DARK CHOCOLATE COOKIES

 

Ok, so this blog post was originally about how I really wanted cookies one day but didn't want to wait overnight for the dough to rest in the fridge like lots of really good recipes call for. This blog post has since been edited and this is why - after going through my blog and tidying up some of my posts, I realised I've actually already posted this recipe. This is the same base as my M&Ms cookie that I found on Smitten Kitchen. When I posted this originally, I'd found the recipe on allrecipes.com after a quick Google search. The two recipes are exactly the same, but I'm gonna give my credit to Smitten Kitchen. 

I'm not even mad. Just makes me think "wow, I must really like this cookie". And I do! Try it, everyone. 

DARK CHOCOLATE COOKIES
from All Recipes

 

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
170 grams butter, melted
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
Dark chocolate block, chopped (I used a 250g block)

  1. Sift together the flour and baking soda and set aside.
  2. In a mixing bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended.
  3. Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy.
  4. Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended.
  5. Reserving a handful of the chocolate, pour the rest of the chocolate into the batter and mix by hand.
  6. Using an ice cream scoop, scoop cookie dough into balls onto prepared trays. Dot the tops with the reserved chocolate and refrigerate for 1 hour. 
  7. When ready, heat the oven to 165˚C. Bake cookies for 15 to 17 minutes or until the edges are lightly toasted.
  8. Cool completely on the baking sheets before eating.
 

THE BEST BANANA CAKE

 

Banana cake has never been on the top of my cake list. Maybe it's the fact that they're made with near rotten bananas that doesn't sit well with me. Being a fussy banana cake eater, trust me when I say, this is one of the best cakes I've ever had, and definitely the best banana cake I've ever had. 

This cake is a blend of banana, pineapple and cinnamon. More commonly known as 'Hummingbird Cake' over in the States, this cake is fluffy, moist and bloody delicious. 

What makes it even more amazing is the entire can of dulce de leche that is spread in between the two layers of cake. If you didn't already know, I love caramel.

BANANA DULCE DE LECHE CAKE
by L.H. Wiggins

 

For the cake:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1x 227g can crushed pineapple, undrained
2 cups chopped bananas (about 5 bananas)

For the dulce de leche filling:
1x can condensed milk

For the icing:
1x batch of your favourite cream cheese icing

For the chocolate ganache:
150g bittersweet chocolate
100g cream
15g butter

  1. Start by making your dulce de leche first if using. Take your can of condensed milk and remove the paper label from the outside. 
  2. Fill a pot with enough water to cover the can of condensed milk and bring to a boil. Lie the can on its side and leave to simmer for 2 hours, always ensuring the tin is completely submerged under the water. 
  3. After 2 hours, remove the can from the pot and let cool completely before opening.
  4. For the cake, preheat the oven to 180°C. Whisk together flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and cinnamon in a large bowl and set aside.
  5. Roughly whisk together the eggs and oil then add to the dry ingredients, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened.
  6. Add in the vanilla, pineapple and bananas and mix well.
  7. Pour batter into two greased 9 inch tins.
  8. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a wooden skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
  9. Cool cake layers in tins for 10 minutes then remove and let cool completely on a wire rack. 
  10. Once cool, lie the first layer of cake on a plate and spread the entire can of dulce de leche over the top. Carefully place the second layer over the top and cover with cream cheese icing. 
  11. To make the chocolate ganache, place the chocolate and butter together in a glass bowl. Heat the cream in a pot until hot and then pour over the chocolate and butter. 
  12. Allow to sit for a few minutes then whisk together until smooth. Let cool. 
  13. Once cool, pour over the top of the cake. 

Enjoy!

BEETROOT RED VELVET CAKE

 

I've only become a recent lover of beetroot. Up until a few months ago, it used to taste like dirt to me. However, after reading up on the benefits, I forced myself to eat it repeatedly, and now I love it. Persistence is key, guys. 

That doesn't mean I wasn't adverse to using it in a cake recipe though. It is a vegetable after all, and one that not too long ago, tasted like the ground to me. I never understood why people ate chocolate beetroot cake when they could just have regular chocolate cake - right? Recently however, I needed to make a red velvet birthday cake but couldn't bring myself to use a whole bottle of red food colouring. Beetroot seemed the only way to go to get that red colour in.

