Tropical Ice Cream

This delicious, easy dessert has all the tastes of summer and is perfect served with fresh fruit on a balmy evening. thumb_img_3009_1024Ingredients (serves 6-8)
1 litre good quality vanilla ice cream
100g unsalted pistachio nuts
¾ cup desiccated coconut
Pulp of 2 passionfruit
2 tablespoons honey
Fresh fruit, to serve

Method
Allow ice cream to soften at room temperature until just soft.

Remove pistachio nuts from shells. Cover nuts with boiling water and remove their dark skins. Dry thoroughly.

Place coconut in a dry pan and cook over a gentle heat until golden, stirring constantly. Remove from pan.

Combine ice-cream, nuts, ½ cup of the coconut, passionfruit pulp and honey. Place in a glad-wrap lined container (I use a log tin), cover and freeze for at least 2 hours

Serve topped with the remaining toasted coconut and fresh fruit. Enjoy!

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Recipe adapted from Sydney Market Authority

Pavlova

The pavlova is a quintessential Aussie dessert that is said to have been inspired by the Russian ballet dancer Anna Pavlova after a chef saw her perform on her world tour in 1926. A good pavlova has a beautiful high, crisp crust and a soft, pillowy marshmallow inside. It is one of my favourite summer desserts, especially when topped with seasonal fruit.

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Ingredients (Serves 6-8)
1 large cup of sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon cornflour
2 egg whites (at room temperature)
4 tablespoons boiling water
300ml cream, thickened
Fresh fruit (this time I used a mango, strawberries and blueberries)

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Method
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a large tray with baking paper and trace a circle around the bottom of an 18cm cake tin (or other round object of the desired size). Turn the baking paper over (so it is pencil side down).

Add eggs whites to a large bowl. Put cornflour and caster sugar to one side of the bowl.  Add boiling water to egg whites, pour in vanilla and white vinegar, and beat on high for 10-20 minutes until thick, glossy and the sugar has dissolved (you can test this by putting a small amount of mixture on your index finger and rubbing it with your thumb, if you can feel the sugar, keep beating). **It is hugely important that you have the sugar dissolved, otherwise the pavlova may crack and weep during cooking**

Using the circle on the baking paper as your guide, spoon the pavlova mixture onto the tray and shape.

Cook at 180°C for about 8 minutes and then reduce heat to 90°C and cook for another 45 minutes. Turn the oven off and leave the pavlova to cool in the oven for at least an hour, to prevent collapsing.

When fully cool and you’re ready to serve it (keep the meringue free of toppings until right before serving), gently spread the thickened cream over the top and decorate with fruit.

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Recipe from my lovely Grandmother, Margaret Payne.

Mum’s Apricot Jam

One of our traditions when we go down to the family beach house at Victor Harbor is to eat homemade apricot jam on toast for breakfast while enjoying the sea view and, when we’re lucky, watching dolphins frolic in the waves.

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The view from the house

Because I have such fond memories associated with it, apricot is my favourite jam flavour, especially when homemade with local (or even better homegrown) apricots. This is Mum’s recipe and makes approximately 4 cups of sweet and tangy apricot goodness.

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Ingredients (makes 4 cups)
1kg fresh apricots, halved with the kernels removed
1 vanilla bean, halved lengthways
1 cup water
1kg white sugar

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Method
Sterilise jars by putting them and their lids through the hottest cycle of your dishwasher without detergent, or by standing the jars in the oven on the lowest temperature for 30 minutes.

Combine apricots, vanilla and water in a large saucepan. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat, and simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes or until pulpy.

Add sugar and stir over a high heat, without boiling, until the sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil and boil, uncovered and without stirring, for around 35 minutes or until the jam jells when tested.

Discard the vanilla bean and pour the hot jam into sterilised jars; sealing immediately. Label the jars with the date once cool.

Enjoy! Delicious on toast or scones with cream.

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Adapted from the Australian Women’s Weekly ‘Apricot & Vanilla Bean Jam’

 

 

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)

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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Caramel & Pear Upside-down Cake

First off, I would like to apologise profusely for my extended hiatus! No, I didn’t hibernate through winter (quite), instead I was on holidays in the Greek Islands and then my time was filled with Birthdays, work & uni assessment.

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However, today I have an absolutely delicious recipe for you; one so good that only moments ago I finished gobbling up a piece and felt I had to share it right away!

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Ingredients (serves 8)
180g  butter
⅝ cup brown sugar (really annoying I know but just do one ½ cup & then half of a ¼ cup)
2 large pears, peeled & quartered (I actually used 4 small pears)
¾ cup sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
¾ cup almond meal
1 cup self-raising flour
⅜ cups milk (again, super weird but it works!!)

Method
Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced) and grease and line a round 23cm springform cake tin.

Melt 60g of the butter in a small saucepan and then stir in brown sugar over a low heat until combined.

Pour the caramel mixture into the base of your prepared tin.

Arrange your pears on the caramel any way you like with the curved side down. I didn’t really make mine look pretty but if I wanted to impress, I would cut my pears more thinly and arrange them in a fan-like pattern.

Using electric beaters, cream the butter and sugar. Once combined, add eggs, almond meal and spices and beat until combined. Finally, add flour and milk and beat until just combined.

Pour the batter over your pears and bake in the oven for between 50-60 minutes (until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean).

Allow the cake to sit in the tin for around 15 minutes before turning out.

Serve with cream or ice-cream and a dusting of icing sugar if desired.IMG_9086

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Recipe adapted from ‘Caramel pear cake’ on BestRecipes.com.au