Caramel slice

Ah the caramel slice, or, in Misanthropic Hostessland, the baked good formerly known as JB Bars.

Way back when I first encountered these, I thought the middle was a penuche, or brown sugar fudge. While I’m a fan of the penuche variation, the mana-like substance that makes up the middle layer of this variation is actually a caramel made of sweetened condensed milk.

Think dulce de leche.

Ah!  Now I have your attention.

In this take on the treat, the shortbread base includes coconut.  If you haven’t already clued-in,  coconut is like the Australian version of Frank’s Hot Sauce.  They put that s*&t in just about everything.

But back to the caramel.  In this version, sweetened condensed milk is heated along with some butter and golden syrup (also in everything Australian) until everything is combined.  Then it is baked on top of the shortbread base until it looks like Deadpool without the mask.  Trust me, though it be ugly, it’ll taste exactly like you imagine Ryan Reynolds tastes.

I had a tough time getting this part just right.  I went through four iterations before I was brave enough to leave it in the oven long enough to let it set up.

Once cooled, the unsightly caramel gets a gorgeous layer of chocolate.

The recipe below makes a 9X9 inch square.  It won’t seem like enough–but –cut these into 1X1ish inch squares.  The term decadent could take a lesson from these bad boys.

Store them in the fridge.  However, they’re safe at room temp (they’ll just loosen up a little…kind of like I do when thinking about what Ryan Reynolds smells like).

Speaking of Ryan Reynolds–TD and I saw the most recent Deadpool movie in Australia.  Guess what?  Not the least bit different from going to the movies in the U.S.

Caramel Slice

Recipe cobbled together from several.  Read through before you start baking!


for the shortbread base

  • 1 C (150G) all purpose flour
  • ½ C (40G) desiccated or shredded and chopped coconut
  • 1/2 C (about 125G) unsalted butter, melted
  • ½ C (90G) golden brown sugar

for the caramel

  • 1/2 C (about 125G) unsalted butter
  • 2 X 395G cans sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/3 C (115G) golden syrup (light corn syrup will work)


  • 1/2 C (200g) semisweet chocolate, chopped or chips
  • TBS vegetable oil


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Line 9X9 pan with parchment going both ways so that there is 2 inches overhanging the lip of the pan all the way around (see photo above).  Oil parchment
  2. Sift flour into a medium sized bowl.
  3. Add-in coconut butter and brown sugar until everything is just combined (dough will be very soft and moist–it won’t feel like shortbread)
  4. Press dough into prepared pan and bake for 20 minutes until golden on top.
  5. While base is cooking, melt butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan on very low heat.
  6. Stir-in milk and golden syrup.  Bring heat up to low-medium and stir for 8 minutes until mixture is slightly thickened (the difference is subtle).
  7. Once shortbread base is out of the oven, pour caramel over.  Return to oven and bake for at least 30 minutes.  The top should be golden and while it will still have some jiggle, it shouldn’t be liquid.  Err on the side of over-done here.
  8. Refrigerate until completely cool.
  9. Melt chocolate and vegetable oil together.  Pour over chilled caramel.
  10. Refrigerate until set-up (ideally at least a couple of hours)
  11. Cut into 1 inch slices (you’ll be tempted to go bigger but these are very rich).
  12.  Store in an airtight container in the fridge.
  13. Will keep up to 5 days.

Is it a cookie or is it porn?

We’re still in Australia.

I spent the first half of my trip to Australia in Sydney for work.  We were based right in the middle of the CBD with access to all of the great shops, restaurants and, of course, coffee spots.

Australians take their coffee very seriously.  Home of the flat white, Australia has a vibrant coffee culture and with it, all of the bits and goodies associated with a strong cup.  It was early in the week and my travel partner (and frequent Australia traveller) noted that she was on the hunt for a melting moment.

“A what?” I asked as my 15-year-old-boy mind immediately went somewhere sexual.

Much to the disappointment of my pubescent brain, a melting moment is not a sex toy, but a sandwich cookie.

Often lemon, these little treats entail two shortbread cookies that bookend a generous dab of buttercream filling.  Once identified, I saw them at just about every coffee shop, bar and kiosk, often stacked invitingly in big glass jars.

