Thursday, September 20, 2012

Choc cherry trifles

I can't believe it's been almost a year since I posted anything on this blog. It's gone so quickly and a lot has happened and changed. I've still been baking as much as always but just haven't been making the time to get it online and I think it's time to start making an effort again (I know I've said that before, too so we'll see how I go!).

I've noticed recently that I'm posting a heap of photos on Facebook and Instagram of stuff that I've been baking and then getting requests from friends for the recipes. I love to share my recipes and that's why I started blogging about my cooking conquests so it's time to get back into it!

Last night I visited my dear friend Jess for dinner. One of the best things about being back home in Stawell is getting to catch up with my friends during the week again. I didn't realise just how much I'd missed seeing my girls during the week for dinner, a drink and a big chat. The therapeutic benefits of these little traditions cannot be underestimated! Anyway, we needed a quick dessert and this is what I came up with. It's a Christmas favourite of my Mum's originally but I've been using it a bit lately as a throw together dessert that looks fairly impressive, especially when you do individual serves like this!

1 store bought chocolate bar cake
1 tin of pitted cherries
1 small jar of cream
1 tub of store bought chocolate mousse or chocolate instant pudding
Plum, raspberry or strawberry jam
2 Cherry Ripes for garnish

This is so easy! You can do it as one big one in a bowl or as individual servings in glasses. Either way, the process is the same. Cut the cake into appropriate sized pieces for the bowl/glass you're working with and layer it around the sides. Spread the cake with your chosen jam. Place a layer of chocolate mousse or instant pudding on top, followed by the cherries and then the whipped cream. Finish it off with chopped Cherry Ripe. Pop them in the fridge until you're ready to serve them. I think if you can leave them overnight it's even better but we had them an hour or so later and they were still pretty good! Enjoy :)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Right, I'm back! Since I moved to Ballarat I've been struggling to find the time to do my blog. I have no idea why that is because I probably have more time on my hands than I ever have! That and I guess I don't have as many excuses to bake anymore. But anyway... I'm back and I hope to get back to posting regularly!

As promised - here are the Red Velvet Cupcakes I made for our Girls' Weekend in Daylesford. I didn't go with the traditional frosting (because I wanted to make them pretty!) so I'm not sure if these still qualify as Red Velvet or if they're just chocolate cakes coloured red!

Cute cupcakes for my girls!

This one is a Nigella Lawson favourite. Start by preheating the oven to 170c and lining 2 x 12 hole muffin tins. Combine 250g plain flour, 2 tbsp cocoa, 2 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp bicarb soda in a bowl. In another bowl (I used an electric mixer), cream 100g soft unsalted butter and 200g caster sugar. When the mixture is soft and pale, beat in 1 tsp red food colouring (I know it seems like a lot but that's what makes these so special!) and 2 tsp vanilla extract. Keep the beaters going and add 1 spoonful of the dry ingredients followed by 1 egg, then the rest of the dry ingredients and another egg. Finally, beat in 175ml buttermilk and 1 tsp vinegar. If you can't get buttermilk, just use normal milk, remove a teaspoon of it and replace it with another teaspoon of vinegar. Divide the mixture between the cases and bake for 20 minutes.

The colour of the mixture is incredible!
Make sure you let the cakes cool completely before you attempt to ice them. I made my own chocolate buttercream but like I said, you may want to use a cream cheese frosting to be true to the idea of Red Velvet Cupcakes!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Sharing recipes

Some of you might have seen a comment that was posted here about me sharing 'copyrighted material' and how this may be considered unethical or even illegal. I just wanted to let you all know that I've done my research and there is absolutely no issue with me sharing recipes here from books and magazines I own because I'm not copying the recipes word for word and I attribute every recipe that isn't mine to its source.

For more information on the ethics and legalities around recipe sharing, see:

I've got some cute little cupcakes from our girls' weekend away to post soon- stay tuned!

Have a great day :)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Orange Cupcakes

I haven't been feeling well these past couple of weeks and I know that whenever I'm feeling flat or unwell, baking is always going to pick me up. So I grabbed my Nanny's orange cake recipe and made some delicious little cupcakes for my visitors on the weekend.

