The Best Places to Buy Food Photography Props

Where to buy Food Photography Props
Something a little different today – there’s no recipe! If you’re a fellow food blogger, you’re probably always on the look out for food photography props like plates and flatware to make your photos pop. I think the props are just as important as the food in your photos!

Your own kitchen is a great place to start, but pretty soon you will want your photos to look unique and give them your own special touch. Props are a fantastic way to add some of your own style. My collection has grown and changed over the years. In the early days of blogging, I loved patterned plates and lots of colour, but these days I love vintage props and interesting textures, and experimenting with mixing old and new things for an interesting look. Most importantly, the props you use should reflect the theme of the dish you are shooting and help you tell your story.

Part of the fun is browsing different stores for pieces you like, but if you’re looking to grow your collection I’ve put together a list below of some of my favourite places to find food photography props. I have received many bemused looks from shop assistants when I buy just one single plate or two forks, but that’s all part of the fun #stylinglife.

Where to buy Food Photography Props

Antique & Vintage Shops

When I was a kid, my parents used to drag my sister and I to every antique shop they encountered in Sydney and beyond, and I absolutely hated it. These days I love antique shops and they are one of my very favourite places to browse for genuine vintage kitchenware and props. There is something about the charm of a real vintage piece that I love in my food photos.

If you’re in Sydney try Mitchell Road Antique Centre in Alexandria (go visit after brunch at The Grounds!) and That Vintage Shop in Marrickville. Elements I Love in Leichhardt have a good selection to buy or hire and an incredible warehouse that I wanted to move into. In Melbourne I loved Chapel Street Bazaar in South Yarra so much that I had to pay for extra baggage on the way home!

Also make sure to check your local garage sales, Vinnie’s or op shops because they may have something special. This is a great way to start off your photography prop collection very affordably.

Where to buy Food Photography Props

Anthropologie

I spent a few dreamy hours wandering around a real life Anthropologie shop in New York City. Some of my very favourite photography props come from there. Unfortunately we aren’t lucky enough to have stores here in Australia – please open here soon – but I’d recommend signing up to their email list because they let you know about free international shipping offers, which I have used to grow my little collection.

Wheel & Barrow

I find myself in here “just looking” all the time – and usually walking out with a new piece or two for the collection. Wheel & Barrow is a really great source for both decorative prop items and quality kitchen gear like cake tins and glassware.

Robert Gordon

A great Australian company, Robert Gordon has a fantastic range of pieces from delicate gold polkadot teacups to beautiful glazed pottery mugs. This brand is well-stocked in many stores so it’s easy to add some gorgeous new items to your collection.

Where to buy Food Photography Props

Ebay & Etsy

If you’re after something specific, it’s only an eBay or Etsy search away! I’ve found some great food photography props this way. These are especially great to look for kitchenalia (which just means miscellaneous kitchen stuff) vintage enamelware, pie tins and pewter items. Just watch out for international shipping, which can be a bit pricey.

Local Markets

I found an excellent soda siphon and some vintage cake stands at my local Sunday markets Bondi, and I hear great things about Rozelle markets. Craft markets are a fantastic place to meet local makers, and you might find some handmade pottery or one of a kind napkins or vases that will make your photos stand out from everyone else.

Williams Sonoma & West Elm

It was a very happy day when these stores opened in Australia. I’ve found some truly excellent and great quality props from Williams Sonoma and West Elm, from stylish copper barware to some lovely plates like the unique blue one above. They also stock beautiful cloth napkins and linens. Who am I kidding? Practically every item they stock is beautiful!

Where to buy Food Photography Props

Kmart

I don’t know what’s going on but Kmart is rocking my socks with their homewares lately. I just picked up this set of gold cutlery that look fabulous in photos. Places like Kmart or other department stores are great to pick up basic items like white plates, glassware, tea towels and napkins for super affordable prices.

Raid your Nan’s Collection

Back when I first started blogging, my prop collection limited to some tea cups, plates and doilies that I had inherited from my Nan, which I still love to this day. These are very special to me. I always think it’s nice if you can use a piece that has sentimental meaning to you in your photos.

Grocers & Farmers Markets

I love using some of the fresh ingredients from the recipe itself as props in my food photos because it gives some context to the shots. Before I start cooking, I set aside the best looking berries, tomatoes and herbs for the photos. You can also find fresh flowers at the local grocer or farmers market, which always add a pop of colour and touch of femininity to your photos.

Have I missed anything? Where do you love to look for food photography props?

Carrot Cake Ricotta Pancake – Café Style Breakfast

Carrot Cake Ricotta Pancake
Sydney does a lot of things exceptionally well – sunsets, waterfront cocktails and of course brunch. One of our most internationally well-known chefs Bill Granger is most famous for his decadent scrambled eggs! Weekend brunch is serious stuff here, and you better not forget to Instagram it!

There seems to be a trend in cafés across Australia towards serving one large pancake instead of a towering stack, and I must say that I actually really love it. They are almost too pretty to eat, scattered with berries, edible flowers and microherbs. Because I don’t like eggs, my brunch options are more limited, so I will often go for the pancakes. Trust me when I say I’ve had some huge disappointments, but even when they’re good, I can’t usually finish a serving.

