Friday, February 29, 2008

Swedish Christmas Cookies

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
1 cup unsalted butter, (2 sticks), at room temperature
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
Colored sanding sugars or chopped toasted pecans
Whisk the flour, cardamom, and salt in a bowl.
Put the butter and confectioners' sugar in a food processor, and process until smooth. Pulse in the egg, vanilla, and lemon zest until combined. Add the flour mixture and process to make a soft buttery dough. Divide dough in half onto 2 (12-inch long) sheets of plastic wrap, using the plastic, shape into rough logs. Refrigerate the dough logs for 30 minutes until just firm enough to shape into uniform logs, 8-inches long by 2-inches in diameter. Refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours or overnight.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Scatter either the sanding sugars or toasted nuts on a work surface and roll the logs until completely coated. Cut into 1/4-inch thick cookies and space about 1 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake until golden around the edges, about 20 to 25 minutes. Cool cookies on the pan on wire racks. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Easter Pie

3/4 cup powdered sugar, plus extra for garnish
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 (15-ounce) container whole milk ricotta cheese
1/2 cup cooked short-grained rice
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
6 sheets fresh phyllo sheets or frozen, thawed
3/4 stick (3 ounces) unsalted butter, melted

Blend 3/4 cup of powdered sugar, eggs, vanilla, orange zest and ricotta in a food processor until smooth. Stir in the rice and pine nuts. Set the ricotta mixture aside.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Lightly butter a 9-inch glass pie dish. Lay 1 phyllo sheet over the bottom and up the sides of the dish, allowing the phyllo to hang over the sides. Brush the phyllo with the melted butter. Top with a second sheet of phyllo dough, laying it in the opposite direction as the first phyllo sheet. Continue layering the remaining sheets of phyllo sheets, alternating after each layer and buttering each sheet. Spoon the ricotta mixture into the dish. Fold the overhanging phyllo dough over the top of the filling to enclose it completely. Brush completely with melted butter.
Bake the pie until the phyllo is golden brown and the filling is set, about 35 minutes. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool completely. Sift powdered sugar over the pie and serve.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Creole Christmas Trifle

For the macaroons:
10 2/3 cups sweetened flaked coconut (2 (14-ounce) bags)
4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 (14-ounce) cans sweetened condensed milk

For the filling:
1 quart milk
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
10 large eggs yolks, beaten
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup water
2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

To assemble the trifle:
1 quart heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup orange-flavored liqueur (recommended: Grand Marnier)
6 pints fresh raspberries, rinsed and patted dry
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
For the macaroons: Thoroughly combine the coconut, vanilla, and condensed milk in a large mixing bowl. Spoon the mixture, by tablespoon, onto parchment or waxed paper-lined baking sheets, about 1/2-inch apart. Bake until lightly toasted and golden, about 15 minutes.
Remove the macaroons from the oven and transfer them to a wire rack. Let cool completely. Leave them out, lightly covered with parchment or waxed paper, for about 12 hours.
Yield: about 6 dozen macaroons

For the filling:
Combine the milk, sugar, and vanilla in a large heavy-bottomed or nonstick saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk to dissolve the sugar. When the mixture comes to a simmer after 5 minutes, take 1 cup of the milk and sugar mixture and add it to the yolks. Whisk to blend well. Slowly add the yolks to the milk and sugar mixture in the saucepan, whisking constantly. Cook over medium heat until it thickens slightly, 4 to 5 minutes, whisking occasionally.
Dissolve the cornstarch in the water. Over medium heat, slowly add this mixture to the saucepan, whisking constantly for 1 minute. Using a wooden spoon, continue stirring for about 2 minutes. Add the coconut and continue stirring for 2 more minutes. Add the butter and stir until it is completely melted and the mixture has thickened to a custard, about 2 minutes.
Pour the mixture into a glass bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap down on the surface of the custard to prevent a skin from forming. Cool completely and chill for at least 4 hours.

To assemble the trifle:
Beat the cream with an electric mixer on high speed for about 2 minutes. Add the sugar and beat until the mixture is thick and forms soft peaks, 1 to 2 minutes. Set aside.
Beat the coconut custard with a wire whisk until it is smooth. Set aside.
Pour the orange liqueur into a small bowl. Dip each macaroon in the liqueur, submerging for 2 to 3 seconds, then transfer them to a sheet of parchment or waxed paper.
Spread 1 cup of the coconut cream filling on the bottom of a large, deep glass trifle bowl. Top with 8 to 10 macaroons, placing them snugly against each other. Arrange 2 pints of the raspberries on top of the macaroons. Spread 2 cups of the coconut cream on top of the raspberries. Top with more macaroons, then 2 pints of raspberries. Spread another 2 cups of the coconut cream and top with the remaining macaroons and raspberries. Spread the remaining coconut cream on top of the raspberries. Mound the whipped cream evenly over the top.
Serve immediately or keep chilled until ready to serve.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Chilled Eggnog

6 eggs
5 cups milk
2.5 oz caster sugar
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
1 1/4 cup thickened cream
6 scoops vanilla ice-cream
3/4 cup Calvados or brandy
Grated nutmeg or chocolate, to serve

Place the eggs, milk, sugar and vanilla bean and seeds in a deep saucepan. Use a Braun Multiquick Professional Handblender to beat until combined.
Place the saucepan over medium-low heat and cook for2-3 minutes, stirring, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon.
Strain into a bowl or jug, then add half the cream and use the Braun Multiquick to beat until combined. Refrigerate until completely chilled.
Use Handblender to whip remaining cream until thick.
To serve, place scoops of ice-cream in 6 tall glasses. Divide Calvados or brandy among glasses, then pour over eggnog. Top each with some whipped cream and grated nutmeg

Monday, February 25, 2008


Here are Greek Christmas cookies yule love - and so will the rest of the family.

