Saturday, 28 April 2012

A Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Layer Cake for when you are in need of a cookie overdose!

Thursday was my husbands birthday.  It brings me immense joy to create him decadent layer cakes each year when April 26 rolls around, even if he has rather boringly requested smarties cakes for the past 3 years running.  So I was ready to be done with smarties and move on to something far more exciting, so imagine my disappointment when I asked him what flavour cake he wanted and he told me he just wanted some cookies!! Some cookies?? on your birthday! I wasn't impressed - everyone needs a cake on their birthday! So I started dreaming up how I could incorporate cookies into a cake and this over the top cookie dough layer cake was born!

I took inspiration from these cookie dough cupcakes I have made in the past, we both agree they are some of the best we have ever had so I knew using this recipe I couldn't go wrong!

There are not many days where I will play Fifa alongside my husband on his playstation (in fact yesterday was the first time this has ever happened, and probably will ever happen considering just how badly I did!) or when I will happily listen to him mixing drum and bass (I can't stand drum and bass music at the best of times, let alone when it is played at about 20 decibels louder than my ears can handle!) and watching Avengers in 3D at the cinema would certainly never be my first choice but birthdays are all about indulging the one you love so that's exactly what I did! Although I will say that the only thing motivating me to sit through that crazy superhero movie was the thought that as soon as it was done we would be heading home to finally try a piece of this 5 layers of deliciousness! 

and it was so amazing I'd sit through that whole movie again if it meant getting a slice of this cake! 

I will start by saying this is not a quick to throw together sort of cake! By my count, there are 5 separate parts that make up this recipe, and so this cake is definitely a labour of love! Not your everyday bake sort of cake but certainly worth putting in the extra effort for a special occasion!

On Wednesday evening I whipped up the batch of chocolate chip cookies I was going to use to decorate the cake because the dough needed to be chilled for 24 hours.  

On Thursday morning I woke up super early and baked up 2 layers of chocolate chip cake.  Whilst the cake was baking, I made up the batch of raw cookie dough for the middle of the cake.  After that was ready, I made up a batch of chocolate fudge filling.  I put all of those layers together and refrigerated the whole thing to give it some stability before I made the frosting.  When you break it down, there is no single step that is particularly time consuming and they can easily be split over a number of days.

I have seen many variations of cookie dough cakes sweeping the internet, most of them just sandwich cookie dough between two layers of standard white cake.  I really thought the additional layers of milk fudge either side of the dough kept the cake from being too sickly, and so I'd recommend you don't skip out that step! 

This is a must bake for any serious cookie lover in your life!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Layer Cake:
Serves 12-14
Adapted from Tracey's Culinary Adventures

David Lebovitz's Cookies:

312g plain flour
3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/8 tsp salt
225g unsalted butter, at room temperature
200g packed light brown sugar
168g granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature
400g milk chocolate chunks (you can use dark if you prefer but I don't like the taste of dark)

For the Cake:

340g unsalted butter, at room temperature
300g packed light brown sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
333g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/4 tsp salt
225ml whole milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
182g milk chocolate chips

Cookie Dough Filling:

56g unsalted butter, at room temperature
75g packed light brown sugar
140g plain flour
200g condensed milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
75g milk chocolate chips

Milk Chocolate Fudge filling:
From Cupcake Crazy Gem

100g unsalted butter
13g cocoa powder
212g double cream
5g cornflour
5g unsalted butter, melted
280g liquid glucose
150g dark chocolate (I used 66%)
270g milk chocolate

Cookie Dough Frosting:
340g unsalted butter, at room temperature
150g packed light brown sugar
438g icing sugar
125g plain flour
3/4 tsp salt
55ml whole milk 
2 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

To make the cookies: This needs to be done 24 hours before you make the cake because the dough needs to chill.  In a small bowl whisk the flour with the bicarbonate of soda and set aside.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter with the brown sugar, granulated sugar and vanilla extract at medium speed until smooth.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until thoroughly incorporated, then blend in the flour mixture and chocolate chunks (these should be chopped into 1/2 to 1 inch chunks). 
On a lightly floured work surface, divide the dough into quarters.  Shape each quarter into a log about 9 inches long.  Wrap the logs in cling film and refrigerate for 24 hours.  Slice the dough logs into 3/4 inch disks and place on a baking tray 3 inches apart.  Bake the cookies at 180 degrees C, rotating half way through, for about 8-10 minutes or until the centers are lightly browned.  Let the cookies cool on the tray for 5 minutes and then transfer them to wire racks to cool completely.  This will make more cookies than you need for this cake, dough logs can be kept refrigerated for up to a week or up to a month in the freezer.

