Vegan Gingerbread Chocolate Cupcakes

Did you ever eat gingerbread men as a child, the ones with the chocolate coated hands and feet? Maybe that was just a New Zealand thing…. my friends and I would always save the chocolate pieces for last, prizing the sprinkle-coated pieces of chocolate which were already melting in ours hands….!

Anyway, I made cupcakes which remind me of those glory days:

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They look just like gingernut biscuits (which for those of you who don’t have these in your home country, are these). They look even more delicious when topped with a dark chocolate ganache 😀

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I decorated them with an almond sliver (you should avoid this if you have nut allergies to cater for!) and a sprinkle of cinnamon which just happened to be in a shaker at work 🙂

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Vegan Gingerbread Chocolate Cupcakes:
Ingredients:
One batch of these cupcakes made without the nutmeg and cloves, half the cinnamon and twice the ginger!
For the ganache:
200g dark dairy free chocolate
150g coconut cream
To decorate (optional):
Almond slivers
Ground cinnamon

Instructions:
Bake the cupcakes and while they cool, work on the ganache.

Chop the chocolate finely and heat the coconut cream in a bowl in the microwave for 20 seconds on high, then repeat until warm but not boiled. Tip in the chocolate and whisk until combined. Heat for 10 seconds if all the chocolate doesn’t melt. Cool then chill until spreadable.

Ice the cupcakes however you wish (I didn’t have my piping bag at work so I just flat-top iced them) and decorate with the almond sliver and sprinkle with a touch of cinnamon.

Makes 12 and they are still delicious 2 days later. I kept mine chilled so the ganache didn’t melt and then let them come to room temperature before serving.

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Cinnamon Cookies Two Ways: Belgium or Chocolate-Chai Sandwich Cookies

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I love sandwich cookies. You can do so much with them. So many flavours. Maybe that’s why I love macarons…. on that note, if you can make macarons, I salute you. In my eyes, you are a kitchen master.

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Chocolate-chai may seem like an interesting combination, but it’s glorious. You may have tried ‘dirty-chai’ which is chai with coffee, and I will go a step further to say that chocolate-coffee-chai would probably taste great too… Looks like that’s a new project 🙂

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You could easily use these cookies without any filling but why would you not add butter and sugar if you have the time? As long as you are allowed to eat those things, full respect if you can’t 🙂

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Cinnamon Cookies Two Ways
Ingredients:
Cookies:
1 cup flour
1/2 cup wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1 egg
100g butter
1 (huge) Tbsp honey, melted
Dash of milk
Icing:
50g butter
1 cup icing sugar
For chocolate-chai option:
1 tbsp cocoa
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
Pinch cardamom
Pinch nutmeg
Pinch black pepper
Dash milk
For the Belgium biscuit option:
Vanilla essence
Pink food colouring
Raspberry jam

Instructions:
Mix together the flours, baking powder, cinnamon and coconut sugar until combined. Rub in the butter until it resembles fine bread crumbs. In another bowl, whisk the egg until broken up, then whisk in the honey. Add the egg-honey mix into the dry mixture and knead to combine gently, adding some milk if needed to bring the dough together. Knead very lightly then flatten into a disk and chill for about 10 minutes, until roll-able.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius and line two baking trays. (Or just grease them if you are lazy)

Roll out the dough on a floured surface until about 3-4mm thick. Cut out into rounds using your desired cutter (mine was 4cm dimeter fluted circle cutter). Transfer to the trays and bake for about 10 minutes, until slightly golden and the cookies move when budged slightly. Cool on a wire rack. Depending on the size of your tray, you make have to bake them in batches.

For the icing, you have two courses of action! Both begin with softening the butter and beating the icing sugar until super light and fluffy.
For the chocolate-chai version, add the spices and NOT the cocoa to the icing and mix. Spoon half into a piping bag and pipe into the center of HALF of the cookies, on the not-so-pretty undersides. Don’t pipe right to the edges; that comes now. Add the cocoa to the rest of the icing and pipe the chocolate-chai around the edges, being pretty if you like. Now top with another cookie to complete the sandwich.
For the Belgium biscuit version, divide the icing in half. Add the vanilla to one half and the pink food colouring (tinted to your desire) to the other half. Spoon each colour into a piping bag and on the bottom half of a cookie, pipe alternating dots of icing around the edge. Fill the centre with jam and sandwich another cookie on top.

