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Biscuits/Cookies, Food, Recipes

Brown Butter Choc Chip Cookies with Sea Salt

It seems it is indeed possible to improve on perfection. I’ve been making my delicious Choc Chip Cookie recipe for years now, but the other day I wondered if I could make it even better.

I’ve heard of the idea of browning your butter before adding it to baking, giving the dessert a nutty, toasted flavour that makes baked goods seem that much richer. And after recently trying a sea salt and chocolate chip cookie, I knew this adds yet another layer of flavour and contrast on top.

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So I decided to do both. And fortunately, the browned butter + sea salt combination was a WINNER. It turned these delicious cookies from amazing to downright phenomenal (if I do say so myself). Thanks to the brown sugar in the recipe, these cookies are chewy in the middle and crunchy on the outside. The brown butter and sea salt add both richness and contrast and I like to top with a little more sea salt for crunch.

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Brown Butter Choc Chip Cookies with Sea Salt
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 20
Ingredients
  • 70g butter (for browning)
  • 70g butter (room temperature)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 egg (room temperature)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1½ cups plain flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp sea salt plus more to decorate
  • 250g chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 170°C.
  2. Put half the butter (70g) into a small saucepan over a medium heat. As the butter melts, it will begin to foam and turn brown. Once you smell a nutty aroma, take the pan off the heat and transfer the butter into a heat-proof bowl to cool.
  3. Meanwhile, cream the remaining butter and sugars for at least 5 minutes until the mixture becomes light and fluffy.
  4. Add the egg, vanilla extract and cooled brown butter and beat well.
  5. Add choc chips, flour, baking soda, baking powder and sea salt. Beat on low speed until just combined (don't overwork the mixture or it can become tough).
  6. Dollop tablespoon sized balls of cookie dough onto lined baking trays.
  7. Gently flatten each cookie and add an extra sprinkle of sea salt over each cookie.
  8. Bake until cookies are golden around the edges, around 12-14 minutes.

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It turns out it is incredibly easy to make browned butter, you just have to keep a close eye on it as it turns from “golden and delicious” to “burnt and acrid” in the space of 30 seconds. Now I am trying to think of all the other desserts I can incorporate brown butter into – cupcakes, brownies, donuts?! The list goes on.

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I really hope you give these cookies a try, it’s one of the best I’ve made and eaten (and I consider myself a bit of a cookie connoisseur). Enjoy!

Have you used browned butter in baking before?

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Drinks, Food, Recipes

Boozy Hot Chocolate

I feel like the only thing better than hot chocolate is boozy hot chocolate. I made a rather impressive Chai Hot Chocolate drink recently and managed to make it even tastier with the addition of Kahlua and Frangelico!

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This boozy hot chocolate is the perfect treat to cap off to a delicious meal, and you can make it in under 3 minutes. And I’m sure you know how much I love my Single Serve Recipes!

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Boozy Hot Chocolate
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 1
Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1-2 tbsp icing sugar (depending on how sweet you like it)
  • 20g good quality dark chocolate, chopped finely
  • 250ml milk
  • 1 tsp Kahlua
  • 1 tsp Frangelico
Instructions
  1. Add cocoa powder and icing sugar to 250ml of milk and microwave on medium high for 1-2 minutes.
  2. Add in finely chopped dark chocolate, Kahlua and Frangelico and stir until combined.
  3. Top with an extra dusting of hot chocolate mix, or add some whipped cream for a more indulgent twist.

It’s easy to adapt this to a summer drink too, simply add a tablespoon of boiling water to your cup, stir in the cocoa power and icing sugar, fill with cold water and top with iced cubes. Then add your liqueurs and chopped dark chocolate and voila! The perfect afternoon indulgence.

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Drinks, Food, Recipes

Strawberry and Mint Lemonade using SodaStream

The weather is heating up in Australia as summer approaches and I am always on the look out for a delicious new drink to whip up and enjoy on a lazy afternoon. Now it’s easy to make your own personalised drinks with a few simple ingredients thanks to the SodaStream Play!

