Chocolate Raspberry Brownies

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Chocolate and raspberries together make brownie perfection!

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I love the ways these turned out – so creamy and rich! And the slight tartness of the raspberries complement the sweetness so well. The raspberries can be replaced by your favourite add-ins. I’d recommend cherries, walnuts, white chocolate pieces or macadamia nuts – get creative!

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The important thing to remember is not to overbake brownies. I have done it on one too many occasions and the result is a disappointing, dry cake. You also don’t want a mouthful of sticky dough, so try to get the balance right. The aim is a soft, moist interior and a deliciously crunchy top.

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Chocolate Raspberry Brownies (makes 9 squares)

Ingredients

  • 185g unsalted butter
  • 185g dark chocolate
  • 85g plain flour
  • 40g cocoa powder
  • 3 large egg
  • 200g golden caster sugar
  • handful of raspberries (can be frozen)

Method

  1. Line a 20cm square tin and preheat the oven to 180c
  2. Melt the butter and dark chocolate in the microwave and set it aside to cool slightly
  3. Whisk the eggs and sugar until thick and light
  4. Add the cooled chocolate mixture to the eggs and fold together
  5. Sieve the flour and cocoa powder into the mixture and fold gently
  6. Add the raspberries and fold
  7. Bake in the preheated oven for about 25 mins. If the middle is still wobbly, keep baking for another 5 mins and keep checking – make sure not to overbake!
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Battenburg – Happy Easter!

Happy Easter everyone!

As usual, it’s grey and rainy in England this Easter bank holiday (why is the weather like this every bank holiday?!) but this Battenburg will sure brighten things up! The pink and cream checkered pattern just screams SPRING! 🙂

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This cake looks so simple but it epitomises the best of British cakes –  moist sponge cake coated in jam and wrapped in marzipan. Oh we British love our jams!

Battenburg_0577 copyWorking with marzipan involves a little mess with kneading, but it’s so much fun and a great activity with kids. Store-bought is the convenient, cheat’s way of doing things, but I will get around to making homemade marzipan – promise!

I used some off cuts to make the mini Battenburg – isn’t it cute?

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Hope everyone’s enjoying the long weekend!

Battenburg (makes 1 cake)
Recipe adapted from BBC Good Food
Ingredients
  • 175g very soft butter
  • 175g golden caster sugar
  • 140g self-raising flour
  • 50g ground almonds
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 3 medium eggs
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp almond extract
  • pink/red food colouring
To assemble
  • 100g apricot jam
  • 1 x 500g block marzipan

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4 and line a 20cm square tin with parchment. Add an extra fold in the middle of the pan so you can bake the pink and cream mixture in one pan without the colours mixing. Otherwise, you can bake the mixtures separately in 2 rectangular/loaf pans.
  2. To make the sponge, beat the sugar and butter until fluffy. Then add the eggs and a tablespoon of the flour (to prevent curdling) and beat.
  3. Add the rest of the flour, ground almonds, baking powder, vanilla and almond extract. Beat until the mix comes together smoothly.
  4. Split the mixture in half, and mix in the pink (or red) food colouring to one mixture.
  5. Add the pink mixture to one side of the prepared tin, and the cream mixture to the other side.
  6. Bake for 25-30 mins until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool.
  7. To assemble, heat the jam in the microwave for 20 seconds, until runny.
  8. Cut the almond slice in half to create 2 rectangles, and do the same with the pink slice. Trim so they are all the same length and width.
  9. Roll out the marzipan block on a surface lightly dusted with icing sugar to just over 20cm wide, then keep rolling lengthways until the marzipan is roughly 0.5cm thick.
  10. Brush with apricot jam, then lay a pink and an almond slice side by side at one end of the marzipan, brushing jam in between to stick sponges, and leaving 4cm clear marzipan at the end. Brush more jam on top of the sponges, then sandwich remaining 2 slices on top, alternating colours to give a checkerboard effect. Wrap the marzipan tightly and trim.
  11. This will keep in an airtight box or well wrapped in cling film for up to 3 days, and can be frozen for up to a month.

