Chocolate melting moments and birthdays

stackIt’s the Boy’s birthday tomorrow. Every year I labour over what to buy him – whether he will like this gadget, or approve of that shirt. This year, I’ve gone for something different. He has far too many gadgets and says he doesn’t need any more shirts, so I’ve gone for something completely, outrageously odd. If I had to title it, I would call it “for the man who has everything.” I love it, so I hope he does too. Keep an eye on the blog, I may post pictures of it if he approves!

Being unemployed and slightly short of money, the majority of my present is going to come to him in the form of food. He wants a big salad for dinner and a sponge cake for his birthday cake.

I don’t love making sponge cakes, I find them temperamental and disobedient…he says he doesn’t mind if I don’t make a sponge though, he knows how much I enjoy making deliciously dense chocolate cakes!

Speculoos biscuits and travel adventures

stringIn February of this year I was in Belgium. It sounds so far away from where I am at this moment that it’s quite hard to comprehend. Like a lame tourist, I indulged in waffles and ‘frites’ because I believed that was what I was supposed to do. I bought loads of chocolate (some amazing, some disappointing) and generally ignored the fact that my cholesterol was probably going through the roof! But speculoos was a shining beacon of delicious individuality amidst all the tourist trappings.

Honey jumbles and celebrating food

closeI’ve had one of those weeks that really inspire you to love food. I had fabulous breakfast with a friend (which I couldn’t help myself but Instagram, check it out!), I reminisced about chocolate milkshakes, I watched my mother darling throw together an amazing meal to entertain a crowd and I had an unexpectedly delicious meal last night in Newtown.

I feel as though there are times in your life where you’re more appreciative of food than others. And seeing as I’m in this deliriously food-focussed mood, I picked out a jar of honey I’ve had sitting in my pantry for months and decided to make the most of it.

Choc coconut bites and election day

croppedIt’s election day in Australia! At some point I have to tear myself away from baking and vote, but for the moment I’m busying myself making peanut butter cupcakes for a friend’s housewarming! That recipe will be posted tomorrow – get excited!

These glorious little coconutty bites are moist and crumbly in perfect proportions. With only six ingredients, they’re the perfect morsel to throw together when you have people drop in unexpectedly, or when you want to make something fun and nutritious for the kids.

Parmesan entertainers (biscuits)

in bowlMy love for parmesan borders on the obsessive. I don’t mean that weird dry yellow powder that comes in a shaker bottle; I mean realparmesan cheese.

If it were up to me, spag bol would be 1 part spaghetti, 1 part bolognaise and 3 parts parmesan cheese.

It’s tangy and mature and just delicious.

In my world there is no such thing as too much parmesan. Pasta, salads, fruit, sandwiches – you name it, I’ve parmesaned it.

Lavender shortbread and excitement

previewThis recipe was my first contribution to a website that wasn’t my own – I know, super exciting, right?! I was stoked when the Geelong Blabbertiser said that they wanted me a contributor! I already wrote an introduction for the post (which can be found here), but I’m going to write a second one. That’s right, a double-barreled introduction. I hope you’re sitting down.

Today was a day of great excitement! My first post on the Geelong Blabbertiser went up (I had first post jitters!) and Norman got a hair cut (before and after photos!) While I was waiting for Norman I also ate at a patisserie that I’d never been to (see the amazing picture here.) You underestimate how exciting all of these things were! Norman’s haircut also lead to the discovery of a hernia which is kind of sucky, but that will hopefully be sorted out in the coming weeks. 

Melting moments and surprises

I always thought that melting moments would be super tricky to make. It wasn’t until late last year that I came to realise just how easy they are. And I was pleasantly surprised! This recipe produces beautiful, soft little biscuits which (as the name suggests) melt away in your mouth.

Mid-way through making these alabaster beauties the front door-bell was rung quite fiercely. I broke away from rolling the dough IMG_4799and answered the door, doughy-handed. I’ll cut out the boring bits (like polite chatter with the mailman and the unwrapping) and tell you that in the big box that arrived with the mailman came my very own KitchenAid mixer. For whatever reason, the Boy took it upon himself to surprise me with it! I’m amazingly grateful… and super keen to use it!!

Norman partook in the celebrations by attempting to eat the little packaging puffs. Then he spat them out, then tried to eat them
again. He ended up in the box full of them and made himself quite comfy!

I won’t gush any further, but it will hopefully feature in upcoming blogs. It’s so beautiful I could die!

I’m hoping it will also improve the quality of my baking (especially meringues, which are the bane of my life!)

Biscuits:

plate

  • 250g butter, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • ½ cup icing sugar
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1/3 cup cornflour

Filling:

  • 60g butter, softened
  • 1 passionfruit
  • 1 – 1 ½ cups icing sugar

MixPreheat oven to 160°C and line a large tray with baking paper. If your baking paper is disobedient, dab a few spots of butter in the corners of the tray and use that to keep the baking paper down.