If you haven't tried beets in cakes, the first thing you'll need to know is you can't taste them. Promise. As well as giving this cake an awesome, natural red colour, beetroot also adds great texture. Moist, light and fluffy with a subtle chocolate flavour, this cake is right up my alley. And you'll be getting in a serving of veg too!

BEETROOT RED VELVET CAKE
adapted by Kim Severson

 

For the cake:
1x 450g can beetroot, drained
170g butter, room temperature
1/2 cup plain unsweetened yoghurt
1/4 cup milk
Juice of 1 large lemon
2 tsp white vinegar
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
2 cups (200g) flour
3 tablespoons (24g) cocoa powder
1 ⅛ tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
½ tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cup (300g) granulated sugar
3 eggs

To serve:
Cream cheese icing

  1. Dice beets and process in a food processor. This should yield about 1 cup of beetroot puree (remove excess if more).
  2. Mix the yoghurt with the milk and add to the food processor with the beets, lemon juice, vinegar and vanilla until all incorporated. Set aside.
  3. Sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt and baking soda.  
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and sugar until pale and fluffy (5 minutes).
  5. Beat in eggs one at a time.
  6. Alternate adding flour mixture and beet mixture to butter mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients, and beating for 10 seconds after each addition. 
  7. Divide batter between two cake tins.
  8. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove pans from oven and cool completely on a wire rack. 
  9. To assemble, sandwich the cakes together with the cream cheese icing. Top and cover the sides with the rest of the icing.

           Enjoy!

CARAMEL SLICE

 

If you don't like caramel, I'm afraid you're not going to like anything here on my blog. 

This recipe is just an adaptation of my butterscotch slice recipe, with some chocolate spread on top. I'm lazy ok, and I wanted caramel slice. It's delicious though, which is all you need to know, so try it. 

CARAMEL SLICE

 

For the base:
125g butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 small egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1  1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

For the filling:
100g butter
2 heaping tbs of golden syrup
1 can sweetened condensed milk
Sprinkle of salt

For the chocolate:
125 grams bittersweet chocolate, chopped
35 grams butter

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C.
  2. To make the base combine the butter, sugar, egg and vanilla in a food processor. Process until light and fluffy.
  3. Add in the flours, then process until a dough forms.
  4. Take 3/4 of the mixture and press into a square baking tin lined with baking paper. Flatten the rest of the dough out on a baking tray lined with paper (to be used for crumbling on top of the chocolate - optional).
  5. Bake for 15 minutes.
  6. For the filling, melt the butter in a pot, add the golden  syrup and stir. Remove from heat and add condensed milk and salt, mixing until all the liquids are incorporated.
  7. Pour the filling over the base in the tin.
  8. Bake for another 15 minutes. 
  9. Let cool.
  10. For the chocolate, melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pot of barely simmering water (making sure water does not touch the bottom of the bowl).
  11. Remove from heat and stir in the butter.
  12. Pour chocolate over the cooled caramel filling and crumble the leftover dough over the top.
  13. Leave in the fridge to set for an hour before cutting into squares. 

 

 

SHAKSHUKA

 

This is my favourite ever breakfast, reserved for special occasions i.e. when I have the time to actually make breakfast. If you haven't heard of it, shakshuka is just a really cool name for eggs poached in a tomato sauce. I serve it with a heap of feta in our house with a side of toasted baguette and bacon. 

I like to use this recipe as a guide but always swap out ingredients for what I have on hand. It’s a good way to use up eggs quickly and best of all, there’s only one pan to wash up at the end!

SHAKSHUKA
recipe from Tori Avey

1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans diced tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp chili powder (mild)
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
Pinch of cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
Pinch of sugar (optional, to taste)
Salt and pepper to taste
5-6 eggs
1/2 tbsp fresh chopped parsley (optional, for garnish)

  1. Heat a large skillet on medium. Slowly warm olive oil in the pan. Add chopped onion, sauté for a few minutes until the onion begins to soften. Add garlic and continue to sauté till mixture is fragrant.
  2. Add tomatoes and tomato paste to pan, stir till blended.
  3. Add spices and sugar, stir well, and allow mixture to simmer over medium heat for 5-7 minutes till it starts to reduce. At this point, you can taste the mixture and spice it according to your preferences. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Crack the eggs, one at a time, directly over the tomato mixture, making sure to space them evenly over the sauce.
  5. Cover the pan. Allow mixture to simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until the eggs are cooked and the sauce has slightly reduced. Keep an eye on the skillet to make sure that the sauce doesn't reduce too much, which can lead to burning.
  6. For runnier eggs, let the sauce reduce for a few minutes before cracking the eggs on top, cover the pan and cook the eggs to taste.
  7. Garnish with the chopped parsley (or feta in my case!).
 

