Thursday, 29 September 2011

Mint Oreo Brownies....just because!

Remember how my sisters brought me back an amazing stash of goodies from California? Well, among everything was 2 whole packs of Mint Oreos which are my absolute fave! and we don't get them here in England.  I've been debating for a while what I'm going to bake with them. I know it has to be SUPER special because when they're gone, they're gone! and I won't be getting anymore for a while! but it's taking me so long to dream up the perfect treat to use them with that I got desperate...I caved...

and I sneaked a few into these brownies! because I had to! 

The brownie recipe came from my blissful brownies recipe book that I have shamefully never used before but now that we have moved and are back in our own house again, I have been reunited with all my baking books so I thought it was high time I used one of them! 

Chocolate Mint Oreo Brownies 
(Makes 12 brownie squares)

115g unsalted butter
115g plain chocolate
300g golden caster sugar
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
140g plain flour
2 tbsp cocoa powder
8 mint Oreo cookies

Preheat oven to 180 degrees c.
Melt butter and chocolate in a small heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water
Leave to cool slightly.  Stir in the sugar, salt and vanilla extract.
Add the eggs, one at a time and beat until well blended.
Sift the flour and cocoa powder into the mix and beat until smooth.
Pour the mixture into your pre greased tin.
Break up Oreos on top of batter.
Bake in the oven for 35 minutes, or until a skewer comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached.

You must bake these...because they're delish! and if you're not lucky enough to live in the States and have easy access to Mint Oreos you can substitute with them with regular ones (and then feel sad about the fact English people aren't privileged enough to be blessed with such yumminess)

In other cupcake related news, don't ever think about moving to North Wales (like me) if you're cupcake crazy! My nearest proper cupcake fix is now more than an hour away, and don't get me started on the local bakeries here.  I'll save that post for another day! 

Monday, 19 September 2011

Red Velvet & Brownie Wedding Cupcakes...for a very special wedding!

Shall I tell you every bakers worst nightmare, or let me rephrase that...every English bakers worst nightmare - 1. Red Velvets, 2. Red frosting!!
Guess what Laura wanted me to make for her wedding, red velvet cupcakes and brownie cupcakes with the dreaded red frosting!!! Already I was foreseeing stressful times ahead! 

Let me explain why...baking up a red velvet if you live in America is easy peasy (and why you find them at every cupcakery/bakery from California to New York) because they just pop down to Wal Mart or wherever and pick up a bottle of red food colouring and follow their perfect little recipe.  Job done.

In England it's not so easy! because some 'clever' (a.k.a stupid) person has decided artificial red food colouring can no longer be sold on our shelves and that everything needs to be natural.

So this is what happens when you bake a red velvet with natural food colour. 

You get a red velvet that comes out brown!!!  I tried four different kinds of red velvet recipes.  I tried liquid red colour, gel red colour and either the colour didn't work or it worked so well that the mixture became inedible. 

Do you know what saved the day in the end and produced this beautiful red hue you see below?

A bottle of cochineal, that I had bought at the supermarket like 2 years ago when I remember reading on a blog that it was good for making red frosting! Unfortunately that little bottle wasn't quite enough to make ALL the red velvets I needed too so I popped to Sainsburys...and then to Tesco...and then to Asda and apparently cochineal is too artificial these days too so they no longer sell that either!!!

Luckily I had a small bottle of red food colour that my fantastic sister had brought back for me from the States so I managed to finish my baking using that....but it was no mean feat baking up 75 red velvets and a giant cupcake too - I needed the help of ALL the red food colours in the picture below! and some were no help at all like stupid silver spoon food colouring with no artificial colours! psh!

The bride had requested red glitter and red m&m's so I made a special trip to m&m world to buy a giant bag of only red and white m&m's!

and of course there had to be lots of red hearts involved on top of the cream cheese frosting.

My red frosting actually turned out surprisingly great! thanks to my new favourite sugarflair colour - RED EXTRA! where have you been hiding all my life! when I have had red frosting baking fail after fail after fail..this little guy would have come in handy! but I've found it now and I'm passing on my little secret to all of you! 

Some of the cupcakes got decorated with a few jimmies...

and there were also 75 minis just to add to the fun!

They got topped the same way as the regular sized cupcakes but I managed to get mini versions of the heart sprinkles and the m&m's just got chopped up smaller!

The brownie cupcakes were specially requested by the bride after she tried them here and here and fell in love with them! If you want to bake them yourself then go ahead and follow Martha's recipe, they're super fudgy and yummy! 

The red frosting I whipped up was my fave flavour - vanilla bean.

I also made a giant cupcake for the occasion too.

Here are a few pics of the cupcakes that I managed to snap just after I set them all up at the wedding.

I liked the way it was a whole table filled with cupcakes dotted all over the place rather than the more traditional cupcake towers.

I'm really loving my new lens these days! Although Byron uses it much better than I do, so credit to him for taking all these!

The prettiness of this table summed up the whole of Mr & Mrs Brooker's amazing day!

I even managed to co-ordinate with the cupcakes without even planning it! 

and here I am with the beautiful bride! After all the red related headaches, I was happy they turned out great in the end! and it was so fun to be able to make these cupcakes for Laur's special day! 

