Wednesday, 28 July 2010

National Cheesecake Day! Free cheesecake!

From L-R: Swiss Alps Chocolate Truffle, Crazy Chocolate Vanilla,
Cookie Dough Collision, Chocolate Truffle Honey I'm Comb,
Chocolate Heaven (A combo of 4 different ones)

So I never really thought of myself as a cheesecake lover! To be honest I'm not a big fan of cheese so associating something I'm already not fond of, and it being savoury didn't really make cheesecake sound so appealing! but I was only used to regular vanilla cheesecake...and all that changed when I stumbled upon The English Cheesecake Company.  I was browsing online sometime last year and I came upon their amazing website! Immediately I was left wanting to try some of this delicious looking cheesecake! I mean a cheesecake covered in Oreos - how could I resist! but I felt ordering a whole one for myself was too indulgent! (although I have since found out they are delivered frozen so you could keep it in your freezer and just take out a slice each day as you desire!) so I just enjoyed looking at their pictures and seeing what inventive flavours they came up with next! 

However all that changed when I finally got to try some at the beginning of this year! as my sister now works for them - imagine my delight! so I have often been able to indulge in some of their dreamy cheesecakes and let me say the pictures do not disappoint, they taste just as delicious as they look! In fact don't just take my word for it, you can try some yourself for FREE, that's right I said free!

In light of National Cheesecake Day, The English Cheesecake Company will be in Selfridge's Food Hall on Friday 30th July handing out free samples of their Strawberry vanilla Cheeseake.  So if you find yourself in London anyway pop by, and if you're not in London why not make a trip - I promise it will be worth it! I know I plan to!

Since we're not all chocolate fans, here are some of their fruity cheesecakes you can buy from their website:

From L-R: Strawberries & Queen, Mango Coconut Cabana, Mango Passionate,
Toffee Apple, Raspberry Split, Fruit Fantasy (a combo of 4 different ones)

Monday, 26 July 2010

Double Peppermint Oreo Brownies...revisited!

A long time ago I made mint oreo brownies! I am a HUGE Oreo you will know by now if you read my blog from time to time.  I had stumbled upon this recipe and decided I had to make it, but without actual mint Oreo's I improvised and used regular Oreo's but substituted half of the chocolate for Mint Aero so it still had a minty taste.  This time round I could make the real deal since my amazing friend brought me some back from NYC!

I decided, over a year on, since I had originally made them I'd browse around and see what other Mint Oreo recipes I could find! so in the end I took a few little ideas from different places and put them altogether to produce the ULTIMATE Mint Oreo Brownies! I mean who knows how long it will be before I get my hands on some of these delicacies again so I had to make sure my baking sesh would be memorable!

I started off by using the original Mint Oreo brownie recipe I had found, and here's a pic when it was fresh out the oven - look how much cuter it looks with that green filling peeking out of the Oreo's!

Peppermint Oreo Brownies:
1 cup butter
6 oz. Dark Chocolate, chopped
3 cups  caster sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 2/3 cups Plain flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 cups roughly chopped peppermint oreo-type cookies (approx 18)

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees c.
2. In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt together butter and chocolate, stirring occasionally. 
3. Whisk in sugar, salt and vanilla, then turn off heat. 
4. Whisk in eggs one at a time, waiting until each is fully incorporated before adding the next. 
5. Stir in flour and cocoa powder until mixture is uniform. Stir in peppermint oreo cookies and pour batter into pan.
5. Crush 3-4 additional cookies finely and sprinkle on top of batter, if desired.
6. Bake for about 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with moist crumbs, but not coated with batter.
7. Cool brownies in pan for about 20 minutes.

I decided I wasn't finished there, and that I would add a peppermint frosting.  So here is the recipe I used for that:

1/4 c. softened butter
1/4 c. double cream
85g softened cream cheese
1/4 tsp. peppermint extract
4 drops of green food coloring
3 1/2 c. icing sugar

1. In an electric mixer add butter, cream, cream cheese, peppermint and green food colouring with 1 cup of the sugar.  Start on slow speed and then when it starts to come together turn to medium until it is well blended.
2. Add another cup of sugar and beat on high speed, repeat with the rest of the sugar.
3. Spread frosting on brownies when cool and refrigerate for 1 hour.

...but I still wasn't finished! I decided for once I'd try and make some chocolate ganache style topping.  I usually shy away from recipes involving ganache simply because I never have any cream in the fridge! and a never ending supply of butter means buttercream is always the easiest and laziest option! but I went to the shop today and bought some cream so I was ready and equipped! 

