Giant Cookie Cake

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For my birthday this year, I decided to bake something a little different. As much as I have enjoyed making (and eating!) my layered drip cakes (here and here) over the last couple of years, this year I was after something simpler. Enter the cookie cake.

I have admired the brightly coloured array of delicious looking cookie cakes on Sally’s Baking Addiction (my baking porn website of choice) for years, and finally got around to making it. Boy, am I glad I did! As promised, this ‘cake’ is so quick and simple to make and produces a deliciously chewy and flavoursome giant cookie. The recipe is also very easy to adapt – you could use M&Ms, or mix up the choc chips depending on your taste.

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Ingredients (serves 12-14)
170g softened butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg + an extra yolk
5 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons cornflour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1½ cups chocolate chips (I used dark chocolate)
Chocolate frosting for topping (optional)

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Method
Preheat your oven to 180°C. Spray a 23cm (9-inch) pie dish or cake pan thoroughly with nonstick spray.

In a large bowl, beat the butter for 1-2 minutes until light and creamy. Add the brown sugar and beat for about a minute or until combined. Mix in the egg, egg yolk and vanilla on until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as required.

In a separate bowl, combine the flours and baking powder. On a low speed, gradually mix into the wet ingredients until combined. Add in 1¼ cups chocolate chips and mix for until evenly dispersed.

Gently press the cookie dough evenly into the prepared pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the cake is lightly golden brown (use a skewer in the centre to check it’s cooked). Remove from the oven and set the pan on a wire rack to cool completely.

Once cooled, use a sharp knife or metal spatula to loosen the sides of the cookie cake from the pan and transfer to a cake stand or serving plate.

Decorate as desired (I made a quick chocolate buttercream using butter, icing sugar and cocoa powder and piped it on using my Wilton 1M tip), top with the remaining chocolate chips and serve with vanilla ice-cream. Enjoy!

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Recipe adapted from ‘Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake’ on Sally’s Baking Addiction.

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Silky Chocolate Mousse

This is one of my favourite desserts because it takes so little effort and you can make it well ahead of time – the perfect set and forget dinner party dessert. I like a hint of Bailey’s Irish Cream in my mousse, but this can be omitted if you’re serving it to children or swapped for any other liqueur of your choice – creme de menthe for a choc-mint or Cointreau for a choc-orange mousse would both work well.

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Ingredients (serves 8)
300g good quality dark chocolate
50g butter
3 eggs, separated
1-2 tblspns Bailey’s Irish Cream (optional)
¼ cup caster sugar
300ml thickened cream

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Method
Melt butter and chocolate in a small saucepan over a low heat until smooth. Remove from heat.

Stir in egg yolks, one a a time, and Bailey’s liqueur. Transfer to a large bowl and leave to cool.

Beat egg whites in a medium bowl until soft peaks form. Add sugar, one tablespoon at a time, beating until it dissolves between additions.

Beat cream until thoroughly whipped and thick. Gently combine with the chocolate mixture and then fold in the egg white mixture in two batches, taking care not to over-mix the mousse.

Divide mousse among eight ½-cup serving dishes (I use glasses). Cover with clingfilm and refrigerate until set (at least 2 hours).

Serve with fresh raspberries. Enjoy!

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Recipe adapted from The Australian Women’s Weekly Best Food Desserts.

Chocolate & Mint Drip Cake

I made this cake for a combined Birthday/Bon Voyage dinner last weekend. I love the combination of chocolate and mint and am always keen to try out large layer cakes when cooking for a crowd.

Keep pieces small to ensure it’s not overly rich – maybe try out this technique from the genius Katherine Sabbath!

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Ingredients (serves 16-18)
Chocolate Layer Cake
2 boxes Betty Crocker moist devil’s food cake

Mint Buttercream Frosting
200g butter, softened
½ cup milk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
8 cups icing sugar
2-3 drops peppermint oil (or to taste)
a few drops of green food colouring

Dark Chocolate Ganache
170g dark chocolate melts
¾ cup cream
1 ½ teaspoons corn syrup

Toppings
2 x Flake bars
3 x Peppermint Crisp bars
3 x double Aero bars
1 x packet Darrell Lea BB’s chocolate mint balls
1 x packet dark Maltesers

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Method
Make 4 cakes, according to packet instructions, by halving the batter from each cake mix and baking in 20cm cake tins. Carefully trim cooked cakes where necessary to ensure they are perfectly flat, and use the best 3 (freeze the 4th for another time).

To make the frosting, cream the butter for 1-2 minutes. Add the milk, vanilla extract and half of the icing sugar and beat for at least 3 minutes or until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the remaining icing sugar along with the peppermint oil and food colouring and beat for a further 3 minutes or until light and fluffy.

