggplant and lamb mince dish which had Moroccan flavours. It was obviously too spicy for Harry and also I don’t salt his food, and I found this dish needed a reasonable amount of salt to bring out the flavour. So after browning the mince with a little garlic, I put some in a different pot for Harry and added some rice and frozen peas. I cooked this mixture until the rice was cooked through.

Now by itself, this was pretty bland as you can imagine. I thought of adding tomatoes, but Harry has quite sensitive cheeks and I don’t want to give him anything too acidic until he is a little older. So, instead, I grated some cheese and stirred this through the mince mixture. I also added a cube of mashed pumpkin from the freezer. This mince and rice dish actually turned into a very tasty little dish. Harry loved it – it was a bit like risotto. And no, I didn’t let him eat it with his hands as the photo suggests –once again, trying to capture a little of Harry, he was too quick for me and had his hand in the bowl before I knew where I was. But I always have a wet cloth at the ready for times like those. My mum always says when we were kids she walked round with a hairbrush in one hand and a face cloth in the other – I think I will be the same!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

TWD - Fold Over Pear Torte

This week’s TWD recipe was chosen by my good blogging friend Gaye of Laws of the Kitchen. I was interested to see what Gaye would pick and she chose the Fold Over Pear Torte. Gaye said she chose it because there is no photo in the book and she was curious as to what it would look like. Reading through the recipe I must say it wasn’t one that I would pick first, but once it was made, it was so delicious I would definitely make it again!

I ended up making this torte on Sunday afternoon. As it would be just my husband and me eating it, I quartered the recipe and made it in a little 10cm round cake tin. Because of the size of my tin and the amount of pastry I had, my torte ended up looking like a pie. The crust is Dorie’s good for anything pie crust and it is delicious. In this case it was used to line a spring form tin and then was filled with a mixture of chopped pears, dried apricots and walnuts – I subbed flaked almonds for the walnuts. The fruit was then topped with a custard flavoured with vanilla and almond essence, the pie crust folded over the top and the torte baked.

We ate the torte warm out of the oven. It would have been wonderful with whipped cream, but we ate it with no accompaniment as we did the dishes after we put Harry to bed. Yum! Thanks Gaye for choosing something I may not have otherwise made! See what the other TWDers thought here.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Elusive Metro Chocolate Chip Cookie

Many years ago I tried a chocolate chip cookie in a cafĂ© called Metro in Christchurch. It was the best chocolate chip cookie I had tasted – large chunks of chocolate, a texture that I guess is not crisp or chewy but is almost cakey, and large, oversized cookies. I remember at the time trying to re-create the metro cookie and I got pretty close – I even rang them at one stage to see if they would part with the recipe, but no luck!

Well, for her birthday I gave my sister a subscription to the foodtown magazine and she rang me a couple of weeks ago to say that a reader had written in requesting metro’s chocolate chip cookie recipe and they had printed it!! Hayley sent me through the recipe and it seems that the secret ingredient is not ground almonds as I had thought, but caramelised condensed milk. Now, I would never have guessed this, as whenever I have used caramelised condensed milk in cookies, I have ended up with quite soft cookies. Also, the cookies have a much higher ratio of flour than my usual recipe and less baking powder. The mixture is quite dry, but persevere with mixing that flour in. Nevertheless I faithfully used the recipe and I had them – the elusive metro chocolate chip cookie! This is one of the best. I also think that milk chocolate goes well in these cookies – usually I prefer dark chunks, but try milk chocolate in these.

Metro Chocolate Chip Cookies

250g butter
½ c sugar
2 tbsp caramelised condensed milk
3 c flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 ½ c milk chocolate buttons

• Cream butter, sugar and caramelised condensed milk
• Stir in flour, baking powder and lastly the chocolate
• Form large balls of dough and press down lightly with a fork
• Bake at 170c for 15-18 minutes or until golden and firm

Friday, October 8, 2010

FF - Gerard's Mustard Tart

Today’s French Friday recipe is Gerard’s Mustard Tart. This is a leek and carrot tart with a custard filling with two types of mustard in it – Dijon mustard and wholegrain mustard. I always have both those mustards in the fridge and buy the Maille brand which is French. Maille mustards are fairly mild, so there wasn’t too much kick from the mustard.

I had some tomatoes at home, so substituted those for the carrots. Dorie’s recipe said to pour the custard into the tart shell and then arrange the vegetables on top. I did that, but if I was making the tart again, I would put the vegetables in and then pour the custard over the top. My leeks browned quite a lot and I think this was because I had more leek than I needed.

This was a yummy tart though. The home made shortcrust pastry is a winner and as we love mustard, the mustard filling was very yummy. See what the other FFwDers thought here.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Semolina for Harry

I love childhood puddings (custard, tapioca, semolina etc) so it has been a pleasure to start making these puddings for Harry. Semolina has always been a favourite of mine and it must be years since I had it, but when you make it in the microwave, it is such a quick and easy pudding to make. It is also really stable, so you can make some today and then keep it in the fridge for a couple of days.

To make enough for two servings (when combined with fruit), put 125ml full fat milk, 2 tbsp semolina, ½ tsp sugar (or to taste) and ½ tsp vanilla into a microwave proof jug and stir. Microwave on high for 1 minute, then stir. The semolina pudding may need another 20-30 seconds to thicken it up a bit. Let it cool and then stir through your fruit of choice. You could have the semolina plain, but I like the idea of naturally sweetening it with a bit of fruit, and it also means that your baby is getting the goodness of the fruit as well.

Last week I mixed peaches and apple into semolina. This week I made pineapple semolina, by putting a drained can of pineapple pieces in the food processor and processing to the desired consistency (a little bit chunky for Harry at 8 months). I then stirred about three tablespoons of this and three tablespoons of pureed apple through the semolina. Harry absolutely loved it and so did I! I could easily eat this for my lunch too.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

TWD - Double Apple Bundt Cake

This week’s TWD recipe is Double Apple Bundt Cake and was chosen by Lynne of Honey Muffin. I made this on Saturday when we had my husband’s brother, his wife, her son and his friend staying with us. We had it for pudding after eating fresh snapper my husband had caught in the afternoon (delicious!!).

