Winter Sticky Date Pudding with Caramel Sauce

Posted on June 21, 2017 by The Gift Loft

Sticky Date Pudding with Caramel Sauce | Recipe Gift Idea | The Gift Loft (NZ)

This is a recipe that a dear Melbourne friend shared with her dinner party group, many years ago. We all thought it was such a wonderful dessert that we just had to have the recipe. It now features in many of our own winter dinner parties and it is always a favourite with guests. You can make it the day before - we like making the puddings in muffin tins so you each have an individual pudding (but you can make it as one whole pudding, if you prefer). At dessert time, just gently warm the puddings in the oven and heat the pre- prepared sticky caramel sauce on the stove. This is perfect with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Yum!

Sticky Date Pudding with Caramel Sauce | Recipe | Dessert | The Gift Loft (NZ) Sticky Date Pudding with Caramel Sauce | Recipe | Gourmet Dessert | The Gift Loft (NZ)


  • 180g dried date, pitted and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 50 g butter
  • 150 g brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 180 g self raising flour


  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius.
  2. Combine the dates and baking soda in a heat proof bowl. Pour over 250 mls boiling water. Set aside for 20 - 30 minutes. 
  3. Grease an 18 cm cake tin (or individual muffin tins - it makes about 6-8 muffins).
  4. Cream the butter and sugar until pale (we use a food processor for all of step 4).  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until smooth. Gently fold in the flour, then the date mixture.
  5. Pour mixture into the greased pan or muffin tray. Bake until cooked through - approximately 35 - 40 minutes for a whole pudding (or 18 - 22 minutes, for muffins).
  6. Cool on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container until ready to serve. 
  7. To serve, warm the pudding slightly in the oven. Place a pudding on each plate. Pour a generous serving of warmed caramel sauce over each pudding and add a dollop of ice cream on the side.

Caramel Sauce


  • 150 g brown sugar
  • 250 ml cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 20 g butter


  1. Combine all ingredients in a sauce pan over a low heat. Stir until the butter is melted. Simmer gently for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Sticky Caramel Sauce | Gourmet Food Hampers | The Gift Loft (NZ) Sticky Caramel Sauce | Gourmet Food Hampers | The Gift Loft (NZ)

Sticky Caramel Sauce | Gourmet Food Hampers & Le Creuset Ramekins | The Gift Loft (NZ) Gourmet Dessert Food Gift Hampers & Le Creuset Ramekins | The Gift Loft (NZ)

If you do not have time to create a delicious dessert, see our scrumptious range of Sweet Gourmet Dessert Hampers that include a Sticky Caramel Sauce - ideal over ice cream or our Classic Fudge Brownies. The perfect gift idea for men and women or for Dad on Father's Day. 

Posted in blog, caramel sauce, delicious, pudding, recipe, sticky date

Mother's Day Coconut Vanilla Cake with Blueberries & Thick Yoghurt Topping

Posted on May 01, 2017 by The Gift Loft

Mother's Day Coconut Vanilla Berry Cake with Thick Yoghurt Topping | Baking Gift Idea | The Gift Loft Blog

Make the most of Mother's Day by enjoying some special time with mum, a grandma or close motherly friend. Nothing beats baking a delicious cake and sharing afternoon tea together. This moist cake is quick and easy, and you can bake it a few days before and then just finish it off on the day. Happy Mother's Day to all the lovely mothers out there who do so much for their families and loved ones. If you do not have time to bake a cake or you live too far away from your mother, see our delicious gourmet food hampers, including sweet dessert hampers, and personal gifts for her - we can gift wrap your stylish and unique gift and send it, with your personal message, to anywhere in NZ, in time for Mother's Day.

Coconut Vanilla Berry Cake with Thick Yoghurt Topping | Recipe Blog | The Gift Loft (NZ) Mother's Day Cake Baking | Recipe Blog | Gift Idea for Her | The Gift Loft (NZ)

Mother's Day Coconut Vanilla Cake with Blueberries & Thick Yoghurt Topping


125 g butter

1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence

1 cup castor sugar

2 eggs

1/2 cup desiccated coconut

1 1/2 cup self raising flour

250g tub sour cream

50g yoghurt

1/3 cup milk

1 cup of frozen or fresh blueberries (or other berry) - optional

For the topping: 1 cup thick greek plain yoghurt & a drizzle of fruit syrup (optional - we used a few drops of Blue Frog Zesty Raspberry Syrup, found in Farro and other gourmet food stores). Alternatively, you could just add some lemon zest and a drizzle of honey to the yoghurt.

icing sugar and toasted shredded coconut (optional, for the topping).


