This was another 'make room in the freezer' baking session. I had more grated pumpkin in the freezer, along with some 'shop damaged' bananas (6p for a bag). I defrosted them and made two cake mixes. My idea was to pour them in opposite ends of a baking tray, giving the middle a swirl so the ends were one type of cake and the middle had both combined.
The original recipe was based on the pumpkin cupcakes. I beat together 175ml of vegetable oil, 3 eggs and a teaspoon of vanilla extract, then divided the mixture in two.
In one half I added the pumpkin cake ingredients (but using cranberries instead of sultanas):
- 85g golden caster sugar
- 100g of grated pumpkin
- 50g cranberries
- 1 tsp cinnamon with ½ tsp of mixed spice
In the other half I added
- 85g of drinking chocolate powder, with an extra tablespoon of sugar
- 100g mashed banana
- 50g sultanas
Both halves also had
- 100g self raising flour
- ½ tsp of bicarbonate of soda
I poured the two batters into a 10x6 inch tray. I expected the cakes to take about half an hour at gas mark 4 but it was well over ¾ hour before the middle stopped being liquid.
When the cake had cooled, I made a lemon juice icing, slightly runny so I could drizzle it over the top.
I took some of the cake to work to share (since that was where the hot chocolate powder came from, it was only fair to do that). People seemed to like it - I got favourable comments from people, someone even noticed that I had used an oil based recipe. Both cakes were definitely worth doing again.
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I made a second batch of the apple sauce and drinking chocolate brownies. This time I added a handful of dried cherries to the mix. I also used half apple pureé and half olive oil, since I only had half a cup of apple pureé in the fridge (the rest is in the freezer).
When the brownies came out of the oven, I sprinkled 50g of plain chocolate over the top and waited for it to melt before spreading it over the top.
I took the cakes to work the share out and the everyone seemed to like them.
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We have a glut of hot chocolate powder in work, left over from when we used a different drinks machine. I was talking to a colleague in the kitchen and I wondered whether I could use some of it to make cakes. I decided to take some home to make an experimental batch of chocolate brownies. If they were any good, I would make some more to take back to work to share.
Every now and then I use apple sauce in recipes, since it can be used to replace some or all of the butter. We recently bought an Instant Pot, which we use several times a week as a pressure cooker, slow cooker, bread proving pot, or sometimes just a giant saucepan. It is very useful and I fully intend to blog a bit more about it in the future.
We had recently been given a bag of apples from the tree in Emma's Auntie Val's garden. I peeled them, cut them into big chunks and put them in the instant pot with a splash of water. I cooked them on the 'Soup' programme for 15 minutes and they had cooked down to a smooth pureé, there was no need to mash or liquidize afterwards.
I looked up some brownie recipes to get a feel for the quantities, then decided to use the hot chocolate powder to replace both the sugar and cocoa powder.
- 1 cup of apple purée
- 3 eggs
- 1½ cup of hot chocolate powder
- a pinch of salt
- 1 cup of plain flour
- 1 teaspoon of baking powder
- 50g of plain chocolate, broken into chunks
- Heat the oven to 180C or gas mark 4. Grease and line a 9 or 10 inch cake tin.
- Mix the apple pureé, eggs and hot chocolate powder together
- Mix together the flour, baking powder and salt and sift into the wet mixture. Fold in.
- Stir in the chocolate pieces.
- Pour into the tin and bake for about 30-40 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean.
Unfortunately I had to leave the house before the brownie was fully cooked so I turned the oven off and left it in while the oven cooled. When I got back, the brownie was properly cooked though, possibly a bit over-cooked because it wasn't moist and squishy inside.
There was absolutely nothing wrong with the flavour though. Chocolate cakes do need a lot of cocoa powder or they just end up like brown sponge cakes. This was probably about right. I tried a square, then remembered that I needed to take a photo to put here. After taking the photo, I made a coffee and ate the second piece. If there is any cake left on monday, I'll take it to work, but I'll probably have to make another one to make sure there is enough to go round.
I recently bought another jar of malt extract, to replace the one I bought back in 2013 which had gone mouldy. I have started adding a tablespoon of it to bread or pizza base.
Last week we had some milk in the fridge which was about to go out of date so I thought I'd have a go at making a malted drink, a bit like horlicks or ovaltine. I put a spoon each of cocoa powder and malt extract in a jug, added the milk and gave it a whisk before warming it in the microwave. It probably needed more cocoa but it was good.
Tonight I had a go at making a spiced hot chocolate. I put sugar, ginger, cinnamon and a cardomom pod in a jug of milk and heated it before whisking it into some cocoa powder. I guessed at the amounts of spice and got the balance about right. I didn't write down the quantities but it was about a quarter of a teaspoon of each.
I should have known that I was being a bit too ambitious with my Christmas recipe plans. After eating a stollen, a panettone and a couple of boxes of Christmas chocolates, I didn't feel like making any full sized cakes or puddings.
