Ultimate Chocolate Orange Brownies!!

My friend and neighbor moved her family up north this week. It was really sad to see them go! They moved in across the street shortly after I moved over so we’ve known each other for many years!

When I made the chocolate orange brownies at Christmas time I had shared them with said neighbors and so she requested them again before she left!! I used a different recipe as my base for these ones. They are based off a recipe from Marian Keyes Saved by Cake.

These are more of a fudge type brownie then they are a cake/bar type. Make sure you note the 3-hour cooling period if you try to cut them sooner you will end up with a big mess!! These are still super yummy just a different consistency! Enjoy!!

Ultimate Chocolate Orange Brownie 

225g milk or dark chocolate orange (Terry’s)
225g butter (unsalted)
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
200g light brown sugar
170g plain flour
½ tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
chopped up chocolate

grease a brownie pan I used a square 9x9 silicone pan and preheat to 160C/325F/gas 3
gently melt the butter and chocolate together. Chocolate oranges are 175g (I think?) so you will have some left over I chopped these up to mix in at the end.
Beat eggs, egg yolks, and sugar together until they start to look a bit like caramel.
pour in the melted chocolate and butter and mix together do not over mix
sieve in the flour, baking powder, and salt and fold in.
add your chopped chocolate orange or some chocolate chips
pour into you prepared tin and bake for 20 minutes, yes that’s right these will be gooey!

cool on a rack for 3 hours or more I cooled mine on the rack for about 30 minutes or so and put them in the fridge for the rest of the 3 hours, if you cut them too soon they will leak everywhere!

Are Sweet-Lovers Sweeter?!?!

from Delicious Magazine UK March Issue 2012
It says that in a study people who ate chocolate rather then crackers (for this study) were more likely to help someone in need. In other research sweet-lovers tended to be more agreeable and helpful then those who don't like sweets.
I don't think we needed a study to show this.
I mean we are what we eat right?!?

Rocky Road!!

My friend is pregnant and has been craving different things every week. I do wonder, if her excuse is pregnancy, what’s mine!?!?

Anyway she said she really liked the Rocky Road from Starbucks. She took a special trip just to get some and they didn't have any! Since this is a no-bake and it needs to set I wasn't able to help her out right away. But I will store some of this in case of an emergency! 

I choose the recipe from the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook (the first book) because it sounded the best packed with all sorts of yummy things!!

This is really a no brainer, take some of your favourite things and cover them in chocolate and you there you have rocky road! This at least gives you a guide line of amounts and what not!

Rocky Road

1.4kg milk chocolate roughly chopped (or broken into squares)
8 regular sized chewy, filled chocolate bars of your choice (snickers, mars, musketeers etc…)
100g marshmallows
180g chocolate-covered malt honeycomb balls (Maltesers/Whoopers)
100g dried apricots, roughly chopped
100g raisins
100g cornflakes
100g chocolate vermicelli (chocolate sprinkles or Jimmy’s)

a 33x23x5cm baking tray (I used my 9x9 silicone square tin and just cut back the amounts of some of the ingredients!)  

  1. Melt the chocolate in your preferred method- either over water or in the microwave.
  2. Put everything else in a large bowl together.
  3. Pour the melted chocolate over everything and stir until everything is evenly dispersed.
  4. Press the mixture into your baking tray using the back of a tablespoon or a rubber spatula.

notes: Recipe was adjusted from the Hummingbird (bakery) cookbook. 

Scones with Cream and Jam from Bill's!!

Bill's Cafe has been in town a while now and I have always meant to check it out. Yesterday I finally did! Most Tuesday's find me in Reading town centre having coffee with two of my best girl friends and their little ones. We used to go to the same places, but now we're branching out a bit trying all sorts of new places.
I didn't actually get a coffee- I choose the chocolate milk shake and scones, cream and jam!! They were lovely!
Tuesday Coffee & Cake Review

Mini Red Velvet Cupcakes with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting!!

