Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Happy Australia day to each and all especially everyone "down under".  To celebrate the day I decided to take Mr. P. over at delicious delicious delicious  up on his challenge to recreate the Lamington - that essentially Australian sweet treat.

Mr. P.  often decorates his (wonderful) Lamington photos with cute little Kewpies, so I have called Homer in to help me with my offering - I had to take the photos quickly in case he started drooling all over them!!!!! mmmmmmmm......cake............mmmmmmmmmmmm!

I used this recipe for the cake (replacing 2 tbsp of flour with 2 tbsp of cocoa, reducing the coffee to 1/2 tsp and adding 75g of chocolate chunks).  Then I made a chestnut icing and finally sprinkled them with dessicated coconut.  These little treats were really tasty*, the icing had a subtle nutty flavour with combined well with both the chocolate and coconut. I have to say that the icing was really good and wasn't too sweet - result!!  Here is the recipe, I made quite a small quantity - enough to spread between two flan type cakes, but it is easily doubled or trebled.

Chestnut Icing

50g             butter - softened
30g             unsweetened chestnut puree
50g             icing sugar

Beat the butter until light and fluffy.
Add the chestnut and combine well.
Add the icing sugar - beat on slow to begin - then up the speed and beat for 5 minutes.


* I only tasted a morsel and just for blogging purposes!!!!

Friday, January 21, 2011


It's  The Cake Slice Bakers post time again - seems to have rolled around really quickly this month for some reason.  I actually made this "cake" during the Christmas holidays - and brought it down to my sister's house.  I can't actually remember the exact occasion now (old age hitting?!!) but I do remember that I had to grab a corner as I was leaving so I could report on the taste to you guys - you can thank me in flowers!!!!!!!!

The reason I write "cake" is that the finished article while delicious, was nearer a traybake type bar than a cake - to be blunt, it was  flat - not quite as flat as a pancake (!) but far too flat for a cake.  If I make it again (and I think I will) I intend to make double the cake mixture in the same size tin - should result in a more worthwhile eating experience!

I thought that the cake was delicious, and the fact that it used ground digestive biscuits (graham crackers in the States) in place of most of the flour (only .25 cup of flour in the recipe) made it really interesting.  The cake had a lovely grainy texture and wasn't too sweet - which was a good job because the frosting certainly made up for that!  The chocolate chips married well with the biscuity flavour of the cake, with a bit of fiddling this could be great.

Once again my stockpiling trips to Harvey Nicks paid dividends, as Marshmallow Fluff was called for in the frosting, and I haven't seen it anywhere else here in Ireland.  I made a half quantity of the frosting (I always find that there is too much icing/frosting in recipes - must be the fact that I don't have a sweet tooth!!!!!) and this was plenty.  I chose to ice my cake with the frosting rather than dollop it on each slice as stipulated in the recipe, this made it easier to transport and I just prefer it that way!

Here's the recipe (as I made it) it's worth a try!

Chocolate Chip Snacking Cake
adapted from Lauren Chattman's "Cake Keeper Cakes"


1 cup            ground digestive biscuits
.25 cup         plain flour
1 tsp             baking powder
.25 tsp          salt
6 tbsp/3oz     butter
.25 cup         sugar
1                   large egg
1                   large egg yolk
1 tsp             vanilla extract
.25 cup         milk
.5 cup           chocolate chips (I used milk chocolate chopped up)


.25 cup/1 oz butter
.25 cup         icing sugar
.25 cup         Marshmallow Fluff
.5 tsp            vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 180 C/350 F
Grease an 8"/20cm cake tin and dust with flour.

Combine the biscuit crumbs, flour, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl.
Cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until fluffy and light (about 3 minutes), remember to scrape down the sides as you go.
Add the egg, egg yolk and vanilla with the mixer turned down to low - beat until smooth.
Keeping the mixer on low add  1/3 the flour mixture then 1/2 the milk, repeat, ending with the flour until well combined - again remember to scrape down the sides as you go.
Stir in the chocolate chips/pieces with a spoon.
Spoon the batter into the cake tin and smooth out.
Bake until a skewer comes out clean - about 35 minutes.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes.
Cool completely on a wire rack.

