Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Summer S'mores...Chocolate, Coconut & Eton Mess Varieties!

I have been more than vocal about my love of all things S'mores! and whilst I've featured S'mores brownies, S'mores cookie barsS'mores milkshakes, S'mores pie, S'mores cupcakesS'mores cheesecake and S'mores bars I've never showcased just plain old regular S'mores! 

So when the sun came out for long enough one evening this week we stoked up the BBQ and got toasting some marshmallows for some S'mores fun.

I had, I'm ashamed to admit, popped to the shop earlier in the day to pick up some Hobnobs because my supply of graham crackers had run dry.  So imagine my delight when I arrived home to find a lovely gift of some American goodies from American Soda...which included a box of Honey Graham Crackers...it was perfect timing! So the Hobnobs were shelved and the fun began...

It's been a while since I've had to make S'mores with UK marshmallows and I forgot how small they are!! so we decided two at a time was how we needed to do it.

So for all those Brits who may be coming across S'mores for the first time - let me break it down for you...

You take two Graham Crackers (if you want to make it authentic and if you want them to taste amazing!) and lay them out, with two squares of chocolate of your choice on top - I was using Dairy Milk.

Then once your marshmallows are sufficiently toasted, lay them over your squares of chocolate and use the other Graham Cracker to scrape them into place inside your little S'mores sandwich...

and there you have it, the hot marshmallow melts the chocolate inside and so you have a melted warm gooey chocolate-y filling sandwiched between two crisp crackers! 


A few nights later, S'mores were still on my mind and after I received these birthday presents I knew what had to be done...

because you knew it was only a matter of time before I worked out how to get some coconut goodness involved! Yes, my in laws gifted me my fave Lindt Coconut chocolate and this bar of Eton Mess chocolate! 

I even decided to go all out and fancy up my Graham Crackers too, so the night before I dipped the ends in melted chocolate and sprinkled shredded coconut on the ones that would pair with the coconut chocolate, and pink sprinkles on the ones that would pair with the Eton Mess chocolate.

It also helped that my awesome husband bought me these FireForks as a birthday present, specifically to aid me in my S'mores making! They are super clever because they enable you to toast two marshmallows evenly at the same time!

Oh man, these coconut S'mores were amazing! 

I took a bite and you can see the coconut cream filling was still intact in the middle of the piece of chocolate but the chocolate had already started melting into that gooey marshmallow! 

and the Eton Mess S'more turned out pretty spectacular too - the chocolate even had freeze dried strawberries and meringue pieces in as well! 

So if you've never had a S'more before then what are you waiting for! One of my favourite things to do when people came to visit us in Turks and Caicos was to introduce them to S'mores for the first time! and if you have then why not try some variations on the regular ones and jazz yours up a little! You'll thank me for it.  

Happy S'mores making! Let's just hope the weather co operates for us so we can be making them all summer long! 

Disclosure: American Soda provided me with these complimentary products.  However my participation was voluntary, and all opinions and views expressed are my own.

Friday, 22 June 2012

ABC award

Big thanks to Ros from The More Than Occasional Baker who gifted me with this ABC (Awesome Blog Content) award. She even made an awesome ABC cake to go with her award post! So without further ado - here's 26 alphabet related facts about me! 

A - America - my one true love! I often think I was born in the wrong country.  I'm not really a fan of most of our quintessentially English desserts like fruit cake, eccles cakes, mince pies, roly poly, steamed puddings or custard.  I'm also not keen on how reserved we English are - I like to make friends wherever I go and in America that was super easy because everyone's always chatting to you and striking up conversations.  England and I have also fallen out in epic proportions over the past few years due to this so called thing that we call 'summer'.  I think I've outgrown England and one day I hope to achieve my dream of residing Stateside permanently! 
B - Birthday! Today is my birthday and I share it with one of my best friends, Laura, so with a load of our Harpenden friends from our school days we are heading to London this evening for Zoo Lates - I am ridunculously excited! a little for the animals but mainly for the food trucks! haha

The birthday girls (we also share a love of cupcakes!)

