Caramel & White Chocolate Brownies

You may already know that I am a little bit brownie obsessed. We’ve had Malteser brownies, Snickers brownies, Cheesecake brownies, Choc-chip brookie stack an epic brownie vs. blondie bake off. The list goes on.

So when I had some left over caramel from my last bake, I knew what had to be done… Make brownies, cover them in white chocolate and drizzle the caramel on top of course!

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This time round I thought I’d mix it up and test out a new basic brownie recipe. First, I added a little cocoa powder to intensify the deep chocolate flavour and make the brownies even more fudgy. Then, I used a mix of white caster sugar and light brown sugar to give the brownies a chewy texture. The result? Heaven!

Ingredients (makes 12 large/16 small brownies) 

150g self-raising flour
50g cocoa powder
150g unsalted butter
170g 70% dark chocolate
150g white caster sugar
75g light brown sugar
2 medium eggs
200g white chocolate
Homemade/shop bought caramel sauce – if you fancy making your own check out my fool-proof recipe here.

Let’s get baking…

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a 20x20cm square baking tin with greaseproof paper.

Break the dark chocolate up into pieces and chop the butter into chunks. Put both into a medium-size bowl.

Set the bowl over a pan of simmering water on the hob and stir until melted. Alternatively, use a microwave proof bowl and melt in the microwave in 30 second blasts. Leave to cool.

In a separate bowl whisk together the two sugars and eggs until frothy. Pour in the butter and chocolate mixture, add in the flour and cocoa powder, and fold together until you have a thick chocolate mixture.

Spoon the mixture into the baking tin, spreading it out into an even layer.

Bake in the centre of the oven for 17-20 minutes. The top should no longer be shiny and the edges should be starting to crack. Leave to cool. Brownies will harden as they cool so don’t worry if they initially look under baked.

Now melt the white chocolate in the microwave and pour over the top of the brownies. Put in the fridge for 20-30 minutes to allow the chocolate set.

Finish by drizzling the caramel over the top.

 

Foolproof caramel

Ever started making caramel to find that it always ends up crystallising? I know that feeling far too well and completely understand how frustrating it can be.

So when I decided to make a Caramel Apple Cake to celebrate Bonfire Night, I sat down, did some research and decided to give it one last go. The result? Beautifully smooth, golden caramel – no lumps here!

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Time to share the secret, but before we begin, here are my top-tips:

1. Use a medium-large saucepan so the sugar becomes thinly spread along the bottom. This is help the sugar to melt evenly and stop it from burning.

2. Make sure your saucepan and utensils are completely dry and free from any debris.

3. Add a few spoons of water to the sugar before putting it on the heat. The water will help prevent crystallisation.

4. Resist the urge to stir the sugar as it melts. Simply swirl the saucepan to stop it from burning.

5. The cream and butter must be at room temperature before you add that them to the melted sugar, I would recommend getting them out the fridge at least 30 minutes before you start.

Ingredients (makes enough caramel to cover an 8inch cake, or 12 cupcakes).

200g granulated sugar
4 tbsps. water
80g butter, at room temperate
120g heavy cream, at room temperature

Method

Take the cream and butter out of the fridge and leave to get to room temperature for at least 30 minutes.

Add the sugar and water to a medium-large sized saucepan and stir until combined. Set the saucepan over a medium heat.

Leave the sugar to melt, do not stir the sugar. Simply swirl the saucepan until the sugar has melted and turns a light amber colour, similar to the picture below. Be patient, this can take a while!

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Carefully add the butter and immediately whisk until all the butter has melted.

Now remove the saucepan from the heat and slowly pour in the cream, whisking constantly until all of the cream has been incorporated and you have smooth caramel.

Pour into a bowl and leave to cool and thicken for about 5 minutes.

 

Caramel Apple Cake

Before I start to explain how insanely tasty this cake is, I have a confession… this is not my own recipe.

In fact, it’s my future Mother-in-laws, and after tasting this cake a few weeks ago I knew I just had to share it with you (Ruth I hope I’ve done it justice!).

Unlike the usual ‘cream your butter and sugar together’ method, this recipe requires you to rub the butter into the flour, coating the flour proteins in a layer of fat. The ‘rubbing-in’ method makes it harder for water to get through, resulting in less gluten and a finer, more tender crumb. Trust me once you take your first bite you will know what I’m talking about.

I decided to drizzle the cake with homemade caramel, because well you know it’s November…bonfire night, toffee apples and all that, and also I wanted to practise my caramel making skills, or lack of! For some reason it always seems to crystallize for me, but not this time I think i’ve finally cracked it 🙂 Read on to see my top tips for beautifully smooth golden caramel.

