Monday, 17 February 2014

Caramello Cake

There's a great saying that I've recently come across - "You can do anything, but you can't do everything". It applies to me so well - I really do want to do everything. Well not line dancing or bungee jumping, but you know what I mean!

And it also applies so well to parties, particularly cooking for parties. While we all want to believe that we can make the perfect cake, cookies, snacks and nibblies from scratch, something's gotta give and shortcuts become a necessity.

So, when I wanted to make a Caramello Cake recently for my sister's birthday, I decided there was just too many elements to make from scratch and called on these two little champions.

Would you have ever known? Didn't think so!

The best thing is, you're not losing any taste whatsoever by using the ready made frosting or the caramel spread because they're both delicious. I've never made a rich chocolate icing any better that this Betty Crocker one. I use it for every chocolate cake I make. And we all know how I feel about making caramel!

The cakes were made from scratch for this one, but if you can find a good chocolate and caramel cake ready made, I won't be mad at you.

Caramello Cake

This cake is inspired by the chocolate bar, milk chocolate with oozing caramel. I only added the caramel on the top and middle layers, but feel free to add as much or as little as you like.


20cm round chocolate cake of your choice
20 cm round caramel cake of your choice
2 tubs of ready made chocolate frosting
1 tub ready made caramel spread
Sugar flowers for decoration



1. Make (or buy!) a chocolate cake and a caramel cake. I used this chocolate cake and this caramel one. Mud cakes would work equally well.

2. Make sure cakes are completely cooled and even off the tops so that they are flat. Then, split each cake in half diagonally.

3. Dollop about a teaspoon of the frosting on a cake plate or stand and place one half of the chocolate cake on top to prevent it from sliding while you're decorating it.

3. Spread the chocolate cake layer with chocolate frosting, leaving about 1/2 cm around the edge for it to spread with adding the other layers.

4. Place one half of the caramel cake on top and spread it with chocolate frosting, also leaving 1/2cm border. Then, dollop 5-6 teaspoons of the caramel spread over the frosting.

5. Place the other half of the chocolate cake on top and spread it with the chocolate frosting, leaving a 1/2 cm border.

6. Finish building the cake by adding the final caramel layer on top, then cover the whole thing, top and sides, with chocolate frosting and place it in the fridge for the frosting to set slightly.

7. Once frosting has hardened a bit, remove the cake from the fridge and add another layer of frosting, filling in any holes or uneven bits that have surfaced.

8. Decorate the top of the cake by building up a circle of frosting about 2cm inside the edge of the cake, then filling in the centre of the circle with more of the caramel spread. Add flower decorations as you wish.

9. Refrigerate the cake to set the frosting, but it is best served after being out of the fridge for a little while to ensure that the caramel is soft and gooey and the chocolate frosting is fudgy.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Strawberry Cheesecake Melting Moments

So, I have a problem. Well, some say problem - others say opportunity!

It seems I can't stop buying jams and sauces and dips and well, pretty much any other food item that will fit in the pantry. And if it's something I haven't tried before and it's on special - forgedaboudit!

The good news is that there is only one way to deal with this affliction - make something interesting out of it and share it with all of you lovelies of course!

My latest find was Strawberry Philly cream cheese. Have you tried it? It's real strawberry flavour in the traditional philly cheese. It's not overly sweet, more like a strawberry yoghurt or cheesecake. So yum!

Now, you could just have this on toast and it would be delightful and a whole lot less trouble. But we know each other well enough by now to predict that I wouldn't settle for that.

So, let me take this opportunity to introduce you to these Strawberry Cheesecake Melting Moments.

If you haven't had melting moments before, you're in for a double treat! They are crumbly, sweet custard flavoured biscuits that literally melt the moment you put them in your mouth. Hence the name!
If you can't find Strawberry Philly, you could easily make your own with a mixture of traditional cream cheese and jam or mashed up berries of your choice, and a little bit of icing sugar.
The other thing to try would be the Philly Mango frosting, which I've also seen on my travels. As that one hasn't made its way into my trolley yet - maybe I'm cured!

