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What can I say?? I just love to bake!! Ever since I would go to Grandma's house as a little girl and bake highlight cakes or help Ninny make her famous vanilla cookies, I've been obsessed with baking! Not only from recipe books, but freestyle too! With a father as a chef, i suppose it is in my genes! Some of my favourite memories from growing up were those moments after dinner when my dad would get his sweet tooth pang and have me help him whip up a batch of toffee fruit kebabs, or irish caramels! I used to love how he never followed recipes, he always just knew what ingredients worked with one another and how to play with quantities. So, from an early age, i had learnt from the master and i was well on my way to bake on my own! When i was 7 years old, i used to bake chocoloate cakes to sell to the mothers of my friends when they came to watch our Saturday morning minkey hockey games! Before i knew it, i was being commissioned from my school teachers to bake cakes for them at $2 a pop! This blog holds just a few of my favourite tried and tested recipes which I've thoroughly enjoyed both baking and eating! So enjoy!!

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Walnut Brittle

A little twist on the American favourite, Peanut Brittle!

 - 2 cups (440g) sugar
 - ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
 - ½ cup (125ml) water
 - 2 tablespoons golden syrup
 - 60g butter, chopped
 - 1½ cups walnuts
 - ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
 - 150g dark chocolate
 1 - Line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper.
2 - Combine the sugar, cream of tartar and water in a medium saucepan. Stir over a low heat until sugar is dissolved. Brush down sides of pan with a pastry brush dipped in water to dissolve any sugar crystals stuck on the side of the pan.

3 - Bring to boil; boil, uncovered, for about 10 minutes or until the mixture turns golden brown and reaches 149°C on a sugar thermometer. This is called the hard crack stage.

4 - Remove the pan from the heat and stir in golden syrup and butter, return pan to heat and boil for a further minute. Remove the pan and add combined nuts and soda; stir until well combined.

5 - Pour into lined baking tray; cool 10 minutes. Mark into small squares; cool completely. Break into pieces along lines once cool.

Caramel Nut Truffles

 - 60g butter
 - ½ cup caster sugar
 - 1 tablespoon golden syrup
 - ¾ cup sweetened condensed milk
 - ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
 - ½ cup unsalted peanuts, chopped coarsely
 - ¼ cup ground hazelnuts or almonds
 - 100g dark chocolate, chopped
 - 50g dark chocolate, extra, melted
1)  Combine the butter, sugar and golden syrup in a small saucepan; stir constantly over low heat until sugar is dissolved. Stir in condensed milk, bring to the boil, reduce heat, cook, stirring constantly, for about 6 minutes or until mixture turns a caramel colour.

2)  Remove from heat; stir in vanilla, peanuts and hazelnuts; mix well. Transfer mixture to medium heatproof bowl; cool mixture about 10 minutes.

3)  Roll rounded teaspoons of mixture into balls. Refrigerate on a tray until firm.

4)  Combine chocolate in top of double saucepan, stir over simmering water until melted. Dip balls in chocolate mixture using a fork or skewer, lift balls from chocolate, allow excess chocolate to drip away.

5) Place on a tray lined with aluminium foil or baking paper. Refrigerate until chocolate is set.

6)  Drizzle extra melted chocolate decoratively over top of balls. sprinkle on extra crushed nuts, if desired. Refrigerate until set.

**See below for the White Chocolate Snowball Truffle recipe!

White Chocolate Snowball Truffles

Number five of the Christmas Collection is White Chocolate Snowball Truffles!  Truffles make the perfect gift at christmas time because even though they're a little fiddly to make, they keep well, travel well and best of all, present themselves well! 
Preparation Time: 20 mins
Cooking Time: 30 mins
Serves: 40 truffles
 - ¼ cup (60ml) cream
 - 30g butter
 - 250g white chocolate Melts, chopped finely
 - ½ cup (70g) slivered almonds, toasted
 - 1 tablespoon amaretto (almond liqueur)
 - 250g white chocolate Melts, melted, extra
 - 1 cup (90g) desiccated coconut
1 - Toast your slivered almonds in a moderate oven for 8 mins, or until golden.
2 - Bring the cream and butter to the boil in a small pan.
3 - Place the chopped chocolate in a medium bowl then add the cream mixture and stir together until melted.

