Because Life is a blend of flavours…

Dark and White Chocolate Gypsy Cake

by Sugar et al

Responsibility is a such a big word. To some it means power…ownership to others…trust..possession and perhaps so much more to the rest. As the eldest of three children, the very first responsibility I was entrusted with was my baby sister. I was five something when she came. And to me that responsibility meant a metamorphosis. A slow but steady transformation of my entire being.

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As much as many would like to disbelieve today (yes, I talk a lot), I was a quiet and introvert-ish child. Perhaps the only conversations I would have were with my dolls, blankets and pillow. I would refuse to go to anybody or play with other children and hide behind the comfort of my mother’s back when I spotted another human being. Being a mother myself today, I can only imagine what a stress I might have been to my parents. Then came the little girl, cooing and gurgling into my world. At times I hated her for taking away the attention of my parents but unable to resist her charm as she stuck out her little fingers every time I went near her and returning my cold stares with her toothless grin. As I grew to love her, confide in her..I found myself being so utterly protective of my sister. That remains even today. With her arrival, I found my voice..I learnt to share..to open up and the world became a happier place for me. We grew closer, bonded like only sisters would and shared a friendship that was comparable to none other. We still do.

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The little sister of mine celebrates her birthday today. Miles away but she knows I will be baking a cake for her. She wanted ‘a chocolate cake with a lovely topping…walnuts, almonds, orange’. But instead of a topping, I made a bunting filled with things she loves..frills, shiny ribbons, bold, bright blues. When my husband walked in from work in the evening..he took a good look at it and said ‘it’s got a gypsy-like appearance’. So the cake got a name.

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The cake is a devil’s food cake with layers of white chocolate ganache sandwiched between the cake and covered in a combination of dark and milk chocolate ganache. The white chocolate ganache has been tinted blue to go with the bunting. Basically, this is a gorgeous celebration of chocolate. I baked the layers in three 7 inch pans. Not very difficult to make because you can reduce the number of layers or make one cake and split it into layers. The dark and white chocolate ganache don’t require a lot of effort and you can go as fancy or as simple as you want with covering the cake with frosting. I’ve used a combination of dark and milk chocolate as my little boys are yet to enjoy the bittersweet flavour of dark chocolate. You can use dark chocolate alone, if that suits you. If you are concerned about the presence of mayonnaise in the cake, I was too but you don’t taste it at all. Instead it adds a richness and moisture to the batter. The bunting is a great way of sprucing up a simple cake and giving it a celebratory appearance and you can certainly go crazy with colours and prints.

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As you can see, I had to cut the cake and eat it myself, thinking of my sister all the way. The cake will go but the frills will remain. At least I will know I have a part of the cake specially reserved for her. Till we meet. And the good news is.. that day is not far.

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Dark and White Chocolate Gypsy Cake (adapted from Sweetapolita which in turn has been adapted from Fine Cooking)
Serves 8-10

For the Cake:
3/4 cup (170 g) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups (460 g) packed dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
3 eggs, at room temperature
1-3/4 cups (220 g) all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (90 g) unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1-1/4 teaspoon (7 g) baking soda
1 teaspoon (5 g) baking powder
1 teaspoon (10 g) kosher salt
1-1/2 cup (360 ml) buttermilk, at room temperature
1/4 cup (59 ml) mayonnaise

For the White Chocolate Ganache

250 g good quality white chocolate, finely chopped
150 ml thickened or heavy cream
Blue Food Colouring (optional)(I used a gel based food colour)

For the Dark Chocolate Ganache

300 g dark chocolate, finely chopped
100 g milk chocolate, finely chopped (can be left out if using dark chocolate only)
300 ml thickened or heavy cream

To make the Cake: Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.  Butter three 7-inch round cake pans, line with parchment rounds, and dust with flour, tapping out the excess.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, brown sugar and vanilla on medium-high speed until lighter in color and slightly increased in volume, about 5 minutes. Lower the speed to medium and add the eggs, one at a time, mixing until each is fully incorporated before adding the next.

Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and baking powder into a medium bowl. Add the salt to the dry ingredients after sifting, and whisk dry ingredients.

Alternate dry ingredients and buttermilk into creamed mixture, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Mix until just incorporated, or finish by hand gently. Fold mayonnaise into batter with a whisk, until just blended.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. If possible, weigh the batter in each cake pan for a uniform weight. This ensures even layers. Smooth with small offset palette knife, and bake for about 30 minutes, rotating once after 20 minutes. Cake is done when toothpick or skewer comes barely clean. Try not to over-bake.

Let pans cool on wire rack for 20 minutes, then invert cakes onto racks, gently, peeling away parchment rounds. Let cool completely. Cake can be baked the night before and stored in an airtight container overnight before assembly

To make the White Chocolate Ganache: Place chocolate in a large mixing bowl. Heat cream over low-medium heat in saucepan until just boiling, pour over cream and set aside for 5 minutes. Use a whisk to combine mixture until smooth. Add food Colouring if using, little at a time till the desired shade is reached.

To make the Dark Chocolate Ganache: Place chocolate in a large mixing bowl. Heat cream over low-medium heat in a saucepan until just boiling, pour over cream and set aside for 5 minutes. Use a whisk to combine mixture until smooth. Chill until it thickens and just holds
its shape but is still pourable.

Assembly: I find it best to chill the cakes before frosting. Place one layer of chocolate cake on your cake stand and cover with white chocolate ganache.
Sandwich second layer on top and repeat. Using a spatula, spread the dark chocolate ganache over the outside of the cake. Chill cake before serving. Remove from refrigerator at least 30 minutes before serving.


Banana Poppy Seed Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

by Sugar et al

If this banana cake is looking anything different to you than…well, a banana cake, let me assure you this is the same one, you and me bake in a loaf pan and slice up for breakfast or bake into muffins to put into your lunchboxes. Yeah, the same one that transforms the fate of overripe bananas and they end up with some dessert love (a lot of love in my house) than entering the dustbin.

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I started out the usual, predictable way. Ignoring the bananas while they turned black and made the cupboard smell serving as a reminder each time I opened the door that it was time to use them up. I put the batter together intending to bake it in my loaf tin. But the loaf tin was nowhere in sight. And that was because it was sitting in the freezer with a semifreddo I made a few days back. I didn’t want muffins so the batter landed up in a cake pan.

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You know I have a weakness for round cakey objects. I feel the urge to spice it up or add nuts or anything that would go with the cake.And frost and decorate and just do something to it. So, before it hit the cake pan I added some poppy seeds to the batter. I frosted it with a quick cream cheese frosting which I’ve been meaning to try out in a while. This one uses whipped cream instead of butter along with the cream cheese so it is lighter and naturally uses far less sugar to get a piping consistency. The frosting can be easily spread on top of the cake if you are not comfortable with piping bags. A drizzle of caramel sauce (store bought) finished the cake. Both the recipe for the cake and the frosting have been separately adapted with some variation from Joy Of Baking

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The flavours are lovely together. I was amazed how good the poppy seeds tasted in a banana cake. I think this is by the far the easiest cakes I have made despite having a dressed up look.

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Banana Poppy Seed Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Serves 6-8

For the Banana Poppy Seed Cake
13/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup castor sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp. poppy seeds
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup (113 g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 large ripe bananas, mashed with a fork
1 tsp vanilla essence
Cream Cheese Frosting, to frost
3-4 tbsp. thick caramel sauce, to drizzle (I used store bought)

For the Cream Cheese Frosting
125g cream cheese, room temparature
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup icing sugar, sifted
1/3 cup cold whipping cream or heavy cream.

Preheat oven to 180 degree C. Grease and line the base of a 19 cm round cake tin with baking paper.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and poppy seeds.
In a medium sized bowl combine the mashed banana, eggs, melted butter and vanilla with a wooden spoon. Lightly fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients just until combined. Take care not to over mix the batter or it might result in a rubbery cake. Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin and bake for about 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre come out clean.

