Thursday, 17 October 2013

My happy dance.

You've heard of the "happy dance"?  Well, while I'm a fan, I must say that I definitely prefer the "happy bake".  A moment on the lips Facebook page now has over 200 likes and is growing every day.  My mode of celebration?  Why, the "happy bake", of course! And isn't it a beautiful thing? Recipe to come: good things come to those who wait, darlings.

Here's to the "happy bake" catching on!
F. x

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

A little slice of heaven.

 For the first time in the longest time, I'm snuggled on the couch with a cup of English Breakfast and a Scotch Finger....bliss! Being back at work full time now and juggling all that goes with being a working mummy means that moments like these are few and far between. It also means that I'be neglected you all for far too long. But, I promise that what I'm offering you today with more than make up for it.
This...is ah-mazing.
I give you, my Salted Caramel Cheesecake. I give you not only my Salted Caramel Cheesecake BUT my Salted Caramel Cheesecake with Vanilla Cream and Caramel Sauce! Forgive me, now?

Salted Caramel Cheesecake
500g plain sweet biscuits 
60g almond meal 
150g unsalted butter, melted 
350g ricotta 
500g cream cheese 
175g (1 cup) brown sugar 
4 eggs 
2 tbsp golden syrup 1
/4 tsp table salt 
2 tsp vanilla extract 
250mL pure cream 
240g (1 cup) sour cream 
1 tbsp icing sugar, sifted 

Caramel Sauce 
250mL pure cream 
60g butter, chopped 
175g (1 cup) brown sugar

Preheat your oven to 160 degrees C. Blitz the biscuits and almond meal in a food processor until you have a course crumb.  Add the butter and process to combine.  Press the mixture onto the base and sides of a 20cm springform tin and pop in the freezer while you make the filling.
Using an electric mixer, beat the ricotta and cream cheese for 5 minutes or until very smooth.  Add the sugar and beat for another 3-4 minutes.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time, before adding the syrup, salt and 1 tsp vanilla.  Mix until well combined.  
Pour the mixture into the biscuit shell and then place in a large baking tin.  Pour boiling water into the tin so it comes halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan.  Bake for 1 hour 30 minutes or until firm to the touch (with a slight wobble to the centre)  Remove the cheesecake from the baking tin with the water and allow to cool.  Refrigerate for at least 3 hours, although overnight is best.
Place the cream, sour cream and the remaining teaspoon of vanilla in a mixing bowl and whip to soft peaks.  Swirl the cream across the top of the cool cheesecake.
To make the caramel sauce...Place all ingredients into a saucepan over a low heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved.  Increase the heat to high and bring to the boil.  Allow to cook for 5-7 minutes or until thickened.  Set aside and allow to cool.  Serve with the cheesecake.

Love this!

F. x

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Food Tales

Last week, I was lucky enough to attend the "Food Tales" workshop at the Blackwater Library.  These travelling workshops are a joint venture between the State Library of Queensland and the Queensland Writers Centre. The incredibily charismatic and talented Dominique Rizzo presented throughout the Capricorn region, visiting Yeppoon, Rockhampton, Emerald and Blackwater and discussing the food memories of travel with the locals.  She talked about her own food journey and the experiences along the way which lead her into cooking as a career and were fundamental to her food philosophy.  I was also lucky enough to be able to purchase her beautiful book, "My Taste of Sicily" which she kindly signed for me.  This book is full of simple, versatile recipes perfect for every day cooking.  There is also a gorgeous sweets and desserts chapter which I fully intend on working my way through!

If you get a chance, I also recommend that you check out the "Food Tales" blog which is full of local and community content from the workshops. Dominique Rizzo also has a selection of delicious recipes available on her website that aren't included in her book (Click Here) so definitely have a click through!

Look out because I've got a stunning Silician cake from Dominique's book coming your way!

F. x

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Blondes have more fun.

In Blackwater, this week, the weather has been a tad bleak.  It's been cold and overcast and wet.  While this weather doesn't suit itself to outdoor pursuits, it is perfection for baking.  In fact, I have woken up each day this week and thought "pastry weather" and so, am devastated that I haven't found the time to create the particularly stunning chocolate tart that I've been giving the eye.  But you know me, I don't wallow for long and I found myself the perfect baking opportunity last night.  The inclement weather called for comfort food and there, in my pile of recipe clippings, I found it. It was exactly what I was looking for and didn't even know it.  A blondie.

