Thursday, 13 May 2010

Cupcakes, cupcakes, cupcakes!!



My sister-in-law bought the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook for me for Christmas. First off, I love cookbooks. I can't actually get enough of them. I also love cupcakes. Who doesn't, really? Since receiving the cookbook, I've made 8 types of cupcakes, 2 cakes, 1 loaf, 1 cheesecake, 1 pie, 2 brownies, 2 muffins, and about 6 types of frosting. I've also found inspiration for my own recipes.

What I love about these cupcakes is this: They are light and really easy to make. They don't have incredibly complicated instructions and are very easily adaptable for someone like me - who doesn't eat egg. I've only had about 2 recipes that I really didn't like and only one complaint about another recipe.

I didn't like the Mississippi mud cake -- I think that is because the recipe is mainly egg and using a substitute doesn't cut it. I like my teeth too much to eat that ever again. The other was the banana cupcakes. Other people liked them, but I think that it tasted like banana bread -- and not the amazing banana bread in this cookbook, but a mediocre one in another book. Adding frosting was just weird.

The frosted brownie recipe looks amazing, but isn't. It doesn't rise, which I put down to the fact that it has no baking powder. Egg substitute would easily make that rise. It was really a shame. I used a truly delicious brownie adaptation from a book and my brain for the raspberry cheesecake brownie base. Lovely. I could kiss whoever came up with this delight! I probably won't though. I'll just lick the raspberry toping off of my face and say "hummingbird bakery" in hushed tones. So, so yummy.

The savoury muffins are also really nice. I particularly love the spinach and cheese. My husband had a particularly wimpy palette, so I've changed the cayenne for paprika. Still lovely. Still good any time of day. I highly recommend this book!

Pistachio filled chocolate cookies

About November time, I tried to make a pistachio paste that ended up a bit too hard. It has been in a bag in my freezer ever since, waiting for me to do something to it. Finally, after six months, I took it out and -- simple as this -- added about 2 tablespoons of warm water to it. It is now a lovely marzipan like paste that I would love to use more! I found a recipe for marzipan filled chocolate cookies and thought, "Why not pistachio?" And here they are.

The chocolate cookie recipe is pretty simple. I changed it a bit, adding baking powder, vanilla, and salt. The dough was so lovely that the cookies were almost not made. It's a really thick dough that almost feels like a cool cooked brownie.


Ingredients:
185g butter
200g light brown sugar
1 egg
300 g plain flour
60ml cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
pistachio paste
White chocolate

Directions:
Preheat oven to 190C/ 375F. Either lightly grease a baking tray or use grease proof baking paper.
Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat for an extra 2 minutes. Add egg and vanilla. Beat well. Sift remaining ingredients and add to the butter mixture. Beat until combined.
Take a ball of dough in your hand about 1 1/2 inches thick. Flatten it out and add a dollop of pistachio paste. Close the chocolate dough around it and pat together to remove seams. Continue for remaining dough. Makes about 20 cookies.
Bake for 10-12 minutes until the cookies have slightly risen and just the dough JUST starts to crack from the sides. Place on a wire rack to cool completely.
Melt the white chocolate and drizzle over the cookies.


Thursday, 12 November 2009

Chocolate Chip Apricot Cookies

I've been really craving some good chocolate chip cookies, like Ben's Cookies. I got a hold of the cookbook, authored by the founder of Ben's Cookies, Helge Rubinstein. Woo Hoo!! Now, I've been trying to make sure that food doesn't go bad in my cupboards, so I decided to also use some dried apricots. Good? Wow, I think so, but you'll have to decide for yourself.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup pale brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
a few drops of vanilla essence
1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
a pinch of salt
chocolate chips (probably between 1/2 cup and 1 cup .. depending.)
dried apricots, roughly chopped

