Tag Archives: Cakes

My Blue Heaven

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Milkshakes are such a big part of childhood.  I always feel a little sad and as though I may have missed something essential about growing up because I was never into milkshakes as a child.  Something important.  Like a rite of passage, you know?

I have never drunk milk in my entire life.  I was already an adult before I would let myself to even try having a coffee with milk added.  As a child, I thoroughly despised dairy milk (we didn’t even think about non-dairy alternatives so let’s not go there).  So, milkshakes were something I eyed with a good measure of skepticism.  Tall chilled silver glasses filled with fabulously flavoured milk … it was still just a lot of milk to me.

Everyone would have their favourites … chocolate, of course, strawberry, banana, butterscotch, vanilla, pineapple, caramel … mostly standard stuff.  But there was one flavour that had us all just a bit fascinated and intrigued.  It had an air of mystery to it because we could never quite pin down what this fantasy flavour really was … blue heaven.  It just sounds so celestial.  So divine.  As if it could transport you somewhere fabulous with it’s gorgeous sky blue mystery flavoured milkiness.  Blue Heaven is an iconic Australian milkshake flavour invention that defied logic, by being madly successful.  So successful, it’s still around today in various forms.

Even my aversion to all things milky didn’t stop me from trying a blue heaven milkshake, out of curiosity.   It tasted like vanilla, but somewhat disappointingly, like an artificial vanilla (which, of course, it was).  Depending on where your research leads you, it actually was (and is) just artificial vanilla with blue colouring, or artificial vanilla raspberry with blue colouring.  The manufacturers of the flavouring apparently claim it to be the latter.  Now, that is cool, because raspberry is a fantastic mystery prize.  Sure, it is artificial raspberry that never comes close to real fruit, but who would have guessed?

I still don’t drink milkshakes, although I am partial to the odd smoothie.   I do love all things vanilla and raspberry though … and blue food?  I still love the idea of blue heaven as a flavour.  Would it work in a non-milkshake form?  Here in Australia, you can buy blue heaven syrup, blue heaven topping for ice cream, and blue heaven jelly.   Well, that’s a bit artificial and boring, despite being a testament to blue heaven’s ongoing popularity.

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So why not create my very own version of blue heaven, from scratch?  Real vanilla, real raspberry, and a little blue colouring for the sake of nostalgia?  Why not create it in cupcake form?  Good idea, yes?

Great idea.  Yes.  I still don’t drink milkshakes, remember?  😉

These moist cupcakes are pure vanilla and totally light blue, like the milkshake.  The cream cheese frosting is also pure vanilla deliciousness and blue like the heavens.  But take a bite of a cupcake and you get a surprise …  a fresh raspberry confit centre, sweet and tart.

I think it captures the essence of Blue Heaven, don’t you?  They do taste absolutely heavenly … and they’re blue 😀

I added some chocolate covered raspberries for decoration and little straws in honour of the milkshake that inspired them.

I hope you enjoy my blue heaven 🙂

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Makes 10 cupcakes

Ingredients
Blue Vanilla Cupcakes
125 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature
125 grams sugar
1 vanilla pod, scraped of seeds or 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
2 x 60 gram eggs
125 grams plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
125 millilitres milk
1-2 drops blue food colouring (water-based)

Raspberry Confit
200 grams fresh or frozen (and thawed) raspberries
200 grams sugar
15 millilitres freshly squeezed lemon juice

Blue Vanilla Frosting
125 grams unsalted butter
250 grams cream cheese
125 grams icing sugar
1 vanilla pod, scraped of seeds or 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
1 – 2 drops blue food colouring

10 chocolate covered raspberries

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Directions
Blue Vanilla Cupcakes
Preheat the oven to 180℃.  Place 10 cupcake liners on a lined baking tray and set aside.

Place the sugar, butter, and vanilla in the bowl of a mixer and whisk until the mixture is light, fluffy and the sugar is dissolved.  Add the eggs and whisk until the batter is smooth and light.

