Coffee & Hazelnut Praline Cake

28 Aug IMG_2039

Hello all!

 

Apologies for my writing hiatus as of late, as some of you may or may not know from my instagram I was eating my way around America for the last couple of weeks. But, to make it up to you I have one of the best cakes I’ve made to date – Coffee & Hazelnut Praline cake! It’s a relatively simple cake to put together and of course can be made without praline but trust me – it’s worth the little extra time it takes. If you were to leave the praline out, you could decorate with roasted pecans or walnuts or even dip them in caramel for a shiny finish.

Anyhoo, I’ll stop babbling and give you the recipe to this beauty….

 

Ingredients:

Cake batter

225g (8oz) soft salted butter

225g (8oz) caster sugar

4 eggs

225g (8oz) plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

2 generous tbsp Irel coffee essence

(Note: Irel is coffee essence made up mostly of chicory – Irel can be very hard to find nowadays so any coffee essence will suffice, but try find Irel if you can as it has the best flavour for this by far. I never use real coffee in a coffee cake as I don’t think it has the same taste)

Hazelnut Praline

140g (5oz) Skinned Hazelnuts

140g (5oz) caster sugar

Coffee Butter Cream

150g (9oz) butter

330g (16oz) sieved icing sugar

2-4 tbsp Irel coffee essence (2 for a milder tasting icing, 4 for a  stronger one)

Equiptment: 2 x 8″ sandwich tins

Method: 

Heat the oven to 170 degrees celsius. Grease the sandwich tins with butter and line the bases  with circles of greaseproof paper.Beat the soft butter with the sugar in a mixer bowl, add the caster sugar and whisk until pale in colour and light. Mix in the eggs one by one, beating well after each addition so the mixture doesn’t split. Sieve the flour with the baking powder and stir gently into the cake mixture.Finally, add in the coffee essence and mix thoroughly. Divide the mixture evenly between the prepared sandwich tins and bake for 30 minutes.

While the cakes are baking, make the praline. To skin the hazelnuts, I roasted them in a moderate oven of 160 degrees C for 10 minutes so that they didn’t roast but their skins fell off. Note: this is not a necessary step, but I find hazelnut skins can be bitter. Then sprinkle the sugar in an even layer in a frying pan, tossing the hazelnuts on top. Heat on a moderate/high heat until the caramel has turned a deep golden amber and you can hear the nuts begin to ‘pop’ – this means they are toasted. Be careful not to stir with a spoon as the caramel can seize, but I swirl the pan to ensure they cook evenly. Then pop out the mixture on to a sheet of greaseproof paper on a cold surface and leave to cool. Once cool, blitz in a food processor until it turns to a course rubble with some smaller/bigger bits.

When the cakes are cooked, the centre will be firm and springy and the edges will have shrunk from the sides of the tins.Leave to rest in the tins for a few minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.Remove the greaseproof paper from the base, and then flip over so the top of the cakes don’t get marked by the wire rack.Leave the cakes to cool on the wire rack.

To make the coffee butter cream, whisk the butter with the sieved icing sugar and add the coffee essence.Continue to whisk until light and fluffy.When cakes are cooled, divide the coffee butter cream evenly and ice the top and sides of the cake. When they are ices, grab handfuls of the praline and and hold them up to the sides of the cake, coating it in an even praline coating. It’s easiest to do this while the cake is placed on a wire rack as any extra praline will fall under and can be reused.

Note: You could half the sandwich cakes making a four layer cake, which would look even more impressive!

Happy Sunday baking!

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Nutty pecan, pumpkin, & cinnamon granola

20 Jul IMG_1898

Hello all!

I haven’t had the time I’d like this summer to dedicate to the blog. I’ve been here there and everywhere (literally), so I’m finally taking a breather from travel/work/general busy-beeing this week to catch up on a few things in my life.

