Baking: No-bake Rum ’n’ Raisin Choc Coconut Slice

Chocolate, coconut, rum, raisins, chocolate digestives, can’t be all that bad? Can they? There’s wheat and fruit in there. They count for something, surely. After a few of these rum ’n’ raisin slices, with coffee as one does, I was ready to curl up in front of the heater and doze off. 

Here’s the recipe:

Base
1 3/4 packs chocolate McVities (400g each pack), crushed finely
3 cups dessicated coconut, plus extra
1 cup raisins, covered and soaked in rum / Captain Morgan Spiced
1/3 cup cocoa
1 block chocolate / Cadbury’s Old Gold Rum ’n’ Raisin (200g), melted 
100g butter, melted
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 egg
2 tsp cinnamon

Melt butter and condensed milk and stir through thoroughly. While warm beat in the egg and continue to heat until all combined. The mixture should be quite hot. Add in the cinnamon, melted chocolate block and cocoa. 

Add the crushed biscuits, dessicated coconut, raisins and any unabsorbed rum from the raisins. Ensure all combined. The mix will be fairly stiff. Press into a lined slice tin and set aside to refrigerate.

Rum Icing
2 cups icing sugar
50 g butter
4 tbps rum 
sprinkle of cinnamon

Cream butter and sugar until white. Add in rum. Mix together. Sprinkle over cinnamon. Once the slice has set, an hour in the fridge should do it, spread the rum icing over the top. Slice.

The best thing about these slices is the icing, and biting into popping, plumped up raisins. 

They will be raisin’ the bar on y’r arrrf-ternoon. 

But be warned, they are dense and they’ll put a rose in your cheek. If you’re like me, they’ll leave you looking like a giddy schoolgirl with a crush for the next half-hour—or shall I say, rocking the scarlet glow of the Orient.

Best served with an arrrtfully corny pirate joke (if that isn’t an oxymoron), and something like a cuppa, reminiscent of the ‘c’. 

Aye, do try these, you’ll be hooked.

Baking: Choc-Mint Slice

I have a confession​ to make: I messed up. I got my dates all mixed up. I’ve gone and done something that’s almost criminal. 

I let July 21 pass without the moment of reverence it deserved.

I missed National Lamington Day. I know. It is with an unopened pack of dessicated coconut against my heart that I say ‘Lamington proponents of the day, I acknowledge your right to get the pitchforks out’.

Early last week (I lie: coming on two now) I was up late researching Lamington recipes of all types—traditional, filled, flavoured, banana bread Lamingtons even. I feel like that last one might fail the bona fide Lamington test if there were such a thing. An unAustralian Lamington or a very Australian Lamington? I wonder what Captain Cook would have thought. Would he have shipped the banana bread Lamington pairing? I have a feeling he might just have flagged both as delicious.

Lamingtons had, by all accounts, been in mind. I had sorted through all the must-know tips for sorting National​ Lamington Day (I was amazed: there are articles on this). I had the date set in my mind. During the week, I had done a Woolies shop for Lamington supplies, and had even remembered to bring my reusable Woolworths Macro Jute bag like a good little Woolies customer. I had bought my two types of coconut for the pantry: shredded and dessicated. Yes, they are different, and no, that wasn’t impressed upon my mind until said research into Lamingtons. I had got a new half-kilo butter block for the fridge. I had stocktaked my chocolate stash to ensure the adequacy of supplies: two full tins of dutch cocoa powder, one of Nestlé’s cooking cocoa, and three blocks of chocolate. Ostensibly satisfactory to most minds, but I always get a niggling feeling that more I could do with.

Then things got in the way. Enthusiasm waned. Lost in a sea of distractions, the arbitrary passing of time, somewhere between four sunrises and sunsets, Lamington Day dropped off my radar. 

Four days later I instead did up a choc-mint slice.

Because I felt like mint. 

I’ve resolved to postpone Lamingtons until such time that I can do them justice. Lamington Day Atonement Day is in the pipeline. Lamingtons on hold…

Here’s the recipe for the choc-mint slice

Ingredients:
150g butter
1 egg
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp peppermint extract
1/2 cup plain flour
1/3 cup SR flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup desiccated coconut, plus extra

Mix butter and sugar. Mix through egg. Add extracts, cocoa powder and stir through flours. Bake in a lined slice tin at 150°C for 20-30min until a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool while preparing icing.

