Turkish Pistachio Shortbread 

I made these today for some guests and I am very pleased with the outcome. While the recipe ended up making 100 not 50 shortbread biscuits, the taste made up for the endless dough rolling. I also love the cute design of the biscuits. So, without further ado, here is the recipe from Anissa Helou’s “Sweet Middle East”: 

Ingredients

1/3 cup (50g) hulled unsalted pistachios

1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp (150g) unsalted butter, at room temperature 

1 1/3 cups (150g) confectioners’ sugar

3/4 cup (180ml) sunflower oil

1 large egg, at room temperature 

5 Tbsp (50g) cornstarch

3 1/2 cups plus 2 Tbsp (575g) unbleached all-purpose flour 

Method 

1. Set aside 50 pistachios to use as garnish. Using a small food processor or spice grinder, finely grind the remaining pistachios.

2. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celscious. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. 

3. Using an electric mixer, blend the butter and confectioners’ sugar until very smooth. Add the sunflower oil and egg and mix well. Add the cornstarch and ground pistachios and combine. Finally, add the flour and mix until you have a smooth dough. 

4. Pinch off enough dough to roll into a ball the size of a walnut. Place on the prepared baking sheet, flattening the dough slightly. Spike a pistachio in the middle. Repeat with the remaining dough.

5. Bake until done. It not coloured, 15 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an artight container, in a cool place, for up to 1 week.

The Exhibition 

So I just thought I’d do a post of what I ended up making for the pottery exhibition. I’ve made the butterfly cakes before, except this time I made them smaller. The passionfruit melting moments haven’t featured on my blog before but I’m afraid the recipe is top secret, handed to me by a patisserie chef in kangaroo valley. Anyway, it was all worth it because I got given some of my grandad’s gorgeous pottery at the end. 

Gingerbread Mugs 

So I made these yesterday for my grandad’s pottery exhibition that will be taking place this weekend, as gingerbread tends to last a week. It uses the same recipe as was used to make the gingerbread house for Christmas last year, expect I halved the quantities. To get a mug shape I used a hand-drawn template and cut the gingerbread using the template. Alternatively you could print a picture of a mug off from online, or if you’re lucky, find a cutter that is the desired shape.

Here is the recipe:

Makes roughly 60 mugs

Ingredients

188g (not exactly half but close enough) unsalted butter

150g dark muscovado sugar

75g golden syrup

450g plain flour 

1/2 tbsp bicarbonate soda

1 tbsp ground ginger

Icing

1 1/2 egg whites

338g icing sugar, sifted 

1 1/2 tsp lemon juice

Method

1 Heat the oven to 200C / fan 180C / gas 6. Melt the butter, sugar and syrup together in a large pan. Sieve the flour, bicarbonate of soda and ground ginger together in a large bowl and make a well. Pour in the melted butter mixture, stir it in and when cool enough to handle, knead to a stiff dough.

2. Divide the mixture into 4 balls and cover in cling wrap to prevent dough from drying out. Unwrap one ball and roll to a thickness of about 5 mm between two sheets of baking paper. 

3. Using a template or cutter, make as many mugs as possible, removing any leftover dough and keeping it for later. To avoid the dough stretching due to being moved onto a tray, simply use the bottom layer of baking paper used to roll out the dough for baking (I.e lift it off the bench top and place it on the tray, rather than moving each individual mug). 

4. Bake for 7 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Over cooking the biscuits will cause them to be crunchy. 

5. Repeat process until all dough is used, even the excess from each ball of dough that has been rolled out. Allow to cool on wire racks. 

6. For the icing, whisk the egg whites in a large bowl until frothy. Using a wooden spoon or a hand held electric mixer on slow speed, add the icing sugar a tablespoonful at a time. Stir in the lemon juice and beat the icing until it is very stiff and white and stands up in peaks. Cover the surface with a damp cloth if not using immediately.

7. Pipe a white outline using a small circular nozzle on each mug.

With the piping, I piped on a handle rather than cutting out a handle before baking. This is because the dough spreads a little in the oven and the handles are likely to fall off, as they are weak structurally. If the mugs were larger a hole could be cut out for the handle.

Gluten-free Brownies


I made these the other day for David’s pottery exhibition, and I must say for a gluten free brownie they tasted pretty bloody good. They require exactly the same recipe that was used for the classic chewy brownies below, except the 110g of almond meal replaces 115g of flour. The almond meal gives it a slightly nutty taste, which I quite like. 

