Speculoos fondant cookies and the meaning of Christmas

This time of year really gets me thinking about what Christmas means. Having been to Europe earlier in the year, I’m thinking about white Christmas, mulled wine and open fires. Of course, Australia’s Christmas is completely the opposite. Right now it’s 30+ degrees every day and lots of humidity – not quite the idyllic Christmas that most people dream of.
Christmas spice cookies with fondant (2 of 8)
But I wouldn’t have it any other way. As much as I love experiencing parts of other cultures, one of my favourite things to do is bring them home with me. This is why I made these little gems!

Vanilla cupcakes and a Christmas giveaway

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.

Very vanilla cupcakes (6 of 7)

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.

To celebrate this time of year, Heilala (pronounced hey-la-la) have made up these cute little Vanilla Posh Popcorn Packs valued at $31.95.
CO+SYR+KERN+BOX_on white
To win this pack (which includes 150ml Heilala Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, 100ml Heilala Vanilla Syrup and 250g organic corn kernels) just email baking withgab@gmail.com and tell me who you’ll share your Posh Popcorn Pack with and why. One extra entry for people who tag their mate in the WIN post on Facebook.
This competition is only open to Australian residents (sorry, international friends!) and closes on December 20th, 2015. The prize pack may have to be enjoyed after Christmas, depending on warehouse closures and the ability of the posts system close to Christmas, so winner, please be patient. This competition is completely down to chance, the winner will be chosen at random.
Good luck!!

Vanilla cupcakes

Makes 24

  • 220g butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tspn Vanilla
  • 3 egg whites
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1 cup milk

Perfect vanilla buttercream

  • 180g butter
  • 3 1/2 cups icing sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 1.5 tsp milk
  • Sprinkles, to decorate

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.

Very vanilla cupcakes (2 of 7)

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.

Very vanilla cupcakes (3 of 7)

Very vanilla cupcakes (4 of 7)

Very vanilla cupcakes (7 of 7)

Orange & poppy seed cookies and November

Movember makes me happy. Unsurprisingly, it’s not the ridiculous patches of hair that spring up (with varying degrees of success) on the men in my life that I love.

Moustache cupcakes (7 of 16)

I love that it is part of the solution to de-stigmatising men’s health problems. That sounds a little pompous, but hear me out.
The men in my family are stoic, old-fashioned creatures who hate the idea of going to the doctor until there’s a real problem (I.e. When the problem is usually worse).
Preventative doesn’t exist in their vocabulary.

Chocolate beetroot cupcakes and adventure

Beetroot cupcakes (10 of 13)

Before you think “ew, beetroot in cupcakes”, please read this! I’m going to try and convince you that these adorable little suckers deserve a place in your heart AND your baked goods.

Beetroot cupcakes (1 of 13)

I love a good adventure. Every now and then, something in my brain just clicks and I feel the need for a change. The last time it happened, I ended up in Europe on a whim (which was a completely magical result that I still need to post blogs about). My little brain snaps usually happen on a smaller scale, though. They’re not usually as costly as last-minute flights!

Caramello brownies and Australian desserts

I dreamed these brownies up in the middle of the night. I literally woke up, like a mad genius, and thought “brownies and Caramellos – who wouldn’t love that?!”Caramello brownie

When I lived in England I took any opportunity to tell people about how great Australia was – I ADORE England and I love travelling to different countries, but I’ve inherited this goofy patriotism from my mama. Jacarandas are out at the moment and I love being reminded of how stunning a place can be. I just love Australia.

Halloween mishaps and frankendoughnuts

This recipe almost didn’t happen. There were two versions of this recipe that didn’t make it to the blog (simply because they were devoured, so I couldn’t take photos of them) and when I’d made this batch and piped them all nicely into their moulds, the oven wouldn’t light.

You read right, I’ve ovened my oven oblivion. *insert crying emoji here*

halloween doughnuts four

Chocolate orange oreo milkshake and Halloween creations

I’m not usually the type to buy cookies. Ninety per cent of the time, I can pretty much guarantee that there are enough baked goods in my house/belly that I have no need for store-bought ones. But when I saw the Oreos chocolate orange Halloween creations, I couldn’t resist. Having just drooled over Terry’s Chocolate Orange, I figured it was only appropriate to continue the chocolate orange Halloween recipes. chocolate orange oreos halloween milkshake

Can I just say, this little beverage is DANGEROUS. It’s not overpoweringly sweet, and it has a subtle jaffa-like taste, which means you could easily drink the whole serving instead of sharing. And it’s quick to make.

It seriously is witchcraft.

If you’re not in the mood for Halloween, just use regular oreos, it’s equally as good.

chocolate orange oreo milkshake halloween scene above

Chocolate orange oreo milkshake

Serves 1-2

  • 8 Oreos
  • 1 1/2 cups of milk
  • 3 scoops of vanilla ice cream
  • 70g dark chocolate, melted

Blend together your oreos and ½ cup of milk together until you have a smoothish paste. Pour in your melted chocolate and mix well. Add in the ice cream and remaining milk, then blend until drinkable.

That’s it! Go forth and make milkshakes.

close up glass shot halloween chocolate orange milkshake

props skull oreo chocolate orange milkshake halloween

Halloween chocolate cheesecake and two dollar shop finds

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.

Halloween chocolate cheesecake slice side

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.

Terry’s Chocolate Orange cake and English chocolate

I have only had Terry’s Chocolate Oranges in my life for a few years. I didn’t know they existed until I was 19.

NINETEEN!

All of those years, wasted!

It was The Boy who introduced me to them. I had moved to England, met him, and was working in a fairly average job. He opened my eyes to the delights of English chocolate!


Terry’s chocolate oranges happen to be one of his favourite chocolates, so for his birthday over the weekend I knew that chocolate oranges would fit into the equation somewhere.

Citrusy earl grey cocktail and tea obsession

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!)

earl grey gin cocktail side glass