3 December 2012

honey nut slice

Fresh bread toasted with generous amounts of butter and honey, what could be better.
Honey on toast is perfect for a head cold as it deliciously soothes a sore throat.
Head colds in summer suck, especially when you get one a day before you start holidays.
This slice will make it better.
Short bread base with honey caramel that is not over overpoweringly sweet with fresh roasted nuts.
Perfect to brighten your mood if you have a head cold, even better slice for Christmas.
Tis the season.

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Honey Nut Slice

125g butter
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 egg yolk
1 cup plain flour
1/3 cup SR flour
2/3 cup honey
1/3 cup brown sugar
90g butter, extra
2 tbsp thickened cream
1 cup pecans
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup hazelnuts

Preheat oven to 160c. Grease and line a slice tin. Beat butter, caster sugar and egg yolk in a small bowl until light and fluff. Stir in sifted flours. Press mixture into the slice tin and bake for 15mins or until lightly golden. 
Stir honey, brown sugar and extra butter in a medium saucepan over a low heat until sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil and allow to boil for 2 minutes uncovered without stirring. Add the cream and boil for one minute while stirring. Remove from the heat and stir in nuts until well combined. Pour the nut mixture over the base and bake for about 15mins. Cool in slice pan and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before cutting.

26 November 2012

quinoa and pumpin salad

This salad is amazing, this salad will change your life. I had an ah-huh moment the other week. I visited the Finders Keepers markets where I sampled a mega salad from Kate's Vegetarian Food Stall. (Can be found weekly at Jan Powers markets). It rocked my world. Risoni, quinoa, chickpeas each combined with their delicious accompaniments. Beetroot hummus and sweet potato falafel...oh my gosh. At this moment it made me realise that I would be okay with being a vegetarian. It would be alright if I never ate meat again because these flavour combinations awoke something inside me that I didn't realise was there. I had never felt this way about a salad before. I wanted to recreate one of these salads so badly, or at least find a similar recipe to devour and not feel guilty as the whole thing was good for me. I spent a good couple of hours searching for wholefoods, raw foods, vegetarian foods. I stumbled across Green Kitchen Stories and their Winter Pumpkin Millet Salad. So delightfully fresh but filling. 

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It makes me want to eat more healthy raw preservative free foods that are fresh and natural. My first time trying quinoa I was delighted, it will now be a regular in my kitchen pantry. Although I love my baked goods I acknowledged they are a sometimes food, I hope to share more fresh healthy meals with you, but don't get to worried as I will always have my sweet tooth! You can't tell me that this salad doesn't look amazing!

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I swapped the millet for quinoa, added more lemon to the dressing as well as using a stick mixer to combine the dressing ingredients into a chunky yet silky herbal burst of flavour.
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Quinoa and Pumpkin Salad

recipe adapted from Green Kitchen Stories

Ingredients

1 cup raw quinoa
1/2 butternut pumpkin
100g raw hazelnuts
2 avocados, diced
1 small broccoli, cut into small florets
2 handfuls of purple grapes, cut in half
2 handfuls of baby spinach, shreadded
1 pomegranate, seeds

Chunky Herb Dressing
1 handful basil
1 handful parsley
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 lemon, juiced
3-4 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 200c. Trim, peel and remove the seeds from the pumpkin. Dice into small cubes. Place on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Coat with a drizzle of olive oil and salt and pepper. Bake for 30mins or until soft and slightly browned. Remove from oven and cool completely.
The last 10 minutes of baking time, place the hazelnuts on a separate baking tray, sprinkle with salt and toast until skin cracks and browned. Remove and let cool slightly, rub between a rough cloth or kitchen towel to remove the skin. Chop coarsely.

Rinse the quinoa in a sieve with boiling water, then place in a large microwave save container with 2 cups of boiling water and cook for 10mins on high uncovered. Set aside covered for a further 10mins or until all the water is absorbed. Allow to cool completely. You can also substitute the boiling water for chicken or vegetable stock for more flavour.

To make the herb dressing combine all of the ingredients in a small food processor and process until silky. Mix dressing through the quinoa in a large bowl until all the quinoa is coated in the dressing. Gently mix in the rest of the ingredients and try hard to resist eating the whole bowl.

