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  • Welcome!

    Hello there. I'm Irene, the baker behind { a swoonful of sugar } - a food blog created in 2012 by a 17y.o. (now 20!) sydney-sider who wants to share with the world her passion for turning ingredients into beautiful, delicious food. Thanks for dropping by!

    x Irene

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Chewy Almond & Pistachio Cookies (GF)

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Hey allll! Today’s a happy day for me because these cookies happened. The past week has been hectic- it’s been a while since I went home while the sun was still out like I did today… so I decided- you know what, I just gotta calm myself down, + let’s get some baking on because it feels like I haven’t done any baking in absolutely agessss. I wasn’t up for anything too messy, so these one-bowl cookies were perfect. Dead easy, they are basically just sugar + beaten egg whites + ground nuts folded together… And the pistachios I got on my way home from a health food store were so beautiful- already shelled + super green, it made my life so easy when I could just whir them into finely ground vibrant green dust! I only recently got my food chopper fixed too so I was so happy to see the new blades worked wonderfully!

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I sort of knew what I wanted in these cookies, but just to play it safe, I followed the recipe from Erin @ Yummy Supper. She is one of my new inspirations and it’s so exciting that she’s releasing a cookbook soon- you all should check it out! Warning: LOTS of photos ahead which you think may look the same, but I just couldn’t eliminate anymore than I already had during the editing process… the cookies were too photogenic with their snowy effect from the icing sugar! And really, they taste as good as they look! Essentially they’re super chewy macarons with crisp edges! And not temperamental at all!

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Chewy Almond & Pistachio Cookies 

  • 1 1/4 cup ground pistachios
  • 3/4 cup ground almonds
  • 3/4 cup caster sugar
  • grated zest of one orange
  • 2 egg whites, room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla paste
  • 1 heaping tablespoon honey
  • powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 325F/160C. Beat egg whites and sugar together until soft peaks form

2. Fold in the ground pistachios and almonds, orange zest and finally the vanilla + honey. Combine until a thick, homogenous paste forms.

3. On a sugar dusted surface, drop teaspoonfuls of the mixture and sift more powdered sugar on top to coat the tops of the sticky dough. Roll to coat them evenly into a ball and transfer to a lined and sugared baking sheet.

4. Bake for 15-18 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack. Makes about 30 small cookies.

Variations: use different ratios of different nuts! I can definitely see myself doing some orange/hazelnut, or almond with a dash of rosewater, maybe add in some coconut in there too next time (read: soon)

Recipe adapted from Erin 

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Well, I’ve gotta go back to learning stuff about ventilation and proteins, ugh. Thanks for reading guys, hope you all have a magical week ahead of you:Dxx

August 12, 2014 - 4:35 am

Maryna - Irene, cookies are really photogenic! So-so-so nice!I bet they taste heavenly )). And I adore this green pistachio color!

August 13, 2014 - 5:02 pm

stephani @ Gondo's Kitchen - those cookies do look photogenic! and healthy too, no butter at all. can’t wait to try it, sounds yummy.

August 13, 2014 - 11:23 pm

Pang @circahappy - You are right!! The ground pistachios looks beautiful and so do your cookies. I bet I can eat tons of them with my coffee in the morning, which I am doing it right now (except without your good looking cookies). (sad face)

Love the photos, Irene :)

August 14, 2014 - 10:09 am

Joyti - Irene, these cookies are gorgeous (and they sound pretty darn tasty!) Pinned :-)

Also, I wanted to say a huge THANK YOU for your lovely comment on my blog. One of the best comments I’ve ever gotten, because that is exactly what my intent is (to give a bit of – comfort or something – to anyone who might be going through a bit of a rough spell). Also, if you ever want to talk, feel free to email me [green.tea.sparkles@gmail.com].

August 14, 2014 - 3:02 pm

milkteaxx - so pretty! please save me some of these cookies!

August 16, 2014 - 5:11 am

Nicole ~ Cooking for Keeps - Just stunning. These are SO added to my cookies to make list!

August 17, 2014 - 10:37 am

Helen | Grab Your Fork - These sound delish! I can just imagine their chewy stretchiness with each bite!

Brownie Ice Cream Sandwiches with Berry Compote

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The last few days of July down here were the hottest consecutive days in a long while. Nothing but clear blue skies, 27C heat for days in the middle of winter. That’s how I thought these ice cream sandwiches should be enjoyed. But obviously the next day of making these, the new month of August brought upon a new change of weather- one that completely destroyed my image of frolicking on sun-warmed green grass soothing my throat with cold treats in the form of these ice cream sandwiches. Instead, these were enjoyed indoors as there’s crazy wind outside, in pjs and me barely able to suppress bringing them upstairs to enjoy while under the warm blanket of my bed… But you know, any day’s good for ice cream. Aaaand it is winter… I’m expecting too much from nature. The only good thing though, these probably wouldn’t have lasted half the time they did during the photo session if it was summer. So I’m grateful these didn’t capture as brownie + biscuits + ‘custard’ + berries but actually resemble ice cream sandwiches…

