Pomegranate, Salted Caramel and White Chocolate Pan Cookie

Delicious. Is just what this delightful pan cookie was. I have been wanting to make one of these for a while now, and it certainly did not disappoint. Crispy on the outside, soft and gooey on the inside, plus the addition of creamy salted caramel = YUM!

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 The combination of the sweet white chocolate, salty caramel, and the fresh little pops of the pomegranate seeds were a really great mix together. However, I also made smaller cookies on their own, which were delicious, but very, very soft, due to the amount of salted caramel I added! This combination is perfect for a pan cookie, topped with more pomegranate and some ice cream. Plus, these are so easy to make, and are a great dessert to share, or not to share ;)

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 Pomegranate, Salted Caramel and White Chocolate Pan Cookie: 

Makes 1 pan cookie, and approximately 12 smaller cookies. You could halve this recipe for the pan cookie only.

  • 125g butter, chopped and softened, not melted
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, tightly packed
  • 1/2 cup castor (white) sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla bean paste/natural extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 3/4  cup self-raising flour
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 250g good quality white choc chips
  • 2 tbs salted caramel (I used a homemade one, but you could also use Dulce de Leche, Nestle Top ‘N’ Fill Caramel)
  • Seeds of ½ a pomegranate

Preheat the oven to 160c. Grease a small non-stick pan (I used a 17cm pan) with butter, and set aside. Beat the butter and sugar together until pale and creamy, approximately 3-4 minutes. Add the vanilla, and the eggs, one at a time until well combined. Stir in the flour with a wooden spoon, until completely mixed. Add the chocolate, salted caramel and pomegranate seeds, and mix well. Spoon mixture into prepared pan, filling it to the top, and smooth over mixture with a spoon. Place in pre-heated oven, and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until golden. Let cool for 5 minutes, and top with more pomegranate seeds and ice cream. Enjoy!

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FYI - you could easily use a bigger or smaller pan for this recipe, you would just need to adjust the cooking time, and keep an eye out for when the cookie is golden, or to your liking :) Also, sorry for the crappy photos. I had to quickly snap away before the sun went down!

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Halloween Spooky Spider Chocolate Oreos

Can you believe it’s Halloween already?! I’m a little bit excited about this, as it means it’s getting nice and close to the best time of year – Christmas! Halloween is not really a huge deal in Australia, although it seems to have become more popular in recent years. This is only the second post I’ve ever done on Halloween, and I’m definitely looking forward to doing more. There are some pretty cool baking ideas I found on Pinterest for Halloween. People are so creative. These Oreos, however, are probably not the most creative. They are, in fact, very easy to make and insanely delicious.

 

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I am a little bit obsessed with chocolate covered Oreos at the moment. I see stacks of them on Instagram, and some people make them look  like the most amazing little morsels of sparkly treasure, and you would never know that a humble Oreo biscuit was nestled inside. I have officially been inspired. Yum.

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So, why not cover an Oreo with a totally justifiable amount of chocolate, and then whack another Oreo on top? Just as well I could turn them into spiders, and that it’s coincidentally the week of Halloween!

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My chocolate piping skills are very obviously flawed! I can’t say I have really ever piped melted chocolate before, and it’s really not the easiest thing to do. The designs on these Oreos definitely could have been cleaner, but I don’t mind too much as the taste totally makes up for it! There is no recipe for these Oreos, it’s pretty self explanatory. A little bit of chocolate in the mould, the Oreo, and more chocolate. You just have to have the right moulds (I got mine from Baking Pleasures).

These Oreos are awesome. They are quick and easy to make, a great idea for cooking with kids and super versatiile – you can make them any colour and design them however you wish, and best of all, they are super delicious.

Happy Halloweeeeeeeeeeen!

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Top Deck Mini Cupcakes

It’s been a busy few weeks. I have been popping cupcakes out of my kitchen like no tomorrow! So, here, I present to you, Top Deck Mini Cupcakes. White Chocolate, and Dark Chocolate. It’s that simple.

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 These cupcakes are super easy to make, and are very delicious. I used the extremely trustworthy chocolate cupcake recipe that never lets me down, and my own white chocolate ganache to top them with. White Chocolate ganache is something I have always struggled to make. I find it is always runny, and I usually have to add a truckload of butter before it becomes somewhat of a pipe-able consistency. Nevertheless, it was yum!

