Quadruple Chocolate Cookies

recipe for quadruple chocolate chunk cookies adapted from bero easy no eggs

Sometimes a little chocolate isn’t enough. Two kinds? Been there. Three sorts? Done that. Four types? Now we’re talking!

quadruple chocolate cookies recipe milk dark white cocoa powder four kinds

For this super simple cookie recipe, I vamped up the chocolate to the the max, with white chocolate, milk chocolate, dark chocolate, and cocoa powder. There’s no such thing as too much chocolate, obviously.

four kinds of chocolate quadruple cookies baking squares recipe

I cut the milk, dark and white chocolate into small chunks. Given that my kitchen was somewhat sweltering (much like the rest of the country), it was like cutting butter and took no time at all. On colder days you could easily pop them into a polythene bag and bash with a rolling pin.

chopped chunks of triple chocolate for cookie recipe white milk and dark

The rest of the ingredients were equally as simple:

basic cookie ingredients original bero recipe flour brown sugar milk butter golden syrup

And the recipe? Well I adapted this one from my trusty Be-ro book. You can find the online version here.
One of the things I like best about this cookie recipe is that it doesn’t contain any eggs, but still makes beautifully soft, squishy cookies.

bero recipe book chocolate chip cookies adapted to quadruple chocolate

The adapted ingredients list:

100g margarine
75g light brown sugar
30ml (2 tablespoons) golden syrup
30ml (2 tablespoons) milk
50g cocoa powder
125g self-raising flour
50g white chocolate
50g milk chocolate
50g dark chocolate

And the method:

– mix all the non-chocolate ingredients together in a big bowl

basic bero recipe plain cookie dough

– add the cocoa and about 3/4 of the chocolate chunks

quadruple chocolate cookie dough with triple chocolate chunks recipe

– roll into small balls, place on a greased baking sheet (or silicon as I used)

– flatten slightly with your fingers, and adorn with the remaining chocolate chunks

I always like to keep some of whatever’s inside, to decorate the top of the cookie, not just for aesthetic reasons, but also because I like the eater to be able to easily see what’s inside. Take for example a cookie I picked up on an event early in the year, “yum, white chocolate chip!”. 2 seconds later I was spitting it back out into my hand as they were actually peanuts, to which I am allergic. Oops. I’m lucky it’s not too serious an allergy and a couple of anti-histamines later I was fine, and lived to cookie another day.

recipe and method for quadruple chocolate cookies rounding into balls and pressing chunks into top before cooking

– bake for 7 – 8 minutes at 180 degrees, or more depending on where you want your cookies on the squishy/gooey/crunchy scale

quadruple chocolate chunk cookies freshly baked biscuits recipe

– if you can possibly resist, let them cool completely before eating. There’s something extra special about that combination of chewy cookie and crunchy chocolate.

quadruple chocolate individual cookie with triple chunks recipe

If by any chance they do last longer than 5 minutes, the cookies are best stored in the fridge in this warm weather, in a sealed container, so they don’t go soggy.

On the other hand, you could just eat one, after another, after another… and give that chocolate craving a big kick!

quadruple chocolate cookies freshly baked white milk and dark

Personalised Champagne Bottle Celebration Cake

lauren personalised champagne bottle celebration wedding hen party cake pink and gold

Last weekend we went to a beautiful wedding of a good friend of ours, at the absolutely stunning Stanbrook Abbey in Worcester. She is such a good friend in fact, Lauren is the one who actually introduced Rob and I!

I’d not had time to make a cake for her hen party a couple of months back, but an invitation to dinner with the bride the night before the wedding was a perfect opportunity for me to make this up. Champagne is one of her absolute favourite things, and pink, and sparkles, so it didn’t take long to decide on this one.

