Sydney Foodbloggers ‘Mad Hatter’ Picnic Cake Pops

So I haven’t been around the vicinity of Le Food Blog for quite some time now. 3 weeks, more or less. I must admit that in between work, gym, Bridge Run, my sister getting married, training for the upcoming Brighton Beach Run and the recent Sydney Foodbloggers Mad Hatter Picnic, I haven’t had much time for myself and Sugarlace.

And for that, my apologies.

I must also admit that lately, the oven has been cold and the kitchen quiet. You see, the parentals were recently in town for my sister’s wedding, hence mother dearest has been in charge of the kitchen and suffice it to say, I’ve been kicked out. But rest assured that from this day forward (or until Mum graces my kitchen again), I shall be tinkering away with my pots and pans and arming myself with spoon, knife and fork once again.

The past weekend was no exception. It was the first weekend in over 3 months that I’ve started baking again. The reason for the hiatus? Nothing in particular. There could only be so much cupcakes and muffins and cakes that one could bake in a lifetime before feeling the need to stop for a second and let the oven cool down for a bit.

But I’m back, baby. I’m back.

Let’s start off with the basic ingredient of Sugarlace blogging: SUGAR! And what can be sweeter and more sugary than the promise of a white chocolate covered cake pop, huh?

HUH?!

Introducing… my contribution to the recent Sydney Foodbloggers Mad Hatter Picnic (with muchos gracias to Billy, Karen and one of the sponsors Nuffnang Australia for hosting!).

Aren’t foodbloggers the craziest coolest people on the block?

I did feature cake pops here in the past (my very first Sydney Foodblogger meet up for Suze’s birthday… a year and a half ago!), and I just had fun making them that I decided to give them a go again. This time, instead of using boxed cake mix I actually made a buttercake base and improved the chocolate melting technique (no more burnt, microwaved chocolate!). The result? The cutest cake pops that ever came out of my kitchen!

Cake Pops

Recipe adapted from Bakerella’s Cake Pops

Makes approximately 30 cake pops

Buttercake (recipe from Exclusively Food, my most favourite recipe website in the world!):

150g butter, softened

1 cup caster sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 large eggs

1 1/2 cups self-raising flour

1 cup plain flour

1 cup buttermilk

1. Preheat oven to 180 deg C. Grease and line baking tin with baking paper.

2. Beat softened butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla together in a large bowl. Pulse and add buttermilk.

3. In a separate bowl, sift self raising flour and plain flour together. Add to the egg mixture in 2 batches, beating the mix in between additions. Mix until just combined.

4. Pour batter on to prepared baking tin and bake for approximately 60-80 minutes or until skewer comes out clean. Set aside to cool.

Miscellaneous:

200g cream cheese

1/2 cup icing sugar

500g chocolate melts

Smarties

Hundreds & Thousands /Sprinkles

Lollipop sticks or skewers

Assembly:

1. When cake has been baked and cooled, slice the brown sides and “crumbs” of the cake away. Crumble the cake in a bowl.

2. In a separate bowl, mix cream cheese and icing sugar together. Add this to the cake crumbs and mix together by hand.

3. Line a cookie tray with baking paper.

4. Roll the cake crumbs into medium size balls and place on the lined cookie tray.

5. Place cake balls inside freezer for about 10 minutes. They need to be cold when rolled on the melted chocolate so the chocolate hardens quickly.

6. Meanwhile, boil water in a saucepan. With the chocolate melts in a bowl, place the bowl on top of the saucepan ensuring that the base of the bowl does not touch the water. Melt the chocolates, stirring if necessary.

7. Take the cake balls out of the freezer. Impale each ball with a lollipop or skewer stick, and dip in melted chocolate. Decorate with smarties, hundreds and thousands, or any other lollies as desired.

Everyone gave great feedback about the cake pops, and for that I’m grateful. And relieved! Do you know how stressful it is to come up with a dish to bring to a foodblogger event, knowing that everyone in attendance are pros in the kitchen? I definitely felt the heat last weekend!

But it was all great fun and I’m really happy to say that these cake pops have renewed my energy in baking and cooking once again. Hurrah hurrah!

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Quasi-Alpine House at Homebush does: Fondue Party

I have the greatest friends in the world.

They love to laugh.

They know how to party.

They are the most talented bunch of people I know.

They are the most caring and sensitive.

They come from all different walks of life, but put together they’re collectively a bunch of kindred spirits and lovely personalities all for one common cause…

Sticky date pudding with butterscotch sauce by Geraldine

They love to eat.

Buttercake by Ange

Ok scratch that. We love to eat. We may not party like it’s 1999 again, but boy do we eat like we haven’t eaten since 1999!

Bacon for... chocolate dipping!

What can I say? We’re an odd mix of yuppies and students whose lives (almost) revolve around food… really, really good food.

Chocolate fondue with the works

This post is all about an evening of creativity and home cooking skills at our dedicated party house, the apartment of the Homebush Crew where plenty of social gatherings were held in the past. This was our attempt at having an Alpine Christmas in August… complete with 5 cheese fondues, chocolate fondue with the works, mulled wine, Haigh’s chocolates and the king of all winter desserts: sticky date pudding with caramel sauce.

Bananas and strawberries for the chocolate fondue

Jealous? I bet.