LEMON & COCONUT SLICE

 

Do you like lemons? Do you like coconut? Are you in need of a dead-easy, deliciously moist, cakey slice that uses only one bowl? Read on, recipe straight ahead. 

LEMON & COCONUT SLICE
from A Spoonful of Sugar

250g butter
1 1/2 cups caster sugar
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1 cup desiccated coconut
1 1/2 tbsp finely grated lemon rind
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup frozen berries (optional)
Icing sugar, to dust

  1. Preheat oven to 180º C. 
  2. Melt butter in a pan over medium heat.
  3. Remove from heat. Stir in sugar and add eggs, one at a time, stirring until mixture is thick and glossy.
  4. Sift in the flour and mix until well combined.
  5. Add the coconut, lemon rind and lemon juice and stir well.
  6. Spread over base of prepared pan.
  7. Dot the surface of the batter with the berries.
  8. Bake for 30 – 40 minutes (turning halfway through) or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  9. Set aside in the pan to cool completely.
  10. Dust with icing sugar and cut into squares.
 

OATMEAL & RAISIN COOKIES

 

My mum has a firm belief that all children love raisins. Whenever someone comes to visit with a small child, mum hands them over a box of Sun-maid raisins. 

This is probably why I’m not averse to raisins, as almost everyone else I know seems to be. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I love them. I would probably never reach for a box of raisins to snack on now, but I do love things that have raisins in them – hot cross buns, fruit toast, apple and sultana cake, cereal, and most of all, oatmeal and raisin cookies. 

My intro to oatmeal raisin cookies started at Subway many years ago. I would pay good money for the Subway recipe but in the mean time I’ve got this one from Smitten Kitchen, which may even be better. I like to make my raisins extra juicing by plumping them up with boiling water. I could honestly eat a tray of these in one go. 

OATMEAL & RAISIN COOKIES
from Smitten Kitchen

 

115 grams butter, softened
2/3 cups brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
3/4 cups raisins

  1. Optional: Place raisins in a bowl and add enough boiling water to cover all the raisins. Leave to soak for at least 10 minutes.
  2. Cream together butter and sugar until creamy.
  3. Add egg and vanilla, mix until smooth. 
  4. In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt, then add to the creamy mixture, mixing until combined.
  5. Drain the raisins and add to the cookie dough along with the oats. Mix.
  6. Scoop the dough onto a tray lined with baking paper and leave to refrigerate overnight.
  7. When ready, place cookies on a baking tray about 5cm apart and bake for 10-12 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius. Leave to cool on tray for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

STICKY DATE PUDDINGS

 

One particularly cold night, while we were looking over the dessert menu at dinner, my boyfriend decided he wanted a sticky date pudding, which was not on the menu. Following a mad dash in the rain from the restaurant to the car, want turned to need and he went on a rampage to the supermarket in search of a ready-made sticky date pudding. Unfortunately, he went home empty handed that night with an unsatisfied tummy. 

My boyfriend never craves any kind of dessert so I took his suffering very seriously. The next night I made sure I had these little sticky date puddings with caramel sauce ready for dessert. I've said it before, and I'll say it again; I love caramel. Inevitably, I love these. 

These are the perfect single serve size. Bake these in tulip-type muffin cases to hold in the caramel sauce. This way you can just grab a couple when you're in need of a sweet, give them a quick zap in the microwave, and you're ready to go. 

