Cookies & Cream Cake

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Screenshot_2016-08-08-20-25-10-1[1] 10/08/2016

The chocolate sponge in this recipe is my new go to chocolate sponge now. It is everything you want a chocolate cake to be; chocolatey, rich, cakey, moreish, amazing. The coffee intensifies the chocolate flavour and the buttermilk adds a fudginess to the overall bake. Team that with a slathering of Oreo cookie, cream cheese icing and you’re onto a winner. This recipe makes enough for a massive 4 layer cake so feel free to half the amount if you don’t want something quite so extreme. I made the full amount but made two cakes – one to keep and one to take to work – the lucky devils!

Ingredients:

For the chocolate sponges:

  • 300ml vegetable oil, plus extra for greasing
  • 400g plain flour
  • 130g cocoa powder
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 560g light brown soft sugar
  • 400ml buttermilk
  • 200ml strong coffee
  • 4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs

For the icing:

  • 150g stork baking margarine
  • 400g icing sugar
  • 180g tub full-fat cream cheese
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 pack Oreo biscuits (I used chocolate stuffed Oreos)

Method:

  1. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan. Grease and line two 20cm cake tins with baking parchment – if your cake tins are quite shallow, line the sides to a depth of at least 5cm. Put 200g flour, 65g cocoa powder, 2 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda, 280g light brown soft sugar and 1 tsp salt in a bowl and mix well. If there are any lumps in the sugar, squeeze these through your fingers to break them up.
  2. Measure 200ml buttermilk, 100ml coffee, 150ml oil and 2 tsp vanilla in a jug. Add 2 eggs and whisk until smooth. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and whisk until well combined. Pour the cake mixture evenly into the two tins, and bake for 25-30 mins until risen and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool in the tins for 10 mins, then turn out onto a wire rack, peel off the baking parchment and leave to cool.
  3. Repeat steps 1 and 2, so that you have 4 sponge cakes in total. These sponges can be made up to three days ahead and will stay moist if wrapped in cling film, or you can wrap well and freeze for up to two months.
  4. To make the icing, put the butter in a large bowl and sieve in half the icing sugar. Roughly mash together with a spatula, then beat with a wooden spoon until smooth. Add the cream cheese and sieve in the remaining icing sugar, mash together again, then blend once more. Put the Oreos in a food processor and whizz to fine crumbs. Add the biscuit crumbs to the icing and mix again until combined.
  5. To assemble the cake, stick one of your sponges to a cake stand or board with a little of the cream cheese icing. Use roughly half the icing to stack the remaining cakes on top, spreading a generous amount between each layer. Pile the remaining icing on top of the assembled cake, and use a palette knife to ease it over the edges, covering the entire surface of the cake. Tidy the plate with a piece of kitchen paper.
  6. If you have any leftover Oreos, break them into pieces and push these around the base of the cake.Alternatively, use mini Oreos.

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Someone’s lucky day!

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Double Chocolate Pistachio Shortbread Cookies

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IMG_20151128_151233[1] 28/11/2015

I felt like making cookies today but wanted something more than a standard chocolate chip mix and pistachios and dark chocolate is what I had in the cupboards. It’s a combination that goes really nicely together. The rich dark chocolate and salty roasted nuts are great together in a buttery, chocolate shortbread round. An impressive, tasty bake with minimal effort required – Result!

Makes 12-15 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups plain flour
  • ¼ cup coarsely ground pistachios
  • 10 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 3 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • ¾ cup light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ⅔ cup 60% dark chocolate chips
  • Coarsely ground pistachios, for garnish

IMG_20151128_151315[1]

Instructions:

  1. In a large food processor, process the butter and brown sugar.
  2. Add the egg and egg yolk, processing until combined.
  3. Add the flour, pistachios, cocoa, bicarbonate of soda and salt, and process once more. Scrape the sides of the processor.
  4. Place dough mixture into a medium bowl, and add the chocolate chips. Gently combine until evenly distributed.
  5. With a sufficient piece of parchment paper, wrap the dough into a round log, about 2.5″ in diameter.
  6. Place in freezer for 20 minutes.
  7. Preheat oven to 170C.
  8. Cut the cookie dough off the log in even pieces, about .8″ or so apart, and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  9. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until slightly browned. They will firm up once taken out of the oven.

