Sunday, 16 November 2014

Hummingbird Cake

Recently after a couple of days away from home, I returned to find a surprise gift from my mum.
Jamie Oliver's Comfort Food book!! I literally screamed with excitement! Not only was it a lovely lovely surprise to come back to, but i am super obsessed with the new comfort food series!

Okay and I admit I am guilty of pretty much forcing my mum to watch the recorded series with me. While she is too polite to tell me that it's fine for me to watch it quietly on my own, she also lets me rewind, play, rewind again, play..  just so I get to listen to the recipe properly.

It's good I got the book now, so I won't be harassing her with that any more! The rewinding and pausing I mean, not the watching of the episodes- we're still going to do that! :-P

The good thing about these recipes are that even though they are a bit time consuming and super indulgent (comfort food being the key word here)- they are actually doable! It's totally possible to come up with an awesome result at the end!

The first recipe I tried out was the lovely Hummingbird cake! Packed with bananas and pineapple and pecans, this cake is amazingly delicious! The cream cheese frosting makes it very indulgent and the best bit? The pecan brittle on top that I admit to being super proud of!!

All these components together make the perfect combination of a sweet, indulgent, fruity cake topped with the perfect amount of crunch!

On a side note- not completely relevant but I shall add it anyway, My baby boy made us sing happy birthday to him three times while cutting the cake!..and it wasn't even his birthday cake! I guess it would be safest to just bring a ready sliced cake in front of him. I would- but seeing his face light up in delight EVERY SINGLE time is totally worth it :-D
Alhamdulillah!

I will be posting about his epic chocolatey Nutella cake soon!!

Anyway- the recipe for the Humminbird cake can be found here !

Make it!! not only is it fun to make but it is also going to make everyone very happy!!





Pecan Brittle


Ingredients:

For the cake:

250 ml olive oil, plus extra for greasing 
350 g self-raising flour 
1 level teaspoon ground cinnamon 
350 g golden caster sugar 
4 medium-sized very ripe bananas 
1 x 425 g tin of pineapple chunks 
2 large free-range eggs 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
50 g pecans

For the icing:

400 g icing sugar 
150 g unsalted butter, (at room temperature) 
200 g cream cheese 
2 limes

For the Brittle:

100 g caster sugar 
50 g pecans

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. Grease and line two 23cm round cake tins. 

Sift the flour and cinnamon into a mixing bowl, then add the sugar and a large pinch of sea salt. 

Peel the bananas and mash them up with a fork in another bowl.

 Drain and finely chop the pineapple and add to the bananas with the oil, eggs and vanilla extract. Mix until combined, then fold into the dry mixture until smooth. Finely chop the pecans and gently fold in, then divide the batter evenly between your prepared tins. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until risen, golden and the sponges spring back when touched lightly in the centre. 

For the icing, sift the icing sugar and add the butter and beat until the mixture is pale and creamy.

Add the cream cheese and finely grate in the zest of 1 lime and add a squeeze of juice.
Beat until smooth, but don't over mix it. keep it in the fridge while moving on to the next step.

To make a brittle topping, place the caster sugar in a non-stick frying pan on a medium heat and shake flat. (Jamie adds a splash of water to this, but that doesn't work well for me- so do whatever suits you).

Swirl the pan occasionally until dissolved and lightly golden. Add the pecans and a pinch of salt.

Stir around to coat, and when its finally nicely golden, pour onto a sheet of oiled greaseproof paper to set. Once cool, smash up to a dust- or a bit chunkier the way I prefer it! You don't need to use all of this so you can set some aside for other desserts!

Assemble the cake by placing one sponge on a cake stand or a plate and spread with half the icing. Top with the other sponge and then spread over the rest of the icing.

Grate over the zest of the remaining lime and finally, sprinkle over the brittle.

This cake is absolute genius.. make it..then; 'serve in a bluebell wood on a fallen tree, as you do'-  ;-)

-S

Friday, 29 August 2014

Hot Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough...

Eight years ago, which was around the time I got engaged, I was crazy in love with Pizza hut's cookie dough dessert. 
It was this thick, soft, gooey, chocolatey and hot cookie with crispy edges. 
Topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and hello heaven!!

Even though I would eat super super healthy (as all brides-to-be do :-P) and go to the gym four times a week, this was the one dessert that I would ALWAYS succumb to. A trip to Pizza Hut with the family meant me skipping my meal and eating a plain salad so I could indulge in the dessert. 

Yup I'm all about priorities!! :-P

I haven't had Hot cookie dough for years at Pizza Hut.

