Celebrating The Chow Down with Cake Batter Puppy Chow!

Sprinkles! Sugar! White Chocolate! It’s time to celebrate with some Cake Batter Puppy Chow! Sweet, crunchy, and over the top delicious – and it’s gluten free too!

Cake Batter Puppy Chow | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeThis is one of the most festive recipes I’ve ever made! Look at those sprinkles! And I’m in a festive mood today because we are celebrating my friend Lynn’s cookbook: ‘The Chow Down’. Lynn is the owner, baker, photographer, recipe writer, and general awesomeness-maker behind the wonderful blog Fresh April Flours. Her first book is filled with over 20 puppy chow recipes for every occasion – and I can’t wait to try them all! ‘The Chow Down’ is currently available for pre-sale (get your copy today) and will be officially released on June 1st. If you head over to Fresh April Flours today you can buy the book, or enter Lynn’s giveaway competition – and see her first video!

Cake Batter Puppy Chow | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeBecause Lynn is such an amazing lady a few of us have come together to throw her a little blog party featuring our own interpretations of her famous Cake Batter Puppy Chow! Leah from Grain Changer has created red, white, and blue Patriotic Cake Batter Puppy Chow ahead of the US Memorial Day Holiday; and Cate from Chez Catey Lou used her Cake Batter Puppy Chow as a crunchy sweet topping for chocolate ice cream.

And me, well I’ve chosen to enjoy this dessert – breakfast hybrid in the ultimate dessert-breakfast way. Piled into delicious little bowls and topped with ice cold milk. Oh yeah – brea-ssert.

Cake Batter Puppy Chow | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeAnd this little treat is so dangerously easy to make. Following Lynn’s recipe I used a crunchy, plain cereal (I couldn’t get Chex here in Australia so I used this gluten free cereal from Freedom Foods). The cereal is coated in a mix of melted white chocolate and butter, vanilla and almond essences, sprinkles, and a dusting of sweet powdered icing sugar. The result: the most moreish, nibbleish, can’t-stop-won’t-stop snack-dessert I’ve ever tried. So easy, so popular at parties, and so customisable too! I can’t wait to make a Christmas-themed batch later this year!

Lynn, my sweet friend, congratulations on the launch of your first book. You have worked so hard to make this dream come true, and we are all so happy for you! Dear readers, head over to Fresh April Flours today to enter Lynn’s Giveaway, watch her video, and BUY a copy of her delicious book!

Cake Batter Puppy Chow | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeCake Batter Puppy Chow

Gluten Free | Makes about 5 cups | Store leftovers in an airtight container at temperature for up to a week.

Note: use good eating white chocolate not chocolate chips because you need a smooth, consistent melt.

Try different colours/shapes of sprinkles for different occasions! Make this recipe your own!

Ingredients

  • 4 1/2 cups gluten free cereal (like this)
  • 4 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
  • 250 grams white chocolate
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup sprinkles
  • 1 cup gluten free icing sugar
  • Milk, to serve, if desired

Method

  1. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with baking paper or aluminium foil. Set aside until required. Also ready a large, lidded container.
  2. Measure cereal into a large bowl and set aside.
  3. Place butter, white chocolate, almond extract, and vanilla extract into a small saucepan. Melted butter and chocolate over a low heat, constantly stirring, until smooth. Once the mix is smooth remove from heat.
  4. Pour chocolate over cereal and mix carefully until cereal is coated.
  5. Put coated cereal into lidded container along with sprinkles. Tightly close lid and shake gently, but thoroughly, until the sprinkles are mixed completely throughout the cereal.
  6. Add icing sugar and put the lid on, shake to coat.
  7. Spread puppy chow over the prepared baking sheet and allow to cool completely.
  8. Enjoy! Serve as a sweet treat snack, or pour ice cold milk over and enjoy as a special breakfast or dessert!

Cake Batter Puppy Chow | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Raspberry and Coconut Loaf (gluten free)

Chris and I are going away later this week. We are not travelling far, nor for very long, but we are taking a break and getting out of town. We need some time away from our respective offices, ringing phones, and schedules. Some time just to walk on the beach, lie about with a book, and snooze in the midday sunshine. We are lucky enough to be able to go up to the Sunshine Coast and spend a few days there in a midwinter recharge before we come back and finish off our holidays with a few days of stay-cation.