To make the cake: Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Grease two 8" cake pans.  Measure the flour into a medium bowl, remove two tablespoons of the flour into a separate bowl with the chocolate chips.  Coat the chocolate chips completely in flour using your fingers (this will prevent them sinking).  Add the baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt to the bowl containing only the flour and whisk to combine. 

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until pale and fluffy (about 4-5 mins).  Scrape down the sides of the bowl, adding the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  With the mixer on low, alternately add the dry ingredients and the milk to the bowl, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.  Mix until just incorporated.  Mix in the vanilla.  Finally, add the chocolate chips that were combined with the flour and stir them in with a spatula.

Divide the batter between the two pans.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Let the cakes cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the cookie dough filling: In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and brown sugar until pale and fluffy (about 4-5 mins). Add the flour, condensed milk and vanilla and beat to combine.  Stir in the chocolate chips using a spatula.  Wrap the dough in cling film and refrigerate until it firms up (about an hour).  Once it has had time to firm up, remove it from the fridge and shape it into a circle shape using a small rolling pin.  

To make the chocolate fudge filling: Melt 100g butter in a pan.  Once melted, add the cocoa powder and mix for 2 minutes.  Pour double cream into the pan and mix until thoroughly combined.  Melt 5g butter in microwave, stir in the cornflour and add this to the pan.  Mix for 3 minutes.  Add the liquid glucose and turn off the heat.  Mix for 3 minutes and then add the dark chocolate, followed by the milk chocolate.  Keep mixing until all the chocolate chunks are melted in and the fudge is completely smooth.  Leave to cool and so it stiffens up a little.

To make the cookie dough frosting: In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy (about 4-5 mins).  Mix in the icing sugar until smooth.  Beat in the flour and salt.  Mix in the vanilla and milk until well blended and smooth.  

This recipe makes me really glad that I have two KitchenAid bowls! haha
If you did want to cut out one of the steps, you could double the amount of cookie dough filling you make and just bake up your 10 cookies using that dough to decorate the outside of the cake.  It makes great tasting cookies too but because this was for a special occasion I wanted to try David Lebovitz's cookie recipe since it's meant to be the best.  It was a very good cookie recipe but I wouldn't go as far as to say it's the best - my search continues for the best chocolate chip cookie recipe! Let me know if you've found it!

If you do make David Lebovitz's cookies you will have tons left over and you will also have lots of fudge left over, you know what that means - fudge filled cookie sandwiches! oh yeah, we tried some last night and they were so tasty!

To assemble:

Cut the excess domed tops of the cakes off so that they are nice and flat.
Turn the cake upside down so that the crumbs are on the underneath.  Cover the cake in a thick layer of chocolate fudge, spreading it out using a palette knife.  
Get your round shaped raw cookie dough and carefully place it on top of the fudge.  You may need to reshape it slightly with your fingers so it is not larger than the layer of fudge beneath it.
Get your other cake and frost it with a layer of fudge.  Flip the cake over so that the fudge layer sticks to the cookie dough.  At this stage put the whole cake in the fridge for about 45 mins to an hour.  It will help it firm up before the frosting stage.
Take it out of the fridge.  The fudge will be firm at this point so reshape any areas where fudge might be dripping over the side of the cake.  Get your cookie dough frosting and do a crumb coat using a palette knife.  Put it back in the fridge for 30 minutes.  Take it out and do your final layer of frosting (you may want to whip up your frosting again to make it fluffy just before you do this).  Get a pint glass filled with hot water and a knife.  Put the knife in the water and smooth the top of the frosting and the sides.  Once your cake is completely covered and smooth use 10 cookies to place around the side of the cake.  Use 1/2 cup chocolate chips to decorate around the edge of the top of the cake.  I melted 1 cup chocolate candy melts in the microwave and then put them in a piping bag to pipe the message.  I piped it onto a piece of greaseproof paper and once it was hard, I used a knife to transfer the message to the cake.  If you are confident in your piping skills you can pipe it straight on! 

