Sunday 27 November 2011

Monsieur, a wafer thin mint? Or mint & dark chocolate ice cream?

Maitre D: And finally, monsieur, a wafer-thin mint.
Mr Creosote: No.
Maitre D: Oh sir! It's only a tiny little thin one.
Mr Creosote: No. F*** off - I'm full... [Belches]
Maitre D: Oh sir... it's only wafer thin.
Mr Creosote: Look - I couldn't eat another thing. I'm absolutely stuffed. Bugger off.
Maitre D: Oh sir, just... just one...
Mr Creosote: Oh all right. Just one.
Maitre D: Just the one, sir... voila... bon appetit...
[Mr Creosote eats the wafer-thin mint. The Maitre D takes a flying leap behind some potted plants. There is an ominous splitting sound. Mr Creosote explodes.]
Maitre D: [returns to Mr Creosote's table] Thank you, sir, and now the cheque.

~ Monty Python, The Meaning of Life

First: A lesson in Kiwi slang.

1. A flavour based on the mint herb.
2. A hard candy of mint flavor.
3. A place where coins are made.
4. What collectors call something in perfect condition.
5. Something is cool, great, sweet, excellent, good: e.g. "I had a mint weekend." 

I really did have a mint weekend. Literally and figuratively.

Saturday: Went to good mate of mine's wedding at the beautiful botanical gardens. Stunning setting, absolutely stunning couple.  Got to catch up with some of my fav people in the whole world, spend the day in the sunshine, and then stuff our faces at the Chinese banquet.  And I got to exercise my democratic rights, flex my civic duty muscles so to say.  A pretty mint day really.

Sunday: Made Mint and Dark Chocolate Ice cream. You could say I had an ice cream Sunday.  A mint Ice cream Sunday.

Oh dear, I'll stop that now.

Sunday 20 November 2011

Delicious expectations: mocha brownies

Now, I return to this young fellow. And the communication I have got to make is, that he has great expectations. ~ Charles Dickens, Great Expectations.

I love baking but I'm actually not that good a baker.
Dude, I've mistaken salt for sugar and made a very salty chocolate log and almost burnt our house down by using a plastic microwave muffin tin in the oven thinking it was silicon.  Being debilitatingly clumsy, baking with me is not a pretty sight.  It usually involves me burning myself on the oven, butter and sugar flying missiles because I've set the beaters on too high, and flour all over myself, the kitchen, and the dog.  Hurricane Nessie has arrived.

I'd never ever back myself to go on any of those "Hottest Home Baker" or Masterchef shows on telly (as much as I love watching them, dramatic pauses and all).  I'd just blush like a tomato, mumble to myself the whole time and probably drop my baking.  Or burn it.  Or start a fire.

What you see on the blog is after I've cleaned up the disaster zone that is a post-Nessie kitchen, after I've taken 100 photos just to get those few precious decent shots. So I am always surprised, relieved, and stoked when people actually like eating my baking or like things I blog about here.

But once you have a baking blog, you do get a rep as "The Baker" and people do expect you to be able to whip up something delicious.  So when it came to baking for my path tutorial group (Team Faed), I was actually really nervous.  What to bake in my little shared kitchen in Dunners that a) I had the ingredients for  b) I could walk down to Uni and c) was delicious.  What to bake for people who have great expectations,  delicious expectations.

In a situation like that, a girl has to do what a girl has to do.  Break out the big guns, one of those tried and true, trusted few recipes you've been baking for years: Mocha Brownies.

Monday 14 November 2011

Going nuts over chocolate peanut butter cupcakes with caramel peanut glaze

FACT: Arachibutyrophobia is the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of one's mouth.

Peanuts are so underrated.

Almonds are sexy thanks to macarons and friands.  Pistachios are oh so exotic when doused with rosewater and honey in baklava.  But the poor wee peanut doesn't have such a glamourous rep.  They're always the ones left uneaten in the roasted nut mix and unlike delicious pecan pie and chic frangipane tarts you don't hear anyone sing the praises of a peanutty pastry creation.

It seems the humble peanut is relegated to being the boring forgettable nut-cousin.  That is, until it's turned into gloriously creamy, deliciously salty sweet, Peanut Butter.

{peanut butter cream cheese frosting is a beautiful thing}
I'm a nutter when it comes to peanut butter.  On toast, in peanut butter choc chip cookies,  or just by the spoonful, peanut butter can do no wrong.

But for some reason, I've never tried incorporating it into a cupcake or cake recipe.  Until now.

Hello Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting and Caramel Peanut Glaze.  Where have you been all my life??

Sunday 6 November 2011

Lemon madeleines for Baking for Hospice and writer's block

The sight of the little madeleine had recalled nothing to my mind before I tasted it....And as soon as I had recognized the taste of the piece of madeleine soaked in her decoction of lime-blossom which my aunt used to give me .... immediately the old grey house upon the street, where her room was, rose up like a stage set to attach itself to the little pavilion opening on to the garden which had been built out behind it for my parents... and with the house the town, from morning to night and in all weathers, the Square where I used to be sent before lunch, the streets along which I used to run errands, the country roads we took when it was in that moment all the flowers in our garden and in M. Swann's park, and the water-lilies on the Vivonne and the good folk of the village and their little dwellings and the parish church and the whole of Combray and its surroundings, taking shape and solidity, sprang into being, town and gardens alike, from my cup of tea. ~ Marcel Proust from 'Remebrance of Things Past'

I made these Lemon Madeleines for our last Baking for Hospice spring themed round a whole week ago and for the whole week I've been writing, re-writing and re-re-writing this post but I just haven't been happy with anything I put down.  It's like Proust did such a good job writing about madeleines that my brain is refusing to encroach on his territorry.  There aren't even any good puns about madelines.  No puns = no fun.

Or maybe it's something to do with all the electioneering going on on tv in the last little bit.  All that politician prattle is frying my brain.

So I'm sorry if this post is a bit of a lemon.
Urgh writer's block, get thee gone!

{my gorgeous madeleine pan from my lovely law ladies}


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