January 26, 2015

Peanut Butter Double Choc Chip Cookies

I make no secret about my love of peanut butter, and these cookies satisfy my cravings.  The combination of whole peanuts, dark chocolate chips as well as white chocolate chips really make them great.

Recipe adapted from: Brown Eyed Baker
115g butter
185g peanut butter
125g brown sugar
80g white sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla essence
200g flour
30g cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarb soda
2/3 cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 white chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanuts

1. Preheat oven to 175C (350F).  If desired, at this time you can toast the peanuts under a grill or in a frying pan and then set them aside to cool.

2. Beat the butter, peanut butter, brown sugar and white sugar until light and fluffy.

3. Add the eggs one at a time, beating in between the additions.

4. Beat the vanilla essence in.

5. Stir the flour, cocoa powder (it's best if you sift the cocoa!), baking powder and bicarb soda into the wet mixture.

6. When all ingredients are combined, add the dark and white chocolate chips as well as the peanuts.

7. Roll the dough into balls about 1 tbsp size (or whatever size you want them, just make sure you adjust the baking time accordingly) and place them on a baking tray covered with baking paper or a silicone mat.  The oil from the peanuts may make the dough slide off them (especially if the nuts are toasted), but just squish them together in your hands and they'll be fine!

8. Bake the cookies for about 10 minutes.  You want the middles to still be a bit soft.

9. Let them cool (or eat them straight away...) and enjoy!

January 12, 2015

Chocolate Nutella Layer Cake

This cake is definitely a winner - the cake itself is so moist and the icing is lighter, fluffy and delicious.  It's definitely one I'll make again and again!

Recipe adapted from: Sweetapolita
Ingredients - 21cm round cake
285g flour
470g caster sugar
90g cocoa powder
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
300mL buttermilk
180mL coffee (I use instant granules and hot water)
160mL vegetable oil (I use canola oil)
3 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla essence

Ingredients - Nutella icing
565g icing sugar
340g butter (room temperature)
280g Nutella
180mL sour cream
330g dark chocolate
1 tbsp vanilla essence
Pinch of salt

Method - cake
1. Preheat the oven to 175 C (350 F).  Butter three 21cm cake tins and line the bottoms with baking paper.  Using more tins helps your cakes bake quicker and more evenly.

2. Mix the dry ingredients (flour, caster sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt) in an electric mixer with the whisk attachment.

3. In another bowl, combine the rest of the cake ingredients (buttermilk, coffee, oil, eggs and vanilla).  Beat them gently, make sure to break up the egg yolks.

4. Add the wet mixture to the dry and mix until fully combined.  The batter should be pourable and runny.

5. Separate the batter between the cake tins (if you're using three tins, each should have about 600g of batter) and bake for about 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with just a few crumbs.

6. Let the cakes cool in the tins, then invert them onto wire racks.

Method - Nutella icing
1. This is seriously easy.  Melt the chocolate, when once it's a little cool, put all the icing ingredients in a food processor.  Process until the icing is smooth.

2. Refrigerate the icing for about 15 minutes, until it's a good spreadable consistency.

Method - assembly

1. On your desired cake plate, layer up the completely cooled cake layers with a generous helping of the Nutella icing in between each layer.

2. Finish off by completely icing the outside of the cake, and decorate to your tastes (or leave it plain - that looks good, too!)  I decorated this cake with silver and blue cachous, as well as small silver sprinkles.


January 3, 2015

Chocolate Whoopie Pies with Cream Cheese Icing

There's something so compelling about whoopie pies; they're the soft sweetness of cake with all the delicious icing, but in a no-fuss package.  You don't need to mess around with plates and knives and forks with these babies, just pick them up out of their container and eat them.  I hope that you enjoy this easy recipe!

Recipe adapted from: Top With Cinnamon via My Name Is Yeh
Ingredients - whoopie pies
110g butter
1 tsp vanilla essence
220g white sugar
2 eggs
50g sour cream
2 tbsp cocoa powder
250g flour
1 tsp baking powder

Ingredients - icing
38g butter (room temperature is best)
75g cream cheese (room temperature is best)
1 tsp vanilla essence
75g icing sugar

Method - whoopie pies
1. Preheat the oven to 175 C (350 F).

2. Cream the butter, vanilla and sugar until light and fluffy.

3. Add the eggs and sour cream, beat until combined.

4. Stir in the cocoa powder, flour and baking powder.  Mix until combined and smooth.  The batter should be nice and thick at this point.

5. Drop 1 1/2 tablespoon sized dollops of batter onto a baking tray lined with a silicone mat or baking paper.  I used a piping bag for this, which is super quick and convenient, but you can just as easily use a spoon.  The whoopie pies spread a bit so make sure you leave enough room between them.

6. Bake the whoopie pies for about 10 minutes, or until they are springy to the touch.

7. Set them onto a wire rack to cool, and get started making the icing!

Method - icing
1. Mix all the icing ingredients together.  I find that using an electric hand beater or electric mixer is best for this, to ensure that everything's completely smooth.

2. Once the whoopie pies are cool, pair them up and spread one half of each pair with the icing.

3. Sandwich them together and enjoy!

I hope that you all had a great holiday and new year!

December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Have a safe and happy holiday season!

