Jul 14, 2013

Salted Butter Caramels – The Sweet Swap

When I first heard about The Sweet Swap I was both excited and nervous. Excited at the prospect of receiving 3 treats from fellow food bloggers, yet nervous about baking something worthy (and postable!) to my fellow foodies.

My Salted Butter Caramels ended up looking and tasting great, but it wasn’t smooth sailing. My first batch was too soft and ended up a squidgy and delicious mess (if only I had followed my own instructions and heated the sugar to 160 degrees!). I burnt my second batch as I was too busy playing Candy Crush (oh, the irony! But seriously guys, don’t leave your bubbling caramel mixture for a second).

Feeling stressed and time-poor, I finally nailed it (third time lucky) – simply by paying attention and following my recipe. Derr Swah…

The caramel came out darkly golden, with a liberal dousing of flaked sea salt. I lightly greased my knife with vegetable oil spray to make the cutting job easier.

Each little caramel got it’s own rectangle of waxed paper to be wrapped in.

And with a little roll and some twists, they were sealed – and would hopefully survive their voyage around New South Wales and Victoria!

Salted Butter Caramels – My submission for The Sweet Swap
Prep time

Cook time

Total time


Serves: 60

  • 115g butter
  • ½ cup thickened cream
  • 3 tbsp water
  • ¼ cup golden syrup
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • ½ tsp table salt
  • 1 tsp sea salt to garnish

  1. Grease and line a 20cm square baking tin.
  2. Cut butter into small pieces and add cream into a microwaveable-proof bowl. Microwave on high until butter is melted. Set aside.
  3. In a small saucepan, combine water and golden syrup over a medium heat.
  4. Add in sugar, being careful to not get any on the sides of the saucepan as this will burn (if you do get some, brush off with a wet pastry brush).
  5. Put a candy thermometer into the saucepan and bring the mixture up to 160°C. This needs to be PRECISE.
  6. As soon as the sugar mixture reaches 160°C, add in roughly ¼ of the butter and cream mixture and stir.
  7. Keep repeating this process until all of the butter and cream mixture is incorporated. Be careful as the mixture can spit.
  8. As the butter and cream has cooled our caramel, we are bringing it back up to 118°C. Stir in table salt before pouring into prepared baking tin.
  9. Transfer the caramel to the fridge and allow to cool for 30 minutes before sprinkling over the sea salt.
  10. Return to the fridge and let the caramel set for around 4 hours or overnight.
  11. Once set, remove the caramel from its tin and slice into bite size pieces. If it starts getting too sticky, return to the fridge to refirm (or lightly greasing your knife helps too).
  12. Wrap each caramel up in waxed paper and ENJOY!

I wanted to keep my packaging simple and elegant, and I opted for black chinese takeaway boxes with laser-cut white adhesive lace. The wrapped caramels were placed in little plastic bags and tied up with a red ribbon.

And who got to receive my treats? Nic from Nic Cooks, Gareth from Humble Crumble and Amy from Melbourne Food Snob! I hope you guys all enjoyed your salted butter caramels :)

I eagerly awaited the arrival of my sweets and unfortunately they were held hostage at the post office for some time. I finally made it there and picked up all 3 at once! It was like Christmas!

First up, macadamia toffee crisps from Apricot Tart. These were dangerously addictive!

My next package was from Fluffy Makan. These Indonesian Cassava Cheese Cookies are uniquely salty and sweet and VERY tasty!

And my final package was from Polkadots and Chopsticks, a box full of delicious ginger and dark chocolate cookies! Yay!

Apart from a few hiccups in my baking process, The Sweet Swap was great fun and I loved sending off and receiving delicious treats in the mail (plus, we raised money for charity!) I highly suggest you participate next year and join in the fun!

Jul 11, 2013

Jelly Donut Cupcakes

I was recently asked by Pigeonhole Gatherings (run by the lovely Lauren and Katie, I designed their logo and identity) to bake for their charity bake sale at the Redwater Markets in Redfern to raise money for the Sydney Story Factory. The theme? Bake Sale vs Cake Stall, a good old USA vs Australia bake off! Food bloggers are a generous lot, and over 20 of them donated delicious baked treats for us to sell.

