Friday, 30 December 2011

Banana, peanut butter and chocolate cookies

This is my last post for 2011 and I think it's fitting that it contains most of my favourite ingredients - banana, peanut butter and chocolate!  I don't think I have to tell you how much I love baking with bananas judging by the number of banana posts on my blog. This is the second time I've tried it in a cookie and it worked beautifully. I saw this recipe on one of my favourite blogs Cupcake Crazy Gem and bookmarked it immediately.  I went out to buy a banana to ripen for this cookie and the 1 week wait was well worth it.  You get a soft, chewy cookie with the crunch from the peanut butter, the chocolatey goodness when you bite into a piece of chocolate all wrapped up in the aroma and taste of bananas.  Great excuse to eat cookies for breakfast :)

2011 has been a great year for my blog. I've made many new blogging friends and joined in many fun blogging events. I've tried lots of new recipes including making up a few of my own. I really look forward to 2012 with even more baking and blogging. I don't normally make resolutions but I'll make some 'baking/blogging' ones. Do you make resolutions and if so would you like to share them with me?

So for 2012, I want to....
1. Bake something I've never made before - macarons, bread, pie/pastry.
2. Attend a cake decorating course and learn how to make pretty things from fondant icing.
3. Reply to everyone's comments on my blog.
4. Have a new motto from a birthday present I got earlier this year....

And finally.... drum roll please..... I am very excited to announce that I will be co-hosting a new baking challenge with my friend Caroline from Caroline Makes in 2012.  Stay tuned for more details  (probably 2nd week of Jan) and I really hope that as many of you as possible will join in and bake with us.

Thank you for all your support this year. Wishing all of you a very happy, healthy and successful new year. 


 Mixing all the ingredients together

 I ran out of chocolate (gasp!) so used a mixture of milk and dark chocolate


100g light brown sugar
100g caster sugar
185g crunchy peanut butter
113g butter
1 over-ripe banana
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg 
220g plain flour
3/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
100g roughly chopped milk chocolate chunks 

  • Preheat the oven to 180C.
  • Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Cream the butter and sugars until fluffy.
  • Add in the peanut butter and continue mixing. 
  • Add in the vanilla, egg, bicarbonate of soda, salt and banana and mix well.
  • Next add in the flour and mix until well combined. 
  • Finally stir in the chopped chocolate chunks.
  • Using a small ice cream scoop, scoop out balls of dough onto the lined baking sheet (Or use a tablespoon)
  • Bake for approximately 8-10 minutes until it is golden brown. 
  • Allow to cool for a few minutes on the tray before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. 

(You can also chill the cookie dough for at least 30 minutes before baking for a more formed cookie)

I'm entering these delicious cookies to Bookmarked Recipes hosted by Jacqueline from Tinned Tomatoes 

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Tribal Hot Chocolate with Bananas

I'm very pleased to announce my first guest post on my blog. Mariam from Hot Chocolate Gourmet is kindly sharing with us her favourite hot chocolate drink. It contains one of my favourite ingredients - bananas! Please check out her blog if you haven't already for everything to do with hot chocolate. Take it away, Mariam!

A hot chocolate that is so rich, creamy and thick you wouldn’t believe it’s actually good for your health!

My version of Kuna hot chocolate
Yet it’s true – this all natural banana hot chocolate recipe comes from the Kuna tribe of Panama – the southernmost country of Central America. This drink is based on only water, bananas and cocoa. As exotic as this may seem to Westerners, it is the only thing the Kuna people drink throughout their conscious life.

While drinking up to 5 cups of hot cocoa every day, there is something the Kuna people don’t do: namely worry about heart disease! According to a Natural Health Dossier report, the latest research shows that cocoa is the Kuna people’s secret weapon against cardiovascular problems. Also, click here to see how it can protect your brain!

How is this tribal hot cocoa drink prepared? The Kuna people boil bananas in a pot of water until they break in pieces. Then they add ground cocoa beans, continue cooking and finally strain.

Because I don’t lead a tribal lifestyle, I adapted this recipe for home use. Making hot chocolate for two, I took

- 1,5 cups of water
- 1 banana
- 4 heaped tsp of all natural, unsweetened cocoa powder (not dutched!)
- A dash of cinnamon

Finishing touch of cinnamon

Thank you Mariam. Here's my take on her recipe...
If you wish, you may use a blender instead of a fork. The latter tool leaves banana fibre intact, so the resulting drink is not as smooth. However, I prefer it this way, because it feels closer to roots.
But if you mash the banana with a fork, please don’t wear a white shirt – otherwise this drink truly has the power to transform you into a savage!!! (Just kidding… But do watch out!)
Now it’s time for you, my dear reader, to speak up: do you like this recipe? How do you modify it? What are the healthy ways you enjoy your cocoa?

