Thursday, 23 October 2014

Halloween Peanut Butter Cup Pumpkin Rocky Road!

Rocky Road is one of my favourite things to make! It doesn't require you to turn on your mixer and wake a sleeping baby, or try and track down where the heck your whisk attachment has gone to (seriously whisk...where are you? my guess is lost in the move) and it can certainly be whipped up in one of the baby's shorter naps...and if you're lucky enough to live in a hot country it's good for those days when you can't bear to turn the oven on!  It is also SO versatile! It was one of the very first things I ever baked, using a recipe from one of those little random chocolate recipe books you get as a stocking filler! Go ahead and laugh at my embarrassing blog post back in 2009 where it made its debut. Since then I have jazzed it up using all of my favourite treats - Snickers and OreoReese's peanut butter, crazy amounts of coconut and festive peppermint ones plus seasonal mini egg easter ones too!

So I thought it was about time that my peanut butter rocky road got made over into a Halloween edition! because I found a bag of reese's peanut butter pumpkins in Tesco and I knew I had to use them in my kitchen! Sadly when I opened them up they didn't look like pumpkins at all! just an oval sized peanut butter cup! so I pimped them jack-o-lantern style with a little bit of orange coloured white chocolate, green sanding sugar and chocolate sprinkles and mini chocolate chips!

I'm not exactly an artist, but hopefully there's no denying now that those are pumpkins!

I even added in peanut butter m&m's too to truly amp up the peanut butter goodness involved! and with some chopped peanut butter cups making up the bulk of the add ins you just can't go wrong! Throw some marshmallows, chopped nice and chunky, and rice krispies into the mix and you've got one delicious Halloween treat!

Not a trick in sight!

Peanut Butter Cup Pumpkin Rocky Road:
Serves 9
Adapted from Cupcake Crazy Gem

400g milk chocolate
100g dark chocolate
2 tsp vegetable oil
35g rice krispies
150g marshmallows
75g peanut butter m&m's
240g peanut butter cups (approx. 16)

9 peanut butter pumpkins
60g white chocolate, I used milky bar
1/2 tsp orange food colouring
green sanding sugar
18 chocolate sprinkles
9 mini chocolate chips

Line an 8x8 dish with parchment paper.
Melt your milk and dark chocolate in a large bowl together over a pan of boiling water.  Once melted, remove from the heat and stir in the vegetable oil.  Leave to cool.

Chop your marshmallows in half, and your peanut butter cups into quarters.  Measure out your rice krispies and peanut butter m&m's.  Check that your chocolate is completely cool - you should leave it for at least 10 minutes (if it's still warm, when you add in your chocolates they will melt so the cooling process is important!)  Once it's cool, stir in all the mix ins.  Spread evenly into your baking pan.  I like to reserve back a bit of the chocolate in the bottom of the mixing bowl to use right at the end to smooth out the surface of the rocky road.

Melt your white chocolate in a small bowl in the microwave in 20 second bursts - watch it because white chocolate burns easily.  I used milky bar because the lower quality white chocolate melts far easier - don't go buying any fancy stuff for this.  Once melted stir in the orange food colouring.  Put into a piping bag and snip a tiny tip off the end.

Take 9 pumpkins, and pipe a thin edge all the way round with the orange chocolate.  Do zig zag lines in the middle of each pumpkin and at the end go back with your piping bag tip to help smooth out the chocolate until the pumpkin surface is completely covered.  Sprinkle green sanding sugar on the stem, and use 2 chocolate sprinkles for the eyes.  Place a mini chocolate chip for the nose.

Once all your pumpkins are complete, place them on top of the rocky road, pushing down slightly so they set into the chocolate.

Refrigerate for 2 hours until set, or overnight.

Eat and enjoy!

Friday, 3 October 2014

A Cupcaking Round Up from Glasgow, Edinburgh, Leeds, Liverpool, London and Ironbridge!

So we've moved...again! back to North Wales where we lived two years ago for my husband to finish off his last year of Uni.  We've been here for 3 weeks now and we've had amazing weather so we've been out and about exploring daily, showing Ella the sights and with everything basking in golden sunlight and blue skies I'm wondering what I didn't like about living here the last time around?

Oh yeah...lack of cake!

So whilst I'm dreaming about better cake days, here's a round up of all the best baked treats I've been eating over the past year!   

In Leeds on the last Saturday of every month, Kirkstall Abbey (pictured at the top) hosts a very awesome food market!

It's worth going for the Yummy Yank's stall alone! because everything's baked by an American, so what more needs to be said! Think huge slabs of rocky road bars, peanut butter bars, pecan pie bars and...

chocolate nutella cheesecake cake!
Everything I've ever tried from here is amazing!