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Chocolate Cupcakes:  (from Taste.com.au) 

Makes approx. 55 mini cupcakes

  • 100g good quality dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup water
  • 125g butter, chopped and softened, not melted
  • 1 1/4 cups brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups self raising flour
  • 1/2 cup plain flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa

Line trays with cupcake cases, and preheat oven to 160c, fan forced (170c regular). Place the chocolate and water together in a small saucepan, and place over a low heat, stirring with a metal spoon until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Set aside. Beat butter and sugar together until pale and creamy, approximately 3-4 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, and mix until each is well combined. Place flours and cocoa in a separate bowl, and stir to combine. Add the flour mixture to the butter, sugar and egg mixture and stir with a wooden spoon. Once combined, add the melted chocolate mixture and continue to stir with a wooden spoon until mixed. If the mixture is a little runny, leave it to settle for 10 minutes or so. Spoon mixture into cupcake cases, and bake for 15-18 minutes in preheated oven until cooked, or until a skewer comes out of the cake clean. Leave in trays to cool for 5 minutes, and transfer to a wire rack.

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 White Chocolate Ganache:

As I mentioned earlier, this is certainly not a perfect recipe. It took a lot of trial and error before I was happy with the taste and consistency. I would recommend making the white chocolate and cream mixture at least a few hours before, or even the day before.

 

  • 300g good quality white chocolate, chopped
  • 1/3 cup thickened cream
  • 300g butter, softened, not melted

Place the white chocolate and the cream into a small saucepan, and stir with a metal spoon, over a low heat, until melted and smooth. Pour mixture into a heat proof bowl, and place in refrigerator. Beat butter until pale and creamy. Depending on the consistency, you may need to put the white chocolate and cream mixture in the microwave for 10-15 seconds. Gradually add the mixture to the butter, and beat until combined.

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Spoon the ganache into a piping bag fitted with a small nozzle of your choice. Pipe ganache onto mini cupcakes. To store, place cupcakes in an airtight container, in a cool, dry place. Cupcakes will last approximately 2-3 days. Enjoy!

Vanilla Bean and Raspberry Melting Moments

Melting moments are one of my favourite biscuits to make, and one of my favourite doughs to eat! (Let’s face it, there aren’t many doughs that I wouldn’t eat!) They are so yummy, and this version takes the usual melting moments up a notch, with delicious homemade raspberry jam and vanilla buttercream.

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This recipe was featured on Masterchef Australia 2 years ago (I think?!), and won contestant Julia a challenge. I have been wanting to make these for a long time, like many others things, but I am very glad I finally did. They really are delicious and were certainly worth the wait! Yum! I will most definitely be making these little gems again.

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Vanilla Bean and Raspberry Melting Moments: (recipe by Julia Taylor on Masterchef Australia)

I doubled the original recipe, as it said it would only make 5 sandwiched biscuits. I ended up with about 25 with a double batch, although I did try and make them small.

Biscuits:

  • 360g unsalted butter, chopped and softened
  • 120g icing (confectioner’s) sugar
  • 120g custard powder
  • 1 tbs baking powder
  • 360g plain (all-purpose) flour

Preheat a fan forced oven to 180c. Line 2 oven trays with non-stick baking paper. Beat the butter until pale and creamy, about 2-4 minutes. Add the sugar and custard powder, and stir with wooden spoon until well combined. Add the flour and the baking powder to the dough, and stir with a wooden spoon until mixed well. Roll small ball of dough, and place them on the pre-lined oven trays. Press fork lightly onto dough, to leave an indent. Bake for approximately 12 minutes or until very slightly golden. Let biscuits cool on trays, then transfer to wire racks.

Raspberry Jam:

  • 200g fresh or frozen raspberries
  • 150g caster (white) sugar
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Tbs cold water
  • 1/2 tsp powdered gelatin

Place raspberries, sugar and lemon juice in a medium saucepan, and cook on low-medium heat for about 20-30 minutes, or until thickened. Remove from heat. Place water and gelatin together in a small bowl, and mix until combined. Stir into jam, and place in heatproof bowl, in the fridge, to cool.

Vanilla Bean Buttercream:

  • 250g butter, chopped and softened
  • 1 cup icing (confectioner’s) sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla bean paste/natural extract

Beat butter until pale and creamy, 2-4 minutes. Beat in vanilla bean paste. Gradually add the icing sugar and beat until all well combined. Spoon buttercream into a piping bag fitted with a medium star nozzle.

