Hi! Welcome to my blog. I am a major foodie, with a haphazard cooking philosophy, currently making that transition from cooking and baking for friends and family to 'wonder if I could make this my career'. Follow me for recipes, the outcomes of a few experiments, and general lovely foodiness. Opinions, reviews and recommendations are all my own.

Saturday, 29 June 2013

June's Feel Good Food Round Up: Blueberries

I'd like to start this post by thanking each and every person who took the time to enter and link up to this challenge from the bottom of my heart. I am over the moon with how many amazing blueberry-filled recipes we have here, (17 in total!), all of which combine so many other great ingredients; spelt flour, natural yoghurt, and wheat bran, but to name a few. The response to the challenge across the web has been fantastic too, it seems that there are a lot of 'foodies' out there who want to eat a little healthier without dieting or calorie counting, and I cannot wait to see what happens with next month's key ingredient!

To re-cap the reasons for this month's choice of ingredient, Blueberries are the ultimate superfood, rich in antioxidants, and full of key nutrients, they are great for reducing the risks of heart diseases, cancers and chronic diseases. Each of these recipes contain a healthy quantity of blueberries, so we can tuck into these tasty treats safe in the knowledge that we are consuming something definitely 'good for us'.

And so... without further ado... bring on the Blueberries!

Superfood Pancakes
Firstly I linked up my Superfood Pancakes, which, as well as the required blueberries, are made with oats and wholemeal flour, and are drizzled with healthy (yes, healthy - read the post) maple syrup.

Orange and Blueberry Muffins

The next entry came from Angela of My Golden Pear, and it was in the shape of these stunning Orange and Blueberry Muffins. Made with no butter, delicious seeded spelt flour, and a mix of golden caster sugar and a stevia sugar blend, these tick all the right boxes for being both a tasty and nutritious snack or breakfast option. 

Lemon and Blueberry Cupcakes

Ros from The More Than Occasional Baker made Lemon and Blueberry Cupcakes, which are low in fats and made with low fat yoghurt. Paired with the blueberries they make a great healthy snack, which is the perfect reason to reward yourself with the stunning lemon buttercream Ros has decorated them with!

Vegan Blueberry Bran Muffins

The next entry comes from the lovely Ness over at JibberJabber UK, in the form of these great looking Vegan Blueberry Bran Muffins. Ness has developed this recipe to contain no eggs or butter, and with the added wheat bran flour these will be packed with nutritious goodness!

Hazelnut, Lemon and Blueberry Layer Cake

Susie from Fold in the Flour entered this showstopping Hazelnut, Lemon and Blueberry Layer Cake, made with spelt flour and piled up with those gorgeous fresh blueberries, you can forgive a slice (or two) of this cake for it's nutritional contents and their health benefits!

Summer Berry and Chocolate Traybake
Jen over at Blue Kitchen Bakes updated this tasty looking Summer Berry and Chocolate Traybake to link up to this challenge, and I'm so glad she did! Jam-packed with raspberries, blueberries and chocolate chips, it sounds like every mouthful was full of flavour, and with most of the butter being replaced with natural yoghurt, making it lower fat than a normal cake.

Banana Spelt Pancakes with Blueberries

These mouthwatering Banana Spelt Pancakes with Blueberries came from Elizabeth of Elizabeth's Kitchen, and I would happily eat these for breakfast every day! You have to check out the post in full, as there is an extra bonus blueberry recipe in there too!

Chicken with Blueberry and Hot Pepper Sauce

I tried something savoury next, with this Mozzarella Stuffed Chicken, with Blueberry, Southern Comfort and Hot Pepper Sauce, an odd sounding combination but take it from me, this is a seriously good meal!

Blueberry and Chocolate Muffins

Choclette of Chocolate Log Blog linked up these yummy Blueberry and Chocolate Muffins, which are made from a mixture of spelt and coconut flour, and have loads of extra tasty flavours including cinnamon and cardamom.

Energy Boost Berry Muffins

Michelle at Utterly Scrummy is up next, with a batch of Energy Boost Berry Muffins. Packed full of wheat bran, oats, and fresh berries, these are a perfect 'pick-me-up' treat for after school... or breakfast, elevenses or lunch too!

