Frosted walnut layer cake + peanut butter cookies + Oreo brownies

Frosted walnut layer cakeNo, I didn’t go on the baking bender to end all benders in one night. I made these three recipes – frosted walnut layer cake, peanut butter cookies and Oreo brownies – over the course of the last few weeks, but haven’t had a lot of time to blog about them what with planning a wedding, organising my hen do, training for a 10K and, of course, just normal everyday life!

I thought it would help to blog about all three recipes at the same time, rather than labouring over three separate posts. And, hey, you get to drool over even more baked goods than usual!

Mary Berry’s frosted layer cake

I made this cake (pictured above) for my fiancé, who has been begging me to bake it ever since it turned up in a technical challenge on last year’s Great British Bake Off. It was fairly challenging, so I can only imagine how difficult it is without a full recipe to follow!
Frosted walnut layer cake 2
This is basically three layers of walnut sponge sandwiched with a big pile of buttercream and smothered with an even bigger pile of icing. There’s so much sugar in this recipe – be warned if your teeth tingle at the merest hint of sweetness!

The icing was quite tricky, and didn’t seem to completely set (I can’t remember from the show whether it’s supposed to, though), but I was pleased with my caramelised walnuts. I think my favourite bit of the cake was the buttercream, to be honest!

You can find the recipe on BBC Food here.

Peanut butter cookies

Peanut butter cookies
I made these when I found myself without any baked goods in the house, which really isn’t a great situation to be in. The recipe is from Dan Lepard’s Short and Sweet. I followed it to the letter, using spelt flour rather than the other option of wholemeal, but added a chopped up Twirl (milk chocolate fingers for the international readers out there!) at the last minute, just for the hell of it.

The cookies were gorgeously peanutty, but also ridiculously sweet! I don’t know if that’s down to the brand of peanut butter I used (think it was the ultra cheap stuff from Asda), the addition of the chocolate, or because Dan really does call for too much sugar, but just be warned! I’d tone it down next time by reducing the overall amount of sugar from 325g to about 200g.

Peanut butter cookies
The texture was rather interesting – they weren’t soft like a traditional cookie, but had more of a biscuit-like crunch, and also had distinct layers, which I assume is down to the bicarb. You can find the recipe on the Guardian website here.

Oreo brownies

Oreo brownies
Finally, I made these Oreo brownies after almost a year of a colleague asking (begging!) me to make them. I made them a few days ago for his birthday, and I think I met expectations!

The recipe is just my usual brownie recipe, with a packet of roughly chopped Oreos thrown in:

Makes 16 brownies

  • 320g dark chocolate
  • 250g unsalted butter
  • 3 large eggs
  • 125g dark brown sugar
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 85g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 154g packet of Oreos, roughly chopped

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 3/160C/140C fan. Grease and line a 20cm square tin.
  2. Melt the chocolate and butter together in a pan or in a bowl set above a pan of simmering water. Set aside and leave to cool slightly.
  3. Whisk the eggs until pale then add the sugars and whisk again thoroughly.
  4. Fold the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture.
  5. Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl and stir the Oreos in to coat.
  6. Add the flour and Oreo mixture to the wet ingredients and stir until just combined.
  7. Pour the mix into the tin and bake for about 1 hour, checking the brownies after 40 mins in case your oven is better than mine!
  8. Once the brownies look set on top, remove them from the oven and leave them in the tin to cool for at least 1 hour before slicing them up.

Triple chocolate and coconut cookies

Triple chocolate and coconut cookiesI had a real craving for chocolate last weekend, but I didn’t want to expend too much effort on baking something wonderful, so I trawled through my saved recipes on Pinterest before I found a simple-looking recipe for double chocolate and coconut cookies that I immediately revised so they would become triple chocolate and coconut cookies (and why not?!).

Triple chocolate and coconut cookies
This is a great little recipe if, like me, you’re one of the few people you know who would *never* leave the Bounty chocolates in a box of Celebrations to the end (I tend to save that fate for the Milky Ways). I guess these are technically quadruple chocolate cookies, because there’s milk, white and dark chocolate AND cocoa, but ‘triple’ rolls off the tongue a bit more easily.

I followed the original recipe fairly closely, but have listed my own take below if you want to go as chocolaty as possible. You could always focus on one of the types of chocolate if you like, but having all three in there does make the cookies a bit more decadent!

Triple chocolate and coconut cookies
Triple chocolate and coconut cookies recipe

Makes 26 cookies

  • 75g butter, softened
  • 160g light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 140g self-raising flour
  • 0.5 tsp baking powder
  • 30g cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 150g chocolate, roughly chopped (I used 50g each of dark, white and milk, but use any combination you like)
  • 50g dessicated coconut

Method:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to gas 4/180C. Line 1 or 2 baking trays with baking parchment.
  2. Beat together the butter and sugar until well combined.
  3. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat again.
  4. Sift in the flour, baking powder and cocoa powder, then fold through gently until combined.
  5. Stir in the milk, followed by the chocolate and coconut. Mix thoroughly.
  6. Transfer spoonfuls of the mixture to the baking tray(s), spacing them well apart as they’ll spread in the oven.
  7. Bake for 12-15 minutes, depending on the size of your spoonfuls (mine were somewhere between teaspoon and tablespoon size, and were baked in 15 minutes).
  8. Cool on the tray for a few minutes before carefully transferring the cookies to a cooling rack (they’ll still be soft, but will harden as they become completely cool).

