On to the plate

Experimenting with flavours, colours and style of food served at our place


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Room for dessert?

Hello hello. I’m back from Auckland and thinking about what I have to pack tomorrow for my week-long trip to Sydney. Phew. Talk about a quick turn around at home.

Despite that I still found time today to make dessert. A dessert that involved white chocolate AND caramel. Two of my weaknesses.

White Chocolate Caramel Mousse Tart anyone?

White Chocolate Caramel Mousse Tart anyone?

During the week I’d made the Salted Caramel Sauce primarily for our Australian Practice Manager. I’d met Donna a few weeks ago when I was working out of the Melbourne office. This time it was her turn to visit us. Donna had mentioned her plans to make an apple pie this coming week and I immediately followed that up by saying it needed to be served with salted caramel sauce (and send her this link as suggestion for Apple Pie. The caramel sauce recipe is in there too). Making a dry caramel isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and my first two times were a flop. So I decided to make the caramel sauce making the full recipe and keeping half for us. Well Mr Fussy was keen that we have some too, so a full recipe it was.

Donna has two smaller jars of salted caramel sauce tucked under her arm, and we put our lot to use in a White Chocolate Caramel Mousse individual tarts. That’s a long title.

I had 3 individual tart cases left over from when I made another carmel tart recipe. The pasty is my favourite and the recipe is here. The caramel sauce is the one I always use, but I change the method somewhat.

Ready to make something wonderful happen

Ready to make something wonderful happen

Heat the cream so it’s just warm. Add the cream in 3 batches whisking between additions and making sure any clumps have re-melted. Return the caramel/cream mix to the heat and add in the butter and sea salt.  And Bob’s your uncle. In actual fact I whisk the castor sugar while it’s clumping and melting and yes I get some splashed up the side of the pot. But it all seems to melt back in once the cream is added. The cream makes the mix bubble up and at this point it seems to collect the little bits of melted sugar. At least for me it makes caramel a less fussy task and it doesn’t seem to make an ounce of difference to the caramel.

So the tart cases and the caramel had been pre-prepared. I just had to make the white chocolate mousse. I used this recipe again. It’s the same I used when making this year’s Valentine’s Dessert.

Glorious!

Glorious!

I added 3 egg yolks instead of the 2 in the recipe. I added an extra only because our eggs are smaller in New Zealand than in America. Three is a little more than 2 in America, but I don’t mind extra richness. To the white chocolate mousse (yet to have the whipped cream added) I spooned two very generous dessert spoons of caramel sauce. Once this had been mixed through, and loosened the white chocolate mix, I then added the whipped cream in two batches.

A slathering of Whittaker's 70% dark chocolate

A slathering of Whittaker’s 70% dark chocolate. Which made it impossible to cut into and necessary to pick up and eat by hand.

Then to up the ante, I added a layer of dark chocolate to the base of the tart cases before spooning in the mousse. It didn’t take much to fill up the 3 cases, especially when I had a generous layer of chocolate. I ended up filling 4, almost 5 ramekins with White Chocolate Caramel Mousse. Two of those went to Dad and Ruth (it was Dad’s birthday yesterday. No time to make anything for a nice afternoon tea this year), two for Mr Fussy and my MIL during my absence, and Natalie has the “almost” enough to call it dessert. I don’t think she has any plans to share the salted caramel sauce. I think that’s being snuck home without the inhabitants being any the wiser.

Mr Fussy's little tart. And proof cutting into the tart was an impossible task (notice the cut mark?)

Mr Fussy’s little tart. And proof cutting into the tart was an impossible task (notice the cut mark?)

There was a bit of chocolate left over so I put that into a piping bag while it was still melted. Then I warmed it back up tonight to flick around the plate (along with a little more caramel sauce). Then decided I’d be creative, or silly, depending on how you look at it, and pipe little messages on the plates.

Love the collection of colours and aromas from these spices and ingredients.

Love the collection of colours and aromas from these spices and ingredients.

Before dessert came a Moroccan casserole. Thanks for Alison providing me the recipe many months ago. I think this was the 3rd time I’ve made this. Each time it’s with beef. Tonight I decided to use white pepper, which is what the recipe calls for, but I’ve never had it, instead using cracked pepper. Boy oh boy. What a massive difference that one change in ingredients made. I liked it, but it sure added more heat to the meal.

