Chai chocolate fudge and acceptance

sceneA friend of mine refuses to accept that white chocolate is chocolate. She also refuses to eat it because of its ambiguity, the fact that it masquerades as something that it isn’t.

This is fine, it’s her choice (actually it’s rather advantageous to me, more white chocolate consumption on my part), but she is definitely missing out. I never really sided with my friend until this recipe, when I actually contemplated white chocolate.

White chocolate, I’ve realised, is not really chocolatey tasting at all – it’s smooth and sweet and that’s about it…not that there’s anything wrong with this! In being so indistinct, white chocolate lends itself perfectly to other flavours, it welcomes them openly – it works perfectly with the caramel of the sweetened condensed milk, and also complements the spicy, warm notes of the chai flavouring.

Lavender poached pears and reliability

Poached pears are a failsafe dessert. They’re quick, they’re easy, and they’re bound to satisfy every time. You can dress them up or down, your guests will devour them regardless. To celebrate these reliable little beauties, I’ve put together four variations on the classic poached pear.

The first of these is a Lavender and fruit tea. The tea that I used is from my local fruit shop, and I’m not sure how widely available it is – this is what it looks like, if you’re interested. It’s got cranberry, apple, rosehip and hibiscus in it, but anything fruity and sweet enough will match the lavender perfectly.

Guinness cake and contrast

sideMy nan used to drink Guinness. She was a tiny, white-haired sparrow of a woman, and I like to think that the occasional glass of Guinness represented her strong, independent streak. She wasn’t a big drinker. In fact, a 440ml can could last her a week or more (and was often thrown out by my mother!)I remember this vividly, because my brothers and I would vie for nan’s affections to try and win the floating widget that bobbed about inside the can.

Plum frangipane tart and efficiency

sceneIf you have a friend popping over without a minute’s notice, efficiency is key. I was in a position recently where I had 45 minutes to throw makeup on and prepare something for afternoon tea when I knew that I had used up most of the flour on this cake (coconut raspberry cake.)

So I whipped up this little gem – it’s fast, easy and super impressive. Tarts are usually a pretty impressive dish to serve to people, but a frangipane tart sounds even better, it gives it an air of French sophistication. Try telling your guests that it’s “just a little plum frangipane tart I threw together” without having the smuggest face ever.

The delicious filling of this tart is gluten free, so would be perfect for celiac or gluten-sensitive friends – just make sure you find a reliable gluten free pastry. I’m in the process working out a decent gluten-free pastry, so watch this space. If you’ve got any suggestions for a GF pastry, comment below!

Plum frangipane tart:

Serves 8-10slice

  • 2 sheets frozen shortcrust pastry
  • 100g butter, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ tsp almond essence
  • 2 eggs and 1 egg yolk
  • 1 ½ cups almond meal
  • 2 large plums

pastryPreheat your oven to 180°C and grease a 35×12 cm tart tin.

Thaw your pastry until it is malleable enough to shape into your tart tin. Prick the uncooked tart shell with a fork, line with baking paper and pour baking weights in. Pop it in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove the tart from the oven, take away the baking weights and baking paper, then return to the oven for five minutes.

Make the filling while the tart is in the oven.

plumsCream together the butter and caster sugar until light and fluffy.  Add in the vanilla and almond essence, then the eggs and egg yolk, mix to combine. Add in the almond meal and give it a good mix.

Allow the tart to cool slightly before filling it.

Spoon the frangipane into the tart case and smooth out with a spatula. Don’t worry about being too precise, the filling with smooth out perfectly whilst in the oven.

plumThinly slice your plums and arrange them as you please. I slotted mine in at a slight angle so that some of the flesh was showing, giving the tart a little pop of colour and allowing the sugars in the plums to be exposed to more heat so that they’d caramelise slightly.

abovePop this back in the oven for 30 minutes so that you’re whipping it out of the oven just as your guests arrive. Allow the tart to cool before serving.

(I also used the baking time to throw on a face of makeup and attempt to tame my hair!)

 

Coconut raspberry cake with passionfruit glaze (and a big baking prize!)

nomBaking with Gab has its benefits. It gives me an excuse to cook and devour ridiculous amounts of delicious baked goods, it’s introduced me to the fantastic blogging community and it’s also created an outlet for my crazy dog lady tendencies.

And then there’s free stuff. It’s not very often that I host a giveaway, so when I do, I get pretty excited about it! The delightful people from the Cake Bake and Sweets Show have offered me a one day double pass to give away to one of my fabulous readers!

CBSS Macarons The Cakes Bakes and Sweets Show will be on at the Sydney Showground, Olympic Park on March 21-23, the winner can go on whichever day they want. Chef Duff, Dan Lepard, Adriano Zumbo and Eric Lanlard will all be there – you could be too!