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To assemble:

Place likely pairs of biscuits, facing upwards, next to each other. On one biscuit spoon a small amount of the raspberry jam, and on the other biscuit, pipe a swirl of buttercream. Gently sandwich together. Be sure not to use too much jam as it will just drip out when you press the biscuits together. Biscuits are stored best in an airtight container, in a cool, dry place. FYI – they are also best made the day before, as both the jam and buttercream will set, and the flavour will develop also.

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Happy Baking! :)

Triple Salted Caramel Mini Cupcakes

I made these super delicious morsels for the RSPCA Cupcake Day at work, and I believe they were quite the hit. Well, I’m guessing they were, as there were none left at the end! If you follow my blog, you will know I am the number one lover of all things salted caramel, and these cupcakes did nothing to change my opinion. They were yum. Really yum.

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I’m happy I made the wise decision to make them minis, though. They were the perfect size. Not too big, and not too small. Just enough to pop them in your mouth all at once, to close your eyes and go to heaven for a few seconds. If I could have, I would have popped and definitely not stopped. I really am a shocker. As I sit here, I have a fresh tub of the biggest Nutella (one of my many other loves) you can get at the supermarket, right next to me, and a spoon clumsily hanging from my mouth. I may have slightly freaked out about the prospect of a worldwide Nutella shortage. Anyway, back on track…

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Salted Caramel Cupcakes: (from Gourmet Getaways) Makes approx. 60 mini cupcakes

  • 190g butter, chopped and softened
  • 150g white chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup golden syrup
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 1/2 cups plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 eggs

Preheat oven to 170c. Line cupcakes trays with cases. In a large saucepan, combine butter, white chocolate, brown sugar and golden syrup, and place over a medium heat, stirring with a metal spoon until combined and melted, and the sugar is dissolved.

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Remove from the heat, add the milk, and let cool for 10 minutes. Stir through the flour and baking powder until combined. Add eggs, one at a time and stir until combined. Fill cupcakes evenly, and bake for approximately 18 minutes, or until a skewer comes out of the cakes clean. Cool in tins for 5-10 minutes, and let cool on wire racks.

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Caramel Maison: (this recipe is on page 245 of Adriano Zumbo’s cookbook)

  • 220g pouring (whipping) cream
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped (I used 1 tsp vanilla bean paste)
  • 120g water (this is just under 1 cup)
  • 300g caster (white) sugar
  • 60g liquid glucose (available at most supermarkets)

Place the cream and vanilla in a small saucepan over a medium heat and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat, and remove the vanilla bean if you are using one. In the meantime, place the water, sugar and glucose in a larger saucepan over a low-medium heat and cook until the glucose and sugar are fully dissolved, stirring occasionally. Zumbo says to use a clean pastry brush dipped in water to clean the sides of the saucepan in order to avoid crystalisation, however you can also just place the saucepan in really hot water with suds just after use and the sugar will melt off really easily. Increase the heat to medium, and cook the sugar mixture until it reaches a dark amber colour. This does take quite a while, and I was getting worried that mine would not work, but persistence is key here, it will eventually darken after 10-12 minutes. Very carefully stir the cream mixture into the sugar mixture slowly – be very careful because it spits and releases lot of heat. I found the best way to do this was with a spoon with a very long handle, as you want to keep your face as far away from the saucepan whilst it is spitting. If you don’t have a spoon with a super long handle, just add the cream really slowly and try to stir as best you can! Keep stirring as much as you can until the caramel settles down, then stir until completely smooth. Transfer to a bowl, let it cool to room temperature, cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge.

Caramel Buttercream: (this recipe is on page 42 of Zumbo’s cookbook)

  • 150g unsalted butter, chopped and softened
  • caramel maison (prepared earlier. Leave 2 tbs for the sauce to drizzle on top of cupcakes)
  • approx. 2 tsp sea salt

Place the butter in a bowl, and beat until light and fluffy. Warm the caramel maison in the microwave until it reaches a pouring consistency (mine needed 1 min, 20 seconds on high as it was in the fridge overnight), however, just warm it in stages to prevent burning the caramel. With the beater running slowly, add the caramel maison to the butter and continue mixing until thick. Once I had added about half of my caramel, I got a bit worried because it looked like it was curdling, however as I kept adding the caramel, it began to thicken up. Once you have added all of the caramel, fold in the salt. I did not measure my salt, as I used a shaker. So if you too are using a shaker, you can salt to taste.

