Author Archives: anoccasionaltart

Almond Paste

Almond paste is so good used in so many things, making your own is so easy and quick and does not have the metallic taste. You can make almond croissants, almond scones (recipe to follow), use it to top almond cupcakes, or make into little almond balls and enrobe them in chocolate.

I used a recipe that I found online but used Almond flour since I always have that on hand (thank you Costco).

Ingredients

Prep time: 5 minutes

  • Almond flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons butter (room temperature)
  • 2 (large) egg whites
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract

Method

Put the flour, sugar and butter into a food processor and process to mix it all together. Add the egg whites and almond extract and continue to process until the mixture forms a ball.

You can use it right away or you can portion it out wrap it in cling wrap and store it in the refrigerator for a week or store it in the freezer and defrost in the fridge before using.

 

 

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Caramel Slice

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I first had caramel slice when my I was visiting my family in Australia. My niece had made it and I was simply delighted when I first had it. This I believe is something really simple and delicious to make. I liked it so much that my sister got me the Nestle’s cookbook that had the recipe.

I made this for the hubbys office farewell for one of his employees. They all loved it and even asked for the recipe. So here it is folks – try it at your own expense as it is insanely addictive. No piece survived the office – the box came back with just a few crumbs.

Just a point to note we in the US would call these bars, in Australia they call them slices. English is such a wonderful language :-).

Ingredients

Time (Baking/Cooking) : ~35 minutes

For the biscuit base

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1.5 cup sweetened coconut flakes
  • 125 grams butter, melted

For the caramel layer

  • 1 can (395 grams) sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup (of if you can get it Lyle’s pouring syrup)
  • 60 grams butter, melted

For the topping

  • 100 grams milk chocolate
  • 100 grams dark chocolate
  • sea salt flakes (optional)

Method

Preheat your oven to 350F (180C). Line a 9 inch square baking pan with parchment paper that overhangs the sides of the baking pan. This will help you lift out the dessert so you can slice it.

Melt butter in a microwave safe glass container and then add the flour and coconut flakes and mix well. Put this mixture into your baking pan and press down to an even layer. Bake for 20 minutes or under light golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.

While your biscuit base is baking, melt the butter in a pan and then add the sweetened condensed milk and golden/corn syrup. Cook this over medium heat whisking (with a long handled whisk) as you do not want the bottom to burn. You will notice the mixture start to thicken and turn color. This should take about 8 minutes. You will then notice big bubbles starting to form and the mixtures seems to begin to leave the sides. This will take about 3-5 minutes. Turn off the heat and pour it over your biscuit base spreading it to level it out.

Bake for about 8-10 minutes (at 350F) or until you see a few dark brownish spots on the top and a jiggle is fairly firm.

Let it cool completely and then put it into the refrigerator for about a half hour. Just before you remove it from the refrigerator melt the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl first on for about 20 seconds and then short bursts of 10 seconds stirring well between each burst till all the chocolate  is melted. Pour the chocolate over the caramel. Spread evenly and then return to the refrigerator to set. If you are using sea salt flakes sprinkle at this time.

When the chocolate is set cut and serve.

 

 

 


Peanut Butter Éclair Cake

eclair-cake

Well Éclair’s are the thing after macaron. This is a really simple take on the éclair with no baking involved! It does require resting time so the graham crackers can absorb the moisture and soften. This has so many variations from a plain simple one to fruit flavored to boozy – as boozy as you like.

I made this for an aunt’s 70 birthday as the request was for a peanut butter dessert. It also needed to be packed in a transportable container and driven for 5 hours. It made it there successfully in a cooler and was a big hit.

Ingredients

For the Pastry Cream

  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk, heavy cream, or a mix
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Éclair

  • 1 package of Graham Crackers
  • 3 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 1/2 pint heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 12 oz milk chocolate chips

Method

Keep a mesh strainer set in a heat proof container ready.

Pour the milk into a pot and place it over medium heat. Heat until it starts to steam but do not let it start bubbling (Small little bubbles at the edge of the pot are fine). While the milk is warming, mix the sugar and egg yolks. Then add the flour and salt ensuring it is all well mixed. This will be quite thick. .

