Caramel Croissant Pudding with Spiced Rum and a sneaky cocktail

So I feel like I begin every post here with an apology for not posting more frequently. This time i’ll keep it short and sweet.



And give you a big piece of this!

Its a Caramel Croissant Pudding from a recipe by Nigella Lawson. I thought that since it’s the festive season I would spice it up with a little splash of Captain Morgans Spiced Rum. Which I then used in a delicious apple cocktail that i’m going to show you later.

Its pretty much just a normal easy peasy bread and butter pudding but its lifted by the addition of buttery, flakey croissants. The caramel custard that gives it a deeper, richer flavour. If you’re scared of making caramel, I totally understand. I’ve thrown out enough caramel that turned mysteriously black and stinky in the blink of an eye and i’ve also been disappointed by many an anaemic looking caramel that had barely turned vaguely golden before I panicked and took it off the heat.

So, make sure that you have everything ready before you start to make your caramel custard. That means tearing up your croissants and squishing them into the baking dish.

Like this!

Once you’ve done that you need to bite the bullet and make your caramel. I’ll share with you my two tips for nervous caramel makers:

1. Go slow! It might take significantly longer but I would rather have the heat a little lower and have more control over it than blast the heat and watch in horror as my caramel turns into a black smoking mess

2. Keep a close eye on it! It might seem like it is taking forever to turn golden but you can guarantee that the moment you leave your pot to go answer the phone, brush your hair, do whatever else you want to be doing, that will be the moment that you will be in trouble!

The only problem you might have is that when you pour the cream in the caramel will solidify. If you just keep it on the heat and keep stirring it will melt down again and be absolutely fine. Trust me!

and it will look like this!

And then, after it has been baked it will look like this…

and smell delicious!

Isn’t that one of the greatest things about baking? When the whole house smells delicious? Sometimes I find myself wanting to bake something just for the scent I know will permeate the house. Who needs scented candles or disgusting fake air fresheners when you have an oven?

So, my lovelies, what do you like to smell as its cooking? Weird question, I know!

p.s. I know I said i’d give you a cocktail recipe but you might just have to check back tomorrow!

Caramel Croissant Pudding with Spice Rum (Adapted from Nigella Lawson)


5-6 croissants – stale is better
200 grams caster sugar
4 tablespoons water
250 ml thickened cream
250 ml full cream milk
4 tablespoons spiced rum
4 medium eggs (beaten)



  1. Tear the croissants into pieces and arrange in a large baking dish. One that can fit 1-2 L will be ok.
  2. Place the caster sugar and water in a medium sizes saucepan on a medium heat
  3. Let the mixture bubble away but do not stir! You can swirl it around the pan to distribute any dark spots. Wait until it turns a deep gold (the recipe says 3-5 mins but it seems to take much longer for me! Just keep going until you reach the colour you like)
  4. Turn the heat down to low and pour in the cream. It will spit a bit so be careful. Whisk in the milk and rum as well. Remember that it will solidify but if you put it back on the low heat and keep whisking it will dissolve.
  5. Take the pan off the heat and pour in the eggs (while still whisking! You don’t want the eggs to cook!)
  6. Pour the caramel custard over the croissants and leave to steep for 5-10 mins
  7. Place in the oven for 20 minutes at 180 degrees celsius.
  8. Serve with cream or ice-cream.

Caramel Shortbread Cookies and my total lack of organisation

I like to make ‘to do’ lists. I love the sense of achievement that you get when you can cross off an item. However, while I might be organised enough to make these lists, more often than not I will lose them. Counter productive you might think, but… well, yes it is mostly counter productive. Particularly when these lists resurface months later and I realise that I STILL have not completed most of the tasks written there. This blog would be exhibit A.

However, I was very good with my list making before Christmas. Don’t believe me? Well, these cookies are proof, doubters! Christmas was more hectic than usual last year so I had to be super organised to get everything done. In particular my cooking list seemed to breed overnight as I over committed myself for dinners, parties, Kris Kringle gifts, co worker gifts etc. This particular recipe from the December issue of the Donna Hay Magazine was a godsend as it was simple to make, easy to assemble and tasted fabulous. In fact, I was so taken with it that I decided to make a KK gift of cookies and hot chocolate with all the cookies coming from that issue. I will post the other two recipes shortly, but thought I would start with arguably the most tasty (or at least most calorific!)

