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    Entries in recipe (47)

    Saturday
    Dec102011

    Basil Syrup - A tiny taste of Summer

                                             a tiny taste of summer cupcake

    Chefs and baking professionals love a stock syrup, once you start using them you will too! 

    Stock syrups are also known as sugar syrup, simple syrup, light or heavy syrup depending where you are from. Cakes are syruped to seal the cake preserving freshness, moisten the cake and can also flavour the cake. 

    With a jar of stock syrup in the fridge you can quickly poach fruit, add to salad dressings, syrup your cupcakes, act as glaze, whip up a sorbet, make fruit sauces/coulis, cocktails, and a plethora of dessert applications.

    Stock syrup is often infused with herbs, spices, citrus, ginger, vanilla, liqueurs, teas and flowers. 

    Basic Stock Syrup 

    Ingredients

    2 cups of water

    2 cups of white sugar

    Method

    Combine the water and sugar in a medium heavy based saucepan. Over medium heat bring mixture to boil, stirring once or twice along the way. 

    Cook 3-4 minutes. Set aside to cool. 

    Basil syrup

    one cup of stock syrup

    strawberries

    small fresh basil leaves

    Put one cup of syrup in a small saucepan, pour remaining syrup into a screw top jar and refrigerate for up to three weeks.

    Bring the syrup in the saucepan almost to the boil, add three basil leaves and cover... allow to steep for 20 minutes. Remove basil leaves and allow syrup to cool.

    The basil after steeping ready to be removed. Whole spices, vanilla beans, and citrus peel may be left longer if desired. The syrup will pick up the colour of citrus peel with prolonged standing.

    Brush cupcake tops with basil syrup, top with either marscarpone or cream cheese frosting. Toss chopped strawberries in the left over syrup and pile onto your cupcakes. Add small basil leaves for decoration.

    Other flavoured syrups are created in the same way, try rosemary, thyme and mint. Vanilla made with a whole split bean, store the vanilla bean in the syrup for a stronger flavour. A bruised piece of fresh ginger makes a lovely syrup to use on fruit salads, so does split and bruised lemon grass... or how about a combo of the two "ginger and lemon grass". Tea bags, herbal, green or black make for flavourful infused syrup as does roasted coffee/cocoa nibs.

    Allow one tablespoon of liqueur or rum/brandy/whisky per cup of syrup, this is a great cake syrup or even in your cup of coffee (though probably best not to have it with your brekkie cup). Zest strips from lemon, lime, orange, remove after 20 minutes for a slight citrus tang, leave overnight for a stronger flavour. 

    Whole spices such as cinnamon or star anise can also be left in the syrup if a stronger flavour is desired. If using flowers keep the quantity of petals/buds small, a little goes a long way. 

    *notes; cupcake pictured today is larger than real life version, the actual cupcake and subsequent basil leaves are small. To make a heavier/thicker syrup 3 cups sugar to 1 cup water, to make a lighter syrup 3 parts water to one part sugar.

    That's it for today, hope you are all having a great weekend.

    Happy Baking :)

    Wednesday
    Nov302011

    Teddy Trouble Tia Maria Tim Tam Treat

           Teddy Trouble TiaMaria Tim Tam Treat with fondant teddy bear

    "The weekend started with hedgehogs, but finished with Teddy Bears"

    Join me on facebook today!! 

    Hedgehog slices are popular in my home state of Victoria. Hedgehogs are a chocolate unbaked refrigerator slice (bar), mainly comprised of crushed biscuits (cookies). Usually store bought biscuits are used and it's a quick and easy way to use up leftover cookies from the Christmas season.

    I was working on delveloping a hedgehog recipe on the weekend that did not contain raw egg; we are "thrill seekers" here in Oz and do eat raw egg in our hedgehogs that tends to cause "dread" in some other countries. 

    My thoughts then went to Tim Tams. Australia's national biscuit is the ANZAC, but it's the 'Tim Tam' that is the iconic Aussie biscuit. My very own teddy bear, namely my husband Mark was in trouble this weekend when he offered to drop off eggs and Tim Tam Treats to my best friends house... Mark took the eggs and having second thoughts tucked away the Tim Tam Treats unbeknownst to me back in fridge. Goodness, that's what I like to see at Christmas... no sharing of treats and keeping them for yourself!! 

    classic original Tim Tams and dark chocolate Tim Tams

    Tim Tams sandwich light chocolate cream, inbetween chocolate malty biscuits that are enrobed in chocolate. They are what I use in today's recipe, but if you can't get Tim Tams go for the biscuit/cookie you think is closest to it. 

    inside Tim Tams

    Tia Maria Tim Tam Treats

    18 standard cupcake cases or 36 mini cases, mixture can alternatively be pressed into a brownie tin.

