Saturday, 29 March 2014

Goji Berry Granola Bars

Granola bars with goji berries and chocolate chips

I really could have gone one of these Goji Berry Granola Bars last Sunday. Disneyboi and I both ran 6miles (10K) in aid of Sport Relief and the bars would have provided us with plenty of needed energy!

nu3 a company which sells nutrients and supplements across Europe asked if I would like to try out their Goji berries. As you may know goji berries are powerful wee things – packed full of protein, vitamin C, carotenoids, B vitamins and iron. And that’s only half of it. Plus they taste lightly fruit and almost a bit like tea.

So I wanted to incorporate these dried superfruit berries into something slightly on the healthier side – granola bars. They are made with toasted oats, chopped hazelnuts and other delicious healthier ingredients. They are bound together by a bit of butter and sugar, but that makes them perfect energy bars.

I based these on granola bars I saw over at Inspired Taste. But they are so adaptable, you could add other ingredients you love. Here’s my take on them:

Yield: About 18 bars

230 grams porridge oats
80 grams chopped hazelnuts
30 grams desiccated coconut
113 grams agave nectar (or honey)
56 grams unsalted butter, cubed
50 grams light muscavado sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or extract)
Pinch of Salt
60 grams goji berries
70 grams chocolate chips
Adapted from Inspired Taste

Line an 8”x8” square baking pan with greaseproof paper and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 180C and place the oats on a large baking sheet (if the hazelnuts aren’t pre-roasted, add them to the baking sheet also). Pop into the oven when it gets to temperature and bake for 5 minutes, remove and stir about and return to the oven for  another 3 minutes. Transfer these to a large bowl with the coconut.

In a saucepan, melt the butter, agave nectar (or honey), sugar, vanilla and salt and then add to the mix of nuts and oats. Stir thoroughly to combine. Add the goji berries and mix in thoroughly. Lastly add the chocolate chips, after leaving the mix to cool a little. They will still melt slightly, so don’t worry.

Transfer the mix to the prepared pan and press down firmly with an off-set spatula or similar. Press down as hard as you can to ensure the bars stay together and don’t crumble away. Pop into the fridge for two hours to cool.

Once set, remove from the pan and peel away the greaseproof paper and with a sharp knife cut into bars. I got 18 from my batch.

The bars are chewy and sweet and very moreish! They keep in an airtight box for a few days – if you can make them last that long! Enjoy…

Check out nu3 for the goji berries and their other items.

And lastly a big thank you to everyone who sponsored Disneyboi and I for our run. Between us we raised over £450 in aid of Sport Relief.

Disclosure Statement: I received the goji berries free to review. I was not asked to write a positive review and any opinions expressed are my own.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

No-Bake Cheesecake with Micro Eggs

I love cheesecakes, so it surprised me when I realised that I had never made one here on Cakeyboi. I love them all, baked ones, no-bake cheesecakes, fruity ones – any at all.

My earliest memories of cheesecake were those boxed ones, which you made up very quickly. Melt the butter, mix it with the crushed biscuit provided in the box, press it into a cake tin and chill whilst you made up the filling. The filling was a non-descript sachet of white powder, which if I remember correctly you just added milk to. You beat this for a couple of minutes with a mixer and it turned a yellow colour, thicker in consistency.

The filling was then added to the chilled base and then chilled again. Then we (mum and I) usually devoured this for ‘afters’ on a Sunday teatime.

It was a bit of a running joke, but when my mum made up the base, as instructed on the packet, it always turned out brick-hard. Around that time, in the charts there was a song called ‘Solid’ by Ashford and Simpson. You may remember it, it went ‘solid as a rock, baby…’ so anytime mum or I have made cheesecake since, we always sing what we call ‘the cheesecake song’.

Anyway, I wanted to make something replicating that no-bake cheesecake from back in the day. I could have simply bought a box and made one up, but where would the fun be in that? So, here is the best I oculd come up with. (I added a wee bit of yellow food colouring to the filling as it just didn’t seem right looking natural!)

Also, in lieu of Easter which is here in a few weeks, I added some of those mini-Mini Eggs AKA Micro Eggs. I thought the colours worked well in the cheesecake and added a little extra ‘bite’. This also heralds a few Easter bakes which I will be sharing over the next couple of weeks…

print recipe

No-Bake Cheesecake with Micro Eggs
  • 150 grams digestive biscuits
  • 100 grams dark brown sugar
  • 75 grams unsalted butter
  • 500 grams full-fat cream cheese
  • 100 grams icing sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or extract)
  • 200 ml double cream
  • 200 grams micro eggs (optional)
Line an 8"x8" square tin with greaseproof paper. In a food processor, or in a plastic bag with a rolling pin, crush the biscuits until fine. Melt the butter in a saucepan.