Turns out, melting moments are also known as Yo-Yos.  In fact, they are the first recipe in Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh’s 2017 volume, Sweet.  Helen Goh is the pastry chef for Yotam Ottolenghi’s namesake restaurant, Ottolenghi, in London.  And, she’s originally from Australia.  This is a fantastic cookbook and while it was already sitting on my shelf before I left for Australia, it wasn’t until earlier this summer–and after I made the batch shown here–that I discovered her recipe (more on this cookbook and my current favorite chocolate cake in a couple of weeks).  The recipe below is actually modified from a mango version I found on Food 52.

Now that I know about Ms. Goh’s  Yo-Yo recipe, I promise to make them as well.  In the name of research of course.

Melting Moments

adapted just slightly from a recipe for Mango Melting Moments   by Emiko on the Food 52 site.

makes 12 completed cookies (this recipe doubles well)


For the cookies:

  • 2/3 C (80 grams) confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 C (250 grams) of all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 C (75 grams) cornstarch
  • 1 C (250 grams or 8 ounces) butter, softened
  • 1/2 vanilla bean (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
  • Finely grated and then chopped zest of 1 lemon

For the lemon buttercream:

  • 1/4 C (65 grams) butter, softened
  • 1 C (125 grams) confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 TBS (or more to taste) fresh lemon juice


  1. Preheat the oven to 320° F (160° C).  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment
  2. Sift sugar, flour, and cornstarch together in a large bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, cream together the butter, vanilla, and lemon zest. When creamy and soft, combine with the flour mixture and begin folding together with a spatula or by hand. Continue combining the mixture until you have a perfectly smooth, soft ball of dough. Be patient, it will take a few minutes.
  4. Roll into walnut-sized balls or use (try to get the same size each time; about 2 level teaspoons-worth is ideal) and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper about 1 1/2 to 2 inches apart.
  5. With the tines of a fork (easier if you dip the fork into flour each time), gently flatten each ball until the cookie is about 1/2-inch thick (it will spread a little more when baking and you do want these fairly thick rather than thin).
  6. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the cookies are still very pale but feel dry to the touch. They will still be quite delicate and soft, so let them stand on the tray for 5 minutes before carefully transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. They will harden when cooled.
  7. Make the lemon buttercream by whipping the butter, sugar, and lemon juice together until smooth and creamy.  While called buttercream, the consistency will be more like play dough.  Roll small 1/4 tsp-sized balls of buttercream and place in the center of half of the cookies.  Gently top with the other half, pressing down until the buttercream reaches the edges of the cookies.   Let them set in the fridge in an airtight container for 30 minutes before serving. They will keep a few days stored like this, but make sure to bring them back to room temperature before serving. Plain cookies without the buttercream will keep 1 week in an airtight container.


No hedgehogs were harmed…

Continuing our tour of Australian treats!

While in Melbourne we visited the Queen Victoria Market several times. Like Vancouver’s Public Market, Florence’s Mercato de San Lorenzo or even Los Angeles’ own Original Farmer’s Market ,  Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Market is an eclectic circus of produce, fish, meat, and bespoke food stuffs.

While it was delightful pursuing the long rows of fresh produce and authentic Australia goods (kangaroo paw anyone?), our true fascination (read infatuation) was with the collection of tiny fine goods stalls in the original building.

We spent a good deal of enjoyed time oggling the fresh cheese, pasta and cured meat stalls.

And of course there were the patisseries and bakers.  It was while TD was standing in line for his daily flat white that I spied a new-to-me treat at one such shop.  The handwritten card labeled the brownie type good as “hedgehog slice.”  Intrigued, I bought a wedge of the zebra (not really hedgehog) like confection.

First things first, the term “slice” appears in tandem with many Australian treats: hedgehog slice, caramel slice, cherry ripe slice, lemon slice, jelly slice…you get the idea.  Generally, slice in Australia seems to fall into the same category as square or bar here in the U.S.

Sometimes slice is baked, while other times, like with the hedgehog, things are just sort of thrown together and then refrigerated (kind of like magic or nanaimo bars).

