playing with flour

Category: Caramel

Caramelised Pear and Almond Cake

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So it’s been a while huh? I could make excuses but to be honest I just got busy and lazy. I’m finally understanding what it means to be an intern – long days, stressful situations and very little time to do the fun things like baking. I’m not complaining though, I’ve learnt so much already and I’m actually enjoying it which I think has surprised me! When I did get some free time recently I took the opportunity to make dinner and dessert for a fellow intern who had resorted to eating microwaved meals – and this cake was the result.

I’ve made this recipe a number of times and keep coming back to it. It’s a moist dense cake with sliced pears covered in caramel. Yep, it’s as good as it sounds. The almond meal and buttermilk make the cake super moist and as there’s a decent amount of caramel topping it sinks into the cake and runs down the sides – does it get better than that?

Hopefully this recipe makes up for my long absence. I’d recommend not overfilling your pan as you want the caramel to penetrate deep into the cake. I’d also suggest cutting your pears a bit thicker than I did as they have plenty of time to cook through and this will give you a good flavour and texture. If the cake gets dark too quickly cover it with foil for the rest of the cooking time and make sure you cook it only until just done.

Forgive me yet?

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Caramelised Pear and Almond Cake

180g brown sugar
100g unsalted butter, melted
3 ripe pears cut into slices

Preheat your oven to 180° and prepare your baking tin with baking paper. Pour the brown sugar over the base and top with the melted butter. Use a spoon to ensure all the sugar gets coated. Arrange the pear slices on top.

170g unsalted butter
250g caster sugar
3 eggs
250g plain flour
100g almond meal
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
250ml buttermilk

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well with each addition. In a separate bowl sift the dry ingredients together then fold into the mixture. Stir through the buttermilk until just combined.

Pour over pears and cook for 60 to 80 minutes until just cooked in the center. Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before inverting onto a plate. Best served still warm with ice cream.

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White Chocolate and Caramel Gingerbread Blondies

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So it’s starting to dawn on me that I have to start being a grown up as of next week. It’s been so long since I’ve had a full time job, I’ve been living the student life for nine years now. While I’m sure the hours are going to be a shock to the system, I think the fact that I have responsibility and will be making decisions regarding people’s health is what is really stressing me out. Yes I’ve been preparing for this for years and I know I’ll be well supported but it really is a lot of pressure – it really is the perfect time to do some stress-relief baking!

These blondies are delicious. Moist, dense and full of flavour they’re super easy to make and can be adapted to use whatever you have on hand. Replace the Jersey caramels with caramel or butterscotch chips or even dried cherries or cranberries and the white chocolate with milk or dark to give a completely new taste. The ginger pairs really well with the white chocolate and keeps it all from being too sweet.

I found the best time to eat them was still warm, straight out of pan but they’re also great once cooled or even out of the fridge if you want them a bit more dense. If you have new years resolutions to eat better this year I would recommend giving these away as soon as possible (do keep one or two for yourself of course) to avoid the temptation to eat the whole pan. Trust me.

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White Chocolate and Caramel Gingerbread Blondies

1 ¾ cups plain flour
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
4 oz unsalted butter
60g golden syrup
½ cup brown sugar
2 eggs
½ cup white chocolate, chopped
½ cup Jersey caramels, chopped

Preheat the oven to 180° and prepare a 9 inch baking pan with baking paper. In a large bowl cream the butter and sugar until thick and pale. Add the golden syrup and vanilla and beat until combined. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between additions.

Sift over the flour, baking soda, salt and ginger and fold through the mixture. Add the chocolate and caramel and mix through until just combined. Pour into pan and smooth over the top with a spatula. Bake for 15 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Allow to cool in pan before cutting.

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Banana and Caramel Cupcakes with Nutella Frosting

I do love meeting new people and making new friends but it can be incredibly hard to do, especially when you don’t know anyone or are starting over in a new place. I’m going to be doing exactly that next year and I am nervous about it but thinking about the friends I’ve made here I know I’ll be ok. One thing I’ve found that can help if you’re wanting to meet new people is to join a sports group or club. In my case it was starting a Zumba class. I did some casual classes initially but once I started going regularly I met some amazing ladies who are a lot of fun. One of these ladies recently turned 60 and she is truly inspiring. She’s at class each week, even getting on stage to help teach. Honestly if I have half her energy when I’m her age I’ll be impressed.

