Friday, 31 January 2014

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Chip Overload Ganache Cookie Cake

 You know how sometimes you take really bad pictures that you don't ever think should see the light of day! Well, that's what happened with this bake! I made this for Byron's birthday last April whilst we were still living in Vancouver...he had been away for a week on a forestry trip in the middle of nowhere up North and my sister and mom had arrived from England 3 days before he got back.  We had been busy touring Seattle and Vancouver Island and had been surviving on very little sleep, it was a hectic time but I knew no birthday could pass without sufficient delicious celebrations! hence this cake! but also hence why the pictures were a bit of an afterthought, it was super dark once I finished making it and we were all just too desperate to eat it for me to faff around!

 So I wasn't intending to blog it, but I came across these pictures today and remembered how decadently delicious it was, and how many peanut butter lovers I know there are out there who need to know about this cake!

So please forgive the pictures...and let's talk about the cake!


 It is essentially a giant cookie, baked in a cake pan...but not just any cookie, a cookie filled to the brim with not only chocolate chips but also peanut butter chips!

Once the cookie has baked, you cover it in some deliciously creamy marshmallow fluff, which has been heated slightly so it's easier to spread out.  You then throw mini marshmallows, micro chocolate chips and mini peanut butter cups on top (I may or may not have waited for the fluff to cool so my toppings all melted into the fluff which doesn't make for the prettiest pictures but it was rather delicious still!) 

At this point, in the original recipe you would whip up a batch of peanut butter frosting and cover the sides and top of the cake...only I had run out of icing sugar - I know, what kind of baker runs out of icing sugar! 

So since I was still in my ganache cures everything phase...I whipped up a batch of peanut butter chocolate ganache and just piped around the top of the cake with that, adorning each little swirl of ganache with either a peanut butter cup or a micro marshmallow.  

Every ounce of this cake is decadent, and not for the faint hearted! but if you like a lot of sugar, and a lot of peanut butter, and chocolate then this cake is surely for you! My husband LOVED it!

and I fell in love with peanut butter chocolate ganache - who knew it would be so tasty!

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Chip Overload Ganache Cookie Cake:
Serves 12-14
Adapted from Sprinkle Bakes

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Cookie:

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup caster sugar
2/3 cup soft light brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups plain flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1 cup peanut butter chips

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
Grease a 10 inch cake pan with butter and line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugars until well combined.  Add in the eggs and vanilla extract.  Beat again until well mixed.

In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, cream of tartar and bicarbonate of soda.  Pour flour mixture into the butter and mixture and mix until a thick batter forms and the flour is just incorporated.  Add both types of chips and mix on the lowest speed until combined.  

Pour batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly with a spatula so the cookie is flat on top.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Remove from oven and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes.  Turn cake out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Marshmallow Topping:

1 cup marshmallow fluff
3 tbsp micro mini chocolate chips
1/2 cup mini marshmallows
15 mini peanut butter cups, halved

Spray a small bowl with cooking spray and place the 1 cup marshmallow fluff in the bowl.  Heat gently in the microwave for 20-30 seconds, or until just loosened and pour into the centre of the cookie.  Spread evenly over the top.

Wait for it to cool, or if you're impatient like me throw all the toppings on top.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Ganache:

5 oz. dark chocolate
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup double cream, heated

Chop up the dark chocolate into small pieces and put into a bowl.  Add the peanut butter to the bowl.
Heat up the cream gently in a saucepan and once hot, pour into the bowl of chocolate and peanut butter.  Leave it for 2 minutes to melt the chocolate, and then stir like crazy with a spoon until all the chocolate has melted and the peanut butter has been incorporated into the ganache.

Put it into a piping bag, and pipe swirls of ganache around the outside of the cake.

Top each alternate swirl with a chopped mini peanut butter cup, or a micro mini marshmallow.

Eat and enjoy!

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Milk Chocolate Chunk & Coconut Cookies: Just like Ben's Cookies!

A few months back, a colleague from work went to the States for the first time.  He came back raving about how awesome all the food was he had there, and of course I was only to happy to join in that conversation with him! So we talked about the deliciousness of the cheesecake factory and how awesome Ghiradelli chocolate is and before I was even able to tell him about my favourite slab of Ghiradelli he beat me to it and started gushing about the toasted coconut milk chocolate bar

For the rest of the day I could not get that bar of delightful-ness out of my head! 

 All week I was dreaming up milk chocolate and coconut creations, when at the same time I started to have another craving...for Ben's Cookies! We used to get these cookies all the time down Covent Garden as a child or Oxford and Brighton as a teenager.  There was even that one time we visited Coventry for the day as I was possibly considering Uni there...and when I saw they had a Ben's cookies that nearly swayed it for me! So I just assumed there were Ben's Cookies stores all over the UK! So when my craving hit, I googled to see if there was one in Edinburgh or Glasgow and to my horror there wasn't!!

 You see the thing that makes Ben's Cookies so delicious in my opinion, is that they don't just use measley little chocolate chips - oh no, they use great big chunks of chocolate that leave gooey molten pools of yumminess in your cookies! 


