Showing posts with label Biscuits and Cookies. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Biscuits and Cookies. Show all posts

Monday, March 30, 2015

Cookies & Cream Cheesecake Stuffed Cookies

cheesecake stuffed cookies

Just a quick post from me today, sneaking in with an Easter inspired recipe before it's too late. This is the time of year for OTT chocolate creations, speckled eggs and hot cross buns doughnuts, all of which I have in the archives. So this year I decided to keep it a little more simple - but no less decadent! This recipe is perfect for beginner bakers or to make with the kidlets because it doesn't require any special equipment and comes together really quickly and easily.

cheesecake stuffed cookies

These cookies are inspired by and based on these ones, which I've made so many times since the original post that I've almost memorised the recipe. My friends request them all the time. They are truly a crowd pleaser, filled with everyone's favourites - nutella and salted caramel. This time I decided to mix it up and try a creamy cheesecake filling baked right into the cookie. 

cheesecake stuffed cookies

I flavoured mine with smashed Oreos for a double whammy 'cookies and cream' stuffed cookie, but you could use whatever flavour strikes your fancy. Anything that goes well with chocolate will work here - passionfruit, coconut, peanut butter, or even your favourite chocolate bar smashed up will make great fillings for your cookie too!

cheesecake stuffed cookies

Monday, December 22, 2014

Italian Crostoli + Nescafé Dolce Gusto Circolo


Although I’m a pretty fussy coffee drinker, I never had any interest in buying an espresso machine, for the extra time it would take to grind coffee beans and clean the machine afterwards. First thing in the morning, I want my coffee immediately! But when I saw the sleek and shiny red NESCAFÉ® Dolce Gusto® Circolo capsule machine, I thought it could be a great alternative. I actually did not know that this machine was the first capsule system in Australia that could be use to make both hot and cold beverages, and so I agreed to give it a try. It looks great on my kitchen bench - now just need my dream shiny red Kitchenaid to match! ;)


The range consists of 6 models, ranging in size and priced from $99 to $229, but I have seen several great specials recently which see them selling for even less. I found the machine really simple to set up and use, with the touch of a button, you are ready to brew a cup of coffee in a matter of seconds. You can adjust the strength of your coffee however you like, although each pod has the recommended level on the packaging. There are 15 flavours to choose from including hot chocolate, chai tea latte, mocha, and even peach iced tea, retailing for $8.49 for a box of sixteen and available from the online store or most supermarkets.


I made a Cappuccino for my housemate, and because I love my coffee black, I tried the Espresso Ristretto. I really liked the rich and strong flavour of the espresso, tasting like any freshly brewed coffee that you would buy with a nice crema, for a fraction of the price (just over 50c per cup) and always consistent. K said the cappuccino had a slight caramel taste. And as a bonus, clean up couldn’t be simpler! I was also pleased to see that they have a capsule recycling program on their website, to ease the environmental impact of the excess packaging of all those empty coffee pods.


Of course I couldn’t help but make a little snack to go with my afternoon coffee, one of my favourite things - crostoli. It was always a treat to buy these crispy fried biscuits with a dense sprinkling of icing sugar from the Italian bakery. They are often seen at Italian celebrations such as Easter and Christmas, and I think I might have to start this tradition in my family too!

The biscuit pastry came together easily, I mixed and kneaded it by hand but you could also make it in a food processor. The only way these could be even cuter is to use a fluted pastry wheel for that lovely decorative edge. My only advice is to keep a close eye on the oil temperature and not attempt to cook too many at once because they cook very quickly and it can't be hard to keep an eye on them so they don't overcook. They are just perfect with a coffee!


These opinions are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Nestlé

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Chocolate Spice Gingerbread + 10 Homemade Christmas Gift Ideas

chocolate spice gingerbread

It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas, that's for sure. For the last few years, one of the things I've enjoyed most about the Christmas season is baking. And in particular making homemade treats as gifts for friends, family and work colleagues.

Something thoughtful that is made with love. Something with Christmassy flavours, that inspires a little bit of nostalgia. Wrapped up with ribbon or twine and a handwritten note. I think it's a really special thing to do for the special people in your life, and I hope to continue the tradition for years to come.

chocolate spice gingerbread

This year, I wanted to put a new spin on one of my favourite recipes and this Chocolate Spice Gingerbread was born. Adapted from one of the first ever Christmas recipes I posted on this blog, it's been my go-to Christmas cookie recipe for years now, producing a soft and slightly chewy gingerbread. This time I added some cocoa, cloves and black pepper for a headily spiced gingerbread that made the house smell delicious as it was baking.

