Posts Tagged With: 2013

Hot Chocolate Biscuits

Originally posted 09/12/2013

My original attempt at hot chocolate biscuits were a sub-par batch of dry, cakey chocolate cookies from a recipe I found online so I went back to the drawing board and invented my own version which keeps the hot chocolate powder, generous chocolate chunks and gooey marshmallow but uses icing sugar in place of caster sugar and plain flour instead of self-raising. This creates a more even and less puffed-up biscuit without making them hard and brittle.

The combination of chunky milk chocolate pieces and chewy marshmallow inside a rich, dark cocoa biscuit makes for a delicious taste and texture. For further hot chocolatey decadence, sandwich two biscuits together with Marshmallow Fluff – scrumptious!

Note: the large chocolate chunks in these cookies means the dough will be fairly thick and slightly uneven when rolled out and the final result will be a little bumpy with oozy marshmallow patches, so I’d advise using a simple cutter rather than an intricately shaped one for this recipe.


INGREDIENTS – makes approx. 20 biscuits depending on size of cutter

  • 225g/8 oz plain flour
  • 30g/1 oz cocoa
  • 30g/1 oz hot chocolate powder
  • 1 tsp Horlicks (or other malt drink powder)
  • 30g/1 oz icing sugar
  • 170g/6 oz margarine/butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 115g/4 oz milk chocolate chips or cut-up chunks
  • Handful of marshmallows snipped into small bits
  • 0.5 tbsp instant ground coffee dissolved in approx. 0.5 tbsp boiling water

METHOD

  1. Boil the kettle and pour about half a tbsp water over half a tbsp instant ground coffee and set aside.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C (or 160 fan) and line two large flat baking trays with parchment paper.
  3. Whisk the margarine/butter and icing sugar together until combined.
  4. Add the flour, cocoa, hot chocolate powder, Horlicks, chocolate chunks and bits of marshmallow and mix briefly.
  5. Add the vanilla extract and prepared coffee then use your hands to squash the mixture together to form a ball of dough. If it’s too sticky, add a bit more flour.
  6. Wrap the dough in clingfilm or a freezer bag and chill in the fridge for about 15-20 minutes.
  7. Place the ball of dough onto a large clean sheet of baking parchment then place another sheet on top and roll out with a rolling pin until about 1.5cm thick, depending on the size of the chocolate pieces (alternatively, you could roll the dough out on a floured surface but this may spoil the colour of the biscuits a bit).
  8. Cut out as many biscuits as possible using your cutter of choice (I used a flower shape) and place onto a the baking trays then squish the offcuts of dough together, re-roll and repeat the process until all the dough is used up.
  9. Pop in the oven and bake for about 8-10 minutes or until the bottoms of the biscuits start to colour slightly then transfer onto a wire rack. This is the part where I’d normally say leave to cool but don’t leave them too long as they’re delicious while still warm from the oven – just beware of molten marshmallow!
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Categories: Biscuits/Cookies, Chocolate | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Red Velvet Star Biscuits

Originally posted 08/12/2013

I haven’t updated my little blog in a while due to being busy but now we’ve officially entered the most wonderful time of the year for cooking I’ve been squeezing in lots of festive baking.

These decadent biccies have got to be one of my favourite cookie recipes and more than make up for my first (and so far only) attempt at red velvet cake being a disaster. They contain quite a large amount of red gel colouring and icing sugar, plus buttermilk and egg, so they’re not the cheapest cookies to make but they look and taste fantastic and are a perfect luxurious treat for Christmas, Valentine’s Day or any other special occasion, or as a gift. I wish I’d taken photo which showed their beautiful dark red colour better as it makes the cookies look very distinctive even without decoration, although I added Dr Oetker Gold Shimmer Spray for an extra festive sparkly sheen. These would also be delicious sandwiched together with some cream cheese frosting for an even more authentic red velvet experience!

If, like me, you don’t want to buy buttermilk (it’s not very widely available here in the UK), I found a great tip online showing you how to make your own by simply adding a dash of white wine vinegar or lemon juice to milk and leaving it to curdle for a few minutes. Et voila – bona fide red velvety goodness in biscuit form!

This recipe is an adapted version of an American one I found here: http://www.sweetsugarbelle.com/2012/02/red-velvet-roll-outs-recipe/

You can’t see from this photo but they’re the most wonderful deep red colour inside!

