Posts Tagged ‘Baking’

New city, new job and n20140513-202943.jpgew kitchen… I’m back and a lot has changed since my last post. However some things haven’t and our loveof food, cooking and eating hasn’t. This week is a bit crazy at my new job, long hours, lots of politics and the prospect of working on Saturday. I came home from worktonight and really had major chocolate cravings. I was just going to buy some chocolate but instead thought I would bake.

Over the weekend my brother and I stumbled across a slice recipe that our Mum used to make for afternoon tea when we were young. Now, the slice is called Chinese Chews… I have know idea why and there is certainly nothing Chinese about them. My brother thought his Chinese wife would find the name hilarious. So I decided I would make this randomly named slice.20140513-194233.jpg

It was a very easy recipe and one I don’t think I have ever made. In a large bowl I mixed together 1 cup sugar, 1 cup mixed dried fruit, 1 self-raising flour, 1 cup desiccated coconut, 1 tablespoon cocoa. While I was combining the dry ingredients I had 125 grams of margarine melting.

When the butter was melted I added it to the dry ingredients along with an egg and a teaspoon of vanilla essence. Then I just mixed it all together. It is quite a stiff mixture so I got my hands in there to finish combining it all.

20140513-194241.jpgI then pressed the mixture into a slice pan that I had lined with baking paper. You don’t need to grease the tin or line it but I did this so I could easily remove the slice. Once evenly and firmly pressed into the pan I popped it into a moderate oven for 20 minutes.

While it was baking I mixed together the butter icing. Check out my recipe here. When the slice was baked I iced it while it was still hot. The icing melts into the slice and makes it chewy and yummy. The final touch was just to sprinkle some coconut over the top.

I let it cool before tucking in… Organising lunches, dinner and cleaning up while it cooled.20140513-194251.jpg

Then it was ready…. One bite and I was 10 again. Chewy, chocolaty and full of fruit! I behaved and only ate one piece and will take a lot into work tomorrow but it was worth the effort of baking just for that one slice of Chinese Chews….


20131023-151549.jpgSo I’m scanning yahoo the other day and came across this really easy Mexican dessert recipe.  I took a quick look at the list of ingredients and saw that there was cheese involved with the dessert which sounded interesting… plus one of the comments on the bottom mentioned that the consistency/texture is similar to flan, but with nowhere near the amount of calories which really started to get my attention.
Talk about one of the more simple recipes out there!  I’ve included the info below:
2 eggs
2 cups milk
3 tablespoons sugar
5 ounces of Mexican/Latin cheese (I went with a mixture of cojita cheese and queso fresco which you can find in any latin grocery store)
 Butter to spread on the baking dish20131023-151534.jpg
I mixed the eggs, milk, sugar, and cojita cheese/queso fresco in a blender but I also added some cayenne pepper just to give it a little heat with the sweet of the sugar and the saltiness of the cheese.  I then preheated the oven to 350F andrubbed the butter along the bottom and sides/corners of a square glass pyrex dish.
Threw in the blended mixture and placed it in the oven for 40 minutes or until the top was golden brown.  Let it stand to cool then I threw it in the fridge with a cover.
20131023-151525.jpgAfter a few hours, I had some for dessert that night and it really was like flan but a little bit more “chunky” because of thecojita cheese.  I thought it tasted great but I might be a little bias!  If you think you’d like a cheesy kind of flan, then give it a try.  The cayenne gave it a nice kick but I would enjoy it without the pepper as well.  I even put some in a bowl and threw on some chocolate syrup which gave it a nice chocolate flavor as well.

Time to eatBeing the foodie in our office has lead to me bringing in cakes for birthdays. Fortunately we have a staff of 6 so it doesn’t happen too often. Earlier in the year I made a Mum’s Sticky Chocolate cake for everyone which was a huge success. This time around I gave the birthday girl a few choices and she went with the Triple Chocolate Marble Mud Cake… well really, who wouldn’t!?

Step 1

The only problem… I had never made it before! How difficult could it be.

In a small pan I combined 250 grams of chopped, unsalted butter, 2 cups of caster sugar, and 1 cup of hot water. I mixed this until it was all melted and combined. Then I just set this aside to cool for 15 minutes and got on with the rest of the recipe.

Base mixture

While it was cooling I melted 150 grams of white chocolate in a bowl and in another bowl I melted 150 grams of dark chocolate. I used 70% dark so that it wasn’t too sweet. There is so much sugar in this recipe already I didn’t think I need extra in the chocolate. I then set these aside.