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Assembly:

Place your preferred piping nozzle in your piping bag, and fill with caramel buttercream. Pipe swirls/rounds onto cupcakes. For the sauce, take the 2 tbs of caramel maison left, warm in microwave until it is an almost liquid like consistency. Pour into a sauce bottle or similar, and drizzle over each cupcake. To store, place cupcakes in airtight containers, and leave at room temperature, in a dry area.

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Cappuccino Choc-Dip Macarons

Trust me to make macarons more difficult than they already are! I didn’t think the choc dip component of these special delights would be that tricky, but they turned out to be quite fiddly, and very messy. It was worth it though, as they were quite delicious. It’s been forever since I have made anything remotely coffee, and I tend to forget how yummy coffee flavoured desserts and sweets can be. This flavour went down really well with my family and colleagues, and even my boyfriend who loathes coffee quite enjoyed it, too. Winner! Also, apologies for the photos. I’ve been having issues with my good camera, so my iPhone had to do the job this time around.

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 The filling was super easy to make. It’s a basic buttercream with a bit of coffee thrown in. You just have to make sure to get the balance just right – not too much coffee, not too little. The flavour worked really well with the salted butter, and the dark chocolate dip. Even though it was messy, I’d totally do the choc dip again. It makes them just that little bit extra indulgent – perfect in the throes of Winter!

Macarons:

This recipe is Adriano Zumbo’s, and was published a couple of years ago in the Herald Sun. You will definitely need kitchen scales to make macarons.

  • 135g almond meal
  • 135g icing sugar
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 45g egg whites
  • 50g egg whites
  • 40g water

Spray four oven trays with cooking oil spray around the edges, and line with baking paper and set aside. Place almond meal and icing sugar in a large bowl, and sift together 3 times. Set aside, along with the 45g egg whites. Put 50g egg whites in a separate bowl. Heat caster sugar and water in a small saucepan, over a low-medium heat, until the sugar completely dissolves (if it slightly burns my tongue, it’s done!). If you do not want to burn your tongue, Zumbo suggests investing in a candy thermometer and heating the syrup until it reaches 118 degrees C (244 degrees F). If the syrup becomes thick and powdery in appearance, you will need to start again. This is because the sugar has been heated too much, too quickly, and instead of dissolving, it has cooked.

Begin beating the 50g egg whites with one hand, and with the other, stream the hot sugar syrup down the side of the bowl to create an italian meringue. Beat until stiff peaks form, the meringue should be thick and very glossy. Pour meringue into the almond meal, icing sugar and 45g egg whites mixture and mix roughly to combine. When combined, fold mixture together (one single stroke) until there are no air bubbles left. Make a spread across the top of the mixture, and it should disappear in about 20 seconds. Spoon mixture into a piping bag fitted with a round nozzle. If you don’t have a piping set, most supermarkets sell plastic disposable ones with a few different nozzles. You should be able to find them in the baking aisle. Lock the bag by spinning the top around 4 times. Pipe 3-4cm rounds on the oven trays prepared earlier. Tap the bottom of the trays on the kitchen bench and let them sit for about half an hour, or until mixture is dry to the touch. Don’t rush this process – you want the shells to be completely dry. Otherwise, it is unlikely that the ‘foot’ of the macaron will be formed.  Preheat your oven to 125c or 135c, fan forced.

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Place in oven and bake for 8 minutes. Turn trays around, and bake for another 9 minutes. To check if shells are cooked, gently lift one off the baking paper. If it peels of easily, they are done, if not, keep checking at 2 minute intervals. Furthermore, if you notice the tops have a slightly crumpled look after you take them out of the oven, put them back in for another couple of minutes. In my experience, this means that they are slightly undercooked and/or haven’t dried out enough before cooking. Cool on trays for 5 minutes, then peel off and place on a wire rack. The mixture should make about 12 -15 large macarons, and about 25 smaller macarons. Macarons keep really well (about 5 days in the fridge) and some say that the longer they are refrigerated, the more the flavour is likely to develop. Macarons taste best when they are stored in the fridge, then brought down to room temperature to eat.

