Iced cookies or edible art?


opHopefully you are already sold on these cookies after seeing photos of them here.

They are incredibly easy and fun to make. My daughter and I spent quite a few weekends and school holidays making these. She loved decorating them and have now taken to designing what our next creation would be. (Which may or may not involve creating custom cookie cutters via Cookie Cutter Kingdom who 3D prints cookie cutter designs!)

After deciding what the cookie will be, she will plan the colours required to go with them, and the relevant consistency of the icing. For example, white for outline and flooding; red for flooding; grey for outline etc.

Once you’ve prepared the dough, it can be frozen, saving you one step in your weekend activity.
Just seal them tightly with cling wrap and freeze in sealed bags with a clear label. That way it’ll be easy to defrost the cookie sheets.

Simply defrost in the fridge, cut with cookie cutter into desired shapes and bake. Let cool completely on racks before you start decorating them.

Ingredients

  • 300g (2 1/2 cups) plain flour, plus more for dusting
  • 5g (1 tsp) baking powder
  • 2g (1/4 tsp) salt
  • 226g unsalted butter (I use Westgold), room temperature
  • 140g (3/4 cup) caster sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste
  • 1 tsp Princess Emulsion (omit if you can’t find this in the baking stores)
  • 3 and 3/4 cups icing sugar
  • 2 tablespoons meringue powder

Instructions

  1. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl.
  2. Beat the butter and granulated sugar in a large bowl with a mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until incorporated. Reduce the mixer speed to low; add the flour mixture in 2 batches and beat until just incorporated.
  4. Divide the dough in half.
  5. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Working with 1 piece of dough at a time, very lightly dust the dough with flour and roll out between 2 pieces of parchment paper until about 3cm thick.
  6. Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.
  7. Cut cookies with your preferred cutter. Gather scraps and repeat steps 5 and 7.
  8. Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven; preheat to 175 degrees C. Bake the cookies, switching the position of the pans halfway through, until just golden, 12 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes on the baking sheets, then transfer to racks to cool completely.
  9. Meanwhile, make the icing: Sift the icing sugar and meringue powder into a large bowl. Beat in 6 tablespoons water with a mixer on medium speed until soft, glossy peaks form.
  10. Take the required amount of icing and add desired icing colours. Add water bit by bit (or with a spray bottle) till you reach a consistency like runny honey. This is the ‘medium’ consistency and best used for outlining and flooding.
  11. Fill piping bags with icing and decorate to your heart’s content!

Come fly away with me~

Chocolate Brownie Crinkle Cookies


I turned one of my earlier Brownie recipes into a cookie! To be honest, these were inspired by the many versions of the same on Instagram lately, and for fear of missing out, I followed suit. Henceforth known as #fomocookies.

These are quick to make too!

Makes 20 – 22 cookies

Ingredients

  • 300g dark chocolate (70% best chocolate, I used Valrhona), chopped
  • 60g unsalted butter, cubed (I use Westgold)
  • 45g plain flour
  • 1 tablespoon finely ground instant coffee powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 200g brown sugar
  • 2 eggs (about 55g each)
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • Salt flakes, for sprinkling

Instructions

  1. Place the dark chocolate and butter into a medium sized heat-proof bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water.
  2. Heat on a medium-low heat, stirring often, until melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
  3. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, coffee powder, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the brown sugar and eggs on medium speed, until thick, doubled in volume, and light caramel in color (about 4 minutes). Add in the melted and slightly cooled dark chocolate. Continue to whisk until well incorporated. You may have to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  5. Set the mixer speed to medium and add in the dry ingredients. Whisk until just combined, then, add in the water. Continue to whisk until homogenise. The dough should be fluid, and form a thick flowing trail when the whisk is lifted. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and set it in the refrigerator to chill for at least 15 minutes, or up to an hour. (Not any longer or it will be too hard to scoop.)
  6. Meanwhile, preheat the oven temperature to 180 degrees Celsius. Line three large baking trays with baking paper.
  7. Using a small cookie scoop, scoop the dough evenly onto the prepared cookie sheets. The dough should be soft but will hold its shape when being scooped. If not, leave in the fridge for a further 15 minutes. Place 6-8 scoops on each cookie sheet with plenty of room to spread. Drop the sheets against the kitchen bench to slightly flatten the cookies. Sprinkle over a little of the flaked sea salt.
  8. Bake the cookies for a total of 11 minutes. To make crinkles (method is according to Sarah Kieffer), you’ll have to do the following steps:
  • Set a timer for 11 minutes of baking. Place sheets in.

  • After 5 minutes, rotate the cookie sheet half-way around. Lift and drop the sheet against the oven rack to deflate the cookies. A small circle of crinkles should be visible on the outer edge of the cookies. Close the oven door and allow the cookies to rise again.

  • 2 minutes later, again lift and drop the tray against the oven rack to deflate and further crinkle the cookies. They will be very visible (I was so excited when I saw these!) Bake for another 2 minutes.

  • Repeat one more time of lift and drop, and bake one last 2 minutes.

