Sunday, 30 December 2012

AlphaBakes "S" Roundup

Welcome to the last AlphaBakes round up of 2012. I can't believe how quickly time has flown - it really does fly when you are having fun! Thank you to everyone who has participated throughout the year and also for the month of December which is a particularly busy month for most with Christmas and year end celebrations.  As expected there were a lot of lovely seasonal delights but also some unexpected surprises! One lucky entrant has won a copy of Booze Cakes which will be sent directly from the publisher - thank you Publishers Group UK (PGUK) for sponsoring this prize.  Scroll to the bottom to see who the lucky person is! 

First off the mark is Caroline's mum Jacqueline with 2 fabulous entries - scones and strawberry sponge. They look really tasty!

Next is Elizabeth from Elizabeth's Kitchen with a Sunburst Plum Cake. She went shopping at a rural charity shop and got a cookbook for only 20p where the recipe is taken.  It tastes similar to a pineapple upside down cake and the plums added a subtle sweetness. I think it looks really pretty too.

Next is my co-host Caroline with a Sacher torte which is a chocolate cake invented by Franz Sacher in 1832 in Vienna.  It coincided with National Sachertorte Day which is celebrated on December 5th. It was a lovely, dense and chocolatey cake and I think the writing looks perfect! 

Here's a cake I've not heard of before sent in by Grace from Life can be Simple.  She made a Shoo Fly Whoopie Pie.  It's a molasses pie that originated from the Pennsylvania Dutch who were immigrants from southwestern Germany and Switzerland and settled in Pennsylvania in the 17th and 18th centuries.  She adapted the recipe and made it into a whoopie pie with an ice cream filling - yum! 

Joey from Little Accidents in the Kitchen delights us with White Chocolate and Hazelnut Spice Cookies.   She had an epiphany walking home about cookie ingredients and cookie photography. I think you'll agree that the photograph below is indeed a work of art and the cookies sound absolutely delicious! 

Jen from Blue Kitchen Bakes sent in some coconut snowballs which are perfectly seasonal. Apparently it's very popular in Scotland. Jen added some cinnamon to the recipe which is perfect for Christmas!

Vivian from Vivian Pang Kitchen sent in 2 entries this month. Firstly, a coconut rolled oat scone with chocolate topping.  She made these as a snack to bring on holiday with them and also to use up ingredients in her fridge. I love the chocolate drizzle on top! 

Secondly a really cute Santa Bread which is perfect for Christmas. It seems a shame to cut into Santa but I'm sure he tasted delicious! 

The first of many stollen appearances comes from Claire from Under the Blue Gum Tree with these cherry and chocolate stollen spirals. In her words, they are "Soft, springy buns crammed full of rum-soaked cherries, chunks of rich, dark chocolate, crunchy almonds and squidgy marzipan all topped off with a drizzle of rum icing".  

More stollen in the form of a Stollen Ring by Eira from Cookbooks Galore.  I love this stollen with a twist - perfect for sharing! It's a traditional family recipe from her German dil. 

Moving away from stollen for a minute, we have Cinnamon & Honey Christmas Stars by Choclette from Chocolate Log Blog. The ingredient list sounds delicious with rye flour, honey, cocoa, cinnamon and cayenne pepper. I love the festive star shapes too!

Back to stollen with Cherry Stollen Bars from Suelle of Mainly Baking. It's a modified recipe by Dan Lepard which turned out perfectly last year.  This year, she added more fruits and reduced the nuts. It looks really pretty and festive. 

More stars but of a different kind as these are Christmas Canestrelli stars made by Alida from My Little Italian Kitchen.  Canestrelli are Italian biscuits that are buttery and vanilla flavoured.  They look so pretty and would make good gifts! 

Creditmunched sent in these super cute Santa Hat Chocolate Brownies.  She was short on time so she used a packet brownie mix but patiently piped the white chocolate for the hats. They look really festive and delicious.

My co-host Caroline has been on a roll this month. She is back here with chocolate sticky toffee pudding.  The recipe is from Green & Black's Ultimate Chocolate Recipes book which she got for Christmas last year. Perfect for the cold, winter months!

Kavey from Kavey Eats sent in this delicious looking Quick & Easy Speculoos & Mascarpone Pancake Cake. Speculoos are spiced shortcrust biscuits and are now available as a spread. Apparently it tastes like caramel toffee with Christmas spices.  This amazing looking cake is made by stacking layers of ready made pancakes sandwiched with speculoos spread and mascarpone cheese.

Michelle from Utterly Scrumptious made Christmas Mincemeat Bakewell Style which is a great recipe for using up Christmas mincemeat and shortcrust pastry.  She used jam and vanilla bean paste instead of almond extract. 

