Lamington Cake with Balsamic Strawberry Jam

Happy Australia Day to all you Aussies! I hope everyone is having a relaxing long weekend 🙂 As a country, Australia does not really have a defined cuisine of its own. I guess it has something to do with being derived from Britain, and not really having a whole lot of history of our own. However, there is one sweet that we do claim do be our own (aside from the humble Pav, of course!). It is the delicious Lamington. If you do not know what a Lamington is, you are missing out, big time! They are slices of sponge-y cake, filled with jam, and covered in chocolate icing and coconut. Yum! I had actually never made a Lamington before, so I wasn’t sure how it would go, but I decided on a cake version for my Mum’s birthday, and I must say, it was delicious, and a big hit.

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I was going to use the recipe from the ‘BAKE’ book, from the Australian’s Women’s Weekly (AWW are the go-to’s for great recipes for many Aussies), for normal Lamington’s. However, I just had to look on my favourite site, Taste, of course, to see if they may have had a recipe for a cake. Luckily, I found the perfect one with great reviews, so I went with that, with a few of my own additions. I guess I could be more sure of the measurements this way, instead of having to adapt a slice into a cake. Anyhoo, the recipe was great – easy to follow and not ridiculously time consuming, either. Winner 🙂

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Lamington Cake: (recipe from Taste.com)

  • Cooking oil spray, to grease
  • 1/2 cup self-raising flour
  • 1/4 cup plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 1/4 cup cornflour
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup caster (white) sugar
  • 2 cups coconut
  • 250ml thickened cream
  • 1/3 cup icing (confectioner’s) sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste/natural extract

Preheat your oven to 180c/356f. Grease two 20cm round springform baking tins with cooking oil spray, and line with non-stick baking paper. Set aside.

Sift all three flours into one bowl. In a separate bowl, beat all of the eggs, and the sugar, for approximately ten minutes, or until the mixture is thick, pale and creamy. Then, sift half of the flour mixture into egg mixture, and  gently fold it in with a metal spoon until well combined. Repeat with the remaining flour. Make sure the flour is all combined as it can be difficult to see in a large bowl – the flour will just sink to the bottom. And remember to be gentle as you don’t want to knock too much air out of the sponge.

Divide the mixture evenly into the 2 prepared tins. Smooth the surfaces with a metal spoon to ensure the mixture is even. Bake for 12-15 minutes (mine took 14, but ensure you check at 12). Insert a skewer to ensure cake is cooked – the skewer will come out clean. Leave in tins to cool, then place on a wire rack.

Chocolate Icing:

  • 2 cups icing (confectioner’s) sugar
  • 1/3 cup good quality cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup water

Sift the icing sugar and cocoa into a bowl together, and add the water. Mix well until combined and smooth. Pour the icing into a large, shallow dish. Pour the coconut out onto a large baking tray.

Place one side of the sponge cake into the icing, cover the sides, then dip the other side of the sponge in the icing. Cover in coconut and place on a large cake stand. Repeat with remaining sponge cake, except place this one on a plate or another baking tray. I found this process super messy and it took me a while, but I got there in the end!

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Balsamic Strawberry Jam:

  • 1 medium punnet of strawberries, hulled and quartered
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste/natural extract
  • 1 cup caster (white) sugar
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • Splash of water

Place strawberries and water (I literally used a splash, just to moisten the strawberries) in a medium sized saucepan. Cook on a medium heat until the berries begin to soften (about 2 minutes). Add the vanilla and sugar, and cook over a low heat for about 10 minutes, or until strawberries have broken down. Add balsamic vinegar, and continue cooking on low until mixture becomes a sticky, jam like consistency. Pour into a bowl, and leave to cool. If you are not using the jam on the day of making it, cover with cling wrap and place it in the fridge. I made my jam two days beforehand.

Lamington Cake

Assembly:

Whip up 250ml thickened cream, with 1/3 cup icing (confectioner’s) sugar, and 1 tsp of vanilla bean paste/natural extract. With one sponge cake already on the cake stand, cover with whipped cream, ensuring you spread the cream right to the edges of the cake (if you want to decorate it like my cake, leave a little bit of cream behind to pipe on top). Then, spread over the strawberry jam – although this time don’t spread it right to the edges, leave about 1cm. Place the other sponge on top of the cream and jam. Decorate as desired 🙂 EAT!

Messy goodness

HAPPY AUSTRALIA DAY! (check out my past Australia Day posts here.)

