Sunday, 21 January 2018

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

From now on, this is my Friday cake. Why? Because - full disclosure - that punnet of courgettes in my fridge is unlikely to be used for anything else over the weekend. 
So then we get to enjoy this tea-time treat guilt free. Cake and greens simultaneously sorted! Excellent! 

The courgettes / zucchini don't add flavour to this cake, only moisture - and a bunch of vitamins!

Try it served with a dash of cream; a scoop of ice-cream, or drizzled with ganache as I've done here.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake
Recipe adapted from

Preheat the oven to 180'C
Grease a Bundt cake pan


320g cake flour
320g caster sugar
60g unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp mixed spice
4 XL eggs
250ml vegetable oil
350g finely grated zucchini
80g finely chopped pecan nuts or walnuts

Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, salt,  baking powder and baking soda, cinnamon and sugar.
In a jug, lightly whisk the eggs and oil together. Mix this into the grated zucchini.
Fold the wet ingredients and nuts into the sifted dry ingredients. Mix until just combined.
Bour the batter into the prepared Bundt pan.
Bake at 180'C for 35-40minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean / with just a few crumbs attached.
Remove from the oven.
Cool for 10 minutes in the pan before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Dark Chocolate Ganache 
120g dark (semi-sweet chocolate)
60ml cream 

Heat both ingredients together in a double boiler, or in 30 second bursts in the microwave, stirring in between, until the chocolate has melted. 
Stir until smooth. 

Allow to cool, then pour over the cake. 

If you like the idea of baking with veggies, this is a recipe for a dark chocolate carrot cake (one of my very first blog entries - please excuse the photo!)

And from last year, a delicious spiced zucchini cake:

Happy baking!


Sunday, 14 January 2018

Mini Donut Pops

Now you really don't need to 'pop these, but you have to admit - sweet treats on a stick have a certain appeal, don't they?
Not to mention the appeal of avoiding sticky fingers.
(Or - no judgement here - is licking the sticky remnants of donut off your fingers one of the best parts for you??)

Well, anyway... these donuts actually aren't sticky. They're covered in chocolate, real chocolate, not a chocolate glaze.
Not because I have anything against sticky glaze-covered donuts, but simply because you'll be melting chocolate for the popsicle sticks anyway.
(Well...that's one reason, but I won't elaborate on the chocolate misadventure that resulted in these particular creations, now. Remind me another time, ok?)

So... chocolate covered mini donut pops...

Mini Donuts
Recipe from

Grease a 12-cup mini donut pan.
Preheat the oven to 180'C

125g cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
65g caster sugar
60ml milk
60ml buttermilk
30g butter, melted
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

Sift together the dry ingredients.
Whisk the milk, buttermilk, butter, vanilla and egg together.
Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients; pour the wet ingredients in, and mix until just combined. Don't over-mix.

Pour the batter into a ziploc bag; snip off one corner, and pipe into the donut pan (this way is much easier than trying to spoon it in!).
Don't over-fill the pan, because you'll lose the donut hole (they'll still be delicious though!)

I found this recipe makes a little more than my mini-donut pan can take; I just keep the extra batter aside for a few more donuts in a second round of baking - I only have one donut pan!

Bake at 180'C for 8-10 minutes, or until the donuts are lightly browned.

Remove from the oven and cool in the pan before turning out.

To decorate:

Melt 200g of dark or milk chocolate.

Dip popsicle sticks in melted chocolate then gently push into the donut. Allow the chocolate to harden.

Pipe more melted chocolate onto the donuts; top with sprinkles before the chocolate sets.

If you want to use a glaze instead of chocolate, visit to see the original recipe.



Monday, 1 January 2018

New Year's Hazelnut Panna Cotta with Nutella Ganache

Happy New Year!
The last time I saw the clock tick over into a new year was probably back in 2007. 
By 2008, while I might have been awake at midnight, it would have been with reluctance and a small, cranky baby in arms. 
Fast forward 10 years and I found myself being kept awake again by a child, but this time it was because my daughter was determined (determined, I tell you!) to see the new year in. 
I was ready to call it a day (night) by 10pm, but I couldn't let a 7 year-old hold out longer than me! 
And in the end, it was actually very special celebrating the beginning of 2018 with her. 
Special memories. Much more precious than sleep.
(But no doubt, I'll be in bed by 8pm tonight!)