To celebrate her birthday I made these cupcakes and we shared them with some champagne after class. They’re moist and full of banana flavour which pairs really well with the Nutella frosting. The frosting is based on a Sweetapolita recipe and is so light and creamy. I used a salt-reduced butter to offset the sweetness a little which helped prevent a sugar overload.

The caramel goes fantastic with the banana but unfortunately the lollies I used were too heavy and sunk to the bottom of the cupcakes. To avoid this use smaller pieces of caramels or cut them up and mix them through the batter. The other option is to melt them down and make a caramel sauce to fill the cupcakes or swirl though. I topped my cupcakes with leftover praline but this is completely optional and just adds a bit of crunch.

Banana and Caramel Cupcakes 

8 oz unsalted butter, at room temperature
8 oz caster sugar
8 oz self raising flour
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 eggs
8 oz banana puree
Jersey caramels

Preheat the oven to 170° and prepare your cupcake cases. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy then add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Add the vanilla extract and bananas and stir through. Fold in the flour until just combined.

Spoon the batter into cupcake cases until just under half full. Add a caramel to each cupcake and top with more batter to cover. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden. Allow to cool completely before frosting.

Nutella Frosting

Adapted from Sweetapolita

8 oz salt-reduced butter, at room temperature
1 ½ cups icing sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 oz dark chocolate, melted
140g Nutella

In a mixing bowl beat the butter and sugar until light and creamy. Mix the Nutella, vanilla and melted chocolate together then add to the butter mixture. Continue beating until completely combined and fluffy, approximately 3 minutes.

 

Brigadeiros

It’s my husbands birthday today but he doesn’t want me to bake him a cake, or throw a party or make a fuss. It’s funny how for some of us getting older is a thing to celebrate, a day to spend with friends or family and over-indulge but for others it reminds us of what we have yet to achieve and how fast time passes. I honestly like getting older. Looking back I can see how much things have changed and how far I’ve come, and make plans for where I want to be going. However you look at it, to me birthdays still need some celebration, and what better way than with brigadeiros?

Brigadeiros are basically Brazilian truffles. They’re so simple to make with only three main ingredients, but taste unbelievable. Rich caramel flavour with a chewy and dense texture, the versatility of these little treats is only limited by your imagination. Traditionally coated in chocolate sprinkles, I like to flavour mine with whatever I have on hand. This time I chose to make three varieties: orange, cherry and coconut and rum and raisin but almost any combination will work well.

Be careful if using liquids to flavour your mix as too much will change the consistency and make them hard to roll. Using liquors or flavoured essence should allow you to get a decent amount of flavour without too much liquid. Do be careful to stir the mixture constantly as it will burn quickly.

Brigadeiros

1 395g can sweetened condensed milk
3 tbsp cocoa
1 oz unsalted butter

Place all ingredients in a medium saucepan over a medium heat. Heat the mixture stirring constantly for 10-15 minutes or until the mixture gets thick and sticks together. You will find if you tilt the pan the mix will slide together rather than sticking to the saucepan.

Divide into separate bowls depending on how many flavours you are making and allow to cool. You may find it easier to add your flavouring before cooling but don’t try to roll the brigadeiros until the batter reaches room temperature or they will be very messy!

Flavourings

Orange

1 tsp finely diced orange zest
2 tsp Cointreau

Rum and raisin

2 tsp finely chopped raisins or sultanas
1 tsp rum or cognac
Chocolate biscuits for coating

Soak the raisins in the alcohol for 5 minutes then add to the mixture. Process the chocolate biscuits to get a fine crumb then roll each ball in the crumbs.

Cherry and coconut

2 tsp diced glace cherries
Coconut for coating

Caramel Bottom Cupcakes

If I was to suggest one recipe that you make from this blog, this would be it. Remember those caramel chips I used in the biscotti? Here is yet another amazing way to use them. Inspired by the traditional black bottom cupcakes, which are usually made with chocolate cake and chocolate chips, these little treats are full of caramel goodness.

The base is a rich mud cake that truly tastes of caramel and would be delicious baked into a large cake on its own. The smell of the batter is rich and inviting and very hard to avoid tasting! Top that with tangy cream cheese and caramel chips and you have a decadent cupcake that is hard to resist. When I first made this recipe I was skeptical they would turn out as nothing ever works as well in life as it does in your mind, but these do not disappoint. They were such a hit that we ate most of them in a day and my mum has been nagging me for the recipe for months. They also have the added bonus of being easy to transport, as there is no frosting to worry about ruining.