    *note on "raisins" that are used in the recipe... 

    Raisins in Australia are larger and stickier than sultanas, if you can't get them chopped dates are a suitable substitute. 

    on the right, raisins are larger and stickier than the sultanas on the left. 

    Ingredients

    150 grams of raisins or chopped dates

    3 tablespoons of Tia Maria

    400 grams 2 packs (14 oz) Tim Tams or equivalent

    300 grams (8.8 oz) dark eating chocolate

    150 grams (5.3 oz) butter

    150 grams (5.3 oz) roasted walnut or pecan pieces

    2 tablespoons sour cream

    Method

    Put the raisins along with the Tia Maria in a small microwave safe bowl, microwave on medium low in 30 seconds increments until Tia Maria starts to be absorbed into the fruit. Set aside.

    Roughly crush Tim Tams in transfer to a mixing bowl.

    you want pieces of the biscuits still to be visible

    Melt chocolate and butter in a saucepan over low heat, stir gently until chocolate is melted. Set aside.

    Add walnuts to the Tim Tams in mixing bowl, add sour cream, melted chocolate mixture and Tia Maria soaked fruit. Stir vigourously with a wooden spoon.

    Divide mixture between paper cupcake case and press down firmly with the back of a spoon.

    *Refrigerate overnight. 

    the inside of the Tim Tam treats looks like this

    Before serving top the Tim Tam treats top the treats with chocolate icing, melted chocolate or chocolate ganache if desired. 

    *the refrigerating overnight step cannot be skipped, the biscuit pieces swell and the treats will be the correct chocolately fudgey consistency. 

    Happy baking :)

     You might also be interested in: 

    Toblerone dessert in 30 minutes

    or try a white chocolate plastique recipe

    Thursday
    Nov102011

    Brownies, Brownies, Brownies

    Come join me on Facebook  Competition day today, scroll down for you chance to win 'Cookie Swap'!!

    It's official, I never want to eat a brownie again!! Well, at least for a month or two... phew, all this brownie taste testing was tough, but someone's gotta do it. 

    Brownies are so subjective aren't they? Fudgy, cakey, with nuts or with out. Are you a purist or perhaps you prefer to add choc chunks, caramel swirls or fresh raspberries. Then there is the edges, do you always go for the gooey centre bit or do you like the sugar crisp edges? And yes, some of you will even prefer your brownies frosted.

    Lets have a look a few different brownies... all recipes were baked on two separate occasions, all brownies improved after resting/refrigeration period... in other words "yummier the next day". 

    'Robert's Absolute Best Brownies' is from David Lebovitz's excellent 'Ready for Dessert: My Best Recipes', I baked it once with nuts as per the recipe and once with chocolate on top for my hubby. This was my favourite brownie, albeit I think more of a chocolate slice than what I'd consider a true brownie. A little piece with coffee was "just right". 

     

    Then on to Australian style brownies where we go tend to forgo the sugary crust for soft brown sugar finish. Ideal if you need a flat top to decorate your brownie. Pop over to Donna Hay's official site for her brownie recipe or try Gary Mehigan's Triple Chocolate Brownies from Australian MasterChef ...

    Gary Mehigan’s Triple Chocolate Brownies
    MasterChef magazine March, 2011

    Ingredients
    150g (5.29 oz)  unsalted butter, chopped
150g (5.29 oz) dark chocolate, finely chopped
    plus an extra 150g (5.29 oz) dark chocolate, cut into chunks
    100g (3.5 oz) milk chocolate, cut into chunks
    100g (3.5 oz) white chocolate cut into chunks 
    4 eggs, room temperature
    330g (11.64 oz) brown sugar
    1 tsp pure vanilla essence (extract)
    150g (1 cup) self raising flour (self rising)
    Method
    Preheat oven to 180C (350F).
    Grease and line a 20cm x 30cm (approx 8 x 12 inches) slice pan.
    Place butter, finely chopped dark chocolate and tablespoons of water in a small pan.
    Stir over low heat for 3 minutes or until melted, then transfer to a bowl.
    Whisk in eggs, sugar and vanilla. Sift in flour, then fold in the remaining chocolate.
    Spoon batter into pan and then bake for 35 minutes, or until firm around the edges but soft in the centre.
    Cool for 10 minutes, then refrigerate for 2 hours or until chilled.

