February 24, 2012

Chewy Chocolate Caramel Slice

This slice is seriously naughty. And yummy. Imagine a crunchy biscuit base, followed by a chewy caramel and sweet chocolate...mmmm just delicious. I actually couldn't believe myself that I have never made or even TRIED a chocolate caramel slice before. That's until I finally did when I had some guests coming over and as usual, I searched taste.com.au for sweet recipes that I could try making. Then I found this chocolate caramel slice and realised that from the rave reviews, I literally had to make it right away without delay. So for the taste test, I let my mother have some but surprisingly she didn't really like it though because it was too sweet and too "fattening". But I loved it and even the friends I shared them with devoured over it.

For this recipe, I decided to leave out the desiccated coconut in the biscuit base and put milk chocolate for the topping instead of dark because I though that it would overpower the rest of the slice. As long as you follow the instructions to a tee, you're likely not to have any problems, such as the caramel not setting. It's not that hard to make, but it does require some time and some patience to make each of the layers separately. I admit that the caramel filling was probably the most hardest out of all of the layers since I don't make them regularly. It was quite a boring process for me because I had to stand there and keep stirring the caramel for about 10 mins until it finally thickened up. And you can't boil it to make it cook faster either. But it doesn't give you burns like the traditional caramels though because its made out of condensed milk.

You could use any square or rectangular tin you like, but if you want thicker layers like mine, use a small rectangular tin. The bigger the tin, the thinner the layers. It's up to you to choose but personally, I kinda liked the proportions of the layers as it is like a bar instead of a slice. Maybe I should try a bigger tin next time...

Its okay if you're eating small pieces at time (it reminds me of chocolate bars) but eating huge pieces can make you feel...too...sugary. So, for all the sweet tooths out there, this slice is a great treat for a quick sugar fix but not so great for health fanatics!

Chewy Chocolate Caramel Slice adapted from the taste website


Biscuit base
190g (1 1/4 cups) self-raising flour
70g (1/3 cup) brown sugar
120g butter, melted

Caramel filling
1 x 395g can sweetened condensed milk
70g (1/3 cup) brown sugar
60g butter

Chocolate topping
200 g milk chocolate, chopped or broken into pieces
Half of 1/3 cup or 1/6 cup thickened cream


1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Brush a 13 x 30cm loaf pan or any square or rectangular tin with melted butter to lightly grease. Line the base with baking paper, allowing the sides to overhang.

2. To make the biscuit base, combine the flour and sugar in a bowl. Add the melted butter and stir until just combined. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan and press firmly over the base. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven.

3. *Meanwhile, make the caramel filling by combining the condensed milk, sugar and butter in a medium saucepan over a low heat. Cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, for 8 minutes or more until caramel thickens but try not to boil the mixture.

4. Pour the hot caramel over the biscuit base. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until caramel begins to bubble and has formed a skin on the surface. Remove from oven and set aside for about 1 hour to cool down slightly.

5. To make the chocolate topping, place the chocolate and cream in a double boiler (put a heatproof bowl on top of a fitting saucepan with water) over low heat and stir with a metal spoon for 3 to 4 minutes until the chocolate melts and mixture is smooth. Pour the chocolate mixture evenly over the caramel and use a spatula or knife to smooth the surface. Place in the fridge for 1 to 2 hours until  it is set and cut into pieces to serve.

*Notes: It's very important that you keep stirring the caramel over a low heat with patience until it slowly oozes of the spoon and has a thick consistensy with a caramel colour. This may take more than 8 minutes. Otherwise it will not set and ruin the whole slice which will become just like a caramel sauce.

February 19, 2012

Strawberry Swirl Ice Cream Slice

One word for this dish, DELICIOUS! Flicking through my collection of cookbooks (I only have 3 though), I found a recipe that instantly caught my attention and I wanted to create it straight away. The name is the Strawberry Swirl Ice Cream Slice. Slices of vanilla ice cream with strawberry cream swirled together to create a wonderful combination. Strawberries and cream really go well together. Originally, the recipe had raspberries in it and it required bought vanilla ice cream. But I changed it a little by swapping the main hero of the ice cream, the raspberries for the strawberries as well as making my Easy Peasy Ice Cream recipe that I use most of the time. You can tell by now how much I love this recipe. It is super easy and makes creamy ice cream without the hard effort.