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Created by world-renowned designer Yves Behar, this home carbonation system is a simple (and fun!) way to turn plain tap water into something more creative. You literally press down on the machine and voila. Instantly carbonated water!

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The SodaStream Play comes in black, blue, red and white and brand new yellow and grey and is a new interpretation of the shape and material selection of the SodaStream system.

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If you’re unsure of what drinks to create, the SodaStream Play comes with a variety of flavourings including cola, orange, lemon-lime and pink grapefruit. I’m not a huge fan of overly sweet drinks, so my favourite was their new “Naturals” variety pack that naturally flavoured and sweetened, with no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives plus lower in calories.

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I was tossing up between the green tea-lychee flavour and the fresh lemonade and settled on the latter. You can’t beat good old lemonade!

The SodaStream Caps are extremely easy to use, once you’ve carbonated your tap water, you simply twist the cap onto the top of the bottle, click into place and let the flavour drip in.

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To give the drink an extra hit of flavour, I paired it with fresh strawberries and mint, always a winning combination in my books. And because I love lemon, I topped the drink off with a final squeeze of fresh lemon.

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Strawberry and Mint Lemonade using the SodaStream
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • Tap water
  • SodaStream Fresh Lemonade Cap
  • 1 Lemon
  • 1 handful of strawberries
  • Mint leaves, some whole, some finely chopped
Instructions
  1. Place tap water into SodaStream PET bottle and insert into the SodaStream Play machine.
  2. Gently press down on the machine once for light carbonation, twice for medium or three times for a very carbonated beverage.
  3. Once tap water has been carbonated, place the SodaStream Fresh Lemonade Cap to the top of the bottle, click down and let the flavouring flow in.
  4. Take 2 glasses (or mason jars for extra cool points) and place in a few sliced strawberries and mint leaves at the bottom of each vessel.
  5. Poor the lemonade drink in, add a generous squeeze of fresh lemon and stir until combined.
  6. Enjoy!

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The drink was fruity and refreshing, and the addition of vodka would make it the perfect summer cocktail!

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I can’t wait to try out SodaStream’s other flavour caps and make some more delicious drinks. I think I’m addicted.

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Win one of 2 x Sodastream Play machines

Would YOU like a chance to win your very own SodaStream Play? Tell me what drink you would create with your SodaStream Play in the comments and the 2 best answers will each win a machine valued at RRP$99!

Giveaway terms and conditions: Giveaway is open to Australian residents only and entries close 9am 10th November 2014. The 2 most original and creative comments will be chosen and the winners will be contacted via email.

This post was sponsored by SodaStream

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Drinks, Food, Recipes

Jarrah Hot Chocolate

I think it’s fairly obvious I have a huge sweet tooth, and always feel the desire to finish a meal off with something sweet. This is all well and good until the kilos started piling on after a rather indulgent winter, and suddenly reaching for a chocolate bar or pudding isn’t the most sensible option.

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Jarrah’s range keeps expanding, and flavours now include Frothy Classic, Extreme Chocolate, Hazelnut, White Chocolate, Chocolate Mint and Chocolate Orange.

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So what does slimming down have to do with hot chocolate, I hear you ask? Well at under 62 calories a cup, hot chocolate is becoming my new favourite treat alternative – I have a few packets stashed at home and in the office!

I actually learned of this “diet secret” when a friend was doing a well-known 12 week challenge. The guru often suggested treating yourself to a low-cal hot chocolate drink to curb chocolate cravings and keep you fuller for longer.

Here are my 3 favourite ways to indulge without the guilt:

At the office

My favourite hot chocolate flavour is the Frothy Classic, which I love to prepare in my beloved tea cup. It’s a quick and easy way to treat yourself without the high calories.

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At home

My strawberry white hot chocolate drink is a quick and easy way to make the White Chocolate drink even more special. Simply add half a teaspoon of strawberry essence when making the hot chocolate and garnish with a strawberry or two!

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On a hot afternoon

If you still want a treat but the idea of a hot drink leaves you hot and bothered, try making a super easy iced choc-hazelnut drink. Simply add a tablespoon of boiling water to your cup, stir in the powder, fill with cold water and top with iced cubes.