Sift together the flour and baking powder.  Add the lemon or lime juice to the milk.  Add half the flour to the batter and beat until smooth.  Add the milk and finally the remaining flour.  Whisk the batter until smooth and light.  Add a drop of blue food colouring and whisk until the colour is evenly distributed and the batter is a light pastel blue.  If required, add another drop or two, one drop at a time.  I only needed one drop to achieve a pale blue colour.  Divide the batter between the cupcake liners.

Bake for about 20 minutes until risen and cooked through.  Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.  You can store these, at room temperature, in an airtight container, if making ahead before filling and frosting.

Raspberry Confit
Puree the raspberries and strain them well to remove the seeds.   Place the raspberry puree in a saucepan with the sugar and lemon juice.   Cook over a low heat until the sugar is dissolved, stirring it gently.   Raise the heat and cook until the raspberry confit mixture reaches 104℃.  Test the confit by dropping a small amount on to a slightly chilled plate.  It should start to set fairly quickly.  When done, remove from the heat and transfer a small amount to a 12″ piping bag.  Place on a workbench and let cool slightly.

While the confit cools, cut a small round from the top of each cupcake and make a small cavity in the centre of each cupcake, about half of the way through.  Remove the crumbs* but reserve the round cut from top.  It will form a lid.  Snip a small tip off the end of the piping bag and pipe a small amount into each cavity to just under the top of the cupcake. Replace the round cut from the top to form a lid on top of each cupcake.  They are now ready to be frosted.

*The crumbs are lovely sprinkled on top of ice cream

Blue Vanilla Frosting
Melt the butter and set aside to cool.  Whisk together the cream cheese, icing sugar, and vanilla until smooth and creamy.   Whisk the cooled butter until slightly thickened.  Add the butter to the cream cheese mixture and whisk until smooth.  Finally, add a drop of blue food colouring to give the frosting a pale blue colour.

Cover and refrigerate the frosting for 15 to 20 minutes before frosting the cupcakes.  This cream cheese frosting pipes beautifully and holds its shape without setting or becoming hard on standing or when refrigerated.

Pipe the frosting on to each cupcake.  Top with a chocolate covered raspberry.
For that blue heaven milkshake vibe, add a small straw for decoration.  I just snipped a standard straw into 4 equal pieces to get the right size for each cupcake.

Without frosting, the cupcakes keep well for up to a week, if stored in an airtight container.  Frosted, they must be stored in the refrigerator.  They will keep for up to several days at least and will be as moist and delicious as freshly made.

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Bite into a cupcake for a fresh raspberry surprise 🙂

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Lemon and Poppy Seed Madeleine

A little while ago, I got all excited by the idea of making some lemon and poppy seed protein doughnuts.  That’s a lie.  I got all excited by the idea of making lemon and poppy seed doughnuts, cakes, cookies, protein bars, desserts, tarts … pretty much anything.  I posted the question on the Facebook page “Lemon and poppy seed?  What say you?” and the response was enthusiastic, for both healthy, high protein treats as well as more standard, indulgent fare.

So I had planned something like cookies, or a pound cake or something comforting.  But then my weekend plans got derailed.  Again.  You see, I don’t get out much.  Sometimes it’s my fault, and sometimes it’s just life getting in the way.  As it is wont to do sometimes, right?  It is wont to do this often, in my case.

But last weekend, I really really wanted to go to the Paris to Provence Festival here in Melbourne.  It’s an annual event and I missed it last year, much to my dismay.  Lots of food and cooking demonstrations, sessions about travel and French real estate, street performers, French food, food, food, and French products, both imported and locally made, by enthusiastic Francophiles … all on display and all to be sampled and enjoyed.  All this in the beautiful gardens of Melbourne’s Como House.  The weather was sunny, warm and perfect.

But life got in the way.  Again.

So I got up early in the morning to make my lemon and poppy seed cake … but ended up making Madeleine instead.  Just to bring a bit of France into my weekend and make up for missing the festival this year.  There were no random French street performers, no stalls of lovely French goodies, but the house was filled with the delicious aroma of a French bakery and Madeleine were enjoyed by all.