Now, back to the ice cream. Photographing this was quite tricky as the ice cream started to melt (it was a little hot that day) really quickly. I had to put it back in the freezer again to take photos when some of it melted in a puddle. But the melted ice cream actually tasted like a good milkshake though. So make sure you store it in the freezer like any other ice cream and serve it right away. This specific recipe would need to be frozen overnight before serving (its worth the wait) and it is yummy on its own or with fresh strawberries and pouring cream. You can also have as many slices as you want but I suggest 2 slices would be good.

Strawberry Swirl Ice Cream Slice


250g (9oz) strawberries*
1 litre (35 fl oz/4 cups) good-quality vanilla ice cream*
250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) thickened cream
Extra strawberries and cream to serve (optional)


1. Line the base and sides of a 1.75 litre loaf tin with plastic wrap or foil.

2. Puree the strawberries in a food processor or blender until smooth. Meanwhile, transfer the ice cream from the freezer to the fridge to allow to soften.

Ruby red strawberries
3. Whisk the cream until soft peaks form and fold the strawberry puree into the cream until combined and pink in colour.

Strawberry cream
4. Pour the mixture into a metal freezer tray and cover it with plastic wrap* before putting it into the freezer to cool. Stir occasionally until thick and remove from the freezer after half frozen and beat well.

5. Spoon blobs of softened vanilla ice cream over the base of the prepared loaf tin. Spoon the strawberry mixture between the ice cream blobs. Then use a sharp knife or skewer to swirl the two mixtures together while being careful to not dig into the plastic or foil. Cover the tin tightly with plastic wrap.

6. Freeze for 2 hours or until half frozen and smooth the top of the ice cream. Freeze overnight until set. Serve straight away as scoops or slices with extra strawberries and cream.

*Notes: You can use more strawberries if you want to give it a stronger flavour and colour or use any other berry like raspberries. You could also make your own homemade ice cream using your favourite recipe for the vanilla ice cream. The plastic wrap prevents the ice cream from having ice crystals in it which can ruin the texture of the ice cream. I'm sure everyone likes creamy but not icy ice cream.

February 15, 2012

Double-Decker Ice Cream Cake

I have been waiting a while to find the perfect occasion to make an ice cream cake. Since I've seen them on other blogs, I dreamed of having layers of my favourite ice cream flavours in the form of a massive cake. And then the time came when my friends came over. This was the result: beautiful layers of vanilla and chocolate ice cream with a chocolate biscuit base and brownie. Did I also mention a milk chocolate ganache and white chocolate shavings!? That seems to be a mouthful of words and A LOT of calories but it tasted heavenly. It was really heavy to carry in and out of the freezer though (a good workout for the arms!). Me and my friends actually couldn't finish one big piece because it was quite filling but I did see their eyes sparkle and their mouths open when they saw it. Even my mother called it a masterpiece (she doesn't usually like chocolate). And can I tell you, it was so HARD to cut so next time I would have to dip the knife into hot water to cut it more easily.

What did you say? How did I make it? Well, it was probably the most time consuming and challenging cake I have ever done because it is ice cream, so it needs to be kept in the freezer to prevent it from melting into a gooey puddle as well as ruining the other layers. There are also many elements to this cake so I had to start making it the day before my friends were due to visit and it took me almost all day. I'm warning you, for those who want to lose weight shouldn't try this, because it made us (including me) feeling bloated and really full afterwards. But it really is the best cake I've ever made so far and it did leave the guests happy. If you still want to go ahead and create this, I suggest serving small pieces and eating them a little at a time, although it does look tempting doesn't it?
For the cake, I used Rosie of Sweetapolita's recipe as a guide and adapted it to become a little bit more complicated. But of course you could follow her recipe if you would like to recreate her cake. I changed the instructions a bit below though if you would prefer making this. I made homemade ice cream, which I used the 2 batches of the same recipe as my Easy Peasy Ice Cream but you could buy it if you don't have enough time. I kept the first layer plain vanilla and the other layer with some nutella in it to make it chocolatey. I didn't add chocolate to the sides and to the biscuit base though like Rosie did because I thought it had enough chocolate in it. I also made the brownie but cut it into half as it was pretty thick and as a result, my poor springform cake pan nearly overflowed with all of the layers.

