Category Archives: Sweet Treats

Brownie pudding

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Back in elementary school Valentine’s Day was awesome.

Mum would always take my brothers and I to the store to go pick out our Valentine’s Day cards. I remember buying lots with The Little Mermaid, Care Bears, even Spongebob Squarepants. My brothers would always go for the Hot Wheels, GI Joe and NFL cards. We would go home and Mum would give each of us a list of our classmates and we’d address each card. And each card already had a witty little phrase on it so there was literally no thinking involved. Then Mum would help us stick a piece of candy to each and we’d have our bag ready to take the next day.

At school on Valentine’s Day we would each make our own little mailbox out of paper and cardboard, decorate it with stickers and glitter and then line them all up in a row along the wall. Then we’d get about ten minutes to distribute all our Valentines and then would have to sit anxiously until the end of the day and we could tear through all our new ‘mail’ and take home all the candy. It was like trick or treating on Halloween without even having to leave your house. We always came home with the biggest stash of sweets, of little conversation hearts and heart shaped lollipops. Sometimes one of the moms in the class would go all out and give us something great like heart shaped chocolate covered marshmallows.

Even more important than the candy though, were the cards. After school my friends and I used to sort through the cards looking for ones from the boys we liked. Then we’d try and suss out what they meant. For example, one year when the boy I had a crush on gave me a card with Aladdin and Jasmine on it that said ‘You’ve set my heart soaring Valentine!’ we figured he had clearly picked out that card specifically for me and that we would be married the next day in class and live happily ever after in our Barbie mansion.

After the end of that year, and the realization that I was still not living in a Barbie mansion, Valentine’s Days started to suck pretty hard. Middle school, high school, no one wants to deal with trying to find a Valentine when their mouth is full of wires and their hair seems to stick out in all directions no matter what they do to it.

Even though I do enjoy it now, I still don’t know what the point of Valentine’s Day is. If you’re in a relationship you should be able to surprise the other all the time to show him or her you love them and if you’re not in a relationship it’s a silly reminder of when you were sitting at home in your Little Mermaid nightie looking up at a poster of Heath Ledger wondering when he would come sing a romantic song for you at your high school and then take you paintballing.

I’m not trying to diss Valentine’s Day; I know Ciaran and I will have an amazing time, especially now that I’ve left all the planning to him. But it will also continue to be a reminder of the day that I wasn’t invited to get married and go live in a Barbie mansion when I was 7. And that is a crushed dream that is very hard to live with.

Luckily, this outrageous brownie pudding is just the thing to soften my pain.

Brownie pudding
Serves 6

225g unsalted butter, plus little extra for buttering the dish
4 extra large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup good cocoa powder
1/2 cup all purpose flour
Seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean

Vanilla ice cream to serve with

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees. Lightly butter a 2 quart (9 x 12) by 2 inch oval baking dish. Melt the butter and set aside to cool.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs and sugar on medium high speed for 5 to 10 minutes, until very thick and light yellow. Meanwhile, sift the cocoa powder and flour together and set aside.

When the egg and sugar mixture is ready, lower the speed to low and add the vanilla seeds, and cocoa powder and flour mixture. Mix only until combined. With the mixer still on low, slowly pour in the cooled butter and mix again just until combined.

Pour the brownie mixture into the prepared dish and place it in a larger baking pan. Add enough of the hottest tap water to the pan to come halfway up the side of the dish and bake for exactly 1 hour. A cake tester inserted 2 inches from the side will come out three quarters clean. The center will appear very under-baked, this dessert is between a brownie and a pudding.

Allow to cool a little and serve with vanilla ice cream.

Enjoy,

Allie

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Double-chocolate lamingtons

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Happy belated Australia day!!!! It was really great to be able to celebrate Australia Day in Australia once again. Last year I was melting in the sun at Big Day Out and unfortunately didn’t really get up to very much ‘Aussie Aussie Aussie Oi Oi Oi’ chanting. So this year I made sure to have a few Aussie beers, listen to Triple J’s Hottest 100 and of course buy a pack of the mandatory Australian flag temporary tattoos to plaster on my arms. Unfortunately I did have to work last night, which got in the way of my drinking celebrations, but only for a few hours. And since I work in hospitality we were open on Australia Day but we have Monday, the public holiday, off and I’ve planned to continue the celebrations then.

