Strawberry and white chocolate muffins

Strawberry and white chocolate muffins 1My love affair with strawberries is still very much in swing, as evidenced by these strawberry and white chocolate muffins that I made a few weeks ago. I reckon I’ve probably eaten about 2kg of lovely British strawberries so far this summer… it’s a good job they’re healthy, isn’t it?!

Strawberry and white chocolate muffins 3
I was lazy and found a recipe online to use, rather than adapting one of my existing ones. I used vanilla extract rather than a vanilla pod and chopped up a white chocolate bar instead of using buttons (I actually think the recipe can stand a bit more chocolate, to be honest).

I don’t think these are quite as rich as they could be (I found the mix to be fairly runny rather than nice and thick), but they’re still delicious thanks to the use of fresh, in-season strawberries.

Strawberry and white chocolate muffins 2
I did find that I had to bake these for a lot longer than the recipe said, which made me worry that they would turn out all tough and horrible, but I kept a beady eye on them and took them out of the oven as soon as they looked lightly browned on top.

Strawberry and white chocolate muffins 4
The muffins were wonderfully soft and fruity, and went down a treat in my perpetually sugar-starved office, which is always nice!

Now, confession time: I’ve been in a bit of baking slump recently. I think I overstretched myself a while back when I did three lots of baking in a week… oops.

I’m also trying to get a handle on my eating habits while I recover from a hip/lower back injury I sustained in the Manchester 10k back in May. I haven’t been for a run since June and my waistline definitely knows it.

I’m going through physio at the moment, which seems to be going well, so hopefully I’ll be back on the baking wagon before long. No doubt the Cake Olympics (AKA Great British Bake Off) will whet my appetite for cakes again and I’ll be desperate to get the oven on come the 24th!

So if it’s a bit quiet around here, you’ll know why, but I might pop up with a curry recipe or something at some point!

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Lemon and white chocolate scones

Lemon and white chocolate sconesI’m usually a stickler for scones as they should be – either fruit or plain, buttered, spread with jam and with a dollop of cream on top (especially when it comes to afternoon tea!). But I do enjoy a flavoured scone, too – and this is what I was hankering after when I decided to make these lemon and white chocolate scones.

Scones are really easy to make, but you need to follow a couple of rules to make sure they come out just right. One rule is to avoid over-mixing the initial scone mix if you can, and another is to avoid over-kneading the mix when turning it into a manageable dough. Another is to not add *too* much flour when rolling out and cutting the scones, if you can, so your dough stays nicely moist. Follow all of these, and you should end up with some delightfully light and well-risen scones!

Lemon and white chocolate scones
I added the lemon flavour through finely grated lemon zest. I only used one lemon, but I think two would add a bit more of a tang – the lemon in my scones was quite subtle! I just used bog standard supermarket white chocolate, making to sure to sample some to check it was *just* right (ahem).

I brushed the tops of my scones with milk before baking, but you can also do it with beaten egg for some nicely shiny tops.

I ate my first scone while it was warm from the oven (which meant the chocolate was a bit gooey!) and without any accompaniments, but subsequent scones were enjoyed with butter and strawberry jam. I didn’t have any cream to hand, but that’s very much optional with these, anyway!

These lemon and white chocolate scones would be lovely as part of a cream tea or afternoon tea with a difference, perhaps in the spring or summer, considering the flavours. Do try them!

Lemon and white chocolate scones

Lemon and white chocolate scones recipe

Makes around 14 scones

  • 280g self-raising flour, plus extra for rolling out the dough
  • 70g cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 55g white chocolate, chopped (or use chocolate chips)
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • 150ml milk
  • Milk or 1 beaten egg, to glaze

To serve:

  • Softened butter
  • Raspberry or strawberry jam
  • Clotted cream

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 7/220C/425F. Line a baking tray with baking parchment, or grease the tray with butter.
  2. Sift the flour into a large bowl. Add the butter and rub it into the flour with your fingertips until the mix resembles fine breadcrumbs.
  3. Stir in the sugar and white chocolate.
  4. Stir the zest into the milk, then slowly add the milk to the flour mixture and stir until you get a soft but manageable dough (you may not need all of the milk). Do not overmix.
  5. Lightly flour a work surface and tip the dough out of the bowl on to it. Sprinkle a little more flour on top and roll the dough out until it’s around 2.5cm thick.
  6. Dip a fluted cutter into some flour (I used a 58mm cutter) and cut the scones out of the dough, transferring them to the baking tray (make sure they’re well spaced out – you may need two trays, or bake in batches).
  7. Roll out the remaining dough and repeat until all of the dough has been used up.
  8. Brush the tops with either milk or beaten egg, and bake the scones in the oven for 10-12 minutes, until risen and golden.
  9. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Serve sliced with butter, jam and cream, if you like.

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.

