Treasure Chest Cake for Kids!!

from Cakes for Kids by Matthew Mead

Serves 12-16 (makes one 5-by-9-by-6 inch cake).
  • 9x13 in cake pan
  • Waxed or parchment paper
  • Toothpick
  • Wire cooling racks
  • Glass measuring cup
  • Cutting board
  • Ruler
  • Long serrated knife
  • Platter or 10x10in cardboard base for serving
  • Small offset spatula
  • Deco bag & #47 weave tip
  • A 9x13 cake of your choice
  • 3 cups of white frosting (choose a thicker frosting)
  • Yellow food coloring
  • Brown food coloring
  • 20 small yellow candies (skittles)
  • Ring Pops
  • Gold foil covered chocolate coins
  • 5 foil wrapped mini Chocolate bars
  • 5 strings clear rock candy
  • Chocolate golden nugget candy

Bake cake according to directions.  While cake is cooling, tint 1/2 C frosting yellow. Tint remainder of frosting brown.

Place the cooled cake on cutting board.  Using a ruler and serrated knife, cut across the cake using the diagram.

Cut the middle piece diagonally to create two eight inch long wedges. Diagram 1 &2. Level the top of one 5x9 in pieces, but leave the other curved to help shape the dome of the chest. Diagram 3.

Transfer the bottom of the trunk to the platter. Center one of the wedges on top of it, aligning the tapered edge with the back 9 in edge. Using an offset spatula, bond the wedge to the bottom with a thin layer of brown frosting. Spread more brown frosting on top of the wedge and then center the trunk top on the assembled pieces, aligning the back edges as shown in step 2 of the assembly diagram.

Decorate chest with long uneven strokes of brown frosting to make it look like rustic wood. Use yellow fondant or frosting, as I did, to make the lock and handles. Arrange the candies around and in the chest like pirates booty!

Have a great weekend!! ~ Janet

Dark Muscovado Brownies!!

I found this recipe in Sue Lawrence's Book of Baking (mentioned here and here). I have made lots of brownie from different recipes in search of the perfect brownie. I love brownies they are my biggest baking weakness. 

Sue says "...quite simply, the very best brownie recipe around..." With a statement like that I had to try them out. They were good brownies but the very best? I'm not even sure I would call these the best! Good though. I'm glad Sue added to that quote "...-certainly according to my family." 

Everyone's tastes are different and these may be the very best or the best brownies for you, I however will continue my quest for the very best brownie. Enjoy!!

Dark Muscovado Brownies: 
  • 350g dark chocolate (60-70% Cocoa)
  • 200g unsalted butter
  • 250g dark muscovado sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 70g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder

Preheat oven to 170C. Prepare you brownie pan 23cm/9in. 
Melt chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl over simmering water in a saucepan. I always take my chocolate mixture off the heat right before it’s completely melted and then stir it until it’s completely melted.
Place the sugar in a bowl; make sure to break up any lumps. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Slowly add this to the melted chocolate mixture, stirring well.
Sift in the flour, baking powder, and a pinch of salt and gently fold together.
Tip into the prepared pan and bake for 35minutes, or until a wooden cocktail stick inserted into the middle comes out with some moist crumbs adhering. It should just feel firm when you press gently with a finger on top.
Cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes, then cut up into 16-20 pieces, leave until completely cold before removing the brownies, they are very delicate. I also suggest storing these in the fridge eating them at room temp wasn’t as pleasurable as eating them from the fridge! 

Austrian Coffee Tart with raspberries!!

Looking for something different to make I spent a few hours scouring my books for something that looked tasty. Instead I found something that sounded tasty. Even though this book is full of great pictures, the pictures that accompany the pastry are very helpful, I of course chose a recipe without a picture.

