Saturday, October 18, 2014

Citrus + Almond Cake with Yoghurt Drizzle

I keep making these type of cakes and then forgetting which recipe I used or where I even got it from. This makes it frustrating when I'm trying to recall my favourite (and I know there is one!). Losing one's marbles was not the only calamity in the kitchen this morning.  My attempt at making a yoghurt icing saw it start off creamy and end up runny - fail!  So it transformed into a yoghurt drizzle. Ah well, in the end we still got to eat cake and sometimes that's all that matters, as Marie Antoinette was wont to point out (maybe?).

I was given a lovely homemade present of a jar of brandied kumquats (thank you, Penny) and used the last of them in this cake, making up the difference in quantity with some homegrown oranges.  I am sure the liqueur in the kumquats adds greatly to the taste (hic). Now I get to keep the leftover liquid for six months until it has reached a thick, sweet syrup - can't wait to try it.

Before you start this recipe, bear in mind you will need to boil the oranges first and let them cool before you start baking.

Citrus & Almond Cake with Yoghurt Drizzle

Approx. 3 smallish oranges (375 grams)
6 eggs
225g sugar
250g ground almonds
1 tsp baking powder

Place the whole oranges in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil then simmer for one hour. Drain and leave until cold.

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C. Butter and line a 20cm cake tin.

Cut the cooked oranges in quarters and remove the pips. Place the whole fruits in a food processor with a metal blade and blitz until finely chopped. Add eggs and sugar and process until well combined. Finally add ground almonds and baking powder and pulse until just mixed.

Pour the mix into the cake tin and bake for 50-60 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean. If the top of the cake starts to brown too much, cover loosely with tin foil.

Remove from the oven and leave in the tin but place on a wire rack to cool.

Once cool, dust with icing sugar or a lemon glaze or the yoghurt drizzle below.

Yoghurt Drizzle

1 cup Greek yoghurt
½ tsp vanilla extract
½ cup icing sugar, sifted
100g cream cheese

Whisk (by hand or electric) the ingredients together until smooth. Keep refrigerated until required. Spoon or drizzle over the cake.

I decorated my cake with some edible flowers (well the pink one on the left may not be edible but the others are) and freeze-dried raspberry powder.

This will be my October entry for Sweet New Zealand which I am hosting here.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Sweet New Zealand

This month, it's my turn to host Sweet New Zealand. So, I am on the lookout for sweet recipes from our NZ food blogging community. You can be a New Zealander living here or overseas. You can be from overseas and living in New Zealand. Just give me something sweet, please. Take it away - I am looking forward to seeing what you come up with.

Sweet New Zealand is open to all food bloggers living in New Zealand (even if you are not a New Zealander), as well as all Kiwi food bloggers who live overseas.
You can enter with anything sweet - cakes, cookies, desserts, or even drinks. 
You can submit as many entries as you like and they don't have to be new blog posts. 
Your entry must contain the phrase Sweet New Zealand and have the Sweet New Zealand badge (you can copy and save the one on this page).
Your entry must link to the host (me!) and to this post. If you're submitting an old post remember to update it with the phrase, badge and links.

Enter now
Email your entries to me at flatwhite233(at)xtra(dot)co(dot)nz by 30 October, with the following:

Your name
Your blog name
A link to your blog
A link to the blog post you're entering
A photo from the post
The name of the recipe and a brief description

Sweet New Zealand - September

Here's a link to last month's Sweet New Zealand round up at Mummy Do It

Friday, October 3, 2014

Asparagus Tarts

If it's Spring (in New Zealand anyway), it must be asparagus season. 

Being a semi-reluctant vegetable eater, I like my vegetables adorned with extras (think cauliflower in a cheese sauce), so I usually roast asparagus with olive oil, garlic and lemon zest (see below). Taking this embellishment a (big) step further, I'm delighted to say they taste just wonderful in this creamy filling wrapped in a rich pastry.

These tarts are ideal for lunch (or a simple supper dish). Serve with a lightly dressed salad of bitter greens such as rocket, red leaf lettuce, watercress, radicchio and endive, for contrast.

Asparagus Tarts 


350g plain flour
½ tsp salt
200g butter
4-5 tbsp cold water


1 bunch cooked asparagus*
300ml single cream
2 egg yolks
sea salt & ground pepper
pinch nutmeg or freshly grated nutmeg

* For extra flavour, I roast mine in the oven with a drizzle of olive oil, crushed garlic and lemon zest for 12-15 minutes but you can boil the spears lightly in salted water until tender.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C.

Sift the flour and salt into a mixing bowl.  Add 175g of the butter and rub it into the flour with your fingertips.  Add the water and bind to a dough.

Roll the dough out on to a lightly floured board and cut to the size of your tart tins. I used four mini tart tins with a base diameter of 8.5cm and a top diameter of 11.5cm. 

