Showing posts with label Christmas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Christmas. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Gingerbread Chocolate Tart

chocolate gingerbread tart

Just a short post from me today as I've got some baking to do myself! But if you're looking for a perfect / easy / impressive / last minute Christmas dessert? I've totally got you.

This hybrid gingerbread chocolate tart came out of another sweet brainstorming session with my sister, because I really wanted to use the cute little gingerbread men confetti sprinkles that she bought me as a gift. Aren't they awesome! It is the last minute though so if you can't find them, you can use any excess pastry to make a few mini gingerbread biscuits to decorate the top.

chocolate gingerbread tart

I adapted my normal favourite pastry to include a good hit of ginger and spices. Don't be afraid to go overboard with the spices, even in the dough itself tastes quite strong, it mellows when baking and when combined with the chocolate, the ginger itself can be quite subtle. I also put a small Australian twist on it and used some finely ground roasted wattleseed from Herbies that kind of tastes like coffee and biscuits. It's delicious!

To really make this dessert beautiful and decadent, I also served the tart with some whisky-spiked caramel sauce and fresh raspberries. Gotta have a boozy sauce - it's Christmas! I loved the way all the elements worked together in harmony, especially the raspberries to offer a slight tart contrast to the rich chocolate. It feels special and festive all at once.

chocolate gingerbread tart

I also just want to thank you all, my wonderful readers for another year filled with sugar and sprinkles. I have some exciting plans for this space in the next few months and can't wait to show you! Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a safe and happy holiday filled with good food and quality time with your family and friends xxx

chocolate gingerbread tart

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 9, 2014

Cherry & Peach Pandowdy

cherry peach pandowdy

If right now you’re wondering “what the heck is a pandowdy?!” I don’t blame you. If you imagine something along the same lines a Cobbler, Crisp, Buckle or Pie. A Pandowdy is a classic 19th century Southern baked fruit dessert where the pastry is broken or cut up into pieces. This allows the fruit juices inside to bubble up and ensures extra crispy crunchy bits of pastry. Nothing dowdy about it!

cherry peach pandowdy

My love for these kinds of desserts is well documented. I just love any kind of baked fruit and pastry combination. They’re endlessly adaptable depending on what fruit is in season and work equally well in summer or winter. They’re rustic and unfussy, can be eaten warm or cold, and all that is needed to dress them up is a dusting of icing sugar and a scoop of ice cream or drizzle of cold pouring cream. Or if you’re feeling fancy, perhaps a homemade creme anglaise?

cherry peach pandowdy

For the filling this time I combined in-season white peaches and fresh cherries with a little sugar and flour, vanilla bean, orange blossom water and lemon juice. That’s it. The result was out of this world amazing. You can of course use apples, pears, apricots, plums, summer berries or any combination thereof. I also loved the sour cream pastry, which is a little different from what I would usually do, but was incredibly easy to prepare and baked up perfectly. I’ll definitely be using this for other pie crusts in future.

Make this for Christmas Day lunch, to end a backyard BBQ on a sweet note, or just because summer fruit is awesome right now. I really don’t need much of an excuse to bake a pie and take advantage of all my favourite seasonal produce!

cherry peach pandowdy

Sunday, December 7, 2014

30+ Christmas Recipes!

christmas recipes

Hi everyone! I can't believe it's nearly Christmas. But with December comes celebrations galore, entertaining friends and family, and if you're anything like me, making delicious homemade gifts! I just love Christmas baking, from traditional classics to modern desserts more suited to our summer climate and all the seasonal ingredients that go with it.

After 7 years of blogging, I have amassed quite a collection of Christmas recipes so I wanted to shine a light on the great stuff from back in the archives! I'll also be sharing some great new recipe ideas over the next few weeks. If you try any of these recipes, drop me a note in the comments to let me know :)

pomegranate gin smash


roasted chats with crispy speck


ricotta cake

Traditional Desserts

Monday, December 23, 2013

Simple Dinners 07 / Prawn and Watermelon Panzanella

prawn watermelon panzanella

An Australian Christmas is a magical thing. 

There's usually seafood, salads and pavlova topped with lots of summer fruit. With some luck it's warm and sunny, and lunch is usually followed by a dip in the pool... unless you opt for a nap on the couch instead. I really can't imagine Christmas any other way.

