Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

Here is a quick recap of the '12 Baking Days of Christmas'...

On the first day of Christmas - Jam Cookies

On the second day of Christmas - Fruit Mince Pies

On the third day of Christmas - Iced Lemon Cookies

On the fourth day of Christmas - Gingerbread House

On the fifth day of Christmas - Fruit Mince Crumble Cake

On the sixth day of Christmas - Florentines

On the seventh day of Christmas - Peppermint Bark

On the eighth day of Christmas - White Rocky Road

On the ninth day of Christmas - White Christmas

On the tenth day of Christmas - Christmas Wreaths

On the eleventh day of Christmas - Chocolate Puddings

On the twelfth day of Christmas - Rum and Raisin Truffles

And with that I say goodbye - until next year! I am taking a short break and will be back with more recipes and more of Clive in the new year.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

On the twelfth day of Christmas (Rum and Raisin Truffles)

One more sleep until Christmas people - is everyone ready for Santa? Have you got the cookies and milk ready? Don't forget the carrots for the reindeer!

I think we are all ready to go, we have prepared our desserts (chocolate cheesecake, ice-cream sandwiches and some fruit mince pies), got all the ingredients for a great BBQ, put the presents under the tree and stuffed the stockings. So yes I think we are good to go.

I am going to post a round up of the 12 Baking Days of Christmas tomorrow, but in the mean time here is the last recipe in the series - rum and raisin truffles. Very easy to make, extremely decadent and again they make great gifts. Enjoy!

Rum and Raisin Truffles (unknown source)
Makes approximately 45 (I made mine larger so got about 25)

120g raisins
75g flaked almonds, toasted and chopped
1/3 cup rum
400g dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup thickened cream
300g dark chocolate, melted
30g copha
60g white chocolate, melted
1/2 tsp vegetable oil
1 tsp cocoa powder
  1. Combine raisins and rum in a small saucepan over a medium heat, stir until simmering. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. Combine 400g of dark chocolate and cream in a heatproof bowl over simmering water. Stir occasionally until melted. Remove from heat. Stir in raisin mixture and 1/2 the chopped almonds. Refrigerate for about 2 hours or until firm.
  3. Take truffle mixture and from 15 bite sized balls, place on a lined baking tray. Roll each ball in remaining chopped almonds, gently pressing almonds to adhere.
  4. Roll slightly smaller sized balls and place on another lined tray. Place in freezer for 20 minutes, or until firm.
  5. Melt 300g dark chocolate, add copha and stir until smooth. Take off heat. Insert a bamboo skewer into ball and dip into chocolate to cover. Gently tap on side of bowl to remove excess. Place on tray, then repeat with remaining balls. Allow to set at room temperature.
  6. Combine melted white chocolate and oil. Drizzle over half the remaining truffles. Allow to set. Before serving, lightly dust remaining truffles with cocoa.

4 out of 5 reindeers!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

On the eleventh day of Christmas (Chocolate Puddings)

Sorry for being absent of late! if I haven't told you already Emma (my beautiful big sister) has come back to Australia for Christmas, all the way from New York. So as you can imagine there has been a lot of catch up going on - especially since Em hadn't yet met Zoe, not that you could tell that now - since Zoe and Em are now best friends - lots of hugs and kisses are going on in this household. And I love it. So things are going to be a bit quiet on the blogging front for the next month - but I will try post at least a few times a week. And of course I have to finish my '12 Baking Days of Christmas' project.

I think the eleventh day of Christmas may in fact be the most awesome day - these chocolate pudding truffles are sooo delicious, they look incredibly cute and they are super easy to make! So give these a go, they make great gifts for friends and family - as long as you don't eat them all yourself first!

Chocolate Puddings (from Recipes+ - December 2008)
Makes 12 (I made mine smaller to get 24 instead)

1 cup dried apricots
1/2 cup raisins
2 tbsp orange juice (I omitted this)
375g dark chocolate, melted
3 cups plain cake crumbs (I used light fruit cake instead and 500g of it)
80g white chocolate, melted
1/3 cup red glace cherries, chopped (I just halved mine instead)
  1. Process apricots, raisins and orange juice until finely chopped.
  2. In a large bowl combine the fruit mixture, cake crumbs and half the melted dark chocolate. Shape mixture into 24 balls.
  3. Coat each ball in the remaining dark chocolate and leave to set.
  4. Drizzle the top of each ball with white chocolate and top with glace cherry. Leave to set.

And for something different you can instead coat each ball in white chocolate and then sprinkle with Christmas sprinkles, very festive...

