Christmas is a time for gratitude, remembering all those things you are thankful for, and indulging in things that make you happy, spending time with loved ones and overdosing on favourite foods. I have a lot to be grateful for, and one thing that is high on my happiness list is chocolate. I decided to revisit a recipe from last year and improve on it by combining cocoa with my gingerbread recipe to create a chocolate version, and substituted milk for ginger beer.
This gingerbread is delicious by itself, dressed up with your favourite icing or used in trifle, which is what I will be doing later this week for Christmas.
Wishing you a very happy Christmas.
What I was cooking this time last year: Gingerbread Trifle
- 2 cups self-raising flour
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon mixed spice
- 1 cup ginger beer
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 125g butter
- 1 cup golden syrup
- Cooking oil spray
- Melt butter and syrup in saucepan over low heat until butter is melted and set aside to cool a little.
- Sift the flour, cocoa & spices into a bowl.
- Add sugar, eggs, ginger beer and butter syrup and mix well.
- Spray your baking tin(s) with cooking oil spray. Pour cake batter into tins – I used mini-cupcake tins.
- Bake for 20 minutes at 170°C [fan-forced] or 180°C normal oven (you will need to adjust the cooking time if using larger tins). Remove from oven when cooked – ie skewer comes out clean or the gingerbread springs back with lightly touched.
What is your favourite food that makes you happy? Has this post inspired any new ideas?
Banana bread has become a breakfast staple in cafés. A coconut bread recipe by Bill Granger was the inspiration for my recipe this week. I’ve changed ingredients and swapped it from a loaf to muffins, to come up with the below recipe.
I’ve packed in triple coconut, with desiccated coconut, coconut milk and coconut oil. Coconut oil is sometimes referred to as coconut butter, they are the same thing. If your coconut oil becomes solid, it can easily be melted my standing the jar in some hot water from the kettle and it will return to liquid again. Coconut oil is reported to be a good oil, with lots of health benefits, and works well in baking.
If you are not a confident baker, muffins are the perfect thing to try making to build up your confidence. No fancy equipment is needed for mixing the batter. In fact, the less mixing you do, the better. It’s also a good recipe to get the kids involved with.
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. If you need to reduce or limit your salt intake, you can of course skip the salt.
Delicious served warm straight from the oven, with a slather of butter or just as they are. Suitable for breakfast, morning or afternoon tea or a snack. Any leftovers can be frozen and zapped for a few seconds in the microwave to warm through again.
What I was cooking this time last year: Strawberry and White Chocolate Mousse
* This recipe was adapted from a Coconut Bread recipe by Bill Granger. I have modified and adapted it to come up with the below reincarnation.
Makes 12 muffins
- 2 eggs
- 300mls coconut milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 350g self-raising flour
- 1 teaspoon mixed spice
- 100g brown sugar
- 150g shredded coconut
- 75mls coconut oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt flakes
- Cooking oil spray to grease your muffin tin
- Pre-heat the oven on to 180°C.
- Add the dry ingredients (flour, mixed spice, coconut, salt and brown sugar) to a large bowl. Stir to combine.
- Add the coconut oil, eggs and vanilla to a measuring jug and mix to combine. Add the liquid to the dry ingredients in the bowl.
- Measure out 300mls coconut milk and add to the dry ingredients in the bowl.
- Stir until the mixture is just combined, being careful not to over-mix.
- Spray a muffin or cupcake tin with cooking spray.
- Pour the batter into the muffin tray.
- Cook your muffins in the oven for 20 – 25 minutes or until cooked through (test by pressing lightly on the middle of a muffin, it should bounce back, or when you insert a skewer into the center it comes out clean without any batter stuck to it).
- Remove from the oven, and serve still warm, or allow to cool in the muffin tray. Enjoy.
What is your favourite breakfast recipe? Has this post inspired any new ideas?
