Roasted Strawberry Almond Crumble {gf/df}

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With all the fresh fruit in season throughout summer, it would be fair to say I’ve been a little overwhelmed… what to cook, what to share, what to feature on the blog? Cherries, peaches, or plums? Apricots, mango, or strawberries? Yes, how about strawberries? Strawberries are awesome, not least because you can get them year round. In the end the decision was made for me, when, in the very last week of the school holidays, we went strawberry picking and brought home the bounty. Sweet!

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Fruit snob that I am, I made sure to pick only the very best berries; red and ripe, shiny and bright. Perfect for snacking, and perfect for bribing a certain toddler who doesn’t want to eat his dinner, they aren’t too bad roasted, either. I hadn’t actually roasted strawberries before, though I had wanted to for some time. And I’m so glad I did. This must be the easiest dessert out there (apart from fresh fruit, of course)! Just hull the strawberries, sprinkle with sugar and mix up your favourite crumble topping.

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Although sorely tempted to add oats and coconut, I was restrained and chose an easy, shortbread-like crumble this time, because it complements the jammy fruit so well! Simply mix together flour, sugar, butter and almonds, cover the sweetened strawberries, bake for 30 minutes, and eat without guilt. There’s very little fat or sugar here… okay, there is some… but I’m guessing not more than your favourite boxed cereal. There – that was all the excuse I needed – I’m having leftovers for breakfast!

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Roasted Strawberry Almond Crumble {gf/df}
Red, ripe strawberries are roasted till just tender and topped with a buttery, crisp crumble topping.

Serves 4 (apparently!)

Ingredients
375g (13 oz) strawberries, hulled, halved
2 tablespoons caster (super-fine) sugar
1-2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
½ cup brown rice flour or other gf flour of choice
2 level tablespoons (35g) Nuttelex (dairy-free spread)
2 tablespoons flaked almonds

Method
Preheat oven to 180degC (160C fan forced). Lightly grease a 16cm x 26cm shallow roasting pan. Add strawberries and half the caster sugar. Add a splash of balsamic vinegar and toss to coat.

Combine flour and remaining sugar in a medium bowl. Add Nuttelex. Using fingertips, rub Nuttelex into flour mixture until mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add flaked almonds. Stir to combine. Sprinkle over strawberry mixture, pressing together with fingers to make small lumps.

Bake for 30 minutes or until strawberries are fragrant and crumble topping is golden and crisp. Serve with vanilla custard or yoghurt.

Notes
Variations: Use any kind of nuts you like, including walnuts, pecans, macadamias and hazelnuts.
Divide mixture into 4 x 1/2 cup (125ml-capacity) ramekins to make individual crumbles.
Add a can of pie apple for extra fibre and sweetness.
If you don’t have a 16cm x 26cm pan, a 9 x 9-inch pan will suffice.

Adapted from Taste.com.au

Pumpkin, Orange and Cranberry Spelt Muffins

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With all this baking, friends often ask me how I don’t get fat. Breast feeding has certainly helped, but the most common answer is, “I give it all away”. Hubby was searching for baked goodies to pack in his work lunch the other day, and I had to tell him that there were none. In the previous week, I’d made banana muffins – and given them away. Then there was banana bread – that I’d taken to mums group. I’ve been making lots of icy poles, too, but you can’t exactly pack them in your lunch box.

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Clearly, it was time to make some lunchbox snacks. It could have been any number of recipes… such as Muesli Biscuits or Chewy Fruit and Seed Slice, but there was a quick bread recipe I wanted to perfect. It could be said that I’ve filled my quota of muffin recipes here on the blog… Pear, Chocolate and Ginger Muffins, Ham, Corn and Polenta Muffins, Carrot and Pineapple Muffins… the list goes on. But I’ve been working on this recipe for so long now and finally got it just how I want it.

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It’s inspired by a cake I’ve made over the years, that often elicits a bemused response. ‘Pumpkin and Prune Cake’ is a good, old-fashioned fruit cake and has just the consistency I prefer in a cake – quite damp without being heavy. But big cakes need big crowds to be enjoyed properly, so I’ve moved onto muffins. Big cakes also often require a mixer, and we all know how much I love using a mixer (not so much)! So, this is my adapted version of an old favourite, now a one-bowl affair and dairy-free.

