Chocolate Nutella Cookie sandwich

choc nutella sandwiches

Happy 2016.

The original of this was in a Donna Hay magazine as a “brownie cookie with peanut butter frosting.” I thought this option lacked chocolate. I’ll give you the peanut frosting option, but I subbed in a Nutella cream. Be thankful that I separated the chocolate measures for you in the biscuit. I chucked all the chocolate in at the outset here because braindead, so they’ll look a bit darker than yours. These got a big thumbs up from the punters.

200g + 150 g chopped dark chocolate

40g unsalted butter

2 eggs

150g caster sugar (2/3 cup)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

35g plain flour, sifted (1/4 cup)

1/4 teaspoon baking powder, sifted

Nutella cream

3 large spoonfuls of Nutella

1/2 cup cream (adjust to taste. If you make it too runny, serve the cookie sandwiches in a bowl with ice-cream).


Peanut butter frosting

160g icing sugar (1 cup)

280g smooth peanut butter (1 cup)

80g unsalted butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

80 ml pouring cream (1/3 cup)

Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius

Place 200g of the chocolate (see how I helped you out there in the ingredient list?) and butter in small saucepan over low heat or in microwave (short bursts). Stir til melted and set aside. Place eggs, sugar and vanilla in mixer bowl and beat for 15 minutes – pale and creamy. Stir through flour, baking powder, melted chocolate and chunk chocolate. Let sit for 10 minutes to firm up. Spoon tablespoonfuls not tray lined with baking paper. Bake for 8-10 minutes  – puffed and cracked. Cool completely on the tray.

Combine Nutella with cream to desired consistency. (Or ganache)


Place sugar, PB, butter and vanilla in mixer and beat for 6 minutes until light and fluffy. Add cream and beat ’til combined.

Sandwich cookies with either Nutella cream or peanut frosting.





Cupcake frenzy

three cupcakes

So I have promised frosting and icing recipes.

Classic Aussie Icing (up the back)

Play with the quantities to taste/thickness desired. I’ve used the version from the PWMU cookbook (an Aussie classic) because I usually make it up as I go along.

2 cups/360g icing sugar (gluten free icing needs to be pure icing sugar. Icing mixture is easier to sift but contains gluten)

2-3 tablespoons butter, melt in microwave.

(3 teaspoons cocoa for chocolate/ drops of food colouring for plain)

Roughly 2 1/2 tablespoons (50ml) boiling water.

Sift the sugar (cocoa?). Add the melted butter. (Add drops of chosen colour. Be careful. Artificial colourings only need a drop or two.) Stir through. Add boiling water very carefully. This goes from thick to overly liquid very quickly. If it sets before you’ve used it, warm it gently.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting    (Or Nutella Frosting or Ganache)

My favourite is this Cupcake Central one. It is much richer than the NY Magnolia Bakery version pictured below.

250g unsalted butter (room temp)

6-8 cups icing sugar mixture (gluten version – pure if GF)

1/2 cup milk

2 teaspoons vanilla

pinch salt

60g or 1/2 cup good cocoa

200g dark chocolate callets. Quality counts.

Paddle attachment on mixer. Beat butter until white and fluffy. Add 5 cups of icing sugar and move the mixer speed from low to med/high gradually as you incorporate it (or you’ll look like a ghost). Add sifted cocoa, salt, vanilla, milk and beat until combined. Continue to add icing sugar until you like the texture/sweetness. Beat for 2 minutes until light and fluffy, scraping down sides at times.

Melt choc gently (double boiler or gentle, short bursts in microwave) Let it cool enough to prevent melting the whipped butter mix. Add and beat until thoroughly incorporated.


Lemon Meringue

I was cheeky and used Anathoth lemon curd which tastes pretty good for shop bought. It’s easy to find a recipe online and you can use up the yolks you’re about to waste. When you’re ready to go, cut out a well in the cupcakes, fill with lemon curd, then top with the Italian meringue. Optional – blowtorch the top quickly to brown it. Doesn’t taste too different.

Italian Meringue is a glorious thick, gooey and stable version of meringue and if you have a stand mixer, it is worth giving it a go if you’re a more experienced and safety-conscious cook. Otherwise stick to French meringue and keep your skin attached to your body.

