Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Mini Choc Mint Cupcakes

I made the most delicious mini cupcake for a friend's birthday party this week. They taste just like peppermint chocolate chip ice-cream. No joke.

The funniest part is that it all started with an aim to make a lovely triple tiered peppermint chocolate chip cake. Which failed... miserably. The third tier didn't bode well. Once the tin had completely cooled I opened it to place it onto the rack. The entire thing crumbled into pieces. It just fell apart in my hands. I blame the horrid vindictive oven! Then my icing wasn't right. It set. Hard.

So I channelled my hatred into tiny, cute mini cupcakes. And they were delicious! Yummy little bite sized treats that everybody loved.

Try them for yourself!

Mini Mint Choc Chip Cupcakes:

9 Tablespoons Cocoa Powder
180g Plain Flour
3 Tablespoons Corn Flour
1 1/2 Teaspoons Salt
1/4 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1 Teaspoon Bi-Carb Soda
115g Butter
300g Caster Sugar
2 Eggs
1/2 Cup Coffee (I used a long black setting on my Nespresso Machine, but instant coffee is fine)
1/2 Cup Milk

280g Butter
500g Icing Sugar
2 Teaspoons Peppermint Essence
150g Chocolate Flake
Green Food Coloring

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Line two mini muffin trays with mini cupcake liners

2. Beat together butter and sugar until fluffy.

3. Sift together dry ingredients.

4. In a separate bowl, mix together coffee and milk.

5. Add eggs to the butter mix, one at a time, and beat until well incorporated.

6. Add half of the dry ingredients to the butter mix, followed by half of the milk mixture. Repeat and mix until smooth.

7. Divide mixture evenly between cupcake liners, so they are filled approx halfway.

8. Bake for 10-15 minutes until skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool in tray until at room temp then transfer to a wire rack.

9. For the icing; Beat the butter until smooth, add icing sugar 1 cup at a time until smooth. Add the essence and coloring to desired color. Gradually mix through the flake pieces.

10. Pipe icing onto cupcakes. Voila!

Happy Baking!!!

Chewy Coconut Biscuits

Beware... These cookies are addictive. I took them to a picnic with my girlfriends and they were devoured!

Nice and chewy on top, a little bit crunchy on the bottom and melted chocolate on top. So so good!

Enjoy these... If your friends don't eat them all before you get to try them!!

Chewy Coconut Cookies:

1 1/4 cups Caster Sugar
4 Egg Whites
1 Teaspoon Honey
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
200g Desiccated Coconut
100g Plain Flour
Melted Chocolate to drizzle on top if desired

1. Half fill a large saucepan with water. Bring to the boil.

2. In a heatproof bowl, over the boiling water; whisk together the sugar, egg whites, honey, vanilla and salt until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture lightens in color.

3. Remove the bowl from the heat and stir in the coconut and flour.

4. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least two hours.

5. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius.

6. Spoon tablespoons of dough onto the baking sheet then flatten slightly with the back of the spoon.

7. Bake for 5 minutes, turn the tray, then bake for another 5 minutes until the edges of the biscuits are golden brown.

8. Allow to cool completely on the tray before transferring to a wire rack.

9. Drizzle with melted chocolate if desired.

Happy Baking!!!!

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Noodle Night Market

On Friday night the little sis and I ventured down to the noodle night market at the Alexandra Gardens in Melbourne to indulge in some Asian food by twilight. 

The set up of bars with lounges to sit on and all the food tents set up was pretty good... Until everyone wanted dinner and then the lines were so mammoth they all intertwined with each other. 

The little sis is a big fan of Pad Thai since I dragged her to Thailand early this year so, Rekorderlig's in hand, we were headed straight for the tent with the Pad Thai. 

This was accompanied by some delicious pork buns and prawn and chive dumplings and before we knew it... We were stuffed!

Was very busy as it was a Friday night, the market would have benefitted from being a bit more spread out to allow for lines to vendors etc. but all in all a very satisfying Friday evening dinner!

Night noodle market is on in Alexandra Gardens until 30/11... If you want to head down there... And happy baking!!!!

Monday, 11 November 2013

Cinnamon Donut Cupcakes

"Oh no!" I thought "Bad craving for a cinnamon donut!"... Unfortunately it was 6pm and there are no open donut shops at this time around my area, because we are not in the USA, And I don't know about you but supermarket donuts just don't cut it for me.

