Thursday Tipples 11 / The Garden Party Cocktail

the garden party cocktail
I’m always juggling various obsessions in different proportions. My slightly OCD personality often sees me eating/listening/wearing/doing the same thing over and over until I get completely sick of it, and then moving on to the next thing. At the moment my rotating favourite things include bircher muesli for breakfast, this album and pastel blue nail polish. But I have a feeling that my latest favourite obsession will stick around for a while. Flavoured Ice Cubes. They’re a complete revelation!

the garden party cocktail
Instead of ice cubes watering down your drink and making it sad and flavourless, these are the exact opposite. By freezing juice or cordial, herbs, fruit, flowers, etc into ice cube trays, they actually enhance your drink as they start to melt. It all started last month with lychee juice, mint and berry ice cubes in a delicious iced tea punch with a whole lot of fruit. This drink was seriously delicious, a total crowd-pleaser. Every single person asked for the recipe afterwards. Flavoured ice cubes are so easy to make and the possibilities are virtually endless. I’m super excited to try espresso or chai flavoured ones next. If you’re fancy you could just add them to a glass of water.

the garden party cocktail
If you’ve been reading for a while, you probably know that Pimms is one of my favourite summer tipples. I first made this Pimms and Elderflower cocktail – which I’ve named The Garden Party – over a year ago and have been wanting to share it here ever since. I even took photos of it, and it was really delicious, but there was something missing. A cocktail called The Garden Party has to look beautiful and girly, right? The pretty floral ice cubes were exactly what I needed to elevate it to something really special.

the garden party cocktail
The elderflower cordial enhanced the flavour in the drink wonderfully and the brightly coloured petals were very pretty. I can just imagine this cocktail being served at a garden wedding or even just a girly lunch. I know my Pimms-loving friends would totally dig this! I’ve given the recipe below to serve 2 but you could scale up the quantities and serve it in a pitcher for a larger group.

the garden party cocktail

The Garden Party Cocktail

Serves 2

Flower Ice Cubes

  • 400ml water
  • 80-100ml elderflower cordial
  • Edible petals

Cocktail

  • 60ml Pimms
  • 60ml Gin (I used Hendricks)
  • 60ml Elderflower cordial or liqueur
  • Sliced Cucumber
  • Lemonade or soda, to top up

To make the ice cubes, mix the water and elderflower cordial in a jug to taste. Place a few petals into each ice cube section and then top up with the cordial. Freeze overnight.
To make The Garden Party cocktail, place half the quantities of Pimms, gin, elderflower cordial or liqueur and sliced cucumber in each glass. Add 3-4 ice cubes to each glass and top up with lemonade or soda. Serve with a pretty straw.

Lamington Tres Leches Cake

Lamington Tres Leches Cake
Sometimes I think about my imaginary restaurant. You know, the one I own in my dreams. Of course this is something that will probably never happen in reality – but  a girl can always fantasise. The dining room is filled with great light and pretty patterns and plants. The tables all have great surfaces for photography. If you liked the homemade pickles or special tea blend you had, you can pick some up to take home. There’s a garden where you can sip Pimms. The menu is a collection of my favourite things – think classic comfort food dishes with a twist. And there is definitely, definitely Tres Leches cake on the dessert menu.

Lamington Tres Leches Cake
I’ve made a lot of cakes over 8 years of blogging, but one that surprised me the most was Tres Leches, and I’ve kept coming back to the concept in different incarnations ever since. It’s an enormous call, but I’m going to say right now that Tres Leches is my favourite cake. I could eat it any day. A simple sponge or butter cake is soaked in three kinds of milk which becomes deliciously flavoured and moist, but never sad and soggy. The three I turn to the most are coconut milk, sweetened condensed milk and regular milk, but I have seen many other creative adaptations too. Hello Baileys and yes please Strawberry Milk! This recipe is a great blank canvas.

Lamington Tres Leches Cake
I wanted to make a Lamington Tres Leches Cake in celebration of Australia Day. Three layers of tres leches soaked cake were layered together with raspberry jam and red summer berries. On top I drizzled a delicious chocolate coconut ganache sauce and topped with yet more berries and toasted coconut flakes. I think it had all the elements of a great lamington but the coconut milk soak mixture gave it a lovely extra hit of coconut. It looks super pretty and it tasted even better. Happy Australia Day!

