Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Chocolate Mint Cake

I planned a little surprise birthday dinner for a friend recently. Luckily it went well and the birthday girl was indeed surprised and very happy! I asked the restaurant if I could bring a cake and started thinking about what to bake. I remembered that chocolate mint is her favorite so I thought of a chocolate cake with a minty filling. I had great success with my chocolate cake and Oreo cream cheese filling so I decided to adapt that into a chocolate mint cake. I used the same cake recipe but added 1 tablespoon of mint extract. The filling also had mint and green food coloring and chopped up mint aero. The cake was then topped with a chocolate ganache and mint aero balls. I forgot to take pictures at the restaurant so I only have a few photos to share. The cake was absolutely delicious! Light and minty but not overly so. My friend's dad really enjoyed the cake and I got more compliments about the cake later from her family! 

I'm sharing this with Alphabakes which I'm hosting this month. Caroline from Caroline Makes is my co host. The letter this month is M for mint. 

For the cake
350g caster sugar
220g plain flour
85g cocoa powder
1.5 teaspoon baking powder
1.5 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 eggs
250mls milk
125mls vegetable oil
1 tablespoon peppermint extract
250mls boiling water, cooled for a few minutes

For the filling
400mls double cream
225g cream cheese
85g icing sugar
green food colouring
2 large bars of Mint Aero, roughly chopped

For the ganache
200mls double cream
200g dark chocolate 

To decorate
Mint Aero balls

  • Preheat the oven to 180C.
  • Grease and line 2 x 18cm round tins. 
  • Place the sugar, flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and cocoa powder in the bowl of an electric mixer and mix briefly.
  • Add in the milk, oil, eggs, peppermint extract and finally the slightly cooled boiling water.
  • Mix until smooth.
  • Divide the batter between the 2 cake tins and bake for approximately 30-35 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. 
  • Allow to cool completely on a wire rack before decorating.
  • To make the filling, whip the cream until stiff then set aside. 
  • Beat the cream cheese with the icing sugar until smooth. Add in a little green food colouring and mix thoroughly. 
  • Stir in the whipped cream and chopped mint aero chocolate. 
  • Chill in the fridge if not using immediately.
  • To make the ganache, heat the cream gently until it's just starting to bubble - don't let it overboil.
  • Add in the chocolate in small pieces whilst stirring.
  • Whisk for a few minutes until it's smooth.
  • Allow to cool for 5-10minutes before using.
  • To assemble the cake, place one cake upside down on the cake board. 
  • Spread the cream cheese filling evenly on the cake, smoothing out the edges as you go. 
  • Add the second cake on top.
  • Pour the ganache from a height on to the centre of the cake and allow it to spread out until it's dripping down the edges of the cake. 
  • Decorate with mint aero balls. 

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Apple Rose Tarts

Yesterday we celebrated a month of marriage. It seems silly I know but I thought it would be nice to mark the occasion with something special. In my world that usually means cake or chocolate. However, I've been wanting to bake apple rose tarts for a while now particularly as my mum and aunt made it recently with huge success. It's normally very popular around Valentine's Day and Mother's Day so I decided to give it a go. It really is much easier than it looks. This makes for a very impressive dessert with a little effort. Plus roses traditionally symbolise love. J was well impressed as was I! 

There are lots of recipes and videos available online and this is my interpretation. A little clumsy but still pretty and delicious. You can get 6 tarts out of 1 sheet of puff pastry but I made mine extralarge and only made 4! Most of the recipes used jam but I decided to go with melted butter and cinnamon sugar. Apologies for the poor quality photos but it was very late at night! 

 ready rolled puff pastry, 2 red apples, butter, cinnamon sugar and egg wash

 Slice the apples thinly and arrange on a plate. Makes sure you keep the skin on. Microwave it gently for 1-2 minutes until the apples are soft and pliable. 

 Cut the puff pastry into 4 using a pizza cutter (cut into 6 strips for smaller, neater tarts) 

 Roll each sheet slightly to widen and flatten it. Spread some melted butter on top

 Add a generous sprinkling of cinnamon sugar

 Arrange apple slices, overlapping the ends on top of the puff pastry sheet 

 fold the bottom part over and add more melted butter and cinnamon sugar. Starting at one end, roll it up and the apple slices will look like rose petals

 How pretty does that look? I baked mine in a buttered ramekin dishes in a 220C oven for approximately 40 minutes. You can also use a muffin tin if you are making smaller roses.

