Monday, 29 July 2013

Absinthe Cupcakes

As I have my love of baking, my boyfriend has a love of alcohol. He loves trying new drinks, he often flavours gin and vodka with fruit blends as gifts for friends and family, and has imported special spirits from abroad before. He made a Werther's Original flavour vodka recently that was beyond delicious! When we went to Portugal in April he was excited to find a range of high strength absinthe for very low prices. For a house party recently I decided to combine my love of baking with his love of alcohol and make these potent cupcakes!

The absinthe I used was an 80% volume one (160 proof) in a lovely blue colour.

I made the sponge by creaming together 130g caster sugar and 130g butter. I then mixed in 2 eggs, and one shot of absinthe. It made the mixture go green! Finally I folded in 130g self raising flour.

I baked the cupcakes on 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for 20 minutes.

I made the buttercream using 340g icing sugar, 150g butter and about 2/3 of a shot of absinthe. Again I got a great green colour! I didn't have my piping bag with me, so I used a spoon to smooth the buttercream on. I then added half a glace cherry for decoration as I thought the red went well with the pale green.

The cupcakes were really fluffy and light, with just the right amount of aniseed flavour from the absinthe. The perfect party treat! Absinthe is traditionally poured through a sugar cube, so this is the ultimate sugar cube for the drink to be mixed with. Would you dare to try an absinthe cupcake?!

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Banana Syrup Cake with Nutella Buttercream

So this delicious moist cake was both a great way to use up some leftovers, and a fantastic way to feed my Nutella addiction! Ever since I made the Nutella Stuffed Cookies I have been wanting to make a Nutella buttercream. I had two going brown bananas lying around - I'm one of those people who will not eat a banana that has any brown marks on it at all! And I knew Nutella and banana go perfectly together after eating many a pancake covered in them both. I added the syrup to make the cake extra moist.

I creamed together 240g butter, 200g light brown sugar and 140g caster sugar. The light brown sugar adds a delicious caramel flavour to the sponge. You could also use light muscovado sugar.

I whisked in 2 eggs and 1 tsp vanilla extract, then added 2 large mashed bananas (or 3 smaller bananas) and mixed in carefully.

Finally I folded in 300g self raising flour and 1 tsp baking powder. I poured the mixture into a lined square baking tray.

I baked on 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for about 25 minutes. The cake was starting to brown quite a lot, so I turned the oven down to 150C/300F/Gas Mark 2 and baked for another 20 minutes.

About 5 minutes before the cake came out of the oven, I gently heated 150g golden syrup and 50g butter on a low heat until combined.

I skewered the cake all over to make small holes. I spooned over the syrup mixture while the cake was warm, then left it to soak in.

Making the Nutella buttercream was guess work for me. I added a bit more butter, Nutella and finally cream cheese to get a consistency I was happy with. I ended up using 235g icing sugar, 115g Nutella, 70g butter and 3 heaped tsp cream cheese for the buttercream. Because of the Nutella, it is quite an oily mixture, but damn, it tasted good!

I spread the Nutella buttercream over the cake with a palette knife, and sprinkled roasted chopped hazelnuts over the top. I bought these ready prepared in a packed from the supermarket, as it's a huge time saver.

Wow this cake was moist! It literally melted in my mouth. It's a decadent explosion of banana, nuts, chocolate and syrup. The flavours all blend together perfectly. As I cut the cake into squares it was quite a messy job with cake going everywhere, safe to say I made short work of any crumbs! Admittedly the addition of golden syrup does push this cake to the high levels of sweetness, I think the cake would be great without it too if your sweet tooth isn't as strong.

I am entering this bake into this month's Credit Crunch Munch, ran by Helen at Fuss Free Flavours and Camilla at Fab Food 4 All, and this month hosted by Sian at Fishfingers For Tea. I'm submitting this recipe because I used bananas that had gone brown and would have otherwise been thrown away, and all of the ingredients (except the Nutella!) were already in my kitchen.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Spiced Jammy Flapjacks

I recently posted about how Scottish preserves manufacturer Mackays had sent me some of their jams to try out in my baking, and I made a delicious Lemon, Blueberry & Blackberry Swirl Loaf with their Blueberry & Blackcurrant preserve. My jammy adventure continues with their Strawberry Preserve with Champagne!

I make flapjacks often for my flapjack obsessed boyfriend, and I thought adding jam would be a great way to jazz them up a bit and make them more fun and interesting. Plus, he loves jam! I also added some cinnamon and mixed spice for an extra flavour angle and because I love to experiment!

First I measured out the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl; 300g porridge oats, 130g plain flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp cinnamon and 1/2 tsp mixed spice.

In a pan I melted 170g golden syrup and 130g butter. I also added 1/2 tsp vanilla extract.

I poured the dry ingredients into the melted butter and mixed until all the butter was absorbed.

I greased a square pan with butter and pressed in just over half of the flapjack mixture. Make sure it is compacted on the bottom.

I used a palette knife to spread the jam over the flapjack mixture. I used almost a full jar of Mackays Strawberry Preserve with Champagne, the only reason I left a little bit is because it tasted so good I wanted some on toast the next morning!

Spread over the rest of the flapjack mixture, there will be gaps, but I think the jam peeking through looks great and very appetising!

I baked on 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for about 20 minutes, until golden brown. Once cooled, I cut into squares and removed from the tin.