And now,  raising a glass to all that's sweet - here's my last dessert of 2017 and my first post of 2018.

It's a little late for this year's celebrations, but bear it in mind for a special dinner or as an easy make-ahead-of-time dessert.

Hazelnut Panna Cotta with Nutella Ganache

You'll need 4-6 small glasses (4 white wine glasses, or 6 sherry glasses) 

3 gelatine sheets
Cold water - enough to cover the sheets of gelatine
100ml cream (double/ whipping cream - 35% fat content) 
100ml full cream milk
100g caster sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
300g double cream or full cream hazelnut yoghurt**
**you can substitute with plain yoghurt; add hazelnut extract/ flavouring and a few finely chopped roasted hazelnuts

Soak the gelatine in cold water for 5 minutes.

While it is soaking, place the cream, milk, sugar and vanilla in a small saucepan.
Heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has all dissolved.

Once the gelatine is soft, lift the sheets from the bowl and squeeze out the excess water.
Stir softened gelatine into the warmed milk / cream mixture until it has dissolved.
Leave to cool for 15 minutes, then pour this into the yoghurt.
Stir gently until well combined.

Divide the mixture evenly between the glasses; pour carefully to avoid spilling on the sides of the glass.
Refrigerate to set. 

Nutella Ganache

180ml Nutella  
3tbs heavy cream/ whipping cream (35% fat content) 

Heat the cream (do not boil)  
Mix warm cream into Nutella and stir until the mixture is smooth. 
Spoon this over the panna cotta once the panna cotta has set. 

Refrigerate again until ready to serve. 
Sprinkle with gold sugar crystals for a little bling. 

Wishing you a sweet and successful 2018!


Sunday, 24 December 2017

Rudolph Macarons

 I have a window of calm right now to get this post written and published while the kids are busy completing Christmas word-searches (winner gets a chocolate).

I don't know about you, but I find it quite a challenge to keep from going rip-roaring mad keep my equilibrium at this time of year: juggling work, Christmas prep, and kids at home for the holiday. (Thankfully Christmas is at my sister's house this year.  Can I hear a  chorus of Hallelujahs?! )

And the very last thing I want to do is go out to the shopping centres.
So while I could probably have found some cute candies to use for Rudolph's nose, I'd forgotten to look for them on my last outing, and settled for piping noses out of chocolate instead - white chocolate coloured with red powdered food colouring.

The antlers are also piped chocolate, but you could use pretzels as an alternative. (As used here on a Rudolph cupcake.) 
The eyes are drawn on with an edible marker. 

The macarons are chocolate and coffee flavoured, and filled with dark chocolate ganache
You can make the separate components ahead of time (macarons freeze well; chocolate keeps well), and assemble the day before your function. 

And it sounds like that is all I have time for... the word search has deteriorated into a fierce competition; I'll have to intercede before there's tears.
Oops - too late....

Aaah, Christmas!

Have a great one!


Sunday, 17 December 2017

Cinnamon & Chocolate Roll-Up Cookies

"Happiness is home-made"...

Happiness is also finding these cute jars again this year!

I used similar ones in 2015 for teacher gifts, laden with Russian teacake cookies.

Time was in shorter supply this year, so I filled these ones with a variety of mini-cookies using cookie dough I already had on hand.

The chocolate dipped mini Christmas trees are a dark-chocolate and ginger flavour, and the cinnamon & chocolate roll-up biscuits are an adaptation of my lightly spiced gingerbread cookies. 

Here's how: 

Cinnamon & Chocolate Roll-up Cookies:

Light Gingerbread Cookie Dough
Recipe by Tea, Cake and Create

125g butter, at room temp. 
150g light brown sugar 
1-2 tsp ground ginger (depending on how "light" gingery you like it!)
1 tsp  ground cinnamon
1 tbs golden syrup
1 XL eggs 
310g flour
1 tsp vanilla extract  
1/4 tsp salt

For sprinkling , mix together the following:
1/2 cup light brown sugar + extra
2 tbs ground cinnamon
1/3 cup finely grated dark chocolate 
1 tsp orange zest (optional) 


Cream together the butter, sugar, spices and golden syrup. 
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating on low speed. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. 
Add the vanilla. 
Sift in the flour and salt. Mix until just clumping, then form into a ball by hand. 
Place in cling-wrap, and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight. 

