Sunday, 19 October 2014

Choco Coco Cupcakes

It's been a while, hasn't it? Today, I bring you cupcakes.

Now, my dad loves coconut. But my mum doesn't. So, since it's my dad's birthday next week, I decided to bake him something with coconut. Last week, I stumbled across a likely looking recipe. It's for a Chocolate coconut cake, that's described as being like a certain chocolate bar... which happens to be one of dad's favourites!

Now, due to the fact that mum doesn't like coconut, I decided to bake this as cupcakes instead of a single round cake, and I did a trial run today, to see which tins I would need and how much this mix would make. This was a very good thing as I ended up with a full 24 cupcakes! I also made a few changes to the recipe to work with what I had. So without further ado, here is my take on Choco Coco Cupcakes!

  • 300g ground almonds
  • 100g desiccated coconut
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 175g softened butter
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 200ml coconut milk
  • 75g dark chocolate (55-70% cocoa)
  • 3 eggs
To make the cupcakes:
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and line  a total of 24 muffin or cupcake cups with paper liners or grease them with butter. 
  2. Mix the almonds and coconut with the cocoa powder and salt in a large bowl.
  3. Heat the coconut milk in a pot until it starts to boil, then take off the heat and add the chocolate, letting it melt under occasional stirring. Set aside while you prepare the rest of the mix.
  4. Cream the butter with the sugar until pale and fluffy. Slowly add one egg after the other, beating well after each addition.
  5. Once the eggs are mixed in, slowly add the chocolate coconut milk mixture and stir well, then add the dry ingredients and stir until well incorporated.
  6. Divide the mix between the cases and bake for 20-25 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.
  7. Leave to cool on a wire rack in the tins for 10 minutes, then turn out and leave to cool completely before decorating.

To decorate the cupcakes: 
For the Coconut Crumbles:
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 35ml water
  • 75g desiccated coconut
  1.  Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a baking tray with parchment.
  2. Dissolve the sugar in the water over a medium heat, then bring to the boil and boil for 1 minute.
  3. Put the coconut into a heat proof bowl and pour over the syrup.
  4. Mix well then spread out on the baking tray.
  5. Bake in the oven for 7-10 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure it browns evenly.
  6. Remove when the coconut is pale golden but still white in some places.
  7. Leave to cool on the tray, stirring occasionally to break it up into smaller pieces.

For the chocolate ganache:
  • 200ml coconut milk
  • 200g dark chocolate (70% cocoa or more)
  • 50ml coconut flavour syrup (I used Monin)
  1. Heat the coconut milk in a pot until boiling.
  2. Take from the heat and stir in the chocolate until compeltely melted and mixed in.
  3. Add the coconut syrup and stir again.
  4. Leave to cool at room temperature for a glaze, or chill in the fridge until spreadable.

Spread or drizzle the ganache over the cupcakes, crumble over the coconut and enjoy!

Tuesday, 26 November 2013


I've been making Christmas cookies again in recent weeks, and today it was the turn of Dad's favourite ones. After posting a picture of the finished cookies to FB, I realised that I hadn't actually shared the recipe on here yet.

So without further ado, here it is:

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Plums in Red Wine Preserve

Wow, I hadn't realised it's over a year since I last shared a recipe on here! I guess it's mostly due to me moving town, to a place with a much smaller (and badly laid out) kitchen. I haven't really found the time to experiment and cook as much as I used to.

But, today I bring you a recipe for plums in red wine, which I learned at a preserving class about a year ago. I only got one small glass from our course batch, but they went down a treat with my family, so today I made a batch for the larder. They're ideal over any kind of dairy based dessert such as icecream, yoghurt or even waffles, but last Christmas we had them over spiced panna cotta (from the Hairy Bikers' Christmas cookbook), and the combination was fantastic.

They're pretty quick to make, so give them a go. This recipe fills around 3-4 jars, depending on the size (the recipe says 3 jars of 500ml, but I didn't have those handy).


Sunday, 22 April 2012

Cookie Experiments

I've been experimenting with cookie recipes recently.