This cake was amazing. Everyone went back for seconds. It had a real apple flavour, but because it used grated apple instead of chunks of apple, it was much nicer on the palate. I must confess, I don’t know what apple butter is, which is one of the ingredients. I’ts not something we have in NZ and I can only imagine that it is a bit like lemon curd. So I did a substitution of apple jelly, using an apple jelly I had made quite a few years ago, but never used. Perhaps that was the secret ingredient to this delicious, moist cake. I drizzled over a lemon drizzle made simply with icing sugar and lemon juice. We had it with whipped cream. Perfect!

See what the other TWDers thought here.

Friday, October 1, 2010

French Fridays - Gougeres

Today is the first day of a new challenge called French Fridays with Dorie and I, with a large number of others round the world (including my sister who I have convinced to participate) will be cooking our way through Dorie Greenspan’s latest book, At my French Table. Each week a new recipe will be selected and I will be cooking it and blogging about it on Fridays. The book is a beautiful book and full of lots of lovely recipes that I cant wait to cook.

The first month’s recipes have been chosen by Dorie herself and today’s recipe is Gougeres, the first recipe in the book. Gougeres are light, savoury choux pastries. They are made using the choux pastry method of boiling butter and water, adding flour and cooking the paste, then beating in eggs and in this case, finally cheese. My sister is staying with us at the moment and we made these together on Wednesday night. They are delicious warm from the oven and would be the perfect thing to have as a pre-dinner nibble with drinks. Hayley and I finished them just before bed time and we ate a couple each and then I popped the rest in the freezer. I will re-heat them in the oven another time when we have people over for drinks.

See what the other FF participants thought of gougeres here.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Baby Food

My Mum has been saying to me for a while that she bets a lot of my blog readers would be interested in the food I make Harry. I said I think most of my readers are more into the baking side of things than the baby side of things, but I was talking to one of my good friends last week who has two gorgeous little girls and she said she thinks that people would be interested in ideas for baby food. So I have decided to do the odd post about food for babies.

Baking has always been my thing, but since Harry started on solids, I have found that I have a real love of and interest in food for babies. It is very exciting that he is almost 8 months, as a whole new world of food opens as he is able to have cooked milk from then. I actually introduced it a couple of weeks ago, as Harry is off the plunket scale in terms of weight and height, so as he is the size of a one year old, I figured two weeks early would be fine (and in the old days when I was a baby, babies drank whole milk at 6 months old and I am fine!).

There are two recipes I want to share. First is a very easy custard recipe. Tinned baby custard is actually yucky when you compare it to the home made version and the home made version is incredibly quick to make! All you do is combine 125ml of full fat milk in a small microwave jug with 2 tsp corn flour, ½ tsp vanilla, 1 egg yolk and I add ½ tsp sugar. Microwave on high for 1 minute, stir and then microwave again in 10 second bursts until the custard is thick. I then add some pureed fruit to give more sweetness and substance. This is delicious! Pureed pear is particularly nice.

The second recipe I made up in the weekend and is a chicken and cous cous concoction. I put ¼ c cous cous to soak in 1/3 c boiling water, covered and then set aside. I then softened ¼ onion, chopped in a little butter and then added 2 diced free range chicken thighs and browned them. Peel and chop a large kumara (sweet potato) and add to your pot. Cover with water and the juice of an orange and simmer until the kumara is cooked through. Blend the whole lot in a food processor until you get the desired consistency and then mix in your cous cous. It is surprising how tasty this is even without salt. I freeze the mixture in cubes and then bring them out when I need to. I also cook and blend green vegetables, freeze them in ice cubes and then bring out a cube of the required green vegetable to mix with my meat and starch base. Harry loves it!!

Please let me know if this post interested you – and credit to my gorgeous hand model Harry (excuse the blurriness though, as I had to take the photo quickly before he swiped the camera and the container of food!!)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

TWD - Tarte Fine

This week’s TWD recipe is Tarte Fine and was chosen by Leslie of Lethally Delicious. In the book Dorie says that a tarte fine is also known as apple pizza in the States and it is essentially finely sliced apples baked on a flaky pastry base. This isn’t a recipe that I would have chosen to make as while I love apple pie, I love the shortcrust pastry version – but I am not really a lover of flaky pastry.

I actually made this recipe in a hurry last night. I had bought the flaky pastry in the weekend but for some reason didn’t get round to making the tart. I had bought a roll of ready rolled pastry, but then forgot to defrost it, so I ended up putting it in the microwave which I know is a huge no no when it comes to pastry, but it didn’t seem to have any real detrimental effect. I made the variation of the tart and instead of using an egg wash, I brushed the apples with melted butter and sprinkled over sugar. Even though I was sceptical as to whether I would like this tart or not, it was the perfect speedy dessert (it probably took 5 minutes in total to prepare), it was actually delicious with vanilla ice cream. See if the other TWDers enjoyed it here.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Gluten Free for Mum

My mum is gluten free and when she comes to stay, I like to experiment with different recipes to see if I can make a normal kind of recipe gluten free without having to go and buy fancy flours etc. The easiest way to do this is to pick a recipe that doesn’t have a huge flour quantity in it and then use rice flour and cornfour as a substitute. The peach and white chocolate friands are a good example of that, and because they have a large nut content, even you cant really taste the rice flour in them.

For these gluten free friands, I took my usual friand recipe and simply substituted rice flour for flour. The rest of the recipe is exactly the same. I made the friands in cupcake cases, as even though I have friand tins, I do find it quite frustrating trying to get the cakes out of the tins, and then cleaning the tins is not easy. I used ground macadamia nuts in these friands, but you could use ground almonds instead, and I have also used coconut which is a more cost effective way of making friands. These friands are white chocolate and peach, because that is a combination that my mother loves, but I have also made them with coconut and added raspberries and white chocolate, almond and pear is another good one. If you don’t need to make these little cakes gluten free, just use normal flour.