STICKY DATE PUDDINGS
from taste

Sticky date puddings:
300g pitted dates, chopped
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cup boiling water
125g butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
1 3/4 cup self raising flour 

Caramel sauce:
1 cup brown sugar
300ml thickened cream
1 tsp vanilla
60g butter
 

  1. Preheat oven to 180˚C. Line muffin tray with tulip muffin liners. 
  2. Place dates in a bowl and sprinkle the baking soda on top. Pour boiling water over the dates and allow to soak for 20 minutes.
  3. In another bowl, beat butter, sugar and vanilla until creamy.
  4. Beat in eggs, one at a time. 
  5. Add the flour and mix. 
  6. Fold through the date mixture until well combined.
  7. Fill muffin liners with the batter (fill liners near to the top, the muffins don't rise much).
  8. Bake for 20 minutes. 
  9. While the muffins are baking, make the caramel sauce. Combine all the ingredients in a small pot and cook over medium heat. Allow to simmer for 2 minutes. 
  10. Once muffins are done, take out of the oven and pierce with a skewer. Spoon as much of the caramel sauce over the muffins as you can. Let cool for 5 minutes before eating and use any remaining sauce to serve.
  11. If muffins have cooled, heat for 20 seconds in the microwave to allow the caramel to melt back down and muffin to warm. 
 

BUTTERSCOTCH SLICE

 

I love caramel slice. I think I've said that on here before. This slice is a thick layer of baked caramel/butterscotch between two layers of buttery shortbread. I mean need I say more?

Condensed milk, butter and golden syrup come together to make a butterscotch sauce that can easily be eaten on its own or spooned over ice cream. When baked though, the butterscotch caramelises and becomes dense, custardy and fudgy, making it a perfect filling for the buttery and crumbly shortbread. 

BUTTERSCOTCH SLICE
Recipe from Simon Holst

For the base:
150g butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup self-raising flour
1 cup all-purpose flour

For the filling:
100g butter
2 heaping tablespoons of golden syrup
1 can sweetened condensed milk
Sprinkle of salt

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C.
  2. To make the base combine the butter, sugar, egg and vanilla in a food processor. Process until light and fluffy.
  3. Add in the flours, then process until a dough forms.
  4. Take 3/4 of the mixture and press into a square baking tin lined with baking paper. Wrap the remaining dough in glad wrap and place in the refrigerator.
  5. For the filling, melt the butter in a pot, add the golden  syrup and stir. Remove from heat and add condensed milk, mixing until all the liquids are incorporated.
  6. Pour the filling over the dough in the tin.
  7. Coarsely grate the remaining piece of dough on top of the filling.
  8. Bake for 30-45 minutes, until the crust is golden and the filling has browned.
  9. Let cool completely before cutting.
 

JAM THUMBPRINT COOKIES

 

These cookies are the first things I ever learnt how to bake. For a long time it was the only thing I knew how to make and I used to make it for everyone because I was so proud of myself. The recipe actually comes from a cookbook for children, so that should give you an indication of how easy these are to make.

These cookeis are a buttery, shortbready cookie and is my go-to recipe anytime I want to make a thumbprint cookie filled with jam or chocolate. They're not too sweet which make them perfect accompaniments for sweeter fillings. The secret ingredient is sweetened condensed milk - one of the best inventions ever made.

Thumbprint cookies are so fun to make, especially with kids. Their tiny thumbs make the perfect sized holes for the fillings. They're also terribly easy to eat cause they're bite sized, so be warned.

JAM THUMBPRINT COOKIES
from The New Edmonds Junior Cookbook

150g butter
4 tbs condensed milk
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup jam

  1. Preheat oven to 180˚C.
  2. Cream together the butter, sugar and condensed milk in a medium sized bowl.
  3. Sift in the flour and baking powder and mix until combined.
  4. Roll tablespoons of dough and place on a baking tray (the dough doesn't spread much and I usually fit 15 per tray).
  5. Using your thumb, press down on the dough to make a little well in the middle of each cookie.
  6. Pour the jam into a piping bag and pipe a small amount of filling inside each hole.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes until golden all over. 
 

DARK CHOCOLATE & RASPBERRY BROWNIES

 

These brownies are what I'm known for. I can't tell you how many times I've used this recipe. If someone asked me what the one thing is I'd recommend them make from my blog, I would say these dark choc and raspberry brownies. 

I love using raspberries in my baking whenever I can and the dark chocolate with the berries are a perfect combo. The tartness of the raspberries helps to cut through the richness of the brownie so you can eat as much as you want without feeling too sick.

Try these and thank me later. 