Remove the cake from the oven and keep aside for 5 minutes. Carefully turn the cake onto a wire rack and cool till room temperature. Once cooled, pipe or dollop cream cheese frosting onto the cake. Drizzle with caramel sauce.

To make the cream cheese frosting: In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese  until smooth. Add the vanilla and confectioners sugar and beat until smooth. Gradually add the heavy cream and whip until the frosting is thick enough to pipe. Add more sugar or cream as needed to get the right consistency. In case you are using a brand of heavy cream that does not whip easily, then whip the cream separately to stiff peaks and fold it gradually into the cream cheese mixture. Refrigerate till needed.

 


Chocolate Fudge Cake with Red Berry Ganache

by Sugar et al

I experience a unique thrill when I am posting a cake. More than satisfaction…more than excitement. Some kind of inexplicable joy. Right from the planning…the cake pans…dressing the cake, the props that will go alongside…the mood…the post processing to actually eating the cake. It’s almost like painting a picture. I finish with one and before that I am thinking about the next one.

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When I made the Chocolate Raspberry Brownie Cake, I remember telling myself that there wasn’t going to be a red-brown combo my blog for a while. I was worried I was giving you an overdose of chocolate and raspberries in my posts. I even resisted the urge of pouring luscious chocolate ganache over the brownie cake. And maybe that’s why I had good reason to post a sauce dripping chocolate cake this time.

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This a fudge cake therefore it is rich. The sweet berry ganache pairs well with the bittersweet fudgy cake. Pink is such a beautiful colour . And the sprinkles make it shine. Overall, this is quite simple to make with a great outcome. The texture is great for a bundt cake pan as it holds shape well.

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Chocolate Fudge Cake with Red Berry Ganache
Serves 6-8

Chocolate Fudge Cake (adapted with variation from Taste.com)
250g butter, chopped
200g dark chocolate, chopped
1 cup castor sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder, sifted
2 cups, cold water
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups plain flour, sifted
1 cup self-raising flour, sifted
Fresh Strawberries and Raspberries, to decorate
Pink Sprinkles, to decorate

Red Berry Ganache
10-12 Strawberries and/or Raspberries (I used a mix), cleaned and hulled (fresh or frozen)
100 g white chocolate, roughly chopped
1/3 cup thickened or heavy cream
2-3 drops of pink food colouring (optional)

Preheat oven to 160 degrees C. Lightly grease a 20 cm bundt cake pan.

Place butter, chocolate, sugar, cocoa and 2 cups cold water in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, for 8 to 10 minutes or until melted and smooth (do not boil). Remove from heat. Cool for 20 minutes.

Add eggs. Whisk to combine. Add plain flour and self-raising flour. Whisk until smooth. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until a skewer inserted in cake comes out clean. Cool in pan for 20 minutes. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the ganache: Puree and strain the berry mixture to discard seeds. Combine chocolate and cream in a heatproof bowl and place over a saucepan of simmering water (don’t let the bottom of the bowl touch the water). When chocolate is about halfway melted, remove bowl from pan. Stand, stirring occasionally, until chocolate has melted and mixture is smooth. Add the strained berry puree and stir till well blended. Add food colouring if using. Cool for 10 minutes and pour over the cake. Ganache will thicken and set on cooling. Top with fresh berries and decorate with sprinkles.

 


Blueberry Pistachio Crumble Cake

by Sugar et al

I’ve been a bit under the weather. I don’t enjoy being tied down to the bed so it was not the best of times for me. I love standing on my two feet even if it means standing long hours without a break so this was a kind of situation-imposed rest from which I was desperate to recover. Not being able to bake or photograph or shop for ingredients can affect me in a big way and I was really looking forward to some baking action.
Finally I did. After a whole week.

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As it turns out, this is my 100th post. I’ve been slow that way. Taking a little over a year to reach here while also enjoying every bit of this journey. So it goes without saying that this had to be a cake post. I would have loved to do a fancy one with a few candles but honestly I didn’t have the stamina to do so. This crumble cake has been on my mind since months…I wanted to use pistachios in a crumble cake and I had pictured this rustic blue-green pairing so clearly in my mind that I could hardly wait for the cake to finish baking. I was almost certain the cake would look the way it did.

