Friday Food: Lemon Cheesecake Pavlova

Lemon cheese cake pavFrankenstein desserts are all the go, and while I am not always a fan, I thought the combination of pavlova and lemon cheesecake sounded delicious. This was the cover recipe on the September issue of Taste Magazine, but you can find it online here now. The pavlova needs to be made the day before and cooled overnight in the oven and then the cheesecake added on top and the dessert refrigerated for at least 3 hours. In truth, you could easily serve this as a frozen dessert, which would have circumvented my problem- read on.....

I found the recipe annoying because it doesn't separate the sugar into two parts: one for the pavlova and one for the berries. I had measured it out could not be bothered doing it again, so I just made a 4 egg pavlova and had some extra small pavlovas. The recipe also lumps the toppings in with the general ingredients. I have separated them into better categories. I know I am supposed to read the whole recipe, but I just expect it will be organised the way I like!!!

I used fresh local strawberries instead of raspberries. The raspberries are either frozen, imported from overseas countries where they don't have strict food laws, or unbelievably expensive right now. MrsDrWho and MrsReno said strawberries were fine. I used posh lemon curd from the supermarket, and I added the zest of the lemon I juiced to the cheesecake, because I don't think you can have too much lemon really.

Although I followed the recipe faithfully and accurately, and refrigerated it for 6 hours, the cheesecake portion didn't "set" and oozed over the sides of the pavlova when I removed it from the tin. It still tasted the same, but didn't look spectacular at all. I didn't bother with the white chocolate decorations as this recipe involved many steps, and I was tired by the time it was in the fridge. You can refer the the recipe online for the instructions.

Good and not so good


Lemon Cheesecake Pavlova       serves 8-10

For the Pavlova:

  • 3 eggwhites at room temperature
  • 190g caster sugar
  • 1 tspn cornflour
  • 1/2 tspn white or cider vinegar. I have used malt at a pinch.


For the Cheesecake:

  • 25og Philly cream cheese, full fat, at room temperature
  • 70g caster sugar
  • 40ml (2 tbspn) fresh lemon juice and the zest
  • 2 tspn gelatine powder
  • 40ml warm water
  • 300ml thickened cream
  • 145g (1/2 cup) lemon curd


For the topping:

  • 250g frozen raspberries or fresh strawberries
  • 70g caster sugar
  • 2 passionfruit, or a tin of passionfruit
  • 185ml double cream
  • 125ml thickened cream


Make the pavlova first. Line a 12 x 27cm loaf tin with baking paper and preheat the oven to 120*C/100*C fan-forced.

Whisk eggwhites

I always wipe the metal mixer bowl and the beaters with some lemon juice or vinegar and it is vital that there is not a skerrick of egg yolk or the whites won't whip properly. Whip the eggs until they are just holding their shape and then add the sugar a tablespoon at a time. It generally takes about 10-15 minutes to properly incorporate the sugar. The eggs are ready when you rub a little bit of the mixture between your finer and you can't feel a single grain of sugar: it is smooth and glossy.

Add sugar, cornflour, vinegar

Spoon into the tin and smooth the top and bake for 1 1/2 hours.

Bake pavlova

Turn the oven off and leave it to cool overnight. If needs be, you could make the pavlova early in the morning on the day you want the dessert.


Before you start making the cheesecake part, put the the warm water in a small heatproof bowl or glass and sprinkle over the gelatine. Place this bowl/glass into a larger heatproof bowl and pour in boiling water until it comes half way up the sides of the smaller bowl/glass. Stir every minute for about 5 minutes until the gelatine is totally dissolved. Set aside until it is at room temperature.

Creamcheese lemon

Meanwhile beat the room temperature cream cheese with the sugar until it is smooth. Add the lemon juice/zest and beat briefly to combine and then finally beat in the cooled gelatine mixture.

Add lemon add gelatine

In a new bowl, whisk the thickened cream until it soft peaks form. Fold in about 1/3 of the cream cheese mixture and then add the rest. Fold gently to combine. Swirl through the lemon curd. The idea is that you will see the swirls of curd in the finished cheesecake.