The Best Yoghurt Cake – Lemon and Blueberry

This is, hands down, the BEST yoghurt cake. Moist, springy, fragrant. Delicious! And so easy to make!
The cream coloured cake with dark purple blueberries, and flecks of bright yellow lemon zest makes it look all the more appetising.
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This is such an adaptable recipe – I’ve made an orange version by replacing the lemon zest with the zest of 3 oranges and omitting the blueberries. I like my flavours strong so I use more than the usual amount of zest quoted in most recipes. I have tried the recipe with reduced sugar (180g) and the sweetness was just perfect, but feel free to modify to your taste.Lemon, blueberry yoghurt cake 1

This can be made into a layered cake, or a loaf cake drizzled with some zesty icing, or enjoyed by itself with a cup of tea or in my case, coffee. I’m only slightly (I tell myself) addicted…

Ingredients
  • 2 large eggs
  • 200g sugar
  • zest from 2-3 lemons, finely grated
  • 280g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 250ml low fat greek yoghurt
  • 120ml/100g oil
  • About 1.5 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
Method
1. Whisk egg and sugar until pale, thick and creamy (about 3-4 minutes)
2. Add lemon zest, yoghurt, and oil. Beat for a further 1 minute
3. In another bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder. Fold into the above mixture, then add the blueberries.
5. Pour batter into a lined 21cm cake tin. Bake at 180C in a preheated oven for 40 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. I cover mine with foil after 30 mins as it just turns brown, but this depends on your oven
6. Leave cake in tin to cool for 10 minutes before transferring to a cake rack to cool.

Gluten-free Clementine & Almond Cake

First world problems – too much choice on the internet. I was originally going to try Nigella’s clementine and almond cake recipe, but extensive browsing on the internet swayed me for an alternative version that involves whisking the egg whites to stiff peaks and then folding into the batter – I’m impartial to a light and airy cake.

2014-08-02 18.55.15The use of the whole fruit, peel and all, fascinated me, as I like strong flavours in my cake. Isn’t it so disappointing when you bite into a lemon or orange flavoured cake and all you can taste are faint hints of extract? Well this cake takes fruity flavours to a whole other level. Cooking the clementines first brings out the sweetness of the fruit and reduces the tart flavour. The fruit adds a sweet and not overpowering flavour to the cake, and the citrus pairs so well with the almonds.
2014-08-02 18.54.31The ground almonds gives the cakes some texture, but it remains very light and moist from the beaten egg whites. Don’t be deceived by the photo above, I can’t emphasise enough how light the cake is despite it being gluten free.2014-08-02 19.04.06However, I’m still curious to try Nigella’s original recipe, which looks denser and more satisfying… 2014-08-02 Almond, clementine GF

Notes:

  • Cake rose well and then sank, possibly from opening the oven before it was set, so leave the cake in the oven for at least 30 minutes
  • Since this is a nut based cake, it browns quickly so cover with foil after about 30 minutes, once the cake has set.

Ingredients

  • 370g clementines, with skin on
  • 5 eggs, separated
  • 180g caster sugar
  • 225 g ground almonds
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • sifted icing sugar to decorate
  1. Wash the clementines, cut a cross shape at the top of each fruit to allow steam to escape, and place on a plate in the microwave for 6-7 minutes until soft. Once ready, cut into small pieces and discard pips. Allow to cool.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180C and line a 9-inch cake tin.
  3. Place clementines in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Add egg yolks and sugar until it doubles in size. Fold in the ground almonds and baking powder.
  4. Whisk egg whites in a clean bowl until stiff peaks form. Add a third of the egg whites to the clementine mixture to loosen it. Fold the rest of the egg whites into the mixture, and pour into the cake tin.
  5. Bake at 180C for 50-55mins. Cover with foil after 30 minutes.

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Chocolate Meringue Cake

When I suggested this Chocolate Meringue Cake to a friend for a recent dinner get-together, the response was an emphatic “woahh…let’s do that!” – absolutely no doubt. Just look at the chocolate-y, sugary goodness!

2014-07-29 20.41.45The meringue was not too sweet, but it added a nice crunchy texture to the cake, and the berries cannot be forgone, since it goes well with the chocolate and cuts through the sweetness.2014-07-29 20.41.26

Notes:

  • I overbaked the cake base, since I used a larger pan. I would reduce the cooking time to 15 minutes, since I found that the meringue took at least 30 minutes to harden.
  • I would suggest serving this warm, and place berries on the cake just before serving otherwise the meringue will soften.

