If you've

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followed us from the beginning, then you'll know in our introductory post we both spoke about our poor culinary skills. We're both great at tasting and eating food, but cooking it ourselves is less successful. We decided it was high time we rectified the situation. This week, we selected a recipe and endeavoured to follow it, resulting in what would hopefully be something delicious and most importantly, edible.

Both the easiness/clarity of the recipe and the finished product will be reviewed out of Masterchefs. Let the baking commence!

Ally: Something I’ve always wanted to master is traditional Aussie Anzac biscuits. I was searching for some great recipes online, but wasn't really enticed by the average results. After some more research, I found one with a bit more sugar and more of a cookie feel. If you'd like the recipe click here.

Now I am going to be upfront. I did receive small amounts of help from my boyfriend (Blake), but only at the times when I needed another set of hands, and when he felt it was appropriate to intervene so I didn’t completely ruin this week’s post.

So I had most of the ingredients at home (luckily), and just had to run to the shops to get some dark chocolate, some more brown sugar (which I didn't even need…I obviously have bad judgement) and some golden syrup. I might also add that it was extremely difficult to find golden syrup in Woolworths. It wasn't next to the honey or the maple syrup. Just as I was about to give up, Blake actually found it next to the treacle. Silly place to put it if you ask me.

Ally ingredients

So the recipe began pretty simple, just melting the golden syrup and butter until it gently simmered, which apparently is just before it boils. It got pretty close to boiling. Actually I think it boiled just a little.

Then I put the oats, coconut, flour and sugars (brown and caster) into a bowl. The last ingredient I added was the caster sugar, and while I put in what I thought was the third quarter of the measurements, Blake quietly asked me (hesitant to get involved) “Are you sure that's not too much sugar?” I replied quite snappily, “Of course it is. I read the recipe, it's three quarters of a cup of caster sugar.” I then looked at the measurement cup I was holding. It was a third, not a quarter. Whoops.

So I attempted to put some of the sugar back into its container, but a combination of all the ingredients went in because I was mixing as I was going, as opposed to at the end. Second whoops. At this point I just accepted the biscuits were going to be sweet. Very sweet.

With everything dry mixed, and the butter and syrup simmering, I added the boiling water and bicarb together with the butter/syrup while it frothed. Then I went to put this liquid into the mix of dry ingredients and Blake piped in again. “Should you sift that mix before you add it together?” He asked.

This time there was no snapping. I knew he was right. Third whoops. So I sifted.

Ally sifting

Then everything was mixed together and Blake piped in once more, “It looks pretty dry, doesn't it?”.

This time the snapping came back, and I said “I followed the recipe exactly Blake, minus the caster sugar amounts…”

His suggestion was to add more of the butter/syrup mix. So I did this twice, but the mixture still crumbled in my fingers and didn't stick. I started to stress. At this point it seemed pretty difficult to get the mix into small balls for baking. Fourth whoops.

So Blake, my helper, Googled this predicament.

To our rescue, Google said to wet your hands while putting the mixture into little balls. This worked pretty well.

Over three trays and after 20 minutes in the oven (the recipe said 20-25 minutes), the Anzac biscuits were taken out. They were still so soft and delicate and had the perfect amount of browning. I prayed they would cool down and harden on the outside but stay moist and soft on the inside.

That they did.

After they cooled, it was time to drizzle dark chocolate over the top with a fork. Now I really struggle melting chocolate, so this is where Blake 'intervened'.

Once the chocolate was safely a liquid (sans burnt crunchy bits), I drizzled it over the little sweetnesses with a fork.

Then they were finished. Quite well I may add too.

Final product Ally

The verdict: 

Skill: 2/5 Masterchefs – even though the recipe was quite easy to follow, I still struggle with even melting chocolate. So I don't deserve much credit in this area.

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Aesthetics: 4/5 Masterchefs – I think they looked pretty delicious, especially with the melted chocolate. Some of the sizes are a bit inconsistent though.

Taste: 4/5 Masterchefs – I was so surprised and proud of myself with their yummy taste! Both my parents, sister and her boyfriend, and my boyfriend all loved them.

Brittany: A survey found that one in 20 British women couldn't do the simple task of boiling an egg. I have been in that situation. I am ashamed. I actually had to ask my 13 year old sister (a masterchef extraordinaire) how to do it. She laughed in my face. So needless to say I've been quite keen on improving my cooking skills to avoid further embarrassment.  Instead of picking a fancy recipe and buying all new ingredients, I decided to try and cook something using ingredients already in my cupboard. It seemed like a good idea at the beginning, until I actually found a recipe I wanted to make.

With cupcakes being the latest 'it' thing to make, I thought they'd be a good starting point. I needed something simple that looked impressive, so when I found a recipe for orange and chocolate swirl cupcakes, I knew it was the one.

I didn't quite have all the ingredients, so I experimented. No butter? Surely lurpak spread is the same thing! No caster sugar? How different can muscavado sugar taste? When all the ingredients were artfully laid out on the table, I was ready to start.

Brit ingredients

The recipe said prep time was 12 minutes and cooking time 20 minutes. Twelve minutes into the process, I'd managed to create a wonderful cooking music playlist and line the tray with paper cases. It was going well. With my Australian flag apron and chef hat (for a bit of added professional confidence) I was feeling good.

Brit chef stuff

I softened the 'butter', 'sugar' and eggs until they were what the recipe described as 'light and fluffy'. There was nothing that resembled fluffy clouds in my bowl – only brown sludge.

After adding the milk and flour, the mixture looked good, like some kind of caramelly biscuit dough. If that's what I was making, I'd be pretty happy. But I wasn't.

I then had to whisk the mixture for two minutes with the electric mixer. I plugged it in, switched it on and…nothing happened. The mixture was too thick for the whisk to even work. Feeling a little desperate, I added more and more milk until the whisk finally (and slowly) started moving.

I managed to complete the final few steps with minimal trouble – separating the mixture into two bowls of the chocolate and orange mixes, before swirling both in the cupcake cases.

Brit baking

With the cupcakes finally in the oven (an hour after I started) I was feeling pretty confident. Too confident. I decided to try my hand at making a choc orange icing. Throwing in the icing sugar and water willy nilly resulted in a thin gross gloop that neither looked nor tasted good. So much for my improved cooking skills!

After 20 minutes, the cupcakes were ready and actually looked pretty good! They carried a fragrant smell of orange and I couldn't resist trying one warm out of the oven. The sugar hadn't made any difference to the taste, but using the proper butter would probably have made it moister. Three cupcakes later (I had to taste test a few of course) and I was feeling pretty chuffed with myself. Despite a few (major) hiccups the cupcakes looked good and are most importantly edible. In fact, more than edible! Seems I've struck upon an almost foolproof recipe. Nigella, eat your heart out.

Brit final

The verdict:

Skill: 2/5 Masterchefs – my skills are lacking, but the recipe was straightforward and easy to follow.

Aesthetics: 3.5/5 Masterchefs – the cupcakes look enticing! Some icing/decoration may have made them look more impressive though.

Taste: 3.5/5 Masterchefs – I'm surprised that they actually taste alright. The orange/chocolate contrast is nice, although I'd probably add more orange zest next time to amp up the flavour.

Brittany Stewart & Ally McManus



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