DARK CHOCOLATE & RASPBERRY BROWNIES
adapted from bbcgoodfood

300g semi-sweet dark chocolate
250g butter, cubed
250g brown sugar
4 eggs
140g flour
50g cocoa powder
2 cups frozen raspberries 

  1. Preheat oven to 180˚C.
  2. Place chocolate, butter and brown sugar in a heat-proof bowl. Set the bowl over a pot of gently simmering water, and stir until everything is combined and smooth. 
  3. Remove from the heat and beat in eggs one at a time.
  4. Sift in the flour and cocoa powder.
  5. Add half the frozen berries to the batter and pour into a lined baking tin (I use a 21.5cmx21.5cm square tin).
  6. Top with the remaining berries and bake for 65 minutes for a fudgy texture, turning halfway through (adding a sheet of foil over the top of the pan at this point will stop the raspberries going brown). 
  7. Let cool completely in the tin. 
  8. Once ready, slice into squares and dust with icing sugar.
 

CHOCOLATE CHIFFON CAKE

 

I am shit and lazy at separating eggs. I'll crack all of my eggs into one bowl , knowing full well that one of the yolks will eventually burst. And then I get angry when it does. 

With that in mind, when I was searching for a chiffon cake recipe to try a wee while ago, I simply chose the recipe that required the least amount of eggs to separate. Both the rationale and the outcome were brilliant. This is the only chiffon cake recipe I've ever tried and I've never felt the need to try another.

I love light, spongey cakes and this one is incredibly airy and fluffy. Super easy to eat, not too difficult to make (as far as chiffon cakes go) and looks pretty impressive. 

CHOCOLATE CHIFFON CAKE
recipe adapted from Nigella

For the cake:
2 cups cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
3 tbs unsweetened cocoa
1 ¼ cups sugar
5 large eggs, separated
½ cup canola oil
1 cup water

1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon cream of tartar

For the ganache:
1 cup heavy cream
250gm dark chocolate

 

  1. Preheat oven to 160˚C. 
  2. Mix flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and 2 teaspoons of cream of tartar together. Sift twice.
  3. Using a fork, beat together the egg yolks, water, vanilla and oil and add to dry ingredients. Mix well and set aside.
  4. Beat the egg whites until white and frothy and then add ½ teaspoon cream of tartar. Beat until white and peaky. 
  5. Pour the batter into the middle of the egg white mixture and gently fold together until just combined. Do not beat
  6. Pour into ungreased cake tin and bake for 1 hour.
  7. Once cake is baked, remove from the oven and immediately turn upside down and let it hang until cool.
  8. Meanwhile, to make the chocolate ganache, heat the cream in a pot until small bubbles appear.
  9. Remove from the heat and add in the chocolate, swirling the pot to make sure all the chocolate is covered with cream. Let sit, without stirring, for a few minutes.
  10. Stir until smooth. 
  11. Let the chocolate ganache sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.
  12. When ready, pour the ganache over the cooled cake and use a spatula to spread it evenly across the surface. Sprinkle with some chocolate flakes and enjoy. 
 

BAKED CAMEMBERT

 

A couple of years ago I went through a low carb phase which involved a lot of peanut butter and a lot of cheese. A lot of cheese. 

Even though I ate a sickening amount of cheese, I never got sick of it. I had to quit the habit though for fear of what might be happening to my insides.

This is the ultimate cheese dish. It's the most delicious way to consume cheese, and also the fastest (I can eat this in one sitting). A super easy way to impress guests at your next dinner party. Just be sure you have enough to feed everyone cause guaranteed they'll be coming back for seconds. 

baked camembert

BAKED CAMEMBERT IN PUFF PASTRY 

1 wheel of Camembert (brie works well too)
1 sheet of puff pastry
3 tablespoons apricot or raspberry jam
Small handful of slivered almonds (optional)
Wafer crackers 

  1. Preheat oven to 200˚C.
  2. Place Camembert in the middle of the puff pastry (leave skin on).
  3. Spoon jam on top of the camembert and sprinkle almonds on top.
  4. Tightly fold the puff pastry up and around the camembert and pinch together the edges to make a tight seal.
  5. Bake for 25 minutes. 
  6. Leave for 5 minutes to cool down a bit and serve with wafer crackers. 
 

