Cupcakes

Apple Hazelnut Muffins with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

I’ll be completely honest, a few weeks ago I thought spring had well and truly sprung and was all for leaving heady spices and warming bakes behind me in the depths of winter… That being said, Doris terrorised the UK last week, today I had to stop my car because I literally couldn’t see for hail, and yesterday I reluctantly packed away my denim jacket. You can probably see where I’m going with this- yep, warming spices and winter fruits are sticking around here for a little longer, today in the form of these deliciously moist apple and hazelnut muffins with zesty orange frosting and apple crisp toppers…

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Ingredients (12):

  • 2 apples (diced)
  • 2tsp cinnamon
  • 150g soft butter
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1tsp vanilla
  • 150g self raising flour
  • 2-3tbsp milk
  • 50g chopped hazelnuts (plus extra for decoration)

For the orange cream cheese frosting:

  • 250g cream cheese
  • 100g butter
  • 500g icing sugar
  • zest 1 orange
  • 2-3tbsp milk

For the apple decoration (optional):

  • 1 apple, thinly sliced (with a mandolin if you have one)
  • 100g caster sugar

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Method:

  1. Before you bake the cakes, you will need to make the apple crisp decorations (if required). For these, preheat the oven to 130c then dissolve the sugar into 100ml water in a saucepan, bring to the boil for 3 minutes and set aside to cool. Dip the apple slices into this syrup and allow the excess to drip off then arrange on a lined baking tray. Bake for 1-1 1/2 hours, turning occasionally. Once dried out, leave to harden on a rack.
  2. Now preheat the oven to 180c and line a muffin tray with cupcake cases.
  3. Toss the diced apple in cinnamon and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well between each addition (add a spoonful of the flour too if you’re worried about curdling).
  4. Stir in the vanilla extract and sift over the flour. Fold, then mix in the milk to loosen and add the hazelnuts and apples, briefly mixing to distribute evenly. Fill each case (2/3 full) and bake for 20 minutes.
  5. Once the muffins are ready, cool in the tin while you make the cream cheese frosting.
  6. For the frosting, simply beat together the cream cheese, zest and butter until combined, then gradually add the icing sugar until you have a light, fluffy consistency. If you’d like to loosen the texture, just add the milk and beat.
  7. Pipe the frosting onto the cooled cakes, sprinkle with some hazelnuts and top with the apple crisps.

Enjoy!

Blueberry, Squash and Spice Muffins (GF/ R.Sugar Free)

Yep, I’ve jumped on the detox January bandwagon, and here’s the first of my healthier bakes; butternut squash, date, blueberry and cinnamon muffins. A quick scroll through my blog and it won’t come as a shock that I’m a bit clueless when it comes to ‘free from’ baking, but I’ve actually surprised myself with what can be done without the conventional sugars and flours I’m used to. The fruit in these muffins add sweetness and the almonds create a moist and soft texture making them a great (and still tasty) alternative to the sugar packed treats I’m sure we’ve all indulged in over Christmas. Give them a try!

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Ingredients (makes 12):

  • 200g finely grated butternut squash
  • 100g melted butter
  • 100g chopped dates (softened in a little boiling water)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • 2tsp cinnamon
  • 1tsp mixed spice
  • 60g ground almonds
  • 175g buckwheat flour (or self raising if you don’t need a GF option)
  • 200g fresh blueberries

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Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c. Line a muffin tray with paper cases.
  2. Place the squash in a bowl along with the melted butter, dates, date water and eggs. Mix together thoroughly.
  3. Add the baking powder, spices, ground almonds, flour and blueberries. Stir gently into the wet ingredients until just combined then distribute evenly between the muffin cases.
  4. Bake for 20-25 minutes until risen and golden brown.

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Gingerbread Latte Cupcakes

As it’s now officially December ( ie. time to go Christmas mad) I thought I would share my recipe for gingerbread latte cupcakes! These treats are my baked take on the delicious Christmas drinks Costa and Starbucks are serving at this time of year, and are a great alternative to regular gingerbread or ginger biscuits. I’ve made little gingerbread stars to top my cakes, but you could make any shape you like, or sprinkle with glitter instead!

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To make the ginger cupcake mix, you will need (makes 12-15): 300g plain flour, 2tsp ginger, 1tsp cinnamon, 1tsp mixed spice, 2tsp baking powder, pinch salt, 220g caster sugar, 150g butter, 60g golden syrup, 2 eggs, 225ml milk.

Preheat the oven to 190c (fan) and line a cupcake tin with cases.

Sift the flour, ginger, cinnamon, spice, baking powder, salt and caster sugar into a large mixing bowl.