This recipe filled some criteria that I was looking for. 1. Having spent my Christmas gift money on a tart tin it’s probably about time I used it. 2. I was desperate to use my coffee extract I recently made 3. It was different then my normal bakes found on here. 4. I have yet to bake from Home Bake by Eric Lanlard (first thoughts on the book)

I had a few hiccups (see * below) I am more confident today about it then I was yesterday. Still not 100% sure it’s right; this time a picture would have been helpful! (see: Coffee Extract update for my insanity) But after reading the top of the recipe “This light-as-air tart is based on an Austrian classic. It is like across between a tart, a meringue and a macaroon.” That’s exactly what I thought when eating it. The raspberries really compliment the tart. If you have or will attempt this recipe and your results were/are different I would love for you to share with me!! Also Eric Lanlard if you happen to read this please let me know if this is what it’s suppose to look like! lol thanks!  ;0)

Sweet shortcrust pastry 
  • 115g (4oz) plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 50g (2oz) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, plus extra for greasing
  • 25g (1oz) icing sugar (confectioner sugar) sifted
  • 1 egg yolk (save the white for the rest of the tart)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Sift the flour into a mixing bowl. Add the measured butter and rub in with your fingertips until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs (mine never look like fine breadcrumbs but it does look like breadcrumbs (I wonder how often I can type breadcrumbs in one sentence!!))
Stir in the sugar and make a well in the center.

Lightly beat the egg yolk with 1 tbsp cold water and the vanilla. Add to the well in the flour mixture and mix in with your fingertips. Gather together to make soft dough. Wrap in clingfilm and chill for an hour before rolling it out.

Once chilled, knead he dough minimally, then roll out on a lightly floured surface until a little larger then a 23cm (9in) loose-bottomed flan tin. Use some extra butter to grease the flan tins base and sides.

Lift the pastry over the rolling pin, drape in the buttered tin and press over the base and up the side. Trim the excess pastry by rolling a rolling pin across the top.
Prick the base of the pastry with a fork.

To blind-bake which you will need to do for this tart recipe:
Pre-heat the oven 200C/400F/gas mark 6.
Line the raw pastry with baking paper (grease proof) and fill with ceramic baking beans. *Eric says that they conduct more heat then the dried beans often recommended. I would agree that this pastry turned out better then the one I made for a coconut cream pie (Before Blog) where I used lentils. It got puffy and the cream filling didn’t fill it right. Still tasted good though.
Bake for 6-10 minutes until pastry is golden brown.
Remove the paper and beans and bake for a further 5-10 minutes to dry out the base.

If you wanted to use this for a liquid base (which we aren’t here) brush the inside of the pastry with an egg beaten with 1 tbsp of milk after taking out the baking beans and cook for the full 10 minutes. It helps keep the crunchiness longer.

Austrian Coffee Tart with Raspberries

  • 22cm (8 ½ in) blind-baked sweet shortcrust pastry tart case
  • 3 punnets of raspberries
  • icing sugar for dusting
  • 250g (9oz) icing sugar (confectioners)
  • 1 tbsp coffee extract
  • 4 egg whites

Pre-heat the oven to 170C/325F/gas mark 3. I just turned my oven down after baking the tart case.
Put the icing sugar, coffee extract and one of the egg whites in a large bowl. Using a wooden spoon at first, and then an electric hand whisk, mix and beat them together until really fluffy.
In a separate bowl, whisk the remaining egg whites to soft peaks.
Fold these gently into the coffee mixture, using a large metal spoon.
Pour this into the pastry case, and bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes.
 *I ran into a time problem here. I had it baking for 15 minutes when I realised I needed to get my daughter from preschool. Time just got away from me, so I turned the oven off and went to get her. We did make it back at about the time it should have been done, but I turned the oven back up to 170C and baked for a further 10 minutes before taking it out and letting it cool. Needless to say I am not 100% sure this has turned out right. It is one of the few recipes that does not have a picture accompanying it.
To serve cover it in raspberries and dust with icing sugar.

Coffee Extract!

This was like one of those times when you discover something you've never seen or heard before and then find it everywhere you go!

For instance: my friend bought a gold Picasso (UK car).

I assumed there was no way it was a very popular color and I started waving to all the metallic gold Picasso's I saw, again, assuming it was my friend. So, wrong it's always some random person, not my friend. (In all reality it's probably only one other car and I'm waving to the same person over and over again!) 

