Monday, February 27, 2012

All you need is love.....& some really great Vanilla extract!

Ah Valentine's  day a day to tell that special person you love them or like me a day of love for everyone. I was actually thinking about Valentine's day all week until that very day it slipped my mind .
So thinking there has to be others in the same prediciment I came up with a really simple and delicious Valentine dessert below. I was also reminded of the day when my gorgeous 2 year old nephew Remy visited me and had painted me a Valentine picture...ahhh love. (Remy's masterpiece below).

"Strawberry love"

 Wash strawberries set aside, Chop silvered almonds, Melt dark chocolate.
Dip each strawberry in dark chocolate and then roll into almonds. Leave to set on a tray with greaseproof paper. Arrange on plate and enjoy with Champagne!

However let's back track a little as on February 4th my Neice Amaya turned 1 (pic below). My sister Michelle wanted a lollipop , pretty them for the party which was really great. Michelle had lollipops in vases with jelly beans .
I made cupcakes but not any cupcakes these were Dairy free. To be honest there is this misconception that if it's Dairy free it will taste I made Rich Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with a smooth Pink "Butter" cream and was determined to win everyone over and it worked.

Dairy free Rich Chocolate Cupcakes with Buttercream


  • 2 ¾ cups white flour
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • ½ t. salt
  • 1 ½ cups Nuttelex spread or any soy spread
  • 2 ½ cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 ½ cup rice or almond milk
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 2 T. vanilla extract


1. Preheat the oven to 180c . Prepare cupcake tray with patty pans set aside.
2. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.
3. In large mixing bowl using an electric hand mixer at a high speed setting, cream the shortening with the sugar until fluffy, about 4 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well in between each addition. Add the rice milk, maple syrup and vanilla, beating until combined. Using a wooden spoon, stir the dry ingredients into the wet in several additions until just combined.
4. Pour the cake batter into patty pans  and bake for 20 minutes or until they spring back when you touch them. ( rotating half-way through, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cake comes out clean. )Allow cakes to cool completely on a wire cooling rack before frosting

 My easy "Butter" cream!!

500 grams  - Nuttelex spread non diary
500 grams  - Icing sugar
2 tablespooons - Good Quality Vanilla Extract
2 drops of any organic food colouring

In a bowl mix butter with electric mixer  add Vanilla  Extract until creamy and light in colour.
Add Icing sugar and mix on high till smooth and creamy add colouring and spread on each cooled cupcake.

In several recipes you will see I call for a "Good Quality" Vanilla Extract, it basically means that it is pure Vanilla and not a essence which is a processed form of Vanilla. I am obsessed with a great Quality Vanilla extract.
There are different types of pure vanilla extract. There is Mexican vanilla extract, Bourbon vanilla extract, Indonesian vanilla and Tahitian vanilla.
The Mexican vanilla bean is a thicker and darker bean that has a smooth, strong, rich fragrance and flavor. Some say they are the best. The one problem is that some manufacturers of vanilla products in Mexico add coumarin, which is ba...nned because it can cause liver and kidney damage. So make sure you always buy Mexican vanilla products from a reputable supplier.
Tahitian vanilla beans are the thickest of the three and almost black in color. They are not as flavorful as the other two but are very aromatic, with complex floral aromas, which make them popular in making perfumes.
Vanilla is sold in different forms: extract and essence, pods (beans), powdered, and vanilla sugar.
Get your hands on some wonderfully fragrant Vanilla extract today!! There are some great Australian made Vanilla Extract products one from the "Essential Ingredient" located in Prahran. Go out and experiement with Vanilla Extract and the pods today.

Well Easter is around the corner and I always know that when Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Tuesday has passed. So in saying that I am so looking forward to making Fresh Home made Hot cross Buns and my delicious Gingerbread and of course some other yummy treats. I will also be addng some delicious recipes that have all the protein minus the carbohydrate so stay tuned.

Until next time ...Keep cooking !!!

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