And, as with nearly every Australian baked good and candy we encountered, coconut plays a central roll.  Our first impression (in the name of research) of hedgehog slice was that they were a sort fudge with vanilla cookie bits lightening up the deal (bet you never thought you’d see “cookie bits” and “lightening things up” in the same sentence).

Luckily, a review of recipes revealed that these are even easier to make than fudge.  They require no baking and can be infinitely varied (I suggest subbing-in Tim Tams for the Marie cookies).

And, like the Anzac biscuits, these were a surprise hit.

About the name.  I couldn’t really find a single answer as to why they’re called hedgehog slice.  In fact, hedgehogs aren’t even native to Australia.  Of course, neither are the British.

Hedgehog Slice

source: I tried out a couple of methods for making hedgehog slice.  The method using sweetened condensed milk was delicious but didn’t set-up properly.  The recipe below worked well the first, second and third times I tried them.  As what happens with recipes, several I came across referred back to an original posting in a magazine called Women’s Weekly.  The recipe below is a repost from a blog called Honey Kitchen

I’ve converted the appropriate measurements to US customary


  • 1 ½ x 200g packets Marie biscuits, coarsely chopped
  • 1 C chopped walnuts
  • ½ C desiccated coconut (shredded works just fine)
  • 250g  (about 1 1/4 C) butter, chopped
  • 1 ¼ C granulated sugar
  • 1/3 C cocoa powder
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 150g  (3/4 C) dark chocolate, melted
  • ½ tsp vegetable oil


  1. Grease a 9X9 pan and line base and two long sides with parchment paper, extending paper 2cm above edges of pan.
  2. Combine biscuits, nuts and coconut in large bowl.
  3. Place butter, sugar and sifted cocoa in a medium pan; stir over heat until butter is melted and sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat; whisk in egg.
  4. Pour chocolate mixture over biscuit mixture; mix well. Press into prepared pan. Cover; refrigerate overnight.
  5. Turn slice onto a chopping board; cut into pieces. Spoon combined warm, melted chocolate and oil in a small snap-lock plastic bag. Squeeze chocolate to one corner; twist bag, then snip tip of bag. Drizzle chocolate over top of slice; refrigerate for 15 minutes, or until chocolate is set.

And the meek (biscuit) shall inherit the earth

I was lucky enough to spend a couple of weeks in Australia last May.  The first week was work in Sydney and then I flew over to Melbourne and met TD for a little RNR.

We’d been to Melbourne before but left behind some unfinished business in the form of the Great Ocean Road as well as a host of untried restaurants, as yet to be imbibed cocktails and un-strummed scenic fall strolls.

We enjoyed ourselves immensely.

As I think I’ve mentioned before, I like to pick up a few new recipes while in-country as opposed to hauling back souvenirs.  This practice helps keep my luggage weight under control and is a delightful excuse to try exotic treats in the name of research.

To wit, our last trips to Australia yielded a batch of Lamingtons, Cherry Rip Bonbons and Jude Bolton Bars.

Funny thing about those Jude Bolton Bars…I actually met him while in Sydney during this trip.  The faculty I was traveling with arranged to have him meet our group while we were touring the Sydney Cricket Grounds, where the Australian Football League’s Sydney Swans call home.  My faculty friend is friends with Mr. Bolton and in the days leading up to the visit, she sent him the post I wrote.  Now, it’s been a few years so I’ll remind you, the post was written as a humorous but genuine tribute to Jude’s…athletic superiority.  It was also not meant to be read by him.  Nor did I intend to ever meet him in real life.

When the moment of the meeting came, we were both embarrassed.  His embarrassment was charming.  Mine was that of a dirty old woman who had been caught, literally, with her hand in the cookie jar.  Thanks JP.

But anyway.  Back to baking.

The first recipe I “brought back” with me from Australia is for Anzac biscuits.  I’d heard of Anzac biscuits prior to our trip–mostly through literature.  I swear there is mention of them in M.L. Steman’s, Light between the Oceans.  And there is an entire scene about them in Liane Moriarty’s The Hypnotist’s Love Story (one of my favorites of hers).