You might be surprised to hear I chose America’s side (sorry Australia, I still love you!) and wanted to combine 2 quintessentially America desserts – cupcakes and jelly donuts. And the Jelly Donut Cupcake was born. I also baked some ever-popular Red Velvet Cupcakes and am pleased to report they both sold out quickly.

The Jelly Donut Cupcake features a vanilla cupcake filled with jam (ie what the Americans call “jelly”) and covered in a cinnamon sugar icing. Heavenly!

I’ve included a recipe to make your own jam/jelly for the filling but if you’re short on time you can ofcourse use store-bought jam.

Jelly Donut Cupcakes
Prep time

Cook time

Total time


Serves: 24

  • 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
Jelly filling
  • 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)
Cinnamon Sugar Icing
  • 230g butter, softened
  • 6-8 cups icing sugar
  • ½ cup milk, room temperature
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Line 24 muffin tins with cupcake papers.
  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. Fill cupcake liners about ¾ full with mixture and bake for 20-25 minutes until lightly golden brown.
  8. Allow to cool in the tin for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.
Jelly 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.
  4. 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.
Cinnamon Sugar Icing
  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, cinnamon and vanilla (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.

What is your favourite American sweet treat? 

Jul 8, 2013

Win a Profiline PushPan Prize Pack worth $170!

The first episode of The Great Australian Bake Off, airs on Tuesday 9th July at 8pm on Channel Nine and I can’t wait to start watching this series! The contestants will be using the Profiline PushPan – an innovative new loose-based, watertight cake tin only recently released to the Australian consumer market.

I know most bakers have experienced that stressful moment when you try and release your set cheesecake or freshly baked cake from it’s pan and it sticks. I’ve had entire cakes collapse which I hastily had to patch up before serving. The silicone seal on the Profiline PushPan ensures cakes release easily from their pan and ensures there is no leakage – no batter can seep out and nothing can get in, which is ideal for baking a cheesecake in a water bath.

It’s suitable for cakes, cheesecakes, quiches, jelly, pies or even ice cream desserts of any depth. It comes in six sizes, including 12cm, 18cm, 20cm, 22cm, 24cm and 26cm. It’s now available from Myer and independent cookware retailers across Australia.

And lucky for Love Swah readers, I am giving away a Profiline Push Pan Prize Pack (try and say that quickly) worth over $170!

The prize pack includes:
4 x 12cm PushPans
2 x 20cm PushPans
1 x 26cm PushPan
The total prize value will be RRP$171.65.

Enter now to be in the running to win this great prize, perfect for the home baker. Sorry but this competition is only open to my Australian readers.

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Jul 5, 2013

Wine Selectors – Chef Series

It’s no secret I love wine, specifically white wine and bubbles (red makes me sneezy and fall asleep!) and since my family recently purchased a vineyard, I figured I should start learning more about the varieties. When I was asked to sample 2 wines of my choice from the new Wine Selectors Chef Series, I jumped at the chance. These wines are the result of a collaboration between top Australian chefs and premium Australian wine producers.

The Wine Selectors website details information on each chef, their cuisine and why they chose each wine. It also provides handy food suggestions that you can pair each wine with. They also have a nifty scale from light to full bodied and dry to sweet, so you can select the wine online based on your personal taste preferences.

On a side note, I absolutely love the Alistair McLeod label, the black and white fish contrasted with a bright colour (that changes for each of his wines) immediately grabbed my attention.

My first choice was of course sparkling (what girl doesn’t love bubbles?) and I selected the Alastair McLeod Sparkling Chardonnay Pinot Noir. Now just to clear one thing up, this is sparking wine, not champagne. You can only legally call it champagne if the wine is produced from grapes grown in the Champagne region of France!

It was quite a dry wine which I loved (I cannot stand sweet wines after a few too many run-ins with Passion Pop in my early drinking years) and Alistair recommends you pair this particular blend with seafood.

My second selection was the Ben O’Donoghue Pinot Gris. I used to be primarily a chardonnay girl because I didn’t know any better. I have recently been getting into Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio and I am LOVING it. This wine was subtle and not overpowering in flavour, making it very drinkable and the perfect accompaniment to food. Ben recommends pairing this with pasta which sounds like a match made in heaven.