9 oz unsalted butter, at room temperature, cubed
2/3 cup icing sugar, sifted
1 egg yolk
1 cup plain flour, sifted
1 cup self-raising flour, sifted
2.5 oz slivered almonds, toasted, finely chopped
Whole cloves (about 20)
Icing sugar, extra, to dust

Preheat oven to 325 F. Line a large baking tray with non-stick baking paper. Use an electric beater to beat the butter in a large bowl until pale and creamy. Add the icing sugar and egg yolk. Beat until well combined.Fold in the flours until just combined. Stir in the almonds.Roll tablespoons of the mixture into balls. Roll the balls into 3 inch lengths on a lightly floured surface. Form into crescent shapes.
Place on the tray. If desired, set half of the dough aside to make star-shaped biscuits. Press out until about 2cm thick on a lightly floured surface. Use a 2 1/2 inch star cutter to cut out biscuits. Place on the tray.Insert a clove into the centre of each biscuit. Bake for 15-20 minutes or just until light golden. Transfer the warm biscuits to a wire rack over a baking tray. Dust with a little icing sugar. Set aside to cool completely. Dust generously with more icing sugar.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Coloured Greek Easter Eggs

12 eggs, at room temperature
1 x pkt red egg dye powder
6 cups warm water
1/3 cup white vinegar
Olive oil, to grease

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil over medium heat. Add the eggs and cook, stirring gently with a wooden spoon, for 8 minutes (this will centre the egg yolks as they cook). Drain.
Place dye powder and 2 tbs of the warm water in a large glass bowl and stir until dye dissolves. Add vinegar and the remaining warm water and stir to combine. Add the hard-boiled eggs to the dye mixture and set aside for 3 minutes to soak. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the eggs to a plate and set aside for 40 minutes to dry.
Place a little oil on paper towel and wipe each egg until shiny.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Mini Christmas Puddings

3.5 oz white chocolate melts
12 chocolate biscuits
12 gummy candy
Spearmint leaves, cut into smaller leaves

Place the white chocolate melts into a heatproof bowl. Microwave on Medium/50% power, stirring every minute until they are fully melted.
Spoon the melted chocolate into a sealable plastic bag and snip one corner of the bag to make a piping bag. Pipe enough white chocolate on top of the biscuits, allow to drip down the side to resemble custard flowing over the pudding.
Place a gummy candy on top and a small spearmint leaf each side of the gummy candy and secure in the melted chocolate.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Christmas Fruit Cake

21 oz sultanas
14 oz raisins
7 oz currants
3.5 oz glace cherries, quartered
3.5 oz glace orange slices, finely chopped
3 oz glace ginger, finely chopped
1/2 pint brandy
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1/2 cup self-raising flour
2 teaspoons mixed spice
1 teaspoon ground ginger
9 oz butter, softened
1 cup dark brown sugar
4 eggs, at room temperature
2 tablespoons orange marmalade
pure icing sugar, to serve

Place dried fruit, glace fruit and 1 cup brandy in a large airtight container. Mix well. Cover and stand overnight or preferably for 1 week, stirring occasionally.
Lightly grease a 3.5 inch deep, 8 inch square cake pan. Line base and sides with brown paper and baking paper. Preheat oven to 300 F. Sift flours and spices into a bowl. Using electric beaters, cream butter and sugar in a large bowl until pale and creamy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add marmalade and 1 tablespoon flour mixture and beat until well combined. Using a large metal spoon, fold remaining flour mixture into butter mixture.
Add fruit mixture to butter mixture and stir until combined. Press into pan. Smooth surface. Tap base of pan on workbench to settle fruit and remove air bubbles.
Cover cake with 3 layers brown paper. Bake for 3 to 3 1/2 hours or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Drizzle remaining 2 tablespoons brandy over cake while still hot. Wrap cake pan in a clean tea towel and allow to cool completely. Remove cake from pan and dust with icing sugar. Serve.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Christmas Morning Muffins

10.5 oz plain flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3 oz brown sugar
9 oz fruit mince
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 cup icing sugar, sifted
1-2 tbs lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a mini muffin pan (with about 30 holes) with small paper muffin cases.
Sift flour, baking powder, cinnamon and pinch of salt in a bowl. Stir in the brown sugar.
Beat together buttermilk, oil and egg until combined, then add to dry ingredients with the fruit mix and stir until only just combined.
Fill each muffin case with the mixture and bake for 20 minutes (you may need to do this in batches). Set aside to cool.
Place icing sugar in a bowl, add enough lemon juice to form a soft icing and drizzle over the muffins.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Port & Raisin Christmas Puddings

Ingredients (serves 8)
1 pound raisins, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup port
Melted butter, to grease
5 oz butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup brown sugar
3 eggs
1/2 cup self-raising flour
1 1/4 cups plain flour
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Bought custard, warmed, to serve

Combine the raisins and port in a large glass or ceramic bowl. Set aside for 1 hour to macerate.
Preheat oven to 325 F. Brush eight 1-cup capacity dariole moulds with melted butter to grease. Line the bases with non-stick baking paper.
Use an electric beater to beat together the butter and sugar in a large bowl. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the combined flours, mixed spice and cinnamon over the butter mixture and stir until almost combined. Add the raisin mixture and stir until well combined. Spoon into the prepared moulds and smooth the surfaces.
Cut eight 6 inch-square pieces of non-stick baking paper and eight 6 inch-square pieces of foil. Place the paper on top of the foil and fold to make a small pleat in the center. Place a square over each mould, foil-side up. Use kitchen string to secure.
Place the puddings in a large roasting pan. Add enough boiling water to the pan to reach two-thirds of the way up the side of the moulds. Bake in oven for 1 hour or until a skewer inserted into the centres comes out clean.
Set aside for 5 minutes to stand. Turn out onto serving plates and drizzle over custard to serve.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Festive Terrine

Ingredients (serves 10)
3/4 cup caster sugar
6 egg yolks
3 3/4 cup thickened cream
7 oz Christmas pudding, crumbled
1 cup mixed glace cherries
1/2 cup shelled unsalted pistachios
Silver cachous, to serve

Line a 6 cup terrine with plastic wrap, leaving some overhanging to cover top.
Place sugar in a saucepan with 2 tablespoons cold water over low heat. Stir, with a wooden spoon, until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to high and cook for 5 minutes, without stirring, but brushing down sides of pan occasionally with a damp pastry brush to prevent sugar crystals forming. Be careful the syrup doesn't darken. Allow to cool.
Meanwhile, with an electric mixer, beat egg yolks until doubled in volume. Beating continuously, slowly add sugar syrup and continue to beat until cool.
Lightly whip the cream until soft peaks form. Fold half the whipped cream with the crumbled pudding and half with the egg mixture. Using a metal spoon, carefully fold the two whipped-cream mixtures together with the cherries and pistachios. Spread the mixture into the terrine mould, pressing down well, then cover with plastic wrap and place in the freezer overnight.
When ready to serve, remove the terrine, invert onto a platter and top with silver cachous.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Christmas Pudding with Vanilla-Bean Custard

