Monday, 31 March 2014

SRC: Flourless Chunky Monkey Chip Cookies

It's Secret Recipe Club Reveal Day again. I had a holiday in February so it's been almost 2 months since my last Secret Recipe Club post. I also made this very early in the month so it feels like I have been waiting forever to share this amazing recipe with you. A quick reminder if you are unfamiliar with this challenge - each blog is assigned another blog in secret and the idea is that you choose a recipe to make from your secret blog and reveal it on the same day. It's a great way to discover other blogs and it's undoubtedly one of my favourite blog challenges.

My secret blog this month is Natural Noshing written by Nora who is an active foodie with a passion for nutrition and eating natural, real food. She eats gluten free and mostly refined sugar free and her blog has a wide range of delicious, healthy recipes. She has a lot of dairy free, vegan, gluten free recipes on her blog which made it difficult to choose one for reveal day. I shortlisted quite a few as I find I am getting more requests for gluten free/dairy free/vegan/healthier recipes. This includes Gooey Chocolate Hazelnut Cakes with fresh raspberry coulis, Vegan Poppyseed Amaranth Cake, 5 minute cheesecake mousse and Quinoa Waffles

In the end I chose to make her Flourless Chunky Monkey Chip Cookies. I love peanut butter and chocolate and I love banana with peanut butter so combining all three made perfect sense to me as it did to Nora! As she says, these are so easy to put together and so delicious. It got rave reviews and everyone wanted the recipe for it. The bonus is that it is gluten free. If you are making this for someone who is allergic to nuts, you can use roasted sunflower seeds which I'd not thought of before so thank you for that handy tip Nora. 

 mixing in banana chips,peanuts and chocolate chunks 

 ready to go in the oven 


Recipe from Natural Noshing

250g smooth peanut butter 
175g brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
60g honey roasted peanuts, chopped
60g chocolate chunks
40g banana chips + extra for decoration (optional) 

  • Preheat oven to 180C. Line 2 baking trays with parchment paper.
  • In a medium sized bowl, mix together the peanut butter, sugar, egg, bicarbonate of soda, ground cinnamon and vanilla extract until a dough forms.
  • Stir in the peanuts, chocolate chunks and banana chips.
  • Use a small ice cream scoop to scoop out cookie dough spaced apart on the baking tray.
  • Place a banana chip on top of each cookie before baking if desired.
  • Bake for about 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. 
  • Allow to cool completely on a wire rack. 

Friday, 28 March 2014

AlphaBakes "U" Round up

Welcome to the final roundup in this round of AlphaBakes. We have been through the whole alphabet and we have been extremely impressed with the creativity and calibre of entries throughout the past 26 months. We have something exciting planned for April when we launch the new round of AlphaBakes so make sure you check out Caroline's blog on 1st April. The winner of this month's prize has been selected at random and will be announced at the end of the post.

I kicked things off this month with my Peaches and Cream Upside Down Cake. It's a BBC Good Food recipe which is a simple sponge recipe topped with peaches and filled with a clotted cream filling. It is absolutely divine and perfect with a cup of tea.

Corina from Searching for Spice made Individual Blueberry Chocolate Upside Down Cakes. They are so good she has made them repeatedly and I am sure it won't be the last timeeither! They look absolutely amazing especially with all that gorgeous blueberries on top. 

Next we have  Upside Down Toffee Apple Squares by Suelle from Mainly Baking. It contains apples, hazelnuts and mixed spice and looks really light and moist. Interestingly it appeared in her recipe book as a brownie which doesn't seem right as it does not contain chocolate!

Dom from Belleau Kitchen delights us with a twist on a classic upside down cake with this Pineapple and Coconut Chocolate Upside Down Cake. The pineapple and coconut seem quite tropical and the addition of chocolate is always a bonus in my eyes.

My co-host Caroline from Caroline Makes is next with Vegan Mini Pineapple Upside Down Cakes. She made these for a vegan friend who was moving house which I'm sure must have been a delightful relief from the stress of moving house. 

On to something a little different with Grasshopper Marshmallows from Stuart from Cakeyboi. He made these for St Patrick's Day and it contains Unsweetened cocoa for U. They look really soft and silky and I love the chocolate and mint combination.

Alexandra from the Lass in the Apron made Ukrainian Pagach which is traditionally eaten during Lent. Her version contains potatoes, cabbage and cheese which sounds delicious!

