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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

Challenge Accepted

Mummy Bear has given up Facebook for lent, and is trying to develop new ways in which to procrastinate and NOT write an essay on the role of the professional practitioner in implementing the Early Years Foundation Stage.

Therefore we have decided to take up the Comic Relief Bake Off Challenge, and bake every recipe in the Great Comic Relief Bake Off book before Red Nose Day. Which gives us 25 days to bake 14 recipes. SIMPLES. Except at some point – next week- everyone goes back to school, which really only gives us 10 days. As Gimli would say: “Certain chance of death. Small Chance of success. What are we waiting for?”

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First up: Sticky Brownies.

I’m not going to share the recipe, because you NEED to buy the book, it’s all for charity. But, I will say we adapted the recipe a TEENY bit, in that we had no vanilla essence, so we used orange extract. And it said to add either chocolate chunks OR nuts. We added white chocolate chunks AND chopped hazelnuts. Because Baby Bear isn’t really one for following rules. And because Granny Bear had provided us with plenty of both.

So, one down, 13 to go. I fear a food coma coming on.

Mummy Bear x

1-UP!

1-UP!

These were another item which Big Bear had requested for his party. However, I was making these after a full day at work on two hours sleep, (thanks to Baby Bear) so it’s safe to say they are not the most complex or beautifully finished bear-y cakes I have ever made! Which is just as well, seeing as they got well a truly bashed about in Daddy Bear’s rally driving attempt to get to the party in time.

The 1-UP! cupcakes were made using a simple vanilla batter in white paper cases filled slightly fuller so the made a dome shape on top of the cake. They were then spread with green vanilla buttercream using a butter knife, and topped with 3 white chocolate buttons each. I used a edible black ink pen to draw the two eyes on each paper case after decorating it, and then breathed a sigh of relief as yet another party snack was finished!

Mummy Bear x

Soggy Bottoms and an Eton Mess

I was concerned about the Olympic shaped void in my evenings after the closing ceremony this Sunday. But fear not it seems, as The Great British Bake Off has returned to fill my evenings with burnt crusts and soggy bottoms. To say I was excited was a minor understatement! To celebrate this fact, and to have something to stop me from licking the TV screen and drooling on the sofas whilst watching the programme, I decided I would have to bake something. Something new, for a new series, but something with a little bit of Britishness in. Is Britishness even a word?!

Anyway, a while ago someone had shared a photo with me of some cookie cups. Before this, I had no idea they existed. My life is definitely more complete now. I loved the idea of them, but wanted to make them when I knew exactly what I wanted to fill them with (and not being a huge fan a chocolate, ruled out a lot of the ideas!) And then suddenly I was inspired – what could be a better British flavour than Eton Mess Cookie Cups! For those of you who are Cookie Cup virgins, these are what my empty cups look like. See, now you understand my filling dilemma – the possibilities are endless!

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Eton Mess Cookie Cups

115g salted butter at room temperature

200g caster sugar

1 large egg

200g plain flour

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1/4 tsp baking soda

60g packet of Strawberry fruit chunks

120g good quality white chocolate (because the cheaper brands just burn) chopped into chunks

300ml double cream

1 pack of fresh raspberries

Mini meringues (you could make these, but I already had a tub, so was lazy!)

Cream the butter and the sugar in a large mixing bowl. I don’t bother to get my electric mixer out for this part of the recipe because it only takes a minute to mix the whole dough together, even with my weakling arms. Add the egg into the mixture and beat again.

Sift the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda into the mixture, and then combine with a wooden spoon. to Get the last bits to combine fully, just use your hands – it’s much easier! Pop all the fruit chunks and the white chocolate chunks into the dough and kneed with your hands until they are evenly mixed throughout the cookie dough.

Take a chunk of dough, approximately the size of a golf ball, and pop it into a one of the holes in a muffin tray. Use your hands to roughly squash it down just so it fills the bottom. Repeat for the rest of the dough, which should fill about 16 muffin holes.

