Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Vegan Coconut Cream Chia Seed Pudding + Recipe

I'm on my vacation from work now, and my sleep cycle is completely out of sync. I've had runs of two to three days of sleeplessness followed by a full day of sleeping. I put it down to the fact that I'm barely challenging my brain, and been moving at sloth-like pace when I can actually bring myself to move.

I had to meet a friend this evening, however I know his schedule is constantly moving, so I gave myself a 30-minute buffer and wandered around the shopping centre at Liljehomen. Weeeell, this was a ruse; I actually wanted to go into the larger ICA there for as I genuinely enjoy strolling through big supermarkets. When I first moved to Stockholm, I had to pass the centre on my commute to work so was a little bit spoiled by the choice - NOT the price - that was there. If I'd known I would never live near a supermarket like that again, I'd have probably indulged in the wider variety that was there more often.

Today, wandering round wasn't as exciting as I wanted it to be, but I did manage to pick up some Taylor & Jones  sausages, a nice self-serve salad, a small frying pan, and some chia seeds. I was in disbelief that my small basket cost me nearly 500 SEK, and actually became one of those customers I used to roll my eyes at in my own supermarket cashier days, and scrutinised the receipt visibly in front of the cashier before I shuffled off. Horrifying.

By the time I got home it was quite late, and although it would probably be better in the long run, I thought it would be weird to go to bed after only being up for five hours. Which is why I am writing this now.

While I'm waiting for a 'decent' time to sleep, I decided to make a gluten free coconut chia seed pudding I'd seen on Pinterest. It called for sweetened coconut so I was desperately searching for my coconut flakes to sugar up, only to realise I'd used them for the Coconut Maple Bites a couple of weeks ago. Fortunately, my compulsive grocery purchasing often means I buy ingredients that I have plans for, I then forget what plans they are yet the ingredients remain; however this meant I was certain that I had a bag of dessicated coconut somewhere, which I was able to locate fairly easily.

I sweetened the coconut in a simple sugar syrup that I gently boiled over the stove, then added it to the coconut cream and milk mixture that I had. The recipe calls for coconut milk, however I only had a can of coconut cream, so I added ordinary milk to thin it out (this version wasn't quite vegan, but it is lactose free!).

I changed the ratios of sweetened coconut and honey as I prefer a sweeter taste; after a quick taste of the mixture, I felt it was nice, but it still needed something. That something, ladies and gentlemen, was sea salt. I crumbled some over it, mixed it in, and my goodness... It was elevated!

Groupie Selfie!

It's currently setting in the refrigerator, but I'll update once it's done. Cannot wait!

All done, topped with some frozen blueberries
quickly defrosted under the cold tap

This was a fairly full teacup portion, and I would actually recommend a marginally smaller serving, especially if you use coconut cream as the dessert is surprisingly filling.

Here's the recipe, heavily adapted from Eazy Peazy Mealz

Vegan Coconut Cream Chia Seed Pudding

Time: 10 minutes preparation + minimum 6 hours chilling time
Yield: Serves 4
Storage: in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days


  • 3/4 cup sweetened coconut*
  • 400-500 ml coconut cream (substitute some or all coconut milk for a lower fat version)
  • 1-3 tbsp runny honey
  • 4 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract (can be substituted for equivalent of vanilla alternative)
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • Fresh and/or dried fruit and nuts to top when serving


  1. If you have to sweeten the coconut*, start that off while you get on with step 2
  2. If using coconut cream, mix it in a medium size tub to ensure any coconut water is reabsorbed by the solid cream, and you have a smooth consistency. I recommend topping up a 400 ml can of coconut cream with 100 ml of coconut milk, however if you're not using coconut cream, 400 ml of coconut milk is fine.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients except the honey and salt, and mix thoroughly
  4. Add the honey, one tablespoon at a time, testing after each addition until it suits your taste
  5. Crush a small pinchful of salt between your fingers over the mixture. Mix, taste, and adjust, if necessary.
  6. Give it a final mix. If desired, separate into individual portions and cover with clingfilm - or simply cover the tub - and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight.
  7. When serving, give it a quick stir, and if desired, top with dried or fresh fruit, and or nuts
Serving suggestion: top with Berry Fruit Sauce
*see post to see how to sweeten coconut

Sweetened Coconut Recipe

I haven't ever bought sweetened coconut, and I'm not even sure if it is widely available in Stockholm, or indeed London. I do remember avoiding a Nigella Lawson recipe after it called for shredded coconut (not sure if it needed to be sweetened), as I couldn't find it back in London. Or perhaps I didn't look. Who knows?!

Anyhoo, when I made coconut macaroons a while back, I needed sweetened coconut flakes, and as I had specifically bought coconut flakes, I was unwilling to find and buy new ingredients, so found out how to sweeten coconut myself. I misread the recipe, but the ratio is simple to remember for the future...

