Cherry, white chocolate and coconut muffins

Cherry, white chocolate and coconut muffins
I was in the supermarket a few weeks ago when I stumbled across one of the holy grails of summer produce – fresh British cherries! I had to buy them immediately and, after ‘sampling’ quite a few of them, decided to bake these cherry, white chocolate and coconut muffins to make the most of them.

Cherry, white chocolate and coconut muffins
I adapted a recipe for coconut and raspberry muffins to make these, and they turned out wonderfully. They were a doddle to make, too. I like that there’s no butter in the recipe, but the texture is still lovely and rich thanks to the oil and coconut milk.

Cherry, white chocolate and coconut muffins
I think the muffins could have stood a little more coconut, but that’s just me being me! The fresh cherries were so delicious and added a nice bit of moisture.

It would be really easy to change this recipe to suit whatever you have in – swap the cherries for raspberries, blackberries or strawberries, or change the white chocolate for milk or dark chocolate, or even (gasp) omit the coconut altogether.

Cherry, white chocolate and coconut muffins
I took these muffins into work and they seemed to go down a treat. I haven’t done nearly as much baking for work as I used to since I changed jobs, so it was nice to be able to take something in and have my colleagues enjoy it!

Cherry, white chocolate and coconut muffins
Cherry, white chocolate and coconut muffins recipe

Makes 12

  • 200g plain flour, sifted
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 0.5 tsp salt
  • 50g dessicated coconut
  • 100ml sunflower oil
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 150ml coconut milk
  • 100g fresh cherries, halved and stones removed
  • 75g white chocolate, chopped

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/gas 6. Line a 12-hole muffin with paper cases or squares of baking parchment.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and coconut.
  3. In another bowl or jug, combine the oil, egg and coconut milk.
  4. Gradually stir the oil mixture into the flour mixture, being careful not to overmix.
  5. Fold in the cherries and white chocolate.
  6. Spoon the mixture into the muffin tin and bake for 20-25 minutes, until risen and golden.

 

Cherry cheesecake muffins

Cherry cheesecake muffins

I’m not entirely sure how I feel about the trend for combining two baked goods to make something new, like the cronut and so on – isn’t it all really just a fad? However, when I discovered a recipe for strawberry cheesecake muffins in my trusty BBC Good Food book a while ago, I knew I was very much onboard with that particular combination! I decided to make them with a few tweaks of my own to accommodate the ingredients I actually had in, resulting in these cherry cheesecake muffins.

Cherry cheesecake muffins

They look pretty innocent on the outside, but bite into one of these beauties and you’ll come across a lovely filling of sweet cream cheese and a fresh cherry. Yum!

Cherry cheesecake muffins 7

They’re really not as hard to make as you might think. Creating a filled muffin simply involves half-filling the muffin cases with the cake mix, dropping the filling on top and then covering it up with the rest of the cake mix.

Cherry cheesecake muffins - mid-preparation

The cherry on top! Or in the middle, technically.

So, for these muffins, I half-filled the cases, placed a destoned cherry in the middle of each one and then covered each cherry with a teaspoon of the cheesecake mix. Then I covered it up with a dollop of muffin mix.

Cherry cheesecake muffins - pre-baking

Ready for the oven…

I did find that the muffins rose so splendidly in the oven that they came out over the edges of the cases. There was no harm done to the oven, but a couple of the muffins did look decidedly toadstool-like!

Cherry cheesecake muffins

Despite this, I was pleased to see that there was no leakage of the cherry cheesecake filling, which is always a bit of a worry. I had one of the muffins the next day with a big cup of tea (the rest were for my boyfriend, as it was his birthday), and thoroughly enjoyed it – the cheese is lovely with the fresh cherry and cakey muffin, and makes a nice change from a traditional cheesecake (which I always struggle to make anyway!) or a standard muffin. If you want to make them look a bit nicer you could always ice them, but I thought they were great just as they were.

Cherry cheesecake muffins

The recipe

Adapted from BBC Good Food 101 Cakes and Bakes

Makes 12

For the muffin mix:

  • 350g plain flour
  • 1.5 tbsp baking powder
  • 180g golden caster sugar
  • finely grated rind of 1 lemon
  • 0.5 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 250ml milk
  • 85g butter, melted

 

For the filling:

  • 175g soft cheese
  • 3 tbsp caster sugar
  • 12 cherries, halved and destoned

 

Method:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200C/gas 6/180C fan. Place 12 paper cases in a muffin tin.
  2. Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl and stir in the sugar, lemon zest and salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and milk together and stir in the butter.
  4. Gently stir the wet mix into the dry ingredients, taking care not to over-mix. It should still be a bit lumpy with visible bits of flour.
  5. In another bowl, beat together the cheese and sugar for the filling.
  6. Place a heaped tablespoonful of the muffin mix into each paper case, then press two cherry halves into the middle of each one and top with a teaspoonful of the cheese mix.
  7. Spoon the remaining muffin mix over the top, making sure that the mix completely covers the cheese and cherries.
  8. Bake for 15 minutes until risen and golden. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes then remove them and place onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Adapted from BBC Good Food 101 Cakes and Bakes.
Adapted from BBC Good Food 101 Cakes and Bakes.