Going back to my sugar, butter and water mixture I whisked in 1 cup of plain flour, 1 1/2 cups of self raising flour and a teaspoon of vanilla. I added 2 eggs that I had already lightly beaten and whisked everything together. Now the tricky part… I had to divide the mixture into 2 equal parts, putting them in separate bowls. After a bit of back and forth, I think I got pretty close.

Two mixtures

To the halved mixture I added the melted white chocolate to one and the melted dark chocolate to the other. I just quickly mixed the chocolate into each mixture and the cake was ready to assemble.


In my large cake tin I spooned a spoonful of the white mixture in one corner and then next to it a spoonful of the dark mixture. It was easy just alternating between the two, layering them on top of eachother, until the mixtures were completely gone.

This went into a preheated 150C degree over for 1 3/4 hours. I couldn’t believe how easy it was, well relatively easy. I then just sat back with a glass of wine and waited for it to cook.

Cream and chocolate - Copy

When I opened the oven I discovered it may not have been as easy as I thought. The middle of the cake had sunk! Oh well, that was what the ganache was for… to fill up the large crater in the cake.


I turned it out and let it cool. Of course as it cooled the center dropped more… What could I do? More room ganache is what I say!

When it was cool and ready to coat in ganache, I quickly combined in my double boiler 300 grams of milk chocolate and 3/4 cup of thickened cream. I slowly melted these together over a low simmering pot of water. I stirred this continuously until the chocolate had completely melted and was combined with the cream.

I took it off the heat and set it aside. As I was preparing the cake I realized that the square cake didn’t quite fit in my round Sunken but deliciouscake carrier… being the ideas woman I am, I angled off the corners to make a shape that would fit in the container… Later people in the office commented on how cool it looked – I didn’t tell them it was purely to get it to fit, not make it look pretty.

The ditch

My cake now fit in the container, it was time to ganache it! I poured my ganache onto the cake and filled up the huge crater in the center. I then smoothed it down and around the edges until it was completely covered. It looked great! You couldn’t even tell that the cake looked like it had been hit by a meteor. A few quick decorations with fresh strawberries and I was done!

I held my breath when we cut it in the office, praying that it was actually marbled and that the puddle of ganache wouldn’t run off the cake like a waterfall. Luckily it didn’t!


The best news is that everyone in the office, including the birthday girl loved it. The cake is moist, dense and incredibly rich (especially the parts in the center with an inch of ganache on top). The cake was an afternoon snack for everyone for the rest of the week. I even managed to sneak J. home a slice. He really liked it, he thinks the texture is like a soft, dense cookie.

For a first attempt at this recipe I think I did well. It wasn’t as great as my mum’s but I rarely make her recipes as well as she does. It was a hit and it was delicious, I couldn’t really ask for more but I think I will need a little more practice to be able to make it as easily and as well as I make my Mum’s Sticky Chocolate.

Close up of marbling

Passionfruit Choc Brownies.jpgOver the weekend we ran out of sweets. We have been trying to cut back on sweets, which means I have curbed my baking a little but we still like to have one small thing after dinner each night as a treat. So on Saturday when we discovered all our treats had been eaten, I know I had to bake.

I gave J. a few things to choose from and he settled on Passionfruit Choc Brownies. Like every normal person we love chocolate and we are both crazy about passionfruit, even though you can’t get fresh ones here in Arizona.

(I am trying to grow my own vine though…)

Luckily I still have some of the passionfruit nectar in a tin left from our last supply run to Australia!

I must apologize for the lack of step-by-step photos… but it is so easy, the photos aren’t really necessary.

Out of the oven.jpg

First up, I preheated the oven to 180C (356F) and greased my square baking tin. I roughly broke up125 grams of 70% dark chocolate and chopped up 125 grams of unsalted butter, putting them into a heatproof bowl. Over a saucepan of simmering water, I melted the butter and chocolate until combined.

Once completely melted I took it off the heat and added 150 grams of light brown sugar, stirring until the sugar is incorporated. To this mixture I added 2 medium eggs and 1 additional egg yolk… (2 whites, 3 yolks). I mixed all of this together before sifting in 40 grams of self-raising flour, 40 grams of cocoa powder and a pinch of salt. It is best to use a really high quality cocoa powder for this so you get the best flavor in the brownie.

Ready to cut.jpg

When this was all combined I added 4 tablespoons of passionfruit nectar (including seeds) and mixed that in. I poured the mixture into the

tin and placed it on the middle shelf of the oven for 20 minutes.

They smelt delicious when they came out of the oven but we were good and went to the gym, had dinner and then ate a brownie. I cut them up and J and I ate one with a glass of milk.The best way to tell that the brownies are done is to insert a skewer and it comes out with some dense crumbs left on the skewer but no gloopy, wet mixture.