Spoon onto the pavlova, even out the top and then cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

Layer cheesecake on pavlova

Prepare the berries by defrosting them if they are frozen, and blending them with the sugar. You could also push them through a sieve. I don't mind the pips in berries, and there is passionfruit, which is basically pips anyway. Whip the creams till soft peaks form and then assemble the dessert.


Gently remove the dessert from the tin, spoon on the cream and pour over the berry sauce and passionfruit. You can add some extra berries and white chocolate shapes too. I chose to put a slice of the sad squished dessert on a plate and then added the cream and fruit on top. I wish you better luck than I had with the gelatine setting, but be assured the taste was not affected at all. I think this would be a fabulous frozen dessert for Summer, especially as it can be made beforehand and served whenever you want.

Lemon cheesecake pavlova

Friday Food: Bacon Wrapped Asparagus

Asparagus bacon rollsI don't have The Facebook, so on The Internet I have to peer above a big opaque box that obscures half the screen. In the gap on Tastemade Facebook I saw something delicious: bacon wrapped asparagus. Yum. Asparagus is plentiful and cheap now and to take advantage I went ahead and made three batches of this recipe. I made the first two with normal sized asparagus spears. I not only cut off the woody ends, I also shaved the bottom third of the skin away. I used teeny tiny asparagus spears for the third batch and though they were cute, there was a low asparagus to bacon and puff pastry ratio. I would stick to the ordinary sized asparagus from now on.

I found that the asparagus rolls worked best with only half the puff pastry and half the streaky part of the bacon. I don't call the "not eye" part of the bacon anything, but I have seen it in the deli with a "streaky bacon" label.  I didn't have any Parmesan cheese and so my rolls have none.

If I was up to it, I would serve this with some roasted tomatoes and maybe some Hollandaise or cheesy sauce. I plan to make a fourth batch and take them to Sewing on Wednesday.


Bacon Wrapped Asparagus     makes 12


  • 12 spears of asparagus
  • 1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed
  • 6-12 rashers of streaky bacon
  • pepper
  • 1-2 tbspn wholegrain mustard
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1-2 tbspn Parmesan cheese, finely grated


Preheat the oven to 230*C and line a tray with baking paper. I put the tray in the oven as it heats up so the puff pastry hits the very hot tray and starts to puff up more quickly. Or at least this is what I choose to believe.


Prepare the asparagus by cutting off any woody stems and if it is thick, peel the darker green skin off the ends. Cut the thawed puff pastry into 12 thin strips and create 12 long thin pieces of streaky bacon about the same length as the puff pastry.

And roll

Layer a strip of bacon overlapping slightly the puff pastry and twist on lots of freshly ground black pepper. I found the best way to cover the asparagus was to wrap the beginning across to the right and kind of seal the pastry together, and then bring the long end and spiral around to the left. 

One bacon wrapped asparagus

But of course do whatever works for you, I pinched the ends together.

Lay the wrapped asparagus onto the tray, spread on some mustard and then brush with the beaten egg. I did half with, and half without, mustard. This is where you would add the Parmesan cheese.

Brush mustard bake

Bake for 15 -17 minutes. I turned the tray after 10 minutes. They took 17 minutes to bake. They are ready when the pastry is a deep golden brown and crisp. You can cool on the tray and serve warm or cold, or piping hot. I like them every way!!!

Bacon wrapped asparagus

Friday Food: Strawberries & Cream Cupcakes

Berries mixed inAt last, here are the cupcakes from what seems so long ago. Right now strawberries are stupidly cheap and so I have made three batches of these cupcakes to take advantage of the fresh berries. This recipe is from the YouTube video channel The Scran Line. Nick has so many new and unusual cupcake ideas that I could just work my way through them all year. I don't think I am as inclined to use tall buttercream frostings, as they are difficult to transport sometimes, and I tend to prefer more cake than frosting.

His method is a little different, but the cupcakes are delicious and it makes at least 24, which is a huge batch. You can definitely halve the recipe and I have done that very successfully. The recipe says to put the diced strawberries into the base of the paper case and then scoop the batter on top. I decided that I liked the berries to be mixed in, as when I removed the paper cases after the cupcakes were baked, there was a squooshy strawberry base and some of the berries stuck to the paper. You can choose whichever method you like. These will keep for about 2 days in the fridge, but they are best eaten soon after they are baked and I piped on the cream and decorated them just before they were eaten. I found freeze dried strawberries in the baking section and if you can't find them, I also used some extra finely diced berries and some fancy pink sprinkles.


