Monday, May 31, 2010
It was one of a number of achievements over the weekend (others included wearing high heels all night, not drunkenly calling or texting he-who-shall-not-be-named, overdue catch-ups with a couple of old friends and managing to not eat the yet-to-arrive-in-Wellington deluxe cheeseburgers from Wendy's). I'd always been intimidated by ganache; I think it was the thought of burning the cream and having the chocolate go lumpy and dry coupled with trying to balance a bowl over a pot of water. But as I soon discovered, it's actually really easy. And truly truly delicious.
Mum, in consultation with the birthday girl had found a recipe in an Australian Woman's Weekly cookbook for a bonfire cake. I think it was supposed to look something like this but we decided on a few variations. So, while the rest of the family prepared the party venue, I meticulously set about creating a masterpiece. With time firmly not on our side, and a netball game to get to, we decided on (gasp!) buying the sponge cake. I wouldn't normally condone this kind of behaviour, but spending my saturday morning at home sassing up a pile of plain old sponge ended being lots of fun.
A kind of sponge-massacre ensued (and as I'm new to this blogging thing I didn't take step by step photos sorry) and what resulted was a 3-tiered extravaganza.
But first, the ganache. I went with white chocolate at the birthday girl's request, so I bought 3 king size blocks of Whittaker's and a litre of cream.
(I altered a recipe I got from here)
*Coarsely chop 360g white chocolate (1 king sized block plus about another 1/3). Put in a heatproof bowl.
*Bring to the boil 1 cup of cream.
*Pour cream onto chocolate and stir constantly until smooth.
*Put in the fridge for about an hour, stirring occasionally.
*When reasonably thick, sift over some icing sugar and beat with electric mixers for no more than a minute.
You could omit the icing sugar if you're a purist, and you can make it with dark chocolate aswell. You can cover fudge with it, glaze your cakes, or like me, create a masterpiece. One recipe I read said add a few tablespoons of butter, but as I was having mini sugar induced heart attacks everytime I licked the spoon, I flagged and it didn't matter one bit.
I cut and shaped and piled up the sponge. I whipped cream. I folded in passionfruit syrup. I heated some frozen raspberries with brandy and icing sugar (a half-assed coulis if you will) and I poured. I smeared, I drizzled, I built - and then I covered the whole thing in ganache. Ganache and cadbury flakes.
It was beautiful.
Whilst the sparkler candles didn't exactly sparkle as intended, you get the idea. The birthday girl got right amongst it, madonna style lace glove and all...
Having seen a number of fancy expensive cakes at 21st parties go to waste, it was a joy to watch this baby get demolished. But what more do you expect from cream and chocolate and berries and booze. Especially when washed down with shots, bubbles and a pint of beer. A great night all round!
Monday, May 24, 2010
Vegetarian Filo Wraps
Filo pastry is a little intimidating, but if you just act confident, this stuff is the goods. I prefer brushing it with olive oil over melted butter, but either is fine.
Basically, you just make a filling with whatever you want (see above). Pinenuts are good, fresh herbs and any combo of veges you may have lying around.
You then brush layers of the filo together, fold a few until you have a rectangle. Chuck some filling on, fold up like a parcel and away you go! Brush with a little olive oil and sprinkle with something on top if you like (sesame seeds, poppy seeds, chilli flakes...the pantry is your oyster).
Then you bake! About 180*C for about 20 minutes until brown. My gym-buddy (and just buddy in general) Hannah and I had them with a green salad with avocado and balsamic. Delicious!
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
...the beginning being not only the Edmonds Cookbook, a kiwi institution, but the beginning being also single life once more.
Baking seriously helps. Enthralled in a game of netball last night, albeit with baking intentions, my friend Jimmy sent a one-word text message that simply read "Cookie". No polite question, just the word. He went hunting over Easter and got himself a Stag, to whose shoulder I am now in possession (watch this space!...). I exchanged said shoulder for baking - at Jimmy's request Anzac Biscuits, Afghans and after last night, another double batch of Afghans.
They're so chocolatey and buttery and delicious, and staying true to my cooking mantra of "simple and impressive", they are just that. Jimmy loved them, my flatmates loved them, and what better way to mend a broken heart than with chocolate in cookie form.
Afghans (Edmonds Cookbook)
200g softened butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups plain flour
1/4 cup cocoa
2 cups cornflakes
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Sift over cocoa and flour. Fold in cornflakes. Spoon moulds onto a greased oven tray and press gently. Bake at 180*C for 15 minutes or until set. When cold ice with chocolate icing (icing sugar, cocoa, a knob of butter and dashes of boiling water at a time, stirring constantly until you get the right consistency) and top with a walnut.