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Italy and Spain: Meditteranean Magic + a few other bits and pieces

What an amazing few weeks that were spent in Italy and Spain. We were so lucky to have experienced beautiful weather almost everywhere we went, although even more beautiful, was the food, of course. The easiest way for me to write this post is to break it down into places we visited. All of the restaurants I talk about in this post, I would thoroughly recommend. If you have any questions about them or want some further recommendations throughout Europe or in London, shoot me through a comment 🙂

Venice:

Venice was really amazing – everything I expected it to be and more, and nothing like I have ever seen. The canals, the boats and the gondolas, the narrow streets and lane ways, they all looked like they had just jumped out of a postcard! It was really beautiful, despite the hoards of tourists and smelly water. Having never been to Italy, but being a huge fan of Italian food, I couldn’t wait to get stuck into the local haunts. Venice certainly did not disappoint! Firstly, the wine in Venice was delicious. I, as well as my boyfriend, are quite fussy, but we had the most delicious Pinot Grigio, and partnered up with my scrumptious duck ragu with fresh spaghetti, was a match made in Venetian heaven!
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My favorite foodie place visited in Venice was a teeny tiny almost booth like pasta joint called Alfredo’s Fresh Pasta to Go. It was number 1 on TripAdvisor, and it definitely lived up to expectations. Alfredo’s make all their pastas and sauces on site, and cook your pasta directly in front of you. I also loved the way you could choose your dish with a number system, picking your choice of pasta and sauce. The pasta is served in little cardboard boxes similar to noodle boxes, then you can go and enjoy your delicious dinner sitting on a little Venetian bridge – perfect! We went twice in our 3 day stay, and the first time I had a penne ‘Ciao Bella’ which was a delicious combination of cream, curry paste, fresh tomato, zucchini and Parmesan – it was unlike any pasta sauce I’ve ever eaten, but it’s definitely one I’d like to recreate at home! The second time, I had fresh fettuccine with a sauce called ‘Chickenese’ – basically a bolognese make with chicken. It was so yummy, I wish I could get my sauces to taste the way the Italians do! So simple, yet so amazing!!
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We also had some delish gelato in Venice, not a surprise really! We were super lucky that our hotel was in a fantastic location, so we were able to walk everywhere, including ‘La Mela Verde’, which was number 3 on TripAdvisor. Flavours we sampled included Giotto (white choc and almond), Dark chocolate, Pistachio and Straccitella (choc chip). All flavours were really yummy, although I would recommend the Dark chocolate gelato 🙂

Sorrento:

If it hadn’t been for this one amazing local restaurant, I probably wouldn’t have added Sorrento into this post. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the best time in Sorrento – which was mainly due to our hotel, but still, there wasn’t a whole lot of food that stood out. I’m sure many people would disagree with me, this was just our experience. Unfortunately, when you have been constantly travelling around for a long time and have seen so many countries and cities, moving around every few days becomes tiring and new places can lose their luster. You can become frustrated when little things don’t go in your favour, and can easily disregard the fact that you are in Italy, on the beach, looking over Mount Vesuvius, next to a cliff face! We had definitely hit the wall at this point and were extremely tired. Luckily, this little restaurant was our savior, and was definitely the highlight of our Sorrento experience. This restaurant was what I really wanted to find in Italy – small, family run, inexpensive and with all the quintissential Italian classics. It was awesome, and we visited it every night we were in Sorrento! From pizzas to soups, freshly made pasta to calzones and delicious salads, they had it all, and it was great. As it was small and out of the main area, it really felt like you were welcomed into the owners home for dinner, and they actually ate their own dinner in the restaurant, too. With plastic placemats and your knife and fork in a small paper bag, it was also unpretentious. Plus, the owners make their own Limoncello – how could I resist?! If anyone is ever in the Sorrento area, I urge you to take a detour to Gran Caffe Laura, you won’t regret it!
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Sorrento is the capital of Limoncello. You can buy Limoncello/Lemon everything! I had the best gelato in Italy on the Isle of Capri – which is a stunningly beautiful place. Limoncello and Strawberry!
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Rome:
When in Rome…eat as much as you can! We definitely did. We had two real foodie highlights in Rome, one of them being a tiramisu that is hailed as Rome’s best. These two places were both in the area where we stayed which was just south east of the city in the Ponte Lungo area. The tiramisu was absolutely amazing, and I would happily revisit Rome for the sole purpose of eating more! This is coming from someone who has never been a huge fan of tiramisu and who doesn’t drink coffee! We were lucky that it was only round the corner from where we stayed. Bar Pompi has a few flavours of Tiramisu – the classic coffee, pistachio, hazelnut, banana and nutella and strawberries and cream. We tried the first three – the classic was definitely my favorite, and my boyfriend loved the hazelnut.
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The other foodie highlight in Rome was a great pizza place recommended by our host. Pizzeria Dal Bersagliere served the thinnest and crispiest pizza I’ve ever had! I know that many people don’t enjoy really thin pizza bases, and I found it a little different, but this is the traditional way the crust is made and is how the majority of pizzas are in Italy. The toppings were simple: margherita, marinara, napoli and so on. No meat lovers or bacon cheeseburger in sight! We personally found the best Italian pizzas to be crispy at the edges and a little doughy in the middle, but still holding its form so the pieces would not fall down in the middle, and not soggy. This place definitely hit the spot, and I would recommend it to anyone visiting Rome, as it is also nice and cheap 🙂 Can’t get better than that!
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Florence:

