Baked Persimmons with Crumble Topping

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“Autumn is the mellower season, and what we lose in flowers we more than gain in fruits.”
~ Samuel Butler


Persimmons are one of my favourite autumn treats. I use the non-astringent variety for this recipe. These fuyu persimmons can be eaten crunchy like an apple, or left to soften so that the interior of the fruit becomes jelly-like. This recipe works best with fruit that are firm and ripe, but not yet soft.

Eating this dessert is decadent luxury, but it’s a healthy one! Persimmons are high in B group vitamins, vitamin C and anti-oxidants, especially those that are anti-tumor and anti-inflammatory. The baked persimmon is soft, fragrant and luscious, and the topping is sweet, crispy and well textured. Teamed with some cream or ice-cream it’s a show stopper!

Baked persimmons are very easy and this recipe that works beautifully as a hot dessert, but also makes a tasty breakfast served warm or cold with yogurt.

*This recipe is sugar-free and gluten-free. It can also easily be made vegan and dairy-free.

Ingredients to serve four:

4 x fuyu (non-astringent persimmons), 1 tablespoon of butter or your favourite butter alternative, 1 tablespoon of almond meal, 2 tablespoons of flaked almonds, 3 medjool dates, 1 tablespoon shredded coconut (non-sweetened), 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon,

plus 1 cup of hot water, 1 tablespoon of honey, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

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Preheat your oven to moderate (160 degree celcius fan-forced or 180 degree oven – 350 degrees fahrenheit).

Wash the persimmons and pat dry.

Use a sharp knife to cut the leaves and a small disk of fruit from the top of each persimmon, creating a small depression.

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To make the crumble topping remove the seeds from the dates and cut into small pieces. Mix together with the butter, almonds and almond meal, coconut and cinnamon.

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Divide the crumble mix into four, and mound into the centre of each fruit, pressing down softly.

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Place persimmons in a small ovenproof bowl. Mix the hot water, honey and cinnamon together and pour into dish, being careful not to get any on the crumble topping.

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Place into the oven and bake for forty-five minutes, or until topping is golden and crispy and fruit is soft to the touch.

Remove from oven.

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Serve with thick cream and a drizzle of honey. A good ice-cream or yogurt is also a yummy serving option.

Mine was served with double cream, honey, and a couple of gluten-free almond bread biscuits.

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Easy Orange Butter Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

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“In Britain, a cup of tea is the answer to every problem.
Fallen off your bicycle? Nice cup of tea.
Your house has been destroyed by a meteorite? Nice cup of tea and a biscuit.
Your entire family has been eaten by a Tyrannosaurus Rex that has travelled through a space/time portal? Nice cup of tea and a piece of cake. ”
~ David Walliams


This is a lovely cake – moist and orangey, and easy to make. It would be the perfect cake for a Mothers Day tea. I often make this when friends come over. Friends, tea and orange cake is the recipe for happiness!


Cake: 250 grams butter (one cup or two sticks) at room temperature, 2 cups sugar, 4 large eggs, pinch of salt, 2 tablespoons of fresh orange zest, 1/2 cup of orange juice, 1/2 cup of milk, 2 cups self-raising flour (self rising), 1 cup plain flour (all purpose)

Cream Cheese Frosting: 250 grams (1 cup) cream cheese, 2 cups of icing sugar (confectioners or powdered sugar), 1/4 to 1/2 cup of fresh orange juice

Variations: Add a teaspoon of orange blossom water or rose water to the cake batter for a flavoursome twist. If you love earl grey tea then another favourite variation is five drops of bergamot oil in the cake batter and two drops in the frosting mix.

Cake tin – one large bundt or ring pan, well greased and lightly floured or two loaf tins (23cm x 12cm – 9 inch x 5 inch) lined with baking paper.


Preheat your oven to moderate (160 degree celcius fan-forced or 180 degree oven – 350 degrees fahrenheit).

Chop the butter into cubes, and add to a large mixing bowl with the sugar, orange zest and salt. Beat with electric beaters until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is creamy and pale. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

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Sift the flours into another bowl and stir gently so that they are well combined.

