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Little Ginger Caramel Cheesecakes


31CFED5D-F980-41F1-9953-28FE10746308Cheesecake! A big favourite, but an indulgence I enjoy in moderation, as it’s SO moreish I can eat too much…

So mini cheesecakes are the perfect sweet treat to end a meal or a as little pick me-up at afternoon tea time.

The recipe is my go-to recipe for baked cheesecake, blogged here many times. I substituted mascarpone for cream cheese, for no other reason than I had some in the fridge and thought it would go well in cheesecake!

I added crystallized ginger to my little cheesecakes as well as ginger caramel, but plain caramel would be fine too.

To serve, I put some chunks of fresh pineapple on the top of each little cheesecake. This complemented the ginger flavour beautifully!


Crumb Crust
230g sweet biscuits (half plain, half ginger nut)
1/2 level teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 level teaspoon cinnamon
85g butter

Mascarpone Filling
500g mascarpone
2/3 cup sugar
1 tbls ginger or plain caramel or dulche de leche (jar or tin is fine, don’t bother making it)
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 free-range eggs
6 pieces crystallized ginger (a small handful), chopped finely  + extra for decorating

Pineapple chunks to decorate


Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C or 170 degrees fan-forced.

Butter individual molds with a removable base, see photo. If you don’t have these molds, you could use ordinary muffin or cupcake  molds. You would just need to be careful easing them out of the molds.

I filled 8 of my removable bottom molds. You would fill at least 8 or even 10 ordinary muffin molds.

Crush biscuits very finely in a food processor and add the nutmeg and cinnamon. Melt butter in a saucepan, remove from heat and quickly stir in the biscuit crumbs.

Press firmly into greased molds, covering the bases with a good layer of biscuit crumb.

Put mascarpone, sugar and caramel in the food processor and mix well. Add eggs one at a time, whizzing after each addition.  Stir in the crystallized ginger pieces.

Pour mixture into the individual molds on top of the biscuit crumb bases.  Fill each mold to about 3/4 full.  Place in the oven and bake for about 20-25 minutes until the cheesecake is just set. Remove from oven and leave to cool completely.

Carefully remove each cheesecake from its mold. Store in refrigerator for at least 6 hours or overnight to completely firm up.

Serve cold, with chunks of pineapple on top of each cheesecake, and extra slivers of crystallized ginger. You could drizzle a little warmed caramel over the top too, for a truly caramel experience!



Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies


These are great! They combine two great methods of biscuit making to create a thick, buttery, chocolately sweet treat. The recipe is more shortbread than cookie, creaming butter and sugar, and adding flour.There’s no egg, as there would be in traditional chocolate chip cookie. Add a handful of chocolate chips and the shortbread dough steps over into cookie territory.

The recipe is based on a post from “The View from Great Island”, see here. My version is minus peanut butter, and with my own variations. If you’re over  thin and crispy cookies, or soft and chewy, making a nice dense shortbread make sense.

If you want to zhush up these cookies, try mixing in a tablespoon or two of caramel filling when you cream the butter.  Something like dulche de leche is great. And sprinkle some sea salt on to the cookie rounds before baking.



220g butter at room temperature

3/4 tsp vanilla extract

300g plain flour

75g icing sugar

1 1/2 cups chocolate chips (dark or milk)


Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.

Cream the butter using an electric mixer until the butter is soft and whipped, Add the vanilla extract. Mix the dry ingredients together and add to the butter and mix until the dough just comes together. Stir in the chocolate chips, making sure not to overmix the dough.

Turn the dough out onto greaseproof paper. Divide the dough into two, for easier handling.  You need to gently shape each dough portion to form them into a log shape. Each log will be about 15- 20cms in length and the diameter will be about what you would expect form a round cookie…ie 8-10 cms. But the size of the logs is really whatever size you want your cookies to be!

You may need to work it with your hands if it is too crumbly. Roll them up in the greaseproof paper, carefully making the log the shape, Twist both ends of the logs securely.

Refrigerate for  one to two hours until the logs are really firm.

Cut the logs into 1 cm slices with a very sharp knife, I find that a serrated knife works well. Some will be more even shaped than others, and the ends of the logs will be smaller.

Place the cookie slices on a baking sheet lined with baking paper. You may need 2 baking sheets depending on how many cookies you are baking. I usually get 20-22 good sized cookies from the dough quantity. Bake for about 12-14 minutes, until the cookies are light golden and look like shortbread.

Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes and then cool completely on a wire rack.




Pecan Maple Sticky Buns


Here is another venture into the world of sticky buns, cinnamon scrolls and brown sugar sweet treats. I love my bread making, and I am pretty keen on making enriched dough at the moment.

This recipe is my take on Sticky Buns from the Great British Bakeoff and the inimitable James Morton’s Cinnamon Buns.

