12 Days of Christmas :: 8 Santa Hat Caramel Cups

Santa hats are one of the most iconic scenes at Christmas time. Whether it's from a Christmas graphic in a shop wiondow or your cousin's choice of head gear at the family feast, we see them everywhere throughout December. Here in Australia, we celebrate Christmas in summer, so Christmas feasts typically involve lots of summer fruit. Strawberries are amongst my favourite and they will always adorn the pavlova and anything else I can justify adding them on to. Along with strawberries, white chocolate is another familiar flavour amongst the desserts. So I figured, why not combine all three?

This dessert is a new take on an old favourite. 
Santa Claus is coming to town…

Salted Peanut Caramel and White Chocolate Cheesecake

Last week I went out to dinner with mine and my boyfriend's immediate family to celebrate the completion of my Masters degree. We went to one of my favourite local restaurants, Azurea's and had a lovely time together. While Azurea's have a gorgeous selection of cakes and desserts themselves, I wasn't about to let go of an excuse to bake! Between mine and his family, everyone's preference for cake is many and varied, so choosing one is always a difficult task — someone is always not going to be happy! I eventually settled on this cake I had been wanting to try for quite a while now.

Hello excuse!

Orange and Poppy Seed Cupcakes

During my thesis-induced baking hiatus, I did have a moment of weakness. I was missing baking a little too much, and so I returned to the kitchen to bake a quick treat. I told my desk buddies I’d bring in some cupcakes to help them through the last moments of Masters. Stress levels were so high in the office during those last few weeks that the tinest of morale boosts were received with thrice the usual enthusiasm, so really, it was for a good cause. It was also a good excuse to get away from the computer chair that was numbing my limbs and the computer screen that was ruining my eyes.

Excuses, excuses. A baking hiatus was never really going to last anyway…

Recipe +3 …

Cook Book Challenge: Week 32

Jumping back into the cook book challenge this week, I turned to a book that fills me with indecisions like few others. As the name suggests, Dream Desserts is filled with dreamy recipes for every occasion. From winter warmers to light summer desserts, from the simplest of cakes to decadent desserts that require a bit of know-how, this book has it all. What's more is that this book has a lot of desserts that are quite different from what I would usually do, or create, or crave, myself, so it encourages me to try some new things.

This week I decided to try a dessert I've always heard about but had no idea what it actually was: Banoffee Pie…

Cook Book Challenge: Week 30

This week is the final installment of the Cook Book Challenge taken from this mini-series (because I am a genius and did #10 weeks ago). Next week we shall return to your regularly-sized version. 

Gary Mehigan is another well-known Melbourne chef. He was well known before becoming a judge on MasterChef, but since has become a household name. He began his cheffing career in London before moving to Melbourne and opening a plethora of award-winning restaurants. This book is named after, and full of, my favourite types of eats: comfort food. It's particularly comforting during this cooler part of the year. Choosing a recipe was almost impossible.

Winter, or any time, warmers…

Angel Pear Gateau

Every year when Father's Day rolls around, I often find myself looking to reinvent my family's favourite mudcake recipe, as mudcake is my dad's favourite cake. While my family are more than content to keep demolishing their favourites, I get bored of repetition and am often looking for new skills to learn. So this year, I started trying to come up with something out of the ordinary. Given how picky my dad is, this is a harder task than usual. If it's not mudcake, his next favourite is a fruit cake, but almost no one else in my household likes fruit cake.

I found a middle ground to strike. Pears are one of my dad's favourite fruits. Like me, he prefers them really soft. Our perfect pear is what others feel is overripe. A cake involving poached pears was going to be a hit.

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there!

Watermelon Truffles

I've often heard people say that anything that tastes great isn't good for you. I disagree: fruit is one of my favourite things in the world, and some fruit in particular to me taste better than any sweet imaginable. Watermellon is one of those things.

It's not watermelon season here in Australia at the moment so there's no lovely fresh, local watermelon in the stores at the moment. In lieu of being able to sink my teeth into those, I created some truffles inspired by one of my favourite food items in the world. 

ccwatermellon07

These truffles may taste nothing like watermellon, but the aesthetic is enough to tide me over until summer arrives. 

Step-by-step after the jump…

Cook Book Challenge: Week 25

This week's cook book challenge comes for the 4th book in this mini series. It's called "Grossi Florentino – Secrets and Recipes". Named after Guy Grossi's restaurant, this book was composed by its head chef as well and the journalist, Jan McGuinness. While the mini version of this book offers none of the history penned by McGuinness in the full version, there's more than enough recipes to peruse through.

There's a lot to love in this book: something that made choosing a recipe really hard. It's packed full of the from-scratch pasta recipes you would expect, as well as some gorgeous meat dishes and more than a few delicious desserts.

White Chocolate Cheesecake

Cook Book Challenge: Week 24

This week for the Cook Book Challenge, I actually remembered to grab the book from the right side of the pile. This is the third book in the mini-series: Donna Hay's "Seasons".

This is a lovely little book split into 4 sections: one for each season. Its contents page is similarly divided, and I love the ease of access and quick reference to recipes this gives you. I had such a hard time choosing a recipe. Even confining myself to the winter section didn't work very well. But I eventually settled on a winter warmer, even though it came from the Autumn chapter.

Apple Puddings with Butterscotch Sauce…

Mini Pavlovas with Kiwifruit Sorbet

It took me quite a while to decide what to pair the kiwifruit sorbet with. I had one of those moments where you're lying in bed, trying to sleep but the cogs in your brain are ticking overtime. Amongst the jumble of other thoughts about everything from the housework to what data analysis should I be using for my Zoology experiment, jumped out a single word: Pavlova.

Pavlova? Pavlova! Seriously, I will jump at any excuse to make a pav. Given we're in winter now, there's not the same lovely variety of fruit to top them with, so this sorbet fill the gap nicely.

Break one open…