Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting

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I am still looking for different ways to use the leftover ground almonds I have (remember my marmalade loaf cake?)  I will probably end up adding it to my muesli mix in the end, but I did manage to use up some of it in these cupcakes.

I found this recipe for chocolate and almond cupcakes on the Sainsbury’s recipes website.  What’s not to love about a chocolate cupcake, eh!!  I wanted to do something slightly different for the frosting though, and peanut butter came to mind.  Chocolate and peanut butter?  Win-win.

Ground almonds in a cake batter always gives a different texture to a standard sponge mixture.  It works very well in a lot of cases.

The recipe itself is the ‘standard cream the butter and sugar, add eggs and then add dry ingredients’ format. Although the recipe didn’t call for it, I added a teaspoon of vanilla paste to the cake batter, because after all, what’s life without a bit of deviation!!

I really do need a holiday.  My focus is not strong and I found myself thinking what the hell and being just a bit too casual about the whole process.  I have made cupcakes plenty of times, and more than enough times to know things can and do go wrong.

This recipe claims to make 12 cupcakes, but I only managed to eke out 10 from the mixture.  You know when you read the ingredients and think….surely not, there’s not enough here….and then you find it really only stretched to 10 cupcakes after all.  I shouldn’t complain because the cupcake recipes I most often use claim to make 12 cupcakes and I get 18 out of them (smug face).

I looked up different recipes for peanut butter frosting but they all had ingredients I didn’t want to use.  In the end I decided to wing it.  I was so convinced the cakes would be a disaster that I didn’t measure what I did.  Dear reader, I put some softened butter in a bowl, threw in some icing sugar, some vanilla essence and whisked it until it was light and fluffy.  Dust cloud alert:  mix well with a spoon before applying the electric whisk! Then I threw in a large quantity of peanut butter and whisked again.  Quantities?  I don’t know.  But it worked.  You can’t go far wrong with a frosting.

The end result:  the cupcake is light and fluffy.  I personally would have preferred a slightly more deep chocolatey flavour, but it’s fine as it is.  I don’t know if that would have been the difference between using cocoa powder versus melted chocolate in the batter.  The frosting is delicious (of course I licked the bowl) it has a good peanut butter flavour, but not overpowering and is not over-sweet.

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, I wish you a peaceful weekend 🙂

 

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Chocolate Orange Pudding Cake

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I have long been a huge fan of Nigella Lawson.  I first discovered her when she did a food column for Vogue magazine.  She was less well known then, not having written her cookery books, but has deservedly gone on to even greater heights.  Today’s bake is one I used to do often when I had friends over for dinner.  It was always a success, and is so easy to make.  It is, as it says, a pudding cake.  The texture is dense and slightly squidgy (technical term) and is more pudding than cake.  I wrote the recipe down when I first baked it, and have since tried to Google it.  I am unable to find this one other than looking at other bloggers’ sites.  I am guessing it might have appeared in her Vogue column.  There is a similar (but not identical) version with raspberries in her fabulous book “How to Eat“. But, again I cannot find this recipe online other than via other bloggers’ sites.

Ingredients:

125 butter

100g dark chocolate, broken into pieces.

300g good orange marmalade

150g sugar

2 eggs, beaten with a pinch of salt

150g self raising flour.

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180°C.  Butter and flour a 20cm springform cake tin – or use a cake tin liner.

Put the butter in a heavy-based saucepan and melt over a low heat (you can also do it with a double boiler, or a heatproof bowl over a pan of hot water).  When the butter is nearly melted, add the chocolate.  Remove from the heat and stir until the butter and chocolate are smooth and liquid.  Set aside to cool for a bit.

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Add the marmalade and sugar (I used light muscovado sugar, but plain white sugar is fine too).  Use any type of marmalade you like, one with a coarse shred adds more texture to the cake, but not everyone prefers that.  Add the beaten eggs and mix well until amalgamated.  Stir in the flour, and pour into the cake tin.  Place in the oven and bake for approximately 50 minutes – ovens vary and I find my cake needs just under an hour of cooking time, but check, insert a skewer and if it comes out clean, the cake is ready.  Cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out.

This pudding cake is best eaten slightly warm, with cream, mascarpone or crème fraiche.  This is so simple and easy, and everyone will ask for the recipe!

Of course it would have looked a whole lot better if I had sifted a light dusting of icing sugar over the cake, but hey, it’s all about the taste, isn’t it!!

