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.

 

Warm Cinnamon & Rhubarb Muffins

It’s that time of the year again: swot-vac. While I always have good intentions, designing elaborate study timetables and carefully planning my time,  I often find myself procrastinating in one way or another and procrastibaking is my specialty. Fortunately, I work well with a rewards-based system where I treat myself to a baked item after doing a certain number of hours of study, and so baking is useful in that it provides me with much-needed study motivation (or so I tell myself).

Coincidence? I think not...
Coincidence? I think not…

These cinnamon & rhubarb muffins are perfect for this because they are heavenly, especially when fresh out of the oven or warmed in the microwave, just the thing to reward yourself after working hard. They’re so good in fact that I had to stop myself from inhaling them all right away. So go on… treat yourself to a batch of these perfectly seasonal study treats – I can assure you, you won’t regret it!

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Ingredients
For the rhubarb mixture
1 cup bunch rhubarb, washed, ends trimmed
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons sugar

For the muffins
1 cup rhubarb mixture
1 ¼ cups plain flour
½ cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
¾ cup buttermilk
¾ cup olive oil
1 egg

For the sugar-cinnamon crust
⅓ cup sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

How good is rhubarb?! Image credit: pipmagazine.com.au
How good is rhubarb?! Image credit: pipmagazine.com.au

Method
Preheat the oven to 180°C fan-forced. Line 2 muffin tins with 16 muffin cases.

Chop rhubarb into small, even pieces and cook with water and sugar in a small saucepan over a medium heat until the rhubarb is tender and the sugar has dissolved. Stand for 5 minutes to cool.

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Add flour, sugar and baking powder into a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Carefully pour in the buttermilk, olive oil and egg and gently stir to combine. Mix in the cooked rhubarb, being careful not to over-stir (note: the mixture is supposed to be very wet, don’t worry!)

Spoon mixture evenly into muffin cases & top with mixed sugar and cinnamon.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.  Enjoy!

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Recipe from Grandma (from Sue Lowry)

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

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

Torta Caprese (Flourless Chocolate Almond Cake)

This cake is my new dinner party go-to. The cake itself has it all; it’s intensely chocolate-y, rich and moist, the perfect dessert cake and between you and me, it is INCREDIBLY easy (yes, I am shouting at you). It takes very little time, dirties very few dishes and keeps well (although it never lasts long around here!) To serve, simply dust with icing sugar and top with berries and ice-cream.

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Ingredients (serves 6-8)
200g butter
200g dark chocolate
4 eggs, separated
170g caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
250g almond meal
Icing sugar, to dust
Ice cream & berries, to serve

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Method
Preheat oven to 170 degrees C (or around 150 fan-forced). Grease & line a 24cm cake pan with baking paper.

Melt the butter and set aside.

Process (or finely chop) the chocolate until it is in tiny bits, but still retains a little texture.

Place egg yolks, sugar & vanilla in a medium bowl and beat until pale and thick. Fold in chocolate, butter and almond meal (mixture will be very thick)

In a separate bowl, whisk the eggwhites until soft peaks form. Gently fold in chocolate mixture, ensuring you don’t knock the air out.

Spoon into the prepared pan, level the top and bake for 50-60 minutes or until just firm to the touch.

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Set aside to cool in the pan, then turn out.

Serve while still warm with icing sugar, berries and ice cream. Bellissimo!

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Adapted from ‘Torta Caprese’ in delicious. ‘Wicked: Sinful desserts from your favourite chefs’.

Australia Day Lamingtons

Happy Australia Day!! I hope all my fellow Aussies are having a lovely day & enjoying the beautiful summer weather.

Lamingtons are a quintessentially Australian dessert and consist of a rectangle or square of sponge cake (usually day old) coated in chocolate sauce and then rolled in desiccated coconut. While the origin of the lamington is contested, most historians agree that it was named after the Governor of Queensland, Lord Lamington just before Federation. Some suggest the chocolate coating was a way to make old sponge cake more appealing, others suggest Lord Lamington’s cook accidentally dropped a sponge cake into chocolate and lamingtons were the result. However they came about, lamingtons are absolutely delicious and perfect for Australia day celebrations, cake stalls, fundraisers or just with a cup of tea.

