Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Candy Cane Peppermint and White Chocolate Swirl Cake

Candy Cane Peppermint and White Chocolate Swirl Cake
Remember how I made this crazy lollipop cake? Well I decided to take it one step further for Christmas and make a crazy Candy Cane cake! I love me some candy canes. They are so pretty and deliciously pepperminty. And now I have enough candy canes in my house to last me a lifetime. I may have gone slightly overboard stocking up on every single different sized candy cane I could find in the stores, because I wanted to make sure I had a good assortment to decorate this cake with.
Candy Cane Peppermint and White Chocolate Swirl Cake
How awesome are the super giant candy canes?! I got them at Target. This cake is far from perfect. I baked it on a super humid day, right before a storm hit and was rushing to get a photo of the cake before the sun completely disappeared. As a result I didn't let the cakes cool completely, the icing melted a little and the cake got messy. I'm sorry. But luckily my not so pretty icing can be covered up with pretty candy canes.
Candy Cane Peppermint and White Chocolate Swirl Cake
The icing is the lovely fluffy white chocolate icing that I made for these cupcakes, with a hint of peppermint. The cake inside is a super moist white chocolate mud cake, with a bit of a surprise. I added a bit of red food colouring to some of the batter to make a red and white marble cake. It's probably unnecessary and I know a lot of people aren't a fan of food colouring, so you can decide if you want to skip this step or not. I think it's kinda fun and a nice little surprise when you cut into the cake.
Candy Cane Peppermint and White Chocolate Swirl Cake
Just don't be like me and rush the making/cutting into of the cake, or things will get messy. It's the most important advice I can give you when making layer cakes - be patient. I rarely listen to my own advice on this, and it always gets me in trouble. Make this cake for a Christmas party and you're sure to wow people. You could even skip all the ridiculous candy canes on top (since they're there purely for decoration), and just cover the cake in crushed candy canes. I find the candy cane bits soften quite a bit in the fridge overnight, so you don't have to worry about the cake being too crunchy from them.
Candy Cane Peppermint and White Chocolate Swirl Cake
Candy Cane Peppermint White Chocolate Swirl Cake
(adapted from this recipe, icing adapted from this recipe)
For the icing (Note: Prepare the mixture for the icing before you start the cake as it will need time to chill):
340g (1.5 cups) unsalted butter
255g (9oz/1.5 cups of chips) good quality white chocolate (min 30% cocoa solids, do NOT use baking chocolate), finely chopped
2 tsp peppermint essence
Additional note: this only just makes enough cake to cover a 3 layer 6" cake, you can make 1.5x the amount of icing if you are making a larger cake. This icing is quite fiddly to work with and softens quickly at room temperature. If you are not comfortable with icing layer cakes I recommend you use this icing recipe instead.
  1. Prepare the icing mixture ahead of time as it will need to be chilled before whipping. Place butter and white chocolate in a large saucepan and melt over low heat, stirring regularly until smooth (the solids may separate but this is okay).
  2. Remove from heat and cool for 10 minutes, then chill in the fridge until solid, about 2 hours. If you are impatient like me you can stick it in the freezer for about half an hour.
  3. Prepare cake as per instructions below.
  4. Before you are ready to decorate your cake, remove white chocolate mixture from fridge at least 30 mins ahead of time to allow it to soften slightly.
  5. Place white chocolate mixture and peppermint essence in a large mixing bowl and beat on high with an electric mixer until very light and fluffy.
For the cake:
255g (9oz) butter, chopped
140g (5oz) white chocolate, chopped
370g (13oz/about 1 &3/4 cups) caster/granulated sugar
1 cup milk
225g (8oz/about 1 & 2/3 cups) plain/all-purpose flour
85g (3oz/about 2/3 cups) self-raising flour (can be replaced with an additional 2/3 cup plain flour plus 1 tsp baking powder)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 eggs, lightly beaten
Optional: red food colouring (I used Americolor gel)
  1. Preheat oven to 170°C (340°F) (I set my fan-forced to 165°C), grease and line with baking paper three 15cm (6", this is what I used) or 18cm (7", will result in slightly thinner layers), or two 20cm (8") round cake tins.
  2. Place butter, white chocolate, sugar and milk in a large saucepan. Stir over low heat until smooth.
  3. Set mixture aside for 15 minutes to allow it to cool.
  4. Whisk in flours, vanilla and eggs until just combined.
  5. Place about 1/3 of the batter in a separate bowl and add red food colouring.
  6. Pour small amounts of red and white batter into your prepared tins, ensuring there is an equal amount of batter in each tin. Use a butter knife to run through the batter once to help swirl the red and white batter around a bit. I placed my batter into two pouring jugs to make this part easier.
  7. Bake for about 50-60 minutes (longer if your cakes are thicker obviously), until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out just clean. If the tops of your cakes start to brown too early you can cover the tins loosely with foil. 
