Caramel & Pecan Banana Blondies

caramel & pecan banana blondies
Tomorrow is the one month mark of being home in Melbourne.
Surreal? Completely. A little bit disorientating? Absolutely.

After spending 18 months having the most incredible time living in London, I arrived back home to surprise my twin sister for our 21st birthday. After almost letting it slip mannnyyyy a times on Skype the surprise was successful! (Including jumping out of the pantry to surprise me mum – 100% worth it).

The past month has been a little bit of a whirlwind of catching up with friends (and therefore eating my weight in Melbourne brunches), hugging my dog daily against his own will, feeding the family and settling in. Then BAM before you know it, it’s November… how did this happen?!

caramel & pecan banana blondies
Amongst the craze of being home, a new self titled ‘folio’ website is up and running! With tabs for food photography & styling, cake orders, and supper clubs which will be going next year!
www.becdickinson.com 

Oh and I made these blondies too! They didn’t last long at all… I must get used to sharing my baked goods now at home with a family.. But you know how it is, I’ll take any excuse to bake more. Naturally.
The recipe couldn’t be simpler and more tempting to go back for thirds.
A melt and mix method, where caramel is the only minor concentration you’ll have to focus on (I have forgotten about many a caramels on the stove top before…).
Then cut to serve, or as my sister is doing in the picture – dig right out of the pan!
No judgement here. In fact, I’d respect that.

caramel & pecan banana blondies

CARAMEL & PECAN BANANA BLONDIES
 
Ingredients
200g light brown sugar
130g butter
1 egg
2 bananas, sliced roughly
2 tsp vanilla extract
200g plain flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
200g pecans

Salted Caramel:
2 tsp light corn syrup/glucose syrup
4 tbsp water
100g caster sugar
120ml double cream
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp salt

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 180C and line a 20cm square tin with baking paper.
2. Make the caramel first by placing the corn syrup, water, and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Do not stir the mixture while it’s boiling. Continue to boil until it thickens and turns a light brown caramel color. Remove from the heat and slowly stir in the cream, vanilla, and salt with a wire whisk. If the caramel clumps unevenly, place back on the stove on low heat, and stir until it becomes smooth. Set to the side to cool completely, or place in the fridge to speed up the cooling time.
3. In a small saucepan, melt together the sugar and butter, pour into a mixing bowl and set aside to cool slightly.
4. Using a hand whisk, beat the egg into the sugar and butter mixture, then the banana and vanilla.
5. Fold in the flour and baking powder and pour into the prepared tin. Pour over 3/4 of the caramel, reserving the rest to spoon over once baked. Sprinkle over the pecans and bake for 30 minutes or until skewer inserted comes out clean.
6. Spoon over the remaining caramel and enjoy!

 

Spare Time Well Spent ~ Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel & Macadamia Praline

chocolate cake with salted caramel buttercream and macadamia praline
Spare time is a dangerous thing… in the best kinda way… ya know..
Well, for me I know I tend to spend that;
a) sitting way too close to the tv watching stupidly entertaining daytime shows (ahh… which is totally not talk shows… yeah…)
b) maybe or maybe not annoying my dog by creating reflections that he chases .. yeah his a crazy kinda dog
or
c) baking. obviously…. for serious extended periods of time, where hours should not be listed here or you would be genuinely convinced that I do nothing other than make a sticky floury mess in the kitchen… which is totally… not…. true.

But on the flip side of this metaphorical coin that is my pointless story, isn’t baking the absolute best way to spend you spare time?
Let’s think about it.
You get to create and put something together (yep, homemade blood sweat and tears), using flavours and ingredients that you love, and then wait for it… you won’t believe it… you get to eat it! BAM! Life is sweet. (pardon the pun)
Homemade goodness that you can enjoy and reap the further rewards of…. Baking is da bomb.

chocolate cake with salted caramel buttercream and macadamia praline
So, that’s exactly what I did my friends! Put my spare time to perfectly good use.
I baked. A Cake. And it twas good.
(yes I did burn my finger from the praline… but they are battle wounds I am willing to endure for the sake of cake. Oh the things I do for you cake.)

It all started on first saturday I had off work in a while, and I spent… well the first half of the day sleeping…gals gotta do what a gals gotta do.
Then I pulled me lazy self out of bed, on a beautiful crisp autumn morning might I add, and kinda headed straight for the kitchen, flour and butter…
And as a perfect saturday would have it, it was the ultimate overcast day, so I could spend the arvo photographing the cake without freaking out that damn direct light was gonna ruin ma groove.
Twas your ultimate saturday I’ll say.

chocolate cake with salted caramel buttercream and macadamia praline
When I was on the hunt for the ultimate cake, I stumbled across this one by the Flourising Foodie.
All my chocolate dreams came true friends…
Cake (moist cake at that), salted caramel (Pools of salted caramel… the best kinda pools), buttercream, with a little macadamia praline that I added just for fun.
A cake most worthy of my spare time. The holy grail of all chocolate cakes. I can officially tick that off my bucket list.
But seriously, this cake is a crowd pleaser, you really can’t go wrong!