Usually when I have a few days of holiday I set myself lofty goals to achieve, and I end up stressing myself out when I don’t achieve them all. This time I am setting myself only one goal: take each day as it comes and treat each one as a gift. I am going for low stress, high relaxation reward and maximum time in the winter sunshine.

Raspberry and Coconut Loaf | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

I baked this loaf last Friday night while I was home alone rattling around in the kitchen listening to podcasts. Jess and I enjoyed thick slices with our warm beverages on Saturday morning at the markets and the rest of the loaf is tightly wrapped and waiting in the freezer for slow, lazy holiday breakfasts where I have time to linger with a book and a whole pot of tea to myself. I might even pack a slice or two to nibble when I get back from a morning beach walk. It feels like a holiday bread: coconut and fruit always remind me of waving palm trees and cool waves lapping against the sand.

Raspberry and Coconut Loaf | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

The coconut in this cake is subtle but layered. Coconut milk, coconut essence, coconut flour, and toasted shredded coconut are all featured and the creamy sweetness is paired with slightly tart raspberries in a breakfast bread that is not too sweet. The crumb is fluffy from the presence of the coconut milk and coconut flour, the top of the bread is browned and sweet like all good crusts should be. Each bite is filled with strands of toasted coconut that lend a little crunch. It pairs perfectly with a cappuccino, or a pot of Irish breakfast tea. This is a quickly made quick bread too. I whisked the ingredients together in about 15 minutes and the largest amount of time was taken up by the baking, which the oven took care of while I put my feet up and started a new book.

Raspberry and Coconut Loaf | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

A few notes before baking: this loaf is gluten free, so that everyone in my house (especially me) can enjoy a slice. If you do not require it to be gluten free you can always use 280 grams (about two cups) of plain flour in place of the brown rice flour, white rice flour, and almond meal. I would not suggest replacing the coconut flour as it is important to the texture and flour of the loaf. Coconut flour is becoming easier to find now too. You can buy it from health food stores, and recently I discovered two different brands in my local supermarket. If you are using frozen raspberries do not thaw them before adding them to the mixture. When thawed they are very fragile and break up easily, which will discolour your batter. You can buy pre-toasted coconut strands in the supermarket, but I save my money and toast my own. Simply spread out onto a cookie sheet and toast in the oven as it preheats. Shake every minute or two to ensure the coconut colours evenly. Toast until most strands are changed from white to a light tan. Remove from oven and allow to cool until required. Now, I think you’re ready to get into the baking!

Raspberry and Coconut Loaf | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Raspberry and Coconut Loaf

Gluten Free | Makes 8-10 slices | Will keep at room temperature in an airtight container for up to three days | Freeze well-wrapped for up to two months

Ingredients

  • 100 grams brown rice flour + 1 tablespoon extra
  • 80 grams white rice flour
  • 100 grams almond meal
  • 60 grams coconut flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup light coconut milk (not coconut cream)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 2 tablespoons rice bran oil (or other flavourless vegetable oil)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 1 teaspoon coconut essence
  • 2/3 cup toasted shredded coconut
  • 1 1/2 cups raspberries fresh or frozen (not thawed)

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C (350F). Butter and line a 9 x 5 inch loaf tin. Set aside until required.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together brown rice flour, white rice flour, almond meal, coconut flour, salt, and baking powder.
  3. Reserve 1 tablespoon of coconut to top the bread and whisk the remainder through the dry ingredients.
  4. In a separate medium mixing bowl whisk together milk, coconut milk, eggs, caster sugar, rice bran oil, vanilla essence, and coconut essence. Whisk until well combined.
  5. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
  6. In a small bowl combine raspberries and extra tablespoon of brown rice flour. Shake until all berries are covered. This will stop them from sinking in the batter.
  7. Gently stir berries into batter. Take care not to break them up too much.
  8. Pour batter into prepared tin and smooth top slightly. Sprinkle reserved coconut across top.
  9. Place in oven and bake for 50-60 minutes or until a wooden skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  10. Remove loaf from oven and allow to cool in tin for 10 minutes before removing and allowing to cool on a rack before slicing.