Outrageous Chocolate Cookies

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IMG_20151103_114926[1] 03/11/2015

Called outrageous chocolate cookies, these cookies definitely deserve their name for being outrageously attractive. The pictures don’t even do them justice: these cookies look really pretty in real life, like small pieces of cake covered in a very thin layer of chocolate. If you want an easy to make cookie that’s all chocolate and yet looks attractive and tastes like a soft and chewy piece of a very good chocolate cake – try these, I beg you!

Remember, these are supposed to be soft and chewy, with only the top of the cookie that’s crunchy. So to have the success with these cookies, make sure to:

1) Melt the chocolate in step 1 just enough to mix, and when you mix it in and if the batter seems runny due to hot chocolate, allow the batter to cool down for some time to harden up. By allowing the cookie batter sit for a while, the hot melted chocolate will cool down and harden the cookie dough.

2) Beat your eggs and sugar in step 3 really well, until light and fluffy – otherwise the dough will be too thin.

3) Do not over bake the cookie. The cookie should not be dry. It should still be soft and brownie-like after 12-15 minutes of baking.

4) To avoid cookies spreading too thin during baking, make sure to follow all of the steps above, and also use cold baking sheets.

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup plain flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 12 oz semisweet chocolate chunks or chocolate chips

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 170C. Heat 8oz semisweet chocolate chips and butter in a microwave-safe bowl in 20-second increments, stirring between each, until almost melted. Make sure not to over melt the chocolate, melt it just enough to mix.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In a mixing bowl, beat eggs, brown sugar, and vanilla on high speed really well, until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low; beat in melted chocolate (remember, the melted chocolate should not be too runny). Mix in flour mixture until just combined. Stir in chocolate chunks (or chocolate chips). If your batter is too runny (due to over melting the chocolate in step 1), let the batter stand for some time to get hard.
  4. Spray baking sheets with cooking spray. Drop tablespoons of dough onto cold baking sheets 2 inches apart. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until cookies are shiny and crackly yet soft in centres, 12 to 15 minutes. Do not over bake the cookies, the texture should still be soft, that of a brownie, when you take them out of the oven. If you overcook them, they will be too hard. Do not bake them to a crisp, they are supposed to be soft.
  5. Cool on baking sheets 10 minutes; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

These cookies keep well for a week in an air-tight container.

Melting Moments

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IMG_20151015_222840[1] 15/10/2015

Yet another basic recipe with store cupboard ingredients that tastes absolutely amazing. Don’t be scared of using lard. It gives a wonderful crisp finish to the bake. I also recommend using almond extract. It works really well with the little buttery bakes which, as their name states, melt away when you bite.

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ oz butter or margarine
  • 2 ½ oz lard
  • 3oz caster sugar
  • ½ egg, beaten
  • Few drops of vanilla or almond extract
  • 5oz self raising flour
  • Rolled oats for coating
  • 4-5 glace cherries, quartered

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease 2 baking sheets. Cream together the butter or margarine, lard and sugar then gradually beat in the egg and vanilla or almond extract.
  2. Stir the flour into the beaten mix then roll into 16-20 small balls in your hands.
  3. Spread the rolled oats on a sheet of greaseproof paper and toss the balls in them to coat evenly
  4. Place the balls, spaced slightly apart, on the prepared baking sheets. Place a piece of cherry on top of each and bake for 15-20 minutes until lightly browned. Allow the cookies to cool for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

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Pinwheel Cookies

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IMG_20150930_085150[1] 30/09/2015

A really simple but impressive looking biscuit recipe here for shortbread biscuits. One is flavoured with vanilla, the other with chocolate. Can’t decide which one to have? Roll them up into funky looking wheels and have both!