Namely, my room looks like a post earthquake scene and my ‘healthy diet’ regime has been shattered into pieces with all of my non stop going. BUT, this is the week I become my slightly more functioning human self which will be helped by a huge bake up of this glorious granola. Like anyone, I always find it so much easier to eat healthier when I have food ready on hand. I normally make up a large batch of this granola at the start of the week, eventually munching my way through it with Greek Yoghurt, Berries/apples/mango (any type of fruit does the trick) topped off with an extra shake of cinnamon.

There are oats in this granola, which are low GI (Glycaemic Index) meaning they release their energy more slowly, keeping you fuller for longer. Cinnamon also can lower blood sugar levels meaning you won’t have that spike of initial energy and crash straight away after. The ideal ‘I’m getting my $h!t together to be healthy’ kind of breakfast!

So without further ado, I present to you the most scrummiest healthy granola you’ll ever make…. (I’m not biased or anything…)

Makes enough to give roughly 10 servings

Ingredients

  • 50g sunflower seeds
  • 50g pumpkin seeds
  • 50g pecan nuts (split them in halves)
  • 150g jumbo oats (this is important- I find the smaller rolled oats too ‘bitty’)
  • 2 tbsp. coconut oil
  • 1 generous tbsp honey (You can use maple syrup too although the granola will not be as sweet)
  • 1/2 or 1 tsp cinnamon (depending on how strong a cinnamon taste you like)

NOTE: I like these blend of seeds and nuts but you can substitute them for anything you like. Almonds work very well in this recipe also.

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius.
  2. Melt the coconut oil and honey together in a medium pot over a low/medium heat until they start to bubble.
  3. While this is melting, weigh out your dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Add to the coconut oil/honey mixture and stir well until all ingredients are combined.
  4. Place granola on a baking tray lined with parchment.
  5. Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes keeping a close eye as the granola can burn easily.
  6. Once baked until golden and nutty brown, remove from the oven and let cool. Break the granola up, smashing half into small pieces and keeping the other half large clusters.

 

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Chocolate, Salted Peanut & Honeycomb squares

22 Apr IMG_1817

I cannot describe how absolutely scrummy these chocolate bites are. I stumbled across this recipe once in Nigella’s ‘Kitchen’ book (who else, seeing as these are the epitome of over-the-top indulgence). The salty crunch of the peanuts, with the dark, rich chocolate with a bit of chew and sweetness from the honeycomb results in a confection that only dreams are made of!

Nigella uses crunchie bars in her original recipe, however I made my own honeycomb in place of this. Either works great, but I find the homemade honeycomb gives a slightly crunchier/chewier texture as the crunchie bars often go soft after a few days of the squares being cut. It’s essential to use good quality chocolate here – I use Belgian Callebeaut chocolate buttons. That nasty ‘chocolate flavoured’ cooking stuff they claim to be chocolate just won’t do.

Anyhoo, I’ll stop babbling and just give you the recipe to these little beauties… You can thank me later…

Ingredients

For the honeycomb (make this first and leave to set before starting the squares)

  • 100g caster sugar
  • 4 tbsp golden syrup
  • 1½ tsp bicarbonate of soda

For the chocolate squares

  • 200g dark chocolate buttons
  • 100g milk chocolate buttons
  • 125g salted butter
  • 3 tbsp golden syrup
  • 250g salted peanuts
  • 160-180g of honeycomb
  • square tin 24 x 24 cm lined with parchment paper or cling film

Method

Honeycomb

  1. Put the sugar and syrup into a saucepan and stir together to mix. Don’t stir once it’s on the heat as the sugar will crystalize. You can swish the pan around to mix if necessary. (Picture 1)
  2. Place the pan on the heat and let the mixture first melt, then turn to liquid and then let it bubble until it turns the colour of maple syrup (see picture 3) – this will take 3 minutes or so.
  3. Off the heat, whisk in the bicarbonate of soda and watch the syrup turn into a whooshing cloud of aerated pale gold. Turn this immediately onto a piece of reusable baking parchment or greased foil.
  4. Leave until set and then chop roughly with a heavy knife.