Icing:
2 cups icing sugar 
50 g butter
2 tbps water
1-2 tsp peppermint extract
1 drop green food colouring

Cream butter and sugar. Add water and extract. Add colour. Mix well.

Spread on top of cooled slice. I didn’t let mine cool, they were just out of the oven and onto the board—definitely made it fiddly to ice and cut. 

Ever since discovering Nestlé’s Peppermint Crisps this year, I’ve been digging minty flavours. It’s like it flicked on a switch allowing me to appreciate mint-flavoured things rather than have them remind me of toothpaste. 

These mint slices are light as, and very easy to eat your way through. They won’t do your wallet in. 

For an absolutely mint version of these, I’d add:
• to the topping, a sprinkling of crushed Nestlé Peppermint Crisps and chopped up Nestlé Mint Patties. Replace the icing with melted dark chocolate. Add a tablespoon or two of peppermint schnapps to keep things cool as a cucumber.
• to the base, a good chunk of a block of melted Lindt Dark Intense Mint from their Excellence range. This stuff is velvety and simply mint.

I am going to have to do the decadent version of these. I’ll add it to the list of things I’ve mint to do but haven’t.

Baking: No-bake Lemon and Coconut Slice

Slices are something I want to get into, and this one I had been wanting to try for some time. 

I feel like having a slice and coffee during a coffee break is the less fanciful, less pretentious option compared to having cake and coffee. 

Maybe it’s my overactive imagination. 

If you have coffee and a slice, more often than not I feel the coffee is the main event and the slice is merely a nice accompaniment. It is pretty standard fare, a non-event, to add a slice to an order of coffee. 

With coffee and cake, I think this raises the bar on the type of coffee break being had. At the very least I feel it connotes something more, something less ordinary than just coffee and a slice does. 

Cake is laden with more than just calories. 

‘Cake’ is more loaded with potential meanings than ‘slice’. 

Cake with a morning coffee is easier to judge. 

Cake implies countless things. From celebration, to decadence, to gluttony, but also, to why—having a bad day? In need of a sugar hit? Cake in the morning? Sugar-much?

There’s the matter of determining whether the drawcard, the reason for the coffee break, was more the coffee or more the cake. The ratio for the underlying reasons is a grey area. Was it a coffee break, or a cake break disguised as a coffee break?

In all fairness, I don’t ever think getting a slice could ever inspire as much excitement or interest as cake does. To have cake, is to treat. Birthdays are cakedays not slicedays for a reason.

Still, in good company, if you scoot off to grab coffee but come back with cake too, tell me that you won’t be seen any differently than had you come back with a slice. 

But, like I said, I have a good imagination.

Slice and cake: different and unique and delicious in every way. I do get pretty cut up about these things. 

I must say I’m really pleased with how this midnight no-bake slice turned out!

Here’s the Recipe

Base
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
125g butter, softened
1 1/2 cup shredded coconut
Grated rind of 1 lemon
3/4 of 400g pack of plain digestive biscuits, crushed (McVities are my fav. They also crush very easily: no food processor needed, just whack them in a bag to crush.)

Combine butter and sweetened condensed milk well. Microwave to ensure combined, under a minute should do. Add biscuits and mix well. Add coconut and lemon rind. Combine very well. Spoon mixture evenly into a lined slice tin. Press down firmly with back of a glass until all compacted. Refrigerate while preparing icing. 

Icing
1 3/4 cups icing sugar, sifted
3-4 tbsp lemon juice, depending
40g butter, softened
1/4 cup coconut + excess coconut for topping

Combine icing sugar and butter. Cream as far as possible. Add in lemon juice, more if needed. Mix well. The mix should be fairly stiff, playdough like. Add in coconut and mix well.

With a spatula, spread icing over the base and compact. Once completely spread, sprinkle over a generous amount of coconut to completely cover the icing and press down. Refrigerate for an hour, or until set hard before cutting.

