Caramel Popcorn Cake

DSC_9959title Ryno’s birthday was nearly a month ago already and I am only getting around to share the special cake I made for him now. That is how behind on blogging schedule I am! But better late than never! I copped out and bought a box cake because I actually like this particular one and it is quite affordable. I just add one extra egg.

Any vanilia sponge cake recipe should work though!

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I made two layers of vanilla cake and a whole lotta buttercream icing that I flavoured caramel. Inbetween the two layers I put some homemade toffee sauce. I used this recipe which actually tastes great with just about anything!

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I finished it off by garnishing with caramel popcorn, which was a great addition! I would just advise you to leave it off until right before you eat it. Or you can create a nice little challenge for yourself. Hint: it involves eating an entire cake in one day!

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Chocolate Macarons

wpid-wp-1420535635406.jpegBoth my cousin and I love baking, so on a recent visit we decided to attempt macarons. She had never had much success with them and I could also do with some practice. Despite the fact that we learned the importance of the bicarb, our somewhat sad looking macarons tasted heavenly! DSC_7540small

Ingredients

Macarons

  • 90 g almond powder, sifted
  • 100 g Castor sugar
  • 10 g high quality cocoa powder
  • Pinch of Bicarbonate Soda
  • 2 egg whites
  • 50 g Castor Sugar

Filling

  • 55 g butter, room temperature
  • 100 g icing sugar
  • 20 g cocoa powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 20 g dark chocolate, melted
  • 1 tbs vanilla extract

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Method

Macarons

  1. Prepare your baking tray. Line it with baking paper and spray it with non-stick spray.
  2. Sift together the almond meal, cocoa powder and icing sugar, at least twice.
  3. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form and then add the Bicarbonate soda and castor sugar.
  4. Beat until hard peaks form and then gently fold in the almond meal and icing sugar mixture as well as your flavouring and colourant.
  5. Pipe out a few round macaron shells on your prepared tray. Try spacing it equally and to stick to one size. We pencilled out some circles on the other side of the paper which made it easier.
  6. Give the baking tray a gentle whack on the kitchen counter underneath all rows of macarons.
  7. Set the oven to 160C and leave the macarons outside whilst the oven preheats, for about half an hour.
  8. Bake for 6 min on one side and turn around before baking for another 6 min on the other side.
  9. Place on wire rack to cool before filling it.

Filling:

  1. Beat the butter, icing sugar and cocoa powder together.
  2. Add the eggs one by one.
  3. Melt the chocolate and add it to the mixture.
  4. Beat until it becomes light and fuffy.
  5. Finally, assemble your macaron shells by piping a fair amount of icing on one side of the macaron. There should be more than enough to go around and have a few taste testers!
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Chocolate & Almond Biscotti Recipe

DSC_1359If you follow this blog regularly, you’ll have noticed that I reserve a special place in my heart (in my stomach) for Italian cuisine. Naturally Biscotti, something between a rusk and a biscuit, is one of my favourite treats. This is the ultimate indulgent snack for winter. It is sweet, filling and ideal for dipping into coffee. The best part is how easy it is to make as you literally just throw it all together and mix before baking. 
DSC_1363aIngredients:

  • 100 g almonds, diced
  • 100 g milk chocolate chips or diced milk chocolate slab
  • 430 g flour
  • 15 ml baking powder
  • 300 g castor sugar
  • 5 ml cinnamon
  • 4 eggs
  • 45 ml butter, melted

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 160C and prepare a baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Sift together all the dry ingredients and add the almonds and chocolate.
  3. Beat the eggs and butter in a separate bowl and add to the dry ingredients. Mix until it forms a big piece of dough
  4. Divide into two pieces and press and roll it out into two long ‘french loaf’-type shapes.
  5. Bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown. Remove and leave to cool completely.
  6. Slice thin slices of biscotti (approximately 5 mm) with a sharp knife.
  7. Spread out on baking tray and bake for a further 20 minutes or until crispy at 60C.
  8. Let it cool and serve with coffee.

