Salted caramel aubergine chocolate torte (GF)

Sorry for the slightly long title, but I really needed to include all the key elements of this cake so you know what we’re talking about.

First up, I lied – it’s not a cake. It it deliciously dense and squidgy, it sinks in the middle – it’s definitely a torte.

It’s chocolate. Super chocolate. But it also has probably the weirdest vegetable I’ve baked with replacing any butter or oil – aubergine.

And then there’s the salted caramel. What dessert isn’t improved by salted caramel?!

This is really a hybrid of two recipes from Green and Black’s Ultimate Chocolate Recipes – Harry Eastwood’s Heartache Cake, which I’ve made before, and a Velvet Salted Caramel Torte.

To make sure the caramel layer would stay in place and not mix in with the cake batter, I tweaked Harry’s recipe to whisk the egg whites separately and fold them into the mix last, so it would hold the weight of the caramel.

It worked – you can’t see too clearly in the photos, but there was a definite layer of caramel, and it took a great chocolate torte to another level – so, so good!

Seriously, don’t be put off by the aubergine, or the hassle of making caramel, it really is worth it – if only I could have another slice now…

Salted caramel aubergine chocolate torte (adapted from the Heartache Cake and Velvet Salted Caramel Torte in Green and Black’s Ultimate Chocolate Recipes)

For the caramel:

  • 90g caster sugar
  • 45ml water
  • 60g butter
  • 60ml double cream
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt (or more if you’re a salt fiend like me)

For the cake:

  • 1 medium aubergine (around 220g)
  • 150g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 2 medium eggs, separated
  • 100g clear honey
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 60g ground almonds
  • 1 tbsp baking powder

For the caramel, heat the sugar and water in a saucepan stirring until the sugar dissolves, then leave to simmer until the syrup thickens and turns a rich amber colour. Remove from the heat and immediately whisk in the butter, cream and salt. Pour into a bowl or jug and set aside to cool.

Pierce the aubergine with a skewer or sharp knife all over, microwave for about 8 minutes on high, then leave until cool enough to handle. Peel off the skin, then puree the flesh in a food processor until no lumps remain. Stir in the chopped chocolate until melted – you might need to give it another quick blast in the microwave.

Beat the egg yolks, honey, cocoa powder, almonds and baking powder for about a minute, then add the aubergine chocolate mixture and beat again until well combined. Whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks in a separate bowl, then fold these into the cake batter a third at a time.

Spread two thirds of the mixture into a greased and lined 6″ round tin. Pour the caramel on top and spread to within 1cm of the edge of the tin. Top with the remaining cake mix and try to spread it as evenly as you can to cover the caramel.

Bake on a low shelf at 180 degrees (160 fan) for about half an hour, until the cake has risen and a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool completely – it will sink in the middle, but that’s what you want. Remove from the tin, then slice and serve.

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Chocolate pithiviers

This month, two of my favourite blogging challenges (hosted by two of my favourite bloggers) teamed up to create one behemoth of a challenge – We Should Cocoa meets Random Recipes.

Choclette at Chocolate Log Blog and Dom at Belleau Kitchen wanted us to randomly select a recipe to bake this month, but it had to be one involving chocolate. As I have three books dedicated solely to chocolate, I used a random number generator to pick one of them, and then asked my housemate to choose a page number to select my bake.

The book chosen was Green & Black’s Ultimate Chocolate Recipes, and the recipe was Simon Hopkinson’s Chocolate Pithiviers.

Initially I was a little daunted – it involved time consuming homemade puff pastry, and creme patissiere which I’ve never tried making before, but in the spirit of RR I embraced the challenge and dedicated my Sunday to baking.

I was super happy with how these turned out – the creme patissiere was easier than I expected, lump-free and lush tasting, and the pastry puffed properly, with actual discernible layers!

The only thing I felt that let it down was the filling, which could have just done with another depth of flavour, but overall they were definitely a success.

Thanks Choclette and Dom for making me try a recipe I would have never chosen otherwise!