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Pumpkin, Orange & Cranberry Spelt Muffins

Makes 18 muffins

Ingredients
1 cup wholemeal spelt flour
½ cup brown rice flour
½ cup buckwheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon mixed spice (pumpkin pie spice), plus more for sprinkling on top
2/3 cup dried cranberries or other add-ins, as desired
⅓ cup melted coconut oil or extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
¼ cup honey or maple syrup
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup pumpkin purée*
1 whole orange, pureed (approx ¾ cup)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pepitas (pumpkin seeds), for sprinkling on top

Method
Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius (350 degrees Fahrenheit). Line 18 regular (½-cup) muffins tins with muffin papers. Quarter the orange, remove pithy core and any seeds and process in a blender for 1 minute. If still chunky, scrape down sides and blitz until smooth. Set aside.

Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon into a large bowl, and then add oat bran and cranberries/other add-ins. In a separate bowl, beat the oil, sugar and honey together with a whisk. Add eggs, and beat well. Mix in the pumpkin purée and orange, followed by the vanilla extract.

Fold the wet mixture into the flour and oat bran and mix with a large spoon, just until combined. Divide the batter evenly between the muffin cups, filling ¾ full. Sprinkle the tops of the muffins with a small amount of pepitas, followed by a sprinkle of mixed spice.

Bake muffins for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean. Allow to cool in tins for a few minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Adapted liberally from Cookie and Kate

Notes.
* Often when I buy a pumpkin, it will be too large to use in one meal. So often I’ll roast half for a salad, and then boil up the rest for puree. The puree, once cooled, stores well in the freezer, and I have a ready supply for cakes and desserts.

*Use a Kent or Japanese pumpkin, Queensland Blue or any pumpkin aside from Butternut squash, which tends to be too watery.

Sweet Spiced Apricot and Yoghurt Icy Poles

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Hard to believe, but it will be redhotcentre‘s 10th birthday in July this year! At first this space was designed to be a travel log, then an online journal, and now finally a recipe blog. In the first few years of posting recipes, I would sometimes only make things once before taking photos and uploading them. But then, once friends actually started making my recipes, I became a lot more careful about getting a recipe just right before sharing! These days they are ‘tried-and-tested’; in the old days not so much!

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Some of the older recipes needed re-visiting, and as apricots are in season, I started with my Apricot Lassi Icy Poles. This time, I wanted to use fresh fruit, rather than stewed. I also wanted them to be sweeter, and less icy. Luckily, I had done my research and discovered that the secret to a smooth, creamy texture is the addition of simple syrup (thanks, Smitten Kitchen)! With a few tweaks here and there, I’ve come up with a slightly more complex but oh, so much more delicious version of the same.

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If you’ve never made simple syrup before, don’t be daunted! It’s quite straightforward, and will be the key to making your ice confections creamier… dreamier. Once the syrup is made, it’s simply a matter of mixing that in with tart, creamy yoghurt and then layering that with fresh pureed apricots. Place the filled moulds in the freezer, and your work is done; all that is left now is to wait. And believe me when I say it’ll be worth the wait… these are a summery dream to eat and only slightly unhealthy.

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Sweet Spiced Apricot and Yoghurt Icy Poles
Tart, creamy yoghurt flavoured with cardamom sugar syrup pairs beautifully with bright, orange fresh pureed apricot – a summery dream to eat and only slightly unhealthy.

Makes 10

Ingredients
2 cups (approx. 300g) chopped apricots (tinned apricots are a suitable substitute)
2 tablespoons runny honey
1 tablespoon lemon juice
10g (2 tablespoons) whole cardamom pods
½ cup water
½ cup white (granulated) sugar
1 ½ cups plain, unsweetened Greek-style yoghurt
½ cup crushed pistachios, to coat (optional)

Method
Place chopped apricots in a glass bowl; add honey and lemon juice and stir to combine. Set aside.

