Tuesday, 27 October 2009

RECIPE: Black Forest Muffins!

I have been learning to cook for about a year now, and, though my hob-top skills leave a little to be desired, I do love to bake cakes and biscuits. I've started to experiment with my own recipes now, and when Geek-Features requested a Black Forest gateau, I decided to do something a little different. I broke from tradition and made Black Forest muffins instead!

If you would like to try them yourselves, here is my recipe:

Black Forest Muffins (Makes 12)

225g/8oz Plain White Flour
55g/2oz Cocoa Powder
1 tbsp Baking Powder
Pinch of Salt
115g/4oz Caster Sugar
200g/7oz Dark Chocolate, roughly chopped
200g/7oz Morello Cherries, frozen or fresh
2 Medium Eggs
250ml/9fl oz Milk
6 tbsp Sunflower Oil
Oil/Butter for greasing or 12 Muffin Cases

85g/3oz Butter, softened
175g/6oz Icing Sugar
1/2 tsp Vanilla Essence
Dark Chocolate, grated

1. Preheat oven to 200'C/400'F. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin or line with paper cases.

2. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking powder into a large bowl. Stir in the sugar, dark chocolate chunks and cherries.

3. Lightly beat the eggs in another bowl, then beat in the milk and oil.

4. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the beaten liquid ingredients. This is why you needed a large bowl, there are a lot of chocolate chunks and cherries in there!

5. Stir gently until they are just combined, don't over-mix.

6. Spoon the mixture into the muffin tin. Bake in the oven for approximately 20 minutes, until well risen and firm to the touch, and a skewer inserted into a muffin comes out clean (well, clean apart from gooey melted chocolate!).

7. Leave the muffins to cool on a wire rack, resist temptation to scoff one down immediately.

8. Make the buttercream topping by beating together the softened butter, vanilla essence and icing sugar in a bowl until creamy and stiff. Spoon or pipe the buttercream onto the fully cooled muffins.

9. Sprinkle grated dark chocolate over the tops and consume!


I chose to use buttercream instead of fresh cream as the topping so that it keeps for a little longer, there just being the two of us, and because I adore buttercream. If the muffins are going to be eaten quickly then fresh whipped cream would work just as well. I am quite proud of these muffins, they are so very tasty!

Here are a couple more photos taken during the cooking process. I am not the best photographer and I tend to bake at night time when I need the flash, but I hope that you enjoy them.

Monday, 26 October 2009

REVIEW: Ben & Jerry's Vanilla Toffee Crunch Ice Cream

Ben & Jerry's make my favourite ice creams, but it is usually quite expensive. ASDA had the tubs on offer at 2 for £5 so I treated myself to this Vanilla Toffee Crunch and the amazing Half Baked (which I ate too quickly to review!).

Vanilla Toffee Crunch was one of the B&J flavours available at the moment that I hadn't tried before. The blurb of "Vanilla Ice Cream with Chocolatey-Covered Toffee Crunch" made it sound a bit boring compared to the usual mish-mash of ingredients. What ingredients they do use are Fair Trade.

The vanilla ice cream is fantastic, rich and creamy, and leaves your mouth feeling clean and refreshed after swallowing. The toffee crunch pieces are large (some up to an inch square) chunks of Dime or Heath bar. Some are solid slabs while others are small pieces clustered together. They are very hard and sticky, and I was worried about losing fillings while chewing them. The dark 'chocolatey' (by that term I assume that it was mockolate) covering had a waxy feel on the tongue and a lingering, burnt bitterness that I found unpleasant. Looking on the list of ingredients I see that coffee is listed, which could account for this. The toffee crunch pieces were layered in the top half of the tub, with the bottom 3 inches being plain vanilla with the occasional crumb, but perhaps I just got an unmixed batch.

You can probably tell that I wasn't a fan of this ice cream. The vanilla ice cream itself was very, very good, but the bitter flavour of the toffee crunch pieces made me want to quickly cleanse my palate with more vanilla ice cream after each piece. With this being quite a plain Ben & Jerry's ice cream the ingredients needed to be outstanding, sadly they only got the vanilla right.

I won't be buying this particular flavour again, but I will be looking to try another Ben & Jerry's ice cream with this lovely vanilla base.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

The beginning of an era?

Hello blogworld!

This is my first attempt at a regular blog. I am not yet sure what I will write about, probably a bit of all the things that I love before settling on one or two things.

My current passions are:
  • Food, especially chocolate and baking cakes!
  • Learning about Japan (like many people, I wonder what the magical pull of this country is).
  • My two cats, a Maine Coon and a Siamese.
  • Reading, I am currently re-reading Forever Amber by Kathleen Winsor. I like to learn about history from a woman's perspective.
  • Nintendo games for the Wii and DS, Cooking Mama is my guilty pleasure.
  • Discovering new blogs to enjoy.
  • Reiki, spirituality and alternative therapies.
I hope to meet some interesting new friends in the blogosphere, please stop by and say hello!