It has been my privilege to host Sweet New Zealand this month - a monthly blog event, created by the lovely Alessandra Zecchini, which offers an opportunity for all Kiwi bloggers (whether you are living in New Zealand or overseas), as well as for non-Kiwi bloggers living in New Zealand, to connect and share some of those sweet treats from your kitchen. There have been some absolutely wonderful entries this months, and I have certainly enjoyed discovering and visiting a few blogs that I hadn't known about before. Thanks to all of you for participating.
The first entry in was from Alessandra Zecchini from her Only Recipes blog - she shared a Dark Chocolate & Fig Cake. Alessandra was lucky enough to be able to forage a supply of figs in her neighbourhood. Having only moved into our house a couple of months ago, I was thrilled to discover that my next door neighbour has a fig tree right beside our fence, and they don't eat them! As soon as those little green fruit I see forming are ready, you can be sure I will be trying this cake.
On her Vegan Recipes (and best vegan dinners) blog Alessandra also shared a fresh, tropical Papaya, Lime & Mint Salad. I love papaya - it is one of my absolute favourite fruits. It is a bit of luxury to have here in New Zealand though, so I always love travelling to the tropics or Asia and having the opportunity to eat it everyday! Alessandra is right - a squeeze of lime over a piece of papaya completely elevates the flavour - love the idea of adding some mint.
Vanille from @ Down Under came up with a real ode to spring, in the form of these beautiful "edible tulips" - a lovely fresh fruit salad, served in these delicate, crispy Tulipe Biscuits. I'm so in awe of the ability to be able to craft something so beautifully elegant - I'm pretty sure that, were I to try this, my efforts would result in something resembling shoe leather.
Frances from Bake Club came up with a Gluten-Free Vegan Date Loaf. I love dates, and I really don't know why I don't use them more often. Personally, I'm lucky enough not to be wheat or gluten intolerant, but I have friends and relatives who are and I'm always on the look-out for recipes to share with them or to prepare when they come to visit - this one definitely makes the list.
For some obscure reason, I hadn't visited Lisa's wonderful blog, Sunday Hotpants, for quite awhile, so it was such a delight to have her join in here at Sweet New Zealand and to have the opportunity to reconnect. Despite everything the kitchen gods threw at her recently (I swear I would have just given up and wept), she still managed to produce this family favourite Chocolate Birthday Cake for her Dad's birthday. Do go and read her funny and touching story and learn why this cake holds a special place in her heart - thanks for sharing it with us, Lisa.
You can always rely on the lovely Emma from my darling lemon thyme to come up with something truly inspirational. Her blog is a place I often visit when I'm looking for inspiration - seeking something outside the box - this Strawberry, Black Pepper & Thyme Cordial is no exception. I haven't had my first strawberries of the season yet - they're still just a bit pricey down this way - but as soon as they're abundant I will definitely be trying this combination of flavours.
Do you sometimes wonder, were the house to catch on fire, what would be one of the first things you would grab before you ran out of the house? Or, were your house to be burgled, what one kitchen gadget would you not want them to take? My answer would be my ice cream maker. I love ice cream, all year round (even in the depths of winter), and I love making my own. I'm always on the look out for a new recipe, so when Mairi from Toast submitted her Raspberry Ripple Ice Cream it went immediately into the bookmark list. The great thing about this recipe is that you can use fresh or frozen raspberries, which makes it just perfect for enjoying all year round.
Are there any two words that belong together more than "caramel" and "chocolate"? After Taste is a new-to-me blog, but when she shared her Baked Caramel & Chocolate Slice I knew that this was a blog I was going to want to know a little better. This recipe seems a little different to what I would expect from a caramel slice, and I can't wait to try it.
American-living-in-Kiwiland blogger, Christina from Gninword on, is mourning the absence of pureed pumpkin in a can in this country. She consoled herself by taking an Antipodean classic (sticky date pudding); adding a bit of chocolate (well if you're consoling yourself, why wouldn't you?); turning said classic pudding into cupcakes; and topping the whole lot off with a butterscotch buttercream frosting. Go and check out her Chocolate Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake and Cupcakes - seems like she's kind of over the pumpkin thing, don't you think?
