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Alfajores Dulche De Leche Cookie Recipe

Alfajores recipe

According to Wiki the spanish word Alfajores is derived from the arabic work for “luxury” or “exquisite” – and let me assure you, this couldn’t be more spot on – these cookies are heavenly.

Alfajores are originally from South America and normally are made up of two thin buttery biscuits sandwiched together with a generous dollop of dulche de leche (or caramel).

I found this recipe on Twigg Studios (a super blog with tons of delicious recipes and mouth watering photos). Although I followed the recipe quite closely I did find the dough quite sticky so I chose to roll mine into a sausage shape and freeze it until it was hard enough to slice.

Alfajores Dulche De Leche Cookies:

For the biscuits:
250g Cake Flour
25g Icing Sugar (sounds like very little, but it’s just perfect as the filling is super sweet)
1 tsp Salt
225g Butter

For the filling:
1 Tin of Caramel
1/4 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Ground Nutmeg
1/4 tsp Ground Cloves

In a food processor combine all the biscuit ingredients and whizz about till it forms a smooth dough. Tip this out onto a floured surface and form into a long sausage shape, wrap in cling film and pop in the freezer for a couple of hours. You don’t want the dough to be frozen rock hard as you will need to slice it, but if it is solid, just leave it out for a few minutes and it should soften up making slicing easier.

Preheat your oven to 180C. Line a backing sheet with grease proof paper and set aside.

When your dough is just hard enough, slice it into 5-8mm thick slices and lay them out on your backing sheet. Don’t put them too close together as they spread a little and you want to keep their lovely roundness.

Bake for 10 -15 minutes until golden and delicious looking.

Remove from the oven and cool on a wire cooling rack. Once they are completely cool dust them with icing sugar.

Now you can whip up the scrummy filling – pop all the filling ingredients together in a bowl and mix together thoroughly.

Smear a spoonful (or more) of the Dulche De Leche filling onto half of your cookies and use the remaining half to finish of the little sandwiches. Perfection.

Now pour your self a cup of tea, sit back and be prepared for pure bliss!

Original recipe from here

Ladybird Birthday cake for the twins

Making Ladybird Cake - Pretty Pretty

Making Ladybird Cake - Pretty Pretty

Making Ladybird Cake - Pretty Pretty

Making Ladybird Cake - Pretty Pretty

Making Ladybird Cake - Pretty Pretty

Last week was my niece and nephew’s second birthday and they where having an insect themed party. Wow can you believe it’s been two years since these little critters joined us? – so to celebrate and make my sister’s life a little easier I volunteered to make them a ladybird cake. Yes, this probably was a completely bonkers idea as I had never made a proper birthday cake before. By proper cake I mean one with fancy icing and shaped like a something, as opposed to the run of mill round choccie cake I have made many a time before.

My plan was pretty straight forward – Youtube was to be my baking instructor and if all else failed I would dash off to Charley’s Bakery and buy a backup conventional cake as a substitute.

And so my adventure as a #nervousbaker began. First I watched a bazmillion Youtube videos and read a ton of forums and blogs on cake making, crumb icing and fondant covering, then I set about making my cake. The Buttermilk Cake recipe I chose was from this nifty website called Craftsy, they have all sorts of great tutorials and videos (some of which you have to pay for) but the bits I needed where all part of a free online course, so I signed up and got going.

After backing all my cakes I left them to cool in the fridge overnight, as this makes the cake much easier to work with and sculpt. So far, so good!

Next morning I made my buttercream icing – beginning of problem number one (eek!)

I followed the recipe precisely, in fact I watched the necessary video 3 or 4 times, but for some reason my egg whites did not whip up like marshmallow fluff, as in the video… oh dear! What had I done wrong?
I tried googling it again, looking at loads more Swiss Buttercream recipes till I came across good old Martha Stewart’s recipe where she said to let the eggs whip for 15-20 minutes… a lot more then the recipe I was following, they said whip for 5 minutes.
So I decided to just let the mixer go and see if anything happened. Well, after staring at the whites being sloshed about in the mixer bowl for at least 15 minutes, the egg whites finally started to look a little thicker and after 20 minutes of whipping the egg whites turned shiny and thick… yippee! Problem number one solved! I then continued to follow the recipe and successfully made the buttercream icing.

