Raspberry & Vanilla Trifle

We’ve never really been a trifle family, and the few trifles I’d tried before this one were often disappointing – mushy and bland. We decided we wanted to serve a trifle as a dessert option on Christmas day and so, after a bit of experimenting, I developed this vanilla and raspberry trifle with torched meringue topping. I hope you enjoy as much as I do! For the time poor, I have put in some cheats to make it an easier job.

Start this recipe at least the day ahead.

Ingredients (serves 12-14)
2 packets raspberry jelly
1 cup frozen raspberries

Sponge cake
3 eggs, separated
1 cup caster sugar
½ cup cold water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup plain flour
1 tbsp cornflour

OR use 2 round unfilled sponge cakes (Woolworths brand do the job perfectly)

Vanilla custard
1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
1.2L full cream milk
8 egg yolks
4 tablespoons caster sugar
2 tablespoons cornflour

OR approximately 1 litre of pre-bought custard (I like Paul’s Double Thick French Vanilla 900g)

Meringue Topping
2 egg whites
⅔ cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 punnets of fresh raspberries, to serve

Method

Make the jelly according to packet instructions and pour into a 3L capacity trifle dish. Add frozen raspberries. Put in the fridge to set for at least 6 hours.

To make the sponge cakes, preheat oven to 160°C fan-forced. Grease two 20cm round, shallow tins and line the bases with baking paper.

Use electric beaters to beat the egg yolks, sugar, water, and vanilla for approximately 10 minutes, until very pale and thick. Wash the beaters and then, in a separate bowl, beat the egg whites and baking powder until stiff peaks form. Fold the sifted flours into the yolk mixture and then gently mix in the egg whites.

Divide evenly between the tins and bake for 20 minutes or until springy in the centre and the cake has come away from the sides of the tins. Gently turn cakes onto wire cooling racks and leave to cool entirely. Store in an airtight container until required.

To make the custard, add vanilla bean paste and milk to a large saucepan on a medium-low heat and bring to the boil. Immediately remove it from the heat and leave to cool slightly.

Meanwhile, in a very large mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar and cornflour until pale.

Gradually add the warm milk, a tablespoon full at a time, whisking well between each addition. Pour the mixture back into the pan and cook gently on a low heat, whisking continuously, for about 20 minutes or until very thick. Leave to cool at room temperature then refrigerate until required.

To assemble the trifle, cut the sponge cake into squares approximately 6cm x 6cm. Add a layer of sponge cake pieces over the set jelly like so:


Top with half of the custard mixture. Place half of the raspberries, evenly spaced, on top of the custard.

Repeat – add a further layer of sponge cake, the remaining custard and top with raspberries. Refrigerate until required.

Just before serving (or up to 3 hours ahead), make the meringue. Whip the eggwhites with electric beaters until they’re light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and a tablespoon of the sugar and beat until combined. Add the remaining sugar, a spoonful at a time, beating between each addition until the sugar has dissolved. Once all of the sugar has been added you should have glossy white, stiff peaks.

Spoon the meringue mixture onto the top. Use a kitchen blowtorch to lightly toast the meringue. Serve and enjoy!

Christmas Light Cookies

These cookies are so easy to make, but look amazing. They’re absolutely perfect as end of year gifts, served on Christmas day or left out for Santa.

Ingredients (makes approx. 50 large round cookies)
250g butter
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 egg
3 cups plain flour
3 teaspoons mixed spice
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

3 cups icing sugar
Boiling water
Mini M&Ms (cut in half)
Black edible marker

Method

Cream butter, sugar & vanilla using electric beaters until well combined. Add the egg and beat until light and fluffy.

Using a wooden spoon or silicone spatula, mix sifted dry ingredients into wet ingredients until a dough forms. Knead gently for 1-2 minutes on a lightly floured bench and then divide into 2 roughly equal pieces, cover with clingfilm and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 180°C (160 fan-forced). Roll out dough onto a lightly floured surface using a rolling pin until you reach your desired thickness (I like mine around 5-6mm) and cut out circles using a large round cookie cutter. Repeat until you have used all the dough.

Place onto a baking tray (they don’t have to be spread out much as they don’t really expand) and bake for approximately 12-15 minutes, or until lightly golden.

When the cookies are cooled, make your icing by adding boiling water gradually to the icing sugar until you have the desired consistency (thin enough to spread easily, but not so thin that it runs off the cookies).

Once the icing has dried, gently draw the string of the Christmas lights with the black marker. Add the halved M&Ms as the ‘lights’ alternating whether they hang from above or below the marker line. Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from ‘The Best Valentine Sugar Cookies’ on Alice & Lois.com
Decorations inspired by various versions on Pinterest

Melting Snowman Cookies

These lightly spiced Christmas cookies are almost too cute to eat (almost…. sorry Frosty!)

