Halloween Baking

Growing up in Australia, Halloween was never a thing. In recent years I have seen more and more children walking around the suburbs in their costumes trick or treating as well as an increasing number of households decorating their front yards to get in to the spirit.

This year I decided to do some Halloween baking for a bit of fun, and because I was procrastinating instead of studying for my uni exams.

Here are a few pictures of the goodies I made.

Beef and Rosemary Pies

I haven’t yet developed a proper recipe for these pies with the correct amount of pastry for the filling but the slow cooked beef is too good to not share! The beef is cooked until it pulls apart and is waaaayyyy better than anything you could buy!

500g beef cubes
1 onion
2 sprigs of rosemary
2 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons of chopped parsley
a splash of red wine
1/2 cup of plain flour
1 teaspoon of salt
a pinch of pepper
Olive oil

Toss beef cubes with plain flour so each cube is coated.
Brown off beef cubes in a hot pan with olive oil (you want them to have caramelised sides).
Add chopped onions and crushed garlic to the pan and as this is cooking try and scrape up any bits that have stuck to the bottom of the pot.
Add a splash of red wine.
Pull the rosemary leaves off and put them in the pot.
Pour in enough water to cover the meat and put a lid on.
Season with salt and pepper.
Cook the meat until it breaks apart (add more water as it evaporates) then turn off the heat.
Add parsley and use a wooden spoon to squash the meat so it breaks up.
Refrigerate when cool. Line a pie dish or individual pie dishes with shortcrust pastry and spoon in cold filling. Cover with puff pastry and press down the edges to seal. Cut a V in the top to let out steam then brush with milk or egg wash before baking at 200°C for 35 minutes or until golden.

I used homemade shortcrust pastry on the bottom and puff pastry with half the butter to flour weight folded in for the pie tops.

Cherry Ripple Ice Cream

In our backyard we have lots of beautiful fruit trees. We grow satsuma plums, nectarines, peaches, pomegranates, lemons, blood oranges and my personal favourite CHERRIES! There is normally too much fruit to eat so what we don’t give away we turn in to jams, preserves and dried fruits. This cherry season I decided to try and make some cherry ripple ice cream for a refreshing summer treat. I found a simple base recipe using cream, milk, sugar and vanilla bean paste then added some cherry syrup while it was churning in the ice cream maker and layered more of the cherry syrup with the base in a container before putting it in the freezer.

3/4 cup caster sugar
1 cup double cream
2 cups full cream milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

Cherry Syrup
1 1/2 cups of pitted cherries
1/3 cup caster sugar
a splash of water

Place syrup ingredients in to a saucepan and cook on low heat until cherries are soft. Use a mesh sieve to push the cherries through to remove the skins. Refrigerate until cool. (Tip: do this the day before churning)

Put all of the ice cream base ingredients in to another saucepan on low heat until the sugar dissolves. Allow to cool and refrigerate until cold (Tip: do this the day before churning too!)

Place the ice cream base in your ice cream machine, add a bit of syrup so it turns pink and churn until it gets thick. Spoon a layer of ice cream in to a freezer container and pour over some cherry syrup, repeat until you’ve used up all of the base.
Freeze 🙂

Once it has frozen you can scoop it in to some waffle cones and enjoy on a hot day. Now it is satsuma plum season so time to think of some yummy plum recipes!

I am really loving my camera and starting to get the hang of taking photos that I am happy with. I still have no idea how to edit photos so haven’t even attempted that yet but one step at a time hey! If anyone has any photo tips/editing software suggestions let me know below!

Crispy Chocolate Caramel Peanut Slice

When it is too hot to go outside on my day off I have to come up with activities to keep myself busy. Today I looked in the pantry and saw that I had all the makings of a caramel slice. I opened up my Donna Hay cookbook and found the recipe I have made many times before for her Classic Chocolate Caramel Slice but decided to add a few additions to make it crispy and peanuty! Normally I find the caramel layer a bit too rich for my liking so I reduced the caramel and added rice crispy cereal and crushed peanuts. It gives it a thicker and more crumbly texture. Now to work out what to make tomorrow, 40°C+ is not fun!

