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Brownie Pudding Biscuits

Not quite a Brownie. Not quite chocolate pudding. These chocolatey biscuits bridge the gap between the fudgy wonder of chocolate desserts and the portable dunk-ability of biscuits.

I based them on a chocolate slice I enjoy containing sweetened condensed milk. It gives them a chewiness and richness that replicates the texture of a brownie. I wanted this in a biscuit because I always make such a mess of cutting slices, but mostly because there is something a little more refined about a biscuit. Make no mistake however, while biscuits generally may be refined – these biscuits taste like Grace Kelly back-up dancing in a Beyonce video.

Alrighty. Now I’ve built them up, here they are…

Brownie Pudding Biscuits
Makes 24


1 ¼ cup self-raising flour
½ cup desiccated coconut
½ cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
125g melted butter
200g sweetened condensed milk
150 mixed chocolate buttons

1. Pre-heat oven to 180°C.
2. Add all ingredients except chocolate buttons together in a bowl and mix until incorporated.
3. Stir through chocolate buttons.
4. Roll heaped teaspoons full of mixture into balls and place on baking paper-lined oven trays.
5. Bake for 10 minutes. Allow biscuits to cool slightly before moving (they’ll be too molten), then transfer to cool completely on wire racks.


Pancakes with Poached Pear, Hazelnuts, Chocolate Spread and Bourbon-Infused Maple Syrup

Serves 2

As we all know, the weekends can be glorious. For me, weekend brunch in particular. On a Sunday morning, I love nothing more than idling over a plate of something hot and satisfying with coffee and newspaper in hand.

When I came across this breakfast idea, I could have sworn I heard angels singing. The soft pear, crunchy hazelnuts, smokey-sweet syrup and fudgy chocolate spread just make perfect sense. It’s re-imagined from a dish I saw in an article by the Herald Sun titled Melbourne’s Best Breakfasts. I suspect it looks a bit much, but the elements don’t take as long as you might think, because most things cook simultaneously.

noble one-400x400

Image via Gourmet Grocer Online

The bourbon-infused syrup is a bit of a cheat. I found the Noble brand of maple syrup at my local providore. It’s aged in bourbon barrels, and can really up the ante on your breakfast fun. Here’s a link to buy in via Gourmet Grocer Online, if you’re interested – otherwise you can use any other good quality syrup you like.




Poached Pears
2 ripe pears
1 cup caster sugar
1 litre boiled water
1 vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup self-raising flour
1 cup full-cream milk
1 egg
Butter for greasing

1/3 cup hazelnuts
2 tablespoons Nutella (1 each)
Noble bourbon-infused maple-syrup, or similar maple syrup to taste


1. Set the kettle going and then peel your pears, leaving them whole.
2. Mix recently-boiled water, sugar and scraped vanilla bean in a small saucepan and place on a medium heat. Wait until the sugar is dissolved, then add your pears. If the pears aren’t quite covered, add a bit more water and sugar. Simmer gently for 30 mins.
3. Mix ingredients for your pancakes together. Set aside.
4. Toast your hazelnuts in a dry frying plan on medium heat for a few minutes till golden (be sure to keep an eye on them, as they toast quick). Remove them from the pan and set aside to cool.
5. Place the frying plan on medium heat. When hot, grease the flying pan and start cooking your pancakes (2-3 mins per side).
6. Once your pancakes are done, top with the poached pear, syrup and hazelnuts. Spoon out Nutella on the side.

Winter is Coming…

Today I plucked the first apple off our apple tree, heralding the first days of Autumn and the slow slide into Winter. If you’ve noticed, the days are getting shorter and the mornings are acquiring a grey, gloomy edge that tends to provoke melancholy.

But there can be something delicious about melancholy right? You can wallow in it; soak in it till your fingers get pruney. I want to enjoy the cold this year. I’ve found myself stockpiling all my favourite wintry things, as if I were a chipmunk or bear. I suppose this time of year has traditionally been a time of preparation though – but was once about avoiding freezing to death or starving, is now about hot chocolate and fluffy socks 🙂

How do you prepare for the cold? Some people attend Bikram Yoga or buy themselves wool scarves. Some people plan holidays or welcome the influx of hot cross buns. A quick survey among friends revealed a predilection for hot drinks, rain on rooftops and hiding under blankets.

With that in mind, I thought I’d document some things I’m earmarking,


Names and Links:

  1. Rolling Siraz,
  2. Bright Orange Cardigan,
  3. Home Made Scrub,
  4. Lamb Pyjamas,
  5. Purple Channel Lipstick,
  6. Useful by Debra Oswald,
  7. T2 Teapot,
  8. Ugg Boots,
  9. Slow cooker (This one is Sunbeam). You can get them just about anywhere!

A New Culinary Adversary? If The Choux Fits

I have a new culinary nemesis. As you might have gathered, it’s Choux pastry.

On the last visit to my family home in Warrnambool, my mother (a cook) offered to demonstrate Choux. I was pretty pleased. It’s ended the “food dream” of many a fresh-faced Masterchef Australia contestant. It’s fiddly and requires some serious elbow grease, but useful for so many things in pastry-making.

