A sweetener to raise funds for the Philippines

Wellington Squares
Wellington Squares
Chocolate Caramel Sqaures with a coconut shortbread base

The nippers’ school are holding a cake sale in aid of disaster relief for the Philippines tomorrow. I’m sure this is a scene that will be repeated across the land tomrrow! This gives me an opportunity to make cakes and also eat them with a good conscience. I’m looking forward to doling out my hard earned cash on lots of goodies tomorrow morning. No doubt many other schools are doing similar. I made what we, in the Murphy Smith family, call Wellington Squares. Don’t ask me why. These are a speciality of my youngest uncle but I found a most amazing recipe online years ago and have been using this ever since. I can no longer find it online so I am going to share it here with you but on a condition.

I got an email from a friend during the week who is very proud of her niece who, completely unprompted, decided that she wanted to raise funds for the victims of the tornado in the Philippines. Off her own bat she investigated which charity she would like to send her funds to and chose the Red Cross. So she plans to do a 10km sponsored walk. Now she is a couple of months younger than Nipper 1.0 and I know he would find 5km challenging, never mind 10, so I’m very impressed.

What does this all have to do with my recipe you might wonder? Well what I would like you to do is this: if you think you might ever use this recipe, please sponsor my friend’s niece in her sponsored walk. Not only will you help the disaster stricken folk in the Philippines, you will make an aunty very proud and a young girl very chuffed! You will also be able, like I, to eat these calorie laden delights with a clearer conscience.

Wellington Squares
(Makes 32 squares of a smallish but perfect nature)
Base
125g butter
125g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
90g dessicated coconut
115g caster sugar

Filling
100g butter
100g brown sugar
397g tin condensed milk
2 tbsp golden sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Topping
200g dark chocolate or 100g each dark and milk chocolate
I usually make this the night before I need it as the base and filling must be cooled before adding the chocolate topping which must also be allowed to set.

Preheat the oven to 180degC/ Gas mark 4 and grease and line a 18 x 28 cm tin. I usually make this in a small roasting tin but I have also made them in a square brownie tin – they just end up deeper.
Melt the butter (I usually pop it in a pyrex bowl in the microwave for 30 second blasts)
Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl. Add coconut, sugar and melted butter and mix well together.
Press into your prepared tin and pop it in the oven for 10 – 12 minutes until a very light golden colour.
Take it out of the oven but leave the oven on for now.

Filling
Put butter, brown sugar, golden syrup and condensed milk in a thick bottomed saucepan over a low heat. Cook, stirring all the time, until butter has melted and sugar has dissolved.
Bring it to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and continue cooking for 5 minutes, stirring all the time. It will turn a light golden colour. No matter how very, very tempted you are do NOT taste this. You will burn the tongue off yourself!
Pour this over the cooked base and then return the lot to the oven and bake for a further 10 minutes. It will deepen in colour and bubble.
Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.
Once cooled start prepping the chocolate topping. Melt whichever chocolate you have chosen in a heat resistant bowl over a pot of boiling water. Spread over the filling and allow to cool before placing in the fridge to set.
I usually remove the whole slab from the pan and cut into squares. You can cut them really quite small as this is a very rich little treat.
Enjoy!

Hot in her (apple) leather

20131021-170853.jpg

I first read about apple leather on the Fox’s Lane blog a while ago (Northern vs Southern Hemisphere) and I just thought I have to try that. We have a very fruity apple tree but the apples get a bit spotty and aren’t all that appealing. Once peeled they are grand and we larrup them into crumbles with blackberries from the bottom-of-the-garden wilderness. We slosh them stewed onto delicious Irish pork chops and joints. We stir them semi-stewed into yoghurt. The apple leather has proven to be another hit and if I had an Aga or Stanley range I would make fruit leather 2 weekly. Apparently you can make it with any fruit that stews or purées to a thick consistency. As things stand it’s a bit of an indulgence that takes up the oven for a large chunk of time. The resulting leather is perfect for lunchboxes in a school where no sugar is allowed.

What you need:

  • Apples – the sweeter the better, it’ll save having to add honey or sugar
  • A large tray
  • Silicone baking paper (I’ve bought this in Lidl)
  • A day/ evening in
  1. Preheat oven to 75C/ 170F
  2. Line a large oven tray with your silicone paper. One recipe I read suggested using cling film as the oven doesn’t get that hot but I baulked at that idea. If you have a silicone mat now is it’s time to shine!
  3. Stew your apples with a few tablespoons of water or juice of a lemon
  4. Sugar or honey can be added to taste at this point. You could also add a spoonful of cinnamon
  5. Either transfer cooled apples to your blender or use your handheld blender to get a really smooth sauce.
  6. Spread the apple sauce as evenly as possible over the tray trying to avoid thinning edges as these will dehydrate too fast.
  7. Stick it in the oven for 6 – 8 hours. I switched mine off and went to bed and took it out the next day while we used the grill so it’s not a fussy process. You are drying it out, not baking it.
  8. When it is done it will no longer dent if you stick your finger in the middle.
  9. Peel silicone paper off and, using a scissors or sharp, cut into strips or any agape you like.
  10. Enjoy!