Chocolate, coconut and cardamom cookies

Chocolate, coconut and cardamom cookies
I had a hankering for cookies yesterday, so I opened a few of my recipe books for inspiration. I came across a few cookies recipes that I quite liked the sound of, but weren’t quite what I was looking for, so I decided to combine them to create these chocolate, coconut and cardamom cookies.

Chocolate, coconut and cardamom cookies
I used my usual basic cookie recipe and pretty much just made up the rest as I went along, adding freshly ground cardamom seeds, dessicated coconut, white chocolate and a little dark chocolate that needed using up. Then it was time to bake them and keep my fingers crossed.

The result was delicious, if not quite what I expected! My experience of baking with cardamom is that a little goes a very long way, as it can be quite a pungent flavour, so I was surprised that the cardamom wasn’t quite as strong as I thought it would be.

Chocolate, coconut and cardamom cookies
However, that’s no bad thing, as it was still in the background and didn’t overpower the chocolate and coconut. As always, I thought the cookies could have been a bit more coconutty, but they’re lovely as they are.

I think this recipe would work well with any type of chocolate, really – you just need to be careful to adjust the amount of sugar you put in accordingly, depending on whether you go for all white chocolate, milk chocolate or dark chocolate, or a combination of these.

My recipe below lists the quantities that I used, with suggestions for adjusting these depending on which flavour you most like. If you’re looking for a cookie recipe with a difference, this could be it!

Chocolate, coconut and cardamom cookies
Chocolate, coconut and cardamom cookies recipe

  • 250g butter, softened
  • 30g caster sugar (use around 20g more if using all dark chocolate; 10g less for all white chocolate. Keep the same for milk chocolate)
  • 100g brown sugar
  • 5 cardamom pods (use more for a stronger flavour)
  • 300g self-raising flour
  • 30g dessicated coconut (use more for a stronger flavour)
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 125g white chocolate, roughly chopped (or use any chocolate you like)
  • 50g dark chocolate, roughly chopped (or use any chocolate you like)

 

Method:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C/Gas 4/fan 160C. Line some baking trays with baking paper.
  2. Release the seeds from the cardamom pods and grind them to a powder in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle.
  3. Add the butter, sugars and cardamom to a large bowl and beat until light and fluffy.
  4. Stir in the flour, coconut and milk, and mix well to create a loose cookie dough.
  5. Stir in the chocolate, ensuring it’s evenly distributed throughout the mixture.
  6. Take spoonfuls of the dough and roll them into balls, flattening them slightly as you place them on the trays. Space them out to allow for spreading (I usually place no more than nine dough balls on my medium-sized trays).
  7. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until you can see the edges browning but the middles still look a little soft. Take the cookies out of the oven and leave to cool on the trays for 5 minutes, before transferring them a wire rack to cool completely.

First bake: oat, raisin and fig cookies

Oat, raisin and fig cookies

Anything with oats in it sounds like it must be good for you, but rest assured that these particular oat cookies most certainly aren’t. Despite the oats and two types of fruit, the calorie count per cookie is equivalent to a small meal thanks to the ENTIRE BLOCK OF BUTTER that goes into them. Sound great, don’t they?

I came up with these cookies using a recipe in my now slightly tatty BBC Good Food book (it really is brilliant!), which I adapted based on what I had in the cupboard at the time. They were very easy to make (as cookies should be) and truly scrumptious.

I’ve only ever used figs in fruit cakes before so it was nice to throw them in something different for a change. I still automatically think ‘Fig Roll’ whenever I taste them but that’s no bad thing!

Oat, raisin and fig cookies

They do indeed taste very buttery but also extremely fruity and, of course, oaty (it’s terrible that I did an English degree and work in content marketing, yet this is the best I can come up with, isn’t it?). I would definitely make these again and would happily substitute the fruit for other things – chocolate chunks, Rolos, nuts… the possibilities are endless!

Just don’t even think about making these if you’re keeping an eye on your weight.

Oat, raisin and fig cookies

The recipe

Makes 18 big cookies, or lots more small ones

  • 250g butter, softened
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 100g light muscovado sugar
  • 150g self-raising flour
  • 225g porridge oats
  • 200g dried figs, chopped
  • 50g raisins

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C/Gas 4/160C fan. Line a baking tray (or trays) with non-stick paper.
  2. Cream together the butter, caster sugar and light muscovado sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Add the flour and oats and stir thoroughly. Stir in the figs and raisins.
  4. Divide the dough into balls, place them on the tray and slightly flatten them. Ensure there’s enough space between them to allow for spreading while baking.
  5. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the cookies are golden around the edge. Cool on the tray for 5 mins then finish cooling on a wire rack.

