Saturday, 23 May 2015

Triple Mint Aero Biscuit Rocky Road!

You can never make too much rocky road, it's a fact! and a mantra to live by!

Rocky road will always be one of my fail safe go to recipes - need to whip up something in a jiffy? don't feel like turning on your oven in this amazingly warm weather we're having (jokes!) but if you do live in a warm climate...lucky you! and rocky road will become your new best friend! want to use up random contents of your baking cupboard? want to make something that sends through the post well?

Rocky road fits the bill for all! and one of my very favourite things about making rocky road is how customisable it is! 

There are endless flavour possibilities! Peanut butter lover, then try this.  Crazy for coconut try this, if peppermint is more your thing you'll love this...and I'm always thinking up new possibilities - a nutella & ferrero flavour one is definitely on the cards!! 

So when I was planning to make and post these to cheer up a mint aero loving recipient I decided they had to be mint aero to the max! So not only do they feature chopped up pieces of mint aeros, and mint aero balls, but also chopped up pieces of the little mint aero biscuit bars you get! This was a great addition, because it gives extra crunch alongside the rice krispie pieces! and the oreo pieces were thrown in because we all know oreo makes everything better! 

The one thing I don't like about rocky road is making it when you're on a diet! the little offcuts that come when you are chopping it up into squares are way too tempting! so I ended up trying more of this than I should have! but I'm a sucker for mint chocolate and this was one of my tastiest rocky road creations yet! 

Triple Mint Aero Biscuit Rocky Road:
Makes 16
From Cupcake Crazy Gem

350g milk chocolate 
100g dark chocolate
1 tsp vegetable oil
50g oreo cookies
140g mint aero 
100g mint aero balls
75g mint aero biscuit
130g mini marshmallows
35g cup rice krispies

Line an 8x8" square baking pan with parchment paper.

Break milk and dark chocolate into pieces and put in a large heatproof bowl above a pan of boiling water.  Stir in vegetable oil and mix until melted.

Remove from the heat and let cool for 10 minutes.

Chop the oreos into quarters, the mint aero into chunks and the mint aero biscuit bars into small pieces (Reserve back a few handfuls of the mix ins to use as toppings)

Stir in the rice krispies   Once completely cool, stir in the oreo cookies, mint aero, mint aero balls mint aero biscuit and mini marshmallows.  Mix well.

Spread into the prepared pan, smoothing out on top.  Add the rest of the toppings.  

Refrigerate for an hour, or overnight.

Eat and enjoy!

Friday, 15 May 2015

Nutella Swirled Chocolate Hazelnut Chunk Cookies!

So unless you've been living under a rock, I'm sure social media has made you aware that it is national chocolate chip cookie day today! I simply couldn't let this 'food holiday' pass by without paying homage to that classic cookie! 

Choc chip cookies are one of the things my mom baked most when we were growing up...and then when my older sister was old enough she started whipping them up too so there was always a good chance of finding a fresh batch in the kitchen! Whoever invented chocolate chip cookies deserves a giant trophy and a medal, make that a million medals...they've paved the way for cookie goodness forever! I like my desserts to be on the extravagant side, but even I can't turn down a simple humble chocolate chip cookie - they are timeless classics! and I think they are the kind of sweet treat that will be peoples favourites forever! 

On that note...let me introduce the humble chocolate chip cookie's older and crazier sister - the Nutella swirled chocolate hazelnut chunk cookie! yes you read that right.  Let's take a minute to break this down.  You start off with a brown sugar cookie which by itself would be delicious enough...but then you swirl a ton of dreamy creamy Nutella through the dough, and instead of just adding regular chocolate chips, you pimp it up by adding chocolate chunks because everyone knows chunks make a superior cookie! but not just any chunks, oh no...we're adding in Cadbury's whole nut chunks! so that to compliment the Nutella you have actual hazelnuts in your cookies too! 

I mean, if that description hasn't lured you in, I don't know what will! 

You need to bake these today! Sally, who invented this cookie on her blog shared a picture of them to instagram and that very same evening I just had to bake a batch because they looked too good not to! I then baked another batch two days later which is rare in this house, but we ran out of them so quick that it was essential to make more!! 

Don't say I didn't warn you, these are dangerously addictive! and will probably become your new favourite cookie! They are definitely the BEST cookie I've made this year! 