That's because I make it home!.. and may I just take a moment to say... It's bloody brilliant!!!.. And no I'm not being vain because it isn't my own recipe, I found it on another blog :-P

Sooooo yummy!!! 






Ingredients:

125 grams butter
100 grams caster sugar
100 grams light brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 tsp salt
225 grams self raising flour
100 grams chocolate chips

Method:
Preheat the oven to 200C.

In a large bowl, mix the butter, caster sugar and light brown sugar with a electric hand held mixer. Add the egg and vanilla and mix again. Finally, add the flour, salt and chocolate chunks.

Divide the batter in to however many portions you like. This makes about four generous servings.
I made a large portion for sharing with half the batter.

Place it in the preheated oven on 200C for eight minutes.
Lower the oven temperature to 180C and leave inside for a another 7-8 minutes. It should then be golden brown but still soft.

Serve hot, straight from the oven with vanilla ice cream and drizzle with chocolate sauce or some warmed Nutella.

Go nuts!!! :-D

This is a super yummy, indulgent and amazing dessert!! So easy to make at home and a real crowd pleaser. 


-S 

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Strawberry tarts! :-)

First of all I want to take a minute to thank all of you who who have been messaging me and commenting on the blog! Thankyou!! :-)
It is such a lovely feeling when people tell me the blog has been coming handy to them or that they enjoy reading my ramblings. I really really appreciate it! And I'm really sorry for not posting for so long :-(

..Okay okay I admit it. This time it's been unacceptably long since I blogged. I wanted to. I HAVE been baking and cooking and stuff.. I've just had some sort of a mind block.
I don't know how to write anymore. Well maybe it's sleep deprivation.
Yes it WAS sleep deprivation.
And I have one kid! ONE!
May I take a moment to take my hat off to all those mummy's out there.. Especially those with more than one little kid!.. And if you mums manage to leave the house without wearing your clothes inside out.. I ADMIRE you!

:-D

(Nope I Haven't left the house with some part of my outfit inside out. I'm totally put together and with it!) :-P

Okay, so I've been obsessed with trying to get pastry shells for tarts rights. I've tried a couple of recipes..and made mistakes. Plus I really need to make a trip to the shops to invest in some baking beans. I think they will do a world of good!

Today I finally made strawberry tarts that I was pleased with!! Yay!!!
The strawberries are simply gorgeous right now and I devoured a large amount while cutting and washing them.

At least they are healthy!

I got the recipe for the sweet short crust tart from JoyofBaking who makes totally awesome videos for all her recipes. The recipe yields five small pie shells or one large one.

My pastry shells :-D





Ingredients for the short crust base:

1 1/2 cups (195 grams) plain flour
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter at room temperature
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated white sugar
1 large egg, beaten

Method:

In a separate bowl, whisk your flour and salt.

Place your butter in a bowl and beat with a hand mixer until softened. Add in the sugar and beat till light and fluffy.
Gradually add the beaten egg till just incorporated.
Add the flour mixture all in one go and mix until just combined.
Flatten the pastry in to a disk and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 15-30 minutes or place in the freezer for 10-15 minutes.

Lightly butter your tart pans or spray with a cooking spray.

Once the pastry has chilled sufficiently, evenly pat it onto the bottom and sides of the tart pans. If rolling it is easier for you instead, then go for it! When that is done, cover it in plastic wrap again and  place in the freezer for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 205 degrees C and place the rack in the centre of the oven.

You may either place a sheet of baking paper on your pie crust and weigh it with baking beans or prick the bottom of the pastry crust with a fork to prevent it from rising.
Bake the shells for five minutes and then reduce the oven to 180C.  Remove the baking beans if you have used them and continue to bake for another twenty minutes until the crust is golden and baked.

Since we will be filling the crust with a creamy mixture, seal it by glazing the baked crust with an egg white glaze. You may wish to put it back in to the oven for a minute or so.


Whilst the tarts are baking in the oven, I sliced some large strawberries and left some whole. I placed them on a large plate and sprinkled them generously with caster sugar and placed it in the fridge so the strawberries would sweeten and produce a syrup.

For the cream base I went for a quick and easy cheesecake style base that I filled my short crust case with.

Ingredients for filling:

150grams cream cheese
4 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon icing sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Some vanilla essence

Method:
Place all the ingredients except the lemon juice in a bowl and stir. Gradually add the lemon juice while stirring thoroughly.
Taste the mixture and add more lemon juice if needed. You don't want it to be too too sweet!
The mixture should be slightly runny but will firm up when refrigerated in the tart shells.

For the top of the shells:

A 375ml tub of double cream whipped to stiff peaks with about two tablespoons caster sugar.

