Saturday, 25 April 2015

The BEST Carrot Cake with Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting!

I am going to kick this off by confessing that I'm not really a fan of carrot cake! If you have followed my blog for a while now, you will know that it's just a bit too healthy for my tastebuds! and I would just always choose nutella or oreo or a triple layer chocolate fudge cake over carrot cake! In fact growing up, I used to ask my mom to make it from time to time but that was really only because I wanted the cream cheese frosting from on top! So when Baking Mad got in touch offering me this beautiful hamper of Nielsen-Massey goodies and asked me to pick a recipe I wanted to bake, I chose their carrot cake recipe but purely because it was followed by 'with vanilla bean cream cheese frosting' and oh man I couldn't pass that frosting up!! I am also already a huge fan of Nielsen-Massey's products - their vanilla extract is the only one I will use so it was super exciting to have all these products turn up on my doorstep! 

I am in LOVE with vanilla bean paste! Seriously! If I could only take 5 baking ingredients to a desert island this would be right up there as my number 2, because Nutella first - obvs! I discovered the amazingness of vanilla bean paste back in 2010 when I wanted to make these root beer float cupcakes.  I came across a frosting described as melted vanilla ice cream tasting...and thought that would be a perfect addition to turn my root beer cupcakes into a float! The secret ingredient to make that dreamy creamy melted vanilla ice cream flavour frosting was, you guessed it, vanilla bean paste! Back then I'm pretty sure you could only get it online or in select Waitrose stores so it definitely wasn't as readily available as it is now.  It was as sacred to me as liquid gold when I eventually got my hands on it! and I've never looked back! and trust me after tasting some of this vanilla bean cream cheese frosting, you will never want to make regular cream cheese frosting again!!

This was also the fanciest carrot cake I've ever come across before! Crushed pineapple? check, toasted pecans? check! pistachios? check! and it was also my first time baking with golden caster and golden icing sugar - which I was excited about! The whole cake just seemed so healthy and nutritious that as beautiful as the batter looked (which is why I had to snap the pic below - I'm not usually a fan of mixing bowl shots, but look at all that colour!) I had already made up my mind that I probably wasn't going to love the taste...and would be reaching for a brownie or two instead ;)

It was sometime before midnight that I finished the cake, after keeping my husband company on a dissertation writing session! I photographed it and was about to put it away and head to bed, but the smell and aroma coming from the cake was irresistible! and that vanilla bean cream cheese frosting was calling my name! I knew I'd never be able to sleep if I didn't try a taste of this cake! So I cut a slither, and oh my goodness it was one of the best cakes I've ever tasted! I was chastising myself for my earlier lack of faith in it's tastiness! So considering I wouldn't call myself a carrot cake fan, this cake definitely converted me! and how did I forget to tell you about brushing those warm baked cakes with an amazing lemon sugar syrup mixture?! Oh man! That was genius! and definitely helped the cake to be extra moist and extra fruity! so after my initial slither, I of course cut myself an enormous piece! and devoured it all the way to husband was shaking his head at me, but seriously this cake could not wait til morning!!

I also loved how vibrant the pistachios were on top of the frosting! It is such an inviting and enticing cake! and I've been passing the recipe along to everyone I've been speaking to this week because it is just too good! If you're looking to wow with your baking, then this one is definitely for you!!

Carrot Cake with Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting:
Serves 12
From Baking Mad

for the cake:
250g unsalted butter, softened
250g unrefined golden caster sugar, I used Billington's
4 eggs, lightly whisked
1 tsp Nielsen-Massey vanilla extract
250g self raising wholemeal flour
150g carrots, peeled and coarsely grated
75g tinned pineapple, roughly chopped
1 lemon (zest only)
1 tsp mixed spice
100g pistachio nuts, roughly chopped
50g pecan nuts, toasted and roughly chopped

for the sugar syrup:
50g unrefined light muscovado sugar
1 lemon (juice only)
1 tsp Nielsen-Massey vanilla extract

for the frosting:
75g unsalted butter, softened
450g unrefined golden icing sugar, I used Billington's
180g cream cheese
1 tsp Nielsen-Massey vanilla bean paste

50g pistachio nuts, roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
Grease and line 2x20cm sandwich tins with parchment paper.