First bake: cherry and almond shortbread

Cherry and almond shortbread

Has it really been nearly a month since my last post? Rest assured that I have been baking during that time – I’ve just found it very difficult to blog recently, what with my laptop permanently being away being fixed, a busy time at work, my boyfriend returning from a tour and a rather wonderful holiday in the Lake District earlier in the week.

One of the things I made was this lovely cherry and almond shortbread, adapted from a Mary Berry recipe for cranberry and white chocolate shortbread. I only changed the flavours because, as always, I was restricted by what I had in (and I also really love cherry and almond together, as is well documented on this very blog).

Cherry and almond shortbread 2

The shortbread was fairly easy to make. I used ground almonds as it was all I had in, and that seemed to lend the dough a rather crumbly texture. However, it looked firmer after a stint in the fridge and then the oven.

I had a bit of trouble forming the dough into a circle on the baking tray pre-chilling, and on reflection, I probably should have used a cake tin instead to make things much easier. Learn from my mistake!

Cherry and almond shortbread 4

I did have to bake the shortbread for longer than the recipe said – I’m beginning to think that my oven isn’t as hot as I think it is! However, it could also be down to my penchant for not following recipes.

The shortbread did turn out beautifully, in the end – just the right texture and very moreish. It wasn’t quite as almondy as I would have liked, but a drop of almond extract and/or some flaked almonds should help with that next time!

Cherry and almond shortbread 1

The recipe

Adapted from a recipe in the May 2014 issue of BBC Good Food magazine.

Makes 8-10 wedges

  • 100g softened butter
  • 100g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 50g fine semolina
  • 80g caster sugar, plus extra to finish
  • 50g glace cherries, chopped
  • 50g ground or flaked almonds
  • 1 tsp almond extract

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to Gas 2/150C/130C and grease a baking tray or round 20″ cake tin.
  2. Stir together the flour and semolina, then rub in the butter and almond extract with your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
  3. Stir in the ground/flaked almonds, cherries and sugar. Press together to form a dough and either shape into a circle on the baking tray or press into the base of the cake tin (don’t worry if this is a bit crumbly at this point).
  4. Crimp the edges with a fork if you can, prick all over and score into wedges lightly. Chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
  5. Bake for 40 minutes or until pale golden. Re-score the wedges, sprinkle with sugar and leave to cool before cutting into wedges.

First bake: cherry and chocolate oat squares

Cherry oat squaresWell, hello there – long time no see! I’ve been on a slight blogging hiatus for a number of reasons, but mainly because I simply haven’t been baking! However, I did manage to get myself out of my slump last weekend with these cherry and chocolate oat squares – which look a lot like flapjacks, to be honest.

I chose to bake these because my guinea pig boyfriend is away for the summer with work, and I wanted to send him a care package including some homemade baked goodies. I settled on something flapjacky as I thought it would be sturdy enough to withstand the perils of travelling by Royal Mail, and just so happened to have a load of glace cherries in the cupboard.

The squares were very easy to make – mix together the dry and wet ingredients separately, fling them together then throw it all into a tin and bake, before drizzling with melted dark chocolate. However, I’ve never really baked with oats before, apart from when I had my first go at parkin last year.

So it was rather ‘interesting’ when I opened the oven at the end of the baking time for these squares only to be faced with a sloppy porridgy mess! However, leaving them in the oven for longer solved that problem – phew!

Cherry oat squaresThe squares are ready to eat when completely cooled (although I found the chocolate hadn’t really set by this point, resulting in some sticky fingers). I made these last weekend and still have 1 left (!) but they’ve gone down very well – at my end, anyway, as my boyfriend hadn’t yet got to his parcel at the time of writing!

The cherry and chocolate complement each other very well, and the oats make the squares really satisfying. If you’re a keen WeightWatchers member like I am (one reason why I haven’t been baking much recently), the squares are a pretty reasonable 6 ProPoints each.

I would think the recipe is easily adaptable – I might try these with coconut added to the mix or with raisins or dried mango in place of the cherries in future. Overall, though, they’re delicious enough!

Cherry oat squaresThe recipe

On the BBC Good Food website here: http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/2198643/cherry-oat-squares-with-chocolate-drizzle

First bake: cherry and almond muffins

Cherry and almond muffinsCherry and almond. Almond and cherry. It’s one of those pairings you just can’t go wrong with (unless you don’t like cherries or almonds, of course. In which case, get out of here!). I’ve dabbled in cherry and almond bakes before, such as this cherry Bakewell cake, but wanted something simpler to make on a sweltering weekend.