4 - Stir in the almonds and liqueur then cover and refrigerate, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes or until the mixture begins to thicken but not set.
5 - Roll level teaspoons of mixture into balls and place in a single layer on a tray; refrigerate until firm.

6 - Dip the truffles in the extra melted chocolate, gently shaking off any excess chocolate. Roll the wet truffles in the coconut, return to the tray and refrigerate until set.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Coconut Ice!

Post #4 of the Christmas collection... Coconut Ice!  This recipe is completely idiot proof, even a 2 year old could make it - so go on, give it a go!  If you've not worked with food colouring before, then a helpful tip is to pour a little bit of colouring into the lid and then add it to the mixture drop by drop.  You don't want too much pink... it's not a good look!  Keep is light and classic!
Preperation Time:  15mins
Cooking Time: 3 hours
Serves: 40 pieces
 - 5¼ cups (840g) icing sugar
 - 2½ cups (200g) desiccated coconut
 - 395g can sweetened condensed milk
 - 1 egg white, beaten lightly
 - pink food colouring
1)  Line a deep 19cm-square cake pan with baking paper.

2)  Sift the icing sugar into a large bowl then stir in the coconut. 
3)  Add the condensed milk and egg white.  Mix until completely incorporated and you have a dough like consistency.

4)  Divide the mixture in half; tint half with pink colouring.
5)  Press the pink mixture into pan then top with the white mixture. Cover and refrigerate for about 3 hours or until set before cutting into squares.


Chocolate Coconut Tart

This one isn't for the faint-hearted!  It's base is wonderfully crisp and coconutty and the filling is rich and creamy - a superb combination if you ask me!  I had been waiting for the perfect opportunity to test this recipe out, so when my dad asked me to whip up a dessert for his luncheon earlier today, i knew exactly what i was going to make!  Unfortunately we didn't have enough time to allow for the full 6 hours to set, but it was still managable and of course very yummy after about 4 hours.  (If you can, keep refrigerated for at least 6 hours before serving).

Preperation Time: 20 mins
Cooking Time:  40 mins
Serves: 10

 - 1 cup desiccated coconut
 - 1 egg white, lightly beaten
 - 1/4 cup castor sugar
 - 300ml thickened cream
 - 300g dark chocolate
 - 4 egg yolks
 - 2 tbs Baileys, Kahlua or Tia Maria

1)  Preheat oven to 120'C (fan forced).  Grease a 20cm non stick, springform pan.

2)  Combine coconut, egg white and sugar in a bowl then press mixture into the pan, evenly covering the base and 5cm up the sides.

3)  Bake, uncovered for about 40mins or until golden.  Allow to cool.

4)  Heat the cream in saucepan until almost boiling, then add the chopped chocolate.  Stir these together until the chocolate melts and you have a smooth consistency.  Cool slightly, then whisk in your egg yolks and liqueur.

5)  Pour the chocolate filling into your prepared coconut shell then refrigerate for at least 6 hours (or until set).

6)  Cut into thin wedges to serve.

As my friend Ashley would say....'Simples!'

Monday, 13 December 2010

Homemade Toasted Muesli

When I recently moved back home to Tasmania I never thought I'd see the day where I actually missed British food!  As hard as I tried, I just couldn't find a museli I liked as much as any of the British brands I had become accustomed to over the past 6 years... so what's a girl to do?  Make her own of course!  Here's a really simple, healthy recipe for you to try yourself.  The beauty of it is, you can put whatever you like in and keep all the nasties out!

