Archive for the 'sweets' Category

April Daring Baker’s challenge – Maple mousse!

When I think of maple syrup I think of Canada in the autumn, with beautiful red leaves on the trees and a slight nip in the air. So this challenge is perfect, as Sydney is feeling the autumn chill and needs the perfect sugary pick-me-up!

The April 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Evelyne of the blog Cheap Ethnic Eatz. Evelyne chose to challenge everyone to make a maple mousse in an edible container. Prizes are being awarded to the most creative edible container and filling, so vote on your favourite from April 27th to May 27th at!

Our lovely host Evelyne wanted to share a bit of her maple-syrupy home with us for this challenge. Since Lisa and Ivonne of DB fame challenged her to include an edible container she decided to make a Maple Mousse served in a baked Bacon Cup, topped with a meringue. But luckily she offered alternatives for the bacon-fearers, as I don’t have a fear of bacon but a fear of bacon filled with mousse!

Maple mousse is a wonderful idea, and I was grateful that the mandatory items of the challenge were that we must make a) one of the 2 maple mousse recipes listed, and b) an edible container in which to place the mousse for presentation. Evelyne also allowed us to substitute maple syrup if we couldn’t find any, which is exactly what I had to do.

Since there is a competition for the best edible container, I thought I’d veer from the provided recipes and try a lovely coconut base that I have used before. Sadly when it came to making the container it flopped. So instead I made a little  spoon out of shortcrust pastry, the recipe of which I got from my go-to recipe site. Hopefully the wonderful ladies will forgive me for this and still count me as having completed the challenge!

The maple mousse recipe was easy to follow, and I substituted the maple syrup for 50% red gum honey and 50% golden syrup. The honey flavour was light and very rich. The challenge was fun, and the recipes sound, so thanks Evelyn for setting us such a great challenge!

Recipe Sources:
– Maple mousse is adapted from Jaime Oliver is not my boyfriend
– Pastry decorations are from Not Quite Nigella’s shortcrust recipe

Maple Mousse:

1 cup (240 ml/ 8 fluid oz.) pure maple syrup (not maple-flavoured syrup)
4 large egg yolks
1 package (7g/1 tbsp.) unflavoured gelatine
1 1/2 cups (360 ml. g/12 fluid oz) whipping cream (35% fat content)

Bring maple syrup to a boil then remove from heat.
In a large bowl, whisk egg yolks and pour a little bit of the maple syrup in while whisking (this is to temper your egg yolks so they don’t curdle).

Add warmed egg yolks to hot maple syrup until well mixed.
Measure 1/4 cup of whipping cream in a bowl and sprinkle it with the gelatine. Let it rest for 5 minutes. Place the bowl in a microwave for 45 seconds (microwave for 10 seconds at a time and check it in between) or place the bowl in a pan of barely simmering water, stir to ensure the gelatine has completely dissolved.

Whisk the gelatine/whipping cream mixture into the maple syrup mixture and set aside.
Whisk occasionally for approximately an hour or until the mixture has the consistency of an unbeaten raw egg white.
Whip the remaining cream. Stir 1/4 of the whipped cream into the maple syrup mixture. Fold in the remaining cream and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Remove from the fridge and divide equally among your containers, top with decorations and serve.


Healthy-ish lemon & poppy-seed muffins

As many a wise person said, music is the soundtrack to our souls. It’s funny how a piece of music, or a set of lyrics, just brings back a memory that you forgot was still there. For some people it could be a smell that brings back a memory, or incites a rush of feeling, but for me it is definitely music. (Although smells of baking are like giant hugs when you walk into the kitchen)

I sit typing this in our spare bedroom, with headphones on to mask the sound Frank’s virtual Grand Prix going wild on the xBox. (And of course it isn’t a real-virtual-Grand-Prix without deafening car revving!) I just grabbed our shared music player, and the first song to play is Bernard Fanning’s Thril is Gone from his Tea & Sympathy album. I didn’t know much about Bernard Fanning before I met Frank, having only heard one of his band Powderfinger’s songs back in South Africa. His voice is amazing, and his solo album just brings back the memories of Frank and I planning our move down-under. I can almost feel that excitement now, the idea of having a blank slate and being able to make the life we wanted out of the move.

