White Chocolate and Peanut Butter Blondies

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Peanut and Chocolate Blondies- meant to have white chocolate in but thanks to someone helping themselves they became dark chocolate ones instead!

Last Monday afternoon I got in from work and finished my jobs.  It was one of those afternoons where I had an urge to bake something.  It had to be something quick that I could sling together and chuck in the oven before disappearing off to collect my kids from school.

Brownies or blondies work well for me as I make them such a lot, you get it down to a fine art and they don’t take long to whip up and in the oven.  So, for this month’s Cooking The Books Challenge where I am baking a recipe from every chapter of Rachel Allen’s Bake, her recipe for White Chocolate and Peanut Butter Blondies would be just the ticket.  In the recipe introduction Rachel says “Fed up of brownies? Try blondies! These little squares are great on their own, eaten with ice cream they are simply sinful!”  Well we all need a pick me up or a little treat to help us get through life don’t we?

I looked in my baking cupboard knowing that I’d bought a packet of white chocolate chips a couple of weeks back and would have enough to go in the blondies.  But when I opened the cupboard.. they just weren’t there!  I can only put it down to my kids helping themselves! So frustrating, but I couldn’t prove who had took them! Luckily though I had a packet of dark chocolate chips and they would have to do instead!

To begin with I creamed some butter and crunchy peanut butter together in a large mixing bowl. When this was done I sifted some plain flour and bakingpowder in another bowl.  To the peanut butter bowl I added soft brown sugar, egg and some vanilla extract.  Finally in went the bag of chocolate chips.

As for the tin, I used the square one I always use for my brownies.  It’s a either a loose bottomed one I bought a few years back in Lakeland or one I bought at a Jamie At Home party which isn’t loose bottomed but still worked as well. Either tin always makes either 16 small square brownie bites or 12 large ones.  No problem again here, the dough went into the tin fine and 25-30 minutes later out it came after being baked in the oven at 170oC (electric fan oven here).

After about 1/2 hour’s cooling time I attempted to cut up the blondies and quickly hid them in a box in the cupboard away from my family.  They were going into work to share with my work colleagues and I thought if my family knew there were blondies about there wouldn’t be any left the next day.

I thought I’d got away with it as it was an afternoon when I was at home and my kids were still at school.  I had hidden the evidence but when we got in from the school run my daughter started sniffing when she came back in. She said “Have you been baking? I can smell chocolate!” My kids have baking radar but I lied and said she was imagining things!

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The blondies cut up easily into 12 large pieces.

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The blondies were packed up in a box and taken into work to share with my colleagues. They all disappeared by about lunchtime and everyone said they were delicious.

Cooking The Books- Update on November 2014’s Challenge.

Once again I’ve not been able to devote much time to blogging and another few weeks have slipped by.  Though that’s nothing new at this time of year for me.  I realised I’d not been able to stick at my Cooking The Books Challenge.  It’s been getting  more and more tricky to manage much baking at all, let alone cope with a book challenge!

But we’re nearly at the end of November and I wanted to have a go at SOMETHING.  So I looked on my bookshelves and found an old favourite bought back in 2008; Rachel Allen’s Bake.  I have used several recipes from this book in the past but wanted to dig it out again and have a go at some recipes I had missed out on. All I know my family would appreciate too, which is tricky. Also I thought there is no way I’m baking something that I wouldn’t get round to eating or my family would eat, just would be a waste of effort and money.

So what am I tempted to have a go at?  Remember, to complete the challenge I have to bake one thing from each chapter of the book.  Sadly I just know I won’t have time for that but will do as much as I can.

Here goes:

Sweet Mouthfuls: Lots of yummy bakes here to choose from but I know Peanut Butter and White Chocolate Blondies will go down well.

Cakes: I’ve always wanted to try baking a Kugelhopf after seeing Luis bake one on this year’s Great British Bake Off.

Puddings:My family love Chocolate Sponge puddings so we’re going to try the Chocolate Lava Cakes for one Sunday lunch dessert.

Breads and Savoury Bites: Not a lot of spare time to devote to savoury baking this week but if I do get some time I would love to bake some Paper Thin Crispbreads to have with dips when my mum comes to stay this weekend.

Tarts and Pies: We’re going to have a Chicken and Leek Pie for Sunday lunch when my mum stays.

Breakfast and Patisserie: Patisserie is something I’ve not very experienced in and nwould prefer to try new techniques when I have mopre time.  Instead I’ll stick to the good old muffins and make up the 30 Day Muffin batter. I’ll either make the muffins into apple and cinnamon or banana and maple syrup ones.

Baked Meals:  Loads to choose from here but I reckon the Simple Sausage and Bean Bake will be perfect for a quick and easy dinner one night this week.

Holiday and Celebration: For the final chapter here there is a huge selection to choose from again but I know my family would love the Festive Jam Cookie Sandwiches.

