The Coconutty Baked Brownie Bites

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Brownie. Who doesn’t love them? If you don’t, I’m not sure we can be friends. haha Kidding! But brownie is always something I cannot resist. When I see it, I have to have it – warmed, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. PERFECTO!

There are many different type of brownies, but the ones I love most is crispy on the outside, and fudgey in the middle, and I think I found the perfect recipe!

All baked and cut

Just seeing how the top bit cracks, puts a smile on my face! And being a tad bit OCD and one who is trying to (but failing) lose the baby weight, I decided to cut them into bite size, so that I don’t feel too guilty when having one, or two. hehe

I’m in a coconutty phase, so I decided to add some fine desiccated coconut through the batter before baking and the flavour wasn’t too overpowering. Chocolate was still the major flavour with a tinge of coconut! Mmmm. Plus this wasn’t too sweet. Just the right level of sweetness!

So if you do like your brownie, I urge you to try this recipe, if you haven’t already heard of The Baked Brownie! My dad was here when I made these and he actually said, “How come the brownie from outside doesn’t taste like that?” haha That was one big compliment for me! hehe

The Coconutty Baked Brownie with Vanilla Ice Cream

Coconutty Baked Brownie Bites (Adapted from Pretty Simple Sweet)

 155g plain flour

1 tsp salt

2 tbs desiccated coconut

2 tbs cocoa powder

310g dark chocolate, cut into smaller pieces

230g unsalted butter

1 tsp instant espresso powder

100g caster sugar

100g packed light brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla bean paste

5 eggs, room temperature

Steps :

1) Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius. Line the baking tin (I used a 9×13 inch rectangular baking tray) with baking paper, leaving some extra hanging off the sides for easy removal of the brownie.

2) In a medium bowl, mix the plain flour, salt, cocoa powder and desiccated coconut together. Set it aside.

3) Put the chocolate, butter, and instant espresso powder in a large bowl and set it over a small pot of simmering water, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and smooth. Turn off the heat, but keep the bowl over the water and add the sugars. Whisk until completely combined, then remove the bowl from the pan. Allow the mixture to cool till room temperature.

4) Add 3 eggs to the chocolate mixture and whisk until combined. Add the remaining 2 eggs and whisk just until combined. Add the vanilla bean paste and stir until combined. Don’t overmix at this stage or your brownies will be cakey.

5) Add the flour mixture to the chocolate mixture and fold until just a bit of the flour mixture is visible.

6) Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake in the center of the oven for 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out with a few moist crumbs sticking to it. Let the brownies cool completely, then lift them out of the pan using the parchment paper.

Baked and ready to be cut

Cut into bite sized squares

7) Cut them into bite sized squares and serve them warm with a scoop of ice cream!

Hope you all had a great weekend! Make these and have them today so that you can chase away any Monday blues and have a fantastic week ahead!

Remember to always cook and bake with love! Till the next post, xx.

PS: There will be a give-away in the next post, so stay tuned! (:

Zebra Cake

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Home. I am back in the comfort of my home in Singapore getting ready for the arrival of our little bub, Baby Ho! (: But regardless of which island I’m on, I still always have the itch to bake! Lucky for me, I’m still able to do what I love with the big bump in front of me hehe

SCS Baker's Starter Kit

Also I was fortunately enough to be sent a baker’s starter kit from SCS Butter which was filled with boing essentials that I could use! So off I went to get some SCS butter from the local supermarket and planned what I wanted to make.

Zebra cake

I’ve been wanting to bake a zebra cake for ages, but never got down to making it. Since it’s a butter cake, I thought this would be a perfect time to try it! hehe I was a little nervous as you won’t know how to will actually turn out till you cut it open, almost like a surprise cake! haha So you would be able to see the relieve on my face when I got the first slice out of the bundt! Even though there aren’t as many stripes as I hoped for, I was glad there were at least some! hehe

I absolutely love the texture of the cake baked in a bundt tin – it had a nice crunchy crumb on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside, not to mention how buttery it was! And to resemble more of the black stripes, I found extra dark chocolate cocoa which turned out almost black!