My point being is I found a recipe I wanted to try and it had coffee extract listed in it's ingredients. I was intrigued having never seen it in any store or for any other recipe.Then all of the sudden it seemed like every recipe I read had it listed! Seriously. So, I went on a hunt for it. 

For the longest time I couldn't find it locally. Searching online to see where I could get my hands on some I came across a recipe. Perfect. 

This recipe comes directly from Island Vittles. (site no longer available) 

·        2 cups (480 ml) granulated sugar
·        1 cup (240 ml) hot espresso (I used double strength regular coffee)

1.     Preheat a large non-stick pan over medium heat. Sprinkle enough sugar in the pan to lightly cover the bottom. Do not stir. As the sugar melts, sprinkle more sugar over the hot spots. This keeps the temperature even, and prevents scorching.
2.     Continue with this method until about half of the sugar has been incorporated. Stir gently with a wooden spoon to melt all the sugar into a smooth caramel. Add the remaining sugar, about 1/4 at a time, and continue to stir to keep the caramel smooth.
3.     Continue to cook until the caramel is almost the colour of coffee. The easiest way to see this is by smearing a bit of the caramel on a white card. Expect some smoke when sugar gets this hot — turn the exhaust on and BE CAREFUL!!
shades of caramel
4.   Remove from the heat, and gently stir in approx 2 tablespoons of the hot espresso/coffee — beware of splatters! Add the coffee, a little bit at a time, until it is all incorporated, stirring well between additions.
5.     Store in a glass jar at room temperature indefinitely.

Notes: 1. Always keep a bowl of ice water close by when working with molten sugar.  If you burn your hand, plunge it into the ice water and keep it there for at least 2 minutes. This will minimise the burn. 2. In place of espresso, you could use double strength regular coffee.

I made mine with really strong espresso and until I use it in a recipe I can't really comment on if it's turned out right. Extract tastes disgusting and this tastes disgusting so from that comparisons my fingers are crossed it's okay! 

Stay tuned for upcoming bakes with coffee extract! 

UPDATE: (June 26) Okay so I think this will be one of those recipes I think I'll keep coming back too. I made this Coffee Tart and I was concerned as it didn't have a distinct coffee flavor. So, not gonna lie I was annoyed. I thought about it and I only used espresso powder.....maybe I needed proper I ran to my local Starbucks where they sold me 7 shots of espresso to make up the 240ml. Thank you ladies! Did I mention they know me and my mum friend there pretty well! :0) Then quickly (it takes 10-15 minutes) I remade the extract. While I was remaking this extract I did think about vanilla extract and how you don't always taste vanilla in some bakes, but without it it would be noticeable. So, maybe this is one of those times when it's not suppose to taste strongly of coffee, but without the extract it would taste differently? I don't know! It looks and tastes (disgusting) about the same. It's slightly thicker, but not much difference. So, then I thought I am going to re-make the tart to see if there is a difference in the taste. But I talked myself out of that because my husband really only likes chocolaty bakes and I couldn't eat all of the first tart, plus a second one. It's good, but not that good! Maybe another time. I already have a cake with coffee extract on my baking calendar!   

Strawberry Shortcake!!

Strawberry Shortcake:

·         1 1/2 pounds strawberries, stemmed and quartered
·         3 tablespoons sugar
·         2 cups all-purpose flour
·         2 teaspoons baking powder
·         1/4 teaspoon baking soda
·         1/4 cup sugar
·         3/4 teaspoon salt
·         1 1/2 cups heavy cream

Mix strawberries with 3 tablespoons sugar and refrigerate while juices develop, at least 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Sift together the flour; baking powder, baking soda, remaining sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Add heavy cream and mix until just combined. Place mixture in an ungreased 8-inch square pan and bake until golden, 18 to 20 minutes. 
Remove shortcake from pan and place on a rack to cool slightly. If using an 8 in pan, cut into 6 pieces and split each piece in half horizontally. If you use a 9-inch pan you can just pile all of your toppings on top of the shortbread rather than slicing them. 
Spoon some of the strawberries with their juice onto each shortcake bottom. Top with a generous dollop of whipped cream and then the shortcake top. Spoon more strawberries over the top and serve.

whipped cream!

Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream:

·         1 1/2 cups heavy cream, chilled
·         3 tablespoons sugar
·         2 vanilla beans scraped or 2 tsp paste (1 1/2 tsp extract)

Whip ingredients until stiff peaks form.

Made by Janet!

Patisserie Valerie New Reading Branch!!

Patisserie Valerie opened in Reading (The Oracle Riverside) at the end of May and I had the pleasure of visiting opening week! 
Here's official my review (it has since been removed 31/1/2016) on the Oracle website and here are the pictures that go with that review: 

Almond Macaroon 

Eclair' Cafe' (coffee) 
Mixed Berry Tart
Cherry Danish
Gateaux Slice

Selva- a 3 layer cake of a dense chocolate between layers of whipped cream,
zabaglione (liquor flavored) custard and fresh fruit.

I want you to know that we shared these indulgent treats and the macaroon was bought earlier in the week for my coffee morning with my mum friends! ;0)  

I don't think I ate anything for the rest of the day!! Patisserie Valerie is going to be a great addition to Reading! A perfect little cozy place to go for a coffee and a treat or if you're hungrier breakfast/brunch/lunch!! 

Salted Caramel Flapjacks

I have been a fan of flapjacks since I moved to the UK. I used to get a chocolate one from M&S on my lunch breaks, at least once a week if not more, when I worked in town.

It never occurred to me back then to make my own.

Which is odd, but even odder that it hadn't occurred until now!! I ripped this recipe out of the Daily Mail’s You Magazine back in April 2011! Kinda regret I didn't make them back then!! 

These are good and simple to make. Moreish as some would say! Perfect for a picnic! Enjoy!!

Salted Caramel Flapjacks

240g salted butter, diced
180g light muscovado sugar
225g Nestle’ Caramel or other dulce de leche
small pinch of salt
350g refined (not wholegrain) rolled oats
50g dark chocolate (about 50% cocoa), broken into pieces

Preheat oven 180C/160Cfan/gas4. Gently melt the butter with the sugar and caramel in a pan over a medium heat; add a small pinch of salt and whisk until smooth and amalgamated. Stir in the oats; tip the mixture into a 23cm/9in square tin, pressing it down using a spatula or back of a metal spoon. Bake for 20 minutes until very lightly colored. Remove and leave to cool for about 30 minutes. 

To finish, gently melt the broken chocolate pieces either by setting a bowl over a pan of simmering water or in the microwave. Make sure if you’re melting it in the microwave to do it in 10-20 second increments. Drizzle the melted chocolate over the flapjack. Set aside for several hours for the chocolate to set, then cut into 25 squares. Pop into paper cases to serve if you wish. 

note: Sometimes it’s wise to listen to the directions…other times its best to do your own thing. This is not one of those times. Where it says 50g of chocolate it means it. I thought 80g would be better then 50g. Sometimes less is more! ;0) 

Jarlsberg Twist Bread!!

When I buy a bake book these days it really has to have something different- The Hairy Bikers’ Big Book of Baking offers exactly that! I bought it some time ago now (March), but have just gotten around to using it! 

I don’t watch a lot of TV that isn’t cartoons at the moment so; I was unaware of the TV tie-in Hairy Bikers’ Bakeation. Luckily I have the BBC app and was able to catch a few episodes before they removed them. Does anyone else find that annoying? Find something you want to watch and then it's gone before you get a chance to watch it! Anyhow, the show was really good and I really like the book. It has interesting recipes from all over Europe: Norway, Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Austria, Italy, France, and Spain. Also the titles of the chapters! 

As it was Father’s Day this weekend and we aren't big present people. (Both my Mini-Bakers were born the winter. It works for us to spread their gifts throughout the year then all at once.) For little holidays like Father’s Day we celebrate with food and time! It might be we go out for a meal or I make a favorite dinner etc… So, I made our favorite beef roast and instead of a dessert (there has been a lot of sweet stuff in the house recently) I thought why not a bread!! There is so much from this book that I would like to try that it's going to be hard to know what to make next!

