Mini Meringue Bites

These meringue bites are so simple (and inexpensive), they’ll become your go-to treat for any last-minute guests dropping in for coffee, or maybe use them as additional birthday party treats.

This is another recipe from The Cake Maker’s Wish. My cake maker, Olivia, gets to have fun creating a wedding cake for a celebrity couple and adds meringues as embellishments to her design, which is another great use for these mini meringues.

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The basic meringue recipe is simple but it’s also flexible as you can change the colour (pink, blue, white, caramel or rainbow unicorn!) or flavour (think vanilla, chocolate, coffee, rose or orange blossom) to suit your taste or needs. Glam them up or keep them simple. They can go as far as your imagination desires.

This one can also be gluten free. (In theory, cream of tartar is gluten free but if you have any concerns about it being processed in the same facility as grains then check with the manufacturer.)

Ingredients

  • 4 egg whites, room temperature… free range, please… I love my chooks 🙂
  • 1 cup of castor sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • Add colours or flavours of your choice (e.g. vanilla, rosewater, orange blossom water, coffee, chocolate powder, strawberry powder, jam etc.). Add these to the desired taste or effect but most flavourings only require about half a teaspoon.

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 120C.
  2. Beat your egg whites and cream of tartar until they are beginning to hold shape.
  3. Add in your sugar a little at a time, mixing well between additions until the sugar is completely mixed through and the meringue is white, fluffy and holds stiff peaks.
  4. Add your vanilla and/or flavourings or colourings of choice and beat through.
  5. Pipe your mini meringues onto baking trays lined with paper. Bite-sized pieces could be the size of a twenty-cent coin.
  6. Place the trays in the oven and reduce the heat to 90C and bake for around an hour and a half. You want them to cook slowly so that they harden into bites.

Tip

Have fun with these! You could try splitting the meringue into two halves and colouring them differently, then putting both colours into a bag and piping them in a swirl to show both colours.

These Strawberry Lemonade Cakes Taste Like Sunshine and Holidays

Gluten free options

I’m not even going to try and pretend that I’m not crazy in love with these cupcakes! I had my character, Olivia Kent, bake these in The Cake Maker’s Wish because I found recipes online and thought they would be amazing. But… when I went to make them, I found them seriously lacking in flavour. It was so disappointing. I love the intensity of lemon meringue pie and lemon curd so I wasn’t going to have a bar of that! I changed the recipes to jack up the flavours, big time. Now, they burst with lemon and the seductive aroma and flavour of strawberries. Every mouthful inspires hope and happiness, perfect as a winter warmer to chase away the blues.

 

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I’m not going to lie, though: these are not quick to make. But, oh, they are worth it, especially for a special occasion.

Ingredients

Cake Part 1

  • 125g butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup castor sugar
  • zest of three lemons
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Cake Part 2

  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose plain flour (or gluten free plain flour)
  • 3 Tb arrowroot or cornflour (check that it’s gluten free cornflour if you want them GF)
  • 2 tsp baking powder (check specs for GF)
  • pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice

Strawberry Buttercream

  • 250g butter
  • 500g pure icing sugar (check specs for GF)
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen or fresh strawberries (hulled)
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla

(Note: These quantities will make more than enough buttercream for your cupcakes. You can reduce these quantities if you wish, keeping the ration of 2:1 for icing sugar to butter, or freeze the excess and use later for biscuits or a loaf cake of some sort. I always figure that if I’m making something I might as well make a lot of it to freeze some for later.)

Method

Cake preparation

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C (160C fan forced) and line your cupcake trays with paper. (This batch will make approximately 16 cupcakes.)
  2. In a mixing bowl, beat your butter and lemon zest, then add in the sugar and beat again until well mixed and fluffy. Add the egg whites and vanilla and beat to combine.
  3. In another bowl, mix the dry ingredients of ‘Cake Part 2’ together, then add half of it to the butter mixture, mix to combine, then add half the sour cream, mix to combine, then repeat with the remaining dry ingredients and sour cream. Finally, add the lemon juice and beat again to form a batter.
  4. Fill your cupcake papers to 2/3 full and put them into the oven. The cakes will take 20-25 minutes, give or take. (I have a slow oven and mine took 30 mins.)

