Gingham Chicken fudge – review

Sometimes, people surprise you with their loveliness.

Hazel Parsons is someone who I don’t really know, but have met though my housemate as they both work in the wedding industry in Cornwall.

A little while ago, she posted some photos on Twitter of some Gingham Chicken fudge which was being used for wedding favours. I commented saying that I’d heard their stuff was good but had never tried it, then the next thing I knew I had a tasty parcel waiting for me at the delivery office!

There was absolutely no reason for Hazel to send me the fudge – she doesn’t work for the company, wasn’t trying to promote it – she just did it to be nice. How lovely is that?!

I figured the best way of justifying the eating of an entire box of fudge was if I then reviewed it for the blog – so here goes.

Gingham Chicken is a Cornish fudge company, based in Liskeard. I first heard about them through Choclette from Chocolate Log Blog, but hadn’t seen the fudge on sale anywhere so never got around to trying any.

The flavour I was sent was sea salt and pecan nuts – a flavour combination I haven’t seen in fudge before but sounded like it could work well.

Regular fudge can be too sweet, but the salt balances it nicely, and Gingham Chicken have got the balance just right. Add pecan nuts, which I love and snack on all the time, and it becomes delicious fudge heaven!

Texture wise, it was perfect for me. I think fudge lovers can be divided into two camps – crumbly or soft and buttery. I’m in the crumbly camp, and that’s exactly what this was – although the one downside to this is that it didn’t fare brilliantly in the post and there wee quite a lot of crumbs left at the bottom of the box.

I would 100% recommend this fudge, and I can’t wait to try more Gingham Chicken flavours soon. And should anyone be in a generous mood, leave a comment and I’ll send you my address…

 

Carrot, pineapple and orange cake

Carrot, pineapple and orange cake

I’m into baking with vegetables in a big way at the minute, so when I was flicking through Peggy Porschen’s Boutique Baking the ‘scrumptious carrot cake’ immediately caught my eye.

It’s actually somewhere in between a traditional carrot cake and a hummingbird cake, as it has the addition of crushed pineapple in the sponge.

Given that I LOVED the hummingbird cake I made ages ago for a Clandestine Cake Club, I figured a hummingbird-carrot cake hybrid could only be a good thing, and switching the suggest buttercream and sugarpaste for an orange cream cheese frosting was quite literally the icing on the cake.

All the flavours work together perfectly, with nothing too overpowering. The deliciously sticky sponge is dense without being heavy, and the icing is just sweet enough sandwiched between the layers – I think if I’d covered the whole cake in icing it might have been too much, but I hear naked cakes are all the rage at the minute anyway…

If someone specifically wanted me to make them a carrot cake I think I’d still go with the traditional version, but this is a great way to change it up a bit and try something different so I would definitely recommend giving it a go!

Carrot, pineapple and orange cake (adapted from Peggy Porschen’s Boutique Baking)

  • 200g light brown sugar
  • 5 tbsp (75ml) vegetable oil
  • 75g natural yoghurt
  • 1.5 medium eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste
  • 320g carrots, grated
  • 1 tin pineapple chunks, drained and crushed (220g)
  • 40g pecan nuts, chopped
  • 290g plain flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon

For the icing:

  • 50g unsalted butter
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 125g cream cheese
  • 250g icing sugar

Beat together the sugar, vegetable oil and yoghurt until well combined, then add the eggs one a a time, followed by the vanilla. Fold in the grated carrots, crushed pineapple and chopped pecans, then finally sift together all of the remaining dry ingredients and fold these into the mix too. Divide the cake batter between three 6″ round cake tins and bake at 180 degrees (160 fan) for 30-40 minutes, or until springy to the touch and starting to pull away from the sides of the tins.

While the cakes are cooking, make the icing. Beat the butter to soften, then add the orange zest and the icing sugar, a little at a time. If it won’t come together, add 25g of the cream cheese and beat again. Once the butter and sugar has been creamed, add he cream cheese and beat on a high speed for about 3 minutes, or until light and fluffy, then chill in the fridge for an hour or so.

Assemble the cake by levelling the tops of the cakes if they’ve domed, then by layering sponge and frosting. Slice and serve!

Bourbon pecan pie cupcakes

Bourbon pecan pie cupcakes

If you like a boozy cake, these cupcakes could be for you.

