Pear and Chocolate Layer Cake with Salted Caramel Buttercream

My friend asked me to make a special cake for a very special occasion, and she gave me complete freedom to choose the flavours and look of this special cake. I was a bit worried, because I wanted it to not only be creative and interesting, but also a crowd pleaser. It took me a while to come up with the idea that eventuated into the pretty little thing below,and I kept umm-ing and ahh-ing about every last detail. I’m pretty happy with the result.

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This is the first ‘naked’ cake I’ve made, and I must say I really like the look of the naked cake. It first worried me a little because covering a cake in icing kind of gives you a security blanket in that you can cover up all the flaws on the cake itself, but I love the rustic look, and also the autumn colours this cake has.

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I have used the combination of pear and caramel before, and really, adding chocolate to this magnificent duo, is certainly not going to do any harm! While it may seem a little rich, the pear is a nice fresh hit when paired peared with the creamy caramel and breaks the decadence up nicely, even though I would be so much more than happy to down a bowl of that caramel buttercream on its own.

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The recipes used here are nothing I haven’t made before, I’ve just adapted them a little differently.  You can find the caramel buttercream recipe on this post for Caramel au buerre sale macarons, and you can find the chocolate cake recipe here – I have just made it into three round cakes instead of cupcakes. As for the pear, there is one pear, chopped, in each layer, plus the whole baked pear in the middle of the top layer. Enjoy!

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Coming Up Carrot Cupcakes with Chocolate Cinnamon Soil

How is Easter almost here already?! It scares me how fast time flies these days, but hey, any excuse to bake, really. I found the idea for these awesome coming up carrot cupcakes on the ever-inspiring Pinterest. Unfortunately, I only saw them once and couldn’t find them again, so I don’t know whose idea they originally were, but they are pretty awesome.

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I first thought of crushing up dark chocolate biscuits for the soil, but I found this recipe to make your own by making a sugar syrup and adding dark chocolate. I was a little sceptical, but it worked really well, tasted great and added a nice crunchy texture to the cake. This was the first time I had ever make carrot cake, and I can’t really say I am a huge fan, but the cream cheese icing makes it all worthwhile!

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Carrot Cupcakes: (from Taste.com)

Makes approximately 20 cupcakes

  •  160g butter, softened, not melted
  • 2/3 cups firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup self-raising flour
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup plain (all purpose) flour
  • 1 cup grated carrot (I used 2 medium sized carrots)
  • 75g crushed pecans (original recipe calls for walnuts, but I am allergic, and I like pecans better anyway)

Preheat oven to 180c, and line cupcake tins. Beat the butter, sugar and nutmeg until pale and creamy. Add eggs, one at a time until well combined. Stir in self-raising flour until well combined, and then stir in the buttermilk until well combined, and then the plain flour until well combined. Stir in the carrot and the nuts. Spoon batter into cupcake cases, and bake for approximately 25 minutes, or until a skewer is inserted, and comes out clean. Leave in tins to cool for 5 minutes, and then turn out onto wire rack.

Chocolate Soil:

I really love this recipe. It’s so clever – I never even thought of this combination actually working. The recipe is from The Lone Baker, and I would really recommend you try it, especially if you are familiar with making sugar syrups. Chocolate soil is so versatile, and could be used for a variety of novelty cakes and desserts.

  • 100g caster (white) sugar
  • 75g 70% dark chocolate, chopped (ensure you use dark chocolate, because you need that little bit of bitterness when combined with all that sugar!)
  • – 1 tsp ground cinnamon

Line an oven tray with non-stick baking paper. Place sugar with 2 tbs cold water in a small-medium saucepan, and heat on low-medium until the sugar dissolves, and starts to go slightly yellow around the edges – this can take a while, it took me about  8 minutes to get to this point. Once the sugar begins to go yellow, take it straight off the heat and quickly whisk in the chocolate and cinnamon with a balloon whisk. The consistency of soil will appear very quickly, and some of the mixture will stick to the sides of the pan. You can just scrape this off with a butter knife. Pour soil out onto prepared oven tray.

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Cream Cheese Icing: (see Parisian Red Velvet Cupcakes)

  • 225g butter, chopped and softened, not melted
  • 340g cream cheese, slightly softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract/paste
  • 2 cups icing (confectioner’s) sugar
  • Orange colouring gel/liquid

Beat butter, cream cheese and vanilla together until pale and creamy, approximately 3 minutes. Gradually add the icing sugar. I use 2 cups, as I think that is sweet enough, but you can add more or less if you want to. Place 5 tablespoons of icing in a separate bowl, and colour with orange colouring gel/liquid.

