Chocolate Nutella Cupcakes – A WI Special

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Everyone loves a good cupcake, don’t they? Yup. What do people love more than cupcakes?

Chocolate cupcakes.

Add Nutella to that, and, well, that’s probably my dream cupcake.

I made these cupcakes for the WI.RED February meeting (I wrote about our meeting on Thursday). Every month we serve hot drinks and cakes at our meetings, and I’m not ashamed to admit that this is one of my favourite parts of the evening – I love to see what people have made! And of course, I love to taste them! Yum.

This month, it was my turn to contribute. I wanted to make something delicious (well, you can’t take just any old cake along to the WI can you?!). But, as I’m sure is the case for most of you, I also have a day job, and so didn’t have that much time between getting home from work and going back out again to the meeting.

I needed something quick and easy but scrummy. No-one wants their cakes to be left on the table at the end of the night do they?! I wanted to make something people just couldn’t say “no” to.

This recipe is a bit of a fail-safe of mine. The cupcake recipe is from The Hummingbird Bakery – you can visit their website here.

Literally EVERY recipe I’ve ever used from them has turned out amazingly well, and this one is no exception.

I made my own Nutella buttercream to go on top, and voila! Delicious, professional looking cupcakes (well I think so anyway!).

Put it this way, they all disappeared and there weren’t any complaints!

Ingredients

For the cupcakes

80g unsalted butter, softened

280g caster sugar

200g plain flour

40g cocoa powder

1 tbsp baking powder

240ml milk

2 large eggs

For the buttercream

200g unsalted butter, softened

300g icing sugar

3-4 heaped tbsp Nutella

A drop of milk

 

Method

— Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celcius. Line a muffin tin with cupcake cases. This recipe should make around 16 cupcakes.

— Measure out the butter, sugar, flour, cocoa powder and baking powder into a bowl and mix until it’s combined. It will look quite dry, like breadcrumbs. I used my KitchenAid which made the whole process easy peasy.

— Pour the milk into a jug, add the eggs and whisk. Then add these to the dry ingredients, a little at a time, until everything is all mixed in nicely.

— Spoon the batter into the cupcake cases, filling them to about two thirds full. Bake for around 20 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool completely.

— To make the buttercream, beat the butter until its creamy, then add the icing sugar and Nutella and stir until combined. Again, I like to do this in the KitchenAid (make sure you cover the bowl with a towel or you’ll get icing sugar EVERYWHERE – I’ve learnt this from experience! Test the consistency – add a drop of milk if it’s a bit dry, or more icing sugar if it’s a bit wet. I like it very Nutella-y so I may have snuck in a few more spoonfuls… But have a taste. Add more if you like.

— Then, apply the buttercream to the cupcakes however you like! I used a piping nozzle, but you could just put it on with a knife and smooth it around.

There we have it! Apologies for the lack of photos but I was a bit pushed for time and forgot!

 

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Recipe – My Jazzy Victoria Sponge

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When is a Victoria sponge not a Victoria sponge? When it’s multicoloured!
That’s right people. Whilst this may be a pretty standard Vicky sponge recipe, the end product looks anything but.
It was Mike’s birthday recently and I invited his family around for tea and cake. I have been known to go a little overboard when inviting people around for cake (you can never have too much variety!), so I was pretty restrained and just made a Victoria sponge, and some Red Velvet Cupcakes, with two different types of icing (white chocolate and Nutella, if you were wondering).
I chose a Victoria sponge as it’s Mike’s niece’s favourite cake. But let’s be honest, it’s not very special, is it? Yes, it’s a classic, but it doesn’t wow you.
And then it came to me. Make it multi coloured! It looked SO effective – my only regret is that with having lots of people over, I didn’t get much chance to take very good pictures. But let me assure you, this cake looked awesome.
It’s a Mary Berry recipe (if anyone knows how to make sponge cake it’s her), taken from my Baking Bible Cookbook. Regular readers will know how much I love this book and that I’m slowly but surely working my way through it. Once the batter was made, I threw in some mutlicoloured sprinkles. I got mine for 99p from my local B&M (a bargain store a little bit like Wilkinsons). I was a little concerned that they would stay crunchy, but they just melted inside the batter leaving bright spots of colour!

