Rose & Almond Fairy Cakes

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Summer is just around the corner down here in Kiwi-land, and the first of the roses are blooming. It’s the perfect time to celebrate their arrival with these Rose & Almond Fairy Cakes.

Now, in all honesty, I’ve never been much of a cupcake fan. As pretty as they tend to be, I often find them to be a little dry or worse… tasteless. Then there are these babies… With their glorious flavours of almond and rose, along with a tangy lemon icing, they are uber delicious. They’re also amazingly soft and moist and the addition of ground almonds adds a wonderful texture. Not only will they completely satisfy your tastebuds, they’ll also leave your kitchen smelling of roses.

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Thanks to Good Food.UKTV.co.uk for this fabulous recipe. I stuck with the recipe fairly religiously, though I did substitute gluten-free flour for standard flour – trust me, you’d never know the difference.

I have no hesitation in saying these are the BEST cupcakes I’ve ever eaten. I can see them becoming a regular family treat and I won’t be waiting for an excuse to make them again.

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ROSE & ALMOND FAIRY CAKES

Makes 12 mini cupcakes

Ingredients: (This recipe uses metric measurements; click here for Unit Converter)

For the almond rose cakes:

  • 115g (4 oz) butter, softened
  • 115g (4 oz) caster sugar
  • 1 tablespoon rose water
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 medium eggs, lightly beaten
  • 30g (1 oz) flour (I used a gluten-free blend)
  • 115g (4 oz) ground almonds
  • 1-1/2 tablespoon full-fat milk

For the rose icing:

  • 140g (4.9 oz) icing sugar
  • 1 tablespoon distilled rose water
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Optional: Crystallised rose petals, to decorate (see note below)

Method:

For the almond rose cakes: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C (400F). Place 12 mini paper cupcake cases in a muffin pan (normal sized cases are too big).
  2. Beat the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Gently beat in the rose water and almond extract. Beat in about half the beaten eggs, then sift the flour over the mixture and beat in, followed by the remaining egg. Mix in the ground almonds, followed by the milk.
  3. Spoon the mixture into the paper cases (filling them about 3/4s full). Bake for 20 minutes or until the cakes have risen and are golden. Test by lightly pressing with your fingertip: the sponge will spring back if cooked and an inserted skewer will come out clean. Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool before icing.

For the rose icing:

  1. Sift the icing sugar into a bowl. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the rose water, followed by the lemon juice, until you have a thick, smooth icing.
  2. Drop a teaspoonful of icing on to the centre of the first cake and tilt the cake slightly so that the icing spreads out evenly over the surface of the cake (I found spreading the icing with the back of the teaspoon worked well). Repeat with the remaining cakes.
  3. Once the icing begins to set, gently press a sugared rose petal onto each cake. Leave until the icing is firm.

Notes:

You can buy crystallised rose petals in good baking shops or you can make your own. Take a freshly picked, unsprayed rose. Ideally, it should be heavily scented, but it’s not essential.

Separate the petals. Beat a little egg white and, using a brush, delicately coat the first petal in egg white, before liberally dusting it with caster sugar. Lay out on some greaseproof paper to dry (putting them in a warm, dry place hastens the drying period). Repeat with the remaining petals. The sugary coating needs to harden before use. This will take about 1 hour.


Food Photography Info: Canon 550D (EOS Rebel T2i); Sigma 30mm 1.4 DC ‘Art’ lens / Natural lighting

Peanut Milk Chocolates

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Having knocked out some dark chocolates recently, it was time to try out milk chocolate. It’s not really that I’m a chocoholic but I am slightly obsessed with making it! Having said that, I can’t really be bothered with the whole tempering gig; I’m far too impatient for all that. So, this recipe is for those of you who want a quick chocolate fix without the fuss.

I’ve made another version of nut chocolate previously – that one used coconut oil as the setting agent – an ingredient widely accessible. This version uses the authentic stuff – cacao butter – and delivers something a little closer to ‘real’ chocolate.

I adapted this recipe from one I saw on YouTube from Todd’s Kitchen – I used raw cacao powder instead of cocoa powder, added salt and vanilla extract, as well as peanuts. I made two versions actually… one with the suggested icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar) and one with honey. The sugar version does deliver chocolate more akin to the bought stuff, though it doesn’t have the ‘snap’ quality of tempered chocolate. The honey version, apart from tasting strongly of honey, is much fudgier. But both are delicious and you can choose whichever version suits.

Of course, it goes without saying, that if you don’t like peanuts you can add whatever you prefer – perhaps slivered almonds, raisins, cranberries or crystalised ginger. You can also adjust the amount of milk powder to suit as well. Enjoy!

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PEANUT MILK CHOCOLATES

Makes about 16 chocolates (depending on size of mould)

Ingredients: (This recipe uses metric quantities; click here for Unit Converter)

  • 75g cacao butter
  • 75g icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar), sifted (or you can use about 2-3 tablespoons honey)
  • 25g milk powder
  • 30g raw cacao powder (or cocoa powder)
  • Pinch of salt
  • Optional: 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (don’t use the stuff with alcohol in it or your mixture may seize)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped peanuts

Method:

  1. Place a Pyrex or metal bowl on top of a saucepan that has a small amount of water in it. Bring the water to a slow simmer over a moderate heat then turn the heat down to low.
  2. Grate or finely slice the cacao butter and add tothe bowl. The cacao butter will start to melt straight away – use a whisk to stir it around as it melts.
  3. Once the cacao butter has melted, add the sifted icing sugar (or honey) a little at a time and stir well until the sugar is fully incorporated.
  4. Now add the milk powder and stir well. Then add the cacao powder (or cocoa) and stir well once again. Finally add the salt, peanuts and optional vanilla extract. Stir until well combined.
  5. Pour the mixture into a chocolate mould (a silicon mould helps make the chocolate shiny), then put into the fridge until set (roughly takes an hour). Store the chocolate in the fridge to keep it firm.

Food Photography Info: Canon 550D (EOS Rebel T2i); Sigma 30mm 1.4 DC ‘Art’ lens / Natural lighting

Hokey Pokey

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Hokey pokey (or honeycomb, as it’s often referred to in other parts of the world) is one of New Zealand’s favourite candies and one that’s been around for generations. I remember making it at primary school (we’re talking early ’70s here folks!) at one of our weekly Home Economics classes. I particularly recall being in awe of its metamorphosis from simple sugar syrup to frothy, aerated crunchy confection.

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Seed Crackers

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I thought it was high time I made some crackers. But not just any crackers… Really, really, really, healthy crackers! No wheat (so no gluten), no dairy, just seeds. Which seeds, you ask? Well… the line-up includes sunflower, pumpkin, sesame, poppy, linseed and chia… truly a power-pack of antioxidants, minerals and fibre.

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Raw Dark Chocolates

Raw Dark Chocolate_site

On a whim a few months ago, I bought some silicon chocolate moulds for no good reason at all, other than the fact that they were cute. After all, who can resist love hearts?

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Afghans

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Afghan Biscuits are about as Kiwi as they come, though no-one seems to know exactly when they originated or why they’re called Afghans. Latest opinion has them originating around the 1930s and there’s so much speculation regarding the name, that it’s pointless even entering into the debate.

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Seed & Nut Loaf

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This delicious bread should be classified as a super-food, seriously! Okay, it might be a stretch to call it bread given it contains no flour, but if you’re gluten-intolerant this seed and nut ‘bread’ might just be the answer to all your prayers. Want to know what it contains? Try… flax seeds (linseeds), oats, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds and psyllium seed husks. Yep, that’s a whole lotta goodness and fibre right there.

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