When there’s celebrations, there must always be cake, as Kahina mentioned just yesterday. So I decided to make lamingtons, something I believe to be classically Australian. Many people are unsure of Australia’s cuisine. Maybe unsure is the wrong word, but many people seem to lament the lack of purely Australian dishes. I always associated meat pies with Australia but turns out Britain seems to have claim to them. Pavlova is supposedly Australian but if there’s a Kiwi in the room when you mention it there might be a bit of a scuffle. I don’t think it matters if you have a dish that’s pure ‘Strayan. The main thing I love about Australian cuisine is just how diverse it is. We have dishes with Malaysian influences, Irish, British, Greek, Italian, you name it. Salt and pepper squid is found all over Australia, in Thai restaurants, Italian cafes, Belgian restaurants. They all do it differently and that’s what makes it great. Some might even say that these double-chocolate lamingtons aren’t pure Australian because of the extra cocoa added to make the sponge chocolatey. Some have even called it ‘sacrilegious.’ I think that’s going a little far seeing as the essence is still the same and it’s just giving it another influence, another twist. Australian cuisine is unique in the influences that have come from all over the world. In last week’s Good Food David Chang of Momofuku pretty much summed it up, “If any country can get away from asking, “What’s our tradition?” and say, “Let’s just eat good food,” it’s definitely Australia.”

Enjoy,

Allie

Double-chocolate lamingtons
Recipe from Dan Lepard

Ingredients

300g castor sugar
50g cocoa
75ml milk
50g unsalted butter
50g dark chocolate
50ml sunflower oil
4 medium eggs
100ml low-fat natural yoghurt
3 tsp vanilla extract
175g plain flour
3 tsp baking powder

For the coating (makes 750ml)

15g cocoa
50ml cold milk
175ml boiling water
200g dark chocolate, finely chopped
450g icing sugar
1-2 250g bags coconut (that is, much more than you would think)

Method

1. Line the base of a deep, 20cm square cake tin with non-stick paper and heat the oven to 170C (150C fan-forced). Put the sugar and cocoa in a bowl and beat in the milk. Melt the butter and chocolate in a saucepan, and add to the sugar mix along with the oil. Beat in the eggs until smooth, stir in the yoghurt and vanilla, and mix in the flour and baking powder. Pour into the tin, cover with a slightly domed sheet of foil and bake for an hour. Lift off the foil for the last 15 minutes. Remove, cool in the tin and, while warm, cover with cling film to keep them moist.

2. For the coating, mix the cocoa and milk until smooth, whisk in the boiling water, then stir in the chocolate until melted. Whisk in the icing sugar until dissolved and pour into a deep, wide jug. Cut the cake into nine, dunk each piece in the coating and fish out with two forks. Roll in coconut and leave to set.

Note: Lepard advises putting foil over the cake because it helps the cake rise more evenly. You’ll have about 250 millilitres of coating left over – just the stuff, he says, for lamington milkshakes with ice-cream and coconut.

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Red velvet cheesecake brownies

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For my dad’s 50th birthday last year I made a giant red velvet cheesecake. It was amazing, delicious, huge and difficult. I promised Ciaran I would make him one as well seeing as he missed out during the birthday celebrations. But still, that cake is so daunting and time-consuming that I still haven’t made good on my offer. I will still do it one day, I did promise. But for now, I figured some red velvet cheesecake brownies would tide him over. They’re done in under an hour and are super tasty. I brought them with me to a weeknight barbecue and the entire batch was gone by the end of the night, so I’d say they’re pretty popular.

Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies
From Baking Bites

1/2 cup butter
2-oz dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp red food coloring
2/3 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt

8-oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F/ 180C. Line an 8- or 9-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil and lightly grease.
In a small, heatproof bowl, melt butter and chocolate together. Stir with a fork until very smooth. Set aside to cool for a few minutes.
In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, eggs, vanilla extract and red food coloring. Add in the chocolate mixture and stir until smooth. Batter should be red. If a brighter red is desired, add an additional 1/2 tsp food coloring. Add flour and salt into the bowl and stir until everything is just combined and no streaks of dry ingredients remain.
Pour into prepared pan and spread into an even layer.
Prepare cheesecake mixture. In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar, egg and vanilla extract until smooth. Drop in dollops onto prepared brownie batter. Gently swirl two batters with a butter knife.
Bake for 35-40 minutes, until brownies and cheesecake are set. A knife inserted into the cheesecake mixture should come out clean and the edges will be lightly browned.
Cool in the pan completely before slicing and serving, either at room temperature or chilled.
Brownies can be refrigerated, covered, for several days.