Sitting in the Pig Palace over a year later (and after a weekend of family visits) I consider myself very lucky. I miss my family and friends terribly, but I have gained a second family here. I am also happy to say that friends are friends despite the distance or the busy-ness of our lives, and it is uplifting to know how many generous souls I have the fortune of knowing.

Anyway, enough of the soppy-ness for now. Since I’ve been on this (traumatising, torturous, cruel) diet I’ve been buying a lot more treats. I see delicious chocolates, and think “I really want them”, but since I can’t have them the next best thing is to buy them for Frank! I realise it isn’t the smartest thing to do, as one of these days I WILL actually get up in the middle of the night, eat all the chocolate in the fridge, eat all the sugar and sugar-containing products in the cupboard, and have Frank find me in the morning lying in a pool of ants. But alas I choose to torture myself this way.

As we had Frank’s family over for brunch today, I decided to whip up a batch of healthy-ish lemon & poppy-seed muffins. The recipe is really straight-forward, and is done in around 35 mins including cooking and prep. (But not dishes, that is Frank’s job…) If you feel like a nice quick snack for breakfast or tea, I would recommend them. Warm, with butter, and a delicious cup of coffee… ooh, coffee…*sob*

Lemon & poppy-seed muffins – from Australian Womens Weekly ‘Mix’ recipe book
(muffins can be stored in an airtight container for 2 days or frozen for 2 months)

1 cup wholemeal self-raising flour
1 1/2 cup white self-raising flour
90g cold butter, chopped
1 cup (220g) caster sugar
1 1/4 cup buttermilk (if you don’t have it, use 1 1/4 cup milk and 1 1/2 tsp lemon juice)
1 egg, beaten lightly
2 tsp grated lemon rind
2 tbsp poppy seeds

Pre-heat oven to 180C, 160C fan-forced. Grease a 12-hole muffin pan, or insert baking cups.

Sift flours into a large bowl. Rub in butter with fingertips.

Stir in sugar, buttermilk and egg. (do not over-mix, mixture should be lumpy.

Gently stir in lemon rind and poppy seeds and spoon mixture into pan holes.

Bake muffins about 20 mins. Stand in the pan for 5 mins before popping onto a wire rack to cool.

November Daring Cook’s challenge: Soufflés!

This month’s challenge gave us the option to make a savoury or sweet soufflé. What a fantastic challenge! I have never tried making soufflé before, but always wanted to, so this challenge came at the perfect time.

Dave and Linda from Monkeyshines in the Kitchen chose Soufflés as our November 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge! Dave and Linda provided two of their own delicious recipes plus a sinfully decadent chocolate soufflé recipe adapted from Gordon Ramsay’s recipe found at the BBC Good Food website.

It was mandatory for us to make a baked soufflé, but the recipe was up to us. I made a batch of raspberry and lime curd a month ago and had it sitting in the freezer, so I managed to find a delicious baked souffle from Delia Smith to use it up! The recipe was really straight-forward, and tasted fantastic. I would definitely recommend it if you feel like making a dessert that is easy but very impressive!

Hot lemon-curd soufflés – recipe from Delia Smith

For the soufflés:
3 large eggs
2 oz (50 g) golden castor sugar and 1 level dessertspoon golden castor sugar
grated zest and juice 1 medium lemon (2 tablespoons juice)

For the quick-method lemon curd:
grated zest and juice 1 small lemon
1 large egg
1½ oz (40 g) golden castor sugar
1 oz (25 g) cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1 level teaspoon cornflour

To serve:
a little sifted icing sugar
Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 3, 325°F (170°C)

First of all make the lemon curd by lightly whisking the egg in a medium-sized saucepan, then add the rest of the lemon curd ingredients and place the saucepan over a medium heat. Now whisk continuously using a balloon whisk until the mixture thickens; this won’t take long – about 3 minutes in all.

Next, lower the heat to its minimum setting and let the curd gently simmer for 1 further minute, continuing to whisk. After that, remove it from the heat and divide the curd between the bases of the ramekins. (This can all be done well in advance, but cover and leave at room temperature.)

When you’re ready to make the soufflés, separate the eggs, putting the yolks into a medium-sized bowl and the whites into a spanking-clean larger one.