Since they aren’t as well known here in the States, I’ll give you the two sentence explanation.  ANZAC stands for Australia New Zealand Army Corps. During World War I, families would pack their soldiers these oatmeal-coconut cookies in care packages because while they would harden, they wouldn’t spoil.    Australian’s celebrate ANZAC Day each year in late April.  Similar to Memorial Day in the U.S., the day is one of remembrance for those who fought and died in any conflict for Australia or New Zealand.

I’ll admit, I completely underestimated these wholesome little treats.  I thought they’d be fun to make once and then I’d be done with them.  Well, I was wrong.  These seemingly simple biscuits are rich and flavorful.  The oatmeal gives them a bit of heft while the coconut and brown sugar make them taste like an exotic far-off-island (or in this case, island nation).  Need further proof that you should make these?  Several people asked me for the recipe.  That never happens!

Anzac Biscuits

(read through the ingredients and my notes first–these call for a couple of unusual additions).


  • 1 C rolled oats (in reviewing recipes I saw calls for both old fashioned and quick cooking.  I opted for old fashioned because I wanted the additional texture)
  • 1 C all purpose plain flour
  • 2/3 C golden brown sugar
  • 2/3 C desiccated coconut (desiccated coconut is hard to find.  The first time I made these I ordered the coconut via Amazon.  After that I just chopped up unsweetened shredded and hoped for the best.  It’s work just fine so far)
  • 1/2 C or 1 stick of  butter chopped
  • 2 TBS golden syrup (you can find this on Amazon.  If you aren’t committed to tryin golden syrup, sub-in corn syrup)
  • 1 tsp baking soda


  1. Preheat oven to 325 F.
  2. Line 3 baking trays with parchment.
  3. Fold together the oats, flour, sugar and coconut in a bowl.
  4. Add butter, syrup and 2 tablespoons of cold water to a saucepan over medium heat.
  5. Stir for 2 minutes or until butter has melted.
  6. Stir in baking soda
  7. Add the butter mixture to the dry ingredients and fold until combined.
  8. Roll level tablespoons of mixture into balls. (as a note, the uncooked cookie balls freeze well)
  9. Place on trays, 2 inches apart and flatten slightly.
  10. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until light golden.
  11. Leave on the baking trays for 5 minutes.
  12. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Giant Lemon Pie

This post begins and ends with bad cell phone pics.  Sorry.

Melbourne, like most cosmopolitan cities, has a top notch public transportation system which TD and I used liberally.  One of our most often-used landing points from our hotel in South Yarra was the Central Station in the city center.  We must have passed through that station at least twice daily during our visit.

Situated right alongside one of the many escalators was a little coffee shop selling the most outrageous looking pastries.  The giant lemon meringue pie immediately caught my eye on our first trip past.  While timing never worked so that we were in a situation to stop and actually order a piece, I did work up the courage to snap a picture (we ordered a couple of flat whites as to not raise any eyebrows when snapping the photo).

Shortly after, the idea that I could replicate this citrusy matterhorn took seed and I found myself, during our time in Australia, often thinking about how I might execute such a feat.

About halfway through my research, I began to lean toward a baked-center approach. Think lemon bars.  I was considering the pie more in terms of a tart than a true lemon meringue pie.  But, I couldn’t quite figure out how to evenly bake the filling at about four-to-six inches of depth.

Then I happened on a post for a lemon meringue pie in the blog, Dutch Oven Diaries.  They used a stovetop filling approach that looked successful.  Unfortunately, the largess of the pastry also meant a two day-cooking time.  Hence, the awful shots taken at night.  Maybe some day I’ll learn how to take real pictures.

And so, I shifted gears and experimented.

I probably had a little more fun that a girl with a pastry-bag full of meringue ought to.


But, the attempt was successful, at least in looks.  I knew I didn’t have the right apparatus to form the same wide peaks as the pie in the metro station.  So I went with quantity and height.

Not one to waste an opportunity to experiment on others, I lugged the finished product to a dinner party.  While the pie was voted a success in general, I found the filling’s texture to be a little too gelatinous.  In the photo below, it also looks like I broke the meringue. I promise, it wasn’t broken when I piped it.  I suspect the fact that it sat out for about 2 hours before being served might have something to do with it.