Strawberries &  Cream Cupcakes     makes 24

  • 429g plain flour
  • 3 tspn baking powder
  • 165g caster sugar
  • 1/2 tspn salt
  • 375ml milk
  • 125ml vegetable oil
  • 125g butter, softened
  • 2 tbspn (40ml) Greek yoghurt
  • 1 tspn vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 punnets strawberries
  • 2-4 tbspn (40-80ml) strawberry jam
  • 2-4 drops red food colouring


To decorate:

  • 600ml whipping cream, very cold
  • 1 tspn vanilla extract
  • 1 tspn caster sugar, if you like
  • freeze dried strawberries
  • fresh strawberries, finely diced
  • fancy pink sprinkles


Preheat the oven to 180*C or 160*C fan-forced. Line your muffin trays with paper cases. Prepare your berries by washing and hulling them and then chop into a fine dice, about 1/2cm. 

Dry and wet

Put the dry ingredients into the mixer bowl and mix on the lowest speed for about 2 minutes. Then add the softened butter and again mix on a low speed until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

Combine the wet ingredients: milk, oil, eggs, yoghurt and vanilla, in a container, and whisk together. with the mixer on low, slowly pour the wet ingredients into the dry and beat until they are fully combined. Scrape down the bowl to check for any dry ingredients left, and then mix for a final 20 seconds.

Mix and colour

At this point you should fold in the jam and food colouring, if you are using it. The recipe says to put about 2 tbspn of the chopped strawberries into the base of the paper cases and then I always use an ice-cream scoop to measure out the batter evenly.

And berries

When I used this method I found the cupcakes had the dreaded Mary Berry "soggy bottom".

Berries in the base

So instead I folded the strawberries in along with the jam and food colouring and then just put one scoop of the batter into the paper cases.

Mixing the berries in

Bake for 25-30 minutes.

Fill and bake

I always swap and rotate my trays half way through. Leave the cupcakes in the tin for just a few minutes so they are easier to handle and then cool completely on a rack. Once they are cold, place in an airtight container and maybe in the fridge if the climate is warm and you are not eating them until the next day.

Cupcakes and cream

When you are ready to serve, whip the cream (and vanilla and sugar if you like)  until stiff peaks form, and then pipe or spoon the cream onto the top of each cake and top with the freeze dried berries. I put a little bowl of each topping next to the cupcakes and then people could choose one, or all, of the toppings!!!

Strawberry and cream cupcake

Thank you Nick for a marvellous recipe, and as a bonus, I can eat these cupcakes as they have no chocolate, orange, grapefruit or coffee.

Friday Food: Bacon and Pea Slice

Bacon and pea sliceI really have no recollection why I put most books I request from The Library on Hold.  I can't remember where I saw, or heard about, them. They just appear, as if by magic, on my shelf in The Library. The Mama Bake Book is one such Hold, and it makes me wish I had a passel of children to feed, because it is an excellent meal planner. It is an Australian book, so it uses familiar measurements, ingredients and terms. It is organised into weekly menus to feed a family of four and has step by step preparation charts too. There are Slow Cooker, Vegan, Meat Free, Oven Bakes, I Don't Have Time To Cook , Budget, Pies, Toddlers, High Protein/Low Carb, Homemade Takeaway, Sickness Recovery and even Big Batch meals and sweets: Too many to mention.

MamaBake is "a baking community where mothers get together in their local neighbourhood to cook one big batch meal each and then share the dish with the others, resulting in everyone going home with a week's worth of freshly cooked homemade dinners." (MamaBake page 10) Since this is an ABC book, I think I probably heard about it on the radio.

I have already made a full batch of the Bacon and Zucchini Pea Slice for MrsDrWho to take for her school lunch, and today I made half a batch for me. I replaced the zucchini with peas, but I would also use broccolini, or carrot and celery too. I think it is a good vehicle for whatever vegetable you like, and tomato and pumpkin too, which are fruits. I bought some local bacon and I put it in the oven to crisp while the oven was preheating, so I saved a pan. I used Parmesan cheese and added some finely diced red onion, because I like onion. You can replace the plain flour and baking powder with 1 cup of self-raising flour too.

