Friday, 29 March 2013

Easter Bunny Biscuits.

Hello....I hope you're having a nice bank hols. Are you getting an extra day off? I hope so. In fact I wish bank holidays did actually mean the whole country shut down like, I imagine, they did in the old days (you know apart from the hospitals and things). Then everyone would just plain have to get together with fun people and do fun things. 

Instead, things are moooore busy because it's start of tourist season and people want to go out and eat cake and park their car and buy the cream that they forgot went they went to the supermarket....and people have to serve the cake and check the parking tickets and stack the cream.

I suppose I should shhh really though, because I did need to buy light bulbs and food today and did. 

So anyhoo, I hope you've got something fun planned, whether you're working or not. I'm waiting on the arrival of some Somerset lovelies who I am going to ply with these biscuits in thanks for the fact that they are going to whisk me away to the homeland on Monday, after a worky weekend, the best of both worlds I guess...With Love and Cake.

Easter Bunny Biscuits.
adapted from a recipe by

A few notes:

  • You could, of course make these any shape and therefore anytime of year. They're not, in fact, strictly Easter biscuits as many Somerset people know them, which contain this weird essential oil called Cassia.
Makes 20-25
You will need

2 x baking sheets, lined (or bake in batches)
cookie cutters, these were made with a 7.5cm bunny and duck

125g butter, at room temperature
75g caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
1 egg, separated
200g plain flour
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
zest 1 lemon
zest 1 orange
75g currants
2 tbsp milk

  • Preheat your oven to 200°c.
  • In a nice big mixing bowl, beat together the butter and 75g caster sugar until light and fluffy (I used an electric hand whisk).
  • Beat in the yolk of the egg.
  • Gently fold in the flour, spices, citrus zest and currants until everything is fairly well combined.
  • Add 1 tablespoon of milk and bring everything together to form a dough...adding the extra tablespoon of milk if you need.
  • Roll out the dough to about half a centimetre thickness on a clean, floured surface and cut out your shapes.
  • Arrange the shapes on your prepared baking sheets; don't worry about giving them loads of space, they don't spread out much, and bake for 10 minutes.
  • Whisk up the saved egg white a bit and brush over each biscuit, followed by a sprinkling of caster sugar.
  • Return to the oven for another 5 minutes, when your biscuits should be just about golden all oven.
  • Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
  • Happy Easter.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Hot Cross Bun Biscuits.

Last night, the Mr and I were watching the wonderful Mr Hollywood's Bread programme and trying to work out if anyone would actually be watching it as an informative sort of thing, or whether 100% of viewers were tuning in just to get a dose of the lightly lisping and rather personable silver-topped baker....patisserie porn, you might say (I was going to link you to a Daily Mail article that came up when I Googled him; all about his new slutty baker sex-symbol-ness, but I thought you might think I actually read the DM and judge me).   

Because, you see, while I am a bit of a bread geek and fully committed to baking all we eat, I don't reeeeeeeally know anyone else that is even as remotely interested in getting their hands doughy.

It's just so hard to communicate that making bread is easy.....I guess because it takes a fair amount of time, in general, to go from start to edible loaf, it kind of comes across as a fiddle; and it's true that there are lots of steps and many variable factors, but for me, it's WAAAAY easier to make a loaf of bread than decorate a cookie or ice a cake.

 I think Mr H gets the easy-ness across fairly well, but I'm still not sure that many people will see his chat as much more than Monday night snuggle-time fodder. And that's fine....because it IS lovely to watch, and if you're going to make bread you probably won't follow a recipe from a TV show. So I'll leave persuading you to join me in bread-geek-dom for another day and hit you with a recipe for hot cross bun biscuits....see what I've done cross buns, minus the yeast part. And I really hope you make them, and then you can snuggle afterwards.....see everybody wins. With Love and Cake.

