Earl Grey Chocolate Chip Cookies

Earl Grey Chocolate Chip Cookies
This time five years ago, I had just got back from a 3 week solo trip to America and I was sorely missing my own kitchen. The first thing I baked when I got home were Chocolate Chip Cookies, with a twist – some rosemary infused sugar gave the cookies a lovely herbaceous vibe and the flavour was incredible. Cookies are what comfort food dreams are made of, and I feel like always a great way to ease back in to your kitchen when you’ve been away for a while.

I haven’t done much baking in the last few months. Baking is definitely my happy place so I’m looking forward to just playing around in the kitchen to get my mojo back! This recipe has been on my ‘to make’ list for literally years, and I can’t believe it’s taken this long because I just knew the combination would be delicious. Earl Grey Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Earl Grey Chocolate Chip Cookies
Oooh yes. I am a massive fan of tea and T2’s French Earl Grey has been a consistent fave since my early days of blogging, both to drink and also to use in baking. I’ve used it in everything from ice cream to bread and butter pudding and I’m sure I will continue to do so long into the future. It has such a lovely floral scent from the bergamot and pretty petals. I left the box on my bookshelf the other day and I could smell it like the most delicious air freshener.

Earl Grey Chocolate Chip Cookies
I have been making the New York Times famous chocolate chip cookies for years, but I couldn’t be bothered waiting overnight before I baked them. This time around I decided to try Donna Hay’s classic recipe. Is anyone else a tiny bit crushed that the magazine has ceased production? 😭

I really liked the recipe, it was simple and easy to follow (although a stand mixer would have made the process a little easier) and allowed me to add the earl grey flavour in two different ways. I warmed the milk and infused it with the tea, and also added some finely ground tea to the dough to intensify the flavour.

Earl Grey Chocolate Chip Cookies
I was so happy with how they came out. The cookies were the perfect combination of slightly crisp around the outside but still had a lovely chewy texture in the middle and more than enough chocolate chips. The tea flavour in the uncooked mixture was definitely more noticeable than after they were baked, but I did love the subtle hint of somethingsomething that made it different from your average cookie. I used 2 tablespoons of ground tea, but feel free to add a little more if you want a stronger flavour!

Of course, I enjoyed these with a cup of tea, and then shared them with some of my fellow tea obsessed friends who loved them equally as much.

Earl Grey Chocolate Chip Cookies

Related Post: Lemon & Earl Grey Ice Cream Float

Earl Grey Chocolate Chip Cookies

Adapted from Donna Hay
Makes 18-22 depending on size

  • 2 teaspoons + 2 tablespoons French Earl Grey tea (I used T2)
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 200g cold unsalted butter, chopped
  • 175g brown sugar
  • 165g white granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 300g plain (all purpose flour)
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 300g dark chocolate chips or chunks, roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F). Heat the milk in the microwave for 30 seconds or until warm. Add 2 teaspoons of French Earl Grey tea and allow to infuse for at least 10 minutes, and then strain out the tea leaves.

Using a coffee/spice grinder (or I used the milling blade in my Nutribullet) process the 2 tablespoons of tea to form a fine powder. Set aside.

Place the butter, brown sugar and white sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on low speed until just combined. Increase the speed and beat until pale and creamy, scraping down the bowl with a spatula when necessary. Add the infused milk and egg, and beat for another 2 minutes or until light and fluffy.

Sift in the flour, baking powder, bicarb soda, salt and ground tea and beat until combined. Add the chocolate and stir.

Roll heaped tablespoons of the mixture into balls and place on a baking tray lined with non-stick paper. Leave space between the balls of cookie dough because they will expand and spread in the oven. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool on the tray for 5 minutes before transferring onto wire racks to cool.

Note: I made mine in 3 batches, with 6 at a time, but if baking more than one tray at a time, switch around their shelf positions to ensure they cook evenly.

Fig Crumble Tart with Honey Whipped Ricotta

Fig Crumble Tart with Honey Whipped Ricotta
It was Spicyicecream’s 11th birthday the other day. That completely blows my mind. My blogging efforts have been a less frequent in recent years due to #freelancelife that can get a little hectic sometimes, but I still love coming here to share my favourite new recipes.

My own archives are kind of like browsing through my favourite cookbook – even though some of the old photos make me cringe! I refer back to them over and over when I want to revisit an old favourite, or when I want to adapt them into something new. When I started this blog I was a 19 year old student who could barely make muffins, but I had a passion for photography and was so excited to learn about baking, try new techniques and experiment with ingredients and flavour combinations. 


This has turned into a love of cooking that will absolutely be with me for life, a curiosity for learning about different cuisines, and a passion for making things from scratch, from cake to kim chi. For me, baking is still a wonderful blend of science and magic, and kneading dough is often all I need to relieve stress on a bad day.

