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Food, general thoughts, food…


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Vanilla Slice

I am not a huge fan of Vanilla Slice from the bakery, not because it isn’t nice, indeed it is very nice. It is also difficult to eat, that is what makes me choose something else every time. I have never met a vanilla slice that is easy to eat, it always squishes its custard filling out all over the place making you look like you have been eating by yourself for about 9 minutes…unsuccessfully. This one is no exception, its saving grace was that I could eat it at home and not worry about the impression I was making on those around me. I was happy that it tasted as good as its bakery counterparts although I would use less icing in future, I will make it again as long as I can eat it quietly at home without others.

I let mine sit for a good 24 hours prior to consuming. I thought this might make the pastry a little easier to deal with but not really…

Enjoy!

Vanilla Slice

2 sheets puff pastry
½ cup caster sugar
½ cup custard powder
1½ cups cream
2-2½ cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
Icing
2 cups icing sugar
1 teaspoon butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
Hot water

Place puff pastry on lined oven tray. Prick with a fork and bake for 10-15 minutes at 220°C.
Put sugar, custard powder and cream into a saucepan and stir over a medium heat until it starts to thicken.
Add milk ½ a cup at a time and whisk continuously until the custard is thick.
Let everything cool slightly.
Place in a 22 cm square tin, pastry, custard, pastry then icing.
Icing: Place icing sugar, butter and vanilla in a bowl and add enough hot water to make
thin to medium textured icing.

Recipe notes
Best after 12-24 hours in the refrigerator but can be eaten in as little as 3 hours.

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Coffee & Date Slice

I enjoy nerdy jokes, science, philosophy, physics jokes (I don’t get maths ones, I am not geared right for those). Unfortunately I am the only one in my household that does. I also really enjoy absurdly silly kids jokes. Like my taste in music, my taste in jokes is very eclectic and, seemingly, a bit out of the ordinary. This both amuses and irritates the people around me as they are either peppered with utter nonsense or having jokes lengthily explained to them. As we all know, once you have to explain a joke it isn’t really that funny anymore but I am compelled to share my amusement even at the cost of said amusement.

Anyway, there you have it, a small snippet of my personality duly doled out and shared. Lucky you 🙂

The below recipe, by the way, really really really good! The coffee icing brings it to a whole new level.

Coffee & Date Slice
Makes 24 pieces

2 eggs
1 cup brown sugar
175g melted butter
1 1/2 cups plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup milk
1 cup chopped dates

Coffee Icing
2 cups icing sugar
2 Tbls hot coffee
1 Tbls softened butter

Preheat oven to 150C.
Grease and line a lamington pan.
Mix together all slice ingredients, stir until well combined.
Transfer to pan and bake for 35-40 mins.
Cool on wire rack, top with coffee icing when cool.

Mix all icing ingredients together. Top cooled slice. Cut slice when icing is set.


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Hedgehog Slice

I was asked by my daughter, immediately upon arrival, to make Hedgehog slice. This is not a request to spend time and cook together it actually translates directly to ‘I would like to eat it, please make it for me’. Good thing I like to cook (not that I really consider Hedgehog slice cooking as such).

I don’t know why they call it Hedgehog slice but hedgehogs are super cute (on the internet anyway, I’ve never met one in person) so any excuse to think about them or, better yet, browse cute pictures on the internet whilst bustling around the kitchen is welcome.

I got my recipe from here.

Hedgehog Slice

1 x 395 g tin sweetened condensed milk
250g butter melted
2 x 250 g packets Marie biscuits, roughly crushed
3 Tbls cocoa
3 Tbls coconut

250g milk cooking chocolate
2 teaspoons cooking oil

Place biscuits crumbs in a large bowl.
Add the cocoa powder and coconut and mix well.
Melt the butter and sweetened condensed milk together.
Add to the dry ingredients, mix thoroughly.
Place into a slice pan and refrigerate.
Melt icing ingredients altogether and drizzle on top of slice.
Refrigerate to set.


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Date Bars

This is spur of the moment cooking. I knew I had the ingredients and the desire just came over me to cook something. In the middle of the morning I trip downstairs for a coffee and then return less than an hour later with freshly baked slice (it was a public holiday in half the country today and things were pretty slow at work. Last week when we had a public holiday I worked all day so I feel like it works out in the wash…)

This slice is very light and the dates give it a deep caramel like taste. Add that to the fact that I love anything with nuts in it and you have another winner. I will probably be the only household member that actually likes this but I am okay with that (all the more for me!!) I made a lemon cheesecake for my husband over the weekend so I am working on credit at the moment (I can do no wrong), it should last me for a week or so.

Date Bars
Makes 18 bars

1 Cup Pitted Dates, finely chopped
2 Tbls Apple Juice
2 Eggs
1/2 Cup Sugar
1/4 Cup Self-rising Flour
1 Cup Walnuts, chopped
Confectioner’s Sugar

Preheat oven to 180C.  Prepare a 20cm baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.
In a small bowl, combine dates and apple juice.  In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs until frothy.  Gradually beat in sugar until thick and lemon-coloured.
Gradually beat in flour.  Stir in nuts and date mixture.
Spread in prepared baking pan.
Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until the centre feels firm to the touch.
Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes.  Invert onto a cutting board.
Dust with confectioners’ sugar.  Cut into squares.


