Salted Caramel Icecream

There’s just something about ice cream. I’ve been reminiscing about all kinds of events in my past, from my childhood, my teenage years, great summers and all sorts of celebrations and many of the happy memories involve my favourite treat of all: ice cream!

For instance, when I think back to past family holidays, whether they be day trips to the beach in Torquay or holidays driving along the coast all the way to Brisbane or even the trip I took to the States when I was 10, I remember eating LOTS of ice cream. I remember our trip to sunny Queensland when I was 8, driving for what seemed like eternity along the eastern coast, right in the heart of summer and was just so damn hot, with the temperature in the mid 40s everyday.  There is nothing worse for a kid (or a anyone for that matter) than to be stuck inside a hot car for hours on end and with nothing but a Gameboy and Tetris to keep me occupied (fun things like iPods and the Nintendo DSi weren’t invented yet) and on that trip, nothing made me happier than to stop at a service station, to get out of the sticky car, stretch my legs and cooling down with an icypole (aka popscicle) or a Paddle Pop ice cream. Bliss!!

I remember when I was 17 and thinking about my first few months dating Z. We would be the uber cool kids, taking the train into the city and just hanging out. We didn’t really do anything special on our city dates, being students with student budgets and all, but I recall roaming the streets, holding hands, watching yet another movie or playing endless arcade games until we ran out of change and winning absolutely nothing. We would always visit the Crown complex and get huge ice creams and then just sit and talk. We’d share flavours (“here, have a lick”) and Z would always tease me and more often than not he would try to squash his ice cream in my face, just for a laugh. To this day, when we visit an ice cream shop, we still get huge ice creams, always getting different flavours so we can share and he still thinks his ice-cream-smooshed-in-my-face routine is funny!

I know that as life goes on, more and more ice cream memories will be made and my stomach and I are very much looking forward to them!

Salted Caramel Ice Cream

Drooooooooooooool. That’s all I can say about this ice cream. The flavours in this ice cream are AMAZING!! It’s sweet, little salty, crunchy and smooth all at once. An ice cream party in your mouth!

To make it, visit David Lebovitz’s website and find the ingredients and instructions here.

Enjoy!

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Yeah, I know what you’re thinking: “zucchini in cake?!” You’re  probably used to sweet baked goods made with chocolate or fruit, but using vegetables in cakes isn’t as odd as it would seem. There are so many different sweet recipes out there that use all kinds of vegetables; think traditional favourites of pumpkin pie and carrot cake, and more unusual recipes like chocolate beetroot cake or spinach brownies! After being in a bit of a baking  funk, I wanted to make something that was not only delicious but also something a little different. I thought about making Jessica Seinfeld‘s recipe for brownies with spinach, but I wasn’t in the mood for something chocolatey. After searching through my very disorganised folder of online recipes I’ve bookmarked, I came across this recipe and knew it was the one to make.

Zucchini Cake1

It’s very similar to a carrot cake, only with grated zucchini and different spices instead. It is a very simple recipe and takes hardly anytime to prepare at all.  I didn’t follow the recipe as printed (I’m such a rebel!) and used walnuts instead of pistachios and added cinnamon and cloves to the mix. I’m quite time poor these days, so I didn’t even bother with the frosting and it’s a one-bowl recipe which means less time washing up and more time eating!

Zucchini Spice Loaf

Adapted from recipe found in Delicious magazine, February 2007 here.

3/4 cup (185ml) sunflower oil

1 cup (220g) caster sugar

3 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup (75g) walnuts, finely chopped

1/2 cup (60g) almond meal

2 cups grated zucchini (about 2 big ones)

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/2 teaspoon ground mixed spice

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

dash of ground cloves

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 1/2 cups (225g) self-raising flour

1/2 cup (75g) plain flour

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease a loaf tin and line base and sides with baking paper.
  2. Using a whisk, combine the oil, sugar, eggs and vanilla until thick. Stir in chopped nuts, meal, zucchini and spices. Sift over baking soda and flours, and stir to combine. Pour into pan and bake for 60 minutes or until a skewer inserted in centre comes out clean. Cool in pan for 20 minutes, then turn onto a wire rack and cool completely.

chocolate caramel slice

Growing up, I was really blessed to be fed homecooked fresh Vietnamese food every night made by my mum. The usual meals would include rice vermicelli with satay pork and peanuts, rice paper rolls with prawns and hoisin dipping sauce, chicken congee with crunchy fried crullers, heady and fragrant beef pho and desserts would always feature coconut cream in some form. I didn’t really appreciate this when I was younger, always whining and complaining about eating the same thing every night, “Rice with caramelised pork again?!” and I constantly looked forward playing at my non-Vietnamese friends’ homes as it would guarantee a rice free, fish sauce free, soy sauce free, noodle free, non-Asian meal. ‘Meat and two veg’ was really appealing to me back then!

I especially loved eating at my friend Sarah’s house as her mum was a terrific baker and would always have some kind of cake or slice to be enjoyed for afternoon tea. My absolute favourite treat by Sarah’s mum was the quintessentially Australian chocolate caramel slice – a shortbread base sometimes flavoured with coconut, topped with a rich, fudgy caramel layer and finished with a slick of chocolate, just in case you didn’t think it was sweet enough. I would make this slice often as a child with my own mum who would always claim it was far too sweet for her own tastes, but would happily let me indulge in my sugar fix.

As an adult now, I can reflect on my childhood and I love that I grew up on Vietnamese food. Now I’m always wanting to learn how to recreate my mum’s traditional dishes and finding out what all of mum’s secret ingredients are. It’s a part of my heritage that I want to retain and will pass down onto my own children one day. It’s nice to know that I will not only teach my future kids how to make the best nuoc mam or pho bo, but I will also get to show them how to make the Australian favourites I also grew up on.

Chocolate Caramel Slice (aka Millionaire’s Shortbread)

Base

85g butter, melted

2/3 cup self raising flour

1/2 cup brown sugar

2/3 cup dessicated coconut

Caramel Layer

400g (1 can) condensed milk

2 gloriously big tablespoons of golden syrup

1 tablespoon of butter

Chocolate Layer

125g best quality dark chocolate (you can use milk chocolate, but I find it way too sweet)

  1. Line a 20 centimetre (8 inch) square tin with non-stick baking paper, being sure to leave excess paper overhanging to be able to lift the finished slice when baked. Preheat oven to 180C.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine all base ingredients and press into prepared tin and bake for 15 minutes or until risen and golden brown. Allow to cool.
  3. In a small saucepan, combine the caramel layer ingredients and cook over medium heat for around 10 minutes or until a light golden brown colour. Don’t forget to constantly stir with a whisk or spatula as you cook, or else it will get lumpy.
  4. Pour the caramel filling over cooked base and return to oven. Bake until the caramel layer is just set – this should take 10 – 15 minutes or so. When done, remove from oven and allow to cool completely.
  5. Melt chocolate in a double boiler or microwave and spread evenly over cooled slice. Once chocolate is set, cut into squares using a hot knife.