Next step was to assemble the cake, sculpt it and them crumb ice the outside. The twins chose a lady bird as the shape they wanted for a cake so off I set to make these 4 round cakes into the rough shape of a lady bird. This step was surprising easily, thanks to the fancy cake cutter and handy palette knife I bought -it always pays to have the right tools.

The neatly iced cake required lots of resting and cooling in the fridge in between layers of crumb icing, thus making sure the edges where all beautifully smooth and ready for the coloured fondant. So after another night in the fridge, my little naked lady bird was ready for her red and black outfit.

Here the real fun began. I had bought red and black fondant from Woolies so I didn’t have to mess about with food coloring, so I got stuck in straight away.
Working with fondant is fiddly and thanks to the endless tutorials I had watched I had lots of tips and tricks to fall back on. Before you knew it, the cake was looking like the real deal and I was having so much fun!

I could almost not believe my good luck, thus far there had been no problem number 2 (don’t tempt fate Jo!)

I opted to make the feelers for the lady bird out of air drying clay, so I whipped those up. I then cut up all the dots her back and made some eyes and a mouth and of course 6 little feet. WOW -the cake was was looking more and more like a success, I was so surprised!

On Saturday morning I carefully nestled my lady bird in a box in the back of the Landy and off we set to the twin’s party. This was the bit I was dreading the most and I think poor Alexis was sweating all the way there. Each corner we went around I cringed and he apologized, but all went well and all three of us survived intact.

When we got there I popped Miss Ladybird’s feelers in and she was placed in the middle of the birthday table.
WOW – I could not believe it, this was too good to be true! The cake was a success, we did not have to move to plan B and the twins where ecstatic. Oh and I had a blast! Who would have thought making cakes could be so much fun! If asked, I think I would happily do it again.

Just goes to show, if you put your mind to it (and you watch a Youtube video or two) you can do anything.

On my Christmas Wish List: Chocolate paint box

Dear Father Christmas, please can I have a box of chocolate paint. Thanks – Jo xxx

Who can forget, as a child, the delight of opening a brand spanking new box of pencils or crayons? It was possibly the only cool thing about going back to school at the beginning of the new year. I loved having a new pencil case filled with fresh goodies all waiting to be used for the first time.

Somehow the smell of fresh art supplies and stationary really has stuck with me and I simply can’t help myself around shiny new pens, plump looking novelty erasures, boxes of paperclips, pots of paint, stiff new paint brushes and magical trays of coloured pencils.

Now mix that delight with the treat of a freshly opened box of chocolates and you are in for a real feast.
Nendo have created just such a delicious delight – individual chocolate tubes of yummy gooeyness – each flavor being filled with it’s respective coloured stickiness. So good!

Chocolate PaintChocolate PaintChocolate PaintChocolate PaintChocolate PaintChocolate PaintChocolate Paint

See more of Nendo’s work here.
Photos by Ayao Yamazaki

Food Flags

Delicious flags from around the world – cleverly “cooked” by hungry designers at Aussie agency WHYBIN\TBWA – what a yummy idea!
These flags where created to promote Australia’s biggest food event The Sydney International Food Festival. Each flag represents that country’s favourite nosh – what do you think the South African flag would have been made out of?

Food Flag

USA

Food Flag

Australia

Food Flag

Brazil

Food Flag

China

Food Flag

Vietnam

Food Flag

France

Food Flag

Greece

Food Flag

India

Food Flag

Indonesia

Food Flag

Japan

Food Flag

Lebanon

Food Flag

South Korea

Food Flag

Spain

Food Flag

Switzerland

Food Flag

Turkey

All photos from WHYBIN\TBWA

Veggie Cutlery

Qiyun Deng is the clever clogs behind this collection of disposable bioplastic PLA cutlery titled Graft. Each piece serves as a reminder of the origin of it’s source material – vegetable starches, oils and fat.

Aren’t they just so lovely… I couldn’t possibly through any of them away (even on the compost heap).

Graft -  Qiyun DengGraft -  Qiyun DengGraft -  Qiyun Deng

Read more about Qiyun Deng here.
Found via This is Colossal.