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Strawberry preparation

  1. Place your strawberries into a blender and blitz until consistent.
  2. Transfer the strawberries into a small pot and heat on the stove until they are gently boiling, stirring often. Continue to cook them until they have reduced down to approximate the colour and consistency of tomato sauce.
  3. Cool the sauce before adding it to the buttercream, otherwise it will melt the butter. (Putting it in the fridge is helpful.)

 

Buttercream preparation

  1. Make sure your icing sugar is as free of lumps as possible. You may need to dry beat it first. (Bashing it on the kitchen bench also helps!)
  2. Beat your butter, icing sugar and vanilla until smooth and creamy. Add approximately three tablespoons of the strawberry sauce and beat until combined.
  3. You may like to use a piping bag to pipe the cream or simply spoon it on! If you wish, you might like to decorate your cupcakes with extra strawberries or edible flowers for an added touch of beauty.

 

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Enjoy! These really are divine 🙂

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Easy Gingerbread Love Hearts

These gingerbread love hearts are inspired by my character, Olivia Kent, from my book The Cake Maker’s Wish, who makes a peach-coloured version, though with much more fancy, professional decoration than these have! Still, I like to keep things in the realm of achievable. I had never made royal icing before making these pretty biscuits and while they might be beginner level, I still think they’re a gorgeous gift for yourself or someone you love. (I certainly didn’t hear any complaints when I gifted them on!)

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Gingerbread love hearts, gluten free

 

I’ve made these ones gluten free (as we are a fully gluten free household) but if you want to make them with regular flour, you can simply swap it for the same amount and they will turn out better, I’m certain. Anyone who has worked with gluten free food will know how variable the outcomes are and just how tricky it can be to work with, especially if you have to roll dough! Given that, I’m pretty darn pleased with these.

Most recipes I looked at included 1 tablespoon of ground ginger in the recipe. I did that to start with but could barely taste it! For me, what on earth is the point in something being ‘ginger’ bread if you can’t taste the ginger. I’ve doubled the amount and think it hits the sweet spot, but if you are a super keen ginger lover, feel free to experiment with even more, if you like.

Here we go…

Ingredients

  • 125g butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (packed)
  • 1/2 cup golden syrup
  • 1 egg, separated
  • 2.5 cups plain flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 Tbs ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground all spice
  • 150g pure icing sugar (make sure it’s gluten free if you want them to be GF)
  • Food colouring of choice, optional (I used Unicorn Superfoods natural pink pitaya powder)

 

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C (160C fan forced) and line two baking trays with paper. Ensure you have a little extra flour ready to dust your workspace to roll out the dough.
  2. With your beaters, beat the butter and brown sugar together until creamy, add the golden syrup and egg yolk and beat again until mixed.
  3. Sift in your flour, spices and bicarbonate of soda. (Hot tip: if you don’t have a sifter (or don’t like using one–because they can be quite hard on fingers, wrists and elbows–you can simply shake your ingredients through a wire mesh strainer and it will work just as well.) Mix or low speed until combined into a bit of a ball of dough.
  4.  Place you dough onto your floured workspace and knead lightly until it forms a nice, lightly floured dough. You can wrap it in plastic and let it rest in the fridge for half an hour if you like, but I didn’t (because I didn’t read the instructions properly!) and it worked just fine.
  5. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough until it is about 4-7mm thick. If you are using gluten free flour, I recommend the thicker width as gluten free dough tends to fall apart and break easily.
  6. Cut the dough into hearts with a cookie cutter, or any other shape you like, and place onto your papered baking trays, giving a little room between each biscuit for them to expand during cooking.
  7. To make your icing, beat your egg white until you they hold white peaks. Sift your icing sugar into the bowl and beat on low speed until combined. Add your colour of choice (or separate into multiple bowls if you want additional colours), then feed into a piping bag with your nozzle of choice.
  8. Enjoy!