To start with, I baked a rectangular madeira cake, using a printed template of a Moet bottle to ensure it would be big enough. I used the same recipe (and tin, in fact!) as my grandma’s 80th cake, which you can find here.

moet & chandon champagne bottle cake recipe adjustable size ink

Once the cake was cool, I used a sharp bread knife, and the same paper template, to cut the cake into the bottle shape:
trimming madeira cake to make champagne bottle shape for celebration party wedding

I also thinned down the neck of the bottle, to give a more realistic and 3D effect.
bottle neck of champagne celebration cake

Next up, and one of the most amazing revelations in my kitchen for a long time, champagne butttercream. Yes, you read that correctly. And yes, it’s as amazing as it sounds. And so incredibly simple as well. Simply beat together:

– 100g butter
– 250g icing sugar
– 4 tablespoons of champagne

I had a mini bottle of rose champagne which worked absolutely perfectly, and didn’t affect the colour as well. I covered the whole cake in the buttercream, and put in the fridge for about 45 minutes to firm up (and give me time to lick the bowl of champagne buttercream completely clean!)

champagne buttercream on bottle shaped personalised cake recipe dirty iced crumb coat

Transferring the cake over to its presentation board, I covered in a dark green fondant. Because I didn’t want food colouring-stained hands for the wedding, I bought some pre-coloured fondant – the colour I used was Regalice bottle green.

bottle green fondant icing regalice champagne personalised cake recipe instructions how to

A quick bit of trimming later, the rest of the bottle of champagne came into play as I took a few minutes to admire my work so far, and decide on how to decorate next.

rose champagne with covered bottle shaped cake green fondant black cake board regalice

First up was to colour some fondant for the label and foil neck. As I mentioned pink is a big favourite (and I had insider information that it was part of the wedding colour scheme), so I followed suit from the Moet template with a hot pink colour.

For the main part of the label, I wanted to keep it quite simple, with just Lauren’s name. Using some letter stencils, I carefully imprinted the name across the pink fondant, before filling in with an edible ink pen – the one I use is a Rainbow Dust Double-Ended pen – having both the thick and fine nibs was a great help with this cake.

adding personalisation to champagne bottle pink label cake americolor black edible ink writer pen

lauren personalised cake champagne bottle filling in letter stencils with black edible ink americolor writer pen

On the top of the label, I carefully printed the champagne name, finishing with a yellow heart dotted with gold edible glitter. I also used a scalloped edge tool to carefully print a tiny dotted line all the way around the edge.

champagne tiny writing on pink fondant edible ink personalised champagne bottle wedding cake gold heart

The finished label:

lauren personalised champagne label cake heart wedding pink

Next up was the neck section of the bottle. Using the same pink fondant, I covered the top section, and added an extra layer around where the cork would be, using a fine knife to create lines to look like foil.

Again my not-so-steady hand got to some writing, isn’t it funny how you can look at a word for so long and it doesn’t seem to be spelt right any more? Thankfully my second set of champagne lettering turned out ok too 🙂

champagne bottle neck pink foil made out of fondant and edible glitter gold spray pearls and 2013 seal

Following the design of my template, I also added a gold-edged black ribbon, and golden round seal. As a memento of the year of the wedding, I printed 2013 onto the gold seal.

champagne bottle cake neck pink rose with ribbon and seal all made from fondant

2013 vintage champagne bottle for wedding gold seal made out of fondant and edible glitter

2013 vintage champagne label made out of gold fondant edible glitter and edible ink

You may also spy rather a lot of sparkle – to look like real champagne foil a lot of edible glitter was needed!

champagne bottle cake with edible ink written label and pink edible glitter

For a finishing touch, I added some stems of gold spray pearls (non-edible), coming out the top of the cake, to look like champagne bubbles.

lauren personalised champagne bottle heart wedding cake

Well I thought it was a pretty good cake, but I’d no idea the bride would love it quite so much! She promptly whisked it away for use in the wedding, alongside their main wedding cake! With the promise that a helpful family member would add the groom’s name; I hadn’t expected her to put it into the wedding at all, I’d have added it myself if I’d even thought…!

