Thursday, 24 January 2013

Red Velvet Crinkles with Oreos

I'm am now on a cookie rampage, and Sprinklebakes is spurring me on. The latest concept; Red Velvet Crinkles with Oreos! Yum!

I will admit, I struggled with these. The dough was so sticky and it was hard to get it to attach to the Oreo.

The first 3 or 4 had me sweating in frustration, it was so fiddley! But after my fifth go I had the hang of it and it all started coming together. I later realised that this was due to the fact that i skipped putting the dough in the freezer! Whoops!

If, after cooling in freezer, the stickiness is really that bad then add a little more flour, but try to stay with it because I would have liked mine to be a little more moist I think...

Don't get me wrong, they are delicious!

Red Velvet Oreo Crinkles
(Recipe adapted from Sprinklebakes)

225g butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1/4 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla
Red food coloring (I recommend a paste rather than liquid)
3 1/2 cups plain flour
2/3 cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
A large pinch of salt
2 packets of Oreos
1 cup icing sugar

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Cover two baking trays with baking paper.

2. Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time then beat in buttermilk, vanilla and red food coloring.

3. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa and salt. Add flour mix to butter mix and beat on low until just combined. The dough should be very soft and a little sticky.

4. Cover and chill in the freezer until the dough is very cold and easy to handle.

5. Sift icing sugar onto a plate and place within reach of your workspace.

6. Using buttered fingers scoop out a large piece of dough and press down onto the Oreo. Turn the Oreo over and fold the dough so the cookie is completely covered. Roll lightly between the palms of your hands to make the dough a little more ball shaped around the Oreo and roll in the icing sugar.

7. Place dough balls on the baking tray. Spread them out, no more than 8 per large tray. The cookies will spread.
(For a more crinkled appearance; re roll the dough in the sugar before placing in the oven)

8. Bake for 12-14 minutes until cookies are puffed and cracked. Let cool on the tray until tray is able to be touched with bare hands then transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Happy baking!
Let me know how you go!!!

Monday, 21 January 2013

Lemon Sprinkle Cookies

I have a confession to make....

I have never made cookies! Distressing, I know!

Now, this isn't 100% accurate as I have made both Gingerbread and Shortbread before. But I've never baked a simple cookie to put in a cookie jar and dip in milk or coffee or whatever dipping beverage you choose.

Funnily enough, I love cookies. They are one of my favourite snacks in the world and it is so rare to eat a bad cookie.

So when reading Sprinklebakes' blog, I stumbled across the cutest looking cookies I have ever seen. They were so colorful! I just had to have some.

And so I set out to bake my first ever cookie. Low and behold, Lemon Sprinkle Cookies!!!

Lemon Sprinkle Cookies
(Adapted from Sprinklebakes' recipe)

225g of butter, softened
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons lemon essence
2 cups plain flour
Pinch of sea salt
Zest of 1 lemon
(Millions and Trillions of) 100's and 1000's

1. Beat butter in mixer on medium until lighter in color. Add caster sugar and beat again until combined. Add vanilla and lemon essence.
2. Beat in the flour, salt and lemon zest. The dough should not be sticky and should have a smooth consistency. The dough should hold when squeezed together.
3. Roll 1 tablespoon of dough into a ball and then roll in the 100's and 1000's until covered. Place in a freezer safe dish, seal or glad wrap and freeze overnight (if you need them quickly, you can skip freezing. The cookies will be flatter and only require 12- 15 minutes baking).
4. Heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
5. Place baking paper on a baking tray. Remove cookies from freezer and arrange approx 5cm apart on the tray.
6. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until the cookies are slightly golden. They should still be soft when pressed.
7. When tray has cooled and you are able to comfortably touch it, transfer cookies to wire racks to cool further.

Don't forget the dough should not be sticky and should have a smooth consistency. Hopefully yours will look the same as above. If you have not achieved this and it is too sticky add some flour, if you have the opposite and the dough is still dry, try adding a little more butter.

I used my tablespoon measuring attachment to separate my dough. Luckily for me it is also a nice rounded shape that made rolling the mixture oh so easy.

Roll your dough in the 100's & 1000's so they are covered and all kinds of pretty colors.

Place all your rolled cookies onto a plate and wrap with plastic, or into a freezer safe container. 

Place the plate in your freezer for at least 5 hours. I left mine overnight.

Voila! Lovely, delicious, spectacular looking cookies!

I hope you enjoy baking these as much as I did.

Please let me know how you go.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Fresh Mini Strawberry Tarts and Sunny Ridge Farm

They aren't as pretty as I would have liked....
But I'll fix that next time

I went exploring the Mornington Peninsula last week. I have forever been meaning to visit Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm, then like clockwork, every day off work I have forgotten all about it, just to commence my desire to visit upon my first day back at work.

This week I remembered so I piled myself into the car and drove down. When you arrive at Sunny Ridge there is a gazebo where you pay your entry ($8 per adult) and each receive a punnet to fill at your own delight (provided the lid closes comfortably).

Excitedly I made my way down to the public picking area and began the search for the best strawberries. Only the reddest and juiciest would make the cut.

An hour later, I was stocked up and ready to move on. I was overwhelmed by all the ideas popping through my head. How would I make use of these delicious strawberries.