Gluten Free Peach and White Chocolate Friands

150g butter, melted
6 egg whites, lightly whisked together just to break them up
1 ½ c icing sugar
1 c ground macadamia nuts
1/2c rice flour
150g white chocolate, chopped
1 drained tin of peaches

• Combine the melted butter, egg whites, icing sugar, grounds nuts and rice flour. Stir in the chocolate
• Spoon into friand tins or cupcake cases and top each cake with two slices of peach
• bake at 170c for 25 minutes or until cooked through

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

TWD - Coffee-Break Muffins

This week’s TWD recipe is Coffee Break Muffins and was chosen by Rhiani of Chocoholic Anonymous. I try to have muffins in the freezer for my husband for his lunches at all times, so it was appropriate to make these as I needed to make muffins to stock up the freezer in the weekend. The only thing is that neither my husband nor I are coffee drinkers, so I usually wouldn’t purposely make something coffee flavoured. This muffins are quite strongly coffee flavoured as well, using a cup of coffee instead of milk and also having an added tablespoon of espresso powder.

I decided to add chocolate chips to the muffins to give them a little more oomph and to perhaps add something extra to detract a little from the whole coffeeness of the muffins. While the chocolate was a great addition, I must say we were pleasantly surprised by the muffins – the coffee flavour wasn’t strong enough to put off a non coffee drinker. I would make these muffins again as they were really easy (as muffins usually are) and I imagine if I was a coffee drinker they would go well with a cup of coffee. See if the other TWDers agree here.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

TWD - Cranberry Upside Downer

This week’s TWD recipe is Cranberry Upside downer and was chosen by Sabrina of Superfluous. I made this cake for pudding on Saturday night when my Mum and Dad and sister and her partner were staying. The cake was delicious and the 5 of us who ate it (Mum is gluten free) ate two helpings each, demolishing the whole cake! That in itself is testament to how good this cake is.

Cranberries are not a common berry in New Zealand and I only had some in the freezer as I had bought them last Christmas to make cranberry relish and as I was pregnant at the time, I never got round to it. You could easily substitute blueberries or raspberries for the cranberries and Dorie suggests substituting peaches. Peaches would work well, but I liked the berries as it didn’t matter how you placed them, the cake still looked good. Dorie didn’t say to line the bottom of the tin for this up-side down cake, but I did, just to make sure that it came out of the tin easily. We had this cake slightly warm with whipped cream. It was delicious and I would definitely make it again. See if the other TWDers loved it too here.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

TWD - Peanutbutter Crisscrosses

This week’s TWD recipe is peanutbutter criss crosses and was chosen by jasmine of Jasmine Cuisine. This is a recipe I have been wanting to make for a while. Peanutbutter cookies, filled with salted peanuts. Yum! I made a half batch of these – I was going to make the full batch as my sister and 9 year old nephew were meant to be coming up for the weekend to visit from Christchurch, but unfortunately they were flying out on Saturday morning and the earthquake meant that they weren’t able to come. Thankfully for my family, neither my parents nor my two sisters who live there have suffered any material damage, but it has been a very scary few days.

The criss crosses on my cookies don’t really stand out, I think because I accidentally reversed the quantities of baking soda and baking powder, putting in a larger amount of baking powder than baking soda. This meant that the cookies puffed up more rather than staying flat. It made me realise how important the kind of raising agent you use is. The cookies are actually quite crispy – I imagined that they would be a bit more chewy. But they do taste delicious and I will definitely be trying the chocolate version of these as suggested by Dorie.

See what the other TWDers thought here.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

TWD - Espresso Chocolate Shortbread

This week’s TWD recipe is espresso chocolate shortbread and was chosen by Donna of Life’s Too Short not to Eat Dessert. I don’t like coffee but for some reason love espresso shortbread. I have a recipe I have used for years which is just plain espresso shortbread, but I dip the rounds of shortbread in melted dark chocolate.

This recipe is similar to that although uses white sugar instead of the brown sugar my other recipe uses. This recipe also has chocolate in it, but chopped chocolate or chocolate chips throughout the biscuits rather than dipped at the end. This shortbread was delicious! The chocolate chips were great (as anything with chocolate chips is!) and the espresso gave a lovely flavour. I would definitely make these cookies again, and may have to as they lasted only just over 24 hours in my household (I did halve the recipe though!). See what the other TWders thought here.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A blast from the Past

Last weekend we were invited to friends for brunch. When I asked what to bring, they said muffins. I decided to make a lime version of lemon and poppyseed muffins as a kind friend gave me some limes which was a real treat!

Lemon and poppyseed muffins always remind me of the late 1990s and the whole blue and yellow theme for interiors which was popular at the time. In 1999 my husband to be and I moved into our first home, which was a very small apartment, but it was brand new and we were able to pick the colour scheme, which was a blue and yellow one. We had yellow painted walls, blue carpet and a blue kitchen with a very trendy (at the time) navy benchtop. We also got engaged that year, and many of our engagement presents were in the blue and yellow theme – lots of blue temuka pottery with a yellow trim. In my kitchen I would always have pile of lemons “artfully” displayed on one of my blue platters with the yellow trim – and lemon and poppyseed muffins were a firm favourite for using up the lemons.

The muffins haven’t lost their appeal nearly ten years later. Lime works just as well as lemons – the sourness makes a great contrast for the butteriness of the muffins. These are one muffin that substituting the butter for oil doesn’t give you such a good result –you need the butter to give a crunchy exterior and it really does add to the flavour.

Lime Poppyseed muffins

2 c self raising flour
¾ c sugar
Zest of two limes
2 tbsp poppyseeds
1c milk
75g butter, melted
1 egg

• Combine dry ingredients, then separately combine the milk, butter and egg
• Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and mix gently
• Spoon into muffin cases and bake at 200c for 15-18 minutes or until cooked through
• While still hot spoon over a syrup made by mixing ¼ c sugar with ¼ c lime juice

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

TWD - peach tart

This weeks TWD recipe is Crunchy and Custardy Peach Tart and was chosen by Rachel of Sweet Tarte. This posting is short and sweet – a bit like the tart! The tart was very easy to put together – a peach and custard filling in a shortcrust base, topped with a little almond streusel topping. The tart was delicious. I had nothing in the fridge to serve with it (cream would have been perfect) but even unadorned it was lovely. See if the other TWDers loved it too here.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Variation on a theme

I love my Nana’s chocolate chip cookies – I think it is the condensed milk in them which gives them a delicious crisp but kind of soft texture. Using the chocolate chip cookie recipe as a base, there are lots of variations you can make. While I was on maternity leave I made a delicious variation using chopped dried apricots and cornflakes instead of chocolate chips (even as someone who doesn’t like dried apricots I loved these). Today’s recipe is a chocolate and coconut version.