INGREDIENTS – makes approx. 40 biscuits depending on size of cutter

  • 115g/4 oz butter/margarine
  • 170g/6 oz icing sugar
  • 255g/9 oz plain flour
  • Half a beaten egg
  • 55g/2 oz cocoa
  • 3 tsp buttermilk (or 3 tsp milk + 1 tsp white wine vinegar or lemon juice)
  • 1.5 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 0.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1.5 tbsp red gel food colouring (NOT the liquid kind as this won’t work!)
  • Dr Oetker Gold Shimmer Spray, to finish (optional)

METHOD

  1. If making buttermilk as outlined above, pour the white wine vinegar or lemon juice into the milk and set aside.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C (or 160 fan) and line two large flat baking trays with parchment paper.
  3. Whisk the butter/margarine and icing sugar until combined.
  4. Stir in the egg, vanilla extract and buttermilk, then add the flour, cocoa and baking powder and mix briefly.
  5. Add the gel food colouring a teaspoon at a time and mix until the mixture turns a deep blood-like red shade (it will be dazzlingly vivid!) then squash together with your hands to form a ball of dough. If it’s too sticky, add some more flour.
  6. Wrap the dough in clingfilm or a freezer bag and chill in the fridge for about 15-20 minutes until fairly firm.
  7. Place the ball of dough on a large clean sheet of baking parchment then place another sheet over the top and roll out with a rolling pin until about 1cm thick.*
  8. Cut out as many biscuits as possible with your cookie cutter of choice (I used a star shape) and place onto the baking trays (they don’t spread out much when cooking so they can be placed fairly close together). Squish the offcuts of dough together and re-roll and repeat the process until all the dough is used up.
  9. Pop in the oven and bake for about 8 minutes or until the bottoms of the biscuits start to colour slightly then transfer onto a wire rack and leave to cool.
  10. If you want a gold sheen effect as in the photo, hold the Shimmer Spray can about 10cm away from the biscuits and spray each one, then leave to dry.

*You could just sprinkle flour onto the surface to prevent the rolling pin sticking but this ruins the bold colour of the dough when baking.

Categories: Biscuits/Cookies, Festive | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Custard Creams & Strawberry Milkshake Creams

Originally posted 20/10/2013

Although I try, as a rule I’m not one for aesthetic neatness and elegance when baking. Despite numerous attempts, my piping is never up to scratch and my cookies are always sloppy and uneven (in fact, this is the primary reason I have still not yet plucked up the courage to have a go at posh French macarons despite having bought a packet of ground almonds for this purpose over a month ago). But I impressed myself with these lovely little biscuits which were a bit of a labour of love. The secret of their prettiness is that the dough barely puffs up at all during baking which means the biscuits keep their beautiful even shape.

Although it took me a while to lovingly craft each button using a round scone cutter, a tiny espresso cup and a straw, these colourful treats certainly aren’t complicated to make. And they were certainly worth the extra time as they received an abundance of compliments on both taste and appearance – in fact, Edd Kimber himself (whose recipe I used for the custard creams) saw them on Twitter and said they were fantastic! Praise indeed 🙂

The pink strawberry milkshake creams were an original invention of mine – I simply followed the same recipe as I did for the custard creams but substituted the custard powder and vanilla extract for strawberry milkshake powder and strawberry extract respectively. The result was utterly delicious and I will definitely be making them again!

If you don’t have the time or patience to make buttons, just use your favourite cookie cutters like I did for the mini stars and hearts below. To make a Bourbon cream-esque variation, you could substitute the custard/strawberry milkshake powder for chocolate milkshake powder or cocoa.

The yellow custard creams were made using Edd Kimber’s fab recipe which can be found here – http://theboywhobakes.co.uk/2011/06/custard-creams/ – so I’m just going to post the recipe for my strawberry milkshake cream version.

