Christmas Shortbread

We had a proper party for the work Christmas do. Like play pool, drink exorbitant amounts of beer, skulk to bed at 5am party. So, me being me, I brought shortbread along! I really know how to bring the fun to the party.

You could say that it is funtastic shortbread! Too lame…?

I don’t want to toot my own horn, but this shortbread is the best. It’s incredibly soft, melt in your mouth shortbread. It’s adorable Christmas shortbread. It could even be easy last minute gift shortbread.

I jazzed mine up just a little bit with some melted chocolate and it was pretty cute. It also melts in the car if you are having the hot Christmas we are having down in middle earth, so be careful of that.

SHORTBREAD

PREP
225g butter
1/2 cup icing sugar
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1/2 cup corn flour

Preheat oven to 160°C

DO
Beat butter and icing sugar together.
Add in flours and mix until combined.
Chill for 30 minutes, then roll out and cut into shapes.
Bake at 160°C for 7-10 minutes, or until the edges are browned.
 

xo Kirste Isabel

Birthday Cake


I'm gonna get real honest with you guys. My birthday every year is always fantastic, but also disappointing. But not disappointing? I build it up in my mind like it's going to be the greatest day of the year and everything is going to be blissful and fantastic. I imagine myself waking up naturally after a great night's sleep with heaps of time before heading to work and then everything will be perfect.

The day never turns out like that. But it is still fantastic! In fact, it is probably better. This year, I spent my birthday at work and then had an evening all by myself.  The day was very ordinary - I still found it hard to get up on my alarm and I spent the evening baking a cake to take into work. It was nothing I had built up in my mind. But it was great. 

I guess I am just trying to explain how the simple fact of it being my birthday makes me look at the day with a positive lens, regardless of whether there are celebrations or not.  

I have a new birthday buddy at work. So naturally I used that excuse to make a cake! I like baking, people like eating my baking... It's an arrangement that works :)

I used Annabel Langbein's banana cake recipe and threw in 200g of chocolate chips at the end. I split the batter between two 7 inch cake tins to create two layers.

I then made a batch of Italian Meringue buttercream and added some melted chocolate. I was so incredibly nervous carrying this cake on the bus. I was worried some annoying kid would try stick his finger in the frosting. I managed to get to work without too much incident (I managed to stick my shirt in the frosting at one point. Oops!)

It went down a treat at the office! Happy birthday to Acorn and me

xo Kirsten Isabel

 

  

Mocha Caramel Slice


I became a milkshake connoisseur for a time. It followed the first real flu I had had in years and soothed my forever irritated throat. (Seriously, I don’t want to be a major moaning myrtle but the night coughing and scratchy throat lasted two months. It sucked…) Every time we went to eat somewhere that sold milkshakes, I tried it. If you want a good milkshake in Auckland I can tell you where to get it. One time I tried a mocha caramel milkshake. It was a flavour combo I had never tried before and it was amazing! 

Of course, I wanted to combine these two things at home so I made this mocha caramel slice. It has the comforting roasted coffee smell without an overpowering coffee flavour. It helped us power through seven hours of DnD so it may also have magical abilities (no promises).

MOCHA CARAMEL SLICE

PREP
125g butter, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
4 Tbsp cocoa
3 Tbsp strong brewed coffee

1 tin condensed milk (395g)
25g butter
2 Tbsp golden syrup
2 Tbsp brown sugar

100g dark chocolate
1 1/2 Tbsp milk
1 Tbsp instant coffee

Line a slice tray with baking paper.
Preheat the oven to 175°C

Cream together softened butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg.
Whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa and baking powder).
Alternate adding the dry ingredients and the brewed coffee. It should come together into a dough.
Press into a lined slice tray and prick with a fork. Bake at 175°C for 7 minutes. 

In a saucepan, melt together the condensed milk, butter, golden syrup and brown sugar. Stir over a low heat until everything is combined and there are no sugar grains.
Spread over the cooked base and bake at 175°C for 7 minutes. Allow to cool in the tray.

Heat the milk slightly and dissolve the instant coffee in it. Melt the chocolate into the hot milk-coffee. It should form a spreadable ganache. Spread over the cooled caramel and leave to set. 

xo Kirste Isabel

Apple and Cinnamon Muffins

This week I have been doing way too much laundry and there is constantly a rack of washing drying at the moment. The apartment smells like slightly damp sheets. It isn't that nice of a smell.

So I wanted to do some baking and I wanted to make something that would smell amazing. And these do! It smells like an apple pie. No kidding.