I kept it simple with traditional gingerbread men and snowflake shapes. I wasn't all that confident with my icing technique - some of the cookies looked like they were decorated by an un-coordinated six year old - but they tasted fantastic and were a big hit with the family.

chocolate spice gingerbread

I hope that inspires you to try making some homemade edible Christmas gifts for your friends and family this year. Here are 10 delicious ideas from some of my favourite blogs, I hope you'll give some of them a try!

For more Christmas recipe ideas, click here

chocolate spice gingerbread

Monday, August 26, 2013

Rosemary, Chocolate Chip & Sea Salt Cookies

rosemary, choc chip & sea salt cookies

Oh boy, I can't tell you how nice it feels to bake something again! After 3 weeks of travelling and then a much needed 2 week detox, my oven - and this poor, poor blog - were both feeling a little neglected. So, I decided to bake up a batch of my favourite chocolate chip cookies, with a little twist.

There are a heck of a lot of Big Life Decisions that I'm weighing up at the moment and all of the requisite stress, self-doubt and indecision that goes along with them has been less than fun. But I love that even after so many years of baking and blogging, all it takes is creaming some butter and sugar for instant therapy. And dancing around the kitchen to some highly questionable 90's tracks doesn't hurt either...

rosemary, choc chip & sea salt cookies

The recipe is from the New York Times, and these cookies first made an appearance on the blog back in 2008. I've made them a few times since then, but had never even thought to tinker with the recipe before now. But then the thought crossed my mind to use the rosemary-infused sugar that I had made about six weeks ago. Dark chocolate, rosemary, sea salt? Oh, yes please.

rosemary, choc chip & sea salt cookies

They really are the perfect cookie. Crunchy yet chewy, generously studded with dark chocolate chips. The rosemary flavour comes from the infused sugar, and also some finely chopped rosemary added to the dough itself. It adds an intriguing quality, subtly herbaceous that works really well with the chocolate and sea salt. I think lavender, vanilla or even chilli could also work really well here too!

Just another quick note, the original New York Times recipe says to refrigerate the cookie dough for between 24 and 36 hours prior to baking it to allow the flavours to develop. This time I only chilled it for about 4 hours and was still very very pleased with the end result.

rosemary, choc chip & sea salt cookies

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Passionfruit S'mores + 13 Ways with Passionfruit

passionfruit s'mores

13 Ways with... Passionfruit

It has been quite a while but I thought it was about time that I bought this monthly column back, because I always loved putting it together. Choosing one ingredient and finding so many different ways to use it was really inspiring and I have discovered so many great new blogs in the process! So I'm back this month with Passionfruit, which are in season here at the moment. I scored 7 for $2 at the market, what a bargain!

I've got a great recipe for you today plus a bunch of other fantastic ones too, so keep reading! I hope this inspires you to make at least one of these awesome looking desserts.

Drink it...

13 Ways with Passionfruit

Picture Credits: My Kitchen Antics & Donna Hay

1. I love the sound of this totally unique Passionfruit Mojito with an Indian Twist from My Kitchen Antics. I mean passionfruit with salt and green chilli, heaps of lime and mint sounds like such an interesting combination in a drink! Also scroll down in this post to find another delicious sounding Passionfruit Iced Tea.

2. This pretty and refreshing Passionfruit Cordial comes courtesy of Donna Hay. Actually I remember this recipe in one of the very first issues that I ever bought! If it was me though, I’d add a smidgen of vodka or rum to turn this into a delicious and summery cocktail. Yum!

Chill it...

13 Ways with Passionfruit
Picture Credits: Un Dejeuner de Soleil & Gourmet Traveller

3. Nutella is one of my favourite things on the planet, which is why I am drawn to this Creamy Chocolate Spread with Passionfruit from Un Dejeuner Se Soleil. Doesn't it look incredible! I think it would be delicious slathered over a warm baguette. Note, the recipe is in French.

4. This Passionfruit Coconut Creme Caramels with Lychee Granita from Gourmet Traveller magazine sounds deliciously tropical, and would be perfect for a casual summer dinner party. I love the idea of Passionfruit together with lychee too - yum!

13 Ways with Passionfruit
Picture Credits: Inspiring the Everyday & Gizzi Erskine

5. Passionfruit and coconut are beautiful in desserts together, and this Coconut Mousse with Passionfruit and Cherries from Inspiring the Everyday looks so delicious, especially with the addition of Rainier cherries too. Perfect for right now.

6. I've been loving Eton Mess this summer, and it seems Sydney does too as it's been popping up on quite a few restaurants' dessert menus this year. It's such a simple but delicious dessert that usually involves berries, but I love the sound of this Eton Mess with Passionfruit, Lemon Curd & Raspberries from Gizzi Erskine. It's definitely going on my list of things to make!

