Ain’t no one got time for that| Banoffee Pavlova

Pot lucks and picnics, dinner parties and barbecues, shindigs and hootenannies. There’s a myriad of pre-Christmas catch-ups in the pipeline for all of us, so in the interest of being prepared (and also greedy) I’m lining up a couple of crowd-pleasing recipes for you to keep in your back pocket!

First up, Banoffee Pavlova.

Pavlova is pretty traditional at this time of year. I mean, why WOULDN’T you take complete advantage off all of that beautiful seasonal fruit? Uh, because everything is made better with cream and caramel, and fruit makes it almost look like healthy, and you know I ain’t got time for that. Obviously.

I made this a couple of weeks ago for a food bloggers picnic (Thanks Bryton for organising!), and good gravy, it was tasty. You know you’re onto a winner when no one could resist eating dessert first!

Meringue remains a current obsession of mine, which is fuelled by the fact that my gas oven is basically a furnace, running faaaar too hot to bake pavlova properly. Every time I make one, it doesn’t fails, which infuriates me, which gives me a steely resolve to get the next one right, which then fails, rinse, repeat. If you’re having some trouble with your pavlovas, I found this to be really helpful with troubleshooting.

Hell, if you get really stuck, you can buy a pavlova and just throw this together… Though, as always, making your own is a thousand times more satisfying. Trust me on this, a well-made meringue is a thing of great beauty.

 

 

Banoffee Pavlova

300g caster sugar
5 large egg whites

2-3 medium sized ripe bananas, sliced
250g tub mascarpone
½ cup whipping cream
½ – ¾ cup caramel sauce, approx (I used El Asador dulce de leche, but you can make your own, or even use Top N Fill in a pinch)
2 Crunchie/Violet Crumble or Flake bars, crushed

 

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Line a baking tray with baking paper. Spread the sugar over the tray in an even layer, then bake for 5 minutes to melt the edges.

Place the egg whites in a bowl and whisk on low (either with a freestanding mixer or electric beater) until they froth up a little bit, then increase the speed and beat until stiff peaks form. Remove the sugar from the oven, turn the temperature down to 100°C and leave the door open a little to help cool the oven down. With the mixer on high, add a spoonful of sugar to the egg mixture at a time. Once sugar is combined, continue whisking for a further 5 minutes until stiff, smooth and glossy.

Carefully spoon the meringue onto a baking sheet lined with baking paper (I split mine into two), making a little well in the middle. Bake for two hours, then turn off the oven and leave to cool completely.

When ready to serve, combine the mascarpone and whipping cream, and whip together until it forms soft peaks. Spoon half of the cream over each pavlova, then top with 1 sliced banana, half the caramel sauce (there’s no such thing as too much caramel, so if you need more, use more!) and 1 crumbled Crunchie/Flake bar. VERY carefully place one pavlova on top of the other, and serve.

IMG_1683

Image via @brytontaylor Instagram

 

IMG_1480

Cops & Spiders| Apple Pie Biscuits

If you follow me on any form of social media, you will know The Spider Story.

If you don’t, here’s a quick recap:

IMG_1243

Essentially, I had a great time joking around (mostly… Seriously, I need an on-call spider killer. Please. Apply within.) with the Kensington Police about sending someone to squish a spider for me. Before long, it had taken on a life of its own, and I found myself delivering morning tea to the station to say thanks for them having an excellent sense of humor.

I had a really great morning getting to meet Senior Sargent Goy, Constable Roberts and the rest of the team. But what I enjoyed the most was getting to chat to them about their love for Vic Park, swapping coffee tips and restaurant finds, and generally sharing the love for an up-and-coming hub. It was really lovely to spend time with people who genuinely love the city that they serve and protect, and are working towards making it a better place. Hats off to you, Kenso Cops!

Biscuits are essentially American scones, typically made with buttermilk. If you don’t have buttermilk (it’s in the fridge section of the supermarket with the milk), this is my favourite substitute. Works a treat!

Coming into Spring, these are a great treat to take along on a picnic (that still happens, right?) or barbecue. If your kids are on holidays, this is also a great recipe for them to make themselves.

 

Apple Pie Biscuits

From Joy the Baker

 

For the apples:
1  apple
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar

For the biscuits:
2 cups Self-Rising Flour
1/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2/3 to 3/4 cup cold buttermilk

For the topping:
1 large egg, beaten
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of salt

 

Preheat the oven to 220 C/425 F. Line a baking tray with baking paper, and set aside.

For the apples, peel and slice thinly with a mandolin. Toss together the apple slices with the melted butter, cinnamon and brown sugar until coated, then place in a baking tray. Place in the oven for 5 minutes, then set aside (you don’t want the apple cooked through).