To make the frosting -
Beat the butter until creamy and smooth.
Add the sugar slowly with the mixer on low (otherwise you will be breathing in a sugar cloud!!).
Stir in the vanilla and Marshmallow Fluff and beat until smooth.

When completely cooled spread the frosting on the cake and serve.


Sunday, January 16, 2011


OK that's enough of all that healthy eating!  Anyway my grandfather always said that "a little of what you fancy does you good"!!

Brownieville Boy #1, had some friends coming over to spend the night and taste the delights of the local night-life, so I reckoned that the food should be good just in case the nightlife wasn't!  What's the first thing you think to bake for four (male) burly college students ...... cupcakes of course!!!!

As you know I have been doing some baking from the gorgeous Eric Lanlard's Home Bake (why do I feel compelled to mention how handsome he is every time I write his name??????), having been lucky enough to have been sent a review copy by the publishers.  I followed his recipe for vanilla cupcakes, with a cream cheese vanilla icing - and they didn't offend any macho sensibilities!!!!!

I also made the chocolate cheesecake - changing some of the cheeses (using up all those  pre-Christmas purchases!), this was truly a revelation - probably one of the best desserts that have come out of my kitchen!  It would have been perfection served with  a raspberry coulis and some Barbados Cream or ice-cream.

Here is a rundown of some of the other delights from the book!

This is the Apple Crumble Sponge - perfect when you don't want something too elaborate.  I served this with three other desserts - perfect for the non-chocoholics amongst us. (not me obviously!!)

The vanilla cupcakes were well received, although I didn't think they were quite as good as the Hummingbird ones.

These Blondies with Peanut Butter were delicious, this is all that was left after I left them out to cool and then popped out to the shops for some milk!

Wholemeal courgette and seed muffins - despite overcooking these dreadfully (it's your fault - I lost track of time reading everyone's blogs!!) these were tasty, and would be perfect for a virtuous lunch time treat.

These are the Double Chocolate Marshmallow Muffins (I can't find any photos of the finished article - sorry) - bit too sweet for my taste, but this didn't bother Brownieville Boy #2!

Eric's Roasted Banana Muffins were out of this world - so intensely Bananay (!)  Roasting the bananas added a real depth of flavour.

The Chocolate and Orange Chocolate Cake was well received, although didn't reach the dizzy heights of praise that Nigella's did!!

I have blogged about these addictive Malteser Squares before - I'm just glad that there are none of these beauties in the house now as they would spell the death knell for any healthy eating aspirations!!!

The cheesecake was delicious rich and chocolaty without being excessively sweet.  I have to 'fess up I only had a small portion - honestly!

Chocolate Cheesecake
adapted from Eirc Lanlard's Home Bake


125g/4.5oz         melted butter
250g/9oz            chocolate bourbon biscuits (chocolate digestives will work too)


100g                  medium fat cream cheese
250g                  mascarpone cheese
250g                  ricotta cheese
75g                    golden caster sugar
3                        large eggs
40g                    coco powder, sifted
100g                  good quality dark chocolate melted

Preheat oven to 180 C
Prepare a 20cm/8" springform cake tin by greasing with butter and lining the bottom with parchment paper.

Prepare the base by crushing the biscuits and adding the melted butter.
Press evenly into the prepared tin.
Refrigerate for a half an hour.

Prepare the filling by placing the cheeses and sugar into a food processor, blend until smooth.
Add the eggs and give mixture a whizz.
Next add the cocoa and blend again.
Finally add the melted chocolate (which you have allowed to cool a bit) and whizz until fully combined.

Pour the mixture onto the base in the tin.
Smooth the surface and place in the preheated oven - it's really important to place the tin on a baking sheet as there will be leakage!!
Bake for 50-60 minutes, until the centre has a slight wobble.
Cool in the turned off oven for 1 hour.
Take out of the oven and cool, then chill in the fridge for at least 3 hours.