Makes about 40 cookies all up, and they last well for a few days 🙂


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Have the most wonderful week everyone! 🙂 xx

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Pre-sandwich-ing!

Vegan Chocolate Orange Donuts

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Is it just me or are donuts becoming ever more accessible in the kitchen these days? I admit, these were made with a kitchen top donut-maker but even baked donuts are everywhere. Are they the latest cupcake….? Maybe!

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Either way, they are delicious, deep-fried or not. With butter and eggs or without!

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If any of you reading this are following me, I apologise for the lack of posts recently 🙂 I’ll be more onto it when uni starts again!

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Vegan Orange and Chocolate Donuts
Ingredients:
Donuts:
1 cup flour
2 Tbsp cocoa
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3 Tbsp plain oil
3 tsp vinegar
Juice of one orange
Roughly 120mls water
Icing:
1/2 cup icing sugar
2 tsp margerine
Juice of half an orange
Orange zest
Maybe a little extra water
Orange food colouring (optional)
To decorate: Chocolate sprinkles
Instructions: If you are using the oven to bake these babies, preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius and grease your donut tin.

Mix together the flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder and baking soda. Make a well in the middle and pour in the oil, vinegar and orange juice. Pour in most of the water and mix well. If the mixture is still too thick to pour, add a little more water and mix again. Preheat your donut maker and pour the batter in, filling to the top. Alternately, fill up your donut tin holes and cook for about 10 minutes, until they spring back when touched lightly. Cool on a rack and make the icing: Chuck all the icing ingredients in a bowl except the food colouring and heat in the microwave for ten seconds. Mix, and if the butter isn’t melted, repeat. When smooth and spreadable, ice the top of the donuts and sprinkle with the chocolate hail/jimmies/sprinkles. Devour!

Makes about 12x5cm diameter donuts

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All the drips and drops of orange icing and sprinkles that managed to miss the donuts themselves…..!

Vegan and Raw Chocolate Fruit Mince Tarts

Raw ‘baking’, or more creating, could be easier than you think 🙂

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Also healthier, I’m sure I don’t need to go into the details of raw food and vegan baking. I can, however, tell you that it is delicious! 😀

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I know that Christmas, and therefore the season of fruit mince flavours, has passed but the chocolate-avocado  filling drags it into the rest of the year’s menu. Although, you can always swap the fruit mince for some medjool dates.

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Here is the recipe 🙂

Raw Fruit Mince and Chocolate Tarts
Ingredients:
Crusts:
1/2 cup dried fruit (I used fruit mince, make sure it’s raw 🙂 )
1/4 cup ground almonds
1/4 cup desiccated coconut
Pinch mixed spice/Chinese 5 spice
Filling:
1/3 cup avocado
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp cocoa
To decorate:
Pine nuts

Instructions:
For the crust, whizz up all the ingredients until you have a sticky, crumbly paste. Press into about 10 small cupcake tins and freeze until firm.

When firm, very carefully run a knife around the edges and release them from the mold.

Blend all the filling ingredients until smooth (you may want to adjust the honey for the sweetness) and spoon into the tart tins. Arrange some pine nuts on top and keep in the freezer until you want to serve them; just defrost for about ten minutes before eating.

Makes ten, and they can be made the day before 🙂

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Christmas Cake Bon Bons {AKA how to use up leftover Christmas Cake!}

A huge credit to Christmas cake: It lasts a lifetime. Almost. Which means very often one is left with a lifetime’s supply of Christmas cake after Christmas 🙂

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Dark (or any chocolate) is here to help you, with the aid of some white chocolate or royal icing. Truffles! That you can give away if you feel like it!
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I
 apologise for the inferior quality photos; they were about to be devoured 🙂

Christmas Cake Bon Bons
Ingredients:
Leftover Christmas Cake, in any quantity
Chocolate (about 75g grams per cup of cake)
Also, some white chocolate, dried cranberries or red and green gummy lollies etc

Instructions:
Melt your chocolate. Crumble in the Christmas cake, adding a bit at a time, and mix until well combined. If the mixture is not very thick and is quite glossy from the chocolate still, add a bit more cake.