Ah, Firenze! I really loved Florence, it was my next favourite place we visited after the amazing Paris. We were so lucky with our accomodation, we could see the magestic Duomo from our window – it was literally 50m down the street. I also loved that we didn’t need to take any public transport, which is big plus when you’re used to taking hot and stuffy underground tubes everyday! You can walk everywhere. There is so much culture in Florence – from the little laneways waiting to be discovered to the beautiful basilicas, we thought that Florence had it all. As far as food went, it was by far the best we had in Italy, and I had one of my favourite meals of the trip there. There were three places that really stood out for me. The first was a tiny little cafe called Il Panino del Chianti – which basically means a sandwich and a glass of (tuscan) wine! They had little share plates of cold meat and antipasti and a small selection of regional tuscan wines. They also had a special where you could choose 3 ingredients in a panino for 4 euros. Perfect! They were delicious, and so generous with the fillings considering how cheap it was. We went there twice and the first time I had proscuitto, sundried tomatoes and marinated artichokes (my fave!), and the second time I had ham, pear and pecorino. Yum! It was perfect for lunch – not too big a meal, so you can still justify a pizza or pasta for dinner!
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The second place was an awesome gelato shop called Grom, just down the road from our apartment. It was really fresh, full of flavour and decently priced. So, we went there every night! My favourite flavours were surprisingly Coffee, and the Dark Chocolate gelato, and my boyfriend loved the Nougat.

Thirdly, is my favourite restaurant from the entire trip. This place was recommended to us by our host, and we were so glad we visited (twice)! Osteria Il Gatto e la Volpe (The Cat and the Fox), was soooooooo good. Soooooooo good. I will happily keep repeating that it was sooooooo good. The reviews on TripAdvisor were also amazing, so it was a no-brainer for us! The menu was really big, which is usually not a good thing, but not this time. Everything that we had over the two nights was downright delicious, and we couldn’t fault anything. They serve warm bread before your meal comes, which is definitely homemade in their pizza oven – it was really yummy. They also make their own balsamic vinegar – the best I have ever tasted! It was really thick and had quite a grape-y flavour, and I would have happily drank the whole bottle! You can actually buy big wine bottles of the vinegar – if only we had the suitcase space! My boyfriend had a pizza both nights which he absolutely loved and thought it was the best he had in Italy, and that’s saying something, as he had a looooooot of pizzas! The first night I had a vegetable risotto, and it was great. Nothing pretentious, just freshly cooked with a simple tomato sauce and creamy rice. The second night was definitely the highlight for me – I had a ravioli filled with a super light mashed potato with herbs, in a bolognese sauce. I know it might not sound like much, but it was amazingly delicious. I still think about that dish, and yes, I did dream about it that night! I can’t wait to return to the Cat and the Fox, and I absolutely recommend it if you are ever in Florence!

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Barcelona:

I can’t wait to go back to Barcelona! It was really hot when we were there, and then the one day we went to see the main sights, it was pouring with rain – typical! Barcelona was a really cool place, the city has a really chilled out vibe and there is plenty to see and do. As far as the food went, there were two places which we loved, and I’m sure there would have been more, but as our trip was coming to and end, so were our finances 😦 Both of these places were in the area in which we stayed – I think it was called Entenca, but don’t count me on it. It was just south-west of the city centre. The first place was a tiny burger joint called B Burger. Not traditionally Spanish, but it certainly had influences and was delicious enough, plus the owners were super friendly and explained everything to us in English. We had to make a reservation the night before, as the place is so small, they can only cook a few meals at a time. I loved this, as it meant the food was fresh and cooked to order, and the staff were attentive and were not run off their feet. We went to B Burger twice, and both times I ordered the Jamon Jamon burger, which had a fresh patty cooked medium rare (the more blood, the better I say!), parmesan, rocket and proscuitto. Delish! We also had patatas bravas (small roasted like crispy potatoes) with a paprika aioli. B Burger also had amazing gin and tonics, my boyfriend and my favourite drink, and perfect to cool down with in the Barcelona heat. They were soooo big, and made with care by the owner complete with juniper berries. I would love to go back to B Burger next time I am in Barcelona. If you’re ever there and want a cheap and decent feed, make sure you ring and book the day before!
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The next place we really loved in Barcelona was a restaurant called Koxkera. Weird name, but amazing food. This was definitely our treat in Barcelona, it was not cheap but it was definitely worth it. I was on a mission to find a great paella, as you do in Spain. Although, I had read that many places will just heat up frozen versions, which is disgraceful considering it is their national dish! I guess that stuff happens everywhere though, as we did have couple of horrible pizzas and risottos in Italy. So, I did my research and tried to find the best places in Barcelona that make fresh seafood paella. We certainly found this at Koxkera – it was full of flavour, but the saffron was not overpowering, the calamari was so fresh and perfectly cooked – not rubbery or stringy at all, and the prawns were delicious. I can’t explain how great it was!! We had two prawn starters, one being fresh unpeeled king prawns with lemon and aioli, and together with some traditional Spanish tomato bread, I was in heaven. I know it’s a little weird, but I love peeling prawns. I find it very therapeutic! I couldn’t do them all day, but just a few. Our second prawn dish came out in a sizzling claypot full of garlic and small, extremely hot Spanish chillies. They were like little prawn poppers, and I could have eaten them all myself! I really can’t wait to get back to Barcelona and try some more of the food! We had great sample of amazing Spanish seafood and I think I may have to try and find something similar in Melbourne! Let’s hope I can 🙂