Italian Meringue (Julia Child‘s recipe) NOT FOR BEGINNERS

4 large eggs (room temp)

pinch of salt

bigger pinch of cream of tartar (near the salt in the supermarket)

Sugar syrup (see below)*

Make sure your egg white handling equipment is totally clean, dry, grease-free. Water and fat will spoil the peaking of the whites. Crack eggs carefully into a glass, using the shell-halves to separate the white from the yolk. VIDEO (turn sound off).  If you break the yolk, you should abandon the egg and get a fresh glass (and have scrambled eggs for lunch). Yolk fat will ruin your egg whites. Tip the egg-white into the clean, dry mixing bowl. (Leave the yolks to one side for curd or whatever.) Do each egg, one-by-one, like this. It will save you if the last egg proves disastrous. It’s also easier to get egg shell chips out of the glass (with a spoon – no grease, remember) than it is the mixing bowl.

Add the salt and cream of tartar powders to the whites. (These help it hold peaks.) Using the whisk attachment (clean, dry, grease-free), whisk the eggs to soft peaks. Scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally once firming. If you’re using a hand whisk (and a copper bowl? Copper helps the eggs peak), sorry about the workout. Don’t bother going the Italian meringue version, if you’re working by hand. Add icing sugar as per French meringue.

CAREFULLY pour the bubbling sugar syrup slowly into the soft peak, beating, bowl of egg-whites. Keep your skin clear of this.  It will foam up substantially at this stage. Beat at high speed for at least 5 minutes (hence the “abandon all hope” for hand mixers, let alone the danger of the boiling sugar syrup).

*Sugar syrup (heavy pan, sugar thermometer) video

1  1/3 cups caster sugar

1/2 cup water

Moderately heavy-based pan. If it has a firm-fitting lid, steam on the lid will stop crystals forming on the sides.

Don’t start boiling the sugar syrup until all the sugar is totally dissolved in the water and it is “perfectly, limpidly clear.” (Thanks, Julia)

Once it is boiling, never stir it, but you can swish it around with the pan’s handle. Don’t let this stuff anywhere near your skin. Terrible burns would result.

So: melt the sugar on a low heat. Once totally dissolved, boil. Watch temperature of mix until it is 235-40 degrees F. You want a really viscous boil if you’re not using a thermometer. Test in iced water. If it’s not ready, it will just dissolve into your iced water. If it is at soft ball stage, it’ll clump. Leave for a few seconds to cool before trying to see if it makes a soft ball in your fingers. Avoid letting it colour: that would be making toffee.


Magnolia Bakery Chocolate Frosting (so pale – humph!) I will put this up at some stage. Once discerning young tester said you could really taste the Lindt chocolate in this recipe, more subtle than my usual “in your face” chocolate creations.

magnolia cupcakes choc




Vanilla Cupcakes


So it was 41 degrees and I decided that meant it was time to bake – and get out the blowtorch. Why not, right?

The recipe is better than the other two vanilla cupcakes that I posted recently. The Women’s Weekly one is pretty easy but these are better. Thanks to Cloie for pointing me back to the recipe. She made the blue-iced one below.

Cupcake Central‘s Vanilla Cupcake

163 degree celsius fan forced/173 degrees c elsius if no fan.

425g plain flour

20g cornflour*

320g caster sugar

30g baking powder

1.5 teaspoons salt

225g unsalted butter

240g eggs (roughly 4 jumbo)

1 cup milk

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

*(This turns around half of the plain flour into “cake flour” which the recipe gives as 240g v 205g plain. You can skip the corn flour and put the 20g back into plain. It makes the crumb marginally finer and the cake a little lighter.)

Leave wet ingredients to reach room temperature.

Preheat oven and line muffin tin with approx 30 cupcake papers.

Weigh and sift dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl.

Use paddle attachment on stand mixture. Place dry ingredient bowl on the stand. Add 2cm cubes of room temperature butter into the powders on low speed. Once all butter in, add eggs one at a time. (Beginners – from a cup or bowl, not cracked into the mix. This avoids shell chips in your cakes.) Add vanilla/milk gradually, not in a flood. Scrape down sides to make sure mixing thoroughly. Mix on high for 30 seconds. (Scrape and mix another 10 seconds if not smooth.) Fill cupcake papers to 2/3 full. Bake for approx 17 mins. Should bounce back to touch.