If you're looking for a last minute Christmas salad or side dish or even a quick summer dinner, this is it. Ticking all the boxes - seasonal, delicious, pretty on the plate and a little bit unique, this Prawn and Watermelon Panzanella combines some seriously awesome flavours in the one dish. From start to finish, the whole thing took less than 15 minutes and can even be made on the BBQ.

A traditional panzanella is a great way to use in-season tomatoes and day old bread, making it a fantastic summer meal. But I took it a step further, because I love watermelon, feta and mint together. And to make it a little more substantial as a meal, I added some beautiful pan-fried prawns, but you could add grilled chicken or thinly sliced rare beef or lamb instead, or leave out the meat entirely for a yummy vegetarian dish!

I wish all of my readers a wonderful, relaxing Christmas. I hope you enjoy lots of great food and good times with your family and friends. Thank you so much for all of your support this year, and I'm very excited about what 2014 will bring! I'll be back next week sharing some of my favourite posts of the year xx

prawn watermelon panzanella

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Chocolate Cherry Bourbon Cheesecake + 13 Ways with Cherries

chocolate bourbon cherry cheesecake

CHERRIES! I get super excited this time of year, because yes, Christmas is a little over a week away... but even more awesomely, almost all of my favourite fruits are in season, abundant, and totally delicious. Berries, mangoes, nectarines, peaches, figs (soon) and cherries!

They're one of my favourite fruits and only have a very short season, so I wanted to share 13 amazing looking recipes that I hope you'll try. And if you're in the northern hemisphere and fresh cherries aren't available, most of these recipes work with preserved cherries too. I think some of these would be perfect at your Christmas lunch!

13 Ways with... Cherries

13 Ways with Cherry
Picture Credits: Our Kitchen & Cookie and Kate

1. This Cherry, Lime & Whisky Cocktail from Our Kitchen looks very pretty, and sounds perfect for any Christmas party, no matter which hemisphere you're in. Stripy straws a must!

2. I only discovered Rainer cherries recently, and loved their sweeter flavour. I loved Cookie and Kate's lovely twist on the classic cocktail - the Rainier Cherry Mojito. Sounds perfect for a sunset tipple on a hot summer's day.

13 Ways with Cherry
Picture Credits: How Sweet Eats & Martha Stewart

3. How good do these Roasted Cherry Bourbon Milkshakes with Hot Fudge look! This recipe from How Sweet Eats looks like a very, very special boozy treat. I've also become addicted to this beautiful and new-to-me blog. Check it out!

4. When I was in New York earlier this year, I became addicted to this Cherry Juice that was sold at the Union Square Greenmarket, which was tart and super refreshing. I think Martha Stewart's Sour Cherry Lemonade would be just as delicious. I love that it's served in a large pitcher - perfect for your summer BBQ's.

13 Ways with Cherry
Picture Credits: Cannelle et Vanille & Spicyicecream

5. Aran from Cannelle et Vanille is a very talented lady who always makes the most delicious looking desserts, and these Cherry, Cinnamon and Vanilla Flan Tarts are no exception! I love that she has mixed different kinds of cherries in the one dessert for colour and flavour.

6. I made these Cherry Poptarts with Vanilla Bean Glaze for my blogger girlfriends a few Christmases ago and they were a massive hit. The best thing is that they're made with a good quality (or even homemade if you're feeling keen) cherry jam, so you can enjoy them all year round.

13 Ways with Cherry
Picture Credits: What Katie Ate & Lara Ferroni

7. What Katie Ate is one of my favourite blogs without a doubt. I remember seeing this epic Black Forest Gateau (from an episode of Masterchef Australia) soon after I discovered it and was immediately hooked. Luckily it's still picture perfect, even if the recipe had a few problems.

8. Lara Ferroni is the author of a book all about doughnuts (which I own and love), so I would trust her implicitly on all matters concerning fried dough. I love the sound of these simple Ricotta Drop Doughnuts with Fresh Cherry Sauce. Perfect for breakfast or dessert!

13 Ways with Cherry
Picture Credits: Citrus and Candy & Gourmet Traveller

9. My gorgeous friend Karen from Citrus and Candy does decadent desserts like no other, and clafoutis is a great "lazy but fabulous" option, in her words. So it goes to reason that this Chocolate and Cherry Clafoutis is perfect for the busy Christmas season, when you'd rather spend time by the pool than in a hot kitchen. Perfect.