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Image credit: Foodwise 

Ingredients
Sponge Cake
4 eggs (room temperature)
⅔ cup caster sugar
1 cup self-raising flour
¼ cup cornflour
25g butter, chopped
⅓ cup boiling water

Chocolate Icing
4 ⅔ cup icing sugar mixture
½ cup cocoa powder
20g soft butter
¾ cup milk

Coating
3 cups desiccated coconut

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Method
Note: the sponge is best made a day ahead, otherwise it can be too soft and difficult to work with.

Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced) and grease & flour a 20cmx30cm lamington pan, lining the base with baking paper.

Beat the eggs in a small, deep bowl with an electric mixer until pale. Gradually add sugar, and beat for 8 mins or until mixture is thick.

Meanwhile sift the flour and cornflour together 3 times. Combine butter & boiling water in a small heatproof bowl.

Transfer the egg mixture to a large bowl and sift the flour mixture over the egg mixture and use a large balloon whisk to GENTLY fold the flour into the egg mixture, followed by the butter mixture.

Pour into prepared pan and bake for 25mins or until the sponge springs back when touched lightly in the centre. Turn onto a wire rack to cool and cover with a tea towel overnight.

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Cut cake into 20 even pieces.

To make the chocolate icing, sift the icing sugar & cocoa into a large heatproof bowl, add the milk & butter and stir over a saucepan of simmering water until smooth and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Place coconut in a shallow bowl.

Using 2 forks, dip each piece of sponge into the icing (turning gently with your forks) until coated. Hold over the bowl to drain off excess and then toss gently in coconut before transferring onto a wire rack to cool.

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Suitable to freeze.

Adapted from the Australian Women’s Weekly ‘Classic Lamingtons’

Fudgy Chocolate Mudcake

This is one of those wonderful dessert recipes that you can make ahead of time and then just forget about – perfect for a dinner party with other complex courses. Dark, rich, fudgy and decadent this chocolate cake has it all! It is extra delicious when served with whipped cream and berries or with a berry coulis.

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Ingredients (serves 10-12)
125g butter, chopped
375g dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup brown sugar
¼ cup plain flour, sifted
2 tblspns milk
1 cup almond meal, sifted
5 eggs
Icing sugar, for dusting

Method
Preheat oven to 170°C. Grease and line a 22cm round spring-form tin.

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Place the butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (or into a saucepan over a very low heat). Stir until melted and combined.

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Add the sugar, sifted flour, milk and sifted almond meal to a large bowl and gently mix to combine. Add the eggs one at a time and whisk until combined.

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Pour in the melted chocolate and butter mixture and stir until thoroughly combined.

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Pour mixture into prepared tin.

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For a smooth top and even-textured cake, fold a pleat into a sheet of aluminium foil. Cover the cake, pinch the middle of the pleat and pull upwards to form a tent-like shape.

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Bake the cake for 40-45mins until cooked on the edges but still soft and fudgy in the centre. Uncover, let it cool for 10mins at room temperature before refrigerating for 2-3 hours (but bring back to room temperature before serving).

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Dust with icing sugar and serve with whipped cream and berries.

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Adapted from Donna Hay’s ‘Ultimate One-Bowl Chocolate Dessert Cake’ from Fast, Fresh, Simple

Old Fashioned Vanilla Fudge

This fudge reminds me of my childhood as it tastes just like the vanilla fudge I used to buy at my local community’s autumn fair. Smooth, creamy and delicious – this fudge has the power to change lives (or at least bring on diabetes…) BEWARE: Highly addictive!

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Ingredients (makes approx. 40 pieces)
250ml milk
50ml double cream
350g caster sugar
100g butter
1 tsp vanilla

Method
Grease and line a cake tin of your choice (I used two thin loaf tins because I wanted fewer, thicker pieces to experience full creaminess). Put milk, cream, sugar and butter in a large heavy-based saucepan and heat slowly, stirring continuously.