Chocolate pithiviers (from Green & Black’s Ultimate Chocolate Recipes)

For the pastry:

  • 225g butter
  • 225g plain flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 250ml iced water
  • juice of half a lemon

For the filling:

  • 250ml milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 75g sugar
  • 25g plain flour
  • 3 medium egg yolks
  • 110g butter
  • 110g caster sugar
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 100g chopped dark chocolate
  • 1 egg beaten, to wash

To make the pastry, finely chop the butter and mix into the flour and salt, but don’t rub it in – leave the butter in lumps. Stir in the water and lemon juice and bring together into a dough. Turn it out onto a floured work surface and roll into a rectangle, roughly 18x10cm. Fold the top third down lengthways, then fold the bottom third over that. Wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for 10 minutes, then take it out, turn it 90 degrees, and repeat the rolling and folding. Do this 5 more times – that’s an hour of chilling, rolling and folding!

For the creme patissiere, heat the milk and vanilla in a saucepan until it reaches boiling point. Whisk the sugar, flour and egg yolks until light and fluffy, then slowly pour in the milk, whisking as you go. Return to the saucepan and stir over a low heat, until it thickens to a consistency a bit thicker than custard. Leave to cool completely.

Beat the remaining 110g sugar with the butter until light and fluffy, then add the eggs one at a time. Beat in the cocoa powder and almonds, then finally fold in the cooled creme patissiere and the chopped chocolate, and chill again.

To make the pithiviers, roll out the pastry and cit into four 10x10cm squares and four 15x15cm squares. Place the smaller squares on a baking sheet and dollop a good amount of the filling in the middle (you will have way too much filling though so don’t try to use it all).

Brush the beaten egg around the edges of pastries, then place the larger squares on top and press down to seal. Cut into circles, leaving about 1cm around the filling. Remove the trimmings, then press down all around the edges with a fork. Re-roll the trimmings into another 10cm square and another 15cm square and repeat the process, so you have 5 altogether.

Brush the pithiviers with more egg wash, then score them lightly to get the sort of spirally pattern you can see on mine. Dust with icing sugar, then bake at 200 degrees – the recipe says for 15-20 minutes but mine took nearly an hour to crisp up underneath, no idea why! Serve hot with a dollop of cream – delicious 🙂

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As this month’s Tea Time Treats challenge, hosted by Karen at Lavender and Lovage, is all about chocolate I’m going to enter these for that as well – three challenges in one, brilliant!

tea time treats

Bacon chocolate cupcakes

Down the road from my office is a van, occupied by a man called Bacon Dave. You can guess what gourmet delights come from his van…

Bacon Dave is very popular with my colleagues, particularly the boys, and so when one of their birthdays came around I decided that whatever I made would have to contain bacon – whether it tasted nice or not.

I wanted to go down the chocolate route, because if there’s anything that will make bacon taste ok, that’s it. I found a recipe by Simon Rimmer which I used as the base recipe, then just tweaked it by throwing in some caramelised white chocolate chunks for extra sweetness and switching the frosting to a simple cocoa buttercream.

The reactions were very, VERY mixed. The birthday boy actually had a cold and said he couldn’t taste the bacon, whereas another colleague thought the bacon was overwhelming and didn’t like it.

I thought it was weird, but I had more of an issue with the texture than the taste. My housemate on the other hand loved them and ate two, so I guess it just comes down to personal taste!

If you like bacon it might be worth giving these a go, but for me I don’t think I’ll be likely to use bacon in anything sweet for quite a while…

Bacon chocolate cupcakes (adapted from Simon Rimmer’s recipe)

  • 6 slices bacon, grilled until crispy
  • 75g milk chocolate
  • 75g white chocolate
  • 115g plain flour
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 medium egg
  • 25ml strong coffee, cooled
  • 115ml sour cream
  • 60ml vegetable oil

For the icing:

  • 60g butter
  • 150g icing sugar
  • 30g cocoa powder
  • 1-2 tbsp milk

Start by melting the milk chocolate, then crumble up the bacon and mix two thirds of it into the chocolate. Spread this out on a piece of baking paper or tin foil and leave to set. Make the caramelised white chocolate by chopping the chocolate and placing in a baking dish in the oven on a low temperature. Stir every 5-10 minutes until it’s golden and caramelised, then stir in 1/2 tsp salt and spread out on baking paper or foil to set, as with the milk chocolate. When both are completely set, chop into chunks ready to use in the cupcakes.