10. Christmas breakfast is sorted. This alluring stack of Cherry Toast with Vanilla Cream looks like the perfect way to start your Christmas Day. With a few Mimosa's too?

13 Ways with Cherry
Picture Credits: Call Me Cupcake & The Bojon Gourmet

11. Ice cream on Christmas Day is a bit of a tradition here in Australia, because it usually gets so hot! Dessert is often followed by a dip in the swimming pool. I really love the look of this festive Fudge Ice Cream Cake from Call Me Cupcake, topped with ruby red cherries. Stunning!

12. This Roasted Cherry Vanilla Ice Cream with Bourbon and Chocolate from the Bojon Gourmet looks like a grown up cherry ripe. And that is definitely something I can get behind. If you haven't already checked out this blog, do! It's filled with great recipes and amazing photographs.

chocolate bourbon cherry cheesecake

13. It was my Mum's birthday over the past weekend and she deliberated long and hard over the kind of cake she wanted. "Cheesecake would be nice... or something with cherries" were her requests, so I set about combining the two in one decadent birthday dessert - Chocolate Cherry Bourbon Cheesecake - that would also be perfect for Christmas.

I think next time I'd swap half the amount of cream cheese for mascarpone or ricotta (or a combination of the two) and use melted chocolate instead of cocoa powder. I was a little rushed for time, used a cake tin that was slightly too small and probably didn't give the cheesecake quite long enough to cool in the oven before transferring it to the fridge, so it sunk a little and developed a few cracks in the top. Oops. Luckily with some strategic photo angles you can't really tell, and it still tasted great. I even got Mum to cut her cake for me while I photographed it! Happy Birthday Mummy! xx

Hope you give these a try, and if you have any other great cherry recipes, please post the link in the comments below!

chocolate bourbon cherry cheesecake

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, December 24, 2012

Christmas Recipe Roundup

merry christmas!

I had planned to share one more recipe with you before Christmas, but in the midst of a cleaning frenzy and packing for my trip to Perth, being dosed up on painkillers for my aching shoulder and the finished dessert just generally being all kinds of 'meh', I unfortunately have nothing new for you today!

I did however still want to pop in and wish all of you lovely readers a very very happy Christmas and holiday season. I hope it's filled with love, family and of course good food!

While I'm here I thought I'd shine the spotlight back onto the archives, just in case anyone is still looking for Christmas recipes because there's some pretty awesome stuff hiding back there! Here are a few of my faves...

christmas recipe roundup!

Traditional Desserts

I'll be back next week with a roundup of my favourite posts from 2012! xx

Monday, December 17, 2012

Mulled Wine Marshmallows

mulled wine marshmallows

I had wanted to come here today to write about Christmas baking and how much I was looking forward to some time to relax over the holidays, but after the heartbreaking events that happened on Friday in Conneticut, it all seems so trivial. I almost didn't post this at all.

I don't usually get so open and emotional here, but I have been much more affected by this event than any other disasters or tragedies in recent times, even those that happened much closer to home. I was in tears as I read about the heroic teachers who protected their young students, including Victoria Soto who was not much older than me and showed bravery I'm not sure I could have if I were in her shoes. Twenty young children were taken way, way, way too soon. And imagine how traumatic it was for all of the children who managed to hide and survived.

All of those people went to work/school on that completely normal day without even an inkling of what was about to happen. Everyone in that small town is now changed forever, especially the families and friends of the victims. I'm tearing up a little again as I write this. I hope and pray that their souls are at peace in heaven, and that senseless crimes like this could somehow be stopped for good.

mulled wine syrup

I think it's so important to tell the people you love that you care about them. We're all so busy with our own lives and all the stuff we think is important, but I for one am going to make a much greater effort to give my friends a phone call when they cross my mind, and spend time with my family way more often than I currently do. Life is just too short to hold grudges, anger and resentment. Friends and family are invaluable, and what better time than Christmas to make sure they know you love them.

