Summary

Give me cake or give me death cookies.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Purple Sweet Potato Haupia Pie- Recipe

I've been at the purple sweet potatoes again.


The last time I used these magical things were in my purple sweet potato roll cake last year. I love the rich flavour of them compared to the regular kind found in the supermarket, but alas, they  only seem available for a few months a year in one store in Chinatown, it seems.



What's haupia? Haupia's the white layer of this pie, and is essentially a rich set coconut custard. It's a Hawaiian dessert and often eaten by itself like a jelly, but here the flavours work with the sweet potato incredibly well.

Anyway! Onto the recipe. This recipe can be found on numerous sites on the interweb... but all of them leave you with lots of leftover sweet potato mixture, and- a little more suspiciously- none of them actually used the given pastry recipe, instead opting to use a ready-made crust. The crust sounded delicious- a sort of sweet shortcrust with macadamia nuts. Why was no-one making it?

My pie didn't start off with strikingly stripy bare sides to begin with: originally I lined the pie tin so the pie would have a fluted crust around the side, too. The recipe said to pack the crust into the pie tin like you might for a cheesecake, but even following the recipe 100% yielded a soft pastry, rather than a crumb. The other significant problem was that the recipe made a crust that was far, far too crumbly after baking to remain structurally sound around the sides... resulting in crumbling walls. And this happening.


I may have chopped the macadamia nuts too finely, in hindsight- mac nuts are really high in oil content.

I wasn't too bothered though- I'd taken a risk in my approach and had learned something- and once I'd neatly removed the remaining pastry ruins and cleaned up the edges, I had a bowl of really tasty macadamia shortcrust cookies to snack on. Accidentally prettier pie, extra snacks, everybody wins!


 

So. Here is the same recipe that everyone else uses (with just one or two of my own tweeks)-but also, here's how to do it right to get one neat pie.

Ingredients for Crust:

-85g unsalted butter, softened
-1tbsp caster sugar
-110g plain flour
- 50g finely chopped macademia nuts
-Pinch of salt

Ingredients for Sweet Potato Layer:

-60g unsalted butter, softened
-130g boiled/ steamed and mashed sweet potato (any will do, but purple is my favourite!)
-75g sugar
-2 eggs
-75ml evaporated milk
-1tsp vanilla
-Pinch of salt

Ingredients for Haupia Layer:

-1 can coconut milk
-125ml water
-50g cornflour
-70g caster sugar
-1 pandan leaf (optional- I just love pandan with coconut)

Method:

1) Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C, and lightly grease an 8" pie dish

2) Stir all of the crust ingredients together until it forms a dough, and pack evenly into the bottom of your pie dish (if you want to be precise about it, wrap the dough up in clingfilm and put it in the fridge for half an hour to firm up so you can roll it out)

3) Make the sweet potato layer next: cream the butter and sugar together, and whisk in the eggs. Now whisk in everything else, and pour over the crust (it should only fill the tin halfway, giving you room for the haupia layer later)

(You won't have crust around the sides for this recipe)

4) Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the sweet potato layer is *just* beginning to brown at the edges and the middle is set. Now you have to wait for the pie to cool completely before making the haupia


5) Put the cornflour and sugar into a small saucepan, and gradually sir in the water with a balloon whisk so you form a loose paste. Now stir in the coconut milk, pop in a knotted pandan leaf (if you have one) and turn the heat up to medium


6) Keep stirring with your whisk until the haupia gets really really thick (remove the pandan leaf when it just starts to thicken)


7) Pour the thickened haupia straight onto the cooled pie and smooth the surface


8) Wait an hour or so for everything to cool down again, slice, serve and enjoy!


Saturday, 30 August 2014

Crumbly Peanut Butter Jelly Bars- Recipe

I'm relatively new to the concept of pairing peanut butter with jam. Now that I've started, I can't seem to stop!


I originally wanted to make a chewy cookie-like treat, but these ended up more crumbly like shortbread- however they went down really well and people assured me there was no need to 'improve' the recipe for the bars themselves. I may add more jam next time though, and use chunkier conserve- as the smooth stuff I used seemed to vanish a little. As you can see I also sprinkled over some peanut M&Ms for colour (and added yumminess).

