Friday, 27 July 2012

Rainbow Orange Wedge Jewels

 For months I've been seeing  rainbow coloured items splashed everywhere on the Internet; Instagram, 9Gag, Facebook, Tumblr... Now I get that most of the photos of rainbow zebras are probably Photoshopped but I thought that recreating some rainbow foods I've seen around the web would be a pretty cool thing to do. So I did!

One of my favourite rainbow themed food photos I've seen are the rainbow jelly orange wedges (or Jell-O if you're from the States).  Basically they're orange wedges but where the flesh of the orange normally is, is a sparkly pretty wedge of colourful jelly looking not unlike a jewel (hence why I refer to them as orange wedge jewels. I know right? I'm brilliant).  It is ridiculously easy and seeing as how here in Australia oranges and lemons are in full force, I thought I'd use some of the hundreds of oranges growing on our trees right now and make some pretty things with some freshly squeezed O.J as a bonus.  We don't do wasteful around here!  Obviously you can do whatever colour(s) you want with this.  These are a huge hit with kids as I found out when I experimented these with my family.  Even the adults are wowed.  They'd be great for kids parties and the like, so go ahead and try these out!

Rainbow Orange Wedge Jewels

Jelly- whatever colours/flavours you want (I used six colours- red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple)
As many oranges as you want wedges

Firstly, what you want to do is cut each orange in half then juice it.  Then using whatever tools you want (not a drill) gently scoop out the pulpy flesh left inside the orange half.  I alternated between a knife and a spoon.  The orange flesh should come out relatively easily.  I was able to peel the segments cleanly away from the skin really easily.

Place the empty orange halves in a muffin tray so filling the halves is a lot easier and obviously less messy. 

Next prepare your jelly/jellies.  Pour the jelly liquid into the orange halves and refrigerate until they're set. 

Once the jelly is set, carefully cut each half into quarters with a sharp knife.  This bit can get a little tricky and messy doing it for the first time but try to do it in one fluid movement.  This way you get a clean cut through the jelly and no ragged edges, though I did get a few myself.

And that's it! Enjoy your rainbow orange wedges and freshly squeezed orange juice!

Friday, 20 July 2012

Short and Sweet Chocolate Truffles

So after our last ginormous post comes something short and sweet- two ingredient chocolate truffles, from the queen of simple- Donna Hay.

Donna's recipe calls for 200g of dark chocolate, but a quick search of the pantry revealed half a pack of dark cooking chocolate and an almost empty box of Favourites chocolates, with the rejected white and milk chocolates left behind. So that's the combo that went into these truffles.

And how did they taste? GLORIOUS!!!-with one serious exception (see * below).

Short and Sweet Chocolate Truffles

200g dark chocolate, chopped
90mL single/pouring cream

Line a small tin/container with baking paper.
Place chocolate and cream into a small saucepan and stir over low heat until chocolate has melted.
The mixture should be smooth and glossy.
Pour into your lined tin and refrigerate until set (~3 hours)
Roll teaspoons of the mixture into balls and toss into cocoa, or anything else that tickles your fancy*.
Makes 22.

* These truffles were rolled in cocoa or chopped, roasted, salted peanuts. Theoretically salt, peanuts and chocolate sound like a great combo, but surprisingly, not with these truffles- a gross idea.

So with winter upon us you might just have some left over cream in your fridge from last nights apple pie, and what better excuse but try these out for yourself. Waste not want not!

This recipe comes from Donna Hay's Simple Essentials, Chocolate which you can find here.


Sunday, 15 July 2012

Tackling Adriano Zumbo one pear at a time...

I've  had Adriano Zumbo's book "Zumbo" for over six months and the entire time it's been in my possession it's been sitting in my room on a stand collecting dust.  To be completely honest I was slightly intimidated by epic recipes and mentions of rose emulsions and lychee caviar to try any of these recipes... until about two weeks ago when I finally decided on something to make.  Aside from his macarons or "Zumbarons" I found this recipe to be the easiest and least fiddly, which is saying something about the rest of  the recipes in his book!  I don't doubt I'll try them all eventually but for now his "Lavender Up" bar cake is entirely satisfying for a first shot...