C - Coconut - did you really ever think it could be anything else! I spend most of my days dreaming about how I can get more coconut into my life! Unfortunately for Ros, because she's not a coconut fan at all! 
D - Dissertation! I keep thinking in my head my masters is done.  I've moved away from Wales now, but the truth is I have a dissertation to write that's due in at the end of the summer - no fun at all! 
E - Eton Mess - maybe thinking about it there is one English dessert I find pretty tasty! 
F - Family makes the world go round! I am so grateful for my lovely family:

The Jones Family at my sister's wedding

The Braithwaite Family at my wedding

G - Gigs, growing up I saw hundreds of bands live.  My gig going has dwindled in the past few years, especially living in Wales this past year because surprise surprise no decent bands come to Bangor! but I'm excited to start going again, there is something so special about hearing your favourite songs played live whilst singing along with hundreds of people around you, strangers, but united together in your love for that band! 
H - Harpenden - where I grew up, it will always hold a special place in my heart! Sooo many happy memories of living there and I even have a job interview on Monday there and could end up working at my old primary school which would be interesting! 
I - Instagram - my days of instagramming fun are nearly over because we're selling our tablet on eBay at the moment and I don't have an iphone - booo! 
J -  Joy.  I like to think of myself as an optimistic person and look for the good in everything.  The prophet of our church, Thomas S. Monson, gave an awesome talk about just this and told us all that we should 'Find Joy in the Journey' - I am living my life doing this :)

K - Kings of Leon - they can literally do no wrong! I've been a mega fan since I was 17, I absolutely cannot wait for their next album...in my opinion they just get better and better! Every day is better with a little Kings of Leon in it! 
L - London - one of the coolest cities in the world.  Growing up it was only ever a 20 minute train ride away so we went often and even now I love discovering new areas and new markets.  Last weekend I was there for my sister's birthday and we ate at Granger & Co in Westbourne Grove - amazing amazing food, I urge you all to try it! 
M - Meat Market, Covent Garden - I am dying to try it! Some people have said it's the best burgers in London and also that it's similar to In-N-Out which makes it a must visit in my book! 
N - Northern Ireland - where my Dad is from, and possibly why I'm as talkative as I am! It's in the genes!
O - Olney is a quaint little town outside of Milton Keynes.  It's where my parents moved us the summer I turned 18. I wasn't impressed about being stuck in this town where I knew no-one but as luck would have it there was a South African boy called Byron Braithwaite also living in that little town! 8 years later, Olney might just now be one of my very favourite places! 
Q - Question time - I want you to tell me (in the comments below) where is the best place you have ever travelled to?
R - Root Beer Floats - I have had more than my fair share this summer and I think the world is a better place because of them! 

S - South Africa - a beautiful country.  My mom and husband are both from here so we have tons of South African family between us which I love! I am also in love with South African accents and love to strike up conversations with South Africans whenever I hear an accent! 
T -  Turks and Caicos - a beautiful paradisical island where we were lucky enough to live.  If anyone ever finds themself contemplating a holiday there I would highly recommend it! Amazing gourmet food, breathtaking views and beautiful beaches all to yourself! 

U - Underwater - we got to do tons of snorkelling and scuba diving whilst we lived in Turks and Caicos.  Some of the marine life we got to see underwater was quite amazing!! 

V -  Vancouver! Less than 2 months to go now...it is getting very exciting! I can't wait to have some new adventures! 
W - World - travelling is one of my favourite things to do.  I really truly want to see as much of the world as I can.  Come September we'll have lived in 4 different countries over the past 2 years: England, Turks and Caicos, Wales and Canada! I've also travelled to 19 other countries but there are SO many more I want to see! 
X - Xtreme - I have kayaked down the river Dordogne in a thunderstorm (not out of choice!) played with baby lions in Mauritius (yes I kid you not those are babies, I was expecting something a lot smaller!), dabbled in rock climbing, mountain hiking, parasailing, skiing, water skiing, white water rafting and experienced a hurricane! 

Y - Youngest.  I am the youngest of 4 girls.  Having 3 older sisters is awesome, we all get on so well and the clothes/shoe/make up sharing that can happen between us is pretty cool! 
Z - Zoo Lates - if you want something fun to do on a Friday night this summer, definitely check this out! Face Painting, Carousels, Silent Disco, Animals galore and of course all the tastiest food trucks London has to offer! 