  8. Cool on rack for 10 minutes and then carefully remove from tins and cool completely.
To assemble:
Variety of different sized and coloured candy canes
Red and white candy canes, crushed with a rolling pin
  1. Once your cakes are completely cool and your icing is whipped, place one layer of cake on your cake stand or plate. Spread a layer of icing over the top using a spatula.
  2. Sandwich with another layer of cake and repeat. Top with remaining cake layer.
  3. Crumb coat the cake with some of the prepared icing and chill for about 30 mins.
  4. Cover with a thicker layer of icing and smooth sides with an offset spatula. Running the spatula regularly under hot water will help to smooth the icing.
  5. Chill cake again to allow icing to set. Decorate the edge of the cake with crushed candy canes. You can leave the cake as it is for something a bit simpler/elegant, or go nuts and top the cake with lots of different candy canes. 
  6. Chill cake to allow icing to set again. Remove from the fridge 30 mins before serving.
Candy Cane Peppermint and White Chocolate Swirl Cake
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Monday, December 1, 2014

Christmas Wreath Macarons

Christmas Wreath Macarons
YAYYY! December is here! Far out this year has gone by quickly. There are a lot of intense things going on at the moment, but that hasn't stopped me from getting into the Christmas spirit. Christmas is my all-time favourite holiday to bake for, I never get sick of it and never find it too cheesy (unlike Valentine's Day). So I thought I'd kick off my baking for this month with some Christmas-themed macarons!
Christmas Wreath Macarons
You may remember some of my previous Christmas macarons; Penguins, Snowmen, Present boxes. This year I decided to make some Christmas Wreath Macarons. I piped them just like I piped my Doughnut Macarons, making sure to leave a big hole in the middle of each when I piped them since the mixture spreads out a lot as it settles. I'm totally not impressed with my actual macarons this time around, I underwhipped the meringue so the feet are pitifully small. But the idea is still super cute and festive so I wanted to share it with you guys.
Christmas Wreath Macarons
I was torn as to what filling to fill these with, but I ended up going with a cherry flavour. Cherry is one of those quintessential Australian Christmas fruits, with so much fresh, cheap cherries available at this time of the year. I actually used frozen cherries for this, to avoid wasting time pitting cherries, but you could use fresh ones, or use cherry jam to save even more time. And for those of you on the other side of the planet, you could always substitute it with a more Winter-friendly flavour like the egg-nog ganache in my penguin macaron recipe that I linked earlier.
Christmas Wreath Macarons
I love how vibrant and purple the filling is! This isn't a normal ganache, I didn't need to add any cream since the liquid from the cherry filling was enough to get the right consistency, but you can add some cream if you prefer. I found these adorable holly sprinkles online (link in the recipe below), but you can always just use regular long green sprinkles and round red sprinkles or cachous to decorate it. Anyway I'm hoping I have enough time to test out all the fun Christmas baking I have planned, we will have to wait and see. In the meantime, you can check out all my other Christmas recipes here.
Christmas Wreath Macarons
Christmas Wreath Macarons with Cherry Filling
(recipe adapted from Trissalicious)
For the macarons:
Note: this method uses an Italian meringue. If you prefer, you can continue to use the French method I normally use. If you are a beginner with macarons read up and practice plain macarons first. BraveTart has lots of useful advice and info on the subject
Almond Meal Paste:
125 grams almond meal
125 grams icing/confectioner's sugar
50 grams egg whites
Italian Meringue:
125g caster (granulated) sugar
35g water
50grams egg whites
Pinch of egg white powder
Green powdered/gel food colouring, sprinkles to decorate (I used these, Wilton also has these, plain red and green sprinkles will also be fine, or silver cachous)
  1. In a food processor, blend the almond meal, icing sugar and egg whites until this resembles a fine paste. Set aside.
  2. To make the Italian meringue, place the caster sugar in a saucepan.  Add the water and make sure that the sugar is dampened.  Heat the mixture and bring this to a boil (do not stir).  Place a candy thermometer in the syrup and take the temperature of 118°C (245°F)
  3. While the sugar is cooking, beat the egg whites and egg white powder using a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and beat at medium speed until the eggs become foamy. Continue beating on high until stiff peaks form.
  4. Stop the syrup from cooking once it reaches 118°C (245°F) and take this off the heat and let the bubbling subside for a few seconds.  Pour the syrup in a thin, steady stream over the beaten egg whites while the continuing to whisk at medium speed.
  5. When all the syrup has been added, (add food colouring here) continue to beat until glossy and meringue has cooled to room temperature (around 10 to 15 minutes).
  6. Using a silicone spatula, fold a third of Italian meringue into the almond mixture to loosen it.  Then, fold in the rest of the Italian meringue.  (You really want to beat all the large bubbles out of the mixture, which is easily done by smearing the mixture on the bottom and side of the bowl with your spatula) Continue folding and stirring until the batter is glossy, and fluid. Take care not to overmix, the mixture should flow like lava and a streak of mixture spread over the surface of the rest of the mixture should disappear after about 30 seconds. 