Sweetened Coconut Flakes or Shreds

Time: 10 minutes (+ optional 30-60 minutes drying time)
Yield: Ratios specified below yield 1 cup coconut
Storage: keep in an airtight container out of direct sunlight for up to 1 week.


  • 1 cup dry natural coconut flakes or dessicated coconut
  • 4 tbsp water
  • 4 tsp sugar


  1. Heat the water and sugar in a small saucepan on medium high heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Once the sugar dissolves, wait until the simple syrup comes to the boil.
  2. Turn the heat off and remove the saucepan from the hot hob on to a heat resistant surface (e.g. a trivet).
  3. Add the dried coconut and stir until the syrup is absorbed evenly and all the coconut is moistened.
  4. If you can use them moist (e.g. you are adding the sweetened coconut to a wet  mixture, use them straightaway; otherwise, spread the sweetened pieces out on a baking tray or some baking paper to dry for at least an hour.

You can store them for two weeks in an airtight container in a cool, dark area.

Did you spot the ratio?
If you consider 1 cup to be 4 x 1/4 cups, you have a 4 tsp: 4 tbsp: 4 x 1/4 cup of sugar: water: dried coconut.
That's how I remember it anyhow! Knowing this, you can adjust how much sweetened coconut you make accordingly!

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Pope Cheesecake: Chocolate Pecan Toffee Cheesecake with Raspberry Sauce

This is a continuation of the Customised Bake Trial that I am sincerely glad I did as I now know the extent of inaccuracy that recipes can have or knowledge level they expect.

This time, I made my own caramel butterscotch sauce with a method that seemed to work, added the pecans in afterwards, then poured it on the base, and placed it in the fridge to cool. Mistake. The lovely oozy caramel hardened into a near impenetrable toffee. I really must research this caramel umbrella practically to fully understand this.

Pecan Caramel
Anyway, in a desperate bid to save my springform from hacking machetes, I baked the base with the toffee layer for 20 minutes to soften it before the cheesecake mix went in.

One of the comments from the client was that it was dense. Although a very kind offer was extended for me to stay and join my colleague client, I opted out, thinking I would come home and snoozeafter not sleeping all night. That didn't happen. It seems I can survive on a half-hour disco nap.

Chocolate Cheesecake Mixture

Back to the matter in hand... the denseness. This may have been due having 100g less of cream cheese than what was required. I may amend that sentence... in my crazed sleep-deprived brain it seems wrong. I adjusted the mixture on the fly, reducing the sugar, chocolate, and egg content, to compensate, but that may well have been the reason. I have tweaked my method, so I got a much better finish on the cream cheese mixture than on the first attempt.


I was able to procure frozen raspberries easier than I thought I would, and the sauce was delicious. I was tempted to syphon some off for private usage, but decided I would make another batch as I still had more sauce.


Overall, I believe the review was good, and I was pleased with the cake... just a shame I didn't have enough cream cheese.

In honour of the client who designed this cheesecake, I will call this a Pope Cheesecake.

Saturday, 26 December 2015

Rice Pudding + Recipe

Rice pudding was one of desserts that I imagine brought tears to my mother's eyes when I first tried it. She knew that with my sweet tooth, and preference to soft textures that I would be undone.

I don't remember the specific time I first had it, probably school dinners, and I must have avoided that horrible gluey yet burnt bottom layer. I vaguely remember having a brief spat of making it for myself from scratch, but by then I must have developed the social consciousness that eating too many sweet things was not a good thing (seriously?!), so I imagine I somewhat kerbed that habit.

Sugar Photobomb (no sugar required)
There was a comeback when I went to university, and discovered that noone was judging my eating habits - out loud, at least - so I indulged in a can of Ambrosia Rice Pudding every three months or so... ok, ok, so it was probably more, but time is a healer, and I genuinely don't remember.

A-ny-way, I should have probably prefaced this post with the fact that I am a Bah Humbug at Christmas. For some reason, the trauma of my mood swinging adolescence yet immense pressure to 'be happy' has stamped a muddy Hunter boot in my mind's eye. So I don't celebrate.

This was my first year not spending Christmas in England, and seeing as I had made precisely zero plans here in Stockholm, I was quite content. Until the phone calls started. How did this happen?! I had wriggled out of Family Time and therefore I should be exempt from those calls, right?! No. Whilst it was every pleasure to catch up with friends I hadn't spoken to in a while, coupled with the messy nest I had created in my apartment - everywhere but the kitchen! - plus having actually forgotten to eat anything whatsoever, I could see the pathetic picture I was presenting to my friends. Pity was written painfully clearly across their faces. I would have that expression too, but I've been feeling a bit delirious what with erratic sleeping times and a persistent migraine that were both plotting away at destroying any activity whatsoever... and I looked that way.

I love my semi-old-fashioned can opener.
It deserves a picture
Hmmm, I'm sure I will look back at this again during the summer and think what a loser I am being... then I'll read it again at Christmas and nod knowingly... "hello again... back here, are we?!'.

