Monthly Archives: February 2011

Chocolate Cream Pie

My sister came home last night, bounced up the stairs and presented her left hand in front of me. The conversation that followed went a bit like this…

Me: OMG!!!!!!!!

She probably won’t like that I’ve reduced her to giggles but I’m sure that’s how the conversation really went. Oh and yes, there was a shiny, shiny, very shiny engagement ring.Then I asked how it happened and in the most normal way, it was probably the best, most unassuming way it could happen. I told her I’d like to find my ring in a pie. To make things easier for the dude, here’s a couple of guidelines- you know, just in case. It’s really straight to the point too! Just remember 1) no apple pie, 2) no cherry pie, 3) pecan pie isn’t the best idea (no space for a ring!) and 4) neither is coconut pie (the ring would be too close in colour to the filling)

The idea pie really is a chocolate cream pie, baked by you.

And to make your life even simpler, I’ve provided you with a recipe! :) Aren’t I just so thoughtful.

Time to get serious though, this pie is so rich I could only manage half a slice so if you were planning on putting a ring in there, you gotta tell me, I’ll dig through the whole damn pie to find it.

This amazingly devilish Chocolate Cream Pie is from Saveur via The Hungry Mouse, who has provided the best step-by-step photos! All I did was use a GF pie crust from Ginger Lemon Girl instead of the cookie base since I haven’t any gluten free cookies lying around. And from my previous experience of baking my own cookies for the crust- let’s just say it didn’t work out as gorgeously as I had hoped. Since both blogs have done such amazing jobs of filling you in with detailed instructions on baking pie, I won’t even try to reproduce my own set of instructions.

Notes: My pie crust came out slightly chewy- underbaked? overbaked? I’m not sure but it is the most successful I have ever been with a pie crust before so I’m far from complaining. The pie filling…you’d seriously just want to eat it on its own. It’s really different from what I had imagined. I assumed it’d be more pudding-like but ohgosh no. It is like a refrigerator version of a mouthwateringly good chocolate ice cream. Like Haagen Daz’s Belgian Chocolate one. Call me crazy but I deliberately left some filling in the bowl so I could eat lick it off the spoon.

Also, it’s the Oscar’s today and in the spirit of creating food inspired by movies, this one reminds me of two really magical shows Julie and Julia and Waitress. I’m not sure what Keri Russell’s character would call this pie but maybe something along the lines of ‘I enjoy eating my feelings’ pie or ‘I am an evil dessert witch’ pie.


Filed under Chocolate, Inspired, Recipes

Caramel Parfait with Candied Popcorn

Making something icy cold during a hot, sunny day sounds like a swell idea. It is a genius plan. Who wants to walk outside and get some sweat patches just for ice cream. Okay, I would but we’re being hypothetical here.

So my super idea was to serve caramel parfait bars. And I spent 3 days preparing it, from the sticky caramel popcorn to the parfait filling to finally, dunking it in chocolate. That was, up until the point when the parfait started to melt before I could get round to dunking, and then the chocolate kind of just…sliding off. Disaster. Delicous, but still disastrous.

In comes sheer improvisation spirit! I thin out the ganache even more with whipping cream and once the bars have firmed up in the freezer again, I spread the ganache over the top. Not quite what I wanted (they were meant to resemble biscotti dipped in chocolate) but hey, you’re getting dessert after all.

Caramel Parfait with Candied Popcorn (from Gourmet Traveller Australia, September 2010)

150g dark couverture chocolate, finely chopped
45g vegetable shortening (I used butter and added 3 tbsp of warm whipping cream)

Candied Popcorn
1) Follow instructions and once popcorn has been made, divide popcorn between two lightly oiled 20 x 12 cm cake tins. Stand cool (30 minutes) then remove from tin.

Caramel Parfait
400ml pouring cream (I used whipping cream)
Scraped seeds of 1 vanilla bean
180g caster sugar
6 egg yolks

1) Combine 75ml cream and vanilla seeds in a small saucepan over low heat, stir occasionally until warm. Whisk yolks in an electric mixer on medium-high speed until pale and doubled in volume.

2) Meanwhile, heat a saucepan over high heat until hot. Add sugar (it should start to melt then colour) and swirl pan occasionally until sugar is dissolved and amber in colour. Do not leave unattended as sugar burns very easily.

3) Gradually add warm cream (it may sputter), stirring to combine.*

4) Decrease mixer to medium low and slowly pour in hot caramel down the side of the bowl. Increase speed to medium-high and whisk until cool. Whisk remaining cream in a bowl until stiff peaks form then fold in caramel yolks. Pour into a 20 x 12cm cake tin lined with baking paper. Place one sheet of candied popcorn on top and freeze until firm (3-5 hours).

