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Friday, January 24, 2014
Brown Butter Shortbread

It's almost back to school for the kids in Australia! Unfortunately, that means less free time, baking and blogging, and more work, study and stress.. But hopefully I'll have time to squeeze in some blog posts for you guys. 
In the meantime, these brown butter shortbread were a new recipe I decided to experiment on a while ago. This time, my inspiration came from my huge butter and fatty food craving from a few months ago, so I came across these and my mouth instantly started drooling..
Like the other cookies I bake for my family and friends, these were very much enjoyed. I wasn't the only one who was experiencing the shortbread craving; and so these cookies naturally disappeared as quickly as they had come.

I've never actually heard of 'brown butter' before; nor have I ever cooked butter for so long. This technique is really effective though, as the butter flavour really comes out of the shortbread much more, and it smells much nuttier and toffee-like than your regular softened butter.

The brown butter bits also give the shortbread cookies those nice little dots! Also, as I mentioned before in the Espresso Coffee Shortbread post (click here for a link to that), I had never thought of cutting cookies after baking, but I've found it really helps give a much cleaner edge, especially if your dough has lots of baking powder or self-raising flour.

These cookies are the perfect pair for a nice steaming mug of coffee! They melt in your mouth a little and taste delicious. Usually, I'm not really a huge fan of butter or butter flavours, but these shortbread are totally different; they don't really have that rich, heavy texture that super buttery and fatty food usually come with. (Trying really hard not to drool right now..)


250g unsalted butter, cut into 1-tablespoon pieces
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup butterscotch chips, finely chopped

Line an 8 x 8-inch baking pan with parchment paper so it hangs over the sides (so you can easily lift the shortbread out later).
Heat the butter in a heavy-bottomed medium-sized skillet over medium heat. Whisk occasionally until the butter is melted, then once melted, continue whisking constantly. The butter will foam up and then subside; as it starts to boil, you will start to see brown bits form on the bottom. Once the butter is golden and smells nutty, pour it into a bowl to cool. (Be careful not to burn it; this whole process should take less than 5 minutes.) The darker milk solids will settle to the bottom; you can strain them out before using the butter if you like (it’s not necessary though, just personal preference).
Whisk together the flour, powdered sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a large bowl; mix in the vanilla with a fork.
Once the butter is cooled, drizzle it into the flour mixture a little at a time, mixing with a fork until all the butter is incorporated. (The dough will be quite dry and crumbly.)
Working somewhat quickly (because the dough stiffens a bit as it sits), and press the dough evenly into the prepared pan.
Preheat the oven to 150C, and while it heats, chill the dough for 30 minutes in the fridge.
Before baking, score the dough into whatever size and shape cookies you want; I like to make 20 long, thin cookies. (The scores will meld together a bit while baking, but should still be visible enough to help you cut the cookies after baking.)
Bake until the cookies are set, but not browned, about 35 minutes.
Cool for 5 minutes, then score the cookies again over the lines you already scored.
Cool 30 minutes in the pan, then use the parchment paper to lift the cookies out.
Cut the cookies along the scored lines, cool completely, and serve or store in an air-tight container at room temperature.
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Friday, January 17, 2014
Pistachio Shortbread Mounds

Shortbread's always been a favourite in my family; the soft, crumbly texture and the slight melt-in-mouth feeling of each bite means that dozens of cookies are gone within the space of a week or so. Although my medical form states that I'm a tad allergic to pistachios, I've always been an avid fan of pistachios since forever. They're by far my favourite nut, with cashews next, but unfortunately, I am apparently most allergic to those two nuts..

I've been going through a phase where I'm completely sick of making White Chocolate Macadamia Cookies, because they're the classic favourite, so experimenting with different types of cookies and cakes has satisfied my baking needs recently. 

This cookie dough is really good eaten raw! I took a bite off the leftovers on the spoon and it was heaven..

I took a long time making sure my little shortbread mounds actually looked like mounds.. Trust me it's the hardest part, but the cookies turn out looking very unique and cute.

When shaping, try and shape them to be taller than you want them to be, because the butter in the dough will melt, and eventually the mounds will flatten and shrink a little bit in the oven.

 The before photo of the tall shortbread mounds.. and..

 ...The after shot of the cookies! They've definitely flattened during the baking process.. 