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Ingredients (makes an 8inch round cake)

300g self-raising flour
2 tsps. ground cinnamon

1 tsp. baking powder

150g unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
150g light brown sugar
2 medium eggs, at room temp
8 tbsps. milk
100g sultanas
250-300g Granny Smith Apples, peeled cored and chopped into small chunks

For the caramel drizzle

100g granulated sugar
2 tbsps. water
40g butter, at room temperate and cut into pieces
60g heavy cream, at room temperature

Method

Preheat oven to 180°C and line an 20cm round cake tin with grease proof paper. I use cake liners for ease, which can be purchased from most large supermarkets.

Mix the flour, baking powder and the cinnamon together in a large bowl.

Add the chilled butter and rub it into the flour until it begins to look like fine breadcrumbs.

Now stir in the light brown sugar.

Add the egg and milk, and mix together until you reach a smooth, thick cake batter.

Fold in the apple and sultanas until coated in mixture.

Pour the mixture into your tin and bake in the center of the oven for 40-50 minutes, until the cake has browned on top and is springy to the touch. A skewer inserted into a centre should come out clean.

Leave on the side to cool whilst you make your caramel drizzle.

For the caramel drizzle*

Add the sugar and water to a medium-large sized saucepan set over medium heat. Stir until combined.

Leave the sugar to melt, do not stir the sugar. Simply swirl the saucepan until the sugar has melted and turns a light amber colour, similar to the picture below. Be patient, this can take a while!

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Carefully add the butter and whisk until all the butter has melted.

Now remove the saucepan from the heat and slowly pour in the cream, whisking constantly until all of the cream has been incorporated and you have smooth caramel.

Pour into a bowl and leave to cool and thicken for about 5 minutes. Using a spoon, drizzle the caramel over the cake.

*here are my top-tips for smooth, golden caramel – no lumps here! 

1. Use a medium-large saucepan so the sugar becomes thinly spread along the bottom. This is help the sugar to melt evenly and stop it from burning.

2. Make sure your saucepan and ultensils are completely dry and free from any debris.

3. Add a few spoons of water to the sugar before putting it on the heat. The water will help prevent crystallisation.

4. Resist the urge to stir the sugar as it melts. Simply swirl the saucepan to stop it from burning.

5. The cream and butter must be at room temperature before you add that them to the melted sugar, I would recommend getting them out the fridge at least 30 minutes before you start.

 

Vampire Cookies

If you’re having a Halloween party this year, fancy making something fun with the kids or are just craving some cool looking cookies, this is the recipe for you!

Soft baked chocolate chip cookie ‘mouth’, sandwiched together with red icing ‘blood’, marshmallow ‘teeth’ and white chocolate button ‘fangs’. Even Dracula himself will want to sink his teeth into this bake!

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Ingredients (makes 12-14 cookies)

160g unsalted butter
100g caster sugar
200g light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 medium egg
1 egg yolk
250g self-raising flour
100g milk chocolate chips

Decoration 

White mini-marshmallows
Milky-bar buttons
Red icing (made from icing sugar, water and red food colouring)

To make the cookies…

Preheat oven to 170°C and line two baking trays with grease proof paper.

Melt the butter in 20 second blasts in the microwave until it turns to liquid. Now mix the melted butter with the two sugars.

Add in the vanilla extract, egg and egg yolk and mix together.

Fold in the flour until the mixture comes together to form a dough. Now fold in the chocolate chips.

Take a heaped tablespoon of cookie dough and drop the mixture onto the prepared baking tray. Do not flatten the dough. Repeat this step, leaving about 8cm between each cookie, until all the cookie dough has been used up*.

Bake the cake in the centre of the oven for 12-14 minutes, until the cookies are lightly browned on the edges (the middle will still be soft). Cool for 1-2 minutes on the baking tray, then transfer to a cooling rack.

*You may have to bake in batches depending on the size of your oven and baking trays. I  had four cookies on each baking tray to allow enough room for them to spread out when baking. 

For the decoration… 

First create the ‘fangs’ by chopping a chocolate button into thirds. Discard (or eat) the centre third, leaving the two outside thirds as your pointy ‘fangs’.

Cut a cookie in two halves.

Bottom half: Spread red icing all over one of the cookie halves and place marshmallows around the edge of the cookie for the ‘teeth’. For additional support, place marshmallows behind the teeth.

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Top half: Line the edge of the other half with red icing.

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Now place the top half on top of the bottom half.

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Insert the chocolate ‘fangs’ into the line of marshmallows (I left about 4 marshmallows between each one). If you have trouble getting them to stick, dip the edge in the icing and replace.