5 out of 5 reindeers!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Cake Slice - White Chocolate Cake or should I say cupcakes!

This month The Cake Slice Bakers decided to make a white chocolate layer cake, which is just perfect for Christmas in my opinion. The recipe calls for either 3 x 8" cake tins or 2 x 9" cake tins, and guess what? I only have 2 cake tins and they are both 6". So I headed out to the local supply store to get some 8" tins only to discover that they were $12 each!!! Ouch! Way too much money for me at the moment, so I decided to make cupcakes instead.

I have to say this cake was not what I expected. The cake was moist and light in texture, but I could barely taste the white chocolate. The icing on the other hand was great a delicious combination of cream cheese and white chocolate.

White Chocolate Cupcakes (adapted from Nancie McDermott)
Makes 30 cupcakes

For the cupcakes:

2 ½ cups cake flour, sifted
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
4 ounces white chocolate, chopped
½ cup boiling water
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups caster sugar
4 eggs, separated
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk

For the frosting:

6 ounces white chocolate, chopped
12 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
¾ tsp vanilla extract
3 cups icing sugar

Method for the cupcakes:
  1. Heat the oven to 180C and line 3 12-hole muffin trays with cupcake cases.
  2. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl, and stir with a fork to mix them well.
  3. Bring 3 inches of water to an active simmer in the bottom of a double boiler or a saucepan that will accommodate a medium heat proof bowl so that it sits snugly over the water. Melt the white chocolate in the top of the double boiler or in the bowl over the simmering water. Stir often, and then pour in the ½ cup of boiling water and stir to mix well. Remove from the heat.
  4. In a medium bowl, combine the butter and the sugar and beat with a mixed at medium speed to mix them together well. Add the egg yolks, one by one, beating each time to keep the mixture smooth. Add the white chocolate and the vanilla, and stir well to mix.
  5. Add about a third of the flour mixture, and then about half of the buttermilk, beating with a mixer at low speed just long enough after each addition to make the flour or buttermilk disappear. Mix in another third of the flour, remaining buttermilk and then the last of the flour.
  6. In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites at medium speed until they are foamy and opaque. Continue beating at high speed until they swell into thick, pillowy mounds and hold peaks that are stiff, but not fry. Add one third of the egg white mixture to the bowl of batter, and fold it in gently using a spatula. Add the remaining egg whites and continue to fold with a light touch, until the egg whites are blended in well, with only a few streaks showing.
  7. Transfer the batter to the cupcake cases and bake for approximately 20 minutes until the cupcakes are golden brown and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  8. Allow the cupcakes to cool.

Method for the White Chocolate Frosting:
  1. In the top of a double boiler or a heatproof bowl, melt the white chocolate over hot, not simmering, water, stirring often. Remove from the heat once melted and let cool to lukewarm.
  2. Transfer the melted white chocolate to a large bowl, and add the cream cheese, butter and vanilla. Beat together at medium speed until you have a smooth sauce.
  3. Add the confectioners sugar and beat until smooth.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

On the tenth day of Christmas (Christmas Wreaths)

Okay I did it again, I used another Better Homes and Gardens recipe, and guess what - it worked! I was so excited when this recipe just worked for me until it came to tasting the end result. Bland, bland and blander. There is absolutely nothing of interest with these cookies. They were going to be used as Christmas presents, but currently they are sitting in my rubbish bin with a whole heap of day old cat food on top of them - not so yummy.

So that is it - I am done with Better Homes and Gardens recipes! To be honest I can't believe it took me this long.

Let us hope that the next two (and final two) baking days of Christmas are more successful!

Christmas Wreaths (from Better Homes and Gardens - December 2007)
Makes 16

2 3/4 cups plain flour
3/4 cup icing sugar
125g unsalted butter, chilled, chopped
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
Extra flour, for kneading
Extra 1 cup icing sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla extract
About 1 tbsp hot water
  1. Preheat oven to 160C. Line 2 trays with baking paper.
  2. Put the flour and icing sugar in a food processor and process for 30 seconds. Add the butter and process until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the eggs and vanilla and process until the mixture forms into a ball.
  3. Gently knead dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth. Divide dough into 16 pieces. Divide each portion in half and roll each half into a 16cm long sausage shape. Twist the 2 sausages together and form into a circle shape. Press the edges together, forming a wreath. Put the wreath onto the prepared oven tray. Repeat with remaining portions of dough.
  4. Bake wreaths for 15-20 minutes or until firm to the touch and cooked underneath. Stand tray on a wire rack until biscuits are cool.
  5. Put extra icing sugar in a mixing bowl, make a well in the centre, add the vanilla and stir in enough water until a thin mixture is formed. Put biscuits in a single layer on a wire rack over a sheet of baking paper or a tray. Spoon a little of the icing over each biscuit. Leave for 30 minutes or until the icing is firm.

