A simple but beautiful Kladdkaka chocolate cake, gluten free and perfect for sharing with friends and family for lunch or supper. Adorn it with berries and serve it with cream for an extra indulgent twist.Read More
Deliciously decadent chocolate brownies you can enjoy even if you're gluten and dairy free!Read More
Super excited to join this year's #virtualpumpkinparty!! With so many delicious recipes to try, I'm sad it's a *virtual* party and we're not all coming together to actually eat this pumpkin-fest! Here's my Pumpkin Chocolate Cheesecake -- a beautiful rich cheesecake with layers of both pumpkin and chocolate cheesecakes on a crunchy bourbon biscuit base :)Read More
Pandan Roulade with Chocolate Mascarpone Cream. I am in love with these flavours together! Topped with fresh raspberries and a hint of edible gold bling 💕Read More
These cookies are totally delicious with the flavour of tahini and rich dark chocolate chunks throughout. Best enjoyed warm from the oven!Read More
This super dense chocolate cake covered with a rich fudgy sauce is perfect for afternoon tea or a cosy supper with friends. This is my first bake from John Whaite's Perfect Plates in 5 Ingredients and features a rather odd secret ingredient. Can you guess what it is?Read More
Ultimate Chocolate Brownies. A bold claim but these chocolate brownies are super dense, truffle-like and the most chocolatey brownies I've ever tasted!Read More
This week sees my little boy go on his first residential course with school. He's eight and so, so excited. Midnight feasts, fun activities, outdoor pursuits, sleepovers, disco dancing. He can't wait; I just know I'm going to be in pieces! So I'm over-compensating and spoiling my boys with some yummy goodies for the next few days. Cue these delicious Chocolate Financiers.
I love patisserie. It makes me think of Paris and the counters of stunning old-fashioned patisseries over-brimming with pastries, tarts, custard, cream, fruit. So many amazing delicacies to sample but the word patisserie when it comes to home-baking can be quite scary. You imagine huge complicated recipes with lots of stages and the truth is that it can be like that. But there are other more simple bakes that are much more manageable and don't need huge reams of fancy equipment or two days to prepare. The most important thing you need to do is follow the ratios of the ingredients and measure them accurately. If you do that, you too can create their delicious delicacies.
These Chocolate Financiers are incredible. Traditionally they would be little rectangles (like little loafs) but I don't have that tin and am already packed to the rafters with baking equipment and different types of tins. So I used my Friand tin where the shapes are little ovals - but you could also make these in cupcake tins or whatever you have to hand. Just be sure to adjust the baking times accordingly if your individual Financiers are a lot larger or smaller than mine.
I wanted to make chocolate financiers since my boys love chocolate and this is a special treat for them, after all. I would usually have put pistachios into the cake batter but my boys aren't fond of nuts in the cake itself so I held back and sprinkled them over the top and this way they can removed later! What I did do, was add a few chocolate chips onto the top of the batter before popping them in the oven and they melted deliciously.
So the first thing we do is preheat the oven and grease the cavities of your chosen tin well. Then melt the butter and vanilla in a saucepan over a medium heat until melted. Keep the butter over a medium heat until it turns brown (around 5 minutes), being careful not to let it burn. This makes a buerre noisette and when making blonde financiers (ie not chocolate ones) this gives them their golden colour. Once brown, the chocolate is added and stirred together until melted. Then set aside to cool a little.
The next stage is to whisk the egg whites and icing sugar together until soft peaks form. This takes around 5 minutes. Sift the flour and ground almonds over the top of the egg and sugar mixture and then fold them in with a metal spoon. When they're fully mixed, pour the chocolate into the bowl down one of inside edges (this is so that you don't drop the chocolate straight on top of your mixture when you've taken time to fold it and keep lots of air in). Fold the chocolate into the mixture, making sure that you scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl well as the chocolate will all sink to the bottom and you want it folded throughout. The worst thing is when you come to put your mixture into the tin and find a layer of chocolate at the bottom that hasn't been mixed through properly.
When the mixture is fully incorporated, take a small spoon or ice cream scoop and put one spoonful into each cavity of your baking tin. Each one should be around half-full. Then pop them in the oven for 15-20 minutes. Mine took 18 minutes but you can check that they're ready by inserting a wooden skewer into the middle of each one and it should come out clean. When they're baked, leave them in their tins for around 10 mins. Then check that they are loosened from the tin with a flat knife and use this to help lever them out, but they should come out very easily.
These would be stunning served with raspberries, pistachios, extra chocolate sauce :) As I mentioned earlier, I sprinkled chopped pistachios over the top to give a little extra crunch and then dusted them with icing sugar.
Chocolate Financiers are seriously delicious. Lovely and light, they would be perfect for afternoon tea or a coffee morning. Even a little after dinner treat if you're hosting a dinner party.
I can't wait to share them with my boys when they get home from school today :)
Makes 12 financiers
- 150G UNSALTED BUTTER
- 1 TSP VANILLA EXTRACT
- 100G CHOCOLATE, CHOPPED INTO PIECES
- 200G EGG WHITES (5 eggs)
- 175G ICING SUGAR
- 50G PLAIN FLOUR
- 85G GROUND ALMONDS
- OPTIONAL: CHOPPED PISTACHIOS AND/OR CHOCOLATE CHIPS
- Preheat the oven to 160 degrees (fan)
- Grease the cavities of your chosen tin well
- In a medium saucepan and over a medium heat, melt the butter and vanilla extract together until fully melted
- Continue to heat the butter until it turns a golden brown colour (around 5 minutes)
- Add the chocolate and stir until melted
- Set aside to cool a little
- In a freestanding mixer, whisk the egg whites and icing sugar together until soft peaks form (around 5 minutes on a medium speed)
- Sift the flour and icing sugar over the top of the mixture and then fold in using a metal spoon
- Add your chocolate butter mixture by pouring it down the inside side of the bowl rather than straight on top of your mixture
- Fold the chocolate in, ensuring that you scrape down the sides and bottoms and thoroughly mix the chocolate in
- Using a spoon or small ice cream scoop, fill each cavity of your baking tin around half full
- Bake for 15 - 20 minutes or until a wooden skewer inserted in the middle of the financiers comes out clean
- Remove from the oven and leave them in their tin for around 10 mins to cool a little
- Gently using a flat knife, loosen them from the sides of the tin and remove each one
- If you would like to add the pistachios, chop a handful of them and sprinkle them on the top
- Finally, dust them with a light sprinkling of icing sugar
- And enjoy :)
We had a fab week off for half term and all too soon the boys are back to school. After a busy week of baking in the week before half term, last week was all about spending quality time with my boys and catching up with friends. My eldest son had his 8th birthday (where, of where did those years go?) and I had a couple of fun projects to celebrate his big day -- Star Wars cookies for his classmates and a bright drippy cake for the big day (his celebration cake comes in a few weeks time!) Then some cupcakes for my gran to share with her new friends after moving into a new care home and finding life at 92 after living in her own place until now, a little challenging.
Last week, my friend dug out a rather fetching party photo of me from way back when featuring tea cakes (don't ask!) and said that her hubby had made the Peyton & Byrne ones for her once - and that they were delicious! I think her kitchen took a bit of a beating (we are talking about biscuits, marshmallow and melted chocolate) but it was totally worth it. I said I needed the recipe.
Do you remember the Tunnocks Tea Cakes that come wrapped in foil? I haven't had one since I was a kid and I don't know whether they've been available all this time or made a retro comeback but they are alive and well. So today I made the Peyton & Byrne Marshmallow Teacakes which were simply divine and had everything good about them that you'll remember from the Tunnocks ones - but especially yummy since they are fresh and squidgy and gooey and covered in melted milk chocolate. They have three stages but are simple to make.
The recipe makes twelve teacakes but our expanding waistlines are requiring a little more restraint of late so I halved the recipe and just made six. I've featured the recipe for twelve but you can alter the quantities to make as many as you like. First of all you need to make the biscuits. They are very simple although you do need to keep scraping down the side of the bowl to ensure that you mix it thoroughly. I then weighed out the mixture to make each one the same size. When they came from the oven, they were a little larger than I expected but I addressed that later -- keep reading!
As the biscuits cooled, I moved onto the marshmallow. All the ingredients are whisked over a saucepan of simmering water until frothy and slightly opaque. The recipe says that this should take 10-15 minutes, although mine was ready in 5 minutes so keep an eye on the texture. I then whisked the mixture with an electric hand mixer for a further 5 minutes until the marshmallow held its shape. It does set up relatively quickly so you want to move onto the next stage straightaway. I was a bit disappointed with the amount of marshmallow I had and would have been happy with twice the amount -- maybe that's just me! When I piped it on to the biscuits, I had to do this sparingly and there was quite a large ridge left around the outside of the biscuit. I didn't think this would look good once the chocolate was covering it so I decided to cut the biscuits smaller, using the outside of the marshmallow as a guide. It was a bit messy but I was much happier with the shape left.