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This is the kind of cake I enjoy baking and eating. Simple yet satisfying. There’s something so gorgeous about a crumble cake. Especially if the base is as moist and soft as this one. So many textures with each mouthful…almost like eating a cake and cookie together. And juicy blueberries tying the two layers together.
I blitzed the pistachios in the food processor in a way so as to keep a mix of finely ground as well as coarser crumbs in the crumble. They taste and look better. Any other nut would work just as well. Or any other berry in the cake.

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Blueberry Pistachio Crumble Cake
Serves 10-12

Melted butter, to grease
200g butter, room temperature
3/4 cup castor sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
2 eggs, room temperature
1 cup self-raising flour
1 cup plain flour
3/4 cup milk
200g blueberries fresh or frozen (I used fresh)

Crumble Topping
1/2 cup plain flour
50 g butter, chilled and chopped into cubes
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup pistachios, skinned and ground to a coarse powder in the food processor

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Brush a round 20 cm spring form pan with melted butter to lightly grease. Line the base with non-stick baking paper. Place the prepared pan on a baking tray.

Using an electric mixer or with a hand mixer, beat the butter, sugar and vanilla until pale and creamy. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Use a large metal spoon to fold in the combined flour and the milk until well combined.

Spoon into the prepared pan. Use the back of the spoon to smooth the surface. Arrange the blueberries on the top.

To make the crumble topping, place all the ingredients in a bowl. Use your fingertips to rub the butter into the mixture until the mixture contains large and small crumbs.

Sprinkle the crumble topping over the blueberry layer. Bake in oven for 1 hour 10 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Set aside in the pan for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool slightly. Serve cake warm or at room temperature


Ferrero Rocher Mousse Cake

by Sugar et al

Talking about blogger perspective, do you know what I love about Chocolate? That it is not seasonal. When you are a blogger you tend to keep track of what is seasonal, what your readers come to you for, what is trending on Pinterest and so on. Basically the bottom line is that I am completely in denial of the fact that we have left summer behind.

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When I walk into the fruit market I am not too happy with the sight of berries, plums, peaches and nectarines being replaced with Persimmons, Guavas and Pomegranates. I like them too but nothing like berries and stone fruits. In fact the last of the summer fruits are still available but naturally at a higher price. So till I begin to take interest in autumnal produce I am finding comfort in the safe and faithful hands of chocolate. If you are on the other side of the world, I know you are smiling as you read this…in anticipation of what lies ahead of you (the glory of spring and summer) in the forthcoming months. Lucky you! But you are certainly not deserting me because I have a few summery recipes reserved for you in my folders. See what I mean by blogger perspective!

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Back to the cake, it is an easy eggless cake to put together. Chocolate, cream and the star in the recipe. The base is a plain chocolate cookie crust. The swirls as you can see are dark chocolate ganache topped with a Ferrero Rocher. There are crushed Ferrero Rocher chocolates inside the mousse which is the only difficulty I had to deal with. I filled up a plastic bag with the chocolates and smashed them with a rolling-pin. The teeny bit of liquid chocolate inside the candies made it sticky inside the plastic bag and I had to do a few folds with the mouse mixture to distribute them. Which spoiled the textural element I was after (look wise). But the taste is yet amazing with crunchy bits of Ferrero Rocher hiding within creamy chocolate mousse. It is a rich cake so small portions are good enough.

I wanted a taller cake so I used a 19 cm springform pan. A larger pan can be used but the resulting cake will be lower in height.

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Ferrero Rocher Mousse Cake
Serves 10-12

For the Mousse Cake
220g plain chocolate cookies
75g butter, melted
3 teaspoons gelatine powder
600 ml thickened or heavy cream
300 g dark chocolate
100 g milk chocolate
10 Ferrero Rocher chocolates, crushed in a plastic bag with a rolling-pin
6 Ferrero Rocher chocolates, to decorate
cocoa, to dust

For the whipped chocolate Ganache
150 g dark chocolate
1/2 cup thickened or heavy cream

Grease a 19 cm round Springform pan. Line the base and sides with baking paper. Place the cookies in a food processor. Process until fine crumbs. Add melted butter and mix to combine. Using your fingertips, press biscuit mixture over base of prepared pan. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or until firm.

