Neapolitan Mille Feuille

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Just a super simple recipe to get you through the week 🙂 I went through a Mille Feuille phase after I received a huge roll of puff pastry from where I work. I didn’t realise they were so easy to make!

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Sometimes the oven can be a bit erratic and bake the pastry to different colours like mine did but it still tastes delicious. 

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People seem to think these look impressive and therefore difficult. I would therefore recommend these as a dessert for a dinner party 🙂 They are also super light, which means if you had a little too much of the main course, don’t fret about missing out on dessert.

 

Neapolitan Mile Feuille
Ingredients:
1 sheet puff pastry
2 Tbsp white sugar
1 cup cream
1 tsp Vanilla Essence
1 Tbsp Berry Coulis
1 Tbsp Cocoa
NOTE: could use chocolate ganache leftover from another recipe like I did 🙂

Instructions:
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius and get out two baking trays. Cut the puff pastry into three sections (like in the picture). Place a sheet of baking paper and sprinkle 1 Tbsp white sugar on top. Place on the sheets of puff pastry and sprinkle on the other 1 Tbsp sugar on top. Place on another sheet of baking paper and finally place on the other baking tray. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove the top baking tray and cook for 10 more minutes until golden and crisp. Cool on the tray.

Whip the cream until stiff peaks. Divide into three amounts. Add the vanilla to one, berry coulis to one and the cocoa to the other, mixing gently until combined.

Cut the pastry sheets each into 6 even-sized pieces with a serrated knife. Spoon the cocoa-cream into a piping bag and pipe onto 6 of the pieces. Repeat with the berry cream and vanilla cream (I used different piping tips). Then stack the pieces into layer of three. Then serve!

The longer you leave them, the less crisp they will become. I kept mine in the fridge and they were okay the next day. Makes six.

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Pistachio, Blueberry and Pansy Pavlova ({Gluten Free} Birthday Cake Alternative)

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(Don’t know what happened to the quality of that picture, sorry! ^)

Today I get to ice my birthday cake 🙂 That makes many people happy, constructing a big cake and making it look all pretty, then sharing it with everyone?

Anyway I wanted to show that you don’t have to have a cake to have a glorious creation to showcase at your birthday. A stack of meringues can do just the trick! Plus they can be simpler!

(here is a smaller version….. v)

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Anyway, I hope you enjoy; I catch a plane soon so I thought I would post while I get the time. When is your next break? Do you have any baking planned? Do comment 🙂

 

 

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Pistachio, Blueberry and Pansy Pavlova 
Ingredients:
Pavlova:
8 egg whites (at room temperature)
400g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 Tbsp cornflour
Blueberry Coulis:
1 cup frozen or fresh blueberries
To Assemble:
Handful of pistachios
Crystallized pansies
300ml cream, whipped to soft peaks

 Instructions:
Preheat the oven to about 120 degrees Celsius. Line two baking trays with greaseproof paper. If you like, you can trace three plates/cups are gradient-sizing as guidelines for later on.

Whip the egg whites in a large bowl until they are light and frothy. Increase the speed and start adding the sugar a bit at a time. Continuing whipping for about 10 minutes until the sugar has dissolved (you shouldn’t be able to feel it when you rub some between your fingers). Mix in the vanilla and cornflour.

Spread the meringue onto the trays, so you have three big circles, getting smaller. Bake these babies for about an hour, or until they are slightly crunchy on the outside and cooked through. Cool on the trays.

Meanwhile, make the coulis! Cook the blueberries over low heat until thickened. Cool.

When you are ready to assemble, carefully transfer the biggest circle to your serving plate (doesn’t matter if it breaks) and layer on some cream and a bit of coulis. Place the next layer on top and then repeat. Finally, arrange on your top layer and spoon the coulis over the whole thing. Sprinkle on the pistachios and arrange on the pansies. Done!

Serves a good 10+ people. You can make the pavs a day before if you like.

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Have fun everyone!

Banana and Blackberry Cake (with Vegan Option)

I promised cake! 😀

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I went through a cake making craze this summer, and here is one of the results. I love the wreath of berries look, it seems very ‘Mother Nature’ to me.

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The cake itself is vegan, so it stays super moist and keeps really well. There is cream on top, but you can always use coconut cream instead, and the result will be just as billowy and delicious!