Finally assemble the tarts once the short crust case is cooled.

Pour in the cream mixture at the bottom of the tarts. Pipe on the sweetened double cream on top generously and then place the strawberries on top!

You may wish to pour a little of the strawberry syrup on top of the tarts to make them extra yummy :-)

These were totally awesome and I can't wait to make them again!! They're super easy to make and SO good!

 Totally worth it :-)

-S


Monday, 16 June 2014

Naan khatai biscuits

Sometimes I just want a quick recipe that I can whip up in no time and that still produces great results.
A while back I had posted a naan khatai (better than shortbread) recipe that produced AMAZING buttery, crunchy cookies. These are literally large golden coins of crumbly, buttery goodness.

The only downside is the entire process that is a bit time consuming as well as the time set aside for refrigeration, which frankly speaking I don't have much of anymore.
With a curious little Snugglebug always up to something or the other, I constantly have to have my eyes on him!!

These cookies that I recently got the recipe of are perfect!
Not only are they ridiculously easy to make, but they require the simplest of ingredients that are pantry staples.

While they are baking in the oven, the most gorgeous buttery aroma will fill your house and.. I do not exaggerate: when you bite in to these gorgeous little biscuits, they literally melt and disappear in your mouth!!
They are divine!! Not to mention, Snugglebug is addicted to them!!
Nothing better than treating my baby to homemade goodies made with love and knowing exactly what has gone in to them!!

This recipe yields about thirty gorgeous little biscuits.

It's remarkable how such amazing results can be achieved by such little effort!






Ingredients:

250 grams butter salted
150 grams sugar
400 grams plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 egg

Method

Cream butter and sugar till fluffy.
Beat egg and gradually add the flour and baking powder. Finally, shape the dough in to little balls and place them on your lined baking tray.
For reasons unknown to mankind (or maybe they are known but I'm too lazy to find out), these cookies traditionally have tiny stamp of food colouring on top. You can add or omit this step because it doesn't make any difference to the taste!!

Bake on 150 degrees for 35mins- they carry on cooking once you remove them from the oven but when they are cooled and if the center is still soft, put them back in the oven for another 15 minutes.

Make a piping hot cup of sweet Desi tea, settle down comfortably with your favourite book or movie and enjoy nibbling on these crazy yummy cookies :-)

-S

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

New York Cheesecake

New York Cheesecake

For a couple of years while growing up, I didn't have a normal cake for my birthday. As per my request, I had strawberry cheesecake :-D
Yup!!! Now THAT was worth the calories!
A quick, fifteen minute recipe for cheesecake has always been my go to for dessert when we entertain guests but a baked cheesecake? Now I wanted to try that!!

What better incentive than my lovely sister who had come to visit? We all love desserts and I was going to make the perfect New York Cheesecake for her!!
After looking through hundreds of recipes I finally came across this one!
Not too difficult and AMAZING results!!! Creamy and gorgeous with a perfect hint of lemon!
I made a strawberry sauce to accompany it though.. Because everyone knows my relationship with strawberries :-) 

The only thing to bear in mind is that you must prepare this dessert a day before serving so that it has enough time to sit in the refrigerator.

I'm looking forward to making it again..mmm :-)



Ingredients:

FOR THE CRUST

85g butter melted, plus extra for tin
140g digestive biscuits , made into fine crumbs
1 tbsp sugar , granulated or golden caster

FOR THE CHEESECAKE FILLING

3 x 300g/11oz pack Philadelphia cheese , or other full-fat soft cheese
250g golden caster sugar
3 tbsp plain flour
1½ tsp vanilla extract
finely grated zest of 1 lemon (about 2 tsp)
1½ tsp lemon juice
3 large eggs , plus 1 yolk
284ml carton soured cream

FOR THE SOURED CREAM TOPPING

142ml carton soured cream
1 tbsp golden caster sugar
2 tsp lemon juice

Method:

Position an oven shelf in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to fan 160C/conventional 180C/gas 4. Line the base of a 23cm springform cake tin with parchment paper. 

For the crust, melt the butter in a medium pan. Stir in the biscuit crumbs and sugar so the mixture is evenly moistened. Press the mixture into the bottom of the pan and bake for 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack while preparing the filling.