8 November 2012

flame tree bakery

I have been trying to surround myself with creative folk lately and one person who has caught my eye is Lauren of Flame Tree Bakery. I initially saw on Facebook events advertising pie drives and cupcake drives, which impressed me as cooking in bulk, especially baked goods, is one thing I struggle with. So after my taste buds were tempted by all of these foods I was delighted to see the opening of Flame Tree Bakery. I was fortunate enough to sample some of the delights from Flame Tree and have a chat with the creator Lauren who is not only an avid baker but a master of costume design with a bachelor of animation to top it all off. Here is a closer look into Flame Tree including the images I snapped of her mouthwatering sweets.

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What and who is Flame Tree Bakery?
Flame Tree is simply little old me, Lauren baking away in my family home at Strathpine, 40 mins north of Brisbane.


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What inspired you to create Flame Tree?
Before I started Flame Tree I was working in an office and it wasn't a bad job, it allowed me to make enough money to go overseas twice. But as a creative person I felt like I was losing my essence in a way, I didn't enjoy what I was doing at all. So in January I decided that this year (2012) would be Year of Lauren, where I would focus on changing my life a bit! I started ballet, I joined a musical, I left my job in April and began thinking of ways I could make money to live.
I knew I was good at three things - art, sewing and baking. Art is a fickle way of earning money, at least at first and sewing isn't quite time/cost effective. I'd always had people tell me they loved my baking and loved to do it, so it seemed like a possible viable option. I organized a week long Bake Sale for Ballet over Facebook as a way of earning a little cash so I could keep taking ballet classes. I had 4 dessert pies and 3 kinds of macarons available for pickup and delivery orders and was expecting to get about 5 pity orders from my friends. That was not the case. By the end of the week I'd baked about 52 pies and over 200 macarons and made enough money to keep me in ballet for the year and then some! A month or so later I organized a cupcake drive with fantastic results again! It was after this, with the encouragement of my fellow baking sister and my baked good eating friends that I decided to make Flame Tree, a Facebook page where my food was showcased and people could order it whenever they wanted, rather than waiting for another drive.


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What is your favourite thing to a) bake, b) eat?
Both of those often go hand in hand, as I'll cook whatever I feel like eating most of the time. But in general, my favourite thing to bake is probably pie, especially when I get to be inventive (see Game of Pies on my blog). For the half hour I'm making a pie I feel like I could be in a small town, wearing cute dresses and aprons and everyone would know my name and tell newcomers about my pies (clearly I've been watching Gilmore Girls and Waitress too often!) Or chocolate mint brownies, as they were the first thing I mastered and cooked constantly since primary school.
Picking one favourite thing to eat would be like trying to pick my favourite blade of grass in a field, I love it ALL! But a few of my all time favourites are: Pumpkin pie, crusty bread (especially with avocado, but really, bread with or without anything), brownies, lamb and mushroom stew, pea and ham soup, burritos, cherries, malted milk and absolutely anything that is chocolate mint!


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Where do you hope to see Flame Tree in the future?
My dream would be to have a little bakery either here in south east Queensland or in Tasmania. It would have green walls with a big flame tree painted on one side. The furniture would be wooden and worn, possibly painted red or orange and if it was in Tasmania I'd have a fire place. There would be a bookshelf full of classic novels and fairy tales that people could read while they eat. There might be vines, there might be fairy lights. I would constantly be trying and inventing new pies/cakes/macarons/biscuits and all my regular customers (who I would know by name) would look forward to finding new things on the menu every week!
That's the dream. But for now I just hope to constantly have enough orders that I can eat, pay board, buy fuel, have fun and maybe buy a new dress now and then....


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If you want to hear more or see more from Lauren or get your hands on her tasty baked goods check out her...



29 October 2012

raspberry mint ice cubes

With the weather warming up all I can think of is how much I am looking forward to iced drinks, ice blocks and fresh juice. I have been noticing fruit filled ice cubes everywhere so I thought I would give some a try myself. 

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Raspberry and mint ice cubes in lemonade have been on my mind all week. They turned out better than I imagined. I love how as the cubes melt the raspberries slowly stain the lemonade light pink. The raspberry and mint flavour begins to sneak through the lemonade making it deliciously fresh. If you dare to bite into a cube the perfectly preserved flavour of the raspberries will explode in a combination of bitter and sweet in your mouth followed closely by a refreshing burst of mint.

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Yum yum, I can't wait to try these cubes with different fruit...it think lemon and lime is on the cards next!!

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16 October 2012

cocoa nib coffee cake

I have been holding out on you all lately. I baked this cake long ago (well a couple of weeks) and I have been teasing you with preview pictures on my Facebook page ever since. I don't blame you for getting a little cranky or impatient. I had forgotten about this cake until I needed to produce something for Josh for afternoon tea yesterday. I opened the freezer and found this in perfect portions. So after microwaving a piece and serving it up with a cup of tea I was soon dubbed the afternoon tea champion. 