There will be live demonstrations, fabulous stalls to buy baked goods and baking related products,  and free tastings. FREE TASTINGS.

The ticket allows you entry into the live demonstrations – there are so many options I literally cannot choose which demos I want to go to.

To celebrate my excitement about the Cake Bake and Sweets Show, I threw a little tea party, because that’s what I do best! The coconut, raspberry and passionfruit cake is sweet, moist and perfectly suited to a nice black cuppa.

 Coconut and raspberry cake:

  • 1 cup coconut creamslice
  • ¾  cups caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ¾ cups self-raising flour
  • 1 cup of desiccated coconut
  • ½ cup frozen raspberries

Sticky passionfruit glaze:

  • ¼  cup sugar
  • 3 passionfruit
  • 2 tbsp water

coconutPreheat your oven to 180°C. Grease and flour a 21 cm cake tin.

Mix together the coconut cream and caster sugar until the sugar has started to dissolve. Add in the eggs, flour and then coconut and mix until combined.

Gently fold in the frozen raspberries so that their colour doesn’t bleed out too much.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and pop in the oven for 40-45 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

spoonAs soon as the cake is out of the oven, pop the sugar, passionfruit and water into a small saucepan and heat over a low flame until the sugar has dissolved. Keep stirring to ensure that the mixture doesn’t burn.

When the cake has cooled slightly, run a knife around the edge of the tin to free it up, then turn it onto a cooling rack. Turn the cake the right way up, poke holes about ¾ of the way into the cake with a skewer and then spoon the passionfruit mixture over the top, spreading it as you go.

peekYou want the cake to still be warm when you’re pouring the passionfruit glaze over so that it seeps into holes. Aside from the taste, the great thing about the passionfruit glaze is that you can cover up the holes you poked in the cake earlier.

Allow the cake to cool completely before serving.

 

 

How to win:

serveTo win the tickets, you must like Baking with Gab on Facebook and then email bakingwithgab@gmail.com, telling me which part of the show you want to see most and why. Have a look here to see what the Cake Bake and Sweets Show has to offer.

Entry is open to anyone, but you must be able to make your own way to the show. Competition close Thursday March 13th at 11:59pm.

Looking forward to seeing your answers!

 

Mango macadamia icecream and freedom

slicedI’ve been very lucky these past two weeks. I was given a ridiculous amount of pears last week and my dad was given a whole bag full of mangoes. The pears were delightful – they’re so versatile and perfectly ripe right now.

Commandeering my dad’s mango bag, however, was an entirely different kind of wonderful. Mangoes are Summer, Christmas and deliciousness bundled into a little oval shape present. They’re sweet and messy and dripping with gorgeous nectar.

I’m not usually allowed to experiment with cooking mangoes because people want to eat them (greedy, right?!) and they don’t often last more than 48 hours in this house. Having the bag of them allowed me a little freedom.

Tasty, tasty freedom.

Mangoes need very little improvement, so I didn’t want to tinker with them too much. I just added sugar (a classic Baking with Gab move), macadamias and ice cream. This is like a home-made version of those moreish Weis bars.

Caramelising the mangoes intensifies the flavours because the mango flavour seeps into the brown sugar and the mango flesh becomes slightly mushier. This is a perfect dessert

Mango macadamia icecream topping

  • ¼ cup macadamias, roughly choppednom
  • 1 mango
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 4 scoops ice cream

 

 

 

mmPlace a non-stick frying pan over a high heat to warm up. Plop your macadamias straight into the pan and stir for five minutes so that they start to brown. While the macadamias are roasting, slice the cheeks off the mango and away from the seed, then cube the flesh and discard the skin.

roastedKeep stirring the macadamias as you’re cutting the mango, you don’t want the macadamias to burn.

When the macadamias are browned, remove them from the pan and wipe it out. Return the pan to the heat and cover the cooking surface with a piece of baking paper. Measure out the brown sugar onto a dinner plate and pour the pieces of mango onto the sugar. Toss to give them a good, coating.

cookPour the entire contents of the dinner plate onto the baking paper in the frying pan and let them cook for 5-8 minutes. Turn the mango pieces with tongs occasionally and give the caramelising sugar a stir so it doesn’t bubble up too much.

serveTake the gorgeous, golden mixture off the heat, quickly serve up four scoops of ice cream and scoop the mango over the top. Toss a few macadamias over the top and serve before the ice cream is completely melted.

This dessert is super easy and it’s so delicious that guests won’t believe how easy it is to throw together. You only need one pan and 12 minutes to whip this dessert up…and the baking paper means that you don’t even need to scrub the frying pan!

cupsOn a slightly funny mango-related note, the big mango which usually lives in Bowen, North Queensland has been stolen. Hopefully it’s returned, uneaten soon!