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Assembly:

With a small sharp knife, carefully carve out a small circle in the top of the cupcakes, leaving a hole to pipe in the carrots. Place the icing in a piping bag fitted with a wide round nozzle, and pipe circles around the hole made in the cupcake. Dip iced cake in the chocolate soil. You can add more soil to the cupcake with your hands if dipping it doesn’t cover the icing enough. Once all the cupcakes have soil on them, place the orange icing in a piping bag fitted with a small round nozzle. Pipe ‘carrots’ into the holes in the cupcakes, piping up so that the icing is approximately 1-2cm above the top of the cupcake. For the tops of the carrots, I used the green part of a sour strap, cutting them with scissors, with an incision of the middle of the strap. Place it in the carrot, far enough that it will not fall over.

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You can find my previous Easter posts here. Happy Baking!

 

St. Patrick’s Day Rainbow Cupcakes

Happy (belated) St. Patrick’s Day to you all, and top of the morning to ya! 😉 I have seen these super cute cupcakes many times on Pinterest, so I thought it was time to give them a go. They’re so adorable 🙂

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I used my trusted vanilla cupcake recipe for these, and once again, they worked a treat as always. To get the rainbow effect throughout your cake, you just need to divide your batter into separate bowls, colour them, and spoon them separately into the cupcake cases before baking.

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I also loved the sour strap rainbow. As cute as it looked, it also gave the cupcake a nice sour tang and cut through the buttercream. Deeeeeeelicious.

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These little gems are really easy to make, too, and would be fun for kids to have a go at. You obviously don’t have to colour the batter, either. And you don’t have to pipe grass on the cupcakes, which I discovered is quite time consuming to get right!

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Happy Baking, Guinness drinking and potato eating! Hope you all have a great weekend 🙂

White Chocolate and Maple Macadamia Baked Cheesecake with Candied Bacon

Happy Birthday to me! I decided to make myself a cake resembling a pizza/cheese and bacon roll this year. Although, it was not my first intention, I’m quite happy with how it looks, it’s a little rustic, not the prettiest, but it tastes good 😉 I was very excited about this cake, as it was something I had in my mind for a while, and I thought, what better occasion to make it than my own birthday! I am a very big fan of baked cheesecakes, and I have made a few in my time, but the only thing that puts me off baking them more often is that they are time consuming, and soooo expensive. Especially when you put a big packet of macadamias in it, and real maple syrup, which costs a small fortune on its own. Nonetheless, it was very delicious.

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I have used this recipe before to make a raspberry and white chocolate cheesecake, and it’s really great. You can play around with flavours, too, which is always good. Aside from the cheesecake itself, I kind of made the other bits up in my head, which is a sure fire sign of a great recipe!

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Baked Cheesecake: (adapted from Taste.com.au)

  • Melted butter, to grease tin
  • 250g plain, sweet biscuits (I used Arnott’s plain Teddy Bears)
  • 100g hazelnut meal
  • 150g butter, melted
  • 3 x 250g cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup caster (white) sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste/vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 250g block good quality white chocolate, chopped
  • 250g macadamias, quartered
  • 1/4 cup real maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup real maple syrup
  • 1 cup streaky bacon, chopped into rough 1cm pieces

Grease 22cm springform baking tin with butter. Use a food processor to crush biscuits until they resemble fine crumbs. Add the hazelnut meal and melted butter and process until all well combined. Place mixture into prepared tin, and spread evenly. You can use a straight sided glass to evenly spread the base mixture evenly around tin. Cover with cling wrap and place in refrigerator for 30 minutes. If you are not using base straight away, just make sure you take it out 30-40 minutes prior to baking.

Preheat oven to 160c. Beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla together until well combined and smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix until each is well incorporated. Using a wooden spoon, gently stir in the white chocolate, macadamias and 1/4 cup maple syrup. Pour mixture into prepared tin, and bake for 1 hour, or until just set in the centre. For me, 1 hour was perfect, but you can wobble the tin a little to test if the cake is cooked throughout. For 2 hours, leave the cheesecake in the oven, with the door ajar. I just a wooden spoon to keep the door open. This will prevent the top of the cheesecake from cracking.

Place bacon and 1/3 cup maple syrup in a bowl together and mix until well coated. Spread evenly on an oven tray lined with non-stick baking paper, and bake for approximately 20 minutes on 180c, or until bacon is crispy and sticky. Let bacon cool on tray, then spread across the top of the cheesecake. If not serving the cheesecake straight away, ensure it is stored in the rerigerator, and brought down to room temperature to eat. If the cake is still cold, it is a nightmare to cut – I made this mistake!

