Simple Sugar Cookies

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So I got a cookie press for Christmas. Naturally this meant that I needed to bake sugar cookies to test it out on.

Sugar Cookies

Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

1 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup / 200 g sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla essence
3 cups / 375 g flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt

Cream butter and sugar. Add egg and vanilla and mix well. Add flour, baking powder and salt and mix together. Allow to chill for 1 to 2 hours (or if you’re impatient like me, put it in the freezer for 15 minutes).

When you’re ready, pop the dough into the cookie press. If you don’t know how these gadgets work, try searching YouTube for a that makes sense to you or check out the video below. Alternatively you could just roll the dough into walnut sized balls and push flat onto a baking tray.

When you’ve used up all the dough, bake the cookies at 180°C (350°F) for 10 to 12 minutes.

The result should look something like this!

Sugar Cookies

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Chocolate Brownie Recipe

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The time has come for me to share my favourite chocolate brownie recipe. This has been my staple brownie recipe for about 6 years now – it’s a winner every time, and it’s so simple that a toddler could make it. Enjoy!

CHOCOLATE BROWNIES

1 cup sugar
½ cup margarine or butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
2/3 cups all purpose flour
½ cup cocoa
½ cup chopped walnuts
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt

Heat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Mix sugar, margarine, vanilla and eggs. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Pour into a 20 x 20 cm (8 x 8″)  greased/lined pan.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until a toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean. Cut into 2 inch squares (makes 16 brownies). It’s a nice touch to sprinkle icing sugar over the brownies for serving. Delicious served hot with ice cream!

Voila!

Decadent White Chocolate Cupcake Recipe

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These are, by far, the most decadent white chocolate cupcakes I’ve ever had. They’re deliciously moist, light and fluffy. The icing is to die for. The overall deliciousness probably has something to do with the fact that both the cake and the icing have melted white chocolate in them. They’re a total crowd-pleaser, aaaand they’re pretty straight forward to make as well. Fire away!

Ingredients

For the cupcakes:

1 ½ cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1/3 cup butter
¾ cup sugar
2 large eggs
115 g white chocolate
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 cup + 1 tbsp milk

For the Icing:

230 g cream cheese
2 tsp vanilla essence
56 g white chocolate
6tsp milk
4 – 6 cups icing sugar

Method

Preheat oven to 180°C.

Mix the dry ingredients together. In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one by one and mix well.

Add the melted chocolate and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients. Bake for 20 – 22 minutes.

To make the icing:

Mix the cream cheese and butter together. Add chocolate, vanilla and milk. Finally, add icing sugar until it reaches the desired consistency. Fill a piping bag with the icing and ice liberally.

Optional: To finish them off, try grating some chocolate over them or topping them with chocolate shavings. Yum!

Millionaire Bar Recipe

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(also known as a Caramel Slice)

I’ve been threatening to make these for months – literally. I had my first Millionaire Bar at the office a couple of months back and set out to find a recipe to replicate the awe-insipring deliciousness of these things. That’s right, awe-inspiring. They’re so good that that could probably bring about world peace. Who could say no to a treat comprising of a layer of biscuit, topped with a layer of fudgy caramel, topped with a layer of chocolate? No one.

So I finally got round to baking a batch last night.

Then I died and went to heaven.

But seriously, these Millionaire Bars are a complete delight, but somewhat time consuming to make (this is because you have to wait for the layers to cool). Nevertheless, they were so amazing that I’ll definitely be baking them again.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

For the Biscuit Base

1 cup plain flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup desiccated coconut
125 grams melted butter

For the Fudge Filling

395 gram can sweetened condensed milk
60 grams butter
2 tablespoons golden syrup
For the Chocolate Topping

180g cooking chocolate (I’m sure an ordinary Cadbury slab would do the trick as well)
2 teaspoons vegetable oil

Method

To make the base

Preheat your oven to 180°C and line a 20 x 30cm tray with wax paper. (Note: I confess that I actually used a 23 x 23cm square cake tin and had no wax paper, so I used a generous amount of baking spray and they turned out fine)

Add the flour, coconut and sugar into a bowl, pour in the melted butter and mix together.

Press the mixture into the pan/tray and flatten firmly. Bake the base for about 15 minutes until it is golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

While the base bakes in the oven you can get started on the filling

To make the fudge filling

Add the condensed milk, butter and golden syrup into a medium-sized pot.

Stir the mixture over a low heat until it is smooth and caramel coloured. When you remove it from the stove it should be quite thick and starting to bubble. Be careful not to turn it into fudge! Remove the pot from the heat and allow to cool.

Pour the cooled caramel mixture over the base and bake in the oven for a further 10 – 15 minutes until the caramel is a deep golden brown. Allow the slice to cool completely before spreading over the chocolate topping (putting it in the freezer for a few minutes will do the trick).

To make the chocolate topping

Break the chocolate up and microwave until completely melted (45 seconds to a minute should do). Stir in the vegetable oil.

Pour the chocolate mixture over the caramel and spread it over the entire surface. Place the slice in the fridge and chill for about 30 minutes until set. Cut into squares with a dry warm knife. (Don’t make the mistake of putting the chocolate layer in the freezer to set and then trying to cut it. The chocolate layer will crack and shatter.)

And voila! A truly delicious tea-time treat.

Picture source

Glazed Gammon

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Every year my mother out-does herself with her Christmas gammon/ham. This year, I made a point of extorting her famous recipe from her so that it can forever be preserved on the internet.

If you’re looking for a gammon recipe, look no further. This one is the best. 

I hope you’ll all love this recipe as much as I do!