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Josephine Moon’s Rustic Apple Crumble Recipe (with Gluten Free Option)

I don’t know about you but I’m a total sucker for anything with baked apples in it. This recipe is a winner because it can be made gluten free and with a few tweaks it can even slide into the realm of being healthy. (Yep, I’ve eaten it for breakfast.)

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What I love about this recipe is that it is so flexible. In fact because I wanted to share this recipe so much, I had to force myself to write it down as I went because I usually make it up on the spot.

One of the opening scenes in The Cake Maker’s Wish involves an illicit apple crumble (you’ll have to read it to find out why that one is illicit!) and was inspired by my own trip to the Cotswolds in 2015.

This is a generous dish because you really do have the flexibility to make it all your own and I’ll leave you some notes on some suggested variations. Ready to get baking? Here we go.

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Josephine Moon’s Rustic Apple Crumble (gluten free optional)

Ingredients

  • 6-8 apples (a mixture of varieties is perfectly fine, and leaving the skin on adds nutritional value and the ‘rustic’ vibe… also, it saves time!)
  • 1 Tbs water
  • 100g butter
  • 60g brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats (make sure they’re certified gluten free if you want it to be GF)
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 cup plain flour (or GF all purpose flour blend)
  • 1/4 cup sultanas (or cranberries, or other dried fruit)
  • 1/4 cup nuts, chopped roughly (walnuts are traditional but equally I have used pecans or almonds)
  • sprinkle of cinnamon (or nutmeg, or both) to taste
  • drizzle of maple syrup (optional)

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 190C (170C fan forced). Locate your cooking pot. I use a 25cm round cast iron pot with lid.
  2. Cut your apples into quarters to remove the core, then slice into approximately even slices (maybe 1-2mm wide). Layer them roughly into your pot, sprinkle with cinnamon, and add the tablespoon of water, which will give them a bit of steam to begin with.
  3. Combine your butter, sugar, oats, almond meal and flour into a bowl and work with your fingers to create sticky crumbles.
  4. Spread your sultanas and nuts over the top.
  5. Distribute your crumble topping evenly over the top and drizzle with maple syrup, if using.
  6. Place the lid on the pot and slide it into your pre-warmed oven for 15 minutes. Then remove the lid and leave to cook for another 25 to 30 minutes (depending on your oven) or until golden brown and apples are tender.
  7. Serve with cream, ice cream or yoghurt. Enjoy!

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Tips for healthier versions

  • Add chia seeds and/or coconut shreds to the crumble topping–this makes it worthy of being a breakfast food in my opinion 🙂
  • Reduce or even eliminate the sugar. I have made this with no sugar and you’d be amazed how much sweetness is in the apples already.
  • Choose plain, unsweetened yoghurt as your topping of choice.

 

Happy baking!

Jo x

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Josephine Moon’s favourite chocolate recipe: chocolate beetroot cake

This recipe comes from The Saffron Girl.

I talk about chocolate a lot. I think about it a lot. And, yes, I even eat it a lot. But what I’ve learned while doing research for The Chocolate Promise, is that you need to know how to eat it in order to get all the great health benefits without all the fat and sugar nastiness that comes with so much of the commercial confectionary on the market.

So, what better way to begin the Easter season than to share chocolate yumminess that’s bursting with goodness.

In this recipe, I take two of my favourite foods—chocolate and cake—add some awesome beetroot and get a delicious, healthy indulgence.

But before we get to the recipe, let’s take a quick look at where chocolate comes from.

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This is a fruit pod from Theobroma Cacao. Inside the pod are flesh-covered beans, and inside the beans are the cacao nibs. And that’s from where we derive cacao, which is fermented, dried and roasted, and artisans then combine it in varying quantities with cocoa butter, some sort of sweetener, and perhaps vanilla or other flavours.

