Earl grey truffles and indulgences

plateChocolate is something that I don’t often buy for myself. I buy baking chocolate lots, but given the amount of baking that I do, I try to avoid chocolate bars. I’m not always successful, but I try.

So when I get cravings for, I try to get creative and make them a little indulgent. This is how these amazing little morsels came about. They’re teeny tiny, so you can eat 20 of them before you have to worry about stopping! (I may have exaggerated slightly, maybe don’t eat 20…)

Sticky orange cake and vitamin C

Continuing my Brazilian theme, I’m testing out some more gorgeous Brazilian bakes. This particular cake (so my Googling tells me) is called Bolo de Laranja, which simply means orange cake. I renamed it so that it’s slightly more accurate!

close

I’ve been having a citrusy few days – I made my lemon and poppy seed cake last week and have been self-medicating with lemon, ginger and honey tea. It’s cold season and I’ve not escaped the onslaught. Luckily I’ve not lost my sense of smell or taste yet, so I can enjoy in a slice or two of this beauty in the interest of ingesting lots of vitamin C!

Citrus cupcakes and picnics

biteFriends and I had a post Australia-day picnic and I wanted something nice and zesty to perk people after their Australia day celebrations. The day was hot and windy, and our location at Sydney Park was perfect. I instagrammed it, obviously

What I love about these cupcakes is that they’re so simple, but awesome – they’re beautifully moist and citrus-laden. I can’t think of more ways to explain how glorious these cupcakes are, I just love them… you should bake them!

groupThe little cakes are moist and sweet, while the icing is mouth-puckeringly tart – the combination of the two is just gorgeous. The icing stops the cakes from being overly saccharine, while the cake softens the edges of the citrus tang; these two are a match made in citrus heaven.

Citrus cupcakes:

Makes 20bite

  • 125g butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 250g (2 ¼ cups) almond meal
  • 1 cup self-raising flour
  • 1 orange, zest and juice

Icing:

  • 2 cups icing sugar
  • 1 small lemon, zest and juice

zestPreheat your oven to 180°C

Cream butter and sugar together until pale and smooth. Add the eggs and almond meal and mix until incorporated. Sift the flour into the bowl and mix that too.

fillPop the zest and juice of the orange into the mixture and give it one final mix before scooping generous spoonfuls of batter into cardboard cupcake cases. Aim to fill them about ¾ of the way up, as this mixture doesn’t rise very much.

lemonBake for 20-23 minutes until the edges start to turn golden brown and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean*. Transfer cakes onto a cooling rack.

While the cakes cool, zest and juice the lemon. Combine the lemon juice, icing sugar and about half of the zest to make the icing. Reserve the other half of the zest to decorate the cupcakes with.

iceTo ice, drop a tablespoon of mixture onto the crest of each of your cupcakes and allow It to run down the sides naturally. The icing is pretty thin, so should sort itself out – if this approach is too messy for your liking, simply use the back of the spoon to spread the icing out. Top some of the iced cupcakes with  your remaining lemon zest.

holder*This batter can also be made into a cake – simply pop the mixture into a greased cake tin and cook for 40-50 minutes.

 

Birthday recap and jam ramblings

frameI spoke about preparing for the Boy’s birthday last post. The melting moments were sent off to his work (and Instagrammed by me, obviously) and thoroughly enjoyed by his work mates. I was informed that the vanilla melting moments were better than the chocolate – the chocolate ones are too cakey, you need a glass of milk to accompany them. Duly noted!

saladThis post is just a catch up of his birthday – which means no recipe, sorry friends! The boy requested salad and a sponge cake for his birthday meal and I’m fine with doing salads, it’s the sponge that irritates me. I can whip up multi-layered cakes without too much fuss, but sponges leave me stumped for some reason.

Honey jumbles and celebrating food

closeI’ve had one of those weeks that really inspire you to love food. I had fabulous breakfast with a friend (which I couldn’t help myself but Instagram, check it out!), I reminisced about chocolate milkshakes, I watched my mother darling throw together an amazing meal to entertain a crowd and I had an unexpectedly delicious meal last night in Newtown.

I feel as though there are times in your life where you’re more appreciative of food than others. And seeing as I’m in this deliriously food-focussed mood, I picked out a jar of honey I’ve had sitting in my pantry for months and decided to make the most of it.

Vanilla cupcakes with elderberry and elderflower icing

allAs promised long ago in my weekends away post, here is a recipe using the local produce that I foraged for in Orange. I chanced upon a shop called A Slice of Orange (which was completely adorable, given we were in Orange in NSW) and found an array of locally sourced foods. They ship all across Australia as well, which could be dangerous for my bank balance!

The purchase I was most excited about was the Elderflower and elderberry cordial! Having only learned that elderberries existed when I lived in England three years ago, they still have a shiny novelty factor for me. The boy’s mother spoke of making elderberry wine and picking elderflowers – to my knowledge, Sydney-siders miss out on these delightful escapades!