Even if you don’t, you still might like them – I would never drink straight up bourbon whiskey, but somehow when you add butter and sugar the taste is transformed into something altogether different, and far more pleasant.

I was thinking of different ways of incorporating alcohol into cupcakes, and was originally going down the cocktail route, until a friend suggested whiskey as something different to try.

(On a side note, while writing this I couldn’t decide whether I should be saying whiskey or whisky. I decided to research it, and it turns out that officially it should be whiskey for a bourbon, but whisky for a scotch. Never knew that before!)

My mind-cogs started turning, and soon the idea of bourbon pecan pie came into my head. Whiskey, caramel, pecans – how could it not work?

I decided the cake itself needed pecans, brown sugar and bourbon (Jim Beam, kindly donated from my dad’s ‘not for guests’ alcohol cabinet) and based it on these coffee cupcakes I made a little while ago.

The cakes obviously needed a pecan pie filling, and so I made one based on a Betty Crocker recipe I found online, but omitting the eggs as they seemed like a bit of a strange addition.

For the icing, I was torn between buttercream and cream cheese, but decided to go for cream cheese as there was already  lot of sweetness going on in the cakes, and I thought they could probably do with a bit of a tang to cut through it.

I’m really, really pleased with how the cupcakes turned out – the sponge is light but moist, the filling sweet, sticky and pecan pie-esque, and the cream cheese icing was definitely the right choice.

One of my taste testers at work thought they were a bit too boozy, and you certainly do get a good hit of bourbon, but even though I’m not a whiskey drinker I still enjoyed them. I guess it’s down to personal taste, you can always cut back if you’re worried they’ll be too strong. Either way, they are a ridiculously indulgent treat that I would definitely make again.

Bourbon Pecan Pie Cupcakes

For the cupcakes:

  • 40g pecan nuts
  • 80g caster sugar
  • 80g light brown sugar
  • 165g butter
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 1tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 2 tbsp bourbon whiskey
  • 165g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

For the filling:

  • 50g pecan nuts
  • 30g caster sugar
  • 30g light brown sugar
  • 120g golden syrup
  • 10g cornflour
  • 60g butter
  • 3 tbsp whipping cream
  • 1.5 tbsp bourbon whiskey

For the icing:

  • 50g butter
  • 300g icing sugar
  • 125g cream cheese
  • 12 pecan halves, to decorate

To make the cupcakes, start by grinding the pecan nuts in a food processor with the caster and light brown sugar, until no large chunks remain.

Beat the butter and pecan sugar mix together for 4-5 minutes, until really light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla bean paste and bourbon whiskey. Sieve together the flour, baking powder and salt, then fold into the cake batter until just combined.

Divide the mixture between 10-12 cupcake cases in a muffin tin, filling each with about 60g of batter, then bake at 170 degrees for 25-30 minutes, or until risen, golden, and a skewer comes out clean. Remove from the tin after 10 minutes and place on a wire rack to cool.

To make the filling, add both sugars, the golden syrup, butter and cornflour to a medium saucepan, and warm over a medium heat, stirring until the butter melts and all the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat and bring to a simmer, then add the bourbon whiskey. Keep stirring until the liquid becomes a thick syrup, then remove from the heat and whisk in the cream. Stir in the pecans and leave to cool completely.

For the icing, beat the butter and 50g sugar until well mixed, then gradually add the rest of the sugar, beating constantly (if it seems like it’s too dry and won’t come together, add a little of the cream cheese). Once all the sugar has been mixed in, add 2 tbsp of caramel from the filling (without any pecans in) and the cream cheese, then beat for 3-4 minutes until light and creamy. Chill in the fridge for half an hour, or until thick enough to pipe.

To assemble the cupcakes, cut a round hole in the centre of each cake, about 1.5cm diameter, going down to 1cm away from the bottom of the cake. Remove the centres, then spoon the pecan caramel filling into the holes, dividing equally between all of the cupcakes.

Take the centres you removed from the cakes and cut them in half horizontally, then place the top half back on top of the filling – it should be level with the top and look like a normal cupcake again.

Fit a piping bag with a large star nozzle and fill with the cream cheese icing. Pipe in swirls on top of the cupcakes, then finish by decorating with a pecan half on top.