Cookies and hot chocolate!

All you need to do is whack your butter and sugars all together in your mixer

mix in the flour and roll it all flat

cut your dough into circles and bake

until lightly golden – the recipe says 8-10 mins, I barely needed 7 mins in my oven

pipe the caramel onto your cooled biscuit

and sandwich together

Easy peasy! And you can add a little sprinkle of salt to the caramel before sandwiching for more of a salted caramel shortbread feel. I’ve made these cookies several times since Christmas and they have always gone down well. Easy to make, easy to store, the only thing you need to worry about is rolling your dough too thin, or eating them all in one sitting!

So, lovely reader, are you a procrastinator? Or have you figured out how to get stuff done? And if you’re the latter, can you please let me in on the secret? (Writing this post has been on my weekly ‘to do’ list since January. Go figure.

Caramel Shortbread Cookies – From Donna Hay Magazine


150g butter

1/3 cup (55g) icing sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 cup (225g) plain flour

2 tbsp cornflour

2/3 cup (200g) dulce de leche (you can also use the Nestle Top N Fill sold in supermarkets in Australia or your own caramel made from condensed milk)


1. Place the butter, sugar and vanilla in a mixer and beat for 8-10 mins or until pale and creamy

2. add the flour and cornflour and mix until a smooth dough forms

3. Roll the dough out (5mm thick) between two sheets of baking paper and place in the fridge for around 30 mins

4. using a 4.5 cm round cookie cutter, cut our your cookies and transfer the dough to a a baking tray

5. bake at 180 degrees celsius for 6-7 mins and check to see if they are done. If not, continue cooking for another few minutes keeping a close eye on these babies!

6. cool cookies on a wire rack

7. Pipe caramel onto half the cookies and sandwich with the remaining ones

Brown Sugar Sponge with Caramel Pears (Or – the cake that nearly burned down my kitchen)

Hooray for Winter! Before I started a concerted effort to use seasonal fruit ad veg, I never realised how many wonderful fruits are in season in Winter. I guess there are some good things about Winter after all… apart from flannel sheets, wood fires, hot dinners, hot lunches, hot chocolates, baked goods, pies, hot desserts, snuggles, cuddles… ok… there are LOTS of good things about Winter. This post has a point, I promise!

Corella Pears!

Im a big fan of the green Packham Pears (spelling?) but I have never been bothered to try any of the other types. So when I saw the recipe for Brown Sugar Sponge with Caramel Pears on the cover of this months Gourmet Traveller that was celebrating the season of the Corella Pear, I thought it was as good an excuse as any to try a different type of pear. Who could resist the serene blush of the Corella Pear? The firm flesh and sweet juice is definitely swoon worthy.

The cake turned out beautifully, and tasted delicious. However, if you have seen the cover of the magazine, you will notice that I made mine half as big. When I was first looking at the recipe, I thought that the four layers were made by making two cakes and cutting them in half. I couldn’t believe it when I realised that this recipe requires you to make FOUR whole cakes that are stacked on top of each other. To appease my ever expanding waistline (sigh.) I decided to halve the recipe and make only two layers.

It turned out quite prettily, it tasted wonderful, so how did this cake nearly spell the end of my kitchen exploits forever?

Firstly, I must say that there was nothing wrong with the cake. In fact, it was one of the most delicious sponges I’ve ever tasted. It was light and fluffy but with a nice depth of flavour that I did not expect. It did fall a little after I took it out of the oven which was a bit disappointing. The top became all wrinkly which wasn’t particularly appealing. But I still had a few tricks up my sleeve and wasn’t going to let a few wrinkles get in my way!

It was the syrup for the Caramelised Pears that almost did me in. It was a beautiful, fragrant syrup with the juice of lemons and blood oranges as well as star anise and cinnamon sticks. I poached the pears in the syrup and then it was time to reduce the liquid for the carmel to be drizzled over the top of the cake. This caramel, was my Waterloo.

