Category Archives: Custard

Gingerbread Trifle

Continuing with my Christmas theme, I wanted to share my Christmas Trifle recipe. Cherries are abundant in Australia at Christmas time, so I have combined cherries with the more traditionally European Christmas flavours of gingerbread and mulled wine inspired custard. If you can’t get fresh cherries you could use tinned or jarred cherries, but I don’t recommend you use maraschino cherries.

This recipe uses quantities when you are cooking for a crowd, for occasions when you are asked to bring a desert to share for a large family or other Christmas gathering. You may end up with extra gingerbread left over depending on the size of the serving dish(es) you use. If you are catering for smaller numbers, you could half the quantities of everything and make a smaller batch of trifle.

If you are catering for vegetarians, vegetarian jelly is available from Kosher or Asian supermarkets. You could make some alcohol free trifles for the kids with a cherry or berry jelly, then use port wine jelly for the brandy infused adults version.

The gingerbread does seem to have an alarming amount of sugar and golden syrup, but the spices do balance this out and you end up with a sticky gingerbread.

I mentioned in my candy cane chip chocolate ice cream post, if you are worried about your custard splitting or turning into scrambled eggs, half fill the sink with cold water and ice cubes so that you can set the saucepan in the cool water to immediately stop the cooking once it starts to thicken. If you do happen to split the custard slightly, you can sometimes save it by blending thoroughly in a blender to recombine everything (after removing the vanilla bean, cinnamon stick, star anise and cloves).

Gingerbread Trifle


  • 500g cherries, pitted [you might need plastic gloves for this because cherries can stain your hands, clothes, etc.]
  • 2 packets jelly
  • Gingerbread
  • Spiced custard


  • Make the gingerbread and spiced custard according to the recipes below. Allow gingerbread and custard to cool completely.
  • Make the jelly according to packet instructions and refrigerate until almost set.
  • You can either make individual trifles in small glass cups / bowls, or a large one. I like to use glass so that you can see all the layers. Add a layer of gingerbread to the bottom of the bowl[s]. Next add cherries, then top with custard, leaving about 1cm at the top for the jelly
  • Gently spoon over the almost set jelly and refrigerate the whole lot until set and ready to eat.

Gingerbread trifle

Gingerbread recipe


  • 2 cups self-raising flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon mixed spice
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  •  2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 125g butter
  • 1 cup golden syrup


  • Melt butter and syrup in saucepan over low heat until butter is melted.

Butter and syrup

  • Add the flour & spices together into food processor bowl. Add sugar eggs, milk and butter syrup and mix well [or if you don’t have a food processor use a mixer or beaters or wooden spoon].


  • Pour into tins – I use cupcake tins. Bake for 40 minutes at 170°C [fan-forced] or 180°C normal oven. Remove from oven when cooked – ie skewer comes out clean or the gingerbread springs back with lightly touched.

Spiced Custard


  • 500mls full cream milk
  • 500mls thickened cream
  • 100g sugar
  • 5 large egg yolks and 5 large whole eggs
  • 2 vanilla pods or 1 tspn vanilla paste or 2 tspns vanilla essence
  • zest from one orange
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg or mace
  • 1 star anise
  • 2 tablespoons brandy [or calvados – apple brandy] *optional*


  • Put the milk and cream in a saucepan with the sugar.
  • Split vanilla pod in half, scrape out seeds, add vanilla seeds to the pan, together with the scraped pods. [Or just add the vanilla paste or essence if using.]
  • Add the cloves, cinnamon stick, nutmeg or mace, star anise, eggs and egg yolks.
  • Whisk to combine the eggs, and place the saucepan on medium heat on the stove top.
  • Cook, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon until it thickens.
  • Immediately remove the pan from the heat, add the brandy (if using) and strain the custard through a sieve into a chilled bowl or jug.  Cover and allow to cool.

What is your favourite dish to bring along to a large get together? Has this post inspired any new ideas?


