Category Archives: Desserts

Baked Chai Rice Pudding

I felt pretty pleased with myself when I thought of making a chai flavoured rice pudding, then I googled it only to find someone else had already thought of it. There is nothing new under the sun. No matter. I still wanted to make it, and so I did this morning. After being up for a few hours with no breakfast on a cold Melbourne autumn morning, let me tell you this was utterly perfect. I double dare you to make this on an empty stomach and not devour at least half of it!

If you like, add some sultanas that have been softened in some warm apple juice. I prefer it without though.

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup caster sugar
  • 1/2 cup basmati rice
  • 2 cups milk
  • 200 ml weak black tea
  • 4 pieces cinnamon bark
  • 4 black peppercorns
  • 12 cardamon pods
  • 8 cloves
  • 1 thumb size piece of fresh ginger
  • Nutmeg
  • A little butter, for greasing

Preheat the oven to 180C

In a pestle & mortar, crush the pepper, cardamon pods, cloves and cinnamon a little. Don’t ground to a powder, just smash them up a bit. Place in a saucepan with the milk, and grate the ginger in. Very gently heat for 10 minutes to infuse the milk. Do not allow it to boil, you want a very low heat.

While the milk’s infusing, make the cup of tea and set aside. Whisk the egg and sugar until combined. Add the rice to this mixture.  Grease an ovenproof dish with some butter.

Remove the milk from the heat, add the tea, and stir. Strain it into the egg/sugar/rice mixture so you don’t get all the chai flotsam and jetsam in your pudding.

Pour into your greased baking dish. Gently stir to ensure the rice mixture is evenly spread across the base of the dish. Scatter a few cardamon pods and cinnamon pieces from the strained chai, grate some nutmeg over the top, and bake for 40-45 minutes.

Serve warm.


Pear and Blackberry Crumble

This is a great use of seasonal fruit – William Bartlett pears are just perfect right now, and blackberries are at their best – and cheapest. I like to use demerara sugar in the crumble, it gives it a lovely sweet crunch.

  • 4-5 William Bartlett pears
  • 1 punnet blackberries
  • 1 ripe banana, mashed
  • 1/4 cup  cloudy apple juice
  • 1 and a half tablespoons organic honey
  • zest of half a lemon
  • 1 and a half cups organic quick oats
  • 1 cup wholemeal flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 100 g butter plus extra
  • 3 tablespoons demerara sugar plus extra

Preheat oven to 180 c.

Core and chop the pears into small bite sized chunks. Place in a baking dish with the blackberries and mashed banana. In a jug, heat the honey until runny, add the lemon zest and apple juice, stir and pour over the fruit. Mix everything up to combine/coat.

Put the flour, oats and cinnamon in a mixing bowl, and rub the butter in, or do this in the food processor, until the mixture is moist and sandy. Mix in the sugar.

Spread the crumble mixture over the fruit, sprinkle a little extra sugar over the top, dot with some extra butter, and bake, uncovered for 40 minutes. Serve with yoghurt or icecream.

Mini Chocolate Cheesecake

I don’t do Valentine’s Day. Never have. Irrespective of my relationship status, it has failed my entire life to enthuse me. But I acknowledge and accept that others do, and for those who wish to do so by making something special for their beloved, rather than enduring a ghastly night out at a restaurant full of nauseatingly loved-up couples (getting an idea of what I really think about Valentines’ Day?), then here is a dessert for you. This chocolate cheesecake is velvety smooth, rich yet with a lovely tang that balances it beautifully. And if you are sans beloved this Valentines’ Day, then I think making this for yourself would be a great way to show some self-love 🙂

This is essentially Nigella’s chocolate cheesecake but I make it a little differently. I use different ingredients for the base, and I don’t smother the top with more chocolate as Nigella does because, quite frankly, it’s rich enough with out it. I prefer to top it with a dusting of cocoa and fresh berries. Furthermore, I do the whole thing in the food processor, instead of bashing the biscuit base by hand and using the mixmaster for the filling, as Nigella does. I find it helps prevent little flecks of un-blended cream cheese that I experienced the other way.

Beside the fact that it was Valentine’s Day, I have had a few requests for this post since I made a larger version at Christmas. And my son has been nagging me to make this ever since, so here we are.

And now, on every other day of the year, if you want to make your loved one feel special, do the dishes, the vacuuming and a load of washing. With no fanfare 🙂


If you wish to make the larger version of this, google Nigella’s chocolate cheesecake and off you go (and if you want to make my base for the large version instead of hers, multiply the ingredients below x 3).