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A few other bits and pieces:

There are a couple more little bits I want to add into this post, as they were simply too good not to share! The last 10 days of our trip were spent back in London, which is now easily one of my favourite cities in the world. We went to a fantastic little Japanese place in the West End area called Tsunami, and it was fantastic. I am by no means a big fan of Japanese food but this restaurant may have slightly changed that! We had a range of things, and shared them all between the four of us. I really like the idea of sharing food, and it seems to have become quite the phenomenon in today’s society. I like trying little bits of everything and tasting new foods I probably would never order myself. At Tsunami we had kataifi prawns – king prawns wrapped in string like pastry and fried – what’s not to love? We also had tempura prawns, sliced hoi sin pork belly, dynamite chilli beef, soft shell crab sushi rolls and miso marinated black cod. The highlights for me were the tempura prawns, the dynamite beef which wasn’t too spicy considering its name, but it just had that nice bit of heat (I sound so wanky!!), and the black cod. This piece of fish (bottom right below) was easily one of the best things I have had on this trip, second to the ravioli in Florence. It was deliciously flaky and so creamy, and the miso which it was marinated in gave it the most amazing caramel flavour and sticky edges. I’m not sure how else I can explain it, but it was really to die for. I would highly recommend.

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On our way back to Australia, we had a little stopover in Singapore. Our hotel happened to have the amazing Carousel restaurant inside, which has won a bunch of awards for its buffet dinner. So, of course, we had to go. It was definitely the best buffet I have ever been to. The seafood section alone would have been enough, but they had everything. There were two dessert tables with great little layered shooters and cakes with chocolate airbrushing. They were all amazing (including the 3 chocolate fountains). We were lucky enough to have breakfast there, too, which also unsurprisingly fantastic.

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Well, that ends my foodie experiences from our amazing trip to Europe! I can’t believe how quickly it has gone, and I would do anything to go back. I hope you have enjoyed reading about my travels, and I hope I haven’t bored you too much with the descriptions of all our meals! Now back to reality, and back to BAKING! Yay 🙂

Snickers Peanut Butter Cupcakes

This, for me, is indulgent cupcake heaven. You may have noticed that I am quite an avid peanut butter fan, and combined with chocolate and peanut caramel, well…what can I say? Obviously, these morsels of pure deliciousness are extremely rich and decadent, so I tried to make them a bit smaller than a standard sized cupcake!
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I was thinking of making a salted peanut caramel to fIll the cupcake, but I thought with the peanut butter ganache it would just be a little too difficult to stomach, but delicious nonetheless. So, I opted for a small piece of Snickers in the middle. This surprise went down very well with my colleagues 🙂
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The cupcakes I used are my usual trusted chocolate cupcake recipe which I have used in posts such as the Easter Egg Nest Chocolate Cupcakes, and you can find it here. This time, I halved the recipe, and it made about 15 medium sized cupcakes.
The peanut butter ganache is a Donna Hay recipe which I have used a number of times, and I could go on and on forever and ever about how amazing it is 😉 You can find the recipe in the Peanut Butter Macarons post.
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To make the cupcakes, you will need a 12 piece fun size packet of Snickers. After spooning the cupcake mixture into the cases, place half a small Snickers bar into the mixture and push it down into the batter. To top the cupcakes, fill a piping bag with a wide round nozzle and pipe swirls on top of the cupcakes. Slice the remaining Snickers bars into small pieces, and place a piece on the top of each cupcake. To store, place in an airtight container and leave at room temperature – don’t put them in the fridge! They will last a good 3 days in the container, although I have a sneaking suspicion not many of these babies will be around for 3 days 🙂
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Hazelnut Jaffa Melting Moments

I made these little gems for the Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea which was held at work to raise money for the Cancer Council (for those who are not aware!). I just didn’t have the time, or the energy to make macarons this week, but I must admit I was pretty happy with how these melting moments, aka Yoyo’s, turned out. Melting moments were one of my favourite biscuits as a child, only second to the humble Monte Carlo. I thought I would put a bit of a spin on the traditional version, and they went down quite well with my colleagues 🙂 Well enough for one of them to order some for the weekend! Also, my apologies for the crap photos, I had no choice but to take them at night.

