Thursday, 30 August 2012

Banana Souffle and Instant Banana Ice cream

 Another day, another souffle- this time Banana. I admit I've gone a little souffle mad of late. But really, how can you blame me? They are delicious; they are, relative to other puddings, relatively healthy and you can make a souffle in almost any flavour you could possibly imagine. So far I've made apple and cinnamon, Rhubarb, raspberry, strawberry and banana. I don't plan on stopping there, either- think of all the other flavours I could make!

Ordinarily I would use the leftover egg yolks to make a creme anglaise (custard). With this particular flavour, however, I decided to try something different. Some time ago I saw Matt Preston make an instant Banana Ice cream and I've been waiting for the occasion to make it. Luckily I happened to have a freezer full of over-ripe bananas. All you do is peel the frozen bananas (One banana seems to make a generous scoop), chop them into chunks and blend in a food processor. You may have to stop the motor sporadically to scrape down the chunks towards the blades, but after a mere minute, you will have a most delicious, velvety textured banana ice cream. I even give you permission to let your guests
think that you slaved away for hours making custard
 and churning it by hand; it will be our little secret.

As for the souffle, the method is the same as for the preceding recipe, only substitute the strawberry for banana and the caster sugar for brown.

Bon appetit!

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Strawberry Souffle

I'm afraid I've been terribly lax of late and haven't updated the blog in quite some time. I could blame it on the Olympics, on Masterchef All Stars, on any number of things really, but essentially I've just been too lazy to take the time to blog. Apologies!

Going back a few weeks ago now, I was at home by myself on evening and, cold and miserable from the wintery wind, decided to make myself some dessert. It can be a tricky task to find a dessert recipe that can be successfully divided to make one individual serving. Many recipes call for 1or 2 eggs for a dessert that feeds 6-8. Now tell me, how are you supposed to divide one egg by 6? With difficulty. So, with very little options to choose from, without having a week's supply of left-over pud, I decided to make a souffle- a dessert that I have found, to my great delight, divides exceedingly well. One egg white= one lovely serving.

Not only is souffle a suitable sweet for one, it is also incredibly delicious and, best of all, contains no fat. True , it does contain sugar and whatever it lacks in fat, I generally make up for by serving a big scoop of ice cream or a jug of custard alongside. I'd be quite content, however, eating one of these little babies unadorned.

Please don't be nervous about making souffle. You mustn't be nervous about egg whites-if you are, it will show in the finished result. Egg whites are really so much tougher than they are made out to be. So for an amazing winter treat for one or for many, try your hand at a souffle!

Strawberry Souffle recipe (one portion)

1/2 tablespoon melted butter for greasing
50g Strawberries (weight with greenery removed), quartered
30g Caster Sugar + 1 tablespoon more for dusting ramekin
1/2 teaspoon Cornflour, mixed into a paste with 1/2 teaspoon water
1 egg white

Preheat oven to 170 C

Grease a 250ml capacity ramekin with butter, then sprinkle generously with caster sugar, turning the ramekin around to coat the bottom and sides with an even layer of sugar. Tip out any excess and place rameking in the refrigerator while you get on with the souffle mix.

In a small saucepan place the strawberries and half the caster sugar over a low heat. Stir occasionally until sugar has dissolved and the strawberries are yielding. Remove from the heat and whisk in the corn flour. Using either a whizz stick, a blender or a processor, puree the strawberry mixture until smooth and completely free of any lumps. Set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, beat the egg white with a pinch of salt until light and foamy, then gradually add the remainder of the caster sugar, continuing to beat until thick (when you lift the beater out of the egg white, the peak should bend over slightly, although it should be thick enough that you can safely hold the bowl upside down over your head).

