Whose tradition is it anyway? Bread for Toni, Lemon Myrtle and White Chocolate, Ice Cream Cake Recipe

Please don’t judge me. I have a confession to make… it is the middle of January and I still have half a panettone left.
It is difficult to explain but no one else in my family will eat it, and since I enjoy a slice only at breakfast, lightly toasted, with a cup of tea, there is really only so much one can get through!!

However, it seems, that I may actually be the odd one out here, as there is an entire school of thought that believes panettone is a an inedible passing food fad Are they right? How many of us are actually secretly hiding, unopened or rather large chunks of left over panettone, in the pantry or refrigerator? Or is yours just out in the open, (like mine) taking up square footage on the kitchen counter?

Am I perpetuating the myth that no one eats panettone?  Here is another great recipe idea for left over panettone!
Am I perpetuating the myth that no one eats panettone? Here is another great recipe idea for left over panettone!

I’m not convinced though, try telling the Italians that panettone is a passing fad! It seems that the original, flatter, and probably much smaller (aka manageable) version has been around since the fifteenth century. Hmmm, five hundred years give or take, it seems like a fairly strong trend to me!
All traditional festive foods have a legend or 10 behind them and my favourite story of the origins of this paradox, of slightly dry yet buttery fruit bread is this one;

“Does the name “Panettone” derive from Pan de Toni? According to tradition, Toni, lowly scullion at the service of Ludovico il Moro, was the inventor of one of the most typical sweets of the Italian tradition. On Christmas Eve, the chef of the Sforza burned the cake prepared for the feast. Toni decided to offer the mother yeast that he had kept aside for himself for Christmas. He kneaded it several times with flour, eggs, sugar, raisins and candied fruit, until obtaining a soft and leavened dough. The result was a great success and Ludovico il Moro called it Pan de Toni to honor its inventor.

Truly generous act on behalf of Toni I think, as I am sure that as a lowly scullion, to be able to make bread and have yeast available for his family, was not a trifling luxury. Secondly, it must have surely been a charitable master to not only name the sweet invention after Toni, but to not send the entire kitchen staff to the gallows for burning the Christmas cake in the first place!! Ha ha, I like it, and I pay due respect to all, who, when faced with dire need, fall back on creative dessert making!

The Italian cultural influence in Melbourne, which peaked with Italian migration back in the late 60’s and early ’70’s really helped give birth to Victoria’s current food and European style cafe culture. You can see the influence in our streets with the number of coffee shops per capita, it is truly astounding to most overseas visitors as to how many coffee machines they can spot in one quiet suburban shopping strip. You can also see it in the basis of so many ‘modern’ Australian menus which have strong Italian foundations. Who would have imagined that the home made antipasti found in the sandwiches of first generation migrant kids, school lunches, would now be routinely served up anywhere you care to eat? Everywhere from lowly cafeteries, to gourmet modern Australian eateries offer such a wide range of ethnically diverse dishes, that it would be strange not to see it on the menu!

It is so universally accepted that Italian cuisine is part if the strong foundation of modern Australian food, that when I recently asked an overseas visitor, “What is your favourite Australian dessert?”, they replied, ” Tiramisu.”

Looks a little like tartufo! How could you resist an Italian ice cream based dessert?
Looks a little like tartufo! How could you resist an Italian ice cream based dessert?

So, here is my recipe that I dedicate to ‘Toni’. I don’t actually know an Italian Toni, but to all my Italian friends, I hope you enjoy my Bliss, Australian take on, enjoying panettone well into January.

I am giving this blissed, ice cream cake, panettone, lovely citrus aromas by using lemon myrtle. Lemon myrtle has a flavour very, very much like lemon grass. It is green and woody with a good citrus kick to it but with none of the acid associated with lemons, so there is only a heightening of the already rich flavours in the panetonne. Lemon myrtle pairs so nicely with white chocolate that it only makes sense to marry them up and serve everything with ice cream! Since no one needs a reason for ice cream; ice cream is my choice for this new Aussie summer dessert. Heston’s recipe, from ‘Heston Blumenthal at home’, seems as good a place as any to start, given the unusual pairings and the nature of this creative dessert, so here is another great culinary genius’ recipe thrown into the Bliss grinder ;P. May be you can serve it for Australia Day? After all, who’s tradition is it anyway?

Panettone and Lemon Myrtle Ice Cream Cake
3 thick slices panettone, cut to the size of a small, loose bottomed cake tin (approximately 6 inch round)

Chocolate Ganache
150g 35% cocoa chocolate
1/2 cup whipping cream
Bring cream to boiling point. Add in chocolate, stir occassionally until melted and smooth. Leave to cool and thicken, stirring occassionally (at least an hour).

Lemon Myrtle White chocolate Ice Cream
180g Full Cream Milk
70g Caster Sugar
35g Milk Powder
420g Whipping Cream
90g White Chocolate
1 tspn Lemon Myrtle (or 1/2 tspn lemon zest, if you can’t get Aussie herbs!)

