Macaroons and failure

The first (and last) time I made macaroons I was distracted. Never be distracted with macaroons. The first batch I put in the oven sunk, the second batch burned. I got cranky at the idea of macaroons and have not attempted them since. After two years, I decided it was time to try again!

I don’t have a good track record with meringues, so I was super conscious of doing things as perfectly as possible.

I wiped Penelope’s bowl down with a lemon to eliminate any fats or oils that could be lingering from its last use. I washed the lemon juice off and dried the bowl, then let it sit for a while to ensure that no moisture had hung about. I don’t usually have much patience for things like this, but I was determined to get these macaroons made!

IMG_5260When you crack your eggs don’t let any egg yolk enter the whites, it will dash all your efforts in cleaning the bowl so thoroughly because it will affect how the whites whip up. Be vigilant!!

I was so determined that this was going to be a successful macaroon making session that I planned three flavours. This was going to be a macaroonathon.

So I managed to make meringue with no problems. I was actually really impressed that I had made successful meringue. That is the extent of my success with macaroons. My first batch were lumpy and did not hold a nice shape. I’ll be honest, they looked like little lumps of poo. My second bunch was much more promising. IMG_5262The mixture was smooth and shiny, it glinted at me from the bowl even after I put the pink food colouring in. I tapped the bottom of the baking tray to remove excess air bubbles and I got prematurely excited. They were perfect circles, no lumps in the mixture – they were smooth, glossy little discs on the baking paper.

And then something went wrong. They expanded too much, they deflated, they looked like pancakes.

Poos and pancakes. Great.IMG_5312

Is it too much to ask that I produce one successful macaroon? My creations tasted fab (which made it worth the time I put into double sifting the tant pour tant, the almond meal and icing sugar mixture) and they formed the shell but remained soft on the inside. They just didn’t look right.

One of my pet hates is cooks who put too much emphasis on aesthetics and ignore taste, but even I have my limits. These thing tasted fine, but I would never serve them! Not even a sprinkling of icing sugar could mask these abominations.

Luckily I had friends to mourn the macaroons disaster with me. We chomped on ill-formed marshmallowy-pancakey-pooey-things and had a laugh. This isn’t the end though! For the moment I’m going to recommend you leave it to the experts. Go visit Zumbo or your local patisserie.

Macaroons: 1  Gabby: 0 – they’ve won this round.

Until next time, macaroons.

Yoghurt Berry cake and cooking credentials

You may be reading this blog wondering what credentials I have to be advising people about their cooking (valid question) – the answer is: none. I have no formal culinary qualifications, I just love it. I’m a strong believer in doing what you love – I love writing, pretty things and cooking, so writing a cooking blog seemed like a sensible choice.

flowersWhen I say cooking, I mainly mean baking. I have a near insatiable sweet-tooth, so I gravitate towards cooking things which are sweet (and often visually pleasing!) I will try to blog about savoury dishes as well, but I can’t promise they’ll be exciting – nobody gets excited over spag bol!

Cooking (baking especially) should make you happy. If it doesn’t, you’re doing it wrong. There are always going to be times when you can’t fathom getting home from work/uni/whatever else you do to slave over an oven, but it doesn’t have to be this way.

Find recipes that excite you. Experiment. Make something up! You don’t have to be a professional to make something amazing.

Not everyone gets as excited about cooking as I do, but I like to think that they have it within them somewhere.

A friend of mine loves coming to my house because there are always left overs. She goes crazy over a simple chocolate slice or mashed potato, but refuses to believe that she can replicate them in her house.  She can. I’m going to make her understand this even if it pains me! You can cook as well.

This recipe is super simple and works warm or cold. It’s great for entertaining – it’s quick to make and it makes people happy! It works with most fruits as well. If you don’t have fresh berries, use frozen ones. Nectarines cut into wedges look really effective if you use a lamington tin instead of round cake tin.

sliceSuper simple Berry Yoghurt Cake

  • 125g butter
  • ¾ cup caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1 cup self-raising flour
  • 3/4 cup vanilla yoghurt
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • Icing sugar, to serve

Preheat oven to 180°C fan-forced. Grease a 23cm round cake tin.

Beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.

mixtureAdd eggs, beating to combine. Mix in your plain flour, then the yoghurt. If you only have greek yoghurt in the fridge (like I did), add a teaspoon of vanilla to the mixture as well. Add the self-raising flour and mix until combined. This is quite a thick mixture, don’t worry if it’s a little hard to mix. Spread mixture into your greased cake tin.

tinThe cake tin I’m using has been well-loved. It has held many of my mother dearest’s crème caramels and cakes. As a result, it’s a little worn (that’s being polite) and has a tendency to cling onto cakes when you want to remove them. To combat this I simply trace the base of the tin onto baking paper, cut the round out and place it over the greased base. Problem solved.

frozen berriespressPress a few berries gently into the mixture, but sprinkle most of them across the top of it and then pat them down gently with your hand. If your oven is prone to over-browning things, cover the cake with tin foil two thirds of the way through cooking.

Bake for 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

cake
Remove from oven and let it stand for ten minutes before serving. Sprinkle with icing sugar and add a dollop of cream or yoghurt to finish.

off centreDon’t worry if you take this cake out a little too soon, my favourite part of any cake is the squidgy bit right in the centre where the heat hasn’t completely cooked the mixture. I’m a sucker for cake mixture, and the centre of this cake is glorious!

trio

 

 

 

 

Your finished product should look even better than mine because I foolishly used 2 cups of plain flour instead of one plain and one self raising. It should look more like this (I instagrammed this cake when I made it about a month ago.) We all make mistakes!

 

 

 

Pesto mushrooms and rainy days

birdieThe rain in Sydney at the moment is ridiculous. It’s perseverant, constant, irritating. Patches of blue sky are hard to come by and you can’t help but be a little more sedentary than usual.

Yesterday, out of the blue came a little visitor. He was wet and most perturbed by the rain and sought shelter on our balcony. He was a shock of colour in great contrast to the dreary, rainy weather and had such character that it made me smile. Mother darling and I cooed and found some grain bread for him to munch on, so he stuck around for an hour before flying off.

nom

Lo and behold, today he has returned! I hope this little Rosella continues to visit during this rainy weather, it does you good to be reminded of the brighter things in life when the weather seems hell-bent on making you mopey. Obviously the promise of good food has brought him back (what a clever little birdie), which is quite human of him!

In honour of the little birdie friend, here is a simple but stunning dish. There’s lots of colour, lashings of flavour and a great deal of character. Chase away those rainy blues with some pesto-stuffed mushrooms.

Pesto stuffed mushroomsclose cooked

  • 180g sourdough bread
  • 6 large mushrooms
  • 2/3 cup basil pesto
  • Sprig of basil (optional)
  • 250g cherry truss tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 180°C and spray a large baking tray with oil.

tomatoesCut your truss tomatoes into three or four sections, place on the tray and spray with some oil. Pop them in the oven for 10 minutes while you start on the mushrooms.

mushrooms

Give your mushrooms a quick wash to remove excess dirt and remove their stalks. Set them aside to make the pesto filling.

Cut the crusts off your sourdough and discard them. Chop the crust-less pieces into thirds and blitz them in a food processor for about four minutes (or until they resemble bread crumbs.) Season breadcrumbs with salt and pepper, then add in thepesto and mix to combine. If you’re using jarred pesto (like I did), try to get good quality, as this is one of the main flavours! Throw in some chopped basil and give it one final mix before putting it into your mushrooms.

stuffed mushroomsYour mushrooms should be mostly dry now – stuff a generous amount of pesto filling into the mushroom’s hollow and season with salt and pepper. Arrange them in the tray amongst the tomatoes and bake for another 15 minutes.

Remove from the oven and drizzle the tomatoes with balsamic vinegar. To serve, top the mushrooms with parmesan shavings or pine nuts and top the tomatoes with the excess liquid left in the pan.cooked

As well as using up leftover bread from Saturday morning, these mushies are vegan as well…as long as you don’t serve them with parmesan shavings like I did!

ABC Pudding and breakfast

Pudding for breakfast? Don’t mind if I do! This delightful little pudding has the makings of a great dessert (rich egg custard and brioche), but also the potential to be great breakfast fare (brioche and apple). I’m having it as a rather indulgent brekkie this morning and I can highly recommend it. I baked it last night and left the flavours to infuse further in the fridge overnight. It is just as delicious and impressive when it was fresh out of the oven.