M&M COOKIES

 

I love mini M&Ms. Give me a bag of regular M&Ms and they'll stay uneaten in my house for weeks. Give me a bag of mini M&Ms and guaranteed they'll be devoured within the hour. As well as being delicious, they're also very cute and photogenic, so of course I needed to find a recipe to incorporate them into.

This is a great cookie base from Smitten Kitchen that you can add anything to - I've tried chocolate chips, white chocolate, apricot and chocolate, etc. Everyone needs an easy, go-to cookie recipe. I've tried many a cookie recipe in my lifetime and trust me, these are good. 

M&M COOKIES
from Smitten Kitchen

2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
170 grams salted butter, melted
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 cup mini M&Ms or 2 cups chocolate chips (optional)

 

  1. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended.
  3. Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy.
  4. Mix in the sifted ingredients until just combined.
  5. If you want to use chocolate chips, add these to the dough at this stage and stir to combine with a wooden spoon.
  6. Refrigerate dough for 30 minutes to an hour until firm.
  7. When ready, preheat oven to 165˚C and line two baking trays with baking paper.
  8. Use a cookie dough scoop to scoop out the dough and place cookies about 7cm apart. 
  9. If using M&Ms, cover the tops of the cookies with the M&Ms and pat into place. 
  10. Bake for 10-12 minutes. 
 

SOUR CREAM PEAR & RASPBERRY CAKE

 

My parents have owned their bakery for the last 30-something years. As a child growing up, this is where I spent most of my time. As one can imagine when growing up in a bakery, I ate a lot (seriously, a lot) of cake. It was awesome, but over the years, I've slowly lost my sweet tooth. Now I can't eat anything sweet without then needing something salty.

When it comes to cake I prefer light, plain cakes. Not boring, just not too rich or indulgent. This is my favourite.

I made this for Christmas dessert a few years ago and my parents loved it so much, they now make their own version in their bakery. This is the sour cream butter cake with pears and raspberries originally from the Bourke Street Bakery cookbook. I've adapted the recipe to ensure there's twice as much fruit than there is cake, which means it's perfectly healthy and you'll be guaranteed a bit of pear and a bit of raspberry in each forkful. If you want to make a bigger cake, just double the ingredients. 

SOUR CREAM PEAR & RASPBERRY CAKE 
(from the Bourke Street Bakery cookbook, adapted by The Bake-A-Nista

 
 

125 grams butter, room temperature
160 grams sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
100g lite sour cream (I use lite because it has a runnier consistency)
150g self-raising flour
1 small can sliced pears
1 cup frozen raspberries 

  1. Preheat oven to 180˚C and line a small cake tin with baking paper (I use a 21.5cm round cake tin)
  2. Cream butter, sugar and vanilla together until light and creamy.
  3. Add in eggs one at a time, beating until each one is incorporated into the batter. 
  4. Add in the sour cream and mix until combined. 
  5. Mix in the flour and pour batter into cake tin.
  6. Line the pear slices in a circle on the top of the cake and fill the gaps in with raspberries (you don't need to push the fruit into the cake because the batter will rise and cover it)
  7. Bake for 60-65 minutes or until the middle of the cake feels firm when touched. 
  8. Let cool in tin for 10 minutes and then turn out onto a cake rack.
  9. When cool, dust with icing sugar and enjoy!
 

MEYER LEMON CURD

 

My boyfriend, bless him, is the type of guy that thinks multivitamins are a substitute for actually eating vegetables and that eating fruit is just as bad as eating candy. With all this talk about Junk Free June recently, it was the perfect time to evaluate our eating habits and basically force ourselves to eat more vegetables.

That's how we ended up at the farmers market on the weekend (a place we often frequent but only ever to buy burgers and donuts) where I laid eyes on a Meyer lemon for the first time ever. I'd seen so many recipes that called for these lemons but have never been able to find them.  Excitedly, I bought a few to bake with. Safe to say, we did not complete Junk Free June. 

I wanted my first time trying Meyer lemons to be special and what better way to use a lemon than with a simple lemon curd. This recipe is super easy to follow and produces what might possibly be the best lemon curd I've ever tried, all credit due to the Meyer lemons. Unless it’s peanut butter, I'm not one to eat things by the spoonful straight from the jar but this is that good.