Place both the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Stir until melted then cool to room temperature. Meanwhile,  bring 1/4 cup cream to a simmer in a saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat. Soak gelatine in 2 tbsp. cold water for 3-4 minutes or until soft. Add to hot cream and stir until dissolved. Cool to room temperature. Using an electric mixer, whisk remaining cream to stiff peaks. Working quickly, add chocolate and gelatine mixture to cream and whisk for 1-2 seconds or until chocolate is 1/2 incorporated. Using a spatula, gently finish folding in. Add the crushed Ferrero Rocher chocolates and gradually fold into the mousse.

Spoon over the base of the cookie mixture. Smooth out the surface with a palette knife or the back of a spoon. Cover. Refrigerate for 4 hours or until set. Lightly dust with cocoa powder. Fill up a piping bag with a large star nozzle and pipe ganache around the cake. Top with Ferrero Rocher Chocolates.

To make the whipped ganache: Place chocolate pieces in a large bowl. Heat heavy cream on medium high until it comes to a boil.  Remove from heat and immediately pour cream over chocolate and stir until completely mixed and glossy. Allow the ganache to cool completely and whip to a stiff consistency.

 

 


Pomegranate Tabouli Salad

by Sugar et al

A salad that does not look like a salad. Trust me, it works for people like me who believe in checking the buffet menus backwards in a restaurant. The space and calories in my case, are reserved for the sweeter things in life. Having said that, this is a great salad bursting with flavour, nutrition and natural sweetness from the pomegranate seeds. Not to mention, the colour!

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This Middle Eastern inspired salad is light, refreshing, filling and most importantly easy to make. As with most salads there is plenty of room for creativity and variation. Burghul wheat is a great form of whole wheat that has already been cleaned, parboiled, dried and is ready to use. It does not need cooking, just softening in the recipe. The pomegranate shells make for a colourful container to hold the salad while also taking care of portion sizes. The little grains of burghul wheat also help to soak up some of the pomegranate juice that remains in the pomegranate skin after the seeds are taken out.

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Burghul wheat (also known as bulgur, bulghur) is available in the health section of supermarkets or in health stores. The salad is great on its own or a perfect side to meat dishes. If you are planning to make it ahead (by a few hours), store it in the refrigerator and spoon into shells just before serving.

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Pomegranate Tabouli Salad
Serves 8

4 pomegranates halved and seeds removed, 1 cup seeds reserved for the salad
(1/2 cup) burghul
(3/4 cup) boiling water
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
3/4 cup chopped fresh mint
3/4 cup tomatoes, finely chopped (I used yellow tomatoes)
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. fresh lime juice

Place the burghul in a large heatproof bowl. Add the boiling water and set aside for 10 minutes to soak. Drain.

Add the tomatoes, parsley, mint, pomegranate seeds, oil and lime juice. Season with salt and pepper. Mix until well combined. Spoon into pomegranate shells. Serve

 

 

 

 

 

 


Peanut Butter White Chocolate and Raspberry Cake

by Sugar et al

Peanut Butter and me haven’t been friends for long. Weird…I know! We are still getting to know each other. It’s a bit early to say whether its going to turn into a serious love affair but for now I am happy to have it for breakfast. Not on toast…in cakes! Anything that goes down well in a cake ranks high in my eyes. And yes, I can eat cake for breakfast!

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This is light, moist cake with a subtle taste of peanut butter spiked with the occasional bite of white chocolate chips and raspberries. The last two and me are best friends so its one merry party…this cake! I used this recipe from BBC GoodFood as a base recipe for the peanut butter cake and made a few additions to it. The recipe used yoghurt which tends to leave a sour after taste in cakes in my opinion so I replaced it with sour cream. The cake as a whole is not too sweet so the white chocolate chips are a welcome addition. And raspberries add a little tartness that goes well with the rest of the cake.

