Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Individual Peppermint Crisp Fridge Tarts

Happy National Chocolate Mint Day!

I felt this was a day that had to be celebrated since I'm pretty sure chocolate and mint is my all time favourite flavour pairing!  I went through a stage where every dessert I made had to be made better by adding a little mint to it! However, we've found out recently that my husband gets crazy bad heartburn if he has too much mint (randomly) so I try and sneak it in here and there when I can in small doses to still get my fix! 

Fortunately, my husband is South African and so he's always willing to get heartburn for something as tasty as peppermint crisp fridge tart! For those who haven't been following the blog for long, peppermint crisp fridge tart is a very South African dessert - I have yet to meet a South African who didn't feast on this growing up! 

This continues to be one of my most visited recipes on the blog! and it's just not a very photogenic dessert so I'm always trying to think of ways to make it look prettier.

I thought it would be cute to make individual portions in these glasses and layer it up. If you want to make it the standard way then follow this recipe, or jazz it up with a crust around the edge then follow this recipe. I blitzed up the tennis biscuits to crumbs in order to make the layering smoother...but they were a bit sandy in texture so if I was to make it again I think I'd just crush up the biscuits into smaller chunks as opposed to crumbs.

I also had more problems with Canadian whipping cream not whipping up as thick as it should for this dessert, and don't even get me started on the dulche de leche in this country - it tastes like mocha! 

All in all, I won't be recreating this dessert in a hurry (on this side of the pond) but if you live in a country where whipping cream actually does it's job and dulche de leche tastes like caramel then you need to make this dessert! It's one of my all time faves! 

Individual Peppermint Crisp Fridge Tarts:
Makes 4
From Cupcake Crazy Gem

2 packets of tennis biscuits (or other coconut flavoured biscuits), blended into crumbs
375g caramelised condensed milk/tinned dulche de leche
250ml whipping cream
20ml caster sugar
3 peppermint crisp bars, crushed
3 drops of peppermint extract

Blitz the tennis biscuits in a blender.

Whip the cream and stir in the caramel.  If you are using regular condensed milk, then boil the tin until it turns into caramel.  Stir in the caster sugar and peppermint extract to the caramel cream mixture.
Using a sharp knife, cut up the peppermint crisp bars into small pieces.  Stir 2/3 of the peppermint crisps into the cream mixture.  

Spoon some of the tennis biscuit crumbs into the bottom of your glasses.  Smooth out the surface.  Sprinkle some of the leftover peppermint crisp chunks on top of the biscuit base and layer some of the caramel cream mixture on top.  Smooth it out, and repeat with another biscuit layer and a final caramel cream layer.  

Finish off with a sprinkling of tennis biscuit crumbs and a sprinkling of peppermint crisp pieces.

Refrigerate for 3 hours until the cream is firm.

Eat and enjoy.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Nutella & Peanut Butter S'moreos

Some recipes grab your attention more than others, when I saw these Peanut Butter Cup S'moreos over at Top With Cinnamon I knew I had to bake some up immediately! After all, only good can come of oreo's, peanut butter and toasted marshmallows! Clearly my immediately wasn't quite so quick...since I'm now here making them a month after I bookmarked them, but considering there's about 1672 recipes on my current 'to bake list' a month doesn't seem too long at all!

If you've never paid Izy's fantastically beautifully blog a visit, I urge you to do it immediately (and right now I'm referring to the same day immediately and not my one month later immediately!).  Not only have I adored her blog for a while, this week she got shout outs from Joy the baker and Call me Cupcake so when the creme de la creme of the baking world are shouting about a blog from the rooftops you know it's going to be good! She has incredible photography skills and awesome videos/gifs, but mostly I love the ingredients and originality of the treats Izy bakes we also share a love for Oreos, coconut and all things s'mores! oh yeah...and let's not forget - she's only 16!