  1. Set the oven to 180 degrees celcius.
  2. Grease and line, with baking paper, a 23 cm round cake tin.
  3. Cream butter, essence and sugar in a bowl or food processor, until light and fluffy.
  4. Add each egg, one at a time and beat until combined.
  5. Add half of the flour, sifted, with half of the coconut and half each of the following: sour cream, yoghurt and milk.  Mix together. Then, add the remaining half of each ingredients and mix once again, until fully combined.
  6. Pour half the mixture into the prepared cake tin and, if using, add the blueberries, scattered over the mixture. Pour over the remaining cake mixture. Be careful to avoid the berries making the cake mixture blue. Place it in the oven and bake for 45 - 60 minutes, depending on your oven.  Test the cake with a skewer after about 45 minutes. If the skewer comes out clean, then it is ready. If not then continue to bake the cake. If the top of the cake is browning too much, quickly place a piece of tin foil over the cake so it continues to cook, without burning - try not to loose too much heat from the oven.
  7. Remove the cake from the oven, when it is ready and cool for 5 - 10 minutes, before removing it from the tin. Cool it on a wire rack.
  8. The cake lasts 1- 2 days in an airtight container in the fridge (due to the berries). On the day that you are going to eat the cake, bring to room temperature and then add the yoghurt topping, just before serving. Sprinkle shredded toasted coconut on top. 

Icing - mix 1 - 1 1/2 cups of thick greek plain yoghurt with optional fruit syrup or the zest of a lemon and a drizzle of honey. Ensure that it does not become too moist - it needs to be quite thick so that it stays on the cake. Smooth over the top of the cake. To toast the coconut - place a layer of shredded coconut under the grill, and gently toast it; or dry fry the coconut in a non stick frying pan, tossing the coconut frequently - check constantly as it burns easily. Cool the coconut, before using.

A cake from my mother's collection of recipes, adapted to create a more modern, fresh version.

    Posted in afternoon tea, baking, blog, cake, coconut, gift idea, grandmother, moist, mother, mother's day, recipe, unique, yoghurt

    Best Chocolate Blueberry Brownie

    Posted on February 22, 2017 by The Gift Loft

    Best Blueberry Chocolate Brownie | Delicious Recipe | The Gift Loft (NZ)

    The wonderful thing about cooking and baking is that just when you think you have a favourite recipe, you try another version and realise that the new recipe is now your favourite! It is a continually developing and improving experience.  Trying this recipe was one of those moments - when you create something that is truly delicious and it leaves all your old brownie recipes somewhat lacking. The dark chocolate and the blueberries really make this brownie shine.  Try it - you won't be disappointed.  Easy to make, easy to cut and sure to be a crowd pleaser - ours was demolished at afternoon tea! 

    Chocolate Brownie | Pre Cooking Stage | Recipe Blog | The Gift Loft (NZ) Chocolate Brownie | Just Baked | Recipe Blog | The Gift Loft (NZ)

    Chocolate Blueberry Brownie


    1 cup of blueberries (more or less), fresh or frozen

    225 g butter

    225 g brown sugar

    225 g dark chocolate (we used 62% dark but anything over 55% is good) - chopped into pieces

    225 g plain flour

    4 eggs

    Icing Sugar for sprinkling (optional)


    1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees celcius.
    2. Lightly grease a slice pan (or 30 cm oven dish) and line with baking paper.
    3. Sprinkle blueberries over the bottom of the dish. You could also use raspberries or boysenberries.
    4. Melt the butter, then stir in the brown sugar.
    5. Remove from heat and add the chocolate. Stir until the chocolate has melted.
    6. Mix in the sifted flour and then add the lightly beaten eggs. Mix until smooth.
    7. Pour the mixture over the blueberries. Bake for 25 - 30 minutes - do not overcook, the brownie centre should be sticky.
    8. Cool, then cut into pieces.  Sprinkle icing sugar over the top (optional). Serve with cream or ice cream.


