Friday, 28 March 2014

Biscuit Barrel March 14 Round Up

Another month has gone by which has of course included lots of baking. I swear I'm getting more and more known for this addiction at university. I don't mind though. I'm sure I'm not alone in that baking is more of an obsession than anything else.

I thought it would be good for this months challenge to be all about the new season of spring. The change of season can be quite significant for some people and I wanted to see what spring meant to you, whether that be with a recipe coneected to the season, an ingredient that reminds you of spring or something else. It has been really interesting reading about, and drooling over all your recipes and I hope there is something here that interests each of you too. 

I was first up myself this month with my Chocolate Chip Hazelnut Coconut Cookies. They came about when I went home for the weekend and an old recipe popped into my head which then made me wonder if I could replace one of the ingredients with coconut. They were a resounding success and I could eat a plateful quite easily, especially with a cup of tea because they were brilliant dunkers with lots of complementary textures and flavours.

A craving to bake and for something lemony meant that Ros from The More Than Occasional Baker made these Lemon and Poppyseed Muffins.  Generousy topped with a lemon glaze, I couldn't agree more that something zesty has the feel of spring.

Made with St Patrick's Day in mind, Rebecca from BakeNQuilt came up with these Mint Chocolate Chip Marshmallow Treats. I can see how the addition of chocolate chips and peppermint to a never fail to please rice crispy treat would be a winner, then topped with a ark chocolate ganache, these are all the more special.

Easter is undoubtedly linked with Spring and hence why Cakelaw from Laws of the Kitchen has shared these Somerset Easter Biscuits with us. Containing spices, fruit and mixed peel, these buttery biscuits shouldn't just be limited to this time of year at all.

Kate from The Gluten Free Alchemist has made these Orange & Raspberry Friands this month demonstrating that their fluffy, airy texture is a brilliant alternative to a cupcake. Being good for using up leftover egg whites, friands can manage numerous flavour combinations and the one Kate went for prove to be heavenly to both taste and smell and full of sunshine.

Helen from Family-Friends-Food made these Brown Sugar Hamantaschen to celebrate the Jewish festival of Purim. I have never heard of these before and always find a recipe that has a particular prupose or history behind it all the more interesting. Similar to a jam tart in parcel form, having now been introduced to these little pastry shapes with a delicate caramel flavour and filled with jam, I really want to try them.

This Sbrisolona from Mireille at Chef Mireille's East West Realm is a regional speciality of Lombardy in Italy. A cookie cake made with wholewheat flour, polenta and almonds, this is full of texture and sweetness. A cup of tea is recommended to go with it which is fine by me, the perfect chance to relax and enjoy a slice!

These Ginger Simnel Cupcakes by Alexdra from The Lass in the Apron are a perfect alternative to the big layered cake typically associated with Easter and traditionally with Mother's Day. Baked with marzipan in the middle and dipped in an orange glaze, these are a personalised adaptation to include desired flavours, namely ginger and just goes to show how a recip can keep its roots while being individually tailored. 

Stuart from Cakeyboi has well and truly hit the theme of this month with these Spring Coookies. A clever idea to use up leftover sugar cookie dough, these are surprisingly easy and quick to make. Just remember the chilling stage if you want the perfectly formed spiral achieved here - a truly refreshing idea!

Perfect for Mother's Day and keeping children entertained with the decorating, Elizabeth from Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary created these Mother's Day Flower Cookies. Mini works of art with their blooming sugarpaste flowers, these biscuits can be flavoured with vanilla or rosewater and the dough is very easy to work with - a good base for lots of biscuit ideas by the sounds of things!

Alexandra from The Lass in the Apron shares some fantastic news with us in her post for these Coconut Easter Eggs. Pop over there to see for yourself and to get the recipe for these beautifully decorated, chocolate covered chewy coconut bites. They are definitely the sort of thing I wouldn't be able to stop at just one of!

There we go, all finished for this month. I'm definitely in the mood of spring now and eager to get into the kitchen. Come back soon for the next Biscuit Barrel Challenge but until then, happy baking!