Once the milk has started steaming turn off the heat and pour it in a very slow stream into the egg mixture, whisking fairly quickly and consistently. You can also use a ladle to pour it in a ladle at a time. Once all the milk has been added, pour the mixture back into the pot  and place it back on medium-low heat whisking continuously.

When you start whisking, it will be really frothy and very thin. As the mixture heats it will start to thicken. You have to be patient with this step because the how quickly it thickens depends on your heat. You do not want to raise your heat to have it thicken faster as it can be easy to overheat this mixture and get to a lumpy consistency. It will take somewhere between 8-12 minutes for it to thicken. You will notice the whisk leave trails and you will be able to see it thicken.  You will also see that it starts to bubble a little. Take it off the heat.

Pour the mixture into the mesh strainer to catch any egg bits. Using your spatula gently stir the mixture in strainer to help it through.  Divide your pastry cream into two halves. Add your peanut butter to one and whisk to incorporate. Place plastic wrap directly on the surface of both halves of the cream to prevent a crust from forming. Set them aside until they are completely cooled.

Just before you are ready to assemble. Whisk the heavy cream until it starts to thicken. Add the sugar and continue whisking until just past soft peak stage (when you lift your whisk the peak gently falls over). Fold half of this into the plain pastry cream.

To assemble

In a 9×9 inch pan put a layer of graham crackers. Cover this with the the peanut butter pastry cream. Place another layer of graham crackers on top. Then add the pastry cream with the whipped cream. Place another layer of graham crackers on top and cover with the remaining whipped cream. Place this in the refrigerator for 20 minutes to chill.

Melt the chocolate in the microwave on short 10 second bursts stirring in between. Once it is melted let it cool for a bit and carefully spread it over the top of the cream. Refrigerate again overnight before serving. This helps the graham crackers soften.

Notes:

You can do a variety of variations:

Fruit based – add about 1/3 of a cup of fruit puree instead of the peanut butter. Top with the same fruit glaze. Omit the chocolate glaze

Brandy – add 1/4 cup of brandy into the whipped cream omitting the peanut butter

Elderberry -add 1/4 cup of elderberry juice or liquor to the whipped cream


Green Pea Spread, sandwich rollups

greenpea

Ingredients

Makes 20-25 

  • 1 teaspoon cumin (jeera) seeds
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1.5 cups green peas (frozen)
  • 2 teaspoons coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon dry mango powder (amchoor) or 1 teaspoon Chaat masala
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 cup grated coconut (defrosted if using frozen)
  • 1 cup finely chopped fresh coriander
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan and when it is hot add the cumin seeds. Once they start to sputter add the frozen peas carefully, add the remaining spices (coriander powder, mango powder, cumin powder, grated coconut, garam masala) and let it cook on medium heat until the peas are tender (about 10-15 minutes). Season with salt and pepper and add the chopped coriander and take it off the heat.

Once it is cool, use your food processor to grind it down to small bits. You are now ready to use it in your sandwiches.

To make the rolls in the picture, you use white or wheat bread. Cut the edges off the bread. Using a rolling pin, roll the bread flat pressing as you go. Put about a tablespoon of filling across the edge closest to you. Roll from the bread encapsulating the filling and creating the roll. Repeat until you have used all your filling.

Fry the bread rolls in a pan with a little oil with the seam side down. Fry until it browns. Brush the opposite side with a little oil and flip them over. Repeat on the two remaining sides. Serve with ketchup.

 


Coffee, Chocolate, Caramel Molten cake

fondantcake

I am sure you have had the molten cakes going around. They are so amazing as you cut into them and the chocolate runs out. This one is slightly different in that it is made in a loaf pan and you can serve it on a plate and slice it.

 

Ingredients

  • 75g milk chocolate chips
  • 75g caramel chips
  • 113g butter, room temperature
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 50g granulated sugar
  • 40g all purpose flour
  • 25g almond flour (optional – if you do not have almond flour increase the amount of all purpose)
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee
  • pinch of salt

Method

Preheat your oven to 320F. Line and butter your loaf pan and set aside.

