Category Archives: Sweet Stuff

Doing It for the Kids

Parenthood is full of small, joyful moments that remind you how much fun it was to be a kid. It’s a second chance to experience the amazing little things that make life worth living…jumping in muddy puddles, Saturday morning cartoons, looking for snails and slugs in the garden. So when my brilliant friend Dee posted a Facebook status about baking cupcakes in ice cream cones, my inner child started doing cartwheels. I confess, my first thought was ‘Nom, nom, nom!’ My second thought was, ‘Oh, I suppose my thre year-old might like those.’ I made a mental note to stash the idea away for a future play date which, happily, was only two days later.

Dee pointed me in the direction of this brilliant blog that inspired her own baking. The web abounds with recipes like this and this, but I took the easy route by buying a packet of Odlum’s chocolate sponge mix, some flat-bottomed cones, and toppings galore. Then, my kitchen helper and I donned our aprons and went to town. It’s a story best told in pictures…

Ummm….I think it needs more chocolate, Mom.

Ready for the oven

Let the games begin!

Really, what I need is more sprinkles. More sprinkles!

Happy days!

For the sake of the children, give this one a try…

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Filed under Kid-friendly, Quick & Easy, Sweet Stuff

Fruitylicious

The clouds have settled back over Dublin today, but it’s still relatively warm and I’m not giving up hope that this weekend is going to be full of sunshine. It’s a three day weekend, and I plan to make the most of it by packing up the car and heading to Wexford for some sun,  sea food, and strawberries. I adore Wexford strawberries and eat them by the truckload from April-September. I like them sliced over cereal, as a topping on my yogurt, on toast spread with ricotta and drizzled with honey, with a slice of madeira cake, tossed with baby spinach leaves and a light vinaigrette…the list is endless, but below is one of my all-time favourite creations – Boozy Berries & Cream.

Boozy Berries & Cream (serves 4)

This dish is the very definition of summer. It also has the added bonus of being ridiculously easy to prepare while looking extremely impressive – what’s not to love? I like to layer this dessert into individual martini glasses, but it could also be served in a trifle dish and spooned into bowls at the table.

Ingredients

4 meringue nests

250-300g of ripe strawberries, rinsed

2 tablespoons of your favourite liquor/liqueur (I have used everything from bourbon to triple sec to cognac)

250 ml cream

1 teaspoon icing sugar

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Method

Slice all but four of the strawberries in half. Place them in a bowl, pour over your liquor of choice, and cover the bowl with cling film. Set aside and leave to marinate at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. Gently break the meringue nests into chunks – try not to crush them too firmly because they will just turn to dust and you want a nice, crunchy texture to contrast with the gooey cream and slippery strawberries. Whip the cream with the icing sugar and vanilla extract until it forms soft peaks. By now, the marinated strawberries be basking in a lovely, boozy syrup. Begin layer the dessert with some meringue chunks, a spoonful of strawberries, a spoonful of cream, and so on. When finished the layering process, drizzle the syrup over the top and garnish with the whole strawberries and mint leaves.

Boozy Berries


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King of Tarts

A busy schedule and a new found interest in training for cross country races like this have led me astray from blogging, both because I haven’t had much time on my hands, and I’ve been doing a lot of basic, functional cooking (lots of poached eggs & asparagus on granary bread, veggie fried rice, and  tortilla pizzas). This past weekend, however, I was laid up with a strained foot and having friends around for drinks, so I decided to flex my culinary muscles…in the form of the most delicious, sinful, time-consuming dessert I have ever made – Rachel Allen’s Salted Caramel Chocolate Tart.

It pretty much speaks for itself…flaky pastry,  gooey chocolate, and sticky caramel with a tang of sea salt that tickles your taste buds in the best possible of ways. Amazing. It was completely worth the substantial investment of time and if you’re looking for a showstopping dessert to end your next dinner party on a high note, this is definitely it. I probably should have served it with Irish coffees instead of neat bourbon, but my guests just about survived the boozy sugar high in time for the last bus!

My next post will probably be about all of the salads I  make this week to counteract the effects of this tart and help me back on the training wagon…in the mean time, there’s one slice left, so, ahem, excuse me while I wander off to the kitchen and put the kettle on…

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Filed under Occasions, Sweet Stuff

Rainy Day Baking

There’s been some shocking weather in Dublin over the last 36 hours – pretty steady rain with some fog and chilly mist thrown in for good measure. While I’m a big supporter of throwing on the wellies and going puddle jumping, there is only so much rain two parents and one toddler can take and only so many hours of Peppa Pig that can be watched. Fortunately, my little man has developed an interest in the kitchen, so that kept us entertained for a while yesterday.

Maybe it’s the fact that I’m always chopping something, or the fabulous set of kiddie cookware that his godmother gave him for Christmas, but he’s gotten very curious about pots bubbling on the stove and loves anything that involves cracking an egg. Here are two store cupboard recipes perfect for rainy day baking with a small person.

The first is this genius recipe from Food52 founder Merrill Stubbs. With only five ingredients and an opportunity to use the electric hand mixer, this is the perfect recipe to occupy little hands, fill your house with a sweet, buttery fragrance, and accompany the necessary rainy day cup of Earl Grey.

The second recipe is even easier and the one I went for yesterday, as it only has three ingredients. Seriously. Just three. My friend Monica posted it on Facebook not too long ago and it has become my go-to emergency cookie. I’m not sure of its origins, but it’s this easy:

1cup/200 grams sugar
1cup/250 grams peanut butter
1 egg

Mix ingredients. Roll into balls. Flatten with fork, bake on parchment-lined try for 10 minutes at 350F/180C degrees. Try not to eat them all in one sitting. It’s a struggle.

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Filed under Quick & Easy, Sweet Stuff