 In a large bowl add the crushed biscuits, sugar and melted butter. Mix together fully and then transfer to the lined tin. Press this down firmly and don't go up the sides of the tin. Chill this in the fridge until set. About half an hour. 

 In a separate bowl, mix together the icing sugar and cream cheese until smooth. Lightly whip the double cream until soft peaks hold and then fold into the cream cheese mix. Stir through the vanilla bean paste and lastly fold in 150 grams of the micro eggs if using. Dollop this mix on top of the biscuit base and smooth over. Place into the fridge to set, about 1 hour. 

Lastly stud the top of the cheesecake with the remaining micro eggs. Carefully remove from the tin using the greaseproof paper and slice into squares. Enjoy!

Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 1 8"x8" cheesecake

Monday, 24 March 2014

Cosmopolitan Hot Cross Buns

Cranberry, Orange and Lime Hot Cross Buns

I was recently asked if I would like to take part in the ‘Stork Hot Cross Bun Easter Challenge’ by the good people at Stork. Stork is such a well-known name in British kitchens and I jumped at the chance (especially as the first prize is a snazzy food mixer).

I was asked to come up with a recipe for Hot Cross Buns, using Stork of course, with a modern twist and complete the following sentence:

‘My Secret to better Easter Baking with Stork is giving Hot Cross Buns a modern twist by…’, well here goes–

My Secret to better Easter Baking with Stork is giving Hot Cross Buns a modern twist by flavouring them with a very on-trend cocktail – the Cosmopolitan. The cranberry, lime and orange in a Cosmopolitan are flavours that would work so well in the bun – even without any alcohol!

I substituted some of the mixed fruit for dried cranberries, added orange juice to the dough and finally glazed the buns with lime-flavoured icing. The result was a hot cross bun, which still retained the familiar traditional elements, but added a new dimension of flavour as well.

Here’s how I made them:

Yield: 20 buns

½ ounce of dry active yeast
300 ml orange juice (warmed in microwave for 10 seconds)
113 grams Stork, softened
115 grams caster sugar
3 eggs
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
75 grams dried mixed fruit
75 grams dried cranberries
650 grams plain flour, divided
adapted from Taste of Home

Glaze and Icing:
Juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon caster sugar
3-4 tablespoons Icing sugar

In a large bowl add the yeast and half the warm orange juice. After 5 minutes add the Stork, sugar, eggs, salt, cinnamon, mixed fruit and cranberries. 

Mix this until it is well combined then add 300 grams of plain flour and mix until combined then add the last 650 grams and mix in with your hands and form the dough.

Transfer to a floured surface and knead for 5-6 minutes. Place into a greased bowl and cover with some clingfilm. Leave the bowl in a warm spot for an hour to prove. After the hour, knock the risen dough back, knead for another minute and then divide the dough into 20 even balls. Place onto baking sheets lined with greaseproof paper and slash a cross in the top of each ball. Cover the baking sheets with a dishtowel. Allow them to rest for 30-45 minutes and pre-heat the oven to 180C. 

Place them in the oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Whilst cooling, make a glaze from one tablespoon of the lime juice and I tablespoon of caster sugar, mix these until the sugar dissolves. With a pastry brush, brush the glaze over the top of each bun.

Lastly make a simple icing from the icing sugar and one teaspoon of lime juice, which is a thick consistency that can be drizzled.

Carefully with a spoon, or with a little icing bag, pipe a cross of icing on top of each bun. Allow the icing to set and your Cosmopolitan Hot Cross Buns (or Hot Cos’ Buns as I like to call them) are ready.


Disclosure Statement: I was not paid to write this post. Stork provided me with the basic ingredients to make hot cross buns. Any additional ingredients were purchased by myself.

Bahlsen PiCK UP! Biscuit Giveaway

Have you heard of PiCK UP!? It’s the new biscuit from the people at Bahlsen.

Have a look at the advert below – featuring a rather obscure ninja Chihuahua?! It’s hilarious.

PiCK UP! is thick slab of milk chocolate sandwiched between two crisp biscuits. How good does that sound?