Attach your base cake to a cake board or serving tray by using a small amount of frosting as glue. Spread a layer of frosting onto the top of the cake and then top with the next cake layer. Repeat.

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Spread frosting onto the top and sides of the cake – don’t worry if you get crumbs in it, this is called the crumb coat. Using a spatula or protractor (as I did!), scrape off excess frosting so you have a thin smooth layer. Refrigerate cake for 30 minutes or until frosting is firm.

Add a second layer of frosting onto the top and sides of cake, again scraping off the excess and creating a smooth finish.

Place chocolate melts into medium bowl and set aside. Heat cream in a saucepan over medium-high heat just until it almost starts to simmer. Remove from heat and pour over chocolate. Let sit for about 5 minutes and then stir with a wooden spoon until chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Stir in corn syrup. Allow to cool until slightly thickened.

Use a spoon to add a few purposeful drips over the top edge of the cake. Then spoon more ganache on top of the cake, allowing it to drip at varying points around the cake.

Top cake with Flake pieces, peppermint crisp shards, Aero pieces, Maltesers and bb’s. Alternate Maltesers and bb’s and make a ring around the base of the cake.

Serve by cutting into small pieces. Enjoy!

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Profiteroles with Vanilla Crème Pâtissière and Chocolate Sauce

Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers out there! Today I celebrated with one side of my family for a delicious brunch and then had dinner with the other side of the family, and I served these profiteroles for dessert.

Choux pastry has a nasty reputation as being very difficult to make, but Mum has been making this recipe for over 20 years and it has never failed for her. I was surprised by how easy it was to make and using this simple base recipe you can make profiteroles, eclairs or Paris-Brest. If you’re pressed for time you could easily swap the crème pâtissière for sweetened whipped cream, or for a different flavour, you could add a liquor such as Bailey’s Irish cream or Grand Marnier to the filling (although to me, nothing beats a homemade vanilla crème pat). The chocolate sauce could also be changed to berry, lemon, or caramel, or you could dip the profiteroles in toffee à la croquembouche. Basically, the options are endless!

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Choux Pastry (makes ~35 profiteroles or 20 eclairs)
1 cup water
60g butter
120g plain flour, sifted
4 eggs
1 extra egg yolk mixed with 1 tablespoon cold water

Crème Pâtissière
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
140g white sugar
Seeds from 1 vanilla bean
2 heaped dessertspoons flour
2 heaped dessertspoons cornflour
500ml milk
70g butter

Chocolate Sauce
300g dark chocolate melts
400ml pouring cream

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Line 2 large baking trays with baking paper and add a 1cm nozzle to a piping bag. Preheat oven to 205°C.

In a medium saucepan, bring water and butter to the boil. Lower the heat and add the flour all at once, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon until the mixture forms a smooth, sticky mass. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 3 minutes.

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Stirring with a wooden spoon, add eggs one at a time, ensuring your mixture is smooth and fully combined.

Fill a piping bag with the mixture and pipe mounds of pastry about 2cm in diameter, 2cm apart. Sprinkle lightly with water (the humidity helps the pastry rise) and then bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Turn down the temperature to 150°C and cook for a further 20 minutes. Turn off the oven and leave to dry in the oven for approximately an hour.

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The odd misshapen profiterole is inevitable!

To make the crème pâtissière, mix together the eggs, yolks, sugar and flours. Bring the milk to the boil. Carefully pour it into the egg mixture, whisking well together. Add in the vanilla bean.

Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over a low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. After a time, the mixture will thicken quickly – make sure you keep stirring so the mixture on the bottom of the pan doesn’t burn. Beat in the butter a little at a time.

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Pour into a bowl, top with cling film and allow to cool.

Once profiteroles and crème pâtissière are fully cool, cut almost in half and fill with crème pâtissière.

Just before serving, make the chocolate sauce by combining the chocolate and cream in a medium saucepan and stirring on a low heat until melted and smooth. Add more cream or chocolate as required until desired consistency is reached.

Serve profiteroles drizzled with chocolate sauce and berries. Enjoy!

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Phew, 10 servings with 4 profiteroles each is quite exhausting!

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Choux pastry recipe adapted from Gabriel Gaté’s ‘Sweet Treats’ (1995).
Crème pâtissière recipe adapted from Vogue’s ‘Grand Finales’ (1988).

Christmas Ice Cream Pudding

As an Aussie, Christmas day is often stinking hot and the last thing you feel like is eating a hot, rich traditional pudding at the conclusion of your meal. Enter my cheat’s ice-cream pudding!

This is more of a suggestion than a recipe (as you can adapt it entirely to suit you), but this combination is always a hit with my family, with the bonus of looking like a traditional pudding once complete.