Apple, maple and pecan bars

When I had to make cakes for a work meeting the other week, I knew straight away that coffee and caramelised white chocolate cupcakes would be on the menu, but choosing a second bake proved a little trickier.

The pony thought I should stick with something simple (read: chocolate) and a straw poll in the office put cheesecake in with a shout, but in the end I was swayed by the incredible looking maple, pear and pecan treacle tarts posted by the Little Loaf, and ended up adapting that recipe to make these bars.

I turned it into a traybake as I was a bit short on time and didn’t want to faff around lining individual tart tins,  slightly altered the ratio of maple to golden syrup to keep the cost down, and swapped pear for apple, just because.

These bars actually made me quite nervous – I thought they were great but I really didn’t know how well they would go down with everyone else.

Luckily I needn’t have worried as they were a winner – the lunchers loved them and my boss even said they would be in his top 3 pick of everything I’ve ever baked, which is a pretty good endorsement!

I served them at room temperature, which was good as it was actually a rare sunny day, but I can only imagine how amazing they would be warm with a scoop of ice cream on a chilly autumn or winter evening… Definitely worth revisiting the recipe to try!

Apple, maple and pecan bars (adapted from The Little Loaf)

For the pastry:

  • 65g butter
  • 100g plain flour
  • 30g icing sugar
  • 1 medium egg yolk

For the filling:

  • 35g butter
  • 150g maple syrup
  • 200g golden syrup
  • 150g fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1 granny smith apple (115g) grated
  • 50g pecan nuts, roughly chopped

To make the pastry, beat the butter and sugar until well mixed, add the egg yolk and beat again, then finally add the flour and mix until just combined. Tip the mixture into a greased and lined 8×8″ square tin and press down with your fingertips – this is loads easier than rolling it out and a method I will definitely use more in the future!

Prick the base with a fork and chill in the freezer for 10 minutes while the oven pre-heats to 180 degrees, then bake for around 15 minutes or until lightly golden. Leave to cool while you make the filling.

Heat the butter, maple syrup and golden syrup until melted (you don’t need to bring it to the boil, just get everything nice and liquidy). Stir in the breadcrumbs, grated apple and chopped pecans, then spread in an even layer on top of the base.

Return to the oven and bake at 180 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until set and just crisping up around the edges. Leave to cool before slicing into bars.

Hummingbird Cake

Last week, I went to another brilliant Cornwall Clandestine Cake Club, and have been terribly slack in posting about it – apologies!

Held at a gorgeous farmhouse near Tintagel, the Cornwall and North Cornwall branches of CCC came together for a 4th of July all-American spectacular. Just look at this spread of cakes – and that was before everyone had even arrived!

I decided to make a Hummingbird cake – apparently Southern Living magazine’s most requested recipe, so it must be a true American classic!

I was a bit worried someone else would do the same, but luckily they didn’t. For those of you who haven’t heard of or tried a Hummingbird cake, it’s basically a super-charged banana cake, with added pineapple, pecans, cinnamon and cream cheese icing –  an inspired combination!

This is probably one of my favourite things I’ve baked recently, as all the elements just work really well together – the bananas taste delicious and make it smell heavenly when it’s baking, same for the cinnamon which I love in pretty much anything; the pineapple makes it extra-moist, the pecans add a nice texture contrast, and cream cheese icing is my all-time favourite frosting.

Hopefully everyone else who tried a bit liked it – I took a slice home with me at my boss’s request, and even his banana-hating son approved so it must have been pretty good!

Just in case the giant flag the pony made to go in my cake wasn’t enough to let people know what it was, I made a little hummingbird to go on top, although my lack of artistic skills may have just left everyone more confused…

Hummingbird Cake (adapted from Southern Living magazine)

  • 360g plain flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 400g sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 250ml vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 200g can crushed pineapple
  • 100g chopped pecans
  • 450g chopped over-ripe bananas (3 large bananas)
  • 500g cream cheese
  • 250g butter
  • 250g icing sugar

Start by greasing and lining four 7″ sandwich tins – I only have two so I baked in two batches. Sieve together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt, sugar and cinnamon into a large bowl. Whisk together the eggs, oil and vanilla and stir into the dry ingredients, until just combined. Fold in the banana, pineapple and pecans and stir to make sure they’re all distributed evenly, then divide the mixture between the pans and bake at 180 degrees for about 20-25 minutes, or until risen and springy to the touch.