These are the perfect biscuit for the tins – they freeze really well and while they are delicious, they are plain enough to be good for school lunchboxes (I imagine) and to have on hand as a good stand by. They are quick and easy to make, but their taste belies their easiness.

Speaking of quick and easy, our week day meals have become very quick and easy. I used to spend hours pouring over recipe books deciding what to make for dinner – often making two or three new recipes every meal time. Now that we have Harry, a lot less time is utilised doing this. While I still try and make tasty and interesting meals, they really have to be quick, as mealtimes are a busy time – I get home from work, breast feed Harry, feed him his solids, read him some stories, play with him and make dinner all at once. My husband does do a lot of the prep work which does help of course. An example was last night’s dinner – chicken cooked in a sauce made of ½ c sweet chilli sauce, 3 tbsp soy sauce and 3 tbsp fish sauce, served with hokkein noodles, steamed broccoli and chopped roasted peanuts – definitely delicious but less than thirty minutes to prepare.

Chocolate Coconut Cookies

120g butter
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp condensed milk
2 tbsp cocoa powder
3/4 c flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ c coconut

• Cream butter and sugar, then beat in condensed milk
• Stir in dry ingredients
• Roll into balls and flatten with a fork
• Bake at 170c for 15 minutes or until firmish and golden

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Dream Kisses

Ever since I got the second Ladies, A Plate book, I have wanted to make this recipe for Dream Kisses. The books are full of old fashioned favourites – I had never actually heard of dream kisses though until I got the book. I don’t seem to have done so much baking lately, as my husband has asked me not to – now that he is at home, if I bake a batch of biscuits, he will eat the whole lot in one day and he reckons it’s not good for his waist line! So, when my in-laws came to stay last week, it was a good opportunity to bake these dream kisses.

Dream kisses are a little like a louise cake made with brown sugar, without jam and with nuts added! The base is simply a shortbread base, but made with brown sugar, then the topping is a combination of eggs, coconut, sugar and walnuts. The recipe didn’t specify what size tin to make the slice in, so I used an 18x25 cm tin. It was actually probably a bit small, but my next size tin which is 20x30cm would probably have been too big. The result being that the topping probably didn’t bake as dry as I would have liked. If I made these again, I think I would still bake them in the smaller tin, but use only 2 eggs in the topping. They were delicious and a hit with my in-laws (and my husband!). The other thing I did differently was that I creamed the butter and sugar in the base, rather than making it in the food processor – mostly because I am too lazy to clean the food processor!

Dream Kisses (from Ladies, A Plate, a Second Helping)

100g brown sugar
250g flour
170g butter

• Cream the butter and sugar. Stir in the flour and press the dough into a greased and lined tin (see above for sizing)
• Bake at 180c for 15-20 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before putting on the topping below

3 eggs
200g brown sugar
70g coconut
100g walnuts, chopped
1 tbsp flour
1 tsp baking powder

• Whisk together the sugar and eggs, then stir in the remaining ingredients
• Pour over the warm base and bake at 180c for a further 20-25 minutes

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

TWD - Oatmeal Breakfast Bread (muffins)

This week’s TWD recipe is Oatmeal Breakfast Bread and was chosen by Natalie of Oven Love. I actually made this recipe into muffins, as I had limited time and as loaves take a while to bake, I thought I would shortcut the time by making muffins.

This recipe is a relatively “healthy” one. It has comparatively little fat in it, moistness and flavour being created with apple sauce. I didn’t take a special trip to buy apple sauce (it’s not such a common ingredient in NZ as it seems to be in the States), but of course I do have loads of cans of baby apples in my pantry at the moment (I buy canned fruit for Harry, but cook my own everything else), so I used baby apples for the apple sauce component of the recipe. The recipe made twelve muffins – lovely muffins, full of oats, a touch of spice with a lovely walnut cinnamon crumble on top.

I would definitely recommend these as a very quick and easy to make, but delicious muffin. I am sure the loaf version would be delicious as well. See if the other TWDers agree here.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Oatmeal and Raisin Cookies

A couple of weeks ago I was looking for some easy biscuits to make to take to a friends place. I didn’t have any chocolate chips (having a stay at home husband means that sometimes the chocolate chips are eaten simply as a snack!), so couldn’t make my good old favourite, chocolate chip cookies. Instead I found a recipe in Rachel Allen’s book “Bake” for these oat and raisin cookies. I also didn’t have raisins, but I did have sultanas and dried apricots, so I substituted those.

These cookies were delicious – they even tasted vaguely healthy because of the large quantity of oats in them. They had a very pleasant crisp but slightly chewy texture that I really loved. The original recipe had 2 tbsp of water in it, but I found I didn’t need that, so left it out. I would definitely make these cookies again and I can imagine when Harry gets older, these will make a great lunch box treat. And, if your husband doesn’t eat all the chocolate chips, they would make a great addition to these cookies!

Raisin and Oatmeal Cookies (adapted from Bake by Rachel Allen)

110g butter
110g sugar
110g brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
250g rolled oats
110g self raising flour
110g raisins (or chopped dried apricots, sultanas or chocolate chips)

• Cream the butter and the two sugars. Beat in the egg and then the vanilla.
• Stir in the dry ingredients
• Place rough balls of the mixture onto trays and bake at 170c for 15-20 minutes

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

TWD - Chocolate Ganache Ice Cream

This week’s TWD recipe is Chocolate Ganache Ice –Cream and was chosen by Katrina of Baking and Boys. This ice cream was very easy to make – basically you made chocolate ganache, then made custard, combined the two, chilled and then churned in the ice cream maker. I used energy chocolate (which is about 50% cocoa butter I think) which resulted in a rather mild chocolate flavour. But the ice-cream was lovely and creamy. My in laws are staying at the moment and we had the ice-cream for pudding last night with some little banana puddings I quickly whipped up. The combination of banana and chocolate was delicious. The puddings were very easy to make and the recipe is below.

Check out the other TWDers chocolate ganache ice-cream here.

