Back in those dim and distant days when I was on holiday, I was browsing through Allotment 2 Kitchen and found this recipe. At that point we still had plenty of courgettes and a friend coming over for supper. MangoCheeks advised that this cake was particularly good warm with vanilla ice-cream, so pudding for the evening was sorted – thank you MangoCheeks. Writing this up three weeks later, I can’t of course remember exactly what I did because, as regular readers will know, I am virtually incapable of following a recipe exactly.
So this is what I think I did:
- Creamed 110g unsalted butter with 220g vanilla sugar (instead of 1 tsp vanilla extract).
- Beat in 2 duck eggs
- Sifted in 340g flour (spelt wholemeal), 2 tsp baking powder, 4 tbsp cocoa and 1 tsp mixed space.
- Mixed this in, then added 400g grated courgette.
- Stirred in 120g Greek yogurt.
- Spooned mixture into a 9″ sq cake thingie and baked for about 45 mins at 180C.
Having been lucky enough to receive a second fridge load of 0%fat and full fat TOTAL Greek yogurt, I set to with a will. I got a bowl out of the cupboard, a spoon out of the drawer and tucked in to my favourite full fat variety with no additional embellishments – it’s so creamy and delicious none were needed.
Having seen this post a long time ago over at Sweet & Simple Bakes, I’d been thinking for a long time I’d like to try a version using fresh raspberries rather than jam. It went on my must not forget list and stayed there. The We Should Cocoa challenge was the perfect opportunity to remember this and give them a try. More recently, Buttered Crumpet had my mouth watering with her White Chocolate and Raspberry Muffins. However, the recipe I ended up adapting was this one from Cook Sister which had the bright pink icing I was looking for. I’ve really enjoyed watching The Great British Bake Off but I was so insensed after the cake making round when Paul Hollywood gave the thumbs down to the pink raspberry icing, I was determined to thumb my nose at him and make some myself – sometimes I like gaudy or do I mean girly!
- Melted 125g unsalted butter with 75g white chocolate
- Stirred in 150g vanilla sugar (or use 1 tsp vanilla extract)
- Beat in 2 large eggs
- Sifted in 180g flour (80g wholemeal, 80g white, 20g coconut), 1 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp bicarb of soda.
- Stirred in 70g Greek yogurt and 50ml water
- Spooned roughly half of the batter into 12 cupcake cases, placed 2 raspberries in each case then spooned on the rest of the batter.
- Baked at 180C for 22 mins, then left on a rack to cool.
- Heated 100ml double cream to boiling point and poured over 25g chopped white chocolate. Stirred until smooth then left to cool.
- Blended 100g raspberries with 2 level tbsp icing sugar then sieved to remove the seeds – this wasn’t as easy as I was expecting and it took a while to push the pulp through with a spoon.
- Whisked the cream until stiff – this also took much longer than I expected.
- Folded in half of the raspberry puree. I left the other half to drizzle on top, then at the last moment doubted my artistic drizzling abilities and used a lone raspberry as decoration instead.
These cupcakes were my contribution to a shared Transition meal where we were meant to be bringing along something slow and local. Well I know chocolate isn’t very local, but the wholemeal flour, eggs and raspberries were. If I’d been a bit more organised the butter could have been as well. They produced a really light yet moist sponge and when bitten into produced the closed eyes ecstatic response. The sponge was sweet but with a lovely tart tang when the hidden raspberries were bitten into. The raspberry cream was also very light, tasted fruity and was not too sweet making a nice contrast to the sponge beneath. They certainly disappeared pretty quickly and were pronounced to be “well good”. Yum yum, I will certainly be making these again.
First baked twenty years ago in Byron Bay, these cookies were the first to see the Australian sunrise each morning – Byron Bay being the most easterly point in Australia. Having come along way since the first batch of white choc chunk and macadamia nut cookies, they’ve now migrated to Britain as well as other parts of the world.
I was particularly attracted by the ethical stance of the company who are continually trying to reduce their carbon footprint. They use free range eggs and some fairtrade ingredients, many of which are locally sourced, such as their flour, oats, eggs, butter and honey.