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One of my favourite parts of this cake was the candied bacon. People often balk at the idea, but it really works well and the maple/bacon combination is becoming quite popular. You can see the recipe for my Maple Bacon Macarons here, which I posted a couple of years ago. They are just as yummy! Happy Baking 🙂

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Lavender and Blueberry Macarons

I came across this flavour combination flicking through Zumbo’s ‘Zumbarons’ book, and at first, I wasn’t really sold. I can’t say I’ve ever really been a fan of the smell of lavender, and the thought of eating it, ergh. However, I first thought the same thing about the Vegemite Macarons, another genius brainchild of Zumbo’s, and I really loved them. So, I thought I would give them a go, and it turns out, they aren’t so bad after all!

Lavender and Blueberry Macarons

Zumbo’s ganache recipe calls for white chocolate, however, I boldly decided to change things up a little! I decided to make a buttercream instead of a ganache, I’m not entirely sure why I decided to do this, but it worked, I think. I put as little sugar as possible into the blueberry jam, to counteract the sweetness of the buttercream, and with  little bit of salt with the butter, it was nice. I literally used like three drops of lavender oil because I was so worried it would be too strong. The idea of eating flowers doesn’t really excite me. Three drops was definitely enough. Enough to get the aroma of the lavender, with the hit of blueberry and sweetness of the macaron shell. Would I make them again? Maybe, if they were requested, but other than that, probably not. It would be interesting to taste the white chocolate ganache version, though. And, yay! For awesome shells.

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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
  • 1/4 tsp colouring gel, violet
  • Food colouring liquid, blue

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. If you want to add flavouring/colouring, now’s your moment. So add the colouring 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. 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. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 145c (135c fan forced).

Place in oven and bake for 16-20 minutes. Check macarons at 16 minutes, and to test if they are cooked, 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

Place all of the macaron shells on wire racks. My needed two. Place paper towel underneath, so your kitchen bench does not come into contact with the blue colouring. Place approximately 15 drops of the blue liquid colouring in small dish. Gently dip a pastry brush in the colouring and lightly flick the macaron shells, resulting in the blue dots like my shells have. Leave shells to dry – this won’t take long.

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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.

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Lavender Buttercream:

  • 100g salted butter, softened, not melted
  • 3 drops lavender oil (edible, of course – FYI, I bought mine from http://www.bakingpleasures.com.au)
  • 1 cup icing (confectioner’s) sugar

Beat the butter until pale and creamy (about 5 minutes). Gradually add the icing sugar and beat until well combined. You can add as much sugar as you like, really. It depends on how sweet you like your buttercream. Add the lavender oil – you can always add more to taste.

Blueberry Jam:

  • 1/2 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
  • 1/4 cup caster (white, granulated) sugar
  • 2 tbs water

Place all the ingredients in a small saucepan. Heat on medium until mixture begins to boil. Turn down heat to low and simmer until thick. Pour into a bowl, and let it cool completely. If you are not using immediately, store jam in the fridge once it has cooled.

Assembly:

Pair up likely macaron shells. Place lavender buttercream in a piping bag fitted with a round nozzle. Pipe round onto one shell, and spoon a very small amount of blueberry jam on top of the buttercream. Sandwich together. Store in airtight container in the fridge. Bring down to room temperature to eat.

I really wanted some fresh lavender sprigs in my photos, but unfortunately it was not to be. I was desperately trying to find some, madly roaming my local neighbourhood at 10km/ph on the hunt for lavender! Tis’ not the season.

Happy Baking! And…please come and follow me on Instagam – @gemmaash 🙂

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Ferrero Rocher Mini Cupcakes

In the last few weeks, it has been so hot and sticky here in Melbourne. The type of weather that sucks the energy right out of you, it’s not fun. And in this weather, baking is the last thing anyone would want to be doing! With a slight cool change earlier in the week, I jumped at the chance to make these little babies, and boy, I am glad I did. They are very yummy. I guess they are kind of my (belated) Valentine’s Day post. I have always loved Ferrero Rocher chocolates, but they have always been something I have had on a special occasion. Plus, my boyfriend loved them. So, there we have it.

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The chocolate cupcake recipe I used, is the one I have used many, many times before. It is fantastic, and works really well every time. I cut the Ferrero Rocher chocolates in half, which is not easy to do! You will probably get a really messy half and a neater half. Place the messier half inside the uncooked cupcake, and leave the other half for decorating. You can find the cupcake recipe  here. I halved the recipe for this batch, and it still made close to 30 mini cupcakes.