Nutella Swirled Chocolate Hazelnut Chunk Cookies:
Makes 18 

1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup (150g) packed light brown sugar 
1/2 cup (100g) caster sugar
1 large egg + 1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup (148g) Nutella, divided
2 1/3 cups (295g) plain flour 
1 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp cornflour
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups (225g) whole nut milk chocolate, divided

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Line three large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.  

In a free standing electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter for 1 minute on medium speed until creamy.  Add the brown sugar and caster sugar and beat on medium high speed until fluffy.  Beat in egg, egg yolk, and vanilla on high speed until combined.  Stir the Nutella in the jar vigorously before using so the oils are not lurking at the top as this will cause your cookies to spread.  Beat in 1/4 cup (74g) of Nutella until combined.  

Whisk the flour, cornstarch, bicarbonate of soda and salt together in a large bowl.  On low speed, slowly mix into the wet ingredients until combined.  Chop chocolate into chunks.  Add 1 cup (180g) of whole nut chocolate chunks and mix on low for about 5-10 seconds until evenly distributed.  Turn the mixer off and add the remaining Nutella.  Beat for 5-10 seconds so the Nutella streaks through the cookie dough and is not fully careful not to overbeat.  Dough will be a little crumbly but that's not a problem. 

Roll dough into balls, larger than a tablespoon.  The warmth of your hands will help them come together.  Bake the cookies for 10 minutes, until slightly golden brown around the edges.  Rotate the sheets once during baking time.   The baked cookies will look extremely soft in the centre when you remove them from the oven.  Allow them to cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet.   Gently press the remaining chocolate chunks into the tops of the slightly warm cookies (this is purely for looks!)

Transfer cookies to a cooling rack to cool completely.  

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

A Trio of Curds: Pineapple & Coconut, Raspberry and Passionfruit

I've always thought that I wasn't a fan of curd.  I think it stems from when I was growing up and my Dad used to be keen on it...and generally anything that my Dad is keen on I'm not.  He's a fan of piccalilli, brown sauce, fruit cake, pork pies, turkish delight and many many other things that I won't go near! So naturally when he always used to eat lemon curd I decided it probably wasn't something I was going to like! 

That all changed when three years ago I whipped up my first ever batch of curd, but not just any curd - this was key lime curd, and oh man it was one of the yummiest things ever and I suddenly realised I loved curd, and from them on I've been dreaming up as many yummy curds as possible!

One of my fave flavours I have made is pineapple curd! I have made it to fill a layer cake, and also to fill cupcakes.  This time when I made it I added a coconut twist with coconut oil and desiccated coconut, because pineapple and coconut is a match made in heaven and this might be my fave curd to date! 

I have been wanting to make raspberry curd forever, purely because how amazingly vibrant is that colour?! It did not disappoint! It was everything I expected and more! I have dreams of one day pairing this with a coconut scone, how delish would that be! 

To finish off the trio, I whipped up a quick passion fruit curd and then packaged them up in these cute little jars, made these chalkboard top labels and sent them off in a birthday package to a good friend of mine who had only recently discovered curd at my house and loved it so I thought she would enjoy this package of treats! 

If you were able to make one giant batch of curd and then stir in different flavours that would be an easier way of doing things but from most of the recipes I came across it seemed like the fruit had to be infused with the eggs on the heat to get the curd to work, and every recipe I came across for each flavour was slightly different so in the end I just made 3 different recipes.  Curd is really quick to make though, and I had managed to make all 3 batches, and cooled them and packaged them up all before the baby woke up from her nap! so if you've never made any before give it a try! quick and easy, and most of all delicious - you won't be disappointed! 

Pineapple & Coconut Curd:
Makes enough to fill 4x50ml jars
From Cupcake Crazy Gem

1 cup fresh pineapple puree (1/2 sieved and 1/2 lumpy)
1/3 cup caster sugar
3 egg yolks
2 tbsp cornstarch
small pinch of salt
2 tbsp coconut oil
1/2 cup desiccated coconut

Blend the pineapple in a food processor.  Add half a cup of the puree into the saucepan.  Sieve the rest so that no lumps are included and it is just the pineapple juice, measure out a half cup of the juice and add it to the saucepan.  If you don't want any lumps you can sieve all the puree but I think the real pineapple chunks add something special to the curd.