Strawberry Milkshake Creams

INGREDIENTS – yield depends on the size and shape of cookie cutter used but the below quantities resulted in the number of pink biscuits seen in the photo above

For the biscuits:

  • 225g/8 oz plain flour
  • 50g/2 oz icing sugar
  • 50g/2 oz strawberry milkshake powder (I used Hello Kitty brand but any will do!)
  • 180g/6 oz margarine/butter
  • 1 tsp strawberry extract
  • Splash of red food colouring+ cookies cutters of your choice or a round cutter, an espresso cup & a plastic straw if you want to make buttons like in the photo

For the filling:

  • 100g/3.5 oz icing sugar
  • 25g/1 oz butter (unsalted if preferred)
  • 1.5 tbsp strawberry milkshake powder
  • Splash of milk
  • 0.5 tsp strawberry extract
  • Drop of red food colouring

METHOD

For the biscuits:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C (or 160 fan) and line two large rectangular baking trays with parchment paper.
  2. Place the flour, icing sugar and strawberry milkshake powder into a large mixing bowl then add the margarine/butter and strawberry extract.
  3. Rub the fat into the dry ingredients so that crumbs form and then squish together into a large ball of dough. If it’s too sticky, add a little more flour. If it’s too dry and crumbly, add a little milk.
  4. Add the red food colouring, a tiny splash at a time, and knead the dough in the bowl until it turns your desired shade of pink.
  5. Take the dough out of the bowl, wrap tightly in clingfilm and leave in the fridge to chill for about 20-30 minutes.
  6. Sprinkle flour over your work surface to prevent sticking then roll the dough out until it’s roughly 1cm in thickness (remember you’ll be sandwiching them together two at a time so you don’t want them too thick or they won’t be pleasant to eat unless you have an extremely massive gob!)
  7. Cut out as many circles as possible using the round cookie cutter and stamp each circle with the espresso cup, firmly enough that it makes a definite indent but not so hard that it cuts through the dough. Then use the end of a plastic straw to stamp out four tiny circles in the middle of each biscuit to make a button, transferring each one onto the baking trays as you go.
  8. Squish all the off-cuts together then re-roll the dough and repeat the process. If you’re lazy like me, cut out other small simple shapes such as hearts or stars once you’ve made 20 buttons.
  9. Pop in the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes until the bottoms have started to colour very slightly at the edges, then transfer onto a wire rack and leave to cool.

For the filling:

  1. Place the butter and strawberry extract into a bowl then add the icing sugar and strawberry milkshake powder gradually while stirring/whisking. Add a splash of milk and continue to stir/whisk until a smooth, spreadable mixture has formed.
  2. Add the red food colouring a tiny drop at a time and stir until the mixture turns your desired shade of pink (you’ll only need a very tiny bit).
  3. Spread a small blob of the icing onto the back of one of the pink biscuits using a palette knife then sandwich together with another biscuit of the same shape and repeat until they’ve all been paired up.

Edit: I also used Edd’s custard cream recipe to make these cute jammy heart biscuits – just make imprints in the dough with your thumb then fill with raspberry or strawberry jam 🙂

And I also used the button cutting technique on pink fondant icing to make cupcake toppers for my friend’s baby shower!

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Failsafe Brownies with Jack Daniel’s

Originally posted 01/09/2013

Oh em gee. Seriously…there are no words to describe how utterly delicious these decadent chewy chunks of chocolate heaven are! Just writing about them is making me crave one…

My previous attempts at brownies were pleasant enough but always seemed more like a moist chocolate cake and never turned out anything like bakery bought ones with their glorious gooey centres and thin top crusts. Then a friend from work sent me her recipe that used oil rather than butter and this, without a doubt, made all the difference in creating the perfect texture. Adding the Jack Daniel’s whiskey was my little twist and the end result is simply sublime and devastatingly addictive, although if you don’t want to add alcohol the brownies will still be delicious without it. Milk cooking chocolate gives a lovely fudgy flavour but dark chocolate also works well if you prefer.

Please don’t let the wrinkly, sunken appearance of the brownies when they come out of the oven put you off – I promise you the taste will be amazing!!

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INGREDIENTS – makes approx. 15

  • 200g/7 oz granulated/caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 85g/3 oz self-raising flour
  • 120ml/4 fl oz cooking oil
  • 150g/5 oz milk cooking chocolate
  • 4 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp Jack Daniel’s whiskey (optional)
  • 3/4 tbsp vanilla extract
  • Handful of white chocolate chips, to decorate (optional)

