I have been wanting to make Crack Pie for such a long time. We have all heard the rave about Momofuku even before it hit Sydney with their famous Pork bun’s and crack pie, but now Sydney ciders are lucky enough to experience it all on home turf…..at a price. For me, I am not that into asian cuisine, but I do have a very very sweet tooth and this pie is known to be the epitome of sweet pies and one that you will become addicted to. I think it is something about the base, it is basically a cookie that you bake then make into a tart base, similar to cheesecake (and if you wanted to cheat you could just do so with pre made cookies). The filling is somewhat like a custard or creme brulee as it is smooth and thick but rich. I assure you, if you give this pie to kids they will be running around for hours and not sleep that night, that is how much sugar there is in this tart.
The perfect opportunity arose with the 18th birthday of a close friend from work. Not only does she love desserts but is a huge chocaholic. I did end up finding a recipe for Crack Pie with a twist or nutella and thought it’s a done deal….Sure some people would this this would bastardize the original recipe but isn’t everything better when you add nutella??
I have seen some versions of this recipe which required days of cooking, cooling and setting, and during the week I just didn’t have time for that so this version is perfect as you can do it in one night, over 3 hours and then cool it overnight and it will be perfect the next morning. The only thing that you need to consider is how you will transport the pie to your destination as it needs to be kept cold. I was lucky and it was a particularly cold Summer’s day in Sydney town so it did not melt even though it was nearly two hours between fridges at either end.
Once it came time to cut the tart it came out of the fridge at the last minute as it must be served chilled as it does melt and goo all over the plate after a while. In the end was it a success? DEFINITELY but one thing I noticed is that once it did start to warm up it tasted sweeter which was a little bit too much. If I made it again I think you would get away with no brown sugar at all. Nutella is sweet enough as it is and with the amount of sugar in the filling and brown sugar it is a little sickening, so omitting brown sugar all together would be fine….there was so much filling left over that you don’t need it.
But now I am so happy I can say “I have made Crack Pie” and even if people did not know what you were talking about the name is still pretty cool, give it a try!
See ShowFood Chef’s recipe here. (but remember no brown sugar in the filling)
I have wanted to try something from the Adriano Zumbo cookbook released only a couple of months ago. We have all seen his crazy cakes on Masterchef and in his stores but to actually make one, I am sure many of us would not even dare. For me it is a challenge that will test me and these are the types of things I love giving a go. I know it will not be perfect and like he would do, but for your average run of the mill kitchen I think I did ok.
I wanted to give this cake a try as it involves many layers of chocolate, which I love, and it has so many contrasting textures I thought it would be really interesting to eat. I must admit that I only ‘got’ the idea of the cake half way through cooking it. Although you created each layer and froze it individually to set, it ended up being a sort of ice cream cake. The thing I did not get was how 7 layers of frozen goodness were supposed to merge into one cake…..
The first time it was served it fell apart into its layers, but after a few times it had melted a little then was refrozen it set into one form. It was very hard to cut the bottom three layers but all in all a success. The result for the best layer was unanimous too….creme brulee was so delectable, perfect by itself or with some of the chocolate mousse, which does look more like choc chip mousse as I did do a boo boo while making it. The recipe states that when you have the melted chocolate and the cream you must cool the melted chocolate so it does not melt the whipped cream, but too cold and it will set into chips rather than turn into silky chocolatey creme……so cold melted chocolate equals what I produced. I actually like the look though as it breaks up the rest of the intense chocolatiness and makes it look not as rich.
So three days and seven layers later I used up 2 dozen eggs, 4 blocks of chocolate, over a litre of cream and blocks and blocks of butter……do you still want a piece?
There is one layer which I made but did not include in the cake which was a chocolate meringue. Since the cake had not moulded very well at first the meringue layer would have just completely separated the cake in two. It was very tasty and took the longest out of every layer to prepare (nearly 4 hours) but it did not go to waste and was subsequently eaten by my family. The mirror glaze would have been the trickiest as it depended a lot on temperatures and having particular ingredients which I did not have, so I made do with what I had and it was shiny, but a little thick. The rest were all straight forward and just required patience. Overall I do think it is a marvellous cake, and definitely the best ice cream cake I have ever had…..would I ever make it again? Probably not, unless a close friend requested it for a special occasion.
Was it worth it you ask? YES I made a Zumbo cake and it nearly worked, that is an achievement in itself!
[I have decided not to put up the recipe as it is extremely long. If you would like a copy, email me and i’ll send it to you.]