Heat milk, sugar and milk powder over medium heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved.
Add cream and bring to the boil.
Add white chocolate and lemon myrtle or lemon zest, stirring occasionally until chocolate has dissolved.
Cool thoroughly.
Turn on your ice cream machine and churn for about 45 minutes or until the beater can no longer turn.

Work quickly to;
Place a layer of panettone into the botom of your cake tin.
Spoon a layer of ice cream over it, and smooth over with the back of a spoon.
Place second layer of panettone over the ice cream and press down lightly.
Spoon a second layer of ice cream over the panettone, as above.
Place third layer of panettone over the ice cream and press down lightly.
Cover the cake tin in glad wrap and place in the freezer.

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When chocolate ganache has cooled to a runny fudge sauce consistency.
Take cake tin out of the freezer and run a knife around the inside of the tin to loosen the ice cream and turn the ‘cake’ out onto a plate.
Pour a generous amount of ganache over the top of the cake and smooth it out towards the edges allowing it to run over the sides of the cake.
Place ‘cake’ back into freezer.
Place remaining ganache into fridge to firm up (at least an hour)
Use a melon baller to scoop little balls of ice cream, and place them onto a cold tray and place ice cream balls back into freezer to firm up.
When ganache has become firm but not hard, use a small spoon or melon baller to scoop spoonfuls of ganache and roll them in Dutch cocoa powder, and keep them in the fridge.

When you are ready to serve, place mini ice cream scoops and ganache balls on top. The panettone is even drier, coming out of the freezer, but in combination with the ice cream and the ganache, it is a great textural compliment and the flavours work beautifully together!

Happy Birthday Australia xxx

Can you see the Southern Cross?  Happy Birthday Australia in all the finest, chocolatey, tradition :)
Can you see the Southern Cross? Happy Birthday Australia in all the finest, chocolatey, tradition 🙂

If you are enjoying being blissed, please drop me a comment with any feedback or comments!  I would love to know what you are enjoying most and what you would like to see more of.

Don’t forget to subscribe to my email list or follow me on wordpress to see all my latest ramblings 🙂

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It’s A Heatwave! Nectarine and Cape Mentelle Sauvignon Blanc Sorbet Recipe

No, it is getting to 'beyond a joke', hot.  Feel free to dive in and cool off!
No, it is getting to, ‘beyond a joke’, hot. Feel free to dive in and cool off!

OH MY GOODNESS!! 8PM AND IT IS STILL 40 DEGREES CENTIGRADE!!!!! AAAAAARRRGH :0

What are you supposed to do when it is too hot to move, and you have inherited a bag of rather large, rather ripe nectarines from your globetrotting brother, who has left to go to a hot country, so he can play on the beach with his kids…..huh, Thailand, really? Couldn’t he just be hot here?
Hee hee hee, it may be sour grapes from me, but we have definitely had very sweet nectarines this Summer here in Melbourne!

I could of course, eat them as the fruit that they are….but you wouldn’t know me very well.
I have actually been on a healthy lifestyle kick for ooooh, about 4 days, and honestly I am already reaching a very low ceiling, I just can’t stomach this much fruit on a daily basis!
I like it best in cake, in dessert, in smoothies. Please don’t get me wrong of course I like fruit, but I enjoy fruit in small quantities as a pleasure, I just can’t do it as a staple, like veggies.

Given that these truly soaring, Summer temperatures are staying for at least the next couple of days I needed to quickly turn these nectarines into something, other than smelly, mouldy, mush in a bag.
Healthy lifestyle choices, mean that ice cream is not an option (at least this week!)
Out door ambient temperatures, means that the oven is NOT being turned on.
How about a sorbet? Cooling, no fat, chock full of fruit, sounded like the perfect option 🙂

What do you do with too many ripe nectarines?  Make something blissfully indulgent of course!
What do you do with too many ripe nectarines? Make something blissfully indulgent of course!

David Lebowitz, the master of indulgent desserts gave me his recipe via google and I, of course, Bliss-ed it!

I had just enjoyed a couple of glasses of Cape Mentelle, a lovely Sauvignon Blanc from Margaret River, Western Australia, the other night with a nice little seafood pasta. Fantastic; fruity, peachy and nectarine, flavours but not overwhelmingly so. I enjoyed it more and more as the glass got lower, the flavour became as smooth as silk. I don’t generally love a very fruity white wine but, I only had to take the nectarines out of the bag to immediately think of the frosty bottle I had in the fridge!

You will notice I actually put in a bit of cocoa and nutmeg into my recipe, which may seem strange!? For a brighter looking sorbet, please feel free to leave them out, but for me the mix needed a bit of extra depth in flavour, and it just seemed so right. You do sacrifice a few points in the looks department, and although you can’t taste chocolate flavours straight out, I think it adds really nicely to the complexity of the flavours.

No, this is not a kid friendly recipe, but if you want a clean, simple recipe, please link through to David’s recipe, it is gorgeous!

The best of Summer in a wine glass!
The best of Summer in a frosty wine glass!

Heatwave Nectarine Sorbet

5-6 ripe nectarines (approximately 750g after pitting)

1/3 cup water

1/3 cup white wine (sav blanc is my choice!)