Serve and enjoy! 

I'm sharing this cake over at Six Sister's Stuff for Strut Your Stuff Saturday.

Monday, 23 April 2012

White Choc Chunk Banana Bread

The last time I made this banana bread it was so tasty that it never even made it to the photography stage! So I exercised a great deal of self restraint this time around to make sure that did not happen!
I made it with milk chocolate chunks the past few times which is super delicious, but this time due to my husbands request I made it with white chocolate instead.  Strangely enough, it just seemed to bake out altogether and disappear! The reason I loved it so much with the milk chocolate chunks was the melting pools of chocolate you would find in each slice so cutting in to it with no white chocolate in sight was a little disappointing!

I used some of the leftover chocolate frosting I had from when I made rainbow cupcakes and after warming up a slice in the microwave for 20 seconds (because in my opinion eating banana bread warm is the only way to go!) I spread some frosting on and it definitely made up for the lack of chocolate coming through.  It started to melt into the banana bread as it was warm and it was a perfect afternoon treat for a rainy Welsh day we were experiencing! 

White Choc Chunk Banana Bread:
Makes 1 regular and 2 mini loaves
From Whipped

1 1/2 cup all plain flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup caster sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
4 medium, ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup white chocolate, chopped

Grease  loaf pans with butter. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.

In a bowl, whisk together flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt and sugar.  Mix in the slightly beaten eggs and mashed bananas. Slowly stir in the melted butter just until incorporated. Chop white chocolate into chunks.  Put it into a bowl and toss it in one tablespoon of flour until all the chocolate is covered (this prevents the chocolate sinking to the bottom). Stir choc chunks into the mix.

Pour into prepared pans. 
Bake  for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean from the center. If you use the mini loaf pans, adjust to about 30 minutes. Just take a peek and if the top is starting to brown and looks cooked, try the toothpick to test for doneness. Let cool in pans for 5 minutes then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.

I'm entering this into the Alphabakes challenge, hosted by The More Than Occasional Baker this month.  The letter for the month was B, I am sure my banana bread will be one of many! 
If you want to join along, Caroline Makes will be announcing the new letter for next month if you keep an eye on her blog.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Some Birthday S'mores Bars...For My Favourite Aunt!

Do any of you have a cool aunt? I have 10 aunts in total and they're all great but Lynne is my very cool aunt who is favoured above all other aunts!

The first time I got to meet her I was 11, she was 28.  She lives in South Africa and so that is why it took us so long to finally meet! The first time I knew she was super cool was when she had just taken us to get some lime milkshakes and we were driving around in her car with the music blasting and she started slurping the last bit of her milkshake, that is something my mom would never allow me to do so I told this to Lynne and she told me I was definitely allowed when I was with her! So we slurped up our milkshakes as loud as we could, and as an 11 year old I thought that was pretty fantastic! 

The fun didn't end there! Every trip I have ever made to South Africa, I have always been crazy spoilt by Lynne! She would always take me on shopping trips, all expenses paid! and she always knew the best spots for cake and frulattas (a South African drink - a cross between a milkshake and a smoothie with chunks of real fruit on top).  We would talk about guys non stop and I would tell her all about my little crushes and who was the current boy of the moment! 

After the first trip I made out there we became permanent 'pen pals' and I still have boxes of the letters she sent to me.  These days it's easier to keep in touch through Facebook and email...although I do miss our letter writing days, since getting post is always that little bit more fun!

Lynne also has a very sweeth tooth, just like me! In fact she was the one who helped inspire me to start this blog because she took me to lots of South African cupcakeries back on my visit in 2009 before the trend had really begun in the U.K.  When I came home I was crazy for cupcakes and I started to bake them whenever I could! There is nothing we like better than going to grab a cake and a shake, oh and occasionally we like to get our nails done too!