Banana Puddings (adapted from Donna Hay)

5 tbsp sugar
5 tbsp maple syrup
1 c self raising flour
2 eggs
2 mashed bananas
100g butter, melted

• Combine all ingredients in a bowl
• Spoon into four greased ramekins and bake at 170c for 25-30 minutes or until cooked through

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Best Chocolate Brownie

If you have been reading my blog for a while, you will know that I like to try all sorts of new recipes. But, I do have a brownie recipe that I usually use when I am making a bulk amount of brownie that I want to turn out in a particular way. It is a variation of a recipe found the in the first Zarbo cook book. I think I have found an even better brownie recipe now and it comes from the second Ladies, A Plate book.

A good friend’s younger sister died last week - an incredibly sad time for my friend and her family. I wanted to bake something for my friend that was a yummy treat, but one that she could put in the freezer and bring out at a later stage when she wanted to. Brownie definitely fits the bill for this kind of thing – it is quick and easy to prepare, makes a very tasty treat and can be easily frozen as it has no icing to worry about and wont go soft or change texture upon being defrosted. The recipe uses only chocolate – my previous “go to” recipe used cocoa as well and I used to think that is what made it so delicious. I used 70% chocolate for the recipe. It does have a lot of chocolate in it, but the result is a deliciously fudgey brownie and that is the way I like my brownie.

I added chopped walnuts as recommended and also more chopped chocolate as recommended, but I did use 55% cocoa chocolate for the chocolate add ins. This is my new go to recipe and while I share the recipe here, I do encourage you to buy the book, as it is fabulous.

Chocolate Brownie (from Ladies, A Plate, a second helping)

225g dark chocolate
85g butter
180g sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
55g flour
55-115g walnuts, chopped
55g dark chocolate chopped (extra)

• Melt together the chocolate and butter
• Whisk in the sugar (the mixture will go grainy) and the eggs, one at a time, then lastly the vanilla
• Stir in the flour, then nuts and extra chocolate
• Bake in a lined 20cm square tin at 170c for 30-35 minutes

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Chocolate Muffins

I wanted to bake something for our neighbour last week and decided on these chocolate muffins. I would usually have baked cupcakes, but as a full time working mother, cupcakes are a bit tricky these days - I would get to back the cupcakes, but then I wouldn’t be able to stay up late enough to ice them and then the mornings are a rush by the time I get up at 5.30, do some exercise, feed Harry and get myself ready for work – no time for icing! So, muffins it was!

These muffins are double chocolate. They are essentially plain chocolate muffins with a dollop of chocolate ganache in the centre. Quick and easy to make, as muffins are, but just slightly fancier with the filling. This recipe came from Alyson Gofton’s book, Bake. If I was going to bake them again I would add more cocoa to the mixture, or use dutched cocoa – they just weren’t dark enough for me. The ganache centres were a nice surprise though.

Double Chocolate Muffins (Alyson Gofton)

125g dark chocolate
¼ c cream

• Heat cream and add chocolate. Stir to combine and set aside to firm up

1 3/4c flour
½ c sugar
¼ c cocoa
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ c plain yoghurt
½ c milk
1 egg
75g melted butter

• Combine dry ingredients
• Whisk together yoghurt, milk, egg and melted butter and pour into dry ingredients. Mix just to combine
• Spoon half mixture into muffin cases, top with a spoonful of the set aside ganache and then top with the remaining muffin mixture.
• Bake at 200c for 15-18 minutes

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

TWD - Gingered Carrot Cookies

This week’s TWD recipe is gingered carrot cookies and was chosen by Natalia of Gatti Fili e Farina. These are very interesting cookies – Dorie describes them as being almost scone like, but I am not so sure and wonder whether that description gets lost in translation between American and English definitions of scones, biscuits and cookies!

I halved the cookie mixture, but still used one full egg. The cookies turn out to be knobbly little things – they don’t really taste carroty (but then neither does carrot cake). I also didn’t find the ginger flavour that pronounced. I also left out the raisins as I don’t like raisins. The thing I likes best about them was the pecan nuts. I love pecan nuts and find they make a great addition to lots of things (in fact I added the leftover pecans with cumin seeds, currants and diced preserved limes to cous cous we had for dinner with roasted salmon – they made a delicious addition). I wouldn’t make these cookies again. Even though they tasted ok, they don’t look great and I am not sure that they will keep so well. See what the other TWDers thought here.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Decorated Shortbread

I have to confess that these are cookies I made some time ago (actually before Harry was born!) and never blogged about. They are some very simple biscuits made to look quite lovely (I think!) with a bit of easy decorating. These are the perfect cookie to give as a gift and they can be adapted to any situation.

The cookies are quite simply shortbread biscuits, cut into rounds, dipped in white chocolate and a royal icing flower popped on top. If I remember rightly, these particular shortbread had chopped pistachios through them (just add chopped pistachios to your favourite shortbread recipe). I used white chocolate to ice them (in fact white chocolate melts) as they leave a nice clean finish plus chocolate melts set really quickly and don’t even often dent like icing does, if you are packaging them up to send them. I did make the icing flowers which not everyone can do, but you can buy icing flowers from the supermarket now, or you can use other things to decorate – pebbles or smarties, other cake decorating embellishments, jaffas or other lollies, even just sprinkled with hundreds and thousands, these cookies would look great.

You could also colour the white chocolate. You have to be careful using other liquid with chocolate as it can seize, but I have had success with adding a little gel colour to white chocolate. Dipping the cookies is easy too – just dip them! You can use a palette knife to spread the chocolate on, but dipping works really well. I would love to know what other ideas you come up with.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Almost dairy free

I was looking through some recipes for something easy to bake a few weeks ago and came across this recipe for making chocolate chip cookies with oil rather than butter. I thought I would try them as an almost dairy free option (they would be dairy free if you left out the chocolate!). They were in a book by Sue Lawrence who won Masterchef UK a while back. When I bought the book some time ago, the masterched phenomenon had not reached NZ, so I didn’t really realise what a big deal it was. Now I would like to find out a bit more about Sue Lawrence.