Now, using an electric hand whisk, whisk the whites to the stiff-peak stage, which will take 4-5 minutes – start on a slow speed, gradually increasing to medium and then high. Then add the dessertspoon of castor sugar and whisk on a high speed for 30 seconds more. Next add the zest and lemon juice and the remaining 2 oz (50 g) of sugar to the yolks and mix them together briefly. Now take a tablespoon of the whites and fold them into the yolks to loosen the mixture, then fold the rest of the whites in using a light cutting and folding movement so as not to lose the precious air.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared ramekins, piling it high like a pyramid, then run a finger round the inside rim of each one. Next place them on the baking sheet and put this in the oven on the centre shelf for 15-17 minutes or until the tops are golden. Then remove them and let them settle for about 5 minutes to allow the lemon curd to cool.

They will sink a little, but that’s normal. Just before serving, place them on smaller plates and give them a light dusting of icing sugar.

Coconut & lime panna cotta with pineapple relish

Where has summer gone? This week I’ve been walking around in Frank’s jumpers and thick socks regretting taking the winter bedding off the bed. Apparently Sydney had the “third wettest October on record”, but for someone who immigrated to get away from the rain, this whole year has felt like the third wettest on record! (In my head I’m humming Crowded House’s “everywhere you go, you always take the weather with you”…) To be honest, there are only so many times you can say “well, it’s good for the farmers” with a smile on your face.

Having said that; Sydney decided to bring out the sunshine for Dude, Pea and Bean’s visit to the Promised Land. Thank you Sydney! We had some beautiful days, which allowed them to see what Sydney might be like in a non-wet year.
As it began to feel like summer, I decided to try my hand at panna cotta, and treat the family to some experiments! My mom sent me some lovely recipes, and the weather was just right for the deliciously light dessert.

According to Dude and Pea, it was delicious. I loved the pineapple relish, but the coconut milk in a dessert made it taste like thai curry to Frank and tinned beans to me (smooth and creamy tinned beans, but tinned beans all the same).  If you like coconut milk in desserts, definitely give this one a try as the texture is delicious. If not, substitute it with the same volume of cream and a teaspoon coconut essence.  Let’s cross fingers for some sunshine soon!

Coconut & lime panna cotta with pineapple relish – recipe adapted from BBC Good Food website

3 sheets fine-leaf gelatine
400ml can coconut milk
150ml milk
3tbsp caster sugar
finely grated zest and juice of 2 limes

For the salsa:
85g caster sugar
25g fresh root ginger , thinly sliced
250g fresh pineapples , cut into small pieces
1 red chilli , deseeded and finely chopped

Soak gelatine in cold water for 5 minutes or until soft.Put the coconut milk and sugar in a pan and heat until bubbling. Stir in the lime zest & juice and remove from the heat.

Lift the gelatine from the water and stir into the milk until dissolved. Pour into four 150ml moulds or ramekins, or even small cups. Leave to cool, then put on a plate in the fridge. Chill for at least 2 hours or until set.

For the salsa, tip the sugar and ginger slices into a small saucepan and pour over 100ml water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for another 5-10 mins until it turns slightly syrupy and light golden. Leave to cool, then discard the ginger slices. The syrup can be made up to 1 week in advance.

To serve, dip each mould into boiling water for a moment to loosen the panna cotta, then turn onto a serving late. Arrange the sliced pineapple beside each panna cotta and scatter with chopped chilli. Drizzle with ginger syrup to finish.

October Daring Baker’s challenge – Doughnuts!

This was my first Daring Baker’s challenge, and what a fantastic one it was! The challenge forced me to confront my fears of hot oil, with the only downside being that Frank got to see exactly how much of a giant baby I can be. (Yes, he has seen me in a onesie, but this was far more similar to a cry-baby)

The October 2010 Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Lori of Butter Me Up. Lori chose to challenge DBers to make doughnuts. She used several sources for her recipes including Alton Brown, Nancy Silverton, Kate Neumann and Epicurious.

Lori also encouraged us to make more than one type of doughnut from her recipes provided. And now for my excuses! I would have loved to get completely immersed in this challenge and get creative, but sadly I have just been too frantic to dedicate the time to it, and so I only made one type of doughnut. I will definitely take the recipes away however, and make them another time when things are more calm at the Pig Palace. With my new-found confidence! 😉

I chose to make traditional yeast doughnuts, as these are my favorite kind. I also decided to coat them in cinnamon sugar, as there is nothing better than fresh doughnuts with cinnamon! The recipe was wonderfully straight-forward, and the doughnuts turned out perfectly. The only hitch was the hot oil…
We borrowed a deep-fryer from Frank’s brother, as I was worried about deep-frying for the first time (oh yes!) on a gas stove. When the oil was at the right temperature I became too scared to put the doughnuts in, so I yelled for Frank and made him do the first round (while dancing behind him with all the teatowels we own, as he said this is the best way to put out an oil fire). He made it seem so easy that I pottered on and did the rest, and now I’m keen to try all sorts of other delicious deep-fried goodies!! Frank’s favorite part? The doughnut holes. Bite-sized deliciousness!