It’s an enriched dough filled with brown sugar, butter and cinnamon, and topped with MORE brown sugar, butter, maple syrup and pecans!

James Morton cooks his buns in a casserole dish or pot such as a Le Creuset, as the heavy sided baking dish creates softer buns. He’s right – it’s the way to go for beautiful soft unctuous buns, so I recommend you try this baking method. Whatever you bake your buns in, make sure that the dish or pan has a rim, as the topping might flow over during cooking.



250g plain white flour

250g strong white flour

8g table salt

7g instant yeast

100g sourdough starter (optional)

50g caster sugar

280g milk, warmed until tepid

1 free-range egg, at room temperature

50g unsalted butter


50g unsalted butter

75g brown sugar

1 tsp cinnamon


100g butter (salt reduced or salted is fine for that “salted caramel” flavour)

2 tbs maple syrup

100g pecan pieces (walnuts work just as well)


Place the flour, salt, yeast,  sourdough starter if using, sugar, tepid milk, egg and cinnamon into a large bowl and mix them together by hand or you can use an electric mixer with a dough hook. Knead by hand or in the mixer about for 10 minutes.

Melt the butter and add to your dough. Mix it in by hand or use a machine until completely combined. Cover the bowl (I use a disposable shower cap but cling film is fine) and leave the dough to rest for 60-90 minutes at room temperature, or overnight in the fridge, until it has grown to roughly double its original size.

Turn your dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll it out into a big, long rectangle. The rectangle should be about 20cm wide and up to a metre long. Melt the butter and brush over dough. Sprinkle the dough all over with brown sugar and then cinnamon.

Roll up the dough along its long edge into as tight a cylinder you can get, but be careful as the dough is quite fragile. Slice this cylinder into 6-9 roughly equal pieces using a knife.

For the topping, process the butter, brown sugar and maple syrup until thoroughly mixed in food processor. Grease a large lidded casserole dish and spread the mixture evenly over the base of the dish. Scatter the chopped nuts over the base of the dish and gently press in.

Arrange the buns cut end down in the casserole dish. Place the lid on the casserole and leave to rise for another hour at room temperature, then check to see that buns have risen.


30 minutes before baking, preheat your oven to 180 degrees C fan forced. Put the lid back on the casserole and place in the oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes with the lid on and 10 minutes with the lid off.

Remove from the oven and run a knife around the inside of the dish to loosen the buns.


Leave for 3-4 minutes for the bubbling to subside – no longer as the caramel will set.

Carefully invert the dish onto a plate with a rim, again to stop the topping spilling over. Lift off the baking dish. The buns will be sitting up beautifully covered in the lovely caramel topping!

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Caramelised Quince and Almond Cake

IMG_5889 (2)

Quinces are plentiful in the middle of Sydney winter. I can’t resist them. The kitchen is a lovely place as the scent permeates the house and the bright yellow of the fruit is beautiful to behold. I’ve been picking up a couple each week with my other fruit and veggie supplies.IMG_3847

Baked quinces, quince crumble or this Quince and Almond Cake are yummy ways to eat the delicious fruit! I poached the quinces first in a caramelised syrup to intensify the “quince” flavour.

Thank you to photographer and friend Nick for his title photograph.

Caramelised Quinces

60g butter
2 quinces
120g caster sugar
Juice of 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 150 degrees C. Peel the quinces, halve lengthways and remove cores. Cut in quarters.

Melt butter in a baking dish. Roll the quinces in the melted butter. Scatter over sugar and  squeeze the lemon juice over the quince pieces.

Cover tightly with a doubled sheet of foil. Bake the quinces for 2-3 hours, basting every half hour or so, until the quinces are soft, ruby red and the pan juices are syrupy. Remove from the dish to cool, reserving some segments for decoration.


150g butter
150g sugar
3 free range eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond essence
100g ground almonds
1 tablespoon plain flour +
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 170 deg C.

Combine butter and sugar in a food processor, with vanilla extract and almond essence.
Add eggs one at a time. Mix well.
Fold in ground almonds, plain flour, baking powder and salt. Add a little more flour if the mixture looks too wet.

Put mixture into a greased flan dish, or spring form tin lined with baking paper. It’s important to line the tin as the mixture can sometimes leak.
Place quince segments on the top of the batter. Don’t worry – the fruit will sink during cooking, that’s the effect you want. Scatter flaked almonds on top of the mixture.

Bake in 170 deg C oven for 45 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted in the cake.

Spoon some quince syrup over the cake and decorate the cake with the reserved segments.  Serve warm or cold with double cream.IMG_3796

I’m sharing this recipe with the “Simple and in Season” initiative:





Berry, Apple, Golden Syrup and Oat Flapjacks

IMG_2186I found a recipe for flapjacks while surfing the internet for “tray bakes”. As a food etymologist I was intrigued by the name, not overly used in Australia. We tend to talk more of “slices”.

