Monday, July 20, 2015

Chocolate peant butter cookies

I've had a bag of Reese's peanut pieces sitting in the baking cupboard after my husband saw it in the supermarkets, bought it, and demanded I make something using it!  So who doesn't love chocolate and peanut butter?! One of the best combinations ever! It was so hard to decide what to make, cookies, cake, brownies, the options are endless! So in the end, I decided on these chocolate peanut butter cookies!  
I came across the recipe here and adapted it to also include peanut butter in the cookie itself.  Unfortunately, these cookies weren't chewy as I was hoping they would be, rather a bit crumbly.  But when you have such great flavour combinations, I didn't mind that they were on the crumbly side.
I've mentioned previously that I love baking cookies as the recipes are all so simple, something little girl can get involved in.  So while I made these chocolate peanut butter cookies, I reserved some of the cookie dough so that little girl could decorate them with her M&Ms, something she absolutely loves to do! Here is a pic of how her cookies turned out.  They remind me of little colourful toadstools!
So these cookies are the first of many chocolate peanut butter creations to come! I can't wait to try my hand at something else using this flavour combination! Reese's peanut butter is the best!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Ginger cake with lemon and pistachio icing

 I've recently been craving something gingery sweet and as soon as the craving started, I stumbled across Neil Perry's ginger cake with lemon and pistachio icing (see recipe).  I had to make this cake and quick! It was as if the stars were all aligned as not only did I stumble across the recipe, but I actually had time to make it to satisfy my craving! Little girl was feeling under the weather and ended up going for a 3 hour nap one afternoon allowing me precious hours to bake!
This cake is really delicious.  It's like a cake version of a gingerbread cookie! It's so light and moist and has a wonderfully intense ginger kick (as it calls for freshly grated ginger).  Perfect to satisfy a ginger craving!  Unfortunately, I didn't have enough fresh ginger at hand (having used most of it in the tofu fa I'd made the night before) so I substituted the rest with ginger powder (lots and lots and lots of it).  
Lemon frosting on its own is the best, but paired with the ginger cake, it was wonderful! I could give or take on the chopped pistachios, they definitely do add texture and is a lovely complement but the real hero is the cake itself and the frosting!
I can't rave enough about this cake!  If you're as much of a fan of gingery sweets as I am, then this cake is definitely worthwhile making!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Rhubarb and pear twist

I love baking on a cold winter's day! There's nothing more homely than sitting by the heater indulging in a warm comforting dessert while outside is wet, windy and miserable!

It's been such a huge lapse between bakes and without going into the detail of why, let's just say this this bake was much needed for the soul and felt great!
So I don't know how to describe what this latest creation is other than it's some kind of a take on a strudel.  Instead of an apple filling in layers of filo pastry or puff pastry, I made a rhubarb, pear and candied orange filling wrapped in some kind of dough that I shaped to look a bit like a strudel which I then finally drizzled with a rhubarb glaze.  In short, let's just call this a rhubarb and pear twist!

I love the tartness of rhubarb which when combined with the pears, gives the twist just the right amount of sweetness without going overboard.  And I'm loving the rhubarb glaze! The colour of the glaze is 100% natural all coming from the rhubarb and it has such a wonderful taste as well.  It's definitely opened my eyes to the colours you can achieve all by using natural ingredients.  
This twist was really lovely particularly with a scoop of ice cream for extra indulgence!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Raspberry Meringue Cake

It was my birthday a week ago today!  I know its a little unusual for the birthday girl to make her own birthday cake but I couldn't resist! I've had this image in my head for some time now and I was waiting for an occasion to be able to recreate it.  So when C said he wanted to make a birthday cake for me, I wouldn't allow it!
If I could be any cake in the world, this would be it! I don't know why, it just would be! I guess it's because its pink and topped with pretty little pink meringue drops and fresh raspberries.  It's no secret I love any dessert that is pink with raspberries!
The cake is topped with a dark chocolate ganache which I never anticipated to have given me so much grief! I've made ganache numerous times, so I couldn't figure out why it took me 3 attempts to get it right, and even then, I failed to get it right! I later discovered it was a combination of factors - using 70% dark chocolate and pouring it over a chilled cake, which turned the ganache into some kind of gluggy mess.  