Saturday, January 15, 2011

SOUPER SOUP (sorry!!!)

I have at last embraced the whole January thing - as in "eat more healthily", "lose those lbs/kg gathered over Christmas(/last year!)", "be a bit more frugal" you know where I'm going.  My new year's resolutions have a fairly elastic starting date (it gets more elastic with every cake I bake/see!), but Brownieville Boy #1's return to school after the holidays, became the first day of the new, improved me!

This month's No Croutons Required challenge was to prepare a veggie soup or salad with rice - I had some chestnut puree in the fridge, which had to be used and I decided to go the obvious route with it and make a chestnut and mushroom soup - I added some risotto rice (which made the soup lovely and substantial), it made a tasty, filling dish - low in fat, but full of flavour .... result!!  Just what the doctor/dietitian/resolution watchdog ordered.

Healthy meal - tick
Used up the leftovers - tick

The chestnuts are nearly finished, you'll be glad to know!!!

Mushroom and Chestnut Soup

500g          mushrooms
1                large onion
1 tsp          olive oil
1 tbsp        chestnut puree
1 ltr           mushroom/veg stock (I buy porcini stock cubes every time I go to Italy)
1 tbsp        dried porcini mushrooms - crumbled.
2 tbsp        risotto rice

Gently fry the onions in the oil, until they begin to soften.
Add the mushrooms, which you have chopped up (finely if you don't want to puree the soup later).
Meanwhile make up your stock and add the dried porcini mushrooms.
When the mushrooms have cooked down add the chestnut puree and the rice, stir well.
Add the stock and porcini mushrooms.
Allow to simmer until the rice is cooked.
Blitz - I use a hand held blitzer.
Serve and enjoy.

Sunday, January 9, 2011


I'm feeling very grateful towards Chele this month, she nominated leftovers as this month's ingredient for the We Should Cocoa challenge - this really made me put my thinking cap on! (and helped with my resolution to waste less food!!).

There were plenty of options available to me - copious amounts of sprouts (!), about a tonne of strawberry "Roses", scraps of pastry, a half can of chestnut puree and half a pack of vacuum packed chestnuts (from Christmas dinner's sprouts, chestnuts and pancetta), to name a few - I decided to go with the chestnuts, and then for some reason grated them before I looked up any recipes (go figure!!!).

Of course any recipes I read used whole chestnuts (typical!), so I had to improvise and  decided to use the grated chestnuts as a flour substitute.  I hadn't made brownies for a while,  so brownies it was - I played around with my favourite brownie recipes and this is the result.

Even if I say it myself - they were gorgeous!  Moist with a fudgy centre, deeply chocolaty with a lovely nutty back note, lovely crispy top - these lads are going to the top of the brownie league table. 

Chestnut Brownies

375g        caster sugar
4              eggs
100g        cocoa (good quality)
200g        butter
1 tsp        vanilla extract
100g       grated (cooked) chestnuts
1 tbsp      self raising flour
1 tsp        baking powder

Preheat oven to 180 C/350 F
Prepare a 9"/23cm brownie tin (I line mine with parchment paper)

Beat eggs and sugar together until light, fluffy and doubled in volume.
Melt the butter and then add the sieved cocoa - make sure there are no lumps.
Add the butter and cocoa to the eggs and sugar, stir well. 
Add the vanilla.
Add the grated chestnuts, flour and baking powder, combine well.
Pour the batter into the prepared tin.
Bake for 40 - 50 minutes.
Remove from the oven when it is cooked at the edges but still nice and slightly wobbly in the centre.
Allow to cool for 20 minutes in the tin, then remove to a wire rack.

Thursday, January 6, 2011


Happy Little Christmas everyone.  Time to kick back and enjoy the last hurrah.  I am a firm believer in squeezing the last ounce of Christmasness out of the festivities and today is the last little allowable squeeze.

