Thursday, February 25

Caramel crumb bars

caramel crumb bars

I've always loved caramel slice but it is so sweet that I can't eat more than a single piece. This slice is similar to caramel slice in taste but far more buttery and less rich. I can easily eat a few pieces of this without feeling ill.

This slice is an perfect for sharing as it makes quite a large amount. Normally I halve, or even quarter, all my recipe because otherwise they make too much for me. With this one, I decided to just go ahead and make the whole amount. I don't regret it but I did need friends to share it with. Baking is a good reason to keep friends and co-workers around.

The slice itself is pretty delicate, so photographing it was a challenge. The crumbs aren't stuck to the top, rather they just sit on it. The slightest knock and crumbs end up everywhere. It's worth it though!

caramel crumb bars

Caramel crumb bars

(adapted from The Modern Baker by Nick Malgieri)
makes 25


225g butter, softened
110g (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
350g (2 1/2 cups) flour
35g (1/4 cup) flour, extra


60g (4 tablespoons) butter
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
50g (1/4 cup) brown sugar
395g (14 ounces) sweetened, condensed milk

Set the rack to the lowest level of the oven and preheat it to 180°C (350°F). Grease and line the base and sides of a 23x33x5 cm (9x13x2 inch) pan.

For the dough, beat the butter, sugar, and salt with an electric mixer until soft and light, 2-3 minutes. Add the vanilla.

On the lowest speed, beat in flour. Scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula and continue to mix until the dough is smooth, and the flour has been absorbed.

Scrape 3/4 of the into the prepared pan. Use the palm of your hand to press the dough down evenly, without compressing it too much. Chill the dough. Work the extra 35g (1/4 cup) flour into the remaining dough with your finger tips to form 3mm to 6 mm (1/8" to 1/4") crumbs. Set aside.

For the filling, combine butter, corn syrup, brown sugar, and sweetened condensed milk into a medium saucepan. Bring mixture to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Allow the mixture to boil gently, stirring regularly, until it starts to thicken and darken slightly, about 10 minutes. Pour into a stainless-steel bowl to cool for 5 minutes.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and scrape the cooled filling onto the dough. Using a small offset spatula to spread the filling evenly. Scatter the crumb mixture on top.

Bake for 30 minutes or until the filling is bubbling and a deep caramel colour and the crumb topping is a light golden colour.

Cool in the pan for 15-20 minutes, until it is lukewarm. Lift the slab of baking dough out of the pan and on to a cutting board before it has completely cooled. Cut into 5cm (2") squares. Place slices on a wire rack to cool completely.

Monday, February 22

Chocolate mousse with orange syrup


Right, this is ridiculous. I've made yet another chocolate dessert, why, why, why. Why do all my desserts always turn out chocolate filled?

This dessert was brought on by a conversation about mousse with my boyfriend. He loves mousse, in fact his favourite childhood memory involves mousse from Pizza Hut. years later,Pizza Hut all you can eat bars have since vanished and so have their mousse. Anyway, it turned out he'd never had homemade mousse yet alone made it. So we set about making it, he insisted it be chocolate mousse like the stuff that came "out of the mousse machine".

Mousse is incredibly easy to make. There are only a few ingredients and even less steps. There's not a whole lot that can go wrong and I'm sure, even if it doesn't quite work out, it'd still taste delicious.


Chocolate mousse with orange syrup

(adapted from Delicious Magazine, March 2010)
Serves 4-6

Chocolate mousse

150g dark chocolate, 60%-70%
1 egg
30ml cognac
250ml (1 cup) single cream

Place the chocolate in a heat proof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water until the chocolate melts. Once melted, stir gently until smooth.

Place the eggs in a separate heat proof bowl over a pan of gently simmering water. Using a balloon whisk, whick until light for 2-3 minutes or until light and fluffy. Gently whisk the chocolate mixture into the eggs and stir in the cognac. Remove from heat and set aside.

Using electric beaters, whip the cream to soft peaks. Gently fold into chocolate mixture. Pour Mousse into four 185 ml custard cups, cover, and chill for at least 1 hour.