Unlike usual, this time I served it with mashed spud. Mr Fussy often makes mashed spud but it tends to have a few lumps here and there (sometimes more than a few). I’d read a trick recently about how to make sure the mash is creamy. A quick Google and I found what I had remembered. The milk needed to be warmed up. I incorporated a few changes. I drained the potato and left the pot on the element so that the could dry out and the steam could escape. While that was happening I warmed up the milk and then added the butter to it. The warmth from the milk melted the butter. I used the stick whiz thingee with the mash attachment and mashed the potato as is and then began adding in the milk/butter mixture. The milk/butter mixture was added in 3 batches. Then the taste test and a bit more salt and cracked pepper was added. And we had the perfect creamy mash, just like that.

Ok, that’s the end of my little tid bits. And here’s hoping that all future mashed spud in this household will be just as creamy.

There’s enough spud and casserole left over that Mr Fussy and my MIL have a meal ready to go. In the meantime I’ll be making doing in an apartment and counting down until I return home. It’s another little milestone. Once I’m home it’ll be one more day of work and holiday time for 6 weeks. Excited much?!

First up is brunch at The Old Vicarage tomorrow morning. I wanted to do something nice with Mr Fussy before heading way and leaving him to manage everything at home alone. I’ll miss him.

The chocolate and white chocolate caramel mousse was just the right balance to make sure the mousse wasn't too sweet.

The hidden chocolate layer with the white chocolate caramel mousse was just the right balance.

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Individual Cheesecakes – 4 variations

Almost immediately after Christmas I got stuck into trialling different recipes and flavour variations for cheesecake.

Randall and Kade thought it would be nice for my sisters and I to help in this way toward their wedding. First we had to decide what to make as part of the dessert table. After a few suggestions we agreed on cheesecake and Randall and Kade were all for it.

Kade had wanted something fruity and fresh, there would be the infamous Denheath Custard Squares and their wedding cake (they wanted to make sure it was eaten), which was a chocolate cake, I suggested a few flavours:

  • Lemon (or Lime)
  • Caramel
  • Passionfruit
  • Raspberry

I have a great recipe for Lemon cheesecake, it was given to me by an ex-work colleague and I tinkered with it a bit. Cheesecake is not something  I make often, under normal circumstances. Mr Fussy doesn’t like cheesecake, but apparently this recipe he’s all for. The base is made with crushed up Gingernut biscuits. I knew this recipe would work. Just don’t use vanilla bean paste in the sour cream topping, it makes it look like you’ve got dirt in it!

Original Lemon cheesecake

Vanilla bean paste in the topping doesn’t make it look all that appealing, even though it tastes fab.

Next up was caramel. I started out with one recipe but felt it was quite bland and after the cheesecake was cold the caramel flavour seemed to have disappeared. I decided to forgo that recipe and not waste good caramel sauce as an ingredient.

raspberry - the works

Could we finally be onto a winner? Trial number 4.

The raspberry version has been tweaked several time (4 to be exact). First the base in the original recipe wasn’t to anyone’s liking. Then we had the dilemma of what if we couldn’t source fresh raspberries in February. I tweaked the recipe several times trying to get a raspberry flavour without the raspberries. It was proving to be quite difficult. The best I could do was to add some Lorann Raspberry Emulsion to the cheesecake mixture. Up until this point I’d incorporated some raspberry puree in the mixture but that didn’t do much, I tried adding some to the top and swirling it in, but again it wasn’t strong enough to be detectable. So the raspberry emulsion was what we agreed to, with the use of Macadamia and White Chocolate biscuits as the base. As luck would have it I managed to get 3 punnets of fresh raspberries from Raeward Fresh Thursday night. We were in luck! Not that I had one on the night, but it had fresh raspberries on the base, the raspberry emulsion and the puree dotted on the top which I used a toothpick through to get a heart shape.

Early caramel trial

The salted caramel sauce finally made the caramel cheesecake taste like caramel.

Lastly it was the passionfruit, this one didn’t really require any tweaking from the original trial. In the trial I took some of the mixture and used the passionfruit freeze dried powder to then spoon on a layer to the top. Mum said initially she couldn’t tell what flavour it was, but then it all came together. The only change I made was to use the powder in all the mixture, not just as a topping to the cheesecake.

We served the caramel with a dollop of salted caramel sauce and the passionfruit had a splash of passionfruit pulp.

I had a taste of the caramel and passionfruit on the night, but I scored (two) lemon cheesecake for myself and Mr Fussy. Hopefully others enjoyed the selection too.

Original raspberry cheesecake

First variation with fresh raspberries in the mix and served with berries lightly dusted with icing sugar. We just didn’t want so much fuss on the night.