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I found a great recipe for hazelnut melting moments that used nutella in the ganache, and I thought orange would go perfectly with that. The great thing about melting moments is that they are super easy, just beat the butter and add all the dry ingredients and you’re done. Plus, they kind of look pretty, too, a bit rustic, but pretty. And they melt in your mouth…..mmmmm 🙂
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Hazelnut Jaffa Melting Moments: (adapted from Taste.com – I doubled the original recipe)
For the biscuits:
  • 250g butter, chopped and softened – not melted
  • 230g plain flour
  • 90g icing sugar mixture
  • 4 tbs cornflour
  • 4 tbs cocoa powder
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • Cocoa powder, extra to dust
For the ganache:
  • 100g dark chocolate, chopped, or choc bit
  • 50g butter, chopped and softened – not melted
  • 5 tbs Nutella (or similar hazelnut spread)
  • Zest of 1/2 an orange
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
Preheat the oven to 160c. Line 3 baking trays with baking paper, and set aside. Using a stand mixer or electic beater, beat butter until pale and creamy. Add the flour, icing sugar mixture, cornflour, cocoa powder, orange zest and a pinch of salt, and stir with a wooden spoon until well combined. Using clean hands, roll small teaspoons of the dough into balls, and place on the prepared trays (leave about 2cm in between each biscuit). With a fork dusted in cocoa powder, gently flatten the biscuit. Sprinkle each biscuit with a small amount of salt, and bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes or until biscuits have hardened.
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To make ganache, place chocolate in a microwavable bowl and microwave for 20-30 second increments. Each time the chocolate comes out of the microwave, stir as much as possible with a metal spoon to distribute the heat evenly – sometimes the chocolate looks as though it is not melted but will begin to melt when stirred. Doing this will prevent the chocolate burning and becoming gluggy. When chocolate is completely melted, set aside for 3 minutes. Add the 50g softened butter, nutella, orange zest and salt and mix until well combined.
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Assembly:
Pair up similar sized melting moment biscuits. To fill biscuits, you can use either a piping bag or a knife. To use a piping bag, spoon ganache into a piping bag fitted with a wide round nozzle. Sandwich together with remaining biscuit. Melting moments are best stored in an airtight container at room temperature, and are best consumed within 1-3 days. Yum!
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Easter Egg Nest Chocolate Cupcakes

This week has been a great one for whiskitforabiscuit. With Easter arriving, I have had a lot of new visitors to the blog, which is so nice to see. I have also had a number of people telling me that they have tried my recipes, such as the Chai and White Chocolate Hot Cross Buns, and how they have succeeded and tasted awesome! So, thanks so much guys, I appreciate it more than you could know and I absolutely love hearing everyones stories and feedback 🙂 It’s also really nice to know that people are actually reading this and it’s not just me writing to my sad and lonely self, lol. Now, to the cupcakes.

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I had seen a few different takes on these egg nest cupcakes, on various sites such as Pinterest, and they just all looked so fantastic and fun! I had to give them a go, and use one of my all-time favourite childhood treats, the chocolate spider. No words can ever describe how much I adore the chocolate spider, seriously, they are just that delish. I really could go on forever and ever about these morsels of goodness, and it’s so great that they only have 3 ingredients! Life = complete.

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I have used this amazing chocolate cupcake recipe countless times, including in My First Order, and it’s never let me down! You can find the recipe here.
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Buttercream:
  • 350g butter, chopped and softened
  • 2 1/3 – 3 cups icing sugar mixture
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract
  • Wilton’s colourng gel, green
Beat butter until pale and creamy, about 4-5 minutes. Gradually add in the icing sugar mixture until well combined. Beat in vanilla and green colouring until desired colour is achieved. Spoon buttercream into a piping bag with a large round nozzle. Pipe rounds on the cupcakes.
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Chocolate Spider Egg Nests:
  • 1 packet Chang’s noodles (available at most Australian supermarkets. I am sure there would be an equivalent in the US and UK, however I do not know what the brand is)
  • 2 tbs crunchy peanut butter
  • 200g chocolate, milk or dark
  • 1 packet M&M Crunchy speckled eggs, or Cadbury Mini Eggs

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Place chocolate and peanut butter in a microwavable bowl, and microwave for 60 seconds on high. Stir with a metal spoon, even if it does not look melted. If it needs more time, microwave in 10 second increments until completely melted. Don’t do what I did and keep microwaving because you can still see lumps,and then realise it’s just the nuts from the crunchy peanut butter. Idiot. Pour contents of noodles packet into the chocolate and peanut butter mixture until well coated. With two teaspoons, make small ‘nests’, on oven trays with baking paper. Place three speckled eggs on each nests straight away, as you do not want the chocolate to set, otherwise the eggs will not stay on the nests. Place in fridge. You can make these a few days in advance, just pop them in an airtight container when they have set.
Place egg nest onto the green buttercream on the cupcake. Done!
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I hope everybody has a fantastic Easter with their loved ones! I am so lucky I have a little sister who gets so excited about the Easter bunny and the annual hunt we have on Easter Sunday morning, it makes it so much more fun with little kids around!
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Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram – GemmaAsh! Until next time…X

Jaffa Ombre Layer Cake

One thing is fairly obvious: I love cake. I try not to eat tooo much cake, but with this one, it was difficult to stay away. I was convinced this cake would be super-rich, but surprisingly, it was quite light. It was certainly still decadent, and I will definitely be making this one again. I know I say this with a lot of things, but I’ve had the idea of making this cake in my head for quite some time. My Mum’s birthday seemed like the perfect occasion – as she (and my Dad) both love the Jaffa Macarons, and I haven’t done ombre, or any type of layer cake really, for a while.