Finally, on to the melted chocolate. Melted chocolate is dangerous in my kitchen because I love the stuff. Especially the melted Belgian milk chocolate variety that I used here. You melt half the chocolate first and then remove from the heat -- then adding the remaining chocolate and leaving 7 minutes before stirring it. This is a way of tempering the chocolate so it doesn't bloom when it sets and go dull and streaky. I have to say that mine were a little dull and streaky but that might be because I played around it with it too long when covering my little biscuits. Pop your biscuits onto a cooling rack with something underneath to catch your chocolate drips -- and get pouring! So much fun :) You need to try to make sure all the sides are completely covered but don't worry if not - they will just look a little more rustic but taste the same amount of deliciousness.
The final stage is to wait. An hour is needed for them to set. But it is hugely tempting to taste test them early! I let mine set for around 15 minutes and then lifted them with a palette knife, cleaning the drips from underneath, and put them onto a sheet lined with greaseproof paper to set.
Perhaps it will disappoint you to know that these need to be eaten the day they're made. All of them. It's a hardship but someone has to do it.
We're currently sat looking at an empty plate.
It's totally worth making these from scratch and you won't be disappointed.
from Peyton & Byrne's British Baking
- 110G PLAIN FLOUR
- 1/8 TSP BAKING POWDER
- 1/8 TSP BICARBONATE OF SODA
- PINCH OF SALT
- 60G UNSALTED BUTTER, SOFTENED
- 60G CASTER SUGAR
- 2 EGG YOLKS (you need the egg whites for the marshmallow)
- 1/2 TSP VANILLA EXTRACT
- 1 TBSP DOUBLE CREAM
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees (fan)
- Line 2 baking trays with baking paper
- Sift together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a bowl
- In a freestanding mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy
- Add the egg yolks and vanilla and mix well, scraping down the sides
- Beat in the cream and then the flour mixture until just combined
- Scrape down the bowl sides and mix it quickly once more
- Weigh the dough and divide it by 12, then divide the dough into 12 small balls and put them onto the lined trays (they do spread so leave space between each one)
- Bake for around 10 minutes until the edges are lightly golden
- Remove from the oven and leave on the baking tray to cool
- 2 EGG WHITES
- 100G CASTER SUGAR
- 1 TBSP GOLDEN SYRUP + 1 TSP
- PINCH OF SALT
- 1/2 TSP VANILLA EXTRACT
- Place all of the ingredients in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water
- Whisk until the mixture becomes frothy and slightly opaque (the recipe says 10-15 minutes but mine was ready in 5 minutes)
- Remove the bowl from the heat and then whisk it with an electric hand whisk until it hold its shape (mine was whisked for 5 minutes)
- Put the marshmallow into a piping bag and then pipe a dollop onto the top of each biscuit
- Optional - I wasn't happy with the surplus biscuit around the marshmallow so I cut each biscuit with a 5cm cutter to get a uniform shape
Chocolate Topping Ingredients
- 250G BEST QUALITY MILK CHOCOLATE (chopped into small pieces)
- Take 125g chocolate and melt it in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water until melted
- Remove from the heat and put the remaining chocolate into the bowl
- Leave untouched for 7 minutes and then stir the chocolate until it's all melted
- Place the biscuits onto a wire rack with a tray underneath to catch the drips
- Once ready, use a dessert spoon to drench each teacake with chocolate - you can help the chocolate along a little so it drips down the sides - if you want a perfect finish, then you may need to keep adding more chocolate to the teacake and tease it down the sides
- Leave the teacakes for around 15 minutes and then carefully remove each one with a spatula, tidying up the bottoms, and then place on a tray lined with greaseproof paper to set
- Leave for at least an hour until the chocolate has set
- Enjoy with a nice cup of tea :)
So let's talk about beetroot.
I have never liked the stuff. Never cooked it before. To me, it tastes so earthy it's just not a flavour that I enjoy. But -- I have always been kind of curious about baking it into a cake.
We had friends over for lunch at the weekend and I thought it would be fun to bake a cake for the grown-ups and children and see if the kiddies could spot a vegetable disguised as a sweet treat. Ha! They didn't :)
So the cake is a flourless chocolate cake made with hazelnuts making it a great gluten-free bake and my starting point for this was a recipe from the Australian Women's Weekly's Love To Bake. They adorn it with vanilla yoghurt and candied beetroot (the candied variety seemed one step too far in my beetroot journey!) As it's a solid cake (it doesn't rise to great heights), I decided to bathe mine in chocolate ganache, add some height with chocolate garnishes and give it a light shower of freeze-dried strawberries. The cake itself is very simple to make but requires a little prep and is best made the day before you're planning to serve it.
So the day before, the beetroot needs to be cooked for around 45 minutes until it's tender and then liquidised to a beautiful purple puree (see, I can compliment the beetroot for its look!) Then the chocolate and butter are melted together whilst you whisk the eggs, sugar, vanilla, ground hazelnuts and cocoa together in a separate bowl. Add them together with the beetroot puree and pour them into your baking tin. This needs to be covered with foil to be baked for around an hour. Once it's ready, it's then refrigerated overnight - or for at least three hours if you're making it the day it's to be served. I refrigerated mine in its baking tin covered with clingfilm.
Also, the night before, I made the chocolate garnishes so they would have time to set out of the fridge. I swirled circles on greaseproof papers and left them to dry.
When you're ready to prepare your cake for serving, remove it from the fridge, take it from its tin and release the greaseproof paper. I found my cake had shrunk away from the sides a little. This is all fine and it's going to be a relatively flat cake. I made my chocolate ganache as a 1:1 ratio of chocolate to cream which is a thick ganache - if you want it runnier with smaller drips, then you can use 1:2 chocolate to cream. When the ganache is ready, pour it over the surface of the cake allowing it to drip down the sides. Place your chocolate garnishes upright on the cake, holding them in place until they set a little and stand firm. Then sprinkle your freeze-dried strawberries across the top.
The beetroot gives a lovely moistness. The hazelnuts are a tasty addition in place of the flour, where I've usually used almonds in my gluten-free cakes. You definitely can't taste the beetroot in it but that's probably because it contains quite a lot of dark chocolate (which is never a bad thing in my book!)
I wouldn't say that I'm a beetroot convert. But whereas I can't eat it in a salad, I can definitely eat it disguised in a cake. That's progress. And the boys loved it too.
I think we'll be making this one again :)
Flourless Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Ganache and Freeze-Dried Strawberries
Flourless Chocolate Cake
adapted from the Australian Women's Weekly Love To Bake
- 250G BEETROOT
- 290G DARK CHOCOLATE
- 150G BUTTER
- 5 EGGS
- 3/4 TSP VANILLA
- 180G LIGHT BROWN SUGAR
- 85G GROUND HAZELNUTS (I bought whole hazelnuts and ground them in a blender)
- 3/4 TSP COCOA POWDER
- Cook the beetroot in a small pan for 45 minutes or until tender
- Grease and line a 7 inch cake tin
- When the beetroot in tender, drain and puree in a blender until smooth
- Melt the dark chocolate and butter in a saucepan over a medium heat until melted and smooth
- Whisk the eggs, vanilla, brown sugar, hazelnuts and cocoa powder in a separate bowl
- Add the chocolate mixture and beetroot and whisk to combine
- Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and cover with baking foil
- Bake the cake for around 1 hour until cooked around the edge with a slight wobble in the middle (I tested mine with a skewer that came out clean)
- When you remove it from the oven, lift up the edge of the foil to let the steam escape
- Allow to cool and then cover with clingfilm and refrigerate overnight
Chocolate Garnishes & Freeze-Dried Starwberries
- 100G DARK CHOCOLATE
- 1 TUBE OF FREEZE-DRIED STRAWBERRIES
- Melt the chocolate in the microwave until almost melted
- Remove from the microwave and stir the chocolate until completely melted and smooth
- You can either use a squeezy bottle or a teaspoon but you want to drizzle patterns on a sheet of greaseproof paper
- Allow the cool at room temperature (not in the fridge)
- My freeze-dried strawberries were little pieces and I want to create some powder too so I blitzed them in a blender to get a mix of powder and slightly larger pieces
- Place aside
- 100G DARK CHOCOLATE
- 100G DOUBLE CREAM
- Chop up the chocolate into smaller pieces and place it in a heatproof bowl
- Heat the cream in a saucepan until a few bubbles start to appear
- Pour the warmed cream over the chocolate and leave for a couple of minutes
- Mix together slowly until smooth
- Remove your cake from the fridge and place in the plate you will serve it on
- Pour the ganache over the top of your cake
- Carefully position your chocolate garnishes upright and hold them for 30 seconds until they stand firm
- Scatter the freeze-dried strawberries over the top
- Serve with cream :)
I love my weekends. I love my weekdays too but the weekends come with family time, long lie-in's and lots of snuggling with my boys. Perfection. And it also comes with weekend baking. Making lots of comfort food that we eat straight from the oven. Trying new combinations of ingredients because we happen to love them all and wonder what they'll look like together.
