A lot of people have a childhood affinity with pop tarts. I have a childhood affinity with pop tart commercials. It was something I always saw on the television, wanted to try but my parents weren’t interested in buying them. A common story from my childhood. My parents seldom had the money to pay the bills so anything non-essential was a giant no. Every time someone in my generation freaks out about something we had as kids, I freak out too but from an I-remember-those-ads perspective. Pop tarts are on that list.
Then one day they just kind of disappeared. I remember the ads disappearing, Cameron remembers them disappearing from the shelves as well. That childhood treat seemed determined to remain in our childhood only.
A few months ago I was grocery shopping with Cam and we came across them. His eyes lit up and he launched into the same nostalgic tales most people do when they hear the words ‘pop tarts’. I decided it was time I grabbed a packet not just to satiate his nostalgia, but also so I could finally see what all the fuss was about.
I love making tiny desserts. No matter what it is, making it into tiny, single serves always makes it better in my opinion. I also love making lots of desserts, so making them tiny means more people can have more variety. Whenever I have people around for a party or just for dinner I usually crack out as many teeny desserts as I can.
Recently, I bought a set of teeny tart pans and just could not wait for the chance to use them. So when I invited Cam’s parents around for dinner one night I leapt at the chance to bake these.
Whenever we’re having a gathering with Cam’s family, I always try to bring along a treat everyone can eat. With some of his family members being vegan, this means cutting out all the animal content. So far I’ve been turning to recipes that already have next to no animal products in them. But I wanted to try making desserts that are not far off what I would usually make.
I’ve tried a number of veganised recipes along the way with varying success. For this dessert I tried two different vegan pastry recipes and had them fail before I decided to do things my own way. The best way out of it was sticking with recipes I knew and just substituting the ingredients where necessary. The more I play with vegan recipes, the more I’m getting the hang of what substitutes work where. It’s really not as intimidating as it seemed at first. The substitutions come pretty easily once you familiarise yourself with the alternatives available.
This was the post I was going to bring to you last week, but then I got really sick and haven’t been anywhere near my computer since the last post. So if you need a pumpkin puree recipe for the pumpkin cupcakes, you’ll find the follow up to that here.
While I making mountains of pumpkin puree and throwing them in desserts for the first time ever, I knew I couldn’t escape the pumpkin fest without baking pumpkin pie. This seemingly staple American dessert is practically non-existent here. Any time I’ve told an American friend I’ve never eaten pumpkin pie, I’ve received a reaction more akin to what I’d expect if I’d just confessed to being a centaur. Cam tried one on holiday in Canada some 8 years ago, loved it, and occasionally asks me to make one for him. I suppose it was about time I finally jumped in to see what all the fuss was about.
Every so often, Cameron will randomly pipe up with something he wants me to bake him. Something I usually forget about 20 minutes later. So I got him to join Pinterest, set up a board and asked him to pin things he wanted me to make. And then, like a devoted girlfriend, I forget to refer to it ever.
So when I’m excitedly chattering away about the next dessert idea I’m conjuring up in my head, he’ll subtly nudge me about the thing he really wants. The last few times the dessert of choice has been a milk tart. Last weekend we were both off doing different things and I got home before he did, so while I had some time to myself I thought I’d surprise him by finally knocking this pastry off of his wishlist.
Milk tart, or melktert in Afrikaans, is a dessert that hails from South Africa. He first tried when a South African colleague of his bought one to work for the Big Cake Bake, a charity event they were hosting at work. Ever since, he’s intermittently nudged me about making one.
Part of the reason for my being so slow in fulfilling this wish was how bland it sounded. I don’t know about you guys, but any treat with milk in the name that isn’t a milkshake doesn’t really inspire my appetite. Dilute and bland were the first words that struck my mind upon the mention of it, so I procrastibaked and found something else to try.
I was more than happy to discover how wrong I was.
Winter has well and truly set in now, which means it’s a perfect time to take advantage of winter produce. I’m very passionate about buying local and about supporting the small fruit and veg shops. On one hand, I hate to put money in the hands of supermarket chains that pay a pittance for produce then raise the prices sky high. I’d much rather support small businesses. But I also love cooking with seasonal produce. It makes you really think about where the food is coming from and understand the growing process. It’s cheaper, tastier, and most importantly for me it has a much lower environmental impact. It’s a win all round.
Rhubarb is one of those winter staples we all tend to turn to for dessert in lieu of all those wonderful summer berries. A staple I’d oddly not cooked with before. I grew up in a household of plain eaters, afraid to try anything outside the box they’d made for themselves. Rhubarb was well outside that box. In my adulthood I’m now trying to make up for that by trying all the different things I never got to as a kid. It was high time I knocked this one off the list. I bought a bunch with my weekly shop and settled for making a crumble. Then Cameron’s mum gave him a tart recipe to bring over on the weekend and I was sold.
The end of June is approaching, meaning it’s time to share another Daring Bakers’ challenge!
Rachael from pizzarossa was our lovely June 2013 Daring Bakers’ host and she had us whipping up delicious pies in our kitchens. Cream pies, fruit pies, chocolate pies, even crack pies! There’s nothing like pie.
Pies are something that I love but get really easily intimidated out of in the kitchen. It’s more to do with the crust than anything. When I first started baking I attempted a number of pies, and they were largely hit and miss. Mostly miss, for when I tried unmoulding them from the tin they would either stick or snap or crumble or all of the above. So I ran away from pies. This challenge was a good way for me to test the waters again and see how I’d go now that I have many more kitchen hours under my belt.
There were four pies on offer. I went from saying I’d do one to taking on three of them!
Now the weather is gradually but finally getting colder, winter type meals are starting to become more common in the household. Soups, stews, curries, casseroles, roasts and pies. The sort of meals that felt far to hot and heavy to eat weeks ago are now desired to chase the chill away.
These pot pies are one of the most simple meals of the bunch. They don't require any pastry knowledge or blind baking so they're perfect for anyone intimidated by making pie crusts.
Mince tarts are so pretty. So festive. But so unappealing to all of us. I don’t know what it is, but we just don’t like them. I always stare at them in the supermarket wishing that were different.
So I decided to pinch the aesthetics and substitute the taste. These sweet tartlets make for a delicious and festive dessert for the chocolate-lover.
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…