Melt the butter then whisk together with the syrup, eggs and milk in a jug. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the wet mix. Stir until well combined and you are left with a fairly loose batter.

Fill each cupcake case 2/3 full and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes.

Once baked, cool on a wire rack.

And to make the coffee frosting, you will need: 500g icing sugar, 140g softened butter, 3tsp very strong espresso

Using an electric whisk, combine the icing sugar, butter and espresso until very smooth. If thick, loosen with a little milk until it reaches a piping consistency.

Pile the buttercream into a piping bag with a star nozzle and pipe onto the cupcakes. Top with espresso powder and some gingerbread shapes.

Enjoy, and keep your eyes peeled for Christmas recipes!

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Two Ways

Peanut butter and chocolate are a match made in heaven, so I’ve devised not one but two recipes which make the most of this classic flavour combination. Both recipes are simple, delicious and most importantly, real crowd pleasers; so give them a go!

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First up are these deliciously soft and nutty peanut butter and white chocolate chunk cookies (Makes about 12 big cookies)

To make them, you’ll need: 250g plain flour, 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda, 140g unsalted butter, 3tbsp peanut butter (I used crunchy but smooth would work too), 200g dark brown sugar, 100g caster sugar, 1tsp vanilla, 1 egg, 1 egg yolk and 250g white chocolate (cut into rough chunks)

Firstly, line a couple of baking trays with baking paper and preheat the oven to 190c (fan).

Now, sift the flour and bicarbonate of soda into a mixing bowl then melt together the butter and peanut butter in the microwave. Pour the melted butters into the flour mix and add the sugars- give it a good mix.

The dough will a little dry at this stage, so add the vanilla, egg and egg yolk and mix thoroughly to form a stiff dough. You might need to bring it together with your hands.

Lastly, stir in the chocolate chips and roll the dough into smallish (about a tablespoon) balls. Place the balls in lines on the prepared baking trays and press them down slightly.

Bake for 10-15 minutes and keep an eye on them. They will still be soft when you take them out of the oven but they should harden a little- this short baking time is what gives them that classic gooey cookie texture.

Serve to kids with a glass of milk or just enjoy as a little treat.

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Next are these milk chocolate and peanut butter cupcakes (makes about 12 smallish cupcakes).

To make them, you’ll need: 100g plain flour, 150g caster sugar, 40g cocoa,1tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda, 1 egg, 125ml milk, 60ml vegetable oil, 1tsp vanilla, a pinch salt, 80ml boiling water

Preheat the oven to 190c (fan) and line a little cupcake tin with cases (I used small cases).

Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt and bicarbonate of soda, then add the sugar.

Pour the milk, egg, oil and vanilla into a jug and whisk, then add to the dry mix in three additions, mixing well between each.

Add the boiling water and carefully stir until the mix is thoroughly combined- it is a very liquid mixture so don’t be alarmed!

Fill the cupcake cases 2/3 full with the mix and bake for 15-20 minutes until risen and spongey.

Remove from the tin and leave to cool; now you’re ready for the icing!

For the peanut butter frosting, you will need: 500g icing sugar, 60g butter (very soft), 3tbsp peanut butter and a splash milk.

To make this, simply mix the butter into the icing sugar until a breadcrumb- like consistency is formed, then melt the peanut butter and add, stirring thoroughly.

Finally, add a splash of milk to loosen the mix and whisk until smooth. Add as much milk as you like until it has reached a consistency you are happy with but do so gradually.

Pipe each cake with a little pile of peanut butter icing and serve.

Enjoy!

Guilt Free Baking

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Not everyone can afford to eat full fat, full sugar baked goods every day of the week, however that’s not to say we don’t crave a sweet hit once in a while… this is where my two new recipes come in. I have been experimenting with flavours and substitutions for a couple of weeks and have come to the conclusion that these are the best concoctions (so far)  if you’re after a healthier baked alternative. So, without further ado, here are the recipes.

First up are my skinny blueberry, banana and lemon muffins (pictured above). This recipe is great as it contains very low sugar levels- instead of tonnes of white caster sugar, apple sauce, bananas and blueberries add sweetness in a healthy and natural way. This muffin is also low in fat with only 2 tbsp oil per 12 muffins! Give these a try as they taste delicious (you wouldn’t guess they contained no butter or refined sugar) and are moist and fluffy.

Ingredients

180g self raising flour, 50g plain flour, 3tsp baking powder, pinch salt, tbsp cinnamon, tsp ginger, 2 tbsp brown sugar.