Well, you can find out by entering this Flash Giveaway here on Cakeyboi! Bahlsen have case of PiCK UP biscuits to giveaway –a case contains 14 packets, and each packet contains five individually wrapped PiCK UP! biscuits - 70 biscuits in total! That’s a lot of biscuits to grab, so enter below by the Rafflecopter thingamajig below before midnight next Monday (31 March) to be in with a chance of winning this great, delicious prize!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure Statement: I received a case of PiCK UP! Biscuits for hosting this giveaway. Any opinions expressed are my own.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Mini Blueberry Muffin Doughnuts

mini blueberry muffin doughnuts

I'd bought a mini doughnut tray months ago and still hadn’t used it. But I was in the mood for blueberry muffins – what to do?! Why not create a hybrid I thought and these mini blueberry muffin doughnuts were born.

This is really just blueberry muffin batter baked into little circles – so why bother? Well, after baking them I discovered that they are crunchy and crispy all over the outside and soft and fluffy in the middle. Who doesn’t love the hard crusty top on their blueberry muffins? Well, now you can have it all over, because the way the doughnut pan bakes these, ensures good all-round crispiness!

Instead of fresh blueberries, I boiled some frozen blueberries in a saucepan with a touch of sugar to intensify the blueberry flavour. Also whole blueberries would be too big for these mini beauties. Here’s how I made them:

Yield: 80 mini doughnuts!

125 grams frozen blueberries
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
375 grams self-raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
200 grams caster sugar
125 ml vegetable oil
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
Icing Sugar to dust
adapted from Good Food

In a saucepan, add the blueberries, water and sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until a thick jam like consistency is achieved – this should take only a few minutes.

Lightly grease the doughnut tray. Pre-heat the oven to 180C. In a large bowl sift together the flour, baking powder and caster sugar. In a jug, whisk together the oil, egg and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix just until combined. Lastly stir through the blueberry mix from the saucepan.

Transfer the batter to a disposable piping bag, or a food bag with the corner snipped off, and carefully fill each cavity in the doughnut pan about half full. 

Place this into the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes or until the mini doughnuts are golden brown on top.

Let them cool for a couple of minutes and then turn them out on to a cooing rack. Re-grease the baking tray and repeat until the batter is all used up. I did this four times as my tray has 20 cavities. In between each bake, place the sealed piping bag up turned in a jug so the batter doesn’t leak out.

When they are all cooled, open a large plastic food bag and add a tablespoon of icing sugar. Fill the bag half full with doughnuts and shake to cover them in icing sugar. Repeat until all the doughnuts are dusted.

And there you have bite-size blueberry muffins in doughnut format with a satisfying crunch crust all the way round! Enjoy…

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Golden Syrup and Oat Cookies

syrup and oat biscuits
Where did these Golden Syrup and Oat Cookies originate from? Read on…

I was asked recently if I would like to take part in a baking competition (in connection with McCarthy and Stone who build retirement homes), which is celebrating our mothers (as mother’s day is just around the corner) – and the recipes which have been passed down to us by our mums.

Of course I wanted to join in. I remember baking with both my mum and my gran (my mum’s mum) when I was young, which really got me started on my baking path.

Mum and I used to bake these particular cookies together. Back in the day though I would have called them biscuits, as cookies were something weird and wonderful from the ‘other side of the pond’.

The smell of golden syrup and oats baking together is so evocative; it completely takes me back to when I was little, making these with mum supervising me. They are almost flapjack like, but also like thin chewy lace cookies. The umber colour is also another reason that I like them. The sugars caramelise and give these cookies their lovely deep caramel hue.

The recipe is a fairly simple one but I don’t remember bakes being as fancy or elaborate as they are nowadays. This is good old fashioned plain, honest baking which was the order of the day when I was wee in the late 1970’s.

And the plate these are pictured on at the top is something my mum will recognise straight away. This plate I found at a reclamation type place recently, but it’s the same dinner service we had when I was growing up. So, the plate and the cookies are a double hit of nostalgia…Here’s the recipe.

Yield: Approx 20 cookies

100grams of self-raising flour
100grams of porridge oats
1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
100 grams unsalted butter
½ teaspoon salt
100 grams caster sugar
2 tablespoons golden syrup

Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Line a couple of large baking sheets with greaseproof paper.

In a bowl, mix together the flour, oats and bicarb.

In a large saucepan melt the butter, sugar and syrup and add the salt. 

When fluid, remove from the heat and pour over the flour mix. Stir until all the ingredients are just combined. Take heaped tablespoons of the mix and place on the baking sheets, making sure they are spaced well apart – they spread.