 

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Chocolate Chip Cookies

1I love chocolate chip cookies, but it’s pretty difficult to find some store bought ones that are perfect. I hate it when it tastes of margarine or isn’t crispy enough. Seeing as they don’t stock FOX biscuits in SA anymore (their choc chip is the best), I decided to try and recreate them. I was slightly disappointed in Woolworths’ ‘Chocolate chips’ (as they clearly took the name a bit literally), but they were still satisfactory. I just prefer larger chunks of chocolate, so next time I’ll hunt down the real thing.

3Ingredients:

  • 1 1/8 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 100 g butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips (dark & milk)

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Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180*C and prepare a baking sheet with baking paper and Spray & Cook.
  2. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.
  3. Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla extract. Add the egg and mix it in.
  4. Combine the flour,choc chips and butter mixture in an electric mixer or rub it in.
  5. Once it resembles wet sea sand, start compressing it into a ball.
  6. Divide into equal sized balls and press flat in the palm of you hands and arrange on baking tray.
  7. Bake for about 15 min or until golden brown before letting cool on a wire rack.

4Makes about 20 cookies.

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Chocolate Soufflé

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Souffles have a reputation for being exceedingly difficult to make, but I promise that this recipe is fool proof. I made this a couple of weekends ago and it was just what was needed to keep the cold at bay. Similar to a chocolate mousse, a soufflé feels light and airy with the only difference being that a soufflé is served hot instead of cold. It is the hot air which gives a soufflé the ability to rise and as soon as the hot air escapes, it will collapse.

The recipe consists of two parts: a custard or crème pâtissière, which can be made up to 2 days ahead of time, and whipped egg whites.

Crème Pâtissière Ingredients:

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 60 g castor sugar
  • 20 g plain flour
  • 280 ml milk
  • 1 vanilla pod or 5 ml vanilla extract
  • 7 g butter

Method:

  1. Whisk together the egg yolks and half the sugar until pale and creamy. Sift in the cornflour and flour and mix together well.
  2. In a large saucepan, heat the milk, remaining sugar and vanilla pod.
  3. Bring it just to the boil and then slowly strain it over the egg mixture, stirring continuously.
  4. Pour it back into the saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring. It might be lumpy at first, but it will become smoother as you stir.
  5. Boil for 2 min and then stir in the butter.
  6. If you plan on storing this, leave it to cool before covering with plastic wrap and storing in the fridge.

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Soufflé Ingredients:

  • Non-stick Baking Spray
  • 80 g castor sugar
  • Crème Pâtissière
  • 45 g Cocoa Powder
  • 40 g dark chocolate, melted
  • 6 egg whites
  • 3 tbsp castor sugar
  • icing sugar, for decorating

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 190 °C.
  2. Prepare 8 ramekins by spraying them with non-stick spray and then fill them with castor sugar, tilting the ramekin from side to side to ensure that the entire inside is covered. Gently tip any excess sugar out of the ramekin. This will ensure that the souffle doesn’t stick to the sides of the ramekin as it begins to rise. Place a baking tray in the oven to heat up.
  3. If you let the Crème Pâtissière cool down, heat it up in a double boiler, stirring. Add the cocoa powder and melted chocolate and mix well. Remove from heat.
  4. In a large bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually whisk in the sugar, until firm soft peaks form. (Don’t create stiff peaks, which are only suitable for hard meringues.)
  5. Stir in half the egg whites in the Crème Pâtissière to loosen it. Gently fold the remaining egg whites in in a figure 8 motion.
  6. Once you’re sure that its well mixed, fill the ramekins about 3/4.
  7. Place the dishes on the hot tray and bake for 15-18 min. They should be well risen and wobble when tapped. A test skewer should come out clean.
  8. Serve immediately, dusted with icing sugar.

 

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Vanilla Pink Ombré Cake

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I’ve been wanting to make a pink ombré cake for a while, but finally decided to do it this past week as the internet had been down for a few days. I’ve never baked something so visually pleasing and impressive that’s been so easy.

I usually prefer baking a cake from scratch, but I decided to try this particular cake mix after spotting it in the kitchen of a very popular patisserie.  I was quite impressed with the fact that even though it was one of the cheaper cake mixes it included the icing mix which was also vanilla flavoured. If you want to bake a cake from scratch, I can recommend this cake recipe from Martha Stewart which you can just adjust according to the recipe below.