Carrot Cake Ricotta Pancake
I wanted to re-create this fancy café-style pancake at home, but with a twist. I’ve had the idea in my head for months to make a carrot cake ricotta pancake. I wasn’t totally sure that it would work but I can happily say that they are delicious! I used my usual trusty recipe that I knew would produce a light and fluffy pancake, but added some warm spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger and a coarsely grated carrot.

Carrot Cake Ricotta Pancake
When I tried a nibble of it – you know you must always sacrifice the first pancake – at first I thought that perhaps it wasn’t quite sweet enough, but once loaded with lots of berries, passionfruit, coconut chips and whipped ricotta, it tasted absolutely perfect. I liked the extra textural element that the grated carrot brought to the pancake, while still being light and fluffy. And hey, it never hurts to get in a sneaky extra serving of vegetables!

I usually hate bringing out the hand mixer to whisk egg whites for pancakes because it seems a little complicated pre-coffee, but I’m always glad when I do because this one little step really does create the lightest pancake. I also served my pancakes with a dollop of maple-sweetened whipped ricotta, which literally takes 1 minute and can be done with the same bowl and mixer as the egg whites.

Carrot Cake Ricotta Pancake
I think these pancakes turned out so pretty and I’m super happy with them. It’s easier than you think to make a café-style breakfast at home. So maybe next weekend change up your brunch routine and invite your friends over instead! You can use any fruit you like – bananas, raspberries and mango would all be fabulous here. You might even like to make it interactive and set out all the pancake topping ingredients in small bowls and let your friends customise their own pancake!

Related: Cider Pancakes with Apples & Cider Salted Caramel

Carrot Cake Ricotta Pancake

Carrot Cake Ricotta Pancake

Makes 3-4 large pancakes

  • 110g self raising flour
  • 1 tablespoon coconut sugar or raw sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 100g ricotta
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • Butter, for frying

Whipped Ricotta

  • 100g ricotta
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup or rice malt syrup

To serve

  • Stawberries, sliced
  • Blueberries
  • 2 passionfruits, halved
  • Edible flowers, optional
  • Coconut chips or flaked coconut

Combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, egg yolks, buttermilk and vanilla in a bowl and whisk to combine. Add the ricotta and carrot and fold mixture together to combine. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites with a hand mixer until stiff peaks form. Add to the pancake mix and fold gently until the mixture is combined.

Heat a small non-stick frypan over medium-low heat (I used 23cm pan.) Melt a little butter in the bottom and place 1/3-1/4 of the pancake mixture into the pan and spread to cover the entire base. You’ll know it’s time to flip them over when bubbles appear in the surface. I inverted it onto a plate to flip it over, as it’s larger than your normal pancake. Cook for a few more minutes until golden on both sides. Place onto a serving plate and repeat with the remaining batter to produce 3-4 large pancakes.

To make the whipped ricotta, place ricotta and maple syrup into the same bowl as the egg whites and whip with the hand mixer for about 1 minute until smooth.

To serve, scatter the surface of the pancake with half a passionfruit, sliced strawberries, blueberries, edible flowers and coconut chips or flaked coconut. Place the ricotta in the middle and let you friends dollop as much as they’d like!

 

Carrot Cake Ricotta Pancake

Healthy Recipe – Berry, Coconut & Quinoa Crumble

Healthy Berry, Coconut and Quinoa Crumble
Consider this post a love letter to one of my favourite desserts. To me, crumbles are a perfect example of a dessert that you can enjoy all year round, customise to suit the season, and cater to any dietary needs very easily without compromising on taste. I think the best thing about a crumble is that it’s so versatile. It’s definitely a good recipe to have up your sleeve when you need a fuss-free dessert that will please a crowd.

You can use almost any fruit – whether fresh or frozen – or a combination of whatever is in season. In winter, you can’t beat the comfort that comes from a warm bowl of apple and pear crumble, but a berry crumble with a big scoop of ice cream is a dream come true in summer. Stone fruits like peaches and plums also work a treat, and my love for any kind of rhubarb dessert is well documented in my archives!

Healthy Berry, Coconut and Quinoa Crumble
While I love eating most fruit fresh, there’s just something magical that happens when it’s baked underneath a crispy golden topping until it bubbles up from below. Even if your fruit is not yet ripe – or even a little overripe – baking them into a crumble will bring out their best side. Berry season has just begun in the southern hemisphere, which makes it feel like spring is really here – hooray! If your fruit is in season and already perfectly sweet, you may not need to add any sugar at all.

Healthy Berry, Coconut and Quinoa Crumble
Traditionally, the crumble topping is made by rubbing flour, butter and sugar together. The buttery clumps then form a blanket of golden deliciousness in the oven. Although you are likely to have these baking staples on hand whenever the crumble craving strikes, you can get creative by adding nuts and rolled oats for extra crunch.

