Saturday, 19 March 2011

Chocolate spice cupcake

This little beauty is a chocolate spice cupcake. It is a thing of gorgeousness yet its looks do not even begin to describe the delight of its taste.

It's also a bone of contention. This cupcake was made by my dear husband from his family's secret recipe (for a larger cake) that he has tweaked to produce these marvels.

I accepted, during the years we were together before we married, that I was not able to have the recipe. Then we married, in 1998, and still the recipe was not forthcoming. I had his children. Still no recipe. They're now nine and seven. Still no recipe, although he has hinted that he will pass it on to his daughters. One day.

Me? Frustrated. Furious (and curious).

I have observed the baking process. It involves many processes, the separating of eggs, the mixing up of three different mixes which are combined at the last minute. It involves the careful incorporation of air, the melting of chocolate. I know what goes in but not the order. It's that which is vital.

The recipe is written in longhand in a little black book which is kept hidden from curious wives. Except last week when it lay, alluringly open, on the worktop. I considered theft. I considered this blog and the posting herein of said recipe.

Then I considered the consequences.

I quietly ate my cupcake. Well, three. Maybe one day I will get that recipe.


Friday, 11 March 2011

Cookies and Cream Brownies

These brownies were almost impossible for me to photograph. I baked them - they vanished.

They are inspired by Lorraine Pascale's recipe in her lovely book Baking Made Easy crossed with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's ultimate double chocolate brownies from The River Cottage Year.

What you do is cream 125g soft butter with 200g caster sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in two eggs and 50g cocoa powder.

This is where my recipe diverts with Hugh's. He melts 100g good chocolate with two tablespoons of warm milk and beats that in. I opened my chocolate cupboard and found that I had fed the cooking chocolate to the children in the form of a fondue and all that was left was a bar of Green and Black's sublime 85% plain chocolate. Now that is officially The Best Chocolate in The World and no way was I going to put 100g of it into brownies. Instead I meanly broke off a few squares (having tested it first, just to check) and I melted it with the milk and a good dollop of Tesco Value chocolate spread.

How big is a good dollop? Ah ha. I used a dessert spoon and I scooped with enthusiasm. Having cooked the brownies I can confirm it adds a certain wonderful fudginess, so don't hold back. Pause to lick the chocolate spread spoon.

Next beat the chocolate or the choc-spread mix into the butter, sugar, eggs and cocoa, fold in 75g of self-raising flour and then add a 154g packet of Oreo cookies broken into at least quarters. Spread the mixture into your brownie tin (approximately 15cm x 25cm) lined with baking parchment.

Bake at Gas mark 3/170 degrees C until nearly cooked - a skewer inserted into the middle will come out slightly sticky. Actually I overcooked the ones in the picture a little, but the chocolate spread kept them delightfully gooey.

Pile on a plate and watch them disappear!

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Simple pleasures: Welsh cakes

This post is for Sticky Fingers The Gallery and this week's theme is simple pleasures. Yesterday was St David's Day and, as my two traditionally dressed Welsh ladies hurtled off to school, they ordered reminded me that I usually make Welsh cakes.
Yummy Welsh cakes.
Then the day ambled off like days do and I did other things. At 2.15pm I remembered the Welsh cakes - half an hour before the school run. Fortunately being a simple sort of pleasure they are quick to make. Cheap too. I learned to make them by watching the ladies cooking them in Swansea market - the secret is to cook them just enough. Too long and they'll be dry in the middle.

All you do is rub 125g of butter into 250g of self-raising flour, stir in 75g caster sugar, 100g of sultanas and half a teaspoon of all spice and then mix in a large beaten egg and enough milk to make a soft dough. Roll out as you would for scones - they should be about a centimetre thick - and cut out. I use a 6.5cm fluted cutter.

Pop them on to a preheated griddle (or frying pan - no fat) and cook on each side until golden brown and still slightly soft in the centre. Sprinkle with more golden caster sugar and serve warm with a cup of tea. Blasus!

Sizzling gently on the griddle.