Not really much of a challenge for a fairly experienced baker like I am but then again I don’t have much time at the moment.  Let’s see what happens- watch this space!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Meal Planning Monday- October 27th 2014.

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Yeah, I know! It’s Tuesday, but then again I’m off for half term this week and slowly catching up.  it’s been a while since I’ve taken part in Meal Planning Monday.  Life has just been really busy and I haven’t had time for my blog or for looking at everyone else’s either for that matter. Well let’s see what I can do from now on.

Meal Planning has been a bit hit and miss in our house over the past few weeks. Usually I shop on a Monday and a Friday so I buy what I need and have less waste.  But if things change around I often find I’m not getting my bigger shops done and in the end I’m running round the local Co-op on my way home from work for essentials (which cost more). I must get myself more organised and this is the time to do it.

Here’s some of the things we had over the weekend:

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I baked a Cheddar and Mustard Loaf from the latest Great British Bake Off book. This went really well with soup.

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I baked Norman’s Farthing Biscuits from the Bake Off book as well for my husband to eat with his cheese.

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I made a huge pot of tomato and vegetable soup in my slow cooker on Saturday. It was great to use up all my leftover veg and I used the recipe for Tomato Soup from the latest Hairy Bikers Diet Book.

This week we’re not going away anywhere, just out and about.  I’ve got lots of jobs to catch up on and I’m trying to use up what’s in my cupboard as much as I can.  I stocked up on meat for the freezer the other day at a local farm shop and all I need to buy is fresh bread, milk, fruit and veg.

So here goes:

Monday: Bangers, mash, veg and onion gravy.

Tuesday: Hubby’s out with work so my son and I are having a pizza night!

Wednesday: Off to the cinema so we’ll probably eat out before we go, something like Frankie and Benny’s or Nandos.

Thursday: Cottage Pie

Friday: Pasta Carbonara

Saturday: Beef Casserole in the slow cooker.

Sunday: Roast Chicken dinner.

Have a good week everyone. I’m off over to link up with MrsM on her blog and to see  what everyone else is having.

xx

Update! September and October’s Cooking The Books Challenge.

Those of you who read my blog regularly will know that I’m doing a Cooking The Books Challenge.  This started off well back at the start of the year but then as life got in the way! I logged on to update SmartCookieSam and realised it’s been well over a month since my last post. I haven’t been quiet on the baking front though.  It’s mainly been trying out recipes from The Great British Bake Off Big Book Of Baking  cookbook that came out to accompany the latest series.

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The front cover of the latest Great British Bake Off Book- Big Book Of Baking. I intended to blog a review of it but never got round to it.

So the idea of this post is to share with you some of the bakes I’ve made from the book.  Here goes!

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Golden Carrot Traybake.

I love baking traybakes as a little goes a long way, especially at coffee mornings or fairs.  The Golden Carrot traybake was a big success at my school’s MacMillan Coffee morning.  I had to put pieces aside for the staff before they all got sold!

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Irish Brack.

I also baked the Irish Brack recipe from the Bread Chapter of the book. It was very similar to the Yorkshire Tea Loaf recipe I regularly make.  This went along to the MacMillan Coffee morning and about half of it sold, not as popular as carrot cake!

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Somerset Apple Tart.

For one of the Sunday lunch puddings over the past few weeks I’ve been trying out various recipes from the Bake Off book.  When on holiday in Normandy several years ago I loved the melt in the mouth apple tarts you could buy in the local patisseries.  The tart is called Somerset Apple Tart in this recipe because it calls for Somerset Apple Brandy if you have it. Mine was Normandy Apple Tart as it had genuine Calvados in it. I love Calvados in cream to go with mince pies at Christmas but would struggle to drink any, too strong for me! Of course I would not get a job as a patisserie chef with my offering.  When blind baking the pastry case I left it in the oven a bit too long and the sides burned.  At least Mary Berry would be impressed that the tart didn’t have a soggy bottom though!  My two kids, especially my son weren’t impressed by the tart.  They said “Yuck, cooked apples!”  Everyone else enjoyed it though and all the better with a splodge of whipped cream on the side.

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Cheddar and Mustard Loaf.

Being a sweet toothed monster I thought it was about time I tried out some savoury recipes and I wanted to try out the cheese and mustard loaf.  I thought it would be perfect on an Autumn Saturday along with a bowl of warming soup.  So last Saturday I baked the loaf to have with some homemade vegetable soup.  Again, my son wasn’t complimentary about my baking saying “Why do you have to put cheese in it? Why can’t you just cook some “normal” white bread?”  Been there, done that, wanted to try something else!  Both my hubby and I enjoyed a big slice with our soup though.

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Norman’s Farthing Biscuits.

