Friday, February 11, 2011

A Simple Torte

My second torte in as many weeks.  What can I say, I love them!  I found this recipe online (compliments of the Australian Woman's Weekly) and it was much simpler (and half the ingredients) than my version (posted last week for World Nutella Day).  So tonight I had to give it a try.  There was no occasion, no guests, just me, my roomie and the torte.  A perfect evening if you ask me!


  • 5 egg whites
  • 1¼ cups (275g) caster sugar
  • 1½ cups (150g) hazelnut meal 
  • 1 cup (320g) Nutella
  • 600ml thickened cream, whipped 
  • cocoa powder, for serving

What to do

Preheat oven to 160 degrees. Line two large baking trays with baking paper. Using a pencil, mark two 25cm x 12cm rectangles on each tray. Turn over the baking paper so that the pencil marks are facing down.

Beat egg whites in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar, beat until dissolved. Fold in hazelnut meal.

Spread one quarter of the mixture evenly over each outlined rectangle. Bake, swapping trays halfway through cooking, for about 40 minutes or until crisp. Cool on trays.

Place the Nutella in a small bowl. Microwave on HIGH for 20 seconds or until a soft, spreadable consistency. Spread three of the meringue rectangles evenly with the Nutella, reserving the remaining meringue rectangle for the top layer.

Place one of the Nutella-topped meringue rectangles on a serving plate. Spread with one third of the whipped cream. Continue layering with remaining Nutella-topped meringue rectangles and cream. Top with the remaining plain meringue rectangle. Serve dusted lightly with cocoa. 

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Heavenly Nutella, Chocolate and Hazelnut Meringue Torte

It's only fitting to post a tribute to the most amazing creation of hazelnutty chocolatty goodness on this day, World Nutella Day!  So here is a recipe where I have combined my two favourite things: a torte and of course the spread of honour, Nutella.

I love the texture and the flavours of a good torte.  And then when you add Nutella... You get quite simply, heaven in your mouth!  It doesn't matter if your torte looks less than perfect, because I think that is half of the appeal of this tasty treat.  It's a messy compilation of chocolate Nutella goodness!  The original torte recipe is compliments of the Australian Woman's Weekly with a few changes and the filling thrown in by yours truly.

  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 cup of caster sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of good quality cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon of cornflour
  • 1 teaspoon of white vinegar
  • 1/2 a cup of hazelnut meal
  • chopped toasted hazelnuts and cocoa to serve
  • 400g of milk chocolate, chopped
  • 1/3 of a cup of thickened cream
  • 2 teaspoons of coffee powder
  • 1/2 of a cup of Nutella
  • 300ml carton of pouring cream, whipped, to serve

What to do

Preheat the over to a very slow 120 degrees.  LIghtly grease and line 3 oven trays with baking paper and draw three 20cm circles on the baking paper.

In a clean bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form.  

TIP:  It is important that your bowl and beaters are clean and dry, this will help you achieve optimum volume in your peaks.  It is also important to not over beat your whites before adding the sugar as this will cause the mixture to break down.

Gradually add the sugar, one tablespoon at a time, beating until the sugar dissolves.  Beat in the cocoa, cornflour and vinegar.  Fold in the hazelnut meal.

Divide the meringue between the three circles and spread evenly with a palate knife.  Bake for 25 minutes, until crisp.

Turn the oven off and all to cool in the oven with the door ajar, for at least 30 minutes.

Filling:  In a small saucepan, combine the chocolate, Nutella, cream and coffee.  Stir on low heat for 2-3 minutes until the mixture is melted and smooth.  Cool until spreadable.

Spread one meringue with 1/3 of the chocolate mixture then 1/3 of the whipped cream.  Repeat the layers, and finish with the cream.  Sprinkle with toasted hazelnuts and a dusting of cocoa.

TIP:  When whipping your cream, I find using a stainless steel bowl and mixers that have been chilled in the freezer guarantees you great peaks every time.

Remember that today is a day to celebrate, to get creative with, and most importantly, to eat Nutella.  So treat yourself.  After all, it'd be wrong to not pay your respects to the Nutella Gods today!