Thursday, 27 March 2014

We Should Cocoa March 2014 Round Up

Well. It has certainly been a good month to guest host one of my favourite blogging challenges. No matter what else this month has thrown at me it has been lovely to see all your wonderful entries and each time I saw a new one added to the list I got excited all over again. I now have lots more ideas of how to use coconut in baking and after seeing all of these entries I hope you all will have too. So here goes.

Our very first entry comes from Janet at the Taste Space. This Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie is a raw dessert featuring a crust made from almonds, coconut and dates and a super looking filling made from coconut milk, chocolate and peanut butter. It looks so elegant and extremely indulgent but it is one of those recipes that hides lots of goodness in the nuts and fruit - the perfect treat. It is pretty quick to put together too. 

All coeliacs out there can rejoice with these gluten free Chocolate Banana Coconut brownies by Kate from The Gluten Free Alchemist. An alternative way to use up over ripe bananas if you aren't fancying another banana loaf recipe, these brownies are moist and gooey with an intensely chocolatey flavour to complement the right coconut. 

My own (first) entry were these Chocolate Chip Hazelnut Coconut Cookies. They weren't an intentiaonal bake but were born out of an opportune moment. The original recipe called for lots of oats but these cookies proved a theory that dessicated coconut can replace oats and still give a crisp cookie to go with the other textures from teh sweet chocolate and chunky hazelnuts. They're also perfect with a coup of tea, just as a biscuit or cookie should be.

Dom shared with us his Pineapple and Coconut Chocolate Upside Down Cake as well as the warning that a loose bottomed tin might not be the best choice for this cake. No matter though because it still turned out to be a beauty with its classic buttery fruit on top of a chocolatey coconut sponge. A delicious result in a quick to mix cake.

Linzi from Lancashire Food is up next with her Date Sweetened Gluten Free Brownies. Good quality chocolate, a little coconut oil and a food processor make these quick to make and delicious to eat. I can certainly see why they would make a good addition to a lunchbox and with that many dates in there they are full of fibre and another example where you practically get one of your five a day in treat form - guilt free!

Jill from Lapin d'Or and More came up with these brilliant White Chocolate and Coconut Panna Cotta complete with coconut tuiles and blackcurrant coulis. Born out of trying to use things up that had been hanging around, these delights have a creamy layer to complement the fruity topping and the crunch of the delicate biscuits. A pretty good finish to a meal.

Angela from My Gold Pear gives us an indulgent breakfast recipe now with this Chocolate Granola. Made healthier than shop bought granola, this one has less sugar and oils yet remains delicious enough for anyone to snack on repeatedly throughout the day. I know I'd be exactly the same but that hasn't put me off wanting to try it. All that goodness from the oats, seeds, nuts and coconut balances out the remaining sugar right?!!!

Catherine from Cate's Cates demonstrates how an odd sounding combination of ingredients can still provide you with something which you simply cannot leave alone in these Weirdly Addictive Mostly Raw Peppermint Raspberry Truffles. Made after another recipe went awry, these sweets are shaped as little adorable teddy bears and after an initial taste you won't remain sceptical about the mix of flavours at all.

Another raw recipe now from Frances at Bake Club - Chocolate Goji Slice. Coming from an unlikely source, these slices are full of goodness from the coconut, cashews and dates while being full of texture and flavour with a crunchy base and chewy topping. Mmmm.

Lesley from eat, etc shares with us her Fudgy Chocolate Macaroons now. I've made coconut macaroons a fair few times myself and they have always been popular when I've shared them but for some reason I've never done a chocolate version. I'm going to have to correct that soon though because I've been missing out on the meringue based chewy brownie like texture of these beauties.

Suelle from Mainly Baking combines a chocolatey biscuit base with a fruit layer and finally a chewy topping which is heavy on the coconut in these Chocolate & Coconut Bars. Designed after a recipe search didn't reveal quite what she was after, Suelle combined an adapted recipes making good use of recipe books and making my mouth water in the process.

