Queen of Hearts Tart (White chocolate cheesecake)

I’ve got a friend’s birthday coming up soon and I’m trying to put together a few recipes to make her party special. It will be a high tea style thing because she’s not a big fan of birthdays. I can’t understand why she doesn’t love birthdays, but I’m loving the challenge of finding recipes that will impress her without seeming too celebratory.

I’m keeping plans a little bit secret, so I won’t blab too much. Keep an eye out for her birthday post later this week, I have a feeling that it’s going to be great!

Before you start the recipe, ensure you’ve got a syringe. Like the ones you give kids medicine with. It sounds odd, but it’s a really simple decorating tool.

I appropriated this recipe from one I found at Cooking Classy.

White chocolate cheesecake tart:punch glass (1024x683)

  • 2 sheets shortcrust pastry
  • 300g cream cheese
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 ½ tsp lemon juice

Raspberry puree

  • 1 1/2 cups frozen raspberries
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • ¼ cup cold water

Grease six tart tins. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
strainPut your frozen raspberries in a small saucepan over a medium heat and sprinkle the sugar in. When the raspberries start to defrost, add the cornflour and water. Stir it often so that it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan and burn. When the raspberries have broken down fully, allow the mixture to come to a boil and thicken for about two minutes. Remove your puree from the heat and put it through a strainer to get rid of all the seeds.strained

It’s going to look a little bit like something from a bad horror film – all red and gloopy, but it’s delicious. Set your puree aside, you’ll need it in about ten minutes.

Cut your pastry into squares and fit them into your tart tins. You’ll need to do this in two batches, the recipe makes about 12. Pop them into the oven for 10 minutes so that the pastry cooks slightly – you may want to weight them down with baking weights to stop it from bubbling up.

like creamWhile the tarts cook, beat the cream cheese and sugar together until fluffy in a large mixing bowl (this will take about one minute.) Mix in your egg and egg white, then the vanilla and lemon juice. Melt your white chocolate and stir the cream into the chocolate. When the chocolate and cream are completely combined, add them to the cream cheese mixture and mix thoroughly. It should be a similar consistency to whipped cream – don’t worry, it will cook into a more cheesecakey consistency.

Remove the tart cases from the oven and allow them to cool. Take them out of their cases and put your second batch of cases in to cook. When your second lot of tart dough has come out of the oven and cooled, prepare to put your cheesecake mixture in.

syringeSpoon the mixture so that the tart cases are about ¾ full (the mixture will rise slightly as it cooks.) Get out your syringe and prepare to get crafty! Grab your bowl of raspberry puree and suck up as much as you can into the syringe. I’d advise you to keep the nozzle moving so you don’t suck up much air, because air bubbles are annoying. Ensure that the tops of your tarts are as smooth as possible and inject small circles of raspberry into them. Don’t crowd the circles because you’ll elongate them later to make the hearts. Once you’ve put circles in all of them, get a toothpick and run it through the centre of each circle in a continuous line. You may want to wipe the toothpick after each tart to make cleaner lines.spotsswirl

Don’t worry if they’re not completely neat, as long as you run your toothpick through the centre of each circle, they’ll look heart-like. Little tricks like using the syringe or a piping bag may seem fiddly, but get easier with practice, and give your baked goods a professional finish.norman watched

Bake tarts back in the oven for 15-20 mins. Take them out of the oven and allow them to cool completely before serving. They’ll set more as they cool, so don’t rush them by eating them warm!

trio

Father’s day cupcake idea

My dad is a pretty good guy. He put up with me in my argumentative years when I was annoying and stubborn (actually, I don’t think much has changed) and he still loves me despite the way we’re prone to disagree on matters.

The thing that many people notice about my dad is his beard. He’s a beardy man, always has been.

I was 16 before I knew what my father’s top lip looked like.

He raised money for Shave for a Cure and promised that he would shave his head and beard in return for donations. I don’t think he, or anyone else for that matter, honestly realised how big a deal this was!

