Sunday, 29 January 2012

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

Is there any greater combination than peanut butter and chocolate? If there is, I haven't found it yet. These are super quick to make but taste amazing - another one that I regularly get requests for from colleagues at the office. People never seem to get tired of them.


3/4 cup raw sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 pkg white chocolate chips
1/2 pkg chocolate chips
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup butter softened
1 cup chunky peanut butter
2 slightly beaten eggs
2 tsp vanilla


1.   Preheat Oven 180 degrees Celsius. Cream butter and sugars, beat in eggs and vanilla. Combine rest of ingredients and add to creamed mixture .

2. Roll tablespoon fulls of mixture on a baking tray covered with baking paper, pressing down slightly. Make sure to leave around 5 centimetres between each cookie - they WILL spread.
Bake for around 9-12 minutes, until golden. Cool on sheet for a couple minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Peach Melba Slice

Okay, I'll willingly admit that until about a week ago I had no idea what "Peach Melba" was. After some quick googling I learned that Peach Melba is a dessert that pairs peach and raspberry - this isn't a traditional Peach Melba (usually a mix of the two lightly cooked with some ice cream or something along those lines) - but the flavours are perfect and since I made this last week it has been requested 3 times. I had a peach tree growing outside that I used at first and once that was exhausted I bought some from the supermarket - both were good. Give it a go - great for 'take a place' functions or for the office or just for morning tea.

250g pack unsalted butter
100g caster sugar
200g brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 large eggs
200g self-raising flour
75g almonds
4-5 just ripe peaches, stoned, halved, then each half cut into 3
A few handfuls of frozen raspberries (you can use fresh too but they are generally more expensive!)
1 tbsp icing sugar, to finish

1. Butter and line a tray or small roasting tin, about 20 x 30cm. Heat oven to 180C. Gently melt the butter in a large saucepan (over low heat), cool for 5 mins. While you are waiting for it to cool, coarsely grind the almonds in a food processor, remove about a handful while they are barely chopped and reserve (for use later). Continue to process the almonds until they resemble coarse almond meal.

2. Add the sugar to the melted butter, beat lightly and then add vanilla and eggs (if you add the eggs to the butter when it is still hot the egg may cook – so don't cut corners!! Beat the mixture until smooth with a fork. Stir in the flour, the coarse almond meal (that you made in the processor) and ¼ tsp salt.

3. Tip the mix into the tin, then lay the peach slices evenly on top - that way each square of cake will have a bite of fruit (I like to use a lot of peach so I almost completely cover the surface with peaches). Scatter the raspberries (still frozen is fine) and the reserved coarsely chopped almonds over, then bake for 1 hr-1 hr 10 mins, covering with foil after 40 mins. Cool in the tin for 20 mins, then lift out onto a cooling rack. Once cold, lightly sift icing sugar over the slice (again, if you don't wait for the slice to cool the icing sugar will melt and become invisible) and then cut into squares.

Mini Spinach and Ricotta Filo Pies

Okay, clearly I have an obsession with mini things - mini quiches, mini pies... but these are the best - flaky filo pastry, cheesy and super healthy - lots of delicious spinach. 

These are also very easy to make. Should be eaten right away but can be kept at a stretch for around 3-4 days in the fridge. Re-heating in an over would work best but I've used a microwave at the office and while the pastry lost a bit of its crispiness - the overall package was still delicious. Give them a go!


2 bunches (about 600g each) English spinach, leaves picked, washed, dried (or silverbeet if it is more easily available - that is what I usually use)
200g reduced-fat ricotta
60g reduced-fat feta, crumbled
Handful of chedder cheese
3 eggs
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
20 sheets filo pastry
olive oil spray


1.       Preheat oven to 190°C. Chop the spinach into 5 cm sections. Cover the bottom of a large saucepan with water and put the spinach in over the top. Cover and place over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-7 minutes or until spinach wilts. Drain and set aside for 20 minutes to cool. Use your hands to squeeze out as much excess liquid as possible. Place in a large bowl.

2.    Add the ricotta and feta to the spinach and stir to combine. Mix in the eggs and the chedder. Season with salt and pepper.

3.       Place filo sheets on a clean work surface. Lay the filo sheets out on a cutting board and carefully cut them using a sharp knife into squares approximately 10 cm x 10 cm. Peel each layer off and spray on one side with oil spray. Replace one on top of the other again then press between 8-10 layers together into a 12 hole muffin tin leaving corners of the squares lying flat over the edges of the muffin cups. Repeat until all muffin cups are lined with pastry. Make sure to reserve 3 piles of around 10 layers each. Cut these piles into four. Divide the spinach mixture between the pastry cups. Place smaller piles of filo on top of each filled pastry cup. Fold the corners of the pastry liners over the top and press lightly so they don't unfold. Spray with oil.

4.       Bake in the preheated oven until golden brown and puffed (check every 15-20 minutes. Remove from over and use a fork to carefully transfer pies to serving plates and serve immediately.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Mini Cheesy Leek and Bacon Quiches

I love quiches. Once you have the technique down they are a snap to make but are oh-so-delicious and so impressive to friends and colleagues who have yet to master them. 

My mum loves it when I come home to visit because she knows it will result in batches and batches of these mini quiches (or large ones for that matter - she is unfussy). 

I pieced together this recipe over time but as with all of my recipes - I am all for creative variations. This one uses a buttery, melt-in-your-mouth shortcrust pastry wrapped around a cheesy leek and bacon filling. They are great for morning teas at work or for a deliciously decadent snack - just pop them in the microwave for 30 seconds and enjoy.

