Vanilla Slice with Pomegranate Glaze

Vanilla Slice with Pomegranate Glaze

My Mum is one of the most thoughtful and kind humans I know, and one of my favourite people to bake for. She has a sweet tooth (it must be genetic) so I love making desserts for her. She is always sending me links to recipes I might like to try. One of her favourite desserts ever is the Vanilla Slice and I realised it has been quite a few years since I indulged her. She still remembered the passionfruit version I made her… in 2012!

If you aren’t familiar, a Vanilla Slice is a famous Australian bakery dessert. It’s our Australian version of the mille feuille. I love when one food concept has so many different versions from all around the world, from France, the Philippines, Greece and South America (umm the dulce de leche sounds like an amazing addition).

You can get a Vanilla Slice at almost every bakery here, but most of the time they aren’t my bag of tea. They are often solid as a brick with stodgy custard and a too-sweet glaze. I don’t even want to tell you the affectionate but gross nicknames that some Aussies have for this dessert! A fresh, homemade one is a true thing of beauty.

Vanilla Slice with Pomegranate Glaze

Originally, I had wanted to make it as a recipe coming up to Mother’s Day, but I wasn’t going to be seeing my Mum until the day itself. I wanted to actually make it for her, and she was sooo happy when she saw it. Her reaction really warmed my heart and re-affirmed why I love baking so much. I absolutely love making people happy with homemade treats.

I made a bright and vibrant pomegranate glaze to go on top. It looks super pretty and has only two ingredients – just the juice (squeezed out of the pomegranate seeds in a sieve) and icing sugar. If you can’t tell, I’ve been really into pomegranates lately. In my last post I used them in a savoury recipe that turned out beautifully.

Pomegranates are in season right now and just gorgeous. I’ve been using them in salads and on top of smoothie bowls. They remind me of my Nanna, who still has a healthy pomegranate tree in her backyard. As kids, we spent countless afternoons picking out the arils one by one. It kept us entertained for hours. Nanna is also one of my earliest influences for cooking and baking. I remember spending a lot of time in the kitchen with her as a kid, when I wasn’t having a piano lesson, but that’s a story for another day!

I decided to stick very closely to Donna Hay’s recipe. The flavour of the custard was out-of-this-world good. Imagine vanilla bean flecked custard encased in a lovely flaky puff pastry. In the recipe notes, they didn’t recommend using thickened cream, which is all I had on hand this time. They recommended a single pouring cream that didn’t contain gelatine, so I will try this next time. The texture of mine was just set which I much preferred to most of the thick and solid set bakery versions I’ve had in the past.

So this dessert is my belated Mother’s Day tribute to my gorgeous Mum and Nanna. Two amazing women that I have been so blessed to be raised by and learn from all my life. It was such a pleasure to make it and for Mum to be so happy when she saw it. Making this felt like a walk down baking memory lane. It had been so long since I had made a vanilla slice, or a custard at all. It reminded me of how my love of baking started and developed in those early years of blogging and how much I still love to bake for the people I love.

Related Post: Mulled Wine Glazed Doughnuts

Vanilla Slice with Pomegranate Glaze

Vanilla Slice with Pomegranate Glaze

A delicious and vibrant take on an Aussie bakery classic – the Vanilla Slice. I served mine with a bright pomegranate glaze.

Course Dessert
Keyword Australian, Dessert, Pies & Tarts
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 48 minutes
Refrigerate at least 6 hours
Total Time 1 hour 18 minutes
Servings 12 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 sheets puff pastry, thawed
  • cups full cream milk
  • cups cream *see note
  • 60 g unsalted butter, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
  • cup caster sugar
  • cup cornflour
  • ½ cup water
  • 6 egg yolks

Pomegranate Glaze

  • 1/4 cup pomegranate arils
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • Extra pomegranate, to serve

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 180ºC (350ºF). Place the pastry sheets on baking trays lined with non-stick baking paper. Top each pastry sheet with non-stick baking paper and place an additional baking tray on each pastry sheet as a weight. Bake for 20–25 minutes or until golden and puffed. Cool completely and then trim to size using a serrated knife. I used a 22cm-square cake tin.

  2. To make the custard, place the milk, cream, butter, vanilla bean paste and sugar into a medium saucepan and cook until just coming to the boil. Remove from the heat. 

  3. Combine the cornflour and water and whisk into the hot milk mixture with the egg yolks. Return to the heat, whisking, and bring to the boil. Cook, whisking, until thickened (1-2 minutes).

  4. Place 1 pastry sheet in the base of a lightly greased 22cm-square cake tin lined with non-stick baking paper. Ensure you have enough baking paper hanging over the sides of the tin so you can lift the slice from the tin after it has chilled.
  5. Top with the custard and the remaining pastry sheet and press down gently. Refrigerate for 3–4 hours or overnight, until set.
  6. To make the glaze, put the pomegranate into a sieve over a small bowl. Press down on the seeds to release the juice. Sift in the icing sugar and stir until fully combined. Add more icing sugar if you want a thicker glaze.
  7. Pour the glaze over the vanilla slice, top with extra pomegranate and return to the fridge for 20-30 minutes or until set. Cut the vanilla slice with a serrated knife. You could also cut the slice first and then glaze if you prefer.

Recipe Notes

This recipe is adapted from Donna Hay. Her version said to use a single (pouring) cream which doesn’t have any additives such as gelatine. I used thickened cream and this slice was set but not a ‘hard’ set custard. 

Simple Dinners 25 / Roasted Chicken with Pomegranate and Harissa Carrots

Roasted Chicken with Pomegranate and Harissa Carrots

I love inviting my friends and family over for lunch. Our apartment in Sydney is fantastic for entertaining. We have a lovely view and the place just has good vibes when filled with people. These days, cooking for my family and friends feels really special since most of them live more than an hour away and I don’t see them all the time.