Put the chocolate chips, caramel chips and butter into a heatproof bowl and microwave for 30 seconds. Stir and then repeat for 5 second bursts until it is all melted and smooth.

Whisk the eggs and sugar on high speed until they are light lemon in color and have tripled in volume. Sift the flour into this mixture. Drizzle the coffee and fold gently until it is all incorporated. Then add the cooled melted butter chocolate mixture and salt and stir till incorporated. The batter is very very runny.

Pour the batter into your loaf pan and bake for 35-45 minutes. The cake is done when you shake the pan and there is still a little jiggle left. Take it out and let if cool before turning it onto a plate and cutting it.

 

 


Zucchini fritters

zucchini

 

I was really going to start out with using my spiralizer and make zucchini noodles but then changed my mind as I wanted something fried. These fritters are similar to latke’s and are so quick and easy to make. The most important thing to do is make sure there is not a lot of moisture left in the grated zucchini. Try them they are really simple and delicious.

If you do make them let me know how they turned out for you.

Ingredients

  • 1 extra large zucchini (about 3 cups), washed and grated
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon red hot sauce (or any spicy sauce of your choice)
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste
  • olive oil
  • sour cream

Method

Put the grated zucchini into a colander, sprinkle with about a teaspoon of salt and let it drain for about 15 minutes. Working in small batches squeeze the grated zucchini and then place it in another bowl.

Add the flour, parmesan, cilantro, hot sauce and mix. Add the beaten egg. Add pepper and any additional salt that you may want. If you mixture is still too watery add a little more flour.

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, scoop an ice cream/medium cookie scoop of the batter and put it in the frying pan. Flatten with the back of a spatula. Repeat until you have filled the pan, making sure you have place between each of the fritters.

Fry the fritters on each side until they are golden brown. Once they are fried take them off the pan and then place them on a paper towel.

Serve with sour cream or your favorite sauce.

 


Passionfruit cake with passionfruit sauce

passionfruit

Ever since I ate my first passionfruit I was in love with it. There is nothing as sweet (in my mind) as a ripe passionfruit. You may have to go through a couple before you hit the one with the perfect sweetness, but, oh the joy. Granted I can still eat the tart ones and totally enjoy them as well while making the most squeamish faces ever!

Passion fruit does have seeds and they look lovely. Unfortunately here in Atlanta we do not get fresh passion fruits all year round. I generally make do with the frozen passion fruit pulp that I get from the farmers markets. It is much more tart and its minus the seeds. The seeds do look lovely when you use them.

I also decided to make a simple glaze for the topping to make up for the lack of seeds. It did go quite nicely.

Ingredients

For the cake

  • 4 eggs separated
  • 330g caster sugar
  • 100g unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 300g all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 250 ml passion fruit pulp

For the syrup

  • 60 ml passion fruit pulp
  • 100g castor sugar
  • 125 ml water

Method

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a Bundt ring cake pan. It is really important to brush all the nooks well with butter. I use a pastry brush to do this. Lightly flour and tap our the excess flour.

Use the an electric wire whisk to beat the egg yolks, sugar and butter for 6 minutes or until mixture is pale and fluffy.

Sift flour and baking powder together. Fold in a third of the flour into the egg mixture making sure it is all incorporated, followed by half of the passion fruit pulp. Again making sure it is all incorporated. Repeat ending with the flour.

Beat the egg whites until they hold soft peaks. Fold in a quarter of the beaten whites into the mixture to lighten it. Then fold in the remaining beaten whites.

Pour batter into prepared cake pan and bake for 45-55  minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. Allow cake to cool in the pan.

For the syrup

Put the passion fruit pulp, sugar and water into a small saucepan. Heat on low stirring until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat and bring to a gentle boil and cook for 5 minutes or until thick and syrupy. Let it cool completely before drizzling over cake. Use the leftover syrup to pour on slices as you cut them.