Biscuity Base Layer
1 cup of plain flour
1/2 cup of desiccated coconut
1/2 cup brown sugar
125g butter (melted)

Crispy Caramel Peanut Layer
400g sweetened condensed milk
60g butter
75g golden syrup
1/2 cup crushed peanuts
2 cups rice crispy cereal

Chocolate Layer
100g dark chocolate
100g milk chocolate
2 teaspoons vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 180°C.
Line an approximately 7 inch square cake tin with baking paper.
Place biscuit base layer ingredients in a bowl and mix until combined.
Spoon mixture in to prepared tin and smooth out evenly with the back of a spoon.
Bake for 15 minutes

While the base is baking, place condensed milk, butter and golden syrup in a saucepan on low heat for about 10 minutes, stirring constantly so it doesn’t catch and burn on the bottom.
Mix in rice crispy cereal and crushed peanuts.
Once base layer has been in the oven for 15 minutes, take it out and spoon caramel on top, spreading it out evenly.
Bake for another 20-25 minutes or until the caramel layer looks golden on top.
Take tin out of the oven and allow to cool for about 20 minutes.

Melt milk chocolate and dark chocolate slowly in separate bowls in the microwave.
Once melted, stir in 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil to each chocolate type.
Spoon blobs of each chocolate on the top of the caramel layer and swirl around.
Tap the container on the bench so air bubbles on the surface burst.
Put in the fridge to cool completely before removing the slice from the tin and cutting in to pieces (a heated knife will help to get through the chocolate layer).

Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days



French Macarons

Last year I won a third place ribbon for my chocolate hazelnut French macarons at the Royal Adelaide Show. The recipes for macarons that I have seen on the internet are all very similar in terms of the ingredients used but may use either the French or Italian method. The French method is made by whipping room temperature egg whites with fine sugar. For the Italian method a hot sugar syrup is added to egg whites while beating which cooks the egg whites creating a more stable meringue. I like to use the French method even though it is less stable than the Italian, only because there is one less step in the preparation so requires less time and creates fewer dishes to wash!

Here is my favourite recipe…

You will need:
100g Egg whites
125g Caster sugar/superfine sugar
120g Pure icing sugar
120g Blanched Almond Meal
10g Cocoa (if making chocolate macarons) OR you choice of gel food colouring
Put pure icing sugar and almond meal (and cocoa if using) in a food processor to remove the lumps. Don’t over process! In the bowl of your mixer, place room temperature egg whites and start beating until they become a bit foamy, then slowly stream in caster sugar. Beat until your meringue is thick and shiny. Fold in dry ingredients (and food colouring if using). Now for the tricky bit! You have to mix until when you drop a bit of the mixture it slowly starts to disappear in to the rest of the mixture and doesn’t stay as an obvious blob on the top. Put the macaron mixture in to a piping bag with a 10mm round piping tip or you could cut a 10mm hole off of the tip of a disposable piping bag.
Pipe about 30mm wide circles of mixture on to baking paper leaving space between each one as they will spread a little as they settle. Leave trays in a cool dry place for 45 minutes to an hour until a skin forms and when you touch a macaron it does not stick to you! Place in a preheated oven at 160°C (320°F) and bake for about 13-14 minutes. You should notice little ‘feet’ forming which should be set when your shells are properly baked. Allow to cool on the tray.
Once cooled, you can fill your shells with the filling of your choice. macaron-2I like to use ganache which you can make using equal quantities of cream and good quality dark chocolate. Put the cream in a saucepan and heat until you see some bubbles coming up, then pour over the finely chopped chocolate and sit for about a minute before whisking together to form a bowl of glossy delicious ganache. Allow it to cool and thicken to a consistency that you can pipe on to one half of your macaron shells and sandwich together.


Note: Store in the fridge (they are best the next day). Unfilled shells store well in the freezer!

The method pictures are from a batch of passionfruit macarons I made.

I wish you macaron success!