Funnily enough I’ve just browsed the Denheath website and looked at the cheesecakes they offer. We had the same sort of flavours. We must be thinking on the same lines, or just know what seems to appeal to the masses when it comes to flavour combinations.

The lemon cheesecake is one that I’ve had on my mind to share on the blog for some months now.

The recipes below will make 20 individual cheesecakes in a standard cupcake liner.

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Gingernut, chocolate wheaten and the shortbread base none of us liked

All recipes have a baked base using various crushed biscuit combinations.

Gingernut base:

  • 200gm Griffins Gingernut biscuits
  • 50gm melted butter
  • 2 Tablespoon white sugar

Chocolate Wheaten base:

  • 200gm Griffins Chocolate Wheaten biscuits
  • 50gm melted butter

White Chocolate and Macadamia base:

  • 200gm Select brand White Chocolate & Macadamia biscuits
  • 50gm melted butter

Heat the oven to 180degrees Celsius

Crush the biscuits in a food processor, or bash the living daylights out of the biscuits using a rolling pin.

Mix the melted butter (and sugar if you’re using gingernuts) with the crushed biscuits until all the biscuits have been moistened by the butter.

Line a muffin tin with cupcake cases.

Take 1 tablespoon of base per cupcake liner

Gently tap the mound of crushed biscuits to help them spread to the edge of the cupcake liner. Use the lid of a milk bottle or a tart press or a coffee tamper to flatten the biscuits into a uniformed disc.

Bake the bases for 5 minutes and then leave in the tin to cool while you make the cheesecake mixture.

Lemon Gingernut Cheesecake

(20 cupcakes is 2/3 of this recipe, or use this full recipe in a 10” springform round tin)

Ingredients:

Base –

  • 1 packet of Griffins Gingernuts
  • 75gm butter – cooled
  • ¼ cup sugar

Cheesecake –

  • 750gm cream cheese (3 packets) – room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs (size 8)
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • zest of 1 lemon

Topping –

  • 1 cup Sour cream (250gm tub) – room temperature
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 Tbs vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • zest of 1 lemon

Instructions:

Base –

  • Heat the oven to 180deg C.
  • Melt the butter and allow it to cool.
  • Crush gingernuts.
  • In a bowl mix together gingernuts, butter and sugar.
  • Line the base of a 10” loose bottom tin with tinfoil and spread the mixture into the base.
  • Bake for 8-10 minutes until the base is lightly brown.

Cheesecake –

  • Turn down the oven to 140deg C.
  • Mix the sugar and zest together to get the lemon oils for added flavour.
  • In a medium bowl beat the cream cheese for about 30 seconds to loosen it.
  • Add the vanilla then gradually beat in the sugar (3 additions) scraping the bowl as needed. During the last addition of sugar mix in the lemon juice.
  • Beat in the eggs one at a time scraping the bowl after each addition.
  • Pour/spread the cheesecake mixture on the cooled base and bake for 45 – 50 minutes or until the centre is just jiggly when the tin is tapped.
  • Cool for an hour before adding the topping.

Topping –

  • Combine the sugar and lemon zest together.
  • Mix the sugar with the sour cream, vanilla and salt.
  • Pour the topping over the cooled cheesecake and leave the cheesecake in the pan, on a rack, to cool completely before unmoulding onto a plate.
  • Cover and refrigerate the cheesecake for a minimum 3 hours, preferably overnight.
Creamy velvety cheesecake

Beautiful and creamy. The perfect amount of zing from the lemon juice and zest.

Basic Cheesecake recipe

(makes 20 individual cheesecakes)

Ingredients

  • 500gm Cream cheese – room temperature
  • 130gm Sour cream – room temperature
  • 135gm castor sugar (see notes on variation for Caramel)
  • 1 scant teaspoon Vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs – size 7, room temperature
  • Zest of 1 lemon – optional

Method

  • Heat the oven to 140deg Celsius.
  • Cut the cream cheese blocks into cubes.
  • Place the cream cheese into a bowl and using an electric hand mixer beat the cream cheese so that it’s softened.
  • Add the sour cream and beat to incorporate it.
  • Add the castor sugar, or brown sugar for a caramel flavour, and vanilla extract, and zest if using, and beat until the mixture is smooth and fluffy.  ** Add the passionfruit powder **
  • Add the eggs one at a time, beat only until incorporated – do not over mix.
  • Spoon mixture into the prepared (with bases) cupcake cases. The mixture should fill the cupcake papers leaving a gap about 5-7mm from the top.
  • Gently jiggle the cake pan to help smooth the cheesecake, then give a couple of gentle taps to help release any air bubbles.
  • Place the tin into the centre of the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes. The cheesecakes are baked when the middle still jiggles when you lightly tap the side of the tin.
  • Remove the tin from the oven and leave to cool to room temperature before removing the cheesecakes. The cheesecakes will firm up while cooling.
  • Refrigerate overnight, or at least 4 hours.