So I decided to take Izy's treats one step further when I baked them up...and as I'm currently in a serious Nutella phase I swirled some of that in amongst my peanut butter layer! It turned out to be so delicious, I  kind of wished I'd skipped out the peanut butter altogether - I can see these are going to be dangerous because I'm already formulating so many future variations of them in my head! but going back to my Nutella is it that I managed to spend 25 years of my life without it? Yes, you heard me...after never having eaten it at any point in my whole life I suddenly decided 2 weeks ago I had to buy a jar.  Ever since it has been Nutella everything! Nutella on my pancakes...on my bagels (add some sliced bananas too and you're laughing!) in my ganache truffles, to dip pretzels into and even to dip Kinder sticks...yeah I dip chocolate in chocolate, I clearly don't know the meaning of the word moderation!

Since Valentine's is coming up, and since my sister sent me these awesome heart marshmallows in a package I got this week...I decided it would be super cute to use them for these s'moreos!

I topped one half with white marshmallows and the other half with pink tie them in even more with the season of love!

I'm also entering them into this months calendar cakes challenge by Dolly Bakes and Laura Loves Cakes, because the theme is love!

Nutella & Peanut Butter S'moreos:
Makes 9
Adapted from Top With Cinnamon

For the oreo base:

24 Oreos, crushed
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp milk

For the toppings:

1/2 cup smooth peanut butter, warmed
1/2 cup Nutella, warmed
24 large marshmallows, halved
2 peanut butter cups, chopped
1/4 cup mixed peanut butter and milk chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F/180 degrees C.
Line a 9" square pan with foil or parchment paper.  I didn't use any oil or butter to grease the lining because the base mixture lets out quite a lot of liquid as it is, and mine pulled away perfectly.

Crush Oreos in a blender until they resemble crumbs, stir in the butter and milk until incorporated.
Scatter the mixture evenly into the pan and press down with the back of a spoon.  Bake for 6-8 minutes.

Whilst the base is baking, warm up the peanut butter in the microwave so it is at a spreadable consistency.  Do the same with the Nutella.

Once you take the base out of the oven, immediately spread the warmed peanut butter over the base.  I didn't warm my Nutella quite as much as the peanut butter so I could drop blobs of it over the peanut butter.  I then used a palette knife to swirl the two spreads together.

Completely cover with the halved marshmallows, placing them cut side down.

Place under the broiler/grill for around 1 minute to toast the marshmallows.  I set mine on low and they took around 3 minutes as I wanted to be safe! They toast super quick on high so watch them constantly and it probably won't take more than 30 seconds.

Immediately scatter the chopped up peanut butter cups and chocolate and peanut butter chips over the marshmallow layer so they melt into it slightly.  (I used peanut butter chips because I had some on hand and they tied in nicely with the pb theme...I know they're not easy to come by in the UK - you could chop up bits of peanut butter Kit Kat or Ferrero's if you wanted to go for an all out Nutella theme! or just stick with regular chocolate chips, I'm also imaging using a whole bar or 2 of Mint Aero in place of the peanut butter could make a tasty mint variety - like I said the possibilities are endless)

You can make more portions if you cut them up smaller, I just chose not to!

Eat and enjoy...and see if you can make your whole pan last for the photo shoot, I know I couldn't! 

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Raspberry & Chocolate Filled Cupcakes

Oh's been far too long since we have spent some time together! Before I left the UK my morning breakfast consisted of creamy coconut yoghurt dotted with scrummy raspberries! Unfortunately, because Vancouver has precisely 3 brands of yoghurts...all of which are fat free and therefore taste disgusting, my breakfast ritual has had to change! My days of creamy dreamy coconut yoghurt are a thing of the past (whilst my Mom can post me endless amounts of dairy milk and malteaster bunnies, it's a no go on the airmail yoghurt front!) and so I have to think of other ways to incorporate raspberries into my daily diet! 

Considering this blog is about a person obsessed with cupcakes, there's been a distinct lack of cupcake baking going on around here! So I went crazy...bought some expensive Vancouver raspberries, and whipped up some chocolate and raspberry cupcakes! 

I knew that I wanted my return to cupcakes to be big, so when you wanna go big...filled cupcakes are the way to do it! 

