How to make a Lily from Icing Sugar and Water

So this will be embarrassing, but I have made a short video on how to make a lily from icing sugar and am going to try be brave here by posting it! 😛

These are very easy and look great when they are finished, plus you can store them for months as they basically become solid sugar flowers. I have put in a picture of them with some mint leaves on a chocolate cake I made for the mammy 🙂

 

This is the cake, the yellow stems are made with butter icing and the leaves are mint 🙂

Coconut Balls

A quick and easy recipe this week, from my cousin in Mauritius. They give these and other little treats out at weddings in Mauritius or when they have guests. All you need is a mixing bowl, spoon/spatula and a small bowl (for dusting)

This is a good one to make with kids as no actual cooking is needed and its fun for them as the mix can be used to make shapes (such as ghosts for Halloween or snowmen for Christmas).

Ingredients

Finely Desiccated coconut 300-600g

Condensed Milk

Method

Pour some desiccated coconut into a mixing bowl (about 200g of it) and then pour in half the tin of condensed milk. Mix until all the coconut is sticking together. Add coconut and condensed milk as you see fit (I usually use the full can and around 500g of coconut).

You are looking for a thick consistency, so when the coconut starts to break off and you can pick it up and roll it into balls in your hand, without too much sticking to you or the ball crumbling into bits you have the right consistence. I’m sorry I really can’t be mor3e specific as I never really use measurements making these.

When you roll each ball drop it into another bowl with some of the desiccated coconut to coat it. Then leave it on a tray. They can be left in the fridge to set, or eaten immediately, but I find they are much nicer a few hours or days after making them. The outside goes more solid making them easier to handle while the inside stays lovely and moist, with the condensed milk gaining a lovely coconut flavor.

They are quite sweet but you can make them to taste, with more condensed milk to coconut giving a sweeter flavor and less giving a less sweet flavor, it all depends on your own taste.

 

Tips

I recommend making balls one inch in diameter as I find them a bit much when they are bigger, although my cousin makes them 2-3 inches in diameter when she does them.

You can put them into black petit-four cases for presenting; the contrast between the black cases and white balls is visually very appealing. Or add them to a box of homemade chocolates for a bit of variety.

If you are making them with children you can make balls of different sizes and put them together (before coating them) to make snowmen. These can then be decorated more with chocolate when they have set.

As I said, these are very very, simple to make and very quick, around 15 min for me to make and roll a batch of coconut balls and quicker if you make them larger.

As always,

Happy Baking!

Mint Chocolate Squares

Mint Chocolate Squares

These are a personal favourite of mine, little mint chocolate biscuits with a chocolate topping.

For these you will need a mixing bowl, a spoon,  a food processor (this is not essential if you don’t have one) and a sauce pan and baking tray+ lining.

 

Ingredients:

200g mint crisp chocolate

1 can condensed milk

400g digestive biscuits (can subsidies some of this with rich tea if you like a crunch)

50g butter

 

Topping

400g milk chocolate

Method

Crush the biscuits into bread crumbs, leaving a few chunks of biscuit if desired. You can do this with your hands or with a food processor. Place the biscuits in a large mixing bowl.

Pour the can of condensed milk into the saucepan and place over a low heat. Add the butter and leave until the butter has melted into the condensed milk, stirring occasionally.

Place the mint crisp chocolate into the food processor and blend until it is little crumbs of chocolate with no big lumps. If you are worried about the food processor (the chocolate makes a horrible violent bashing in mine at the start so it sounds like the machine will explode, but it never does) then you can melt the chocolate in a separate sauce pan or in a bowl in the microwave instead.

Add chocolate crumbs (if using processor) to the biscuit and mix, and then add the condensed milk and butter mixture.

 If you are melting the chocolate, add the condensed milk/butter mixture to the bread crumbs first then mix. Then add the melted chocolate and mix until incorporated.

 Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper and pour the mixture onto it, flattening with your hands or a spoon. You can make these as thick or thin as you like, but I usually have them around ½ inch to an inch thick. It will depend on the size of the baking tray you want to use and how many squares you want to make.

 When the mix is in the tray and lovingly pummelled into place, you will begin making the topping.#

Melt the 400g of chocolate (I use a sauce pan for convenience but a Bain Marie is better for this or microwaving is fine too) and add about a table spoon of vegetable oil. This will help the chocolate stay shiny when it sets and prevent it from mottling without the need for tempering the chocolate.

Pour the melted chocolate over the biscuit base and leave to set at room temperature (putting it straight into the fridge is more likely to make it mottle, although I can’t remember where I heard this so maybe it doesn’t).