 They turn out beautifully from the ramekin 

 serve with a dusting of icing sugar 

Monday, 9 November 2015

Banana, chocolate and walnut waffles

This month's theme for We Should Cocoa is bananas. Bananas and chocolate are one of my favourite combinations so my mind immediately went into overdive with ideas. I've baked cakes, cookies, muffins and cupcakes with this flavour combination. I wanted to do something a little different and my mind turned to breakfast or more specifically brunch. Weekend brunches are sacred in our house as we don't often have time to either be at home or sit and have a leisurely brunch. There are a few recipes that we always come back to for brunch and one of them is waffles. I have a waffle mould and I normally bake my waffles in the oven. However, I've always wanted to have a waffle maker but felt it was too indulgent.  We got married recently so I added it to our wedding gift list and was over the moon when one of J's friends bought it for us. I finally own a waffle maker and it was put to use the day after we received it! We had basic waffles with fruit and maple syrup and it was delicious. 

Waffles made with a waffle maker turn out light and crispy whereas the baked ones taste a little more cake like. This weekend we had time to have a leisurely brunch at home so I started experimenting with recipes and came up with this banana, chocolate and walnut waffles. The waffles were chocolatey with a hint of banana and the walnuts added crunch and texture. I served them with sliced bananas, chocolate chips and maple syrup. I debated about a chocolate sauce but decided that maple syrup would be better. The batter made 9 waffles so I have lots in the freezer to be toasted for breakfast during the week. 

I'm sending this to We Should Cocoa hosted by Choclette from Tin and Thyme. The theme this month is banana which of course has to be paired with chocolate. 

I'm also sending it to Brilliant Breakfasts hosted by Made with Pink. These make for a very filling breakfast especially with the bananas and walnuts. 

It's also going to Cook Blog Share hosted by Kirtsy from Hijacked by Twins. 

Finally to Bake of the week hosted by Helen from Casa Costello.

My new waffle maker! I sprinkled some chocolate chips on top of the batter before cooking. There's way too much batter in this as it was the first one but I learnt quickly after that! 

 Lovely chocolatey waffles with banana and walnuts baked in. 

 served with sliced banana, chocolate chips and maple syrup

Makes 9 large waffles in a waffle maker

240g plain flour
60g cocoa powder
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 bananas
2 eggs
90mls vegetable oil
150g sour cream
200 mls milk
80g walnuts
sprinkling of chocolate chips

To serve
Sliced banana
Chocolate chips
Maple syrup

  • I used a food processor to get a nice, smooth batter.
  • Place the eggs, vegetable oil, sour cream, milk and whole banana and whole walnuts and blitz gently.
  • Add in the dry ingredients and mix until smooth. 
  • Be careful not to overmix the batter.
  • Allow to sit for a few minutes. 
  • Pre heat the waffle maker. When ready, add the batter but be careful not to put too much or it will spill out. Sprinkle some chocolate chips on top.
  • Cook as per manufacturer's instructions. Mine took about 5 minutes. 
  • Serve warm with sliced banana, chocolate chips and maple syrup. 

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Apple, toffee, raisin and butterscotch muffins

This is a variation on the toffee apple muffins that I posted earlier in the week. They were so popular I baked them three times in a week! I had further requests but had run out of ingredients. I decided to use up leftovers that I had to create a variation of the muffin and it worked beautifully. Personally I prefer this version as it has butterscotch chips and raisin. J prefers the toffee apple muffins.

I'm sending this to the No Waste Food Challenge guest hosted this month by Tracy from It's Not Easy Being Greedy on behalf of Elizabeth from Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary. This recipe uses up the bits of ingredients in my cupboard - raisin, butterscotch chips and 4 toffee sweets.

It's also suitable for the Credit Crunch Munch challenge guest hosted by Elizabeth from Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary on behalf of Helen from Fuss Free Flavours and Camilla from Fab Food 4 All.

Makes 14 muffins

2 apples, peeled, cored and chopped
1 pot of 165g fat free yoghurt
150mls milk
100g brown sugar
100g butter, melted
300g plain flour
1.5 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 eggs
4 toffee sweets, chopped into quarters
100g raisins
100g butterscotch chips

  • Preheat the oven to 180C. 
  • In a large bowl, mix the yoghurt, milk, eggs, sugar and butter.
  • In a separate bowl, sift the dry ingredients.
  • Stir into the wet ingredients until just mixed.
  • Stir in the chopped apples,toffee sweets, raisins and butterscotch chips.
  • Divide the mixture between the muffin cases.
  • Bake for approximately 25-28 minutes or until golden brown and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Ginger Bonfire Cupcakes

As promised I have a Bonfire Night recipe for you. Today is Guy Fawkes Night celebrated annually on November 5th to commemorate the failure of the Gunpowder Plot. The traditional cake eaten today is parkin cake which is a sticky gingerbread cake. I've taken inspiration and come up with a fun cupcake that has flavours of traditional parkin.