These are the recipes that taught me almost everything I know about cooking. These are the recipes I loved so much and was so excited about that I naturally wanted to share.  In a nutshell, I know they work… and they definitely taste good!

Fig Crumble Tart with Honey Whipped Ricotta
But I find it really hard to stick to a written recipe, even if it’s my own! I am always making little tweaks to pretty much everything I try to cook. I view a recipe as more of a starting point or a source of inspiration to put your own spin on the dish. So today I’m sharing one for a Fig Galette Tart that first appeared on the blog in 2011.

With this version of the Fig Tart I decided to and add some texture with a buttery crumble scattered over the top, which was delicious. In the original recipe, the honey sweetened ricotta went underneath the fruit but this time I’ve whipped it up and served it on the side for a creamy accompaniment that pairs perfectly with the warm fruit and buttery pastry. I love this kind of free-form tart, as unfussy as they come, but oh so delicious. 

Fig Crumble Tart with Honey Whipped Ricotta

Fig Crumble Tart with Honey Whipped Ricotta

Serves 4

Pastry

  • 2 cups plain flour
    3 teaspoons caster sugar
    150g unsalted butter, cold
    4 tablespoons iced water

Filling & Crumble

  • 6 figs, sliced
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 55g butter, softened
  • 1 egg, whisked

Honey Whipped Ricotta

  • 100g smooth ricotta
  • 2 teaspoons honey, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

To make the pastry, place flour, caster sugar and butter in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. With the motor running, add the iced water and process until the mixture starts to form a dough. Knead lightly on a floured work surface until dough just holds together. Divide into 2 discs and wrap each in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). To make the crumble, combine the sugar, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and butter. Rub butter into the mixture with your fingertips until crumbly clusters form. 

Roll out the pastry to 3mm thick round shape. Sprinkle on 1/3 of the crumble mixture and then layer the sliced figs on top. Fold in the sides of the pastry, brush with egg and scatter with remaining crumble. Bake for 20-30 minutes until pastry is golden and figs are tender.

While the tart is baking, whisk the ricotta together with the honey and vanilla and set aside. Serve tart in slices with a generous dollop of honey whipped ricotta and an extra drizzle of honey.

Simple Dinners 21 / Cauliflower Pizza with Roasted Pumpkin and Prosciutto

Simple Dinners - Cauliflower Pizza with Roasted Pumpkin
There must be millions of recipes for quick and easy meals online and in the dozens of cookbooks and food magazines, but the midweek dinner is still a massive pain point for most people. Even those of us who love to cook often struggle with organising meal prep or grocery shopping in advance – this requires a level of logistical prowess I just don’t seem to have. Most days require a dash to the supermarket for last minute dinner ingredients.

Sometimes it is just easier to order takeaway, but when trying to keep things healthy or on budget, cooking at home is definitely the better option on both counts. I also take cooking dinner as an opportunity to wind down from my day and a chance to chat to my housemate as we both chop vegetables or stir something on the stove.

Simple Dinners - Cauliflower Pizza with Roasted Pumpkin
I love to make healthier versions of classic takeout dishes, which are perfect for when you want a treat to satisfy your craving but also the satisfaction of having made it yourself and knowing that it’s way healthier than the greasy version from your local down the street.

I appreciate the freedom to adapt the recipe however you like, and modify them for specific dietary requirements, or just whatever ingredients you have in the fridge. I’ve perfected burrito bowls, burgers and green curry, but I’m still tweaking my beef rendang.

Simple Dinners - Cauliflower Pizza with Roasted Pumpkin
Today’s recipe is a healthy option for pizza that uses cauliflower and almond meal in the base instead of the usual white flour and yeast. It’s low carb and doesn’t need any rising time or kneading! I was really surprised how quickly it came together in the food processor.

You can use any of your favourite toppings, but I have made a version with rosemary roasted pumpkin, prosciutto and mozzarella which was absolutely delicious. I absolutely loved how they came out and I see this being added to my list of favourites.

Simple Dinners - Cauliflower Pizza with Roasted Pumpkin
The texture wasn’t exactly the same as a normal pizza, but it didn’t have a noticeable taste of cauliflower. The one thing I would do differently next time is use a pizza stone to bake the bases to see if it could make them more crispy.

I think they would also freeze well, so you have an extra base ready to go the next time you get home from work hungry and want a quick and easy dinner!

