custard tart vs chocolate pudding

custard tart || cityhippyfarmgirl

custard tart || cityhippyfarmgirl

I recently made a chocolate self saucing pudding.

It was fairly forgettable really.

Prompted from a chat on instagram, I wanted to revisit my early teen winning staple. And I really mean staple. I made those chocolate puddings on a weekly basis at one stage. Fueled by my love of anything dessert orientated and driven by a new found kitchen freedom that one seems to acquire after a certain period of time that has passed of proving yourself. Yep, I could bake them alright, and along with it feed my hungry mouthed siblings all through the long winter months. (Which weren’t particularly long, but it does sound more dramatic.)

The question was, would I be doing the same for my own children? Would the humble self saucing chocolate pudding become a family favourite as it once was mine?

Errr, no. No it won’t be.

I made it. It was pleasant, and that was about it. It seems my chocolate pudding days go no further. After 20 plus years of not making it, it seems my palate has completely changed. No longer sated by a simple concoction of self-raising flour, sugar, and cocoa. It really just didn’t do anything for me.

Now I could adapt a recipe, make it my own. Throw some more ingredients in there that are more attune to what our young family enjoys, however I probably won’t… as instead I revisited the humble custard tart.

And that dear people, was well worth the revisit.

Given that I have a long held history with custard anything, it would have been a shame if this one didn’t cut it. At times in my younger life I may have been held up by custard. It’s not the first time I’ve mentioned the love for custard on the blog, (nor probably the last.) But what I will mention is the tart disappeared far quicker than the chocolate pudding, which unfortunately seemed to quietly whither within the fridge over a period of days.

This recipe isn’t very complicated. There is no resting of pastry, no straining of custard, and if you feel like that second slice…I say go right ahead.

custard tart || cityhippyfarmgirl

Custard Tart


180g cold cubed butter

50g icing sugar

1 egg

250g plain flour

In a blender pulse, butter, flour and sugar together until it forms bread crumbs. Drop an egg in and a give it a quick whizz. Pop the mixture out on to a lightly floured bench top and gently knead until the dough comes together. Between two baking sheets, roll it out to about .5cm thickness. Plop the dough into your greased pie or tart dish, keeping one side of the baking paper on there. With the baking paper side up, add pie weights or something to weigh the pastry casing down- bake blind for about 20-15 minutes or until golden at 180C.


600mls milk

2 tsps vanilla

4 egg yolks

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup cornflour

50g melted butter


Add all ingredients except milk and nutmeg together to form a paste like consistency. In a pot over medium heat, add all of the paste and slowly add the milk, stirring continually. Keep stirring until the custard just comes together and then take it off the heat. (If by chance you get side tracked, and your custard gets a little lumpy- wizz it with a hand held mixer- voila! smooth custard.)

Pour custard into the tart shell and grate a little fresh nutmeg over the top.

Eat with enthusiasm and noisy laughter.

simple custard  tart recipe || cityhippyfarmgirl

Pistachio and Vanilla Panna Cotta with Persian Pashmak

panna cotta

I was a little nervous about using the Pashmak. I hadn’t really understood why until it came out in an email to the revered foodie Tania. I had asked her for some input on what to make with the goods and suddenly it became abundantly clear to me… I was nervous because this Persian fairy floss was dainty and delicate.

Dainty, delicate… and pink!

Not three words that I would usually string together in my cooking. Rustic yes, every day yes, basic yes…but dainty and delicate? Not really.

I’d bought it with grand visions, plans changed, ideas came and went, and so did the time. When are you going to use that stuff? said Mr Chocolate helpfully… Soon, really soon.

Cupcakes possibly… a cake could be good…or perhaps a little panna cotta?

Now panna cotta sounded like the right thing although along with never having played with pashmak before I’d never tried making panna cotta before, or used gelatine for that matter.

Well that was my answer wasn’t it. The one that I had the least amount of knowledge on, and only a fluffy idea forming, well that would be the one. Of course it would be, it’s the cityhippyfarmgirl way. Hackbaking I like to call it, (and if it all ended up in colourful sloppy mess in a bowl? I had a sneaking suspicion we’d still eat it.)


Pistachio and Vanilla Panna Cotta

300mls cream

150g natural yogurt

50mls water

75g raw sugar

 1 tsp vanilla

60 mls water

2 1/2 tsp powder gelatine

Sprinkle the gelatin over the water, dissolving it. In a pot add the cream, yogurt and sugar- gently heat to dissolve the sugar. Cool a little, and add the gelatine mixture and vanilla, dissolve again.  Pour into individual glasses and chill for about 3 hours.

