Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valentines Day - Spreading the Love!

I have had a ball baking for Valentines day. Our February cooking challenge on Violet's Pantry was on the theme of LOVE, so I have been busy hunting through recipe books for ideas on what to make. This is one of the things I love about cooking, trolling through all my books and magazines to get inspiration, planning what to make and then getting through it all. And then I go into overdrive thinking about how I will photograph the food for my blog!!!! I have to say I get quite engrossed in the whole process and get a great deal of satisfaction from the creative outlet that it has become.
I decided this year that I really wanted to spread the love and share what I had made, besides, there is no way in the world I wanted that amount of baking hanging around my house! So I made up little plates of goodies to give away and also had friends and my mother around for coffee in the evening for a proper sugar rush! This will end up being another photo essay I think as I took lots. There will be the odd recipe too though!
I made Hevz's trusty brownies, this time adding white chocolate chunks, cutting them into hearts and serving them with raspberry sauce
I also made some more lemon curd, the recipe is on this post -

The lemon curd was to fill tartlet cases, an idea I got from this months Taste magazine. Their idea was to put raspberry and lemon curd in the pastry case and marble the two, I decided that making wee hearts in the middle might work and I was pretty happy with the result. For the raspberry curd I just substituted raspberry puree (approx 300g yields enough puree) for the passionfruit pulp in the original recipe and it worked really well. This is the first time I have made raspberry curd, you just whizz up the raspberries in the food processor with a squeeze of lemon juice, then push it all through a sieve to get rid of the seeds. I use to hate this part of the process, fortunately my son has taken to it, so does it happily for me which is fabulous! Plus I bought a great new fine sieve that is much bigger than what I used to have, making it alot less laborious.

Next up was the Rosewater Meringues. These were simply a basic meringue recipe (2 egg whites, 1/2c caster sugar, 2 tsp rosewater. Beat egg whites to soft peaks then slowly add in caster sugar and beat until thick and glossy. Lastly add rosewater and mix through. At this point I halved the mix, adding red food colouring to one half for a lovely soft pink meringue. Rex got to lick the bowl after his hard work with the raspberries!

I popped the mix into a piping bag and piped the meringue in heart shapes onto a baking paper lined tray and then baked them for 1 1/2 hours at 115C. They came out lovely and crisp, but I was disappointed that the pink colour didn't quite hold as they got a little browning in my very temperamental oven! Not to worry, I planned on smothering them in cream, raspberry sauce and chocolate so they ended up looking (and tasting) fine. My husband has proclaimed that I am never to leave the rosewater out again, the addition of it gave them a gorgeous flavour!

My last item for the day was a Blackberry cake. I also found this in the latest Taste magazine. I bought some lovely heart shaped cake cases when I was in Wellington and this cake looked perfect for them. This is a lovely buttery cake that was very straightforward to make.
Blackberry Cake


125g unsalted butter, cubed then softened
125g caster
tsp vanilla extract
3 medium eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten together
200g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 Tbsp milk
2 punnets blackberries (I used frozen)
cinnamon sugar (mix 1 Tbsp caster sugar and ¼ tsp ground cinnamon)
icing sugar


Put butter in a bowl and beat with an electric beater until soft and loose, then beat in the sugar and continue beating until creamed.
Blend in vanilla extract, then beat in the egg a little at a time, adding 1-2 Tbsp of the measured flour about halfway through beating.
Sift the flour and baking powder together and mix it into the creamed mixture, a quarter at a time, adding the milk as you go to keep things light.
Transfer mixture to a 23cm round cake tin lined with baking paper, and smooth the top.
Press blackberries into the cake batter then sprinkle the top with cinnamon sugar.
Bake in an oven preheated to 180°C (use regular not fanbake) for 50 minutes, until golden brown.
Cool in the tin for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a plate. Serve warmish dusted with icing sugar.

From Taste magazine, February 2007


Anonymous said...

Your Valentines "sugar fix" was great Linda. When's the next challenge? Can't wait. Averil.

Anonymous said...

Wow Linda. You are so creative and artistic. Your photos just make me want to dive into the screen and eat them right away.

George :)

Patsyk said...

Everything looks so tastey and perfect for Valentine's Day!

I just found your blog today, and I share your same love of figuring out what to make, reading cookbooks and figuring out what to do with whatever ingredients I have on had. I'll be coming back again soon!

vonsachsen said...

Wow, wow, wow! You have been really busy! I love the lemon curd tartlets and the hearts look very professional on them :) very cute. Í have also used rose water in Nigella´s Pomegranate Pavlova, but couldn´t really taste the rose flavor:( She only uses 1 tbs to 8 eggwhites, so next time I´ll follow your measurements.

Anna's kitchen table said...

Wow! You have been really busy, I'm VERY impressed!

hungryandfrozen said...

Oh My Gosh! Look at all those goodies. I think you should be a food photographer or stylist for some posh food magazine...Everything looks gorgeous! I bet you guys had a ball devouring it all. XO