One of the very first things I ever made for Cameron was a peanut butter slice. It was mostly born of a couple of chocolate failures in my early baking days. The chocolate I was working with seized and I didn’t want to waste it, so I whipped it up into some sort of icing. I raided the cupboards for whatever else I had on hand and made a peanut butter slice to go beneath the icing. I thought it was a bit rubbish, but he loved it and regularly nags me for another.
This weekend just gone was Father’s Day in Australia, and we’d planned a gathering with Cam’s immediate family. We had a gorgeous lunch at an Indian restaurant and went to his brother’s place for dessert and chatter. All the ladies usually bring some dessert or munchies along. I was making a mudcake for his dad and figured I should also bring something vegan so his brother and sister-in-law could eat it too. Veganising a basic peanut butter slice seemed an easy way to finally give Cameron the slice he wanted while creating something everyone could enjoy.
I’ve got a jar of dirt. And guess what’s inside it?
I love jar food. It’s so quirky and cute and rustic and just ticks all my aesthetic boxes. It used to be so rare to happen across but now it’s everywhere. It’s even all over MasterChef, and once MasterChef is doing it you know everyone is going to be doing it.
But I have a serious problem. Every time I see jar food, I get a particular sing-song voice stuck in my head. I’ve got a jar of dirt. I’ve got a jar of dirt. And then it’s stuck in my head all day, until I start singing I’ve got a jar of dirt and it gets stuck in everyone elses head. There was only one way to deal with it, and that was to replicate it with food.
On a fairly regular basis I’ll ask my partner for ideas of things to make for him. I tend to ask hoping for some super complex brilliant idea of a dessert he’s wanted for ages but has been some unattainable challenge of epic proportions. But usually, he just wants custard. So I tend to ignore that and make something else anyway. I guess what I’m really asking is, “What do you want that I want you to want?”
Ever since we started going out and I started cooking for him and asking him for ideas he’s asked me for panna cotta. I usually put it off due to its perceived ease. 6 years later, I thought it was about time I finally obliged.
One morning before we headed off to the football I decided to whip up a quick batch of it. I kept it a surprise and wouldn’t tell him what I was making when he asked me. I was almost finished. I strained the mixture into a jug, left it to rest on the sink and turned away to find a safe place to rest the still hot pot it had cooked in. That’s when I heard it. The thud of the unattended jug falling into my sink. I turned in time to see almost the entirety of the mixture swirl down the drain.
Maybe it was trying to tell me something.
There was enough left for a small serving, so I dejectedly poured it into a mould and gave it to him for dessert. He reported that it was the best panna cotta he’d ever tasted. I don’t know if that made it better or worse.
Take two happened a couple of weeks ago. Delicious, but it didn’t end up perfect and pretty like I wanted. So this weekend I embarked on take three. That’s what I get for sneering at this simple dessert. And I suppose the triple batch of panna cotta in the last month is exactly what Cam deserved for waiting so long.
But don’t be fooled by my dose of karma. This is an incredibly simple dessert, and the result is ever so rewarding.
This is a dessert I've had sitting in the recesses of my mind for some time now, but have been waiting for the proper excuse to make. Easter seemed like the perfect time, what with eggs being so central to the festivities, so I held onto it until it finally rolled around.
One of my favourite things to do is to make food look like something it's not. It's been some time since I've done that 'trick food' so I couldn't wait for the excuse to delve into this one.
But really, who needs Easter to enjoy trick food?
Of all the people I make food for, my number one priority in life is my boyfriend, Cameron. He's what motivates me to learn and try new things and attempt to impress him with some crazy dessert. He gets to eat almost everything I make, the only exception being commissions, really. I'll upload snaps of my cakes to Facebook and people will be quick to tell him how lucky they believe him to be. They think he must get the most amazing, whimsical cakes for his birthday. They think him blessed to be able to request from me to bring anything to life via this edible medium. But the reality is that he wants none of that. At heart, he's a simple man.
So when his 30th birthday rolled around I wanted to make him something impressive to mark the occasion.
He just wanted a cheesecake.
What the birthday boy says, goes…
And the berry madness continued. 8.25 kg of strawberries required active searching for uses for them. A nice change, considering I'm usually I'm trying to hold back from devouring a whole punnet at once. The first thing that came to mind was this dessert. It's extremely berry hungry so it fit the bill nicely. It's something I've made a few times before, and posted the first time I tried it, but I've since been playing and perfecting this recipe so it was time to revisit it.
The beauty of this recipe is that it works with any berry you like. If the effort involved seems too much, you don't even have to make it chequered. You could marble it, or only make one flavour and freeze it inside a bar tin. It's completely open to interpretation.
I chose strawberries and blackberries…
I've been wanting to try a joconde imprime for years. I'd always been a bit intimidated by it, so I filed it under O for "one day" and never gave it any serious thought. But when this months theme challenge on was "layers", I knew it was high time I gave this a go. I'd been looking for an excuse to do another honeycomb topper anyway and had been searching for the perfect dessert to do it with.
I knew I wanted the joconde to be patterned with chocolate stripes, but it was the entremet I couldn't decide on. There were just so many options. I'd tried a dessert with chocolate mousse and layers of honeycomb before, but the honeycomb dissolved and the beautiful layers I'd imagine became one disjoined, albeit delicious, mess. I was chatting to my boyfriend about this first world dilemma when he said, "What about bumble bee mousse?"
I felt like I was in my very own Old El Paso commercial.
He’s not just a pretty face…