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The idea of this cake came about after I found some cocoa nibs at Josophan's Fine Chocolate Shop in the Blue Mountains while on a road trip. (If you enjoy hot chocolate as much as I do Josophan's Mayan Hot Chocolate is worth a try.) I instantly thought of a cocoa nib cake recipe that I had seen on the food blog Not Without Salt and I figured that would be the perfect way for me to try out my new found favourite ingredient.  When I treated myself to a bundt tin a few weeks ago I knew that it was time to give birth to this coffee cake of the cocoa nib variety.



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This cake is deliciously moist. You can find the recipe here and due to the shear length of it I won't even attempt to reproduce it as I baked it exactly how the instructions say. Not only is the cocoa nib and almond crust on the top and the bottom of the cake deliciously morish but the cream cheese swirl through the middle and hit of orange make this a cake you will have to try. All I can say is yum! 


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6 October 2012

the pulled pork burger adventure

I usually don't blog what I have for dinner, which is disappointing to both me and you as this food is usually the best I produce. I believe it is because I haven't played around with my camera settings enough to get a good shot without natural lighting and because I prefer to use raw images rather than editing them to make them pretty. It is also difficult to pause and style a meal after cooking it. As a result I feel none are good enough to share with others in my mind.

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Tonight I am making an exception, purely due to how epic this meal was. I will call this meal the Pulled Pork Adventure. Yesterday I bought the new cook book by Katie Quinn Davis, a food blogger that I admire and look up to. Her photography and styling is gorgeous to look at and so is her food. The driving factor for me buying this cookbook was the pulled pork burgers that I saw on her blog. She didn't post the recipe online so I knew it was one of the gems she was saving for her book, and sure enough I was right. I picked the book up in the shop and like fate it opened straight to the page with these succulent savouries.

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The book is beautiful and because I want you to go and buy it for yourself I won't be sharing the recipe with you.

 
So after mentally preparing myself for the task ahead while buying the 2.5kg piece of pork shoulder from my butcher I began cooking. This took 7hrs to produce. For 6 hours my house smelt of memories of my grandmothers house on a Sunday when she cooks a roast meal every week for lunch or past Christmases with the family.  When finally finished the meat was so beautiful and tender and exceeded my expectations. My only disappointment, that it was only myself and Josh who were around to reap the rewards of my whole day of roast porking, mostly due to the fact that the excitement was over in ten minutes, the time it took for Josh to demolish two of these beauties. I feel if I had of presented this to any of my pork loving friends or family that it would be deemed the best pork meal they had ever tasted.

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Make sure you check out Katie's blog What Katie Ate for some more delicious photos of these delicious burgers!!

21 September 2012

apricot muesli bars

I work 12hr shifts. Usually by mid afternoon I am searching for a snack that will get me through until I get home for dinner. Lately I have been reaching for that block of chocolate or sweet biscuit. However when I found this recipe I knew it would be a great fix that I didn't have to feel to guilty about as I know all of the ingredients that are in this tasty treat. Although these bars are relatively healthy for you they have a delicious caramelised honey flavour to them, yum!!

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recipe from Women's Weekly Super Diet

Ingredients

125g butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp honey
2 1/4 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots (goji berries/blueberries/cranberries)
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup desiccated coconut

Preheat oven to 160c, grease and line a slice tin. Combine butter, sugar and honey in a medium saucepan and stir over a low heat until the butter is melted and sugar dissolved. Transfer mixture to a large bowl and mix in the oats, apricots, seeds and coconut. Press into slice tin and bake for 35mins. Cut into bars while still warm and allow to cool in the tin.

23 August 2012

dark chocolate panna cotta

Once again dark chocolate wins the vote in my household. However this time I found something that has defeated Josh. This is the first chocolate dessert that Josh has not been able to demolish before looking around wondering where the next treat is. This panna cotta is incredibly rich. It is smooth and silky yet desperately needs the couple of raspberries and whipped cream to cut through its heaviness. If you are a chocolate fan this is in my opinion one of the best ways to enjoy it.


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Dark Chocolate Panna Cotta

Ingredients

1/4 cup water
2 tsp gelatine powder
3 cups single pouring cream
1 cup icing sugar
200g 70% cocoa chocolate, chopped
fresh cream and raspberries to serve

Place the water in a bowl, sprinkle over the gelatine and set aside. Place the cream and sugar in a saucepan over a high heat and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat before whisking in the chocolate and gelatine mixture until smooth. Strain into lightly greased moulds or glasses. Refrigerate for 4 hours or until firm. Serve the chilled panna cottas topped with cream and raspberries.