Add the egg yolks, cornstarch and salt.  Turn heat onto medium and whisk constantly until the mixture thickens, this happens just as it is about to come to the boil, usually around 5 minutes.  Remove from the heat and whisk in the coconut oil until melted.  Stir in the desiccated coconut.  Allow to cool in the pot as it will thicken further.  Put into sterilised jars and store in the fridge, use within a week.

Raspberry Curd:
Makes enough to fill 4x50ml jars

150g fresh raspberries, you can also use frozen
2 small eggs, beaten
zest of 1 lemon
75ml lemon juice
50g unsalted butter
100g caster sugar

Blend the raspberries in a food processor.  Add the raspberries to the beaten eggs and push the mixture through a sieve into a large mixing bowl.  

Add the zest, juice, butter and sugar to a saucepan and gently heat, stirring until all the sugar has dissolved and butter has melted.  Bring to the boil and then remove from the heat.  Slowly add to the raspberry and egg mixture, whisking as you pour it in.  Return the mixture back to the saucepan, and bring back to the boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.  

Keep it simmering until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, then remove from the heat and leave it to cool in pot as it will thicken further.  Put into sterilised jars.  As above, store in the fridge and use within a week.

Passionfruit Curd:
Makes enough to fill 4x50ml jars

3 large eggs
60g unsalted butter 
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup passion fruit pulp, about 4 passion fruits

Heat the butter, sugar and passion fruit pulp in a saucepan over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved and it reaches boiling point.  Remove from the heat and allow it to cool slightly (about 3 mins).  

Beat the eggs until fluffy in a bowl and very quickly, whisking all the time, add them to the saucepan mixture - you do not want the eggs to curdle.  Place saucepan back on heat, and whisk constantly until the mixture becomes thick.  Allow it to cool in the pot as it will thicken further and pour into sterilised jars and keep in the fridge.  Use within a week.  

Unsure of what to do with your curds? As mentioned before they go great sandwiched between layer cakes, or as a filling for cupcakes.  They are also delicious spread on scones, crumpets, bagels or toast and you can also use them along with cream as a filling for pavlova.  Whipping them into some plain vanilla frosting will also give a delicious fruity and creamy frosting! 

Eat and enjoy! 

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

A Hello Kitty 1st Birthday & Hello Kitty Macarons!

My little Ella turned 1 in February! and for as long as I can remember one of the things I was most excited about for becoming a mom was the parties I was going to be able to throw for my children! My mom always threw us the best parties growing up! 

Ella is a huge fan of cats, and after receiving quite a lot of Hello Kitty prezzies at Christmas time she suddenly became very interested in Hello Kitty and since I've always been a fan too it seemed like the perfect theme! 

I was so in love with these polka dot confetti balloons that came all the way from Abu Dhabi! 

Is anyone else in love with chevrons? I am! So I was super excited to find this chevron scrapbooking card in the exact colours of the party! I made a little monthly bunting of all the growing up pics we took of her each month.

I made this tissue paper garland thanks to a tutorial from you tube! it was super easy! 

and the birthday girl wore a special Hello Kitty dress for the occasion too! 

My sister made these delicious coconut cupcakes topped with raspberry frosting...

and ordered these super cute toppers to go on them that my husband designed.

We used them on the jars for the drinks too, on top of these gorgeous doilies taped with chevron tape of course (a pinterest inspired craft there!)

and no parties complete without some stripey straws!!! 

and dipped these chocolate oreos in white chocolate and drew on their little Hello Kitty faces.

I also dipped these pretzels and gave them a little Hello Kitty twist!

but my real masterpiece were these Hello Kitty macarons! More on them in a minute...

My sister helped me whip up this 6 layer chocolate cake filled with pink ombre swiss meringue buttercream and covered in chocolate swiss meringue buttercream.  If there is one thing I hate it's fondant! and I know typically children's birthday cakes involve fondant but I wanted to make sure there was no fondant in sight at Ella's party, just yummy edible and delicious treats! and how cute was the bunting Auntie Mara made too?!

It was soon time to cut the cake and it was going to be Ella's first ever taste of cake and chocolate! I was excited! but do you know the little rascal didn't even like it! All that time and effort and thought that went into the cake and she couldn't care less!! haha! Hopefully next year she'll be more excited for her cake!! 

The adults still enjoyed it though!! That frosting was so creamy and dreamy! 

She was much more excited about present opening! and we even made a fun little Hello Kitty Photo Booth area too! 