In preparation for embracing the “Swank Diet” in the new year, I am taking steps to wean myself off certain favourite foods. A lot of the diets books I have been reading say it is important not to put your body through sudden and / or drastic changes, so I am currently cutting back on coffee and dairy products, and if I am eating dairy, using low-fat or no-fat versions. If you are regular follower of this blog, you may have detected that I love baking and I believe cake should be classified as its’ own food group. The inspiration for this recipe is to come up with a cake that doesn’t use butter. I wouldn’t go as far as saying it’s healthy, but for me, it’s a step in the right direction.
The cake has been drowned in a sticky syrup, which you could skip if you want or need to reduce your sugar intake. Delicious served warm alongside a scoop of fat free natural yoghurt.
What I was cooking this time last year: Veggie Burgers
Lemon Poppy Seed Yoghurt Cake
- 2 cups self-raising flour
- 3/4 cup raw sugar
- 1 cup zero fat yoghurt
- 1/2 cup rice bran oil (or other vegetable oil)
- 2 lemons
- 3 eggs
- 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Generous pinch salt
- 4 tablespoons poppy seeds
- 2 lemons
- 1/2 cup raw sugar
- Turn the oven on to 180°C to pre-heat.
- Add the flour, sugar, eggs, salt, vanilla, lemon zest, yoghurt and oil to your food processor bowl.
- Juice the zested lemons, and add 1/2 cup lemon juice to the food processor bowl.
- Mix until the cake batter is combined.
- Add the poppy seeds to the food processor bowl and pulse until mixed into the cake batter.
- Grease a cake tin.
- Pour the cake mix into your greased cake tin, and set a timer for 45 minutes (you may need to adjust the cooking time depending on your oven and cake tin size).
- To make the syrup zest 2 lemons to produce long strips of zest. Add to a saucepan.
- Juice the lemon, to create 1/4 cup lemon juice, add 1/4 cup of water and add to the saucepan.
- Add 1/2 cup of sugar to the lemon zest and juice mix.
- Cook the syrup mixture over a medium heat until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture comes to the boil.
- Take the syrup off the heat and set aside to cool.
- Once the cake is cooked, remove from the tin and pour over the syrup while the cake is still hot.
- Serve warm or once cooled. Enjoy.
What is your favourite healthy(ish) cake recipe? Has this post inspired any new ideas?
This is a recipe that I have that was scribbled on a piece of paper many years ago. I’m not sure who the original author is or where it came from, but I have adapted and modified the original to come up with the below details.
I love dried apricots, and this slice showcases them beautifully. I also added dates to give a sticky depth of flavour (an idea borrowed from sticky date pudding). The bi-carb soda encourages the dried fruits to re-hydrate and break down, helping to enhance the texture. I used pecans, but you could use walnuts, almonds, your favourite nut or if you are someone with nut allergies go without (the nuts do provide a contrast however). If you are gluten free you could use gluten free flour and substitute rolled quinoa flakes for the oats.
What I was cooking this time last year: Raspberry & Wattle Seed Muffins
Apricot and Date Slice
- 1 ¼ cups of plain flour
- ½ cup rolled oats
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- 125g butter
- 2 eggs
- ¼ cup golden syrup
- ¼ cup sugar
- ½ cup chopped pecans
- ½ cup chopped dried apricots
- ¼ cup chopped dried dates
- 1 teaspoon bi-carb soda
- ¾ cup boiling water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon plain flour
- Turn the oven on to 180°C.
- Add the chopped dried apricots, chopped dried dates and bi-carb soda to a bowl.
- Pour boiling water over the dried fruits and set aside to soak, stirring occasionally.
- To make the base, add the flour, oats, sugar and butter to your food processor bowl and blitz until combined (or rub the butter into the rest of the ingredients if mixing by hand).
- Press the base mixture into a greased and lined tin.
- Cook in the oven for 20 minutes.
- Add the eggs, golden syrup, sugar, pecans, vanilla and flour to the soaked dried fruit and stir to combine.