Note: The 5 Cheese fondue is a thick, rich cheese fondue with a strong blue cheese aroma and after-taste thanks to the addition of the gorgonzola cheese. Nigella Lawson’s cheese fondue, on the other hand, is a savoury mix of creamy cheeses and white wine with just a hint of nutmeg. Both can be served with any dippings – raw vegetables, fruit or bread.

5 Cheese Fondue

An original recipe by Denisse

5 Cheese Fondue by Denisse

1 round bread loaf, with the inside “de-gutted” (the middle section of the bread removed and the top “lid” set aside)

200g each of emmental, gouda, gorgonzola cheese

200g cream cheese

200g spreadable cheddar cheese (comes in a bottle)

Sprinkling of nutmeg and cinnamon

Gouda, emmental and gorgonzola

1. Place all cheeses in a deep sauce pan. Place sauce pan under a double boiler and melt cheese on low to medium heat. Ensure that there is plenty of water simmering and be cautious that the cheese do not burn.

Melting the cheeses

2. Once cheeses have melted and the texture becomes smooth, add the spices. Set aside.

3. Pre-heat oven to 160 deg C.

4. Place the hollowed bread bowl in a flat baking tray. Pour melted cheese on to the cavity and replace the top “lid”. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 15-20 minutes.

5. Serve warm with the bread “insides” and other fondue dipping mediums.

Bread for dipping

Nigella Lawson’s Cheese Fondue

Recipe adapted from Nigella Lawson

Nigella Lawson's Cheese Fondue

250g brie cheese, sliced and wax removed

250g camembert cheese, sliced and wax removed

250ml white wine

2 tsp cornflour mixed with 2 tbsp white wine

1 garlic clove, peeled and bruised

Grounded black pepper

Sprinkling of nutmeg

Carrot sticks and green apples for dipping

1. Place both cheeses in  a deep sauce pan. Place over low to medium heat and stir until cheese has melted.

2. Add garlic and the cornflour mixed with white wine to the melted cheese.

3. Add grounded black pepper and nutmeg. Serve in warm bowl, with bread and other dipping mediums (eg carrots, green apples, cocktail sausages).

Cocktail sausages + cheese, anyone?

Jamie Oliver’s Mulled Wine

Recipe adapted from Jamie’s mulled wine

2 bottles (750ml each) of red wine

2 mandarins – peeled (peel saved)

Peel of 1 lemon and 1 lime

250g caster sugar

1 cinnamon stick

6 cloves

3 fresh bay leaves

Sprinkling of nutmeg

1 whole vanilla pod, halved

3 star anise

The ultimate sugar and spice and everything nice.

1. In a large saucepan, place the mandarin peels and juice and the peels of both lemon and lime. Add the sugar and all the spices except for the star anise. Turn on heat to medium and cover the sugar with red wine. Bring to boil

2. Once sugar has melted and the mixture thickens into the texture of syrup, turn the heat to low and add the remaining red wine. Keep stirring for a few more minutes.

3. Serve warm.

Mulled Wine by Ala

The 5 cheese fondue in a bread bowl is an original recipe by Denisse. The cheese fondue in a bowl is a Nigella Lawson recipe by me. The chocolate fondue is an original (top secret) recipe by Cat. The mulled wine is a Jamie Oliver recipe by Ala. The buttercake is an original recipe by Ange. The sticky date pudding is an original recipe by Geraldine.

One more slice before we bid winter goodbye!
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“Browkies” aka Bakerella’s Congo Bars

They’re not brownies, nor are they cookies. They do have the fudgy-ness of brownies, and the chocolate chip chewiness of chewy cookies, but they’re neither.

They’re Bakerella’s Congo Bars, or aptly named “Browkies” by the always-smart Mr J (please note my sarcasm at the word “smart”… hehehe just kidding!).

I was in a bit of a baking slump when I decided to get some inspiration from the goddess of baking, Bakerella. There, I found the simplest, easiest recipe to follow. It ticked all the right boxes too – chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate! So one weekend, when I was on call at work and pretty much housebound and couldn’t go anywhere or do anything else the phone rings, I decided to dust off the mixer and pull out the packet of dark chocolate chips sitting quietly in my baking cupboard.

But wait, there’s more.

Chocolate, did you say? White chocolate perhaps?

I got a little happy crazy with the idea of getting my hands on some fudgy-wudgy goodness that I pulled out another packet of white chocolate chips and added that to the mix. Maybe a bit more than what the recipe asked for but hey, there is NOTHING wrong with some extra chocolate action, right?

Congo Bars

Recipe adapted from Bakerella’s Congo Bars

2 3/4 cup all purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
250g unsalted butter, softened
2 cups dark brown sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
300g dark chocolate chips
300g white chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped nuts

1. Preheat oven to 175 deg C. Grease & line baking tin with baking paper and grease.
2. Beat butter until soft. Add sugar, vanilla and eggs, one at a time.
3. In a separate bowl, sift flour, baking powder and salt together.
4. Add the dry to the wet mixture, mixing the batter well as you go.
5. Add all chocolates and nuts to the batter. It will be a very thick batter as there is no liquid apart from the eggs and butter. Transfer batter on to prepared pan.
6. Bake for approximately 35 minutes or until skewer comes out clean.

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