Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Banana, pecan and chocolate waffles

fresh fruit waffle

We decided to treat ourselves to waffles over the bank holiday weekend. We usually have plain waffles with maple syrup and fruit and occasionally with bacon. This time I thought I'd bake something a little different as we are trying to eat healthier so it had to be loaded with fruit. I actually ended up forgetting to add the oil (maybe it was my subconscious working overtime) and surprisingly the waffles turned out fine. It's probably because they are baked in the oven so they have a slight cake like texture but it really did not detract from the taste. I was really worried that it would be dry and unpalatable but they were actually really delicious and filling. I'm guessing that it would taste better with the oil but I've not tried it yet. In any case, the bananas and buttermilk probably saved the day. 

The initial plan for the waffles was for banana and pecans but then I decided to add in some chocolate in the form of chocolate beads from Hans Sloane. Hans Sloane sent me some rich dark drinking chocolate beads to try. They are packaged in an attractive red box and the smell of chocolate when you open the bag is heavenly. Dark chocolate is my favourite kind of chocolate and these beads really pack a proper chocolate punch. I tried quite a few on their own and had to stop eating them otherwise I wouldn't have enough to bake with! They worked well in this recipe as it provided a rich, dark chocolate taste to the waffles. The beads did not melt completely so you get lovely chunks of chocolate. I've also tried it with milk as a hot chocolate drink and it's absolutely divine. I often find that powdered hot chocolate have an artificial taste and tends not to taste chocolatey at all. This is the complete opposite as it tastes like proper melted chocolate in warm milk. I loved the stuff so much that I baked another recipe with these chocolate beads which will be on the blog very soon. 

 Hans Sloane drinking chocolate beads which won the Taste Gold Awards in 2011 and was winner of the chocolatier taste test in 2012. 

 dry ingredients on the left and wet ingredients on the right (minus the oil!) 

 adding chopped pecan nuts to the mixture with the chocolate beads on the right 

 Look at the gorgeous chocolate beads - they are really shiny

 This is my silicone waffle tray

 I love how the chocolate gives it a speckled look 

 Topped with lots of fresh fruit and maple syrup which I bought from America 

 You can see the chocolate beads better in this picture 

Makes 8 waffles

375g flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
50g brown sugar
4 eggs 
250g buttermilk 
2 bananas, mashed
50g pecans, chopped
100g Hans Sloane chocolate beads 
80 mls vegetable oil (optional -see notes above) 

  • Preheat the oven to 180C. 
  • In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and brown sugar and set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, mashed bananas, buttermilk and vegetable oil (if using)
  • Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients andmix gently until just mixed.
  • Stir in the chopped nuts and chocolate beads.
  • Pour the batter into a waffle mould and bake for approximately 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  • Serve with fresh fruit and maple syrup or as desired. 
  • (The waffles freeze well and tastes great if you toast them in the toaster)

Disclaimer: I was sent some Hans Sloane drinking chocolate beads for review purposes to create a recipe. A positive review was not required and all opinions expressed are my own. This is not a sponsored post. 

Monday, 25 May 2015

Pecan Butterscotch Blondies

We went to America a few weeks ago for a holiday to celebrate J's significant birthday. We had a brilliant time and it was also a good opportunity for me to stock up on American baking goodies. I bought a few bags of butterscotch chips as I love the flavour and really enjoy baking with them. However, my favourite combination is still butterscotch and pecans so I decided to make some blondies with them. The flavours work really well together and they were quite addictive! I brought this along with the Irish tea bread to work but these were devoured much quicker. I'm sure I will be getting repeat requests for this one! 

 adding butterscotch chips and pecan nuts 

 ready to bake 

 fresh from the oven 


Makes 1 large traybake

225g buttter
200g brown sugar
75g caster sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
250g plain flour
100g pecan nuts, chopped
300g butterscotch chips

  • Preheat the oven to 180C.
  • Cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy.
  • Add the egg and vanilla extract and continue mixing.
  • Stir in the flour and mix well. 
  • Finally stir in the butterscotch chips and pecan nuts.
  • Press into a traybake tin and bake for approximately 30-35 minutes or until golden brown and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. 