When I’m entertaining, I want to make it special but I’ve learned that fussy dishes that require a lot of tending and stirring and precise timing are way too stressful. No one likes being stuck in the kitchen instead of hanging out with your guests! I have shared a few of the tips I’ve learned about entertaining over the years in this blog post.

Roasted Chicken with Pomegranate and Harissa Carrots

Roasted chicken is an absolute classic for a reason and a dish that I think everyone should learn to make. It’s a crowd pleaser and you can add almost any flavour you like. I managed to find an organic free range butterflied chicken at the supermarket which was perfect for this recipe.

You can use a regular chicken but buying one already butterflied (or learning to do it yourself – hello Youtube!) will help it cook more quickly and evenly. You could also do this with chicken pieces if a whole bird seems a little overwhelming. Don’t worry, this was me for years before I got the courage to roast a whole chook on my own!

This time I wanted to do a really punchy spice paste that would give the chicken a lot of flavour. I had some store-bought harissa (although I really want to make my own next time) as well as pomegranate molasses and a bunch of spices from my cupboard. I used sumac, paprika, garam masala (a spice blend with delicious things like fennel, cinnamon, cardamom and caraway) and a touch of cayenne pepper.

Roasted Chicken with Pomegranate and Harissa Carrots

Pomegranate molasses has been a favourite ingredient of mine for a while. It is a reduced syrupy pomegranate juice that is tangy, a little sweet and has a great depth of flavour. I love adding it to marinades for ribs or roast meats and as a secret ingredient in homemade barbecue sauce. It worked perfectly with all the strong spices, adding some sweetness that helped balance the spicy harissa and cayenne. You can find it at Harris Farm or any middle eastern grocery store. 

The chicken skin turned golden and a little crispy in the oven and the meat was perfectly cooked. I served my roasted chicken with an extra drizzle of pomegranate molasses and tons of fresh pomegranate seeds for colour and crunch. I also scattered over some fresh coriander and some flaked almonds that I toasted in the oven for about 5 minutes. I really loved the combination.

Roasted Chicken with Pomegranate and Harissa Carrots

On the side I made some harissa roasted carrots that had a nice hit of spice and some nice fluffy cous cous. Roast carrots are a favourite side dish of mine, especially when I am making a main course with a Middle Eastern influence. This lovely Sunday lunch all came together really easily. The oven did almost all the work, which means it could also work as a weeknight dinner too.

If I was making this for just my housemate and I, we would use the leftover roasted chicken in a pasta dish or a wholesome soup. I also love to take the bones and make a chicken stock overnight in my slow cooker. I’ve recently started a little zip lock bag in the freezer for scraps like carrot tops, onion skin and herb stalks that would otherwise be tossed in the garbage, but are great for throwing into a chicken stock. 

Related Post: One Pot Moroccan Chicken

Roasted Chicken with Pomegranate and Harissa Carrots

Roasted Chicken with Pomegranate and Harissa Carrots

Roasted Chicken is a crowd-pleasing classic and perfect for entertaining because the oven does all the work! It’s served with a delicious spice rub and fresh pomegranate, coriander and almonds for colour and crunch. 

Course Dinner
Keyword Simple Dinners
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 4 people

Ingredients

  • 1 free range chicken, butterflied (about 1.6kg)
  • 1 tablespoon sumac
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • Cayenne pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon harissa paste
  • 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Plenty of Salt & pepper

Harissa Carrots

  • 1 bunch baby carrots, washed and greens chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon harissa paste
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • Salt & pepper

To serve

  • Pomegranate molasses, extra, to drizzle
  • 1 fresh pomegranate
  • 1 bunch Coriander
  • 1/4 cup flaked almonds, toasted in the oven
  • 1/2 cup feta, crumbled
  • Cous cous, made according to packet instructions

Instructions

  1. Take the chicken out of the fridge about 30 minutes before you plan to cook it. Preheat the oven to 220°C (425°F).
  2. In a small bowl, mix together the sumac, paprika, garam masala, cayenne pepper, harissa paste, pomegranate molasses and olive oil with some salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Rub the spice mix all over the butterflied chicken and place into a skillet or a roasting dish.
  3. Meanwhile, arrange the carrots on a flat baking sheet. Stir together the olive oil, harissa, paprika, salt and pepper. Using a pastry brush, coat the carrots evenly in the harissa oil mixture.
  4. Place the chicken and carrots into the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes until golden and cooked through. Check it at the 20 minute mark and rotate the trays. If the chicken is browning too quickly, cover it loosely with foil. The carrots may be done sooner if they are very small.
  5. To serve, drizzle the chicken with extra pomegranate molasses and top with fresh pomegranate, coriander and flaked almonds. Transfer the carrots to a serving dish and drizzle with pomegranate molasses, and top with pomegranate and crumbled feta. Serve immediately with cous cous.

Roasted Spiced Plum Jam

Roasted Spiced Plum Jam

At the moment, it feels like summer and autumn have collided. We are well into autumn and I went to the beach 3 times last week. Sydney has been gorgeous with sunny days and blue skies. I’m so grateful that the weather is still glorious and I’m determined to spend lots of time outside enjoying it.

The summer’s bounty of mangoes, peaches and nectarines have ended… but we still have plums, figs and berries. Plus new season pears, apples, pomegranates and quinces. I loved seeing them at the farmers market all at the same time. To me, this is the perfect time to do some preserving!