Double-Decker Ice Cream Cake
Adapted from Sweetapolita's Double Chocolate & Banana Ice Cream Cake:

Biscuit base
1/2 cup (1 stick, 115 g, 4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 packages chocolate biscuits (9 ounce/255 g packages totaling 14.5 ounces/382 g) OR 14.5 ounces/382 g of Oreo cookie crumbs

Ice cream filling
3 1/2 cups of vanilla ice cream, slightly softened
3 1/2 cups of chocolate ice cream, slightly softened

Chocolate ganache
1/2 cup (4 liquid ounces) whipping cream (heavy cream, 35%)
6 ounces (170 g) premium bittersweet (extra dark) or semisweet (dark) chocolate
White chocolate shavings (optional)

6 1/2 ounces (185 g) bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I used 3/4 cup cocoa powder instead but if you're using the chocolate, omit the cocoa)
1 1/2 sticks (173 g) unsalted butter
1 2/3 (332 g) cups sugar
1 cup (140 g) all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon (5 mL) pure vanilla extract
pinch of salt

Biscuit base
1. Grind the chocolate biscuits in a food processor until they become fine crumbs (unless you are using store-bought cookie crumbs).

2. Gently stir cookie crumbs into the melted butter until just combined. Set 1 cup (8 liquid ounces) of the mixture aside, and press remaining crumbs onto the bottom of an 8-inch round springform pan. Place in freezer until firm.

1. Preheat oven to 163°C. Line an 8″ round pan with baking paper (leave some overhang for easy removal).

2. Melt the butter (and chocolate if you want) in a heatproof bowl over a small pot of simmering water. Stir occasionally until melted and smooth.

3. Remove bowl from the heat, and add the sugar, stirring until well incorporated. Add the flour (and cocoa if you're not using chocolate) and stir until well combined. Lastly, stir in the eggs, vanilla, and salt, and mix until thick and smooth.

4. Spread the batter among your pan evenly with a small offset palette knife and bake until the surface of the brownie is cracking and flaky for about 30 minutes. The centre of the brownie may not be cooked, but it will harden when it cools.

5. Cool it completely in pan on wire rack. Chill in pan, then remove using baking overhang.

1. Warm cream in small saucepan over medium heat until it just begins to bubble.

2. Add chocolate and whisk gently until smooth. Let it cool for about 45 minutes.

1. Spoon the chocolate ice cream onto the frozen crust and spread evenly with an offset palette knife (you will want to place the bowl of remaining ice cream into the freezer while you work on the first half).

2. Sprinkle and gently press the reserved crumb mixture on top, followed by one of the halved brownie layer. Freeze for about an hour.

3. Place remaining ice cream on top, and then the other brownie layer and freeze for about 4 hours.
4. Warm bowl of glaze over simmering water until it is pourable but not too warm.

5. Spread over top of the whole cake with the small offset palette knife.

6. Sprinkle with chocolate shavings or your own decorations while the ganache is still wet. Freeze overnight.

7. Loosen sides of cake with a small knife between pan and cake, then release from springform pan, and place on plate or cake stand.

*Note that if you don't want to include the brownie, simply omit it but it adds a chewy texture to the cake and it heightens the other flavours. You can use a different biscuit base or add your own ice cream flavours instead of vanilla and chocolate to the cake. The options are endless so be creative!

Easy Peasy Ice Cream

This is the EASIEST ice cream recipe I've ever tried. Being a lover of ice cream, I was checking out recipes that I could use for my new ice cream maker when I came across Chocolatesuze's Super easy ice cream recipe. There are only 3 ingredients to the basic vanilla ice cream but you can add other ingredients to make your favourite ice cream flavour or anything else that tickles your fancy. The result is a super smooth and creamy texture that melts in your mouth. Its really amazing what cream can do. It is also completely egg yolk free (no more separating eggs or throwing egg whites!), with no cooking and can be made without an ice cream maker. It's that easy! So if you want to make your own ice cream but don't want to use the regular custard-based ice cream recipe or go to your favourite ice cream shop, this is the one to go!

Easy Peasy Ice Cream recipe:

600 ml thickened cream
300 ml can of condensed milk
1 tsp of vanilla extract
*Try adding flavourings like fruit puree, chocolate, green tea powder, nutella, maple syrup, cookies, lollies...the additions and options are absolutely endless!
*Use only half a can of condensed milk if you are adding anything that already has sugar in it like chocolate otherwise it will be too sweet. Because no one likes their ice cream super sweet.

1. Whip the cream with an electric mixer (or a whisk but it's easier for a machine to do it for you!) until it reaches soft peaks and doubles in volume.
2. Add the condensed milk and vanilla extract.

3. Combine the ingredients together along with your desired flavourings.
4. Pour into a freezer friendly container or split it into different containers if you want to make other flavours.
5. Freeze for a few hours and beat the mixture again to airate the ice cream but if you are too lazy to do that, you can omit this step.
6. Freeze overnight and serve it as scoops or slices with your favourite toppings, enjoy!