The brownies have a great chocolate flavor with just a hint of the passionfruit. I would probably add more passionfruit nectar next time. However, they are yummy and delicious and not too sweet, just the right amount of sweetness, thanks to the dark chocolate.

This was the first time I have made them and I will be definitely making them again… J. really enjoys them too – a nice sweet treat after dinner!

Cake tins.jpgWe are back from Australia… exhausted, back at work but relaxed after a fantastic trip to Australia. I will be back to blogging next week and will share all of our food adventures. I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and 2013 is starting fabulously!

Now that I am back I just wanted to share the cooking related gifts J. got for me. We exchanged Christmas present a week before Christmas. We just couldn’t cart the presents to Australia and back, didn’t seem to be a great idea.


First he got me the cake tins I need to make the Mum’s Sticky Chocolate Cake correctly… He also benefits from this one.

Next he got me a contained that was big enough to store the cake in. When I have made this recently we have just had to cover it as best we could since we had nothing big enough to store it in.

My last food related gift were some Paula Deen measuring cups. J. and I obsessively watch her show… mainly because the food is so delicious and she is completely crazy! Anyway, I have Measuring cups.jpgbeen pining after her measuring cups for a good 4 years now. They are made of pewter and are incredibly heavy but oh so pretty. Lucky me, J. got be a set with dragonflies on them.

I was very spoiled before Christmas and also at Christmas. I am looking forward now that I am back being able to bake up a storm and use my new cooking stuff!

No Name Cookies.jpgAs part of my win for the Once a Month‘s Christmas cookie competition they have done a feature profile of me and Life is Short. Eat Hard on their blog.

Check it out. You might learn some new things about me! You can read it here.

Also make sure you check out the winning cookie recipe. I am making a million of these this Christmas.

I was trying to think of a sweet treat for J. that I hadn’t made before. Friday while he was at work I thought I would do some baking so he would have a sweet treat to eat over the weekend (and I wouldn’t have to bake this weekend). So Friday morning I hunted through my recipes to find something new to bake. I saw this recipe for chocolate shortbread and thought they looked easy and yummy.

If J. had his way I would only make Anzac Biscuits whenever I decided to bake cookies. Considering our very limited supply of golden syrup I feel we need to ration that and make something else.

In a large bowl cream 250 grams of butter until light. Gradually add 1 cup of sifted icing sugar (powdered sugar) and 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence. Make sure this is creamed thoroughly and the mixture is light and fluffy.

In another bowl I siftered 2 1/2 cups of plain flour and 1/4 cup of cocoa. I used a really good dutch cocoa because these have a really strong chocolate flavor and you want it to be the best flavor possibly.  Once this is all sifted together gradually add it to the butter mixture, beating it in thoroughly.

When both dry and wet ingredients have been combined press the dough into a ball. Sprinkle flour onto your kitchen bench and roll out the dough until it is about 5mm thick. I cut the dough into rectangles but you can cut into any shape you want. I put my cookies on a greased cookie tray, I pricked each cookie twice with a fork and then cooked them in a slow oven (150 C) for 20 minutes.

I serve these with a glass of cold milk. J. was very happy with his sweet treat, though they are incredibly addictive. They a crunchy but then melt in your mouth as all good shortbreads should. Even at the end of the weekend we have some left, this mixture will make about 50 cookies. I even packed up a few for J. to eat at work today!

I was doing some cooking today of things to freeze for dinners and lunches over the next couple of weeks. I had made and frozen some meatballs and thought with the remaining ground beef I would make some burgers for J. and I for dinner tonight. This was a great idea except I didn’t want to go out and buy bread rolls. I thought why not make my own!

Well the difficulty here comes when I realise I don’t actually have any yeast. This is going to limit what bread I can make. I have previously made soda bread and thought I could do this but make rolls instead of one big loaf. This is fast and easy and I really love the crunchy crust on the outside. It is a heavier bread inside though so I will have to see how it works with burgers.

The recipe I use for this is an adaption or amalgamation of several different recipes I have used over the years.

My oven is preheating to 425 F (it takes a while so I did this before I even started on the dough). I a large bowl I put 4 cups of flour, 1 teaspoon of baking soda, 1 teaspoon of salt, a teaspoon of sugar and I whisk it all together. In another small bowl I beat an egg and then add 1 3/4 cups of milk and 1/2 teaspoon of vinegar.

I form a well in the dry ingredients and then add the wet. Using the whisk I start to bring the dough together. It is really difficult to combine so I always end up using my hands. It doesn’t have to be a completely smooth dough, it is rough and rustic looking which I also like.