In a bowl with a mixer, cream the butter and sugar together for a few minutes, or until light and fluffy.  Gradually pour in the eggs and the vanilla extract, then add the flour and continue to mix for a minute.  Fold in the carrot, pineapple zest, mixed spice and nuts.

Divide the cake mixture equally between the two tins and flatten with a spatula.  Bake on the middle shelf and cook for 30-35 minutes, or until golden and a skewer comes away clean when inserted into the centre of the cakes.

Meanwhile, make the lemon and vanilla sugar syrup by heating the sugar and lemon juice together for a few minutes, or until the sugar has completely dissolved and then add the vanilla.  Turn both cakes out onto a wire rack and brush the tops of the warm cakes with the syrup.  Allow to cool while you make the frosting.

Cream the butter, cream cheese and vanilla bean paste together into the bowl of a mixer and beat until light and fluffy.  Add the icing sugar and continue to mix until you achieve a spreading consistency.

Sit one of the sponges on a plate or stand, and spread with half of the frosting.  Place the second sponge on top, and cover with the remaining frosting.  Decorated with chopped pistachios.

Eat and enjoy!

I received the Nielsen-Massey products complimentary from Baking Mad, but all views and opinions expressed are my own.

Monday, 20 April 2015

Malteser Bunny Chocolate Malt Mousse Pie

My name's Gem...and I'm addicted to Malteser bunnies!! So much so that when I saw them roll around on the shelves sometime in February I grabbed a few bags of the minis knowing they would make an excellent Easter dessert! Wrong! Of course we hunted them out in my baking cupboard one night when we were in need of a Netflix accompanying chocolate fix! Never mind I said, I'll buy more! So it's the evening before Easter Sunday and I ask the lady in Morrison's where their Easter aisle is and she tells me it doesn't exist anymore!! Fortunately they had a few lone bunnies left by the tills so I grabbed those..and decapitated them so they would fit in my tart! Note to self: don't eat the contents of your baking cupboard without assurances you will find back up!!

It wasn't a big deal in the end - half the bunny for my pie the other half for my mouth - everyone's a winner! Except for the bunny I guess.

This Oreo crust takes the pie to the next level of decadence! and the chocolate ovaltine mixed into the mousse gives it that nice malty kick. There was no need for pouring a whole bag of maltesers in the middle of the pie...other than the fact that my mantra is you can never have too much chocolate! you could equally cover the whole thing in cream instead because it is tooth achingly sweet (in the best kind of way) and the cream does help to cut through the sweetness...but please sprinkle a few maltesers on top at least if you do!

This was the perfect end to our Sunday roast lamb feast and it was the perfect sugary fix to get our bellies ready for the sugar coma of chowing down on our chocolate eggs from our egg hunt that was to come!

Malteser Bunny Chocolate Malt Mousse Pie:
Serves 10
Adapted from Beyond Frosting

for the crust:
275g Oreos
6 tbsp unsalted butter

for the filling:
225g cream cheese, cold
60g dark chocolate
1 tbsp unsalted butter
65g chocolate malt powder
115g caster sugar
2 tbsp double cream

for the decorating:
315ml double cream
65g cup icing sugar
7 Malteser bunnies
175g Maltesers

Grind up oreos in a food processor until they resemble fine crumbs.  Melt the butter in the microwave for 30 seconds and stir in with the oreos.  Press the oreo mixture into a 10" tart pan.  Refrigerate crust until filling is ready.

Remove cream cheese from fridge and beat on medium speed in an electric mixer for two minutes until light and fluffy.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

In a small microwave safe bowl, combine the chocolate chunks and butter.  Melt for 30-60 seconds and stir until chocolate is melted and smooth.  Pour melted chocolate over cream cheese and mix to combine.

Add malt powder and caster sugar to the cream cheese mix and beat well until incorporated.

In a separate bowl, whip 350ml double cream together with the icing sugar.  Remove 2 tablespoons of the whipped double cream and fold it in to the cream cheese mix.  Cover the rest of the cream with clingfilm and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Pour chocolate malt mousse filling into the oreo crust and let set in the fridge for 3-4 hours.

Just before serving, remove the whipped cream and put it into a piping bag fitted with a star attachment.  Pipe around the edge of the pie.

Cut the heads off the malteser bunnies, or if using minis use the whole bunny.  Place alternately in the swirls of cream.  Place a single malteser in the other swirls.