We didn't need any more sweet delights this week. We had Mini Almond Lemon Lamingtons to celebrate Australia Day, a big birthday chocolate cake to celebrate hubby's birthday, freshly baked Nutella Brioche for hubby's birthday breakfast and Pumpkin Dutch Pancakes. But what's one more chocolate delight amongst friends?
My little one and I decided to bake brownies and pair it with some of our favourite things - Chocolate Brownies with Peanut Butter and Popcorn Frosting. Three things we tend to eat a lot of in this house!
The brownies are lovely and squidgy. We got them out of the oven a little sooner than most would choose so they are *very* squidgy. That's just the way we like them. They were still warm when we frosted them so the peanut butter started to melt a little bit around the edges. That was okay. Then we sprinkled them with toffee popcorn and dusted them with icing sugar. And inhaled them.
The Chocolate Brownies are simple to make. I love that brownies are so quick to get in the oven and these ones promise a huge chocolate hit. The recipe is adapted from Hummingbird's Chocolate Brownie but I decreased the sugar a little and switched to golden caster sugar. I also decided that we'd bake it in a bread tin and make a slightly smaller batch. This is a one bowl recipe which when you do as much washing up as I do, is always a big win! Chocolate and butter are melted over a bain-marie until smooth and the sugar is added and mixed until smooth. Then the flour is added and mixed until smooth. Finally the eggs are added and mixed until smooth. Once poured into a lined baking tin (in our case, a bread tin lined with baking parchment) it goes in the oven for around 35 minutes. We baked ours for 30 minutes (when we put a cocktail stick in the middle, it was still slightly damp) and the brownies, even cooled, are pretty gooey so I'd suggest baking them for at least 35 minutes.
Whilst the brownies were cooling, we made the frosting, The butter is beaten for a couple of minutes and then the icing sugar and milk added. When these are lovely and smooth, add the peanut butter and beat until combined and smooth. We chose smooth peanut butter but you can use a crunchy one as you like. This is also the time to customise your own topping so you can add more peanut butter to taste.
When the brownies are cool and the frosting has been spread liberally over them, scatter the top with toffee popcorn and then dust with icing sugar to finish.
The boys absolutely loved these. What's not to love about a totally chocolatey and squidgy chocolate brownie covered with the sweetest frosting and finished with our favourite kind of popcorn?
Totally a weekend hit and one that can easily be made with the little ones and enjoyed by them. It won't last long!
Chocolate Brownies With Peanut Butter and Popcorn Frosting
adapted from Hummingbird's Chocolate Brownies
- 150G DARK CHOCOLATE
- 120G BUTTER
- 200G GOLDEN CASTER SUGAR
- 2 EGGS
- 90G PLAIN FLOUR
- Preheat the oven to 170 degrees (fan)
- Grease and line a bread tin
- Melt the chocolate and butter gently in a bowl placed over a simmering pan of water - remember not to let the water touch the bottom of the bowl
- Once melted and smooth, remove from the heat
- Stir in the golden caster sugar until fully combined
- Stir in the flour and mix until smooth
- Mix in the eggs until you have a smooth batter
- Pour the mixture into the prepared bread tin and make sure that the batter is level
- Bake for around 35 minutes until the top is flakey and the centre should still be a little wobbly - but if unsure, then test it with a cocktail stick that should come out clean
- Leave to cool and carefully remove from its tin
Peanut Butter Frosting
- 100G BUTTER
- 200G ICING SUGAR, SIFTED
- 2 TSP MILK
- 130G SMOOTH PEANUT BUTTER
- A BAG OF TOFFEE POPCORN (we used Butterkist but you can choose whichever brand you like)
- Beat the butter in a stand mixer for 2 minutes
- Add the icing sugar and milk and beat until smooth and fully combined
- Mix in the peanut butter until smooth
- Once the brownie is cooled, spread the frosting over the top
- Sprinkle the popcorn over the frosting
- Dust the top with icing sugar
- And enjoy :)
I think I've made a lifetime's supply of profiteroles in the last two weeks. It has definitely been an opportunity to perfect my choux pastry technique! Chocolate and custard are favourites in this house, so it's not been unwelcome ;-)
I was making a Croquembouche for a birthday last weekend. Everything went perfectly - the choux pastry, the custard, filling the little balls of delight - until I came to build the Croq itself. I was using a recipe that used melted white chocolate to stick the buns together and I thought it was all going swimmingly until I came to release it from its cone. Collapse. Don't admit defeat, I thought. I went through all the possibilities. Time was short. Royal icing, I decided. Whipped up a batch and reglued the buns together using icing. Then I forced myself to leave the house for four hours to let it set (I had no longer and this was already a stressful thing to do when I was due to deliver it that afternoon). I returned, full of hope. Slowly I edged it out of its cone. It stood up but it looked a little crooked. Like a witch's hat with a little kink at the top. I moved around looking at it from different angles. The bottom seemed to be expanding, it leant a little bit more, then a little bit more, before a large splat on the kitchen workbench.
I have the loveliest friends. They were insistent that I deliver the mashed up Croq with some chocolate sauce on top, but I just had to make a new batch. So it was during this time that I perfected my profiterole making and streamlined a quick and easy method for making them. The custard part needs to be made before, but you can always fill them with whipped cream. And the chocolate sauce is super easy, very rich and hugely indulgent.
I suggest making the choux buns the day before you need them. They can get a little soft but I just blasted them in the oven for 5 minutes to crisp them up before filling on the day you plan to serve them. I've heard a number of people worry that choux is difficult to make but this is a pretty fullproof method. You put butter and water in a saucepan until the butter is melted and then bring to the boil. Add the flour in one go and mix vigorously over the heat until it comes together and comes away cleanly from the side of the pan. This takes around 30 seconds. Take it off the heat and place to one side for 5 minutes. After this cooling, add the eggs one by one, stirring vigorously after each one. A lot of recipes suggest that you may not need to add all the eggs but if unsure then add all the eggs. Then pop this in a piping bag. Snip 1cm off the end.
I pipe mine onto silpat lined baking trays but you can use baking parchment. Pipe 24 balls (4 x 6 balls) onto your tray. You'll probably get a little point on the top of each ball and using a little water on your finger, gently pat down the point (this stops it from burning in the oven). I cook mine for 10 minutes, then rotate the trays 180 degrees for another 10 minutes. Then remove them from the oven, cut a little slit in the side (around 1cm) and pop them back in for 5 minutes. Then allow to cool on a baking rack. Repeat with any remaining mixture. These can be stored in an airtight container until you're ready to use them.
I also make my custard the day before I need it and chill it in the fridge overnight. Now custard needs a lot of egg yolks, so it's always worth having something to make with all your leftover egg whites! It's very simple to make too. The egg yolks, sugar and flour are mixed together to make a paste. Then just boiling milk is poured over the egg mixture, whisked vigorously before returning to the saucepan. It's important to whisk this well as you don't want a scrambled egg mixture. You cook this over a low heat, always stirring, until it's thick and bubbling. Then it should be transferred to a bowl and covered with a layer of clingfilm so that the clingfilm is in contact with the surface of the custard. Once cool, it can be refrigerated.
On the day of serving, I generally give my choux buns 5 minutes at 160 degrees just to crisp them up a little. They cool down very quickly so by the time you've filled your piping bag with the custard, they're ready to fill. I use a pastry piping nozzle which has a long, thin nozzle that you can stick into the bun. Squeeze the custard in gently so you can see the filling spreading throughout and the bun will expand a little when it's full. If you're concerned you may be over-filling them, start with a little and you can always go back and top up.
The chocolate sauce is very rich and indulgent and sets quite quickly so you need to pour it on as soon as it's ready. It's warm when you pour it, but you can serve it cool (it will harden a little) or warm - both are delicious. The sauce is made from a sugar syrup (water and sugar) brought to the boil and then reduced to simmering. Whilst simmering, place a bowl with a chocolate on top (as a bain-marie) and allow the melt gently. When it's melted, pour the sugar syrup into the bowl and mix well until combined. Then pour immediately on the profiteroles.
The three elements for making the profiteroles could be really complicated, but are in fact very straightforward when broken into four steps. Making the choux buns and custard the day before, removes the stress completely when you have friends or family waiting to eat them. And making a fresh, warm, chocolate sauce poured over the top in front of your guests is the best (and not only for the smell of the chocolate!)
