Saturday, 31 July 2010

Chocolate Brownies

I wanted something simple to make this friday evening and so I settled on chocolate brownies from the Hummingbird bakery cookbook. I've never made brownies before but they are always a popular choice for me for dessert when I eat out... and so the time had come for me to attempt to make some of my own.

The recipe was relatively simple:

200g dark choc
175g unsalted butter
325g caster sugar
130g plain flour
3 eggs
a 33 x 23 x 5 cm baking tray lined with greaseproof paper

Preheat oven to 170C.
Put chocolate and butter in a heat proof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Leave until melted and smooth.
Remove from heat. Add the sugar and stir well until well incorporated.
Add the flour and stir until well incorporated (I had a taste at this stage and well, I could have eaten the whole bowl of mixture even before it went in the oven!!)
Finally stir in the eggs and mix until thick and smooth.
Pour the mixture into the prepared baking tray and bake in the preheated over for about 30-35 minutes or until flaky on the top but still soft in the centre. Be careful not to over cook otherwise the edges become hard and crunchy.
Leave to cool and dust with icing sugar.

I also added pecans to my recipe as I do like a few nuts dotted throughout. The texture of the brownies was perfect - really moist in the centre..just how a brownie should be! I have tried one this morning and I think they are actually better now they have cooled down!

I was going to pretty them up as the book suggests and dust with icing sugar...but they smelt so good when they came out the oven and I had just bought a tub of lovely Kelly's cornish clotted cream ice cream (yum) sooooo I just couldnt resist serving my brownies hot with lashings of ice cream.

What a lovely treat for a friday night...

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Banoffee Cupcakes

I wasn’t actually planning on doing any baking today. I had the best intentions on Thursday night of baking on Sunday. I planned what I was going to bake and I went to the supermarket to get the ingredients. And then later that night I got the terrible news from my parents that my Gran had sadly passed away.

Although she had been ill with dementia for some time it was still such a shock. At the age of 18 I moved out from my parents house and went to live in Preston, where my gran lived, to go to uni. Over the last 7 years I became very close to my Gran...she helped and supported me when I left home, doing anything she could to make life easier for me. We could often be found having lunch out in preston and wandering round the shops. I would share all my gossip with her and she would give me advice on any dilemmas I had! She really was an amazing Gran and I am going to miss her so much.

I have therefore spent a huge part of the weekend feeling sad, not sleeping and bursting into tears at random and totally inappropriate momemts..i.e. the middle of the suit shop whilst trying to find a suit to wear to the funeral. It all got a bit too much...

This morning when I woke up I really didn’t know what to do with myself. I didn’t feel like I really wanted to go out anywhere but I didn’t want to just sit infront of the tv either. So I decided that I would do as I planned to do and bake! My Gran definitely wouldn't have wanted me sat around the house feeling upset thats for sure!

As I still had a packet of Oreos left and last weeks Oreo cupcakes went down so well with Karl's work mates I decided I would make these again. I also wanted to try something new and decided this was the weekend I'd make Banoffee Cupcakes out of the Eat Me book. I absolutely adore banoffee pie..(this is my mums fault as she has got a slight addiction to it and its obviously rubbed off on me) so the thought of a banoffee pie cupcake seemed very interesting indeed!

The first thing I had to do to make these cupcakes was make the toffee sauce which would go in the centre...apparently you could buy it ready made but me being me decided I would do it ‘properly’ and make it myself! The recipe said to use a can of condensed milk and boil it for 3 hard could that be? Well not hard at all really...but throughout the whole 3 hours I was sure that the can was going to explode at any didn’t..luckily!

Anyway, once the toffee sauce was done I set about making the banana cupcakes. It was a vanilla cupcake recipe with mashed up banana in it to flavour smelt gorgeous even before cooking. A few months ago i tried a banana cupcake from a bakery near me and the cake was really heavy, so I was a little worried my cupcakes would turn out in similar state...luckily they didn’t and the banana flavoured the cakes perfectly. Unfortunately they didn’t rise quite as much as I’d have liked. I used different cupcake cases for these - they seemed very thin and wider than my usual ones so I'm wondering if this had anything to do with it...but I will definitely be going back to my usual ones next time!

Once the cakes were cool I hollowed out the centre and put toffee sauce into the cupcakes and also on the tops. I then piped swirls of vanilla butter creams onto the tops of the cakes and decorated with a dried banana piece. The recipe in the Eat Me booked recommended to use whipped cream and real bananas on the top of the cake...a lovely combination if the cakes were to be eaten right away, however the majority of these will probably be eaten tomorrow by which time the toppings may be a little past their best!