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 The recipe I used for the orange cake is from the always amazing Raspberri Cupcakes. It is a beautfiul cake, not too buttery, and the zest from the oraange was intense, but in a great way. This particular post – Orange Cake with Fruit Tingles Icing, is one of my favourite posts from Raspberri Cupcakes, and was one of the recipes I was inspired by, to begin blogging myself (see Musk Layer Cake + Musky Macarons)!

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Orange Cake: (adapted from Raspberri Cupcakes)
  • 165g butter
  • 3/4 cup caster (white) sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups self-raising flour
  • Zest and juice from 1 1/2 large oranges (I had about 1/3 cup of juice)
  • Wilton’s colouring gel, orange
Preheat the oven to 180c (170c) fan forced. Line a 22cm springform cake tin with baking paper and set aside. Beat butter until pale and fluffy. Gradually add sugar. Beat eggs in one at a time until well combined. Stir in the orange zest and juice and flour, until well combined. To divide cake into batches, weigh mixture and divide the number by 3. Pour into three separate, clean bowls. Add small amounts of colouring gel to mixtures, until you have 3 clearly different shades of orange. Pour one batch of mixture into cake tin, and spread with a spoon so it is nice and even. I had a little bit of trouble with this because the cakes were so small, but they were all fine in the end. If you have more than one cake tin, it is okay to put two on the top shelf of your oven, if they fit. Bake cakes for 10-15 mintutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Begin checking the cakes from 10 minutes.
Let cakes cool in the tin for 10-15 minutes. If you are using the cakes straight away, let them cool completely on a wire rack, and then begin layering and decorating. If not, gently wrap cakes in cling wrap tightly – be very careful as the layers will be quite thin and fragile. Place in fridge overnight. It is best to bake cakes the day before, or on the day of use. You could probably freeze them if you were really time poor, however, sometimes I find that cakes can taste a bit strange when they have been frozen!
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Jaffa Ganache:
This is the same ganache I used for the Jaffa Swirl Macarons, however I just quadrupled it.
  • 400g good quality dark chocolate, chopped
  • 2 cups thickened cream
  • Zest of 2 1/2 oranges
Place all ingredients in a medium saucepan and stir over a low heat until smooth. If using the next day, cover and refrigerate, then take out an hour or two before use. If using on the same day, cover and refrigerate for about 30 mins, or until ganache has slightly set. I probably made my ganache a little too late for when I needed the cake, so you can see in the pictures that it was still quite runny. I tried to make the best of it though, and exposed the colours of the cake by letting the ganache drip around the side. I originally wanted to cover the cake completely in ganache, but I think it still looked nice.
JaffaCake
 
Assembly:
Place the bottom cake on a large cake stand or a cake board. With a round-edged knife, spread a layer of ganache on the top, and layer with the second cake. Repeat the process, and cover the cake completely with the ganache. If the ganache is too hard, dip the knife in warm water – it will make it a lot easier to spread out.
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You can decorate the cake however you like – you don’t even have to decorate it thought, if you don’t want to. You could use cachous, glitter, you could pipe swirls of ganche – anything you like! As you can see here, I went for choc-dipped orange segments with a tiny bit of gold glitter.
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Salted Caramel Bejewelled Profiteroles

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you will know how much I absolutely adore salted caramel. I have made choux pastry for eclairs twice before – once when we added 2 tablespoons of salt to the mixture (yes, that’s what the crazy recipe said!), and the other time, I undercooked them and they looked like little sunken balls of pancake. So, logically, I decided I would give them another go for Christmas Day lunch. Ta da 🙂

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Profiteroles

They worked! Thank goodness they did, because the world probably would have ended if they hadn’t. Once again, Taste.com certainly did not let me down, and I will definitely be using this recipe many times over. I already have used it since actually, and the result was just as great. So many people seem to think that choux pastry is a difficult thing to get right, and it can be if you get a little confused or don’t follow the recipe word for word, which can be really easy to do. If you are going to give this recipe a go, make sure to sit down and read it through before you make it – and understand each step. Otherwise, not only can it be really dishearteneing, it’s also a waste of quality ingredients and money 😦 The good news is though, once you do understand the recipe and know what to do from experience, your cooking will be much better for it 🙂 There’s my words of wisdom for the day!

Profiteroles1

Here is the recipe for Choux Pastry. The only part is, it definitely does not make 25-30 profiteroles like it says. It makes 18 at most, so if you want more, simply double the recipe.