Cream butter, vanilla and icing sugar together until smooth and creamy – it should change in colour
slightly. Sift the flours into the butter mixture and mix until you get a soft dough. When you scoop a spoonful out of the mixture it should look like ice cream – solid, but soft at the same time.

Measure out heaped teaspoonfuls of mixture and roll them into small balls, lining them up on the baking paper as you go. Don’t worry if the balls aren’t perfect, they’ll smooth out even further when they’re in the oven. icecream

press 1When you have a tray full of soft doughy spheres, grab a fork and use it to lightly flatten them, pressing a pattern into them as you go. To avoid messing up the pattern or the smooth dough, pull the fork out towards you after you’ve pressed them down.
icingBake for 15 minutes and make the passionfruit filling while they’re in the oven. Beat the butter and icing sugar together, then mix in the passionfruit pulp. Take the biscuits out of the oven and transfer the biscuits to a wire rack to cool. Even if they don’t look done after 15 minutes, they are – you don’t want them to brown like you generally would a biscuit, these biccies are beautiful and pale. Once the biscuits are cool spread a teaspoon of passionfruit filling onto one biscuit and sandwich it with a second.

You can substitute the passionfruit for any other fruit of your choosing. Experiment – let me know what filling you use!

You should get about 28 individual biscuits, which will make 14 melting moments. You might want to double this recipe though, they don’t last long! passionfruit

Madeleines and perfection

Wednesday was one of those days where everything just seemed to work.

Friends and I went op-shopping for plates and utensils to pretty up the blog, I was given home-made croissant dough to have a play with (because I’ve never made my own before), I found lots of new recipes and I ate some delicious food. (I Instagrammed it all, it must be true)

And to finish the perfect day off, I went to see Maeve O’Meara host a chat with Lorraine Elliot (better known as Not Quite Nigella!!) – it was so lovely! Lorraine was humble and completely adorable. She was generous with her tips for bakers and bloggers and the audience chatted to her freely. Most of the people in the audience knew intimate details of Lorraine’s life, which I suppose comes with choosing to be a blogger, so she spoke candidly about almost everything!

I also came home to delivery of new measuring spoons in the mail – Wednesday was perfection!

To celebrate my Wednesday (and share the celebrating with you all), here is my madeleine recipe.

This recipe, like my Wednesday, just works. The flavours are beautiful, soft and worth savouring. If you’ve never tried orange blossom water before, let this be the recipe that you amend this – it’s like bathing in gardenias, like swimming in blossoms.

Neither of those descriptions do it justice. This smell makes me long for the orange tree that used to grow in my backyard. Orange blossom water smells and tastes like my childhood.

I just Googled madeleines and it turns out that ‘madeleine’ is used in Proust’s In Search of Lost Time, to refer to something that evokes a memory or is a source of nostalgia. How neatly Proust just rounded off this evening’s recipe musings.

Orange blossom water may be a little bit hard to procure, but I promise every drop of this delightfully intoxicating little liquid is worth it.

Orange Blossom Madeleines:Madeleines (2)

  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup plain flour
  • 45g melted butter
  • 3 tsp orange blossom water

Preheat your oven to 180°C. Whisk together the eggs and sugar with a mixer until foamy, this should take about 2-3 minutes. Melt your butter in the microwave while the mixture foams up.

Butter stack

Take out the whisk element and slowly sift in the flour, then mix in gently using a wooden spoon.

Add the melted butter and orange blossom water to the mixture. If you’re unsure about the orange blossom water – despite my best attempts to entice you – try cutting back two one or two teaspoons and just to test it out. Or, if you’d prefer to be completely unadventurous, replace the orange blossom water with some lemon zest, coconut essence or rum.

Spoons

Before you grease anything, marvel at how beautiful the madeleine tins are for a second. Aren’t they just gorgeous?!

batter and tinsLiberally grease your madeleine tin with butter and fill them about 3/4 of the way up. When I say liberally, I mean lather your tin up, because these little ladies like to stay in their tins. Refrigerate your filled madeleine tins for about an hour if you’ve got the time (I got impatient and took them out after half an hour with no adverse affects.)

Place them in the oven and cook them for about 12 minutes, when the edges turn golden.

Allow to cool and sprinkle with a little bit of icing sugar.

Enjoy with tea and friends.

Peanut Butter Cookies and Instagram

Cookiesmay not know that I was prompted to start this because of Instagram. I wish I was kidding! I’m one of those people who cannot resist sneaky snaps of her teacup, or of freshly baked biccies.

I’m an Instagram tragic.   (proof here: http://instagram.com/gabbyeq)

The boy and I started house-sitting in April and I had recently been made redundant – what is a girl to do in her copious amounts of spare time? Instagram of course! Once people cottoned onto the fact that I was mostly cooking and taking pictures of said cooking, it became a bit of a joke that I spent all of my time this way.

#bakingwithgab was born.