Place cardamom pods and water in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Lower heat, then add sugar, stirring until fully dissolved. Gently simmer for 5 minutes more. Strain out pods and chill syrup completely. You can do this in the fridge, but it’s quicker if you set the bowl of syrup in a larger bowl of iced water. Within 15 minutes, it should be quite cold to the touch.

Whisk yogurt and 1/3 cup chilled syrup together; set aside.

Place the apricot mixture, and any juices that have accumulated, in a blender and process until desired texture (you should have about 1 cup puree). Assemble icy poles by alternately pouring a little of the yoghurt mixture, then a little of the apricot mixture into each mould, repeating as desired until you reach ½ centimetre (¼ inch) from the tops (to leave room for expansion as they freeze).

If using conventional moulds, snap on the lid and freeze until solid, 3 to 4 hours. If using glasses or other unconventional moulds, freeze until the pops are beginning to set (45 minutes to 1 hour), then insert the sticks and freeze until solid, 3 to 4 hours. If using an instant ice pop maker, follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

To remove icy poles from moulds, dip in a basin of warm water for a few seconds, and then pull and twist to unmould. Once out, dip in crushed pistachios and devour immediately or place on a tray lined with plastic wrap. Re-freeze until firm again then package individually in zip lock bags. That way, you free up more space in your freezer, and can keep making more awesome flavoured icy poles throughout summer!

Note. These will be just as nice (quicker, but not quite as pretty) if you process ALL the ingredients together in the blender before pouring into the moulds.

Adapted from the Smitten Kitchen

Salted Double Chocolate Cookies {gf}

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Yikes! It’s 2016, and already I’m behind the eight-ball! This summer I had every intention of posting dozens of salad recipes, icy poles and ice creams, but alas, I barely had time to make Christmas gifts, let alone test new recipes. One gets caught up in the busy-ness of the season and before you know it, it’s mid-January and nary a salad in sight! It’s fortuitous then, that I have this recipe up my sleeve. These cookies have been on stand-by for months, just waiting for their opportunity to shine.

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Featured once already on this blog, I have felt for some time that these decadent cookies were worth sharing again, but with less chilli (and no lime). Lindt has caught onto it, but most people outside of Asia probably don’t understand the need to pair sugar with chilli and salt, so here they are – reverse-engineered for the western palate. There have been mixed reactions to the pinch of chilli I still throw in … some want more kick, some want none. Whether or not you leave it in, is entirely up to you!

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Coming a close second to my all-time favourite peanut butter choc chip cookies, these are a popular and elegant addition to any shared lunch or dinner with friends (forget the salad!). The mix doesn’t make a huge batch, so that even if you don’t get around to sharing, they won’t hang around for long!

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Salted Double Chocolate Cookies
I’ve made several batches of these, and can say with some certainty that 70% dark chocolate works best, for that soft brownie texture. If you like your cookies slightly less dark, you could substitute some of the cocoa for tapioca starch instead. I like mine with a pinch of chilli powder, but if you’re not that way inclined, then by all means, leave it out!

Makes about 24 cookies

Ingredients
200g (8oz) dark chocolate (70% cocoa)
60g (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter
2 medium eggs
120g (2/3 cup) caster sugar
20g (just less than 3 tablespoons) cocoa powder (or starch such as tapioca)
½ teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon chili powder (optional)
Pinch salt
150g (2/3 cup) dark chocolate chips
Coarse sea salt, crushed (for sprinkling)

Method
In a bowl set over a pan of simmering water, gently melt together the chocolate and butter until smooth and set aside to cool slightly. In a separate bowl with a whisk or electric mixer, beat together the eggs and sugar until thick and creamy and then fold in the melted chocolate. In small bowl, sift together cocoa, baking powder, chili powder and salt; stir into chocolate mixture. Gently mix in chocolate chips.

Chill the dough for about an hour and then preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Line a baking tray with non-stick paper or a silicon mat.