Today (6th January) is known as Little Christmas or Women's Christmas, and the custom was that the women were rewarded for all their hard work during Christmas by a day when all the work was done for them ...nice!  Now I have to admit that this tradition has not been fully embraced by my family, actually it seems to have been fairly well neglected by modern day Ireland, but maybe it's time for a revival!!

I have decided to have a little review of some of the baking indulgences of the past couple of weeks, which nicely coincides with the Forever Nigella challenge over at Maison Cupcake whereby Sarah challenges us to bake/cook a Nigella recipe (without printing the recipe) with a changing theme (this month's is "seasonal Nigella")

These little puddini bonbons are prefect for using up any leftover Christmas pudding, great option if you don't live in a house with Christmas Pudding piggies!!!!

I actually had to buy a small pudding to make these sweets (which is quite something when you consider that I made EIGHT puddings, none of which I gave away!!!!!!!!!!),  they were very popular, the sherry, chocolate and pudding made a wonderful  flavour combination.

These Christmas Chocolate Biscuits were incredibly easy to throw together, actually the most bothersome part was the glaze which I wouldn't even add next time I make them.  You just put some butter, sugar, cocoa, flour and bread soda in the processor - whizz and bake.  Easy.

P.S. Aren't the Christmas tree sprinkles cute!

The piece de rèsistance Nigella's "Incredibly Easy Chocolate Fruit Cake" according to Brownieville Man the best Christmas cake of all time.  There is just a hint of cocoa in this boiled fruit cake, which is moist and almost pudding like.  The fact that it is a boiled cake means that it can be made a week or so before Christmas, great for the unprepared amongst us!!

Hope you enjoyed my Nigella Christmas roundup, I'm off to sit on the couch, eat cookies and paint my nails!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, January 3, 2011


I have been having a wonderful time reading all your blogs recently, I'm particularly enjoying reading everyone's resolutions, well enjoying and feeling guilty at the same time (I'm going to have to get my act together and at least pretend that I'm going to try to be a better/thinner/healthier/fitter person in 2011).

Unfortunately, nobody has resolved to try baking more with unusual ingredients, because if you had - this would be the cake for you!!  Now before you say "YUKK" - you  just have to try it  (I sound like your mother don't I??!!) it is moist, rich and chocolaty, AND as it contains a vegetable it is allowed in your new year's healthy eating plan.

Coby over at The Clayton's Blog , baked this cake recently and loved it, this was recommendation enough for me, so I added it to a recent cooking/baking marathon, it was very popular, but nobody guessed that there was a potato in there!  I do have some history with strange additions to my cakes, the most successful being the kidney bean containing  Flourless Chocolate Cake.  It can only be onward and upward from here - chocolate cake with cabbage anyone?!

Chocolate Potato Cake

145g                  plain flour
3/4 tsp               bread (bicarbonate of) soda
1/4 tsp               salt
190g                  caster sugar
2 tbsp                cocoa powder (I'll use 3 tbsp next time)
1x 60g               potato (peeled weight)
250ml                sour cream (I used Greek yogurt)
60g                    butter - room temperature
1                        egg - room temperature
1 tsp                  vanilla extract
165g                  dark chocolate, chopped.


125g                  dark chocolate (I used 70%)
60g                     butter
25ml                   water

Preheat oven to 180 C
Butter and flour a 20cm round tin or an equivalent bundt tin.

Place the flour, bread (bicarb) soda, salt, cocoa, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor and whizz.
Grate the potato and add to the flour.
Add the sour cream (yogurt), butter, egg and vanilla and process well, scraping the sides down regularly.
Add the chopped chocolate and pulse to combine.
Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake 35 - 40 minutes (until a skewer comes out clean)
When ready allow to cool in the tin on a wire rack for 20 minutes.
Turn out of the tin to the wire rack to cool completely.

Make the ganache by placing the chocolate, butter and water in a pan over a low heat and melt until a smooth glossy sauce. (*this is half the original quantity of ganache, but it was enough to cover the cake, so unless you want left-overs this is plenty).
Allow to cool slightly and then pour over the cake (put something under the cake to catch the drips).
Leave to cool totally and then serve.