Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Triple Toasted Coconut Rocky Road

Do you ever get baking epiphanies? I do...and they occur at the most random times in the most random places.  Five weeks ago, I was in the queue at Tesco waiting to pay for my groceries when an epiphany struck...a coconut rocky road epiphany! I turned to Byron and exclaimed excitedly 'I'm thinking up the most amazing baked treat' to which he replied 'just don't', and then the conversation halted! In the car on the way home I asked him if he wanted to hear what the amazing baked treat was, to which he replied no! He told me I need to calm down with all the baking due to our waistlines and our Vancouver fund...

Fast forward five weeks and Byron is declaring this the best rocky road I've ever made! and my snickers one takes some I'm feeling triumphant on this one!

but when you're making something consisting of purely the ingredients above how can it not be?! I started with Lindt Coconut Intense chocolate - it's a dark chocolate with toasted caramelised coconut inside.  I'm happy to use dark chocolate in baked goods but I'm not a fan of the taste of it by itself so I paired it with some Milka so it wasn't too dark and it worked beautifully.  A thick rich chocolate with strands of coconut throughout.  Throw in some toasted coconut marshmallows which my sister kindly gifted to me, and some coconut M&M's which my other sister gifted to me! and some crushed Nice biscuits (because they're coconut flavoured don't you know!) and then finish off with a sprinkled of toasted shredded coconut. 

If you think there it too much coconut going on, think again! 
You need to make this for all your coconut loving friends, you even need to make it for your coconut hating friends because I guarantee no one could turn down this level of deliciousness!

Usually I try to space out my coconut desserts on here because I know some followers aren't fans of it, but I moved this post straight to the front of the blogging queue because it's too amazing not to share!

Triple Toasted Coconut Rocky Road:
Makes 12
From Cupcake Crazy Gem

400g Milka chocolate
100g Lindt Coconut Intense chocolate
2 tsp vegetable oil
130g toasted coconut marshmallows (I used Plush gourmet ones)
75g Nice biscuits
70g coconut M&M's
10g desiccated coconut

For decoration:
15g toasted shredded coconut
20g toasted coconut marshmallows
15g coconut M&M's

Line a baking pan with parchment paper.

Melt both chocolates together in a glass bowl set above a pan of boiling water, and add vegetable oil.
Once it is completely melted, take off heat and set aside to cool for 10 minutes.
Chop marshmallows in half, and break the biscuits into 6 small pieces.  Stir the marshmallows, biscuits, M&M's and desiccated coconut into the bowl of chocolate and mix together.
Transfer into the pre prepared baking pan.

 Put shredded coconut on a baking tray and place under the grill for 2-3 minutes until lightly toasted. 
Press the marshmallows and M&M's into the surface of the rocky road and sprinkle the toasted shredded coconut liberally.
Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Chop into bars and serve.

I have submitted these for the Alphabakes challenge, hosted by The More Than Occasional Baker (who is hosting this month) and Caroline Makes because the theme this month is T.

I'm also linking them up to the zero baking required challenge by Maison Cupcake, if you're not feeling like turning your oven on in this mini heatwave either then no bake desserts are the way forward! 


Thursday, 16 August 2012

Chocolate & Coconut Birthday Layer Cake

A few months back a guy from my church sent me a text asking if I could make a birthday cake for his wife. I love making cakes, especially birthday cakes! I will bake cakes any day of the week if I am asked, try me - it's true! but unfortunately the date of her birthday was the same day as my very last ever university exam for my masters degree.  

As much as I love baking and it will generally take precedence over anything else scholastically related or other...even if I had to draw the line at replacing last minute revision by a baking session...

but I really didn't want to let him down, after all he had showered me with compliments in the text message about how his wife loves following my blog and everything I make and no other cake would be good enough.

So I told him, if he didn't mind it being a day late, I could whip it up the evening after my exam and drop it round the next day and so it was a done deal! 