With so many books to choose a recipe from, it was hard to decide on one. From watching the show (see above) The Hairy Bikers made bread making look easy! And it is!! I had a little trouble shooting with the dough being sticky, but in the end it’s turned out very well! It’s very tasty and a perfect compliment to the beef roast! I am hoping that one of the loaves holds out until Tuesday for a picnic! ;0) Enjoy!!
Makes 4 mini-loaves

1 x 7g sachet of fast-action dried yeast
1 tbsp caster sugar
250ml warm water
500g plain flour, extra for dusting
275g Jarlsberg Cheese, grated
2 tsp fine sea salt
100ml whole milk
50g butter, cut into cubes
1 medium egg, beaten
sunflower oil , for greasing
3 tbsp finely chopped parsley

Put the yeast and sugar in a medium bowl, add 125ml of the warm water and whisk well. Set aside in a warm place for about 10 minutes or until you can see a light, beige froth floating on the surface of the mixture. Mix the flour, 100g of the cheese and the salt in a large bowl and make a well in the center. Keep the rest of the cheese for later!

Pour the milk into a saucepan, add the remaining 125ml of water and the butter. Over a low heat melt the butter and bring the mixture to a lukewarm temperature. Don’t let the mixture overheat. Stir the warm buttered milk and the beaten egg into the yeast mixture. Gradually stir it all into the flour with a wooden spoon and then mix with your hands until everything comes together to form a soft, spongy dough. Here I accidentally dumped the liquid into the flour mixture so it wasn’t gradually at all!

Turn the dough out on to a lightly floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes until smooth and elastic. My dough was very sticky. I don’t have a lot of experience with bread so not wanting to do anything wrong I left it and worked with it the best I could. I think I washed away half a loaf from my hands, bowls, and work surfaces!! Put the dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl and cover loosely with oiled clingfilm. Leave the dough to rise in a warm place for about 40 minutes or until it has doubled in size!

Return the dough to a floured surface and knock it back with your knuckles. Since the dough was so sticky I heavily floured my surface and hands and it seemed to be okay. Divide the dough into 4 balls and roll each ball into a rectangle about 25x20cm. Mix the remaining 175g of cheese with the parsley and sprinkle over the dough rectangles, leaving a 1cm gap around the edges. Beginning with the short ends, roll up the rectangles tightly like Swiss rolls and squeeze the ends to seal.

Place 1 of the dough rolls vertically in front of you and cut through the center up to about 5mm from the top. Twist each half of the dough over the other to form a braid, leaving the open sides, revealing the cheese and parsley, on top if possible. Repeat with the other dough balls.

Carefully transfer the loaves to a large baking sheet lined with baking parchment. Space them well apart and tuck in the ends neatly to preserve the twisted shape. Leave to rise for 30 minutes or until doubled in size.  Preheat the oven to 200C/fan180C/gas6. Bake the loaves in the center of the oven for 35-40 minutes or until well-risen and golden brown. The bases should sound hollow when tapped. Leave to cool for 10 minutes before serving.   
Normally I would have taken more pictures of the process, but as it was so sticky (see above)  and I was trying not to get distracted, I didn't. Next time I will though as the more and more I make bread like stuff the more confident I become! 
I like doing a book review with a recipe! Kills two birds with one stone!! 

Peanut Butter Cup Cupcakes!!