Raspberry and Coconut Loaf | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Breakfast Bread

Now that I live out of home (yes, I am a late bloomer) I look forward to sleepovers at my parent’s house (still home in my mind) all the more. I look forward to snuggling in my bed, which is temporarily housed there until we move into our new home. On Saturday mornings, especially in late autumn, I look forward to rugging up in a jumper or two and heading out to the farmer’s markets with Mum and Jess for breakfast and lady talk. We have been market regulars for nearly five years now and we are firmly settled into our routine: Mum gets the newspapers and finds a table, Jess gets her giant bucket of tea from the Dutch pancake people, and I line up for Mum’s and my cappuccinos. Then we all congregate around the table Mum has found and share stories of our week, problem solve any issues that are pending in our lives, and eat something to fortify us before we forage. Mum is a free spirit and wanders off to try something new for breakfast every week while Jess and I tend to eat something that I have baked and brought from home. On the menu this week is this soft banana, peanut butter and mixed fruit enhanced Breakfast Bread.

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I baked this loaf late last night and wrapped it up safely this morning for its journey home. It feels like a breakfast bread, peanut butter, bananas, and dried fruit; the weight and heft of the slices call for chilled morning air and cold hands wrapped around a warm beverage. Quick breads take very well to being made gluten free and this one is moist and soft. No worry about dry crumbly bread here with bananas, eggs, peanut butter and almond meal in the mix. The overripe mashed bananas are the backbone of the sweetness in this loaf, with a touch more being added by the brown sugar. There’s the goodness of crunchy peanut butter in there and if you toast a slice of this and slather some extra peanut butter on there you might just find nirvana. I love a good dried fruit mix especially in dense sweet breakfast bread like this, but if you don’t (like Mum) you can leave it out, or swap it for the same amount of chocolate chips. This bread, if made on a Friday night or Saturday morning will see you all the way through a late autumn weekend: with tea and butter for breakfast, a sneaky slice for morning tea, and then another to tide you over until dinner. A healthy snack for kids, who especially like the version with chocolate chips, or so I hear.

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Breakfast Bread

Gluten Free. Makes one 9 x 5 inch loaf. Around 8-10 slices.

Ingredients

  • 100 grams brown rice flour
  • 70 grams almond meal
  • 70 grams sorghum flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 large very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup crunchy peanut butter
  • 2/3 cup mixed dried fruit

 Method

  1.  Preheat your oven to 180C (350F) and line a 9 x 5 inch baking tin with baking paper.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together brown rice flour, almond meal, sorghum flour, salt, and baking powder.
  3. In a medium bowl whisk together milk, bananas, eggs, olive oil, vanilla extract, and brown sugar. Make sure there are no lumps of brown sugar hiding in your mix.
  4. Add peanut butter to the egg mixture and beat until smooth.
  5. Make a well in the centre of your dry ingredients and add wet ingredients. Stir until just combined.
  6. Gently stir in mixed dried fruit until distributed. Do not over mix.
  7. Spoon batter into prepared pan and smooth the top.
  8. Place in preheated oven and bake for 45 minutes to an hour. If it starts to brown too quickly cover the top with some aluminium foil.
  9. The bread is done when a wooden skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  10. Remove from oven. Allow to cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then remove and allow to cool on a rack.

Bread will keep in an airtight container for up to three days or sliced, wrapped and frozen for up to two months.

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Sprinkled Coconut Ice

I know a sweet recipe is good when my little sister, who is usually collected, healthy and wholesome about her diet, loses her control and eats two or three pieces in one fell swoop. When I was thinking about an Easter gift for Jess I knew that chocolate eggs wouldn’t be her style, and then I remembered her delight over the presence of coconut ice at a wedding we attended recently – I knew what I needed to make immediately.