The only guidance he gave me was that she likes things that are pink or girly, and I knew she was a lover of coconut so this coconut and chocolate layer cake complete with plenty of pink and plenty of girliness was created!

I used my go to chocolate cake recipe but substituted the regular milk for coconut milk.  I decided it was looking a little too pink and so came up with the idea to pipe little chocolate frosting swirls all the way around the top of the cake.  I melted a little coconut chocolate into the frosting too to give it a coconut hint.  

After I dropped it off, I received a text message from the husband saying he had been given the duty of cutting it since his wife thought it was too pretty to cut so I think it went down well! 

If I had a picture of the inside of the cake you would see pink frosting peeking out from all the chocolatey layers but as thorough as a food blogger as I am, giving someone a birthday cake with one slice cut out of purely for photography purposes is a definite no-no, so you'll have to use your imaginations or bake one up for yourself to see the prettiness! 

Chocolate & Coconut Layer Cake:
Serves 16

230g good quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids - I used Lindt)
170g unsalted butter, at room temperature
350g light soft brown sugar
3 large eggs, free range or organic, separated
370g plain flour, sifted
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
500ml coconut milk, at room temperature
2 teaspoons good quality vanilla extract (I use Nielsen-Massey)

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
Grease three 8" cake tins (this recipe makes 3 cakes, I had a silicone cake tin disaster with one of my cakes so only ended up using 2 in the end!)
Break the chocolate into pieces and melt in 30 second intervals in a glass bowl in the microwave, or using a bain marie.  Set bowl aside to cool. 
Cream the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl for 3-5 minutes until the mixture is pale and smooth.
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.  
Add the cooled chocolate to this mixture and beat well again.
Combine the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt in a separate bowl.  
Combine the coconut 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.  
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).
Divide the mixture evenly between the cake tins and bake for about 30 minutes.
Insert a knife into the centre of one of the cakes, it should come out clean if cooked.
Leave to cool in cake tins for 10 minutes.  Gently run a knife around the edge of the cake and release cake from the tin, transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  

Coconut Frosting:
Makes one batch (I used two batches to frost the above cake)

375g icing sugar
120g unsalted butter, softened
40ml coconut milk

Beat the icing sugar and butter together in a freestanding electric mixer on medium speed until the mixture comes together.  
Add coconut milk and beat until it has been incorporated.
Turn up to high speed and beat for 5 minutes until the frosting is light and fluffy.
Tint the frosting using red gel colour to the desired shade of pale pink.
Repeat this again to make a second batch (I don't like to make double batches in one go because when you're dealing with such large amounts of icing sugar it leaves a sugar covering over everything in your kitchen!)

Chocolate Coconut Frosting:
Makes half a batch (enough to pipe the swirls above)

45g dark chocolate (70% Lindt)
45g dark coconut chocolate (I used Lindt Excellence)
113g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 tbsp semi-skimmed milk, at room temperature
1/2 tsp good quality vanilla extract
145g icing sugar, sifted

Melt the chocolate in 30 second intervals in a glass bowl in the microwave until smooth.  Leave to cool slightly.  In a freestanding bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter, milk, vanilla extract and icing sugar until smooth - this can take several minutes.  Add the melted chocolate and beat again until smooth.

To Assemble:

Level your cakes using a very sharp knife or a cake leveller.
Apply a generous amount of coconut frosting in between each layer of cake.  Apply a final thin crumb coat all over the cake.  Put in the fridge for 30 minutes.  Take out of the fridge, and apply a very thin layer of coconut frosting.  Smooth it out using a sharp knife dipped in hot water.  
Using a open star tip or a 1m nozzle, pipe the remainder of your coconut frosting around the outside of the cake, starting in the middle and working your way out in small circles to create the swirls.
Do individual swirls on the top of the cake using the chocolate-coconut frosting.  Finish with a pink sugar heart on each swirl. 
Melt chocolate candy melts in a small bowl.  Put in a piping bag once slightly cooled.  Pipe out the writing you want to put on top of the cake on to a piece of parchment paper.  Once it is completely cool and hard, transfer it to the top of the cake and press it into the frosting.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Giant S'mores Stuffed Choc Chip Cookies for National S'mores Day!