Blueberry and Vanilla Midsummer Night Tarts

Me again, this time with Blueberry and Vanilla Midsummer Night Tarts. Now aside from the blueberries here, I'm not sure how far I can go to class these as healthy. I can however promise that they will make you feel good! 

Roasted Blueberry Cupcakes

Jennifer is new to blogging over at What Jenny Baked, and she really intrigued me with these Roasted Blueberry Cupcakes. Roasting the blueberries before adding them to the cake batter intensifies their colour and flavour, something that I will definitely be trying in the future.

Greek Yoghurt, Blueberry and Chocolate Parfait

Next up, Elizabeth from The Law Student's Cookbook whipped up these tasty Greek Yoghurt, Blueberry and Chocolate Parfaits, a great quick, easy and nutritious breakfast dish.

Lemon, Blueberry and Blackcurrent Swirl Loaf

A great looking tasty loaf cake for you next from Kat, The Baking Explorer, with this Lemon, Blueberry and Blackcurrent Swirl Loaf, packed full of fruit and flavour, who could resist a slice with a steaming mug of tea.

Lemon and Blueberry Cupcakes

Another great Lemon and Blueberry flavour combination here from Cupcake Girl, with these pretty looking Lemon and Blueberry Cupcakes, with a Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting. These two flavours never fail to work perfectly together.

Vegan Blueberry Lemon Loaf Cake

Nicole Bremner blogged this tantalising looking Vegan Blueberry Lemon Loaf Cake, alongside a review of a new Vegan Cookbook - The Naughtiest Cupcake. This cake is not only vegan, but also gluten free, and with those super healthy blueberries too, this has to be one of the healthiest ways to consume awesome yummy cake!

Blueberry Banana Smoothie

And last, but by no means least, is this super Blueberry Banana Smoothie from Kavitha at Techie Cookie Freaky. Quick and simple, this is a great tasty breakfast recipe, and is open to be added to at will!

And that folks is it! 17 amazing recipes containing a good healthy dose of goodness in blueberry form. Once again, thanks to all for entering, and check back tomorrow morning to find out what July's special ingredient will be! 

Friday, 28 June 2013

Mini Swedish Princesstarta

This cake has been on my 'to-bake' list ever since Lucy at Supergolden Bakes and I ogled some snaps of it over on Pinterest. I decided it was going to be my bake for the April meeting of the Chesterfield Clandestine Cake Club, as the theme was Happy Birthday Your Majesty, but alas I couldn't make the event. It was then going to be my bake for the June meeting, when the theme was Cakes from Around the World, but once again life (or more specifically work) got in the way. 

This month, the Tea Time Treats challenge is Layer Cakes, whilst the Calender Cakes challenge is Pump Up The Jam, and as both of these challenges end today, and I was damned if I was going to miss another opportunity to bake this amazing cake, I grabbed a mixing bowl as soon as I got in last night, and didn't stop whisking until these beautiful mini Swedish Princesstartas were sat on the table in front of me. Now all I have to do is write up the recipe before the end of today... Let's hope I don't get distracted! 

A Swedish Princesstarta is traditionally made of layers of sponge, jam, pastry cream, and domed whipped cream and covered with a pale green marzipan. I have combined my go-to recipes for each of the above components, but I did scale everything down here to make two smaller cakes, as with the fresh cream elements it won't keep as long as a normal cake. If you wanted to make this as a celebration cake (for which it would be perfect) just double up all the quantities and use an 8 inch cake pan for a stunning centrepiece. 

Ingredients (makes 2 small cakes)

For the Sponge
  • 60 grams salted butter
  • 60 grams golden caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 60 grams self-raising flour
  • 1 tablespoon milk
For the Pastry Cream
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 25 grams vanilla sugar (or caster sugar and vanilla extract)
  • 2 teaspoons cornflour
  • 110 grams full fat milk
To Assemble
  • 2 tablespoons Strawberry Jam (I used Mackay's Strawberry Preserve)
  • 4-5 fresh strawberries
  • 300ml double cream, whipped
  • 300 grams marzipan
  • green and pink gel food colours

First, make the sponge cake. Pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees, and line two 5'' cake tins. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat well. Sift in the flour, and gently fold into the mixture until combined, then add the milk, and fold again to loosen the mixture. Divide the mixture between the two prepared tins, and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the sponge is firm to touch. Remove from the oven, and place on a cooling rack.