Mum’s birthday. What do I cook??? She has recently deemed a new cake cookbook she purchased as her favourite thing since sliced bread….well maybe not that much, but she is very excited, so I thought I would do something out of that for her. I did think however maybe the choice should be her’s and I am glad I did as she told me to make one of her favourite cakes which I forgot I was saving to bake for this day.
I lie actually, I made it a couple of weeks ago but that recipe was stupid, or maybe I was the stupid one to listen, as it instructed to put a springform tin into a waterbath to cook the cake. It is evident that the bottom half of the cake was absolutely soaked! Straight to the bin it went….
I researched and found many recipes for souffle cakes which did not require a waterbath and decided on one. The key to this cake is creating as much air as possible and being very delicate and careful when you do finally fold everything together as you want it to be as light and airy as possible, so if you are too rough or stir rather than fold, you will get rid of a lot of the air bubbles.
Once you pout it into the springform tin (no waterbath this time) you bake it slowly for a long time. If you cooked it fast the outside would cook and the inside would remain raw, so be patient and it will turn out like this…..
Crusty on the outside and soft and fluffy, to the point of it melting in your mouth, on the inside. It is for this that it is so appropriate for any event as it is rich yet light and wont leave you feeling like you just ate a brick, you might even go back for a second one.
When I served this to my Mum she was just in heaven and did, like most girls, continue to cut slithers to make themselves feel better about not having a second slice. My twin brother was convinced it was just too rich and did not understand why I was putting a large scoop of ice cream to have with mine….some boys just don’t know how to enjoy decadence!
All in all Mum loved it, which is the most important thing. We had a simple do for her birthday this year, but I know she did not mind as she got exactly what she wanted…..the best chocolate cake in the whole wide world.
Chocolate Souffle Cake
(slightly altered from Dolcetto Confections)
400g dark chocolate, chopped
175g unsalted butter
7 large eggs, separated
¾ cup sugar
ice cream to serve
Finally the day had arrived. I organised a lunch with my capoeira girlfriends at least a month ago, although admittedly I cancelled and rescheduled twice, so in a way it is my fault, but it worked out for the better as today was a beautiful day and really the start of summer!
I woke up early for anyone’s standards of a sunday morning, 7am, and was out of the house by 8:30 for a morning coffee and to buy groceries. By the time I got home I had already prepared the pasta I had planned, which worked out quite well considering I had never made a flavoured pasta before, and by 11am all prep was done. Now at this stage I would have been stupid not to swim and tan in my pool since the sun was out and I hadn’t gotten any vitamin D in a while.
Once I was a lightly darken shade of brown and the girls were almost here I finished the ravioli. I had wanted to make a beetroot pasta for a while as the colour is quite pretty and I flavour goes particularly well with goat’s cheese, which I love, and I was certain the girls would love it too. To prepare the filling I just mixed a marinated goat’s cheese with a goat’s chevre and powdered sage, but I left it until just before they arrived to finish as I did not want to leave the pasta in the fridge to toughen up, but did not want to leave the cheese out in the heat to ruin.
The girls actually timed it perfectly and arrived all at once not too long after I had finished the ravioli. I heated the water, made the sauce and then we served up and sat on the balcony where the sunny Sunday afternoon turned into a stormy, thundery afternoon. It did not dampen the lunch though as it made sitting out on the balcony, overlooking the water that bit more relaxing…..especially with a glass of wine or two.
The one thing I love about burnt butter sauces is that they go with so many fillings, and do not have to be heavy as many people might think, you only need a drizzle and the beautiful nutty flavours go through the pasta beautifully. I also this time bought fresh sage which fried while the butter was cooking away and really enhanced the dish. All in all I got the thumbs up from the girls and showed them that fresh pasta is not so daunting to make, you just need a good pasta maker, strong arms and patience because if the dough is not springy enough, it will rip in the pasta maker or your pasta will be tough and not enjoyable. A key I would say is to allow at least 10 minutes for constant kneading, and I’m talking full elbow grease, not just wimpy kneading, and your pasta will be delicate silky strips of pleasure.
Beetroot Ravioli with goat’s cheese and sage butter
400g ’00’ flour
2 eggs + 2 egg yolks
100g beetroot puree
1. put flour in a large bowl and make a well in the centre.