Chocolate cake most sadly doesn’t have the most regular occurrence in our house as I wish it would… let’s just say I’m one of the few sweet chocolate tooths that lives here… I don’t get it either…
But when I bake chocolate, boy do I go all out. We’re talkin’ 3 tiers all out. Boo yeah!
(and yep you got it – it was even devoured by the least of chocolate fans! We have officially succeeded at life.)

chocolate cake with salted caramel buttercream and macadamia praline
Chocolate time? Salted Caramel time? Recipe time?
Hellllzzz yeahhhh!!

CHOCOLATE CAKE WITH SALTED CARAMEL AND MACADAMIA PRALINE
recipe adapted from The Flourishing Foodie – Triple Layer Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting

Ingredients

Chocolate Cake:
2 cups granulated sugar
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cups unsweetened natural cocoa powder
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup canola oil/vegetable oil
1 cup whole milk
1 cup boiling water
Salted Caramel:
2 tsp light corn syrup/glucose syrup
4 tbsp water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup cream
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp salt
1 tsp lemon juice
225g (2 sticks butter), softened
4 cups powdered sugar
Maldon salt

Macadamia Praline:
80g (1/2 cup) roasted macadamia nuts, coarsely chopped
155g (3/4 cup) caster sugar
60ml (1/4 cup) water

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 350F/ 175C . Grease and line 3 – 6″ cake pans with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Add the lightly beaten eggs and combine. Add the canola oil and the milk and combine. Stir in the boiling water. Your batter should now be fairly liquid.
3. Divide the batter into the three pans (I weigh it out to get even quantities). Place into the oven and bake for 30 – 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes before removing from their pans. Let them finish cooling on a wire rack.
4. For the Salted Caramel, place the corn syrup, water, and granulated sugar in a small saucepan and combine. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Do not stir the mixture while it’s boiling. Continue to boil until it thickens and turns a light brown caramel color. Remove from the heat and slowly stir in the cream, vanilla, salt, and lemon juice with a wire whisk. If the caramel clumps unevenly, place back on the stove on low heat, and stir until it becomes smooth. Set to the side to cool completely.
5. Meanwhile, make the macadamia praline by lining a baking tray with non-stick baking paper and spreading the macadamia nuts over the tray. Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until the sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium and bring to a simmer. Cook, without stirring, brushing down the side of pan with a brush dipped in water, for 8 minutes or until golden. Pour over the macadamias. Set aside to cool. Break into shards, then blitz in a food processor until coarse.

5. Once the caramel sauce is completely cool, combine the 2 sticks of softened butter, 4 cups powdered sugar, and 3/4 of the caramel together in a mixer and beat until a smooth.
6. Once the cakes have cooled completely, assemble them by cutting off the domed tops to get an even look (optional) and placing an even thick layer of frosting between each layer. Cover the top and sides with the rest of the frosting and smooth out with a spatula. Drizzle the left over salted caramel on top. Finish with a sprinkle of the macadamia and flaked Maldon salt.
(you may have left over praline, so just store it in an air tight container until next opportunity to use is. PS. delicious topping off ice-cream. Just sayin’)

chocolate cake with salted caramel buttercream and macadamia praline
Thanks for stopping by!

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Blood Orange Brown Sugar Sponge with Coconut Cream with Tetley Tea Master’s Selection

Brown Butter Sponge with candied blood orangesWhen it comes to thinking what goes with tea best, it ain’t long before the mind quickly flicks over to a high tea kinda situation (probs cause they both have the word tea in it,… this is clearly an Aussie perspective… obviously… i’ve never even been to an official high tea)
So naturally, when I imagine tea’s besty, I see a whole lotta gorgeous cakes, mini triangle cut cucumber sandwiches and pretty much a baked food heaven.
And also somethin’ English like… like, a sponge!

Also, pretty much me and sponge have an awkward relationship… it involves a lot stare offs, long silences, and nervous folding. I respect ya sponge, but you’re a tough nut to crack.
And sometimes, sponge decides to be nice, and cooperates and even sometimes, if i’m lucky, it’s willing to be fluffy and perfectly edible. I like that kinda sponge…. especially this sponge:Brown Butter Sponge with candied blood orangesAND just as things go (i’d like to say intentionally…), it was Dad’s birthday the day this delish cake was brought into the world and I guess it was all so fitting cause:
– dad taught me how to peel oranges in the cool as spiral… and that’s pretty cool man
– the first cake dad made was a sponge
– plus it’s a cake, and well who doesn’t like cake? (certainly not dad!)
So there you have it folks, a perfectly fitting cake, fit for a celebration.
Happy Belated Birthday Dad/Clifton Springs! (that nickname has a long story behind it….)