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The kind folks at Jarrah have provided me with a delicious hamper of goodies to give away to one lucky reader including the full range of Jarrah products (1 x packet of each flavour) and a mug!

Tell me, what is your favourite way to prepare hot chocolate?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Brought to you by Nuffnang and Jarrah

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Donuts, Food, Recipes

Mini Baked Donuts with Dark Chocolate Ganache

Donuts! Who doesn’t love donuts! I thought I’d try and make a “healthier” version by baking them in the oven instead of deep frying these little beauties, however my decision to coat them in a decadent dark chocolate ganache probably negated that.

mini-choc-donuts
I won’t lie, I had to test this recipe 3 times before I got it right. I tried a yeast-based baked donut, which just tasted like dry bread. I then tried a cake version (ie leavened with baking powder), however I didn’t have a proper donut pan so it swelled into one uber donut.

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A friend heard of my donut woes and kindly donated me her mini-donut pan (you can buy one here).

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I tried the cake version of the donuts again using the donut pan and they came out perfectly, just make sure you grease the pan well as they can stick.
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Mini Baked Donuts with Dark Chocolate Ganache
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 12
Ingredients
Donuts
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • ⅓ cup caster sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 50g butter, melted
  • 1 egg
Dark Chocolate ganache
  • 100g Dark Chocolate, finely chopped
  • ⅓ cup thickened cream
Instructions
Donuts
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C and grease your donut pan with flavourless oil.
  2. In a medium bowl combine flour, sugar and baking powder.
  3. Stir in milk, butter and egg until combined.
  4. Transfer mixture to a sandwich bag and cut a corner to make a small hole.
  5. Using your DIY piping bag, pipe a circle of mixture into each donut hole so that it's approx ½ full.
  6. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
Dark Chocolate ganache
  1. Heat cream up into the microwave until warm (not boiling) and then add finely chopped chocolate, stirring until melted and combined.
  2. Dip the top of the donuts into the chocolate mixture, decorate with sprinkles, and place on a cooling tray to set.

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What’s your favourite donut topping? I’m thinking of trying a fresh strawberry glaze next time! 

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Food, Recipes, Slices/Pies/Tarts

Salted Caramel Popcorn Brownies

After last year’s slightly traumatic Sweet Swap (I ruined my sweets 3 times in a row), I wasn’t sure if I’d sign up to The Sweet Swap again. But let’s be honest, the only thing I love more than making baked goods is receiving baked goods!

caramel-popcorn-brownie

I wanted to bake something decadent yet sturdy, as my caramels arrived to my matches a little melted last year. I settled on a fudgey dark chocolate brownie with a caramel popcorn base and topping, and salted caramel drizzle. Fortunately I made extras for my own tasting pleasure as these were AWESOME. And I got them right the first time! Phew!