Preparation Time: 5 mins
Cooking Time: 25 mins
Serves: about 20 small bowls

 - 8 cups rolled oats
 - 2 cups mixed, unsalted nuts of your choosing (I think almonds, cashews, pecans and hazelnuts work wonderfully)
 - 1/2 cup mixed seeds (I like to use pumpkin and sunflower seeds)
 - 1 cup chopped dried fruit (I like to use apricots, cranberries and raisins)
 - 1/2 cup moist coconut flakes
 - 2 tsp vanilla essence
 - 5 tbs honey
 - 1/2 cup sunflower oil

1)  Preheat oven to 150'C

2)  In a large bowl, mix together your oats and nuts.

2)  In a mixing jug, mix together your oil, vanilla and honey.

3)  Pour your wet ingredients into the oat mixture and stir to combine.

4)  Pour all of the mixture into a prepared baking tray, lined with baking paper.  Spread evenly to allow even toasting.

5)  Bake in the oven for about 12-15mins, then remove and stir through your dried fruit and coconut.  Return the tray to the oven for a further 10-12 mins, or until the oats turn slightly golden.

6)  Allow to cool completely before serving and storing in airtight jars for up to 4 weeks.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Almond Nougat

Number 3 of the Christmas series had to none other than..... Almond Nougat!  Need I say more??  Nougat is one of my all time favourite sweeties and I actually can't beleive I hadn't attempted to make this sooner!  I think I was put off by people telling me how hard it is to perfect, but honestly, if you have all your ingredients prepared and ready; a candy thermometer and some rice paper to hand, then this recipe is easy peasy.  Honest!  Just follow these simple steps and have a little Christmas faith!

Preparation Time: 10 mins
Cooking Time:  20 mins + 6 hours to set
Serves:  Makes around 40 pieces.

 - 4 sheets of edible rice paper (cut to the size of your baking tray - 15.5 x 23.5cm)
 - 200g blanched almonds
 - 560g (2 1/2 cups) sugar
 - 80ml (1/3cup) water
 - 1 500g jar of glucose syrup
 - 2 eggs whites, at room temperature
 - 1tsp vanilla essence

1)  Preheat oven to 170'C.

2)  Line your baking tray with baking paper, allowing it to overhang at the sides.  Then lay 2 sheets of rice paper in the base of your prepared tray. 

3)  Spread the almonds evenly over the rice paper and toast in your preheated oven for 7-10mins, or until light golden.  Leave them to cool slightly for 5mins then chop roughly and set aside.

4)  Using a free standing mixer, beat your egg whites until firm peaks form.  Leave in the bowl, ready for later use.

5)  Fill your sink with roughly 10cm of cold water.

6)  Place the sugar, water and glucose syrup in a medium sized saucepan and put the pan over a medium-low heat.  Stir with a wooden spoon, brushing down the sides of the pan occassionaly with a pastry brush dipped in water, until the sugar dissolves.  This should take about 10 mins.

7)  Increase heat to high and bring the sugar mixture to the boil.  As soon as it starts to boil, reduce the heat to medium-high and boil, uncovered, without stirring.  You will need to place your candy thermomiter in the saucepan and keep an eye on the temperature.  As soon as the syrup reaches about 140'C, immediately remove the saucepan from the heat and place gently into the sink of cold water to cool the mixture rapidly.  This will take about 5 seconds, or until the bubbles subside.

8)  With your egg white mixture on medium speed, slowly pour in the hot syrup, in a thin, steady stream.  Don't pour the syrup down the side of the bowl or onto the whisk beaters as it may set before being incorporated into the egg whites.

9)  Once all the syrup is incorporated, whisk for a further 3 minutes or until the mixture becomes thick and glossy.

10)  Use a wooden spoon to stir in your chopped almonds and vanilla essence.  It is important to move quickly or the nougat will begin to set.

11)  Quickly pour the mixture into your rice paper lined baking tray, using a wet spatula to scrape down the side of the bowl and also to spread the mixture evenly into your pan.

12)  Place your remaining sheets of rice paper ontop of the nougat, pressing gently.