Whilst the cake is baking, make the pastry cream. Place the egg yolk, sugar and cornflour in a bowl, and whisk until smooth and silky. Heat the milk in a saucepan until just warm. Remove from the heat, and add to the egg mixture slowly, whisking continuously. Once all the milk has been added, return to the saucepan, and heat over a low heat, continuing to whisk the mixture until it thickens to a custard. Remove from the heat, transfer to a bowl, and set aside to cool to room temperature, then place in the fridge to cool completely. Stir occasionally to prevent a skin from forming. 

Once the cake and the pastry cream are completely cool, you can assemble the Princesstarta as follows;

Take a serrated knife, and slice each cake horizontally to create two layers. 

Spread a tablespoonful of strawberry jam on each of bottom layers.

Add a layer of chopped fresh strawberries.

Divide the pastry cream between the two cakes.

Place on the top layer of the sponge.

Use a pallet knife to use a little of the whipped cream to seal in the edges of the filling, then heap the rest on top of the two cakes.

Take the marzipan, and reserve a little (about 20g) to make the traditional rose decoration. Colour the remainder with the green food colouring. Divide the green marzipan into two equal portions, roll each out to around 5mm thick, and use to cover the Princesstarta, smoothing the tops to shape the cream underneath to a dome shape.

Trim the edges to remove an excess marzipan, and tuck the cut edges under the cake for a neat finish. 

Decorate with a pink marzipan rose (tutorial to follow) and a dusting of icing sugar. 

Store in the fridge, serve chilled, and consume within two days.

I am linking this recipe up with Tea Time Treats, hosted by Karen from Lavender and Lovage and Kate from What Kate Baked as the theme is Layer Cakes, of which this little beauty has plenty!!

I am also linking with Calender Cakes, hosted by Rachel of Dolly Bakes and Laura of Laura Loves Cakes, where the theme this month is Pump Up The Jam. 

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

June's We Should Cocoa Round Up: Mint

Wow-o-wow! My goodness did everyone rise to the mint challenge this month! This round up is going to be a veritable feast of cakes, brownies, ice creams, cookies, meringues and all manner of tasty bakes! I don't think we've quite reached the record number of entries (I'm pretty sure the coffee challenge last year had over 50), however we are coming in with a respectable 32!

One of the things that struck a chord with me the most as I was reading and re-reading these posts was how many started with words along the lines of 'I don't normally like chocolate and mint, but...' I'm so impressed with everyone that baked outside of their comfort zone with this challenge, and the result is a really great and varied range of minty chocolate recipes to suit all tastes. There are also some really amazing flavour combinations in here - look out for the minted raspberries, and the mint, chilli and lime combo in particular! 

Anyways, let this seriously epic round up commence, and get ready for some seriously minty-fresh chocolate creations!

Almost Guiltless Chocolate Mint Ice Cream

Janet from The Taste Space was straight off the mark with her Almost Guiltless Chocolate Mint Ice Cream. This glorious looking creation is vegan, and as the title suggests, almost guiltless! Born of an ice cream craving, and a happy coincidence from freezing a mousse, we have to thank Janet for a recipe that can be an ice cream, a mousse, or a tart depending on your mood.

Triple Mint Chocolate Cake

The second entry came from the lovely Ness at JibberJabberUK, in the form of this decadent Triple Mint Chocolate Cake. Ness has recreated all the flavour of mint choc-chip ice cream, but in comforting cake form, and with no less than three mint ingredients!

Grasshopper Bars

How amazing do these Grasshopper Bars from Janine at Cake of the Week look!? Adapted from a millionaires shortbread recipe, these yummy looking bars are topped with chocolate ganache and a caramel flavoured with Creme de Menthe!

