Monday, 31 December 2012

Your Tastiest Treats of 2012!

So 2012 is nearly over, and when you read this I will be ringing in the New Year at Whistler! I can't wait! That place has become like our second home this past month, and I couldn't be happier about that because truly it's one of the most beautiful places on Earth!

For now, let's take a trip down memory lane and see the posts which were your favourite this year!

This was probably my favourite of 2012 (and hopefully Byron's too, since I made it for his birthday!) It's probably the most decadent layer cake I've ever made, and it definitely took the most time but it was SO worth it.  Chocolate chip studded cake, sandwiched with chocolate fudge and raw cookie dough, surrounded in cookie dough flavour frosting and finished off with more cookies - this time baked ones! If you have any cookie lovers birthday's coming up, this is worth the effort!

You just can't get enough of the South African treats! and despite me having a mishap when removing the base of my springform tin and the side of the biscuit crust caving in it's still a hit! How can it not be when you combine creamy layers of caramel whipped with cream with layers of coconut biscuits and those crystal shards of minty-ness that comprise my favourite chocolate bar - Peppermint Crisps! and the good news is on the bus the other day I saw a South African shop has just opened on West 4th so now I can get my Peppermint Crisp fix in Vancouver too! 

I made these S'mores cupcakes for our New Year's eve party last year! Graham cracker flavour cupcakes, with marshmallow frosting and cubes of chocolate on top - they were devoured pretty quick! I haven't even had to bake a special treat for this New Year's since we have enough sweet treats left over from Christmas to see us through the next 2 weeks!!

If you only make these cupcakes to check out this 'to-die-for' frosting then it will be worth it.  This chocolate-malt frosting turned out to be my most favourite frosting of 2012, I could eat it by the spoonful...and I did! The malt flavour cupcakes are pretty special too, and to top it all off you just have to complete it with mini Malteser Bunnies (if you live in the UK...I'm pretty sure you won't find them elsewhere which is not good news for will I get my fix come Easter!)

This was the first time I ever thought about combining peanut butter frosting with crushed up Oreo crumbs - it was a GOOD decision! Combined with my favourite chocolate cupcake recipe, these two made a fantastic pairing!

I made these for an Easter market stall I did.  I made several other flavours alongside these ones but I think these got the most 'oohs and aahs' from people passing by.  Not only does the frosting look like creme egg filling but it tastes exactly like it too!

These were a happy little accident that came about because I had loads of fresh pureed strawberry in the fridge just waiting to be used up! We took these to a summer BBQ at a friends house, it was pure blue skies with not a cloud in sight that day (a rarity in Wales!) and these tropical beauties fit right in! The addition of lime in the frosting gave these a totally tropical twist! 

This was a recipe my South African Mom whipped up one weekend, apparently it had been a staple dessert for her growing up.  Why she had been holding out on us for so long I don't know! because this was so creamy and fruity and it's definitely going to be a staple for the Braithwaite's too!

You just can't beat a good Oreo cupcake! Up until I made this, my favourite Oreo cupcake had been a chocolate version with chopped up bits of Oreo in the batter.  However after making this vanilla based Oreo cupcake I realised my chocolate version had been overpowering the Oreo bits...whereas this cupcake lets the Oreo flavour shine through! A new favourite! 

It pains me that the number 1 most visited recipe on my site this year was the post with the worst pictures!! It was one of those nights where I was rushing, as our dinner guests were waiting for dessert, and I didn't want them to think I was too weird by taking a million pictures of it and making them wait to eat it!! Then I discovered the batteries on the flashgun had run out...and so I had to make do with dark and not so attractive pictures! but I'm glad that didn't put you off because this is one of the most delicious desserts I have ever made.  We all know I love anything s'mores, but this creamy chocolate filling was out of this world and paired with a graham cracker base and a toasted marshmallow topping it is totally dreamy! Of course I'm pretty sure the popularity of this post also had to do with the fact I was doing a cheesecake giveaway too! but if there's one thing you need to make this year it is this cheesecake! and don't forget the chocolate-malt frosting too! They're both going to make you very popular indeed! 

 Thanks to everyone for following along this year, I LOVE when a little email or comment pops up from one of you - it makes my day! and thanks to all you other bloggers for keeping my google reader overflowing with delicious recipes and inspiration! 

Wishing all of you an awesome New Year's and a totally tasty 2013!

Friday, 28 December 2012

Peppermint Bark Frosted Brownies

I have been baking like crazy this month! Not that you'd know it with the lack of blogging that's been going on around here! I have so many festive recipes still to blog...and I know Christmas is over but I can eat peppermint and chocolate any day of the week and you can always pin these for next year! 

I made some homemade peppermint bark for the first time ever! We don't get bark in England (aside from in Costco, which doesn't really count since it's American anyways!) so I've always been a fan of it! It's delicious to eat by itself or to use in recipes! Watch out for some peppermint bark cheesecake truffles that I'll be blogging soon too!