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Salted Caramel Popcorn Brownies
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 24
Ingredients
Caramel Popcorn
  • ½ cup of popcorn kernels
  • 3 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup golden syrup
  • 60 g butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
Dark Chocolate Brownies
  • 375g soft butter
  • 375g dark chocolate
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 2¼ cups caster sugar
  • 1¾ cups plain flour
  • 1 tsp salt
Salted Caramel topping
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp butter
Instructions
Caramel Popcorn
  1. Line a baking tray with baking paper, set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan on medium high heat. Put a few popcorn kernels into the oil and cover the saucepan.
  3. Once the kernels pop, add the rest of the ½ cup of popcorn kernels in an even layer.
  4. Cover, remove from the heat and count 30 seconds. This method I have learnt first heats the oil to the right temperature, then waiting 30 seconds brings all of the other kernels to a near-popping temperature so that when they are put back on the heat, they all pop at about the same time.
  5. Return the pan to the heat. The popcorn should begin popping soon, and all at once. Once the popping starts vigorously, gently shake the pan by moving it back and forth over the burner. Try to keep the lid slightly ajar to let the steam from the popcorn release (the popcorn will be drier and crisper). Once the popping slows to several seconds between pops, remove the pan from the heat, remove the lid, and dump the popcorn immediately into a wide bowl.
  6. Break up ¾ of the popcorn into small bits, this will become the base of the brownie. Leave the remaining ¼ as is in a separate bowl.
  7. Now, on to the caramel. In the same saucepan, place sugar, golden syrup, butter, vanilla extract and heat on low to medium heat until sugar has dissolved.
  8. Increase to medium heat (but watch it like a hawk, sugar burns easily) and cook without stirring for around 2 minutes (please note this is a reduced cooking time as it continues to cook in the oven).
  9. Stir in baking soda and then add popcorn and stir furiously to coat kernels all over before the caramel starts to set.
  10. Quickly press ¾ of the broken up popcorn into a lined 33 x 25 x 5.5 cm pan.
  11. Spread the remaining ¼ out onto the lined baking tray and allow to cool and set.
Brownies
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C.
  2. Melt the butter and chocolate together in the microwave in short bursts on medium.
  3. In a bowl beat the eggs with the sugar and vanilla.
  4. Sift the flour into another bowl and add the salt.
  5. Let the chocolate mixture cool a bit before beating in the egg and sugar mixture, and then the flour.
  6. Pour over popcorn base and bake for 30-40 minutes (but can often take longer).
  7. When it’s ready the top should be dried to a pale brown but the middle still dark and gooey.
Salted Caramel topping
  1. Once the brownies are cool, slice into even squares. Top each square with a few pieces of the remaining caramel popcorn.
  2. Put the brown sugar and butter in a small pan and heat on medium for 5 minutes, then drizzle over the top of each brownie.
  3. Enjoy!

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These were bundled up in little polka dot boxes and sent to:

Sandra from The $120 Food Challenge

Alex from Eating Adelaide

Lauren from Create Bake Make

I hope they all enjoyed them!

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And what did I receive? First up was Wonka Fudge from Bryton of Bryton Taylor!. It unfortunately melted enroute but after a quick visit to the freezer they were good to go.

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3 types of chocolate bark from Shari of Good Food Week! There was Christmas Inspired (white chocolate, cranberries, shortbread and pistachios) A Night at the Movies (milk chocolate, popcorn, marshmallows and pretzels) and Mummy’s Healthy Treat (dark chocolate, dried fruit and pecans)!

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And last but certainly not least were the Raw Vegan Bounty Bars from Cassie at Food My Friend. Raw and vegan aren’t 2 words I usually associate with dessert but these were absolutely delicious!

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Drinks, Food, Recipes

Chai Hot Chocolate

I find most store bought hot chocolate mixes are a little too sweet and artificial tasting for my liking. But it’s so easy to make your own hot chocolate powder and I’ve turned it up a notch by adding in chai spices and finely chopped dark chocolate. You can fully customise the level of sweetness and flavourings you add, plus it makes a great gift!

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I always have recycled jars lying about the house that I have rinsed and stored, and they work as perfect storage and gifting devices. You can also find plenty of mason jars at two dollar stores. Just add a ribbon (or chalkboard label like I found) and voila! Your friends and family will love you!

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Chai Hot Chocolate
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 30
Ingredients
  • 2tsp cinnamon
  • 2tsp ginger
  • 2tsp cardamon
  • ½ tsp cloves
  • ½tsp nutmeg
  • 2 cups icing sugar
  • 1½ cups cocoa powder
  • 50g good quality dark chocolate, chopped finely
  • Milk, to serve
Instructions
  1. Sift all ingredients into a medium bowl, add in the chopped dark chocolate and stir until well combined.
  2. Store the hot chocolate mix in an airtight container.
  3. To make hot chocolate, add 1 heaped tablespoon of the mix to 250ml of milk (or non-dairy substitute) and microwave on medium high for 1-2 minutes.
  4. Top with an extra dusting of hot chocolate mix, or add some whipped cream for a more indulgent twist.

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Versions

♥ Mexican Hot Chocolate

Replace chai mix with 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 1 pinch of chilli or cayenne powder (to taste).