Note that if you have an ice cream maker like me, churn the ice cream according to manufacturer's instructions and omit steps 4 to 5.

February 12, 2012

Dreamy Rainbow Cupcakes

Oh wow! Look! I can see rainbow cupcakes in the pink sky?! These cupcakes are the result of me experimenting with applying colours on cupcakes. But seriously, they are really colourful and most importantly, DELICIOUS. Not only do they consist of four pastel colours, but underneath the rainbow is a yummy chocolate cupcake. Today I was feeling quite colourful so I wanted to create something that expressed my feelings. First I planned to put rainbow colours inside the cupcake, but then I realised that I still have some leftover from the Rich Chocolate Cupcakes I made before. So why not put the rainbow outside and on top of the cupcakes instead? Luckily, they worked perfectly with the bright colours.

I made the rainbows by dividing the frosting into different bowls and adding food gel colouring to each of them. Then I piped bands of the colours beside each other on the cupcake (with no piping tip, but if you don't have enough piping bags for each of them like me, you can put them in zip lock bags and cut one end off). Smooth it out with a spatula to blend in the colours a bit. As you can see here, my colours don't look that smooth. In fact, it almost looks like I painted them with my acrylic paints which is most likely because I added a little too much colouring. 

I used a cream cheese frosting for this but I think I added too much milk which made it slightly runny. I was also in a hurry to make them and take photos of these beauties so I apologize if it looks weird and not perfect. You could also use other food gel colours to get the rainbow effect or try another frosting like buttercream because cream cheese does not hold its shape very well after piping.

Oh, I am so in love with the glossy colours of the rainbows on my favourite cupcakes.

For the frosting, I used Glorious Treats' Cream Cheese Frosting:

Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting
½ cup (1 stick/8 Tablespoons) butter (set at room temp about 10 minutes, but should still be cool)
8 oz. cream cheese (directly from fridge)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (always use pure vanilla extract if possible)
4 cups powdered confectioners sugar
1 to 4 Tablespoons heavy cream, heavy whipping cream (or milk- although I do like the richness that cream adds)

*Place butter in a large mixing bowl and blend slightly. Add cream cheese and blend until combined, about 30 seconds.
*Add vanilla extract and powdered sugar and blend on low speed until combined. Increase to medium speed and beat until it begins to get fluffy.
*Slowly add the heavy cream, a little bit at a time until desired consistency is met. (Don't add too much if you want the frosting to stay in place when piped on cupcakes.)
*Beat until fluffy, about 1 minute.
*Use at once or keep refrigerated. (This frosting will keep well in the refrigerator for several days, but you may need to re-beat it for the best texture.)

Rich Chocolate Cupcakes

I've been searching for the perfect chocolate cupcake recipe ever since I started baking more but failed to find the one...until I came across Raspberri Cupcakes's recipe of Devil's Food Cupcakes with Raspberry Buttercream. Wow! What a knockout, after eagerly taking a bite on one, I declared it my favourite chocolate cupcake which was rich, fluffy and simply delicious. The Swiss Meringue Buttercream was a first for me, and I've heard many people having problems with it after reading it from other blogs. But, nonetheless, I decided to try it out but left the out the raspberries just for practice and I was crossing my fingers the whole time. When it curdled into a yucky mess, my heart stopped and I quickly revved up the mixer which then became silky smooth and beautifully light in the mouth. Even though it tasted really buttery which is because I'm maybe not used to it, it still was the star on the cupcake.

And the cupcakes with the buttercream tasted so good together. I hope you excuse my scary-looking swirl but maybe its because of the violet food colouring I added which kinda made it look more like a grey colour. But of course I really need to improve my decorating and piping skills because I just purchased a piping tip set online.

Surprisingly, I made enough batter to make 20 cupcakes so here's the recipe from Raspberri Cupcakes:

Devil's Food Cupcakes with Raspberry Buttercream
(Makes about 14-15 cupcakes, adapted from David Lebovitz's Devil's Food Cake recipe)
9 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Dutch-process)
1 1/2 cups cake flour (not self-raising, I just used plain flour)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp bicarb soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups caster sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup strong coffee (or water)
1/2 cup whole or low-fat milk

For the Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
4 large egg whites
1 cup caster sugar
250g (about 1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
(If you're new to making Swiss meringue buttercream, these wonderful tutorials from two of my favourite bloggers will help)

Line cupcake tray with cupcake papers and preheat oven to 180°C (350°F). Sift together the cocoa powder, flour, salt, bicarb soda, and baking powder in a bowl. Using an electric mixer with a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter and sugar about 5 minutes until smooth and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time until fully incorporated.

