Vanilla, fig & honey cupcakes and fig deliveries


sneak peek
It’s not very often that one gets an offer of free figs. So when a very generous friend of mine messaged our group of friends offering free figs, everyone jumped at the chance. She even delivered them to our doorsteps!

image1Clearly she is a saint. If you’d like to see what this saint’s instagram looks like, click here. It’s full of beautiful photography and enviably delicious cooking dates with her Nonna.

Mango coconut pops and Summer tastes

singleThis recipe used up the last of the mangoes that I bought on my way down the NSW east coast. It was sad to see the last of the mangoes go, but these ice blocks celebrated the mangoey goodness thoroughly; the handful of ingredients and killer combination of fruits makes for a simple, delectable summer dessert.

Seriously, eating one of these makes you feel like you’re on some divine tropical island, lazing by the beach and being fed deliciously exotic fruits. Mango and coconut transport me to paradise. 

Roast peaches and Summer flavours

closePeaches and ice cream scream summer treat to me. This simple little recipe is just a slight twist on that summer classic.

I realise that in summer the last thing you want to do is have the oven on. But believe me, this little treat is so worth it. The pain of having the oven on is short-lived, and the results are delightful.

Fruit bruschetta and Christmas recipes

platesI love Christmas. I can’t even wait until December to start posting recipes, I cannot contain myself!! A few weeks ago I was sent some bunting by Louise at Illume Designs, and I have been wriggling with excitement about Christmas ever since! I’ll use anything as an excuse to put up bunting, but metallic chevron bunting just seems so festive and Christmas appropriate!

So I’ve spent the past few weeks brainstorming Christmas recipes. And Pinterest has not been short of inspiration.

Apple and rhubarb pie and produce

previewOver the weekend the boy and I went to Orange Grove Markets. I got what I needed and we grabbed a delicious bacon and egg roll for brekkie. It was a regular Sunday morning.

It wasn’t until we made our way to leave that I found this amazingly oversized rhubarb. it was so ridiculously enormous that I made The Boy pose with it in several locations until I got a photo that did it justice. (If you don’t follow me on instagram and wish to see important updates such as my giant rhubarb, click here.)

Strawberry lemon cordial and Spring!

flowersI know I’m a little late jumping on the bandwagon, but it’s Spring and I couldn’t be more thrilled.

My favourite flower in the entire world happens to be the freesia, which only rears its gorgeous little head for the shortest period of time. Spring is that time. If you’ve not seen a freesia before, I’ll give you a little crash course.

They’re small, predominantly white flowers that grow best in the wild. They like company; four or more flowers will grow, side-by-side, on the same stem. They’re trumpet shaped and tend to have shades of purple and yellow dabbed around the outer edges.

Vanilla rhubarb jam and Father’s Day

spillIt’s Father’s Day, and I’m on my way to visit my favourite father, so I’m going to keep things short and sweet. Coincidentally, that is also a perfect description of this recipe!

This rhubarb and vanilla jam is so speedy to whip up that you will wonder why your fridge is not filled with every single delicious home-made jam in the world.  You can have it made in under 20 minutes! I tend to think that the less ingredients your jam has, the better, so with four ingredients, this rhubarb and vanilla delight is a winner.

I made it for Father’s Day because my dad is a bit of a rhubarb fiend. I have vivid childhood memories of him stewing it slopping it over ice cream. Slop is exactly the sound I recall it making as he scooped it from the pan into his dessert bowl.

Sorry dad, but it never looked appetising! The beautiful, vibrant colours would leech out of the stalks and into the water, leaving everything looking a bit anaemic.

It was only recently that I re-discovered rhubarb. I like it best when it’s complimented with sweetness, like in my rhubarb glazed doughnuts, or in a lovely syrup and served with porridge, like I had for brekkie the other day.

Vanilla rhubarb jam:

Makes one cup.

  • 3 tbsp waterjam
  • 300g rhubarb, chopped
  • 1 tbsp vanilla bean paste
  • 1 cup sugar

Grab a large, heavy-bottomed pan and put the water in first, this will stop the sugar from catching on the bottom of the pan and burning.

rhubarbAdd the rhubarb, vanilla paste and sugar. I used Heilala vanilla bean paste because it’s slightly more concentrated than vanilla extract. If you’re using regular vanilla extract, add a dash extra.

Stir over a medium heat until the sugar has dissolved completely. You’ll notice the syrup start to turn a beautiful pinky-red colour.

Once the sugar has dissolved, turn the heat up to medium-high and stir constantly for 12-14 minutes.

As you’re stirring press down with your wooden spoon to get rid of any big chunks of rhubarb. When the jam has thickened and most of the liquid has disappeared, it’s done.

spoonScoop into a sterilised jar with an air tight lid and pop into the fridge to cool down and firm up.