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, I wish you a peaceful day 🙂

Marbled Chocolate Cheesecake

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It’s about time I did a baked cheesecake, isn’t it!  There are so many lovely recipes for no-bake cheesecake that I have been getting lazy.  So in this week’s search for a new bake, I thought I’d give this a go.  I chose this recipe because I had most of the ingredients already.  I had initially been looking for something with a butterscotch theme….but I’ll restrain myself and do that another time.  I can’t lie, I saw this recipe and I thought hmmmm……what if I do this instead…..what if I tweak that….but I kept some self-control and actually followed the recipe this time 🙂

This is a Mary Berry recipe for Chocolate Ripple Cheesecake (good old Mary Berry, I just felt that I couldn’t fail with her behind the idea).

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And so to the base of the cheesecake – this recipe used a biscuit crumb base – my favourite option, so easy.  I tend to find most recipes for this type of base use too much butter, with the result that the base is rock hard and you end up struggling when you dig in with a spoon to eat it, cautious of either smashing through the pudding bowl, or of half the cheesecake flying across the room.  As a result, I do my own thing, and err on the side of caution.  It’s a fine balance between ending up with a crumbly base which doesn’t hold together, and one that is firmly glued together!

The cream cheese is softened, sugar is added, a couple of eggs and a small amount of vanilla extract.  This mixture is then divided in half, with half of it being mixed into melted dark chocolate.

My attempts at rippling the chocolate mixture through the vanilla mixture were not terribly successful (must try harder next time!). But I dolloped both mixtures into the baking tin and put it in the oven.

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The cheesecake then bakes for its allotted time, and is left in the oven to cool.  This required patience, because it was then refrigerated to cool completely before cutting.  the top of my cheesecake had quite a few cracks in it, and so it looked awful in my photos (which I deleted).

The end result was lovely though, in spite of not being beautifully rippled, it tasted lovely and had that good texture that you get with a baked cheesecake.  All round, a success.

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Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, I wish you a peaceful weekend 🙂

Chocolate Fudge Tia Maria Cake

Well hello, hello! Yes, I’m back.  2018, huh? What a year, and it’s still only January.

There is a recipe I have been wanting to bake for years.  Yes, years.  But for some reason or other, I never manage to get round to it.  When I was in primary school, my best friend Becky’s mum made a lovely cake called Parkin.  It was so delicious, I persuaded her to let me have the recipe, and a few months later I was at my stepmother’s house and decided to bake this for everyone.  Not being familiar with the kitchen, and where she kept everything, I could not find the flour.  I busied myself getting the ingredients together and then, somehow, managed to get distracted and forgot to ask where the flour was.  The cake was mixed, put in the oven and baked…………….the finished result was….well, let’s just say, it didn’t hold together well.  As we were all munching on the bits of cake – which were, everyone agreed, delicious – it suddenly came to me…the flour!!! That’s what was missing. 11-year old me didn’t have the confidence to confess, but, anyway, everyone enjoyed the (not quite proper) Parkin.

Fast-forward rather a lot of years, and this weekend I decided to revisit this cake.  I didn’t have the original recipe anymore, but, there are plenty about on a Google search.  The result?  Fail!!! I don’t know if it was me, the recipe, bad luck or a combination of all three.  It was horrible, dry….it ended up in the rubbish bin.

I felt I had to bake.  I had to bake something that would work out.  I had to bake something I had not baked before.  Saturday was #NationalChocolateCakeDay.  What else, then, but a variation on the chocolate cake theme!  Chocolate cake with a slight twist, the ultimate Tia Maria Chocolate fudge cake.

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I didn’t have any white sugar, and so the sugar I used was light muscovado sugar. In the method, I mixed the melted chocolate mixture with the flour, whisked it well and then added all the eggs, whisking as I added.  I didn’t think it would make a crucial difference to the outcome and I don’t think it did.

The cake is lovely, rich, moist, chocolatey and fudgey.  I have not iced it, but I think a good dollop of thick boozy cream would go very well with it instead of icing.

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, I wish you a peaceful weekend 🙂

Cappuccino Cheesecake Cups

I don’t particularly like traditional Christmas pudding, and years ago I decided that as long as I was cooking the Christmas meal, I would make a pudding I wanted.  Sod tradition! The pudding I make most often is Christmas Crumble, which is always popular, and is sufficiently “Christmassy” to satisfy most people’s idea of what is acceptable on the day! I have, however, also made various trifles, and various chocolate-based puddings.

