Lamingtons

Confession: I’ve never been a massive fan of lamingtons. I feel a bit un-Australian saying that, but I’ve always felt they were nothing special. Despite that, I decided that I still needed to try making them! And what better time to make lamingtons than Australia Day?

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I knew that the cake should be a light and basic type of cake, and also one that cuts up well rather than crumbling everywhere, so I decided to go with the vanilla butter cake that I used for my daughter’s first birthday cake. It’s super easy, it works, it tastes good. You make it the night before and keep it in the fridge and it cuts up even better. I cut the square cake into 20 pieces (5×4) and they wouldn’t want to be any bigger – could probably even cut the square cake into 5×5 and they’d be perfect.

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Because one of my issues with lamingtons is that they can be dry and a bit boring, I added a layer of jam in the middle of each one. I had actually made my own strawberry jam the previous weekend, so I used that, but you could use anything really. Raspberry would be good, but a layer of extra chocolate would also be pretty decadent.

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Which brings me to the part that I had no idea about, not being a lamington connoisseur, and that was whether the chocolate that the cake is covered in was icing or ganache. I looked up a few recipes but some were ganache and some were icing, and I remained confused, so I made both! They were both very simple: ganache was melted dark chocolate and cream, and the icing was icing sugar, cocoa and milk. I didn’t measure the ingredients for either of them, I just mixed until the consistencies seemed right.

I hadn’t thought about how messy it would be to actually assemble the lamingtons, and I tried to keep it to a minimum but it’s really hard to not get desiccated coconut and chocolate everywhere! First I cut up all the cake, then spread all the jam and sandwiched the pieces back together so they were ready to go. Then I made the ganache and the icing, set up a big dish of desiccated coconut, and set to work!

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I learned that even though the ganache/icing part might look pretty messy, once you roll the whole thing in coconut it looks totally fine. The assembly did take longer and was more fiddly than I expected, but the end result looked and tasted really good. Most people who tried them seemed to like the ganache the most, and I tend to agree – while the icing ones were loved by those with a super sweet tooth, the ganache helped make an already very sweet treat just a little bit less sugary. And they weren’t dry at all!

Valentine’s Day Coconut Cookies

I have so many different shapes of cookie cutter stashed away at home. I have never used any of them. I thought a pre-Valentine’s Day morning tea would be a perfect excuse to test out the heart-shaped cookie cutter!

Now, the last time I tried to make biscuits that involved rolling out dough and trying to cut out shapes was years ago and is referred to as the infamous gingerbread incident. It involved tears, screaming, throwing dough on the ground and locking myself in the bathroom. It wasn’t pretty. So this attempt had the potential to go badly…

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125g butter, softened to room temperature
3/4 cup caster sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1/4 cup self-raising flour
1/2 cup desiccated coconut

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy using an electric mixer/beater. Add the egg and beat in well. Stir in the flour and the coconut in two batches. Turn the dough out on to a floured surface and knead lightly until it all comes together and is smooth. Roll it out between two sheets of baking paper until it is about 5mm thick, then put that in the fridge for about half an hour.

Cut shapes out of the dough with whatever shape of cutter you like, lay them on paper-lined baking trays, and bake in a preheated 180C oven for about 12 minutes. While they are baking, gather the remaining dough up, re-roll it, put it back in the fridge. Basically just keep repeating the process until you’ve used as much of the dough as you can to cut out and bake the cookies. You can do whatever you like with the last scraps – I like to eat the dough raw at that point 🙂

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What I did to decorate these was to make a super basic icing from icing sugar, water, food colouring and a few drops of rosewater essence. I used a piping bag just with the end cut off to decorate, and my piping skills are far from great, but I think they ended up looking fairly cute anyway.

Valentine's Day cookies

Cherry Ripe Muffins

Last week I had an idea for cherry ripe muffins, so this weekend I was compelled to make them. I need to have these kind of ideas more often, because the resulting muffins are AMAZING! Rich and chocolatey, with bursts of cherry pieces and coconut, they taste just like their namesake chocolate bars. Even the batter tasted incredible.

1 2/3 cups self raising flour
½ cup caster sugar
1/3 cup desiccated coconut
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 cup dark chocolate chips
1 cup glace cherries, halved
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup coconut milk
90g butter, melted
¼ cup cherry liqueur

Preheat oven to 180C, line or grease a 6-hole texas muffin pan. Sift dry ingredients into a large bowl, stir in chocolate chips and cherries. Stir in remaining ingredients and divide the mixture among the pan holes. Bake for 30 minutes, stand in trays for 5 minutes before turning on to a wire rack to cool.

Coconut Butterfly Cakes

This is a regular cake recipe which I turned into cupcakes. The normal recipe makes 2 round cakes which are then sandwiched together with jam and cream, so to make them individually I turned them into butterfly cakes. Cute and delicious.

270ml coconut milk
1 ½ desiccated  coconut
200g butter
1 1/3 caster sugar
4 eggs
1 2/3 self-raising flour
strawberry jam
whipped cream 

Mix the coconut and the coconut milk together in a small saucepan over medium heat until it reaches a simmer. Take it off the heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 180C.

Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl. Add the eggs one at a time, beating briefly after each addition. Sift in 1/3 cup of the flour and fold it in to the batter with a large metal spoon. Fold in the coconut mixture, and then the rest of the flour until all combined. Spoon into lined cupcake trays, bake at 180C for about 30 minutes, until golden on top. Cool on wire racks.

Assemble the cakes just prior to serving, otherwise they go a bit soggy and sad. Using a sharp knife, cut out a round section from the top of the cupcake.

Fill the hole with jam, and then a dollop of cream. (I cheated a little and used the whipped cream in a can from the supermarket)

Take the piece that was cut out of the cupcake and slice it in half, then set these halves on an angle in the cream to make the butterfly wings. Enjoy!

These can be made using any cupcake recipe that you like – vanilla, chocolate, whatever… All yummy!