But all was not lost, because while I don't like to fry my desserts at home (purely because I can then physically see all the oil that covers it) I was sure I could make a cupcake that, with my eyes closed, could fool me into thinking I was eating a cinnamon donut. And it paid off!

My only regret... I should have made them into tiny bite sized cupcakes rather than regular sized. But there is always next time. Try these beauties out for yourself! Let me know how you went!

Cinnamon Donut Cupcakes:

60g butter
1/4 cup vegetable oil
100g caster sugar 
73g brown sugar
340g plain flour
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon bi-carb soda
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon 
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup milk

40g melted butter
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons hot water
128g icing sugar

1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Line a muffin tray with cupcake liners.

2. Beat together butter, oil and sugars until smooth.

3. Add eggs one at a time and mix on low until well combined. 

4. Add baking powder, bi-carb, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt and vanilla.

5. Add the flour and milk alternately, beginning and ending with the flour.

6. Scoop into cupcake liners and bake 15-20 mins until bouncy when pressed slightly. 

For glaze 
7. In a bowl, whisk butter, sugar, vanilla and water until smooth.

8. Spoon a small amount of glaze into each cupcake and allow to set before serving. 

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Orange Cake... Best cake I've made yet

I love cake... all cakes. I've always been partial to the mud-cakes. Caramel mud-cake, chocolate, white chocolate; you name it.

But lately I've found myself drawn to the world of citrus, and I must say, it has quickly developed into a serious relationship. I may even be in love.

It all started with my very first  Lemon Cake which came out a tasty dream, even with the burnt top from my horrible. sadistic oven.

My most recent attempt at a citrus sponge is this Orange Cake. And for some reason I was so nervous while making it. This probably had something to do with the experiment I was doing with cupcakes last week that failed miserably.

But while the Orange Glaze came out a bit runnier than I had anticipated, the whole process turned out this most delightful, amazing Orange Cake. It is, by far, the best cake I have baked yet.

Enjoy it yourself,

Orange Buttercream and Base of cake

Orange Cake
adapted from "The Primrose Bakery Book" by Martha Swift and Lisa Thomas

225g Butter
225g Caster Sugar
The zest of 1 Large Orange
4 Eggs
225g Self-Raising Flour

Buttercream filling
125g Butter
15ml Fresh Orange Juice
150g Icing Sugar
The zest of 1/2 and orange

200g Icing Sugar
2 Tablespoons Fresh Orange Juice

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius. Line or grease 2 x 20cm round cake tins.

2. For the sponge; cream together the butter, sugar and orange zest until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, until well incorporated. Gradually sift in the flour and beat well, but not for long.

3. Divide the mixture between the two tins and place in the centre of the oven for approx 25 minutes. A skewer should come out of the cake with a few crumbs remaining. Let the cakes cool in the tins until able to remove with bare hands, then cool on a rack.

4. For the buttercream; Beat together the butter, orange juice and half the sugar until light and fluffy. Add the remaining icing sugar and the zest and beat until smooth and creamy.

5. For the glaze; Place the icing sugar into a mixer. Gently pour in the orange juice while the mixer is on a low speed. The glaze should have a liquid consistency.

6. To assemble; Cover the base cake with the orange buttercream then place the second cake on top. Pour the glaze slowly over the top of the cake, allowing it to drip down the sides. Garnish with orange edible glitter.  Place the cake in the fridge for the glaze to set before serving.

Happy Baking!!!

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

A Salted Caramel and Vanilla Baked Cheesecake... And the disaster that followed

I am developing a loathing for my current oven. You heard me rant about my initial obstacles with the Lemon Cake but now it has sabotaged what was the best cheesecake ever!

I have tried all solutions to stop the horrid oven over cooking my food on the outside and leaving the inside rather raw, I have googled until I could google no more and nothing seems to work. Bad oven, naughty oven. It's grounded... No baking for a whole week. 

On to happier things. Whilst scouring the land of Google I happened upon a recipe from Donna Hay for the Cheesecake of my dreams. A Salted Caramel Cheesecake.... Heaven.

So I made a cheesecake... Kind of...

Cheesecake - Take 1
I made the base with lovely fancy shortbread rather than just your run of the mill brands. I was going to make my own but with the hours of prep the cheesecake would need I was worried I'd lose the motivation if I attempted too much. This was the first cheesecake I would be making all alone. The experience was daunting.