Roll into tablespoon-sized balls and chill until firm.

Melt the white chocolate if using, and dollop a little bit on top of each bon bon (or use the royal icing instead if this is your preferred option). Cut up the dried fruit/lollies/whatever you are using and arrange on top. Leave to set.

Devour!

Lasts well in the fridge for even over a week.

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Luscious Chocolate Cheesecake

I laughed because when I looked at what I wrote about this cheesecake a few years ago, I said it was its own level on the food pyramid. It’s true.

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I liked it so much I even went to the effort of putting up a sheet to photograph it! I am sure you will love it too, especially if you are a lover of both chocolate AND cheesecake.

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This is my dad’s recipe and specialty 🙂

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The gingernuts in the base give a nice tangy contrast to the rich sweet filling, but I am sure you can switch them with another plain biscuit if you like.

Luscious Chocolate Cheesecake Recipe
Ingredients:
Base:
125g malt biscuits
125g gingernuts
100g butter
Filling:
250g dark chocolate
250g cream cheese
½ cup (100g) caster sugar
150mls cream
2 eggs

Instructions:

Line a 23cm diameter spring-form cake tin with tin foil.

Crush the biscuits until they resemble fine breadcrumbs. Melt the butter and mix with the biscuits until combined.  Press onto the bottom and the sides of the tin with a glass or your fingers. Refrigerate until set.

Melt the chocolate in a glass bowl over a pot of simmering water. Cool slightly. Beat together the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Set aside. Separate the eggs and whip the egg whites to soft peaks. Set aside. Whip the cream to soft peaks. Set aside. Beat the egg yolks slightly. Set aside. Beat the egg yolks into the cream cheese mixture. Slowly beat the chocolate in a bit at a time. Working quickly so the chocolate doesn’t melt, carefully fold in the egg whites, then the cream. Pour into the cake tin cover in tin foil. Refrigerate 4 hours until set.

Serves 20 (or 5 for 4 days……!) (well it really depends on how hungry you are. It’s pretty rich).

Lasts for about a week

Enjoy my lovelies!

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Orange Custard Parfaits

The name ‘parfait’ always makes me chuckle a bit because it means ‘perfect’ in French. So now every time I say “c’est parfait!”, I think of this:
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Anyway, it is now Autumn down in the Southern Hemisphere, for us in NZ. It certainly is beginning to feel like it! This dessert reminds me of it, the colours and the tastes (quite delicious by the way, although don’t go overboard with the orange zest on top or you won’t be able to taste other flavours).

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We had an Italian over for lunch (hence the Italian books in the background, we were showing him what we had always wanted to make and hadn’t), so I thought I would make something light and special for afterwards. It doesn’t take that long to make, I made it while he was stirring a delicious risotto in the kitchen!  I let people choose if they wanted white chocolate or dark chocolate on top, because we all have preferences…… haha I can imagine some of your rolling your eyes at that. Bakers are too often the victim of chocolate-debates, including ‘White chocolate isn’t real chocolate!’.

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But if they don’t like it, they don’t have to eat it.

Don’t be alarmed by the components in this recipe, it’s all small batches and you have no egg whites or yolks leftover!
Here is the recipe 🙂

Orange Custard Parfaits

Ingredients:
Meringues:
2 egg whites
¼ tsp cream of tartar
100g castor sugar
Custard:
400mls milk
Orange zest
100g sugar
2 eggs
55g cornflour
100ml fresh orange juice
To serve:
100mls whipping cream
Chopped white and dark chocolate
Orange zest