For the icing, beat the butter to soften, then add the icing sugar and half the cream cheese. Using an electric mixer, beat for 3-5 minutes until light and fluffy and no lumps remain, then quickly add in the rest of the cream cheese and beat until just combined. Chill in the fridge until thick enough to spread.

To assemble the cake, level off each of the cake layers, then stack with a layer of cream cheese icing between each, and cover with the rest of the icing. Keep in the fridge until half an hour or so before serving.

Banoffee muffins

After seeing these delicious looking sticky toffee banoffee muffins on Tinned Tomatoes, it was really only a matter of time before I had a go at making them myself.

That time came around quickly, as I needed something I could bake that would survive an hour’s drive to a meeting and feed an office full of hungry people, and muffins seemed like the ideal solution.

I had a bit of a baking dilemma as the recipe doesn’t use any sugar, just a tin of caramel – I wasn’t sure if this was right and couldn’t decide whether to guess and add sugar or not – in the end I cautiously added 20g dark brown sugar just to ease my mind, although it really wasn’t necessary.

I think I mixed the caramel in a bit too well, as I didn’t really get melty pools of caramel as I was hoping, but I did get moist, sweet banana muffins that smelt AMAZING every time I opened the tin!

These muffins have also taught me the difference between muffins and cupcakes – the cases I used were most definitely cupcake cases, as I discovered when the recipe which was supposed to make 12 made 16 with quite a bit of overflowing batter, which led the friendly pony to call some of the less fortunate looking cakes “elephant man cupcakes”…

Thanks to Jacqueline at Tinned Tomatoes for posting the recipe – apart from the sugar  I followed it exactly so you can see the original here.

Flour, sugar and dairy free chocolate fudge bites

My next door neighbour Jo has, for some reason I will never understand, given up flour, sugar and butter for lent. Insanity!

I didn’t really like the idea of going 40 days without taking her any baked goods, so when I saw these German chocolate fudge bites on Chocolate Covered Katie I knew instantly they would have to be made for Jo.

As well as being free of pretty much everything bad for you, they’re also incredible quick and easy to make, and use just four ingredients (possibly four of my favourite ingredients) AND are only 50 calories each!

Sounds too good to be true, but they really do work!

Flour, sugar and dairy free chocolate fudge bites (recipe adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie)

Makes 15 small bites

  • 120g pitted dates
  • 50g pecan nuts
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder, plus extra to coat
  • 2tbsp desiccated coconut

Put all the ingredients into a food processor and blitz until everything is well-chopped and well-mixed. Transfer the mixture into a bowl and knead until it comes together. Roll out 15 small truffle-sized balls, and chill in the fridge for half an hour. Roll each bite in more cocoa powder before serving.

Chocolate and pecan crusted goat’s cheese

This post is a bit of an anomaly for the Hungry Hinny – an actual meal as opposed to a baked good!

But as the challenge set by Choclette for this month’s We Should Cocoa was to create something savoury and vegetarian using chocolate,  I was happy to branch out.

The only savoury cooking I’ve done with chocolate in the past is using it in chilli, but I thought that was too obvious and set out to find something a bit different.

I stumbled across this recipe for warm encrusted goat’s cheese which used cacao nibs, which I figured would at least be interesting, if not actually nice, so I set about recreating it.

After a bit of reconnassaince on Twitter, I found a local shop which sold cacao nibs, but when I visited they only had 200g bags costing over £8, which I couldn’t really justify spending on an experiement, so the final version of this is definitely more ‘inspired by’ than an actual replication of the original…

I served the goat’s cheese on seeded panini breads with caramelised onions, a rocket salad and balsamic dressing, and I have to say I actually really liked it!

The pony wasn’t so keen on the crust, but then he doesn’t like pecans anyway so I wasn’t too surprised – it’s definitely worth giving it a go for something slightly different to do with chocolate!