Line the base of the tins with a circle of baking paper (I do this even though I use non-stick tins - just in case!).  Using a fork, prick the base of each tart then place the tart tins on a baking tray and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.  Remove the tray with the tart tins from the oven while you prepare the filling.  Turn the oven down to 180 degrees C. 

Cut the asparagus to fit and divide between the tins.  Whisk the cream and egg yolks together and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.  Pour the mix carefully and evenly amongst the tins. Depending on the size of your tins, you may have some left over.

Return the tarts to the oven and bake for 15 minutes until filling has set.  The filling should be just set and no more.

Serve with a lightly dressed salad of bitter greens.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Creme Caramel - slow baked

I have had a severe multi-dose of procrastination, indecisiveness and writer's block - all of which I am going to use as my excuse for the long gap from the last post. It's not all hopeless. I got over the indecisiveness when I ticked the voting paper today for the NZ general election.  I also knew whether I would have voted aye or nae for Scottish independence but sadly expat Scots, who really still care about their beloved country's future, were not given the vote.

Back home when I was a child I would not have given the vote to creme caramels.  I hated them with a passion and don't remember why.  I think it was just the taste, which is everything really.

Late last year in Ortolana restaurant, I ordered a salted caramel flan and got it into my head that I was ordering a pastry tart filled with custard and strawberries (I know, I'm a little mixed up at times). I had to be convinced I had ordered it when it arrived and glumly tried it.  It was nice in the way that it was better than I'd expected but wasn't quite what I'd had in mind.

So it still seems a little strange that I'd want to make these creme caramels, but I had half a tin of sweetened condensed milk I wanted to use and, bingo, saw this recipe and thought "why not?". (Be assured I don't vote for political parties in the same flippant manner.)

The result is that the caramel sauce worked (I thought I'd burnt it at first), the custard set, they were easy to bake and looked pretty good (but would look much prettier with some added decoration e.g. fresh or marinated strawberries which I didn't have). 

Once baked, they just had to languish overnight in the fridge. Ideal for do-ahead desserts. Oh, and I did like them and can't imagine why I didn't before?

Creme Caramels

Makes 4

1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 a 400g tin of sweetened condensed milk
1/2 tsp vanilla essence

Turn your slow cooker onto the HIGH setting.  Pour in 2 cups of hot tap water.  

Lightly spray or grease 4 ramekins, cups or small bowls (which can hold 3/4 cup of water). Check beforehand that they fit in the slow cooker (I used two upturned tiny soy sauce bowls to allow two of the ramekins to be at a different level so they would all fit in).

For the caramel: Heat the sugar over moderate heat in a medium saucepan, preferably with a pouring spout.  DO NOT STIR.  Tilt the pan carefully to ensure all the sugar melts evenly and turns golden brown. As soon as it reaches that stage and still without stirring, pour equal amounts into the bottoms of the ramekins.

Place the eggs, milk, condensed milk and vanilla into a mixing jug or bowl and beat until combined but not frothy. Pour this mixture through a fine sieve into the ramekins.

Carefully place the filled ramekins into the slow cooker.  Put the lid back on the slow cooker and turn the setting to LOW. Cook for 4 hours or until custards set.

Once set, turn off the slow cooker and carefully lift out the bowls.  Cover with plastic film and leave overnight in the fridge.  Remove from the fridge half an hour before serving.

To turn out the custards, run a small palette knife or similar, around the top.  I turned them out onto a flat, stainless steel pastry scraper so I could easily transfer them to a serving plate. Otherwise you can scoop them out onto your hand (I did not trust myself with this!).

And there you have it, a caramel topped custard with a pool of caramel sauce.

Recipe from Slow Cookers & Crockpots by Simon & Alison Holst

This is my entry for September's Sweet New Zealand hosted by Karen at Mummy Do It (I remember those words!).

Friday, August 22, 2014

Chocolate & Hazelnut Caramel Slice

Chocolate & Hazelnut Caramel Slice 

Well, here I am on my wonderful work-free Friday.  Work, that is, in the paid sense.  The other unpaid kind is what’s eating away at my day today.  That, and the incessant pull of social media just in case I’m missing something interesting. I often wonder how I get more done when I have less time at home but I already know the answer. So I’ll just call it pottering and look upon it as a form of relaxation.

I’ve been listening to a radio discussion on Retired Husband Syndrome (RHS) that made me laugh out loud. A study has found that many women with a retired husband at home suffered stress related symptoms such as insomnia, headaches and depression (and presumably extra work cleaning up after the husband’s “bright ideas” or projects?).  As I was chortling away (in my defense, it was presented in a humorous tone), a certain thread of trepidation crept in, making me realize I too would find it difficult not to have my cherished “home alone” time. It’s a long way off but I am thankful then to have a large shed where he can mess around until his heart is content and I won’t be setting foot in or cleaning it.  Whew!