Strawberry Cheesecake Melting Moments

This recipe makes about 12 sandwiched biscuits and can easily by doubled if you need more. I've added a dollop of additional jam in between them to give them an extra strawberry hit. To be truthful, it wasn't absolutely necessary - but when have I ever cared about that??!!


250 grams soft butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
1/2 cup icing sugar
1 cup custard powder
1 cup plain flour
1 tub Strawberry Philly cream cheese
Strawberry Jam (optional)


1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees celsius and lightly grease two non-stick oven trays. Alternatively, line trays with baking paper.
2. Place butter, vanilla extract and icing sugar in a large bowl, then beat with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
3. Stir in sifted custard powder and flour in two batches.
4. Roll two-teaspoon sized balls of mixture in your hands and place on oven trays approximately 5 centimetres apart. The mixture will be sticky, so flour your hands before rolling.
5. Flatten each of the biscuits slightly with a fork. Dip the fork in flour and shake off the excess to avoid it sticking.
6. Bake biscuits for 15 minutes. Then, remove from the oven and leave the biscuits to cool on the tray for 5 minutes. Transfer biscuits to a wire rack to cool through and harden slightly.
7. Once cooled, spread strawberry philly over one of the biscuits, leaving a small border around the edge for the filling to spread. Then, top the filling with a small amount of jam and sandwich it with another biscuit. Repeat with all of the remaining biscuits.

Friday, 14 February 2014

The Best Scones Ever - White Chocolate and Lemonade!

Where I live it's looking like a crappy grey weekend ahead, which is an ideal excuse to get into the kitchen and bake up a storm. So to speak!

For some reason, rainy Saturday afternoons always get me in the mood to make - and eat! - scones. I swear I cannot remember making them on any other day. Weird!!

In case the mood also strikes you this weekend, I thought I'd share my favourite Scone recipe. It's a recipe for lemonade and white chocolate scones, which is the only way I make them these days.

They are really easy, come out light and tasty every time, and have never failed to please a crowd. And don't be put off by the chocolate or the lemonade, the taste is so subtle that you can add any flavour of jam or preserves you like.

The only question is, do you add the jam or cream on first?! I'm a jam first girl, but if you have any compelling reasons why I'm doing it wrong, I'd love to hear them!


White Chocolate and Lemonade Scones

Although I make them slightly differently, these scones are originally from And I will be forever grateful!


3 cups self raising flour
1 cup lemonade
50g white chocolate (I use a small bar of Milky Bar), chopped into small pieces
300ml thickened cream
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon extra thickened cream for brushing
Your choice of topping


1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celcius.

2. Sift flour into a large bowl and add salt. Stir in lemonade, white chocolate and cream with a fork.

3. Bring dough together with your hands, trying not to overwork the mixture. Then, divide the dough into equally sized pieces, and smooth them into scones. You will get about 8 large or 12 small scones out of this recipe.

4. Place scones onto a lightly floured non-stick baking tray, side by side so that they are just touching.

5. Brush with extra cream and place into the oven to bake for 12-15 minutes, depending on their size.

6. They will be ready when they are risen and lightly browned. They will also easily pull apart from each other when cooked. If they are hard to separate, they will still be doughy in the middle, so put them back into the oven to cook for a little while longer.

7. Serve warm with jam and whipped cream, or your preferred topping.

It's Party Fudge and you're all invited!

You know what the best thing about a party is? Well, apart from being with family and friends and celebrating life's special moments, and blah blah blah?

It's that you can very nearly get away with anything you like and people will say, "well, it was a party after all". Unless you're these guys and you did this.