These cupcakes are perfect for the occasion and relatively simple to bake. I baked these twice as I had to experiment with the spice levels and different frosting and I think they are now almost perfect. It has a sticky gingerbread cake base topped with  lemon buttercream and orange matchmaker sticks. The flavours work well together as the sweet and zesty lemon frosting sets of the fiery, spiced cupcake. My initial trial I made a golden syrup cinnamon cream cheese frosting which was absolutely delicious but unfortunately the icing was too soft to pipe tall peaks required for the bonfire effect. The lemon frosting worked equally well in terms of flavour pairing and visually it looks much better. 

I'm sending this to a few blog challenges this month.

Treat Petite hosted by Kat from The Baking Explorer and Stuart fromCakeyboi. The theme this month is Autumn.

Recipe of the Week hosted by Emily from A Mummy Too.

#FoodYearLinkUp hosted by Charlotte from Charlotte's Lively Kitchen. Lots of foodies events in November and this is for Guy Fawkes Night.

 adding golden syrup to the cake batter 

 ready to go in the oven 

 I made 2 bags of frosting - 1 yellow and 1 orange and then placed them both in another piping bag with a 1M star tip to create the two tone piping effect.

 Pipe the frosting a high as you can

 Add orange matchmaker sticks so that it looks like a bonfire and add a sprinkling of orange sugar if you have it. 

 This is my initial failed attempt with the cream cheese frosting - absolutely delicious but less visually appealing! 

Makes 15cupcakes 

For the cupcakes
150g butter
130g soft brown sugar
3 eggs
150g self raising flour
60mls golden syrup
2.5 teaspoons ground ginger
1.5 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

For the frosting
110g butter
zest of 1 lemon
300g icing sugar, sifted
1-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
food colouring - orange and yellow

For the decoration
Orange matchmaker sticks
Orange sanding sugar 

  • Preheat the oven to 180C.
  • Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.
  • Add in the golden syrup.
  • Add in the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition.
  • In a separate bowl, sift the flour and spices and add it to the butter mixture.
  • Divide the mixture between the cupcake cases - I use an ice cream scoop to get an even amount of cake batter per cupcake case.
  • Bake for approximately 16-18 minutes or until golden brown and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  • Allow to cool completely. 
  • I made a double batch of frosting and it's plenty to frost all the cupcakes - I didn't want to risk running out as it would be difficult to get the same colour again. If you have leftover frosting, you can use it to make cookies
  • To make the frosting, beat the butter and icing sugar for at least 5 minutes until smooth and fluffy. Add in the lemon zest and slowly add in the lemon juice until you get the required consistency. 
  • Add the food colouring and mix well - I use colour paste.
  • Repeat for the second batch.
  • As shown in the pictures, place each colour of icing in a disposable piping bag and snip the end of the bag off. 
  • Place both bags side by side into another piping bag fitted with a 1M star tip ensuring that the ends of the bags go into the piping nozzle.
  • Pipe the buttercream on a plate initially to get a good mix of colour then decorate the cupcakes as shown.

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Toffee Apple Muffins

A quick and easy atumnal bake today. These muffins are really quick to make and are bursting with flavour. You get juicy apple pieces and melted toffee and a hint of spice to round it all up. I adapted a recipe from BBC Food and used low fat toffee yoghurt instead of milk for extra flavour. You can also add nuts which complement these muffins well but I kept these nut free as a colleague is allergic to walnuts. These were a real hit and I baked them 3 times last week! I have another very exciting bake for Bonfire Night coming up so make sure you check back soon :)

I'm sending this to Treat Petite hosted by Kat from The Baking Explorer and Stuart from Cakeyboi. The theme this month is Autumn.

 adding chunks of apple

2 toffees per muffin 

 I love that you getlarge chunks of apple to bite into and how the toffee has melted all down the sides of the muffin

Makes 14 muffins

2 pots of 165g fat free toffee yoghurt 
60 mls milk
2 eggs
100g brown sugar
100g butter, melted
300g plain flour
1.5 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 apples, peeled, cored and choped
28 toffee sweets

  • Preheat the oven to 180C. 
  • In a large bowl, mix the yoghurt, milk, eggs, sugar and butter.
  • In a separate bowl, sift the dry ingredients.
  • Stir into the wet ingredients until just mixed.
  • Stir in the chopped apples.
  • Divide the mixture between the muffin cases.
  • Place 2 toffee sweets on top of each muffin.
  • Bake for approximately 25-28 minutes or until golden brown and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.