Apparently, the trick with strawberries is not to wash them until you are ready to eat them. That way they keep their freshness and taste.

When I got home I set upon making some mini Strawberry Tarts. Note my hesitation... It is rather justified if you happen to remember the apple tart debacle of recent. I was going to be extra careful with these tarts....

I will make one confession. I was being gluttonous.. I wanted to take them to a party I was attending in 3 hours. In order to achieve this I did buy store bought pastry to eliminate hours of preparation. They still came out delicious but if you have time to make your own sweet pastry I would recommend this for better results. It's definitely on the list for next time.

Mini Strawberry Tarts:
Makes 10 (7cm tart tins)

Shortcrust pastry sheets x 3 (homemade or store bought)
Mini tart tins

For the filling:
235ml milk
2 egg yolks
55g caster sugar
A drop or two of vanilla extract
2 tablespoons cornflour
A pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon butter
20 strawberries
Blueberries (optional)

1. Lay out your pastry. If using homemade pastry, roll out to approx 5mm thick.
Cut 10 x circles to fit your tart tins. Mine were 10cm. Blind bake for approx 15 mins or until golden. (If you are unfamiliar with Blind Baking please see my instructions in the quiche post). When golden remove from oven and place on cooking racks until ready to use.

2. In the bowl of your mixer, whisk at medium speed the egg yolks, 60ml of the milk, sugar and vanilla extract. Add the cornflour and salt and mix until combined.

3. Heat the remaining milk to just before boiling in a saucepan. Pour the hot milk in a slow, steady stream into the mixture, whisking constantly on medium speed as you pour. When combined pour the entire mix into the saucepan.

4. Whisk the mixture over a medium heat until it thickens to the consistency of custard. Remove from heat and whisk in the butter.

5. Pour the custard into a bowl and place the bottom of the bowl into a bowl of iced-water to cool, whisking occasionally.

6. When cooled, pour into a piping bag (i used a squeezy bottle to make life a bit easier. a sauce bottle will do the job well). Place into the fridge until you are ready to use it.

7. Chop the tops off the strawberries and halve.

8. Fill the pastry cases with the custard mix and arrange 4 strawberry halves on each tart so the bottoms either point outwards or meet in the middle. Place blueberries, if using, in between each strawberry (and in the middle if strawberries are pointing out).

9. Refrigerate until time to eat!

I was so proud that I had succeeded. The tarts had not got the better of me this time, or so I thought.

I arranged them beautifully in a dish, glad wrapped it and headed off. Arrived at my mothers and realised the party was on a boat. Maybe a china dish was not the smartest of options. (I know you all can see where this story is going).
The cute little tarts were transferred into a plastic container still looking lovely and off we went.
We arrived at the marina, hopped on the boat and the tarts were stowed safely away in the kitchenette. I looked out to the water. It was a little windy.

We all chose our seats and off we went for a lovely, rocky sail... We were only out on Port Phillip Bay so when I say rocky please don't think it was stormy seas, it doesn't even get real waves. Having said that, as the boat tipped to the sides my life was flashing before my eyes.
When we headed back we remained on the boat and all brought out our goodies to share.
My tarts were the last to appear. And I was devastated.
The rocking had caused the custard to shift and now they were lopsided tarts with custard spilling off the edge and strawberries hanging on for dear life. It was a mess. Thankfully there were mostly boys on board so the mess was not cause for hesitation and I was grateful that the feedback was positive. Apparently they tasted delicious.

Did they work for you? Let me know...

Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Olinda Tea House - Worth the drive

I love getting out of the city and visiting The Dandenongs. Usually this is for my family's tradition of Christmas in July where we all pile into an old fashioned restaurant on a cold winter's day and enjoy a beautiful Christmas roast.

Today is not in July, nor was it for a Christmas celebration. It was just me, leaving the city, in search of a nice lunch and a spot of tea.

I found this, and more, at the Olinda Tea House. Upon first arrival it's appearance is similar to that of a day spa. Clean and free of clutter, simple, using natural materials like wooden floors and fencing. I had decided to take Hamish, my 13 y/o Westie, and feared that there was no outside seating area where I could sit with the old pup while I had lunch.

Devonshire Tea

Not to despair. The waitress was lovely and showed me the path round the back to the seating on the deck.

I lounged on the oversized outdoor couch and ordered myself a glass of wine.

I followed that up with mini hamburgers and a vegetable pastry, both of which were phenomenal. The burgers came as a pair and were about big enough for two bites, with a side of shoestring fries and a salad. The pastry was overflowing with roasted vegetables also served with a side salad.

Feeling satisfied but not quite finished I also ordered a serve of scones with the most delicious raspberry jam and cream. I also purchased a jar of the jam so I can recreate the experience at home.

All full up, with a somewhat restless dog, I headed off. Had I not had to be home by a certain time I think I would have sat there drinking and eating for the rest of the day.

The place provides a comfortable, relaxed atmosphere in which people can enjoy their day and really soak in the beauty of The Dandenongs.

I have a feeling I will be back very soon. I apologise for the lack of pictures, I got so caught up in the moment the time flew by.

Olinda Tea House on UrbanspoonOlinda Tea house - Visit their website.