Profiteroles always seem to be a winner. Kids and adults alike love them. And I think they make such a special dessert, just perfect for sharing :)
Profiteroles with Custard and Chocolate Sauce
adapted from BBC Good Food
Choux Bun Ingredients
- 185G PLAIN FLOUR
- 175G UNSALTED BUTTER
- 450ML WATER
- 6 LARGE EGGS, BEATEN
Choux Bun Method
- Place the butter and water in a saucepan and heat gently until the butter has melted
- Bring to the boil and add the flour all at once
- Beat vigorously with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes together and comes away cleanly from the side of the pan (around 20-30 seconds)
- Remove from the heat and put to one side for 5 minutes
- Beat in the eggs one by one until the mixture is glossy and just holding its shape without being too runny
- Put this in a piping bag and cut 1 cm of the end of the bag
- Preheat the oven to 160 degrees (fan)
- Line 2 baking trays with silpat or baking parchment and pipe 24 rounds onto one sheet (6 x 4 balls around 3cm)
- If you have little peaks on the top of your buns, pat each peak gently with a lightly dampened finger
- Place the two trays in the oven and bake for 10 minutes
- Then rotate the trays 180 degrees and bake for a further 10 minutes
- Remove from the oven and cut a 1cm slit in the side of each bun and place back in the oven for 5 minutes
- Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack
- Once cool, put them in an airtight container overnight
- 9 LARGE EGG YOLKS
- 150g GOLDEN CASTER SUGAR
- 50g PLAIN FLOUR
- 500ml FULL CREAM MILK
- 1 TBSP VANILLA PASTE (to taste)
- Beat the egg yolks, sugar, flour and vanilla paste in a bowl until you have a smooth paste
- Bring the milk just to the boil and then pour it over the egg mixture, whisking all the time
- When combined, pour it back into the saucepan over a low heat, whisking all the time
- Keep whisking until the custard is bubbling and thickened
- Remove from the heat and cover with clingfilm so the clingfilm is in contact with the surface of the custard
- Once cool, refrigerate until ready to use
Preparing Your Profiteroles
- When you're ready to assemble the profiteroles, if the choux buns feel a little soft, put them in oven at 160 degrees for 5 minutes
- Using a pastry nozzle, fill your piping bag with the custard
- Take each ball in turn, insert the piping nozzle into the side of the ball and gently fill each one with custard - you will feel the ball inflate slightly
- Continue until all balls are filled and then assemble on your serving dish
Chocolate Sauce Ingredients
- 100ML WATER
- 80G CASTER SUGAR
- 200G DARK CHOCOLATE (broken into small pieces)
Chocolate Sauce Method
- Bring the water and sugar to the boil in a saucepan and then reduce to a simmer
- Place the chocolate in a bowl and place this over the top of the saucepan
- Stir the chocolate from time to time until it's all melted
- Once melted, pour the sugar syrup from the saucepan into the bowl of melted chocolate
- Stir until smooth
- Pour immediately over your dish of profiteroles
- The profiteroles can be served with either warm sauce or sauce allowed to cool - although there is something especially yummy about warm, melted chocolate sauce over a plate of these little choux buns :)
It's been trying to snow here in London all day. We've done our Sunday fixtures of school football, run around like loons, warmed our hands on hot drinks from the cafe and returned home to work our way through a mini pile of homework and projects. And now something comforting is calling to me. Don't you just love when you know there's something buried in your freezer that's going to give you just the right amount of chocolatey TLC?
These Melting Chocolate Puds have to one of my favourite desserts. I used to make them and then lost the recipe for a while. It's buried deep in one of my Donna Hay magazines - problem is, I have over a decade's supply of her mags and it was hidden much too well. But then I found it again. And decided to pair it with a homemade Brown Bread Ice Cream. When I have the time, I love making ice cream from scratch and dusting off my ice cream machine to make rich, creamy loveliness.
The best part about the Chocolate Melting Puds is that they can be made days before you need them and baked straight from the freezer when your guests are sat at the dinner table. And if you're savvy enough to make (a lot) more than you need, when the chocolate craving comes a-calling, you can have a homemade chocolate pud from freezer to plate in 18 mins. And homemade ice cream is always a wonderful treat.
To make the ice cream, you first need to make a custard base. Egg yolks, sugar and cornflour are mixed together in a bowl and then milk brought just to the boil is poured onto the egg mixture whisking all the time. The mixture is returned to the pan and cooked gently over the heat, whisking all the time, until the custard has thickened. It is important to mix it all the time to ensure that the custard doesn't catch and burn on the bottom of the pan.
Then I generally chill it overnight in the fridge but it just needs to cool down completely. To cook the brown breadcrumbs, blitz brown bread to make breadcrumbs, melt butter in a large frying pan and then add the breadcrumbs. Mix them around, coating them evenly with the butter and then sprinkle the sugar over the breadcrumbs. You don't want to overcook the breadcrumbs but cook them for around 5 minutes until they're lightly browned. Put them to one side and cool.
When you're ready to make the ice cream, mix the vanilla into the custard and pop it in the ice cream maker. The brown bread crumbs may have clumped together as they cooled so you can blitz them but not to much as you want a breadcrumb texture rather than a fine powder. When the custard has thickened into the ice cream, add the breadcrumbs and mix for another 5 minutes. I generally freeze my ice cream until I need it, but you can serve it straight from the ice cream maker.
Whilst you're making your ice cream, you can also start to prepare your chocolate puds. Start by melting the chocolate and butter in a saucepan over a low heat until melted and then put aside. Place the eggs, sugar and vanilla in a mixer and whisk for around 8 to 10 minutes until the mixture has doubled in volume. Pour in the cooled chocolate in a drizzle down the side of the bowl and then mix gently until fully incorporated. Sift the flour over the top and then fold gently. It's important to mix just until it's all incorporated as you can over-mix it and toughen the mixture.
The timing of baking really determines what kind of pudding you get in the end. It's obvious I guess but a couple of minutes turns it from a gooey, liquidy centre into more of a cake with a set middle. Personally I think the gooey centre rules and that's about 16-18 minutes in my oven - but you should test it in yours to get it perfect.
I hope you enjoy this as much as me and have a go at making your own ice cream. If you don't have your own ice cream maker and fancy a no churn option that you can whip together and pop straight into the freezer, try this Mascarpone Ice Cream With Salted Caramel.The salted caramel compliments the puds perfectly.
And make more than you need. Many more. You never know when you might need one!
Brown Bread Ice Cream
Makes enough ice cream for 6-8 people as an accompaniment to pudding
- 4 EGG YOLKS
- 75G CASTER SUGAR
- 1 TSP CORNFLOUR
- 300ML SEMI-SKIMMED MILK
- 40G BUTTER
- 75G BROWN BREADCRUMBS
- 50G LIGHT MUSCOVADO SUGAR
- 1 TSP VANILLA EXTRACT
- 300ML DOUBLE CREAM
- Hand whisk the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour in a bowl until the mixture is pale and creamy
- Heat the milk in a saucepan until it starts to bubble, but does not quite boil
- Pour the heated milk into the egg mixture, whisking all the time until mixed through
- Then tip the mixture back into the saucepan and cook it over a gentle heat, whisking all the time, until the custard thickens
- Place the custard into a bowl, cover with clingfilm and refrigerate until cool
- To make the breadcrumbs, blitz the brown bread until you make breadcrumbs
- Melt the butter and add the breadcrumbs, making sure that you coat them thoroughly with the butter
- Sprinkle the sugar across the top of them and cook them for around 5 minutes until crisp - keep an eye on them as they can easily burn and if they blacken, you will need to start again
- Set aside the brown breadcrumbs
- When the custard is chilled, stir through the vanilla extract
- Place the custard in an ice cream maker and churn it until thickened
- Add the breadcrumbs and mix for a further 5 minutes
- You can either keep churning until you reach the desired consistency to serve straight from the ice cream maker or pop it in the freezer until you need it - I always serve mine from the freezer
- From the freezer, when you come to serve it, leave it out for around 5 minutes to soften slightly before scooping
Melting Chocolate Puddings
Makes 8 ramekins, from Donna Hay
- 1 TBSP MELTED BUTTER (to brush the insides of the ramekins)
- 200g DARK CHOCOLATE, CHOPPED
- 110G CASTER SUGAR
- 4 EGGS
- 4 EGG YOLKS
- 2 TSP VANILLA EXTRACT
- 75G PLAIN FLOUR, SIFTED
- Brush the ramekins with melted butter and pop in the fridge
- Place the chocolate and butter in a saucepan over a low heat until melted and smooth
- Set aside and allow to cook
- Put the eggs, egg yolks, sugar and vanilla in a freestanding mixer and mix for around 8-10 minutes until doubled in volume
- Drizzle the cooled chocolate down the side of the bowl into the mixture and then mix gently but thoroughly with a spatula until all the chocolate has been incorporated - it will all sink to the bottom of the bowl, so it's essential that you scrape the bottom and mix it all in
- Then sift the flour over the top and gently fold the flour into the mixture - don't over-mix it as it will toughen the mixture
- Divide it amongst the ramekins and then cover each one with some clingfilm
- Place them in the freezer for up to 1 month
- When you're ready to bake them, pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees (fan)
- Bake for around 16-18 minutes until the puddings have risen and are set on the surface - a lesser time will create a molten centre and more time for a more set consistency
- Serve straight from the oven with a lovely helping of ice cream on the side :)
So this has been a busy week of baking and not much time to blog post so I am definitely playing catch-up - and we’re only half-way through January! I don’t often blog about my celebration cakes but I had lots of fun with different techniques for this cake so I thought I would share some of the elements that went into making it.
