Monthly Archives: August 2013

Gooey caramel

One of my all time favourite desserts is Nigella’s Molten Chocolate Babycakes. I wanted to play with this recipe and come up with a caramel version.

The salt quantity below is based on using fine salt flakes, if you are using regular table salt you will need to reduce the amount you include – adjust to taste but start off cautiously.

Babycakes are best cooked to order just before you are ready to serve. The original chocolate and these caramel puddings can be frozen before cooking (if you happen to have any such thing as extras), so that you have them on standby for emergencies. You will just need to add a couple of extra minutes to the cooking time if cooking straight from the freezer. You also may need to play with the cooking times depending on your oven, you want a cooked pudding that will turn out of its mould intact but retaining its gooey centre. Delicious with whipped cream or ice-cream.

What I was cooking this time last year: Pumpkin Cannelloni

Salted Caramel Babycakes

* This recipe was adapted from a Molten Chocolate Babycakes recipe by Nigella Lawson. I have modified and adapted it to come up with the below reincarnation.

Serves 6


  • 50g butter, softened
  • 350g white chocolate
  • 150g brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt flakes
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 50g plain flour
  • Cooking oil spray to grease your cake tin


  • Add the white chocolate and brown sugar to a large bowl.

White chocolate and brown sugar

  • Suspend the bowl over a saucepan of hot water and gently heat until the chocolate is melted and everything is combined. Allow the chocolate to cool slightly.
  • Add the butter, vanilla, eggs, salt and plain flour to your food processor bowl. Blend until combined.

Cake ingredients

  • Add the chocolate sugar mixture to the food processor and blend until combined.
  • Spray 6 moulds with cooking spray, and you may want to line the bottom of each mould with a disc of grease-proof paper cut to size.
  • Divide the batter between the 6 moulds.

Caramel pudding

  • When ready to cook, pre-heat the oven on to 200°C.
  • Cook your baby cake(s) for 12 – 15 minutes.


  • Remove from the oven, run a knife around the outside of the cakes to loosen from the mould, then tip out onto small plates or shallow bowls.
  • Serve with whipped cream or ice-cream. Enjoy.

Caramel pudding with ice-cream

What is your favourite gooey recipe? Has this post inspired any new ideas?


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Filed under Baking, Cake, Chocolate, Pudding, Recipes, Sweet, Vegetarian

Such a tart

Many varieties of tomatoes are available at the moment in abundance, so I’ve used them as the basis for my recipe this week. Flavours that match well with tomatoes include oregano and garlic, but you could of course experiment with whatever flavours inspire you. The tomatoes have been roasted before adding to the tart to intensify their flavours. I used roma or egg tomatoes, but feel free to use whatever looks good when you are shopping. This tart can be served hot from the oven, warm or cold.

I’m lazy with my pastry making these days, and don’t roll out my pastry. I prefer to push it into shape in the tin then let it rest in the freezer before baking. This gives it a rustic, un-uniform edge but I quite like that. You can of course rest the pastry, roll it out and fit to your tin if you prefer. How many tarts you get out of this recipe depends on how big your tart tin(s) are and how thick you want your pastry, or you could use a muffin or cupcake pan to create mini tarts. Any leftover uncooked pastry can be frozen for use at a later date.

Tomato Tart


For the pastry case

  • 125g butter, softened
  • 250g plain flour
  • 1 x generous pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon mustard
  • 50g parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves
  • 1 egg

For the tart filling

  • 500g tomatoes
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sumac
  • 1 red onion
  • 2 eggs
  • 100mls cream
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves
  • Salt and pepper


  • Turn your oven on to 180°C to pre-heat.
  • Chop the tomatoes into thick slices, for my roma tomatoes I chopped each into 3 long ways.
  • Peel and finely chop the garlic and onion.
  • Lay your tomato slices on a baking tray and sprinkle with the garlic, onion, cayenne pepper and sumac.
  • Drizzle over the oil.
  • Put your tray of tomatoes in the oven to roast for 40 minutes while you make your pastry.

Tomatoes and garlic

  • In a food processor mix the butter, flour, a pinch of salt, oregano leaves, parmesan and mustard until it resembles fine breadcrumbs [or you could do this by hand by rubbing small cubes of cold butter into the dry ingredients].

Savoury pastry ingredients

  • Add the egg and combine until the mixture just comes together as soft dough. If the mixture is still a little dry after adding the egg, add a little cold water until the mixture just comes together into a ball.