Well I had to get out my "chocolate" mug for this one. If you can't quite see it, it says "Lady and the Chocolate" and it has a funny story on the other side. 
I have to admit I was a little nervous cooking bananas into the drink as I wasn't sure how it was going to turn out. I've never made hot chocolate with water before but now I'm making most of my hot chocolate with water! I added 4 small squares of chocolate as I wanted it to be extra chocolatey and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon sugar for extra sweetness.  The drink itself was rich and chocolatey. The banana adds flavour and texture and the cinnamon complemented the flavours well. You would not have thought this is a healthy drink! (without the extra chocolate and sugar of course)

Thank you Mariam for a great recipe, I'll definitely be making this again :)

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Love Baking Magazine

Christmas came early for me this year on 24th Dec 2011. I received my Jan 2012 issue of Love Baking magazine, a new baking magazine on the market. So here's the exciting news.... I was featured in their Bloggers Gallery! Thank you Love Baking Magazine :)

The other bloggers on the page are American Chop Suey, The Caked Crusader, I Heart Cupcakes, Cupcake Crazy Gem, American Cupcake in London, Apple and Spice and The Nom Bakery.

I submitted dark chocolate and peanut butter cupcakes. You can find the recipe here.

Hope everyone had a good Christmas. I'll be back with more baking soon :)

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Nigella's Spruced up Spice Cake

Well it's Christmas Eve and the day we've all been waiting for is almost here so what better way to celebrate this festive season than with a classic Nigella recipe. I've been making one of Nigella's recipes for the past few Christmases so I'm really pleased that this month's Forever Nigella has a Christmas theme as I'd always wanted to participate but never got round to it. Coincidentally, I was flipping through my beloved copy of Nigella Christmas when I saw the tweet announcement about this challenge.  This challenge is hosted by Sarah from Maison Cupcake and there is still time to enter as the deadline is 31st December 2011. 

I debated about what to make and finally settled on this spruced up spice cake as I really wanted to use my new snowflake moulds. I don't have the spectacular bundt tin that Nigella has but I think the snowflakes and stars work well. The recipe can be found on her website here.  I made the spiced version and modified the spices slightly by adding 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg and 1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger.  I halved the recipe which yielded 6 snowflakes and 3 stars of the size shown.  The cake is delightfully moist and the spices are present but not overpowering. I hope everyone will enjoy it on Christmas Day. 

I'd like to take this opportunity to wish everyone best wishes for the festive season. See you soon - I'll be back before New Year :)


 Mr Snowman and Santa would also like to wish you Merry Christmas! :) 

 Sprinkling of icing sugar

Thursday, 22 December 2011

5 minute cheesecake

Following the success of my 5 minute chocolate mug cake, I was super excited to try out the 5 minute cheesecake in a mug inspired by the same amazing blogger Lorraine from Not Quite Nigella. If you haven't been to her blog, do head on over there and be prepared to be amazed and inspired.

It's so quick and simple and tastes incredible! Yes it really does taste like a cheesecake and it's low fat as well. As with the chocolate mug cake, the flavour variations are endless - you can use different fruits or jam, chocolate or even coffee. Do let me know if you try a different flavour and tell me what is your favourite cheesecake?  I'm already envisioning a chocolate version topped with crushed Oreos or a Christmassy version with orange zest, dried cranberries/raisins and a dash of cinnamon (rum optional). 

I'm entering this to Frugal Food Fridays hosted by Helen from Fuss Free Flavours as this is a great time saving recipe plus it's fairly low cost to make and if you're anything like me, you'll already have the ingredients to hand. It's also healthy(ish), does not require any fancy equipment and there is minimum washing up required. It's a win win :) 

 a mini tub is perfect for 1 portion

 I added some lemon zest for extra 'zing' 

 I only had frozen mixed berries to hand so that's what I used 

 before cooking 

 after cooking - it should still be wobbly in the middle, it will set after cooling. 