Laura from I'd Much Rather Bake Than... made this Ultra Sized Chocolate Chip Cookie. I love miniature bakes but sometimes you just need an ultra sized version like this cookie. Looks delicious and I wonder if it will count as just one cookie even if I eat the whole thing! :) 

Kate from the Gluten Free Alchemist came up with these Apple & Cinnamon Upside Down Downuts. It's her take on an upside down cake and a doughnut and it's gluten free!! She used apples and pumpkin and spice which sounds delicious and reminiscent of autumn.

We are back to upside down cakes with this Blueberry Orange Upside Down cake from Helen from Family-Friends-Food. This recipe enabled her to use her stockpile of frozen blueberries but fresh would work too. She made mini versions which are great for portion control.

Next we have Jean from Baking in Franglais with a pear and ginger upside down cake. She is packing to move house and yet managed to bake this impressive looking cake using ingredients that needed using up.

Elizabeth from Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary made these gorgeous Mother's Day Flower Cookies. The U is in unsalted butter and unrefined light muscovado sugar. It's a fun project to make with the kids and I'm sure mums everywhere would love to receive this on Mother's Day.

My co host Caroline is back with an Umbongo Cake. Umbungo is a fruit juice drink which contains apple, lemon, orange, pineapple, passion fruit and mandarin. She created her own recipe incorporating these flavours and added some Umbongo juice into the icing.

Our only savoury entry comes from Elizabeth from The Law Student's Cookbook in the form of roasted butternut squash and udon noodles. She says it was absolutely delicious and I have no doubt about it looking at the picture. 

Choclette from Chocolate Log Blog made Upside Down White Chocolate Banoffee Shortcake. She had quite a lot of clever ideas for U but procrastinated and ended up with this last minute bake which looks fabulous. It's a shortcake rather than an upside down cake and I particularly love the flavour combination that she has used.

Finally we have something a little different from Stuart from Cakeyboi. He made a Black Forest Smoothie which contains chocolate and cherries.  The U is from unsweetened cocoa powder which is actually high in antioxidants and only contains 12 calories in 1 tablespoon! He served it with some frothy milk and a cute straw which makes it look all the more tempting :) 

And that's the end of the 'U' round up. Thank you to everyone who took the time to participate. As mentioned, there is 1 lucky winner chosen at random who will receive samples of 2 types of cherries and a kitchen scale sponsored by French Glace Cherries. Congratulations to....... 

Suelle from Mainly Baking - please check your email for details. 

Remember to check out Caroline's blog on 1st April to find out what is happening to AlphaBakes and the new challenge for April. 

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Ferrero Rocher Cupcakes with Nutella Frosting

This was a special request from a colleague at work. She saw a recipe online and wanted to know if I could make a Ferrero Rocher cupcake for her. I used a different recipe in the end and am really pleased with the final result. She said the cupcake was absolutely heavenly and tasted just like a ferrero rocher in cake form. It has a dark chocolate sponge with a hidden ferrero rocher inside. It is then topped with a nutella buttercream, chopped, roasted hazelnuts and a drizzle of Nutella on top. I also added an additional Ferrero Rocher to the top of some of the cupcakes. I saw this recipe on you tube and the video is well worth watching. The cakes are slightly on the bland side as I reduced the sugar amount from 300g to 200g but it tastes fine especially when eaten with the frosting and chocolate. If you prefer a sweeter cake then do add more sugar to the mix. 

 Half fill the cupcake case with batter then place a ferrero rocher in the middle 

 cover with more cake batter 

 fresh from the oven 

 use a round tip to pipe one circle on top of the cupcake as shown 


 roll in chopped, roasted hazelnuts 

 add a further blob of icing on top 

 drizzle with nutella 

 add another Ferrero Rocher on top 

 cross section 

Recipe adapted from cookies cupcakes and cardio

For the cupcakes
Makes 18

185g plain flour
200g caster sugar (I'd suggest 250-300g for a sweeter bake)
185mls buttermilk  
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1.5 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
185mls warm water
95g cocoa powder

For the Nutella Buttercream 
245g Nutella
225g butter
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
250g icing sugar, sifted
4 -6 teaspoons whipping cream 

For the decoration and filling
36 Ferrero Rocher chocolate (or 18 if you only want to put one in the middle)
50g roasted, chopped hazelnuts
Nutella for drizzling

  • Preheat the oven to 180C.
  • Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. 
  • Add in eggs, oil, vanilla extract, buttermilk and warm water.
  • Mix thoroughly.
  • Place a spoonful of batter into each cupcake case.
  • Place a Ferrero Rocher in the centre and cover completely with cake batter.
  • Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  • Allow to cool completely before decorating.
  • To make the nutella buttercream, beat the butter and icing sugar together for a few minutes in an electric mixer.
  • Add in the nutella and vanilla extract and continue beating until smooth.
  • Finally add in the whipping cream a teaspoon at a time until you reach the desired consistency.
  • Decorate the cupcakes as shown above. 