Hot Cross Bun Biscuits.
Adapted from a Women's Weekly recipe

A few notes:
  • I made these with glace cherries because I love them and had run out of mixed peel, which would give you a more traditional hot cross bunny taste. Do as you fancy or your cupboard allows.
  • If you are a big fat weirdo marzipan hater, you could make the cross out of a flour/water paste as you do with regular hot cross buns.
Makes 15-20
You will need

2 x baking sheets, lined (or bake in batches)

125g butter, at room temperature
150g caster sugar
1 egg
40g glacé cherries, rinsed, dried and chopped 
80g currants
300g self raising flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp milk (plus extra for brushing)
100g marzipan

  • So first job, as ever....pop the oven on to 160°c.
  • In a big mixing bowl, beat together the butter, caster sugar and egg until smooth and pale.
  • Stir in the currants so they are evenly distributed.
  • Gently fold in the flour, spices and 2 tsp milk...keep mixing until it comes together as a dough; it might seem like this will never happen at first but fear not, keep pressing everything together with the back of a spoon and you'll get there.
  • Pick walnut sized pieces of dough off and roll them between your palms into balls; arranging them on your baking sheet so that each biscuit has about 5cm to grow.
  • Brush each biscuit with some milk.
  • Roll out the marzipan into thin sausages and cut up into lengths the diameter of your biscuits.
  • Lay two marzipan sausages on top of each other over each biscuit to create the cross.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes, turning your trays around half way through if your oven cooks unevenly. When they're done they'll be bronze and puffed up.
  • Let sit on the baking sheet to firm up for a few minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Snuggle timmee.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Nutella Cupcakes.

I'm assuming that my last post scared you into making your own Nutella...yesyes, I can indeed talk about it forever and eternity...if you have made it you'll be able to too of course; because it's just so bloomin' marv. If you haven't made it....whaaaaaaaat? Oh you haven't got a food processor? It's ok, pop round and use mine.

If I did scare/tempt you into making might very well have a few tablespoons left. It's ooookkkkk to have gotten through 95% of it already, most of that having made it to your mouth via your fingers....don't worrrry, the only people that will judge you are the people that haven't tried it homemade and so just don't get it....their loss, they're on their way round round to my house now.....probs.

So yes, if you've managed to save a few drops...make these....they are kind of dense-brownie-ish sponge and have a secret Nutella filling and Nutella icing and Nutella on top. HeaVEN.

Okok, now I promiiiiise now to mention the N-word aaaany more...for a while anyway...I'll just have to think up something equally yumdiddlyscrumtious to take it's the kitchen I sprint. With Love and Cake.

Nutella Cupcakes.
Adapted from The Hummingbird Bakery: Cupcakes and Muffins recipe book

A few notes:
  • Of course you absolutely don't need to use homemade Nutella, the only thing that you might struggle with if you do use the bought stuff is the drizzle over the top of the buttercream because it's just not quite as drippy as homemade. No worries though, leave it off, or you could make a ganache perhaps.
  • The cupcakes proper, are rather brownie-ish and squidgy rather that light and spongey, so don't be sad if they sink in the middle a bit, that's what icing is for; no one will eveeeer knoooow.
  • I used what I would call muffin cases to make 8 of these...because that seems to be what cupcakes are these days; tall and fat...if you use the more traditional English fairy cake size cases, which have the same diameter as muffin cases but are not as tall, you'll probably get 12 from the mixture.
Makes 8-12
You will need

1 x 12 whole muffin pan, lined with cases (see notes)

For the cakes
40g butter, at room temperature
140g caster sugar
100g plain flour
2.5 tbsp cocoa
1.5 tsp baking powder
120ml milk
1 eggs, lightly beaten
120-ish-g Nutella 

For the icing
80g butter, at room temperature
250g icing sugar
2 tbsp milk
80g Nutella, plus extra for drizzling

  • First let's get that oven on to 170°c.
  • In a big mixing bowl, beat together the butter and sugar with an electric hand whisk or wooden spoon until well combined.
  • Stir in the flour, cocoa and baking powder so you have a sandy mixture.
  • Add the flour and egg and mix everything together, beating well, to a smooth mix.
  • Divide the mixture between your cases, so they are each about 2/3 full. If you have any empty holes in your muffin tin, fill them water to ensure even heat distribution in the oven.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes until the cakes are deep brown and firm in the centre.
  • Leave to cool completely on a wire rack.
  • Meanwhile, let's make the icing. Using a electric hand whisk (though a wooden spoon will do) beat the butter so it increases in volume and becomes lighter in colour.
  • Next, beat in the icing sugar, tablespoon by tablespoon; I'm sorry, at this point, a sugary kitchen is just plain inevitable, until its all incorporated and you probably have a lumpy looking mess.
  • Next beat in the milk and Nutella until you have a lovely light brown and very smooth paste.
  • Now for assembly....using a small knife, or an apple corer cut out a little plug from the centre of each cup cake.
  • Fill each hole with a teaspoon or so of Nutella and pop the little cake plug back in it's place.
  • Using a piping bag or spoon and blunt knife, ice the cupcakes, and finally drizzle over a little of that beautiful Nutella.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Nutella Swirl Bread.