1 egg, 180 ml milk, zest of 3 lemons, 1 mashed banana, 3 tbsp natural honey, 4 tbsp apple sauce, 2tbsp vegetable oil, 2 handfuls of blueberries.

Method

1) Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl.

2) Whisk up the wet ingredients in a jug, then pour into the dry.

3) Mix lightly until just combined (overmixing will result in close, heavy muffins!)

4) Fold in the blueberries and spoon into muffin cases. Bake at 190 for 25 minutes, cool and enjoy!

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My second recipe is for these new and improved trail mix protein bars. They are full of healthy ingredients but also provide a great energy boost due to the high protein levels and slow releasing carbohydrates.

Ingredients

2 cups of rolled oats, 1 handful sunflower seeds, 1 handful pumpkin seeds, 1 handful dried cranberries, handful raisins, handful dried prunes (chopped), 1 1/2 cups of mixed chopped nuts (I use walnuts, hazelnuts and cashews), chia seeds (for topping).

5tbsp peanut butter, 3tbsp honey, 200ml water.

Method

1) In a pan, melt together the honey, peanut butter and water. Leave to cool for 10 minutes.

2) Combine all fruits, nuts and oats in a large bowl. Pour cooled liquid into the bowl and mix well to ensure no dryness remains in the rolled oats (if there is too little liquid, add a squirt more honey or a dash or water).

3) Line a baking tin with greaseproof paper and pack the ingredients tightly in, pushing down with the back of a spoon. Sprinkle generously with chia seeds.

4) Place in the freezer for at least 40 minutes then chop up and enjoy as a breakfast bar or snack. Store in the fridge.

From One Extreme To Another

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My family, like any, have contrasting dietary views and phases which makes baking a single item to please opposing teams (healthy vs. all chocolate everything) near on impossible. At the moment my Dad happens to be on a ‘health kick’ whereas my brothers are in a classic eat-everything-in-sight-the-unhealthier-the-better  phase. As I am sure you can imagine, these food ideals don’t really correlate, so today I made a bake geared towards each ‘requirement’. Pictured above are some rocky road cupcakes I concocted with some store cupboard items; they are made up of a moist chocolate hazelnut sponge topped with chocolate butter cream and wedges of homemade rocky road… four have disappeared since my brother’s return from college… I can’t imagine where they’ve got to.

Below are my healthy nut granola bars. With some simple substitutions, I have taken a basic flapjack recipe and rejected the bad stuff. These contain flaxseed, chia seeds (SUPERfoods), almonds, cranberries, raisins, peanut butter, honey and rolled oats- in other words, they are packed with protein, healthy fats and vitamins.

So, on with the recipes!

For the Rocky Road cupcakes

1) Combine 80g unsalted butter with 280g caster sugar, 200g plain flour, 1 tbsp baking powder and 40g cocoa powder until they resemble bread crumbs.

2) Mix 2 eggs, 240ml milk, salt and pour into the dry mixture. Fold in 80g chopped hazelnuts and divide mix between cupcake cases.

3) Bake for 25 minutes at 180 (Fan). Leave to cool and make the butter cream by mixing 400g icing sugar with 100g cocoa powder and 140g butter together. Add some milk to create a smooth texture then pipe onto the sponges.

4) To make the rocky road topping, melt some chocolate (dark or milk will do) and throw in dried fruits, nuts and marshmallows. Set in the fridge and chop up into rustic shapes to create chocolate heaven!

And for the Granola Bars…

1) This is a throw in a bowl and mix like mad recipe- easy as pie! Just melt 5 tablespoons of peanut butter with a glug of milk, 3 tablespoons of apple sauce and some honey- be conservative with the honey, you can always add more later.

2) Pour that liquid mix into a big bowl and add 200g rolled oats, a handful of almonds, sunflower seeds, walnuts and hazelnuts, 2 table spoons of chia seeds and 80g cranberries and raisins. Combine the dry with the wet and press into a square baking tray. Sprinkle with flaxseeds and set in the freezer. Chop up and enjoy your guilt free snack!

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Blueberry and Banana Muffins

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I combined a few muffin recipes to create these delicious treats! Packed full of blueberries and mashed banana, these muffins are ideal for a healthy pudding or even a satisfying breakfast. I’ve topped them with a cinnamon streusel crumble for extra crunch and grated the zest of a lemon into the mix to add even more flavour. The key to any muffin recipe is not to over mix- you want to bring the dry and wet together until it is only just combined. I usually allow it to sit for about half an hour so bubbles form before baking too to make them extra light and fluffy. Why don’t you create your own recipes today, don’t be afraid of experimenting!

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