Roasted Spiced Plum Jam

I love preserving some of summer’s best produce in jams and pickles to enjoy for a little longer. I picked up some tiny ‘imperfect’ plums from Harris Farm. They were half the price of the normal plums and saved them from going into landfill – win win. My intention was to make a batch of jam, so I didn’t really care what they looked like!

This time I wanted to try a slightly different technique with my jam making. It was an experiment that worked out really well. I feel like have hacked the jam making process! I roasted the plums first, before making the jam. The idea was to bring out their natural sweetness and intensify the flavour without adding a ton of sugar, and it worked!

Roasted Spiced Plum Jam

I loosely based this recipe off one which called for 1.5 kilograms of sugar, or over 3 pounds. When making jam it’s not unusual to use a 1:1 fruit to sugar ratio but I often try to reduce that amount without affecting the integrity or taste of the jam.

My Roasted Spiced Plum Jam recipe used 1 kilo of plums and less than 1 cup of sugar and it was still plenty sweet. I actually had to balance out the sweetness with a little red wine vinegar, but this added a beautiful complexity to the taste of the jam. If you also enjoy fruit and vinegar, have you ever thought about making a shrub

I think this method could work well with other types of fruit too. I’m already a huge fan of roasted strawberries, figs, cherries and rhubarb. I think they would all be delicious in jam form as well. The oven does most of the work, so the actual jam making part is very quick. 

I wanted my Spiced Plum Jam to have a warm Chai inspired flavour. Cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, star anise and of course, vanilla are all lovely with plums. I used them both in the roasting step and the jam making step. You could use whatever you like – even some more unusual flavours like black tea, bay leaves, rosemary, fennel seeds or some black or pink peppercorns would also work well here.

I also added a splash of a Tawny liqueur from Orange but you can use whatever dessert wine you like – Marsala, Port or even red wine would work well here too. All the alcohol does get cooked out, but if you prefer, you can omit it or replace with an equal amount of brewed chai tea.

Roasted Spiced Plum Jam

I look forward to spreading this jam on my toast on cold winter mornings and remembering how lovely the weather was when I made it. It would also make a very excellent and thoughtful homemade Mother’s Day present. I love gifting a jar of almost every homemade jam or pickle I make to my parents. My Mum especially loves a good jam and I just know she will love this one!

Related Post: Homemade Tomato & Chilli Jam

Roasted Spiced Plum Jam

Roasted Spiced Plum Jam

My Roasted Spiced Plum Jam is a twist on the traditional method of making jam. Roasting the fruit brings out the natural sweetness and means you can use much less added sugar. This jam would be a perfect Mother’s Day gift!

Course Jams & Preserves
Keyword Jam
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 40 minutes
Servings 3 jars

Ingredients

Roast Plums

  • 1 kg plums, halved or quartered
  • 2 tablespoons raw sugar
  • 15 cardamom pods
  • 10 cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Plum Jam

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or extract
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 3/4 cup caster sugar
  • 1/4 cup dessert wine
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 star anise
  • 8 cardamom pods
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1-2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C (340°F). Place the plums cut side up on a roasting tray lined with non-stick baking paper. Sprinkle over the sugar and spices and roast for 40 minutes or until soft and caramelised.
  2. Carefully remove all the spices from the tray and place the plums and the juice into a large saucepan. Meanwhile, tie the cinnamon sticks, cloves, star anise and cardamom in a piece of muslin.
  3. Add the vanilla, orange juice, caster sugar and dessert wine and the muslin bag to the saucepan and stir over high heat without boiling until sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil and add water and red wine vinegar and cook for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the jam thickens and jells when tested (see note).
  4. Remove and discard the muslin bag. Pour the hot jam into hot sterilised jars and seal immediately.

Recipe Notes

To test if the jam has jelled, place a small plate in the freezer until chilled. Place a spoonful of jam onto the chilled plate and wait for a few minutes. Run a finger through the jam and if it wrinkles, it is ready.

Hot Cross Bun Pull Apart Bread with Cream Cheese Glaze

Hot Cross Bun Pull Apart Bread with Cream Cheese Glaze

I’ve said it before, but something about autumn and Easter time just makes me want to turn on the oven and get my hands into a bowl of dough. I love the smell of yeast, sweet spices, and delicious aromas coming from my oven. I love the whole process – mixing, kneading, waiting, rolling, baking. It’s totally therapeutic, one of my favourite ways to relax. It’s somehow way more satisfying to the soul than just making a cake.

I love a warm toasted Hot Cross Bun with melted butter or whipped ricotta and honey. This recipe is like a Hot Cross Bun and a Cinnamon Roll had a baby! The filling tastes exactly like a hot cross bun with brown sugar, spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and mixed spice, fresh orange zest and plump sultanas. All very delicious things.

Hot Cross Bun Pull Apart Bread with Cream Cheese Glaze

I also added some ground roasted wattleseed to the filling. It is a native Australian spice that can be used in both sweet and savoury recipes. To me, the taste is halfway between coffee and freshly baked biscuits. It works really nicely with the other spices in the filling. I have written this as optional in the recipe below because I know it’s not easy to find, especially outside of Australia. You could add ground coffee if you want a similar vibe or just omit it.

Hot Cross Bun Pull Apart Bread with Cream Cheese Glaze

The cream cheese glaze was also a delicious addition. Cream cheese icing is hands down my favourite kind of icing on any cake – sorry to buttercream or ganache! This glaze is basically a cream cheese icing made into a pourable glaze consistency with a little bit of milk. Adding the spices was a last minute decision and I’m very glad I did. The cinnamon, vanilla and nutmeg perfectly accentuated the spices in the filling.