Ingredients:

-200g plain flour
-1/2 tsp baking powder
-5 heaped tbsp smooth peanut butter
-70g light muscavado sugar
-115g softened unsalted butter
-1 egg
-1tsp vanilla
-1/2tsp salt
-200g jam of your choice (I used strawberry)
-150g peanut M&Ms

 Method:

1) Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C, line a 8 x 12" pan with foil and lightly grease (I used my brownie pan)


2) Keeping back the M&Ms and jam for later, put the other dry ingredients into a bowl, and stir the other wet ingredients straight in with a wooden spoon until you get a smooth dough


3) Pack about 2/3 of your peanut cookie dough into the bottom of your prepared pan in a smooth layer


4) Coat evenly with the jam...

Holy hand of jam-spreading?

5) ... Break off pieces of the remaining dough to crumble on top of the jam layer...


6) ... And sprinkle with M&Ms.


7) Bake for about 30 minutes until it begins to turn golden brown (the M&Ms might split like mine)


8) Leave to cool completely before slicing into squares and serving.


Enjoy!

Monday, 25 August 2014

Rustic Blackberry Custard Tart- Recipe

Inspired by a friend's delicious home foraged, homemade blackberry jam gifted to me a year ago, I decided to go out on a spot of urban foraging myself.



During the week, I waited for lunchtime before going down into the car park, alerted the security guard as to what I was up to (so that he knew what the random girl on CCTV scuffling around the bushes was doing), and filled a plastic up of delicious blackberries from the brambles growing wild and in abundance. I did this twice in one week, each time coming back with an armful of bramble scratches, fingers stinging from nettles and a 1kg bag of berries fresh off the bush.

The first thing of course I tried was jam. I'd never made jam before, so I don't feel too bad that my first batch overcooked and it turned into a very delicious-but-not-jammy blackberry toffee. (For the record, my second attempt was perfect).

The other thing I did with these blackberries was to bake some into a custard tart. This recipe is really, really easy, especially as it uses store bought pastry. One day I'll make my own puff pastry from scratch. But this is not that day. In any case, this was so, so delicious, and even better for knowing I'd picked the berries myself and that they hadn't gone to waste.

Ingredients:

-1 puff pastry
-350g blackberries
-1tbsp plain flour
-150ml double cream
-70g sugar
-2 large eggs
-1tsp vanilla

Method:

1) Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C, and grease an 8" tart tin

2) Either roll out your puff pastry to a couple of mm thickness and line your tin with it, or if you've bought ready rolled the just go ahead and line your tin with the pastry straight away

3) Prick some holes in the bottom of your pastry with a fork and evenly sprinkle the plain flour on the bottom to soak up excess berry juice


4) Evenly scatter the berries on the bottom of the pastry, and pop in the oven for 15 minutes


5) Lightly whisk the eggs, sugar, cream and vanilla together, take the pastry and berries out of the oven and pour the custard mixture straight in

6) Pop the whole thing back into the oven for another 15 minutes, or until the custard is set and browning


7) The hardest bit: wait until completely cold as the custard will set firmly for easy cutting. Then serve!


Saturday, 23 August 2014

Ricotta Mascarpone Sopapilla Cheesecake- Recipe

I'd never heard of sopapillas until I saw the episode of South Park where Cartman creates an elaborate plan to get himself invited to a birthday party at Casa Bonita. Cartman literally dreams about the sopapillas- so of course I had to research them. A sopapilla is basically a fried pastry, served sweet with honey or cinnamon sugar. This sounded awesome enough, but when I found out about sopapilla cheesecake with a crispy cinnamon sugar topping... I had to try it.


I've known about sopapilla cheesecakes for a few years now, but have never gotten around to making one. Last week however, I needed a quick dessert to make as I was already busy baking red velvet cupcakes for a day round a friend's house on the following day. This recipe calls for ready-made croissant dough (the rolled-up canned kind), and is super quick and easy to make.


Mine literally exploded open. Made me jump!


Freaky.