40g lightly roasted pistachios- roughly crushed

Persian Pashmak*


* Pashmak wilts in humidity…a lot!

If you like rose water, you can swap this for the vanilla.

puddings and puddles

The sun sets early now, when there is a sun that is.

It’s been cold, wet and grey here lately. The days have the stamp of winter on it.

Looped scarfs. wet puddles to jump in, bare trees and mornings starting with wailing black cockatoos overhead.

This is our winter. Not a winter with snow, and sub zero temperatures but a Sydney winter non the less. A winter that calls for heartier food. Slow cooked soups, polenta dishes and perhaps the odd pudding or two.

Sticky Date Pudding

125g softened butter

80g brown sugar*

2 beaten eggs

1 tsp cinnamon

zest of an orange

300g self raising flour

220g dates (I used medjool dates)

1 tsp bicarbonate soda

125mls boiling water

Take any seeds out of the dates and split the dates in half. Pop them in a bowl, add the bicarb and boiling water, set aside.

Cream butter and brown sugar together. Add beaten eggs, orange zest, and cinnamon mix well. Then add date mixture and fold through the flour.

I baked these in individual size cake pans for approximately 25 minutes at 180C. You can easily bake it as a whole cake, and adjust cooking time to suit.

* you could add more sugar if you like your whole pudding experience to be on the sweeter side. I think there is enough sweetness in the sauce though.


300mls cream

110g dark muscavado sugar

100g butter

Bring cream to a simmer, add sugar and butter. Stir continuously until butter has melted, (and don’t let it boil over!)

Now with all that pudding energy…best go find some puddles to jump in.

Peach and Almond Clafoutis

Do you ever have those moments when you are glad that you are friends with your kitchen? Your hand goes past your face, and you get a smell of peaches. You check the other hand, bringing it to your nose and there is a dash of almond still residing there. If someone was smelling your hair, there would probably be the lingering smell of a little baked vanilla and sugar. I like those moments. It sure beats smelling like old sausages… or cabbages.

Now, up until now I had been Clafoutis-less. That is, I hadn’t eaten one before, let alone made one. I was reading through the tasty Bits and Breadcrumbs, and there before me was a clafoutis. Looking fine in all its appley-ness. I commented, I mentioned I had peaches. Bits&Breadcrumbs mentioned amaretto and whoosh I was off.

Amaretto had been on my list of ‘things’ for a couple of years. I still hadn’t bought any. Put it down to hormones or an obsessive compulsive collection of taste buds but I rather fancied some and the best biscuits of my life eaten here, had only enhanced that wanting. I nipped down to the bottle shop before I could convince myself otherwise and two minutes later was left holding a gorgeous big bottle that surely would last years…maybe.

I resisted having a smell of it there and then, but key in the front door, Little Monkey pushed to the side and that lid was off like a rocket.

Ahhhhh, that’s the ticket.

It smells amazing. I have no inclination to drink it, (on account of a bubba in my belly) but smell it, oh yes. So I do, all afternoon.

Every time I walk past the kitchen. Sometimes I find an excuse just to walk by again.

Ahhhhh… Amaretto, I think I love thee.

I don’t know what it is that appeals. It’s slightly medicinal smelling, and like marzipan it has that almond something that just does it for me. What’s not to like really.

Peach and Almond Clafoutis

3 eggs

50g raw sugar

75g plain flour

50g almond meal

300mls cream

80mls milk

1 tsp vanilla

2 tbls amaretto

zest of half a lemon

peaches quartered

Grease a baking dish, and sprinkle it with raw sugar.

In a separate bowl, whisk eggs and sugar together. Then whisk in remaining ingredients. Set aside and cut or slice your peaches, (or any other seasonal fruit*). Line the baking dish with them and then gently pour your cream mixture in.

Bake at 180C for approximately 40 minutes.


It’s summer here, so stone fruit is tasting wonderful at the moment. Use what ever fruit you have in season though, apples (like bits and breadcrumbs did), blueberries, cherries (as was traditionally used), apricots, plums, or raspberries (as Christine made at Slow Living Essentials)…

run with it.

Golden Syrup Ginger Puddings

Winter has drawn to an end, and along with it the need for heavier, warming desserts after dinner.

Eeeek, hang on a second… I’d barely got started! I had mental puddings lined up, still waiting to be made. Hold off blossoming flowers, sit tight warming day time temperatures… there are puddings to be made. 