     

    With brownies being quintessentially American, then that would make peanut butter and jam (jelly) triply so, or so I thought but not all family members agreed.

    'Chewy, Gooey, Crispy, Crunchy melt in your mouth cookies' isn't just a fabulous book title, it's written by a fabulous cook 'Alice Medrich' author of 'Pure Dessert' and the gorgeous 'Chocolat: extraordinary chocolate desserts' amongst others. 

    I've made several of the brownies from this book, all good... the cocoa brownies I baked to the recipe the first time and the second time I decided to swirl through some peanut butter and raspberry jam.

    My husband Mark loved these!! My step son Daniel thought "they were just wrong" and picked away the peanut and jam to eat the fudgy chocolate brownie. Can't please them all ;)

     

     

     the unassuming brownie voted "best" by my husband and step son

    Almost didn't buy 'Cookie Swap', Amazon kept putting it in my recommendations where I'd glance at it and think "don't like the cover", "don't have cookie swaps in Australia". Then it triggered (in my brain that is) where I knew the name 'Lauren Chattman' from, she is the co-author of 'Dessert University' one of my favourite dessert books by Roland Mesnier former White House pastry chef. So I popped it in the cart and I'm glad I did, because from page 55 of this book comes a brownie recipe that they both my husband and step son voted "best" brownie. We have made the 'Incredibly Fudgy Brownies' numerous times, so has my best friends daughter Emma, we all love it.

     

    Would you like to win a copy of 'Cookie Swap'? I have three copies up for grabs...

    For you chance to win just leave a comment here on the blog or on facebook:

    25 words or less "Your favourite brownie and why?" or perhaps a killer brownie recipe I should try? Competition drawn Monday 14th November.

    If you missed the 'Fat Witch Brownies' book review it's here 

    or Choc Orange Brownie Cupcake

    Happy Baking :)

    Wednesday
    Oct262011

    Mars Attack!! No bake Mars Bar "planets". 

    mars attacks!!! push pops

    Have you entered the cake push pop container competition yet??  I have sample packs of six push pop cake containers to give away to six lucky people.   All you have to do is leave a comment here or on facebook explaining in 25 words of less "your idea" for pops... could be for the cake part or perhaps an event idea. Hubby Mark and Step son Dan will choose two winners each and I'll choose two winners. Competition drawn the last weekend of October. 

    Last minute non-scary Halloween treats for the little ones, fun no-bake Mars Bars Planet push pops.  A versatile quick and easy mix that can be pressed into cupcake cases, roll in balls to make "planets" and either pop two in each push pop cake container or insert a lollipop stick for planet pops. 

    Give the kids assorted coloured fondant to make simple aliens, a food marker can be used to draw the eyes, mouth or nose if desired. Encourage simple shapes and supply a small paint brush and a glass of water so arms and legs can be attached. 

    simple shapes, easy for little hands to manage

    Mars Bar Planet Balls

    adapted from no-bake chocolate cakes Australian Women's Weekly 'Cupcakes' 

    Ingredients 

    265 grams  ( 9.34 oz) Mars Bars....  (5 bars)

    60 grams (2.11 oz) butter 

    3/12 cups Cocoa Pops (Cocoa Krispies) 

    Topping

    200 grams (7oz)  milk or dark eating chocolate (melted)

    Assorted small lollies/candies ... I used choc rocks

    Method 

    Slice Mars Bars and place them in a medium saucepan with the butter. Melt over low heat, stirring until smooth.

     Stir in Cocoa Pops until well combined and roll firmly into 24 balls (about 2 heaped teaspoons per ball).

    Top each ball with a little melted chocolate and a few lollies. Refrigerate 30 minutes or until set.

    Top with fondant aliens and package in cake push pop containers or in cellophane bags. 

    Other Ideas; Mars Bar mixture can also be used to replace LCM's (Rice Krispie Treats) as structural elements in your cake decorating. Easy to carve, shape and it's not as sticky as the marshmallow mixtures.

    Edible ice-cream bowls can be made by turning smalls bowls upside down, cover each bowl with plastic wrap and spray with oil in a can. Press Mars Bar mixture over the bowls to cover, trim edges if necessary and refridgerate for 30 minutes. Ease off the bowl moulds, peel away plastic wrap and you have "edible ice-cream bowls".

