Banana Muffins

This recipe isn’t anything ground breaking or new, but it’s super easy and the caramel butter icing takes your average banana muffin from good to great. Perfect for an afternoon snack or dessert! Equally, additions such as blueberries, chocolate chips, raspberries, nuts etc.. make for a decadent breakfast that’ll pair perfectly with your morning cup of tea or coffee.


Here are a few tips:

  1. Make sure you use over ripe bananas, the riper they are the moister the muffins will be!
  2. When you combine the two together, only mix until they combine. If you over mix the wet with the dry, your muffins will be heavy, tough, and dense.
  3. Fill your muffin pans all the way to the top. Set the initial oven temperature high, then lower it as the muffins bake. Setting the oven to a “high temperature burst” lifts the muffin top up quickly and creates a tall crust.

Recipe

Recipe from the blog Sally’s Baking Addiction

For the Banana Muffins

3 cups (375g) all-purpose flour (very careful not to overmeasure)

4 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided

2 large eggs, at room temperature

1/2 cup (200g) packed light brown sugar

1/2 cup caster sugar

¼ cup (50g) granulated sugar

1 cup (240ml) milk, at room temperature

1/3 cup (80ml) vegetable oil

3/4 cup mashed banana (2 small, very ripe bananas)

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the Caramel Butter Icing

250 g salted butter (softened)

500g icing sugar (sieved)

4 tbsp caramel sauce or a few drops of caramel essence

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees(C). Fill a muffin pan with cases and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, gently toss together flour, baking powder, salt, and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Mix until all dry ingredients are combined – a 20 second toss to disburse everything together. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, and granulated sugar until combined. Whisk in milk, oil, mashed bananas, and vanilla extract. Mixture will be pale and yellow.
  4. Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix everything together with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. Avoid over-mixing, which will produce tough, dense muffins. Gently mix until all the flour is off the bottom of the bowl and no big pockets of flour remain. The batter will be extremely thick and somewhat lumpy.
    Spoon batter into prepared muffin tins, filling all the way to the top.
  5. Bake muffins at 200 degrees(C) for 5 minutes. Keeping the muffins in the oven, reduce oven temperature to 180 degrees(C) and continue to bake for 25-26 minutes until tops are lightly golden. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean.
  6. Allow to cool for 10 minutes.
  7. To make the butter icing, put the softened butter, caramel sauce or essence and half of the icing sugar into a medium bowl and beat well.
  8. Slowly add the remaining icing sugar, tasting after each addition until the icing is sweet enough. You may not need to use all of the icing sugar, if the icing starts to become too stiff you can add a little bit of milk to loosen it up.
  9. Fill a prepared piping bag with the butter icing and pipe swirls on top of the cooled muffins. I like to use a star shaped nozzle for cupcakes and muffins.
  10. Top with slices of banana (either fresh or dried banana – the dried banana will keep better if not being eaten on the day of baking)
  11. Muffins taste best fresh the same day. Store muffins at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 5 days. (They also freeze well ~up to 3 months).

S’mores Cookies

Summer is fast approaching and we’re all trying to eat better around here. There are currently only three of us in my house and we’ve been on a serious health kick.

I love food, I love healthy food, and I love vegetables. But, sometimes, a little sweet indulgence is needed to get me through those long days in the library. So, having put so much effort into eating well over the last few weeks, I thought that if I was going to give in to temptation, I’d better make it count.

I’d seen this recipe crop up a few times on Instagram on several different accounts and finally decided to give it a go. It is by far the fastest, easiest chocolate chip cookie recipe I’ve ever made, and although I’m probably biased towards whatever cookie I’m holding in my hand at the moment, I think it might also be the best.

I know that everyone is very particular about their chocolate chip cookies. There are so many, many chocolate cookie recipes out there that it’s hard to figure out which one you should go for. But, I can assure you that this recipe will not disappoint.

Seriously, these cookies are an absolute game changer. They’re huge, soft, buttery, chocolatey, marshmallowy, caramelized biscuity goodness that will take your life to another level.