To make the cake mix, sift all the dry ingredients together into a large bowl and mix well. In another bowl beat together all the wet ingredients, then fold this into the dry mix along with the chocolate chips. Divide the mixture between 9-10 large cupcake cases and bake at 180 degrees (160 fan) for 20-25 minutes, or until well risen and a skewer comes out clean.

For the icing, beat the butter to soften, then sift in half the sugar and beat to combine. Sift in the remaining sugar and cocoa powder and beat again. Once it comes together, add a tablespoon of milk and keep beating until light and fluffy, adding a little more milk if necessary. Spread the icing over the cooled cupcakes, then sprinkle the remaining bits on top.

Delicious?!

Ginger chocolate crinkle cookies

I’m so into ginger right now. It happens every winter – I get completely and utterly obsessed with warming winter spices, with ginger and cinnamon topping the list.

I bought a jar of stem ginger to make some ginger shortbread biscuits for my stepdad to give to his mum (apparently she says all the ones you can get in the shops are ‘wishy washy’ and not gingery enough) and to stop myself just eating the leftovers straight from the jar I decided to make these.

I was inspired by a recipe from Technicolour Kitchen, but after looking at a few blogs decided to base them on these chocolate crinkle cookies, from 17 and Baking.

I pretty much followed it to the letter, apart from making a quarter of the quantity and adding some of the finely chopped stem ginger.

The resulting cookies were exactly what I hoped for – appearance wise they were spot on with the pretty crackly tops, the texture was chewy, and the flavour of the ginger came though subtly, but definitely noticeably.

I would definitely make these again, and perhaps try some other flavour combinations, but for now ginger and chocolate is one that can’t be beaten!

Ginger chocolate crinkle cookies (adapted from 17 and Baking)

  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 60g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 50g icing sugar (ish)
  • 30g finely chopped stem ginger

Mix together the cocoa powder, caster sugar and oil, then add in the egg and vanilla and beat well. Sift together the flour, baking powder, ground ginger, cinnamon and salt and stir this into the mixture with the chopped ginger, until everything is combined. Chill the dough in the fridge for as long as you can, overnight is best, before rolling into balls (I think I got 15 or 16 from this batch).

Heat the oven to 180 degrees (160 fan) and line a baking tray with baking paper. Put the icing sugar in a small bowl, then roll each of the cookie balls in it to coat completely. Arrange on the tray, a couple of inches apart from each other, and bake for 10 to 12 minutes – they should spread so the tops crack and look all pretty. Leave to cool on the tray for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling completely.

Happy New Year, and a healthy new recipe

Happy New Year!

I hope everyone had a fantastic Christmas and New Year – mine was a little hectic with moving house as well as lots of baking, but it was definitely a good one.

For New Year’s Eve, I headed up to Oxford to visit friends for a house party, and made the cake pictured above to take – a cinnamon sponge with milk chocolate filling and white chocolate frosting. I didn’t get any photos of the inside, so I’m going to make it again and wait until then to share the recipe – it’s a good one though, I promise!

For now, I’m going to give you another recipe, which I think is rather fitting for my first post of the new year – healthy chilli chocolate butternut brownies.

(Pro photo courtesy of http://www.seangeephotography.com)

I made several attempts last year at making healthier vegetable-based brownies, using a butternut squash recipe from Delicious and a sweet potato recipe from Dan Lepard at the Guardian.

I wasn’t entirely happy with either, but I think I finally cracked it with this recipe, which uses butternut squash to replace the fat, and can also easily be made wheat and gluten free by swapping the 25g of flour for more cocoa powder.

Cut into 12 slices, it comes in at 200 calories per slice – ridiculous for such a decadent tasting treat, and perfect for anyone on a new year health kick.

I also added a quarter teaspoon of scotch bonnet chilli mash, from the Bad Boy Chilli Company, which is based not far from me in Lostwithiel, Cornwall. You only need a tiny bit of the mash to give the brownies a really fiery kick, so use with caution!

Although the chilli does pack a spicy punch, the sweetness of the white chocolate balances it out, and these were a big hit with all of my taste testers when I made them.