Well, sure, I’m wheat intolerant so I only had a bite or two … hmmm, I just can’t win, can I?  😉

But they were all gone in 24 hours, which is a nice way of saying that they were superb and making them took my mind off all the other things I was supposed to be doing that weekend.   The freshness of the lemon and the sweet crunch of the poppy seeds were perfect against the buttery lightness in a Madeleine.

They are delicious served on their own with an espresso or cup of tea, or as part of an afternoon tea spread.  They are also fantastic served along side a creamy lemon gelato as part of a dessert.

If you’d like to see what this year’s Paris to Provence Festival was like, have a look at all the wonderful photos here.   It’s not the same as being there but it’s something.

There are various traditional versions of the Madeleine recipe, some richer with butter, some lighter and more  airy in texture.  But all are buttery sponge-like cakes that are best eaten the day they are made, although they do keep for a couple of days, if you store them in an airtight container, at room temperature.

My preference depends on whim so I made these based on the classic Lenôtre recipe (the original is a vanilla and honey Madeleine).  Because that’s where my whimsy took me.  It also gave me a couple of hours in between to get started on the weekend’s duties 🙂

Enjoy!

Makes 18 Madeleine

Ingredients

  • 110 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 large eggs,  at room temperature
  • 110 grams sugar
  • 20 grams of a light, floral honey (e.g. orange blossom)
  • a pinch of salt
  • 150 grams flour
  • 5 grams active dried yeast
  • 10 grams poppy seeds
  • finely grated zest of 1 medium lemon
  • 15 millilitres (1 metric tablespoon) freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 20 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature, to grease the pans

Directions
Melt the butter and set aside to cool.

In the bowl of a mixer, combine the eggs, sugar, and honey.  Whisk until pale, light, and doubled in volume.  Sift together the salt and flour.  Add to the whisked egg mixture, and add the yeast and poppy seeds.  Mix until well combined.  Drizzle over the melted and cooled butter, and mix until the dough is smooth.  Cover with cling film and refrigerate the dough for two hours.

Preheat the oven to 225℃.

Use the extra butter to grease your Madeleine pans.  Be generous!  Dust them with sifted flour and tap out the excess.  Fill the Madeleine molds about three-quarters full with a tablespoon or so of the dough.  Leave a mound in the centre if you would like to get the classic dome in the centre of your Madeleines.

Place in the oven and reduce the temperature to  200℃.  Bake for about 3-4 minutes.   Reduce the oven temperature to 180℃ and bake for a further 4-5 minutes until risen and golden.  Do not over bake the Madeleines or they will become dry.

Remove from the oven and tap to release the Madeleines.  If you have prepared your pans correctly, they will generally just slide out easily, without the need for vigorous encouragement 😉

If you only have one Madeleines pan of 12 molds, bake in two batches.  Simply wait for the pan to cool sufficiently, use the remaining butter to grease the molds, dust with flour as per directions above, and proceed to fill and bake the remaining Madeleine.

Cool the Madeleine and serve on the same day or store, airtight at room temperature for up to 2 days.

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Chestnut Protein Cakes … or Not Quite Castagnaccio

I am still in the midst of coming to terms with The Kitchen Cupboard Uncertainty Principle as we shift stuff around the house to reorganise our storage.  Having survived the passage through our Renovation Event Horizon, there’s literally, stuff everywhere.  I don’t even remember where some of it came from.  On the upside, I’ve discovered some fantastic baking equipment I had completely lost track of, so here’s to future possibilities!  But pretty pastries will have to wait a little while longer.

I still need my healthy treats to keep me going during all this work along with the day job and my workouts and … so here’s another protein bombilicious babe in the interim.

