28 Oct 2014

Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake Brownies

Where has the time gone, dear friends?! I certainly didn't intend to take a five month blogging hiatus, it just kinda happened.  To be perfectly honest I think I feel into the same trap many bloggers fall into, I became disillusioned.  Bigger and better blogs began popping up in my home city of Newcastle and I felt there was no longer room for my little Katiecakes.  Then I snapped back and thought screw it!  I'm reclaiming my corner of the internet and promise never to neglect it, or you again... that is if I still have any readers.

Halloween is almost upon us and what better way to get back into this blogging business than with a kick ass autumnal brownie adaption.  Sticking with my trusty brownie base I added a spiced pumpkin cheesecake layer studded with crunchy chopped pecans. 

You will need:
150g full fat cream cheese
1 large egg
200g caster sugar
220g canned pumpkin
1tbsp plain flour 
1tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
handful of chopped pecans

250g good quality plain chocolate (70% solids are best)
250g unsalted butter
350g light brown sugar
5 large free range eggs
150g plain flour

Preheat the oven to 175C and line a 13" by 9" brownie pan with baking paper or do what I do and use a disposable foil tray!
First make your cheesecake layer.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment whisk together the cream cheese, sugar and egg.  Once the cheesecake is thick and creamy add the canned pumpkin, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Whisk again and set aside while you make your brownies.

Melt the butter and chocolate together in a large saucepan over a low heat, stirring constantly to prevent the mixture catching.  Once the mixture is fully combined and smooth take the pan off the heat and add the sugar, mixing with a large balloon whisk.  Once sugar is combined whisk the eggs together in a large bowl and add to the brownie mixture, mixing till smooth. 
Pour half of the brownie batter into the prepared pan.  Drop spoonfuls of the cheesecake mixture on top and swirl together with a knife.  Pour the remaining brownie batter into the pan and top with more spoonfuls of cheesecake, swirling together when finished.  Sprinkle with the chopped pecans and bake for 30 - 40 minutes until the brownies are set with a slight wobble in the center.
Cool completely before serving.

27 May 2014

Rhubarb and Custard Cupcakes

I love rhubarb season, it's probably the only seasonal produce that I really get excited about.  Well, that and asparagus, but who doesn't get a jolly on for asparagus? 

I was visiting a local farm shop recently, picking up some bits and bobs for lunch when my eye was caught by a massive tub of the beautiful rosy stalks.  The lovely lady who worked their informed me it had just been picked from their fields that morning.  That's all I needed to hear, so I loaded up my basket with the pink stems and off I trotted. 

Sadly Kris isn't as much of a fan of rhubarb as I, claiming it's too tart, so all ideas of rhubarb crumble went right out the window.  After much deliberation I decided to create a rhubarb compote to fill some custard flavoured cupcakes, genius.  The best thing about owning a cake shop is I get to bake as many cakes as I want and they never go to waste, there's always a bustling crowd desperate to try out any experimental sponges.

Rhubarb and Custard Cupcakes

175g butter, softened
150g self-raising flour
50g custard powder
175g caster sugar

1 tsp baking powder

3 large, free range eggs
1⁄2 tsp vanilla extract

For the compote:
450g rhubarb, cut into chunks
150g caster sugar
150ml water
1tsp vanilla extract 

For the frosting:
125g unsalted butter, softened
250g icing sugar
50g custard powder
50ml milk

For the compote place the rhubarb, sugar and water in a small saucepan and cook over a medium heat.  Simmer for around 20 minutes or until the compote is thick and smelling delicious, add the vanilla extract then remove from the heat.  Set aside while you make the cupcakes.

Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a 12-hole muffin tin with cupcake cases.
Place all of your cake ingredients into the bowl of an electric mixer and mix to combine.  Once all of the ingredeints are blended together, using an ice cream scoop divide the mixture between the cupcake cases.

Bake for 20 minutes or until the cakes are golden and spring back with touched.  Allow to cool in the tin for 5 minutes before turning out to finish cooling on a wire rack.

When the cakes are cool cut a hollow out from the middle of each sponge, this is easiest with an apple corer, and fill with the rhubarb compote.

To make the frosting place the butter, vanilla, custard powder, icing sugar and half of the milk into your electric mixer and mix to combine.  If your frosting is looking too stiff add a bit more milk until you reach a pipable consistancy.

Spoon the frosting into a piping bag fitted with an open star nozzle the pipe tall swirls of the icing on top of each cupcake. Top with a fondant flower or pink sprinkles to finish.