5) After that, turn out and press on the remaining sheet of candied popcorn. Freeze until very firm (3 hours) before cutting into sandwiches and freeze until required.

6) Melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl in the microwave (30 second bursts, stirring between each). Add butter and cream, stirring until melted. At this point, you can dip each sandwich into the ganache or spread it over the top of the bars and freeze until ready to serve.

*I didn’t do a good job with the caramel and some of the sugar crystalised so I added in the cream nonetheless, mixed it until most of the kinks were out and sieved it to remove the crystalised bits. Worked fine. And I also got ALOT of caramel parfait, enough to make two trays of sandwiches I reckon. So my sandwiches were less finger like and more… BLT.


Filed under Caramel, Chocolate, Ice Cream, Recipes

Sticky Caramel Popcorn

The other night, I found myself at the end of my bed, stretched horizontally across, face flat on the covers. I figured that if I could contain myself from yelling, crying, sighing and whining, the day would automatically seem better. It didn’t work. 5 minutes later the laptop was by my side, churning out sad song after sad song after sad song.

Last night I found myself furiously typing away, searching for the lyrics to all my favourite songs so I could sing along. There was no way to describe the lightheaded happiness I felt, giddy from the feeling and never wanting it to stop. Funny right?

The only silver lining to knowing how it feels to be upset and completely swamped with negative thoughts is also knowing how being incredibly happy feels. So I’m just quite glad my happy day has finaallllyyy arrived. Let’s hope things look up from now on and lead to great news (shhh…like getting the visa!!!).

So in celebration of polar opposites that somehow…complement each other (like cowboy boots and pretty frocks!), here’s a salty, sticky caramel popcorn! Plus, it’s ridiculously easy too and looks like a huge ball of fluff.

Salty, Sticky Caramel Popcorn (adapted from Gourmet Traveler Australia, Sep 2010)

100g butter
120g caster sugar
60g honey
1 bag of naturally salted popcorn (ingredients should read salt, corn and oil, weighing about 90g)

1) Pop the popcorn in the microwave according to the packet instructions. It usually involves hearing a whole slew of magic popping sounds and they’re done when the popping starts getting less frequent. When done, remove the popped corn from the bag and transfer to a large bowl.

2) In a medium saucepan, place the butter, sugar and honey. Heat over a small-medium flame until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil for 2-3 minutes. It looks like a mad festival of bubbling. The colour won’t be as dark as a normal caramel and it doesn’t burn quite as easily.

3) Remove caramel from heat and stir gently. Bubbles to start to settle and disappear leaving you with a pale, sticky liquid. Pour over the popcorn and mix until they are all covered. I actually left mine slightly unevenly mixed just so there are salty and sweet bites.


Filed under Caramel, Recipes

Chocolate Fudge Sundae Cupcakes

One of my favourite memories of Melbourne is of Fred and I braving the blistery winter winds and running to McDonalds to get a hot fudge sundae and a large packet of fries. Then, making our way back to the car, undoing scarf knots and removing gloves before tucking into the piping hot fries dunked generously in chocolate covered soft serve ice cream. Sometimes I feel that having this treat with anyone else is like cheating on him. So I rarely share my fudge sundaes unless of course, you promise to be my best friend forever.

The problem with fudge sundaes is that they melt too fast causing us to scramble to finish it so the happiness is most definitely SHORT LIVED. No fear though, I translated all the goodness that is hot fudge sundae into a cupcake.

The cupcake itself is an adaptation from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s white velvet cake topped with a Swiss meringue vanilla buttercream and a glossy sticky fudge topping. Fries are optional but advisable.

White Velvet Butter Cupcakes (adapted from Rose’s Heavenly Cakes, half recipe makes 6 cupcakes)

45g egg whites, room temperature
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup GF Flour Blend
1/2 cup caster sugar (divided)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened

1) Preheat oven to 170°C. Line 6 cupcake tins with paper liners.

2) In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder, 1/4 cup sugar and salt. Add in the butter and mix on low until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs.

3) Add in the milk in 2 additions, mixing well after each time. In a separate bowl, either by hand or using a handheld mixer, whisk the egg whites until frothy. Slowly add in the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar and whisk until soft peaks form. Fold the egg whites into the batter. Divide amongst the paper liners and bake for 18-20 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

4) Let cakes cool in pan for 10 minutes before removing to cool completely on a wire rack. Frost and enjoy!

Glossy, Stick, Chewy Chocolate Ganache

60g couverture chocolate (at least 55%)
45g cream (I used whipping cream)
1 tsp glucose

1) Place the chocolate in a medium sized bowl.