This was made for the husband of a dear friend and I usually make cakes covered in fondant for them. But this time we decided to go for something a bit different and this chocolate ganache drip cake was born. I made a 7 inch Chocolate Truffle Torte, split it into 3 layers and then filled and covered it with Chocolate Ganache Buttercream before adding a Chocolate Ganache drip. This is not for the chocolate faint-hearted as within its celebratory exterior, 725g dark chocolate lurks within – but I’m a firm believer that birthday cake calories definitely don’t count ;-)
Katherine Sabbath is the queen of these drip cakes with an array of fabulous colours. There is a great blog post of Katherine’s tips for styling these drip cakes from Delish here including some mini video footage that I love referring to when making these cakes.
So when you come to decorate the cake, you can use whatever comes to hand. Maracons, chocolate bark, sweeties and chocolates you have in the house, pretzels – the list goes on. As this was a special birthday cake, I wanted to make three decorations that were in keeping with the brown and gold theme. Sugar Glass, Meringue Bark and Honeycomb.
The glass is made from sugar and cocoa nibs. It’s very easy to make with just these two ingredients.
- 200G CASTER SUGAR
- 2 TBSP COCOA NIBS (or any other toppings you think would look good in the glass)
- Melt 200g caster sugar in a saucepan over a low heat
- By the time all this sugar has melted, it should have turned a lovely caramel colour and be time to take it off the stove
- Poured this on a baking tray lined with silpat and spread it out with a spatula - this is the time to create swirly edges that will be really interesting when you come to break it into shards
- Pop it in the fridge and let it set
- Once set, break it into different shaped shards
Note: once set and out of the fridge, it can go a bit sticky in room temperature so break it up straight from the fridge and store it covered and in a cool place.
Crunchies remain one of my favourite chocolate bars - and I was so excited the first time I made honeycomb. I've had my share of misses now with the temperature of honeycomb (making delicious toffee in the process!) so now I always use a thermometer and don't chance getting the state of readiness wrong by the colour alone.
I usually make a block of honeycomb and then break it up and coat it with chocolate. This time I wanted to see if I could made shaped honeycomb sweets by pouring it into molds. Due to the speed of the stage when the bicarb is added and then getting it into the tin, I had time to take 6 teaspoons of the honeycomb and get them into the molds. By the time I got the remaining mix into the bigger tin, it was deflated. It still tasted good when it was set but had lost its volume. I wasn't too concerned about this as I wanted to blitz the honeycomb to make a fine crumb that could be sprinkled across the cake.
- 200G CASTER SUGAR
- 100G GOLDEN SYRUP
- 2 TSP BICARBONATE OF SODA
- Grease the tin and line it with baking parchment
- Heat the caster sugar and golden syrup over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved (around 10 minutes) - it can be stirred at this stage but no stirring as soon as the sugar has dissolved!
- Pop in a candy thermometer and heat the sugar to 160 degrees celcius
- When the temperature's reached , remove it from the heat and quickly stir in the bicarb until it's fully mixed in
- At this stage, I scooped out 6 teaspoons of the honeycomb and put them into a silicone candy mold (each cavity had 1 teaspoon) - if you're just making one block, then pour it all into the prepared baking tin
- Leave to set at room temperature
- Once set, this can be broken up into pieces
- To cover with chocolate, melt the chocolate in the microwave, removing it when the chocolate is almost but not quite melted and then stir until melted completely
- Dip the honeycomb pieces into the honeycomb or fully immerse them using a fork and then leave to set on a piece of baking parchment
- To make the honeycomb dust to sprinkle on the top of the cake, take some honeycomb (without chocolate) and blitz it in the food processor until you reach your desired level of consistency
from the Meringue Girls Everything Sweet
I love meringue. My very favourite treat is macarons but I love how versatile meringue is in creating edible prettiness. I saw this in the Meringue Girls Everything Sweet and wanted to try Meringue Bark rather than Chocolate Bark. It’s the same recipe as their kisses, just treated a little differently.
- 150G CASTER SUGAR
- 75G EGG WHITES (I use Two Chicks)
- DECORATION (these can be customised to your favourite sweeties and toppings)
- For example, Cocoa Powder, Pearl Balls, Silver Nonpareils, Chocolate Covered Popping Candy, Melted Dark Chocolate
- Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees (fan)
- Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper and spread out the sugar evening across it
- Bake for 7 minutes in the oven
- In the meantime, whisk the egg whites in a standalone mixer, slowly at first and then increasing the speed – you want the egg whites to reach stiff peak at the same time as the sugar’s 7 minutes in the oven is up
- Put the mixer on full speed and add the hot sugar a spoonful at a time, allowing each spoonful to be fully incorporated and return to stiff peak before adding the next one
- When all the sugar has been added, mix for at least 5 minutes until you can rub a little of the meringue between your thumb and forefinger and it no longer feels grainy
- Turn the oven down to 100 degrees (fan)
- If you’re making meringue kisses, put your mixture into a piping bag and pipe rounds onto a lined baking tray, pulling up at the end to create a little peak
- These should take around 40 minutes in the oven and are ready when the meringue can be removed cleanly from the baking paper
- If you’re making meringue bark, spread the meringue out over a lined baking tray until it’s 0.5cm deep.
- Add any decorations you like right now – I used a sprinkling of cocoa powder, pearl balls, silver nonpareils and chocolate covered popping candy
- Bake for 1 hour until the meringue bark can be lifted cleanly from the baking tray
- When it’s cool, drizzle melted dark chocolate across the bark
- When the chocolate has set, break the meringue into shards of different sizes
Happy New Year! I hope you and your loved ones had an amazing festive period and aren't feeling too sad about pulling down your decorations and archiving the Christmas carols until next year :) We were very ready to welcome in the New Year and I am super excited about all the new adventures we'll enjoy! One year into blogging and here are my top photos from Instagram over the last year - I'm very proud of them and have lots of exciting goals for this year ;-)
Christmas always comes with lots of baking and I decided to take a break from blogging for the festive period as I always find it much trickier with my terrible twosome in tow! We're three weeks into our school holidays with only a couple of days left to go now. It was great to have some time to reflect and feed the soul - and also to think about some dietary changes to our family.
We already have psoriasis in the family which means staple foods like tomatoes and potatoes are struck off our shopping list as well as red meat and shellfish amongst other foods - and we also have to be mindful about how we combine food groups. We don't stick to it rigidly but there are definitely some foods we always have to avoid. A month or so ago, one of my sons was diagnosed as intolerant to dairy (cow and goat milk), egg white and nuts (almonds, pistachios and hazelnuts). The dietician and I laughed that at least he wasn’t gluten intolerant too and I promise you, I was thankful for small mercies!
We’re lucky that these foods don’t affect his gut and it’s (just?) eczema that we’re dealing with. Still in testing mode right now and we’re hopeful this is just a phase that will pass, especially since his favourite foods are milk, cheese, eggs and macarons! We’re not going to cut dairy and eggs out completely but obviously reduce and manage them and look for other options. We’ve immediately switched to soya milk and there’s no egg on toast in any form, but we’re allowing a little of these in baked goods. We’re also teaching him about making choices about how he eats. Time will tell.
So I wanted my first blog post of the year to be dedicated to him as he's been such a trooper. He's never grumbled or groaned and has embraced this new phase with gusto. I spent some time last year investigating vegan baking and looking at how I could replace ingredients that I traditionally used in baking, although at that time it was more out of interest than any kind of necessity. One of my favourite recipes was this Chocolate Cupcake with Coconut Frosting. This is a lovely frosting but its limitations are that I just can't get it to look as pretty as I’d like and if I use sprinkles or cocoa nibs as a topping, they discolour the icing after a little time. Just before Christmas I experimented with vegan butter and cream cheese in a frosting, but my son declared this was not a success taste-wise and the frosting was too soft and the peaks drooped after piping :(
I turned to a book that a friend gave me during my baking odyssey last year - Babycakes. I baked these Raspberry Scones from it which were delicious but I couldn’t easily find ingredients in other recipes and it was relegated to the bookshelf for a later date. Great to have this handy right now! One of the common ingredients they use in their cakes is apple sauce so I decided to replace the sugar that I had in my original recipe with some of this sauce and see if I could make a squidgier cake. And I also wanted to try some of their chocolate frosting.
The apple sauce can be bought (sugar free) but was very simple to make. I used two Granny Smith and two Pink Lady apples, peeled and cored and chopped into 1cm pieces. These were mixed with lemon juice, cinnamon and agave nectar (check out the free from section of supermarkets) and then roasted on a tray for 35 minutes. Once they have been roasted and cooled, they need to be blitzed to a smooth puree with hot water and more agave nectar and immediately refrigerated for up to one week in an airtight container. This made double the amount I used in the cupcakes. Very simple and amazingly sweet with the agave nectar.
