Thursday, December 29, 2011

Cookie Swap 2011 Guest Post from Gourmet Getaways

As I promised you all I would blog on my received cookies from Julie @ Gourmet Getaways. I have only received 1 of my 2 cookie lots, so to date I can only give you the one I have, hopefully (fingers crossed) I receive my 2nd dozen soon.

My cookies came from Julie at, which I was quite excited about, her food blog is full of amazing ventures and tastings that make me want to sneak into her handbag and sample the wares also.  If you’re like me you would also know Lorraine at Not Quite Nigella (I have been lucky enough to win 2 prizes through her blog and I read her daily posts via email with relish) and I follow her recommendations on cafes, restaurants, hotels, events etc, well Julie is very much the same with photography that puts me to shame!  She has made my cookies look like something in an American shop window or candy store!

Julie made me some traditional Dutch Speculaas. Please find the Cookie Swap Recipe here on Julie’s Blog, definitely worth making, they are super scrummy! The recipe is a keeper in my Christmas file.  Whilst you’re at it whip yourself up a batch for the family, and sit down and enjoy them with a Hot Chocolate and read the delights on Gourmet Getaways.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas That's a Wrap!

Well it is the day after Boxing Day and I think I can say It’s a Wrap to Christmas for another year... I really felt this year came careering down a hill throughout December and the snowball and myself collided at full throttle!  I raced against the clock to get the presents bought then wrapped, the baking completed and parties catered and attended.

It was my two years old’s first Christmas where she really knew what it was all about in the way of who Santa is, what Christmas Carols are and what was adorable is that for 2 days of wrapping I was building the pile under the tree and she never once tried to open them, however we did colour one of Poppy’s with a bit of green texta!  Even on Christmas Eve at my parents her highlight was carrying the dozens of gifts and placing them under the tree one at a time from the car and bedroom, she was in her element!

The turkey was traditionally baked on Christmas Eve so that it fills the house with the glorious smell of it wafting through the house all evening (we then actually refrigerate it to eat cold or warmed on Christmas & Boxing Nights).  We spent Christmas Eve baking the last of the goodies and setting the family dining table and finalising the wrapping.

We all ooo’d, aaah’d and laughed til we cried over Marley Rose (my 2 two yr old) with her excitement over Christmas, she loves all things special, sparkly, glittery, Christmassy, you name it!  Santa brought her a beautiful outside cubby house that she calls her Coffee House and at first she was hesitant to cross the threshold but we went forth in the end and LOVE it with relish. It has a letterbox, a stove top, a kitchen sink and a tool bench.  There was ALOT of present opening, following by EVEN MORE eating, sitting down to the traditional Roast Pork with baked potatoes, carrots, parsnips (which mum insists she always does and the rest of us all heavily debated that they have never made an appearance on the Christmas table previously in 37 years!), Pumpkin Pie and peas. Complimented with Apple Sauce, Gravy, Mint Jelly, Cranberry Sauce, whatever takes your fancy.  Lunch commences with the explosion of Bon Bons and then we all dig into the bag for our traditional Silly Christmas Hats (I opted tis year for the delicate white and diamante reindeer antlers).

I want to share with you all my Christmas in pictures, I got my first SLR camera in June, was too scared to use it at all til August and now I rarely go anywhere with out it!

Wishing you all a Very Merry Christmas for 2011, I hope you and your family had a safe and happy year. Thank you for taking the time to come on my travels this year.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2011 - My Gingerbread Snowglobe Cookies

I am very excited with the commencement of my Blog and Cookie business this year, and to now take part in The 2011 Cookie Swap hosted by and of us subscribed in Australia, and I was thrilled to come up with a fabulous Christmas Cookie to send out to my fellow Aussie Cookie Exchangers.

