Archive for the ‘Sweets’ Category


Croquembouche goodness

May 27, 2010

The May 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Cat of Little Miss Cupcake. Cat challenged everyone to make a piece montée, or croquembouche, based on recipes from Peter Kump’s Baking School in Manhattan and Nick Malgieri.

The recipes I am using for this month’s challenge come from Peter Kump’s Baking School in Manhattan and were originally created by famed pastry chef, Nick Malgieri. Please note you must make your own pate a choux (puff pastry) and crème patissiere. And your piece montée needs to be a mounted structure with some height to it.

This was an amazingly exciting challenge, this was something that the Husband had wanted to make ever since an episode of Masterchef where they did it. So it was a challenge that he was going to get involved with. And, he did – big time! ended up with caramel burn for it and all. He was far to excited about dipping and building he rushed and burn resulted.

It however didn’t dampen his enjoyment, and so that was great! It wasn’t as difficult as I had always thought it would be so it was a lot of fun. And, we will defiantly be building it again! We went the traditional route of Vanilla Crème Patissiere with caramel glaze but next time we’re thinking of Coffee Pastry Cream with chocolate glaze!

Great Challenge!


a bit of a disappointment

February 7, 2010

I had been eyeing off this recipe for awhile. You know when you see something and you think, this should potentially be really easy to put together and taste great BUT getting the key ingredient is going to prove a challenge. Well that’s what I faced with this; I wondered wherever am I going to get my hot little hands on some chestnut puree? I hit google, I looked around, and I despaired. I figured there would have to be some place nearby that would have something right? Some gourmet food shop I had not thought of. But, I couldn’t think of it, and so the recipe got shelved. When I then discovered, or rather re-discovered this recipe in my flavour of the month book I knew that I had to pick up the hunt again.

This time I had more luck, I found a couple of places easily who all confirmed they had it. I just needed wait until I could make the special trip down to them to get it. All of them were of course at least a 30 minute car drive away from me. So, I figured I’d just leave it until I could tie it in with another trip. No worries – I now knew it was on the agenda, it was going to happen so that made me feel a lot happier.

Then a few days later, I was perusing my local supermarket just waiting my turn at the deli section to get some sliced meat. When I turned to the speciality section and low and behold there were MANY little tins of chestnut puree. I nearly fell over with surprise. Really? Here?!!?! Not one to question too much further I dived on a tin, put in my trolley straight away and then promptly headed home to begin, I had everything now!

So I made the chocolate-chestnut refrigerator cake, and I was disappointed. My Flavour of the Month recipe fromNigella Bites didn’t live up to what I had hoped. The flavour didn’t pack any punch for me. I was disappointed….

Chocolate-Chestnut refrigerator Cake

500g chestnut puree (sweetened)
175g soft, unsalted butter
300g dark chocolate
3T dark rum

Beat the puree in a bowl until it’s smooth and then add the butter, beating again to make it blend well.
Melt the chocolate and let it cool slightly, before adding it to the chestnut and butter in the bowl. Beat in the rum, and spoon the chocolate mix into a loaf tin lined with cling film.
wrap the overhanging film over the cake so it is completely covered and put in the fridge to set for at least 4 hours.
don’t take the tin out until you want to eat it when you just unmould the cake and cut into thin slices.
suggestion: serve with creme fraiche or sour cream


Nanaimo Bars

January 27, 2010

The January 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Lauren of Celiac Teen. Lauren chose Gluten-Free Graham Wafers and Nanaimo Bars as the challenge for the month. The sources she based her recipe on are 101 Cookbooks and

Daring Kitchen instalment!

I have been wanting to make these since I originally heard of them, but knowing that they sounded exactly like something I would have very limited will power or control over whether or not I ate them, had given me pause. For a number of months actually, however when I saw this challenge I knew it was time!

On a little side note, it amused me that the reveal date for something that is “quintessentially” Canadian was the day after we Australian’s celebrate being Australian. Australia Day! Where I might add, I spent the day in the company of 11 South Africans, and the closest thing to “aussie” food I had was some beetroot (which yes I was looked at oddly when I added this too my salad – the only thing that would’ve made it better was if it was in a burger!)

Anyway, after that little side note – I made these in batches. I started with the Graham Cookies, which were interesting to make to say the least. The dough was incredibly sticky and like some others have said, I used two layers of floured parchment paper to roll them out. I however could not get them too slice into appropriate square/rectangular shapes (or perhaps I just did not persevere enough) and ended up popping them in my Avanti Cookie Press and making delightful round crackers. I could not have been happier with the taste! I was nibbling away happily on them once baked, and I immediately bagged some up to take to work for my GF colleague, provided her with the recipe, whilst emailing on the recipe to my grandmother and a dear friend who are also GF. I then quickly ground up the amount I needed for the bars and sealed away the rest of them before I could eat anymore!

