intermittentblogger

a freeform blog

Celebrating 7 years with our Diva

So, the little Miss turned 7 this month – where on earth did the time go? She’s quite suddenly looking very grown up, but is still her smart, funny, mischevious self. We had some friends and family over to mark the day and made a Pinata Cake which was a hit!

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Foodporn Friday: Gruffalo Cake

Two weeks ago Destructaboy turned 3. He is a Gruffalo fanatic, knows both books by heart and I challenge you to try and skip a page at bedtime! He likes to tell everyone that he is the “Little Brown Mouse” so of course for his birthday I just had to make a Gruffalo cake.

My first fondant Gruffalo and Little Brown Mouse were left out one night to dry and when I got up the next morning the ants were feasting, so the ones on the cake were made the night before the party using fondant with some tylose powder added.

The cake is a zebra cake using my standard chocolate and vanilla cake recipes and the frosting was green buttercream made into grass with a grass icing nozzle.

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Foodporn Friday: Salted Caramel Walnut Slice

This is a family favourite that always seems to get eaten before I can get a photograph. This time I snuck a slice away before anyone caught sight of it (meaning of course I could also eat it in peace and quiet later too). What’s not to love about buttery shortbread layered with salted caramel!

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Salted Caramel Walnut Slice

Ingredients
250 g Butter, softened
100 g Sugar
100 g Cornflour
50 g Icing sugar
350 g Flour
1 can Caramel flavoured sweetened condensed milk
50 g Walnuts, chopped
1¼ tsp Salt
Directions
  1. Heat oven to 170C and line a 20×30 slice tin with nonstick baking paper.
  2. cream butter and sugar, add cornflour, icing sugar and flour. Mix together until it forms a ball.
  3. Divide the mixture in half, use one half to press it into the tin and place the other half in the fridge.
  4. Bake for 20 minutes until just starting to colour. Remove from the oven and cool.
  5. Mix salt into the caramel condensed milk and spread evenly over the cooled base. Sprinkle over the walnuts. Dice up the remaining dough and sprinkle evenly over the top.
  6. Return to the oven and bake for a further 20 minutes. When cool, slice into squares and store in a biscuit tin.

Foodporn Friday: Chocolate Blackout Cake

My version of the Brooklyn Blackout Cake – moist cake, layered with an intensely chocolatey pudding, then covered with chocolate ganache frosting it becomes wonderfully rich and fudgy. It will satisfy even the strongest chocolate cravings!

Blackout Cake

Chocolate Blackout Cake

Chocolate Pudding Filling:

4 large egg yolks
2/3 cup (132 g) granulated sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/3 cup cocoa
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (240 ml) milk
2/3 cup (160 ml) heavy cream
3 ounces (85 g) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch, cocoa, and salt at medium speed for about 1 minute.

In a medium, heavy saucepan, combine the milk and cream, and bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk about 1/2 of the hot cream mixture into the yolk mixture. Whisk this mixture into the remaining cream mixture in the saucepan. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil. Continue to boil, whisking, for 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the chocolate and butter until it is completely melted. Pass the filling through a fine-mesh sieve into a small bowl. Cover the surface of the pudding with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, until chilled.

Chocolate Cake:

Beat for at least 5 minutes:
1.5 cups (300 g) sugar
4 eggs
half tsp vanilla

Mix well:
30g cocoa (3 heaped tablespoons)
3/4 cup boiling water

Add the following to egg & sugar mixture and beat well:
1 1/4 cup flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 cup oil
1/2 tsp salt

Then add hot cocoa and beat well.