     If you don't have time to bake a delicious brownie, The Gift Loft has a range of gourmet food hampers that include either a classic fudge brownie, or a white chocolate and cranberry brownie. These are very popular and taste just like a homemade version. Try the Salted Sticky Caramel Sauce and Sweet Treats Hamper; or the What's for Dessert Sweet Treats Hamper; or the Afternoon Tea Sweet Treats Hamper - delicious gift ideas for mum, dad, a friend or colleague.

    Salted Sticky Caramel Sauce and Sweet Treat Hamper | Gift for Her | The Gift Loft (NZ) What's for Dessert Sweet Treats Hamper | Gourmet Gift Idea | The Gift Loft (NZ) Afternoon Tea Sweet Treats Hamper | Gift for Him | The Gift Loft (NZ)

    Posted in afternoon tea, baking, best recipe, blueberries, book club, brownie, chocolate, dark chocolate, decadent, delicious, dessert, easy to bake, recipe, sweet treat

    BBQ Venezuelan Sugar-Crusted Beef Recipe

    Posted on January 18, 2017 by The Gift Loft

    BBQ Beef Recipe | Blog | Summer | The Gift Loft (NZ)

    This is our absolute "go to" BBQ beef recipe. It creates the best flavours on either oven roasted, or BBQ beef. Marinate a large whole sirloin - for best results, leave it overnight in the fridge and regularly coat the meat with the marinade so that is becomes a rich, dark colour.

    BBQ Beef | Recipe Blog | The Gift Loft (NZ) BBQ Beef Marinade | Entertaining | The Gift Loft (NZ)

    BBQ Venezuelan Sugar-Crusted Beef Recipe

    1 cup soft brown sugar

    1 cup white wine vinegar

    1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

    6 cloves garlic, crushed

    1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

    2 kilos whole sirloin or scotch fillet (if you want to use less meat, then half this recipe)


    1. Combine all the marinade ingredients together, in a bowl.
    2. Place the whole piece of meat in a roasting tray and coat in the marinade. Cover and leave in the refrigerator for 2-4 hours, preferably overnight.
    3. Remove the meat from the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature, before cooking the meat.
    4. Preheat the BBQ with a lid to 180 degrees celcius.  All burners should be set to medium.
    5. Transfer the meat to a large roasting tray and insert a meat thermometer into the centre of the meat (see the Bluetooth BBQ thermometer that signals to your phone, when the meat is cooked to your preference - available at The Gift Loft).
    6. Place the tray in the centre of the BBQ and turn off the burners directly underneath. Cover and cook for 1 hour for medium rare, basting occasionally with the remaining marinade, until the thermometer reads 55 degrees celcius.
    7. Remove the tray from the BBQ, cover the meat with foil and set aside to rest for 15 minutes. Cut the sirloin or scotch fillet into slices and serve with a summer salad.

    Recipe from "South American Grill" by Rachael Lane 

    Bluetooth BBQ Thermometer | Gift for Him | The Gift Loft (NZ)

    Posted in bbq, bbq thermometer, beef, chef, delicious, entertaining, gift for dad, gift for him, marinade, recipe, roast, summer, unique

    Summer Quick and Easy Trifle

    Posted on December 28, 2016 by The Gift Loft

    Summer Quick & Easy Trifle | Recipe Idea | The Gift Loft (NZ)

    Everyone has a trifle recipe they love. We love a very simple version with creamy custard, freshly whipped cream, apricots, lots of brandy, & using store bought sponge (we have made our own but during the busy few days pre- Christmas, we have found that baking a sponge is very low on the list of priorities!).

      See this quick and easy recipe. For a large crowd, use the trifle glass bowl; or, for a new take on tradition, place individual servings in glass goblets. We used CC Interiors Vert Glass Goblets - these are the most versatile kitchenware - we use them for everything from nibbles to entrees to desserts.

      Quick & Easy Trifle for Summer Evenings

      Easy Ingedients:

      • Plain Sponge - store bought;
      • Tin of Juice Only Apricots;
      • 1/4 cup Brandy (optional. Also, this can be sherry, if you prefer);
      • Custard - use ready made or Edmonds Custard - make, as per the instructions (we find "ready made" a bit too runny);
      • Freshly Whipped Cream (optional extra, add a dash of good quality vanilla essence).