I'm sharing these over at Hoosier Homemade for Cupcake Tuesday! Go check out all the other delicious cupcakes everyone has been baking up!

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Final final Cupcaking days...for National Cupcake Week!

So I thought I was done with eating cupcakes...but it's National Cupcake Week and if you can't eat tons of cupcakes now then when can you! 

As it turns out I wasn't quite finished stuffing my face with London's cupcakes! A few weeks ago when I was up to my ears in red velvet baking fails I decided to pop by Love Bakery and see what they had to say on the matter.  The staff were very friendly and assured me as long as I bought artifical red colour and I used their recipe I would be fine.  Unfortunately Waitrose and Tesco had other plans for me...did you know they only stock natural food colouring these days. booo 

Needless to say it was another baking fail! but I'm pleased to say their Red Velvet was very delicious, if only we could all ship our snazzy red food colour in from Italy like they do! I also loved their cute little shop, it was well worth the very long walk all the way up the Kings Rd! 

A few days later I had a hair appointment on Chiswick High Rd, which I was rather excited about - not only because it meant I would soon be root free but because I knew I could stop off at Outsider Tart to pick up some of their delicious goodies! 

I was overjoyed to see coconut cupcakes on offer, with mounds of frosting and shredded coconut on top.  Coconut is possibly my favourite flavour ever! Unfortunately for me it was paired with my worst flavour ever - almond! I have a strange aversion to almond, I can't stand the taste of it and I can detect even the most minute amount in any baked item! so as soon as I picked up that hint of almond it was all downhill for me.  Sad times...but my sister who enjoys almond thought it was a great cupcake! 

Luckily for me they don't put almond in their peanut butter cheesecake brownies so I enjoyed them immensely  they were fudgy and rich and generally yummy! 

Has anyone seen the vast amounts of Streetcar ads popping up all over the tubes? One of them even has Crumbs and Doilies cupcakes in it! and if you snapped a picture of yourself with the ad they send you a vouched for a box of 12 mini cupcakes on the house!! 

Never one to turn down free cupcakes we joined in the fun! 

and this is me and my happy face picking them up on Saturday from their stall on Kings Rd! 

We had a variety of Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Chocolate, Red Velvet and their special of the month Lavender Caramel which I'm afraid to say I was too scared to try! Lavender has never been a flavour that I've wanted to eat, I believe it should be confined to candles and soaps! but the rest of the flavours were all delicious, and I love bite size cupcakes more than anything! 

After that we headed to the Mayor's festival down at the Thames.  There were quite a few cupcakes to be tried down there! We came across Ms Cupcake first.  A long time ago at an Iron Cupcake event i tried a strawberries and cream cupcake made by the lovely Ms Cupcake herself, it was amazing...even more amazing when I discovered the mounds of creamy and delicious frosting was indeed vegan! How she makes such tasty cupcakes and still manages for them to be vegan friendly I have no idea! She has since opened up her own cupcakery in Brixton which I haven't managed to get around to trying this summer sadly so I was excited when i saw her stall full of goodies! 

We went for the Ferrero Rocher because I love different flavours! It was very tasty and tasted just like a Ferrero Rocher! but for my tastebuds the chocolate was a little 'too' dark - I'm not a dark chocolate fan, but my sister enjoyed it.

We also saw Yummy Boutique's stall.  They were the main reason I headed to the festival, I had seen via their facebook they had been working on 20 new flavours! so I was very excited about that but from what I could see their flavours on offer were pretty standard and they didn't seem too new to me so we gave them a miss because there were other more exciting flavours at different stalls we wanted to try! 

Like Peggy's cupcakes.  Her stall was oh so pretty filled with gobstopper sized cake pops and beautifully frosted cupcakes in a whole array of flavours.  We went for the banana cupcake with caramel frosting.

I couldn't possibly eat it that very same due to the vast amounts of cupcakes we had already consumed but I'm happy to report 3 days later it was still moist and delicious! The banana and caramel pairing was a good choice...

which brings me onto the final cupcake! Lola's special of the month was cookie dough,  which is always a favourite in my we just had to check it out.  Unfortunately when we went they only had the mini's left...and I was pretty disappointed to find no cookie dough inside my cupcake!! Apparently only the regular sized ones are lucky enough to be filled with dough! which I think is a bit of a letdown, I regularly make mini's and if I can fill mine they should be able to fill their's!

The cookie frosting was super tasty, but I felt the cookie on top should have been a soft homebaked one.  All in all not their best offering they've ever come up with.

So there you have last London cupcake I will be eating for a very long time! so whilst you may not be seeing so many cupcake reviews on here in the next few months since I've told you previously Bangor is pretty much devoid of cupcakes, I will be back in my own house with my own kitchen and KitchenAid so I'm sure there will be lots more baking to make up for that! 

Also, drop by next week to see an awesome guest post from my sister about all the AMAZING cupcakeries they visited in will be amazed!