Elizabeth from Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary shares with us some Double Chocolate Coconut Cookies now. By only very loosely sticking to the recipe (I've never done that, ahem) these were created for packed lunches. However, the coconut base and chocolate chunks meant that not all of them ended up where intended - though they were certainly enjoyed anyway!

Angela from My Golden Pear is back again with this Chocolate Coconut Mousse and what a beautiful, indulgent treat it is. Thick, creamy, intesely chocolatey and even safe for those who can't eat raw eggs - perfect.

Choclette, the creator of We Should Cocoa obviously wasn't going to disappoint with her entry so I wasn't surprised in the slightest at how yummy these Coconut and Ginger Cake Pops are. Containing coconut oil, sugar and flour these defintely fit the bill and the inclusion of ginger makes them extra intriguing because I wouldn't have thought of the combination. The high ratio of chocolate covering to cake has won Choclette over her aversion to cake pops - I only wish I had some with me now to eat!

Lucy from The Kitchen Maid has baked a delicious treat this month in these Chocolate Pani Popo. I hadn't heard of such a thing before but I was hooked from the first photo - a Samoan classic, these are a sweet yeast dough and this version has a caramel sauce made with coconut milk and a chocolate chip filling. where's mine please?!

Alexandra from The Lass in the Apron has provided us with a very indulgent, lovely treat in the form of this German Chocolate Cake now.  Made for her Mum's birthday, this eggless layered cake is filled with a fudge icing and covered in a glorious coconut pecan frosting. What's more is there is a tutorial on how to make your own chocolate roses too.

Caroline from Caroline Makes has made these Peanut Butter and Coconut Cookies after inspiration came from a particular film and having only a limited supply of ingredients accessible, proof that yummy recipes can come of of such restraints. What makes these really interesting is the heavy use of peanut butter instead of a mixture of peanut butter and normal butter. Plus, these biscuits are very adaptable and Caroline gives us three options as a kickstart.

I don't know how Rebecca from BakeNQuilt has achieve it but somehow she has managed to make the neatest and most perfect Lamingtons I have ever seen. Giving a little history as to their origin and clear instructions on how to get such a good finish, even messy-in-the-kitchen me might be able to give these a go. The raspberry option looks just as good as the chocolate ones too. It's ok to be supportive and jealous at the same time right?!
With so many blondie and brownie recipes out there that call for masses of sugar it is really refreshing to see these Lemon, White Chocolate and Coconut Blondies from Natalie at Hungry Hinny. Don't worry though, the amount of white chocolate in there keeps them sweet and the lemon curd swirled into the mix gives a lovely contrasst and pockets of strong lemon flavour to balance everything out. Mmmmm.
Johanna from Green Gourmet Giraffe gives us a myriad of complementary flavours and textures now in this Vegan Bacon and Seed Chocolate Bark. Not something I would have thought of myself, it sisn't take me long to realise that this sort of thing would seeon become addictive and disappear. Deliciously smokey with hints of bacon and spices and lots of nutty textures, this bark is rounded off with lots of chocolate. 

Linsy from Home Cook Food gives us a recipe next that is both quick and easy so it is no surprise that these Cocoa Fig and Date Rolls have proved so popular with everyone who gets to try them. If I got a taste I would feel almost virtuous with all those fruit and nuts then the cocoa would give another level.
The theme of this months challenge meant that these Coconut Chocolate Mini Cupcakes were a very convenient bake from the Nutty Tart.  There is nothing better when you get to test out a new piece of kitchen kit, save for perhaps when the experiment is a success which these wonderfully chocolatey bites were, complete with a coconut cream frosting and a very clever tip for reducing coconut milk.

Our final entry is another from Alexandra at The Lass in the Apron with these Coconut Easter Eggs.  Simple, quick and fun to make, these would lovely presented in a box or cellophane bag as a present, though as beautiful as they are with the piped decorations, I don't think they would last very long once the first one was tasted! Check out Alexandra's blog for some wonderful news too which I'm sure we'll all wish her the best of luck with.