2) Heat the cream and glucose in the microwave, checking every 20 seconds. Make sure cream doesn’t boil or it will split. Once hot, pour over the chocolate in two additions, stirring well after each. If chocolate won’t melt completely, place the medium bowl over another bowl of hot water and constantly stir until chocolate and cream has homogenized. Let cool completely.

To Frost:

Pipe a swirl of buttercream on the top of each cupcake before dolloping a heaping teaspoon of ganache over the top. Sprinkle with colourful nonpareils or nuts.


Filed under Cakes, Chocolate, Frostings, Recipes

Florentine Doughnuts with Vanilla Custard

…Or Bomboloni are Italian yeasted doughnuts. They are delicious.

Well, I’m sure they are far better made by a person who actually knows how this is suppose to taste like, but my own effort doesn’t look too off (I googled images of other people’s!!!)

I then realise that, similar to a cupcake, these little dough babies can be spruced up with a thick pastry cream topping or perhaps filled with fresh berry jam. I even saw one in a cupcake wrapper, topped with frosting and shards of toasted coconut. This is getting way too exciting for my socks.

But first, I need give myself a pat on the back for daring to work with yeast. It’s been a fear of mine but the thought of dipping fried doughnuts into custard got the better of me. Turns out, it’s not THAT SCARY. I think the gluten-free part might instill more fear. The images I looked at for reference seems fluffier, though some were similar looking to mine. Either way, I’ll keep working on making these fluffy (mine were slightly dense), and if anyone has a hint or two, please share! :) Please also note that I didn’t like the custard as much as I would like pastry cream so I’ll be serving that with these doughnuts from now on.

But I’ll definitely be making these again because bombolini is too cute a word to pass up.

Bombolini con Crema di Vaniglia (adapted from Dolce Italiano by Gina DePalma)

1/4 cup warm water
1 packet active dry yeast (not fast rising)
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp granulated sugar
1/4 cup +2 tbsp warm milk
2 1/2 cup sorghum flour blend*
3/4 cup GF Flour blend (available at supermarkets)
1 tsp xantham gum
pinch of salt
pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg (I didn’t use this)
2 large eggs
4 tbsp (1/2 stick) butter, softened
Oil, for frying
Icing sugar, for dusting
Vanilla Custard

1) Place the warm water in a small bowl and sprinkle the yeast over it. Add 1/2 tsp of sugar and stir to dissolve the yeast. Set the bowl aside and allow the yeast to proof until foamy about 4 minutes.

2) Place the sorghum flour mix and the GF flour blend, sugar, salt and spices in the bowl of a freestanding mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Make a well in the centre and add in the yeast mixture, warm milk and eggs. Beat on medium until a smooth dough forms. Add in the butter and beat until combined. Dough will be soft and somewhat elastic. Switch to a medium speed and mix for 2 minutes. Turn dough out into a grease bowl and allow dough to rise in a warm, draft-free spot, for 2 hours.

3) Gently deflate the dough by pulling it from the sides of the bowl. Now, Gina suggests rolling it out and cutting it with cutters but the dough seemed somewhat sticky so I shaped them into golf ball sized balls with floured hands instead. Allow them to proof on a baking sheet dusted with flour and cover them with plastic wrap. Meanwhile, heat the oil.

4) Heat about 4-6 cups of oil to 180°C. Fry the doughnuts in batches of 5-6 in the hot oil until very golden brown and cooked through. The first one is usually the guinea pig so cut open to see if it’s cooked on the inside.

5) Drain the doughnuts on paper towels and spinrkle with icing sugar while still warm.

Vanilla Cream

3/4 cup whole milk
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 vanilla bean
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup granulated sugar
6 large egg yolks
pinch of salt
1/2 tbsp cornstarch

1) Pour the milk and cream into a medium saucepan. Split vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape seeds with the blunt side of a small knife. Add to pan along with the bean and vanilla extract and 1/4 cup of the sugar.

2) In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks, remaining sugar, salt and cornstarch. When milk mixture comes to a boil, remove from heat and slowly pour into the egg yolk mixture, all the while stirring. Transfer custard back to saucepan and place over low heat. Keep whisking to prevent it from scorching. While it has thickened somewhat, remove from heat and strain it through a sieve. Place the bowl in a larger bowl of ice water to chill it, whisking occasionally as it cools.  Press a piece of plastic onto the surface of the custard to prevent a skin forming. Store in an airtight container until ready to serve.

*I used Carol Fenster’s Sorghum flour mix which you can find here.