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Nutella Ganache:

  • 1 cup Nutella
  • 250g good quality white chocolate, chopped
  • 75g salted butter, softened, not melted

Melt the white chocolate in a glass bowl, in the microwave in spurts of 20 seconds. At the end of each stint in the microwave, stir chocolate with a metal spoon. When completely melted, stir in Nutella until well combined. Leave at room temperature to cool. When mixture is at room temperature, it may have become a little solid. If so, just run some lukewarm water around the outside of the bowl to soften up a bit. In a separate bowl, beat butter until pale and creamy. Spoon the butter into the Nutella mixture and beat altogether for a couple of minutes until whipped and smooth.

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To decorate: Spoon Nutella ganache into a piping bag fitted with a round wide nozzle. Pipe one single round onto each cupcake, and place halved Ferrero Rocher on top. Store in an airtight container, in a cool, dark place. If it’s really hot, you can place the cupcakes in the fridge, but bring them down to room temperature to eat. I am very reluctant to put cake in the fridge, and people always think this is weird. When you put cake in the fridge, the fat component of the cake (butter) becomes harder, so the cake becomes drier and often crumbly. By the way, you can freeze these cupcakes, too. Just do it as soon as they are decorated, and obviously, bring them down to room temperature to serve, preferably overnight.

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Here are some I made with Malteasers. Equally as delicious!

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Poached Pear and Salted Caramel Macarons

After four months of no baking, it feels good to be back! I can’t believe it’s been THAT long, nearly half a year of no butter and sugar action, which is a just a bit wrong, really. When I stepped back into the kitchen and begun measuring my ingredients out, it all came flooding back. It was reassuring to know that I hadn’t completely lost my touch, and the macaron recipe I use has remained engraved in my brain – it’s the only recipe I know off by heart, no surprise. I had been planning  these macarons for about a week to mark the beginning of my Christmas baking schedule, which is very hectic – again, no surprise, as I always become over ambitious with these things, trying to do waaaaay too much in so little time. Whilst this flavour is not quintessentially Christmass-y, it is extremely delicious. Anything involving salted caramel is. I poached the pears in vanilla and cinnamon, so I guess that means I can claim it as a Christmas flavour?

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I loved the fresh hit of the pear in the midst of the creamy caramel, however I think it made the shells  bit soggy unfortunately. Next time, I would maybe try making my own pear jelly and have little cubes in the middle. They were delicious nonetheless. The green Christmas trees on the shells were incidental actually. I just thought it would be nice to add a little green touch to represent the pear, but I’m happy with the result!

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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
  • Colouring gel, green

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. If you want to add flavouring/colouring, now’s your moment. So add the colouring 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. 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). Dip a skewer into green colouring gel, and wipe up one side of the piping bag, creating a straight line. 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. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 145c (135c fan forced).

Place in oven and bake for 16-20 minutes. Check macarons at 16 minutes, and to test if they are cooked, 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.

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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.

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.

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Poached Pears: (recipe adapted from Taste.com.au)

  •         2 packham pears
  •        3 cups cold water
  •        1 cup caster (white) sugar
  •         ½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste or ½ vanilla bean with seeds scraped
  •        1 cinnamon stick
  •        Lemon juice

Peel pears from the stem down, and coat in lemon juice. Place all ingredients in a medium sized saucepan and simmer over a medium heat for around 20 minutes, or until pear is soft. You can test the pear with a fork, however do not make too many holes as they can become waterlogged. Once pear is cooked through, place in fridge for approximately 30 minutes to cool completely. Once cooled, cut into small bite sized pieces.

Assembly:

Pair up likely macaron shells. Scoop caramel into a piping bag fitted with a round nozzle. Pipe a small circle on one shell, place a piece of pear on the caramel, and pipe another small circle over the top of the pear. Sandwich together, and place in an airtight container in the fridge. When ready to eat, bring macarons down to room temperature.

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Popping Fruit Tingle Macarons

I LOVE a fruit tingle. Both the cocktail, and the lolly. But the fizzy sherbet lolly especially. Fruit Tingle’s (which are similar to Bottle Caps/SweeTarts/Refreshers) have been one of my favourite lollies since I can remember – I love the sourness and the sweetness together, and would often chuck a whole small packet in my mouth at once, quite happily. Fruit Tingles are nostalgic for me – I remember I used to have competitions with my friends to see how many multi-coloured lollies we would get, and we would make a wish with each multi-coloured fruit tingle we got in our packet. A few years ago, thanks to Raspberri Cupcake’s Orange Cake with Fruit Tingles Icing, I discovered the joy of fruit tingles and butter combined. It was pretty magical and life changing. And so, I present Fruit Tingle Macarons with Popping Candy.