Photo: Daily Mail

And if you want to put a brownie, some gummi bears, a few chips and a chunk of fudge in your mouth all at once? Well, it was a party after all!
If this sounds like you, below you'll find a recipe for Party Fudge, invented recently in the P11 kitchen. This recipe is super easy to make in the microwave in minutes. You can add in whatever party sweets you like - just try to add something salty as well as sweet, like peanuts or pretzels. And only use chocolates with a shell like Smarties, as you'll be adding the chocolate to a hot fudge mixture and it will melt. Unless you want that, which actually sounds fabulous! 

It's inspired by those times when you're standing in front of a huge party table with every sweet you can imagine right in front of you, and you accidentally on purpose pop a few in your mouth and wonder exactly why you haven't been eating M&M's with jelly snakes for years?!!

Party Fudge


440g white chocolate (not cooking chocolate)
1 can condensed milk
30g butter
1 cup chopped brownie pieces
1 cup gummi bears
1/2 cup plain potato crisps


1. Line a brownie pan (15cm x 10cm) with greaseproof paper.
2. Place white chocolate, condensed milk and butter in a microwave safe bowl and heat in the microwave for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds. The mixture will be thick but spreadable.

3. When mixture is completely combined, quickly transfer it into the lined pan and press down evenly. Then, add your party mixture, spreading evenly and pressing some bits down into the fudge mixture and leaving other bits on top.

4. Refrigerate the fudge for at least 2 hours. The longer you leave it in however, the firmer it will be.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Feelin' the Love - Fondant Fancy Conversation Hearts


Although at P11 HQ, we're not much about the lovey dovey Valentine's Day stuff, they do say if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

So, because it's socially unacceptable to beat every one of those soppy, annoying Valentine's Day lovers with their overpriced long-stemmed roses, P11 is feeling the love this year with these Fondant Fancy Conversation Hearts.

Now, the fondant fancies (or French fancies) so enjoyed over the years at P11 HQ look like this, thanks to Mr Kipling. Basically, they have sponge inside, with a little buttercream dot on the top, covered in flavoured fondant. When the mother came home from the supermarket to P11 HQ, they barely made it out of the bags and into the cupboard. Actually, I'm wrong. They never ever  made it into the cupboard!

Sadly they're not readily available around here anymore, so there was no choice but to make my own when I had a huge craving for my childhood treat. And being a time for getting all sentimental, I decided to make them all romantical for Valentine's Day. I know, my name is Christina and I'm a love-aholic!

Luckily the lovely Mary Berry from The Great British Bake Off showed everyone how to make the traditional square fancies on the show a little while ago, so using her instructions as a base, here's how to make Fondant Fancy Conversation Hearts.

First, make your sponge cake. Or buy one from the supermarket, I don't mind. I made this one from Mary's recipe.
Next cut out the hearts with a cookie cutter. As you can see below, my heart cutters were too shallow to cut all the way through the cake. If you have the same problem, push them in as far as they will go, then cut through the rest with a sharp knife.

Next, make the buttercream and slather the stuff all over your hearts. Rather than the little dots on the fancies above, I put a thick layer evenly over the top, of about 1/2 cm. Mainly because I love the stuff!

What I don't love is marzipan, so I left it out of Mary's recipe. I don't think Mr Kipling likes it either, cos his don't have them as I recall.

You also need to put a thin layer over the sides of the hearts so that the fondant will stick to them. It's a bit tricky given the shape, but you don't have to be too particular at first, so don't panic if they look at bit messy.

After applying the frosting, put the iced hearts in the fridge for 5-10 minutes, then remove them and smooth out the icing as best you can.
In the meantime, make the fondant to cover the hearts by placing one packet of fondant icing into a standing mixer, and gradually add water until it becomes runny enough to pour over the cakes.
Divide the fondant and water mixture into three bowls and colour and flavour each one. I used lemon essence, rosewater essence and cocoa to flavour these, but you can make them whatever flavour and colour you like.