♥ Vegan Chai Hot Chocolate

Substitute milk for coconut milk and top with whipped coconut cream.

Iced Chai Latte

Mix a tablespoon of hot chocolate mix with a few tablespoons of boiling water and stir until dissolved. Add mix to 250ml of chilled milk and top with ice.

♥ Boozy Chai Hot Chocolate

Stay tuned for the recipe soon!

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Cakes, Food, Recipes

Strawberry and Coconut Cake Pops

This is my first foray into the world of Cake Pops, which are cake crumbled and mixed with icing, rolled into balls and then dipped in melted chocolate. I hate to waste food, and I had a lot of left over cake and icing from my Strawberry and Coconut Ombre Cakes. So cake pops were the logical solution!

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Combining the different layers of strawberry and coconut created not only a tasty flavour combination, but also quite a beautiful effect with different shades of peach and pink marbled together. If you haven’t made my Ombre Cakes but still want to create your own cake pops fear not, you can purchase store-bought cake and icing from the supermarket if you’re in a rush. Otherwise bake your favourite cake in whatever flavour you like and your preferred icing and you can perfectly customise this recipe to your liking. Next time I think I might crumble chocolate and peanut butter cake together and then cover in dark chocolate. Yum!

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While these are a bit fiddly and time consuming to make, the visual and flavour mix of the strawberry and coconut cake is paired perfectly with a white chocolate coating. I then decorated them with edible glitter because why not?

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Strawberry and Coconut Cake Pops
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 20+
Ingredients
Cake Pops
  • Offcuts from the Ombre Cakes, otherwise you can buy ready-made cake from the supermarket or make your favourite cake from scratch and wait for it to cool
  • Leftover cream cheese icing from the Ombre cakes (about ¼ cup) or make a small portion of your own buttercream
To decorate
  • 375g packet white chocolate melts
  • Edible glitter, sprinkles or cachous
  • Lollypop sticks
Instructions
Cake Pops
  1. Break up cooled cake with your hands into a large bowl until finely crumbled.
  2. Add in the icing a tablespoon at a time, folding it through with your hands until the mixture comes together easily. You might need more or less icing depending on how moist your cake is.
  3. Using a small ice cream scoop or a large tablespoon, portion out the mixture and roll into equal balls.
  4. Insert a lollypop stick into each ball and arrange on a tray lined with baking paper.
  5. Transfer to the freezer to firm up for a while (I left them in there for 15 minutes).
  6. Melt the white chocolate in the microwave on a medium setting, stirring every 30 seconds until smooth.
  7. Carefully dip each cake pop into the melted white chocolate. Gently tap and rotate until the excess chocolate falls off.
  8. Quickly sprinkle with edible glitter or sprinkles before the chocolate hardens. If you have a cake pop stand or piece of styrofoam allow them to harden upright, otherwise return the cake pops to the lined tray to set.
  9. Enjoy!

Cake pops are perfect for parties and kids go nuts for them, so it’s a good skill to add to the baking repertoire. Enjoy!

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Cakes, Food, Recipes

Strawberry and Coconut Ombré Cakes

I’ve always been intrigued but a little threatened by Ombré cakes, but when JJ from 84th and 3rd announced a new SABH challenge for Ombré, I knew I had to step up to the challenge.

So what is ombré, I hear you ask? Ombré is the French word for colour that is shaded or graduated in tone. The technique can be applied to hair, nails, and of course, cake.

Obviously I wanted these to be pretty, but I wanted them to stand out a little from the rest of the picture-perfect-made-for-pinterest cakes I have seen flooding the internet lately. So I thought, why not make them ombré in flavour too?

ombre-cakes

I had a little brainstorm and soon enough I had scribbled down a wonky drawing of a dessert idea. The top was a white coconut-flavoured cake, the next layer a pale pink with a subtle coconut flavour, then a darker pink  cake with a subtle strawberry flavour, and finished off with a dark pink and strongly flavoured strawberry base.