I thoroughly enjoyed both wines I tasted and enjoyed learning more about matching wine with food – something that a recent trip to the Hunter Valley (post coming soon) has given me even more exposure to. I have also started making the most of alcohol flavourings in my baking which has resulted in some thoroughly delicious Champagne Cupcakes as well as a Guinness Cake with Baileys Icing.

Disclaimer: These wines were provided free of charge thanks to Wine Selectors Australia and AtomicSearch, however this review is based on my own opinions and experience.

Jul 1, 2013

Sweet Adventures Blog Hop July: Sweet Surprise

Hey everyone!

I’m excited to be hosting this month’s Sweet Adventures Blog Hop for the very first time :) I’ve participated in the challenges over 10 times and love trying to come up with a new concept each month. This month I wanted to set a challenge to create a dessert with a surprise in the middle! From an unexpected cupcake filling to a shape baked into the middle of a cake, this month’s hop is only limited by your imagination.

Need some inspiration? Here is a Red Velvet Surprise Cupcake I made last Valentine’s Day. The hidden Lindt ball in each cupcake was greeted with great enthusiasm!

The details:

  • Theme: ‘Sweet Surprise’ – desserts with a surprise inside
  • Hostess: Swah from the blog Love Swah
  • Hop opens: Monday 15 July 2013, 9 am (Australian Eastern Standard Time, Sydney)
  • Hop closes: Friday 19 July 2013, 11.59 pm (AEST)


Sweet Adventures Blog Hop, aka SABH, is a monthly dessert link-up. Each month there is a new theme and the hop is open to anyone who blogs recipes. SABH is run by 84th & 3rdDining with a StudThe Capers of the Kitchen Crusader and occasional guest hostesses.

How to participate:

  • Make a dessert fitting the announced theme and post your dessert on your blog during the week of the blog hop.
  • Visit the hostess’s dessert post when it goes live follow the instructions to link up.
  • Hop through all the themed creations to discover new recipes and new blogs!

You may have picked up that there is one more change this month too… We’ve found that those joining later don’t really benefit from everyone seeing their creations, and so for all participants to get the most out of the hop we’ve reduce the length of it just a touchYou can post and link up at any time from Monday to Friday. Remember that only new posts which go live on or after the day the hop opens can be linked up.

Jun 25, 2013

WIN 3 copies of my travel + dessert zines!

Welcome to the first competition on Love Swah! Woo! Today I am giving away 3 copies of my travel + dessert zines of your choice! And if you aren’t the lucky winner fear not, every entrant will be emailed a 20% off coupon to use in my Zine Store! Please read about my zines and MCA Zine Fair experience here and here and a lovely bit of press on my zines from Neat Eats here. This competition is open to all of my readers from around the world and ends next Friday 5th July.

My recipe zines each feature 10 mouthwatering recipes written and photographed by me with Volume 1 focusing on cupcakes, Volume 2 on cakes and cookies and Volume 3 on pies, dips, tarts and more.

My travel guides feature 2 city guides – New York and San Francisco, and an extended country guide on Iceland. All travel zines features my own photography and include a selection of accommodation from budget to high-end, sightseeing, shopping, transport and most importantly, food and drink! These zines are all A5 size and professionally printed on 128gsm satin paper in Sydney, Australia.

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Jun 17, 2013

The Nutella Fauxnut – A Super Easy DIY Cronut!

By now we’ve all pretty much heard of the Cronut™. The croissant/donut hybrid created in New York by chef Dominique Ansel that has seen people queuing up from before 5am in the morning just to give it a try. His version is rolled in sugar, filled with cream and then topped with glaze (in May it was Rose Vanilla, and now for June it is Lemon Maple.) Soon enough, copycats began springing up around the world (including Adrian Zumbo’s Zonut) and Ansel swiftly trademarked his Cronut™.

This month’s Sweet Adventures Blog Hop is “Out of the Frying Pan” and is celebrating all things fried – what a perfect excuse to give this a whirl!

I wanted to create an easy DIY version of the Cronut™ that any home baker could recreate in their kitchen. I used store-bought puffed pastry (shock horror!) and my technique was actually embarrassingly simple – the reason I ended up calling it a Fauxnut! A criticism I have heard of the Cronut™ is that it is sickly sweet, so I decided to skip the triple threat of sugar x sweet cream x glaze. I considered a cinnamon icing initially and ended up settling on a Nutella filling. Because we all know how amazing Nutella is! A light dusting of icing sugar gave the Fauxnut the right amount of sweetness.