Add about a third of the egg white to the strawberry mixture, stirring the two together to combine. At this stage, you are only trying to loosen the strawberry mix, not retain air, so you don't have to fold. Place the remaining meringue mix into the strawberry and this time, fold the two together to combine, while retaining the air in the egg whites. You really need to spin the bowl around as you do this, so that you are gathering the  mixture from every corner of the bowl and incorporating it into the meringue. The best way is to use a metal spoon, drag it around the right rim of the bowl, scraping the base as you go, towards you, then flop, or fold, all that you have gathered back over into the centre of the bowl. Make sense? Then give the bowl a quarter turn and repeat until it is no longer streaky.

Remove the ramekin from the fridge and gently spoon the matter into the mould. Try not to disturb the buttery sugar coating you created earlier with your spoon. Spoon into the centre of the mould, coaxing it gently downwards and outwards. Fill right to the top and then, place a long spatula or butter knife midway across the ramekin and scrape towards you, allowing any excess the plunge over the rim. Repeat on other half and if necessary, back track to ensure a completely smooth surface, flush with the rim. With a bit of luck your spatula will catch the excess with every scrape. If not, clean the outside of the ramekin and then, using a clean finger, run your fingertip around the inside of the rim to create a small moat, if you will, between the souffle and the dish itself. Place souffle onto a tray and into the oven for 12-14 minutes. Do not open the door at all before 12 minutes- you don't want it to collapse.

Remove to awaiting plate and serve immediately with ice cream, custard or cream. I'm warning you- it will sink if you leave it lying about. I apologise for the lengthy, especially to those of you who have baked before. I merely wish to equip newbies with as much knowledge as possible to give them confidence in the kitchen. It can be a scary thing baking something for the first time, especially a souffle, so I hope these instructions will help you tackle the challenge with relative ease. If it doesn't turn out perfectly the first time, don't give up. Believe me- I've failed plenty of times. Practice makes perfect. If you don't know what went wrong, just ask and I'll do my best to point you in the right direction.

Bon Appetit!

Monday, 16 July 2012

Raspberry Red Velvet Cake

Red Velvet cake is one of my very favourite cakes. An ordinary buttermilk sponge is nothing special, but when you add food colouring to the batter, well, that's a different matter altogether. I mean, what's not to love about a whole bottle of rose pink food colouring?

I first discovered this cake about five years ago on the internet. Back then Red Velvet Cake was nowhere to be seen in Australian cake shops and was somewhat of a novelty. Ordinarily I cover the outside of the cake with the white cream cheese frosting, so you can imagine the surprise of cutting into a seemingly white cake for the first time to reveal a shockingly red interior.

 Nowadays you can find red velvet cake all over the place and consequently partakers are not overcome with the same wonder and awe as when they first gazed upon its crimson interior. Nonetheless, it remains one of my favourites and I make it whenever the opportunity presents itself.

The sponge itself is made with canola/vegetable oil instead of butter. This, in addition to the buttermilk makes for a very moist, tender crumb. The best thing is that the cake keeps extremely well and can be made several days in advance.

It is a lovely cake, served with a deliciously fluffy cream cheese frosting and makes a wonderful addition to any special celebration. Do try it!

Sunday, 1 July 2012

French toast with poached pears, maple syrup and roasted hazelnuts

Yesterday morning, I made myself french toast for breakfast. Lord knows that after the week of bad eating I've had (and by bad, I mean good, but unhealthy), I didn't need it, but I just had to have it. I just had to.

Anyway, you need no recipe for french toast, just a bit of common sense. If you like it sweet like me, add a tablespoon of sugar to a couple of eggs and some cream or milk. Then get your bread - I used some stale apple and cinnamon raisin toast, but you could use anything- and soak it really well. I mean really well- give it plenty of time to absorb what is essentially an uncooked custard. Don't attempt to do more than one slice of bread per egg. If you do, you'll find your french toast will be dry on the inside. What you want is a beautifully soft, custardy interior with a crisp outer shell. Also, cook it at a low heat. My pan got a bit too hot and  my french toast ended up rather dark. It was still delicious, but it would have looked much nicer had it been golden brown.

