Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Royal Icing

The is officially my shortest blog post ever. A recipe for royal icing, used for piping decorative effects onto cookies, cupcakes and cakes. This icing is great for piping delicate, fine lines and details and sets hard. A little goes a long way - you should be able to decorate at least a dozen cookies with this quantity if not two!

Royal Icing
One egg white
300g icing sugar
Lemon juice

In a bowl beat egg white and icing sugar together on a slow speed. You aren't aiming to create air bubbles in this icing, you simply want to gently combine. Keep beating for 5 minutes then add lemon juice a few drops at a time to create a suitable consistency - for piping thin lines (like on these Halloween cookies) you don't want it to be too runny but if you were 'flooding' cookies - which means to fill the area between lines you want the mix to be runnier so add a little more juice. Practice is the best way to get the consistency right. Keep unused royal icing in the fridge covered with cling-wrap pressed directly onto the surface of the icing to keep it from drying out.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Flavours Column: Spooky Gingerdead Men

In the spirit of Halloween I decided to get a little spooky recently and whip up some Gingerdead Men. Actually they are more of a Gingerdead Family, cat included. Which, given that just days after I made these cookies we lost a beloved cat member of the family, sits a little uncomfortably now. I wish it wasn't the case but alas, we can't turn back time. R.I.P. Milly-Moo. I hope your mischevious, stubborn, seriously cute and chunky cat spirit comes to visit us this Halloween. We'd offer you Whiska's Temptations as treats. And you would probably play a trick on us. Just like old times. 

Avoid the tricks on All Hallow's Eve and offer costumed kids these creepy cookies instead. They are so much more impressive than store-bought candy! 

Gingerdead Men 
Published in the Bay of Plenty Times, Weds 23rd Oct 2013

Halloween is on the horizon so this week I’m sharing a fun recipe for ‘Gingerdead’ Men. I picked up the Gingerdead Man cookie cutter when I was overseas but you can find a great selection of Halloween themed cutters at most kitchen stores. Bats, cats, pumpkins, witches, ghosts, your Halloween cookie dreams are covered! 

These cookies make perfect treats for the spooky little trick-or-treaters that come knocking on October 31st. I wish we embraced Halloween more in New Zealand. There’s no harm in acknowledging the ‘dark side’ a little and it encourages kids to use their imaginations. My nephew and niece in America have their costumes ready, as does my brother’s dog Tuesday who will be making her Halloween debut as Wonder Woman (or maybe Wonder Dog).

There are tonnes of ideas for Halloween treats online – Pinterest alone is enough to keep any creative Halloween crafter or baker happy. Be inspired, get spooky and have some fun. 

125g butter 
125g brown sugar 
75g white sugar 
½ cup golden syrup 
425g flour 
2 teaspoons ginger 
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon 
1 teaspoon allspice 
40ml milk 
1 teaspoon baking soda 

Melt butter, sugars and golden syrup in a saucepan. Bring to the boil and keep boiling for a few minutes, stirring as it bubbles away. Sift flour and spices together into a bowl. Pour the melted butter mix over the dry ingredients and stir to combine. Mix milk and baking soda together and stir into the dough. The dough will be warm so rest it, covered with cling-wrap, for 10mins in the fridge. Heat the oven to 170°C. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface or between two sheets of baking paper until 4mm thick. Cut out shapes and bake for 10 minutes. Cool and decorate with royal icing.

Weekly Tip: Roll dough between two sheets of baking paper. This creates a non-stick surface making it both easier and less messy. After cutting your shapes peel away excess dough from around your cookies and bake on the paper as is.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

It's time for Jam

Photo: Greta Kenyon Photography

Rhubarb jam. It's also time to tell you about another Kinfolk event which I was very honoured to be co-hosting alongside On My Hand.

The theme for the event was 'Preserving the Season'. This was my first time as a host and for some reason I decided it would be a super great idea to teach everyone how to make jam. Given that I haven't made much jam in my life (because I thought it was hard - it's not; because I thought it was time-consuming - not so much; because I thought it was messy - it is) I don't really know why my mind was saying 'heck yeah, jam!' Especially when the venue for our workshop had no kitchen. No stove top. No sink. No plumbing (when you turned the bathroom tap on water came out of a hole in the kitchen wall. Just straight from a little hole onto the floor). But regardless of these details it was still a beautiful venue.