This slice is just so easy to make, and it keeps for a week in the fridge or a month in the freezer.


Bacon and Zucchini Pea Slice      makes 8 large or 16 small pieces

  • 6 rashers of bacon, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups of peas OR 4 zucchini, grated
  • 5 eggs, beaten
  • 100g tasty cheese, grated
  • 20ml olive oil and a little extra to fry the bacon
  • 150g plain flour
  • 2 tspn baking powder
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 180*C and if you want to save a pan, place the rashers of bacon on some baking paper on a tray while the oven heats up. In about 15 minutes it will be relatively crisp and ready to slice up. Grease and line a 20 x 30cm slice tin ready for baking.

Bacon bakin'

Otherwise, slice the bacon and fry in a little extra olive oil for five minutes until it is crispy and then drain on some paper towel.

Eggvengers assemble

Put the peas (zucchini), grated cheese and olive oil into a medium size bowl. I added the red onion here too. Mix together then add the eggs and finally the bacon, salt and pepper.

Come together, right now

When it is combined, add the flour and baking powder and mix well until the flour disappears.

And bake

Spoon the batter into the lined slice tin and press gently so it is level. Bake for 30-40 minutes. It is ready when the top is golden and mine came away from the sides of the pan.


Allow to cool completely and then cut into 8 or 16 pieces, or any combination you like. Refrigerate for a week or freeze for a month in airtight containers or freezer bags.

Lunchbox substitute

I don't have a lunch box, but if I did it would be green and contain a Granny Smith apple. This is my Twinings Earl Grey Tea tin!!!

Friday Food: Salted Caramel Ice-Cream Bombes

Bombe caramelThere is no baking at all in this recipe from Woolworths' Fresh Magazine 9/2016. And as a bonus for me, I can eat this dessert because I can have all the caramel I like. The ice-cream bombes can be prepared earlier and kept frozen before being whisked out at the last moment and served with a salted caramel sauce: a smear of sauce. I was able to buy the Woolworths' premium Gold brand salted caramel sauce, otherwise I would have made a salted caramel sauce: Nigella has an easy one here that doesn't require a thermometer.

I couldn't buy any toasted coconut flakes, I went to four supermarkets, so I used desiccated coconut. It didn't give the same effect visually, Caramel saucebut it tasted fine. I used Crunchie bars and chopped off the chocolate as there was no plain honeycomb. Of course you can leave the chocolate on if you prefer. I find it increasingly difficult to buy what I consider to be normal supermarket products. They are stocking fewer items and replacing them, sometimes, with their own range, if at all. I also couldn't buy the Salted Caramel Haagen-Dazs ice-cream in the recipe. It is apparently not stocked here, so I settled for their own brand. 

These were so easy to make, and easy to customise: maybe some raspberry ice-cream rolled in crushed Chocolate Ripple biscuits and a raspberry sauce, or Mint Cookies and Cream rolled in chopped up Mints Slice biscuits and a chocolate sauce. I think I could just be inspired by looking in the freezer at the shop!!

The recipe calls for a litre of ice-cream and makes 4 bombes. That's a cup of ice-cream each. I think I could stretch this easily to make 6 serves.



Salted Caramel Ice-cream Bombes      serves 4-6

  • 1 litre of salted caramel ice-cream
  • 1 cup crushed honeycomb - maybe 4 to 5 Crunchie bars (50g)
  • 1 cup toasted coconut flakes
  • 300g of salted caramel sauce
  • extra salt flakes for serving if you like


Icecream and tray

Prepare a metal tray, lined with baking paper and put it in the freezer. It will be nice and cold when you need it and help the ice-cream bombes to set more quickly. At the same time take the salted caramel ice-cream out of the freezer and allow it to soften a little. 

Prepare the honeycomb

Prepare the honeycomb if you don't need, or want, the chocolate.

Honeycomb the bombes

Mix the honeycomb with the toasted coconut flakes, if you have them. I chose to coat with the honeycomb first and then let the coconut fill any gaps. I used an ice-cream scoop to make my bombe shape. I dipped it into hot water and then wiped it clean each time before I scooped.

