Saturday, October 24, 2015

Carrot Cake (Because True Love Conquers All)

Carrots are one of my least favourite foods by far.  I've been working through my intense dislike for them, because I'm totally an adult.  I've been able to include them in soups and stews for many years with no fatal consequences.  A friend taught me about honey glazed roasted carrots...and that upped the game further.  But of course it was my beloved who has forced me all the way to the dark side to indulge his love of carrot cake.  Carrots?  In a cake?  Whhyyyyooooohhhwhhhyyy?  I love cake so much, why would he pursue this travesty?

Long story short, I researched the heck out of recipes for carrot cake.  Made my concessions to the inclusions (yes Catherine, carrot cake must in fact have carrots in it) and exclusions (raisins are NOT mandatory).  I remembered what I liked about carrot cakes I had eaten in the past (an absence of extreme chunks of carrot was a highlight) and set about trying to replicate it.  Folks, this is true love.

Is he looking adoringly at me or the cake?  I think both.  

Carrot Cake

Cake Mix:

1 1/2 cups caster sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups finely grated carrots (the small section on the grater works best)

125 grams butter, softened
250 gram block of cream cheese, softened
500 grams icing sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup finely chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 160C (fan forced).  Prepare your bundt pan as you would normally.  A lot of recipes call for buttering and flouring, but my bundt pan just needs a spray of cooking spray to release cakes like a champion.  Do what you know works. 

In a large bowl, mix the sugar together with the oil, eggs and vanilla until it is all fully incorporated.  In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.  My new trick is to use a balloon whisk on the dry ingredients rather than putting them through a sifter...but I am a very impatient baker.  Do whichever suits your baking style.

Add the flour mix in to the wet mix and combine well.  Add the carrots, and mix until it is all incorporated evenly.   

Pour in the cake mix to your prepared bundt pan, and ensure it is evenly spread out.  

Bake for approximately 50 minutes, checking and turning at the half way point.

When it is done, let it cool for about five minutes on a rack in the pan and then turn out to cool completely.  

For the frosting, cream together the butter and cream cheese until very smooth and kind of fluffy.  Add the vanilla and powdered sugar, blend well.  Incorporate the pecans which should be very finely chopped (I blasted mine in the food processor).  Frost the bundt cake once it is completely cooled.  

Best to keep this cake in the fridge, not that it lasts very long!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

The Revelation That Is Chia Pudding

For some time now, our family has been trying to eat healthier while still enjoying delicious treats.  This blog should probably be sub-categorised as "Sometimes Foods".  This latest culinary epiphany can actually be categorised as "Any Time You Want" food.  Chocolate pudding for breakfast in full knowledge that it is good for me?  Uh, yes please.  Chia is a great source of fibre, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc and manganese and it has a unique ability to absorb liquids and turn into magic pudding!  

This recipe can be both sugar free and dairy free, depending on how you make it.  I made mine with regular milk, but you could easily make it with almond or soy milk.   

Chocolate Chia Pudding


3 cups milk (almond, soy, cow)
3/4 cup chia seeds (white or black)
1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
100 - 150 mls maple syrup (to taste)


Combine all of the ingredients except the maple syrup in a good sized bowl.  As always, the quality of the cocoa makes all of the difference in this.  I used the Hershey's Special Dark (my default cocoa) but any high quality dark cocoa powder will work well. Whisk well until everything is fully incorporated.  Add the maple syrup to taste and whisk through.  

Cover the bowl and let sit overnight, and you should have a healthy bowl of pudding for breakfast!  Serving suggestion: a dollop of yoghurt, some fresh fruit, and a smile.  This recipe makes about 6 servings.


Thursday, September 24, 2015

Better Than Bestest Brownies

If I updated this blog as often as I think about updating this blog…I’d be a different sort of writer than I am.  In an attempt to breathe some life into my creative self, I recently did not one but two creative writing courses.  As you would expect, I walked out of  both feeling like I could do anything!  I was a writer!

Truth be told, it was one of the aphorisms our instructor passed on to us that has had the most resonance – “If you are waiting for inspiration before writing, you aren’t a writer you are a waiter.”  Ouch.  And so true.

I’ve been doing a lot of waiting of late, and while waiting I’ve been cooking.  My husband encourages me to write down when I come up with a new dish…and I always mean to and just forget.  Some of the dishes I’ve come up with  are not very attractive, so don’t lend themselves to food blogging but boy are they delicious (I’m looking at you "Rice Noodles, Omelet and Wombok in Spicy Soy Sauce"). 

So what recipe to share with you?  I think we need to go back to beginning – I’ve added a significantly amazing new variation to my brownie recipe collection.  I jokingly sent a text message to one of my best friends (she's my Chief Brownie Connoisseur) that I had accidentally made a recipe better than my original and favorite. 