Simple Dinners - Cauliflower Pizza with Roasted Pumpkin

Cauliflower Pizza with Roasted Pumpkin and Prosciutto

  • 1/2 butternut pumpkin (squash), cut into 1cm cubes
  • Rosemary sprigs
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Fresh bocconcini balls
  • Prosciutto
  • Basil leaves

Cauliflower Base
Makes 2

  • 600g cauliflower florets, roughly chopped
  • 90g almond meal
  • 50g grated parmesan
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) and line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper. Toss the pumpkin cubes with rosemary, olive oil, salt and pepper and bake for about 30 minutes until soft and cooked through.

To make the cauliflower pizza bases, line some pizza trays or pizza stones with non-stick baking paper. Blitz the cauliflower in a food processor, in batches if necessary until it has a fine texture like bread crumbs. Transfer to a large bowl and stir the almond meal, parmesan, eggs, salt and pepper together until a soft dough forms. Press into rounds on the prepared trays and bake for about 30 minutes until golden and crisp.

To make the pizza, grate parmesan over the warm pizza base, and scatter with the roasted pumpkin. Return to the oven for about 8-10 minutes until the cheese is melted and pumpkin is crispy. To serve, top with torn bocconcini balls, prosciutto, basil leaves, and a little more salt and pepper. Cut into slices and serve immediately.

Mini Choc Malt Marbled Bundt Cakes

Mini Chocolate Malt Marbled Bundt Cakes
I had so many ideas for great Easter recipes this year, but in the last few weeks time completely got away from me. So I’m hopping (get it?) in here very quickly with a few days to go before Easter. If you need a quick and easy homemade dessert, I’ve got your back!

I was recently decluttering my photography props and baking stuff, and found these bundt tins which I’ve only used once before. Immediately I started brainstorming flavour combos for my mini bundt cakes, but returned to a well known classic – one of my very favourites – choc malt.

Mini Chocolate Malt Marbled Bundt Cakes
I have always loved the combination of chocolate and malt. As a kid, I used to put Milo on top of everything from ice cream to cereal. A few years ago I made a No Churn Malt Ice Cream that is still on high rotation (I actually made it last weekend – it’s my guy’s favourite). A bag of Maltesers is still one of my favourite movie snacks. And when I’m feeling particularly daring, I test the limits of my lactose intolerance with a malted milkshake from Big Daddy’s. Worth it.

Mini Chocolate Malt Marbled Bundt Cakes
So I’ve used those delicious flavours marbled together in these lovely mini bundt cakes, drizzled with homemade chocolate sauce and topped with yet more crushed up Maltesers. The cake itself comes together really easily and quickly. You start by making one basic cake batter, and then split it in half to add the cocoa and malt powder for the two different flavours. They are then swirled together in the cake tins for that lovely marbled look. The malt flavour is more subtle in the final baked cake than it was in the raw batter, so you can add a little extra if you like.

Mini Chocolate Malt Marbled Bundt Cakes
I think they came out looking so cute! They are perfect for Easter gifting, or you could make the recipe into one large cake to share with your family and friends. I hope that you all have a wonderful extra long weekend! I’ll be back next week with a healthy recipe just in case you need to get back on track after overindulging over the Easter season!

Related Post: Mini Lemon Sugar Bundt Cakes

Mini Chocolate Malt Marbled Bundt Cakes

Mini Choc Malt Marbled Bundt Cakes

Makes 8 small or 1 large cake

  • 150g butter
  • 220g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 375g self-raising flour
  • 250ml almond milk
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 2 (or more) tablespoons malted milk powder
  • 100g dark chocolate
  • 100g milk chocolate
  • 1 tablespoon butter or coconut oil
  • Crushed Maltesers

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Grease your mini bundt tins or large bundt tin well with non-stick baking spray. Beat butter and caster sugar until pale and creamy. Beat in eggs and vanilla extract.

Fold in self-raising flour and milk. Divide mixture in half, in 2 separate bowls. Stir in cocoa powder to one portion, and the malted milk powder into the other one and mix well to combine. Alternately spoon the mixtures into the pan and swirl together with a skewer or chopstick to marble.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Set aside for 15 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool. To make the glaze, melt the dark and milk chocolate with the butter in a double boiler or in 20 second bursts in the microwave. Spoon the glaze over the cake to serve and scatter with crushed Maltesers. If possible, decorate the cake just prior to serving.

Papaya Fruit Boats with Grain Free Granola

Papaya Boats with Grain Free Granola
Once upon a time, I used to make granola every week or two for a quick and convenient homemade breakfast… but it’s been quite a long while since my last batch. Today I’ve made a low carb, gluten-free, grain-free and vegan version of my favourite granola, filled with lots of delicious and healthy nuts, seeds, and coconut flakes that will start your day without a sugar rush and the inevitable mid-morning crash.