Orange syrup

110g (1/2 cup) caster sugar
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon corn flour
Juice of half an orange
1 1/2 oranges, segmented

Place the caster sugar and water in a small suacepan over a low heat. Stir until sugar dissolves. Increase heat ro medium and cook, without stirring for 2-3 minutes.

Dissolve the cornflour in the juice, stirring to form a smooth paste. Return sugar syrup to low heat and stir in the cornflour mixture, then stir in the orange segments To serve, pout over mousse.

Monday, February 15

Jam sandwiched sugar cookies


Firstly - wow, a recipe that's not from Donna Hay!

Secondly - I feel like a bit of a traitor calling these sugar cookies because we don't have cookies here in Australia but I'm not sure what the Australian equivalent is. I'm not even sure if there is one, sugar biscuits just sounds wrong.

I'm in a weird place when it comes to calling biscuits cookies, I'm reading far too many American blogs and cooking books that the word "cookie" is slipping into my every day vocabulary. It just pops out from time to time, for no apparent reason. Cookies and biscuits are decidedly different things yet what I would ordinarily call biscuits are readily becoming cookies. I try to correct myself from time to time but, honestly, what's the point? It's amazing to watch my language change right before my eyes (or ears?)


Anyway, what these are called isn't all that important. What is important is the taste of things and these biscuits are delicious. They're incredibly buttery and light. They're actually lighter than my usual biscuits so they do have a tendency to crumble if treated roughly.

The filling of jam adds extra dimension and texture to biscuit. I'm not really a fan of plain ol' iced sugar cookies but the center of jam makes them quite delicious. I'm not a fan of overly sweet jams, so I chose one made with grape juice rather than glucose. The jam I chose isn't the prettiest raspberry jam I've ever seen but it is one of the tastiest.

Jam sandwiched sugar cookies

(adapted from The Art & Soul of Baking)
makes 15-25 biscuits depending on the size of your cutter

320g (2 1/4 cups) all-purpose flour
150g (3/4 cup) sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
225g (8 ounces) butter, cold and cut into 1 cm (1/2") pieces
2 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons sugar, extra
Jam of choice
Icing of choice

Place the flour, sugar, and salt in a bowl and beat on a low speed for 10 seconds. Add the butter and mix on low until the butter is broken into tiny pieces. Increase the speed to medium-low and beat until the mixture starts to form small clumps about the size of peas.

In a small bowl whisk together the egg yolks and vanilla. Add the egg mixture to the butter mixture and blend on medium-low until the dough forms several large clumps. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead several times, to bring it together. Divide the dough in two and shape into a disk about 1cm thick (1/2"). Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes, or until cold but still pliable.

Place one disk between two sheets of baking paper and roll to 1/4cm (1/8") thick. If the dough cracks, it may be too cold. Let it sit for a couple of minutes to warm up and then try again. If you get wrinkles if your paper, peel it off, smooth them out, and continue to roll. Flip the dough over and check the other side.

Once the dough is rolled, place it on a baking tray and transfer to the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough.

Remove the baking paper for both sides of one piece the rolled out dough and place on work surface. Line a baking tray with a new sheet of paper. Use cookie cutters to cut out desired shapes. For sandwich biscuits cut out the initial shape and then transfer half the biscuits to the baking tray spacing them about 4 cm (1 1/2") apart. Cut a hole in the remaining biscuits using a smaller cutter and remove the center. Transfer to baking trays. Repeat with remaining sheet of dough. Child the cut shapes while the oven preheats.

Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F) and position an oven rack in the centre. Sprinkle the biscuits with the reserved 2 tablespoons of sugar just before they go in the oven. Bake on pan at a time, rotating the sheet halfway through if required, for 10-13 minutes. Transfer to rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining Sheet.

Once cooled, spread the solid biscuits with jam. Dust the cut out biscuits with icing sugar and carefully place them on the jam.

Ice if desired, I used this recipe from I Am Baker but you could use any recipe you choose.

Tuesday, February 9

Self -saucing chocolate puddings


For someone who isn't a choco-holic I sure make a lot of chocolate desserts, I think it's because you can count on chocolate desserts to taste nice and be fulfilling.

This is another recipe from Simple Essentials: Chocolate by Donna Hay, I've made a fair few recipes from this book and they're yet to disappoint. Donna Hay is wonderful because, on the whole, you can count on the recipes to be nice. They're fairly basic and not always utterly amazing but on the whole they're just plain nice. Nice is good.