In a nutshell, I stood in front of 20 guests and showed them how to make jam. I also showed them how to melt holes into a trestle table using cast iron camp burners. Whoops. Someone asked 'why is my pot on a lean?'...turns out those burners aren't designed for making jam on plastic tables. I taught people more than just how to make jam that day. 

Minor incidences aside, I hope everyone enjoyed the event - based on all the wonderful feedback I am pretty confident that they did. The location styling by Shaye from On My Hand was outstanding as usual, the food (also by Shaye - multi-talented lady that she is) was also beautiful and all our guests made for fantastic company! Thank you to Greta Kenyon for ensuring these fun moments are always captured in a positive light (all photos shown are Greta's) and to our sponsors: Hello Paper, Maisy & Grace, George and Mount Wholefoods. Now, let's make some jam.

Photo: Greta Kenyon Photography

Rhubarb & Vanilla Jam 
800g rhubarb stalks, cut into chunks
650g caster sugar
1 vanilla pod, split
35g Jam Setting Mix (or pectin)
zest & juice of one orange
40ml water
juice of half a small lemon

Place all the ingredients, aside from the lemon juice, in a large saucepan and stir to combine. Heat gently, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Add the lemon juice and increase the heat. Boil for 10 minutes, skimming off any of the ‘scum’ that comes to the surface (this is nothing bad, it just doesn’t look pretty in your finished jam).

To test if the jam is ready spoon a teaspoonful onto a small, cold plate. If after a minute or two you can push the jam and it holds its shape it’s ready, if not keep boiling and testing every few minutes.

When the jam is ready pour into hot sterilised jars and seal. To sterilise jars and lids wash and place in the oven for 10mins at 100ÂșC. Store jam in a cool, dark place for up to a year. Opened jam should be stored in the fridge.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Flavours Column: Homemade Crumpets

Who needs supermarket crumpets when you can make these?! 

Okay, yes, sometimes having a packet of ready-made crumpets on hand does satisfy a quick breakfast/snack need, but there’s no reason why you can’t whip up a batch of your own and keep them in the fridge or freezer. 

They are easy to make, don’t require special ingredients or take a lot of time unlike other breads. The only slightly unusual item you need to make these delicious breakfast treats is round metal rings to cook them in. These are easily found in kitchen shops sold as ‘egg rings’ or simply use round cookie cutters like I did. You might find you already have some rattling around in your kitchen drawer (also like I did). 

This recipe makes at least twelve golden brown crumpets and they are just as delicious freshly toasted from the pan as they are hot from the toaster the next day. I ate them with homemade rhubarb jam. And then with honey. And then with marmite. And then with peanut butter. That is literally what I did. But not one after the other. I swear. 

Homemade Crumpets
Published in the Bay of Plenty Times, Weds 16th Oct 2013
Adapted from Paul Hollywood's recipe found here

200g high-grade flour
150g plain flour
2 x 8g sachets of instant yeast
1 teaspoon of honey
350ml warm milk
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
175ml warm water

Mix flours and yeast together (the high grade flour helps give structure to the crumpets’ bubbles). Dissolve honey in the warm milk and beat into the flour with a wooden spoon. Continue beating for a few minutes to create a thick, smooth batter. Cover and rest for 30mins. Mix baking soda and salt into the warm water. Beat into the batter until smooth and rest again for 30mins. Heat a frying pan over medium heat and grease with butter or cooking spray. Grease the inside of the metal rings. Sit the rings in the pan and drop a large spoonful of batter into each. After a few minutes bubbles will appear on the surface, wait another minute then gently flip the crumpets over and cook for another 3 minutes. Crumpets are ready when both sides are golden and they feel springy when pressed.

Weekly Tip: Keep homemade crumpets in the fridge or freezer and drop them into the toaster as needed.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Red Velvet Mousse with Beetroot Powder!

Over the past few weeks I've been helping to develop recipes for a local company called Nutrafresh. This clever company creates all natural, sparkling fruit and vege powders that are great for use in baking and smoothies. As well as a host of other things I'm sure I'll discover over the next little while!

This recipe development gig came to me thanks to my sister who is designing their new packaging - thanks sis! The packaging looks fantastic and I'm really excited for it to come out. 

