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Posts from the ‘Sweets/Candy’ Category

Pacific Panforte – Macadamia, Mango, Coconut & White Chocolate

DSC_0006This was meant to be an Easter post, technically it still is being Easter Monday today but a little too late for any of you to make as an Easter gift which was my original intention. It would make a nice Christmas gift too so you can always stash the recipe in the memory banks for later this year. I have been selling the panforte on my market stall at Hobsonville Point on Sunday’s, it’s been quite popular, although the new addition of my vanilla custard & raspberry jam doughnuts seemed to have eclipsed everything with their popularity. I will try and share that recipe with you at some point or you can visit me at the market and pick up a few.


  • 200g roasted macadamia nuts
  • 350g dried mango, roughly chopped
  • 100g flour (or ground almonds can be substituted for gluten free)
  • 100g coconut thread or desiccated
  • ½ tbsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp cardamon
  • ½ tsp ground allspice
  • ¼ tsp ground pepper
  • 100g honey
  • 150g brown sugar
  • 150g white chocolate, chopped


  1. Preheat oven to 180C.
  2. Prepare a 20cm x 20cm baking tin by lining it with greaseproof paper and also greasing the paper.
  3. Roast macadamia nuts in oven till golden brown. Remove and allow to cool.
  4. In a large bowl, mix flour, coconut, nuts and spices.
  5. In a pan over a low heat, melt the honey and sugar till dissolved and gently boil for 2 minutes.
  6. Add mango to the cooked honey and sugar and gently boil for a further 2 minutes.
  7. In a microwave or over a pan of simmering water, gently melt the chocolate pieces, being careful not to overcook them.
  8. Add honey and mango mixture, melted chocolate to the nuts and and flour mixture.
  9. Stir the mixture well with a wooden spoon (working quickly, it is easier to do this while the mixture is still hot).
  10. With a wet hand, press mixture into prepared tin.
  11. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
  12. Cool on a cake rack.
  13. Store in an airtight container or gift wrap. Panforte will keep for a few weeks stored this way.


Brown Sugar Shortbread with Salted Caramel Rarotonga Side

Salted caramel has been around for ages but I seemed to have been one of the few ‘salted caramel virgins’ before being converted by some fellow food bloggers at our annual conference the other week. Mairi from Toast had been raving about Bohemia Chocolates and their salted caramels and when I tasted them I could see why. Then my room mate at the conference, Sue from Couscous and Consciousness and I were snacking on them with a cup of tea way into the late hours of the night after a full day of conference feasting. I was hooked, I couldn’t get them off my mind and then the day after the conference I flew to Rarotonga with not a salted caramel in sight and I so wanted to indulge in some more. When you can’t tame the voice in your head and the craving in your tummy there is only one thing to do, get into the kitchen bake. It was an interesting exercise baking a batch of cookies and caramel at the tropical beach hut with limited equipment, I have given my shortbread recipe below but have linked to David Lebovitz salted caramel recipe as I had to wing mine with no internet or suger thermometer! The only difference with David’s recipe and this is when you add the cream do not return the caramel back to the heat as you want a soft caramel rather than hard.

If you are going up to Rarotonga our favourite places to eat at this year where The Moorings, Muri for lunch, they make the best fresh fish sandwiches with great views of the lagoon. Le Bon Vivant, Avarua  an intimate bistro combining French flare with the local produce. The Atutaki crayfish gnocchi, smoked marlin croquettes or the parrot fish and risotto where so good we had to go back a second night. And the Tahitian, Avarua is always good for platters of marinated fish. It’s very rustic with its plastic chairs and tables and is BYO only but the platters are worth is for a casual lunch or dinner.

This is also my entry to our monthly Sweet New Zealand baking event, hosted this month by Alessandra Zecchini, If you pop over to her blog at the end of September you will find many tasty Kiwi treats.

Life’s a beach!


300g Plain flour

300g Butter, softened

100g soft brown sugar


Preheat oven on bake (not fan bake) to 160 degrees centigrade and line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper.

Sift flour into bowl and add the butter and sugar and rub into flour.

Kneed ingredients together to form a dough.Do not over kneed otherwise dough will become tough and biscuits will have a pastry texture instead of a shortbread texture.

Wrap dough and chill in the fridge for 15 minutes before you roll it out.

On a floured surface roll dough out to 1/2 inch thick and cut out biscuit shapes with cookie cutter or glass.

Place shortbread on a baking tray and bake for 15-20 minutes or until a very light golden on edges.
Cool on a wire rack.

Peanut Butter Fudge


Eating ‘Russian fudge’ in the office the other week the girls said “you could easily make this couldn’t you and probably better?” “Yes of course I replied” Needless to say their response was, “Why don’t you make us some then and maybe make it peanut butter flavoured while your at it?”. Serves me right of course for being a smart a*se, so I dutifully went home to show them I could make a decent batch of fudge. I use the basic Chelsea sugar recipe but adjust it to what is more convenient, never having golden syrup in the house I skip it but also increased the condensed milk content to a full tin then added peanut butter.