These cookies are definitely not the best cookies I have ever made. They made me realise that the thing I like most about a good cookie is the buttery flavour. But these cookies would be a good thing to make for a dairy free friend (leave out the chocolate) or if you wanted to bake something but had run out of butter (as does happen sometimes). I used rice bran oil, but canola oil would be a good substitute. Don’t leave out the salt – you need that to bring out the flavour of the cookies

Chocolate Cookies (adapted from Sue Lawrence recipe)

1 1/4 c flour
¼ c cocoa
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1/3 c brown sugar
¼ c castor sugar
1/2c oil
1 egg
½ tsp vanilla
2/3 c chocolate chips

• Whisk together oil, egg and sugars, then stir in remaining ingredients
• Place small mounds onto baking tray and bake at 175c for 15 minutes. Leave to cool on trays for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

TWD - Chewy Chunky Blondie

This week’s TWD recipe is chewy chunky blondies and was chosen by Nicole of Cookies on Fridays. I think of blondies being brownies made with white chocolate, but these blondies were rich, fudgey bars with delicious add ins in the form of chocolate, walnuts and toffee pieces – no white chocolate in sight.

I loved this recipe as it was easy to make and had great taste results. I halved the recipe and made it in a 20cm square tin. Next time I would make the whole recipe though as the blondies are so delicious. They were almost like a soft chocolate chunk cookie made in a tin. The add ins of dark chocolate, walnuts and toffee bits were delicious. You cant get Heath’s toffee pieces in NZ, so I smashed up some werther original toffees which have the same effect. The recipe also called for coconut – I actually left that out, as even though I like coconut, I think it would have detracted from the other flavours.

The blondies were delicious – I would definitely make these again. Check out the other TWD links here.

Friday, July 23, 2010

TWD rewind - Brrrownies

Last week’s TWD recipe was Brrrrownies – the extra “rrrr”s in the word brownies, referring to the fact that the brownies have chunks of peppermint patties in them and have that “brrrr” flavour to them that peppermint things tend to have. We don’t have peppermint patties in NZ and I was curious to know what would be the next best thing. I googled images of peppermint patties and also asked a friend who has spent quite a bit of time in the states – it seems that the closest thing to peppermint patties would be after dinner mints, so I bought a packet and started baking.

The brownie recipe is a straight forward one and made a lovely rich, fudgey brownie. The addition of after dinner mints (in my case) is inspired! I chopped the mints in half and folded them into the brownie mixture which resulted in the mints melting into the brownie leaving the occasional glimpse of white. I loved these brownies – the mint flavour was enough to make the brownies have a very fresh taste which was welcoming against the richness of the chocolate brownie. I cut the brownie into smallish pieces, freezing most of it, but I have to be honest and say that the brownie also tasted very good frozen and it didn’t last long in our house (in fact I think it was less than 24 hours!)

The only thing holding me back from making these time and time again is the cost of after dinner mints – I used a whole box and a box costs over $6. By the time you add in the cost of the chocolate for the brownie mixture and then the other ingredients you are looking at somewhere around $10 which is ok for a pudding you may take somewhere, but a bit expensive for an everyday piece of baking to have in the tins. You should try them though – you can find the recipe here.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

TWD - Lots of Ways Banana Cake

This week’s TWD recipe is lots of ways banana cake and was chosen by Kimberly of Only Creative Opportunities. This name of this cake is pretty self explanatory – it is a very versatile banana cake that can be made using a variety of ingredients, depending on what you have on hand. The recipe makes two 22cm round cakes which can be sandwiched together. I halved the recipe and made one cake, leaving it plain so I could cut it into wedges and freeze it for husband for the week (although I imagine that this cake would be a good keeper).

I stuck to the suggestion of adding thread coconut to the banana cake. This made the cake extremely moist. Other suggested add ins were dried fruit, other nuts and I bet chocolate chips would be nice too. I didn’t have any coconut milk, so I used sour cream as my liquid component, but you could also substitute buttermilk or natural yoghurt. Dorie flavoured her cake with rum or Malibu – I don’t like rum, so just added some coconut essence (I wouldn’t have added this if I had used coconut cream to make the cake). This was an easy cake to make, but also very easy cake to eat. I think we ate about 1/3 of it warm straight from the oven unadorned. As I mentioned, the rest went in the freezer, but it would be great served as a dessert with whipped cream, or even iced with a coconut flavoured icing and topped with more coconut. I would definitely make this cake again.

See if the other TWDers enjoyed the cake here.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Milk Chocolate and Hazelnut Cookies

At the end of last year I bough a beautiful book called Manna from Heaven by Rachel Grisewood. She writes beautifully and the book is a collection of recipes and stories. The recipes are eclectically gathered together, so you will find cakes and desserts in amongst recipes for savoury dishes. If I was going to write a recipe book, I think I would adopt this style and have the chapters assembled by way of occasion.

I actually haven’t made a lot of the recipes in the book yet, but one of the recipes that caught my eye early on was that for Milk chocolate and hazelnut cookies. The occasion rose to make the cookies last week when I bought a cake of milk chocolate for a school fundraiser. If I didn’t use the chocolate in baking, I was going to be in danger of eating the whole cake myself (and even though I try and convince myself that I need the calories for breastfeeding I really don’t!), so I took the opportunity to make these cookies.

I love these kind of cookies – I think it is the fact that they don’t have any kind of raising agent in them – that seems to make them more dense and crumbly, not too crisp and yet not too soft. The chunks of milk chocolate went perfectly with the hazelnuts and the vanilla hit was noticeable. I would definitely make these again.

Milk chocolate and Hazelnut Cookies (from Manna from Heaven by Rachel Grisewood)

80g hazelnuts, toasted and chopped
125g butter
100g sugar
1 tsp vanilla paste
1 egg yolk
210g flour
140g milk chocolate, chopped

• Cream the butter and sugar, beat in the vanilla paste and egg yolk.
• Stir in the flour and then the chopped hazelnuts and chocolate.
• Roll the dough into a log, refrigerate for an hour, then slice into rounds (relatively thickly) and bake at 160c for 10-15 minutes

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

TWD - shortcake rewind

I haven’t made this week’s TWD recipe yet – we were in Chch for a few days visiting my family and the time just got away on me. But last week before we left I did do a TWD rewind, making these tender shortcakes. These are very light, flaky almost scone like shortcakes which were split in half when cooled, filled with whipped cream and in my case, jam. The recipe in the book showed fresh berries with the shortcakes, but being the middle of winter in NZ at the moment, fresh berries are not that easy to find! My version is a take on scones with jam and whipped cream.