IMG_1121

To make the dough, place the flour and cold butter in a bowl bug enough to get your hands in to. Work the butter into the flour with your fingers until the mixture is crumbly. Stir in the sugar. Add 2/3 cup of buttermilk, then mix together until well combined and the mixture is moist, soft and holds together. Add more buttermilk if needed.

Dust your bench well with flour, then turn out the dough. Shape the dough into a rectangle, the, with a rolling pin, roll out to a large rectangle about ½ inch thick, about 18cm by 25cm.

Spoon the apples in a single layer over half of the dough, leaving a small border. Fold the rest of the dough over the apples, and press the edges together to seal. Cut the dough into 12 then place on to your baking tray.

IMG_1122

Combine together the sugar, cinnamon and salt. Brush the top of the biscuits with the egg wash, then sprinkle over the sugar mixture.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until golden. Enjoy warm or cold, with custard or cream. Or ice cream. Or on their own. It’s all good.

IMG_1130

I found that they went a little soggy the day after, so they’re best eaten the day you make them (they’re still delicious the next day though, so don’t let a little soggy stop you).
P.S. If you know of a cop in your community who’s doing an amazing job, why not nominate them for a WA Police Excellence Award?

The Sweet Swap | Salted Caramel Swirl Marshmallows

I love mail.

I mean, proper mail. Not bills, or pizza delivery flyers, not junk mail. Ain’t no one got time for that.

So when I heard about The Sweet Swap, you can bet I was signing up for something that results in me getting delicious treats in the post. Why wouldn’t you!?

I had been inspired to give marshmallow-making a go after reading this post by The Sugar Hit – I mean, how hard could it be?

So I made one batch. That went fine.

I started on a second. I dropped and smashed my thermometer. I then burnt the sugar syrup. In a moment of brain snap, I poured the syrup straight into the bin… Where, because sugar syrup is basically lava, it melted through the bin liner (and half of the contents), pooled in the bottom of the bin, and set like toffee. The whole bin went into the garbage (and I still owe Blair a new one).

Oops.

One week and a new thermometer later, and these guys came to fruition. So very, very pretty, and very, very tasty.

IMG_0714

 

Salted Caramel Swirl Marshmallows

From Bake or Break

For the coating:
3/4 cup icing sugar
1/2 cup cornflour

For the marshmallows:
1/2 cup salted caramel sauce (bought or your own recipe)
4 & 1/2 teaspoons unflavored powdered gelatin
1/2 cup cold water
3/4 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup, divided
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Sift together the corn flour and icing sugar in a small bowl, set aside.

Lightly coat a square brownie tin with oil, then dust the pan with the icing sugar mixture.

In a microwave safe bowl, combine the gelatin with 1/2 cup cold water and leave to bloom for 5 minutes.

In a medium saucepan, combine 1/4 cup corn syrup, 1/4 cup water and salt and bring to a boil. Stirring occasionally, bring to a temperature of 240*f/115*c.

While the syrup boils, heat the gelatin in the microwave for 30 seconds or until melted. Pour into the bowl of a stand mixer with the remaining 1/4 cup corn syrup, then turn the mixer on low.

Once the syrup has reached temperature, remove from heat and veeeery slowly add to the gelatin mixture, while the mixer is still on low. Once combined, increase the speed to medium and beat for 5 minutes. Increase the speed again, beating for a further 5 minutes. Then, increase to high, add the vanilla and beat for 2 minutes. The mixture should have tripled in volume and be white and fluffy.

Add 1/4 of the marshmallow mixture to a bowl, and stir in the caramel until combined. Then scrape the caramel mixture back in to the marshmallow, and gently swirl together.

Pour evenly into the brownie tin, and smooth the top with a spatula. Leave the marshmallow uncovered in a cool dry place for 8 hours or overnight to firm.

Cut the marshmallows into squares, then toss with extra coating (this stops them from sticking) and tap off any excess. Enjoy!

 

Most marshmallows are gluten-free – just make sure the icing sugar and cornflour specifies that they are gluten-free (most do), and you’re on your way to an allergy friendly treat for the masses!

No good deed goes unpunished

Karma is a glorious but fickle thing. When it’s in your favour, everything is beautiful. But if it’s not… Pow! Right in the kisser!

While I can’t pretend I haven’t incurred karma’s wrath in times gone by, I do my level best to behave now that I’m older and wiser.

A few years back I had my handbag stolen while having lunch with some friends, and I was devastated.

The next day, in a flurry if trying to replace what I’d lost (so many limited edition lip glosses!), I got a call from my office to tell me that a stranger had found my bag in their front yard with my office ID in it, and returned what remained of my belongings. I was eternally grateful to the Samaritan who returned my bag, so when I happened across someone’s purse on my way into work last week, I set about returning it. Not because I need the karma points or I want to look good, but because it’s the right thing to do and someone was kind enough to do it for me.