Cappuccino Buttercream:

  • 200g salted butter, chopped and softened
  • Approx. 1 cup icing (confectioner’s) sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • Approx. 30ml espresso (you can use coffee bags or instant powdered/granule coffee as well, just make sure it’s not too watered down)

Beat butter until pale and creamy. Add vanilla bean paste and beat until combined. Gradually add sugar and coffee to butter mixture. Please be careful with adding the coffee, as you don’t want to add too much liquid at once, otherwise the butter may split and curdle. Add it slowly and keep tasting until happy with the strength and flavour.

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For the choc dip, melt good quality dark chocolate in a small glass bowl/ramekin. Don’t use anything too deep because it will make it harder to dip the macaron in and out of the chocolate. I melted the chocolate gradually, as I needed it, as I didn’t want it to harden, because the dipping process did take a while. Overall, I ended up using about 200g of melts (small chocolate bits). Melt chocolate in 20 second increments in the microwave, and use a metal spoon to stir. Melting the chocolate in short  increments will keep it from burning and turning into that horrible lumpy, grainy consistency. Once chocolate is smooth and glossy, gently dip each macaron half way into the chocolate, using a teaspoon to remove the excess, and place on an oven tray lined with a fresh sheet of baking paper. Once chocolate has hardened, dust macarons with cocoa. Place in an airtight container in the refrigerator, and bring to room temperature to eat.

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 Whilst the weather here in Melbourne is pretty horrible at the moment, like, ice-all-over-your-car-in-the-morning kind of horrible (Aussie’s are not used to this!), the upside is that it’s perfect macaron making weather! No humidity, no air conditioning. Take advantage of it if you can!

 

Have a great weekend, and Happy Baking! :)

Learning how to cook like a Parisian – an amazing experience at La Cuisine, Paris

When I was in Paris last year, I desperately wanted to do a cooking class, but as we were travelling for a long time on a tight budget, unfortunately, it just didn’t happen. However, I was very lucky to be going back to the city of love for a short visit this year, so there was no doubt in my mind that I would be doing a Parisian cooking class this time! I chose to do the class with La Cuisine as they had excellent reviews, and boy, am I glad I went with them! They really were fantastic. We chose to do the Market Class, where the group met at a local farmers market to choose the menu and buy the ingredients for the lunch. We then took a short stroll to the kitchen, in the hot Parisian summer sun, via the Notre Dame.
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Fruit
Cheese
La Cuisine gave our group freedom to choose what we wanted to eat – there was no set menu. We chose sea bream for the main, and some ripe peaches and apricots for dessert, along with some beautiful cheeses, vegetables and baguettes.What I loved about the market was that our wonderful chef, Emilie, explained everything to us. She showed us what to look for when choosing fish, how to tell if fruit and vegetables are ripe, and gave us a thorough run down on different types of French cheeses and breads. One of the cheeses we had was a special cheddar type, where, in the process of making this cheese, little cheese mites (yes, little bugs!) huddle around the outside of the wheel, protecting the cheese from bacteria. Some people thought this was pretty disgusting, but I thought it was kind of cool that little bugs could help produce a delicious cheese! And delicious it was! (FYI – the mite cheese is the orangey one at the bottom).
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When it was time to cook, everybody helped out and did their bit – it was certainly a team effort. Emilie showed us how to fillet a fish, which I did for the first time – it was a pretty horrible effort though, I pretty much hacked the poor thing to bits! Lucky I wasn’t the only filleting virgin. To go with the sea bream, we made a cauliflower puree, mini roasted carrots, onions and radishes and a buerre blanc sauce. This sauce was easily my favourite part of the whole lunch, and I could have drank a whole bowl of it. It was delicious – but let’s face it, anything with a truckload of butter, white wine and onions is bound to taste pretty damn good.
Main
For dessert, we made an almond and hazelnut financier, with roasted peaches and apricots and chantilly cream. This was a really delicious dessert. The peaches and apricots were sliced up, brushed with butter, and roasted with brown sugar and rosemary, an unexpectedly delicious addition. The financier was dense and buttery, and with the chantilly cream, it was really great. I am definitely looking forward to making this again.
Dessert
If you are going to Paris in the near future, and love food, I really recommend you check out ‘La Cuisine’. They have lots of other classes to do with pastry, bread, chicken and more. If I had the time, I would have loved to do a pastry or macaron class! Oh well, next time! Thanks to La Cuisine and Emilie, for an unforgettable day :)