13 Ways with Passionfruit
Picture Credits: Raspberri Cupcakes & Citrus and Candy

7. This incredible Passionfruit & Lemon Trifle with Macarons is a 7 layer beauty by my gorgeous friend Steph from Raspberri Cupcakes. Passion Pop mousse, lemon cake, lemon and passionfruit curd, Passiona jelly, passionfruit and chocolate macarons, whipped cream with fresh passionfruit and mini meringues on top - um YES! What an absolutely stunning dessert.

8. Another fabulous recipe from one of my good friends, this Baked Alaska with French Earl Grey Icecream and Passionfruit from Citrus and Candy is right up my alley. I've made the ice cream before and loved it, so I can only imagine how good it would be in this beautiful Baked Alaska.

Bake it...

13 Ways with Passionfruit
Picture Credits: Spicy Icecream & Athena Plichta

9. These Passionfruit Cheesecake Brownies from my archives is actually one of my all-time favourite recipes. The fudgy brownie is the perfect match to the creamy cheesecake and sweet tang of the Passionfruit. I hope you'll give this very easy recipe a try soon!

10. This Lemon Cake with Passionfruit Syrup from Athena Plichta sounds incredible, but I also love the photos on this beautiful blog!

13 Ways with Passionfruit
Picture Credits: Spicy Icecream & Some Cappuccino with Cake

11. This Passionfruit Vanilla Slice is one of my Mum's favourites and something that she regularly requests me to make. With passionfruit in the custard and the the glaze, this is a lovely dessert. I remember how all the Passionfruit made my kitchen smell incredible for hours.

12. My favourite macaron flavour on the planet is Passionfruit and Milk Chocolate, and these specimens from Some Cappuccino with Cake look beautiful. I'm still not a very confident macaron baker, but one day I'll give this flavour a try! If you aren't yet converted to the Passionfruit/Chocolate combination, you've got to try this macaron flavour!

passionfruit s'mores

13. And today's recipe is one I'm quite thrilled to share today. The idea for Passionfruit S'mores has been floating around in my head for a while, and I was so pleased with how it turned out. Using homemade Graham crackers and homemade Passionfruit marshmallows, plus squares of Lindt Dark Chocolate with sea salt, I can now understand why S'mores are so popular! Gooey, sticky, messy and delicious.

I say this every time, but making marshmallows from scratch is not as tricky as you might think and the result is totally worth it. I'll never buy store bought marshmallows ever again! I absolutely loved the addition of passionfruit in them!

passionfruit s'mores

Friday, August 24, 2012

Brownie Cookies with Maple Bourbon Buttercream

I had my first day off in months the other day and was excited to get into the kitchen and bake something, while still in my PJ's, in the middle of the day on a Wednesday. But when it came to deciding actually what to make, I hit a wall. The fridge was a little bare, the fruit bowl even more so, and nothing on my very long list of baking ideas was standing out to me.

But then I remembered these cookies from Donna Hay magazine a couple of months ago and was instantly inspired. The brownie cookies themselves are super easy to make, as long as you follow the recipe and allow it to rest after mixing it all together. These cookies also spread in the oven so be careful not to place them too close together on the baking tray. They take next to no time to bake, so keep an eye on them or you'll end up with crunchy cookies rather than rich and chewy ones, trust me I know! One unfortunate batch ended up on the crispy side when I wasn't looking.

Of course, I can never stick 100% to a recipe so I changed up the filling from peanut butter frosting to a delicious maple and bourbon buttercream, made with salted butter. Although anything that goes with chocolate would work well here - caramel, coffee, raspberries, coconut, honeycomb, more chocolate - use your imagination! But next time I think I'll skip the icing entirely and put a big scoop of homemade ice cream in the middle.

Have a great weekend!


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Key Lime Pie with Homemade Graham Cracker Crust

key lime pie with homemade graham crackers
I’ve had a long-standing fascination with Key Lime Pie, since the very first time I saw it in a recipe magazine when I was young. But I had never tried it, let alone baked it until now! I always thought of it as the cousin of the Lemon Meringue Pie, which was one of my childhood favourite desserts.

The recipe originated in Florida during the 19th century, where you can find key limes, which smaller and a little more tart than regular limes. Floridians are serious about their famous dish, in 1965 even calling for a fine to be put into place for anyone advertising Key Lime Pie that was not made with key limes! Unfortunately key limes (or even bottled key lime juice) are almost impossible to find here in Australia, so I had to use regular limes. Just don’t tell anyone!

key lime pie with homemade graham crackers
Surprisingly, I learned that the recipe has hardly changed since its invention. Before refrigeration, condensed milk in cans could be stored much more easily than fresh cream or milk. And with limes in abundance, it’s likely that fishermen combined the condensed milk and eggs from their supplies to create what then became one of America’s most famous desserts.