Using a sharp knife, chop some of the maltesers in half.  Pile up the half and whole maltesers in the middle of the pie.

Eat and enjoy!

I am sharing this for Cook, Blog, Share over at Super Golden Bakes

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Strawberry Milkshake Cheesecake Bars!

Hot on the heels of my last post, I also requested the strawberry milkshake flavour of Sugar and Crumbs' flavoured icing sugars...because hello! an icing sugar that tastes like strawberry milkshake?! that had got my name all over it! 

In case you are not aware, I have a full on obsession with I will base my restaurant choice for a meal out purely on the fact of whether they have milkshakes on their menu.  When we lived in Canada the options for this requirement were plentiful...however the UK is much more lacking in their offering of milkshakes! London is doing pretty well and is catching up...but Wales, oh don't even get me started on this barren wasteland that has no idea what a milkshake is.  Flavoured milk with zero ice cream?! that is not a milkshake! Needless to say my milkshake loving self has felt living here very difficult! 

When I was little, my milkshake of choice was always strawberry - obvs! These days I'm more partial to the oreo, s'mores, peanut butter, key lime pie, or brownie kind...but there will always be a special place in my heart for strawberry milkshakes! 

So I was giddy with excitement when I opened up this bag of flavoured icing sugar and the smell that wafted out was pure childhood nostalgia of super sweet, super tasty strawberry shaking days! I wasted no time in incorporating it into some super creamy cheesecake bars.  As with the last recipe I tried using these flavoured sugars, I literally didn't need to add any other flavouring because the strawberry milkshake flavour coming through from the sugar was vivid enough.  In fact, my husband who was in a different room could smell it as I was making them! It's really that impressive!

I decided to go all out and invest in some malted biscuits for the base - I told you this was all about nostalgia! and kept it simple with a no bake cheesecake topping that just let the strawberry milkshake do the talking!

The cheesecake is very sweet, so a big swirl of fresh whipped cream helps to cut through that sweetness and a juicy ripe strawberry ties the whole thing together like a cherry on top...only it's a strawberry! 

I have really been so impressed with these flavoured icing sugars that I just want to run out and buy every flavour out there! and did you know they also do flavoured cocoa powders? Coconut cocoa powder?! Hello! how good does that sound! One of my American blogging friends even commented this week that these sugars are finally an ingredient that the UK has but the States doesn't - that never happens! So make your American friends jealous and invest in some of these flavoured sugars - the fun you can have with them is endless!! 

Strawberry Milkshake Cheesecake Bars:
Makes 12
From Cupcake Crazy Gem

For the base:
30g unsalted butter
145g malted milk biscuits

For the cheesecake:
450g cream cheese
125g strawberry milkshake icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 tsp semi-skimmed milk
150ml double cream
1 tsp red food colouring

For the topping:
100ml double cream
6 strawberries

Grease your prepared tin.  You can use a 13"x7" pan and cut them into squares after or I used a baking pan that has 12 ready made squares. I cut thin strips of greaseproof paper and laid then across each square in the pan so that I would be able to pop out each cheesecake square easily after refrigeration.

Melt the butter in a small microwavable bowl for 30 seconds.  
While that is melting, blitz the malted milk biscuits in a food processor until crushed.
Mix the butter in with the biscuit crumbs and put 2 heaped teaspoons in each square of the baking pan.  Press down the mixture with the back of the teaspoon.

Using a free stander electric mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, sifted strawberry milkshake icing sugar, vanilla extract and semi skimmed milk together until well blended.

Whip the 200ml double cream in the mixer using a whisk attachment.  

Fold 150ml of the double cream into the cheesecake mixture.  Add the red food colouring and stir until the mixture turns pink and is fully incorporated.

Spoon 2 tablespoons of the cheesecake mixture on top of each biscuit base.  

Refrigerate for 5 hours until set.  Cover the remainder of the whipped cream with clingfilm and keep in the fridge.

Just before serving, transfer the whipped cream into a piping bag fitted with a star attachment.  Pipe a swirl of cream onto each individual cheesecake bar.  Wash and hull the strawberries, slice in half and place one half on top of the cream.  I also finished mine off with a little mini striped straw to complete the milkshake effect!

Eat and enjoy!

I received the icing sugar complimentary from Sugar and Crumbs, but all views and opinions expressed are my own.


Related Posts with Thumbnails