I then started the rest of the process a few days later, I was looking for a cooler day. Alas, Brisbane was not forthcoming in this and I had to rely on a few hours of chilling between each step as well as air-conditioning at full blast (ok…24 degrees, but that’s full!) I was taking this with me to the aforementioned Australia Day gathering of the Clan. In light of this I could not use coconut in the base (though for me this would’ve just made the bar that little bit more divine) as coconut and my SIL do not mix and whilst I was making another dessert to take as well, I wanted the option to eat this to be there for her. So, like a few others I used Rice Bubbles as a substitute – having read some other entries, I think my SIL would’ve been in eating heaven if I’d made the middle layer PB! Though I did happily have some Birds Custard on hand which I used instead and since this is her favourite (and I think actually the only custard she’ll eat) I still did ok I think. Also, because I had gone all out with the base and middle catering to my SIL, I figured I had to go the whole hog, and the chocolate that I used was Fair Trade Dark Chocolate, it actually is one of my favourite chocolates to melts so that worked out well.

I had some leftovers that I shared with some friends, who enjoyed it and the Clan were quite receptive (starting out with just one little piece before having just another little piece) so all in all I think it was a great challenge. It did melt rather quickly when left out to its own devices but I think that just encouraged us all to get into it that bit quicker! I think next time I would make it all a bit thicker though, so smaller size, fatter bar perhaps? And I also need to thank the Husband who was my avid photographer for the day (excuse the cling wrap) my knee was pushed to its limits doing this and I had to sit down and rest after!

Gluten-Free Graham Wafers
1 cup (138 g) (4.9 ounces) Sweet rice flour (also known as glutinous rice flour)
3/4 cup (100 g) (3.5 ounces) Tapioca Starch/Flour
1/2 cup (65 g) (2.3 ounces) Sorghum Flour
1 cup (200 g) (7.1 ounces) Dark Brown Sugar, Lightly packed
1 teaspoon (5 mL) Baking soda
3/4 teaspoon (4 mL ) Kosher Salt
7 tablespoons (100 g) (3 ½ ounces) Unsalted Butter (Cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen)
1/3 cup (80 mL) Honey, Mild-flavoured such as clover.
5 tablespoons (75 mL) Whole Milk
2 tablespoons (30 mL) Pure Vanilla Extract
1. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, combine the flours, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Pulse on low to incorporate. Add the butter and pulse on and off, until the mixture is the consistency of a coarse meal. If making by hand, combine aforementioned dry ingredients with a whisk, then cut in butter until you have a coarse meal. No chunks of butter should be visible.
2. In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together the honey, milk and vanilla. Add to the flour mixture until the dough barely comes together. It will be very soft and sticky.
3. Turn the dough onto a surface well-floured with sweet rice flour and pat the dough into a rectangle about 1 inch thick. Wrap in plastic and chill until firm, about 2 hours, or overnight.
4. Divide the dough in half and return one half to the refrigerator. Sift an even layer of sweet rice flour onto the work surface and roll the dough into a long rectangle, about 1/8 inch thick. The dough will be quite sticky, so flour as necessary. Cut into 4 by 4 inch squares. Gather the scraps together and set aside. Place wafers on one or two parchment-lined baking sheets. Chill until firm, about 30 to 45 minutes. Repeat with the second batch of dough.
5. Adjust the rack to the upper and lower positions and preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius).
6. Gather the scraps together into a ball, chill until firm, and reroll. Dust the surface with more sweet rice flour and roll out the dough to get a couple more wafers.
7. Prick the wafers with toothpick or fork, not all the way through, in two or more rows.
8. Bake for 25 minutes, until browned and slightly firm to the touch, rotating sheets halfway through to ensure even baking. Might take less, and the starting location of each sheet may determine its required time. The ones that started on the bottom browned faster.
9. When cooled completely, place enough wafers in food processor to make 1 ¼ cups (300 mL) of crumbs. Another way to do this is to place in a large ziplock bag, force all air out and smash with a rolling pin until wafers are crumbs.
Nanaimo Bars
For Nanaimo Bars — Bottom Layer
1/2 cup (115 g) (4 ounces) Unsalted Butter
1/4 cup (50 g) (1.8 ounces) Granulated Sugar
5 tablespoons (75 mL) Unsweetened Cocoa
1 Large Egg, Beaten
1 1/4 cups (300 mL) (160 g) (5.6 ounces) Gluten Free Graham Wafer Crumbs (See previous recipe)
1/2 cup (55 g) (1.9 ounces) Almonds (Any type, Finely chopped)
1 cup (130 g) (4.5 ounces) Coconut (Shredded, sweetened or unsweetened)
For Nanaimo Bars — Middle Layer
1/2 cup (115 g) (4 ounces) Unsalted Butter
2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons (40 mL) Heavy Cream
2 tablespoons (30 mL) Vanilla Custard Powder (Such as Bird’s. Vanilla pudding mix may be substituted.)
2 cups (254 g) (8.9 ounces) Icing Sugar
For Nanaimo Bars — Top Layer
4 ounces (115 g) Semi-sweet chocolate
2 tablespoons (28 g) (1 ounce) Unsalted Butter
1. For bottom Layer: Melt unsalted butter, sugar and cocoa in top of a double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, nuts and coconut. Press firmly into an ungreased 8 by 8 inch pan.
2. For Middle Layer: Cream butter, cream, custard powder, and icing sugar together well. Beat until light in colour. Spread over bottom layer.
3. For Top Layer: Melt chocolate and unsalted butter over low heat. Cool. Once cool, pour over middle layer and chill.