Instructions:
Start with the meringue! Line a baking tray and preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
In a super clean glass or metal bowl, whip the egg whites until bubbly, then add the cream of tartar. Whip faster, and add the sugar a bit at a time, whipping until glossy between each addition. When all the sugar is added, continue to whip until the mixture is thick and at stiff peak stage. Spoon onto the tray into about golfball sized blobs. TURN DOWN THE OVEN TEMPERATURE to 120 degrees Celsius and bake the meringues until crusty, about 30 minutes. Cool on the tray.
Meanwhile, make the custard. Heat the milk and the orange zest over low heat until boiling, and in another bowl, beat together the sugar, eggs and cornflour until thick and light/pale. When the milk has boiled, mix the milk slowly into the egg mixture until combined, then pour back into the saucepan and stir continuously over low heat. Be sure to scrape the bottom of the pan so that the custard doesn’t catch. When nice and thick, take off the heat and mix in the orange juice a bit at a time. Cool.
When ready to serve, whip the cream until soft peaks form. Pick out your serving bowls or glasses, between 6 and 8 of them. Start with spooning the custard into the bottom, then crumble over some meringue. Spoon over some cream, then top off with the chopped chocolate and a tad of orange zest. Done!

Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies

These cookies are from a while back, and from what I remember they were meant to look different… We all have those days where we imagine one thing and reality presents us another. Especially in the kitchen. All you need to do is forget to check if you have eggs and you will have drastic plan-changes.
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I digress (again)! If you are in New Zealand or Australia then you may be fond of the Mint Slice biscuits; a blissful combination of a chocolate cookie base, mint filling and dark chocolate coating. That is essentially what I have tried to do here, but with a peanut filling. It’s peanut butter cup-esque.
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If that sounds like your jam then I have the recipe for you! Give these a shot, they really aren’t that complicated and there is no special ingredients; just some love, time and chocolate. I packaged them up to give as gifts but learn from my mistake! If you do this, make sure they are stored in a cool place, not in your bag as you walk around school on a sunny day……

Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies
Ingredients:
Cookies:
120g cream cheese
100g butter, very soft
125g whole wheat flour
60g plain flour
60g cocoa
Filling:
40g cream cheese
40g peanut butter
40g icing sugar
Coating:
200g dark chocolate
10g butter

Instructions:
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Line or grease two baking trays.
Beat the cream cheese until smooth (I did this by hand) and creamy, then add the butter and continue beating until combined and the mixture is pale. Mix together the whole wheat flour, plain flour and cocoa, and add to the butter and cream cheese bit by bit, until a soft dough forms. Roll out on a floured surface until about 4mm thick, then cut out lots of little fluted circles (I actually used a mini tart tin to do this) and arrange on the baking trays. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the cookies move when nudged slightly. Careful, as because they are chocolate, you can’t tell if they get overcooked very easily! Cool on wire racks.
When ready to decorate, mix together the cream cheese, peanut butter and icing sugar, then spoon or pipe a little bit onto each cookie. Chill in the fridge on plates.
Spread out a greaseproof mat or line some plates with baking paper. Chop up the chocolate and melt, then mix in the butter. Using your fingers or dipping fork, dip each cookie (filling side down) into the chocolate, working quickly so that the filling doesn’t melt or slide off. Place the cookie on to the mat or plate and then repeat. Note that I did not actually cover the bottoms of the cookies with chocolate, and if you would like to do this then remember to melt more chocolate than I have listed (about 300g?)! Chill the cookies until the chocolate has hardened and then store in the fridge.
Makes 36 cookies.

Have a lovely week everyone! 😀

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Chocolate and Liquorice Allsort Birthday Cake

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I imagine my little 13-year-old self was quite pleased with this one, as was my grandfather; it was his birthday cake 🙂
There is nothing quite like a good cake, is there? And when celebration is necessary, cake comes with it hand in hand….birthday cake is probably my favorite thing to bake in the world anyway! I am sure you have fond memories of your own birthday cakes, or perhaps ones that you have made for ones you love.
Or perhaps you make cakes for a living, in which case, I both jealous and incredibly happy for you!
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This is just a nice chocolate cake with whipped chocolate ganache frosting, and than a brocade of liqourice allsorts for decoration; there is no liquorice flavour IN the cake (although I do have a recipe for that, which I am quite excited to try….!). You could easily make it with any other decorations on top, or just leave it plain. I have a photo of it without the candy below the recipe, in case you want to check it out.