Stollen makes another appearance in the form of a Christmas Stollen Bundt by my co-host Caroline from Caroline Makes. This is her first bundt cake using a bundt tin she bought from Germany. She used pear cider instead of rum but has not had a chance to taste it as she's giving it to her grandparents.  Apparently it's best eaten after 2 weeks but I'm not sure it will last that long! 

Caroline also sent in these cute Christmas Stocking and Snowman Cakes.  She bought this mould at Cake International in November and decorated them with red, green and white fondant and edible decorations.  They look really cute and festive. 

Our first savoury entry comes across the pond in the form of Spaghetti Squash Casserole by Elizabeth from Law Student's Cookbook. I do like a good casserole especially in the winter months and this looks and sounds delicious.

Back to my co-host Caroline with Christmas Cinnamon Shortbread made using a low sugar recipe suitable for diabetics as the intended recipient is not meant to be eating sugar at the moment.  She used festive cutters and presented them in festive tins as well. 

My entry this month is Snowflake Cupcakes. The cupcakes themselves are pecan, orange and cranberry which are very Christmassy.  The decorations were made using a stencil I bought from Cake International and edible glitter. They looked really good and the cakes were tasty too! 

Laura from Laura Loves Cakes made some Stollen Topped Mince Pies.  The stollen mixture has madeira cake, ground almonds, sugar, butter, egg yolk, candied peel and marzipan.  She also made clementine and apple mince pies which you can see on her blog. As Laura aptly puts it, what is Christmas without a mince pie or two? :) 

Fiona from Let them eat cake delights us with two entries this month - one savoury and one sweet! Firstly, homemade Sausage Rolls with apple and sage. She served them with Mary Berry's Christmas Chutney and I'm not surprised that they were eaten very quickly!

Secondly Buttermilk Scones served with homemade rhubarb and ginger jam. The scones were very quick and easy to make and they look delicious with jam and cream on top! 

Happy belated birthday to Ruchira from Cookaroo who made this sour cream & blueberry pancake stack on Christmas day as a special treat. Her husband is not really a pancake lover but managed to eat three of these so I can only imagine how good they are! 

Vivian from Vivian Pang Kitchen delights us again with these really cute Chocolate Snowflake Cake Pops. She was not too happy with her chocolate cupcakes so made them into cake pops instead.  She gave some away as gifts which I'm sure were very well received.

Kit from I-Lost in Austen made Sweet Potato Mini Pies with Pecan Topping. It's a Martha Stewart recipe which contains heavy cream & maple syrup instead of evaporated milk.  The spices make them really festive and would be perfect for Christmas parties! 

Last but not least is a Showstopper cake by Supergolden Bakes. It's a layered caked with vanilla sponge, red velvet cake, jam and creme patissiere filling covered in chantilly cream. I desperately want a slice of this cake! You can see what it looks like once cut on her blog. 

And that's the end of the AlphaBakes December round up. Thanks again to everyone who made the effort. I am always impressed by the creativity and range of recipes for each AlphaBakes. Time to announce the lucky winner picked at random using a random number generator..... Congratulations to Jen from Blue Kitchen Bakes

Remember to check out Caroline's blog on 1st Jan 2013 to find out what the letter is for Jan. See you all again in Feb when I will be back to work and hosting AlphaBakes again.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Hershey's Candy Cane Kiss Cookies

Did everyone have a good Christmas? This is better late than never - the last of my festive baking this year. I saw a bag of Hershey's Candy Cane Kisses on my travels and decided I had to make thumbprint cookies with them in red and green colours of course! The cookie recipe is adapted from the Hershey's website - the major change I made was to add half a bag (approximately 30 kisses) of chopped kisses into the batter.  The cookies were buttery, crumbly and minty. The sugar coating gave it a lovely sweet crunch and the kisses on top were cute and delicious! 

I'm sending this to Calendar Cakes hosted by Rachel from Dolly Bakes and Laura from Laura Loves Cakes.  The theme this month is 'Go Crackers for Christmas'. 

 candy cane kisses

 adding chopped kisses to the batter 

 I could only find a bottle of green sugar so I made my own red sugar by adding a little red colouring to a bag of granulated sugar and giving it a good shake! It worked really well so I'm making all my own coloured sugar in the future as they are quite expensive to buy. 

Recipe adapted from Hersheys website
Makes approximately 48 cookies

110g icing sugar
250g butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
330g flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
approximately 30 candy cane kisses roughly chopped
30-48 candy cane kisses to decorate
Red and green granulated sugar

  • Preheat the oven to 175C
  • Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Add in the egg and vanilla extract.
  • Stir in the flour, baking powder and salt. 
  • Stir in the chopped kisses.
  • Shape dough into balls and roll in granulated sugar. 
  • Place on a baking tray spaced apart and bake for approximately 10-12 minutes until the cookie is set. 
  • Allow to cool for 1-2 minutes then press a candy cane kiss in the centre. 
  • Allow to cool completely on a wire rack. 