She also knows all the best restaurants! She took us to one of the Top 10 restaurants in South Africa while we were in Durban, and also to Kream in Pretoria where we had amazing biltong soup!

Harrie's Pancakes was also another great find, a My Old Dutch Style pancake house but with delicious fillings like mango!

and of course all the best little cafe's with cakes and tasty treats...

So it makes me sad that because of a huge ocean and a few dozen countries that separate us I'm not able to bake treats for Lynne on her birthday! but I decided I could bake some treats and share them with her virtually (that's the next best thing right?) So I sneakily looked on her pinterest to see what sweet treats she had been pinning recently and when I stumbled upon these s'mores bars I knew that's what I would bake for her!

Happy Birthday Lynne! I hope you have a really amazing day filled with lots of cake and delicious treats (even if you are only able to look at pictures of it, and not try it!)
Come back to England soon and I will bake you round two of these!

These are definitely the best thing I've baked in a while, the dough actually tastes like a graham cracker so it does taste like you're eating an enormous s'more.  I love the sticky marshmallow and the gooey warm chocolate in between the layers of dough, all the flavours compliment each other perfectly!

S'mores Bars:
Makes 9
From The Apron Gal

113g unsalted butter, at room temperature
50g dark brown soft sugar
112g caster sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
162g plain flour
1/4 tsp salt
60g graham cracker crumbs
1 tsp baking powder
3 x 120g Dairy Milk chocolate bars
180g marshmallow fluff (available at Asda or TK Maxx)

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.  Grease an 8x inch sqaure dish.  I also lined mine with parchment paper.
In a large bowl or stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar until light.  Beat in egg and vanilla.
In a small bowl, whisk together flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt.
Add to butter mixture and mix at low speed until combined.

Divide dough in half and press half of dough into an even layer on the bottom of the prepared pan.
Place chocolate bars over dough.  They should fit side by side, but break the chocolate if necessary to get it to fit into a single layer.
Spread marshmallow fluff evenly over the chocolate layer.
Place remaining dough in a single layer on top of the fluff.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until lightly browned.  Cool completely before cutting into bars.

Bake these for a loved one today - you will not regret it! 

Saturday, 14 April 2012

London Town...and the best cupcakes around!

So a few weeks ago I had the chance to go down South for the weekend and I knew exactly what I wanted to do - a day of cupcaking in London with my sister! 

We had planned that we were going to visit a few new cupcakeries that have popped up in the past few months.  The plan was to meet at St.Pancras - I suggested we meet in front of Peyton & Byrne.  That was my first mistake! We were just meant to meet there and then head off to the respective cupcakeries...but as I sat waiting for my sister staring at these cupcakes piled sky high with frosting how could I resist! 

So when she turned up we decided we would pick one cupcake to share, and save it for later and be on our way.

Along the way we stopped off at the Kings Road to visit Partridges and buy some graham crackers.  Of course we just had to take a little stroll around their food market (which is one of our faves!) and when we saw that Crumbs and Doilies speciality flavour was buttered popcorn how could we resist!

This was one seriously amazing cupcake! I don't know how but the frosting managed to taste just like creamy buttery popcorn flavour and having actual popcorn on top was just ingenius - we loved everything about it and devoured it on the spot!

and then we stumbled upon another stall, whose name I didn't even manage to look at since I was mesmerised by these super fudgy raspberry and white choc chunk brownies!!

How could we say no! So we bought one and shared it on the tube as we headed on with the trip.  This was one of the best brownies I've had in a very long time - I must find out the name of the stall and hunt them down again...very soon!

It was getting close to lunchtime and of course we needed to eat some real food so we decided to head to the new Westfield at Stratford.  It opened the weekend after I left London last summer so I hadn't had the privilege of checking it out yet! and in my family we are big Westfield fans.  It certainly didn't disappoint and I think it's got some of the best food courts I have ever seen!