I spent hours agonising over how I would fill them! Initially my first thought was with a nice dollop of raspberry jam...but then I remembered I live in Vancouver where jam = watery inedible liquid, no jokes! so then I thought about chocolate ganache but I wanted something lighter and creamier and then chocolate cream cheese filling dawned on me, so I whipped some up.  As I was whipping it up I thought adding some raspberry puree could make it even tastier...and I was right so then I went all out and blended in a few whole raspberries so you got lovely little raspberry blasts throughout! I was eating it by the spoonful! It was oh so delish.

I then blended in the rest of the raspberry puree to the frosting to make some vibrant fresh raspberry frosting! Look how pink it turned! All natural baby.  A fresh raspberry to finish it off, and these were some of the moistest, richest, most decadent cupcakes I've made for a long while!

I made them to take to a friend who just had a new baby, but since Valentine's is coming up and they tie in nicely you could make them for the one you love! Really though, these cupcakes are so delicious that you don't even need an excuse to make them! 

Raspberry & Chocolate Filled Cupcakes:
Makes 12
From Cupcake Crazy Gem

For the cupcakes:

1 cup plain flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
3/4 cup salted butter, firm but not cold
1 1/4 cups caster sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder and bicarbonate of soda.  Set aside.

In a separate large mixing bowl, using an electric hand mixer on medium-high speed, whip together butter and sugar until pale and fluffy for about 3-4 minutes.  Add in eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition until combined.  Measure out buttermilk in a liquid measuring cup and add vanilla extract to milk, then whisk to combine.  Working in 2 separate batches, add buttermilk mixture followed by flour mixture to butter mixture, mixing just unti combined after each addition (batter will be thick).  

Fill cupcake cases 2/3 full.  Bake in a preheated oven for 18-22 minutes, until a knife inserted into the middle of each cupcake comes out clean.  Allow to cool for 5 minutes in baking pan until transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the filling:

225g cream cheese
1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup icing sugar
1 tbsp cocoa powder
3 tbsp raspberry puree (I blended fresh raspberries until liquid, and then sieved out the seeds)
1/4 cup whole fresh raspberries (about 7)

Blend cream cheese and unsalted butter together with an electric mixer until incorporated.  Beat in the icing sugar and cocoa powder until combined.  Stir in the raspberry puree and beat in the whole raspberries until only little fragments can be seen.

Using a knife, or a cupcake corer if you're fancy like that, cut a circular hole in the middle of the cupcakes.  Remove the cake and cut the top circle part of the cut out cake off.  Save this part for later.

Put your filling in a piping bag fitted with a nozzle.  Pipe the filling into each cupcake hole, and then plug the top of the cupcake with the round cake disc you saved from earlier.

For the frosting:

3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups icing sugar
1/2 cup fresh raspberries, blended into puree
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
12 raspberries (for garnish)

Puree the raspberries in a blender.  Pass them through a sieve into a bowl.  It may take a little while but keep using a spoon to pat the raspberry liquid through the sieve until only seeds remain.

Mix the butter and half the sugar together in the bowl of an electric stand mixer.  Once they are well blended, add the remaining sugar.  Beat together until smooth and creamy, about 4 minutes.  Stir in the vanilla extract and raspberry puree.  I like to add the raspberry puree a few teaspoons at a time because it's a fine line when using fruit between when it's added a good amount of flavour or when it adds too much liquid to the frosting.  

Taste it to see if it tastes raspberry enough, and see if the frosting is stiff enough.  If it needs to be stiffer, add more sugar, if it needs to be more flavourful then add more puree.

Frost each cupcake, and add a single fresh raspberry on top.  You could also drizzle with chocolate for extra decadence...because everything looks better with drizzle! I was intending to, but then I realised it was 1 minute until our bus was due to leave to take the cupcakes to our friend so they had to be snapped quick and go without drizzle this time around!

