Tag Archives: Dessert

Christmas treats

In Sydney, Christmas falls in the middle of summer; this also happens to be when cherries are at their best. My recipe this week uses dried cherries, which I managed to track down at a local health food store, and pistachios, for their green christmasy colour. This recipe makes  a lot of fudge, so it is perfect for sharing and / or giving as home-made gifts to friends and family. I ended up making a double batch so that I would have plenty to go around. I wrapped squares of fudge in clear cello gift wrap then placed them in gift bags and boxes as presents.

With the salt quantity specified below, this is specifically for salt flakes, if you are using regular table salt proceed with caution and only use 1/4 of a teaspoon or less.

What I was cooking this time last year: Raspberry, Goat Cheese and Pistachio Salad

Chocolate Fudge with Cherries and Pistachios

Ingredients:

  • 75g butter
  • 395g tin condensed milk
  • 250g brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt flakes
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 220g dark chocolate
  • 100g pistachios
  • 125g dried cherries
  • Cooking oil spray to grease your tin

Method

  • Pre-heat the oven on to 180°C.
  • Transfer the pistachios to an oven proof dish and roast in the oven for 10 minutes, then set aside to cool.

Pistachios shelled green nuts

  • Line a tray with grease-proof paper and spray with cooking oil.
  • Add the butter, condensed milk, vanilla, salt and brown sugar to a saucepan.

Fudge ingredients

 

  • Stir the saucepan of fudge mixture over a medium heat until the butter is melted and the fudge starts to thicken.
  • Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the chocolate. Stir to combine.

Chocolate caramel fudge

  • Add the cherries and pistachios to the chocolate fudge and stir to combine.
  • Pour the fudge into the lined tray and refrigerate until cool.

Chocolate cherry pistachio fudge

  • Remove the fudge from the tray and peel off the grease-proof paper.
  • Cut the fudge into serving size pieces. Your fudge is ready to serve or wrap for gifts. Enjoy.

Chocolate cherry pistachio fudge

What are your favourite christmas flavours? Has this post inspired any new ideas?

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Filed under Berries, Caramel, Chocolate, Dried Fruit, Nuts, Pistachio, Recipes, Sweet, Vegetarian

Retro

Some of the first recipes I learnt to perfect were from my mum’s Australian Women’s Weekly recipe card collection. It seems many Aussies have a soft spot for the Australian Women’s Weekly recipe card collection, and many of the recipes have stood the test of time. This caramel slice is always popular.

Caramel slice

To create a gluten free version of the slice and ensure none of my guests had to miss out, I used a biscuit crumb base instead of the details prescribed in the original recipe. I blitzed a 200g packet of gluten free biscuits with 100g of softened butter in a food processor, pressed this into the bottom of the lined baking tray and put in the fridge to chill before adding the caramel and chocolate layers.

In Australia, condensed milk currently comes in 400ml cans, I’ve included the 440ml can below as specified in the original recipe, but when I make the slice I just use the readily available 400ml can. Following the current trend for salted caramel, I added a generous pinch of salt to my caramel as it was cooking. The coconut specified refers to desiccated coconut. I also added extra chocolate, increasing to 200g of dark chocolate and 2 tablespoons of cooking oil instead of vegetable shortening for the topping. If you are using cooking oil, I recommend you select a neutral flavoured oil, I used rice bran oil. If you feel so inclined, you could scatter crumbled salt fakes over the top of the chocolate topping as extra decoration.

I recommend you bring your finished slice to room temperature before slicing if you have refrigerated it, otherwise the chocolate topping will be prone to cracking as you chop. The slice is quite rich, I suggest you cut into dainty portions – you can always go back for seconds or thirds if you still have room.

Australian Women's Weekly Recipe Card Collection

What I was cooking this time last year: Choc Malt Brownies

Carmel Chocolate Slice

* This recipe is the original Caramel Chocolate Slice recipe published by The Australian Women’s Weekly recipe cards.

Biscuit Base

  • 125g butter
  • 1 cup coconut
  • 1 cup self-raising flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed

Biscuit Base

  • Sift flour into bowl, add sugar and coconut, stir until combined.
  • Melt butter in pan, add to dry ingredients; mix well.
  • Press into greased 28cm x 18cm (11 in x 7 in) lamington tin.
  • Bake in moderate oven 10 minutes.
  • Remove from oven, spread with prepared Caramel.
  • Return to oven for further 10 minutes.
  • When cold, spread with Topping.
  • Cut into squares when set.