I slightly adapted a recipe I found online to make these. I really wanted to bake with fresh cherries so I was pleased I found a muffin recipe that uses them, but I wanted to add an extra dimension flavour-wise by chucking in some vanilla extract and flaked almonds. I also have no idea what ‘baking liquid’ is, so I just substituted that for butter.

Cherry and almond muffinsThe muffins were very easy to make and came out perfectly – delightfully fluffy and saturated with gorgeous cherry and almond flavours. I don’t think they would have been half as good if I’d used glace cherries!

You could substitute the cherries for similar fruit like blackberries, blueberries or blackcurrants. But the cherries work wonderfully with the almonds! Of course, you could also swap the almond flavour for something else, such as hazelnut or coconut – this is definitely one of those recipes where you can experiment without much going wrong!

The recipe

Makes 12

  • 175g butter, melted
  • 175g golden caster sugar
  • 300g self-raising flour, sifted
  • 3 eggs
  • 5 tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 0.5 tsp baking powder
  • 250g cherries, stones removed and quartered
  • 50g flaked almonds
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Line a muffin tray with 12 paper cases.
  2. Beat together all of the ingredients except the cherries and flaked almonds, until fairly smooth.
  3. Fold in the cherries and almonds and stir gently (don’t overmix, or your muffins won’t rise or be nice and fluffy!).
  4. Bake for 20-25 minutes until risen and golden. Cool on a wire rack and dust with a little icing sugar.

Re-bake: cherry, white chocolate & coconut traybake

White chocolate, cherry, coconut and almond Sometimes, all you want is something baked and sugary, PRONTO. This flourless recipe is perfect for just this craving, as all you have to do is stir everything together and bake. Easy! Of course, this recipe is also perfect if, like me, you have a penchant for the holy trinity of white chocolate, cherries and coconut.

I’ve made this once before and stuck religiously to the recipe with a very nice result. This time, I was forced to improvise a little as I didn’t have quite enough dessicated coconut (I have been baking with it quite a lot recently!). I instead made up the difference with some roughly chopped flaked almonds.

White chocolate, cherry, coconut and almond traybake mix

White chocolate, cherry, coconut and almond traybake mix

The chocolate was a mixture of Aldi’s Choceur (I think that’s how it’s spelled!) white chocolate and Tesco Value white chocolate. The Aldi version definitely wins hands down in terms of flavour – the Tesco stuff was just far too sweet and not white-chocolatey enough. If that even makes sense.

Once baked, you end up with a baking tin full of gooey chocolate combined with coconut, glace cherries and almonds… yum! However, it’s worth resisting the urge to dive straight in with your spoon and let it cool. Once cold, it’ll be nicely set and you can slice it up into neat little bars.

White chocolate, cherry, coconut and almond traybake 2I have to say, the addition of the almonds is a definite winner – they add a wonderful crunchy texture that goes perfectly with the soft coconut and cherries. This is a very sweet recipe, so it’s only really recommended if you can hack all the sugar – which I most certainly can! *ignores toothache*

The recipe

From the BBC Good Food website here: http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/1269637/

Re-bake: coconut layer cake

Coconut cakeAh, coconut, how I love you. This is an excellent cake for serious fans of all things coconutty – two coconut sponges sandwiched with coconut buttercream and sour cherry conserve, topped with more buttercream and a sprinking of dessicated coconut.

As this is a BBC Good Food recipe, it’s very easy to make. It says to put all the ingredients in a food processor, but as mine is TINY I just used an electric hand whisk instead. I also added 20g extra dessicated coconut to the sponge and replaced the raspberry jam called for in the recipe with the conserve, as it was the only jam-like thing I had in (and I also love coconut and cherry together!).

I really like the use of coconut cream in this recipe. It goes in both the sponge and buttercream for extra coconuttiness! I use Patak’s coconut cream, which comes in a little box of 4 sachets – you can usually find it in the world foods aisle or similar in the supermarket, rather than the baking aisle.

Coconut cake mix

Coconut cake mix

I actually haven’t had a chance to taste this yet – at the time of writing, I’m still pretty full from my tea this evening! I have made this cake before, though, so I know it’s really nice. It’ll be interesting to see if the extra coconut and sour cherry conserve step things up a bit – hopefully, they will! I’ll add an update when I’ve had a piece…

Edit (literally 10 mins after posting this) – It didn’t take me too long to cave in and have a small piece. Absolutely delicious. The sour cherry really works well with all the sugar and coconut. The sponge is fairly rough in texture, but that would be because of the extra coconut!

Coconut cakeThe recipe

From BBC Good Food’s 101 Cakes & Bakes, and also online here.