 

Tips

When the chocolate has half set (still soft) cut the giant chocolate square into smaller pieces for serving. If you let the chocolate set completely before cutting it up, then it is much more difficult to cut, and the chocolate topping will probably crack/shatter on you, making uneven squares.

If the chocolate mottles (when it gets lighter patches and looks like its gone off) it is perfectly fine for eating. Mottling is just the chocolate separating out a bit and might look unattractive, but doesn’t really affect the taste or edibility of the chocolate. If you are worried about mottling the chocolate then just melt some white chocolate when you are making the topping and pour it over with the milk chocolate. Use a spoon to swirl it around and it creates a nice marbled effect, which also helps to disguise mottling if it occurs.  

By the time the top sets and the mint squares are ready to eat the top layer of chocolate will have absorbed some of the mint flavour. If you don’t like mint you can try any variation like golden crisp, raisins and nuts or just leave it with plain chocolate, whatever takes your fancy.

This is not a biscuit cake (Despite how similar it is) as these really are best served as smaller biscuits and this recipe comes out fairly hard, whereas personally I see biscuit cake as softer with crunchy bits (and comes in bigger slices). If you are looking for a biscuit cake recipe (where you can actually use it as a cake and slice it) then there are plenty of others you will find online, this one will not suite cake purposes.

Happy Baking!

Coffee Cupcakes!

Finally getting around to doing some cupcakes! 😀

This is one of my favorite recipes and can be used to make lovely coffee, vanilla or chocolate cupcakes, although I would personally stick to the coffee and vanilla versions as I have yet to taste better versions, whereas there are certainly better recipes out there for chocolate cupcakes!

Who ever said you can’t have your cake and eat it clearly never heard of cupcakes! I love decorating them, and if some get eaten in the process, who cares? You can make hundreds of them!

So the recipe:

Ingredients

130g dark muscavado sugar

120 light muscavado sugar

150g butter/margarine

180g self raising flour (can use gluten free, cakes come out nearly identical)

2 large eggs

125ml milk

A few drops of vanilla extract (really actually a splash of vanilla extract/ half a tea spoon)

2 table spoons Coffee granules (if making the coffee flavored)

 

 

Method

Pre heat your oven to 180 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl beat/whisk your butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Add both eggs and whisk again until incorporated and add the vanilla extract. If you are making the coffee version heat your milk up in either a pan or the microwave (microwave is easier). When the milk is very hot add the coffee granules.

Add 1/5th of the coffee to the mixture and then whisk (this gets a bit messy here) then sift in 1/4th of the flour. Repeat this until both the flour and milk/coffee is all added.

Spoon the mixture into cupcake cups and put into the oven for 20 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

 

 

Butter cream Icing

 

I just whisk up a lump of butter and start adding icing sugar vanilla extract and coffee to taste to be honest  😛

However if you haven’t made it before start with:

100g butter

200g icing sugar

1/3 tbl spoon vanilla extract

3 tbl spoons boiling water mixed with 1.5 tbl spoons coffee.

 In a bowl whisk or beat your butter until light and fluffy and add half your icing sugar a bit at a time. Add the vanilla extract and a spoon of the coffee (about 1 spoon). Add the rest of your icing sugar.

This will make a basic coffee buttercream icing. If you do not want to make coffee cupcakes simply remove coffee from the above recipes. With the butter cream icing you will not need the boiling water either.

I usually add a bit more coffee to taste (make sure it is very strong. . . Seriously the coffee needs to be like tar or the icing will just get too runny and you will need more sugar then more coffee then more sugar. . .  it’s a horrible cycle L)

More or less icing sugar and coffee will change the texture and the taste of the icing, but the above measurements will allow you to make a nice one to start with.

It can also be made without the vanilla extract but the extract brings out the flavor of the coffee in the icing, without having to add more coffee so I would leave it in. it has the same effect on most butter cream icings and cakes I’ve made. Particularly coffee (as mentioned) banana, chocolate and coconut.

It also makes your hands smell like vanilla. This may or may not be a bonus to you, but it is what happens when you handle vanilla extract. And frankly I can’t see why it wouldn’t be a bonus, vanilla is awesome!

Anyway that is how you make basic cupcakes and the icing. The only thing you need to remember before decorating is to let the cupcakes cool first. The icing is made from butter after all and will melt if you put it on cupcakes straight from the oven so let them cool first. They are perfectly fine if you add it to hot cupcakes, but it gets messy (ier) and gloopy and really just doesn’t look as appealing as when they are cooled.