Variations:

  • Passionfruit – add freeze dried passionfruit powder – begin with 2 tablespoons and taste. Add more depending on taste.
  • Caramel, replace the castor sugar for 110gm brown sugar  * Make sure there’s no lumps in the brown sugar, squash them with the back of a spoon before adding to the mixture
puree hearts

Third attempt. Using freeze dried raspberries in half the batch. First attempt at the raspberry puree “hearts”.

I used the same basic cheesecake mixture for the raspberry variation, with the zest of 1/2 lemon and the addition of 3 teaspoons of Lorann raspberry emulsion, and as I mentioned I put some fresh raspberries on the base and piped small dots of raspberry puree on the top more for decorative purposes since the flavour seems to lessen during baking.

I was a bit over raspberry, so when it came to the 3rd attempt to perfect the raspberry variation I decided to mix things up and make some lime and roast strawberries and add a drop or two of balsamic vinegar. They weren’t to be serious contenders, just to add a bit of spice to life (give me a break from raspberry – a berry I don’t like).

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Lime and roasted strawberry with balsamic vinegar for fun.

Thanks Natalie and her family for being good sports and taking lots and lots of cheesecakes off me, Mum too for being a taste tester, and Mr Fussy who is a fan of raspberries and a very honest judge of flavour, for steering things in the right direction. My MIL also obliged helping us eat the many cheesecakes that were served up and took a keen interest in what was developing.

I think I’ve had my fill of cheesecake for the year, however I’ve got lots of left over base ingredients. Thank goodness for that new fridge/freezer. I’ll make Mr Fussy the Lemon Cheesecake again, before June which is the best by date on the two packages of cream cheese I have left. Thank goodness cream cheese has a long shelf life.


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Caramel Fudge Brownies “best by”

This weekend, well today, Saturday, has been about using ingredients that has a best by date that’s just passed.


Slice of caramel fudge brownie

A few weeks ago I came across this recipe for Caramel Fudge Brownies. I’m not even sure why I spotted it. But I posted it to my Facebook page and I wasn’t the only one ooh’ing and ahh’ing over the picture.

I couldn’t make it the coming weekend as I was out at Cake & Sugar Art learning how to make the Magnolia and double blossom sugar flowers. Then last weekend I had the Halloween Cake. But here we are. And using a packet of Jersey Caramels that had a date of 2 October 2013. Ahh, what’s a couple of weeks between friends? It’s just a best by, not an expiry date.

My plan had been to make these last night, yeah I know, what’s one more day. I’ve caught Mr Fussy’s “man flu”. A flu that’s confused about gender. Anyway I just couldn’t bring myself to bake anything. Not even when it contained caramel. Yes, the flu really had a grip on me. Although I had a shocking night (awake from 11:30pm – 2am – don’t worry, I put in an online order to a NZ Cake Decorating store, it wasn’t a complete waste) I woke feeling not too bad, my face didn’t hurt and my headache had subsided. I was very thankful because Mum and I were off to She Chocolat for a Chocoalte Tour. It was an education in the history of Chocolate, with a good number of tastings. I never would have thought I’d enjoy a pretzel dipped in a chocolate fondue. I don’t like pretzels.

Anyhoo, I got home this afternoon after a nice morning followed by lunch with Mum, then a quick (and expensive) stop at Mercato who were holding their annual sale, to get stuck into catching up on my baking agenda.

Brownie batter

The recipe says to put the brownie mixture into a Jelly Roll tin. Do you know what that is? It’s not a common term we use (unless my head is in the clouds) in New Zealand. I had to Google what the dimensions are. And what do you know? There’s a variety of different sizes. Yeah, not very helpful when the recipe doesn’t state the size of the pan. My pan, which I think might have been called a Jelly Roll tin at Stevens, is 24 x 36cm, give or take a few mm.

The ingredients filled the pan to the top which was a problem for adding a layer of gooey caramel and chocolate.

Once the brownie had baked I then cut the brownie into a size that fit into my expandable square tin (with higher sides) and a loaf pan. It also left me with about 7mm of Brownie the entire length of the Jelly Roll tin and enough at the end to slice 6 square of brownie which is now in the freezer waiting for another occasion to make an appearance and be dressed up with vanilla ice cream, chocolate fudge sauce and berries.