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Banana & Nutella Swirl Loaf Cake

When life gives you brown bananas, make banana bread! But this time add a swirl of Nutella for the ultimate taste sensation.

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This recipe can be prepped, baked and eaten in less than an hour. It’s a one bowl recipe (which I am always a fan of – I mean I love a red velvet cake but 3 bowls means a lot of washing up!), and most of the ingredients you are likely to already have.

The banana cake is sweet and moist, and with the added swirl of gooey Nutella, this cake really is hard to resist. In fact, I’ve just bought another bunch of bananas which i’m eagerly waiting for them to turn brown!

Ingredients (makes a 2lb loaf cake)

150g unsalted butter
150g caster sugar
2 large eggs, at room temp
170g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 ripe medium-sized bananas
1 tbsp milk
4 tbsps Nutella

Method

Preheat oven to 180°C and line a 2lb loaf tin with grease proof paper. I use cake liners for ease, which can be purchased from most large supermarkets.

Beat together you butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Crack in the eggs, add half of the flour and mix. The flour will stop of the mixture from curdling.

Fold in the remaining flour and baking powder until you have a smooth mixture.

Mash the bananas until no lumps remain. Fold the mashed banana and milk into the mixture until smooth.

In a separate bowl melt the Nutella in the microwave for 30-40 seconds.

Pour half the cake mixture into the loaf in. Now pour half of the melted Nutella down the middle of the cake tin. Pour the remaining cake mixture on top.

Dollop spoonfuls of the remaining Nutella on top. Use a skewer or knife tip to swirl the Nutella into the cake mixture.

Bake the cake in the centre of the oven for 30-40 minutes, until the cake has browned on top and is springy to the touch. A skewer inserted into a centre should come out clean of cake mixture.

Bake off: Brownies Vs Blondies

Rich fudgy brownies Vs Chewy butterscotch blondies

Which do you prefer? Is blonde the new brown? Or brown the new blonde?

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Personally, I’m in the brownie camp. Probably because I have a hugeeee sweet tooth and no brownie is too rich for me. I’ve never understood people who have a tiny bite of something and say “that will do me, it’s very sweet’ – seriously who are you!? Pass it over and let me finish yours!

To make this a fair bake off I’ve used the same flavours for both recipes:

Blondies = white chocolate Reese’s cups + Golden Oreos

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Brownies = milk chocolate Reese’s cups + Brownie Oreos

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The saltiness from the peanut butter, combined with the sweetness of the chocolate and crunch of the Oreos – these really are beautifully balanced bakes! Grab your baking tins and be your own judge 🙂

 

Blondies (makes 16 small, 12 large)

170g unsalted butter
250g light brown sugar
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
2 medium eggs, at room temp
170g self-raising flour
120g approx. white chocolate Reese’s cups (I found packets which had two cups in each and used 3 packets in total)
1 packet Golden Oreos

Method

Preheat oven to 180°C and line a 23cm square baking tin with greaseproof paper.

Roughly chop the Reese’s cups and Oreo’s into quarters.

Melt the butter in the microwave in a medium sized bowl in 20 second blasts until liquid.

Add the sugar and mix until fully combined. Crack in the eggs and add the vanilla extract and stir together. Now add the flour and fold the mixture together.

Throw in the chopped Reese’s and Oreos and fold into the mixture. Transfer to the baking tin and spread into an even layer.

Bake in the centre of the oven for 17-20* minutes, until the top is no longer shiny and a toothpick inserted into one of the edges comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave to completely cool before slicing.

Your blondies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.

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Brownies (makes 16 small, 12 large)

150g unsalted butter
170g good quality dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids)
2 medium eggs, at room temperature
225g caster sugar
150g self-raising flour
120g approx. milk chocolate Reese’s cups (I used a sharing bag of miniature ones)
1 packet Brownie Oreos

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Lightly grease and base line a 23x23cm square tin with baking paper.

Gently melt the butter and chocolate in a glass bowl set over a pan of simmering water, or in the microwave in 20 second blasts. Once melted, remove from the heat and leave to cool.

In a separate bowl whisk together the sugar and eggs until frothy. Pour in the melted butter chocolate mixture and the flour and fold together until you have a thick chocolate mixture.

Throw in the chopped Reese’s and Oreos and fold into the mixture. Transfer to the baking tin and spread into an even layer.

Bake in the centre of the oven for 17-20 minutes*. The top should no longer be shiny and the edges should be starting to crack. Test the brownies with a toothpick, it should come out almost clean. Remove from the oven and leave to completely cool before slicing.

Your brownies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.