 For the chocolate cupcakes just substitute the coffee for either melted chocolate or cocao powder. as I have said, there are far better recipies out there for chocolate cupcakes so i would go with one of those, but there are few if any better for coffee or vanilla cupcakes. (Im basing this on the fact that I havn’t found one yet).

You can find all sorts of tips for decorating the cupcakes on youtube or facebook, but remember if you use a liquid food colouring for your icing (colours can be added directly to the icing) then it will make the icing runny and you will have to use more icing sugar to regain your consistency.

basic wavy designs with a knife or fork look nice if you dont have piping bags or arnt too bothered with the decorating, alternativly slice off the top of the cupcake so you have a circle, put on the icing and pop the top back on like a little hat. if you want to make butterflys do the same except cut the circle into 2 semicircles and use these as little wings.

I recommend a gel food colouring.

 

Happy baking!

Guest Blog by Sinead

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

I should start this post by clarifying that I am a coeliac and, as such, the below recipe is written from a gluten-free point of view. However, when I bake these gluten-free cookies, I get requests from friends and family to bake more as they are just so delicious! I have never tried baking these with regular flour (as working with regular flour tends to make me feel ill) but I see no reason why they shouldn’t turn out just as nice.

The recipe I use was originally an American recipe so all measurements are in cups. If you do not have a set of measuring cups, I suggest you pick some up for this as the correct measurements are essential.

Ingredients

2 1/4 cups self-raising gluten-free flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon xanthan gum
3/4 cups softened margarine (I use Flora for this. Make sure you pack it into the cup to get the right measurement)
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar (I use Siucra Golden Brown sugar, I feel it complements the vanilla nicely)
1/2 cup castor sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 package of chocolate chips

Instructions
1. Heat oven to 190°C. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and xanthan gum in a medium sized bowl. Set aside.

2. Combine butter, brown sugar and sugar in large bowl. Beat at medium to high speed, depending on how good your mixer is (I seem to recall needing fast speed to even get the mixer to work, the sugar goes like cement), scraping the bowl often, until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla. Continue beating, scraping the bowl often, until well mixed.

3. Reduce speed to low/medium. Beat, gradually adding bowl with flour etc. until well mixed. Stir in chocolate chips.

4. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls, 2 inches apart (they really expand!), onto an ungreased baking tray, or cookie sheets if you have them. Bake for 8-12 minutes or until light golden brown. DO NOT OVERBAKE. Let stand for 1-2 mins on a wire cooling tray. Remove from tray and enjoy!

I love baking these cookies but have had issues from time to time with getting them exactly perfect. If you cook them for the right length of time, they can be crunchy on the outside and chewy in the middle (my favourite!) but it’s a difficult balance to get right.

This recipe usually produces about 3-4 dozen cookies, depending on how big you decide to make them. If you wrap them up and keep them in a biscuit tin, they’ll stay fresh for about 3-5 days…if you can stop yourself from eating them all in one day!

Lemonade Scones

So this week its Lemonade scones! I know I’m mad into the aul lemons this month!

During the summer I ran a little café and these scones were the best sellers! They really are just too easy to make for you not to try them!

Lemonade Scones

Seriously this is possible one of the easiest recipes you will ever use! For measuring the ingredients use a nice big mug or a pint glass if you want to double the recipe. Literally it goes by volume so even though I have cups written down in Ingredients there’s no real measurement needed, just generous scoops of whatever cup/mug/bowl you happen to have.

The best bit is it only takes your measurement cup, a big mixing bowl, sieve and spoon to make these.

Ingredients

2 cups of Flour

¼ cup of sugar

1 lemon zest

½ cup of lemonade

¼ cup of cream

Method

Pre heat oven to 180 degrees or 190 degrees. Scones need to go into a very very hot oven to rise properly so make sure you let the oven heat up before making the scones. Sprionkle some flour onto you baking tray.

Measure out your dry ingredients. Sieve flour into the mixing bowl then add the rest of the dry ingredients. Mix them.

Measure out your cream and pour in, then the lemonade. Mix the ingredients together with a wooden spoon until incorporated and you have a soft dough.

Spread some flour on a flat surface and place the dough on it. (put flour on your hands to prevent dough from sticking to you) gently pat the dough down until it is about 1 inch thick, for big scones (2.5 – 3.5 inches in diameter), or ½  – 2/3 inch thick for small scones about 1-1.5 inches in diameter).

Using your scone cutter or a cup if you don’t have one, cut out your scones and place on the baking tray. Pop into the oven for 15 minutes. Take out when they are a light golden colour.