Once you're happy with your fondant, place the cakes on a cooling tray set over a baking tray, then pour your fondant over the cakes to cover them. I found it best to pour a little at a time, then guide the fondant where you want it to go with a knife. For best results, pour one layer then put them in the fridge to set, then remove and add another layer.
If you find the fondant icing is too thick, particularly after adding more powder ingredients like cocoa, just add more water until your happy with it. Alternatively, if you find the fondant too thin and it's running off the cake, add some icing sugar and mix well.

Finally, decorate your hearts however your own heart desires. I made these by writing on them with an edible red pen. It wasn't my best work, I'm not as dexterous as I used to be before all this typing! Melted chocolate or sprinkles would work beautifully if you don't have an edible ink pen.
The good news is they worked, stayed in one piece and tasted fantastic, which made me a very happy Valentine indeed!

Thursday, 23 January 2014

True Blue Oz Day Morning Tea

Happy Australia Day everyone! As promised, I'm sharing my true blue Aussie morning tea today.

Since posting my Giant Lamington yesterday, I discovered that my love of making stupidly massive, or ridiculously tiny food is not an affliction I suffer alone. Before we go any further, you have to check out this giant vegemite scroll from Not Quite Nigella and this giant iced vovo from Raspberri Cupcakes. Love!

I actually got to thinking this afternoon that it's really not that unusual for an Aussie to enjoy an oversized object. Actually, that sounds dirty but it's not!

I'm talking about the Big Banana, the Big Pineapple, the Big Potato. They're beloved attractions. Along with the Big Prawn, the Big Merino and um, the Great Barrier Reef! So, I've decided that it must be in my DNA to make comically large stuff, including food. (I was actually going to say its in my DNA to blow things up, but being of Irish descent, that would mean something entirely different!)


When I started to think about blogging something for Oz Day this year, I loved the Giant Lamington idea but I wondered what other Aussie delights would go with it?  I had plenty of ideas, which you'll agree with me was hilarious when I tell you this story.

When I was in about year 8, I took Home Science at school. No idea what they call it or teach now, but in those days it was straight up cooking with some sort of life lesson thrown in. Anyway, around Australia Day, we had to make up and bring in something which represented an Australian national dish, with much debate going on as to whether we actually had a national dish or not.

Now, you won't believe this, but I wasn't exactly the diligent, studious type at school and the night before it was due, I still hadn't shopped for the dish, cooked it or written up my essay on why it was so Aussie. So, and I swear this is a true story - I made a muffin mix and threw in some dried fruit that my Mum had in the cupboard left over from the Christmas pudding. Then I wrote a (probably long and ranting) diatribe on how the dried fruit comes together to make a better, delicious dish, just like how the many cultures in Australia come together!

Good Lord!!

Flag and sunnies from Woolies, windmill and heart cake toppers from Hot Dollar.

Not only did I get away with these shenanigans, I got the top mark in the class and, as the leftovers were donated to the teacher's lunchroom, I had people telling me all day how much they loved the muffins! The take away from this story is that my powers of BS were obviously developed early - and accordingly, I was destined to join the legal profession. And/or start blogging!

Anyway, you'll be glad to notice that my view of the Aussie national dish has improved greatly since I was 13 and this morning tea looks so much better than a dried fruit muffin! So, let me explain why this is a true blue Australia Day celebration.

First, you simply cannot go past a pie and sauce to celebrate Australia Day. If you hate pies you are un-Australian. Why? Because Warnie loved a pie when he was the real Warnie, and he's a Top Aussie. No further explanation necessary. And to be a really Top Aussie, you have a have a Pie and Sauce Tower made out of frozen pies and tomato sauce out of a bottle. You just do!

Secondly, you just did not have a real Aussie childhood if you didn't have Honey Joys and Fairy Bread, especially at your school friends parties' or the school fete. Actually, come to think of it, that's the only time we had them! So, as a throwback to our dinky di childhoods, you have to have some on Australia Day.

Honey Joys are incredibly easy to make - and therefore they are Top Aussies. The Kelloggs recipe is here, and they are amazing just by themselves. However, I also made some with dried cranberries and almonds because um, this represents how as Australians, we are extremely cosmopolitan and open to trying new things. I know, I just can't stay away from the dried fruit and nuts!