It's been great fun playing around with these fun products. I created four recipes for their mango, banana and beetroot powders. The recipe that follows is one I absolutely love. It's both easy and delicious - I promise it will satisfy all your mousse cravings! It has a luxurious, rich chocolate flavour infused with brandy and a pretty red hue thanks to the addition of beetroot powder. Yes. Beetroot powder. With not a hint of beetroot flavour to be found (not that I would be opposed to this - but some people might). Beetroot is a friend of the baking world so don't be shy to experiment with it. It's often used in cakes to give colour, sweetness and moisture.

Almost everyone loves Red Velvet Cake and now we can recreate the same amazing taste and look in mousse form. Yum. As Red Velvet Cake is traditionally filled with cream cheese frosting you could make this even more authentically 'red velvet-esque' by spooning a small dollop of sweetened cream cheese on top (simply blend some cream cheese with icing sugar, a squeeze of lemon and a little cream). Or just sprinkle with white chocolate. Either way, it's good!

Red Velvet Mousse
Makes 4 individual portions - or 3 generous ones

80g dark chocolate (I use Whittaker's 50%)
2 eggs, separated
20g butter
1 tablespoon caster sugar
tablespoon brandy*
1 teaspoon Heilala vanilla extract
2 teaspoons Nutrafresh™ Beetroot Powder

Melt the chocolate over a bain marie (or slowly in the microwave), let cool slightly then whisk in the egg yolks and butter. Beat the egg whites and sugar until glossy and stiff. Mix the brandy (*or other liqueur - you could try vodka, chambord or an orange or hazelnut liqueur), vanilla extract and Nutrafresh™ Beetroot Powder. Fold this into the egg whites along with the melted chocolate mix. Pour into serving glasses and chill for at least 2hrs.
Sprinkle with white chocolate shavings or dollop with sweetened cream cheese. Then sit back, dip your spoon in and savour the sweet, chocolatey red goodness that is this mousse.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Flavours Column: Molly's Apricot Scones

This week’s recipe comes from Molly Wizenberg of the blog Orangette.

You know how most of us have a person we look up to and admire? Someone who we don't actually know but whose personality, attitude and approach to life (and in my case, food) just seem to resonate with you? Well, my person is Molly. 

Author of Orangette as well as A Homemade Life (which I highly recommend) and the upcoming Delancey due out in 2014, Molly is also one half of the podcast Spilled Milk and a contributor to numerous food publications such as Bon Appetit

Molly has been blogging about food since 2004. Way back when writing about your life and publishing it online was still a relatively new concept and documenting your every move and sharing it with the world was a rarity. 

What stands out about Molly's writing is her incredible ability to infuse her words with personality and humour, relating recipes back to real life experiences. You don’t just get a recipe - you get a recipe AND a story. Her writing is endearing, funny and very relatable, which is why she has had such success. 

I consider Molly to be one of the OGs of the food blogging world and when she replied to my email requesting permission to share this recipe the inner fan-geek in me squealed just a little in delight. (I'll be keeping the email forever).

Thank you for all the inspiration Molly. For being a real and genuine person who isn't afraid to be herself. And for being so kind as to let me share both this recipe and my admiration of you to the world. 

Considerable gushing will now subside. x

Wholemeal Apricot Scones
Published in the Bay of Plenty Times, Weds 4th Sept 2013
Original recipe can be found here

1 cup plain flour
1 cup wholemeal flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
60g cold unsalted butter, cubed
¼ cup sugar
½ cup diced dried apricots
½ cup milk, plus more for glazing
1 large egg

Heat oven to 210°C and line a tray with baking paper. Whisk flours, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Using your fingertips, rub the cold butter into the flour mixture, until there are no butter lumps bigger than a pea. Whisk in the sugar and dried apricots. Mix the milk and egg together and pour over the flour mixture - stir with a fork to just combine (don’t worry if it doesn’t all come together). Turn the dough and any excess flour out onto the bench and press until it just comes together. As soon as the dough holds, pat into a rough circle about 3.5cm thick and cut into 8 wedges. Brush with milk and bake for 15mins or until golden. Molly suggests serving them warm with butter. I'd have to agree.

*Weekly Tip: When making scones, the colder the butter the better. Try freezing it and grating it directly into the flour.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The most delicious buttercream

When it comes to cupcakes, frosting can make or break. There are three frostings that I use for the cakes and cupcakes I create for Spongedrop – Classic Buttercream, Cream Cheese Frosting and Meringue Buttercream. Each with their own unique flavour and texture.

