Archive for the ‘random’ Category


Brandy Snap Ice-Cream

May 4, 2009


As I mentioned in my last post, we’ve been experimenting with brandy snap ice-cream. This stems from a) the introduction of an ice-cream maker to our kitchen a few months ago and b) the discovery of a commercially produced gourmet brandy snap ice-cream (by the Gourmet Ice Cream Co), which, while utterly delicious comes in tiny 500ml containers and is far too expensive for the humble student budget.

We used a recipe from The Perfect Scoop, which Hamish gave me for Christmas and which we have already used quite a lot (11 recipes followed properly, including the toasted coconut ice-cream, which was so good we made three more batches to share with the 20 people at Hamish’s recent birthday). We figured for the brandy snap flavour we basically just needed a bit of golden syrup and ginger, so looked for a recipe with a liquid sugar component to convert. Our first attempt was from a maple walnut recipe, but (though it was tasty, don’t get me wrong!) there was 3/4 cup of golden syrup in it, which made it a little too sweet. So this time we used a recipe for panforte ice-cream. Panforte is an Italian cake with honey, spices, almonds and candied orange peel – so we used golden syrup instead of honey, ginger instead of the other spices suggested, and replaced almonds and orange peel with crushed brandy snaps. Voila!


Brandy Snap Ice-cream

For the brandy snaps:
125g butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup golden syrup
1 cup flour
1 tsp ground ginger
For the ice-cream:
125ml full-fat milk
625ml cream
2/3 cup/130g sugar
2 tsp ground ginger
4 large egg yolks
3 Tbsp golden syrup

To make the brandy snaps:
Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius. Cream butter and sugar, add golden syrup, then mix in flour and ginger.

Drop mixture onto a greased tray. Use a tablespoon for each snap, and try to spread the mixture a little (but don’t make holes). Since they are going to be broken up and added to ice-cream it doesn’t matter too much, but you will only need about half the mixture for the ice-cream – so I recommend making the rest into baskets or discs to serve with your ice-cream.

Bake for about 8 minutes or until golden. To shape (if desired), cool until firm enough to move without breaking but still malleable. To make brandy snaps wrap around a handle or something else round; to make baskets drape over the base of a cup or mug.

To make ice-cream:
Warm the milk, 125ml of the cream, sugar and ginger in a medium saucepan. Pour the remaining cream into a large bowl, set a strainer/sieve over the top, and set aside. Whisk the egg yolks in another bowl. When the milk is warm, gradually pour over the yolks, whisking constantly (this is to gradually warm the yolks and prevent them going lumpy).

Pour theΒ  egg mixture back into the saucepan, and stir constantly over a medium heat, scraping the bottom as you go, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Strain the mixture into the cream, then warm the golden syrup and stir it in. Chill the mixture thoroughly (at least 4 hours, cheating makes sloppy ice-cream!) then churn in your ice-cream maker. Add broken brandy snap pieces (about 1 cup, give or take) right at the end of churning. If you don’t have an ice cream maker, put the ice-cream in the freezer in a bowl and stir vigorously with a fork every half hour until it starts to firm up. This won’t make quite as creamy an ice-cream but it will still taste delicious!

Supposedly, fresh ice-cream only lasts well for about a fortnight in the freezer – I’ve never actually had any around long enough to text this, though!


Not Quite Nigella’s Ultimate Chocolate Cake round-up

December 17, 2008

A little while ago I made a ridiculously tall chocolate cake for a challenge run by one of my favourite food bloggers, Not Quite Nigella. She’s now taking votes for the best in show, so if you want to gaze upon some chocolate cakes, of many luscious varieties, go vote for me now! (You don’t have to vote for me, of course, but I’d rather you did!)


Get your choccy Christmas cake orders in!

December 14, 2008

Just a reminder to get your chocolate Christmas cake orders in – deadline for all orders is Wednesday the 17th, 5pm. πŸ™‚ (although I will consider all last-minute requests, I make no guarantees past then). Also, I will deliver within Christchurch city for FREE if there are three or more cakes to any given address – so if you can convince a couple of workmates to order as well, for example. πŸ™‚

Hopefully will have some pretty pictures for you all soon, but have been away for the weekend and have a couple of days of real work to try to scrape in some rent money before my baking frenzy begins, so nothing for you today, sadly.


Gingerbread Politicians

November 9, 2008

Yesterday was election day in New Zealand, and to make the evening of watching vote-counting a little more interesting we decided some themed snacks were in order.


Hamish’s genius idea was to make gingerbread versions of the main politicians. From left to right we have: Helen Clark (Labour, centre-left, incumbent prime minister); John Key (National, centre-right); Winston Peters (New Zealand First; weird and hard to place party – the ‘No’ placard refers to this incident – it was later discovered that the placard really should have said ‘Yes’); Rodney Hide (Act, far right); and Jeannette Fitzsimons (Greens, far left).


We also made various supporters (not remotely proportionate – the abundance of yellow is purely because I made yellow icing first and we got a bit carried away). Note the two babies – because, as Hamish rightly pointed out, politicians need babies to kiss. We did miss a few semi-significant minor parties – the Maori party being the main one. You should see Michael Cullen, Bill English, Heather Roy and Russel Norman in there too (although they are gingerbread and not necessarily true to life…)

New Zealand has a proportional government system, which means whoever can form a majority government gets to rule – it’s always either Labour or National who get the most votes, but usually they need to form alliances with smaller parties to make numbers up to at least 62 (maximum 122 seats in parliament).