At Christmastime I try to give edible homemade gifts, because they truly are made with love and I think it shows. These marshmallows were pretty darn delicious, but didn't quite work out as I'd hoped so I will keep working on the recipe before I share it with you. But the star here was the Mulled Wine Syrup! A bottle of wine was simmered with sugar and spices (you can use whichever ones you like) to create a wonderfully ambrosial syrup that I think would make a lovely gift because it's so versatile. Use it as a topping for ice cream or poached fruit, as the base for a delicious sangria or even as a glaze for ham or duck.

I hope this inspires some of you to show your loved ones that you care - whether it be with a phone call or a homemade Christmas gift, and to pray for the people who lost their lives, and all those affected by the Sandy Hook tragedy.

mulled wine marshmallows

For more Christmas recipes click here

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Berry and Moscato Trifles

berry moscato trifle

It's that time of year again. Hard to believe right? Is it just me or has this year flown by faster than ever?! But Christmas is just around the corner and I'm really looking forward to it, for a change. I'll be over in Perth with the boy's family for the first time, hopefully enjoying a proper hot Aussie Christmas! But I have a few neat Christmas recipes to share with you before then...

I was never a fan of heavy, overly boozy trifles made with packet jelly and poor quality custard, but seeing some beautiful and modern spins on this classic Christmas dish in recent years has changed my mind completely. I actually have a whole bunch of other ideas of trifles to make in the near future, so colour me obsessed (and stay tuned, it's gonna be awesome).

I first made this recipe for last year's family Christmas lunch in a massive trifle bowl, and I was surprised that after a huge lunch and with several other dessert choices, it was completely demolished! Quite a few people asked me for the recipe so I knew I would have to make it again this year - but this time I decided to halve the recipe and make individual servings as a practice run for Steve's much smaller family!

berry moscato trifle

There are a few different elements to this dessert, but it comes together more quickly than you'd think. The cranberry and moscato jelly and the vanilla bean custard can be made in advance, and the whole thing can be assembled the day before (or even a few hours before) you plan to serve it. This time around I used a store-bought sponge cake and cherry jam which saved me a lot of time, however homemade would taste even better!

I just love this summery, festive combination of flavours, but feel free to play around with it. Champagne would be a lovely substitute for Moscato in the jelly, any kind of berry jam or even rhubarb would work well, and a hint of passionfruit in the custard would be delicious too. This recipe can also be easily scaled up and served in a large glass bowl to feed a bigger crowd. Stay tuned for more Christmassy recipes coming up soon!

berry moscato trifle

For more Christmas recipes click here

Friday, December 23, 2011

Candy Cane Spiders + 13 Ways with Candy Canes!

candy cane spider

Well well, it’s Christmas Eve Eve. Most of us are finishing up work for the year and finishing off preparations for a big weekend of celebrating! Hopefully you’re nearly finished all your shopping, but if you’re still stuck on what to make for Christmas dessert, hopefully this post will help! I thought I’d get into the festive spirit with a pepperminty round up of Christmassy recipes featuring candy canes!

I had a lot of fun putting this together because it’s such a great chance to see how creative other bloggers can be! From show-stopping cakes to gorgeous homemade gifts and celebratory cocktails, I never realized how versatile those red and white striped candies could be.

13 Ways with Candy Canes
Picture Credits: Tartelette & Gourmet Traveller

1. One of my favourite bakers, and macaron maker extraordinaire Tartelette baked up some gorgeous Candy Cane Macarons, which I think are totally stunning. Her detailed recipe also makes macarons seem a little less scary!

2. If you’re a more experienced (or adventurous!) macaron maker, you could attempt Adriano Zumbo’s Candy Cane Macarons. Red and white mixture is marbled together and actually piped into candy cane shapes! They’re absolutely beautiful but I think I’ll leave this one to the experts! The caramelized candy cane ganache filling sounds wonderful though.

13 Ways with Candy Canes
Picture Credits: Cake and Allie & My Recipes

3. Out of all the Candy Cane Cupcake recipes out there, this one from Cake and Allie has to be one of the most beautiful. I love the marbled red and white frosting!

4. This amazing Candy Cane Cake would absolutely steal the show at Christmas lunch! Coated with pulverized candy cane pieces, I think it would also be totally deliciously decadent if you used a fudgy chocolate cake as well.

