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    Fruit Curds and Butters

    Fruit curds or butters are simple to make and a great introduction to preserving. 

    I use them for cupcake and mini tart fillings, but they are as equally good spread on a crumpet served with a cup of tea, stirred into yoghurt or spooned over a dessert. Baked yellow buttermilk cupcake filled with raspberry curd, then iced.

    My favourites are flavours are raspberry and tangelo, though feel free to substitute lemon, lime, orange for the tangelo, ruby red grapefruit makes lovely curd too. Or try strawberries or blackberries instead of the raspberries.

    Tangelo Curd

    Makes 1 1/2 cups

    3 large egg yolks
    Zest of 1/2 a large tangelo
    1/4 cup of tangelo juice
    6 tablespoons sugar
    4 tablespoons butter, cold and diced


    Combine yolks,  zest,  juice, and sugar in a small saucepan. Whisk to combine. Set over medium heat, and stir constantly with a wooden spoon, making sure to stir sides and bottom of pan. Cook until mixture is thick enough to coat back of wooden spoon, 5 to 7 minutes.

    Remove saucepan from heat. Add the butter, one piece at a time, stirring with the wooden spoon until consistency is smooth. Strain.
    Transfer mixture to a medium bowl. Lay a sheet of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd to avoid a skin from forming; wrap tightly. Let cool; refrigerate until firm and chilled, at least 1 hour. Store, refrigerated in an airtight container, up to 2 days.

    Adapted from Martha Stewart's lemon curd

    Raspberry curd
    Makes just over 2 cups

    500g (1.10 lb) of Raspberries 
    225g (1/2  lb) of white sugar
    60g (2oz) of salted butter diced
    2 large eggs beaten

    Put a quarter of cup of water and the raspberries in a saucepan, bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Rub the mixture through a sieve to remove seeds.

    In a double boiler or a heat proof bowl over a pan of simmering water set on the lowest heat possible, whisk the raspberries, sugar, butter and egg until the sugar has dissolved.

    Swap to a wooden spoon and continue to simmer; until the mixture thickens and coats the back of the wooden spoon. Remove from heat, give it another stir, if you feel it's too thin pop it back on the heat for another minute or two. Remember it will thicken on cooling. 

    Strain. Pot in sterilised jars or if you are using it within the week a covered container is fine. Refrigerate. 

    Note: you don't ever want a curd to boil, it will result in curdled (bits of cooked egg) in your curd. If you do get a any sign of bubbling, remove curd pot from stove an submerge base of pan into iced water.

    Make combed chocolate curls 


    Tool Time

    Tool time t
    he kitchen tools and gadgets I love.

    Starting with the mixers.

                      KitchenAid Artisan Stand Mixer                             Dualit Soft Touch hand mixer    

    Bake regularly? Then a stand mixer is indispensable. Bake occasionally? Then you can't go past a good hand mixer. Bake day in, day out? Go for both!

    Love, love, love my KitchenAid Artisan Mixer, the mixer comes with flat beater, whisk and dough hook attachments for all your baking needs. From the heaviest dough to the lightest meringue, the KitchenAid handles it with ease. KitchenAid mixers have many additional attachments available, from ice-cream maker to sausage stuffer. I found getting an extra bowl for mixer extremely useful.

    The Dualit Soft Touch Hand Mixer, comes with flat beaters, whisk and dough hook. I use it for all the small jobs; something the KitchenAid doesn't handle is small amounts in the bowl. Super fast for whipping an egg white or two, handy & powerful.

    If your looking for a mixer another great brand is Kenwood's kMix. For more information here is the links to their official sites Kenwood's, Dualit and KitchenAid.


    Martha Stewart's Cupcakes 

    Off the shelf  
    baking book reviews

    This weeks off the shelf is 'Martha Stewart's Cupcakes'  175 Inspired Ideas for Everyone's Favorite Treat (Paperback)

    Okay, I admit it, I am a Martha fan. I do get a bit "Martha, Martha, Martha" and that can drive the male members of the household a little crazy. This of course does not stop them eating and asking for more whenever I have a day of "Martha baking". 

    I've baked many of the recipes in 'Martha Stewart's Cupcakes' a 352 page beautifully formatted book full of cupcake recipes, frostings, fillings, plus ways to decorate and package your cupcakes. All done with Martha's impeccable style.

    I made the mocha cupcake (pictured top)... flavourful, choc/coffee experience, everyone loved them. Though watch out for those chocolate coated coffee beans, I ate too many of them when setting up the photo and ended up with lots of shaky shots!