My midnight baking brain decided I’d take the photo opportunity to advertise McKenzie’s. 🤦

I had my slices in the fridge for about four hours after. This did wonders to fully set them so they firmed up. For a more citrusy ‘fresher’ taste I’d double the lemon rind. I might do when I next make these. 

They’re sweet; have them with coffee or tea.

Enjoy! 

Baking: Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Carrot cake cupcakes or carrot cupcakes? The former would appear to me to be far more recognisable than the latter because everyone knows what a carrot cake is. Carrot cupcake on the other hand, now that I think conveys savouriness, like a cupcake that’s by definition unhealthy but that is trying to go healthy and vego. But then again if I call it a ‘carrot cake cupcake’ is the ‘cake’ part redundant? Does that make ‘carrot cake’ a flavour which it really isn’t? Physically it is a carrot cake done in cupcake form so that name does work. I have left it so because these bad boys, while they aren’t savoury characters, are certainly not vego-levels of good for you. They are however freakin’ delicious, if I may humbly say. ‘Sold! To the buyer in the maximum-tint sunnies as ‘carrot cake cupcakes‘’. 

Midnight dilemmas sure do keep me nocturnal.

I decided to bake these cupcakes today to de-stress, you know because ‘stressed’ spelled backwards is ‘desserts’ and all. That’s​ my thang. Also, because I haven’t baked a carrot cake in a while. I was itching to bake cupcakes and do a less-dense carrot cake. Also, because I had a huge cravin’ for the best-est ever carrot cake—which of course means home made and super fresh out of the oven. God do I love just-baked carrot cake. Whoever came up with carrot cake kneads more dough, and more than a raisin, while we’re at it. 

Recipe:

Carrot Cake Cupcakes or Cake
3 cups SR flour
1 cup caster sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder (extra rise, optional)
Sprinkling of salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 cups butter
1 cup applesauce
4 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
3 1/2 – 4 cups grated carrots, about 3 large carrots
1 cup chopped walnuts

Cream together well butter, sugars, eggs, vanilla extract. Sift in flour, baking powder and spices. Add in salt. Add in applesauce. At this point the mixture should be fairly aerated and difficult to  stir. Fold through gently carrots and walnuts. Bake at 160°C for 25-30 minutes in lined standard-sized cupcake trays or in a lined cake tin.

Creamcheese frosting
1/2 packet Philly / 125g cream cheese
1/2 cup mascapone
1/2 cup butter
4 cups icing sugar
Handful of walnuts for decoration

Cream together sugar, butter, and cheese. Pipe. Toast walnuts and decorate.

Sans-frosting and Frosted

Out of all the carrot cake recipes I’ve tried, this recipe takes the cake for being super soft and light. It is incredibly fluffy, and very different to the denser carrot cakes out there—which are also yum, just this is a variant without the heaviness. What is astonishing is that there is a great amount of carrot but it still turns out light.

One tip – mind the icing which will be soft and only pipe once cupcakes have cooled; the icing will harden and you should be able to turn the cupcakes upside down after the frosting has set. 

Enjoy!

Baking: Chocolate Cupcakes

Awaking all of a sudden at 4am this morning, I decided to bake a batch of choccy cupcakes for the mum’s class. 

Today’s assembly day and the assembly is themed as part of NAIDOC celebrations at the school. I did cupcakes in red, yellow, green, and blue cupcake liners to reflect the colours of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags.

The cupcakes are iced with a choccy buttercream. Really happy with how they have turned out and I hope the students like them!

Recipe

Cupcakes
250g butter, softened
1 1/2 cups white sugar
4 eggs
2 1/2 cups SR flour
2/3 cups cocoa
1 1/3 cups milk (tepid)

Cream butter and sugar well, until light and almost white. Add eggs. Cream very well. Add sifted flour and cocoa, and the milk. Fold through. 

Bake for 20-30 minutes in small lined cupcake tins at 150°C.

Buttercream
100g butter, softened
2 cups icing sugar
1/3 cup cocoa
2 tbsp milk – adjust

Mix butter, sugar, and cocoa. Cream thoroughly. Add milk. Less is best, adjust accordingly. Pipe.

This recipe makes great chocolate cupcakes and the ingredients won’t break the bank.