You can serve french toast however you like. Some like it savoury, in which case, omit the sugar and add a good pinch of salt at the start, plus more to serve. Here I have added some poached pears, which I heated in the pan after cooking the toast, a good slug of maple syrup and a scattering of delicious roasted hazelnuts,  that I blitzed in a food processor. Why not give french toast a try for a perfect lazy Sunday breakfast? It's quick, easy and every bit as delicious as pancakes.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Gâteau aux noisettes et caramel

Ok, ok, I totally just made this name up. It was certainly not given this name in the cookbook, but rather a ridiculous name, 'Entremet Contemporain', that utterly fails to convey what kind of a cake this is. I could more simply have called it a hazelnut and caramel cake, but when one has a french inspired luncheon, one MUST give things french names. On Sunday I had a little, belated Birthday luncheon with a couple of friends and I made this cake, among other things, for my guests. In an ideal world, I would have taken photos of the twice baked Gruyère soufflé that I made for entrée, as well as the Fillet de Boeuf en Croûte we had pour le Plat Principal. Sadly, I was too busy running back and forth between the kitchen and the dining room to remember to take any photos of these at all.

So it is that you will have to be satisfied with the photos that I did take: those of the Gâteau aux noisettes et caramel. The cake is surrounded by a ring of sponge and its interior consists of a layer of caramel syrup soaked sponge, then caramel mousse, another layer of soaked sponge, hazelnut cream and finally a caramel glaze.

I'm not going to lie to you and pretend that it was all smooth sailing- no siree! The recipe in question comes from the Cordon Bleu book of desserts. The recipe is a bit of a shambles really. It seems that Cordon Bleu didn't correctly augment quantities for the home baker, leaving some components of the cake in quantities vast enough to produce 3 or 4 cakes, while other components were converted accurately and produced only enough mixture for one. 

Luckily, I'd seen enough recipes in my time to know that the specified quantities were wrong and altered the size of the batches accordingly. This entailed halving the cake mix, halving the caramel sauce, making the full batch of mousse, a half batch of cream and a full batch of glaze- CRAZY! 

Not only that, but there was a major error in the ingredients list for the mousse. The recipe specified 40g Gelatine, which seemed an insane amount, but I didn't question it for long enough to check the packet for directions. What I ended up with was a horrible, caramel glue that I could hardly remove from the saucepan, let alone fold into cream. A second batch turned out just right with about 2/3 sachet (roughly 1 1/2 tsps of gelatine). Boy did they get that quantity wrong!

Anyway, I shouldn't complain too much. Despite all these issues, the cake turned out rather well and cut beautifully. The highlight for me was definitely the hazelnut cream, which was, coincidentally, the simplest of all the components to make. It is seriously just cream whipped with a bit of icing sugar and some blitzed up roasted hazelnuts folded gently through. 

If you are brave enough to tackle this beautiful gateau after my horror story, just let me know and I will happily post the amended recipe on the blog. 

Bon appetit!

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Marvelous Marshmallows

Hands up all those who have eaten home made marshmallows? Who has ever contemplating making them? It would seem to many to be a ludicrous idea, but they are in fact relatively easy ......... provided you have a stand mixer. If you don't, well, maybe it might be a little tricky. If you do, you are in for a real treat. My gosh they are good! Like unbelievably, positively, absolutely fantastic!!! They really do put your store bought marshmallows to shame.

A few weeks ago I was watching Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall make his own Marshmallows on the River Cottage: Autumn. I was struck immediately by how quick they were to whip up and, even more amazingly, how rapidly they set. I really thought marshmallow would have to set over night, or for the equivalent amount of time. Of course, Hugh, being the good, all natural, back to basics kind of a guy that he is, used Beetroot to colour the marshmallows pink. I didn't have any beetroot on hand, nor did I have the slightest inclination to use a vegetable to colour my food. As far as I'm concerned, a drop of food colouring won't hurt at all. 

