Adventures in Baking
I can’t overstate the love that I have for Ireland. The people, the dramatic landscapes, the green, green greenness of every single plant. To say that I love Ireland would simply not do it justice. I visited Ireland in 2010 because I had a cousin there (and because I had always wanted an excuse to go) and it was indescribably lush.
And those gorgeous Irish accents, don’t even get me started!
I totally understand why green is associated with St Patrick’s Day, because I had never seen so many shades of green in my life! Which is why I went full cliche with this choc-mint slice and made it a vibrant shade of green. It pained me slightly because I’m so fond of pastel hues, but I’m super happy with the result, so I’m glad I powered through!
Do you celebrate St Patrick’s Day? Maybe you like things a little less hulk-coloured? If that’s the case, check out my Guinness Cake, Baileys Bundt or Baileys Buttercream Biscuits.
Has this month gotten away from you? It has absolutely flown by for me! And I’ve been a little lax – I’ve got a backlog of recipes to share with you and I just don’t know where to begin!
These awesome little layered desserts seem like the best place to start. They’re a stunning, Summery take on a classic Eton mess, and they’re sure to impress anyone you serve them to.
I’m swooning over the berries available at the moment – they’re coming down in price a little bit because they’re so abundant, and they’re absolutely delightful. I’ve been eating berries like they’re going out of fashion.
The mangoes are amazing at the moment as well. This mango custard was a spark of inspiration that came to me as a result of having too many eggs and mangoes in the house. This is obviously not a problem for many people, but in my house it was a real head scratcher.
So, instead of the traditional cream, I thought a light, fruity custard would be a great addition to my eton messes. And so the mango custard was born.
It is legitimately so good that I had to restrain myself from drinking it.
(You’ll have some mango custard left over from this recipe, so I’d recommend drizzling it on icecream or filling doughnuts with it.)
Grab your mango flesh and pop it into a blender with the lemon juice and blend for about 30 seconds until you have a nice puree*. Even though it’s glorious, resist the urge to drink it. Put your mango puree, sugar and butter in a pyrex bowl and place over a boiling pan of water. Mix until the butter has melted, then remove the water from the heat.
Take your egg yolks, lightly beat them, then pour some of the mango mixture into the egg yolks so as not to cook the yolks. Now pour all of the egg yolk mixture into the mango mixture and mix well. Turn up the heat to high and stir for 12-15 minutes so that the mango mixture reduces slightly. Remove from the heat and set to one side. Mix together your hot water and gelatine, making sure all the granules are dissolved, then stir into the mango mixture. Pop the mixture into the fridge for at least an hour so that it cools and firms up slightly.
While the mango custard is in the fridge, make a start on the pavlova by mashing together your raspberries and sugar until they’re nice and combined – they should be part liquid, part lumps of raspberries. Set them to one side.
In a separate bowl, whip your egg whites on a medium-high speed for 1-2 minutes until the egg whites froth up slightly. Next, with the eggs still whipping, slowly pour in the castor sugar. Once you’ve poured in all of the sugar, turn up to high and whip for 5-10 minutes until your meringue is thick, glossy and holds peaks. If you rub some of the meringue between your fingers, it should be smooth – if it is gritty, mix for a little longer.
Preheat your oven to 120C and line a baking tray with baking paper and set to one side.
Mix the cornflour into the meringue, then the white vinegar until just combined.
Grab a dinner plate and trace its outline on the baking paper with a pencil. Flip it upside down so that the pencil doesn’t come into contact with the meringue. To help your baking paper stay in place while you spread the meringue, dab a small amount of meringue under each of the corners of baking paper.
Scoop out half of the meringue and spread it in the outline of the plate. Dribble some of the raspberry mixture out over the meringue, then swirl with a fork. Repeat with the remaining meringue, then the remaining raspberry. Pop in the oven for 80-90 minutes, until the top loses its stickiness. Set to one side to cool for at least 15 minutes.
To assemble, break apart your meringue (it should be a lovely mix of crusty outside and fluffy inside) and start layering. I went berries, mango custard, pavlova, repeat, but you can do it in whatever order you fancy.
* I used the George Foreman Mix & Go Pro, which was loaned to me by my new friends at Appliance Kitchen. I actually didn’t know that George Foreman had branched out of grills, so was pleasantly surprised by this little blender!
Who made a resolution to get fit for 2016? I commend you, if you did. I know that most people make healthy resolutions, usually, but I plan on challenging myself with my baking instead. I’m going to take more classes – there is no better way to get inspired than to learn from experts. I’m taking a cookie painting class in two weeks and will report back. Hopefully you’ll be seeing tiny edible masterpieces soon!
And I’m going to work on my photography as well. If you’ve got any recommendations for cooking and/or food photography classes, send them my way, I’m all ears.
I’m also going to make Daisy a super obedient dog. The Boy and I have been struggling with her behaviour (she’s an angel for us, but a massive jerk to strangers!) so we’re going to take her to a doggy specialist!
I’m also verbalising more of my plans. Or writing them here, at least. Because that way I’m less likely to forget about them/change my mind when they get too hard. I read recently that humans find it harder to go back on their plans once they’ve told them to other people. So let’s try and use that to my advantage.
AND I’m going to give my props the loving they deserve – I’ve got a rapidly growing collection and I neglect the oldies sometimes. Expect these floral tea cups to be making regular appearances, they were a Christmas present from my gorgeous mother and I’m smitten.
The baking side of my resolutions I’ve already started. This winner of a recipe, which I appropriated from a gorgeous cook book I was given for Christmas, is the perfect start to my new year.
