may: lisa’s banoffee macarons

I confess that I only heard of traditional Banoffee pie not that long ago. So when this retro challenge came up, I thought, what better way to experiment with my first banoffee pie than to create a banoffee pie inspired macaron!

I recently went on a whirlwind trip to London for a friend’s wedding and that was part of the inspiration for this dish. While I didn’t eat banoffee pie whilst I was there (actually I’ve never had it before), there’s something about it that screams “English” to me. And topped with all that creamy goodness? Mmmm, yummo!

Now this is only the second time that I’ve attempted macarons, so please excuse that they are not perfect. The basic macaron recipe has been adapted from Donna Hay, expert in fail-safe recipes. Pipe the mixture into about 4cm rounds – they will expand slightly during resting a baking.

Allow the banana caramel mixture to cool before piping, to avoid melting the buttercream.

I’ve used a Swiss meringue buttercream in the centre because I think it’s not as heavy as a traditional buttercream and gives the centre a more creamy texture.

Finally, press the two halves together and enjoy. The macarons should be crisp on the outside, chewy on the inside, and filled with vanilla, banana, caramel goodness. Enjoy your banoffee macarons, and a very happy birthday to my husband!

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may: kerri’s chocolate & earl grey bombe alaska

Bombe alaska is one dessert that many don’t do at home. It’s not hard, just time consuming and needs freezer space. I made it once a few years ago and it turned out really well. It’s a fun dessert, filled with surprise, and looks impressive – like a toasted meringue pillow. B also loves bombe alaska, so I was looking for an occasion to make it again.

You can use any flavour ice cream you like. So I decided on my favourite – chocolate, of course. The outer layer is usually a standard meringue  – egg whites whipped with sugar. I ‘modernised’ it by adding ground earl grey tea leaves to give a subtle difference. It didn’t seem quite enough, so I took the cake component out, substituting with melting moment matchsticks served on the side. As the traditional bombe alaska has liqueur in it, I also served dessert wine on the side.

I should have stuck to the original configuration of a bombe alaska, wrapping cake around the ice cream and re-freezing it before coating it with meringue and browning it. What a mess trying to plate 8 bombe alaskas at once – without the cake encasing it, the ice cream started to melt on the plates! I was so disappointed – I would have to serve it slightly melted. I should have thought this through more and at least chilled the plates beforehand. I was also unhappy with the final presentation – having to cover melted ice cream with the meringue so it wasn’t as neat as I wanted it to be. But the redeeming feature was that my guests really enjoyed eating it – not just the taste of the earl grey and chocolate, but being able to ‘scoop up’ the drippings with the melting moment matchsticks.

Luckily I had more of everything, so the next evening I decided to serve it in espresso cups. Much less stressful, but also less of a bombe alaska. Still made for a yummy dessert though!

You learn from your mistakes. Next time I’ll do the cake.

You can find the recipe here.

may: kerri’s apple crumble ice cream tart

I chose this month’s theme purely on this recipe! I found it a few months ago while I was scrolling through the Australian Gourmet Traveller website. I love apple crumble – it evokes comfort and warm memories of my childhood, eating it hot, straight out of the oven with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. I’ve had many over the years, but my mum’s is still the best!

I’ve always only had apple crumble in the traditional way – apple on the bottom, crumble browned on top, and mostly in winter. So the idea of having it in ice cream form not only sounded delicious, but also meant it could be a dessert to be enjoyed no matter what the weather.

I decided to make one change in the recipe for the sake of added interest and presentation. Instead of mixing the crumble into the ice cream, I made a ‘crumble’ tart base instead, substituting brown sugar in place of caster sugar in the pastry.

It was a hit with my guests who all agreed that my apple crumble ice cream tart actually tasted like apple crumble! Yay. And yum.

Recipes:
My version
Original recipe

may: jasmine’s cherry brownie tarts

My favorite classic sweet treat is the good ole brownie. The brownie was a staple when I was growing up. It was a common item at birthday parties when I was a child, my friends and I made it at sleepovers, and it was a must-have at neighbourhood bbqs, potlucks and house warmings. In fact, I think brownies were my first venture into the world of baking. Though…back then, my brownie recipes included cocoa powder instead of chocolate blocks :)

My favorite part of the brownie is the edge, so to ensure that each portion of brownie tart had an even proportion of edge and soft chocolate-y centre, I decided to bake the brownies in a muffin tin. A friand tin or a mini loaf tin would work just as well.

I added layers of cherries and cream cheese bits to the brownie tarts. I love the cherry-chocolate combination! I also added one of my favorite classic ingredients to the recipe – sour cream. Sour cream keeps the brownies moist and I think it balances the sweetness of the chocolate and sugar.

I brought the brownie tarts to a monthly home-made high tea I have with my girlfriends and the treats were really well received. I served them fresh from the oven sprinkled with a bit of icing sugar. Luckily, the friend who was hosting lives in the same apartment building as I do – so the brownies were still warm in the centre when they were served….which added to the complements and brownie points I received :p 

may: anna’s adult s’mores

Since this is a global blog, I should probably explain what s’mores are – I definitely hadn’t heard of them before moving to the U.S. Traditionally made by kids around a campfire, a s’more is simply a toasted marshmallow sandwiched with a piece of chocolate (usually Hershey’s) between graham crackers. For those in oz, graham crackers are similar to shredded wheatmeal or digestive biscuits. The heat from the toasted marshmallow melts the chocolate to make an oozy, delicious treat that makes you want “some more” (get it?!!). S’mores are now found pretty commonly on restaurant dessert menus and in different forms such as cupcakes, ice cream, and even dessert pizza (I’ve had one and it was pretty good)!

Here’s what the traditional version looks like (we made these over Christmas in the Catskills last year).

I chose s’mores for the May modern retro challenge because there were 3 components for me to play with. I decided to make a s’mores tart and came up with an adult’s (read: alcoholic) version.

Graham crackers = graham cracker and ginger tart shell
Hershey’s milk chocolate = dark chocolate and grand marnier ganache filling
Marshmallows = homemade orange and grand marnier marshmallows

I made the tart shells and chocolate filling a day in advance. The mixture for the tart shell was crumbly and hard to work with. I was making individual tarts, and it wasn’t until the third one that I discovered an easy way of molding them (see recipe for further details). The chocolate filling was a cinch, although I wished I had spiked it with more grand marnier (I’ve made that adjustment in the recipe).

The marshmallows required cooking sugar syrup to a certain temperature, and then whipping them into egg whites (similar to making a meringue). I didn’t realize until it was too late that my trusty sugar thermometer had run out of battery! For those of you who haven’t cooked with sugar before, there are various different stages of sugar done-ness, and a few degrees here or there can mean success or failure of a dish. I was feeling pretty worried, but luckily a quick google search told me how to check the different stages without a thermometer. Ten minutes later, I was happily scooping the marshmallows on top of my tarts.

I love desserts that can be made in advance and require minimal work before serving. It makes it so much easier, especially if you are cooking a meal also. Just before serving, I used a blow-torch to brown the tops of the marshmallows to give them a campfire taste, and they were perfect! We made tea to serve with dessert, but the tarts were finished even before the tea arrived…

may: modern retro

The classics are making a comeback! Think brown betties, impossible pies, trifles, crepes suzette, apple crumbles to name a few… We’re going back in time, thanks to Kerri, and re-creating classics for 2012!

Visit us throughout the month to see our sweet creations!