Directions:
Set oven at 190C/ 375F
Beat the butter with both sugars until pale and fluffy, then beat in the egg and vanilla.
Sift the flour with baking soda and salt. Beat into the mixture.
Stir in chocolate chips and roughly chopped apricots. (You can gage how many chocolate chips to use by the amount of dough you have. I used 1 UK package of chocolate chips, which is 100g ... or about 1/2 cup .. which was plenty of chocolate chips.) (Also, with the apricots, I cut them using kitchen shears. Putting them into a food chopper or processor made them clump together. Cutting about 6 or so dried apricots directly into the bowl helped them to mix more evenly into the dough.)
Place small spoonfuls of the dough on to well greased, papered, or non stick baking trays. (I'd suggest balling the dough in 1" balls, since it makes the cookies last longer and you don't feel so bad when you eat more than one.) Be sure to leave space for them to spread.
Bake 10-15 minutes, until the balls have spread into thick cookies and the tops have just begun to split. To lock in moisture, lightly slam the tray down before taking the cookies off the tray to cool on a wire rack.

Monday, 19 January 2009

Molten Chocolate Cakes

Ingredients:  serves 6
4 Tbsp butter at room temperature (plus some for muffin tins)
1/3 cup granulated sugar (plus some for muffin tins)
3 large eggs
1/3 cup all purpose flour (although, I use self rising flour)
1/4 tsp salt
8 oz bitter sweet chocolate, melted
confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Directions:
Preheat oven to 200C/ 400F.  Butter 6 cups of a muffin tin (I usually end up with about 9-12).  Dust with granulated sugar, tapping out excess.  Set aside.
Cream butter and granulated sugar until fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat in flour and salt until just combined.  Beat in chocolate until just combined.  Divide evenly in muffin cups.  
Bake just until tops of cakes no longer jiggle when the pan is lightly shaken -- 8 to 10 minutes.  Remove from oven.  Let stand 10 minutes.
Turn out cakes.  Place on serving plates bottom sides up and dust with confectioners' sugar.

sweet potato and butternut squash soup

Ingredients:
1 sweet potato
1 butternut squash
1 medium onion

Directions:

Seed the butternut squash.  Cut into cubes and place on a baking tray.  Don't peel.  Cut sweet potato without peeling and place on baking tray.  Quarter onion and place on baking tray.  Drizzle olive oil over vegetables and bake at 200C/ 400F ish for 1 hour.  
When finished, blend with 1 liter of vegetable stock.  

Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

Ingredients:
1 cup butter, softened
2 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 3/4 cup sugar
4 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp lemon extract
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup poppy seeds

Directions:
Butter and flour two 8" round cakes tins.  Line with waxed baking paper.  Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.  Cream butter with electric mixer.  Gradually add sugar.  Mix in eggs after each addition.  Beat in vanilla and lemon extract.  Add flour and milk alternatively and beat on low speed after each addition.  Stir in poppy seeds.  Pour batter into tins and bake at 350F/ 180C for 35-45 minutes or until knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Cool on wire rack.  Remove from tins and peel off wax paper.  Spread cream cheese frosting on bottom layer, stack on the top layer, and frost again.  When ready to serve, pour lemon poppy seed glaze over the top, allowing to drizzle down the sides.  
Cream Cheese Frosting: 
beat 1 8oz package of cream cheese with electric mixer until smooth.  Add 1/4 cup butter and 2 cups powdered sugar.  Mix on low speed until smooth.  (I found this a bit too runny.)
Lemon Poppy Seed Glaze:
Stir together 1 cup powdered sugar, 3Tbsp lemon juice, and 1 1/2 tsp poppy seeds.  Add more lemon juice if needed.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Honey-Almond Granola

Ingredients:
4 cups porridge oats
1 1/2 cups cracked wheat
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/4 cup cooking oil
1/2 cup honey
1 tsp almond extract

Directions:
Preheat oven to 300F/170C
In a large bowl, mix oats, wheat, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  
In a sauce pan, warm the oil and honey.  Stir in the almond extract.  Carefully pour the liquid mixture over the oat mixture.  Stir gently with a wooden spoon until mixture is evenly coated.  
Spread granola on a large cookie sheet or in a baking dish.  Bake 40 minutes for the cookie sheet and 50 minutes for the baking dish.  Stir carefully every 10 minutes of baking.  Remove from oven and cool completely.  Store in an air tight container.