Christmas Desserts

December 27, 2009

I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas Day, and for those of you who do it, a relaxing Boxing Day as well. Or for those of you brave enough to face the crowds, some excellent bargains at the sales.

We had a lovely Christmas here this year, we were down some people this year with part of the Clan in the UK and my mum and brother on the otherwise of Australia! we did some creative skype webcam goodness though, ate breakfast together (they did pancakes and ham & cheese croissants; we did pancakes (GF) with rhubarb and soy yoghurt, poached egg & bacon and choc chip waffles) and then moved on to opening presents together. The Husband got creative and used our TV to show them, which was nice. The technology wasn’t brilliant of course, but better than nothing right?

We then of course had the main affair with the remainder of the Clan. Food was kept fairly simple, what with my injury and well, the Clan traditionally doing cold spreads! so MIL cooked the Husbands favourite Christmas dish Gammon (studded with pineapple and cherries), and I made Silverside (as requested by my Puppa) with Mustard Sauce and Cranberry & Macadamia stuffed Chicken. We also roasted vegetables and steamed others. It was yummy.

However, this post is about the desserts! The 2 I created anyway – there was a choc-orange pudding as well, but this was purchased, and I already posted about the GF pudding (which went down a treat, with GF & DF custard) but these 2 were my favourites!

On the left we have a vanilla bean creme brulee made especially for the Husband who will not eat Christmas Pudding to save his life. It didn’t turn out perfectly, I think I may have slightly over cooked the custard base but it still tasted delicious, and looked so good speckled with vanilla and then with its gorgeous burnt sugar top (thank you Husband for my birthday present!) and the Husband ate 3 of the 4 created so it can’t have been to bad hey?

The Pudding….oh the Pudding! I wanted to eat all of it too myself, I ate a huge slice as it was, and everyone went back for seconds. Even MIL who usually only likes a “slither” because she says she doesn’t really like Christmas Pudding that much. I served mine floating in custard (just the way I like it) all warm and toasty, others just had a small dollop of custard (cold….) and still enjoyed it. The fruitiness was just right, texture, moist and perfectly pudding like. Oh if I do say so myself it is one of the best puddings I’ve ever had! there was half of it left at the end – I fear I went a little overboard, this I provided to our neighbour because he was unfortunately having a lonely Christmas with just a flyby visit from his daughter and her husband before they went on to their main event. I did not know this until half way through my day though, otherwise I would’ve invited him over. He keeps me supplied with fresh eggs all year round from his chickens! And, I saw him on boxing day and he informed me he ate half of it in one sitting because it was that good – gosh these wonderful ego boosting things!

Anyway, below are the recipes for the two desserts. Both were adapted from recipes I originally got from BBC Food

Christmas Pudding – made at least 2 months in advance

225g caster sugar
225g butter (frozen and grated)
955g mixed fruit
60g candied peel
110g plain flour
110g breadcrumbs
55g flaked almonds
zest of 1 lemon
5 eggs beaten
1t ground cinnamon
1t mixed spice
1t nutmeg
150ml rum (I use white rum)

Lightly grease 1 x 2L pudding basin (or multiple smaller ones)
Mix together all the dry ingredients
Stir in the eggs and rum, mix well
Spoon the mixture into the pudding basin, cover with a circle of baking parchment and foil secured with string.
Put the basins in a large steamer of boiling water and cover with a lid. Boil for 5-6 hours, topping the water up from time to time. The water should cover the sides of bowl up a third of the way. I always use my pasta pot so I can just lift out the steamer at the end.
Cool. Change the baking paper and foil. Store in cool cupboard for Christmas Day, feeding it every now and then.
On Christmas Day steam as before for 2 hours.