Making this brought back memories – I loved the process of roughly chopping up the nuts, heating the honey and oil, stirring everything together, and breaking up the golden crunchy clusters as it cooled. But the best thing was the amazing smell that came from my oven and wafted through my apartment as it cooked – I had really missed that!

Papaya Boats with Grain Free Granola
This grain free granola is so tasty – I have other 5 people and counting telling me how delicious it is! I’ve been eating it on it’s own, with some coconut yoghurt or almond milk, and sprinkled on top of green smoothies or smoothie bowls. But if you want to get a little extra at breakfast time, I have something special for you… Papaya coconut yoghurt boats!

I’ve seen this yummy idea on Instagram and in a few Sydney cafes and wanted to try it myself. The papaya seeds are scooped out and the fruit itself is used as a bowl for whatever delicious toppings you like – yoghurt, chia pudding, banana ‘nicecream’ or a smoothie, and whatever fruit is currently in season. Papayas are loaded with nutrients and health benefits – especially for immunity and digestion – making this breakfast healthy, delicious, and actually really fun to eat!

Papaya Boats with Grain Free Granola
At the moment, I’m making the most of the last of summer berries and figs – all my favourite things. I made it again on another day with sliced banana, fresh passionfruit and mango. Both times, the homemade grain free granola sprinkled over the top gave it a great crunch. I love how colourful and inviting they look – in a perfect world I’d eat this for breakfast every single day.

While I don’t label myself as following any kind of diet, I know that I feel much better when I’m eating lower carbs and less dairy. Coconut yoghurt is a favourite of mine because it doesn’t leave me feeling bloated, and you only need a little bit to be satisfied because it’s so creamy and thick. I definitely have to experiment with making it from scratch at home, because damn girl, it’s expensive!

Papaya Boats with Grain Free Granola
Of course like any of my posts, this is just a starting point and you can tweak the granola recipe to include any of your favourite nuts and seeds. You could even add some dried fruits like goji berries, sultanas or dried blueberries after it has baked and cooled. I’d love to try a version with cacao nibs and pistachios thrown in. The options are endless to truly make it your own and suitable for your own tastes and dietary requirements.

Related Post: Anti-Hayfever Smoothie (another delicious papaya recipe!)

Papaya Boats with Grain Free Granola

Grain Free Granola

  • 200g almonds
  • 50g pecans
  • 60g cashews
  • 75g sunflower seeds
  • 90g pepitas
  • 160g coconut flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil or melted coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup rice malt syrup or honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

To make the grain free granola, preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) and line 2 trays with non-stick baking paper. Roughly chop the almonds, pecans and cashews and place into a bowl. Add the sunflower seeds, pepitas, coconut flakes and cinnamon and stir to combine.

Heat the oil, rice malt/honey and vanilla together in a small saucepan or in the microwave for about 30-40 seconds until liquid and stir through the nuts until completely coated. Spread evenly over the baking trays and bake for 30 minutes, rotating the trays and stirring every 10 minutes until cooked and golden. Allow to cool on the trays, stirring every few minutes to break up the clusters. Store in an air-tight container.

Papaya Fruit Boats

Serves 2

  • 1 papaya
  • 500g coconut yoghurt
  • 2 figs, sliced
  • Handful of raspberries and blueberries
  • Fresh baby herbs or edible flowers, optional
  • Grain free granola (recipe above), to sprinkle

To make the papaya fruit boats, cut the papaya in half and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Fill the centres with coconut yoghurt. Top with your favourite fresh fruits, I’ve used sliced figs, raspberries and blueberries here. Scatter with grain free granola and fresh baby herbs or edible flowers if you like.

Spiced Pineapple and Coconut Jam with Rum

Spiced Pineapple Coconut Jam with Rum
A couple of weeks ago, I invited a bunch of friends over for a ‘Pineapple Party’ – a celebration of all things pineapple shaped and flavoured. It was so much fun to plan and put together and everyone had a great time eating and drinking all manner of pineapple dishes and drinks.

I served pulled pork with pineapple and coriander salsa, pineapple, honey and soy chicken wings, a piña colada trifle and old skool pineapple lollies. My lovely friends brought doughnuts, cookies, upside down cake and more. There was a lot of amazing food.

Spiced Pineapple Coconut Jam with Rum
But one of the most popular was Steph’s pineapple jam and homemade scones. Back in the day, we used to brainstorm recipes together almost every day. She may not have time to blog any more, but she is still a badass cook and scones are her specialty. Everyone loved them, and me so much that I used my leftover pineapple to make my own version of a spiced pineapple jam.

Combining pineapple with spices like star anise, cinnamon and cardamom may not be your first instinct, but I’ve done it a few times in a panna cotta and a delicious cordial. I thought this flavour combination would be lovely in a jam, with some spiced rum, and maybe some coconut. The smells coming from my kitchen while this was cooking were absolutely incredible and it tastes even better.