Extra dark cocoa powder

I actually got quite a shock seeing how dark it was, but it worked out well! hehe

So here’s the recipe and how I made the zebra stripes!

Zebra Cake (adapted from Ambrosia)

340g unsalted butter (I used SCS butter)

453g cake flour

200g caster sugar

4 eggs

1 tsp vanilla bean paste

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup dark cocoa powder

6 tbs water

Steps :

1) Preheat oven to 170 degrees Celcius. Butter/Oil and flour a bundt baking tray well.

2) In a standing mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until it’s light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, making sure that each addition is well combined into the mixture. Scrape the sides and the bottom of the mixing bowl when needed.

Adding buttermilk & flour

3) Add the salt and vanillin bean paste and beat for another 30 seconds or so. On low speed, alternate the cake flour and buttermilk until both are very well incorporated. Make sure you start and end with the cake flour. Beat until the mixture is smooth, but careful not to over mix the batter.

Mixing the batter to the cocoa

4) In a medium size bowl, mix the cocoa powder and water. Make sure there’s no lumps. Add 1 generous cup of the cake batter into the bowl and mix till well combined.

Getting ready to make the zebra cake

5) To make the zebra effect, add two heaps spoonful of vanilla batter in the bundt pan, then 1 heap spoonful of the chocolate batter. Continue to alternate the vanilla and chocolate batters until all the batters are used up and the bundt pan is filled. Tap the bundt pan to help in spreading the batters and be more equally distributed.

Steps to making the zebra patterns

Cake ready to be baked!

6) Bake the cake in the middle rack of your oven for 45-50 minutes. The crust will be golden brown and the cake should spring back when lightly touched. To check if the cake is done, stick a toothpick into the cake and it should come out clean. Allow the cake to cool for 10 mins in the bundt pan, then invert it out into a cooling rack. Allow it to cool completely.

Zebra cake

You can dust it with icing sugar, I wish I did, but I ran out of it! ENJOY!

Remember to always cook and bake with love! Thanks SCS for the starter kit once again! Till the next post, xx

{Travels} My Guide Around Surry Hills, Sydney

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About 3 weeks back, the Mr and I decided to surprise my sister-in-law and brought her to Sydney for the weekend as her birthday present! Needless to say, the smile on her face when she opened the envelop containing her printed air ticket was priceless! It has been a long time since we went to Sydney as well, so I was super excited to go!

We were so lucky to be able to stay at Cambridge Hotel that is located at the heart of Surrey Hills. Everything was just a stone-throw away! In this post, I will be sharing with you the different places we dined at that were all located in Surrey Hills, and a walkable distance from the comfort of our hotel!

First stop : Devon Cafe

Devon Cafe

Of course, to maximise our stay, we took one of the earliest flight out and arrived early in the morning! haha As we were too early to check in to our hotel, we decided to stop by one of the cafes that has been on my list for the longest time for breakfast! Plus it was close to the hotel too! (:  We were greeted by the most enthusiastic and friendly staff which instantly brightened up our morning!

Muffins, pastries & burgers

If you wanted something light or quick, they had a good range of savoury and sweet on display! Croissants, muffins, brioche and tarts! Especially if you wanted something to pair with your coffee-on-the-go! hehe

Our usual cuppas

We started our breakfast with our usual hot cuppas! Chai soy latte for me, latte for the mr and hot chocolate for Melissa!

Chai soy latte

I absolutely loved the pot used to serve my chai latte! hehe It was so japanese inspired and wanted to smuggle it back! haha Of course I didn’t, I still wanted to head back to Devon Cafe when I am traveling in Sydney again. hehe

Chick n Chips

There were so many things on the menu that we were drawn to. Everything just sounded so delicious! Melissa was tossing between sweet or savoury, but decided on the Chick n Chips! When it arrived, the smell was AMAZING! I was salivating just inhaling the smells. haha It had a chicken sausage, crispy confit wing smoked potato, fried egg, jus gras, chicken skin and chips! Yes, crispy chicken skin! DELISH!

green eggs and ham

The Mr ordered the special of the day, and I could totally understand why! It’s a play on the typical green eggs and ham but definitely elevated to a whole new (and better) level and everything the Mr loves! Thick cut bacon, Jerusalem artichoke puree, 63 degree eggs with wild mushroom, parsley & garlic cream and topped with crispy Jerusalem artichokes! Absolutely delicious! The plate was close to being licked clean!