Ingredients: (serves 10)
1/4 cup plain flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp ground mixed spice
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup fresh white breadcrumbs
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, grated
1 carrot, peeled, finely grated
6 oz currants
8 oz rasins
9 oz seedless raisins
3.5 oz candied peel, cut into 1/2 cm cubes
1/3 cup dried apricots, cut into 1/2 cm cubes
1/3 cup pitted prunes, cut in 1/2 cm cubes
1/3 cup glace cherries, roughly chopped
3.5 oz blanched almonds, finely chopped
2 tsp finely grated orange rind
2 tsp finely grated lemon rind
1 tbs treacle
1 tbs orange juice
1 tbs lemon juice
1 tbs brandy
85ml Guinness or stout
2 eggs
5 tbs unsalted butter

Vanilla-bean custard:
1 cup milk
1 cup thick cream
2 vanilla beans
1/4 cup caster sugar
6 egg yolks
2 tsp cornflour
2-3 tbs brandy (optional)

Sift the flour and spices into a large bowl. Add the sugars, breadcrumbs, apple, carrot, dried and candied fruits, nuts, grated orange and lemon rind. Stir together until well mixed.
Place the remaining ingredients, except butter, in another bowl. Melt the butter, add to liquid ingredients and beat together. Pour onto dry ingredients and stir thoroughly.
Cover and set aside overnight.
The next day, stir again, then place in the well-buttered pudding basin. Cover with baking paper, make a pleat in the centre, tie with string and cover with foil. Place in a large saucepan with water halfway up the sides. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and steam for four hours. (Top up water when necessary.) Set aside to cool, then refrigerate overnight.
To make the custard, place milk and cream in a saucepan. Split the vanilla beans, scrape seeds. Add the seeds and beans to pan. Bring to the boil then remove from heat and set aside for 10 minutes to infuse.
Place sugar, egg yolks and cornflour in a bowl and whisk until pale and creamy. Add to milk mixture and cook, stirring, over low heat until thickened. Strain custard, discarding vanilla beans. Cover with plastic wrap. Add brandy just before serving. Re-steam pudding for two hours, and rest for 10 minutes before turning out on a plate. Serve with warm custard.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Choc Fruit & Nut Christmas Tree

14 oz dark cooking chocolate, melted
1/2 cup whole blanched almonds
2/3 cup Apricots, halved
2/3 cup rasins
Icing sugar, to dust

Draw a 6 inch-diameter star on a sheet of non-stick baking paper. Draw 6 more stars, reducing the size by 1/4-1/2 inch each time. Lay stars on baking trays.
Place chocolate in a heatproof microwavesafe bowl. Heat on High/800watts/100%, stirring every 30 seconds, for 1-2 minutes or until melted. Add the almonds and dried fruit, and stir until well combined.
Spread enough chocolate mixture over prepared baking paper to make 7 thick stars. Place in the fridge for 1 hour or until set.
Heat the remaining chocolate mixture on High/800watts/100%, stirring every 30 seconds, for 1 minute or until softened.
To assemble tree, place the largest star on a plate. Spoon 2 teaspoonsful of the chocolate mixture in the centre and top with the secondlargest star. Repeat, in order of size, until the smallest star is on the top. Place in the fridge until set. Dust with icing sugar.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Star Cookies

9 oz butter, chopped, softened
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 1/2 cups plain flour
3/4 cup rice flour
silver cachous, for decorating

Line 2 flat baking trays with non-stick baking paper. Using electric beaters, cream butter and sugar until just combined. Sift over flours and a pinch of salt. Mix until a dough forms. Turn onto a lightly floured surface. Lightly knead until smooth.
Roll out dough between 2 sheets nonstick baking paper until 1cm thick. Using a 2 inch cookie cutter, cut rounds from pastry. Place on baking trays. Press leftover dough together and repeat. Using top of a starshaped piping nozzle, gently press 1 small star into centre of each round. Score with a 1.5 inch star cutter. Decorate with cachous. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or until firm.
Preheat oven to 325 F. Bake cookies for 15 minutes. Swap trays over in oven and bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until shortbreads are light golden. Set aside to cool on trays. Transfer to an airtight container until ready to package.
Wrap shortbreads in cellophane and tie ends with ribbon to enclose.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Christmas Panettone Trifle

3 1/2 cups sliced peaches
1/4 cup brandy
2 cups panettone
9 oz strawberries, sliced
2 pints carton vanilla custard
1 cup thickened cream
1/3 cup flaked almonds, toasted, and strawberries

Drain sliced peaches and reserve 1/3 cup of the juice. Combine the reserved liquid and 1/4 cup brandy. Cut panettone into bite-sized cubes.
Spread the panettone into a 10 cup serving dish and drizzle with brandy mixture. Top with the peach slices and oz strawberries, sliced. Pour on vanilla custard.
Cover and refrigerate for 3-4 hours or overnight. Whisk 1 cup thickened cream until firm. Spoon over and sprinkle with 1/3 cup flaked almonds, toasted, and strawberries.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Individual Christmas Cakes

1 cup plain flour
1 cup self-raising flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6.5 oz butter, chopped
3/4 cup firmly-packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons orange marmalade
3/4 cup orange juice
3 1/3 cup sultanas
7 oz Sunbeam glace cherries, halved
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup apricot jam
4 cups ready-made white icing
1 eggwhite, lightly whisked
assorted food colourings, Christmas cutters, cellophane and ribbon, to decorate