The Zumbo Lavender Up cake is basically a pear, blueberry, lavender and coconut flavoured creation which is friggin' delicious and not nearly as weird as it may sound.  In fact I did have a taste of the mixture before I baked it and I think it's pretty fair to say that the spoon was licked completely clean.  I'm not even sorry. 

You'll need a few extras ready before you start though:

Lavender sugar:

200g caster sugar
50g dried lavender

Put the sugar and lavender into a spice grinder and grind to a fine powder.

 Simple sugar syrup:

250g caster sugar
250g water

Put the sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved.  Bring to the boil, then remove from the heat and cool completely.  Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Clear neutral glaze:

250g water
10g pectin (I used Jamsetta for those of you in Australia and anywhere else that sells it)
265g caster sugar
20g liquid glucose

Place the water in a saucepan and heat to 60˚C.  Mix the pectin with 65g of the caster sugar, add to the water and stir to combine. Bring to the boil and add the remaining sugar.  Return to the boil and add the glucose. Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely.  Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  To use, reheat to 35˚C in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, or in a microwave.

Adriano Zumbo's "Lavender Up" bar cake 

For the caramel:

300g caster sugar
120g water
60g  liquid glucose
220g coconut cream

Lightly spray two bar tins (7.5cm x 20cm) with cooking oil.  Line the trays with non stick paper, enough so the paper extends over the sides of the tin longways.  (This makes the cake easier to turn out, as well as makes sure it really doesn't get stuck in the pan.)

Put the sugar, water and liquid glucose in a small, deep saucepan over medium heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved.  Bring the mixture to the boil and cook until the caramel is dark amber in colour.  NB: One thing the book doesn't remind or suggest you do when making the caramel is making sure you wash down the sides of the saucepan with water when you're waiting for the mixture to colour to make sure the mixture doesn't crystallise. I did this with a pastry brush (with Natasha's help while I was occupied doing other components.) 

Meanwhile, bring the coconut cream to the boil in a separate saucepan and remove from the heat.  Add this warm to the caramel once it has reached the dark amber colouring you need to deglaze. Be super careful doing this though as when the coconut cream hits the caramel it will rise a spit, releasing a lot of heat.

After you've done this, divide the caramel between the two tins.

For the poached pears:

4 beurre bosc pears
2.5kg of sugar syrup (make 5 batches)
Seeds scraped from one vanilla bean
Small pinch of saffron threads

200g fresh blueberries (I could only get a hold of canned blueberries unfortunately.)

Peel and core the pears and cut each into two even halves.  Put the pears, syrup, vanilla seeds an saffron in a saucepan and cover with a cartouche.  A cartouche is just a round of baking paper cut to fit just over the contents of the pan.  Bring to the boil over medium heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the pears are tender but not mushy.  Transfer them to a bowl to cool completely.

Cut each piece of pear in half length ways and then into three wedges.  Arrange the pear pieces randomly over the caramel in the tins.  Scatter the blueberries over the pears to fill in the gaps between pears.  If I could suggest one thing though, it would be to leave the pears in their halves rather than wedge them, just for presentation reasons.

Note how the blueberries lack their beautiful blue colouring and a lot of their plumpness? DON'T BUY CANNED BLUEBERRIES FOR THIS. Learn from my mistake. They're ugly.

For the cake batter: 

150g unsalted butter
240g light palm sugar, grated
180g lightly beaten egg
310g plain flour
5g baking powder
75g cornflour
50g lavender sugar
120g desiccated coconut
100g creme fraiche
150g coconut cram
Finely grated zest and juice of one orange
Finely grated zest and juice of one lemon

Preheat the oven to 160˚C.  Cream the butter and sugar in an electric mixer on medium speed for 3 minutes or until pale and fluffy.  Gradually add the egg, mixing well between each addition.  Mix in the sifted flour, baking powder and cornflour.  Mix in the combined lavender sugar and desiccated coconut.  Remove the bowl from the mixer and stir in the creme fraiche, coconut cream and all the zest  and juice, mixing until well combined.