    The book contains two of my all time favourite cupcake recipes, a one-bowl chocolate cupcake page 152 and 'Yellow Buttermilk Cupcakes' page 26, in my opinion the "perfect yellow cake". From basic vanilla, a range of chocolates, to Amaretto and Pineapple cupcakes, Roasted Banana cupcakes, Lemon Meringue and a host of other flavours.

    Filled with cupcake recipes, to die for frostings, gorgeous photos & inspirational tips you will find yourself turning to 'Martha Stewarts Cupcakes' over and over again.



    Chocolate Black Forest Pavlovas

             Chocolate Black Forest Pavlova with chocolate sauce

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    Love the "retro" of a black forest cake, ditto these chocolate mini pavlovas with the hidden chocolate centre and morello cherry top.  Hope you enjoy them too :) 

    Morello cherries make a lovely addition to the batter of dark chocolate cupcakes, studding a sweet focaccia or as in today's posting topping a chocolate pavlova. If you are in fresh cherry season, fresh pitted cherries poached in a little sugar syrup can substitute for the Morello cherries if desired.

    Ingredients (serves 4)

    2 eggwhites

    pinch cream of tartar

    1/2 cup caster sugar (superfine)

    1 tablespoon dark dutch process cocoa powder (sifted)

    1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

    Chocolate Sauce

    125g (5.3oz) chopped good quality dark chocolate

    125 ml (half cup) of thickened cream

    2 tsp Kirsch (optional)


    1 jar *morello cherries in syrup

    2 tsp kirsch (optional)

    125ml (1/2 cup) thickened cream 

    Dark chocolate grated or curls to decorate

    . Preheat oven to 120C. Draw four 7cm (2.75 inch) circles on non stick baking paper, reverse paper so ink lines will be facing downwards when you use it to line your baking tray. 
    . Using an electric mixer, beat eggwhites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat until meringue is thick and glossy. Add cocoa & vanilla. Beat until just combined.
    . Spoon meringue onto lined baking tray, using circles as a guide.  Bake for 30 minutes. Reduce oven to 120C. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until meringue is dry and crisp. Turn off oven and jar door open a little with the handle of a wooden spoon. Allow to cool completely in oven.

    Place chocolate in a bowl. Place cream in a small pan over medium heat and bring to just below boiling point. Pour over chocolate, then stir until smooth. Stir is kirsch if using.  Let cool until it thickens slighty, break hole in the top center of each pavlova and put a spoonful of chocolate sauce.  

    Whip cream with an electric beater until medium stiff peaks.

    In a separate small bowl, add the Kirsch to 2 tablespoons of syrup from the jarred Morello cherries. Swirl of little of syrup through the cream, spoon onto the  tops of pavlovas (you may have some leftover), top with whole Morello cherries and decorate with chocolate curls and serve with any leftover cream, syrup and chocolate sauce.

    Inside the pavlova, chocolate sauce with chocolatey marshmallow with crisp sugary shell.

    Meringue base recipe adapted from SuperFood Ideas magazines Chocolate Pavlova Nests Nov 2005

    Happy Baking :)

    You might also be interested in POP POP yes bubble wrap chocolate!


    Pigs might Fly cupcake

    I woke up this morning and my husband told me that he was giving up watching hours & hours & hours of TV sport in order to spend time talking to me.

    TV's volume controls did not allow the sound to reach a level that damages brain cells and wet towels are A. not thrown in the tub B. not draped creatively around the bathroom C. NOT THROWN IN THE TUB!

    There is some kind of "greeting" given before "What's for dinner?" "Is there anything to eat?" "Is there any food?" (what does that mean anyway, "is there any food?... have you opened a fridge/pantry cupboard?). Did I mention the wet towels were not thrown in the tub?

    And Pigs might Fly! 


    Half a Master Chef

    What makes a Master Chef? Perhaps it's how many elements that are put on a plate?


    Gorgeous chocolate plated dessert by chef Matt Moran from his Sydney bay side Restaurant Aria.

    For those MasterChef fan's this is dessert from the final of Masterchef Australia. 

    I set about making about half of the plated desserts elements ... the chocolate tart (miniature versions), chocolate sauce, the chocolate glacage (chocolate glaze) and quenelles of the mousse like chocolate. 

    What's missing are the chocolate macaron's, double baked macaron crumb, chocolate pipe and chocolate sorbet. 

    Valrhona Jivara Chocolate is used in the recipe, quite a small amount 60g, but it's worth seeking out if you are going to recreate the dessert. Jivara is a fine French milk chocolate (40% cocoa solids) with caramel/vanilla undertones and just a hint of malt.

