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Life happens. Chocolate helps.

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It’s Mother’s Day! Did you get coffee in bed and boxes of chocolates this morning? No, neither did I. Don’t worry though, I have baked the perfect solution and won’t be sharing them. Muwhahaha.

I’ve actually gone to bake these cookies so many times over the last few weeks, but the white chocolate chunks have never lasted long enough to make it into the cookie batter rather than straight into my mouth. However time is running out in the Comic Relief Bake Off Challenge, so I’ve had to stop eating ingredients and actually start baking things.

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Bake #8 – Aztec Cookies (Chocolate and Espresso flavoured cookies with white chocolate chunks). They are almost brownie like in texture – although that could be something to do with my over enthusiasm with the balloon whisk attachment of my new hand mixer. Definitely one to be baked again, should I ever manage to resist the bars of white chocolate hidden in the fridge.

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Enjoy!

Mummy Bear x

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Double whammy

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I had a minor panic yesterday in realising that it was in fact, already March, and I was only 4 bakes into the Great Comic Relief Bake off Challenge. It’s not going too well.

March 1st was also Granny Bear’s Birthday, and I had promised her cake. See where I’m going with this?! I do LOVE being efficient.

So, to kill a couple of birds with one stone and feel better about it aleady being March, we baked two of the recipes. Although, I didn’t intend to bake two for Granny Bear initally. More about that later.

First up are the Carrot Cake Muffins. I thought I was being clever in buying some ridiculously expensive Wilton tulip muffin cases in contrasting royal blue to make the orange-ness of the carrot cake stand out. However, they did not live up to their promise and just look grease stained and awful. I feel thoroughly cheated and will never impulse buy cake cases again.

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This carrot cake recipe is very different to the one I usually follow, I won’t post it because I’m all for raising the money for charity, but I will say it used shredded bran, and called for a flavoured cream cheese centre.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all up for new ideas. But preferably ones that work. It’s like a Carrot cake with a cheesecake centre. Which I guess it ok if you like baked cheesecake, but I think I’ll stick to using cream cheese in frosting. And the Primrose Carrot cake recipe.

Which is why I decided to try another recipe as well (and it also ticked bake #6 off the Comic Relief Bake Off Challenge)

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This is the Mocha Marble Loaf cake. Except, as you can see, it is not a loaf cake. Loaf cakes take a LONG time to bake. And Baby Bear is nowhere near patient enough to wait 90 minutes for cake. And Mummy Bear has no loaf shaped cake box. And besides, as I’ve said before: (Almost) everything is better in miniature.

So they are in Bear-y cake form, and it’s safe to say the marbled chocolate coffee sponge with white chocolate frosting far FAR better that the Carrot cake muffins. And no silly greasy tulip cases in sight.

We halved the recipe and it made 12 Bear-y cakes….. just remember to also halve the amount of cocoa powder and vanilla essence first time round. Unlike Mummy Bear.

So all that is left to say is: Happy Birthday Granny Bear!

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Mummy Bear x

Easy like a Sunday morning…

As Daddy Bear was drinking his coffee yesterday, he began moaning (as all men do) about the apparent lack of biscuit to accompany said coffee. I offered him some chocolate courgette cakes and he laughed in my face (Baby Bear gets his distaste for vegetables from his father) I offered to bake him some lavender shortbread, and he asked me if he looked like a bumble bee. I gave up and went back to explaining to Baby Bear why throwing remote controls out of the bedroom window was a little bit naughty.

A few minutes later I heard banging and rummaging coming from the kitchen, and my heart leapt into my mouth. On closer inspection I could see Daddy Bear was about to open the avalanche cupboard. (You know the one I mean, the one where you open it to get the baking powder out and every single ingredient jumps out into your half mixed batter secretly willing you to use it!) I stepped in and rescued the situation by volunteering to find everything he needed, and discovered that he had taken it upon himself to bake biscotti. Somewhat generously I offered to help, but was brushed aside with sweeping statements of ‘it’s just following a recipe. I can read.’ and ‘How hard can it be?!’ to which I beat my hasty retreat. I did however manage to grab the recipe he was loosely using (from BBC Good Food).

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Almond Biscotti

145g blanched whole almonds (Daddy Bear used 100g of sliced almonds, because this is what I found in the avalanche cupboard)

1 tsp baking powder

1/8 tsp salt (Daddy Bear just turned the salt mill twice)

260g all-purpose flour (Daddy Bear used regular plain flour, and added an extra 80g whilst trying to ‘roll’ it)

150g granulated white sugar

3 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp almond extract

Preheat the oven to 180C and toast the almonds on a baking tray for 8 minutes, then remove from the oven and leave to cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 150C.

In a measuring jug, lightly beat together the eggs vanilla and almond extracts. Daddy Bear used a mixing bowl, and then realised a few steps later that her had run out of mixing bowls for the next steps, hence me suggesting to use a measuring jug!

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder and mix until evenly blended. Gradually add the egg mixture and beat until a dough forms. At this point Daddy Bear was losing his enthusiasm for the task and dumped the whole egg mix into the flour in one go. I can say it made no real difference! As the dough begins to come together, add the toasted almonds and then continue to combine the mixture. It will get to the point where it is too thick for a spoon, and at this point Daddy Bear finished off combining it with his hands.