As such, I consider this a work in progress and am on the hunt for an excuse to try it again.

If you like this you might like these

Raspberry Lemon Bars 

Longfellow Lemon Tart (the photos in this post are even worse than the ones in this post…small consolation).

Giant Lemon Meringue Pie


Pie Pastry

  • 16 oz flour
  • 8 oz butter
  • 2 egg yolks
  • Pinch of salt
  • Cold water to mix
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees, place rack in middle slot.
  2. Sift flour and salt into a bowl cut in the butter until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs.
  3. Mix the egg yolk with 3 tablespoons of water and add to the flour and combine until mixture comes together, add more water if necessary.
  4. Wrap and chill in fridge for 30 minutes then roll out the pastry and line your 9 inch flan, pie or spring form pan with the dough and prick all over using a fork to prevent the crust from puffing.
  5. Line with baking paper and fill with pie weights (or dried rice or beans) and chill for another 30 minutes to prevent shrinkage.  Bake for 20 minutes at then remove weights and bake for an additional 15 minutes until golden brown.
  6. Allow to cool completely before filling

Lemon Filling 

  • 2 ½ cups sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 ¾ cups water
  • 1 ¼ cups lemon juice (juice from about 12 lemons)
  • Rind of 5 lemons
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 10 egg yolks
  • 1  cup cornstarch
  1. Put the water, sugar, salt, lemon rind, juice and butter into a large saucepan and bring slowly to a
  2. boil.
  3. Beat egg yolks with the cornstarch and slowly add some of the hot mixture to temper the yolks whisking constantly.
  4. Once tempered return egg mixture to the remaining liquid and heat whisking until the mixture thickens.
  5. Pour into the baked pie crust.
  6. Chill overnight until set.


  • 10 egg whites
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  1. Whisk the egg whites until white and fluffy (until stiff peaks are formed) then whisk sugar gradually into the whites.
  2. Pile the meringue on to the now set pie, forming decorative swirls onto the filling making sure you cover right to the edges so no filling is visible.  You can also pipe the very top of the meringue using desired-size tips.
  3. Put the pie into the oven for about 5-10 minutes until the meringue is a light brown.
  4. Store in the fridge, best if served the same day.

JB Bars

JP, this one’s for you.

Since traveling to Australia is sort of like going to the U.S. from a size perspective, we chose to visit three cities: Melbourne, Sydney and Port Douglass (an hour outside of Cairns).

In each of the three cities, a delightful little petit-four like cookie was served alongside coffee for a taste of something sweet at the end of meals.

The little treats started with a shortbread base.  To which a layer of penuche, or brown sugar fudge was added.

The squares were topped by a layer of chocolate.

These are kind of like million dollar shortbread.  Only not.

Once we got home I spent some time trying to find a name for these little guys.  No luck.

So, TD and I decided to name them ourselves.

While in Sydney, we met up with our friend Julia (and Jennifer and Myra).  They were there leading a group of college students and while it’s a sad state of affairs to have to go halfway around the world to spend time with someone who lives less than 10 miles away, good fun was had by all.  Some of that fun was the discussion, debate and general admiration of a certain footie player from the Sydney Swans.

Australian rules football is fantastic.  TD and I caught a Sunday game in Melbourne (at the historical MCG) between the Richmond Tigers and the Carlton Blues.  It was a crisp afternoon in early fall with huge clouds and a cool breeze.  Beer, meat pies with tomato sauce and some very….athletic athletes.  It doesn’t get much better.

Australians are fervent sports fans and on their island nation, the Sydney Swans are royalty.

Their crowned prince?  That certain footie player, Jude Bolton.  A prolific athlete–315 games in his 14 year career thus far–Mr. Bolton is, according to JP, also an ace bloke.   Dear readers, meet Jude.

Photo source: Phil Hillyard / News Limited via FoxSports.

By now you’ve figured it out.  JB Bars are short for Jude Bolton bars.  Because, we like him that much.

As for the Sydney Swans…well…Australia seems to have a knack for using American fight songs as their own.  The Sydney Swans fight song is set to the tune of the Notre Dame fight song.  Make what you will of that little nugget.