*Depending on your oven the bakes may take less or more time. This is more of a judgment call and I would say always go with your gut instinct. As a guideline I would suggest testing them by inserting a toothpick into the middle, if it comes out covered in chocolate put them back in. If it comes out only slightly coated with a few crumbs, and the top of the bake is no longer shiny, take them out as will continue to cook as they cool.

 

 

Easter Cheesecake

A showstopper desert to round of your Easter lunch celebrations!

A crumbly biscuit base, topped with creamy white chocolate cheesecake and decorated with a chocolate nest filled with all the chocolate eggs I could find!

For the biscuit base you will need…

300g Digestive biscuits
150g Unsalted Butter

For the cheesecake filling…

2 x 180g tubs of Philadelphia cream cheese, at room temperature
75g icing sugar
300ml double cream, cold from the fridge
200g white chocolate

For the decoration…

8 x Flake chocolate bars
3 x packets of chocolate eggs (I used Mini-eggs, Galaxy golden eggs and Smartie eggs)
A couple of fluffy Easter chicks

Let’s get baking…

Line the bottom of a 23cm/8inch round lose-bottomed tin with grease proof paper.

Start with the base: Crush the biscuits to fine crumbs (I used a blender to speed this part up) and transfer to a bowl.

Melt the butter in the microwave in 10 second blasts until liquid and pour over the crushed biscuits. Mix through until the crumbs are fully coated.

Tip the mixture into the prepared tin and press firmly down into the base to create an even layer. Chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to set firmly.

Once set, move onto the cheesecake: Break the white chocolate up into a microwaveable bowl and melt in 10 second blasts until smooth. Leave to cool.

Sift the icing sugar into a seperate bowl, add the cream cheese and mix until combined. In another seperate bowl (sorry about the washing up!), whisk the double cream until stiff peaks form. Fold the whipped cream into the cheesecake mixture. Pour in the cooled white chocolate and mix through until fully incorporated.

Spoon the mixture on top of the biscuit base and spread out into an ever layer. Chill in the fridge for at least four hours or overnight for best results.

To decorate: Chop the Flake bars into thirds and stack them in a circle leaving the middle empty. Sprinkle the crumbs around the outside of the nest. Fill the middle of the nest with your different eggs and finish by perching a fluffy chick on top 🙂

MaltEaster Bunny Brownie Cupcakes

Easter bake No.2 has bloomed!

This one is all about chocolate of course, Maltesers chocolate to be specific. Which you may know by now are a firm favourite of mine! For more Malteser recipes, check out the bottom of this post.

Right back to the bake…

Malteser brownie cupcake ‘soil’, sprouting white chocolate ‘grass’ and edible flowers, topped with an irresistible MaltEaster bunny.

This really is the perfect bake to put a spring in your step, even if it is currently -1 degrees outside! Come out and show your face sun, it is nearly April 🙂

Look at the rise on these babies…

For 12 cupcakes you will need…

80g self-raising flour
65g cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
100g light brown sugar
100g caster sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
80ml sunflower oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
120ml buttermilk
2 x Teasers chocolate bar, chopped into small chunks

For the decoration you will need…

125g unsalted butter (soft, at room temp.)
250g icing sugar
100g white chocolate
Green gel food colouring
3 packets of Mini-MaltEaster Bunnies (they come in packs of 5, so you will have to eat the remaining three – how terrible! 😉 )
12 edible flower decorations – I used these ones from Sainsbury’s, most supermarkets will have some in their baking section
Piping bag fitted with a Grass nozzle (see below)

Let’s get baking…

Preheat your oven to 180°C and line a 12 hole cupcake baking tray with your favourite liners.

Sift the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder into a bowl. Stir until combined.

In a separate bowl, mix together the eggs, two sugars, oil and vanilla extract until smooth.

Now pour half of the dry ingredients into the wet, followed by half of the buttermilk. Mix together until combined. Repeat this step until all the ingredients are fully incorporated.

Throw in the chopped Teasers bars and mix through. Fill each cupcake case with the mixture about 3/4 of the way, leaving a little gap at the top to allow them to rise.

Bake in the oven for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of one comes out clean. Leave to cool.

Now for the icing and decorating…

Beat the butter until pale in colour and fluffy. Sift in half the icing sugar and add 1/2 tbsp of milk, beat until no lumps remain.

Sift in the rest of the icing sugar, 1/2 tbsp milk and vanilla extract and beat together for approx. 3-5 mins until the buttercream is soft, smooth and fluffy.

Melt the white chocolate in the microwave in 10 second blasts. Pour into the buttercream and mix through.

