White Chocolate, Salted Caramel Fudge Chip Cookies

30 June 2016


I don't know if you know but I am a huge fan of baking on a budget.

I think yeah, it's super that some weeks your budget extends to all the finest of ingredients and you can throw gold leaf 'round like it's no big thing, but some weeks.. the budget be non existent. You feel me??

So what do you do when you want to bake something yummy, but your monies say nah-ah, no way..

You bake on a budget of course!!

I spotted Salted Caramel Fudge pieces walking through Aldi last week and genuinely melted at the thoughts of them. Seriously, you know that dessert face everyone makes when they spoon something into their mouths that actually blows their minds.. yeah that happened right there in the aisle. But clearly it had happened to everyone else also because there was only two packets left!! Needless to say I picked up the two and decided, coupled with some white chocolate chips that were also on the same shelf, they would make some bad-ass cookies.

And I was right.

Still have the dessert face too.


White Chocolate, Salted Caramel Fudge 
Chip Cookies

makes 36 cookies... you could half the recipe for half the fun I guess but I don't know why.. just make the 36!! 

Except for the vanilla and the shortening, everything I used was Aldi own brand baking ingredients and they were perfect. 

115g soft, salted butter
95g 100% vegetable fat or shortening
200g dark brown sugar
220g soft brown sugar
2 large free range eggs
2 tsp vanilla
465g self raising flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 bags of white chocolate chips
1 bag of salted caramel fudge pieces

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F or Gas mark 4. Line your cookie sheets with some parchment.

Beat the sugars, butter and shortening together until it looks like mashed up breadcrumbs.
Add both the eggs and then the vanilla and mix until fully incorporated.
Dry whisk the flour, baking powder and bicarb of soda together and then add to the wet mix. Mix until just together.

Add the chocolate chips and fudge pieces and mix until it's a soft dough consistency. This mix is not sticky, but more like really soft playdoh.


Using a tablespoon, scoop out the dough and roll them into golf ball sized balls. So.. being the way I am... I weigh these out to be about 40g balls (give or take a gram on either side.) If you think I'm going to pick off a gram or add a gram, you damn near lost yo' mind!

 Space them out on your trays as they spread...

Cook for 10-12 minutes, depending on how crisp you want them to be. 10 in my oven is crispy on the outside and soft and chewy in the inside. Yum!

Try leave them on the sheet to cool for at least 15 minutes. Which let's face it never happens.. Just be careful when they come out. They are hot.






The fudge-y pieces melt in the oven and make this chew-chewiness in the cookie that ohmygod yes... is amazing. Some of them stayed intact so there was this coupling of gooey chewy with soft salted caramel fudgeness that just.. oh my.. the face... you see the face!!! The brown sugars add this dark caramel flavour that just makes them richer than your regular chocolate chip cookie and the white chocolate adds another flavour, just because you know... there's not enough going on here!!

Pretty much all I am going to say on these is make them... eat them. Oh and well done Aldi*!



*I wasn't asked to endorse any of Aldi's products. All the opinions expressed are my own and I have not been paid or sponsored to do this post. This is not a review, more of a look-what-I-did (points to delicious cookies) while saving some pennies and it paid off. Kind of a for your information post, if you like. It's sharing a bargain while baking on a budget. What's not to love!

American Dream Waffle Cake

26 June 2016


There is a cafe in Dublin that I liked to go to when I was studying in Trinity. It's a small place that serves sweet and savoury crepes and waffles, with decent prices and good coffee. I have no idea what anything else tasted like in this place because all I ever ordered was this sweet waffle, with cinnamon butter, pecans, maple syrup and lashings of fresh cream. 

To be honest I am really not bothered by what anything else tastes like there either because I won't order it, and you can't make me. I am ordering an American Dream. Every. Time. You have a lot of offer Lemon Crepe and Coffee Co. .. I just won't ever know.. and I am perfectly OK with that decision.

Seeing as I live so far from Dublin, this waffle is my when-I-go-to-Dublin breakfast. But it also served as the basis for this cake, which became birthday cake for a friend of mine over the weekend. 