The recipe is available here from the BBC site. I urge you all to give them a go. If like me, you are short of beetroot, just put in a few drops of pink colouring into the 125 mls of boiling water before adding the gelatine. You won't believe how far your two egg whites willgo- you will end up with a huge batch of the lightest, most delicious Marshmallows you've ever tasted: perfect with hot chocolate or toasted over a fire. Enjoy!

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Haupia cake

I have been fortunate enough to have spent quite a bit of time in Hawaii over the years and on one of my more recent visits, I was introduced to a delightful Hawaiian specialty- the Haupia cake. Haupia is a cold, jelly like coconut pudding, and this, the cake version, is a layered dessert of meltingly tender sponge and fantastically wobbly Haupia. My first taste of this cake was during a girl's trip to Honolulu with my mother and sister, Rachael. Rach took a particular fancy to this coconut creation and insisted upon ordering it at every establishment with Haupia cake gracing its dessert menu.

On the occasion of Rachael's Birthday, this past week, I was stuck for ideas on which cake to make her, when I suddenly remembered her fondness for the Haupia cake. I went searching online and came across a recipe by renowned Hawaiian chef, Roy Yamaguchi of Roy's Restaurant. I'm generally not too keen sourcing recipes online without knowing the reputation of the author. I felt assured, though, in this case, that the recipe would be a good one, because I have heard nothing but positive reviews of Roy's Restaurant. You may even recall an episode of the Family Jewels, in which Gene takes his wife, whoops, I mean girlfriend, to Roy's; they liked the food so much that he went and chased down Roy to make a private dinner for the two of them the following evening.

The recipe, as expected, worked a treat. It is really one of the most interesting cakes you'll ever have. I would say, in terms of texture, that it is more like a trifle than a cake, with its lovely mellow coconut jelly and moist sponge. By the way, if you've never before seen candles in jelly, it is a sight to behold. My how they jiggled about as I carried the cake to the table! The most important thing of all was that Rach was thrilled with her birthday cake, which was, after all, the whole purpose of its being made.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Cinnamon Buns for Mumsy Daisy

Cinnamon buns are a true favourite of my mother's. She is not the kind of person with a really sweet tooth, in fact she rarely orders desserts. Cinnamon buns, however, she can devour by the dozen. I decided to make her a batch for mother's day and, to shake things up a bit, I added some mashed bananas to half of these lusciously sticky, oozy, gooey buns. I'm not going to lie to you, I too adore these buns. It is hard to convey in words and pictures just how moreish they are, not least because, as the italians would say, they are brutti, ma buoni (ugly, but good). To fully comprehend, one must encounter the buns when they are fresh from the oven, their heavenly spiced scent permeating through the corridors and into every  nook and cranny of the house, and their sticky cinnamon centres oozing from each and every crevice of these wonderful buns. Because the word 'enough' doesn't exist in my vocabulary, I top it off with a cream cheese drizzle for good measure.

The recipe I use is based on Nigella's 'Norwegian cinnamon buns' from How to Be a Domestic Goddess, a wonderful book that I can't recommend highly enough. It has been a long time since I made these following the recipe to a tee, having tinkered with them substantially over the years to create my own recipe. I'm not yet ready to share mine, I'm afraid; cinnamon buns are, you see, one of MY things. I wouldn't want anyone to take over now, would I? Maybe one day when I'm feeling more generous and not too lazy to type it up, I may consider sharing with you, my privy counsel. Until that day, try Nigella's recipe and play around- you may come up with something even better. 

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Banana nut muffins

In Honolulu, there's a fabulous little place that sells my favourite muffins in the whole wide world. It is a small, unassuming takeaway joint in the Ala Moana food court called 'The Paradise cafe' and its muffins are out of this world. The banana nut muffin is my particular favourite: a golden, crunchy muffin top with a fragrant, moist and oaty interior. Ever since I first tasted it, some 6 or so years ago, I have made it one of my life's greatest ambitions to replicate the magnificent banana nut muffin of 'The Paradise Cafe'.