Honey Joys are Top Aussies by themselves, but add in some dried fruit and nuts and they become super Top Aussies!
Even easier to make and tops fun is Fairy Bread. I've made this one green and gold and call it Wattle Fairy Bread. Because it looks like wattle and I like to think there is such a thing as a Wattle Fairy that eats bread, butter and sprinkles! There is nothing bad about fairy bread, it's fun to make and eat and when you press it into your face, you get a hundreds and thousands tattoo on your cheek! Told you it was a Top Aussie.

So, what are your thoughts on Australia's national dish? What do you plan to have on Australia Day? Something comically massive or some dried fruit muffins?! Tell me below or comment at P11's Facebook Page here.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Being Aussie is Tops with a Giant Lamington Cake

This weekend it's Australia Day, where we all sit around and think about how tops Australia is. Because it is. And when we all enjoy eating fair dinkum Aussie food - mainly because we eat almost every other country's food every other day of the year!

So tomorrow I'll be sharing an Aussie morning tea with you all, but I thought I'd help you get really organised and share what will be the centrepiece of the whole shenanigans now - a Giant Lamington Cake.

When I first had the idea for this cake, I thought it would be really easy - 10 minutes max. Of course, that didn't happen. But I promise it wasn't much longer and, since you'll have the benefit of my experience, you'll nix it in no time if you want to try it out. Let me tell you how it's done.

I started with a ready made, two layer, sponge cake from Woolies. This one in fact. You could of course make your own sponge or butter cake - just don't tell me, you'll make me feel bad!
Next, make the cream filling by whipping 1/2 cup thickened cream, 1 cup of icing sugar and a drizzle of vanilla extract with an electric mixer until soft peaks form.

Place one of the sponges on a plate and spread with strawberry jam or conserve, then the cream mixture. Here comes the benefit of that experience I was talking about - you'll want to leave about 1/2 cm around the edges for the filling to spread when you apply the top layer of the sponge. Also, before applying the top layer, place the lower layer of the cake with the jam and filling in the fridge for at least 5 minutes. This will also prevent the filling from spreading too much.

While the cake is in the fridge, make the chocolate icing mixture by beating 1 1/2 cups of icing sugar, 1 tablespoon of cocoa and 2 tablespoons of milk. I used my electric mixer here again, thinking I would get a thicker mixture which would be easier to apply to the sides. And I was right!


Remove the cake from the fridge and, working quickly, apply the top layer and spread the icing mixture over the cake with a knife. Now, here's where I went wrong. Can you see that there is a skin on the top layer of the sponge in the photo above? Yeah, well I should have removed it or turned the cake upside down. Should have. It wasn't a disaster, but it wasn't convenient. Use my experience again, upside down I tell you!

As you can see from the photo below, this is not where the cake was at it's prettiest. The icing is pretty runny, but not unmanageable. All you need to do is scoop up any runoff and reapply it to fill up any holes that appear. Anyway, this is the way a real lamington is made, so if you want authenticity, you'll have to put up with a bit of unattractiveness.

And yes, this is a photo of the cake inside my fridge. It's just something I do when I'm decorating a cake to get another perspective on it. You can go a bit cross eyed when icing for the fifth hour! Usually they look a bit better than this one though.

After applying the icing, place the cake back into the fridge for 2-3 more minutes to set the icing a little bit. Remove the cake and fix any bare spots that have appeared. Then, cover the whole thing in dessicated coconut. You'll need about 2 cups to make sure it's all covered. The sides are a bit tricky, but I found that holding a handful of coconut at a 45 degree angle to the cake and sprinkling it through your fingers worked best. Ok yes, you are basically throwing coconut at the cake, but it works!!

And voila - or to use an Aussie phrase - Strewth! A giant lamington cake. In my humble opinion, another reason why being Aussie is tops!