I am assuming it's not good for you. It felt like my arteries were closing as I baked it but damn it was good. The cake is really soft and the pecans studded throughout add a welcomed textured layer. 

The maple syrup buttercream is just to die for because everything should have maple syrup in it... I am thinking real life, Canadian maple syrup comes with addiction health warnings on the jars. I only have access to pretend maple syrup, so I can only imagine what the real stuff would do to me!! and then, we have the cinnamon butter fried waffles... awh jeeze you guys.. the best. 

Now... BIG DISCLAIMER... they are store bought and obviously not as good as homemade waffles, or a patch on the real deal from Lemon but this cake had a lot of layers to it and if you can cut a sneaky corner once or twice, why wouldn't you!?



Brown Sugar, Pecan Cake Batter


225g soft butter
225g soft brown sugar
275g self raising flour
1tsp baking powder
2 large free range eggs
100g toasted, chopped pecans
225ml buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F or Gas Mark 4.
Line and spray with cake release, three 6 inch round cake tins or two 8 inch cake tins. (Mine pictured is with three 6 inch cake layers)
Cream your butter and sugar until light and fluffy. About 5-7 minutes with an electric mixer.
Dry whisk the flours and baking powder together.
Add the eggs into the butter/sugar mix, one at a time and mix until the yolk has disappeared. Repeat for the other egg.
Add half the flour to the mixture, then the milk and then the rest of the flour. Be careful not to over mix as you want it to stay nice and light and fluffy!
Fold in the pecans and mix until fully dispersed throughout
.
Divide the mixture between three tins and pop into a pre-heated oven for 25-35 minutes or until golden on top and your cake tester comes out clear. 
Pop onto a wire rack and allow cool for 10 minutes before turning out of the tin and allow to cool fully before frosting. 


Cinnamon Butter Fried Waffles

as many waffles as you want to adorn your cake. I used 6. (Fine.... 5 I used 5 on the cake because I ate one waffle, warm off the pan!)
100g soft butter
60g soft brown sugar
1-2 tsps cinnamon

Add everything, except the waffles to a frying pan over a low heat and allow it all to melt and fuse together.
Pop the waffles on top of the melty goodness and turn the heat up to fry off both sides of the waffle. Careful not to burn it!

Pop out onto a plate and allow to cool, go crunchy and taste of absolute deliciousness. Let them stand until you need them.


Maple Syrup Buttercream 

225g soft, room temperature, unsalted butter
500g sifted icing sugar
as much maple syrup as you want

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter on high until it is very soft and pale. (TIP: pop the butter in the microwave for a few seconds until very soft but not melted)
Add in the icing sugar a few cups at a time. If the buttercream is very thick, add a tablespoon of cream or milk in until the desired texture has been reached. 
Add the male syrup and  just keep mixing until light and fluffy. The faster and longer you mix this, the lighter and fluffier it will be.

Lick the beaters and be proud of yourself. We are nearly there. 



Putting it all together...

Once the cake layers have cooled add the first layer, top side down. The underneath part is flattest. Fill the top with layer of buttercream. Add the next cake layer, again top side down and fill in any gaps on the sides and smooth out your buttercream, repeat with the next layer.

Pop the cake in the fridge or freezer for a few moments, to harden the buttercream and make the cake more stable to work with.

Remove the cake from the fridge and add the buttercream to the top and sides and smooth out. I have left this semi-naked because a) I'm a lazy article and b) that's how I like cakes to look these days. I ran my spatula around the edge of the cake to make the little rudges and just kept going to the top. 

Very slowly, start pouring the maple syrup at the edge of the cake to create the drips, then fill in the middle for the top coating. It will go EVERYWHERE so be careful and don't be so heavy handed. 

Add your decorations if you haven't eaten them all and store in a cool dry place, like a large cake tin. 

You can keep this in the fridge but I hate cold buttercream so I think it's best eaten with a couple days of making. 




American Dream Waffle Cake... I love you. And it totally counts as breakfast cake also so don't even be thinking you have to wait until after eating a salad or something to have a slice... Get in!!

Have a great week folks!