Monday, 24 March 2014

Peach and blueberry maple walnut pie and a Labor Day giveaway

Recently I was asked to make a twist on a peach pie in conjunction with the film release 'Labor Day' which stars Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin. It was released in UK cinemas on Friday 21st March 2014. The film is based on a novel of the same name by Joyce Maynard.  One of the pivotal scenes in the movie involves a peach pie. The recipe is actually from the author's mother and Joyce shared her baking expertise with Winslet and Brolin for the film. 

I decided to make a peach and blueberry pie with maple syrup and a walnut crust. I've never made this pie before but I thought the flavours would work well together. It was certainly an experiment but I'm pleased to say that it turned out well. 

I have a baking set and tickets to watch Labor Day to giveaway to one lucky reader. The prize is sponsored by Paramount Pictures UK and consists of 1 Le Creuset Pie Dish, 1 Labor Day Book and a cinema voucher for  £20. Entry to the competition is via rafflecopter. A winner will be selected at random. The closing date is 1st April  2014 and is open to UK residents only. All entries will be checked and verified. The winner will be contacted by email and the prize will be delivered directly by Abundant Publicists.

 Le Creuset Pie Dish 

 making the pastry 

 making the filling 

pastry base 

 add filling 

 cover with pastry 

 rustic looking pie! 

For the walnut pastry
50g walnuts
160g plain flour
1 tablespoon caster sugar
Pinch of salt
120g butter, cut into cubes
60ml cold water

For the filling
4 peaches
125g fresh blueberries
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons cornflour
4 tablespoons maple syrup
  • Preheat the oven to 180C.
  • Lightly toast the walnuts and allow to cool slightly.
  • Finely chop the nuts. 
  • In a large bowl, mix the flour, chopped nuts, sugar, salt and butter. 
  • Mix together with your fingers until they resemble breadcrumbs.
  • Add the water and mix again to form a dough.
  • Cover with clingfilm and chill for at least 30 minutes before using. 
  • Make the filling by rinsing the peaches and removing the stone. Cut into small slices and place in a medium sized bowl.
  • Add the lemon juice and stir.
  • Add in the blueberries, ground cinnamon, maple syrup and cornflour and mix well. 
  • Leave to one side, stirring occasionally.
  • Once the pastry has been chilled, divide into 2 equal parts.
  • Roll out to a circle large enough to line your pie dish.
  • Use a slotted spoon to place the filling into the pie. 
  • Roll out the second half of the pastry and use to cover the top of the pie. Press the edges together to seal.
  • Cut a few slits into the pie to allow it to breathe and brush the pastry with egg wash. 
  • Bake for approximately 35-45 minutes. You will need to cover with foil after about 30 minutes to prevent over browning of the pastry.

Disclaimer: I was sent a LeCreuset Pie Dish and compensated for the ingredients required for making this peach pie. The film shot is courtesy of Paramount pictures. All other images and written expressions are my own. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Maple Pecan Bundt Cake

Recently I asked J what cake he would like. He wanted something with maple syrup and pecan and I remember bookmarking a Nigella recipe ages ago but have never gotten round to it. It was also a good opportunity to use my lovely bundt tin that I received for Christmas. I love baking bundt cakes as they look impressive with very little effort. 

The cake was moist and the pecan and maple syrup filling was absolutely delicious. It was even better served with ice cream. I did find that there wasn't quite enough cake batter so my cake looked a little flat compared to the picture online. J's comment was that it was very moist and had a distinctive nutty crunch. 

I'm sending this to Bookmarked Recipes hosted by Jacqueline from Tinned Tomatoes.

 Half fill with batter 

 add pecan and maple syrup filling

 cover with the remaining batter 


Recipe available online

For the filling

75g plain flour
30g soft unsalted butter
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
150g pecans, roughly chopped
125ml maple syrup

For the cake
300g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
125g soft unsalted butter
150g caster sugar
2 eggs
250ml sour cream
  • Preheat the oven to 180C. 
  • Make the filling by mixing the flour and butter with a fork until it resembles breadcrumbs. 
  • Add in the cinnamon, pecans and maple syrup. 
  • Next make the cake by creaming the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.
  • Add in the eggs, one at a time and then the flour and sour cream. 
  • Half fill the bundt tin.
  • Place the pecan filling on top of the cake batter but be careful not to go over the edge with it.
  • Cover with the remaining cake batter.
  • Bake for about 35-40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  • Allow to cool completely and sprinkle with a generous dusting of icing sugar before serving.