Now I'm passing this award on to five of my favourite bloggers to join in the fun:

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Coconut & Key Lime Curd Layer Cake for Clandestine Cake Club

So we all know of my love for coconut - it's widely documented on here! I love how it pairs so fantastically with so many flavours but out of all the combos you get lime and coconut has to be my all time fave! I was, of course, trying to think of ways to use up the rest of my Key Lime juice and I had remembered seeing a few recipes for lime curd recently that had piqued my interest so the idea of Key Lime curd was born! 

and to accompany it I whipped up a lime and coconut flavoured cake too! 

I'm not the biggest fan of lemon curd, it's okay but I would never go out of my way to buy it.  So there I was thinking curd wasn't really for me.  Until I made my first batch of Key Lime curd which is out of this world amazing...I haven't looked back since, I'm already planning raspberry curd, passion fruit curd and you guessed it coconut curd! The sky is the limit! Seriously...you need this Key Lime curd in your life! It is SO good! and oh man, it made this cake my all time favourite layer cake.  The curd between each layer of cake helped to keep it super moist and it just paired with the creamy coconut frosting so beautifully! 

I can seriously see lots more of these cakes in my future because it was just so deliciously tasty that I've been craving it ever since I finished off the last slice a few weeks back! I urge all of you, who are after a light and refreshingly tasty cake to give this one a whirl - you won't regret it! 

and yes - for all those of you super observant bloggers out there, I did purposely co-ordinate my green polka dot ribbon with my lime green bake! My obsessiveness is not limited to coconut, but extends to colour co-ordination too! 

Coconut & Key Lime Curd Layer Cake with Coconut & Lime Cream Cheese Frosting:
Adapted from Land O'Lakes

Coconut & Lime Cake:

3 cups plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 cup caster sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup cream of coconut
2 tsp freshly grated lime zest
4 large eggs
1 cup coconut yoghurt

Key Lime Curd:

1 1/2 cups caster sugar
zest of 4 limes
1 cup Key Lime juice
4 large eggs
8 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon sized pieces

Coconut & Lime Cream Cheese Frosting:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup cream of coconut
85g cream cheese, softened
1 tsp freshly grated lime zest
5 cups icing sugar
4-5 tbsp double cream

Make the Key Lime curd one day before you make the cake.  Add all ingredients, except butter, to a saucepan over low heat.  Whisk to combine.  Add butter.  Continue whisking gently but constantly, heating slowly, until curd thickens and reaches 160°F on a sugar thermometer.  Remove from heat.  For the smoothest curd, pour through a fine mesh strainer (I didn't do this because I wanted larger bits of zest in mine).  Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate over night.  (It will keep for up to 1 week in the fridge).

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.  Grease 2 round 9 inch cake pans; set aside.
Combine the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda in a medium bowl and set aside.  
Beat butter and sugar in a freestanding electric mixer on medium speed until well mixed.  Add the cream of coconut and lime zest; continue beating, scraping bowl often, until smooth.  Add 1 egg at a time, beating well after each addition.  Reduce speed to low; add flour mixture alternately with coconut yoghurt.  Beat until well mixed.

Divide batter evenly between prepared pans.  Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean and cake is a deep golden brown.  Cool in pans for 10 minutes.  Remove from pans and cool on wire racks.  

For the frosting: beat butter, cream of coconut, cream cheese and lime zest in the bowl of a freestanding electric mixer.  Beat at medium speed until creamy.  Reduce speed to low; add icing sugar, one cup at a time.  Add enough cream until it is at spreadable consistency.  

To assemble:

Cut off the domes on top of each cake so that they are flat.  
Using a cake slicer, slice each cake in half so that you are left with 4 cake rounds.
Place a layer of Key Lime curd in between each layer of cake.  Apply a thin crumb coat of cream cheese frosting all over the cake and place it in the fridge for about 30 minutes.  
Once it is firm, take it out and cover the cake in the rest of the frosting.  Using a palette knife, and turning it in opposite directions, make swirls in the frosting around the side of the cake.  
Using a cake smoother, smooth out the top and cover the top in shredded coconut.  
Cut a single slice of lime and twist it to adorn the top of the cake.

So off I went to my first (and sadly last since I've left Wales now) Clandestine Cake Club! 
It was hosted by the very lovely Katie who had opted for a Queen's Jubilee Tea theme.  Our cakes themselves didn't have to be representative of the Jubilee, they just had to be pretty, luxurious and something the Queen would enjoy eating! 

