Day 11: Cherry Nosed Reindeers

Today’s fun Christmas activity involved a little bit of baking and a whole lot of decorating to create gorgeous cherry nosed reindeers.

The reindeer biscuits are gingerbread, cut out using a gingerbread man cutter turned upside down. How easy is that!

I did the baking (using the Gingerbread man recipe on Taste.com) and the boys came in to help with the decorating. We had a real production line.

Hamish was in charge of the eyes. I used Queens Chocolate Fudge decorating pen to put little spots on the biscuit. Hamish then carefully placed a white chocolate disc on top and the chocolate fudge once set held it in place. One more spot of fudge and then the dark choc bit was added to create real reindeer eyes.

Will was in charge of the red nose.  Again, a dot of chocolate fudge once dried held the cherry nose in place. 

Finally I drew on the antlers, again using the chocolate fudge decorating pen.

Hamish and Will both had a turn at adding antlers to their biscuits. It’s a little tricky but they did a great job.

The cherries turned out to be a little too tempting for the helpers so some deer had to have smarty noses instead.

The Ying and Yang of Chocolate Chip Cookies

It’s all about balance, right! Organic Quinoa and Chocolate Chip Cookies…a little bit of good and a little bit of bad. OK – let’s face it…it’s a whole lot of bad with a smidgen of good. But they taste fantastic.

I found the recipe for these on Honest to Goodness and made a few minor modifications as I didn’t have all of the ingredients they suggested. Here’s the recipe I followed.

250g of butter (softened)
1 cup wholemeal plain flour
1 cup white plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup raw sugar
2 & 1/2 cups organic quinoa flakes
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
250g of chocolate chips

Method
Cream butter and sugar together. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix together flours, baking powder, salt, and quinoa.  Add these dry ingredients slowly to the butter mixture. Stir through the chocolate chips. Bake for about 10 – 15 minutes at 180 degrees celcius.  Makes 32 medium sized biscuits.

They are absolutely deliciously (especially warm – straight from the oven) and a great way to incorporate a little bit of goodness in a naughty treat!

A Simple Lunch with the Girls

Today I had a few friends over to see the latest Christmas range from Phoenix trading. They have some gorgeous Advent Calendars and Christmas gift cards I was keen to purchase. 
 
I wanted to put on a lunch for the girls but I have just been so busy at work I really wanted to keep it simple. So I made some sandwiches, a jug of punch and a cake. Simple recipes that are truly delicious all from taste.com.au.

Chicken and Herb Sandwiches (based on this recipe)  

Makes 36

Fresh rocket, chives, parsley, basil

3 chicken breasts, poached
1 cup whole-egg mayonnaise
1 lime, rind finely grated, juiced
1 loaf white sandwich sliced bread
1 loaf wholemeal sandwich sliced bread
80g baby rocket, roughly chopped
3/4 cup mixed herb leaves (I used fresh basil, chives and parsley from the garden), finely chopped

  1. Finely chop chicken. Place into a bowl. Add mayonnaise, lime rind, lime juice, and salt and pepper. Stir until well combined.
  2. Lay one piece of white bread on top of one piece of brown bread and cut the crusts off – cutting through both pieces. This will ensure both slices of bread are the same size. 
  3. Spread 1 heaped tablespoonful of chicken mixture onto the brown bread.  Top with the white bread.
  4. Cut each sandwich into 3 fingers. Place onto a platter and cover with a clean damp tea towel. Repeat with remaining ingredients. Cover with plastic wrap (over the damp tea towel). Refrigerate until required.

 

Guava and Lime Punch (based on this recipe)

This is the virgin version of the Guava and Lime Cocktail.  It was a very refreshing start to a Friday lunch before a glass of bubbles.  I’m looking forward to trying the Cocktail version another day.

2 limes, coarsely chopped
1 x 1L btl guava nectar
500ml (2 cup) ginger beer, chilled
500ml (2 cups) gingerale
Fresh mint 
Crushed ice, to serve

  1. Place the lime in a mortar and use a pestle to gently pound until crushed.
  2. Place the guava nectar, ginger beer, gingerale, lime and any juice from the mortar in a large jug. Stir until combined. Add fresh mint.
  3. Fill serving glasses with ice. Pour the guava mixture evenly among the glasses. Serve immediately.

Classic Chocolate Cake (from taste.com.au)

1 1/3 cups (200g) plain flour
2 tbs cocoa
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
200g good-quality dark chocolate, chopped
225g unsalted butter, softened, chopped
1 cup (220g) caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 eggs
1/2 cup (125ml) milk
Chocolate ganache icing and chocolate curls, to decorate.

  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C. Grease and line a 24cm round springform cake pan.
  2. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda into a bowl. Set aside.
  3. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water (don’t let bowl touch water). Cool slightly.
  4. Beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. With beaters on medium speed, add vanilla, then add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Pour in cooled chocolate and beat until well combined. Beat in a third of sifted ingredients, followed by a third of the milk. Repeat until all ingredients are incorporated, beating until smooth.
  5. Pour mixture into the pan and bake for 45-55 minutes until risen and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes, then invert onto rack to cool completely.
  6. To serve, spread the icing over the top and sides of the cake using a hot palette knife, then decorate with chocolate curls.
  7. To make chocolate ganache: Melt 150g chopped good-quality dark chocolate with 125ml pure cream and 20g unsalted butter in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water (don’t let the bowl touch the water). Stir until well combined, then set aside for 30 minutes to cool and thicken before use.
  8. To make chocolate curls: Using a palette knife, spread melted chocolate 2-3mm thick on a hard clean surface such as a glass chopping board or marble slab that you can move. Stand at room temperature until almost set. Shave curls using a peeler or palette knife, pulling towards you at an angle. If the chocolate breaks, it is set too hard – leave in a warm place until more pliable. To make small curls, simply run a peeler along the side of a block of chocolate.