Spiced Pineapple Coconut Jam with Rum
The shredded coconut gives the jam a really unique texture, quite different to any jam I’ve made before, but I really liked it. You could serve it with scones or on toast, or even turn it into the filling of a pie or tart. Or if you prefer a more traditional textured jam, just leave it out, and it will still taste amazing. And if you’re making this jam for the whole family, either add the rum all at once and cook out the alcohol or just omit it completely.

Making unique jam flavours that you’d never see in the shops is a passion of mine, but I don’t want to be stuck with 14 jars in my fridge. Luckily it’s very easy to make small batches of jam! You get the satisfaction of having made something yourself but without having to spend all day in the kitchen sterilising jars and all year eating the same jam! I love that I can turn one pineapple or a kilo of stone fruit, or a few punnets of in-season berries into a jar or two of delicious jam.

Related Post: Homemade Tomato and Chilli Jam

Spiced Pineapple Coconut Jam with Rum

Spiced Pineapple and Coconut Jam with Rum

Recipe adapted from Women’s Weekly Made from Scratch

  • 1 pineapple
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 lime, zest and juice
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 3 star anise
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped (or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste)
  • 1/4 cup spiced rum (optional)

Peel, core and roughly chop the pineapple. From 1 whole pineapple I got around 850g of pineapple flesh. Place into a food processor (in 2 batches if necessary) until more finely chopped.

Place the pineapple, coconut, juice of half a lime, sugar, water and spices into a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Keep track of how many spices you used as you will need to remove them later after the jam has cooked. Reduce the heat and cook, simmering uncovered for about 30-40 minutes until the pineapple has softened.

Add half the rum and lime zest and cook, stirring occasionally until thickened and most of the liquid has evaporated (around 50 minutes). Remove the cardamom pods, cinnamon sticks and star anise. Stir in the remaining rum and lime juice. Pour hot jam into hot sterilised jars, seal immediately and turn upside down to cool. Store in a cool, dark place or refrigerate after opening.

Berry and Rose Wagon Wheel Slice

Berry and Rose Wagon Wheel Slice
I don’t really ‘do’ Valentine’s Day but there’s something about this time of year that makes me go mad for any recipe involving raspberries and chocolate. Raspberries are in season and so perfect right now, it would be a shame not to take advantage of their flavour and beauty. And when the desserts taste this good, I’m going to keep going with it. Looking through the archives, February has inspired me to make Churros with a Raspberry White Chocolate sauce and even a healthy Raspberry Cacao Smoothie Bowl.

Berry and Rose Wagon Wheel Slice
Today’s recipe is my take on The Wagon Wheel. I’m not sure how common they are in the rest of the world, but if you were a kid growing up in Australia, you know what I’m talkin’ bout. They are a jam and marshmallow filled, chocolate-coated biscuit. I used to love nibbling the chocolate all the way around the outside before digging in to the sweet center. They rate right up there with Tiny Teddies as catalysts of massive childhood nostalgia.

Of course, I had to give it a little twist. I turned it into a Wagon Wheel Slice with a rosewater and Chambord spiked berry jam with chia seeds, and pretty freeze dried raspberries scattered over the top. The combination of rose-berry-chocolate reminds me of Turkish Delight, which I never used to like as a kid, but these days is a favourite.

Berry and Rose Wagon Wheel Slice
All the components of this slice are delicious on their own, from the coconut biscuit base to the fluffy vanilla bean and rosewater marshmallow. But when you taste them together in one bite, they just sing. I absolutely love the combination of flavours and textures. Homemade marshmallows are the best. I challenge you to find a fluffier, more delicious marshmallow from the store. I had a little bit leftover that I set in another container. I’m looking forward to adding them to a super Instagrammable hot chocolate, along with dried rose petals on top.

Now these aren’t perfect, they do look homemade, but I’m telling you, they taste delicious. This recipe makes quite a large batch, and I considered halving all the quantities, but decided to make the full amount so I could share it around. Another thing that I like about Valentine’s Day is letting your friends and family know that you love and appreciate them too, so I’ve been giving away pieces of this delicious slice to all the people I’ve seen this week – even clients! – and everyone has absolutely loved it.

