Tag Archives: Dessert

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!

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September Cooking Challenge

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After an incredibly hectic August full of weddings, engagements, parental visits, comedy festivals and birthdays I’m ready for a quieter couple of months (phew). I’m looking forward to getting experimental in the kitchen again so I’ve given myself a little September Cooking Challenge to help me on my way.

Pinterest is great website for sourcing recipe inspiration, I’m a massive fan of Tastespotting and Foodgawker too. You can search specific terms or go to the general food & drink category and browse through the mouthwatering pictures. Once you’ve decided on the most delectable picture you can click straight through to the recipe, easy peasy.

I’ve challenged myself to three recipes; a starter, main and dessert. This will also give me a wonderful reason to blog at least three times this month, documenting my cooking challenge is the only way to prove I’ve actually made the recipes! So here goes it, I challenge myself to cook these three recipes in September (thanks for the inspiration Pinterest).

Starter: Baked Cheeseburger Egg Rolls

This recipe (and photo) is originally by Does not Cook Well with Others  and I’d like to try making it purely because I think my fiancée would love it.  The blog suggests that this is perfect party food so I might make it next time the boys are round watching football. The recipe looks simple enough, although I might attempt to make the egg roll pastry from scratch rather than buying it pre-made.

Main: Sausage and Red Pepper Quiche

I’ve chosen this recipe for a couple of reasons; Firstly, usually when I have quiche I’m really naughty and I just buy it ready-made from the shop. The Tesco Finest ones are particularly tasty and it always seems like such a mission to make quiche from scratch. Secondly, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a quiche with sausage in it before so I’m rather intrigued. This recipe (and photo) is originally from Pinch of Yum,  a cute foodies blog run by fellow pug lover Lindsay originally from America but blogging from Cebu City in the Philippines.

Dessert: Chai Pumpkin Spice Thumbprints

I’ve chosen this recipe because, come on, this recipe is incredible! I’m hoping if making these goes well I can serve them up at Christmas time, so this is a little practice run really. To be completely honest this recipe looks a little out of my baking league, I’ve only just perfected the art of baking bread and cupcakes so this might be a disaster. Nevertheless I’ll document this disaster in spectacular fashion, don’t you worry! This recipe (and photo) is originally from Pass the Sushi.  Now, where do I get this chai concentrate from?

I’ll document all my recipe-making attempts on the blog and I also promise to add them to my Foodie’s Dream Pinterest board for good measure. P.S. If anybody gives any of these recipes a go in the meantime, please give me a shout. Anyway, stay tuned!

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!

Pudding in a Bottle

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Orkney's Clootie Dumpling

I usually steer away from flavoured beers. The flavours are commonly overpowering and they are sickly sweet, however I’d already picked up a Crabbies (shut up it’s tasty) so decided another sweet beer wouldn’t hurt. Orkney’s Clootie Dumping ale caught my eye, mostly because of the tasty looking dessert on the bottle and a little because Orkney aren’t the type to do a tacky flavoured beer.

Orkney are one of my favourite Scottish breweries and brew a couple of old favourites that I used to serve regularly at the bar I worked in throughout university. They are quite a traditional brewery in terms of the ale they produce and don’t normally experiment with extreme flavours or hops. Orkney’s Clootie Dumpling isn’t an exception to this. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a lovely beer but it’s not something that is going to blow your mind.

Clootie Dumpling is a traditional Scottish dessert made with flour, breadcrumbs, dried fruit, suet, sugar and spices, the beer has been produced to match these flavours. Bearing these flavours in mind, when I opened the beer I was expected a rich, thick dark stout or porter. Instead the ale is toffee in colour and light in texture. I also expected a thick, heavy head but was instead met with a frothy light foam that quickly disintegrated.

On the nose the ale has a wonderful aroma of banana, cinnamon and ginger. It has a subtle smell of lager and doesn’t smell entirely as an ale usually does. It also smells a lot like a ginger beer and shares the same texture as a ginger beer or cider would have. It has the smell of a very light amber with some added yeastiness.

The aromas follow through in taste with some added spiciness and the flavour of fried fruit to match the characteristics of the traditional Clootie Dumpling. I lost the taste of banana that was so present in the smell, which is a little disappointing but there is enough going on with this beer to keep me interested. Something that I definitely didn’t expect from this beer (judging by the packaging and description) was that it would be a really easy drinking beer. It’s has a low abv. (4.2%) and is light enough in flavour to be a session ale but it is definitely more interesting that your standard IPA or light ale. The spiciness is kept in the aftertaste and in that way reminds me again of a ginger beer.

It’s not your typical seasonal ale and I definitely don’t think it represents Winter; maybe Autumn. It’s really nice to be surprised by the labeling which originally gave me the impression that it would be a sickly sweet dessert beer.  It is subtle, sweet but not too sweet and was a very nice beer, if I do say so myself. I put of swig of it in my Shepherds pie and drunk the rest. If this sounds like the beer for you, get in there quick as it won’t be around after early February.