Or you can go for a healthy alternative like I’ve done in the recipe below with quinoa flakes, coconut and almonds, and using coconut oil rather than butter. I loved the way the coconut and quinoa crumble baked up beautifully with a lovely crunchy texture and a lot of extra protein. I’m looking forward to experimenting with more healthy topping ingredients in the future like buckwheat, rye flour and different nuts. You really can’t go wrong. This recipe is a great jumping off point for trying out different combinations of fruit and toppings and seeing what you like the best.

Healthy Berry, Coconut and Quinoa Crumble
I also experimented with using fructose-free rice malt syrup for the crumb topping rather than honey or sugar in the recipe below and was super happy with the results! These small tweaks make it gluten free, sugar free and vegan – well, until you add the ice cream that is! So I think you could definitely call this a guilt free dessert. In fact it’s so healthy, I’d happily advocate eating this for breakfast too with a big dollop of Greek yoghurt.

Related Post: Plum and Pedro Ximénez Crumble

Healthy Berry, Coconut and Quinoa Crumble

Healthy Berry, Coconut & Quinoa Crumble

Serves 2-3

  • 125g blueberries, fresh or frozen
  • 250g strawberries, fresh or frozen
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger, freshly grated or ground
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract, or seeds of 1/2 vanilla bean
  • 1-2 tablespoons raw sugar, optional
  • 1-2 tablespoons Chambord, optional
  • 2/3 cup quinoa flakes
  • 1/3 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/3 cup flaked almonds
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 2 tablespoons rice malt syrup or honey
  • To serve: Icing sugar, cream, ice cream or yoghurt

Preheat the oven to 180°C (355°F).

Combine the blueberries, strawberries, ginger and vanilla with the raw sugar and Chambord if using. Stir to combine and divide between 2 oven proof dishes.

In a separate bowl, combine the quinoa flakes, coconut, almonds, coconut oil and rice malt syrup and stir to combine. Spread this mixture over the top of the fruit. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until topping is golden and fruit is bubbling underneath. Dust with icing sugar and serve hot or cold with cream, ice cream or Greek yoghurt.

Healthy Berry, Coconut & Quinoa Crumble

FREE No Churn Ice Cream Ebook!

No Churn Ice Cream Free Ebook!

Ice cream is one of my favourite sweet treats. Perhaps you noticed that I named my blog after it?

I have been making ice cream from scratch for years because I truly believe it tastes better this way. When I used to use my ice cream maker, I would have to remember to freeze the bowl the day before, make a custard, cool it, churn it, freeze it, and then also work out what to do with all the leftover egg whites. It was kind of a pain…especially the egg whites. One summer I had over 50 in my freezer!

Chai Ice Cream Choc Top Recipe available only in my FREE No Churn Ice Cream Ebook!
It wasn’t so quick and easy to have beautiful homemade ice cream when the craving struck. Discovering I could make delicious no churn ice cream was a complete revelation. My ice cream maker is now in storage and I’ve never looked back. I promise, it couldn’t be simpler. There’s no cooking, no churning and no eggs! The whole process is basically folding whipped cream into condensed milk with whatever flavours you like mixed or swirled in, then frozen until scoopable. So easy!

14 Delicious No Churn Ice Cream Recipes in my FREE Ebook!
I think my favourite thing about this No Churn Ice Cream is that it’s the perfect base to get creative with the flavourings. I’ve made dozens of variations on this no churn recipe over the years and they have worked every single time. The process is pretty forgiving and there’s not too much that can go wrong here, so even the kids could make it!

Today is pretty exciting, because I have put all of my favourite No Churn Ice Cream recipes from the blog, plus some delicious brand new ones together in one place and you can download this beautiful book for free! Perhaps you’ll try the Chocolate and Chilli ‘Spicy Ice Cream’ that my blog is named after, or the Chai Choc Tops – a fun recipe for movie night.

Spicy Ice Cream Recipe available only in my FREE No Churn Ice Cream Ebook!
There are 14 delicious tried and tested recipes and also step by step instructions that you can use to customise your own ice cream flavours. With summer coming up here in Australia, I’m sure you’ll love making these easy no churn recipes and enjoy homemade ice cream made from scratch! Download it instantly for free below! I hope you love it.

Peanut Butter Crunch Ice Cream Recipe available only in my FREE No Churn Ice Cream Ebook!

No Ice Cream Maker? No worries!

Make ice cream at home with step by step photos + 14 delicious recipes!

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16 Favourite Boozy Desserts for Any Season

16 Boozy Desserts for Any Season
It’s no secret that I like to make Boozy Desserts and I have posted about a lot of them over the years. In fact I usually visit the bottle shop with dessert recipes in mind, not cocktails or after work drinks! I have long been fascinated by the way that different spirits can pair so well with certain ingredients, like peaches and bourbon, chocolate and muscat or berries and moscato. And a sticky date pudding is nothing without a bourbon caramel sauce to go with it.

So I thought I’d take a trip through the archives to show you some of my very favourite boozy desserts – sixteen, in fact – from the last several years to hopefully inspire you to try out one or two for yourself. These are recipes from all seasons, from boozy popsicles for summer, to warm puddings for cold winter nights.

