Apple and berry crumble slice

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Apple and berry is one of those combinations that are almost guaranteed to please pretty much everyone – particularly during these cooler winter months. There’s just something about it that makes you want to snuggle up on the couch, right?

While apple and berry crumble is a ‘go-to’ for lots of people over winter, crumble doesn’t need to be reserved solely for enjoying as a warm winter dessert – that’s where this apple and berry crumble slice comes in.

Yip, you get all the beautiful flavours and textures of an apple and berry crumble with all the convenience of a slice. Win!

What makes this recipe even better is that despite having three distinct layers, you only need to whip up one mixture. Simply throw together the base ingredients, give it a quick mix and you’re all set for both the base and topping. And there’s no need to cook the beautiful apple and berry filling before hand either. Easy huh?

The other great thing about this recipe is that it’s made using a ‘secret’ ingredient that gives the slice just the right amount of sweetness with fewer calories – Equal Spoonful. It’s all about bringing those beautiful apple and berry flavours out and making sure the base has a little sweetness to it. And if you didn’t know there wasn’t sugar in this slice, you truly wouldn’t have guessed – it’s seriously that good.

Judging by how quickly this slice is disappearing at our house, I’m sure you will love it.

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Apple and berry crumble slice
Adapted from Healthy Food Guide

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups wholemeal flour
  • 2 cups oats
  • ½ cup wheat bran
  • ¾ cup Equal Spoonful
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ⅔ cup canola oil
  • ½ cup vanilla yoghurt
  • 2 apples, finely diced
  • 2 heaped cups frozen berries

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius and line slice tin with baking paper.
  2. In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients and mix well.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together yoghurt and oil until well combined. Pour into dry ingredients and mix well.
  4. Scoop ¾ of the mixture into the prepared pan and press firmly to create a flat base. Top with diced apples and frozen berries, then sprinkle remaining oat mixture on top.
  5. Place in oven and bake for 30-35 minutes or until lightly golden. Allow to cool completely before slicing.

This post was made possible thanks to Equal Spoonful. All words, photos and opinions are, and always will be, my own.

Black Forest Tim Tam parfaits

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With the weather cooling down and a newborn on the horizon, I’m spending more time snuggling up at home than ever. And you know what? It’s actually pretty amazing.

While not needing to set an alarm, having the option of wearing pyjamas all day and watching the rain rather than trekking through it are all definite bonuses, that’s not why it’s so great. What I’m really loving is having time to settle down and spend time with friends and family – and really appreciate it.

After all, there’s not much better than throwing on the kettle and spending time with your loved ones, right? Especially if you pop open your favourite Tim Tam bikkies at the same time.

Well, it turns out there is a way to make those moments just a little bit better – by making your Tim Tam treat even more indulgent with these Black Forest Tim Tam parfaits. Yip. Tim Tam parfaits!

This recipe is based around one of my favourite flavours from the new Tim Tam Gelato Messina range – you guessed it, Black Forest. With a rich dark chocolate coating, creamy Tim Tam filling and just the right Black Forest tang, these biscuits are as good as the ice cream – if not better!

That’s what makes them the perfect base for this gorgeous dessert – they’re packed with flavour, so all you need to do is combine them with a few simple ingredients to really make them pop. And like all good desserts, they’re an absolute breeze to make – which means you can spend less time making dessert and more time enjoying them with your friends, family, partner, kids…

Because we all know that a Tim Tam is better when shared, right?

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Black Forest Tim Tam Parfaits
Serves two

Ingredients

  • 4 Tim Tam Black Forest biscuits, crushed
  • 205g (half a can) tinned raspberries, drained
  • 210g (half a can) canned pitted cherries, drained
  • 220g (half a tub) vanilla bean custard
  • 2 Tim Tam Black Forest biscuits, halved

Method

  1. Place 4 Tim Tam Black Forest biscuits in a sealed bag and crush with a rolling pin until broken into small pieces. Open bag and spoon into serving dishes (stemless wine glasses work beautifully) – aim to pop around 3 Tbsp in each glass.
  2. Spoon around 1 Tbsp of pitted cherries into serving dishes. Repeat with approx. 1 Tbsp of raspberries.
  3. Divide vanilla bean custard evenly between the two dishes. Top with more cherries and raspberries.
  4. Carefully cut 2 Tim Tam Black Forest biscuits in half diagonally and stand them in serving dishes. Finish with remaining crushed Tim Tam.