Related: Lamington Doughnuts

Lamington Tres Leches Cake

Lamington Tres Leches Cake

Adapted from Donna Hay

Note: This makes a small 3 layer cake. If making this for a larger crowd, double the recipe below and cook in 20cm cake tins.

Serves 4-6

  • 90g butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup (110g) caster (superfine) sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 3/4 cup (112g) self-raising flour
  • 1/4 cup (125ml) milk
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) sweetened condensed milk
  • 3/4 cup (125ml) coconut milk

Ganache Sauce

  • 100g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 150ml coconut cream
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract

To decorate

  • Raspberry jam
  • Fresh raspberries and/or strawberries
  • Mini meringues, optional
  • Coconut Flakes

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Place the butter and sugar in an electric mixer and beat for 8-10 minutes or until pale and creamy. Add 1 teaspoon each vanilla and coconut extracts and beat to combine. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Gradually add the flour and beat until just combined. Spoon the mixture into 3 lightly greased mini cake tins (I used a 12cm diameter tin). Bake for 25-30 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer.

Using a skewer, make holes all over the top of the cake and place in the refrigerator to cool completely. While the cake is cooling, place the milk, condensed milk, coconut milk and remaining 1 teaspoon vanilla and coconut extracts in a jug and mix to combine. Pour the milk mixture over the cake and return to the fridge for a further 2 hours or until mixture is absorbed. If using a cake tin with a removable bottom, place a tray underneath in case it leaks.

In the meantime, make the ganache. Place chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Heat coconut cream and extract in a small saucepan until just boiling. Pour over the chocolate, allow to sit for 1 minute and then whisk to combine. Refrigerate until it has thickened and is a good drizzling consistency.

To assemble, place one cake layer onto your serving plate. Spread with 2 teaspoons raspberry jam and decorate with sliced strawberries and raspberries. Repeat with layer two. Add your top layer, drizzle with chocolate sauce, using an offset spatula to smooth and help it down the sides. Decorate the top with mini meringues, extra raspberries and strawberries and coconut. Keep the leftover cake refrigerated, I think it tastes even better a day or two later.

DIY Pavlova Bar for Australia Day

DIY Pavlova Bar
It is Australia Day next week, which is our national holiday and one of my favourites. Firstly, it’s summer so we often celebrate with BBQ’s and beach picnics. I also get mighty patriotic about our favourite Aussie dishes which has led to creations like Lamington Ice Cream Pops and the Lamington Pavlova, among others. I love putting my own spin on these classics.

DIY Pavlova Bar
It was one of my unofficial resolutions this year to entertain more. We have a wonderful apartment that feels best with a group of people in it, and of course I love to cook for my friends! I hosted a fabulous girly lunch last weekend and instead of making a big dessert to share or fussy individual desserts, I decided to try something a little different – a DIY Pavlova Bar. I think it would be perfect if you’re hosting an Australia Day get together for a group.

DIY Pavlova Bar
It’s actually super simple to set up. You can use your favourite seasonal fruits and toppings like edible flowers and chopped up chocolate bars. I even used store-bought mini pavlova shells and meringues to make it a little easier on myself – I was cooking lunch for 8 after all. And then all that’s left to do is make a batch of my simple lemon curd and lightly whip some cream. Or if you prefer, you can make a caramel or chocolate sauce instead.

DIY Pavlova Bar
To style the table, I went for an assortment of different bowls and vessels from my prop collection for a fun mismatched vibe. Sundae glasses held edible flowers and berries were served in ceramic punnets. I also liked to play with height using wooden boxes and cake stands to elevate different ingredients. Multi-coloured plates, vintage cutlery and a few small vases with wildflowers helped complete the look.

DIY Pavlova Bar
The DIY Pavlova Bar was an enormous success and the girls had a great time customising their own mini pavlova with all the trimmings to their liking. My absolute favourite part was seeing everyone’s unique creations and of course, spending time catching up with these amazing ladies. Perhaps it will become an annual Australia Day tradition? Below I have listed all the things I used for my Pavlova Bar setup but feel free to change it up to your favourite fruit and toppings!