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Strawberry and Coconut Ombré Cakes
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 10
Ingredients
Ombre Cakes
  • 230g butter, softened
  • 1¾ cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup milk, room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1½ cups self-raising flour
  • 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Coconut essence
  • Strawberry essence
  • Pink food colouring
Cream cheese icing
  • 4-5 cups sifted icing sugar
  • 100g butter at room temperature
  • 250g cream cheese at room temperature
Instructions
Ombre Cakes
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Line 4 20cm round cake tins with baking paper and grease the sides.
  2. Cream the butter with an electric mixer until smooth in a large bowl.
  3. Gradually add the sugar and beat for 3 minutes until fluffy.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  5. Sift the 2 flours and salt into a separate bowl.
  6. Add the dry ingredients in 3 parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla. Do not overmix!
  7. Divide the mixture into 4 separate bowls (I used digital scales for accuracy).
  8. For the top layer, add no colouring and 1-2 tablespoons of coconut essence.
  9. For the second layer, add a tiny drop of pink food dye and 1 teaspoon of coconut essence.
  10. For the third layer, add more pink food dye and 1 teaspoon of strawberry essence.
  11. For the bottom layer, add a generous amount of pink food dye and 1-2 tablespoons of strawberry essence. Try and stir each bowl as gently as possible.
  12. Pour each batter into their lined cake tins and bake for 20-25 minutes until lightly golden brown.
  13. Allow to cool in the tin for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.
Cream Cheese Icing
  1. Cream the butter and icing sugar together until well mixed.
  2. Add the cream cheese in cubes slowly until incorporated. Continue mixing for 5 minutes until the icing is light and fluffy.
Assembly
  1. Use a round cookie cutter (approx 10cm in diameter) to cut out 5 rounds per cake.
  2. Place the dark pink strawberry cake on the bottom of your serving platter, and pipe a layer of cream cheese icing on the top. Place the second pink layer of pink and repeat the process, gently pressing down each layer.
  3. Pipe a rose on the top of each ombre cake (I use the Wilton 1M tip) and ta da!

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The flavours complemented each other perfectly and the cream cheese icing ensured it wasn’t sickly sweet.

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And what about the cake offcuts? Well, I hate wasting food so I transformed the leftovers into cake pops! Stay tuned for the recipe next week. **Edit – check out the cake pop recipe here**

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I can’t wait to see what everyone else created!

Breakfast/Snacks, Food, Recipes

Coconut, Berry and Chia Porridge

Cold winter mornings equals porridge in my books – it’s like a big warm hug. I’ve been making this coconut, berry and chia porridge religiously for the past 2 months and I’m still not sick of it!

Using coconut milk instead of cow’s milk not only gives it a great coconutty flavour, but means it’s dairy-free and suitable for vegans. You can also easily substitute the oats for quinoa flakes to make it gluten-free too!

coconut-berry-chia-porridge

I generally make a batch of this on Sunday night and take it to work in a Tupperware container, portioning it out and reheating it each morning. Sometimes I’ll top it with some frozen berries or grated apple for a bit of extra sweetness.

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Coconut, Berry and Chia Porridge
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups quick oats
  • 1 400ml can coconut milk
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract
  • 1 cup frozen berries
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • Shredded coconut (optional)
Instructions
  1. Combine the oats, coconut milk, water and vanilla in a saucepan.
  2. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes, until soft, thick creamy.
  3. Add in frozen berries and chia seeds and stir for another minute until warmed through.
  4. Top with more berries and coconut to serve, or try some grated apple on top if you like it a bit sweeter.

 

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What’s your favourite thing to eat in winter?

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Cupcakes, Food, Recipes

Dark Chocolate and Strawberry Cupcakes

I get my baking inspiration from a huge range of sources, from a pin I see on Pinterest, to a dessert I try at a restaurant whilst abroad. This week’s inspiration was from a block of Lindt chocolate my mother gave me when I was feeling sick. “Chocolate is very therapeutic” she said (what a wise woman).