My sister suggested we get a pizza from Franco Manca because she had gone there before and loved it.  Now I am a pizza fan and I eat a lot of it at home, but when I got out for meals Mexican and American cuisine and sometimes Indian just always grab my attention.  Going out for a pizza would probably be at the bottom of my I wasn't too thrilled by this idea but I decided to go with it and trust my sister - she usually has good foodie instincts! and oh my goodness this was definitely the best pizza I've eaten in the UK.  It is made with sourdough bread and you may notice it didn't have any toppings on, just cheese, but it didn't need any other toppings because it was so delicious as is - I can seriously recommend trying this delicious pizza.  It was a hit.

How can it not be when accompanied by a Root Beer float though - courtesy of Chicago Rib Shack!

You definitely don't get those kind of lunches in North Wales, I was loving it! 

After some shopping around, my sister told me we simply couldn't leave without getting a Pinkberry - because, shock horror, I haven't tried one yet! Again I'm not that much of a fan...when in London I would much rather stuff my face with cupcakes/brownies/cookies than with frozen yoghurt, but I went along with it anyway and oh my gosh it was amazing! I am a Pinkberry convert! Did you know they have the yummiest flavours - we got two swirled together...coconut frozen yoghurt and mango frozen yoghurt! How good does that sound, even just on it's own! and then we got it covered with shredded coconut, fresh strawberries, raspberries and mango! 

So by this point it was time to leave Westfield and head to the 2 cupcakeries we were meant to be checking out that day, but have you even just seen the amount of stuff we had eaten already! There was no way I was going to be handle 2 more cupcakes! So we decided to call it a done deal and leave those 2 cupcakeries for another day!

We headed back to St.Pancras and while we waited for my train we ate our Peyton and Byrne cupcake that we had carried around with us all day! We had opted for the toffee and banana, my sister is a huge banana fan! It was sooooo tasty.  You could see the fresh bits of banana actually swirled through the frosting and when cupcakes have a high ratio of frosting:cupcake that is just fine by me! I was loving it! It was a seriously tasty end to a seriously tasty day!

You know it's been a great day when the only photos you took were of food!

p.s can anyone else tell that I am still procrastinating my essay, ahh!

Friday, 13 April 2012

Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry-Lime Frosting...bring on Summer!

So I am blogging all out of order at the moment.  I literally have a zillion bakes to blog about! but I've moved this one to the top of the list.

I made these cupcakes last month when we had that amazing week of sunshine and WARM weather! With the luck we have here in the UK that's probably our summer come and gone! so I hope you all enjoyed it! which is also why even though I had spent the whole previous day doing a double bake fest with some uni friends (that post will be coming shortly too) when we got invited to a Sunday BBQ with some friends of ours from church, I couldn't pass up the chance to bake again.  After all, I know that our BBQ days are probably numbered!

I also had a little bowl of strawberry puree left over from the bake fest that was calling out to be used up.  I decided it would only be right to whip up some strawberry cupcakes, so I was pretty pleased to find this Sprinkles recipe from Martha's website.  Sprinkles Cupcakes is one of the biggest best know cupcakeries in the world! So these cupcakes should have been amazing right? Well, I've come to learn recently, first hand, that the recipes bakeries publish in recipe books/online are not actually the real recipes they use - shocker I know!

So for me these cupcakes were just okay, they did have a lovely strawberry flavour but they weren't moist enough for me.

Luckily, the frosting was the star of the show and so I wasn't too sad about the non amazing cupcakes themselves.

As I was getting ready to make some strawberry frosting I decided that strawberry cupcakes plus strawberry frosting was a little too much.  I knew I needed to think of a good flavour to pair strawberry with in the frosting and that's when it came to me - LIME!
Let me tell you, I am a lime lover and a half.  As in, I eat limes whole! Obviously, minus the skin...but I like nothing better than buying a bag of limes and cutting them in half and eating them with a spoon!
Why had I never thought of lime and strawberry before? Byron was skeptical when I excitedly told him my idea, he asked if it had been done before and was clearly not on board! So I googled it just to reassure him that other people had tried it and it had worked out okay for them!

So I just went with it and whipped up the strawberry frosting, then taking a small amount I added some lime juice and lime zest and after Byron tried it to confirm it was completely delicious I unleashed the lime goodness on my whole batch of frosting.

