caramel oat slice

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This has got to be one of the most delicious baked slices I have ever tasted! You can kid yourself into thinking it is healthy because it has rolled oats in it (oats are a superfood you know!) but the truth is, it really should be served with a defibrillator on standby.

I was given a copy of the Jo Seagar book “It’s easier than you think” for Christmas a couple of years ago and this recipe caught my eye immediately.  I think it had something to do with the gooey caramel layer in the centre. Anything with a visible layer gooey caramel gets the thumbs up from me!

I tweaked the recipe a bit, using the dulce de leche I have in the pantry rather than making the caramel as per Jo’s method (see below) which made the recipe even simpler than the original, but no less delicious, and probably no more healthy… but as a treat for special occasions (e.g. any day ending in Y), it’s perfect.

Get those ingredients ready! You will need…

2 cups plain flour
1 cup self-raising flour
1 cup desiccated coconut
2 cups brown sugar
3 cups rolled oats
2 eggs
300g butter
2 cans dulce de leche
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Grease and line a 25 x 35 cm slice tin with baking paper.

Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. It really does have to be large. There are 9 cups of dry ingredients in that list.Yes… NINE! Then add the beaten eggs and melted butter and mix well. Press two-thirds of the mixture into the prepared tin.

Open two cans of dulce de leche and spread over the base. Add the chocolate chips to the remaining crumbly mixture and sprinkle over the sweet caramel layer.

Bake for 30 minutes.

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Jo recommends you let it cool in the tin and refrigerate a few hours or until the next day before cutting it. Good luck with that! I swear, nothing I bake is ever allowed to cool properly before cutting. Unless I bake at 9am when the rest of the household are at school or work. And to tell the truth, it really is even more delicious when still warm… but then, most baking is, right?

Enjoy!

(If you don’t have any ready-made dulce de leche on hand, you can make the caramel layer as follows. Melt 400g butter, 2 x 400 cans sweetened condensed milk and 4 tablespoons golden syrup together. Mix well and add 1 teaspoon vanilla. )

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grape sorbet

Sounds fancy, but it could possibly be the easiest recipe I ever put on this website.

Only one ingredient, and one step. Actually, with only ingredient it can hardly be called a ‘recipe’ can it? But here it is anyway.

Take some seedless grapes, any quantity, and freeze them. When you take them out of the freezer, wait 10 minutes for them to soften a little and develop that lovely sorbet texture. Then they are ready to devour!

Add them to dessert, put a few in a glass of wine to keep it cold on a hot day or just munch them as a snack.

Delicious! I am having a few right now…

 

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Enjoy!

in the pink

Today I made a cake. You may not think that is unusual for me given past posts on this ‘ole blog of mine, but in recent months I have not ventured into the baking zone very often. Today though, I had the urge to create something pretty. And tasty. There was also the realisation that my mother’s 70th birthday is looming and I needed to test a couple of recipes before I inflict them on her party guests!

Also, Mr INTJ’s daughter turns 16 on my mother’s birthday and I have been informed cake will be required for that occasion too. So it’s time to get back in the kitchen.

Today’s efforts have produced this little beauty. Isn’t it gorgeous?

 

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It’s a double layer vanilla cake, sandwiched with Lemon & Passionfruit Patisserie Filling from Barkers and generously coated in Swiss Meringue Buttercream.

 

And then I added some sprinkles.

 

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Because sprinkles make me happy.

And I may, or may not, have sprinkled a little pink sugar on it as well.

It’s almost too pretty to cut!

 

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I said almost!

 

Now, down to the nitty-gritty. Although I have a lot of recipes, I still needed to find a good all-rounder birthday cake that wasn’t chocolate so I decided to try this one from Smitten Kitchen. Now, if you look at recipes from USA they often list ‘cake flour’ as one of the ingredients. I’ve looked in every supermarket I have been to for cake flour and never found it. But not to worry. Joy the Baker comes to the rescue and explains how to make it yourself here.

The Lemon and Passionfruit filling was easy – it’s a store bought one from Barkers that I have been eyeing up for months. When I went to get some yesterday it was on special (yay!) but unfortunately it appears Barkers may be deleting it from their range as the links on their website no longer work. I hope I am wrong as it is delicious and so much easier than making passionfruit curd from scratch.

And the Swiss Meringue Buttercream… ahhhh. It’s soft, and light, and fluffy, and not overly sweet like regular buttercream. I had been avoiding trying to make it for years thinking it was doomed to fail – I had read about people giving up because it just turned into a curdled mess. But apparently the secret it to whip it. Whip it good! And it comes back together beautifully. Mine seemed to just work without the curdled stage. Thank goodness for my Kenwood mixer! Anyway, the recipe is here – again from Smitten Kitchen.

Now that the taste testing has been completed, I can confirm today’s efforts have been a success and I will be making this again. And again.

And again.

dulce de leche

dulce de leche

Dulce de leche is a sweet caramel which is popular in South America. Literally translated it means “candy of milk” and is prepared by slowly heating and stirring sweetened milk until much of the milk liquid evaporates and the mixture caramelizes. This can be a long process and we all have better things to do than stand at the stove stirring constantly for an hour or more.

But there is an easier way, and you only need one ingredient – sweetened condensed milk.

Actually, there is another ingredient. And that is time. But fear not, you do not have to stand for hours over a hot stove! You can get on with other things while the magic happens.

As this is a slow process I tend to make a few cans at a time. That way, any that are not required immediately can just go back into the pantry until they are required. Or until they are discovered by marauding teenagers.

It’s as easy as this. Place as many cans of sweetened condensed milk as will fit in the base of a large saucepan. Cover with hot water and bring to the boil, then reduce heat so the water is simmering slowly.