I used homemade Graham crackers, which were then pulverised into crumbs for my crust, and the recipe from Pepe’s Café in Key West (via Bon Appetit) for the filling. The addition of whipped egg whites gave the pie a lighter texture, in fact it was almost like cheesecake. But boy was it sweet. Next time I’d add a little finely grated lime zest to the filling along with the juice for a little more tang. I topped my pie with a dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream and a handful of Coconut Chips, my new favourite snack.

So tell me, what is your favourite American dessert?

key lime pie with homemade graham crackers

Monday, March 12, 2012

Sour Cherry and Cocoa Nib Biscotti

Sour Cherry and Cocoa Nib Biscotti

As I mentioned in my previous post, the work/life balance has been eluding me a little of late – too much work, not enough life! What do you do when you’re feeling a little mentally fried? I try to surround myself by my favourite things. I bought myself a big bunch of daisies to brighten up my room, I enjoyed a fabulous dinner with the girls on Friday, bought a rather fabulous red dress and spent Sunday afternoon baking.

I wasn’t in the mood for something fussy or overly complicated. When I saw the little tub of sour cherries I had bought a while back sitting on the shelf, inspiration struck. It had been a long, long time since I had made biscotti (in fact it was one of the very first posts on this blog all those years ago) but it felt right to update the recipe with a few standout flavours.

Sour Cherry and Cocoa Nib Biscotti

This time around I stuck with the almonds (you can’t go wrong!) but added the sour cherries, some cocoa nibs and just a touch of coffee liqueur. When they were baked, I dipped the biscotti into some dark chocolate which set off those flavours perfectly. Of course you could get really creative with add ins, using almost any kind of nuts or dried fruit depending on your tastes.

Evidently, I wasn’t the only fan of these biscotti - the huge batch barely lasted a few days in our house! They made the perfect accompaniment to a cup of tea or coffee, and it was hard to stop at just one. It definitely won't be long before I make another batch.

Have a great week folks!

Sour Cherry and Cocoa Nib Biscotti

Sour Cherry and Cocoa Nib Biscotti
Adapted from Donna Hay
Makes about 40 biscuits

• 2 cups plain flour
• 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
• ¾ cup sugar
• ¾ cup almonds
• ¼ cup sour cherries*
• 2 tablespoons cocoa nibs*
• 3 eggs
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1 tablespoon Kahlua or other coffee liqueur
• 120g dark chocolate, melted, for dipping

Preheat oven to 160°C (320°F).

Sift the flour and baking powder together in a bowl. Add sugar, almonds, cherries and cocoa nibs and stir together. Add the eggs, vanilla, and liqueur and mix well to form a dough. Divide the dough in two. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead each piece until smooth. Shape into logs and flatten slightly.

Place the logs on a baking tray lined with baking paper and bake for 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow them to cool completely. If not completely cool, it will be crumbly when you slice it. Cut the logs into 5mm thick slices with a serrated knife and place on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Bake for 10-15 minutes until the biscotti are crisp. Cool completely.

When biscuits are cooled, dip each about 1/3 into the melted chocolate, drain off the excess and place on a baking paper lined tray until set. If the weather is warm, you may need to refrigerate them briefly. Store in an airtight container and serve with espresso or liqueur.

*You can find sour cherries and cocoa nibs at gourmet stores like Essential Ingredient or the David Jones Food Hall

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Strawberry Shortcake Macarons

strawberry shortcake macarons

I was going to wait until next week to post these, but I just couldn’t. I’m pretty excited about these little babies! I had the idea to turn the beloved summer dessert Strawberry Shortcake into a macaron quite some time ago, but I was too scared of baking those temperamental little biscuits to try it until now! Perfect macarons are akin to the Holy Grail for an amateur baker, and let me tell you, it took quite a few attempts before I managed to get them right.

strawberry shortcake macarons

Thank goodness for Steph, who not only gave me a great demonstration but also a good dose of moral support and inspiration while brainstorming possible macaron flavour combinations. While my technique is still not quite perfect (I seem to have a habit of under mixing them slightly) I think they’re definitely passable! And even though I’ve made a few successful batches in the last few months, I still do a happy dance in front of the oven when I see that they have feet! Huzzah!

strawberry shortcake macarons

I made these last weekend while I was in Perth, where we have established a little garden that the boy does a smashing job of looking after while I’m not there. The cherry tomatoes and capsicum are going great guns, and you know what happened to the mint. The strawberries have just started to ripen (although unfortunately there were not enough yet to use homegrown in this recipe, maybe next trip!) but they looked so pretty I just had to photograph them.