Bake them in the oven for 10 minutes or until they have turned a deep orangey colour. Transfer these to a baking sheet and allow to cool before removing them from the paper.

These store well in an airtight container for a few days and stay chewy and soft.

I hope these bring back memories for some of you, like they did me. And for those that haven’t tried them before – enjoy!

Early Happy Mother’s day Mum!

Monday, 17 March 2014

Spring Cookies

Spring is finally here I feel and these Spring Cookies have nothing to do with the season!

Actually a couple of fellow bloggers – Laura at I’d Much Rather Bake Than and Rachel at Dollybakes have challenges on with the theme of Spring.

I thought I would take this very literally and make cookies that look like springs!

These were very easy to make. I just used some sugar cookie dough I had leftover from making my Slice of Pie cookies a few weeks back. I’d wrapped the leftover dough twice in clingfilm and when I took it out of the freezer I let it thaw completely before rolling out into rectangles – 30cm long. The width doesn’t matter so much.

Taking a pizza cutter, I then cut strips lengthwise (i.e. the full 30cm) and about 2 .5 to 3cm wide.

I then cut sheets of greaseproof paper, about 15cm by the width of the roll and rolled these strips into tubes. Carefully taking each strip, I wound it round each tube and placed it on to a baking sheet lined with more greaseproof paper.

Now the important bit – chill the unbaked cookies for 1 hour in the fridge. This ensures they keep their shape when baking. Pre-heat the oven to 180C whilst the cookies are chilling.

After the hour, pop them into the oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until they turn golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow them to cool completely.

Once fully cooled, on to the tricky bit – getting the greaseproof paper out! I teased and prodded the paper with the end of a teaspoon, gently prising the paper away from the inside of the cookies.  A couple did break admittedly, but I managed to salvage half coils. And the broken bits are great for snacking on.

Once you have de-grease(proof paper)ed the cookies you can decorate. I made a simple solution of some icing sugar and water and brushed this on to the cookies (don’t over do it, or the cookies turn soft and lose their shape) and sprinkled with some sprinkles.

The cookies are fun to eat and would make a good talking point if taken along to a party! Enjoy…

And as I said at the top, I am entering these into this month’s Biscuit Barrel, hosted by Laura at I’d Much Rather Bake Than, the theme being Spring.

And into Calendar Cakes, hosted by Laura at Laura LovesCakes and this month Rachel at Dollybakes. The theme is Spring into Action – and these cookies certainly look full of energy!

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Easy Chocolate Hazelnut Croissants

Nutella croissants

I made these easy chocolate hazelnut croissants after I was recently asked to try out some of Jus-Rol’s products and I jumped at the chance.

Jus-Rol make several products, probably the most well known being pastry. I always think ready-made pastry is a godsend. I have made various types of pastry, but when you can buy fresh, or frozen from the supermarket, it can save a ton of time.

Aside from their pastry they also sell a range of brilliant ready made Bake-It-Fresh goodies, these include cookie dough, garlic bread, focaccia, apple Danish, cinnamon swirls and croissants. I chose their croissants to bake as I love them and knew I wanted to pimp them up a little bit.

Of course, these flaky buttery French pastries are perfectly good (and delicious) on their own. But how about spreading some Nutella in them and some chopped nuts? That would make these even more irestistable, if possible.

I simply opened a can of the Jus-Rol croissant (tip, after peeling back the little bit of paper, whack the edge of the can off the worktop) and out they puffed. The can opens up revealing a tight roll of the croissant dough. I unrolled and separated the 6 triangles on my work surface. I spread a generous teaspoon of Nutella over the top of the croissant dough, then sprinkled on some chopped hazelnuts.

There is a knack to rolling croissants and I think I mastered it by my second can. I rolled them up and curved the ends so they almost looked like little crabs. I popped them in the pre-heated oven for about 15 minutes and out came beautifully golden brown and puffed croissants. My only slight niggle was the thin end of the croissant seemed to curl away a little, so when you make them, perhaps tuck this bit underneath.

But the result tasted amazing. Very flaky, crispy and that layer of Nutella inside – oh wow! Perfect with a cup of coffee for breakfast, I thought. And as they are so easy to make you could knock these up any day of the week!

Disclosure Statement: I received vouchers to purchase Jus-Rol product. I was not asked to provide a recipe or give a positive review. Any opinions expressed are my own.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Grasshopper Marshmallows

Chocolate and Peppermint Marshmallows

These grasshopper marshmallows are perfect for St. Patrick’s day next week. St. Patricks’s day is all about the colour green to me and these chocolate and mint mallows are bursting with mint green colour.