13 Ways with Candy Canes
Picture Credits: My Recipes & Spicy Icecream

5. I think these cute Peppermint Pinwheel Cookies would make delicious little gifts for friends and family this Christmas. But to make them even more awesome, they are sandwiched together with peppermint icing. Yum!

6. This recipe has fond memories for me, baking with my sister. Which is kind of appropriate as she also helped out with today’s recipe, but more on that later! These easy Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies were inspired by a Donna Hay recipe and are the perfect treat to make with the kids, or to leave out as a bribe, I mean, snack for Santa.

13 Ways with Candy Canes
Picture Credits: Tablespoon & Hungry Girl Por Vida

7. This recipe for Candy Cane Martini Jelly Shots is so creative, not to mention pretty! Perfect little adults-only treat for a Christmas party, and a great concept to experiment with.

8. I have just discovered this gorgeous blog, Hungry Girl Por Vida but I’m totally in love with the gorgeous photos and recipes such as these Candy Cane Truffles. Give them as gifts or stir into warm milk for a decadent peppermint truffle hot chocolate, you can’t go wrong with this great, simple recipe!

13 Ways with Candy Canes
Picture Credits: A Taste of Koko & Raspberri Cupcakes

9. I’ve been obsessed with chocolate “bark” since I made that crazy Sprinkle Bark Cake, and so of course I had to include Peppermint Bark in this roundup! A Taste of Koko has a beautiful version with not one but three layers of chocolate and a generous sprinkling of crushed up candy cane pieces.

10. I love the sound of the Candy Cane Chocolate Syrup (also known amongst us as “awesomesauce”) that my friend Steph made to top this stack of festive red and white pancakes. I can only imagine how awesome this would have tasted!

13 Ways with Candy Canes
Picture Credits: Country Living & My Recipes

11. If you’re still looking for a delicious homemade gift, this Peppermint Hot Chocolate Mix might fit the bill! Packaged up in a pretty jar, I know I’d certainly love a thoughtful (and delicious) present like this! Or, you could make a batch of this for yourself in case hot chocolate cravings strike. It will last for up to six months in an airtight container.

12. Of course I had to booze it up at some point, and this Candy Cane Martini fits the bill nicely! I think this minty martini would be absolutely perfect for holiday parties.

candy cane spider

13. I’m totally thrilled with how this crazy idea turned out – a Candy Cane Spider! Americans might know these better as an Ice Cream Soda or Float but in Australia, we’ve always known them as “Spiders”, but whatever you call it, it’s a delicious creamy drink made with ice cream and topped up with a carbonated drink like Coca Cola or root beer.

I decided to get creative and try a festive version made with candy cane ice cream, white crème de cacao and lemonade. I used a fantastic and easy “no churn” recipe which was also delicious on its own. After that, just put two scoops of ice cream in a tall glass with the white chocolate liqueur (if you like, if you’re making this for the kids, just leave it out) and top with lemonade! An easy Christmassy drink in seconds! I also just want to wish all my wonderful readers a very Merry Christmas and a happy and safe break! Hope it's filled with lots of good food! xox

candy cane spider

Candy Cane “Spider”

Serves 1

No Churn Candy Cane Icecream (adapted from Vanilla Bean Blog)
• 1 can sweetened condensed milk
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• ½ teaspoon peppermint extract (or to taste)
• 2 tablespoons white crème de cacao (optional)
• 2 cups cold heavy cream
• Crushed candy canes (I used 6 regular candy canes)

Candy Cane Spider
• Crushed candy canes, extra, to line rim
• Glucose syrup or honey
• 2 scoops candy cane ice cream
• 15ml white crème de cacao (optional)
• Lemonade (or Sprite) to top up

To make candy cane ice cream, stir together condensed milk, vanilla, peppermint and white crème de cacao in a medium bowl. In a separate bowl or in a stand mixer, beat cream on high until stiff peaks form. With a rubber spatula, gently fold whipped cream into condensed milk mixture. Stir in crushed candy canes and pour into a regular size loaf pan. Freeze until firm, for about 6 hours or overnight. Keeps up to one week in the freezer.

To make the spider, rub a small amount of glucose syrup or honey around the rim of a tall glass with your finger. Place crushed candy canes onto a plate and press rim of the glass into the candy. Place 2 scoops of candy cane ice cream into the glass. Pour over crème de cacao and top up with lemonade. Serve immediately.


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