Look away now if you’re hoping for sugar-laden buttery goodness 🙂

With the onset of autumn, one starts to think of chestnuts, right?  I sighted a box of them yesterday and it got me thinking.  Fabulous, healthy chestnuts.  Good source of complex carbohydrates, fibre, a smidgen of protein, and practically no fat.  They also taste fantastic.  I love chestnuts with vanilla, chocolate, spices, coffee, other nuts, raspberries and orange … hey, they are even great with veggies.   For me, chestnuts always call to mind the Tuscan traditional castagnaccio, a dense cake made of chestnut flour, olive oil, and flavoured with rosemary, honey, and pine nuts.  It’s origins are ancient but you’d be forgiven for thinking it was a funky chestnut version of a brownie.  That got me thinking again …

Chestnut flour does not behave like wheat flour in baking.  Once you add moisture it starts to think of itself as chestnut purée.  Almost like it was reconstituting itself back into chestnuts again.

Like the Liquid Metal Guy in Terminator II.  Well not exactly like that, but you see where I’m going with this?

This is when it gets exciting because I wanted to make little cakes that were a cross between cakey, cheesecakey, and brownie, but without being too much of any of them.   Cos, been there, done that, you know.

Check out the texture in these little beauties.  It’s got chestnutty goodness and texture.  Success!

Yes, that just happens to be some delicious homemade protein nutella oozing out the middle there.  These are great with a chocolate nut spread.  They are also fantastic with plain nut butters, chestnut jam or puree, sweetened with whatever you please, berries (especially raspberries in my kitchen lab), or a really good marmalade.  I had them for breakfast with the nutella and sliced bananas.  Awesome.

You could frost these to make them fancy.  A grand idea.  I’ve kept them plain so I can slice them up and carry them in my lunch box.  A practical idea … :-/

Obviously, I haven’t added the rosemary or pine nuts, although that would be cool.  I did, however, add some espresso coffee to the mix.  The coffee flavour is barely there.  It’s purpose is to enhance and intensify the chestnut flavour.  Which it does, brilliantly.

I did not use fruit to sweeten these cakes as I really wanted the chestnut flavour to shine through.  You could use puréed dates, apples, pears, or banana if you choose, but know that it will be lovely, but different.  You may also need to adjust the amount of moist ingredients for the batter, and it will affect the macros 😀

Check out the macros for these gluten-free, low FODMAP babies.  Insane.  A classic WIN-WIN scenario and a total fluke on my part.

But, where do I buy chestnut flour?????  Well, I get mine from my local Italian delis.  Chestnut flour is used quite a lot in Italian cooking, particularly in the north and northern-central regions of the country.  You might be able to find it in health food stores but it’s unlikely.  Continental delis are the surest bet or online.  Don’t bank on your local supermarket unless it is quite international in its fare.

Makes 5 rectangular cakes (double the recipe for a bigger batch)


Ingredients
110 grams egg whites OR 3 large egg whites
1 large egg
60 grams chestnut flour (I use this one)
60 grams pea protein isolate powder
2 tablespoons Natvia OR coconut sugar (or preferred sweetener, to taste)*
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or pure extract OR seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean
75 millilitres espresso coffee, brewed strong, and cooled**
120 grams low-fat cottage cheese (1% fat) OR quark OR ricotta OR thick Greek yoghurt
2 teaspoon baking powder (gluten-free)

* You can essentially use your sweetener of choice.  Honey would be awesome.  I like coconut sugar for this but this time I gave Natvia a go, just to try it out.  Worked a treat.  It’s a granulated blend of stevia and erythritol.  I don’t use it often but was curious, and the flavour was lovely.  Much better than straight up stevia.  It’s also a low FODMAP sweetener so yay.

** You can substitute milk or almond milk for the coffee, if you prefer.  It’s not essential.

Instructions
Preheat the oven to 170℃.  Have ready 5 silicon bar molds or bar tins.  You can use standard muffin or cupcake tins if you don’t have bar tins.  If not using silicon molds, spray each tin with a little oil spray and line with a strip of non-stick baking paper to run along the base and up the sides.  This will help you ease them out of the molds.  Set aside.

Blend all the ingredients together in the bowl of a mixer or in a food processor.  Yep, that’s pretty much it.