Remove from the fridge, and thaw for approximately 1 hour (depending on ambient temperature), until the dough has softened enough to roll out. 
Use half of the dough at a time to make it easier. 
Roll out the dough and trim into a neat rectangle  (approx 3mm thick).

Sprinkle with the sprinkling mix. 

Working from a long edge, carefully roll the dough into a long cylinder. 

Roll the outside of this cylinder in some extra brown sugar. 

Cover with cling-wrap and refrigerate for an hour. 
Slice the chilled dough along the length of the cylinder, into 5-7mm thick rounds. 

Lay the individual cookies flat on a baking tray and bake at 180'C for approx 8-10min or until just starting to turn golden brown.  

Allow to cool before moving off the baking tray.
Cool completely before packing away into jars or containers.  

Of course you will have to sample a few before they all go into the jars! 

Happy baking! 


Sunday, 10 December 2017

Wet-on-Wet Snowflake Cookies

Are you ready for another marbled Christmas cookie tutorial? Two in one week?!
Well, I could keep this one until next year, but I'm sure I'll have something else to share by then, so it's now or never!

This idea crept into my mind that I should do an end-of-year cookie for all the kids in my son and daughter's classes at school.
And despite being overwhelmingly pretty busy this past week, once the idea took hold it was impossible to shake.
So I decided on a simple snowflake cookie:

Inspired by a Wilton design

Once they were baked, I thought - uh, oh ... not so simple.
But actually, in the end they were.

The beauty of a scallop-edged snowflake is that outlining them is quite free-form and doesn't need to be precise. (A perfectly round circle is much harder!)

Once outlined, I flooded and did some simple colour-flow / wet-on-wet techniques to finish them off.

Here's a step-by-step guide:

Wet-on-Wet Snowflake Cookies

  1. Outline with detail-consistency royal icing. 
  2. Flood a thick outline with flood-consistency royal icing in white.
  3. Repeat with a thick outline of pale blue. 
  4. Then with a deeper blue / aqua.
  5. Finish with more white flood-consistency icing in the centre. 
  6. Use a cocktail stick or scribe-tool to drag the icing outwards from the centre of the snowflake to the tips of the spokes of the snowflake. 
  7. Then pull the icing inwards from the V in between the spokes. 
  8. Then end result will be a delicate star-like shape in the centre of the snowflake. 
  9. Experiment with different arrangements of colours and different directions of pull.  

They're not perfect, but they do have a natural-looking appeal... and were perfectly-well received!

The cookie dough used was this chocolate and ginger recipe.

Happy decorating!


Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Marbled Christmas Bauble Cookie

Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without a marbled bauble cookie!
While I was taking pictures for this tutorial, it crossed my mind that it was possibly a bit repetitious of a post I did a year or so ago. But when I looked it up, it was actually a post from back in 2013!
(Find it here: marbled cookie tutorial. ) Four whole years -  high time for another one!
And anyway, this marbled bauble has a slightly different look, inspired by a cookie that caught my eye in a DeAgostini Cake Decorating magazine.

Marbled Bauble Cookie, (Christmas 2017!)

  • Outline then flood your ball bauble cookie with red royal icing.
  • Pipe lines of white and green in flood-consistency icing. 
  • Use a cocktail stick or a scribe tool to drag through the icing in alternating directions - first up, then down as in the pictures below. Try make it symmetrical so that you start and end on an upward pull. 
  • Add a few gold dragees while the icing is still wet. 
  • (Don't forget to ice that little cap on top!)  
  • Leave the cookie to dry completely before packaging. 

My favourite cookie cutter of this set? The Father Christmas face. Don't see it there? That's because I turned it into an owl! 

And of course a plaque - always love a plague for all that versatility it offers. 

Happy decorating!