Gently add half the flour and fold through the butter mixture. Then add the orange juice, stirring gently to combine. Add the second half of the flour and fold through, then add the milk in the same way as the orange juice.

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Spoon the cake batter into your prepared tin.

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Bake the bundt or ring cake for 45 minutes and then test. A thin skewer inserted into the middle of the cake should come out clean. If batter still clings to the skewer cook a little longer and then repeat test. Bake loaf cakes for thirty five minutes and then test.

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Cool in tin for ten minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

If baking the night before, wrap cooled cake in plastic wrap or place in an airtight tin so that it does not dry out.


To ice the cake combine cream cheese, sifted icing sugar and 1/4 cup of orange juice. Mix on low speed until combined. If mixture is still too dry add a little more orange juice. Beat on medium speed for one to two minutes until thick and creamy. Spread over top of cake.

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Cake can also be garnished with toasted coconut or almonds, little flowers etc.

Best eaten on the day it is made but will keep, refrigerated and well covered, for three days.

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Simple Stewed Plums Recipe

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“What is more mortifying than to feel that you have missed the plum for want of courage to shake the tree?”Logan Pearsall Smith


There is something deeply comforting about a bowl of warm sweet fruit, and stewed fruit is so simple that it should definitely be a go-to recipe in every household.

I love this easy recipe, and it is versatile enough to use with a whole range of different fruits including stone fruit, berries, apples, pears, rhubarb and pineapples. Stewed fruits can be eaten on their own or with something creamy as a dessert. They can be spooned over breakfast cereal or made into fruit crumbles, and they are even good served as a side with roasted meat.

Stewed plums have that tart-sweet flavour that I adore. If you prefer a very sweet stewed fruit add more sugar to your recipe. But I advise a light hand to start with, and taste as you go. I will sometimes omit sugar altogether if the fruit is ripe and sweet to start.

The stewed fruit will keep in the fridge for one week, and can also be frozen.



500g of plums, 2 tablespoons of sugar or your favourite sugar substitute, a squeeze of lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of water (Adjust the sugar to your own taste. If the fruit is very ripe and sweet you may need less. If it is quite tart you may prefer more.)


Wash the plums and drain them. Using a sharp knife cut the plums in half, twist to separate, remove stones, and then slice into smaller pieces.


Put plums into a saucepan, and add the sugar, water and lemon juice. Don’t worry that it isn’t much water. The fruit will release their own juices as they heat.

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Place pan over medium heat, and stir occasionally, cooking until fruit is soft. This will take between five and fifteen minutes depending on how ripe the fruit is, and how small the pieces are. Taste the syrup carefully (it will be hot) and adjust the amount of sugar if necessary.

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When the fruit is done, it will be soft and luscious. I love how the plum skins stain everything a pretty ruby colour.

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Ladle the fruit into bowls with a little of the syrup. Enjoy on its own or  serve with a splodge of cream, yoghurt or ice-cream for a simple and tasty warm dessert.

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Easy Chocolate Mousse with Almond Praline


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“If you are not feeling well, if you have not slept, chocolate will revive you. But you have no chocolate! I think of that again and again! My dear, how will you ever manage?”
~ Madame de Sévigné


I know, I know, it’s such a throwback to the 1970’s but Chocolate Mousse is one of those desserts that is a delectable eat, and it’s really not too tricky to make.

We had a writer friend pop in for an overnight stay last night on the way back from a visit with other friends down our way. Dinner was a simple barbeque – grilled steak, fresh green beans, garlicky mushrooms and some mash.

Dessert? I’m busy writing just now (okay, it’s an obsession) so I didn’t have time to make something ultra-fancy, and I had all the ingredients for mousse on hand. It took less than ten minutes to whip up the mousse, and about the same to make the praline. In fact, I multi-tasked and had the whole lot done and dusted in roughly fifteen minutes.

I decided to serve the mousse in small pretty tea-cups. It makes serving easy, and it’s good for portion control too. I know friends who make my recipe as four generous serves. I could never eat that much mousse! I prefer to portion this recipe so that it will give eight to ten small serves. If that’s way more mousse than you need it’s easy to halve the quantities in this recipe too. The mousse is rich, so a little goes a long way. (Although of course, you could go hard and eat more…) The taste is velvety smooth, chocolatey, but not too heavy and not too sweet.