2/3 cup caster sugar

pinch nutmeg

1/2 tspn dutch cocoa

1/2 tspn lemon juice

Fresh raspberries

Mint leaves and tips

Pit the unpeeled nectarines and cut into rough chunks.

Place the water, wine and nectarines into a medium sized pan. Simmer over a medium heat for approximately 10 minutes, or until soft, stirring occassionally.

Stir in sugar, nutmeg, cocoa and lemon juice. Use a stick blender to puree until smooth.

Cool thoroughly ( I actually poured the mixture into the pot from my ice cream maker and put the whole thing in the freezer for an hour)

Place into your ice cream maker and churn for 45 min-1 hr. It will still need some time in the freezer, after you have finished churning, for it to firm up enough so that it can be scooped. I left mine overnight.

Mix fresh raspberries with mint leaves and place in the bottom of a dessert or wine glass. Scoop generous portions of sorbet to sit on top and decorate with a few mint tips!

Oh yes, I feel cooler already, and an extra splash of Sav Blanc will guarantee to put a little smile on my face 🙂

This is a great make ahead dessert for a warm summer evening, especially after a lovely grilled seafood meal, on a balcony by the sea….. aaaaaah, such is Summer 🙂

All anyone really needs is a little touch of Summer Bliss :) x
All anyone really needs is a little touch of Summer Bliss 🙂 x

One Post Rules Them All. But, why?

Classic BBC photo of the fairytale! Yep, I made Royal Pudding, watched the wedding on TV and toasted with a glass of champers 🍮 (amazing, no champagne emoticon but i found creme caramel!)
Classic BBC photo of the fairytale! Yep, I made Royal Pudding, watched the wedding on TV and toasted with a glass of champers 🍮 (amazing, no champagne emoticon but i found creme caramel!)

Now, you won’t believe me when i tell you this, in fact I still don’t quite believe it myself…

I know I don’t have the most readers in the blogosphere, but how can only one post be the most read, pretty much, every week since 2011? I mean, every week since 2011.
I understand that a little bit of Wills and Kate sells, but really?

Last year, I thought it was the ‘recipe’ portion of this post that was bringing in the views, but it isn’t! So guys, help me out here…what is it about my fabulous Royal Pudding aka Creme Caramel post that you love? What would you like to see more of?

Is it just that this is really Dessert Royalty and I will never surpass this post?

I don’t know, so please can you help me with a bit of feedback?
Please feel free to leave me a note too, although they will be moderated so don’t fret if you don’t see comments being posted straight away, I will be checking frequently!
Thanks muchly! I would love to know the magic behind this post of mine, so that I can sprinkle a bit more of that fairy dust, for all of our enjoyment, each time I write!

True blue bloods with the longevity of my Royal Pudding post! Long live the Queen
True blue bloods with the longevity of my Royal Pudding post! Long live the Queen.

Love, Sunshine and Bucks Fizz. Champagne Syrup, Orange Cake Recipe.

20131231-144611.jpg
Relaxing on New Year’s Eve with a family barbecue enjoying the sunshine and fresh air.
Looking back on 2013 there has been so much to be thankful for, and to celebrate before I move into the new and unknown.
Yes, my full time job, like many of us, eats into the time that I would rather spend on baking, creating and experiencing life, however without the balance, would I enjoy and look forward to these activities as much?

“And soon you will find
That there comes a time
For making your mind up.”
Bucks Fizz- Making your mind up lyrics

So, who doesn’t think about Eurovision 1981 when they are lying about in the sunshine enjoying a day trout fishing with the family? 😜
The last couple of years have been pivotal, in deciding to keep ‘Bliss’ a fun creative outlet instead of seeing it as a business. Certainly as 2013 comes to a close, it has definitely proven to be the right decision to make. As the great masters of philosophy Andy Hill and John Danter wrote in that history making song, I made my mind up!

Bottoms up then! No matter how nicely a glass of Veuve may go down at the stroke of 12. You know, a Yellowglen with orange juice, and a quick 80’s pop song may be all you need to put a smile on your face and cheer in 2014!

20131231-172358.jpg
No, really this look was awful even in 1981!!

Bliss Bucks Fizz Cake
250g butter
Grated rind of 1 medium sized orange
3/4 cup caster sugar
3 eggs separated
150g self raising flour
1 cup buttermilk
Champagne Syrup
2 cups champagne (sweet, fruity and cheap is perfect!)
1 cup caster sugar
Raspberries to decorate

Preheat oven to 170C.
Grease and lightly flour a deep 20cm round cake tin.
Cream butter, orange rind and sugar until light and fluffy.
Beat in egg yolks one at a time, until combined.
Stir in half the sifted flour and half the buttermilk.
Then stir in remaining flour and butter milk.
Beat egg whites in a small bowl until soft peaks form, fold lightly in to cake mixture in 2 batches.
Spread mixtures into prepared pans and bake for approximately 1 hr.
Stand for 5 minutes before turning onto wire rack.

Bring the champagne and sugar to a boil and reduce to about half.
Poke holes all over the top of the cake and drizzle over the syrup.
Let syrup absorb into the cake and keep adding as much syrup as you feel you want!