Anyway, enough! Food! This was a nutshell of a conversation I had today with a Danish friend who I mentioned my rice pudding hankerings to, and apparently, Rice Pudding, is a typical Christmas dessert in the Nordics. A Finnish friend had already 'pre-confirmed' this. Whilst my research consisted of just two individuals, I have decided I have licence to magnanimously paint Finland, Denmark, and Sweden with the same brush. It. Just. Works. It may apply in England too, but mince pies and Christmas pudding is what pops into my mind!

Boiling with milk and cinnamon sticks
I was dropping off an order to a colleague client, and after another sleepless night - literally! - I thought I'd come home and crash on the sofa. Unfortunately I have been on my sofa for a few days now, and the novelty has worn off. I had a pre-incepted idea of making rice pudding that occurred to me during one of my phone calls, so decided to put it into action. The friend who I was speaking to at the time was somewhat appalled that I couldn't bear the thought of standing up for 40 minutes to make it. "And you say, she likes baking??!?". Yes, I DO, but I feel that when I am the only benefactor of my cooking, it should not take long at all. Preferably less than 10 minutes, which includes waiting time; if a takeout meal would add more than that to my Work-to-Home time, I will not be getting takeout. My lack of patience for my own food is apparent, methinks.

That peach-y hue is from the Amarula
So where were we... YES! I'm bored. So I decided to make rice pudding. Good comforting food that I mistakenly believed to be healthy as it was rice. Plus I couldn't actually see the sugar as it was cleverly disguised as sweetened condensed milk, so let's all pretend we didn't add sugar. To be honest, this version is far less sugary and sweet than any shop-bought version I've tried, but the taste can be altered using salt, jam, honey, fruit sauces, caramel, you name it! The recipe gives you an awesome base, and it can be chilled for a cold dessert later, even frozen, and then reheated gently over the stove, or for the more microwave-savvy amongst us, in the zapper.

I had the end of a bottle of Amarula hanging around that was bothering me, so I slung it in... didn't hurt!

All done with my extra milk

Here we go... but not before a disclaimer! I am NOT claiming this is an original recipe. I just think this is how you make it.

Now all I need to do is find a recipe to use up the rest of the condensed milk...

Rice Pudding

Time: 40-50 minutes
Yield: serves 3-8 (depending on how refined your portions are)
Storage: store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days


2 cups water
1 cup rice (preferably pudding rice)
good pinch sea salt
2 cups milk
1/4 cup condensed milk
2 cinnamon sticks
1 tsp vanilla extract/paste or 1/2 tsp vanilla powder (not vanilla sugar)
2 tbsp Malibu/Amarula/Baileys, or similar


[NOTE: my stove range is from 1-12 heat ascending, and I will refer to the levels I used in square brackets]
  1. Boil the water in a medium saucepan on the stove [12]
  2. Add the rice and salt and bring to the boil. Once the water is boiling again, lower the heat to low [4]
  3. Cover the saucepan leaving a small gap between the lid and the saucepan (you can use a wooden spoon handle to prop it open). Cook the rice for around 20 minutes until the water has been absorbed.
  4. Add the milk and cinnamon to the rice, and bring the mixture to the boil over a medium-high heat [7]. Reduce the temperature to low [4], stirring occasionally and removing the milk skin as and when it forms.
  5. When the mixture has thickened and become creamy, stir in the condensed milk and vanilla extract.
  6. Cook at this temperature for 5-10 minutes (I went for 7 minutes, but it was ready after 5)
  7. OPTIONAL: add the alcohol and stir it in just before serving.
  8. Serve warm or chilled with your favourite seasoning or topping(s).
TIP: if the pudding will be eaten on the same day, however not immediately after cooking, place a damp paper kitchen towel on the surface of the pudding in the pan (OFF the stove) as it's cooling to prevent a milk skin forming.

I happen to like my rice pudding fairly thin, so I added more milk. 
Feel free to play around with it, use milk substitutes and sugars to make it vegan. There're no rules!

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Chocolate Chip Cookie Microwave Pudding + Recipe


So I'm evidently riding a bit of a sweet-craving wave at the moment, and felt backed into a corner. I had a decision to make. Make a microwave treat and relinquish the right to dismiss them ever again, or use one of my precious and so recently made Double Choco Fudge Cookies that were posing as Emergency Freezer Cookies? Choices, choices. I decided to save my energy and not fight against the force of The Microwave, thus surrendering what little dignity I had left.

If you don't mind raw yolk, the mixture is good enough to eat!
I didn't want the mighty chocolate-y overload of the Chocolate Surprise Microwave Brownie Cake, so whipped up this warm cookie-style pudding instead. I have to say I have a certain satisfaction of using my nice ingredients for me, but this recipe is way too good not to share. I didn't 'taste the microwave' on this at all, and trust me I was looking, or rather, tasting for it.