Happy National S'mores Day!
We couldn't have asked for better timing here in the UK because after a few weeks of washout weather the sun has FINALLY remembered it's late to the party and has put in an appearance which means everyone should be BBQing it up tonight and in our house BBQ's = S'mores! So for all you first timers out there who have yet to enjoy the s'moreish goodness I'm urging you all to go out buy some marshmallows, buy a pack of biscuits, buy some super delish choc (Milka was my choc of choice this time) and join in the s'mores party, seen as how it's National S'mores Day it would be rude not to!!

My search continues to incorporate s'mores into every baked good possible! so when I stumbled upon Tara's amazing s'mores stuffed chocolate chip cookies I knew I had to bake some up!

Tara made her own graham crackers from scratch but after trying my hand at these a few months back I don't think they compare to regular graham crackers - there's not enough crunch to them! so I stuck with Nabisco's boxed ones to keep the cookies as authentic as possible!

I decided to incorporate both milk and white chocolate chunks into my cookies just to add to the fun! and yes that's about a fistful size of cookie dough you have to put either side of the ready made s'more! 

So I ended up baking my cookies on one baking tray at the time because by the time they spread out in the oven they were the size of small pizzas! 

Yes, they're over the top! but who could deny a giant warm and melted chocolate studded cookie complete with a gooey marshmallow s'more baked into the middle! Not me, that's for sure!

Go get some s'mores love, you won't be disappointed!

Giant S'mores Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies:
Makes 4

For the cookie dough:
2 cups plus 2 tbsp plain flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
12 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled until warm
1 cup soft brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup milk chocolate chunks
3/4 cup white chocolate chunks

For assembly:
1 cookie dough recipe, at room temperature
8 graham cracker squares, broken into halves
4 marshmallows, chopped in half lengthwise
2 rows of milk chocolate from an 100g bar of Milka (or your chocolate of choice)

Prepare 4 s'mores: Break each graham cracker square in half.  Place 2-3 squares of milk chocolate (depending on which size/brand you have used) on top of the graham cracker.  Cut marshmallows lengthwise, place one half on top of the chocolate.  Finish with the graham cracker half.  Set those 4 s'mores aside for later.

For the cookie dough: Whisk the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt together in a medium bowl; set aside.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or by hand, mix butter and sugars until thoroughly combined.  Beat in the egg, yolk and vanilla until combined.  Add dry ingredients and beat at low speed just until combined - the batter should look a little lumpy.  Stir in chocolate chips.  

Preheat oven to 160 degrees C.  Line two baking trays with parchment paper.  
Get two large spoonfuls of cookie dough and shape them into a flat circle.  Put the cookie dough round onto the baking tray and place a pre prepared s'more on top.  Take two more spoonfuls of cookie dough and shape them into a round and place them on top of the graham cracker and then shape the dough around the s'more until it is completely covered - at this stage it will resemble a cookie dough mound!

Mine were so big that I had to use one tray per cookie, so I baked in two sessions.  Bake for 20-24 minutes or until the tops and edges are slightly browned and the edges just lift off the tray with a spatula.  The s'mores will most likely peek out of the cookies but it just adds to the charm so go with it! 
Leave them to cool on the trays for 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool for a further 10 minutes.

If you have made something s'moreishly delicious then hop on over to Mandy's blog where you can add your blog post to her link party - go on...then we can have a giant collection of s'more related baked goods - it will be amazing! It doesn't just have to be something you've made today either!

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Raspberry & Lemon Loaf Cake

So I interrupt regular programming of over the top decadent American treats to bring you this rather English bake for once! It isn't the sort of thing I'd choose to whip up in my spare time but I was going to Oxford to pay a visit to my granny and I wanted to bring her something she enjoyed.  I heard she is a lemon drizzle fan, but that was a little too boring for me to bake so I decided to jazz it up a little with some raspberries.