I then made the frosting as it needs to be refrigerated for at least six hours (it can be kept for up to a month in an airtight container). This is also simple to make but does require dry soy milk powder which I couldn’t find locally in any health food stores and ordered from Ebay (I haven’t experimented with leaving this out). All the ingredients bar the coconut oil and lemon juice are blitzed in the food processor and then the oil and lemon juice are added slowly with the motor running. I think my lemon juice might have been too cold as the frosting did start to solidify as I added the final ingredients and became very lumpy and not very attractive! So I microwaved it in short bursts until the lumps had melted and then stirred it until it was smooth. Then covered it with clingfilm and popped it in the fridge.
I have spent the last few days working on this frosting as it still turned out lumpier than I expected so the final product looked smooth but when you dipped into it, it looked very granular. I did re-melt it and then refrigerate it again which worked. The recipe also says that if it's too soft when removed from the fridge, you can add liquid coconut oil into it - the oil will start to solidify when it hits the chilled frosting and go stiffer. BUT - given my experience, you would need to take care that the coconut oil doesn't solidify into little lumps again.
Finally I decided to remove the sugar from my previous Chocolate Cupcakes and in their place add agave syrup and the roasted apples. You can play around with the sweetness of these two so you can make it perfect for you, but this definitely made a softer crumb and squidgier cupcake. The cupcakes are simple to make - mix the dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately and then add them together, mixing thoroughly. I ran out of rice flour when I was making them so used a mixture of rice flour and gluten-free plain flour. When baked, the cupcakes need to be completely cool before adding the frosting as it could melt the coconut oil within - and once they've been frosted I found they held up well as long as kept cool but they stayed okay in the kitchen and did not need to be refrigerated. The frosting piped very easily but when holding the piping bag, I needed to hold it near the top as the warmth from my hand started to slightly melt the frosting so the first ones piped had better definition than the last ones.
These turned out brilliantly. The pro's of this frosting are that you can get a peak and look of traditional buttercream which is the one ambition I've had with making vegan frosting. The cupcakes with the apple sauce made a much lighter cake crumb and I definitely think this addition is worthwhile. However you really need to like the coconut flavour as it's predominant in the frosting (fortunately we do!) Also, I noticed that after some time, the sprinkles started to melt slightly into the frosting so if you do want to use them, I'd suggest sprinkling just before serving.
I am absolutely thrilled to start the new year off with such a bake that works for my entire family. Free from baking was definitely not my comfort zone a year ago but a girl's gotta move with the times.
Next stop - vegan vanilla frosting :)
Home-Made Apple Sauce Ingredients (can be refrigerated for up to a week, from Babycakes)
- 2 GRANNY SMITH APPLES
- 2 PINK LADY APPLES
- 30ML LEMON JUICE
- 2TSP CINNAMON
- 80G AGAVE NECTAR (for pre-roasting)
- 40G AGAVE NECTAR (for blitzing in the food processor)
- 80ML HOT WATER
Home-Made Apple Sauce Method
- Pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees (fan)
- Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper
- Peel, core and chop the apples into 1cm pieces
- Mix the apples with the lemon juice, cinnamon and 80G agave nectar in a bowl
- Spread them out over the lined baking tray
- Bake for 35 mins, rotating the tray 180 degrees after 20 mins
- Allow to cool
- Blitz in the food processor with 40G agave nectar and the hot water
- Place in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to a week
Chocolate Frosting Ingredients (enough for 24 cupcakes, from Babycakes)
- 360ML SOY MILK
- 70G SOY MILK POWDER
- 30G COCOA POWDER
- 60ML AGAVE NECTAR
- 1TBSP VANILLA EXTRACT
- 240ML COCONUT OIL
- 2TBSP LEMON JUICE
Chocolate Frosting Method
- In a food processor, blend the soy milk, milk powder, cocoa powder, agave nectar and vanilla extract for 2 mins
- Add slowly the coconut oil and lemon juice, alternating them
- Extra step: if you mixture goes lumpy, then microwave it for short bursts until the lumps melt (it’s just the coconut oil solidifying)
- Mix until smooth and then pop it into an airtight container
- Refrigerate for at least 6 hours and keep for up to a month
Chocolate Cupcakes Ingredients (makes 24 cupcakes)
- 250G RICE FLOUR
- 1 TSP XANTHUM GUM
- 1½ TSP BAKING SODA
- 1 TSP SALT
- 270G SUGAR
- 60G COCOA POWDER
- 320G SOYA MILK AT ROOM TEMPERATURE
- 150G MELTED COCONUT OIL AT ROOM TEMPERATURE
- 2½ TBSP APPLE CIDER VINEGAR
- 2½ TSP VANILLA EXTRACT
- 290G AGAVE SYRUP
- 125G HOME-MADE APPLE SAUCE (see above for recipe)
Chocolate Cupcakes Method
- Heat the oven to 170 degrees and line 2 cupcake trays with cupcake papers. Melt the coconut oil and put to one side to cool down. Ensure that the soya milk is out of the fridge and at room temperature.
- In one bowl, mix together the dry ingredients: the rice flour, xanthum gum, baking soda, salt, sugar and cocoa powder and mix well. Then in another bowl, mix together the wet ingredients: the soya milk, coconut oil, vinegar, vanilla, agave syrup and apple sauce. If you put the milk and coconut in first and the milk is not at room temperature, the coconut oil will start to solidify. This can be rescued by warming gently in the microwave with short 15 second bursts until the coconut oil re-melts.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix by hand with a wooden spoon.
- Fill each of the 24 cupcake papers with around 1/3 cup of batter and then bake for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
- Remove the cupcakes from the tin and leave to cool. It's important that they're completely cool before you frost them otherwise the frosting will start to melt.
- Keep the frosting in the fridge until you're ready to use it - I filled up my baking bag in advance and kept it in the fridge as the warmth from your hands will start to melt the frosting
- Hold the piping bag near the opening at the top as you pipe, keeping your hand as far away from the nozzle as possible to keep it from melting
- Once piped, you don't need to refrigerate the cupcakes but the frosting will start to melt and take on a sheen if the room is too warm
- Add sprinkles just before serving :)
I can't believe how quickly the weeks are flying towards Christmas now. It seemed like everyone was digging out their Christmas spirit so early this year and then in the midst of parties, carol concerts and the seemingly neverending activities at school over the festive period, suddenly the boys are on holiday for four weeks and we're counting down to the big day.
I had a list as long as my arm of things I was going to bake this Christmas. But then, a couple of weeks ago, we had dairy, nut and egg allergies diagnosed in the family. They're not life threatening but they kind of scuppered my plans. And although I know that I will be still be baking with dairy, eggs and nuts in the future, we're just being a little more considered and restrained right now whilst we make our lifestyle choices.
But being Christmas time, we couldn't let it go by without out little gingerbread family. Whilst these Chocolate Gingerbread Men do contain butter, the rest of the ingredients are on our okay list and we made them pretty small (with a 5cm cutter) but just big enough to decorate.
The dough is really easy to make. After the butter is creamed in a mixer, all the rest of the ingredients are added in one go and combined. This is a soft dough and needs refrigerating so once I'd made and refrigerated it, I then cut out my little army and then popped them back in the fridge until I was ready to bake them the next day. To me, biscuits baked fresh are just the best when you have friends coming to visit.
You can use any cutters you like. I have a great set from Ikea with 3D stars, Christmas tree and reindeer which are lots of fun but I gave them to some adult friends to decorate before taking any photos and their creations disappeared home with their new friends! I bought some coloured icing pens and the kids just loved decorating them. Here is our little family :)
For me, Christmas just isn't the same without gingerbread and gingerbread people are such a fun way to celebrate with friends. I haven't met a child yet (and now it seems an adult too!) that doesn't love to become an artist and bring out their inner child.
Naked or decorated, these gingerbread men are just delicious. Just the right amount of chocolate throughout and then a lovely, but not overly intense, taste of ginger. I think this makes them perfect for kids but still completely moreish for adults.