Adaptable AND scrumptious – what more could you ask of a recipe?

It also uses up the brioche made with this recipe, so what are you waiting for? Get baking!

ABC* pudding

*Apple, Brioche and Custard, if you were wonderingslice

  • 6 apples
  • 130g butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 ½ cup cream
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 350g brioche
  • 50g butter

applesPeel and core you apples, then dice them into 2cm cubes. Put 80g of the butter in a big saucepan over medium heat and add the diced apples. Stir until the butter has dissolved, then cover for ten minutes. Check on them every few minutes and give them a stir.

eggsCombine the vanilla, sugar, cream and milk and set to one side. Take your apples off the heat and allow them to cool. Slice up your brioche and butter the pieces liberally. Cover the outside of a 23cm tin with foil to prevent leakage – if you skip this step the egg mixture will seep out and burn the bottom of your oven! Line the foiled tin with baking paper.brioche

 


Cover the base of the tin with brioche pieces. You may need to cut them so that they fit better, don’t worry if it looks messy. Pour the apple pieces over the bread, spreading it as evenly as possible and top with more brioche pieces. You essentially have a really large apple sandwich. Spoon the egg mixture over the big sandwich, taking care not to pour it in between the baking paper and the tin. Set the tin to one for 30-45 minutes so the liquid can soak in. The longer you leave it, the softer the bread will be.
layerpour

Once your mixture has soaked sufficiently, preheat the oven to 170°C and pop it in the oven for an hour. The pudding is finished when you press down on the brioche and liquid no longer rises to the top.

Serve with a sprinkling of icing sugar or a dollop of cream.

abc puddingclose up

 

 

 

 

 

Brioche and beginnings

My new mixer (beautiful beast that it is) has prompted much reflection. I debated what to mix in it first. I didn’t want it to be something boring, but I didn’t want to make something really fussy (who does?).Penelope

And so I’ve chosen a recipe that comes highly recommended from a fellow baking enthusiast. This recipe is not mine, but has been tried and tested in mixers that are not my own.

In this recipe I used the bread hook, and it really has me hooked (sorry for the bad pun.) This mixer does all the work for you! I’ve had a food processor before, but the mixer seems much gentler and thorough. I’m not saying everyone should have one – this recipe, as with all the recipes I post, can be done with a bowl, a wooden spoon and a little muscle – the mixer just cuts down on physical exertion…it appeals to my inner sloth.

I’m looking forward to using my KitchenAid for new recipes and old ones too. I have a habit of naming things, I’ll hopefully have come up with a name for the mixer by the next post. I’m thinking Penelope at the moment, but that might have too many syllables…suggestions?

Sort-of-speedy briochecake like

  • 2 1/3 cups plain flour (use bread flour if you’ve got it)
  • 1 sachet instant dry yeast
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 45g butter, softened
  • Egg wash (1 egg and 1tsp of milk)

Don’t preheat the oven yet, you’ve got a while before this deliciousness needs to go into the oven. Combine the flour and yeast. Add
bread hookin your eggs, milk, sugar and salt and mix them to combine. Continue to mix for a further five minutes, adding your butter in slowly. If you’re doing this by hand, make sure your butter is really soft (but not melted!) to make the mixing easier.

Once your butter is incorporated mix the dough for about eight minutes, or until the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. If you’re using a bread hook like I was, this only takes three minutes on a medium setting.

stuck
Grease that paper!

Line a tray with enough baking paper to envelop the dough and grease the paper. I mean it when I say grease the paper, this dough is sticky. I didn’t grease my paper and I regretted it.  Wrap your dough in the baking paper and cover with a tea towel. Put the tray in a nice warm place for 2-3 hours and allow it to get all warm and risen. It should just about double in size.

I put mine in front of the heater (much to Norman’s annoyance), but this was just me being impatient. Ideally you would leave brioche to rise overnight then refrigerate briefly the next morning, ain’t nobody got time for that though.

I waited two and a half hours before I succumbed to the excitement and threw the mixture into a greased loaf tin.