Berry and Rose Wagon Wheel Slice

Berry and Rose Wagon Wheel Slice

Adapted from Donna Hay
Serves 16

Biscuit Base

  • 1 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 200g unsalted butter, melted

Berry Chia Jam

  • 250g frozen raspberries
  • 120g frozen blueberries
  • 1 tablespoon rice malt syrup
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 1-2 teaspoons rosewater (to your own taste)

Rosewater Vanilla Bean Marshmallow

  • 2/3 cup + 1/2 cup warm water, divided
  • 2 tablespoons powdered gelatine
  • 1 1/2 cups caster sugar
  • 2/3 cup liquid glucose (find in the baking aisle of your supermarket)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • 1-2 teaspoons rosewater
  • 1 tablespoon Chambord

Topping

  • 200g 70% dark chocolate
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable or coconut oil
  • Freeze dried raspberries, crumbled
  • Coconut flakes

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) and line a 23x35cm baking tray with non-stick baking paper.

To make the biscuit base, place the flour, coconut, sugar and melted butter into a bowl and mix to combine. Press into the baking tray and flatten with the back of a spoon to evenly spread. Bake for 18-20 minutes until golden brown.

To make the jam, place the raspberries and blueberries into a small saucepan with the rice malt syrup and cook, stirring for 10-15 minutes. Add the chia seeds and cook for another 2 minutes until it starts to thicken. Add the Chambord and rosewater to taste, and allow to cool to room temperature. Spread evenly over the top of the biscuit base.

To make the marshmallow, place 2/3 cup warm water into the bowl of an electric mixer (or a large bowl if using a hand mixer). Sprinkle over the gelatine and stir to combine. Place the sugar, glucose and extra water in a small saucepan over medium heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to the boil and cook for 5-7 minutes or until the temperature reaching 115°C (239°F) on a candy thermometer.

With the mixer on high speed, pour in the hot sugar syrup into the gelatine mixture in a thin steady stream. Beat until thickened (about 3 minutes in an electric mixer, a little longer with a hand mixer). Fold in the vanilla bean paste and rosewater. Pour the marshmallow mixture evenly over the jam. I had a little too much and poured the excess into another greased dish. Refrigerate for 10-15 minutes or until firm.

Melt the chocolate and stir in the vegetable/coconut oil until smooth and shiny. Pour over the marshmallow and spread evenly with an offset spatula. Scatter the crumbled freeze dried raspberries and coconut flakes over the top and refrigerate until set. Cut into squares with a warm knife to serve.

Simple Dinners 20 / Slow Cooked Lamb with Homemade Hummus

Slow Cooked Lamb with Homemade Hummus
Entertaining was one of those things that used to completely stress me out. I’d literally spend days changing my mind about the menu, go to the grocery shop without a list and forget a crucial ingredient. I put so much pressure on myself to get everything perfect that I would rarely enjoy my own events, and my kitchen has seen more than a few meltdowns.

These days, one of my absolute favourite things to do is invite family and friends over for a long leisurely lunch at my apartment. I much prefer relaxed and rustic style communal feasts instead of fussy three-course meals and I have a repertoire of crowd pleasing dishes that I know work every time. A great dinner party does not need to be complicated – the best part is the company, after all!

Today I wanted to share a few of my best entertaining tips that I wish I had known back when I was an enthusiastic but inexperienced hostess that I hope will save your sanity! And I’m also sharing a delicious recipe for Homemade Hummus that has changed my life!

Slow Cooked Lamb with Homemade Hummus

1. Don’t try out brand new dishes you’ve never made before.

This seems like a no brainer but I used to do this all the time in the early days of blogging. I was still learning so much about cooking and was excited to try a new recipe every week. Sometimes this didn’t end too well. My friends and family were always great sports about being my culinary guinea pigs but it certainly caused me a lot of unnecessary stress when things took much longer than I anticipated or flat out failed. I often find myself going back through my recipe archive here on my blog for ideas because I have tested everything and I know they worked and were delicious! I absolutely encourage you to try new things, but it’s much more enjoyable to experiment with a new recipe when there is no added pressure!

2. Sharing is Caring.

I love entertaining with big shared dishes placed in the middle of the table. You don’t need to worry about fussy plating of individual dishes, which is a pain! I love cooking this way because it feels generous and everyone can serve themselves, and go back for seconds. It turns dinner into a wonderful relaxed, communal experience. I’ve invested in some beautiful serving platters and wooden boards that get utilised in our home a lot.

3. Use your slow cooker.

In keeping with the point above, I love to serve some kind of slow cooked meat at my parties and gatherings for a few very important reasons…

  • Once you have put on the slow cooker, you can pretty much forget about it for hours.
  • The cuts of meat that are best for slow cooking including lamb leg or pork shoulder are also super inexpensive – great when feeding a large group of people – which means you can afford to splurge on a nice bottle of wine!
  • As a great bonus, you free up your oven space for other things like roasted vegetable side dishes or a dessert. Win win!