Although Katie went all out with the theme and even decorated her Black Forest Cherry Cake with cardboard cutouts of some Guards, The Queen and even Prince Philip! Very royal indeed! 

Christine made a classic victoria sponge covered in lashings of cream and strawberries.

Jane made a ginger cake covered in candied kumquats.  This was a nice pairing, and my first time trying kumquats - they were pretty tasty! 

Tracey's cake had to be my favourite of the night! because surprise suprise it involved coconut! It was a coconut cake, sandwiched with jam and buttercream and it was very delicious! 

Here's a shot of our spread, complete with Jubilee serviettes and everything! A super fun night was had by all and I'm hoping to start up a Clandestine Cake Club when we move to Vancouver! 

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

South African Granadilla Fridge Tart

As you know, my mom had a birthday recently and I made her Key Lime Pie.  It didn't even last 'til the 2nd evening of my stay! so after our birthday Braai we needed another dessert.  I helped my mom whip up this Granadilla Fridge Tart, a South African dessert that she said her mother made countless times when she was younger.  I don't know why she's waited so long to do the same for us! because it's the first time we had ever had it, and it's definitely not going to be the last - it was so delicious!

It occurred to me recently that the other South African desserts I have featured on my blog so far have both been no bake: Peppermint Crisp Fridge Tart and Romany Minty Choc Fridge Tart and now this dessert too  - I guess when you live in South Africa and are already contending with a hot climate then the last thing you feel like doing is turning on your oven.  

So back to the dessert.  From what I can tell Granadilla's are the same as what we call Passion Fruit, but in South Africa they will always be referred to as Granadilla.  I also have it in mind that Granadilla's are slightly larger too but it's been a long time since I've seen one, and they taste the same too! Regular Passion Fruit's were used to make this.  The original recipe calls for Tennis Biscuits, which I've mentioned on here before - they are South Africa's equivalent to Nice biscuits so you can use those or any biscuit crumb will work just fine. Hmm, I'm just imagining how good Graham Cracker crumbs would be with this! You can also use any flavour jelly you would like to switch things up, we kept ours totally tropical and used pineapple flavour jelly.  

This is a perfect summery dessert, it is so light and creamy and refreshing and I can't wait to bake up another one very soon.  I'm also thinking of how I can work some coconut in there too (aside from the coconut flavour biscuits that it already contains!) yes...the coconut obsession continues! 

Granadilla Fridge Tart:
Serves 6
Adapted from Food24

1 packet pineapple jelly
410g chilled evaporated milk
1/4 cup caster sugar
granadilla pulp from 5/6 granadillas
2 packets biscuits of your choice (Tennis/Rich Tea/Nice)
4 pineapple rings

Mix the jelly with 250ml boiling water and set aside to cool.
Beat the ideal milk until "stiffish", continue beating while adding the sugar.  It should look thickened.
Stir in the cool jelly and granadilla pulp, combine well.
Crush biscuits into crumbs.
In glass bowl, layer biscuit crumbs and then jelly mixture on top.  Repeat and finish off with a top layer of biscuits.
I decorated mine with a sprinkling of granadilla seeds and juice and a few slices of pineapple.
Refrigerate for at least 1 hour to set.

Sit back, and watch, as people will want to lick the bowl clean - it is that good! 

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Triple Coconut Brownies with Lindt Coconut Creation

A while ago I promised that I would tell you in great detail about this fabulous chocolate...and now is the time! Let me take you back to December last year, I had gone down to London for a day of fun with my sister.  We did what we always do, stuff our face with cupcakes and find as many yummy treats as possible! We found ourselves on the Kings Road because I was sourcing out some yummy Reese's ingredients from Partridge's.  For some reason, and I can't even remember why but we wondered into the Waitrose they have there...and that's when we found it! It was my sister Mara who spotted it and as I realised what it was she was pointing at there may or may not have been squeals of delight! We picked up a bar immediately and promptly headed to the till.  The only problem was, like I said, we had been stuffing our faces all day so we were too full at the time to eat the whole thing but we did each take one square of chocolate to try and it was amazing!! 