Bombes ready to freeze

Freeze for an hour. I found the bombes needed at least 2 hours to be properly set again. Smear some salted caramel sauce on each serving plate, heat it slightly if it is not runny enough, top with an ice-cream bombe and sprinkle on a little extra salt. I didn't really need the extra salt, but it looked nice!!!

Salted caramel bombe

Friday Food: Asparagus Cannelloni With Easy Cheesy Sauce

Asparagus cannelloniAnd we're back with Friday Food. This week I baked something savoury for a change. It is indeed easy and looks as if you have spent quite a lot of time preparing. This would make a fancy entrée or, could be served with some pan fried salmon with a lemony butter sauce. I did toy with using some broccolini, and I think it would be an excellent substitute, though I would lightly steam or microwave it. If I made this again I would do the same to the asparagus, or I would trim it much shorter. I always feel there is more than a little waste with the trimming of the asparagus spears. The edges of the fresh lasagne sheets were less than soft, but not terribly much. I think I should have covered more of the pasta with the sauce, though in the picture from Taste magazine's September issue, they didn't.

I bought fresh ricotta at the supermarket deli and my cottage cheese had spring onion and chives mixed through. I may have added a little extra Parmesan cheese, because I do love cheese. Cheese is my downfall.

It took me less than five minutes to prepare the easy cheesy sauce and wrap the asparagus and then just half an hour in the oven and it was ready to eat. I didn't have any capers, so I just left them out. This was very yummy and I ate mine topped with some chopped spring onions and a big squeeze of lemon juice. I made half the recipe and made 5 rolls.


Asparagus Cannelloni with Easy Cheesy Sauce     serves 4


  • 350g fresh ricotta cheese
  • 200g cottage cheese
  • 160ml milk
  • 2 tspn Dijon mustard
  • zest of a lemon
  • 40g Parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • 1/4 cup fresh chives/spring onion, finely chopped
  • 4 bunches of asparagus, trimmed
  • 40ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 8 small fresh lasagne sheets ( approx 12 x 15cm)
  • 1 tbsp baby capers
  • chopped chives/spring onions for serving
  • salt and pepper

NB an Australian tablespoon is, sensibly, 20ml or 4 teaspoons.


Preheat the oven to 200*c/180*C fan-forced and grease a 20 x 30cm baking dish with half the olive oil.

Easy cheesy sauce

Put the ricotta and cottage cheese, milk, Dijon mustard, lemon zest half the Parmesan in a blender. Blend till smooth and season to taste. Spoon half the easy cheesy sauce over the base of the baking dish.

Asparagus and roll

Toss the trimmed asparagus in the rest of the olive oil and season to taste. Roll three spears of asparagus in each sheet of lasagne. Carefully place in the baking dish, seam side down, and gently press into the sauce. It seems to help the rolls stay rolled. Continue, placing the rolls side by side.

Sauce and bake

When all the pasta and asparagus is exhausted, top the rolls with the rest of the easy cheesy sauce ( and in my mind I say this every time with gusto and amusement) and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan cheese and the capers. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the cheesy topping is golden. Sprinkle with extra chives/spring onions and you are done.

Asparagus cannelloni with easy cheesy sauce

Friday Food: Cherry Ripe Cupcakes

A ganache cherry ripe cupcakeAs I mentioned over a week ago, I was intending to bake the Cherry Ripe Cupcakes, from the August Taste magazine, for Sewing supper. I was struck down by a bug and so we all went to bed for three days and I ended up baking on Sunday. Although you can tizzy these up to the nth degree, the basic recipe is quick and easy, and they look nice with some, a bit, or all the extra embellishments. I found some fresh cherries at the supermarket, so I added those to lighten the richness. If you can find the Mini Oreos and freeze dried strawberries, that's great. I managed the Mini Oreos, but popped a fresh cherry on top as a replacement for the strawberries.

MrsDrWho, a seasoned cake aficionado, says that these are Very Rich and you may only be able to eat one fully embellished cake!!

I didn't take pictures of making the buttercream, I slightly lost the will to keep standing up, but there are lots of buttercream tutorials on The Internet. My ganache for drizzling was a tad too thick, but I just went ahead and drizzled thickly. I made half the recipe and, using my ice-cream scoop to fill the cupcake papers, it yielded 8 cakes.

I shall make these again, and decorate them simply, because they were so easy to make: melt and mix, and even just with a little ganache and a Cherry Ripe wedge, they look rather special.

