Friday, 11 July 2014

Winter + White Chocolate

Think about it...
It's a cold winter evening and you're snuggled on the couch with a lovely knitted blanket over your knees.  What could make this a better picture?  Only biting into a warm white chocolate chunk cookie!

Heaven!  You see, white chocolate and I...well, we have a bit of a 'thing'.  But please don't allow this to hold you back from experimenting with this recipe!  Instead of white chocolate, you could use ANY type of chocolate, chocolate bar, nut or dried fruit.  This is the wonderful cookie recipe of my childhood and you really can do anything with it.

White Chocolate Chunk Cookies
250g butter, unsalted
70g caster sugar
70g brown sugar
1/2 can condensed milk
2 tsp vanilla essence
350g S/R flour
80g plain flour
200g good quality white chocolate, chopped roughly

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees.  Cream the butter and sugars until well combined and lightened in colour.  Mix in the condensed milk and vanilla before adding your flours. When your mixture has come together, add the chocolate.  Roll tablespoons of the mixture into balls and place onto baking trays, allowing room for spreading. Bake for 15 minutes or until lovely and golden.

This recipe makes a whole lot of cookies so you could halve the mixture but what would be the fun in that?

F. x

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Beautiful on the inside.

Baking is part of my Sunday routine and I love it.  My Sunday bake is less beautiful and more practical, however as whatever comes out of the oven goes into our lunch boxes.  Now that I'm a mumma, health and wellness through food is vital as I find more and more way to pack in nourishing nutrients.  As a result, this week's recipe is worlds apart from what I normally share with you: not in taste, of course but in nutritional value.  Quinoa flakes and oats form the base of these cookies, packing a fibre and protein punch.  Rapadura and maple syrup replace simple, refined sugar and Chia seeds provide superfood superpowers.  These don't taste unlike ANZAC bikkies but without the nasty sugar high (and low). Perfect for my little ladybug's lunchbox.  If these weren't meant for a lovely little person, I might have considered adding chocolate chips or cacao nibs.  Maybe next time... 

Quinoa, Coconut and Chia Cookies
125g unsalted butter
40g rapadura
30g maple syrup
95g quinoa flakes
90g rolled oats
60g desiccated coconut
1 tbsp white chia seeds
2 tbsp sunflower seeds
1 egg

Preheat your oven to 170 degrees.  Melt butter and then mix in rapadura and maple syrup until well incorporated.  Add all the dry ingredients and the egg and combine.  Place tablespoons of the mixture onto baking trays and cook for 15 minutes or until you get lovely golden crunchy edges.  Allow to cool slightly before removing from the trays.  Makes 24.

Put your feet up and enjoy munching on one of these with a lovely coffee.

F. x

Saturday, 8 February 2014

A very happy birthday.

Yesterday marked one of my good friend's milestone 30th birthday.  So many of her family and friends celebrated with her last night and for the occasion, I created a darling lilac celebration cake with matching cupcakes.
I must admit to being a little in love with this cake - ok, a lot in love with this cake.  The colour is divine and the cake was absolutely perfect.  This really is a fail safe recipe.  I used my white chocolate mud recipe and baked the cupcakes for forty-five minutes and the large round cakes for an hour and fifteen minutes.  Decorating the cake and cupcakes required four batches of lilac vanilla buttercream and one batch of white buttercream for between the layers.  The cake was topped with Rafaello chocolates which was a very easy and elegant touch.
White Chocolate Mud Cake
250g unsalted butter
150g good quality white chocolate, chopped
2 cups caster sugar
1 cup milk
1/2 cup SR flour
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs, beaten lightly

Preheat over to 140 degrees. Melt butter, chocolate, sugar and milk together over a low heat. Continue stirring, without boiling, until smooth. Pour mixture into your mixing bowl and leave to cool. Whisk in sifted flours before mixing in vanilla and eggs. Bake a 23cm round cake for 75 minutes and cupcakes for 45 minutes. A skewer will not come out completely clean with these cakes but the top of the cake should be springy to touch.  Allow cakes to cool completely before decorating with vanilla buttercream.

Vanilla Buttercream
150g unsalted butter
400g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp milk

Beat butter for 4-5 mins until very light in colour. Stir through the vanilla before adding icing sugar and milk. Once icing sugar is incorporated, beat on a high speed for 2-3 minutes. Colour as desired.

Happy 30th Birthday, Jem!

F. x

Thursday, 17 October 2013

My happy dance.

You've heard of the "happy dance"?  Well, while I'm a fan, I must say that I definitely prefer the "happy bake".  A moment on the lips Facebook page now has over 200 likes and is growing every day.  My mode of celebration?  Why, the "happy bake", of course! And isn't it a beautiful thing? Recipe to come: good things come to those who wait, darlings.

Here's to the "happy bake" catching on!
F. x

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

A little slice of heaven.