Sprinkle Coconut Ice | Thoroughly Nourished Life | Gluten Free

Coconut Ice has been a tradition in our family for a long time. Every Christmas as part of our huge Christmas dessert spread there is a crystal plate filled with little pastel squares. The same at Easter, and most other family gatherings. I must admit that we usually purchase our coconut ice, but after making this batch for Jessica’s Easter present I don’t think we will be buying it any more. Coconut ice is easy to make, no pots, pans or oven required. Perfect for making with little kids, especially since they can get their hands dirty while kneading the mixture together (this appeals to big kids too). This colourful offering is an old-fashioned sort of treat, but whenever you bring a dish people can’t help but smile.

Sprinkle Coconut Ice | Thoroughly Nourished Life | Gluten Free

The hardest part about making coconut ice is waiting for it to set, and I am not ashamed to admit that I did nibble at a few stray crumbs after I had pressed the majority into the baking tin. (I did go for a run beforehand, balance people). The addition of sprinkles here is entirely extraneous to the flavour, but it certainly adds a festive element. You can leave them out, but when given the opportunity to use sprinkles I think one should always seize upon it. Also, I just happen to be in a sprinkle mood: Exhibit A, my cookies from last week. Jess’s eyes lit up with delight and the jar was soon opened and shared. The sprinkles weren’t extraneous at all, not when I saw Jess’s smile.

Sprinkle Coconut Ice | Thoroughly Nourished Life | Gluten Free

 

Sprinkled Coconut Ice

Gluten Free – Check that your icing sugar and sprinkles are gluten free. I use Dollar Sweets Bright Sprinkles because they are certified gluten free. 

Makes about 64 pieces (2.5cm square)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups icing sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups dessicated coconut
  • 1 x 390 gram can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 1/2 teaspoon coconut essence
  • 2 tablespoons milk (may be required)
  • 1/3 cup multicoloured sprinkles (see head note)
  • Pink food colouring

Method

  1. Line an 8-inch square cake tin or baking dish with baking paper.
  2. Sift icing sugar into a large bowl. Gently whisk in dessicated coconut.
  3. Add condensed milk, vanilla and coconut essence. Mix well until all dry ingredients are included. If your mixture is too dry and you can’t get everything to incorporate you may need milk. You may need to wet your hands and knead the coconut ice by hand.
  4. Divide coconut mixture in half. Knead sprinkles into one half. Colour the other half with pink food colouring to desired tint.
  5. Press sprinkled half into prepared tin/dish. I roll a flat sided glass across the top to banish my finger dents. Then press pink portion on top and roll glass across to flatten.
  6. Cover dish with cling wrap and place in refrigerator for three hours, or until set.
  7. When set remove from fridge and cut into small slices to serve. I cut mine into 2.5cm x 2.5cm.
  8. Coconut Ice will keep in fridge for up to three weeks.

This would make a lovely gift for Mother’s Day! Simply place in a jar and wrap with a big pink ribbon. This would definitely be welcomed by my Mum and Mormor.

Sprinkle Coconut Ice | Thoroughly Nourished Life | Gluten Free

Chocolate Chip Doughnuts with Chocolate Glaze (gluten free)

Baked doughnuts with chocolate chips, covered in a chocolate glaze and dipped in chocolate sprinkles. Welcome to your sweet saviour on a rainy Tuesday such as today.  Is there anything better on a grey sky day than something warm straight from the oven? Just the memory of these cakey, vanilla scented, chocolate glazed gems transports me back to my arm chair where I am wearing fuzzy socks (with shorts, this is still Queensland), reading a great book, and drinking a warm cup of tea. Despite the fact that I am currently wearing high heels, reading emails and contracts, and drinking a mostly warm cup of tea (well, at least I got the last part!).

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Is there anything better than an easy sweet treat on a rainy day? And the first day back at school for Australian kids too – these would be a perfect after-school treat or baking project. If you can measure, whisk, and stir then you can have the scent of vanilla doughnuts wafting through your house in about fifteen minutes without the mess (and extra fat) of their deep-fried cousins. Although, if someone finds a gluten free deep-fried doughnut I will be happy to taste it – for posterity of course.