1 out of 5 reindeers!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Cupcake Hero - Snowball Cupcakes

It is that time again people - Cupcake Hero time! The magic ingredient for the challenge this month was coconut - and when I think of coconut I think of Golden Rough (yummy chocolates), Bounty, Cherry Ripe, Lamingtons, coconut cream pie and yummy marshmallows covered in tasty toasted coconut. So many good things have coconut involved in them!

I figured that since I am an Aussie gal that I should make some lamington themed cupcakes, and if you don't know what a lamington is then you are missing out. It is a sponge cake cut into cubes or rectangles, dipped in chocolate glaze icing and then coated in coconut. Yeah it is good.

So my plan was to have a chocolate cake (because I think that is tastier than a plain old sponge), topped with vanilla swiss meringue buttercream (SMBC) and then coated in chocolate and rolled in shredded coconut. And I did follow that plan, but what I ended up with was not a lamington cupcake, but a snowball cupcake (a snowball is a marshmallow coated in chocolate and then rolled in coconut). Seriously when you bite in to this cupcake it feels like you are eating a snowball and for that reason these cupcakes are completely and utterly awesome. I think I might be making these again!

Chocolate Cupcakes
Makes 20

50g cocoa powder
125ml boiling water
185g unsalted butter, softened
330g caster sugar
3 eggs
225g self-raising flour
75g plain flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
125ml milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 180C. Line two 12-hole muffin trays with cupcake cases.
  2. Mix cocoa and boiling water in a cup. Set aside to cool.
  3. Cream butter and sugar, add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  4. Sift flours with bicarbonate of soda and stir into butter mixture. Add milk and vanilla and mix well. Gradually add the cocoa and water, mixing constantly.
  5. Divide into cupcake cases and bake for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream

4 egg whites
270g caster sugar
250g unsalted butter, softened
1 tbsp vanilla extract
  1. Combine the egg whites and sugar in a heatproof bowl and whisk over a saucepan of simmering water until sugar is dissolved and the mixture is as hot as you can get it without the egg whites cooking. To test rub the mixture between your fingers and if you can't feel any sugar granules then it is ready.
  2. With the whisk attachment on your mixer whisk the egg white and sugar mixture on high speed until a stiff meringue is formed and the mix has cooled down to room temperature. This should take about 10 minutes.
  3. Now put the paddle attachment on your mixer and with the mixer on a low speed add a tablespoon of butter at a time. Once all the butter is incorporated turn the mixer up to medium speed and mix until the mixture is light and fluffy again. This should take about 4-6 minutes.
  4. Add the vanilla and mix on medium speed until combined.

To Finish

350g milk chocolate
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup shredded coconut (approximately)
  1. Melt the chocolate using a double boiler.
  2. Add the vegetable oil and stir until completely combined. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly. Put the coconut on a plate.
  3. Dip each cupcake in the chocolate mix and then roll in the coconut. Be careful - I had two cupcakes where the frosting came off completely in the chocolate - whoops!

Dipped in chocolate...

Rolled in shredded coconut...

Cut in half and ready to devour...


Monday, December 14, 2009

On the ninth day of Christmas (White Christmas)

Okay my Internet connection is ridiculously slow at the moment so this blog post has been a pain in the butt to put together. Just imagine waiting for 5 minutes for each web page to load up - yes it really is that bad right now. Hopefully this will only be a small glitch and then we will have "lightning" speeds again tomorrow. Well we better.

Anyway onto the baking - it seems Better Homes and Gardens has let me down again! This time the White Christmas recipe (a classic Christmas treat in Australia) was close to a diaster. The recipe calls for 250g of Copha (vegetable shortening) however I found that it was nowhere near enough to make the slice stick together. So my White Christmas quickly became slightly yellow Christmas because I needed to add some unsalted butter (since I didn't have any extra Copha) to make it all stick together. But in the end it tastes pretty good - if you don't mind Copha. It really is a love or hate kind of ingredient. I don't mind it, but Mat thinks it is like eating wax - yummo. So if you can handle Copha then this is another treat that is great to package up and give us a gift or to eat yourself. It was last up to 3 weeks in an airtight container in the fridge.

