Perfect Chocolate biscuits and bargains

tinIt’s no secret that I love biscuits. I also happen to love the English language. So when I saw this super nerdy cute biscuit tin on Sunday, I knew that I had to have it. I was willing to pay $10 for it, but it turned out it was on sale, so I got it for $5!!

Needless to say,Sunday was a great day. On top of my bargain, I also received an abundance of pears (which you’ll notice in the next couple of recipes that I post) and I came up with a simple, fail proof chocolate biscuit recipe. I have posted other chocolate biscuits, but none are this basic. Continue reading “Perfect Chocolate biscuits and bargains”

Boyfriend biscuits and quadruple chocolate

millionsThe Boy often gets irritated at my baking. Actually, it’s more my ingredients – he loves baked goods, he just isn’t very adventurous. I had to trick him into eating my chocolate basil crinkle biscuits (I simply omitted the fact that they had basil in them); he flat out refused to try my lemon thyme cupcakes; he didn’t like the earl grey poached pears that I made!

“I like what I like,” he says, like a true Yorkshireman.

So, in preparation for Valentine’s day, I’m sharing a recipe that even the pickiest of partners will like – a quadruple chocolate biscuit. They’re cake-like and they have four types of chocolate in them – who could say no to that?? Continue reading “Boyfriend biscuits and quadruple chocolate”

World Nutella day and adoration

Did you know that today is World Nutella day? No? How could you miss such an important world event? I’ve had it pencilled into my diary for weeks! I feel that I should declare that this is not a sponsored post (although I would totally be open to sponsorship by Nutella, because that would be DELICIOUS), I just really love the stuff.

The problem in my house is that Nutella tends to only last a number of hours, which means it’s rare that I get the chance to cook with it. Even if one of my family members manages to sneak a jar into the house, it is detected and devoured very quickly. We’re like truffle pigs for Nutella… Nutella humans?

I’m getting off track. Continue reading “World Nutella day and adoration”

Chocolate swirl meringues and sweetness

sceneI cannot get enough of meringues. Before I was given my gorgeous mixer, Penelope, I found meringues really challenging. Now that I have her, however, they’re a cinch. They’re so simple to whip together (although it does take some patience) and everybody loves them.

Top them with sprinkles for a touch of nostalgia – this addition will make them irresistible for adults and children alike.

I made these meringues as an accompaniment to a super sweet treat for you all to make this Valentine’s day. I’ll post the recipe that goes with these meringues tomorrow, but here’s a sneak peak of the romantic dessert…

Chocolate meringues:tea

  • 2 egg whites
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 100g milk chocolate


lemonBefore you start making your meringues, wipe your whisk attachment and bowl down with half of a lemon. Just swirl the lemon around and then wipe off the excess. This will remove any residual fats that may be lurking, and could flatten your meringues!

whiskWhip your sugar and egg whites together – I’d recommend using a stand mixer or a hand mixer because it’s far more efficient! Start on a lower speed (I went for 3 on my stand mixer) and speed it up a notch at a time (up to about 8) over the course of a minute; I find that this method gets the most air into the meringues.

While the egg whites whip up, preheat your oven to 120°C and line two baking trays with baking paper.

swirlKeep whipping until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture turns white, thick and glossy. This should take about ten minutes. Your mixture should hold soft peaks and should stay in place if you turn the bowl upside down.

candlesMelt your chocolate and spoon it into the meringue. Give it a quick swirl (literally, like one swirl, if you want veins of chocolate through the meringues) and spoon the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a star shaped nozzle.

Pipe onto your lined baking trays bake for 50-60 minutes – you’ll know they’re done when they’re dry to touch. Transfer to a cooling rack and devour once they’re cooled!

 

Chocolate blueberry friands and alliteration

sceneI’m taking a brief break from my Australian recipes. I’m still busily baking all things Australian, but I made these friands for a dinner party recently and I couldn’t wait to share the recipe with you. They’re super speedy to make, and they always look impressive.

They’re such humble little morsels, but they pack so much flavour! Deceptively delicious is how I would describe them.

