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 month, and I have certainly enjoyed discovering and visiting all of your posts. Thanks to all of you for participating.
Our first entry in this month was this Lemon Syrup Loaf from Lydia Bakes. Although Lydia is flat out busy keeping up with assignments right now, she still managed to find time to turn her surplus of lemons into this gorgeous loaf. She says that this is produced with very little effort and is one of her all time favourites. I can see why - I adore all things lemon, so I can't wait to try this.
Next up is this stunning looking Chocolate Pavlova from Frances at Bake Club. Frances found this pavlova from Nigella Lawson to be the perfect use for egg whites leftover from making semifreddo. And in a particularly cunning ploy, Frances saved decorating and photography until the morning, which meant ... you guessed it, pav for breakfast! My kinda woman.
Alessandra shared these gorgeous Mandarin Cremes on her Only Recipes blog. Thick, velvety, creamy custards, topped with dried mandarins, cream and dark chocolate ("really dark", says Alessandra). I tend to never think of making desserts like this, but these look so beautiful I'm inspired to try.
Alessandra Zecchini also shared this fabulous Berry & Banana Ice Cream. How do I know it's fabulous? Because I couldn't wait to try this. This ice cream requires only two ingredients - frozen bananas and frozen berries - and the result is creamy, luscious, and best of all totally healthy!!
Our next entry was this Gluten Free Chocolate Cake from Amy at On The Monkey Trail. Amy describes this as "just a reliably good simple gluten free chocolate cake recipe". I think everyone needs a good, simple, reliable chocolate cake in their repertoire. This looks beautifully moist and light, and I'm guessing it wouldn't be a leap too far to dress this "simple" cake up for a special occasion.
Lesley at Eat, Etc shared this Cranberry, Vanilla and Yoghurt Loaf. Doesn't that look so pretty? Lesley whipped this up one afternoon when she was getting over a fit of the "can't be bothereds" - great recovery, I'd say. Lesley says, "each slice has little bursts of cranberries and a taste and texture reminiscent of madeira cake". Since I'm a huge fan of madeira cake, I'm pretty keen to give this a try.
Next up we have Microwave Lemon Curd, Lemon Victoria Sandwich Cake, and Lemon Shortbread Biscuits from Alli at Pease Pudding. I'm the first to admit I was a little dubious about this method of making lemon curd, but I've been around Alli enough now to know that if she says it works ... it's going to work. So with a recent surplus of lemons I decided to give it a try, and I can confirm - yes, it really did work. Can't say I've been adventurous enough to try a Victoria sponge though, or industrious enough to make shortbread biscuits. My lemon curd just shows up regularly at breakfast time, slathered on top of crumpets, or afternoon snacks of big spoonfuls just scooped straight out of the jar. Gorgeous photo, Alli.
Don't you love it when a good fridge clean-out turns into something wonderful? That's exactly what happened when Bridget from After Taste turned some fridge "leftovers" into these wonderful Lemon Cupcakes with Raspberry Cream Cheese Buttercream. In my opinion, there are few things that could improve a lemon cupcake, but swirling it liberally with raspberry cream cheese buttercream and then topping it off with chunks of chocolate would pretty much do it for me.
Angela at The Cook's Sponge (a blog I hadn't visited before) made these fabulous Cranberry, Cashew & White Chocolate Biscotti while sharing a "girly" night in with a close friend. I can't think of a better way to spend an evening with a good friend than doing some baking together, and then ending up with biscotti to nibble on afterwards ... that's a win:win.
Despite having a rough week, Mel at Treehouse Kitchen went to great pains (literally) to bring us Beatty's Chocolate Cake. Now, I don't know who Beatty is, but I sure wish I did - I would like to be adopted by someone who can invent a cake like that. Mel says, "expect a moist, easy-to-eat cake and frosting which provides an immediate sense of luxury… and don’t expect the cake to last long if you have people in your house!"
Following a health scare in her household a few months back, Julie at Domestic Executive has been trying to change her family's eating regime. Particularly cutting back on wheat and sugar, and especially trying to find healthier alternatives to enable them to still have the occasional sweet treat. These gorgeous Chocolate Cream Mini Cakes use coconut flour, palm sugar and dark chocolate, and Julie says they "packed a powerful chocolate punch but without the sugar high that would normally having you dashing back for more". Pretty certain, I'd find it impossible to stop at just one of these wee babies!!
I love just about anything that has that sweet and salty thing going on at the same time, and this Salted Maple Caramel Popcorn with Spiced Salt from Mairi at Toast looks like it really delivers. Cheaper than crack, and legal too, I'm sure this combination of maple syrup, cinnamon and paprika would be highly addictive.
Like Lucy at The KitchenMaid, I love kumara in just about any incarnation. I've often wondered about trying it in a cake, and I'm thinking Lucy's Kumara and Cardamom Cake would be a great alternative to the ubiquitous carrot cake. That combination of kumara and cardamom sounds fabulous, and this is right at the top of my "must try" list.
Emma at Craving Fresh shared this Grain-free Chocolate Brownie that is a hit with her children. Emma says they love it and ask for it often, and given that it has no white flour and little fructose, she feels happy about giving it to the kiddies without feeling guilty.
Last of all was my own entry of Banana, Lemon & Passionfruit Guilt-Free Ice Cream. This is ridiculously easy to make, luscious and creamy, and I love that I can eat this for breakfast without so much as a shred of guilt.
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 Lucy at The KitchenMaid, who is going to be your host for the month of November.
Last of all, before I leave you, I wanted to mention The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap. This is an annual event, and although it is an American event, if we can get a minimum of four participants from New Zealand we can join in too - New Zealand has already been registered as a participating country. In short, after registration you will be given the name of three other bloggers and you will send each of them a dozen cookies. In return you will receive a dozen cookies from each of three other bloggers. And last of all you will post about it. There is a small registration fee of US$4 which goes to a Child Cancer charity in the States. Yes, I know it's a shame it is not a New Zealand charity, but I still think this would be a fun event in which to participate. After all anything that goes towards helping kids with cancer is a good thing, and what could be bad about getting three dozen cookies in the mail. So, if you're interested, there are three days left to register for this event - full details can be found here.