Zesty date squares

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How long has it been since you sat down with a date square and a cup of tea? Chances are, it’s been awhile – they’ve dropped off the radar a little. Well, I’m here to get these delicious little squares back onto your baking list and give them another 30 seconds or so in the sun.

Whether you’re a date lover or not, chances are you’ll love this slice. The sweet, smooth and juicy date filling is sandwiched between two layers of beautifully buttery oat crumble with just a slight zesty tang of lemon.

The star of this recipe is obviously the filling and to get it perfect you need to use the right dates – Californian Medjool Dates to be exact. Californian Medjool Dates are known for being the highest quality dates around, with these sweet, juicy little treats bringing a beautiful caramel flavour through into your baking. So when you’re hitting the supermarket to grab the ingredients for this slice, be sure to pick up Californian Medjool Dates in the fresh fruit and veg section – you can seriously taste the difference.

If you want to try before you buy, you can pop into Auckland Huckleberry stores from 11am to 2pm between 7 – 18 February to sample some Californian Medjool Dates for yourself. All the details about when are where are below – considering how many the hubby tried to pinch while I was making this slice, you can be sure he’ll be there with bells on.

Store Date
Huckleberry Harvest Wednesday 7 February
Huckleberry New Lynn Thursday 8 February
Huckleberry Glen Innes Friday 9 February
Huckleberry Royal Oak Sunday 11 February
Huckleberry The Strand Parnell Wednesday 14 February
Huckleberry Herne Bay Thursday 15 February
Huckleberry Glen Innes Friday 16 February
Huckleberry Milford Sunday 18 February

While you do need to turn the oven on to make this slice (I know that seems almost unbearable in this heat!) it’s well worth doing. Top tip? Bake the slice first thing in the morning, so the heat’s out of your house before the day really gets started.

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Zesty date squares
Recipe adapted from Ricardo Cuisine

Ingredients

Filling

  • 2  cups (approx. 22) Californian Medjool Dates, pitted and chopped
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar, packed
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • ½ tsp baking soda

Base and topping

  • 1 ¾ cups oats
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • ¾ cup brown sugar, packed
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp lemon zest
  • 170g butter, softened
  • ½ tsp vanilla essence

Method

Filling

  1. Preheat oven to 180C and line a slice pan with baking paper (I used a 20 x 30cm pan).
  2. Place Californian Medjool Dates, water, brown sugar and lemon zest in a small saucepan and bring to boil. Reduce heat and add baking soda. Simmer for 3-5 minutes, until Californian Medjool Dates have seperated and filling looks thick and creamy. Set aside to cool.

Base and Topping

  1. Place dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix until combined. Add lemon zest, butter and vanilla essence and mix until well combined and dough sticks together when pressed.
  2. Scoop half the mixture into the prepared pan and press firmly. Spread filling over base and top with remaining crumble mixture.
  3. Place in oven and bake for 45-50 min or until lightly golden. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before slicing.

This post was made possible thanks to Californian Medjool Dates. All words, images and opinions are my own. 

 

Best summer desserts (without using the oven!)

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Hasn’t this summer been the best? The long days, sunny weather and never-ending heat have certainly made this summer one to remember.

The only trouble is it’s been way too hot to actually bake. As much as I’ve wanted something sweet in the house, the thought of turning on the oven has put me off almost* every time.

I can’t be the only one struggling, so thought I’d pull together a quick wrap-up of my favourite summer desserts that you can make without turning on the oven. Enjoy!

*I have a recipe to share with you next week that was a worthy exception – you’ll love it!

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Jelly Tip ice cream bowl – because you can’t beat ice cream in summer! This recipe takes the classic Jelly Tip ice cream to the next level with plenty of raspberry and chocolate goodness.

Simple strawberry & rhubarb cheesecake – flavoured with a little cold brew tea, this cheesecake is sure to be an instant favourite. It’s on high-rotation at our place every summer!

Lighter no-bake cheesecake – looking for something a little lighter? Then try this cheesecake made with unsweetened yoghurt instead of cream. Don’t worry – there’s still cream cheese though!

Strawberry champagne Tim Tam slice – decadent, sweet and perfectly chilled? Tick, tick, tick!

No-bake lemon slice – think crushed biscuits and plenty of lemon! This tangy slice is the perfect afternoon treat during the summer months.

Lemon bundt cake

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Sometimes you just need a cake in the house, right?

That’s exactly how this cake came to be – the baby was sleeping and I just needed something tangy and sweet to go along with my cup of tea.

First up: you’ll need a bundt pan. I only recently picked one up and while you can find all kinds of gorgeous ones around I ended up getting this one from Marks & Spencer. Yip, it’s a UK shop BUT the prices are really reasonable, shipping is cheap and products are great quality – it’s seriously worth having a dig around.

Now, on to the cake itself! The batter is really quick and simple to whip up (chances are you’ll already have all the ingredients!) and the finished cake is well worth delaying your afternoon tea for – it’s light, fluffy, moist and (of course!) nice and tangy. The perfect lemon cake!

Enjoy.

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Lemon bundt cake

Ingredients

  • 140g butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 4 Tbsp lemon zest
  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 2 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup greek yoghurt
  • 1 1/2 cups icing sugar
  • 4 Tbsp lemon juice

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius and grease a bundt pan. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs one by one, mixing well between each. Add vanilla, lemon zest and lemon juice and mix.
  3. Add flour and baking powder and mix until just combined. Add milk and greek yoghurt and mix well.
  4. Pour batter into prepared bundt pan and bake for 45 – 55 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool slightly in pan, then carefully turn onto a wire rack. Leave for 10-15 minutes.
  5. When cake is still slightly warm, combine icing sugar and lemon juice in a medium bowl. Spoon over warm cake to glaze. Finish with lemon zest, if desired.