 Being the huge experimenting enthusiast that I am, I made two batches of these cookies at once, so don't be alarmed if you dont turn out with trays of cookies like this!

Makes 30

1 cup (110g) shelled pistachios, roasted
250g butter, softened
1 cup (160g) icing sugar
1 ½ cups (225g) plain flour
2 tbsp rice flour
2 tbsp cornflour
¾ cup (90g) almond meal
Preheat oven to 150C/130C fan forced. Line baking trays with baking paper.
Coarsely chop 2/3 of the nuts, and reserve the whole nuts for decoration.
Beat the butter and sifted icing sugar in a bowl with electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in sifted flour, almond meal and chopped nuts.
Shape level tablespoons of mixture into mounds, place about 3cm apart on oven trays. Note: Try and shape the dough into tall cones so that they will maintain a mound shape after the baking process. Press one whole nut on each mound, bake about 25 mins. Stand 5 mins, place on wire racks to cool.

Happy Holidays!
- Rachel

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Friday, January 10, 2014
Sesame Zaru Soba Noodle Salad

My newest lunch love this year is a cold soba noodle salad! Commonly called zaru soba in Japanese, soba noodle salads are packed with amazing Asian oriental flavour, and are the perfect healthy and light option for the sizzling Aussie summer.

Mind you, although this recipe is for 4 people, I can safely say that I can conquer the whole bowl of noodles within a few hours. Just take a couple forkfuls of this stuff and I'll have finished the whole thing, but if you're not a particularly big eater, then feel free to leave some of this scrumptious glory to the early hours of the day. It's much easier to indulge in this salad because it can be eaten straight from the fridge; so you'll be lean and healthy in no time!

A generous amount of spring onions always does the trick.. I always tend to put way more than a recipe suggests, but the more the better, in my opinion.

Definitely looking as if I'm extremely proud of this lunch dish.. Perhaps the noodles were photographed in their last minutes of life before I gobbled them all up.

Food can be so beautiful sometimes.. Don't you agree?


100g black sesame seeds
a pinch of salt
270g packet of soba noodles
2 tsp rice wine vinegar
5 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp honey
2 tsp sesame oil
6 spring onions

Toast the sesame seeds in a dry pan over a high heat until they look golden brown, and tip them into a bowl.

Bring a large pan of water to the boil and add some salt. Put in the soba noodles and cook them for about 6 minutes (or according to packet instructions) until they are tender but not mushy. Have a bowl of iced water waiting to plunge them into after draining. Mix noodles with your hands to loosen up.

In the bowl you are going to serve them in, mix the vinegar, soy sauce, honey and oil. Then finely slice the spring onions and put them into the bowl with the cooled, drained noodles and mix together thoroughly before adding the sesame seeds and tossing again.

Leave the sesame seed noodles for about half an hour to let the flavours develop, although this is not absolutely necessary or sometimes even possible.

Additional information - for gluten free, check that the soba noodles are 100% buckwheat and use tamari instead of soy sauce.

Seriously the best noodles ever! Enjoy,
- Rachel

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Wednesday, January 8, 2014
Boxing Day Sales Haul

Hi there, my lovelies! I'm back again, but this time with bags full of clothing and a wallet considerably lighter.. It's alright though; I don't feel as bad because of the Boxing Day sales here in Australia, as everything is so much cheaper with huge discounts. So I dragged my lovely mum with me to the city and went for a whole day shopping trip, where I spent almost $500..

Stripe Cotton Spandex Jersey Crop Tee: American Apparel (x)

Grey Maxi Skirt: Alternative Apparel (MYER)

Neon Fit and Flare Crinkle Top: Lipsy (x)

Coral Entourage Ns Tote Bag: OROTON (x)

Chunk Heeled Sandals: WINDSORSMITH (x)

Deco Red Nails: OROTON (x)

Pout It Out Fruit Tingle Lips: Sportsgirl (x)
Hope you've shopped lots! See you soon,
- Rachel

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Monday, January 6, 2014
How to Open a Coconut The Right Way!

When I was over in Fiji not so long ago, I attended this really interesting Fijian cooking school called Flavours of Fiji, and as a huge fan of everything cooking, it was a great experience. Although the food turned out a little strange to my Australian tastebuds, it was amazing to see what local crops and goods the people of Fiji used for their everyday cooking.