13)  Set aside to cool for about 6 hours, or until it's set!

14)  Lift the nougat from the pan and place on a cutting board.  Remove all the baking paper (but keep the rice paper on, as it's edible).  Use a serated knife in a sawing motion to cut the nougat crossways into 3cm wide pieces.

NOTES:  Nougat can be stored in airtight containers in a cool, dry place for up to 1-2 weeks, or in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.  If storing in the fridge, be sure to let the nougat come to room temperature before serving.


Nutty Biscotti

Ok, here's #2 of my Christmas collection... Nutty Bisocotti!  It's actually very easy to make and keeps really well, which is the perfect combination when putting together homemade yum yums for christmas presents!  You can get creative with this recipe and add whatever you fancy.  I used pistachio's, hazelnuts and almonds in mine, as that's what i had lying around my pantry at the time, but you could always throw in some chopped dark chocolate or glace cherries to give them a bit more 'Oumph!'

Preperation Time: 20 mins
Cooking Time:  50 mins
Serves:  Makes about 40

 - 125g plain flour
 - 125g castor sugar
 - 1tsp baking powder
 - 2 eggs, lightly beaten
 - 25g almonds
 - 25g shelled hazelnuts
 - 35g shelled pistachio's
 - 2 tsp orange zest

1)  Preheat oven to 180'C

2)  Mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, zest and nuts in a bowl.

3)  Make a well in the centre of your flour mix and pour in your lightly beaten eggs.

4)  Fold through until a sticky dough forms, then turn the mixture out onto a floured bench.

5)  Split the dough into 4 piles and using a little bit of extra flour, roll dough into 4cm length logs and place on a prepared baking tray, lined with baking paper.  Be sure not to place logs too close together on the tray as they will spread a bit in the oven.

6)  Bake for 30 mins then remove from the oven and set aside to cool for 10 mins.

7)  Once slightly cool, using a serrated knife cut the biscotti on an angle into 0.5cm slices and return to the baking trays.

8)  Turn the oven down to 140'C and cook for about 20 mins, turning teh biscotti once half way through.

** These can be stored in airtight containers for up to 3 weeks.

Christmas Gingerbread Owlee's!

With Christmas fast approaching, I thought I'd better start to get my festive cooking hat on and post some Christmassy treats for you to bake as gifts or for the Christmas table!  Here's post #1 of my Christmas collection... Gingerbread Owlee's!  They're SO easy to make and SO, SO much fun to decorate!!

Preparation Time: 15 mins
Cooking Time: 10 mins
Serves: about 25 cookies

 - 350g plain flour
 - 1tsp ground ginger
 - 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
 - 1/2 tsp ground cloves
 - 1tsp bicarb soda
 - 100g butter
 - 175g brown sugar
 - 1 egg
 - 4tbs Golden Syrup

1)  Mix together the flour, spices and bicarb soda.

2)  Rub in the butter with your fingers until it looks like breadcrumbs.

3)  Add the sugar.

4)  In a seperate bowl mix together the egg and golden syrup then add to the dry ingredients.

5)  Mix together until it forms a dough.  Tip the mixture out onto a clean surface and knead for a minute or two until it is smooth.

6)  Pre-heat oven to 180'C.

7)  Roll the dough to the depth of a pencil (about 5mm), then using a round cutter of your choosing, cut neat circles and place on baking tray.  Be sure not to place them too close as they spread slightly in the oven.

8)  Using some of the off cuts of dough, roll little balls in your palms and place two together like eyes (see picture below)

9)  Place a chocolate chip in the centre of each 'eye' ball and press gently.

10)  Cut almonds in half, lengthways and place below the eyes in the centre, to replicate a beak.

11)  Using the tip of a fork, gently press into the bottom of the cookie to create the best feathery look i could come up with!!  (Any other ideas are welcome!!)

11)  Bake in preheated oven for 10 mins or until golden.

12)  Let the owls cool slightly in their trays before transferring to a wire rack.