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In its most natural state, cacao is ridiculously good for you, containing a plethora of vitamins, minerals, enzymes and a whopping great load of antioxidants—twice those found in red wine and three times that of green tea.

The problem is that most of what we know as ‘chocolate’ is really just cocoa-flavoured fat and sugar. Bummer! To get the absolute best out of chocolate, you need be consuming high-quality fare of at least 70% cacao.

Better yet, just do what I like to do and put raw cacao powder in whatever you can manage! Smoothies, goodie balls, cakes… go for it!

So, here is my chocolate beetroot cake. In the food processor it’s amazingly red! (And you know it’s good for you when it’s naturally red.) Just like tomatoes and red wine, beetroot is full of fantastic cancer-fighting properties because of that red colour.

Red beetroot + chocolate = awesome!

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Here it is out on a plate, with a sprinkle of coconut and a sprig of lavender (because lavender is my thing—seriously, I will put it in everything given half the chance).

My tips for this recipe:

Measure the beetroot accurately (otherwise it can turn out runny if you use too much) and watch it carefully as it’s baking. Anytime I’ve made it, it needs much longer in the oven than the recipe suggests. Every oven is different so use your best judgment.

Also, it goes really well with coconut milk yoghurt and grated dark chocolate on top for decoration.

Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 3 cups of grated, cooked beetroots
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup raw honey
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup raw 100% cacao powder
  • 1/3 cup coconut flour (for a slightly fluffier and dryer cake, use 1/2 cup coconut flour)*

Process

  • Preheat oven to 170C (350F).
  • In a food processor or blender, beat the beetroots, eggs and olive oil.
  • Add the honey, vanilla extract, baking soda, sea salt and spices. Blend well.
  • Add the cacao powder and coconut flour and mix until well incorporated.
  • Pour into a greased cake pan of choice. I used a 9-inch diameter tart pan.
  • Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  • Cool completely before cutting and serving. Garnish as desired.

 

 

 

Jo’s Choc-Lavender Coconut Milk ‘Nice Cream’ (Dairy and Gluten free!)

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This chocolate deliciousness is just the thing to delight your taste buds – and it’s good for you! Explore the healing power of chocolate (just like in The Chocolate Promise) with this yummy, guilt free treat. (And it should suit most people with food sensitivities, too.)

1 Can Coconut Milk (full fat)
The cream of 1 Can Coconut Cream (chilled overnight)
¼ cup cacao powder
¼ cup maple syrup
½ tsp vanilla bean powder
1-2 drops of edible lavender essential oil (you’re going to taste the lavender, so if you’re new to using essential oils in food, maybe just start with 1 drop).
  1. To get the cream from your can of coconut cream, you will have to chill it in the fridge overnight. Then open the can and scoop out the solid cream.
  2. Place all ingredients in a blender for 30-60 seconds (depending on the strength of your blender) to combine.
  3. Pour into a freezer proof container and put in freezer until frozen.
  4. Cut into squares with a knife and serve on its own, or with lavender flowers if you have them, but if not, rose petals, berries or lashings of thickened cream also look wonderful.

Josephine’s Fancy Honey Carrots

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To celebrate The Beekeeper’s Secret, our hardworking bees and the beautiful nectar they produce for us, this is my timeless recipe that even the kids will love.