Now I’ve only got to get started on all of those other things I just committed to…
Is anyone else still thinking about Christmas? We had so much food on Christmas Day that there are still leftovers hanging around. We had to toss out the last of the Christmas bush, which made me rather sad – as beautiful as it is, it was definitely past its best.
The last of the ham was finished yesterday, chocolate covered nuts are readily available for mid-afternoon snacking, and there are lollies everywhere! Specifically, candy canes. If you’ve got some of those red and white striped beauties sitting around the house, I would thoroughly recommend using them up with this recipe.
We also have a tonne of cream in our house. Deliciously thick cream that I was lucky enough to be invited to try by Anchor Cream. And, rather than using it to drown my leftover Christmas pudding, I thought I’d put it to good use.
This recipe is cool and refreshing and requires very little effort as it’s a no-bake cheesecake. It’s an entertainer’s dream – delicious, stunning and so simple! Even if you haven’t got candy canes, you can use mints of any type, or leave them out completely. Did I mention that it only has six ingredients? 6 ingredient cheesecake – get this in your belly right now!
Makes: 4 servings
Blitz your mint slices in a food processor for about two minutes, until they’re crumbs. Set to one side.
Beat your cream cheese at a medium speed for 3-4 minutes, until smooth. Add in a small amount of your cream and mix it well with the cream cheese. Pour in the rest of your cream and continue to beat for your cream for 2 minutes. I’m a little in love with the fact that the Anchor Cream bottles have cup markings on them so that you can pour straight from the bottle into your mixture – they’re a baker’s dream come true!
Sift in the icing sugar and whip on a high speed for 3 minutes.
Melt your chocolate and slowly stir it into your creamy mixture. If the mixture is lumpy, pour it through a strainer. Set to one side.
Grab your candy canes and crush them – leave some large chunks, a bit of size variation is nice. I did this by unwrapping the candy canes, popping them in snap lock bags and hitting them with a heavy knife.
Layer 3 1/2 tbsp of mint slice crumbs in the base of your glasses and compact lightly with the back of a soup spoon. Pour your cheesecake mixture about halfway up each glass and allow the air bubbles to escape – pop them with a spoon if they need help. Sprinkle 1 1/2 tbsp of mint slice crumbs evenly over your cheesecake mixture to create a little seam, then top with more cream cheese mixture.
Repeat with remaining three glasses, then sprinkle candy cane shards and any leftover mint slice crumbs over the top and set in the fridge for two hours.
Tip: Use slim, straight sided glasses so that you can layer to your heart’s content.
If you’re after some Anchor Cream of your own, you can find it at Woolworths. Keep an eye out for the cow on the packaging!
If you’re a fan of choc-mint recipes, I’ve got some doozies for you:
I. LOVE. CHRISTMAS!
Yesterday was officially the first day of Summer, which means I am positively squirming at the prospect of Christmas. In my house, the first day of December also means that we can start putting Christmas decorations out.
The decorations have surfaced, our little nativity babushka has been positioned…all we need is a tree.
I’m not talking those little, neat, plastic ones that most Australian families trot out year after year, I’m talking full blown, real life Christmas tree. They shed everywhere and the dogs pick fights with the low hanging branches, but I would not have it any other way.
I’m hoping we get a tree this weekend…I’ll keep you updated.
So, to kick off this exciting time of year, I’m sharing a perfect, simple little festive treat and a giveaway!! I used Heilala Vanilla in these cupcakes, and I could not recommend them more highly. Their vanilla products are amazingly delicious, and if you follow their Instagram you actually learn things. For example, did you know that vanilla has to be hand pollinated?
Just let that sink in a little.
Those delightfully fragrant stalks take A LOT of work before they make it to your kitchen.
Preheat your oven to 170°C and line your cupcake tins with patty pans.
Cream together your butter and sugar until pale. Add in your vanilla and egg whites. Sift in your flour and bicarb and mix well. Add in the milk and mix until just combined. Pop in the oven for 20-25 minutes, until very lightly browned.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
While the cupcakes cool, whip your icing up. Put your butter and one cup of icing sugar into your mixer and mix well. Add in the remaining icing sugar, followed by the milk and vanilla bean paste.
Scoop your buttercream into a piping bag and pipe onto your cupcakes. Apply sprinkles liberally and serve with a nice hot cuppa.
It’s worth noting that these cupcakes have no bicarb in them – if you want them to be a little taller, add 1 tsp bicarb to them.
As you may have surmised, I’m not the girl who goes for gore. I don’t do horror films, gross things, or even dark colours, really. I’m pastel-hued, floral, I seek out beauty and positivity.
Each year I struggle with Halloween. I don’t want a severed finger on my cupcake, brain-shaped petit fours or spaghetti that looks like intestines. I very much admire the talent of the people who create them (and the stomachs of the people who eat them!) but I just can’t do it. Continue reading “Halloween chocolate cheesecake and two dollar shop finds”
I literally cannot remember the last time I went a whole day without having tea. Whether it’s hot, cold, or in my food, I’m a sucker for anything tea-related. When I was in England recently, I carried tea bags around with me. I also based a couple of my city stops on where I wanted to buy tea from (hello Betty’s and Daman Freres!)
Continue reading “Citrusy earl grey cocktail and tea obsession”
It dawned on me recently that I’ve been home from my holiday for nearly a month.
And I haven’t posted ONCE. I’m a bad blogger, I apologise.
I’ve been super productive in the kitchen working on various bits and pieces, I just haven’t had the chance to put it all down. So to kickstart my blogging once more I’m putting a twist on an old favourite. Continue reading “Cinnamon and date scrolls and familiarity”