Anyone know why fudge in New Zealand is called Russian fudge? All I could find on its origin is this with no mention of Russia.

3 cups castor sugar
125g butter
400g sweetened condensed milk (standard tin)
2 tsp vanilla essence
2 tbsp peanut butter, I used crunchy

Place all the ingredients except the vanilla and peanut butter into a heavy bottom saucepan. Warm over a gentle heat until the sugar has dissolved.
Bring to a gentle boil and cook for about 15-20 minutes, until it reaches the soft ball stage (120°C). Keep stirring the mix so it doesn’t burn on the bottom.
Remove from the heat and add the and peanut butter.
Beat using an electric mixer until the fudge is thick and creamy.
Pour into a greased 20 cm cake tin lined with baking paper.
Score the top and break into pieces when cold.

Hazelnut & Orange Blossom Nougat for Sweet New Zealand


Nougat has been on my list to make for several years after my first attempt failed through an invasion of bees in the kitchen because of the boiling honey, but that’s another story. This time I decided to use sugar and glucose so as not to attract unwanted flying visitors, fortunately I did get a well timed visit from a friend who popped in just at the critical stage of pouring the hot toffee into the meringue and two sets of hands certainly work better than one when you don’t have a stand mixer.

We will call this my practice run for Christmas gifts since I had intended to wrap small bar up to give away but I have managed to pig my way through most of it already, it was so good.

This is also my entry for Sweet New Zealand which is being hosted by Mairi over at Toast this month

Ingredients – makes 2
200g hazelnuts
560g (2 1/2 cups) sugar
80ml (1/3 cup) water
1 500g jar glucose syrup
2 egg whites, at room temperature
2 tbsp orange blossom water
4-6 sheets of rice paper

Preheat oven to 170°C.
Line an 18 x 28cm baking tray with non-stick baking paper allowing it to overhang the sides.
Lay rice paper on top of the baking paper to cover the base and up the sides of the tray.
Place the hazelnuts on another baking tray and toast in oven for 7-10. Set aside.
Place the sugar, water and glucose in a medium saucepan.
Place the pan over a low heat until the sugar dissolves.
Increase to a medium heat and bring to the boil and place a candy thermometre in the pan.
Place the egg whites in a large, clean, dry heatproof bowl.
When the syrup reaches about 120°C, use the whisk attachment on an electric stand beater to whisk the egg whites until firm peaks form. If you don’t have a stand mixer it is easier to get some one to help you.
When the sugar syrup reaches 140°C slowly pour hot syrup into the egg whites in a thin, steady stream while whisking. This produces a soft nougat (like mine in photo). If you want a more brittle nougat you need to take the temperature to 150C.
Don’t pour the syrup down side of the bowl or onto the whisk as it may set before being incorporated into egg whites.
Once all the syrup is combined whisk for a further 3 minutes or until the mixture is thick and glossy.
Use a wooden spoon to mix in the hazelnuts and orange blossom.
It is important to work quickly or the nougat will begin to set.
Quickly pour the nougat evenly into the lined pan using a spatula to scrape down the side of the bowl. Use the spatula or the back of a spoon dipped in hot water to spread the nougat evenly into the pan and smooth the surface.
Place the rice paper over the top of the nougat and press down gently and smooth the top.
Set aside in a cool, dry place until set.
Lift the nougat from the pan and place on a cutting board using a hot serrated knife to cut the nougat.


Rose Turkish Delight


I’ll just manage a quick post before the food bloggers conference on Saturday which is taking up most of my spare time organizing. Did you know we are having our first ever New Zealand food bloggers conference? I’m so excited to be meeting another 25 food bloggers who will be attending the conference who i have followed and chatted with on the blogger-sphere. I’ll let you know how it went once its over and I have a vino in hand and my feet up.

This is my first attempt at Turkish Delight even though it is one of my favourite sweets I have never made it before. When looking for a recipe I found there are two kinds, one you just boil the ingredients like you would jam and the other adds gelatin. I decided to make the one with gelatin, I thought it least likely to fail and would perhaps not go sticky in our humid weather. I have used a recipe from The Good Food Channel but reduce the amount of gelatin since I use agar.

sunflower oil,for greasing
2tsp agar gelatin powder (Pacific Harvest)
255 ml water
4 tsp rose water
450 g caster sugar
3-4 drops red food colouring
2 tbsp icing sugar
2 tbsp cornflour

Lightly oil a 20x25cm baking tin.
Mix the gelatine, water and rose water in a large heavy-based pan and add the sugar.
Heat gently until the sugar and gelatine have dissolved, stirring continuously.
Bring to the boil without stirring.
Reduce the heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes.
Remove from the heat, stir in the food colouring and leave to cool for 2-3 minutes.
Pour the mixture into the oiled tin and leave to set for 24 hours.
Cut into squares.
Mix the cornflour and icing sugar together and toss the Turkish Delight in the mixture.
Store in an airtight container, between layers of greaseproof paper.