Mini Cheesy Leek and Bacon Quiches


For the pastry:

3 cups flour
250g (5oz) butter
3-5 tablespoons iced water

For the filling:
1 tbsp butter
2 leeks
4 rashers bacon
4 eggs
1/2 cup thickened cream
2 cups grated tasty cheese


Process the flour and butter in a food processor until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs

While the motor is running, add enough iced water to form a smooth dough.

Knead very lightly, them wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30minutes. For mini quiches, take small ball of pastry and roll them out into small rounds. Gentry place in muffin tins or small pie tins (I use muffin tins and they work a treat!) Back in a 180 degree Celsius oven for 15 minutes.

**** If you are making a large quiche, roll the pastry out on a lightly-floured surface until 3mm (1/8in) thick. I roll the pastry out between two sheets of baking paper to avoid sticking (to the rolling pin or the counter!) and it makes the transfer to the pie dish much easier. Top the pastry lined pie dish with a piece of non-stick baking paper, and weigh down with beans or rice (do not attempt to cook and eat the beans after use as blind baking weights - keep them in an airtight jar or container and use them again next time you make pastry). Bake in an oven preheated at 180C for ten minutes. Remove the weights and paper, and bake for another 5 minutes or until the pastry is golden.****

While the pastry is blind baking, prepare the filling. Chop the leaks into rounds or short strips. Dice the bacon. Heat the butter over medium heat (making sure not to burn it) add the leeks and sauté briefly, add the bacon cook until both the leeks and bacon are soft and smell so good you'll want to eat it all on its own. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.

Crack eggs into a large mixing bowl and whisk lightly. Whisk in cream and then add cheese and leek and bacon mixture. 

Spoon carefully into pastry cases. Bake for between 20-40 minutes (I find it can vary greatly from oven to oven) until the filling is puffed up a little and completely set - i.e. when you give them a juggle you can't see any liquid and movement is minimal.

Remove from oven and using a butter knife or fork gently ease them out of the muffin trays and leave to rest on a cooling rack. Store in the fridge and reheat in the microwave. Can last up to 3 - 4 days in the fridge.

Makes 12 or so.

*** Feel free to mix and match your filling - for vegetarians I choose mushrooms and leeks with cheese topped with tomato slices, but almost any mix of vegetables can work in a quiche. I find cheese is the key ingredient - so scrumptious.

Warm Chocolate Berry Ice Cream Sandwiches

I came up with this one half way through a dinner party last night - although I had spent the week preparing and planning the mains and all my side dishes, I ran out of steam when it came to planning the hero of my dinner party: dessert. Needless to say, as dug into my curry banquet, I remembered I had fresh strawberries in the fridge, a recently baked batch of soft and chewy chocolate biscuits and a pint of blueberry swirl ice cream.

The results of this were amazing and incredibly easy and quick to bring together. 

Chocolate, Blueberry Swirl Ice Cream Sandwiches with Fresh Strawberries and Ganache  


For the biscuits
  • 1 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup raw sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup baking cocoa
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped dark chocolate or chocolate buttons

For the Ganache
200g dark chocolate*
125 ml thickened Cream
50g butter

Blueberry ice cream
Fresh strawberries


The dessert without the ganache - still incredible.
In a mixing bowl, beat slightly softened butter with sugar using a fork - it wont take long if the butter is soft (NOT melted). 

Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. 

Beat in vanilla. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture. Lastly, add chopped chocolate 

Refrigerate if necessary until easy to handle. Roll into balls approximately 3.5cm in diameter. 

Place approximately 5 cm apart on a baking paper-lined baking tray. Flatten slightly. 

Bake at 180 degrees centigrade for 8-10 minutes or until the edges are firm. Remove to wire racks carefully using a flat egg slice, they will be easily bendable and slightly crumbly until they have set completely on the rack.

Allow to cook completely.

Place cream in a small saucepan over low heat. Add butter and chocolate. Stir constantly to mix melting chocolate and butter into cream until completely mixed.

Place in heatproof bowl and refrigerate until desired consistency is reached. I like it to be a pouring consistency while still having a nice decadent richness and thickness to it. This may take several hours - but keep your eye on it where possible - I left mine in the fridge once overnight and it went almost rock solid - very difficult to pour or spread.

Slice strawberries into thin slices (however you like). These can be refrigerated for a few hours if you want to prepare beforehand. 

When the time comes (i.e. as you are packing the plates from the main course) assemble the dessert.

Heat each cookie (or several at a time) for 30 seconds in your microwave. This will allow them to soften up and the chocolate chips to melt. Carefully scoop some blueberry ice cream and place on the top of one cookie. Arrange strawberry pieces on top. Pour some ganache over the top - but don't overdo it, this dessert packs a sweet punch all on its own.

Serve. Makes between 12-24 depending on how generous you would like to be.

*I used homebrand dark cooking chocolate and it worked a treat - but obviously good quality ingredients can turn a delicious dish into something extraordinary.

My husband loved it so much he asked for it again for breakfast (!)
I simply omitted the strawberries (fresh out) and ganache -
 he still went nuts for it.
**This recipe can be altered according to your imagination - I can picture peanut chocolate ice cream sunday-esque variations using peanut chocolate chip cookies and chocolate / butterscotch ice cream and chopped roasted peanuts, different berry variations, a banana chocolate creation... the list is only limited to what you can mix and match!

***The dessert works almost as well without the ganache and is much more of a "let me rustle something up" last minute creation without it - so just leave it out if you are in a rush!