And just right to enjoy with a mug of hot chocolate and marshmallows :)
Chocolate Gingerbread Men (makes around 20 x 5cm shapes)
- 125G UNSALTED BUTTER, SOFTENED
- 100G LIGHT BROWN SUGAR
- 230G GOLDEN SYRUP
- 375G PLAIN FLOUR, SIFTED
- 1 TSP BAKING SODA, SIFTED
- 25G COCOA, SIFTED
- 2 TSP GROUND GINGER
- 1 TSP PUMPKIN SPICE (you can use allspice here but I'd start with 1/2 tsp and then add to taste)
- COLOURED ICING PENS (optional)
- Beat the butter and sugar in a mixer for at least 5 minutes until pale
- Add the golden syrup, flour, baking soda, cocoa and spices and beat on low speed until combined
- Place on a sheet of baking paper and then pop another sheet on top
- Roll out the dough until around 1/2 cm thick
- Refrigerate for at least one hour so the dough has time to firm up
- Remove from the fridge and cut out your shapes - the dough will soften and get sticky quite quickly so just pop it back into the fridge if needed to firm up for 5-10 minutes
- You can either bake your shapes now or refrigerate them again until ready
- Pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees
- Bake for 12 minutes for a snap to the biscuit (a couple of minutes less if you want them a little softer)
- When you remove them from the oven, the biscuits will be soft and very fragile so you need to leave them to cool down completely before handling them
- When they're cool, it's time to have some fun and decorate them - or eat them just as they are :)
So I wasn't going to post this. I was playing around with a cake recipe the other day and ended up making this. My boys were SO excited by it, they wouldn't share it with me and I managed to get only two photos before it got demolished. Obliterated. And they asked for more. Then I mentioned it to a friend and she said she needed the recipe for it!!! And it's so good, I thought you might need it too :)
I was originally playing around with Broma Bakery's 30 Minute Chocolate Cake For Two. This is a microwave mug production. I'm not overly fond of microwave mug puddings having first made them a few years ago and finding them a bit tough and spongy and to be honest losing a lot of love along the way. Then I found Broma Bakery's cake which is made in the microwave (the reason it needs 30 minutes is to cool it down so it can be frosted and shared with the love of your life) and I liked the ingredients which are faithful to a chocolate cake recipe, but slightly more involved than the usual microwave mug cakes.
The cake idea is made in heaven itself - but I got waylaid and was debating whether I really wanted to make it into a cake and use buttercream. And instead of baking it in 3 portions, I decided to make it in 2 and heat each one for a minute each.You may need to play around with the time as each microwave is different and mine tends to err on the side of a higher temperature. I turned it out into a dish and it had a gorgeous, oozy chocolate sauce. I couldn't help but throw an extra handful of chocolate chips on top for good measure. And some ice cream. And voilà! A stunning melting chocolate pudding that can be rustled up in 5 minutes from start to finish and tastes sublime.
The ONLY downside I would say is that the portion size is perhaps a little too big (but I'm being picky).
I am more than happy to keep practicing with this one until it's perfected - and no doubt add a few inches to my waistline in the process!
If you're craving something sweet, I really would try this it :)
Five Minute Melting Chocolate Puddings Makes 2 (adapted from Broma Bakery's 30 Minute Chocolate Cake For Two)
- 1/2 CUP (110G) CASTER SUGAR
- 7 TBSP (70G) PLAIN FLOUR
- 3 TBSP (30G) COCOA POWDER
- ¼ TSP BAKING POWDER
- ¼ TSP BICARBONATE OF SODA
- ¼ TSP SALT
- 1 EGG
- ¼ CUP MILK
- 2 TBSP VEGETABLE OIL
- ½ TSP VANILLA EXTRACT
- 2 TBSP WATER
- HANDFUL OF CHOCOLATE CHIPS (optional)
- Grease two large mugs
- Mix all the ingredients in a bowl until combined
- Divide the mixture between the two mugs
- Bake the first one for 1 minute in the microwave - the sponge will rise up above the top of the mug but sink slightly on removal from the microwave
- Loosen the sponge slightly with a knife and turn out onto a plate
- Throw a few chocolate chips on the top so they melt slightly
- Repeat with the other pudding
- Serve with a lovely dollop of ice cream - and enjoy :)
It's Friday. It's half term. It couldn't have come sooner.
What better way to celebrate a week off together than with Chocolate Doughnuts. The boys had a playdate so I thought I'd make these doughnuts that I've had my eye on for a while. I made Pumpkin Doughnuts not long ago and both these and the chocolate ones are baked rather than deep fried (I will get to deep frying doughnuts at some point but these seem just that little bit healthier).
This recipe is adapted from one by Manuela Kjeilen who has the most fabulous blog called Passion 4 Baking. Think pink. Think retro kitchens. Think complete inspiration. I've looked through most of her recipes and there are so many things I'd love to make, but one bake that stuck in my mind was her doughnuts.
One of the main ingredients is Jell-o Instant Pudding Powder which is an American product that I dug out in the supermarket when I was in Canada over the summer. I adapted Manuela's Delicious Baked Vanilla Donuts recipe to make a chocolate version so I used the Chocolate Jell-o Pudding Powder in mine. It's fair to say that my baked doughnuts don't look that chocolatey and flavour-wise weren't that chocolatey either so after going to great lengths to get this pudding mix, I think cocoa powder would work well next time. But I'm pretty happy with the results from this first batch.
The doughnuts have yeast in them and their texture is very bread-like. They're left to prove twice which means they need a little longer to make but this really helps give them their fluffy texture. The first batch I made looked like Manuela's but I found that after they'd proved and been in the oven, they expanded so much that they almost joined together and the hole all but vanished. So the ones on the right below were my second batch which don't look as pretty pre-baking, but give the customary hole in the middle and much better post-baking look.
I would say that the doughnuts themselves don't have a huge amount of flavour (which I think would be enhanced by the addition of cocoa powder) so the toppings are really important and I decided to use a rich dark ganache and a helping of sprinkles. I love the flavour of the really rich chocolate ganache and the crunchy little non-appareils.
They take a little more time because of the proving but these are a fun little bake.
And if you're looking for ways to allay half term boredness, then kids would love to be chief decorators :)
Chocolate Doughnuts with Chocolate Ganache Makes 20 (adapted from Passion 4 Baking's Delicious Baked Vanilla Donuts)
Chocolate Doughnut Ingredients
- 30G BUTTER, MELTED
- 350ML WARM MILK
- 7G FAST ACTION BREAD YEAST
- 150G CASTER SUGAR
- 1 PACKET JELL-O CHOCOLATE INSTANT PUDDING POWDER
- PINCH OF SALT
- 2 EGGS
- 625G PLAIN FLOUR
- 100g WHIPPING CREAM
- 100G DARK CHOCOLATE, CHOPPED
- Firstly, melt the butter and put aside
- Heat the milk so it's warm but not hot and place in a mixing bowl
- Sprinkle the yeast over the top
- Add the melted butter and mix together
- Add the sugar, instant pudding powder, salt and flour
- Mix these ingredients together with a dough hook until the ingredients are combined
- Add the flour and continue to mix with the dough hook until smooth and elastic (around 8-10 minutes)
- Turn the dough into a lightly greased bowl, cover and leave to double in size for around 1 hour
- Lightly flour a work surface and then roll out the dough until it's around 1 cm thick
- I used the Wilton Mini Doughnut Pan so found that a 6cm cutter and 3.5cm piping nozzle were the right sizes for this
- Put these doughnuts into the pan, cover with a clean cloth and leave for an hour
- Preheat the oven to 170 degrees (fan)
- Bake the doughnuts for around 8-10 mins until golden brown on the outside
- When ready, turn out the doughnuts onto a cooling rack
- Make the ganache by heating the cream until it's just boiling and then pour over the chocolate slowly
- Leave for few minutes and then stir together until all the chocolate lumps have disappeared
- Hold one of the doughnuts upside down and swirl it in a circular motion in the chocolate until you have an even coating on the top (use a spoon to help spread this if needed)
- Top with your favourite sprinkles :)
We're back to school! Great to have the boys back with their friends but our house has felt awfully empty these last few days. So plenty of time to reminisce about our wonderful holidays and favourite moments. The boys absolutely loved our time in Canada back in July and if you ask them their favourite part, it would be when daddy insisted we make an impromptu camping expedition into the Algonquin National Park.
Cue an overnight stay in the wild (with bears, loons, chipmunks and rutting moose!) It took us around three hours to paddle to our lake and we pitched our tent on a little deserted island, a little different to camping in the UK where you're in a field surrounded by tons of other people - you definitely feel out in the wilds. We'd been warned that a wild bear had been into one of the camps the previous night and stolen all the food and guess which was the only campsite left on the lake? You guessed right! I spent the whole night listening for the padding of bears' paws outside our tent and hubby and I had a rather comical time balancing me on his shoulders whilst I tried to suspend all of our food and cooking equipment in a giant plastic barrel six feet in between two trees out of the bears' reach. We collected our own firewood, started a fire for warmth and cooked dinner over the open flame. I rustled up a mean chicken and rice stew and then had my first attempt at making S'mores. I don't think I got it quite right, but I swear they were the best dessert - although I think that was a lot to do with being in the wild and cooking them over an open fire! Yum :)
I wanted to recreate a taste of the summer to reward the boys for their return to school. I returned from Canada with Graham's crackers and found some Hershey's chocolate to go with them. When I was looking for a S'mores creation, I found this lovely recipe for S'mores Cupcakes from Pastry Affair. I decided to make just 8 cupcakes rather than the 24 in the original recipe so the quantities below are for just 8 and can be factored up to make as many as you like. What I love about these cupcakes is the Graham's cracker crust at the base of the chocolate cake which added not only a really delicious flavour, but also a little crunch. These are baked for 5 mins in the oven before adding the cupcake batter and they really crisp up in this time. Kristen suggests using whichever chocolate cupcake recipe we like at this point so I used my regular recipe here.