My hubby is a cheese lover and would prefer cheese and biscuits instead of a pudding if we go out anywhere.  He reminds me of Wallace when he says “Got any cheese?” so the other day I bought some Harrogate Blue Shepherd’s Purse Cheese and had a go at Norman’s Farthing Biscuits from the Bake Off book. I thought Norman was a lovely guy, one of my favourite contestants from this year’s series.  His quote about Tiramisu “I can’t even spell it” or words to that effect makes me smile.  So I was keen to try out his recipe for Farthing Biscuits although mine seemed to puff up a bit in the oven.  They tasted great though and even my fussy son liked them.  Thankyou Norman, will be baking these again!

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Hot White Chocolate Puddings with chocolate sauce.

Another Sunday dinner or lunch dessert.  These individual puddings were made in my Alan Silverwood Pudding Moulds which I think I bought from Lakeland.  They are massive though and I should have shared one with my hubby.  Anyway both of us were feeling greedy and had one to ourselves.  No wonder I am struggling with my weight and was up half the night afterwards with heartburn.  It did taste like heaven though; white chocolate sponge topped with a chocolate sauce.  The chocolate sauce is plain chocolate, cream and butter heated together.

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Sticky Apple Sponge Pudding.

I was given some apples to use up from a neighbour so I incorporated some of them into this Sticky Apple Sponge Pudding.  Very like the flavours of a Sticky Toffee Pudding but with sliced apples added to the bottom of the dish.  A hit with all of the family despite the kids pulling the sliced apples off the cake. Apart from that it was scrumptious.

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Grassmere Gingerbread

I love anything with ginger in it so I just had to bake the Grasmere Gingerbread recipe in the Bake Off book.  I can’t get enough of Grasmere Gingerbread but the original recipe is a closely guarded secret.  I bet this is as near to it as you get though.  The gingerbread was going to be taken with me into work to put in the staff room but it never got there.  All my family kept nibbling!

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Morello Cherry Bakewell Tart.

I also love anything with almonds in, so I was keen to have a go at the Morello Cherry Bakewell Tart.  I’ve had a go at Bakewell tart a few times before but always used raspberry jam in it.  I bought some Morello Cherry Jam in the supermarket and baked this version for another of our Sunday lunch desserts. I was surprised when my son said he liked it!  I nearly passed out cold on the floor!  HE ACTUALLY LIKED SOMETHING I BAKED! Well, I know it’s a winner then.  Again I managed to overbake the pastry.  Why is it that there’s always something else going on?

In the true spirit of the challenge I haven’t baked everything I set out to bake.  I really wanted to have a go at some of the more complicated bakes such as the Princesstarta, the Kouign Amann’s and a couple of the savoury pies.  But it has been so busy recently and I have really struggled to fit these bakes in around my day job and what I’d actually need them for.

Watch this space for November’s challenge:  I’m going to be changing things a bit so I’ll let you know as soon as I’ve worked it all out!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam

Apple and Blackberry Loaf Cake- A Passion For Baking.

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I’ve probably mentioned before that I’m a big fan of Jo Wheatley who won the Great British Bake Off back in 2011.  I love baking from her two recipe books and her Apple and Blackberry Loaf Cake is absolutely gorgeous. … Continue reading

Cupcakes Three Ways with Dr Oetker Premium Sprinkles.

 

On the first Friday evening back after the holidays my school held their postponed summer barbecue.   Usually if it’s needed I bring along some cupcakes or cookies as part of the pudding.  I was looking forward to going along to the BBQ, even though I had been feeling very tired and had lots going on at home.  So, on that Friday morning I shot off into Harrogate to get some jobs done and then whizzed back home to bake and catch up on the chores.  I went into Lakeland to get a couple of things and fell in love with their cupcake carrier. I already have a couple of cupcake carriers from The Works but they are very poorly made and the base which the cupcakes sit in isn’t level.  So my eyes lit up when I saw the cupcake carrier which worked like a carousel and two dozen cupcakes sit neatly on top of one another inside a pretty cupcake shaped dome! I thought this would be perfect to transport my cakes in without resorting to my giant plastic boxes which take up so much room.

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My new cupcake carrier from Lakeland showing how 24 cupcakes can stack carefully on top of one another easily.

 

I must admit I get a bit carried away when I get to the baking aisle in any supermarket.  It doesn’t matter what supermarket it is or whether I actually NEED those decorations but I feel as if I just HAVE to have them.  The other week I was in Tesco and spotted Dr Oetker had brought out a new range of sprinkles called their Premium Range.  I liked the look of these as they were a bit different to the old silver balls and hundreds and thousands you see everywhere.  I chose three different pots: the Banoffee Sprinkles, some Rainbow Popping Candy and some Lemon Meringue sprinkles.  All of these I knew would end up on top of some cupcakes or a traybake that I would take along to school or a coffee morning somewhere along the way.  So our school’s BBQ was the perfect occasion to give them a try out.