METHOD

  • Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C (or 160 fan) and line a rectangular baking tin with parchment paper.
  • Briefly whisk the sugar, eggs, oil and vanilla extract together in a large mixing bowl.
  • Chop the chocolate into small chunks and melt in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of hot water or place in the microwave and heat in blasts of about 1 minute until smooth, then pour into the mixing bowl.
  • Fold the flour, cocoa and Jack Daniel’s into the mixture and pour into the prepared tin.
  • Pop in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes until a cocktail stick inserted into the brownies comes out pretty much clean then leave to cool.
  • When cool, scatter over some white chocolate chips if you fancy, then cut the brownies into squares using a sharp knife and devour while moaning pleasurably. Easy peasy!
Categories: Chocolate, Traybakes | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Plimmsberry Cupcakes

Originally posted 28/07/2013

I’ve been on a bit of a baking hiatus recently due to the horrendously sweltering weather and so I’ve been indulging my cravings for homemade goodies by whipping up simple no-cook rocky road and cheesecake, but I realised I forgot to post the recipe for these lovely summery and quintessentially British cupcakes I made back when Wimbledon fever was abound here in the UK and I could still switch on the oven without melting.

The Pimms jam filling was an impulse invention of mine that turned out deliciously, but I don’t think I’ll be trying this technique for meringue icing again a hurry. Although it was light and tasty and significantly lower in fat than standard buttercream frosting, it was a bit of a fiddly faff-fest to make, and after being piped onto the cakes it shrunk within a few hours. Therefore, I strongly recommend that you don’t frost the cakes until just before you serve them! I also ended up with an obscene amount left over; the recipe I originally used said it was just enough for 12 cupcakes but I’ve reduced the quantities below to a (hopefully) a more accurate estimate, although obviously it depends how much of the icing you want to top each cake with. I think if I made these cupcakes again I’d perhaps top them with freshly whipped cream instead as it’d be less of a hassle but would go very nicely with the jammy centres.

I have to confess that the redcurrants out of the garden were far too sharp to be edible and were for decorative purposes only but I thought they made a rather spiffy finishing touch skewered on the wee cocktail sticks. Cheers!

INGREDIENTS – makes approx. 10-12

For the cakes:

  • 115g/4 oz self-raising flour
  • 115g/4 oz caster/granulated sugar
  • 115g/4 oz margarine/butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder

For the jammy ‘Plimmsberry’ filling:

  • 6 tsp (approx.) strawberry jam
  • 6 tsp (approx.) plum jam
  • 20 ml (approx.) Pimms

For the icing:

  • 1 or 2 egg whites (depending on how much icing you want to cover the cakes in)
  • 2 or 4 oz/55g or 115g caster/granulated sugar
  • 1/2 or 1 tsp vanilla extract

+ 12 cocktail sticks + 24 redcurrants (optional)

METHOD

For the cakes:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C (or 160 fan) and line a baking tray with 12 paper cases.
  2. Whisk the margarine/butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl until pale then whisk in the eggs.
  3. Fold in the flour, baking powder and vanilla extract until a batter of a soft dropping consistency has formed.
  4. Drop the mixture into the cake cases using a teaspoon until they’re each about three quarters full.
  5. Pop in the oven and bake at 180 degrees C for about 12-15 minutes until a cocktail stick inserted into the sponge comes out clean.
  6. When baked, place on a wire rack and leave to cool. At this stage the cakes can be frozen for decorating at a later date if you wish.

For the filling & icing:

  1. Roughly mix the two types of jam and the Pimms together in a small bowl.
  2. Using a teaspoon or small sharp knife, carefully cut a small hole (about 2cm deep by 2cm wide) in the top of each cupcake. Don’t discard the bits you’ve cut out!
  3. Drop about a teaspoon of the ‘Plimmsberry’ jam into each hole and then gently push the sponge part that was cut out back into each one.
  4. To create the meringue icing just before serving, separate the whites of 1 or 2 eggs into a heatproof bowl which can sit over the top of a saucepan of hot water without touching the water, and put the yolks to one side (these can be used to make choc mousse or eggy bread or something later!)
  5. Boil the kettle and fill the saucepan with a small volume of water and leave to cool slightly on the hob (don’t turn it on yet!) while beginning to whisk the egg whites on a high speed until they begin to stiffen and form peaks – this should be done for a minimum of 3 minutes.
  6. Switch the hob onto a LOW heat and place the bowl of egg whites onto the saucepan, ensuring that the hot water does not touch the bottom and that the water does not boil, then begin whisking on high speed again while gradually adding the sugar and vanilla extract.
  7. Continue to whisk thoroughly until all the sugar has dissolved – this will take at least 5 minutes or so. If, like me, you don’t own a fancy sugar thermometer, you can test to see if the sugar’s dissolved by pinching a small amount of the mixture between your fingers – if it feels gritty it needs further whisking. At this point the mixture may turn flat and runny but don’t panic, just keep on whisking and it will thicken again.
  8. Once all the sugar has dissolved and the egg whites have formed stiff, glossy peaks, switch the hob off and transfer the meringue into a piping bag with the nozzle of your choice (I used a star attachment) then pipe swirls onto each cake.
  9. Spear two of the redcurrants onto each cocktail stick then insert into the cakes if you wish.