You can make this on the day, but give yourself a few hours ahead of time – about four hours all up – especially if you’ve never made a cheesecake before. It’s not difficult, but you do need to follow the recipe carefully and you don’t want to be rushed.

You will need an 11cm springform pan, which I bought from Essential Ingredient, but other specialty cake or kitchen supply stores should have them.

For the base:

  • 3 Oreo biscuits
  • 6 Choc Ripple biscuits
  • 1 tablespoon butter

For the filling:

  • 1/2 cup cream cheese
  • 2 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons sour cream
  • 60 grams dark, 70% chocolate, such as Lindt, Green & Black’s, or the Aldi Organic Dark Chocolate
  • 1/2 teaspoon good quality cocoa, plus extra for dusting

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and put the kettle on.

Pulse the chocolate biscuits in a food processor until grainy, add the butter, and pulse again until sandy.

Press the mixture into the bottom of the springform pan (you don’t need to oil or line it or anything). Keep adding and pressing the mixture to form a base that goes up the sides. Don’t worry about making it even around the sides, part of the appeal I think is the contrast between the evenness of the layer of filling with the unevenness of the base it sits on. Just make sure the bottom is covered well.

Put in the freezer while you make the filling.

Wipe all the crumbs out of the food processor with a paper towel. Put the cream cheese in and process until smooth. Add the custard powder and sugar, process again to combine, then add the egg and egg yolk and sour cream. Melt the chocolate in the microwave (or over a double boiler on the stove, but I think in a pyrex jug in the microwave is the simplest way) and add, with the half teaspoon cocoa powder. Process until all smooth.

Pour the mixture into the pan, covering the base, until you have an even layer that is almost up to the top, but leave a little room for the wrapping that is coming.

Now waterproof the pan. Wrap the whole pan with a layer of cling wrap, then a layer of foil, folding the foil over the top and tucking the clingwrap under the foil, so the plastic is not in danger of touching the food. You could also do this before pouring the mixture in if you like, I just did it this way and it worked.

Put the pan into a baking dish and pour the boiling water in the dish until halfway up the cheesecake pan.

Carefully transfer to the oven and bake for 40 minutes. Remove the pan, carefully, from the oven and its bain marie, and immediately remove the foil and clingwrap. Let it rest in the pan for at least half an hour before removing the outer ring (place it on a glass smaller than the pan to do this).

Allow to set in the fridge for 1-2 hours, or longer if you have it. Dust with cocoa, and decorate with raspberries or whatever else you like. Personally I think the combination of chocolate and raspberries is unbeatable. If you are using frozen raspberries, as I have, add them right before serving as they will start to melt quickly. You could serve this with some cream or icecream, but really, it doesn’t need it.

Raspberry and Lemon Cream Tart

This is a stunning dessert, and I only ever make it on special occasions.  I have adapted it from a recipe in a treasured cookbook that I have had for 23 years.  I like to call it a little bit of Abbotsford Kitchen Magic, because it looks like you’ve made a complicated pastry topping with holes in it.  But in fact, there isn’t that much to it: you make the pastry shell, then make a batter and pour it over the raspberries. Having said that, its also easy to mess up if you get the pastry wrong.

My advice on making shortrcust pastry if you are not used to doing so is to practice.  Give the pastry a road test, say with a quiche recipe (obviously omitting the sugar).

You will need a 24cm (9 inch) pie/flan/quiche dish, preferably with a removable base.  Also, I thought I should mention that I have only ever attempted this with fresh raspberries, so to me its a very seasonal, summer tart.  I don’t know what would happen if you used frozen raspberries, and given the tendency of shortcrust pastry toward the soggy, I don’t know that I’d ever venture into this territory.

  • 1.5 cups plain flour
  • 125 grams cold butter, diced
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 3 tablespoons caster sugar
  • squeeze of lemon juice
  • 2-3 tablespoons ice cold water


  • 2 punnets of fresh raspberries
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup double cream
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup almond meal/ground almonds
  • 3/4 cup icing sugar

To serve:

  • Double cream
  • Toasted almond flakes

Put the flour, butter, sugar and egg yolk in a food processor and process until you have a sandy mixture. Add the lemon juice and slowly drizzle in the ice cold water, and pulse until it begins to form balls.  Remove and make one large ball, cover with cling wrap and refrigerate for 1/2 hour.