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I was very happy with the blend of gluten free flours in these doughnuts. The texture was perfect and none of the flours had an overpowering flavour that dominated the whole cake. The chocolate chips were a pleasant surprise and the glaze, well, what’s a doughnut without glaze? These little doughnuts also have a secret: they are quite low in fat. Shh – don’t tell Dad, he has the leftovers in his lunchbox today…

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Chocolate Chip Doughnuts  with Chocolate Glaze (gluten free)

Note: If you do nut require these doughnuts to be gluten free, you can replace the gluten free flours/meals (first five ingredients) with 240 grams plain flour. If you do not have a doughnut baking pan (I found mine here) you could use a well-oiled mini muffin pan. The number of doughnuts and the cooking time may vary slightly.

Makes approximately 20 mini doughnuts.

Ingredients

For the Doughnuts:

  • 50 grams sorghum flour
  • 50 grams almond meal
  • 50 grams buckwheat flour
  • 50 grams potato flour
  • 40 grams brown rice flour
  • 50 grams brown sugar
  • 50 grams caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 cup low fat milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla essence
  • 1/4 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 2 teaspoons cornflour (ensure this is gluten free)

For the glaze:

  • 1 and 1/2 cups icing (confectioner’s) sugar
  • 2 heaped tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 3-4 tablespoons milk
  • Chocolate sprinkles to finish

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C (350F) and thoroughly grease two twelve-hole miniature doughnut pans.
  2. In a medium bowl whisk together sorghum flour, almond meal, buckwheat flour, potato flour, and brown rice flour. When these are well combined whisk in both sugars, salt, and baking powder.
  3. In a separate medium bowl whisk together milk, eggs, butter, and vanilla.
  4. Whisk wet ingredients into dry ingredients until well combined. This is a very wet, thin batter, but don’t worry it will rise into puffy cakey doughnuts when baked.
  5. Toss chocolate chips with cornflour and set aside for a moment.
  6. Measure two tablespoons of batter into the holes of the miniature doughnut pans. If you are using a mini muffin pan ensure each hole is only two-thirds full.
  7. Drop a few chocolate chips into each batter-filled hole. Bake in oven for 10-15 minutes or until the tops are lightly golden and spring back when gently pressed down.
  8. Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack. After five minutes turn the doughnuts out onto the cooling rack to cool completely before glazing.
  9. To make the glaze: In a wide shallow bowl, whisk together icing sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla, and three tablespoons of milk. The icing should be runny, but not too watery. If it is too thick add the extra tablespoon of milk.
  10. Shake sprinkles out onto a flat plate to make dunking easier.
  11. Dunk one side of each doughnut into the glaze ensuring an even coverage and then dunk into the sprinkles. Place on rack for icing to set. If it is too humid or hot you may wish to place the doughnuts on a plate in the refrigerator for the glaze to set.
  12. Keep stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for two – three days.

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Spirit of the Season Blondies

When I was little and the first of December rolled its way around to the front of the calendar I would feel a light fizzing begin in my chest. With each passing day of Advent the fizzing would grow larger and louder, until on Christmas Eve I would be as effervescent as a bottle of champagne. I didn’t really know what that fizzing meant as a little kid.

As I grew up I realised that the fizzing was the spirit of the season: the joy of Christmas time, the thought of spending time with my family, playing out in the sunshine every day, helping to decorate the Christmas tree and the rest of our home, watching friend’s and family’s faces as they gather round to open presents, and baking Christmas treats. The Christmas Spirit meant that a bubble existed around my own little world just for a few weeks, where nothing bad could happen, and everyone’s hearts were a little more open to the plight of others.

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Now I am grown and the spirit of the season is sometimes harder to capture. The last few weeks of the year can pass in a flurry of end-of-year deadlines, parties, and the constant barrage by the media counting down the shopping days left until Christmas.

This is why it is important to be present in the moment this season. It takes extra and effort and patience to be exactly where you are without worrying about the million other shiny distracting baubles on offer. For me, this is particularly important when I get to spend time with my friends and family. This is where I feel the spirit of the season the most.