Scoop dough by level tablespoon, then roll into balls. Place balls on lined baking sheet; sprinkle with crushed sea salt, and flatten slightly. Bake for about 10 – 12 minutes until firm and shiny. Allow to set a little before transferring to a wire rack to cool.

Adapted from my Choc-Chilli Brownie Cookies

Fudgy Lemon, Coconut and White Chocolate Blondies {gf}

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Hands up if you have an Instagram addiction. Guilty as charged! I love scrolling through the beautiful images, being inspired by what other foodies are doing around the globe, and learning a few tips and tricks along the way. The other day I read a blogger’s profile which began…. “Recipe developer” … and it got me thinking, “I could add that to my profile too!” After all, there is not often a recipe that I’m willing to leave unchanged, and then there are those that are created off the cuff …. like this one.

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I had some home-grown lemons that needed using up, and mums group the next day, so really the only excuses I will ever need to bake something! But that day I was feeling rather slap-dash, and couldn’t be bothered looking up a recipe. There are those who say you need to follow a recipe when baking, but when you’ve baked as much and for as long as me, perhaps sometimes, and especially this time, it might work out okay. I mean, what can go wrong really, with a cake that supposed to be fudgy?

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With a bit of this, and a bit of that, some lemon rind, lemon juice, sugar, butter, eggs and white chocolate… it came together quickly. I did consider making a paleo version, but there wasn’t enough almond meal. Using what I had, namely, coconut, almond meal, rice flour, maize flour and this recipe as my reference. If only I had written down the quantities! There was no choice but to make it again, and test it out on my eager guinea-pigs err, friends. This, the official version, got the two thumbs up.

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Fudgy Lemon, Coconut and White Chocolate Blondies {gf}

Serves 16

Ingredients
150g white chocolate
100g unsalted butter
½ cup gluten-free plain flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
Pinch salt
1 cup almond meal
1 cup desiccated coconut
¾ cup caster sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon rind
¼ cup lemon juice
2 eggs, beaten

For the glaze
1 cup pure icing sugar, sifted
5 teaspoons lemon juice

Method
Preheat oven to 175degC/347F. Grease and line base and two sides of a 20x20cm (8 x 8-inch) cake tin with non-stick baking paper.

Melt the butter in a saucepan or the microwave. Remove from heat, add chocolate and stir until smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.

Meanwhile, sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Add coconut and almond meal, sugar and lemon rind. Stir in beaten eggs and lemon juice. Finally, add the melted butter and chocolate, and stir until flour streaks disappear (do not beat).

Pour mixture into prepared cake tin and bake for 25 minutes, or until edges turn golden brown and cake is dry to touch. Leave in tin to cool completely before cutting into squares to serve. Remove pieces to a wire rack set over a sheet or two of old newspaper, to add glaze.

To make the glaze, sift icing sugar into a large bowl and add lemon juice slowly, until you reach desired consistency. Spoon the glaze into a small zip lock bag before snipping off a tiny piece of one corner and piping over the blondie squares. Allow to set before serving.

Inspired by Dr Oetker

Lemon, Date and Coconut No-Bake Truffles

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Desperate times call for desperate measures. Well, not actually. But there were a ton of home-grown lemons just waiting to be made into cake, and not one but two packets of Weet-Bix that were not going to be eaten anytime soon (young son has moved his allegiance to Rice Bubbles), so what was a mamma to do, on a very hot Sunday when baking was prohibited, but to mix up a batch of no-bake Weet-Bix truffles. Only, I wasn’t in the mood to make Rum Balls.

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Lovely as they are, I was hoping for something a little different this time, perhaps with a little more tang. So, in went lemon juice and rind with sticky condensed milk, crushed cereal and chopped dates, coconut and coconut milk powder. The result is super-yum. If you’re a fan of the classic Lemon Coconut Slice like I am, then you’ll love this. The zesty lemon flavour completely overpowers any Weet-Bix flavour so that even Weet-Bix haters like me will happily devour them!