Add a couple of drops of green food colouring and mix through until the desired colour is reached. Transfer the icing to your piping bag fitted with a grass shaped nozzle.

Pipe the buttercream in short upward movements…

Place a edible flower on each one, followed by a bunny sitting upright.

Inside Out Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Inside out? What does that mean? Based on the reaction I’ve had from friends and family, I’m guessing you’re probably thinking the same thing!

Well let me explain…sometimes you just don’t have the time (or patience) to pipe beautiful swirls of frosting on top of your cupcakes. So why not fill them with it instead! ‘Inside out’ making sense now?

The perfect Easter bake made simple… ‘Melt in the mouth’ carrot cake cupcakes, studded with walnuts and sultanas and filled with a creamy baked cheesecake center.

Now the cupcake recipe may require a fair few ingredients but don’t be put off by this, the method itself is actually really straightforward.

Mix the dry ingredients in one bowl, mix the wet in another, pour the wet into the dry and mix together.

Chuck in the walnuts, carrots and sultanas and stir.

Spoonful of cake mix, spoonful of cream cheese, top with more cake mix and bake. As an added bonus, your house will smell amazing during and after!

For 12 muffins, you will need…

175g light brown sugar
200g wholemeal self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
150ml sunflower oil
200g carrots
1 medium orange
100g chopped walnuts
100g sultanas

For the cream cheese filling, you will need…

180g Philadelphia cream cheese (1 small tub)
80g granulated sugar

Let’s get baking…

Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a 12 hole cupcake tin with your favourite cupcake cases.

1. Start with the surprise filling – Mix together the cream cheese and granulated sugar until smooth. Set aside to use later.

2. Now for the cucpcakes – In a large bowl, mix together the sugar, flour, baking powder, spices and zest of the orange.

In a separate bowl, mix together the eggs, vanilla extract, oil and juice of 1/2 the orange.

Fold the wet mixture into the dry ingredients until fully incorporated.

Now grate in the carrot and throw in the walnuts and sultanas. Fold the mixture together gently until combined.

3. Now to assemble – Drop about 1 tablespoon of mixture into the cases, top with a dollop of cream cheese and cover with enough mixture to fill the cases to about 3/4 full. Finish with a sprinkling of granulated sugar on each cupcake.

4. Time to bake – place the cupcakes into the center of the oven for approx. 18-20, or until a skewer/toothpick inserted into a non-cheesecake filled part of the cupcakes comes out clean. They should feel firm to the touch.

Your cupcakes will keep in an air tight container for up to 3 days.

No Bake Lemon & Ginger Cheesecake

A crumbly, spicy ginger biscuit base topped with creamy lemon cheesecake, swirled with lemon curd and decorated with a sprinkle of lemon zest.

I’ll let you in on a little secret…this is the first big cheesecake I have ever made, and it definitely will not be my last! No bake, no fuss and only 7 ingredients – this recipe can be whipped up in a flash and is the perfect refreshing desert for any occasion.

My top-tips for this recipe:

1. If you have a loose-bottomed / springform baking tin, use it! It will make your life SO much easier when it comes to removing the cheesecake.

2. Bring all your ingredients to room temperature before mixing – this will make sure your cheesecake is lump free and beautifully smooth.

3. Be careful not to over swirl your lemon curd into the cheesecake, less is more as otherwise you may loose the marbled effect.

4. Chill for at least 4 hours or overnight for best results, and keep in the fridge until your ready to serve. Cheesecake should always be served chilled.

For the base you will need…

300g ginger snap biscuits

90g unsalted butter

For the cheesecake you will need…

2 x 180g tubs of Philadelphia cream cheese

150g caster sugar

300ml double cream

2 lemons

Jar of lemon curd

Let’s get baking…

Line the bottom of a 23cm/8inch round lose-bottomed tin with grease proof paper.

Crush the biscuits to fine crumbs (I used a blender to speed this part up) and transfer to a bowl.

Melt the butter in the microwave in 10 second blasts until liquid and pour over the crushed biscuits. Mix through until the crumbs are fully coated.

Tip the mixture into the prepared tin and press firmly down into the base to create an even layer. Chill in the fridge for at least an 1 hour to set firmly.

Meanwhile make the cheesecake layer, by whisking together the Philadelphia, sugar, cream and juice of the two lemons, until you have a smooth thick mixture (this may take 3-4 minutes). Spoon the mixture on top of the biscuit base and spread out into an ever layer.

Using a teaspoon, dot lemon curd on top of the cheesecake and swirl the mixture together with a knife to create a marble effect.

Finish by grating the zest of a lemon on top. Chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight before removing from the tin and serving.