I’ve used the caramelized biscoff biscuits instead of the traditional grahams crackers in these cookies (mainly due to the fact that I couldn’t find any grahams crackers in my local shop), but either one will work just as well as the other.

If you have the patience, let the dough chill in the fridge overnight or at least 30 minutes before baking. It will let the flavor become deeply caramelized, and the cookies will have more color, but slightly less spread.

I prefer to use an ice cream scoop to portion out my cookie dough mainly because 1. perfectly equal sized cookies results in less dispute in the house over who gets the biggest one, and 2. it’s a lot quicker than using table spoons and then rolling the cookie dough into a ball using your hands.

Recipe

(from Seven Spoons by Tara O’Brady – makes roughly 20-25 cookies)

1 cup salted butter, chopped

3 1/4 cups all purpose (plain) flour

1 1/4 tsp baking powder

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, firmly packed

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

2 tps vanilla extract

12 ounces, semi or bittersweet chocolate, chopped

To decorate

Mini marshmallows

Galaxy chocolate bar, broken up into squares

Biscoff biscuits or grahams crackers

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees(c). Line 2 baking trays with greased proof paper.
  2. Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan over the lowest heat possible, stirring occasionally. Take care that the butter does not sizzle or bubble which means it’s losing moisture.
  3. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  4. Put the butter, sugars and vanilla essence in a large bowl and beat until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking until just combined. Use a wooden spoon or silicone spatula to stir in the dry ingredients until barely blended. When things are still looking a bit floury, stir in the chocolate until all of the ingredients are just combined.
  5. Roll the dough into balls, about 3 tablespoons each or a medium sized ice cream scoop, and arrange them on the prepared trays, leaving about 3 inches between each cookie to allow room for them to spread whilst baking.
  6. Top each cookie with marshmallows, galaxy chocolate chunks and broken up biscoff biscuits and then put in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  7. Bake until the tops are cracked and lightly golden, roughly 10-12 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. You may want to add more toppings half way through the bake to ensure the whole of the cookie is covered after spreading.
  8. Once done, remove from the oven and let them cool on the tray for 2 minutes to firm up before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Vanilla Cupcakes

These light and fluffy vanilla cupcakes are suitable for any occasion and a perfect recipe for anyone new to baking!

Vanilla cupcakes are something that I’ve been baking with my mum ever since I first stepped into the kitchen, they’re one of the basics and a pretty important recipe for any baker to have in their repertoire.

The recipe is pretty basic so I’d be impressed if anyone managed to go drastically wrong making these cupcakes, however, I’ve put together a few top tips to ensure that a perfect bake is achieved every time:

  1. Make sure to cream the butter and sugar for at least 5 minutes to ensure that your mixture is really pale and airy with no big lumps of hard butter.
  2. Always bake with room temperature eggs. I never refrigerate my baking eggs, so they are always ready to go.
  3. Remove the butter/ margarine from the fridge a couple of hours before baking to take the chill off it. When baking margarine and eggs that are at room temperature should combine without curdling.
  4. Remember to sift your flour – to avoid lumps of flour in your cupcake batter.
  5. Always fold your dry ingredients into the mixture, this will stop you knocking any air out of the batter.

Recipe

For the cupcakes

6oz caster sugar

6oz butter or margarine

3 eggs

60z self-raising flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp vanilla essence

