Chocolate Berry Meringue Nests

These meringue nests are the perfect conclusion to a summer dinner party or BBQ. They are light, flavoursome and not too sweet when paired with fresh berries and whipped cream. I especially love that they look like you’ve gone to a lot of effort (when they’re really very simple to make) and they don’t heat up the house too much while baking!

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Ingredients (makes 4)
3 egg whites
¾ cup (165g) caster sugar
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla essence
1 tablespoon dark dutch cocoa powder
300ml thickened cream, whipped
Fresh berries, to decorate (I used strawberries, raspberries and blueberries)

Method
Preheat oven to 120 degrees C (~100 degrees C fan-forced). Line a large oven tray with baking paper.

Beat egg whites in a medium bowl with an electric mixer or mixmaster until soft peaks form. Add caster sugar, a tablespoon at a time, beating until the sugar dissolves between each addition. Add in vanilla essence and cocoa powder.

Divide the meringue mixture into 4 roughly equal sized dollops on the baking tray, and spread into circles approximately 11cm in diameter.

Bake in the oven for approximately 45 minutes or until meringues are firm. Turn off the oven and let meringues cool for 5 minutes, before letting them cool completely with the door ajar.

Top meringues with whipped cream and berries. Enjoy!

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Adapted from ‘Chocolate Berry Meringues’ in The Australian Women’s Weekly cookbook ‘Best Food’, 2005 reprint.

Xmas Reblog: Easy Chocolate Yule Log

Today I’m sharing with you an incredibly easy yet delicious cheat’s version of the classic French Christmas dessert – Bûche de Noël.

For a traditional pudding-hater like myself, Christmas dessert has never brought much joy. Sure, you can smother your piece of pudding in custard (which I do) and that helps a bit, but somehow the fruity-boozy flavour that I hate so much still overpowers it. Anyway, fortunately I’m not the only pudding-hater in my family and so last year Mum made this Bûche de Noël (chocolate yule log) in addition to the pudding for dessert. This yule log is sweet (but not overly so) and very light – perfect for a hot summer’s day. It proved so popular last year that we’ll be making it again this year 🙂

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Ingredients (Serves up to 12)
1x 250g packet Arnott’s chocolate ripple biscuits (or equivalent)
600ml thickened cream
1 tspn caster sugar
1 tspn vanilla essence
20g cocoa powder
Grated chocolate, to decorate
Spearmint leave lollies, to decorate
Raspberries, to decorate

Method
Using an electric mix, mix cream, sugar and vanilla together until stiff.

Fold in the cocoa until combined.

Spread a small amount of the cream along a long, rectangular serving plate to make a base. Spread 1 biscuit with 1 ½ teaspoons of cream and then top with another biscuit. Top with another 1 ½ teaspoons of cream and then place biscuits on their side onto the cream base on the serving platter.

Repeat until all biscuits have been used, to form a log.

Spread remaining cream over entire log, reserving a small amount for the branch.

Cover loosely with foil and refrigerate for at least 6 hours to set.

Just before serving, cut cake diagonally about a quarter of the way in and use that piece as a branch off the main log.

Patch it up with the remaining cream so it looks attached.

Use a fork to make some lines along the branch to look natural and then sprinkle with grated chocolate.

Decorate with some raspberries and spearmint leaves and serve. Enjoy!

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Adapted from Arnott’s ‘Bake and Create’ Recipe booklet.

Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie

Pic from Inspired Taste.net (mine got eaten too quickly!)
Pic from Inspired Taste (mine got eaten too quickly!)

Even though Thanksgiving isn’t really a holiday celebrated here in Australia, this year my family decided to get in on the action anyway as a number of us will be away over Christmas (and we like to party with or without good reason). So, in keeping with tradition, I made a pumpkin pie for dessert. I had no idea what to expect having never tried one before, but gave a highly rated recipe I found online a go and was really pleased with the result. If I didn’t know there was pumpkin in there (and it wasn’t orange) I wouldn’t pick it because it’s really the vanilla and spices that come to the fore, with the pumpkin providing a creamy, sweet back note. Pumpkin-y or not it was delicious and I’ll probably make it again when pumpkins are in season.