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The cake is a quick, one bowl process that comes together in minutes. If you like peanut butter, you can probably increase the quantity by a couple of more teaspoons.

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Peanut Butter White Chocolate and Raspberry Cake
Serves 8-10

200g butter
4 tbsp smooth peanut butter
4 large eggs
1 cup castor sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
2 cups self-raising flour
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup frozen or fresh raspberries
1/4 cup roasted peanuts for the top (optional)

Preheat oven to 170 degrees C. Grease a 22 cm round cake tin and line the base with baking paper.

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter, peanut butter, eggs, sugar and sour cream together until smooth and creamy. Fold in the flour and 3/4 of the white chocolate chips. Then carefully fold in the raspberries.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Top with remaining chocolate chips and peanuts (if using). Bake for 45-50 mins or until risen and golden.


Irish Cream Layered Pavlova

by Sugar et al

There is something magical about egg whites. They can transform from a tiny fluid into something magnificent. Capable of existing in different textures, there are innumerable ways in which they can be used. They have the ability to create cakes and baked treats without the presence of fat or even flour. As for me, I can completely lose myself to those clouds of white puff whenever I am working with egg whites.

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I am a self confessed meringue maniac! I enjoy watching the process as they whip up….as they peak, as they create swirls and patterns with the beaters..as they burn in the most fabulous way when you torch them.  I playfully stick my finger in the mixture several times and love the way a tiny peak curls down and then eventually holds up. Seriously, with a bowl of freshly whipped egg whites I feel sort of empowered. To give shape and structure to the desserts of my imagination.

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I have a fair collection of meringue recipes in my blog but it hit me hard when I realised I don’t have the Pavlova. Pavlovas, big and small are made at my place like cookies at a baker’s home. Also taking pride in the fact that I belong to the land of the Pavlova. There are thousands of recipes and variations of this dessert all over the globe so I wanted to make something different…a different flavour profile and layers instead of the dome shaped dessert. With St Patrick’s Day round the corner and recipes circulating around the theme, it wasn’t difficult to imagine my Pavlova.

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This dessert is actually easier than it looks. Deceptively simple with a few ingredients. The layers of meringue can be made by tracing circles on a baking paper using it as a guide to shape the meringue or inside a cake pan (which I find tricky). However, I find it easier to use the back of a cake pan (upside down). I trace out circles with the baking pans, then cut out rounds to fit the back of the pan (leaving a slight overhang). Then, I pipe or spoon the meringue over the prepared pans. That way they always remain in shape within the circle and are easier to take out.
Bailey’s Irish Cream is available pretty much everywhere today. If you are making it for a different occasion, you can experiment with Kahlua in the cream with a coffee flavoured meringue. Or for that matter any other liquor. To compliment the sweetness of the meringue and the cream, I’ve added a hint of cinnamon to the meringue. They smells amazing together.
The little flag toppers were a last minute addition while photographing the cake. I made them out of the brown cupcake liners I used for my Banana Coconut Chocolate Chip Muffins, bamboo skewers and glue. They took me less than 2 minutes but add great height to the cake and make it look celebratory.

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Irish Cream Layered Pavlova
Serves 6-8

11/2 cups castor sugar
11/2 teaspoons cornflour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
5 large egg whites (or 6 regular egg whites)
400 ml thickened or heavy cream
1/4 cup icing sugar
4 tablespoons Baileys Irish Cream
Cocoa powder, to dust

Preheat oven to 140 degrees C. Line the back of three 18 cm cake pans (upside down) with baking paper, or lay three 18 cm rounds of baking paper on baking trays.

Combine sugar, cornflour and cinnamon in a bowl.

Using electric beaters, whisk the egg whites in a clean, dry bowl until firm peaks form. Gradually add the sugar mixture, 1 tablespoonful at a time, until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is thick, glossy and holds stiff peaks. Divide among pans or trays and spread over bases. Bake for 1 hour, then leave to cool in switched-off oven for 1 hour. Remove from oven and cool completely.

