I am fed up of store bought brownies. They just never seem to be right. They are either too cakelike without enough chew or the top isn’t glazed. I don’t even understand why, brownies couldn’t be much simpler. Couple a good chewy brownie with some nuts and you’ve got heaven. There isn’t even much more I can say about that. I just got a craving, one that could only be satisfied by Pecan Brownies.
I’m a bit of a cheat with brownies. I got a brownie tin a little while back that allows me to bake them into individual squares, rather than into one big slab.
- 225 grams light brown muscovado sugar
- 75 grams self-raising flour
- 25 grams cocoa powder
- 3 large eggs (beaten)
- 400 grams milk chocolate
- 200 grams butter
- 100 grams pecan nuts (chopped)
- Preheat oven to 150°C (130°C fan).
- Melt the chocolate with the butter using a water bath, placing a heatproof bowl over hot water and stirring until they have melted together.
- Add the sugar to the molten chocolate and mix well. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Stir in the nuts.
- Combine the flour and cocoa powder then sift into the chocolate mixture, mixing well.
- If using a tin similar to mine, divide up the mixture to around half way up each of the holes. You’ll have enough leftover for either a second batch or else a small tin worth and bake for 35-45 minutes.
- Otherwise pour into an 8 inch square tin and bake for 60 minutes (1 hour).
Summer has well and truly hit Yorkshire this last week or so. With the sun shining it has lead me towards some more summer themed recipes. Along with a visit to the York food festival, which is just brimming with local food produce. I stocked up on various things (that my budget allowed) and came home with some Chorizo, Brie, Oak Smoked Cheddar and fresh Strawberries. There was infinitely more that I wanted, but I just couldn’t justify it. The trip to York was a delight, involving sun, food, ice cream, sights, beer and good company. There isn’t much of a better time to visit York (apart from maybe just before Christmas, when all the decorations are up). When the sun is out it is undoubtedly one of the prettiest cities in the UK. Even if, to me, it has the whole “hometown” dullness that happens when you live somewhere for your teenage years.
The pieces I picked up prompted me to make a couple of different things and over the next couple of days I’ll be uploading a couple of different recipes. This one involves the strawberries I picked up; Strawberries and Cream Cupcakes. It’s a quick recipe and absolutely perfect for summer. Especially if you are a Wimbledon fan. Strawberries and Cream is just one of the best simple combinations possible. Coupled with the surprise of a Strawberry Jam centre to add that extra hit of flavour these cupcakes can be put together quickly and don’t even feel unhealthy. Keeping them small and topped with a fresh strawberry you just can’t go wrong.
Strawberries and Cream Cupcakes
- 200g/7oz unsalted butter, softened
- 200g/7oz caster sugar
- 4 free-range eggs
- 200g/7oz self-raising flour
- 4 tbsp good-quality strawberry jam
- 250ml/9fl oz lightly whipped double cream
- 250g/9oz strawberries, hulled
- icing sugar, for dusting
- Preheat oven to 200°C (180°C fan). Line a cupcake tray with cases.
- Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, this can take several minutes, so persevere.
- Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Beating well after each addition.
- Fold in the flour until you have a smooth mixture, it will be quite thick.
- Spoon the mixture into the cases, filling about half way. Spoon about ½ a teaspoon of jam into the middle of each case. Cover with more cake mix. The final case should be around ¾ full.
- Place in the centre of your preheated oven and bake for between 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and set to cool on a wire rack.
- Once they have cooled, whip up the double cream. With a small sharp knife, cut a small well into the top of each cake.
- Pipe the cream into the well and top with a strawberry. Dust with icing sugar.
- Store in the fridge, these are best eaten straight away.
You’ve all seen my Oreo Truffle recipe. Something quick and easy that tastes incredible. Well what happens if you take that, and put it inside a cake? I already had a recipe that I’d used a few times for gooey centred cupcakes. It works great, rising up around the cream cheese filling. I had a bit of a brainwave to take the Oreo truffles I loved so much and put them in place of the chocolate/cream cheese filling from that recipe (I of course Googled it and realised that I wasn’t the first one to think of it). These cakes are decadent and once they’ve been topped off with a wonderful Oreo frosting they just taste incredible. Coupled with the look of surprise on most people’s faces when they reach the truffle centre. Oreo Truffle cupcakes are born.
Oreo Truffle Cupcakes with Oreo Frosting
- For the truffles:
- 250g Cream Cheese
- 2 x Packets Oreos
- For the cupcakes:
- 190g all-purpose flour
- 200g granulated sugar
- 64g sifted cocoa powder (for chocolate cupcakes)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg, cracked into a small cup or saucer
- 115g unsalted butter, softened
- 120ml buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 120ml hot water
- For the Frosting:
- 100g Cream Cheese
- ¾ Packet Oreos (put the others aside for decoration)
- 100g Powdered Sugar
- 100g Unsalted Butter
- Start with the truffles. Obliterate the Oreos, mix in with the cream cheese. Form in to balls and place in the fridge to chill while you make the batter.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan) and line your muffin tin with cases.
- Mix together the “dry” ingredients; flour, salt, baking soda (and cocoa powder if using). In the bowl of your electric mixer cream together the butter and the sugar.
- Mix in the eggs, buttermilk and vanilla extract. Then, alternate between adding the flour and the hot water in three stages. Starting and ending with the flour. Beat on a medium speed until smooth (this can take a few minutes).
- Divide the batter out between the cases. The cases should be filled to around ⅘ of the case. Drop a truffle into the centre of each cake. They are fairly heavy, so will probably sink towards the bottom, but make sure you don’t push them.