In fact, I think this chocolate mousse would be the perfect romantic dessert for Valentine’s Day, if romance is your thing.

The mousse will keep in the fridge for three to four days, if it lasts that long. This dessert can easily be made gluten-free if you choose the appropriate chocolate, and if you use natvia or stevia instead of sugar, omit the alcohol and use a high cocoa (70% or higher) dark chocolate, it is also a low carb high fat (LCHF) dessert. Don’t add the praline for LCHF – choose some fresh berries, orange segments or a little grated dark chocolate instead.


Mousse Ingredients:

250 grams good quality dark or milk chocolate (dark gives a richer flavour), 300ml of cream, 4 large eggs at room temperature, 2 tablespoons of caster sugar or your favourite sugar substitute, pinch of salt, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract OR 1 to 2 tablespoons of your favourite liqueur – Kahlua, Tia Maria, Brandy, or Baileys all work well.

For this mousse I used a tablespoon of Kahlua in with the egg yolks, and another tablespoon over the beaten egg whites right at the end.

You’ll also want some extra whipped cream to serve.

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Break the chocolate into pieces and place in a heatproof bowl. Fill a small saucepan 1/3 full of water, and fit the bowl over the top. Place on low heat until the chocolate is melted. turn off heat and then remove bowl, being careful not to get any water or steam in the chocolate mix.

2015-02-12 12.11.50If necessary wipe the bowl to remove any water so that it doesn’t drip into the chocolate mixture, as that can cause it to seize (ie go hard and lumpy).

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Scrape the melted chocolate into a large bowl and let cool a little.

Separate the eggs, putting the yolks into the empty bowl you melted the chocolate into. Add the vanilla or alcohol and beat well.

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Place the egg yolk mixture into the chocolate and mix lightly. It may get very thick. That’s okay. Don’t panic.

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Now beat the cream until soft peaks form. Then wash and dry the beaters and in another bowl whip the egg whites with the sugar and salt until peaks form and the egg white is fluffy and much raised in volume.

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Gently fold the whipped cream through the chocolate mixture, mixing well so that the chocolate and cream are well amalgamated.

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Then fold in the egg whites. Add an extra slurp of alcohol if you think it needs it. It might look really messy at first, but be gentle and patient – it will all come together.

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Pour/spoon into one large serving dish, or smaller individual glasses or dishes. I used teacups because they are pretty and give a perfect serving size.  Place in fridge for two hours to set.


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Praline Ingredients:

1/2 cup of caster sugar, 2 tablespoons of cold water, 1/2 cup of flaked or slivered almonds


Arrange the almonds in a thin layer on some baking paper on a large tray.

Place the sugar and water in a small saucepan and stir over low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Raise heat to medium and let mixture boil without stirring for five to seven minutes or until it is a pale golden. Watch it – it can turn dark very quickly in the final stages. Immediately remove from heat. Toffee will continue to darken a little. Let sit for one to two minutes or until bubbles have subsided. Pour over almonds and leave to set.

Break into shards and store in an airtight container. Note: If you live in a place with high humidity do not leave on bench uncovered too long or toffee will become sticky.

2015-02-12 15.28.12Assembling your Mousse:

To serve, take a shard or two of praline and chop finely. Place a dollop of whipped cream on top of the mousse and a shard or two of praline. Then sprinkle a little of the chopped praline over the cream. Serve with a small spoon.

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Easy Fruit Pastry Dessert

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“As much as I would love to be a person that goes to parties and has a couple of drinks and has a nice time, that doesn’t work for me. I’d just rather sit at home and read, or go out to dinner with someone, or talk to someone I love, or talk to somebody that makes me laugh.” ~ Daniel Radcliffe

I actually wondered if I should have called this post ‘Shamelessly Quick But Delicious Dinner’. I am in Brisbane on my own right now, getting ready for a few days of psychic work, and I was lucky enough to have two lovely friends join me for dinner last night. We all belong to a writing group, so of course most of the evening we talked books, writing, and writers.

Did I say that it was heavenly?