This time round National came out on top with 59 seats – almost a majority by themselves, and adding Act’s five seats makes an easy winners. They’ll also include United Future’s Peter Dunne in their coalition, and apparently will talk to the Maori party regarding an agreement – because the more the merrier – but sadly we ran out time to create Peter Dunne, Tariana Turia and Pita Sharples. Maybe next time?

Oh, and what became of Winston? I think the picture speaks for itself…



Daring Bakers

May 28, 2008

This was my first Daring Bakers challenge – unfortunately I’m a little late posting, due to a rather unwieldy assignment worth 40% that I needed to finish – it just kept growing! However, now that’s out of the way I can share with you the details of… Opera Cake!

I decided to make this for Mother’s Day, so it was a couple of weeks ago that I took over the kitchen to make the various layers.

Firstly, a little about the group. Daring Bakers is a group of bloggers who attempt a challenging recipe each month, and then blog about their experiences. There are over 1000 members (you can view the blogroll here). Each month a member (or members) host a challenge, and although you have the whole month to make the recipe it has to be revealed on a set date towards the end of the month.

This month’s recipe is Opera Cake, which is a layered cake made from Jaconde (a type of sponge), mousse, buttercream, and glaze. It’s traditionally made with predominently chocolate and coffee flavours, but the Daring Bakers challenge was to make a light-coloured cake in honour of Barbara, who hosts the LIVEstrong food event, dedicated to those battling cancer. The Opera Cake challenge was posted by Fran of Apples Peaches Pumpkin Pie, and Shea of Whiskful, along with Lis and Ivonne, who administrate the whole thing.

I enjoyed making the cake, although it was somewhat time-consuming. The jaconde is made with almond meal, and the mousse and glaze with white chocolate, so I decided to complement those flavours with raspberry buttercream.

It was extremely rich, and very tasty – although the slices weren’t too big you didn’t feel like a second piece! (good for the waistline, right?) None of the components were particularly difficult; I was a little worried about the buttercream, as I don’t yet have a candy themometer, but guesswork served me well. Also, I’d recommend doubling the buttercream recipe, as I felt the layers were a bit thin (and it is very tasty!) – and I made it the night before, and tried to beat it back into shape, but it was a little lumpy still – the texture was perfect when I made it, so next time I’ll make it when I want it.

I’d like to try this again, but with milk and/or dark chocolate; I prefer the flavours, and think the richer chocolate might balance the sweetness a little. Also, aesthetically I like contrast – and you can’t even tell where the white chocolate mousse becomes a white chocolate glaze here. πŸ˜‰ Still very tasty, though – thanks, Daring Bakers!

The recipe can be found here, if you’re interested, and be sure to check out the blogroll!


Cupcakes… with a difference!

April 28, 2008

So, I wanted to make something different for dinner tonight… And what better than cupcakes? I mean, they’re tasty, cute, and I have these great new silicone cupcake cups, so I don’t have toΒ  buy papers (the silicone goes in the oven, microwave, freezer, dishwasher… Pretty much anywhere, really!).

The boys were a bit worried when I brought out a plate of cupcakes and announced dinner was ready. However, on closer inspection… They realised the cream cheese frosting has been replaced with mashed spud, and the ‘cupcake’ is actually lentil loaf (like meatloaf but no meat!). Gotcha!

And I have to thank Lorraine, from Not Quite Nigella, for the inspiration for tonight’s meal – check out her version (hers are much prettier than mine!) here.


Tea Party Fare

April 26, 2008

So, to use up a perfectly good public holiday (the 25th of April is Anzac Day in New Zealand and Australia, commemorating our contributions to the wars) and convince other people to dust off their cake tins and get baking, I held a tea party. Here are some of the tasty treats that appeared:

Firstly, essential at all tea parties; cucumber sandwiches! Matthew prepared these, and they were very tasty. Rosie also made a plate, and both were thoroughly devoured (they were the only savoury items on the table)

Amber made these very pretty and yummy fruit kebabs, which were also very well received – it’s definitely a good thing to have some non-baked goods on the table!

Gwen made coffee and walnut cupcakes, which sadly I didn’t get to sample (there was so much food! And believe me, I did make an effort to try it all, much to my chagrin now).

Anna’s contribution was a lemon tea cake, which was very very yummy.

Alex made baklava, which was also very tasty – a huge sugar rush, but soooo good!

One of my contributions was these teeny almond and rose tea cakes, with a rose glaze. I thought they were very tasty, although some people weren’t so appreciative – the almond was quite dominant, so if you’re averse these aren’t the cakes for you!

The almond/rose cake mixture yielded much more batter than I was expecting, so I decided to put my train tin to good use, since I’ve been wanting to test it with a white (i.e. not chocolate) cake. Although I didn’t decorate it properly, I think the train I made last time was better – maybe that’s just my inner chocoholic speaking, though. πŸ˜‰ You’ll also see above my homemade meringues – it’s the first time I’ve ever made meringues, and there was a bit of cracking, but I was very happy with them. They were very chewy, not too much crunch, which is how I like them. And the colours don’t show up very well in the photo, but they’re pale pink and green.

I also made another batch of zucchini cupcakes with cream cheese icing – surely the best way to get your daily veg? πŸ˜‰ And there were many more tasty treats – too many to blog about!

We also had lots of varieties of tea – various herbal fruit flavours, Lady Grey, green tea, and camomile tea all in teabags, plus rose tea and vanilla black tea, which I bought from Teasme at Church Corner and we infused properly. One of the guys who came also brought along his collection of teas, so there was lots of variety, and plenty of pots were brewed!

All in all it was a great afternoon – thanks to everyone who came; I hope you enjoyed it too!