Bake in two 20cm baking pans 25 mins at 180 C

Chocolate Ganache Frosting:

115 g dark/bittersweet chocolate, chopped
150 g butter, softened
1/3 cup cocoa
1 2/3 cups (190 g) confectioners/icing sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Put chocolate in a medium stainless steel bowl and place the bowl over a pot of barely simmering water. Heat, stirring frequently, until the chocolate is completely melted. Remove the bowl from over the pot and set the chocolate aside to cool until tepid.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the butter at medium speed until creamy, about 30 seconds. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar and cocoa and beat at high speed for 2 minutes, until creamy. Beat in the vanilla extract. Add the cooled chocolate at low speed, mixing until blended and scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Increase the speed to high and beat for 1 minute, until slightly aerated. Use the frosting immediately, or cover well and keep at room temperature for up to 3 hours before using.

Assembling the cake:

Using a large serrated knife, cut the two chocolate cake layers in half, to create 4 layers (I find this easier to do if the cakes have been put in the freezer for an hour first).

Place one cake layer on a serving plate and spread over a third of the filling. Top with another cake layer, and another third of the filling. Continue until you have a four-tiered cake at this stage. Use any excess chocolate filling to crumb coat the cake and place in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Spread the chocolate thinly over the top and sides of the cake. Then pipe dots vertically down the side of the cake and smear each dot out with the back of a teaspoon, repeat until the cake is covered.

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Foodporn Friday: Nutella Cheesecake

Nutella. Cheesecake. Two of my favourite things, together… this is an adjustment to my Peanutbutter Toblerone Cheesecake recipe and its one I will definitely be making again!

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Nutella Cheesecake

1-1/4 cups choc biscuit or oreo crumbs
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 pkg. (250 g each) Philadelphia Cream Cheese, softened
2 cups Nutella, divided
1 cup sugar
1-1/2 cups whipped cream, divided
Toasted hazelnuts for decoration (optional)

Mix crumbs and butter; press onto bottom of 9-inch springform pan. Refrigerate 10 min.

Beat cream cheese, 1 cup of Nutella and sugar with mixer until well blended. Whisk in 1 cup whipped cream. Spoon over crust. Refrigerate for 3 hours.

Microwave the remaining whipping cream until warm and then stir in the remaining cup of Nutella until smooth. Cool slightly. Pour over cheesecake. Refrigerate until firm. Top with toasted hazelnuts if you choose. When ready to serve, run knife around rim of pan to loosen cake; remove rim.

Foodporn Friday: Baklava Birthday Cake

I’ve been collecting Pinterest recipes for, well… ages. And last year I planned to make a baklava cake I’d seen on Pinterest for my birthday but life kinda got in the way so this year I was determined this cake would be mine.

I love Baklava, the spice, the nuts, the syrup soaked pastry. Its pretty perfect on its own. But as a cake? Thats a new level of awesome!

So, here’s how mine turned out. I used this recipe but it makes a 6-inch version and I needed a bigger cake. I added a third to all the ingredients and made it in a 9-inch version.

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Foodporn Friday: Cappucino Macarons & Raspberry Macarons

Today Destructaboy looked thoughtfully at the way I was dressed, pointed to my middle and said “What’s that?”. I replied that it was my belt. His eyes widened in horror and he said “but Mum, its SQUISHING YOU!”. He may have a point. Less macarons perhaps? Or a larger belt? I think I’ll go with a larger belt.

This week I thought I’d see how many different types of macarons I could get out of a single batch of plain, uncoloured macaron shells. I still had some leftover sticky toffee pudding filling from my previous batch so I made up a batch of macaron mix, piped it out and then sprinkled instant espresso powder on 1 third of the drying shells (for cappucino macarons), mixed spice on the next third (for sticky toffee pudding macarons) and rainbow sprinkles on the rest just because I could (for raspberry macarons). The raspberry is my favourite, I love the hit of intense raspberry in the centre!

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Macaron shells
150 g icing sugar
140 g almond meal
110 g egg whites, split into 2 bowls of 55g each
150 g caster sugar
38 ml water
1 g meringue powder

Sift the almond meal and icing sugar, set aside in a large wide bowl.

Put the first lot of egg whites into your stand mixer.