Ingredients (serves 8-10)
Pastry
1 ½ cups plain flour
3 tspns icing sugar
140g cold butter, chopped
1 egg yolk
2 tblspoons water

Filling
2 cups pumpkin puree (made by roasting pumpkins, scooping out the flesh, blitzing it into a smooth paste in a blender and then putting it in a sieve for an hour or so to remove the excess juice)
3 large eggs
½ cup sugar
⅓ cup brown sugar
¾ cup cream
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
A pinch of salt
1 quick grind of pepper (i.e. a really small amount, sounds odd but it works!)

Method
To make the pastry, put the flour, icing sugar, butter, yolk & water into a food processor and process until it just comes together. Press into a ball, knead gently on a floured surface until smooth & then refrigerate, covered in clingfilm, for 30 mins.

Preheat the oven to 200°C fan-forced. Lightly grease a 23cm flan tin or pie dish.

When the pastry has chilled, roll dough on a floured surface until large enough to line the tin (I often have a bit left over). Lift pastry into tin, ease into the sides & then trim the excess.

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Cover the pastry with a sheet of baking paper and fill with pie weights or uncooked rice. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk eggs and sugar until smooth. Add the pumpkin puree, cream, vanilla and spices and stir until all incorporated.

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Pour mixture into pastry case (obviously remove the baking paper and pie weights first!!) and smooth over the top. I ended up having a bit of pumpkin filling left over that I might use in muffins or something (if I don’t eat it all first :P)

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Bake pie in the oven for 10 minutes before reducing the heat to 160°C fan-forced for around 30-40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

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Let cool completely before transferring to a serving platter and then serve at room temperature with whipped cream or ice cream. Enjoy!

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Pic from Inspired Taste (mine got eaten too quickly!)

Pastry recipe from the Australian Women’s Weekly Lemon Meringue Pie Recipe & Filling Recipe from Inspired Taste.net

Tangy Lemon Tart

Since moving to Adelaide, I’ve been lucky enough to have access to an abundance of homegrown lemons. In our rental house in 2013, our lemon tree provided perfect fruit almost all year round, and my Aunt & Uncle also grow outstanding citrus and always seem to have plenty to give away. This has meant lots of experimentation with lemon desserts and this one has to be one of my most popular! This tart has a strong, slightly tart lemon flavour and  gorgeously short, melt-in-your-mouth pastry. Serve dusted with icing sugar and with thickened cream or ice cream for a perfect dinner party dessert.

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Ingredients (Serves 12)
Pastry
2 cups plain flour
½ cup icing sugar, sifted
180g cold unsalted butter, chopped
1 egg, lightly beaten

Filling
5 eggs
3 egg yolks
150g caster sugar
200ml freshly squeezed lemon juice, strained
100ml freshly squeezed orange juice, strained
250ml pouring cream

Icing sugar, to dust
Double cream or vanilla ice cream, to serve

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Method
To make the pastry, process the flour, icing sugar & butter in a food processor until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg and process until the mix just comes together. Form the pastry into a disc, wrap in glad wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced). Spray a 27cm tart pan with a removable base with cooking oil. Roll out pastry on a lightly floured surface until 4mm thick and use to line the prepared pan. Trim the edge, then line with baking paper and fill with pastry weights (or dried rice). Bake for 15mins then remove weights and paper and cook for a further 5mins until golden. Set aside.

Reduce oven to 150°C.

To make lemon filling, place eggs, yolks & sugar into a bowl and stir until just combined (try to avoid creating bubbles). Gently stir in lemon and orange juices. Pour cream into a small saucepan and bring almost to the boil, then stir it into egg mixture. Using a fine sieve, strain lemon filling into a jug. Place tart shell onto an oven tray and pour in the filling.

Bake for 15mins, then carefully rotate to ensure even cooking. Bake for a further 10mins or until just set. To check, gently shake the tart; it should be slightly wobbly in the centre.

Cool the tart to room temperature, then dust with icing sugar and serve with double cream or ice cream.

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Adapted from Matt Moran’s Lemon Tart featured in MasterChef Magazine – Issue 3, July 2010.