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Irish Tea Bread and Degustabox April 2015 review

It's time for the what's in my Degustabox for April and I will be posting about May fairly soon. April's box had an international theme and as usual it comes in an alcohol version or non alcohol version. I usually receive both in my review box but you can specify when you order them for yourself. A quick note about Desugatabox in case you're not familiar with it. Degustabox is a no obligation monthly subscription which costs £12.99 including delivery. You get 9 to 14 surprise products and it's usually a good mixed selection of goodies. Do check out my previous reviews to see the range of products you can expect to receive.  I have a special discount code for all my readers if you are interested in signing up a box for yourself or for a family memeber/friend. You get a £3.00 discount when registering by using this code PXATS which makes it just under a tenner for a goodie box including delivery.

I decided to create a recipe using Barry's tea which is from Ireland. I used a traditional Irish Tea Cake recipe which I found online and it turned out beautifully. I gave half to an Irish colleague who thoroughly enjoyed it. She suggested adding a bit of brandy or whiskey so I'm going to give it another go soon. It was really easy to make apart from allowing extra time to soak the fruits in tea overnight. It was delicious warm from the oven with butter on top. It kept well and was equally delicious toasted with butter.

 Kingfisher beer in the alcholic box which is from India. 

 IdrinQ from Hermany which is an enhancement drink. 

 Scheckters Organic Energy drink which is a natural, organic drink. 

 Cirio tomato fillets from Italy. 

 Vetee rice which I like for the convenience. The spicy mexican rice works well in stuffed peppers. 

 Nando's Peri-Peri potato chips - tasty ridge cut chips perfect for snacking. 

 Debeukelaer Cookies Bakery inspired by traditional family bakeries in Greenwich Village, New York. They are individually wrapped and have a melty chocolate centre. Perfect for picnics or lunchboxes. 

 Barry's Tea from Ireland

 Kinder choco-bons and mini kinder chocolate with cereals. Perfect for treats and lunchboxes as they are all individually wrapped. 

 Schwartz Balti and Korma recipe mix. These were great for mid week meals and the spices were perfect. 

 Cirio concentrated tomato puree from Italy - absolutely delicious. 

 I decided to use Barry's tea bags for my recipe this month. 

 Soak fruits in strongly brewed tea overnight 

 The fruits were plump and juicy after soaking 

 ready to go in the oven 

Makes 1 large loaf

500g dried fruit mix
4 Barry's tea bags
400ml boiling water
200g brown sugar
250g self raising flour
1 egg
1 teaspoon mixed spice

  • Place the tea bags in 400mls boiling water in a large bowl. Allow to steep for at least 5 minutes before removing the tea bags.
  • Add the dried fruit mix and stir.
  • Cover with a tea towel and leave overnight. 
  • Preheat the oven to 180C.
  • Add the remaining ingredients to the dried fruit mix and stir.
  • Pour the batter into a loaf tin and bake for approximately 1 hour or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Check after 45minutes as you may need to cover the loaf with foil to prevent the top from burning. 

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Banana, chocolate chip and walnut layer cake

Apologies for the brief absence as I've been away on holiday and am just about catching up with everything. I baked this last month but didn't get a chance to blog about it. I love baking with bananas and I'm always looking for a new recipe. This is one that I found online but adapted it to my use. I was intrigued by the frosting which involved cooking milk and adding flour. It was quite a nice frosting which was not overly sweet. The cake was wonderfully moist and you can clearly taste the banana and the walnuts. The chocolate chips added a delicious chocolate hit and the frosting brought it all together. 