Remember, the icing doesn’t keep well so make sure you scoff right away 🙂

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Golden Caramac Cupcakes

Originally posted 30/06/2013

Seriously, who doesn’t love Caramac?? I’m so glad you can still buy these deliciously retro and unique golden caramel flavoured chocolate bars in most shops. This recipe is so easy but great if you want something a bit different from normal chocolate cupcakes, and the mere smell will have people salivating in anticipation! Adding half dark brown sugar to the batter is a simple twist on a regular cupcake but the result is a divinely butterscotchy flavour which really compliments the Caramac frosting. The creation of these babies coincided with Bargain Baking Find of the Year, courtesy of my mum – she picked up a can of Dr Oetker’s amazing Golden Shimmer Spray for 49p instead of a whopping £3.99 just because the main cap was missing! I don’t think I could justify paying full whack for it but the metallic sheen it creates is just fantastic and perfect for this recipe, although the cakes are just as delicious without it.

INGREDIENTS – makes approx. 10-12

For the cakes:

  • 115g/4 oz self-raising flour
  • 55g/2 oz caster/granulated sugar
  • 55g/2 oz dark brown sugar (sifted if preferred)
  • 115g/4 oz margarine/butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder

For the icing:

  • 115g/4 oz butter (unsalted if preferred)
  • 225g/8 oz icing sugar
  • 3 30g Caramac bars
  • Dr Oetker Gold Shimmer Spray (optional)

METHOD

For the cakes:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C (or 160 fan) and line a baking tray with 12 paper cases.
  2. Whisk the margarine/butter and both lots of sugar together in a mixing bowl then whisk in the eggs.
  3. Fold in the flour, baking powder and vanilla extract until a batter of a soft dropping consistency has formed.
  4. Drop the mixture into the paper cases using a teaspoon until they’re each about three quarters full.
  5. Pop in the oven and bake for about 12-15 minutes until a cocktail stick inserted into the sponge comes out clean.
  6. When baked, place on a wire rack and leave to cool. At this stage the cakes can be frozen for decorating at a later stage if you wish.

For the icing:

  1. Break one of the Caramac bars up into a heatproof bowl and place over a saucepan of simmering water without letting the bottom of the bowl touch the water, or heat on short bursts of LOW heat in the microwave, until completely melted.
  2. Add the butter and whisk while gradually adding the icing sugar until a thick, fluffy mixture has formed. If it’s too runny, add some more icing sugar.
  3. Spread onto the cakes using a palette knife, or pipe on using the nozzle of your choice, then spray with the gold Shimmer Spray (I found this works best when keeping the can about 10ins away from the cake).
  4. Carefully break or cut the remaining two Caramac bars into 12 rectangular sections and push one onto the top of each cake as a neat finishing touch.
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Lemon Sunflower Cupcakes

Originally posted 14/06/2013

I made these lovely summery cupcakes for Sunday Baking Club’s (@SundayBakeClub on Twitter – go follow them for fabulous baking fun!) ‘Citrus Zing’ themed competition and they received a lot of compliments from other entrants 🙂 The pretty sunflower design also provoked much cooing in admiration when I took them into work! I’d never used lemon extract before but my mum and I were given a free bottle when we went to the Good Food show back in November and I have to say I was very pleasantly surprised by the delicate citrus flavour it gave to the buttercream without making it taste at all synthetic. Both my dad and brother said that they were not fans of lemon but that these cakes were delicious and not too overwhelmingly ‘citrussy’. You could of course use real lemon juice, though!

The icing technique is a heck of a lot simpler and quicker than it looks – in fact, I personally find it much easier to do than regular swirly piping. Chocolate buttons are a simple and yummy way of creating the centre of the sunflower but you could also add black/chocolate icing using the same piping technique as the petals for a more textured look. The ladybirds were a last minute addition but they make a nice colourful finishing touch and are so easy to create!