I wanted to make something without a whole lot of hassle, and not crazy, crazy sweet. (If you want to up the sweet, put more golden syrup in the bottom.) Easy to quickly put together and heats well over the next few days… or eaten cold in the middle of the night when hunger knocks on your door...*ahem*

Golden Syrup Ginger Puddings

200g softened butter

100g brown sugar

2 tsp cinnamon

2 beaten eggs

2 cups of flour (300g)

1/2 cup yogurt (125mls)

handful chopped uncrystallized ginger

Cream butter and sugar, add beaten eggs and remaining ingredients. In ramekins, a couple of spoonfuls of golden syrup (depends how sweet you want it) and then spoon pudding mixture on top. Place ramekins in a tray full of water in the oven. Water should come about half way up the sides of the ramekins. Bake at 190C for about 40 minutes, (cooked when a skewer comes up clean.)

Strawberries in Lemon

Some delicious strawberries are starting to hit my kitchen bench. Just briefly.

Briefly as The Monkeys like to wrestle them out of my hands and flick them into the mouths quicker than you can say… hey, I was going to eat that.

I hid two punnets at the back of the fridge. It was the only way I was going to get this dessert out.

Strawberries in Lemon

2 punnets of strawberries (minus maybe a few…. they looked good to me too)

3 tbls raw sugar

3 tbls lemon juice

Let it sit for about an hour, letting all those juices think about things a while. Then put on the table with a flourish…. look what I just found at the back of the fridge!

*For an adult version swap the lemon juice for a sweet white wine.

* For Sydney-siders locally grown strawberries are coming in soon, so keep a look out at your friendly local farmers markets.

Lemon and Rhubarb Pie

Tarty. Very tarty.

Not in a fishnets, leather and red stilhetto kind of way. More eye squinty, and lip smackable. Just the way I like it.

When I cook, I usually have someone in mind, with whom I’m trying to appeal to their taste buds. Fried rice, with all the vegetables raw and lined up on the side, that would be The Monkeys. Pasta after a really busy day at work, with floating double smoked bacon, followed by two blocks of his favourite chocolate? Well clearly that would be Mr Chocolate.

This time around though, and it was all about my taste buds. I had pie on my mind, rhubarb in the fridge and a bench full of backyard lemons that were all yelling one thing to me. Make me into something delicious!

So I did. Something for me and my tastebuds. A little selfish? Oh hell no. They get enough Monkey friendly, Mr Chocolate friendly things to eat. Of course they were more than welcome to eat the tarty fruity pie in front of them, and if they didn’t like it… well, not much of tragedy there really is there?

Little Monkey tried it. Monkey Boy tried it.

Both scoffed it down and would like another piece please. Oh…didn’t quite make it tarty enough now did I.

Mr Chocolate tried it, and did the eye squint I was expecting from him, yep, it’s good, but you know it’s not really my thing… thank goodness for that.

Now I just had to muscle the two kids out of the way for that last piece.

Lemon Rhubarb Pie


200g cold cubed butter

300g plain flour

110g natural yogurt

50g sugar

1 tsp white vinegar

In a processor add flour, sugar and butter. Pulse until resembles bread crumbs. Tip into a bowl adding the remaining ingredients, mix together and then give a quick  knead on a lightly floured surface then cover and pop into the fridge.


1 bunch of rhubarb

100g sugar

Trim edges, and cut into equal lengths, pop in a pot with the sugar over a medium heat, and cook until rhubarb has disolved to rhubarby mush. Put aside.

Lemon mixture

100mls lemon juice

1/2 cup sugar

2 tbls cornflour

100mls water

Mix cornflour and water together, then add to remaining ingredients in a pot. Whisk over a medium heat until mixture thickens.

Roll out your pastry on to lightly floured bench, and then line a greased pie dish with it. Layer the lemon mixture on, then the rhubarb. Roll out a second pastry top and slit it, gently pulling it sideways to open up a little. Press down the edges and bake at 180C for about 50minutes.

gluten and sugar free crumble

I didn’t feel like sugar and I didn’t feel like flour… but I did feel like dessert. The rhubarb was fast becoming friends with the flacid celery in the fridge and I still had some squirrelled away blueberries in the freezer. A crumbley thing it was. Lots of similar variations of this had been popping up around the blogosphere. It’s funny how a food dish can sneak it’s way in, and suddenly everyone is happily eating a variation of the same thing. 

So did rhubarb without sugar work?

It probably didn’t work as well as it could have. However, the honey was a decent trade off and completely passable if you were going easy on the sugar and didn’t want any gluten though. The Monkeys had two serves of this, so it certainly passed their palate test. Mr Chocolate got through it and declared yes it was good… but the last one was better, (with sugar and flour.)

