I recently tried a coconut macaroon at Lorraine’s Patisserie and fell in love – it was so light and full of crunchy coconut. Heaven. (And before you ask, I am not talking about the often confused macaron, there is a recipe for one here if you like).
And since Easter is coming up, I couldn’t help but think the fluffy white balls looked vaguely like bunny tails (?!), and when pressed in the centre – birds nests!
These are ridiculously easy to make and have only 4 ingredients in them! You can also make them smaller and sandwich halves together with a ganache.
- 3 egg whites, room temperature
- 1½ cups caster sugar
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 1½ cups shredded coconut
- Preheat the oven to 180°C and line 2 baking trays with baking paper.
- Beat the egg whites in a bowl using an electric mixer until soft peaks form.
- Gradually add the sugar, beating constantly, until the mixture becomes stiff and glossy.
- Fold the vanilla extract through with a spatula.
- Gently fold the coconut through with your spatula. Be careful not to overmix the mixture as you will lose the volume of the egg whites.
- For big macaroons, use an icecream scoop to portion out the mixture onto your tray. If you want to sandwich them with a ganache later, use a teaspoon to portion the mixture.
- Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, or until the macaroons are slightly browned. Allow to cool completely before serving.
To make macaroon birds nests for Easter, gently press in the centre of each macaroon before they go into the oven to form a birds nest shape. Once the macaroons are cooked and completely cooled, fill with small Easter eggs (I used M&M Easter eggs). For another Easter-themed birds nest recipe, check out my Chocolate Peanut Butter Birds Nest Cupcakes.
What are you baking for Easter?
Friday night was spent enjoying the delights of Sydney’s top restaurants in Centennial Park at the Taste of Sydney Festival. They used the crown system again (1 crown = $1) and fortunately this year the crowns were stored digitally on a credit card. No fishing around in your purse for tickets!
I made a beeline for Four in Hand’s suckling pig, which I devoured last year too. This year it was served with potatoes as opposed to onion rings. The pork was rich and tender and contrasted nicely with the coleslaw.
Four in Hand – Spit Roast Suckling Pig with Coleslaw and Hot Sauce (12 crowns)
There were many women hovering around the Three Blue Ducks stand, possibly to catch a glimpse of Masterchef winner Andy preparing food in the back. And yes he’s gorgeous. Oh and the food was tasty too.
Three Blue Ducks – Duck, snow pea sprouts, green mango and chili jam (12 crowns)
A selection of delicious desserts from Croquembouche.
Also from Croquembouche, a rainbow of macarons!
This salad was refreshing and tangy with a nice piece of crackle on top (mandatory). The crisp rice was a great addition to the salad and added a nice crunchy texture.
Longrain – Roast Murray Valley pork salad with crisp rice, mint, chili, lime and peanuts (10 crowns)
The dishes from Biota Dining were only on Thursdays and Fridays as part of the “Destination Dining” section (Biota is in Bowral). I am usually pretty anti-seafood but took a bite of my friend’s after some persuading. The croquettes were crunchy and golden and not too greasy, and the crayfish was (fortunately) subtle and delicious!
Biota Dining – Croquettes with Southern Crayfish, Paleta and Biota garden onions (10 crowns)
I was already embarrassingly full by this stage so we decided to take an Absinthe break with Green Fairy. To be honest I found both the cocktails too sweet for my taste but I enjoyed the aniseed flavour the absinthe imparted.
The final main was from Sake and was a panko-fried pork belly dish. Genius!
Sake Restaurant & Bar – Tonkatsu cups. Panko-fried pork belly and spring onion bites served in lettuce cups (8 crowns)
I had been prattling on all night about the dessert everyone was talking about – the SALTED CARAMEL ECLAIR. I raced to Ananas. The choux pastry was light, the caramel cream filling rich and the strip of salted caramel on top set it off. Heaven! (Although if I’m really being fussy, it could have done with a little more salt).