Devon's granola

I wanted to start the trip with something healthy, as I knew how indulgent I will be for the rest of the day! haha So I decided to order Devon’s granola! How pretty is it? hehe It has house made granola, vanilla yoghurt, poached pear and freeze dried raspberries!  Loved all the different colours and how the freeze dried raspberries just pop!

Devon's granola

Seeing how pretty it is is making me itch to make my own granola and have it for breakie!! Think I just might! (: So after a filling and satisfying breakfast, we decided to head over to Cambridge Hotel to check in!

Front Desk of Cambridge Hotel

(Photo credits : http://www.cambridgehotel.com.au/)

When you enter the hotel lobby, you’re greeted by the smiles on all the faces of the staff! It took less than 10 minutes to get us all checked in and headed up to our room!

our room

How inviting are the rooms? Really spacious for the 3 of us too! This was the premium twin double room and our room had stunning views too!

Welcome chocolates

And how thoughtful are the staff at Cambridge Hotel? A box of handmade chocolates to warmly welcome us to our room and Sydney! Isn’t it the little things that really count and make an impact to your holidays? Love it!

Second Stop : Bourke Street Bakery

Address : 633 Bourke Street, Surry Hills

Opening hours : 7am – 6pm (Mondays to Fridays)

7am – 5pm (Weekends)

Bourke Street Bakery

After taking a short break (aka taking a power nap haha) we decided to walk to Bourke Street Bakery! I was so happy when I realised how close it was! Just a 15 mins slow walk brought us to this amazing bakery! It’s always pretty packed and there is always a queue, but it moves pretty quickly and trust me, it’s worth the wait!

Pork and fennel sausage rolls

Before going on to the sweets, we decided to have their sausage rolls! So glad we did though cause it was so so so so good! The pastry was flakey and buttery and the pork and fennel filling was absolutely delish! We shared as we wanted to have space for the sweets which we already aimed or while we were ordering the sausage rolls! hehe

Sweet pastries

The mr really wanted a croissant, but they only had the plain ones left! It was still really good though! No regrets getting it! hehe We couldn’t resist ordering the famous ginger creme brûlée tart, especially since the mr loves creme brûlée! And just when we were about to pay, a tray of freshly baked rhubarb frangipane tarts came out of the oven, so I had to get one! Trust me, nothing is better than a piping hot tart, fresh out of the oven!

Ginger creme brûlée tart

The ginger creme brûlée tart was nothing short of amazing! The short crust pastry was buttery and absolutely love how creamy and luscious the filling was! There was also a good hit of ginger, which the Mr absolutely adored! We may or may not have bought 2 more to bring back to our hotel. haha

Third stop : RoboCog Cafe

Address : 249 Riley Street, Surry Hills

Robo Cog

I absolutely love how the hotel is surrounded by small cafes, and all of them have something that would draw you in! Just down the road was a cute little cafe called Robocog which I had a cuppa with the gorgeous Heather (:

The inside of robocog

The interior was really warm, cosy and inviting. Their menu was in a shape of a robot (but I didn’t get to snap a shot of it, oops!) They had quite a spread food wise, but we were just there for coffee and to catch up!

Decaf cappuccino

I ordered the decaf cappuccino which had quite bold flavours but was smooth to taste! It’s been a while since I had coffee but still enjoyed it! I really love meeting up with people after only communicating over emails/instagram/twitter! Was an absolute pleasure!