I do have one small confession. We all know of my caramel disasters... I just don't mix well with the stove top so I did ask little sis S to do my caramel topping for me. She has a knack for these things and shows me up regularly when I try to ice a cake (once again I refer to the Lemon Cake disaster). I have to say I was immensely delighted when her caramel came out a bit gluggy too.. It was lovely to know it wasn't just me. No worries though, there was more than enough smooth caramel to use for the topping, I just spooned out the lumpy bits. Sorry S...

From here I made my batter. And a monstrous load of cream cheese and ricotta later, it was poured into the base and popped in the oven.. And so the disaster began. I know the horrid oven enjoys overbaking the top of my cakes. I was prepared for this with foil loosely covering the tin to prevent browning. Due to my intense paranoia when using this oven, I also researched every possible tip I could find for cooking a cheesecake. I checked that it was firm to the touch, that nothing jiggled. That the top was slightly browned. The set cooking time was 1 hour 30 mins. 1 hour 45 mins later and my cake looked and felt ready. I wasn't  convinced, i felt uneasy about it but it passed all the googled tests, and google never lies... So I ignored my instincts and removed it from the oven.
it cooled on the bench and was then placed in the fridge to set.

The following morning I spooned a small amount off the top for a taste test (and to ensure it was cooked). It was beyond delicious. I made the whipped cream icing, spread it on top, drizzled with caramel sauce and popped it back in the fridge ready for my upcoming cake date with a girlfriend (and fellow cheesecake lover B) that afternoon.

When B arrived I made some tea and began to cut the cake. I could feel it was wrong. And as I removed the first slice I could see that the middle was still batter. How upsetting. Thankfully I had back up Hot Chocolate Cupcakes in the fridge or the Cake Date would have been a cake-tastrophy (see what I did there?)...

Cheesecake fail!

Once I muster up some new cheesecake confidence I will attempt it again... Or once I lose it, smash my oven and have to buy a new one.

Seriously bake it... Donna Hay has never let me down before so I refuse to think that this was her doing!!!
Hopefully it only takes one go for you. 

But honestly I'm a little proud of myself anyway... I didn't drop the cheesecake on the floor as I lifted it out of the oven :) 


Salted Caramel and Vanilla Baked Cheesecake
adapted from recipe by Donna Hay

500g Shortbread Biscuits
60g Almond Meal
150g melted Butter
350g Ricotta
500g Cream Cheese
175g Brown Sugar
4 Eggs
2 tablespoons Golden Syrup
1/4 teaspoon Table Salt
2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
250ml Single (pouring) Cream
250g Sour Cream
1 tablespoon Icing Sugar
Sea Salt Flakes, for garnish

Caramel Sauce
250 ml Single Cream
60g Butter
175g Brown Sugar

1. For the Caramel Sauce; in a saucepan over low heat stir the cream, butter and sugar until the sugar has dissolved. Increase the heat to high and boil. Cook for 5-7 minutes until the sauce has thickened. Set aside.

2. Preheat oven to 160 degrees Celcius. Lightly grease a 22cm round cake tin.

3. Place the Shortbread and Almond Meal into a food processor and process until coarsely chopped. Add the Butter and combine.

4. Press the biscuit mixture into the cake tin and refrigerate for at least an hour.

5. In the bowl of a mixer, beat the Ricotta and Cream Cheese for 5-6 minutes until it is smooth. Add the sugar and beat until well combined. Add the eggs individually, ensuring mix it beaten well following each addition. Add the golden syrup, salt and 1 teaspoon of the Vanilla and mix well.

6. Pour the mixture into the biscuit shell.

7. Place the cake tin into a baking dish and pour enough boiling water into the dish to reach halfway up the cake tin.

8. Bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes or until cheesecake is firm to the touch.

9. Remove the tin from the water and leave to cool in the tin.

10. Refrigerate for 3 hours or until set.

11. For the icing; whisk the cream, sour cream, icing sugar and 1 tablespoon of the Vanilla until soft peaks form. Spread over the top of the cheesecake, drizzle with the Caramel Sauce and sprinkle with Sea Salt Flakes to serve.

Good Luck!!!
          and Happy Baking!!!!

Monday, 23 September 2013

Homemade Marshmallow Fluff

I love Marshmallow Fluff!!! Otherwise known as Marshmallow Creme...

I would put it in everything if I could justify it. And it went deliciously in my Hot Chocolate Cupcakes. Just a treat!

Here is a recipe. Because where I live, this stuff is hard to find.

Marshmallow Fluff

3 Egg Whites
2 cups Light Corn Syrup
1/2 teaspoon Salt
2 cups Icing Sugar
1 tablespoon Vanilla Extract

1. Beat together egg whites, corn syrup and salt. Mix on high for approx 5 minutes or until mixture has become thick and almost doubled in volume.

