Sunday, July 1, 2012

Chocolate and date torte

At a local cafe recently I spied an interesting chocolatey, nutty, cakey thing and decided I must try it.  It was the most delectable chocolate nut torte, with a smattering of dates, of all things.  Their chewy earthy sweetness melted beautifully with the chocolate and I immediately went home to try making one myself (the cafe would not give up their recipe!).  This recipe is a mish-mash of a few different torte recipes found all over the internet, but I think this is one of the simpler ways of throwing it together on short notice.


1 cup roughly chopped pitted dates (or any other dried fruit you like)
1 cup roughly chopped dark chocolate (or choc bits)
1 cup almond meal
4 egg whites
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (or any other nut)


Pre heat oven to 180C (or 160 fan-forced).  Line the bottom of a springform cake pan with baking paper. 

In a medium bowl, throw together the dates, chocolate, almond meal and nuts.  

In another bowl, beat together the egg whites and sugar until stiff peaks form.  

Fold the dry ingredients into the meringue, then spread into the cake pan.  

Bake for approx 45 minutes until lightly browned on top.  Cool, then remove cake from pan.  Serve with cream or ice-cream and a strong coffee.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Apple Tarte Tatin

Last picking season for Tim's family at their orchard before taking a well earned hiatus.  We visited several weekends ago - our first proper family roadtrip with little L - and collected some boxes of apples, possibly the last for some time.

I'm into simple these days, well, I always was.  But even more so now I have a little bub to tend to and waste lots of glorious time with.  I'd always meant to try making apple tarte tatin and found a simple recipe in an old cookbook, here it is (with slight modifications):

Apple Tarte Tatin:


110g salted butter
185g caster sugar
6 large royal gala apples, peeled, quartered and cored
1 slice pre made/rolled butter puff pastry, unfrozen


In a large non stick (and oven proof) frying pan, melt butter and add sugar.  Cook stirring for 5 minutes until sugar dissolves, then take it a bit further and let turn a golden brown colour.

Cook apples in two batches over low heat, approx 10 minutes each side.  Remove from pan and set aside.  Turn up the heat and cook the syrup until it goes from runny to a more sticky consistency.

Arrange the apples in the pan, then place the pastry on top, gently pushing down the edges with the back of a wooden spoon.  Place in a pre heated oven (220C) for approx 30 minutes or until pastry has turned golden.

Allow to cool a little then turn out onto a serving plate, serve with cream or ice cream.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

A new level of sickly decadence ... Tim Tam Cake!

Credit where credit is due.  I did not invent the tim tam cake; you can find the recipe here.

I did invent a crafty short-cut.  No-name brand cake mix, for sale at my local small supermarket for 71 cents a packet.  Super easy to prepare.

I also took the blog author's advice and crushed up a pack of tim tams, scattering them over the filling rather than lining the middle with whole tim tams.  Much easier to cut up the cake that way!

Be warned.  It's disgustingly tasty.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb...

I snatched up a few cheap bunches of lovely organic rhubarb at a local market recently; since then I have been experimenting with all manner of combos and recipes.  On visiting a friend at their work - in - progress farm they too gave me some fresh rhubarb from their garden, after I took round a peach and rhubarb pie I'd made that morning.

My father in law delivered another few trays of the mega peaches from the family Batlow orchard.  So I got inspired to make another pie.

Strawberry peach and rhubarb pie with vanilla spiked cream.


250g plain flour
125g unsalted butter
2 tbs caster sugar (optional)
1tbs chilled water
1 egg

Big bunch of rhubarb (approx 10 stalks)
Punnet strawberries
2 large peaches
2 vanilla pods, scraped clean
3 tbs brown sugar (optional)


200g thickened cream
seed scrapings from 2 vanilla pods
1 tbs brown sugar (optional)


In a food processor, blend flour with a pinch of salt (and sugar if you like a sweeter pastry) then process chopped butter until it resembles breadcrumbs.  Whisk egg and water together, then add to flour mixture and process until it starts coming together.  Turn out on a flat surface and knead together, form into a rough disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least a few hours.  Divide into two portions, roll out one portion to cover the bottom of a greased pie dish.

Wash, trim and chop rhubarb into 2cm portions, fry in large non stick pan with a knob of butter until it just starts to soften.  Add chopped peaches and strawberries, vanilla pods and sugar, cook until all fruits are soft.  Be careful to not let the fruit catch on the bottom of the pan!  Taste and add sugar if needed.  I like to let the flavours of the fruit speak for itself, so less sugar is always better in my opinion.

Pour fruit mixture into pastry case.  Roll out other portion of pastry and cover pie, trimming excess pastry from the edges.  Press edges to enclose the pie and chill in fridge for 30 minutes.  Brush with a little egg whisked with milk.

Place onto a baking tray and into a preheated 180C oven; bake for approx 45 minutes or until browned on top.  Whip cream with sugar and vanilla; serve with the pie.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Back in the game ... sort of

No, this isn't promotion or endorsement of a cake mix product.

It's been a long time between drinks, folks.  On 23 November, a little cherub joined the fold and turned our lives upside down.

Needless to say, my life for the past 8 weeks has involved many sleepless nights, dirty nappies, tears (mine and hers) and uncertainty.  It's also been a time of wonder, learning, growth and the most intense emotions I think I'll ever experience in this lifetime.

It was a bumpy start for our little monster.  She was born 11 days overdue, after an incredibly long and tiring labour: robust and strong, with a clean bill of health.  But within a week her temperature soared and suddenly we were back in hospital for an unknown infection.  I watched with horror as she endured various invasive tests and procedures - including a spinal tap - not knowing the cause or what the outcome would be.  As it turned out, she had developed mastitis - an extremely rare condition in newborn babies and "just one of those things".  She was treated with several courses of antibiotics and ended up with some minor surgery to eliminate the abcess that had formed on her tiny chest, and then finally was home with us at three weeks of age.

We've had our ups and downs since then:  colic and overtiredness, Christmas and family, countless visitors all wanting a cuddle and nights when I have cried at her crib, not knowing what to do next.  We've also recently experienced the firsts:  her head turning eagerly toward our talking, legs kicking happily in the bath, bright and aware blue eyes focusing on our faces, and the most amazing smiles and baby chatter in her new little voice; the beginnings of her communications with us.

I haven't kept up to my usual culinary standards.  It's been all grilled sausages and salad, or re-heated meals from the freezer from generous friends - all wolfed down quickly in between her feeding and sleeping.  But today, today - I baked.  And I felt, almost, human again.

Thanks Mum, for subtly placing the cake mix in my pantry the last time you visited.