Ingredients (makes approx. 30 large round cookies)
250g butter
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 egg
3 cups plain flour
3 teaspoons mixed spice
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

3 cups icing sugar
Boiling water
30 white marshmallows
2 packets of mini M&Ms
Edible textas (black and orange)

Method

Cream butter, sugar & vanilla using electric beaters until well combined. Add the egg and beat until light and fluffy.

Using a wooden spoon or silicone spatula, mix sifted dry ingredients into wet ingredients until a dough forms. Knead gently for 1-2 minutes on a lightly floured bench and then divide into 2 roughly equal pieces, cover with clingfilm and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 180°C (160 fan-forced). Roll out dough onto a lightly floured surface using a rolling pin until you reach your desired thickness (I like mine around 5-6mm) and cut out circles using a large round cookie cutter. Repeat until you have used all the dough.

Place onto a baking tray (they don’t have to be spread out much as they don’t really expand) and bake for approximately 12-15 minutes, or until lightly golden.

When the cookies are cooled, make your icing by adding boiling water gradually to the icing sugar until you have the desired consistency (thin enough to spread easily, but not so thin that it runs off the cookies).

To decorate, spread icing onto the cookie so it looks like a puddle, attach the white marshmallow to the ‘back’ and 2 M&M buttons. When the icing has dried completely, gently draw on the arms and facial details (my snowmen are surprised, but you can add whatever expressions you like). Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from ‘The Best Valentine Sugar Cookies’ on Alice & Lois.com
Decorations inspired by various versions on Pinterest

Santa Hat Cupcakes

Christmas is just around the corner which means one thing…

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….Bailey is being forced into a whole range of ridiculous but adorable costumes :’)

It also means that our kitchen is filled with the delicious scent of Christmas baking – cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger are being added to just about everything!

These cupcakes are no exception with a rich Christmas spiced mocha flavour. I’ve topped them with a vibrant red buttercream and a white mini marshmallow to look like Santa hats, but decorate them however you like.

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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

Frosting
100g butter, softened
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups icing sugar
Wilton colouring gel in Red
12 white mini marshmallows

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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.

Leave to cool for 5 minutes in the tray before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Once cool, cut the domes off the cupcakes until you have a flat surface.

To make the frosting, cream the butter for 1-2 mins in a large bowl using an electric mixer. Add the milk, vanilla and half of the icing sugar and beat for at least 3 mins (until the mixture is light and fluffy). Add the remaining icing sugar and beat for a further 3 mins or until of a spreadable consistency. Add extra milk if too dry or extra icing sugar if too wet. Add colouring and beat in until combined and the desired colour has been achieved.

Spoon the frosting into a piping bag fitted with a large, plain nozzle. Pipe frosting onto the cakes in a circular motion from the outside in until it looks like a santa hat. Top with a white mini marshmallow.

Enjoy!

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Cake recipe from Nigella Lawson ‘How to be a Domestic Goddess’
Frosting recipe adapted from the ‘Crabapple Cupcake Bakery’ cookbook.

Festive Chocolate Ginger Nut Cookies

These cheat’s festive cookies are cheap and easy, but look a million bucks! Choose your favourite decoration option, or make some of each.

Option 1: Mini Christmas Puddings
1 packet Arnott’s Ginger Nut Biscuits
100g dark chocolate, melted
20g white chocolate, melted
Original M&Ms (red & green)
Mini M&Ms (red)

Spread the melted dark chocolate onto your biscuits and let harden. Using a butter knife, spread the melted white chocolate onto the top of your cookies to look like custard. Top with M&Ms.

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Option 2: Glitzy Gold
1 packet Arnott’s Ginger Nut Biscuits
100g dark chocolate, melted
Gold cachous
Gold sugar crystals

Spread the melted dark chocolate onto your biscuits and top with gold cachous and sugar crystals.thumb_img_2750_1024

Option 3: Strawberry, Pistachio & Almond
1 packet Arnott’s Ginger Nut Biscuits
100g dark chocolate, melted
Slivered almonds
1 tablespoon pistachios, finely chopped
Dried strawberries, finely chopped

Spread the melted dark chocolate onto your biscuits and top with dried strawberries, almonds and pistachios.
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Recipe adapted from Better Homes & Gardens Magazine, Christmas 2015

Stained Glass Christmas Cookies

These gorgeous stained glass cookies are as fun to make as they are to eat! You can use any shaped cutters you like and could even join the cookies together to make a stained glass cookie wreath.

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Ingredients (makes approximately 50 cookies)
½ cup butter
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 small egg
½ teaspoon water
1 ½ cups flour
¾ teaspoons baking powder

Hard/boiled lollies (I used Melbourne Rock Candy Bo Peep collection)
White chocolate, melted

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Method
Cream butter, sugar & vanilla using electric beaters until well combined. Add the egg and water and beat until light and fluffy.

Using a wooden spoon or silicone spatula, mix sifted dry ingredients into wet ingredients until a dough forms. Divide into 2 roughly equal pieces, cover with glad wrap (or plastic wrap) and refrigerate for an hour.