Classic Buttercream is traditionally used on American style cupcakes. It’s sweet, buttery and provides a classic cupcake ‘experience’ – the perfect combination of light sponge and sweet creamy frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting is Carrot Cake’s accomplice, the two go hand-in-hand and it’s a Kiwi favourite but it also pairs well with other cakes too. It’s creamy and sweet with a mellow tang.

Meringue Buttercream is the most luxurious and one of my all time favourites. Light, velvety smooth and not too sweet, it’s easily flavoured with fruit, chocolate or essence. I love it. Here’s my recipe for this beautiful frosting. It does take more effort but it’s well worth it.

Meringue Buttercream
170g egg whites
375g caster sugar
500g unsalted butter, room temp
Flavouring (vanilla, melted chocolate, lemon juice etc)

Whisk egg whites and caster sugar in a large metal bowl to combine. Place over a pot filled with a small amount of boiling water (creating a double-boiler) and gently heat until the sugar is melted. Whisk often to make sure the egg whites don’t start to cook. It’s an odd theory to heat egg whites without cooking them but it works, trust me. Make sure all sugar granules are melted by rubbing some of the mix between your fingers. Once ready, beat on high speed until the meringue has cooled close to room temperature – it will take at least 10mins. Add the butter a little at a time and keep beating, continuing until all the butter is incorporated. If it’s runny it means your meringue was a little warm when you added the butter – persist with beating and it will soon turn into a beautiful, creamy bowl of the most delicious frosting ever. Add flavouring of your choice.

Weekly Tip: Try using leftover egg yolks to make French Buttercream, this is similar to Meringue Buttercream but has a creamier, richer finish. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Flavours Column: Apple Cider Donuts

These little babies were photographed during the apple orchard shoot that Greta (Greta Kenyon Photography) and Shaye (On My Hand) organised a few months back and I've been working at perfecting the recipe since - that's a lot of donut testing. We spent the afternoon at Ataahua styling and taking photos of apple punch, honey, caramel, donuts and a delicious apple and oat stack that's about due to be featured in the upcoming Magnolia Rouge. Yay! Watch this space for that recipe but in the meantime, make these!

Styling: On My Hand
Photo: Greta Kenyon Photography

Baked Apple Cider Donuts
Published in the Bay of Plenty Times, Weds 24th July 2013

Donuts and apple cider, a genius American combination. These light, doughy, baked donuts are gently spiced and have a good hint of apple tang. They take just 8 minutes to bake and are a great alternative to traditional cakes and cupcakes, with less sugar. I purchased donut pans from Culinary Council in Gate Pa (my go-to place for anything kitchen related) and they produced perfect round donuts. If you don’t want to be the proud owner of donut pans like I am, use a muffin pan instead although I don’t think the end result will have quite the same donut charm. These are great as is and even better warmed with a scoop of vanilla ice cream! 

Thanks to On My Hand - Props, Styling & Flora for the styling (without Shaye most of my photos would look incredibly average) and to Greta Kenyon Photography for capturing my sweet treats so beautifully.

1 ½ cups Apple Cider (I used Cider House Scrumpy)
75g wholemeal flour
75g cake flour*
½ teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon allspice
1 egg
70ml canola or coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
50g white sugar
25g brown sugar

Boil the apple cider in a pot over high heat until it reduces down to half a cup (around 10mins) then leave to cool. Preheat oven to 200°C and grease your donut pan. Whisk all the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Whisk the egg, oil, vanilla and sugars together – add the reduced cider once it’s cool. Pour wet ingredients over the dry and mix until just combined. Spoon the mixture into a piping bag and pipe into the donut pan (if you don’t have a piping bag use a zip-lock bag and snip the corner), filling the donut holes about 2/3 full. This recipe yields around 8 donuts. Bake for 6-8mins, until they spring back when touched. While the donuts are still hot toss them in a bowl of cinnamon sugar (made by mixing white sugar with cinnamon).

*Weekly Tip: Cake flour gives a lighter, softer texture. Make your own cake flour for this recipe by sifting 60g plain flour with 15g cornflour.  

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Flavours Column: Peanut Butter Pie!

Aaaagh. This pie is really really good. I didn't think peanut butter as a dessert flavour was going to be my thing. Turns out it is. I'm pretty sure this pie would be almost everyone's thing at dessert. Except if you're allergic to peanuts, then I'd recommend you avoid it. Bummer.

