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A sweet start to 2014 - recipes

Moist chocolate cake

220g butter

125ml good quality cocoa powder

250ml water

2 eggs

310ml castor sugar

10ml vanilla essence

430ml self-raising flour

150ml cream

Sauce

100g dark chocolate, chopped

125ml cream

20g butter

Combine the butter, cocoa and water in a small pot and heat gently until melted; do not boil.

Beat the eggs and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla, flour and cream and mix until combined.

Gradually mix in the cocoa mixture. Mix until well combined.

Pour the mixture into a greased and lined 20cm cake pan.

Bake at 160°C for 40-50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into cake comes out clean.

Remove the cake from the oven. Pour over the sauce and return the cake to the oven for another 10 minutes.

Remove and cool the cake in the tin before taking it out.

Filling: Combine all the ingredients in a small pot and heat gently until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth.

Coffee and malted puff cupcakes

Makes 16-18

380ml cake flour

5ml baking powder

3ml bicarbonate of soda

180ml castor sugar

125ml oil

10ml coffee powder

30ml boiling water

125ml buttermilk

100g coffee malted puffs, lightly crushed

Icing

125g thick cream cheese

100g butter

10ml coffee powder dissolved in 20ml hot water

500ml icing sugar

malted puffs for decoration

Sift the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda. Beat the eggs and castor sugar until thick and pale. Beat in the oil.

Dissolve the coffee in the water and add to the buttermilk. Add the flour alternately with the coffee mixture to the eggs. Mix until well blended.

Fold in the malted puffs. Spoon the mixture into paper-lined muffin tins and bake at 180°C for 20-30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cupcakes comes out clean.

Remove and cool.

Icing: Beat the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Beat in the coffee. Add the icing sugar and beat well. Spread or pipe the icing on to the cupcakes and decorate with whole or crushed malted puffs.

Lemon and thyme olive oil biscuits

Makes about 26

250ml castor sugar

30ml lemon zest

500ml flour

2ml bicarbonate of soda

2ml salt

15ml chopped fresh lemon thyme

160ml lemon infused olive oil

2ml almond essence

30ml fresh lemon juice

extra castor sugar for topping

In the bowl of a mixer, combine the sugar and lemon zest. Rub the zest into the sugar until evenly moistened and aromatic. Set aside to infuse for a few minutes.

Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt. Add the thyme and set aside.

Combine the olive oil, eggs, essence and lemon juice and whisk well.

Add the lemon-sugar mixture. Beat for 3 – 5 minutes until thick. Add the dry ingredients and beat until just combined. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a baking sheet with non stick baking paper.

For each cookie, roll large spoonfuls of the mixture, which is quite soft into balls and place onto prepared baking sheets. Butter the bottom of a glass and dip the glass in the extra castor sugar. Press each cookie with the sugared glass to flatten slightly.

Bake for 10 – 12 minutes until cookies have puffed up slightly but still look pale. Cool on the baking tray.

Baked egg custard tart

Pastry

100g butter, cubed

250ml icing sugar

3ml vanilla extract

Filling

625ml cream

9 egg yolks

125ml castor sugar

seeds from 1 vanilla bean

grated nutmeg

glacé icing

strawberries to decorate

Pastry: Put the flour and butter into a processor and pulse to form a mixture like breadcrumbs.

Beat together the eggs, icing sugar and vanilla and add to the processor, pulse to combine until the mixture forms a ball. Remove and wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface and line a 25cm loose-bottom quiche pan.

Lightly prick the base. Line with baking paper and weigh down with baking beans. Bake at 180°C for 20 minutes. Remove the paper and beans and return to the oven for another 5-10 minutes to dry out the base. Pour the custard mixture into the base and return to the oven at 160°C for 30-40 minutes until the custard is just set. Remove and cool. Drizzle with glacé icing and decorate with strawberries if desired.

Filling: Combine the cream and vanilla in a pot and heat to just boiling. Beat the egg yolks and sugar together. Pour over the hot cream. Mix well. Pour this into the pastry shell and grate over some nutmeg.

Salted caramel cheesecake

Serves 8-10

200g packet of caramel digestive biscuits, crushed

80g butter, melted

500g thick cream cheese

385g can of condensed milk

1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out, or 5ml vanilla extract

15ml gelatine

60ml water

385g can caramelised condensed milk

A generous pinch of sea-salt flakes

Combine the crushed biscuits and melted butter and mix well. Press into the base of a 20cm springform cake pan. Refrigerate while you prepare the filling.

Beat the cream cheese and condensed milk until smooth. Mix in the vanilla.

Sprinkle the gelatine over the water and set aside to become absorbed. Dissolve in the microwave on full power for 10 seconds. Beat the gelatine into the cream cheese mixture. Spoon the mixture on to the biscuit base.

Mix the caramelised condensed milk until smooth and mix in the salt. Drop spoonfuls of the caramel into the cheesecake, reserving some for decoration.

Use a spatula or knife to swirl the caramel through the cheesecake. Refrigerate until set. Remove the cheesecake from the pan and decorate with remaining caramel.

Banana pudding with butterscotch sauce

Makes 6

2 ripe bananas, mashed

180 ml boiling water

250ml flour

125ml ground almonds

60g butter, melted

Butterscotch sauce

80g butter

125ml brown sugar

60ml golden syrup

250ml cream

Grease 6 extra-large muffin cups well with non-stick cooking spray. Put the bananas in a bowl and add the water and bicarbonate of soda and mix well. Set aside.

Combine the flour, baking powder, castor sugar and almonds in a bowl. Add the butter, eggs and banana mixture and stir to combine.

Spoon the mixture into the muffin cups and bake at 180°C for 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the muffin comes out clean. Remove and cool in the tin for 5 minutes before taking it out.

Serve warm, drenched with butterscotch sauce.

Sauce: Combine all the ingredients in a small pot and heat gently until the butter has melted. Bring to the boil and simmer until the mixture thickens and turns a golden caramel colour.

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