 

 

Zesty lemon melting moments

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It’s that time of year again – lemon season! The branches of our lemon tree are literally sagging under the weight of all the lemons, so it seemed like the perfect time to do a little lemony baking while the baby snoozed.

These zesty lemon melting moments live up to their name: they’re zesty, tangy and absolutely delicious. They’re also super quick to make and you only need really basic ingredients – chances are you already have everything you need sitting in the cupboard already.

While the biscuits themselves are delightful (who doesn’t love a melting moment?), all the lemon flavour comes from the icing – that’s why it’s so important! I like my biscuits nice and tangy, but if you’d like a lighter flavour simply reduce the amount of lemon zest… or increase it if you’re totally lemon crazy.

Enjoy!

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Zesty lemon melting moments
Makes 10 sandwiched biscuits
Recipe adapted from Chelsea 

Ingredients 

Biscuits

  • 125g butter, at room temperture
  • ¼ cup icing sugar
  • ¾ cup flour
  • ¼ cup cornflour or arrowroot

Zesty lemon icing

  • 20g butter, softened
  • ½ cup icing sugar
  • 2 tsp lemon zest
  • 2 tsp lemon juice

Method

Biscuits

  1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees Celsius and line two baking trays with baking paper.
  2. Place butter and icing sugar in a bowl and beat until pale and creamy. Add flour and cornflour and mix well.
  3. Lightly flour your hands, then roll mixture into small balls (approx. 1 tsp each). Place on baking tray and flatten with a fork dusted in icing sugar.
  4. Place in oven and bake for 12-15 minutes or until cooked through and lightly golden on the base. Place on a cooling rack to cool completely before icing.

Zesty lemon icing

  1. Place all ingredients in a bowl and beat until pale, creamy and smooth.
  2. Pair up cooled biscuits, matching up sizes as best you can.
  3. Scoop icing into a piping bag, snip off the end and pipe a generous circle onto base of one biscuit of each pair. Place other biscuit on top and allow to set at room temperature before storing in an airtight container.

 

Jelly Tip ice cream bowl

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As much as I love making decadent treats, some of my favourite things to make are based around the desserts of Kiwi childhoods – jelly and ice cream. After all, the best desserts don’t need to be complicated – all you really need are good quality ingredients and great flavour combinations.

Now you’ve all seen smoothie bowls right? Well this Jelly Tip ice cream bowl is my dessert version – a glammed up take on one of my favourite Tip Top flavours. And it is totally worth trying.

Forget a smoothie base, this tasty dessert begins by whipping up a batch of raspberry jelly. The trick? Slipping a smaller bowl inside your bowl to create a little nook for the Jelly Tip ice cream to sit within.

But really, this dessert is all about the ice cream – after all, it’s in the name! What’s great about Tip Top’s range of flavours is that they’re all made with only natural flavours and colours, along with fresh Kiwi milk and cream. So while you may not be eating smoothie bowl, you can still feel good about what you’re treating yourself with.

A Jelly Tip ice cream bowl wouldn’t be complete without an extra hit of raspberry and chocolate, which is why I finished mine with some freeze-dried raspberries and raspberry powder, and a milk chocolate disc. Not only does it look pretty gorgeous, but it tastes even better.

Find out how to make your own Jelly Tip ice cream bowl below or pick up one of Tip Tops awesome tub flavours and create one for yourself.

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Jelly Tip ice cream bowl
Creates two generous serves

Ingredients

  • 1 packet raspberry jelly
  • 1 tub Tip Top Jelly Tip ice cream (don’t worry, you won’t use it all!)
  • 1 tsp freeze-dried raspberry powder
  • 12 freeze-dried raspberries, whole
  • 35g milk chocolate, melted and spooned into a piping bag

Method

  1. Choose two medium bowls to serve your ice cream bowl in and two small bowls or glasses that sit neatly within them while still leave plenty of space – I used an espresso cup. Wrap the small bowls or glasses in cling film and spray with cooking spray. Fill with rice and sit within medium serving bowls.
  2. Mix jelly according to the packet instructions and divide into two medium serving bowls. Pop any bubbles that settle around the smaller bowl or glass with a teaspoon, then place in the fridge until set.
  3. Meanwhile, melt chocolate and spoon into a piping bag. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Snip the end and pipe chocolate onto prepared tray in a disc shape. Make a couple, just in case one breaks. Place in fridge to set.
  4. Once jelly has set, carefully twist the small bowls or glasses out of the jelly. Scrape off any residual oil using a sharp knife.
  5. Spoon ½ tsp of freeze-dried raspberry powder onto the edge of the jelly and carefully smooth along the length of the bowl. Place freeze-dried raspberries in a line along the edge of the freeze-dried raspberry powder. Repeat for both bowls.
  6. Warm remaining chocolate in the microwave until warm but not hot. Drizzle over the jelly, beside the freeze-dried raspberries. Repeat for both bowls.
  7. Roll 2-3 scoops of Tip Top Jelly Tip ice cream and pop within the prepared nook within the jelly. Repeat for both bowls.
  8. Carefully peel milk chocolate discs from baking paper and sit behind ice cream in each bowl. Enjoy!

This post was made possible thanks to Tip Top. All words, images and opinions are, and always will be, my own. 

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.