I don't know why I never think of using my slow cooker for desserts, but somehow it only tends to get used for soups and slow cooking chickpeas and beans. I was thrilled when Barbara from winosandfoodies produced this Slow Cooker Recipe for Pears in Caramel. This is absolutely my kind of dessert - quite apart from the fact that pears and caramel sauce are such a wonderful combination (which could only possibly be made better by the addition of some vanilla ice cream), but the idea of just popping everything in the crockpot and forgetting about it for a couple of hours really works for me!
Style-goddess, Bron Marshall faced off against a wet and wild day with Spanish Churros and Hot Chocolate. Yes, it is spring in New Zealand, but the weather can still turn to crap for another month or so. I have eaten churros before in Barcelona - a decadent street food treat - but I have never been brave enough to try making them myself. Bron's recipe certainly makes them sound achievable, and doesn't that photo make you want to just dive head first into that bowl of hot chocolate? Oh, come on, I know I'm not the only one!
Bunny. Eats. Design. admits to being a terrible baker. Now I've told you before that I'm convinced that there is a gene for baking, and that by some birth defect I too am a terrible baker. Quite possibly we were twins, separated at birth. Still, I've got to hand it to her for ingenuity - what can you do when light, fluffy baking is just not in your repertoire? Bake something hard of course! These Chocolate Espresso Biscotti are the perfect solution - I'm inspired - clearly she is the smart twin.
Zo from Two Spoons made this gorgeous Pear & Kamahi Honey Frangipane Tart. To be honest, when I first saw this picture it looked decidedly outside of my skill set (note comments above), but Zo provides loads of really useful information and advice in this post - so much so that even I think I could give this a go ... maybe! This would undoubtedly be a very classy and elegant dessert to serve for a special occasion.
These Kahikatea Cupcakes from Alessandra Zecchini were a complete revelation to me. I have never seen kahikatea berries, and I had no idea that you could eat them. Alessandra has baked them into a simple vanilla cupcake, and added a few more on top for decoration. The berries look so pretty - rather like pomegranate seeds - though she says the taste is a little sweeter than pomegranate. I need to go and find a kahikatea tree now!
"I love dates" says Alli from Pease Pudding, and so do I. I totally love the look of these Date, Walnut & Orange Blossom Moroccan Inspired Treats and the fact that they contain no added sugar, no flour, no dairy, and NO BAKING, means surely that even I couldn't make a disaster of these. These are so on my list of things to try. Bunny. Eats. Design. - are you reading this?
These Pink Rose Cupcakes from Kirsten at High Tea with Dragons would have to be just about one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. That anyone can do anything so beautiful with a simple cupcake and a bit of icing just astounds me. Kirsten says this is easier than it looks, and includes an excellent step by step tutorial which does actually make it look fairly straight forward ... but I know my limits. I'd struggle to create a decent cupcake to go under the icing - I totally take my hat off to you Kirsten.
Now this I know I could do. This beautiful, refreshing Mandarin Ice Cream from Lucy at The KitchenMaid is right up my street. At the risk of repeating myself, I love ice cream. I love citrus flavours. What's more this ice cream uses just three ingredients, and doesn't even need churning, so if that aforementioned burglar happens to make off with your ice cream maker you'll have no trouble with this one.
Lesley from eat, etc... set out to capture some childhood memories with a Dark Sticky Gingerbread. Gingerbread is one of my all time favourites and I can't wait to give this intriguing recipe a try. This recipe has some surprising ingredients, which I think will ensure this gingerbread will really lend itself to my favourite way to enjoy this treat - with a dried fig compote and a piece of blue cheese. Hey, don't knock it till you've tried it - trust me, it works!
And the final entry for the month came from Mel at Treehouse Kitchen, who produced this insanely good looking Caramel & Macadamia Cheesecake. The recipe is from the Ottolenghi cookbook, which I know is a favourite book amongst so many of us. Despite a few kitchen disasters along the way, Mel still managed to make this look amazing, and immediately I saw this post I had to drag my Ottolenghi book down off the shelf and bookmark this recipe.
Of course, I mustn't forget my own entries, which were firstly Gabrielle's Sticky Lemon Squares. This was an old post, but it is such a favourite of mine, and with a fair amount of citrus fruit still around, I couldn't resist the opportunity to share.
I also shared a tart, refreshing Cranberry Sorbet - totally worth making if only to gaze upon something of such extraordinary colour.
Well, that's it everyone. I'm sure you'll all agree there are some stunning sweet treats amongst that lot, and now it's my pleasure to hand the baton off to Mairi at Toast who is going to be your host for the month of November.