I’d had my head down all day, working on the rewrite of a current project. Dinner was something I put thought to at the last minute. Something easy. I raced to the market down the road and bought a few simple ingredients. The main course was sticky marinated chicken drumsticks; asparagus, broccolini and bacon stir-fry; and a jacket potato with sour cream. Minutes to prepare but so yummy. See evidence below.

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Dessert? Shamefully simple. Squares of puff pastry covered in slices of sweet fresh nectarine and baked into tarts in fifteen minutes flat.

This is a dessert my grandmother taught me when I was about five years old.

Let me walk you through it.


Puff Pastry sheets (the frozen kind you buy pre-prepared at the supermarket), fresh fruit of your choice (I’ve used nectarines today but have also had success with apples, pears, plums, strawberries, peaches, apricots, strawberries and pineapple), a little sugar.


Preheat your oven to hot – 220 degrees celcius or 440 degrees fahrenheit. A hot oven is what will work magic on your puff pastry.

Wash and dry your fruit, and then cut that fruit into slices. Not too chunky. You can get all fancy and cut a million really thin slices, but I like things a little rustic. See pictures below.

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Take your pastry from the freezer just before you’ll need it. It won’t take long to thaw in a warm kitchen and if it gets too warm it will be all droopy and badly behaved.

Now cut a sheet of pastry into your desired shapes and sizes. I was in a hurry to be talking books, so I simply cut a large sheet into four squares.

Arrange the cut fruit in the middle of each piece of pastry. I used a half nectarine for each square. I guess I could have been more artful, but we were talking and the conversation was good. I didn’t want to miss anything! Luckily this recipe is fast and simple. Oh yeah – sprinkle a little sugar over the top of the fruit.

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Place on baking paper (less washing up!) on a tray or oven slide and pop into that hot oven for fifteen minutes or when pastry has puffed up and is golden brown.

Remove from oven.

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Serve your rustic pastries on their own, or with a little good ice-cream and a dash of cream.

East with gusto! We certainly did. :D

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Tropical Pie Recipe

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“Pull up a chair. Take a taste. Come join us. Life is so endlessly delicious.”
~ Ruth Reichl


And so, the moment of truth…

Does the Tropical Pie of my childhood still measure up?

*Nicole laughs gleefully and claps her hands*

Darn tootin’ right it does!

The pie has a crunchy toasted coconut crust, and a creamy light filling, flavoured with lemon, orange and pineapple. Heaven in a bowl, really. It speaks of summer, and relaxed tropical nights.

I think this particular dessert is fancy enough to serve at a dinner party or a fancy gathering, but it will also be a welcome addition to a family barbeque or a casual weekend meal. It’s actually a much more sophisticated recipe than I’d realised, and the flavour nuances are just as I’d remembered them. Maybe better.

There are a few steps, so you’ll need to allocate a little time for each part of the preparation – this one’s not a simple throw-together dessert. But hey, sometimes that little extra effort really does pay off. I’d make this the day before or early in the morning of the evening you’ll need it.

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Crust: 2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut, 60g (2 ounces) melted butter plus extra butter for greasing pie tin

Filling: 1 x 440g (15 ounce) can of pineapple pieces (I used the pineapple in natural juice with no added sugar, but in the seventies it was sugar all the way!), 5 teaspoons gelatine, 1/2 cup castor sugar OR the equivalent of Natvia or your favourite sweetener, pinch of salt, 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 3 eggs, separated, 1 tablespoon rum, 1 tablespoon Cointreau or orange juice, 1 and 1/4 cups (1/2 pint) of cream

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Method for Base:

1. Grease a 9 inch/23 centimetre pie plate, or use baking paper to line a spring-form tin of the same dimensions.

2. Preheat oven to slow – 120C or 250F. If it’s a fan-forced oven knock the temperature back to 110C or 230F

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3. Add the coconut to the melted butter, mixing well. Press firmly into the base and up the sides of the pie dish. If you don’t press firmly, the base will not hold together. I like to use a cup or glass with a firm base and straight sides to really press that crust well.