The following recipe is very loosely based on one of my finds, Blackberry and apple oaty flapjacks:

My traybake turned out more of a tart as it was quite soft. I think the apple makes it soft, so you could try less apple to firm it up or cook it for longer.

My next incarnation of the flapjack will be apple-free and I’ll make the berries into jam before cooking. Watch this space!


1 large or 2 small apples, peeled and chopped

200g  rolled  oats

2 tsp cinnamon

2 tbs store bought caramel

200g fresh or frozen mixed berries

2 tbs golden syrup

Crumble topping:

60g rolled oats

1 tbs butter cut into small pieces

1 tbs golden syrup

Handful of flaked almonds


Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease a medium sized baking tin. I used a flan mold for something different.

Place the chopped apple in a saucepan with enough water to cover.  Put on the lid and cook until soft.  Drain the water and puree or mash the apple.

Mix the oats and the cinnamon in a large bowl, add the apple and caramel and combine well.

Spread the oat mixture Into the base of the tin or flan and spread out into an even layer.

Scatter the mixed berries on top of the oat mixture, having cut in half any larger berries such as strawberries.  Drizzle the golden syrup over the berries.

To make the crumble topping, combine oats, butter and extra golden syrup.

Spoon the crumble mixture over the berries, lastly scattering the flaked almonds.

Press down slightly to stick the layers together. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until the flapjack is golden brown and the berry juices are bubbling.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely before cutting into pieces.




Butter Cookies – Caramel, Chocolate Caramel and Stem Ginger


These butter cookies are based on Annabel Langbein’s Cookie Sampler recipe. I previously made a three flavour sampler and this time used the same basic recipe with some different twists.

The beauty of Annabel’s recipe is that has no egg and uses condensed milk as well as sugar. The resulting dough is easy to shape, freezes well and the cookies keep for a couple  of weeks. The cooked biscuits freeze well too.

Here are the links to Annabel’s recipe and my previous cookie sampler:

Basic Recipe


250 gms butter
1/2 cup sugar
3 tbsp sweetened condensed milk
A few drops of vanilla extract
21/4 cups plain flour
2 tsp baking powder

Flavourings of your choice (see below)

Preheat oven to 160 degrees C. Line 2 oven trays with baking paper.
Cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the sweetened condensed milk and vanilla, then stir in the flour and baking powder.
To make Cookie Sampler, divide dough into 3 portions. Mix flavourings (see below) into each portion.
Chill mixture for 15 minutes. Roll into walnut-sized balls, place on baking trays and flatten slightly. Decorate according to instructions for different flavourings. Bake until lightly golden and set (about 15- 20 minutes).
Allow to cool for 10 minutes on the tray then transfer to a rack to cool completely before storing in an airtight container or jar.

Caramel Cookies

IMG_8181Mix in a couple of tablespoons of dulce de leche or other thick caramel spread into 1/3 of the dough. Once you have formed the walnut sized balls, place half a teaspoon of caramel in the centre of each ball.

Chocolate Caramel Cookies

IMG_8179Mix in 2 tablespoons of Dutch cocoa and 2 tablespoons of dulce de leche or caramel spread into 1/3 of the dough; add a handful of dark or milk chocolate bits to the mixture.

Stem Ginger Cookies

IMG_8229Add 2 teaspoons of ground ginger to 1/3 of the dough. Finely chop a handful of stem ginger (about 10 pieces), or pulse in the food processor with the dough. Once you have formed the walnut sized balls, place a sliver of stem ginger on the top of each cookie.


Caramelised Figs


This recipe is based on something from Gordon Ramsay’s Ultimate Cookery Course. The caramelisation of the figs comes from creating a toffee syrup and adding butter and balsamic vinegar.


4 firm black figs – for 2 people or 1 very greedy person!

2 tbs Icing sugar

2 tbls balsamic vinegar

4 tbs caster sugar

20 gms butter, divided into knobs


Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C.

Place figs in a bowl and sprinkle with icing sugar. Drizzle over 1tablespoon of balsamic vinegar. Roll the figs in the icing sugar and balsamic to make sure they are well covered.

Melt the caster sugar in an oven proof dish or frying pan over a low heat. The sugar will melt and turn a deep caramel colour. Be careful not to stir the sugar as it will crystallize.

Add the knobs of butter, stirring carefully to amalgamate. Add the other tablespoon of balsamic and 1 tablespoon of water. Carefully taste – the sauce is hot – and add a little more vinegar if the sauce needs more piquancy, or a little more water if the sauce is too thick.

Add the figs and gently baste with the liquid.

Place the dish in the preheated oven for 15 minutes.

Baste the figs a couple of times during cooking.

Serve warm or at room temperature with thick cream. I like Jersey cream – it’s very thick and has a rich smooth taste.


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