2. Turn mixture down to low and add the icing sugar. Mix until well combined. Add the Vanilla extract and mix well/

If you don't use it all at once, you can store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks.

Happy Baking!!!!

Hot Chocolate Cupcakes... A winter treat

I was sitting on the couch with my hot chocolate in hand, piled with marshmallows of course, thinking about what I could make for dessert. The delicious cocoa smell wafted up and caused an epiphany. Yes!!! Hot Chocolate in a cake. Hot Chocolate Cupcakes!!!!! Genius.

And boy oh boy... Did it work. They were by far the best creation yet! I can't wait to make them again... and again...

The recipe does call for Marshmallow Creme or Fluff.. whichever you choose to call it, which I picked up from the USA Foods Store. You can order it online. Worst case, you can make it yourself from scratch. Here's my Marshmallow Fluff Recipe.

Hot Chocolate Cupcakes
Makes approx 18

1 cup Plain Flour
45g Cocoa Powder
1/2 teaspoon Bi-Carb Soda
1/4 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon Table Salt
120g Butter
1 cup Caster Sugar
2 Eggs
1 Egg Yolk
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/2 cup Boiling Water
1 + 1/2 cups Marshmallow Creme/Fluff

2 cups Thickened Cream
1 cup Icing Sugar
3 x Flake Bars

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius. Line cupcake trays with liners

2. Sift together the flour, cocoa, bi-carb soda, baking powder and salt in a bowl.

3. In a mixer, beat the butter until smooth and creamy. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Reduce the speed to low and add the eggs and the yolk one at a time until well incorporated. Add the vanilla.

4. Continuing on a low speed, add the flour mixture, half at a time, then once mixed; slowly add the boiling water until it creates a smooth cake batter.

5. Spoon into liners, approx 1/3 high. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a skewer comes out with only slight crumbs attached.

6. Leave to cool completely in the tray before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

7. When completely cooled, cut a hole in the centre of each cake and pipe a generous amount of marshmallow creme into the middle.

8. For the icing; beat together the cream and icing sugar until the cream thickens. The icing is ready once it sticks to the beater when lifted.

9. Top the cupcakes with a generous amount of the cream icing then crush the flakes and sprinkle over each cake.

Enjoy and Happy Baking!!!

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

We All Scream For Ice Cream

This week I was sent a lovely present from the team at Connoisseur Ice Cream.
A sample of the new flavours of stick ice creams, and oh was I excited to try them!!!

Ice cream is one of my many dessert loves. And connoisseur do a pretty good job of satisfying my cravings. I love sitting outside in the summer with a bowl or waffle cone piled high with yummy cream of all sorts of flavours. Even in winter when the heater is blaring in my apartment I find myself sitting with a bowl, usually accompanied by an apple pie or a brownie. So when these delightful treats turned up on my doorstep, who was I to say no???

I thought I'd let you all know my thoughts on their new flavours, though I'll tell you now, I'm already hooked.

This blog has always been dedicated to the food that I love. I'm no critic, but when I enjoy a baking experience or have been served some great food I love to share it with you. These ice creams have made it into my love list. The intense flavour was quite impressive. I'm a huge fan of magnum but my love for them lies in the chocolate coating, the flavour of the ice cream doesn't overwhelm me: I always eat the chocolate first. Always!

I found with the connoisseur ice creams that I was eating the chocolate then almost dying with surprise at how rich and flavoursome the ice cream in the middle was! For the first time ever I like the ice cream inside more that I like the coating, though don't get me wrong, I was devouring the chocolate too. 

My favourites were easily the Murray River Salted Caramel and The Sumatran Coconut. They are a nice fresh change to the regular flavours that come in stick ice creams.

Thanks guys!

NB: This product was a gift from Connoisseur. I was not paid for or asked for a positive review of the product. All opinions featured in this blog are my own and it remains non-commercial. I receive no sponsorship, payments or benefits :)
.... But feel free to send me yummy things at any time :)

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Miss Jackson revisited

I walked in and was greeted by a friendly hello from behind the coffee machine and the till. "Can I get you a table?"
Yes, but just for one today...
"No worries, in that case, you're sitting here next to the fire and up the front so we can keep an eye on you".

Nothing makes my day more than coming to Miss Jackson. The guys are beyond friendly and enjoy poking a bit of fun. It has long been a love of mine but now that my new apartment is just across the park I am now proud to call myself a local. 