Edit: I am writing this the morning after I made the muffins. L got up very late and had to get out of the house 5 minutes after he woke up. And he grabbed a couple of these muffins and ate them on his way out of the house. Go muffins! Muffins make your life easier. You should make these.

APPLE AND CINNAMON MUFFINS

PREP
200ml milk
100g butter, melted
2 eggs
2 apples
half a  lemon
1 2/3 cup flour
1/3 cup white sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
cinnamon sugar to decorate

a muffin tray, greased and floured

DO
Whisk eggs, milk and melted butter together. Set aside.
Peel and grate 2 apples (avoiding the core). Squeeze the juice of half a lemon overtop to keep the apple tasting fresh.
Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
Squeeze out the  juice from the grated apple and sprinkle the apple over the dry ingredients.
Spoon 3 tsp of the leftover apple juice over the dry ingredients.
Pour over the wet ingredients and fold everything together.
Spoon into a muffin tray and sprinkle the tops with a little cinnamon sugar.
Bake at 175°C for 13 minutes, or until the top springs back to a light touch.
Allow to cool on a wire rack.

Cinnamon sugar is super easy to make. It's just sugar and cinnamon mixed to taste. I keep mine in an empty spice container and it is great on pancakes and french toast.

I made a video of this recipe which you can see here :)

xo Kirsten Isabel

Cookies and Cream Layer Cake


Three years doesn't seem like a very long time. At risk of sounding terribly soppy, it has been a wonderful three years. L and I had our anniversary recently. Neither of us could remember the exact date he first called me his girlfriend so at year one we rolled a 20 sided die to pick the date.

This year it went by pretty uneventfully. We were both in the midst of getting ready for exams so we picked up some Chinese takeout and watched a movie. He'd never seen Anastasia

Anyway, I decided I wanted to some baking for it. His favourite ice cream flavour is cookies and cream so I made a cookies and cream cake with layers of vanilla cake, chocolate chunks, vanilla meringue buttercream and oreo cookie crumbs.

We shared it with a big group of friends on the weekend and had to send everyone home with an extra slice to get rid of it all! It seriously is enough cake for twenty servings...

I used Bakerella's vanilla cake to make three layers. I sprinkled chunks of dark chocolate on top just before baking.  I left them sitting upside down overnight to try to flatten the small mound each had.

I made up some of Yo's Italian Meringue Buttercream. It was my first time trying this recipe and I don't think I ever want to go back to the crap made with icing sugar. it is so silky and smooth and delicious! It was pretty nerve wracking making it - everything has to happen at the exact right time to work. But it worked!

I layered the cake in this order:
Vanilla Cake
Buttercream
Oreo cookie crumbs
Repeat!

And then covered the entire thing in a layer of buttercream and cookie crumbs. 

Pressing the cookie crumbs into it made a HUGE mess. But it was totally worth it.

This cake went down really well, and the chocolate chunks added a nice touch.

Happy anniversary my love.

xo Kirsten Isabel

Mini Chocolate Donuts - All Black


The All Blacks are through to the semi-finals and it is great! I'll be getting up at 4 am to watch the game so thought I'd make some snacks. L won't be getting up, I'll have to be cheering quietly.

These are super cute! I made the ferns and letters out of white royal icing and let them dry for a couple of hours. I wasn't very good at the icing so I didn't make too many!

MINI CHOCOLATE DONUTS

PREP
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp white vinegar
75g butter, melted
1 egg
1/2 cup white sugar
3/4 cup flour
4 Tbsp cocoa
1/2 tsp baking soda

DO
Mix the milk and white vinegar together. Set aside to curdle.
Whisk together egg and sugar until the mixture is pale and fluffy
Sift dry ingredients over the egg mix.
Fold together with the milk and butter.
Pipe into a greased donut tray.
Mini muffins bake for 7 minutes at 180°C.

I made a video about it so you can check that out here if you want to :)

xo Kirste Isabel

 

Apple and Coconut Porridge

Things have been a little crazy around here. The last 3 weeks have gone in a blur and I feel like I've been functioning on autopilot. Currently, I have an essay and an exam looming over my head. I just can't wait for some normality. Just three more days to go and I will have a very very long sleep in and read the pile of comics I have been saving up.

When you are so busy with family, work and relationships it can be hard to remember to take time for yourself. In the midst of all this running around, I decided to make an effort towards my breakfast. It was some chill time by myself in the morning to rest before the day started. And on the weekend it allowed some time to sit with L before we went off in our different directions.