It’s essentially a matter of melting together butter, water and milk, then adding flour to make a roux. When the mix is cooleds somewhat, you add eggs and stir like a woman possessed. When baked, the moisture in the mixture expands as it evaporates, thus creating the hollow inside which is used to create a whole family of pastries, including eclairs, croquembouche and gougères. The process sounds simple. My mother made it look simple. With her supervision it was simple. At home on my own… not so god-damn simple.

Two batches and a minor melt-down later, I am licking my wounds and swearing vengeance. I do not like to be beaten by a recipe. I take it personally. How dare this uppity piece of puff!

I used a recipe for Gougères in The Little Paris Kitchen by Rachel Khoo. It’s a good book. A joy to cook from. I obviously just missed something. The first batch rose somewhat, but not enough to create a hollow. The second batch didn’t even get as far as the oven. Once the flour was added, the mixture looked like something Spiderman would shoot out his wrist. No roux was formed, just white glue. I can’t figure it out. I measured. I cooked-out. I stirred like a whirling dervish. Darn it to hell! Let it be known – this ain’t over. Not till I’m eating sweet, sweet pastry.

Fresh Stuff at the Little Bird Cafe

The site of the old Bibo Cafe in Ballarat has been given a fresh beginning with the launch of the Little Bird Cafe. Since opening in Dec 2014, the co-owners Jill Bingham and Susan Anderson have brightened the space with a lighter, airer colour scheme, while retaining much of it’s prior retro charm.

The menu is brief, but includes some interesting highlights. My lunch sitting comprised of a tasty Bahn Mai pork belly roll with a generous amount of fresh herbs and a sharp, sweet chilli sauce. The pork was very rich, however the salad cut through most of that.

Naturally my husband and I couldn’t leave without trying the Mac and Cheese Croquettes. They were, as one would hope – light and cheesy with a crunchy crumb. Gooey in the middle. I could definitely order a large plate of them… and scoff them by myself… on the couch… in my pajamas.

LBirdTableThe breakfast menu looks promising too, with house-made sweet and savoury crumpets. If you haven’t had a fresh crumpet before, you really don’t what you’re missing. They’re a whole other beast. A treat I will not be forgoing, now I know where I can get them.

Book Appreciation a’ la Français

How to be Parisian: Wherever You are

I first came across this little posie of a book in a little giftshop in Daylesford. It’s authors, who are all accomplished French authors/editors/producers/fashionistas have created a lovely little world to dip into whenever you want to imagine a more stylish or impossibly cool version of yourself.

The advice they’ve interwoven with little stories and lists, seems driven from a desire to appreciate the Parisian woman with her neurosis as well as style. It’s refreshing given that most written accounts of Parisian or French women paint an impervious ideal – a woman who simply wakes up with perfect hair and a wardrobe full of cashmere. This book mentions more of the internal dialogues we are all so familiar with, while still celebrating the insouciance we’ve come to admire.

So if you’re as obsessed with style a’ la Français as I am, this book is a delight. Since buying it, I’ve been spotting it everywhere, so no doubt you could find it at your local bookstore. You can also buy it online. Here is a link to the book on Readings:

French Women Don’t Get Fat – A Retrospective

FrenchWomenDon'tGetFatHere is a scary fact for you – it has been over eleven years since the original publication of French Women Don’t Get Fat in Australia. When published in 2005, the book heralded a new wave of French lifestyle advice that dominated so much of women’s literature. Even now, we can still hear its echo. I have often since mused on the subject of French dining habits and sought to apply their reputed habits to my own way of living.

I was 23 when I first picked up my copy in a burst of youthful enthusiasm. If you’re previously unaware, the book advocated a joyful appreciation of food and asked us to see the cheap, tasteless slop we often consume for what it is. As someone who blew far too much of her meager pay cheque on cheese and artisanal bread, this idea made perfect sense. There was of course a hitch… portion control.

From what I could gather at the time, there was an assertion that if the food we ate was of a higher quality, we would be more satisfied and therefore less inclined to overeat. Looking back now, I see references to portion control and even more so now on the French Women Don’t Get Fat website, but somehow the suggestion that portion control might take anything less than stony determination, seems to me like being lead down the garden potager.

The problem with me is when I find something wonderful, I simply want more of it. It makes perfect sense doesn’t it?! Here is something delicious that has my happy chemicals firing – why wouldn’t I want to keep that feeling going? Why wouldn’t I want that feeling again tomorrow? I might sound like a compulsive person saying this, but aren’t we all in the same boat here? Two biscuits instead of one… Three Netflix episodes instead of two. It’s a challenge we all face. Some are simply better at saying no than others.

I think the challenge for myself (and I therefore presume some others) is to self-impose limits without tying it to feelings of self-reproach or shame. If I’m going to say no to another perfectly decadent slice of chocolate cake, it needs to come from a place of love… because I love myself and cake. I can assume any French women would say the same thing.