And a big thanks to the ladies at Ms Adventures in Italy and Bleeding Espresso for giving us an excuse to eat as much Nutella as our hearts desire today.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Cherry Ripe Slice

Today I am taking some much needed me time.  No work.  No client demands, deadlines & all things advertising related.  You know how it goes... anyway back to me time and Cherry Ripe Slice.

It's a good thing that I consider being in the kitchen (and now blogging) as me time.  Because today I am baking one of my favourite slice recipes, Cherry Ripe Slice.  It is super easy to make and it's perfect for those times when you need to take a plate, or just want to share a piece of tasty goodness with someone... or no one other than yourself and a cup of coffee, which is just what I intend on doing today.

And in case you are wondering.  No, I won't eat the whole thing (as much as I'd like to).  I'm trying to be good so I'll just have a slice and then freeze the rest to take to a picnic next weekend... I'm sure they'll enjoy it much more than I'll enjoy working it off at the gym later!


  • 1 cup of self-raising flour, sifted
  • 100g of dry sweet biscuits, crushed
  • 1/3 of a cup of caster sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of good quality cocoa
  • 100g of unsalted butter, melted
  • 395g can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 1/2 cups of desiccated coconut
  • 100g of glace cherries, chopped
  • 150g of dark chocolate
  • 30g of copha

What to do

Preheat the oven to a moderate 180 degrees.  Lightly grease and line a 20 x 30 cm slice pan with baking paper.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, biscuits, sugar and cocoa.  Stir in the melted butter and mix well.

Press the mixture firmly into the slice pan and bake for 15 minutes until lightly golden.

While your base is baking, combine the condensed milk, coconut and cherries in a medium size bowl and mix them together.  Take your baked base fresh from the oven, and spread the mixture over the top and bake for a further 10-15 minutes.   Then allow your slice to cool in the pan.

Tip:  Don't allow your base to cool before adding the cherry coconut mixture, otherwise it will be dry and crumbly.

Once your slice has cooled, combine the chocolate and copha in a small saucepan.  Stir constantly over a low heat until both ingredients have melted together to a smooth consistency.  Pour the chocolate over the slice, tilting the pan so that you evenly coat the surface.  Allow your delicious treat to set in the fridge before cutting it into squares.

Mmmm... I love me time!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

A Classic Chocolate Cake

This is one of those recipes that I always fall back on when I am stuck for inspiration, but need something to serve for afternoon tea.  It's a classic that everyone loves and it's always a sure hit!  Today is one of those days and I am in such a blah mood, plus I just happen to have all of the ingredients at home so I don't have to run to the shops.  I am tired and have guests popping over this afternoon from out of town.  So I best get baking and snap out of my little blah mood before they get here.


  • 125g of butter, chopped and at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups of caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
  • 2 eggs 
  • 2 cups of self raising flour
  • 1/4 cups of good quality cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon of bicarbonate soda
  • 300ml carton of thickened cream, whipped, plus extra to serve
  • 2 cups of pure icing sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder (again, good quality is essential in a good chocolate cake)
  • 60g of unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon of instant coffee, dissolved in 2 tablespoons of just boiled water

What to do 

Preheat the oven to a moderate 180 degrees.  Lightly grease 2 x 20cm round cake pans and line with baking paper.

In a bowl, using electric mixers, beat the butter, sugar and vanilla together until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Sift the flour, cocoa and soda together.  Fold lightly into the mixture with 1 cup of just boiled water.  Mix quickly to combine.

Spoon the mixture evenly between the two pans, smooth the tops and bake for 30 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.  Cool in the pan for 10 minutes before turning onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Trim one cake to make the top level.  Spread with the cream, then top with the second cake.

Icing:  Sift the icing sugar and cocoa together in a bowl.  Pour the butter and coffee into the dry ingredients.  Mix well until smooth.  Now completely smother the top of your cake in icing!

Today... I might even lick the bowl!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Flat White in Vancouver. Could I be so lucky?

A flat white in Canada!
After receiving a suggestion from over at Famished Foodies, I was pretty excited today to go and check out Oz Coffee in Kits.  After all, I am an Australian living in Canada so it seemed fitting.  How had I not heard of this place until now?  And could I be so lucky to get what I had been longing for since my arrival?  A flat white.