After all that rambling (can you tell I am procrastinating), I have a recipe to share with you. This is for apple and coconut porridge. I think it's pretty yummy. I made it on the weekends to share with L so the recipe is for two. It goes quite nicely with a cup of tea :)

APPLE AND COCONUT PORRIDGE

DO
Peel, core and chop the apples into 1cm square pieces.
Throw all the ingredients in a saucepan and place over a medium heat.
Stir until all the liquid is soaked into the oats.
Serve with a little extra milk and some extra coconut.

PREP
1 cup oats
1 1/2 cups milk (or water)
pinch salt
2 apples
1/2 cup coconut flakes

What do you do for self care when you are short on time?

xo Kirste Isabel

Basic Chocolate Chip Cookies


Chocolate chip cookies are a baking basic. I'm pretty sure they were one of the first things I learnt how to make. These ones are crispy on the outside and soft in the middle which is the way I love them.

This recipe is great because a child could do all of it by themselves (except maybe take the cookies out of the oven). All you need is one bowl and one wooden spoon. It should be part of your baking repertoire.

I even attempted to make a youtube video, so you can see me make these cookieshttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ewFMUF11B4k below :)

CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

PREP
75g butter, melted
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup of chocolate chips or chopped chocolate

Preheat oven to 180°C

DO
Combine butter and sugars.
Beat in one egg.
Add the flour and baking powder. Stir until it is half combined.
Pour over the chocolate chips. Mix until it is all combined.
Roll into balls and press down with a fork.
Bake for 7 minutes at 180°C

xo Kirste Isabel

Chocolate Cupcakes with Coffee Buttercream


It has been a crazy couple of weeks. I now have a gorgeous wee goddaughter, we said goodbye to grandad, and a huge variety of emotions in between.

I thought I would share a recipe I made a couple of weeks ago for L's LAN. They are chocolate cupcakes using vinegar and baking soda to rise. I love that little combination! It makes baking feel all science-y. It also keeps the cupcakes nice and moist.

CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES

PREP
2 cups flour
1/3 cup cocoa
2 cups sugar
1 tsp baking soda
2 eggs
200g butter, melted
2/3 cup milk
2/3 cup strong coffee, cooled
1 Tbsp white vinegar

Line a muffin tray with cupcake cases
Preheat oven to 180°C

DO
hisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
Whisk together the wet ingredients (this is easier if all your ingredients are room temp)
Combine the wet and dry ingredients. Mix until it is just combined.
Spoon into 24 cupcake cases.
Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until the top springs back to a light touch.
Cool on a wire rack

 

COFFEE BUTTERCREAM

PREP
200g butter, softened
3 3/4 cup icing sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 1/2 Tbsp instant coffee

DO
Heat the milk slightly and dissolve the coffee into it. Set aside to cool down.
Beat butter until light and fluffy.
Sift icing sugar into a bowl. Add to the sugar in small parts, beating well after each edition.
Slowly pour in the coffee as the mixture is being beaten.
Continue to beat the mixture until it is light and fluffy.

xo Kirste Isabel

Dark Chocolate Brownie


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This is my favourite brownie recipe. It is lovely and fudgy and soft in the centre. The trick to this texture is to take it out of the oven just before you think it is ready. I normally make it in a rectangle slice tray but I left that with ginger crunch at my cousin's. So I used a pie tart today and it worked out fine.

This brownie really is tasty. I used 72% cocoa chocolate and it smelled amazing. I shipped this brownie off to a LAN with L and he said it went down well. 

Whenever he is away gaming I watch documentaries. This time I watched Blackfish and The Rape of Europa. They were both quite good. I have been parroting sad Orca facts at L all morning. I remember being upset at the small polar bear enclosure at SeaWorld and now I feel justified in my anti-SeaWorld stance. The Rape of Europa is about the effects of WWII and the Nazi's on the European art world. It is really interesting how the different museums and galleries protected their inventory. Both Documentaries are on Netflix if you wanted to check them out.

And to make you feel better after watching those, you can make some fudgy chocolate brownies! 

DARK CHOCOLATE BROWNIE

PREP
175g butter
1 3/4 cups sugar
250g dark chocolate
3 eggs
1 cup flour
1/2 cup cocoa

Preheat oven to 180°C
Line a slice tray

DO
Melt butter over a medium heat. Add in sugar and dark chocolate and stir until the chocolate is melted and it is all combined.
Beat in the eggs one at a time. The mixture should look quite glossy.
Add the flour and cocoa and beat until it is all combined.
Pour into your prepared tray and spread evenly.
Bake for 35-40 minutes. When you insert a skewer you want it to come out with just a little bit clinging to the stick.
Cool in the tray.

xo Kirsten Isabel