      1. Crumble up the sponge so that it is in small pieces. This is fun with children, who love to get messy.
      2. Add the tin of apricots, with the juice. Mix through the sponge so it is moist. Add the brandy and do the same again. Note, if children are going to eat the trifle, leave out the alcohol, or make an extra trifle with no brandy.
      3. Make the custard, according to the instructions. It should not be too runny, as it needs to set in the fridge. You can make your own custard but we are providing a recipe for a quick and easy style recipe, perfect for camping, a quick summer dessert, or for the kids to make.
      4. Pour the custard over the sponge/apricot/brandy mixture. Smooth the top and cover before leaving to set in the fridge. Trifle is always best if it is left at least one day before eating - it allows the flavours to increase.
      5. Just before eating, whip the fresh cream and pour over the top of the trifle. Scatter fresh berries, or grated chocolate on top, or leave it plain and simple. 
      6. Serve immediately. Any leftovers make an indulgent breakfast. Enjoy and Happy Summer Holidays!

       CC Interiors Vert Glass Goblets & Gourmet Dessert Hamper | Unique Gift Idea | The Gift Loft (NZ)

      CC Interiors Goblets | Stylish Homeware | The Gift Loft (NZ)


      Posted in baking, camping, cookingwithkids, dessert, entertaining, giftidea, gourmet, quick and easy, recipe, summer, sweetandsavoury, trifle

      Summer Prawn & Rocket Salad with Parsnip Crisps

      Posted on November 01, 2016 by The Gift Loft


      A delicious salad for summer and Christmas BBQs! Juicy prawns in a lime mayonnaise with fresh rocket, avocado, coriander and a crisp topping of our favourite Proper Crisps Parsnip Chips!  This is a quick and easy salad that can be presented two ways: as an entree - in small ramekins or goblets (we used the CC Interiors Glass Vert Goblets for a stylish, summertime effect); or create a large platter style salad, as an accompaniment to the BBQ main course - everyone can help themselves.

      Homemade Mayonnaise

      1 egg

      1 large teaspoon whole grain mustard

      dash of worcestershire sauce

      salt and pepper

      light olive oil or grapeseed oil (about 1/2 cup)

      Place the egg in a tall cylinder style jug or bowl. Add the mustard, worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper.  Use a moulinex to mix together and gradually add the oil in a steady, thin stream, while you are whizzing with the moulinex.  The egg and oil mixture should emulsify and create a thick mayonnaise. Add enough oil to reach the emulsifying stage and as much as desired to make it a thinner or thicker consistency. Cover and place in the fridge. This step can be prepared the day before.

      Garlic & Chilli Prawns with Coriander

      1.5-2 kg prawns (if they are frozen, thaw overnight in the fridge);

      olive oil for the fry pan

      1-2 garlic cloves, diced thinly

      blob of butter

      sprinkle of dried chilli (optional)

      salt and pepper

      handful of chopped coriander

      1. Add the olive oil to a heated fry pan. Once the oil is hot, add the garlic and chilli and saute until fragrant. Add the drained prawns and cook for 1-2 minutes, until they change colour.  Sprinkle over salt and pepper. Add the butter and gently saute - for about 30 seconds. Remove from heat. Add coriander. Cool.
      2. Add the juice of 1/2 - 1 lime to 1/4 - 1/2 cup of mayonnaise.
      3. Mix the lime mayonnaise through the prawn and coriander mixture. Cover and set aside in the fridge, until you are just about to serve the salad.


      Rocket leaves

      1 Capsicum chopped finely

      1 Avocado, sliced thinly

      Lime wedges

      Coriander, chopped.

      Proper Crisp Parsnip Chips

      1. Place the rocket on a large platter. Sprinkle over the capsicum and slices of avocado, add the prawn mixture to the centre of the platter. Scatter with more coriander and lime wedges. Add parsnip chips as a topping.
      2. Optional extra, add a light drizzle of your favourite dressing - balsamic dressing - to the salad greens before adding the lime mayonnaise prawns and parsnip crisps.
      3. If you are making this salad, as an entree, follow the same procedure in step one but add individual servings in goblets or individual plates.

      Posted in BBQ, blog, Christmas, delicious, gourmet, mayonnaise, parsnip, prawns, proper crisps, recipe, salad, summer

      Chocolate Mousse Tart with Berry Coulis

      Posted on September 16, 2016 by The Gift Loft

      Every now and then, you just want to lift the bar and create an amazing dessert - this is one of them. We made it for book club (we have refined our book club to just providing dessert, as making all three courses, is just too time consuming in the week. So the dessert has to be good, as it is the main feature of the night!).  This recipe is easy to make if you get yourself well prepared before you start. Make the pastry the day before, roll it out and place it in the flan tin, covered - this speeds up the preparation time. Also, you can make the entire dessert, the day before and just bring it to room temperature before you serve it. We tried this with the leftovers and it was as good as it tasted on the first day it was made. Perfect for a mid week gathering!