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If you don’t have any black berries on hand, then any other berry will do quite nicely. I’m sure even if you topped it with frozen berries, it will look divine.

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Please have a wonderful week everyone 🙂 Sami xx

 

Banana and Blackberry Cake with Vegan Option
Ingredients:
Vegan Banana Cake:
300g flour
1&1/2 tsp baking soda
Pinch of salt
115g sugar
300g mashed banana
125mls water
80mls canola oil
To top:
180mls cream (or coconut cream for vegan)
25g icing sugar
A few blackberries
To fill:
Blackberry Jam, about half a cup
To decorate:
A handful of blackberries
Mint leaves

Instructions:
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius and grease a 20cm diameter cake tin.
In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, salt and sugar until combined. In another bowl, mix together the banana, water and oil. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix gently until just combined. If necessary, add a splash more of water. Pour into the tin and bake the cake for about 45 minutes, until golden brown and a skewer comes out clean when inserted. Cool for about 10 minutes in the tin then flip onto a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the cream, crush the berries through a sieve so that you have some of the juice. Whip the cream and icing sugar until soft peaks form, then add the berry juice. If the colour isn’t as strong as you would like, add some more berry juice. Continue to whip until stiff peaks form.
To assemble, cut the cake in half horizontally. Spread some jam on the top of the bottom half, almost touching the edges. Spread about 1/3 of the cream on top of the jam, making sure you almost touch the edges too. Put the top half in place, being careful not to press down too much. Spread the rest of the cream on top of the cake. Arrange the berries around the edges like an adorable wee crown. Add some mint leaves to garnish. Serve and bask in your Earth God/dess goodness!
Serves about 10 nicely.
The cake itself keeps un-iced etc for a few days in an airtight container. The colour of the cream fades a bit after about an hour.
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Luscious Chocolate Cheesecake

I laughed because when I looked at what I wrote about this cheesecake a few years ago, I said it was its own level on the food pyramid. It’s true.

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I liked it so much I even went to the effort of putting up a sheet to photograph it! I am sure you will love it too, especially if you are a lover of both chocolate AND cheesecake.

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This is my dad’s recipe and specialty 🙂

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The gingernuts in the base give a nice tangy contrast to the rich sweet filling, but I am sure you can switch them with another plain biscuit if you like.

Luscious Chocolate Cheesecake Recipe
Ingredients:
Base:
125g malt biscuits
125g gingernuts
100g butter
Filling:
250g dark chocolate
250g cream cheese
½ cup (100g) caster sugar
150mls cream
2 eggs

Instructions:

Line a 23cm diameter spring-form cake tin with tin foil.

Crush the biscuits until they resemble fine breadcrumbs. Melt the butter and mix with the biscuits until combined.  Press onto the bottom and the sides of the tin with a glass or your fingers. Refrigerate until set.

Melt the chocolate in a glass bowl over a pot of simmering water. Cool slightly. Beat together the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Set aside. Separate the eggs and whip the egg whites to soft peaks. Set aside. Whip the cream to soft peaks. Set aside. Beat the egg yolks slightly. Set aside. Beat the egg yolks into the cream cheese mixture. Slowly beat the chocolate in a bit at a time. Working quickly so the chocolate doesn’t melt, carefully fold in the egg whites, then the cream. Pour into the cake tin cover in tin foil. Refrigerate 4 hours until set.

Serves 20 (or 5 for 4 days……!) (well it really depends on how hungry you are. It’s pretty rich).

Lasts for about a week

Enjoy my lovelies!

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Valentine’s Summer Pavlova (Pansy Pav)

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Happy early Valentine’s day to all of you!
My lovely friend Valentina (brilliant name, I know) came over the other day and we made you a treat 🙂 Val had never made pavlova before so I think this was a pretty good first time job!
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The glory of egg whites, sugar, air and time before it goes into the oven (^) and after (v).

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We never really set out to make anything fancy (not that fancy means difficult!) but when we were dolloping the billowy white meringue onto the tray, we sort of just ended up making a heart shape. Then I remembered all the pansies I had outside….. and voila!
Sadly as it was a spur of the moment decision, I didn’t have time to crystallise them as I would have liked, but they are edible and you can’t really taste them. If the idea of eating these beauties doesn’t really appeal to you, either try using rose petals, decorating with fruit or just marvel in their prettiness then push them to the side of the plate.
Val and I arranged the pansies by colour roughly on the table before we decorated so that we were sure we had enough colours. There is some more advice about this in the instructions so don;t worry! To top it all off, we spiked the cream with a bit of lemoncello to add it the flavour. Delicious 🙂

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Pansy Pavlova
Ingredients:
Pavlova:
5 eggs whites (room temperature is best)
225g sugar
1 Tbsp cornflour
To top:
200mls cream
1 Tbsp limoncello (or to taste!)
+
Lots of pansies to decorate (a big bowlful!)