Had I been able to thank the person who returned my things (I REALLY loved that bag), I would have given them a plate of these. Gently sweet, but not too much, slightly gooey and with the perfect amount of nuttiness thanks to the browned butter, these are the perfect way to say thank you to anyone, for any reason. Even if it’s just yourself!

Brown Butter Brown Sugar Blondies

From Savory Simple

113 grams unsalted butter
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 vanilla bean
1 cup plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon of baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
White chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat the oven to 180*c. Line a brownie tray with baking paper.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter, stirring frequently. Increase the heat to high, and continue to stir until the butter browns and smells toasted and nutty. Set aside to cool slightly.

Split the vanilla bean with a sharp knife and scrape out the seeds. Add to a small bowl with flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, vanilla extract, brown sugar and browned butter.

IMG_7819

Stir the dry ingredients into the wet until evenly combined. Add the white chocolate chips, if you’re using them. OF COURSE I’M USING THEM.

IMG_7826

Scrape the mixture into the brownie pan, spreading evenly.

IMG_7822

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool before serving.

IMG_7827

IMG_7829

I want to butter you up…

Welcome you your newest obsession. And by yours, I mean mine.

I have very few recipes that I cook more than once, least of all regularly – but this is going on regular rotation; I’ve made it twice this week, and it’s only Friday! As is the case with most of Tosi’s treats I attempt…. I’m kind of losing my shit here. I can’t tell you how much I love this. This recipe is another stroke of Christina Tosi genius (see: Compost Cookies, Sprinkle Birthday Cake). Everything she touches turns to incredibleness and this is no exception.

I’m warning you now, it’s pretty sweet. I’ve given you the recipe as it is, but the second time I made it, I cut it down to 300g of icing sugar because I wanted the tartness of the lime to show through. I can’t believe I’m saying this… But it’s too much sugar. The 300 grams I used was pretty spot on, but if you’re worried, you could use less.

One more note – this is called ooey gooey for a reason. It’s definitely messy, but that’s half the fun!

Strawberry and Lime Ooey Gooey Butter Bars

Adapted from Bakers Royale

1 box of butter cake mix
110g butter, melted
1 egg
Zest on 1 lime
250g/1 punnet strawberries, halved if large
225g cream cheese, softened
Juice of 2 limes
2 eggs
450g icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 170*c.

Mix together the cake mix, melted butter, lime zest and 1 egg until thoroughly combined. Press into a brownie tin, lined with baking paper. Pour the strawberries over the cake mix in an even layer.

IMG_7143

IMG_7144

Mix together the remaining eggs, cream cheese, sugar, lime juice and vanilla until smooth. Pour the mixture over the top of the strawberries and cake mix, and tap gently on the bench to level.

IMG_7145

Bake for 30 minutes, or until the edges are golden and the center still shakes what it’s mama gave it.

Leave to cool in the pan (seriously – don’t take it out, it will fall apart). If you want a clean cut, it helps to freeze for 30 minutes.

IMG_7160

IMG_7161

Playing the random game

Today, I don’t have a story to tell you. Some days that happens.

Instead, we are going to play my favourite non-board game, ‘Tell me something random’. To be fair, if you’re going to be spending some time hanging around here, you should know what you’re getting yourself in for…

  • I believed for a very long time that vampires lived in my cupboard, and so all doors had to be closed when I went to bed at night so they wouldn’t eat me. True story.
  • I have never broken a bone. I have compressed 5 vertebrae, and scored myself a wicked black eye, though. Does that count?
  • I love notebooks. I don’t like to write in them though, because it ruins the pretty white pages and I hate that. I’m aware that’s stupid.
  • If being 26 and still obsessed with dinosaurs is wrong, then I don’t want to be right.
  • Sometimes, just getting out of bed is a good enough reason to take a nap.
  • I truly believe that ice cream should be its own food group. I mean, it goes in milk shakes, sundaes, on waffles, it comes in a bajillion flavours… I’d eat it every day if I could.
  • I’m a ridiculous Harry Potter fan, however I refuse to watch the final movie because once I do, it’s all over. I haven’t worked out how to deal with that.
  • I don’t like mangoes. Or avocados. I know! I know! I’m weird.
  • I believe Grumpy Cat is my soul mate.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup plain flour
1/2 teaspoon bicarb soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
280 g chunky peanut butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup caster sugar
125 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
155 g chocolate, coarsely chopped

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a baking tray with baking paper.

Beat together the peanut butter, sugars, egg, butter and vanilla. Slowly combine the flour, bicarb soda and salt until combined. Fold through the chocolate chips evenly.