Whip cream, icing sugar and Baileys to stiff peaks. Place 1 layer of meringue on a cake stand and pipe (or dollop) 1/3rd of the cream. (I used a large open star tip to pipe the cream). Dust with cocoa powder. Continue layering with the remaining meringue discs, cream and cocoa powder, finishing with the cream mixture. Dust generously with cocoa or shaved chocolate or drizzle with chocolate sauce.  Serve immediately. The finished cake can be stored in the refrigerator for a few hours but the meringue tends to lose its texture gradually. If you are making it ahead of time, its best to assemble the cake before serving.


Fig Clafoutis

by Sugar et al

I have been so busy this month that I hardly noticed that we have officially stepped into Autumn in Australia. The last I remember was longing for Summer, wanting to gorge in its bounty, planning so many stone fruit recipes. It came and went. Leaving me discontented like every year that I couldn’t do enough justice during its presence.

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This recipe is like the fleeting summer in my mind. It comes together…just like that. You have a dessert as an outcome of some quick mixing and stirring. And that is what I love about a Clafoutis. Somewhere between the consistency of a cake and a custard, this sweet treat just so fits the bill when you want to whip up something quick and fruit based.

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Figs make a late summer appearance in our fruit markets and stay on till the first few weeks of Autumn. So this makes a great transitional dessert for us. It is best served warm with some whipped cream or ice cream on the side. Figs can be replaced with any fruit of your choice…peaches, nectarines, plums or more popularly, cherries and blueberries.

Fig Clafoutis
Serves 3-4

7-8 ripe figs, quartered
1/2 cup whipping cream
3 eggs
4 tbsp. castor sugar
1/2 cup plain flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
icing sugar, to dust (optional)
whipped cream, to serve

Preheat oven to 200 degrees C.
Lightly grease a 3 cup capacity oven proof dish. Place the figs over the pan of the baking dish (skin side down).

Place the cream, eggs, sugar, flour and vanilla in a large bowl and whisk to form a smooth batter. Pour the batter over the figs and bake for 30 minutes or until the top is slightly puffed up and golden brown. If you prefer a more custard like consistency, bake for 25 minutes and then switch over to the grill mode to get a brown crust over the top.

Cool slightly and dust with icing sugar. Serve warm with whipped cream.

 

 

 


Apple Blueberry Muffins

by Sugar et al

A couple of Saturday’s back, I woke up with the widest smile on my face. It was time for the reunion. At last! A moment I had looked forward to since weeks. The call had come two days before. She was ready. And waiting!

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Our apple tree!

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At this stage, I need to take you back to a favourite little post I had done to share my excitement on adopting this apple tree. Time flies! It was almost a year back and with the first signs of Autumn in the air, we knew it was time to re-visit the orchard.

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It was a rainy weekend. The ground was wet and the sun was missed. Yet it was a pleasure walking through the rows of red and yellow…surreal, indulging, inviting. Our tree like all the others was laden with sweet red juicy apples…almost sparkling from the rain wash they just received. They were picked in no time.

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We’ve had two full weeks of apple eating but we are still nowhere close to finishing our pick. Neither are we tired of them. Galettes, crumbles, cake, soup and muffins are some of the ways we used them. Yes, there will be more apple recipes and photographs to share with you.

These muffins are quite fluffy and light on account of the buttermilk used in the recipe. Blueberries pair well with apples and a mouthful of these muffins will have you tasting different textures. I have used royal gala apples that are quite sweet. Both fresh and frozen blueberries can be used.

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Apple Blueberry Muffins
Makes 12 muffins

2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup Castor sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 apples peeled, cored and finely chopped
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries (I used frozen)
1 large egg, lighly beaten
1 cup buttermilk
125 g unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 190 degrees C.
Lightly grease a muffin tray or line with paper liners.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, apples and blueberries.

In another bowl, mix together the egg, buttermilk, butter and vanilla extract. Gradually fold in the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients with a spatula, taking care not to over mix the batter.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan (about 2/3rd full for each muffin) equally. Place in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the centre should come out clean. Transfer to a wire rack and cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan.

 

 


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