Forth Stop : Chat Thai

Address : 20 Campbell Street, Haymarket

 Chat Thai

I know this isn’t exactly located in Surry Hills, but it’s a short 5 minutes drive or a 20 minutes brisk walk from the hotel! Chat Thai has been on everyone’s lips when they do head to Sydney and we didn’t want to miss having it! So off we went, in the cold, and walked there for dinner one night!

Cute lights

Although we went around 615pm (which I thought was quite early), we still had heaps of people infront of us and we waited for a good 40 minutes for our table! Fortunately there were a few thai supermarkets which we could pop in to have a walk or when we felt too cold to wait outside! When it got colder, the staff brought out the gas heater, which definitely made the waiting less painful!

papaya salad

We started our meal with a bang! A huge chilli hit! The papaya salad (som dtum) was so spicy I could only have one portion! Don’t get me wrong, it was delicious, but just too spicy for me. I think we could have let them know the level of spice, but we didn’t and we were given the maximum one! haha

Grilled pork neck

This was my favourite dish of the night. Grilled pork neck (khor mhu yaang) with smoked chilli and tamarind relish! The pork neck was so tender and the sweet & sourish relish complimented each other really well. A must order dish if you ask me! (:

Thai green chicken curry

When we have thai, it’s a must to order a bowl of green curry as well! This was the thai green chicken curry with apple egg plants, kaffir lime leaves and basil! So fragrant and just the right amount of heat! Could easily finish a bowl of rice just with the curry gravy! Mmmm!

dtom yum goong with king prawns

The dtom yum goong with king prawns had the most intense and amazing flavours! Every sip tasted like prawns! SO GOOD! We couldn’t stop saying WOW. haha In fact, we were still talking about it the next day!

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The last savoury dish we ordered was the crispy fried whole snapper with a roasted chilli and garlic sauce. When it arrived, we all thought we were in for another spicy journey haha But it actually was a good balance of sweet & spicy! The fish was also cooked perfectly. NOMS!

Durian sticky rice

We were so stuffed by the time we polished off the savouries, but the Mr couldn’t resist ordering the durian sticky rice! We did want the mango sticky rice, but mangoes weren’t in season. So durian it is! Many might not like this King of the Fruits, but we absolutely adore it! Creamy and sweet, we finished it too quickly! hehe

Fifth Stop : Bills

Address : 359 Crown Street, Surry Hills

Bills

Last and definitely not the least, Bills. I remember the first time I came to Sydney, the only place I wanted to try then was Bills. This time was no different. Bills was still on my to-go list and one thing I wanted to have was the fluffy ricotta hotcakes! We went around 1030am and had to wait for a good 45 minutes. But is it worth the wait?

Ricotto hotcakes with banana and honeycomb butter

ABSOLUTELY! Look at how fluffy the hotcakes are??? Piping hot with bananas and a honeycomb butter and a drizzle (or a heap haha) of maple syrup! YUMMO! I just couldn’t stop eating!

Ricotta hotcakes

Oh my gosh. I’m having some serious hotcakes pregnancy cravings this instant! hehe They are seriously amazing. You definitely have to make a trip there when you are in Sydney or around Surry Hills! Head there early if you want to reduce the queueing time!

Bills

The place was constantly crowded but the staff still wore smiles on their faces! Love it!

Hot chocolate

I was so excited about the hotcakes I forgot to talk about the drinks we had! Melissa ordered the hot chocolate and boy was it good! It was made by coating the bottom and sides of the glass with chocolate buttons and pouring hot milk in! Ooh lala! She was definitely one happy girl! hehe

Beet root juice

I decided to go for something healthy and refreshing – Beet root, carrot, fennel & apple!

I really hope you enjoyed my eating journey around Surry Hills! Our bellies were definitely happy through the 3 days we had in Sydney. Just want to thank the Mr for planning the trip, Heather for helping with the accommodation and Cambridge Hotel for the comfortable stay we had for the 2 nights!

Have a great week ahead everyone! Remember to always cook and bake with love!

