Four sweet recipes from the Monday Morning Cooking Club's new cookbook

Monday Morning Cooking Club (from left): Merelyn Frank Chalmers, Lisa Goldberg, Natanya Eskin and Jacqui Israel.
Monday Morning Cooking Club (from left): Merelyn Frank Chalmers, Lisa Goldberg, Natanya Eskin and Jacqui Israel. Photo: HarperCollins

It's been nearly a decade since a group of friends from Sydney's Jewish community published their first cookbook.

The women - including Lisa Goldberg, Natanya Eskin, Jacqui Israel and Merelyn Frank Chalmers - first met when they came together each Monday to cook their favourite recipes and talk about food.

Two more cookbooks followed over the years, and now the Monday Morning Cooking Club has launched their fourth cookbook, Now For Something Sweet, this time dedicated to the most delicious sweet recipes from the Jewish community in Australia and around the world. 

Here are four recipes to enjoy and share.

Chocolate coconut milk cake.

Coffee adds extra kick. Photo: HarperCollins

Chocolate coconut milk cake

Serves: 10

INGREDIENTS

55g dark chocolate, chopped

85g unsweetened Dutch cocoa powder, sifted

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185ml hot brewed coffee

150g plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp bicarb soda (baking soda)

¼ tsp salt

230g castor sugar

50g dark muscovado or brown sugar

2 eggs

90g coconut oil, melted, or 5 tbsp oil

275ml (1 cup + 5 tsp) coconut milk

Coconut ganache icing

125g dark chocolate, chopped

125ml coconut milk

1 tsp light corn syrup (optional)

Also needed: coconut flakes, toasted

METHOD

Preheat the oven to 180C (160C fan-forced). Line the base and sides of a 24cm springform cake tin. Shake the tin of coconut milk well and divide it into the amounts for the cake and icing.

To make the cake, place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl with the cocoa powder. Pour over the hot coffee and allow to stand for a couple of minutes, then whisk by hand until the mixture is smooth. Set aside.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, bicarb and salt, then set aside.

Using an electric mixer, combine the castor and muscovado sugars and the eggs, and whisk until pale and thick. Add the coconut oil or oil and whisk until well combined.

Add the melted chocolate and then the coconut milk for the cake, continuing to mix on low speed and scraping down the sides as needed, until the mixture is smooth. Add the dry ingredients and whisk on low speed until just incorporated.

Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake in the bottom third of the oven for 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Place on a wire rack and allow to cool before removing from the tin.

When the cake has completely cooled, make the icing. Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. In a small saucepan, heat the coconut milk with the corn syrup (if using) until it just comes to the boil, and pour over the chocolate.

Leave for 2 minutes and then stir until it is smooth and shiny. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before pouring over the cake. Sprinkle with the toasted coconut.

Cinnamon streusel.

Eat fresh, or reheat later. Photo: HarperCollins

Cinnamon streusel babke

​Serves: 20

INGREDIENTS

Dough

565g plain flour, plus extra

150g castor sugar

1 tsp salt

60ml warm water

10g active dried yeast

1 tsp white sugar

2 eggs

1 egg yolk

155g unsalted butter

80ml pure (35 per cent) cream

60ml milk

Filling

100g unsalted butter, melted and lukewarm

80g sultanas

Cinnamon sugar

25g ground cinnamon

375g castor  sugar

Streusel topping 

90g plain flour

45g unsalted butter, at room temperature, chopped

55g castor sugar

Also needed: 50g unsalted butter, melted

METHOD

Combine the flour, castor sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and make a well in the centre. In a separate bowl, combine the warm water, yeast and white sugar and allow to stand for 10 minutes or until frothy, to ensure the yeast is active. In a separate bowl, mix together the eggs and the yolk.

In a small saucepan, warm the butter, cream and milk together until the butter is just melted; do not allow the mixture to boil. Set aside until it is lukewarm.

Pour the yeast mixture into the well then add the eggs and the milk mixture.

Using a wooden spoon, stir to combine then gradually incorporate the flour until you have a rough dough. Using the dough hook attachment, knead on low-medium speed for 10 minutes or until you have a smooth dough that starts to come away from the sides of the bowl. Cover the bowl with baking paper and plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place for 3 hours or until doubled in volume.

To make the cinnamon sugar, combine the cinnamon and sugar in a bowl and set aside.

To make the streusel topping, rub together the flour, butter and sugar with your fingertips to make a fairly fine crumble. Set aside.

Line a round 30cm cake tin or a deep square 25cm baking dish. When the dough has risen, punch it down by throwing the dough onto a lightly floured benchtop. Do not knead or add more flour, as this will toughen the dough. Divide into 2 equal pieces. Roll out 1 piece to a large rectangle, about 65 x 40cm. Brush with half the melted butter, sprinkle with half the cinnamon sugar and scatter over half the sultanas. Roll up lengthways to form a log. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Cut each log into 5cm sections. Place these in a circular fashion into the prepared tin, starting from the outside, cut side up, leaving about 1cm between each one. Once the pieces are all in place and evenly distributed in the tin, press down gently with your hand so they are all the same height. Brush with the extra melted butter and then sprinkle evenly with the streusel topping. Cover with a light tea towel and allow to rise for a further 2 hours or until almost doubled in volume.