Ingredients
For the cake
225g butter, softened
225g caster sugar
4 large eggs
225g self raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
50g sprinkles

Strawberry jam

For the buttercream
100g butter, softened
140g icing sugar, sifted
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
A drop of milk

Method

— Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celcius. Grease and line two 20cm sandwich tins.
— Measure out the butter, sugar, eggs, flour and baking powder into a bowl and mix on a medium speed (or by hand) until thick, creamy and lump free. Add in the sprinkles and stir to combine. Don’t stir too much, as depending on which sprinkles you use, their colours may bleed.
— Divide the mixture between two tins equally and bake for around 25 minutes, until they are golden and springy to the touch.
— Leave to cool completely. Meanwhile, make the buttercream. Using a KitchenAid or electric mixer, beat the butter until creamy, then sift in the icing sugar. Add the vanilla essence and beat for 2-3 minutes. If the buttercream is too stiff, add a drop of milk at a time until the correct consistency is achieved.
— Once the cakes are completely cool, spread a layer of jam onto the top of one cake, then a layer of buttercream on top again. Sandwich the other cake on top and sift over some icing sugar to finish off. I used some gummy heart sweets to create a heart pattern on the cake.

And there you have it! Any easy but effective way a liven up a normal Victoria sponge. Try it with the kids – they’ll love it!

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Cadbury’s Creme Egg Brownies – Much Requested Recipe!

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I’ve got a bit of a back-log going on. I’ve made quite a lot of things which I am planning on giving you the recipes for, and this particluar bake is way down the list chronologically.

But since I made it, I’ve had SO many people asking for the recipe, I had no other option but to bump it up the list!

This Creme Egg Brownie recipe has been doing the rounds on Facebook for the last couple of weeks, and was brought to my attention when my cousin messaged me the link with the message “Saw this and thought it’d be something you would rock at making!”. That was it. The same day, I was in our local supermarket, buying any ingredients that I didn’t already have.

Although there are a fair amout of ingredients, I was quite happy to see there was nothing really out of the ordinary, and apart from the creme eggs I had almost everything in my baking drawer already.

So I got to baking. I can’t tell you how excited I was by these, and I think my friends were, from the reaction I had on Facebook and Instagram! By the way, if you would like to follow me on Instagram just search for me under meow_2u.

Once these were done, I just had to try them out, and OMG they were pretty amazing. They are described as a brownie, but I would probably say the bottom layer is a cross between a cookie and a brownie. They’re to die for, either way.

This recipe is adapted from the recipe which was going round Facebook. It was originally posted by Scarletscorchdroppers, but I, as usual, felt the need to tweak it a little.

**WARNING** – These are the most yummy, sickly, sweet brownies you may ever consume. You’ll eat one and say to yourself “That was so sweet, I couldn’t possibly eat another”… And fifteen minutes later you’ll be back having another. Just don’t blame me if you put on weight, that’s all I’m saying 😉

Ingredients

For the brownies

175g dark chocolate, broken into pieces

110g butter

85g plain flour

2 tbsp cocoa

140g caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 medium eggs (I used 3 small eggs), beaten lightly

One bag of mini Creme Eggs (8 eggs)

For the creme layer

85g golden syrup

2tbsp butter

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

170g icing sugar, sifted

For the chocolate layer

100g milk chocolate, broken into pieces

30g butter 

Method

— Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Grease and line a baking tin. I used a silicone square 20cm x 20cm tin, but use whatever you have, as long as the sides aren’t too low. You’ll have a few layers to build up!

— Make the brownie layer. In a pan, gently melt the dark chocolate and butter. You could do this in a bain marie as well, or the microwave. Just be careful to keep a really close eye on it and keep stirring it, otherwise it’ll burn. Once they’re melted, take off the heat and leave to cool a little.

— Chop the mini Creme Eggs in half. They have a natural seam in the middle so it’s easiest (and cleanest!) to cut along here. Try not to crack the egg, and to preserve as much of the inside of the eggs as possible.