Hot Cross Bun Pull Apart Bread with Cream Cheese Glaze

The dough was lovely and easy to work with. It would be a great recipe to start with if you want to try working with a risen yeasted dough for the first time. It’s also simple enough to get the kids involved! I made mine in a loaf pan but you could also use a round cake tin. It will make your kitchen smell incredible as it’s baking.

This kind of “pull apart” or “tear and share” loaf is a great option for a long weekend brunch, autumn picnic or potluck. It’s perfect to share with a group of your family or friends – just rip off a piece and pass it around! I’ve also been enjoying it as a snack with a warm cup of tea over the last few days.

Hot Cross Bun Pull Apart Bread with Cream Cheese Glaze

I am really looking forward to Easter and the long weekend this year. I’m hosting a small lunch at my place and really looking forward to a nice chill few days of cooking delicious food and catching up with my favourite people.

If you are in need of any Easter recipe inspiration, make sure to check out my Favourite Recipes that I rounded up in my last post. There’s lots of delicious ideas in there!

Related Post: Sticky Date Rolls with Salted Caramel Sauce

Hot Cross Bun Pull Apart Bread with Cream Cheese Glaze

Hot Cross Bun Pull Apart Bread with Cream Cheese Glaze

This recipe is like a Hot Cross Bun and a Cinnamon Roll had a baby! The filling tastes exactly like a hot cross bun with brown sugar, spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and mixed spice, fresh orange zest and plump sultanas. 

Course Breakfast, Brunch
Keyword Bread & Yeast, Breakfast, Brunch
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Rising Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 6

Ingredients

  • 1 cup milk, warmed
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 1 packet (7g) dry yeast
  • 3 cups plain flour
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • 60 g butter, melted
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon mixed spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Finely grated zest of 1 orange
  • 1 teaspoon ground wattle seed (optional)
  • 1 cup sultanas

Cream Cheese Glaze

  • 120 g cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tablespoons icing sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 4-6 tablespoons milk

Instructions

  1. Place the warmed milk, oil and sugar into a bowl. Sprinkle over the yeast and 1 cup of flour. Fold in carefully, cover and set aside in a warm place for 1 hour.
  2. In the meantime, make the filling. Place the brown sugar, cinnamon, mixed spice, nutmeg, vanilla, orange zest, wattleseed (if using) and sultanas into a bowl and mix to combine. Set aside.
  3. Add the remaining flour, plus baking soda and baking powder to the yeast mixture. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to form a 30cm x 40cm rectangle.
  4. Brush dough with half the melted butter, sprinkle evenly with the spiced filling mixture. Roll lenghwise to enclose, trim and cut into 10-12 pieces. Arrange pieces in a well-greased and lined 9cm x 22cm loaf tin. Set aside for 30 minutes or until doubled in size.
  5. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Brush with remaining butter and bake for 30 minutes or until golden and puffed. Allow to cool in the tin for 15-20 minutes.
  6. To make the cream cheese glaze, place the cream cheese and icing sugar in a bowl and mix with electric beaters until light and fluffy. Add the spices and beat to combine. Add the milk a little at a time until the glaze reaches a nice pourable consistency.
  7. To serve, pour the glaze over the loaf, with any leftover on the side for additional drizzling.

My Favourite Easter Recipes

Spicyicecream Easter Recipes

To me, Easter is a special time of year. I always feel the transition of seasons strongly in April. Summer is transitioning into shorter, cooler autumn days. Mangoes and peaches are out, but apples and pears are now in season. This new season coziness just makes me want to get in the kitchen and bake. I have a crazy urge to make yeasted doughs this time every single year – buns, rolls, loaves and scrolls!

I also love Easter as a time for family to get together over good food. When I lived at home, we would always have a decadent brunch – pancakes, cinnamon rolls or french toast. I always brought a dessert to share at our big Easter Sunday lunch – usually heavy on the chocolate. So I thought I would scroll back through my archives and share some of my favourite Easter recipes all in the one place!

Spicyicecream Easter Recipes - Hot Cross Doughnuts

1. Hot Cross Doughnuts

I made a batch of my usual go-to doughnut recipe, and then filled them with a spiced custard and brandy-soaked currants before finally dipping the tops in dark chocolate and piping the signature cross in white chocolate. Delicious and fun!

Spicyicecream Easter Recipes - Chocolate Espresso Mousse

2. Chocolate Espresso Mousse with Peanut & Pretzel Bark

This Chocolate Peanut & Pretzel Bark would make a lovely last minute homemade Easter gift for your friends. Or do as I’ve done and use it as a garnish for some rich Chocolate Espresso Mousse pots.

Spicyicecream Easter Recipes - Sticky Date Rolls

3. Sticky Date Rolls with Salted Caramel Sauce

If there is one thing I am certain of in this life, it is that I make a damn good Cinnamon Roll! This version includes delicious tea-steeped dates in the spiced filling and a salted caramel sauce. I love serving these for brunch during the whole Easter long weekend!

Spicyicecream Easter Recipes - Mini Choc Malt Bundt Cakes

4. Mini Chocolate Malt Marbled Bundt Cakes

Chocolate and Malt are two of my favourite flavours. When I’m feeling daring, I test the limits of my lactose intolerance with a Choc Malt Milkshake. 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.

5. Double Chocolate Brownie Skillet

Double Chocolate = perfect Easter Recipes! 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. Under-baking 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.

Spicyicecream Easter Recipes - Apple Cinnamon Hot Cross Buns

6. Apple & Cinnamon Hot Cross Buns

I am not one of those people who buys Hot Cross Buns in January. I like to enjoy them for a week or two, and then not think about them again until next year. I’ve tried making them from scratch a couple of times, and this was definitely my best attempt. It has lots of dried fruit, spices and stewed apple in the mix. Sooo good.