  7. Place mixture in a piping bag with a narrow (about 0.3cm) round piping tip. Pipe a thin ring about 4cm wide on your prepared trays, leaving about 3cm space around each one. (Make sure to pipe these with a wider hole in the centre than you want the final shape to be, as the mixture will spread slightly)  Tap baking trays carefully and firmly on the benchtop a couple times to remove any large bubbles. Top with red and green sprinkles.
  8. Leave to dry for about 60 mins, until when you press the surface of one gently it does not break/stick to your finger. This will help prevent any cracking and help the feet to form on the macs.
  9. Preheat your oven to 130-150°C (265-300°F), depending on your oven (fan-forced ovens may need to be set as low as 100°C, it really depends) . You can place the tray of piped shells on top of an upside-down roasting tray or another baking tray, for better heat distribution.
  10. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Carefully test if the base of the shell is ready by gently lifting one and if it’s still soft and sticking to the baking paper, then it needs to bake for a few minutes longer. 
  11. Remove from the oven and cool on the tray for a few minutes, then gently remove from the sheet and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
Christmas Wreath Macarons
For the Cherry Filling:
Note: You can replace the cherry sauce with store-bought cherry jam to save time
50g (1.7oz) cherries (fresh or frozen), pitted and diced
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
A few drops of pure vanilla extract
1 tsp cornflour (cornstarch) + 1/2 tsp cold water
100g (3.5oz) good quality white chocolate, finely chopped
  1. Prepare the cherry filling first; place diced cherries, sugar, lemon juice and vanilla in a small saucepan and place on medium heat. Stir over heat until sugar dissolves. 
  2. Mix cornflour and water together in a separate small bowl then add to the saucepan and stir over medium heat until mixture thickens, about 2-3 minutes. Set aside to cool. 
  3. Place cherry mixture and chopped white chocolate in a heatproof bowl and stir over a pot of simmering water until the chocolate melts and the mixture combines (if chocolate splits, add 1 tsp of water at a time and stir over heat until mixture reincorporates). 
  4. Chill mixture until it thickens (if it is too runny, you can add melt more white chocolate into it), and then spoon mixture between macarons shells.
  5. Chill macarons in an airtight container overnight to allow flavour to mature. Serve at room temperature.
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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Raspberry Swirl Pavlova with Summer Fruits

Raspberry Swirl Pavlova with Summer Fruits
You know what's strange? I love eating pavlova, it is one of my favourite summer treats but somehow I have never made it before. In all the years of baking, all the cakes and macarons and cupcakes, I have yet to make my own pavlova. So when I was asked to make one for an upcoming BBQ, I actually got nervous. What fruits should I choose? What if I completely stuffed up the meringue? Should I do anything to mix it up a bit or should I not mess with a classic?
Raspberry Swirl Pavlova with Summer Fruits
In the end I didn't add too much to it, I swirled a delicious raspberry sauce into the cream, which was a whipped mix of regular cream and mascarpone. Berries and mangoes are super cheap and in season here in Australia, so I went a little nuts with those. I know its not summer just yet but this just feels so summery. By the way, the pav shown in the photos is a mini version, the recipe below actually makes a full size pavlova. Obviously I couldn't prepare and photograph the pavlova the day before the BBQ so I made an extra mini one to practice. The full-sized one that I served up actually looked even better because it was piled super high with so much fruit and the raspberry sauce was swirled better. I wish I could have photographed it! Oh well, it went down really well and everyone was a big fan of the raspberry swirled cream. I think it added something a little special.
Raspberry Swirl Pavlova with Summer Fruits
Sooo, this is probably what you're all waiting for! Thanks so much to everyone who entered the cookbook giveaway last week, it was really lovely to see so many entries and read all about your dream cakes! It was incredibly difficult to choose just one entry, if I could give out a book to every one of you I would! So the winner is *drumroll*......
winner
Congratulations E. Danieletto! Check your inbox and get back to me quick and you will have a copy of  Lomelino's Cakes : 27 Pretty Cakes to Make Any Day Special by Linda Lomelino thanks to Roost Books coming your way!
Raspberry Swirl Pavlova with Summer Fruits
Raspberry Swirl Pavlova with Summer Fruits
(meringue recipe from Gourmet Traveller, serves 8)
For the meringue:
4 eggwhites, at room temperature (even better if aged i.e. separated and stored in the fridge overnight, or even frozen and defrosted)
A pinch of salt
240g (about 1 & 1/3 cups) caster (superfine) sugar
1 tbsp cornflour
1 tsp white vinegar
1 vanilla bean, scraped seeds only
For dusting: melted butter or vegetable oil + extra cornflour
  1. Preheat oven to 100°C. Line a large baking tray with baking paper, brush with butter/oil and dust with cornflour.
  2. Whisk eggwhites and a pinch of salt in the bowl of an electric mixer until soft peaks form. With motor running, add sugar, a tablespoon at a time, whisking until sugar dissolves (5-10 minutes, you can check it by pinching a small amount of mixture between your fingers). 
