Treat me: Marshmallow nests

I was out the other night and someone I hadn’t seen for a long time said to me, apropos of something else, ‘it’s lucky you’re not a proper journalist because…’. Reader, I was mortally wounded.
I was also slightly lost for words, but I realised afterwards I could have come back with a whole lot of reasons of why I AM still a proper journalist. At the time though, I could only think of this one: that I can still eavesdrop on a conversation across the other side of the room while staying engaged in the one I’m having. That’s a proper journalist skill, that is. Trust me. You don’t spend ages listening to the police scanner while being shouted at by the chief reporter and keeping abreast of office gossip for nothing, you know.

Easter Marshmallow Nests - Gluten-Free Recipe Credit: Lucy Corry/The Kitchenmaid

Anyway, because I’m not a ‘proper journalist’ any more I now have to practice this skill at things like kids’ birthday parties – which is where I picked up the first part of this recipe. Two women across the party table were discussing rice bubble cake and I heard the other one say, ‘no, no, you should do it with 50g of butter and a packet of marshmallows’. Then the conversation I was in got interesting again and I tuned the rice bubble ladies out. Still, it was enough. All you need is a lead, after all.

Marshmallow Nests
I urge you to suspend your disbelief for a minute and try these – they are absolutely addictive. Trust me, I had to leave the house to stop myself eating the whole batch this morning (it’s been that kind of week). This makes 12 mini nests, but if you want to make more I suggest making up a new batch rather than doubling the recipe as the mixture starts to set quite quickly. If you have a silicon mini muffin tin, now is the time to use it.

125g marshmallows – the little ones melt faster, but the big ones are fine to use
25g unsalted butter
2 cups rice bubbles
about 36 mini marshmallows, for decorating

Put the butter and marshmallows in a medium saucepan and set over low heat. Stir frequently until the marshmallows are melted and the whole thing is a spooky looking mess. Remove from heat, then tip in the rice bubbles and stir until well combined.
Divide the mixture between the 12 holes of a mini muffin tin (or a small tartlet tin), then, using your fingers and a wet spoon, hollow out the middle to make a nest shape.
Let cool and set (about 10 minutes), then remove the nests from the tin and arrange a few mini marshmallows in each nest. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dark place (but not the fridge, they get too sticky).

Have a great weekend, everyone x

Treat me: Chocolate potato cake

I’ve never understood the fuss about St Patrick’s Day. I’m all for a knees-up, but Guinness-supping and River-dancing leaves me cold (especially when it’s done by people who are about as Irish as I am). However, I’ll take any excuse to make a cake and this one – which contains potato and a good slug of Irish cream liqueur – fits the bill nicely.

St Patrick's Day Chocolate Potato Cake With Irish Cream Frosting - Gluten-Free Photo And Recipe Credit: Lucy Corry/The Kitchenmaid

Chocolate Potato Cake With Irish Cream Icing
This is the sort of cake that Mrs Doyle would go into rhapsodies about. It’s light, luscious and gluten-free – and no one will believe you when you tell them it’s got potato in it. Give it a light dusting of icing sugar before serving or you can really push the boat out and smother it in Irish liqueur-laced cream cheese icing. If time is short, just make yourself a bowl of the icing and lie on the sofa, channelling Father Jack.

200g unsalted butter, softened
200g caster sugar
1 tsp whiskey (or vanilla extract)
4 eggs, at room temperature
120g ground almonds
30g cocoa, sifted
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
200g mashed potato (1 large potato, approximately)

Irish Cream Icing
150g cream cheese, at room temperature
50g butter, at room temperature
60ml Bailey’s Irish Cream
4 Tbsp icing sugar

Heat the oven to 175C and grease and line a 23cm ring tin.
Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, then beat in the vanilla. Add the eggs, one at a time, while continuing to beat. Add a spoonful of the ground almonds along with each egg – this will help prevent curdling. When all the eggs have been added, fold through the remaining ground almonds, cocoa, baking powder and mashed potato until combined.
Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 45-50 minutes, until a skewer comes out cleanly. Leave in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out to a rack to cool.

To make the Irish Cream icing, put the cream cheese, butter, Irish cream and icing sugar in a small bowl (or in the mini bowl of a food processor) and beat or whizz until smooth. Dollop generously on the cold cake.

Have a great weekend, everyone. I’ll leave you with this classic taste of Father Ted…

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Treat me: Coconut Crumble

I’ve never understood why people get cross when recipe writers in magazines or newspapers advocate the use of new or ‘fancy’ ingredients. Why? Surely, if you love food, then shouldn’t you love hearing about new things, and figuring out things you can do with them? Maybe I’m strange like that.

Coconut Sugar, Coconut Flour, Coconut Oil And Desiccated Coconut Image

Anyway, ever since I discovered coconut sugar I’ve been going a bit mad with it. Partly this is to stop myself eating it out of the jar or sprinkled on my yoghurt, but mostly because it’s fun. And delicious! And even if all that stuff about it being super-good for you isn’t wholly true, we can’t be saints all the time, can we?

Fruit Crumble Vegan Gluten-Free Photo Credit: Lucy Corry/The Kitchenmaid

Coconut Crumble
I could tell you that I love this for its so-hot-right-now coconutty-ness, but the reason I am really hooked on it is that it takes less than 20 minutes to make – and cook. That means you can even make it for breakfast and still not be late for work. Do you need any more encouragement? Ok then, it’s also vegan and gluten-free. Happy now?