MEYER LEMON CURD
from

250ml freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice (about 6 lemons)
Zest of two Meyer lemons
1/2 cup sugar
175 grams butter, cubed
4 large eggs
4 large egg yolks 

 

  1. Place the zest in a medium sized bowl and set a mesh strainer on top. Set aside.
  2. Warm the lemon juice, sugar and butter in a medium sized saucepan until the butter is melted.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs and egg yolks. 
  4. Once the butter has melted, pour the mixture slowly and in a gradual stream into the egg mixture, whisking constantly.
  5. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a heatproof spatula until thickened and starting to coat the spatula.
  6. Remove from heat and press the curd through the strainer over the bowl containing the lemon zest. 
  7. Stir the curd for a few minutes to let the heat out and let cool before refrigerating.
 

RICOTTA DONUTS

 

If watching too much TV has taught me anything, it's that cleaning the oven, doing your taxes and making souffles are a bitch, and that's why I've never attempted to do any of those things. Unfortunately, my oven is in quite a state at the moment. An incident involving a leaky baking tray and cheesey potato bake has left the bottom of my oven floor covered in a film of oil, and whenever I try to bake something, it imparts a smokey flavour into the baking, which I just don't love. Instead of cleaning the oven, I've decided to leave it there until the next time I absolutely must use it.

In the meantime, these deep fried donuts are satisfying my needs for baked goods. The secret ingredient (apart from the deep fried) is ricotta. You can use yoghurt or sour cream instead but I like the texture the ricotta gives most. You can fill these with just about anything you like or eat them just as they are - they're delicious either way. 

ricotta donuts with creme patissiere

These are incredibly easy to make but you must, must, must use a thermometer. I have tried these sans thermometer and all if left me with was a few good donuts, and many burnt ones that weren't cooked inside. Don't make my mistakes.

DEEP FRIED RICOTTA DONUTS
(makes about 15)
adapted from a cup of jo

1 1/3 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp grated lemon zest
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs
250gm of ricotta
Canola oil, for frying
Icing sugar, to dust

  1. Sift together the flour, baking powder and cinnamon together in a mixing bowl. Add sugar, salt, eggs, ricotta, vanilla, and lemon zest, and mix until combined. 
  2. Fill a deep, heavy pot, with canola oil (leaving at least 5cm space at the top) and heat the oil over medium heat until a thermometer reads 165˚C. 
  3. Using a cookie dough scoop, drop scoops of batter into the oil. Only fry a few at a time and make sure to leave enough space for the donuts to move around. It should take 4-5 minutes to cook and should be golden brown all over. Remove a test donut from the pot and cut in half to double check it is cooked inside. 
  4. Deep fry the rest of the batter and let the donuts rest on a plate lined with paper towels to soak up excess oil. 
  5. Dust with icing sugar.
  6. If filling with caramel, use a sharp knife to poke a hole at the top of each donut 3/4 of the way deep. Swivel the knife around to make a hole for the caramel sauce.
  7. Remove (or eat) any loose cake from the insides of the donuts.
  8. Fill a piping bag with the caramel and gently fill each donut with the caramel sauce. 
 
 
 

CARAMEL CRACK SLICE

 

I hate walnuts, but you'd never be able to tell if you saw me eating some of this slice. That's how good it is. 

If I had to choose my favourite baking recipe, this would be it. It's basically a decadent caramel slice with candied walnuts on top. First you start with a crumbly, buttery, shortbread base. Follow this with silky and rich caramel. Then with a thin lick of chocolate. And finally, finish it off with crunchy, sweet, salty, candied walnuts. So many textures, so much perfection. Be warned, it's addictive. 

CHOCOLATE CARAMEL SLICE WITH CANDIED WALNUTS
AKA 'CRACK SLICE'
adapted from jasonandshawnda

For the shortbread: 
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp icing sugar
115 grams butter, cold, cubed
1 egg yolk, beaten

For the filling:
1 can of dulce de leche or caramel (I used homemade dulce de leche*)
2 cups walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup sugar
3 tbsp water
Pinch of salt 

For the chocolate:
125 grams bittersweet chocolate, chopped
35 grams butter

 