Recipe adapted from Not Quite Nigella

To make 1 portion

20g/2.5 tablespoons icing sugar
35g/2.5 tablespoons low fat cream cheese (one mini tub as shown)
2 tablespoons low fat yoghurt (or sour cream)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
zest of 1/4 - 1/2 lemon (depending on how lemony you want it to be)
1/2 egg, beaten
Handful of frozen mixed berries
1 Hobnob cookie crushed in a ziplock bag (or digestive)

  • In a large bowl, whisk the icing sugar, cream cheese, yoghurt and egg until very smooth.  This is important otherwise your cheesecake will be lumpy. 
  • Add in the lemon juice, lemon zest and berries. 
  • Spoon into a ramekin or mug and microwave on medium for 1 minute. All microwaves vary and I have a really old one that only has a cook or defrost function  (Mine took 2+ minutes to cook). I would advise cooking in 30 second bursts to ensure it's not over or undercooked. 
  • The cheesecake should still have a wobble in the middle but be cooked around the edges. It will continue to cook once its out of the microwave and it will set once it's been cooled in the fridge. 
  • Chill in the fridge for a few hours (this is the hardest part - waiting to eat it!)
  • Crush the cookie in a sealed ziplock bag and sprinkle on top of the cheesecake and enjoy! 

Monday, 19 December 2011

Banana, cinnamon and honey pancakes

It has been hard to focus and concentrate on what I need to do this week- writing my dissertation. I am so easily distracted and all I want to do is bake particularly Christmas baking.  So I decided to treat myself to some pancakes as an extra incentive.  I looked around my kitchen to see what I could use and came up with this creation. I had quite a few ripe bananas that needed to be used and leftover cinnamon sugar from making cinnamon sugar palmiers. I didnt have any nice bananas that I could slice to put on top so I sprinkled a few dried cranberries (again leftover from baking chocolate, orange and cranberry cookies). I also thought it made the pancakes look slightly festive and therefore added a sprinkling of icing sugar which you can't really see in the photo. This would make a great Christmas or Boxing day breakfast.

By my calculations this only cost less than £1 to make. It's simple, tasty, healthy-ish and satisfying! So I'm sending it on to Frugal Food Fridays hosted by Helen from Fuss Free Flavours. Do click on her blog for more details about this exciting challenge and feel free to join in! 

Makes 5 pancakes of the size shown

125g self raising flour
1.5 tablespoon cinnamon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
180mls milk
20g butter, melted
2 ripe bananas, mashed

To decorate (optional)
Sprinkling of icing sugar
drizzle of honey
small handful of dried cranberries

  • Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl. 
  • In a separate bowl, whisk the egg with the milk and melted butter. 
  • Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients.
  • Mix well and finally add in the mashed bananas. 
  • Put a small amount of butter in a non stick frying pan. 
  • Pour the batter into the pan until it forms a small circle. 
  • Once the edges are cooked, flip the pancake over - it should be lightly browned.
  • Continue cooking until golden brown. 
  • Serve immediately with optional toppings suggested - drizzle of honey, sprinkling of icing sugar and a few dried cranberries. Alternatively, slice half a banana for added nutritional value. 

Secret Santa

Just a quick post so I can say a big THANK YOU to my secret santa! I got these today and I absolutely LOVE it. They are cranberry and white chocolate cookies which are very festive, delicious and beautifully presented. Thank you also to Amy from weeklybakeoff for organising the secret santa. I hope you get something nice from Santa in return :)

 how cute is this tin? 


Sunday, 18 December 2011

Hot Chocolate on a stick

Winter means many things and hot chocolate is one of them. I love drinking hot chocolate but always feel that they are not chocolatey enough. However, when I was in Bruges earlier this year, I had proper hot chocolate - melted chocolate in milk and it was delicious! I bought loads of these hot chocolate on a stick from my visit to Bruges.  I don't know why but I never thought about making my own until I saw this on Holly Bell's blog Recipes from a Normal mum which I bookmarked immediately.  It's such a simple idea and makes a great Christmas gift.  There's definitely no going back. The best thing is you can add whatever flavour variations you want - mint, coffee, cinnamon, orange.... 
I made these with plain dark or milk chocolate and topped with either crushed candy canes or mini marshmallows. They were for work colleagues and friends so I kept the flavours simple. I'm sure I'll be making some 'custom made' ones for myself!
These are not strictly baked but Becky said it's ok so I'm entering them to the English Mum's Big Christmas Bakeoff

I'm also entering them to Bookmarked Recipes hosted by Jacqueline from Tinned Tomatoes

And to Let's Cook for Christmas Red and Green hosted by simply food

And also to the holiday goodies link up at Diary of a Semi-Health Nut hosted by Amanda 

* UPDATE: My post has been featured over at Gourmet Hot Chocolate - if you are a fan of hot chocolate, do head on over there for delicious recipes and reviews of hot chocolate products *

 This is all you need - mini muffin cases, lollipop sticks, chocolate, candy canes and mini marshmallows. 