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The richly dark chocolate contrasted well with the sharp and fruity slivers of freeze dried strawberry. It was delicious and a flavour combo I wanted to convert into cupcake form.

dark-choc-strawberry-cupcakes

Strawberries are used 3 ways in this recipe, firstly as a fresh strawberry cupcake filling, next as a strawberry buttercream and finally as an eye catching and delicious chocolate-dipped decoration.

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Dark Chocolate and Strawberry Cupcakes
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 18
Ingredients
Dark Chocolate Cupcakes
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ tbsp white vinegar
  • ½ cup brewed coffee
  • ¼ cup flavourless vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
Fresh Strawberry Filling
  • ½ punnet strawberries, finely chopped (around 1 cup)
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar (tailor this depending on how sweet your strawberries are)
Strawberry Buttercream
  • 120g butter, softened
  • 4-6 cups icing sugar
  • ½ cup milk, room temperature
  • 1 tsp strawberry extract
Decoration
  • Strawberries
  • Dark chocolate for dipping
Instructions
Fresh Strawberry Filling
  1. Finely chop strawberries and place in a small saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Add in lemon juice, cornstarch and icing sugar and let bubble over the heat for 5 minutes, stirring often.
  3. Remove the mixture from the heat and allow to cool, if it’s still a bit chunky then squash with a potato masher.
Dark Chocolate Cupcakes
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line 24 muffin tins with cupcake papers.
  2. Sift flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl and set aside.
  3. Combine the milk, vinegar, coffee, oil and vanilla extract in another bowl. Beat in the eggs one at a time until well combined.
  4. With the mixer on low, carefully add in the dry ingredients. Mix until combined (the batter will be very thin).
  5. Fill cupcake liners about ⅔ full with mixture.
  6. Place a teaspoon of fresh strawberry filling into the middle of each cupcake.
  7. Bake for 25 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
  8. Allow to cool in the tin for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.
Strawberry Buttercream
  1. Place the softened butter in a large mixing bowl and beat until smooth.
  2. Gradually add in 4 cups of sugar, then the milk and strawberry extract (adding gradually prevents the icing from going grainy).
  3. Beat for around 3-5 minutes until smooth and creamy.
  4. Gradually add the remaining sugar until it is thick enough to ice the cupcakes (you may not need all the sugar).
  5. Spoon the mixture into an icing bag with a nozzle attached and ice the cupcakes.
Decoration
  1. Wash and try the strawberries.
  2. Melt the chocolate in a bowl in short bursts in the microwave until smooth.
  3. Dip each strawberry into the melted chocolate until well covered, letting excess chocolate drip off into the bowl.
  4. Place on a baking paper lined tray to dry.
  5. Repeat the process until all strawberries are done, then adorn each cupcake with a strawberry.

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I ran out of chocolate dipped strawberries, but fortunately these cupcakes also look beautiful as little pink  roses!

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I deliberately reduced the sugar in these cupcakes and increased the liquid ratio (from milk, coffee and oil) and it produced the most darkly rich and moist cupcake I have created to date.

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If I was to create another cupcake inspired by a chocolate bar, what would you suggest?

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Cakes, Food, Recipes

Salted Caramel and Tim Tam Cheesecake

This decadent cake combines three of my favourite things – salted caramel, Tim Tams and cheesecake. And unsurprisingly, they each complement each other perfectly. However, you just might need a lie down after eating a slice.

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This cheesecake is simple to make and just requires a bit of patience to allow each layer to set. You can cut a corner by buying your salted caramel (I used Bonne Maman Caramel Spread) or you can find my recipe for salted caramel here.

