Sunday, July 7, 2013

S'mores Cookies

Business has been going pretty well lately, my cookies are selling, well, like hotcakes but I decided to change it up a little and try something new for this week. S'mores aren't really a thing over here in Ireland. I mean, we know what they are from watching American kids telly but most people have never made them, probably because we don't get graham crackers over here and digestives are the best substitute we have. As you may know by now I am dating an American and he's introduced me to all sorts of new foods and ways of cooking foods I've made before (his love of cooking is a huge plus for me). I recently got to try the staple campfire treat when Ethan's dad brought graham crackers home from a trip to the States and I was pleasantly surprised. It wasn't what I was expecting but I liked them, the gooey marshmallows, melty chocolate and crunchy biscuits are a yummy combination! In honour of this I decided to make s'mores cookies for this weeks sales. The cookie dough recipe is the same as my M&M Cookies just substituting the M&Ms for milk
chocolate chunks.

S'mores Cookies
Makes 16
  • 1 batch of cookie dough
  • 300g milk chocolate
  • 16 marshmallows
Preheat the oven to 150C
Line 2 baking sheets with greaseproof paper
Pour the chocolate chunks over the dough 
and combine well (I always use my hands for this bit)
Form 2 tbsp of dough at a time into balls and
put on the baking sheets
Press the balls into flat rounds on the sheets
Bake for 7-9 minutes, until the edges start to stiffen
While this is going on split all the marshmallows in half
Take the cookies out of the oven and put two marshmallow bits on each 
Bake the cookies for a further 6-8 mins, until the edges are golden brown and the marshmallows are melted and gooey
Cool for 10 mins on the sheets then transfer to a wire rack and cool completely

If they stick to the greaseproof paper (at least one always does...), don't panic. Just leave it to go completely cold then gently winkle it off using a spatula. If you don't want the marshmallows to be so melted you could put them on later in the cooking process, when the cookies are nearly cooked anyway.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Boston Cream LIES!

Ok, so I was in the US a few years ago and ordered Boston Cream Pie for dessert, expecting some sort of pie crust filled with creme patissiere or something. Instead I got a cake filled with it and coated in rich chocolate ganache. It was delicious but very misleading and I never found out why it is in fact called a pie when it's clearly a cake!
*Phew* rant over. So it's my brother's birthday and he loves loves loves creme patissiere. In fact I'm pretty sure if I just presented him with a bowl of the stuff and a spoon he'd consider that a birthday present in itself. I normally use it as a filling for my Summerfruit Tart but I know he likes this dessert too so I decided to give it a go.
Boston Cream Pie
Makes one 9" cake 

  • 350g self raising flour
  • 350g caster sugar
  • 225g butter (room temperature)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 5 eggs
  • 50-75 mls milk
Preheat the oven to 175C
Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy
Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition
Add half the flour, mix, add half the milk and repeat.
If the mixture is a little thick looking add some extra milk
Divide the batter into two tins and bake for 30-35 minutes

Creme Patissiere
  • 300mls full cream
  • 200 mls full milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 40g cornflour
  • 5 egg yolks
Heat the cream, milk and vanilla on medium until it's nearly reached a boil
In a glass bowl mix the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour
When the cream mixture is ready pour it into the egg mixture and whisk
Pour everything back into the pot and cook on a medium heat until it begins to thicken
Cook for a further 3-5 minutes, whisking constantly, then remove from the heat
Cool completely in a glass bowl
Fill the cake using a piping bag with a round tip/no tip

Chocolate Ganache
  • 300g dark chocolate
  • 130 mls full cream
Scald the cream and pour it over the chocolate
Stir until the chocolate is completely melted, then cool completely before pouring over the cake

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Sunny Lemon Cupcakes

We were sitting on lunch break in the lab when the conversation turned to cake and our favourite kinds of cake (not on my initiation, I swear!). During the conversation lemon cake was mentioned and there was a general consensus that we'd all love some lemon cake right now. So I volunteered my services and promised lemon cupcakes the following day.

I have a lovely recipe for Earl Grey and Lemon Cupcakes, really moist and deliciously aromatic. But in order to make these cupcakes as moist I knew I'd have to substitute the tea for something else. So I thought about it and settled on Greek yoghurt, which I've used with great results before. These cupcakes are intensely lemony, there are 4 lemons involved in the batter and yummy glaze that goes on top! But it's not too tart or overpowering. Aside from the initial mixing of the wet ingredients the mixing method is all folding. the key to a tender, light cupcake is air, air, air! So be gently with the mixture but careful not to over-mix or they could be bready! 

Lemon Cupcakes
Makes 15-17
  • 200g butter, room temperature
  • 215g caster sugar
  • 4 tbsp Greek yoghurt
  • 3 eggs
  • 275g self raising flour
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • zest of 2 lemons
Preheat the oven to 180C and line the cupcake tin with liners
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy
Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each
Sieve in 1/3 of the flour and fold gently
Add the yoghurt and fold
Sieve in the remaining flour, fold in and fold in the juice and zest
Fill the liners nearly to the brim and bake for 30-35 minutes

Cool in the tin for 15 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack and cooling completely. Then glaze and enjoy!