Clip the sugar thermometer according to manufacturer’s instructions to a milk saucepan, put the water and caster sugar in and dissolve the sugar over a low heat. Leave it to heat up and don’t stir it.

Cook the sugar syrup until it reaches 70°C. You should monitor your sugar thermometer, and as it reaches this temperature, add the meringue powder to the egg whites and whisk in medium speed until it becomes frothy.

Once the sugar syrup has reached 118°C (soft ball stage), take the saucepan off the heat, keep the mixer speed on medium and slowly trickle the sugar syrup in, down the side of the bowl. Increase speed to high and whisk until the bowl is warm to touch, about 8 minutes.

Add the second lot of egg whites to the almond meal mix, then add the meringue and use a large spatula to thoroughly combine it. Continue mixing the mixture to soften the meringue. Don’t be afraid to slap the mixture down to achieve “macaronnage”, but don’t over do this.

Scoop half into a piping bag. I trace circles onto paper and place beneath my baking paper to get even rounds, but freehand it if you wish. Squeeze the mixture in the centre of the rounds and as it is close to filling the circle, stop squeezing and flick the tip from three o’clock to 6 o’clock. This ensures a smooth top.

Once done hold the baking tray firmly and give it a few sharp bangs on the counter to dislodge any air bubbles in the macarons. Then leave on the counter to rest for 30 minutes while a skin forms. This will ensure your macarons have nice ‘feet’.

I bake mine at 145°C, for 13 minutes. Check after 7 minutes and judge from there – when ready the macaron should peel easily from the paper without leaving any macaron behind.

Once out of the oven, I slide the baking paper onto a cold surface. This causes a thermal shock and will make it even easier to peel off.

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Raspberry Filling Ingredients:

150g unsalted butter, softened
2 Cups Icing Sugar
2-3 Tbsp cream
Raspberry Jam

Beat the butter until smooth and pale. Gradually add the icing sugar, half a cup at a time, with enough of the cream to make a creamy mixture, beating between each addition until fluffy. Add 2 – 3 tablespoons of the raspberry jam and combine.

Transfer to a piping bag and pipe into the centre of one macaron shell. Add a dollop of rasberry jam to the centre and sandwich it with another macaron shell.  Repeat until all your Macarons are used up.

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Cappucino Filling Ingredients:

150g unsalted butter, softened
2 Cups Icing Sugar
2-3 Tbsp cream
2 tablespoons of espresso

Beat the butter until smooth and pale. Gradually add the icing sugar, half a cup at a time, with enough of the cream to make a creamy mixture, beating between each addition until fluffy. Add the espresso.

Transfer to a piping bag and pipe into the centre of one macaron shell before sandwiching it with another macaron shell.  Repeat until all your Macarons are used up.

Macaron Monday: Sticky Toffee Macarons and Rose & Cardamom Macarons

Ok, so the title is a stretch but I didnt feel like waiting until Friday to post this. I had a day off this week and spent it doing my favourite thing, sleeping making macarons. I made a single batch of mixture which I split in two to create pink shells for my rose & cardamom macarons and brown shells for my sticky toffee pudding macarons. Both are really good, but the sticky toffee pudding is unbelievable…

Macaron shells
150 g icing sugar
140 g almond meal
110 g egg whites, split into 2 bowls of 55g each
150 g caster sugar
38 ml water
1 g meringue powder

Sift the almond meal and icing sugar, set aside in a large wide bowl.

Put the first lot of egg whites into your stand mixer.

Clip the sugar thermometer according to manufacturer’s instructions to a milk saucepan, put the water and caster sugar in and dissolve the sugar over a low heat. Leave it to heat up and don’t stir it.

Cook the sugar syrup until it reaches 70°C. You should monitor your sugar thermometer, and as it reaches this temperature, add the meringue powder to the egg whites and whisk in medium speed until it becomes frothy.