Choux pastry

Before and after

Caramel Maison: (from p. 242 of Adriano Zumbo’s book, Zumbo):

•220g pouring (whipping) cream (35% fat)
•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. Then, 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’s 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 6-7 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.

Making the caramel

Caramel Buttercream: (this recipe is on page 42 of Zumbo’s cookbook)
•150g unsalted butter, chopped and softened
•300g caramel maison
•4.5g sea salt flakes

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. So don’t freak out until you have added all of the caramel to the butter. 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, just salt to taste.

Assembly:

Place the caramel in piping bag fitted with a small round nozzle. Gently pierce the bottom of the profiteroles with piping nozzle, so that the nozzle itself is inside the profiterole. Squeeze bag until profiterole feels heavier in your hand, and the caramel is slightly coming out of the profiterole. Gently scrape the profiterole on the edge of a bowl to get rid of the excess caramel. Repeat with other profiteroles. If you are not eating them straight away, refrigerate them until they are ready to serve.

Profits

You can decorate the profiteroles however you wish! You can see that in both cases I dipped mine in melted chocolate, and sprinkled them with gold edible glitter and cachous. For the ones with the white chocolate, I added some caramel popcorn dipped in chocolate. Yum!

NYE profiteroles

Yum!

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Dark Chocolate Sugar Cookies with Gingerbread Buttercream

I have seen a couple of fellow bloggers make these super-cute cookies lately, and I have really wanted to try making them myself too, especially since the recipe is from the wonderful Sweetapolita! These cookies most definitely lived up to my expectation. Not only were they soooooo yummy, but they were really easy to make and even with halving the recipe, I still had 40 sandwiched cookies!
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Another thing I love about these cookies is that you can do anything with them. You can leave them plain, just decorate them or fill them. I decided on the previous two. My blogging buddy Sugabuttacream filled hers with espresso buttercream, which would be great to try as well. Gingerbread buttercream is definitely one of my favourites around Christmas time, it is so yummy and easy to make, plus it keeps really well and the flavour tends to develop over a couple of days.
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Dark Chocolate Sugar Cookies: (recipe adapted from Sweetapolita – makes 40 sandwiched cookies, 80 single cookies)
  • 3 cups plain flour
  • 3/4 cup good quality cocoa
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 225g butter, chopped and softened – not melted
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste/vanilla extract
Sift flour, salt and cocoa into a bowl and set aside. Place butter and sugars in bowl, and beat until pale and creamy. Add egg and vanilla, and beat well until combined. Stir in dry ingredients until mixure forms a dough.
On a floured surface, knead half of the dough until it becomes smooth. Shape into a ball. If you want to use dough straight away, refrigerate for 30 minutes. If you are using it in a few days time, freeze the dough. Remove from freezer 2-3 before use and leave it to thaw at room temperature. Repeat kneading with other half of mixture.
Preheat oven to 160c, and line 4-5 oven trays with baking paper. Place one ball of dough between 2 sheets of baking paper. With a rolling pin, roll dough out until it is about 1cm thick. With a cookie cutter, cut shapes out from the dough and carefully place them on baking paper. When tray is filled place in the oven for 10 minutes, or until the cookies are just slightly soft. Let them cool on trays, then place on a wire rack.
Choc Sugar Cookies
Sugar Icing (for decorating):
  • Icing sugar, about 1 1/2 cups
  • Water
  • Wilton’s colouring gel, green
As per the icing I used for the Melted Snowmen, I didn’t really use exact measurements. I combined icing sugar and water until it became a thick paste, then added the green colouring. With a piping bag fitted with a very thin round nozzle, I piped around the edges of the trees, and added a few gold and silver cachous as the decorations. The icing dries really quickly, so add the cachous as you go.
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Gingerbread Buttercream:
  • 350g salted butter, chopped and softened – not melted
  • 1 1/2-2 cups icing sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
Beat butter until pale and creamy. Gradually add the icing sugar and other spices. If you only want a hint of the spices, you could add bit less, and if you want a strong hit of ginger, you can add more. You can just keep tasting, but these quantities, for me, are just the right balance 🙂 If you are not using the buttercream until the following the day or after, refrigerate, then take out of the fridge an hour before use. As mentioned earlier, I personally like to make it a couple of days in advance because the flavour of the spices tend to develop. Place the buttercream in a piping bag fitted with a round nozzle. Pipe 2 lines of buttercream down the middle of the tree biscuit, then sandwich with another. You can either refrigerate the cookies, or leave them in a cool, dry place.
Piping...
I hope you all had a lovely Christmas, I can’t believe it’s all over for another year! It’s sad but also kind of a relief at the same time. Here are some of the yummy things my family had on Christmas Day (minus the oysters – ew!!).
Christmas Day
January the 1st also marks whiskitforabiscuit’s first birthday – so thank you to everybody who has supported my baking endeavours throughout the past year by coming to visit my site! It is slowly growing in terms of views and followers, which is really exciting to see, so please feel free to comment, like and follow – it would be greatly appreciated! So thank you all so much, and I sincerely hope you come back to say hi in the new year 🙂 Xx
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Choc-Mint Candy Cane Macarons