Chocolate Squares

  1. In a saucepan, melt the chocolate, butter and golden syrup together in a saucepan on a low heat. NOTE: Be careful here as the chocolate can easily catch and burn.
  2. Tip the peanuts into a bowl and add in the honeycomb.
  3. Take the melted chocolate mixture off the heat and stir in the peanuts and honeycomb pieces then tip straight into the lined square tin.  Smooth the top of the mixture and put it in the fridge for about four hours before cutting into cubes/slices as desired.

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Pecan Brownies

23 Mar DSCN1022

Hello all!

With Easter coming up, I thought it was rather fitting to do a chocolate themed post. If you need some Easter cake inspiration, check out my previous post by clicking here.

So for anyone who knows of the Perry Street Market Cafe in Cork, you might know how totally irrestable their brownies are. They do them in a few different flavours, but white chocolate is by far my favourite! As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I was told I have an egg intolerance. I mostly try to keep off them as I definitely find a vast improvement in my skin health when I do, however sometimes I just have to splurge (namely, every time I visit Perry Street to have one of those sacred brownies).

In an effort to recreate their dreamy confection, I stumbled across Jamie Oliver’s ‘vegan’ brownies. I, myself am not vegan, however I find vegan recipes convenient for when I am  trying my best to steer clear of all things eggy. As it is solely eggs I avoid, I often adapt these recipes to suit my needs. I fed these brownies to the family troops and not one of them noticed there wasn’t an egg in sight. Success! The pictures just don’t do them justice! They are honestly the most gooey and delicious brownies and by FAR the best egg free substitute I’ve made to date!

Of course, if you’d like to make the original vegan version, follow the link to the original recipe here.

So here it is! My ‘non vegan version of Jamie O’s vegan brownies minus the eggs’ version. I couldn’t put that as the title now, could I?!

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon sunflower oil
  • 60 g butter (salted) plus extra for greasing
  • 200 g  dark chocolate chopped or in buttons
  • 170 g self-raising flour
  • 3 heaped teaspoons cocoa powder
  • 180 g caster sugar
  • pinch sea salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 230 ml whole milk (pour in gradually, may not need all of it)
  • 200 g pecan nuts
  • Handful milk chocolate buttons

Method 

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4. Grease a square baking tin (roughly 20cm) with a little butter, then line with greaseproof paper.

Place a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, making sure the base doesn’t touch the water. Break 150g of chocolate into the bowl and allow it to melt, then set aside to cool slightly. Melt the butter and leave to cool.

Meanwhile, sieve the flour and cocoa powder into a large bowl, then stir in the sugar and a pinch of salt. Stir in the oil, butter, milk and melted chocolate until just combined.

Stir in the remaining chocolate, the handful of milk chocolate buttons and most of the pecans, reserving a few for the top. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin, spreading it out evenly. Sprinkle over the remaining pecans, then place into the hot oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until cooked on the outside, but still gooey in the middle. (NOTE: Very important not to overcook brownies as they will not be gooey and soft and DELICIOUS. I normally bake mine for 16-20 minutes, with 25-30 minutes producing a more cakey like textured brownie)

Leave to cool for around 5 minutes, turn out onto a wire cooling rack. I love mine just warm with a scoop of plain vanilla ice cream. As they say in Cork, ‘You can’t bate it!’.

Happy eating!

– Rachel

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Healthy Oatmeal Pancakes (Gluten free,egg-free,vegan)

8 Feb IMG_1362[1]

 

Hello again dear friends of the blogosphere!

It has been almost a year since I last had the time to blog- and what a year it’s been! I’ll bore you with the specifics in later posts, but for now it’s going to be short and sweet. I’ve been meaning to post this recipe for some time now. With the realisation that Pancake Tuesday (or Shrove Tuesday) is practically upon us, here’s a recipe for those of you (like myself, reluctantly) who are trying to be a little healthier in 2016. New year, new you and all that jazz.