Oops, maybe not. I'm pleased to update the round up with these Coconut Meringue Gems from Hannah at Corner Cottage Bakery which were submitted before the deadline but I forgot to check Twitter for non-linky entries! Sorry!  Made to recreate the Iced Gems of childhood, I think these would be far more gorgeous with their meringue topping, chocolate layer and coconut biscuit base. And yet they're still suitable to pull apart and eat separately in the same way it was so popular to eat the originals if that's your thing. Don't be ashamed now. Most of us have done it with something!

Wow, I'm certainly hungry now after writing about all those delicious recipes. I hope you are as inspired as I am and don't forget to let me know if you end up baking anything from the selection. It's been wonderful to host We Should Cocoa so thank you once again to Choclette. Next month Rachel is hosting so check out her blog at the start of next month to see the next theme and enjoy!

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Mini Creme Egg Brownies

This is one of those posts where I could simply state "Creme eggs. Brownies." and present you with the recipe. You'd understand. You'd know they are a better than good combination. But if there is one thing that I like almost as much as baking something, it is talking about what I have been up to in the kitchen (there are several people who can attest to that I assure you) so I can't leave it at a single sentence. Especially as these are really good.
I know Creme Egg brownies have been done a million times before but not by me. Plus, I always seem to miss baking seasonal goodies because of one thing or another so it makes baking and writing about these brownies extra good. They came about when I asked one of the PhDs at uni to look through my Pinterest boards and pick something for me to make at the weekend because I couldn't decide myself. I didn't end up baking anything from there because said PhD came up with the idea of putting frozen chunks of Creme Eggs into a brownie mixture. I had to try it and I had to use my own recipe because I'm rather proud of it. 
Attempt one was yummy but even though I covered the chunks in more chocolate, I must've not sealed them well enough because the fondant still leaked out and disappeared into the mixture. It made for an extra gooey brownie but I wanted large chunks. These are the results of attempt two and I'm really pleased with them. Whole mini Creme Eggs were totally the way forward. 
They are everything a brownie should be. Immensely moist and gooey, fudgey beyond belief and silky soft to boot. Hidden away amongst an incredibly rich crumb structure,  to provide a surprise with every bite, are chunks of sweet, creamy milk chocolate and that's before you even get to the whole Mini Creme Egg in the centre.
Sickly? Absolutely. That's the intention. Could you argue they are too moist? Some people might but I say not. The only way a brownie could be too moist is if you handed me a plate with a pool of raw mixture on and even then, everyone knows that brownie mixute is one of the best, right up there with Victoria sponge. I make no apologies for being pushy here. Do yourself a favour and give these a go.

print recipe

Mini Creme Egg Brownies
An amazingly chocolately, fudgey gooey brownie with chunks of chocolate and a whole Mini Creme Egg in each piece.
  • 90g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 95g milk chocolate, chopped
  • At least 9 Mini Creme Eggs, peeled and frozen
  • 85g butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 50g plain flour
  • 50g self raising flour
  • 30g cocoa
1. Melt the dark chocolate, 35g milk chocolate and butter in a microwave. Set the oven to 170 C/150 C fan and line a 8" square cake tin with parchment.2. Whisk the eggs, sugar and vanilla together until frothy then mmix in the melted chocoalte mixture. Sift the flours and cocoa together then fold in. When almost combined, add the remaining chopped chocolate and fold in.3. Pour into the lined tin, level off and bake in the preheated oven for 20 mins. Remove from the oven and quickly place at least 1 Mini Creme Egg where each piece will be. Go for more if you wish. Bake for a further 15-20 mins until a cake tester inserted close to the middle comes out with some crumbs on still.4. Cool completely in the tin on a wire rack then slice and serve, if you can wait that long.
Even though I'm a little early for Easter, these are definitely Easter themed to me what with the use of mini Creme Eggs - a key icon of the chocolate side of the festival. Easter means Spring and so I'm entering them into Rachel from Dolly Bakes (our current host) and Laura from Laura Loves Cakes Calendar Cakes challenge. Hopefully I'll get to bake another Easter themed cake closer to the time because I have a really good idea I want to try out!

