Friday, August 31, 2018

Chocolate Mini Cupcakes for RSPCA Cupcake Day

On Monday 20 August, we hosted an RSPCA Cupcake Day in my team at work.  I enjoy RSPCA Cupcake Day, because while raising money for a good cause, you get to see the marvellous delights made by the hidden bakers in your team, and sample some terrific home made baked goods.

This year, I made Chocolate Mini Cupcakes from the Nestle website - after all, it's not Cupcake Day without some cupcakes.

Here are the cupcakes, unadorned:

I then gussied them up with some fancy piped frosting, sanding sugar and sugar stars and flowers:

The recipe made 36 mini cupcakes - here they are in all their glory:

The recipe is as follows:

100g dark chocolate melts or chopped dark chocolate
125ml water
65g butter
110g brown sugar
2 eggs
110g self raising flour
35g plain flour
2 tablespoons cocoa
65g choc bits (optional)


185g butter
280 icing sugar
1 heaped tablespoon cocoa 

Preheat your oven to 180°C. Line 2 x 12-hole  mini muffin trays with paper cases (in my case, 3 trays!).

Now here comes the counter-intuitive step (because we are told that water spoils chocolate).  Place the chocolate melts or chopped dark chocolate and water in a small saucepan over low heat and cook, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes or until melted and smooth. Trust me, it works - it takes a while, just be patient. Remove from the heat.

In a stand mixer, beat the butter and brown sugar  together until pale and creamy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Add the flours and cocoa, and beat on low speed until just combined. Add the melted chocolate mixture and stir to combine, then fold in the choc bits.

Spoon the batter into the muffin pans and bake for 15 minutes or until cooked through. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. 

For the icing, beat all of the ingredients together in a stand mixer until light and fluffy.  using a piping bag, pipe the icing onto the cooled cupcakes and decorate as desired.

Here is our laden RSPCA Cupcake Day morning tea table:

It was all devine! We raised over $400 for the RSPCA, which is a pretty good effort.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

TWD - Hazelnut, Ginger and Olive Oil Cake

Have you ever thought something sounded a little weird and wondered how it would work, then are surprised that it is really good?  So it was for me with this Hazelnut, Ginger and Olive Oil Cake for Tuesday with Dorie.

The cake uses hazelnut meal, but I didn't have enough hazelnuts, so I used about a quarter ground hazelnuts and three quarters almond meal.  The weird comes in as it also contains cornmeal and grated fresh ginger.

This cake was quite plain to look at and I wasn't sure how the audience would receive it, but they liked it and it went in a flash.  I was even asked for the recipe.   Just goes to show, you can't judge a book by its cover.

I liked this cake a lot - it was not overly sweet and was satisfyingly filling - I would make it again.

To see what everyone else made this week and what they thought of it, visit the LYL section of the TWD website.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Snowpea, Bean and Radish Salad - Red Tractor August

When I saw the Red Tractor recipe for this month, my heart sank.  I am not a salad kind of gal, and a salad with radishes? Uggh.

However, you can't judge a book by its cover, and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this salad.  It had a peppery, fresh flavour, I am presuming from the radishes.

The quote for August from the calendar is:

This leaves me out, as I am not great with plants.  My record is rather hit and miss on successfully growing things.

Without further ado, here is the salad recipe:


2 tablespoons mirin
2 tablespoons oil
1 tablespoon sweet chilli sauce
1 tablespoon lime juice
salt and pepper to taste

Place all of the ingredients in a small glass jar, seal the lid, and shake vigorously to mix.

 Blanch 200g trimmed green beans and 200g trimmed snow peas in boiling salted water.  Drain and refresh in ice water twice before drying with a paper towel.  

Thinly slice the beans, snow peas, 1 red onion and 4 radishes.  Place in a bowl and toss with the dressing.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

TWD - Chocolate-Raspberry Thumbprints

On the train recently, I overheard a couple talking rapturously about the pleasures of eating a bag of chips (crisps for those of other jurisdictions).  It made me think about how the simple pleasures are often the best - eating a bag of chips, soaking up the sun on a warm, sunny day, a cool breeze ruffling your hair on a hot day, the waves tickling your toes where the sand and water meet on the beach, watching insects and birds enjoy a beautiful garden - the list goes on.  Perfection!