I was also SUPER excited to discover a stall selling only Nanaimo bars! which originate from Vancouver Island and are a truly Canadian confection! It's safe to say I ate my fair share whilst we lived over there...and whilst I came across all kinds of combos - raspberry, peanut butter, mint variations...I never came across an Oreo one!

They were so tasty, and I wanted to buy every variety on the stall!!

Heading up to Scotland's my cakey round up of all things tartan and bagpipe like!

Cup is right in Glasgow's town centre, they have a cabinet filled with a good variety of cupcakes, and they also offer afternoon tea's which seemed quite popular. 

For me, their cupcakes were just okay - not particularly moist and the frosting was on the heavy side.

Just outside of the centre is Cushion & Cake, a little vintage style tearoom.  I was a little disappointed with their cake selection on the day I visited.  I had heard good things about this place but none of their flavours were that appealing to me...

until I heard them mention coconut and I was sold! It also came sandwiched with some pineapple jam, I asked them if it was homemade and they said it wasn't (insert stoney Mary Berry face here!) I would have expected a little place like this would have whipped everything up themselves! it was a pretty good cake!

My mom and sister shared the polenta cake and they weren't bowled over either! 

Next up was Cupcakery Bakehouse, whose cupcakes I really wanted to love! We went in when Ella was still a teeny tiny newborn to take away some cakes for a sweet treat! The owner would have chatted to us all day and was such a nice guy, he told us how he had gone down to London and sampled all the cupcakes down there before he opened in my head I was thinking these are going to be good!

 My husband got the ferrero rocher one, and his chocolate frosting tasted of mint! It was so weird! I don't know whether it had been next to mint flavoured ones in the cabinet or if the wrong frosting had been put on but it was just a strange combo!

 My coconut frosting on the bounty cupcake was tasty but again the chocolate cupcake part was just dry, so Glasgow really didn't impress on the cake front!

but in Edinburgh it's a whole different story and the cake scene is a whole lot tastier!

Just off the main road is Bibi's Cake Boutique specialising in cupcakes, and what a variety of flavours they had!

It was a no brainer! and I had to pick the Nutella one! A nice moist chocolate cupcake with fluffy creaming Nutella frosting - you can't go wrong!

Now my very favourite find is Love Crumbs.  I love everything about it, from the piano you can sit at that acts as a table to the little window seat if lucky enough to score it where you literally sit in the window - like you're on display or something! to their unusual flavour combos, and most of all their creamy dreamy beautifully frosted layer cakes! This place is a total winner! 

My only complaint, is that both times I've gone have been late in the day and they display their cakes in an open cabinet (which looks very cool and hip admittedly) but I'm pretty sure their cakes would be way fresher if they were contained better...

Storage issues aside,

I present the peanut butter and jelly layer cake!

Any UK cakery that presents peanut butter baked goods makes my husband do a happy dance! He was loving it!

Cheesecake swirled brownie - it's a win win!

Another time went and got peanut butter and white chocolate tart and this utterly divine mint and white chocolate brownie - see those green pieces on top - they were like mint cracknel! which features inside one of my favourite South African chocolate bars, peppermint crisp, where they found them in the UK I will never know but the baked goods are consistently inventive and amazing here! I'm still hoping to make it there one day when they have made their brownie meringue pies because they always look amazing on their IG feed!

Over in Leith, Mimi's Bakehouse had been on my to visit list of a long time! I finally made it with my mom and sister shortly before we left Scotland, which was a shame because had I discovered it sooner I would have been back for sure!!

It was very cute inside, bunting galore!

and I adored the hanging rolling pins and whisks from the wall!

Clearly, Mimi and I think alike!

This coconut slice was the dreamiest creamiest slice to ever touch my lips! I am so desperate to recreate it! a chocolate biscuit base, covered in creamy coconut with tiny coconut shreds in and topped with milk chocolate and a piece of bounty - a coconut lover's dream!

Once back in England again, we couldn't stay in Shropshire without visiting my favourite Shropshire cake establishment - Queenie's Cupcakery.

I was so pleased to see their more out their flavour combos this time around, our first visit they mostly had traditional flavours but I loved that they had branched out!

This berry cupcake was covered in cream cheese frosting, and meringue pieces and was so amazingly delicious it almost made me regret my choice...

almost but not quite because this snickerlicious cupcake was the best cupcake I've eaten all year! Now that's some compliment! The frosting was oh so silky and creamy with a little layer of peanut nougatty goodness underneath and a MOIST chocolate cake! Finally!!

Byron was also super happy with his chocolate hazelnut combo and again we couldn't get over the creaminess of that frosting!!

