Because cookies.

It's been a quiet couple of weeks in my kitchen. There was a quick chocolate tart for a fundraiser, and zucchini slice…..oh that giant carrot cake….and the first cake I've ever been paid for, which was the four tier version of my hubby's birthday cake.

I guess I've really just been slack at taking pictures and writing posts.

This morning, while hubby was at work (not a fan of him working Saturdays) and I sipped a cup of coffee with an unexciting sugar-free biscuit I nearly had to slap myself. Its Saturday. I'm not at work, there's no distractions, and I'm eating a store bought cookie? What on earth is going on here?!

So to rouse myself from my biscuit faux pas I made two different types of cookies. They were all laid out cooling on the worktop when sadly hubby knocked an entire tray of salted peanut butter cookies onto the floor….but the recipe made so many that I'll forgive him….this time!

I've made this Frangipane Jam Drop cookies once before, and while they are very soft, they are quick to disappear.

These salted peanut butter cookies are a new find from SmittenKitchen….and I have to admit I was hesitant about the sprinkly of sea salt….but now that I've tasted one (or two, or um anyway) I'm totally sold on the idea. It will be interesting to see how long these last….given how hard it is to not pick at them constantly.

The Salted Peanut Butter Cookies recipe can be found here, and are quick and easy to put together.

The Frangipane Jam Drops are from the Womens Weekly 'Baking Day' (yes the same as those Lemon Squares). I didn't use a wooden spoon though…I used the round end of a metal teaspoon.

Ingredients

  • 125g unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 110g caster sugar
  • 120g almond meal
  • 1 large egg
  • 100g plain flour (sifted)
  • 2 tablespoons raspberry jam

Method

Preheat the oven to 180C. Line two oven trays with baking paper.

Beat butter, extract, sugar and almond meal in a small bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add egg, beating until just combined. Stir in sifted flour.

Drop level tablespoons of mixture on trays 5cm apart. They will spread a little. Use the round end of a metal teaspoon to make a small hole in each biscuit. Fill each hole with 1/4 teaspoon of jam.

Bake about 15mins each, and allow to cool on the tray.

 

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Rum, Rum, Rum

My husbands birthday each year is….hmmm…difficult. I want to celebrate, and he wants to pretend its a normal day. I won, I think this year, in a quiet, but fun with the most awesome present I could think to buy him. An enormous hooded BBQ that I’m pretty sure he could cook me in….

I spent a couple of weeks wondering what to do about a birthday cake. He only has a few favourite things, one being Bundeberg Rum (yes, I married a rum drinker….but at least we don’t have to worry about each other drinking our own booze!) and another being chocolate.

So I started wondering…..how could I make the most amazing chocolate and rum based cake? And then, of course, it spiralled uncontrollably from there.

There are four elements to this cake, each one with its own hit of rum, so of course, when the extended family dropped by, the kiddies missed out on rum balls, and had very skinny slices.

It took quite a lot of coordination to get all the elements together, and perhaps my rum balls were too big, as the final product didn’t quite look how I’d imagined it would. But, it all disappeared pretty quickly, and most importantly the birthday boy thought it was pretty damn fine.

Michael’s Birthday Rum Cake – with White Chocolate Creme Pattisiere, Chocolate Rum Fudge Icing, and Rum Balls

The Chocolate Cake – adapted from KitchenAid

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (55g) dark baking cocoa
  • 50ml boiling water
  • 50ml dark rum
  • 125g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups (280g) caster sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
  • 1 rounded tablespoon of strawberry jam

Method

Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease and line a deep 20cm cake pan with butter and baking paper.

Place the cocoa, boiling water and rum in a bowl and mix until smooth. Set aside.

Place the butter in the mixing bowl of a stand mixer and beat for 20 secs. Add the vanilla and sugar and beat until light and fluffy. This could be up to five minutes so don’t be in a rush.

Add the eggs one at a time, beating well and scrapping down the sides if required. Once all the eggs are in, turn the mixer off to add the flour, cocoa mixture, and jam. Beat on a low-speed until its well combined. My mixer is a little high, so I make sure to use a spatula to get the bottom mixed in.

Pour into the prepared pan, and bake for 50mins. Just be careful of the sides and top getting dried out, you might need to pop a foil cover over to protect it.

Stand for 10 minutes before turning out. Allow to cool completely.

The White Chocolate Creme Pattisierre – taken from my Chocolate E’clair receipe

Chocolate Rum Fudge Icing – adapted from Donna Hay magazine, Issue 76 – Chocolate friands with mocha fudge icing

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (250ml) single pouring cream
  • 1 tablespoon dark rum
  • 300g dark chocolate (either chopped or in buttons)

Method

Place the cream and rum in a small saucepan and bring to the boil over a medium heat. Remove from the heat, add the chocolate and allow to stand for 5 minutes before whisking until smooth.

Pour the mixture into a bowl and allow to cool for 30-40 minutes.

When ready to ice the cake, whisk the icing to ensure smooth.

Rum Balls – adapted Donna Hay magazine, Issue 72 – Dark Chocolate and Rum Truffles

Ingredients

  • 300g store-bought fruit cake
  • 2 tablespoons dark rum
  • 200g dark chocolate, melted
  • 400g dark chocolate, extra, melted

Method

Place the fruit cake and rum in a food processor and process to combine. Place the mixture in a bowl with the melted chocolate and mix to combine. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or until just set.