I would definitely recommend giving this recipe a go, whether or not you’re starting 2014 with healthy intentions. I’m not planning any huge changes to my diet (cakes aplenty!) but I am going to be trying out some new classes at the gym to try and tone up and increase my fitness – I’ll keep you updated with how it goes…

Healthy chilli chocolate butternut brownies (loosely adapted from Delicious)

  • 330g butternut squash, peeled and diced
  • 100g dark chocolate
  • ¼ tsp Scotch Bonnet Mash
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 65g cocoa powder
  • 25g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 100g white chocolate, chopped

Start by microwaving the butternut squash for about 10 minutes, or until you can cut through it like butter.  Stir in the dark chocolate until melted, then blend with a stick blender to get rid of all lumps. Add the chilli – if you’re worried about it being too hot start with less and add more if you think it needs it.

Whisk the eggs with the caster sugar until the mixture triples in volume, then fold in the cocoa powder, flour and baking powder.  Finally, fold through the chocolate squash mixture and the white chocolate chunks and spread the mixture into an 8×8” square tin, lined with baking paper.

Bake at 180 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until just set. Leave to cool completely in the tin, then cut into squares to serve.

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As this is the first time I’ve baked anything with the Bad Boy Chilli Company’s Scotch Bonnet Mash, I’m going to enter them into this month’s We Should Cocoa Challenge, hosted by Linzi at Lancashire Food, who chose ‘new ingredient’ as the theme. I love trying out new things, so this may not be my only entry, we’ll see!

Hazelnut and salted caramel bûche de Noël

When I signed up for the Plymouth Chamber Christmas Bake Off, all I really wanted was to do well enough to get to the final week, as the theme was cake and I much prefer baking cakes to biscuits, bread or pastry.

However, by the time I got there, down to the final three contestants, I’d be lying if I said a bit of competitiveness hadn’t started to creep in.

I had to create a festive-themed showstopper cake, and knew straight away that I wanted to do a bûche de Noël – the question was, how would I make it stand out against the other two entries?

Decoration was one of the judging criteria, so I knew I had to go over the top. Giant cake board, covered in green sugarpaste, meringue mushrooms, holly leaves and berries, a fondant robin, gold almond pine cone and even a little ladybird, added at the last minute to fill a gap in the forest floor.

I struggled more deciding on what flavours to go with, but fate intervened when I had to go and meet with a chef for work – the fantastic Tom Milby from the Pandora Inn at Restronguet Creek, on the south coast of Cornwall.

I told Tom one of the options I was considering was salted caramel, and he suggested pairing it with something nutty – and then gave me a tub of the most beautiful Callebaut hazelnut praline paste, which is what turned a good cake into an amazing one.

I folded the praline into whipped cream for the filling, and made a salted caramel chocolate ganache to cover the cake. The two flavours complimented each other perfectly, and I was very happy with the outcome.

The judging of the final round of the bake off was led by Chris Tanner, one half of the Tanner Brothers who own two excellent restaurants in Plymouth and are cookery tv show regulars.

So, how did I do? Well, I won!! Amazing! Apparently my cake was ‘the clear winner’, and Chris said he loved all my detailing and decoration as well as the taste.

My prizes are a bread baking masterclass at the Devonport Column Bakehouse, and tickets to see Paul Hollywood when he brings his tour to Plymouth next year. Aside from the prizes though, I’m just thrilled to have won, and for an actual proper chef to say he likes my baking! Such an awesome Christmas present 🙂

Hazelnut and salted caramel bûche de Noël (loosely adapted from a Mary Berry yule log recipe and a Hummingbird Bakery chocolate ganache)

  • 4 medium eggs
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 65g plain flour
  • 40g cocoa powder

For the filling:

  • 200ml whipping cream
  • 100g hazelnut praline paste

For the ganache icing:

  • 200g caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup
  • 180ml double cream
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 250g dark chocolate, chopped

For the sponge, whisk together the eggs and sugar until really light and fluffy and tripled in volume – at least 4-5 minutes of whisking. Sift in the flour and cocoa powder, and fold in gently, taking care not to knock the air out of the mixture. Spread into a 14×10″ baking tin, lined with baking paper, and bake at 200 degrees (180 fan) for 8-10 minutes,  or until springy and pulling away from the edges of the tin.