And the mixture of blueberry and chocolate? Divine. Continue reading “Chocolate blueberry friands and alliteration”

GF almond choc chip biscuits and the new year

The new year is definitely here. Resolutions are being made and broken, my gym is heaving with well-intentioned women, and Facebook is full of inspirational quotes. I never really make resolutions because I have a memory like a sieve. I do, however, fully support those who make plans to eat healthier/be fitter/strive harder in the new year.

aboveAlso involved in this post are two small businesses that you should resolve to get behind this year. Continue reading “GF almond choc chip biscuits and the new year”

Chocolate basil crinkle biscuits and New Year’s Eve

I’m very excited about 2014 – it will be my first full year of blogging, and things are going to be very busy for Norman and I! 2013 has been fabulous; I started the blog, I tried a bunch of new recipes, and I even convinced my family and The Boy to try some new things too.

My final post for this year is nothing too spectacular, it’s understated, but impressive, which is how I like my New Year’s Eve. The chocolate element of the biscuits has a lovely fudginess to it, which contrasts beautifully with the hard shell that forms as a result of the white sugar.

basilIf you’re hesitant about the mix of chocolate and basil mixture, don’t be. You mix chocolate and mint all the time without thinking about it! I converted a few members of my family, although The Boy was somewhat reluctant to concede defeat. I think that the basil heightens the chocolate taste, he just disliked the green bits that he saw in the mixture. Continue reading “Chocolate basil crinkle biscuits and New Year’s Eve”

Winners and trees in coconut snow

threeThis week I picked the winners of my teapot giveaway. I asked entrants to pick one of the four teapots available (red, yellow, blue or pink) and tell me four things they associated with that colour.

Caitlin won the yellow teapot, she said “Yellow is my favourite colour, it reminds me of flowers (yellow roses are mum’s favourite), sunshine, primary school sports carnivals (I was in gold, obviously, cause I’m the best), and the yellow bike that I really really really want but can’t afford.”

Charlotte says the colour of the blue teapot reminds her of reminds her of “discarded bird eggs, stormy skies, baby blankets and… blu-tack!”

Amanda said that the pink teapot was the same colour as “kitten’s paws, rosy cheeks, pink marshmallows and fairy floss! Four things that make my life just that little bit more sweet.”

The winner of the red teapot is yet to check her emails to accept. Once she’s accepted, I’ll announce the final winner. Otherwise I’ll have to pick a new winner.

Thank you to everyone that entered, I loved reading all the funny, sweet and quirky things that everyone had to say. I can’t wait to run another competition like this, it’s so lovely to see everyone’s creativity!

Unrelated to tea pots, here is my final Christmas post. These little treats only require four ingredients, and three of these are different kinds of chocolate! They can be thrown together in 20 minutes and they’re perfect for kids and adults alike.
paper caseThe only thing I should warn you about is that if you’re serving these babies in a hot climate (ie Australia), don’t take them out of the fridge until you intend to serve them, as the Christmas trees wilt a little if they get too warm.

Trees in snow:

Chocolate trees:

  • 100g dark chocolate
  • M&Ms to decorate

Chocolate coconut snow:

  • 280g white chocolate*
  • 1 ½ cups shredded coconut
  • ½ cup desiccated coconut

coconutLine a large baking tray with baking paper and pour a small amount of M&Ms into a bowl. Set them both to one side. Melt your dark chocolate in the microwave and stir to achieve a smooth, even consistency.

Scoop chocolate into a snap lock bag and snip off a small section of one bottom corner. Working quickly, pipe zigzags of chocolate onto the baking paper – each zigzag will need to be slightly larger than the last to make it look like a Christmas tree. Repeat.trees

Don’t worry if your trees are different sizes or styles, this just adds to their cuteness!

Once you’ve piped each of your Christmas trees, place a few M&Ms onto each tree to look like Christmas decorations. Try to work quickly so that the chocolate doesn’t set too much before you’ve placed them. Once they’re all decorated, pop them in the freezer.

Line 16 cupcake tin cups with paper cases while the trees are in the freezer.