- Place in the centre of the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, until they have risen and a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack.
- While they are cooling, make the frosting. Cream together the butter and the powdered sugar. Add the cream cheese and Oreos and beat together. If you want to thicken it up, add more powdered sugar and more butter if you want it thinner.
- Once the cakes have completely cooled, ice them with a knife. Decorate with remaining Oreos.
Peanut butter. It’s back. Yes, I think I have a problem. I’ve been trying to avoid using it for a bit, because so much of my stuff contained it. Then my friend Naomi happened across a facebook group full of recipes and spent an evening posting things on my wall along the lines of “OOOO MAKE THIS” followed by “ACTUALLY NO, THIS!”. The majority of them caught my eye, but I decided they’d be better for an occasion. I picked out something I could do that would be easy to share. Chocolate Chip Cookies with Peanut Buttercream filling. The key with these is to make sure that the cookies are that little bit chewy. It takes them from ordeal, to incredible.
The other problem I had was that they didn’t spread as much as I’d expected. This meant that they ended up a bit tall and bulky. The later ones I baked for a minute or two less, and squashed them slightly with the back of a spoon to make them a little thinner. Unfortunately I lost the original source for this piece, so I don’t know who to credit.
Chocolate Chip Espresso Cookies with Peanut Buttercream Filling
- For the cookies
- 130g flour
- 88.5g cocoa powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ¼ tsp salt
- 120g unsalted butter, softened
- 134g granulated sugar
- 55g firmly packed brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 110g chocolate chips
- 1 tsp instant espresso powder
- For the filling
- 256g Powdered sugar
- 90g unsalted butter, softened
- 113g Creamy peanut butter
- (Possibly) 1-2tsp milk
- Mix together the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt) and set aside.
- In the bowl of your electric mixer, cream together the butter and the sugars until fluffy.
- Beat in the egg, then the vanilla. Add the espresso and beat until combined.
- On a slow speed, add the flour mixture in three stages, each time until it has just combined. After the last addition, add in the chocolate chips.
- Place the dough in the fridge and allow to chill for at least an hour, for it to firm.
- Once you feel it has chilled for long enough, remove from the fridge. Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan).
- Divide the dough into two equal sections. On a clean surface, form the dough into two equal rods. Rolling them out until they are around 12 inches in length. If they are shorter than this, don’t worry too much, you’ll just have larger cookies!
- Cut up the rods at intervals of about 1 inch.
- Place on greaseproof sheets in the center of the oven, around 1 inch apart.
- Bake for between 10-15 minutes. You want them to still be soft and chewy so it may be worth testing with one or two to begin with. I started baking them for around 13 and cut it down to 11 in the end. (As I said above, I pushed down some of them with the back of a spoon to make them spread better).
- Allow to cool partially before transferring to a wire rack.
- For the frosting. Starting on a slow speed, cream together the butter and the powdered sugar. Slowly increase the speed to medium and add the peanut butter. You may find that you need a small amount of milk to make it combine better.
- Spread on the top layer of a cookie, being fairly liberal with the amount, and then push down another cookie on top.
This is a recipe from January 2012, so apologies if it’s a bit rusty.
So I had been back from Australia for around a month. I’d made the call to stay in the UK rather than return down under. I was living at home with my parents, and as a result had a lot of time to myself. Any time I didn’t spend job-hunting, was time spent by myself. So I found myself baking a lot. It was January, what else is there to do? It was my friend Siobhan’s birthday (you should check her out, she does awesome Cross Stitch designs, which you can find here), and she’s a bit of a fan of the bearded gentleman. Thus, these were born.
- Cupcake ingredients:
- 115 grams (1/2 cup) unsalted butter at room temperature
- 130 grams (2/3 cup) granulated white sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 195 grams (1½ cups) all purpose flour
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 60 ml (1/4 cup) milk
- 200g (one large bar) White Chocolate, melted
- 110g/4oz butter, softened
- 170g/6oz icing sugar
- 55g/2oz cocoa powder, sifted
- 1-2 tbsp milk
- For the cakes.
- Preheat the oven to 180 °C (16°C fan oven), and line your muffin tray with cases.
- In the bowl of your electric mixer beat the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy.
- Add the eggs, one by one. After each addition, beat well. Beat in the vanilla extract.
- Separately, whisk together the dry ingredients.
- Put your mixer onto low speed. Alternate between adding the milk and the flour mix. Beginning and ending with the flour, this should be done in 3 additions. Scrape down the sides of the bowl from time to time.
- Divide the batter out evenly amongst the lined cases and place in the center of the pre-heated oven. Bake for 17-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven and set to cool on a wire rack.
- While they are cooling, you can start on the topping. Take the white chocolate, and melt it. I don’t have a microwave, so use a bowl over hot water. The better quality chocolate, the better results you’ll get. Spread the chocolate out on a sheet of greaseproof paper, until it’s smooth. Place another piece of greaseproof paper on top and sandwich the chocolate between two flat objects. Put it somewhere cool to set.
- While this is setting, make the buttercream. Cream the butter, add half of the icing sugar and beat until smooth. Add in the cocoa powder and the remaining icing sugar. Add 1tbsp of milk, only adding the rest if it’s needed.
- To decorate, cut out small circles from the set chocolate, using a sharp knife. Stick the circles to the tops of your cupcakes using a small amount of the buttercream. I had to cut the tips off a couple of cakes to make them flat enough.
- Pipe on your desired facial hair. I also used a small amount of white piping icing that my Mother had in her cupboards to draw details. I also added silver sugar balls as eyes.