    Happy Halloween and Happy Baking :) 

    Saturday
    Oct222011

    Peach Verrine in minutes

               stem-less red wine glass holds a Peach Verrine

    verrine is a confection, originally from France, made by layering ingredients in a small glass. It can be either sweet or savoury, making a dessert or snack. Wikipedia

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    Goodness, sometimes you just have one of "those weeks!!" A week when the faithful Apple Mac computer broke down, the puppy discovered it can rip stuffing from every chair and our new landscaping business 'Mark Paxton Landscapes' has taken off with a pre-Christmas frenzy of work. A week where there was no baking going on ):

    Time to raid the pantry to see what I can whip up in the 5 minutes I have to spare!! Tinned peaches (in mango puree), ginger nut biscuits (cookies), Peach Schnapps and white chocolate curls. Ok, now to the fridge, whipping cream and mascarpone... it must be time for a verrines! 

    There is no amounts for this recipe, just start by putting chilled peach slices in the bottom of your glasses. Whip some cream (sweeten to taste), fold through a few spoonfuls of mascarpone and add a glug of Peach Schnapps. Top the peaches with a spoonful of the cream mixture, add crumbled gingernut biscuits (cookies) and chocolate curls. Serve immediately.

    For verrines in minutes; think fruit, crunch, cream and chocolate.

    You do have that jar of pitted morello cherries lurking in the pantry somewhere don't you? Divide the cherries between glasses. Top the fruit with a kirsch cream mixture, crushed chocolate biscuits (cookies) and dark chocolate curls. 

    So remember when you having one of "those weeks", there is always time for dessert!!

    You might also be interested in Combed Chocolate Curls

    or a quick Toblerone dessert

    Friday
    Oct142011

    White Chocolate Plastique (Modelling Chocolate

     

    white chocolate plastique rose, dusted with gold lustre dust

    Today I have an easy and excellent icing sugar (confectioners sugar) based white chocolate plastique for you to try. With no cooking involved you can whip this up in minutes, ready to create flowers or figures. This plastique can also be added to your precoloured fondant.

    White Chocolate Plastique (Modelling Chocolate)

    suitable for modelling figures and flowers, not for covering cakes. 

    Ingredients

    25g (0.88oz)white chocolate (I used couverture) 

    100g (3.5oz) icing sugar (confectioners sugar)

    75g (2.65oz) cocoa butter

    100g (3.5oz) glucose syrup

    Method

    In the bowl of a food processor combine the first three ingredients, until well blended. Add the glucose syrup and blend. Depending how warm your kitchen is, you will now have a ball of mixture or coarse breadcrumb like mixture... either way, tip contents onto non stick mat and knead until smooth and elastic. *Your chocolate plastique is now ready to use. 

    Uses

    The chocolate plastique can be rolled paper thin, perfect for petals.

    roll paper thin with a plastic rolling pin

    Use it to create figures. Knead in food colours as desired.

    Mixing half and half with pre-coloured modelling/flower paste will give you the flexibility of the plastique combined with the strength of the paste. Depth of colour is easily reached by over tinting your modelling paste before knead together with plastique. 50/50 is the ratio I usually use, however in hot weather I use 70 modelling paste/30 plastique. 

    Storage

    Keep leftover chocolate plastique well wrapped in plastic wrap and in an airtight container.

    *Troubleshoot: if you have hot hands, your plastique might seperate a little... just leave to one side for 10 minutes & then try kneading again. A few minutes of refrigeration can also help.

    Glucose syrup if you haven't used it before is extremely sticky, have a scrapper on hand if any adheres to the inside of your bowl to make sure you get it all out and incorporated into plastique. 

    Happy Baking :)

    You might also be interested in liquid sweeteners and syrups

    Friday
    Oct072011

    Mum's Vanilla Slices

    Even though I call these "Mum's Vanilla Slices"; Mum never made them. My mum loved to clip or copy out recipes by hand, then over coffee she would  *hint *hint "oh, if only someone would make that"... and of course I always would  :) 

    Many countries have versions of a puff pastry with custard cake, in Australia it's the 'Vanilla Slice' that rules. Puff pastry base, covered in creamy custard and topped with more pastry and then iced or perhaps just a dusting of icing sugar. The vanilla slice is so popular thousands compete each year in the 'Great Australian Vanilla Slice Triumph". With categories for professionals, amateurs and juniors, the baking competition attracts the best of best in classic vanilla slices in the country.

    You're thinking I'm going to segue into the best of the best classic recipe now don't you?? Wrong... my family and friends do love this thoroughly nice recipe, but Mum's handed down recipe is an odd version of a vanilla slice in that it is egg free, the custard is made up wholly of custard powder (sorry to all MasterChef purists) and uses gelatine as a setting agent. 