Weekends away and baking

The weekend just gone was fantastic. I ate too much, window-shopped and caught up on some reading, but most of all I enjoyed being in the country. I spent every Easter until I was about 15 at my cousins’ farm in Orange, so it has a special allure for me. There is so little going on there that you can see the Milky Way at night and you can’t see any neighbours! People are friendlier, the air is cleaner and I swear the sky is bluer there.

gate

bench

farm sun set

sheds

The farm has always just been “the Farm” to me. As though it was the only one in existence, like no other farms could live up to the one that my cousins owned. It is expansive and beautiful in its own rugged way. It was greener than I’ve seen it in the past, which was good for the cows and my photo shoot! Said cows took a keen interest in the picnic photo shoot.

gathered

rocks

cpwas watching

I used my brownie recipe posted previously (which is an adaptation of a Donna Hay brownie and a Gordon Ramsay  brownie), I just baked it in jars and topped it with strawberries and Milky Way infused cream. I’m still perfecting the consistency of the Milky Way cream, I’ll post that recipe up soon.

starwbs in jar

brownie in a jar

close jar

cute spoon

done

My mother darling’s fantastic new bag featured in this shoot. She bought it without knowing that I had planned a picnic-themed photo shoot! She hadn’t used it once and she still let me take it away for the weekend. And I bought super cute picnic spoons – feel free to admire them!

basket

spoons

There was also Bentley. The photos don’t do his character justice. He came to live on the farm after Snag, guardian sausage dog of the farm died. Bentley is a tiny sausage of energy, affection and adventure. He wouldn’t stay still long enough for me to get a good photo!

bentley walks

bentley

bentley 2

spot the doxie

fire

There was a cow traffic jam which made me laugh. I was like the ultimate tourist as we drove through it. It reminded me how country life moves at a different pace. We took our time getting past them, willing them to not run in front of the car and ruin our planned trip to find delicious food.

cows

cpws 2

I baked a few things, but mostly enjoyed food made by local cafes and restaurants or by my relatives. We visited the Old Mill Café, which was fantastic (both the conversation and the food) and bought some locally-sourced products from A Slice of Orange, which I’ll use in the blog in the coming weeks.

alcohol

apples

lemon

stand

sweeties

Brownies and weekends away

I made brownies yesterday in preparation for going away tonight. I’m doubling the recipe and leaving half with the fam and taking half away. The Boy and I are spending a few days in Orange. I’ve got cousins to visit, fresh produce to check out and cafes to explore. There is also a sausage dog pup that I want to steal from said cousins. The Boy doesn’t really have a choice in what we do, luckily he’s fairly compliant when it comes to these things! He’ll busy himself being a country boy for the weekend. He spent the first 20 years of his life in England, but something about leaving Sydney and heading for dirt roads unleashes his inner country boy. When we visit my cousins’ farm he wears plaid and an akubra and busies himself with fencing, quad-biking and burning things.

I read, bake and attempt to coax the farm dogs into leaving the country and returning to the city with me. I’m never successful. Sometimes I feel as though The Boy also needs coaxing back home.

I made this brownie recipe because it just screams homeliness and I think it suits the farm vibe perfectly. It’s cosy and simple. And just delightful.

Just as the farm is escapism from Sydney life, this brownie is escapism from the real world. Put away your diets for a minute, lay down the celery and indulge in a square of escapism.

textureChocolate brownie

  • 200g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 200g butter
  • 1 1/2 cups (310g) brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2/3 cup (35g) cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1 cups (185g) plain (all-purpose) flour, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
unhealthy
Hello deliciousness!

Preheat your oven to 160°C and line a 20cm baking tin. Roughly chop your chocolate and butter and place them in a saucepan over low heat and stir until smooth and glossy. Put this to one side to cool slightly.

eggsCombine the sugar, cocoa, flour and baking powder in a bowl. Add in the eggs and mix as thoroughly as you can, it will be hard to mix because the mixture is so dry. Add the chocolate mixture and combine. Pour the mixture into your baking tin.

uncookedBake for 40-50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out mostly clean. For me, a perfect brownie should be squidgy in the centre, so I don’t want a completely clean skewer. If the skewer pulls out a whole chunk of mixture, pop it back into the oven, but if there is just a little bit of chocolate on the skewer, I’d say it’s done.

Allow the brownie to cool slightly in the tin before slicing. It will sink. It just will. There is nothing wrong with that – the sides and top will have puffed up more than the rest of the mixture and the centre will be deliciously moist. It’s dense, chocolatey and decadent.

wholeSprinkle with icing sugar and whip up some cream to serve.

Serve warm or cold. Makes 16 decent slices.

tongue out
Norman got some cream because chocolate isn’t good for dogs!

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.

Orange and Kidney Bean Salad

At the moment I am completely obsessed with kidney beans. It really wasn’t until this year that I saw their beauty – they’re delightful additions to an amazing range of foods, and they’re good for you!

They can pad out taco meat, make up your pattie or be eaten by themselves. Kidney beans are cannily adaptable, but often overlooked. As the blog progresses I’ll try and showcase some more bean-driven recipes. There are other types of bean, I’m not just restricting this to kidney beans – get excited!!

In last night’s post there was a salad accompanying the lasagne – this salad is easy to throw together and looks amazing!

Orange and kidney bean saladIMG_4213

  • 60ml olive oil
  • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 oranges
  • 100g baby spinach leaves
  • ½ red onion
  • 120g feta
  • 420g can red kidney beans

Combine oil and red wine vinegar and season with salt and pepper. I like my dressing tangy, so I put a generous 3 tablespoons in – you may wish to put in two tablespoons and test it before adding the third.

IMG_4228

Carefully slice off the rind of your orange, then slice the orange thinly.* Finely slice the red onion, cube the feta and rinse the beans.

Place all ingredients on a plate and toss to combine. Drizzle with dressing and serve!salad

rind

* The rind from the orange is really pretty, but it’s also useful! If you’ve got time, cut some of it up really finely to make into orange icing (recipe soon!), add coarse sugar to it and make a facial scrub or soak it in vinegar to make a natural cleaning product.