I was really happy with how they turned out and they were certainly popular with all of the taste testers! I think they would be rather lovely at a high tea or a garden party, don’t you?

strawberry shortcake macarons

Strawberry Shortcake Macarons
Makes about 15 sandwiched macarons
Adapted from Raspberri Cupcakes

• 110g almond meal, dried in a cool oven for 5 minutes and sifted
• 200g icing sugar
• 100g aged eggwhites
• 50g caster sugar
• 1 teaspoon powdered egg whites, optional (available from Essential Ingredient)

For the filling
• Lightly sweetened whipped cream
• Fresh strawberries, hulled and chopped into 1cm cubes

To make the macaron shells, line two baking sheets with baking paper. Place icing sugar in a food processor and pulse to remove any lumps. Stir in almond meal and pulse to combine. Place in a large mixing bowl and set aside. Using an electric mixer, beat eggwhites and egg white powder in a medium bowl until the powder dissolves and it reaches soft peaks. With the mixer on high speed, gradually add sugar and beat until it reaches stiff peaks.

Add meringue to the dry mixture and mix, quickly at first to break down the bubbles in the egg white. You can be quite rough at this point, and then mix carefully as the dry mixture becomes incorporated and it starts to become shiny again. Take care not to overmix, the mixture should flow like lava and a streak of the mixture spread across the surface should disappear after about 30 seconds. Place in a piping bag and pipe rounds 3cm diameter on prepared baking sheets.

Tap against the bench to remove any air bubbles and leave to dry for about half an hour, so that when you press the surface of one gently, it doesn’t break. Preheat the oven to 140-150°C (285-300°F) and bake for 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of your shells. Remove from the oven and cool on the tray for a few minutes. Gently remove from the tray and place on a wire rack to cool completely.

Spoon or pipe whipped cream onto macaron shells, adding ½ teaspoon of chopped strawberries and then sandwich with another shell. Refrigerate overnight in an airtight container to allow the flavours to mature. Serve at room temperature.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Pear and Elderflower Macarons

pear & elderflower macarons

I’ve been feeling very romantic about spring lately, now that it’s just around the corner. I went for a walk yesterday and caught the gorgeous smell of jasmine in the air. I thought it was the perfect time to use the bottle of elderflower cordial I picked up recently. With its subtle floral flavour, it’s just lovely at this time of year, but I was undecided as to what to make with it.

With the helpful suggestions of my Facebook and Twitter friends, I was inspired to make these macarons with a poached pear and elderflower buttercream filling. Macarons still make me a bit nervous, but after spending an afternoon with my gorgeous friends Steph and Karen baking up a batch, I felt confident enough to tackle them again.

pear & elderflower macarons

While my technique still needs a lot more practice, Steph's recipe is brilliant. My shells turned out a little more crunchy and browned than I would have liked because I’m still getting used to using my new oven, but I did manage to get pretty little feet (!!) on my macarons, and I absolutely loved the flavour combination. The elderflower is a lovely touch, and is beautiful with the pears. I can’t wait to try out some other flavours – and after all, practice makes perfect!

pear & elderflower macarons

Pear and Elderflower Macarons
Makes about 15 sandwiched macarons
Adapted from Raspberri Cupcakes

• 110g almond meal, dried in a cool oven for 5 minutes and sifted
• 200g icing sugar
• 100g aged eggwhites
• 50g caster sugar
• 1 teaspoon powdered egg whites (available from Essential Ingredient)

Elderflower Poached Pears
• 1 pear, peeled, cored and cut into 0.5cm cubes
• 1 cup water
• 4 tablespoons elderflower cordial

Elderflower Buttercream
• 1 egg white
• ¼ cup caster sugar
• 90g unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 3cm cubes

To make the macaron shells, line two baking sheets with baking paper. Place icing sugar in a food processor and pulse to remove any lumps. Stir in almond meal and pulse to combine. Place in a large mixing bowl and set aside. Using an electric mixer, beat eggwhites and egg white powder in a medium bowl until the powder dissolves and it reaches soft peaks. With the mixer on high speed, gradually add sugar and beat until it reaches stiff peaks.

Add meringue to the dry mixture and mix, quickly at first to break down the bubbles in the egg white. You can be quite rough at this point, and then mix carefully as the dry mixture becomes incorporated and it starts to become shiny again. Take care not to overmix, the mixture should flow like lava and a streak of the mixture spread across the surface should disappear after about 30 seconds. Place in a piping bag and pipe rounds 3cm diameter on prepared baking sheets.

Tap against the bench to remove any air bubbles and leave to dry for about half an hour, so that when you press the surface of one gently, it doesn’t break. Preheat the oven to 140-150°C (285-300°F) and bake for 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of your shells. Remove from the oven and cool on the tray for a few minutes. Gently remove from the tray and place on a wire rack to cool completely.

In the meantime, prepare the poached pears. Place pears into a small saucepan with water and elderflower cordial and simmer on medium heat until pears are tender and liquid is syrupy. Strain, and reserve liquid. Allow pears to cool to room temperature.