    *custard powder; is a sweetened flavoured cornflour product that when milk is added and heated to correct temperature it becomes a custard sauce. Also used in baking, particularly shortbread type biscuits (cookies).

    I suspect many years ago Mum must have acquired the recipe from a brand name product as she names all the brands on the hand written scrap... wish she was still here to tell me about it, but I can still share the recipe for "Mum's Vanilla Slices" :)

    Mum's Vanilla Slices

    Makes 12

    23 cm square cake tin (9x9 inch) sides and base lined with foil or baking paper

    I haven't "poshed up" this recipe at all and it is as it was written, albeit minus the brand names of the products. The completed slice needs to be refrigerated overnight for ease of slicing.

    Ingredients

    2 sheets of ready rolled puff pastry

    *5 tablespoons of custard powder

    1/2 cup caster sugar (superfine)

    600ml of milk (20 fluid ounces)

    1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon of powdered gelatine

    1/3 cup hot water

    250ml of cream

    2 tablespoons of sour cream

    1 tsp pure vanilla essence/extract

    Icing

    1 1/2 cups of pure icing sugar (confectioners sugar)

    1 1/2 tablespoons of water

    1 tsp pure vanilla essence/extract

     Method

    Preheat oven to 230C (450F)

    1. Place pastry sheets on greased baking trays and prick well with a fork. Bake for 6 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven. Whilst still warm and using the base of your tin as a template trim the pastry to the size of the tin. 

    2. In a saucepan blend the custard and powder and sugar with sufficient milk to make a smooth paste. Add remaining milk. Cook over a low heat, stirring constantly until milk boils and becomes thick. Cook 1 minute before removing from heat.

    3. Sprinkle the gelatine onto hot water and stir until thoroughly dissolved. Stir into custard and place a piece of wetted paper on top to prevent a skin forming. Allow to cool.

    placing wetted paper on top of custard will prevent a skin forming

    4. Place both creams, vanilla and custard in a mixer bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat on high speed until well blended. 

    beat together creams, vanilla and prepared custard

    Place a prepared pastry sheet in the bottom of your prepared tin, pour over custard and top with remaining pastry. Press down firmly with your hand. Set to one side.

    Icing

    Place icing sugar and water in a saucepan and warm over a low heat, stirring constantly until a good spreading consistency is reached. Add vanilla. Pour over pastry. Allow to cool. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Cut into 12 squares and serve.

    Happy Baking :)

    You might also like Vanilla extracts, essences, pods and pastes

    Saturday
    Sep242011

    Chocolate Peanut Butter Spiders

                                         chocolate peanut butter spiders

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    Finishing off "easy ideas" week with Chocolate Peanut Butter Spiders. Five minutes and three ingredients, that's all you'll need to make 24 crunchy and chocolately mini spiders. 

    If your an Australian with kids you have probably made these or eaten these before, they are made with the popular fried noodles made by 'Chang's'. This is pretty much the recipe you will find on the packet and I added black cachous on the dark spiders for the extra crunch of "spider eggs" ;) 

    Chang's Original Fried Noodles

    Ingredients

    1 pkt Chang’s Original Fried Noodles 100g (3.5oz)
    2 Tablespoons Crunchy Peanut Butter
    200g (7oz) chopped Milk or Dark Chocolate... this can eating chocolate like I used today or cooking chocolate or even compound chocolate/candy melts if you prefer. 

    Optional: black cachous 

    Method

    Microwave chocolate and peanut butter in microwave safe mixing bowl for about 30 seconds on high. If not melted, then microwave again in 5 second intervals. Stir until smooth. Add noodles, stir lightly with a metal spoon until well coated. With a teaspoon, spoon the mixture onto non-stick baking paper or mat. Using heaped teaspoons, this mixture will yield 24 to 40 spiders. Top with black cachous if using. 

    black cachous for spider eggs

    Place in refrigerator until set. Package as gifts or just eat them straight away!!

    Happy weekend baking :) 

    Friday
    Sep092011

    Double Pig and Prawn Money Bag Dumplings

                Double Pig and Prawn Money Bag Dumplings

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    Shhhhh! I'll let you in on a secret, if I'm posting pictures of dinner you know something has gone awry. 