Chocolate Espresso Mousse with Peanut Pretzel Bark

1. Chocolate Espresso Mousse with Peanut Pretzel Bark

Chocolate pairs well with so many different kinds of booze. This Chocolate Espresso Mousse contains a relatively new favourite of mine – Mr Black Cold Pressed Coffee Liqueur. If you haven’t tried it yet, you definitely should. It makes a mean espresso martini. Actually, I can’t believe I don’t have an espresso martini inspired dessert!

boozy candy cane spiders

2. Boozy Candy Cane Spiders

If you need a fun, boozy Christmas-time treat, here it is. My delicious No Churn Candy Cane Ice Cream is turned into a boozy ‘Spider’ or ice cream float with white chocolate liqueur. The combination is delicious, especially because Christmas falls during the summer here in Australia.

boozy desserts bourbon cherry cheesecake

3. Chocolate Cherry Bourbon Cheesecake

Bourbon is probably the most common spirit I use in baking because it goes so well with everything from fruit to chocolate to caramel. But don’t worry, the flavour is subtle and lovely in this cheesecake and pairs perfectly with the cherries.

Mulled Wine Glazed Doughnuts Christmas in July

4. Mulled Wine Glazed Doughnuts

Your whole house will smell delicious and spicy while you simmer the mulled wine for this delicious syrup. And if you bottle it up nicely, it makes a lovely Christmas gift. Or you can use it to make the most amazing doughnut glaze.

boozy-desserts-brownie-cookies-maple-bourbon-buttercream

5. Brownie Cookies with Maple Bourbon Buttercream

Still one of my favourite cookie recipes ever, and one that I make often. They also makes great ice cream sandwiches. The maple flavoured buttercream is enhanced with a hint of bourbon. I told you I used a lot of bourbon! The flavours are really great and some salt helps to balance out the sweetness.

Boozy Desserts - Moscato and Berry Trifle

6. Berry & Moscato Trifles

I think Christmas is always a fun time to experiment with boozy desserts. It just adds some festive cheer, don’t you think? Moscato and berries are a match made in heaven. I love how pretty these Trifles look as individual servings, but I’ve also made this as one big trifle in a beautiful glass bowl.

Boozy Desserts - Churros with Boozy Hot Chocolate

7. Churros with Orange Spiked Hot Chocolate

If you’re eating doughnuts and hot chocolate, you might as well go all out with a shot of Cointreau in your boozy hot chocolate! This is equally perfect for breakfast like they do in Spain or dessert.

Sticky Date Bourbon and Cola Pudding

8. Sticky Date Bourbon and Cola Pudding

This recipe called to me from the pages of the Pitt Cue Co. Cookbook and it was just as delicious as it sounds. Sticky Date Pudding is one of my favourite desserts ever, and practically demands booze to keep you warm on those cold winter nights. I was intrigued by the Bourbon & Cola twist and it turned out great!

Boozy Desserts Lychee Raspberry Gin Popsicle

9. Lychee, Gin & Raspberry Ice Blocks

These Lychee, Gin & Raspberry Ice Blocks are like a cocktail but in popsicle form – something I can definitely get behind. I love taking a treat I loved as a child like ice blocks and turning it into a boozy grown up version. I used Hendricks gin because it’s infused with rose petals and cucumber, delicious with the flavours in these pops. Perfect for summer.

Boozy Desserts - Salted Caramel & Bourbon Milkshake

10. Salted Caramel & Bourbon Milkshakes

Is a milkshake technically a dessert? I don’t know, but this one sure knows how to party! This is one of my most popular posts ever – my Bourbon Salted Caramel sauce is turned into a very decadent boozy milkshake.

Boozy Hot Chocolate

11. Boozy Hot Chocolate

Three delicious ways to make your hot chocolate way more fun this winter! Frangelico is added to a dairy free Nutella Hot Chocolate. Cake-flavoured Vodka goes in the sprinkle-happy Birthday Cake White Hot Chocolate and some white chocolate liqueur makes an appearance in the Red Velvet Hot Chocolate. Just don’t ask me to pick a favourite…

Boozy Desserts - Peach & Bourbon Pie

12. Peach and Bourbon Pie

There is something about peaches and bourbon together that works so well. These pies are a celebration of that and all things summer. This is also one of my favourite pastry recipes that I use all the time.

Boozy Desserts - Pimms Trifle

13. Pimms Trifle

When I’m catching up with the girls, we usually order a jug of Pimms to share. This dessert is inspired by those happy memories  with a focus on the flavours that go into a classic Pimms Cup – cucumber, strawberry and lemon. You can really taste the Pimms in this dessert.

Boozy Desserts - Chocolate Whisky Pudding with Passionfruit Ice Cream

14. Chocolate Whisky Pudding with Passionfruit Ice Cream

Now this is one of my favourite boozy desserts ever. The flavours of chocolate, whisky and passionfruit are just perfect together. It’s actually pretty easy to make and the epitome of winter comfort food. One of my whisky-loving friends made this recently and loved it too.

Boozy Desserts - Nectarine, Raspberry and Chambord Pie

15. Nectarine, Raspberry and Chambord Pie

Chambord is a black raspberry liqueur that pairs perfectly with almost any summer fruit dessert. Of course I had to add a generous splash into the fruit mixture for this pie and it was delicious.