Chocolate and Liquorice Allsort Birthday Cake

Cake:
170g butter
1/3 cup castor sugar
1&1/2 cups flour
1&1/2 tsp baking powder
3 Tbsp cocoa
Pinch of salt
3 eggs
1 Tbsp milk
Whipped chocolate ganache:
150g milk chocolate
3/4 cup cream
To decorate:
200g liquorice allsorts

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 180°C and grease two 20cm diameter cake tins.

Beat together the butter and sugar until smooth, then sift together the flour, salt and cocoa. Beat into the butter with the eggs. Combine until smooth. Add the milk if you think the batter is a bit thick. Divide the batter between the tins and smooth over. Bake for about 15 minutes, and until the cake springs back when lightly touched. Remove from the oven and cool for 5 minutes. Remove from tins and cool completely.

Melt the chocolate over a pot of simmering water. Turn off the heat and slowly mix in the cream. Leave until cool. Pour into the bowl of an electric mixer and whip high speed, or use a whisk or egg beaters. Beat until light and fluffy.

Level off the top of one of the cakes and spread a bit of icing. Then place the other cake on top. Spread the remaining icing over the cake. Arrange the liquorices allsorts over the cake. Store in an airtight container.

Lasts for  3 days

Makes 12 slices

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Enjoy your birthday cake endeavours, and the rest of your endeavours for that matter 🙂

Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies with Chocolate Frosting

It has been a very difficult week. It is times like these, however, when baking becomes more than just a task. It becomes a way to relax and think things through, and most importantly to ‘spread the love’ when times are tough.

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These cookies came from a time like this. Recently I discovered that someone very close and very special to me was now gone, It was tragic and unexpected.
Thus, it was straight to the kitchen to create whatever came to mind first; these cookies. A peanut butter cookie with creamy peanut filling and chocolate frosting. A hug, essentially, in edible form. You can use whatever peanut butter you have on hand (we only have extra crunchy) and go for it. They were a gift, and I always love making sandwich cookies to give as a present as they package beautifully.
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I hope you have a restful week!

Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies with Chocolate Filling
Ingredients:
100g butter, softened
80g crunchy peanut butter
50g brown sugar
50g white sugar
1 egg
250g flour

Peanut Butter Filling:
20g cream cheese
20g peanut butter
10g butter, softened
35g icing sugar

Chocolate Frosting:
75g butter
10g cocoa
150g icing sugar
Milk

Instructions:
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius and line or grease two cookie trays.
Cream the butter, peanut butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Mix in the egg, followed by the flour (one spoonful at a time) until a thick and smooth dough is formed. You may not have to add all of the flour, so don’t get too enthusiastic and add it all at once! I used electric beaters to mix the dough but had to finish it off by kneading it lightly. On a floured surface, roll out the dough to 4mm thick and cut into 5cm diameter rounds. Arrange on the baking trays and bake for about 15 minutes, until the cookies shift around the tray when pressed lightly. Mine didn’t turn out super golden, but they harden a lot as they cool, so were cooked properly in the end. Cool on wire racks.
For the peanut butter filling, mix the filling ingredients together until smooth. Pair up the cookies (you should have about 22 pairs). Place a scant teaspoonful of the filling in the centre of the underside of one cookie in each pair. Chill for 5 minutes. While chilling, make the frosting. Soften the butter and mix in the cocoa and icing sugar, with a bit of milk if needed until a thick and smooth consistency is achieved. It has to be soft enough to pipe however, you don’t want to have any disasters with a split piping bag! Fill a piping bag with a small (about 4mm) round tip with the frosting. Take the cookies out of the fridge and pipe the frosting around the peanut butter filling (I did mine in a spiral motion) then press the other half of each cookie pair on top and squish down firmly. Chill the cookies for about 10 minutes to set the frosting, then store in a cool place in an airtight container.
Makes 22 cookies