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 Ingredients (serves 10)
2 litres good quality chocolate ice-cream
⅔ packet mini marshmallows
½  packet Maltesers
½ a packet lolly raspberries, chopped
2 large Mars Bars, chopped
50g white chocolate, melted (to decorate)
1 lolly raspberry (to decorate)
2 spearmint leaves (to decorate)

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Method
Soften ice-cream at room temperature until it is a workable consistency. Meanwhile, line a  large, deep glass bowl with clingfilm. Spray the clingfilm with cooking oil.

Once ice-cream is softened, transfer half to a large bowl. Add in half of your lollies and mix until evenly distributed. Repeat with the remaining ice-cream in its container. Transfer all ice-cream into your prepared bowl. Smooth the “top” with a spatula. Freeze until set.

To turn the pudding out, sit the bottom of the bowl in a sink filled with a few centimetres of warm water, and run a knife around the edge of the bowl as required. Once it is loosened (you may need to repeat a few times), it should slide out easily onto your desired serving plate. Peel off the clingfilm.

To decorate, spoon melted white chocolate on top to look like custard and top with the raspberry lolly and spearmint leaves.  Enjoy!

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Santa Cupcakes

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

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…so what better way to celebrate the start of the festive season than with these gorgeous Santa cupcakes? The cakes taste like a cross between chocolate and gingerbread and look like they take a lot of time and skill, but are really very easy – perfect to take to a Christmas function or to share with your family and friends.

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Ingredients (makes 12)
Christmas Spice Cupcakes
150g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon bicarb soda
1 teaspoon ground mixed spice
100g butter, softened
160g brown sugar
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons sour cream
125ml boiling water
75g dark chocolate
1 teaspoon instant coffee

Decorations
Raspberry jam
Red fondant icing
Black fondant icing
Yellow fondant icing

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Method

Preheat the oven to 180ºC fan-forced. Line a 12-hole muffin pan with patty pans.

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, bicarb and mixed spice. In another bowl, cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each, and then beat in a third of the flour mixture followed by a tablespoon of the sour cream, repeating until all used.

Put the water, chocolate and instant coffee in a pan and heat gently until the chocolate melts. Fold this into the cake batter, being careful not to over beat.

Pour the batter into the patty pans and put in the oven for about 20-25 minutes, until each cake is cooked through but still dense and damp.

While the cakes are cooking, cut 12 circles out of red fondant approximately the size of the cupcakes (I used the rim of a glass as my cutter). To make Santa’s belt, cut rectangles out of the black fondant with a sharp knife, ensuring each is long enough to span the width of the middle of the circles. To make the belt buckle, cut a small rectangle out of yellow fondant, then cut a smaller rectangle out from within it leaving the belt frame. If desired, cut a small piece of fondant to make the belt “prong”.

Let cakes cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then place on a wire rack until completely cold.

Heat the jam in the microwave (mix with water if still thick) and use it as glue to stick the fondant circles to the tops of the cakes. Again using the jam as glue (sparingly), stick down the belts and buckles to the centre of the circles. Enjoy!

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Cake recipe from Nigella’s ‘How to Be a Domestic Goddess’ cookbook. Design idea from Pinterest.

5 Minute Chocolate & Peanut Butter Fudge

This fudge is so easy it almost doesn’t qualify as a recipe. 5 ingredients. 5 steps. 5 minutes. Good as gold!

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Ingredients (makes ~30 pieces)
¾ cup good quality peanut butter (smooth or crunchy will work)
225g white chocolate
225g dark chocolate
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch sea salt

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Method
Line a 12 x 22cm loaf pan with baking paper.

Melt dark and white chocolate in separate bowls in the microwave.

Combine half of the peanut butter with the white chocolate and stir until smooth. Add in vanilla extract and sea salt to taste. Combine the remaining peanut butter with the dark chocolate. Allow both mixtures to cool slightly.

Drop alternate spoonfuls of white and dark chocolate mixtures into the pan and shake to level the mixture. To get the swirly marbled effect, pull a skewer through the mixture.

Refrigerate until set. Cut into squares. Enjoy!

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Adapted from ‘Easy Peanut Butter Fudge’ from Cadbury Kitchen.

 

Peanut Butter, Caramel & Chocolate Drip Cake

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This cake is highly over-the-top, but highly delicious. 3 layers of rich dark chocolate cake slathered in salted caramel sauce and peanut butter frosting, draped in chocolate ganache and topped with all things good: honeycomb, caramel macarons, peanut brittle, maltesers, snickers pods, jersey caramels and caramel popcorn.