  3. Fold in cornflour, vinegar and vanilla seeds, then pile mixture into a 20cm-diameter circle on oven tray, gently smoothing top and making a slight indentation. 
  4. Bake in centre of oven until crisp but not coloured (1-1¼ hours). Turn off oven and leave to cool completely with door ajar. Meringue will keep in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
For the raspberry sauce:
150g (125oz) raspberries, fresh or frozen
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp cornflour (cornstarch) + 2 tsp cold water
  1. Place raspberries, sugar, and lemon juice in a medium saucepan and place on medium heat. Stir over heat until sugar dissolves. 
  2. Mix cornflour and water together in a separate small bowl then add to the saucepan and stir over medium heat until mixture thickens, about 3-4 minutes. Strain to remove seeds and then set aside to cool.
To assemble:
2.5 cups cream (thickened/heavy cream will do, but I used 1 cup thickened, 1 cup double cream and 250g mascapone to give it a slightly richer texture)
1/4 cup icing/confectioner's sugar, sifted
1 vanilla bean, scraped seeds only
Selection of summer fruits; I used fresh raspberries, blueberries and diced strawberries (1 punnet each) and mango (2 mangoes) and a bit of passionfruit (1)
  1. Whip cream first; place creams in a large mixing bowl with icing sugar and vanilla seeds and beat on high with an electric mixer until it reaches soft peaks. Take care not to overmix (especially if you add the double cream, its very easy to overwhip). Cream can be whipped a couple of hours ahead of time and stored in an airtight container in the fridge.
  2. Only assemble your pavlova when you are ready to serve it or it will go soggy.  Place meringue on serving plate or stand. 
  3. Add raspberry sauce to your cream and use a spatula to give it a couple of quick folds. Spread cream mixture of the top of your meringue (sauce will swirl throughout the cream as it spreads on).
  4. Top with fresh fruit and serve immediately.
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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Chocolate Chip Buttermilk Cake with Orange Icing & a Giveaway!

Chocolate Chip Buttermilk Cake with Orange Icing
Sometimes all you need is a good old-fashioned tea cake with a thick layer of icing on top. This buttermilk cake was made for an afternoon tea, chock-full of chocolate chips and topped with an orange-flavoured butter icing. It was simple but satisfying. The buttermilk cake in this recipe has become one of my go-to recipes for when I want to whip up a cake that's fairly easy. It's an incredibly forgiving recipe, since the buttermilk ensure that the cake stays rich and moist even if you forget about it and leave it in the oven too long like I did.
Chocolate Chip Buttermilk Cake with Orange Icing-4
Interestingly (in a bad way) my icing curdled when I added orange juice to it, and I figure it was because I am super lazy and was whipping my butter when it was still really cold (thanks to my powerful kitchenaid), so I melted another 2 tbsp of butter and whipped it into the mixture, which seemed to fix it up. I'm always a fan of any tips that can stop me from having to throw away wasted ingredients!
Chocolate Chip Buttermilk Cake with Orange Icing-2
On to something very exciting; for the longest time I've been a HUGE fan of the wonderful blog Call Me Cupcake! by Linda Lomelino. She bakes the most beautiful creations and takes stunning photographs, it's the kind of work that I aspire to create. Her pink rainbow cake was one of the first ombré cakes I ever saw, and inspired me to create my favourite cake. So you can imagine my excitement when I heard that an English version of her first book, Lomelino's Cakes : 27 Pretty Cakes to Make Any Day Special was finally being published AND I had the opportunity to share a copy of the book with you. That's right, my very first cookbook giveaway! It's an absolutely gorgeous book, full of the prettiest looking cakes I've seen in a while and plenty of handy tips for making beautiful cakes. P.S. For those of you interested, the book will be on sale in bookstores from November 11th (that's today!).
lomelino's cakes
From Lomelino’s Cakes by Linda Lomelino, © 2014 by Linda Lomelino. Reprinted by arrangement with Roost Books, an imprint of Shambhala Publications Inc., Boston, MA. www.roostbooks.com
To enter for a chance to win 1 copy of Lomelino's Cakes : 27 Pretty Cakes to Make Any Day Special by Linda Lomelino: Leave a comment below and tell me, what is your dream birthday cake? This giveaway is currently open to Australian residents only, and closes Monday 17 November 2014. I will select one entry and announce the winner on Tuesday 18 November. Make sure to include your email address in the comment form (you can enter it in the Name/URL box) when you enter so I can contact you if you're the lucky winner! Thanks to Kate from Roost Books for organising this.
This giveaway is now closed! Thanks everyone who entered, come back tomorrow to check if you're a winner!