1310_Caramel and Chocolate layers-2-2

Now it was safe to add the caramel.

We don’t get Kraft Caramels here in New Zealand, but we can buy Jersey Caramels. This morning before heading out I melted them down in the microwave. I had full power for 30 seconds and then mixed, not that there was much melting going on. Then a further 20 seconds and they were nicely melted and with a bit of mixing because one organised lump. When I got home they had hardened into the lump. At least it gave me confidence that the caramel would set once it had cooled.

To the tin of condensed milk, with the Jersey Caramels I added the last of the caramel sauce I’d made some weeks ago. The caramel had a distinct Jersey Caramel flavour to it. Mr Fussy said it was like a MacIntosh Toffee lolly, specifically an Egg and Cream flavour.

Because I had packed some of the brownie up for the freezer, and we’d gobbled up the little narrow slither from the edge, I decided to cut back on the chocolate layer ingredients. I made only 2/3rds of the chocolate.

I had worried that the chocolate would be too hard to smooth over the caramel with the caramel layer and brownie having been cold from sitting in the fridge, but it was fine. I was able to pick up the loaf pan and tilt it to move the chocolate into the corners. I used an offset pallet knife for the expandable square tin.

After about 15 or so minutes I tested to see if the chocolate had set. You can actually see my print in the corner. It had set but it wasn’t solid hard.

I cut the loaf pan caramel fudge brownie up into 6 pieces. Really it could have been cut a bit smaller because it was becoming difficult to eat with 3 mouthfuls to go.

1310_Caramel Fudge Brownie-2-2

I used Whittaker’s 62% chocolate for the chocolate layer, it wasn’t bitter, but I think it overshadowed the caramel. Still my preference would have been to use a homemade caramel. The brownie base was also not a rich intense chocolate flavour since it only used cocoa powder, but it has a nice soft texture, I guess it is fudgy.

I’ve got a whole expandable tin of this left, and I’m pretty sure I know some family members only too happy to give this recipe the taste test. And I’ll be glad not to have any temptation left in the house. I’ve already spent the day sampling a lot of chocolate in different forms.  I’m pretty much done now, and very satisfied with my lot.

As for Mr Fussy, as I was allocating portions of the caramel fudge brownie, he was scraping the gooey caramel from the baking paper and happily licking his fingers. But he too found the last few mouthfuls were too much. So smaller pieces would be my advice.

Dessert

 


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Averie’s Chocolate Chip and Chunk Cookies

Mr Fussy and I got to baking cookies on Saturday. It was fun working together in the kitchen.


Ingredients

While I got all the ingredients together Mr Fussy was reading the recipe to me, then he got to chopping the chocolate.

A few weeks back, as we were travelling home from Akaroa, Mr Fussy said he would make his Vanilla Biscuits, but that didn’t happen.

I can’t remember what happened last weekend (other than I was away for ½ of each day) but the biscuits still weren’t baked.

I’m not even sure why I suggested chocolate chip cookies, but I did, and so the idea of the vanilla biscuits were put aside in favour of the cookies.

Cookie logs

We toyed with splitting the cookie dough and putting chocolate bits in one half and the Caramel bits in the other. In the end we added a family block of dark chocolate caramel and the left over half block of 62% Whittaker’s chocolate that I’d used in the ganache for the Halloween cake I had baked (and was still decorating). We did however roll the dough into logs and leave them in the fridge for an hour.

I’ve made a few different varieties of chocolate chip cookies and none of them spun my wheels so I went straight for Averie’s blog because she has so many cookie recipes it’ll leave you breathless.

In the end I picked out the Chocolate Chip and Chunk Cookie recipe, and oddly enough, this is the cover photo/webpage for my Pinterest Cookie/Biscuit board.

Ready for baking

I was toying up with make Mel’s cookies, but the 1 egg and 1 egg yolk sort of put me off.

I made Averie’s recipe using all standard flour as Averie has taken to doing herself.

The cookies turned out great. The caramel of course oozed out. Even after taking the tray out of the oven the caramel that had spilt out was still bubbling away on the tray.

Can you believe we waited over 2 hours before we had one? I can tell you I was so tempted to have one moments after these were taken from the tray to the cooling rack. Thank goodness I had something else to occupy my mind else I would have.

I love biting into a cookie long after it’s taken from the oven to find that the chocolate chunks are still soft.

Pre and Post Baking

I suspect these cookies will only be best for 5 or so days, that’s plenty long enough or Mr Fussy to have consumed the majority of them with his work lunches, but if there happens to be any left beyond that, I’ll just whack them in the oven again for a few minutes and they’ll crisp up again and be just as good as they were 2 hours after baking.