- Pour the filling mixture on top of the cooked base and return to the oven for a further 20 – 30 minutes, or until the middle of the filling no longer wobbles when you give the tray a gentle shake.
- Remove the slice from the oven and allow to cool.
- Cut into serving size pieces. Enjoy.
What is your favourite way to use dried fruits? Has this post inspired any new ideas?
One of my favourite things in the world is chocolate cake. I also had an over-supply of jam recently, and decided to experiment by including jam in my chocolate cake. I used blackberry jam, but you can of course use what ever jam you prefer. I started with a Nigella old-fashioned chocolate cake recipe, and replaced half the sugar with jam. I liked the result, but the jam in the cake mixture was still quite subtle, so, next time, I will replace all the sugar with jam (and do away with the need to add milk). The dollop of jam hiding inside is a nice surprise when you bite into the cupcakes.
For the icing I used dark chocolate, and to help it match the sweetness of the cake, I added condensed milk. Condensed milk in a tube is a wonderful thing, you can add a squeeze instead of vanilla and icing sugar when whipping up some chantilly cream.
What I was cooking this time last year: Fried Saganaki Cheese with Salsa
Chocolate blackberry cupcakes
* This recipe’s base ingredients were inspired by a Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake recipe that appears in Nigella Lawson’s cookbook, Feast. I have modified and adapted Nigella’s recipe to come up with the below reincarnation.
Makes 12 cupcakes.
- 200g self-raising flour
- 100g sugar
- 200g blackberry jam
- 50g cocoa powder
- 175g butter
- 2 eggs
- 1 vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 150g sour cream or yoghurt
- 50mls milk
- 100mls cream
- 200g dark chocolate
- 50mls condensed milk
- Heat oven to 180°C.
- Add the butter, sugar and vanilla to your food processor bowl and mix until light and fluffy.
- Add the eggs, milk, sour cream and 100g of the jam and mix until thoroughly combined.
- Add the cocoa powder and flour and mix until thoroughly combined.
- Place cup cake cases into your baking tray.
- Spoon mixture into the base of each cup cake case.
- Add a spoon of jam on top of the cake mixture in each cup cake case.
- Top the jam with another spoon of cake mixture.
- Bake the cupcakes for approximately 25 – 30 minutes, or until they spring back when lightly touched.
- To make the icing, add the chocolate, cream and condensed milk to a large bowl.
- Suspend the bowl over a saucepan of hot water and gently heat until the chocolate is melted and everything is combined.
- Cool the icing mixture in the fridge until firm.
- Whip the icing to make it light and fluffy.
- When the cupcakes are cooled, spread the tops with icing. Your cupcakes are ready to serve. Enjoy.
How do you like to eat your jam? Has this post inspired any new ideas?
Most muffin recipes are for sweet muffins, but you can of course make savoury muffins. I am going for a walk tomorrow to Barrenjoey Head and wanted to bake something to take to snack on. If you are a bit scared of baking, muffins are a great way to build your confidence. With muffins, the less mixing and work you do the better and it is simply a matter of measuring and mixing then baking.
Continuing with my Australian native spices experimentation, I used Ajydhyra or Bush Tomato in this recipe, which I tracked down at Herbie’s Spices. The akudjura gives the muffins a lovely roast tomato flavour. You can order Herbie’s Spices online, or they are stocked in many delis and gourmet food stores. I also used dried greek oregano, which is normally sold with the stems still intact – to separate the dried oregano leaves, you give the bunch a bit of a shake or a rub to separate the dried leaves.
What I was cooking this time last year: Watercress and Pomegranate Tabouli
Tomato and Cheese Muffins
* This recipe’s base ingredients were inspired by a Pear and Ginger Muffins recipe that appears in Nigella Lawson’s cookbook, Nigella Express. I have modified and adapted Nigella’s recipe to come up with the below reincarnation.
Makes 12 muffins.