As usual, I scaled the recipe back to make a half batch which was three rather large shortcakes. My husband and I shared one for pudding and he had the other two the next day. I added a little cinnamon to the basic mix which made the shortcakes slightly fragrant. These shortcakes were quick and easy, but delicious and I would definitely make them again. You can find the recipe here.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

TWD - Tarte Noire

This week’s TWD recipe is tarte noire and was chosen by Dharmagirl of Bliss. Tarte noire is a simple chocolate tart – a shortcrust base filled with a rich chocolate ganache. I chose to make my shortcrust base chocolate as well, making this tart truly noire!

I wanted to only make enough tart for my husband and I, so while I made the full amount of pastry, I froze about 2/3 of it and used the remainder to line two small tart tins. I divided the ganache mixture into about ¼. Dorie said to choose a chocolate that you like the flavour of as that is what the tart filling would end up tasting like. I chose good old energy chocolate which is a very milk dark chocolate. I quite like dark chocolate, but find the 70% stuff just a little bitter for my tastes. The energy chocolate is about 50% I think and it made a very pleasing, smooth ganache.

We ate our tarts for pudding on Saturday night, having them with natural yoghurt which tempered the richness a little. This is a simple way of making an elegant tart. See what the other TWDers thought here.

Friday, July 2, 2010

An old favourite

Last Sunday I was looking for something to bake simply as a tin filler. I have sworn off chocolate for two weeks (since having had Harry I have been eating crazy amounts of chocolate – I think it must be good breastfeeding fuel!!), but of course that is just actual chocolate, not chocolate flavoured things, so I was looking for something chocolatey to fill the tins. I had a look through some of my old recipe books and then remembered one of my favourite recipes from when I was growing up – coconut rough slice! The recipe came from a friend of my Mum’s and Mum used to make it regularly when we were kids.

The slice has a basic chocolate coconut base – very easy, you just melt the butter and add it to the dry ingredients. The topping is what makes this slice special – it is a beautifully smooth chocolate/coconut topping that is reminiscent of chocolate flavoured coconut ice. The trick with this slice is to put the topping on the base while the base is still hot – otherwise, the topping may not adhere to the base and you end up with a yummy base and a yummy topping, but not in the same mouthful! If you can wait, I would wait and cut this slice the day after making it – it cuts better when it’s not really fresh (it can be a bit crumbly when really fresh). This slice also lasts really well, if you don’t eat it all quickly!

Coconut Rough Slice

1/2c sugar
3 tbsp cocoa
2 tsp baking powder
½ c coconut
2 c flour
250g butter, melted

• Combine dry ingredients, pour in melted butter and combine. Press into a lined 23cm square tin and bake at 180c for 20 minutes
• When still warm out of the oven, top with the following topping:

50g butter
3 tbsp cocoa
6 tbsp condensed milk
2 c coconut
2 tsp vanilla
1 ½ c icing sugar

• Combine all ingredients over a low heat until smooth

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Floral Cake

Quite some time ago I ripped a recipe out of a Delicious magazine for a lavender poppyseed cake with an orange blossom honey syrup. It sounded amazing and very floral! In fact I couldn’t really imagine what it would taste like. But, it captured my imagination as I love syrup cakes, love poppyseeds and have a slight obsession with buying unusual ingredients and then not really using them (such as culinary lavender!!). I decided to make this cake for book club at my house last week, as now that I am a full time working, business owning mother as opposed to simply a full time working business owner, making a cake on a week night is a real achievement, let alone icing or decorating it! At least with a syrup cake there is no real need to ice it!
The cake was very easy to make – a simple cream the butter and sugar, add the eggs and dry ingredients cake. The lavender was meant to be rubbed into the sugar and then sifted out. Because I was using culinary lavender – ie already dried and ready to cook, I simply rubbed the lavender into the sugar and left it at that. The lavender flavour only ended up being a hint of lavender. I’m not sure if that was because the other flavours over powered the lavender or because it is a while since I bought the lavender and it may have lost its strength.

Once the cake was cooked and came out of the oven warmed orange blossom flavoured honey is poured over the cake. I didn’t have any orange blossom flavoured honey, so I added orange blossom water to taste to my honey and then poured it over the cake. The honey I used was a mild tawhiri honey. I am not a huge fan of honey so I prefer the more mild honeys. The cake had yummy flavours – it was probably a little dry around the edges and could have done with a bit more honey to make it more moist. I served it with whipped cream. An unusual cake, but one that I would make again.

Lavender and orange blossom honey cake (adapted from Delicious magazine)

1 tbsp culinary lavender seeds
125g sugar
250g butter
4 eggs
250g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp poppy seeds
1/3 c honey
1-2 tbsp orange blossom water to taste

• Cream butter, sugar and lavender
• Beat in eggs, one at a time then fold in flour, baking powder and poppyseeds
• Pour into lined 24cm springform tin and bake at 160c for 1 hour or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean
• Cool cake, then warm together the honey and orange blossom water and pour over the cake

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

TWD - Lime Drenched Loaf Cake

This week’s TWD recipe is rum drenched vanilla loaf cakes and was chosen by Wendy of Pink Stripes (one of my favourite bloggers). I don’t like rum at all, so I decided to make a variation of one of the suggested variations – I made lime drenched vanilla loaf cakes. Actually, I made a loaf cake, singular. I only have one loaf pan and only needed one cake so I easily halved the recipe to make just one loaf.
This was an interesting recipe as the liquid ingredient was cream. I didn’t have any cream and forgot to get some on the way home from work, so instead just used milk, which worked just as well. The recipe called for a vanilla bean instead of vanilla extract – I used some vanilla sugar that I always have on hand. I have a jar that I throw any used vanilla pods into and keep topping it up with sugar. The sugar is beautifully infused with vanilla fragrance. The flavouring of choice (in my case lime juice) was also added to the cake mix.
Once the cake came out of the oven, a cooled syrup (in my case lime syrup) was poured over the cake. We ate a slice of loaf each while it was still fairly warm and delicious. It was incredibly moist and the vanilla and lime flavours worked so well together – I think lime goes with vanilla even better than lemon does, as limes have quite a floral undertone. I am sure that the loaf keeps well, but ours didn’t get the chance, as we ate the whole loaf the next day. This would have to be one of my favourite TWD recipes. See what the others thought here.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Tan Slice - an old favourite