White chocolate is, and has always been, a particular favourite of mine - on its own and as an ingredient in any baked good or dessert.  Pair it with fruit and you have a match made in heaven.   I was in a wonderful world of my own...just me, the kitchen and melting chocolate.  The only thing better was what came out of the oven forty minutes later.

Black Cherry Blondies
100g unsalted butter, chopped
180g white chocolate, broken into squares
3/4 caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup SR flour
3/4 cup plain flour
1 cup tinned, pitted black cherries

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees and prepare a 19x29cm (or thereabouts) slice tin. Melt butter and chocolate together in a saucepan over a low heat. Allow to cool slightly before stirring in sugar, vanilla and eggs. Sift in flours and combine using a folding motion. Pour the thick batter into the tin, top with the cherries and bake for 35-40 minutes.
Edges should crisp and golden. You can (should) allow to cool before you slice but we can never leave this alone that long!

This is beautiful served warm with icecream or cooled for morning tea.  We sliced it and enjoyed steaming hot with a sweet cup of strong tea. 

F. x

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Tea & Friends

Today, my living room was filled to capacity with lovely mummas and their beautiful babies.  I whole-heartedly believe that homemade goodness is always better shared with wonderful friends alongside tea and energetic banter, and such was the case today.  These gorgeous white chocolate mud cupcakes went down a treat, with a few little people stealing nibbles and ending up with more than a little buttercream over their chubby chops!

Served alongside raspberry-jewelled dark chocolate brownies, my mud cupcakes are morning tea perfection. Creamy, luscious bites: these darlings will not disappoint and are worth every little bit of care and attention that goes into them.  Definitely for sharing with some special people.

White Chocolate Mud Cupcakes
250g unsalted butter
150g good quality white chocolate, chopped
2 cups caster sugar
1 cup milk
1/2 cup SR flour
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs, beaten lightly

Preheat over to 140 degrees. Melt butter, chocolate, sugar and milk together over a low heat. Continue stirring, without boiling, until smooth. Pour mixture into your mixing bowl and leave to cool. Whisk in sifted flours before mixing in vanilla and eggs. Share mixture into cupcake papers and bake for 45 mins or until springy when touched. A skewer will not come out clean with these cakes.
Allow to cool before frosting with White Chocolate Vanilla Buttercream.

White Chocolate Vanilla Buttercream
125g unsalted butter, softened
90g good quality white chocolate
1/2 tsp vanilla bean seeds (or extract)
1 1/2 cups icing sugar, sifted

Melted white chocolate in the microwave (use intervals of 40 seconds, stirring in between). Set aside to cool. Beat butter for 4-5 mins until very light in colour. Fold in cooled white chocolate so well combined. Stir through the vanilla before adding icing sugar. Once icing sugar is incorporated, beat on a high speed for 2-3 minutes.

F. x

Thursday, 28 February 2013

Sweet tooth...satisfied!

Tonight, we are madly packing for a flying trip to Brisbane for my father's birthday.  Despite this, I just had to try out this recipe that I've been turning around and around my head for days!  These cupcakes are sweet and rich and divinely fudgy.  Delicious chocolate morsels are a sweet surprise inside these heavenly cakes.  There isn't much better - except maybe for the choc-hazelnut buttercream with adorns these beauties.  Cupcakes for grown-ups...a indulgent hit of whisky means that no kiddies will be licking this bowl!

Fudgy Chocolate Mudcakes
175g good quality dark chocolate
175g unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
80 mL whisky
200g brown sugar
200g caster sugar
3 eggs, beaten
225g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt
110g chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 170 degrees. Melt chocolate, butter, vanilla and whisky together until smooth and glossy (I do this in the microwave).  While the mixture is still hot, beat in the sugars.  Add the eggs and combine well before mixing in the sifted flour, baking powder and salt.  When batter is well-mixed, stir through the chocolate chips.  Distribute batter into baking cups and bake for 20-30 minutes.  Baking time will depend on the size of your baking cups.  When cooked, cupcakes will have a hard crust and a skewer, inserted, will be mostly clean.  Allow cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.
Choc-hazelnut Buttercream
125g unsalted butter
3 cups icing sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp nutella
3 tbsp cocoa, sifted

Beat butter and sugar together for 10 minutes until almost white.  Mix in vanilla, nutella and cocoa. 