My Nanny makes this is a whole cake but there's something about cupcakes and decorating them that is so much more therapeutic and that's what I needed!


The thing that makes these cakes so moist is a bit different and I like to think a secret of my Nanny's - it uses a whole orange! So we start by chopping up an orange into small pieces and whizzing it in a food processor. Put the orange into a mixing bowl and add 185g melted butter, 3 eggs, 1 cup caster sugar and 1 1/2 cups SR flour. Mix until well combined and smooth.

Spoon the mixture into lined muffin tins (I got 15 cupcakes out of this recipe). Bake at 180 for about 20 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

The icing was just a basic butter cream with some orange juice in it for flavour. I just piped it on and sprinkled some grated rind on the top. Simple but pretty!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Donna Hay's Raspberry Spiked Brownies

My new workplace has this great little morning tea tradition. Every Wednesday the staff in the east wing of the Town Hall take turns cooking something to share with everyone. Two people are rostered on each week and usually one person will do sweet and one will do savoury. I made it very clear when I was first filled in on the workings of it that I could only do sweet!

Last week it was my turn so I thought I'd pull out a new recipe to go along with my apple crumble muffins (I'm told you don't have to cook two things but it's generally ok if that's what you want to do!). When we were on our girls' weekend in Warrnambool a few months ago I got a gorgeous little Donna Hay 'Chocolate' cookbook. I love the food photography that Donna Hay does - the rustic feel of it is just gorgeous. I took a quick look through it and quickly settled on this recipe - I'm sure by now you can understand why!

Donna Hay's Raspberry Spiked Brownies

Another quick and easy one! Preheat your oven to 180c. Melt 200g dark chocolate and 250g butter in the microwave, stirring every 40 seconds until melted and smooth.

In a bowl, mix together 4 eggs and 1 3/4 cups brown sugar then add the chocolate mixture. Sift over this 1 1/3 cups plain flour, 1/4 tsp baking powder and 1/3 cup cocoa. Mix to combine.

Pour the mixture into a lined square cake tin and top with 1 1/2 cups raspberries. The raspberries can be fresh or frozen, it doesn't really matter. It feels like a lot of raspberries but do put them all on because they shrink in quite a bit when they're cooked.

Bake for 30-35 minutes. The brownies should be quite fudgy so don't worry if they don't seem completely set. Let them cool completely in the tin before cutting into 16 squares. It's tempting to try and cut them while they're still warm but don't - it gets very messy!

My first offering for the traditional morning tea at work.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Two of the best - choc-chip biscuits

A good choc chip biscuit is one of life's simple pleasures. I'll admit that you can get good ones at the supermarket and bakery but there's something about a good homemade biscuit that you can't go past. For me it's getting them out of the oven, carefully transferring them to the rack and then watching them crisp up as they cool. All of that said, it's taken me ages to find a good recipe and I've learnt that you have to watch them like a hawk when you bake them - a couple of minutes too long and you can wreck a whole batch.

So here are two of my favourites - Janelle Bloom's condensed milk choc chip biscuits and Nigella Lawson's totally chocolate chocolate chip cookies.

Janelle Bloom's condensed milk choc-chip biscuits

These ones are from a recipe book I bought my Mum for her birthday one year. We had a bit of a tradition when I was doing uni of sitting down at lunch time and watching Ready, Steady, Cook and Janelle always made the most incredible baked treats and desserts. These biscuits are just one example!

Preheat your oven to 180c (170c if using the fan) and line four big baking trays with baking paper - we're making around 40 biscuits here, depending on how much mixture you eat on the way!

Grab your electric mixer and pop into the bowl 250g butter (softened and chopped), 1/2 cup caster sugar  and half a tin of condensed milk. Beat until pale and creamy. Sift 2 1/2 cups plain flour and 3 1/2 tsps baking powder over the top of the butter mixture and mix until just combined. Add 375g choc chips and stir until well distributed.

Roll heaped teaspoons of the mixture into balls and place onto the baking trays, leaving a little bit of room for them to spread. Flatten a little with a fork.

