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.

chocolate vanilla layer biscuits

Biscuits are handy.

They can sidetrack a hungry belly that is calling out for food.

They can quieten a noisy Monkey.

You can eat them with one hand.

They can give a subtle little sugar hit, when the search is on.

You can balance one on your nose… if you felt so inclined.

And most importantly they are really easy to make.

Chocolate Vanilla Layer Biscuits, my current favourites.

Chocolate Vanilla Layer Biscuits

250g softened butter

220g (1 cup) caster sugar

4 tsp vanilla

2 eggs

450g (3 cups) plain flour

2 1/2 tbls cocoa

Beat softened butter and sugar together until creamy looking. Add vanilla and eggs, beat until mixed well. Add the flour and mix until a dough forms. Divide the mixture in half, and add the cocoa to one of the halves. Mix it in well. Roll out mixtures seperately, between two sheets of baking paper to about 1cm thickness with a rolling pin. Pop the dough sheets in to the fridge until hardens completely.

Once hardened, take the sheets out, remove baking paper and line the two doughs on top of each other. With a sharp knife, cut through the two layers, about an inch in width. Place strips on top of remaining dough and cut again, making sure it’s the same size. Once you have the four layers, cut strips into approximately 1 cm sized thickness. Lay them on a lined baking tray, and keep going with the rest of the dough.

Bake at 180C for approximately 25 minutes.

(This recipe makes quite a few biscuits… but it does depend on how much of the dough you eat raw.)

Raspberry Chocolate Layer Cake- let’s just look at the pretty pictures




Ah this week, you’ve been a funny one

up, down and turned it all around

big ups

big downs

a Monkey Boy Birthday

a Monkey Boy hospital visit

some Monkey Boy hives

a mama virus straight from hell


happy baking

a gathering

lots of laughs and smiles

 the big storm ending Sunday evening



What’s been happening in your week?

Vanilla Cake

Raspberry Jam

150g raspberries

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 lime squeezed

Chocolate layer

150g melted chocolate (50%)

250g mascarpone

50g icing sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla

Vanilla Cream

300mls cream

50g icing sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla


extra raspberries

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.