When I had this cake in mind, I was hoping to be able to show off the ganache dripping beautifully and elegantly down the sides.  Instead, I ended up with big chunky, clumpy, uneven chocolate drips. I had no choice but to try cover up the ganache so I covered the cake using meringue drops, fresh raspberries, strawberries and crushed meringue!
This cake is made of a simple sponge cake followed by layers of raspberry buttercream and crushed meringe. I am a huge fan of 70% dark chocolate, the bitterness of the chocolate together with the tartness of the fresh berries really offset the sweetness of the buttercream and meringue. 
So with another birthday gone, I'm feeling no less wiser, just a whole lot older! Happy birthday to me! :)


Sunday, March 1, 2015

Chocolate chip cookies

Early last week, I was having a super-mum moment.  This rarely, if ever, occurs.  There was no TV, no Peppa Pig or ABC4Kids, no iphone or tablet to play with, it was a day of pure human interaction filled with educational yet fun activities for a preschooler! 

Baking these cookies was a brilliant diversion from "guess what is in this bag" game and the "let's sort objects according to the letter it begins with" game.  An activity that I could genuinely enjoy!

Cookies are brilliant for a preschooler to get involved with.  Anyone who knows me knows that I can be very "serious" [replace with "uptight"] when I engage in a task, and as a result, I can turn something that would normally be fun, into something well, un-fun.  Accuracy is crucial in baking and 3 year olds don't really have a knack for being accurate and precise in anything they do so this activity could have potentially turned very sour!

However, the brilliant thing about cookies is that whatever goes and accuracy is irrelevant.  Little girl and I were working like two old cooks in the kitchen, it was fantastic team work! I'm pleased to say that with some supervision, these cookies were 100% little girl's doing. Okay, I did round out the little dough balls so that the cookies would come out as near perfectly round as possible.

Nothing beats freshly baked cookies and the smell was divine! We used 70% dark chocolate which with the hint of bitterness, offset the sweet biscuit base.  I prefer soft and chewy cookies, so I took these out of the oven a little bit early before they got too crunchy.  Delicious!
Little girl definitely enjoys baking and there will be much more baking adventures for the two of us yet!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Cookies

I hadn't planned on doing any more baking after my last post.  In fact, I had already signed off for 2014 signalling my intention to do no further baking! So these gingerbread cookies were a very last minute creation when I suddenly remembered that we hadn't organised any presents for little girl's teachers at her childcare centre.   
While we could have ducked to the shops and bought chocolates, I decided it would be fun to involve little girl in the baking of these gingerbread cookies.  While these were the ones I decorated, there were plenty for little girl to decorate and she opted for more simple decoration, preferring to dot every cookie full of M&M's!
Little girl was proud as punch as she hand delivered the cookies to her teachers today!

And with plenty left over, some of these cookies will also be left out for Santa tonight!
And apologies for yet another gingerbread related post.  I'm sure this will be the last gingerbread creation for 2014!
 With it being Christmas eve and all, I will end it here! Have a merry Christmas everyone!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Gingerbread Sleigh

Still riding on the high of my gingerbread carousel, I decided to make one more Christmas inspired gingerbread creation - a gingerbread sleigh...with reindeers! 

There was no way I was "free styling" reindeers so I bought a cookie cutter for those! Cookie cutters make everything so much easier!
Putting together the gingerbread sleigh proved to be surprisingly just as difficult as the carousel, something I didn't anticipate.  I think this is because there was no room to hide errors in the sleigh given the simplicity of the structure, whereas the carousel had so many facets to it, you could hide imperfections!

The front of the sleigh

It was an exercise of will power to stay away from colouring the sleigh pink! But I did it! However, I unintentionally ended up colouring the sleigh an equally feminine colour as pink, Tiffany blue! Oh well, a leopard cannot change its spots!
An overview of the sleigh including chair!
Back of the sleigh

Given the amount of gingerbread dough I made, I had plenty spare to make two sets of santa sleighs, which is exactly what I ended up doing (actually, I had enough to make another carousel if I really wanted to but let's be honest, who has that amount of energy)!  So there you have it, two lots of santa sleighs! Cray Cray!
Having two lots of gingerbread sleighs and a gingerbread carousel is bordering on excessive wouldn't you think? Not so, according to little girl who has been eagerly eying these. I have managed to convince her that she doesn't need two sleighs so one will be given away to one lucky customer of our cafe!
It's been a busy month of baking! Aside from gingerbread, I've also been making ginger spiced reindeer macarons to sell at the cafe leading up to Christmas! It truly is the silly season! 

Signing off for 2014, have a merry Christmas everyone and thank you for reading this blog! xx