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Tag Archives: sweet treats

Little Strawberry and Blood Orange Cakes

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9AE196DF-0973-4F12-819A-5DE78E2DBF1EI’m a big fan of the little cake – delicious cakes in different shapes and sizes, filled with fruit and drizzled with a little icing. Perfect for afternoon tea.

I’ve been experimenting with different recipes and baking molds with varying success. I’ve come to the conclusion that too much fruit in the filling can make the little cakes fragile and hard to turn out. It’s also imperative to grease the molds really, really well to stop the cakes sticking.

Here’s a recipe that works. It’s pretty easy as it’s all made in the food processor. You can use whatever fruit you like – I chose strawberries as they are plentiful at the moment, and blood oranges as they are in season. You could substitute the blood orange juice with ordinary orange juice or lemon juice if you like.

Ingredients

125ml canola oil
175g sugar
1 egg
140g natural yoghurt
Juice of 1/2 blood orange
1 tsp orange blossom water
1 tsp vanilla paste
150g self-raising flour
100g frozen strawberries
150g icing sugar
Juice of 1/2 blood orange
1 tsp orange blossom water

Or substitute the juice of 1/2 lemon for lemon icing

Method

Preheat oven to 170 degrees C fan forced. Grease and flour your chosen molds. Depending on the size of the molds, you should get 6-8 cakes from the mixture. I used mini bundt molds and some Nordic ware rose molds.

Put the oil, caster sugar and egg into a food processor and blitz until well combined. Add the yoghurt, blood orange juice, orange blossom water and vanilla paste, and blitz again. Add the flour and pulse to combine.

Finely chop the frozen strawberries and stir them through the mixture. Spoon the mixture into the molds.

Bake for about 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cakes comes out clean.

Leave to cool for 15 minutes, then carefully turn out onto a rack, easing the little cakes out of the molds trying not to break them!

To make the icing, put the icing sugar in a bowl with the blood orange juice and orange blossom water, or lemon juice. Stir to combine to make a smooth flowing icing. If the icu g is too runny, add more icing sugar, if it’s thick, add a little more juice.

Drizzle the icing over the cakes – letting it drip down the sides. Decorate with slices of fresh strawberry and blood orange. I scattered over some freeze dried strawberry powder too. Serve at afternoon tea or anytime you like!

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Macadamia White Chocolate Chunk Cookies

The search for cookie Nirvana continues! So close and yet so far…But the journey is so much fun and so yummy!

This recipe comes from Queen Fine Foods, makers of lots of lovely flavourings including classic vanilla. I’ve been baking with Queen vanilla all my life.

These cookies are right up there in my search. They are nice and fat and very satisfying. Readers of others of my cookie recipes may remember that I’m looking for substance not splat! That’s fat cookies not thin ones.

The baking powder gives these cookies a bit more substance, plus there seemed to be quite a lot of flour in the mix making it quite stiff.

And I really like the chunks of white chocolate in the cookies instead of chocolate bits.

Here is the recipe from Queen Fine Foods, with a couple of my tweaks:

Ingredients

125g butter at room temperature

110g brown sugar

55g caster sugar

2 tsp Queen Cinnamon Baking Paste

1 tsp Queen Natural Organic Vanilla Extract

1 large free-range egg

300g plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

180g white chocolate, coarsely chopped

120g macadamias, coarsely chopped*

Method

Preheat oven to 160 C degrees fan-forced. Line two large baking trays with baking paper.

Put the butter, sugar, Cinnamon Baking Paste and Vanilla Extract in a food processor and process until pale and creamy. Add the egg and blitz until well combined.

Add the flour and baking powder to the butter/sugar mixture and blitz for until just combined. Stir in the  chocolate and macadamias and mix with a big spoon. You don’t want to process the chocolate and macadamias as they will just go crumbly.

Roll slightly heaped tablespoonfuls of mixture into balls and place about a few centimetres  apart on each baking  tray. Use fingertips to flatten each ball to about 1cm thick and 6cm in diameter.

Bake in the preheated oven, swapping the trays halfway through baking, for 15-18 minutes or until lightly golden and cooked through. I prefer to cook each tray one at a time, I think it makes for a batter bake.

Cool cookies on the trays.

* I used salted macadamias. The original recipe says unsalted, but I’m a huge fan of salted nuts in cookies and trybakes.

Middle Eastern Rosewater and Yoghurt Cakes

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A fabulously easy recipe which makes lovely little Bundt cakes or one large one.

I was first introduced to this recipe in a few years back,  when a director colleague made them to celebrate her production of the Tales of the Arabian Nights.

The link to the original recipe from the taste website is here.

I can testify as to how easy they really are! I have recently broken my wrist, and I was able to make these cakes one-handed, that’s how easy they are! The original recipe doesn’t specify a food processor, but I made mine in a food processor to simplify the recipe, and the result was perfectly fine.

The recipe makes one large Bundt cake or 8 smaller Bundt cakes; you would get 10 -12 cup cakes from the recipe too.

Ingredients
1 cup (250ml) canola oil
1 1/2 cups (330g) caster sugar
2 eggs
1 cup (280g) natural yoghurt
2 cups (300g) self-raising flour, sifted
2 tbs rosewater
1 cup (150g) icing sugar, sifted
1-2 drops pink food colouring
Sugared rose petals for decoration or a little icing sugar

Method
Preheat oven to 170 degrees C fan forced. Grease and flour eight 1-cup (250ml) Bundt moulds or one large Bundt mould.

Place the oil, caster sugar and eggs in a bowl. Using electric beaters, beat until well combined. Stir in yoghurt, followed by flour, then stir in half the rosewater.
Put the mixture into the mould/s.