If you like this, you might like these.

Salted Caramel Squares

Twix Bars

JB Bars

penuche layer adapted from Stephanie Stiavetti at everything else is Misanthropic Hostess

Shortbread Base


  • 10 TBS butter, cold
  • 1/4 C brown sugar
  • 1/8 C granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 C flour
  • 1/8 C salt


  1. Preheat oven to 235 degrees.
  2. Line an 8X8 or 9X9 pan with parchment so that pieces hang off the end on all four sides.
  3. In a food processor, pulse together sugars, flour and salt.
  4. Cut butter into 1/2 TBS pieces.  Using pulse function on the processor, add-in pieces one-at-a-time until the dough just barely comes together.
  5. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  6. Press dough into pan.
  7. Prick dough all over with fork.
  8. Bake on middle rack until golden brown (20-30 minutes…begin checking at 20 minutes or when you  begin to smell the butter cooking).
  9. Remove from over and allow to cool completely.

Penuche & Chocolate Layers

  • 2½ cups brown sugar
  • 2½ cups white sugar
  • 1¼ cup whole milk or half and half
  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 8-12 ounces chopped chocolate (I used bittersweet) depending on how thick you’d like the layer.  I used about 9 ounces.


  1. In a heavy saucepan over medium-low flame, heat brown sugar, white sugar, milk, butter, and salt to 236F while stirring constantly. This should take 20-25 minutes.
  2. Pour penuche into the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on medium for 2-4 minutes, or until fudge is thick and smooth. Lower speed to low and add vanilla extract.
  3. Using a spatula greased with butter, spread penuche fudge on top of shortbread base, smoothing out the top. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  4. While the penuche is cooling, melt chocolate in a double boiler or in microwave (50% power, 30 seconds at a time, stirring in-between until chocolate is melted and smooth).
  5. Spread chocolate evenly over penuche layer using an offset spatula.  Allow to harden.
  6. Lift entire concoction from pan using the ends of the parchment.  Cut into 1-inch squares.
  7. Serve or use within two or three days.  Will keep slightly longer if stored in an air-tight container.  Do not refrigerate.


Shake Your Cherry Ripe Bonbon

I love wandering the aisles of grocery stores in other countries.  I may be overstating this assertion, but I think grocery stores are a pretty accurate proxy of a country’s cultural, political and even geographical positions.  The snack food aisle (often aisles) is one of my favorite.  I love perusing the exotic packaging and, when I can cipher  the language, the strange and wonderful flavor combinations.  I’ll admit, part of the allure is the “ewww gross” factor.  Smoked shrimp Doritos?  Limberger Cheetos?  Disgusting…and yet…completely fascinating.

While I generally draw the line at observation on the salty snacks, international candy is a favorite of mine to bring back as gifts (especially since many of the interesting varieties can be purchased through duty-free shops, helping with the customs issue).  I probably brought back $50 worth of candy from Hong Kong a couple of years ago.  I have no idea what it was…but the packaging was gorgeous.

Before heading to Australia, a friend of ours gave TD the inside line on her favorite Aussie candy bar: Cabury’s cherry ripe.  Intrepid chocolate triers that we are, we managed to procure a cherry ripe within hours of landing in Melbourne.  Dark chocolate+coconut+glace cherry bits makes an excellent combination.

Photo credit:

Once the cherry ripe seal was broken, there was no going back.  In order to preserve our own innocence, I purposefully did not count the number of cherry ripe bars purchased while “in-country.”

I did realize early on however, that the coconutty-cherry middle had a very similar consistency to the needhams I made last fall.

And so, upon return to the U.S., I got down to business recreating the cherry ripe bar into bonbons.  The middle of a cherry ripe bar is darker than my little bonbons…more of a crimson than a candy apple.  But, candy apple was the only red food gel I had in my stash at the time.  I ordered the glace cherries from Amazon.  I’m fairly certain the only thing anyone uses those things for are fruit cakes…and the middle of summer is decidedly NOT fruitcake season (insert joke here).