This recipe is a fusion of chocolate and cocoa brownie styles…somehow it tastes just like the brownies of my dreams.  They are chewy and rich and beautiful.  So easy and all done in one bowl, so with minimal clean up mess. I am running out of superlative descriptors, perhaps I need another creative writing course (or a thesaurus).

Better than Bestest Brownies


250grams unsalted butter, melted
1 ½ cups sugar
3 eggs, room temperature (ideally)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup plain flour
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ cup dark chocolate cocoa powder
350 grams dark chocolate chips (divided)


Preheat the oven to 160C.  Line a 9” x 13” pan with baking paper (a better option than just trying to spray the pan…trust me…I’ve tried both).

Take the very best butter you can find, 250 grams, and melt it.  I have fallen in love with Lescure French butter, and I can’t see a way back to any other kind of butter. 

Put the sugar into a medium sized bowl, and pour over the melted butter.  Mix well, until the sugar and butter are well combined.  I don’t use beaters for this recipe, just a simple wooden spoon.  How retro.

Add the vanilla extract, and stir through.

Add the three eggs, all at once, and mix them well.  The mix will start to come together nicely, pulling away from the bowl a bit.  This is your sign it’s ready to add the dry ingredients.

Put the flour, salt, baking powder and cocoa in the bowl.  Do use the very best cocoa powder you can get.  I have managed to get my hands on a large supply of Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa (thank you Amazon) but Callebaut makes a lovely dark chocolate cocoa that would work too. 

Mix all the dry ingredients in well, then add 175 grams of the dark chocolate chips. 
Tip the delectable contents of the bowl into your prepared pan, and bake for 30 minutes.  I advocate turning the pan halfway through the bake time, but my oven has its own personality quirks as I’m sure everyone’s does.

I can highly recommend getting a spatula to “clean the bowl out” and can advocate that the brownie mix is as good uncooked as it is cooked.

When you pull the brownies out of the oven to cool, dole out the remaining 175 grams of chocolate chips over the top.  Leave for about ten minutes and they will melt, you can then spread the chocolate evenly over the top.  You can pimp these brownies with anything you can imagine from this point - some coconut flakes (evil, but it takes all sorts to make the world go round), some dried fruit (cranberries or apricots would be nice), chopped nuts, mini marshmallows, or maybe even some lollies.  Add these while the chocolate is still soft, so the add-ins can set in as the brownies cool.

Let cool (if you can wait), cut into about 20 squares, and then devour.  

Monday, September 1, 2014

Self-Saucing Chocolate Pudding - In a MUG!

We are trying hard to be healthy here in our house, but the occasional indulgence is still required.  It's prudent in these times of self restraint to make something single-portion sized...and today required a bit of chocolate self-saucing pudding.  This isn't the same as a proper baked pudding, but this takes 40 seconds to cook and not 40 minutes!  Sometimes, near enough is good enough.

For those days when you need just a little something, this might just be the little something.


The cake -

1 1/2 Tablespoons self raising flour
1 1/2 Tablespoons cocoa
1 1/2 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

The topping -

1/2 Tablespoon cocoa
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
2 Tablespoons hot water


Mix together the cake ingredients in a coffee mug - the flour, cocoa, sugar, milk, and vanilla.  Make the mix is all well incorporated.

Sprinkle over the top the topping - cocoa and brown sugar.  Carefully pour over the hot water.   Do not mix.

Pop the mug into the microwave for about 40 seconds.  The cake will still look moist, but it should be cooked.  If not, heat another 5 - 10 seconds.  You know your microwave best.

Drizzle over cream, serve with ice cream, or serve it as it was in our house with a nice glass of cold milk.


Friday, July 11, 2014

Birthday Cake: Super moist, foolproof and dark chocolate-y

Who doesn't love birthday cake?  My daughter recently celebrated her 17th birthday and requested my homemade chocolate cake, with a dark chocolate frosting.  I do this cake with a peanut butter frosting that is pretty special...but the birthday girl wanted an all-chocolate affair. 

I tend to like my cakes done in a bundt ban...I just find they cook evenly and, if I'm honest, I just love they way a bundt cake looks.  This cake can easily be done as a layer cake or even'd just need to change the timings a bit. 


2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups plain flour
3/4 cup cocoa
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup strong black coffee
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 170C/350F.  My oven runs a bit hot and is fan forced, so I actually do mine at 160C...use your judgement.

Whisk together all of the dry ingredients in a good sized bowl.  Use the very best cocoa powder you can for this cake, it will be the dominant flavour in the cake.  My favourite is Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa, which is almost impossible to get in Australia.  Failing having that, Callebaut Cocoa works beautifully. 