We took a random daytrip to Liverpool! I googled cupcakeries as you do, and came across Cuthbert's Bakehouse.  I heard their Nutella Cupcakes were worth the visit alone, I tweeted to ask if they would have them on the day we were going and they said they would make them especially - now that's service!

It was all very quaint inside...but with no cupcakes in sight we were getting worried! I asked about the Nutella cupcakes and I was told they were just coming out the oven.  So we had to wait a while for them to cool down and be frosted...but when a fresh Nutella cupcake is headed my way I can find a lot of patience!

They were SO worth the wait! and so good, that we boxed up a whole load of them to take home too! That frosting was to die for!

Sooo silky smooth! if you are ever near Liverpool, you have to detour to try on of those!
My last caking adventure ended up in London where I hadn't been for nearly 2 years! which was painful for me! I love London with a passion! and the one thing I was desperate to do was try a Nutella duffin from Bea's of Bloomsbury.  I've tried their jam duffins, but as you all know I'm obsessed with Nutella and these little beauties weren't around on my last visit.  I especially tweeted and asked if they would be in the bakery when we visited, I was assured they were made Mon-Fri.  So off we headed to their St.Pauls location which was waaaay out of our way but man I wanted a Nutella duffin! It was bank holiday so they only opened at Midday, cue sitting around in the rain waiting for 30 minutes because no other shops were open either!

and then we get inside and not a duffin in sight! Apparently they only make them at their St.Pauls store on the weekends! I was SO upset to have missed out.  We weren't going to have time to go to their other we picked up a few goodies to keep us going but I was too bitter about my poor Nutella duffin disaster to enjoy them!

The brownie was packed full of coconut and walnuts and was just the fudgy kind of delicious you expect from a brownie, and the monster peanut butter and jelly slice was pleasing my husband no end!

When I'm in a happier mood, I'm sure their key lime cupcake will hit the spot! with toasted meringue frosting and a key lime curd filling - yum!

So that's that...the one upside of a lack of tasty baked goods to buy around these parts is I will be making alot more so hopefully this blog will see more action! and you can bet it's going to be Nutella orientated ;)

Friday, 5 September 2014

No Bake Coconut & Key Lime Cheesecake

So we've been living at my parents for 7 weeks now which is partly why I haven't blogged much! I've still been baking lots, but have mostly been making requests for my family who don't get to sample my baking as much as they'd like, and so it's mostly been stuff that I've blogged about before!!

It did give me a good chance to whip these treats up though because my mom is a huge key lime pie fan, and my dad loves anything coconut - can you tell where I get it from?! So it seemed rather fitting that I should make this bake...or no bake I should say!

I also had a packet of key lime pie crunch cream biscuits I'd been hoarding because I knew they'd be awesome in a dessert one day!

So they made their way into the crust to make for one tasty slice!

Cheesecake is not something I bake very often but everytime I make it I wonder why that is...because for starters it is so quick and easy to whip up (especially when it's no bake) and also it's SO creamy and yummy! Apart from the patience required to wait while it chills at the end is not my favourite part ;)

I made my cheesecakes in an individually portioned square tray thinking it would give them nice straight edges for beautiful photographs! but somehow they still turned out a bit messy! You can make it in one large dish and probably slice nicer edges than mine!

So while we mourn the end of summer, yes I made my parents turn on the heating last week as it was getting SO cold already! and the leaves are starting to turn, booo! you can retreat with a slice of this and close your eyes and pretend you're still somewhere totally tropical whilst the lime and coconut tingle on your tastebuds!

No Bake Coconut & Key Lime Cheesecakes:
Makes 16
Adapted from Beyond Frosting 

For the crust:
300g key lime pie crunch creams (or biscuit of your choice)
80g unsalted butter

For the filling:
2 cups double cream
1/4 cup icing sugar
450g cream cheese
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp coconut extract
zest of 2 limes
1 1/2 tbsp key lime juice
1/4 cup desiccated coconut
1/2 cup shredded coconut

5 tbsp shredded coconut for decoration

 Prepare the crust by blitzing the biscuits into fine crumbs in a blender.  Melt the butter in a heatproof bowl in the microwave.  Add it to the biscuit crumbs a little at a time to see when it is moist enough to roll a ball of the mix in the palm of your hands and have it hold it's shape (if you are using biscuits without a filling, you will probably need more butter to hold it together).

Press the crust into a 9x13" pan, or individually portioned square pan.  Set aside.

Whip the double cream in a stand mixer until peaks start to form, add the icing sugar and continue whipping until still peaks form.  Transfer into a bowl and refrigerate.

Beat the cream cheese and brown sugar, with the beater attachment in a stand mixer, on high speed for 2-3 minutes.