I used a 1/2 ounce scoop to form the chilled guts into little balls.  Then I froze the balls and, pulling them out of the freezer in batches of 12 or so, dipped them in dark chocolate.

TD claims these taste very similar to the original.

Provided their lurid color, I think they’d make a good halloween treat.


INXS (the original, not the one they tried to make over a few years ago).  These guys were a major part of the musical landscape that was high school for me.  Need you Tonight, Suicide Blonde and New Sensation all bring to mind images of swim meets and beach days at La Jolla Shores.  What I didn’t find out until later was that the band’s original name was The Farriss Brothers: Andrew, Jon and Tim.  While the spelling is different, two of the three are what my father and grandfather are called.

Cherry Ripe Bonbons


  • 1/2 cup mashed potatoes (not seasoned) (you could easily get this amount from a single large russet potato)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 lb  confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 7 ounces flaked coconut
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla
  • 7 ounces glace cherries, finely chopped (you can also buy “cherry chips” where the chopping has been done for you
  • red food gel
  • 18 ounces (about 1 1/2 packages)  chocolate chips or chopped bittersweet chocolate
  • 1/2 paraffin wax block, the same paraffin you melt to use on top jam (2 1/2 by 2 1/2)


  1. Pare, cook, and mash potato to make three-quarters of a cup. Add salt.
  2. If you are making recipes right after boiling the potato, use the still-warm sauce pan or dutch oven. The pan should still be warm enough to melt the butter off the heat.  If not, turn on heat to low and allow butter to melt.
  3. Turn off heat and add mashed potato, confectioners sugar and gel.  Fold to evenly mix color.
  4. Add-in flaked coconut, chopped cherries and vanilla.
  5. Mix well and turn into a buttered 9X9 inch pan and spread evenly.
  6. Refrigerate to harden.
  7. When hard, scoop and then roll into balls (I used a 1/2 ounce scooper).
  8. Place cut squares back into the fridge until dipping.
  9. For the dipping chocolate, again use a double boiler or place a heat-proof bowl over a sauce pan of simmering water.
  10. Add paraffin and allow to melt.
  11. Add chocolate and allow to melt.
  12. Stir well to mix ingredients.
  13. Dip in the chocolate mixture (with a fork, toothpick, or my personal favorite, bamboo BBQ skewer).
  14. Place on waxed paper to harden.


Hello, my little Lamington

As I think I’ve mentioned, TD and I spent a couple of weeks in Australia during the second half of May.  As I’m sure many people do, we have an ever-lengthening list of places in the world we’d like to go and Australia had been on that list far too long.  I also happen to have on my own personal bucket list, with the goal of spending at least one birthday on each continent.  Australia made for continent number five.

Deciding to go to Australia or sort of like deciding to go to the United States in terms of geographic breadth.  Not wanting to spend the two weeks on planes, we chose three cities: Melbourne, Sydney and Port Douglas (an hour outside of Cairns).  This meant only two domestic flights and maximized our time on the the ground.

As I’ve said at least a million times in previous posts, my favored souveniers come in the form of photos and recipes (or at least inspirations for recipes).  We dropped the ball a bit on photos.  I’d estimate that at least half of the 50 or so pictures we took are of wallabys and a certain koala we met at an animal sanctuary.  Of those, a surprising number happen to be selfies of said koala and TD.  Hmm.  Luckily, Australians do like their baked goods and sweets.  The most famous of which is, the Lamington.

This little tea cake is named after either Lord Lamington, the Governor of Queensland from 1896-1901, or his wife, Lady Lamington.  Like red velvet cake, the mythology of the treat’s exact origins differs by account.  However, the most common story suggests that the yellow cake, dipped in chocolate icing and then rolled in coconut, was developed by the Lamington’s chef when confronted with unexpected guests at tea.  Lacking fresh cakes, the chef used the day-old sponge cake and the rest is history.

I have an admission, we didn’t have a chance to actually try Lamingtons while in Australia.  I know it makes me a poor researcher, but I assumed the cubes of coconut covered confections were giant marshmallows.  Oops.

It wasn’t until late in the trip that I realized my gaff, and so, I set about rectifying my mistake by making my own.