Chocolate Chip Buttermilk Cake with Orange Icing-3
Chocolate Chip Buttermilk Cake with Orange Icing
(adapted from this Gourmet Traveller recipe)
For the cake:
165g (about 1.5 sticks) butter (I used salted, if using unsalted add a pinch of salt to your flour mixture), softened
220g (1 cup) sugar (I used caster/superfine)
2 eggs, room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
200g (about 1.5 cups) plain/all-purpose flour
100g (about 3/4 cups) self-raising flour
1/4 tsp bicarb (baking) soda
220ml (about 1 cup minus 2 tbsp) buttermilk (or milk mixed with 1 tsp lemon juice)
1 cup milk or dark chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 170°C (340°F) and grease and line a 21cm or 23cm round cake tin (7 inch or 8 inch, baking time will vary) /or a 20cm square cake tin with baking paper. 
  2. Mix flours and baking soda in a bowl together and set aside
  3. Place butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl and beat on high with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. 
  4. Add eggs one at a time, beating to combine. 
  5. Add vanilla and beat to combine.
  6. With the mixer on low speed add half the flour mixture, follow by half the buttermilk mixture. Repeat with remaining flour and buttermilk. Mix until just combined.
  7. Fold in chocolate chips and pour mixture into prepared tin. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. (I used a 21cm round tin and it took about 70 mins)
  8. Cool in tin for 10 minutes then carefully remove from tin, cover with a tea towel and cool on wire rack before serving.
For the icing:
150g (1 & 1/3 sticks) butter, at room temperature
2 cups (250g) icing/confectioner's sugar, sifted
About 1/4 cup orange juice, adjust to taste and texture
  1. Place butter in a large mixing bowl and beat on high with an electric mixer until fluffy. 
  2. Gradually add icing sugar and continue to beat until combined and smooth.
  3. Adding orange juice and beat, adjust to taste and texture (if the mixture becomes too runny, add more icing sugar).
  4. Spread a thick layer of icing over the top of the cake using a spatula. Serve immediately or can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for a couple of days.
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Monday, November 3, 2014

Cherry and Vanilla White Chocolate Tart with a Brown Butter Shell

Cherry and Vanilla White Chocolate Tart with a Brown Butter Shell
This year I've been enjoying the good and the bad parts of being a homeowner. As someone whose family moved around a lot when I was younger, it feels amazing to put roots down. Perth, Doha and Kuala Lumpur were all wonderful but Sydney is home. It's been great to have a place of our own, but also stressful and expensive. I still haven't had a proper housewarming party because we are furnishing and improving our place at such a snail's pace. Last weekend was my first moment of breathing space in a long, long time and I got to potter around my kitchen and really enjoy being in this house.
Cherry and Vanilla White Chocolate Tart with a Brown Butter Shell
It was the first weekend in a long time that I didn't have to make a birthday cake for someone, which was kind of a relief. I could make whatever I felt like and this tart was the result. I managed to score some fresh cherries for fairly cheap and I wanted to make something that would allow them to be enjoyed just as they are. I made the most delicious brown butter tart shell which filled the house with its beautiful aroma as it baked. I whipped up a very simple white chocolate and vanilla bean cream filling that would complement the cherries without overpowering their flavour.
Cherry and Vanilla White Chocolate Tart with a Brown Butter Shell
If you've read my blog before then you've probably heard me wax lyrical about the wonders of brown butter. The smell and flavour really elevates any baked good that you add it to. This tart was no exception, I would have happily eaten the tart shell on its own like a giant cookie. But the filling is pretty great too if you're lucky enough to get your hands on some fresh cherries. If not, this would work great with fresh strawberries or blueberries as well. I have a feeling this tart will become one of my go-to recipes whenever I find some fresh berries on sale.
Cherry and Vanilla White Chocolate Tart with a Brown Butter Shell
Errr so I posted on facebook all excited about a giveaway I was going to share with you guys this week, but I'm an idiot who doesn't read my emails properly, so it will actually be happening next week. So please come back soon for my very first blog giveaway! Those who know me will know that I'm not big on the PR stuff, so I am only going to do a giveaway for you guys if I think it's really good and relevant to this blog. Trust me, it's good! But for now you will have to settle for this recipe.
Cherry and Vanilla White Chocolate Tart with a Brown Butter Shell
Cherry & Vanilla White Chocolate Tart with a Brown Butter Shell
(makes one 24cm tart, tart shell adapted from this recipe)
For the brown butter tart dough:
125g (4.5 oz/just over 1 stick) butter
105g (3.75 ounces/about 1/2 cup) sugar
35g (1.25 ounces) brown sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla essence
1/4 tsp salt
3 egg yolks
300g (10.6oz/ about 2.5 cups) plain/all purpose flour, sifted

Prepare the brown butter ahead of time as you will need to chill it, you can do the two amounts listed above in the same pan and separate them later, or brown each amount separately:
  1. Place butter in a small saucepan on low-medium heat and stir until it melts completely.
  2. Continue cooking, stirring frequently until the milk solids turn brown and the butter smells nutty, about 5 minutes longer (or as long as it takes to turn golden brown). Take care not to burn (it will continue to brown even after you remove it from the heat, so take it off early).