The Porridge that keeps on giving

Once Upon a time this was Porridge

Ah Pinterest – don’t you just love it? I was all set to uneasily send the leftover portion of porridge to the bin on Sunday when it occurred to me that surely someone in the world must have come up with a better solution than industrial composting for all this yummy leftover porridge. And lo! Pinterest had the answer which I share with you now from Soule Mama – muchos gracias!

Once Upon a time this was Porridge
Once Upon a time this was Porridge

Left over Porridge Muffins

  • 1 cup cooked oatmeal, 
  • 1 egg, 
  • 1 TBSP melted butter, 
  • 1/2 cup milk, 
  • 4 TBSP honey/sugar/maple syrup, 
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder, 
  • 1.5 cups flour, 
  • plus 1/2 cup ‘extra somethings’ – raisins, chocoloate chips, berries, etc. 

Bake at 400F/ 200C  for 20 minutes.

The resulting muffins were more scone-like than muffin like I felt. I tried to take care not to overstir, the biggest danger in muffin making, as it lengthens the gluten molecules, making the muffin more breadlike. A not unpleasant bun so, with a wholesome look. I’ve popped them into the freezer and will extract as required for school lunches on our particularly long Thursdays. It is possible also that my fairy cake sized cake pans were a little small for these cakes but I’m Irish – I make fairy cakes, not cupcakes and not muffins. The addition of some cinnamon, mixed spice or grated apple/ apple streusel might do this recipe no harm.

Note this is also an opportunity to show off my new red cake stand which I picked up in Stock, the most fabulouse but ludditesque shop in Dublin. I recently asked them to order oven gloves for me from Ulster Weavers, in a particular shade of red (sensing a pattern here?). They took my details down in a notebook with a pen. In a PAPER NOTEBOOK. With A PEN FILLED WITH INK. I’m pretty sure they still don’t have a website. Their rivals around the corner are well wise to this fact and appear third in the SERP for Stock Dublin. I just want to call in and lecture them. Okay I admit I have lectured them, gently, a few years ago now.

Short post on Shortbread

I’ve never had much luck with shortbread so when I overheard one of the bloggers on Saturday talking about making shortbread for her father on Father’s Day, my ears pricked up.

Joanna of Smorgasblog shared her shortbread recipe with me on Twitter yesterday and I rustled up a batch while making the dinner and putting the nippers to bed. Yes it IS that easy.

The result: AMAZEBALLS. Go and make some right now. Recipe here.

Oh my WOW! This tastes even better than it looks! Thanks @JoannaSchaff  http://t.co/TIh3mYd6

In your best Oz accent now say Anzac.

No Ainzaaac. I love Anzac biscuits. I made them first just over a year ago when I received a copy of Edmonds Cookery Book, a staple of every New Zealand household, from a good Kiwi friend who knows I love to cook and bake. It’s a no-nonsense publication with some rocking recipes. It also has some weird numbers in it. There’s a yummy Chicken and Apple Hot Pot in it too. It’s also got lots of basic info in it about cooking terminology, methodology, cuts of meat and nutrition. I would recommend it as a good standby in your own cookery library. My copy is spiral bound which is very handy in the kitchen.

I promised one of my twitter posse that I would post this recipe for Anzac Biscuits and really it’s a cinch and you don’t need any fancy bakeware to make them either. The only thing that might be needed that would not be found in every Irish kitchen are standard cup and spoon measures. I would heartily recommend investing in one set of cups and two of spoons made out of stainless steel especially if you are planning to use the internet as a source of tasty recipes. I usually make double of this recipe. It does make stacks but they don’t last too long.

Anzac Biscuits

Makes 20
1/2 cup of plain flour
1/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup coconut
3/4 cup rolled oats
50g butter
1 tablespoon Golden Syrup
1/2 teaspoon baking or bread soda
2 tablespoons boiling water

Preheat oven to 180C. Grease flat trays (two or three). Mix together flour, sugar, coconut and rolled oats. Melt butter and golden syrup. Dissolve baking soda in the boiling water and add to butter and golden syrup. Stir butter mixture into the dry ingredients. Place level tablespoonsful of mixture onto cold greased trays. Bake for about 15 mins or until golden.
And enjoy! Yum.

I’ll post photos the next time I make some.