I also made some diddy versions using a miniature silicone muffin tin 🙂

INGREDIENTS – makes approx. 15-18

For the cakes:

  • 170g/6 oz self-raising flour
  • 170g/6 oz caster/granulated sugar
  • 170g/6 oz margarine/butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp lemon extract

For the icing/flower centres/ladybirds:

  • 280g/10 oz icing sugar
  • 140g/5 oz butter (unsalted if preferred)
  • 1 tsp lemon extract
  • 2 tsp yellow food colouring
  • 15-18 large milk chocolate buttons
  • A few red Smarties or M&Ms
  • Small tube of dark chocolate or black writing icing

METHOD

For the cakes:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C (or 160 fan) and line two baking trays with 18 paper cake cases.
  2. Whisk the margarine/butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl until pale then whisk in the eggs.
  3. Fold in the flour, baking powder and lemon extract until a batter of a soft dropping consistency has formed.
  4. Drop the mixture into all of the cake cases until they’re each about three quarters full.
  5. Pop the cupcakes into the oven for about 12-15 minutes until a cocktail stick inserted into the sponge comes out clean.
  6. When baked, place on a wire rack and leave to cool. At this stage the cakes can be frozen for decorating at a later stage if you wish.

For the icing, flower centres & ladybirds:

  1. Place the butter, lemon extract and food colouring into a bowl and whisk while gradually adding the icing sugar until a thick, fluffy mixture has formed. If the icing is too pale, add a little more colouring.
  2. Spoon the icing into a piping bag with a rope or star nozzle attachment and pipe little rosettes in circles around each cake, working from the outside then moving inwards to the centre, then firmly push a large chocolate button into the middle.
  3. Use the dark chocolate/black writing icing tube to pipe a ‘T’ shape onto each Smartie/M&M then add two dots either side of each line to create the ladybirds’ eyes and spots, as per the photo. Place randomly onto your chosen cakes.

Edit: I used this recipe to create my stepgrandad’s birthday cake – he absolutely loved it! 🙂

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Cream Soda Cupcakes

Originally posted 08/06/2013

This is one of my go-to cake recipes as they’re so easy to make but never fail to impress. I’ve always been a fan of the unusual but lovely fragrant vanilla taste of cream soda and I think it’s the perfect addition to a cupcake, especially the icing. In fact, I think they should manufacture a perfume with the scent of these cupcakes – it’s divine! The little straws were a nifty last minute brainwave for a simple but eye-catching finishing touch 🙂

Just an aside, but cream soda makes a delicious addition to the raspberry ripple ice cream flavour squash I mentioned in my post here: https://cloud9point1.wordpress.com/2015/06/02/raspberry-ripple-ice-cream-cupcakes/ – perfect with ice and a straw on a hot summer’s day 🙂

INGREDIENTS – makes approx. 10-12

For the cakes:

  • 115g/4 oz self-raising flour
  • 115g/4 oz caster/granulated sugar
  • 115g/4 oz margarine/butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp cream soda
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

For the icing:

  • 225g/8 oz icing sugar
  • 115g/4 oz butter (unsalted if preferred)
  • 2 tsp cream soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    + 4 stripey plastic straws (optional)

METHOD

For the cakes:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C (or 160 fan) and line a baking tray with 12 paper cake cases.
  2. Whisk the margarine/butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl until pale then whisk in the eggs.
  3. Fold in the flour, baking powder, vanilla extract and cream soda until a batter of a soft dropping consistency has formed. If it’s too runny, add a little more flour.
  4. Drop the mixture into the paper cases using a teaspoon until they’re each about three quarters full.
  5. Pop in the oven and bake for about 12-15 minutes until a cocktail stick inserted into the sponge comes out clean.
  6. When baked, place on a wire rack and leave to cool. At this stage the cakes can be frozen for icing at a later date if you wish.

For the icing:

  1. Place the butter, vanilla extract and cream soda into a bowl and whisk while gradually adding the icing sugar until a thick, fluffy mixture has formed. If it’s too runny, add some more icing sugar. The longer you whisk it for, the whiter the icing will become.
  2. Spoon the icing into a piping bag with a nozzle of your choice attached (I used a large circular one) and pipe onto the cakes or simply spread it on using a palette knife.
  3. Use scissors to cut the four plastic straws into pieces of about 3-4ins in length and push one piece into the side of each cake for a neat finishing touch. You could also add some rainbow sprinkles if you fancy.