  1. Preheat oven to 180˚C and line a square baking tin with baking paper (I used a 21.5cm x 21.5cm tin).
  2. To make the crust, mix dry ingredients in food processor, add butter and pulse until coarse.
  3. Add beaten egg yolk and pulse until ball of dough is formed.
  4. Press dough into baking tin and prick with a fork.
  5. Bake for 25 minutes until golden, rotating halfway through.
  6. Cool to room temperature and then fill with caramel. 
  7. For the candied walnuts, put sugar, water and salt in a saucepan and cook on medium/high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves.
  8. Continue to cook until the sugar starts to colour.
  9. Add walnuts, stir to coat with the sugar (if the sugar mixture starts to turn white, keep stirring until it turns back to caramel colour).
  10. Pour onto baking paper and spread apart as quickly as possible.
  11. Once cooled, chop into small pieces and spread half of the walnuts onto the caramel.
  12. Melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pot of barely simmering water (making sure water does not touch the bottom of the bowl).
  13. Remove from heat and stir in the butter.
  14. Pour chocolate over the caramel filling and scatter the rest of the candied walnuts on top.
  15. Leave in the fridge to set for 3 hours before cutting into squares. I like to leave mine in a container in the fridge so the caramel remains firm. 
     

*I used homemade dulce de leche for this, or alternatively you can use Nestle canned caramel. They taste similar but the dulce de leche is definitely more delicious and easier to spread. 

 

 

OOEY GOOEY CHOCOLATE CARAMEL MUFFINS

 

A couple of months ago, on a quest for something sweet, I whipped together a batch of chocolate muffins with a molten caramel filling that oozed out the centre when bitten in half. Recently when pictures of my baking started floating around on Instagram, I received a tonne of requests for the recipe. What I have been hiding and am only now ready to admit is that the caramel shamefully came from an unlabelled silver packet lying in the back of the pantry since ages ago. Shameful because mostly a) I didn't make it myself and secretly b) because I have no idea where to get my hands on another pack. So anyway, there began my heartbreaking journey to recreate a recipe for these ooey gooey caramel muffins.

I had the muffin recipe down, but the caramel part turned out to be an unexpected, crazy science experiment. I tried canned caramel, dulce de leche, bottled caramel sauce and four different recipes for homemade caramel. None of them worked! Although still edible, both the canned caramel and dulce de leche were too dense, sinking into a thick glob at the bottom of each muffin, and the other caramels were too thin and dissolved into the muffin once baked. By this time I'd run out of sugar and flour, every surface of my kitchen was littered with muffins that had been split in half and/or picked at and nibbled on, and I had a litre of leftover caramel that would sustain me for a year of ice-cream desserts. My last desperate attempt was to try caramel candies, which I'd read online might work. I tried out two brands, Cadbury and Werther's Originals; the Cadbury caramels, like the homemade caramel sauces, disappointingly melted and merged into the muffins, but when I split open the muffin containing the Werther's Originals (a moment comparable to Moses splitting the Red Sea) I very nearly cried. It had worked. If it weren't for the risk of burning your tongue, you could easily slurp out the caramel from the middle - it was ooey and most definitely gooey, and to top it all off, it was bloody delicious. 

I am, however, still convinced that there is a recipe out there for the perfect homemade caramel that will yield a beautiful muffin with a runny caramel centre. If anyone has any ideas, please share with me! In the meantime, enjoy this recipe using caramel candies - it's good, I promise!

OOEY GOOEY CHOCOLATE CARAMEL MUFFINS:
(makes 12)

150 grams butter at room temperature
3/4 cup caster sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup cocoa powder
160 grams sour cream
1/4 cup milk
24 caramel chews (I used Werther's Originals)

  1. Preheat oven to 180˚C and line a muffin tray.
  2. Beat butter, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl until pale and creamy.
  3. Add eggs one at a time, beating until combined.
  4. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and cocoa, and roughly mix into the creamy mixture. The batter will be very thick at this stage.
  5. Add the sour cream and mix until just combined.
  6. Add the milk and mix until smooth.
  7. Spoon mixture into muffin cases until they are about two thirds full.
  8. Place two caramel chews in the centre of each muffin case and lightly push into the batter to secure it in place (don't push the caramels down to the bottom).
  9. Divide the rest of the batter among the muffin cases, making sure that the caramels are covered. 
  10. Bake for 20 minutes.

The muffins are best eaten warm when the caramel is still lovely and gooey. Once cooled the caramel will begin to harden like toffee so just pop one in the microwave for 20 seconds before eating!