Oh yes! Can we also plezzzz talk about this whipped coconut cream for a minute?
It’s actually a mixture of total deliciousness and heaven… delicious coconutty heaven.
So simple, so easy, and can be used for all your coconutty flavour needs! (Oh She Glows has some great tips to making it)
And incase you didn’t notice, yes, I kinda do have a coconut obsession… blame it on the warm weather…
As you can remember from here and here, it ain’t something I take lightly.

Brown Butter Sponge with candied blood orangesAnyways, your probs wondering why I start this post by talking about tea, cause that was a bit random hey. Well, I was sent an awesome package from Tetley Tea with their new Tetley Tea Master’s Selection (lucky me!!)
This range Tetley’s tea isn’t just any old tea, so I made a sponge that wasn’t just any old sponge… ya followin’ me? (i can be confusing at times…)

Tetley Tea Master's RangeIn the collection you’ve got:
Assam (a lush tropical rainforest climate in northern India) deliciously ‘woody and earthy’.
Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) perfectly going with the sponge being ‘crisp and floral’.
Kenyan (in Africa) my favourite one with wonderful ‘nutty and sweet’ flavour notes.

This is gonna sound a bit cray cray, but, I kid you not, trying these different types of teas literally took me to the places! Such attention to detail… such good flavours in one mug.
Forget English Breakfast, think Assam Breakfast!
I know how I’m kicking off my days from now on (*cough cough* has something to do with Tetley…)

All up, from the tea rookie I am, I was blown away with this fantastic range of original teas which tick all the boxes! Go Tetley!
tetley teaSo I guess it’s time for a recipe, right? 😀

BLOOD ORANGE BROWN SUGAR SPONGE WITH COCONUT CREAM
(Sponge recipe adapted from Gourmet Traveller, Blood Orange Caramel recipe adapted from Gourmet Traveller)

Ingredients

Blood Orange Caramel:
zest of 2 blood oranges
1 1/2 cup caster sugar
1 tablespoon golden syrup
250ml water + another 80ml
125ml blood orange juice (around 2 oranges)

Brown Sugar Sponge:
6 eggs, at room temperature
80g each brown sugar and caster sugar
Scraped seeds of 1 vanilla bean
150g plain flour, triple-sieved
1/8 tsp baking powder
60g butter, melted and cooled

Candied Blood Oranges:
3 cups water
1 cup sugar
2 blood oranges, sliced

Coconut Whipped Cream:
150g coconut cream (from around 1 can coconut milk) tips for getting this here
150g thickened cream

1/3 cup coconut chips toasted to garnish

Method:

1. Starting with the Blood Orange Caramel remove orange rind with a zester. Juice the oranges setting the juice aside.
2. Stir orange zest, sugar, golden syrup and water in a saucepan over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves, bring to the simmer and cook until a crimson-coloured caramel forms (40-45 minutes).
3. Add a pinch of salt, reserved juice and 80ml water (be careful, hot caramel will spit). Swirl to combine and refrigerate until cooled completely (30 minutes).
4. Whilst the caramel is cooking, make the Brown Sugar Sponges. Preheat oven to 180C and line two 20cm cake tins.
5. Whisk eggs, sugars and vanilla seeds on high speed in an electric mixer until mixture is tripled in volume and holds a trail (10-12 minutes).
6. Transfer to a large bowl, sift over flour and baking powder in two batches, gently fold to combine, then fold in butter.
7. Divide among 2 cake tins and bake, swapping tins halfway through cooking, until cakes are dark golden and centres spring back when gently pressed (15-20 minutes). Cool slightly in tins, then turn out and cool completely on a wire rack.
8. While the cake is baking and cooling, prepare the Candied Blood Oranges by combining the water and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the orange slices and cook over moderate heat, until the liquid is reduced to a thin syrup and the orange slices are translucent, about 20 minutes.
6. Reduce the heat to moderately low and simmer until the syrup is thick and the slices are tender but still intact, about 10 minutes. Transfer the orange slices to a rack to cool. Reserve the syrup for another use.
7. For the Coconut Whipped Cream, in separate bowls or one after the other, whip the coconut cream and thickened cream, then fold together to combine.
8. To assemble; place one Brown Butter Sponge on a plate/cake stand and spread over half the Coconut Whipped Cream, then top with the other cake, and spread over the remaining Coconut Whipped Cream. Top with the Candied Blood Orange, and sprinkle over the toasted coconut.
Serve immediately with the Blood Orange Caramel (if left for too long, the sponge will absorb moisture and not be ideal to eat… warning from the experienced old sponge eater)
9. Enjoy! 😀

** NOTE; you can make both the Blood Orange Caramel and Candied Blood Oranges ahead of time, days in advance.

blood orangeBrown Butter Sponge with candied blood oranges
Thanks for stopping by!
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