So I decided it was time to make my own (since I will sadly not be making it down South anytime soon)! I followed a recipe that I had baked waaay back in 2008 and at the time I remember thinking the cookies tasted pretty similar to Ben's Cookies!

This time I added some shredded coconut into the batter, and a drop of coconut extract so amp up the coconut flavour! 

...and let's have one more close up on why these are the best cookies - yep, those huge gooey globs of chocolate! 

I officially started my maternity leave this week - Baby Braithwaite has one more week until it's due date :) so you can expect lots more blogging around here! and I'm hoping lots more baking too!

In the meantime if you're missing out on Ben's Cookies too...or needing a chocolate and coconut fix then these cookies are definitely for you!

 Milk Chocolate Chunk and Coconut Cookies: Ben's Cookies Style
Makes 16
Adapted from Cookie Carnival

1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup light brown sugar, tightly packed
1/2 cup caster sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
3 cups plus 2 tbsp plain flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
16 oz/450g milk chocolate, chopped into chunks
1/2 cup shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper, or silicone cookie mats and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl.  Beat in the coconut extract (you could also use vanilla if you can't get hold of coconut extract).

Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt together in a a separate large bowl.  Add the dry ingredients 1/3 at a time to the mixer, and mix until just combined.   Fold in the chocolate chunks.  Stir in the shredded coconut.  

Using an ice cream scoop to get nice uniform size chunky cookies, scoop out the dough onto the baking trays.  You should get 8 cookies on each sheet, or if you have smaller trays place 6 balls of dough on each sheet because the cookies will spread.  Bake for 15-17 minutes or until the tops are golden brown.

Cool the cookies for 5 minutes on the baking trays, and then transfer them over to wire racks to cool completely.

Make sure you eat the cookies warm to get the full effect of all that gooey chocolate, or if you're eating them at a later time then just buzz each one in the microwave for 15 seconds.

Eat and enjoy!

Monday, 6 January 2014

Chocolate & Peanut Butter Yule Log

So for Christmas this year, I didn't really end up doing much baking! That's what is great about being at my parents house surrounded by keen bakers! One sister whipped up our tropical pineapple Trifle for Christmas day dessert, another one made up some mango and ginger syllabubs, along with some homemade mince pies too!  and since I'm now 8 months pregnant I was quite happy to sit back and let it all happen, although I couldn't resist whipping up some mint magic bars with ghiradelli mint choc chips my sis had received from America and also a batch of lime curd! 

However, that was pretty restrained for me! So by the time I got to my in laws I knew I wanted to make a fancy Christmas dessert...and there had been plenty of hints dropped about how they were expecting some baked goods from me so I didn't want to disappoint! Being the huge peanut butter lovers they are, I decided to experiment with a peanut butter and chocolate yule log after the success of my coconut and chocolate yule log last Christmas.

I made a whipped peanut butter cream filling which worked perfectly with the rich chocolate-y frosting on the outside of the log, and the icing on the cake was a whole bundle of mini Reese's peanut butter cups that my sister attached to my prezzie this year! It was a great alternative to the traditional yule log...whilst still remaining festively fun! 

Since my trusty Kitchenaid has been at my sister's flat in London ever since we were in Canada, I have been pretty lost without it! I jumped at the chance of testing out this Tefal mixer to see if it was up to the job of baking such a complex dessert! 

The first thing that struck me was just how light it was! I'm used to my beast of a Kitchenaid which is so heavy to lug around! (hence why it was still in London because there was no way my sister could have carried it on the tube to bring it back to me!) but to cart this around with us over the Christmas period was super easy! It's lightness made me question whether it was going to be sturdy enough to cope with the bake I had planned...but it managed every step with ease.

It creamed the butter and sugar like a dream, with just a few scrapings down the side to incorporate it altogether, and it was so efficient in whipping the cream that I turned my back for a second and the cream was done!

 Despite having reduced power from what I'm used to with my Kitchenaid it did exactly what I needed it to do, and coped with every stage of my baking brilliantly! When I had it on the fourth speed setting, it did sound a bit like it was going to take off! but aside from that it worked like a dream and considering it's only £99 I'd say you get your money's worth for sure.

The mixing bowl isn't huge, so if you're planning to do large batches of baking like double batches of cupcakes or triple layer cakes then it might not be the mixer for you but for everyday baking it's certainly a cheaper alternative to the higher spec models out there and works just as well!

 Argos have large ranges of Tefal appliances available to buy here.

So if you're a peanut butter lover, then save this recipe away for next Christmas - it's a crowd pleaser for sure!

Chocolate & Peanut Butter Yule Log:
Serves 10-12

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
6 tbsp smooth peanut butter
3 tbsp condensed milk (optional)
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

14 mini Reese's peanut butter cups

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 peanut butter and the sugar until stiff peaks form.  At this point I underestimated the strength of the mixer and over whipped the cream slightly, so I added the condensed milk to give a creamier texture.  If you keep an eye on your cream you shouldn't need to do this.

Once completely cool, unravel the cake and spread the peanut butter cream over the top. 

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 chopped Reese's peanut butter cups to finish off your peanut butter creation!

Eat and enjoy!

--> Please note Argos kindly donated the mixer for review, but all opinions expressed are my own. 


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