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I’ve also got an exciting news to share with ya’ll- I got a new job at Williams Sonoma! Having them expand to Australia was enough to make me giddy, but working there would be a dreaaam! I’ve worked in a similar cookware/homewares store before during last christmas period and loved it and I think being in that kind of aesthetically pleasing, food related props-concentrated workplace is just the best. In combination with working at an awesome artisanal gelato store that continue to impress me with their experimentation of new flavours, I am truly grateful  and looking forward to how much inspiration I can absorb from the new job and apply it to the blog here in terms of new recipes and improving my eye for food styling via props.  Of course… studying at uni is important for me too so I made a real solid deal with myself that I really must be time efficient in my studies, and while in class- acccctually listen and take notes so that I need not spend hours cramming all the content later on. I can do it, right? Right. LET’S DO THIS SEMESTER 2. 1 out of 13 weeks down. Phew.

Ribbet collage

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These ice cream sandwiches are dead easy as they consist of a one-bowl brownie recipe instead of the more traditional chocolate ‘biscuit’ type where you have to roll out the dough and cut it into pieces before baking, spreading ice cream onto a shallow container and cutting them to fit the biscuits before sandwiching them. These definitely have room to be as fancy as you want, whether you make the ice cream flavour more indulgent, make different fruit compotes or you could dip them in melted chocolate or add nuts, crushed biscuits or sprinkled to the ice cream sides. They would be great for parties too as you can make them way ahead of time!

 

Brownie Ice Cream Sandwiches with Berry Compote

For the brownie layer:

  • 1/2 stick (57 g) of unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 40g dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup of granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup of brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tbsp of ground espresso beans
  • 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup (40 g) of all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp of cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp of fine sea salt

1. Line a 8×8-inch (20cm) square baking pan with parchment paper, extending it up two sides. Butter the parchment and exposed sides of the pan or spray them with a nonstick cooking spray. Preheat oven to 175C/350F. Combine semi-sweet chocolate and unsalted butter in a large microwave-proof bowl.  Heat in 30 second bursts until the ingredients have melted.

2. Add the granulated sugar, brown sugar, large eggs, ground espresso beans and vanilla extract.  Whisk until it’s smooth and slightly fluffy.

3. Sift all-purpose flour, cocoa powder and fine sea salt into the bowl.  Fold in the ingredients together with a spatula or whisk until smooth. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 12-15 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted at the centre.

4. Transfer hot pan straight to the freezer and chill until cold and firm, about 20 minutes.

For the berry compote:

  • 1 1/2 cup of berries (I used mostly blueberries and a few blackberries)
  • 2 tbs sugar (depends on how tart your berries are)
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • 1 tsp cornflour

1. Combine the berries and sugar together and heat over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Mash the berries using a potato masher to release the juices. Stir frequently and simmer for 2 minutes.

2. Combine the lemon juice and cornstarch together to form a smooth paste. Add into the berries and bring the whole mixture to a boil and boil for 1 minute, it should thicken. Transfer to a bowl and chill for at least an hour or until needed.

To assemble:

  • about 16 saltine crackers to layer the tops (have extra just in case some break apart!)
  • 1 tbs butter, melted
  • 1.5L ice cream of your choice, softened
  • berry compote
  • brownie base

1. Preheat oven to 170C/350C and brush the crackers with melted butter and bake for about 5-10minutes until golden brown. Let cool.

2. Scoop ice cream on top of the chilled brownie base and using a spatula, spread into an even layer. Spoon the berry compote on top of the ice cream layer and spread evenly. Arrange the crackers to fill as the last layer of the ice cream ‘sandwich’, pressing down slightly. Freeze for at least 4 hours or overnight before cutting into squares and serving. Will keep for up to one week, frozen.

Recipe adapted from various sources: Deb, Mandy, Donna Hay and Kylie

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IMG_9498That’s a wrap for this post, hmmm still not sure what I’m going to cook this week but I have been wanting to make black bean burgers or chorizo rolls for a long while… I’ll keep you posted;)Take care and have a lovely week guys!

August 3, 2014 - 12:19 pm

cynthia - Ooh, I love love love these! I just saw Mandy’s take earlier today and was so smitten — yours look gorgeous, and I’m in love with that berry compote layer! So vibrant and fresh. Boo for the return of cold weather, but I do agree shooting cold treats when it’s cold is a little more relaxing! :) These are beautiful.

August 3, 2014 - 6:04 pm

Arpita@ The Gastronomic Bong - This is a brilliant idea.. brownie sandwich looks so uber delicious.. I am so craving this right now.. I love the photographs too.. :)

August 4, 2014 - 2:35 am

Pang - Brownie = Yummy
Ice Cream & Berry Compote = Yummier
put everything together + Yummiest!!!!