When I saw that Philadelphia had come out with a Cadbury cream cheese the first thing I thought was frosting!

 I just knew it was destined to top a cake or in this case a cupcake! 

The chocolate cream cheese on it's own is a bit different. Not 100% sure what I think of it. 

However as a frosting it is pretty darn good!! I would say it makes these extra chocolaty!

I do think that I prefer the regular cream cheese frosting as it sets off the richness of the cake. It just depends what you're taste buds are telling you!

Either way these cakes are a hit every time I make them.

Mini Red Velvet Cupcakes: 

60g unsalted butter, at room temperature
150g caster sugar
1 egg
10g cocoa powder
20ml red food colouring
½tsp vanilla extract
120ml buttermilk
150g plain flour
½tsp salt
½tsp bicarbonate of soda
1½tsp white wine vinegar (I always use Cider Vinegar, because it's usually what I have in the cupboard and I find it sweeter!)

Preheat the oven to 170°C/325°F/gas mark 3.

Put the butter and the sugar in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy and well mixed. Turn the mixer up to high speed, slowly add the egg and beat until everything is well incorporated.

In a separate bowl, mix together the cocoa powder, red food colouring and vanilla extract to make a thick, dark paste. Add to the butter mixture and mix thoroughly until evenly combined and coloured (scrape any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula). 

Turn the mixer down to slow speed and slowly pour in half the buttermilk. Beat until well mixed, then add half the flour, and beat until everything is well incorporated. Repeat this process until all the buttermilk and flour have been added. Scrape down the side of the bowl again. 

Turn the mixer up to high speed and beat until you have a smooth, even mixture. Turn the mixer down to low speed and add the salt, bicarbonate of soda and vinegar. Beat until well mixed, then turn up the speed again and beat for a couple more minutes.

Spoon about a teaspoon of the mixture into the paper cases until two-thirds full and bake in the preheated oven for 20–25 mins, or until the sponge bounces back when touched. A skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean. Leave the cupcakes to cool slightly in the tray before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting: 

300g icing sugar, sifted
50g unsalted butter, at room temperature
125g Cadbury cream cheese, cold

Beat the icing sugar and butter together in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) on medium-slow speed until the mixture comes together and is well mixed. 

Add the cream cheese in one go and beat until it is completely incorporated. Turn the mixer up to medium-high speed. Continue beating until the frosting is light and fluffy, at least 5 mins. Do not overbeat, as it can quickly become runny.

to finish: 

piping nozzle of any shape or size
piping bag
sprinkles, hearts or whatever you'd like

When the cupcakes are cool, pipe the frosting on top. I just held it in the middle and squeezed a couple of times, then top with a heart sprinkle or any shape of your choosing!

notes: the recipe is adapted from the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook; I bought the Philidelphia cream cheese out of my own cursiousity! 

Cake Decorating: Learn how to create beautiful cakes Issue 1!!


cutters and non-toxic glitter (although they don't recommend you eat it)

cupcake stand
I have been absent this last week as my family and I are all sick! I think half of England is sick, I can say that because of the amount of kids absent from preschool, facebook status', and the line (queue) at the pharmacy was a freakin' hour!!
While I was waiting for my daughter's prescription I saw this magazine and free gifts for only 99p!! Bargain. It's a weekly magazine so the next issue is out next week at 2.99. I am more for baking then I am for decorating, but when you bake a good cake it is nice to have some decorating skills no? So, maybe this will get me on the right track. There are a few basic cake recipes (not that I need any more recipes) but it is good for people who rather decorate then bake.
I hope to be feeling better soon and back to baking!!
Happy Mother's Day!! (UK Sunday 18th of March)
Have a good weekend everyone!!

Fluttershy's Spring Time Cupcakes!!

I thought as a fan of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic my Mini Baker and I would make something for each main pony!

So, we made apple pies for Apple Jack and now we made some spring time cupcakes for Fluttershy!