Related: Pavlova Ice Cream Smash

DIY Pavlova Bar

DIY Pavlova Bar

  • Store bought pavlova shells and mini meringues
  • 2 cups cream, whipped to soft peaks

Fruit

  • Strawberries
  • Raspberries
  • Blueberries
  • Kiwi fruit, sliced
  • Peaches, sliced
  • Passionfruit, halved

Toppings

  • Edible flowers
  • Mini Bounty bars, chopped
  • Turkish Delight bars, chopped

Lemon Curd

  • 2 eggs + 2 egg yolks
  • 165g caster sugar
  • 80g chilled butter
  • Zest and juice of 2 lemons

To make the lemon curd, whisk whole eggs, yolks and sugar in a saucepan until smooth, then place pan over a low heat. Add the butter, juice and zest and whisk continuously until thickened. Strain through a sieve. Lemon curd keeps, covered, in the fridge for 2 weeks.

Coconut Bircher Overnight Oats (Dairy Free)

coconut bircher overnight oats
I have to say, I’m pretty terrible at breakfast. When I had an hour commute I used to have the excuse that I didn’t have time, but now I work from home and I’m still just as bad at it. On those good days where I do manage to eat something before midday, it’s because I had made granola in advance or the fruit for my smoothie was already cut up. Usually it turns into brunch, by which point I am on the verge of hangry.x

If you’ve used Pinterest at all in the last few years, you’ve almost certainly seen recipes for Overnight Oats looking all cute in their Mason jars. It does seem like the perfect healthy make-ahead breakfast – and I now know that it is – but I wasn’t always a fan…

coconut bircher overnight oats
My first attempt at overnight oats, or ‘bircher’ muesli was an abject disaster. I think I was still in primary school. I borrowed a kids cookbook from the library, grated an apple and mixed some stuff together. I’m not sure what went wrong, but after one taste of the cold gloopy mess, it all went to the chickens – who loved it, incidentally. It took me quite some time to get back on this particular bandwagon. I suppose we can add it to the long list of foods I hated as a kid but now love.

Last summer I tried making overnight oats again and have been experimenting with different techniques and ingredients ever since. This version with coconut is my favourite by far. Apple juice is a common addition to many recipes but I didn’t like the high sugar content, so I’ve substituted it with coconut water.

coconut bircher overnight oats
I’m also totally obsessed with coconut yoghurt at the moment, which makes this version dairy free. The coconut flavour shines through beautifully and really lends itself to being served with summer fruits – peaches, mango, berries, or whatever your favourites are.

You can also make this in individual servings in a Mason jar, which makes it perfectly portable for those busy mornings when you have to take your breakfast on the run or eat at your desk. Just add half the ingredients below to each jar and give it a really good shake before leaving it in the fridge overnight.

Related: Chia Pudding with Honey Stewed Rhubarb – another great make-ahead breakfast.

coconut bircher overnight oats

Coconut Bircher Overnight Oats (Dairy Free)

Serves 2

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup coconut flakes
  • 1 cup coconut yoghurt
  • 1 cup coconut water
  • 1 small apple, grated
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds, optional
  • Summer fruit, to serve

In a medium bowl, stir together the rolled oats, coconut flakes, yoghurt, coconut water, grated apple and chia seeds until all combined. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it to the surface of the oat mixture so the apple doesn’t oxidize and discolour. Place in the fridge overnight. When ready to serve, divide into serving bowls and top with your favourite summer fruit.

15 Best Penang Street Food Dishes

penang street food

Penang street food is some of the best in the world.

Street food in Penang is “fast food” but not as you know it. Dishes are cooked to order and served up in minutes by independent vendors who have been at it for years. They only do one or two specialities each, but they do them well. I love the thriving street food culture found literally on the streets (our favourite were Chulia and Kimberley close to our hotel), outside kopitiams (coffee shops) and in food halls where a bunch of vendors gather under one roof with lots of tables in the middle.