9 May 2014

S'more Bars

Growing up in the chilly North East of England means I was never introduced to the wonders that are s'mores.  Where American pre-teens were toasting marshmallows in the evening breeze I was licking a 99 on a drizzly pier somewhere in Whitley Bay.  As I grew I started to notice the sticky treats on TV, I yearned to try them but never really got around to it. 

Last year I was gifted a chimnea for my garden, my first thought was "S'MORES!" closely followed by "finally, I can drink beers in the garden without freezing my arse off".  We grabbed a six pack of Blue Moon and all the fixings for a s'mores party and fired up the chiminea.  I was underwhelmed, the digestives were too fat, the chocolate didn't melt and the marshmallow was just too damn small.  I guess it's just not in my blood.  That'll teach me for not hitting up the ludicrously expensive American isle in my local Tesco.

I gave up on s'mores, with my first experience tainted with sticky disappointment I cast them from my mind and focused on cupcakes and cookies instead.  That was until I came across this recipe nestled within my new American themed cookbook.  I simply had to give them another shot, and boy was I glad I did.  I tweaked the recipe to give me two large trays so I could share them with the customers of Pet Lamb, the recipe I have included below will give you enough for one tray of bars.

 S'mores Bars

125g melted butter
200g soft brown sugar
4 large eggs
150g digestive biscuits, crushed to 'breadcrumbs'
75g plain flour
1tsp baking powder
1tsp cinnamon
300g mini marshmallows, white
350g plain chocolate, broken into small pieces
250ml double cream
1tsp sea salt flakes

Grease and line a 9" by 13" brownie tray, or use a disposable one.  Preheat the oven to 180C.

Whisk the butter and sugar together until creamy, add the eggs one at a time until everything is incorporated.  Add the flour, baking powder, crushed biscuits and cinnamon, stir to combine.  Pour the batter into your prepared tray and bake for 30 minutes.

To make the ganache melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, ensuring the bowl does not touch the water below.  Once melted whisk in the cream to make a thick ganache.  Pour over the cooled biscuit base and sprinkle with the sea salt flakes.

Tumble the marshmallows over the ganache liberally, you want the whole thing to be covered in snowy mallows.  Place the tray into a preheated grill for a few minutes, do not take your eyes off your bars as they will burn quickly.  Once the marshmallows have turned golden remove from the grill and allow to cool for 30 minutes.  Chill the bars for 1-2 hours before cutting.

5 May 2014

The Best Sweet Potato Fries

In my humble opinion sweet potato fries will always kick normal fries square in the backside.  Why have a plain old potato when you can have its creamy, tastier and downright healthier little brother?! Surely this means I can eat twice as many... right??

For years I have been searching for the perfect recipe and finally I think I'm there.  This is an amalgamation of tips and techniques I've picked up from friends and recipes galore.  Get these in your life and say no to the boring old potato!

First of all make your 'rub'.  This will give your fries a delicious flavour as well as adding to the crispiness.  Combine 1tbsp cornflour with 1/2tsp paprika, cayenne pepper and garlic granules.  Add a good pinch of salt and pepper and set aside.

Chop your sweet potato into chips, around one medium potato per person.  Once chopped plop them into a plastic freezer bag and drizzle with oil.

 Twist the bag closed and give it a good shake to ensure all of your fries are evenly coated in the oil.

Throw in your 'rub' and shake again.  Take a baking tray with a grate or line a baking tray with parchment and line your little chips up making sure they don't touch, this is essential to the crisping.

Bake at 180C for 35 minutes.  Enjoy with your favorite dish and thank me later.  

13 Feb 2014

Nutella Stuffed French Toast

What better way to surprise your love on Valentines Day than with breakfast in bed.  I'm not just talking cereal and orange juice, don't even think about it.  I'm talking super tasty french toast stuffed to the brim with Nutella and strawberries.  This is the breakfast of kings, the brownie points you'll receive for this bad ass meal will keep you out of trouble for weeks!

Nutella Stuffed French Toast

2 large eggs
50ml milk
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 large slices of bread, preferably brioche
knob of butter
Handful of strawberries, sliced
Icing sugar, for dusting

In a small bowl mix together the milk, eggs, maple syrup, cinnamon and vanilla.  Set aside.  Heat a large knob of butter in a large frying pan while you prepare your toast.

Spread two slices of bread with a thick slathering of Nutella and sandwich together with the plain slices.  Dip the sandwiches in the egg mixture, one by one ensuring each side is soaked in the egg mixture.  Transfer the sandwiches into the hot frying pan and cook on each side until golden brown.

Remove from the pan and scatter with the sliced strawberries before dusting with icing sugar.  Best served in bed with a mug of tea and a big kiss.