Blueberry Rhubarb Crumble

(gluten/ sugar free)

Bunch of chopped rhubarb and a punnet of frozen blueberries

in the microwave for 3 minutes

while that’s cooking

blitz 1 cup of toasted almonds/hazelnuts/linseed in food processor (chunks not crumbs)

add 1 tsp vanilla and 1 tsp cinnamon

then 3 tablespoons honey

mix it round and pop on the top of the fruit

into the oven at 180C until golden

Blueberry Frangipane

3am and I’m sitting in an armchair next to Little Monkey’s hospital bed when he broke his leg. The armchair was my bed for the duration, swamped by blankets I’d made a nest for myself so I could keep one eye closed for sleep and one eye watching carefully over the little fella as he slept.

In my hand however was a the most delicious thing I had encountered for quite a while. Not hospital food, but a frangipane fruit tart. Brought in earlier, by my very thoughtful sister from Brasserie Bread.

I’m not sure whether it was the fact that I was eating it at 3am that made it delicious, or it really was the best darn tasting tart I had ever tasted. Either way, it was superb and I couldn’t get enough of it. Fast forward 2 months, and that hopsital stay is happily a distant crappy foggy memory, but that tart….

That tart, was the kind of tart that makes you sit back, and let those taste buds reminisce. I put the tart in my, will have to give that a crack one day… thought pile and then went about my business. Until Amy at Tiny Tea Room posted on a pastry-less almond Pear Tart. Now with Amy’s stunning photography I’m sure she could make a white bread cheese sandwich appealing, but non-the less that sweet almondy goodness was brought back to my mind, front and centre…. and no pastry? Even quicker!

I wanted not crazy sweet, vanilla-y tones, and a gritty type texture….oh and easy. Let’s play…

Blueberry Frangipane

150gms softened butter

1/2 cup raw sugar

2 tsp vanilla essence

3 eggs

150gms almond meal* (1 1/2 cups)

100gms course semolina (1/2 cup)

125gms blueberries

Cream butter and sugar together, Add the vanilla and eggs. Stir through almond meal and semolina. Blueberries on top. Bake in a greased, floured tin (approx 23cm square) at 180C for about 30minutes or until light golden.

* I lightly toasted whole almonds, skin on, and then blitzed them in the blender to make the almond meal.

Verdict? It didn’t quite match that 3am frangipane fruit tart but I was happy with it. Super easy, and really quick. I think this one might become a regular favourite. You can easily up the sugar if you want it sweeter, and swap the blueberries for other seasonal fruit.

Cardamom Semolina Diamonds

Indian Semolina Balls.

That’s what I’ve got these little cardamom treats written down as. A recipe that is well entwined into my childhood memories with cardamom flavours, plump sultanas and nutty cashews. Given half the chance I would have eaten my weight in these little things. One, two…oops, ten.

I’d re-written the recipe from my mum’s recipe folder a long time ago, although had only vaguely written down the quantities and even more vaguely written down the method. I knew how they were supposed to taste, but wasn’t so sure how to get there. Then I realised I didn’t have cashews…. and I didn’t think I really wanted to roll them anyway… So that changes a few things doesn’t it.

Indian Semolina Balls turned into squares? That’s not so exciting.

Diamonds?….much more enticing.

Cashews? I never have them about…

I’ve got flaked almonds though…would that work?

Cardamom Semolina Diamonds

(Inspired from my mum, and before that a 70’s Indian Vegetarian Recipe Book)

4 tbls ghee

1 cup semolina

1 cup loose brown sugar

1 cup milk

1 1/2 tsp cardamom

toasted flaked almonds

Melt ghee in a pot, add semolina and fry until golden. Add brown sugar and cardamom, mix through. Add milk and handful of sultanas. Stir until thickens. Pour into square tin, press down and add flaked almonds. Into fridge until hardens up a bit. (or wait until mixture cools and roll into balls, replacing almonds with toasted cashews.)

10 minutes tops to make, if you’ve already got the toasted almond flakes.

Chocolate Brandy Layer Cake

The man looked at me.

It’s for cooking with, right?

Ah yes, yes it is.

Now how did he know that the brandy I was attempting to buy, was for cooking and not straight consumption? How did he know that I wasn’t hot footing it home, with The Monkeys in tow. Home to make Brandy Alexanders for cocktail hour for when my dear Mr Chocolate got home from a long days work. Cocktails matched with an assortment of jellied canapes and devilled something or others.

I don’t know how he knew, but he knew. I mustn’t have had the Brandy Alexander cocktail look going on that morning. Instead, I had the wholesome cook look happening… or was it the flustered mama shopping with kids in tow look, I can’t remember now.

I explained that yes, he was right, it was for cooking, I needed it for a cake and some hot cross buns, and I had run out of my brandy stash. He cocked an eyebrow, and looked at me as if I had just started beatboxing I’m a little teapot….