The Nutella Fauxnut – A Super Easy DIY Cronut!
Prep time

Cook time

Total time


Serves: 9

  • 3 x sheets store-bought puff pastry
  • 750ml vegetable oil or other flavourless oil
  • 1 cup Nutella
  • 3 tbsp icing sugar

  1. Pour vegetable oil into a heavy based saucepan over a medium heat, bring the oil to 170°C. If you don’t have a thermometer, test the temperature of the oil by dropping in one of your donut holes – if it immediately starts to bubble and rise to the surface, your oil is hot enough.
  2. While the oil is heating, cut donut shapes out of your thawed puff pastry. Use a large, round cookie cutter and a much smaller one to remove the “donut hole”. I got 6 donut shapes per sheet of puff pastry.
  3. As soon as the oil has reached the correct temperature, gently lower in your first donut. It will start to puff up and brown.
  4. Once the bottom of the donut is golden brown, turn it over with a slotted spoon and let it brown on the other side before quickly removing it from the oil and placing on paper towel to drain.
  5. Repeat this process with the remaining donuts (and donut holes!) until all are golden brown. Be careful the oil doesn’t get too hot as they may start to burn.
  6. Put the Nutella in a small piping bag and pipe a thick line of Nutella around the top of half the cooled Fauxnuts.
  7. Gently sandwich the remaining Fauxnuts on top of each one.
  8. Dust the top of each Fauxnut with icing sugar.

Here is a quick step-by-step guide!

Step 1: Cut out the donut sheets from the thawed puff pastry using a larger and smaller cookie cutter.

Step 2: Once your oil is hot enough, gently lower the donut into the hot oil. It should immediately start to bubble and puff and rise to the surface.

Step 3: When the bottom is golden brown, turn the donut over in the oil to cook the other side.

Step 4: Drain all the Fauxnuts on paper towel and allow to cool (I made a mixture of big and small Fauxnuts).

Step 5: Pipe the Nutella in a circle on top of half the Fauxnuts, before gently sandwiching the remaining ones together.

Sprinkle with icing sugar and enjoy!

What’s my verdict? Well without having the opportunity to yet try a Cronut™ (or even a Zonut) for comparison I can only go by what I made today. The slightly savoury puff pastry contrasts well with the sweet Nutella and dusting of icing sugar. Despite quickly frying and draining the Fauxnuts, they are still VERY and buttery rich. I would enforce a 1 Fauxnut per person rule if you don’t want to feel sick afterwards!

Have you tried a Cronut™ or Zonut? Do they live up to the hype?

Jun 13, 2013

Choc Chip Blondies with a Salted Caramel Drizzle

I’ve never actually tried a Blondie before I made this recipe and curiosity finally got the better of me. What is a Blondie, I hear you ask? It’s like a Brownie in shape and texture, but flavoured with brown sugar instead of cocoa powder. To be honest I actually thought it sounded a little bland. I added dark choc chips to mine and finished it off with a salted caramel drizzle and HELLO DECADENTLY AWESOME TREAT. I seriously hope this salted caramel trend never fades because damn I love it.

Look at that salted caramel ooze! Chewy and fudgey in the centre and crunchy on the outside, Brownies better watch out – they have some stiff competition!

Choc Chip Blondies with a Salted Caramel Drizzle
Prep time

Cook time

Total time


Serves: 16

  • 125g butter
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips
Salted Caramel Sauce
  • ¼ cup caster sugar
  • 2 tbsps water
  • ⅓ cup thickened cream
  • 1-2 tsps of sea salt (to taste)

  1. Preheat oven to 170°C. Line a 20cm square baking tin with baking paper.
  2. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until smooth and creamy.
  3. Beat in egg and vanilla.
  4. Add in flour and salt, beat until just combined (do not overmix).
  5. Fold in ½ cup of the dark chocolate chips.
  6. Transfer batter to the lined baking tin, smoothing the surface with a spatula. Sprinkle with remaining chocolate chips.
  7. Bake for around 40 mins, until golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Set pan on a wire rack, and let cool completely.
Salted Caramel Sauce
  1. Dissolve the sugar into the water in a heavy bottomed saucepan and let it bubble away over a medium heat.
  2. The mixture should turn a golden caramel colour after around 5 minutes. DON’T stir the caramel mixture – the sugar will crystallize.
  3. Once the caramel has reached the desired colour, take it off the heat and add the salt and gradually add the cream. Stir furiously as the caramel will want to harden quickly.
  4. Pop the caramel cream mixture in a small bowl and put it in the fridge to help cool down quickly.
  5. Drizzle the caramel over the cooled Blondies before cutting into 16 squares.