I'm not sure who made the first sopapilla cheesecake- there seem to be many different takes on it on the internet. My version is different again: where other versions use regular cream cheese, I used a mix of ricotta and mascarpone for a more delicate flavour. I also added a smidgen of nutmeg to the cinnamon sugar topping (just because I like nutmeg).

Another slightly different ingredient I used was vanilla bean paste- since the flavour of the types of cheeses I used were more delicate, I figured they could use an extra bit of vanilla 'oomph', and the aromatic bean paste worked quite well. Plus you also get the pretty little flecks of vanilla bean seeds running through the cheesecake filling.

My goodness the fragrance of this thing that came from the oven... heaven. You have to go through the hell of taking it out of the oven and then waiting a few hours for it to cool completely before digging in (hell because you spend those few hours smelling the sweet cinnamonny vanillary smell without being able to taste it!) But it's worth the cool-down wait for the crispy caramelised cinnamon topping, buttery danish pastry and creamy vanilla cheesecake filling.

Make it. Now. And fight over the crunchy corner pieces.

Ingredients for Pastry:

-2 cans of croissant dough (that's it!)

Ingredients for Topping:

-3tbsp caster sugar
-2tsp cinnamon
-1/2 tsp nutmeg
-2oz softened slightly salted butter (slightly salted is best! Think salted caramel...)

Ingredients for Cheesecake Filling:

-250g ricotta
-250g mascarpone
-150g caster sugar
-1tsp vanilla bean paste (regular extract will do, too)

Method:

1) Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C and grease a 9 x 13" baking dish with a bit of butter or oil

2) Crack open one can of dough and line the bottom of your dish with it (you may need to break the sheet of dough up , reposition and pinch holes closed to get it to fit, but it doesn't have to be pristine)

3) Stir the cheesecake filling ingredients together in a bowl (wooden spoon time!), and pour and smooth straight over your bottom layer of dough.

4) Crack open the second can of dough and repeat step 2 to cover the top (again filling in cracks and not worrying about getting perfectly even layer)

5) Spread the softened butter on top of the top layer of dough



6) Stir the topping ingredients together until well-combined, and sprinkle evenly on top of your buttered top layer

7) Bake for 30-40 minutes, until caramelised and golden. Mine looked like this:


Soooo tempting, but don't eat it yet or the hot sugar will MELT YOUR FACE

8) Let it cool completely before slicing up and serving: not only will the flavours be more pronounced, but the cheesecake filling will be a bit easier to keep intact when cutting once it's cool and set a little.

You could also serve this with a dollop of vanilla ice-cream and some hot honey drizzled on top. You're welcome.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Little Red Velvet Cakes- Recipe

I found some awesome cupcake boxes that can hold cupcakes in place upside-down without damaging the frosting! Unfortunately, they can only hold dinky fairy cake-sized morsels. Fairy cake-sized morsels, however, are just the right size for transporting across London for an evening of tabletop gaming at a friend's.


These look quite dark in this photo, yes- partially because of weird lighting, but also because I always add a little more cocoa powder to my red velvet than most. After all, the original red velvet's colour was caused by the chemical reaction between cocoa powder and vinegar, while these days less cocoa is used and more red food colouring is added instead. I still added some food colouring though, giving this red velvet cake a more mysteriously dark red hue, along with a more chocolatey bite.

You can see how these smaller cases fit in a regular muffin tin- they're smaller than 'regular' cupcakes, but not as small as mini ones. They'd be pretty good for children's parties, and they're cute in general for tea parties. I think cupcakes these days can get way too big anyway (not that you'd hear me complain if you plonked on in front of me right now...)


The recipe for the cake batter is super easy, with no creaming ingredients separately: just put everything together in a bowl, whisk, and you're done. The cream cheese frosting requires just a little more love to ensure a good piping consistency (over beating cream cheese releases the water in it and can make it runny), but I'll walk you through that.

Let's go!