I love the smells of hawkers cooking delicious things, the clatter of colourful melamine plates and having amazing food at every corner. If there was only one rule when visiting this Malaysian island, it would be to eat well. Don’t worry about spending time researching where the best places are, because in reality, it’s all damn good. If you really want some local insight, you can always ask at your hotel. After two wonderful trips, these are some of the street food dishes that I enjoyed the most. I can’t wait to get back to Malaysia!

penang street food

1. Char Kway Teow

This has to be my favourite noodle dish in the world and Penang is the one of the best places to find it. Prawns, cockles, bean sprouts, egg and lard are tossed briefly in a well-seasoned wok with thin rice noodles, chilli and a secret sauce unique to every vendor. The wok-hei (breath of the wok) is almost an ingredient in itself. It’s cooked to order in minutes, right in front of your eyes. You’ll never get two the same.

penang street food

2. Assam Laksa

Assam Laksa is probably the most famous dish in Penang street food dish – a tangy/sour fish noodle soup made with tamarind, served with chilli, cucumber, onion, mint, pineapple and belacan prawn paste. It is packed full of flavour and hits all the taste notes. Personally, I’m not a diehard fan (unlike my two Malaysian best friends) and found it a little too overwhelmingly fishy… however I still appreciate everything that is going on in this classic dish that you definitely should try.

penang street food

3. Cendol

A popular dessert/drink/soup that is always fun to eat, made of pandan noodles, palm sugar, red beans, coconut milk and shaved ice. Another one of my favourite things, and super refreshing to eat when it’s hot outside.

penang street food

4. Popiah

Like a delicious fresh spring roll filled with vegetables like bean sprouts, turnips, grated carrot, lettuce and crab and sometimes served with a sweet sauce, but of course the fillings vary with every vendor. Variations of this dish exist all over Asia and I had a similar one in Manila called ‘lumpia’. This dish is all about texture because the flavours are a little more subtle.

penang street food

5. Satay

There’s something amazing about eating grilled meat on sticks on a bustly street during a sultry night. The delicious smell and wafting smoke is a sign of great things to come. I loved watching the hawkers fan the flames as they tended the satay sticks until perfectly cooked. They always came served with a sauce, but they were more delicious on their own! We usually ordered an extra 10 to keep on hand for midnight snacking purposes…

penang street foodpenang street food

6. Rojak

“Rojak” is the Malaysian word for “mixture” – a salad of fruit and vegetables (typically pineapple, cucumber, raw mango and apple, but it changes based on where you are in Malaysia) in a sticky shrimp sauce, sprinkled with roasted peanuts. It sounds a little crazy, but the flavours really work and it makes a great snack.

penang street food

7. Apam Balik

One of my favourite new discoveries – folded pancakes filled with peanuts, creamed corn and sometimes even coconut or banana. I ate as many of these as I could find – some were crispy with paper-thin edges and others were thicker and more cakey. These make an equally amazing breakfast or dessert.

penang street foodpenang street food

8. Ais Kacang

I love this quirky dessert as a sure way to beat the heat on a sultry night at the hawker market. Shaved ice is topped with all manner of things – rose syrup, palm sugar syrup, various jellies, red beans, creamed corn, peanuts and more. Sounds a little crazy, but trust me, it’s good.

penang street food

9. Wonton Mee

I eat this a lot when I visit Malaysia because even though there has been a huge influx of Malaysian restaurants in Sydney, a good Wonton Mee is still pretty hard to find. It’s clearly a Chinese influenced dish with fresh egg noodles tossed in a mysterious dark sauce with wontons and soup, char sui pork, steamed greens and pickled chillies. Even Anthony Bourdain is a fan!

penang street food

10. Fresh Coconut

It’s gotta be one of the most refreshing drinks in Asia. Usually a guy with a machete will hack it open for you, so its fresh as can be. I can’t get enough fresh coconut juice when I’m travelling in Malaysia.

penang street food

11. Roasted Chicken Rice

Chicken rice was my earliest introduction to Malaysian food and so has a special place in my heart. The fluffy rice is cooked in chicken stock for flavour and you also get delicious garlic-chilli dipping sauce on the side. I am more used to the boiled or poached version, so the roasted skin was a nice change and super flavoursome.

penang street food

12. Roti Canai

This dish is evidence of the large Indian population in Malaysia. Watching roti being made is a thrill – lots of twirling, twisting and folding of dough by expert roti makers. The rich flaky piping-hot roti is served with a curry sauce and makes a super delicious and cheap breakfast.