But it all made sense when I saw the setup of the wedding breakfast – of course pink did feature, but the tables were also named after champagne brands, how fantastic! And wedding favours as pink fondant fancies, such a lovely idea.

wedding favours pink and purple fondant fancy champagne table names bollinger rose petals

I was a little apprehensive when I heard how the cake had fared – but actually a great job had been made of adding Ian’s name:

personalised champagne bottle cake pink label glitter ian & lauren

Look closely, yes that is actually a post-it note! But I think it looks better and more in keeping than adding on writing icing any other way.

And next to (half of) the main wedding cake – a match made in heaven 🙂

wedding cakes giant fondant fancy and personalised champagne bottle pink

Lovely cakes for such a lovely couple – congratulations again Ian and Lauren! Long may you enjoy the finer things in life together – cake and champagne being a great start 🙂

personalised champagne bottle cake pink label glitter ian & lauren

 

Afternoon Tea Review: Tower Restaurant, The National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh

Last weekend a girl friend and I went for a short break in the beautiful city of Edinburgh. We completely lucked out with the weather – gorgeous clear blue skies and bright sunshine the whole time, perfect for a bit of laziness education on some of the Edinburgh Bus Tours.

The Castle and Grassmarket:

edinburgh castle and grassmarket area summer sunshine june 2013 panorama

Views back to the city (Castle on the right) from Ferry Road:

edinburgh city view from bus tour to leith suburbs castle and old town volcanic plug

We’d decided well in advance that afternoon tea was a must for the weekend, and, recommended by the rather amazing www.afternoontea.co.uk , we booked a table at the Tower Restaurant, atop the National Museum of Scotland. I’m pretty sure our decision was made entirely on it having terrace!

The museum itself was well worth a look on the way to tea. It has 4 floors of completely varied exhibits, from Scottish history, to Formula One cars, animals, and a whole heap of interactive stations where you can play games, press buttons, and generally have a play with some amazing things. Plus, there is a great rooftop garden, with all manner of different plants, and amazing views across to the castle.

national museum of scotland roof terrace views over edinburgh castle with grandstand and old town

We arrived at the Tower Restaurant a little early, weary from a days activities, but they were only too happy to seat us early. Having spent a lot of the weekend in the sun already, we opted to sit inside, rather than on the terrace, happily next to some wide-open sliding doors, so we could still see out to the old town and reap the benefits of fresh air.

tower restaurant edinburgh view of old town rooftops sunny summer skies afternoon tea terrace

tower restaurant edinburgh sunny terrace with a view bistro tables afternoon tea review

It was pretty obvious what we were there for – afternoon tea all the way! Our order was taken, and we were then handed the menus:

afternoon tea menu tower restaurant national museum of scotland edinburgh review

And as if the food selection was not enough, they had a great range of teas to complement it:

afternoon tea place setting the tower restaurant tea selection edinburgh

What seemed like a long wait later, but was probably very short (I was hungry!), we were presented with this fantastic solid silver cake stand. A work of art in itself!

silver cake stand full of afternoon tea at national museum of scotland tower restaurant

afternoon tea table setting tower restaurant national museum of edinburgh review summer sunshine

And the food! So much! So much choice!

afternoon tea silver cake stand amazing selection of food review sandwiches cakes scones tarts mousse

As seems the sensible thing to do, we started from the bottom and worked our way up.