To Boil the Ham:

5 – 8 kg ham
1 – 2 whole carrots
1 turnip
1 large onion, with 2 – 4 whole cloves stuck in it
1 sprig of parsley or fresh herbs
1 bayleaf
5 black peppercorns
5 ml mustard powder
15 ml brown sugar

Place the ham in a large pot (we use a pressure cooker so the meat is extra tender). Cover with cold water and add the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, cover with a lid and reduce the heat.

Leave the ham to simmer, allowing 30 minutes per 500 g or until a thread of meat can be pulled away easily. Remove ham from liquid, leave to cool for a few minutes before removing the outer skin. Return the ham to the cooking liquid and leave to cool before glazing. This will make sure that the ham stays succulent.

Note: You can sort of go a bit crazy with what you throw into the pot. Feel free to throw in whatever else you may fancy, within reason of course!

For the Glaze:

250 ml apple cider or apple juice (or pineapple juice or whatever else you may like. Many people use Coca-Cola as well)
30 ml brown sugar
30 ml honey or golden syrup
10 ml mustard powder

Use a sharp knife to make criss-cross cuts about 5 mm deep and 20 mm apart to form a diamond pattern. You may stick a whole clove into the points of each diamond for extra flavour.  Combine the glaze ingredients and spoon half the mixture over the ham and bake at 160 degrees Celsius for 30 – 45 minutes. Spoon the remaining mixture over the ham at regular intervals while baking.

Serve hot or cold, and enjoy!

Red Velvet Cupcakes With Cream Cheese Frosting

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The time has come for me to share the best red velvet cupcake recipe that I’ve ever tasted with you. This is the one and only Paula Deen’s recipe, and we all know how that woman can bake!

RED VELVET CUPCAKES WITH CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

Makes 24 cupcakes

Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 tablespoons red food coloring
1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 pound cream cheese, softened
2 sticks butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
Chopped pecans and fresh raspberries or strawberries, for garnish
Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 °C). Line 2 (12-cup) muffin pans with cupcake papers.

In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder. In a large bowl gently beat together the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla with a handheld electric mixer. Add the sifted dry ingredients to the wet and mix until smooth and thoroughly combined.

Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake tins about 2/3 filled. Bake in oven for about 20 to 22 minutes, turning the pans once, half way through. Test the cupcakes with a toothpick for doneness. Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting.

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:

In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla together until smooth. Add the sugar and on low speed, beat until incorporated. Increase the speed to high and mix until very light and fluffy.

Garnish with chopped pecans and a fresh raspberry or strawberry.

Cook’s Note: Frost the cupcakes with a butter knife or pipe it on with a big star tip.

Source: Food Network

Strawberry Cheesecake Santas

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I had this emailed to me the other day and I thought it was a great idea for Christmas! Quite similar to the Santa Hat Brownies recipe that I posted last year, but perhaps a bit easier to do.

STRAWBERRY CHEESECAKE SANTAS

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You will need:

1 lb (500g) large strawberries
1 (8 ounce / 230g) package cream cheese, softened
3-4 Tablespoons castor sugar (or sugar substitute – to taste)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
A few linseed seeds or chocolate vermicelli pieces for eyes

Method:

Rinse strawberries and cut around the top of the strawberry. Remove the top, (enough for a hat). Clean out the whole strawberry with a paring knife, if necessary (some of them are hollow already. Prepare all of the strawberries and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla until creamy. Add cream cheese mix to a piping bag or a Ziploc bag with the corner snipped off. Fill the strawberries with cheesecake mixture.

Once strawberries are filled, top with the ‘hats.’ Decorate according to photo. If not serving immediately, refrigerate until serving.

National Sponge Cake Day

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Yes – there are days like this to celebrate cake – and for good reason!

Someone, somewhere in the world, decided that sponge cake is far too splendid not to have an entire day dedicated to it. In agreement with this, I’m going to share one of my mom’s best kept (until now) secrets.

The best part about this cake is that is is literally the easiest thing to bake and practically impossible to mess up.

Enjoy!

Easy Vanilla Sponge Cake

1 cup sugar
1 cup milk
1 cup oil
4 eggs
4 tsp baking power
3 cups flour
1 tsp vanilla essence.

Mix all ingredients together and bake for 20 – 30 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius.

(I wasn’t kidding when I said it’s really, really easy).

Decorate with a frosting of your choice!

 

Cappuccino Cheesecake

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Last in my series of cheesecake recipes, here’s a recipe for a Cappuccino Cheesecake. Unfortunately I can’t remember the source, but here it is anyway!

CAPPUCCINO CHEESECAKE

Crust:
1 1/3 cups chocolate wafers or graham crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted

Filling:
3 pkgs. Philadelphia cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 tsp coffee liqueur or vanilla
3 eggs, at room temperature
1/4 cup milk
1 tbsp instant coffee granules

Garnish:
Whipped cream
Cinnamon or chocolate coffee beans

Combine crust ingredients. Press onto bottom and halfway up sides of 9 inch/22cm spring-form pan. Set aside. Using electric mixer, beat together cream cheese, sugars, flour and liqueur until smooth. Add eggs, beating on low speed just until blended. Combine milk and instant coffee stirring until dissolved; stir into cream cheese mixture. Pour into prepared crust and bake at 450F/230C for 10 minutes.
Reduce heat to 250F/120C and continue baking 45 to 55 minutes. Remove from oven and run knife around rim of pan to loosen cake and prevent cracking.
Cool thoroughly at room temperature. Chill 8 hours or overnight.

If desired, garnish with whipped cream and cinnamon or chocolate coffee beans. Enjoy.