Ananas Bar and Brasserie – Salted Caramel Eclair (6 Crowns)
Did you go to Taste of Sydney this year? What was your favourite dish?
This month’s Sweet Adventure’s Blog Hop theme is cocktail party! I have been wanting to try and make a champagne cupcake lately and thought this would be the perfect opportunity. I used champagne (well, Prosecco – I’m not rich!) in the cupcake batter to produce lovely fluffy and light cupcakes, and reduced champagne mixture in the buttercream for a hint of boozy flavour.
My favourite way to drink champagne is with a strawberry popped into the glass to absorb the delicious champagne and make for a boozy treat at the end. I made my own strawberry filling and left it intentionally quite tart to complement the sweet cupcake.
- 240g butter, room temp
- 1 cup castor sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1¾ cups flour
- ¼ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ½ cup sour cream
- ½ cup champagne (or prosecco or sparkling wine)
- 1 punnet strawberries, finely chopped (around 2 cups)
- Juice of ½ lemon
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 2 tbsp icing sugar (tailor this depending on how sweet your strawberries are)
- 1 cup champagne
- 250g butter, room temp
- 4 cups icing sugar
- Preheat oven to 180°C. Line 20 muffin tins with cupcake papers.
- Cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy in a large bowl.
- Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and mix. Combine flour, baking soda and baking powder in a separate bowl, set aside.
- In another bowl, whisk together the champagne and sour cream.
- Add flour and champagne mixture alternately, beginning and ending with flour.
- Fill cupcake liners about ¾ full with mixture and bake for 15-17 minutes until lightly golden brown.
- Allow to cool in the tin for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.
- Finely chop strawberries and place in a small saucepan over medium heat.
- Add in lemon juice, cornstarch and icing sugar and let bubble over the heat for 5 minutes, stirring often.
- Remove the mixture from the heat and allow to cool, if it’s still a bit chunky then squash with a potato masher.
- Make a small cross with a sharp knife in the top of each cupcake. Pour strawberry filling into a piping bag with small nozzle attached and pipe cooled strawberries into each cupcake.
- Simmer champagne over medium-high heat in a small saucepan until reduced to 2 tablespoons. Transfer to a small bowl and allow to cool completely.
- Place the softened butter in a large mixing bowl and beat until smooth.
- Gradually add in 4 cups of sugar until thick and fluffy.
- Pour in the reduced 2 tablespoons of champagne and continue mixing for another few minutes.
- Taste the icing, if you feel it needs a little more champagne flavour then add in another tablespoon straight from the bottle (no need to reduce it). Mix well afterwards.
- Spoon the mixture into an icing bag with a nozzle attached and ice the cupcakes.
St Patrick’s Day is on Sunday and it’s always a good excuse to add booze to desserts! I added Guinness beer to the batter of the dark chocolate cake, giving it a rich and slightly bitter depth which contrasted beautifully with the sweet Baileys cream cheese icing. This is possible one of my favourite chocolate cakes to make now, moist and dense but not too heavy.
- 1 cup Guinness beer
- 250g butter
- ⅔ cup cocoa powder
- 1¾ cups caster sugar
- 140 ml sour cream
- 2 eggs
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups plain flour
- 2½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 4-5 cups sifted icing sugar
- 100g butter at room temperature
- 250g cream cheese at room temperature
- 4-6 tbsps Baileys Irish Cream (to taste)
- Preheat oven 180°C and butter and line a 23cm springform tin.
- Melt the butter into the Guinness in a saucepan over low heat.
- Whisk in the cocoa and sugar and take the saucepan off the heat.
- Beat the sour cream with the eggs in a separate bowl until combined, than add to the beer mixture.
- Whisk in the flour and bicarb until combined.
- Pour the cake batter into the tin and bake for an hour. The middle of the cake may still be slightly wet when you take the cake out, but it will firm up as it cools down.
- Leave to cool completely in the tin as it is quite a damp cake and could collapse.