Being a single young female I've come to appreciate the cafes that you can sit, alone, for breakfast or lunch or just a coffee. With its intimate setting, the cafe is divided into smaller intimate spaces, it's comfortable to sit and waste an hour or so watching the surrounding interactions and soaking up the atmosphere. 

And of course, and most importantly, the food is divine! Not only is their regular menu delightful, the corn fritters are the object of many of my dreams, but they have regular specials that continually blow my mind. 

Today this was the Pork belly sandwich in a brioche bun. Which was delicious.
Not only was I devouring my fantastic sandwich and latte but one of the lovely gentleman approaches me, making a mess ill admit, with a glass of wine and says that it'll go very well with my lunch.. And it did....

Thanks guys for continuing to provide me with my favourite place to hang and eat.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Delectable Banana Bread

As I delve further into the baking world I seem to come across more and more new and exciting things to try my hand at.

This week, it was a simple Banana Bread. Inspired by the "Despicable Me" Minions Banana Clip. So so cute.

Back to the cooking; this recipe is so so simple that I don't even need to give my usual description of my own experience. All the ingredients are popped in a mixer, poured into a loaf tin and baked for an hour. Voila!


Banana Bread

270g Dark Brown Sugar
2 Eggs
2 1/2 Bananas, the riper the better, mashed
280g Plain Flour
1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1 Teaspoon Bi-carb Soda
1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
1 Teaspoon Ground Ginger
140g Butter, melted

1. Preheat oven to 175 degreed celcius

2. Place sugar and eggs into a mixture on a medium speed. Beat until well mixed then add the banana.

3. Add flour, baking powder, bi-carb soda, cinnamon and ginger and beat well.

4. Pour in the melted butter and continue to mix until smooth.

5. Pour mixture into a loaf tin that has been lined with baking paper (or coated with cake release; my new kitchen love!)

6. Bake for approx 1 hour, until firm to touch and skewer comes out with few crumbs.

7. Leave to cool to room temperature in the tin, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

Happy Baking!!!!.....

A little magic can take you a long way

Monday, 24 June 2013

Everyone loves a chocolate cake

I began my baking career backward. I have found that I started with the different things and it is only now, a year on that I am starting to wish I knew all the basics by heart. It started with the slices and now I'm onto the cakes.

I am ashamed to admit that I have never made a chocolate cake. That scares me. Just a basic chocolate cake. Everyone loves a chocolate cake.

So I made one. However, I wouldn't be Carly if I made it easy. I thought, why not make a custard icing? I love custard. 

I also found a packet of freeze dried raspberries in my pantry and figured there must be a use for these in my cake too, the flavour is intense and sweet; a perfect accompaniment to rich chocolate.

Now before you say "ew, custard icing", just give it a try. It eliminates that sickly sweet texture you can sometimes get from chocolate icing. It was heavy and rich which complemented the light and fluffy cake. A very sophisticated take on a simple chocolate cake. And much to my relief, everyone thought it tasted fantastic!

Try it for yourself and tell me what you thought...

Chocolate Cake:

120g Butter
280g Caster Sugar
2 Eggs
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
50g Cocoa Powder
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Bi-carb Soda
A pinch Salt
180g Plain Flour
170ml Whole Milk

500g caster sugar
1 tablespoon golden syrup
125g cocoa powder
200g cornflour
90g butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees Celcius

2. Mix butter and sugar in a mixer on med-high until light and fluffy.

3. Turn mixer to low and add eggs. Mix until combined.

4. Beat in vanilla. cocoa, baking powder, bi-carb and salt until smooth.

5. Add the milk and flour alternately until well combined.

6. Divide between two prepared cake tins and bake for approx 30 mins. Until knife comes out with slight crumbs.

7. Leave cakes to cool in tin until room temperature then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

8. For icing; In a medium saucepan, mix sugar, golden syrup, cocoa and 600ml water then bring the the boil on a medium heat. Whisk regularly. Separately, mix the cornflour with 170ml water, it will be reasonably tough and sticky but still mixable. If too thick add a small amount of extra water. Add the cornflour mixture to the saucepan whisking while pouring and return to the boil. Cook, while whisking, until consistency is thick. Remove from heat, add vanilla and butter then pour into a bowl and chill until firm.

9. Spread the icing over the base cake then add the second cake on top. Cover with icing.

10. I decorated with freeze dried raspberries, but you can add almost whatever you would like as a garnish on your delicious cake.

Happy Baking!!!...