Filed under Custard, Doughnuts, Recipes

Oatmeal, Chocolate & Peanut Butter Cake

Being jobless means you instantly start losing track of time. And weekends.

Which also means you don’t necessarily feel the thrill of a well-deserved Friday night because every day looks like a Friday to you. Don’t hate me. I brought cake to share!

Actually, I don’t quite like the weekends all that much since the shops get super crowded and I feel the need to be doing something. Wasting a weekend is a crime. And yet, if I say, woke up early on a Friday, baked a cake, even managed to frost it, met up with my cousin for lunch, shopped, walked and swam, perhaps I could get away with being a bum on Saturday. We’ll see how that works for me tomorrow.

Today’s cake is brought to you by an awesome blog, Bake or Break, who was inspired by the new cookbook Baked Explorations. It didn’t say to include the peanut butter chips but I figured it could no harm. The book states that the cake can be made without the cream cheese frosting but oh, if you insist, I’ll load on the cheese. It is imperative that the cake is frosted with the luscious cream cheese or half the intensity of the cake is lost.

Oatmeal, Chocolate Chip & Peanut Butter Cake

  • 4 ounces chocolate chips
  • 4 ounces peanut butter chips
  • 1/2 teaspoon liquor, such as bourbon or Scotch (I used Amaretto)
  • 1 & 1/2 cups + 2 Tablespoons GF flour blend
  • 1 cup GF rolled oats (Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into small cubes, at room temperature
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1  cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat oven to 170°. Butter the sides and bottom of a 9″x13″ baking pan.

Toss chocolate chips with liquor in a small bowl. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of flour over the chips and toss until coated. Set aside.

Heat 1 & 1/4 cups water to boiling. Place the oats and butter in a large bowl. Pour boiling water over oat mixture. Wait 30 seconds, then stir to moisten oats and melt the butter. Seat aside for 25-30 minutes.*

Whisk eggs, sugars, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon. Fold in oatmeal, stirring until well combined. Fold in remaining flour, and then stir in chocolate chips. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake 40-45 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 30 minutes.

*I didn’t wait the full 25 minutes and when the cake was baked, some of the oats seemed a little harder than the others. I advise you to stick with the timing specified. :)

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 5 & 1/2 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Beat butter until smooth. Add cream cheese and beat until combined. Beat in confectioners’ sugar and vanilla extract until smooth (about 1 minute). Cover bowl and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Spread a thin layer of frosting over cake. Chill for 15 minutes before serving.

Store covered cake in refrigerator for up to 3 days


Filed under Breakfast, Cakes, Chocolate, Frostings, Recipes

Chocolate Buttermilk Cake

People love having favourites especially when it comes to something they like. I like shoes; my current favourite is a pair of wedged suede shoes with a kick ass fringe. I like watching TV; my current favourite is NCIS.

And I love cake; my all-time favourite is chocolate cake. Maybe carrot cake too, and don’t forget strawberry cream cake.

If I get really bored, I add in a splash of Bailey’s to the frosting. Or whenever I feel the occasion calls for it.

Chocolate Buttermilk Cake adapted from Chocolate Chocolate by Lisa Yockelson

*This recipe has been halved to bake 2 x 5 inch layers

1 cup + 2 tbsp GF flour blend

1/2 tsp baking soda

pinch of salt

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup + 2 tbsp granulated sugar

1 + 1/2 egg (beat the 2nd egg in a bowl and divide into 2)

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 oz unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled to tepid

1/2 cup + 2 tbsp buttermilk, room temp

1) Preheat oven to 170°C. Grease and line 2 x 5 inch round baking tins

2) In a bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the eggs and sugar until thick and tripled in volume. Add in the oil in a steady stream while beating.

3) Whisk in the melted chocolate and vanilla.

4) Sift the flour blend, salt and baking soda. Add into the chocolate mixture until almost fully combined. Pour in the milk and whisk on high for 3 minutes. Divide evenly between pans and bake for 20-30 minutes. Start checking at the 20 minute mark. Skewer inserted should come out clean.

5) Remove from heat and let cool completely. Meanwhile make the frosting.

Chocolate Frosting (enough to frost the cake layers and sides)

1 1/2 cups icing sugar, sifted

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted

1 tsp vanilla extract

2-3 tbsp milk, room temperature

1/2 stick butter

1) In a bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, on a low speed, beat the icing sugar, melted chocolate, 2 tbsp of milk and vanilla until combined.

2) Gradually add in the chunks of butter and beat on low until it’s fluffy. Increase speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes. Add in the last tbsp of milk if frosting is too thick.


Filed under Cakes, Chocolate, Frostings, Recipes