On the savoury layer:

– mini cheese quiche
– smoked salmon and cream cheese bite
– egg mayonnaise sandwich
– chicken and tomato wrap

afternoon tea national museum of edinburgh sandwiches and tarts smoked salmon cheese wraps

Next up – cakes and scones:

– plain scone
– fruit scone
– shortbread biscuit
– dundee cake
– chocolate brownie with cream

cakes biscuits scones and brownies afternoon tea edinburgh

Scones of course served with jam and clotted cream – wow they were good!

tower restaurant edinburgh scones plain and fruit with jam and scottish clotted cream

fresh fruit scones with jam and clotted cream at tower restaurant national museum of scotland edinburgh

And finally the top layer – belly’s feeling a little full now…

– lemon and white chocolate mousse
– red fruits tart

afternoon tea silver cake stand lemon and white chocolate mousse red fruit tarts

I had my mousse with the shortbread biscuit on the side – a perfect combination!

afternoon tea review lemon mousse with white chocolate topping eaten with scottish shortbread biscuit afternoon tea edinburgh

We were completely stuffed – but not a crumb left in sight!

afternoon tea tower restaurant edinburgh empty cake stand all eaten

A quick amble round before we left, we found the terrace had amazing views of Edinburgh Castle; well we’ll just have to come back, and sit out there next time…

terrace at tower restaurant national museum of edinburgh afternoon tea with views of the castle and old town

And our review? YUM!

I honestly think it was one of the best afternoon tea’s I’ve ever had. Not only was there a huge amount and selection of food, but every single bite was delicious, even the bits I wasn’t expecting to like.

A definite must next time you are in the beautiful city of Edinburgh!

Baked New York Vanilla Cheesecake

new york style baked vanilla cheesecake low fat recipe for american independence day fourth of july 4th

This was never really supposed to be a Fourth of July post (American Independence Day if you live under a rock…), but it occurred to me last night as I was baking the cheesecake, that it was an American recipe, and if I could get a wriggle on and post today, well, it would be quite fitting really! Actually it’s more of a sweetener (quite literally), for Rob, as a sorry-I’m-going-away-again; the last 6 months have been pretty much non-stop with travel (mostly for work, this weekend is for pleasure), but the end is nearly in sight!

According to wikipedia (is it ever wrong?), what makes it a New York cheesecake as opposed to any other kind, is the inclusion of the sour cream (although you could use normal cream as well, apparently.) I think this adds to it’s unique contrasts of flavour – the sour tang of the cream vs the sweetness of the sugar, the sharp lemon vs the sweet vanilla – and of course that gorgeous baked top.

I looked up a couple of recipes for New York cheesecake, but they all seemed to be mammoth! 900g of cream cheese? I don’t even think I have a cake tin big enough to fit that in! So, using inspiration from this BBC recipe, and this one from Jamie Oliver, I down-sized the recipe to create my own, smaller version (it was still baked in a 10 inch round tin, so not exactly tiny!)

I’m not a huge fan of using full-fat cream in recipes, it’s just so heavy, and I found these great ingredients from Morrison’s new NuMe range – using low-fat cream cheese and sour cream absolutely mean you can eat that extra slice 😉

morrisons nu me low fat range sour cream and cream cheese for low fat vanilla new york cheesecake recipe

Ingredients

200g digestive biscuits
75g butter / low-fat spread
25g caster sugar

600g cream cheese
200ml sour cream
30g cornflour
2 eggs + 1 egg yolk
175g caster sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or similar

Method

Crush the biscuits to fine crumbs (or use a food processor), and mix with the melted butter and 25g of caster sugar. Press firmly and evenly into the bottom of the tin (I’d recommend around an 8-10 inch, springform tin, with high sides).

biscuit base for new york usa vanilla baked cheesecake recipe ingredients

Bake in the centre of the oven at 180 degrees for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Place the cream cheese, sour cream, sugar, lemon, vanilla paste and corn flour into a bowl. Beat until well mixed and smooth – taste to see if any more sugar or vanilla is needed. Add the eggs and gently stir until just mixed.