There are four beautiful flavours in the new Tim Tam Gelato Messina range in-stores now – Choc Mint, Salted Caramel & Vanilla, Coconut & Lychee and Black Forest.

This post was made possible thanks to Tim Tam. All words, photos and opinions are, and always will be, my own.

Lemon and raspberry shortbread

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The following blog is not sponsored – I simply love what the Blind Foundation do and want to encourage you to lend a hand this Bikkie Day.

It’s always a bonus when you can make a difference just by whipping up a batch of biscuits – while it’s great having a full biscuit jar tucked away, it feels so much better knowing your baking will brighten someone’s day a bit, right?

How about knowing that your baking is playing a part in changing someone’s life? Pretty massive, huh?

With the Blind Foundation’s Guide Dog Bikkie Day just around the corner, making a difference through your baking is not only possible but it’s totally easy – all you need to do is follow four simple steps:

  1. Register to take part in Bikkie Day to make it official. You’ll be sent a little pack in the mail with a red puppy cookie cutter, bake sale poster and all the info you need to get started.
  2. Bake your biscuits! Mine are lemon and raspberry shortbread – you can find the recipe below if you’d like to try them yourself.
  3. Sell your bikkies to friends, family or workmates in exchange for a donation to Blind Foundation Guide Dogs. You can do this on Bikkie Day (Monday 3 July) or any day that suits you.
  4. Donate the money you’ve raised – and feel great knowing your baking is helping such a wonderful cause.

Too easy!

While I won’t be able to take part in Bikkie Day myself this year, I decided to show my support by coming up with a recipe for all your Bikkie Day bakers – lemon and raspberry shortbread. The dough is easy to prepare, quick to bake and the biscuits hold their shape really well during baking (so don’t worry, your red puppy bikkies will look like puppies!)

Rather than icing red coats on each biscuit, I decided to dip each one in a little white chocolate which was then sprinkled with a dash of freeze dried raspberries. They still look rather cute, right?

So if you have a little time on your hands or just feel like baking for a difference, sign up for Bikkie Day – it’s totally worth it.

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Lemon and raspberry shortbread
Makes 30 red puppy biscuits

Ingredients

  • 225g butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • Zest of half a lemon
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • 4-5 freeze-dried raspberries, crushed

Method

  1. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add lemon juice and zest and mix well.
  2. With mixer on low, gradually add flour to butter mixture. Mix until a dough forms and pulls away from the sides, being careful not to overmix.
  3. Scoop dough into a thin disc and wrap in cling film. Place in fridge for 30 minutes (or longer).
  4. Preheat oven to 170 degrees Celsius and line four baking trays with baking paper.
  5. Remove dough from fridge and turn onto a lightly floured bench. Roll dough out to approx. 5mm thick and cut using red puppy cookie cutter.
  6. Place on prepared tray and bake for 8-9 minutes or until lightly golden. Cool on tray for around 5 min, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  7. Once biscuits have cooled, melt white chocolate chips in 30 second bursts in the microwave. Add oil and mix until well combined (this will thin the chocolate and make it set a little slower)
  8. Dip each red puppy biscuit into chocolate, tapping off excess. Place on baking paper and sprinkle with freeze dried raspberry. Place in fridge to set completely.

 

One biscuit, three ways

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Now that I’m on maternity leave I’ve developed a bit of a new obsession – always having a container of homemade biscuits in the house. Not only is it nice knowing there’s a homemade treat stashed away to relax with for afternoon tea, but it totally takes the pressure off when you know someone’s popping over for a catch-up.