If you 'like' me over on FaceyB (I'm guessing you've heard of it? It's a place, a blue place, where you can spy on all the people you went to school with and upload pictures to pretend to all your hundreds of 'friends' that your life is just sooooo much prettier and more brilliant than all the other lives and you can show allll the people alllll the pictures of your baby even though noone asked to see 1 let alone 150) you may have noticed me issuing rather strict sounding 'advice' to make Nutella NOWWWWW 1. because it's just so damn wonderful, and 2. because I would soon be hitting you with some superspesh recipes that make it the star....I mean you can't eat the whoooole jar off a spoon (haha...I jest of course).

So I hope, for all our sakes, that you heeded my sound and wise guidance and Nutella-ed yourself right up, because here is a little gem of a fancy looking, but easy to execute, recipe that means breakfast will never be the same get your Nutella fix without eeeeeven needing to spread; the knife can stay in the drawer...well unless you want butter, which, of course, you absolutely do.

And oh gosh, I just had the most magical idea....WHY DIDN'T I THINK OF IT SOONER....I need to make a pain au chocolate with homemade Nutella....drop everything, that is what I'm off to do right this second....because the texture you get from Nutella baked into bread (bears repeating I think....Nutella....baked into bread) is similar to that in pain au goes from being drippy and spreadable to more of a the most scrumptious, chocolatey way.

So if you haven't done the 'likey' thing over on probably should, I'm not sure how you'll get on with the rest of your life if you miss such important nuggets and instructions as I enforce upon you there, you know 'make Nutella NOW' is pretty life or death...and if you're a star student and have a big jar of Nutella ready and waiting....ready, steady, BAKE. With Love and Cake.

Chocolate Swirl Bread.

A few notes:
Makes 1 large loaf

You will need

A large-ish loaf tin or baking sheet, greased and lined 

500g strong white bread flour 
½ tsp fine salt 
2 tsps ‘Easy-Blend’ or ‘Active’ dried yeast 
300ml-ish of warm water 
Splosh flavourless oil (olive or veg or groundnut, whatever) 
2-3 tbsp Nutella

  • First job...weigh out the flour into a big bowl and sprinkle over the salt. 
  • Next, add the yeast to the water and give it a mix around to let the yeast dissolve a little. 
  • Now pour around 2/3 of the yeasty water over the dough and with a spread out hand, start to churn it up and mix it in. Then keep adding the rest of the water, or even a little more if you need, until it all comes together and you have a ball of soft dough and a mostly clean bowl. It’s best to err on the ‘too sticky’ side, rather than the ‘too dry’ if you’re in doubt. 
  • Put a fairly big blob of oil on a clean, dry surface and spread it out a bit with your hands. 
  • Turn the dough out on top of the oil and fold the dough around in it so it is covered all over. 
  • Knead for around 5 minutes; pushing and pulling it around and folding it on top of itself until it looks shiny and feels stretchy. Don’t worry if it sticks to the surface you are working on, it probably will a bit, just keep going and it will recollect any bits it leaves behind. 
  • Now time to pop your ball of shiny dough back into the bowl and cover with a tea towel or clingfilm...or you could put a plastic bag over the top of the bowl like I do...or use a shower cap like the Hairy Bakers do. 
  • Leave it in a cosy place for 1 to 1.5 hours; until it looks big and airy. 
  • When risen and proud, scrape the dough out of the bowl with a big metal spoon, and flop it onto a floured surface. Fold it up a few times to knock the air out.
  • Now, just using your hand, press  the dough out into a rectangle, about 35 x 23 cm.
  • Spread Nutella all over the surface of the rectangle and then roll up like a Swiss roll from one of the short ends.
  • Tuck the ends under to stop any Nutella leakage and then gently pop the dough into your tin or onto your baking sheet and leave for about 1 more hour, until it puffs up and about doubles in height. Do NOT forget about it at this point, I have, and what happens is that it gets big enough to burst, and then does and then siiiiiiiiinks. Booooo. 
  • Preheat the oven to 220˚c. 
  • Now you’re ready to bake. Pop your lovely loaf in the middle of the oven and leave for around 20-25 mins, until nice and golden and crusty looking.
  • It’s ready when knocking it on its bottom, like knocking on a door, makes it sound nice and hollow.
  • Cool on a wire rack, slice and toast. 