For the butter icing

250g salted block butter

500g icing sugar

2 tbsp mascarpone

1 tsp vanilla essence

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees (c) and fill a cupcake or muffin tray with cases and set aside. It should make 12-16 cupcakes depending on the size of cases you use. I tend to make 12 large cupcakes using the larger muffin cases and a muffin tray.
  2. Beat the butter/ margarine, sugar and vanilla essence together in a medium bowl until light and fluffy.
  3. Gradually beat in the eggs one at a time, adding 1-2 tbsp of flour each time to avoid the mixture curdling.
  4. Fold in the remaining flour and baking powder and mix until all ingredients are incorporated.
  5. Spoon in to the prepared cases and bake in the oven for around 15-20 minutes, or until they are golden brown in colour and a skewer comes out clean.*NOTE* Baking times will vary depending on your oven, so don’t be afraid to leave them in for longer or take them out earlier than I’ve recommended.
  6. Once the cupcakes are baked transfer to a wire rack to cool down before icing.
  7. To make the icing, start by cutting the block of butter into slices and microwave in a bowl for 20-30 seconds to soften (or leave out at room temperate overnight).
  8. Transfer the softened butter into a larger bowl, add then add the mascarpone, vanilla essence and  1/4 of the icing sugar. Beat well.
  9. Slowly add the rest of the icing sugar mixing well after each addition until the butter icing is pale in colour, light and fluffy. Make sure you stop the mixer halfway through creaming and using a rubber spatula scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure even mixing. *You may not need to use all of the icing sugar, just keep tasting the icing until it’s sufficiently sweet.
  10. Fit a large disposable piping bag with your favourite nozzle – I use the star shaped tip for cupcakes. Fill the piping bag with the butter icing and then pipe even swirls on the top of each cupcake.
  11. Decorate the cupcakes as you wish, the base flavour is vanilla so it’ll go with pretty much anything! I’ve chosen to top my cupcakes with strawberry sauce and fresh strawberries, but raspberries, blueberries or any other fruit would work well!

Ideas:

*Add a little cinnamon to the cake mixture and top the cupcakes with fresh blackberries.

*Top the vanilla cupcakes with vanilla icing, raspberry or strawberry sauce and a flake to look like the 99 ice creams you get from ice cream vans in summer.

Raspberry Cheesecake Brownies


It’s almost the end of Easter, and with exams growing ever closer I’ve turned into a bit of a hermit. I’ve resorted to alternating revision with stress relief (procrasti)baking and blogging. Your waistlines can thank me later.

Over the weekend, I developed a pretty fierce craving for rich, decadent brownies and decided that raspberry cheesecake brownies sounded even better. I’ve taken my favourite brownie recipe and adapted it by simply swirling some vanilla cheesecake mix through the batter and topping with raspberries before baking.

My base brownie recipe uses a mixture of both cocoa powder and chocolate for the ultimate richness of flavour. Although the recipe involves beating the butter and sugar until light and fluffy before adding the eggs, flour and chocolate etc… (which, to those of you familar with baking methods, makes it sound more like a recipe for a sponge than brownies) the lack of raising agents means that there is very little allowed to lighten the load here -this is pure, unalterated, chocolatey goo.

If you’re short for time you can resort to the ‘all in one’ method, which essentially involves chucking all of your ingredients into a bowl and beating thoroughly so that they are fully incorporated.  Although this will produce an equally tasty brownie, I’ve found that taking the time to beat the batter vigorously after adding the eggs helps to create a meringue like outer layer which rises as the mixture bakes forming an irresistibly crisp crust around the rich, fudgey chocolate centre.

Recipe

For the brownies:

200g good quality dark chocolate

250g block butter (salted)

300g caster sugar

60g cocoa powder

60g plain flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

3 eggs + 1 egg yolk

For the cheesecake topping:

100g cream cheese

1 tbsp mascarpone

3 tbsp caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla essence

150g raspberries (fresh or frozen)

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees(c), and line a 23cm x 23cm square tin with greased proof paper.
  2. Set a bowl over a pan of simmering water making sure that the bowl does not touch the water. Add the chocolate (broken into pieces) and allow to melt, stirring occasionally, and then remove from heat.
  3. Meanwhile, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  4. Gradually add the eggs, beating well after each addition. Increase the speed on the mixer to high and continue to beat the mixture for a few mixture until the volume increases slightly.
  5. Fold in the melted chocolate followed by the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder.
  6. In a separate bowl combine the cream cheese, mascarpone, caster sugar and vanilla essence.
  7. Spoon the brownie batter into the tin and then top with the cheesecake mixture. Using a knife or spoon swirl the cheesecake mix into the top layer of brownie batter (you may not need all of the cheesecake mix) and then top with raspberries before baking.
  8. Bake for around 30 minutes (a skewer should come out sticky, but not coated in raw mixture). When the brownies are ready remove from the oven and allow to cool (and set) before removing from tin and transferring to a wire cooling rack.

Happy baking x