If I’m lucky there will be one left for me to have next weekend. This one has my name of it!

Choccy goodness


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Mini Apple Bundt Cakes

I had arranged for my sister and her family, and ourselves, to visit Dad on Father’s Day. We would bring afternoon tea.

I’ve been itching to use my mini Bundt tin ever since it arrived from the States some months ago. Dad loves apples and I wanted to make him a no-fuss cake. I came across a recipe for a Fresh Apple Cake (scroll down a bit as it’s not the first recipe) baked in a Bundt tin. I decided I’d convert the recipe to mini Bundt cakes.

Mini Bundt Cake

Mr Fussy doesn’t like nuts. I think we all know that by now. The original recipe called for a cup of walnuts. Yum. I decided to divide the batter, half with walnuts, the other half raisins.

I’m a real fan of the jumbo raisins you can find in the New World stores. Sadly I ate all the raisins myself, even though I specifically bought them for Dad’s afternoon tea. I had to buy more.

Juicy plump raisins

I love New World St Martins. It has so many different foods that I can’t find in our usual Countdown supermarket. Having said that, the baking aisle is sadly lacking, except this visit I spied every colour of Bakel’s fondant (I might have done a little dance) for the same price as the white. I’ve been buying coloured fondant online at $10+ (and postage) and all the fondant is just over $6 at the supermarket. Oh, and I found Stem Ginger, so now you can easily make the Double Ginger Cake I posted while on holiday in Nelson.

Filling the pan

The mini Bundt tin holds roughly 3/4 cup each. I wasn’t sure how full to fill them since the tin design went right to the top. I didn’t know how much the batter would rise, and whether I’d end up with all the design. But it worked out well. One cake was a smidge too full and closed up at the top (what becomes the bottom). I wanted that one. I was going to serve the cakes with the caramel sauce I’d made the previous weekend. I was looking forward to the well filling with gooey caramel and then flowing out as soon as I dug a fork in.

Caramel spilling out

The batter was sufficient for making 12 mini Bundt cakes, easily. I might have had enough to make 1 muffin, had I not kept spooning the left over mixture into my mouth 😉

The next photo down was really to show the difference in the crispness of the design between greasing the pan with CK Pan Grease and using Wilton Baking spray. There was a more noticeable difference with how much of the cake was left behind in the pan. I had to use a toothbrush to get into all the nooks and crannies. The Wilton Baking spray did a much better job. The cakes on the left are with the Wilton spray and those on the right with the CK pan grease. I think if you stare hard enough you’ll notice the difference.

Back to the cakes, There’s another ingredient Mr Fussy doesn’t like, but just a mere 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon. Honestly, I couldn’t tell it was there, and nor could Mr Fussy. If you like your apple cakes spicy, add more, quite a bit more. This makes a very generous cake.

Saturday evening we split one of the minis between the 3 of us. Then Mr Fussy and I shared one at Dad’s. Everyone was keen to have the raisin variety, and because Mr Fussy doesn’t like nuts I’d not yet tried the walnut.

We ended up bringing 4 home with us. As if we’d not had enough to eat at afternoon tea, we had a whole one each, leaving one for my BIL.

More definition

And I finally got a walnut one, in fact that’s the only variety that was left. Mr Fussy has not died eating it. He doesn’t have any allergic reactions to nuts, he just doesn’t like them. But he didn’t turn down another cake either.

My preference was the apple and walnut variety. The apple flavour seemed more pronounced. Though I wonder if I equally divided the chopped apple between the two bowls. And I might have put a few more than 1/2 cup of walnuts into the half batter. But I think that was all counteracted  by the more than generous drizzle of caramel sauce. We were so close to finishing the jar that I made it so.

Pouring caramel sauce

PS In case you’re wondering, I’m writing this post during lunchtime. All I need to do is drop in the photos (which I don’t have with me) and publish. This is how much I need WLW in my life, I installed it on my work computer so I didn’t have to use the in-built WordPress editor. Yeah I know, it makes no difference to you 😉


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The sort of day a warm pudding makes perfect sense

The weather has been foul in Christchurch. We haven’t had snow (at sea level at least) to disrupt the normal work day routine, but it’s been bitterly cold with sleety showers and winds so strong our wee Fiesta was being buffeted about as I was driving to a client’s site.

It was the sort of day a warm pudding was forefront of my mind. These sorts of days make me feel like going home and making a fudgy pudding, or a self-saucing pudding. But I wanted neither of those things. I wanted something that would compliment the caramel sauce I needed to use up, and that would work perfectly with the half bottle of cream I had in the fridge.