Oreo Cookies Cake

22 June 2016


Short and sweet today folks. I have a timeline that needs sticking too and writing deadlines that I have set myself with my thesis so it's going to be a flying visit today! I need to to be strong with myself because as you all know I am partial to the aul' warble, but with the warbling not being the best thing for thesis writing I need to check myself. So this post.. another addition to from The Cake Slice Bakers will straight to the point.

This cake. Hmmmm... this cake... bored me?? I think that's right. 

It was received very well by my family, who finished it , not a crumb to be seen within two days of being baked. Husband felt it important to use expletives when describing both taste and texture and Dolly felt it best eaten when partnered with a glass of cold milk. For me... Meh.

Maybe it was because I didn't use the the chocolate glaze atop. I felt the tin was too pretty to cover up. Or maybe because I didn't dust in icing sugar.. again. Tin. Too. Pretty. Or maybe it's because I am used to pushing myself with this baking group and for the last few bakes, due to faults I can clearly rectify, I have chosen easy option, ingredients-in-pantry and just got complacent. Either way this cake didn't do it for me.... Was grand like. 

Maybe you will fare out better. 


Oreo Cookies Cake-
adapted from Maida Heatters Cakes pg 82

15 Oreo Cookies, cut into quarters
330g self-raising flour
1tsp Bicarb of soda
225g butter, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
300g Caster sugar
3 Large eggs
250ml Sour cream

Pre-heat the oven to 175C/350F Gas Mark 4 and grease a large bundt tin with cake release spray and set aside.
Soften the butter for a couple of minutes in the mixer add the sugar and continue to mix until smooth, creamy and fluffy.
Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix until just in.
Add the eggs one at time mixing well after each addition and scraping down the bowl with a spatula after each egg goes in.

In a separate bowl combine the flour, bicarbonate of soda and the salt.
Starting and ending with dry ingredients add the flour to the wet mixture mixing until just combined followed by half the sour cream, mixing until just combined. Once everything has been added, scrape down the sides of the bowl and give a final stir using a spatula.

Add about 1/3 of the batter to the cake tin and smooth over, dump a handful of the Oreo cookies into the mix in the bundt and then add the rest of the cut up Oreo's into the remaining cake batter. Add this cake batter to the tin. Smooth over the top with the back of a spoon and bake for 1 hr or until a cake tester inserted into the deepest part of the tin comes out clean. (It took my cake 47 minutes to reach this point.)




Leave the tin on a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes,  then carefully turn the cake out on to a wire rack to cool completely.





You might like it if you tried it, but for me it was a no. Onward and upwards right?


The Ultimate Chocolate Cupcake

19 June 2016




Before we even get started, these are hard work. They are at least 4-5 hours of making and baking and if that's not your thing... well then I don't know what to say. 

Because it should be!

Naaahhh.. just kidding! I know that "a lot of work" is what puts folks of baking in the first place but honestly if you stick with this... You will be revered in your social circles as one bad ass baker! At least that is what I am telling myself anyway! 

They are incredibly luscious. The chocolate flavour is so apparent that it might even make the sweetest of sweet tooths (teeth.. I don't know!), concede. The cupcake itself is soft and fluffy, the creamy buttercream frosting is light and whippy but packs a good coco punch. The chocolate macron on top is absolutely superfluous but sheer indulgence at it's best! 

Well it wouldn't be the ultimate chocolate cupcake without it, right?



Dark Chocolate Cupcake
makes 12-18 cupcakes depending on how you fill your cases

100g of good plain chocolate (Try at least 60%)
225g of caster sugar
75g coco powder
225g self raising flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 large eggs
50ml hot and strong coffee (Make one for yourself too!!)
125ml of vegetable oil
125ml of buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 180C/350F or Gas Mark 4.
Line a cupcake pan with cupcake liners.
Melt the chocolate in the hot coffee. When melted, add the vanilla.
Cream the sugar and the eggs until light an fluffy. They will increase in size.
Dry mix all your dry ingredients together. 
Slowly add them to the sugar/egg combination.
Add the buttermilk and mix.
Add the oil and mix.
Finally fold in the coffee/chocolate combination.

The mix is thick but runny so you could just pour it into muffin cases until about two thirds full (makes 18). This recipe will slightly dome the top of the cupcake too, but it won't spill over.