I want you to think of those Kinder sticks that you get, which just so happen to be a favourite childhood chocolate of mine.  They never used to sell them in England back in the day so they remind me of the last day of our summer holidays spent in France when we would head to the supermarche, take a mini kid sized trolley for a spin and fill it up with a stash of Kinder sticks that would last us for the next little while! 
Imagine that lovely creamy filling that you get in them, and then imagine that it's coconut flavour and sandwiched between a superior quality milk chocolate like Lindt? Is your mouth watering just a little at the thought? because let me tell you after that first taste I spent many a night dreaming about this chocolate bar! The reason I had to dream is because ever since that day in December, I have hunted it down in every Lindt store and Waitrose I can find to no avail! I tried the Waitrose in Angelsey (the only one in North Wales) and there was no Coconut Lindt in sight, I tried three different Waitrose stores when I went to visit my parents in Shropshire.  It became like that book hunt in the film Serendipity, where he couldn't not walk past a used book store without checking to see if the book with her phone number in was in there.  I couldn't walk past a Waitrose without going in to see if my new favourite chocolate was lurking in there, even when I would see those little mini Waitrose stores you get now and I knew deep down they would never stock it I would still have to check! 

It was getting rather desperate! I'd even tried to track it down online and on ebay and was drawing a blank.  When I had first got my hands on that bar in December my intentions had been to bake up something delicious with it, but it was so delicious that I just couldn't stop eating it when I got home from London and it disappeared rather quickly! So imagine my delight when after 5 months of hunting for it, I ended up in quite a large Waitrose in Ampthill when visiting my mother-in-law and I finally found it again! If I could have bought their whole supply right then I would have but being a poor student 2 bars was all I could afford! 

and then I set to work thinking of the most delicious thing I could think to bake in order to showcase the true yumminess of this chocolate bar! and this is what I came up with - fudgy chocolate brownies, filled with a layer of shredded coconut and condensed milk filling, and upon removing them from the oven I placed individual squares of the Lindt Coconut chocolate all over them and let them melt their magic into the top of the brownies.  

You know when things turn out even better then how you had planned in your head? well this bake was one of those! With each bite you got a rich fudgy brownie, a chewy creamy mouthful of coconut from the filling, a crisp crunch from the surface of the brownie and a taste of silky smooth creamy coconut filling followed by some ooey gooey melted chocolate - hmmm: most definitely the best brownie that has ever been made by my hands.

If you're a coconut lover then you need these in your life - and you need that chocolate bar in your life for sure! So for now I can guarantee that if you go to Waitrose on the King's Road or in Ampthill you will find it...if anyone else has any rare Coconut Creation Lindt sightings then let me know! 

Triple Coconut Brownies:
Makes 15
Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

For the brownies:

1 1/4 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
310g dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
225g unsalted butter, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 1/2 cups caster sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
4 eggs, at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup coconut milk

For the filling:

2 cups shredded coconut
2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk

For the topping:

One bar of Lindt Coconut Creation, broken into individual squares

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
Butter the sides and bottom of a 9 x 13 inch pan and line it with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour salt and cocoa powder together.  Set aside.
Put the chocolate and butter in a large bowl and set it over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and smooth.  Turn off the heat, but keep the bowl over the water and add the sugars.  Whisk until completely combined, then remove the bowl from the pan.  The mixture should be room temperature.  

Add 2 eggs to the chocolate mixture and whisk to combine, add the remaining eggs and whisk again.  Add the vanilla and coconut milk and stir until combined.  Do not overbeat the batter at this stage or your brownies will be cakey (and that is something no brownie should ever have to go through).

Sprinkle the flour mixture over the chocolate mixture.  Using a rubber spatula (not a whisk) fold the flour mixture into the chocolate until just a bit of the flour mixture is visible.  

Pour half the batter into the prepared pan.  Smooth the top.  Mix the shredded coconut and condensed milk together in a medium sized bowl.  Spread this mixture on top of the brownie mix.  Pour the remaining half of the brownie batter on top of the coconut filling and smooth the top.

Bake in the centre of the oven for 28-30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with a few moist crumbs sticking to it.  Break the Lindt Coconut Chocolate into individual pieces and gently press each piece into the top of the brownie.  Leave the chocolates to melt into the brownie for 5 or so minutes.  Leave the brownies to cool completely, then lift them out of the pan using the parchment paper.  Cut into squares and serve.  

Sit back, eat, gorge, indulge, and wonder how you have lived for so long without these beauts in your life?! 


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