He raised his money and the night dawned. His time for the clippers came with much excitement,. The clippers started at the head, skipped the eyebrows(!), devoured his beard, and finally munched up his moustache.mo

I spoke to him immediately afterwards and was fixated by the funny flap of skin that now resided below his nose. It was pink and fleshy, comically paler than the rest of his face. I watched the flap stretch and wriggle as dad laughed and chatted. I wondered what he was thinking – was his face cold without all of that covering? I can only assume it was.

He’s grown the beard and moustache back. I haven’t seen that flap since I was 16, and I kind of like it that way. Familiarity is comfortable, right?

In honour of my dad’s facial hair, this year, seven years after I laid eyes upon his top lip, I am making him moustachioed cupcakes.

three againAll you need is 150g of chocolate and a piping bag (which you can craft yourself if you don’t own one!) It can get a little bit fiddly, but these surreal little beauties are so worth it! They reminded me of a Magritte, so I set them against his clouds to heighten the surrealness.

Get some skewers and chop them into 2-3 cm pieces, depending on how tall you want your moustaches to be (what an odd sentence!) When you’re piping make sure that you leave enough space below each piece to put the skewer pieces in. Line a flat baking tray with baking paper.

pipedBreak up your chocolate pieces and pop them in the microwave until they’re melted. Stir it every 20 seconds or so to avoid burning it. Once it’s all glossy and melted, scoop it into your piping bag and pipe loose ‘m’ shapes onto the baking paper for the moustache. For the tophats, start with a line, then pipe a square on top of it. It’s easiest if you work quickly – the chocolate will be running out of the piping bag quickly, so try to beat it! Don’t worry if it’s a bit messy, you can always eat the reject ones, or melt them down and try again. Once you’ve filled your tray with moustaches and tophats that you’re sufficiently proud of, pop the skewer pieces into the centre of the chocolate. Don’t let them go in wonky or you’ll end up with wonky decorations.

stickPut them in the fridge for about 20 minutes then stick them into your cupcakes and prepare to impress dad! I used my chocolate and vanilla cupcakes – my dad is a traditional man, so chocolate cupcakes with vanilla icing suit his tastebuds perfectly. These decorations will suit any cupcakes though, don’t limit yourself!

Would your dad like these? bothHave you tried giving your cupcakes moustaches and top hats? Let me know!

Chocolate Nutella pots de crème and chilly weather

Chilly weather is making me fat. I’m staying indoors, seeking out sugar and becoming too attached to the heater. Luckily, chocolate Nutella Pots de crème are not as indulgent as you would imagine. Below a dark layer of chocolatey thickness is a paler, lighter substance…I feel less bad about eating them because they’re not too rich, they’re just right.

These little devils are less posh than they sound. The French vibe they give off is enough to wow dinner guests, but they’re super simple…not to mention delectable! They’re basically a chocolate custard pudding thing – do labels matter? If people ask, just say they’re made entirely of delicious ingredients, they don’t need a name.

You can throw them together in 15 minutes and leave them in the oven to do their work. Pop them in the fridge while you eat mains, and they’re ready to be devoured! They’re adaptable enough to be served alongside a three course dinner, but  will fit neatly along side a casual Sunday lunch menu. Serve them with berries to dress them up, or chuck a spoon straight into them to give them a laid back scruffy feel.

Do what you please, just make sure you lick the bowl.

Chocolate Nutella pots de Crème (aka deliciousness in a ramekin)nom

  • 4 egg yolks
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 ½ cups cream
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2/3 cup nutella
  • 50g chocolate

Preheat your oven to 170°C. Resist the urge to eat the Nutella. Find six ramekins or oven-safe tea cups (I’ve gone for a mix of both because two of my Nanna’s darling ramekins have broken over time.)nutella

Mix together your egg yolks, sugar and vanilla in a bowl. Set them to one side.

In a saucepan over low heat, melt the chocolate down and add the Nutella. Once you add the Nutella in it should be thicker and glossier. Once again, resist the urge to eat the Nutella from the jar.  Mix the chocolate and Nutella until no lumps remain. Add your cream and milk in and turn up to medium so that it combines. Keep stirring.