Making Indian roti.. Tasted amazing!
What I discovered then was that coconut was a huge part of every single dish in Fiji; so naturally, the Fijians would have to crack open dozens of coconuts every week. If you've tried to open a coconut at home, you would understand how surprised I was as I watched our Fijian cook effortlessly split a coconut in less than 10 seconds. So as I write to you today, I hope you watch in disbelief at how easy it actually is to open a mature coconut!

So basically, nobody realises but every single coconut actually has three 'veins' running from the top three black spots.

This is the only good photo I could find that showed these veins. The lighter coloured lines seen on the coconuts are the veins, and you want to strike the middle of the coconut; perpendicular to these veins.
If you didn't understand my wild explanation of where to strike the coconut, here's a diagram!
You'll need something heavy and pointy-edged, such as a whetstone or large butchers' knife, but a hammer will do for those who don't have these utensils.
Hold the coconut firmly in your weaker hand, and strike the coconut as previously stated, on all three veins. Repeat until your coconut cracks along the equator of the coconut. Gently tap your whetstone around the crack and pry open your coconut. Voila! Cracking open a coconut isn't so hard, is it?
Scraping off the coconut meat has still posed as a huge difficulty for me though; does anyone have any good suggestions for getting the meat off, without having to stick it in the oven?
A YouTube video tutorial of this will be up soon, but I'm still putting it together! Feel free to check out my channel though, more videos will be coming soon!

Enjoy your holidays!
- Rachel
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Wednesday, January 1, 2014
Espresso Coffee Shortbread

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, my fellow bloggers! Alas, the happiest and most festive season of the year has finally come, and 2014 is here for us to carve our paths into. It marks a fresh start for all of us, and a fresh new batch of cookies! Here I've gone off creating some new little treats for Christmas and New Year, because as we all know, we must always try new things. My mother, being a huge coffee fanatic, absolutely devoured these! (Not really a good idea as shortbread is a fairly unhealthy little snack, but oh, its Christmas! Give her a break..)
 When I first used fresh coffee grounds in my baking, I was so reluctant. I never knew of any other ways coffee could be used for other than in the coffee machine, but nonetheless, I tried it out. The sweet but strong aroma of freshly brewed coffee is absolutely amazing when the cookies are in the oven, and I can safely say it really does smell like Christmas!

 I never knew about cutting cookies post-baking either; I always got so frustrated at my shortbread and cookie-cutter-shaped goodies when they finished their time in the oven because they'd be all flattened out and with any sign of a clean-cut edge gone! But thankfully, this little scoring trick has saved me from any more stressful cookie shape disasters, phew!


1 1/2 cups (340g) butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons finely ground espresso-roast coffee beans
3 tablespoons Kahlúa or other coffee-flavored liqueur
3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup almonds (optional)
Line an 8x8-inch baking pan with parchment paper so it hangs over the sides (so you can easily lift the shortbread out later).
Preheat oven to 160°. In a large bowl, use a mixer to beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add vanilla, salt, espresso grounds, and Kahlúa. Beat to combine. Add flour and mix until well blended. Press the dough evenly into the prepared pan and chill for 30 minutes in the fridge.
Before baking, score the dough into whatever size and shape cookies you want; I like to make 20 long, thin cookies. (The scores will meld together a bit while baking, but should still be visible enough to help you cut the cookies after baking.) Gently press one almond on top of each scored cookie.
Bake until the cookies are set, but not browned, about 35 minutes.
Cool for 5 minutes, then score the cookies again over the lines you already scored.
Cool 30 minutes in the pan, then use the parchment paper to lift the cookies out.
Cut the cookies along the scored lines, cool completely, and serve or store in an air-tight container at room temperature.

Nutrition Facts

Amount Per Serving
Calories 130Calories from Fat 70
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 8g12%
Saturated Fat 5g25%
Trans Fat
Cholesterol 20mg7%
Sodium 85mg4%
Potassium 20mg1%
Total Carbohydrate 13g4%
Dietary Fiber 0g0%
Sugars 5g
Protein 1g
Vitamin A6%
Vitamin C0%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Note: Nutritional analysis is per cookie.

Have fun and happy holidays!
-  Rachel

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