It’s been so invigorating having my cooking mojo back but let’s face it, cooking dinners tends to focus on the functional in this house and I just had a hankering to make something requiring a bit of technical skill and that was a little bit fancy.
I was rearranging my cookbook bookshelf and the June July copy of Donna Hay fell out with this on the cover. I basically had to make it immediately. I swapped out the white chocolate for milk because it was all I had and the mousse probably didn’t set as well as it should have because I didn’t have enough whipped cream. I also used almond meal instead of hazelnut meal because it was what i had in the cupboard. But guess what, it was BLOODY DELICIOUS.
It’s not technically challenging, but there are steps and waiting/cooling times so go in with that knowledge.
Let it be known the pecan is the king of nuts. I won’t hear any battle cries from cashews or pistachios, the pecan has it. This recipe is based on an almond kilfi recipe but I had pecans and needed them in my guts in a baked form.
I do this all in the food processor which I view as a good thing because I’ll often avoid the processor if it’s for just one step of a recipe because it’s a bastard to wash up. See also: lazy.
Don’t over mix it, just until it all comes together. And don’t make them too big – this recipe should make 60, yes SIXTY, little crescents. Basically work with a little ball of dough about as big as your thumb to the first knuckle. If you make them too big they clag in your mouth rather than just dissolving on your tongue.
Delightful little shortbreads that just dissolve on your tongue
350g (2⅓ cups) plain flour
1 tblsp caster sugar
1 cup (or so) icing sugar
Preheat oven to 160C and have two baking trays ready to go
Blitz the pecans in a food processor
Add all the other ingredients except the icing sugar and blitz until it all comes together
Roll little half-thumb sized balls of dough into a little log then press in the middle to make into a crescent. Don't be precious about this, mine always end up looking more like little logs than crescents
Place on baking trays, they don't spread so you can put them quite close to each other
Bake for 30-40 minutes until they're light brown
When cool roll in the icing sugar (to be honest I never measure the icing sugar)
Store in a container and pour over a bit more icing sugar.
There was a time in high school we did a lamington drive to raise money for some charity. The organisation we were helping has long left my head but the memory of buying six dozen lamingtons under false names and eating them all myself has not. (See also: Bulimia).
I have banned myself from buying the Woolworths lamington fingers purely because I KNOW I could eat the entire packet. In one sitting. I never have, but the knowledge that I COULD is enough.
What is equally alarming is the fact they are STUPIDLY easy to make. Fiddly? Sure. Messy? My word. But an absolute snap all the same.
This recipe comes from my kitchen bible – Allan Campion & Michele Curtis’s In The Kitchen. I refer to this cookbook more than any other and every single thing I’ve made from it has always worked and been delicious. If you don’t own it, buy it.
1/2 cup caster sugar
2/3 cup plain flour
3 cups icing sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
3/4 cup water
4 cups dessicated coconut
Preheat oven to 180C and line a lamington tin with greaseproof paper and then grease it and dust with flour
Beat the eggs and caster sugar together until very thick and really pale in colour then gently fold in the flour
Pour into tin, smooth the batter and bake for about 10 minutes or until golden on top
Cool in the tin for a few minutes then lift out and peel off the baking paper. Cool completely
Put the icing sugar, cocoa and water in a saucepan and bring to the boil, whisking well
Reduce heat and simmer for a couple of minutes then remove from the heat and cool a little
Now get ready to get messy.
Set up a workstation with the cake cut into squares, then the chocolate sauce, then a wire rack and then a shallow dish holding the coconut and then another wire rack
Dip the sponge in the chocolate until all covered – I use to forks to turn the cake over in the mixture – then put onto the wire rack to let any excess drip off
Roll the pieces in the coconut then onto the final wire rack to dry.
When I was in primary school we lived on Sydney’s North Shore in a suburb called Lindfield. If we won lotto I would probably spontaneously start looking at houses in Lindfield such is my love of that place, nevermind it is 30 years later and it has changed more than I care to accept or that our lives are now firmly etched into Sydney’s Northern Beaches, Lindfield and indeed the North Shore calls me back time and time again.
We had a little row of shops just across from the train station. There was Mr Steenbolm’s chemist, our doctor down the laneway, an old lady’s dress shop, a milk bar (owned by the compulsory and seemingly only Greek family in the area) and best of all, the cake shop. Most Saturday’s mum would take my brother and I to the cake shop for a treat. Mine? A pineapple passionfruit tart while my brother used to get a sausage roll. My GOD those sausage rolls were good.
There was a glass L-shaped counter, one side taken up solely with display cakes for birthdays, anniversaries and other celebrations. Remember when you would get those little figurines to sit on the top of the cake? I still have the ballerinas and Mum still has the cricketers that appeared on our respective cakes for years.
The other side was a hotbed of mock cream and sugar. Neenish tarts, Pineapple Passionfruit tarts, those marzipan green frog tarts (which I once begged mum for and proceeded to scar me for life on all things marzipan), palmiers, meringue mice, big fat wedges of vanilla slice, custard tarts showered in nutmeg, gingerbread men and a sugar topped apple slice. I must confess that apple slice never piqued my imagination as there was so much else vying for my attention. But then Fiona at Inner Pickle posted a recipe for an apple slice and all of a sudden I was 8 and back in that cake shop.
This is now on such high rotation in our house that if there is none people, Jasper in particular, get antsy. It is his absolute favourite above all else. It has kicked my lemon curd slice to the curb and THAT is saying something.
Last week I met up with Mrs Woog and Beach Cottage and other lovely ladies at the park so the kids could go and play soccer with a creepy dad and other strangers. I took some of these tasty little numbers with me and Mrs Woog has been asking for the recipe (or me to drop more into her which school holidays has made near impossible).
The recipe comes from my mother-in-law and I’m not sure where it comes from before her. You can make it as a cake, in which case you put half the batter in the tin, cover with the streusel, add the rest of the batter and then top with the rest of the streusel. But there’s something about them as cupcakes – little mouthfuls of contentment.
This recipe can be halved to make one 24cm cake. I’m not sure how many cupcakes it’d make as I always do double. This makes I’ve made the cupcakes two ways – one where I’ve put some batter in the patty pan then streusel then batter then streusel but it’s fiddly and annoying. My advice is to top with a heaped dessert spoon of the streusel and then – oh so delicately (not) – smoosh it in to the batter. (The picture below however is when I did the former rather than the latter) I haven’t doubled the streusel topping as when I did it made LOADS too much – it’d be find if you were making a cake but as cupcakes you don’t need as much.
Sour Cream Streusel Cake
1 cup sugar
2 cups plain flour
1tsp baking powder
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup nuts (I’ve used mixed nuts, pecans and pistachios. I’ve chopped them up in a processor or chopped them roughly. Basically do whatever floats your boat.)
Preheat oven to 180C and line patty pans with liners (it will make 15-18)
Put all the ingredients for the cake in a food processor and blend until smooth and pale.
Combine the streusel ingredients
Place a heaped dessert spoon in your patty pan liners, top with a heaped spoon of streusel and smoosh into the batter a bit.