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The timing is perfect, too, as I had been pondering for days what to make for our mums’ group annual cookie swap. Last year I made batches of Sarah’s amazing Chewy Italian Almond Macadamia Cookies to give to friends and neighbours, and this year I’ll be making truffles. Quick and easy with no need to turn the oven on; zesty and tangy, creamy and sweet; this riff on an Australian classic may just be your new favourite snack to make this summer!

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Lemon, Date and Coconut No-Bake Truffles
Zesty and tangy, creamy and sweet, this riff on an Australian classic may just be your new favourite snack to make this summer!

Makes 30

Ingredients
150g (1 cup) chopped dried pitted dates
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
9 Weet-Bix or Vita Brits (170g/6 oz)*
1 x 395g can sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons coconut milk powder
2 tablespoons desiccated coconut
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon rind (zest)

¾ cup desiccated coconut, to coat

Method
Place the chopped dates in a medium heatproof bowl. Add the lemon juice, stir to coat, cover and cook in the microwave on HIGH for 2 minutes. Alternatively, cook lemon juice and dates over low heat until liquid is completely absorbed and dates are soft. Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, crush the Weet-Bix into a large mixing bowl. Stir in the sweetened condensed milk, coconut milk powder, desiccated coconut, lemon rind, and finally the dates and lemon juice. Cover and place in the fridge for half an hour until firm enough to roll.

Scoop into 1 tablespoon portions, roll into balls and toss in desiccated coconut. Store in refrigerator for a few days, or in the freezer until you eat them all.

*Note. If you don’t have/can’t eat/don’t like Weet-Bix, try making these with crushed sweet biscuits or cake crumbs instead!

Adapted from my {Weet-Bix} Rum Balls

Chewy Italian Almond Macadamia Cookies {gf/df}

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Have you ever met a person who is just so naturally gifted that it blows your mind? Introducing the lovely Sarah, who is and has always been an absolute natural when it comes to creating gorgeous food and aesthetics. With a natural flair and an eye for composition, texture and beauty, she has always delighted in discovering op-shop treasures, retro fittings that don’t cost the earth that placed in just the right position make her home look like it came out of a magazine – for a fraction of the cost.

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She has always been an incredible cook, even before training as a chef. I have memories of sampling her citrus tart, and drooling over a plate of fresh pineapple, macerated in sugar and chopped mint leaves. This recipe is her own, adapted from a classic Italian recipe while living in an Italian farming community in far north Queensland. Now working as a chef, and with a house full of growing girls, Sarah doesn’t have time to blog. So, I’m sharing this fantastic recipe on her behalf.

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I made dozens of these last year for a cookie swap, so that by the time Christmas came, I wasn’t really in the mood to blog them. But I made a note to share them in time for Christmas this year, and I’ll be making another batch soon. We have instituted a tradition of sharing food gifts with our neighbours, and this year will be no different. Sometimes it opens the door to an ongoing friendship; sometimes it just means we get to chat once a year. I made these last year, and got loads of positive feedback.

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Chewy Italian Almond Macadamia Cookies {gf/df}

Makes at least 50 cookies

Ingredients
5 large egg whites
500g almond meal*
500g caster sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 cup icing sugar
Macadamias / dark chocolate

Method
Preheat oven to 170degC. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper. With a whisk or fork, beat egg whites and vanilla until foamy. Combine almond meal, caster sugar and baking powder in a bowl. Make a well in centre, then add beaten egg whites to almond meal gradually, mixing all the time. Use a wooden spoon and begin at the centre of the bowl, mixing with a circular motion that becomes larger as ingredients become blended. Do not overmix; as this will toughen the dough (mixture is quite stiff).

Place icing sugar mixture in a shallow bowl. Take the dough 1 tbsp at a time and roll into balls, then roll each ball in the icing sugar mixture to lightly coat. Arrange on prepared trays. Press nut or choc or both, half into the centre of each biscuit.

Bake for 15 minutes, until risen, cracked and very lightly coloured.

Cool for 5 mins on tray before removing to wire rack to cool completely.

Notes
*I used the rougher version of almond meal, including the husk, and needed 6 egg whites as a result. If using the whiter, blanched version of almond meal (almond flour), use 5 as per original recipe.