In reviewing recipes, I settled on David Lebovitz’s version.  Because, it makes so much sense to make an Australian cake using a recipe from an American living in France.

While he was in Australia, he didn’t get to try them either.

I think these would be a ton of fun to make with kids.

Mostly because they’re incredibly messy.  See that unappetizing bowl in the top center of the photo below?  That was my hand-wash station.  True Lamington form requires one to dip the sandwich cakes in the runny icing (by hand) and then roll them around in the coconut (by hand).  Not wanting to get coconut in the icing (in retrospect I have no idea why I was so concerned), I dipped, rolled, set, washed hands, dried and repeated. Sixteen times.

I’m pretty sure I lost about a quarter of the icing and coconut to what ended up on me.

In the end, it was worth it.  The recipe calls for desiccated coconut.  I was too lazy to find the desiccated version and went for shredded.  The Australians seem pretty okay with variation (in fact, they seem pretty okay with just about anything), so I don’t think they’d mind.

These reminded me of something Little Debbie would make.  In a good way.  Little Lamington does have a certain ring to it.

Now, consider yourselves warned.  By my count, I’ve got six more Australia-related posts in the pipeline.  Next week we’ll take a little break for some Fourth of July fun but after that it’s back to my version of boring vacation slides.

And one more thing.  Well done Bruins Baseball!  If my math is correct, that’s 109 championships, a first for baseball and about a million 8-claps.


Colin Hay of course


adapted just slightly in technique from David Lebovitz

16 Individual Cakes


For the spongecake:

  • 6 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (150 g) sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cup (175 g) cake flour*
  • 2 1/2 ounces (70 g) melted unsalted butter, at room temperature

For the chocolate icing:

  • 6 ounces (170 g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 1/2 ounces (40 g) unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup (180 ml) milk, whole or lowfat
  • 2 cups (220 g) powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, natural or Dutch-process (sifted if lumpy)
  • 2 tablespoons boiling water
  • 3 cup (200 g) unsweetened shredded coconut


1. To make the spongecake, butter a 9-inch (23 cm) square cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC).

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the eggs and granulated sugar and salt on high speed for five to ten minutes, until thick and the batter forms a well-defined ribbon that remains on top of the batter when you lift the whip. Stir in the vanilla.

3. Fold the flour into the egg mixture by putting the flour in a sifter or mesh strainer and sifting the flour over the top of the beaten eggs while simultaneously folding the flour in using a whisk.

(You might want to steady the bowl on a damp towel, twisted and rolled up into a circle, or get someone to hold the bowl while you fold.) Fold in the melted butter until no streaks of butter are visible, but do not overfold.

4. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes, or until the cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pan. Remove from oven and let cool completely.

5. When cool, unmold the spongecake onto a cutting board and remove the parchment paper. TMH note: since the origins of the cake involved day-old sponge, I wrapped up the cake tightly and froze it over night for ease in cutting.  And authenticity.

6. Trim the ends and cut the cake in half horizontally using a serrated bread knife.  (I find it easier to cut the cake into two rectangles first, and cut each one separately.)

7. Make the chocolate icing by melting together the chocolate, butter, and milk in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Remove the bowl from the pan of simmering water when smooth, then whisk in the powdered sugar and cocoa powder.

8. Spread a generous 1/2 cup (125 ml) of the chocolate icing over one layer of the spongecake, then top with the other half of the spongecake, sandwiching the two together with chocolate icing in the middle.

9. Cut the cakes into sixteen squares.  TMH note: I was worried about the two halves sliding around during the dipping process and so, arranged the squares on a 1/4 baking sheet and put them in the freezer for 30 minutes to encourage the icing to form a stronger glue.  It worked as I can report no slippage.

10. Whisk two tablespoons of boiling water into the icing. Put the coconut into a shallow baking dish or bowl.

11. Use your hands to dip the Lamingtons into the chocolate, rolling them around to make sure each side is coated with the chocolate icing, then wipe off any excess on the side of the bowl. Place the Lamingtons in the vessel of coconut, tossing them around gently to get them coated on all sides.

12. Once iced and tossed in coconut, place the Lamingtons on a wire cooling rack and let stand until the icing firms up a bit.