Chocolate Meringue Cake

Adapted from The Artful Desperado

For the cake:

  • 225g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 170g unsalted butter, chopped
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 65g brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 43g all purpose flour, sifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, sifted
  • 43g almond meal

For the meringue:

  • 4 eggs whites
  • 95g super fine sugar
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 2 teaspoon cornstarch, sifted
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa
  • 40g dark chocolate, melted

Berries to serve (I used strawberries, blueberries, red grapes)

Cake
1. Preheat the oven to 325F. Lightly grease a springform 8 inch pan (I used 9 inch, but smaller is better for height and texture of cake), place some parchment paper on the bottom and set aside.
2. Place butter and chocolate in a small pot over low heat and warm enough to melt them. Turn off the heat let it stand for a bit.
3. In a large bowl place the eggs, egg yolks, brown sugar, and vanilla and mix or whisk for about 5 minutes until the mixture is pale and has doubled in size (it should look really frothy and thicker). Add the chocolate/butter melted mixture, flour, baking powder, and almond meal and gently fold until combined. Place batter in the cake tin and bake for about 30 min JUST until set – DO NOT COOK FULLY! We need to add the meringue so it should 3/4 done (it’s ok if it’s looks a bit “raw” still). Remove from the oven, set aside.

Meringue
Start the meringue as soon as you take the cake out of the oven. Not before, as meringue can’t sit.

1. Increase temperature in the oven to 350F
2. Place egg whites in a CLEAN bowl (no grease, no water) and beat them to soft peaks. Slowly add the sugar (about 1 tablespoon at at time). When you’re done with the sugar, add the vinegar and beat until meringue is nice and glossy. Add the cornstarch and cocoa and gently fold. Finally, slowly drizzle the melted chocolate and place the whole thing on top of the cake. Don’t mix the chocolate as you want natural swirls to happen!
3. Place the cake with the meringue back in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes or until the meringue feels dry. Remove from the oven when done and let is stand outside for a bit.

Matcha, Canary Melon Entremet

After being drawn into the craze of matcha desserts online, I bought a few bags of the stuff a while back, and although it is touted for its antioxidant powers and various health benefits, I’m not a huge matcha tea drinker. The extremely fine powder is difficult to dissolve so I’m always left with lumps of powder at the bottom of the cup…

Matcha1So with the abundance of matcha powder sitting at home, I decided to make a matcha entremet: matcha genoise sponge, Canary melon, and matcha mousse.

I love experimenting with not-so-obvious flavour combinations, so I paired the matcha with melon. The melon that I used, and is always mistakenly labeled as Honeydew melon in the supermarkets, is in fact a Canary melon. It is the rugby shaped, yellow melon with a white-ish flesh. In this dessert, it adds a nice sweetness to balance the bitterness of the matcha.

This was my first attempt at a genoise sponge and you can’t go wrong with Pierre Herme’s recipe. It’s the perfect basic recipe. I just replaced some of the flour for matcha powder and reduced the sugar by a smidge. The texture of genoise is drier than most cakes since it is usually brushed with syrup. It is a good, sturdy base for stacked cakes and had just the right amount of sweetness, but since I sliced the sponge in half, one side had a messy jagged edge.

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I had a little trouble with the mousse, involving curdled egg yolks, so I improvised with what I had, and the flavour turned out amazing. In many store-bought matcha mousse desserts, the green tea flavour is lost in all of the creaminess, but this mousse had a very strong matcha flavour.Matcha3

Notes for my next attempt:

  • Be aware of the texture of each layer – use firmer layers at the bottom, which will make cutting the entremet neater. I would not use melon slices next time, it made the cutting very messy! Possibly substitute with melon puree, syrup, mousse or jelly.
  • Brush a syrup (matcha flavour) to soften the genoise sponge and enhance the matcha flavour.
  • Use 3 gelatin leaves for a firmer mousse.
  • Bake the sponge in individual layers so the edges are more defined.