When it has formed a dough I cut it into 4 even pieces (this will make 4 large rolls) and shape them so that they are roundish. I grease a square cake tin to bake them in. If I use a flat tray the dough will spread too much and won’t keep the shape I want. Into the oven then for 35 minutes. I turned them around after 20 just so that they browned evenly.

The smell in the house is fantastic when they come out of the oven and they are delicious with butter and honey while still hot. I haven’t made the burgers yet so I will do a post about them later, fingers crossed the rolls work. If J. happens to read the blog this afternoon before getting home I guess dinner won’t be a surprise anymore. Oh well… the bread will be yummy though, let’s hope the burgers are too!

Even back when I would get dragged by my parents to watch my brother play football my food of choice at a game has been a pie, a meat pie! There are so many variations on the traditional meat pie now and even a whole chain of franchises built on selling meat pies to hungry Australians. However, I am a traditionalist. I like my pies simple, beefy and sometimes with a splash of tomato sauce (ketchup to all the Americans reading this). I gave J. a choice for his football food this weekend, he could choose homemade pizza or homemade meat pies, like a good little faux-Aussie he went with the pies.

After some deliberation I decided to make mini beef & bacon pies that the boys could eat relatively neatly in front of the games. The main issue with this was what to use as the pie dishes? I had no little aluminium pie containers like back home so I thought I would just use our muffin tins and make them nice and small. Am I an ideas woman or what?!

I like to watch the football too so to make life a little easier on Sunday I prepared the pie filling Saturday night. In a large pot I heated 2 tablespoons of olive oil and then threw in 2 cloves of garlic, 2 large shallots (both garlic & shallots finely diced), 2 small chillies (this is optional but as you know J. likes his spicy food) and 4 rashers of bacon (diced). As the bacon was cooking I sprinkled in some rosemary, probably around a tablespoon.

As this was all cooking in a large bowl I put a cup of flour, a teaspoon of salt and a good amount of cracked black pepper. I just stirred this quickly together before placing my beef (I bought pre-cubed beef that is usually used for stews or kebabs) in and dredging it through the flour. I used around 3 pounds of beef for this recipe. When thinly coated in flour I added the beef to the garlic and bacon and browned it. Once browned add 1 cup of chicken stock and 1 cup of beef stock so that the beef is just covered. I also add 2 tablespoons of tomato paste and 1/2 cup of red wine. We also add a lot of ground black pepper for a little bite.

I like to let my beef mixture simmer down and thicken over a couple of hours and then put it in the fridge overnight. This way Sunday when I need it for the pies it is nice and thick and really full of flavour.

Sunday morning I grease our muffin tins. I am just using frozen puff pastry from the supermarket because it is yummy and far easier than making pastry myself. I put some flour down on the bench and roll out the puff pastry. I use the rolling pin just to roll it out a little more. I want it to be nice and thin and flaky. Using a small plate I cut out circles for the base of the pies. The pastry should come up a little higher than the tins around the edges. I use a fork to prick the edges and base before scooping in the beef filling.

Each muffin tin is filled almost to the top. I use a mug to cut the circles for the lids of the pies and then gently put them on the top. Using my fingers I wet the edge and pinch together the top and the base to they are firmly closed around the edge. With a very sharp knife I make a small X incision on the lid for steam to escape. Last thing I have to do is brush the lids with an egg wash. I want the crispiest lid I can get.

The great thing about these is that the inside is already cooked so it only takes 20 minutes to cook the pastry and then they are ready!

These turned out great and are just the right size for a snack during the football. J. said that they were dangerous and he could eat 8!! He hasn’t yet but the day is still young. The filling was rich beefy, tomato flavor with just a hint of chilli and pepper and the crust was flaky and crispy. I am really happy with these and will definitely be making them again soon, perhaps with a different filling.

Back to the football now. GO BEARS!!

Simple, sweet and fast… just what you need in a cookie. These were just a sweet treat I made J. after sharing this recipe with a friend who needs to eat gluten free.

They literally only take 20 minutes to make and 12 minutes of that is baking time in the oven. Also, this is a good recipe for kids since you can just throw everything in a bowl and mix.

In a bowl combine 1 cup of peanut butter, 1/2 cup of castor sugar, 1 egg and 1/2 teaspoon of bi-carbonate soda. Make sure everything is mixed in well.

Roll heaped teaspoons full into a ball and place on a greased baking tray. This part gets a little messy because the mixture is very, very sticky. Don’t worry too much about them being perfect balls either since they turn out great either way.

Bake in a 180C preheated oven for 10-12 minutes or until golden. This recipe will make about 20 cookies, depending on the size you make.
A great afternoon or after dinner treat and they go great with a glass of cold milk. They have even lasted longer than 24 hours in the house which is nothing short of a miracle… Yum!