A goodly sized box arrived in the post from Beyond the Bean, the main UK distributor for the Byron Bay Cookie Company. My initial thought was yippee – I always get excited when a parcel arrives in the post. But my first thought after unpacking the selection of chocolate cookies was, these aren’t ordinary cookies, they’re doorstops – I know size isn’t everything, but these are whoppers. They were all nearly half an inch thick and weighed in at 60g apiece. One per sitting is enough, unless like me, you are particularly greedy.
The wonderful smell of chocolate wafted upwards as soon as I opened the Triple Choc Fudge packet. Half biscuit, half cookie they don’t resist the bite, but are just the right side of crumbly. Unlike some chocolate chip cookies which can be quite sickly, these were not too sweet, but were very chocolatey. The biscuit mixture is liberally studded with chunks of white chocolate, dark chocolate and fudge which provide the majority of the sweetness.
The other cookies came individually wrapped, so would be an ideal packed lunch treat. Indeed, they would make an excellent walking companion. Having done some walking around Byron Bay, a couple of these would have been very welcome when hunger pangs set in. We’ve spent quite a lot of time this week down at the plot harvesting, digging and tidying up, so I know that these biscuits also make good gardening companions. CT will also vouch for that one.
The Milk Choc Chunk was my personal favourite having an almost creamy taste and texture with lots of chocolate studded throughout – you can see from the picture that these are by no means chocolate in name only.
CT’s favourite was the White Choc Chunk & Macadamia Nut, which was the company’s original cookie and I guess has withstood the test of time. It didn’t last long with us though. He felt macadamia nuts would make anything delicious, but particularly liked the crunchiness of the nuts contrasted with the creamy chocolate.
Dotty would especially appeal to children as the top is covered in colourfully coated chocolate beans that make for a fun look – the colours used in the beans are all natural. The cookie itself is full of milk chocolate chunks. This one was sweeter than the others because of the sugar coated beans, but nonetheless tasty for that.
The pack also included a couple of gluten free cookies, A triple chocolate Dotty and White Choc Chunk & Macadamia. Gluten intolerant cookie lovers will be pleased to know that there is a gluten free version for many in this range. These tasted particularly creamy, almost like shortbread and had a lovely melt in the mouth feel. They were however, rather crumbly – one was broken on arrival, the only one that was so, as the others arrived in perfect condition.
Unevenly sized and shaped, these are obviously meant to be reminiscent of home made cookies and I have to say – they are. Of course, I would now like to try their non-chocolate flavours, having read The Ordinary Cook’s review the sticky date ginger and walnut sounds particularly appealing; but then again so does their limited addition strawberries and clotted cream. All in all, I would be more than happy to munch my way through a few more of these cookies – in a cafe (which is the primary intended market) or in the great outdoors.
Having arrived home chocolateless from Ghent and with nothing sweet in the house, it didn’t take me too long to wonder what I could knock up in a hurry. A quick look through my books for a brownie recipe I haven’t yet tried, revealed these rather gorgeous sounding brownies from Linda Collister’s Divine.
This is how I did it – quickly the one pan way:
- Melted 125g unsalted butter with 100g 85% dark chocolate
- Stirred in 240g vanilla sugar (or add 1 tsp vanilla extract)
- Beat in 2 duck eggs.
- Stirred in 100g flour (85g wholemeal spelt and 15g buckwheat)
- Stirred in 75g chopped walnuts
- Poured into a greased 22 cm square tin and baked for 15 mins at 180C
- Meanwhile …….
- Melted 100g unsalted butter in the same unwashed pan.
- Beat in 100g of light muscovado sugar until incorporated.
- Beat in 2 tbsp double cream
- Stirred in 75g chopped walnuts
- Poured this over the not quite cooked brownies and put back in the oven for a further 5 mins.
- Tried to leave to cool, but couldn’t quite manage it – then cut into 16 squares.
It was a friend’s wedding, so of course I had to make cake – not THE cake, I hasten to add, intricate decorations are not my thing. So I thought I’d make some cupcakes for the day before the big event when friends and family would be arriving in droves.
There is so much to say about the wonderful city of Ghent, I hardly know where to begin. It’s a city about the size of Plymouth (where I work) and it couldn’t be more different. It’s flat for a start! Flat, of course, makes it nice and easy for cycling and it was truly wonderful to see so many cyclists scooting about – how I miss my bike. This combined with the many cobbled streets acted as a form of traffic calming and presumably a car deterrent – so much of the old city was car free – bliss.