Caramel

  • 440g (14 oz) can condensed milk
  • 2 tablespoons golden syrup
  • 30g (1 oz) butter

Caramel ingredients

  • Place all ingredients into saucepan, stir over low heat until caramel has thickened, bringing slowly to boil, remove from heat.

Topping

  • Place 125g (4 oz) chopped dark chocolate and 30g (1 oz) solid white vegetable shortening in saucepan over hot water, stir until melted.

Chocolate topping

What is your favourite retro recipe? Has this post inspired any new (or old) ideas?

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Filed under Baking, Biscuits, Caramel, Chocolate, Coconut, Pudding, Recipes, Sweet, Vegetarian

From my bookshelf – Family Food: A new approach to cooking

By the time you read this, I will be on my way to the international airport, bound for a Cuban holiday. I am hoping to discover some new dishes and ingredients as part of my trip, and come back inspired to create some new recipes to share with you all. I have set up posts to publish while I am away, so as long as technology doesn’t fail me, you should still receive your weekly Passionfruit Project fix.

This week’s post is dedicated to a review of the book ” Family Food: A new approach to cooking”, by Heston Blumenthal. This is the first recipe book Heston published, before he shot to prominence with his celebrity-chef television career and around the time The Fat Duck restaurant in Bray started to win awards.

I was lucky enough to have lunch at The Fat Duck many years ago now, and it still ranks as one of my best foodie experiences, along with dinner at Tetsuya’s. Heston is known for his unique approach to cooking, quite often combining scientific principles in his cooking methods. This book is removed from the high tech principles Heston has become famous for, and instead focuses on classic, simple cooking suitable for the whole family, young and old alike. It talks a lot about how to get children involved in cooking and interested in food, but it is also a handy reference for anyone wanting to brush up on their cooking techniques, fill in any gaps, find some new inspiration or rediscover a classic dish. In this book Heston’s passion for food shines through, and he covers a full spectrum of dishes, from how to fry the perfect egg to strawberry soup.

A quote to give you a flavour of the book, “One of the main ambitions of this book is to bring children into the kitchen, and one of the best ways to do this is to make cooking as approachable as possible” from the Children’s tip in the section “Risotto”. The below recipe is quite labour and time intensive, and combines some unusual ingredients, but there are also plenty of more traditional recipes if you aren’t feeling like experimenting. I will confess, I haven’t actually attempted the below recipe, or tried the strawberry and black pepper combo that many chefs seem to be a fan of. I included the details to give you a sense of the book.

What I was cooking this time last year: Mini smoked salmon and cream cheese bagels (please note, Glick’s has moved)

Family Food book Heston Blumenthal

Strawberry Soup

* This recipe is from the chapter “Desserts” by Heston Blumenthal  in “Family Food: A new approach to cooking”.

“This recipe is part of a dish that is on the menu at the Fat Duck in season. Do give it a try, but please do it in the strawberry season. As well as quality, there is something quite magical about eating this during the English summer. Make sure that you buy the fruit no more than a day in advance, as they deteriorate really quickly.

* Children’s tip
Show the children how to spot a good strawberry – bright red in colour with a vivid green stem. Check that there are no blemishes or bruises on the strawberries. Contrary to popular belief, large, uniform strawberries are not a sign of quality. More often than not they are a result of laboratory-controlled agriculture.

If orange-flower water is not available, use rose water, which most chemists sell. Both of these ingredients are optional. You might want to omit the flower water the first time that you make this, as it could be too perfumed for your kids. Although, having said that, orange-flower water is still used to make a soothing sugared child’s drink in many parts of Europe. In Spain, it is also put on children’s pillows to give a comforting night-time aroma.

This recipe may seem rather lengthy, but the results will not disappoint. The concentration of flavour is amazing.

The strawberry juice can be omitted, although it is great as a base for making drinks or for pouring over ice-cream. It can even be added to the rice pudding recipe on page 305. It does keep very well.

* Tip
Even if you are a bit short of time and cannot do this recipe, you will be surprised at how much the flavour of the strawberries can be heightened just by sprinkling some unrefined caster sugar over them half an hour before serving. If you have not read it already, have a quick read of the findings of a recent experiment regarding strawberries on page 71.

Remember, when preparing strawberries, to hull them just before you macerate or use them. Do not wash them before hulling, or they will absorb water, destroying their taste and texture.

Try this recipe replacing the strawberries with rhubarb – it works brilliantly.

If doing the whole recipe, including the juice begin the day before. Some muslin will also be needed.

For the strawberry juice

  • 500g strawberries
  • 1 tablespoon icing sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water

Wash, hull and quarter the strawberries, put them into a metal bowl and sprinkle them with the icing sugar. Set this bowl over a saucepan of very gently simmering water, cover with cling-film, and leave for 1 1/2 hours. Pour the contents of the bowl on to a large piece of muslin set over a bowl. Tie up the corners of the muslin and hang up over the bowl to catch all of the juice.