15 August 2012

date and ginger pikelets with apple butter

When I think of dates I think of sticky date pudding yum! When I think of ginger I think of how refreshing the spice makes different dishes. I never imagined them together but Donna Hay of course made them marry in some delicious pikelets slathered with apple butter. These were enough to make my mouth water just thinking about them and despite everyone at Mum's on Saturday initially turning up their noses at the flavour combination there comments came full circle when they cleared off the plate of them. Classy yet homely these are about as good as a ginger spiced sticky date cake in pikelet form drizzled with honey and the apple butter to come together and make your taste buds sing songs about the flavours of winter! If that's not enough to make you try them then you are missing out! The apple butter is not only gorgeous on these pikelets but also amazing served with your pork chops or roast as well!!

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Date and Ginger Pikelets with Apple Butter

recipe from Donna Hay Magazine ISSUE 63 June/July 2012

Ingredients

10 fresh dates pitted and chopped
1/4 cup boiling water
1 cup plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup caster suger
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 cup buttermilk
3 eggs, separated
honey, for drizzling

apple butter
4 green apples, peeled, cored and diced
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/4 cup water
80g butter softened
1/2 cup icing sugar

Place the dates and the boiling water in a food processor and set aside for 10 mins. Process until smooth. Place the flour, baking powder, sugar, ginger, buttermilk, egg yolks and date mixture in a bowl and whisk to combine. Place the egg whites in a separate bowl and whisk to stiff peaks form. Gently fold the egg whites through the batter. Heat a large lightly greased non stick frying pan over a medium heat. Cook 1/3 cup of the mixture until golden brown each side and cooked through, repeat with remaining mixture. Drizzle with honey and enjoy with apple butter.

Apple butter: Place the apple, sugar and water in a saucepan over a medium heat and cook for 15-20mins or until softened. Blitz with a stick mixer and mix through butter and icing sugar.

9 August 2012

pumpkin ricotta ravioli

Every time I go shopping or visit a book shop the cook book section is always the first place I go. However my cook book cupboard is so full that it has over flowed onto my book shelf as well as a basket on the floor under my coffee table. I've made a habit of looking through a cook book every time I sit down on the couch. Each time I find a different recipe I want to try depending on the mood that I'm in. After having some left over wonton wrappers from my pot stickers last week I thought I would give some super easy pumpkin and ricotta ravioli a try out of Donna Hay's Fresh, Fast, Simple.

These are in fact so simple that they will be added to the regular recipe list, and although vegetarian they managed to satisfy Josh's hunger which is a big deal for a dish without meat. The browned butter sauce makes the dish!

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Pumpkin Ricotta Ravioli

recipe from Donna Hay - Fresh, Fast, Simple

Ingredients
550g pumpkin, peeled and cubed
1 tsbp olive oil
250g ricotta
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan
1 tbsp oregano leaves roughly chopped
1 tbsp flat leaf parsley roughly chopped
sea salt and cracked pepper
20 wonton wrappers
extra parmesan to serve

brown butter sauce
50g butter
4 sprigs oregano

Preheat oven to 220c. Place pumpkin on a greased and lined oven tray, sprinkle with oil, bake for approx 30mins or until golden. Combine the ricotta, parmesan, oregano, parsley, salt and pepper. Place 2 tsp of ricotta mixture and 2 pieces of pumpkin on half the wontons. Brush the wonton edges with water and top with remaining wontons. Press the edges to seal ensuring no air is trapped inside the ravioli. Cook the ravioli in a large saucepan of boiling salted water for 3-4mins or until al dente. Drain and serve with remaining pumpkin, parmesan and browned butter sauce. 
Browned Butter Sauce - Cook the butter and oregano over a low heat until butter is lightly browned and oregano is crisp. Let the butter melt, it will begin to bubble. As the bubbles disappear it will begin to brown. At this stage remove the pan from the heat and continue to agitate until the butter stops bubbling.

2 August 2012

pork potsticker dumplings with soy greens

Although you my not be able to tell by the majority of my blog posts I enjoy savory foods much more than sweet. I find myself making sweet foods most of the time as they are easier to make look pretty and photograph. After seeing Fizzle Out cook some Vegetarian Golden Potstickers with a recipe she found from 101 cookbooks I thought I would give them a go myself. My version however contains pork mince as Josh would have turned his nose up at something that didn't contain meat, although I would love to give the veggo version a try one day.
These were surprisingly easy to make and don't take much time which is why you should give them a try.