Leave a comment

Filed under Baking, Cake, Custard, Recipes, Spices, Sweet, Vegetarian

Christmas count down

As we move into December, the count down to Christmas has well and truly begun. Here is a dessert idea to get you in the Christmas spirit – candy cane chip chocolate ice cream. Growing up in Australia where Christmas falls in summer, and  as Christmas is prone to over indulgence, ice cream seems to work perfectly for dessert, because no matter how full you are there always is a little bit of room left for ice cream. This ice cream could go alongside your Christmas pudding, trifle, pavlova or whatever else you are having or is great on its’ own.

I cook the custard over a fairly high heat, if you are not as brave you can cook over a lower temperature, it will just take longer. If you are worried about your custard splitting or turning into scrambled eggs, half fill the sink with cold water and ice cubes so that you can set the saucepan in the cool water to immediately stop the cooking once it starts to thicken. If you do happen to split the custard slightly, you can sometimes save it by blending thoroughly in a blender to recombine everything. If you wanted to make this recipe extra indulgent, you could use half cream, half milk. You could use the left over egg whites to make meringues or a pavlova, and remember, egg whites freeze well.

Candy Cane Chip Chocolate Ice Cream

* Please note you will need an ice cream machine for this recipe.


  • 500mls full cream milk
  • 75g sugar
  • 4 large egg yolks, plus 2 whole eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 100g good quality dark chocolate, chopped
  • 10 mini candy canes, plus extra to decorate


  • Put the eggs, sugar, vanilla and milk in a saucepan. Whisk to combine.
  • Cook on a medium to high heat, whisking continuously until the custard thickens slightly.

Chocolate custard

  • Immediately remove the pan from the heat, add the chocolate and stir until melted and combined. Cover and allow to chill in the fridge.
  • Pour the chilled chocolate custard into an ice cream machine and churn.
  • Peel your candy canes, and add them to a brown paper bag or put them in some grease proof paper.
  • Using a rolling-pin or something heavy, smash the candy canes into pieces.
  • When the ice cream is firm, add the crumbled candy canes and churn to mix.
  • Transfer ice cream to a container and put into the freezer.

Chocolate candy cane ice cream

  • To serve, put into fridge to soften slightly up to half an hour before serving. Enjoy.

Chocolate candy cane chip ice cream

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Chocolate, Custard, Recipes, Sweet

Nostalgic inspiration

I may be giving my age away a bit here, but I learnt to cook by consulting my mother’s Australian Women’s Weekly Recipe Card collection. That box contained a treasure trove of inspiration that transformed many a quiet Sunday into an afternoon of experimentation with rewards for my efforts. My sweet tooth was dominant even back then, so most of my focus was around the Light ‘n’ Lovely Desserts,  Favourite Cakes and Homemade Confectionery sections. The Australian Women’s Weekly Recipe Card Collection box sets fetch hansome prices on ebay these days and have turned into quite the collectors item.

One of my favourite recipes from this collection was (is) Passionfruit Bavarian. I used to make one large one in a tupperware jelly mould, but for my recent attempt I used individual jelly moulds. It helps if you use a mould with a removable top / base as this breaks the air-lock and makes the un-moulding process smoother. You may want to spray your moulds with a little neutral tasting cooking spray like a canola oil spray to further assist the un-moulding process. It may also help to dip your moulds in hot water for 5 seconds or so when you are ready to plate up to help with the un-moulding process.

I recently made a trip to Herbie’s Spices and stocked up on some native Australian herbs and spices to experiment with, including strawberry gum. According to the packet strawberry gum is a ground native Australian herb,  with a flavour profile of berries, passionfruit and sweet spices (and I can attest this is a fairly accurate description) – perfect to incorporate in my Passionfruit Bavarian recipe. If you don’t have / don’t want to track down strawberry gum, you can stick closer to the original recipe and leave it out. You can order Herbie’s Spices online, or they are stocked in many delis and gourmet food stores.

I’ve included details using gelatine as specified in the original recipe and a vegetarian agar agar version for those that don’t eat gelatine.

If you would like a quick lesson on beating egg whites, the Bakingsheet blog gives a comprehensive rundown.