  3. Scrape the melted butter and browned bits into small bowl and chill until solidified (about half an hour in the freezer, an hour or so in the fridge). When ready to make cake, remove from the fridge long enough that the butter is soft enough to be beaten with an electric mixer
  4. With a hand or stand mixer, combine sugars, vanilla extract, salt and brown butter on medium speed. Mix only until ingredients are thoroughly combined, but by no means light and fluffy.
  5. Add in the yolks, one at a time then reduce speed to low. 
  6. Add in the flour all at once and mix until homogenous. If you’re comfortable with dough and a pin, you can roll it right away with very lightly floured hands and rolling pin. Otherwise, form the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate about 15 minutes to make the it easier to handle. You can refrigerate the dough for up to a week or freeze for several months. Before rolling, set the dough out and let it slowly come to room temperature over a few hours. 
  7. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350° F) and lightly grease a 22-24cm loose bottomed tart tin. Dust the counter with a very, very light coat of flour. Roll to 0.75cm (1/3") thickness.Carefully set dough over the tart shell and use your thumbs to press the dough into the corners of the pan. Press the overhanging dough against the edges of the tart pan to trim off the excess and leave the dough flush with the edges. Dock tart lightly with a fork. The dough is extremely forgiving and can be rerolled two or three times, you should be able to press any cracks together to mend them or fill any defects with leftover dough by pressing it gently together. 
  8. Bake for 20-25 minutes. After 10 minutes or so, check on the tart. If it has formed an air bubble; use a skewer to gently poke a small hole in the bubble to deflate it. Continue baking until the tart is dark golden brown and firm and dry to the touch. (It is better to slightly overbake than underbake to prevent any raw taste.) Cool in tin for about 10 minutes, then carefully remove from tin and cool completely on a wire rack. Shell can be stored in an airtight container overnight. 
For the Cherry & Vanilla White Chocolate filling:
1 & 1/2 cups thickened/heavy cream
300g good quality white chocolate, chopped
1 tsp vanilla bean extract or scraped seeds from 1 vanilla bean pod
About 300g fresh cherries, pitted and halved
  1. Place 1 cup of cream in a large mixing bowl and set aside.
  2. Place 1/2 cup cream and white chocolate in a heatproof bowl and heat over a small saucepan of simmering water, stirring regularly with a whisk until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth. Leave to cool for 5 minutes.
  3. Whip remaining cream with an electric mixer on high until stiff peaks form. Take care not to overwhip. 
  4. Stir 1/3 of the whipped cream into the white chocolate mixture to loosen it, then fold the remaining cream into the mixture until combined. Pour mixture into the brown butter tart shell (You may not need to use all the filling, depending on the height of your tart, remember that when you add the cherries on top, the filling will rise slightly). Decorate with fresh cherries.
  5. Chill tart until filling sets, at least 1 hour. Tart can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for several days.
Cherry and Vanilla White Chocolate Tart with a Brown Butter Shell
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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Raspberry, Rose and Lychee Sponge Cake

Raspberry, Rose and Lychee Sponge Cake
I had a pretty good weekend. The weekdays have been not so great, but my weekend was lovely. And this weekend it was my Mum's birthday. She was in the country to celebrate it too! You may recall that this time last year was when my Mum's birthday cake was dropped on to the middle of the road. I didn't mention in that post that it was actually my husband that turned that poor cake into roadkill. I was being all nice about it and not letting him take the blame for it but screw it, it's been a year. It was his fault! Poor guy, he's so traumatised from that experience that he now refuses to carry any of my cakes.
Raspberry, Rose and Lychee Sponge Cake
So my Mum's only request for this year's cake was that it wasn't too sweet or heavy and that I didn't drop it on the ground again. I went with an oldie but a goodie. A classic vanilla sponge cake, sandwiched with raspberry jam and cream. I could have left it there as a traditional Victoria sponge, but I couldn't resist adding a few embellishments to change it up a little. I decided to incorporate some rose and lychee flavours, a la Pierre Hermé's ispahan creations. After seeing some rose meringue inspiration on instagram, I knew I had to make some mini rose meringues.
Raspberry, Rose and Lychee Sponge Cake
The mini meringues take a little longer to bake because of the added moisture from the rose water, and they will get soggy from sitting next to the lychee and raspberry pieces, so make sure you don't put all the toppings on to the cake until you're ready to serve it. I've made a few desserts involving the combo of rose, raspberry and lychee and it is always a winner. My sponge was slightly overbaked (which you might be able to tell from its colour in these not so great photos) so it was a little bit drier than I preferred, but luckily the mountain of cream and jam ensured that this wasn't a problem. This cake is nothing ground-breaking but it's a nice and pretty cake and I think it's exactly what we needed after the insanity of the fried chicken cake.
Raspberry, Rose and Lychee Sponge Cake
Raspberry, Rose and Lychee Sponge Cake
(makes a 3 layer 18cm (7") round cake, sponge recipe from Gourmet Traveller)
For the Sponge Cake:
Note: If you are new to sponge cakes make sure you click through to the Gourmet Traveller link above for extra tips. This sponge cake relies solely on the whipped eggs for leavening and it is important you follow all the steps carefully.