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Shamrock Cake Pops; My First Foray.

Look how 'bloggy' this post is....suitable holiday theme: check, specialist equipment: check, inedible looking colour: check, cakes on a stick: check.

Nono, it's fiiiiine, you don't need to tell me that if this were a rEAl bloggy blog post it would have been published days ago to give people a chance to prepare the recipe for St Patrick's day, and that my cake pops would be actual shamrock shaped and that the Candy Melts would be smooth and glossy and mirror like. I know this...but thanks any way.

This was only my first foray into the world of Cake Pop-Dom and I'll tell you, it's not exactly where I'd like to live forever. It just feels so wrong to bake a cake and mush it up and squodge it back together again. But I'll also tell you, that if you make a delicious cake, and them squodge it around with some delicious icing and then cover it with some vanilla and (while wholly unnatural looking) rather yummy tasting green stuff and put it on a stick...well my oh my you might just have a masterpiece.

Again, please don't judge my uneven coating and craggy endes and more 'spade' than was just my first go. But the taste test? Well they pass that with flying colours. With Love and Cake.

Chocolate Guinness Cake Shamrock Cake Pops.
referencing Cake Pop Recipes and Nigella

A few notes:
  • So this is, in essence, half of a Chocolate Guinness Cake, cooked as cupcakes, crumbled and squodged back together with some icing and dunked in Candy Melts. You could, of course, use any cake crumbs and icing you fancy...but I will write out the recipe, as I made it, in full for easyness.
  • If you want these to be a super neat shamrock shape, which mine are not, you could use a shamrock cookie cutter to help you mould the cake pops...I just went free hand though because the only cutters I could find were too big.
  • There are lots of steps to this...make the cake, cool the cake, squish the cake, chill the make sure you leave plenty of time between when you start and when you want them finished.
Makes 15-20 pops depending on how big you make them
You will need

1 x 12 hole muffin pan, lined with cupcake cases
baking sheet lined with greaseproof
lollipop sticks, like these
something to stand to pops in, e.g jars of sand, or a block of oasis

For the cake
125ml Guinness or dark stout
125g butter, cubed
35g cocoa
200g caster sugar
60ml sour cream
1 egg
135g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