This year I was particularly indecisive.  I wanted to do something that required minimal effort.  A no-bake cheesecake was an option.  Years ago there were many variations on a theme of cheesecake pots – little pots of cheesecake mixture, usually involving brandy, rum, or some kind of alcohol.  I eventually found – in my gigantic trunk of recipes collected over the years – this one.  In the end I didn’t make this for Christmas day as the numbers of my guests doubled and Christmas Crumble was an easier way to feed the masses.

I still had cream, and cream cheese which I had bought in preparation, to use up, and so this weekend I made these Cappuccino Cheesecake Cups.  This recipe is so quick and easy, minimal effort.  It is very adaptable in that the flavour (in this case coffee and chocolate) can be easily varied.

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Ingredients:

3 tablespoons light muscovado sugar

1 tablespoon instant coffee granules

450g cream cheese

150ml double cream, plus extra for decorating

3 tablespoons Tia Maria

Amaretti biscuits

Dark chocolate for decorating

Method:

Put the sugar and coffee granules in a food processor and blitz to a fine powder.

Soften the cream cheese and mix in the sugar & coffee mixture with the Tia Maria.

Add the cream and using an electric whisk, beat it all together until it is well mixed and thick.

Place an Amaretti biscuit at the bottom of a small glass and spoon the cheesecake mixture on top (it would look really neat if it was piped). Pour a thin layer of cream over the top and finely grate the chocolate to cover the cream.  Refrigerate for a couple of  hours to set.

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, I wish you a peaceful weekend 🙂

Meringues (egg-free)

The word of the day is aquafaba. Yes, that slimy liquid in a can of chickpeas or beans.  It is magic, that stuff!  We’ll swiftly gloss over my previous failure using this liquid to make an egg-free chocolate mousse….and move on the one recipe I’ve had continued success with: meringues. And, what’s not to like about a meringue!! Especially one with no eggs.  NO EGGS!  Yes, my hatred of egg continues.

And so, to the meringues. Drain a can of chickpeas – you’ll need 120ml of the liquid. Of course you’re going to make hummus with the chickpeas rather than throw them away, aren’t you.

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Now, have patience and watch the liquid transform, you’ll think it won’t, but it will …..use an electric whisk, you’ll thank me (it takes a while to whisk….)

Whisk until soft peaks form and then slowly whisk in 100g caster sugar, a bit at a time until the whole lot is incorporated and you have a lovely shiny stiff mixture….

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This can be spooned or piped on to a baking tray lined with baking paper.  I like to pipe them because it makes me feel posh! You’ll need 2 trays, this will make about 40 small meringues. Bake at 90°C (fan oven) for about 1h30 – or till the meringues lift easily off the baking paper.  Leave to cool.

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They are fine as they are, but I like to dip their bottoms in chocolate for a bit of extra oomph.

I used Lindt Raspberry Intense for a bit of tang. Once the meringues have cooled, dip their bases in the chocolate and leave to let the chocolate set.  Patience is a virtue.  Don’t forget to lick the bowl afterwards (cook’s prerogative)

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And, at last…..egg-free meringues.  Store in an air tight container.  Do not put in the fridge!

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, I wish you a peaceful weekend 🙂

 

 

 

Double Chocolate Chunk & Peanut Cookies

I am a lazy baker, I admit this.  I tend to go back time and again to recipes I love, and that I know won’t fail.  After all, why not just keep making the bakes that you enjoy?!  But I am making an effort. Really, I am!  And so today’s bake was a recipe I have not tried before.  Who doesn’t love a crunchy & chewy chocolate chip cookie? And when salted peanuts and peanut butter are added – how could I resist?  And of course, I do have a thing for that sweet-and-salty mix.

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When I try a recipe for the first time, it can be nerve-wracking, sometimes it works really well, and sometimes I get that uneasy feeling – is this how it is supposed to look? Surely that shouldn’t have happened? That looks wrong, how do I rescue it?  But I ploughed on regardless……and lost my concentration, and forgot to take photos….

I wasn’t convinced, I kept checking and re-checking the recipe……I had added all the ingredients…..it said it would make 12 cookies but there didn’t look nearly enough mixture to manage that….P1000796

The recipe said it would be a soft batter which would just drop off the spoon….it wasn’t and it didn’t….. But, you know, sometimes you think sod it, I’ve got so far, I’m going to finish this off. And I did.

I ended up with 14 large cookies!  They smell divine! They just need to cool off a little bit before they can be eaten.

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, I wish you a peaceful weekend 🙂