IMG_6293

Roll a couple of tablespoons worth of dough into a ball and place on the baking tray, spaced apart a couple of inches apart.

Bake for about 12 minutes, or until the cookies puff and begin to brown on top but are still very soft to the touch. Leave the cookies to cool completely.

IMG_6296

I warn you, these are a very soft cookie. A super delicious, soft and crumbly cookie. I used Gabriel’s dark chocolate that I found in my house (surprise stash!), chopped it up and threw it in the mix. The chocolate remained gooey once the cookies cooled. YUM.

P.S. I’d love to take a moment to share my favourite blogs at the moment. Check them out!

  • The Pub Diaries – Max was the author of the fantastic piece about food blogger’s in last Thursday’s West Australian (featuring meeeee). But I love his blog, full of little bit about Perth, pubs and beer related goodness.
  • Snackhole – My gorgeous friend Josie writes about my favourite food in the universe – junk food. The really bad for you kind. This sparks all manner of crazy cravings, and I LOVE it.
  • Lacey Street – Amy and Eliza have put together the most beautiful lifestyle blog, full of gorgeous pictures and general loveliness.

Language warning

In the tradition of Triple J: There is bad language comin’. It’s kind of necessary for the enthusiasm I have about this.

Oh my fucking god. Have you ever eaten something that sends your world spinning off its axis?

This. Here. Today. Now.

I know, I know. I get a little excited by things. I wax lyrical about how good things are. And I know that this is going to be a little bit of a leap of faith, because shit gets weird. I need you to stay with me here, because the results are well and truly worth it.

We put salt in caramel and chocolate. Pepper with strawberries. Fruit in savoury salads. We live dangerously with our flavours, and it’s all good.

So, imagine salty vinegaryness in a baked good. I know. Crazy, right? I’m talking leftover chips. In a cookie.

This recipe comes from Christina Tosi. Remember her? She’s the genius behind the Sprinkle Birthday cake I made back in September. This cookie here is one of her signature moves, and for good reason. It’s fucking awesome.

The best part is, no one will believe you that there are chips in there and no one will know if you don’t tell them. Unless they get a big chunk of the stuff, like one of the guys in my office did. He choked a little, and I did a really bad job of stifling giggles. But he’s ok, folks. Nothing to see here. I’ve made 3 batches of these for various groups of friends lately, and while they all thought I had finally fallen off the edge of sanity, they all lost their shit once they tried them.

I didn’t say I told them so. Actually… Wait. I did. BOOYA.

IMG_5882

I have changed the recipe a little bit, simply to make use of what I had at home. You should do the same! Add crushed biscuits, or leftover chocolates. I do not suggest that you use twisties instead of the S&V chips though. While we are baking dangerously, lets not get stupid here. If you want to see the original recipe, it’s here.

 

Compost Cookies

Adapted from Momofuku Milk Bar by Christina Tosi

250g butter, at room temperature
200g caster sugar
150g light brown sugar
1 egg
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
225g flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon bicarb soda
1 teaspoon sea salt
¾ cup chocolate chips (I used mini M&Ms)
½ cup white chocolate chips
1/3 cups porridge oats
2½ teaspoons ground or instant coffee
2 cups potato chips (I used salt & vinegar)
1 cup mini pretzels

1. Beat the sugars and butter together in a bowl until fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla, and beat for another couple of minutes.

2. Add the flour, bicarb, baking powder and salt, and mix until only just combined.

3. Gently fold the choc chips, M&Ms, oats and coffee into the mixture. Then, add the chips and pretzels, still folding gently so not to crush them too much.You kind of want big chunks of chip goodness!

IMG_5842

4. Tip: An ice cream scoop is the perfect size for these bad boys. Scoop the dough into balls, and put onto a tray lined with baking paper. Put in the fridge for at least an hour. *WARNING* Do not bake at room temperature!

IMG_5844

5. Heat oven to 190*c. The cookies spread more than you think – I was baking 6 on a tray at a tine so they wouldn’t crowd – give them a lot of space. Bake for 18 minutes, or until browned on the edge only. They will keep cooking once you take them out of the oven, and you don’t want them to be crispy.

This is what happens if you don't space them out

This is what happens if you don’t space them out

6. Cool on a wire rack before keeping in an airtight container. For the record, they keep for 5 days – but I’ve never known them to last that long.

IMG_5881

Note: You know those times where you read a step and think, ‘I don’t need that’? Overnight marinating, or resting a cut of meat? We all do it. There’s no judgement here. But today, you do not know better than the recipe. Refrigerate the damn cookies. If they don’t work, and you didn’t do this step, it’s your owwwwwn fault. You don’t want that, because these are worth every single second.

P.S. What have you got on this weekend? There are so many incredible things going on! Fringe World, Perth Festival, Chinese New Year! Everything is exciting!