This is the basic recipe that I have been working on and as soon as I put together some nice photos over the next couple of weeks, I will revise it. It will take me the next two weeks to work on my presentation!!

Hope you all have fun, try something new, and love what you do in 2014! xx

Chocolate Ripple Cake with Roasted Wattle Seed and Creamed Honey Recipe

Entertaining season is on us with a vengeance! Are you ready? How many family and friends’ barbecues and Christmas parties are you attending over the next 2 weeks? How many pavlovas and chocolate ripple cakes will you see this December?

Bliss it up!  A new Aussie Classic as far as I am concerned.  If you are making a chocolate ripple cake this Christmas, try this truly Australian version, I promise you will love it!
Bliss it up! A new Aussie Classic as far as I am concerned. If you are making a chocolate ripple cake this Christmas, try this truly Australian version, I promise you will love it!

After posting on facebook, a photo of an American version of a chocolatey, cream cheese and cool whipped easy to assemble, mad indulgence, my sister reminded me of the importance of keeping it real! Let’s get back to our roots, let’s not forget a good old, Aussie, chocolate ripple cake; ‘Blissed’ of course!

Pavlov's dog...who doesn't need a cup of tea when they see this iconic logo?
Pavlov’s dog…who doesn’t need a cup of tea when they see this iconic logo?

Arnott’s was the biscuit company of our time. We grew up with great Aussie faves such as Chocolate Ripples, Tim Tam’s, Chocolate Royals (yes, I took inspiration for the name ‘Royale’ for one of my cakes from this!), Tic Tocs, Iced Vovo’s, Nice, Marie, oh my goodness….too many to name! This simple line says it all, “Arnott’s is more than a food company, it’s a piece of Australia’s history.”

You can’t go wrong with a chocolate ripple cake and I am sure it sounds like a good idea to most, but I bet you are feeling hesitant about reading ‘wattle seed’ in the title. Biscuits, check, creamed honey check, but seriously wattle seeds? When I tell you, you can get bottles of roasted wattle seed at the local supermarket, and after you have taken your first lick of whipped cream with wattle seed, believe me, we as a nation, will all be wondering what we were waiting for!

Showers of golden, wattle flowers, bane of hayfever sufferers, and muse to photographers and artists across the country :)
Showers of golden, wattle flowers, bane of hayfever sufferers, and muse to photographers and artists across the country 🙂

Wattle is far better known by everyone, within Australia and overseas for the incredible masses of golden flowers it produces and the great green and gold colours which are synonymous with our sporting teams. Wattle is our national flower, so for goodness sake, why isn’t roasted wattle seed our national flavouring? Chocolatey, coffee, and hazelnut aromas are all what Melbourne cafe culture is about!! You get instant heady mocha aromas when you open the jar and then when you add it to a few spoons of Beechworth creamed honey, which is not too sweet, bursting with honey flavour and the perfect consistency for whipping into cream …. yes, you will know you are in heaven 🙂 Add some Victorian strawberries for a really Bliss-ed up version of the old chocolate ripple cake, and a new Aussie classic has been born!

Australian Herbs, Roasted Wattle seed...my new best friend.  What a gorgeous, amazing bottle of magic!
Australian Herbs, Roasted Wattle seed…my new best friend. What an amazing little bottle of magic!
A match made in the lucky country.  Smooth and sweet creamed honey with amazing mocha flavoured roasted wattle seeds.  I am claiming this combo as a Bliss specialty!
A match made in the lucky country. Smooth and sweet creamed honey with incredible mocha flavoured roasted wattle seeds. I am claiming this combo as a Bliss specialty!

I have done a little bit of a sexy version, however, feel free to leave out the alcohol and pile up the layers in little dessert or cake cups with extra sliced up strawberries for a more casual and kid friendly take.

Double or triple the quantities if you are doing a big party!

Blissed up Chocolate Ripple Cake – makes 6

1-2 packs Arnott’s Chocolate Ripple Biscuits- you will need 18 bikkies for this recipe

300ml bottle of thickened cream

1 tspn Roasted Wattle Seeds

2 tblspns Creamed Honey

1 tspn Kahlua

1 punnet strawberries

Pour thickened cream into a large bowl. Beat on low until frothy.

Add in roasted wattle seeds, creamed honey and Kahlua (or not, if you want it Kid friendly).

Whip until stiff peaks form.

Sexy version:

Transfer cream into a piping bag with a rosette nozzle.

Pipe a swirl of cream, that does not quite reach the edge, onto the first biscuit. Place a 2nd biscuit on top and press down lightly.

Repeat the swirl of cream, top with 3rd biscuit, and finish top with a swirl of cream.

Place in an airtight container and refrigerate over night.

Casual version:

Place first biscuit into a dessert cup, one of those paper ones with the stiff sides is perfect.

Spoon a generous tablespoon or so of cream to cover the biscuit. Top with second biscuit.

Repeat the dollop of cream, top with 3rd biscuit and finish top with a dollop of cream.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate over night.