Genoise sponge

Adapted from Pierre Herme’s Desserts. This makes double the amount needed for this recipe, so I baked and then froze the other half

  • 56g unsalted butter
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar (I eyeballed it and used about 5/6th of a cup)
  • 165g all purpose flour
  • 8g matcha powder
  1. Line a 30cm square pan with parchment.
  2. Bring a pot of water to simmer. Melt butter and set aside. It should be warm when you need it
  3. Whisk egg and sugar together and place bowl over simmering water. Keep whisking until temperature reaches 130-140F/54-60c. About 4 minutes.
  4. Take off heat and whisk on high for 5-8 minutes until triple in volume, light and airy. It should form ribbons when lifted from the bowl
  5. Stir 2 tbsp of batter into the butter to prevent the butter from sinking in the batter.
  6. Sift flour into the egg batter and gently fold
  7. Then fold in the butter
  8. Bake at 350F/176C for 20 minutes until top is golden, springy and toothpick comes out clean.
  9. Transfer to wire rack to cool. Unmold after 5 minutes and cool completely
  10. Slice in sponge into two layers, then cut 3 equal rectangles – giving you 6 equal rectangles. Since we only need 3 layers, freeze the other 3 layers for another time.

Matcha mousse

  • 300ml milk
  • 100g sugar
  • 2 gelatin leaves (next time I would use 3 leaves, see notes)
  • 330ml double cream
  • 10g matcha powder
  1. Soak the gelatin leaves in cold water for 5 minutes.
  2. Whip the double cream until stiff peaks form and place in the fridge.
  3. Heat the milk, matcha powder and sugar until boiling. Remove from heat.
  4. Squeeze out excess liquid from the gelatin leaves and place in the matcha mixture. Stir to dissolve, and let it cool completely until it is set.
  5. Whisk matcha mixture with the whipped cream.

Assemble:

Layer genoise sponge, then melon slices, then matcha mousse, and repeat. Top with last sponge and a layer of mousse. I used sifted matcha powder and white chocolate for decoration.

Despicable Me Rainbow Birthday Cake

Rainbow cakes are still such a popular choice for birthday cakes – they are ALL OVER the internet! I mean, who doesn’t like multi-coloured food?! So here’s another addition to the millions already out there 🙂

This cake was for my brother’s girlfriend, and as a Despicable Me fan, the marzipan models were a must. This was the first time I’ve made any type of model using marzipan (or fondant-like material) and I have to say, it is so much fun! You can make just about anything with the stuff! I’ve always steered away from them since I didn’t want to put a lump of sugar on a cake that no-one would eat. But for a fun birthday cake, it adds so much joy!

Despicable me, Rainbow cake

 

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Rainbow cake slice

Many recipes I came across used pre-made cake mix, but that is something that I never buy, so here is my made-from-scratch rainbow recipe:

Vanilla Rainbow Cake

Makes one 6 layer, 8 inch cake. Adapted from Hummingbird Cakes

  • 250g all-purpose flour
  • 250g sugar
  • 2.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 pinch salt
  • 84g butter
  • 240ml milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • Food colouring: purple, blue, green, yellow, orange, red
  1. Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter in a mixing bowl and beat on slow speed until everything is combined and you have a crumb mixture with a sandy consistency. Gradually pour in half the milk and beat until the milk is incorporated.
  2. Whisk together the remaining milk, egg and vanilla. Pour into the flour mixture and beat until all ingredients are just incorporated. Beat for another 30 seconds until batter is smooth. Do not overmix.
  3. Divide batter into 6 (I weighed them because I’m paranoid), and put your desired food colouring in each bowl.
  4. Divide batter amongst 8 inch baking pans (if you don’t have multiple pans, you can do this in batches) and bake at 170C for about 15 to 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out mostly clean. Cool before frosting.

Swiss Meringue buttercream

This was not enough to cover the top (hence the cheeky chocolate ganache 😉 ) so I would use 1.5 times this recipe to allow for added decorations. For the piped decorations, I used a peppermint and chocolate chip buttercream by replacing the vanilla extract with peppermint extract.

  • 110g egg whites
  • 183g sugar
  • 250g butter
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Whisk egg whites and sugar over a bain marie until 64C or sugar has dissolved.
  2. Take off heat and whisk until thick and glossy and bowl feels neutral.
  3. Add butter one at a time until all is incorporated. Minions