The next day right before the BBQ, I chopped up some fresh strawberry pieces to top each cupcake.

Seriously that is how crazy blue the sky was on the beautiful sunny day we ate them! So I just had to take a picture.  It hasn't been that blue or sunny since - I'm waiting very patiently for both to return, but I'm not holding out much hope!

Tonight I am blogging and procrastinating an essay I should be writing, what's new! Are any of you procrastinating something you should be doing? Share it with me below and help me feel better about my own laziness and aversion to uni work!

Strawberry Cupcakes:
Makes 24 mini's or 12 regular
From Sprinkles Cupcakes via Martha Stewart

80g pureed strawberry (you will need a little extra for the frosting too)
187g plain flour, sifted
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
50ml semi-skimmed milk
1 large egg, at room temperature
2 large egg whites, at room temperature
113g unsalted butter, at room temperature
225g caster sugar

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.

Place strawberries in a small food processor and process until pureed.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.  In a small bowl, mix together the milk, vanilla extract and strawberry puree.  Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter on medium-high speed, until light and fluffy.  Gradually add sugar and continue to beat until well combined.  Reduce the mixer speed to medium and slowly add the egg and egg whites until just blended.

With the mixer on low, slowly add half the flour mixture and mix until blended.  Then add half the milk mixture and repeat the process one more time.

Divide batter evenly among cupcake cases, filling them 2/3 full.  Bake mini's for 12-15 minutes and regular sized cupcakes for 22-25 minutes or until tops are just dry to the touch.
Leave to cool in tins for 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

Strawberry Lime Frosting:
Makes enough to frost the above
From Cupcake Crazy Gem

1 tsp lime zest
1 tbsp lime juice
1 1/2 tbsp strawberry puree
400g icing sugar
250g unsalted butter

In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sifted icing sugar until well blended.
Add the puree and beat again.
Add the lime zest and lime juice.  Beat until just incorporated and then taste.
I was making these for a crowd of people and I didn't know their feelings on lime so I kept it subtle, if you're really big lime lovers then add more juice/zest to suit your tastebuds.

Eat, enjoy and dream of summer days!

Monday, 9 April 2012

South African Peppermint Crisp Fridge good I made it twice!

This is the second time I have made this South African dessert, and I'm happy to say that this time I made it more authentic than the last time because now we're back in the UK there are South African shops all over where you can get Tennis biscuits from, and really if you're going to make this dessert and I hope you do because it's SO delicious then you're definitely going to want to try and do it right, coconut Tennis biscuits and all! 

Having said that there are South African shops all over, I had planned to go to one in Covent Garden a few weekends back that I have been to countless times over the years and when I got there I discovered it had closed down! Luckily, after some googling I discovered there was a little South African shop in an indoor market in the Stratford Mall and since I was heading to the new Westfield later in the day it fit into my plan quite well! So Randsavers saved the day!

 I made this dessert for my Zimbabwean mother-in-laws birthday dinner that we hosted for her that very evening so if it hadn't been for that shop I might have had to abandon the whole idea! 

This dessert combines coconut with caramel and peppermint in creamy, crunchy mouthfuls of deliciousness.   As we sat down to eat it the two other South Africans at the table requested seconds...and even thirds! It really is that good! 

I decided to make it even better this time around I would add a crushed up Tennis biscuits base and sides just to be fancy.  Note for next time: when trying to be fancy do not push out your loose bottomed cheesecake tin using a tin of condensed milk (it is not tall enough so your dessert will be stuck and if you're not careful your lovely biscuit sides will cave in like mine did!)