F. x

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Delightful, darling!

Buttery, crumbly, rich, creamy, melt-in-your-mouth shortbread.  This is it. 
This week, I squeezed my baking fix into 20 minutes after pulling a few easily accessible ingredients from my fridge and pantry. This recipe produces quite a 'grown-up' custard shortbread that is buttery and gorgeous but not sickly sweet. The drizzle of rich dark chocolate across the top perfectly compliments the creamy biscuit which could only be improved with an accompanying cappucino...delightful, darlings!

Chocolate-Drizzled Custard Shortbreads
250g unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup icing sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups plain flour, sifted
1/2 cup custard powder, sifted
dark chocolate

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C and line two baking trays with grease-proof paper.  Cream butter, sugar and vanilla. When colour lightens, mix in flour and custard powder.  Roll teaspoon sized amounts of the mixture into balls and place on the trays.  Press each ball down a little before putting in the oven.  Bake for 10-12 minutes.  When cool, drizzle melted chocolate across the top of the biscuits.

F. x

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Quiet time

Baking is the ultimate stress reliever.  No matter how sleep deprived, busy or cranky I am, I always have time for cooking up sweet treats.  There is truly nothing better than the mechanics of baking - the chopping, stirring, folding, melting, beating - to slow the mind.  This recipe is perfect for this.  The initial chopping of the chocolate, cranberries and pistachios calms you as you focus on the beautiful constrasting colours - creamy white, deep ruby red and jade green.  The best part, though? The almost instant aroma of baked goods filling the house.  Pair one of these monsters with a tall iced coffee and some quiet time shared between you and a good book...heavenly.
Jewelled Jumbo Cookies
250g unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups demerara sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
3 1/2 cups SR flour
1/2 cup white chocolate, roughly chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries, roughly chopped
1/2 cup pistachio nuts, roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.  Beat together butter, sugar and vanilla.  Add eggs one at a time, mixing well in between.  Sift in flour and combine to form a crumbly dough mixture.  Fold through the chocolate, cranberries and nuts.  Use 1/3 cup to scoop out cookie dough.  Push together in hands and form into a thick disc.  Space cookies 5cm apart on lined baking trays and bake for 15 minutes.  Makes 15 cookies.

F. x

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Sweet treats

It's no secret that my favourite dessert is Sticky Date Pudding. In fact, I display an abnormal compulsion to order it should it appear on a menu. It's perfection in all its juxtaposing facets: spongy in texture and dense in flavour. Who can go past its sickly sweetness and deep amber colour?

This recipe is slightly more versatile than one I have previously shared. It is baked as a cake and easily prepared in the food processor. You can serve large squares of this incredible pudding cake with warm caramel sauce and ice cream and stick to the traditional, or (as I have done today) cut it into "two-bite" sized bars with a smear of caramel for a light afternoon morsel. No one is going to accept a bowl of hot pudding and ice cream for afternoon tea but they'll be all over this is a jiffy.
The secret to getting neatly cut bars is to put the cake (once cooled) in the freezer for half an hour before cutting. This firms it up and takes off the stickiness that makes slicing difficult. Once out of the freezer, use a serrated-edge knife to portion the cake as you wish. These little bars suit me because you never feel quite as guilty stealing a second one! If you are serving in this way, also set aside your sauce for a couple of hours to cool (and thus, thicken sufficiently). This naughty sauce is a perfect one to have stashed in the fridge for topping ice cream, drizzling over cakes or shortbread (the sweetness cuts through a tart cheesecake remarkably well) or for attacking with a spoon when no one else is looking.

Sticky Date Cake
315g fresh dates
375mL boiling water
1 1/2 tsp baking soda (bicarb)
150g unsalted butter, softened
175g brown sugar
3 eggs
225g SR flour, sifted

Preheat your oven to 160 degrees C. Place dates, water and bicarb in the food processor with the cutting blade. Allow to sit for 5 minutes.  Pulse the processor 3-5 times to roughly chop the dates.  Change to the mixing blade before adding butter and sugar. Process until well combined.  Mix in eggs and flour until just incorporated. Pour mixture into a greased and lined 30cm square slice tin. Bake for 30 minutes or until skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool in tin for at least 10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

Sticky Caramel Sauce
150g unsalted butter, chopped
250mL single cream
265g brown sugar

Place all ingredients into a saucepan over a medium heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved.  Bring to the boil, keep stirring and cook for 8 minutes.  Caramel will thicken as it cooks.  Serve hot for a thin sauce or at room temperature if you prefer it thick and gooey.