Then she adds a chocolate glaze which is where my Hershey bars came in handy and I like to think added an authentic S'mores touch to the little cupcakes! Finally a topping of marshmallow which is then browned under a blowtorch. The marshmallow didn't whip up quite as much as I'd like so I'd probably play around with the quantities next time but although it might look a little flatter than I'd like, it definitely tasted delicious astride these little cupcakes.
These cupcakes aren't difficult to make, they just have a couple of added stages to regular buttercream cupcakes with the crumb base and chocolate glaze. And they are delicious! The boys both loved them and scoffed them within minutes. The added chocolate glaze and marshmallow topping make a slightly more decadent treat but one well worth indulging :)
The only thing that would have make these better would have been eating them back on our little island. I mean, who could resist a view like this and something so delicious to eat?
S'mores Cupcakes Makes 8 cupcakes (recipe idea from Pastry Affair)
Graham Cracker Crust Ingredients
- 3 GRAHAM CRACKER (makes around 1 cup and the crumbs are crushed in a plastic bag with a rolling pin)
- 2 TBSP CASTER SUGAR
- 30G BUTTER, MELTED
Chocolate Cupcakes Ingredients
- 75G DARK CHOCOLATE - MIN 70% COCOA SOLIDS (broken down into pieces)
- 45G BUTTER, SOFTENED
- 90G SOFT BROWN SUGAR
- 1 LARGE EGG, SEPARATED
- 95G SIFTED PLAIN FLOUR
- 1/3 TSP BAKING POWDER
- 1/3 TSP BICARBONATE OF SODA
- PINCH OF SALT
- 125ML SEMI-SKIMMED MILK AT ROOM TEMP
- 1/2 TSP VANILLA EXTRACT
Chocolate Glaze Ingredients
- 55G DARK CHOCOLATE (I used Hershey's here for an authentic S'mores taste!)
- 30G BUTTER
- 1/2 TSP GLUCOSE
- 80G LIQUID EGG WHITES
- 115G CASTER SUGAR
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees (fan) and line a cupcake tin with 8 cupcake cases
- Mix together the Graham Cracker Crust ingredients and then put a tablespoon into the bottom of each cupcake case
- Using a glass, squash the crumbs gently until they form a solid base
- Bake for 5 mins
- Allow to cool for 10 mins before adding the cupcake batter
- Turn down the oven to 170 degrees (fan)
- To make the Chocolate Cupcake batter, firstly melt the chocolate in the microwave taking care not to burn your chocolate - I remove mine from the microwave when there are still a few smaller lumps and then stir it until it's all fully melted
- Put the chocolate to one side to cool a little
- Cream together the butter and sugar for around 5 minutes until light and smooth
- Beat the egg yolks in a separate bowl and then add them slowly to the butter mixture with the mixer on a medium speed
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl and ensure the mixture is fully mixed
- Add the melted chocolate and ensure this is fully mixed in, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl
- Combine the flour, salt, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder in a separate bowl
- Add the milk to a jug (must be at room temperature else if it's really cold, when it's added to the melted chocolate it tends to solidify some of the chocolate) and mix in the vanilla extract
- Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the mixer and ensure it's fully incorporated and then add 1/3 milk mixture and ensure that is fully incorporated
- Do this twice more until all the flour and milk are mixed in
- Again, scrape down the sides to ensure that the mixture is all fully incorporated
- Whisk the egg whites in a separate bowl until they're whipped to soft peak
- Fold in the egg whites to the cake batter with a metal spoon ensuring that you don't knock the air out of the mixture
- Spoon the batter into the cupcakes cases until they're 2/3 full
- Bake for around 20 mins and ensure that a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean
- Leave the cupcakes in the tin for 10 mins before removing them and cooling them on a rack
- To make the Chocolate Glaze, mix all the ingredients for this in a saucepan over a medium heat until they're combined
- Leave to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes stirring from time to time
- When this is a spreadable consistency, coat the top of each cupcake with the glaze
- To make the Marshmallow Topping, mix the egg whites and sugar and warm in the microwave until they're at body temperature (around 37 degrees celcius)
- Transfer to a mixer and mix for around 5 to 10 minutes until they're glossy and whisked to stiff peaks
- Using a piping bag, add a swirl of meringue topping to each cupcake
- Using a kitchen torch, lightly brown the marshmallow topping (or you can put this under the grill - in either case, watch them very carefully as they brown VERY quickly!)
- Enjoy :)
I really wanted to make brioche. It's one of my favourite breads. But I'm always a little nervous of bread. Making it, that is. I've faced my inner demons and made this and this but I still take a deep breath every time I embark on a new bread project. Still, I decided I wanted to make brioche and found this delicious Chocolate & Hazelnut Pull-Apart Brioche from Butter and Brioche. Thalia photographs her bakes perfectly and has really detailed instructions on how to make everything so I just love following her blog.
The dough recipe is pretty straightforward. Making the initial dough is a 2 step process and then the butter is added giving it the richness you'd expect from brioche. I used my standalone mixer and dough hook to get me to the stage when I was ready to roll out. The brioche dough looked as I expected it to but I found it really sticky when I was to roll it out. Thalia suggests that the work surface should be lightly floured but I found that I needed much more flour (probably too much) to be able to keep the dough moving. When the dough is shaped into a rectangle, it is then spread with Nutella (yum) and sprinkled with hazelnuts. The original recipe adds extra chocolate chips here which I didn't use, but I think it would work with and without.
The cutting of the dough requires some precision but is at the same time fairly forgiving. You cut the rectangle into long strips and place them on top of each other. Then cut this thin tower into equal squares and stack them in the tin. I had a little bit left over which I squeezed down the side and as it's tear and share bread, it just merges into the one loaf (why I say it's pretty forgiving). Then we leave this to prove and then bake it in the oven. Now the original recipe says that it will increase in volume during proving until it's above the top of the tin. Mine didn't rise that much but I decided that I would still put it in the oven after the 1½ hours so mine looks a little flatter than Thalia's lovely loaf.
There are other brioche recipes I'd like to try but this was a great recipe to start with. I love naked brioche with jam for breakfast but the Nutella adds an extra richness. I'm not a huge fan of the chocolate spread but I think it works really well here. I might, in fact, reduce the amount of hazelnuts and add in the chocolate chips next time as well as the Nutella.
I love tear and share bread. It's really convivial to have sharing platters of food and long lunches or dinners with good friends. I haven't had a sharing sweet bread before and this is a wonderfully yummy one for my initiation.
This would be a lovely (naughty) addition to the breakfast table but I would love to share this for brunch with family and friends. Can't wait to make this again :)
Chocolate and Hazelnut Brioche (from Butter and Brioche)
- 240G PLAIN FLOUR
- 25G CASTER SUGAR
- 5G SALT
- 7G INSTANT YEAST
- 70ML MILK
- 2 EGGS + 1 EGG YOLK (these need to be at room temperature)
- 125G BUTTER, CUBED (this needs to be at room temperature)
- 160G (½ CUP) NUTELLA
- 75G CHOPPED HAZELNUTS
- 1 EGG YOLK WHISKED WITH 2 TBSP MILK
- Optional: 90G DARK CHOCOLATE CHIPS
- Place the flour, salt, sugar and yeast in a standalone mixer with a dough hook
- Combine the ingredients on a slow speed
- Add the milk and eggs and mix on slow for 2 minutes
- Increase the speed to medium and mix for 6-8 minutes until the dough is soft and smooth and elastic
- Add the cubed butter piece by piece and mix until it's all fully incorporated in the dough which should take around 5 minutes
- Make sure that the butter is properly distributed throughout the dough, scraping down the sides of the bowl to ensure it's all mixed together well
- On a lightly floured surface, place the dough and roll into a rectangle, roughly 30cm by 40cm (you need to be able to move the dough around so ensure it's not sticking to the surface by dusting the surface with more flour if necessary)
- Spread the Nutella across the dough and then sprinkle the hazelnuts across the surface - this is where you would add the optional chocolate chips from the Ingredients list
- Cut the dough into 6 long strips (lengthwise) and then place them on top of each other so you have a long, tall stack
- Cut the stack into 6 even squares
- Place the squares side by side in the baking tin, filling it 2/3 full
- Brush the surface of the loaf with the egg yolk mixed with milk
- Leave it to rise in a warm area for 1½ hours until the dough has puffed up and risen above the top of the tin and there should be a "skin" when touched lightly
- Once risen, pre-heat the oven to 180C degrees and bake for 20 to 30 minutes (mine took around 25 mins) but you want a skewer inserted in the middle to come out clean (if during baking, it looks like it's browning too quickly, you can cover the top with foil)
- When it's cooked and out of the oven, leave for 5 mins in the tin and then turn it out onto a rack to cook
- Enjoy :)