I had seen this recipe over at London Eats and decided I should finally make Florentines. They have always been a favourite of mine but my first attempt many years ago had them spread across the baking tray like wafer ginger snaps and it put me off trying again. That’s baking them you do understand not eating them. So when I saw this recipe I realised that the small addition of flour probably prevented this from happening and decided it was time to expel the Florentine demon and have another go. Mine didn’t quite go as crunchy as you would expect with Florentines, perhaps I was a little impatient with the cooking of the mixture before spooning them out onto the tray but everyone enjoyed them and perhaps they were more preferable to those with dodgy teeth :o)


  • •  85g butter
    • 85g golden syrup
    • 30g plain flour
    • 60g flaked almonds
    • 15g preserved ginger, sliced
    • 15g candied peel, finely chopped
    • 60g sultanas
    • 60g cherries, quartered
    • 100g plain chocolate
    • 50g milk chocolate


  • Preheat the oven to 180C. Lightly grease a non-stick baking tray
  • Melt butter and syrup in a pan and bring to the boil, then add all other ingredients apart from the chocolate. Allow the mixture to cook for 2-3 minutes (it should thicken slightly).
  • Place teaspoonfuls of the mixture on the baking sheet, flatten slightly and cook for 8-10 minutes until golden. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for a few minutes until hard (when they come out of the oven, if they have spread too much, use a spoon to push the edges  back into shape while still soft). Move the Florentines to a wire rack to cool completely(**). If they seem oily from all that butter, place the warm biscuits on kitchen paper.
  • Once the Florentines are cool, melt the chocolate in a double boiler, and coat the base of each biscuit. If you like, use a fork to make a wave pattern or swirl on  the base of each Florentine.
  • (**) If the biscuits do not come from the tray when they have hardened, place the tray over a hob flame for a couple of seconds, and then they should come right off!

Orange Peel in Syrup – why waste the peel?

I was making a cake last week that required candied orange peel but instead I used zest since I had no peel. It got me thinking about all the oranges we eat and all that lovely peel that gets thrown away. I don’t have this problem with lemons as we use so much lemon zest in our cooking that I more likely to have lots of naked lemons in the fridge. So I decided that  oranges would be my fruit of the week and pre peel them, turning the peel into these lovely syrupy bits of rind. The advantage of that was I  had ready peeled oranges to eat at work, the downside was, like all food with me if it’s in front of me it gets eaten so I consumed them over 2 days instead of the whole week :o)

Alternately, so you don’t get an orange overload in one day, each orange you eat you could pop the peel into the freezer and when you have enough defrost them and make the syrup. I have already made the most amazing chocolate orange scones with the syrupy peel and plan to make an ice cream at some point. You can also put a few spoons full into a chocolate cake or my brownies here. Or simply spoon over yoghurt or ice cream or jazz up your cereal with some.


  • Peel from 5 Oranges
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1.5 cups water


  1. Quarter oranges and remove peel, removing any excess pith. Slice orange peel into strips
  2. Place peel strips into a pan of water and boil for 3 minutes to remove some bitterness. Other recipes suggest repeating this 3 times but didn’t and find the rind tastes great.
  3. Drain the boiled water and add the cup of sugar and cup and half of water to the rind and place over a low heat until sugar has dissolved.
  4. Turn heat up and gently boil until the water reduces by half and has become syrupy.
  5. Pour into sterilised jars and place lid on while hot.

Chocolate Almond Toffee

Homemade toffees always make me think of winter, Halloween and Bonfire night but my brain gets a little confused now living on the other side of the world. As it gets colder I still associate the cold with November to January not June to August, I have even been known to hum Christmas carols at the beginning of June because of the weather. Our sub conscious mind is a funny thing isn’t it, maybe that is why a mid winter Christmas is celebrated here in NZ at this time of year.

So even though we have no burning guy fork or bonfire, spooks or witches I have my toffee, well I did have, by the time I put the blog together a few days later it was gone, not even a sticky crumb left in the box! Hmmm, what shall I make next? Coconut ice? Cinder toffee, I’m already getting excited thinking about them. What’s your favourite toffee and do you have a link to a blog?


  • 7 tablespoons salted butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 30g slivered almonds
  • 100g chocolate (I used 70% but you can use milk also)


  1. Generously butter a 22cm tin or dish or double the recipe and use a cookie sheet.
  2. Place butter, sugar, and water in a heavy pan over  a low heat until the sugar has dissolved .
  3. Bring to a bubbling boil, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, about 10 minutes.
  4. Remove spoon from pan, and cook to a very brittle stage (300 degrees to 310 degrees F on a candy thermometer). Or, make a cold water test: candy will separate into hard, brittle threads when dropped in cold water.
  5. Pour into prepared dish, should be spread to 1/4-inch thickness.
  6. Sprinkle with half the slivered almonds.
  7. Cool slightly, top with chocolate and spread as it melts.
  8. Cool completely and break into pieces. Store in an airtight container.
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