Th makings of a winter pud

I knew Mr Fussy would love a ginger pudding, and when talking to Josie about it I commented on using the fresh ginger I had, and Josie said a microwaved pudding would be really quick to make. That lead to a discussion about how little our microwave is used to baking/cooking.

I did a quick search online and picked a random recipe. And what do you know? It used both fresh ginger and was a microwaved pudding. Not that I microwaved it.

The recipe was for 2 servings, but with 3 of us I decided to double the recipe. Talking of servings of 2, it really bugs me how difficult it is to buy pre-packed meat for 3. It’s not easy. In fact it’s often downright impossible and it stresses me out. Seriously.

The recipe said to add all the ingredients to a food processor, excluding the egg, and blend it all together, then add the egg and blend until mixed.

I went the old-fashioned way. And I mean really old-fashioned way. I hand beat it. It was quite the workout. But it did make me nice and toasty warm with all that vigorous activity.

Pudding bliss

And there we have it. Fresh ginger peeled and grated (with the zester) right from the freezer. And baked in a cake tin because all the “pudding” type cookware is in the garage and I preferred to stay indoors. I have my limits Smile

Oh, another thing in the favour of this recipe is that it’s a recipe by Chef Ainsley Harriott. He’s really funny. Have you seen his cooking shows?

Ginger Sponge Pudding adapted slightly from the BBC

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Heat the oven to 175 degrees Celsius.
  • Prepare a suitable pudding bowl or cake tin (remember I doubled the recipe. I used my 6” cake tin) by greasing the sides with extra butter.
  • In a small measuring cup mix the egg and milk together and set aside.
  • Cream the sugar and butter, then add in the Golden Syrup and beat until it’s mixed in.
  • Add the grated ginger and mix into the batter.
  • Add the flour and begin to mix in, then add half the egg/milk mixture and gently mix to incorporate.
  • Finally add the remaining half egg/milk liquid and gently mix into the batter.
  • Spoon the batter in the prepared pudding/cake tin.
  • Bake for 30 minutes, checking every few minutes from 20 minutes.
  • The sponge is cooked when a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  • Wait 5 minute before serving.

My Notes:

I used a wooden spoon and man-power to mix the batter but feel free to use a food processor as described in the original recipe, or hand beaters. Whatever you prefer.

I baked the sponge in a 6” cake tin for 20 minutes, then rotated the pan and continued to cook until it reached 30 minutes. This was for double the recipe.

Using a bigger dish means the cooking time will be less due to more surface area being exposed during baking.

Pudding caramel and cream

The pudding is really light, not just in colour (on the inside, I swear it’s not as dark as it looks in the photo above), but in texture. The edges had a nice crispness to it. Mr Fussy said “nom”. That’s all, just took a first bite and said “nom”. This is his serve and all he wanted was caramel sauce over it. He doesn’t like cream.

Nom

The ginger is fabulous. I knew when the pudding was almost baked because the smell from the oven said GINGER. I love the smell of ginger, and I love the flavour too but not nearly as much as Mr Fussy and he clearly gave this pudding his approval. So it’s just as well there’s plenty for tomorrow.

As for me, well I’ll take whatever’s going.

Ginger pud with lashings of cream and caramel sauce

Disappointingly the caramel was overpowered by the ginger and I could only taste it in one mouthful. Never mind, it’s still a very noble way to use up the sauce.


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Not looking forward to the power bill

Our last power bill arrived on Friday. It’s the highest bill we’ve ever had. And it’s not yet Winter.

But did that stop me from using the oven this week?  No.

I’ve got so much to share. It’s almost frightening all the things that have happened this weekend I want to jot down and share on my blog.

Thank goodness this time next week we’ll be in Melbourne and I’ll have a week of shopping, relaxing, and catching up on my posts.

But in the meantime here’s a preview of what I’ve got tucked away ready to give a blow by blow account of.

Let’s start at the very beginning. That would be Friday. This is a progression of the weekend from start to finish.

Friday

I first made Lemon Curd because I wanted to have the lemon curd with soft whipped cream on the waffles I was making.

So following the curd came making the waffle recipe which used yeast and had an overnight rest.

We had waffles for breakfast both Saturday and today.

Start to finish - Waffles

This morning I more of less had dessert rather than breakfast. I used the caramel sauce I made a few weekends ago with chopped up banana. Oh my goodness. What a terrific way to start off the day!

But we’re not yet finished with Friday.