Chocolate Eton Mess with Hazelnut Meringue and Minted Raspberries

I love everything about this next entry from Under The Blue Gum Tree, Chocolate Eton Mess with Hazelnut Meringue and Minted Raspberries. Such a great combination of flavours and textures, and a really unique spin on the mint theme for this month.

Mint Chocolate Cookie Sandwich

Rebecca from BakeNQuilt created these tasty Mint Chocolate Cookie Sandwich with a rich decadent crunchy cookie, filled with a peppermint buttercream, I'll bet you could change these up with any flavour filling too.

Mint Aero Chocolate Chip Cupcakes

Jenny of What Jenny Baked has just started blogging, in fact these Mint Aero Chocolate Chip Cupcakes were her first ever blog post, and she has entered them into We Should Cocoa! Join me in saying a big hello to Jenny, and head over to check out her new blog!

Garden Mint Truffles

A delicious treat up next in the form of these Garden Mint Truffles from Jill at Lapin d'Or and More, these 'skinny' truffles are made from a mint infused syrup used to make the chocolate ganache. Yum!

Chocolate Mint Brownies

Angela from My Golden Pear is up next with these pretty Chocolate Mint Brownies, which look so gooey and rich, and then have that beautiful peppermint cream layer too.

Andy Murray Mint Slice

As Wimbledon kicks off this week, here is the aptly named Andy Murray Mint Slice, from Becky at Mint Custard. Regardless of how successful it's namesake is, I'm certain that this treat is a winner!

Peppermint Creams

I haven't made a batch of Peppermint Creams since I was studying Home Ec at school, but this lovely batch made by Angela from Garden, Tea, Cakes and Me and her niece for Father's Day has made me rethink. I love that this variation uses condensed milk rather than cream or egg whites too, as I imagine it is less perishable (not that they would last long enough to test that in our house). 

Mint Chocolate Chip Pancakes

Elizabeth is next, over from the Law Student's Cookbook, with these tasty Mint Chocolate Chip Pancakes. A great recipe, and nice to see the chocolate-mint theme being brought into some breakfast bakes. 

Treat Me Chocolate Mint Bars

Lucy, of The KitchenMaid, entered these Oreo-stuffed, No-Bake, Chocolate Ganache-smothered Chocolate Mint Bars. Yes you heard me, oreos... no bake... ganache... droooooool! 

Chocolate Marble Cake

When Suelle at Mainly Baking entered this Chocolate Marble Cake, for a split second I was gutted, as I was planning something marbly myself. But when I read her fabulous creation, which combines Mint, Lime and Chilli together in this pretty marbled Bundt cake, I knew that she had done a far better job than I ever could! I really really want a slice of this cake!

Chocolate Mint Cookies

Next up is a batch of perfectly formed Chocolate Mint Cookies from The After School Cake Tin. I love the shimmery effect of the demerara sugar sprinkled on top before baking too. 

Chocolate and Garden Mint Loaf Cake

How rich and yummy does this Chocolate and Garden Mint Loaf Cake from Lancashire Food look? Made using fresh Garden Mint turned into an infused tea within the cake, and a syrup drizzled over the top, it sounds like a great way to use a herb growing in the back garden. 

Chocolates with a Peppermint Filling

Johanna writes her Green Gourmet Giraffe blog from Melbourne in Australia, and entered these handmade Chocolates with a Peppermint Filling. They look really great, I can never manage to avoid the bloom, and Johanna also lists some great alternative flavours for fillings.

Vegan Peppermint Mocha Cupcakes

Rachel Cotterill created this perfect combination of flavours in her Vegan Peppermint Mocha Cupcakes. Chocolate, Coffee and Mint really are flavours that work well together, and these cupcakes get their moisture from pure coffee rather than eggs and butter. 

Chocadoodledoo Cake

Our We Should Cocoa founder Choclette is next, with her Chocadoodledoo Cake, named after her own cocktail recipe of the same name. This cake contains a chocolate genoese sponge, fresh strawberries and cream, and a fresh mint syrup, all layered up in this gorgeous homage to summer. 

Mint Chocolate Brownies

Craig from The Usual Saucepans (what a great blog name) adapted a cheesecake-topped brownie by flavouring the cheesecake element with mint to create this variation of a Mint Chocolate Brownie. Such a great idea, and it sounds like his tasters were very complimentary about the combination. 