Vanilla Creme Brulee

300mL cream
1 vanilla bean, split
1/4 cup of caster sugar (plus extra for top)
3 egg yolks

Combine cream and vanilla in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over a low heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Whisk the sugar with egg yolks until thick, remove the bean from the cream and stir cream into egg yolk mixture.
Transfer to a heavy based saucepan and cook, stirring constantly over a low heat until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a wooden spoon, do not boil.
Remove from the heat, divide equally between 4 ramekins and cover with cling wrap and put in the fridge for at least 3 hours if not overnight.
To Serve, sprinkle the surface with extra caster sugar to form a layer about 3mm thick. Use torch to caramelise sugar – or you can use a hot grill. Allow to cool before serving.



November 27, 2009

I feel like I have had some success this time! It is exciting!

The November 2009 Daring Bakers Challenge was chosen and hosted by Lisa Michele of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. She chose the Italian Pastry, Cannolo (Cannoli is plural), using the cookbooks Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and The Sopranos Family Cookbook by Allen Rucker; recipes by Michelle Scicolone, as ingredient/direction guides. She added her own modifications/changes, so the recipe is not 100% verbatim from either book.

Success had! I was a bit apprehensive about this to begin with; I’ve always looked at them but never made them because I am always apprehensive of things that are fried. I did see the option of baking them, which I may try next time. This time though I thought I would go the traditional route, I didn’t have the tubes to begin with so I went and bought some. I understand that we did not have to buy anything to complete these challenges, but I didn’t have a broom handle, and I’d actually wanted to make these for some time now, so I used it as a bit of an excuse.

I only got 1 size, not a good idea because I was a little disappointed with the size. Would’ve liked a smaller cannoli actually but the taste was good all the same. And, it looked good which is great for me after the past failures. The cannoli was nice and bubbly just like it was meant to be, I was so pleased with myself.

The dough was a bit stiff like others have commented on but I used my pasta roller to roll it out which I think helped. I only made two types both custard, one chocolate custard. I dipped them with walnuts after because I had some left over from a salad I’d been making for dinner that night. I seem to cater to the taste loves of the Husband a lot when given the opportunity. He’s not a fan of ricotta nor is he a lover of mascarpone so not quite traditional but it was delicious all the same.

It was a great challenge, I loved it, and I liked the challenge a lot. I plan to give a savoury a go sometime very soon. These are not a normal thing to be able to find here in Australia, at least not anywhere in my local area. I am aware that there is some places in the inner city area that sell them but you really don’t see them very often. So it was a lovely special treat.


Cashew & Ginger Squares

November 23, 2009

Made this for my FIL who was poorly for quite some time, his love of ginger makes choosing things easy when I want to bake something for him.

Cashew & Ginger Squares

125g butter
¼ cup caster sugar
1 cup SR Flour
1t ground ginger
½ cup icing sugar
60g butter
2T golden syrup
100g glace ginger chopped

Preheat oven to 180C. Grease lamington pan, line base and two long sides with baking pape, extending paper 2cm above edge of pan.
Beat butter and sugar in small bowl until light in fluffy. Stir in sifted flour and ginger. Spread mixture evenly over base of pan.
Bake slice for about 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Then cool.
Stir sifted icing sugar, butter and syrup in a small saucepan over hat until butter is melted. Stir in ginger, then spread hot topping over cold base and allow it to cool.

I did remove the cashew from the recipe, but you can add it to the topping! 50g of it sliced and diced.

Flavour of the Month
1000 best-ever recipes from AWW



November 14, 2009

I mentioned in an earlier posting that I had plans for some bread and butter pudding for a friend. Well those plans eventuated in a way, I wanted to something a little different (thus the use of the brioche) so I flipped through a number of bread and butter recipes, and some bread pudding recipes and then decided that I would just give it a whirl.

Now – taking note of the picture, I hope this indicates to you the reception this received. I had taken a small portion out prior to serving this up for my BIL but had places it into an unattractive container and didn’t fancy taking it out and setting it up for a nice picture. I had honestly thought there would be leftovers – it was a big roasting pan!

Alas there were no leftovers; the caramel bread pudding was received with such delight it was hoovered into people’s mouths at a rate I did not expect. No one stopped at one serve they needed more. It wasn’t too rich (obviously) and the caramel depths were delightful. All in all a great success if I do say so myself.

Caramel Bread Pudding

600gms ounce day-old brioche & croissant
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups of milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 ½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
4 tablespoons of water

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Tear the croissant and brioche into pieces and put in a baking dish; I used a roasting pan
Put the sugar and water into a saucepan, and swirl around to help dissolve the sugar before putting the saucepan on the burner over medium to high heat. Allowing the sugar to caramelise; this will take 3-5 minutes
Turn heat down to low and add the cream, with a whisk, then add in the milk. Take off the heat and, still whisking, add the beaten eggs.
Pour the mixture over the croissants and brioche and leave too steep for 10 minutes if very stale.
Place in the preheated oven for 20 minutes and serve.