Now you should know that anyone who knows me in Canada, would have heard me complain time and time again, about how the coffee here just doesn't compare to home and how much I miss my morning flat white.  I should also note for my Canadian readers, that a flat white is a coffee similar to a cappuccino, but it is made on micro-foam instead of dry foam.  Almost a cross between a latte and a cappuccino some might say.

Much to my delight when I arrived, the first thing I noticed was that the coffee bean supplier was none other than my favourite Canadian coffee, JJ Bean.  And as I expected, like any true Australian Cafe, there was a flat white on the menu.  My excitement levels jumped up a notch, and in case you haven't worked it out by now, I am hands down, coffee's biggest fan (if it's great).

Naturally I ordered a large flat white and as I hadn't had lunch yet, a cheese and tomato toasty (a grilled sandwich for all of my Canadian friends).  The coffee was perfect temperature and on my first sip, I felt right at home.  It had a smooth, creamy and well rounded taste and there was no trace of bitterness, which I have come to recognise from Canadian coffee.  After each sip, I was left with a sweet clean memory on my taste buds.  Finally, someone in Vancouver that could grasp the technique of making a flat white.

The sandwich was your typical grilled cheese and tomato sandwich that you could make at home.  Nothing too special.  The first half was a warm gooey cheese mess and by the time I got to the second half, the underside had gone soggy.  A little pricey for what it was, but either way, it hit that comforting homely spot for such a cold and rainy Vancouver afternoon.

The centre fireplace offers a warm and inviting balance to the otherwise minimalistic and industrial like design.  There is ample seating in this spacious setting.  However, for 3pm on a Saturday, the place was that full it was hard to find a seat.  Usually a good sign, although I couldn't help but notice every other customer was busy on their laptop, lingering over their one cup of coffee, to take advantage of the free wi-fi rather than the food or drink.

To finish, I think Oz coffee is the perfect merger of the best coffee bean Canada has to offer, made the Australian way.  I will be returning as often as possible.  A flat white biased 7/10 from me.

Oz Coffee on Urbanspoon

Friday, January 28, 2011

A Handy Tip on Blueberries

I just couldn't resist this shot.
Doesn't it look amazing!
They say you learn something new everyday.  Well today I learnt that if you lightly coat blueberries in flour before adding them to your muffin or cake base, it stops them from sinking to the bottom.  What a neat trick.  Thanks T!

Who could resist a blueberry muffin
that looks this delicious?!
I just love blueberries.  One of the luxuries of being in Canada is the amazing quality of their berries.  Seriously, I have never had better than what I have had here in Canada, and for the price, oh my god!  They are at least 1/3 of the price of Australian berries and the quality doesn't even compare.  So naturally while I am here I am savoring as many berries as possible.  Not just blueberries either, I'm talking raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, boysenberries....

Do you have any berry techniques or recipes up your sleeve that you'd like to share?  I'd love to hear from you, especially if you know a great pie recipe that looks as good as the picture.  I'm desperate to taste the berry goodness!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Vancouver | La Taqueria

Walking home on Saturday afternoon, my friend and I decided to try La Taqueria.  We weren't particularly hungry, but because it was right there and we had heard so much about it, we decided to get the 4 taco deal and go halves.

Inside it is quite small and poky, so we awkwardly stood at the counter trying to decipher the menu above.  The man behind the counter must have recognised our looks of confusion and offered to assist - he was very helpful.  We ordered 2 of the De Cachete (Braised Beef Cheeks), Frijoles Charros Con Queso (refried beans with Mexican cheese) and the Asado (Flanked beef with cucumber).

We received our order in no time and again the look of confusion washed across our faces.  We had no idea which was which.  We sheeplish asked for help and the server very helpfully steered us in the right direction.

Each taco was equally as light, fresh and tasty as the next.  The tortilla was light and fresh with a delicate taste.  I also want to make a special comment on their cilantro sauce.  AMAZING and it really kicked my satisfaction up to a whole other level.

I definitely want to come back and make a meal of this place.  The best tacos I have ever had.  I give it an 8/10.

La Taqueria Taco Shop on Urbanspoon