One thing I did achieve today was making this slice.  I’d been thinking of driving 20 minutes to experience a similar one at a local cafĂ© but decided to stay put, brew a good coffee and make this using some leftover chocolate ganache and sweetened condensed milk I had in the fridge.  I’m glad I did.

The recipe comes from the Little & Friday cookbook given to me as a Christmas present last year. Eight months later, I hadn’t baked one single thing from it so it was time to change that. 

It’s a wonderfully gooey, fudgy, chocolate slice.  I expected it to be similar to Millionaire’s Shortbread (my recipe here) but the chocolate base and caramel & hazelnut filling are both different and gorgeous and I love the hazelnuts. Not surprisingly it’s an “in demand” best-seller for Little & Friday.

I'm entering this for Sweet New Zealand, hosted this month by Munch Cooking.

Chocolate & Hazelnut Caramel Slice 


175g butter, softened
2 cups icing sugar
½ tsp vanilla essence
1 egg
½ cup good quality cocoa
1½ cups plain flour
½ tsp salt


2 x 395g tins sweetened condensed milk
200ml golden syrup
100g butter
1 cup roasted hazelnuts*, chopped


¾ cup chocolate ganache

*To roast hazelnuts, heat oven to 180°C.  Place hazelnuts on a baking tray and bake for 10 minutes.  Leave to cool.  Rub hazelnuts briskly in a tea towel to remove the skin and chop into about quarters.


Preheat the oven to 150°C. Grease and line a 25cm square tin (leave an overlap of baking paper lining for easier removal from tin).

Place the butter, icing sugar and vanilla in a cake mixer and beat until light and fluffy.  Add the egg and beat until well combined. Sift the cocoa, flour and salt together and add to the mix, again until well combined.

Press the mix firmly and evenly into the base of the baking tin.  Bake for 10-15 minutes in the centre of the oven.

While the base is cooking, prepare the filling by combining the condensed milk, golden syrup, butter and hazelnuts into a saucepan.  Heat slowly over a low heat then pour over the cooked base. 

Return the base and filling to the oven and cook for a further 15 minutes or until set.  Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

Once cool, spread a thin layer of hot chocolate ganache over the top.  I removed the base and filling from the baking tin before I spread the ganache on top.

Once the ganache has set, use a sharp knife to cut into squares or slices. Dip the knife in hot water and wipe off with paper towel between each cut for easier slicing.

Ganache (makes 1 cup – use ¾ cup for above recipe) 

200g good quality dark chocolate (I use Whittaker’s 72% Dark Ghana)
½ cup cream

Gently melt the chocolate and cream in a metal bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (the water should not touch the bowl).  Stir until melted and smooth.  Leave to cool and thicken. 

Leftover ganache can be stored in the fridge for up to two weeks (or eaten by the spoonful if you are so inclined!).

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Ginger & Sultana Loaf

I'm a huge fan of very dark, sticky and spicy gingerbread and the last time I baked one, I posted it way back in 2011 here, so it's been a long wait...

Unlike the earlier gingerbread, this one won't knock your socks off, but it is a good, moist loaf with chunks of stem ginger and sultanas. If you can, use stem ginger (I used Opies Stem Ginger in Syrup which comes in a jar) as it really adds to the flavour of the loaf.  If not, leave it out (you'll still get the taste from the ground ginger) or use chopped crystallized ginger instead. 

Like most gingerbread loaves it improves with age over a week but as noted in my last gingerbread post, I've never tested that theory as nothing ever lasts that long (unless it's inedible).

And, as I've used one in my photo, let me just say how much I love hellebores or winter roses. I have little clumps of them under trees and their hidden beauty always makes me smile. One trick I learned from an English home and garden magazine was to leave the picked hellebores somewhere midway between the cold outside and warmth inside (the entrance way works for us) to let them adjust to a warmer temperature.  They then won't droop so quickly when they feel the heat. Me? I never droop in the heat - bring it on!

Ginger & Sultana Loaf

100g butter
100g dark cane (or soft brown) sugar
100g treacle
1 egg, beaten
200g plain flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
150ml warm milk
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
50g sultanas
2 pieces of stem ginger, chopped (optional)
(I add any syrup clinging to the stem ginger too - nice & sticky!) 

Preheat the oven to 150 degrees C. 

Grease and line a loaf tin.

Place the butter, sugar and treacle in a saucepan and heat gently until melted, stirring constantly.  Allow to cool slightly, then beat in the egg.

Sift the flour and spices into a mixing bowl, then stir in the melted mixture and beat well to combine.

Mix the milk with the bicarbonate of soda and add this to the mix.  Stir in the sultanas and the stem ginger. 

Pour the mixture into the loaf tin and bake for 1 hour or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Leave to cool in the tin.