P.S Please note I am coming up to my 6 month mark as an ex pat in Vancouver.  As ex pats go, your first 3 months are the honeymoon phase when everything is amazing and exciting and new.  Apparently once you pass that mark you progress into the rejection phase where you start deciding everything was actually much better where you came from.  I feel like I'm in that phase so bear with me! Cream and yoghurt frustrations aside and ignoring the incessant rain for a minute, I have a feeling with spring around the corner I'll enter into a new phase soon where I'm back to appreciating the endless supply of root beer and graham crackers and the fact I have to say 'bangs' instead of fringe and 'pants' instead of trousers will not irritate me quite so much! but for right now just let me dwell in my rejection phase for a moment, okay?

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Chocolate & Coconut Yule Log

Last post of my Christmas baking I promise! I'll have to save all the rest for next year for now! We tried to have a proper 'English' Christmas meal as best as we could on Christmas day, and we had some Canadian friends over to share it with us so we wanted to make it authentically British!  It wasn't the easiest thing to achieve since many of the ingredients I searched for they just don't have here in Canada! So the chocolate log for dessert, along with a trifle my husband made, seemed like it would be the easiest of the bunch to make! 

Wrong! I have plenty of frustrations about the groceries here in Canada, like the bread that is always sweet.  I have yet to find a savoury loaf of bread! and eating a turkey sandwich on sweet bread is no fun at all! or the fact that you don't get squash here, I think I know why North America has an epidemic of too many people drinking soda - because they don't have any Robinson's! They also don't sell instant gravy granules and let's not get started on their chocolate! but out of all the problems I've encountered the one that frustrates me the most is their 'whipping' cream.  Canadian whipping cream, ironically, does not whip! Seriously I spent over 25 minutes with this bowl of cream on Christmas Eve and yes it turns thicker than it's once liquid state but it doesn't form stiff peaks or become thick enough to hold it's shape! I was pretty mad! So I had to refrigerate it for a while and then just spread it on anyway and hope for the best.  

Luckily the chocolate frosting was so super creamy and the cake so light and fluffy that the cream disaster seemed to go unnoticed by my guests and after being refrigerated over night it wasn't all that runny the next day...but Canadians - what is going on? How do you cope with cream that doesn't whip? Please help me out on this one! 

Chocolate & Coconut Cream Yule Log:
Serves 12
Adapted from BBC Good Food

For the cake:

6 eggs
170g caster sugar
140g plain flour
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder

For the filling:

284ml double cream
60ml coconut milk
40g caster sugar

For the frosting:

1 cup unsalted butter
3 1/2 cups icing/powdered sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 tbsp milk

1/2 cup desiccated coconut

Preheat oven to 200 degrees C.
Grease and line a swiss roll tin with baking parchment.  

Beat the eggs and sieved sugar together with an electric whisk for about 8 minutes until thick and creamy.  

Mix the flour, cocoa and baking powder together, then sift into the egg mixture.  Fold in very carefully, the pour into the tin.  Now tip the tin from side to side to spread the mixture into the corners.  Bake for 16-18 minutes.  

Lay a sheet of baking parchment on the work surface.  When the cake is ready, tip it onto the parchment, peel off the lining paper, then roll the cake up from the longest edge with the paper inside.  Leave to cool.  

Whip the double cream until peaks form.  Add in the coconut milk and the sugar until stiff peaks form.

Unravel the cake, spread the coconut cream over the top.  Sprinkle liberally with desiccated coconut, depending on how much of a coconut lover you are (I went all out, obviously!)

Then, roll the log back up again and refrigerate whilst making the chocolate frosting. 

Cream butter for a few minutes in a mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed.  Sieve sugar and cocoa powder into the mixing bowl 1 cup at a time.  On low speed, mix the ingredients until they come together.  Increase mixer to medium, and add the vanilla extract and milk and mix until incorporated.  Increase mixer to high speed and beat for 3 minutes until the frosting is light and fluffy.  

Take the log out of the fridge, and spread the frosting on thickly using a palette knife.  Use a fork to mark the frosting to give the effect of tree bark.  Go around in a circle to make knots.  Sprinkle with a dusting of icing sugar to finish off.

Eat and enjoy! 


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