Cooking all that?…Is that because of My Kitchen Rules?*

Um no, no it isn’t…

Chocolate Brandy Layer Cake

150gms softened butter

140gms caster sugar (3/4 cup)

2 tps vanilla

3 egg yolks

40gms cocoa (1/3 cup)

300gms s/r flour (2 cups)

150gms yogurt (3/4 cup)

3 egg whites whipped to peaks

Cream softened butter, sugar and vanilla essence together. Add egg yolks, yogurt, cocoa and flour. (looks quite stiff at this stage.) Add whipped egg whites by folding through the mixture. Pop into  a greased, lined springform pan and bake at 180C fpr approx 55 minutes.

Allow cake to cool in tin for 15 minutes and then out on to a plate.

When completely cool, cut cake into thirds, (3 discs).

Mascarpone mixture

vanilla bean mascarpone

150mls cream

1 cup icing sugar

I made my own mascarpone from 450mls cream (details on how to make it are here.) Then whipped 150mls pouring cream to soft peaks, adding the vanilla bean mascarpone, and 1 cup icing sugar. Keep an eye on it, don’t let it over beat. You are looking for soft peaks, holding itself together.

60mls hot brandy  needed now

On the first cake layer, drizzle 1/3 of the hot brandy followed by a little less than 1/3 of the mascarpone mixture and then add some grated dark chocolate, (I used 75% cocoa). Second layer of cake on, and the same format. Brandy, mascarpone, grated chocolate. For the last layer, spread a thin layer of the mascarpone first, (this will keep any footloose crumbs at bay.) Then add the remaining mascarpone and grate more dark chocolate over the top.

The cake held together really well. It wasn’t intensely chocolatey or sweet. The yogurt and mascarpone kept it lovely and moist to eat, (even 4 days later being kept in the fridge.) The light was falling fast and so were The Monkeys, (dinner was calling) so the photos didn’t do this little cake any justice, but I’ll definitely be making it again.

* My Kitchen Rules, a cooking competition programme with teams of two competing against each other.

pumpkin pie

When I was about 10 years old I tasted pumpkin pie. I thought it was delicious and it went down in my memory bank as one of the most delicious things I had ever eaten. It remained at the back of that cluttered old mind of mine, occasionally popping out long enough for me to think mmm, pumpkin pie, and then pop back in.  Since starting a blog, I have been inundated with delicious looking foods around the blogasphere and one that kept catching my attention was this pumpkin pie again. Perhaps it was time to give it a crack?

A traditional Thanksgiving pie eaten in American it doesn’t seem to get much of a look in many other countries. There always seems to be other desserts to be made first. After consulting a friend from the US, pouring through my own cookbooks and scrutinizing any one that blogged a pie. (Like the lovely Joanna’s and Kimberley’s.) The day was set. Pie was to be made and let no one stand in my way.


….Actually I’m not sure there is a verdict. As I haven’t had a pumpkin pie since I was about 10 to compare it to it makes it a bit tricky. The recipe I had seemed a little bland. So I doubled the spices, (or was that tripled?) most American recipes call for canned pumpkins, and that just wasn’t going to happen here, (I’m pretty sure, no one would sell it in Australia.) So using a butternut pumpkin, egg yolks only (I needed the whites for something else), and condensed milk not evaporated or fresh, it was made. My grandmother rang just as I was making the mixture up and after complaining it tasted a little bland, she suggested some lemon zest. Brilliant, that lifted it up a notch. In the oven and away.

The American taste test, declared not bad. A little heavier than a traditional one, but not bad at all. (Lovely polite friends I have :-))

Not crazy sweet, (despite a whole can of condensed milk in there) and filling enough to let you know, yep I just ate pumpkin pie. I think next time I want to play around with the flavours a bit more. I may have some American readers yelling at the computer screen about now, you did it wrong. What is she thinking?…but I am thinking some muscavado sugar to give a more complex flavour in the pumpkin mixture and maybe a little caramalised toasted macadamia nuts on top to give it an Aussie twist and a little texture.

I think to be continued…

Pumpkin Pie

your favourite shortcrust pastry

desired pie dish sizes (I did individual ones and mini)

2 cups of mashed cooked pumpkin (I used butternut)

1 can condensed milk

2 tps cinnamon

1 tps ground ginger

1/2 tps nutmeg

1/2 tps salt

1 tps cardamom (I couldn’t resist, my hand naturally falls on it)

1 tps lemon zest

2 egg yolks.

Mixed it all in together. Divide into pastry lined pie dish/es, and bake at 180C until golden (approx 40 mins).