Bake two trays at a time for 9-12 minutes. Stand for five minutes on the trays and then transfer to wire racks to cool.

Nigella Lawson's Totally Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies
 ( minus my good camera :(
Ok, so these biscuits right here are the definition of comfort food! You could not possibly get any more chocolate into them if you tried - even I had trouble getting through a whole one in one go (I did manage though - tough gig but someone has to do it). When I saw Nigella making them on her show, she was making them for a girlfriend who had just broken up with her man - like I said, perfect comfort food.

Preheat your oven to 170c (remember to lower it a bit if you don't have the option of turning the fan off in your oven - I forgot and had the fan on and they cooked a bit too quickly). Line two large baking trays with baking paper.

Melt 125g dark chocolate in the microwave and set aside to cool a little. Put 150g plain flour, 30g cocoa, 1 tsp bicarb and 1/2 tsp salt into a bowl. Use your electric mixer to cream together 125g butter, 75g brown sugar and 50g white sugar until pale and creamy. Add the melted chocolate and mix to combine. Then add 1 tsp vanilla extract and 1 cold egg. It's interesting that the recipe calls for a cold egg because all good bakers know that all your ingredients should be at room temperature but the lady that taught Nigella this incredible recipe says the egg is to be cold, so cold it is!

Mix in the combined dry ingredients and then finally 350g dark choc chips. Scoop 12 equal mounds onto the trays - one of those ice cream scoops with the release handle works best but I just used my 1/4 cup measure. Don't flatten the mounds.

Place the trays into the oven. It should take around 18 minutes for the biscuits to cook - check them from time to time. You should get some fudgy cake crumbs sticking to the tester but no raw mixture. You'll have to try and avoid the hundreds of choc chips to get an accurate idea!

Remove from the oven, leave to cool on the trays for 5 minutes or so and then transfer to wire racks to cool completely (minus the one that you HAVE to eat while it's still warm - incredible!)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Nigella's Molten Chocolate Baby Cakes

So Nigella calls these Molten Chocolate Babycakes. The chefs would call them Chocolate Fondants. Some people call them Chocolate Lava Cakes or Soft Centred Chocolate Puddings. Whatever you call these little gems, they have one thing in common - they are incredible!

I'd have to say this is my favourite dessert. The first time I made these, my sister and I talked about them for days. They were so delicious; I think I made them three nights in a row!

So here I go again with my chocolate and raspberry combo. For me, you just can't go past it. It's the bomb. End of story.

For something so tasty, these things are fairly easy - I don't do difficult! Start by getting 6 ramekins, greasing them and lining the bottoms with some baking paper. Preheat the oven to 200c. Melt 350g dark chocolate using spurts in the microwave. Nigella says to use the best quality dark chocolate you can get but it can be pretty expensive - I get one block of the good stuff and mix it with the cadbury old gold. Set it aside to cool.

Cream together 50g butter and 150g caster sugar then add 4 large eggs, beating well between each addition. Mix in a pinch of salt and 1 tsp vanilla extract. Add 50g plain flour, mix until smooth and then scrape in the chocolate and mix gently to combine.

Resist the temptation to eat the mixture!

Divide the batter between the ramekins and sit them on a baking tray. Nigella doesn't do it in her recipe, but I learnt somewhere that you should put them in the fridge at this stage for half an hour or so. It helps them to set a bit and hold their form. The whole idea with fondants is that they're still squishy in the middle so putting them in the fridge helps that outer crust to sit a little firmer. From the fridge, pop them into the oven for 10-12 minutes. I sometimes leave them a little longer because I get scared that they won't come out of the moulds properly but if you want a true fondant, 12 minutes will do it!

Now, you can serve them however you want - cream, ice-cream, some mascapone with vanilla would be nice. You know me though... I put some vanilla ice-cream and some raspberries with it! I used to cook the raspberries up with caster sugar and sieve it to make a coulis but now I just pop the raspberries and sugar in the microwave for a minute or so and pour them straight over the top - just as tasty and much less effort!


P.S - first recipe in my new house! The oven works well :)