Chocolate Topping:
100g Milk Chocolate
50g Dark Chocolate
1/3 c. softened butter
1/3 c. double cream

1. In a saucepan heat all ingredients on medium heat.  Keep stirring until chocolate is all melted and topping is looking smooth and glossy.
2.  Pour it over the frosting, cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.
3. Once set, remove from the fridge.  Let stand for 10 mins and then cut into squares.

So I decided after 3 layers of fun my brownies were done, but I couldn't resist adding a little something a mini Oreo just topped them off:

You've probably guessed by now these certainly aren't for people watching their weight, in fact I don't even want to think about how many calories there are in these bad boys...I mean you've got the chocolate chunks at the bottom of the brownie, the chopped up mint Oreo's, the mint frosting, the chocolate ganache and the oreo on top! but man they taste so good that they are completely worth it! 

Thursday, 22 July 2010

You are Gold...Wispa Gold!

You will be surprised to see that I have not used mint Oreos or any of my American goods for this little snippet of baking! Shame on me...sorry to keep you in suspense! but I have a love of Wispa may say it's a bit of an obsession, and you may or may not have noticed I'm quite an obsessive person.  Just recently Byron asked me why I had to be 'obsessed' with cupcakes, why couldn't I just have decided to 'like' them! well I just can't help myself...the liking turns into loving and next thing you know I'm hooked! It was the same with Wispa Golds...I saw the adverts around when they were first brought out, I thought hmm they look yum I must try one of those, and then the very next day went out of my way to two different garages to see if they did have them (they did not) and from then on it became a hunt to find them anywhere I could! When the shop on my drive home from work did start stocking them it became a necessary stop each evening to buy one, yes sometimes it was two (don't tell Byron!) and so of course I am upset that they no longer grace the shelves of that little shop on the way home from work and I am left without my Wispa Gold fix...until now that is!

I found this little gem of a website that sells food rather cheaply due to a forthcoming expiry date.  I was pretty excited to see I could buy 4 Wispa Gold's for £1, that's 25p each! My daily WG fix used to set me back 65p so that's a pretty good saving.  I promptly added 12 to my basket, and then found out I had to pay £5.25 for the postage.  I'm pretty sure that hefty postage fee no longer makes my 4 for £1 seem like such a great deal, but since you can't get them in shops anymore I made the sacrifice.

I had big plans for these cupcakes! I had been dreaming them up ever since I made the order, but in the end due to a rather hectic week and with a possible imminent move to Turks and Caicos (but I'll save that news for another day!) it ended up being around midnight when I was making these ready for my last day of School today and so I did away with my idea of chocolate and caramel swirled frosting and just had to settle for caramel by itself.

Usually I make mini's when I take them into work, the teacher's feel much less guilty about the indulgence if it's mini size! but I had planned to bake little chunks of the bar into the cupcake and so they needed to be fairly sizeable so I opted for fairy cake size...not too big and not too small either.

I used my delicious chocolate cake recipe from the Primrose Bakery, and also ended up using their caramel buttercream recipe too.  I had planned to throw some dulche de leche into vanilla buttercream to just be done with it, but after discovering I had used up my last tin I decided making it from scratch was my only option! I was a bit apprehensive, the words in the recipe cautioned not to let it burn you! and the boiling sugar process when I should have been fast asleep didn't sound like the best idea, Byron even suggested driving to the 24hr Sainsburys to get some dulche de leche instead which showed how much faith he had in my caramel making skills! but I persevered and it turned out great.  I knew I wouldn't have enough to do my usual mound of frosting and I wasn't about to whip up another batch, and as it turned out it was quite rich frosting anyway so I think it was the right amount on each cupcake in the end.  

I chopped up an extra little piece of Wispa Gold and stuck it on the top, when I awoke this morning the caramel from the piece of chocolate had melted down into the frosting which was a nice surprise! and added extra moistness and yumminess!