Photo: Swift & Click

Peanut Butter Pie
(Published in the Bay of Plenty Times, Weds 3rd July 2013)

It’s Independence Day tomorrow and as I have family in America, including an adorable niece and nephew who are growing up with cute American accents, I thought we’d make July ‘American inspired’ dessert month! I’m all for embracing new food cultures and even though we have plenty of American themed burger joints to indulge ourselves in, there is much more to American cuisine than the golden arches. The desserts over the next weeks only touch on this so I encourage you to do your own foodie research.

Our first American dessert is this indulgent Peanut Butter Pie. It tastes like a Snickers bar - rich, creamy, gooey, peanutty. Most Peanut Butter Pie recipes online use ‘Cool Whip’ (whipped frosting) as an ingredient but I’m happy to say that this one doesn’t. Eating Cool Whip is a little like eating plastic. Eating this pie, thankfully, is not. 

Thanks to Rach from Swift & Click for the photos!

Photo: Swift & Click

Peanut Butter Pie
(Adapted from Parsley, Sage & Sweet)

2 packs Oreo Cookies
6 TBSP melted butter
125g milk chocolate
1/3 cup chopped peanuts
220ml cream
250g Philadelphia cream cheese
1 cup creamy peanut butter
120g icing sugar
1 x 380g can caramel condensed milk
Squeeze of lemon juice

Throw the Oreos into a food processor and whiz to crush. Pour in the melted butter and whizz again. Press into the bottom and sides of a 23cm cake tin to form the crust. Melt the chocolate and spread over the base, sprinkle with nuts and chill in the fridge. Whip the cream and keep chilled. Beat the cream cheese and peanut butter until combined. Beat in the icing sugar then the caramel condensed milk and lemon juice, beat until smooth. Mix in a third of the whipped cream then fold in the rest. Pour into the base and chill for at least 2hrs or overnight. To make serving easier, freeze the pie for 30mins before slicing. Top with extra whipped cream, nuts and drizzled chocolate.

Weekly Tip: Make your own caramel by boiling an unopened can of regular condensed milk in a pot of water for 2.5 hours. Make sure the can is always covered by water (otherwise it might explode - hot caramel all over the kitchen = not a good thing!) and cool before opening.   

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Flavours Column: Fudge that's good for you

I know that's a big statement but I'm pretty sure I'm right. Right? As mentioned in my column (see below) I've done a little research into the ingredients in this recipe to save you the hard work. It was entirely internet based research so don't take it for gospel! But I did try to be thorough. I like to know why I'm adding ingredients to things, if not just for flavour or because they are a recipe necessity.

Finding ways to make more traditional recipes healthier is having a massive surge in popularity at the moment so this fudge is my nod to that. I am a baker however and have a business based on cake so can't be too harsh a critic against sugar, flour, butter and all these things that have been part of our lives (as most of us know it) for, basically, ever. I am all about moderation and try to eat a healthy diet outside of the cake universe I dwell in the majority of the time. And I am completely open to trying new ingredients and making entirely healthy fudge. Especially one that tastes this good.

Okay, so here's the breakdown of the ingredients and my personal view on them.

Walnuts & Almonds
I think we all know these are good for us. They are full of nutrients, protein and essential fatty acids. Eating walnuts apparently improves the sperm quality of healthy young men. I didn't know that until now. I'm guessing you probably didn't either. They are good for your heart, your brain, your skin. That's my understanding. I believe nuts are good.

Raw Cacao Powder
My research into this hasn't convinced me that I need to spend $15 on a small bag of 'raw cacao'. The way I see it, 'raw cacao' comes from the exact same 'cacao' bean that cocoa comes from. The cacao bean being the basis of chocolate. It seems that it may be down to how the cocoa/'cacao' is treated/processed that matters, yet no one website can really firm that up for me. Possibly they are one and the same and the 'raw cacao' is a marketing ploy. I'm just saying 'possibly'. If you don't want to use raw cacao just use regular cocoa.

Medjool Dates
I like these based on their name alone. Dates are the oldest cultivated fruit and medjool dates can usually be found in the fresh fruit section of your supermarket. They are bigger and softer than standard dates you find on the shelf. Dates contain essential nutrients, are high in potassium and have a low-mid GI meaning they release energy slowly as opposed to giving you a sugar 'rush'. They are needed in this recipe to add sweetness and to bind the ingredients. 