penang street food

13. Chee Cheong Fun

Another Chinese influenced dish of rolled up fresh rice noodles served with a black shrimp sauce, chilli paste and a scattering of roasted sesame seeds and crispy fried shallots. It’s a lovely lunch or snack and only cost about 2RM, less than $1!

penang street food

14. Koay Teow Th’ng

This nourishing and restorative soup originated in China, with migrants bringing the flat rice noodle ‘koay teow’ with them to Malaysia, the same noodles as used in Char Kway Teow. The soup is a clear broth with fish balls, pork mince patties, chicken slices, lettuce, shallots and chillies. At first I thought that it was a strange combination of ingredients but I really loved it for breakfast, especially the lettuce!

penang street food

15. Pineapple Tarts

One morning I got hungry on the way to breakfast (haha) and stopped at a street side stand to grab a few pineapple tarts and pandan sponge cakes, which were so good that it became our daily routine while we were there. The pastry is super light and crumbly and inside was a delicious pineapple jam.

penang street food

Have I missed anything? What is your favourite Penang street food?

Related Posts: Five Days in Penang Part 1 & Part 2

Simple Dinners 14 / Lamb Skewers with Yoghurt Flatbread and Tzatziki

Lamb Skewers with Flatbread and Tzatziki

lamb skewers yoghurt flatbread
Hello friends! Happy New Year! It has been quite a while but I’m thrilled to be here with a brand new layout and super excited to get into blogging regularly again. One of the reasons that I haven’t blogged for so long was that the content and my old layout didn’t feel like ‘me’ any more. Honestly, I don’t eat cake and doughnuts every day – or even every week!

I think authenticity is so important and I want this space to feel like a real reflection of where I am now and the things I love to cook, so you’ll see a big focus on things made from scratch – my new favourite hobby. I hope you’ll take a look around at some new features like the easy to navigate Recipe Index, and sign up for my email newsletter to get extra recipes, tips and tricks sent straight to your inbox every month.

lamb skewers yoghurt flatbread
But lets talk about this recipe, which is one of our favourite Simple Dinners to make at home. My housemate and I cook together most nights and this recipe is usually a team effort – my housemate makes the lamb and tzatziki and I get to work on the flatbreads. And all of it is easier than you might think.

These lamb skewers are a really good option for feeding a crowd on a budget with everything made from scratch and big on flavour. I love the warming spices in the lamb and the added texture from the pistachios. You could also use beef in this recipe as well. As a bonus, everything can be made in advance, so you just have to throw the koftas and flatbreads onto the BBQ or griddle pan when your guests arrive. Perfect for summer entertaining!

Thanks for reading! For more Spicyicecream recipes, follow along on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Bloglovin’, Twitter, or subscribe to receive new posts via email.

lamb skewers yoghurt flatbread

Lamb Skewers with Yoghurt Flatbread and Tzatziki

Serves 4

Lamb Skewers

  • 500g lamb mince
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 thumb size piece of fresh turmeric, finely grated, or 1 tablespoon
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1/4 cup pistachios, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped

Tzatziki

  • 500g (3 cups) thick plain yoghurt
  • 1/2 white onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and seeded, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 20ml white vinegar
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • White pepper & sea salt

Yoghurt Flatbreads

  • 500g (3 cups) thick plain yoghurt
  • 400g self-raising flour
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 50ml olive oil

To make the yoghurt flatbread, stir flour, baking powder and sea salt in a bowl to combine, add yoghurt and oil and stir to combine. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface, knead until a soft dough forms (1-2 minutes), wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate to rest (at least 20 minutes). Divide into 8 pieces, roll each piece into a ball, then roll out on a lightly floured surface to 3mm thick and store between pieces of baking paper until you’re ready to cook.

To make the tzatziki, strain the yoghurt in muslin cloth suspended over a bowl for about 40 minutes. You can use the liquid that comes out, which is called the whey – it’s very good for you! Place the strained yoghurt into a bowl and stir through the onion, cucumber, garlic and vinegar. Add the cayenne, white pepper and sea salt to taste.

To make the lamb skewers, gently combine the lamb in a medium bowl with the garlic, onion, spices, pistachios and parsley, using your hands or a wooden spoon. Wet your hands and scoop about ⅓ cup of the meat into your hands and shape into oval shaped logs around pre-soaked bamboo skewers. Refrigerate until ready to cook.

