Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Banana Chocolate Chip Whoopie Pies

 (with Salted Caramel Sauce and White Chocolate Frosting)

Whoopie pies. These are something I have never made before, so I'm kind of achieving the goal I made recently. They were a big thing a couple of years ago, but I sort of missed the boat and had no idea what to expect because I've never had one from a shop/cafe. I would describe them as a cake-biscuit hybrid, they looked like cookies before being sandwiched together, but they taste more spongy than a normal cookie.

I couldn't decide how to fill mine, because I didn't have the right equipment to make the whoopie pie filling in the book I was using (on that note - why do we not have an electric whisk, mother? The old one broke months ago I'm dying here), so I decided to make some salted caramel sauce and the white chocolate frosting in the same recipe book. Great decision me, the flavours worked well together without being too sweet or any flavour overpowering the others. Synergy.

I used the recipes in Baked in America (a great book which I cannot believe I had never picked up before this!) for the whoopie pies and the white chocolate frosting, I used the recipes in   and this recipe for the salted caramel sauce (my tip is to avoid stirring the sugar as it melts, as this leads it to form clumps which ruined my first batch of sauce!).

In other news, have you seen that I changed my url?!?! I tried to do that a few months ago, but I failed miserably. I attempted it again after feeling like an internet magician due to attending a Decoded coding course (an incredible day!) and actually succeeded, so now I have a real, official-looking url!

I also made blueberry meringue pies with my own recipe and everything but I didn't get a chance to photograph them, which means I'll have to make them again soon - what a shame... So watch out for those!

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

The Perfect Single-Serving Brownie

My life is so tough. Not only have I been having to cook all my meals myself (what a shame...), but I've also been having to eat my way through countless one-serving brownies in order to create the perfect version. Hard, but someone's got to do it, right? The things I do for food... However, after many, many attempts, I'm pretty sure I've deciphered the secret to a gooey, chocolatey, molten, warming, filling, indulgent single-serving brownie, and my god I am in love.

This isn't a microwave-and-go recipe, because I sadly don't have access to one. On the other hand, I think using an oven gives you more reliability and therefore more happiness. Everyone wins! Plus, you get enough time while it's cooking to give your preferred tv/film enough time to load, or fast forward it on the tv to the perfect starting point, or even to run a bath, put a face mask on, or just to lie on the floor in a puddle of contentment. I have done all of these whilst waiting for it cook. 

Recipe (makes one large brownie, enough for two people if you're feeling generous):

4 tbsp plain flour
3 tbsp caster sugar
Just over 1/8tsp baking powder
2 tbsp cocoa powder
12g butter
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp milk
1 tbsp water
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
Handful chocolate chips
  1. Preheat the oven to 180oC.
  2. Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl.
  3. Add the wet ingredients, and whisk until combined.
  4. Scatter chocolate chips on top/combine in the brownie if desired.
  5. Place in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, depending on how gooey you want the centre to be.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Life Hacks: Doing Nothing

I think I have a serious case of procrastinating life. I'm not sure that that's even a real thing, but it's a self-diagnosis which is just as good. Every day I think of new, exciting, cool things that I want to do, and then about 10 minutes later I can't even peel myself off the settee to get food from the fridge, let alone do something interesting with my life. 

HOWEVER, I have decided that this is going to change. It's summer, I have all the time in the world, I've just got back from a week's holiday with my friends in Ayia Napa (admittedly not the most relaxing of holidays, and it's given me some form of cold/flu which isn't great), and I am ready to actually do things. Most of my life has been spent seeing other people do amazing things, and planning for a future that may never even happen. I always thought of myself as someone who did things and was self-motivated and all that, but recently it seems like I've just got stuck in a rut of nothingness. Now, it feels like time to get out of the rut. I have so many ideas that I need to put them into practice, and I want to make the most of my summer while I still have it. 

The only way I can think of making myself do things is to put them on the internet in the form of a blog post, and then hopefully I will actually stick to my goals because I know my mum will see this (hi, Jane), and she will constantly ask about how I'm doing with them. Cheers, mum. OK, here goes:
  1. I want to bake. I know I bake a lot already, but I want to bake properly. I want to make my own recipes, learn how to work with pastry, understand fiddly things I've never contemplated before. Therefore, I'm setting myself the goal of making one new and completely different recipe to anything I've ever done before each week. The updates will be posted on here (along with other, more simple recipes, because I'll be damned if I ever stop baking brownies).
  2. I want to make videos. I told myself ages ago that I was going to do this, and I even did wind up filming one (link here). It's something I've been wanting to do for so long, but I can never work up the energy/creativity/attention span to do it. Now, I will! So, recipe videos shall be featuring soon.
  3. I want to start being healthier. I promised myself I was going to go to the gym so much this summer, but it just hasn't happened yet. So, my goal is this: go to 3 gym classes a week, and get outside every single day. That's right, I'm going to go outside of the house. Brace yourselves.
  4. I want to become more politically literate, and more vocal in my opinions. I find it hard to argue with people in person, because my insides do a really annoying thing where my mouth dries up and my brain malfunctions and my heart feels like its going to explode. So, to avoid that, I shall be taking to the internet/my blog to vocalise my opinions on things that are important to me, as I have done a couple of times before (like this time). I'm also going to try and learn more about the world, maybe I'll even read a newspaper all the way through. Then again, maybe I won't.
So, there we have it. These are the 4 main things that come to my head right now. If I don't update my blog, or I just go silent again, comment on my posts and send me emails and shout at me on twitter or instagram and I will maybe feel guilty enough to do something. Hopefully, it won't come to that. 

Now, though, it's time I went to bed, seeing as I've had an average of 3 hours sleep each day for the past week! 

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Bourbons and Custard Creams

I love biscuits. I don't eat them all that often anymore, but when I was younger I would always eat a couple straight after school in front of Blue Peter (and then Neighbours, which I got hooked on solely because it was on straight after Blue Peter...) and damn, those were the days. Nowadays, I have a lot more time on my hands so I can actually make them for myself! 

Lately, I've been baking a lot of American-style food, so I thought a return to good, old-fashioned English biscuits was in order. Plus I ran out of chocolate chips. The custard creams were made following the recipe in Justin Gellatly's book, my current favourite. The dough is very buttery (as is the filling), and it's almost impossible to roll, but I got there in the end! These taste so nice, far better than any shop bought custard creams!

The bourbons, however, were entirely improvised and guessed at by me (and, if I say so myself, they turned out extremely well!). This is the first time I've made a recipe from scratch, so I'm very proud of myself! 

Bourbon biscuits (makes about 15 sandwiches):
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 125g butter
  • 1 egg
  • 180g plain flour
  • 50g cocoa powder
For the filling:
  • 100g dark chocolate
  • 50g butter
  • 150g icing sugar
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder
  1. Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.
  2. Beat in the egg.
  3. Sift in the flour and cocoa powder, combining until a ball of dough forms.
  4. Cover the dough, and leave to chill in the fridge for at least two hours.
  5. Preheat the oven to 140oC and line two trays with baking parchment.
  6. Roll out the dough on a floured surface to about 3-4mm thick, and cut into circles using cookie cutters (or cut freehand!).
  7. Bake for around 20 minutes, until the biscuits seem cooked and firm on top.
  8. Leave to cool.
  9. Melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl over a pan of simmering water.
  10. Remove from the heat and allow to cool a little.
  11. Sieve in the icing sugar and cocoa powder, and mix until well combined.
  12. Leave until cool.
  13. Sandwich the cooled biscuits together using the filling.
Keep them stored in an air-tight container (although they're definitely best fresh!).