Till the next post, xx

Salted Caramel Creme Brûlée

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Whenever I’m deciding what to cook or bake, my inspiration always comes from my loved ones and what they like to have, or what their favourite cuisine or flavours are. Of late, I have to admit that I cook according to what Baby Ho (& I) crave for and thankfully the Mr and sister-in-law are really easy and wouldn’t mind having what I’m craving for! PHEW! So so blessed! But last week, I decided to make something inspired by what the Mr loves and with a twist, using his favourite dessert & flavour – creme brûlée & salted caramel!

salted caramel creme brûlée

I have to say I was really nervous making creme brûlée again, cause the last time I made was a long time ago and usually they kinda curdle a little, and never comes out as smooth as I wish they would. But I decided to give it another go, and waited with my fingers and toes crossed while they were baking in the oven! hehe

I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out! Smooth, luscious and with a good kick of the salt! Not overly sweet too! The Mr was all smiles and because I didn’t wanna have too much sugar, he had his and half of mine! hehe Of cos, the best bit was so hear the crack of the burnt sugar on the top!

So here’s the recipe and I hope you all enjoy it as much as we did!

Salted Caramel Creme Brûlée

600ml thickened cream

6 egg yolks

1 egg

1 vanilla pod

120g caster sugar, plus extra for the brûlée

1 tsp fleur de sel (or sea salt if that’s what you have)

Steps :

1) Preheat over to 115 degrees celcius.

2) In a small pot, pour the thickened cream in. Split the vanilla pod into half, lengthwise, and scrape the vanilla bean into the cream. Throw the pod into the pot as well and bring it to a slow boil. Allow the mixture to simmer for 10 minutes so that the vanilla pod and beans would infuse into the cream.

3) In another pot, heat the sugar on medium-high heat, swirling it to incorporate the rest of the sugar. Watch closely so that the caramel doesn’t burn. Once the caramel is a beautiful amber colour, take it off the heat and pour the cream into the pot. Do be very careful as the mixture will still bubbling! Whisk continuously to make sure the caramel and cream is well combined. Add the fleur de sel and give it a good stir to ensure the salt combines with the caramel cream mixture.

4) In a large glass bowl, crack the egg and add the egg yolks. Whisk well and slowly pour the salted caramel cream in a slow and steady stream. Make sure it’s not added too quickly, as it will scramble the eggs. Whisk continuously as you add the caramel cream  and strain into a measuring jug.

5) Pour the mixture into small mason jars (my mixture was enough to fill the 1/2 way mark of 6 jars) and place the jars in a roasting tray.

salted caramel creme brûlée

6) Fill the tray with hot water until it reaches 1/2 of the jars and slowly place it into the oven. Bake the creme brûlée for 45 minutes or until it’s just set but still wobbly in the middle. Take the jars out of the water bath and allow them to cool completely before placing them in the fridge for at least 3 hours or overnight.

7) To serve, sprinkle some caster sugar on top of the creme brûlée and using a blow torch, burn the sugar till it caramelises and is a dark brown colour.

salted caramel creme brûlée

ENJOY!

Have a great night everyone and remember to always cook and bake with love! xx

I Scream, You Scream, We Scream for Harry’s Ice Cream!

Harry's Ice Cream

As the weather gets warmer, isn’t there just one thing that is always on your mind? It definitely is for me! Ice cream!! I was so excited when I was invited to the exclusive factory tour of Harry’s Ice Cream!

A beautiful setting of table of goodies

Upon arrival at the factory, we were greeted by a beautiful table with canapés, macarons and a blueberry-lemonade-vodka cocktail! Mmmm! Delish! And how pretty is the bunting?? Gosh, I am obsessed with them! hehe

mini smoked salmon bagels and pea tarts

The mini treats were so delicious! Never seen such small bagels before! They were stuffed with smoked salmon, cream cheese and capers! I couldn’t stop at one. haha The pea tarts were surprisingly yum! I am never one for peas, but these were soft and sweet (in a savoury kind of way haha)!

mini chicken sandwiches and blue cheese and fig tarts

How cute are these mini chicken sandwiches? Never seen such small loafs before!!! Next to them drew my attention immediately! Do you know why? hehe Because of the dried figs!!! and they go so well with the blue cheese on the puff pastry base! Mmmmm!