I’ve never been great with numbers. The other day, while trying to illustrate a point to one of my classes, I told them that 2+2 didn’t equal 4. And didn’t realise my mistake until one of them told me. So I was all set to halve the ingredients for this liquid as I had halved everything else for this cake. Then I got cocky. I had bought 6 large pears because I couldn’t be bothered to buy 12 small ones and I thought, well, even though I have bought half as many pears, they are twice as big and I should therefore make the full amount of syrup.

I followed the recipe to the letter and transferred the liquid to a high sided frying pan to reduce on a medium high heat for half an hour. Forty five minutes later I was still staring at the syrup that was stubbornly refusing to reduce. I turned the heat up, and began pottering around the kitchen. The logic I was using was that whenever a pot boils over on the stove, I hear it in time due to the sizzling of the water on the hot plate, so therefore if the syrup began to boil over I would hear the rolling boil and the sizzling of the syrup right? Wrong.

Drip, drip, drip, went the boiling syrup over the laminate bench tops onto the polished floorboards. I rushed over to lift the frying pan up off the electric stove and a column of flame shot up from beneath it! I had the sense of mind not to throw the nearest tea towel onto the fire, but I had NO idea what else I should do. In an increasing state of panic as the flames rose higher I started yelling and my amazing sister ran and got a heavy bath towel to smother the flames.

The bench tops were saved, the floor was saved but my poor stove top is still covered with blistered, charred, sugary residue. And the caramel wasn’t all that nice when I finished it the next day.

The caramel ended up being more of a syrup but at least it still looked good!

As I had a few slices of pear left over, I layered them between the two cakes along with a layer of vanilla whipped cream

My oh my, this cake was worth the effort!

So, my lovelies, what have been your kitchen disasters? Have you set anything on fire? And do you have any suggestions for how to save my poor hot plate?!

Brown Sugar Sponge with Caramel Pears – Adapted from the August edition of Gourmet Traveller

Brown Sugar Sponge – Ingredients

6 eggs

80g brown sugar

80g caster sugar

1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped

1/8 tsp baking powder

150g plain flour, triple sieved

60g melted butter – cooled slightly

Brown Sugar Sponge – Method

1. Whisk eggs, sugars and vanilla seeds on a high speed until the mixture is tripled in volume and holds a trail (if you find that your mixture is not thickening, try whisking it over a double boiler, this always works for me!)

2. Transfer to a large bowl and sift flour and baking powder in two batches and fold in gently

3. Fold in butter

4. Divide among two greased 20cm cake tins lined with baking paper

5. Bake at 180 degrees celsius for 15-20 mins or until the cakes are dark golden and the centres spring back from pressed

Caramel Pears – Ingredients (This is for the whole amount of syrup, halve or leave as you desire)

750g caster sugar

Juice and rind of 1 1/2 lemon and 1 1/2 oranges (I used a blood orange and it was BEAUTIFUL!)

2 Cinnamon quills

2 Star anise

1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped

10 small or 5-6 large Corella Pears, peeled, halved, cored (can cut them into smaller slices)

90ml pouring cream

30g butter

Caramel Pears – Method

1. Combine sugar, rinds, juices, spices, vanilla bean and seeds and 1 litre of water in a large saucepan and stir over a medium high heat until sugar dissolves

2. Add pears a cover closely with a round of baking paper and weight with a plate. Bring to a simmer

3. Reduce heat to medium and cook until the pears are tender (20-25 mins)

4. Remove pears from the liquid and set aside

5. Strain the liquid into a large deep sided frying pan and simmer over a medium high heat until the mixture reduces to your liking (If you are looking at the picture on the front cover of the magazine, that must have taken them HOURS of reducing to get that consistency, just giving you the heads up)

6. At this point you can add 120ml of dessert wine, I didnt and my syrup still tasted pretty damn good

7. Ad cream and butter and stir until combined

8. Add pears to pan and cook, spooning caramel over the pears until they are glazed, set aside


I made a vanilla bean whipped cream by scraping the seeds of one vanilla bean into some cream them whipping to a light consistency. I layered half the pear slices over the top of one cake then spread the cream over the top. On top of that I placed the second cake then arranged slices of pears over the top. I poured syrup (it didn’t really turn into a caramel) over the top and let it drizzle down the side. If you made the full batch of syrup you will have a lot left over and you can serve this with slices of the cake. Enjoy!