First bake: lemon and raisin cookies

Lemon and raisin cookiesI was looking for something fairly easy to bake a few days ago – something that didn’t involve me having to schlep to the shops for half the ingredients and that could be knocked up and cooled pretty quickly. I came across this recipe for lemon and raisin (or sultana, as it was in the book) cookies in my trusty BBC Good Food book and it seemed pretty perfect!

Unlike most of the lemon-based baking recipes I’ve tried in the past, the lemon flavour for these cookies comes from lemon curd rather than zest. I was a little dubious about how strong the lemon flavour would therefore be, but I have to say I was pleasantly surprised!

Lemon and raisin cookies

Lemon and raisin cookies, pre-bakng

The cookies were pretty simple to make – create a breadcrumb-type mix with flour and butter then stir in the rest of the ingredients, shape into balls and bake. The recipe says it makes 30 cookies, but I got 48 (!) out of my mix. To be fair, they were pretty small! I used raisins rather than sultanas as that’s all I had, but I can imagine the recipe would work nicely with the more subtle flavour associated with sultanas.

After baking the cookies and leaving them to cool, I made a simple icing using icing sugar and lemon juice, which I drizzled over the cookies rather haphazardly. The icing definitely helps the lemoniness of the cookies and lends a bit of extra sweetness.

All in all, this is a recipe worth making if you’re a fan of all things lemony. I have to say they seemed to be more like biscuits than cookies at first, but they’ve softened a bit since I baked them and are probably more cookie-like now. They’re very more-ish, so be warned if, like me, you’re trying to shed some pounds…!

Lemon and raisin cookiesThe recipe

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

First bake: mango and dark chocolate cookies

Mango and dark chocolate cookiesOne of the many foods I’m completely in love with is mango. It’s only at it’s best in the summer, when a fresh crop arrives from India/Pakistan – otherwise, it’s just not right. However, I impulse-bought some dried mango the other week and just as impulsively decided to fling it in some cookies with some dark chocolate.

Mango and dark chocolate cookies 3

I adapted a cookie recipe in my trusty BBC Good Food 101 Cakes and Bakes book for this, and it worked well. I tried a piece of mango before I put it in the dough, and it was rather chewy. I hoped that it wouldn’t be as chewy after baking, but it was still a little tough. However, the combination of the fruit and the chocolate and the lovely, sugary cookie dough was still fantastic!

Mango and dark chocolate cookie dough

Mango and dark chocolate cookie dough

I’m not sure if I’d be able to make these with fresh mango, as the fruit would be too wet. However, it could be worth slightly drying out pieces of fresh mango and trying them that way. Making these cookies has made me determined to invent a mango and chocolate cake in the summer, though, so I think that will be my next mango-based bake!

Mango and dark chocolate cookies

The recipe

Adapted from the recipe for Smarties cookies in BBC Good Food 101 Cakes & Bakes.

Makes 14 cookies

  • 100g/4oz butter, softened
  • 100g/4oz light muscovado sugar
  • 1 tbsp golden syrup
  • 150g/6oz self-raising flour
  • 50g dark chocolate, broken into chunks
  • 75g dried mango pieces

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4/fan oven 160C. Line two baking trays with baking paper (or bake in batches).

2. Beat the butter and sugar in a bowl until light and creamy, then beat in the syrup.

3. Stir in half the flour. Stir the chocolate and mango into the remaining flour and stir into the mix, working together with your fingers to create a dough.

4. Divide into 14 balls, space them well apart on the baking trays and flatten slightly with your fingers.

5. Bake for 12 minutes until pale golden at the edges. Cool on a wire rack.

Five bakes for Chocolate Week

Triple chocolate muffins... about as chocolatey as it gets

Triple chocolate muffins… about as chocolatey as it gets

The baking blogosphere has been going chocolate-crazy thanks to it being Chocolate Week. I’ll be joining in the fun this weekend by baking one of my all-time favourite chocolate recipes, but in the meantime, here are five others I’ve posted about in the past to drool over…

1) Chocolate orange cookies and triple chocolate muffins

Both of these are perfect for chocoholics, although the muffins are definitely the ultimate cocoa-filled treat!

2) Mochachino brownies with white mocha sauce

Another triple chocolate delight, but a little more sophisticated than the muffins and perfect for a dinner party.

3) Alchemist’s chocolate cake

This Dan Lepard recipe really is alchemy – how is it possible for tinned pears and a bit of cocoa powder to become this gorgeously moist, chocolatey cake?! And not a knob of butter in sight.

4) Mocha fudge cake with coffee icing

This is a super sweet treat for both chocolate and coffee fans. Just keep an eye on the icing to make sure it doesn’t go as runny as mine did!

5) Caramel banana blondies

I absolutely love using white chocolate in baking, and this is a prime example of how well it can work.