This week's Tuesday with Dorie recipe is Chocolate-Raspberry Thumbprints - what we Aussies call jam drops.  Instead of the usual vanilla dough, these jam drops are chocolate flavoured.  The version in the book is decorated with drizzled milk chocolate.  However, I thought that they were perfection as they were, without the drizzle, and left them alone.

To see what the other Doristas made and what they thought of it, visit the LYL section of the TWD website.


Friday, August 17, 2018

Lemon Meringue Cheesecake from Dandelion Cafe

I love lemon flavoured desserts and jump at the opportunity to make a good one.  Last week's Atlantic Beach Pie fitted the bill, although it was not overly lemony. 

In the same week, I saw a recipe for Lemon Meringue Cheesecake on, which had come from a café in Lower Hutt, New Zealand called Dandelion Café.  It sounded fabulous, so I decided to give that a try too.

This lemon meringue cheesecake is like a lemon meringue pie in cheesecake form.  The lemon filling is quite tart, despite the ultra sweet addition of condensed milk.  I liked the fact that there are 4 eggs in the recipe and all components of those eggs are used - the yolks in the filling and the whites in the topping.

Things that were perhaps not my favourite were the base, which worked just fine but was a little sparse and was not in my view as good as, say, a crushed biscuit base, and the fact that this cheesecake weeped stickily and copiously for some time after it came out of the oven.  The weeping did eventually stop, but it made quite a sticky mess before it did.

If you are interested in trying this cheesecake, you will need:

1 cup gluten free flour
½  cup sugar

80g melted butter
400g cream cheese
316g condensed milk
4 egg yolks
4 lemons, juice and rind
4 egg whites
1 ¼ cup sugar
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius and grease and line a 24cm springform pan. 
For the base, combine the flour and sugar and place in a food processor with the melted butter. Blitz until a soft crumb forms, then press evenly into the springform pan.  Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool slightly.  
To make the filling, place the filling ingredients in a food processor and blitz until smooth, then pour over the base.
For the meringue topping, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form, then gradually beat in the sugar until stiff peaks form. Carefully spread the topping over the  top of the filling, and bake the cheesecake in the oven for around 20 minutes.
Remove the cheesecake from the oven and allow it to cool to room temperature in the pan on a wire rack, then chill the cheesecake in the pan in the fridge overnight. 
Remove the cheesecake from the pan.  Serve and enjoy.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

TWD - Cold Chocolate Crémeux, Wine-Poached Cherries and Lots of Crumbs

For Tuesday with Dorie this week, I have made a rich, decadent dessert - Cold Chocolate Crémeux, Wine-Poached Cherries and Lots of Crumbs.

This dessert comprises a mousse-like chocolate cremeaux, cherries poached in red wine, and biscuit crumbs sprinkled on top.  The combined result is very rich, so I was glad that I only made enough of this recipe for two serves.

I made the full batch of poached cherries, and enjoyed them more with vanilla icecream than with the cremeaux, as the mild vanilla flavour of the icecream helped to tone down the richness of the poached cherries. 

If you are a fan of the cherry-chocolate combination, more in an adult way than a cherry ripe, then this dessert could be for you.

To see what the others made this week, visit the LYL section of the TWD website.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Laksa Bar, Little Lonsdale St, Melbourne

A hidden gem for Asian food is Laksa Bar in Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne.  The restaurant has both high tables and regular tables, and is decorated with typical Asian prints:

Menus are provided to your table, but you must place your order at the counter.

We decided to order both an entrée to share and a main each.

For our entrée, we ordered the crispy soft shell crab with chilli lime mayo ($9):

Tim and I both love soft shell crab, so this  entrée was a winner.

For main, Tim ordered the Chicken Curry Laksa ($13.90):

It looked very vibrant and fresh, and I know that Tim enjoyed it.

I ordered the lemon chicken (~$12.90):

This dish was rather disappointing.  I expected a lemon sauce; however, the only detectable lemon in this dish was a slice of lemon garnish on the side.  It was fairly dry without the sauce, so is not a repeat for me.

I washed down the lemon chicken with Tiger, an Asian beer ($7):

If you go to Laksa Bar, I recommend sticking with the laksa and curries, but definitely give the soft shell crab a burl.

108 Little Lonsdale St
Melbourne VIC 3000
Ph: (03) 9663 1941

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Atlantic Beach Pie

I adore pies made with condensed milk filling, so I was excited when I saw a recipe for Atlantic Beach Pie in The New Times recently.