Grasshopper Pie is something from America that has always intrigued me. It’s chocolate and crème de menthe flavour, but many grasshopper recipes I see online are just good old chocolate and mint. Check out this recipe at The More Than Occasional Baker for the pie.

After reading the fantastic book Marshmallow Madness by Shauna Sever, I thought I would take her deeply chocolate mallow recipe and whip up a batch of mint flavour too, combine them et voila - Grasshopper marshmallows! I love the name, but you can just call them chocolate and mint ones if you like.

My taste testers in the office loved them. Most folk said they were like Mint Aero in mallow form which sounds like a good compliment to me. The recipe I have converted from the original cup measurement, to a more UK pleasing grams. And remember, unless you have Popeye’s muscles, you will need a stand mixer for making mallows.

 Chocolate Mallow Ingredients:
 5 teaspoons gelatine powder
125 ml cold water

3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
¾ teaspoon strong instant coffee powder (I used Carte Noir)
60ml hot water
60 ml corn syrup or golden syrup

225 grams granulated sugar
60ml corn syrup or golden syrup
60ml water
¼ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mint Mallow Ingredients:
4 ½ teaspoons gelatine powder
125 ml water

170 grams granulated sugar
120 ml corn syrup or golden syrup
60 ml water
1/8 teaspoon salt

1 ½ teaspoon peppermint extract
Green food colour paste (amount will vary)

Adapated from Shauna Sever

Grease a 9”x13” baking pan and set aside.

In a small microwaveable bowl add the 5 teaspoons of gelatine with the 125 ml cold water. Let this soften for 5 minutes.

In the bowl of the mixer, add the cocoa powder, coffee powder, hot water and 60 ml syrup. Whisk this together.

In a large saucepan place the 225 grams of sugar, 60ml syrup, 60ml water and the ¼ teaspoon salt. Bring this to the boil on high heat and clip on a sugar thermometer.  Continue boiling until it reaches 120C or 250F.

In the meantime, zap the gelatine mix in the microwave for 30 seconds then add to the chocolate syrup mix. Turn the mixer on low speed and keep it on.

When the sugar mix reaches 250C, pour it slowly into the mixer (still on low) then turn it to medium for 5 minutes. Then increase the speed to medium high for 5 minutes. Lastly turn the mixer on high for 3 minutes, adding the vanilla. The mix will have gone from liquid to fluffy soft mallow. 

Scrape this into one half of the prepared pan and begin to make the mint mallow.

Again, add the gelatine to the cold water and set aside.

In a large saucepan add the 170 grams of sugar, 60 ml of syrup, 60 ml of water and 1/8 teaspoon salt and bring to the boil. Clip on the sugar thermometer and boil until it reaches 120C or 250F.

In the meantime zap the gelatine mix in the microwave for 30 seconds. Add the remaining 60ml of corn syrup and some green food colouring to the mixer bowl and add the gelatine mix. Turn it on low. Slowly pour in the sugar mix when it reaches 250C and then turn the mixer to medium for 5 minutes. After the 5, turn it to medium high for another 5, then lastly 3 minutes on high. During these last 3 minutes, add the peppermint extract and more green food colouring if it is too pale for you.

Transfer the mint mallow mix to the other half of then pan and then slowly mix the chocolate mallow through the mint. The chocolate mallow might have set a wee bit in the 15 minutes, so break this up a bit with a spoon.

Once marbled to your satisfaction coat with a 2:3 ratio mix of icing sugar and cornflour and let set for a minimum of 6 hours. Overnight is fine.

When ready, carefully prise from the pan and transfer to a cutting board dusted with more 2:3 icing sugar/cornflour mix. Cut shapes from the mallow slab, using a pizza cutter or cookie cutters – whatever you prefer. Remember to dust any sticky bits with more of the 2:3 mix.

These Grasshopper marshmallows are soft and silky, as good homemade mallows should be. And the chocolate and mint tastes all frothy!

As I said at the top, these are perfect for a St. Patricks day party – so I am entering them into Treat Petite, hosted by Kat at the Baking Explorer this month. The theme is Ireland so they are perfect.

And as for Alphabakes, the letter is U this month. A very tricky one, but I think the Unsweetened cocoa powder fits the bill. Alphabakes is shared between Caroline over at Caroline Makes  and hosted this month by Ros at The More Than Occasional Baker.