Boozy Desserts - Negroni Poached Pears

16. Negroni Poached Pears

This recipe is of course inspired by the classic Italian aperitif, the Negroni. I remember how good this made my apartment smell as I was poaching the pears in the Vermouth, Campari and Gin mixture for a sophisticated take on the boozy dessert.  It’s a great way to finish off a dinner party because it’s not too heavy or too sweet.

I hope you’re inspired by this roundup of Boozy Desserts. If you do try any of them please make sure to tag me in your photo on Instagram so I can see it too!

Thursday Tipples 14 / Sticky Date Bourbon Smash

Sticky Date Bourbon Smash Cocktail
If you’ve been reading for a while, you’ll know how much I love a boozy dessert. In fact I have a round up of my very favourites coming up here on the blog next week, so stay tuned. Not only do I love to make desserts that are inspired by cocktails, but I also love when I can make drinks that are inspired by desserts. And sticky date pudding is definitely one of my favourite desserts. One of the best things about winter, in my opinion! I’m actually just surprised I didn’t come up with this cocktail sooner.

Sticky Date Bourbon Smash Cocktail
Ever since I made the date caramel filling from my Sticky Date Doughnuts, I’ve had dates on the brain and was looking for other interesting ways to use them. I was recently reminded that jam could be a great cocktail ingredient, with a nice concentrated fruit flavour and sweetness. Mostly the recipes I found on Pinterest used fruit jams like blueberry and strawberry – delicious, and perfect with vodka or gin – but I thought that a date jam would be perfect in this bourbon based cocktail. I always add a glug of bourbon to my salted caramel sauce, so I thought it would be the perfect spirit here.

Sticky Date Bourbon Smash Cocktail
I paired the date jam with other ingredients that reminded me of a Sticky Date Pudding. The combination of caramelly date jam (I have seen some store bought brands, but it’s very easy and quick to make it from scratch), fresh figs, brown sugar and bourbon is definitely delicious, and a little ginger never goes astray either. To me, this feels like one of the most perfect winter drinks. Okay, it’s not served warm like a mulled wine or cider but it has all the flavours of a classic dessert and a healthy swig of bourbon that will warm you up from the inside out.

Sticky Date Bourbon Smash Cocktail
Smash cocktails are some of my favourites because I don’t have a lot of fancy bar equipment and they’re super easy to make with whatever you have on hand. You basically can’t go wrong with muddling delicious fruit together with booze – like pomegranate, lime and gin or raspberries, peaches and bourbon. You can use whatever is in season with your favourite spirit. If you don’t have a muddler, you can use the end of a wooden spoon. Even if you don’t have a cocktail shaker, you can totally make this drink in a large mason jar! Serve it in almost any glassware you like. I like that they’re so versatile.

Related: Apple Pie Pimms

Sticky Date Bourbon Smash Cocktail

Sticky Date Bourbon Smash

Serves 2

  • Large dollop date jam or date caramel
  • 1 fresh fig or Medjool date, cut into quarters, plus extra for garnishing
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 50ml your favourite Bourbon (I used Maker’s Mark)
  • Ginger beer, to top up
  • 2 sprigs rosemary or thyme, to garnish
  • Ice
Fill 2 glasses with ice. Place a date jam, fresh fig or Medjool date and brown sugar into the glass of a cocktail shaker and muddle. Add bourbon and ice cubes and shake hard, until the shaker is too cold to touch. Double strain between 2 glasses, top up with ginger beer and garnish with sliced fig and a rosemary sprig.

Triple Chocolate Brownie Skillet with Hot Fudge Sauce

Triple Chocolate Skillet Brownie with Hot Fudge Sauce
When I started baking almost 10 years ago now, I used to completely ignore recipe instructions to preheat the oven. I had no idea what mise en place was. I’d never bring my butter or eggs to room temperature before baking a cake. I hardly ever measured dry ingredients accurately. I was often so eager to start baking that I didn’t take these steps… and often didn’t read the recipe all the way through either.

More than once I had to run to the supermarket in the middle of baking, because I realised I didn’t have enough buttermilk or something. I’m totally cringing as I tell you this. I realised that all these weird instructions in the recipe were there for a reason and researched what those reasons were. It’s through practice (hundreds of cakes and cookies over the years) and some serious baking fails that I learned my lessons and ditched these bad habits!

Triple Chocolate Skillet Brownie with Hot Fudge Sauce
But, I’m still learning all the time, and until recently I had no idea there was a difference between baking chocolate and ‘eating’ chocolate. I always use quality chocolate that I’d be happy to nibble on in my cooking, but specialty baking chocolate has been formulated with heating, melting and pouring in mind. And while normal chocolate obviously tastes good, it sometimes doesn’t pass the test for baking. Nestlé is re-launching their new and improved Bakers’ Choice products and I was invited to test them out in a fun baking challenge.