For the soup

  • 500g strawberries
  • 1 tablespoon unrefined caster sugar
  • strawberry juice (see above)
  • 1 orange
  • 1 lemon
  • 125ml fruity red wine
  • orange-flower water to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil

Hull and quarter the strawberries and put them into a bowl. Add the sugar and pour over the strawberry juice, leave this mix to macerate for 2 hours.

Zest the orange and lemon, taking care to discard all of the white pith which would make the liquid bitter. Juice the fruits and reserve.

Meanwhile, bring the red wine to the boil and immediately flame it with a match, or better still, a blowtorch. When the flames have cased, add the zest and juice of the orange and lemon and boil to reduce the mixture by half. Strain this liquid and set aside to cool.

In the liquidizer, combine the macerated strawberries with the red wine reduction and blend.

Finishing the dish is the fun part, as it involves the taste-buds. Add the orange-flower water, about 1 tablespoon to begin with. A little more sugar may be needed along with some orange juice, depending on the ripeness and quality of the strawberries. The important thing here is to keep on tasting to get the right balance. Give the soup a really good blend and finish off by adding the black pepper to taste.

Now there are the following options:

  1. Hang the soup in muslin again overnight. This will produce a wonderfully concentrated essence of strawberry.
  2. Pass the soup through a fine-mesh sieve.
  3. Serve it as it is, adding extra strawberries for texture if required.

To serve, dribble over a little best-quality virgin olive oil. Finally, if feeling adventurous, finish the dish by sprinkling over some freshly picked rose petals!”

Strawberry Soup recipe Family Food Heston Blumenthal

What is your favourite go-to cook book? Has this post inspired any new ideas?

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Filed under Berries, Book Review, Pudding, Recipes, Rhubarb, Soup, Strawberry, Sweet

Poppy Seed cake

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.

Lemon poppy seed

What I was cooking this time last year: Veggie Burgers

Lemon Poppy Seed Yoghurt Cake

Ingredients:

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

Lemon Syrup

  • 2 lemons
  • 1/2 cup raw sugar
  • Water

Method

  • 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.

DSC07542

  • Mix until the cake batter is combined.
  • Add the poppy seeds to the food processor bowl and pulse until mixed into the cake batter.

Poppy seed 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).

Poppy seed cake batter

  • To make the syrup zest 2 lemons to produce long strips of zest. Add to a saucepan.

Lemon zest strips

  • 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.

Lemon syrup

  • 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.

Lemon Poppy Seed Yoghurt Cake

What is your favourite healthy(ish) cake recipe? Has this post inspired any new ideas?

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

Zesty

One of my all time favourite flavours is lemon. When I was making the Australian Women’s Weekly classic, Caramel Chocolate Slice recently, I was inspired to try a citrusy version. This slice is my Lemon and White Chocolate Slice.

I like to use the zest and well as the juice of lemons to give an extra citrus boost when I am cooking. Cooking the lemon filling is more to cook out the egg yolks than to actually thicken the curd, the reaction between the lemon juice and condensed milk when mixing without any heat produces a thick filling. With the cooking oil you use, I recommend you select a neutral flavoured oil, I used rice bran oil.

I recommend you bring your finished slice to room temperature before slicing if you have refridgerated it, otherwise the chocolate topping will be prone to cracking as you chop (I learnt this the hard way, and the firm chocolate caused the lemon filling to ooze out a little). The slice is quite rich, you I recommend you cut into dainty portions – you can always go back for seconds or thirds if you still have room.

What I was cooking this time last year: Banoffee Pie

Lemon and White Chocolate Slide

* This recipe was adapted from a Caramel Chocolate Slice recipe by The Australian Women’s Weekly recipe cards. I have modified and adapted it to come up with the below reincarnation.

Ingredients:

Biscuit Base

  • 120g butter
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup plain flour
  • 1/2 cup self-raising flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed

Filling

  • 400g can condensed milk
  • 2 lemons
  • 2 egg yolks
  • Generous pinch of salt

Chocolate topping

  • 22og white chocolate
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil

Method

  • Turn the oven on to 180°C. to pre-heat.
  • Melt the butter in a saucepan over a low heat.
  • Add the oats, flours, brown sugar and melted butter to a food processor bowl. Mix the biscuit base mixture until combined.
  • Line a baking tray with grease-proof paper.
  • Tip the biscuit base mixture into the lined baking tray, and press out evenly over the base of the tray.