Add to the dry mixture the two eggs, the buttermilk, the coffee, vegetable oil and vanilla.  Again, the quality of the coffee will affect the flavour of the cake so go for something decent.  This cake doesn't have a lot of hiding space, so I heartily encourage you to use nice ingredients.

Mix with a hand mixer for about two minutes.  The mixture will be very runny, but this is I think why it is so moist once it is baked.  Pour into a prepared non-stick pan.  I just do a good spray of baking spray, but prepare the pan as you normally would to ensure a successful release. 

Bake for 20 minutes, turn the cake 180 degrees, and then bake for another 20 minutes.  If a skewer comes out clean, it is done.  Sometimes it make take up to an extra five minutes. 

Let the cake cook for about five minutes in the pan, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely before frosting. 

The frosting I used was a super easy buttercream, but not overly sweet.  It came together quickly, and was very tasty.


2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
6 tablespoons cocoa powder (I use the same one as in the cake)
6 tablespoons butter, room temperature
6 tablespoons cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Sift together the powdered sugar and cocoa, and set aside.  Beat the butter until it is soft and fluffy.  Add the sugar/cocoa mix to the whipped butter alternately with tablespoons of cream until all are incorporated.  Add in the vanilla.  If the frosting is too loose, add a bit more powdered sugar.  Whip until it is smooth, and then frost the cake straight away.  Delicious on the cake or out of the mixing bowl!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Anzac Biscuits

There aren't many recipes on my blog that call for coconut, largely because I am not a fan.  My husband on the other hand, loves it.  Anzac Day is a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand that broadly commemorates all Australians and New Zealanders who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations as well as those who contributed and suffered through the conflicts.   The Anzac biscuit is notable in that it doesn’t have eggs – two reasons for that as I understand it.  One – the poultry farmers were all part of the war effort in WW1 and there was a shortage of eggs.  The other reason was to ensure the biscuits wouldn’t spoil when shipped over to the front. 

There are many variations on Anzac biscuits, but this one is the perfect mix of crunchy and soft. 


1 cup plain flour
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup coconut
3/4 cup brown sugar
125 grams (1/2 cup) butter
3 Tablespoons golden syrup
1 Tablespoon water
1 teaspoon baking soda


Preheat oven to 160C.  Line a baking tray with baking paper.

Sift flour into a large bowl, and then add the oats, coconut, and brown sugar.  

In a small pan, melt the butter and golden syrup together with 1 Tablespoon of water.  Once the mix is all melted and combined, remove from the heat and stir through the baking soda.  The mix will foam, so just keep stirring.  Once all combined, pour the liquid mix into the flour and stir through well.  

I use my little cookie scoop to measure out a small ball of cookie dough.  Flatten out on the tray, and then bake for about 10 minutes.  Cool on the tray for about five minutes, and then cool completely on a wire rack.  

Ode of Remembrance

They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England's foam

Lest we forget.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Passionfruit & White Chocolate Cookies

Passionfruits are beautifully in season at the moment…and really taste of Australian summer to me.  We recently had a big gathering at our house for a BBQ and I wanted some summery cookies.  Digging through my recipe collection, I found a nice white chocolate chip cookie recipe and decided to add some passionfruit.  It worked a treat - people seemed to really enjoy these.  I decided to add a nice passionfruit glaze to the top of them…and they looked beautiful.


For the cookies -

125 grams unsalted butter softened
1/3 cup powdered sugar
Passionfruit pulp from 2 large or 3 small fruits
1 cup plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cornflour
100 grams white chocolate chips

For the glaze -

2/3 cup powdered sugar
Passionfruit pulp from 1 large fruit
Hot water (as needed only)


Oven should be preheated to 160C, and cookie trays should be lined with baking paper.

Mix (with an electric mixer) the butter and sugar until it is light and creamy.  Stir through the passionfruit pulp, then add the sifted dry ingredients.  Once mixed together, add the chocolate chips and mix well.

I use a cookie scooper to form my cookies, but you can roll small teaspoons full of dough and put on the prepared tray.  The cookies don't spread much at all.

Bake for 10 - 12 minutes or until golden, and then let them set on the tray for about five minutes to firm up.  Transfer to a wire rack, and cool.

Sift the 2/3 cup of powdered sugar in a a small bowl.  Stir in the passionfruit pulp and mix until smooth.  A bit of hot water might be needed to pull it together - you want a fairly thick drizzle.  Drizzle on top of each cookie and let set completely.

These make about 20 - 25 cookies, and they have a tendency to disappear immediately after being put out.