This recipe is no exception to the niceness of Donna Hay. As usual I've made a few alterations; I halved the original recipe, added more sauce, and changed the baking dishes entirely. I also used rice malt rather than malted milk powder; it's cheaper. The sauce did overflow a bit, so be sure to place the ramekins on a baking tray.


Self saucing pudding is one of my favourite dishes. it's very homely and this one is no exception. There's a nice mix of textures in it, partly helped by the small ramekins. The top is quite crunchy, the centre cake-y, and the bottom is super saucy. Delicious.

Self -saucing chocolate puddings

(adapted from Simple Essentials: Chocolate by Donna Hay)
makes four 250ml ramekins

65g butter
138g granulated sugar
1 egg
128g plain flour
1 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
30g cocoa powder
1/4 cup almond meal
3 teaspoons rice malt
1/2 cup milk


45g brown sugar
1 tablespoon rice malt
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 cup water, freshly boiled

Preheat oven to 170°C (340°F), grease four 250ml deep ramekins.

Place the butter and sugar in a bowl and beat until pale. Add the egg and beat until smooth.

Sift the flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder over the butter mixture. Add the almond meal, rice malt, and milk. Beat until smooth. Spoon the pudding mixture into four ramekins.

To make the sauce, place the sugar, malt, and cocoa into a bowl, pour over the boiling water and stir to combine. Spoon over the pudding mixture Bake for 25-30 minutes or until well risen and cooked when tested if a skewer. Serve immediately.

Thursday, February 4

Flourless chocolate cupcakes with raspberry syrup


Long time no update, I suppose life sometimes gets in the way of baking, and by life I mean holidays. So no complaints there. There's nothing like a holiday away from home to cheer you up, though flourless chocolate cake comes close.

Back from holidays means back to work, so cupcakes are definitely appreciated as a pick me up. These cakes are deliciously bite size. They're large enough to be satisfying but small enough that you don't feel guilty going back for seconds. They're quite rich but not too the point that it's unbearable. They smell deliciously like chocolate.

I halved the recipe as most recipes tend to make too much for two people. I also made the cakes in smaller tins as the original made six Texas muffin sized cakes which seemed way to big for me. I ended up with ten mini cakes - though I probably should have filled each hole slightly so the cakes would be taller and fewer. Be wary of my baking times with this recipe, as my oven is quite inaccurate. You should be fine if you keep at eye on the cakes whilst they bake.


The original recipe called for chocolate glaze to top the cake. If you're a choco-holic this is a great suggestion but I'm not - so I substituted raspberry syrup for the topping instead. Chocolate and raspberry is a match made in heaven!

Flourless chocolate cupcakes with raspberry syrup

Flourless chocolate cupcakes

(adapted from Simple Essentials: Chocolate by Donna Hay)
makes 10 cupcakes

100g dark chocolate, chopped
80g butter
3 eggs, separated
85g almond meal
85g white sugar

Preheat oven to 170°C (340°F), grease a 16 cup, 75ml (1/3cup) muffin pan or a 12 cup 125ml (1/2 cup) pan if you don't have a 75ml one.

Place the butter and chocolate in a small saucepan and stir, over a low heat, until chocolate is melted and smooth. Allow to cool slightly, then stir in the egg yolks, almond meal, and 2/3 of the sugar. Set aside.

Place the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add the remaining sugar and beat until glossy. Fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture.

Spoon the mixture into 10 of the holes in the muffin tin. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean and cakes are set. Remove cupcakes from the oven and cool for 10 minutes in tins, remove cupcakes from tins and allow to cool on a wire rack. When throughly cooled, serve with raspberry syrup.

Raspberry syrup

110g (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
125ml (1/2 cup) water
1 cup raspberries, frozen or fresh

Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan and stir over a low heat until sugar dissolves. Add raspberries and bring mixture to the boil. Stir raspberries to break them up. Boil, without stirring, for 5 minutes or until mixture has thickened.

Strain raspberries into a bowl though a fine sieve. Use the back of a spoon to force remaining raspberry mixture though. Discard the seeds Serve over cupcakes.