Chocolate and pecan crusted goat’s cheese (adapted from All Chocolate):

(Serves 2 as a lunch)

  • 2 x 65g packs of Gevrik Goat’s Cheese (other goat’s cheeses will work fine, but if you’re a strict veggie double check as some French ones aren’t suitable)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 50g pecan nuts
  • 1tsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

Use a food processor to quite finely chop the nuts, then add in the cocoa powder and black pepper. Cut each mini-log of cheese in half width-ways, so you have four rounds, then dip each in the beaten egg before coating with the nut mixture, then place on a baking tray. Bake at 180 degrees for 5-10 minutes, or until the coating is crisp and the cheese is just starting to ooze out.

To serve:

  • 2 medium onions
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1tsp brown sugar
  • 2 seeded paninis, or other breads
  • 1 pack of rocket or other leafy salad

Heat a little oil in a frying pan then add the sliced onions. Cook slowly for about 15 minutes or until starting to turn golden, then add in 1tbsp balsamic vinegar and the brown sugar. Cook for another 10 minutes or so, until caramelised.

Heat the breads for about 5 minutes in the oven, then slice in half and top with the onions and goat’s cheese. Arrange on top of the salad and drizzle with the remaining balsamic vinegar.

Banoffee pie tarts

These banoffee pie tarts were a last minute addition to my barbecue cake line up, when I realised I would have double the amount of pastry I needed for the mini white chocolate and strawberry tarts.

I thought about what would go well with the pecans in the pastry, and although I’ve never tried it before decided that pecan, banana and caramel was bound to be a winner.

I totally made this the cheat way with a tin of caramel, but when you’ve got 5 sets of cakes to make in a day speed is important!

If these were any bigger I think they’d be a bit too sweet for my tastes, but in such little bite size portions they were just right!

Banoffee pie tarts (makes about 15):

  • 1/2 quantity of pecan shortcrust pastry, recipe here
  • 2 bananas
  • 1 400g tin caramel (or dulce de leche if you want better quality!)
  • 300ml double cream
Once the pastry is baked and cooled, add a heaped teaspoon of caramel into each case. Chop one of the bananas and place the pieces on top of the caramel. Lightly whip the cream then spoon a dollop onto the top of each tart, then top with another slice of banana. Ridiculously easy!

Chocolate Pecan Pie

I’ve eaten pecan pie once in my life, ever. It was when I was in my early teens, and I made the recipe for chocolate pecan pie from Joanna Farrow’s Chocolate cookbook.

Since then, it hasn’t been made, as my main cake eaters (first my dad, and then the aforementioned friendly pony) claimed to not like nuts, so it seemed a little greedy to make one that only I would eat.

I think the fact that I couldn’t make it made me build it up in my mind to be the nirvana of baking, the most delicious but unattainable dessert in existance.

Recently however, the friendly pony has started to come around on the nuts thing, and when asked to choose between chocolate pecan pie and nutella tart, surprisingly chose the pie.

However, after all these years of waiting, I have to say I was slightly disappointed. It had a perfectly good chocolate pastry, sticky chocolatey syrupy filling and crunchy pecans, but it was somehow just not quite as good as I remembered.

Still, at least my 10+ year craving for it has been satisfied and I can finally move on, to bigger and better baking!

Chocolate Pecan Pie, from Joanna Farrow’s ‘Chocolate’

Pastry Ingredients:

  • 175g plain flour
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 125g butter
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • cold water

Method:

  • Sift the flour and cocoa powder into a bowl with the butter, and rub together until it makes breadcrumbs. Add the sugar and egg yolks and mixx together, then slowly add water until it comes together as a dough
  • Chill in the fridge for half an hour (or 10 mins in the freezer) then roll out large enough to line a 25cm. Trim off any excess pastry, then chill for another half hour. Blind bake for 10 minutes at 200 degrees, then for 5 minutes normally (I have a rather novel way of doing this as I don’t have baking beans, forgot to take photos this time but will next time I blind bake).

Filling Ingredients:

  • 175g caster sugar
  • 150ml maple syrup
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 3 eggs
  • 200g pecan nuts, roughly chopped

Method:

  • Put the sugar and syrup in a saucepan and heat until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter until melted. Leave to cool slightly thn stir in the cocoa powder and eggs.
  • Scatter the pecans into the pastry base, the pour the filling on top.
  • Bake at 160 degrees for about 50 mins, until slightly crispy on top but still gooey inside.
  • Serve with whatever you like, I prefer ice cream, the friendly pony likes custard, would also be great with clotted cream or creme fraiche.