Passionfruit and Strawberry Gum Bavarian

Serves 6


  • 1 teaspoon agar agar or 1 packet / sheet of gelatin made according to directions on the packet
  • 300 mls cream
  • 1/2 cup or 115 g sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon ground strawberry gum
  • 4 large or 6 small passionfruit, plus extra for serving / garnish


  • Separate the egg yolks and whites – yolks into a saucepan and whites into a bowl.
  • Add sugar, 150mls of cream and agar agar (if using)  to the egg yolks in a saucepan and mix to combine. (Or make gelatine according to directions on the packet.)
  • Stir the egg yolk, cream and sugar mixture over a low heat until the custard thickens. Be careful not to cook too quickly or you will end up with sweet scrambled eggs.
  • Remove the custard from heat and add (the gelatine if using) passionfruit pulp and strawberry gum, stir to combine and set aside to cool.

  • Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form.
  • Beat the remaining cream until whipped.
  • Gently fold the cream into the custard mixture, then the egg whites.

  • Transfer the mixture to your moulds – either individual jelly moulds or a large jelly mould or whatever pretty bowl you plan to serve your bavarian in.

  • Refridgerate until set.
  • To serve, un-mould your bavarian(s) and top with extra passionfruit pulp, or top your dish of passionfruit bavarian with extra passionfruit pulp. Enjoy.

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

1 Comment

Filed under Custard, Passionfruit, Recipes, Spices, Sweet, Vegetarian

Chocolate beetroot cake

I recently consulted a herbalist to help improve my overall health. The recommendations included staying away from chocolate, coca and coffee, and increasing the amount of root vegetables I eat. I must have a real stubborn streak, because as soon as somebody tells me I shouldn’t have something I crave it so much more, so skipping my morning flat white and avoiding chocolate has been hard.

Tracking down carob buttons to take the place of my chocolate consumption has also been hard, even a couple of the health food stores and co-ops I tried don’t stock them. I did eventually manage to track down some carob powder and carob buttons, I think the last time I ate carob buttons was in primary school when they came in a packet of 10 in a twist of grease-proof paper.

To try and satisfy my chocolate cravings and increase my root vegetable intake (it still counts if it is in a cake doesn’t it?), I made a carob and beetroot cake. In the recipe below I’ve included details for a chocolate option for those of you that aren’t being deprived. The cake turned out to be deliciously moist with an extra depth of flavor thanks to the beetroot. When you are checking to see if it is cooked it may still feel a little squidgy, as long as the middle of the cake springs back when you touch it and / or a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean it is cooked. Carob powder is not as strong as coca powder so you need to use a bit more if you are substituting in recipes. You may want to wear plastic gloves when grating the beetroot so that you don’t end up with stained hands. You can use any vegetable oil you like, I used rice bran oil which had a neutral taste and is good for baking. I used edible red glitter to decorate my cake, but feel free to get creative with your decorating.

Chocolate beetroot cake

* This recipe was adapted from a carrot cake recipe in Leiths Baking Bible by Susan Spaull and Fiona Burrell. I have modified and adapted it to come up with the below reincarnation.



  • 250ml vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 225g brown sugar
  • 200g raw beetroot, grated
  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 50g coca powder or 80g carob powder


  • 200g dark chocolate or carob buttons
  • 50g coca powder or 80g carob powder
  • 200g icing sugar
  • 50g butter


  1. Heat oven to 180°C.
  2. Grease 2 x cake tins (I used 20cm round tins).
  3. In a large bowl, stir together the oil, eggs, vanilla extract, sugar and beetroot.
  4. Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and coca or carob powder into the bowl.
  5. Mix the dry and wet ingredients until combined.
  6. Divide the mixture between the 2 tins and bake in the centre of the oven for 25 minutes or until cooked.
  7. Remove cakes from the oven and cool on a wire rack.
  8. To make the icing, sift the icing sugar and coca or carob powder into a heat proof bowl. Add the chocolate or carob buttons and butter to the bowl.
  9. Place the bowl over a saucepan of hot water so that the bowl is not touching the hot water but is suspended above it.
  10. Stir the icing mixture occasionally until the chocolate and butter are melted and everything is incorporated.
  11. Remove the icing from the hot water.
  12. Once the cake is cool, place one cake on your serving plate, add half of the icing to the top of the cake, spreading until almost to the edge and place the other cake on top.
  13. Use the rest of the icing to ice the top and sides of your double-decker cake.
  14. Allow the icing to set. Your cake is ready to serve. Enjoy.