I never eat the flapjacks I make for my boyfriend as I'm not a huge fan of them, but he had no choice but to share these Spiced Jammy Flapjacks with me! They are great for road trips and picnics. We ate the whole batch between us over the course of a week. These would be delicious with other Mackays jam flavours too!

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Thursday, 11 July 2013

Nutella Stuffed Cookies

Welcome to the simplest, most delicious and overall best cookie recipe ever! If you love Nutella (who doesn't?!) then you are in for a treat. Delicious soft nutty chocolate cookies with pure Nutella running through the middle. So damn good!

The reason this recipe is so simple is because it only has three ingredients, as pictured above. You don't need to add sugar or fat because Nutella has those elements within in. I was slightly skeptical as I have never made such a simple recipe before, but there was a jar of Nutella involved so I knew something tasty would happen!

First I mixed together 1 egg and 280g of Nutella, you can use any other hazelnut chocolate spread. I made it with both and didn't notice any major difference. I've also noticed a few flavour versions in the supermarket, like chocolate orange spread for example, so it might be interesting to try using one of those.

Then I added 150g plain flour and mixed until all of the white of the flour was gone and a smooth dough formed.

I scooped out a piece of dough, rolled it between my palms, then flattened it. I put it on a lined baking tray, and added a dollop of Nutella in the middle.

I made another disc of cookie dough and placed it on top, pressing down the edges with my fingertips. The mixture makes about 9 cookies, depending on the size.

I baked the cookies on 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for 8-10 minutes. I stuck around the 8 minute mark, definitely don't bake them longer than 10, I did my first batch for too long and they went far too crispy and hard. I prefer my cookies more doughy in the middle, and the hidden Nutella really adds to this.

Let them cool and then bite right in! I made 3 batches of these cookies in a week because they are so damn good! They also freeze really well so you can stock up. Thank to MBakes for passing on this recipe to me!

Sunday, 7 July 2013

The July Lust List

This month it's my birthday! Don't worry it's not till the 30th so you have plenty of time to shop ;) I'm getting closer and closer to 30 which is a bit concerning for me so I'm determined to enjoy what little I have left of my 20's. The reason 30 feels like such a milestone is because it's that kind of age that signifies 'growing up' (eeek!). Although saying that I'll probably feel the same at 40 and 50... All of this month's Lust List items are thing I would love to receive for my birthday!

Three Tier Pastel Glass Cake Stand
Baker & Maker, £34.95
This cake stand is absolute gorgeous. I love glassware and the pastel colours are stunning and elegant. The stands can also be used seperately.

Wilton 6 Cavity Donut Pan
Amazon, £8.26
Donuts are one of my favourite treats. One birthday I had a box of Krispy Kreme's with candles on the donuts instead of a cake! It was amazing! Although I love jam filled donuts, ring ones can be just a good when topped with different glazes.

Cook's Blowtorch
John Lewis, £19.00
I have wanted one of these for ages! And they have so many more uses than you would think. Perfect for browning meringues, finishing off a creme brulee, blackening the skin of veggies like peppers and tomatoes, making gooey marshmallows, cooking meat, melting cheese...the list goes on!

Chocolate Pizza
The Gourmet Chocolate Pizza Company, from £10.45
Ok not strictly to do with baking... but hey it's my birthday and I'll talk about chocolate pizza if I wanna! These look beyond delicious and would be an amazing alternative (or addition!) to a Birthday cake! The Honeycomb & Marshmallow flavour sounds yummy.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Monster Cupcakes

When I got offered the opportunity to review one of The Cake Decorating Store's products, I was spoilt for choice! Their website has a massive variety of products to add cute, fun and fabulous finishes to your baking creations. They have recently launched a range of Monster themed decorations so I decided to try them out and soon I received a pack of 12 Monsters in the post!

These little decorations are perfect for someone like me who is fine with baking, but who the decorating and making things look pretty part comes a little less naturally to. I neither have the skills, tools or patience to make sugar decorations! I'd much rather spend a couple of quid and have some ready made ones sent to me. These Monster Sugar Decorations are only £2.59!

Seen as the decorations were monster themed, I decided to make the cupcakes colourful and crazy - just like monsters are! I did a simple sponge by mixing together 160g caster sugar, 160g butter, 2 eggs and 160g self raising flour. I separated it and added some food colouring, then mixed the colours together in the paper cases.

 I baked them on 350F/180C/Gas Mark 4 for about 20 minutes.

This also gave me a great opportunity to use my Lakeland Duo Colour Icing Kit! This fab piping bag is split in two so you can use two different types and colours of buttercream for a variety of different effects depending on which of the six nozzles provided you use.

It was really easy to use and created this great, fun and pretty effect on the cupcakes! I will definitely be using this again!

I added a monster to each cupcake, and tucked in! Sometimes with decorations like this the taste can be strange, but I am pleased to report these melted in my mouth and tasted sugary and sweet! I took the remaining cupcakes into work for my colleagues to enjoy. They all really loved the Monster Cupcakes!

The colours are eye catching and the monster decorations are fun and quirky. These would be perfect for a kids party, I can just imagine kids loving the colours and the crazy monsters! They would also be great for Halloween, for a real spooky effect! This has encouraged me to try more decorations on my cupcakes and cakes and it's definitely an option I'll consider more in the future as now I know how easy it is to get ready made ones for very reasonable prices!

NB. I was sent the monster decorations to review, all views are my own. I was given the Lakeland piping kit in a press pack, but had wanted one for ages, again all views are my own.