The range includes products I was already familiar with and use often – Cocoa Powder and Choc Bits – my go to for chocolate chip cookies because they hold their shape when baked. But there are also Chocolate Chunks that can be melted and poured on top of slices and Chocolate Melts that melt beautifully and set hard and glossy without the need to temper or even refrigerate your chocolate. Tempering chocolate scares me, so I call this a win!

Triple Chocolate Skillet Brownie with Hot Fudge Sauce
To road test the new products, I decided to make some individual Triple Chocolate Brownie Skillets with homemade no churn chocolate chilli ice cream (already sitting in the freezer) and a quick and easy hot fudge sauce to take this to pure decadence. Why are they triple chocolate? The brownie has a mixture of milk and dark chocolate chunks, with white chocolate chips stirred in and sprinkled on top.

I have to admit, I had to have a bit of a think about what I was going to do in each step of the recipe to make sure I picked the correct product for the job. If you aren’t sure, just know that the most versatile of the bunch is the Chocolate Chunks as they melt wonderfully or taste good as they are, perfect for stirring into brownies, cookies or muffins.

Triple Chocolate Skillet Brownie with Hot Fudge Sauce
I might only ever bake brownies in skillets from now on. I love how the edges get crispy while the middle remains gooey and molten. Underbaking slightly is encouraged with brownies like this, especially when you can just pile ice cream and fudge sauce on top and dig straight in with a spoon.

They look so cute as individual servings in these mini cast iron skillets. These brownies are a blank canvas – you could of course add your favourite nuts, chopped up candy bars or a swig of your favourite booze but I love the contrast of white and dark chocolate.

Triple Chocolate Skillet Brownie with Hot Fudge Sauce
For the hot fudge sauce I used the dark chocolate Melts, and you can see that perfect drizzle consistency when it’s warm, and then it sets just slightly once it hits to cool ice cream. I would usually use a really high quality chocolate to make this sauce since it’s the dominant flavour, but I’m happy to report that it still tasted amazing. Since the recipe makes a little more than you need, I also tested how well it re-warms in the microwave later on and it was perfect.

Thank you again to Nestlé for letting me test out these new products and create something delicious with them. I am looking forward to using the products in my every day baking – I think the Melts would be excellent to make Sprinkle Bark!

This is not a sponsored post, but all Nestlé products were gifted to me. All opinions are my own.

Triple Chocolate Skillet Brownie with Hot Fudge Sauce

Double Chocolate Brownie Skillet with Hot Fudge Sauce

Serves 2

Brownie Skillet (adapted from Ina Garten)

  • 60g unsalted butter
  • 60g milk chocolate chunks
  • 20g dark chocolate chunks
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons plain flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup white chocolate bits
  • Ice Cream, to serve

Hot Fudge Sauce

Note: This recipe will make more than you need, but it will store in the fridge for up to 4 weeks.

  • 90ml thickened cream
  • 100g Nestlé Dark Chocolate Chunks
  • 25g brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Melt the butter, milk and dark chocolate chunks chocolate together in a medium bowl set over simmering water. Set aside for 15 minutes. In a large bowl, stir (do not beat) together the eggs, vanilla and sugar. Stir the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and allow to cool to room temperature.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, the baking powder and salt and add to the chocolate mixture. Add 1/4 cup of chocolate chips and stir through to distribute evenly. Spoon the mixture between the mini cast iron skillets and place them on a sheet pan. Scatter the remaining chocolate chips over the top. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

In the meantime, make the Hot Fudge Sauce. Place ingredients into a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir with a metal or wooden spoon until chocolate is almost melted. Remove the bowl from the heat and continue to stir until chocolate melts. Serve warm or transfer to a clean airtight jar or container. Store in the fridge for 3-4 weeks.

Serve brownie skillets warm with a scoop of ice cream and hot fudge sauce on top.

Cacao Chia Bliss Balls – Healthy Homemade Snacks!

Cacao Chia Bliss Balls Healthy Snack
After a few too many weekend pizza binges and really late nights working, I decided it was definitely time for a season of healthier eating and self care. Nothing too radical, no crash diets, but small easy to stick to tweaks to my routine that will hopefully turn into long term lifestyle changes.

More vegetables, less sugar.
More cooking at home, because I find such pleasure in doing it.
Less grabbing an unhealthy lunch on the run purely out of hunger and desperation. 

Mostly I’ve done really well. I am waking up more easily and feel like I have more energy. The main time I struggle with eating healthy is when I haven’t been organised. I tend to make poor choices when I’m really hungry! For me, the key to following through on any new habit is definitely planning. If I forget to get groceries, or don’t have a shopping list, it’s a disaster. It’s really simple – when I have a fridge full of healthy food, I eat healthy!

Cacao Chia Bliss Balls Healthy Snack
And it’s for all of those reasons that I love these little Bliss Balls. They are so easy to make in advance – basically all the ingredients are dumped in the food processor! They make a fantastic snack with the bonus of  being easily portable for when you’re on the go. No more chocolate bars, or store-bought ‘healthy’ granola bars that are actually packed full of sugar and weird ingredients you don’t recognise.