7. Carrot Cake Ricotta Pancake

This Easter Bunny approved Carrot Cake Pancake would make the perfect Easter Brunch. These single large pancakes are so light and fluffy, and can be topped with all your favourite fruits.

Spicyicecream Easter Recipes - Choc Malt Speckled Ice Cream Bombe

8. Choc Malt Speckled Ice Cream Bombe

This No Churn Ice Cream Bombe goes on the list of last minute Easter recipes and is a total crowd pleaser. My boyfriend still asks me to make this ice cream all the time – it’s his favourite of my many, many ice cream experiments! It would also make an epic milkshake flavour.

Spicyicecream Easter Recipes - Italian Ricotta Cake

9. Italian Ricotta Cake

This cake has become one of our family’s favourites and we make it for many special occasions throughout the year – Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Christmas and birthdays. Everyone loves it, so I just had to include it in this roundup!

Chocolate and Pear Tart with Cardamom Creme Anglaise

10. Chocolate and Pear Tart with Cardamom Creme Anglaise

While we’re on the subject of crowd-pleasing Easter recipes, this chocolate tart has new season pears and a fudgy chocolate almond filling inside a chocolate tart. The subtle cardamom spiced creme anglaise is a perfect accompaniment. This is such an elegant dessert that would be the perfect sweet ending to Easter lunch.

11. Chai Spiced Rolls with Cinnamon Glaze

I mentioned before that this time of year makes me want to get my hands into a bowl of dough, kneading, rolling and baking it. To me it’s kind of like a meditation and really helps me de-stress. Prepare for maximum coziness when you make these. The chai spiced filling is a really nice alternative to the normal cinnamon rolls.

Raspberry and Ricotta Baked French Toast

12. Raspberry & Ricotta Baked French Toast

Baked French Toast is awesome, because you can prep everything the night before and make bake it while your morning coffee brews. I used a fruit challah loaf in this recipe, but brioche would be perfect too, or even hot cross buns would be a really fun Easter twist!

Spicyicecream Easter Recipes - Chocolate Whisky Pudding

13. Chocolate Whisky Pudding with Passionfruit Ice Cream

I am in love with the combination of Chocolate and Passionfruit, and I am here to spread the word. This grown-up take on a baked chocolate pudding, has a hit of whisky and a homemade passionfruit ice cream. I am definitely making it again this Winter!

Brownie Cookies with Maple Bourbon Buttercream

14. Brownie Cookies with Maple Bourbon Buttercream

When a cookie and a brownie really love each other and make a baby, this is the result. These rich and chewy chocolate cookies sandwiched with a sweet filling is one of my favourite Easter recipes. You can also adapt the filling – anything that goes with chocolate would work beautifully here.

If you do make any of these Easter recipes, I would love to see! Please tag me on Instagram @spicyicecream or #spicyicecreamphoto.

Simple Dinners 24 / Creamy Chicken Pesto with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

Creamy Chicken Pesto with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

This Chicken Pesto is one of my all-time favourite recipes. I don’t say that lightly, but I’ve made it so many times, I don’t even need the recipe anymore! I originally shared it back in 2007 and estimate that I’ve made this pesto once a month since then. That means I have probably made it close to 150 times (!)

I just truly love to cook this dish. It is such a quick and delicious weeknight meal. You can make the pesto, cook the chicken and make the sauce in the time it takes to cook your pasta. I really wanted to update it because my photography has improved quiiiiite a bit in the last decade or so. The badly composed, poorly lit photo seriously made me cringe.

Lately I have enjoyed revisiting some old favourite recipes and re-reading the words I wrote years ago. Re-shooting the dishes with the photography and food styling know-how I have accumulated throughout the last decade has been great fun for me too.

These are the recipes in my archive that have truly stood to test of time. I make them over and over and I know they will always work. While I can be a recipe-following rebel and always want to change something, I made this Chicken Pesto exactly as I had written it in my original post 12 years ago, and it turned out absolutely perfectly.

This recipe is totally adaptable. If I don’t have the exact ingredients, I just wing it. I like knowing that I can turn pretty much anything in my fridge into some sort of meal. It makes me feel like I’m on a Masterchef challenge!!

Sometimes I substitute different herbs, spinach or kale for the basil. If I don’t have pine nuts on hand, I use cashews or even sunflower seeds with great success.

When I can get a huge bunch of basil at the farmers market, I like to make a double batch and freeze it. That means I always have a super quick weeknight meal option in the freezer for busy days. Just transfer to an airtight container and drizzle a little olive oil over the top to ensure it doesn’t discolour. 

You could also make this recipe with leftover roast chicken – homemade or store bought are both good. Prawns, hot smoked salmon or sautéed mushrooms would be good options too. You can also use any shape or size of pasta you have on hand. I’ve seriously made it with everything from penne to spirals to orecchiette and more. It even made a lasagne filling that was the bomb.

Creamy Chicken Pesto with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

This time I decided to serve my Chicken Pesto with some roasted cherry tomatoes, which added a little extra cooking time to the final dish. It was delicious but 100% optional. I know I don’t always have time to roast tomatoes when I’ve come home late on a weeknight! Sun-dried tomatoes stirred into the sauce can give you an intense pop of flavour or just simply slice fresh cherry tomatoes in half and serve alongside.

I hope you give this recipe a try and that it becomes part of your weeknight repertoire like it has for me. I know I will continue to make it (and of course, variations of it) for many more years to come.

Related Post: Pumpkin Cauliflower Mac & Cheese

Creamy Chicken Pesto with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
Creamy Chicken Pesto with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
5 from 1 vote
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Creamy Chicken Pesto with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

This Creamy Chicken Pesto has been a staple recipe in my repertoire of Simple Dinners since 2007! I have made it well over 100 times over the years and it’s one of my favourite quick and easy weeknight meals.