There was a Christmas dinner at my work and I signed up to bring desserts.  I made these super moist and fudgy brownies (the base brownie recipe is my new fave), slathered on some creamy chocolate frosting..

and finished with a sprinkling of chopped up homemade bark, and I also melted some candy cane peppermint kisses down to drizzle across the top tying the whole peppermint theme together! 

The principal at my school said they were the best brownies she had ever eaten, so I took that as a pretty good compliment!

Peppermint Bark Frosted Brownies:
Makes 16
From Cupcake Crazy Gem

4oz (110g) dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
1 stick (110g) unsalted butter
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 1/4 cups (250g) caster sugar
1/2 cup (65g) plain flour

For the frosting:

2 cups (500g) icing sugar
1 stick (110g) unsalted butter
1/2 cup dark/semi sweet chocolate chips, melted
2 tbsp semi skimmed milk

1 1/2 cups chopped up peppermint bark
1/3 cup candy cane peppermint kisses

In a heatproof bowl above a pan of simmering water, melt the chocolate and butter together.  Once completely melted, stir in the vanilla and salt.  Set aside to cool.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and grease a brownie tin, I used a 9x9"dish.

Whisk the sugar into the cooled chocolate mixture, and add the eggs one at a time - beating well after each addition.  Stir in the flour using a metal spoon.

Pour into your pre prepared pan and bake for 20-22 minutes.  I always check mine around the 18 minute mark because you really don't want to over bake these.  Once out of the oven, immediately put the brownie pan into the freezer (make sure you put a tea towel underneath it first) and leave them to get nice and fudgy in there while you make the frosting.

Beat the butter and sugar together until creamy.  I usually add the sugar one cup at a time to avoid icing completely covering my kitchen.  Melt the chocolate chips in a bowl in the microwave in 30 second intervals.  Once cool, beat it into the frosting.  Add the milk and beat for 2 minutes until fluffy.

Once the frosting is finished, remove the brownies from the freezer and from the pan.  Using a palette knife, slather the brownie slab with the frosting.  Chop it into squares whilst still semi frozen as this gives you the neatest slices.  Add the chopped up peppermint bark and drizzle with candy cane kisses.

Serve and enjoy! 

Monday, 17 December 2012

Festive Triple Peppermint Rocky Road

I know, I know, another Rocky Road recipe! but I just can't help myself! plus I made this for our games night the other week, alongside 4 other desserts and so it's always handy to have a no bake treat on hand when there's a lot of baking to be done! 

Of course I went overboard on the peppermint! How could I not when I had all these amazing goodies from the States I wanted to use up! I even had a bag of chocolate peppermint marshmallows too but I drew the line and decided the marshmallows should just be regular to balance out all the minty-ness! 
So I chopped up the white chocolate peppermint m&m's, the mint truffle Hershey's kisses and the candy cane Hershey's kisses, stirred in some rice krispies and mini marshmallows, drowned them all in some rich milk chocolate and refrigerate for an hour to form one tasty festive treat!

Festive Triple Peppermint Rocky Road:
Makes 16
From Cupcake Crazy Gem

450g milk chocolate (for eating, not baking)
1 tsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup candy cane kisses
1/2 cup mint truffle kisses
1/2 cup white chocolate peppermint m&m's
1 cup rice krispies
150g mini marshmallows

Melt the chocolate in a heatproof glass bowl, set above a pan of boiling water.  
Stir in the vegetable oil.
Chop the candy cane kisses, truffle kisses and m&m's in half.
Once the chocolate has cooled, add those into the bowl along with the rice krispies and mini marshmallows.  (I reserved back a handful of each ingredient to press into the surface of the Rocky Road to make it look pretty). 
Pour the mixture into your prepared tin.  If you want, press extra ingredients into the surface of the chocolate.

Put in the fridge for an hour until firm.  
Eat and enjoy!

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Lime, Coconut & White Chocolate Blondies

I made cake.

 Then I ate it.

Now I wish I had more.

While I went to the kitchen to stuff my face with coconut m&m's, I told my husband to export my photos for me that I was going to blog about.  He told me that he knows how to do a blog post, so I told him to go for it and just write the whole thing, when I returned he told me the post was finished! It was so great that I had to leave it as it is! There's nothing more I can add! 

Aside from the fact that I dreamt these Blondies up in one of those lightbulb moments, where I was deciding how I could bake my beloved white chocolate & coconut Lindt bar into something yummy.  Coconut & lime is one of my favourite flavour pairings so it seemed only natural that I should combine the two with my coconut Lindt chocolate! 

I know the blogosphere is awash with peppermint, egg nog and gingerbread recipes right now...but in my world you can and should eat coconut and lime every day of the week regardless of the season, especially when it's paired with white chocolate frosting and topped with grated lime zest and shredded coconut - delish!

Lime and Coconut Blondies:
Makes 12
From Cupcake Crazy Gem

225g White Coconut Lindt Chocolate
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup caster sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cup plain flour
1/4 cup desiccated coconut
2 tbsp lime juice
1 heaped tbsp lime zest

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C/350 degrees F.

Melt White Coconut Lindt Chocolate along with the butter in a heatproof bowl, set above a pan of simmering water.