Vanilla Raspberry Layer Cake

Well.. I lied. I completely intended to blog more in the last few weeks (as evidenced by my last post!) but I’ve just been too busy. I had my 21st Birthday to plan, uni assessments galore, the Psychology ball to organise, and now Laura’s 18th is coming up in a couple of weeks. Yikes, I get exhausted just thinking about it all! However, while I haven’t been blogging, I have been baking.

Here is the cake I made for my 21st Birthday afternoon tea – triple layer vanilla cake with a tangy raspberry filling & super glossy meringue frosting, topped with vanilla bean macarons. The raspberry filling was perfect as, otherwise, this cake was going to be too sweet, so I would certainly recommend leaving it (or perhaps substituting it for a tangy lemon curd if you’re not a raspberry fan) to cut the sweetness from the frosting.

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Don’t worry, the empty plates in the background didn’t stay empty!

For my 21st birthday cake, I used 2 packets of Betty Crocker’s SuperMoist Vanilla cake mix, with some extra vanilla added so they tasted more ‘home-made’ divided into 3 20cm lined pans. I did this for 2 main reasons; it saved a lot of time (and time was precious as I had so much other cooking to do!), and because it reliably produces an even, stable, fine-crumbed cake that is easy to work with. If you don’t want to use cake mixes, just make a double batch of your favourite vanilla/butter cake and that will work as well 🙂

The raspberry filling needs to be made at least a day ahead but keeps well in the fridge so can be made up to a week ahead.

I also made the macaron shells a couple of days ahead to save me some stress on the actual party day.

The frosting should be made the day of serving as it does not keep particularly well.

Ingredients

For the raspberry filling (make at least a day ahead)
340g frozen raspberries
⅔ cups water
½ cup white, granulated sugar
1 tblspn lemon juice
2 ½ tblspns cornstarch dissolved in ¼ cup of water

For the cake
2 boxes Betty Crocker’s SuperMoist Vanilla cake mix (made following instructions, so add the eggs, milk, butter etc. as specified by the box)
½ tablespoon vanilla extract

For the meringue frosting
6 egg whites
1 ¾ cups caster sugar
2 tblspns liquid glucose (or light corn syrup)
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the macarons
https://bakerholicsanonymous.wordpress.com/recipes-2/cookies-biscuits-macarons/vanilla-bean-macarons/

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Method
To make the raspberry filling:
In a saucepan combine the raspberries, water, sugar, and lemon juice. Bring to boil and simmer for 15-20mins  or until the raspberries have broken down.
Remove the mixture from the heat and strain with a fine mesh sieve. Return the stained mixture to the heat. Dissolve the cornstarch in water. Whisk the cornstarch mix into the raspberry mixture.
Bring the mixture back to a boil and simmer for 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and cool completely.
Refrigerate overnight to set.

To make the cakes: Line & grease 3 20cm cake pans. Set oven to temperature specified by the cake mix boxes. Make cakes according to box instructions, add ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract to each cake mix & divide mixture among the three pans. Bake for specified time, or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

To assemble the cake: Carefully place a cake layer on your serving platter. Top with a generous amount of raspberry filling and spread gently using a spatula to make an even layer. Top with another cake layer and repeat. Finally, top with the final cake, ready to be frosted.

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To make the meringue frosting: Add egg whites, sugar, liquid glucose and cream of tartar, and simmer over a pot of water (not boiling), whisking constantly but gently, until temperature reaches 54°C on a thermometer (be patient, it does get there eventually!).
Beat heated mixture with electric beaters on a low speed for 2 minutes, then increase the speed to medium and beat for 2 more minutes. Increase the speed to high and beat until it is very thick and glossy, about 5 minutes.
Add vanilla and beat to combine.
Frost cake immediately by piling the frosting on top of the cake and, using a metal spatula, gently spreading from the top down. Smoothe as much as possible with your spatula.

Top with 6 macarons, 3 of each colour and a candle (if desired).

Serve each piece with a macaron & enjoy!