I have gone with a family recipe my Mum has used annually since the 1970s, it is used for her Christmas Gingerbread house, but I love to also use it for cookies, as it makes a soft but firm cookie that is perfect to decorate and/or hang on the Christmas Tree. And it keeps really well, so you can definitely start the baking a month out from Chrissie!  Plus everyone always raves about how delicious they are!  An exciting thing we started 3 years ago was a “Gingerbread House Day”, where we invite friends to take part and each person makes and bakes their own house pieces (Walls & Roof), this can be done well in advance, and bring it on the day along with a contribution of candy, lollies and bits & pieces to decorate with together.  It is super  fun to see what everyone picks and brings along, we share them all communally, and I make everyone’s royal icing and supply the silver boards for the houses to go on, plus icing sugar (snow) to top off your creation.  Because quite frankly there is nothing like snow in the middle of summer here in Australia!!  Last year saw some extra imagination go into them with battery operated lights, stained glass windows and outside scenes. I am looking forward to our 2011 Gingerbread House Day, it will definitely be blogged following the event on the 11th December in the not so distant future so stay tuned.

So on that note, I have designed a fun cookie for the Cookie Exchange, some cute little Snowglobes. Here is a great family recipe (I’ll now have to dispose of you all in due course for revealing the secret recipe)!  So get out your mixers & arm yourselves with your rolling pins and flex those muscles.... because here comes a knock out cookie heading to a kitsch’n near you!
Magical Christmas Snowglobes

90g butter
1 cup brown sugar – firmly packed
1 cup honey
2 tsp grated lemon rind
2 eggs – lightly beaten
5 cups plain flour
1 cup self-raising flour
1 tsp bicarb soda
2 tsp ground ginger
1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
½ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp ground cardamom

Step 1.
Combine butter, sugar and honey in saucepan and stir over a low heat until sugar is dissolved and butter melted, cool for 10 mins and stir in the rind. Transfer mixture to large bowl, stir in eggs and sifted dry ingredients (important to sift together first). Turn dough onto lightly floured surface, knead gently until mixture loses its stickiness, cover in gladwrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Step 2.
Cut out the paper pattern whilst the dough is refrigerating.

Step 3.
Preheat oven to Moderately Hot (190’C gas or fan forced or 220’C electric non fan forced)
Roll dough out on floured surface until approx 0.5-1cm thick (too thin and it risks breaking or wont be strong enough to hold the roof on when full of icing  & lollies). A hint is to half your dough first and do a wall and roof piece from first half and the same from the 2nd half of dough.  Then with the remainder you can cut out chimney, trees, santas, reindeers, stars, window shutters if desired etc. Place cut pieces onto on a lightly greased baking tray (recommended to also use Glad Baking Paper), and bake on middle shelf for approx 15-20 mins (until golden brown).

Step 4.
Make your Glaze in small pan on stove, stir over heat until sugar dissolved. Stand to cool for 5 mins and transfer to cooling racks, and brush each piece with glaze whilst still warm. This will ensure pieces are glossy.

Note : The Gingerbread can be baked weeks in advance but keep dry & container will make it too soft.

IMPORTANT : DOORS AND WINDOWS!!! You can do this 2 ways, cut them out before baking OR cut out when glazing this way is easier ( & I brushed the glaze in the edges to smooth them). Cut door out but keep it and bring along so that you can ice it on propped open. Windows can be cut in half and iced on as shutters if desired or otherwise use lollies.  If you forget you can always ice your windows or use lollies.

Start thinking of a theme you want to possibly go with, and roof designs, it helps on the day if you have something in mind to work towards. It is so much fun to see what everyone thinks of and brings along to share with everyone, as everyone brings  selection of different kinds of candy treats. Wood Cabin, Santas Village, Hansel & Gretel, Haunted theme, Winter Wonderland and many more, get inspiration from Google Images or sites!  If you want anything extra special & unique make sure you bring it along!

2 Royal Icing Alternatives:
Royal Icing – Version 1 To ice and flood
2 cups Pure Icing Sugar (powered sugar)
1 1/2 Tbsp Meringue Powder
3 Tbsp Water – room temp to warm

Royal Icing  – Version 2 (Gingerbread House alternative)
4 1/4 cups Pure Icing Sugar (powered sugar)
2 Egg Whites
1 tsp Lemon Juice

To decorate Snowglobes
Using Tip #2 – Pipe an outline in pale blue around the circumference of the globe.

Using a Squeeze Bottle – fill globe with pale blue flooding icing.

Using a squeeze bottle – dot white spots into the blue on the surface.

Once globe dried, flood the bottom space in white and cover in crystal cut clear sugar.
Using another colour (example red) with Tip #3 – pipe and fill a base to the globe.
Once globe completely dry – Using white icing with Tip #2 – pipe a Snowman is 3 large dots.