      Chocolate Mousse Dessert with Berry Coulis adapted from a MasterChef Australia recipe by Mindy Woods, contestant.

      Chocolate Shortcrust Pastry

      • 100g (2/3 cup) plain flour
      • 70 g Dutch Cocoa (we used Nestle cocoa)
      • 20 g ground almonds
      • 60 g icing sugar
      • 90 g unsalted butter
      • 1 egg, lightly beaten

      Chocolate Mousse

      • 275 g dark chocolate (preferably containing 70g cocoa solids but we used a combination of 62% cocoa solids and a Devonport Chocolates dark chocolate berry crush tablet - for a hint of South Island raspberries), finely crushed
      • 140g unsalted butter, chopped (we actually just use standard, NZ salted butter)
      • 2 eggs
      • 3 egg yolks
      • 110 g (1/2 cup) castor sugar
      • 1 orange zest (optional)

      Berry Coulis (optional)

      • 1-2 cups frozen or fresh boysenberries or raspberries plus 1-2 Tbsp icing sugar
      • 1/2- 1 tsp cornflour made to a smooth paste with 1 Tbsp of cold water
      • Splash of rum (optional).



      1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius. Grease a 24 cm round fluted flan or tart dish.
      2. Place the four, cocoa, almonds and sugar in the food processor. If using unsalted butter, add a pinch of salt (we use standard NZ salted butter so leave out the pinch of salt). Process for 30 seconds, or until well combined.
      3. Add butter and process until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add egg and process just until the mixture comes together. Shape into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
      4. Roll out the pastry between two pieces of baking paper or plastic wrap, until about 4mm thick. Line the greased flan dish. Trim the edge (we tend to do this after the flan has cooked, if the edges are not too long). Prick base with a fork. Chill for another 30 minutes, or freeze for 15 minutes (or cover it and leave overnight, until you need it).
      5. Line the pastry base with baking paper and ceramic balls (to weigh the pastry down). You can use uncooked rice for this, just make sure no rice granules get lodged in the pastry. Place the tart pan in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the baking paper and the ceramic balls (careful, they will be hot) or rice granules. Bake uncovered for another 10 minutes, or until the base is dry. Cool 10 minutes.

        Mousse Filling

        1. Place the chocolate and butter in a heat proof bowl, over a saucepan of simmering water (make sure the bowl does not touch the boiling water, nor should any water get into the chocolate/butter mixture). Stir occasionally and heat until the mixture is smooth and all melted together. Set aside and cool slightly. Reserve the simmering water.
        2. Place eggs, egg yolks and castor sugar in a heatproof bowl over the pan of simmering water. Using a hand held electric beater, whisk on medium speed for 6 minutes, or until the mixture has tripled in size and holds a trail with a spoon. Remove from the heat and add orange zest.
        3. Fold the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture in three batches. Carefully, fold the mixture together, making sure you do not lose the air in the egg mixture.  This is key to having a delicious, light mousse texture.
        4. Immediately, pour the mousse into the cooked pastry case.  Level it with a spatula or spoon. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 16-18 minutes, until it is just set (do not let it go dry).
        5. Remove from the oven and cool to room temperature.

          Berry Coulis

          1. Place the frozen berries in a saucepan and gently allow them to thaw and cook to a mushy texture. Remove them from the heat and pass the mixture through a sieve. Only use the berry liquid that goes through the sieve. (You can keep the berry pulp for the top of your breakfast cereal, or mix it through yoghurt).
          2. Place the berry liquid in a saucepan with the icing sugar and heat, gently. Add the cornflour mixture to thicken. If it gets too thick, add some water. It should be runny but hold a light trail, on a spoon.
          3. Remove from the heat and add a splash of rum or whisky, if you wish.

          Serve the tart with the berry coulis and a blob of vanilla ice cream. Enjoy!


            Posted in almonds, berry, birthday treat, blog, book club, chocolate, coulis, decadent, dessert, devonport chocolates, mousse, recipe, sweet, tart

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