This muffin was the closest I've ever come to the perfection of 'The Paradise cafe': close, but not quite. I'm seriously contemplating just asking for the recipe next time I'm in Hawaii just to get me through to the next visit. Honestly- I'm sick of these dry, cakey things that vendors are calling muffins these days. I'm also equally unimpressed by homemade muffins sans crunchy top- don't be afraid, people, to fill 'em up right to the top, even a little over, to get a wonderfully crunchy muffin top.


200g Wholemeal spelt flour (my preference, but you can use ordinary plain flour too)
100g rolled oats, coarsely ground, or oat bran
2 tsp Baking powder
2 tsp Cinnamon
125g Brown sugar + 2 tablespoons for the topping
2 eggs
1/2 cup maple syrup
80ml natural yoghurt
100ml vegetable/canola oil
4 bananas, mashed
50g macadamias, coarsely chopped


Preheat oven to 200 degrees celcius.

In a large bowl, stir together all the dry ingredients, except for the macadamias and reserved additional sugar for topping. Make a well in the centre. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients until amalgamated. Pour this into the well in the centre of the dry ingredients. Mix gently a few times, just enough to mix the wet into the dry so that there are no huge patches of flour remaining. DO NOT STIR MORE THAN THIS. A light muffin is made from a lumpy batter, so don't be tempted to whisk or you'll end up with dense muffins.

Place muffin papers into a 12 muffin pan. Delicately scoop the muffin batter all the way to the top in the awaiting muffin papers. If it looks as though you won't have enough batter for 12, though you should, it is better to have fewer muffins filled up properly. In a little bowl, mix together the reserved sugar and macadamias. Sprinkle evenly over the top of the muffins.

Place tray in preheated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes. I know it seems a long time for a muffin, but these are rather large. Still, be sure to check yours after 15 minutes and then at five minute increments- ovens vary enormously in temperature.

Once manageable, remove muffins from pan and leave on a cooling rack. They will keep for several days in an airtight container, although I warn you that they are never as good on days 2 or 3. The muffins are so moist, you see, that putting them into a container rather destroys the wonderful crunchiness of their tops. If you have time, put the day old muffins back into the oven for 5 minutes or so to revive their texture.

Monday, 14 May 2012

White vienna loaf

 Enjoying a freshly baked loaf of bread is one of the simplest and greatest pleasures of life. Indeed there is nothing remotely exotic about a loaf of plain white bread, nor is there any great challenge in its preparation; there is, nonetheless, a certain pride that can be attained only from baking with yeast. A cake comes to life only when it is consumed by the heat of the oven. Bread, on the other hand, comes to life before your very eyes on the kitchen bench. The dough, nurtured by the gentle touch of your hands and guarded carefully by your watchful eyes, miraculously grows, doubling in volume. It is the closest thing, I can only imagine, to raising a child; the only difference being that we tend not to eat our children once they are grown. 


This recipe is 'The essential white loaf' from Nigella Lawson's How to be a domestic goddess. Nigella suggests using potato water for its excellent starchy properties. I, however, didn't have any potato water on hand, so I substituted some similarly starchy pasta water and reduced the quantity of salt to 2 teaspoons. It has a lovely crumb and the ratios seemed to be spot on.

One thing Nigella doesn't mention is how best to shape the loaf. You can of course have the loaf in any shape you desire. One thing I do suggest is that wherever you seal the dough together (make no mistake- there will be a seam somewhere), be sure to place that seam face side down on the tray or in the loaf tin. This way you can slash the bread with a super sharp knife/blade before it goes in the oven and you won't have any un-slightly cracks from seams, but lovely big slashes only where you want them to appear. I like lots, but 2 or 3 would be ample. Now what are you waiting for? Go on- get baking!