Bake in the (fan) oven at 170C for approximately 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and use the bottom of a spherical measuring spoon (I used the Tala tablespoon) to press a dip into each of the still warm cookies. Leave to cool completely before removing from the muffin tins. The best way to remove the cookie cups is to press down on them gently and twist, which will free the base, and then you will be able to lift them out without breaking.

Whip the double cream until it forms stiff peaks (Yes, I did use the electric whisk for this, as otherwise I would be unable to move my arms for at least a week afterwards!) and then fill a piping bag with it. I didn’t have any piping bags left, so I just filled a sandwich bag with the cream and then snipped of the corner, but it would look pretty piped with a large round nozzle, or even a large french nozzle. Pipe a little cream into each of the cookie cups, then pop a raspberry in, followed by another swirl of cream, and a second raspberry for each cup.

Finally, crush some of the mini meringues in a bowl, and then sprinkle on top of the cream in each of the cups. If you knew all of the cookie cups were going to be eaten straight way, I would mix the meringue in with the cream and then pipe them into the cups together. But as there was only myself and Auntie Bear to consume them, having 8 each would have been a tad excessive. (But not impossible!)

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And as for The Great British Bake off – I had no idea what a Rum Baba was. But it’s now on the to-bake list!

Blondies have more fun

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I used to laugh at Daddy Bear for reading non fiction computer books for ‘fun’, until he pointed out that I spent exactly the same amount of time, reading and re-reading recipe books for ‘fun’ and that I was even worse because I colour coded the recipes I wanted to try with post stick notes and annotated the sides with little comments once I’d made them. There is a point to this. Kind of.

Anyway, one of the recipes I post-sticked and then didn’t bake for ages were Blondies. I was drawn to them because they have a witty name, and also because all the recipes seemed to have copious amounts of white chocolate in. And that can never be wrong. If you’re wondering what Blondies are, they’re like brownies in texture and shape and bake, but without the cocoa making them brown. If you bake Blondies with milk chocolate chips in, they’re called Blondies with roots. Clever huh?! Well, maybe I’m just easily amused.

The reason I didn’t bake them for ages is because I could never decide exactly which recipe to use, and what types of nuts and extra stuff to put in them. It’s almost like a researched them too much. In the end I baked them on the spur of the moment, after a friend remind me about them, and only had white chocolate and walnuts in the cupboard. But it turns out it was an awesome combination which I accidentally stumbled upon, so I thought I’d share!

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White chocolate and Walnut Blondies

150g plain flour

3/4 tsp baking powder

115g butter

200g light brown sugar

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla essence

100g chopped walnuts

125g chopped white chocolate

Preheat your oven to 170C. Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl. Melt the butter in a saucepan on a gentle heat, then remove from the heat and stir in the brown sugar using a whisk. The recipe used suggested then adding the flour mix and all the other ingredients into the pan, but I hadn’t read ahead properly, so had only used a teeny tiny pan, making this impossible.

So this is what I did next: Beat the egg and vanilla into the bowl of flour, then pour in the butter and sugar mixture and mix well. Add in the walnuts and chocolate chips and mix until they’re evenly combined.

Put all of the mixture into a 20 cm square tin, spread so it’s flat and then bake in the oven for 20-25 mins until it’s golden and cracked looking on the top. Remove from the oven and leave to cool. If you’re ridiculously impatient like Mummy Bear, pop it outside to cool, or if you’re even more impatient, in the freezer. Once cool, cut it into squares in the tin, and then lift each square out individually using a flexible or slotted turner. (No, I didn’t know that that was the name of the utensil I seem to use for everything. Google knew though.)

The Blondies will be quite gooey to start with, so if you prefer them firmer, either bake for longer, or when cooled, place on some kitchen towel and leave out on the side for a couple of hours and they firm up. In fact, these seemed to be even better when eaten the next day…. it’s just making them last that long which is the issue!

Mummy Bear x

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