Emma found this recipe so after we made them I decided they could count as one of my new recipes. The filling was mashed potato mixed with icing sugar. Even after we had added all the icing sugar we had, it was still quite soft so it needed heavily chilling before it could be dipped in melted chocolate and rolling in coconut.
The centre was soft, not too sweet and you couldn't taste the potato. Overall they were very tasty.
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Since it is Christmas, there has been a lot of unhealthy (but very tasty) foods being eaten. We made (and ate) 3 different desserts, which I will describe here, and not a single Christmas Pudding in sight.
For breakfast on Christmas Day, we had waffles with fresh cream and ganache. This was accompanied by the traditional bucks fizz, only we made a red bucks fizz using sparkling rose and an orange and raspberry juice.
The next two desserts were larger which we shared when we went to visit friends and family.
Pear Syllabub. The pears were peeled and sliced and poached in a sweet dessert wine. The cake was a simple microwave sponge cake. The syllabub itself was creme fraiche, double cream, icing sugar, the wine from the poached pears, and the juice and zest of 1 lemon, all beaten together. We layered the sponge, pears and cream mixture in a bowl and put it in the fridge overnight.
The roulade recipe was from the Daily Mail 'Weekend' magazine but was similar to a recipe on Delia's website.
This recipe was based on another from Channel 4 which contained turkish delight. As usual we adjusted the recipe according to what we had in our kitchen.
Yesterday I roasted 500g of sweet potatoes for around 1 hour at gas mark 5, until the insides had gone soft and the skins had gone crispy. I scraped the insides out of the skins and put them in a tub in the fridge until we were ready to start the recipe.
The new ingredients were as follows:
500g sweet potato
15 quail eggs (equivalent to 3 medium eggs)
140g light brown sugar
60g dark muscavado sugar
175g dark chocolate
25g ground almonds and 75g ground peanuts
2 tablespoons millet flour
70g fat reduced cocoa powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tbsp vanilla extract
no turkish delight
The method was the same as the channel 4 version but we stirred the mixture instead of folding in the ingredients because the mixture was a bit too dry to start with.
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We have a monthly cake day in work, on the last friday of each month. My contribution was this chocolate and beetroot cake:
The recipe came from the Channel 4 website. A couple of months ago I mentioned to a colleague that I had some beetroot in the garden. He sent me the recipe and said it was better than you'd expect.
The beetroot from the garden was smaller than I expected. When I weighed it, it was closer to 75g than the 250g required so I had to go out and buy some more. The supermarket didn't have raw beetroot so I got cooked instead and I don't think it had any adverse effect.
The cake was quite good, with a nice gooey texture. I don't actually like beetroot so I was glad you couldn't really taste it in the cake. I peeled all the beetroot to reduce the chance of the cake having that 'earthy' taste which beetroot often has.
We have made cookies in the past but this was a new recipe so it counts here.
The recipe came from allrecipes.co.uk but we used smarties instead of chocolate chips.
I have reproduced the recipe here for convenience:
250g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
170g unsalted butter, melted
200g dark brown soft sugar
100g caster sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg yolk
325g chocolate chips (or smarties etc.)
(tweaked slightly from the original)
Preheat the oven to 170 C / Gas mark 3. Grease baking trays or line with parchment.
Sift together the flour, bicarb and salt; set aside.
In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and caster sugar until well blended. Beat in the vanilla, egg and egg yolk until light and creamy. Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand using a wooden spoon.
Drop cookie dough onto the prepared baking trays, with each cookie around 1-2 tablespoons of dough (for smaller cookies, reduce baking time slightly). Do not flatten the dough. Cookies should be about 8cm apart.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the edges are lightly toasted. Cool on baking trays for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.
Based on a recipe in the Mail on Sunday 'You' magazine.
To make the base:
- 170g/6oz butter
- 75g/2½oz sugar
- 100g/3½oz ground almonds
- 150g/5oz plain flour
Use a food processor to mix everything together until it all sticks together into one lump. Put into a well buttered baking tray (approx 6x6 inches) and press flat. Put into the fridge to chill for around 1 hour. Prick the base all over with a fork and bake for ¾ hour on gas mark 3 (around 150°C). Leave to cool while you prepare the topping.
To make the topping:
- 200g bar of plain chocolate
- 200ml double cream
- 100g macadamia nuts
Break the chocolate into chunks and slowly melt over a pan of boiling water. Beat in the cream until well mixed. Pour the topping over the base and generously scatter the macadamia nuts, pressing them gently into the chocolate (you don't want them to fall off when you eat it). Cover and put in the fridge for a couple of hours before cutting into very small fingers (at least 12-15 servings). Warning: this is loaded with calories. Depending on the cream and chocolate, up to 300 calories per serving!