If there was one thing I really wanted to put to bed this weekend it was finding out if I could make an Angry Bird fondant topper. But to begin with I needed to make the cake balls. I used a 9” strawberry cake layer I had in the freezer with some left over strawberry frosting and I was good to get rolling.

Cake balls

Alastair at work, one of our Account Managers, was kind enough to buy me some liquid egg whites which he’d seen on one of his many trips to Wellington. What he’s doing in the supermarket I’m unsure of, I must ask. Anyway the egg whites were best by 1 June and we’re away so there’ll be no baking being done for a week. What intrigued me was the note on the back of the packet saying “not suitable for whipping”. So I had to experiment, right?

Liquid Egg Meringues

These actually might have been great had I not burnt them. I gave the best to my sister with a bottle of cream and some frozen berries and suggested she crumble them up and serve it for pudding.

Ok, Friday done and dusted.

Saturday

Other than the waffles for breakfast, that was it until mid afternoon. I was off to Mercato, meeting mum there, to learn about tempering chocolate, making ganache and understanding all sorts of things about chocolate. I had a thoroughly good time, learnt a ton of new information, sampled everything that was made (and there was a lot!) and handed around (cocoa nibs, and all sorts of Valrhona goodies). I then proceeded to buy a bunch of stuff in preparation for home made pizzas for Sunday.

I had a late start arriving home after 3pm but got onto a Lemon Meringue Tart. I got the recipe from a French blog, but the lemon cream is the same I have previously made. Both the dough and the lemon cream needed to be made a day ahead.

Stages of a Lemon Meringue Tart

And tonight I made Italian Meringue. I’ve never made it before. And I learnt heaps.

Made Saturday, and completed Sunday. I started the day with more or less dessert, and ended the day the same way.

I’m not yet done with Saturday, because I decided to get cracking and try to make an Angry Bird character.

The first Angry Bird I made wasn’t particularly “angry” looking. So with a bit of feedback from Facebook I re-made the red bird on Sunday. Oops, I just realised I deleted all the photos I took of it because it wasn’t right.

Here’s a few photos I took on my phone.

Red bird, first attempt

To round out the evening I made yet another batch of meringues. This was using rehydrated egg albumen. I was almost certain it wouldn’t work and secretly glad that I would be able to just wash the bowl and sit down. But oh no. It actually worked. Not wanting to over cook the meringues this time I turned the temperature down and checked the meringues every 10 minutes from 40 minutes on. And guess what, they seemed dry at around 80 minutes and this morning when I touched them, they’re tacky. Geez.

Egg Albumen Meringues

Sunday

Well there was a repeat of Waffles. They were so light and crisp.

Then it was onto rolling the dough for the tart, letting it sit in the fridge for 3 hour before baking, then filling it an hour before adding the meringue. And as I mentioned, making an Italian meringue. It’s the type of meringue you make for a Bombe Alaska. It’s cooked when the boiling liquid syrup is slowly added to the egg whites. But it’s not all that attractive stark white. And without a little butane torch I popped it under the grill for to brown.

During the morning I made 2 other characters from Angry Birds and repeated the red bird. I reckon I proved I can make these, well at least these 3 characters.

Angry Bird characters

I made a quick lunch using puff pasty filled with a nice Cranberry chutney, shaved ham and Cheshire cheese. It’s a recipe I used before and have blogged about in the past. Really simple, quick and easy and full of flavour and texture.

Following lunch I made a quick batch of Mr Fussy’s Vanilla cookies. He almost begged me not to make cupcakes. He’s over them. And I don’t blame him at all. So am I, but I didn’t have any last week, and only 1 the week before. It’s been left to Mr Fussy to eat them ALL. But he loves his Vanilla cookies and they’re a breeze to make.

So along with the cookies I made the pizza dough. This is a recipe I’ve made several times now and love. This time I used Wholewheat flour as the original recipe calls for but in the past I’ve used Semolina flour instead.

V Cookies and Pizza Dough

Then I had just enough time to prep pumpkin and kumara for roasting, along with another clove of garlic and get all the meat and other veggies cut ready for making pizzas. There’s quite a lot of work to do all that.

I found a little bit of time to tend to my worm farm, fold laundry and trim some trees before getting properly stuck into making dinner, and that meringue.

So I owe anyone here reading a few detailed posts about all of this, and for me too. I refer back to my own recipes when I want to remake something.

 

It’s been a very adventurous weekend, I’m exhausted but I have thoroughly enjoyed myself. Thank goodness there’s just one week of work before a holiday. At this pace I’m going to wear myself (and the oven) out.