Carrot cake: the cake of carrots (that isn’t gross)

Whilst the fundamental concept of carrot cake is, well, a little weird, it’s actually a delicious cake. And a home made one even more so. It doesn’t taste like carrots. You can’t even see the carrots. It’s not a carrot surprise (thanks for that one, Dad). It’s just nutmeggy, sort of sweet, non-dry and altogether delicious.

For one super fantastic cake (I made mine in a loaf tin, but I think you could get around 12 muffins out of this, too) you will need:
– 1/2 cup of butter, softened
– 2 eggs
– 1 cup-worth of finely shredded carrot (I used 2 big-ish carrots)
– 1/2 cup walnuts (toasted in a dry pan) (optional!)
– 1/2 cup sultanas (optional!)
– 1/2 cup brown sugar
– 1 cup self-raising flour
– 1/2 teaspoon bi-carb
– pinch of salt
– nutmeg
– cinnamon

For the super epic cream cheese frosting, you will need:
– 180g cream cheese
– 4 tablespoons icing sugar
– about 1 tablespoon of butter, softened
– 2-3 of tablespoons of lemon juice

Step 1 – it’s cake time: heat your oven up to 180 degrees celsius. In a bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light and airy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. At this point, add your other cake-related ingredients. I’m quite bullish on nutmeg and cinnamon so I literally added about 2 teaspoons of cinnamon and half a fresh nutmeg; add less if you’re less of a fan (and therefore less awesome). Pour into a greased pan and bake for about 40-50 mins (if it’s in a cake tin), prob about half that time if they are muffins.

Step 2 – filla: mix together all of the frosting ingredients in a beating-fashion. When the cake is cool, cut it in half and spread the frosting in between the two halves. Bloody good.

Carrot cake. A cake of carrots.

Carrot cake. A cake of carrots.

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Christmas delights – rum balls and cherry & walnut shortbread

I reckon I’ve well and truly missed the boat on this article being useful for Christmas festivities this year, what with my delay in blogging being caused by the grand and outrageous excitements of celebrating the holiday with my retirement-aged parents and all (hi guys!).

Nevertheless, in the interests of next Christmas, Australia day, Easter – hell, do you really need an excuse to eat something delicious? What’s with rum balls being restricted to Christmas anyway? I say Easter has as much right to be fueled by rum as that drunkard Saint Nick.

But, as always, I digress. Onwards and upwards to the main point of this article: two deliciously festive treats that are sure to please the crowds – rummy rum balls and an old favourite from my youth, cherry and walnut shortbread.

Rum balls
I may have just been plain gratuitous with the amount of rum used in these. I always appreciate a good chug of the stuff so feel free to use less if you’re less of a raging alcoholic! You can double the recipe (as I did) in order to bribe / suck up to family, friends and various in-laws. When I doubled the recipe, I think I probably got about 70-80 rum balls.

You will need (for the original quantity…which would probably yield you around about 30-40):
– 250g plain sweet biscuits. For those playing in Australia, I used those arrowroot biscuits
– 4 tablespoons of cocoa powder
– 2/3 a cup of dessicated coconut (plus extra for dusting)
– 1 can of sweetened condensed milk. Nestle makes a can that’s around about 400grams? 395 to be anal retentively precise
– rum. Here is the part where you use as much as you like. I used around about 6 tablespoons
– 3/4 cup of sultanas

Step 1 – juicy lucy: The sultanas are optional, but I think they add a nice juiciness to the rum balls. I started off by putting my rum balls in a little bowl and filling with rum up to the top of the sultanas. I left them overnight (but I don’t think it’s really that critical – leaving them for a while just means that they get all rummy and soaky and juicy and altogether delicious). If you don’t want to add sultanas, then just add the rum at step 2.

Step 2 – grinders: place your biscuits in a blender and grind ‘er up. Grind into a fairly fine powder. If you don’t have a blender, or if you are having frustration issues, you can just put the biscuits in a bag and bash the sh*t out of them! Pour into a bowl and add the cocoa powder, the 2/3 cup of dessicated coconut, the condensed milk and the rummy sultanas. Like a true alcoholic, I actually added another glug of rum at this point. But, again, that’s just gratuitous. Mix the lot together – don’t be shy, really get your hands in there.

Step 3 – roly poly: now comes the fun part – formation. You can make these rum balls as big or small as you like. I went for about a tablespoon for each, so it’s a nice mouthful-of-a-bite. A good tip is just to wet your hands a little, so that the mixture doesn’t stick to them and get all gluggy. Form into a ball and then roll in extra dessicated coconut if you like. Refrigerate to firm up and enjoy!

Eat up!

Eat up!

Shortbread
There’s this major bakery in Australia called Brumby’s. They’ve been around for years and as a kid, once or twice a year, I was treated to a cherry and walnut shortbread biscuit. It was basically the time of my life, every six months, when I would bite into this delicious morsel. I now realise that Brumby’s makes pretty average shortbread, but back then, it was awesome. In a moment of nostalgia, I decided to recreate these little morsels…but with a (hopefully) more delicious and buttery shortbread. Here goes…

Again, I doubled the recipe for the bribery reasons above and yielded a mountain of about 50 biscuits, but the below will give you around about 25-30.

You will need:
– 250g unsalted butter, softened
– 3/4 cup icing mixture (in this case, the combination of icing sugar and corn flour is a good thing!)
– 2 cups of flour
– a pinch of salt
– 2/3 cup of walnuts, dry toasted in a pan. I chopped my walnut pieces in smaller bits (like, 1 square cm)
– 2/3 cup glace cherries (with the cherries and walnuts, add as much or as little as you like)

Step 1 – just beat it: Beat your butter and icing mixture until paler and creamier-looking. This might be a choice time to crack out that electronic mixer, unless you’re building up your biceps. Then mix in the flour and salt – it’s a good idea to turn it out onto a board and give it a light knead. Once this is all combined, relatively gently fold in the walnuts and cherries so they don’t smoosh about too much. Roll your mixture into a log shape, with the diameter being however big you want your cookies – I went for about 5cm across. Wrap in cling wrap and refrigerate until firm.

Step 2 – cookie cutter: Preheat your oven to about 150 degrees celcius fan forced. Unwrap your shortbread log and slice at the thickness of however thick you want your cookies. I went for about 1cm thick. Bake for about 15-20 minutes. You want them to not be coloured golden, and be relatively firm (but know that they’ll firm up some more when cooling). Let cool and enjoy!

Your ticket to heart attack station

Your ticket to heart attack station