Roll the mixture into teaspoon sized balls. Using two forks, dip the truffles into the extra melted chocolate and place on a lightly greased wire rack over a baking tray lined with non-stick baking paper.

Refrigerate until set.

Putting it all together!

I pinched the Jamie Oliver method with toothpicks to cut my cake into two layers. It’s not 100% foolproof but certainly gets me closer than winging it with my serrated knife.

Fill the layers with as much White Chocolate Creme Pattissiere as you like. For me it’s definitely more is better!

Top with the Chocolate Rum Fudge Icing, and then add as many Rum Balls as you fancy.

Add sparklers, sing enthusiastically and enjoy.

Waffle I do?

I still had jam left over. And trying not to waste my very expensive, foolishly purchased strawberries I decided to make something for breakfast the next morning to help use them.

I don't have a waffle pan. Its a dangerous thing, waffle pans….it encourages you to eat more waffles.

I do have a griddle pan. And Jamie Oliver, has a griddle pan waffle recipe.

Winning.

Griddle Pan Waffles

I would suggest you jump straight over here to view the recipe: Jamie Oliver Griddle Pan Waffles

I enlisted the help of my hubby to do the flipping, because its a bit tricky to flip as one giant piece, and I may or may not have forgotten to add the melted butter. Maybe. I'm admitting to nothing. I also had my stovetop to hot, hence the somewhat blackened centre. Nevermind.

My first waffle had bacon, eggs and maple syrup, which was delicious. The next one used up the left over jam with a little scoop of yoghurt. Both ways worked really well.

 

 

Strawberry Fields

We had a long weekend recently in Brisbane, which felt disjointed because hubby worked the Saturday, and I worked the Monday. My sister was away on a beach holiday and I had a day with which to work out how to run solo, without spending the entire thing at home.

So I ventured out, on foot, to a recently started local market. It was a little to warm honestly for the 7.5km round trip, but, thankfully no birdlife swooped me on the way.

Hot, sweaty and very thirsty (hydration Cookie, when will you learn?) my first purchase was a Virgin Mojito Ice Tea. Over a week later and I'm still thinking about it……mmm…..mojito…..and I can't be sure if I loved it, because it was awesome, or because I was hot and thirsty and it was full of ice!

It was a harder choice on the food front, when my head kept saying 'yeah, but I could make that' and I finally convinced myself on a lemon slice for comparative purposes. And yeah, I should have made that! I did cave and buy some churros in a cup…..because in all honesty, deep frying scares the bejesus outta me.

Then came the most foolish purchase. Absolute folly. 2kgs of fresh strawberries. Why? They smelt amazing, cost more than I should have paid, but the smell was just hypnotising. After 40mins jammed in my backpack on a hot day though, they were a bit squished.

So, what do you do with 2kgs of 'a bit squished' strawberries? Well, you cook with them of course.

Strawberry Sillyness Part 1 – Jam

While flicking through some recipe magazines I came across a quick strawberry jam recipe. Perfect for using up the very squished strawberries.

from Donna Hay magazine, Issue 71 page 122

Ingredients

  • 500g strawberries, hulled and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup (110g) caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (the recipe was for white, but I used what I had to hand).

Method

Heat a large non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. Add the strawberries, sugar, vanilla bean paste and stir until the strawberries start to soften and release liquid. Bring to the boil and cook, stirring, occassionally, for 14-18 minutes or until thickened.

Add the vinegar, and stir well to combine. Remove from the heat, and allow to cool completely. Refigerate until cold.

 

Of course, that left me with the 'what do I do with strawberry jam' question. I made a cake. Yes, how predictable.

My First Chocolate Sponge Layer Cake

This is also from the same Donna Hay magazine, same page even, but instead of pairing my jam with a classic Victoria sponge, I picked the chocolate sponge from the next recipe because…..well….'Chocolate?'. Need I say more?

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (75g) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/2 cup (110g) caster sugar
  • 50g unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Lightly grease 2x20cm round shallow cake tins and line them with non-stick baking paper.

Sift the flour, baking powder and cocoa three times and aside. I did this three times. I'll be honest, I don't know why. Next time I won't and we'll see if it makes a diference.

Place the eggs and sugar in an electric mixer and whisk on high speed for 12-15minutes or until pale, thick and tripled in volume. Sift half the flour mixture over the egg mixture and using a large metal spoon, gently fold to combine. Repeat with the remaining flour. Add the butter and fold to combine. Divide the mixture between the tins and gently spread the mixture evenly with a palette knife.

Bake for 14-18minutes or until the sponges are springy to the touch and come away from the sides of the tins. Remove the cakes from the tins and cool completely on wire racks.

 

At this point, I was worried that the jam and chocolate sponge needed something else….something perhaps like…..

Chocolate Rum Liqueur Buttercream

Because if we're in for a penny, we should be in for a pound. Right?

adapted from Marianne Hudsons 'cupcakes' recipe on page 96

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons chocolate rum liqueur. I used the Bundeberg Rum one, because my husband brought an ENTIRE CARTOON of the stuff.
  • 1 cup confectioners'/icing sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

Method

Combine all the topping ingredients in your electic mixer and whisk until combined, and as fluffy as you can get it.

 

So now we have one hell of a triumphant looking chocolate, strawberry cake with a layer of buttercream and jam between the sponge, and another layer of both up top. Delicious.