Cacao Chia Bliss Balls Healthy Snack
They are absolutely delicious. I mean that! I’m now a bliss ball convert. It’s the perfect snack that makes you feel like you’re treating yourself after dinner, but really isn’t too naughty. Naturally sweet because of the dates, which also help in binding everything together. Next time I’m going to try them with Medjool dates because lots of people recommend them for their taste and texture.

These bliss balls are vegan, gluten free and contain healthy fats and protein from the nuts, chia seeds and coconut oil. Cacao has a whole lot of health benefits too, like balancing your hormones and reducing blood pressure – plus it’s a proven mood enhancer! There’s nothing artificial. No ingredients you can’t pronounce. It’s all good stuff in here.

Cacao Chia Bliss Balls Healthy Snack
You can definitely use this recipe as a jumping off point to experiment here too. Use cashews, hazelnuts or brazil nuts instead of macadamias as they all have different healthy properties. Maybe some high quality protein powder or matcha instead of the cacao. You could add some tahini or peanut butter. Try different dried fruits like mango or figs – just watch out for the sugar content. The possibilities are literally endless. I definitely have some ideas to try out for next time too, because this batch is all gone!

Related Post: Cacao & Coconut Smoothie Bowl

Cacao Chia Bliss Balls Healthy Snack

Cacao Chia Bliss Balls

Makes 16
Adapted from Donna Hay

  • 1/2 cup (80g) almonds
  • 1/2 cup (70g) macadamias
  • 1/4 cup (20g) shredded coconut
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons cacao powder (not cocoa)
  • 1 teaspoon chia seeds
  • 16 fresh dates, pitted
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil

Place the almonds, macadamias, coconut, vanilla, cacao and chia seeds into a food processor and process until roughly chopped. Add the dates and coconut oil and process until the mixture comes together. Roll tablespoons of the mixture into balls. Store in the fridge for up to two weeks.

Mulled Wine Glazed Doughnuts for Christmas in July

Mulled Wine Glazed Doughnuts Christmas in July
This year is flying by so fast, it feels like Christmas was only just here… and will be here again real soon once the malls put their decorations in September. But it’s time to dig out your ugly sweaters and fruit mince pies, because we like to celebrate Christmas twice a year! The usual Australian Christmas is very different to what you’re used to in the Northern Hemisphere.

December falls right in the middle of our summer, and there are much more likely to be cold salads, prawns and a swim in the pool after lunch. Celebrating Christmas in July means we get to indulge in all of the traditional dishes and everything else that goes with a winter Christmas when we can truly enjoy them – when it’s cold outside!

Mulled Wine Glazed Doughnuts Christmas in July
I’m thinking hot roast turkey and ham, mulled wine, steamed puddings and fireplaces. And I hope that on the other side of the world, you guys can experience what it’s like to have a Christmas celebration in summer with fresh seafood, cherries and pavlova.

Of course I had to make a little something inspired by the faux-festive season.

I’ve taken the warm, spiced mulled wine we love in winter and turned it into one of the most delicious doughnut glazes ever. But the best part is, I think these babies could be enjoyed no matter which hemisphere you live in.

Mulled Wine Glazed Doughnuts Christmas in July
I used extra dough I had leftover from making the Sticky Date doughnuts, so it already had a hint of spice. As I said in that post, I loved working with this dough. Don’t be scared of working with yeast. You don’t need any fancy equipment. I used my hand mixer with the dough hook attachment, but you could easily make it by hand if you feel like getting a workout at the same time.

Then I reduced down some mulled wine to a sticky syrup – just like in this post. You will have some leftover, which you can use for so many different things – drizzle some over roasted stone fruit, add to a red wine sangria, as a glaze for roast ham or duck, or simply over a few scoops of ice cream. Delicious.

Mulled Wine Glazed Doughnuts Christmas in July
Just a quick note on the mulled wine syrup. Next time I make this – because oh yes, there will be a next time – I would not add sugar to the mulled wine syrup itself. When it gets mixed into the icing sugar to make the glaze, it does become very sweet, so I feel this would help balance it out and make the flavour of the mulling spices more prominent. I’ve allowed for this change in the recipe below.

Look at that super shiny glaze!! I decorated them with fresh raspberries, cherries and orange zest. I loved the tartness and hint of citrus that helped to offset the sweet glaze, and I think they turned out super pretty.

Related Post: Mulled Wine Marshmallows

Mulled Wine Glazed Doughnuts Christmas in July

Mulled Wine Glazed Doughnuts

Doughnuts (Adapted from The Sugar Hit)

  • 250g plain flour
  • 30g caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon dried yeast
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 75ml warm water
  • 60g butter, softened
  • Vegetable oil, for frying

Mulled Wine Syrup

  • 1 bottle (750ml) red wine
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 5 whole cloves
  • ½ vanilla bean, seeds scraped
  • Zest of 1 orange, removed with a vegetable peeler

Mulled Wine Glaze

  • 150g icing sugar, sifted
  • 3-4 tablespoons mulled wine syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Raspberries and extra orange zest, to decorate

To make the doughnuts, place all the ingredients except the butter into a large bowl. Using a hand mixer or stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, work on a low speed for about 4 minutes, or until combined and elastic. With the mixer still running, add the butter one piece at a time until it is fully incorporated. There should be no visible pieces. This will take about 5-8 minutes.