Melt your chocolate in the microwave, checking at regular intervals that it doesn’t burn. Combine both types of coconut in a bowl and pour the melted chocolate over the top. Using a spatula, mix the chocolate and coconut together until all coconut is coated in chocolate.

unwrappedScoop a heaped tablespoon of mixture into each paper case and flatten slightly with the back of the spoon. Using a butter knife, cut a shallow line across the length of each serving of chocolate coconut snow. When your trees have set, whip them out of the freezer and gently nestle one tree in each of the cuts that you made, ensuring that they are nice and stable.

Refrigerate for 15 minutes and serve. You can serve them with or without the paper cases.

*the white chocolate can easily be replaced with dark or milk chocolate, if you so desire.

Sharing recipes and mint chocolate crackles

chocolate crackles cardRegular readers will know that I recently held a teapot giveaway. I loved reading all of the fun, crazy, beautiful entries that people came up with. What most people don’t know is that the teapot giveaway started an ongoing relationship between Baking with Gab and the lovely people at house.com.au

When I went into the House store, I got chatting to Cat, who worked behind the counter. I explained that I wasn’t buying four teapots for myself, I was going to give them away on my blog. She was enthusiastic and supportive of my blog and we’ve been chatting ever since. It makes me super happy that a chance meeting could result in one of my recipes being printed on a snazzy looking recipe card and shared with an even wider audience.

I wanted to share the recipe on the blog as well, so that nobody missed out on this delectable and speedy treat. Enjoy!

Mini chocolate mint crackles

patternMakes 36

  • 380g chocolate
  • 50g copha
  • 41/2 cups Rice Bubbles
  • ¾ cup crispy mint M&Ms
  • Sprinkles to decorate

pourLine two 24 cup mini muffin with mini cupcake cases.

Melt the copha and chocolate in your microwave, stirring at regular intervals to avoid burning the chocolate.

singlePut the Rice Bubbles into a mixing bowl and pour the melted ingredients over them. Mix thoroughly, ensuring each rice bubble is completely coated. Toss your M&Ms into the mix and distribute them evenly.

Scoop a tablespoon of mixture into each cupcake pan and press down lightly with the spoon. Top with sprinkles, if desired.

Pop in the fridge for half an hour and resist the urge to eat them until they’ve set!

stars

My gorgeous Christmas bon-bon napkins were provided by Aqua Door Designs, a wonderful Brisbane-based design studio who print all of their linen by hand. You can find the bonbon napkins for sale on their Etsy page, here.

Christmas and pudding

expertMy claim to this pudding is not all-encompassing; it’s mine, but it’s not. It’s my dad’s. And it’s his mum’s. And it belonged to Quirks before her. This pudding is so deliciously entrenched in my family’s Christmas celebrations that I can’t imagine the festive season without it. So I’ve enlisted number one pudding expert, Neil Quirk to help with this post.

My family does, however, have a claim to Christmas. We don’t do it by halves. We love fairy lights and we have a colour theme for our Christmas tree every year. We also have a real Christmas tree (which I didn’t realise was that unusual until about five years ago, when I discovered that most people have to store their Christmas trees away in a box come January, whereas ours is chopped up and thrown into the garden as compost!) I feel as though my mother darling and I have done a particularly splendid job this year – we have an inside AND outside Christmas tree which is a first.

nativityAnd we have a babushka-style nativity scene.  This makes me happy.

Everything about Christmas is magical, and I like to think that the experience of this pudding is kind of magical too. From the very start, where you bloat your fruit with alcohol, to the mixing in of coins and the lighting of the brandy sauce, this pudding is Christmas.

Makes one 4kg pudding, which serves 30-40

  • 1 unbleached calico  or cotton cloth (about 80cm square)
  • 2 lengths of cotton string
  • 450g raisinsbloated
  • 450g currants
  • 450g mixed fruit
  • 50g glace cherries
  • 150ml rum or brandy
  • 450g butter
  • 500g brown sugar
  • 8-10 eggs
  • Rind of 1 lemon
  • 350g plain flour
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 50g blanched, chopped almonds
  • 225g dried breadcrumbs
  • ¼ tsp bicarb
  • 1 pinch salt

mixI’m going to preface this recipe with a warning – you need quite a large bowl to mix this colossal pudding in, and you’ll need an even bigger pot to steam it in. The traditional Quirk family pudding is mixed by hand (which can get quite greasy and sticky in the hot Australian December weather), but you have my permission to use a wooden spoon.