Macaron
makes about 30/40 individual macaron shells

4 aged egg whites (and by aged I mean crack the eggs, leave them covered over in a bowl on your counter over night- up to 24 hours.)
100g caster sugar
150g ground almonds
280g icing sugar
3 tbsp cocoa powder

You need to start with a clean, grease free mixing bowl and a mixer, or hand mixer and clean bowl. Whatever you have. 

On a high speed, whip your egg whites until soft peaks form. Continue whipping the egg whites on a high speed and start pouring the caster sugar into the mixing bowl. I start off with a slow and steady stream and stop after 1/3 has gone in. I let it whip for a while and start again, adding another 1/3 and then stopping pouring sugar. Repeat for the third batch. 

Continue whipping for a further 3-4 minutes until your egg whites form a thick and glossy stiff peaked meringue. 


Sieve together the icing sugar and ground almonds into a large bowl and discard any large lumps or bumps you found were too big to go through the sieve. Sieve in the 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder and then sieve the entire dry mix for a second time to make sure it is completely lump free and airy.

Taking a spatula, fold the egg whites into the almond, dry mixture. Your aim here is to squash out any air in the meringue. You can be rough with your folds, just make sure to keep folding through, making sure all the dry mix has been incorporated into the meringue.

You’re going for a “thick ribbon” consistency. Essentially that means the mix almost falls back on itself in around 10 seconds. 


Line a few baking trays with parchment, and using your template, or not, pipe the rounds onto the tray. Keep going until you use all the mix- this recipe yields about 30-40 macrons shells. Giving you 15-20 whole macaron.

Holding your tray about a foot off above the counter top or table you are working it... drop it! Drop it likes it hot. Drop that tray like you hate it. 

Repeat this procedure a few times to pop any air bubbles left in your shells and allow the circles to settle. 

Leave the shells to rest so that they form a skin and have become dry enough on the outside that you can lightly touch them.  This process could take up to an hour. (TIP: Leave them in a warm part of your house, like the windowsill where the sun is shining in.. they’ll be dry in no time!)


Preheat your oven to 130C/260F or Gas Mark 2. Once the macaron are ready for the oven,  pop them in for 10 minutes. After the 10 minutes, insert a wooden spoon into the oven door to keep it a little bit open. Continue baking for another 4 minutes until the top of the shell is crisp and if you wiggled it, gently, from side to side it should be one piece!


Remove from the oven onto a cooling tray and cool completely before filling. Continue baking whatever other shells are left in the same way. 



Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

225g soft, super soft unsalted butter
500g sifted icing sugar
3 tablespoons of cocoa powder or chocolate ganache- whatever you have handy!

Beat the butter with the paddle attachment on high until it is very soft and pale. I find that if you give the butter a couple of seconds in the microwave, to when it's almost starting to melt, before you beat it, you end up with the lightest and fluffiest of frosting. 
Add in the icing sugar a few cups at a time. (TIP: alternating with a tablespoon of milk if you think the frosting is too dry.)
Mix the holy moly out of it until light and fluffy.

Decorate in one thick swirl when your macaron and cupcakes have cooled.

Lick the bowl clean. 

Putting it all together...

I started with a thick swirl of frosting on the cupcake.
Piped a swirl of frosting onto one macron shell.
Dipped the other shell into runny chocolate ganache and sprinkled on some sprinkles.. Pop the top and bottom together.
Put the macron carefully atop the cupcake, lick your fingers and serve to only your favourite people... 

Because damn these were hard work and you want some massive praise!!






Make them. Share them with your friends and be the best.

You can thank me later!! 

Coffee and Cream Macaron

13 June 2016


There was a time there before when all I wanted to make were macaron. The whole process of it... you know the sheer procrastibaking of it... and the fact they take ages to make and are gone in seconds by comparison is one of my favourite things.

But then the pesky Masters got in the way and my time for faffing about in the kitchen, as regulars here will know, was very much curtailed.

But I am happy to announce I am on the home straight folks! All my assignments are up, exam results are next week and I am on track with my thesis writing. It's looking good... So as a treat I decided to indulge in some macaron making! On a Monday no less... you know my penchant for Macaron Mondays!