I have ideas for Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie, but I am finding the unicorns to be a bit more challenging! I will be posting them all on here as I figure them out!

This vanilla cupcake recipe is adapted from Love Bakery: Cupcakes from the Heart by Samantha Blears. I talk about the book in this post!

I didn't have enough butter so I used only 100g in each the cake and frosting. Then I added the dye and sprinkles to my liking. They still turned out very yummy!! They are the best vanilla cupcakes I have made to date.

Fluttershy's Spring Time Cupcakes

100g unsalted butter, at room temp
125g caster sugar (super fine sugar)
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs (medium 53-63g), at room temp
125g self-rising flour
½ tsp baking powder
3 tbsp semi-skimmed milk

Pre-heat the oven to 180C/350F/gas4
Cream together the butter, caster sugar, and vanilla for 7 minutes or until light and fluffy - easier done with an electric mixer, but not impossible with a hand mixer.
Add the eggs one by one and mix for 2 minutes
Mix the flour and baking powder together and then add to the mixture. Mix until just incorporated.
Add the milk and mix for another minute. Do not over mix.
Divide evenly between the cupcake liners in your muffin tin.
Bake for 25 minutes.
Once they are taken from the oven immediately transfer them to a cooling rack!

 for the frosting:
125g unsalted butter, room temp
½ tsp vanilla extract
250g icing sugar sifted
1 tbsp semi-skimmed milk
a couple of drops of red food dye (or whatever color you want)

Cream the butter and vanilla for 2 minutes until light and fluffy
Add the icing sugar and milk and mix for another 2 minutes until well blended.
Add a drop of dye (depending on what shade/colour you are after!) Mix well!

to finish:
Once the cupcakes are completely cooled pipe or spread the icing on top. Then to make these Fluttershy’s Spring Cupcakes I added little butterfly sprinkles that match her cutie mark! You can add whatever sprinkles you like, as these are easy, plain, delicious cupcakes that are very versatile! Enjoy!!

Cookie Dough Cheesecake!! from TGI-Friday's

Cookiedough Cheesecake

Pina' Colada

Fuzzy Navel & a Hurricane (the picture is a bit fuzzy)
 My friend and I go to lunch one Saturday every couple of months and we always choose TGI-Friday's for the cocktails. Yes, we drink cocktails in the middle of the day! They are good!
The cocktails were better then the cheesecake. It was good, but nothing special ya know?
I could do better I think.

Paul Hollywood's Ultimate Carrot Cake!! Ulitmate Bake-Off!

Here’s the second cake for the Ultimate Bake-Off hosted by Delicious Magazine UK! Paul Hollywood’s Ultimate Carrot Cake, I didn’t think it would stand a chance against a chocolate cake, but I would have to say it is my favorite of the two.
I have never made a carrot cake before!! There is a first for everything!! I have had the Hummingbird Bakery carrot cake on my list for ages, but never got around to it. However this cake turned out amazing, I may never try a different recipe! It is moist and has just the right amount of spice. Delicious. Thank you Paul Hollywood!!
I don’t know what the vote will be at Mr. Knightly’s office but this is the winner for me! My Mini-Baker has just asked me for another slice. I am going to slip her one before it gets whisked off to the office! As I am typing this she has informed me that I should hide the cake from Daddy. I guess this is definitely one I will be making again! ;0)
 For the cake:
155g sunflower oil, plus extra for greasing.
230g self-rising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp mixed spice
½ tsp ground ginger
230g light brown muscovado sugar
Finely grated zest of 1 satsuma or mandarin, plus strips to decorate (I once again omitted this as my husband is allergic to citrus)
100g pecan halves
260g carrots, coarsely grated
3 medium eggs, beaten

