Tag Archives: baking

September Cooking Challenge: Chai Pumpkin Spice Thumbprints

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The last recipe from my September Cooking Challenge is a dessert courtesy of food blog, Pass the Sushi. I did actually make these in September, just – so I successfully completed my September Cooking Challenge, go me! I probably shouldn’t have left this recipe until last, or I should have read the recipe more carefully as I didn’t realise that some of the ingredients couldn’t be bought at my local Tesco.

Pumpkin Spice Hershey’s Kisses for example are a Halloween/Thanksgiving themed seasonal American chocolate treat and are unavailable in shops around the UK. I spent a couple of hours searching the internet and finally found a UK-based website that sold American groceries and sweets, phew!

The recipe also called for chai concentrate which I’ve never seen in any of my local shops. I did a little Amazon search and found bottles of chai concentrate, but nothing smaller than a litre bottle which I thought would be a waste of money. I decided to improvise, I bought a box of chai tea and infused quite a few tea bags in water with some brown sugar to sweeten my concoction, I used this instead of chai concentrate.

The recipe was easy enough, mix everything together and leave to chill for an hour. Making the chai seasoning was fun and I had left-over for future recipes. The smell of the seasoning was gorgeous and filled up the kitchen, it did however make the dog sneeze! One thing I would say about the recipe is that when rolling out the cookies, be sure to leave large gaps between them on the baking tray. Mine mushed together a little and caused some of them to be oddly shaped, not the end of the world but just a little tip!

Also, after you place on the Hershey’s kisses after baking the cookies DON’T touch them at all for at least an hour. The recipe tells you this but I was curious and poked one which ultimately melted and lost its shape straight away. You’ve got to know your failures to know how to do it right!

So thankfully my final September Cooking Challenge recipe was a success and the cookies were spongy yet solid, spicy and sweet and the Hershey’s kisses added a lovely velvety pumpkin-flavoured finish. I’ll definitely be making these again, possibly for Halloween.

Thanks to all those who have been checking in to see my progress over September, hopefully one of the three recipes have appealed to you and inspired you to start your own cooking challenges! Please let me know if you cook any of the three recipes, I’d love to hear your experiences!

Red Velvet | I love you

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Photo by Lisa Djan via Pinterest

Ahhh Red Velvet cupcakes, delicious, delectable and totally adorable. These chocolaty, buttery, moist cupcakes are perfect for weddings and other special occasions (or just for all day, any day). They are delicate and with a winning recipe they can make any afternoon tea a lot more interesting.  

I start to get a bit itchy if I haven’t baked anything in a while so I decided to make some cupcakes. I’ve found that when baking simple, uncomplicated recipes always provide the most satisfying and flavoursome results. Red Velvet cupcakes are a little more sophisticated than your standard vanilla cupcake but are still very simple in terms of baking. It is the presentation and decorating that gives them the edge and makes them stand above other cupcakes, all the other cupcakes (apart from rainbow cupcakes, they are just awesome).

Red velvet cupcakes are a classic afternoon tea accompaniment. They are red in colour yet chocolaty in taste and are covered with a gorgeous cream cheese frosting. I used the BBC GoodFood recipe as a reference because it was uncomplicated and recipes from this website always come with a good reputation and lots of user comments. I adapted the recipe to make less, here’s what you need:

  • 1 1/2 cups of self-raising flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 30ml red food colouring
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon (good quality) vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk

I also used cupcake tins rather than muffin tins so that they were a little bit smaller (I like lots of frosting to cupcake ratio). You make this recipe like any other cupcake recipe except you’ll have an extra addition to the method; the best way to evenly distribute the chocolate flavouring and red colouring without ruining the texture of the cupcake is to make a paste with the cocoa powder and colouring. You can then add this mixture directly after beating in the eggs. Making the perfect frosting can definitely make or break this recipe too, here’s what you’ll need for the frosting:

  • 100g unsalted butter, not margarine
  • 200g cream cheese, mascarpone is by far the best
  • 2 1/2 cups icing sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

The consistency of the frosting should be thick, thick enough to pop in a pipping bag and hold its shape when it’s piped onto the cupcakes. To avoid melting the frosting make sure the cupcakes have cooled after the oven for at least half an hour. I had a bit of fun and experimented with some silver spray-in-a-can food colouring, this was something everyone who ate them commented on, and it went down a treat with the guys at work!

These cupcakes are truly scrumptious and utterly easy to make. The addition of buttermilk in the recipe makes the cupcakes irresistibly moist and the chocolate flavour is unexpected and an added surprise with every bite. These are great if you want to make an impression with your baking, simple yet effective. The frosting is fluffy and works perfectly with the moist cupcake underneath, add a touch of cinnamon to the frosting if you want to spice it up a little. I didn’t add enough food colouring so mine were a little dull, it’d be a good idea to test one cupcake out beforehand to see the colour – I’ll do this next time.

These cupcakes go so well with a lovely cup of chai tea latte, be careful though as one Red Velvet cupcake is never enough (hence why I cut down my ingredient portions)!

Have you got any additions or twists on this popular classic recipe? Let me know in the comment section below, I’d love to hear from all the fellow baking bloggers out there!