Saturday, 31 August 2013

Holiday baking

I'd like to write about all of the baking I did on our recent winter getaway to the beautiful NSW north coast, but I was practising oven avoidance and did absolutely none.

Instead, I spent a blissful week watching whales and dolphins from the balcony of our little shack (yes that's cheek) on Salt Beach in Kingscliff, building sandcastles and teaching my big boy how to ride his first bike.

We had a beautiful and fun birthday lunch for Mum at Fins and a just-because-we-want-to lunch at Harvest and I found another gem for The Breakfast Club, Mockingbird, in Kingscliff. I am craving their house cured salmon with beetroot and cornbread, and their chilli eggs.

If I was inclined to do any baking in the fabulous kitchen, it would have been of the cookie variety. So now that I'm back into the swing of things at home, here is a recipe for delicious white chocolate and cranberry cookies. 

Perfect for lazy Spring Sunday afternoons and hungry Daddies. Happy Father's Day to all the dads, Mr LP especially xxx

White Chocolate and Cranberry Cookies
(Makes appx 12- 16)

125g butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
120g dried cranberries
200g white chocolate, chopped

Preheat oven to 180C. Line two baking trays with non-stick baking paper.
Cream butter, sugar and vanilla in bowl of an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
Add the egg and beat until combined. Stir in the flour and baking powder, followed by the cranberries and white chocolate.
Roll spoonfuls of the mixture into balls and place on the baking trays, leaving room for spreading.
Press each cookie with a fork to flatten slightly.
Bake for 15 minutes or until light golden.
Cool on trays. Store in an airtight container for up to one week.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

No Ordinary Caramel Slice

If the humble caramel slice was to undergo an extreme makeover, I imagine the after photos would look something like this.

Why toy with what is already perfect in its own sticky, chocolatey way? Well, it was the wish of my eight-year-old niece that I take her favourite cafe treat and gussy it up into a birthday cake pretty enough to be the centrepiece of her high tea themed party.

It's not the only time I've been asked to make a caramel slice cake. The first was for a wedding. A couple ordered 80 pieces of caramel slice and a large round "cake" to cut at their reception earlier this year. Hey, what the bride wants, the bride gets in my book. I was just happy the couple liked my slice enough to want it as part of their big day.

A wedding is a big deal. It required practice, so Mr LP was the first to get one for his birthday cake. He liked it well enough and word my niece.

It usually looks like this, cut smooth on my bench with not a spare crumb of dangerous toffee goodness to corrupt me, ready to be boxed. And it is in this form that it is loved by my family and friends, so this is how I will share the recipe. It's rich, so cut it small. Then you won't feel so bad when you can't stop at one.

Caramel Slice
(Makes 16 medium squares)

80g butter, melted
2/3 cup self-raising flour
2/3 cup desiccated coconut
1/3 cup caster sugar

125g butter
125g brown sugar
395g can sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons golden syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

100g milk chocolate, broken into pieces
100g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
25g copha

Preheat oven to 180C.
Grease a 22cm square baking tin and line with non-stick baking paper, leaving a 2cm overlap on each edge. 
For the base, mix together the dry ingredients with the melted butter. Press into prepared tin with the back of a spoon until smooth and even. Bake for 10 mins.
For filling, stir all ingredients in a medium sized heavy based saucepan over a medium heat until simmering. Turn heat to low and stir, simmering, for appx five minutes until deep golden.
Pour on top of baked base and return to the oven for 10-12 mins or until golden brown.
Cool completely in tin.
For the topping, melt together both chocolates and copha over a saucepan of simmering water and stir until smooth. Cool for at least five mins before pouring over the filling. Place in the fridge to set for at least two hours, preferably overnight. Lift out of the tin by taking hold of the baking paper overhanging each edge and pull up. Loosen with a knife if the corners are a bit stuck, but it should lift out easily. 
The best way to cut it into squares is by dipping a large knife into a jug of hot water and then wiping the blade carefully with paper towel, or a clean tea towel, before slicing.