Monday, 18 June 2012

Chocolate and peanut butter biscuit cake {recipe}

I have a confession to make.  I am not very good at following instructions when it comes to baking requests.  Every time I ask my husband what type of cake he would like he requests what I like to call boring old chocolate cake (let's call it BOCC for the rest of this post shall we?).  He loves BOCC.  No bells and whistles.  The recipe for this cake comes from the Women's Weekly kid's birthday cake book.  Plain chocolate cake made with cocoa, and his favourite icing to have with said BOCC is boring old chocolate buttercream.  Not a fabulous icing made with fabulous chocolate, melted and whipped with love.  Just boring old buttercream made with boring old cocoa.  

I always end up denying him of his dream and making something much more interesting, and yet he still continues to request BOCC.  This year he asked for BOCC with peanut butter icing.  A slightly more interesting take, and I decided to honour his request.  Sort of.  I WAS only going to make one modification.  I knew that peanut butter chocolate chips existed and decided to take a trip to USA Foods to buy some.  Alas they didn't have any in stock.  I spied some Nutter Butters.  

Nutter Butters are peanut butter sandwich cookies from the US.  Hmmmm.  Crushed up cookies in the BOCC was a great idea!  Cookies were bought and preparations were made to bake this BOCC with a twist.  

Incidentally, if you are looking for a good BOCC, look no further than the Women's Weekly recipe.  It is dead easy to make so it's a good one for baking with the kids, it's not delicate and it is good for carving in to shapes.  It is nice and moist and isn't too dense.  I actually quite like it!  

You basically just throw flour, cocoa, butter, vanilla, caster sugar, eggs and water into a bowl.  

Oh.  I remember.  I cheated again.  I decided to use premium cocoa instead of boring old cocoa.  Look at this stuff.  How could you not want to use it in every recipe that calls for cocoa?

It has such a beautiful colour and the aroma is to die for.  I get off on shoving my nose in the bag.  The one I am using at the moment is from The Essential Ingredient.  

It is $15 for 500g and I think it is well worth the cost.  It really takes the chocolate flavour of cakes to the next level.  Heaven!  

Anyway, back to the BOCC.  Once everything is in the bowl of your mixer, beat it on medium speed until is is well combined and paler in colour, about three minutes.  Prepare the pan of your choice (we used an eight inch round pan) by greasing and lining it with baking paper.  Here is my eager baking assistant preparing our pan.  

Before pouring the mixture into the pan we broke up six Nutter Butters and put them in the base of the pan.

We also broke up six more Nutter Butters and folded them in to the cake mixture, just for good measure.

Pour the mixture into the pan and bake in a moderate oven until cake is cooked, which in our case was 40 minutes.  

As you can see in the photo, our cake cracked on the surface.  This happens when the oven is too hot and the surface of the cake cooks before the mixture has had a chance to rise.  I kinda like how it looks with this cake though!  It reminds me of a big brownie. Normally I would take the top off the cake to make it level but this looked so appealing that I decided to keep it.  Imagine peanut butter frosting falling in to those crevices - yum!    

Now on to the icing.  You might remember the peanut butter filling from my dark chocolate peanut butter cake.  We halved that recipe and used it to top this BOCC with a twist, and it suddenly ceased to be BOCC but a very appealing looking cake.  It was a bit late in the day when we made our cake and it hadn't had a chance to cool properly before we iced it and ate it, but you know what? Warm cake with peanut butter icing, melting in to those fabulous looking cracks? Don't mind if I do!  

You can't see it, but the icing was bordering on melting on top of the still warm cake.  Yum!

Of course Elloy needed help blowing out his candles.  :-)

Not bad at all for a BOCC.  :-)

{Rich Chocolate Cake}
recipe from The Australian Women's Weekly

1 1/3 cups self raising flour
1/2 cup cocoa
125g unsalted butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups caster sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
2/3 cup water

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.  Grease and line your chosen pan.  

Sift flour and cocoa into a medium bowl (I've recently quit sifting but go right ahead if you must!).

Add remaining ingredients and beat on low until combined.  Increase the speed to medium and beat until well combined and paler in colour, approximately three minutes (less if you are using a Kitchenaid). 

If you are going to add biscuits to your cake, now is the time to do it.  We chose to put some on the base of the pan and mix some more in to the batter.   

Put mixture in to a pan and use a palette knife to spread to the sides. 

Bake until cooked.  Stand in the pan for ten minutes before turning out to cool.  

If you want to top the cake with peanut butter frosting you can get the recipe here.

Susie xx

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Out of this freaking world peanut butter chocolate chip cookies {recipe}

Stop whatever you are doing.  Stop now.  Get thee to a supermarket, buy the ingredients for these cookies, go home and make them.  It is a must.  They are simply that good.  I know there are a few very strange people out there who claim that they dislike the combo of peanut butter and chocolate.  They are weird and I am going to pretend for the rest of this post that they don't exist.

As most of you will know my husband is a freak for peanut butter.  He adores it, as do my children.  We go through two jars of the stuff a week.  Peanut butter on toast, peanut butter on crumpets, peanut butter on fruit toast, peanut butter on a spoon, the list goes on and on and on.  I like the it, but it is not my be all and end all.  Unless of course you combine it with chocolate, and then it is my place to be.