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Salted Caramel and Tim Tam Cheesecake
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 12
Ingredients
Base
  • 250g packet of Tim Tams, crushed (I used dark chocolate)
  • ½ cup desiccated coconut
  • 100g butter, melted
Filling
  • 500g cream cheese, room temperature
  • ¾ cup – 1 cup icing sugar (to taste)
  • 200ml double cream
  • ½ cup salted caramel
Ganache
  • 115 grams dark chocolate, chopped
  • ⅓ cup double cream
  • 1 tsp butter
Topping
  • ½ cup salted caramel
  • A few crushed Tim Tams
Instructions
Base
  1. In a food processor, finely crush the Tim Tams. Add coconut and melted butter and pulse until combined.
  2. Press the biscuit mixture into a 23cm/9″ round spring form cake tin and put in the fridge to set.
Filling
  1. Place the cream cheese and icing sugar in a large mixing bowl and beat until smooth.
  2. Add in the double cream and beating until smooth and creamy.
  3. Pour the salted caramel over the top and use a skewer or chopstick to gently swirl through the cheesecake.
  4. Pour onto the cooled biscuit base and put in the fridge to set for at least 3 hours,
Ganache
  1. Bring the cream and butter to boil in a small saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Pour the hot cream mixture over the chocolate and stir until smooth and glossy.
  3. Pour the ganache over the cheesecake and return it to the fridge to set.
Topping
  1. To serve, release the cheesecake from it’s springform pan and serve on a cake stand or nice plate. It is best served at room temperature.
  2. Drizzle the remaining ½ cup of salted caramel over the top of the cheesecake, allowing it to drip over the edges, and finish off with some Tim Tam shards.

This cheesecake works well with any chocolate biscuit, so if you don’t like Tim Tams (you monster!) or you can’t get them in your country, substitute any biscuit/cookie that you like.

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Dat ooze.

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I had a little “assistant” when shooting the cheesecake outside. Molly was very insistent on sampling some cheesecake but alas she left with none.

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What’s your favourite type of cheesecake to make?

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Cupcakes, Food, Recipes

Dairy-Free Chocolate Cupcakes

I’m usually rather heavy-handed with the butter and milk in my baking, so when I was asked by a client to bake some dairy-free cupcakes for an upcoming hens party, I must admit I was a little nervous.

After a lot of research on dairy alternatives and testing some recipes in the kitchen, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that not only are these cupcakes as good as any buttery dessert, they are possibly the best chocolate cupcakes I’ve ever eaten!

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The large amount of cocoa powder in these cupcakes ensures they are dark, rich and chocolately, while the vege oil works amazingly well at keeping these cupcakes moist.

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Dairy-Free Chocolate Cupcakes
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 24
Ingredients
Dairy-Free Chocolate Cupcakes
  • 1⅔ cups plain flour
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup soy/almond/rice or oat milk
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 cup brewed coffee
  • ½ cup flavourless vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
Dairy-Free Chocolate Buttercream
  • 200g Nuttelex or another non-dairy butter substitute, softened
  • 6 cups icing sugar
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbs vanilla extract
  • ½ cup soy/almond/rice or oat milk
Instructions
Dairy-Free Chocolate Cupcakes
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line 24 muffin tins with cupcake papers.
  2. Sift flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl and set aside.
  3. Combine the non-dairy milk, vinegar, coffee, oil and vanilla extract in another bowl. Beat in the eggs one at a time until well combined.
  4. With the mixer on low, carefully add in the dry ingredients. Mix until combined (the batter will be very thin).
  5. Fill cupcake liners about ⅔ full with mixture and bake for 25 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
  6. Allow to cool in the tin for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.
Dairy-Free Chocolate Buttercream
  1. Place the softened Nuttelex in a large mixing bowl and beat until smooth.
  2. Gradually add in most of the sugar and cocoa, then the dairy-free milk, salt and vanilla (adding gradually prevents the icing from going grainy).
  3. Beat for around 3-5 minutes until smooth and creamy.
  4. Add the remaining sugar until it is thick enough to ice the cupcakes (you may not need all the sugar).

I had an overwhelmingly positive response from all the girls at the hens party, as well as my friends who were lucky enough to receive the leftovers. You would never guess they were “missing” anything!

You can also easily make these cupcakes vegan, by substituting the 2 eggs for Egg Replacer, found at most supermarkets.

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I love a good baking challenge, and have been slowly challenging myself to create dairy/gluten-free recipes as well as vegan and healthier options. I’ve made a delicious Choc Raspberry Vegan Mousse, Homemade Nutella and Cashew and Coconut Protein Balls – all dairy and gluten free!

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