The recipe I had bookmarked a few weeks before that fit the bill perfectly called for plain yoghurt.  I was in the yoghurt aisle trying to decide which yoghurt would be best when my eyes landed on this Yeo Valley Lemon Curd yoghurt! It was a done deal and I like to think it doubled the yumminess of this little loaf cake!

I think the yoghurt helps to keep it deliciously moist too, and nothing beats fresh raspberries! Whilst I said at the start of this blog post it's not the kind of bake I'd usually whip up, I wouldn't think twice about baking this again because it really did impress me! 

Raspberry & Lemon Loaf Cake:
Serves 10
Adapted from Shopgirl

1 1/2 cups plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup lemon curd yoghurt (or you can use plain if you'd prefer but your cake won't be as tasty!)
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
grated zest of one lemon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups fresh raspberries


1/2 cup icing sugar
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.  Grease a loaf tin.
In the bowl of a freestanding electric mixer, sift together flour, baking powder and salt.  In another smaller bowl, whisk together yoghurt, 1 cup of sugar, eggs, lemon zest and vanilla.  With the mixture running, begin adding the wet ingredients to the dry, until you have a smooth mixture.  Then, using a spatula, fold in the oil.  

Sprinkle the raspberries with about 1/2 tbsp of plain flour and toss gently so they are all coated.  Add them to the batter, make sure you stir them in very gently and carefully so they don't fall apart.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf tin and bake for 50-60 minutes, until an inserted knife comes out clean.  Leave in tin to cool for 10 minutes, then loosen the edges of the loaf with a knife before transferring it to a wire rack to cool completely.

While the loaf is cooling, make the drizzle.  In a small bowl, whisk together the sifted icing sugar and lemon juice.  Pour the drizzle over the loaf and let it sink in, this will make it moist and give a nice crunch on top.

I'm entering this into bookmarked recipes over at Tinned Tomatoes...

and since raspberries are in their prime right now (and I just can't get enough of them) I'm also entering it into   Calendar Cakes hosted by Dolly Bakes and Laura Loves Cakes because the theme is British summertime and fruit picking to me is one of the best British summer pastimes there is! I used to be a strawberry girl at heart but these days raspberries have taken over and are now my fave summer fruit!

Thursday, 2 August 2012

United Bakes of America Round Three...and a Mississippi Mud Cake for the state of Mississippi

So you're probably thinking that looks like a funny apple butter cake! but I was planning to bake that since it came from West Virginia for Alphabakes' W challenge but I realised the submission date was going to be before I blogged so I had a change of plan...and Byron (my husband) actually picked out the choice for this month!

He told me I'd been spending too much time with Warren recently, as I walked into the lounge with United Bakes of America tucked under my arm! Warren is the author of the book! I guess my husband is either one fantastic listener or I bend his ear too much about blogging considering he knows the authors names of my recipe books! hehe

So I agreed that he could pick the recipe for me to bake this month, no surprises that the chocolate lover in him went for this Mississippi Mud Cake.  It is an extremely rich dense cake that actually calls for unsweetened chocolate which is100% cocoa solids, and then of course there's that chocolate-y muddy icing too! with a layer of toasted marshmallows in between.

No prizes for where this cake originates from! It gets the mud cake part of it's name from the Mississippi river itself which carries more than 400,000 tons of silt, mud and sand every day.  The mud's rich darkness makes bakers think of chocolate,and so it has inspired all sorts of Mississippi mud concoctions like the infamous Mississippi Mud Pie.  This is a tribute to the river in cake form, it doesn't contain any baking soda or baking powder because it's supposed to be flat, dense and intense - just like the river!
You may be interested to discover that the Mississippi river directly touched 10 different states, and in America where states are so enormous that is no mean feat, we're talking about a huuuge river! 