This jam is delicious on toast, the vanilla gives it a mellow sweetness which makes it taste like rhubarb with custard!

Chocolate raspberry muffins and familiarity

previewChocolate and raspberries are such a familiar combination. One of those things that I always fall back to when I need a fail-proof result. The sweet and tart notes of the raspberries, mixed with the sophistication of the dark chocolate turn out perfect, comforting little bites of homely muffins.

I always have raspberries in my freezer. They’re an easy way to jazz up a dessert, they’re a great addition to a smoothie, and I happily munch on them straight from the freezer sometimes. Actually, the reason I whipped up this recipe was because I needed to finish off my freezer stockpile.

Crabapple crumble pie and the long weekend

samThe Easter long weekend was delightful –  I over-ate, explored some amazing woods, gained two sausage dog friends briefly, and experimented with recipes.

The over-eating was partly the fault of the Easter bunny, who is super generous every year. The rest of the over-eating was simply because I was in great company, and there is no better way to bring people together than a meal.

Vanilla fig tart and a grown up Easter

figI’ve only realised how delightful figs are in the past 18 months or so.

I never used to trust figs because they’re so squidgy and unusually coloured and lacking a core. It’s kind of funny, because those things now make them perfect fodder for my baking. They’re downright beautiful – I searched Pinterest for recipe inspiration and ended up “oohing” and “aahing” at how photogenic such an unassuming fruit could be.

They’re adorable little sacks of beauty.

Figs can be pretty expensive in Sydney, but I found a pack on special (yay!) I wanted to keep the figs as close to natural as possible and pick other flavours that would highlight their sweetness. Vanilla and blueberry make perfect partners in crime for fig.

The great thing about these tarts is that they are a perfect “grown up” option for Easter. If you’re not a big fan of chocolate eggs (I don’t understand you, but I do know you exist), a humble tart like this is a great alternative for an Easter treat. These little tarts are completely customisable – top them with whatever you want! I

Fig and blueberry tart

closeMakes 24

  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 135g butter
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 3 tbsp water

Vanilla crème patissiere

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 6 tbsp corn flour
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 cups milk
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 1 ½ tsp vanilla paste (or vanilla extract)

Toppings:

  • 2 figs
  • 100g blueberries

yolksRub together your plain flour and butter until they resemble bread crumbs. Add in the sugar and mix, then mix in the egg yolks. Make sure you mix thoroughly so that you don’t have mottled pastry. Add in the water, one tablespoon at a time – it may take slightly more or less than three tablespoons to achieve a cohesive dough.

pastryPress your dough together in a ball, cover in cling wrap and refrigerate for 15 mins.

Preheat your oven to 200°C and grab your dough from the fridge. Grease a 12 hole cupcake tin. Roll out your chilled dough to 4-5mm thickness and use a scone cutter to cute circles big enough to fit in the cupcake tin and create a small edge.

prickPrick each tart with a fork and pop them into the oven for 15 minutes.

While the tarts are in the oven, make a start on the crème patissiere.  Bring the milk, butter and vanilla to a boil in a medium saucepan. Make sure you stir the mixture constantly to avoid burning the milk. Once it’s come to a boil, turn off the heat and set the mixture to one side.

Mix the egg yolks with the sugar and cornflour in a large bowl until you have a thick paste. This mixture does the same job that store-bought custard powder does. Grab your hot milk and pour it into the egg mixture in small increments (this tempers the mixture and ensures that it won’t separate later, if you pour all the hot milk in at once, you risk burning or cooking the egg mixture), mixing well after each addition.

Once all of the milk is mixed in, you should have a warm, silky mixture. Pour it back into the milk pan and whisk it over a very low heat. Timing is crucial at this point, because you want to thicken the mixture. Whisking constantly to encourage air into the mixture, make sure you pay attention to the texture of the mixture – once the mixture reaches the consistency of soft serve ice cream, take it off the heat and keep whisking. If you leave it on the heat any longer, it will over-cook and start to look like scrambled eggs!* The residual heat in the mixture will cook the crème patissiere further, so whisk for a good five minutes before spooning it into the tart cases.

alternativesSet in the fridge for ten minutes to cool, then top with whatever Easter-appropriate toppings you like, get creative. If you prefer Easter eggs or chocolate and blueberries on your tarts, try that instead – they’ll still look great and taste delicious!

*If you do happen to over-cook the mixture, add a generous dash cold milk and whisk into the mixture until you achieve a smooth crème patissiere.

normanCompletely unrelated to figs or tarts, here is a gratuitous photo of Norman napping. He got so impatient of waiting for the crumbs as I baked the pastry shells that he snuck up onto the lounge and had a sneak sleep.