Top it up:

Decorate with strawberries and mint sprigs. Or rosemary sprigs, if like me, you want a more adventurous flavour combination, or truth be known, you have found that all your mint has died!

Yes, it is as delicious as I described!  So,  go out and buy yourself some roasted wattleseed!  Delish :)  xx
Yes, it is as gorgeous as I described, so go out and buy yourself some roasted wattleseed! Delish 🙂 xx

I hope to post a second Christmas inspired recipe post next week, however the best laid plans can go astray, so let me take this opportunity to thank you all for supporting my little Aussie blog. Have yourselves a very merry Christmas and see you in the new year xxx

Beechworth Honey, Banana and Pistachio Sour Cream Cupcakes Recipe

There are philosophical certainties in this life; birth, death, taxes and….over ripe bananas. So long as your household buys bananas, there is one certainty; there will be, at some stage in your life, a couple of bananas that are more brown than yellow, sitting in a fruit bowl or basket.

Occasionally, they are thrown away, and sometimes you have the time and inspiration to make something of them. This is a first in, what I believe, will be a series of recipes featuring these sad, orphan fruits.

With love ❤ My special present when my girl got back from school camp. Looking forward to getting down to Beechworth myself to do the ‘honey experience’.

So what inspired me to use up said bananas last night? It was some very special little tubs of honey, all the way from Beechworth, but more importantly, bought with the change that young children carry with them when they are on school camp. My big-hearted girl, loves her Mum and was thinking of me when she visited the home of honey in Victoria, earlier this year. She brought home little tasting tubs of ‘bold’, ‘fruity’ and ‘delicate’ blends, which we have been happily eating slathered and dripping, on hot crumpets with butter 🙂 However, time ticked on, and the inevitable question came, “Aren’t you going to make something with my honey?”.

I have to admit, I wasn’t thinking about it, but as I am now known as the cake lady by most friends and family now, the question lingered, “Where to, cake lady?” I had to do something…4 generations of apiarists at Beechworth have built this business to become one of the most well known brands of Australian honey, as well as a major tourist attraction, I had to turn it into cake. No pressure, Mum…

Bananas and honey are a ‘no brainer’ combination, if I added a smidgen of crushed pistachios, suddenly the flavours should become a little more complex, the eating a little more textural; combine it all into a gorgeously, rich sour cream cake base and we get mellow undertones which make me go mmmmm 🙂 In my head, banana cake had to be made with ‘fruity’ honey, a white chocolate whipped cream to serve it with just had to be dribbled with ‘delicate” honey, and my hot lemon tea while I baked, had to be sweetened with my favourite, ‘bold’ honey :D.

Well, that was the flavours sorted, so, here we go guys;

Honey, banana,and pistachio sour cream cupcakes

150g butter

3/4 cup caster sugar

70g honey

2 xlarge eggs

2 mashed bananas

250g self raising flour

1/3 cup sour cream

Approx 1 tablespoon crushed pistachios (optional)

Cream butter, sugar, and honey until light and fluffy.

Beat in eggs one at a time, until just combined.

Mix in mashed bananas and pistachios

Beat in half sifted flour and half sour cream, until combined.

Beat in rest of sifted flour and sour cream, beat well.

Spoon into medium size patty pans until approx 3/4 full and bake for approx 20 minutes at 170 Celsius, or until cake springs back when pressed lightly in the centre.

Yep, hot out of the oven, the cake was light, moist, and had a good hit of banana. Unmistakable honey flavours and aromas came through with a hint of green, nuttiness which I was hoping for from the pistachio. Yum, yum, yum.

No more homely banana cakes.  Light and fluffy, gourmet style cuppie! :)
No more homely banana cakes. Light and fluffy, gourmet style cuppie! 🙂

Now, come the part which I really have to use a different part of my brain for, the presentation. If you follow my blog, you will know this is not my greatest strength! It’s honey, so honestly, we had to have bees, and honey dribbles, with a nod to the shape of an old fashioned bee hive didn’t we?

Whip up 300ml thickened cream until soft peaks form.

Melt approximately 1/2 cup of white chocolate and stir until smooth.

Add melted white chocolate to cream and whip until stiff peaks form.

Pipe with a round nozzle a round to cover cupcake, then 2 smaller rounds on top of first layer.

Drizzle gently with honey, sprinkle with crushed pistachios if desired.

Cut slices of banana and slather liberally in lemon juice. Use a little flower cutter to cut through the slices.

Top off with a banana flower and a little sugar bee ( I made these but you can buy icing bees, and the wires are cute but end up spinning your bee all over the place!)

Before: Brown bananas

After:

Gorgeous!  I think they look pretty good :)  Cake lady, Blisses, again! xxx
Gorgeous! I think they look pretty good 🙂 Cake lady, Bliss-es, again! xxx
IMG_6338
Tick of approval from my special little girl…that’s all I need 🙂

Donut Disaster

http://samelder.hubpages.com/hub/Banana-Donuts-With-Poured-Over-Chocolate# These are what they should have looked like.  I followed the recipe exactly, results were far from perfect!
http://samelder.hubpages.com/hub/Banana-Donuts-With-Poured-Over-Chocolate#
These are what they should have looked like. I followed the recipe exactly, but I can tell you the results were far from perfect!

