Archive for ‘Desserts’

December 18, 2013

Ginger Molasses Cookies + Ice Cream Sandwiches

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These are representative of my annual negotiation with a warm weather Australian Christmas. Most days in December are too hot to bake – but without baking, Love Actually, and Buble’s Christmas crooning – what else is there to get me in the mood?

Malls are stressful, the post office tries one’s patience, and every women’s magazine is telling you to avoid canapés, load up on crudités and choose low-fat turkey breast (no skin!) over ham to avoid that holiday bloat!

My response is simple: butter, molasses and brown sugar. I seek solace and holiday cheer in the kitchen and bake like there’s a freaking blizzard outside.

Boldly spiced and chewy, these are my ultimate festive cookies. They taste like Christmas, even if it doesn’t totally feel like Christmas.

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July 17, 2013

Peanut Butter Pretzel Chocolate Bites

peanut butter pretzel cup

These are a few of my favorite things.

Peanut butter and chocolate.  Pretzels and sea salt.

Put em all together and you have some rich and addictive tricked-out peanut butter cups.

I used all-natural creamy peanut butter, dark chocolate and salted mini pretzels. Then topped it all off with crunchy flakes of Maldon sea salt.

There’s something about melting chocolate in a double boiler that’s oddly soothing. I loved layering the ingredients and impatiently waiting for the chocolate to harden. It was a nice little way to spend a chilly winter Sunday.

The motivation behind these simple two-bite treats was the Sweet Swap to raise money for ChildFund Australia.

The idea was to share sweets and recipes with fellow Australian food bloggers.  I loved wrapping the peanut butter cups and sending them out in the post like some kind of chocolate fairy – crossing my fingers that they arrived still looking at least a little cute.

I hope my sweet swapping pen pals enjoyed them!

ready to go pb and choc pretzels pb and choc   packagingFood 2013 029

Peanut Butter Pretzel Chocolate Bites

From With Style and Grace

Makes about about 24

  • 2 cups dark [or milk chocolate] chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1 cup peanut butter – or nut butter of choice
  • 1 tablespoon powdered/confectioner ‘s sugar
  • mini pretzels
  • sea salt

Line a mini muffin pan with paper liners and set aside.

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler, saucepan or microwave. Once it’s melted down, add coconut oil to thin out. Add more, if needed.

Add about one teaspoon of melted chocolate to the bottom of each paper cup. Tilt the liners so the chocolate evenly coats the bottom and slightly up the sides.

Place the cupcake pan in the freezer for 15-20 minutes to let set.

Meanwhile, mix together peanut butter and powdered sugar. Place peanut butter mixture in the fridge for 10 minutes.

Once both timers have gone off, scoop 1 teaspoon of the peanut butter mixture and place in the center of each chocolate cup. Place pan back in the freezer for about 10 minutes. Remove pan from the freezer and add a mini pretzel on top of the peanut butter.

With the remaining chocolate, cover each cup until covered. Top with sea salt (optional.)

Place baking tin back into the freezer for about 20 minutes.

Store in the fridge.

February 23, 2013

Cherry Chocolate Banana Pops

banana cherry choc #voracious

So, we’ve all talked about the amazing phenomenon that is frozen banana or one-ingredient “ice cream”, right? I mean, it’s like an internet sensation. It’s been pinterested all over town.

These pops are that.

With chunks of dark chocolate and some of summer’s last cherries. They’ve got sweetness, creaminess, crunch and chew. And only three ingredients.

I’ll be real. I think I deserve dessert every single day. Sometimes I deserve a fruit-based dessert more than an ice cream-based dessert. But this here, is a compromise.

A much-needed compromise, since Fabes and I just discovered the liter-sized takeaway tub at our favorite gelato shop. Having Sydney’s best gelato in your freezer and not in the shop that’s a 30 minute bus ride away is a dangerous thing, friends.

At the risk of touting something as “guilt-free” (obnoxious?), I threw in a handful of chocolate chunks. For balance. Chocolatey balance.

You can add whatever you want to your banana mixture – I’m thinking mango or peach might be next up, along with some toasted coconut flakes.

But just so we’re clear: dark chocolate chunks are never a bad idea. And neither is that gelato takeaway tub from time to time.

December 19, 2012

Peppermint Patties

voraciousv - ppprmint

This time of year, Gammy (my totally awesome grandma) always brings out this tiered serving dish with old-timey Christmas trees painted on it. Each of the tiers display an assortment Christmas-colored candies like M&Ms (plain M&M’s in Christmas colors taste infinitely better than regular, amiright?), those spearmint gummy trees coated in sugar, and always always fun-sized, silver foil-wrapped York Peppermint Patties.

I’ve wanted to make homemade peppermint patties since I first realized that was a thing about 2 Christmases ago. Honestly, I don’t know what’s taken me so dang long. Besides the dough being a bit sticky, these little morsels were the easiest and most fun treats I’ve made this holiday season so far.

There are some recipes that call for butter or shortening or coconut oil but this one just uses egg whites…and a generous helping of powdered sugar.