    The resulting tarts were just amazing, step son Dan said he "would kill someone for this". 

    Want to give it a try? Visit the MasterChef Australia site for the full recipe and instructions. 

    MasterChef Australia: Top rating reality cooking competition based on UK's long running MasterChef.




    Curse Mr. Kelly and Save the Chickens cupcake


    There is many "classic teenage moments",  and this is one of them ;-)

    My girlfriend Cindy had prepared the families favourite chicken casserole, it was a day when she, as a flat out mother of three she was pleased to be on top of things, that was until it was time to serve dinner. Teenage son "What's for dinner?" Cindy "Our favourite chicken casserole", from that moment it goes down hill... Teenage son over the six hours since she last saw him has decided, after learning about chicken farming at school that he no longer eats chicken, at least not factory farmed chicken and how could his Mum "do it".

    Developing a social conscience & the power to disrupt the family that does along with it, lol I love. Cindy wasn't as enamoured, she cursed the teacher Mr.Kelly for raising the subject at school as she rushed to the shop to buy a block of tofu ;-)

    My stepson Daniel, sits his first VCE (high school final) exam tomorrow. Good luck Dan and thank you...

    Mr. Kelly & Mr. Pearson Media teachers at Wantirna College. You have both been inspirational, wonderful teachers. Daniel wouldn't be there without you guys. Thank you from the bottom of hearts for everything you have done.

    PS I watched lots of films you have recommended and enjoyed them, but come on Copycat is not that good a film! Someone just has a "thing" for Sigourney Weaver... admit it! 


    All that Glitters

    Time for a little bling!  Make your cupcakes glitter and shimmer with these products available from cake decorating stores.

     1. Blue fine sanding sugar: Sanding sugar is available in coarse or fine in a wide range of colours. 2. Lustre dust: Available in metallics, lustre dust can be dusted on dry or mixed with a little vodka for a metallic paint. 3. Cachous: Assorted sizes and colours of metallic cachous, try mixing different sizes on the same cake. 4. Pure edible Silver Leaf 23 carat: Pure silver leaf available in sheets. Apply with a fine dry brush to lift pieces from the sheets.  5. Pure edible Gold Leaf 23 carat: Available in leaves, pieces and shaker containers.6. Edible glitter: Wide range of colours, use as whole flakes or push through a fine sieve to make the whole cupcake shimmery. 


    Midnight Mint Mini Cupcakes


    Dark and minty, the perfect after dinner mint experience.

    Makes 24 mini cupcakes

    Chocolate cake


    1 ½  cups self-raising flour
    ½ cup cocoa powder (preferably dark dutch processed)
    ¾  cup caster sugar (superfine)
    ¾  cup milk
    60g dark chocolate (2oz) melted
    125g butter (4.4oz) melted, cooled
    2 large eggs beaten
    1 teaspoon pure vanilla essence

    2 Peppermint crisp bars choppedNestle Peppermint crisp bars... a profusion of thin cylinders of mint-flavoured toffee enrobed in milk chocolate. Popular in Australia crushed or chopped as an ingredient in or on cheesecakes, pavlovas, cakes, cookies and the like. 


    Preheat oven to 180°C. Line a 24 cup mini muffin pan with paper cases.

    Combine sifted flour and cocoa with the caster sugar in a bowl. Make a well in the centre.
    Add milk, butter, chocolate, eggs and vanilla to flour mixture. Using a large metal spoon, stir gently to combine.
    Divide mixture into the paper cases. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean, careful not to overbake. Stand in pan for 5 minutes, and then transfer to a wire rack to cool.

    Peppermint Ganache

    ½ cup cream 
    200g (7oz) dark eating chocolate chopped
    2 drops of peppermint essence or oil

    Bring cream to the boil in a small saucepan, remove from heat, add chocolate, stir until smooth & add essence.

    Dip the top of cooled cakes, one by one into the ganache. Sprinkle with chopped Peppermint crisp bar. 

    *the ganache will lose it's gloss once set, if you are not serving the cakes within an hour but want "gloss" a teaspoon of corn syrup stirred in after the chocolate has melted into the cream will preserve the gloss.



    Yummy Soup! Recipe management software for Mac.

    Tried many, own several, but I love this recipe management software from Hungry Seacow Software most of all for it's easy, fast, complete drop & drag import of recipes from all the major food sites. A host of other features including full screen view for those of us (me!) that can't read a recipe off the screen to bake unless it is LARGE. 

    At only $20 USD for a family pack I highly recommend  it.  

    System requirements; Mac OSX Tiger 10.4, Leopard 10.5, Snow Leopard 10.6 15 day free trial