My world crumbled last month.
No it was not the GFC, nor my family’s health or well-being. Of course, it was food related. I sat down exhausted after a full day and turned on the TV, only to be told that a slice of low fat, cheese had more fat in it than a donut! WHAT!!!!

I may peddle indulgence and enjoy occasional treats, but how many donuts had I foregone over the last few years while thinking that I was doing the right thing? How often had I reached for a slice of Kraft cheddar on a wholmeal Salada, safe in the knowledge that I was doing my body a low-fat, favour? I still don’t know whether that statement on the ad was true, I’m sure I would only have to google it to find out, but I prefer to believe it is true, because it suits me!
Not surprisingly for the past month, I have been on a little donut kick and I couldn’t help but flick through a little book called Mini Donuts yesterday when I was wandering through the book shop. ‘Eat me’ styled, photos of ‘cute as a button’ donuts, looked so tantalising on the pages; it was all the inspiration I needed to make a few mini donuts as a Sunday breakfast treat. I have been working too hard and neglecting my poor kids, so wouldn’t it be nice if I surprised them with yummy, mini, breakfast donuts? Yes, it would have been fantastic, if they worked 😦

Bright and chirpy, thinking that my single, overripe banana was going to be the star of the morning, I couldn’t wait to start! But wait; firstly, it has been so long since I played with the little electric donut maker, that I bought on a whim, that I couldn’t find it….anywhere. After searching high and low for more than the allocated 5 minutes, I was not to be fazed, “I can get past this”, I thought to myself, so I looked for a recipe that was ‘cut out’ not ‘drop in’. I know enough about donuts to know there are 2 types, all is good…so far. You would think that I would also know enough about donuts to know they are generally fried and that not even that dinky little toy, mini donut, maker is a proper substitute. But it was Sunday and it was morning…it was ‘pre’ my mug of tea 😦

Not great, hey?  They were warm and bready.  Great little bit of banana damper with a hot mug of tea.  Australiana version of a donut?  Ha ha, great justification for a complete donut disaster!
Not great, hey? They were warm and bready.
Great little bit of banana damper with a hot mug of tea.Maybe an Australiana version of a donut? Ha ha, nice justification for a complete donut disaster!

Google offered me a ‘cut out’, mini, banana donut recipe, ta-dah, and I prewarmed my oven (how many of you are thinking “WHAT?”) Alas, I am a baker, prewarming ovens come naturally, the idea of it does not pass through any particular grey matter, no cortex or lobes; it has become instinct, a reflex action when I pull out the sugar, flour, (and how many eggs was that?). The batter was a drop consistency, (did I mention it was Sunday morning?) so I added more flour (did I mention I hadn’t had my tea yet?), and cut them out, and with some scepticism (I have a tiny little bit of respect for myself in being sceptical at least), then popped them in the oven.

Probably wasn’t surprising that they turned out to be banana-ish flavoured, donut shaped, scone-like thingumabobs. The photo on the recipe was misleading at best, but truly depressing when compared to my strange, donut disaster this morning. A closer inspection of the photo, after the fact, shows what looks to be a fried donut probably squeezed out of one of those really cool donut, squisher outer, contraptions, and possibly without a hint of banana in it. Ah well, live and learn! At the very least, donuts are definitely back on the menu and I am sure that I will be posting about my incredible successes…next time.

I’m setting the bar now, so let’s go the whole hog and do proper fried, jam donuts, rolled in sugar. Oh yeah, I feel better already 🙂

http://www.theage.com.au/news/entertainment/epicure/have-your-wicked-way/2009/08/03/1249152550766.html Now this is what we are talking about.  Let's do it, will post the recipe as well :)
http://www.theage.com.au/news/entertainment/epicure/have-your-wicked-way/2009/08/03/1249152550766.html
Now this is what we are talking about.
Let’s do it! And, I will post the recipe as well 🙂

Sundae(y) Afternooon, Hot Fudge Sauce Recipe.

I am an ice cream sundae, kind of girl.    And, being a Sunday afternoon, it can be kind of hard not to think about the more calorific, Soda Shop style dessert.

Okay, you caught me out, I dreamed of being one of the gang that hung out at Pop’s and wanted desparately to be able to order those ridiculous, overflowing, ice cream sodas, and to eat, foot high, ice cream sundaes.  I may only have been in primary school and happened to live on the other side of the world from any Soda Shops, but I loved wishing that I could be perched on a red vinyl stool, slurping down a real American, malted milk!

The closest thing I ever got to a hot fudge sundae was a dribble of Cottees chocolate syrup on a single scoop of Streets vanilla ice cream.  Ummm, sorry Mum….not even close.  So guys, let’s do this for real!.  Hot fudge sauce is another one of those things you never thought you could make and when you do, find it only takes you about 20 minutes flat.  No preservatives, no additives, just pure indulgence through and through 🙂

Mmmm, smooth, silky, hot fudge sauce :)
Mmmm, smooth, silky, hot fudge sauce 🙂

Basic Hot Fudge Sauce  (adapted from the Brown eyed Baker)

2/3 cup heavy cream
2/3 cup Golden Syrup
¼ cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon sea salt
170g 35%couverture chopped, divided in half
30g unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. In a saucepan over medium heat, bring the cream, syrup, cocoa powder, salt and half of the chocolate to a boil. Reduce the heat to low (enough to maintain a low simmer), and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining chocolate, the butter, and the vanilla extract, stirring until smooth.