Scrape down the sides of the bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a clean tea towel, and set aside in a warm place to rise until doubled in size.

To make the mulled wine syrup, place ingredients into a saucepan over medium heat and stir to dissolve the sugar. Bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer for 30-40 minutes or until liquid is syrupy. It will continue to thicken as it cools. Use immediately or strain into sterilised bottles or jars to give as gifts. Lasts indefinitely in the fridge.

When the dough has risen, punch it down, and scrape it out onto a well-floured surface, pat the dough into a rectangle, about ½ inch (just over 1cm) thick, and cut out 9 donuts using a 2.5inch (5cm) round cutter. Place onto a lined baking sheet, cover with plastic or tea towel again, and set aside to rise for another 45 minutes, or until puffy.

Place about 5cm of oil into a saucepan or use a deep fryer and heat over a low flame, until it reaches 170°C ( °F). To test, place a small piece of dough in the oil, and when it bubbles and rises to the surface, the oil should be the right temperature. Fry the donuts a few at a time (don’t crowd the pan) for about 1 minute each side or until they are golden brown and cooked through. Drain the donuts on paper towels and allow to cool slightly.

To make the glaze, place icing sugar in a bowl with mulled wine syrup and vanilla extract and whisk to make a smooth, pourable glaze. Dip cooled doughnuts into glaze and place onto a cooling rack with a tray placed underneath to catch stray drips of glaze. Decorate with raspberries and orange zest. These doughnuts are best eaten on the day they’re made.

Simple Dinners 17 / One Pot Moroccan Chicken

One Pot Moroccan Chicken
Are you one of those people who finds washing dishes therapeutic? These days I don’t mind so much but as a kid I absolutely hated it. My sister and I would always argue over whose turn it was to wash or dry, and it truly was the bane of our lives. I had no idea a family of four could go through so many dishes in a day. And how many pots and pans could be used to make a single meal?!

One of the reasons I started this Simple Dinners column is to share more recipes just like this and inspire you to maybe try something new for dinner this week.

Everything cooked in the one pot. Not too much washing up. Not too time consuming. Easy for weeknights. Maximum deliciousness.

One Pot Moroccan Chicken
This dish is actually the combination of two recipes I really like and make pretty often – a chunky chicken and vegetable soup with risoni and a Moroccan chicken stew that is usually served with cous cous. One night, I didn’t have the ingredients to make either recipe properly, but had the idea to merge them together. It was really delicious and I’ve been making it this way ever since.

The best thing is that it’s all very easy. You get a big return on investment in terms of comfort and deliciousness for just a small amount of effort. Throw a bunch of super flavourful things into your food processor to make a paste. If you have time, you can marinate your chicken for a few hours or overnight, but if we’re being honest, I always forget this step and it still tastes amazing.

One Pot Moroccan Chicken
Then you brown your lemons, and then the chicken, and add the flavour paste and everything else to the same pot for a nice simmer with the lid on. The risoni is added last to take on all those amazing flavours that have been developing. I like to serve it family style in the same pot it was cooked in with a scattering of fresh herbs and a green salad on the side and everyone can help themselves.

This dish truly does pack a punch with Moroccan flavours – saffron, turmeric, ras el hanout (a medley of North African spices) and preserved lemons, which I just love with chicken. The bold spices pair perfectly with green olives and the brightness of fresh lemons and herbs.

One Pot Moroccan Chicken

One Pot Moroccan Chicken

Adapted from this recipe
Serves 4-6

Spice Paste

  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup coriander
  • 1/2 cup parsley
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Thumb size piece of fresh ginger (or 1 teaspoon ground ginger)
  • Thumb size piece of fresh turmeric (or 1 teaspoon ground turmeric)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ras el hanout
  • Salt & white pepper, to taste

Moroccan Chicken

  • Olive oil
  • 1 lemon, cut into thin slices
  • 6 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs
  • 2 pieces preserved lemon, thinly sliced
  • Splash of white wine, optional
  • 2-3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup risoni
  • Pitted green olives
  • Fresh coriander and parsley, for garnish

To make the spice paste, place all ingredients into a food processor and pulse until well combined. If you have time, you can marinate the chicken thighs with the spice paste in a zip-lock bag in the fridge for up to 24 hours, but it is still delicious without this step.

Heat the olive oil in a large deep frypan. Add the lemon slices and cook until browned. Remove from the pan and set aside. Add the chicken pieces (reserving the extra spice paste marinade if you did this step) and cook skin side down for about 5 minutes until browned. Turn the pieces over, Add the white wine and scrape the bottom of the pan. Add the fresh spice paste or reserved marinade, 1 cup chicken stock and the preserved lemons. Bring to the boil, turn the heat down to medium-low and cover with the lid to simmer for about 40 minutes.

Taste for seasoning now and add any extra salt, pepper and spices. Add the risoni, some extra stock, the olives and the grilled lemons and cover for a further 10-15 minutes or until the chicken is falling off the bone. Garnish with chopped coriander and parsley.

One Pot Moroccan Chicken