Don't you wish you were at my house for afternoon tea today?

F. x

Friday, 25 January 2013

Keep Calm

Just a little happy snap of the beautiful cup of tea that I've been looking forward to for....oh, about 6 hours! Finally, it's all mine and I even got 5 minutes to sit on the couch to drink it. Mm mmm mmm!
As I sit here, I'm also taking in the sweet smell of some deliciousness baking in my oven. I can't wait to share the finished product with you later, but until then, can you guess what it is?

F. x

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Afternoon Delight

The brilliant thing about a brownie (well, one of the many brilliant things about a brownie) is that even though it's aesthetically ugly, the uglier, the goey-er, the browner....the better! There's absolutely no fussiness in serving them up.  They are a guilty comfort which should look homemade and rustic.  Having some gorgeous ladies over this afternoon meant that I simply had to bake something.  Not sure how much time I would have (if only babies worked around our schedule!) my decision was based on ease and people pleasing.  Who doesn't love a brownie?!

These brownies are quick and easy but also have a yummy twist - coconut.  I, however, cannot take the credit for this addition after being inspired by my mothers groups' recent obsession with Summer Rolls (hence the name of these delights).  You know, that delicious chewy nougat covered in chocolate and coated in coconut - heaven!  As a result, I have also rekindled my lost love with the humble Summer Roll which has obviously now filtered in other aspects of my culinary existence.  Prepare yourself for mouthfuls of chocolatey goodness as you bite through the crisp exterior to reveal a molten and decadent core.  These glorious things are appropriate for all levels of entertaining, be it accompanying a coffee as you steal a quiet moment at home to yourself, or as a dessert served warm with icecream and a dusting of cocoa as you entertain.  And all put together in 10 minutes before you set the oven timer and forget about it until your house fills with the devine scent of warm chocolate baking.  It's too much!  Do yourself a favour...bake these!

Summer Brownies
175g unsalted butter, chopped
175g dark chocolate, chopped
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups caster sugar
1/2 cup dessicated coconut
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup plain flour
1/3 cup cocoa

Preheat oven to 170 degrees celsius. Melt butter and chocolate together in a microwave safe dish, stirring every 30 seconds.  Set aside to cool slightly.  Sift together flour and cocoa.  In a different bowl, mix together eggs, sugar, coconut and vanilla.  Fold through chocolate mixture and combine well before adding flour and cocoa.  Ensure all ingredients are combined and pour mixture into a pre-prepared 20x20 baking tin (or a slice tin).  Bake for 35 minutes.  Top will be crisp but inside will still be soft.

This will become your 'go to' brownie recipe, I am sure of it!

F. x

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Cookie Dough-oh-oh

My lovely bun is now baked and out of the oven.  Anna Mae arrived on the 15 December 2012 at 10:20pm and has been making my life sweeter ever since! Now that my mini muffin has vacated her lodgings of the past nine months, my sweet tooth (and energy) have well and truly returned.  And so, my lovelies, here is my first post of 2013. 

It is well known that pregnancy places certain limitations on ones ability to consume particular delicacies...one of which is raw batter.  This has been (not over-reacting) quite devastating for moi, and today, I suddenly realised, "if I want cookie dough, I can eat cookie dough!" Hallejulah moment, right here!  And eat cookie dough I did.  I even saved enough to put in the oven to have cookies at the end of it...just.  It was a beautiful moment of guilt-free batter consumption that I just had to share with you.  As always, though, I must also share this gorgeous recipe with you.  It just wouldn't be fair otherwise. 

White Chocolate and Macadamia Cookies

125g unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup caster sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1/2 baking soda
3/4 cup macadamia nuts
180g white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Cream butter and sugars.  Add egg and vanilla.  Sift in flour and baking soda and mix well to combine ingredients into a dough.  Roughly chop the macadamias before adding to the batter with chocolate chips.  Stir well to distribute.  Space tablespoon-sized dollops of the batter on baking trays and bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown.

These are definitely worth the restraint required for them to make it into the oven!

Bliss in a biscuit.

F. x