  • The cookies should be flat with plenty of crinkles. They should be just firm around the edges and set in the middle.

Remove from the oven and let the cookies cool on their trays for 10 minutes, then to a wire rack to cool further.

Raspberry cheesecake brownies


I adore raspberries. I find myself sneaking them into most sweet dishes: from cereals to cakes and desserts.

I love the tang of the fruit and the burst of flavour added to the dish.

It was therefore the first flavour that I reached for when sampling the new range of Spreadable Fruit by Barkers of Geraldine.

These are 99% fruit with no refined sugar added. Sweetened only with pear juice concentrate, it’s a great alternative to fruit purees. In fact, that’s even better than making my own!

I decided to make an easy baked cheesecake brownie, to keep things simple. The brownie batter was done in one bowl while the cheesecake batter was mixed with my trusty Kitchenaid stand mixer.

Just be careful when swirling the fruit – you don’t want to over do it, so that you can keep the pretty red/ white colours.

Who wants a slice?

Brownies

  • 170g unsalted butter, melted (I used Westgold)
  • 300g (1.5 cups) caster sugar
  • 120g (2) eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste (I used Equagold)
  • 3g (1/2 tsp) salt
  • 70g (3/4 cup) dutch cocoa powder (I used Valrhona)
  • 70g (1/2 cup) plain flour
  • 5-6 tbsp Barker’s Raspberry Spreadable Fruit

Cheesecake

  • 250g cream cheese, softened
  • 40g mascarpone cheese (I used Tatua)
  • 60g (1) egg
  • 60g (1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp) caster sugar
  • 2g (1/4 tsp) salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 170°C.
  2. Line a 20cm square baking tin with 2 strips of baking paper. (This makes it easier to lift the brownie out of the tin).
  3. In a large ceramic bowl, melt the butter in the microwave.
  4. Mix in sugar, eggs, vanilla paste and salt.
  5. Once fully combined, fold in cocoa powder and flour. Mix till all combined.
  6. Pour the brownie batter into the baking tin, spreading evenly, careful to push batter all the way to the edges.
  7. Combine all cheesecake ingredients in a stand mixer.
  8. Whisk for 2-3 minutes on medium-high speed.
  9. Pour cheesecake batter over brownie batter, spreading evenly.
  10. Drop spoonfuls of the raspberry spreadable fruit on top of the cheesecake in rows of 3s and 2s and swirl using a palette knife.
  11. Bake for 1 hour, check in the last 10 minutes (so it doesn’t go past the golden point). Test brownie with palette knife – it should be almost clean.
  12. Leave to cool in tin before placing in fridge to cool and firm up for 1-2 hours.
  13. Cut into 16 squares, wiping down the knife after each cut for a cleaner look.
  14. Serve with a nice cup of tea!

*I received a jar of the Spreadable Fruit when I attended the NZ Foodwriters annual May Market. Post not sponsored.

Gianduia stuffed chocolate cookies (or just Surprise Cookies!)


I’m borderline obsessed with hazelnuts. One of my favourite ways of incorporating them are in these bars. I have been planning on making something with the Hogarth Milk Chocolate Hazelnut logs and an idea came to mind as I was making my gazillionth cookie over the Easter weekend: how about stuffing these inside a cookie?

I wanted a chocolate cookie that is on the dark side, and used Valrhona’s cocoa powder for the cookie dough.

The hazelnut log was cut into 20 semi circular pieces and placed in between layers of dough.

It was so exciting to break open the baked cookies to see the gooey filling. So delicious too!

If you can’t find hazelnut chocolate, you can freeze a rolled log of Nutella and use that instead.

Makes exactly 20 cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 Hogarth chocolate milk chocolate hazelnut log, halved lengthwise and diced into 20 pieces
  • 1/2 cup (113g) unsalted butter (I used Westgold), softened
  • 1/2 cup (90g) firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (50g) caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla paste
  • 1 cup (125g) plain flour
  • 1/3 cup (40g) dutch cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp (3g) baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp (3g) salt
  • 1/2 tsp (1g) instant coffee

Directions

  1. Prepare the hazelnut chocolate pieces by halving the Hogarth milk chocolate log lengthwise. Chop the logs into 20 pieces.
  2. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celcius. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  3. Cream butter and sugars until pale. Add egg and vanilla.
  4. In a bowl mix flour with cocoa powder, instant coffee, salt and baking soda.
  5. Add flour mixture to the butter mixture.
  6. Place a large scoop of cookie dough on the baking paper, flatten the centre with your thumb slightly, add a piece of the hazelnut chocolate log and wrap the dough around it to seal it in. I find it easier to start with a smallish piece of dough, place the chocolate on top and then cover with more dough. Just make sure the chocolate is fully enclosed. Place on the baking sheet well spaced apart.
  7. Bake for 10-12 minutes, remove and leave it to cool on the baking sheet for at least 5 minutes.
  8. Transfer the cookies to a cooling rack to cool slightly.

Enjoy warm (best!) and with a glass of milk.