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

An Anniversary Twirl & Peanut Butter Chocolate Fudge Triple Layer Cake

Last week I celebrated 4 years with my lovely sweet toothed husband! I had done some background research to discover Twirl was his favourite chocolate bar of the moment! So imagine my delight when I spotted these little beauties in my local supermarket.  The idea for the rest of the cake began with these...

and grew into this....

Here's how it all started.  Bake your chocolate cake into 3 separate tins.  Once they are cooled, spread generous amounts of peanut butter frosting on top of each cake.

Smooth it out with a knife.

Crumble your mini Twirl bites to pieces and sprinkle them generously all over the frosting.

Sandwich your layers together.

Once the third layer has been added, side coat with more frosting.

Pour some chocolate fudge into the centre of your cake.  Be ready to guide some of it over the edge and be ready to stop any over enthusiastic drips too! For this you need to make sure your fudge is slightly runny so that it will move around but not so runny that your whole cake gets drenched in fudge! It's a fine balance!

Load up your piping bad with excess peanut butter frosting and pipe little swirls evenly around the edge of the cake. 

Adorn each swirl with a Twirl bite and a cut up Reece's Peanut Butter Cup respectively.  Of course if you get to be lucky enough to live in America you can just adorn with a mini pb cup which would be super cute but I didn't have that option!

Then I cheated slightly by making the disc on top at work, but I could have had one of the professionals who pipe discs all day long to pipe  my message and I chose not to.  I wanted it to be a labour of love, higgledy piggledy letter piping and all - that is something I definitely have to work on!

Byron loved it anyway! and we enjoyed more than several slices of it on our anniversary staycation in between all the other crazy amounts of treats we consumed!

So if you're looking for a rather delicious combo of creamy peanut butter and fudgy chocolate with a bit of flaked chocolate thrown in then this is the cake for you!

Here is the recipe for the chocolate cake part taken from my United Cakes of America book.

I used a double batch of my peanut butter frosting that goes like this:

2 cups Icing Sugar
1/4 cup semi-skimmed milk
1/4 cup unsalted organic unsalted butter
1/2 cup smooth organic peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Blend everything together until smooth. If you require a thicker consistency add more sugar, if you need it to be thinner add more milk.

and finished off with some milk chocolate fudge.  I can't tell you the recipe as it's a secret but I'm sure you can improvise with something you can find off of google!

Happy Baking!

P.S I'm sharing this over at Chef in Trainings blog along with tons of other yummy entries for Tuesday's Talents.  I have been drooling over the root beer float fudge she posted about - how good does that sound!

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Final cupcaking days in London Town!

My London days are coming to an end all too soon so I've been cramming in as many cupcakes as possible! We checked out quite a few on our anniversary staycation last weekend. I stumbled across Mimi's Cupcakes in Camden market.  She's situated in this cute little hut that is filled to the brim with cupcakes! There was a massive variety of flavours which I always love to see and they weren't just the boring old regular ones either! I went with a mint chocolate aero bubble which was pretty yummy! I would have liked to have tried more but had just eaten two enormous tacos from a Mexican food stall! 

On a rare sunny afternoon we found ourselves down at the Southbank...okay I had planned to be there especially because they were having a village fete and I heard cupcakes were going to be involved! I'm always a bit worried when I hear about things vaguely that I could turn up and be presented with a really lame stall of the kind of cupcakes that mums produce at summer fetes so I was very pleasantly surprised to find this stall from The Riff Raff Cake Co. It was bursting at the seams with cupcakes! and yet again there were some great flavour combos.

I went for a chocolate and coconut and a banana and marshmallow! These were cupcakes as they should be...moist, flavoursome and delicious! 

After that, we headed to the Outsider Tart stall because it would be criminal to be down at the South Bank without picking up some treats from my favourite bakery! We got the most amazing white chocolate chip fudge brownie spiced with cinnamon! and what made it even better...

was eating it with scoops of this toasted coconut ice cream from Sorbitium Ices! It was an insanely good combo.

For weeks I've been wanting to visit Netil Market after reading rave reviews about Lucky Chip burgers and of course seeing that Molly Bakes cupcakes has a stall there too.  So on my only potential lie in day for weeks I woke up at 8am to head there, it take me one underground, two buses and wouldn't you know Lucky Chip hadn't even opened their stand by the time I had to leave the market and head on back to Milton Keynes.  To say I was annoyed would be an understatement.  

Luckily Molly Bakes decided to turn up! and so all was not lost!

All her cupcakes looked so delicious it was very hard to pick! 

So we decided to go for 4! to make our trek to London fields worth it! Molly Bakes knows how to make good cakes that's for sure.  The Lime & Coconut I had was the best ever! and the popcorn brownie was inventive and delish! The choc cupcakes was oh so moist and the little mini frangipani was too cute! 

We ended our anniversary weekend with an awesome trip to Everyman cinemas in Hampstead.  Have you ever seen a cinema that sells cupcakes??! no me neither! So I just had to take a picture!

We got to take the cupcake into the cinema and enjoy it on our amazing sofa while we watched One Day.  The film was a disappointment, but our comfy sofa and cupcake certainly weren't! 

Phew! That was a whole lot of eating! but there's a bleak cupcake future ahead of me in Bangor so I have to make the most of it while I can! 


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