Peppermint Crisp Fridge Tart:
Serves 8 normal people, or 4 South African people! 
Adapted from Cook Sister

1 packet/200g Tennis biscuits
60g melted unsalted butter
250ml double cream (Orley Whip if you are in S.A)
397g Carnation Caramel, or if you're feeling brave you can boil a tin of condensed milk instead!
20g caster sugar
3 Peppermint Crisp bars, crushed
3 drops of good quality peppermint extract - I use this
1/2 packet/100g Tennis biscuits

Preheat oven to 160 degrees C.
Grease an 8 inch loose bottomed cheesecake tin.
Crush Tennis biscuits using a food processor.  Melt butter in 30 second intervals in the microwave.  Mix the two together.  You should be able to roll a ball of the mix without it crumbling, if it is not at that consistency you will need to add a little more butter.
Press the biscuit mix into the bottom of the tin, using a tablespoon to press around the edges to ensure it is firm.  Take spoonfuls of the mix and press them around the edge of the tin until it is completely covered.  
Bake in the oven for approximately 10-12 minutes or until it starts to go firm.
Leave to cool.

Meanwhile, whip the cream until soft peaks form - you can do this in a stand mixer or using a handheld whisk.  Add the caramel, caster sugar and peppermint extract.  Beat until well mixed and then stir in 2/3 of the crushed peppermint crisp with a metal spoon.

Spoon a 1/3 of the caramel mix over the crushed biscuit base and spread evenly.  Add a layer of Tennis biscuits, then repeat with adding another 1/3 of the caramel mix.  Add another layer of Tennis biscuits and a final layer of caramel mix.  

Use your leftover crushed peppermint crisp to decorate the top. 

Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Very carefully remove your tart from your tin! 

Eat and enjoy :)

Thursday, 5 April 2012

An Easter Market Cupcake Stall at Bangor Uni & Mini Egg Rocky Roads

So 14 hours of baking, 150 cupcakes later and this is what I had to show for it! This was my cupcake stall at the Easter market my Uni put on.  

The things that couldn't fly off the table quick enough were these assorted boxes of mini's! I'd been saving egg boxes for weeks, along with some very thoughtful friends and sisters who did the same for me! My mom sent me that lovely flowery paper and so I decided to cover each box with it to make it prettier, and in case some people wanted to give the egg boxes as gifts.  That was a time consuming task - who knew that some egg labels are stuck on with such nasty adhesive that takes forever to get off! but I think it was worth it in the end!

People couldn't resist their cuteness and the opportunity to taste every cupcake I was selling without looking like a piggy! I made four varieties of cupcakes, including Cookies and Cream Oreo Cupcakes (I forgot to take a picture of them on the stall but you can see the mini one above)...

I also made Creme Egg Cupcakes...

and these Malteser Bunny Cupcakes were definitely the hit of the day and I sold out of these first.

Here's another shot of the mini's all lined up and ready to be bought! 

My mom got me this awesome cake stand from a charity shop! On the second row down you will see some Mini Egg Rocky Roads that I decided to make at midnight the night before the stall! I had finished all the cupcake baking and still had a whole bag of Mini Eggs left and decided I should really whip something up for people who don't like cupcakes (yes, these people really exist - who knows how or why!)

So I'll leave you with the recipe, it's pretty simple and easy to whip together.  They would be fun to make with kids, but make sure they don't get involved with the chopping of the Mini Eggs! I nearly lost two of my thumbs to this process! and that's not even an exaggeration.  I was using a super sharp knife and because they roll around when you try and chop them in half it was a dangerous task! My one thumb still hasn't properly healed and it was 3 weeks ago now that it happened!

Warnings aside, these were absolutely delish and would make the perfect addition to any Easter gathering this weekend!

Mini Egg Rocky Roads:
Makes 12 cupcake sized
From Cupcake Crazy Gem

300g milk chocolate
150g dark chocolate
2 tsp vegetable oil
1 cup Rice Krispies
1 cup Mini Eggs, chopped in halves or quarters
150g mini marshmallows

36 Whole Mini Eggs

Melt both chocolates in a glass bowl over a pan of simmering water.
Add the vegetable oil and mix together.
Chop up Mini Eggs, with caution!
Add Mini Eggs, marshmallows and Rice Krispies to the cooled chocolate mixture.  Mix together until combined.
Pour into cupcake cases.  Decorate each one with 3 whole Mini Eggs.  Press them slightly into the chocolate.
Refrigerate overnight or for at least one hour if you need to try them right away!