(Makes 20 fairy cakes or 12 regular cupcakes)

Ingredients for Cupcakes:

-150g self raising flour
-30g cocoa powder
-150g caster sugar
-5tbsp buttermilk
-5tbsp vegetable oil
-4tbsp milk
-1 egg
-1tsp vanilla
-pinch of salt

Ingredients for Cream Cheese Frosting:

100g full fat cream cheese
30g unsalted butter, softened
150g icing sugar

Method:

1) Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C and pop your cupcake cases into the tins (you don't have to use tins, but they do help the cakes keep their shape as they bake)

2) Sift all the dry ingredients into a big bowl, add in the wet ingredients, and whizz with an electric whisk until smooth


3) Divide the mixture evenly between the cake cases, making sure they don't fill more than 2/3 to 3/4 of the cases


4) Bake for 10-15 minutes (give one a gentle poke at 10 minutes- if it springs back, it's done: these cakes are small so they don't take long to bake)


5) Leave to cool completely while you make the frosting (I brushed them with a little syrup made from boiling equal parts water and sugar for a few minutes- this helps to keep them from drying out)

6) To make the frosting, cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Now stir the cream cheese in carefully until literally just combined, and pop your frosting in the fridge while the cakes cool

7) When the cupcakes are completely cold, spoon, spread or pipe the frosting on however you like, add you favourite sprinkles, and enjoy!


These 'postable' cake boxes come with domed tops- so if you like your icing tall, your cakes won't get smooshed. Great idea!


Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Lemon Raspberry Friands- Recipe

Friands: adorable little oval-shaped cakes, made with egg whites and ground almonds, with a moist, both-dense-and-fluffy bite.



Despite the French-y name, I first came across friands in Australia. They seemed to be in every cafe and bakery: lemon friands, blueberry friands, pistachio friands, cherry friands, peach friands, all kinds of them.

In fact, there is a daintier French version of this cake called a financier. To be honest, both seem to be made with the exact same base ingredients and in the exact same way. I'm guessing Oz adopted the financier somewhere along the line and personalised it to be bigger and with more variety. Don't quote me on that, it's just my best guess.

I'm going to break the rules and do the footnotes right here, because it makes more sense to explain myself before I give you the recipe (* and ** in the ingredients list):

*I actually used self-raising flour here: this was a rooky kitchen accident (everyone makes this mistake, eventually!) All other friand recipes seem to call for plain flour, and I think using self-raising flour is what caused the slightly uneven rise and bake of my friands. However, as you can see, they were okay on the whole: so I'd recommend using plain flour if you want more consistent results, but self-raising will still give you good enough results.


Makes 8 large friands.

Ingredients:

125g unsalted butter, melted
125g icing sugar
25g plain flour*
100g ground almonds
pinch of salt
4 egg whites
1tsp vanilla (I used bean paste, but the regular extract is fine)
zest of 1 lemon
8 raspberries

Method:

1) preheat the oven to 180 degrees C and lightly grease the insides of your friand mould.

2) Sift the dry ingredients into one bowl (add in the tiny bits that don't go through the sieve too, these won't hurt your friands- you just want to break up the large clumps of stuff).

3) In another bowl, lightly whisk the egg whites until foamy, but not until they form peaks like a meringue.


4) Make a well in the centre of your dry ingredients and dump the fluffy egg whites in the middle, mixing from the middle to avoid lumps.


5) Stir in the melted butter, vanilla and lemon zest until just incorporated.

6) Spoon the mixture evenly into your friand mould, and pop a raspberry on the top of each, only poking them in a little so you still have an alluring flash of red on top.



7) Pop them in the oven to bake for about 20 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown and the cakes are set.

8) Leave to cool for 10mins, then take the cakes out of the mould to cool complete on a wire rack.


9) Dust with icing sugar to serve, or (like me), dig straight in!



Sunday, 3 August 2014

Plain Vanilla Butter Cupcakes for Mum's Birthday

"I just want plain, plain cupcakes for my birthday. No fancy things, just some nice buttery cupcakes."


These were the easiest things I've ever baked for someone's birthday. I've done red velvet Black Forest gateau, classic black forest gateau, ornately decorated cupcakes, cakes shaped like things (like animals and Xboxes... what did you think I meant?), the lot. I must admit, it was nice to go back to my roots and bake plain vanilla cupcakes.



Of course, I had to bake them in fancy cupcake cases, because they still had to be pretty! I also brushed them with a little simple syrup to keep them from drying out, since they don't have that protective layer of icing or frosting.