Preheat oven to 325 F. Lightly grease a 2 inch -deep, 7 inch square cake pan. Line base and sides with baking paper.
Sift flours and cinnamon into a large bowl. Place butter, sugar, marmalade, orange juice, sultanas and cherries in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, for 5 to 6 minutes or until butter has melted and sugar dissolved. Set aside to cool for 20 minutes.
Add butter mixture and eggs to flour mixture. Fold until just combined (don't overmix). Spoon into prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Allow to cool in pan for 1 hour. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Cut cake into 4 squares. Turn cakes upside down. Place jam in a heatproof, microwave-safe bowl. Microwave, uncovered, on HIGH (100%) for 1 to 2 minutes or until melted. Brush over cakes.
Divide icing into 4 portions. Roll out 1 portion on a sheet of baking paper to a 10 x 10 inch square. Place icing over 1 cake, smoothing down sides and corners. Carefully trim excess icing, reserving scraps. Repeat with remaining cakes and icing portions.
Knead icing scraps together. Divide into smaller portions. Tint each portion with food colouring, kneading until colour is even. Roll portions between sheets of baking paper. Using Christmas-themed cutters, cut out shapes. Brush with eggwhite. Place on cakes. Place cakes on small cardboard squares. Decorate base of cakes with ribbon. Wrap in cellophane and secure with more ribbon.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Easter Birds' Nests

12 biscuits
16 oz Creamy Deluxe Milk Chocolate Fudge Frosting
1 1/2 tablespoons shredded coconut
Easter eggs, to decorate

Line a large baking tray with baking paper. Place 6 biscuits onto baking paper. Spread each with 1 tablespoon of frosting. Top with another biscuit.
Spread 2 tablespoons of frosting over sides of each biscuit stack. Cover biscuit tops with a thick layer of frosting.
Using a spoon, make an indentation in frosting on top of each biscuit stack to form a 'nest'. Fill each indentation with 1 teaspoon of coconut. Divide eggs between biscuit stacks. Stand for 30 minutes to allow icing to set. Serve.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Christmas Cheesecake

7 oz packet digestive biscuits
3 oz unsalted butter, melted
2 cups cream cheese
1/2 cup Dairy Farmers Thickened Cream
3 eggs
7 oz caster sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 1/3 cup Dairy Farmers Sour Cream
3/4 cups Dairy Farmers Traditional Natural Yogurt
10.5 oz frozen cranberries
2 tbs port
1 tsp arrowroot
8 small rosemary sprigs dusted with icing sugar, to garnish

Preheat oven to 350 F. Process biscuits to fine crumbs in a food processor. Add butter and whiz to combine. Press evenly into the base of a 8 inch springform cake pan and chill while you make the filling.
Place cheese, thickened cream, eggs, 3.5 oz caster sugar and 1 teaspoon of vanilla bean paste in the (cleaned) food processor, and process until smooth. Spread filling over biscuit base.
Bake for 30 minutes or until filling has set. Remove cake from oven and set aside to cool for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine sour cream, yoghurt, another 2 oz caster sugar and remaining vanilla paste. Spread over cake, then return to oven for a further 10 minutes. Set aside to cool, then refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
Place remaining 1.5 oz sugar, cranberries and port in a saucepan over low heat. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Remove lid and stir.Continue to cook until the cranberries give off their juice. Stir arrowroot into a dash of the juice, then add to pan with berry mixture and continue to cook until the mixture thickens. Remove from the heat and cool.
To serve, top cake with cranberry sauce and garnish with the dusted rosemary sprigs.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

The Night Before Christmas Cake

6 oz unsalted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
9 oz self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
Grated rind of 1 lemon
Grated rind of 1 orange
8 oz fruit mince
2 tbs brandy

Florentine topping:
2 oz hazelnuts
2 0z blanched almonds
3 0z brazil nuts
5 oz red glace cherries
3.5 oz golden syrup

2/3 cup icing sugar
2 tsp lemon juice

Preheat oven to 325° F. Grease and line base of a 8 inch springform cake pan. Beat butter and sugar in bowl of an electric mixer until light and fluffy, sift flour and baking powder and stir into butter mixture with buttermilk and eggs. Stir in rinds with fruit mince and brandy. Spoon into pan and bake for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, for florentine topping, place nuts, cherries and golden syrup in a saucepan and warm over a medium heat. When cake has cooked for 1 hour, remove from oven and spread topping over. Return for a further 15-30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.
For the icing, mix together sugar and lemon juice, place in a piping bag with a small nozzle and drizzle over cake. Decorate with ribbon, if desired.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Caramel Easter-Egg Muffins

2 1/4 cups self-raising flour
2/3 cup caster sugar
4.5 oz butter, melted, cooled
3/4 cup milk
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
12 small caramel-filled Easter eggs

Preheat oven to 350° F. Line a 12 x 1/3-cup capacity muffin pan with paper cases.
Sift flour into a large bowl. Stir in sugar. Whisk butter, milk, eggs and vanilla essence together.
Add butter mixture to dry ingredients. Use a wooden spoon to mix until just combined (don't over-mix or your muffins will be tough). Spoon batter into cases so each is one-third full. Place an unwrapped Easter egg into the middle of each muffin. Spoon over remaining muffin batter.
Bake muffins for 18 to 20 minutes, or until light golden and cooked through. Stand in pan for 10 minutes before turning onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Christmas Cake

Melted butter, to grease
18 oz Mixed Fruit
4.5 oz Pitted Dates, chopped
4.5 oz Pitted Prunes, chopped
4.5 oz Sunmuscats
5 oz Pineapple Wedges, chopped
3/4 cup sherry
9 oz butter
1 cup, firmly packed brown sugar
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1/2 cup self-raising flour
2 tsp mixed spice

1 egg white
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 cup icing sugar
Frosted fruit, to decorate

Preheat oven to 300 F. Brush a square 9 inch(base measurement) pan with butter to grease. Line with 3 layers of non-stick baking paper.
Combine fruit and sherry in a large bowl and set aside for 2 hours or overnight to soak.
Use an electric mixer to beat the butter and sugar together in a bowl until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in fruit mixture.
Sift flours and spice into a bowl. Fold into fruit mixture. Spoon into prepared pan and cover with foil. Bake in oven for 2 hours or until a skewer inserted into centre comes out clean.
To make the icing, whisk the egg white until foamy. Add the lemon juice and mix until combined. Gradually add icing sugar, beating well after each addition. Ice cooled cake and decorate with frosted fruit, if desired.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Gingerbread Christmas Stars