Bring to the boil, keep stirring & cook until the mixture has reached soft ball stage (approx. 115°C – I’m lucky that my sugar thermometer has it marked). Remove from the heat and continue to stir it for a few minutes then add the vanilla. Keep stirring for a few more minutes and then pour into prepared tin/s, leaving it to cool at room temperature (NOT THE FRIDGE!)

Once cooled, cut into pieces of your desired size and say goodbye to all your troubles.

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Adapted from Frugal Feeding’s ‘Traditional Vanilla Fudge’

Buttery Orange Cake

I have a thing for orange cakes. I’m not really sure why, I’m not a fan of most fruit cakes, but orange cakes fall into a category of their own. The original recipe for this pairs the cake with a simple glace icing flavoured with orange juice but I found that a cream cheese icing works better for a stronger, less sickly-looking cake. Here I have gone over the top with fresh roses and white chocolate shavings but you can decorate it as simply as you like.

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Ingredients (serves 12)
250g softened butter
2 tblspns finely grated orange rind
1 ½ cups caster sugar
4 eggs
1 ½ cups self-raising flour
½ cup plain flour
¾ cup orange juice

Icing
30g softened butter
80g softened cream cheese
1 tsp finely grated orange rind (although I tend to add a bit more – up to you!)
1 ½ cups icing sugar mixture

Method
Preheat oven to 170°C. Grease a deep 22cm round cake-pan; line base and sides with baking paper, extending it 5cm above the top of the pan (this will make getting it out easier and will assist with the cooking process).

Beat butter, rind and sugar in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating until just combined between additions. Mix in flour and juice in two batches.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for approximately 1 hour and 10mins then carefully turn onto a wire rack to cool.

Place cake top-side up onto a serving plate or cake stand then spread cold cake with icing and decorate as desired.

To make the icing, beat butter, cream cheese and rind in small bowl with electric mixer until light and fluffy, gradually beat in icing sugar.

E cookbook 3 012Adapted from the Australian Women’s Weekly’s “Buttery Orange Cake” in the 2002 ‘Best Food’ cookbook.

Easy Peasy Chocolate Soufflés

E Cookbook Challenge 2 007

For my first EVER post (yes guys, I’m an excited newbie) I wanted something simple but spectacular. These are very easy to make but look impressive and taste divine (here I’ve served it them in teacups for an added cutesy factor) . Light and airy with a full chocolate flavour these must be eaten straight out of the oven and are extra special with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream and a dusting of icing sugar. Be warned though, you may not be able to stop at one!

Ingredients (serves 4)
2 tblspns melted butter
4 tblspns caster sugar (one tablespoon per ramekin)
4 tblspns custard powder
4 tblspns cocoa
3 tblspns sugar
1 cup milk
6 eggs, separated
Extra ½ cup caster sugar

Method
Preheat oven to 190°C. Brush insides of 4 1-cup ramekins with melted butter and dust with caster sugar, ensuring the ramekins are evenly coated (this is SUPER important as it will give you a delicious crust). Refrigerate until needed.

Put custard powder, cocoa, sugar and milk in a small saucepan and bring to simmer for 30 seconds. Remove from the heat and allow it to cool slightly. Beat egg yolks into the custard mixture and set it aside.

Put the eggwhites and half of the extra caster sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and whip until soft peaks form.

Add the remaining caster sugar and whip FOR 10 SECONDS ONLY.

Fold half of the meringue mixture into the custard mixture using a plastic/silicon spatula. Fold the combined meringue & custard mixture into the remaining meringue mixture, then gently spoon into the prepared ramekins.

Bake for 11-12 minutes without opening the oven door (this is important as otherwise the soufflé will sink – you’ve seen the cartoons!) Remove, dust with icing sugar & serve immediately with vanilla ice-cream if desired.


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Adapted from Fast Ed’s “Easiest Chocolate Soufflés” – Better Homes & Gardens Magazine, 2009