Miniature Food Sculpture

As a child I was fascinated by all things miniature – my doll’s house playing home to my dinky collection. I was so proud of my itty bitty world, especially as a lot of it was hand made. Sadly my pocket money didn’t stretch far enough to purchase the mail order chandelier that lit up, nor could I afford the replica designer couch and recliner. Instead my crafty Gran would help me stitch tiny little cushions and make teeny duvets for the beds. I would paint miniature paintings for the walls and bind tiny little books for the library – I was in my element.

NOW – had Shay Aaron been creating his unbelievable food sculptures way back then, then I would definitely have made a plan to save my weekly chore money to buy a tiny creation.
Shay’s “dishes” are created at a scale of 1:12, in other words super small and super realistic. Perfect for my minature kitchen… I wonder if that doll’s house is still standing, gathering dust somewhere?

See more of Shay Aaron’s work on his Facebook page

Miniature Food SculptureMiniature Food SculptureMiniature Food SculptureMiniature Food SculptureMiniature Food SculptureMiniature Food SculptureMiniature Food SculptureMiniature Food SculptureMiniature Food SculptureMiniature Food Sculpture
Photos from here
For more minature deliciousness check out this previous post

Amish Cinnamon Bread Recipe

Amish Cinnamon Bread
Yesterday morning I was desperate for something delicious to have with my tea, so I turned to the ever trusty Pinterest to see if I could find the perfect, quick and easy treat to whip up before elevenses.

Thanks to a Redfly Creations pin, I stumbled upon this amazing recipe for Amish Cinnamon bread (cheats version). Apparently the real deal is made with yeast and takes a while to prepare, so this less fussy version suited me perfectly.

I was not disappointed. As soon as this gem went into the oven I knew it was going to be amazing – quickly the house filled with the delicious smell of cinnamon and before you knew it I was scoffing a second huge wedge of it smothered in butter – divine!

(NB – If you click through to the original recipe you will see that I halved the quantity as I didn’t have enough sugar to make two loaves. The recipe below is for one average size loaf)

Amish Cinnamon Bread

Batter
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk or 1 cup milk plus 1 tablespoons vinegar or lemon juice
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

Cinnamon & sugar mixture:
2/3 cups sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Preheat your oven to 180C. Grease a loaf tin and set aside.

Cream together the butter, sugar. Once light and fluffy add in the egg. Sift together the flour and baking powder. Slowly add a third of the flour to the butter mixture and then a third of the milk mixture, continue alternating between the milk and flour until the batter is smooth. Don’t over beat it.

Pour half the batter into your loaf tin and then sprinkle half the cinnamon & sugar mixture over the top. Take a knife and swirl the cinnamon & sugar through the batter. Pour the rest of the batter on top and sprinkle the rest of the cinnamon & sugar on the very top (don’t swirl this time)

Pop your loaf in the oven and bake for 45-50 minutes (or until a skew tester comes out clean).
Keep your eye on this precious bread – you don’t want the sugar to brown too much. If it starts looking too dark, pop some tinfoil over the top.

Now for the hardest part – leave the loaf in the tin to cool for 20 minutes before turning it out onto a wire rack. Trust me here, if you turn it out to quickly it will fall apart.

Now cut yourself an enormous hunk, spread with loads of butter and enjoy.

Original recipe from here

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Pretty Pretty Chocolate Chip CookiesIn my quest to find the best chocolate chip cookie recipe ever, I found this delicious version on the Australian Cadbury website. It’s a really easy recipe with just the right amount of chewiness and firmness needed in a choc chip cookie. In fact, it was so good that even Alexis (who is NOT a biscuit fan) was caught with his paws in the cookie jar around tea time.

I haven’t adapted the recipe at all from the original, except to subsitute normal flour and baking powder (we never have self raising flour at home). Oh, and I also added in more chocolate chips (why not?)

Chocolate Chip Cookies

All you will need:
125g butter, softened
½ cup light brown sugar
⅓ cup caster sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1½ cups of all purpose flour
3 tsp baking powder
½ cup cocoa powder
1 cup white chocolate chips

Here’s how:
1 – Preheat your oven to 160°C.
2 – Cream together the butter, brown sugar and white sugar until light and fluffy.
3 – Mix in the egg and vanilla extract.
4 – Sift together the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder. While the mixer is going slowly add this to your wet batter.
5 – Finally mix in the chocolate chips. You should have a fairly stiff mixture.
6 – Roll little balls of the dough and place them onto a greased baking tray. Gently press each ball down with the back of a dessert spoon.
7 – Pop in the oven and bake for 13 minutes. Keep an eye on these lovelies as you don’t want them to burn. The chocolate batter is fairly dark & you may not notice them getting too brown.
8 – Cool on a wire rack.