Classic Chewy Brownie

I made these a few days ago for a friend’s 17th birthday. To her and my surprise I’d never made brownies up until then, a staple in the baking world! This recipe is very simple and very tasty. Infact I sourced it from taste.com, so you’d hope that it was tasty. I had no dramas and have no suggestions for changes to the recipe so I shall just type it out as is. 

Here goes:

Ingredients 

125g unsalted butter, chopped

125g dark chocolate, chopped

3 eggs, lightly whisked

335g (1 1/2 cups) white sugar

115g (3/4 cup) plain flour

30g (1/4 cup) Dutch cocoa powder

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

Method

1. Preheat oven to 180C/160C fan forced. Grease a 20cm (base measurement) square cake pan and line with baking paper.

2. Place butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (don’t let the bowl touch the water). Stir with a metal spoon until melted. Remove from heat. Quickly stir in egg, sugar, flour, cocoa powder, vanilla and salt until just combined. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out with moist crumbs clinging. Set aside to cool completely.

The good thing about this recipe is you can play with it as much as you wish. For instance I thought I’d put some white choc chips on the top. They did however brown very quickly so this might not be the best idea for decoration, but you could also do things like incorporate nuts and dried fruit into the mixture. Next time I make these I am going to put pistachios and dried cranberries in the mixture, as it will be near christmas time, and well red and green make me think of Christmas. The point is you can do whatever you want in terms of decoration and adding flavour. 

Carrot Cake


I had a lot of fun with this recipe, especially mucking around with the walnuts to form some sort of decoration at the end. It is fairly simple to make and a healthier alternative to your usual carrot cake as it uses half wholemeal flour and little sugar. The recipe does not specify an oven temperature so I have added this to the recipe in a bold font.

For the original recipe go to:

http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/38786/delicious+healthy+carrot+cake
Here is the recipe with a few adjustments:

Ingredients

Cake

2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla essence

1/2 cup canola oil (grape seed oil works as a substitute)

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup wholemeal plain flour

1/2 cup white self-raising flour

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground dry ginger

300g carrot, grated

250g walnuts, chopped

Cream Cheese Icing

45g butter

100g cream cheese

1 cup icing sugar

10ml lemon juice

Decoration

Roughly 10 walnuts, chopped 

Green writing icing

Method

1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees celsius and line a loaf tin with baking paper.

2. Mix eggs, vanilla essence, oil and sugar in a large bowl.

3. In a medium sized bowl combine flours, bi-carb and spices. Add the dry mix to the wet mix and stir.

4. Add in the grated carrot and chopped walnuts and mix until just combined.

5. Put mixture in the loaf tin and cook for 1 hour or until a skewer comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

6. For the icing, let the butter and cream cheese soften.

7. Mix all the ingredients together using an electric beater until creamy and smooth.

8. Ice cake liberally once cool.

9. On a flat surface arrange chopped walnuts in a triangular shape, to mimic that of a carrot. 

10. Carefully place walnut pieces on the cake, one piece at a time so as to reconstruct the triangular shape made in the previous step. Carrot decorations can be placed in any pattern or order you wish.

11. Pipe green stalks above walnut triangles to create carrots. 

The decoration was my idea, hence why it is also in bold. I think it elevates this already excellent cake and frankly just looks cute. 


Butterflies

I’ve always wanted to make butterfly cupcakes due to their incredibly simple but effective design. The recipe I used is from women’s weekly classic cupcakes was easy to follow and achieved good results. 

Here is the recipe:

Ingredients

Vanilla butter cakes

90g butter, softened

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 C (110g) caster (superfine) sugar

2 eggs

1 C (150g) self-raising flour

2 tbsp milk

Decorations 

1/2 C (125ml) thickened (heavy) cream

1/3 C (110g) strawberry jam

1 tbsp icing (confectioner’s) sugar 

Method

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius. Line eight of 12-hole (1/3-cup/80ml) muffin pan with paper cases.

2. Beat butter, extract, sugar, eggs, sifted flour and milk in a small bowl with electric mixer on low speed until ingredients are combined. Increase speed to medium; beat until mixture has changed to a paler colour. Drop 1/4 cups of mixture into paper cases.

3. Bake about 20 minutes. Stand cake in pan 5 minutes before turning, top-side up, onto wire rack to cool.

4. Beat cream in small bowl with electric mixer until soft peaks form.

5. Cut a round hole using a butter knife, about 2.5 cm deep, in tops of cold cakes; halve the rounds to make butterfly wings. Fill holes with jam, then cream. Position wings on cakes; dust lightly with sifted icing sugar.

So my only peace of advice regarding this recipe is don’t go too crazy on the jam and the cream, however tempting, as otherwise you will have a similar Eureka moment to Archemides.