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Chocolate and Almond truffles

Jumping back two posts ago, you may remember that I made a steamed chocolate pudding with chocolate sauce. Well, the sauce in question was actually a ganache, made from chocolate and cream, that sets quite hard once cooled. I had quite a bit of ganache left over from the pudding and, not wanting to let it go to waste, I turned the solid, chocolatey mass into chocolate truffles. You could make just about any kind of truffle that you fancy with ganache as the basis: add a dash of Cointreau for orange truffles, peppermint extract  for peppermint truffles, limoncello, cherry herring, or unadulterated for a perfectly plain chocolate truffle.

I went with Amaretto for these truffles. Just add a splash of your chosen liquer/extract into the cooled ganache, place in the fridge to set, then, with lightly greased hands, shape small moundfuls of ganache into rounds, or whatever shape you fancy (logs look nice). The truffles need to be coated in something to prevent them from sticking to one another. Here I have finely chopped some almonds and rolled the balls in the nutty flakes to give them an even coating. You could also use cocoa powder, coconut, sprinkles, other finely chopped nuts or some melted . You can really coat them and flavour them however you please- plenty of scope for the imagination and a really quick and easy little treat to make.

Nigella's chocolate sauce (ganache)

  • 125g milk chocolate, chopped
  • 125g dark chocolate, chopped 
  • 250ml double cream 
  • 75g golden syrup 
  • 4tsp vanilla extract

  • Put all these ingredients into a saucepan and stir occasionally over a low heat until combined. Cool this sauce, add your liquer/extract of choice and then refrigerate to set completely before shaping (see above). You can actually omit the golden syrup and vanilla from this recipe for a slightly less sweetened truffle. It is also possible to alter the type of chocolate used. Feel free to play around and use milk, dark and/or white chocolate, according to your preference. 

  • Read more:

    Thursday, 10 May 2012

    Anzac Biscuits- better late than never

    I know what you are all thinking- 'What a slacker?'. I know, I know. Anzac day has long since past, but I still wanted to share with you some photos of the biscuits I made on the day, as well as my mother's recipe for Anzac Biscuits. My mum's Anzac biscuits are a little different to the everyday variety: they contain currants. Not raisins, definitely not sultanas, but currants. Having grown up eating Anzac biscuits with currants, I wouldn't have them any other way. I urge you to try them with currants and see for yourself what a wonderful addition they make.

    I must admit that mine turned out a little differently from how my mum's usually do, but then again she did neglect to tell me that she doesn't really follow the recipe, but rather measures by eye. This being said, if you prefer your cookies to stand up more like my mother's, rather than spread like mine, I'd suggest you reduce the quantity of butter to 100g, to make for a stodgier dough.

    My Mum’s Anzac Biscuits


    110g of Rolled Oats                                       2 Tablespoons of Golden Syrup
    150g of Plain Flour                                       ½ Teaspoon of Bicarbonate of Soda
    175g Caster Sugar                                         1 Tablespoon of Boiling Water
    65g desiccated Coconut                                 ½ Cup of Currants (Optional)
    125g Unsalted Butter                                   (3 Baking Sheets)


    Preheat oven to 160º C (140 º C Fan Forced oven).
                Combine Oats, Sifted flour, Sugar and Coconut in large bowl. Heat Butter and Golden Syrup together in a saucepan over gentle heat until melted. Set aside. In a second large bowl, mix Bicarb soda with boiling water and then add to butter mixture. Do make sure you use a large bowl as the mixture expands enormously in volume as the bicarb fizzes away. Add the liquid mixture to the oat mixture and stir to combine.
                Place tablespoon’s full of the mixture onto baking sheets lined with baking paper. Do make sure to leave sufficient room on all sides of each biscuit for spreading, otherwise you’ll end up with one giant Biscuit. Cook in the oven for about 15. If you like your biscuits soft, like I do, check every 2 minutes after the ten minute mark. They should look slightly golden but when touched, they should be very soft. They might seem like they need longer at this stage, but trust me, they will harden out of the oven and end up being perfectly soft and chewy. I like these best still warm from the oven, but you can’t eat a whole batch straight away, so I recommend that you leave them to cool on the trays before stowing them into airtight containers. They should last for nearly a week.