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Apple and Berry Slice

Tangy and tart and sweet, the best of all worlds. This fruity slice would make a wonderful dessert teamed with vanilla ice cream, a blob of clotted cream or even custard. I love cooked apple and the berries added an extra tartness that was definitely welcome.

I used frozen berries, a mixture of strawberries, blackberries, blueberries and raspberries.

 

Apple and Berry Slice

BASE:
375g Plain Flour
185g Butter
2 Eggs
90g White Sugar
250g Apples, peeled, cored and finely sliced
250g Blackberries or Raspberries (use frozen and thawed if fresh not available)

TOPPING:
4 Eggs
90g Caster Sugar
1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Essence
60g Plain Flour

BASE:
Rub together flour and butter. Add the eggs and White Sugar and form into a smooth dough.
Pat pastry into the base of a shallow baking tin (37 x 25cm) and press into corners.
Prick surface of pastry and bake blind in oven preheated to 190C for 10 to 15 mins or until pale golden.
Cover the pastry with sliced apples and berries.
TOPPING:
Beat the eggs, Caster Sugar and vanilla essence together until mixture is pale and fluffy. Fold the flour in gently.
Spoon the mixture evenly over the apples and berries.
Return to the oven, reducing the heat to 180C and cook for 20 to 25 mins.
Cut into slices when cool.


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Choc-Cheese Brownie Slice

I didn’t know what to expect from this recipe. I don’t much like the taste or texture of baked cheesecake and I was worried that this might be a bit similar so I didn’t hold out much hope that I would find this particular recipe to my tastes. How wrong can I be? Pretty damned wrong, it seems, is the answer to that.

This slice is light and moist and the cheese layer didn’t remind me of baked cheesecake at all. I enjoyed the toasty walnuts (but I love toasted nuts in general) and as it was not overly sweet or dense it wasn’t one of those slices where you say, it’s lovely but I could only eat a small slice. While you could easily cut this into minute squares and have it look fabulous served along with a high tea you can just as easily cut yourself a slab and plonk on the couch in front of the telly to enjoy with a cup of coffee.

I found the task of spreading the top layer of chocolate mix over the much softer and lighter layer of cheese filling a somewhat taxing task but other than that it was a fairly easy to follow recipe and I was very pleased with the result. My suggestion would be to make your cheese filling first and then hope that your chocolate mixture is still a bit warmer and softer than mine was when you get to your second layer.

 

Choc-Cheese Brownie Slice

185g dark chocolate, chopped
45g butter
2 eggs
3/4 cup castor sugar
1/2 cup plain flour
1/4 cup self-raising flour
few drops vanilla essence
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Filling
60g butter
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
185g ricotta cheese
1/4 cup castor sugar
2 eggs
2 tablespoons plain flour

Grease a 19cm x 29cm lamington pan.
Melt chocolate and butter over hot water, cool; do not allow to set.
Beat eggs in small bowl with electric mixer until thick, add sugar gradually, beat until sugar is dissolved.
Transfer mixture to large bowl, stir in sifted flours, essence and chocolate mixture.
Spread half the chocolate mixture into prepared pan.
Top with filling, then remaining chocolate mixture.
Run a knife in a zigzag pattern through mixture, sprinkle evenly with walnuts.
Bake in moderate oven for about 30 minutes.
Cool in pan before cutting.

Filling: Beat butter, essence and cheese together in small bowl with electric mixer until mixture is creamy.
Add sugar, beat until fluffy, add eggs one at a time, beat until combined.
Stir in sifted flour.

Keeping time: 4 days.


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Not Quite the Taste of Home

Here is a recipe that needs a bit of tweaking, from my husband’s perspective. This is a traditional dessert slice from South Africa. Or at least it was traditional in my husband’s family in South Africa, whatever makes you happy.

It seems that traditional recipes don’t always translate well from country to country when exact measurements can’t be found for ingredients. ‘A tin’ of granadilla pulp in South Africa may not weigh anything like a tin of passionfruit pulp in Australia. The result? A very passion fruity slice that I enjoyed very much but wasn’t the creamy, slightly passion fruity result that my husband was looking for to remind him of home. Still it was a nice slice and we now have an excuse to eat all of it, buy new ingredients and try again, next time with one tin, not two.

I have reprinted the recipe here, the way we had it, if you like passion fruit a lot then feel free to use the two tins, it was a really lovely fruity slice. Because the tin size worried my husband from the get go we added 2 teaspoons of gelatine to the mix to avoid it becoming a sloppy mess. We also added additional layers of biscuits because that is the way my husband’s Mother used to make it and Mums always do it the best way!

Tennis biscuits are usually available in stores that have a ‘South African’ goods section. As we have lots of ex-pats in Australia there are quite a few stores carrying South African goods now to help people find the taste of home in their new country. Tennis biscuits are a fairly plain sweet biscuit with a coconut overtone; they are also square, making for easy use in a square dish.

Granadilla and Lemon Fridge Tart

200g tennis biscuits
300g can condensed milk
1 cup boiled water
2 small cans of granadilla pulp/ 8 granadilla
Lemon flavoured jelly

Grease a 20cm dish that can be placed in your fridge.
Line it with a layer of biscuits.
Dissolve the jelly in the boiling water; add the condensed milk and granadilla pulp.
Smooth the mixture on top of the biscuits and refrigerate overnight.