In the spirit of the cooler weather that is still lingering in Sydney and July, I wanted to experiment with a mulled wine recipe this week. If you are having a party, it would be perfect to make up a big batch and have it keeping warm in a slow cooker for your guests to ladle.
For me, christmas inspired spices include cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. Lots of recipes call for sugar and orange in their mulled wine recipe, I decided to substitute marmalade to give some sweetness and citrus tang. Use a red wine you would be happy drinking, I used an Australian shiraz. It is important to only gently heat your mulled wine and not let it boil, otherwise all of the alchohol will evaoporate away. If you want to pimp up your mulled wine in the alcohol stakes you could add a wee nip or three of brandy.
What I was cooking this time last year: Zucchini Fritters
- 1 bottle (750mls) red wine
- 2 cinnamon sticks, lightly crushed
- 6 cloves
- I star anise
- 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 kaffir lime leaf
- 1 tablespoon marmalade
- Add all of the ingredients to a saucepan.
- Heat over a low heat until warmed through.
- Ladle serves into mugs or heat-proof glasses, avoiding or straining off the whole spices.
- Your mulled wine is ready to serve with a cinnamon stick as a stirrer. Enjoy.
What is your favourite warming drink? Has this post inspired any new ideas?
Oranges are beautiful in Sydney at the moment, and I wanted to use them in a cake. I was lucky enough have some help with my baking today from my three year old niece – her favourite part was taste testing as we worked our way through the various steps. My favourite part was spending time with my niece, and playing with my sister-in-law’s purple KitchenAid mixer. I paired the citrus flavour from the orange with coconut. Instead of icing, I created a syrup to soak into the cake.
What I was cooking this time last year: Winter Punch
Coconut and Orange Cake
- 125g softened butter
- 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 cups sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup self-raising flour
- 1 cup desiccated coconut
- zest from 3 oranges
- 1/2 cup sugar
- juice from 3 oranges
- Turn the oven on to 180°C.
- Beat the butter and vanilla together until pale and white.
- Add the sugar to the butter and beat until light and creamy.
- Add the eggs, one at a time beating well after each addition.
- Add the orange zest and mix until combined.
- Mix in the coconut until combined (stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed).
- Mix in the flour until combined (stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed).
- Transfer the cake batter into a cake tin.
- Cook the cake for approximately 25 minutes or until it springs back when touched in the center.
- While the cake is cooking, juice the oranges, and add the juice to a small saucepan.
- Add the sugar for the syrup to the saucepan and cook over a medium heat for 10 minutes until it reduces and thickens a little.
- Remove the cooked cake from the oven, remove from it’s tin and place on a plate with high / curved edges.
- Pour over the syrup and allow to soak into the cake.
- Serve warm or allow your cake to cool. Enjoy.
What is your favourite flavour combination? Has this post inspired any new ideas?
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
- Heat oven to 180°C.
- Grease 2 x cake tins (I used 20cm round tins).
- In a large bowl, stir together the oil, eggs, vanilla extract, sugar and beetroot.
- Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and coca or carob powder into the bowl.
- Mix the dry and wet ingredients until combined.
- Divide the mixture between the 2 tins and bake in the centre of the oven for 25 minutes or until cooked.
- Remove cakes from the oven and cool on a wire rack.
- 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.
- Place the bowl over a saucepan of hot water so that the bowl is not touching the hot water but is suspended above it.
- Stir the icing mixture occasionally until the chocolate and butter are melted and everything is incorporated.
- Remove the icing from the hot water.
- 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.
- Use the rest of the icing to ice the top and sides of your double-decker cake.
- 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
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
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
- To infuse the custard mixture, add the cream, orange zest and sugar to a saucepan.
- Split the vanilla pod, scrape out the seeds contained inside, and add the pod and seeds to the cream [or add the vanilla essence].
- Gently heat the cream, stirring occasionally until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is hot. Don’t allow the mixture to boil.
- 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.
- Heat oven to 150°C and boil a full kettle.
- To make the sauce add the water, salt and sugar to a saucepan. Heat over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved, stirring occasionally.
- 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.
- 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.
- Add the egg yolks to the cooled cream mixture. Mix well.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Remove dish from oven and remove ramekins from the hot water to cool, refrigerate until cold or you are ready to serve.
- 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?
There is currently an ice-rink set up right on the sand at Bondi Beach, as part of the Bondi Winter Magic Festival. It is a very bizarre sight to see waves crashing behind the ice-rink. I really like the market stalls that accompany the rink, they remind me of European style Christmas markets, selling mulled wine and other treats to warm up the crowds. The thought of mulled wine inspired me to share this recipe with you for Winter Punch.
In the recipe I suggest you use calvados, which is an apple brandy. If you don’t have any calvados available you could use brandy or cognac or even try experimenting with the addition of some frangelico, a hazelnut liqueur. You could of course also make a non-alcoholic version and skip the alcohol altogether.
A fabulous ingredient in this recipe that deserves special mention is quince paste, sometimes referred to as quince cheese. Quince paste is also sold in tins labeled as dulce de membrillo. I find a tin of dulce de membrillo better value than the tiny tubs quince paste. You might be able to track down a tin (there are a few different brands) in your gourmet greengrocer or deli, quite often in the jam section. Once you open the tin, transfer the dulce de membrillo or quince paste to a plastic container and store in the fridge, it keeps well as it is a type of jam. I recommend using a wedge of quince paste on your cheese board – it works especially well served with a triple cream brie.
* This recipe was inspired by a Hot Apple Punch recipe by Louise Mackaness that appeared in a Waitrose Food Illustrated magazine. I have modified and adapted it over the years to come up with the below reincarnation.
- 2 large oranges, zested and juiced
- 8 whole cloves
- 1 litre cloudy apple juice
- 4 cinnamon sticks
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract or essence
- 100g quince paste
- 4 nips (30ml) of calvados, or other liquor, if using
- Add the orange juice, zest, cloves, apple juice, cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, vanilla and quince paste to a saucepan. Heat over gentle heat, stirring until the quince paste dissolves.
- Once the paste is dissolved and the punch is warmed through, strain to remove the cloves, zest and cinnamon [keep the cinnamon sticks] and transfer the punch to 4 mugs.
- Add a nip of calvados or other liquor to each mug, if using.
- Add a cinnamon stick to each mug as a stirrer. Your punch is ready to serve. Enjoy.
What is your favourite warm winter drink? Has this post inspired any new ideas?