Vegan Mint Chocolate Chip Cupcakes

Another vegan bake here from Caroline of Caroline Makes. These Vegan Mint Chocolate Chip Cupcakes were made from a Melissa Morgan book, and Caroline bravely made a batch to take to a vegan meeting where the author herself would be sampling! Needless to say they were very well received! 

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ness at Jibber Jabber took inspiration from supermarket bakery cookies, and proved that we can always do it better ourselves with these lovely Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Vegan Mint Chocolate Mousse

Another great vegan entry here, as Jen at Blue Kitchen Bakes perfected this unctuous-looking Vegan Mint Chocolate Mousse, using avocado and maple syrup in place of cream or eggs. Doesn't it just make you want to pick up a spoon and dive in?

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream

Elizabeth at Elizabeth's Kitchen cooked up a treat with this decadent and creamy Mint Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream... my absolute two favourite ice cream flavours rolled into one, I actually jumped at the chance and made a batch myself at the weekend, and can vouch first hand for how amazing it is!

Mint Chocolate Macarons

I finally got my act together and decided on an idea for the theme, and created these brightly coloured Mint Chocolate Macarons, the delicate peppermint meringue perfectly complimented the rich dark mint chocolate ganache filling.

Vegan Chocolate Mint Cake

Last month's We Should Cocoa host Shaheen from Allotment to Kitchen submitted a Vegan Chocolate Mint Cake, that also goes by the name of Father Ted Cakes. Originally made to celebrate St Patrick's Day, Shaheen has re-created these tasty cakes using a mint syrup, but had provided an alternative version too using After Eight mints.

Chocolate Chip Cookies with Fresh Mint

There are little flecks of green shining through these pretty Chocolate Chip Cookies from That Nutty Tart, which have fresh Strong Mint baked into the cookie dough. They sound divine, and apparently didn't last long enough to have their own studio photo shoot...

Mint Brownie Pie

A grown-up variation of the chocolate brownie now, as Hannah at the Corner Cottage Bakery encased hers in pastry, and added cocoa nibs to create this classy Mint Brownie Pie. Less grown-up is the giant squid pillow driving her car... you'll have to look for yourselves!

Chocolate Mint Cake

A sumptuous chocolate cake next from Eira over at Cookbooks Galore, this Chocolate Mint Cake is flavoured with garden mint extract, and filled with a mint flavoured cream cheese frosting. It looks heavenly don't you think?

Pimms, Blackberry and Elderflower Jelly

I was always expecting something a little different from the lovely Dom of Belleau Kitchen, but I'm pretty sure I wasn't prepared for a large jelly in the shape of the Queen's head... Dom infused his jelly mixture with fresh mint leaves, and decorated with white chocolate it ticks all the right boxes. I'm very interested in the new Blackberry and Elderflower Pimms too.

Crème de Menthe & Chocolate Sandwich Biscuits

Double chocolatey goodness next in the shape of these Crème de Menthe & Chocolate Sandwich Biscuits from Mel at Sharky Oven Glove. These yummy chocolate biscuits are sandwiched around a layer of crème de menthe flavoured white chocolate filling.

Chocolate Peppermint Squares

As a devoted baker, I am seriously concerned about how excited I get over a recipe title that contains the words 'No-Bake'! I think its the promise of a more immediate gratification. And when said recipe comes with a photo the likes of the one above from Karen at Lavender and Lovage with her Easy No-Bake Chocolate Peppermint Squares, well, I'm sure you can understand my giddiness! I love the use of Kendall Mint Cake in this recipe too.

Chocolate Mint Pattie Brownie

Last, but by no means least, Ros, The More Than Occasional Baker, created these Chocolate Mint Pattie Brownies, with Mint Patties all the way from America baked into the brownie batter. Ros' colleagues were the lucky recipients of these gooey treats... I'm not jealous at all!

And that folks, is all! Thank you so much to each and everyone of you that took the time to link your lovely minty recipes back to We Should Cocoa. It's been a pleasure to host for the month. Check back to Choclette's blog to find out who the July host is, and which special flavour they have chosen.