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recipe from Donna Hay No Time to Cook

Pork Potsticker Dumplings with Soy Greens

Ingredients

500g pork mince
2 tbsp hoisin sauce
1 tbsp finely grated ginger
4 green onions finely sliced
24 wonton wrappers
4 tsp vegetable oil
1 cup chicken stock
350g choy sum
soy sauce to serve

Combine mince, hoisin, ginger and onion. Place a table spoon of the mixture on each wonton. Brush the edges of each wonton with water, fold in half and pinch together the edges to seal. Heat a non stick frying pan on a medium-high heat. Add the oil and 12 of the dumplings and cook for 2 minutes or until the bottom is browned. Add the stock and choy sum to the pan and cover with a tight fitting lid. Cook for 6-8 minutes without lifting the lid. To serve sprinkle the choy sum and dumplings with soy sauce. Cook the dumplings in batches of 12 at a time for best results. Enjoy!

26 July 2012

strawberry custard tart

With strawberries smelling so sweet and fresh and in season in Queensland at the moment I wanted to make something that would show off their ruby red colour and gorgeous flavour. This custard tart was a random find in one of the recent Coles magazines but it definitely met the mark of what I was looking for.


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Strawberry Custard Tart

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups plain flour
125g cold butter, chopped
1/2 cup almond meal
2 tbsp caster sugar
2 1/2 tbsp iced water
500g strawberries, halved and hulled
cream to serve

filling
250g mascarpone
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1/2 cup cream

Place flour and butter into a food processor and process until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Add in the almond meal and water and process until the dough comes together. 
Roll the dough out between two sheets of baking paper to fit the base of a loose bottomed flan tin. Chill for 20-30mins.
Preheat the oven to 180c. Line the pastry case with a sheet of baking paper and fill with weights/rice/beans and blind bake for 15mins. Remove paper and weights and cook for a further 15mins or until lightly golden. Set aside to cool. 
Combine the mascarpone, sugar, eggs and vanilla in a bowl and whisk well until smooth. Gradually add the cream whisking contantly. Pour the filling into the tart case and bake for 25mins, until set and lightly golden. 
Allow to cool before topping with strawberries. Enjoy as is or with a drizzle of cream.

21 July 2012

melting moments

I love melting moments, they are my choice companion with my takeaway coffees that I rarely have (which is probably a good thing). After watching Julia bake these on an episode of Masterchef, finding her recipe in the Woman's Day magazine and having some amazing passionfruit melting moments at Hunter Valley Cookies on a recent trip, they were the first thing I wanted to bake after returning home from my holiday. The jam could be made and enjoyed separately on scones or toast and the butter cream on top of some cupcakes. If you wanted you could also stir some passionfruit through the butter cream to make a filling similar to the one I enjoyed in the Hunter.

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Please note I was a little too generous with the filling, half of this amount would be enough.



 
Ingredients

biscuits
180g butter, softened
1/2 cup custard powder
1/3 cup icing sugar
1 1/4 cups plain flour
1 tsp baking powder

vanilla butter cream
100g butter, softened
2 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 cup icing sugar

raspberry jam
250g fresh or frozen raspberries
1 1/4 cups caster sugar
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp gelatine
1 tbsp water

biscuits
Preheat oven to 180c, line two baking trays with baking paper. Beat butter for 2 minutes. Add sifted custard powder and icing sugar and beat until well combined. Sift flour and baking powder into the dough and mix well to combine. Roll the dough into 24 even balls before placing evenly spaced on the prepared trays and pressing with a fork to slightly flatten and leave an indent. Bake for 15-20mins or until lightly golden. Allow to cool on the trays for 5mins before cooling completely on a wire rack.

vanilla butter cream
Beat butter and vanilla together until smooth. Sift in icing sugar and beat until mixture is a thick paste. Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a small star nozzle.

raspberry jam
In a small saucepan combine raspberries, sugar and lemon juice. Cook for 20mins on medium heat, stirring regularly and watching closely to ensure the jam doesn't stick and burn to the bottom of the pot. In a small bowl mix the gelatine and water together. Remove the jam from the heat and stir through gelatine before transferring to a heat proof bowl and cooling in the fridge.

To assemble place a spoonful of the cooled jam on the base of half of the biscuits. Pipe the butter cream in a circle onto the base of the remaining biscuits. If you are feeling lazy like I was the day that I made these you can spoon them on like you did the jam. Sandwich pairs together and enjoy.