Cocktails in mason jars

Cocktails in mason jars

We were so spoilt that day and were even given cocktails served in mason jars and with a polka dotted paper straw! It had a really good tang to it cause of the 40 lemons that were hand squeezed into the large jar dispenser! hehe Loved the tinge of pink it had too! Such a girlie drink! I have to admit, I almost wanted to take one of the jars home! haha

Lawrence - Owner

While we were enjoying the little nibbles, we were introduced to the brains behind Harry’s Ice Cream – Lawrence! He shared with us the history and how Harry’s Ice Cream came about. So here are some fun facts : They first started making ice cream in 1994 and sold them in stores. The first one is at Chadstone and this carried on till 1999. By then, they had 12 stores and they decided to open the Harry and Larry’s factory! They do supply to supermarkets under different brand names, but decided to come up with Harry’s that did exclusive flavours!

Lawrence and Tony

We were then introduced to the head of the ice cream maker, Tony, who would be bringing us for the factory tour as well as explaining to us the whole magical process!

Group photo at Harry's

(Photo credits : Harry’s Ice Cream)

But before we could enter the factory, we had to gear up and sanitise our hands so that we keep the area as clean as possible! haha Don’t we look good in our hair nets? haha We were ready to roll!

The inside of the factory

It was pavlova day at the factory that afternoon! So the team was high in production! Just tubs and tubs of ice cream being filled and capped, then stored in the freezer!

Making ice cream

Then the fun part started! We were brought to a smaller scale ice cream machine to make the flavour that Ling came up with : White chocolate and mixed berries ! It was such a phenomenal process, from the pasteurised custard to the adding of the mixed berries, and viola! Ice cream!!

Ling's white chocolate and mixed berries ice cream

How pretty is the colour? It was velvety smooth too! All contained and ready to be frozen so that we could taste a little later on!

The filling machine

On a larger scale, these filling machines fill up to 51 tubs per minute! It was so amazing to see it at work!

Ice cream tubs getting sealed

All filled and ready to be frozen

The pavlova flavour had an amazing passionfruit curd swirled into the custard and we could smell it from a mile away! They make up to 3600 litres of ice cream per hour and 68000 tubs of ice cream in 2 hours!!! WOWZER!

After the tour, I definitely couldn’t wait to get some tasting done! hehe

tasting and judging

We were also going to do some judging! Before the event, we were asked to come up with an ice cream flavour so that Harry’s could make it and we could taste and judge which flavour we loved! Before this, I never knew how ice cream was judged in a professional setting! There were three criteria for judging : flavour & aroma, texture & body, and presentation!

Jenny

Jenny is the official taster at Harry’s! She has the best job in the world of making sure all the ice cream is of the right taste, consistency and appearance! She explained to us the process of judging at an ice cream competition and then the tasting began!

Harry's ice cream

First up, the three Harry’s ice cream flavours! My favourite of the day is the Pavlova! It had bits of crushed meringue in it and every bite had lots of it! Gave it a really good texture and of course the flavours were spot on! Mmmmm

Our creations

Then it was time to taste the flavour we each come up with! I was super excited!!! Everyone had such great flavours and totally different too!

Pistachio, rose water and honey

The flavour I came up with was inspired by one of my favourite desserts of all time : the baklava! And if you don’t already know, I love pistachio! So when I was given the chance to come up with an ice cream flavour, I just had to give this combination a go! Pistachio, rose water and honey! I was so glad they added more crushed pistachio on the top of the ice cream, not just for presentation but also for texture! It was SO GOOD! The people working at Harry’s are just amazing!

Winner!

And guess what?? My flavour won!! Everyone liked it so much and it scored the highest! Whoopeedoo! hehe I was so surprised but was so happy! hehe Everyone did so well though! All the flavours were delicious!

Take home box!