Bake for 30-35 minutes for the smaller cakes until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. For the larger cake, you will need 10 minutes longer. Check with a skewer for “doneness” after 35 minutes.

Cool slightly in moulds, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.

For icing, place icing sugar in a bowl with remaining rosewater and colouring. Use a wooden spoon to gradually stir in enough warm water (about 2-3 tsp), to make a smooth, flowing icing.

Turn out cooled cake/s, then drizzle with icing and decorate with sugared rose petals and fresh flowers. Or just dust with a little icing sugar.

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Blood Orange Mini Cakes

This is the “mini” cake version of a larger blood orange cake I make. See here for the recipe. I thought that little cakes might be good for an afternoon tea, so I have adapted the recipe to make lovely little jewel bright cakes which are just delicious. Nothing beats the flavour and colour of blood oranges!

Ingredients

Candied orange slices

2 blood oranges
200g caster sugar

Cakes

2 blood oranges
200g  caster sugar
125g very soft butter
2 free range eggs
½ tsp vanilla essence
125g plain flour
75g ground almonds
1 tsp baking powder

Method

Candied Blood Oranges
Finely slice 2 of the oranges, discarding the ends and keeping as many slices intact as you can.
Dissolve 200g of the sugar in 1/2 cup of water in a saucepan, and bring to the boil. Carefully place the orange slices in the syrup and simmer them until they are soft and sticky. Remove from the syrup using tongs. If the syrup is not reduced enough, cook it for a few minutes extra to thicken – but don’t let it go to toffee.

Cakes
Preheat oven to 170 degrees C.
Grease a mini cake tin which has removeable bottoms. Line the bases with circles of baking paper. If you don’t have a tin with removeable bottoms, you could use an ordinary muffin tin, but turning out the mini cakes will be tricky, as you need to keep the candied orange slices intact.
Chop 2 of the blood oranges in quarters and remove each end. Blitz in the food processor until reasonably finely chopped – there should still be some small chunks in the mixture.
Add the butter and 200g of the sugar and blitz in the food processor. The mixture will look very curdled! Add the eggs and vanilla and blitz again, the mixture will still look very curdled!
Gently fold in the flour and baking powder, making sure not to over mix or the cake with toughen. The cake mixture will now look “normal”.
Place the candied orange slices on the paper bases in the tin, as artistically as possible, remembering, as this is an upside down cake, that the bottoms become the top!
Place the batter over the top of the slices. Bake for 20- 25 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre of the cakes comes out clean. As these cakes are small, they may need a little less cooking, but they are also quite moist, so may need the allotted time. My advice is check after 15 minutes and keep checking thereafter.
Remove from the oven once cooked and cool the tin on a wire rack. When the cakes are cool (not cold), carefully remove each mini cake from the mold.  Even more carefully, take off the bases and peel away the baking paper.
Brush the mini cakes with the blood orange syrup and serve.

Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies

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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.

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Ingredients

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)

Method

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.

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Honeycomb

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Honeycomb is dead easy to make and much more delicious than the bought stuff. If you can use a cooking thermometer, and feel confident with adding bi-carbonate soda quickly to the mix, then home-made honeycomb is within your grasp.

It’s so versatile – use it to decorate cakes as I did on a couple of cakes I posted recently, make your own Violet Crumble Bars or just eat it on its own.

Ingredients

160g caster sugar
25g honey
62g  glucose
2 tsp bi-carbonate soda

Dark chocolate, melted, to decorate

Method
Combine sugar, honey, glucose and 60 mls water in a saucepan.  Cook till pale blonde  – 150 degrees C, using a cooking thermometer.
Remove from the heat, add bi-carbonate soda and beat vigorously for a few seconds.
Pour onto a tray lined with baking paper. When the honeycomb has hardened, break into different sized chunks, drizzle with melted dark chocolate or just leave unadorned.

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Muscat Cake with Raisins and Walnuts

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This is a versatile recipe as it can be made in different sizes, served as a dessert or just as a treat. It’s quite easy to make – another food processor mixture which I love! The most time consuming aspect is soaking the raisins beforehand.

Ingredients

1 cup of raisins

1/4 cup muscat

125g self-raising flour

125g caster sugar

125g butter

2 large free-range eggs

A handful of chopped walnuts

Muscat syrup

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 water

1/4 cup muscat

 

Method

Place the raisins into a bowl with the muscat and leave to soak for at least an hour.

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C. For small cakes, grease a muffin tin. Or, for a larger cake, grease a 20cm round cake tin. I happened to have a small square tin on hand, so I used that, as well filling the remainder of the mixture into muffin molds.

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Put all the ingredients except raisins, muscat and walnuts in a food processor and blitz till smooth. Carefully fold the raisins and muscat and then the walnuts into the mixture. If the mixture looks too wet or sloppy, add a tablespoon or two more of flour.

Spoon mixture into the muffin tin or cake tins. Tap lightly to settle the mixture.

Place the tin/s in the oven and bake for 20 minutes for muffins,  35-4o minutes for the round cake tin or until the muffin/cakes are cooked and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. I cannot be more  precise than this as the mixture has a lot of liquid and it’s difficult to judge exact cooking times.

Meanwhile, to make the syrup, put the sugar and water in a heavy based saucepan, stirring until dissolved. Then boil for 5 minutes without stirring or until the the syrup has reduced to stickiness but not toffee. Take off the heat and add the muscat.

Remove the muffins/cake from the oven and pierce all over with a skewer. Pour over the hot syrup.

Cool the muffins/cake in the tin/tins. Turn out carefully as the the cakes can be quite fragile with the infused syrup.

Serve with a scattering of raisins and walnuts in any left over syrup.

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