It was a lovely day spent with all her family, with pulled pork topped dogs for lunch with homemade guac and a whole lot of treats obviously!! 

So...back to those tricky little macarons! I always knew macarons came with a certain aspect of horror from many they are typically known as not easy little treats to master! So I was fully anticipating they probably wouldn't go right first time...

I didn't think I'd have to make them 4 times to get them right in the end, but hey! I think my final version turned out pretty good!

What was wrong with the previous versions...well one was totally flat, the others were way overdone, the 3rd batch were less flat but still browning around the edges (I was trying to make them just white) so I tinted the batter a slight pink and this prevented them from browning....and yes the fourth batch had feet - hurrah! victory! 

I was inspired by Java Cupcake's adorable Hello Kitty macarons and used her template sheet to pipe them on but my first batch using her recipe was a flop so I changed recipes.  It might have been that my technique had just been wrong first time around but I didn't want to take any chances.

Eventually, it was this recipe and this youtube video that made everything come together and turn out great! There is also an FAQ on macarons that you should read too just to be thorough and fully prepared! 

Hello Kitty Macarons:
Makes 24 Macarons, 48 shells

3 egg whites
210g icing sugar
125g almond flour
30g caster sugar

Red gel food colouring
24 yellow chocolate beans (like mini smarties)
48 red heart sprinkles
Edible glue
Black edible food pen

Print out the Hello Kitty template pattern.   Lay it on a baking tray. Tape a piece of parchment paper over the pattern.

Measure out your ingredients very precisely.

Sift the icing sugar and almond flour together through a sieve into a food processor.  Blitz for 2 minutes.  Stop and scrape down the side of the processor with a spatula.  Blitz again for 1 more minute to make sure it is as fine as possible.  Sift half the sugar and flour mixture into a large bowl.  Throw away any larger bits of the almonds that remain in the sieve to ensure a smooth batter.  Sift the second half of the sugar and flour mixture.  Set aside for later.

Beat the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer.  When the eggs are bubbly and the whisks are leaving marks, add the caster sugar slowly over the next minute or so.  Keep on beating at medium-high speed for 3-4 minutes until the egg whites are stiff.  (It is really helpful to watch the youtube tutorial I linked to above because it shows you pictures of what each stage needs to look like).  It is only stiff enough when the peaks hold themselves, if they fall back into the mixture you need to keep beating.  

Add food colouring, a few drops at a time - a little goes a long way.

Using a spatula, fold the egg whites delicately until the colour is well incorporated.  

Add a third of the almond/sugar mixture to the egg whites and keep on folding delicately - never beat.

As you incorporate the almond mixture, the batter seems to curdle, but as you fold it becomes creamy again.  

Keep on adding the almond mixture and folding to incorporate it, so no pockets of dry ingredients remain.  

In the end the batter will be quite thick, shiny and creamy.  

Spoon the 3/4 of the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a large round tip.  Pipe out the circle of the Hello Kitty faces.  To make round macarons easily, keep the tip very close to the parchment paper and lift off quickly when enough batter has come out.  

Spoon 1/4 of the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a Wilton #4 tip and pipe the ears onto the already piped out circles.  

Once all the macarons are piped out, bang the sheets against the worktop to the let the air bubbles out and flatten the shells.

Don't forget to slide the template out from under the parchment paper before baking.  

Let the macarons rest for at least 20 minutes.  Preheat oven to 150 degrees C. 

Bake the macarons for 14 minutes.  To test their doneness, tap lightly on the shell.  When ready, they are firm on their feet. 

Let the shells cool completely before removing them from the parchment paper.  They should be easy to lift off.  

Using edible glue, brush a little on the back of the yellow chocolate beans.  

Stick them in the centre of the macaron.  

Using an edible black food pen, draw the whiskers and eyes on.  Brush some edible glue on the back of two red heart sprinkles.  Arrange them across the ear of the macaron so it looks like Hello Kitty's bow.  Wait for about 30 minutes for the glue to set and the face to be ready.

Fill the shells with whatever filling you fancy.  Ganache works great.  I filled them with some of the leftover chocolate swiss meringue buttercream from the cake.  

Sandwich the shells together.  

Store in an airtight container until ready to serve.  They are best served soon after piping the filling because if you leave them filled for too long the filling can make the shell soggy.  

Eat and enjoy, and pat yourself on the back - you just made macarons! hooray! 


Related Posts with Thumbnails