3/4 oz Nuttelex dairy-free spread
1/4 cup, firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup golden syrup
1/2 tsp lemon rind
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 1/4 cups plain flour, sifted
1/4 cup self-raising flour, sifted
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground allspice
3.5 oz red lollies
3.5 oz green lollies
Silver cachous, to decorate

Combine the dairy-free spread, sugar and golden syrup in a saucepan and stir over low heat until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and set aside for 10 minutes to cool.
Transfer golden-syrup mixture to a bowl. Add the lemon rind, egg, combined flours, bicarbonate of soda, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice, and stir until well combined.
Turn onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead until dough loses its stickiness and is smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 1 hour to rest.
Meanwhile, place the red lollies in a sealable plastic bag. Wrap in a tea towel and use a rolling pin to gently pound until crushed. Repeat, in a separate bag, with green lollies.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 2 baking trays with non-stick baking paper. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface until 1/4 inch thick. Use a star-shaped pastry cutter to cut out about 20 biscuits. Use a star-shaped cutter to cut out the centre of each biscuit. Wrap excess dough in plastic wrap and store in the fridge. Use a round piping-bag nozzle to cut a hole in the top corner of each biscuit. Place on prepared trays.
Sprinkle the red lollies into the star-shaped holes in the biscuits. Bake in oven for 5 minutes or until gingerbread is golden brown and lollies melt. Remove from oven and quickly sprinkle the soft lolly centres with cachous. Set aside on the trays to cool. Repeat with the remaining dough, green lollies and cachous to make another 20 biscuits.
Cut the ribbon into 10 inch lengths. Thread a piece of ribbon through the hole in the top of 1 biscuit and knot the ends. Repeat with the remaining biscuits.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

North Pole Shortbread

9 oz unsalted butter, softened
Finely grated rind of 4 mandarins
7 oz caster sugar
2 egg yolks
2 tbs glace orange peel, very finely chopped
1/2 cup self-raising flour
2 cups plain flour
13 oz Nestle White Chocolate Melts, melted following packet directions

Using an electric mixer, beat butter, rind and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks and peel, beat until combined. On low speed, gradually beat in combined sifted flours until mixture comes together. Form into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Roll out dough between 2 sheets of lightly-floured baking paper until 1/8 inch thick then, using a Christmas tree-shaped cutter (or cutter of your choice), cut out shapes and place on baking paper-lined oven trays. Repeat, rolling dough scraps until all the dough is used. Refrigerate dough on oven trays for 30 minutes, then bake for 8 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool biscuits on trays.
Half dip biscuits in melted chocolate, place on baking paper-lined trays and stand until set. Biscuits will keep in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Frozen Chocolate Buche De Noel (yule log)

3 large eggs
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/3 cup plain flour
1 tbs cornflour
3 tbs (1/4 cup) good-quality cocoa*, plus extra to dust
2 1/2 pints good-quality vanilla ice cream
2 tbs Grand Marnier
3/4 cup thickened cream
2 tbs icing sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Halved strawberries and mint, to serve

Preheat oven to 400 F. Grease a 9 x 15 inch Swiss-roll pan and line with baking paper.
Beat eggs and caster sugar with electric beaters until very pale and light. Sift in flour, cornflour and cocoa, and fold in with a metal spoon to combine. Spread mixture evenly into slice pan. Bake for 12 minutes or until sponge starts to come away from sides of pan. Allow to cool.
Meanwhile, remove ice cream from the freezer to soften until spreadable.
Invert cake to a board and carefully brush with the Grand Marnier, then spread with the softened ice cream using a warmed palette knife. Working quickly, roll cake from the longest edge into a log. Wrap in plastic wrap and freeze for at least 2 hours or until firm.
When ready to serve, whip the thickened cream with the icing sugar and vanilla until soft peaks form.
Remove the log from the freezer and place on a serving platter. Spread the whipped cream mixture all over the cake and use a fork to create decorative lines like a those of a log. Return to the freezer for 10 minutes to firm up, then dust the log with a little extra cocoa. Decorate with strawberries and mint leaves, then serve immediately.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Christmas Pudding

Melted butter, to grease
3.5 oz sultanas
3.5 oz raisins
3.5 oz dried pitted dates, chopped
3.5 oz dried whole dessert figs, chopped
2 oz dried apricots, chopped
2 oz glace cherries, chopped
2 oz mixed glace fruits (such as pineapple), chopped
1/2 cup brandy
4.5 oz butter, softened
3/4 cup, firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup golden syrup
2 eggs
4.5 oz good quality dark cooking chocolate, melted
1/2 cup canned pie apple
1/2 cup plain flour, sifted
3/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs (made from day-old bread)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp allspice
2 tbs brandy, extra, to serve

Brush a 4-cup capacity heatproof, microwave-safe pudding basin with melted butter to lightly grease.
Combine the sultanas, raisins, dates, figs, apricots, cherries and glace fruit in a glass or ceramic bowl. Place brandy in a heatproof, microwave-safe jug. Cover with plastic wrap and heat on High/800watts/100% for 1-2 minutes or until hot. Pour brandy over fruit mixture and stir to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes to macerate.
Use an electric beater to beat the butter, sugar and golden syrup in a large bowl until thick and pale. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the melted chocolate and fruit mixture, and stir until well combined. Add the apple, flour, breadcrumbs, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice, and stir until well combined.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared basin. Cover with 2 layers of baking paper. Tie unwaxed white kitchen string under the rim of the basin to secure. Cook on Defrost/350watts/30% for 20-30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the pudding comes out clean. Drizzle with extra brandy and set aside for 15 minutes. Turn pudding onto a plate and cut into slices to serve.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Cuddureddi Christmas Biscuits (Sicily)

2 3/4 cups plain flour
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
4.5 oz butter, cubed, chilled
1/2 cup milk
1 cup dried figs
1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1/4 cup Sunbeam Sultanas
1 oz good-quality dark chocolate, grated
2 tablespoons honey
1 small lemon, rind finely grated
1 small orange, rind finely grated
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 cup pure icing sugar