When you’ve pre-heated your oven to 160°C got your dough pressed into the tin, whisk up the egg wash to brush over every corner of the brioche top. Norman loves it when I need an egg wash, because he gets the leftovers.

spottedyum

Bake for 30-35 minutes. Turn on the fan in your oven during the last five minutes if you’re not getting a nice brown top.

bread and pear
sliced pearSlice thickly and enjoy! Brioche is rich and cake-like, but can be eaten at any time of the day and suits sweet or savoury dishes and eaten warm or cold. My sweet tooth got the better of me and I topped mine with pear and chocolate, a failsafe combination.

I’ve got a brioche-based recipe coming up soon, so stay tuned!
ready

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

Chocolate custard tart and winter weather

It is heater weather at the moment, which is a perfect excuse for me to bake; I love filling the house with warm, delicious smells! This custard tart is delicious served warm or cold, and tastes just as delicious one or two days later…if it lasts that long.

The cinnamon in the chocolate custard gives it a little kick of warmth, which is delightful as the need for electric blankets and heaters increases. Norman is relishing the new heater in our house – he stands so close to it that I worry about him singeing his fur! If Norman was allowed chocolate I’m sure he would demolish this custard tart!

eyesyawn

Chocolate custard tart:

  • 2 sheets ready-made shortcrust pastry (even though I used puff)slice
  • ½ cup caster sugar
  • 3 free-range egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • 250ml/9fl oz whole milk
  • 100g/3½oz dark chocolate
  • 1 tbsp cocoa
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 250g strawberries

Preheat your oven to 200°C and grease a shallow 26 cm pie dish.

pastryDrape your sheets of pastry over your pie dish so that they cover as much of it as possible. This recipe is probably more suited to shortcrust pastry, but I was craving puff pastry! Trim the edges so and use the excess to fill in any gaps that may remain. Press together the pastry at any point where there is a join. Cover the pie with baking paper and pop it into the oven with either baking weights or rice to weight it down for 15 minutes.

I love my baking weights, I think they’re beautiful!baking weights

While the pastry is baking, whisk the sugar, eggs and cornflour together in a bowl and set them to one side.

Put the milk in a small pan along with the chocolate, cocoa and cinnamon over a medium heat. Once the ingredients have combined turn the heat up and bring chocolate mix to boil. Allow to boil for about two minutes, stirring it regularly so it doesn’t burn, then remove from heat.

Take your pastry out the oven and set it to one side to cool.

Allow the chocolate mixture to cool for five minutes before adding the egg mixture to the pan and returning it to the heat. Whisk the chocolate mixture to remove any lumps and allow it to thicken. Remove the custard from the heat and allow it to cool slightly.

chocolatePour the warm custard into your base, (spreading it out as evenly as possible) and return it to the oven for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, chop the tops off the strawberries and slice them thinly in preparation for when the tart comes out of the oven. When you do remove the tart from the oven, work quickly, fanning the strawberries out around the tart, making sure each slice overlaps the last one slightly.

strawbs

As you’re doing this, press them into the custard lightly so that they stay in place.

overlaptart

To serve you can glaze with a syrup made from 1 tbsp strawberry jam and ¼ cup water heated over the stove and brushed onto the strawberries, or simply sprinkle with icing sugar.

wholeflowers

Baby Baklava Gems

This week I’ve been trying to be super frugal and use up excess ingredients left over from previous baking adventures. I shared my chocolate orange cupcakes to help you use up orange rind left over from the orange and kidney bean salad, I made the bejewelled orange syrup cake after buying too much trail mix, and now I’m combining both to bring you baby baklava gems.

These little gems are perfect for last-minute entertaining. You can make, cook and serve them in about half an hour AND they’re delicious. I like making them in tiny muffin tins because they’re just big enough for one bite, but they can be made in bigger muffin tins as well. They’re a bit of a twist on the normal tray style baklava too.

Mine isn’t a traditional baklava because my trail mix had chocolate and cranberries in it as well as nuts. Experiment – keep the quantities the same, but substitute in different nuts or dried fruits!

Just to add to the hard sell I’m doing, they’re also vegan-friendly! Until about six months ago I didn’t realise that some vegans don’t eat honey (go on, call me ignorant), so I’ve come up with an alternative to the usually honey-laden syrup.