The trick is finding recipes that are quick to make, easy to put your own twist on and (of course), totally moorish. Luckily for you I have a recipe that ticks all those boxes!

This basic biscuit recipe is one of my favourites because of how easy it is to spice up by simply adding an ingredient or two – whatever you have tucked away in the cupboard really! The number of variations you can make with it are truly only limited by your imagination (and pantry).

As well as sharing the recipe itself, today I’m sharing three super simple variations you can make – raspberry jam thumbprint biscuits, classic chocolate chip and, my personal favourite, lemon and poppy seed.

One of the great things about this recipe is that it’s made using a ‘secret’ ingredient that gives the basic mixture just the right amount of sweetness with fewer calories – Equal Spoonful. And guess what? If you didn’t know they weren’t made with sugar, you wouldn’t have been able to guess.

All the more reason to feel better about enjoying two (or three) when you put your feet up, right?

one-biscuit-three-ways_2Basic biscuit dough
Makes approx. 36 small biscuits

Ingredients

  • 125g butter, softened and cubed
  • ¾ cup Equal Spoonful
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups flour, sifted
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 Tbsp milk

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius and line three baking trays.
  2. Place butter, Equal Spoonful and vanilla in a large bowl and cream until pale and fluffy. Add egg and beat well.
  3. Add flour and baking powder. Mix until just combined. And milk and mix until dough comes together.
  4. Divide dough equally into small bowls, based on the number of variations you want to make – three of my favourites are below:

To make raspberry jam thumbprint biscuits

  1. Roll dough into small balls (approx one teaspoon each) and place of baking tray. Flatten gently with back of a teaspoon, then press thumb into top of each one to create a small hole.
  2. Fill hole will ¼ – ¼ tsp raspberry jam. Place in oven and bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly golden.

To make classic chocolate chip biscuits

  1. Add 1 tsp milk chocolate chips and 1 tsp white chocolate chips to dough and mix until chocolate is well combined.
  2. Roll dough into small balls (approx one teaspoon each) and place on baking tray. Flatten gently with back of teaspoon or fork.
  3. Place in oven and bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly golden.

To make lemon and poppy seed biscuits

  1. Add juice of half a lemon and 1 tsp of poppy seeds to dough. Mix well.
  2. Roll dough into small balls (approx one teaspoon each) and place on baking tray. Flatten gently with back of teaspoon or fork.
  3. Place in oven and bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly golden.

This post was made possible thanks to Equal Spoonful. All words, photos and opinions are, and always will be, my own.

South African rusks

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There are a whole lot of things that stand out about our time in South Africa last year – meeting Kevin’s wonderful extended family, road tripping through the South African countryside and (of course) every moment of our dream safari. But one thing I didn’t expect to stand out so much were rusks.

We were lucky enough to stay with family friends during our time in Johannesburg and were made even luckier by all the beautiful cooking and baking that filled their home – including homemade South African rusks packed with all kinds of seeds and grains.

I find rusks a bit of a tricky thing to explain – they’re kind of biscuits that you bake as one big sheet, then slice up into chunks and slowly dry out overnight in a cool oven so they are absolutely rock hard. Like break-your-teeth hard. Until you dunk them in a hot cup of tea or coffee to soften them up – then, like magic, they are a beautiful little treat to work your way through.

From our first jet-lagged morning on African soil, Kevin and I both chewed and crunched our way through countless rusks over endless cups of coffee. For me it was a novelty, but for Kevin it was more of a walk down memory lane. And we both loved every bite!

I’ve been meaning to try making some similar grainy rusks ever since we returned from our holiday but life kept getting in the way. But now that I’m on maternity leave and patiently waiting for this baby to arrive, I figured it was the perfect time to surprise Kevin with a batch of homemade rusks.

And you know what? They’re freaking delicious.

So good in fact that we’re back to our jet-lagged ways of downing endless cups of tea just so we have an excuse have a rusk (or two).

Keen to try making them yourself? Then check out the recipe below – and let me know what you think!