3. Pour half of the sauce into a clean jar or into a pouring jug for those who are chocolate purists.

But for those who are dedicated to Bliss-ing it up;  Keep reading 🙂   I won’t bore you with too many details, just suffice to say I was at Vic Market, killing some time and enjoying the company of my best bud, hubby and foodie companion, when I spied blood oranges…

Adding a little interest with tart, seasonal blood oranges, picked up on my wanderings...
Adding a little interest with tart, seasonal blood oranges, picked up on my wanderings…

1. Stir in the grated zest of one blood orange into the remaining half of the chocolate sauce. 

2. Squeeze in approximately 1 tablespoon of blood orange juice.  Stir well.

3.  Pour into a clean jar or into a pouring jug for those that like things just a touch more interesting!

To serve a Blissed up Hot Fudge Sundae;

I have no illusions about my ability to present food in any manner other than rudimental.  I have even wondered whether there are talented people out there, who I could pay to teach me!  There were 2 main reasons why it took a week for me to post this blog, even after I had made the sauce.  First, because I didn’t have the time to write it, but secondly, because I seriously didn’t know how to put it together, so that would be something that my dear readers might want to look at and maybe even want to eat!  So, here we go guys, and honestly I couldn’t even get a decent photo out of it.  If you have a better photo of your attempt at a Bliss Sundae, please post it on my FB page for me to drool over!

1. Cut 3 thin slices of blood orange and place into the base of a shallow dessert bowl.  I used a Japanese rice bowl, I just love them for desserts!

2.  Place a generous single scoop of any ice cream of your choice on top of the fruit slices.

3.  Drizzle with as much or as little sauce as you wish.

4.  I stuck in a couple of chocolate dipped Pocky sticks for a little bit of crunch.

Looks lickable?  Looks good to me! I am definitely no food stylist, so if you have a better photo of your attempts at a Bliss-ed up Hot Fudge Sundae, please post it to my FB page so I can drool over it!
Looks lickable? Looks good to me!
I am definitely no food stylist, so if you have a better photo of your attempts at a Bliss-ed up Hot Fudge Sundae, please post it to my FB page so I can drool over it!

Ms Maclaine and My Pear and Buttermilk Chocolate Cake with Passionfruit Ganache

The first time I ever came across Shirley Maclaine was as a sassy, smart talking, lady of questionable repute in ‘Sweet Charity’ and of course, I LOVED her.

Hmm, short hair, red lipstick, AND a tattoo.  Why couldn't I be just like Shirley?
Hmm, short hair, red lipstick, AND a tattoo. Why couldn’t I be just like Shirley?

Julia Roberts may have caused an uproar about morally questionable role models in the ’90s, but way before then, my poor Mum really didn’t know what to do with her little primary school child wanting to be Shirley Maclaine and questioning why it was a bad idea to wear fish net stockings and get a tattoo!

Well, fast forward many years later, after I had worn my share of fish net stockings, have had my hair long, short and shaved, and tattoos are the accepted norm;   I fell in love with the indomitable Ms Maclaine all over again, when I found this quote in one of my recipe books;

LOVE that Ms Maclaine :)
LOVE that Ms Maclaine 🙂
Juicy and sweet, Bartlett pears peeled, sliced and ready to go!
Juicy and sweet, Bartlett pears peeled, sliced and ready to go!

Love it….love being able to play with chocolate cake and even more so when I pick up inspiration from fresh or home-grown produce.

So, in my grand tradition of walking into a shop and picking up ‘stuff’ that looks good, I found myself surrounded by mountains of Bartlett pears and, believe it or not, some great looking passionfruit!   Pears are a mainstay of cold weather but passionfruit?  From New South Wales, what’s more, so we are talking passionfruit in the middle of winter…I am guessing hot-house, but hey, my taste buds were talking, I was going to make an exception today 🙂

Bartletts are not my choice for eating straight up, that sweet, sticky juice, running generously through your fingers, as you try not to make a single handed mess, which inevitably turns into a double fisted, wet, napkin soaked drama; ending in a limp, and soggy mess with an urgent need to find a running tap!

Ha ha, maybe the Bartlett pears I am trying to eat for lunch are just too ripe, but for a dessert or a cake, they are my absolute favourites.  Suddenly all those sad and sorry, downfalls are in fact, the attributes that make them perfect!  Soft and melting, sweetly blessed with juice that flows and flavours everything that it comes in touch with, permeating with a fragrant, slightly caramel aroma that is unmistakable.

That's what I like to see, nice chunks of sweet and soft pear surrounded by a soft and light bed of...cake!
That’s what I like to see, nice chunks of sweet and soft pear surrounded by a soft and light bed of…cake!