As a life-long fan of the original York Peppermint Patty, I can attest to the fact that these are oh so close to the real thing. The snap of the dark chocolate and the slight crunch of the whipped peppermint filling (which is pretty much the edible equivalent to stepping into freshly fallen snow) – gaahhh. I can’t deal. I’m on a chocolate peppermint high.

December 11, 2012

Orange Gingerbread Cake

voracious vander - gingerbread

I know the last thing you want to hear me talk about is how I STILL cannot deal with being in the opposite season of what I’m used to.

But it just doesn’t feel right, you guys.

The symbols of the holiday season are all out of place, for starters. There are no snowmen (or women), disposable pine trees or need for a yule log. And Santa’s apparel makes me sweat just looking at it. Get that man some shorts! Or at least some capri pants.

I started to wonder if the usual heady holiday baking spices were appropriate for the summertime?

I feel like the whole point of using lots of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves is to warm me up when it’s cold and I’m looking for some comfort wrapped in sugar wrapped in cake.

But really, the point of all of these awesome spices is to make it taste unmistakably like holiday time.

So short answer: they’re totally appropriate.

October 12, 2012

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

Among the long list of hypothetical situations that can be explored (Mr. F freaking loves a hypothetical, by the way. I think I spent the 2nd and 3rd years of our relationship deflecting 60% of his hypothetical questions.) I would guess that the “desert island” scenario is the most played out.

However. As I do (sometimes) enjoy a made-up and unlikely situation, my favorite to ask other people is among the: “If you could only listen to/read/watch/eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?” variety.

Sometimes I grant numbers from 2-5 to these questions, if picking only one just seems cruel.

But really, it’s a roundabout way of asking for a Top 5 list. And I do love a list.

My answers to these questions have changed many times – except for my Top 2 foods . Those are on lock.

1. Sweet Potatoes

2. Peanut butter

This is the stuff I could live on. If, you know, I found myself in a situation where some unknown deity was granting me these and only these foods for the rest of my life – I would happily make it work (good butter, sea salt, black pepper, maple syrup and maybe some chili flakes included, of course.)

Today, we’re concerned with my second choice. The PB. Even as a kid, I was a purist. No jelly for me on those sandwiches, thanks. Straight peanut butter, all day every day. (There may have actually been an entire year of my hyper-finicky childhood where I ate only PB sandwiches for lunch. Almost proving my theory that I could live on PB alone. But, I digress.)

These peanutty PB cookies have minimal ingredients and no flour – just all-natural peanut butter with a bit sugar for sweetness, a hint of vanilla and a few chocolate chunks bound together by a single egg. Oh and the teeniest sprinkle of sea salt on top, if you’re into that.

The result is a perfect peanut butter cookie – soft and chewy with a crisp edge. This is the kind of cookie that me and my PB-loving gluten-free friends could live on forever.

The ingredients list is super simple. And only one bowl is needed – bonus!

 

Line ‘em up.

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies
– 1 cup peanut butter (I used all-natural crunchy, but use whatever you’d like)
– 1/4 cup brown sugar
– 1/4 cup white, granulated sugar
– 1 teaspoon vanilla
– 1 egg
– 1/3 cup chocolate chunks (I used part of a Cadbury milk chocolate bar chopped into small pieces.)
– a couple pinches of sea salt

Heat oven to 350 F/ 175 C.

Prepare a baking tray with parchment/baking paper

Place peanut butter (at room temperature) and sugars in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and beat again with the mixer until incorporated.

Fold in the chocolate.

Make 1-inch balls of cookie dough by rolling a small spoonful between the palms of your hands. (Don’t fiddle with them too much.) Place them on the baking sheet an inch apart. Top each cookie with a couple of sea salt flakes.

Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let them cool on the baking tray for 5 minutes. DON’T touch them before that 5 minutes is up, they WILL crumble.

(Sorry, that was harsh, but this 5 minutes is crucial for ensuring that you get soft peanut butter cookies that will stay together like the flour-full ones do.)

Makes approximately 30 cookies.

August 23, 2012

Roasted Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

Now that I’ve settled into my antipodean lifestyle (can we call it that?) in Sydney, I’m starting to accept the fact that I will always have some small degree of season envy. Like in February, while it was the height of summer, I would find myself yearning for sad winter peasant food like cabbage soup or potatoes on potatoes.

Which is ridiculous. And a little frustrating.

And while I’ve fully embraced our quick and mild winter by stewing, braising and slow cooking everything I could get my hands on, I’m left fiending for elitist heirloom tomatoes from the Union Square Greenmarket. I mean, did you see this Bon Appetit cover?!

But then again…maybe it’s just an adjustment thing. Now that I’ve had my first full year in the Southern Hemisphere, maybe I’ve set my cravings right?

All I know is – right now – I’m only thinking spring. There’s that change in the air, where a sunny day has actual warmth to it and I want to take all coffees, books and projects outside. I’m able to wear short sleeves on morning runs and open up the windows. Spring is here. And so are strawberries. And I. am. pumped.