Course Dinner
Keyword Pasta, Simple Dinners
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 4 people

Ingredients

Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

  • 400 g mixed coloured cherry tomatoes
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & Black Pepper

Pesto

  • 1 cup basil leaves, rinsed, roughly chopped
  • ¼ cup parsley leaves, rinsed, roughly chopped
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

Sauce

  • olive oil
  • 3 small chicken breasts, cut into 2cm cubes
  • 1/2 cup thickened cream
  • Salt & Black Pepper

To serve

  • 500 g dry weight spaghetti, cooked
  • Grated parmesan cheese
  • Basil leaves

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F). Cut cherry tomatoes in half and spread on a non-stick baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil and add salt and black pepper. Roast for about 30-40 minutes, or until soft.
  2. In the meantime, cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling, salted water.
  3. To make the pesto, place ingredients into a food processor and pulse until combined to taste.
  4. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a fry pan. Add the chicken, cooking until cooked through. Remove from the pan, and set aside.
  5. Over low heat, add the pesto to the frypan with the cream and cook for 5 minutes. Return the chicken to the pan and stir until chicken is coated.
  6. Drain the pasta and then return it to the pot. Stir the pesto sauce into the pasta and serve, garnishing with roasted cherry tomatoes, basil leaves and parmesan.

Coconut Panna Cotta (Dairy Free)

Dairy Free Coconut Panna Cotta

How do we all feel about dessert for breakfast? I think you can tell that I’m kind of a fan. I just posted my new favourite breakfast – Baked French Toast. It is kind of on the decadent side and perfect for special occasion brunches. Most days I am having a smoothie (or a smoothie bowl when I feel fancy), a chia pudding or I fast until lunch time.

But today’s recipe for Coconut Panna Cotta is completely dairy free. They are  actually one of the simplest desserts I’ve ever made. They would be perfect for a dinner party or even a summer BBQ. But they are healthy enough that you could have them for breakfast!

Dairy Free Coconut Panna Cotta

I decided to serve them in my new coconut bowls from Tropeaka. I usually make my smoothie bowls in them because #instagramlife. The coconut panna cotta looked so cute served in the coconut bowl! I decorated the top with sliced white peaches, berries, coconut flakes and edible flowers.

Coconut is one of my favourite ingredients because it is so versatile. It goes with so many flavours, like chocolate, coffee or spices. Coconut is best friends with practically every fruit I can think of.

You can buy coconut in so many different forms. Hydrating coconut water makes a great fresh drink. Coconut milk and cream are great in both sweet and savoury cooking, from smoothies to soups! Coconut sugar is a great refined sugar substitute. You already know that coconut oil can be used in a million and one different ways, from frying to skincare. Fresh coconut flesh is full of nutrients, and then there is also shredded, desiccated and flaked versions that are great in baking and desserts. Phew!

Dairy Free Coconut Panna Cotta

Gelatine is also another interesting ingredient. I’ve used gelatine in cooking for years and I had no idea it had a lot of health benefits! Grass fed gelatine is a great source of protein and collagen, which may help with skin, hair, gut health, mental performance, plus joint and bone strength, and more.. Lately, I have also been adding a teaspoon of gelatine to hot blended drinks – my own version of a Bulletproof coffee or tea. It has no taste but makes the drinks SUPER frothy.

You can top your Coconut Panna Cotta with whatever you like – as I said, coconut goes with almost  everything! If you are having them for breakfast, you can try a scattering of homemade granola or top your favourite fruit and nuts. I think the contrast in textures from crunchy to smooth would be great. If you want to dress them up for dessert, try making a healthier chocolate sauce substituting coconut milk instead of cream, or a coulis with your favourite fruit. 

Related Post: Salted Coconut & Mango No Churn Ice Cream Cake

Dairy Free Coconut Panna Cotta

Coconut Panna Cotta

This dairy free Coconut Panna Cotta is a fantastic make-ahead dessert, but also healthy enough to eat for breakfast!

Course Breakfast, Dessert
Keyword Breakfast, Coconut, Dessert
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Refrigerate at least 3 hours
Total Time 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 400 ml can coconut milk or cream
  • 2 teaspoons grass fed gelatine
  • 1/4 cup honey, maple syrup or rice malt syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract, optional

To serve

  • Fresh fruit (I used strawberries, raspberries and white peach)
  • Coconut flakes
  • Edible flowers, optional

Instructions

  1. In a small saucepan, sprinkle the gelatine over 1 cup of coconut milk. Set aside for 5 minutes.
  2. Place the saucepan over low heat and whisk in the honey, vanilla and coconut extract if using. Remove from the heat just before it comes to the boil.
  3. Whisk in the remaining coconut milk. Divide the mixture between 2-4 bowls or ramekins and refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight.

  4. When panna cotta is set, serve with sliced white peaches, berries, coconut and edible flowers.

Raspberry and Ricotta Baked French Toast

Raspberry and Ricotta Baked French Toast

On Monday I burned my sweet potato fries to a blackened crisp. On Tuesday, my laptop just wouldn’t start up and much freaking out ensued. On Wednesday, I was caught in a freak downpour walking home – soaked right down to my underwear. Can I just say that things have not gone to plan lately.

I could blame Mercury in retrograde and think ‘this sucks!’ – in fact for the first couple of days I did. But I have been trying to dig deeper and explore the possibility that there are big and small lessons to learn.