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I threw in another favourite candy of mine from the 90s – Wizz Fizz. I’m sure it was a worldwide phenomenon possibly under other names in other countries, but if you have been completely deprived, and have not been introduced to Wizz Fizz, it is just sherbet in a small bag with a little coloured spoon. Well, I shouldn’t say it’s just sherbet. It’s amazing tingle soury goodness that everybody should experience at least once, it’s good fun. And I guarantee once you have finished the bag you will be covered in a white powder. The good type of white power – Wizz Fizz 😉

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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
  • 1/4 tsp colouring  gel, orange

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. If you want to add flavouring/colouring, now’s your moment. So add the colouring 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. 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. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 145c (135c fan forced).

Place in oven and bake for 16-20 minutes. Check macarons at 16 minutes, and to test if they are cooked, 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.

Lollies

Sugar Syrup topping:

  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 stick crushed fruit tingles

Melt the caster sugar and water in a small saucepan until completely dissolved. With a pastry brush, gently brush the macaron shells (about 5 at a time because they will dry) and place a small amount of fruit tingles on top of each shell. Leave on wire rack to dry.

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Fruit Tingle Buttercream:

  • 1 stick (34g) Fruit Tingle lollies, crushed down to a rough powder (I used a mortar and pestle, you could also use a food processor)
  • 250g salted butter, softened – not melted
  • 1 cup icing sugar mixture
  • 1 multi pack of Wizz Fizz (8 small packets)
  • 2 packets popping candy (I can’t remember the size of the packet, but they were quite small and were Strawberry/Cola flavoured. In Australia, you can buy them at Woolworths)
  • Food colouring gel, green (you could use pink or yellow if you wanted as well)

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Beat butter until pale and creamy. Gradually add icing sugar mixture. Beat in Wizz Fizz and Fruit Tingles until well combined. Beat in colouring gel. You can store buttercream overnight at room temperature, but it is best used immediately. To fill the macarons, spoon buttercream into a piping bag fitted with a large, round nozzle (make sure it is extra large so the chunks of fruit tingles won’t get stuck). Pipe 3/4 teaspoon of buttercream on shell, sprinkle with popping candy, and sandwich with another shell. Store macarons in the fridge, but bring them down to room temperature to eat. Enjoy!

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Cinnamon Donut Macarons

I had been wanting to try this flavour for some time, but I was just trying to figure out the best way of making the filling, and incorporating as much donutty flavour as I possibly could into the it, instead of say, just making a buttercream and flavouring it will a crapload of cinnamon. This time, I went all out Zumbo-style, and creeped a little bit out of the box, and my comfort zone. Thankfully, it kind of paid off. This flavour was quite delicious.

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 I’m not going to write out a recipe for the filling, because I did so many things and added so many little bits and pieces that I cannot remember it to the tee! I will try to explain it as best as possible 🙂 I was extremely lucky with my shells this time, they were a particularly good batch and I didn’t have to throw ANY out – this never happens! Totally wish it was like that everytime! Again, apologies for the shadow-y night time photos.
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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
  • 1/4 tsp colouring      gel, brown

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. If you want to add flavouring/colouring, now’s your moment. So add the colouring 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. 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. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 145c (135c fan forced).

Place in oven and bake for 16-20 minutes. Check macarons at 16 minutes, and to test if they are cooked, 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.

Macarons

Cinnamon Donut filling:

As I mentioned earlier, I am not going to write out a recipe for this filling. I’ll briefly go through what I can remember 🙂
Donuts
So, firstly, I placed the donuts in the container with the cream, and left it from about 12 midday to 3 or 4pm the next day. I pulled all of the donuts out, except for 2, and in hindsight, I think I really should have left 3 to give it a little bit more of a donutty flavour. The cream was not as flavoursome as I hoped for, so with the remaining 2 donuts in the cream, I blitzed it all up together, to make a cinnamon donut whipped cream like thing. After this, the mixture was still a little lumpy, so I put it through a fine sieve which made it separate – which was actually not a bad thing. I then whipped up about 3/4 cup thickened cream, and added some icing sugar and cinnamon sugar (you can buy this in a glass jar at the supermarket or just add cinnamon and sugar separarely), and folded it into the donut and cream mixture. It was very runny after this, so I stirred in about 1/3 cup cornflour, and left it overnight to thicken. I then just placed the filling in a piping bag fitted with a round nozzle and filled the shells. Due to the amount of cream in the filling, it was a bit more runny than usual, which made the shells a bit fragile. They still tasted pretty awesome, though 🙂
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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.
Biscuits
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.
Little poos
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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