Divide the batter between the bar molds.  Bake for about 20 minutes until risen, and cooked through.  Transfer the molds to a wire rack and leave to cool slightly before turning out of the molds.  Serve slightly warmed, or at room temperature.

Store leftover cakes in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  They will keep for a few days.

Macronutrient Profile
All macros are based on available averages for fresh ingredients.  For the chestnut flour, I have based the macros on the brand I used.  The macros include the version with Natvia and low fat cottage cheese.

Pretty impressive, huh?  The macro profile was an added bonus.  Go chestnut cakes!

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Filed under All Recipe Posts, Protein, Protein Cakes, Special Diet

Cranberry Orange Bundt Cake

I have to ‘fess up to the fact that I am suffering from Post Tour de France Fatigue Syndrome.  Three weeks of sleepless nights due to the time difference was all  worth it for this cycling fan, particularly as I got to see a perfect podium with my favourites standing atop it on the Champs-Élysées – Cadel Evans alongside Andy and Frank Schleck.

Congratulations to Cadel Evans for a fabulous three-week campaign to win the Tour!  Not to mention a historic day for Australian Cycling.  Yay!

But, egad, I haven’t been capable of anything too complicated this past week.  It’s been hard enough just to remember which day is which.  Need sleep 😉

Now I have to endure the annual August TDF Withdrawal Phase.  I really enjoyed TourdeFrancing.  Hey, it’s a verb.  Sure it is.

This week it’s about simple comfort baking.  Nothing too mentally challenging or requiring manual dexterity.  We are smack in the middle of winter here.   That strongly suggests citrus and dried fruits … in this case, oranges, cranberries and sultanas (or raisins).  Whipped up into a moist, buttery, and totally yummy bundt cake.  It practically yells out MANGIAMI!

I’ve been badgered by the family to make a fruit cake for a while.  But, hey, that’s so blah boring … well, maybe I’ve been wrong.  Not so blah when you are feeling totally blah yourself.  Plus, now I am SO in the good books at home.  Big fat grins and happy faces all round.  Top spot on the podium 😀

This cake is a variation on a plain light fruit cake I’ve made for years.  Instead of using just sultanas or raisins, I substituted cranberries for half the sultanas and ramped up the orange flavour.  Very glad I did … the result is fabulous.  Buttery, sweet and tart, and full of fresh orange sunshine.  Do not be tempted to use anything but fresh oranges for this!

Where’s the CHOCOLATE?

There isn’t any … if you really want to, drizzle a little melted dark or white chocolate, or ganache, very lightly over the top, instead of the icing sugar.  But honestly, this cake is best enjoyed for what it is.  Save the chocolate for another day … or later when you get a craving.

You can double the recipe to bake it in a 23cm bundt tin for a larger cake and crowd.

This is great on its own with a cup of tea or coffee.  It is also really good served with a dollop of yoghurt or cream with a little orange zest mixed in.  Put on the kettle, or get your coffee machine humming and cut a slice of buttery fruit cake goodness.  😀

Yields  1 x 18cm bundt cake, serves 6 – 8

Ingredients
120 grams dried cranberries
100 grams sultanas
150 millilitres orange juice, freshly squeezed*
185 grams unsalted butter, softened
150 grams sugar
grated zest of 2 oranges
3 eggs
225 grams plain flour, sifted
3 teaspoons baking powder

icing sugar, for dusting

*Two large juicy oranges should be about right

Instructions
Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF.   Smear an 18cm bundt tin with a little extra softened butter and dust out with a little flour.  Make sure to tap out any excess flour.  Set aside.

Place the cranberries, sultanas and orange juice in a saucepan over a gentle heat.  Bring to a simmer and take off the heat immediately.  Stir and set aside to cool.

In the bowl of a mixer, beat together the butter, sugar, orange zest until light and creamy.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Sift together the flour and baking powder.  Add to the batter and beat until smooth.

Add the dried fruit and juice mixture to the batter and beat until the batter is smooth and creamy.