Grill the flatbreads and the lamb skewers on the barbecue or griddle pan in batches, until cooked and slightly charred. Serve with tzatziki, pomegranate and fresh herbs.

Lemon Ricotta Doughnuts with Honey Chamomile Syrup

lemon chamomile doughnuts

A big hello from Manila! I’ve been here for a week and practically everything I’ve eaten has been amazing. I love visiting the local markets anywhere I go travelling – from New York to Penang-  and of course the Bondi farmers market is part of my weekend ritual. I love seeing exotic tropical fruits and locally grown vegetables, homemade pickles and preserves and street food cooked fresh in front of your eyes. The last time I visited before I left Sydney, I was excited to find fresh chamomile flowers, and I just knew I wanted to do something tasty and pretty with them.

lemon chamomile doughnuts

Most people have tried chamomile tea, but the flowers can also be used fresh or dried and have some pretty incredible health benefits. Chamomile is anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and high in anti-oxidants, which make it soothing for burns and cuts, colds and flu, stomach aches and even PMS! It’s also great for your skin and hair, and because it is caffeine free, can help you get a good night’s sleep.

lemon chamomile doughnuts

My newest favourite last minute dessert is Ricotta Doughnuts – did you know you can have fresh homemade doughnuts in less than 20 minutes? They are really very easy. No need to wait for a yeasted dough to rise and they turn out super light and fluffy. I stuck to a classic flavour combination that I knew would be lovely – honey, lemon and chamomile. If you can’t find chamomile flowers, this recipe can also work with chamomile tea. And of course, they are best enjoyed with a nice cup of tea!

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lemon chamomile doughnuts


Lemon Ricotta Doughnuts with Honey Chamomile Syrup
Makes 25-35 depending on their size

  • 180g plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 60g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 250g ricotta 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup fresh or dried chamomile flowers, or 1 chamomile tea bag
  • Extra lemon zest and chamomile flowers, to serve
Sift the flour and baking powder into a medium size bowl. Add the sugar, eggs, ricotta, vanilla extract and lemon zest and stir to combine, being careful not to overmix. This batter can be used immediately or covered and refrigerated for up to 1 day.

Heat vegetable oil in a saucepan or deep fryer until it reaches 180°C (360°F) on a candy thermometer. Drop tablespoonfuls of mixture into the hot oil (I used a small ice cream scoop for this) and cook until light golden brown. Remove doughnuts from oil with a slotted spoon and drain on absorbent paper. Repeat with remaining batter and allow to cool slightly.

In the meantime, heat the honey in a small saucepan until small bubbles form and add the flowers or tea. Allow to steep for 5-10 minutes. Drizzle warm syrup over the doughnuts and top with extra lemon zest and chamomile flowers. Doughnuts taste best on the day they are made.

Sticky Date Bourbon and Cola Pudding

sticky date bourbon & cola pudding | spicyicecream

In an almost annual Spicyicecream tradition, I present to you Sticky Date Pudding… again. It’s one of my very favourite winter desserts so I’ve shared quite a few recipes over the years, each one better than the last. Even if I think I’ve hit pudding perfection, I can’t seem to help myself – I’ve never made the same sticky date recipe twice.

sticky date bourbon & cola pudding | spicyicecream

Predictably, I couldn’t let August slip away without trying a new take on the classic – a version containing bourbon and cola from the Pitt Cue Co cookbook. What makes this version so special? The pudding uses both dates and prunes, which are simmered in Coca Cola, which breaks them down perfectly. The pudding bakes up perfectly with a layer of caramel underneath, not too dense or cake-like.

sticky date bourbon & cola pudding | spicyicecream

The sauce is epic too, it has milk chocolate and bourbon, as well as the usual suspects of butter, cream, brown sugar and sea salt – a winning combination. I made a half batch of the pudding (amended quantities below) but I’d recommend making a full batch of the sauce, because you’ll want to drizzle it on everything. Seriously. It’s a pretty big call, but I think this might be my favourite Sticky Date Pudding recipe yet. Until next year, that is…

sticky date bourbon & cola pudding | spicyicecream

Sticky Date Bourbon and Cola Pudding
Recipe from Pitt Cue Co cookbook
Serves 8-10