— Place the flour, cocoa, caster sugar, vanilla extract and eggs into another bowl and combine. Add the cooled chocolate/butter mixture and give a stir. Turn out into your prepared tin. Place the creme eggs face up into the brownie mixture – I did four rows of four. That way when the other layers go on top and you come to cut them you’ll have an idea of where the eggs are hiding. The idea is to get a half-egg in each slice of brownie. Bake in the oven for around 25 minutes, then leave to cool completely in the pan.

— Make the creme layer. I used my KitchenAid for this part, although you can easily do it by hand. Put the golden syrup, softened butter and vanilla in a bowl and beat together on a medium speed until combined. *TIP* – When measuring the golden syrup, coat a spoon in oil and scoop the syrup out of the can. The oil will allow the syrup to slip easily off and not stick.

— Slowly add the icing sugar, and continue to mix until it’s creamy. Add a drop of milk if the mixture is too firm; it should be easy to spread but firm enough to hold its shape. Spread the creme layer on top of the cooled brownie and pop it in the fridge to chill for at least an hour.

— Make the chocolate layer. I did this in a bain marie. Place a bowl over a pan of simmering water, and put in the milk chocolate and butter. Melt them together, leave to cool a little, then spread over the chilled creme layer. Put it back in the fridge for a bit.

Cut into 16 squares. I couldn’t resist and had to try out a piece almost immediately. I have no patience. Or willpower.

Be careful if you’re transporting these anywhere – once cooled I cut mine and put them in a tupperware to take to work. Big mistake! They all stuck together. They still tasted great but looked pretty rubbish in the end. Ah, well.

 

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Mary Berry’s Baking Bible Recipe #2 – Carrot Cake

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I don’t know about you, but whenever I get a new cookbook, I get a little bit over-excited and want to bake EVERYTHING, NOW. And I would as well, but unfortunately there are little things like MONEY and WORK which get in the way. Pah, who needs those anyway?!

As the title of this post suggests, said cookbook would be Mary Berry’s Baking Bible. I talked about this in an earlier post, but suffice to say I still love it. For those of you who are just starting out in baking it’s a must. GO OUT AND BUY IY NOW. Or at least go on Amazon… That way you won’t need to leave the comfort of your sofa!

I promised a friend I would make him a cake and asked if he had any requests. He asked for carrot cake. I didn’t need to think twice about where to look for such a classic recipe and as soon as I got home I checked my baking cupboard to make sure I had walnuts. Does anyone else get too excited about the thought of baking to check they have all of the required ingredients, only to get to a critical point and realise you’re missing something which you just can’t do without? Cue made rush to the shops/neighbours/24 hour garage. Yup, that’s me, and I don’t know why but I ALWAYS forget the walnuts in carrot cake.

So, walnuts, check.

Onto the recipe.

 

Ingredients

For the cake

2 ripe bananas

225g self-raising flour

2 level teaspoons baking powder

150g light brown sugar

50g chopped walnuts

100g grated carrots

2 large eggs

150ml sunflower oil

For the topping

175g soft cheese

50g butter, softened

200g icing sugar, sifted (MB’s recipe calls for 100g but I found that the mixture was too runny)

A few drops of vanilla extract

Walnut halves to decorate

 

Method

— Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Grease and line a 20cm cake tin. I used a square silicone one (has anyone else used silicone bakeware? Saves on the greaseproof paper!).

— Mash your nanas. I used my KitchenAid on a medium level and the were goo in no time. Using the same bowl, chuck all of your remaining cake ingredients in. Just whack them all in 🙂 Give it a good mix until all combined, and then tip into the prepared tin.

— Bake for between 50-60 minutes. Check your cake is cooked by… Actually, no, I’m not going to say it. You all know how to check whether your cake is cooked! Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes, then turn it out onto a copoling rack and leave to cool completely.

— For the topping, put all of the ingredients (except the walnuts) into a bowl and mix until just combined. Don’t mix it for too long because the cream cheese can loosen and become runny. I did this and my topping ended up as more of a glaze. It was still nice though 🙂

— Decorate with the walnuts, then tuck in!

It is quite a stodgy carrot cake, but I enjoyed it and it certainly didn’t last long!

What to make next from the baking bible?!