Sponge cake:
60g (about 4.5 tbsp) butter, melted and cooled plus extra for greasing tins
180g (about 1 & 1/3 cups) plain/all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
6 eggs, at room temperature
200g (about 1 cup) caster/superfine sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  1. Make sure your eggs are at room temp and preheat oven to 180°C (350° F) (you may need to adjust to 160-170°C (340° F) for fan-forced). 
  2. Brush two 18cm (7 inch) round cake tins with melted butter, line base and sides with baking paper, grease paper with a little extra butter and then dust lightly with flour. 
  3. Triple-sift flour and set aside. 
  4. Whisk eggs, sugar and vanilla in an electric mixer until thick, pale and tripled in volume (about 7-8 minutes). Sift over flour in two batches, folding each batch in with a large metal spoon or spatula.
  5. Fold in melted butter. 
  6. Carefully pour equal amounts into prepared tins and bake until light golden and centre springs back when pressed lightly with your fingertip (about 20-25 minutes). 
  7. Pull cake gently away from sides of tin with your fingers or carefully loosen with a knife. Turn onto a wire rack, remove baking paper, turn back over swiftly and cool completely. Cakes can be baked a day ahead stored in an airtight container at room temperature
For the mini rose meringues:
4 egg whites, at room temperature
A pinch of salt
200g (about 1 cup) caster/superfine sugar 
1 tsp rose water
Optional: Powdered pink food colouring
  1. Preheat oven to 120°C (250°F) (100°C (210°F) fan-forced) and measure all your ingredients. Line two baking trays with baking paper. Mix sugar with rose water in a small bowl.
  2. Place egg whites and salt in a large, clean mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. With the mixer on low, add sugar 1 tbsp at a time then whisk on high until thick and glossy (at least 5 mins). (Optional: Add food colouring here to tint mixture light pink)
  3. Pinch a small amount of mixture between your thumb and forefinger. If mixture is smooth then the sugar has dissolved, if it is still grainy, beat for a minute or so more and check again. Beat until sugar has completely dissolved. 
  4. Place mixture in a large piping bag with a 1cm round tip and pipe on the prepared baking trays.
  5. Place in oven and reduce oven temp to 90°C (195°F) (85°C (185°F) fan-forced). Leave the oven on for 75-90 mins or until the meringues are crisp (mine took longer but I prefer to leave them longer at a low temp than risk them browning at a higher temp), then turn off oven and allow the meringues to cool completely in the oven (2-3 hours). 
  6. Store in an airtight container until ready to serve cake.
To assemble cake:
1 cup thickened cream (or replace 1/2 cup with creme fraiche like I did), cold
2 tbsp icing/powdered sugar, sifted
About 3/4 cup raspberry jam
To decorate: Fresh raspberries, fresh or canned pitted lychees chopped in to small pieces, dried edible rose petals, extra icing sugar to dust
  1. Place cream (and creme fraiche) and icing sugar in a large mixing bowl and beat on high with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Take care not to overwhip.
  2. Place one sponge cake layer on your cake stand or plate. Spread a thick layer of raspberry jam over the top of cake, followed by a thicker layer of whipped cream. Sandwich with remaining sponge cake layer.
  3. Arrange rose mini meringues, raspberries, lychee pieces and fresh rose petals over the top of the cake. Dust with extra icing sugar to finish. Serve immediately, or can be stored in the fridge for several hours before serving.
Raspberry, Rose and Lychee Sponge Cake
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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

'Fried Chicken' Cookie Pop Cake

'Fried Chicken' Cookie Pop Cake
Before you say, "EW, what the eff?!" let me say this is NOT real fried chicken on top of a cake! I did not go there. It's actually cookie pops covered in cornflakes made to look just like fried chicken, with shortbread chips! But why? Last week was Karen's birthday. We love Karen. And Karen (and most us really) loves fried chicken. We were heading to Red Pepper in Strathfield for Korean fried chicken dinner, and I was tasked with bringing the birthday cake. I was struggling to think of a theme for the cake, and Suze mentioned that Karen just wanted fried chicken for dessert. Which got me thinking of this crazy idea. Imagine if I could make my cake look like fried chicken!
'Fried Chicken' Cookie Pop Cake
A quick google search showed me that I was not the first person to be crazy enough to think of this. There was this fantastic video tutorial from Haniela's for fried chicken cake pops and it was exactly what I needed. Her version is a little more complicated, as it's made with cake, and she even crafts the chicken 'bone' with white candy melts and mini marshmallows. I decided to save some time by making cookie pops instead of cake pops, saving me from baking and crumbling up a cake. Instead I used crushed white chocolate Tim Tam biscuits, mixed up with cream cheese, and milk chocolate finger biscuits as the 'bone' and covered the whole thing with cornflakes. The result was so darn realistic it was disturbing.
