Sunday, May 29, 2011

White Chocolate Chunk Cookies and the End of an Era

College is over! After three long and exciting years I'm finally finished my Undergraduate degree...*sniff* I'll never forget the time I've spent at NUI Maynooth, they really were the best years of my life (so far) :D. So, I confess, I've been SUPER lazy the past few days about posting and our oven in the apartment is STILL crap so I haven't been able to bake ANYTHING down here... *sad face* But, last Wednesday was my little brothers 17th birthday so I high-tailed it home on Friday morning...very much in the morning (we were up at 6:30) and rushed home to bake him his favourite cookies! I would also like to thank Amy Kelly for the lovely photo at That Winsome Girl and apologise because blogger deleted my link the last time :( I'm very sorry Amy :(

White Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Makes around 12 biggish cookies

  • 245g plain flour
  • 100g butter (melted and cooled)
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 180g packed light brown sugar
  • 50g white sugar
  • 2 eggs (beaten)
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 400g white chocolate chunks
Preheat oven to 160 C
Combine all dry ingredients in a medium bowl
Add the melted butter to the sugars and beat until creamy
Add vanilla essence to the eggs and mix
Add eggs and vanilla mixture into the wet ingredients bowl, beating well.
Add dry ingredients to the wet and combine to form a sticky dough
Throw in chocolate chunks and mix
Roll Tbsp sized blobs of the dough into balls about the size of a ping pong ball
Place them 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with greaseproof paper and press to flatten them by about half.
Bake for 16-20 mins until golden at the edges but still quite pale in the middle
Cool for 10 mins on the sheet and then cool completely on a wire rack

According to my brother these are better than M&S and Subway white chocolate cookies. I think that's a pretty solid testimonial from a foody fusspot :P

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Social Conflict - The Robbers Cave

As a Psych student I have learned about some really interesting experiments and human processes over the past 3 years. One of the most interesting courses was Social Psychology where we were taught all about money and it's detrimental effect on happiness and the psychological factors behind our destruction of the environment. Anyway, social conflict was one of the phenomena we studied and over the course of learning about it we learned of the Robbers Cave Experiment done by Sherif and colleagues in 1961.

Social Conflict - The Robbers Cave Experiment

They created and resolved conflict between two groups of young boys in a summer camp style setting using techniques such as co-operation for the benefit of everyone! Really interesting experiment to read

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Chocolate Fudge Cake

Sorry for the long time between posts, I'm still not 100% and I've been tirelessly preparing for my college finals...(so scared, so very very scared)... I know immediately what you're thinking, yet another chocolate fudge cake to add to the multitude already out there. But before you lose interest this is a really fantastic chocolate cake. It has yet to fail me and always produces a rich, fudgy cake that still somehow feels light when you're eating it (if that's possible). The aroma of the chocolate is rich and thick and the sponge is fudge but still retains a light spring to remind you that you're actually eating a cake, not a giant sandwich brownie!

I typically fill my cake with plain whipped cream, chocolate cream and crushed raspberries or if that's just too much chocolate raspberry cream (I'll stick this one in a post when I can remember/ work out the measurements) :P

This cake is perfect for kids parties because it's simple and relatively quick. Actually it's a good cake for getting the children involved in baking and decorating...if you don't mind the sprinkle and dragée explosion that will be your kitchen afterwards... :P

It's also a good cake for carving as it doesn't crumble under the knife :)

Chocolate Fudge Cake
Makes 1 9" sandwich cake

  • 175g self-raising flour
  • 125g plain chocolate (see Note)
  • 125g butter
  • 200g light brown sugar
  • 1tsp vanilla essence
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tbsp greek yoghurt
Preheat the oven to 190 C
Melt chocolate over a bain marie
Cream butter and sugar in a bowl until light and fluffy
Add vanilla and 1 egg at a time, beating after each addition
Stir in chocolate and yoghurt
Sift in flour and fold in
Divide the mixture into 2 9" sandwich tins 
Bake for 25-30 mins
Cool for 10 mins in the tins then turn out onto a wire rack

*Note: I use 39-70% cocoa chocolate depending on who the cake is for. Like for children I use the lower cocoa chocolate.

Chocolate cream
  • 250 - 500 mls ready whipped fresh cream (depends on how much filling you want)
  • 3-5 heaped tbsp icing sugar
  • 2-3 tsps cocoa powder
Mix all of these ingredients and spread generously over your bottom cake layer, then stick the top cake layer on top and you're done :)

I used plain cream for the one in the picture because my brother requested it  :)

Also, I didn't bake this today, I cheated a little and used one I baked a few months ago before I even had this blog

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Fallability of Human Memory and Manipulation

Most people if you ask them will say that memory is pretty much solid and that you remember things almost exactly as they happen with maybe the odd detail mistaken like the colour of someone's shirt or something else innoccuous. Well, psychological research has shown that memory is far more fragile and open to alteration and mistakes than people think

This experiment by Elizabeth Loftus demonstrated this really nicely using the scenario of a car crash and assessing people's memories of this. she found that memories were altered based on the wording of the passage describing the crash which is really fascinating!

The implications of this research is a bit scary though because it shows that things like Eyewitness accounts aren't as indicative of events as previously thought but yet juries still hold them as almost as important as DNA evidence!!!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

All Butter Shortbread and a Rather Long Hiatus

So first off, I'm going to apologise for the lack of posts in a while, I'm very sorry about that :( Unfortunately I was in hospital being poked and prodded by Doctors. On a foody hospital note, I don't understand why people complain about it so much, the food is perfectly edible and can actually be quite nice if you choose wisely. Yes, there are more unhealthy options like battered fish and chips and suchlike but there are also loads of healthier options :) Although maybe I'm wrong and Ireland just happens to have good hospital food, what do you guys think? Anyway, enough hospital talk, I'm out and I have a recipe ready to go!

This shortbread recipe is one I inherited from my nana and have used for years. It has been adapted many times to make different flavours and has yet to fail me. It produces a lovely cookie, crunchy but not too crisp when you bite into it and then crumbly and melt in your mouth with a heavenly buttery aroma and a slight sweetness (I'm drooling slightly). There's no vanilla or any other essence added so the buttery flavour shines right through. My mum loves this shortbread so I bake it quite a lot when I'm at home (which isn't really that often unfortunately).

Makes around 30 cookies
  • 220g butter (room temperature)
  • 100g caster/ superfine sugar (granulated will work but the others are preferable)
  • 350g plain flour
  • 1-3 tbsp milk (more if necessary)
Preheat oven to 170 C
Cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy
Add flour and mix until the dough has the consistency of breadcrumbs (I always use my hands for this)
Add milk 1tbsp at a time until dough comes together into a ball
Roll dough out to 2-3mm and cut out cookies
Bake for 15 mins, until golden at the edges
Cool on a wire rack

Feel free to add essences and stuff and let me know how they turn out :) x