I love coffee. Ever since the crash I feel like I have been on a diet of coffee and painkillers and as melodramatic as that sounds, I became very conscience of the amount of coffee I was consuming while being at home re-cooperating. So I decide to check myself for it...

And then just found other ways to sneak my vice into my day!! Ta-dah!

Coffee Macarons... made with a delicious amount of espresso powder for that devious, bitter caffeine kick and softened out by a smooth cool, creamy interior. These little morsels of mmmm... are perfect. I, in fact, shared them with a friend who commented 'these are the best macaron I have ever tasted'... he then proceeded to inquire as to whether or not I had actually made them.. but we will leave that one slide!

BEST. EVER. We'll focus on that!


Coffee and Cream Macaron 

aged egg whites (and by aged I mean crack the eggs, separate the whites form the yolks and leave them covered over in a bowl on your counter over night- up to 24 hours.)
100g caster sugar
150g ground almonds
280g icing sugar
2 tbsps espresso powder

Start with a clean, grease free mixing bowl and a mixer. I use the silver bowl and whisk off my stand mixer but, a hand mixer will do perfectly if that’s what you have!

On a high speed, whip your egg whites until soft peaks form. Continue whipping the egg whites on a high speed and start pouring the caster sugar into the mixing bowl. I start off with a slow and steady stream and stop after 1/3 has gone in. I let it whip for a while and start again, adding another 1/3 and then stopping, repeat pouring sugar. Repeat for the third batch. 

Continue whipping for a further 3-4 minutes until your egg whites form a thick and glossy stiff peaked meringue. 

Sieve together the icing sugar, ground almonds, and espresso powder into a large bowl and discard any large lumps or bumps you found were too big to go through the sieve. 

Taking a spatula, fold the egg whites into the almond, dry mixture. Your aim here is to squash out any air in the meringue. You can be rough with your folds, just make sure to keep folding through, making sure all the dry mix has been incorporated into the meringue.

You’re going for, what the internet describes as a “thick ribbon” consistency. Essentially that means the mix almost falls back on itself in around 10 seconds.




You can print off macaron templates... which are very helpful in giving you a good reference for size. I just use one I made myself as a guide... I cut heavy paper to fit the size of my tray and using a cookie cutter to help, just drew as many circles as I could on it to fill the whole page. Homemade. Cheap. Simple.

Line a few baking trays with parchment, and using your template, pipe circles onto the tray. I like to leave it a little from the edge, they fill the entire circle when you bang them out in the next step.

Holding your tray about a foot off above the counter top or table you are working it... drop it! Repeat this procedure a few times to pop any air bubbles left in your shells and allow the circles to settle. 

Leave the shells to rest so that they form a skin. look like the picture above and have become dry enough on the outside that you can lightly touch them.  This process could take up to an hour. (TIP: Leave them in a warm part of your house, like the windowsill where the sun is shining in.. they’ll be dry in no time!)

Preheat your oven to 130’. Once the macaron are ready for the oven,  pop them in for 10 minutes. After the 10 minutes, insert a wooden spoon into the oven door to keep it a little bit open. Continue baking for another 4-6 minutes until the top of the shell is crisp and if you wiggled it, gently, from side to side it should be one piece!

Remove from the oven onto a cooling tray and cool completely before filling. Continue baking whatever other shells are left in the same way. 




Cream Filling 
125g mascarpone cream cheese
125ml single whipping cream
65g icing sugar
1 to 2 tsp of vanilla extract

Take the mascarpone, cream and icing sugar and whip it up until you have a thick consistency. Add the vanilla to your taste and sandwich two shells, spooning it out using a teaspoon or piping bag filled with the cream filling. Serve.

Watch people melt as they collapse under the weight of your patisserie skills.

If you do have any left over, these will need to be stored in the fridge because of the dairy content but once you put them on the table.. they are not going to last.. Leftovers won't even be considered a real thing!






I really wish I had some left. That's the problem with baking and eating them all and then blogging afterwards... There's never enough.

Have a great week folks! Hope the summer is shaping up to all you want it to be and if you're popping by from colder parts.. hope Jack Frost isn't nipping too much at your nose!!
 
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