 For the first time in the longest time, I'm snuggled on the couch with a cup of English Breakfast and a Scotch Finger....bliss! Being back at work full time now and juggling all that goes with being a working mummy means that moments like these are few and far between. It also means that I'be neglected you all for far too long. But, I promise that what I'm offering you today with more than make up for it.
This...is ah-mazing.
I give you, my Salted Caramel Cheesecake. I give you not only my Salted Caramel Cheesecake BUT my Salted Caramel Cheesecake with Vanilla Cream and Caramel Sauce! Forgive me, now?

Salted Caramel Cheesecake
500g plain sweet biscuits 
60g almond meal 
150g unsalted butter, melted 
350g ricotta 
500g cream cheese 
175g (1 cup) brown sugar 
4 eggs 
2 tbsp golden syrup 1
/4 tsp table salt 
2 tsp vanilla extract 
250mL pure cream 
240g (1 cup) sour cream 
1 tbsp icing sugar, sifted 

Caramel Sauce 
250mL pure cream 
60g butter, chopped 
175g (1 cup) brown sugar

Preheat your oven to 160 degrees C. Blitz the biscuits and almond meal in a food processor until you have a course crumb.  Add the butter and process to combine.  Press the mixture onto the base and sides of a 20cm springform tin and pop in the freezer while you make the filling.
Using an electric mixer, beat the ricotta and cream cheese for 5 minutes or until very smooth.  Add the sugar and beat for another 3-4 minutes.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time, before adding the syrup, salt and 1 tsp vanilla.  Mix until well combined.  
Pour the mixture into the biscuit shell and then place in a large baking tin.  Pour boiling water into the tin so it comes halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan.  Bake for 1 hour 30 minutes or until firm to the touch (with a slight wobble to the centre)  Remove the cheesecake from the baking tin with the water and allow to cool.  Refrigerate for at least 3 hours, although overnight is best.
Place the cream, sour cream and the remaining teaspoon of vanilla in a mixing bowl and whip to soft peaks.  Swirl the cream across the top of the cool cheesecake.
To make the caramel sauce...Place all ingredients into a saucepan over a low heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved.  Increase the heat to high and bring to the boil.  Allow to cook for 5-7 minutes or until thickened.  Set aside and allow to cool.  Serve with the cheesecake.

Love this!

F. x

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Food Tales

Last week, I was lucky enough to attend the "Food Tales" workshop at the Blackwater Library.  These travelling workshops are a joint venture between the State Library of Queensland and the Queensland Writers Centre. The incredibily charismatic and talented Dominique Rizzo presented throughout the Capricorn region, visiting Yeppoon, Rockhampton, Emerald and Blackwater and discussing the food memories of travel with the locals.  She talked about her own food journey and the experiences along the way which lead her into cooking as a career and were fundamental to her food philosophy.  I was also lucky enough to be able to purchase her beautiful book, "My Taste of Sicily" which she kindly signed for me.  This book is full of simple, versatile recipes perfect for every day cooking.  There is also a gorgeous sweets and desserts chapter which I fully intend on working my way through!

If you get a chance, I also recommend that you check out the "Food Tales" blog which is full of local and community content from the workshops. Dominique Rizzo also has a selection of delicious recipes available on her website that aren't included in her book (Click Here) so definitely have a click through!

Look out because I've got a stunning Silician cake from Dominique's book coming your way!

F. x

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Blondes have more fun.

In Blackwater, this week, the weather has been a tad bleak.  It's been cold and overcast and wet.  While this weather doesn't suit itself to outdoor pursuits, it is perfection for baking.  In fact, I have woken up each day this week and thought "pastry weather" and so, am devastated that I haven't found the time to create the particularly stunning chocolate tart that I've been giving the eye.  But you know me, I don't wallow for long and I found myself the perfect baking opportunity last night.  The inclement weather called for comfort food and there, in my pile of recipe clippings, I found it. It was exactly what I was looking for and didn't even know it.  A blondie.

White chocolate is, and has always been, a particular favourite of mine - on its own and as an ingredient in any baked good or dessert.  Pair it with fruit and you have a match made in heaven.   I was in a wonderful world of my own...just me, the kitchen and melting chocolate.  The only thing better was what came out of the oven forty minutes later.

Black Cherry Blondies
100g unsalted butter, chopped
180g white chocolate, broken into squares
3/4 caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup SR flour
3/4 cup plain flour
1 cup tinned, pitted black cherries

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees and prepare a 19x29cm (or thereabouts) slice tin. Melt butter and chocolate together in a saucepan over a low heat. Allow to cool slightly before stirring in sugar, vanilla and eggs. Sift in flours and combine using a folding motion. Pour the thick batter into the tin, top with the cherries and bake for 35-40 minutes.
Edges should crisp and golden. You can (should) allow to cool before you slice but we can never leave this alone that long!

This is beautiful served warm with icecream or cooled for morning tea.  We sliced it and enjoyed steaming hot with a sweet cup of strong tea. 

F. x