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


Filed under Baking, Beetroot, Cake, Caramel, Carob, Chocolate, Custard, Orange, Recipes, Sweet, Vegetarian

Orange crème caramel

I might have mentioned this previously, but I have fierce sweet tooth and love desserts. Custard-based desserts rank highly in my favourites.

It is important to cook any baked custard gently at a low temperature or you will end up with something that resembles the texture of scrambled eggs.

If you don’t have a sugar thermometer, you can test what stage your toffee or sauce is up to by placing a small drop of the mixture on a plate, coming in contact with the plate it cools quickly and you can then tell if your mix is going to be a hard toffee or how thick your sauce is going to be. Don’t be tempted to stick a finger into the saucepan to taste or you will end up with a nasty burn.

This recipe idea is a twist on a classic. I have been quite generous with the orange flavour, if you prefer things more subtle, adjust the recipe and only use one orange for the zest and juice, instead of the two listed below.

Orange Crème Caramel

Serves 6


Orange Caramel Sauce

  • 150mls of water
  • 175g sugar
  • juice of 2 oranges
  • Generous pinch of salt


  • zest of 2 oranges
  • 1 vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 100g sugar
  • 600mls cream
  • 6 egg yolks


  1. To infuse the custard mixture, add the cream, orange zest and sugar to a saucepan.
  2. Split the vanilla pod, scrape out the seeds contained inside, and add the pod and seeds to the cream [or add the vanilla essence].
  3. Gently heat the cream, stirring occasionally until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is hot. Don’t allow the mixture to boil.
  4. Once you start to see some steam coming of the cream turn the heat off and leave it to the side to allow the flavours to infuse.
  5. Heat oven to 150°C and boil a full kettle.
  6. To make the sauce add the water, salt and sugar to a saucepan. Heat over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved, stirring occasionally.
  7. Once the sugar has dissolved, continue to cook without stirring until the sugar carmalises and turns a golden colour. If you have a sugar thermometer this is around the soft crack stage or 140°C.
  8. Add the orange juice to the hot toffee, it will and spit and bubble and the toffee will become quite solid. Stirring, continue to cook until the toffee is dissolved in the orange juice, then let the sauce cook without stirring until it thickens slightly. If you have a sugar thermometer this is around the soft ball stage, or 120°C. Allow the caramel to cool slightly.
  9. Add the egg yolks to the cooled cream mixture. Mix well.
  10. Add the caramel sauce to the bottom of 6 ramekin dishes. Swirl the sauce to coat the sides slightly. Place the ramekin in a deep dish that will later become their water bath or bain-marie.
  11. Strain the custard mixture to remove the zest and vanilla bean, then pour into the ramekin dishes. The custard will float above the caramel sauce, but try to pour gently.
  12. Place the deep dish with its ramekins in the oven. Pour in the water from the kettle – the water should be hot but not freshly boiled if you are using glass ramekins, because the sudden change in temperature may cause the glass to crack.
  13. Cook in the oven for approximately 45 minutes or until set. You still want a slight wobble to your custards. Test by giving a ramekins a little shake to see if it does wobble, or you could insert a butter knife slightly into the custard and see if the custard pulls away, if it is too runny it won’t part.
  14. Remove dish from oven and remove ramekins from the hot water to cool, refrigerate until cold or you are ready to serve.
  15. To serve, run a knife around the edge of the ramekin to break the seal and make sure the custard doesn’t stick. Place a plate on top of the ramekin then flip the plate & ramekin over. Gently remove the ramekin to unmold the custard with its citrus caramel sauce. Enjoy.

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


Filed under Baking, Caramel, Custard, Orange, Recipes, Sweet, Vegetarian