White Christmas (from Better Homes and Gardens - December 2009)

250g Copha (vegetable shortening), chopped (I would have 2 packs on hand just in case you need more to bind it together)
3 cups puffed-rice cereal
1 cup desiccated coconut
1 cup icing sugar
1 cup powdered milk
300g rose-flavoured Turkish delight, chopped (I used red glace cherries instead)
1/2 cup toasted almond flakes
  1. Line base and sides of a lamington tin with baking paper.
  2. Put Copha in a small heavy-based pan over a low heat and melt. Remove from heat and stand until lukewarm.
  3. Combine cereal, coconut, icing sugar, powdered milk, turkish delight and almonds and stir to combine.
  4. Make a well in the centre, add Copha and stir until mixture is uniformly moist and coated in Copha. Spoon into prepared tin and pack down with the back of a spoon. Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate for 2-3 hours or until firm.
  5. Remove White Christmas from the tin and cut into bars or squares.

3 out of 5 reindeers!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

On the eighth day of Christmas (White Rocky Road)

Okay so apologies in advance, there is a total lack of photos for this recipe - but it couldn't be helped! For one thing it was a very gray day so the lighting was not so good. Then Zoe didn't exactly want me to do any baking (picture tears, tantrums and a whole lot of carry on), so it was all very rushed. But hey I made it and it is delicious! Sweet white chocolate, chewy marshmallows, tasty almond nougat and crunchy almonds = awesome!

This is another treat that would be perfect to package up and give as a gift at Christmas time (or any time really). It will keep for up to 2 weeks in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.

So you know what to do, get in the kitchen and get baking :)

White Rocky Road (from Better Homes and Gardens - December 2007)
Makes about 20 pieces

2/3 cup slivered almonds
1 cup white marshmallows, roughly chopped
1/2 cup shredded coconut
150g vanilla almond nougat, roughly chopped
375g white chocolate, melted
  1. Line bottom and sides of 2 bar tins with baking paper.
  2. Combine almonds, marshmallows, coconut and nougat.
  3. Add the melted chocolate and stir to combine.
  4. Spoon mixture into prepared tins, cover with glad wrap and refrigerate for 2-3 hours or until firm.
  5. Turn out rocky road and cut each bar into pieces.

5 out of 5 reindeers!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Clive's Tips - Tip #3

So it has been a while - but Clive has been one very busy deer. You know, sending out his Christmas cards (for Rudolph, Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen - the whole gang), wrapping up presents, making a pudding for Christmas day - all that fun stuff. But now he is back with another tip for you all!

And this is a good one, have you ever come across a recipe that calls for cake flour? I mean, really, who ever has cake flour on hand? I know I certainly don't, and I also don't like forking out extra cash for a special flour that I barely use.

So what can you do instead? Well did you know that...

1 cup of cake flour = (1 cup of plain flour - 2 tablespoons) + 2 tablespoons of corn flour

Or in plain english - for each cup of cake flour that you require take one cup of plain (all-purpose) flour, remove 2 tablespoons of the flour and replace it with 2 tablespoons of corn flour (or corn starch).

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Cupcakes for a friend

One of my friends had an awesome birthday party on the weekend - lots of fantastic people, wonderful food and sing star of course. I was asked to bake the birthday boy some cupcakes for the event. So I baked 12 ferrero rocher cupcakes and 12 snickers cupcakes - mmm so much chocolatey goodness.

Well I should of baked more, because these babies were demolished in a matter of minutes and everyone loved them! It was great to see everyone enjoying my cupcakes - it put a huge smile on my face :)

Yay for cupcakes!

Monday, December 7, 2009

On the seventh day of Christmas (Peppermint Bark)

Can I just say that peppermint bark totally rocks my world!

How can something so simple taste so good?

Yummy white chocolate together with crunchy peppermint candy canes makes for an awesome Christmas treat. Also peppermint bark is a great sweet to give as gifts, easy to make and easy to love. Just pop a few pieces in a little plastic bag and then tie with some pretty Christmas ribbon - voila! You can also keep the peppermint bark in an air-tight container in the refrigerator if you want to make it in advance.

So what are you waiting for get yourself into the kitchen and make some now!

Peppermint Bark

500g white chocolate, melted
8 peppermint candy canes, crushed (just place the candy canes in a plastic bag and smack them around with a rolling pin - lots of fun!)
  1. Mix together the chocolate and candy canes.
  2. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper.
  3. Spread out the chocolate mixture on the baking trays. Allow to set.
  4. Break up the bark into whatever size pieces you want.

Yummy crushed candy canes...

Melted white chocolate...

Put the candy canes and chocolate together...

Mix it all up...

Spread it all out...

Let it set, and then break it up...

5 out of 5 reindeers!