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Ingredients (serves 16)
Chocolate Layer Cake
2 boxes dark chocolate cake ( I used Betty Crocker moist devil’s food cake)

Salted Caramel Filling 

Peanut Butter Frosting
1 ½ cups smooth peanut butter
375g butter, softened
6 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 cups icing sugar
3 tablespoons milk

Dark Chocolate Ganache
170g dark chocolate melts
¾ cup cream
1 ½ teaspoons corn syrup

Toppings
1 x packet Snickers pods
1 x packet caramel popcorn
1 x packet jersey caramels (halved diagonally)
1 x packet peanut brittle
1 x packet Maltesers
Salted caramel macarons (optional)
Honeycomb

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Method
Make 4 cakes, according to packet instructions, by halving the batter from each cake mix. Carefully trim cooked cakes where necessary to ensure they are perfectly flat, and use the best 3 (freeze the 4th for another time, or add a 4th layer if you really want to impress).

To make the frosting, beat peanut butter and butter until smooth. Add vanilla and slowly add the icing sugar. Add the milk and beat until just combined.

Spread a generous layer of frosting onto the bottom cake layer, and then top with caramel filling. Repeat with the remaining layer/s.

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Spread frosting onto the top and sides of the cake – don’t worry if you get crumbs in it, this is called the crumb coat. Using a spatula or protractor (as I did!), scrape off excess frosting so you have a thin smooth layer.

Refrigerate cake for 30 minutes or until frosting is firm. Add a second layer of frosting onto the top and sides of cake, using the protractor again to scrape off the excess and create a smooth finish. Refrigerate for a further 30 minutes.

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Place chocolate melts into medium bowl and set aside. Heat cream in a saucepan over medium-high heat just until it almost starts to simmer. Remove from heat and pour over chocolate. Let sit for about 5 minutes and then stir with a wooden spoon until chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Stir in corn syrup.

Use a spoon to add a few purposeful drips over the top edge of the cake. Then spoon more ganache on top of the cake, allowing it to drip at varying points around the cake.

Top cake with honeycomb, caramel popcorn, maltesers, jersey caramels, pods and macarons. Enjoy!

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2 Minute Nutella Mug Cake

You know when it’s 9pm in the middle of winter and you have a hankering for something sweet? You don’t feel like going to much effort but something comforting and warm and chocolate-y would really hit the spot? Well, have I got a recipe for you!

This mug cake is deliciously warm and chocolate-y with a heavenly layer of oozy Nutella goodness in the middle and, as a bonus, is gluten free. It also doesn’t have that springy, rubbery texture you often get in mug cakes because of the almond meal. The real clincher for me though, is that it only takes about a minute to throw together and then a further minute to cook in the microwave. Washing up is also minimal – hallelujah! Need more convincing? See below:

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Ingredients (serves 1)
¼ cup almond meal (hazelnut would also work well)
2 tablespoons Dutch cocoa powder
2 tablespoons caster sugar
1 ½ tablespoons coconut oil, at room temperature
1 egg
1 tablespoon milk
2 tablespoons Nutella
Icing sugar, to dust
Vanilla ice cream, to serve

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Method
Combine almond meal, cocoa powder and caster sugar in a medium bowl. Add coconut oil, egg, milk and one tablespoon of the Nutella, and stir until smooth.

Spoon ¾ of the mixture into a 310ml capacity microwave safe mug. Spoon remaining tablespoon of Nutella into the centre, then cover with the remaining mixture.

Microwave on high for 1 minute (this is for a 1000 watt microwave, adjust as necessary).

Serve dusted with icing sugar and topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Enjoy!

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Adapted from a Sunbeam recipe on taste.com.au

Chocolate Fudge Brownies

These chewy, fudgy chocolate brownies, created by the domestic goddess Nigella herself, are my reliable go-to goodies when asked to bring a plate for morning or afternoon teas. They are best eaten on the day made (which often means I get up early on the day to make them) and are ridiculously good warmed with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream.

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Ingredients (makes 16 large brownies)
200g good-quality dark chocolate
250g salted butter
1¾ cups brown sugar
4 eggs
⅓ cup cocoa
1¼ cups plain flour
¼ teaspoon baking powder

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Method
Preheat oven to 160°C fan-forced. Line a 20cm x 30cm rectangular tin with baking paper.

Melt chocolate and butter in the microwave (or on the stovetop) and stir until smooth. Allow to cool slightly.

Place sugar, eggs, cocoa, flour and baking powder in a large bowl. Pour in chocolate mixture and mix until combined.

Pour into prepared tin and bake for 35-45 minutes or until set on top (but should still be gooey in the middle). Leave to cool slightly in tin.

Cut into 16 evenly sizes pieces. Enjoy!

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Recipe adapted from Nigella Lawson.

NB: Can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days, but in my opinion, the fresher the better.