The best thing was : take home tubs for everyone!! We had 6 each to bring home! 3 of their signature flavours and 3 of ours! hehe I was so excited that I gave one to Peggy on my way home! hehe The mr couldn’t wait to dig in to all the tubs too!

testing table

I had such a great time learning about the process of making ice cream and of course being able to taste not just the unique flavours that they have and also the flavour everyone came up with! (:

Thank you so much Harry’s Ice Cream and Keep Left PR for this amazing opportunity! It was such a fun event and I definitely recommend you to go try the Harry’s Ice Cream if you haven’t already tried it!

UPDATE :

Harry’s Ice Cream likes the flavour combination so much they are sharing the recipe to make it! Here’s the link and hopefully you’ll give it a try!!!

http://thenewdaily.com.au/life/2014/07/01/homemade-rosewater-pistachio-and-honey-ice-cream-recipe-harrys/

Disclaimer : I was invited to tour the Harry’s Ice Cream factory as a guest of Harry’s Ice Cream and Keep Left PR. Thank you once again or this wonderful experience! 

Hazelnut Olive Oil Cake

Hazelnut Olive Oil Cake

Hooray! It’s the weekend so let’s celebrate with cake! What better way yes? heh I don’t think anyone can really resist cake, even more so when it’s a gluten free and (almost) healthy one!

Is there a particular cake that you will never get tired of and would always go-to cause you know it will not fail you? I definitely do! This is one cake that I know that would definitely be a crowd pleaser! The chocolate olive oil cake by Nigella Lawson is simple, delicious and did I say delicious? Whenever I need to make a birthday cake for a close friend, I always turn to this recipe, top them with fresh raspberries and dust with icing sugar and viola! All ready to be consumed and put smiles on people’s faces!

All along, I’ve made it using almond meal, but I few weeks back when I needed to bake a cake for a close friend’s 21st, I had a eureka moment. Why not use hazelnut meal? It would be like a fudgey and moist… nutella cake! How good does that sound? I was so so excited to give it a try!

And it came out just the way I envisioned it to be. Soft, really chocolatey, and so fudgey and moist! OOhhh la-la! It can definitely make one of the sexiest and most decadent chocolate dessert that I’ve ever made! The hazelnut meal elevated it to a whole new level! Definitely gonna stick to using hazelnut meal now. hehe One slice is never enough!

So give this a shot if you love nutella. You will definitely be hooked! It’s gluten free and if you are on a paleo diet, just change the sugar to 1/3-1/2 cup honey and you’re good to go!

Hazelnut Chocolate Olive Oil Cake (adapted from Nigella Lawson)

150 ml regular olive oil (plus more for greasing)

50 grams cocoa powder (good quality, sifted)

125 ml boiling water

1 tsp vanilla bean paste

150 grams hazelnut meal

½ tsp bicarbonate of soda

pinch of salt

170 grams caster sugar (or 1/3-1/2 cup of honey if you want it to be paleo)

3 eggs, room temperature

1 small punnet of fresh raspberries (to top the cake)

Icing sugar, to finish

Steps :

1. Preheat your oven to 170°C/gas mark 3. Grease your springform tin with a little oil and line the base with baking parchment. Measure and sift the cocoa powder into a bowl or jug and whisk in the boiling water until you have a smooth, chocolatey, still runny (but only just) paste. Whisk in the vanilla extract, then set aside to cool a little.

2. In another smallish bowl, combine the hazelnut meal with the bicarbonate of soda and a pinch of salt.

3. Put the sugar (or honey), olive oil and eggs into the bowl of a freestanding mixer with the paddle attachment and beat together vigorously for about 3 minutes until you have a pale-primrose, aerated and thickened cream. Turn the speed down a little and pour in the cocoa mixture, beating as you go, and when all is scraped in you can slowly tip in the hazelnut meal mixture.

4. Pour this dark, liquid batter into the prepared tin. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the sides are set and the very centre, on top, still looks slightly damp. A cake tester should come up mainly clean but with a few sticky chocolate crumbs clinging to it.