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Cadbury's Creme Egg Cupcakes for Easter

You can probably tell that these were the last cupcakes I made of the night in preparation for the stall because by this time I was just ready to get into bed and so I only managed to snap one quick photo! 

It seems I've been confusing a few of you with my various postings about the stall! It's not something I do weekly - I probably couldn't keep up with 14 hours straight of baking each week! It was a one off Easter market that my Uni was running a few weeks back.  So I baked for 14 hours the day before and then sold my cupcakes at the stall the next day.  I've just been posting the different cupcakes I made with their accompanying recipes in the lead up to Easter and since these are the last cupcakes my next blog post will be about the event itself.  

I have a confession to make...I'm not the biggest fan of creme eggs.  I would probably rather eat any other  flavour of easter egg than this one but I know it's pretty popular among everyone else so I felt I couldn't run an Easter cupcake stall without some creme egg cupcakes featuring, and they were very popular on the day!

I took my inspiration for the cracked eggs from Sticky Pinny, whose creme egg cupcakes helped her to win the chocolate bar challenge at Iron Cupcake Leeds.

I used her recipe for the yellow creme egg filling type frosting and it tasted just like the real deal! so much so that people even asked me if I had melted real creme egg filling and mixed it in to make it taste so life like! I used a basic vanilla frosting for the other half and piped it on two tone to try and create the effect that it was oozing from the mini cracked egg on top! 

Chocolate Cupcakes:
Makes 12 regular and 12 mini

115g good quality chocolate, I used 70% Valrhona 
85g unsalted butter, at room temperature
175g soft light brown sugar
2 large eggs, separated
185g plain flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
pinch of salt
250ml semi-skimmed milk, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 170 degrees C.
Line cupcake tin with cupcake cases.

Melt the chocolate in 30 second intervals in the microwave, or in a glass bowl over a pan of simmering water.  Leave to cool slightly.
Cream the butter and sugar together in a free standing mixer until pale and smooth.  In a separate bowl and with clean beaters, beat the egg yolks for several minutes.  Slowly add the egg yolks to the creamed butter and sugar and beat well.  Next, add the chocolate to this mixture and beat well.

Combine the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt in a separate bowl.  Combine the milk and vanilla together in a measuring jug.  Add the flour mixture to the free standing mixer, alternating with the milk and vanilla.  Beat well after each addition.

In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks start to form.  Carefully fold the egg whites into the main batter using a metal spoon.  Do not beat or you will take the air out of the cake.

Fill the cupcake cases 2/3 full.  Bake for 20-25 minutes for the regular cupcakes and 13-15 minutes for the mini's.  Let the cupcakes cool in pans for 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  

Creme Egg Frosting:
Makes enough to frost the above

170g golden syrup
60g unsalted butter, at room temperature
375g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
Yellow food colouring (next time I'd make mine more orange, as the yellow didn't match up with the colour from inside the creme egg so well)

Mix the butter, syrup and vanilla in the bowl of a free standing mixer.  
Gradually add the icing sugar, then the food colouring and carry on beating until smooth.  

*It is very sweet frosting by itself, originally it was paired with cream cheese frosting which would cut some of the sweetness.  I was leaving mine frosted overnight and didn't want to put them in the fridge so I used regular vanilla frosting instead but if I was making them on the day I would use cream cheese too.

Vanilla Frosting:
Makes enough to frost the above

110g unsalted butter, at room temperature
60ml semi-skimmed milk, at room temperature
1 tsp good quality vanilla extract
500g icing sugar, sifted

In a freestanding mixer, beat the butter, milk, vanilla extract and half the icing sugar until smooth.
Gradually add the remainder of the icing sugar and beat until the buttercream is smooth and creamy.

In a piping bag, put yellow creme egg frosting down one side and the vanilla frosting down the other side.  Pipe a small amount onto a plate until the colours start to come out in equal amounts.
Pipe on to your cupcake.

To decorate:

3 packs of mini Creme Eggs

Cut one mini egg in half per regular sized cupcake.  Arrange them in your frosting so it looks like the Creme Egg filling is spilling out and becoming the frosting.  Use one half on top of each mini cupcake.


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