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Queen Mary’s Lemon Drizzle Traybake

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Before Christmas, my friends and I met up for our annual girl’s Christmas meal. We always do a Secret Santa, and this year I received some awesome presents: a two tier cake stand and Mary Berry’s Baking Bible cookbook. Mary Berry, you may or may not be aware, is my absolute heroine. I LOVE her, and anything Berry related. I’m slightly obsessed (although I hope in a nice-admiration-I-wish-you-were-my-nan kind of way, as opposed to slightly-scary-stalker way).

Seriously, I love this book. I’ve already spent hours reding through it and deciding what to bake and in what order. I’m considering a “Julie & Julia” style project working my way through the entire book – what do you think, shall I do it? My workmates could benefit from this greatly, but my waistline I fear may not…

So, I had a compulsion to bake. Do you ever get that? When you just have to bake SOMETHING? Anything? Most of the time it’s not even that I want to eat it, it’s the process. Baking for me is my relaxation and my therapy.

I searched through the book – I wanted to make something classic but tasty and what better than a Lemon Drizzle Cake? Mary Berry makes this as a tray bake, so I decided to do the same.

I’m not just saying this, but this cake was great. Light, lemony and sweet. The syrup for the topping was crunchy and thick, just how I like it.

This is me, baking Mary’s recipe, in my own words. But it’s definitely her recipe, I couldn’t take credit for such perfection! I thought I’d taken pictures of making this but I obviously forgot – Oops, sorry!

Ingredients

For the cake:

225g unsalted butter or Stork, softened
225g caster sugar
275g self raising flour
2 level tsp baking powder
4 large eggs
4 tbsp milk
Zest of 2 lemons

For the crunchy topping:

175g caster sugar
Juice of 2 lemons

Method

— Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius. Line a 30x23cm tin with baking paper.

— Put all the cake ingredients into a bowl and mix until fully combined. I used my KitchenAid on a medium setting. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and level, then bake for around 35 minutes. The cake should be golden brown and springy to touch.

— Allow the cake to cool slightly in the tin. Mix the remaining sugar and lemon juice until it’s runny. Turn the cake out onto a wire rack, and place a plate underneath to catch any drips.

— Using a skewer or toothpick, poke holes all over the top of the cake to allow the drizzle to penetrate right through. Then spoon the drizzle mixture over the cake and leave to cool completely.

Once cooled, cut into slices and enjoy 🙂 This cake is wonderfully light and moist, and will keep well in an airtight container for at least 3 days, although it didn’t last that long in our house!

If you’re interested in the book, you can buy it here. I’d highly recommend it for both baking newbies and the more experienced cook – there is something for everyone in there.

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Recipe – Chocolate Caramel Swirl Cheesecake

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Christmas is over, and now is the time when I will have to stop ignoring the fat content of my food and start eating a bit sensibly. Also, if you read my New Year’s post, you’ll know that I’m giving up dairy for health reasons. HOWEVER – my dairy abstinence started on New Year’s Day, and I made and ate this at Christmas, so it’s fine!

This recipe was one I made for Christmas Day as an alternative to the traditional pud. It’s originally from the Hummingbird Bakery (a must-visit next time I go to London!), but I’ve adapted it a little, as usual. I seem unable to properly stick to a recipe. But, hey. It turns out ok most of the time!

This is a baked cheesecake. In the past I’ve been a little wary of baked cheesecakes as there’s so much that can go wrong… This one turned out brilliantly. It’s cooked in a water bath to stop the top from cracking and make sure that the cheesecake cooks evenly. Don’t be put off by the water bath, it’s nothing to be scared of! My only tip would be if you are using a loose-bottomed tin, make sure that the tin is wrapped securely in several layers of kitchen foil, to stop any water from seeping in and ending up with a soggy bottom.

The original recipe called for the base to be made out of digestive biscuits, but I only had Oreos, so used them instead. So, here we go…

Ingredients

220g Oreo biscuits
100g unsalted butter or Stork, melted
700g cream cheese eg Philidelphia
120g caster sugar
3 large eggs
50g dulce de leche – I used tinned Carnation Caramel
50g dark chocolate, melted
Another 4 tbsp caramel, as above

Method

— Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius. Using a loose-bottomed 20cm cake tin, line the base with greaseproof paper, then wrap the tin as above in kitchen foil. Make sure the whole outside of the tin is covered in at least 3 layers of foil to prevent any water from getting in.