Baby baklava gemsset

  • 130 g trail mix
  • 50g walnuts
  • 1 tsp water
  • 6 sheets filo pastry

Syrup:

  • Juice of one orange
  • 1/4  cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 chunky strips of orange rind
  • 4 cloves

Preheat oven to 170°C and grease a 24 cup mini-muffin tray with spray oil. Butter works well too, I just find it fiddly when the cups are so small.Mixture

Put your trail mix, walnuts and water into a food processor and blitz them on a high speed for about four minutes until they’re chopped. I like my baklava filling a little bit coarse, but if you want it a finer, keep them in for longer. I add the teaspoon of water because it ensures the nuts don’t fly around the food processor as much. Also, when you’re cooking the baklava, the water keeps your mix from drying out too much. Set your mixture to one side.

Lay out your first sheet of filo pastry on a clean surface and spray it lightly with oil. Place the second sheet of pastry over the oiled one and spray it with oil too. Repeat until you’ve used all six sheets of pastry.

stripsCut lengths of the pastry as long as your muffin tin and lay them over the tin, covering the holes. This helps you get an idea of how much pastry you need per cup. squares

Cut your pastry strips to size, pushing the filo squares into the cups as you go along. Try to push them down into the cup so that you get four points rising from the cup and decent cavity to fill with your nut mixture.

Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the pastry is crisp.

syrupWhile the pastry is cooking, juice one orange and put it in a pan with the water and sugar over a medium heat. Make sure you wash your orange skin before cutting the strips of rind, some fruits are sprayed with various chemicals and this can make them give off a bitter taste when boiled. Add in your washed rind and the cloves, stirring them in until the sugar is dissolved.

The mixture of the cloves and orange is delightful, your kitchen will smell delicious! Turn up the heat and bring it rapidly to a boil so that it starts to thicken. Stir the syrup constantly so that it doesn’t burn.

Whip the syrup off the heat, remove the rind and cloves and set it aside to cool for five minutes. In this time, scoop your trail mix into the awaiting filo cups. Now spoon the warm syrup over the baklava gems. If you’ve got the time and patience, you can also brush the edges of the filo with extra syrup.

They’ll be sticky and glossy and fragrant – I cannot fault these beauties.

baklava

baklava 2

Rewards and caramel slice

SpoutAs a little reward for starting this blog I treated myself to a tea set that I did not need. Technically I bought it before I even started posting words on this blog, but I had resolved to finally start it, and I figured that was good enough to deserve a reward. In my defence, I have never owned a full tea set!

And this was a thing of such beauty that after knowing of its existence,  I don’t think I could have survived a single day longer without it.

Aren’t humans funny creatures? I got to wondering whether other species reward themselves like we do. Does a dog ever give itself five more minutes in front of the heater after it feels it has barked sufficiently at a potentially threatening bird? Do birds commend themselves on especially sing-song chirps by finding a new leaf to furnish the nest with?

I don’t think they do. We are unique. And my tea set is a masterpiece.Teacup

How many people can say they drink tea with Monet ladies?

I have no desire to promote the make of the set (because I’m not being paid to do this!), but I will show it off in all of its fabulousness by including it in photos to accompany this week’s recipe.

tea setThis is a food blog, so I should talk about the caramel slice now! I find few things more rewarding than sweetened condensed milk, which is why I consider this recipe a little treat. The Boy’s family call caramel slice Millionaire’s Short Bread, which I just love – it makes it sound like even more of an indulgence!

I like the proportions of this recipe, it’s got similar amounts of base and caramel and just a thin covering of chocolate– this doesn’t mean that yours has to be as well. The Boy likes his caramel slice big on base, some people like lots of chocolate on top. Bake it once and play around with the proportions the next time!

Twice-baked caramel slice

sliceBase:

  • 1 ½ cups plain flour
  • 125g butter, melted
  • ½  cup sugar

Caramel filling

  • 70g butter
  • 400g can sweetened condensed milk
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup

Topping

  • 200g dark cooking chocolate
  • 1 teaspoons vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 180°C  and line a 20cm x 20cm tin with baking paper.

Place the flour and sugar in a bowl and mix to combine. Melt your butter in the microwave and mix it into your dry ingredients.