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Recently my friends and I gathered at Casey’s house to celebrate the season with games on the grass, tacky Christmas t-shirts, cheap Secret Santa presents, and plenty of good food and wine.

I brought a summery salad and these Spirit of the Season Blondies. My friend Melissa took one bite and declared ‘they taste just like Christmas’. What a beautiful compliment, thanks Melissa.

The flavour of Christmas is captured in blondie form with the combination of Frangelico, spices, white chocolate and toasted hazelnuts. They make excellent gifts and will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator – if they last that long!

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Spirit of the Season Blondies (gluten free)

Makes one 9 x 12 inch pan of blondies. If you do not require these to be gluten free you can replace the buckwheat flour, hazelnut meal and brown rice flour with a total amount of 385 grams (2 ¾ cups) plain flour. If you or your family do not consume alcohol you can simply leave out the Frangelico.

Ingredients

  • 200 grams buckwheat flour
  • 100 grams hazelnut meal
  • 85 grams brown rice flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon cardamom
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 200 grams butter, softened
  • 1 cup (lightly packed) brown sugar
  • ½ cup caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons Frangelico liqueur
  • 1/3 cup golden syrup
  • 200 grams white chocolate chips
  • 100 grams shelled hazelnuts

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 160C (320F) and line a 9 x 12 inch baking pan with baking paper.
  2. Spread hazelnuts over a baking sheet and toast in preheated oven for 5-7 minutes or until fragrant and lightly browned. Remove from oven.  Allow to cool completely and then roughly chop. Set aside until needed.
  3. In a medium bowl whisk together the buckwheat flour, hazelnut meal, brown rice flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cardamom, and ginger until completely mixed and no lumps remain.
  4. In a large bowl beat together butter and both sugars with a handheld mixer until light and fluffy.
  5. Add eggs one at a time and scrape down bowl between additions.
  6. Measure in vanilla, Frangelico, and golden syrup and beat until well combined.
  7. On a low speed beat in flour and spice mixture.
  8. Stir in white chocolate and chopped hazelnuts with a wooden spoon.
  9. Spread mixture evenly into prepared pan and place in the oven.
  10. Bake for 30- 40 minutes, rotating every 10 minutes until a wooden skewer inserted into the middle comes out with only a few moist crumbs clinging to it.
  11. Once cooked remove from oven and allow to cool completely before chopping into squares.
  12. Serve to friends and enjoy.

Tell me, dear reader, how does the spirit of Christmas feel to you? How do you stay present at this time of year?

Spirit of the season - just chillin'

Spirit of the season – just chillin’

Honey Caramels

Let’s talk about hidden talents and honey caramels today. These are the things that make life interesting, they keep us from a truly linear progression and they are the spice in the curiousity cabinet of life. Firstly, hidden talents. I love when you think you know someone and then they turn around and completely surprise you. My little sister does an excellent Beyonce/Sasha Fierce impersonation – she unleashes her inner Amazon with amazing power for such a small person. Her Z-snap is almost as impressive as Chris’s (sorry for outing you honey…). My darling Casey can sing the American national anthem in cat (basically her ‘meowing’ to the tune of Star Spangled Banner) – it’s a sight to behold for sure. Then comes my friend Ricky – who knew that this man was a budding apiarist? (That’s a person who tends for bees by the way.) Ricky’s honey has become a huge hit in our house, and we are putting it on/into everything! Now that’s a hidden talent to admire.

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My hidden talents? Well there was a party trick that involved my tongue and musk sticks, but we don’t talk about my early twenties any more…let’s really just not go there. Now that I am a sophisticated (ahem) professional (ahem) lady (AHEM!) my hidden talent has become misreading recipes and rescuing them at the last minute to achieve something different and usually as pleasing as the original. These Honey Caramels were born of that hidden talent. Because messing up, when worded correctly, can be a hidden talent. It’s all in the marketing you see.

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The caramels start off with a smooth nutty flavour and then right at the end the honey shines through. They are welcomed eagerly with a cup of coffee after dinner and just as equally at place wrapped up in some pretty tissue paper and put into a tin as a Christmas present. Just remember to save a few for yourself…(my other hidden talent is hiding things, but you didn’t hear that from me).