Lemon Glaze
  • 500g icing sugar
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • zest of 1 lemon
Combine all ingredients (if it's too thick or thin add more juice or sugar as needed)

Friday, March 8, 2013

Caramel Swirl Anniversary Cheesecake

It's anniversary time. Still going strong and happy after three years we had a lovely day planned, starting with a hike through the Dublin mountains in the lovely crisp Spring sunshine, followed by dinner and a movie (so stereotypical, but we love it!). Unfortunately, Murphy's law kicked in and I was too sick to even walk down the driveway, let alone up any sort of incline. So we re-assessed and decided to just have dinner and watch something together. I made my super yummy spaghetti bolognese and set to work making dessert. He loves cheesecake. But, being from the US, he likes cheesecake of the baked variety, rather than our more traditional no-bake. Until I made my Mini Mixed Berry Cheesecakes I had never made a baked one before and I have to say, I'm converted. The texture is light and fluffy, like air, rather than dense, but it still retains it's creaminess and the taste is more intense, I find.

Caramel Sauce

  • 1/2 tin condensed milk
  • 1 tbsp golden syrup
  • 30g butter
  • 50g brown sugar
Chuck all of the ingredients into a pot
Cook over a medium-low heat, stirring constantly until the sugar has completely 
dissolved and the mixture looks like caramel

Caramel Swirl Cheesecake
Makes 1 8" cheesecake
  • 350g light cream cheese
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 350g digestive biscuits
  • 70g butter, melted
  • caramel sauce
Grease the sides and line the base of an 8" round loose-bottom tin
Crush the digestives into fine crumbs and combine with the butter
Press this mixture into the base and sides of the tin and chill in the fridge
for 30 minutes

While that cools, you can make the filling

Preheat the oven to 160C
Whip the cream cheese to loosen it and introduce air
Add egg and vanilla and mix well
Mix in 1 tbsp of the caramel sauce
Pour the mixture into the base and then add dollops of the caramel on top
Using a skewer/knife, swirl it through the filling mixture until you're happy with it
Bake for 45-60 minutes
Cool for 20 minutes in the tin then remove and cool completely

put an ovenproof dish with a little water in it on the shelf below the cheesecake,
this will prevent cracking!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Cinnamon Shortbread & Eating Leftovers in our PJ's

Cinnamon Shortbread

I know this is a little out of season, ok waaay out of season, but since I've been on hiatus I lost track of my drafts. I found this one this morning and I thought that it would be perfect for the wintry weather we're experiencing right now! It is unseasonably chilly in Ireland with gale force winds and hail, rain and sleet. We haven't seen the sun for more than a few hours at a time in weeks so I think a nice mug of hot chocolate is in order with a few of my cinnamon shortbread. Yum!

This is the easiest and most practiced Christmas (or anytime) recipe I have, I know it by heart and can rhyme it off since it's  based on my original  Shortbread Recipe just with added cinnamon and some icing for decoration. Every Christmas Eve there's a tradition whereby we get together with our neighbours after the nativity mass and have drinks and nibbles and these are an ever present and much loved choice.

Makes around 30 cookies
  • 220g butter (room temperature)
  • 100g caster/ superfine sugar (granulated will work but the others are preferable)
  • 350g plain flour
  • 2 tsps ground cinnamon
  • 1-3 tbsp milk (more if necessary)
Preheat oven to 170 C
Cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, in a separate bowl combine the flour and cinnamon
Add flour mixture 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

If you decide to decorate them, to make the icing mix royal icing sugar with a little water and beat until it thickens to a stiff pouring consistency. Transfer to an icing bag and decorate. I tend to just use the icing to highlight the edges of the cookies rather than flooding them which I find makes the cookies way to sweet, but this is the creative bit so have fun with it :)

    Sunday, January 27, 2013

    First Post After a Long Absence

    I'm finally back! I've dusted the cobwebs off my wooden spoon and I'm ready to bake again. I must apologise for the long absence and the lack of posting, unfortunately due to medical issues I have spent the past few months in and out of hospital and on bed-rest. I am one of the few people in Ireland than suffers from Lupus (SLE), an atoimmune disorder. Without going into gory details I picked up an infection without realising it at some stage last Autumn which built and built without my knowing until my body couldn't handle it anymore. The end result was weeks of hospital, needles, endless tests and feeling pretty rotten. I lost most of the muscle mass in my arms, legs and back which I'm only beginning to regain, although I'm pretty sure beating butter and sugar will give me back my glorious guns...or at least my right one!

    So, the recipe. I decided to do something completely different and make Earl Grey tea and lemon cupcakes as a thank you gift for close family friends who looked after me very well during my illness. I've tasted them before and I love the light flavour that the tea gives the sponge and the lemon adds a brightness that I think is the perfect complement. The end result is a fresh tasting cupcake, reminiscent of summer on these rainy wintry days, that goes perfectly with a cup of tea. I'm using a version of the Hummingbird Bakery recipe that I've modified slightly

    Earl Grey & Lemon Cupcakes
    Makes 12
    • 3 Earl Grey teabags
    • 1tbsp freshly boiled water
    • 80g butter, soft
    • 2 eggs
    • 280g white caster sugar 
    • 240g plain flour
    • 1tbsp baking powder
    • 200mls milk
    • zest of 1 lemon
    Add the water to the teabags and brew for 30 minutes
    Preheat oven to 185C, line a muffin tray with paper liners

    Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy
    Add eggs one at a time mixing well, and lemon zest
    In another bowl mix flour and baking powder
    Add the brewed tea to the milk and mix
    Alternate adding flour mix and milk to the butter mixture and combine
    Divide evenly between the holes in the tin
    Bake for 17-20 minutes

    Lemon Glaze
    • Juice of 1 lemon
    • 1/2 tsp lemon zest
    • 5tbsp icing sugar
    Combine the juice and sugar
    Add more sugar if the mix is too runny
    (It should run off a spoon slowly but be slightly transluscent)

    You can omit the zest from the glaze to make the lemon less intense or leave the zest but make it up with water rather than juice. This will change the flavour slightly but some people prefer doing it this way.

    Enjoy! :)