Butter

Melted butter

Press the mixture into your lined tin with your fingers, then roll it out flat with a floured glass.

biscuit base

Pop it in the oven to bake for 20 minutes. It’s a pale biscuit, so it won’t brown overly – don’t worry, after 20 minutes it is definitely ready. Remove base from the oven and take it out so that it cools.

As it’s cooling, make a start on the caramel filling.dripPut your butter and sweetened condensed milk in a small pan over a medium flame and allow the butter to melt, stirring regularly. Add in the golden syrup and brown sugar. Once the sugar has dissolved turn up the heat so that the caramel comes to a slow boil. Stir consistently for 6-8 minutes as it bubbles away – mind it doesn’t burn. Take it off the heat and allow it to cool before pouring it over the cooled base.

Ensure that your base has cooled sufficiently before pouring the caramel over, otherwise it will seep into the base and ruin the layered effect that you want!

Spread the caramel evenly over the base and return it the oven for 15 minutes so that the caramel will set properly. When you remove it from the oven the caramel should have formed a skin – it’s ready to go into the fridge now.

Pop it in the fridge while you melt the chocolate in the microwave. Put it in for 20-30 second intervals and give it a stir after each time so that it doesn’t burn. Once its completely cooled add the oil and give it a good stir. The oil gives it an extra glossy finish and also makes it a little easier to cut.
fridge

Spread the chocolate over the caramel and return it to the fridge for about an hour. 

This rich little slice should give you about 16 serves, depending on how generous your slices are! Beware, it’s sickeningly good!

Chocolate orange cupcakes and resourcefulness

In the last post I mentioned that I’d hold onto the orange rind that was leftover after the Orange and Kidney Bean Salad – here is the reason why you shouldn’t throw those delicious peelings out! After making the salad I was left with the rind of two oranges – I used about one orange’s worth of rind in this recipe, but it only yields about  eight cupcakes, so I highly recommend doubling this recipe and using up two orange’s worth. I love finding ways to make the most out of fruit and vegetables because it means you waste less, but you also make more of an effort to get creative.

IMG_4336The Boy is a big Terry’s Chocolate Orange fan. He introduced them to me (not sure whether I should love or loathe him for this) and I couldn’t believe how amazing the flavour combination was. If I could get all my nutritional needs out of Chocolate Oranges, I would… sadly, that is not possible. At least in this recipe you’re getting some fruity goodness. One might even venture so far as to say that it was healthy.

Might.

Regardless of how healthy this is, it’s delicious AND it doesn’t use any butter. I used sour cream in place of butter for this recipe because it gives it a denser, more decadent texture.

Chocolate Orangecupcake

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp bicarb
  • 1/4 cup sour cream*
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 60g dark chocolate
  • 1 egg

Icing:

  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 50g butter
  • 4 tbsp orange juice
  • zest of half an orange

*If you’ve not got any sour cream in you can always use the same amount of butter, but I think these treats deserve better than that – it’s just a smidgen of sour cream!

Preheat the oven to 100°C and grease up your cupcake tin. If you’re lazy like me, use silicone bakeware and you won’t have to grease anything. Stir in the egg and sour cream and combine it as well as you can. The mixture will be a bit dry at this point, so it’s okay if it’s looking crumbly.

Put a small pan filled with water onto the stove and start to boil the water. Set a heatproof bowl over the pan and put your chocolate and milk into it, stirring them to combine. When you have what is essentially chocolate milk, resist the urge to drink it and take it off the heat for five minutes so that it cools.

Add the chocolate milk mixture to the dry ingredients and stir to combine. pans

Pour into your cupcake tin and pop them in the often for 15-20 minutes. As they’re cooking make a start on your icing. Beat the icing sugar and butter together. Add in the orange juice and all of your zest – usually I would juice an orange myself, but for such a small amount I cheated and got this juice out of the carton. If the mixture is too runny or dry, fix this by adding more icing sugar or more orange juice, respectively.

zestRemove the cupcakes from the oven when a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Let them cool properly before you start to ice them. I was slightly impatient, which meant my icing oozed deliciously off the sides – no complaints here, just an observation!

Top your cupcakes with a little more of the zest so they pack a nice orangey punch and serve up with a big cuppa.