For the icing
150g cream cheese
75g icing sugar
60ml double cream

For the green coating 
1 x 340g bag green Candy Melts

  • So first we make the cake. 
  • Preheat your oven to 180°c.
  • Pour the Guinness into a large saucepan, with the butter and heat gently until the butter has melted.
  • Whisk the cocoa and sugar into the pan and remove from the heat.
  • In a bowl, beat together the sour cream and egg and stir into the pan of Guinness.
  • Finally whisk in the flour and bicarbonate of soda until well combined.
  • Pour the dark mixture into your prepared cupcake cases and bake for about 20 minutes, until risen and springy.
  • Remove the cases from the tin and leave the cakes to cool completely.
  • To make the icing, whip the cream cheese until smooth.
  • Sieve in the icing sugar and beat to combine.
  • Add the cream and beat until smooth and spreadable.
  • Now it's time to cake pop. Remove the cakes from their cases and put them in a big mixing bowl. Get your hands in there and squish and scrunch them all up so they end up being the texture of breadcrumbs. 
  • Now stir in the icing...starting with about 100g and adding more if you need. Mix it all up, either with your hands or the back of a metal spoon so eventually you get a paste/dough that starts to stick together.
  • To make the shamrocks, pick off walnut sized pieces or the dough, roll it up in the palms of your hands to a dense ball, and then roughly shape it into a clover shape by squishing out the 3 parts of the leaf and a little stalk.
  • Lay these shaped cakes onto a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper and chill, either for a few hours or overnight in the fridge or for 30 minutes or so in the freezer.
  • When the shamrocks are chilled and firm, go over the shapes to make make them a bit more refined; you might find using a table knife helpful to push bits down and shape the leaf useful.
  • Now for the green part. Melt the Candy Melts either in a bain Marie or in the microwave. 
  • Dunk a lollipop stick in the Candy Melts, and push halfway into the shamrock from the bottom.
  • Repeat so all the shamrocks are on sticks and chill again for a few minutes to allow the Candy Melts to set and attach the sticks.
  • Final part now, if you need to soften the Candy Melts a bit more, give them another blast in the microwave and dunk each cake pop in to give them a good coating.
  • I found I needed to smooth the Candy Melts over the cake a bit with a spatula to get a shiny finish.
  • Stand the cake pops up any way that is easiest for you, I used jars of sand and allow to dry. Close your eyes and forgive any lumps and bumps.....mmmmmm.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Ginger and Apricot Super Bars. I'm going to tell you about my spinning snacks. Now yes, I know that these rather average looking bars look all sweet and pretty on the lovely white tablecloth (an actual real, handmade heirloom tablecloth no less), but prettyness and lovelyness is not what these chaps are about...nono. These are 'pack as much power into as small a space as you can so you can eat them before an evening's spinning and not feel full and have enough energy to climb the imaginary hills and sprint the imaginary finish and not die' bars. Got it.

Have you ever spun before? You should. See I pretty much hate cycling, give me a hill and I'll run up it on two legs all day long (when my broken body will let me), but 2 thanks. So it's kinda odd that I LOVE spinning...maybe it's just that I reallyreally love anything that makes sweat drip off the end of my nose. Mmmm, whenever I mention that to anyone else though, I doooooo always get the feeling that I'm alone in my enjoyment of sweating, so apologies if that is just too much info.

But anyways, if you've ever spun before, you'll know that it is HARD...if you're trying to make it hard, there are always lightweights that cheat of course, but we just feel sorry for them for not being allowed in our 'hardcore club' yeah?....and that doing it at 6pm having not eaten since lunchtime is most probably a recipe for disaster/migrane (yup...beeeeeeen there).

So here we have the solution....and any problem that is solved by condensed is worth some attention in my book...special spinning snacks, or snacks for any occasion that requires drippy sweat, or steely nerves or bulgy muscles. I hope they help get you through...see you on the (pretend) road. With Love and Cake.

Ginger and Apricot Breakfast Bars.
Adapted from a Nigella Express recipe

A few notes:
  • Of course you can get creative with what you add to the bars...up the seeds a bit maybe, or include 125g chopped nuts, change the dried fruit...the choices are fairly endless.
  • These bars stiffen up as they cool, so it's important that you remove them from the baking parchment you've lined your tin with, before they cool too much, otherwise you'll never be able to pull them off the paper...and that's not exactly a complementary flavour.
Makes 16
You will nedd

a Swiss roll tine or shallow baking tray, approx 33 x 23 x 2cm, lined

1 x 397g tin of condensed milk
250g rolled oats
75g dessicated coconut
50g dried apricots, roughly chopped
50g crystallised ginger, roughly chopped
30g golden linseeds 

  • Preheat the oven to 130°c.
  • Gently heat the condensed milk in a pan until warm.
  • Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix together the rest of the ingredients.
  • Pour the warm condensed milk into the bowl and give everything a good mix until everything is really well combined.
  • Spread the mixture out evenly in your lined tray and bake for 1 hour.
  • When firm and a little bit golden, remove the tin from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes.
  • Pull the mixture out of the tin, still attached to the greaseproof paper that you used to line the tin, and set on a chopping board.
  • Cut into squares and peel away the greaseproof paper.
  • Leave to cool completely on a wire rack.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Pound Cake Hearts.



Now you know I could be alllll lovely-dovey allllll day but I have to stop just for a sec so I can tell you about the clever thing that make these little heart shapes so red and hearty. You see I work for lovely Pots and Pans and we've just got new exciting things for our cakes decorating shelves in our lovely St Andrews shop. Have you heard of Candy Melts? Because we got some and I was excited because all the fancy American blogs that people do as an actual job use them to make cakes look not like cakes but some mega special art thing and as the shop's 'resident baker' it was my official job to Candy Melt test and here is what happened......