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Raspberry filling recipe adapted from: Pinterest (various sources with the same basic recipe)

Meringue frosting recipe adapted from Sweetapolita’s ‘Perfectly Pink Angel Food Cake’ http://sweetapolita.com/2015/05/perfectly-pink-angel-food-cake/

Vanilla Bean Macarons

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I made these particular macarons to sit on top of my 21st birthday cake (and because I think no afternoon tea is complete without them!) Feel free to adapt the colours or flavours as you wish.

Ingredients (makes around 40 macarons, 20 paired)
Macaron shells
225g pure icing sugar
130g almond meal
115g egg whites
60g caster sugar
1g bicarb soda
A few drops of rose pink & violet food colouring

Vanilla bean filling
100g butter, softened
¼ cup milk
½  tblspn organic vanilla bean paste
4 cups icing sugar
Rose pink & violet food colouring

Method
Preheat oven to 150°C fan forced. Grease and line two large baking trays with baking paper.

Separately sift icing sugar and almond meal into medium bowls or over sheets of baking paper. Repeat process 3 times and re-weigh ingredients (I know this seems excessive but trust me, it’s worth it). You will need to top up the ingredients as you may have lost some in the sifting process. Sift icing sugar and almond meal into a bowl and repeat, ensure there are no lumps.

Whisk egg whites until doubled in size using electric beaters or an electric stand mixer. While still whisking, gradually add caster sugar and bicarb, whisking until mixture forms very stiff peaks.

Gently fold almond meal mixture into meringue using a spatula until incorporated.

Divide mixture into 2 bowls. Add food colouring (pink to one, purple to the other) one drop at time, stirring very gently with a spatula, until desired colour reached.

Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a 9mm round nozzle (approximately). Hold nozzle close to the baking tray and pipe 3cm diameter circles onto prepared trays – don’t make a circular motion àla soft serve. Tap the underside of the tray to allow macarons to settle and air bubbles to escape. If there is still a little peak on top, dip a teaspoon in water and use the back to smooth the surface. Repeat with other colour. 217929_10151403883896183_1104201680_n

Leave to rest for at least 20-30 minutes or until the macarons form a skin and the top is no longer shiny or sticky to the touch (this is VERY important as it will give your macaron its lovely ‘foot’).

Bake for 12 minutes. Remove trays from the oven and allow macarons to cool on the tray. They will still be soft at this stage but will firm up on cooling.

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To make the buttercream, cream the butter for 1-2 mins. 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.

Halve the mixture and add a drop of rose food colouring to one half and a drop of violet colouring to the other.

Pipe a generous amount of buttercream onto half the macarons and sandwich with a second macaron.

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Recipe adapted from Callum Hann’s ginger macarons

Salted Caramel Blondies

These delicious blondies taste like a cross between choc chip cookies and cake. Be careful not to over cook them as they’re definitely best when fudgy.

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Ingredients (Makes about 25 blondies)
180g unsalted butter, melted
1 ½ cups lightly packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 ½ cups plain flour
Sea salt flakes
½  cup white chocolate melts
½ cup white chocolate chips
½ cup milk chocolate chips (optional)

Method
Preheat the oven to 190°C (or 170 fan-forced). Line a 20cm square baking tin with baking paper.

Mix the melted butter and brown sugar together in a large bowl. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and then the vanilla extract.

Gently stir in the flour and a pinch of sea salt. Carefully fold in the chocolate, making sure it is evenly dispersed.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared baking tin and smooth the top with a spatula. Sprinkle a couple of pinches of salt over the top and then bake for 20-30 minutes, or until the outside is cooked and the middle has a slight wobble.

Remove from the oven, sprinkle once more with a pinch or two of salt, and allow to cool for 30 minutes in the tin. Gently remove the blondie from the tin by the baking paper and leave to cool for a further 5-10 minutes on a cooling rack.

Once cool, cut into squares. Enjoy!

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Adapted from Callum Hann’s ‘Salted Dirty Blondies’ in I’d Eat That, 2014.

 

Rich Chocolate Tart

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This was the main component of the dessert I made for Mother’s Day (in addition to the raspberry sorbet) and it was a winner with everyone. It’s not difficult to make (but looks it) and is the perfect conclusion to any meal.

