Sunday, 19 February 2012

Peanut Butter and Snickers Brownies and a Giveaway!



I decided to try yet another adaptation of my beloved best brownies in the whole wide world! And as I'm really into Snickers at the moment, I decided to pair it with peanut butter (naturally) and voila! - another great brownie. One thing I would do differently is chop up the Snickers into larger pieces as they disappeared in the baking process and people were surprised to learn that they contained any. I have recommended slicing them in the recipe below.

Speaking of baking (yup I know - as if we would be speaking of anything else on my BAKING blog ;p), I've got this great book 'Baking Bible' to give away. It is a great first baking book as it has recipes for EVERYTHING! From muffins to cakes and biscuits. It is a pretty hefty book too! Here is an excerpt from the Amazon blurb:
"There's a special joy that comes from creating home-baked treats. And there's nothing quite so satisfying as sharing them, fresh from the oven, with your friends and loved ones ... Boasting more than 470 recipes and 200 gorgeous colour photographs, it provides an outstanding resource for any kitchen. 'Baking Bible' has a recipe for every cake, pudding, tart, pie, slice and muffin you'll ever want to cook. There are loads of old-fashioned favourites, as well as plenty of inspired new ideas. Whether it's rich chocolate rum cake for a family birthday party, moist apricot and almond muffins for a weekend morning tea, sun-dried tomato and cheese slice for a lunchbox snack, or butterscotch date biscuits for the school fete, there's something here for every occasion"

For details of how to enter, see below the recipe. Good luck!

Ingredients
300g dark chocolate (At least 70% cocoa solids)
250g unsalted butter
4 x regular (58g) bars of Snickers, each bar sliced not too thinly, not too chunkily
175g plain flour
1tsp baking powder
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla essence
325g caster sugar
1 tablespoon instant coffee granules
3 tablespoons smooth peanut butter (I only had crunchy at home as you can probably tell in the photos)

Here's how NOT to chop up your Snickers
  1. Preheat oven to 170C/325F/Gas Mark 3
  2. Grease and flour a 30x20cm baking tin
  3. Break the dark chocolate into pieces and melt with the butter in a bain marie
  4.  Combine the flour and baking powder in a bowl and set aside
  5. When chocolate and butter is melted, remove from bain marie and stir in sugar and instant coffee granules
  6. Stir in the eggs and vanilla essence
  7. Fold in the flour
  8. Lastly, fold in the Snickers pieces, give it one turn and pour mixture into the prepared tin. Do not stir too much as you don't want the chocolate to melt
  9. Put your peanut butter in a microwaveable bowl and heat in the microwave for 30 seconds or until it  is soft and easy to stir. Using a spoon, drop dollops of peanut butter randomly on your brownie mixture until all the peanut butter is gone
  10. Using a table knife, drag it lightly across the surface of your brownie batter marbling the peanut butter in with the brownie mixture
  11. Bake in the oven for 25 - 35 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out pretty much clean
  12. Allow to cool in the tin and then cut into squares


I'm giving away a copy of 'Baking Bible'. There is one mandatory way to enter and additional ways to gain entries into the giveaway (Tip: Each comment only counts as one entry so you're giving yourself more chances if you leave a different comment for each entry e.g. Answer the question in one comment. Tell me you're following me in a different comment etc)

CLOSING DATE - Midnight on FRIDAY 24TH FEBRUARY

Rules and How to Enter

  • The giveaway is open to everyone with a UK mailing address
  • For the mandatory way to enter, leave a comment telling me something you would like to bake
  • For another entry, follow my blog using the Google Friend Connect 'Follow' button on the right of my blog. Leave a separate comment to tell me you have done this or that you're already following my blog
  • For yet another entry, follow me on Twitter @vickii373 and leave a comment here to tell me you're following me on Twitter and your user name. Also leave me a comment if you're already following me on Twitter.

Good luck!

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Snickerdoodle Cupcakes with Marshmallow Frosting


The two things I love trying new recipes for are cupcakes and layer cakes. Because there are so many out there! Chocolate and bacon is pretty popular amongst American bloggers these days and I recently saw a recipe for a cupcake topped with fried chicken. I kid you not! While I'm not going that experimental just yet - 'just yet' being the operative phrase seeing as there is a Nigella bacon and chocolate brownie recipe sitting in my pile just waiting to be tested - I thought I'd make something a bit different for my next cupcake.

For those of us that aren't American and have no idea what a Snickerdoodle is - nope, it's nothing to do with drawing or Snickers bars - I found this definition online to help us along: "Snickerdoodles are an old fashioned cookie that have a sugar cinnamon coating and a sweet and buttery flavour"!

See how helpful that was? Whatever did we do before the Internet?!

These are a light, cinnamon flavoured cupcake topped with marshmallow frosting so the entire thing is lighter, less sweet and less cloying than your average cupcake. They're also a nice, easy cupcake to make, which I have to be honest, was the deciding vote when I was considering which new recipe to try. Some of the recipes out there look I-N-C-R-E-D-I-B-L-E but boy oh boy, they've got an ingredient list longer than ... well, something really long!

This recipe is adapted very slightly from my amazing Martha Stewart's Cupcakes book and the marshmallow frosting is from Marthastewart.com . Photos are courtesy of the amazing Onada.


Makes: 28

Ingredients

Cake
3 cups plain flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon, plus 1/2 teaspoon for dusting
227g unsalted butter, room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for dusting
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups milk

Frosting
8 large egg whites
2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Cake
1 - Preheat oven to 180C / Gas Mark 4 / 350F. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Combine together both flours, baking powder, salt and 1 tablespoon cinnamon.
2 - With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of milk, and beating until combined after each.
3 - Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester/toothpick inserted in centres comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Cupcakes can be stored up to 2 days at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.
Frosting
4 - Place egg whites, sugar and cream of tarter in the heatproof bowl of an electric mixer. Set over a saucepan with simmering water. Whisk constantly until sugar is dissolved and whites are warm to the touch, 3 - 4 minutes.
5 - Transfer bowl to electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and beat, starting on low speed, gradually increasing to high, until stiff, glossy peaks
6 - To finish, combine remaining 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 2 tablespoons sugar. Using a pastry bag fitted with a large plain tip, pipe frosting on each cupcake. Hold bag over cupcake with tip just above top, and squeeze to create a dome of frosting, then release pressure and pull up to form a peak. Using a small, fine sieve, dust peaks with cinnamon sugar