Pre-heat the oven to 180C/160F/gas4
Grease your tin; Paul used an 18cm (7in) loose-bottomed round cake tin. I don’t happen to have that size, so I used my 23cm (9in) loose-bottomed round cake tin. I have 2 8in sandwich rounds (which I used for the Mary Berry Cake) but I wanted this as one cake. I did adjust my baking time.
Sift the flour, baking powder and spices into a large bowl
Add the sugar, zest (if using), pecans, and grated carrots
Stir until well combined
Stir in the beaten eggs and sunflower oil
Mix well!!
Pour into your prepared tin and bake for 1 hour. I baked mine for 40 minutes then covered with tin foil to keep the top from getting to brown and baked for another 10 minutes and it came out perfect. If you are using a bigger tin then recommended one of the things you need to be aware of is the top browning too much as there is more surface area. If you were to use 2 8in sandwich tins you’d want to bake for even less time as they wouldn’t be as thick/deep. If you know what I’m saying?!?
When a skewer comes out clean let it cool in the tin for 5 minutes then leave to cool completely on a cooling rack.

While the cake is baking you can get the icing done as it benefits from sitting in the fridge for a bit.

For the frosting:
50g butter, softened
200g full-fat cream cheese (1 tub)
150g icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar)
2 tsp orange juice (use the juice of your satsuma or mandarin, I didn’t obviously do this for my cake, but I added it in so you can choose, plus I’m sure it tastes delicious with the added orange flavour!)

Beat the butter in a large bowl until really soft (easy to do with a hand mixer!)
Add the cream cheese and beat until well mixed
Sift in the icing and add the orange juice if using
Then beat until smooth
Store covered in the fridge until needed.
Paul gives directions for piping I however didn’t follow the leader and I just spread my icing on.
Here are his tips with some of them in my words! ;0)
  1. If you have a piping bag great! If you don’t, no worries just use a freezer bag with the corner snipped off.
  2. He used a 0.5 nozzle to ice his cake, but size isn’t important – just a steady hand (it’s what all the girls say!)
  3. Don’t overfill your chosen piping bag, keep enough of it empty so you can twist the top which will help to apply even pressure.
  4. Guide the icing in tight lines unto the cake, using one hand to direct the nozzle and the other to squeeze the icing down the bag.
  5. Carefully pipe lines across the cake, then give the cake a quarter turn and pipe more lines on top (same as before).
  6. And last but not least if you’re unhappy with the way it looks just smooth it out!! See I was just too lazy to try it all!! But no worries if you mess up!!
To finish dust with a little icing sugar and some grated satsuma/mandarin zest on top!

Mary Berry's Very Best Chocolate & Orange Cake!! Ultimate Bake-Off

I am making this cake because in the 100th issue of Delicious Magazine UK (March) they are hosting the Ultimate Bake-Off.

The way it works is you make both cakes, one is the one I’m about to share with you, and the second is Carrot Cake by Paul Hollywood. Then you host a tasting session!

I am using my husband’s office co-workers as my tasters. Today they got this cake (minus a slice for me) and on Friday they are getting the carrot cake (to be posted Friday.) Then I ask them to vote for their favorite.

I have until the 1st of April to get the votes in either on twitter or facebook for a chance to win 100 GBP of Marks and Spencer vouchers!! The March issue isn’t on sale anymore, but you can get them from me! If you do make them both or have please tell me you’re favorite in the poll on my side bar!! Or if there was one you’d think you’d like best tell me about it! Here’s Mary Berry’s very best chocolate and orange cake…

Very Best Chocolate & Orange Cake

for the sponge:
100g unsalted butter, softened, plus a little extra for greasting
50g cocoa powder
90ml boiling water (if you’re not using a kettle and you’re boiling it on the stove make sure you boil more water then needed as you’ll lose some to evaporation!)
3 large eggs
4 tbsp of milk
175g self-rising flour, sifted
1 rounded tsp baking powder, sifted in with the flour
300g golden caster sugar (superfine sugar)
finely grated zest of 1 orange (un-waxed, scrub well if using wax) I left the orange out all together as my husband is allergic to citrus. So, I didn’t really make a chocolate and orange cake, I made a chocolate cake!)