    Yields 25-35 biscuits

    Monday, 7 May 2012

    Death by Chocolate pudding

    There is so much to love about a steamed pudding, not least because they can be prepared well in advance and left to simmer away gently on the stove for a few hours, but also because an unmoulded steamed pudding is such a joy to behold. Standing proudly, thick chocolate ganache oozing down its perfectly sloped sides, the steamed pudding has, let's face it, a great deal more charm than its baked cousin. Why is it then that the steamed pudding seems to have fallen off the radar? I just don't know why.......One thing's for sure, I plan on reintroducing it into my household in the approaching winter months: What better sight on a cold winter's night than a lovely pudding?
    Very messy indeed!

    Do try and make this pudding, 'Chocolate pudding for Christmas pudding haters' from Nigella Christmas, for your own family. I'm afraid that I wasn't able to try it myself, as I have been unwell, but the feedback was this: the sponge is light as a feather and wonderful on its own. I think everyone agreed that the ganache, lovely as it was, was just a bit too much on top of the pudding. So, if you are a chocoholic, you'll probably love it with the ganache. If not, either make a half batch of ganache to serve alongside, so that each portion has just a drizzle, or eliminate completely. Serve hot with custard, cream and/or ice cream. And for goodness' sakes, be careful when you unmould the hot pudding.

    The uncooked pudding- If, like me, you don't own a plastic basin, pour the batter into buttered ceramic basin, then cover the top with on layer of baking paper and two layers of foil. Smooth down around the rim and secure tightly with twine. NEVER put a ceramic pudding basin into boiling water as the temperature difference between the basin and the water could cause your basin to crack. Place in a pot with cold water, coming halfway up the side of the pudding. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Check the water level as you go and top up with water from a recently boiled kettle if it gets too low. If you tie the top as I have above, you'll be able to remove it very easily from the pot to serve. 

    Saturday, 21 April 2012

    My very own Chocolate Chip Cookie production line

    My brother, Dominic, was running a Rugby camp for 9-year-olds this week, so I figured the least I could do was volunteer to make some afternoon tea. Of course, when you have 40 9-year-old boys, ravenous after hours spent running through the bush in the pouring rain, you need to have A LOT OF COOKIES. I believe I made 110 cookies all up and, like a mad woman, I  counted all 995 of the choc chips and divided them equally among the cookies to avoid any arguments between the young'ns over who had the most.

    Although I was not present at the camp, I heard via the grape vine that they were devoured greedily by the boys. It is, I must confess, a wickedly good cookie dough. I think it is the salt that makes it so moorish. That cloying after-taste, which lingers at the back of your throat when you eat too much sugar, seems to be absent with the addition of a teaspoon of salt. I'm not sure if there is any truth in the claim that 'a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down', however I'm quite convinced that salt does just that with sugar.

    Wednesday, 18 April 2012

    Macaron and Cupcake Masterclass

    On Sunday I was lucky enough to spend a whole day at a Cupcake decorating and Macaron Masterclass at Carrick College: a christmas gift from my big brother, Ben. In the morning we made the macarons shells, Cream cheese frosting, butter cream and chocolate ganache. After lunch our teacher demonstrated red velvet cupcakes and we decorated a batch of enormous vanilla cupcakes with the cream cheese frosting and butter cream we'd made earlier. Don't let the red colour of my macarons fool you. They were neither raspberry nor strawberry in flavour. In fact, I flavoured my buttercream with coffee extract and Kalua, for wonderful coffee flavoured macarons and, of course, the remainder were filled with chocolate ganache.

    It was a great day and the best part of it all was coming home at the end of the day with an enormous box of coffee and chocolate macarons, as well as cream cheese frosting and fondant topped cupcakes to enjoy with my family. Thanks Ben for the wonderful present! Here are some photos for you all to enjoy.