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Yes, Soul Sanctuary girls, I am still wearing my Friendship Bracelet :D.2015-01-20 14.12.21

4. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. Look how lovely that crust is! I am already dreaming up other fillings for it…

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Method for Filling:

1. Empty and save the juice from the can of pineapple, then add enough water to make 1 and 1/2 cups. Place juice in a small saucepan. Add the sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest, and then sprinkle the gelatine over the top. Place over moderate heat, and bring to boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

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2. Beat egg yolks until thick and foamy.

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3. Gently pour a small amount of the hot liquid into the yolks, whisking all the while. Continue whisking and add the hot liquid very slowly until it is all added. Then add in the rum and Cointreau.

4. Chill this mixture until it has the consistency of unbeaten egg white.

5. Beat the egg whites with the pinch of salt until stiff.

6. Beat the cream until thick.

7. Fold the drained pineapple and cream into the egg yolk mixture.

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8. Then gently fold in the beaten egg whites. Spoon into the pie crust and chill until well set.

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Serve on its own or with some cream or a good ice-cream.

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According to my husband, Tropical Pie also proves to be excellent breakfast food. ;)

I hope you enjoy this recipe from my childhood.

It really is as good as I remember!

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Quick Christmas Macadamia Shortbread Recipe

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“For centuries men have kept an appointment with Christmas. Christmas means fellowship, feasting, giving and receiving, a time of good cheer, home.”  ~ W.J. Ronald Tucker


This is a super recipe. It’s rich and buttery, and the lovely crispness of the shortbread goes perfectly with a cup of tea. I like their rustic style too. It speaks of kitchens and aprons and being made with love. (If you prefer your biscuits to look perfectly perfect rather than rustic, see note at bottom of page.)

These shortbread make a an easy and thoughtful home-made Christmas gift, and are good to have on hand when friends pop by for a visit.

The recipe can also be made gluten-free or vegan very easily – simple substitutes are listed below.

Shortbread Ingredients:

250 grams butter (1 cup), 1/4 cup sugar, 1/3 cup icing sugar (powdered or confectioners sugar), 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, 1/3 cup cornflour (cornstarch for my USA friends!), 2 and 1/3 cups plain flour, 1 cup of chopped raw macadamia nuts, 1/3 cup of raw sugar (optional).

This works fabulously well with gluten-free flour. If you’re vegan or dairy-free use your favourite butter alternative.

Hint: use level cups of flours and sugars rather than generous ones.


Preheat your oven to moderate (160 degree celcius fan-forced or 180 degree oven – 350 degrees fahrenheit).


Melt the butter over low heat. Cool slightly.

Sift icing sugar, sugar and cornflour into a large bowl. PS. How cute are these stackable little duck measuring cups that my Nana gave me many years ago? I totally adore them!

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Pour over the melted butter. Beat until thick and creamy. You could use a spoon or hand beaters but I use my trusty electric beaters.  The thickened mix will be the consistency of thick custard. Be patient. It takes a minute or two for the magic to work.


Then add in the sifted flour. Mix until combined. The mixture will be crumbly and moist. Add the macadamia nuts and mix well to distribute them evenly.

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Cover a couple of oven-proof trays with baking paper.

Place the raw sugar into a small bowl.

Take a teaspoon of mixture and roll it into a ball. Press the ball into the bowl of sugar, and then place the ball sugar side up on the prepared tray.

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Leave some space between each of the biscuits as they will spread slightly. Press the biscuits down gently with the tines of a fork. You could also use your hand to do this, but the fork tines make pretty marks.

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Bake for 15 minutes, or until lightly golden. Leave on trays for five minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

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Package to give as gifts, or store in an airtight container to serve with your next cuppa.

Santa is quite partial to these shortbread as well.


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1/2 cup of macadamias and 1/2 cup of chocolate chips

1 cup of macadamias and 2 tablespoons chopped glace ginger

1 cup of chocolate chips

Or just omit the nuts and leave them plain

NOTE: If you are a perfectionist who cannot abide rustic-looking biscuits, make sure that your macadamia nuts are cut quite small. Divide the dough in half, roll into two cylinders, cover in cling wrap and pop in the fridge for an hour until firm. Now you will be able to slice perfect circles that give biscuits with no obvious lumpy bits. You may or may not wish to mar the perfection with fork tines or sugar.

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