To prepare the buttercream, place caster sugar and egg white into a heatproof bowl. Whisk to combine and clip a candy thermometer to the side of the bowl. Set bowl over a pan of simmering water and whisk until mixture reaches 70°C (160°F) and sugar has dissolved, about 5 minutes. Place egg white mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on high speed until cooled and thick, about 5 minutes. Reduce speed to medium and add butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until incorporated after each addition. If mixture is runny at this point, refrigerate for 10 minutes and then continue beating until it starts to hold its shape. Don’t panic if it looks curdled, just keep mixing and it will come together. Mix in the reserved poaching liquid gradually and beat to combine. Add more elderflower cordial to taste if the flavour is too subtle.

Spoon or pipe buttercream onto macaron shells, adding ½ teaspoon of pears and then sandwich with another shell. Refrigerate overnight in an airtight container to allow the flavours to mature. Serve at room temperature.

Thanks to my cousin Roslyn for noticing I'd left the elderflower cordial out of the ingredients list. Oops!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookie Skillet

choc chip cookie skillet

I think I work in the best part of Sydney – The Rocks. Even after two years, I still feel incredibly lucky to step off the train every morning after an hour’s trip from southwest Sydney into the most beautiful part of the city. I am fascinated by the history and the well-preserved architecture, the twisty-turny laneways and the stories that would be told, if the sandstone could talk. Even though I’ve walked past it easily over a hundred times, it wasn’t until recently that I visited Hart’s Pub, sitting at the top of the hill on the corner of Essex and Gloucester Streets.

And boy oh boy, have I been missing out! Owned by the same folk behind Rocks Brewing Company, the pub is exactly the right mix of friendly heritage vibe and incredibly good food and booze, specialising in Australian craft beers. I especially like the idea of a “tasting paddle”, where you can try four different beers. Perfect if you can’t decide what you fancy! My favourites were the Rocks Brewing Co 1809 Pale Ale, and an absolutely knockout, yet deceptively alcoholic cider.

But what I really want to talk about today is chocolate chip cookie skillets. This incredible dessert was served to us with a scoop of ice cream and a Rocks Brewing Co Cribbs Porter. Now, I’m only just getting my head around food and wine matching, but food and beer matching is a whole different story altogether, especially when dessert is involved. And wow, this was the kind of dessert I couldn’t stop thinking about for weeks. When the cookie dough was cooked in a cast-iron skillet, the edges became crisp like a brownie, while the inside remained almost cake like. Of course, served warm, the chocolate chips were melty and delicious, and I think this is one of the best sharing desserts you could possibly ever have.

cookie dough!
Sexy cookie dough

I decided to have a go at replicating it at home, using my favourite cookie recipe, which I’ve blogged before from the New York Times. The recipe itself is a surefire winner, containing literally half a kilogram of chocolate chips. However I’ve halved it in the recipe below, because I had enough dough for a skillet and 20-odd cookies, however no one complained. Except Denea, because she missed out. I would also slightly under-fill the skillet next time, because I ended up with a bit of overflow when the cookie rose. I didn’t leave the dough for 36 hours as the original recipe said to. Mine was in the fridge overnight, about 12 hours and it was just fine. If you’re in Sydney, Hart’s Pub should go on your list of awesome eats. Just make sure you save room for dessert.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Skillet
Inspired by Harts Pub. Adapted from the New York Times
Serves 2

• 240g plain flour
• 2/3 teaspoon baking soda
• ¾ teaspoon baking powder
• ¾ teaspoon coarse salt
• 140g unsalted butter, softened
• 2/3 cup brown sugar
• 112g granulated sugar
• 1 large egg
• 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
• 250g bittersweet chocolate chips
• Sea salt, to sprinkle

Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Whisk well, then set aside. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars until very light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Reduce the mixer speed to low, then add dry ingredients and mix until just combined. This can be messy, so hold a clean dish towel over the top of the bowl. Add the chocolate chips and mix briefly to incorporate.
Press plastic wrap against the dough and refrigerate overnight.

When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F). Remove the bowl of cookie dough from the refrigerator and allow it to soften slightly. Grease a 20cm (8-inch) cast iron skillet with non-stick cooking spray. Press the dough into the skillet with your fingers until about 1cm from the top. Any leftovers can be baked as cookies.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the top is golden brown but still slightly soft. Transfer skillet to a wire rack for 10-15 minutes, and serve, being careful that the handle will still be hot.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Ginger Beer Scones


I think it’s safe to say that I’m addicted to ginger beer. I practically drink my body weight in it on a weekly basis, and after water and coffee, it’s my beverage of choice, hands down. It’s a fabulous drink on its own – tangy and refreshing, especially on a hot day, but it’s also great as a mixer or in cocktails. However I’d never tried it in cooking, until now. I love scones, and for a while I’ve been thinking about making ginger beer scones, similar to lemonade scones but using ginger beer as the liquid component.