Heat the oven to 180 c.  Get your flan tin ready  – clean it if it needs it.  Roll the dough out on a clean, floured work bench until about an inch larger than the baking dish, and carefully lift it over to cover all the way up the sides.  Cut off any excess pastry.  Press the pastry edges down until even, and tidying and patching up any tears or gaps with the extra bits.  If you have a lot of extra, do what I do and make some little extra tarts for some lucky person.

Now, I need to have a word with you about shrinkage, and I don’t mean in the Seinfeld sense of the word.  Shortcrust pastry has a tendency to shrink away from the sides when baked.  There is much discussion about this topic if you google it. Let’s just say I’ve tried most suggestions you would find, but the only one that has worked for me is the addition of lemon juice (or vinegar) to the pastry, in case you were wondering why the need for this earlier on.  So if you follow this as I have instructed, then you should only ever experience shrinkage in the non-baking sense 🙂

Back to the tart.  Prick the pastry with the tines of a fork, cover with foil and weigh down by putting  dried beans or uncooked rice on the top of the foil  (or if you have them, pastry weights) and bake for 5 minutes. Uncover, prick again, and return, weighted for another 5 minutes. Remove foil and weights and put the tart shell aside.

While the pastry has been blind baking, in a large bowl mix the eggs,  double cream,  almond meal, lemon zest and icing sugar until  combined.

Carefully place the 2 punnets of raspberries in the pastry shell, roughly evenly spaced (you’ll probably have a few left over to pop into some lucky little mouths).  Sprinkle over some icing sugar and leave for a few minutes, turning them to absorb the sugar.

Carefully pour over the mixture, and if the raspberries have moved around too much, move them back in place gently with a fork.

Bake for 35 minutes.  When cool, dust with icing sugar.  Serve with double cream sprinkled with toasted almond flakes.

And if all went to plan, you too can achieve this smug look. 🙂

Bread and Butter Pudding

Bob Carr, the former Premier of NSW and my old boss, once described sausage rolls as “fat wrapped in fat”.  I reckon he’d call this dish “fat-soaked carbs” or maybe even “Elvis pudding”.   This is definitely not for the faint hearted, with all the butter and cream, not to mention egg, bread and sugar, but its such good comfort food.  And its not like you’d make it every day.

I have adapted this from Neil Perry’s recipe in his “Food I Love” cookbook. I’ve simplified his recipe a little, and there’s a lot less butter and cream in this.  I also added lemon zest to the batter, I think it creates a slight zing that cuts through the richness.  Use brioche (egg loaf) if you can get it, or a panetone.  If you can’t get either of these, I’d just go for plain white bread.

  • 1 loaf of brioche, sliced about 2 cm thick
  • about 25 grams unsalted butter
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 vanilla bean pod (or half a teaspoon of vanilla extract if you can’t find one)
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1/2 cup of double cream
  • 2/3 cup organic sultanas (organic ones are better quality and tastier)
  • 3 tablespoons liqueur, such as calvados, brandy or apple schnapps
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • about 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • zest of about half a lemon
  • icing sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees.  Grease a baking dish with butter and set aside. (You can use a small casserole dish, as I do, a pie dish, or a loaf shaped dish – whatever you have)

Step one – get the sultanas drunk.  Splash the liqueur over them and pop them in the microwave for about a minute, then set aside. Butter the bread and line the bottom and sides with some of the slices.  Drain the sultanas and sprinkle about a quarter of them around.  Repeat this layering of pieces of bread and sultanas until all used up.

In a bowl or large jug, whisk the eggs, milk and cream.  Add the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and lemon zest.  Slice the vanilla bean carefully down the length of it, and scrape out the seeds into this mixture.  Whisk to combine everything.

Slowly pour the batter over the dish, letting it seep down through all the cracks.  When you’ve finished, let it sit for 10 minutes so the bread absorbs the batter. While it’s resting, boil the kettle.  Place the pudding dish into a larger roasting pan, and pour in enough of the boiled water until it comes halfway up the dish.

Carefully place in the oven and cook for 45 minutes. Remove the pudding dish from the bain marie and  allow it to cool down for half an hour.  Dust with icing sugar. Neil Perry advises refrigerating for 8 hours, then turning the pudding out and slicing, serving cold.  I like to dig right in once its rested for half an hour, and have it warm.  Its your call.  I would definitely serve it with a little extra cream, or ice cream.

Tip: Don’t throw away the vanilla pod once you’ve scraped the seeds out.  Put it in a clean dry jar and fill the jar with caster sugar. The pod will give a lovely delicate vanilla flavour to the sugar, which you can use for making cakes etc.

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