  • 125g dates, pitted and chopped
  • 125g prunes, pitted and chopped
  • 375ml Coca Cola
  • 85g butter
  • 125g light muscovado or brown sugar
  • 2 large free range eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 75ml bourbon
  • 325g self raising flour
  • 5g baking powder
  • 5g baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
Bourbon Caramel Sauce
  • 100g milk chocolate
  • 250g butter (I used salted)
  • 250g light muscovado or brown sugar
  • 250ml double cream
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 75ml bourbon
To make the Bourbon Caramel Sauce, put the chocolate, butter, sugar and cream into a medium pot and heat gently until melted. Take off the heat and whisk in the salt and bourbon. Pour some of the sauce into the bottom of your baking dish and chill in the fridge for 20 minutes. Set aside the rest of the sauce. 
To make the Pudding, place the chopped dates and prunes into a saucepan with the cola and simmer over low heat for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, using a stand mixer, beat together the butter and muscovado sugar. Mix in the eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla and bourbon, and then the flour and baking powder. Add the baking soda to the hot date and prune mixture, and then add this to the batter and mix until combined.
Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F). Pour the batter into the chilled tin, then bake in the oven for 40 minutes or until risen and just cooked through. Serve warm in slices with cream or ice cream and warm bourbon caramel sauce.

Cacao & Coconut Smoothie Bowl

cacao & coconut smoothie bowl | spicyicecream

Most days I start my morning with a green smoothie. I actually look forward to it when I wake up, and I think for me the nutrient hit from the fruits and vegetables is the perfect way to start the day. I’ve shared my favourite recipe before, but I’m always tweaking it depending on the time of year, what’s in season – and of course, what’s in the fridge and the fruit bowl. Most of the time I drink my green smoothies from a cute glass with my stripy Kate Spade straw (everything tastes better with a stripy straw don’t you think?) but one day I got inspired by Instagram to try a ‘smoothie bowl’ and have kind of loved them ever since.

cacao & coconut oil granola | spicyicecream

A smoothie bowl is next level in the best possible way. I love being able to add different fresh fruits and some crunch from homemade granola, chopped nuts or coconut chips. The granola itself is delicious and made with lots of nuts, coconut, raw cacao and coconut oil. It tastes naughty, but it’s actually good for you! And it smells absolutely delicious as it’s baking, with my whole apartment smelling like chocolate and cinnamon. Definitely a good thing in my books. It will keep in an airtight container indefinitely for breakfast or just as a nice crunchy snack.

cacao & coconut smoothie bowl | spicyicecream

This Cacao and Coconut Smoothie Bowl is loaded with nutrients and good fats, with a base of spinach that you can’t even see or taste. I love the creamy consistency that the avocado and bananas bring. The passionfruit and coconut are just downright delicious with the raw cacao, which is also full of antioxidants. Even though it’s very healthy and would make an excellent breakfast that will keep you satisfied until lunchtime, it tastes decadent enough that you could even have it for dessert!

cacao & coconut smoothie bowl | spicyicecream

As for the toppings, you can use any fruit that you like. I went for a mixture of passionfruit, strawberries, blueberries and chopped banana along with the homemade cacao and coconut granola. In summer some sliced peaches, pomegranate seeds and raspberries could be lovely as well. You could also add some chia seeds, cacao nibs, or other super foods. I love that these kinds of recipes are completely adaptable, so you can definitely adjust the flavours and toppings to suit your taste or dietary requirements.

cacao & coconut smoothie bowl | spicyicecream

Cacao & Coconut Smoothie Bowl
Serves 2

Cacao & Coconut Granola

  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup raw almonds, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup raw pistachios, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup coconut chips or shredded coconut
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup raw cacao powder
  • Large pinch salt
  • 3/4 cup coconut oil
  • 4 tablespoons rice malt syrup (or honey)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Smoothie Bowl