Let’s get giddy with something frozen. Some good Greek yogurt, sweetened with honey and flecked with a little vanilla. (Totally inspired by this guy.)

Let’s roast some gorgeous Queensland strawberries with balsamic vinegar, olive oil and a touch of maple and swirl them into our creamy yogurt. It’ll taste fresh, tangy and strawberry-y. Just like spring.

This post was also inspired by the Sweet Adventures Blog Hop‘s August theme: Berry Nice to Meet You! Head over to the Hungry Australian to check out the other berry recipes!

Knowing me though, I’ll be needing pumpkin-spiced EVERYTHING in a month. Whatevs.

Roasted Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

Roasted Strawberries:
– 2 heaping cups of strawberries, hulled and cut in half lengthwise
– 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
– 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
– 1/2 tablespoon maple syrup

Heat oven to 350 F/175 C.

Mix strawberries, balsamic, olive oil and maple syrup together in a bowl. On a parchment-lined baking sheet, spread out the strawberries.

Roast for 30-35 minutes until the strawberries are soft, give off a syrup and smell like candy. Allow to cool fully before adding them to the frozen yogurt mixture. This can be done the day ahead and cooled in the fridge overnight.

Vanilla Honey Yogurt:
– 500 mL (2 cups) good Greek yogurt
– 2 tablespoons honey
– 1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

Mix together yogurt, honey and vanilla. Place in the bowl of a frozen ice cream maker and churn for 30-40 minutes.

Mix in cooled roasted strawberries and serve.

If you don’t have an ice cream maker, mix strawberries with the cold yogurt-honey mixture and place in the freezer in an airtight container. Check on it every hour or two, giving it a good stir with a fork to break up the icy parts.

Store in the freezer and allow to warm up about 10 or 15 minutes before scooping.

August 13, 2012

12 Things I Learned in This Past Year of Life and a Birthday Cookie Cake

SO! I had a birthday last week.

This sort of thing doesn’t usually get me all introspective, but the past couple of years were pretty big for me… so I feel like I should have something to say for myself.

I lived my dream of quitting my job and traveling Europe with my favorite guy. And at the end of all that, we settled in sunny Australia – very very far from my home, my city and my people.

And while I am not even close to having much of anything figured out…I think I’ve learned a few important (and some unimportant) things this year.

1. I can live in Australia without melting into a puddle of homesickness and tears.

2. Feeling homesick can be really frustrating and tough. Be nice to yourself.

3. A mustache tattoo on one’s index finger is a good omen.

4. I need a dog.

5. Sometimes gelato is an acceptable Saturday lunch.

6. Buy the fancy butter and salt. You won’t regret it.

7. Don’t throw house parties with white carpets and people you don’t know.

8. Magpies are evil winged creatures that are out to get you.

9. I can successfully make a souffle, pulled pork and pavlova.

10. Travel is amazing, but nesting can feel just as rewarding.

11. Regularly counting the small things you’re thankful for can make a big difference.

12. It’s totally OK to make your own birthday cake.

For my birthday this year, I decided to make myself a blondie/cookie cake studded with some of my favorite things: dark chocolate, coconut, banana and pecans bound together with brown sugar and butter. Not a traditional birthday cake, but I couldn’t think of anything more perfect.

Unfortunately final product photos didn’t happen due to late-night overzealous cake consumption. Forgive me, it was my b-day, and I was being selfish.

I was inspired by Joy the Baker’s Banana, Walnut & Chocolate Cookie Cake – she’s got the good looking cookie-cake pics going on too, if that’s something you’re into. Which you probably are. I hope.

Banana, Pecan, Coconut & Chocolate Cookie Cake
(makes 1 8-inch cake)
adapted from Joy the Baker

- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
– 1 cup brown sugar, packed
– 1 large egg
– 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
– 1 ripe banana (mashed)
– 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
– 1 cup all-purpose flour
– 1 cup spelt flour
– 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
– 1/2 cup dark chocolate chunks
– 1/2 cup large coconut flakes
– 1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans
– a pinch of sea salt flakes

Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and heat oven to 350 F/175 C.

Melt butter in an 8-inch cast iron skillet over medium-low heat.  Stir in sugar  and vanilla extract and remove from heat.  Whisk until thoroughly combined.  Allow mixture to stand and cool for about 5 minutes.  The mixture should not be super hot when the eggs goes in, or the egg will cook.

Add the egg and whisk together until smooth.  The mixture will be glossy and no longer greasy.  Add banana and cinnamon and stir to combine.

Add the flour, baking soda, and salt.  Stir carefully until all of the dry ingredients are incorporated.  Add the chocolate, coconut and pecans and fold together.

Spread mixture across the pan creating a somewhat smooth top. Sprinkle with a few flakes of sea salt. Place in the oven.

Bake for 15 to 18 minutes until mixture is dry on top, but still slightly soft in the center. Under-cooking this cake is where it’s at! Think over-sized gooey cookie.

Remove from oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes.  Top with ice cream and serve warm.

Here’s to another excellent year of life!

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