If you are gluten free or coeliac it's best to leave these out as they may not be 100% gluten free. Oats are a whole grain said to reduce the risk of heart disease and improve immune defences. They digest slowly keeping you fuller for longer and, similar to Medjool dates, won't give you a spike in blood sugar levels. Oats are good and just writing this made me want some.

Coconut & Coconut Oil
Another health food ingredient that is everywhere at the moment is coconut oil. For many years experts said it was bad for us, now they have changed their minds. Apparently it can do EVERYTHING. I'm not joking, the number of things listed online that this oil can do is ridiculous! From giving you glowing skin and shiny hair, making you lose abdominal fat, lowering bad cholesterol and increasing good, aiding digestion, boosting your immune system and cleaning your entire house. I've used it as a dairy substitute in baking with good results. I'm leaning towards liking this product, with just a dash of skepticism. 

Chia Seeds
These little black or white seeds don't taste like much so are easily added to almost anything. Sprinkle them on a salad, put them in bread, add to your cereal etc. They swell up when they come in contact with liquid and turn into a gel. It's cool. You can make them into a pudding, like sago. They date back to Mayan and Aztec cultures. 'Chia' means 'strength' and they are eaten for their energy boosting qualities. For such a little seed it sounds like they have a lot to give including omega-3 fatty acids, carbohydrates, protein, fibre, antioxidants and calcium. I like them.

Cinnamon is said to increase your metabolism. Even if only for a short time I am all for this. It's also said to help control your blood sugar levels. I'm a big fan.

Pure Maple Syrup
Please don't buy the 'maple-flavoured' syrup. Just don't. Have honey instead if you don't want to pay for pure maple syrup. Thank you. Real maple syrup actually comes from the sap of the maple tree, so it's less refined than white sugar and contains more nutrients. It is however, still a sugar (containing sucrose, glucose and fructose), albeit with a slightly lower GI, and is high in calories. It is sweeter than sugar therefore you can get away with using less. 

Just a reminder, these are my opinions only and are based on very top-line research. I like to maintain a healthy level of skepticism towards most things. If you have an opinion on any of the above feel free to share it in the comments below but please be nice :) Otherwise, make this fudge and enjoy it!!

Fudge that's good for you
Published in the Bay of Plenty Times, Weds 19th June 2013

Currently in my cupboard is an excess of fresh walnuts that my mum and nana very kindly foraged for me a few weeks ago. I’ve been shelling them, which has led to a newfound appreciation for the work that goes into the bags of nuts we buy at the supermarket! Don’t get me wrong; I’m not under the impression these nuts are shelled by hand, but still!

This week’s recipe is for Health Spa Fudge. Not the greatest name, but it is great for you. It’s FULL of energy, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. But most importantly it tastes AMAZING. It’s intensely cocoa-ey, has a soft, slightly crunchy texture and will satisfy any chocoholic.

I used organic ingredients but please don’t fret about this if it’s out of your budget, you can substitute standard products and still enjoy many of the health benefits. Also, if you don’t have things like chia seeds simply leave them out and you can swap raw cacao powder for standard cocoa (which is already high in antioxidants). This fudge is vegan, dairy free and, if you omit the oats, gluten free. Don’t let this put you off! Try this fudge, you won’t be disappointed.

Health Spa Fudge
1 cup walnuts
1 cup whole almonds
½ cup raw cacao powder
10 medjool dates, pitted
½ cup oats
1 cup desiccated coconut
1 TBSP chia seeds
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
3 TBSP coconut oil
1 TBSP real maple syrup

½ cup real maple syrup
¼ cup coconut oil, softened
½ cup raw cacao powder

Place walnuts, almonds, cacao powder, pitted dates and oats (if using) into a food processor. Whizz up until finely ground. Add the coconut, chia seeds, cinnamon, coconut oil and maple syrup and whizz again until you have a fudgy consistency. Add a splash of water, or more maple syrup, if it’s too dry. Once you have a firm, fudgy consistency, line a baking tin and press the fudge into the tin. To make the ganache, whiz the maple syrup, coconut oil and cacao powder together. Smear onto the fudge and chill in the fridge for an hour to set.

Weekly Tip: Not all maple syrup is created equal. Buy the best you can but please don’t use ‘maple flavoured’ syrup. It’s not maple syrup.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Flavours Column: Raspberry Meringues

Today a suitably witty, articulate and clever (as my writing so often is) introduction to this post is eluding me. I'm sorry. Instead we'll stick with the classic...  'insert your name' meet Raspberry Meringues. Raspberry Meringues meet 'insert your name'. I hope you like each other. x

P.S. I was being facetious about my writing. Just in case you couldn't tell.