....great colour and shine (as long as you don't carry them around in a box and let them tumble around on top of each other), a little wobbly round the edges but I think that's just practice and knowing what jobs are best suited, and a flavour that's too good for how little actual food must be involved with making something so useful and something so red! So if you see them...and want to make cake look un-cake-like, buy them...I'm not exactly sure where else you'll find them in the UK....looks like a trip to Fife for you all it is then. With Love and Cake.

Pound Cake Hearts.

A few notes:
  • I know you're meant to give pound cake recipes in, you know, pounds, but it's 2013 and I live in the UK......
  • Don't throw away any cake that didn't make it into hearts, pop it in the freezer and use it for things like trifle or any time that you need cake crumbs (cake pops etc).
Makes around 18 hearts
You will need

1 x small brownie pan or baking tray, approx 27x20x3cm, lined
1 x 5cm-ish heart cutter

For the cake
110g butter, at room temperature
110g caster sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch salt
125g plain flour

For the coating

  • Preheat the oven to 180°c.
  • Beat the butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl with an electric hand whisk (or wooden spoon if you're feeling energetic) until pale and fluffy looking.
  • Beat in the eggs, one at a time, followed by the vanilla and and salt.
  • Finally, fold in the flour gently until just combined.
  • Spread the mixture out in your prepared tin and bake for 25 minutes, or until the cake is firm and golden.
  • Remove the cake, still attached to the greaseproof paper that lined the tin, to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • When cold, stamp out as many hearts as possible using your cutter.
  • Now for the red. Treat the Candy Melts exactly like melt slowly and do not get any water aaaannnywhere near. I melted mine in a bowl in my microwave at 50% power, over 30 second blasts. Once they're mostly melted, don't heat any more, just set aside for a few minutes and they will get glossy and the residual heat will melt the final lumps.
  • Using a teaspoon, spread a thin layer of melted Candy Melts over each heart...this can be a sort of crumb layer, where all the loose bits of cake can get set in the layer, so the final layer is smooth.
  • When the crumb layer is mostly set, use a fresh teaspoon to cover all the hearts in another layer of Candy Melts (you can give them another quick blast in the microwave if they need melting down a bit); making sure this layer is smooth and shiny.
  • Eat and be aaaaall loveydovey.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013


So I've found it....that elusive resource that will keep our world light when the coal mines run out of coal and the nuclear people run out of space to put their glow-ey nuclear mess. It's not wind (though I do think those wind turbines are beautiful and majestic) and it's not solar (YeY, send all the rays to ME, a tan would be grEAt right now) is NUTELLA.

Nonooooo...not Nutella Nutellaaaa. But the original gianduja paste thingumyjig that is reeeeaally made of nuts and is tarditional in Italy and therefor by default a classy thing to make and eat and you must absolutely NOT feel guilt towards.

So let's breakdown it's brilliance.

No. 1. see above.

No. 2. it is made of nuts, soso many nuts. I've done the calculations and it is 53% hazelnuts. None of this "15g contains 2 whole hazelnuts" malarky, 15 grams of this miracle potion will be over half hazelnuts and get this...nuts are BRILLIANT for you. They give you shiny hair and bendy joints and a speedy brain and a generally lovely spring in your step. It's HEALTHY.


Ok sorrysorry, I'm getting carried away. But this possibly is just one of the most exciting days that has ever been...I mean, I solved the energy crisis! Healthy, clean and sustainable fuel for us all, it's the new black gold....and did I mention it tastes like Nutella. I'm off for a lie dawn...all this excitement....With Love and Cake.