Biscuit base slice mixture

  • Cook the biscuit base in the oven for 10 minutes.
  • Remove the biscuit base from the oven and set aside to cool.
  • Add the condensed milk to the saucepan used to melt the butter.
  • Zest and juice the lemons and add to the condensed milk in the saucepan.
  • Add the 2 egg yolks and salt to the saucepan and mix everything to combine.

Lemon curd ingredients

  • Cook the lemon filling over a medium-low heat, stirring constantly until the mixture is hot. Continue cooking for a further two minutes to ensure the egg yolks are cooked.

DSC07486

  • Pour the hot lemon filling over the biscuit base, spread out to create an even layer. Set aside to cool.
  • Add the white chocolate and cooking oil to a large bowl.

White chocolate melting

  • Suspend the bowl over a saucepan of hot water and gently heat until the chocolate is melted and everything is combined.
  • Pour the white chocolate over the lemon filling layer, spread out to create an even layer. Set aside to cool.
  • Remove the lemon slice from the baking tray and cut into serving size pieces. Enjoy.

Lemon White Chocolate Slice

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

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

Protein punch

When I came across a recipe in the Sydney Morning Herald’s Good Food section that used a tin of red kidney beans to produce a gluten-free chocolate cake, to say I was dubious is an understatement. Curiosity got the better of me however, so I decided to give it a try. I shared my experiment with my family, because I knew I would be guaranteed an honest opinion – my brother is never one to hold back with his reaction. I doubled the original recipe and split the mix among three cake tins to create a triple layer cake The result was a success, a fudge cake that I smothered in dark chocolate icing with white chocolate cream between the layers. I didn’t tell everyone about my secret ingredient, and everyone was genuinely surprised when I revealed the details. A great way to sneak in extra protein for kids or vegetarians, and of course, a perfect recipe to cater for those that are gluten-free. Feel free to decorate.

Tip: make sure the cocoa powder is gluten-free if you are catering for those that are intolerant.

What I was cooking this time last year: Zucchini Fritters

Chocolate Fudge Cake

* The basic cake recipe ingredients list is taken from a recipe by Debbie Skelton that appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald’s Good Food section on 7 August 2013.

Ingredients:

Cake

  • 2 x 420g tins of red kidney beans, drained
  • 2 tablespoons espresso coffee
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla paste
  • 10 eggs, at room temperature
  • 250g softened butter, plus extra to grease your cake tins
  • 320g sugar
  • 140g cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt flakes
  • 2 teaspoons gluten free-baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

White Chocolate Cream

  • 100g white chocolate
  • 300mls cream
  • 1/2 tin condensed milk (approx 200mls)

Dark Chocolate Ganache Icing

  • 220g dark chocolate
  • 300mls cream
  • 1/2 tin condensed milk (approx 200mls)

Method:

Cake

  • Turn the oven on to 180°C.

DSC07372

  • In a food processor, purée the kidney beans, coffee, vanilla and two eggs until smooth.

Red kidney beans eggs

  • Add the butter and sugar and process until smooth.

Butter and sugar

  • Add the remaining eggs, two at a time, processing until smooth.
  • Add the cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt and process until smooth.
  • Cut grease-proof paper to size to fit the bottom of three cake tins.
  • Grease the three cake tins and line the bottoms with the grease-proof paper discs.
  • Divide the cake mixture between the three cake tins and smooth out to encourage them to cook evenly.

Chocolate cake batter

  • Cook in the oven for approximately 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.
  • Remove the cakes from the oven once cooked and allow to cool in their tins.

White Chocolate Cream

  • To make the white chocolate cream, add the white 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. Allow the chocolate ganache to chill completely in the fridge.
  • Once the white chocolate mixture has chilled, beat the cream until thick.

White chocolate cream

Chocolate Ganache Icing

  • To make the chocolate ganache icing, add the dark 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. Allow the chocolate ganache to cool to room temperature.

Assembly

  • To assemble, place one cake on your serving plate.
  • Top with half of the white chocolate cream, and spread the cream across the top of the cake.
  • Add the next cake on top of the white chocolate cream layer.
  • Add the remaining white chocolate cream, and spread the cream across the top of the cake.

Tripple layer chocolate cake cream

  • Add the final cake to the top of the second layer of cream.
  • Top the layered cake with dark chocolate ganache icing, and spread to cover the top and sides of the cake.

Chocolate cake assembly

  • Allow to chill in the fridge until ready to serve. Enjoy.

Chocolate mud cake

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

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

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

Ingredients:

  • 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

Method

  • 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.

DSC07353

  • 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