Place flour, caster sugar and baking powder in a food processor. Process for 30 seconds. Add butter. Process until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. With the motor running, add milk and process until dough comes together. Turn onto a lightly floured surface. Knead dough until smooth. Divide in half. Press into two 1/4 inch-thick discs. Wrap in greaseproof paper. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until firm.
Meanwhile, place figs in a bowl. Cover with warm water. Stand for 10 minutes. Drain. Place in a food processor. Process until roughly chopped. Transfer to a bowl. Process walnuts and almonds until roughly chopped. Add to figs with sultanas, chocolate, honey, lemon and orange rind, cinnamon and cloves. Mix well.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 2 flat baking trays with baking paper. Roll out 1 piece of dough between 2 sheets of baking paper until 3mm thick. Cut 2 x 3.5 inch rectangles out of dough. Fill dough and shape biscuits (see related article). Repeat with remaining dough and filling. Place on baking trays.
Bake biscuits for 15 to 20 minutes or until light golden. Cool on trays for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Dust with icing sugar just before serving.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Maple Syrup & Pecan Pudding

1 tsp vegetable oil
7 oz pkt pecan nuts
3.5 oz almond meal
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 banana, roughly chopped
3/4 cup maple flavoured syrup
Dairy-free vanilla ice dessert (Fruccio brand), to serve
Preheat oven to 400 F. Brush four 6 inch ramekins or dariole cup-shaped moulds with the oil to grease. Reserve 12 pecan nuts. Place the remaining pecan nuts in the bowl of a food processor and process until finely ground. Add the almond meal, eggs, banana and 1/4 cup of the maple syrup. Process for 2 minutes or until the mixture is combined.
Spoon the mixture evenly into the greased ramekins and use the back of a spoon to smooth the surface. Place on a baking tray and bake in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Meanwhile, place remaining pecan nuts on a baking tray in oven for 3-4 minutes or until toasted and golden brown. Set aside to cool, then chop.
To serve, use an oven mitt to remove the puddings from the oven and turn out onto serving plates. Drizzle each with the remaining maple syrup. Sprinkle with the toasted pecan nuts and serve immediately with the vanilla ice dessert.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Egg Nog Panna Cotta

1/4 cup cold water
2 sachets powdered gelatine
2 1/2 cups cream
1 1/4 cups store-bought ready-made custard
1/3 cup brandy
1/2 teaspoon mixed spice powder
2 tablespoons icing sugar mixture, sifted

Peach and cherry compote
2 cups water
1 cup sugar
3 teaspoons lemon juice
2 yellow peaches, cut into wedges
2 white peaches, cut into wedges
1 tablespoon lemon juice, extra
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen thawed cherries
Place water in a small bowl. Sprinkle the gelatine over the water and set aside for 5 minutes or until gelatine has set and is spongy.
Place the cream, custard, brandy, mixed spice and icing sugar mixture in a saucepan over low heat. Stir until sugar has dissolved and mixture is well combined. Whisk if any lumps form.
Once the custard mixture is hot (but not boiling), slowly add the gelatine mixture. Stir for 2-3 minutes or until the gelatine has fully dissolved. Remove from heat. Pour into a greased rectangular (5-cup capacity) tin. Cover and refrigerate for 5 hours or until set.
To make syrup
Place the water, sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir until sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and add the peaches. Simmer for 1-2 minutes then remove the peaches with a slotted spoon. Set aside to cool slightly, then peel away the skin (reserve skin).
Sprinkle peaches with extra lemon juice. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Meanwhile, return the syrup to the heat, add the peach skins and increase heat to high. Simmer for 4-5 minutes or until the syrup has reduced and thickened slightly. Cover and chill completely.
To serve, turn the chilled panna cotta on to a large serving platter. Top with the peaches and cherries and drizzle with a little syrup.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Christmas Ice-Cream Terrine

Ingredients (serves 12)
1 x 3 pints vanilla ice-cream
3 x 3.5 oz pkts multicoloured glace cherries, halved
2 x 3.5 oz pkts blanched almonds
1 x 4 pints chocolate ice-cream
1 cup Blackwood Lane fruit mince
Fresh raspberries, to serve
Icing sugar, to dust
Line bases and sides of two 4 inches-deep, 4 x 8 inches (base measurement) loaf pans with non-stick baking paper, allowing the 2 long sides to overhang. Place the vanilla ice-cream in the fridge for 30 minutes to soften slightly. Transfer to a stainless-steel mixing bowl and fold in the cherries until combined.
Divide the ice-cream mixture among prepared pans and use the back of a spoon to smooth the surface. Tap firmly on the work surface to remove any air bubbles. Cover with foil and place in the freezer for 4-6 hours or until very firm.
Meanwhile, cook the almonds in a small non-stick frying pan over medium heat, tossing, for 3-4 minutes or until toasted. Set aside to cool slightly. Coarsely chop.
Place the chocolate ice-cream in the fridge for 30 minutes to soften slightly. Transfer to a stainless-steel mixing bowl. Fold in the fruit mince and almonds until well combined.
Spoon the chocolate ice-cream mixture over the vanilla ice-cream mixture in the pans and smooth the surface. Tap firmly on the work surface to remove any air bubbles. Cover with foil and place in the freezer for a further 10-12 hours or until very firm.
Remove ice-cream terrines from the freezer and turn onto serving platters. Remove the baking paper and top the terrines with raspberries. Dust with icing sugar and serve immediately.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Creamy Eggnog Cheesecake

1 cup Honey Maid Graham Cracker Crumbs
1/2 cup granulated sugar, divided use
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 (1/4-ounce) envelope Knox Unflavored Gelatine
1/4 cup cold water
1 (8-ounce) package Philadelphia Cream Cheese, softened
1 cup eggnog
1 cup cold whipping cream, whipped
Mix cracker crumbs,
1/4 cup of the sugar, the butter and nutmeg; press firmly onto bottom of 9-inch springform pan.
Sprinkle gelatine over water in small saucepan; let stand 1 minute. Cook on low heat 3 minutes or until gelatine is completely dissolved; stirring occasionally.
Beat cream cheese and remaining 1/4 cup sugar in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Gradually add gelatine, then eggnog, beating well after each addition. Refrigerate until slightly thickened.
Gently stir in whipped cream. Pour over crust. Refrigerate 4 hours or until firm.
Run knife or metal spatula around rim of pan to loosen cake; remove rim. Cut cheesecake into 8 slices to serve.
Store leftover cheesecake in refrigerator

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Chocolate-Candy Cane Cake

1 pkg. (2-layer size) chocolate cake mix
1 pkg. (4-serving size) JELL-O Chocolate Flavor Instant Pudding & Pie Filling
4 eggs
1 container (8 oz.) BREAKSTONE'S or KNUDSEN Sour Cream
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup water
4 squares BAKER'S Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate, chopped
18 small candy canes, coarsely crushed (about 1 cup), divided
1 tub (8 oz. ) COOL WHIP Whipped Topping, thawed.

PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Lightly grease two 9-inch round cake pans. Beat cake mix, dry pudding mix, eggs, sour cream, oil and water in large bowl with electric mixer on low speed just until moistened, stopping frequently to scrape side of bowl. Beat on medium speed 2 min. or until well blended. Stir in chopped chocolate and 2 Tbsp. of the crushed candy canes. Spoon evenly into prepared pans.
BAKE 35 to 40 min. or until toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool 10 min. Loosen cakes from sides of pans with metal spatula or knife. Invert cakes onto wire racks; carefully remove pans. Cool completely.
PLACE one of the cake layers on serving plate; spread evenly with 1 cup of the whipped topping. Top with remaining cake layer. Frost top and side of cake with remaining whipped topping. Sprinkle with remaining crushed candy canes just before serving. Store leftover cake in refrigerator.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Holiday Bourbon Fruitcake

1 cup chopped candied orange peel
1 cup chopped candied citron
1 cup chopped candied pineapple
1 cup halved red candied cherries
1 cup halved green candied cherries
1 cup dried currants
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped pitted dates
1 cup chopped walnuts
3/4 cup chopped almonds
1/2 cup orange juice
2/3 cup bourbon whiskey
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups butter, room temperature
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
6 egg yolks
1/2 cup molasses
3/4 cup applesauce
1/2 cup bourbon whiskey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 egg whites
On the first day, combine the candied orange peel, candied citron, candied pineapple, red and green candied cherries, currants, raisins, walnuts, and almonds. Combine the orange juice and bourbon; pour over the fruit and nuts. Stir and then cover tightly. Let the fruit marinate in a cool place for 1 full day, or at least 20 hours.
On the second day, line two 9x5 inch loaf pans with parchment paper or aluminum foil and grease the inside with cooking spray. Combine the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, ginger, baking powder and salt in a large bowl and stir with a whisk to blend.
In a separate large bowl, beat the butter, brown sugar and white sugar until light and fluffy using an electric mixer. Stir in the egg yolks until blended and then mix in the applesauce, bourbon and vanilla. In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites with an electric mixer until they can hold a stiff peak. Fold into the batter. Gently mix in the fruit and nut mixture with all of its juices. Divide evenly between the prepared pans. Cover loosely with a towel and let the batter stand overnight in a cool, dry place.
On the third day, preheat the oven to 250 degrees F (120 degrees C). Place a large baking pan on the bottom shelf and pour boiling water into it until almost full. Place a baking sheet on the center shelf and place the fruit cakes on the baking sheet.
Bake for 2 1/2 hours in the preheated oven. Check the water level and refill if needed. Cover the cakes with a sheet of parchment paper, taking care not to let it touch the shelf. Continue to bake until a knife or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 1 hour more. Cool fruitcakes in the pans, set over a wire rack. Once cool, remove the cakes from the pans, and leave the parchment paper on. Sprinkle with more bourbon if desired and wrap in aluminum foil. Place in a tin or other sealed container overnight before serving

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Festive Fruit Cakes

1/2 cup blanched almonds
1 cup pecan nuts
1/2 cup blanched brazil nuts
100g glace pineapple
1 cup pitted dried dates
1 cup red and green glace cherries
3.2 oz butter, softened
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 tablespoon brandy or rum
1/4 cup plain flour
1/4 cup self-raising flour
1/4 cup apricot jam

Glace fruit and nut topping
3.5 oz glace apricots, chopped
3.5 oz glace pineapple, chopped
1/2 cup red and green glace cherries
1/2 cup pecan nuts
1/2 cup blanched almonds
Preheat oven to 300 F.
Grease eight 3/4-cup capacity pudding moulds or texas muffin holes. Roughly chop almonds, pecans, brazil nuts, pineapple, dates and cherries. Place in a large bowl.
Using electric beaters, beat butter and sugar until pale and creamy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add brandy and mix well. Add butter mixture to fruit mixture and stir to combine. Sift over flours. Stir until well combined. Divide mixture among moulds.
Make glace fruit and nut topping: Combine glace fruit and nuts in a bowl. Spoon evenly over cake mixture, gently pressing down on topping.
Bake cakes for 30 minutes. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool cakes in moulds for 2 hours. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Spoon jam into a small, heatproof, microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on HIGH (100%) for 30 seconds or until warm. Brush jam over cakes. Allow to set.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Fire Adds Wow-Factor to Holiday Desserts