- 300g self-raising flour
- A generous pinch of salt
- 80g pine nuts
- 1/2 tablespoon ground akudjura or bush tomato
- 1/2 tablespoon dried greek oregano
- 200g feta cheese
- 100g grated parmesan cheese
- 1 punnet cherry tomatoes
- 125mls natural low-fat natural yoghurt
- 125mls vegetable oil [I used rice bran oil but any neutral tasting oil is fine]
- 2 large eggs
- 1 small red onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 teaspoon oil
- Cooking oil spray
- Peel, quarter and finely slice the onion.
- Crush the garlic cloves.
- Heat the teaspoon of oil in a small saucepan. Add the onion and garlic and cook until the onions are soft and just starting to brown, stirring occasionally.
- Set the onions and garlic aside to cool.
- Heat oven to 200°C.
- Line a cupcake / muffin pan with muffin cases. Spray the cases lightly with cooking oil spray.
- Measure the flour, salt, akudjura, dried oregano, pine nuts and grated parmesan into a bowl.
- Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and add to the bowl.
- Crumble the feta and add to the bowl.
- Add the cooled onion mixture to the bowl.
- Stir the ingredients in the bowl until everything is well combined and coated in flour.
- Measure the oil and yoghurt into a jug.
- Add the eggs to the oil and yoghurt and stir to combine.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined – the less mixing you do the better.
- Add spoonfuls of the mixture to the muffin cases.
- Place muffins in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until the muffins spring back when touched in the middle.
- Remove muffins from the oven and either eat warm or when they have cooled. Enjoy.
What is your favourite baking recipe? Has this post inspired any new ideas?
Anzac day is recognised on the 25th of April in Australia and New Zealand. Anzac stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, and marks one of the defining moments in the forming of Australia’s national identity. A recipe that is associated with this day of remembrance is the Anzac biscuit. Anzac biscuits are traditionally made from rolled oats, flour, desiccated coconut, sugar, butter, golden syrup and baking soda. It is claimed they gained popularity because the biscuits would last the time and distance it took for them to travel from kitchens in Australia and New Zealand to loved ones dispatched far from home.
I played with the traditional recipe and used condensed milk instead of sugar and golden syrup. If you want to stick to the traditional recipe, follow the details below but leave out the chocolate chips, and replace the condensed milk with 1 cup of sugar and 1 dessert spoon of golden syrup. Even though my recipe uses condensed milk the end result was not an overly sweet biscuit, the condensed milk having less sugar than the sugar and golden syrup that would have normally been used. I added chocolate chips, purely because I love chocolate chip biscuits. If you want chewy biscuits, leave the mixture in heaped spoonfuls on your baking tray. If you prefer a crispy biscuit, flatten out your spoonfuls of biscuit mixture.
Chocolate chip oat biscuits
- 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
- 1 cup plain flour
- 1 cup desiccated coconut
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 egg
- 100g butter
- 1 x 395g tin condensed milk
- 200g dark chocolate
- Preheat the oven to 180°C, grease 4 baking trays with a generous coating of butter or oil (or use non-stick baking trays).
- Measure out the oats, flour, coconut and baking soda into a bowl.
- Chop the dark chocolate into the size you would like your chocolate chips to be (chunky or finely chopped – it’s up to you) and add to the bowl.
- Add the butter to a saucepan and gently heat until just melted.
- Add the melted butter, egg and condensed milk to the dry ingredients in the bowl.
- Stir to combine.
- Place tablespoonfuls of your biscuit mixture onto your baking trays (I spaced 6 biscuits per tray).
- Bake your biscuits in the oven for approximately 20 minutes, or until golden brown (you may need to do this in batches depending on how much room there is in your oven).
- Remove cooked biscuits from the oven and allow to cool for 5 to 10 minutes on the baking trays. You can sample one or two biscuits now for quality control purposes.
- Transfer the biscuits to a wire rack and allow to totally cool. Your biscuits are ready to serve or store in an air-tight container. Enjoy.
What is your favourite biscuit? Has this post inspired any new ideas?