Tag Archives: dessert

Pancake Day and Plum Syrup

So pancake day has come and gone and it was such a busy day. I went to two different houses (a mini pancake crawl), and ate many different pancakes.

The variety of fillings was endless, but here’s a list of the ones I can remember.

  • Chocolate syrup
  • Toffee syrup
  • Ice-cream
  • Bananas
  • Mango puree
  • White chocolate stars
  • Cheese
  • Jalapeno sauce
  • Fish sauce
  • Lea & Perrins
  • Nutella
  • Lemons
  • Oranges

It was pancake day heaven and by the end of the night it was all I could do to waddle to the closest bus stop for home and rest up my fit to burst belly.

But now I’ve firmly decided, as I do every year, that pancakes must be eaten more often and definitely accompanied by the plum syrup I made.

Now I’ve got to say that I didn’t really keep precise track of what I did exactly to make this syrup and it was definately a cooking by taste rather than recipe achievement. But here’s a rough account of all the ingredients.

  • 4 plums (cut into small pieces, skin on)
  • 50g soft brown sugar
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 1 inch square piece of gelatine leaf

1. Firstly you’ll want to chop the plums into small pieces, don’t bother to peel off the skin.

2. Put the plum chunks into a pan with about 400ml of water and simmer gently for around 15 minutes.

Simmer the Plum pieces

3. Add the sugar and simmer for another 15 minutes or so. Then have a taste of the liquid mixture – but please, please don’t singe your tongue while doing this. Be smart people! Add more sugar if it doesn’t taste sweet enough, or if the plum taste isn’t strong enough, simmer for longer or add more plum chunks.

4. If it does taste sweet and plummy enough you can go ahead and take the pan off the heat for the next step.

5. Pour the mixture into a measuring jug or bowl, then get a sieve and place it over the saucepan and pour the mixture through the sieve back into the pan

6. Now you’ll get a collection of soft plum flesh in the sieve and you’ll want to use a spoon to stir this, still on the sieve, and try to strain as much of the plum juice out as possible. Don’t force the flesh through the sieve though – you want a syrup, not a puree in the saucepan.

You can now store the plum whatever plum flesh is left in the sieve and use it as a jam, you can even add some sugar or butter to it if you like.

Tomorrow's Jam

7. Bring the sieve liquid to the boil and reduce until thicker. I reduced mine until a thin coat formed on the back of the spoon and then added a square inch of gelatine leaf to the mixture to make it slightly thicker quicker.

And there you have it – plum syrup and a little side effect of jam! 😀


Peppermint Cream Chocolate Cupcakes

Recently I was invited round to a friend’s for a girly night and decided to make some cupcakes to take round.

I turned to the  ‘Cupcakes’ book by Carol Pastor that was given to me. The recipe I chose was for ‘Chocolate Mint-filled cupcakes’. But I changed a couple of things around because this was one of those times when trying to follow recipe doesn’t go as planned Firstly, I couldn’t find any caster sugar so used brown sugar instead. The next problem I had was despite following the instructions I produced far too much peppermint cream for piping inside the cupcakes, so rather than producing a separate chocolate frosting as suggested, I added some cocoa powder to make a peppermint cocoa topping.

Don’t worry, despite the overuse of this cream the cupcake is not overwhelmed by peppermint!

Phwarr, that filling looks so gorgeous

For the peppermint cream I mixed 300ml whipping cream with around 1 1/2 teaspoons of peppermint extract and 2tbsps of icing sugar. Whisk this until almost firm peaks are form. Fill a piping bag with this cream insert a round  tip nossel into the bottom of the cupcakes and squeeze in the cream gently. You should feel the cupcake almost inflate as the cream is piped in but be carefully not to overpipe! You may get one or two slight leaks of cream from the top of the cupcakes if you’ve piped in too much.