Pre-heat at 180C/160F/Gas 4
Grease 2x20cm (8in) round sandwich tins and line the bases with baking paper.
Measure out the cocoa and water into a large bowl to make a paste.
Add all the remaining ingredients and beat until combined. I accidentally left out the tsp of baking powder and it didn’t seem to matter with the self-rising flour. I probably would have gotten a bit more height, but taste was not affected.
If you make it with a food processor be careful not to over mix!
Divide the sponge mixture evenly between your tins.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the sponges are well risen and shrinking away from the sides of the tin.
Remove and turn out on a cooling rack to cool completely!!

150g dark chocolate (Cadbury’s Bournville is recommended!)
150ml double cream (heavy cream)
3 tbsp apricot jam

Break the chocolate into small pieces in a bowl with the cream and heat over a pan of simmering water for about 10 minutes until melted, stirring time to time. Don’t let the bowl touch the water.
Cool until a spreadable consistency. I put mine in the fridge for 10 minute intervals. The kitchen was too warm with the oven and what not to cool the mixture in a reasonable time!

To Finish:
Spread both sponges with the apricot jam.
Then spread one with half the icing and place the sponge on top and ice that one with the rest of the icing.
Cover the top with chocolate curls/shavings

For the chocolate curls/shavings:
Melt 75g dark chocolate (55-60% cocoa) in a heatproof bowl over simmering water as done with the Icing.
Pour the melted chocolate onto a large flat plate, baking sheet, or marble chopping board and leave to cool.
Once the chocolate has solidified, hold a sharp knife between your thumbs and forefingers at both ends, parallel to your shoulders, with the blade at a 45degree angle to the surface of the chocolate, then lightly draw the knife towards you in a single, smooth motion. As the blade scrapes up the chocolate it should form into pretty flaky swirls. However, I didn’t have a completely flat plate, a baking sheet clean enough, or a marble cutting board nor did I have a flat bladed knife. It didn’t work exactly as shown in the picture, but they turned out to be flaky shavings. At the end of the day it looked okay and it tasted like chocolate. It’s still a win!!

Strawberry Cupcakes by Janet

The recipe comes from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes and is found on her website. The directions I have taken from her website and are her 'basic cupcake how-to'. I made these with Mini-Baker last August and had issues with the meringue buttercream. Janet had successfully made them for her friends birthday!!

Here's what she did: 
"You could substiture 3/4 C milk and 1/4 C tequila for the milk, but I was making half the cakes alcoholic and non so I didn't.  While cupcakes were hot, I brushed the 'Margarita' cakes with 1/4 C tequila instead.
In the book Martha pairs these cupcakes with her Strawberry Meringue Buttercream frosting you can find the recipe here  on her site and it has a video!!
At the end, after carefully adding the pureed strawberries, I slowly added 1/4 C tequila to the frosting to make them alcoholic. Then topped with a strawberry and silver sparkling sugar." ~ Janet
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cake flour, (not self-rising)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups finely chopped strawberries, plus small strawberries for garnish
1.      Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk dry ingredients in a large bowl. Cream butter and sugar with a mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition
2.      Reduce speed to low. Mix any remaining wet ingredients in a bowl if needed. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture in 3 additions, alternating with wet ingredients and ending with dry. Scrape sides of bowl. Divide batter among muffin cups, filling each 2/3 full.
3.   Bake cupcakes until testers inserted into centers come out clean, about 20 minutes. Let cool in tins on wire racks. Cupcakes will keep, covered, for up to 3 days, unless otherwise noted.
in plastic cups to transport!

Oreo Pops!!

I made these super easy Oreo Pops, for my daughter's Valentine's Day Party at preschool.

Not only did the kids love them, but they are super easy to make!