I'm beginning to doubt whether Warren has actually baked any of the recipes in the book himself! After having problems with the last two recipes I've tried...this time the muddy icing didn't work out either.  I added the liquids to the icing sugar and instead of it whipping up into a nice glossy pourable icing, it turned into a big dough like blob!! I had followed the recipe exactly so I wasn't too impressed! Luckily with a lot of cream and some hot milk I managed to save it and turn it into more of a ganache...but Warren needs to pull his socks up, because if I don't have more success with his book in the coming months I'm thinking of ditching it and switching it out for my new Martha book.

Mississippi Mud Cake:
Serves 12

1 1/2 cups plain flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp double cream
9 ozs unsweetened chocolate (100%), melted
8 ozs unsalted butter, softened
2 cups caster sugar
2 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
3 cups mini marshmallows

Preheat the oven to 165 degrees C.  Grease a 7 x 11 inch brownie pan.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder and salt.  Set aside.
Mix the chocolate and the double cream together in a separate bowl.
In the bowl of a free standing electric mixer, cream the butter and the sugar and mix on low speed for 3 mins.
Add the eggs and yolks all at once before the mixture creams.
Add the dry ingredients and mix briefly, do not fully combine.
Stop the mixer, scrape down the sides and scrape the batter off the beater, and gently fold in the chocolate mixture with a metal spoon.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 25-30mins, crumbs should stick to a knife inserted in the middle - you do not want it to come out clean.
Top the cake with a generous layer of marshmallows.  Return it to the oven and bake for approx. 5 minutes longer but watch it carefully as the marshmallows can burn easily.
Set the cake aside to cool.

For the muddy icing:

4 ozs unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 cups icing sugar
5 ozs dark chocolate (I used half milk/half white because I didn't want the whole thing to be super rich)

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk slowly to blend.  Avoid incorporating air so that the "mud" won't crack after it sets.

If your icing has worked I congratulate you! If you had rather not risk it then use 3 cups of icing sugar instead of 4, and add 150 ml double cream and 50ml heated milk to make the icing into a pourable consistency!

and now let's check out what you've all been baking this month!

Ros from The More Than Occasional Baker was first off the mark with these whoopie pies.  Not only did she use the very American ingredient of marshmallow fluff (which can we all celebrate for a moment that you can get it in supermarkets now - hooray!) but whoopies pies themselves are as American as they come.  They are actually the official bake of Maine, Amish wives used to use the leftover batter to make these and stash them in their farmer husbands lunchboxes.  The history books say that as the farmers would open up their lunchboxes to discover those tasty treats they would exlclaim 'whoopie'! and so the whoopie pie was born and Americans have been whipping them up ever since! I love Ros's filling to cake ratio, the more fluff the better in my opinion! and covering the filling in sprinkles adds a fun touch too!

and Caroline from Caroline Makes made this Walnut Espresso Layer Cake from the recipe book of one of my very favourite London bakeries - Outsider Tart.  It was baked for a coffee lovers birthday so I'm sure it went down a treat especially with those exploding maltesers coming from the cake which Caroline attached with florists wire for a fancy finish! 

Kerry from Kerry Cooks baked up these Peanut Butter Choc Fudge Brownies with Pretzels.  We clearly think alike since I baked up brownies with those exact same flavours earlier in the month! I love how each of Kerry's brownies has a whole devoted pretzel on the top of each portion! and that still warm and melty drizzle of chocolate is certainly very inviting! She had a whole month of American bakes this past month so go check out what else she made! 

Finally, my sister, Tamara, baked up these Rocky Road Brownies.  It's a dense fudgy brownie with chocolate fudge frosting, and then the fun part begins as it is piled high with marshmallows, shortbread, maltesers and honeycomb and of course that all important drizzle of white chocolate to finish it off!

So that's it for another month! Thanks to all who joined in, I just love seeing your U.S bakes! I haven't quite decided what I'm going to bake this month but it will be something delicious and decadent that's for sure - come back at the end of the month to check it out or join in with us and submit your American themed bakes - whether it's the ingredient, the recipe used, or the style of cake e.g bundt cake/pound cake.


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