I possibly made the butter cream for these cakes a bit too thin and I don’t think my decorating was as tidy as I would have liked but I guess this can be forgiven due to how upset I have been and the baking definitely did what I wanted it to do... cheered me up a little this afternoon and took my mind off things.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Peach and Blueberry Soured Cream Cobbler

Now...normally I'm not one for seeing a recipe and making it straight away. However, I saw this recipe on Chocolate Teapot and I couldn't resist. It just looked soooo good and also so simple to make. So, during my lunch hour last Friday I quickly printed the recipe and stashed it in my bag to take home to make over the weekend!

I've never really made anything like this before so was a bit unsure when I set about making it on Sunday evening for dessert but it turned out perfectly and tasted even better than it looked. I served it with vanilla ice cream as I love that combination of the hot pudding with the cold melting ice cream..mmmmm! It was that good both me and Karl went back for seconds. This will definitely be a dessert that will be made again and again in my kitchen!

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Oreo Cupcakes

Today has been another lovely sunday of baking cupcakes! Infact, the whole weekend has been cupcake related. Yesterday morning, Karl and I swapped our usual lie in for a trip to the farmers market in Didsbury, Manchester which is there on the second saturday of every month. Karl wasnt quite as enthusiastic as me at the prospect of getting out of bed early on a saturday morning but once we got there and he saw all the yummy food treats on offer he was already talking about going back next month! The main reason for our trip to the farmers market was to visit the stall of 'and the dish ran away with the spoon' .

I have been following them on twitter and drooling over the lovely piccies on their website for far too long and decided it was time to go and sample some of their cakes. Well...we definately weren't disappointed! Karl and I chose 2 cupcakes - Very Berry (vanilla sponge packed with raspberries and topped with vanilla butter cream) and Jaffa (chocolate and orange sponge topped with creamy orange butter cream). Both were lovely and the orange butter cream on the Jaffa cupcake was gorgeous. Karl also tried a chocolate brownie which he said was one of the best he'd ever had - very moist in the centre apparently and I had a bakewell slice which was fantastic. I would love to have had some piccies to post of the lovely cakes but unfortunately I forgot my camera. My was too early on a saturday morning for me to be able to remember everything i needed for the day!

Anyway, back to today..I have noticed when reading people's blogs that quite a few people are making Oreo cupcakes. I love these little biscuits and decided I wanted to have a go at making these into cupcakes too. There seems to be alot of variation in the recipes people are using - with some people baking full size oreos into the cupcake, some using chocolate sponges, some using vanilla sponge with broken oreos mixed in, some people using cream in the icing and some using butter cream.

As I couldn't find just one recipe that I was happy with, I kinda incorporated lots of different recipes into one. Due to my lack of a recipe I didnt have any idea how many Oreos I would need. I had two packets in my cupboard already that I bought a few weeks ago but so concerned I was that I would need more, I decided to buy one more packet whilst we were at the supermarket this morning. I think Karl thought I had gone mad and it turns out I had, as I still have one and a half packets left in the cupboard! Oh well..just gives me a good excuse to make some more!
For the cupcakes I used the chocolate cupcake recipe from the Hummingbird Bakery book. In half of the cupcakes I also baked a mini Oreo into the centre to experiment. I then used the Rachel Allen recipe from Bake for butter cream but added vanilla essence and alot of broken up Oreo's. I spent aaaages bashing them up with my rolling pin so that they were small enough to pipe onto the cakes! I then decorated each cake with a mini Oreo. The butter cream on these cakes was so gooood! I will definitely be making these again!

Friday, 2 July 2010

Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes

All my revision paid off and I passed my driving theory last week..hooray! I'm halfway there to be being able to drive..just gotta do the scary driving part next...eek!

Anyways....due to my success with my test and the glorious weather we have been having lately I am in a very happy and summery mood! I finished work tonight and thought I'd try making a batch of ice cream cone cupcakes. I saw these cupcakes in the Eat Me cookbook when I first got it and thought they looked interesting. I was a little bit skeptical about how well they would work...I had visions of the cone going soggy, falling over or breaking during cooking.. but decided I would give them a go anyway!

After reading a bad review on Amazon about this recipe I decided to use the trusty fairy cake recipe from Rachel Allen's Bake and ice them with vanilla buttercream. I was also a bit unsure about how tasty a cupcake would actually be eating it out of a wafer cone but have just tried one and its surprisingly nice! Definitely a success, although I will let Karl be the final judge of that when he tries one!