Place the batter into the prepared bundt tin and bake for 50 – 60 minutes at 180ºC/350ºF.  It is cooked when a skewer, inserted into the centre, comes out with just crumbs attached to it.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack.  Once cooled, remove from the tin and place on a serving dish.  Sift over some icing sugar, if desired, before serving.

This cake can be stored for several days at room temperature, in an airtight cake tin.

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Mango and Coconut Financiers

MMMM Mango …  it’s no secret that I love me some mango.  I know many of you do too, judging by your comments!

The savvy and astute reader, which of course describes each and every one of you, would now be asking: 

Mango?  … and just where are you getting mango from, in June, woman?  Isn’t it winter in your world right about now?

Excellent question.  And indeed, yes, it is winter here in Melbourne.   And rather chilly at that.  Thanks for the reminder 😦

Rest assured I am not clocking up gazillions of food miles by purchasing imported mangoes from across the equator, where summer is in full swing.  Towards the end of our summer, I stock the freezer with kilos, yes KILOS,  of frozen mango cheeks to last me through the winter.  Like a squirrel hoarding acorns.  Just in case.

In the event of a mango withdrawal emergency, I’m covered.   Which is a good thing, because such emergencies occur on a regular basis and I need a reminder now and then that summer really does exist.  I have no affinity with the cold, unless it’s in the form of ice-cream.  Plus, I really love mango and can’t bear to wait another 6 months to enjoy it again.  Woo hoo for snap frozen fruit!  I usually keep frozen mango for my protein smoothies, but it’s also great for baking and desserts.

For those of you lucky enough to be enjoying fresh mangoes in season right now … oh, how I envy you.  Spare one to make these gorgeous yummy little cakes.  For the rest of us, we can either wait (what? no!)  or rush out now to buy frozen mango cheeks (tip for Australian readers:  Berry King.  Google it).

It’s hard to go past a good financier.  They are so buttery, light and delicate.  Add mango and a little coconut and you’ve got yourself a mouthful of heavenly goodness right there.  The mango pieces sink into the cake a little as it bakes so that you get a mouthful of fresh mango as you bite into the centre.  I don’t brown the butter for these to keep them light and to let the tropical flavour shine through.  Dainty, tropical deliciousness.  Close your eyes and …

Oh, I’d like to thank you for all the lovely, generous and fabulous comments.  You are the greatest ever!  Without you this blog would have died a sad and lonely death months ago.  I hope you enjoy this and future posts and recipes! 😀

These are gluten and wheat free.

Makes 12 financiers

Ingredients
100 grams unsalted butter
4 egg whites, at room temperature
85 grams almond meal
55 grams cornflour
45 grams shredded coconut
145 grams pure icing sugar
few drops natural mango aroma* (optional)
140 grams mango flesh (approx), diced (about 36 small pieces)

* I’ve used a little natural mango aroma in the batter this time, but it’s not necessary.  I bought it a while ago and wanted to try it out.  Lovely flavour but non-essential.  They are delicious without it (and less expensive!).

Instructions
Preheat the oven to 170℃.  I used silicon friand moulds but if using standard friand or muffin tins, grease with a little extra melted butter and dust with extra cornflour.  Be careful to tap out any excess flour.  Set aside.

Gently melt the butter and set aside to cool slightly.  Whisk the egg whites until really foamy.  Do not beat until soft peaks.  We are not making meringue!  Place the almond meal, cornflour, shredded coconut, and icing sugar into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until combined and the mixture is fine.  Sift the dry ingredients together.

Gently fold the dry ingredients into the egg whites.  Drizzle the melted butter over the top of the mixture.  Add the mango aroma, if using, and gently fold only until incorporated.

Spoon the batter into the prepared financier moulds.  Top each financier with 3 pieces of mango.  Bake the financiers at 170℃ for about 30 minutes, until risen and golden.  When cooked, remove from the oven and leave on a wire rack to cool before removing the financiers from the moulds.

Serve at room temperature.  They keep for several days in an airtight container.

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