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Ingredients for Cake:

  • 1 Packet Vanilla Cake Mix( I used Golden Cloud’s)
  • 3 eggs
  • 150 ml Sunflower oil
  • 200 ml Milk

OR Follow the Martha Steward recipe

  • Crimson Liquid Food Colouring

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and prepare three 20 cm cake tins by lining them with baking paper.
  2. Mix the cake batter according to the packets instructions. I added an extra egg and a little extra milk to the mix to ensure a I get a soft, moist cake.
  3. Divide the cake batter equally into three bowl. Add a few drops of food colouring to each bowl, increasing the amount so that you get three different shades of pink. Bear in mind that the finished cake will be slightly lighter than the batter.
  4. Pour the batter in to the cake tins and bake for about 10-15 min.
  5. Let cool on a wire rack covered with a damp cloth.

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Ingredients for Buttercream Frosting:

  • 100 g butter, softened
  • Packet of Golden Cloud icing mix or 200 g of icing sugar and a drop of vanilla essence.
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • a drop of Crimson Liquid Food Colouring

Method:

  1. Beat the softened butter and slowly add all the icing sugar or mix.
  2. Once its all been blended add the milk slowly to reach the correct consistency. It should be soft and airy but still able to hold its shape.
  3. Finally add a small drop of food colouring to create a soft pink colour and mix it in.

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Assembling the cake:

  1. Begin with the darkest layer of cake and cover the top with a thin layer of icing to about 1/2 cm from the edge using a palette knife. I used a regular knife instead, but a palette knife does give the smoothest results.
  2. Place the medium coloured layer on top of the darkest and repeat the icing process.
  3. Finally place the lightest layer on top and begin icing the top with about a third of the remaining icing. Use the last bit of icing to cover the sides of the cake, which require the most icing.
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Spinach and Cheese Muffins

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Being the sweet tooth that I am, I was very reluctant to try a savory muffin at first. This however is no ordinary savory muffin as the creaminess of the feta combined with the crispy texture of the nutty wheat flour totally won me over. Now I cannot imagine any other muffin being more suitable for brunch/lunch. I also make a sweet variant of this muffin with nuts, cranberry, all spice and orange peel that smells all Christmassy- perfect for those extra cold winter mornings.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup Nutty Wheat flour
  • 2 tbs castor sugar
  • 4 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/3  cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup spinach, finely chopped and wilted
  • 100g feta cheese, crumbed
  • 1 cup Cheddar cheese, finely grated

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Steps:

  1. Sift all the dry ingredients together.
  2. Mix the egg, milk and butter and stir into the dry ingredients.
  3. Add the spinach, feta and most of the cheese and stir in.
  4. Divide into muffin pan and add a little bit of the grated cheese on top of each muffin.
  5. Bake at 180°C  for 15-20 min or until golden.

Makes 12 small muffins or 6 large ones.

PS: These are great when frozen once cooled off and can be defrosted and heated in the microwave without sacrificing its texture.

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Breakfast Flapjacks

100_0212Breakfast is my favourite meal of the day because it is the closest you can get to having dessert as a meal!  Flapjacks served with syrup being one of my favourite sweet treats. Americans might know this better as pancakes, but in South Africa pancakes refer to crêpes and we call this flapjacks. Name calling aside, this recipe is really easy and super quick- perfect for the sweet tooth.

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs, large
  • 125 ml sugar
  • 300 ml milk
  • 25 ml butter, melted
  • 500 ml flour
  • 10 ml baking powder
  • 5 ml oil

To serve:

  • Strawberries, diced
  • Syrup
  • Someone to serve this in bed

Steps:

  1. Beat the eggs and sugar together. Then add the butter and half the milk.
  2. Sift all the dry ingredients together and it to the egg mixture.
  3. Add the extra milk until you have a smooth batter.
  4. Preheat a pan on medium heat with the oil. Bake the batter in the pan. Flip the flap jacks once small bubbles have appeared on top.
  5. Serve with syrup, strawberries and sieved icing sugar.

Makes about 15 yummy flapjacks of medium size. Enjoy!

 

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