Plainer cherry ripe cupcake

NB Sensibly, an Australian tablespoon is 20ml, or 4 x 5ml teaspoons.





Cherry Ripe Cupcakes      makes 12-16

  • 150g (1 cup) self-raising flour
  • 110g (1 cup) caster sugar
  • 45g (1/2 cup) desiccated coconut
  • 30g (1/4 cup) cocoa, I used Dutch processed
  • 150g (about 2/3 cup) butter, melted
  • 125ml (1/2 cup) coconut cream/milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 x 52g bars of Cherry Ripe, cut into 1cm pieces
  • optional, some fresh cherries, chopped

For the ganache:

  • 300g dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • 125ml (1/2 cup) thickened cream
  • 2 tbspn thickened cream extra

For the buttercream:

  • 375g butter, softened
  • 450g (3 cups) icing sugar mixture
  • 1 tbspn milk
  • 100g dark chocolate, melted and cooled
  • red food colouring

And extra decorations:

  • 1 packet of Mini Oreos
  • 3 x 52g Cherry Ripe bars cut into long triangular shapes
  • fresh cherries to pop on top



Pre-heat the oven to 180*C/160*C fan-forced and line a muffin tin with paper cases.

Dry ingredients

Place the flour, coconut, sugar and cocoa in a large bowl and whisk together.

Combine wet and dry

Combine the melted butter, eggs and coconut cream. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients in.

Mix, add extra yummy things

Add the Cherry Ripe pieces and fresh cherries, if you are using them, and then gently mix together until everything is well combined.


Scoop into the cupcake papers, I used an ice-cream scoop, and then bake for about 25 minutes, or until a skewer poked into the centre comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then move to a rack to cool completely.

I usually make my buttercream while the cakes are baking. Please use the clicky links at the top of the post for the method. I made the batch of buttercream and divided it in two, and then added melted chocolate to one half and red food colouring to the other. I then whisked each furiously to combine. Fill some piping bags with tips, or not, and set aside.

Ganache the top

Meanwhile make the chocolate ganache. Melt the chocolate and cream in the microwave in 30 second bursts, stirring well, until the chocolate is almost melted. Then stir till smooth. Allow to cool for 20 minutes until it thickens a little. Reserve 1/2 a cup and add to it the extra thickened cream. This will be for drizzling.

Spread the remaining ganache over the top of the cooled cupcakes.

Add buttercream

Pipe the chocolate buttercream onto each cupcake and then top with a pink buttercream swirl. Cut each Cherry Ripe bar into 4 wedges, 12 in all but be more judicious if you have 16 cupcakes, and poke one piece into each cake, artistically. Add a Mini Oreo on the other side to balance and then pop a cherry, or whatever you choose, on top. Finally, warm the remaining thinned ganache and drizzle over the cupcake.

Cherry ripe cupcakes

Un-iced/decorated these cupcakes can be stored in the fridge for 4-5 days or in the freezer in an airtight container. Once they are fully decorated they really should be eaten sooner, rather than later.

Ganache cherry ripe cupcakes

Friday Food: Salted Caramel Brownie

Slice of brownieThis brownie does not follow the recipe as written on the BBC GoodFood website, because I wasn't completely paying attention as I baked. Regardless, it worked out very well, all things considered.  Not only did I confuse the method, I also baked it in the wrong tin. It was not my best baking hour, but MrsDrWho and her mum pronounced it delicious. The recipe uses ingredients that are usually in my pantry and I just needed to buy some caramel in a tin, or Top'n'Fill as it is called here. The recipe calls for two different kinds of dark chocolate, I compromised with 100g of the 70% cocoa and then just some ordinary dark chocolate of unknown percentage. We can't buy golden caster sugar, so I substituted roughly 2/3 caster sugar and 1/3 light brown sugar.

I made a quick chocolate sauce from a runny ganache at the last moment, because my friends are like the Masterchef judges and love a dessert with a saucy addition!!!

There isn't much to add, I used a hand whisk and other than that there is just some melting and combining before you bake. In a warm climate I would store this in the fridge, but here in Winter it will keep for a week in an airtight container in the cupboard.