So here’s a hopefully simplified and adapted recipe The Kitchen Belle way…

For the Cake

  • 150g butter
  • 300g light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp peppermint extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 250ml milk
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C and grease cupcake tin or prepare cupcake liners.
  2. Beat together butter and sugar until creamy.
  3. Add eggs, milk, peppermint and beat some more.
  4. Add the dry ingredients and mix in.
  5. Fill the cases/tin with cake mixture and bake for around 15 minutes. My cupcakes were rather large as they went straight into the tin moulds and took around 20 minutes.
  6. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

They're already bursting out and longing to be eaten! 😀

For the White cream

  • 300ml whipping cream
  • 1 1/2 tsp peppermint extract
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar
  1. Whip cream till it starts to thicken slightly then add sugar and extract and whip till almost stiff.
  2. Spoon into a piping bag with a plain round nozzle.
  3. Stick the nozzle into the bottom of the cake and pipe in, take note of the instructions earlier so you don’t explode your cupcakes with too much filling. Oh and remember to take the cupcake liners off first if you did use them for baking!

For the Cocoa Cream

  • Remaining cream
  • 2  tbsp cocoa powder
  • 4 tbsp icing sugar
  1. Mix the cocoa and sugar into the remaining cream (adding less or more according to taste and depending on how much cream you have left) and rewhip if the cream starts to lose its shape.
  2. Pipe onto the top of the cupcakes in whatever design you like – probably one better than mine! 🙂

My icing skills need a lot of work

The great thing about these cupcakes is that the cool peppermint flavour is very refreshing, so you feel like you can have more than one a day without feeling overwhelmed by sweetness… though maybe having a few cupcakes a day isn’t really a good thing.

Oreo Brownies

There’s a new BBC cookery show called ‘Baking Made Easy’ hosted by Lorraine Pascale and she has a lot of interesting recipes I want to try out. The first I’ve attempted is her brownies with Oreo chunks, which are really, really gorgeous.

This is a recipe that I will have to share with my brother at some point because he is even more of an Oreo addict than I am; he also makes brilliant Oreo milkshakes! Can you imagine Oreo milkshakes with an Oreo brownie to go with it? Sounds like ridiculously unhealthy snack heaven!

Brownies with squidge and crunch

You can find the recipe for Lorraine Pascale’s Cookies and Cream Fudge Brownies on the BBC Food Website. I think her instructions are probably better that any I could reproduce and there’s also currently a video from the show that talks you through the recipe. I hadn’t really heard much about Lorraine Pascale before watching this show but I get the feeling that she is going to be my go to celebrity chef from now on. Unlike other food shows, I find that almost everything she has presented so far is something that I want to try out for myself. So hopefully I’ll keep you updated with more recreations!

I did make a few small changes from her recipe. Firstly, I used just 3 eggs instead of 3 eggs and 2 yolks. The only reason for this was that I was running low on eggs. Secondly, I used slightly fewer Oreos because I wanted to save some to eat later. And the brownies were still delicious so apparently no harm done 😀

Complete grating of the chocolate also isn’t necessary, as you can see…

Grated and small chunks

I baked at 180°for 30 minutes. And they came out of the oven looking like this…

Look at that amazing glossy sheen!

Your instinct is probably to assume that the middle isn’t cooked, and keep it in the oven for longer – but remember, these are brownies and the gooeyness is what makes them so mouth meltingly addictive. You want a little, but not too much wibble in the centre when you take it out.

Some tips for ending up with well presented brownies:

  • Leave the pan alone for about 10 minutes before you lift up the paper overhangs and place the brownie layer on a wire rack so that the mixture has time to settle before you start moving it around.
  • You then want to stay as far away from the smell as possible and allow the brownie layer to cool completely before you start to cut it up to avoid too much crumbling and stickiness.
  • Another small note is that you should try to bury the Oreo chucks in the uncooked mixture strategically so that you can cut the brownies easily into even squares. My brownie pieces ended up being different sizes as they were difficult to cut without crumbling apart due to my haphazard Oreo crumble.

Even with my lazy shortcuts in following the original recipe, I have to admit that these tasted so good that I hoarded more for myself than giving them out for other people to try. Maybe I’ll whip up another batch in a few weeks and try to share more…


Citrus Syrup Almond Cakes

My boyfriend’s family, wonderful people that they are, sent me a lovely package for Christmas full of gorgeous cake goodies.