Yeast Doughnuts:

Preparation time:
Hands on prep time – 25 minutes
Rising time – 1.5 hours total
Cooking time – 12 minutes

Yield: 20 to 25 doughnuts & 20 to 25 doughnut holes, depending on size

1.5 cups Milk
1/3 cup butter/margarine
2 pkts Active Dry Yeast
1/3 cup Warm Water
2 large eggs, beaten
¼ cup white Granulated Sugar
1.5 tsp table salt
1 tsp grated nutmeg
4 2/3 cup plain flour + extra for dusting surface
Canola Oil DEPENDS on size of vessel you are frying in – you want THREE (3) inches of oil (can substitute any flavorless oil used for frying)
1/4 cup granulated sugar + 2 tsp cinnamon for dusting

Place the milk in a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat just until warm enough to melt the shortening. (Make sure the margarine/butter is melted so that it incorporates well into the batter.)
Place the butter in a bowl and pour warmed milk over. Set aside.
In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and let dissolve for 5 minutes. It should get foamy. After 5 minutes, pour the yeast mixture into the large bowl of a stand mixer and add the milk and shortening mixture, first making sure the milk and shortening mixture has cooled to lukewarm.
Add the eggs, sugar, salt, nutmeg, and half of the flour. Using the paddle attachment of your mixer (if you have one), combine the ingredients on low speed until flour is incorporated and then turn the speed up to medium and beat until well combined.
Add the remaining flour, combining on low speed at first, and then increase the speed to medium and beat well.
Change to the dough hook attachment of the mixer and beat on medium speed until the dough pulls away from the bowl and becomes smooth, approximately 3 to 4 minutes (for me this only took about two minutes). If you do not have a dough hook/stand mixer – knead until the dough is smooth and not sticky.
Transfer to a well-oiled bowl, cover, and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.

On a well-floured surface, roll out dough to 3/8-inch (9 mm)thick. (Make sure the surface really is well-floured otherwise your doughnuts will stick to the counter).
Cut out dough using a 2 1/2-inch (65 mm) doughnut cutter or pastry ring or drinking glass and using a 7/8-inch (22 mm) ring for the center whole. Set on floured baking sheet, cover lightly with a tea towel, and let rise for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oil in a deep fryer or Dutch oven to 365 °F/185°C.
Gently place the doughnuts into the oil, 3 to 4 at a time.

Cook for 1 minute per side or until golden brown (my doughnuts only took about 30 seconds on each side at this temperature).
Transfer to a cooling rack placed in baking pan. Once cooled toss in cinnamon-sugar mix.

Peppermint-chocolate mousse

I’m not sure if I’ve told you think before (and if I have, please feel free to switch off or yell “yes yes, I’ve heard this one already!!”) but I get bored easily. I’m always on the hunt for something new, and it doesn’t have to actually happen, just the idea is enough to keep me going for a week or two. I keep the shiny little gold nuggets that are ideas in the front pocket of my brain (along with some lint and a staple or two) and pull them out every now and again just to revel in the beauty of them.

The bonus of having a short attention-span is that I am also amused easily. I love stupid jokes, I laugh my head off at “Australia’s funniest home videos”, and when Frank gets into one of his comedic moods I am quite often in tears of laughter on the floor for ages.

Frank and I do the grocery shopping together. I think it’s only fair that he shares my pain. But it never ceases to fascinate me how unobservant he can be at times. Last time we went shopping Frank was tasked with picking out the eggs. We rolled up to the isle to find one broken egg splattered on the floor.

With what I assumed was neat avoidance, Frank reached up to pick a box of eggs and then attempted to put them straight into the trolley. So I said “best you make sure that none of them are cracked” (because that always happens to me), and he pulled the carton out and popped it open.