Edit: I increased the quantities in this recipe to make a giant cupcake with added chocolate finger biscuits and a sugarpaste cherry for my brother’s birthday as he loves cream soda!

IMG_0415a

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Cheer-Me-Up Angel Cake

Originally posted 08/06/2013

Of all the cakes I’ve made this is certainly not one of the most elegant – I even overcooked the sponges (although I seem to have mastered the art of nice even cupcakes, my large round cakes always come out abysmally) – but after a horrible week of suffering from a severe chest infection and generally feeling rubbish, by the weekend I had a serious craving for a massive dose of unapologetically sinful sweet, spongey, jammy, melt-in-the-mouth, no-frills CAKE. CAKE just for me!! And the result was blissfully delicious, though unfortunately so much so that my family managed to devour the majority of it! I used my favourite vanilla buttercream icing and, being a sucker for girly prettiness, I made pink and yellow angel cake sponges topped off with rainbow sprinkles for added cheeriness. As I said, this is by no means the most sophisticated of cakes but it’s super easy and certainly won’t fail to raise a smile!

INGREDIENTS – makes 2 sponge layers of 8in/20cm diameter

For the cake:

  • 225g/8 oz self-raising flour
  • 225g/8 oz caster/granulated sugar
  • 225g/8 oz margarine/butter
  • 4 eggs
  • Half a tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • Few drops of red food colouring

For the filling/icing:

  • 2 tbsp (approx.) jam of your choice (I used strawberry)
  • 225g/8 oz icing sugar
  • 55g/2 oz cream cheese (at room temperature, full-fat works best)
  • 55g/2 oz butter (unsalted if preferred)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Coloured sprinkles, to decorate

METHOD

For the cake:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C (or 160 fan) and line two round cake tins with baking parchment.
  2. Whisk the margarine/butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl until pale then whisk in the eggs.
  3. Fold in the flour, baking powder and vanilla extract until a batter of a soft dropping consistency has formed.
  4. Pour half of the mixture into one of the cake tins – it shouldn’t be any more than three quarters full to avoid overspill.
  5. Add a few drops of red food colouring to the remaining batter until it has turned a pale pink colour. Don’t worry too much if it doesn’t look the perfect shade, it will look different when baked.
  6. Pour the mixture into the second cake tin – again, it shouldn’t be any more than three quarters full (if you have any leftover batter at this stage why not fill a few cupcake cases? 🙂
  7. Pop in the oven and bake for about 18-20 minutes until a cocktail stick inserted into the sponge comes out clean.
  8. When baked, leave the sponges to cool on a wire rack. At this stage they can be frozen for assembling and decorating at a later date if you wish.

For the filling & icing:

  1. Whisk the butter, cream cheese and vanilla extract together in a bowl and then gradually add the icing sugar until a pale spreadable mixture has formed. If too stiff, add a little milk and if too runny, add some more icing sugar.
  2. If the sponges have risen up too much in the middle, saw off the tops using a sharp serated knife so that they’re nice and flat, otherwise they’ll be horribly wobbly when stacked together. See below for an idea of what to do with the offcuts!
  3. Place the yellow sponge on something flat that it will not need to be moved from when completed, e.g. a cake board, tray or tin lid (moving the finished cake is best avoided if possible!), then spread a thin layer of jam all over the top of the yellow sponge followed by a thin layer of the buttercream icing. If any bits of the sponges have fallen off these can be ‘glued’ back on with jam 🙂
  4. Firmly place the pink sponge on top then spread the buttercream icing all over the assembled cake with a palette knife, smoothing out the top and sides as you go, while attempting to resist repeatedly sampling its fluffy, vanilla-y deliciousness.
  5. Decorate with rainbow sprinkles for some extra colour.

Leftover sponge and icing…?

Simply layer torn up chunks of pink and yellow sponge and jam in small individual containers (e.g. ramekins or teacups) then top with icing and sprinkles to make some cute little trifle-style angelic desserts!