Slow Cooked Lamb with Homemade Hummus

4. Have a flavour theme.

I usually know if I want to utilise Asian, Italian, Middle Eastern flavours etc when I slow cook my meat and this helps to guide the rest of your menu planning, table styling and even as far as your choice of playlist! With lamb I like to use warm spices like cumin, coriander and cinnamon and this goes great with homemade flatbreads and dips for entree, side dishes like spice roasted carrots and a pomegranate dessert.

5. Write lists.

I am a mad list maker in almost all aspects of my life to help me keep track of everything and dinner party planning is no exception. When your menu is finalised, do a quick inventory of your fridge and pantry and make a shopping list so you don’t forget anything. The day before an event, I write another list to keep track of all the tasks I need to do roughly in order. This helps so I don’t forget to put out the cheese plate.

6. Prep in advance.

I hate feeling stressed on the day of my party when my guests are arriving and I haven’t even prepped the dessert yet. These days I try and make it easier on myself by choosing at least one course that I can make the day before. Desserts are often the easiest thing to make ahead of time – think ice cream cakes, panna cotta or cheesecake for some delicious options.

Slow Cooked Lamb with Homemade Hummus
I hope those tips help you next time you are planning a dinner party! Just a quick note on today’s recipe. I knew that it was simple to make homemade hummus but I had only done it once or twice before now. Just a handful of ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry come together in the food processor to make the most delicious dip, and now I’m not sure I can ever go back to store bought hummus.

It’s a blank canvas for any number of delicious flavour pairings. This time I decided to serve it with slow cooked lamb and some fresh ingredients like pomegranate, mint and feta, transforming it from ‘just a dip,’ into a delicious main course that would be perfect for sharing. I really love how this came out and will definitely be making it again. I loved that the lamb was cooking away for hours before my guests arrived and the hummus took barely five minutes, so I could enjoy time with my friends and not stress in the kitchen!

Slow Cooked Lamb with Homemade Hummus

Slow Cooked Lamb with Homemade Hummus

Serves 4 (with leftover lamb)

Slow Cooked Lamb

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 kg lamb shoulder or leg
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon sumac
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

To make the slow cooked lamb, brown off the onion and garlic in a frypan or if you have a Multi Cooker, directly in the bowl on the Saute setting. When starting to soften, add the lamb and brown on all sides. Add to the slow cooker and then add all the spices, tomato paste, red wine and beef stock. Season with salt and pepper and set to slow cook for between 6-9 hours.

Homemade Hummus

  • 2 cans chickpeas
  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • Salt, to taste

To make the hummus, drain the chickpeas and reserve the liquid. This is called Aquafaba and can be used for many other recipes or as a vegan egg white substitute! Add the chickpeas, garlic, tahini, olive oil and lemon juice to a food processor and blitz. Scrape down the sides, add a little salt and 2 tablespoons of reserved aquafaba. Blitz again until the hummus starts to turn smooth. Taste for seasoning and add a little more salt or lemon juice if you like. I added about 5 tablespoons of aquafaba to reach the thick consistency that I wanted, but keep adding a little at a time and blitz until you are happy with the consistency and texture.

To serve

  • Pomegranate seeds
  • Mint leaves
  • Crumbled Feta
  • Chickpeas
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Crusty bread

To serve, transfer your delicious homemade hummus to a large serving dish and with the back of a spoon, swirl around to form little valleys in the surface. When the lamb is ready, taste for seasoning and shred the meat with two forks. Top the hummus with slow cooked lamb and drizzle with olive oil. Scatter the pomegranate seeds, mint leaves, crumbled feta and extra chickpeas over the top. Add some salt and pepper and serve with crusty bread.

Rosé Sangria Popsicles

Rosé Sangria Popsicles
Happy New Year, folks! 2017 was certainly an interesting year, with some massive ups and downs. I love to travel and got to take two incredible trips overseas to the Philippines and Vietnam (which I’ll share more about really soon). I worked with some fantastic hospitality clients on exciting branding, design and photography jobs. I got anxious a lot. I rocked some of my goals and fell way short of others. I learned a lot of life lessons.

But I love the clean slate energy of a new year filled with optimism and possibilities. I’ve spent the last few days doing my favourite thing – setting a couple of business goals, and brainstorming new summer recipe ideas – delicious breakfasts, OTT desserts, simple dinners, healthy snacks, I’ve got you covered!

Rosé Sangria Popsicles
The rise and rise of Rosé is just fine by me. When I’m in the mood, a chilled glass of pink wine always goes down perfectly. I also love it’s summery cousin Frosé, a blended boozy slushie, usually with strawberry or watermelon thrown in the mix. It also makes a great Instagram photo. Back in the day, Gazebo Wine Garden was way ahead of the trend, serving jugs of Rosé Sangria years ago with sliced strawberries, mint and lemon. It was our choice of girly drink on the many, many lunches we had there.