I made these cupcakes for my husband's birthday.  I wanted to try yet another Peanut Butter Cupcake recipe.  This one was a hit with my cream-cheese-frosting-loving friends but not so much with my family (we don’t like cream cheese frosting in my house!) We still prefer the peanut butter chocolate swirl cupcakes. I really liked the cupcakes though, and would make them again with a peanut butter butter cream. :)  ~Janet

1 2/3 cup flour
3/4 cup cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 cup sour cream
2 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter - room temp
1 ½ cup sugar
2 large eggs

  • Preheat oven to 350 deg.
  • In a medium bowl, combine wet ingredients - sour cream, milk, and vanilla - set aside
  • Mix dry ingredients in a medium bowl - set aside
  • In a separate bowl, cream butter and sugar until fluffy.
  • Add eggs to butter and sugar one at a time
  • Blend in dry and wet ingredients, alternatively - set aside
1 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
4 tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
½ tsp vanilla extract 
  • Blend all ingredients until smooth.
  • Roll into one inch balls
  • Place 1 tbsp cake batter into cupcake liner
  • Place filling ball in liner
  • Cover filling ball with cake batter
  • Bake 18-22 min.
3 cup powdered sugar
2 (8 oz) packages of cream cheese at room temp
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temp
1 cup creamy peanut butter

  • Beat all frosting ingredients until smooth and desired consistency.
  • Pipe on top of completely cooled cupcakes.
  • Add garnish
garnish (optional):
18 mini peanut butter cups
chocolate sprinkles 

Will be shared on Homemade Hoosier 19th June Cupcake Tuesday (button in side bar) 

Coca-Cola Cake!!

"Baking with colas began as a popular Southern tradition and has been around ever since" - Warren Brown

This recipe came from 'United Cakes of America' by Warren Brown.  I was feeling the need to use my new (albeit very plain - much to my chagrin) cake stand, so I decided to make this cake.  My son asked me why I was making a cake, and for what occasion?  My daughter replied, "just 'cause she wants to make us something yummy to eat!"  She was so right! It turned out beautifully and it was delicious! ~Janet

Dry ingredients:
2 cup flour
3 tbsp cocoa powder
½ tsp salt
1 ½ cup mini marshmallows
Wet ingredients:
1 cup Coca-cola
¼ cup milk
Creaming ingredients:
12 Tbsp (1 ½ sticks) butter
2 cup superfine granulated sugar (caster sugar)
2 eggs

·  Preheat oven to 335 deg.
·  Grease two 9X2 in round pans and line with parchment paper
·  Combine dry ingredients and wet ingredients in separate bowls and set aside
·  Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Process on low speed for 3-4 min.
·  Add the eggs to the creamed butter one at a time.  Let the first one incorporate before adding the second.
·  Alternately add the dry and wet ingredients about a quarter at a time with out pausing between additions
·  Divide batter into prepared pans and bake for 30 min, or until edges come away from the pan or a toothpick comes out clean from the center.
·  Cool cakes until they are cool enough to touch and then invert onto plates.
·  Allow cakes to cool completely before assembling the cakes with frosting.  If desired, finish the cake by adding chocolate curls on top and mini marshmallows along the sides.  Create the curls by running a veggie peeler along the side of a good-quality chocolate bar, allowing a curl to form.  Allow curls to fall all over cake.  

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Butter cream
(makes 4 cups)

1 cup milk
3 tbsp flour
1 tbsp coca powder
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract (optional) but I added
1-3 oz bittersweet chocolate melted and cooled (optional) but I added

·  Quickly whisk together 4 tablespoons of the milk and the flour. The slurry will be somewhat thick, so whisk thoroughly to make a smooth paste.  Press out any lumps with a spatula, if necessary. (It wasn't for me)
·  Whisk in the rest of the milk and the coca powder and transfer to a 2 quart heavy bottom pan.  Bring to a simmer for about 30 sec. over medium heat, stirring constantly.
·  Remove pan from hear, cover with a lid, and cool for 15-30 min. 
·  Meanwhile, combine butter and sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer with a paddle attachment and beat on high speed.
·  Add the contents from the pot to the mixer and continue to beat on high speed until the butter cream is smooth, about 5 minutes. (Don't worry!  Your liquid-y frosting will firm up with continued beating!) Scrape the sides of the bowl as necessary. Beat in the vanilla and chocolate if using.  *I used 3 ounces of Ghirardelli chocolate and the frosting turned out SO yummy!

 source(s): United Cakes of America: author Warren Brown