Although most people are focused on champagne or hors d'oeuvres, it could be more fun to focus on dessert. Whipping up impressive desserts needn't consume your day, either.
Two simple ingredients -- fire and ice (cream) -- can add serious class to any dessert, including those you purchase.
First, the fire. So long as they are intended, flames add panache to just about any dish. They also can add flavor (usually thanks to the alcohol that provide the flame) and texture.
For liquor to burn well, it needs a high alcohol content. To avoid having to heat the alcohol before igniting it (necessary with most liquors) use 151-proof rum, which ignites easily at any temperature. In fact, it is so flammable, don't cook with it.
Use it for dramatic effect around a plated dessert. For example, use biscuit cutters to cut round pieces of sliced pound cake, brownies or other purchased cakelike dessert.
Next, use a melon baller or other scoop to remove a small section from the center of the cake or brownie, then fill that section with ice cream of a contrasting color (vanilla for brownies and chocolate for pound cake).
Place the dessert in the center of a small serving plate with enough of a lip to contain a small amount of liquid. Garnish as desired, then carefully pour about one-half ounce of 151 proof rum around the cake.
After they are put on the plates, arrange the desserts on the table. You do not want to carry flaming liquid, nor are these appropriate for your guests to hold cocktail party-style.
After everything is set (warn guests to keep hair and clothing clear) use a match or lighter to ignite the rum. It should burn off in about a minute. It will be a dazzling display that heats the brownie and softens the ice cream -- a wonderful hot-cold contrast.
If you prefer your desserts to be less of a fire hazard, consider using unusual ingredients to create doctored ice cream sundaes. Simply soften vanilla ice cream in the microwave, mix in the ingredients of your choice, then freeze again for several hours.
Good choices this time of year include fig jam, crumbled baklava, crushed gingerbread cookies and smashed hard mint candies or candy canes. Whatever you mix in, reserve extra for drizzling over the top of the ice cream.
For added garnish, melt dark chocolate (or dark chocolate "melts," which are rounds of chocolate intended for these sorts of projects and are available at craft and cake supply stores), then spread it in a thin layer over waxed paper.
While the chocolate is still warm, sprinkle it with the same ingredient you mixed into the ice cream. Crushed candy canes are especially nice. Let it harden, then break into large chunks. These chunks then can be wedged into the whipped cream on top of your sundae for garnish.
Or try chocolate transfer paper, an easy way to decorate melted chocolate. These are sheets of plastic (available at craft and baking supply stores) coated with an edible print (such as snowflakes) on one side.
To use, simply melt chocolate and spread it thinly over the sheet. Let the chocolate harden, then break into chunks. Or, when the chocolate is nearly hard, use cookie cutters to cut shapes from the chocolate.
When you peel the chocolate away from the transfer paper, the underside will be decorated with the pattern that was on the paper.

From the Augusta Chronicle

Sunday, January 13, 2008

History of Fruitcake

Typical American fruitcakes are rich in fruit and nuts.
Mail-order fruitcakes in America began in 1913. Some well-known American bakers of fruitcake include Collin Street Bakery in Corsicana, Texas, and The Claxton Bakery in Claxton, Georgia. Both Collin Street and Claxton are southern companies with access to cheap nuts, for which the expression "nutty as a fruitcake" was derived in 1935. Commercial fruitcakes are often sold from catalogs by charities as a fund raiser.
Most American mass-produced fruitcakes are alcohol free, but traditional recipes are saturated with liqueurs or brandy, and covered in powdered sugar, both of which prevent mold. Brandy or wine-soaked linens can be used to store the fruitcakes, and some people feel fruitcakes improve with age.
In the United States, the fruitcake has been a ridiculed dessert. Some blame the beginning of this trend with Tonight Show host Johnny Carson. He would joke that there really is only one fruitcake in the world, passed from family to family. Carson is no longer alive but the tradition lived on with "The Fruitcake Lady" (Marie Rudisill), who made appearances on the show and offered her "fruitcake" opinions.
For the last twelve years over 500 people have shown up in Manitou Springs, Colorado each January for the Great Fruitcake Toss. "We encourage the use of recycled fruitcakes", says Leslie Lewis of the Manitou Springs Chamber of Commerce. The all-time Great Fruitcake Toss record is 1,420 feet, set in January 2007 by a group of eight Boeing engineers, who built the Omega 380, a mock artillery piece fueled by compressed air, pumped by an exercise bike. Dan w. Etion was the original founder and showed his idea to his brother named Stene G. Etion.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Chistmas Tree Cakecut

Cut a Carrot Sheet Cake into 3 square cuts, graduating in size by about 1/2 inch. Place the largest square on the bottom of a plate or shallow bowl. Add the following layers by rotating 1/4 turn, with the result resembling a Christmas Tree. Use a frill pick to secure a Maraschino cherry on top. Drizzle raspberry and caramel dessert sauce around the cake like ribbons and ornaments, then garnish with sifted powdered sugar to simulate snow. Place holiday candies as presents at the base, if desired.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

2 cups pecans, toasted, cooled
1/4 cup all purpose flour
6 large eggs, separated
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup plus
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons bourbon
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted, cooled
Frosting and caramel sauce
11/4 cups sugar
1/3 cup water
11/4 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons bourbon
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
Fresh bay leaves or lemon leaves
Powdered sugar (for sprinkling)
6 large bananas, sliced (optional)
2 pints butter pecan or pecan praline ice cream
For cake:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 17x12x1-inch rimmed baking sheet with parchment; butter paper. Pulse nuts and flour in processor until nuts are finely chopped (not ground). Using electric mixer, beat egg whites and salt in very large bowl until foamy. With mixer running, gradually beat in 1/4 cup sugar, beating just until stiff peaks form. Using electric mixer, beat yolks with 1/3 cup sugar and bourbon in large bowl until thickened, about 5 minutes. Add yolk mixture to egg-white mixture. Sprinkle nuts over; gently fold until almost incorporated. Add butter; fold gently just to blend. Pour into prepared baking sheet, spreading batter gently to form even layer.Bake cake until edges begin to brown and cake is firm to touch, about 14 minutes. Cool in pan on rack.
For frosting and caramel sauce:
Stir 1 1/4 cups sugar and 1/3 cup water in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat; boil without stirring until deep amber, occasionally swirling pan and brushing down sides with wet pastry brush, about 9 minutes (time will vary, depending on size of pan). Remove from heat; immediately add cream (mixture will bubble vigorously). Whisk in butter, bourbon, and salt. Stir over medium heat until any caramel bits dissolve. Transfer 1 cup caramel sauce to small pitcher. Add chocolate to remaining caramel in saucepan. Let stand off heat 5 minutes; whisk until smooth. Transfer to bowl. Let frosting stand until spreadable, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour.
Spread 1 cup frosting over cake in even layer. Beginning at 1 long side and using parchment as aid, roll up cake jelly-roll style. Starting 1 inch in from each end of cake, cut off 3-inch-long diagonal piece from each end. Arrange cake, seam side down, on platter. Spread cut side of each 3-inch cake piece with some of frosting. Attach 1 cake piece, frosting side down, to top of cake near 1 end. Attach second piece to side of cake near opposite end. Cover cake with remaining frosting. Run fork in concentric circles on cake ends. Do ahead Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover loosely with waxed paper and let stand at room temperature.
Garnish platter with leaves. Sprinkle cake lightly with powdered sugar. Cut cake into slices and serve with bananas, if desired, ice cream, and sauce.