Once the sugar syrup has reached 118°C (soft ball stage), take the saucepan off the heat, keep the mixer speed on medium and slowly trickle the sugar syrup in, down the side of the bowl. Increase speed to high and whisk until the bowl is warm to touch, about 8 minutes.

Add the second lot of egg whites to the almond meal mix, then add the meringue and use a large spatula to thoroughly combine it. Continue mixing the mixture to soften the meringue. Don’t be afraid to slap the mixture down to achieve “macaronnage”, but don’t over do this.

Scoop half into a piping bag. I trace circles onto paper and place beneath my baking paper to get even rounds, but freehand it if you wish. Squeeze the mixture in the centre of the rounds and as it is close to filling the circle, stop squeezing and flick the tip from three o’clock to 6 o’clock. This ensures a smooth top.

Once done hold the baking tray firmly and give it a few sharp bangs on the counter to dislodge any air bubbles in the macarons. Then leave on the counter to rest for 30 minutes while a skin forms. This will ensure your macarons have nice ‘feet’.

I bake mine at 145°C, for 13 minutes. Check after 7 minutes and judge from there – when ready the macaron should peel easily from the paper without leaving any macaron behind.

Once out of the oven, I slide the baking paper onto a cold surface. This causes a thermal shock and will make it even easier to peel off.

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Rose & Cardamom Filling Ingredients:

150g unsalted butter, softened
2 Cups Icing Sugar
2-3 Tbsp cream
Rose water to taste
Cardamom to taste

Beat the butter until smooth and pale. Gradually add the icing sugar, half a cup at a time, with enough of the cream to make a creamy mixture, beating between each addition until fluffy. Add the rose water and cardamom a little at a time tasting between each addition.

Transfer to a piping bag and pipe into the centre of one macaron shell before sandwiching it with another.  Repeat until all your Macarons are used up.

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Sticky Toffee Pudding Filling Ingredients:

200g chopped dates
30g unsalted butter
1/4 tsp mixed spice
1 tbsp golden syrup
Few drops vanilla extract
60ml cream

Place the chopped dates, butter, spice, syrup and extract in a pan and just cover with a little water.  Cook gently, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes until the liquids are absorbed.

Stir in the cream and mix well. Puree the mix in a blender or food processor and set aside to cool.

Transfer to a piping bag and pipe into the centre of one macaron shell before sandwiching it with another.  Repeat until all your Macarons are used up.

Foodporn Friday: Chocolate toffee & passionfruit macarons

I’ve been baking a LOT and eating a lot in the last few weeks, but forgetting to take any pictures while doing so… its a great excuse to remake a lot of what I’ve baked recently so I can blog it. This weekend I got stuck in and made macarons in two flavours – chocolate toffee, and passionfruit – and remembered to take photos. My lovely little people (and their dad) were kind enough to let me spend the whole day baking peacefully :)

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I used the Toblerone Macaron recipe from Hopes. Dreams. Aspirations, added a little more cocoa and instead used Caramello Chocolate in a ganache for the filling.

Macaron shells
150 g icing sugar
140 g almond meal
10g cocoa powder
110 g egg whites, split into 2 bowls of 55g each
150 g caster sugar
38 ml water
1 g meringue powder

Sift the almond meal, icing sugar and cocoa powder, set aside in a large wide bowl.

Put the first lot of egg whites into your stand mixer.

Clip the sugar thermometer according to manufacturer’s instructions to a milk saucepan, put the water and caster sugar in and dissolve the sugar over a low heat. Leave it to heat up and don’t stir it.

Cook the sugar syrup until it reaches 70°C. You should monitor your sugar thermometer, and as it reaches this temperature, add the meringue powder to the egg whites and whisk in medium speed until it becomes frothy.

Once the sugar syrup has reached 118°C (soft ball stage), take the saucepan off the heat, keep the mixer speed on medium and slowly trickle the sugar syrup in, down the side of the bowl. Increase speed to high and whisk until the bowl is warm to touch, about 8 minutes.