Mix together the coffee and milk. Stir half of the dry ingredients into the butter mixture, the add the coffee and milk. Finally stir in the other half of the dry ingredients. Spoon into cupcake cases, filling about 2/3rds full. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of a cupcake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool in tin about 5 mins, then place on a wire rack and cool completely before icing.

To prepare the buttercream, Whisk together egg white and sugar in a large heatproof bowl. Clip a candy thermometer to side of bowl. Set bowl over a pan of simmering water, and whisk until mixture reaches 160°F and sugar has dissolved, about 5 minutes.

With a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg white mixture on high speed until cooled and thick, about 5 minutes. Reduce speed to medium, and add butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until incorporated after each addition. If mixture is runny at this point, refrigerate for 10 minutes and then continue beating until it starts to hold its shape (this can take a while). Beat in vanilla. Place in a piping bag and ice cupcakes. Serve immediately. Can be stored in an airtight container for a couple days.

February 11, 2012

Aqua macarons and a brand new blog!

Woohoo! I've finally decided to put myself together and create a new blog to share you my baking creations and adventures as well as my love of photography. To celebrate the grand opening of which I hope to be a successful blog in the future, I recently tried my first attempt at making macarons with a vanilla buttercream sandwiched between them. They're made with mainly almond meal and egg whites that are deliciously crunchy and chewy. If you have never made them before, I suggest that you should make them soon as they're so worth trying!

Here are the aqua macarons:

For the recipe, I decided to follow the instructions of the beautiful and amazing blog, Raspberri Cupcakes. The person behind this blog is Steph, a talented and creative baker known to making lots of macarons.

Instead of the piggy macarons which Steph made, I decided to just make simple round macarons as a first attempt and coloured them with blue and green food colouring for the aqua colour. You can definitely try combining different colours together but don't go too crazy on that!

Recipe from Raspberri Cupcakes:

Piggy Macarons
(makes approximately 10-15 fairly large macarons)
100g aged egg whites (you can use fresh eggs too, just make sure they are room temperature. I always use fresh these days, and zap it in the microwave on defrost for 10 seconds)
110g almond meal, dried in a cool (100 degrees C) oven for 5 minutes and sifted
200g icing sugar
50g caster sugar
Optional: 1 tsp powdered egg whites (available from The Essential Ingredient)

Vanilla butter icing:
100g unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
200g icing sugar, sifted
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste

To decorate: liquid black food colouring (available from the supermarket) or edible ink pens

Line two baking sheets with baking paper. Place icing sugar in food processor and pulse for a minute to remove any lumps. Stir in almond meal and pulse a few times to combine. Place in a large mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites and egg white powder in a medium mixing bowl until the egg white powder dissolves and it reaches soft peaks. With the mixer on high speed, gradually add sugar and beat until it reaches stiff peaks.

Add meringue (and powdered food colouring) to your dry mixture and mix, quickly at first to break down the bubbles in the egg white, then fold carefully as the dry mixture becomes incorporated and it starts to become shiny again. Take care not to overmix, the mixture should flow like lava and a streak of mixture spread over the surface of the rest of the mixture should disappear after about 30 seconds. Place in a piping bag and pipe rounds of about 4cm diameter on lined baking sheets or silicon baking mats. Gently rap your baking sheets on your bench top to remove any extra bubbles from your piped shells.

Leave shells on bench to dry for about 30 mins to an hour, so that when you press the surface of one gently it does not break. Take care not to disrupt the dried surface of the piped macaron rounds or it will be more likely to crack in the oven.

Preheat your oven to 140-150 degrees C (temperature varies depending on your oven) and dry for a further 30 mins to an hour. Place on top of an overturned roasting tray or another baking sheet if they are not professional grade. Bake for 13-15 minutes, depending on the size of your shells. Remove from the oven and cool on the tray for a few minutes, then gently remove from the sheet and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
To prepare the butter icing, remove butter from the fridge 30 minutes before starting. Beat butter on high speed with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add icing sugar and vanilla bean paste until smooth and fluffy. Using a knife or spoon, sandwich between macaron shells, using one piggy decorated shell and one plain shell.  Leave to dry and then refrigerate overnight. Can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for several days. Serve at room temperature.
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