Note: large scone take longer to cook than the smaller scones, if you need to leave them in for longer watch them carefully as it only takes 2 minutes to burn scones.

These scones are so easy to make, taste absolutely delicious and they also freeze really well. Just pop into a freezer bag and throw them into the freezer. Microwave them for 30 seconds or pop into a heated oven for 10 min to defrost. If you undercook them slightly then freeze them, you can pop them into the oven for 5-10 minutes when you need them and they will come out as if freshly baked!

As these scones use lemonade instead of butter they also have a lower fat content than regular scones. If you don’t like your scones too sweet use diet lemonade when making them and you could also try them with slim cream.

If you are wondering why I’m doing so many lemon recipes, I was making a lot of merengue’s, then lemon curd, and was able to use leftover cream from the merengue’s for these scones as well as use the left over lemon juice from the scones for the lemon curd. They are three handy little recipes to have and as the scones freeze so well (seriously it’s impossible to tell the difference from fresh baked and frozen if you freeze them quickly and defrost in the oven) then you can store them easily and take them out when you have people over for tea.

As I write this I do realise I am sounding more and more like my granny. . .then again I really like these scones 😛

Happy Baking!

Coconut Lemon Cake

Hi all,

This week I’m going to take you through a coconut lemon cake. It’s basically a Victoria sponge cake with finely desiccated coconut replacing some of the flour, so very easy to make and decorate and it also tastes great!

First you will need to get finely desiccated coconut. You will find this in most Asian food stores or you can get our standard desiccated coconut form the supermarket and blend it to make it finer. I would recommend using the stuff from the Asian food stores as it is just handier and you can get quite a lot of it for reasonable price (small bags for €1.20 and 2kg bags for €8.45 last time I checked).

Ingredients

8oz butter or margarine, softened at room temperature

8oz caster sugar

4 medium eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

6oz self raising flour

4oz desiccated coconut

Lemon curd for the filling. You can buy a jar or see Lemon Curd recipes on my blog. I can say right now that homemade is far nicer that any you will buy.

7 Minute Icing to cover the cake

Method

For the Cake:

Line 2 8” cake tins with baking paper. Preheat the oven at 180 degrees Celsius.

Whisk the butter and sugar in a bowl until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and continue to whisk. Add the vanilla extract, while whisking. Now sieve in the flour and desiccated coconut. If you are using a very fine sieve you may have to sieve in the flour then add the coconut. If you have a sieve with larger holes you can mix the coconut with the flour and then sieve it in. Add about a third or fourth of the flour and coconut, whisk, then repeat again until all flour and coconut is added.

Once all ingredients are incorporated divide it between your baking tins and place in the oven for 20-25 minutes. When cooked they should be golden brown and springy when pressed and a skewer should come out clean when passed through the middle.

To be honest these cakes always smell very eggy to me rather than coco-nutty, but that fades when they cool down. So if they smell a bit strange straight out of the oven it’s normal, a bit weird, but normal.

Remove from the cake tins and leave on a wire rack to cool. Not these cakes are very easy to handle when cooked.

As the cake is a bit dry until you add the lemon curd anyway there is very little difference between using normal flour and making a gluten free version.

For the 7 minute Icing

This recipe is from Paula Deen, I haven’t found one that works with the coconut mixed in yet so like to try variations of the recipe. If you have one that works for you by all means use that.

Ingredients

1/3 cup water

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 1/2 cup sugar

2   large egg whites

1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

(I dont have an actual cup measure and usualy just use a small teacup)

Method

Place all ingredients in a heat proof bowl and beat with an electric whisk for 1 minute. Place bowl over a pot of boiling water (bain-marie) and whisk on high with an electric whisk for another 6 minutes.

As I have said this doesn’t work too well with coconut as it loses its smooth glossy appearance, but usually I try to mix some of the desiccated coconut through the 7 minute icing before covering the cake with it. I’ve had varying results, but if you are using the cake fairly soon and have a lot of icing try it.

To put the cake together, place one of the sponges on your serving dish, poke holes in it and then put a generous layer of lemon curd over it. Place second sponge on top and repeat. Dollop the 7 minute icing on top of the cake and spread it with a knife, being very generous with the icing.

I usually start with the edges of the cake rather than the centre as the lemon curd on top causes it to slip off a bit which makes spreading it a bit awkward.

You can garnish the cake with a string of lemon peel in the centre if you wish. If you did not add coconut to your icing then it is a bit more malleable and you can place the round part of a spoon flat on the icing and pull it away to make spikes on the cake.

It is best served a few hours to a day after putting together to allow the icing and the curd to moisten the cake.

Happy baking!