Tan slice is another old favourite of mine. I absolutely love caramel slice of any kind, but there is something about tan slice - you can keep eating it without it ever seeming to be too rich. As I mentioned, my youngest sister was up last weekend and she loves caramel slice as much as me. I hadn’t had a lot of time to bake for her arrival, but on Saturday morning I made tan slice as a weekend treat for us. The other thing I love about making it, is that you don’t have to ice it, so it is fast to make.
I have mentioned on my blog before that my key to tan slice is to make a lovely, thick caramel so that there is a good ratio of caramel to base, and also to slightly under cook it so that you have a gooey, soft, unctuous slice rather than one that is a bit crisp or crumbly or where the caramel flavour has disappeared and it all tastes just a bit burnt. Tan slice isn’t the most elegant looking caramel slice around, but it is great to have in the tins – if it makes it that far!!

Tan Slice
180g butter
90g sugar
½ tsp vanilla
300g flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2c chocolate chips

• Cream butter and sugar, then stir in vanilla.
• Stir in dry ingredients
• Press 2/3 of the mixture into a lined 23cm square tin, pour over the following caramel, mix the rest of the base mixture with the chocolate chips and crumble over the caramel
• Bake at 180c for 20-25 minutes


1 x 400g tin condensed milk
100g butter
2 tbsp golden syrup

• Combine all ingredients in a small pot and heat, stirring until melted together and thickened

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

TWD - Dressy Chocolate Loaf Cake

It’s been a while, but at long last here is a TWD post! This week’s recipe is dressy chocolate loaf cake and was chosen by Amy of Amy Ruth Bakes. I was looking forward to making this recipe as I thought it may have been reminiscent of both the chocolate banana loaf which was a TWD recipe and was perhaps one of my favourite TWD recipes, and also a chocolate loaf cake in Nigella Lawson’s book, Feast, which is just divine. Unfortunately, I didn’t really think that this loaf cake was as good as either of those recipes.

I halved the recipe for the loaf cake to make 6 mini loaves and they may have been my mistake. No-one else probably noticed, but to me they were too cakey and not dense enough – I think I was after something a bit more fudgey. The dressy part of the recipe is that the loaf cake was then split into three, filled with cherry jam, re-assembled and then covered in a chocolate and sour cream glaze. To be honest, the highlight for me was the glaze – I loved how glossy the sour cream made the chocolate and even though I had slightly over heated my chocolate, I kept stirring like Dorie said to and the glaze came together beautifully. I also liked how the sour cream made a slightly less rich topping than usual ganache.
This cake was nice, but I don’t think it had any WOW factor. See what the other TWDers thought here.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Catching up With Dorie - ALmost Fudge Gateau

In the last four months while I havent been blogging, I have still been doing most of the TWD challenges each week. However, I haven’t been completely on to it and have about 12 recipes I need to try as a catch up. There are also about 5 recipes that were baked before I became a TWD member that I have to catch up on. This recipe, Almost Fudge Gateau, is one of those.

My sister was staying with us in the weekend and I made the almost fudge gateau for our pudding on Saturday night. I halved the recipe, and made two 10cm gateaux and there was enough mixture left to fill 6 cupcake cases. The gateau is very light and simple to make. It is almost like a soufflĂ© cake, as you fold in beaten egg whites to lighten the mixture, and the cakes puffed up then deflated upon cooling. There was an optional ganache to go on top of the cakes. I didn’t make that on Saturday night, instead serving our gateaux with whipped cream, but yesterday I made a little ganache for this week’s TWD challenge and put some of it on top of one of the cupcake size gateaux – delicious!!

Almost-Fudge Gateau
For the cake:
5 large eggs
9 oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup sugar
5 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into chunks
2 tbsp. coffee or water
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
For the glaze:
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tsp. light corn syrup
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan, line the bottom with parchment paper, butter the paper, dust the inside of the pan with flour and tap out the excess. Place the pan on a baking sheet.
Separate the eggs, putting the whites in a mixer bowl or other large bowl and the yolks in a small bowl.
Set a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and add the chocolate, sugar, butter and coffee. Stir occasionally until the chocolate and butter are melted; the sugar may still be grainy – that is fine. Transfer the bowl to the counter and let the mixture sit for 3 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, stir in the yolks one by one, then fold in the flour. Working with the whisk attachment of the mixer, beat the egg whites with the pinch of salt until they hold firm but glossy peaks. Using the spatula, stir about one quarter of the beaten whites in to the batter, then gently fold in the rest. Scrape the batter into the pan and jiggle the pan from side to side a couple of times to even the batter.
Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until the cake has risen evenly (it might rise around the edges and you’ll think it’s done, but give it a few minutes more, and the center will puff too) and the top has firmed (it will probably be cracked) and doesn’t shimmy when tapped; a thin knife inserted into the center should come out just slightly streaked with chocolate. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and let the cake rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
Run a blunt knife gently around the edges of the cake and remove the sides of the pan. Carefully turn the cake over onto a rack and remove the pan bottom and the parchment paper. Invert the cake onto another rack and cool to room temperature right side up. As the cake cools, it may sink.
To make the glaze, turn the cooled cake onto another rack so you’ll be glazing the flat bottom, and place the rack over a baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper to catch any drips.
Put the chocolate in a small heatproof bowl. Melt the chocolate over a pan of simmering water or in a microwave oven – the chocolate should be just melted and only warm, not hot. Meanwhile, bring the cream to a boil in a small saucepan. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and stir very gently with a rubber spatula until the mixture is smooth and shiny. Stir in the corn syrup.
Pour the glaze over the cake and smooth the top with a long metal icing spatula. Don’t worry if the glaze drips unevenly down the sides of the cake, it will add to its charm. Allow the glaze to set at room temperature, or slip the cake into the refrigerator for about 20 minutes.