Lay out another piece of baking paper and dust liberally with icing sugar. Turn out the sponge onto the paper, and peel off the backing paper from the underneath of the sponge. Score a line along one of the long edges of the sponge, about 1″ from the edge, then starting from that side tightly roll up the sponge and leave to cool.

To make the cream filling, whip the cream until it forms soft peaks. Fold a third of it into the hazelnut praline to loosen the mixture, then fold in the rest.

For the ganache, heat the caster sugar and golden syrup in a saucepan with 60ml of water. Heat the cream and salt in a separate pan and set aside. Keep the caramel pan on the heat and simmer until it turns a lovely deep golden colour, then quickly whisk in the heated cream mixture, stirring until it stops bubbling.

Pour the caramel over the chopped chocolate, and stir until all the chocolate melts. Leave to cool to room temperature, when it should be a spreadable consistency. If it seems too thick, you can reheat and add a little more cream, then leave it to cool again.

To assemble, unroll the sponge and spread the hazelnut cream all over. Re-roll as tightly as you can, then trim the two ends to neaten it. Cut the log a third of the way down at a 45 degree angle, to create a piece to use as the branch. Place the two pieces on whatever cake board or serving plate you’re using, then cover with the chocolate ganache. To get the bark-like effect, I just used a butter knife to roughly spread the icing lengthways down the log, then swirled it on the ends of the branches.

Dust with icing sugar and serve!

If you want to make meringue mushrooms, there’s a great tutorial over on Sprinkle Bakes – they’re easier than they look, but they are very fragile – at least a third of mine broke before getting anywhere near the cake!

Christmas profiteroles

I know I’ve been slow updating on my progress in the Bake Off competition I mentioned previously, and anyone who follows me on Twitter will already know the outcome, but here’s my week 3 pastry round update – I made profiteroles and got through to the final!

These are chocolate choux buns, with a chocolate orange and brandy cream filling, decorated with white chocolate and holly berries and leaves, to look like mini Christmas puddings.

For the competition, I decided I needed to up the ante on presentation, so I also made fondant icing snowmen and penguins, which turned out rather cute if I do say so myself!

The actual profiteroles were great, a festive flavour combination that would hopefully please anyone who doesn’t like actual Christmas pudding.

The judges must have liked them too, as I was put through to the final round, in which I went head to head with two other bakers  in the festive cake round – I will probably post the update on that when I can’t stand any more family Christmas time tomorrow…

Christmas profiteroles (adapted from Holly Bell’s recipe)

  • 60g cold butter, cubed
  • 150ml cold water
  • 55g strong white flour
  • 10g cocoa powder
  • 10g caster sugar
  • 2 medium eggs

For filling and decorating

  • 75g marscapone
  • 50g orange flavoured dark chocolate
  • 100ml whipping cream
  • 1-2 tsp brandy
  • 50g white chocolate
  • holly leaf and berry decorations (I got mine from Asda)

Start by getting all your ingredients laid out, as there’s no time for faffing about when making profiteroles! Holly’s instructions for making the pastry and baking the profiteroles are pretty comprehensive so I won’t repeat them, just add in the cocoa powder at the same time as the flour and sugar.

For the filling, start by melting the chocolate in a small bowl. Leave to cool, then beat in the marscapone and brandy (to taste, my taste is for a strong kick!) In a separate bowl, whisk the cream until it forms soft peaks, then fold into the chocolate mixture a third at a time. Use a piping bag to fill each of the profiteroles, piping into the hole you made to let the steam out.

To decorate, melt the white chocolate then spoon on top of each bun, letting it run down the sides. Add a few leaves and berries, then leave to set.

Someone at work said they were like profiterole canapes, which I think is a great idea if you’re having a Christmas party! Just keep them in the fridge and get them out about 30 mins before serving.

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As these do have a nice good glug of brandy in, I’m going to enter them into this month’s We Should Cocoa challenge, hosted by Choclette, who chose alcohol as the festive theme. Excellent choice!