So you can imagine my glee when my husband requested peanut butter and chocolate baked goods to celebrate what he calls his birthday week.  I scoured the internet looking for inspiration, and inspiration I found in the form of cookies.  There were so many recipes to choose from, but the ones by How Sweet It Is ticked all of the right boxes for me.  Everyone has their cookie criteria.  Thin or thick.  Soft, hard or chewy.  Full of choc chips or just a smattering.  I am a thick, soft, full kinda girl.  I do like a chewy cookie too, but I think of Anzacs when I think chewy.  Choc chip cookies say soft to me.  These said thick, soft, full to me.  And they had peanut butter within their thick, soft, fullness.  Ingredients were bought, and then Will and I set to work.

We melted the peanut butter and butter together and set it aside to cool.  We combined the flour and the bicarb soda.  We added the sugar to the butter mixture, and then added the eggs to this mixture.  We gradually added the flour to this lovely brown combination, and then stirred in the choc chips.  Small balls of the dough were placed on a baking sheet, and they were cooked for ten minutes.

When they came out of the oven I was quite confident that we had discovered greatness.  They looked like hero cookies.  The recipe called for a period of cooling.  Will and I struggled to comply with this direction.  We felt compelled to try one while it was still warm and oozing chocolate from its inner core.  And my oh my were we glad that we did.  My boxes had indeed been ticked.

Suffice is to say that these cookies will be made again in this house.  And again.  And again.  And again.

{Peanut butter chocolate chip cookies}
adapted from How Sweet It Is
Makes 24+ cookies

2 cups plain flour
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
115g salted butter
85g smooth peanut butter
1 cup brown sugar, loosely packed
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg and 1 egg yolk, room temperature and lightly beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 - 1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 165 degrees C.  Line two baking sheets with baking paper.

Melt the butter and peanut butter together in the microwave in fifteen second bursts until it is combined.  Set aside to completely cool.

Combine flour and bicarb soda.

Once butter mixture is completely cool, add sugars and combine.  Add eggs and vanilla to this mixture.  Once combined, gradually add flour to form a dough.  Add chocolate chips to the dough and combine.

Place small balls of dough on a baking sheet, far enough apart to let them spread while baking, and place them in the oven for 10-12 minutes.  They should come out of the oven when they are ever so slightly brown.  They will still be quite soft at this point but will firm up upon cooling.

Cool, then eat!  Or maybe you could skip the cooling part and go straight to the eating part.  Your choice!

A few notes about this recipe ~

I know I always bang on about it, but your cookies will be drastically improved if you can get your hands on some good quality vanilla extract.  Don't use essence.  It just doesn't cut it.

It is really important that you let the butter mixture cool properly or the biscuits won't be the successful pillows of goodness that they should.  Shove it in the fridge to speed up the process if you must, but make sure you don't then let it chill.

I did try to get my hands on some American peanut butter for this recipe but was unsuccessful, so good old Kraft it was.  I would like to try it with the American stuff some time soon.  I'll keep you posted as to how they turn out.  We used smooth PB for our cookies, but I think crunchy would be great too.  Give it a try!

I never thought I would hear myself say this, but I think one and a half cups of choc chips was a little excessive.  Next time we make them we will go for one cup.  If your preference is for an overload of choc chips then one and half cups it is.

Susie xx

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

DIY cake stands, Ikea style

I love Ikea.  I could go there every day.  I was so happy when a new Ikea appeared around the corner from my home.  Finally I could go there without having to pack a lunch.  Luckily for me my kids love it too.  They love to test out the furniture, and to help me to find things in the self-serve area, and the anticipation of a shopping trip that ends in a $1 hot dog means that they, and my husband, are happy to go there any time.

The last few times I have been to Ikea I have remembered online tutorials I have seen about how to make your own cake stand with a candlestick and a plate.  Check out this one here by The Sweet Adventures of Sugarbelle for a great example of what I mean. 

Today when I visited the blue and gold Springvale landmark I had planned on acquiring some of these candlesticks and plates to make some cake stands of my own.  We have been renovating and I have some more cupboard space now.  What should I fill these cupboards with? Cake paraphernalia of course!!!

Upon entering the Market Hall I spied some really beautiful and really cheap coloured glasses and wondered whether they would work as a base for a cake stand.

I had a play around with some matching plates and decided to give it a whirl.  I love the combination of teal, pink and off white.  It took me a while, but I decided on these colours for my stands.

Making the cake stands is really quite simple.  After you have selected your plates and glasses you need to plug in your hot glue gun, or in my case you need to plug in Ang's hot glue gun.  Writing this post has reminded me that I borrowed her gun months ago and haven't returned it.  Sorry Ang!

While you are waiting for the glue gun to heat up, get yourself a piece of sandpaper and rough up the parts of the glasses and plates that will be touching to create a rough surface area for the glue to bond with.  We all love a bonding session don't we?

Place the plate that matches your glass upside down on a flat surface.  Now that your glue gun is hot, quickly run a bead of glue around the edge of the underside of the glass, where you have sanded it back.  Let's all pause now to check out my lame action shot.

You need to work quickly when doing this as the glue doesn't take very long to set.  I mean with lightning speed.  As soon as you have put on your glue, turn the glass upside down (which is really the right way up.  Confusing, no?) and stick it on the plate, being extra careful to have it centred.  There are no second chances with this so make sure you are confident!  

Now leave the cake stand to dry for a while.  It doesn't take long at all, in fact I was really impatient and turned them around pretty much immediately with no problems.

I just love my cake stands, and now that I have started I feel like the possibilities are endless!

The best part about these cake stands - they cost me a combined total of $22!  

Susie xx