I love that you can see the little purple flecks of lavender in the mixture.

Divide the mixture between the two tins, filling them no more than 1cm from the top and place on a baking tray.  Cook for 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out just a little moist. Cool the cakes in their tins and then carefully invert onto a wire rack.

To finish:

**Can I just say that I found this step entirely optional just because I saw it as another layer of sugar you could do without**

200g of clear neutral glaze

Heat the clear neutral glaze in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water until it reaches 35˚C and then pour over the cakes.  Transfer to a serving plate.

A long recipe but entirely worth it! It was honestly one of the best cakes I've tasted/made.  The lavender was such a subtle flavour but made a world of difference.  It didn't taste soapy at all.  Stealing dozens of lavender flowers with Natasha from various houses in our neighbourhood definitely payed off! We just hope the owners of the houses weren't looking out their window to find two girls ripping out bunches of lavender from their bushes and running off to find the next unsuspecting bushes. Awkward...

The next time I make this cake though, I'll make a couple of changes.  First of all I think the glaze was slightly redundant, seeing as the caramel glazes the cake pretty well in the first place.  The entire thing is pretty sugar intensive  and I'd like to not give my pancreas a heart attack by adding another flavourless layer of sugar.  I might try leaving out the pear and blueberry layer next time as well and soak the cake through with some vanilla sugar syrup or the caramel, just to switch things up a bit and see what works best.  The cake in itself is quite dense but not to such an unpleasant heavy level for my tastes.  I really enjoyed the consistency of the cake but I'm thinking moistening it up with a bit of syrup or caramel would loosen the cake a tad. 

Om freaking nom.

You can find Adriano Zumbo's website at
You can buy Adriano Zumbo's book "Zumbo" here (UK) and here (US).

Friday, 6 July 2012

First Post & Cupboard Brownies!

Welcome to S'morish! Here we will be posting delicious treats for you to make at home, so you too can experience the happy rush that slightly elevated blood sugar levels bring. There is no doubt that you can see through this whole blog facade and know that the real reason we're doing this is to justify making "diabetes bombs" every week.

This first post will be a quick little background post plus a yummy snack to follow! We're two cousins who grew up cooking with our Nonna from a very young age. In the traditional Italian style, we were being trained to become housewives from two years of age, helping cook pasta, biscotti and sugo... while also watering the garden for Nonno. 

Growing up, we were constantly surrounded by yummy food, having free reign over fresh ingredients from Nonno's garden and having piled plates shoved in front of us because Nonna thought we weren't eating enough.  One of the most vivid memories we have of our early childhood is running through Nonno's towering tomato vines, mini-Natasha snacking on freshly picked tomatoes and mini-Alexia assuming the role of bee magnet amongst the basil.  As you can imagine, this is where the fun began...

And now we find ourselves starting this blog.  We thought a blog was a great way to keep a "cooking journal" of all the recipes we've tried and loved and maybe even some we didn't love so much.  We love inducing a sugar coma upon our families and so we thought we'd share our little baking escapades with you so you could do the same.

So after our short and sweet little intro comes a short and sweet little recipe.  This recipe is from Natasha's collection of goodies she loves to make and they're always a fudgey hit with everyone who gets a chance to try them.


Cupboard Brownies

125g unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup caster sugar
2 eggs, cold
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
5 tablespoons cocoa
Pinch of salt
Dash of vanilla

Preheat oven to 180˚C and grease brownie tin (a square 19cm pan).

Mix together melted butter and sugar.

Add 2 eggs one at a time beating well after each.

Add vanilla.

Mix in flour, cocoa and salt.

Bake until almost done (~20mins)

Leave to cool in tin for 5 minutes.

When cool dust with icing sugar. The look above was achieved using a stencil.