- Cream the butter and icing sugar together until well mixed.
- Add the cream cheese in cubes slowly until incorporated.
- Add in Baileys. Continue mixing for 5 minutes until the icing is light and fluffy.
- Dollop lashings of the icing onto the top of the cake to recreate the froth on a glass of Guinness. If you are feeling particularly dexterous, slice the cake length-wise and fill the cake with the icing too (there will be definitely be enough icing).
This icing recipe makes a lot, I spread mine just on top of the cake to emulate the froth on top of a glass of Guinness (and also possibly out of laziness and lack of time!). But feel free to ice the sides of the cake or even slice it in half horizontally and fill the cake with icing too. You can never have too much Baileys icing ;)
Today is International Women’s Day, a day to celebrate the respect, appreciation and love towards women (although shouldn’t that be every day?!) and honour the struggles of those who have fought and are still fighting for justice to get us where we are today. In some places like China, Russia, Vietnam and Bulgaria, International Women’s Day is actually a national holiday.
I am fortunately surrounded by a huge array of inspiring women in my life, however we need to reflect on those women around the world who don’t have the same rights, freedom and respect we enjoy in the developed world (with inequality still rife throughout the first world too).
I’m loving this poster made for the International Woman’s Day Special Edition of Kosova Times by Tabi Aziri.
How are you going to celebrate International Women’s Day? (And if you are a fella reading this, there is International Men’s Day too, on 19 November!)
I LOVE gelato and was very excited to attend a taste testing with Mel and Tara at the newly opened RivaReno gelato at 280 Crown St, Darlinghurst. This Australian branch of the established Italian gelato chain is the first to be opened outside its homeland.
All of the ingredients (except the eggs, fruit and nuts) are sourced and imported from Italy, including the milk which is raw alpine milk from the high Cuneese valleys.
RivaReno offers an array of traditional Italian flavours along with American-inspired tastes (think chocolate and peanut butter), Indian (mango yoghurt) and a range of fruity sorbets and granitas.
The gelato is not displayed in the typical ice-cream counter where customers can see the products. It is stored in the traditional Italian cylindrical containers known as “pozzetti”, which are deep inside the counter so as not to be exposed to the air for better conservation.
Now enough waffling on, let’s try some gelato! We start off with the sorbets which are dairy-free and contain more than 55% fruit. My favourite sorbet was Lampone (Raspberry), with just the right amount of sweet and tartness and oh so creamy in texture. The granitas were also delicious, with my favourite being the Pina Colada, a refreshing treat made with fresh coconut milk and pineapple.
Looking inside the pozzetti you can see just how velvety and smooth the texture of the gelato is. This is my second favourite flavour on the RivaReno menu and it is Fior di panna (Vanilla). This creamy and silky smooth gelato has a hint of bourbon vanilla and really showcases the high quality milk and cream used.
Another highlight was the Cioccolato Extra-Fondente (Extra-Dark Chocolate). Bitter Manjari cocoa is added to RivaReno’s Dark Chocolate recipe to produce a rich and decadent flavour.
As a Nutella freak, the first thing that caught my eye when I entered the store (and elicited a lot of squealing) was this giant container of gianduja – basically a chocolate hazelnut sauce. It possibly tastes even better than Nutella (big call, I know).
Their cones contain less sugar so that customers can actually taste the genuine flavours of the gelato rather than being “distracted” by the sweetness of the cones.
And what was my favourite flavour of all? Alice! Which also happens to be RivaReno’s most popular flavour. It features mascarpone combined with a splash of Masala and then topped with melted giandiuia. Heavenly.
We ofcourse had to indulge in a big scoop of Alice!
So how does it compare to it’s competitor down the road, Gelato Messina? To be honest it’s like comparing apples with oranges. Whilst Gelato Messina (who I love) is known for unique and outrageous flavour combinations (think peanut gelato with potato chips, honey and rosewater or rambutan and coconut) RivaReno sticks to it’s traditional Italian roots and does it very, very well.
