In Australia at the moment, cooking is having a real moment. The recent influx of 'cooking-shows' has been a big part of it, along with the gradual rise of the 'celebrity-chef'. Can you say Masterchef, or Bill Granger?
These days, cookbooks are as essential as magazines for many savvy young Australians, as the art of cooking once again comes back into vogue. It's a bit of a lost skill: along with mix-tapes and letter-writing, it fell by the wayside as the iGeneration eagerly embraced microwaves and fast food, the quick and, some would argue, delicious new fixes for a grumbling tum.
But the tides have turned, and now, it's cool to be able to cook. It's impressive to turn up to school with a fancy, home-made lunch, and hosting a brunch or dinner party is no longer the 'lame' option when compared with dinner at a posh restaurant.
As for me? Well, I have always loved to cooked. It's healthier, yummier, cheaper, and can be much easier, than heading out. I find the process enjoyable, and satisfying. There is nothing I like better than putting on a Beatles CD at full volume and whipping up a batch of muffins. It's a sure-fire way to relax and have fun without vegging in front of the telly or computer.
On that note, I thought that I would share a couple of absolutely delicious lolly recipes I've been going a bit nutty over, across the easter weekend. I think I've made three batches of marshmallow and two batches of honeycomb in the last three days!
4 tablespoons golden syrup
1 cup caster sugar
3 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
1. Grease a 20 cm square cake tin or slice tray.
2. In a large saucepan, heat the golden syrup and sugar together, bring to a boil then simmer on low heat for 5-10 minutes. Cooking time will vary but test it by dropping a little syrup into water-it should become brittle when ready. Watch it doesn't burn.
3. Remove pot from heat and add the bicarb soda. Quickly mix it in because the mixture will foam up instantly. Pour immediately into the cake tin. Leave to set, and when cool, break into bite size chunks.
This is such a delicious recipe, and so easy. It's all a bit of a mad panic to mix the bicarb in and get it into the pan before it starts to go hard, but that's part of the fun :) If you like, at the end you can melt some chocolate and either dip the honeycomb in it or drizzle it over.
1 and 1/2 cups caster sugar
2 tablespoons gelatine
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pink food colouring
1/2 cup (or so) cornflour
1. Grease a 3cm-deep, 16.5cm x 26cm (base) slab pan. Line base and sides with baking paper, allowing a 2cm overhang at both long ends. Combine sugar and 2/3 cup hot water in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, for 3 minutes or until sugar dissolves and syrup is clear.
2. Using a fork, combine gelatine and 2/3 cup cold water in a jug. Pour into hot syrup. Cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes or until gelatine has dissolved and mixture is clear. Pour into bowl of an electric mixer. Set aside to cool to room temperature (about 30 minutes).
3. Using an electric mixer, beat sugar and gelatine mixture on high for 6 to 10 minutes or until very thick. Add vanilla and food colouring and beat for 1 minute. Spread into prepared pan. Smooth top. Set aside, at room temperature, for 1 hour or until set. Lift onto a board. Using a wet knife, cut marshmallow into 24 squares.
4. Place 1/2 cup cornflour in a small bowl. Roll marshmallows in cornflour to coat. Remove to a wire rack. Set marshmallows aside until surfaces feel dry (about 1 hour).
This one is a bit more complicated, but worth the effort. It tastes ten times better than store-bought, trust me!
Honeycomb recipe from here and marshmallow recipe from here.