Monday, April 9, 2012

Taste Test: Donna Hay Macarons

As mentioned before, I’ve been so eager to try out the Donna Hay packet mixes. In an earlier post I tried out the Molten chocolate brownies. This time I tried the Almond macarons with chocolate filling. This packet mix has intrigued me as I’m dying to see what the result is like because of the small amount of ingredients required and the “egg mix”.

The carton contained; egg mix (powdered egg whites), almond mix and chocolate pieces. While you supply the warm and cold water and 2 table spoons of cream. The method is simple; rehydrating the powdered egg with warm water, beating the egg mix to a glossy consistency, folding through the almond mix, piping and baking. Assembling is a matter of melting the chocolate in the cream and sandwiching the macarons together.

I was very surprised by the result as they looked like proper macarons with their crunchy top, and feet. Their middles were not as soft as regular macaron but that could be due to my oven’s temperature. Overall these macarons are a great cheat alternative for an afternoon high tea if you have limited time and a great sense of achievement for an kitchen novice. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Classic Bakes: Cheesecake

I have a favourite baked cheesecake recipe that I use and tweak for a variety of ingredients and flavours. I love it when I find a recipe that’s fools proof, tastes great and can be used time and time again with a few additions here and there.
I’ve been craving fresh roasted salted macadamia nuts over the last couple of weeks. I’ve added them to my salads and cheese plates. I cannot get enough of them. So when I felt like baking a cheesecake, I knew exactly what the flavour would be; Salted macadamia and honey cheesecake. I love making muffin sized individual cheesecakes and this time I even made a few baby cheesecake bites in a mini muffin pan.

Salted Macadamia and Honey Baked Cheesecake
Makes; 22cm round cake pan or 6 large muffin sizes

Biscuit base
100g plain sweet biscuit
50g unsalted butter, melted

Cheesecake filling
¼ cup thickened cream
500g cream cheese
¼ cup caster sugar
¼ cup honey
1 egg
100g salted macadamias, roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 150 degrees Celsius. Line cake pan or muffin pan with baking paper.

Process biscuits until fine crumbs and add in melted butter. Divide into muffin pans and press firmly and even to create the crust. Refrigerate for 30mins till firm.

Beat cheese, sugar, cream and egg with an electric mixer until smooth and silky. Pour evenly into muffin pan and sprinkle with macadamias.

Bake in oven for 30mins or until slightly golden and just firm. Leave to cool in oven with door ajar. Once cool refrigerate for 3 hours until cold and completely firm. Before serving, drizzle with warm honey. 

Friday, March 9, 2012

Taste Test

If you don’t frequently walk down and ponder the baking isle as much I do you may have not noticed the range of Donna Hay packet baking mixes; Brownie, Macaroons and Cupcakes. I have really wanted to taste test the mixes because I am a fan of Donna Hay's recipes and also compare them to the real deal of homemade. So today I took the plunge and bought the Molten Chocolate Chunk Brownie. I do not normally buy packet mixes as I’m a firm believer of good quality fresh foods, homemade (how hard is it really to bake a simple cake) and knowing what and how much is really in my food. The last packet mix I bought was when I was a tween for a friend’s birthday.

As a usual packet mix you only needed a few items; an oven, pan, butter and eggs. Chuck all the ingredients in a bowl, stir in the chocolate chunks (tasted like compound chocolate) bake for 40mins and voila; Molten brownies.

How did they stack up? They looked like the picture on the  box; gooey chocolate, moist and fudgy. How did they taste? Overall - Ok. They were very very sweet. The sweetness overpowered the flavour of the chocolate completely. They had the texture of a good brownie but lacked the flavour. Kids and teenagers love them as my brother woofed three down with a glass of milk in record time. They would be great for kids that want to bake or an unexpected play date but not for an indulgent afternoon tea.

Has anyone else tried the range? What do you think about them? I am so curious about the macaroons. There next on my list to try.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Afternoon Tea Tuesdays: Favourite Tea

 I drink so much tea. At least 5-8 cups a day. What can I say....I love tea. My pantry is full of boxes and tins of different types. There is; Jasmine, Chai, Honey, French earl grey, Australian afternoon tea, English breakfast, Lady Grey, Japanese Morning and so forth. 

Among all the tea I drink, I do have a favourite I come back to time and time again; Earl grey with blueflower from TBar. It's a black tea that's flavoured with bergamot, mallow blossoms and cornflour blossoms. Its so refreshing and subtle and perfect for any time.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Classic Bakes: Carrot Cake

If I desperately want a cake but don’t want to indulge in the calories, I choose carrot cake telling myself it’s healthy. “Hey it’s got carrots in it so it must be…somewhat healthy”. I love carrot cakes that are full of character in regards to; spice, nuts, fruit and densely moist. I've tried and tested over 5 different carrot cake recipes and have adapted them to make this one that I really love and make when I'm craving a good slice of cake with my afternoon cups of tea.

This frosting recipe is also not too sickly sweet and stores well in the refrigerator.I decided to make one mini cake and a few muffins with this recipe.  

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Makes 12 muffins or 24 cm cake pan
(Adapted from Women’s Weekly - MIX and Bill Granger – Bill’s Basics)

Carrot Cake / Muffins
1 ½ cups (225g) self-raising flour
1 cup (220g) firmly packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons mixed spice
2 teaspoons cinnamon
½ cup (125ml) light flavoured oil, (bran, sunflower)
3 eggs
2 cups (480g) firmly packed coarsely grated carrot
½ cup roughly chopped walnuts
½ cup raisins

Cream Cheese Frosting
250g cream cheese, softened
30g unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
125g icing sugar, sifted

Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius. Line muffin tray or cake pan.
Combine sifted flours, sugar, spice, oil and eggs until mixed thoroughly. Stir in grated carrots, nuts and raisins. Fill muffin trays ¾ full or fill cake pan. Bake for approximately 30mins and test with skewer. Cakes may need an additional 10mins. Turn onto a rack to cool.

For the cream cheese frosting; beat together cream cheese, butter and extract until smooth and creamy. Gradually add in icing sugar until mixed though.