It all started when I went through my baking supplies and discovered the dried strawberry bits I'd bought last year. I decided that they would make a great addition to cookies, so taking Joy the Baker's recipe for Cappuccino Cookies as a base, I set about creating a recipe for Strawberries & Cream Cookies.

I replaced the extra egg yolk with a tablespoon of cream and slightly reduced the amount of sugar to compensate for the lack of bitter coffee in my version. In the end, they were still a touch too sweet for me, and the salt levels also needed adjusting, but overall I was quite pleased with my changes.

Today, I thought it might be a good idea to use the same base recipe to attempt one of my baking holy grails: Chocolate chocolate chip cookies. Taking my experiences with the strawberry cookies as guidelines, I reduced the sugar further, and then replaced 45g of flour with cocoa powder. I also reduced the amount of salt by half to just half a teaspoon. The result was exactly what I was looking for, a tender cookie that isn't too sweet with plenty of chocolate chunks, which if baked just right stays soft in the middle with a crunchy edge. Perfect.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Plum Season I: Plum Cake

Yesterday, I made the first plum cake of the season. My parents got a bag full of plums from a friend on Tuesday, way too many to eat, so I offered to take them off their hands and make some cake.

Now, German plum cake is a strange beast. It's usually made as a tray bake and the base is most commonly a yeast dough. On top of that, the plums are arranged tightly and upright in more or less neat rows, and quite often, that's all there is. The only variation that's common is a kind of streusel topping, called "Datschi". Often, these datschis are made as individual servings as small hand sized "flatbread", with the plums less neatly and tightly stacked. My favourite recipe however combines the two into one large streusel traybake.

(adapted from Basic Baking by Cornelia Schinharl and Sebastian Dickhaut)

for one large baking tray, you need:

Yeast dough:
  • 350g plain flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 50g sugar
  • 150-180ml milk
  • 30g fresh yeast (about 7g dried)
  • 50g softened unsalted butter
  • 1 egg

  • 2kg ripe plums

  • 130g cold unsalted butter
  • 100g flour
  • 100g ground hazelnuts
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 130g brown sugar

  1. Crumble and rub the fresh yeast into the flour in a large bowl, until well distributed. If using dried yeast, stir it into the flour.
  2. Add the salt and sugar and give a quick stir to mix it in, then rub the soft butter into the flour.
  3. Warm the milk to lukewarm and add to the flour together with the egg. If you want to prepare the dough in advance, leave the milk cold and proceed with a cold mix, leaving the dough to rise in the fridge (overnight for example).
  4. Knead the dough well until it becomes stretchy and doesn't stick to the edge of the bowl.
  5. Cover the dough and leave to rise for an hour in a warm place (or overnight in the fridge).
  6. While the dough is rising, it's time to prepare the plums. Wash them and slit them down one side to take out the stone. Don't cut them all the way through, leave them slightly attached on one side, like an opened book.
  7. Butter a large baking tray (ideally one that's at least 1.5-2cm/half an inch deep) or line it with baking paper.
  8. Knead the risen dough briefly, then either roll it out or simply use your fingers to press it out into all corners of the tray. The dough will probably be very thin, depending on the size of your tray, but that's okay, because it will rise again. Mine is usually less than 5mm in most places.
  9. Cover the dough again and set aside for 15 minutes to rise again.
  10. For the topping, you need to cut the cold butter into cubes.
  11. Either in a food processor or by hand, combine all topping ingredients until you have a crumbly mixture.
  12. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F.
  13. Arrange the plums upright on the dough, pressing them gently in a little bit.
  14. Bake in the middle of the oven for at least 35 minutes (possibly more, mine usually needs at least 50-60 minutes), until the edges are a deep golden brown and the topping is starting to brown.
  15. Leave to cool and enjoy with a big dollop of whipped cream.

I had more than the 2kg of plums the recipe required, so I made a double batch, and ended up with one tray and two tart-sized cakes (only one of which I baked straight away, the other one I've frozen raw, as an experiment).