Awesome parcel of fun

Needless to say, when I saw this bundle of presents I was grinning so wide I’m surprised my lips didn’t do a joker split.

The first recipe I decided to try from the lovely book above was for Citrus Syrup and Almond Cupcakes. The perfect decoration was also available in this parcel of cakegasm.

Happy, happy yellow

The hardest part of this recipe was the waiting two hours for the Clementines to boil and soften before I could make the puree. I can’t stand waiting for baking, so I started to weigh out everything and then tried to start watching ‘The Mentalist’ to take my mind off the lovely citrus scent filling the house. Even then I didn’t manage the whole two hours as the original recipe suggested. 1 hour 15 minutes was around the limit of my patience. But I think this was far too long as the clementines had lost their acidity sure, but they’d also lost a lot of flavour. I think next time around 45 minutes would be better.

I was boiling too vigourously at first

While waiting for the clementines to ‘cook’ you can also start preparing the rind for the syrup. I don’t have the pleasure of owning a zester yet so I used a peeler and then sliced the rind as thinly as possible, which to be perfectly honest, wasn’t all that thinly. But I’m all in favour of cakes that taste brilliant but don’t look too perfect. Why would you ever want to eat a perfect looking cake? If I ever did create such a cake I’d probably have to put it some sort of vacuum time capsule in order to preserve it, and then the whole point of its inherent cakeyness would be lost. Don’t you think?

Anyway remember to scrape off as much of the pith as possible without shredding your rind into a gloopy mess. I just used my fingernails but I suppose you could slowly work away at it with a knife if you liked. No? Like the fingers on approach better? Excellent!

The rest of the recipe was simple.

Puree the boiled fruit and let cool.

Whisk up the eggs and sugar into a lovely fluffy mix, then add the almond powder and puree and whisk until combined.

Try to make sure any large clumps of almond are broken up and mixed into a smooth batter. Large clumps will result in lumpy cake and that doesn’t sound, look or taste very nice.

Because there aren’t any raising agents used in this recipe, apart from the eggs, make sure to fill the cake cases quite fully. I completely forgot to take a picture at this stage, but I left around half a centimetre of space at the top of the cases.

I baked at 165° for 30 minutes, at this point the cakes were cooked but not quite golden enough so a further 5 minutes was needed to achieve a lovely perfectly sunkissed look.

Don't they look gorgeous?

Making the syrup was perfectly simple, I’d only advise making around half the amount of the original recipe if you want just enough for the cupcakes themselves and one or two cheeky taste-testing spoonfuls.

That's a lot of syrup

And now, the simplified recipe:

For the cake

  • 3 clementines
  • 6 eggs
  • 225g ground almonds
  • 225g caster sugar
  1. Cover the clementines with water and simmer for however long you can stand to wait. If the house has caught fire – you’ve waited too long. Don’t forget to top up the water to fully cover the fruit when needed.
  2. Make a puree from the softened clementine flesh, I used a smoothie maker.
  3. Let this puree cool and preheat the oven to 165°.
  4. Whisk the eggs and sugar together in a bowl until light  and fluffy.
  5. Add the almond and cooled puree and whisk gently to incorporate.
  6. Pour into your happy, happy citrus themed cupcake cases.
  7. Bake at 165° for 30-35 minutes until  a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean and the tops are nice and golden.

For the syrup (I recommend halving this)

  • 250ml water
  • 350g caster sugar
  • zest of 1 clementine (really you can add as much as you like)
  • 2tbps lemon juice
  1. Add the water and sugar together and dissolve over a medium heat.
  2. Add the lemon juice and zest, and simmer to reduce the syrup until it begins to thicken slightly and you can see a thin layer covering the back of a spoon.
  3. Allow to cool and then slowly slather the cupcakes with this gooey syrup.
  4. Proceed to the scoffing of delicious cake.

The natural light was quickly disappearing by the time I took this photo

Now the only question left is… what do I do with all this leftover syrup?

The syrup will return...