This pie contains a delightful combination of flavours - a light, slightly salted cracker crust, a subtle lemony, creamy filling, topped off with cream.

As a substitute for the US Saltine crackers, I used Ritz crackers.  For the topping, I used dollop cream instead of whipped cream because I had some that needed to use up.

This tart is also super easy to make - a big return on minimum effort.

If you would like to try it, you will need:


200g Ritz crackers
90g butter
3 tablespoons sugar


1 can condensed milk
4 egg yolks

1/2 cup lemon juice

Fresh whipped cream for topping

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius and grease an 8" pie pan.

Blitz the crackers into crumbs in the food processor.  Stir in the sugar.  Melt the butter and stir evenly through the crumbs.  Press the crumbs into the pie pan, then bake for 18 minutes in the oven but leave the oven on. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack while making the filling.

Beat the egg yolks, condensed milk and lemon juice together until smooth.  Pour into the pie crust, then bake for 16 minutes or until the filling is set. Allow the pie to cool completely, before topping with whipped cream.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

A Warming Stew - Cholent

I am a big fan of stews in the winter.  They are hearty and filling, making them a perfect shield against the bitter cold.  Even better is a stew that can be made in the slow cooker - a dish involving minimal preparation and a "set and forget" mentality.

In this vein of thought, I came across a recipe for Cholent in Allyson Gofton's Slow - Mouth Watering Recipes for the Slow Cooker and Crock Pot.    Cholent is a beef brisket stew, chock full of vegetables and hearty pearl barley.  Browning the beef before putting it in the slow cooker is optional,  so of course I skipped that step.

The resulting stew is thick and warm and comforting - just the thing to lift the soul on a dark, cold winter evening.

 If you would like to try making Cholent, you will need:

1 x 400g tin butter beans
1.5kg beef brisket
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2-3 crushed cloves of garlic
1/2 cup pearl barley
4-5 medium white potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 turnip,  peeled and sliced
1 crushed bay leaf
2 tablespoons plain flour
1 teaspoon paprika
1/3 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
5 cups beef stock

Drain the beans and scatter over the bottom of your slow cooker.  Scatter the pearl barley,  onion and garlic over the beans, then place the beef on top.  Add the potatoes, carrot turnip and bay leaf.

In a small bowl, mix together the flour, paprika, pepper, ginger and cinnamon, add to the stock, then pour over the ingredients in the cooker.  Cover the cooker with a lid and cook on high for 5-6 hours.

Serve and enjoy.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

TWD - Rosemary-Parm Cookies

Our first Tuesday with Dorie recipe this month is Rosemary-Parm Cookies. These are savoury biscuits flavoured with fresh rosemary and Parmesan cheese.  I was quite chuffed to be able to use home grown rosemary off the balcony.

These biscuits were pleasant and not at all sweet.  They would go well with a glass of wine as a starter at a dinner party.

To see what everyone else thought of this week’s recipes, visit the LYL section of the TWD website.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Habanero Chilli Carrot Cake

The days may be getting longer in Melbourne, but they are still chilly on the weather front, reminding us that winter is not over yet.  On a cold winter's day, what could be better than something a little hot and spicy to make you warm on the inside?  That's what I thought too, so when I saw the recipe for Habanero Chilli Carrot Cake in Libbie Summers' Sweet and Vicious, I knew I had to make it.

Unbeknownst to me at the time, habanero chillies are one of the hottest chillies out there.  If you have family or friends who cannot tolerate chilli, this is not the cake for them.  There is only one dried habanero chilli in this cake, together with some chilli oil (I used Sriracha sauce instead) and cayenne pepper, but boy, it packs a punch, especially on day one.  After the first day, the heat mellows a little, but it is still undoubtedly there. 

Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after chopping up the chilli, otherwise if you rub your eyes/mouth/nose, you could be in for a nasty surprise.

Don't let the chilli put you off trying this cake.  It is definitely different from your average carrot cake, but surprisingly to me, the people at work  enjoyed it.  It is a very moist cake - I would maybe prefer it to be not so moist, but that can be remedied with extra baking time.  And of course, who could resist the cream cheese frosting studded with hot spiced pecans (with the cayenne pepper providing the heat). 

For those who like it hot, this could be the perfect cake.  If you are game enough to give it a go, you can find the recipe online here.