Salted Caramel Brownies     makes 16 pieces

  • 200g unsalted butter, cubed
  • 100g dark chocolate, 70% cocoa solids
  • 100g dark chocolate, 50% cocoa solids
  • 1 395g can of Top'n'Fill or other caramel
  • 1 tspn salt flakes, and a little extra for sprinkling
  • 140g caster sugar
  • 60g light brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 130g plain flour
  • 50g cocoa, I used Dutch processed


Preheat the oven to 180*C/160*C fan-forced and grease and line a 20cm square cake tin, sides and base.

Melting chocolate and butter

Break the chocolate into pieces and melt with the butter in the microwave in 30 second bursts. Stop melting just before all the chocolate is melted and then stir until smooth.

Caramel eggs sugar

Put half of the caramel, the salt, sugar and eggs into a large bowl and with a mixer, or hand whisk, beat until well combined. Whisk in the chocolate and butter mixture.

Add choc butter flour cocoa

Finally sift in the cocoa and plain flour and fold in until the batter is smooth and even.

Brownie base and caramel

Spread half the brownie batter into the base of the tin, then spread over an even layer of the remaining caramel in the tin. Dollop the rest of the brownie mixture over the top of the caramel and swirl through with a spoon or knife.

Top and bake

Sprinkle a little of the extra salt over the top and then bake for 25-30 minutes. There should be a firm crust on top, but the centre will still jiggle when you wriggle the tin. Let the brownie cool completely in the tin and then cut into 16 even pieces. Serve with a chocolate ganache sauce for an extra indulgence.

Salted caramel brownie

Friday Food: Tray Bake Kits

Vanilla cakeReading a cooking magazine I spotted new Woolworths Tray Bake Kits. Of course I had to have them all. Not that I am affected by advertising but really: tray bake kits with a tray and all the bits and bobs. What's not to want???

I really wanted them and so, in the end, I went to three supermarkets before I finally had all the kits in my hot little hand.

There are three types: vanilla cake, chocolate cake and brownies and they cost $4 each. You add a little butter, two eggs and milk to the cakes and one egg, oil and water to the brownies. They come with a folded tray that opens and slots together and icing and sprinkles for the cakes. The whole thing is as cute as a button. Some Woolworths had all three kits, some two and some none at all.

New traybake kits

So dear Reader, I have taken it upon myself to test the kits and taste the vanilla cake at least.


Tray Bake Kits    makes 18 pieces

The cakes require additional ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 60g butter, softened
  • 190ml (3/4 cup) milk

The icing also needs:

  • 60g butter, softened
  • 20ml milk


Vanilla cake kit contents. The chocolate cake kit has a chocolate cake mix and 100s and 1000s.


The brownies require additional ingredients:

  • 1 egg
  • 100ml vegetable oil
  • 100ml water

There is no icing or frosting for the brownies.



Preheat the oven to 180*C or 160*C fan-forced for all the kits. Unfold and assemble the tray and grease it. I tried both butter and oil, and the butter seemed to work best of all. I folded the creases of all the tray edges and made sure the openings were open so the little arrows slid in easily. They are pretty good trays and maintain their shape quite well. I got better by #3!!!

Tray assembled

To make the cakes, put the cake mix, butter, eggs and milk into the mixer bowl and beat slowly to combine. Once everything comes together, beat on Medium speed for 3 minutes. Then just mix with a spoon to make sure everything is properly combined.

Vanilla cake batter combined

Pour into the tray and bake for 30-35 minutes. I baked mine for 30 minutes and turned the tray half way through. It is cooked when the cake is golden, comes away from the side of the tray and a skewer poked into the centre comes out clean.

Vanilla trayed and baked

Set aside to cool completely.

Vanilla icing

While it is cooling make the icing. Put the icing mix, softened butter and milk into a bowl and beat slowly to combine and then on a high speed for 2 minutes. It will be pale and light.

Vanilla cake iced and sprinkled

Spread the icing on the cake and top with the sprinkles. There is just the right amount of icing, a little more than you think you need, but not too much.

De-traying the cake

It came out of the tray quite easily and didn't stick at all when I used butter to grease the tray.

Here's the chocolate cake:

The chocolate cake

And vanilla and chocolate cake pieces.