Jun 11, 2013

30 before 30

I love lists! My room is overflowing with notebooks filled with handwritten lists. There is nothing more satisfying then crossing something off your list which has led me to writing a “30 before 30″ list. 30 things I want to try and achieve before I hit the big THREE-OH. This means my due date to cross all these things off is 15 December 2014, giving me approximately 1.5 years.

I have tried to keep this list as realistic and attainable as possible. I want to see the seven wonders of the world, visit all 7 continents, see the Northern Lights, experience Japan during cherry blossom season, climb to Everest Base Camp… There are still *many*, mostly travel-related, items on my bucket list which might need to join a “35 before 35″ list.

Why am I publishing it online? It holds me accountable – I will be blogging about each task I complete and it’s fun to hear about me being completely petrified (hello swimming with sharks!). I want you to get involved (suggest some more ideas to me!) and I want you to help me achieve it (anyone want to sign up with me for pole dancing lessons or take a cake decorating class?)

So here we go, in no particular order. These range from the life changing to the relatively mundane.

1. Swim with the sharks (thought I’d put the most terrifying one first)
2. Shoot a gun
3. Ride a motorbike
4. Complete a 40 day yoga challenge
5. Learn a language (at least at a basic conversational level)
6. Take pole dancing lessons
7. Visit New Zealand (it’s embarrassing I still haven’t been)
8. Become a published author (even if it’s just an article in a magazine)
9. Live in mainland Europe and/or New York
10. Climb a really damn big mountain. Everest Base Camp may have to wait
11. Sell my baked goods at a cafe or market stall
12. Design and produce my own stationery line
13. Run for charity at the City2Surf
14. Go on a juice cleanse (mainly out of curiosity and because clearly I’m a masochist)
15. Gamble in Las Vegas
16. Go on a yoga retreat
17. Fund a kickstarter project
18. Adopt a rescue kitty
19. Act in a TV show or film as an extra
20. See the Grand Canyon
21. Exhibit at Finder’s Keepers Market
22. Volunteer at an animal shelter
23. Knit a scarf
24. Do a professional cake decorating class/course
25. Dye my hair a dramatically different colour

As you can see I haven’t filled in all 30 yet – please give me your suggestions or share with me your own lists! And please no bungee jumping or ill-conceived tattoo requests ;)

Want to start your own list? I have friends writing their own “33 before 33″ and “40 before 40″ lists so please comment and share your ideas and goals!

Jun 4, 2013

Salted Caramel Chip Cookies

I was craving cookies over the rainy weekend and wanted to jazz up my standard chocolate chip cookie recipe. I found some Nestle caramel chips in the supermarket and thought a salted caramel cookie would be a winner!
I reduced the sugar in these cookies as the caramel chips are very sweet. You can add more salt (or even less) to taste, but I love the contrast of the sweet caramelised bits and the occasional crunch of salt. Delicious!

Salted Caramel Chip Cookies
Prep time

Cook time

Total time


Serves: 20

  • 140g butter (room temperature)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg (room temperature)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1½ cups plain flour
  • 1 tsp sea salt + extra to sprinkle on top
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 250g Nestle caramel chips

  1. Preheat oven to 170°C. Cream the butter and sugar for at least 5 minutes until the mixture becomes light and fluffy.
  2. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat well.
  3. Add caramel chips, flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Beat on low speed until just combined (don’t overwork the mixture or it can become tough).
  4. Dollop tablespoon sized balls of cookie dough onto lined baking trays. Sprinkle each cookie with a bit more sea salt.
  5. Bake until cookies are golden around the edges, around 12-14 minutes.

Please try very hard not to eat all the cookie dough, I often end up getting only 19 cookies from this batch into the oven due to the irresistible powers of raw cookie dough :p



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