On most days my house is a hive of activity. There's a steady stream of family and friends that regularly cross my threshold, not to mention the three men I live with and cook for on a daily basis. There's Hubby, the American and the Little Man, all of whom have different tastes, schedules and appetites. Here's how I stopped being a short order cook and turned my fridge into an open all hours self serve buffet.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Banana Caramel Choc-Chip Cake with Brown Butter Frosting

Banana Cake

125g (4.5oz) butter, softened
3/4 (175g/6oz) cup brown sugar firmly packed
2 eggs
1 cup mashed banana
1 1/2 (260g/9.2oz) cups cake flour
(you can substitute all purpose flour)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
3/4 cup sour cream
1 cup (170g/6oz) chocolate chips

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in eggs, one at a time, until combined.  Stir in banana.  Stir in half the sifted dry ingredients with half the sour cream then stir in remaining dry ingredients and sour cream, stir until smooth.  Mix in chocolate chips.

Spoon mixture into mason jars until jars are about 1/3 to 1/2 full.  Pour about an inch of boiling water into the crockpot and put in the mason jars.  Cook on high for an hour.  The cakes should feel firm and set.

Banana Cake

Brown Butter Frosting

80g unsalted butter
400g icing sugar mixture (confectioner's sugar)
3 - 5 tbspn thick cream
1spn vanilla extract
pinch salt

In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium-high heat until nut-brown in color, watch it like a hawk, when you start smelling deliciousness it's done, burnt butter is easy to do and totally unusable for this purpose. 

Step by Step Brown Butter

Step by Step Brown Butter
The butter will start to bubble...

Step by Step Brown Butter
As it bubbles it will begin to clarify, and become clear....

Step by Step Brown Butter
Then it will start to foam, and you can see the butter starting to brown at the edges....

Step by Step Brown Butter
As you swirl the butter around you can see it is perfectly clear and a rich golden colour.

Remove pan from heat and pour butter into a bowl, leaving any burned sediment behind.  I like to do this twice by pouring from the saucepan to a jug, then from the jug to the bowl.  Allow to cool at room temperature until it firms up again.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add confectioners' sugar, vanilla and butter.  Beat until light and fluffy.  Add cream until you have the desired consistency.

Decorate with frosting as desired.  I'm generally not a fan of cupcakes that have a high tower of frosting.  Frosting is essentially pure sugar, exceptionally sweet, to me a cake should have enough to compliment it, not drown it.  Also, I wanted this to fit in the jar with the lid on for transportation.  Sprinkle with grated dark chocolate.

Banana Cake

The verdict?  Cooking cakes in the crockpot in this way gives a beautifully moist, soft texture, no dried out edges or corners.  All three men were hanging around waiting for me to finish taking photos so they could dig in.  A big hit with all three. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Baked Rice Pudding

Rice Pudding

2 eggs
1/4 cup caster sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup (250ml) low fat (2%) milk
1/2 cup (125ml) of pouring cream
4 tablespoons of sultanas (raisins)
1 cup cold, cooked, white medium-grain rice
cinnamon sugar

Whisk eggs, sugar and vanilla in a medium bowl until combined.  Whisk in milk and cream.  Put 1/4 cup rice in each jar and top with a tablespoon of sultanas.  Pour the egg mixture into each jar, dividing it equally.  Using a fork, stir each jar to break up the rice and mix it thoroughly into the egg mixture.

Jars in Crockpot

Place the filled jars in the ceramic insert of the crockpot and add enough boiling water into the insert to come halfway up the sides of the jars.  Place the lid on the crockpot and cook on high for 90 minutes, at which point they should be set.  Remove from crockpot and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.


You can see the heat from the pudding is melting the sugar and dispersing the cinammon.  The smell is amazing!  You can dig in straight away if you like your rice pudding warm, or let them cool on the bench until room temperature before storing in the fridge.

Rice Pudding

Our tester verdicts?  Hubby loved them, would have eaten them all if left unsupervised, licked the jars clean, shed a tear when the last one was gone.  The American said "If I actually liked rice pudding this would be the king of rice puddings.  It was much better than I've ever had before, but it's still rice pudding."  The little man thought they were great, which IS great, because as far as desserts go this one is actually not too bad for you.

Cookies & Cream Cheesecake

Oreo Cheesecake

3 packets Oreo cookies
40g margarine

375g cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 tspn vanilla
1 cup (250ml) cream
3 tsp gelatine, dissolved in 1/4 cup boiling water
200g white chocolate, melted and cooled slightly

Open one pack of Oreos, put 8 cookies aside for decoration later, put the remainder plus one full packet in a  food processor and whizz them up until you have fine crumbs.  Add the melted margarine and pulse a few times to distribute evenly through the crumbs.  Put two tablespoons of crumb mixture into 8 half pint mason jars, tapping down lightly with a spoon.

Oreo Crumb Crust

Usually a crumb crust in a cheesecake has a lot more added butter so that the crumbs form a firm crust, but in a jar too much butter would only create a crust that would be difficult to scoop up from the bottom of the jar.  Likewise I use margarine as that doesn't set hard in the fridge like butter.  Keep this in mind if adapting your own recipes and halve the margarine or butter.

Cheesecake Mixture

Beat the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla with an electric mixer until smooth, then beat in the cream.  It should be completely smooth.  Stir through the gelatine and white chocolate.  Roughly chop the second packet of cookies and stir through the filling and pour into the mason jars.  Decorate with the 8 oreos you put aside earlier. Put in the fridge for 3 hours to set.

Oreo Cheesecake

The full recipe when made into a slice is cut into 16 serves, which means that each jar is a double serving.  About half the people who have tried this manage to eat it all in one sitting, the rest get through it in two sittings.

Oreo Cheesecake

The American loved these, but then he believes that Oreo cookies are the pinnacle of world cuisine.  He took one to work and let his co-workers have a nibble, and it was such a big hit I had to make a second batch for them!

Oreo Cheesecake