Perfect chance to use my new chocolate melting pot . Tip: if you are making a lot as I ended up doing, its easier to melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water and pour into the moulds. 200g of chocolate made approximately 10 sticks using my mini muffin moulds. In hindsight, these are very small portions but you can always stir 2 sticks into the mug! They do look so cute though :) 


 Pour the melted chocolate into the cases and leave to set. The best thing about the current weather is it only takes a few minutes by the window to set. When it's almost set, place a lollipop stick in the centre and top with crushed candy canes (or mini marhsmallows)  Allow to set completely before removing from the case. 

 I love the look of them! 

 Here's a close up 

 I packed them in cellophane bags, tied a festive ribbon around and added a tag which says " Stir into a mug of warm milk until completely dissolved. Cream optional. Enjoy!"

 Mass production for my friend's Christmas party :) 

For more detailed instructions and other presentation ideas, check out Recipes from a Normal Mum by Holly Bell, Great British Bake Off finalist. 

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Cranberry, flame raisin and macadamia oat cookie

Christmas baking is slightly limited this year due to other commitments but I really just can't help myself. I went food shopping the other day and came across this lovely bag of goodies ....

... I don't know about you but the first thought that crossed my mind was cookies!  So after the success of my chocolate, orange and cranberry cookies, I decided to create another cookie recipe.  I felt an oat cookie would work best and as it's Christmas, I added in some cinnamon. The result - an oaty, cinnamonny and crunchy cookie with juicy cranberries and raisins.  The flavours work really well together here.  You can also add in chopped white chocolate or milk chocolate if you like to make it even more indulgent. 

I'm entering this to Tea Time Treats which is hosted by Kate from What Kate Baked who is our lovely hostess for this month and Karen from Lavender and Lovage

and also to the English Mum's Big Christmas Bakeoff 

 love the bright colours 

 ready to go in the oven 


An original recipe by bakingaddict
Makes approximately 50 cookies 

220g butter
150g soft light brown sugar
75g caster sugar
2 eggs
150g self raising flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon powder
270g rolled oats
1 pack of cranberry, flame raisins and macadamia mix (300g) 

  • Preheat the oven to 180C.
  • Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. 
  • Cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. 
  • Add in the eggs and mix well. 
  • In a separate bowl, mix the flour, salt, cinnamon and oats together. 
  • Add to the butter mixture and mix well.
  • Finally stir in the cranberry, flame raisins and macadamia mix by hand. 
  • Use a small ice cream scoop to scoop out small rounded spoonfuls of dough spaced apart. 
  • Bake in the preheated oven for approximately 12-15 minutes until golden brown.
  • Allow to cool on the sheets for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Store in an airtight container. 

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Cinnamon sugar palmiers

I've mentioned before that I love palmiers but the last time I tried to make it at home, it wasn't perfect. So after a little research I decided to give it another go. My main inspiration comes from one of my favourite blogs Joy the Baker. I then saw a cinnamon version on 365 days of baking based on Joy's recipe. The pictures on both blogs looked amazing and I had high hopes for my second attempt. I'm very pleased to report that I was not disappointed in the least. The result was exactly what I was looking for. Crisp, buttery, sugary and cinnamonny (is that even a word?!) Perfect for Christmas so I am entering this to the English Mum's Big Christmas Bakeoff 

This is really easy to make and all you need are 3 ingredients - puff pastry, sugar and cinnamon. To make the cinnamon sugar, mix 1 cup of sugar with 2 teaspoons of cinnamon. 

 spread lots of cinnamon sugar on a worksurface

 Place puff pastry on top and sprinkle more cinnamon sugar on top. Roll out the edges of the puff pastry with a rolling pin 

 fold one end to the middle and repeat on the other end so you end up with.... 

...something like this

 scroll like 

 place in the fridge for about 30 minutes then slice and place on baking tray. Bake for about 20 minutes and...