Makes 16 large brownies or 24 smaller brownies

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Tie-Dye Cupcakes

The word “groovy” isn’t really heard that much anymore. I can’t really say it’s a shame, it sounds outdated no matter how you use it. That doesn’t mean people like Patrick Monahan from Train will stop using it. Despite the fact that they’ve been around since 1994 they’re still trucking on. Anyone remember “Calling all Angels” and “Drops of Jupiter”? Well, their new annoyingly addictive single “Drive By” is all about a groovy little guy trying to get his girl back by driving around in circles and dancing like a four-year old. I dare you to listen to this song and not dance. But if it still doesn’t get you in the groovy mood, these awesome little tie-die cupcakes might just do the trick.

Tie Dye Cupcakes:

Vanilla cake mix in a box and ingredients for that

4-5 colors of food coloring

Mix up the cake mix until it’s ready. Divide your cake batter into four or five bowls. Add a couple drops of food coloring into each bowl of batter and mix. Add spoonfuls of each color to cupcake liners until the liner is ¾ full. Bake for 18-20 minutes according to the directions on the box of cake.

For the frosting:
From http://sweetapolita.com/2012/03/super-duper-vanilla-or-funfetti-cupcakes/

375grams/13 ounces unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes

3.5 cups (400g/14oz) confectioners’ sugar, sifted

3 tablespoons (45mL) milk

1 tablespoon (15mL) pure vanilla extract

A pinch of salt

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip butter for about 8 minutes on medium speed until the butter becomes very pale and creamy.

Add remaining ingredients and mix on low speed for 1 minute then on medium speed for 6 minutes. Frosting will be very light, creamy and fluffy. It takes a little while but it’s sooo worth it!

 

Enjoy,

A

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Pecan Pie

Short crust pastry and puff pastry are not the same thing. Though they do look awfully similar when they’re frozen.

People who have grown up down under probably know that. I should probably know that too, but that doesn’t mean I do.

They should have easy Americanized definitions on the label, like short-crust = sweet, puff = savoury. I suppose the picture of sausage rolls on the front should have been a clue, but my brain was in a different place.

Despite pastry problems in the kitchen the pie turned out to be pretty tasty. Pecan pie isn’t seen that often in Australia, but it’s not too difficult to make and it’s super sweet and delicious.

As a side note, the egg in this recipe will cause the pie to rise pretty high while cooking, don’t worry, it won’t explode. We already did enough panicking for you.

Giant, almost-exploding pie.

Ingredients:

Frozen SHORT-CRUST PASTRY (caps make everything seem more important.)

5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
2 cups chopped toasted pecans
1 to 2 tablespoons bourbon
2 teaspoons pure vanillaextract
3 eggs, lightly beaten

Once the dough has defrosted a bit, lay it into a 9-inch pie pan and trim the edges, leaving about an extra inch hanging over the edge. Tuck the overhanging dough underneath itself to form a thick edge that is even with the rim. Flute the edge as desired.

Set separate racks in the center and lower third of oven and preheat to 200 degrees C. Put a piece of parchment paper or foil over the pie shell and fill with dried beans or pie weights. We didn’t have either so we used old uncooked ramen, it works as well. Bake on a baking sheet on the center rack until the dough is set, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and lift sides of the parchment paper to remove the beans.

While the crust is baking make the filling: In medium saucepan, combine the butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat, and stirring constantly, continue to boil for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the nuts, bourbon, and the vanilla. Set the mixture aside to cool slightly, about 5 minutes. (If the crust has cooled, return it to the oven for 5 minutes to warm through.) Whisk the beaten eggs into the filling until smooth. Put the pie shell on a baking pan and pour the filling into the hot crust.

Bake on the lower oven rack until the edges are set but the center is still slightly loose, about 35 to 40 minutes. (If the edges get very dark, cover them with aluminum foil half way during baking.) Cool on a rack. Serve slightly warm or room temperature with a dollop of cream on top.

Enjoy,

A

 

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Anzac Biscuits

Happy Anzac Day!

In the tradition of the holiday, we decided to make the most traditional dish we could think of. And happily for us we discovered it is the ultimate cheap-o student dessert.

Wives of the soldiers used to send the biscuits over since they don’t spoil easily and they transport well.

So if you make enough biscuits you can keep them for ages. Breakfast, lunch, snacks, dinner, dessert…you can eat them whenever. There aren’t any eggs in them either so you can just keep them in some tupperware and they’ll keep for a while.