And you can’t have scones without jam! I decided it was time to face my fears and make my very first batch of jam, ever. I adapted a Strawberry and Ginger jam recipe from Gourmet Traveller and it was absolutely smashing, just as good if not better than any jam I’ve ever bought. I was really surprised at how easy it was to make. I’ve been slathering it on everything this week, and it’s nearly gone already. I see another batch of jam in the very near future.

What could be better than a homemade scone? I’d never tried making scones this way before, but I am pleased to say they worked perfectly! I think they could have had a little more of a gingery flavour, so next time I would add half a teaspoon of ground ginger to the mix. The key to making great scones is to be very gentle with your mixture, otherwise they’ll turn out flat and hard instead of beautifully risen and fluffy on the inside.

Don’t forget to enter my Good Food and Wine Show competition, for your chance to win one of two double passes to the show in Sydney! See here for more details. Entries close Monday, good luck!

Ginger Beer Scones with Strawberry & Ginger Jam
Makes about 12 scones

Strawberry & Ginger Jam
Adapted from Gourmet Traveller
• 350g strawberries, hulled and coarsely chopped
• 285g golden caster sugar
• Juice of 1 lemon
• 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, finely grated

Adapted from Delicious
• 300g self raising flour
• 55g caster sugar
• ½ teaspoon ground ginger
• ½ teaspoon salt
• 125ml thick cream
• 125ml Bundaberg ginger beer (room temperature)
• 40ml milk

To make the jam, combine strawberries, sugar, lemon juice and ginger in a saucepan over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves, then bring to the boil and stir frequently until reduced to a jam consistency (8-10 minutes). Refrigerate until chilled. Makes about 500ml.

To make the scones, preheat the oven to 220°C (430°F). Line a baking tray with non stick baking paper. Sift the flour, sugar, ground ginger and salt into a large bowl. Add the cream and ginger beer and mix to form a soft dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured workbench and knead lightly until just combined. Press the dough with your hands to a thickness of about 2cm.

Use a 6cm round cutter to cut out scones, place on a baking tray and brush the tops with milk, Bake for 10-15 minutes until lightly browned. Serve with jam.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Apple and Ginger Shortcakes

apple shortcake

It’s a bit of a tradition now, that whenever I go over to Perth to visit the boy that we invite his parents over for dinner. I’ve mentioned that I love cooking for people and this is no exception, I know they look forward to it as well. I love planning menus, but inevitably change my mind a hundred times. I’ve set the bar pretty high for myself, busting out some of my favourites like roast chicken and ratatouille.

This time I cooked a riff on my favourite chicken pie recipe with the addition of seedless red grapes, inspired by the chicken pie on the menu at Gazebo Wine Garden. It was just lovely with a local un-oaked Chardonnay from a little town in WA called Denmark. But today we’re talking about dessert. Steve had apple and cinnamon on the brain and I wanted to make a dessert using those flavours. I was originally thinking a cake or a crumble, but when I stumbled upon this recipe for apple and ginger shortcakes, I knew this was it.

Not only was it a breeze to make, but it looked like I’d made a big effort! I really liked the fact that it wasn’t overly sweet and the mascarpone was perfect with the delicious caramel apples. The shortcakes were delicately spiced with ginger and cinnamon, but weren’t as light and fluffy as I was hoping for. Perhaps I’m just used to making cream scones, but they were still absolutely delicious.

I think these shortcakes would also make a great base for experimenting with other kinds of fruit or fillings. Poached pears, roasted quince or stewed rhubarb would be fabulous, as would fresh berries or bananas. You could also replace the mascarpone with double cream, whipped cream or even sweetened ricotta, and play with the combination of spices in the shortcakes themselves. They make an elegant dessert but would also be perfect for afternoon tea. The possibilities are endless! These were a big hit dinner and I’m sure I’ll be making them again soon.

GourmetRabbit crumble

And if you're still in the mood for another fabulous autumn recipe, check out my latest recipe on GourmetRabbit, a gorgeous vanilla, apple and pear crumble with brown butter ice cream made with beautiful unwaxed apples and pears from Orange!

Caramelised Apple and Ginger Shortcakes
Serves 8
Adapted from Notebook

• 20g butter
• 2 granny smith apples, cored, cut into wedges
• ¼ cup brown sugar
• 1 teaspoon cinnamon
• 1/3 cup cream
• 100g mascarpone

Ginger Shortcakes
• 2 cups plain flour
• ¼ cup brown sugar
• 1 tablespoon baking powder
• 2 teaspoons ground ginger
• ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 100g butter, chopped
• 2/3 cup milk
• 1 egg

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line an oven tray with non stick baking paper. To make the shortcakes, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, ginger, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Use your fingertips to rub the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the milk and egg and stir until just combined.