Line 3 large trays with baking paper.

Roll out dough using a rolling pin until it is approximately 1cm thick. Use assorted cutters to cut out shapes from the dough, and carefully place them on the lined trays (no need to leave room for spreading as they don’t). Then line up the smaller cutter of the shape in the centre of each, and cut out the centre dough.

Preheat oven to 190-200°C  (180°C fan-forced).

Divide the hard lollies into colours and blitz them, one colour at a time, in a blender until they are fine crystals. Using a teaspoon, carefully sprinkle the crystals into the empty centres of the cookies ensuring that the centre is fully covered. Brush away any crystals not in the centre as these will discolour the cookies.

Bake cookies for 8-12 minutes, until lightly golden. Leave to cool on the baking trays for 5 minutes, before gently transferring onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Once they are cool, decorate by piping melted white chocolate onto the cookies.

Enjoy!

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Sugar cookie recipe adapted from ‘Alice & Lois.com’ – ‘The Best Valentine Sugar Cookies’
Design idea from Pinterest

Christmas Wreath Cupcakes

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Ingredients (makes 24)
24 cupcakes of your desired flavour (red velvetflourless chocolate or Christmas spice work well)
250g butter, softened
3 cups icing sugar
4 tablespoons milk
Optional: Peppermint essence
Green food colouring
Red mini M&Ms

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Method
Beat butter in a medium bowl with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in icing sugar, milk, and, if desired, 1-2 drops of peppermint essence.

Spread thin layer of the frosting over each cupcake.

Colour remaining icing with 1-2 drops of green food colouring. Spoon into a piping bag with a star attachment and pipe icing in a ring around the edge of the cupcakes to make a wreath. Top with red M&Ms. Enjoy!

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Elsa’s Snowflake Cookies

These beautiful snowflake cookies look like something Elsa from Frozen would make, and are a fantastic way to get your kids involved in the kitchen. These are perfect for Christmas or for a Frozen themed Birthday party.

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Ingredients (makes around 40 cookies)
Equipment:
1 large snowflake cookie cutter
1 small snowflake cookie cutter

For the cookies:

½ cup butter
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 small egg
½ teaspoon water
1 ½ cups flour
¾ teaspoons baking powder

To decorate:
Blue hard lollies (we used Melbourne Rock Candy Bo Peep collection)
White chocolate, melted

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Method
Cream butter, sugar & vanilla using electric beaters until well combined. Add the egg and water and beat until light and fluffy.

Using a wooden spoon or silicone spatula, mix sifted dry ingredients into wet ingredients until a dough forms. Divide into 2 roughly equal pieces, cover with glad wrap (or plastic wrap) and refrigerate for an hour.

Line 3 large trays with baking paper.

Roll out dough using a rolling pin until it is approximately 1cm thick. Use the large snowflake cutter to cut out snowflakes from the dough, and carefully place on the lined trays (no need to leave room for spreading as they don’t). Then line up the smaller cutter in the centre of the large snowflake to cut out the dough – you can either bake these little snowflakes as cookies or put them back into the dough to cut out more large snowflakes.

Preheat oven to 190-200°C  (180°C fan-forced).

Blitz blue hard candy in a blender until they are fine crystals. Using a teaspoon, carefully sprinkle the crystals into the empty centres of the cookies ensuring that the centre is fully covered. Brush away any crystals not in the centre as these will discolour the cookies.

Bake cookies for 8-12 minutes, until lightly golden. Leave to cool on the baking trays for 5 minutes, before gently transferring onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Once the cookies are cool, decorate by piping melted white chocolate onto the cookies.

Enjoy!

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Sugar cookie recipe adapted from ‘Alice & Lois.com’ – ‘The Best Valentine Sugar Cookies’

Design idea from Pinterest.

Christmas Light Cupcakes

These adorable cupcakes are very easy to decorate but look great! Just pipe white buttercream in a swirl on your favourite flavoured cupcakes, pipe a dark chocolate swirl as the wire and attach mini M&Ms.

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Ingredients
24 cupcakes of your desired flavour (red velvet, flourless chocolate or Christmas spice would work well)
250g butter, softened
3 cups icing sugar
4 tablespoons milk
Optional: 1-2 drops peppermint essence
Dark chocolate melts
1 pack mini M&Ms

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Method
Beat butter in a medium bowl with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in icing sugar and milk and, if desired, 1-2 drops of peppermint essence.

Using a piping bag with a wide circular nozzle, pipe frosting in a circular motion on each cupcake, starting from the outside and working your way into the middle, gradually building it up to a peak in the centre. Repeat with remaining cakes.

Melt the dark chocolate and spoon into a zip-lock bag. Cut just the very corner of the bag and pipe a thin line of the chocolate on each cupcake in a swirl to make the ‘lighting wire’. Place M&Ms vertically along the dark chocolate lines ‘to make the lights’. Enjoy!

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Design adapted from Pinterest.

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.