For the filling, increase the oven temperature to fan 200C/conventional 240C/gas 9. In a table top mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the soft cheese at medium-low speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. 
With the mixer on low, gradually add the sugar, then the flour and a pinch of salt, scraping down the sides of the bowl and the paddle twice.
Swap the paddle attachment for the whisk. Continue by adding the vanilla, lemon zest and juice. Whisk in the eggs and yolk, one at a time, scraping the bowl and whisk at least twice. Stir the 284ml carton of soured cream until smooth, then measure 200ml/7fl oz (just over 3⁄4 of the carton). 
Continue on low speed as you add the measured soured cream (reserve the rest). Whisk to blend, but don't over-beat. The batter should be smooth, light and somewhat airy.

Brush the sides of the springform tin with melted butter and put on a baking sheet. 
Pour in the filling - if there are any lumps, sink them using a knife - the top should be as smooth as possible. Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to fan 90C/conventional 110C/gas 1⁄4 and bake for 25 minutes more. If you gently shake the tin, the filling should have a slight wobble. 
Turn off the oven and open the oven door for a cheesecake that's creamy in the centre, or leave it closed if you prefer a drier texture. 
Let cool in the oven for 2 hours. The cheesecake may get a slight crack on top as it cools.
Combine the reserved soured cream with the 142ml carton, the sugar and lemon juice for the topping. Spread over the cheesecake right to the edges. Cover loosely with foil and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight.
Run a round-bladed knife around the sides of the tin to loosen any stuck edges. Unlock the side, slide the cheesecake off the bottom of the tin onto a plate, then slide the parchment paper out from underneath.

For the strawberry sauce, I boiled some strawberries with sugar, a little water and some corn starch mixed with water.
I let it boil for about 10 minutes and crushed the strawberries slightly.
Let it cool and serve.

-S




Monday, 17 March 2014

Caramel and pecan brownies

Moving house is not easy. Nope.

It's even more difficult when you have a little Snugglebug you'd rather be spending time with instead of packing.

Plus you don't get any down time. As soon as Snugglebug is asleep we are busy packing and bubble wrapping and taping everything. You know what that means? No time to bake :-(

A couple of nights ago, the taste tester wanted dessert. Usually I have a couple of dessert slices in the freezer for such 'emergencies', but this time we were all out.

This was the best opportunity to convince him that I would bake. Ten minutes!!! That's all I asked for. Usually 'ten minutes' in the kitchen means half an hour but this time it actually meant eight. That's right. EIGHT minutes to whip up the batter for the yummiest brownies ever.

I then stuck it in the oven and ran for my shower.
It was in the oven for precisely sixteen minutes!!!
They came out hot and gooey and yummy and amazingly perfect. When cooled, they were firm enough to cut in to little squares.
Remember, the best brownies are ready just as soon as they go past the 'undercooked' stage. The skewer should still have moist crumbs when inserted.

The amount of sugar in these is not as much because of the caramel. It had to balance out otherwise it would be way too sweet!






(The taste taster has declared these to be some of the worst pictures I have taken! Oh well :-P )

Ingredients:

-almost 3/4 cup butter
-1/2 cup cocoa powder
-2 eggs beaten
-1/4 cup sugar
-1/2 cup flour
-1 tsp vanilla essence
-1/2 tsp salt
-4 tablespoons Dulce de leche
-100grams pecans chopped

Method:
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
Line a baking dish with grease proof baking paper. I just cut a large sheet of the paper and crumple it into a ball as run in under water and then squeeze the water out. The open it up and line the dish that you are using. An eight inch tray would be good for this. The smaller the tray, the thicker the brownies and the longer the baking time.

Melt the butter in the microwave.

In a bowl, combine the cocoa powder with the melted butter completely.
Add in the sugar and stir.
Then add in the beaten eggs and stir till totally combined.
Add in the flour, vanilla essence and salt and stir to combine completely till you can't see any lumps of flour.

Fold in the pecans.
Pour the batter on to your baking dish.

Heat up the Dulce de leche slightly in the microwave till it's runny.

Pour it all over the brownie batter and swirl it around with a fork.

Stick it in the oven and let it bake for about fifteen minutes. It's ready once the skewer inserted has moist crumbs.

Serve it warm with ice cream while the caramel is still yummy and melty.

MmmMmmm

Enjoy :-)

-S

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Chocolate Fudge cake..and a very very special 1st birthday :-)

A couple of months back we celebrated my baby boy's first birthday! 

The last year since we welcomed him in to our lives has been the quickest, most amazing time of our lives. 
All thanks to God for granting my family with such an amazing blessing.  Every moment of mine is filled with happiness and complete amazement at how such a little human being is growing right in front of our eyes.  Along with his development and curiosity comes a lot of crashes and bangs and mess and fun. 
Alhamdulillah I can not thank God enough! For his birthday we chose to invite family over and spend the day enjoying each other's company and showering our Snugglebug with lots of love (and gifts!). 