Honey Caramels

This recipe was accidentally adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Australia, December 2013. Gluten free. Definitely NOT diabetic friendly.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 395 gram can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons glucose syrup (ensure this is made from corn)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • 200 grams white chocolate, chopped
  • Icing sugar, to dust, about 1/2 cup

Method

  1. Line an 8-inch square baking tin with baking paper and make a space in your fridge of the same size.
  2. Put sugar, sweetened condensed milk, honey, and glucose syrup into a heavy based saucepan. Place over a medium heat and stir until sugar dissolves and the mixture begins to boil. Keep stirring or your caramel will burn on the bottom. That is not good.
  3. When the mixture comes to the boil, lower the heat and continue stirring for about 15 minutes or until the caramel deepens in colour and thickens.
  4. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla bean paste and the white chocolate. Beat until melted and smooth. The mixture will start to thicken so work quickly!
  5. Spread caramel into the prepared baking tin and smooth the top. Allow to come to room temperature on the bench before placing in your pre-prepared space in the fridge. Cool until set. About 2-3 hours.
  6. Remove caramel slab from the fridge and cut into small squares. Dust with icing sugar so that the pieces don’t stick together too much.
  7. Serve, or store in the fridge until you gift them (or gobble them).

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Don’t mind if I do…

Salted Cashew and White Chocolate Cookies (gluten free)

Today is Saturday. I don’t think you can find a person in the world who doesn’t understand the fragile and fleeting beauty of a Saturday morning. More energetic than a Friday night when you are tired from working all week, and less worrisome than a Sunday afternoon when work looms large on the horizon. Saturday morning are one of my favourite times of the week. Saturday mornings mean the farmers markets with my mum and sister, Saturday mornings mean a long run when I am in training (such as at the moment), and after that run, Saturday mornings mean cookies.

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These cookies are a riff on the Chunky Dunkers that I made a few months ago. (And by made we all know that I mean that they barely made it out of the oven before I was double-fisting them and cursing my mouth for not being big enough to hold more than one bite at a time.)

The Salted Cashew and White Chocolate Cookies are slightly salted, in fact next time I make them I may bump the salt up to a whole teaspoon rather than a half just to get that extra little salty kick. The cashew butter is subtle but more pronounced once the cookies are cooled, and it makes the crumb oh so tender. And when that tender, salty dough meets salted cashews and creamy sweet white chocolate chunks your mouth explodes in a divine explosion of cookie goodness.

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Salted Cashew and White Chocolate Cookies (gluten free)

If you don’t need these to be gluten free you can use 250 grams of plain flour in place of the rice flour and buckwheat flour). 

Makes about 20 cookies.

Ingredients

  • 50 grams butter, softened
  • 60 grams cashew butter
  • 50 grams caster sugar
  • 125 grams brown sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla essence
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder (ensure this is gluten free)
  • 100 grams white rice flour
  • 150 grams buckwheat flour
  • 150 grams white chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup salted cashews, roughly chopped

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C (350F) and line two large cookie sheets with baking paper.
  2. In a large bowl beat butter, cashew butter, sugars, and vanilla until light and fluffy. I used a wooden spoon, but you can use a hand-held mixer instead.
  3. Add egg and milk and beat well.
  4. Sift in salt, baking powder, and flours. Stir until well combined.
  5. Mix in chocolate and nuts until evenly distributed.
  6. Scoop out mounds of dough with a soup spoon (or an ice cream scoop if you want extra-large cookies). Leave about 6 cm between cookies to allow for spreading.
  7. Bake for 12-15 minutes. Rotate halfway through cooking time.
  8. Remove from oven and allow cookies to cool completely before storing in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

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Sometimes the bribe of a cookie keeps my feet turning over in the last mile or two. Sometimes the craving hits after I get home, but the cookie can never be ignored. So go on, treat yourself. It’s the best way to start the weekend.

Tell me dear reader, how do you like to start your Saturday mornings? Anything special that you look forward to all week?