I matched or complimented the flavours of the sprinkles to the flavours of the cupcakes and used my regular recipes which I use all the time for cupcake baking.  So once I was home from Harrogate out came the mixer and all my ingredients.  I put on all the programmes I hadn’t seen on BBC Iplayer and immersed myself with my favourite hobby.

Here’s what I came up with:

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Here are my vanilla cupcakes finished off with vanilla buttercream and the Dr Oetker Popping Candy Rainbow Sprinkles on top.

Second lot of cupcakes to be baked: these are my chocolate cupcakes topped with a chocolate buttercream and finished off with the Dr Oetker banoffee sprinkles.

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The final bake was these lemon meringue cupcakes finished off with lemon buttercream and with the Dr Oetker Lemon Meringue Sprinkles.

However, my day didn’t quite go to plan.  My daughter goes to dance class on a Friday evening and my hubby had offered to pick her up on the way home from work.  Anyway, he rang to say he was stuck in a massive traffic jam on the M1 and couldn’t get to my daughter in time.  So I had to pick her up.  This was about the same time as the BBQ was starting.  I had to get my daughter home and put the dinner on instead of hubby so in the end we went via school and dropped off the cupcakes but I couldn’t stay for the BBQ.  It was a lovely sunny evening too and I would have liked to have gone.  At least 3 dozen cupcakes got to where they were meant to be going!

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Two out of the three dozen cupcakes ready and waiting to be taken off to the BBQ. The other dozen went in my not so good cupcake carrier.

The cupcakes were very well received at the BBQ.  I never tasted any but people told me they were lovely and the children went mad for the popping candy ones.  Definitely a big hit then, will be buying those sprinkles again in the future.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

 

Oreo Rosette Cake

Back in the last week of August I finally was free to go along to one of Wharfedale Clandestine Cake Club’s events.  This was the first time I’d managed to get along, there was always something else happening.  Thankfully being the summer holidays I had more time and I was free to go along being as the event was on a Thursday night.  We met up in Otley and the cake theme for this event was “Go On, Surprise Me”!

I thought of baking a cake which had a pattern inside or was a rainbow cake but I also wanted to bake something I had never baked before.  I scoured my recipe books and fell upon a pretty looking Oreo Cookie Cake with rosette swirls of buttercream in the Clandestine Cake Club Cookbook.  This recipe is by Helen Costello from St Helen’s Clandestine Cake Club and had originally been baked for an American themed cake event. I had a bag of Oreo cookie pieces in my baking cupboard which I had bought in an American candy shop a couple of days earlier.  The cake had Oreo pieces crushed inside the cake and I thought that the pieces were hidden inside covered up by the rosette buttercream piping.  So the cake would have its surprise after all!

On with the baking.  I started to bake the cake the day before the event by greasing two of my 8″ diameter loose bottomed sandwich tins.  The cake itself was baked by beating butter and sugar together until light and creamy.  The cake used seven egg whites and no yolks so it was great fun separating them.. NOT! After that I added in vanilla extract, some self raising flour and then finally added in some crushed Oreo pieces.

The cakes baked for about 45-50 minutes in my fan oven.

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The Oreo sandwich cakes cooling down on the worktop.

On the morning of the event I made up the vanilla frosting.  I spread some frosting on the top of one of the cakes and sandwiched it to the other one.  Then I coated the top and the sides of the cake.  Unfortunately the frosting quantity wasn’t enough to go round and I only managed to piped the rosettes on the top of the cake.  I was very disappointed with my rustic decorating skills.

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Spreading the vanilla frosting on one of the cakes.

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The two Oreo cookie cakes on top of one another.

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The decorated cake with it’s messy sides.

Once I saw the finished cake I was ashamed and disappointed with my cake wreck.  So unfortunately my surprise ingredient ended up being sprinkled around the bottom of the cake so it would detract away from the messy sides of the cake.  The top ended up with more Oreos being thrown on top of it and then as suggested in the recipe about sprinkling your cake with edible lustre dust.  I did have some gold and silver lustre dust in my cupboard last Christmas but it had all gone so I had to use my lilac edible glitter instead. I was a bit heavy handed with it as you can see!

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View from the top. I don’t know what possessed me to chuck all that edible glitter on the top of it, though!

There were lots of lovely cakes at the event and I enjoyed lots of different surprises.  From sweetie pinata cakes to a chocolate cake containing quinoa, we were well and truly spoilt.  We had some delicious cakey leftovers to take home and I made sure I took some home for my family to enjoy as much as I did.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

 

Scandelicious Baking- An Update on the August Cooking The Books Challenge.

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It’s been a few weeks since I updated my blog. There’s been so much going on.  Once the school holidays are over I’m back into work mode and there is barely time to get the jobs around the house done.  Then … Continue reading