They are also super versatile! You can use different colored candy melts in place of the white chocolate and use different sprinkles according to the event or holiday that you are celebrating! ~ Janet

Oreo Pops:

Oreos, as many as needed
white chocolate, decide according to the number of oreos
sprinkles, whatever you want

1. I dipped a candy stick into melted white chocolate and put it in the center of a double stuffed Oreo cookie.

2. Then I spooned the melted chocolate over the pops, turning them. I tried to dip them but the chocolate was too heavy so the cookie kept breaking (not that the kids minded...they got to eat the messed up ones!).

3. Then I placed them on parchment paper and sprinkled red and pink sprinkled on them. 

Apple Jack's Apple Pies from Sweet Apple Acres!!

I think I've mentioned before that I am a fan of the new My Little Ponies Friendship is Magic, but so is Mini-Baker.

We watch all the new episodes on YouTube- they are just starting to play here in England. It shows on Boomerang Monday-Friday at 3pm!!

I thought I would try and make some treats inspired by the main 6 ponies. Apple Jack was always going to be the easiest to be inspired by as she bakes a lot with apples.

Apples are one of my favorite ingredients to bake with as well. I was going to make cupcakes or fritters or something, but then I saw this really cute individual pie cutter at Lakeland's on offer.

So, with a little help from Mini-Baker we made these! Enjoy!

Apple Jack's Apple Pies

flakey pastry:
260g plain flour
½ tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
170g unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 12 pieces
2 medium eggs (53-63g each)

Combine flour, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl.
Cut each piece of butter into 4-5 smaller pieces and add to the bowl. Distribute the butter evenly by folding in the butter with your hands.
Use your fingertips to pinch the pieces of butter into smaller pieces, alternate with rubbing the mixture between the palms of your hands.
Continue rubbing until the larger pieces are no more then 5mm across, but the mixture is still cool and powdery
Add the eggs and use a fork to break them up. Move the bowl back and forth while you stir with the fork until dough is almost completely mixed.
Turn the dough onto your work surface and gently press into a cohesive mass.
Divide the dough in half, then flatten into a disc, and wrap in clingfilm. Refrigerate until firm or up to 3 days.
Half the dough makes approximately 3 individual pies using the pie mold. I have 3 un-baked pies resting in the fridge as I type this and will be baking them tonight! These were good served with some vanilla ice cream and toffee sauce!! Perfect dessert!!

Golden Delicious & Granny Smith Apples

unbaked ready for the oven
Since I was making individual pies, I only used 2 golden delicious and 2 granny smith apples cubed. Granny smith’s smaller as they take longer to cook.

Sweet Apple Acres
Then I combined 100g granulated sugar with 50g light brown sugar, 3 tbsp plain flour, and 1 tsp ground cinnamon in a bowl. I sprinkled the mixture over the apples and mixed them together with a rubber spatula. I didn’t adjust the sugars to accommodate the apples, as you can never have too much sugar!! After making the pies I rested them in the fridge before putting them in a hot oven. I adapted the recipe from Bake! By Nick Malgieri.
My first attempt. I didn't use the mold right and they were very rustic looking.
But really really good!!

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies!!

While reading Annabel Karmel’s The Fussy Eater’s Recipe Book (I made the amazing Shepard’s Pie for dinner) I came across the section ‘gluten-free and gorgeous’ and these cookies stood out. I had everything to make them in the cupboard so that is a bonus. I bet you didn’t know I kinda bake a lot…

I didn’t have milk chocolate chips and used dark. Although these were really good I will use milk chocolate chips next time. The dark ones were good, but it needed milky-ness. Ya know? Not to be beaten I got my milky-ness by dunking them in a cold glass of milk. Yum!

I also wanted to note that I used a peanut butter with no added sugar. That would change the sweetness. This book is my family’s favourite, its where I got the recipe for the lasagna in this post. It also has very yummy tuna melt cakes, veggie burgers, and chicken satay. All very good.
Some recipes for gluten-free can be daunting with random ingredients, but these are pretty basic and simple. Oh! and did I mention they taste good!!

Mr. Knightly's office ate all of these!