 

Anyhoo, without further ado, please see below my failsafe (and egg-free) healthy breakfast pancakes!

 

Serves 1 (Multiply ingredients for extra people. Makes 4 small or 3 large pancakes)

Note: You can make these pancakes chocolate-y by adding 1 tsp of cacao powder when mixing in the dry ingredients. A few dark chocolate chips can be added for extra chocolate goodness without being too naughty!

Can be made gluten free by using GF oats and vegan by using plant milk in place of cows)

Ingredients

2 heaped tbsp oats

¼ tsp baking powder

Large pinch salt (important- mimics the taste of salty butter goodness)

½ tsp vanilla

Drop of milk to loosen

Pinch cinnamon (optional- I like to add it for its metabolism boosting benefits)

1 medium banana (Must be ripe. If unripe- you may need to add sweetener)

½ tsp Extra Virgin Coconut oil (to grease pan)

Toppings:

Toppings are of course down to preference, however I love the following combinations:

  • Raspberry and desiccated coconut with natural yoghurt and drizzle of maple syrup
  • Strawberries/blueberries with natural yoghurt, toasted almonds, almond butter, drizzle maple syrup
  • Peaches and toasted pistachio nuts with a sprinkling of cinnamon, drizzle of maple syrup and yoghurt

 

Method:

Heat a frying pan to a medium heat with the coconut oil. Don’t heat too high as the high fruit content of the pancakes means they can burn easily. I always heat my pan first as these are so quick to make. Whizz the all the dry ingredients together in a blender until the oats resemble a fine flour/dust. Empty into a bowl. Blend the banana until it is smooth, adding milk if necessary. Add the banana and vanilla to the dry ingredients, mixing and adding milk if it’s too dry. You’re looking for a liquid but not too runny consistency.

Cook pancakes until bubbles appear, flipping when done. Transfer to a warmed plate and top ‘em to your heart’s desire!

 

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Above: Chocolate version

Below: Plain version

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Salted Caramel, Pecan and Chocolate Cookies! Oooh…

14 Feb IMG_2928

Happy V-day peeps!

These unbelievably good cookies would be the ideal dessert or treat for your loved ones on this romantic day! Now believe me when I say this is hands down the best cookie recipe I’ve ever used. I know in one of my first ever post, I said the very same thing about Nigella’s version of the typical ‘American style’ cookie, but I was wrong. Boy, was I WRONG! I came across this recipe on about the 75784th page of google search for ‘the perfect cookie recipe’. It has chew, crunch, a softie interior and is the closest taste-wise to the famous Marks and Spencers cookies which the world loves so dearly! I decided to make these cookies as I had a bunch of Salted caramels left and nothing to do with them. Alas, the Salted caramel, pecan and chocolate cookie was born! The original recipe is just plain chocolate chip, so for this recipe I slightly cut back on the amount of chocolate as I was adding the caramels and pecans also. However if you do want to do plain chocolate chips, I would add an extra 1/2 cup of chocolate chips.

Dessert suggestions…. try two of these cookies sandwiched together between vanilla ice cream or serve drizzled with some extra toasted pecans, chocolate sauce and ice cream for a rich but fabulous dessert!