2. Put eggs and puree and beat lightly with a fork to combine.
3. Using your hands mix to form a dough and knead until springy and silky. Leave to rest for half an hour.
4. Separate the dough into6 balls. Using the largest flat setting on your pasta machine, then close the gap by 2 notches and feed the dough through again. (each time coating the dough with a little flour so it does not stick and rip)
5. Put the setting to the thinnest you can get and slowly and carefully feed the dough through. Lay flat on a towel (do not fold over, I did this and they all stuck together even though I had rubbed flour onto them. In the hot weather they just fused)
6. Repeat with all the dough and lay flat.
300g marinated goat’s cheese (drained weight)
300g goat’s chevre
4tsps powdered sage
1. Mix all ingredients together until a smooth paste.
parmesan (to finish)
1. To make the ravioli add dollops (about a tsp) along the dough leaving at least a 5cm gap. Put a sheet of dough over the top and press around the filling to make the dough stick together. Using a ravioli cutter cut into squares and place on a clean tea towel until ready to cook.
2. Once all done and ready to cook, boil a large pot of water and add some salt. Carefully place the ravioli into the water and cook for approximately 2-3 minutes. Do not overcook as the sauce will continue to cook it.
3. While cooking make the sauce by melting the butter in a pan and add the sage leaves. Cook until the butter is bubbling, has turned brown and the sage leaves and fried.
4. Once cooked strain and make sure you get as much water off as possible.
5. Plate up and then using a spoon pour the burnt butter over the top of the ravioli and then place the fried sage leaved on top.
6. Grate parmesan over the top and serve immediately.
I love making fresh pasta! I just have to state that, and until I went to Italy two years ago and learn from my friend who lived in Milan, I did not realise how easy it is. Super easy, but you really need to have patience once you form the dough and knead like crazy. I’m talking at least 10 minutes to make a super springy, glossy, smooth ball of dough. Once rested for half an hour it is all steam ahead and you will have fresh pasta in no time.
Your pasta maker will have a whole heap of different size profiles but once you start you need the flat profile open to the widest, this is to start the flattening process. After this is done close the gap two notches and then afterwards 2 notches again until you have quite a thin sheet of pasta. (throughout this whole process you must continually wipe the sides with flour to avoid it sticking on the pasta maker and ripping. Disaster!
If it has not ripped and is thin you can decide on the type of pasta you would like to make, for this recipe and most seafood or light sauced recipes spaghetti is a great option. Slowly feed your pasta sheet through the spaghetti profile and wind until it is all cut up then add more flour and with your hand grab the pasta lift up and drop, lift up and drop so that the pasta separates. Put into bundles and let it rest while you prepare your sauce.
This sauce is one that I just whipped up with a mystery bag a friend bought over, so you can use an type of seafood you like, including shellfish, bugs, prawns, mussels etc. Just remember with seafood the one thing that is a must is fresh parsley. I am very lucky we have an abundant supply in my backyard so it was just a quick trip downstairs and not up to the shops for half dead stuff. Other ingredients that are complimentary with fresh seafood pastas include chilli and garlic, but today we were adding some truffle oil to finish, so I went without as I did not want them to overpower. Instead I just added some fresh truss tomatoes and a whole lot of mushrooms.
One thing I do stress is that once you make the pasta it MUST be undercooked slightly as you need to stir it through the sauce for at least a minute so it can absorb those flavours, hence it will continue to cook, so if you want perfect pasta don’t hesitate and take it out.
NB: one last thing….. fresh pasta will always taste better the day after as it has had all that time to absorb the flavours of the sauce.
Fresh Scallop & Prawn Spaghetti
fresh pasta (serves 8)
600g ‘oo’ flour
1. Put the flour in a bowl and then make a well in the centre. Crack the eggs in the centre and then using a fork lightly whisk the eggs together.
2. Start combining the flour then use your hands to form the dough. Knead until the dough is very springy, shiny and smooth (approx 10 mins).
3. Let dough rest for 30 mins before cutting it.
4. Cut the dough into eight small balls and using the largest setting on the flat profile of your pasta maker, push the balls through. Dust discs of dough with flour.
5. Close the gap by two stops then put the dough through again. Dust discs with flour.
6. Close the gap to the thinnest or second thinnest setting (whichever you prefer) and slowly pass the dough through without ripping it. Dust with flour.
7. Using the spaghetti setting pass each disc through then sprinkle with flour. Using your hands separate the pasta by picking it up and dropping it, then leave the eight piles to rest until the sauce prep is done.
8. Cook pasta in salted water, take off and strain just before ‘al dente’ (as it will continue to cook in the sauce and you do not want soggy pasta). Set aside to cool.