 

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: coconut cake with chocolate buttercream (AKA Bounty cake)

Bounty cake

A while ago, I bookmarked a recipe for a decadent Bounty cake created by a Great British Bake Off contestant, with the intention of very definitely making it one day. Alas, the Bounty cake I made this week wasn’t from that recipe – in fact, I sort of invented it based on what I had in – but I suspect it tastes just as good!

I went about making the cake by baking two coconut sponges (adding more coconut than really required, obviously) and then whipping up a chocolate and coconut buttercream. I didn’t have much cocoa left, so I suspect it could have been more chocolaty, but no matter.

I sandwiched the two cooled sponges with the buttercream and then melted some white chocolate and poured it over the top. Why white chocolate? Well, why the hell not?! Actually, I just wanted it to look a bit more Easter-y, as it was for the office Easter bake sale.

Then came the best bit: chopping up four mini Bounty bars and throwing them on top of the cake before scattering it with liberal amounts of dessicated coconut. I put the finished cake in the fridge for about half an hour to allow the chocolate to set properly, but you don’t need to do this if you don’t mind messy fingers!

Bounty cake
The result was a very tempting-looking cake and lots of oohs and aahs in the office. I didn’t actually get to taste any until I got home (luckily, one piece hadn’t sold), but it was worth the wait, as it was ruddy delicious. I was especially pleased with the strong coconut flavour and the nice contrast with the chocolate buttercream and the white chocolate on top.

The only thing I would do differently next time is use unsalted butter instead of salted for the buttercream – either that, or use more icing sugar to balance it out. The saltiness was actually nice in conjunction with all the sugar, but I think it might be a bit weird for some!

All in all, this is an easy, delicious cake that’s a must for any Bounty fan!

Bounty cake
The recipe

Slices into 8-10 pieces

For the cake:

  • 175g self-raising flour
  • 175g butter, softened
  • 175g golden caster sugar
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 75g dessicated coconut
  • 2 tbsp coconut, single or soured cream (I used soured)

For the buttercream:

  • 120g icing sugar, sifted
  • 100g unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 sachet of coconut cream (I used Patak’s)
  • 1 tbsp cocoa (use more for a more intense flavour)

For the topping:

  • 75g white chocolate, melted (or you can use milk or dark chocolate)
  • 2 x Bounty bars, roughly chopped (the ones with 2 mini bars in each)
  • 1 tbsp dessicated coconut
  1. Preheat the oven to Gas 4/180C/160C fan. Grease and line the bases of two 20cm round sandwich tins.
  2. For the cake, whisk the flour, butter, sugar, baking powder and eggs until smooth, ideally using an electric whisk.
  3. Stir in the cream and dessicated coconut.
  4. Divide the mixture between the two tins. Bake on the same shelf in the oven for 25 minutes. The cakes should be firm on top, golden brown and slightly coming away from the sides of the tins.
  5. Leave the cakes to cool in the tins for 5 minutes, then turn them out on to a wire rack to completely cool.
  6. For the buttercream, beat together the butter, icing sugar and coconut cream. Stir in the cocoa until well combined. Spread the buttercream on one of the cooled cakes and place the other cake on top.
  7. Pour the melted chocolate over the top of the cake (I poured it all in the middle and let it spread across the top of the cake and drip down the sides). Top with the chopped Bounty bars and sprinkle the dessicated coconut over everything.
  8. Place the cake in the fridge and leave for around 30 mins to allow the chocolate to set (or you can skip this step for a messier experience!).
  9. Slice the cake and enjoy!

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/

First bake: white chocolate, cherry and coconut cookies

White chocolate, cherry coconut cookies

As has been well documented on this blog, I’m a huge fan of coconut, chocolate and cherries. The other night, I decided to whip up some cookies using these very flavours by adapting a recipe from my trusty BBC Good Food book – with delicious results.

Cookies are brilliant if you want to bake but don’t have much time – or many ingredients. This recipe can be adapted in any number of ways – just replace the chocolate, coconut and cherries with whatever else you like. It didn’t take me long at all to make these, even though I had to bake them in batches due to the mysterious disappearance of one of my baking trays.

I’ve never actually made this recipe before, but it’s wonderfully easy – just mix and bake. I sped things up further by using dessicated coconut and glace cherries rather than, say, creamed or fresh coconut and fresh cherries.

White chocolate, cherry and coconut cookie dough

White chocolate, cherry and coconut cookie dough

The cookies are amazing – gooey white chocolate, sweet cherries and intense coconut all combine for a taste sensation! I wish I’d made more as they all disappeared in record time!

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 (I used 75g of this and 25g of golden caster sugar)
  • 1 tbsp golden syrup
  • 150g/6oz self-raising flour
  • 100g white chocolate, broken into chunks
  • 10 glace cherries, sliced in half
  • 50g unsweetened dessicated coconut

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, cherries and coconut 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.