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South African rusks
Adapted from NOMU
Makes approx. 50 pieces

Ingredients

  • 500g wholemeal flour
  • 50g almond meal
  • 50g slivered almonds
  • 100g brown sugar
  • 1 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 cup wheat bran
  • 1.5 Tbsp baking powder
  • 125g butter, melted
  • 2 eggs
  • 500ml buttermilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius and line a large baking tray with baking paper (I used a lamington tray)
  2. In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients. Mix until well combined.
  3. Pour buttermilk into a jug or small bowl and add eggs and vanilla. Whisk until well combined. Add buttermilk mixture and melted butter to dry ingredients and mix until well combined.
  4. Scoop mixture into prepared tray (it will be pretty thick and sticky) and spread evenly. Place in oven and bake for 60 minutes. Line two baking trays with baking paper.
  5. Remove from oven and allow to cool for five minutes. Decrease oven temperature to 90 degrees Celsius.
  6. Turn out onto a large chopping board and slice into rectangular wedges. Place wedges onto prepared baking trays, leaving a small gap between each piece.
  7. Place sliced rusks into oven and leave to dry for 8 hours (yip – 8 hours. That’s not a typo!). Once cool, store in an airtight container.

Raspberry bran muffins (+ WIN!)

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With our new little arrival due in less than two weeks (eek!), I’m busy filling the freezer with all kinds of meals to help get us through those first few weeks with a newborn.

But it’s not just dinners I’m trying to get sorted – I want some baked treats stashed away in there too! Things that we can whip out if we know people are popping over to visit, that I can stash in the husband’s lunch when he heads back to work, and (of course) to have ready to go when we realise it’s been ages since we last ate and just need to get something in.

And that’s what these raspberry bran muffins will be perfect for – grabbing and eating on the run. While they’re still a sweet treat, they’re not something to feel guilty about enjoying thanks to a couple of clever little ingredients.

First up, these muffins are absolutely packed with (you guessed it…) bran, which not only gives the muffins a sweet nutty flavour but also gives you a whole bunch of fibre and protein. This goes hand in hand with wholemeal flour, which helps give the muffins another fibre kick.

Then there’s the fact that these muffins are made with Equal Spoonful rather than traditional sugar, helping give them just the right amount of sweetness with fewer calories. The best part? The husband absolutely devours them and had no idea I didn’t use sugar until I told him afterwards – they still taste great!

The bonus? They’re super quick to whip up and you can easily switch out the raspberries for any berries you have tucked away in the freezer. I’m sure you’ll love them.

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Raspberry bran muffins
Makes 12 standard muffins
Adapted from Life Made Simple

Ingredients

  • 1 cup buttermilk (make your own by adding 1 Tbsp white vinegar to standard milk)
  • 160g tub of berry yoghurt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • ¼ cup Equal Spoonful
  • 1 ½ cups wheat bran
  • 1 ¼ cups wholemeal flour
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup (heaped) frozen raspberries

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius and line 12 whole muffin pan with cases
  2. In a medium bowl, combine buttermilk, yogurt, egg, oil and Equal Spoonful. Whisk until well combined.
  3. Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix lightly. Gradually add wet mixture, stirring until just combined. Add frozen raspberries and stir until dispersed throughout mixture. Spoon into prepared cases.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden and an inserted skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool in pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
  5. If freezing, place in an airtight container when completely cool and pop in freezer. Remove from container and defrost on a wire rack when required.

giveaway_HTWD

Thanks to the lovely team at Equal Spoonful I have an Equal Spoonful prize pack (valued at $50) to give away to one lucky reader.

To enter, simply leave a comment below and let me know what baked treat you would like to make with Equal Spoonful. Bonus points if you share a photo of your creation as well!

Entries close at 11.59pm Sunday 11 June and the winner will be drawn at random. Winner must make contact within 5 business days or they will forfeit the prize and a new winner will be drawn. Sorry – this giveaway is only open to New Zealand residents.