To his surprise there was one egg missing from the carton, to which I tried to say “oh, that’s where the one on the floor must have come from”, but before I could Frank had stepped right on the egg-mess and was wobbling on one foot! Just the sight of Frank made me laugh for about 10 minutes, and the fact that he never even noticed the egg on the floor made me laugh for another 10. Just thinking about it now makes me chuckle! (Although Frank wasn’t pleased with me laughing at him)

Good thing we discovered there was an egg missing, because I needed them for the wonderful recipe below. This is a classic, and I will always keep going back to it for dinner parties. According to my wise and wonderful friend Mrs Swede, mousse is meant to be made with raw eggs and not with cream. Sorry Mom!

Very chocolate-y mousse – recipe adapted from How to Cook Book Two (Delia Smith) and The Delia Collection: Chocolate.

200g dark chocolate
115ml warm water
2.5ml peppermint essence
3 large eggs, separated
40g castor sugar

To serve:
Whipped cream
Mint leaves

First of all place the broken-up chocolate and warm water in a large heatproof bowl, which should be sitting over a saucepan of barely simmering water, making sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Then, keeping the heat at its lowest, allow the chocolate to melt slowly – it should take about 6 minutes.

Now remove it from the heat and give it a good stir until it’s smooth and glossy, then let the chocolate cool for 2-3 minutes before stirring in the egg yolks.

Then give it another good mix with a wooden spoon. Next, in a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites to the soft-peak stage, then whisk in the sugar, about a third at a time, then whisk again until the whites are glossy.

Now, using a metal spoon, fold a tablespoon of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to loosen it, then carefully fold in the rest. You need to have patience here – it needs gentle folding and cutting movements so that you retain all the precious air, which makes the mousse light.

Next divide the mousse between the ramekins or glasses (or in this case a tub to transport!) and chill for at least 2 hours, covered with clingfilm.

I think it’s also good to serve the mousse with a blob of softly whipped cream on top, with some chocolate shavings and mint leaves.

Aussie trifle, Swede-style

Men at work’s song “the land down under” is so Australian. In London they always pump out this song in the Aussie pubs and everyone (Australian and non) goes nuts. When Frank and I first decided to move to Australia I used to hear the song and get goose bumps with anticipation of moving to (what I liked to call) The Promised Land.

I lived in London for 5 years, and I’m only slightly embarrassed to admit that I refused to support England/the UK in any sporting events (and still do). I also refused to embrace it as home, and did not learn the national anthem. I suspect it was the shock of how different the UK’s culture is from South Africa, or the fact that I never intended to live there forever.

My friend T-bug, however, moved to London with the intention of staying for good. So when we all gathered for a night of watching South Africa vs. England in the rugby, he rocked up with an England rugby jersey on! Needless to say, Dude tried very hard not to kick him out the house and we all gave him a LOT of grief.

Now that Frank and I have settled in The Promised Land I have fully embraced the Aussie culture. I am Aussie-proud: I can sing the national anthem at sporting events, I support a rugby league team *go tigers!!* and I rather enjoy a game of Aussie Rules Football.  I think Australia just makes you love it, as my beautiful friend Mrs Swede feels exactly the same way.

When we went visited the Swedes a couple of weeks ago we were lucky enough to be treated to Mrs Swede’s trifle. But not just any trifle, Aussie trifle. I don’t normally like trifle, but this one was delicious. I’ve decided to replicate it (with a minor tweek) for Frank’s family gathering this weekend, and thanks to the ingenious Mrs Swede I get to share the recipe with you!

Aussie Trifle – recipe from Mrs Swede

1 pack ready-made lamingtons, sliced
1 pack raspberry jelly – made to instructions
1 batch crème patisserie (or ready-made custard will do)
300ml thickened cream, whipped
¼ cup tia maria/sherry
100g pecan nuts
punnet fresh strawberries/raspberries
100g chocolate-covered peanuts
150g dark chocolate, cut into tiny chunks

Best made in a big glass bowl.

Line the bottom of the bowl with the sliced lamingtons.

Cover lamingtons with the alcohol.

Cut the jelly into little squares and lay on top of the lamingtons.

Add in the chocolate peanuts and three quarters of the chocolate chunks on top, and top with the custard.

Finally add a layer of berries and half the pecan nuts and top with the whipped cream. Finally, decorate with the remaining pecan nuts and chocolate chunks. Refrigerate for an hour, or overnight.


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