Using  black icing with tip #1 – pipe a hat onto the Snowman.

Optional to put arms or candy cane onto the Snowman whilst still wet.

Again wait til completely dry – using edible textas draw on eyes, mouth, buttons and carrot nose.

Finally sprinkle the globe with edible disco white glitter to add a touch of sparkle to your cookie!

VOILA!!!! All cellophaned up and ready to shape up and ship these bad boys out!!!

I had hoped to also post pictures of the wonderful cookies I received but Australia Post is clearly not having a good year, everything is majorly delayed and 8 days later, I still have no cookies. But you can be rest assured that I will post a blog once they are received so you can see what I got for Christmas!

To take part in next year's Great Food Blogger Cookies Swap here is the link to join and be kept up to date by Julie & Lindsay -

Special Thanks to Julie & Lindsay for putting on a fabulous adventure for us food bloggers to take part in, I have loved it and will be definitely joining it again in 2012, I look forward to it with baited breath. Well done to the truely inspirational emails and helpful hints and advice every step of the way. I cannot believe that at least 22,000 cookies travelled far and wide to us all in the past fortnight. I look forward to receiving mine soon.

STAY TUNED & KEEP YOUR EYES PEELED for the Cookies I receive from :
Julie @
Yasmeen @

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Double Glazed Funfetti Doughnuts.... Devine!

The day started today when I asked my 2 year old what she wanted to cook..... her answer, Dougnuts! I bought a silicone doughnut pan about 6 weeks ago and she keeps catching sight of it and wants to make them and I had yet to pluck up the courage. I hadn't seen her in a few days due to work so I want to have some special Marley & Mummy time, so off I set on a mission to find us a recipe to make them.  This proved a little difficult, all recipes required either a Pillsbury Packet cake mix in the recipe or asked for yeast with proving! A 2 year old does not have the patience for yeast and hours of proving.

After almost 2 hours I was empty handed! I decided to even trek to my mini mart across the street to grab a packet cake mix and go for the popular online recipes on fellow blogs, but alas my mini mart had no packet mixes at all... so back to the drawing board. I decided to improvise on a couple of recipes I had and make up my own to suit needs here with Miss Two!

I may be biased, but I have just downed two of the treats and they are D.E.V.I.N.E. So of course my next course of action is to share it with you fine people. So grab yourself a mini-baker and get them onto stirring duty(if your as lucky as me, you'll have one on hand).
Handy Helper!

2 cups Plain Flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
¾ cup Castor Sugar
Pinch of Salt
2 Eggs
1 Tbsp Lemon
¾ cup Milk – room temp
50g Butter – melted
1 tsp Vanilla Essence
2 Tbsp Rainbow Jimmies

2 cups Icing Sugar Mixture (or known as Powdered Sugar)
¼ cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract or butter emulsion
1 Tbsp Lemon Juice

Prepare your ingredients, first sift the dry ingredients into a bowl (flour, baking powder, sugar & salt), add the lemon juice to the milk and allow it to sit.
Mix, Scoop, Mix, Taste, Test!

Crack both eggs into the mixer bowl and turn it onto a medium speed, add a third of the dry ingredients, then add the milk with lemon (yes this will have thickened slightly or appear curdled). Next add the butter to the mix and then gradually add in the remaining dry ingredients with the vanilla.

Do not over mix or the dough will be tough. However once the mix is fully combined, add the jimmies and fold them in with a spoon.

Spoon the mixture into 2 ziplock bags and seal them as airtight as you can get them. Grease your doughnut pan well (I used Wilton Bake Release). Cut the corner off the bag and pipe the mixture neatly into the pan rings in one neat circle. Only half fill the cavity or you end up with doughnut-muffins if you overfill them.

Bake at 200’C fan forced. Bake for 10 minutes. Cool in pan for 5 minutes before pressing them out on a cooling rack.

Once half the batter baked, start mixing the glaze. Once cooled dip both sides of each doughnut into the glaze and place back onto the cooling rack. I found it beat to place a sheet of baking paper under the rack to catch the dripping glaze.

After glazed allow doughnuts to dry for 1-2 hours to be fully set.
Makes approx 40 mini doughnuts.