Out of the oven
The texture was spongey, and I probably overcooked it by 10 seconds, but it worked. I'm feeling good.
I do urge you to try this recipe, even if you are a hardened cynic like me... this is one recipe that might sway you!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Microwave Pudding

Time: 10 minutes
Yield: 1 serving in a large microwave safe mug that can hold 12 fl ozStorage: batter can be stored covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, pudding can be stored covered in the fridge for up to 2 days. Best for a few seconds before serving.


  • 1 tbsp butter or mild flavoured oil, such as rapeseed
  • 1 tbsp white sugar
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 3 drops vanilla extract (can be substituted for a pinch of vanillinpulver, or scant 1/4 teaspoon of vanillijnsocker)
  • 1 egg yolk (the white will not be used, so either reserve for up to 24 hours in an airtight container in the fridge or discard)
  • pinch of sea salt (or any salt!)
  • 1/4 cup baking flour (self-raising or plain are both fine)
  • 2 tbsp chocolate chips (any type)


  1. Melt the butter in your mug in the microwave (should take less than 50 seconds on Medium power if the butter is cold). If using oil, simply add it to your mug.
  2. Mix the sugars and vanilla into the butter/oil followed by the egg yolk and salt. Stir again.
  3. Add the flour, and mix thoroughly until combined.
  4. Add the chocolate chips, and stir to distribute.
  5. Heat in the microwave on Medium power for 40 seconds.
  6. Check the texture. Continue to heat in 10 second-intervals until you reach the consistency you like. I wanted a fairly firm pudding, so heated for 1.5 minutes.
  7. The chocolate retains heat, so eat with caution, it's hot!

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Cinnamon Sugar Donuts

Recipe base here. This was not the actual link I used, however I remember the one I did use say that Ina Garten was the delightful culprit, and it does look similar to what I remember.

Cinnamon is one of my preferred spices... in bread, however I find it rather banal in cakes and confectionery.

Trying to transport my memory back to that point in time, I remember that the donuts stuck to the pan more so than when I made the VanVan ones. Perhaps because of the temperature difference, perhaps because of the batter itself. 

They truly were beautiful

Anyhoo, any little bumps, cuts and bruises were cleverly disguised by the cinnamon sugar coating. I wanted to indulge my lazier side and just coat one side, but then decided that would be half-arsed, so coated both sides.

I was making these the same day as I was making Choco Donuts, so wasn't thrilled by the prospect of immediately cleaning donut tins - which is surprisingly tricky - so that they were ready for next use. For that reason, I made two trays' worth (12 donuts), and made muffins out of the remaining batter. Whilst the batter is not offensive when baked in muffin form, I find it a bit tougher than I would like, so this is purely a last resort.

Once I am certain of whether I will stay in Sweden, I will decide whether to invest in two more tins, as this will better suit the quantities I must make.

Available at Samara's Baked Goods

Maple Coconut Caramel Bites

Recipe base from Not Quite Nigella

Mrs NQN has many ideas and gives many inspirations. My one issue is that I feel that prior knowledge is required for a few recipes, and therefore vital pointers are omitted in the instructions.

I felt that this recipe was one such case.

I was so excited that I had all the ingredients and also an opportunity to use my new cooking thermometer, that I did not do my usual sense check when I was reading the recipe, so did not realise until the crucial moment that I did not know what the final tinder toffee, perhaps(?) was meant to be like either in appearance or texture.

Bubbling away
I ended up with a bit of a roue after adding the final ingredients that somehow devolved into a granular breadcrumb like mixture that in no way resembled caramel or toffee or indeed gel or liquid like.
Baked Caramel
I was not willing to go through this process of getting the syrup to 150°C again so grabbed the last of my homemade caramel from the fridge and my jar of Dulce de Leche and added enough to spread it over my tin, baked it for just under 10 minutes, and ended up with a chewy coconut-ty mess. I could see that this would never harden to be able to be broken into the signature brittle pieces, so I went through the sticky procedure of rolling clumps up into balls or bites.

Jar o' Poo? Sorry, maple coconut bites
I have since written to Lorraine of NQN, and I am hoping that she updates her instructions so I can try it again with more confidence!

Double Chocolate Fudge Cake Cookies

Recipe Base from Baker by Nature

I have some left over cream cheese that I want to use, and was certain I had saved a recipe on Pinterest that made some sort of black and white cookie that needed cream cheese. I had a look for it, but instead found a black and white cookie recipe that did not need cream cheese and a recipe for blueberry cheesecake cookies that I am figuring I confused in my mind.

In the oven. Magical
Although the black and white recipe seemed fairly simple, the ratios for both sides of the biscuit were not clear and I did not want to end up baking 70 biscuits.

I did a bit of browsing on my Biscuits, Cookies, and Pretzels board, and found an exciting recipe for quadruple chocolate pudding cookies, however the ingredients included cake mix that I did not have (and to be honest, would be reluctant to buy), so opted for this recipe base instead.