What’s so mouth-wateringly good about my cookies you say? Try them and see for yourself…

Makes 18-24 cookies

Ingredients (They’re in cup measurements as it’s an American recipe)

  • 2 cups + 2tbsp plain flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 tsp cornflour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 6oz butter (I use salted)
  • 1 + 1/2 cups light brown sugar (OR 1 cup white, 1/2 cup dark brown)
  • 2 eggs (I use Ogran egg substitute to make them egg free and it works fine)
  • 1 cup chocolate chocolate chips
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup salted caramel chunks (broken up into quite small pieces)
  • 1/2 cup toasted pecans

Method

  1. Whisk together dry ingredients. IMPT: You must sieve the cornflour and bicarbonate of soda to avoid unpleasant lumps. Melt the butter in a separate dish.
  2. Beat together the butter and sugar and then add the eggs and extract, beating with a whisk until well mixed.
  3. Mix the wet and dry ingredients together until fully incorporated with each other. Add the chocolate chips, salted caramel pieces and pecans and mix until just dispersed evenly through the dough.
  4. Preheat your oven to 170 degrees C. Chill the dough for half to one hour. Using a tablespoon, place heaped spoons of mixture (I use an ice cream scoop, which gives large cookies) on to a lined with greaseproof paper rectangular tin. Bake for 10-15 minutes, depending on the size scoops of mixture you used, until cookies are golden but still moist in the centre.

TOP TIP: You can freeze the dough raw in portions for up to 3 months, to have cookies ready to go! simply take them out a few hours in advance of cooking, leaving them in the fridge so the dough is chilled when it goes in to the oven. Chilling the dough is the difference between a good and a great cookie!

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Hope you and your loved ones have a sweet Valentines!

-Rachel

Salted Caramel Toffees

14 Feb IMG_2846

Hello all!

This recipe is a prelude of what is to come…. Salted caramel, choocolate and pecan cookies (drool). The salty sweet chewiness of these sweets is ridiculously good. They are an ideal after dinner weekend treat or look great packaged in clear bags, tied with ribbon for a sweet gift!

Recipe is from the renowned David Lebovitz

Makes roughly 30-40 sweets, depending on how they are portioned

Ingredients

  • 180 ml (3/4 cup) cream – I use normal cream as it’s hard to find double cream where I live, but the recipe works better with double if you can get it
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, bean paste, or powder (I use Nielsen-Massey bean paste)
  • rounded 1/2 teaspoon + 1/4 teaspoon flaky sea salt, preferably Maldron
  • 160g (1/2 cup)  golden syrup (Or light corn syrup- also hard to buy in Ireland hence why I use golden syrup)
  • 200g (1 cup) sugar
  • 60 g (4 tbsp), salted butter, cubed, at room temperature

1. Line a swiss roll tin (23cm one) with parchment and grease the paper (I use a little flavourless oil)

2. Heat the cream with 2 tablespoons of the butter in a small saucepan with the vanilla and 1/2 teaspoon sea salt until the mixture begins to boil. Remove from heat, cover, and keep warm while you cook the syrup.

3. In a medium, heavy duty saucepan (I use a 4 litre one) heat golden syrup, or corn syrup with the sugar, and cook, stirring gently, to make sure the sugar melts smoothly. Once the mixture is melted together and the sugar is evenly moistened, only stir is as necessary to keep it from getting any hot spots.

4. Insert candy thermometer and cook until the syrup reaches 155ºC.

To get an accurate reading while the syrup is cooking, tilt the saucepan to make sure the bulb of the thermometer is fully submerged in the syrup, tilting the pan if necessary.

4. Turn off the heat and stir in the warm cream mixture, until smooth.

5. Turn the heat back on and cook the mixture to 127ºC.

6. Remove the pan from the heat, lift out the thermometer, and stir in the cubes of butter, until it’s melted and the mixture smooth.

7. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and wait ten minutes, then sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon of the sea salt over the top. Set on a cool rack and let cool completely. Once cool, lift out the greaseproof paper with the caramel, peel away the paper, and slice the bar of caramel with a long, sharp knife into squares or rectangles. ( I let mine set for longer, breaking it into shards but this was personal choice)

Storage: These caramels can be individually-wrapped in cellophane or parchment paper. Once cut/broken up they may stick together if not wrapped. Store in an air-tight container, and they’ll keep for about one month.

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Happy Baking!

-Rachel

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