I was really sick last week and had no choice but to rest. I had work deadlines and a million things to do. I didn’t have time to be sick! Why is this happening to me?! But after fighting my body and trying to push on I just felt worse and worse. This has actually happened to me quite a few times in the last year, as if the universe is done sending me hints and has resorted to big blaring neon signs. The lesson here? I had to stop and rest. Was it easy? Heck no. But it was necessary.

Raspberry and Ricotta Baked French Toast

I had a completely different recipe planned to go up this week – something really fresh and summery. But with the drizzly weather we’re having, all I want to eat is warm and cozy comfort food. I think I needed to learn to go with the flow and that it’s ok to sometimes abandon your plans when something doesn’t feel right. Enter this delicious breakfast.

Have you ever tried a Baked French Toast?

I used to be a strictly pancake only girl for years, but french toast and waffles have started to make an appearance on special occasions. However, I had never thought to make French Toast in the oven until now. I suppose it is similar to a bread and butter pudding, except better.

Raspberry and Ricotta Baked French Toast

Today’s recipe was 100% inspired by the blog Half Baked Harvest. I have been reading this fantastic blog in bed while I was sick! I absolutely love Tieghan’s beautiful food photography and her flavour combinations speak to my soul. I also recently bought her stunning cookbook and bookmarked a casual 20 or so recipes to try! Her Baked French Toast used blackberries but I wanted to make the most of in-season raspberries before they disappear.

I used a fruit challah loaf that I cut into slices, spread with raspberry jam and sandwiched together as the base of the french toast. You can use whatever bread you like – brioche would be perfect, or even hot cross buns would be a really fun Easter twist!

Raspberry and Ricotta Baked French Toast

The ricotta in the egg mix was a really great addition, making it very light and creamy. I also really enjoyed the leftovers! I reheated the slices in a frypan with melted butter, gently browning each side so they got warm and a little crispy.

I really loved how simple it was! You could even assemble this the night before, then all you need to do is bake it while your morning coffee brews. Perfect for a special Easter or Mother’s Day breakfast.

Related Post: Carrot Cake Ricotta Pancake

Raspberry and Ricotta Baked French Toast

Raspberry and Ricotta Baked French Toast

Raspberry and Ricotta Baked French Toast, a delicious breakfast for special occasions like Easter or Mother’s Day. The flavours are delicious and you can even assemble it the night before!

Course Breakfast, Brunch
Keyword Breakfast, Brunch, French Toast
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 1 loaf challah or brioche, cut into 2cm slices
  • 1 jar raspberry or strawberry jam
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 20 g butter, melted
  • 250 g raspberries
  • Icing sugar, to serve
  • Extra honey or maple syrup, to serve
  • Pouring cream, to serve

Instructions

  1. Grease a ceramic baking dish with butter. I used an oval one about 25 x 18cm.

  2. Slice the bread in half, spread with raspberry jam and sandwich the halves back together. Arrange the bread in the prepared baking dish, overlapping slightly.
  3. In a bowl or jug, whisk together the eggs, milk, ricotta, honey, vanilla, cinnamon and melted butter. Pour over the top of the bread, making sure to cover every piece. Allow to sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, or overnight.
  4. Preheat your oven to 180°C (375°F) and sprinkle half of the raspberries over the bread. Bake for 40 minutes, checking on it at the half way point. If the top is browning too quickly, cover loosely with foil.
  5. Serve warm with the remaining fresh raspberries, a dusting of icing sugar and a drizzle of honey or maple syrup and pouring cream.

Pimm’s Cup ‘Spider’ Ice Cream Float

Pimms Cup Spider Ice Cream Float

You guys! This is an idea that I’ve had in my head for months and I’m so excited to finally share it – my Pimms Cup Ice Cream Float! Here in Australia we call this kind of drink a ‘Spider’, but no matter what you call it, it’s delicious. I even re-shot the photos this weekend because the first attempt didn’t do justice to how fun this drink is. And maybe I just wanted to test it again, to make sure it was really good.

Spoiler alert, it is.

Pimms Cup Spider Ice Cream Float

The main components are a fizzy, carbonated soda or soft drink and a big scoop of ice cream. Two ingredients, it couldn’t be easier! There is definitely an element of childhood nostalgia with this drink. I used to love drinking spiders with creaming soda and vanilla ice cream. This version is grown up with a boozy twist!

Pimms Cup Spider Ice Cream Float

It’s no secret that I love Pimm’s in any form – from drinks to pies. It’s a deliciously drinkable gin-based aperitif created in 1841. Pimm’s is typically served as a pitcher cocktail with sliced cucumber, strawberries, lemon and lemonade or ginger ale.

Pimms Cup Spider Ice Cream Float

But I went one step further and added a big scoop of ice cream. It fizzes up theatrically and creates a creamy foam on top. The result is kind of like a creamy, boozy milkshake. It’s a cocktail and a dessert all in the one glass! I love boozy desserts and dessert inspired cocktails, so this ticks all the boxes for me.

Pimms Cup Spider Ice Cream Float

Traditionally vanilla ice cream is the most common flavour used in spiders and floats. I used salted caramel flavour for my version. It worked really well with the flavour of the ginger beer and turned out delicious. You could try a strawberry or peach gelato. Or if you prefer a dairy-free version, any kind of sorbet would also work – lemon would be yum!

Pimms Cup Spider Ice Cream Float

Feel free to add your favourite Pimm’s fruit fixings to the glass before you add the ice cream. I used the traditional sliced strawberries and cucumbers, but I’ve also seen versions with apple or orange slices, pomegranate and other berries. If you were feeling really fancy you could make this a ‘Royal’ Pimms Float using champagne instead of ginger beer. A sparkling Rosé could also be nice! Or maybe even a kombucha?