1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup desiccated coconut
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 – 1/2 cup coconut sugar
about 2 cups fruit – I favour frozen berries for the speed factor, but you could use any cooked fruit. Poached pears would be nice…

Heat the oven to 200C. Grease a shallow sided pie dish or similar with a bit of coconut oil, then tip in the fruit. Stir the coconut flour, sugar and desiccated coconut together, then mash in the coconut oil until it is reasonably evenly distributed. Taste – if you have a very sweet tooth you may want to up the sugar to 1/2 a cup. Tip this mixture evenly on top of the fruit, then put the dish in the oven and bake for 15 minutes, until the fruit is hot and the crumble is golden brown. Serve with a generous dollop of whipped coconut cream or Greek yoghurt. Serves four.

Have a great weekend everyone x

Treat me: Raw raspberry lamingtons

You might think I married my husband for his wit, good looks and charm, but there’s more to it than that. What sealed the deal is was that his mother makes the best lamingtons in the world. Once I realised he was the heir to a freezer full of chocolate-dipped, cream-filled spongy delights, there was no turning back. 

Raw Raspberry Lamingtons

More than a decade down the track though, I’ve come to realise that there are other lamington-makers out there. In fact, there are hordes of them, all of them making exotic lamingtons like there’s no tomorrow. They’ve been whipped into a coconut-dusted frenzy by an adorable English flight attendant by the name of Peter, who is no slouch himself in the lamington department.

Peter is such a champion of lamingtons that for the last four years he has devoted himself to reinventing them every February. Don’t tell my MIL, but I think he could give her a good run for her money. In the meantime, he’s thrown down the gauntlet to the rest of us. And so without any further ado, I bring you my raw raspberry lamingtons…

Raw Chocolate Gluten Free Lamingtons

Raw raspberry lamingtons

These are not your ordinary lamingtons – there’s no sponge, no eggs, no sugar and – gasp – no cream. These are lamingtons, 2014 style. They’re raw, gluten and dairy-free, and contain no refined sugar. But there’s plenty of coconut, chocolate AND raspberries – for those of you who can’t decide whether a lamington should be brown or pink. I was inspired by this recipe, but took it in a completely different direction. The ultimate test was when I asked my brother-in-law to try one. “These,” he said, “are dangerous. Is the recipe going on your blog?”

100g ground almonds

120g dessicated coconut

4 Tbsp coconut oil

3 Tbsp real maple syrup or honey

60g (about half a cup) frozen raspberries

Line a small plastic container (like a takeaway container) with plastic wrap and set aside.

Put all ingredients in a food processor and whiz until it clumps. Press this mixture into the prepared container and leave in the fridge for at least an hour, until firm. You can leave it for a day or so if you like, it won’t come to any harm, though you may accidentally eat some of it.

When you are ready for stage two, remove the coconut mixture from the fridge and cut into small bars. Gently melt 120g dark chocolate with 1 tsp of coconut oil (I do this in a heatproof bowl in a warming oven, but you can use a microwave on low or a double boiler) and set aside to cool slightly.

Put the coconut in a small bowl and line a tray with baking paper.

Dip the bars into the chocolate, then roll them carefully in the coconut. When you have finished, put them in a lined, lidded container and put them in the fridge before someone comes by and gobbles the lot. Makes about 12-15, depending how much gets eaten along the way.

Have a great weekend, everyone x

Treat me: Frozen yoghurt iceblocks

This recipe – if you can call it that – is direct from the ‘I can’t believe I didn’t think of this earlier’ files. If you’ve ever wondered how to make your own nutritionally sound, outrageously simple and utterly delicious popsicles/ice blocks/ice lollies/freezer pops/icy poles, I have the answer.

But first, here’s a beach scene to put you in the mood…

Worser Bay, Looking Towards Cook Strait And Seatoun, Wellington

This photo, taken last night, is meant to distract you from the fact that while my amazing homemade frozen yoghurt popsicles are genius in icy form, I have been unable to take a decent photo of them. Try as I might, they just turn out looking wrong. So if you really want to see what they look like, you’ll need to make them yourself. And, as I’m about to show you, it’s probably the easiest thing you’ll do all weekend. Here’s how.

Frozen yoghurt iceblocks
You need four things to make these frozen treats: Greek yoghurt, good jam (or a variation thereof), iceblock moulds and about two hours. My iceblock moulds are Tupperware ones and, to be frank, they are weird. The shape is good, but the supposedly clever handle thing makes them hard to hold. I’d say that was a design flaw, wouldn’t you? I’ve seen some much simpler looking ones at the supermarket for about $5 – I’m thinking of trading up.
My first attempt was made with the last spoonful of some gorgeous apricot and vanilla jam made by my lovely sister. Since then I’ve made them with some not-homemade but still good blackcurrant jelly, lemon curd, and a sprinkle of chopped nuts and chocolate. There are no limits – just stick to the quantities I’ve outlined below.
My iceblock moulds take about 60ml (roughly 1/4 of a cup) each – so these quantities are to suit. But you can scale them to fit your needs (and any leftover mixture can be frozen in a little plastic container or eaten on the spot).

1 cup/250ml full-fat Greek yoghurt
1/4 cup/60ml high quality jam (or lemon curd, or chocolate/nuts as detailed above)

Stir the yoghurt and jam together until well combined. Taste – remember that some of the sweetness will be lost in the freezing process – and swirl through a little more jam if desired. Pour into iceblock molds (this amount will fill five or six) and freeze for one to two hours.
Unmould – dipping them in just-boiled water usually helps – and enjoy.

Have a great weekend, everyone!