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Ultra-Sized Chocolate Chip Cookie

Have you ever made a recipe with vrey little other purpose than for fun? That was what this cookie was born out of. A couple of weeks ago I was shown a website by one of the PhDs at uni which was full of well know treats that people had made giant version of and I was soon hooked. With a good feeling that I could equal some of their attempts or better them in some cases I started mentally preparing a list of which ones to try. My favourite one will hopefully be coming soon but for my first go I made this monster.

It seemed like a good idea and it absolutely turned out to be a very good cookie. A longer slower bake retains that much sought after crisp on the edges, chewy in the middle deliciousness that so many people crave. Admittedly it was a struggle not to eat the whole think with a big glass of milk but I was well behaved. If you ignore the large bit I broke off for the inside photo and consequently snaffled half of before I even took said photo.

And the regular sized cookie I baked at the same time to compare it with and ate still molten from the oven. Ahem. But when there is a cookie this size hanging about, nobody is going to miss a tiny single one right?

So the next time you want to make something extra special but don't want to think about coming up with an extra special recipe, ultra size a cookie. Kids will love you, adults will love you, you will love you. Enough said.

This is a bit of a cheeky entry for this months AlphaBakes, a joint venture between Ros from The more than occasional baker (our host for this month) and Caroline of Caroline Makes seeing as I've forced the required letter U in there myself but there is no getting away from the fact that this is one ultra big cookie! Hopefully it will still count though!

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Chocolate Chunk Swirl Banana Bread

Confession time. This is a post for two cakes. It's that good I made it two weeks on the trot and added fudge chunks to the second one. Homemade fudge that is. Sorry for the immodest opening and all but I had to tell you. I would've felt very guilty otherwise if you'd started thinking 'hang on a minute - those pictures are for two different cakes'. Well, that's because they are but at the same time not. They're more like unidentical twins - born of the same recipe but each uniquely different. See?

I know that you are probably groaning at the sight of yet another banana loaf recipe but this one really did turn out so good. A moist, squidgy, well flavoured crumb dancing with the darker hit of the chocolate portion adding another layer of flavour. And then the chunks of  chocolate on top. The addition of sweet, creamy milk chocolate was my way of decorating and declaring this marriage made in heaven. Something like this doesn't want a layer of icing. No, the chunks are the best way of highlighting the craggy wonderous nature of a cake that isn't delicate but remains a perfect example of all that a cake should be.

See? Don't you want to dive right in? I've just eaten breakfast and I want a slice right now.

print recipe

Chocolate Swirl Banana Bread
A sumptuously moist banana loaf cake swirledd with a chocolate portion and decorated with chunks of creamy milk chocolate.
  • 250g self raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 100g butter, softened
  • 3-4 small very ripe bananas, sliced
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • splash of milk
  • 100g fudge chunks (optional)
  • 120g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 100g milk chocolate, chopped
1. Set the oven to 170 C/150 C fan and line a 2lb loaf tin.2. Melt the dark chocolate and set aside to cool. Sift the flour, baking powder and sugar together and rub in the butter.3. Whisk together the eggs, vanilla and milk then mash in the bananas very well.4. Mix the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined (add the fudge here if using) then spoon 2/3 into the cake tin. Mix the chocolate into the remaining third, drop spoonfuls onto the plain mixture and swirl together.4. Sprinkle the milk chocolate over the top, pressing some chunks in slightly and bake in the preheated oven for about 1 hour. Check after 45 mins or so though, rotating the tin accordingly. (I find loaf cakes are the most sensitive to differences between ovens.) 6. Once a cake tester inserted into the middle comes out clean, leave the cake to cool in the tin on a wire rack then remove, slice and serve.