I wanted to pair (no pun intended!) this luxurious texture and flavour of cooked pear with a lighter cake and decided on a buttermilk cake with just a hint of cocoa, to help the pear juice to be tasted through it.  The buttermilk gave the cake a slightly tangy flavour as well, which worked really nicely.

However, on its own, I have to say it was not a cake that had me jumping for joy, it definitely needed a little more.  Not exactly worthy of the  Hollywood aspirations of my childhood!

I decide that nothing tarts up a simple, wall flower of a cake, like a crowd pleasing 35% couverture ganache, but I wanted to lift it a little, so as to compliment the pear and to give it a little zing that even Charity would be proud of 🙂

Passionfruit in the middle of winter?  They look so good, I just have to break my seasonal rule today.
Passionfruit in the middle of winter? They look so good, I just have to break my seasonal rule today.

Please step in, passionfruit.  It may not be seasonal, it may not be home-grown but by stirring through the pulp of this little purple orb, and dribbling that thick and creamy chocolate concoction over my homely little cakes…yes, you guessed it; Bliss.

No, I know it is not Hollywood, walk of fame stuff, but served warm on a mid winters evening, I have to say this little cake makes me feel pretty sparkly, and special inside 🙂

Homely no more :)  A little white chocolate decoration gives my little cakes star treatment :)
Homely no more 🙂
A drizzled white chocolate piece, gives my little cakes the star treatment 🙂

Breakfast Inspired, Raspberry and Apple Jam Tarts Recipe

Quick! I am running out of raspaberry jam (ha ha, a typing error, but funnily enough the way I usually pronounce it!) This ruby red jelly, speckled with little white seeds, is my current mainstay of weekend breakfasts. I love it, I love it, I love it. On bread and butter, on french toast, toasted croissant, pancakes, scones and cream in fact, on just about anything I can think of 🙂 Raspberry jam is just tart enough to not really taste like you are doing the wrong thing and so fruity that you can justify that you are eating something, almost, healthy!
Jam is so quick and easy that I just went straight to my stash of frozen raspberries and picked up a left over apple from my kids lunches and whipped up an apple-fied version of my favourite jam.

Raspberry and apple jam

Boiling, fruity, bliss.  Just remember to keep stirring!
Boiling, fruity, bliss. Just remember to keep stirring!


350g fresh or frozen raspberries
100g chopped apple
350g sugar
1 small juiced lemon (use the lemon NOT the juice!)

Place into heavy pan, boil rapidly, stirring constantly.
Cook until mixture thickens and drips off the spoon in jelly like dollops. (About 15 minutes)
Serve on French toast, toasted croissant, or just freshly baked bread warm out if the oven, mmmmm
Makes enough for about 2 medium sized jars.

When I finished filling a couple of jars, I realized…oooooh I’ve missed having fun, just playing and mucking about in the kitchen No wonder I’ve been feeling so grumpy!
With fresh, sweet and fruity aromas wafting around the kitchen, and knowing that I have 2 jars of freshly made, still warm, home made jam, cooling on the bench, I can’t stop myself whipping up a quick batch of short crust pastry 🙂

Pastry cut, jam dolloped, ready for the oven.
Pastry cut, jam dolloped, ready for the oven.

Short crust pastry
150g plain flour
80g cold butter
approx 3 tblspn ice water

Place plain flour and cold butter into food processor and pulse until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add cold water and process until a smooth dough forms. Turn out and knead lightly. Wrap in glad wrap, refrigerate for approx 30 minutes. Makes enough pastry for approximately 20 little tartlets.

I have company for dinner tonight, so that’s all the excuse I need to create a few, little, jam tarts to have with tea afterwards. I feel so happy 😀

Jam tarts

Heat oven to 180 Celsius

The Queen of hearts, she made some tarts...I don't know if I am a queen of anything, but the tarts, oh the tarts :)
The Queen of hearts, she made some tarts…I don’t know if I am a queen of anything, but the tarts, oh the tarts 🙂

Roll out short crust pastry on a lightly floured bench. Roll it thin enough so that you can just start to make out the colour of your bench through the pastry.
Use a fluted cutter to cut out rounds, and place them into small, shallow cupcake pans.
Place about 1/2 tspn of jam in the centre of each pastry round. Don’t overfill as jam will melt and bubble while cooking.
Bake for 15-20 minutes until pastry is lightly golden.
Cool thoroughly before serving, as jam is hot, hot, hot!!

A lovely smooth buttery flavoured pastry, short, and flakey when you bite into it and of course, there is no getting away from that great full, tart rasp-aah-berry flavour with chunks of unmistakable apple sweetness. You always knew I would drizzle with chocolate didn’t you? I used white chocolate here but dark couverture would be just as lovely.

Heavenly. I think I might be kidding myself that they will last until after dinner. Isn’t it almost afternoon tea time?

Raspberry and white chocolate, raspberry and dark chocolate?  Who can choose anyway?  Just eat me :)
Raspberry and white chocolate, raspberry and dark chocolate? Who can choose anyway? Just eat me 🙂