Raspberry Meringues
(Published in the Bay of Plenty Times, Weds 12 June 2013)

I posted a sneak peak photograph of this recipe on my Instagram account last week and got a lot of requests for the recipe! Meringues make a great dessert and always impress. 

I love the rough, whippy shape of these meringues that are simply dolloped onto the tray to bake. If you prefer a more refined meringue feel free to pipe them using a round or star shaped nozzle. 

The raspberry flavour comes from using freeze dried fruit powder. I used Nutrafresh™ Sparkling Raspberry Powder. These powders add a true, intense fruit flavour to desserts (which is only natural given they contain 100% fruit). You can pick them up in gourmet food stores such as Nosh, which stock the Fresh As brand, and Simplifood on Maunganui Rd. 

If you’ve never made meringues before don’t be afraid! This recipe hasn’t failed me yet. The result is light, crisp, puffy meringues. Perfect served with berries and cream. 

180g egg whites (roughly 5 eggs) 
400g caster sugar 
15g Nutrafresh™ Sparkling Raspberry Powder 
Frozen raspberries to paint & serve 

Preheat oven to 100°C. This is a Swiss meringue, meaning the egg whites and caster sugar are warmed over a bain-marie. Swiss meringue is my favourite type (there are also French and Italian types) as it’s very reliable. Bring a small amount of water to a simmer in a pot. Place a bowl containing the sugar and egg whites over the pot of simmering water and whisk gently until the sugar is completely melted. Remove from the heat and beat until you have a glossy white, fluffy meringue. Add the fruit powder and beat to combine. Pipe or dollop blobs onto trays lined with baking paper. Bake for 1 hour then turn the oven off leaving the meringues inside to continue drying for at least two hours (even better, overnight). To create the raspberry swirl look, puree raspberries and paint onto the dried meringues. Pop painted meringues back into the oven for 10mins to dry. 

Weekly Tip: Experiment with the fruit powders. They can be used in almost any recipe where you want to enhance the fruit flavour. There's even a beetroot powder which I've earmarked for macarons!

Grateful for good friends. Kinfolk Workshop

Good friends have given me some great opportunities in life and created many great moments. This was one to add to that list. On Sunday 26th May, the first New Zealand Kinfolk workshop was held at Willowdene Boutique Bed and Breakfast, hosted by On My Hand and Greta Kenyon Photography.

Kinfolk is a quarterly magazine and online community, born in Portland Oregon, that delivers entertainment ideas for simple ways to spend time together. Described as "a resource of enticing and meaningful activities" it's a collaboration of personal ideas that are focussed on creating a balanced, intentional lifestyle. It's about living simply and enriching life with an awareness of our environment and surrounds. Things that are often taken for granted!

Every month 'Kinfolk Community Gatherings' are held around the world by hosts selected for their shared ethos. Whether it be gardening, cooking, beekeeping or butchering, Kinfolk workshops are a way to get back to the basics, engage in a new skill and gain a refreshed perspective and appreciation of our little piece of the world.

The 'Freshen Up' workshop, held by Greta and Shaye, was a guide to creating homemade, chemical-free cleaning products out of everyday pantry items and a few little easy-to-source extras. Attended by a group of very enthusiastic women we spent the afternoon learning how to make beautiful, natural hand soaps and room mists. Shaye demonstrated her passion for making use of nature's own resources as she brewed soap nuts over the stove and blended essential oils while Greta captured the beauty of the event as seen in these photos.

My little input to the day was to ensure the girls were well fed. Alongside a selection from Informal Organic Tea (thanks Tim!) guests were treated to delicate rosewater sponge cakes, lavender biscuits and beetroot, goats cheese and walnut tarts.

Walking away with newfound knowledge and skills, new friends and not to mention our own bespoke bottles of hand soap and room mist, gifts from ecostore and the Waiheke Soap Company, I know we all left as very happy, enriched girls!

If you're interested in attending a Kinfolk workshop please keep an eye on the pages of Shaye and Greta as there are already upcoming events in the pipeline.

Greta, Shaye and Emily from Wild & Grace have all documented their own experience of the day on their sites if you'd like to read more. Links are here, here and here.

Thanks Shaye & Greta for asking me to be a part of this event. Your support and friendship since starting my business has been incredible. x