Instructions:
Preheat the oven to about 110 degrees Celsius and line a baking tray with a baking mat or baking paper.
Make sure the bowl you will be beating the whites in is nice and clean! Start by beating the whites until they are light and bubbly. Then increase the speed to high and add the sugar one tablespoonful at a time. Only add the next one after the sugar has dissolved. Continue this until the sugar is used up. This is a long process but worth it in the end if you want a big puffy pavlova! Beat the mixture until thick, glossy and stiff peaks form. Mix in the cornflour (this gives it the marshmallow texture in the middle). Spoon onto the baking tray and spread the meringue thickly into a heart shape. Bake for an hour, until the pavlova has a firm crust but is not browned. Cool on the tray.
Meanwhile, if you haven’t already, you have some time to go and collect your pansies. Giving them a wee wash first is recommended. You can arrange them onto a table or tray to make sure you have enough to cover the pav, or if you have enough colours (if you are going for the gradient option that is). When the pavlova was cooled, Val and I took the time to have a practice run and arrange the pansies on the pavlova without cream on top, then taking them all off again. This is by no means compulsory!
To assemble, whip the cream to almost stiff peaks then mix in the lemoncello, making sure to give it a taste! Spread it on top of the pavlova evenly, not too close to the edge, then arrange the pansies on top. Done!
You are best to serve this soon after decorating as the flowers do wilt after about an hour. The pav by itself can be kept (when airtight) fresh for a few days! Serves a crowd.

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Have a lovely week everyone 🙂

Vanilla (and Cynar) Gelato

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Summer means gelato. Well, this Summer does! It’s always good to have few goals to keep you going in the holidays, which is always easy due to the plethora of delicious and seasonally exclusive foods available and the sudden availability of free time. We have a Christmas in (Hopefully) the sunshine here in New Zealand, which means lots of Ice Cream and sometimes frozen Christmas Puddings instead of boiled ones. It also means we have a lot of winter decorations and fake snow in what sometimes reaches 30 degrees Celsius heat, much to the amusement of Northern Hemishere residents.
I digress! Back to this gelato. It’s easy and egg free, which means you don’t have to go through the ordeal of separating egg yolks and then the hassle of using up the whites. It also needs a tad less sugar than usual as the alcohol in it doesn’t freeze.
It was made only hours before it was served (excellent time management, I know) so this is what it looked like after one hour in the freezer post-churning:
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Could be worse. But ideally, give it a good 6 hours plus. For those of you who do not know what Cynar is, don’t worry. I didn’t until I discovered we didn’t have Marsala wine minutes before having to add it to the gelato. It’s an 16% alcohol spirit from Italy and is flavoured with lots of herbs and plant extracts; primarily believe it or not of artichoke essence. You wouldn’t guess it….! You can pick any alcohol you want really, just be sure it’s about the same alcohol percentage for consistency. Adapt it to your tastes or what you are serving it with! I wanted Marsala as it was for an Italian date tart but hey, I did things last minute.
Anyway, try it! It’s super creamy and not too demanding in terms of special ingredients. You could probably leave out the alcohol if you aren’t a fan, but it would be risky. I intend to post a recipe for delicious ‘plain’ vanilla ice cream sometime soon! Here is the recipe~

Vanilla and Cynar Gelato
Ingredients:
100 white sugar
30g cornflour
500mls full cream milk
½ tsp vanilla paste or essence
125mls cream
Scant 50mls of 15-20% alcohol spirit
(I used cynar, marsala would be good!)
To serve:
Crushed chocolate/coffee beans/nuts
Cherries or other berries

Instructions:
If you are using an ice cream maker, don’t forget to have the freezing bowl completely frozen!
In a medium saucepan, mix together the sugar, cornflour and about ¼ of the milk on low heat until the sugar has dissolved completely. Add the rest of the milk, stirring, a bit at a time, followed by the vanilla. Continue to boil gently until the mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon and holds when you draw a line through it. Remove from the heat, pour into a bowl (which you could have pre-frozen if you want to speed things up!) and mix in the cream and alcohol. I added mine a bit at a time and taste tested to make sure I didn’t add too much. Also if you go overboard, the ice cream won’t freeze, so be careful!
Chill (or freeze if you are in a hurry) the mixture until completely cool. Churn in your ice cream maker until nice and thick. Transfer to a container and freeze for a few hours before serving.
Makes about half a litre.