Remove from heat once completely melted, and allow to cool.  Beat in caster sugar and eggs with a whisk.

Stir flour and coconut into the batter.  Add lime juice and grated lime zest.

Pour into prepared brownie pan (I made mine in a square pan) and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until an inserted knife comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached.

Leave to cool in pan whilst making this creamy white chocolate frosting:

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup icing sugar
1/4 cup melted white chocolate chips

Melt white chocolate chips in a bowl in the microwave in 30 second intervals.
Beat unsalted butter and sifted icing sugar together.  
Once cooled, stir in the melted chocolate.  Continue beating for 3-5 minutes until the frosting is fluffy.

Spread generously on top of the Blondies, sprinkle with grated lime zest and handfuls of shredded coconut.

Eat and enjoy!

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

United Bakes of America Round 7 and Christmas Chocolate Crinkle Kiss Cookies!

Now that was a mouthful! I have been wanting to make crinkle cookies for so long, they seem so simple yet look so effective! and when I saw that Bakergirl had made some and put festive Hershey's Kisses on top I knew I had to make them a.s.a.p because I had a cupboard stuffed full of festive Kisses so it was the perfect match! 

You can really decorate them with any chocolate you like, for the caramel lovers Rolo's would be fun, for the peanut butter lovers mini Reese's Peanut Butter Cups would be super delish, but for mine I used 3 varieties of Hershey's Kisses: peppermint candy cane, mint truffle and cookies and cream.

They all turned out to be so yummy that I had a hard time to not devour them all in one evening! but my favourite of the bunch had to be the mint truffle kiss cookie! The cookies themselves are so rich and fudgy, and the addition of a flavoured kiss on top just sends them over the edge!

These would be the perfect cookie to make for your christmas cookie exchange, or to hand out as christmas gifts or to just have around the house for all those visitors you will be getting in the next few weeks!

Bake these up and your Christmas visitors will love you for it!

Christmas Chocolate Crinkle Kiss Cookies:
Makes 30
From Bakergirl

2 cups plain flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking salt
2 cups caster sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup icing sugar
Assorted Hershey's Kisses (I used peppermint, mint truffle and cookies and cream)

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.

In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla extract.  Stir flour mixture into sugar mixture, until just combined.  Place plastic wrap over the bowl and refrigerate dough for at least 2 hours.  

Meanwhile, unwrap Hershey's Kisses, place in a small bowl and freeze until ready to use.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F/180 degrees C.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or foil; set aside.  Place icing sugar in a small bowl and set aside.

Scoop dough into 1/2 tablespoon balls (make sure you stick firmly to the 1/2 tablespoon...I thought that seemed like hardly any dough at all so I was more generous with my first batch and they turned out huge!), roll in the icing sugar, and place on baking sheet.  Bake for 11-13 minutes, until cookies crackle and no longer look raw (they'll start to look cakey).

Remove from oven.  Immediately press a frozen kiss into each cookie, then place cookie sheet into the freezer just until chocolate is set and is no longer shiny.  Remove from freezer and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

...and there you have it! I dare you not to eat more than 5 in one go! 

Now, onto what other US inspired treats others have been baking! Ros from The More Than Occasional Baker made these absolutely adorable little Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Baked Buttermilk Mini Donuts! Not only do they have Reese's Peanut Butter Cups on top, but they also have vanilla pudding inside the donuts which is an ingredient you can only get in the States! Luckily, Ros thought to pick some up last time she was there 'just in case' and lucky she did! The recipe she used is also from a California blogger, Picky Palate, who happens to be one of my fave bloggers - in fact I forgot that I myself had recommended this recipe to Ros a few months back knowing the peanut butter loving fan she is! Glad she got a chance to try I'm planning to try them myself too after these drool worthy pics! What's not to love about a light and fluffy buttermilk doughnut, dipped in ganache and covered in mighty chunks of peanut butter cup! 

My coconut loving blogging friend, Kit, from I-Lost in Austen made this beautiful Praline Bundt Cake after her husband brought her back a Bundt pan from his business trip to San Diego (lucky thing!). Apparently Bundt pans are hard to come by in France and so she was pretty pleased with her gift, I bet her husband was too after she baked this yummy sounding recipe! The bundt has chopped pecans and praline baked inside as well as cream cheese resulting in a super moist cake which I think is evident from the picture and as if that isn't delicious enough, it was then drizzled with praline icing! 

Finally, my sister Tamara baked up these Snickers Blondies using the Outsider Tart cookbook.  I am super jealous because I know exactly what these taste like, I tried one for myself back here and so I know just what I was missing out on by not living nearby enough to pop on over for a piece! They are baked like a brownie but packed with caramel, chocolate and peanut goodness and then drizzled with caramel and peanuts on top! If you live in London, you can try the real deal by picking one up from Outsider Tart themselves! You won't be sorry!

So I'm super excited to see what everyone bakes up this month, especially because it's December and as bakers we will all be in overload and I'm hoping lots of fun festive stuff will pop up! Be sure to enter UBA if it's an American inspired dish or uses American ingredients, because I love to see what you come up with!

Happy baking!


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