I always love it when food and design collide and it frequently involves Pantone.
These Pantone Pairings of food on Instagram by Minneapolis based designer David Schwen are eye-catching, clever and I look forward to following this ongoing project. What flavour combination are you hoping he does next?
For more Pantone Pairings in this series go here
I was recently invited by Rachel (aka CreamyMiddles) to accompany her on an all expenses paid weekend away in Canberra – yes please! This is all part of a great marketing concept known as The Human Brochure - they invited 500 humans to come and experience Canberra first hand and then spread the word online (using the hashtag #humanbrochure) about all the great things we get up to.
We set off Friday afternoon and began our drive to Canberra. Bad traffic meant we arrived late, missing the bus to our welcome meeting, gah!
Fortunately the guys at Human Brochure had a backup plan and we were swiftly driven to the War Memorial in time for the welcome speech.
We were led on a tour around the War Memorial, the stained glass window inside the tomb of the unknown soldier was gorgeous.
And they had laid out a DAMN good dessert spread, I was in heaven!!
Then it was time to return to our hotel and properly explore it. East Hotel, is a 4.5 Star hotel pitched as a “contemporary design and lifestyle experience”. It’s pretty freaking amazing, from the modern artwork on the walls to the retro-styled furniture (and our room was larger than my apartment!)
The East Hotel’s mustard chair proved very popular with everyone who saw it and I spent a lot of time Instagramming in it!
Design quotes in the foyer
We were up early (for a Saturday!) and off to our first stop… Parliament House! The moody clouds provided a perfect backdrop.
Rachel and I were approved for security clearance! Phew.
I loved the ceiling inside Parliament House.
And there were beautiful courtyards…
And we were lucky enough to be allowed into our Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s office!
And then I stared at the flag pole… I think I prefer it from this angle.
Food time! Hooray! We had lunch at Two Before Ten, a fabulous cafe with great design.
Lunch was delicious and included great coffee, duck rillettes with figs, trout with brioche, tomato and ricotta salad, fresh baked grisini and a fennel salad.
We met Hank the Coffee Roaster and his human Sam gave us a talk on roasting coffee beans (which smells like popcorn to my untrained nose).
In the afternoon we headed off to the National Gallery of Australia. This “floating” ball was amazing.
What are we here to see? Toulouse-Lautrec ofcourse! Lautrec had a thing about painting redheads and prostitutes.. and in those days only prostitutes wore red lipstick. As a (faux) redhead who happened to be wearing red lipstick at the time, I was bought to the front of the group by our guide and declared that Lautrec “would have chased you through the streets of Paris to paint you”. Cheers.
Rachel viewing one of his works.
I bought a poster of my favourite work of his.
We headed off to the Sculpture Garden for champagne (as you do) and I was taken away by this amazing installation by Indonesian artist Dadang Christanto. It certainly had a bit of an Antony Gormley feel to it.
This fog sculpture by Fujiko Nakaya was another favourite of mine.
What time is it? It’s dinner time! We were off to Italian restaurant Mezzalira. My favourite was the ricotta, pumpkin and leek tortellini with burnt sage butter, delicious!
Next up was beetroot risotto, stinging nettle and caprino (cheese) – also very tasty and I will be trying to make this at home. I love bright pink risotto!
And our main, rare salt crusted Rangers Valley beef with cannelloni bean, roast beetroot, tarragon and horseradish. I’m usually a bit funny about eating meat so pink (I was vegetarian for 10 years after all!) but this was perfectly done.
And finally, cannoli with ricotta, rum and chocolate, pistachio and cherries.
I arrived back to my hotel and squealed with delight as they had left us another gift, this arvo it was wine, and that night it was salted caramels! Hands down the best salted caramel I’ve ever had.