Hot Cake... Cookies!
The author is very particular about her methods but after a disaster attempt with coconut brittle this same day, I was grateful for her level of detail as it gave me the option to ignore or follow what I wanted to.

First Bite
The biscuits have a lovely cakey texture, and are so stuffed with chocolate and cocoa flavour that one is easily a dessert in its own right. I will be adding these to the store, post-haste!

Two bites!
Available at Samara's Baked Goods

Saturday, 12 December 2015

BluBlu Cheesecake

Recipe base from The Hummingbird Bakery Book.

One of the things that I really appreciate about living in Sweden, is the having the option to pick your own fruit in the beautiful forests.

I have determinedly partaking in this activity since I moved here, and whilst I am not as skilled as others at picking a huge quantity, I am nevertheless always excited to have enough to do something with other than through a bunch into yoghurt.

Fresh from the forest
Swedish blueberries are so beautiful: unlike the American varieties (that I believe are not technically blueberries, but a relative of them), they have as dark purple flesh as their skin.

Having been disappointed with my Blueberry Cake, I was reluctant to make another with my handpicked fruit, so went with a recipe base that I felt was more reliable: cheesecake.

The base cheesecake mixture was beautiful, and I must be sounding like a broken record where cheesecakes are concerned, as this was another mixture that I truly felt sad about baking.

In they go!
I had washed and frozen my blueberries on the day they were picked, and found that the water on them made them clump together slightly. Nothing too dramatic, but after a conversation with a colleague, I tried washing then air-drying the fruit overnight before freezing and this made a much 'looser' and easier-to-manipulate batch.

From the oven

I appreciate that the appearance is aesthetically pleasing as when you have the fruit and its sauce over the top, however I have never truly appreciated that style in terms of taste. Then again, I have only had shop bought versions, and I like very few mass-produced cheesecakes.

Available at Samara's Baked Goods

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Chocolate Pecan Pie Cheesecake with Berry Sauce - Customised Bake Trial

I am very excited about this cheesecake, especially as this is an original recipe for a bespoke order from my store.

My client and I went through my recipe books and settled on a chocolate cheesecake recipe from The Hummingbird Bakery book as a base, and incorporating nutty and fruity elements. We decided to try out a nut base with a raspberry sauce to drizzle over it.

I did some research into nut bases, and found a few gluten free options, but then I found a Pin that incorporated pecan pie and cheesecake.

Cocoa Biscuit Base Mixture

This gave me the idea to make a pecan pie filling to sit on the cocoa base, and top with the chocolate cheesecake.

The recipe seemed suspicious as it included eggs in a sugary-syrup pecan mixture with melted butter, and this potion was then expected to be boiled! With eggs in it!!! Outrageous. I was seriously torn whether to go with my instinct and omit the eggs, or to follow the rules. The jobsworth won this time. In my mind this was no win, as the mixture puffed up unexpectedly and when stirring it to calm it, I discovered the sugars had melted and burned to the bottom of the pan along with a substantial amount of pecans, and these offensive burnt bits were happily entering the good part like so many bad salmon.
I was in a dilemma again. Should I cut my losses, and make another batch, or was it *just* passable? Miss Thrift won that battle: I plugged on, and tapped into the hope that the predominantly sweet flavours will put up a spirited fight against the burned flavours. If it harms the taste, I will opt for a nut crust for the final product.

Then came the cheesecake mixture. Feeling somewhat deflated from the pecan pie filling fiasco, I wasn't as diligent as I should have been when incorporating the melted chocolate into the cream cheese mixture, and was left with some unattractive chocolate clumps floating about. Something to fix for next time.

Speckly Chessecake

I have finally bought a pan large enough to hold my springform tin for Bain Marie baking, and I made such a hoohah of getting that into the oven, that I disappointed myself. I remembered to wrap the tin in foil - eventually - however I may have been overzealous when filling the pan with water, and I'm worried that the water got into the springform... and my cake! I'll have to watch out for that when it's sliced.

Homemade Blueberry and Raspberry Sauce
The original plan was to make a raspberry sauce to drizzle over the top, and having become accustomed to a frozen 'pick and mix' selection of fruits in Swedish supermarkets, I didn't anticipate there not being any available. Ah, such arrogance. I had to improvise and buy a packet of raspberries mixed with blueberries. I made a simple sauce, and I will make sure I go to a larger supermarket and find frozen raspberries if the client doesn't like this trial.

Baked! What a lovely colour

The author of the pecan pie recipe said that her cheesecake developed a huge crack, and whilst I have not yet been afflicted by this, I made sure to cool the cheesecake in the oven with the door open for an hour to prevent it.

I will see how it cuts tomorrow at work, but I am actually feeling quite positive about this cake, despite the pecan pie filling mistake.

Cheesy Onion Donuts

Recipe base from The Kitchy Kitchen, link here

It's been a while since I made these so I'm going by my memory here.