December 21, 2014

Lemon Sour Cream Tea Cake - light and fluffy perfection

I can hardly believe that it's almost Christmas again.  It's been a pretty huge year for me on a few levels, so I'm quite happy and relieved that it's coming to an end so that I can refresh myself.

The things that have been baking in my house around Christmas are, as always, stacks of gingerbread (here's my recipe post from back in 2010!).  Mum and I have made close to ten gingerbread houses and so many cookies (mostly trees and reindeer); all the recipients of the cookies have been very appreciative.  I brought some in to my new workplace and that was a great conversation starter!

For Christmas day itself, we have a long lunch with our family and we're usually in charge of dessert.  This year, I'm making a mud cake and Mum will whip up some pavlovas in addition to a big gingerbread house.

If you're still looking for something to bake for Christmas (or just for general snacking!), I would highly recommend this lemon tea cake.  It's beautifully moist and fluffy, as well as nice and simple to make - and most importantly, it tastes divine.

Have a lovely holiday season, everyone, stay safe and eat lots of yummy food!

Recipe adapted from: The Australian Women's Weekly Cakes & Slices Cookbook
Ingredients (27cm round cake - 1/2 a batch makes one 22cm round cake)
250g butter
Zest of two lemons
500g caster sugar
6 eggs
350g flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
200g sour cream

1. Preheat the oven to 170 C (340 F).  Grease a 27cm round tin with butter and line the bottom with baking paper.

2. Cream the butter, lemon zest and sugar until light and fluffy.  I use the whisk attachment on my Kitchenaid for every process in this cake.

3. Beat in the eggs one at a time.

4. Beat in half the sour cream, then half of the flour.

5. Beat in the remaining sour cream, then the remaining flour and the baking powder.  I use the whisk attachment on a low setting for this to ensure that everything is combined.

6. Spread the batter into your cake tin and bake for about 1 1/2 hours or until the top of the cake is golden and an inserted toothpick comes out with just a few crumbs.

7. Let the cake cool in the tin and then invert onto a wire rack or your desired serving plate.

8. To serve, you can simply dust the cake with icing sugar...

...or for a bit more flair, make up a glaze with lemon juice and icing sugar.  I recommend placing the cake on a wire rack and glazing it before transferring it to your serving plate so that the drippy glaze doesn't run everywhere.

December 13, 2014

Captain America & Winter Soldier Sugar Cookies

Ever since I saw this video, I'd been longing to create my own Captain America shield cookies.  To spice things up a little, I thought I'd also attempt Winter Soldier cookies inspired by Bucky's metal arm.

While I made these cookies with only cookie dough and food colouring, the same effect could be achieved by using coloured royal icing - however, I find that the cookie-only method provides a seamless blend between the colours and looks nice and natural.  I absolutely adore the way that they turned out!

I hope that you'll enjoy seeing how I created these cookies.  This simple sugar cookie recipe can also be used as a base for so many different creations.

Recipe adapted from: Gorgeous Biscuits by Family Circle
125g butter
125g caster sugar
1 egg
1/4 tsp vanilla essence
250g flour
2 tsp baking powder

Method - basic sugar cookies
1. Preheat the oven to 180 C (355 F).  Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

2. Add the egg and vanilla, beat until combined.

3. Fold in the flour and baking powder until a soft dough forms.

4. At this point, you can colour the dough with food colouring if you like.
Then, roll the dough between two sheets of baking paper until it's about 5 mm thick.  Cut out your desired shapes with cookie cutters, place the cookies spread out on a baking tray and bake for about 12-15 minutes (until the cookies are light golden brown).

Method - Captain America shield & Winter Soldier cookies
The basic method I followed is shown here by Rosanna Pansino making Captain America ice cream sandwiches.  I definitely recommend watching the video to get a visual idea of what I did, though I'll go through it step by step below.

I started by making a double batch of dough, then dividing my dough into portions.  The smallest was coloured blue, medium amounts coloured black and grey, a medium amount left white and the largest amount coloured red.  To create the grey, I just used a small amount of black food colouring. 

I rolled small portions of the dough out and used a small star cookie cutter to make the stars for the centre of the cookies.  I baked these first so that I knew what size I needed to make the circle parts of the cookies.

To make the main part of the Captain America cookies, I rolled the blue dough into a log about the size of the star.  I froze the log while I mixed an egg white with a small splash of water to make an egg wash so all my different colours stuck together properly.

I rolled out some of the red dough into a sheet, then brushed the dough with a small amount of egg wash and rolled it around the blue log.  I put that in the freezer and repeated the process for the white and the rest of the red, until finally I had a complete log!  (For the Winter Soldier, I followed the same method with the grey and black dough).

I let that freeze some more, trying to take the log out and roll it every now and then to keep from forming a flat side.  You can also freeze it in a hand towel roll or something of the sort if you have it on hand so that it can rest in something curved.

After the logs had hardened sufficiently (I left mine in the freezer for a few hours while I went to work), I used a large, sharp knife to cut them into slices about 5 to 6 mm thick.  I baked the cookies for about 15 minutes.  The baking process made them spread out a bit and form nice circles when, as you can see from the photo above, they were far from perfect right after they were cut.

Once the cookies were cooled, I attached the stars.  I recommend using royal icing for this part, as it will ensure you get a cement-like seal and the stars won't go anywhere.

I'm rapt with how these cookies turned out - they were exactly how I wanted them to be and they looked amazing!