Quite a few of us were nursing hangovers of varying degrees the next day (curse you matched wines) but we fortunately had a very pleasant morning – they gave us picnic blankets and breakfast boxes and we picnicked in the gardens of Old Parliament House.
We also sat for a group photo on the steps of Old Parliament House and there was a paparazzi shoot off!
That afternoon we headed off to the Old Bus Depot Markets, an amazing weekly market full of delicious produce and showcasing the wares of emerging designers.
I got *very* excited by these handmade cupcake stands from vintage crockery! I bought the mint green one on the far left :)
Our final stop on our whirlwind tour of Canberra was the Canberra Glassworks. We each got to design and make our own glass tile which was loads of fun! Here I am, concentrating very hard on my tile.
And here I am looking like a complete dweeb in my gumboots and safety glasses. Also samples of the coloured glass I used and my tile ready for the kiln (I will upload a picture of the finished tile when it has been posted to me!)
And we finished off the day with an amazing exhibition by glass artist Kirstie Rea. Beautiful!
An amazing weekend and huge thanks to the guys at Human Brochure. I had such great fun participating in all the activities you organised and had a great time promoting Canberra! Now I can say more than “Canberra has nice bike paths” next time I get asked :)
I don’t really celebrate Valentine’s Day, however I do love receiving gifts AND kitschy baking so I can’t complain. I found the most gorgeous Valentine’s Day cake toppers months ago and have been dying to bust them out. I pimped out my standard red velvet cupcake recipe by adding a white chocolate cream cheese icing (heaven, I can assure you) and putting a little surprise inside each cupcake…
I love you!
Sweets for my sweet
And what is the surprise inside each cupcake, I hear you ask? Something I see as synonymous with Valentine’s Day – Lindt balls! I used a selection of milk, dark, white and hazelnut balls.
- 120g butter (room temperature)
- 2 eggs
- 1⅓ cups caster sugar
- 4 tsp cocoa
- 4 tsp red food colouring
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 240ml buttermilk (or add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to normal milk)
- 2½ cups plain flour
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 tsp white wine vinegar
- 100g butter at room temperature
- 250g cream cheese at room temperature
- 250g white chocolate, melted and cooled
- 4-5 cups sifted icing sugar
- 24 Lindt balls
- Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line 24 muffin tins with cupcake papers.
- Cream the butter, sugar and eggs until light and fluffy.
- In a separate bowl mix the vanilla extract, cocoa powder and red food colouring into a paste. Add the paste to the creamed mixture.
- Add half the buttermilk and mix until combined, followed by half of the flour and baking powder. Mix until incorporated and then add the remainder of the buttermilk and flour and mix thoroughly.
- Add the salt, bicarbonate of soda and white wine vinegar and continue mixing for another 5 minutes until combined.
- Spoon the mixture into prepared muffin tin and fill approximately ¾ full. Pop a Lindt ball on top of each cupcake (they will sink as they bake).
- Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the cupcakes slightly spring back when touched.
- Allow the cupcakes to cool slightly in their tin before turning out onto a wire rack
- Melt the white chocolate in short bursts on a medium heat in the microwave. Set aside and cool until lukewarm.
- Beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth in a large bowl. Add in the lukewarm white chocolate.
- Gradually add in the icing sugar until incorporated. Continue mixing for 5 minutes until the icing is light and fluffy.
- Spoon icing into a piping bag and pipe swirls onto the cooled cupcakes.
I also made some little chocolates – hearts and cats, because I love cats! The heart moulds were a gift from a friend and the cat moulds I found in Japan.
My favourite is the sleeping kitty.
I’ve been seeing some amazing travel videos springing up on Vimeo lately and have been bookmarking each to share them with you. They sure are giving me itchy feet to explore the world again! I’m excited my new camera has HD video – I am looking forward to creating travel and food videos in the near future. Enjoy!
You know how much I love chocolate and how much I love Instagram, well now Cocoagraph offers a service where they convert your favourite Instagram photos into edible milk, white, dark or [...]
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