I was thoroughly enjoying my donut adventure, and was quite intrigued by this recipe for savoury donuts I came across. I am trying to work out how I did, as it isn't on my Pinterest, but I imagine that app had something to do with it.

The flavours included in the recipe were sound: jalapeno, nice: green onion, good; cheese, jackpot!

I started to think something had gone awry when half of the cheese was left unaccounted for, and there were general grey areas in some parts of the method.

Not a spicy in the donut as I would have liked
I plugged through, and got as frustrated as I ever have been trying to make a suitable batter and then transferring it to the tins. Manage it I did, and everything was more or less ok... until I tried to remove them from the tins to cool completely. The cheese topping made this a real challenge, and as recommended by the recipe I returned them to the oven to melt the cheese further.

It was a massacre, cap'n!
This just resulted in 'plasticising' the cheese, into a texture that I didn't much appreciate.

I was quite annoyed at the whole exercise, and was ready to write it off... until I tasted the most mangled donut. It. Tasted. Amazing. The flavours were on point, and can even be ramped up a notch for more Oomph. The method just wasn't quite right, and I am sure a few personal flourishes were omitted, unknowingly confusing the instructions.

This definitely is a recipe I need to work on, as it has great potential.

Chocolate Surprise Microwave Brownie Cake + Recipe!

Ooooh, guess what?! No recipe base link this time, as this was my first, and very own original recipe.

I shall concede that the recipe follows the basic rules and ratios of any cake, so originality is a bit of a loose concept here.

So it was a Friday night after a long week. I reserve one guilty pleasure, which is: Friday Nights Off. No work, no guilt, just unadulterated freedom. Obviously that means Netflix and junk food. Small problem. I don't have any junk food outlets in my local area; at best I can get some sushi, which is undoubtedly delicious, but doesn't hit That Spot.

I haven't baked in a while, and this is purely a case of 'the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak'. Like most people in my profession at this time of year, I am dog tired, weary, and somewhat in shock that I am still able to function.

I was craving something sweet and naughty, and really did not feel like going through the rigmarole of baking a huge batch of something or a big cake just to feel so guilty about not presenting it more or less complete at work* and not have any of it. I decided that this was the moment. Hell was about to Freeze Over.

I have a problem with microwaves. Yes, they are a convenient and cost effective way of cooking and heating, but I can't help but feel the heat is half-arsed. The heat seems to leave the food as quickly as it enters it, and I have an embedded impression that if the microwave is allowed to give the food a big zap for more substantial heating, it somewhat 'denatures' ingredients, changes the taste, and consequently, the end result. I tend to limit my infrequent use of microwaves to heating complete food dishes that contain the carbohydrates such as rice and noodles (yes, last night's dinner... if there was a dinner last night).

I also have a distinct memory of wandering into an unintended and ill-advised discussion about 'microwave cakes vs. oven cakes' with a class, and somehow upsetting a student. Sorry! My personal gripe with microwaves is mine, and mine alone.

I must admit that I have become more curious about developing recipes for microwave cakes since I started Pinterest-ing a couple of months ago, and after making emergency freezer cookies for a friend's birthday, I wanted to make her a few sachets of microwave cake mixture so she could simply snip a corner and squeeze it into a mug then bake it in the microwave.

My interest was further piqued after I found microwave cake mixture being sold in my local supermarket. This actually made me rather indignant. I feel that the spirit of the microwave cake is to use ingredients that you are quite likely to have knocking about, and whip up an individual portion of cake that (in my opinion) wouldn't taste quite right after being baked by a microwave, but the satisfaction it provided would far outweigh the work it required to make and clean up afterwards. I didn't check too closely, but I imagine, like ready boxed cake mixture, it would taste generic, without personality, and processed. I am being completely elitist here. I have never used ready made cake mixture. I have an unshakeable belief that it is not thrifty.

Back to the present. Such was my immediate need of something sinful, that I decided that I needed to step over to the dark side, and make myself a microwave mug cake. I had a few rogue ingredients cluttering the fridge that were left over from other bakes, and had no use, so decided to chuck them in there too.

Hubba hubba

This whole event was a double surprise (for me), as I was not only using the microwave, but making a chocolate cake too, which readers of my blog may have realised is not my favourite flavour.

Not the best picture, but it's all full of chocolate-y-ness
Anyway, although I could still taste the 'microwave' flavour on the cake, it was actually quite yummy, and hit the spot. Just don't compare it to an oven cake. It is a different animal, this microwave cake.

Cakey texture at the bottom
*Ok, ok, I do have a sample of batches just for Quality Control purposes, but have had a very small proportion of my own baking, sometimes not tasting recipes entirely. For some reason, I view eating it myself as selfish. Now I write it, I see how ridiculous that it. I made the stuff; I should enjoy it!