Boil your kettle now, you’ll need hot water to surround the filled ramekins later.

mixThe mixture will be speckled, so you need to keep on stirring for about ten minutes. You don’t want speckled pots de crème! Once the mixture is an even colour (with no more speckles) slowly add the egg mixture in. Make sure the chocolate mixture isn’t too hot, you don’t want to cook the sugary egg!

Once all the egg mixture is incorporated, whisk the mixture over heat for five minutes, allowing it to bubble and thicken slightly.

Divide the mixture among the ramekins. If you’re a messy pourer like me, wipe the edges so there are no sloppy bits. Place the ramekins in a baking tray and carefully pour the hot (not boiling) water into the tray, about half way up the ramekins.drop

with water
groupPop them in the oven for 50 minutes to 1 hour. If you can gently press the top of the chocolate without it wobbling too much, they’re done. Put them back in the oven if you’re not 100% sure, the water means that it’s really hard to burn them. This style of cooking also ensures that your mixture is super silky and smooth. When they’re out of the oven, allow them to cool and place them in the fridge until they’re ready to serve.

shavingsUse a vegetable peeler to cover your pots de crème with shavings of chocolate – enjoy!spoon in

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.

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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

 

 

 

 

 

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!

Gatsby-inspired sponge

I saw Gatsby last weekend. And I was inspired.

Brace yourself for part one of my Gatsby posts.

It was beautiful and opulent and slightly magical. The dresses were all over-the-top and the settings were too fabulous to be real. And I loved them for that.

Nick Carraway is idealistic, Jordan Baker is marvelous and Gatsby is a dreamer. The film is full of people who would make fabulous dinner guests – they’re flawed and impulsive, but imagine the stories they could share! Daisy appears to have no opinion on anything, but at least she added to the beautiful scenery. As long as she’d agree to just sit there and bat her eyelashes, I’d let her partake in our dinner soiree.

I’d never read the book (I know, judge me as you see fit), but I think that doing things in excess is a good mantra to live by!

I’m all for simple recipes usually, but for two posts you’re going to have to allow me a bit of opulence. This sponge is easy AND it looks fabulous – what more could you want? It’s my nanna’s recipe, so it’s tried and tested. Unfortunately the sponge didn’t turn out as big as it should have because of my impatience – I like to think that it was slightly to do with the humidity in the air today though.
Cake

Don’t be disheartened by its flatness, when you do the recipe right, this cake IS old-school glamour.

Gatsby-inspired sponge

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup flour
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 3tbsp water
  • 3 tbsp of lemon juice

 

Preheat oven to 180°C.Table view

Grease cake tin and sprinkle with sifted icing sugar.Eggs

Separate egg whites and put the yolks to one side. Beat the egg whites in an electric mixer until they’re stiff. Don’t get impatient like I did, this leads to flat sponges! It should take about 8 minutes at a high speed on your mixer. Persevere!

Add the yolks to the stiff whites mixture and continue beating until the mixture thickens.

Add your sugar and allow it to just combine then sift in the flour and baking powder. Squeeze in the lemon juice and mix it in gently – try to let as little air out of the mixture as possible.

Cream shadows

Pour the mixture into your prepared tin and bake for 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. What I would normally do with a sponge is cut it in half and then fill the middle with copious amounts of jam and cream. Being unable to cut my pancake of a sponge in half, I whipped up the cream, added 1/2 a cup of icing sugar to it and then folded some watered down jam into it to make icing.

 

So put your flapper dresses on, buy some fake diamonds and drink everything out of a champagne flute – Gatsby makes his own reality more fantastic through his imaginings, and so should we!

Host an afternoon tea and add a little sparkle to it.

partyIMG_3986

 

The Ultimate Crowd-Pleasing Sticky Date

After a good many months contemplating this blog, I’ve finally started. It’s been so long coming that I’m slightly worried it won’t live up to the blog I’ve got going in my head.

IMG_3401

Insecurities aside, I’ll start here.

I’m a 23 year old, third year literature student. I’m a keen baker, tea connoisseur, dachshund lover. Who knew I could be summed up in so few words? It’s probably better, people aren’t going to read this to find out about me, they want recipes!

And recipes I shall provide…hopefully. Continue reading “The Ultimate Crowd-Pleasing Sticky Date”