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Snowflake Cupcakes

More cupcakes for Christmas. These are pecan, orange and cranberry cupcakes which smell and taste of Christmas. I bought some stencils from Cake International earlier this year and brought this snowflake stencil and blue glitter dust with me on my travels as I knew I wanted to use it this Christmas. The stencils were really easy to use and everyone was impressed with the final result.  The cakes themselves were moist and delicious. They will also go very well with a cream cheese frosting. 

I'm sending these to AlphaBakes as the letter this month is S for Snowflake Cupcakes (and seasonal cupcakes). It's hosted alternately by myself and Caroline from Caroline Makes. There's a lovely prize up for grabs this month (Booze Cakes) and there's still time to enter so send in all your lovely seasonal bakes! 

I'm also sending these to Calendar Cakes hosted by Rachel from Dolly Bakes and Laura from Laura Loves Cakes. The theme is 'Go Crackers for Christmas' 

Merry Christmas Everyone!! 

 fresh from the oven 

 I rolled out a piece of white fondant icing then placed the stencil on top and pressed lightly to get the imprint. I dusted with blue glitter dust and repeated the pattern until most of the fondant was covered. 

 I used a round cookie cutter the size of a cupcake to cut out circles and placed them on top of the cupcakes after brushing some warmed apricot jam on top of the cupcakes. 

 Here they are with the reindeer cupcakes

For the cupcake
Makes 12 cupcakes
2 large eggs
200g caster sugar
100g corn oil
135ml yoghurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Grated zest of 1 orange 
1 teaspoon fresh orange juice
228g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
75g dried cranberries
75g pecans, roughly chopped
  • Preheat the oven to 180C.
  • In a large mixing bowl beat the eggs and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  • Slowly pour in the oil, a little at a time, beating well after each addition, then repeat the process with the yoghurt and vanilla extract, making sure everything is well combined, and incorporate the orange zest and orange juice at the end.
  • Sift the dry ingredients together in a bowl and then add to the batter and beat well. 
  • Finally, fold in the cranberries and nuts gently. 
  • Carefully spoon the mixture into the cupcake cases, filling them to about 2/3 full. 
  • Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until slightly raised and golden brown. 
  • Allow to cool in their tins for 10 minutes before turning out on to a wire rack to cool completely. 
  • Decorate as described above or with cream cheese frosting. 

Monday, 24 December 2012

Reindeer Cupcakes

Seasons greetings to all my readers.  I am still alive and well and finally got to do a spot of baking just for Christmas. I've missed baking and blogging so it's good to be back for a while but normal services will not resume for a few months yet. 
This is a peanut butter cupcake with a chocolate ganache frosting decorated to look like a reindeer! They were almost too cute to eat but we managed it anyway :) 

Merry Christmas Everyone! 

I'm sending this to Tea Time Treats hosted by Kate from What Kate Baked (host for December) and Karen from Lavender and Lovage. The theme this month is chocolate - yay!

I'm also sending this to Calendar Cakes hosted by Rachel from Dolly Bakes (host for December) and Laura from Laura Loves Cakes. The theme is 'Go Crackers for Christmas' so these are perfect for the occasion.

 Peanut butter cupcake 

 Spread chocolate ganache on top 

 Add a giant chocolate button in the middle with a red peanut butter m&m for his nose

 Pipe 2 eyes with writing icing or you can use white chocolate buttons

 Cut a mini pretzel in half. Use them to make his antlers and jaw as shown 

 So cute! 

For the cupcakes
Makes 12 cupcakes

75g butter
130g smooth peanut butter
190g dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
120g plain flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
60ml semi-skimmed milk

For the chocolate ganache
200g chocolate
100mls double cream
50g icing sugar

For the decorations
12 Giant Cadbury Buttons
12 red peanut butter m&m's (or smarties or regular m&m's)
12 mini pretzels 
writing icing - black and white

  • Preheat the oven to 160C.
  • Line a 12-hole muffin tray with cupcake cases. 
  • Cream the butter, peanut butter and sugar until well blended. 
  • Add the eggs, one at a time and then stir in the vanilla extract. 
  • Combine the flour, salt and baking powder in a separate bowl.
  • Add 1/3 of the flour to the creamed mixture and beat well.
  • Pour 1/3 of the milk and beat again.
  • Repeat until all the flour and milk have been added. 
  • Spoon the mixture into the cupcake cases - I used a large ice cream scoop. 
  • Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. 
  • Allow to cool completely before decorating. 
  • Make the chocolate ganache by melting the chocolate in a heat proof bowl over a pan of simmering water. 
  • Once the chocolate has melted, remove from the heat and stir in the double cream.
  • Finally sift in the icing sugar. 
  • Spread a thick layer of chocolate ganache on top of each cupcake and decorate as shown.