Chocolate Cupcakes:
Makes 16
From Cupcakes from the Primrose Bakery

115g good quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids - I used Lindt)
85g unsalted butter, at room temperature
175g light soft brown sugar
2 large eggs, free range or organic, separated
185g plain flour, sifted
3/4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
Pinch of salt
250ml semi skimmed milk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon good quality vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 180 degrees c.
1. Break the choc into pieces and melt in 30 second intervals in a glass bowl in the microwave.  Set bowl aside to cool.
2. Cream the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl for 3-5 minutes until the mix is pale and smooth.
3. Put the egg yolks in a separate bowl and beat them for several minutes, slowly add the egg yolks to the creamed butter and sugar and beat well. 
4. Add the cooled chocolate to this mixture and beat well again.
5. Combine the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt in a separate bowl.  Combine the milk and vanilla extract in a jug.  Add one third of the flour to the creamed mixture and beat well.  Pour in one third of the milk and beat again.  Repeat these steps until all the flour and milk have been added.
6. 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 mixture).  
7. Divide the mixture evenly between the cupcake cases and bake for 20-25 minutes.
8. Insert a skewer in the centre of one of the cakes, it should come out clean if cooked.  Leave to cool.

Caramel Frosting:
From Cupcakes From the Primrose Bakery

60g unsalted butter, at room temperature
6 tablespoons milk, at room temperature
220g light soft brown sugar
240g icing sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon good quality vanilla extract

Place the butter, milk and brown sugar in a heavy saucepan over a high heat and stir to combine.  Bring to the boil, stirring continuously, and allow it to boil for 1 minute.

Remove from the heat and stir in half of the icing sugar.  Leave the mixture to cool slightly, then add the remainder of the icing sugar and the vanilla extract and stir until it thickens to the desired consistency. 

The icing is best used immediately.  If you do need to make it in advance, thin it with a little double cream and beat well before using.  Alternatively heat the icing for 10 seconds in the microwave.

To assemble:

Pipe swirls of caramel frosting on to your cupcakes once they are cool.  Cut thin slices of Wispa Gold and top the cupcakes with them.  If you leave them overnight in an air tight container, the caramel from the piece of Wispa Gold will have drizzled out over the cupcake - delish! 

I have been absolutely loving these past few days, every day has bought new cards and gifts from various people related to my employment as I'm winding down at my job now.  School finishes this week and then I finish with the little girl I work with in 2 weeks time, and luckily for me the gifts and cards are appearing in all kinds of fun cupcake forms!

Check out the amazing personalised cupcakes card! and this little beauty of a paperweight which I am just in love with! it is too cute!

I'm sharing this over at
Cupcake Tuesday at

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Mint Oreo Madness...and why I love America!

So I have fantastic friends! like my friend Nikki who went on a little East Coast trip last week and asked me what I wanted her to bring back for wasn't hard to decide - I asked for mint Oreos and it's what I ask for everytime I get asked that question! They are simply impossible to find here in the UK...occasionally US food websites get them in for a split second and then they go out of stock again, and they are just an absolute fave of mine! One of our traditions in my 2nd year of Uni when I was back in halls was to get together and make Oreo shakes! and one time we were able to make mint Oreo shakes (after another kind American friend had sent me some in the post!) so when Nikki came to visit I knew what we were going to make, to relive our uni days:

Mint Oreo Shakes - Absolutely delish

I forgot how good they had been that long! So I have just one box and a half left and I must use them wisely, I've been browsing through all my mint Oreo recipes that I have been storing up in preparation for when I could get my hands on some of these! so watch out later in the week for more mint Oreo baking! but for now I leave you with a Sundae Sunday:

Layers of chocolate fudge brownie, in between mint ice cream and chocolate ice cream, with crushed up mint oreo in between and hot fudge sauce to finish

I also have a fantastic husband, who allowed me to spend far too much this week ordering these goodies from The Stateside Candy Co which is an amazing website selling the best variety of American groceries, sweets and baking supplies that I have seen...and at the best prices too! So I was ridiculously excited when my box of goodies arrived on Friday, I found these Lucky Charm fakes for half the price of original Lucky Charms and whilst I was dubious about how they would compare I was pleasantly surprised to find they tasted just as good as General Mills' version!  I also bought a few baking bits and bobs that are going to help me make these Peanut Butter Brownies and these S'mores Bars so watch out for some yummy baking coming your way over the next few weeks!

Monday, 12 July 2010

Raspberry fields forever!

Yesterday, because it was ridiculously sunny, and it could well and truly be called a summer's day we went to the PYO...because I can't remember a summer when picking fruit hasn't featured! We were going to pick some strawberries and raspberries, however when we got there we found out they were all out of strawberries so raspberries it had to be! which was great news for me, as in the past few months I have discovered that in fact raspberries now beat strawberries hands down! and they are defo my number one berry! not so good news for Byron who is much more of a strawberry man!