Pimms Cup Spider Ice Cream Float

This Pimm’s Ice Cream Float is the perfect drink for a warm afternoon. It would be great to share with friends or serve at a BBQ, pool party or boozy brunch before the warm weather ends. Drinking Pimm’s always reminds me of my best girl friends and good times and I will definitely keep experimenting with it in drinks and desserts for many years to come.

Related Post: The Garden Party Cocktail

Pimms Cup Spider Ice Cream Float

Pimm’s Cup ‘Spider’ Ice Cream Float

This is my boozy, grown up take on a nostalgic childhood favourite. My Pimm’s Cup ‘Spider’ Ice Cream Float is like dessert in a glass and perfect for warm summer days.

Course Cocktails
Keyword Cocktails, Summer
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 2

Ingredients

  • 6 strawberries, sliced
  • 1/2 cucumber, sliced thinly
  • 120 ml Pimm’s
  • ginger beer (I like Bundaberg)
  • 2 scoops ice cream (I used salted caramel)
  • Fresh mint & edible flowers (optional, to serve)

Instructions

  1. Add the sliced strawberries and cucumbers to the bottom of 2 tall glasses. Add 60ml Pimm’s to each glass.

  2. Top glasses up to three quarters full with ginger beer. Add a scoop of ice cream and top up a little more with extra ginger beer. 

  3. Serve immediately with a straw and optional fresh mint and flowers.

Peach and Raspberry Lattice Pie with Cream Cheese Pastry

Peach and Raspberry Lattice Pie

I couldn’t let the summer slip by without making a pie. So last week, I sliced some fragrant peaches and carefully weaved homemade pastry into a lattice pattern. It smelled delicious as it was baking and tasted even better with a big scoop of ice cream. The End. 

Just kidding, I could talk about pie all day. Some people think they are more of a winter dessert – they’re warm and comforting, I totally get it. But I absolutely love summer fruit encased in a golden flaky pastry. I especially love a good lattice pie, with a generous scattering of raw sugar on top. 

Peach and Raspberry Lattice Pie

It just looks so classic, and allows the fruit to bubble up and cook inside the pie. The plaited dough border on the pie was a simple, special touch that made it look super cute. Mine are always on the rustic side, but I’m all about it. Imperfections in baking can be beautiful. I love that you can tell it’s been made from scratch.

This time I decided to experiment with a new-to-me cream cheese pastry recipe, which is unlike anything I’ve ever tried in the pastry realm. Cream cheese, butter, and sour cream are whizzed up with flour and a touch of sugar. It would also be fantastic for savoury pies if you just omit the sugar.

Peach and Raspberry Lattice Pie

It came together easily in the food processor and rolled out beautifully. I made this on quite a warm day, so I had to put the dough back into the fridge between making the lattice and the plaited border.

I think it would be a great recipe for the beginner baker to start with. The cream cheese pastry didn’t shrink at all – one of my pastry pet peeves. The top pastry baked beautifully and I loved the sugar on top. The bottom layer had an almost cake-like texture when it was warm. I wasn’t a fan of the texture of the pastry when it was cold from the fridge but it was great warm or at room temperature.

Peach and Raspberry Lattice Pie

The filling was also next level. Think seasonal fresh peaches, ripe raspberries, vanilla seeds and cinnamon with a good swig of bourbon. I love adding booze to fruit desserts. Chambord with berries, spiced rum with banana and of course, bourbon with peaches.  

Lattice Pie craving = satisfied. I always like my pie with ice cream – the contrast of hot pie and cold ice cream is my favourite. My housemate Kay prefers “lashings of cream”. Either way, we were both happy girls. I was super happy with the new pastry recipe and I can see myself using it again and again for future pies.

Related Post: Fig Crumble Tart with Honey Whipped Ricotta

Peach and Raspberry Lattice Pie

Peach and Raspberry Lattice Pie with Cream Cheese Pastry

A delicious Peach and Raspberry Pie with a Lattice Cream Cheese Pastry Crust. The pastry is a dream to work with and the filling is perfect for end of summer days. Serve with a massive scoop of ice cream.

Course Dessert
Keyword Pies & Tarts, Summer
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Chilling Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 6

Ingredients

Cream Cheese Pastry

  • 160 g butter, cold, chopped into 3cm cubes
  • 125 g cream cheese
  • 1 2/3 cup plain flour
  • 1/4 cup caster sugar
  • 1/4 cup sour cream

Peach and Raspberry Filling

  • 4 ripe peaches, thinly sliced
  • 100 g raspberries, fresh or frozen
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or extract
  • 3 tablespoons bourbon (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons plain flour or cornflour

To Bake

  • 1 egg, whisked
  • Raw sugar, to sprinkle on top

Instructions

  1. To make the cream cheese pastry, place the butter, cream cheese, flour and sugar into a food processor and blitz until the mixture starts to form clumps. Add the sour cream and blitz again until the mixture comes together. Divide the mixture in half and flatten into a disc. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.
  2. In the meantime, make the pie filling. Place the peaches, raspberries, cinnamon, vanilla, bourbon and flour into a bowl and stir to combine.
  3. Preheat the oven to 200°C (390°F). Sprinkle some extra flour onto a work surface and roll out one of the pastry discs. Line the bottom of an 18cm pie dish. Spoon filling into the pie dish.
  4. Divide the remaining pastry disc into Roll out the remaining pastry and cut into even strips. Weave the pastry into a lattice pattern.
  5. For the plaited border, take 3 x 2cm strips of pastry and plait them together. To make things a little more manageable, I did mine in two smaller plaits. Carefully arrange the pastry plaits around the border of the cake.
  6. Brush the top of the pie with the egg and scatter with raw sugar. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the pastry is golden and the filling is bubbling. Serve warm with ice cream.