Grease the inside of the tin (I can’t advocate cake release spray enough), and pour the batter over the top of the biscuit base. As it’s quite a liquid mixture it should settle nicely and not need any evening out.

cheesecake batter new york style vanilla beans springform tin fourth of july recipe

Bake for 45 – 60 minutes at 170 degrees. I covered the top of mine with foil for the first half an hour, so the top did not go too brown. After 45 minutes, keep checking back every 5 minutes, you want the centre to be just-set.

freshkly baked new york style cheesecake vanilla for 4th of july

The next part is very important – allow to cool slowly. The best method is to leave with the oven door ajar for an hour or so, and then take out and leave to cool completely in the tin.

You should find that the cheesecake shrinks away from the edge during baking so will pop out easily. If it doesn’t, gently slide a knife around the edge to free it up.

new york cheesecake recipe and instructions baked to perfection pulling away from the side of tin

In my haste to get things done I didn’t follow my own instructions – instead I put it straight into the fridge – and it cracked 😦

cracked top of cheesecake from cooling too quickly how to solutions new york style recipe

I prefer not to think of it as a crack, more a window to the smooth creamy inside… look at those vanilla flecks!

cracked cheesecake top solutions vanilla bean seeds new york recipe

Once cool, keep in the fridge and serve in big wedges.

new york style vanilla baked cheesecake recipe cake slice large portion fourth of july

For a real red, white and blue dessert, you could serve with strawberries and blueberries, but in their absence I accessorised with something equally as sweet:

american independence day happy fourth of july recipe usa flag in baked new york vanilla cheesecake slice

Happy 4th July!

Little and Large Lemon Loaf Cakes

little and large lemon cakes two loaves one with white dripped icing lemon sugar glaze on ikea glass cake stand

When life gives you lemons, well, who among us would actually make lemonade? Not me, for one! A moist, fluffy, sweet-but-tangy lemon cake? Now you’re talking!

It was one of those weeks in the office, where nobody has brought us cake / chocolate / biscuits / sweets (yes, we are very spoilt, and it’s amazing), and free highlighter pens just don’t quite help with sugar cravings in the same way….
I had some lemons in the bottom of the fridge that had been need a use for a week or so now, and after a long conversation about lemon cake in the office the previous week, whereby we decided it was the best cake for all our tastes, well, it was a match made in heaven really!

After flicking through several recipes, I settled on a lemon drizzle cake recipe that I can’t for the life of me find now. I upped the lemon so it had more flavour, and, as you’ll see, split it into two cakes so I had one for work, and a smaller one to take with me for dinner at a friends the next evening.

The only difference between making these and one big loaf (other than the tin size!), would be the cooking time, which you’d need to up to around 45 minutes, if not more, to make sure it’s thoroughly cooked in the middle.

Ingredients

225g butter
225g white sugar (caster or granulated)
3 eggs
225g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
Juice and finely grated rind of 2 lemons

For the sugar crust
Juice and finely grated rind of 1/2 lemon
80g white sugar

For the lemon icing
Juice and finely grated rind of 1/2 lemon
80g icing sugar

Method

– Make as per normal sponge cakes – beat the sugar and butter until fluffy, add the eggs and flavouring, then fold in the sieved flour and baking powder
– pour into your prepared tin(s) and bake at 180 degrees C for 25- 30 minutes (2 cakes) or 45-60 minutes (1 big cake), until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean

– if topping with the sugar crust: keep the cake in its tin, and lightly prick small holes all over the with a thin skewer. Mix the sugar and lemon together, and pour all over the top of the cake. Leave in the tin until cool, when the sugar will have formed a crust in the top

lemon loaf cake with sugar drizzle glaze recipe

– If topping with lemon icing: take the cake out of its tin and allow to cool completely. Mix the icing sugar and lemon well; and pour all over the cake, allowing it to drip down the sides.

lemon loaf cake with glaze icing light and fluffy recipe

Easy peasy lemon squeezy! One recipe and two light, fluffy and so deliciously lemony loaf cakes.

little and large lemon loaf cakes sugar drizzle crust white drip icing

Best enjoyed in big, thick slices. YUM!

lemon loaf cake slice moist sugar crust drizzle top light and fluffy recipe