29 February 2012

{round up} sweet new zealand february

When I took over hosting Sweet New Zealand from the lovely Arfi of HomeMades at the start February, I must admit I was a tad nervous.  What if I only get a small handful of contributions?  What if I don't do justice to the contributors' entries?  What if, what if, what if...

All my apprehensions were put to rest when Sweet New Zealand February started with a bang - I had 2 entries on the first day - that's  a 'bang' to me!  And then I received a reassuring email from Alessandra who created Sweet New Zealand.  It was not long before the entries starting coming in and I had fun introducing each blogger and their entry.

Here's a round up for February's Sweet New Zealand:

First to kick it all off for February was my favourite food blogger, Emma of My Darling Lemon Thyme.

Emma is a Kiwi currently living in Perth with her husband and two littlelees.  Her recipes are always healthy (and gluten-free), easy to follow and most definitely drool-worthy.  You don't have to be gluten-intolerant to enjoy her recipes - I'm not!  And I can say this with authority as I've personally made many succesful meals and sweets from her blog!

Emma's scrummy gluten-free banana cake is an all-time Kiwi favourite - it's iced with passionfruit icing and looks picture perfect.  I'm certain it'll be excellent eating as well!

white chocolate chunk cookies

This is exactly why Sweet New Zealand has been a success - if it wasn't for this monthly event, I would not have known about this lovely blog, YoungBaker.  Nor is this blog vibrant, addictive and filled with posts that just makes you smile, the face behind this blog is 15 year-old Kimberley, who can seriously bake.  When I think about my own culinary 'prowess' at 15, all I can come up with is dressing up instant noodles and making sandwiches.  Yeeeesh...

Kimberley who is from Auckland has baked us some white chocolate chunk cookies - dunked into a cuppa or enjoyed with a tall glass of cold milk.  You decide.  Either way, I don't think they'll last long enough to share!

nutella cake {gluten-free}

If you haven't been following this blog - Grace Cakes - might I suggest you do if you're a cake and cupcake fiend? Which I'm going to assume you are since you're here. :) Lydia who is the talent behind Grace Cakes has been blogging since 2010, and I suspect honing her baking and decorating skills since forever (the photos on her blog attest to this).

This gluten-free Nutella Cake from Lydia may be the best way to spoil someone dear to you. Or you could just keep it all for yourself!

good old fashion ginger cake

Next up is Allison of Pease Pudding, a regular contributor to Sweet New Zealand.  In addition to this blog, the amazing and multi-talented Allison also runs culinary workshops (The Gourmet Gannet) and writes reviews for local papers.  Oh...did I tell you that Allison also started and ran our little country's first food bloggers conference last year? :-)

For this month, Allison is offering up a classic sweet treat for when you have 'the girls' around for a cuppa and a chinwag on a Saturday/Sunday afternoon - good old fashion Jamaican ginger cake.

I strongly recommend dressing up in a summery frock for this get together.  Its the perfect pairing - ginger cake and a cheery summer dress!

gluten-free chocolate and almond fingers

And now, we have Alessandra.  Alessandra hails from northern Italy but has called NZ home for the last 15 years.  Having published two cookbooks in English and two in Polish, Alessandra is also a food and travel writer.  Her blog, Alessandra Zecchini is filled not just with recipes, but also stories of family travels, her garden, culinary adventures, her children, etc.

She also happens to be the creator of Sweet New Zealand!

Now if you're after a recipe for some homemade gifts or the week's home baking, I think Alessandra's gluten-free chocolate and almond fingers are just right.  Crumbly, nutty and topped with chocolate...what's not to like?

brandy snaps cannoli

Alessandra has been busy at sweetening the week up, again.  This time she's made brandy snaps cannoli - another Kiwi favourite, with an Italian slant.

I reckon this is just perfect for Valentines Day...or any other day really!  It's quick and easy to make, and sure to impress.

I noticed this when I was at NZ's first food bloggers conference last year - a good percentage of our blogging community is made up of a melting pot of different cultures, including immigrants who now call NZ home - Italian, Americans, South Africans, English, Malaysian, Singaporean, French, Japanese, etc.  And it is due to this patchwork of cultures that make NZ's food blogs such interesting reads.

hazelnut mocha cake

Christina hails from America and her blog gninwordon, is not just about the food she makes and eats.  Her posts are often peppered with snippets on growing up in America, her family there, the culinary differences between the two countries and also her life now in Aotearoa.

Christina recently made this utterly decadent hazelnut mocha cake.  Apart from impressing her friends with this cake, she may be trying to out-do her mother's famous fruit salads which she was known for at Sunday bbqs.

I think Christina might just have a slight edge with this cake, don't you?!

swedish midsummer cake

Another blogger who now calls NZ home, is Suzanne of The Upside Down Life.  Suzanne's another newbie to our food bloggers community - always so exciting to have one more person to obsess over food with.  Welcome!