I'm sending this to the No Waste Food Challenge hosted by Elizabeth from Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary. This recipe used up rapidly ripening bananas and some leftover yoghurt. 

 adding walnuts and chocolate chips 

 cooking the frosting 

 decorate with some grated chocolate 

Original recipe can be found here 
For the cake
215g flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
113g butter
180g castersugar
120g brown sugar
2 eggs
3 bananas
150mls yoghurt
200g chocolate chips
130g chopped walnuts

For the frosting
250mls milk
5 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
200g caster sugar

  • Preheat the oven to 180C.
  • Cream the butter and sugars for a few minutes.
  • Add the eggs and mix well.
  • Add in the mashed bananas.
  • Alternate adding the flour+bicarbonate of soda and yoghurt until everything is incorporated.
  • Add in the walnuts and chocolate chips.
  • Divide the batter into 2 sandwich tins and bake for approximately 25-20 minutes or until golden brown and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. 
  • To make the frosting, whisk the flour into the milk over a medium heat until the mixture thickens.
  • Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
  • Cream the butter and sugar and add the vanilla extract.
  • Add the cooled milk/flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat on high in an electric mixer until smooth. 

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Mini Pork Pies with Quails Eggs

Last month I mentioned that I tried hot water crust pastry for the first time. Quite a few of you have been wondering what I made. Well I decided to be brave and had a go at Paul Hollywood's small pork pies with quails eggs! If you've watched the Great British Bake Off, you will know that it was one of the technical challenges and has been on my 'to bake' list for a while. I have to admit I was a little nervous and kept reading the recipe to make sure I'd not missed anything. I can see why it's a technical challenge - it's not as simple as it looks! I followed his recipe exactly but found I had too much filling so I made another batch of the hot water crust pastry and baked 12 mini pork pies. You can of course make half the filling for 6 pork pies.

So what did I learn from this experience? I can make hot water crust pastry - yay! It was really simple and I followed the recipe exactly. However, as mentioned for this recipe I had to make 2 lots of pastry for the amount of filling stated. I might have to get a larger muffin tin or just halve the amount of filling. The part that I struggled with was sealing the lid of the pastry - I ended up using the top of a teaspoon to push it into the pie and to create a seal. You do  have to work quickly with the hot water crust pastry as it dries out and hardens the longer you leave it, making it more difficult to mould. I'm glad I made the batches of pastry one at a time instead of just doubling up the amounts. The other slight stumbling block was that the recipe said to make a hole in the centre of each pie - my pies were really full and there wasn't much space at all. The centre was where the quails egg was so the top of the egg got a little brown. In addiction, I could only get a small amount of gelatine mixture in but it worked and you can see it in the pie after it's been chilled.

All in all it was a great learning experience and I am really pleased with the final result. J was most impressed and we still have a few left in the freezer for a rainy day. We had these pork pies with a salad on a weekend and it was perfect. I am definitely making these again particularly in the summer for picnics or packed lunches.

I'm sending this to a few blog challenges this month.

AlphaBakes hosted by me this month and co hosted by Caroline from Caroline Makes. The letter this month is Q for Quails eggs!

The pastry challenge hosted by Jen from Jen's Food and Lisa from United Cakedom. The theme this month is picnics and thes mini pork pies are easily transportable plus you can bake them in advance.

Simply Eggcellent hosted by Dom from Belleau Kitchen. The theme this month is savoury.

Treat Petite hosted by Stuart from Cakeyboi and Kat from The Baking Explorer. The theme this month is Eurovision. These pork pies are very British and they are mini versions.

Tea Time Treats hosted by Jane from The Hedgecombers and Karen from Lavender and Lovage. The theme this month is Sandwiches, Wraps and Rolls. These are a sneaky entry but they definitely fit the savoury theme!

Biscuit Barrel challenge guest hosted by Alexandra from The Lass in the Apron on behalf of Laura from I'd Much Rather Bake Than ...  The theme this month is Party and these are definitely great for parties.

Bake of the week hosted by Helen from Casa Costello.

Recipe of the week hosted by Emily from A Mummy Too.

Cook Blog Share hosted by Lucy from Supergolden Bakes.

 bring water and salt to a boil then add the lard 

 rub butter in to the flour 

 the dough comes together nicely 


 adding the filling - you can see that it was a bit of a squeeze for my filling 

 you can see the quails egg poking out through the hole in the centre and there's not much of a gap for the gelatine mixture 

 baked and chilled overnight in the fridge 

 ta dah! 

 served with fresh green salad 

Recipe from BBC Food