You also need to leave the fruit to imbibe overnight. Pop all of the fruit into a large bowl and pour your rum or brandy over it. Mix well, then cover with cling wrap and leave overnight (or for a few days if you have time.)

dryThe next day, cream your butter and brown sugar together. Add in the chopped almonds and then the lemon rind, mixing thoroughly. Beat your eggs in a separate bowl and add them into the mixture.

At this point in time, put a large pot of water on the stove to boil. Add your calico or cotton cloth to the water to sterilise it. Leave it to bubble away for at least ten minutes.

coins

If you’re using pudding coins, pop them in to sterilise as well for ten minutes as well. My dad uses genuine sixpences from the Perth mint, but I stumbled across these beauties from jeweller, Simone Walsh and bucked tradition slightly by using them instead of the sixpences.

spoonAdd the flour, nutmeg, spices, breadcrumbs, bicarb and salt and to the mixture and combine. Spoon the alcohol-bloated fruit into the dry ingredients, mixing as you go, until all of the fruit is mixed in.

Grab a colander and take the sterilised items off the boil. Remove the cloth (and coins if you’re using them) from the water. Spread your cloth evenly across the colander and sift a thin layer of flour over the cloth. This flour will form the skin on the pudding.

coinPop the coins into the mixture now, if you’re using them. Each person in my family gets to put a coin in the mixture and make a wish, it’s a tradition. You toss the pudding in and then mix it. It’s dorky, but I love it.

Spoon your mixture onto the cloth in the middle of the colander, it should take on the rounded shape of the colander. When all the mixture is in the colander, cut two medium lengths of cotton string. Take each of the four corners of the cloth and bring them up to make a central stem at the top of the pudding.

You may need to jiggle the mixture slightly to make the mixture rounded and pudding shaped. wrapTake one piece of string and tie a knot  as tightly as possible as close to the base of the stem as possible (it’s easier if you ask for a helper at this point in times. Wind the string around the base a second time, and tie it again.

double knotAbout 4cm up from the initial knot, repeat the double knot process, but make a loop on the top one for hanging.

Fill your kettle several times and pour the boiled water into your boiler (my dad uses an ancient antique electric clothes copper, but you can just use a large soup pot.) Thread a stick or long wooden spoon through the loop that you left in the top not and rest it across the pot, so that your pudding is suspended. Boil for 7-8 hours, topping up the boiled water (so that the pudding stays submerged) and then hang it from the ceiling until Christmas day.

submergeOn Christmas day, boil for 2-3 hours before serving. Peel wet cloth off , invert the pudding, and place it on a large plate. Top with holly for garnish (real or fake, either works), and serve with lashings of cream or custard. If you want to be extra showy, warm 100ml of brandy in the microwave, set it alight, and pour it over the pudding just before serving!

Warn guests to be on the lookout for your pudding coins. It’s supposed to be good luck if you find a coin in your pudding piece…I can only imagine it would be bad luck if you swallowed one!
Neil’s tips:

  • This pudding can be made on Christmas Eve, or up to 2 months in advance.above The longer the pudding hangs, the more time the flavours have to develop and intensify. That’s not to say that it won’t be delicious if you make it on Christmas Eve though!
  • Calico is a sturdier option for pudding making, and can be used to make puddings year after year.
  • sliceHang pudding in a dry, well-ventilated space to inhibit the growth of mould on the outside of the cloth as it is hanging. Check pudding every few days to ensure that all parts of pudding and cloth have sufficient ventilation.
  • If you hang your pudding for a number of days, the fruit will dehydrate and
    give the pudding a dimpled appearance that you’ll be able to see through the cloth. Don’t worry, they’ll re-hydrate when you boil it for the second time.
  • moneyDon’t use modern coins in your pudding. Pre-decimal threepence and sixpence coins have a higher silver content – they’re purer and won’t tarnish, whereas modern coins will turn mouldy and green because they react with the acids in the mixture.

 

Side note: my teapot giveaway ends at midnight tonight!! Enter before it closes!