Here's the recipe! I don't imagine I will make the same one twice, so please feel free to use this as a base, and have fun with your ingredients!

Chocolate Surprise Microwave Brownie Cake

Time: less than 6 minutes
Yield: 1 serving in a microwave safe mug that can hold 350 ml/12 oz volume
Storage: the batter can be refrigerated for a day, the microwaved cookie can be covered in its mug and kept in the fridge for 2 days. Heat on low for a few seconds before serving.


  • 1/4 cup self raising flour (plain is fine, just add 1/4 tsp of baking powder)
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp cream (some or all can be substituted for milk or non-dairy alternative)
  • 2-4 tbsp milk (some or all can be substituted for water or non-dairy alternative)
  • 2 tbsp mild flavoured oil such as rapeseed (can be substituted with liquid margarine)
  • OPTIONAL: 1 piece chocolate treat (e.g. a Rolo)
  • OPTIONAL: 1-2 tbsp chocolate chips + extra for topping (dark for vegan)
  • OPTIONAL: 1-2 tbsp caramel + extra for topping, any variety. Can be substituted with peanut butter or dairy-free alternative for vegans
  • OPTIONAL: 3 tbsp maximum whipped cream/dairy-free alternative for topping (spray cream or similar is fine)


  1.  Mix the dry ingredients in a small bowl using a small whisk or fork to remove lumps.
  2. Add the oil and cream, and mix to combine.
  3. Add 2 tbsp of milk and mix. You want a soft dropping texture that takes 3-4 seconds to drop from a spoon. Add 1 tbsp of milk at a time until you reach this point.
  4. Add a couple of spoonfuls into a microwaveable heatproof mug, then drop your chocolate treat in.
  5. Add more mixture until you have spooned about half of it into your mug.
  6. Add your caramel and chocolate chips so that they are evenly spread over the surface of the mixture.
  7. Spoon the rest of the mixture into the mug
  8. Heat on Medium power for 30-45 seconds at a time until you reach the texture that you want, and being mindful that you must avoid burning the chocolate. Maximum 3 minutes in four intervals. I used a smaller mug on the High heat setting, so had to stop heating it after 2 30-second intervals, as it was about to overflow. The texture at the top was just firmer than batter, but it was baked with a more cake-y texture at the bottom. Be aware of this, to avoid over-heating.
  9. I whipped some cream in a small bowl and spooned it over the mug cake, drizzled some caramel and sprinkled some chocolate chips on top. This was purely personal; again, have fun with it!
  10. This is very hot, so let cool for a minute, and eat with caution!
Note: If you just want to 'get on with it', and make a simpler cake, mix this directly into your mug, dry ingredients followed by the wet ones, mix thoroughly so it's combined, then add any or all the optional ingredients in afterwards (ensuring the chocolate treat is towards the bottom if you are using it), and only adding the whipped cream if you want to!

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Brownie Cake with Peanut Caramel Butterscotch

Recipe Base here from Jacquelyn Clark

Now as much as I am a huge fan of being frugal, I also appreciate that you must risk waste in order to discover greatness, so my inner scientist gets her chance to play quite a bit.

I have on countless times metaphorically shaken my fist at the sky when a recipe hasn't worked out, and 9 times out of 10, the recipe is from the Internet. This is not to say that all internet recipes do not work, they all work on some level, but they don't always meet my expectations.

Yesterday I had some friends come around for a donut party; I had some piecrust ideas of two evenings of baking beforehand so that my guests could decorate them using the left over glazes that were accumulating in my refrigerator, requiring precious Tupperware tubs. That of course didn't happen, considering that my day job has been especially busy over the past few weeks, and my motivation to do anything when I get home is very low.

I decided to compensate by making a 'base' cake so that there was something for my guests to eat whilst donuts were being made, and made an uncharacteristically non-cautious move to try a new recipe as my only option. Risk taker, that I am.

In the last few months, I have really been increasing my usage of Pinterest, I didn't really get the concept at first, and to be honest, I probably still don't, however it has proved to be a great source of recipes and ideas for me. Check out my Social Media buttons at the top right of this window to see my perception of the site. Constructive opinions always welcome of course!

Anyhoo, the picture of this recipe was far too much for me to resist, however as it has peanuts, it's a recipe I would avoid making as taking it to work where there are many people who have nut allergies would not be such a good idea.

The recipe worked well... I did add a 1/2 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda rather than 1/4, and the cake rose well in the oven, nearly to the top of my springform tin. This was far more than I thought it would seeing as it is a brownie cake, but not an unpleasant surprise.
No, no, that occurred after I took it out of the oven. It was all very sad. The cake sank in the middle, quite possibly a combination of the excess bicarb, or over beating when adding the dry ingredients.
I must admit that I am reluctant to blame myself as it is not my style to over beat... I have a knack for 'lagom' mixing, and as much as it is feasible as a principle, the amount of bicarbonate does not usually affect the rise unless it is in excess of a 1.5 teaspoons, so unfortunately, innocent or not, I am holding the ratios of the recipe responsible here. It doesn't help the recipes's case that the caramel timings were a bit off, but I can be more forgiving of that as I believe the person who made the recipe lives in a warmer climate than I do, so that is understandable.