Italian meringue next post…

The picture below is plain flour only, no cornflour.





cupcake 1

Not chocolate but an important staple. These two recipes are good. The first is the old Woman’s Weekly special. Light and fluffy. The second is from the Magnolia Bakery in New York. It’s a slightly denser cupcake that can support a great wodge of buttercream frosting. The extra eggs and butter mean these both last better than other recipes.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius.

1  1/2 cups SR flour

2/3 cup castor sugar

125g  butter, softened

3 eggs

1/4 cup milk

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Sift dry ingredients into a small bowl. Add liquids. Beat on medium speed with hand mixer or stand mixer for a few minutes until creamy and pale.

Spoon into 12-24 cupcake cases in a muffin tin, depending on preferred size. 15-20 mins. Test if bounces back to touch or clean skewer. Lightly browned.


Magnolia vanilla cupcakes

1  1/2 US cups SR flour

1  1/4 US cups plain flour

126g butter (salted or unsalted to taste)

2 US cups sugar

4 large eggs

1 US cup milk

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius

Combine and sift flours. In an electric mixer cream butter until smooth. Gradually add sugar. Beat for 3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time. Beat well after each. Add flours, alternating with vanilla milk. Don’t overheat at this stage. Scrape down batter before final mix. Spoon into cupcake pans – around 24 in muffin tin. Bake for around 20 minutes until skewer comes out clean.

Icing options

cupcake 2

Chocolate Chip Muffins


This was originally a blueberry muffin from the famous Magnolia Bakery in New York, but who needs fruit when you can have chocolate chips, right? They’re best straight out of the oven. (If you use normal sugar, the cakes have a bit of a tang that goes well with fruit. With caster sugar, the buttermilk doesn’t intrude.) I use a set of American cups because their cup measurement is slightly light-on compared to the real world’s measures (JOKE). Teaspoons are the same (although tablespoons there are equivalent to three not four teaspoons).

Preheat oven to 180 degrees

3 US cups plain flour

3/4 US cup caster sugar (plus more for sprinkling)

1  1/2 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

1  1/2 US cups buttermilk

100g unsalted melted butter

1  1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1  1/2 US cups of choc chips (or blueberries)

Combine dry and sift ingredients. Make a well in the centre. Combine and whisk wet ingredients. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Gently stir to the minimum combined mix. Stir through the add ins. Scoop into 12 or so cupcake pans set in a muffin tin. (Optional brush with melted butter to help browning.) Sprinkle sugar over the top.

Bake for about 20 minutes. Moist crumbs should come out on the skewer when tested.


White Chocolate and Raspberry Muffins


Yeah. White chocolate isn’t really chocolate. I’m making an exception to my prejudice against the phoney stuff because these are good. It’s well worth chopping the white chocolate rather than using baking bits. It makes a substantial difference. This recipe comes from Donna Hay’s “New Classics.”

Preheat oven to 180 degrees

2 cups (300g) plain flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 cup (165g) caster sugar

1 cup sour cream

2 eggs

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon rind

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup (80ml) vegetable oil

1 1/4 cup (240g) frozen raspberries

1 cup (175g) white chocolate chopped

Powders sifted in one bowl. Wet ingredients and flavourings in another. Combine the liquids thoroughly. Stir the wet stuff through the dry gently until just combined. (The key to a good muffin is minimum stirring at this stage.) Stir through raspberries and chocolate. Spoon into muffin tins (lined with cupcake papers). If 12 muffins then 25-30 minutes in the oven. Ready when skewer comes out clean.

Sticky Toffee Pudding


Yup. It’s not chocolate. Seriously great recipe though so I hope you’ll forgive me. It is from “Delia Smith‘s Christmas.” The recommended variation I learnt from another recipe is that this becomes even better if you place the puddings under the griller, (repeatedly) basted with the caramel sauce. It develops a crispy toffee coating to the pudding and is a marked improvement to a delicious wintery treat.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius


75g butter

150g caster sugar

2 eggs, whisked together

175g self-raising flour

175 stoned dates (!), chopped fairly fine

175g boiling water

1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence

2 teaspoons coffee essence (you could probably make the water into coffee instead if that’s too hard)

3/4 teaspoon bicarb soda

Put the chopped dates into a bowl with the water, vanilla and coffee essence and the bicarb. Let steep. Cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until really light and fluffy. Add the eggs bit by bit, still mixing. Fold through the sifted flour. Fold in all the date mixture and liquid. It can be quite sloppy at this stage.