This cake was truly delicious and the website offers some really lovely variations for this basic recipe.

What a lovely day!

Spider Cup Cakes

Today my boys are having a sleepover at their cousin Jeremy’s house. Will decided it would be nice to make some spider cupcakes to take.  So we whipped up a batch of cupcakes using the super recipe from the pink cupcakes I made last week. Then we got to decorating. I still had a little rolled fondant left from my Dad’s caravan cake. We put this on the cupcakes as the base and then used clinkers for the body, licorice for the legs and Skittles and silver cachous for the eyes. 

They are very cute…but not transportable. The chocolates and licorice just kept sliding off so Will decided he would just eat the spider cupcakes now and we’d make Cherry Cupcakes for Jeremy and Hamish instead.

I hope Jeremy didn’t see this blog post!

Pink Cupcakes for Pink Ribbon Day

In honour of Pink Ribbon Day today, and my dear friend Rachel popping over for morning tea, I whipped up a batch of Pretty Sour-cream Cupcakes. That’s actually the name of the recipe, as opposed to a description of how I thought they looked.  But they did indeed look quite pretty and they tasted great – if I do say so myself!

And, I got to use my brand new cake dome. Isn’t it gorgeous!  I picked it up at Peter Baker Finch over the weekend.

If you aren’t, or haven’t already attended a Pink Ribbon event you can donate money and purchase some really lovely pink things via the Pink Ribbon Shop website.

My Nan’s Date Loaf

A few weeks back my Mum gave me a hand written recipe book that used to belong to my grandmother (in the guise of an old school exercise book).

In there I found a recipe for a date loaf, including a little note to highlight that it was ‘good’!

I had heard my Mum talk about this date loaf that my Nan would often make for her and her brother and sister to enjoy after school.

Infact, I even had in my baking tin collection the loaf tin, the metal ‘lid’ and rock that my grandmother used to make the perfect flat date loaf. 

 

I simply had to give the recipe a go. It was very simple and tastes quite delicious. Being the sentimental gal that I am I enjoyed it with a cup of tea using the cup, saucer and plate that was my Nan’s.

Neapolitan Cake

Today we went to visit my friend Nan, and her friend Danielle. Between us there were six kids so I decided to make a cake that was a favourite when I was a child – a Neapolitan Cake.

This recipe is from the July 2010 edition of Masterchef magazine, but is also available online.  I changed it slightly and divided the batter into three to make a more traditional marble – pink, chocolate and vanilla. Yum. Just add a few tablespoons of cocoa to the batter to create the chocolate batter.

Spoon the three batters into the cake pan & swirl with a skewer

The finished product

Cupcakes for the Cake Stall

This weekend our school is having a car boot sale. I have more stuff to get rid of than would fit in my car boot but unfortunately we can’t make it so my contribution to the school is some cupcakes to sell to those who can.

The cupcakes have all been delivered but we kept a few just to make sure they tasted OK…

And the results…

Passed (with honours)!

Recipe: Chocolate Cup Cakes from Jill Dupleix’s ‘Totally Simple Food’.

Rich Chocolate Fudge Biscuits

Rich chocolate fudge biscuit with a gooey caramel centre. If this sounds good you have to try these Caramel Fudge Cookies. It’s a simple concept – a Cadbury caramello roll chocolate surrounded by a rich chocolate biscuit dough baked in the oven. You’ll need a coffee to go with this and don’t expect to consume more than two in one sitting!

I cut the recipe out of Women’s Weekly 10 years back and have made it quite a few times over the years. I’ve even tried it with mint chocolate instead of caramel. Yum. I hope this recipe becomes one of your favourites too. Here it is:

Caramel Fudge Cookies

2 cups (300g) dark chocolate melts
60g butter
400g can sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 cups plain flour
60g toasted hazelnuts, chopped finely
3 x 55g rolls Caramello chocolate
60g toasted hazelnets, extra, coarsely chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Line oven trays with baking paper.

2. Combine the chocolate, butter and condensed milk in a medium saucepan, stir over low heat until mixture is smooth. Stir in the vanilla.

3. In a medium bowl combine the sifted flour and finely chopped  hazelnuts, then stir in the chocolate mixture.

4. Shape tablespoons of cookie mixture around a Caramello chocolate, then dip the top of each cookie into the extra hazelnuts. Place cookies, hazelnut-side up, on trays. Bake in a moderate oven for 9 minutes or until just set. The cookies will appear soft and shiny but will firm on cooling.

Cookies suitable to freeze baked or unbaked. Chocolate mixture suitable to microwave.

A Caravan Cake

My Dad is turning 70 on Monday so we are celebrating with a party this weekend. I offered to make the cake and given that my parents enjoy to spend their time caravaning I thought it was quite appropriate to make a caravan cake. It always seems exciting when I make the offer but in the hours leading up to the party when I actually start making it I find it quite daunting.  I have made lots of cakes over the years but I’ve never done a cake decorating course so my techniques are somewhat ‘rustic’.  Here’s the finished product. I hope he likes it.

Inspiration came from All Shapes and Slices. The cake recipe is The Womens’ Weekly White Chocolate Mud Cake.  It’s in the WW Celebration Cakes cook book, but also available here.

Now I just have to finish making my outfit for tomorrow? What are you planning to create this weekend?