Vanilla and choc tray bake

I think the vanilla cake is delicious, it is quite vanilla-y and the icing is light and tasty. It till tastes faintly like a packet mix, but not too badly. My next-door neighbour tasted it and thought it was very yummy. She liked the chocolate one a lot and the icing was very fudgy and rich.


To make the Brownies, put the cake mix into a bowl with the egg, water and vegetable oil and mix with a spoon until combined.

The brownie

Pour into the tray and bake for 30-35 minutes. I baked this one for the full 35 minutes.

Cool and slice and it is done.

Choc brownie

I did taste the brownie and I think it was the least successful of the three. I thought it was a bit too flat and the edges were crusty while the centre was moist. While I might consider the cake kits, I would not buy the Brownie one again.

In reality, I like the cake kits for their novelty value, but I will always make a cake from scratch. I like knowing the ingredients I am using are as local as possible, or Australian at least. I like the whole baking process and as we don't have a proper life at our house, it fills in the time some days. Baking cheers me up!!!

Friday Food: Coco Pop Choc Mousse Cups

Cocopop cupThe name of the recipe in no way indicates the difficulty involved: basically you make a kind of Mars Bar slice mix and press it into muffin tin holes and then fill with a melted chocolate mix folded into whipped cream. I really enjoyed making these, and the recipe comes from the Woman's Day magazine, where there is also a Froot Loop cake and a Cornflake slice, and whence I sourced the Jelly Cake Doughnuts. If you don't have Coco Pops, you could just use any plain puffed rice cereal. In our house, when I was a little girl, Sundays were the day for Wicked Breakfast Cereals: Coco Pops, Frosty Flakes, Honey Smacks, Froot Loops - they all came out for special occasions only. These mousse cups are a special occasion food as well.

I eschewed the recipe directions and did all my melting, gently, in the microwave with 30 second bursts and lots of stirring. I always err on the side of a little less melting than I think I want and then I stir any lumps into submission. I spooned 2 tablespoons full of the Coco Pop mixture into my muffin tin holes and then pressed them firmly into the base and sides. In the end I had enough left over to cover the base of a loaf tin, and I topped that with the left over mousse: so bonus dessert!!

I greased the muffin tin holes with some butter and then cut strips of baking paper and placed them cross-wise in the tin to make a lining. They popped out perfectly when they were set.

The trick to folding the melted chocolate and condensed milk into the whipped cream is to first add a good dollop of the cream to the melted chocolate/condensed milk and stir that in well to loosen the mixture. Then fold that into the whipped cream very gently. I was very pleased as it was smooth and had a nice texture.

I can only think of one downside, and that is you have to wait 4 hours for the mousse to set before you can eat them!!!!

NB An Australian tablespoon is very sensibly 20ml, or 4x5ml teaspoons.


Coco Pop Choc Mousse Cups     makes at least 12

  • 100g milk chocolate, chopped
  • 50g butter, chopped
  • 60ml golden syrup
  • 3 cups Coco Pops
  • 100g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 395g tin of condensed milk
  • 300ml cream
  •  1 tspn vanilla extract


Grease and then line the 12 holes of a muffin tin with strips of baking paper and set aside. Melt the milk chocolate, butter and golden syrup in the microwave in 30 second bursts using a Medium heat. As soon as it looks almost melted, stir until it is smooth and combined.

First melt

Put the Coco Pops into a large bowl and then pour in the chocolate mixture and mix thoroughly so that every Pop is coated and shiny. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of mixture into each muffin tin hole and use a smaller spoon to press the Pops firmly into the base and up the sides. Make sure the base is covered, add a few more Pops if you need them. Chill in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Pops and cups

Start the mousse by melting together the dark chocolate and 1/2 the tin of condensed milk in the microwave. Once again, stir the under-melted chocolate until it is smooth and combined. Set aside to cool.

Melting again

Whip the cream and vanilla till soft peaks form. Spoon a good dollop of the cream into the cooled chocolate/condensed milk mixture and mix firmly together.

Whip, fold a third

Once it is combined, pour into the whipped cream and gently fold together until there are no pale streaks of cream showing.

And fold and fill

Take the cups from the fridge and spoon the mousse in, filling right to the top.

Cocopop cups

Refrigerate for at least 4 hours and then serve as they are or perhaps with some cream and shaved chocolate on top.

Coco pop cups