1 bunch (16-18) of ‘fancy’ carrots with their green tops attached
60 g butter, melted
80 mL local, unrefined honey, plus more to serve
1-2 cloves garlic (minced)
zest of 1 orange
salt and pepper to taste
Flat leaf parsley, finely chopped (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 180 C. Wash and scrub the carrots. Chop off the greenery, leaving a couple of centimeters of stalk for effect; you still want them to have personality.
(Tip: keep the greenery aside for a green juice or smoothie or throw into a stock pot to add flavour. Otherwise, compost.)
  1. Pat the carrots dry, then lay them out in a single layer on parchment paper. Pour over the melted butter and salt and pepper, shuffle them about until they’re evenly coated, then lay them out in an orderly fashion once more. Place in the oven to roast for 15 minutes.
  2. Zest your orange. Mince your garlic.
  3. After 20 minutes in the oven, remove the carrots.
  4. Pour over your honey, then sprinkle your zest and garlic over the top. Give them a shake around again and return to the oven for another five to ten minutes, depending on how tender you’d like them. Test them with a fork to see when to take them out.
  5. Present on a beautiful platter and garnish with parsley leaves if using. Add a small bowl of honey for extra dipping (optional).

Tip: If you don’t have a zester, the fine blades on your grater will do.
Note: These are super tasty the next day, cold, straight from the fridge!

Creamy Valentine Chicken

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In honour of The Tuscan Feast (out in April 2018), and my recent trip to Tuscany, I’ve played with this classic Tuscan-inspired recipe for you to try.

Approx. 750g (2-4) chicken breasts (organic and free-range, please, because if you’re going to be sharing the love, let’s share it with our beautiful planet too.)
Olive oil
Two garlic cloves, minced
300mLs thickened cream
150mLs chicken stock
½ cup Parmesan cheese
1tsp dried Italian herbs (or pick a few of your favourites from your garden and chop them finely)
1½ cups baby spinach leaves
½ cup sundried tomatoes (preferably dry, not in oil)
Pasta or rice of choice to serve.
  1. Wash the chicken and cut each breast into thirds, crosswise
  2. Cook in the olive oil on a gentle heat until just brown and cooked through (no pink bits!)(Tip: I like to put the lid on the fry pan for some of the time so as to steam them a bit more than frying them. It keeps them moist. But do take the lid off towards the end to reduce the liquid till you get some lovely brown, sticky bits.)
  3. Give the minced garlic a turn in the fry pan for about a minute
  4. Pour in the cream and the stock, add your cheese and herbs, turn the heat up and bring to a simmer, stirring until it thickens.
  5. Add your sun-dried tomatoes and spinach and stir until the spinach has wilted then add your chicken back in too, giving it all another stir, raising the heat to take it back to a final simmer for a minute, lid on.
  6. Let it rest for ten minutes before serving alongside your choice of rice or pasta dish.

Bellissimo!

Josephine Moon’s Rose Iced Chai

If you’ve read The Tea Chest, you’ll know that I love chai!

This is perfect for a sultry summer’s day. It’s a chilly iced tea that’s full to the brim with deliciousness.

 

2 heaped dessert spoons loose leaf Masala chai (or good quality teabags) (or use a spice chai with no black tea if you are caffeine free)
Sweetener (e.g. sugar or honey), if you choose
2 Tbs dried rose flowers (or petals), plus extra for serving
3 tsp rosewater
Fresh lime, optional (some people are not a fan of lime juice but I love it!)
Plenty of ice

  1. Brew your chai: two heaped dessert spoons to one litre of water. Pour into a glass jug (or similar) that can go into the fridge.
  2. Add your sweetener of choice (if using) and stir until dissolved. Allow it to cool until warm.
  3. Add your dried rose flowers or petals and allow to steep in the fridge, 2-4 hours, then remove flowers/petals.
  4. Add the rose water.
  5. Now taste the brew. It will likely be very strong—it’s supposed to be! This will become your base brew.
  6. Mix half quantity of brew to half quantity of water as a guide (but feel free to adjust to your taste).
  7. Add freshly squeezed lime juice to taste (if using) and plenty of ice.
  8. Top with either fresh (spray free!) rose petals from your garden or more dried flowers.
  9. Enjoy!

Tip: Use sparkling water here for extra pizazz.
Note: You can buy edible rose flowers and petals online or in many organic/wholefood shops or from spice merchants. Rosewater can be bought off the shelf in your supermarket.