Categories: Layer Cakes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lindor Choc Cheesecake Cupcakes with Melty Centres

Originally posted 29/05/2013

Last Christmas I somehow ended up with three boxes of Lindor chocolates – one of each of the white, milk and cookies & cream varieties to be precise. Now, I am most certainly NOT complaining as they are divine but, amidst all the other gazillions of truffles, mints, posh biscuits and other choccy treats myself and my family acquired between us during the festive season (there’s still several boxes in the cupboard even now at the end of May, no joke) I thought I’d try and put some of them to use in my baking. Or rather, I thought I’d use the milk and white chocolate ones in my baking; the cookies & cream ones are such amazingly heavenly little balls of sweet, creamy loveliness that I have them stashed away in an undisclosed location for me to savour as they are too good even to share! Sorry. Not sorry. Anyway, one thing I found is that Lindor balls actually melt surprisingly well, even the white ones (provided you chop them up) so this uber decadent recipe really is sinfully easy.

Obviously if you don’t want to splash out and use Lindor chocolates, these cakes would work fine with most other kinds, but I found them an unashamedly indulgent and sophisticated change to the bog-standard cooking chocolate taste, and you really can’t beat Lindor for creaminess so they work fantastically in the gooey melty surprise centres.

I took a batch of these into work on my birthday back in January and they seemed to vanish in a puff of smoke – you can’t go wrong with chocolate and cheesecake afterall, even when there are avid new year dieters about…

INGREDIENTS – makes approx. 10-12

For the cakes:

  • 115g/4 oz self-raising flour
  • 115g/4 oz caster/granulated sugar
  • 115g/4 oz margarine/butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 55g/2 oz cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp instant coffee, diluted in 2 tbsp hot water*
  • 0.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the melty filling/icing:

  • 5 (approx.) milk Lindor chocolates
  • 5 (approx.) white Lindor chocolates
  • 115g/4 oz cream cheese (at room temperature, full-fat works best)

METHOD

For the cakes & filling:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C (or 160 fan) and line a baking tray with 12 paper cake cases, and boil the kettle.
  2. Whisk the margarine/butter together in a large mixing bowl until pale then whisk in the eggs.
  3. Fold in the flour, baking powder and vanilla extract until a batter of a soft dropping consistency has formed.
  4. Drop the mixture into half of the paper cases using a teaspoon until they’re each about half full.
  5. Roughly chop two of the white Lindors into thirds using a sharp knife (and being careful not to ping them off the worktop…) and place a third on top of the mixture in each filled case, then top up each case with cake batter until they’re about three quarters full.
  6. Stir the diluted coffee into the remaining cake batter. Then make a cup of tea with the leftover boiled water (well, it’d be wrong to put the kettle on and not have a cuppa, wouldn’t it?!)
  7. Fold in the cocoa powder then drop the mixture into the remaining paper cases using a teaspoon until they’re each about half full, then repeat step 5 but this time with two milk chocolate Lindors.
  8. Pop in the oven and bake for about 12-15 minutes until a cocktail stick inserted into the sponge comes out clean.
  9. When baked, place on a wire rack and leave to cool. At this stage the cakes can be frozen for decorating at a later date if you wish.

For the icing:

  1. Chop the remaining Lindors into small pieces and place the white chocolate ones into a heatproof bowl. Leave some of the flaky chocolate crumbs on the chopping board as these can be used to decorate the cakes at the end.
  2. Place the bowl over a saucepan of hot water without letting the bottom touch the water and stir occasionally, or heat in short bursts of LOW heat in the microwave (this is important – don’t put the white chocolate on a high heat for long periods or it will seize and turn lumpy and horrible), until completely melted.
  3. Place half of the cream cheese into a separate bowl and stir while pouring in the melted chocolate until a smooth, spreadable icing has formed. Work quickly as the chocolate will begin to set quite rapidly. If the mixture is excessively runny, add some icing sugar.
  4. Spread the icing onto the cooled vanilla cupcakes using a palette knife.
  5. Repeat steps 1 to 4 but this time with the milk chocolate Lindors and cupcakes.
  6. Sprinkle the remaining milk chocolate crumbs onto the white chocolate cakes and vice versa to decorate. Then grab one and devour it while you still can.

*Yes, this really does enhance the chocolatey flavour of the sponge, it’s no myth! And I promise it won’t make the cakes taste of coffee (this coming from a coffee hater, so trust me).

Categories: Chocolate, cupcakes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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