Hey! The first time I can use a cake stand I received
over a year ago for my birthday

I haven't had an opportunity to taste the cake just yet, but I did taste the peanut caramel butterscotch, and was suitably impressed. Such a great combination. I just love caramel, in its many different forms: caramel, caramel sauce, butterscotch (yes, I have been researching, as the word 'caramel' is bandied about covering many different things with a similar taste and/or consistency, yet varying ingredients). Adding peanuts to pretty much any of these forms is a natural combination, and was a joy to be able to do it myself for once with no guilt or worries about striking someone down with an anaphylactic reaction.

I really need to buy a cake lifter so I can
protect my lovely tins
I am not completely writing this recipe off as a base, but I do have plenty of other sure-fire brownie recipes I could use. I will however always remember that peanut caramel butterscotch sauce, and have some ideas of how to tweak it... I guess I need to have some more guests over so I can test it out!

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Caramel Toffee Cheesecake

Recipe base here

Although I am a cheesecake novice, I HAD to try this from one of my favourite recipe blogs:

I love Yammie's style, It's effortlessly beautiful and her photos are inspiring. She embraces the 'nobbly', homemade look, yet her creations are ones you would pay top dollar for. Plus like my baking muse, Nigella Lawson, she doesn't shy away from using the ingredients that without, would compromise the flavour. I'm not used to using cup measurements, but I bought a fun set of cups that I am only hoping are the same size as their American counterparts - it's all about ratio, anyway - and I just convert the butter measurement into grams so I can use my scales.

This was a recipe that had a five components: the toffee biscuity base, melted chocolate topping for said base, the cheesecake mix, of course, toffee topping, and cream decoration. The ingredients list consisted of 13 or so items.

Daim and the Gang!

Just taking a photo of the ingredients all together was a challenge! I rarely do such a stunt, let alone even take all my ingredients out as I dislike being surrounded by anything other than my duvet, but I felt this one was special. And indeed it was,

That would usually be enough to put me off, but I had a guest coming that I wanted to impress. So much so that I KNEW this had to be the recipe, as much I also knew I had to do a test run, such was my lack of confidence in my cheesecake making abilities. This would be the second one I had ever made.

Buttery Biscuit Base
(Masterchef UK fans might get that reference)
Lining the tin! Oh my goodness, what a kerfuffle! That was arduous.
Then I got on with the biscuit base with crushed toffee bits. Once I worked out what Heath bars were, I realised they were similar to Daim bars (or Dime bars, as I'm old skool, innit!).
Simple enough... but it later turned out that I have poor depth perception and made the base way too thick. I improved this for the 'real thing', but I think I need to be governed by the needs of the cake rather than the prescribed amounts of the recipe.

Then we melt the chocolate. I won't lie: it pained me to use so many of my precious chocolate chips just to melt them. Yes, yes, I could have chopped or grated a bar of chocolate, but who has the time?! Chocolate chips are only just becoming a bit more common in supermarkets in Stockholm, Sweden, in the last 15 or so months, and as is so often my complaint, prices for them are not low. I buy them in a suspicious bulk pattern and then hoard them like a dragon over its... erm... loot. I didn't want to say 'hoard' again!

The Hoard! It's melted, melted!
What a cruel, cruel, world!

A-ny-way, Then the caramel... again fairly straightforward American style with cream, very yummy. The knee weakening moment was actually when that caramel was mixed in with the cheesecake mixture. Oh. My. Goodness. If I was more dramatic, which is hard to believe, I would have sat down. That mixture was to die for. Soooooo gooooood. I almost didn't want to bake it. I did, though.

That mixture! Wooh!

Wrapped in damp dishcloths as I have no
tray large enough to hold it


The decoration. Oh la la, I royally messed this one up. I didn't read the instructions properly so I mixed the caramel with some whipped cream and made... what?! I'll settle with caramel cream. I cheated and used a spray can for the whipped cream topping, and yes, it was impressive. I learned the hard way that whipped cream sinks, so had to re-spray the next day.

Decorated with erroneous caramel cream

2nd attempt

The sheer weight of it plus the stickiness from the fat in the base made it difficult remove from the base of the tin, so I had to just sit by and cry into my lap whilst my colleagues cut on my tin. With metal knives!!! Oh, the agony! The base was too thick on both occasions to cut through with plastic utensils, so it was an unfortunate necessity.

Attempt #1. The assault weapons, your Honour

Attempt #1 Slice.
Doesn't do her justice, really.

Whilst this is most certainly a show stopper and has had repeated requests for a return, I feel overwhelmed by this cake and it had better be a very special occasion for me to make it again.

Thank you all, and good night!