Roll or pat out onto a lightly floured surface to a 2cm thick disc. Use an 8cm round pastry cutter to cut 8 discs from the dough. Place on the lined baking tray. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large frying pan over high heat until foaming. Add the apple and cook, turning occasionally for 5 minutes or until apples caramelize. Add brown sugar and cinnamon, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Add the cream and stir until mixture thickens slightly. Remove from heat.

Using a small serrated knife, split each shortcake in half. Dollop with mascarpone, top with apples and drizzle with caramel sauce. Top with remaining cake half, dust with icing sugar and serve immediately.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Christmas Traditions

candy cane cookies

Christmas is well and truly in the air. I mean it, I think I still smell like cinnamon from this morning’s baking! The decorations are up, the menus are planned, the Christmas shopping is, um, well, let’s move on, shall we? I love the traditions associated with Christmas, and memories of years past. From Dad lifting me up to put the angel on top of the tree, to opening presents on Christmas morning, to that obligatory Christmas Day dip in the pool with all of my cousins. Now that I’ve grown up, I’ve started creating traditions of my own, and I just wanted to share some of my favourite Christmas recipes with you all!

These gorgeous candy cane cookies caught my eye in last year’s Donna Hay Christmas issue but I never got around to making them until now. They looked so pretty and festive, and I can’t go past the delicious flavour combination of chocolate and peppermint! They were actually a lot of fun to make, a team effort with my sister one evening. She made the dough and I decorated them with the candy cane pieces.

We made mini cookies, smaller than the recipe suggested, using a small ice cream scoop to make the cookies an even size. They spread a fair bit in the oven, so make sure to leave enough room between the cookies on the tray. I loved the textural changes of the chocolate pieces and candy cane pieces in each bite.

It’s a perfect recipe to make with the kids for a Christmas Eve snack for Santa – I’m sure a plate of these and a glass of milk would make Santa would change his mind about even the naughtiest! They would also make adorable and thoughtful gifts, if you can bring yourself to share them!

candy cane cookies

Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies
Recipe from Donna Hay Magazine
Makes 40 small cookies

• 110g butter, softened and chopped
• 1 cup brown sugar
• 1 egg
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1 cup plain flour, sifted
• ¼ cup cocoa, sifted
• ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
• 120g dark chocolate, melted
• 280g dark chocolate, extra, chopped
• 120g candy canes, chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 160°C (320°F).
2. Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat for 8-10 minutes or until light and creamy. Add the egg and the vanilla and beat until well combined. Add the flour, cocoa, bicarbonate of soda and melted chocolate and beat until just combined. Fold through extra chopped chocolate.
3. Roll teaspoons of the mixture into rounds. Place on baking trays lined with non-stick paper, allowing room for the cookies to spread, and flatten slightly.
4. Press the chopped candy canes into the tops of the cookies and bake for 12-15 minutes or until the edges are firm. Allow to cool on the trays.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Daring Bakers: October


Wow. I can honestly say that this month’s Daring Bakers challenge was a challenge indeed, the most difficult one I’ve ever done – yes, even more than last December’s Yule Log! I always knew it would come up at some point, but I was hoping it would be later rather than sooner. This month’s challenge was Macarons. The delightful French sandwich cookies that are notoriously difficult to make, and something that I had never attempted before. I can’t say that the journey was easy, but it was definitely a learning curve, and I’m really glad I persevered and finally managed to make macarons.

From the beginning, I had serious problems with the challenge’s given recipe, and from the sounds of things on the forum I wasn’t the only one. After three complete failures following the recipe to the letter (and a lot of wasted eggwhites!) I decided to try Syrup & Tang’s recipe that used the Italian meringue method. This worked for me first time, and it was the best feeling to finally see that my macarons had feet!

Thinking up flavour combinations was the most fun part of this challenge, after seeing so many interesting ones posted on other blogs over the last few years. I decided to try my luck with the classic combination of Peanut Butter and Jelly flavour. I swapped out half the almond meal for ground peanuts when making the shell with a sprinkling of crushed peanuts on top, because I like my peanut butter crunchy. In between, I made a strawberry jelly disc. I really liked the combination of flavours and textures.

I still need a lot of practice with folding, piping and judging the baking times on my crazy oven, but this is a great first step to help me overcome my irrational fear of making macarons. I really look forward to experimenting further with flavour combinations and working on the technique in the future! The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.

I won’t publish the recipe I used, but it’s here on Duncan’s blog Syrup and Tang along with many other helpful tips about making macarons.


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