600g baby scallops (frozen is fine, just thaw before using)
600g whole green prawns, shelled and cleaned
3 large truss tomatoes, diced
500g mushrooms, diced
2 large handfuls of parsley (although you can never have enough)
truffle oil to drizzle
1. Before using the seafood pat it dry as it will release a lot of liquid which you do not want.
2. Melt the butter in a pan over a medium heat and add the mushrooms. Cook until soft. Add the tomatoes and cook until softened.
3. Add the scallops and cook them for 3 minutes then add the prawns. When the prawns are nearly done add the parsley and stir through.
4. Add pasta and stir through for a good couple of minutes so the pasta absorbs the flavours of the sauce.
5. Serve then drizzle with truffle oil.
This is a long time favourite in my family and a great, much healthier alternative to ‘banana bread/cake’, but I will warn you, make 2 loaves as it goes very quickly. This version is not super sweet like some store bought varieties so you can take it for breakfast morning tea, afternoon tea or something to finish off dinner, and for that reason it does not last in my house.
I also add spices to the mixture which you do not have to do, like cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg, as I love this combination. We can see a similar combination of spices and fruit and nuts in Moroccan foods such as the spice mix ras el hanuot which contains cinnamon and nutmeg, and many tagines that use ras el hanout have prunes and almonds, so although this is just a basic loaf which has chucked a few ingredients together, it could be a mix that can be translated also into many other moroccon dishes. You could substitute the flour for pastry, add almond meal and make a phyllo snail roll with nuts, dates and spices, which would be a variant on their almond and cinnamon phyllo roll.
Anyways back to this loaf. It really is not a hard loaf to make, it just takes a bit of time to prepare and cook, but the only way to fast track this is to make the loaf in a very small tin so it cooks quicker, but noone will prefer a small slice to a large thick slice!
Spicy Date & Walnut Loaf
250g dates, chopped
1 tbsp bi-carb soda
1.5 cups boiling water
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves
1 cup plain flour
1 cup self raising flour
200g walnuts, roasted
1. Put the dates, bi-carb and boiling water in a bowl and leave it stand for 15 minutes.
2. Preheat oven to 170 degrees C
3. Cream butter and sugar then add eggs and mix until smooth. Add spices then remove from mix master.
4. Add flours, walnut and date mixutre to the butter mixutre and stir until just combined. DO NOT over stir otherwise it will not be light and fluffy but dense and hard.
5. Cook for 1 hour 20 mins or until cooked through. (I usually have to cover the top with alfoil after 40 minutes to avoid the top burning as I want the inside to cook, even in my weird fan forced oven)
My Mum recently purchased a cookbook of the most simple cakes you will ever come across. This one is no exception, and features in the ‘food processor cakes’ section. With the exception if boiling some fruit, everything is thrown in, blitzed and baked. Easy peasy!
Cakes which use almond meal commonly are paired with oranges but we had just been given a bag of homegrown mandarins from the elderly couple next door, so of course I feuded to substitute these as the flavour of these mandarins were so intense, they were juicy and sweet, Much nicer than those dry ones you buy in the supermarket!
The benefit with this recipe is that it is not only gluten free but also completely dairy free, no butter, no milk zilch! Great for people with intolerances and this cake although it has a little but if sugar is high in protein and fibre. For those who can have dairy it is great with some natural Greek yogurt, but it is still delicious just plain.
The texture is so moist and light so great for any time of the day, if you wanted to make it an adult version you can pour 2 tbsps of galliano or cointreau over the top once it cones out of the oven.
Overall I give this cake 5/5, it is light, tasty ad super easy to make. I’ll let Mum gloat now and tell Me that cookbooks do not need to be expensive or have celebrity chefs to be good. How right she is!
Flourless Mandarin & Almond Cake
1/4 cup galliano
1 cup caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 3/4 cup almond meal
1 tsp vanilla essence
6 eggs, lightly beaten
1. Boil mandarins in a pot full of water for 40 mins or until the skin is soft.
2. Cut off any bad bits of skin and then quarter mandarins. Allow to cool.
3. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
4. Once cooled slightly blitz until quite a smooth purée. Add galliano, sugar and baking powder as blitz again.
5. Add among meal and pulse until just stirred through then add eggs and pulse until just combined. (do not over mix it otherwise it will be dense and heavy)
6. Line a springform tin with baking paper then pour mixture in. Bake for 50 mins.
7. Allow to cool in tin then when ready to serve dust with icing sugar.