Pastry egg

  • Tip the pastry into your tin and press into shape, and place in the freezer to rest and chill.

Pastry case savoury

  • After your tomatoes have been baking for 40 minutes, transfer them to a lower shelf in the oven and bake your pastry case until cooked and light brown. The time will vary depending on what sort of tart tin you are using, but as a guide allow approximately 20 minutes.
  • Separate an egg, reserving the egg white and mix the egg yolk with a pastry brush. Brush egg yolk to glaze the inside of your pastry case, then cook for a further 10 minutes.
  • Remove your tomatoes and pastry case from the oven.
  • Scatter the oregano leaves over the base of the pastry case.
  • Assemble your cooked tomatoes in the pastry case.
  • Add another egg to your separated egg white, then add cream and salt and pepper. Mix to combine.

Egg cream pepper

  • Pour the egg mixture over the tomatoes in the pastry case.

Tomato tart ready for baking

  • Return your tart to the oven and cook for 20 minutes or so or until the egg mixture is set (doesn’t wobble when you give the tart a shake).
  • Your tart is ready to serve. Enjoy!

Tomato tart

What is your favourite pastry tip? Has this post inspired any new ideas?

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Filed under Baking, Cheese, Herbs, Pastry, Recipes, Savoury, Vegetarian


Mushrooms were proudly on display at my local farmers markets this weekend, so I used this as the basis for my recipe. Most mushroom soup recipes use cream, but this one relies on tangy citrus flavours to compliment the earthy mushrooms.


I used a mixture of button mushrooms and portobello. Sumac is a middle eastern spice with a tangy citrus flavour. If you don’t like things spicy, you could substitute the cayenne pepper with paprika. If you have some home-made or bought vegetable stock, feel free to use that instead of the stock powder and hot water. Strict vegetarians can of course skip the anchovy filets. Given that everything will be blended at the end, don’t worry too much about your chopping. The recipe below produces quite a big batch, enough for 6 portions, but it’s always handy to have leftovers for lunch or freezing for later.

What I was cooking this time last year: Passionfruit Pudding

Mushroom Soup

Serves 6


  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 large red onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 anchovy filets
  • 2 sticks of celery
  • 1 tablespoon sumac
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1kg button mushrooms
  • 500g portobello mushrooms
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice
  • 2 tablespoons lemon thyme, plus extra for garnishing
  • 2 x 400g tins of butter beans
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable stock powder
  • Water
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • Chop the onion and garlic.

Onion and garlic

  • Heat the oil in a large pot, add the chopped onion and garlic and anchovy filets and fry over a medium heat while you chop the celery.
  • Chop the celery and add to the pot.
  • Add the sumac and cayenne pepper to the pot and stir to combine. You may need to turn the heat down slightly.
  • Dust any dirt off the mushrooms.
  • Chop the mushrooms and add them to the pot.
  • Cook until the mushrooms wilt down, stirring occasionally.

Butter beans and mushrooms

  • Add the butter beans, and fill up each empty can with water and add that to the pot too.
  • Add the zest and juice of the lemon, stock powder, thyme and salt and pepper to taste.

Mushroom soup thyme

  • Cook the soup over medium heat for 15 minutes or so.
  • Blend the soup until smooth.
  • Your soup is ready to serve. Garnish with extra thyme if desired. Enjoy.

Mushroom soup

What is your favourite mushroom recipe? Has this post inspired any new ideas?

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Filed under Herbs, Lemon, Mushroom, Recipes, Savoury, Soup, Spices

Grandma cake

I’m not exactly sure why, but for me rhubarb has always been a grandmaesque ingredient. Rhubarb is also popping up at farmers markets and green grocers in Sydney at the moment, so I used it as the inspiration for this week’s recipe. I love the pretty deep pink colour cooked rhubarb provides. Because I don’t like my rhubarb too stringy, I cut the pieces quite small, about 1cm wide. I used hazelnuts, but you could experiment with almonds or other nuts.

This cake could be served with some thick cream, ice-cream, natural yoghurt or custard, delicious warm or cooled.

What I was cooking this time last year: Orange Crème Caramel

Rhubarb and Hazelnut Crumble Cake

* The basic cake recipe ingredients list is taken from a Women’s Weekly Recipe Card recipe.