Giraffe by Simon Gault


As a family, we eat out a couple times a week for dinners and a few lunches here and there.

We visit Asian restaurants a lot, mainly for dumplings and noodles, as it appeals to all in the family (and the in-laws). My Instagram page is a testament to that.

Proper western restaurants (think formal setting and white table cloth) not frequented as much in the years since J was born, and out of habit, never regained its previous standing in our favourite choices.

I guess you can say our needs have changed. When J was little, going out for a three-course dinner was stressful with bath, story time and bed time to be done by 7.30pm (and no, the two of us have never, in the 9.5 years since J’s birth, left her with a nanny/parent/relative and go out for dinner.) It’s not that we follow the routine to military precision. It’s just that when you change the routine, there’s no telling whether J would settle to sleep as usual. As a young family, we recognised the importance of consistency.

When we do, we reserve such long, multi-course meals for special occasions. We have spent quite a number of birthday’s at Masu, (J loved it so much when I celebrated my birthday there that she proclaimed hers that is five months later would be at the same Japanese restaurant. We were more than happy to oblige. Read my experience here.) Seeing that we’ve had consecutive birthday celebrations at the same place for two years, we decided to try a new place.

I noticed Giraffe by Simon Gault is newly listed on First Table’s website, which offers patrons 50% off food when you book through their site, for a $10 booking fee. The menu was on the small side, but with plenty of variety to please anyone. Not the least pretentious, (how could it be when the menu suggests diners to shout the kitchen staff drinks?) it offered things that others don’t.

Our booking was at 5.30pm, and I had the distinct feeling of walking into someone’s residential hallway and greeted by the host who hadn’t quite finished their meal but happy to see us, none the less.

We were seated by the ‘patio’ facing the Viaduct, and it was a cool night. Lucky we had jackets as the warmth from the indoor heaters couldn’t quite reach us.

Our waitperson patiently guided us through the menu, and we settled on something we looked over on first glance – the pig tails. (Tip: always ask how an unfamiliar dish is cooked, to get an idea what it would taste like. If you salivate, it’s a go!) Although not the typical Asian style, it’s sous vide cooked with Asian spices. They were then grilled to render some of the fat off. Don’t be shocked when it arrives at your table, with the tails sitting unceremoniously on a sizzling hot plate. The staff took it apart for us, removing the vertebrae and hard tips. We were advised to mix the fatty bits with the meat and eat with the accompanied lettuce cups and dips. There were two dips: a nuoc cham-like, bright sauce with red chillies, palm sugar, garlic, salt and vinegar. The other was a spicy green dip made with green tomatoes, garlic, coriander and jalapenos. Both sensational and I will try my hand at replicating them at home.

Highlight of the night, announced the adults. Finger-licking delicious, literally. I did take a momentary pause just as I was lifting the lettuce parcel with my hands: am I really allowed to use my hands to eat at Giraffe? I didn’t care anymore after that first bite. I was already mentally planning on when to come back just for this, one day for lunch, as it’s so close to my work.

The second dish was the Cured Salmon Salad with Fennel and mandarin. This was J’s choice as she loves salmon. We planned on sharing this, but she ended up having two-thirds of it. (She could have easily finished it but I had to try it 😝.) It was cooked perfectly with the smears and blobs matching harmoniously to the salmon. I particularly liked the pickled vegetable and tiny vinaigrette jelly cube. I had to restrain myself from licking the plate clean!

I hadn’t planned on getting steak and chips for my birthday dinner, after all, steak is something we cook a lot of, and also served as a shared dish at home, so why order it when we are out?

The menu had painted a picture of sophistication and I certainly had high expectations when we ordered the scotch fillet for two. It’s served with mushrooms, hazelnut, buffalo salsa verde butter. The meat was cooked perfectly (medium, for J or else I would have gone for medium rare). Unfortunately the dish overall was a slight let down from the rest. Maybe our expectations were set high from the start? It deviated from the clean cooking (and plating) that were the other dishes, and as J puts it, the flavours were a bit jumbled and lost. I felt it needed something to balance out the heaviness (like the spicy dip to the fatty pig tails). Still very delicious, but more a 7 out of 10 when the others were 9s and 10s.

For carbs, we ordered the Triple-Cooked potatoes. These duck fat-fried thick batons were wrapped individually with a thin strip of crispy pancetta around its middle, and served with clumps of truffle ricotta. These were glorious, the best example of duck fat cooked potatoes that I have come across. I dreamily wondered whether Heston Blumenthal’s version at The Fat Duck were like these or not.

My verdict of Giraffe: relaxed and welcoming, serious about good food, adventurous. Casually smart. Super family friendly. You can however still expect techniques usually associated with fine dining here. We will be back. (Chef, can I have the Kids TV dinner please?😉)

It was Easter weekend and they also had banana smoothies served in chocolate bunnies for the kids!

This post is not sponsored by the restaurant nor First Table, I had the good fortune of winning a dining voucher from an Instagram competition by First Table and paid for the difference myself. All opinion expressed are my own.

A blog about my kitchen adventures, photography, family and experiences

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