Add coconut extract and lime zest, along with the key lime juice (or juice of the limes you have just zested if you have access to real key limes).  Beat into cream cheese until well mixed. 

Add both coconuts and beat to combine. 

Remove the cream from the fridge and gently fold into the cream cheese mixture until combined.  Take care, as you don't want to deflate the cream.

Spread over crust with a knife until distributed evenly.

Sprinkle with the extra shredded coconut.

Refrigerate for 2-4 hours.  Keep refrigerated.

Eat and enjoy!

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Nutella Stuffed Brown Butter Choc Chunk Cookies


Lately there's been a lot of cookie making going on around here! My husband LOVES cookies, and gets very excited whenever I bake any! 

I was also trying to use up that ginormous jar of Nutella as I mentioned before so a stuffed Nutella cookie seemed like as good an idea as any.  When I went to my Nutella pinterest board in search of inspiration and I found Tracey's brown butter Nutella stuffed choc chip cookies I knew I needed to look no further! 

I made up the cookie dough and kept it frozen and baked four cookies each night over the period of a week.  This was for two reasons - one, because I knew they were going to be so downright delicious that if I'd baked up all the cookies at once I would have had a hard time restraining myself to eating just a few! and two - because it gave me the opportunity to try out different methods to see which was best for stuffing the Nutella in the cookie.

Most recipes I came across seemed to use their Nutella frozen in the cookies.  This seemed like a logical idea to me - bake it frozen and in the oven it will turn into a gooey melty pool of Nutella that we know and love.  So I put my Nutella in a piping bag and piped lovely little round discs of Nutella and froze them, ready to be stuffed into the cookies.  I popped a frozen disc in the middle and baked it up.  I was SO excited to get my cookies out the oven - but when I did there was no melty pool of Nutella oozing out the middle! the disc of Nutella was still pretty solid! and more like a giant chocolate chip - that really wasn't what I was after!

So the next night, I got them out the freezer slightly earlier in the process, and thought that would help but again it didn't really melt the way I wanted it too.  Finally on the last night, I forgot about my frozen discs altogether! I dolloped a little teaspoon of room temperature Nutella in the middle of my cookie ball and squeezed the cookie dough around the Nutella, as I squeezed it together all kinds of Nutella squirted out and I had to roll it back into the cookie which left the cookie perfectly streaked - now this was my kind of Nutella cookie! Once it came out the oven, the Nutella was perfectly gooey and delicious in the centre of the cookie but also there were lovely streaks throughout the cookie.

Perfection! So if you were to bake these in your kitchen, that is the method I would recommend using! I have a feeling the pictures I took for you were on day 3 of the method testing, day 5's results were so delicious that they did not hang around to be photographed! So if you want to see that big gooey pool of Nutella oozing out a're just going to have to bake some up for yourself!

Nutella Stuffed Brown Butter Choc Chunk Cookies:
Makes 20

225g unsalted butter
300g self raising flour
1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
170g packed light brown sugar
100g caster sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp semi skimmed milk
180g milk chocolate chunks
15g grated milk chocolate
1/2 cup Nutella

 Slice up the butter thinly into chunks, and add it to a frying pan over medium heat and let it start melting.  Continue cooking, swirling the pan occasionally, until the butter becomes golden brown and smells nutty (be patient and watch carefully - it can go from brown to burnt quickly).  Pour the butter into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Let it cool.

Whisk the flour and sea salt together in a medium bowl.  Add both the sugars to the bowl of the mixer along with the cooled brown butter.  Beat on medium speed until blended.  Add the egg and egg yolk, mixing until incorporated and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Mix in the vanilla, and milk.  With the mixer on low, add the flour and salt mix in two additions, beating until just incorporated.  Add the chocolate chunks (but reserve some for adding to the top of the cookies - I like to put 3 full chunks on top of each cookie before it is baked) and grated chocolate and mix until evenly distributed. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.  Line your baking trays with parchment paper or a silpat mat. 

Using a small cookie scoop, about 2 tbsp, portion the dough into balls.  Working with one ball at a time, use your thumb to create a well in the centre of the ball.  Add a dollop of room temperature Nutella, straight from the jar, into the well and then seal the cookie dough around it so it's completely enclosed.  Repeat with all of the dough and Nutella, placing the balls of dough 2 inches apart.

 Bake the cookies for 12-14 minutes or until the edges are golden brown and set.  Let cool for 10 minutes and then transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool completely.  

These cookies are best warm from the oven, which is why it's good to freeze the dough and just bake a few as and when you want them.  Alternatively, microwave for 15-20 seconds before eating!

Eat and enjoy!


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