Makes about 20

Ingredients:
Vanilla biscuit dough:

  • 50g softened butter
  • 25g caster sugar
  • 25g cornflour
  • 50g plain flour
  • ½ large egg
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Chocolate biscuit dough:

  • 50g softened butter
  • 25g caster sugar
  • 25g cornflour
  • 40g plain flour
  • ½ large egg
  • 15g cocoa powder

Method:

1. Firstly, make each of the doughs by creaming the butter and sugar together, mixing in the egg, sifting the dry ingredients over the top and mixing until the dough comes together.

2. Wrap each dough separately in glad wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes until firm.

3. Flour your work surface lightly and roll each dough out (separately) to a piece 25 x 18cm . Place the vanilla dough on top of the chocolate dough and roll up tightly. Re-wrap the roll in glad wrap and place back in the fridge to chill for a further 30 minutes.

4. Pre-heat your oven now to 180°C and remove the dough from the fridge, cutting 20 slices and placing them on a lined baking tray. Make sure the dough is very firm before you start cutting the biscuits or else, again, they may become misshaped.

5. Bake for 20 minutes or until the vanilla biscuit is golden brown. Cool on a wire rack and serve, warm or cool, with a cuppa.

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Chocolate Crackle Tops

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IMG_20150727_173248[1] 28/07/2015

Can’t decide between a brownie, a cookie and a cake? Make these! They’re a combination of the three. A real chocolate hit in a little ball of rich cakey goodness.

The chocolate mix is rolled into balls then coated in icing sugar before baking which produces a contrasting crackle across the surface of each cookie as they bake and the sweetness of the sugar is lovely with the bitter chocolate.

Makes 32 (approx)

Ingredients:

  • 200g plain chocolate, 85% cocoa, chopped
  • 90g unsalted butter
  • 115g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 215g plain flour
  • 25g unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 100g icing sugar, for coating

Method:

  1. In a medium saucepan over a low heat, melt the chocolate and butter together until smooth, stirring frequently.
  2. Remove from the heat. Stir in the sugar and continue stirring for 2-3 minutes until the sugar dissolves. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and stir in the vanilla.
  3. Into a bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Gradually stir into the chocolate mixture in batches until just blended.
  4. Cover the dough and refrigerate for at least 1 hour until the dough is cold and holds its shape.
  5. Preheat the oven to 160C. Grease 2 or more large baking sheets. Place the icing sugar in a small, deep Using a round teaspoon, scoop cold dough into small balls and, between the palms of your hands, roll into 1 ½ inch balls.
  6. Drop each ball into the icing sugar and roll until heavily coated. Remove with a slotted spoon and tap against the side of the bowl to remove excess sugar. Place on the prepared baking sheets 1 ½ inches apart.
  7. Bake the cookies for 10-15 minutes until they feel slightly firm when touched. Remove and allow to cool for a couple of minutes then transfer to a wire rack with a palette knife to cool completely.

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These are best on the day of making but freeze well if you manage not to eat them all at once.

Tollhouse Cookies

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IMG_20150616_172218[1] 25/06/2015

After a short break, moving house and no internet connection, I’m back with a baking vengeance bringing you all things tasty!

Who isn’t a fan of squidgy cookies filled with good things? I thought these would be a good start to try out the oven in my new house. I nearly grilled them but got there in the end and was left with soft, gooey chocolate cookies.

You can add any chocolate chips you like. I used a bag of white and a bag of milk chocolate chips. Add nuts if you like too. I think walnuts would be really nice in these. The dark brown sugar is definitely a must here as it gives the cookies an amazing rich treacle flavour.

Makes 24

Ingredients:                                                          

  • 4oz butter or margarine
  • 2oz granulated sugar
  • 3oz dark brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 ½oz plain flour
  • ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 6oz chocolate chips
  • 2oz walnuts, chopped (optional)

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Line 2 baking trays with greaseproof paper.
  2. Cream together the butter or margarine and the two sugars until the mixture is light and fluffy
  3. Break the egg into the bowl and add the vanilla extract. Beat this into the mix. Sift over the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt. Stir to blend.
  4. Add the chocolate chips and walnuts (if using) and mix to combine thoroughly.
  5. Place heaped teaspoonfuls of dough 2 inches apart on the prepared trays. Bake for 10-15 minutes until lightly coloured. Allow to cool for a few minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.