    My sweet, cute pug puppy has another side… a touch of demon dog that rears it's head every time I pick up a piping bag!! From biting our girl pug to chewing the power cords, baby Barry is certainly rambunctious! New plan, the puppy babysitters (namely my husband and step son) will mind the puppy on the weekend when I will whipping up amazing cupcakes; or something like that ;) But for today it's double pig and prawn dumplings.

    These are versatile little Chinese style dumplings, you can pop them into a soup broth, deep fry them, turn them into mini pot stickers or steam them like I have today… don't forget the sweet chilli sauce to dip them in! 

    Double Pig and Prawn Dumplings

    Ingredients

    30 to 35 wonton wrappers 7.5cm (3 inch) square

    125g (4oz) finely chopped bacon

    125g (4oz) finely diced raw prawn meat (raw shrimp)

    185g (6oz) minced pork (ground pork)

    *1/3 cup finely chopped spring onions

    *1/4 cup finely diced water chestnuts

    1 tbs finely chopped chives

    1 tbs corn flour (corn starch)

    1 tsp salt

    1/4 tsp ground black pepper

    1 tsp crushed garlic

    1 tsp grated fresh ginger

    sweet chilli sauce (to serve)

    Method

    Place all ingredients in a bowl, mix together with a wooden spoon then knead until smooth. Chill for 25 minutes.

    Open your packet of wonton wrappers. Working with about four at time (keep the others covered with a clean damp cloth to prevent them drying out) lay them out and place a small ball of filling in the centre of each wrapper.

     Brush a little water around the edges and draw up the sides to form a "money bag". Pinch firmly to seal and place on a tray lined with non stick paper, cover with damp clean cloth to prevent drying out and continue to make more dumplings.

     Steam in an oiled steam basket or on a oiled plate within a bamboo steamer for 15 - 20 minutes. 

    Serve with sweet chilli sauce for dipping. 

    *water chestnuts can be replaced with the white part of celery if desired.

    *this is what we call a spring onion in Melbourne Australia.... you may know it by a different name.

    Thursday
    Sep082011

    Apricot and Rosemary Syrup Cupcakes 

          apricot and rosemary syrup cupcakes with mascarpone whipped cream

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    Herbs and flowers make a lovely addition to your dessert baking, the trick when using them is a light hand; whilst too much rose water can leave you with a soapy taste, too much rosemary or sage can leave you with a "oh, wow it's roast chicken!"

    Spring has arrived in Australia and our rosemary plant is sprouting new growth, the soft sprigs are a perfect addition to poached dried apricots. 

    Poached Dried Apricots with Rosemary

    Ingredients

    12 dried apricots halves

    2 small sprigs fresh rosemary

    1 cup water

    1/2 cup sugar

    Method

    Combine the water and sugar in a small saucepan, stir over low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Add the apricots and rosemary, bring to the boil then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes or until fruit is soft and plumped. Remove from heat. Allow to cool.  

    Mascarpone whipped cream topping

    Ingredients

    1 cup heavy cream

    1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla essence/extract

    1/2 cup mascarpone cheese, room temperature

    1/4 cup sifted icing sugar (confectioners sugar/powdered) 

    Method

    Mix mascarpone, vanilla and icing sugar together, in a separate bowl mix cream until soft peaks form. Fold cream into mascarpone mixture. Chill.  

    Cake 

    Use your favourite vanilla cupcake as the base cake or as I've used smaller cases today I've included a basic small quantity "Australian" type cake... it's firmer which suits toppings that are moist. 

    Preheat oven to 180C/350F 

    Line two 12 cup trays with paper liners (the small patty/fairy cake size)

    Ingredients

    125g butter (4.4oz)
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    2/3 cup (150g) castor sugar (superfine)
    3 eggs
    1½ cups (225g) self-raising flour
    ¼ cup milk (60ml)

    Method

    Beat butter, extract, sugar, eggs, sifted flour & milk on low speed with an electric mixer until ingredients are just combined. Increase speed to medium & beat for 3 minutes until smooth and pale in colour.

    Drop spoonfuls of mixture into the paper liners. Bake about 18 to 20 minutes. Allow to cool in tins for 5 minutes removing to a wire rack to cool.

    Assemble

    brush syrup over cake top

    Brush tops of cakes with syrup from the poached apricots, top with a spoonful of mascarpone whipped topping and a poached apricot half, drizzle a little extra of the syrup on if desired. Decorate with a small sprig of rosemary.

    Whether it's strawberries and basil, lemon and sage, apple and thyme or apricots and rosemary: enjoy playing with herbs in your desserts, cookies and cupcakes. 

    Happy Baking :)