Enjoy with a huge glass of ice cold milk.

Pancakes anyone?

Shrove Tuesday

Today is Shrove Tuesday and tomorrow the beginning of Lent. I have to admit that I am a bit of a pancake nut. Pancakes where probably one of the first things my Mum taught me how to cook, not the fat American style pancakes (similar to what I know to be flapjacks) but the super thin, crepe style pancakes that you can safely eat a dozen of.
We always had then sprinkled with lots of sugar and cinnamon and a squeeze of lemon – bliss!

Tonight I shall be donning my apron to make a sinfully massive pile of these delicious treats, after all Lent only starts in the morning.

Here is my recipe for the perfect pancake, it comes out of a very old and much loved cook book of mine – Mrs Beaton’s Everyday Cookery (published in 1963) This cookbook is full of recipes I grew up with, and to spite its dated photos and horrid blue cover its a favourite in my collection. I love that certain pages (like the pancake page) are covered in little splash marks and finger prints, evidence that these recipes have been made often.

Basic Pancake Mixture.

250g plain flour
500ml milk
1/4t salt
2 eggs

Prepare batter by sifting the flour and salt into a basin. Make a well in the middle of the flour and break the eggs into this. Slowly add the milk in, stirring consistently until you have created a smooth batter OR if you have a food processor (and this is not in Mrs Beaton’s version of the recipe) wang everything into the processor and whizz it until you have a smooth batter.

Set the batter aside for at least a half hour.

Heat up a your frying pan with a small amount of oil (I use canola), wait for oil to just start smoking, then swirl in enough of the batter to cover the bottom of the pan, tilting the pan to make sure the batter covers the pan evenly. Cook the pancake till it’s a golden colour and then carefully flip it over to cook the other side.

Once done pop the pancake onto a plate, sprinkle it with cinnamon sugar and roll up. Store the finished pancake in a warm place till you are done making the rest.

Serve with a wedge of lemon and a nice cuppa tea.

Enjoy!

The Pancake Poster was created by WILDISH&CO.

Barbershop Paris

It is no secret that I have a small problem when it comes to all things typographic. I can’t abide badly set type and I applaud the beauty of hand lettering. I recently fell in love with the work of Alexis Taïeb. He created this phenominal piece for the Parisian restaurant Barbershop. It highlights 35 dishes and drinks from their menu – simply gorgeous.

Barbershop Paris

Barbershop Paris

Barbershop Paris

Barbershop Paris

Barbershop Paris

Barbershop Paris

Barbershop Paris

Barbershop Paris

Barbershop Paris

Barbershop Paris

See more of Alexis Taïeb’s work here

Got cake?

Chocolate CakeChocolate Cake

Trying really hard to avoid doing real work, I decided to make a cake. I had been drooling over the How Sweet It Is blog for some time now, and seeing the photos of her chocolate fudge peanut butter cake just pushed me over the edge. I had to try this cake.

The recipe was relatively simple. Although you would never had said so from the ton of dishes I managed to create… but who cares, after all what’s the point of having five spatulas if you cant use all five of them in one baking session? Generally I am a tidy cook, I like to wash up as I go and I repeatedly wipe down surfaces and mop up spills. But for some reason when I bake, no matter how careful I am, I always seem to create a bomb site. I am positive I am not the only one, maybe other people create the illusion of tidiness by shoving dirty bowls and whisks in the dishwasher before they can be noticed. Sadly our tiny little kitchen is sans le dishwasher, so poor me has to tackle my own body weight in mixing bowls and sieves.
Dear Alexis know’s not to come near the kitchen when one of my baking frenzies is going on, mainly for fear of volunteering to wash the odd spoon and then being entrapped into washing the contents of all our cupboards – bless him!

Anyhow, here is the divine recipe for this marvelous chocolaty creation. My version doesn’t look anywhere near as glamorous as her’s but it tasted flipping fantastic. Only word of caution I would give is don’t over cook it. Mine was slightly dry – I personally prefer a slightly more moist cake.