  • 1 cup spinach
  • 2 bananas, chopped (can be frozen for a cold smoothie)
  • 1 small (or 1/2 large) avocado 
  • 1 tablespoon shredded coconut
  • 10 almonds
  • 5 dates
  • Pulp of 2 passionfruit
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 4 tablespoons raw cacao powder
  • 3/4 – 1 cup almond & coconut milk
To serve – your favourite fruits and superfoods. We used the following:
  • Sliced banana
  • Sliced strawberry
  • Blueberries
  • 1/2 passionfruit
  • Coconut chips
  • Edible flowers

To make the granola, preheat the oven to 180°C (250°F). Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Heat the coconut oil, rice malt syrup and vanilla in a small saucepan until combined. Mix well into the dry ingredients until the mixture is moistened. Spread onto the baking sheet in a thin layer (use two pans if necessary) Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 20 minutes. When you remove the granola from the oven at the end, don’t stir it right away – the granola will form crunchy clusters as it cools. When cool, store in an airtight container.
To make the smoothie bowl, place all ingredients into a high powered blender and blend until completely smooth. Divide between 2 serving bowls. Garnish with a generous handful of granola and your favourite fruits. 

July Bites

july bites… the grounds

I seriously can’t believe that it’s the end of July and I’m hopping on a plane in a little over 2 weeks! We’ve been having some great weather lately that hardly feels like winter at all – which I love. These photos feel like spring and that makes me happy. I’ve been working on so many different projects that I can’t wait to share on my portfolio site soon. The health kick has had some ups and downs – it can be hard to stick to healthy eating and have a social life at the same time – but I walked over 50km in July, which is a good achievement I think. For more updates and travel pics, follow along on Instagram.

july bites… the grounds

The Food Styling Workshop that I wrote about last week was hosted at The Grounds of Alexandria, which is so Instagrammable! Here’s one more shot of the beautiful florals by Silvia. And now I’m done, I promise.

july bites… fairy bread

If you’re wondering is Steph from Raspberri Cupcakes is still alive, the answer is yes and she’s just had a baby boy!! Earlier in the month, Karen and Kat hosted a really fun baby shower – complete with El Jannah chicken and two Gelato Messina cakes. I was on fairy bread duty – always a hit, no matter how old you are.

july bites… rosé

I feel like I’ve hardly seen my housemate at all this month as we have both been so busy, but it’s lovely to catch up over a glass of wine at home and watch the sun set. And if your wine matches your flowers, that’s okay too.

july bites… messina

Fairy bread gelato from Messina – you just know I couldn’t resist!

july bites… teh tarik

The cravings for Malaysian food have been intense lately, so we decided to check out Sedap in the CBD. Their teh tarik game is strong, and I really like their Char Kway Teow and Chicken Rice as well.

july bites… l'americano

We are working very closely with Vittoria Coffee on a project that I’ll share soon, and went to check out their flagship venue L’Americano in Coco Republic Alexandria. Loved the Italian vibe and this fabulous salad of proscuitto, buffalo mozzarella, pear, basil and balsamic. A classic combination done so well.

july bites… sunset

Every time I look out the window, the sky is different, the light is amazing and the sunsets are epic. I’ll never get sick of this very special view.

july bites… korean

Before my birthday I had never been to Eastwood, home to some of Sydney’s best Korean, but in the last month I have been three times!

july bites… mrs sippy

This is one of my favourite shots from a photo shoot I did at Mrs Sippy in Double Bay earlier in the month. All their food and cocktails look seriously delicious. Can’t wait to get back for dinner sometime soon.

july bites… jenny lewis

I was soooooo thrilled to see one of my favourite artists Jenny Lewis in Sydney for the third time. But I was even more excited when she played some of the early Rilo Kiley songs I never thought I’d get to hear live, like Portions For Foxes and A Better Son/Daughter. I’ve been a fan for over 10 years and these songs are very close to my heart.

july bites… rose tea

The Grumpy Baker is a local Vaucluse favourite, known for their amazing bread, pies and sausage rolls. But I decided to try something different – a Turkish Apple and Rose tea – and it was amazing!

july bites… lulu & bee

I have also been working on the side project I am launching with my sister – Lulu & Bee, which is all about boutique wedding invitation design. I can’t say too much yet, but I’ll share some more in the coming weeks. For now here is a photo of my desk on a good day, with a healthy dose of polkadots. I hope your July was great! I’ll be back with a great new recipe very soon :)