Here we are in full flow...enjoying the fruit picking fun! and in the photo beneath you can see how amazingly blue the sky was!

So what better way to start off our Sunday morning than with some fresh raspberry pancakes! By even added some of them into the batter which made them even more delicious.  I topped mine with some raspberry yoghurt (since we decided it was probably a little too early for ice cream!) and finished off with a sprinkling of the berries themselves.

This evening, I whipped up some meringues following Delia's recipe and mixed a little red food colouring through them before they were baked to make them more fun.

And what better way to finish off our Sunday than with a Sundae!  An eton mess Sundae to be exact...although this is the Braithwaite version...we have it with ice cream instead of cream since I'm not really a cream fan and we have raspberries accompanying our strawberries for double the berry goodness! and we have it in awesome cupcake bowls! 

I loved the swirled effect in the meringue, and the raspberries were so fresh and delicious - this was definitely a happy ending to a very happy weekend!

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Cupcake Club and Snickers Rocky Road Cupcakes!

I was very excited about the upcoming cupcake club! The absence of Iron Cupcake had left a huge cupcake shaped void in my life...and so even though I was away the whole weekend house hunting in Wales I made sure I was going to make it to the first meet up (and hopefully not the last!) so it was a late night baking sesh for me!

My Snickers Rocky Road that I make is just one of my fail safe recipes, it is so amazingly easy to make and produces delicious results every time! so I knew it had to feature somehow! I settled on Snickers cupcake that I was going to fill with caramel and peanuts and then I was going to try a marshmallow frosting for the 'rocky road' part of it.

Here is the baking process.  I made these Devil's Food Cupcakes and adapted them slightly as part of a Snickers recipe.  They called for coffee granules but since I don't partake of any form of caffeine I left this out.  I read after on google that the coffee granules bring out the chocolate flavour so I should have probably added a bit more cooca powder to make up for omitting the granules but they still tasted pretty good to me.  I added a cup of chopped up peanuts mixed with some dulche de leche, and cut a hole in the top of each cupcake and filled them with this caramel mixture.

I then whipped up some marshmallow frosting.  It was my first time making this and I was a bit nervous it wouldn't work out! but it was super easy and it piped on like a dream, it really tasted just like marshmallow!

I then topped them with my Snickers Rocky Road which I had let set in little heart silicone cases to make the heart shape.  I got a bit carried away and these were really bigger than I had intended! I was planning on just cutting a little square out to top it with but they are so delicious that I figured no-one would mind having such a big topper!

So I set off for Cupcake Club and it was a great night of yummy cupcakes and good company.  Here is our little sampler plate we had.  Andrea made peanut butter cupcakes, and I don't usually like peanut butter but these were delicious and even had a reese's peanut butter cup in the bottom! Kelly, who hosted the event, made coconut hi-hats...the combo of coconut and marshmallow is always such a winner in my book and I loved the colour co-ordinating tops.  Mara made lemon and lime cupcakes with a mascarpone frosting which were delish, and a refreshing change from all the chocolate-y ness of the other cupcakes!

Kelly has written a more comprehensive write up here that you can check out.  
One of the best parts of the night was that Lisa from Yummy Boutique came along to answer all our cupcake related questions and tell us all about her business! It was fascinating being able to pick her brains and gave me a much better insight into what the life of a professional baker is actually like...I'm not sure I'm hardcore enough for it! She works right through the night before her Saturday market she does just to get everything baked and fresh! now that is dedication, you must go check out her stall on a Saturday outside Patridge's on the King's Road or order some of her cupcakes because they are delicious! She brought us these amazing fluffernutter cupcakes and the cake was so moist with a really creamy frosting!

Thanks to Kelly for arranging the meet-up, and to all the bakers for bringing such yummy treats!

And now onto the results of my 1st giveaway! Thanks to all those who entered and all my new followers :)
We have a winner!! Katiecakes, is now the owner of the brand new cupcake heaven book! congrats!

But...I was having so much fun with my giveaway I couldn't just stop at one winner! so I decided to have a runner up too...hooray! and they will win this book of yummy treats...


Congrats to Rhonda of Obsessed with Cupcakes for being runner up!

I'm joining in with these for Cupcake Tuesday, so head on over and see what everyone else has been whipping up this week!

Cupcake Tuesday at


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