It then started to go a little wrong for Daddy Bear. I could tell this was happening because the decibel levels from inside the kitchen were increasing at an alarming rate and becoming frequently punctuated with  profanity. I went to see what was causing the outburst, and was met by the greeting: ‘Roll???!!! How on earth to they expect me to roll this stuff??’ accompanied by the frantic waving of very sticky dough covered fingers. I suggested he pop a little more flour into the dough and then just shape it onto the greaseproof paper as well as he could. Much muttering under the breath ensued, followed by a cloud of flour. The dough was shaped and in the oven.

The dough should be shaped into a log about 35 cm long, and 10 cm wide. Daddy Bear’s was a bit shorter and fatter, but to be honest, he’s not that great with measuring. More on that later. Bake the dough in the centre of the oven for 40 minutes, and then remove and leave to cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.

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The next step in the recipe advises to cut the baked log into slices 1/2 inch thick diagonally and arrange on a baking tray. Well, after the sticky fingers fiasco and near miss avalanche, I was subtly making excuses to sneak into the kitchen and steal a glance and came across this:

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After quietly pointing out that the slices might be a little on the thin side, Daddy Bear insisted I get a ruler to measure them. Turns out I was right, and Daddy Bear has been vastly under estimating the size of an inch. [Insert your own jokes here]

Once arranged on the baking tray, return to the oven and bake for 10 minutes on each side (until they are very firm) and then remove from the oven and cool.

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Enjoy on a Lazy Sunday Morning with a good coffee and an even better book. Who am I kidding? I wolfed these down this morning in between retrieving the tv remote from various window ledges and trying to explain to Big Bear where heaven is EXACTLY. 

They were good. But Daddy Bear moaned. Turns out he’s ‘not a squirrel’ either.

Mummy Bear x

Oh, let the Jameson sink in, I drink to that…

Last October I went to Dublin for the weekend with Auntie Bear, and it was brilliant – I’d recommend it for a weekend away to anyone. (Mostly because it’s a lot nearer than New York, and easier to get around than Paris.) Whilst there we went on the Jameson Irish Whiskey factory tour, which taught us what we needed to know about the differences between a whiskey, a whisky and a bourbon (and let us taste lots.)

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This was a very cunning ploy, because once you entered the gift shop at the end of the tour, you had a couple of whiskeys on your breath and everything was looking a little more rosey. Which is how I ended up with 3 different types of Jameson Whiskey bottles sat on my kitchen shelf at home, several months later. And somehow, it just doesn’t taste the same when you’re not in Dublin.

So to soothe my conscience that I hadn’t just wasted my money in buying them, I decided the best thing to do would to use them in baking. Of course. Also, you may have gathered from my previous posts that I have a thing about turning drinks into cupcakes – Pina coladas, Cherry cola, Dandelion and burdock, Cosmopolitans and now Irish Coffee cupcakes.

Lots of recipes I looked at had Baileys in as well, which slightly annoys me, because the real ingredients in an Irish Coffee are coffee, sugar, whiskey and cream. No Baileys. I’m sure it would taste delicious with Baileys in as well, but yes, I am slightly pedantic. In the end I didn’t follow one specific recipe, but more improvised with what I knew already.

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Irish Coffee Bear-y Cakes

80g Stork

280g Golden Caster Sugar

240g Self Raising flour

240ml Whole milk

1/2 tsp vanilla essence

2 large eggs

20g instant espresso powder

400ml double cream

75g icing sugar

1tbsp Jameson Irish whiskey (or to taste)

Espresso powder for dusting

Preheat the oven to 170C. In a large bowl beat together the Stork, flour and sugar using an electric mixer until they resemble fine breadcrumbs. Heat the milk gently in a pan (we have no microwave at the Bear’s house, but you could use one) and stir in the espresso powder until fully dissolved. Leave to cool adding the two eggs and vanilla essence to it. Beat the liquids until just combined with a hand whisk.

Add half the milk mixture to the bowl of ‘breadcrumbs’ and beat with the electric mixer on a low spread until combined. Then add the rest of the milk mixture and beat on a low speed again. Use an icecream scoop to measure equal amounts of batter into approximately 16 muffin cases.

Bake in the oven for about 20-25 minutes, until the tops start to turn golden and are springy when you touch them. To test if they are definitely cooked through use a toothpick and insert it into the palest cake. If it comes out clean with no crumbs, it’s cooked! Leave them to cool in the muffin trays- this should stop the cakes shrinking too much and peeling away from the wrappers. If you’re really impatient like me, pop them outside to cool faster.

Whilst the cakes are cooling, beat the double cream and the whiskey in a large bowl until it forms stiff peaks, and then stir in the icing sugar by hand using a spatula. Fill a piping bag with the cream, and once the cakes have cooled, pipe a generous swirl on top of each one. I used this nozzle for these cakes, because I wanted a voluminous look to the cream, and then sprinkled a dusting of espresso powder on top, just to give it some colour.

Obviously, the beauty of these is that you can adjust the strength of the coffee or the booziness of the cream to your individual tastes, although I would be weary of adding too much alcohol to the cream because it would prevent it from whipping so stiffly. And anyone who hasn’t been to Dublin, go!

Mummy Bear x

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