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Classic Pavlova

First post in a little while, apologies, but I have pavlova to make up for it! Whenever most Kiwis are asked to make something traditionally ‘NZ’, I think this is what most people come up with. Yes, there is still a debate between whether it’s origins lie in NZ or in Aussie, but hey, maybe we can share….. this one has kiwifruit to add to the kiwi-ness however.
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This pavlova was made in France. In fact, the last 3 times I made pavlova, it was in France…. I think it is safe to say it was very much enjoyed. It’s a Christmas favourite, due to the colours and the fact that it is much more summery than a Christmas pudding. My lovely French host sister described it as ‘tres beau’ and ‘like eating a cloud’! We made it again the next week.
It’s very easy too, and is a good way to use up egg whites! It is supposed to have corn flour in it to help with the texture but alas there was none; it still worked out great though!

Classic Pavlova
Ingredients:
4 egg whites, at room temperature
1 cup castor sugar
To decorate:
300ml whipping cream
Fresh fruit, such as kiwifruit and strawberries, chopped

Instructions:
Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper and preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
In a clean bowl, begin to whip the egg whites until bubbly. From then, add the sugar a tablespoon at a time and continue beating on high until stiff peaks are formed. Spread onto the tray into the desired shape.
TURN DOWN THE OVEN to 100 degrees Celsius and put in the pavlova. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, until the crust is hard, but be careful not to brown it! Remove from the oven and cool completely.
To finish off, whip the cream until stiff peaks form and spread over the pavlova. Arrange the fruit on top. Done!
Serves 4-8
I would be careful not to put the cream on top more than a few hours before serving to make sure that the cream does not seep and ruin the nice crust on the outside. The dessert does keep well however, for a good few days in the fridge. This pavlova was made the day before and decorated on the day, and was delicious.

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Enjoy this wee slice of NZ and have a great day 🙂

Angel Food Cake

Ah, what to do with egg whites? Either you have them, and cannot think of a way to use them up, or have a recipe that calls for too many and you end up with egg yolks for Africa…. Not this time! Thanks to a lovely meal of carbonara with penne liche (you can’t find penne liche in New Zealand, only the ones with ribbing, so this was a special occasion) I had the means to finally tick Angel Food Cake off the baking to-do list.
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This recipe only uses 5 whites, where as most recipes I found use at least 10, so it was a good thing that the tin I borrowed was small. Next time I would add a bit less sugar, but a I have never tried an Angel Food cake before this, maybe that is how they are supposed to be, a bit sticky. And hey, omit the cream on top and there is little fat to be found! I was say this is great for dieters but…. just because there is not much fat doesn’t make it healthy, let’ be honest.
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None the less it was delicious, and I am glad to have finally made it. When I think of the cake I am reminded of Woodstock and his little gang from Peanuts Comics for some reason, I think he or one of the other little birds has an obsession with Angel Food Cake with Seven Minute Frosting….

Angel Food Cake

Ingredients:
5 egg whites
½ tsp white vinegar
½ cup sugar
+1/2 cup flour and ¼ cup sugar

To serve:
Whipped cream
Berries, fresh or defrosted

Instructions:
Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius. DON’T grease the pan! I used a 10cm deep, 25cm diameter ring/Angel Food cake pan.
Whip the egg whites with the vinegar until soft peaks form. Add the first lot of sugar gradually and whip until stiff peaks form. Mix the flour and second lot of sugar together. Fold into the egg whites, gently, until combined. Spread evenly into the cake tin. Bake for about half an hour, until lightly golden brown on top. Remove from the oven and cool the tin upside down.
When cool, use a knife to loosen the cake and flip it onto a plate. Spoon the whipped cream on top and decorate with berries. Serve.
Makes about 12 slices as big as the ones in the photos!

It’s that easy. I forgot how easy it would be to just whip egg whites and fold in flour, but I won’t complain!