This Swedish midsummer cake is Suzanne's first entry to Sweet New Zealand.  How utterly gorgeous does this cake look?  And I bet it tastes heavenly like only a marriage of strawberries and cream can.

nectarine & plum sponge cake

Lovely Sue from sunny Nelson writes her blog Couscous & Consciousness from her kitchen, in which she also runs cooking classes.  Sue also teaches yoga as well (not in the kitchen!).

Staying true to local produce, Sue churns out all kinds of yumminess from what's available seasonally - like this delightful nectarine & plum sponge cake for this month's Sweet New Zealand.

chocolate & coffee bean ice cream

If you love your sweets and desserts, but moan that there just isn't enough decent recipes out there that is slim on the hips, yet big on taste - you need to check out Time for a Little Something.

This blog is written by Jemma, who is probably one of our most prolific food bloggers.  Jemma started blogging around 8 months ago and has already clocked up over 120 posts!

Now if you're a huge ice cream lover like me, you might just want to give this chocolate & coffee bean ice cream a go.  Its so easy to make and so delish, you could make more than one batch to enjoy the late summer days (or nights) with.

Food-wise, I don't think any fruit epitomises summer like stone fruits do.  Personally I'm not a huge fan since the varieties sold at supermarkets are often hard and tasteless, and I'm not lucky enough to be able to grow any of my own.  However, that's not to say that I don't drool over photos and recipes posted by fellow bloggers on the many sweet delights that stone fruits lend themselves to.

greengage clafoutis

Vanille from @ Down Under definitely had me looking at her greengage clafoutis with longing.  It's rustic and feminine (you know what I mean right?) - just the kind of sweet dish to enjoy on a sunny Saturday afternoon with your favourite people, sat on white wicker chairs on a patio with your pets (if you had any) dozing under your feet.

So if you're into unpretentious food and beautiful daydream-inducing food photography, then you must head to Vanille's bi-lingual blog.  It's filled with recipes for simple gorgeous food and glimpses on her life now in NZ (Vanille's French).

fijian black forest gateau

Bake Club is the brainchild of Frances. , who with her baking-mad family and friends all contribute to the delectable number of sweet pleasures on this blog.

For February's Sweet NZ, Frances has baked us this very special fijian black forest gateau.

Black forest gateau is the cake of my childhood.  I seem to remember having this cake for many of my birthdays!  So if you're looking to bake one yourself for a special occasion, you might just like Frances' post on this oldie but goodie.

french farmhouse cherry pie

Just the name of the pie itself conjures up images of white distressed painted cabinetry, a metal pitcher of field flowers on the bench, large wooden dining table with mismatched chairs, with a fat cat by the back door.  And sitting with pride of place in the middle of that table, is a cherry pie.

This special cherry pie is a particular favourite of Emma of Muffin Mum.  One could say that the recipe has been 'in the family' (of sorts).  I think it's a perfect pie to see the end of summer and coming autumn.

walnut, honey and orange blossom cake

I'd been following Mairi's blog, Toast, for a while before meeting her for the first time at last year's food blogger's conference.  And she's every bit as warm, inviting and real as her blog.

As food bloggers, being food mad is par for the course.  But I reckon that Mairi's particularly obsessed (don't think she'll mind me saying!) - if all the gorgeous food photos she tweets daily is anything to go by.

choc chip & espresso cookie bars

Lastly, here's my own contribution - a cookie that's between a cookie and a slice.  I made these as part of a care package that my bestfriend sent to her son who is in his 1st year at Otago University.

I did put some aside for our own consumption of course.  Eaten with a glass of cold milk or hot strong coffee...I'm thinking it's a recipe that I'll be making again, soon.

I had a blast hosting Sweet New Zealand this month.  Thanks to everyone who contributed - you're all an amazing and talented bunch!  And now, I have the pleasure of passing the hosting of March's event to the gorgeous Emma at My Darling Lemon Thyme.  See you all there!



  1. What a great round up, and a leap year one too, once every four years only Shirleen, so this Feb was special! I'll now go and have a look at everything :-).
    Thank you again for hosting, and see you at Emma's!


    1. I enjoyed hosting Sweet NZ. So glad you started this event Alessandra!

  2. Great round up Shirleen! I'd better get onto my Sweet NZ post, ekkkkk! xx

    1. Better get my bake on then huh?! What to do...dum dee doo... ;-)

  3. Lovely round up Shirleen, thanks for hosting, and thanks for being so lovely and welcoming to the new girl!

    1. My pleasure Suzanne. Hope to be seeing you 'around' more! :)

  4. That was a really great Sweet NZ roundup - nice comments and interesting little extras on the bloggers, which I liked! I have to be more organized for the next round. My head's somewhere else at present!

    1. Thanks Lesley! Everyone's got such interesting backgrounds - gave me lots to write about. Yeah me to. I gotta get my game on for March's Sweet NZ over at Emma's. :P

  5. Nice post. You might like this post on my current fave kitchen gadget. http://caroleschatter.blogspot.co.nz/2012/02/useful-kitchen-gadget-jar-key.html

  6. I like passion fruit. That icing should be good.

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