— Tip the biscuits into a food processor and blitz into fine crumbs. Mix the crumbs with the melted chocolate and press into the base of the tin. Pop it in the fridge whilst you make the rest of the cheesecake (at least 20 minutes).

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— Put the cream cheese and caster sugar into the bowl of your stand mixer and beat together on a medium speed until smooth. You can obviously use a bowl and spoon if you don’t have a stand mixer! With the mixer still going, add the eggs one at a time until combined. Set aside one third of the mixture. Add the tinned caramel to the remaining mixture and pour it onto the biscuit base. The mixture will be quite runny.

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— Add the melted and slightly cooled chocolate to the reserved cheesecake mixture. Pour into the tin on top of the caramel mixture, then use a skewer, or the end of a knife to swirl the two together.

— Fill a roasting tin with hot water and place the cheesecake tin into it to form your water bath. The water should come about an inch from the top of the tin. Bake in the oven for around 40 minutes. The cheesecake will be done when the top is firm to the touch but the cheesecake has a little wobble to it. Remove the foil and leave it to cool completely in the tin, and put in the fridge to chill for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.

!

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— For the final touch, spread the 4 tbsp caramel over the top with a pallette knife, if you have one.

There you have it, Chocolate Caramel Swirl Cheesecake! Not fot the faint hearted, the healthy or the lactose intolerant, but a great dessert for a dinner party

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Recipe – Gingerbread Cupcakes with White Chocolate Frosting

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I hope you’ve had a great Christmas! I’ve been spoilt rotten with some lovely presents, a lot of which were kitchen-related. They included a gorgeous baby pink polka dot rolling pin, a glass cake stand, a new pallet knife, a couple of cook books, a cupcake stand and a KitchenAid Pasta Maker attachment – yay! I’ve had a few weeks of eating like a piggy, so now I’m trying to rein it in a little bit (although I can’t be completely good until after the new year as we have lots planned!).

This recipe doesn’t help in my quest for healthiness – it produces one of the yummiest, most flavoursome cakes I’ve made.

I promised you this a couple of weeks ago, and here it is. This is one of the best ever cupcake recipes, and they were my contribution to our December WI Christmas Feast Meeting. They went down a treat and I was so pleased to see them all disappear quickly!

I can’t take credit for this concoction, I saw this recipe on one of my favourite blogs and knew I’d have to try it. Check out the site at www.sallysbakingaddiction.com – there are some really great ideas on there for baking!

Sally originally made these cupcakes with a sweet cream cheese frosting, but I didn’t fancy that so made some white chocolate icing to top them with – for me it was the perfect pairing. I’ve got to warn you – halfway through this recipe it begins to look a bit wrong and curdled. I have to admit, I was VERY concerned. But embrace it, go with it, and it’ll turn out perfect, I promise.

You HAVE to make these cupcakes – they will make your life. Thanks to Sally for a great recipe!

Ingredients

For the cupcakes
115g unsalted softened butter
100g dark brown sugar
1 large egg
120ml milk
150g black treacle
1 tsp vanilla extract
170g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground allspice

For the frosting
110g unsalted softened butter
250g icing sugar, sifted
150g white chocolate, melted

Method

— Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius and fill a 12-hole muffin tin with cupcake cases.

— In your bowl or KitchenAid, cream together the butter and brown sugar on a medium speed. Beat in the egg, then mix in the milk, treacle and vanilla. This is the point at which the mixture will look scary and you’ll be tempted to throw it in the bin! Don’t. Have faith. It’ll all be ok!

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— Add in the dry ingredients and mix on a low speed until just combined. Fill your cupcake cases to about 2/3 full, then bake for 20 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out mostly clean. Take the cakes out of the tin and place on a rack to cool completely.

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— For the frosting, use your stand mixer or electric whisk to beat together the butter and half of the icing sugar. Once it’s incorporated, add in the rest of the sugar. Remember to cover the bowl with tea towel to avoid a snow storm! Pour in the melted chocolate and leave the machine on a medium speed for 2-3 minutes until it’s light and creamy. Add a little milk if it’s too dry and a little more sugar if it’s too runny.

— Ice your cupcakes with a pallette knife or a nozzle and piping bag. Sit down with a cup of tea and enjoy! Yum!

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