Preheat the oven to 170C (150C fan-forced). Bake for 1 hour or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven. Serve warm or cover with a light tea towel until cool. If you wish, reheat it later, wrapped in foil.

Now for Something Sweet by the Monday Morning Cooking Club, HarperCollins, $49.99
Chocolate coconut milk cake
Cinnamon streusel babke
Butterscotch pudding with caramel sauce
Viennese Ishla biscuits 
Photos: HarperCollins 
Portraits - Lisa Goldberg (white hair), Natanya Eskin (longer brown hair), Jacqui Israel (glasses) and Merelyn Frank Chalmers (short hair)
For use with book extract only

Serve hot, with ice-cream or cream. Photo: HarperCollins

Butterscotch pudding with caramel sauce

Serves: 6-8

INGREDIENTS

Pudding

125g unsalted butter, at room temperature, chopped

125g dark brown sugar

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 tsp vanilla extract

150g self-raising flour

1 tsp baking powder

pinch of salt

125ml buttermilk

Caramel sauce

100g castor sugar

100g dark brown sugar

pinch of salt

125ml water

50g unsalted butter

250ml pure (35 per cent fat) cream

ice-cream or cream, to serve

METHOD

Preheat the oven to 180C (160C fan-forced). Grease a 1.5 litre pie dish or ovenproof dish. You will need a sugar thermometer.

Using an electric mixer, beat together the butter and brown sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Gradually add the eggs and vanilla and continue to beat until the ingredients are well combined. In a separate bowl, sift the flour with the baking powder and salt.

Add the dry ingredients to the batter in batches, alternating with the buttermilk, and mix well.

Spoon into the prepared dish and bake for 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Pour the sauce over the pudding as soon as it comes out of the oven.

Make the caramel sauce while the pudding is in the oven. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the castor sugar, brown sugar, salt and water.

Stir until dissolved. Use a pastry brush dipped in water to brush the sugar crystals from the side of the pan if needed. Bring to the boil, and continue cooking, without stirring, over medium heat for around 10 minutes until it reaches "hard ball" stage (122C on a sugar thermometer) or is frothy on the top with large bubbles around the edge.

Add the butter and stir to combine, then continue to simmer for about 5 minutes, swirling the pan from time to time, until it reaches "hard crack" stage (154C) or is very dark and frothy and smells of almost-burnt caramel. Carefully (it may spit), add the cream a little at a time, stirring, until well combined and smooth. Remove from the heat and pour over the hot pudding as soon as it is removed from the oven.

Serve the pudding hot, with ice-cream or cream.

Note: To make ahead of time, pour one-quarter of the sauce over the pudding when it comes out of the oven and allow to cool. Reheat for 20 minutes at 180C (160C fan-forced) and heat the remaining sauce using the microwave or in a small saucepan. Pour the hot sauce over the pudding just before serving.

Now for Something Sweet by the Monday Morning Cooking Club, HarperCollins, $49.99
Chocolate coconut milk cake
Cinnamon streusel babke
Butterscotch pudding with caramel sauce
Viennese Ishla biscuits 
Photos: HarperCollins 
Portraits - Lisa Goldberg (white hair), Natanya Eskin (longer brown hair), Jacqui Israel (glasses) and Merelyn Frank Chalmers (short hair)
For use with book extract only

Hazelnuts add extra crunch. Photo: HarperCollins

Viennese Ishla biscuits 

Makes: 40

INGREDIENTS

250g roasted hazelnuts, skins removed* 

180g unsalted butter, at room temperature, chopped

75g castor sugar

185g plain flour, plus extra

¼ tsp salt

175g apricot jam

Chocolate ganache

85g dark chocolate (70 per cent), roughly chopped

1 tbsp unsalted butter

Also needed: 20 roasted hazelnuts, halved

METHOD

Place the hazelnuts in a food processor and pulse until finely ground.

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until smooth and pale.

Combine the ground hazelnuts, flour and salt, and then fold this mixture into the butter mixture with a wooden spoon until a dough forms.

Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 170C (150C fan-forced). Line 2 baking trays.

On a lightly floured board, roll out the dough to a thickness of 5mm. 

Use a 4cm round cookie cutter to cut out circles. Re-roll any scraps and cut out more circles until all the dough is used. Place these onto the prepared tray. You should have around 80 biscuits.

Bake for 12 minutes or until lightly golden underneath. Once the biscuits are completely cool, take 2 biscuits and spread ¼-½ teaspoon of jam on the flat side of one, then place the flat side of another biscuit on top, sandwiching the jam between them.

To make the ganache, melt the chocolate in a microwave or double boiler, then add the butter and stir until smooth. Top the biscuit pairs with the ganache and the hazelnut halves, and allow to set.

Note: To roast the hazelnuts, place on a baking tray and cook for 10 minutes or until lightly golden. Allow to cool, then rub them in a tea towel to remove their loose skins.

This is an edited extract from Now for Something Sweet by the Monday Morning Cooking Club, HarperCollins, $49.99.