Since I am absolutely rubbish at decorating cakes, the task of creating him a birthday cake that was decent to look at was quite daunting.

Usually all I care about is the taste, but this time it had to look special and I had to make it myself! I contemplated different shaped cakes, from a dinosaur to Elmo but at the end I decided I wanted to enjoy making a cake that is me and that everyone will enjoy eating. Luckily for me all our family are chocoholics which made the entire task so much easier :-)

I decided on a deep, fudgey, ultra chocolatey cake covered in chocolate ganache and surrounded with chocolate fingers. I also loaded the top with Maltesers and chocolate buttons. The colour theme for the party was brown, blue and green so I just added some M&Ms for a pop of colour. This was the final result and I was very pleased with it :-) 
I then topped it with a matching topper that I designed and a blue star candle. All Done!! Yay!!




Ooey Gooey Fudgey Chocolatey goodness!! :-)

By the end of the day we all were on a chocolate high including Snugglebug who had free reign since it was his birthday! The recipe for the cake was the fudge cake that my mum used to make when we were kids and brought back so many beautiful memories. That's what food does. It brings back the fondest of memories of us spending time around the table with our families and as children. I'm going to keep making this cake for my baby boy as he grows so he can create memories of it as he grows just as I did! :-)

Ingredients:

4 eggs
3 level cups granulated sugar
3 cups plain yogurt
3 and a half cups plain flour
2 tsp salt
2 and a half tsps bicarbonate of soda
1 cup cocoa
8oz butter/margarine
2 tsps vanilla essence

Place all the ingredients in to a large mixing bowl and mix together with a hand held mixer.
Bake on 180 degrees for about 40 minutes. It depends on your oven. Be very sure to remove the cakes just as soon as they are done or they will become dry and cake rather than fudge and yum.

Enjoy :-)


-S

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Chocolate Hazelnut Caramel bars

When I first got in to baking a couple of years ago, I came across some amazing recipes and some that were definitely a fail. Sometimes picking recipes from the internet doesn't quite work out, and after a couple of flops I turned to watching tv shows that showed you the entire process of making something.

That's when I came across Rachel Allen's recipes. They were awesome! I spent my relaxing time watching her baking programs..  and that's when I saw it!! 
She baked- Chocolate Hazelnut Caramel Bars.

Yup. Even the name sounds crazily, mouth-wateringly tempting! 

The great thing was the straightforward recipe. Yes it was a bit of a process because of the layers and quite time consuming but I simply HAD to try it! ASAP!!!

The base is a dense, chocolatey brownie.. Topped with a golden, chewy, gorgeous caramel that's folded with toasted hazelnuts...
and then a thick layer of chocolate. Here I don't go for dark chocolate but for pure Cadburys Dairy milk!
Just to add to the indulgence :-)

This is without a doubt, my MOST favourite and decadent recipe ever!


You need to try it. Now. Go!



Apologies for the HIDEOUS photography lol

Ingredients:

For the chocolate base:
200 g butter
50 g cocoa powder
300 g caster sugar
2 free range eggs (beaten)
225 g plain flour
125 g butter

For the hazelnut caramel layer:
397 g tin condensed milk
2 tblsp golden syrup
75 g caster sugar
125 g toasted and halved hazelnuts

For the chocolate topping:
200 g dark chocolate (chopped)
1 tblsp sunflower or vegetable oil 


Method: 

Preheat the oven to 160°C (325°F, gas mark 3) and line the base or grease a small Swiss roll tin measuring 20 x 30cm (8 x 12in). 

In a medium-sized saucepan over a medium heat, melt the butter for the chocolate base, stir in the cocoa powder and then the sugar and mix until smooth. 

Remove from the heat and stir in the eggs until mixed and then the plain flour. Spread the chocolate base over the prepared tin and bake in the oven for 20 mins until firm on top. 

Remove from the oven and set aside to cool while you make the hazelnut caramel layer. In a medium-sized saucepan and over a medium heat, melt the butter and then add the condensed milk, golden syrup and sugar. 

Turn the heat to low and stir continuously for 12-15 mins until the mixture is dark caramel in colour - do not let it burn. Remove from the heat and stir in the nuts. 

Spread evenly over the chocolate base and allow to cool. Meanwhile, melt the chocolate in a bowl sitting over a saucepan of simmering water (also known as a bain marie). 

When it is melted, stir in the oil and then pour over the caramel layer and smooth out, leaving to cool and set. Cut into squares. These will keep for a week in an airtight container... If they last that long!  

Enjoy :-) 



-S