5. Let it cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack, still in its tin, and then ease the sides of the cake with a small metal spatula and spring it out of the tin. Leave to cool completely and place the whole punnet of fresh raspberries neatly on the cake and dust with icing sugar. Serve with a side of freshly whipped cream or a scoop of your favourite ice cream!

Have a chocolatey and hazelnutty weekend everyone! (: Be warned that you won’t be able to stop at a slice for this one! hehe

Remember to always cook and bake with love! Till the next post, xx !

Fig Maple & Thyme Scones

Fig Maple & Thyme Scones

Figs. I just can’t get enough of them. Whether it’s the fresh or dried version, I love them all! I could have them everyday to be honest! Sometimes, I wish they weren’t seasonal. Thankfully, I’ve got two fig trees in my backyard that gives are beautiful juicy figs in Summer! Hooray! But since it’s Autumn now, I have to say, the dried figs are just as satisfying (:

Herb garden bed

I’ve always considered myself blessed. Even more so when I look at our bark yard, in particular our herb garden bed! The Mr has a green thumb! Wheeee! (: Everytime I look at how much it has grown and flourished, I will be filled with joy! hehe Basil, mint, coriander, rosemary and lemon thyme are some of the herbs we’ve grown. And since this recipe calls for some fresh thyme, I just went to the garden bed to pick some! Easy peasy! (:

fig, maple & thyme scones - before baking

Okie, back to the scones! (: My love for scones come from my mum, we would make scones whenever we have time on our hands and have it immediately for tea. Instant gratification! haha One of our favourite places to have scones is at Ms Marples Tea Room up at Mount Dandenong! Although some might say theirs is more like a dense cake, mum must have it every time she comes to Melbourne! hehe I was going through Tastespotting and chanced upon a recipe that instantly caught my attention. I made a variation of the recipe with the things I have in my pantry. These were SO GOOD. They were light and fluffy in the middle and just went so well with butter. I could have it for breakfast, tea and dessert! Definitely something I would make frequently now, plus it didn’t take much time at all!

scones with butter and homemade fig jam

I know there are many different ways to enjoy a scone, but my favourite way is with butter and jam. As I made fig jam a while back (recipe in the next post, so stay tuned cause it’s addictive!), I had my warm scone with some unsalted butter and homemade fig jam! YUMMO! As a dessert, I topped the scones with a quenel of macadamia ice cream and it was delicious too!

Scones- baked

Fig, Maple & Thyme Scones (adapted from Le Pirate Life)

3 cups self-raising flour, sifted

80g unsalted butter, cold & cubed

1 cup of milk (might need a couple of tsp if dough looks too dry)

2 heap tbs of pure maple syrup

250g dried figs, chopped into quarters

A handful of thyme (leaves removed from stalks, a few sprigs for garnishing)

Ingredients for the scones

Ingredients

Steps :

1) Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celcius and lined a baking tray with baking paper.

2) In a large bowl, place the self-raising flour and butter. Using your fingers, gently rub the butter into the flour till it resembles breadcrumbs. Create a well in the middle of the flour mixture and pour the milk and maple syrup into the well. Gently mix the dough till it all comes together. Add more milk (a tsp at a time) if the dough feels and looks a bit too dry. The dough should feel soft and a little sticky.

Flour, butter, milk & maple syrup

3) Fold in the figs and thyme leaves into the dough. Roll it out on a lightly floured surface and knead it slightly, careful not to overwork the dough. Using a rolling pin (or just your palms), flatten it out till it is about 3 cm thick.

the dough

4) Using a scone cutter, cut out the scones and place them on the baking tray. Garnish the scones with more thyme leaves or sprigs of thyme if you’ve some.

All ready to be baked

5) Bake the scones for 20-25 minutes. You can either leave it to cool and store in a air-tight container, or enjoy it hot with some butter, cream and jam.

Scone with butter and homemade fig jam

ENJOY! (:

So dear readers, what is your favourite way of having your scones? Please share as I would love to hear from you! (: Have a great weekend and remember to always cook and bake with love!