Add the second lot of egg whites to the almond meal mix, then add the meringue and use a large spatula to thoroughly combine it. Continue mixing the mixture to soften the meringue. Don’t be afraid to slap the mixture down to achieve “macaronnage”, but don’t over do this.

Scoop half into a piping bag. I trace circles onto paper and place beneath my baking paper to get even rounds, but freehand it if you wish. Squeeze the mixture in the centre of the rounds and as it is close to filling the circle, stop squeezing and flick the tip from three o’clock to 6 o’clock. This ensures a smooth top.

Once done hold the baking tray firmly and give it a few sharp bangs on the counter to dislodge any air bubbles in the macarons. Then leave on the counter to rest for 30 minutes while a skin forms. This will ensure your macarons have nice ‘feet’.

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I bake mine at 145°C, for 13 minutes. Check after 7 minutes and judge from there – when ready the macaron should peel easily from the paper without leaving any macaron behind.

Once out of the oven, I slide the baking paper onto a cold surface. This causes a thermal shock and will make it even easier to peel off.

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Filling Ingredients:
150g Caramello Chocolate
150ml cream

Instructions:
Break up chocolate into small chunks. Bring cream up to a boil in a pan, and pour over the chocolate. Let it sit for a minute before stirring. Let it cool and thicken in the fridge.

Spread a teaspoon of ganache on half of your shells and top them with the remaining half of your shells.

For the passionfruit macarons, I omitted the cocoa powder from the shells and instead added a vivid purple gel colour to the sugar mixture before adding to the egg whites. Then I filled with a buttercream that had been flavoured with passionfruit puree.

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Foodporn Friday: Dairy- and Gluten-free Mediterranean Orange Cake

We have a few dairy and gluten-free people at work and every now and then when there is a birthday they get an orange cake in from Pandoro Bakery. It is always divine, moist and sweet without being overpowering (and because its ‘healthy’ I can always justify a second slice). I thought I’d try make it at home and found this recipe online. The only change I’ve made is to cook the oranges in my crockpot because watching a pot on the stove for 3 hours sounded like far too much hard work. This is definitely a keeper!

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Dairy- and Gluten-free Mediterranean Orange Cake (adapted from Pandoro Bakery as printed in The New Zealand Baker)

Ingredients
For orange slush:
3 large or 4 medium oranges

For cake:
15g (1Tbl) baking powder
310g ground blanched almonds
8 eggs
310g white sugar
375g orange slush (see below)

For glaze:
1/2 cup apricot jam plus 1/3 cup water
natural flaked/slivered almonds, lightly toasted

Make orange slush the day before you’re going to make the cake, which you will then make a day before you plan to serve it.

Orange slush:
Wash the oranges well, slice the tops and bottoms off them so they can sit flat, place in a slow cooker/crockpot covered with water and cook until soft (3/4hrs on high). Drain off excess water. Puree whole oranges (including peel) to a smooth slush in a food processor. Place in a bowl and cover. Refrigerate overnight.

Cake:
Preheat oven to 170 C (335 F) and prepare a 23-cm (10-inch) springform or other round tin by greasing and lining the bottom with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together baking powder and ground almonds.
In a large bowl, whisk together eggs and sugar until combined.
To egg mixture, add ground almond mixture and orange slush, and mix gently just to combine.
Pour cake batter into tin and bake for between 50 to 80 minutes until cake is golden brown and cake tester comes out clean.
Cool cake in tin overnight.
Next day remove from tin to serving plate.

Glaze:
Melt together apricot jam and water on stove or in microwave and bring just to a boil. Strain to remove any fruit lumps. While glaze is still warm, brush entire cake top and sides until glossy.
Sprinkle cake with a ring of toasted almonds around top edge to make a wreath. Serve and refrigerate any leftovers.

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