'Fried Chicken' Cookie Pop
I seriously thought taking a photo of a cut up cookie pop would help prove that it wasn't fried chicken, but even the cookie pop mixture is the colour of chicken! I swear it's not really fried chicken. It's still mind boggling how realistic it looks, it's almost too realistic. It definitely managed to creep me out, and everyone who saw the cake did do a double take. But sometimes you just gotta have a little fun with your food and mess with people's heads.
'Fried Chicken' Cookie Pop Cake
The Tim Tam cookie pop mixture is very sweet and quite rich, so if you want to use the original cake pop mixture instead, the link is below. Though I'm not sure how many people out there are as random as me and want to make cakes that look like fried chicken. Maybe for the KFC-obsessed? It's not the first time I've done something like this. I'm weird, I know. The shortbread chips tasted great, I will totally make those again. Imagine them served with a raspberry compote 'ketchup'! My instructions below are a little sketchy, so feel free to ask any questions in the comments below if you need more details!
'Fried Chicken' Cookie Pop Cake
'Fried Chicken' Cookie Pop Cake
For the 'fried chicken' cookie pops:
200g (7oz) white chocolate Tim Tams (or any other Tim Tam/Penguin/Cream-filled biscuit/cookie like Oreos)
80g (2.8oz) cream cheese, softened
1 packet Cadbury Fingers or any stick shaped biscuit (the original tutorial linked above uses similar sized pretzel sticks, if you can get them)
Icing: 125g (4.4oz) cream cheese + 30g (2 tbsp) butter, softened and 1 heaped tbsp brown sugar
Coating: 3 cups corn flakes + a pinch of ground cinnamon
  1. Place Tim Tams and cream cheese in a food processor and blitz until it forms a smooth paste (you will need to stop and stir the mixture a few times while the bigger pieces break up). Scrape into a bowl and chill to allow mixture to harden slightly so it is easier to handle.
  2. (I recommend wearing food prep gloves for this messy bit) Roll about 2 tbsp of mixture into a ball and push one of the stick-shaped biscuits into the ball. Pinch mixture to the stick into the shape of a drumstick. Also place a small ball of mixture on the opposite end of the stick biscuit. (See picture below) Place moulded mixture on a lined baking tray. Repeat with remaining mixture, I think manage to make about 10.
  3. Chill tray for about 45 mins (or freeze to save time), until cookie pop mixture sets and is easy to pick up and handle. Prepare icing in the meantime.
  4. Place cornflakes and cinnamon in a large bowl, use your fingers to break up the cornflakes into large crumbs and set aside.
  5. Place icing ingredients (cream cheese, butter and brown sugar) in a mixing bowl and beat until smooth and and fluffy. 
  6. Use a small spatula or knife to spread a thin layer of icing over the surface of each chilled cookie pop, then place the cookie pop in the cornflakes and roll, pressing cornflakes into the icing so that the surface of the cookie pop is covered. 
  7. Return covered cookie pops to fridge to set (at least 1 hour) until ready to use.

For the shortbread crinkle cut 'chips:
Follow instructions for this shortbread dough, omitting ground and candied ginger. Roll dough between two baking sheets to about 0.5 cm thickness, then use a pizza dough cutter or a pastry crimper (if you want to get that crinkle cut look) to cut strips of dough to form the 'chips'. Make sure you cut them about half the thickness of the intended size, as they will expand slightly in the oven. Follow instructions in link to bake until edges turn golden brown.
'Fried Chicken' Cookie Pop Cake
For the cake (Milo cake with milo icing and condensed milk icing):
  1. Follow the instructions for this Devil's Food Cake recipe, using three 15cm (6", this is what I used) or 18cm (7", will result in slightly thinner layers). round cake tins Optional variation: I replaced the 9 tbsp of cocoa powder with 2 tbsp cocoa powder and 7 tbsp milo powder (you could also use Ovaltine) to make it a Malted Devil's Food Cake.
  2. Beat 200g (1 & 3/4 sticks) salted butter (softened) with 3 cups (375g) icing/powdered sugar, and half a cup of milo powder in a mixing bowl with an electric mixer on high until fluffy and spreadable. Use a serrated knife to level the tops of cakes. Place one layer of cake (upside-down) on cake plate and use an offset spatula to spread a thick layer of icing over the top of the cake. Repeat with remaining cakes and icing. 
  3. Beat 300g (2 & 2/3 sticks) salted butter with 1 can (395g) condensed milk and 500g (4 cups) icing/powdered sugar until light and fluffy (you may need to adjust icing sugar amount until desired icing texture is achieved, you want it to be spreadable but stiff enough to hold its shape). Crumb coat cake with some of the plain lemon icing and then chill for about half an hour. Use offset spatula to cover cake in another layer of icing and smooth (run spatula regularly under hot water to achieve a smoother result)
  4. Top cake with shortbread chips and fried chicken cake pops and chill. Remove from fridge at least half an hour before serving to allow to come back to room temperature. Can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for several days.
'Fried Chicken' Cookie Pop Cake
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