  • 1 bunch of fresh rhubarb
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean pod
  • water, to just cover the chopped rhubarb

Hazelnut crumble

  • 150g hazelnuts
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon mixed spice


  • 125g softened butter
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups self-raising flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 50mls milk
  • vanilla bean pod from the rhubarb
  • Cooking oil spray to grease your cake tin


  • Wash the rhubarb, chop off the green top and the bottom of the rhubarb stalks.
  • Chop the rhubarb stalks into 1cm pieces and add to a saucepan.

Fresh rhubarb

  • Add the sugar and vanilla pod to the rhubarb, and add water until just covered.
  • Cook the rhubarb on a medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes until soft.
  • Drain the cooked rhubarb from the liquid, and return the liquid to the saucepan.


  • Cook the rhubarb liquid until it reduces and thickens.
  • Add the rhubarb syrup to the cooked rhubarb and set aside to cool.
  • To make the crumble, add the hazelnuts, brown sugar and mixed spice to your food processor bowl.


  • Pulse the crumble mix until the nuts are chopped and everything is combined.
  • Set the crumble aside.

Hazelnut crumble

  • Turn the oven on to 180°C.
  • To make the cake batter, add the butter, sugar and vanilla pod to the food processor bowl. Beat together until  light and creamy.
  • Add the eggs and beat until combined.

Cake mixture eggs

  • Mix in a little of the sifted flour alternately with the milk, until everything is combined.
  • Spray your cake tin with cooking oil to prevent sticking.
  • Add half of the cake batter, and spread out over the bottom of the cake tin.
  • Top the cake batter with half of the cooked rhubarb, then half of the crumble mixture.

Hazelnut crumble cake

  • Add the remaining cake batter, rhubarb and crumble layers.

Rhubarb cake

  • Cook in the oven for approximately 60 minutes or until the center of the cake springs back when lightly touched.
  • Allow the cake to cool in the tin for 5 – 10 minutes, then remove from the tin. Your cake is ready to serve warm or you could wait until it is cool. Enjoy.

Rhubarb and Hazelnut Crumble Cake

What is your favourite colour? Has this post inspired any new ideas?


Filed under Baking, Cake, Hazelnut, Recipes, Rhubarb, Spices, Sweet, Vegetarian

Cheat chocolate tarts

It is my nephew’s first birthday party tomorrow, and my brother put in an order for macaroons. I ran out of time and energy this week, so I will have to politely decline his request (for now). Instead, I opted for a quick and easy, kid-friendly recipe. The tart base is something I learnt about on the Arnott’s website, and can easily be adapted to include whichever fillings you like or have available, banoffee pies, curd (lemon, peach or passionfruit) or chocolate. You could also experiment with different biscuits, and I also used a gluten-free ginger snap to make sure my sister-in-law didn’t miss out. The chocolate tarts could be topped with berries instead of sprinkles for a more grown-up version.

You will need 2 round bottomed tins, one to re-heat the biscuits, one to weigh them down once they are soft.

Arnott's Butternut Snap Cookies

What I was cooking this time last year: Pumpkin cannelloni

Chocolate tarts


  • 1 packet Arnott’s Butternut Snap Cookies
  • 300mls cream
  • 220g chocolate
  • 100g condensed milk
  • Chocolate sprinkles to decorate


  • Turn the oven on to 150°C.
  • Add a biscuit over each hole of a round based tartlet tin (you may need to do this in 2 batches).

Biscuit tart cases

  • Cook in the oven for 10 minutes or until the biscuits soften.
  • Place another round based tartlet tin over the biscuits and push down to encourage the biscuits to form into a tart shape.
  • Weigh down the top tray with a couple of tins until the biscuit tart cases have cooled.

Tart tin

  • Remove the cooled biscuit tart cases from the tin.
  • Repeat the biscuit moulding process until you have used all the biscuits.
  • To make the chocolate ganache filling, add the chocolate, cream and condensed milk to a large bowl.

Chocolate and cream

  • Suspend the bowl over a saucepan of hot water and gently heat until the chocolate is melted and everything is combined. Allow the chocolate ganache to cool slightly.
  • Fill the biscuit tart cases with chocolate ganache and refrigerate until the filling sets.

Chocolate tarts being filled

  • Sprinkle the top of your chocolate tarts with sprinkles.
  • Your tarts are ready to serve. Enjoy.

Chocolate sprinkle tarts

What is your favourite kids party food? Has this post inspired any new ideas?

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Filed under Baking, Biscuits, Chocolate, Recipes, Sweet, Vegetarian