This post was made possible thanks to Equal Spoonful. All words, photos and opinions are, and always will be, my own.

Easy afghans

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There have been a few random things I’ve craved so far this pregnancy – pineapple, Twisties (so weird!), doughnuts (so good!) and most recently, afghans. This baby certainly has eclectic taste – and a bit of a sweet tooth.

As today’s my first official day of maternity leave I thought I’d take some time to let you know that (1) I’m still alive!; (2) everything’s going well; and (3) share my go-to afghan recipe since it’s always at the top of my ‘to bake’ list at the moment.

One of the best things about afghans is how dead simple they are to make – in fact, they almost seem a little too easy!

Read More »

Berry and chocolate mousse cheesecake

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Summer is made for cheesecakes, right? Those cool, creamy desserts are just the thing to wind down with on a balmy (or sticky!) summer’s evening. But let’s be honest, the last thing you want to do on a hot day is spend hours in the kitchen preparing dessert – and cheesecakes are time-consuming, right?

Well, not this one!

This delicious berry and chocolate mousse cheesecake is so easy you’ll be making it over and over again – regardless of the season. And while it’s packed with the beautiful flavour of summer berries, they don’t need to be in season (or even in the freezer) for you to make it.

Like all my favourite cheesecake recipe (head over to the recipe index to find more), this cheesecake is completely bakeless – that means no turning on the oven, no bake time and no concerns about your beautifully baked cheesecake cracking as it cools.

While the layered look of these cheesecake makes it look a little complicated, the chocolate mousse really is the easiest part – it’s all thanks to Chef de Can Chocolate Mousse! Seriously, why complicate things with homemade chocolate mousse when you have this light and creamy chocolate mousse made with fresh Waikato cream available at the push of a button?

The best part is, Chef de Can Chocolate Mousse tastes so good no one will ever know you didn’t make it yourself. Each 250g can makes a massive 1.3 litres of velvety chocolate mousse, so there’ll be plenty left to enjoy as a sneaky after dinner treat even once you’ve impressed your guests with this recipe. Perfect, huh?

So check out the recipe below and get baking – I’m sure you’ll love it!

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Berry and chocolate mousse cheesecake
Makes one 9 inch cheesecake

Ingredients

Base

  • 400g superwine biscuits (or similar)
  • 200g butter, melted

Filling

  • 300ml cream
  • 375g cream cheese, room temperature
  • ½ cup caster sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • 3 tsp gelatine
  • 3 Tbsp berry jam

Topping

Method

Base

  1. Place biscuits in the bowl of a food processor and blitz until a fine crumb. Add melted butter and pulse until well combined.
  2. Grease a 9 inch springform pan and cover base with approx. half of biscuit mixture. Press until firm.
  3. Scoop remaining biscuit mixture around the edges of the pan, pressing up the sides. Place in the fridge to set.

Filling

  1. Pour cream into a large bowl and whisk until soft peaks form. Set aside.
  2. In another bowl, combine cream cheese and caster sugar and beat until smooth and creamy.
  3. In a glass, combine water and gelatine. Mix until gelatine has dissolved, then add to cream cheese mixture. Beat until well combined.
  4. Place jam in a small bowl and warm gently in microwave for 10 seconds until slightly runny. Add to cream cheese mixture and beat until well combined.
  5. Add cream and beat until well combined, being careful not to over mix it as you don’t want to push all the lightness from the cream out of the mixture.
  6. Pour cheesecake filling into prepared base and place in fridge to set for approx. 2 hours.

Topping

  1. When ready to serve, remove cheesecake from tin and place on cake stand or serving dish.
  2. Shake Chef de Can Chocolate Mousse well, then spray spirals of chocolate mousse onto cheesecake. Spirals should be high enough that they sit in line with the top of the base. Continue until entire cheesecake is covered.
  3. Use an offset spatula or butter knife to smooth the chocolate mousse over the top of the cheesecake until level. Add freeze-dried berries if desired. Serve immediately.

This post was made possible thanks to Tatua. All words, images and recipes are my own.