I do love the combination of chocolate and peppermint. Bittersweet dark chocolate with a cool minty kick made these macarons quite the tasty ones. They were somewhat a tribute to the humble candy cane, which is definitely one of my favourite Christmas treats. I realllly wanted to make these macarons into a candy cane shape, but it didn’t work for me this time 😦 I overcooked the shells for one, and piped them all the same way – which was fine until I needed to sandwich them together…silly! I think I will try it again though, now that I know what not to do. I’d love to try some gingerbread men shapes as well, but knowing my luck they would turn out like lumpy pancake men. Yum!

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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
  • Wilton’s colouring gel, Red (I used ‘Rojo Intenso’)

Preheat oven to 170c (160c fan forced). Spray four oven trays with cooking oil spray baround 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. If you want to add flavouring/colouring, now’s your moment. So add the cocoa now. Just lightly beat them into the meringue. 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. With a skewer or a cake tester, spread 3 or 4 lines of the colouring along the sides of the bag. Spoon mixture into the piping bag fitted with a round nozzle. (If you don’t have a piping bag set, most supermarkets sell plastic ones, they are Multix brand, in an orange box and contain 5 piping bags with a few different nozzles, plus they’re only about $3. 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.

This is how it's done!

Place in oven and bake for 8 minutes. Turn tray around in the oven and bake for another 7 minutes. To test, pull a macaron off the baking paper. If it is stuck, keep cooking and checking regularly. 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.

Yum!

Choc-Mint Ganache:

  • 100g good quality dark chocolate (I use Green and Black’s 70%)
  • 1/2 thickened cream
  • 1/2 tsp natural peppermint extract (available from most supermarkets)

Place chocolate and cream in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir with metal spoon until melted. Stir in the peppermint extract. Pour into bowl and let cool. Refrigerate until firm enough to pipe or until when you need to use. If you are leaving the ganache in the fridge overnight, it may need 10 seconds in the microwave to be pliable enough to pipe.

Candy cane goodness...

To assemble, match up likely macaron pairs. Spoon ganache into a piping bag fitted with a round nozzle, and pipe small rounds of ganache onto a shell, then sandwich with another. Yum!

Deliciously Christmassy!

I hope everyone is enjoying the Christmas season so far, I cannot believe how quickly it has come! I think the best part of this time of the year is definitely the food, surprise, surprise! Although, it’s a scary reminder of how much I have to cook and bake before next Tuesday – luckily most of my shopping is done!

Happy Baking 🙂 X

Jaffa Swirl Macarons

I have made Jaffa macarons probably close to 10 times, but have somehow never managed to get them up on here! They are definitely a hit with young and old, hence why have made them countless times! This time, however, I wanted to do something a little different. I have seen the swirly effect on macarons before, and always thought it would be really difficult to pull off, but surprisingly, it wasn’t too bad 🙂 I was really, really happy with how the colour turned out, and will definitely be giving this technique a go again! Also, apologies for the lack of quality photos – I have been having some camera issues, so iPhone it is for now!

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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
  • Wilton’s colouring gel, orange

Preheat oven to 170c (160c fan forced). Spray four oven trays with cooking oil spray baround 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. If you want to add flavouring/colouring, now’s your moment. So add the cocoa now. Just lightly beat them into the meringue. 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. Open your piping bag, and fold 1/4 of it down over itself. With a skewer or cake tester, spead 3 thick lines of orange colouring gel around the piping bag.

Colouring the piping bag

Let the swirls begin...

Spoon mixture into a piping bag fitted with a round nozzle. (If you don’t have a piping bag set, most supermarkets sell plastic ones, they are Multix brand, in an orange box and contain 5 piping bags with a few different nozzles, plus they’re only about $3. 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.

Swirly before...

Place in oven and bake for 8 minutes. Turn tray around in the oven and bake for another 7 minutes. To test, pull a macaron off the baking paper. If it is stuck, keep cooking and checking regularly. 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.

Swirly after...

Jaffa Ganache:

  • 100g good quality dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup thickened cream
  • Zest of 1 orange

Place chocolate, cream and zest in a medium saucepan. Cook over a medium heat until chocolate is melted. Place in a heatproof bowl and let it cool completely before refrigerating. If using that day, ensure ganache is firm enough to pipe. If not, ganache may need 5-10 seconds in the microwave before using.

To assemble, match up likely macaron shells. Place ganache in a piping bag fitted with a round nozzle, and pipe small rounds onto a shell. Sandwich with other shell.

The makings of ganache

Despite these macarons being one of the tastiest, they are also one of the easiest flavours to make! They are great for macaron beginners because you don’t need any complicated ingredients or equipment – the hardest part is probably melting the chocolate – easy 😉