Homemade Nutella.
Adapted from a Smitten Kitchen recipe

A few notes:
  • I'm afraid this is not the sort of recipe that I can say 'don't worry if you don't have a food processor' amount of chopping is going to get you the desired effect here...whizzy blades are a must.
  • In theory you could use any nut to make this...and I assure you that I will and will fill you in with all the deets. 
  • This will keep well for over a week in the which case it will get quite firm, so if you want it a bit runnier, let it get to room temperature before you use it.
Make 1 large jar
You will need

300g hazelnuts
65g cocoa powder
155g icing sugar
3 tsp flavourless oil (veg, sunflower etc)
pinch salt

  • Preheat the oven to 180°c.
  • Spread the nuts out on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 10 minutes until bronzed and smelling divine.
  • Now we need to remove the skins...this isn't difficult, just a teensy bit messy. All you do is put the toasted nuts in the middle of a clean tea towel and fold up the tea towel around the nuts.
  • Rubrubrub the nuts with between the layers of tea towel and you will find that the majority of the skins easily flake off; you don't need to be overly fastidious, just make sure most of the loose skin is freed.
  • Pick the skinless hazelnuts out and pop them in your food processor.
  • Discard the skins...I just flapped the tea towel around outside and left them for the birds.
  • Now for the miraculous bit....process the nuts for about 5 minutes; first they will get chopped up, then you will have a grainy paste, and eventually they will 'liquify', which is when some oil is separated and you have something that looks more like a nut butter or a smooooooth paste.
  • Add the cocoa, icing sugar and 2 tbsp of the oil and process for another minute or so.
  • If you want the mixture to be a bit looser add the rest of the oil and whizz again...otherwise your ready for Nutella in a jar, or ready yourself with a spoon.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Salted Dark Chocolate Espresso Cookies.

If you have never baked something from here before....maybe you just stop by to hear my hilARious prose and anecdotes about the weather and running around North Fife like a crazy person, and that's ok, but some times I find things that are just so delicious and easy and CHOCOLATEY that I reaaaaallly want you to share it with if you've never baked something from here before, heck maybe you've never baked anything from anywhere before, you MUST (yes, I know you love it when I am masterful) make these beauties.

Don't let the 'salted' thing fool you into thinking they are somehow too fancy for a non-baker, it means 'sprinkling over some salt'...not fancy. Same with the espresso thing, leave that part out if it bothers you...the taste isn't overly strong anyway.

What is strong however, is the craaaaazy deep dark taste and bitter sweet squodge of goodgood dark chocolate. No cocoa , just full on, almost 300g worth of chocolatechocolatechocolateeyness. And what that means is that while these have the bendy middle of cutey cookies; you know, the milk and cookies thing that is oh so American to us Brits, they actually have the air of something a million times more sophisticated than anything you'd have with milk and feed to a child.

These are definitely dessert suitable cookies, maybe next to ice cream or with coffee if you're one of those 60's housewives that really does throw dinner parties (can I come?). So go forth non-bakers and bake, and already-bakers, I knew the title alone would persuade you. With Love and Cake.

Salted Dark Chocolate Espresso Cookies.
Adapted from Desserts for Breakfast.

A few notes:
  • Instant espresso powder is not the same as instant'll find it in the same supermarket aisle but do make sure it's espresso powder.
  • The recipe I originally came across uses smoked sea salt. While I'd like to try that version too, I felt that these might have enough flavour going on for that sort of thing so I went for lovely pure Cornish Sea Salt. They do do a smoked version should you fancy giving it a try though, as do Maldon, which I've seen in several supermarkets.
  • Excuse the weird measurements here; as is often the case, it's because the recipe was originally measured in American cups.
You will need

2xbaking sheets, lined (or bake in batches)

284g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
53g butter
2 eggs
267g caster sugar
1 1/2 tsp instant espresso powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
43g plain flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
sea salt for topping

  • Melt 170g of the chocolate with the butter, either in a microwave or double boiler, so it is smooth and glossy.
  • In a nice big mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, espresso powder and vanilla extract for a few minutes (I used an electric hand whisk) until pale coffee coloured and increased in volume.
  • Fold through the flour, baking powder, pinch of salt and melted chocolate in batches, followed by the rest of the chocolate chunks.
  • Chill the mixture in the fridge for 1 hour (or freezer for 30 minutes) to firm up.
  • Preheat the oven to 180°c.
  • Pop heaped dessert spoonfuls of dough onto your baking sheets, leaving a few centimetres gap for spreading.
  • Sprinkle a little bit of salt on top of each ball of dough.
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes until spread out and crackly looking but still squishy in the middle.
  • Leave the cookies to firm up on the baking trays for 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Eat and swoon.