Leave for 2.5 to 3 hours, checking regularly to ensure the cans remain completely covered with water as allowing the pot to boil dry could result in the cans overheating and exploding. This has not happened to me but I imagine it would not be a good thing!

The length of time left simmering determines how runny the end product will be. For a runny caramel sauce, one and a half to two hours should be sufficient. For a very thick spread, up to 4 hours. When the desired time has elapsed, take the pot off the heat, carefully pour the water off, dry the cans and place them in secure storage away from marauding teenagers.

It can be used anywhere a sweet caramel sauce is required. Warmed up and poured over ice cream, as the caramel in banoffie pie, as a filling in caramel muffins or just eaten off a spoon… apparently. Not that I would know anything about such behaviour!

lime, poppy and pineapple syrup cake

I am a bit ‘over’ chocolate at the moment. Even my kids are. The scrummy Chocolate slice that usually disappears within a day or two of making it has lasted four days in the fridge so far – and there is still over half of it left. Very strange indeed.

When I saw this recipe on ‘Food In A Minute’ (watch it here) it instantly grabbed my attention. Tropical fruity flavours are very refreshing after chocolate overload. And no frosting either – again, with all my experimenting in the kitchen we are a bit over frosting too.

The USB cable for my camera is AWOL so I cant post a photo, but mine actually looks just like the one on FIAM website. TRUELY!!!

So here we go. You will need…

125g softened butter
½ cup caster sugar
¼ cup lime marmalade
2 eggs, beaten
1 ½ cups self raising flour
½ cup pineapple juice
2-3 tbsp poppy seeds

Syrup
½ cup pineapple juice
½ cup caster sugar

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Grease and line a 20 cm round tin.

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and marmalade.

Fold in sifted flour alternately with pineapple juice. Lastly stir through poppy seeds.

Spread mixture in cake tin and bake for 40 – 50 minutes.

For the syrup place pineapple juice and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to the boil, simmering for two minutes.

The original recipe said to pour hot syrup over the cake straight out of the oven while it is still in the tin then remove from tin when cool. However I didn’t read the recipe and took cake out of tin straight from the oven, put it on a plate and stabbed it all over with a toothpick before pouring the syrup over the top. And it was still good!

Mainly I did that so I could have a slice while it was still warm.

I have no patience.

Happy Baking :)

raspberry and white chocolate bread and butter pudding

A sophisticated version of a homely favourite. Can be made as one pudding in a larger dish, but it is more special made in individual ramekins. Great after a family meal or dinner party. One of my personal favourites.

1 loaf white unsliced day-old bread
About 2 tablespoons softened butter
About 1 cup raspberry jam
1/2 cup white chocolate drops
2 eggs
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup milk
1 cup cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cut bread into slices about 1.5cm thick and remove crusts. Butter one side of each slice. Place 1 slice, butter side down in the base of 6 ramekins, cutting it to fit. Spread over 1 heaped teaspoon of jam and sprinkle with chocolate drops. Repeat layers.

Cut remaining bread into cubes and place on top. Beat eggs and sugar together then add milk, cream and vanilla. Pour mixture over puddings and leave to settle for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 170C. Place puddings in a large roasting pan and add boiling water to come half way up sides of the ramekins. Bake until puddings are golden and set, 30-40 minutes. Leave in water bath until cool, or serve hot. Dust with icing sugar and add a dollop of jam and cream.

Enjoy!

chocolate mudcake

I have never been a huge fan of cake. When choosing a sweet dish I would select fruit pies, puddings, slices, ice cream and pavlova ahead of cake (but not all at once!). Lately though I have been giving cake another chance, making more of them, and ordering cake desserts when we are dining out.

Chocolate Mud cake is a must have! A good mud cake is moist and very chocolatey! Slightly warm and served with a dollop of whipped cream… oh heaven! I have been making this recipe for two years now. Every family birthday I get the same request. “Mud cake pleeease!!!!!”

And since I am such a kind generous person I will share this recipe with you.

I’m nice like that.

 

So here it is. You will need:

1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

1 cup milk

1/2 cup oil

250g dark chocolate

1 cup hot strong coffee

2 cups flour

2 tsp Baking Soda

1 tsp Baking Powder

1 cup Sugar

1/2 cup cocoa

2 eggs

Preheat oven to 180 C. Line the base of a 22cm springform tin with non stick baking paper and spray with non stick baking spray.

Mix the lemon juice with the milk and set aside to sour the milk.

Place oil, chocolate and coffee in a small saucepan and heat gently, stirring often until chocolate melted and the mixture is smooth. Cool.

In a large bowl, mix the sifted flour, baking powder, baking soda and cocoa with sugar.

Mix the eggs with the soured milk, then mix into the cooled chocolate mixture. Pour into the dry ingredients and whisk until smooth.

Place into the prepared tin and bake for one hour. When tested with a skewer fudgy  crumbs will adhere to the skewer. This is the desirable mud cake texture.

Cool for 15 minutes in tin and then turn onto wire rack to cool completely. Split the cake in half and fill the centre with the ganache frosting (I sometimes spread some boysenberry jam on the bottom layer and then the ganache). Replace the top layer and completely cover the cake with the remaining frosting. It will dry to a glossy finish.

For the icing

Place 400g dark chocolate and 1 cup cream in a saucepan. Stir over medium heat until chocolate is melted. Cool then refrigerate 30-40 minutes until a thick spreadable consistency.

Serve. Enjoy. Have some more.

Disclaimer: Try this at your peril. I will not be held responsible for expanding waistlines or the appearance of cellulite.