We used a Donna Hay recipe which turned out really sweet and chewy. We ended up with almost sixty, enough for Anzac day dessert for us and our friends, plus more to take along for the next few days.

Time for Anzac day teatime, ie a cold beer and a biscuit.

Anzac Biscuits:
Makes 28

Ingredients:
1 cup (90g) rolled oats
1 cup (150g) plain flour
1/3 cups (150g) caster sugar
3/4 cup (60g) desiccated coconut
2 tablespoons golden syrup
125g butter
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of (baking) soda
2 tablespoons hot water

Preheat oven to 160°C (320ºF). Mix the oats, flour, sugar and coconut in a bowl. Place the golden syrup and butter in a saucepan over low heat and melt. Mix the bicarbonate of soda with the water and add to the butter mixture. Add to the dry ingredients and mix well. Place tablespoons of the mixture, leaving space between each one for spreading, onto baking trays lined with non-stick baking paper and flatten to about 7cm in diameter. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until a deep brown. Cool on trays for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Enjoy!

A & K

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Red Velvet

When I think of velvet I think of fancy fat kings sitting on thrones in giant castles in England. They’re usually wearing capes or manly dresses (as manly as fancy men in the 18th century were). These garments are made of velvet, and the velvet is usually purple. Or dark green.

I don’t know why velvet conjures up that specific image in my head. It’s just what happens.

But I don’t think red.

And usually I don’t think baked goods.

So that chef in that fancy hotel that came up with red velvet cake was apparently on a whole other wavelength.

But luckily for him, he was a genius.

The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook is both of our go-to when we’re in the mood for these devilish, discolored delights. That is, in cupcake form.

But when one little cupcake just isn’t enough, and you need a whopper of red velvety joy you can use this recipe. It’s super moist and super tasty.

Enjoy!

-A

Red Velvet Cake
From Let Them Eat Cake and Ice Cream

Who adapted it from Bakerella

Ingredients:

For the cake:

2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 ½ cups vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
60 ml red liquid food colouring
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon cocoa

For the frosting:

500g cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups confectioners’ sugar

Preheat the oven to 175C fan-forced. Spray two cake pans with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl, gently whisk together eggs, buttermilk, oil, vinegar, vanilla and food colouring until combined.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, baking powder and cocoa until combined. Add wet ingredients and mix on medium speed for one minute. Pour batter into prepared pans, and thump on the counter a couple of times to release air pockets.

Bake for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.

Make the frosting:

Sift sugar and set aside.

Beat the cream cheese and butter on high until creamy. Add vanilla.

Add the sugar in batches. Scrape down the sides in between each addition.

Frost away.

By the way, Happy birthday Kahina!

And for the cupcakes:

Hummingbird Bakery Red Velvet Cupcakes:

Ingredients:

60g unsalted butter, room temperature
150g caster sugar
1 egg
10g cocoa powder
20ml red food colouring
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
120ml buttermilk
150g plain flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (or baking soda)
1 ½ teaspoon white wine vinegar

300g icing sugar, sifted
50g unsalted butter, room temperature
125g cream cheese, cold

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 170C.

Put the butter and the sugar in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy and well mixed. Turn the mixer up to high speed, slowly add the egg and beat until everything is well incorporated.

In a separate bowl, mix together the cocoa powder, red food colouring and vanilla extract to make a thick, dark paste. Add to the butter mixture and mix thoroughly until evenly combined and coloured (scrape any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula). Turn the mixer down to slow speed and slowly pour in half the buttermilk. Beat until well mixed, then add half the flour, and beat until everything is well incorporated. Repeat this process until all the buttermilk and flour have been added. Scrape down the side of the bowl again. Turn the mixer up to high speed and beat until you have a smooth, even mixture. Turn the mixer down to low speed and add the salt, bicarbonate of soda and vinegar. Beat until well mixed, then turn up the speed again and beat for a couple more minutes.

Spoon the mixture into the paper cases until two-thirds full and bake in the preheated oven for 20–25 mins, or until the sponge bounces back when touched. A skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean. Leave the cupcakes to cool slightly in the tray before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

Meanwhile for the cream cheese frosting: Beat the icing sugar and butter together in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) on medium-slow speed until the mixture comes together and is well mixed. Add the cream cheese in one go and beat until it is completely incorporated. Turn the mixer up to medium-high speed. Continue beating until the frosting is light and fluffy, at least 5 mins. Do not overbeat, as it can quickly become runny.

When the cupcakes are cold, spoon over the cream cheese frosting on top.

 

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