I decided to turn my favourite blush pink beverage into Rosé Sangria Popsicles! Use your favourite bottle of Rosé that you love the taste of because that’s the dominant flavour. I added a little sweetened strawberry puree to taste, but you could also use watermelon or a little simple syrup.

I’ve used sliced strawberries and mint leaves but you could also add blueberries, raspberries, cherries or peach slices. It’s really up to you! It only takes a couple of minutes to put these together (minus freezing time) and couldn’t be more simple. Check out the video above to see how easy it is!

Rosé Sangria Popsicles
These Rosé Sangria Popsicles are a lovely grown-up treat, tinged with childhood nostalgia (I always loved the pink ones the most). They make a super lovely afternoon treat in the summertime. As a kid, I would swim in the pool until my fingers were wrinkly and then buy an ice block for 50 cents. The other day, I enjoyed one of these boozy pops post-beach swim, while watching an incredible sunset that was also fairy floss pink. Perfection!

Related Post: Pavolva Ice Cream Smash

Rosé Sangria Popsicles

Rosé Sangria Popsicles

Makes 10

  • Half bottle Rosé (use your favourite)
  • 100ml strawberry puree
  • 1 punnet strawberries, sliced
  • Mint leaves

Add rosé and strawberry puree to a bowl or jug and stir to combine. Add slices of strawberries and mint leaves to your popsicle moulds and pour the rosé mixture into each. Freeze overnight.

You could also turn it into a granita by freezing the rosé mixture in a shallow pan and freeze for 2 hours. Rake with a fork to break up the ice crystals and return to the freezer. Repeat again in 2 hours and serve with fresh strawberries.

Boozy Rosé Sangria Popsicles

Gingerbread French Toast

Gingerbread French Toast
There’s only a couple of days left until Christmas! I feel pretty good about the state of my gift shopping, but I’ve been terribly indecisive about what to make for our annual family Christmas lunch. Making desserts used to be my thing. It was a way to learn new cooking techniques and use my creativity, and I couldn’t wait to get into the kitchen every weekend to create something new. And for special occasions, there is nothing I love more than bringing a dessert to share with family and friends.

However these days for wacky experiments, interesting food styling and cool flavour combinations, I have been loving making brunch dishes and healthy snacks. Instagram-worthy brunches have been crazy popular in Sydney for the last few years, from interesting twists on the humble pancake, to OTT milkshakes, and smoothie bowls that look like a work of art.

Gingerbread French Toast
Now we are spoiled for choice and can go out for a cafe brunch any day, but there’s something wonderfully nostalgic about waking up early on Christmas Day back at Mum and Dad’s house (now that I’m long moved out) and having a fancy breakfast like we did on special occasions when we were kids. I think it’s a lovely way to start the day around the festive season, taking some time together before the day gets full of activity.

And so I bring you Gingerbread French Toast! I wanted to make a festive brunch dish with warming Christmas spices – fresh and ground ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves and vanilla bean (my absolute favourite) along with golden syrup and brown sugar for real gingerbread vibes.

Gingerbread French Toast
Fresh berries are a must, especially at this time of year when they are in season and so beautiful. If you are in the northern hemisphere and can’t get hold of fresh berries, I’d recommend turning any frozen berries or cranberries you have into a warm compote with some of the same spices as in the french toast mix and drizzling that over the top – delicious!

I’ve also taken a little inspiration from one of my favourite cafes The Tiny Giant in Petersham and piled this french toast up high with Persian fairy floss. Okay, it’s a little bit extra, but I love it. This French Toast looks so pretty, but it also tastes amazing. Just don’t forget to Instagram it. I also just wanted to wish you all a wonderful Christmas and holiday season! Thank you for supporting this little blog again in it’s 10th year!!

Related Post: Chocolate Spice Gingerbread + 10 Homemade Christmas Gift Ideas
 Gingerbread French Toast

Gingerbread French Toast

Serves 4

  • 8 slices brioche, preferably a day or two old
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, finely grated
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon golden syrup or molasses
  • Butter, for frying

To serve:

  • Fresh berries
  • Persian fairy floss
  • Maple syrup

Whisk the eggs and cream in a bowl or jug. Add the fresh and ground ginger, cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg, cloves, brown sugar and golden syrup. Whisk until combined and then pour into a shallow dish.

Soak slices of brioche in the spiced egg mixture for 30 seconds each side and cook in a pre-heated frypan with a little butter melted. I cooked the slices on a medium heat for about 2-3 minutes on each side.

Transfer to a plate and repeat with remaining slices of brioche. Serve topped with maple syrup, fresh berries and Persian fairy floss.

Gingerbread French Toast