I cook them in individual moulds – about 8 x 1 cup size – they need to be well buttered and I’d advise putting baking paper on the base of the little tubs/moulds. The mix can get stuck and you lose part of your pudding. (Nooooo) Divide mixture equally between them. Place on a baking tray and bake for about 25 minutes.

Tip the puddings, after you’ve let them cool for at least 5 minutes, into a baking tin that more or less fits the 8, so the sauce can pool around them. I like to leave them until serving time coated in some sauce so it can soak in. This stage can be done earlier in the day. When it is time to serve, I heat them under the griller with more sauce spooned over them a few times. If your griller works quickly, you might like to reheat them more thoroughly with tinfoil covering them for a while before grilling the sauce.

Double the mix for the sauce. It’s too good to skimp.

175g brown sugar (the lighter one)

110g butter

6 tablespoons cream

(optional 25g pecans, chopped. Don’t let them sit on top of the puddings when grilling: they’ll burn.)

Melt the butter and sugar. I’d add a teaspoon or double of pure vanilla extract. Stir until the sugar melts, then stir through the cream.

Leftovers reheat very, very, very well…



So two recipes here. The first one is a richer version that was featured in “The Age” Epicure section from Cafe Sweetheart, back in the day. The second is from my beloved Grandmother, Garnie. Because I am usually cooking for a nut-free environment, I’m substituting other ingredients for nuts.

Cafe Sweetheart Hedgehog

2  1/4 packets Marie biscuits (sweet plain biscuits)

1 cup walnuts*

300g butter

3/4 cup cocoa

1  1/4 cup castor sugar

3 eggs


300g dark chocolate

75g vegetable oil

Melt butter. Add cocoa and sugar, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Allow to cool. Break up the biscuits in a large bowl until they’re in little chunks – approx a centimetre squared? Chop walnuts. Whisk the eggs and stir them through the cooled chocolate mixture. Stir that through the biscuits and nuts. Press into a fully lined slice tin.

Melt the chocolate and oil together. Microwave for 1 minute. Then stir gently with non-metal spoon. Heat for extra 20 second bursts until smooth. Pour over the slice. Allow to set.

*Nut free variant – I couldn’t be bothered opening up another pack of Marie biscuits, so I substituted the 1/4 pack of biscuits as well as the nuts with 200g crushed Maltesers. I thought I might try Chocolate Ripple biscuits next time. It’d be mighty richer.


Garnie’s Hedgehog

2 packets Marie biscuits (less a few)

125g butter

1 tablespoon cocoa (you what??)

110g sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 cup walnuts

Break biscuits into same sized chunks. Chop walnuts. Combine. Melt butter, cocoa nd sugar as above. Cool. Stir in vanilla and whisked egg. Stir chocolate mix through biscuits. Press into slice tin. Ice with the same icing as above. Or more traditionally, ice with old school icing.

2 cups sifted icing sugar (or more depending on required thickness of this layer)

1/4 cup sifted cocoa (or to taste)

1 heaped tablespoon melted butter.

Stir through. Add boiling water in tablespoon quantities until desired consistency is achieved.

Garnies hedgehog


Double Chocolate Brownies


I’ve been looking for a good raspberry brownie and I give this two very enthusiastic thumbs up. It’s one of Phillippa’s recipes from her “Home Baking” book.

200g unsalted or cultured butter

350g good dark chocolate

340g caster sugar

4 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 tablespoons water

190g self-raising flour

pinch of salt

150-200g white chocolate, cut into chunks

1 punnet raspberries

Preheat oven to 160 degrees celsius. Full line 30 x 20 cm tin (slice tin)

Melt butter and dark chocolate carefully together.* Remove and cool.

Stir through sugar, eggs, vanilla and water. Blend. Fold through flour and salt mixture. Stir through the white chocolate. Pour into the pan. Flatten the surface of the batter and sprinkle raspberries over the top. Bake for 40-45 minutes depending on oven. Keep a bit moist still in centre. Let it cool completely before cutting.