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Ingredients (serves 10)
4 egg yolks
2 eggs
¼ cup caster sugar
⅓ cup thickened cream
300g dark chocolate, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 quantity of sweet pastry

Method
Make the pastry. Reduce the oven temperature to 160°C (approx. 140-150°C  fan-forced, depending on your oven).

Beat egg yolks, eggs & caster sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until thick and creamy. Gently fold in cream, melted chocolate and vanilla.

Pour the chocolate mixture into the pastry case.

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Bake, uncovered, for approximately 30 minutes, or until the filling is just set.

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Cool for 10 minutes. Serve dusted with sifted cocoa and raspberry sorbet (if desired). Enjoy!

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Recipe adapted from the Australian Women’s Weekly “Best Food: Desserts” cookbook (2004)

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Image Source: The Australian Women’s Weekly

Raspberry Sorbet

Happy Mother’s Day to all the Mums out there! Tonight, I have the honour of preparing the Mother’s Day dessert for a dinner party with my extended family. After much thought, I have decided to make a rich chocolate tart to serve with raspberry sorbet.

This raspberry sorbet recipe is one of the first I ever used when cooking by myself. In the school holidays, my sister and I would each cook one thing out of the Australian Women’s Weekly cookbooks we purchased in 2007. Mine would be from “Good Food: Desserts” (surprise, surprise) and Laura’s from “Potatoes”. As you can tell, it certainly wasn’t the most nutritious meal! But it was a lot of fun and helped Laura and I get into cooking.

I still love this sorbet – it’s perfectly tangy but sweet with a strong raspberry flavour. It’s also great as it doesn’t require an ice-cream machine. Hopefully it’s as useful for you as it has been for me 🙂

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Ingredients (serves 8-10 on the side or 6-8 as the whole dessert)
1 ½ cups water
1 cup caster sugar
900g frozen raspberries
1 ½ tablespoons lemon juice
3 egg whites

Method
Stir the water & sugar in a small saucepan over a medium heat, without boiling, until the sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil. Reduce the heat & simmer, uncovered, without stirring for 5 minutes.

Blend the raspberries, lemon juice & sugar syrup in a blender until smooth.

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Push mixture through a fine sieve into a 20cm x 30cm lamington pan (or 2 smaller pans) lined with clingfilm. Discard seeds. Cover with foil; freeze until firm.

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Coarsely chop the frozen berry mixture and add it to the blender with the egg whites. Blend until smoother and paler in colour. Return mixture to the pan, cover & freeze until firm.

Serve & enjoy!

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Recipe adapted from the Australian Women’s Weekly ‘Good Food: Desserts’

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Key Lime Pie

Happy Pi Day everyone! And what an exciting one it is (3.14.15).
This pie is perfectly seasonal – being both a pie (for Pi day) and a fabulous shade of green which is appropriate for St. Patrick’s Day next week 🙂
It’s also very easy to make and a delicious way to take advantage of the abundance of limes we are lucky to have at this time of the year.

Ingredients (serves 8-10)
135g digestive biscuits, finely crushed
60g caster sugar
75g butter, softened
1x 400g can sweetened condensed milk
125ml fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons grated lime zest
2 eggs, separated
Green food colouring (optional)
300ml thickened cream

Method
Preheat oven to 170°C. In a shallow 20-23cm pie dish, press combined biscuit crumbs, sugar & butter into the base and up this sides, making a small rim.

In a medium bowl, whisk condensed milk with lime juice, zest and egg yolks until the mixture thickens. Add 1-2 drops of green food colouring.

In a small bowl with electric mixer on full power, beat egg whites to stiff peaks. Gently fold into lime mixture.

Pour lime filling into the biscuit crust and smooth the top.

Bake the pie for 15-20 mins or until lime filling is just firm.

Cool pie in this dish and then refrigerate until chilled, approximately 3 hours.

Whip cream in a small bowl until stiff peaks form. Pipe a border of cream around the edge of the pie and top with h lime wedges if desired. Enjoy!

Adapted from Mary Berry’s ‘Key lime Pie’ in Step By Step Desserts and Confections.