I was lucky enough to be sent some vanilla pods recently and the addition of one of these to the cream cheese frosting was an indulgent treat. If you don’t have access to one or just can’t justify spending the money, feel free to use vanilla extract.

My biggest tip for these very simple to make cupcakes is to ensure you don’t overfill the cases. The cake does rise quite significantly and if you have too much filling you will get overflow (and lose most of the cream cheese). Also be careful not to over bake them to ensure a moist cake and prevent drying out the cream cheese topping. The best advice I can give you? Eat one warm from the oven. I promise you, you will thank me for it!

Caramel Bottom Cupcakes

100g unsalted butter
100g white chocolate
100g brown sugar
90ml hot water
2 tsp golden syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
1 cup plain flour
2 tsp baking powder

Preheat the oven to 160° and prepare your cupcake cases. In a medium saucepan place the butter, chocolate, sugar, hot water, vanilla and golden syrup. Over low-medium heat melt together and using a whisk, stir to combine. The white chocolate may take a while to dissolve, just keep stirring. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Once cooled add the egg and whisk thoroughly. Sift in the flour and baking powder in small batches, whisking between each addition. The batter should change from a dark caramel colour to a lighter butterscotch. Ensure the flour is completely mixed in and has no lumps before spooning into the cupcake cases. As warned (and I speak from experience) don’t fill further than half way.

Caramel Cream Cheese

140g cream cheese
1/3 cup caster sugar
1 egg
Seeds from 1 vanilla pod/1 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
¾ cup caramel chips

In a small bowl beat together the cream cheese, sugar, egg, salt and vanilla on medium speed. I like to leave my mixture with a few lumps of cream cheese but you can process it until it is smooth if you’d prefer.

Stir in the caramel chips, then spoon a teaspoon or so of mixture onto the caramel cake bases. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until the cream cheese is firm and lightly golden.

Caramel Almond Biscotti


Nothing goes better with a cup of tea or coffee than biscotti. Meaning ‘twice-baked’, these crunchy Italian biscuits are simple to make and so versatile you can add almost anything to them. Previously I’ve made simple almond and lemon zest, mixed nut, hazelnut and chocolate and double chocolate biscotti. This time I wanted to use up some of a large bag of almonds I recently bought and these delicious caramel chips.

My mum and I found these caramel baking chips in the supermarket recently and they’ve fast become one of my favourite baking ingredients. They’re strong and sweet and don’t lose any of their caramel flavour when baked. If you cant find them regular chocolate chips or even white chocolate chips would substitute well.

This recipe makes for some really light biscotti with an excellent crunch. The almond and caramel pair really well together and make them seem quite decadent. Next time I think I’ll enhance the vanilla a bit more, perhaps using a vanilla bean instead of extract, to make it a bit stronger.

A couple of tips – be very careful handling the biscotti until they have been baked and cooled for the second time, they are really delicate and fall apart easily. Once finished though they’re firm enough to fling around! Also if your dough is really thin and won’t hold its shape at all you can add some more sifted flour but you’ll have to beat it in by hand. If you do, go slowly and add a small amount at a time and ensure it’s completely mixed in.

Caramel Almond Biscotti

110 g whole almonds
130 g caster sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
230 g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
110 g caramel baking chips

Preheat oven to 180° and line a baking tray with baking paper. Chop your almonds roughly and set aside.

Place eggs and sugar in a mixing bowl and beat until thick, pale and creamy, about 5 minutes or so.

In a separate bowl sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Add this to the egg mixture and beat until combined. Add the vanilla and ensure it is mixed through. The batter should be thick and creamy and quite sticky.

Fold in the chopped almonds and caramel chips.

You now need to mold a log shape with the dough. I found it quite sticky and hard to work with so I would recommend putting it straight onto your baking paper and using some flour to help move it around. It doesn’t have to look perfect but should be a roughly even shape.

Turn your oven down to 160° and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the dough is quite firm and golden. Ensure it is properly cooked or it will fall apart when cutting through the centre. Place on a wire rack and allow to cool for at least 15 minutes.

Using a serrated bread knife cut the dough on a diagonal angle into slices. It’s up to you how thick you would like them; I went for roughly 1.5cm. Place each biscotti back on the baking tray and bake for approximately 10 minutes on each side or until golden. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

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