Love this creation, Irene. And congrats on my new job.
Yes, you can get good grades, work at William Sonoma, and blog. You are wonderful and yes you can do them all :)

August 4, 2014 - 4:35 am

Lily@LittleSweetBaker - Wow, what a wonderful recipe, brownies, ice cream, berries and crunchy crackers, all in one delicious treat, yum! And congrats on the new job:)

August 4, 2014 - 12:55 pm

Ellen @ Indigo Scones - Ireneeee! This post is beauteous! I love the saltines and using a brownie base, just all the loves. And super big congrats on Williams-Sonoma, you’re gonna rock that so hard.

August 5, 2014 - 3:39 pm

milkteaxx - your photos are amazing already, i would love to have one of these!congratulations on the job!

August 6, 2014 - 1:53 am

The Vegan 8 - These look sooooo gorgeous!! What a beautiful take and idea on a brownie and I love how you style your photos!

August 6, 2014 - 3:00 am

Melissa @ Treats With a Twist - these are A. gorgeous, and B. brilliant
I love love love the idea of these and you’ll have me running out for ingredients to make them ;)

August 7, 2014 - 3:04 am

erin {yummysupper} - Irene! I cannot believe what a beautiful blog you’ve created here as a teenager. Amazing!
xo
Erin

August 9, 2014 - 10:12 pm

Riley Mackey - Brownie Ice Cream Sandwiches with Berry Compote is delish.. I tasted it long before. Now that you’ve shared your recipe I can easily bake it at home. After my travel i will cook it.

August 10, 2014 - 1:00 pm

Irene @ { a swoonful of sugar } - Ladies, thank you very much for all your kind comments! <3 <3

August 10, 2014 - 1:46 pm

Helen | Grab Your Fork - I love how you added saltine crackers to these! Always a fan a sweet and salty combinations!

{Dining Out} Korn, Crows Nest

I turned 20 on saturday! Hooray! The best part of birthdays? The food. It’s ridiculous how many meals I’ve eaten out to ‘celebrate’ a single birthday. Not that I’m complaning though… And of course, Thai food was involved. Korn provided the usual fare of thai dishes but unlike many local thai joints, I find that they pay more attention to the presentation of each dish. Their range of salads are really commendable, only realising just now looking at their menu online, they offer 8 choices!  I really regret not ordering any of their salads now! The eggplant and beef salad or the banana blossom prawn salad sounds convincing. Perhaps next time. What we did order were:

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The deep fried taro for entree. Taro has got to be up there amongst my favourite foods. They weren’t as crisp as I was expecting it to be, but just having the natural flavours of the cooked taro that I looove inside was enough for me.

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For the mains, we opted for the pad prik king- crisp pork belly with green beans and the chu chee fish curry. My dad loved both dishes, and he can be pretty picky sometimes so that’s a good sign! The pork belly was the perfect balance of sweet and heat. The fish in the curry was also fried nicely, giving it a light crunch. And the thick curry sauce was simply the best eaten with a bed of fluffy rice. Big yum.

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The spicy fried rice was like a pad kee mao in rice form, which was pretty awesome! The chilli and basil flavours were very well balanced, making them very moreish, especially with the curry sauce again. Mmmmm. There’s also something about pad see ews that make me order it in every thai place I eat at. Korn’s version wasn’t too sweet and had the distinct charred wok hei flavour that any good pad see ew has. The noodles for some reason were a little stiff, not quite as soft and slippery as they usually are though, but hoping that’s just a one off thing.

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All in all a really great local addition to Crows Nest, they do their classics well and have some interesting dishes I’ve still got to go back to try out! The decor was really well done- reminding me a little of Chatswood’s New Shanghai, wooden furnitures and posters reminiscent of and old thai town. With friendly service, it’s an all round good place to go for a casual fix of thai food.
Korn - Home Thai Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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On another note, uni’s finally started! But I do have plans on making some ice cream sandwiches soon. So stay tuned. I have a feeling it’s going to be good.:Dxx

July 31, 2014 - 12:49 am

Pang - You & your family are so adorable, and I can’t wait for your ice cream sandwiches :)

July 31, 2014 - 1:03 am

Ellen @ Indigo Scones - Awwww I love the family pics :) Happy 20 Irene!

July 31, 2014 - 3:36 am

Maryna - My congrats!!! You are no longer a teenager))!
Wish you luck, love and all your dreams to come true)

I ‘ve never tried Thai food, but it looks wonderful) Hope one day) Thai dishes are rather spicy, right?

August 3, 2014 - 3:07 am

Helen | Grab Your Fork - Happy birthday! And is that a taro cake? One of my faves!

August 3, 2014 - 12:20 pm

cynthia - Eee, happy late birthday! Such precious family photos, and your birthday dinner looked fabulous. Hope it was a perfect day :)

August 3, 2014 - 12:35 pm

Irene @ { a swoonful of sugar } - Thank you so much for your wishes guys!

@Helen: You sure have an observant eye! YES it is! Love them tooo :)
@Maryna: You must try them! Not all the dishes are spicy: lots of sweet, salty and sour combos though