Choccie Bar – handmade chocolates from Devon

choccie bar

Don’t you just love when fate smiles upon you and everything seems to fall right into place?

This happened to me a few weeks ago, when I read an article in Food magazine about a chocolate company based in Broadclyst, near Exeter.

The article referred to a tasting club, where the chocolatier would take on board the suggestions of the tasters and actually create the chocolates they came up with.

I thought it sounded interesting, so I looked up the company online and fired off a quick email to find out more. I received the most lovely response from the chocolate maker herself, Katie, saying that it was a bit short notice, and she had no idea where in the country I lived, but she was holding a launch event for her new online store in Exeter the following and would I like to go.

Would I? Of course! And I’m so glad I did, because the launch event was fabulous. To give it a bit of a twist, Katie teamed up with several local clothing stores to put on a chocolate fashion show, with models wearing outfits that reflected her range of chocolates.

There were of course plenty of chocolate samples being handed out, which gave me my first taste of how good Choccie Bar products are.

The stand out chocolates sampled on the night were definitely the chilli chocolate collection – three after dinner chocolates, to be eaten in a specific order.

First up, a chilli-infused strawberry ganache, coated in dark chocolate. As far as I’m concerned there’s nothing worse than being offered chilli and getting nothing more than a slight tingle on your tongue, so I was delighted that this chocolate had a proper kick to it.

Next, ginger flavoured chocolate, which was milder in heat but still full of flavour and with a pleasant sweetness that takes the edge off the chilli eaten previously.

The third chocolate is a coconut filled heart, which cools and soothes your taste buds and leaves a lovely tropical aftertaste. Seriously, after trying these you will never want to go back to after dinner mints, they are seriously that good!

Katie, second from the left, with Emma Ravensfield of Exeter Alternative Theatre and fashion show host Celia Delaney

Katie, second from the left, with Emma Ravensfield of Exeter Alternative Theatre and fashion show host Celia Delaney

I was lucky enough to have a chance to chat with Katie after the fashion show, and she very kindly gave me a goodie bag to take away, with a box of 18 more delicious handmade chocolates, and a solid chocolate masquerade mask.

When I opened the mask, I only intended to nibble a corner, but it was such good quality milk chocolate that I ended up scoffing it all there and then.

I was a little more restrained with the box of chocolates and made them last a couple of weeks, tasting just a few at a time. There was a good mixture of fruit, nut and caramel flavours – my personal favourites were the strawberry creme (despite normally hating those!) and the lemongrass, both of which were very different to any I’ve tried before and absolutely delicious.

Now the online boutique is up and running, you can order boxes of chocolates and choose which you’d like in them – so you’ll never have the problem of those one or two flavours that no one likes sitting around unloved!

With Christmas on the way, these would make a fab present, but if I’m completely honest I’m far more likely to buy them for myself as they’re a bit too good to share!

I love getting to meet local food producers down here in the South West, and I’m so glad that I stumbled across Choccie Bar at just the right time, and had the chance to meet Katie and taste some seriously good chocolates.

Go check out Choccie Bar for yourself – I promise you won’t be disappointed!

Black bottom cupcakes

Black bottom cupcakes

I first saw black bottom cupcakes somewhere in the blogosphere, or perhaps on Pinterest, I can’t quite remember – but I do remember thinking cheesecake baked into cupcakes had to be amazing, and they immediately earned a spot on my to-bake list.

Quite a while after first seeing them, I found out that the recipe came from the Hummingbird Bakery, and when I visited the Soho branch in the summer, black bottom was my friend’s cupcake of choice,  so I got to try my first bite.

The real thing…

It was every bit as good as it sounds, and the cream cheese icing makes it – over the top for sure, but absolutely delicious.

When my lovely colleague leant me Hummingbird’s first cookbook and I spotted the recipe for black bottom cupcakes, I knew the time had come to try making them for myself.

Unfortunately, although these look ok, I was actually quite disappointed with how they turned out. Everyone who tried them liked them, but having tried one from the bakery I could tell they weren’t up to scratch.

The chocolate cake batter was very thick, which I expected, but it baked up a little on the dry side. The cheesecake mix on the other hand was very thin, so rather than swirling into the cake it just sat in a layer on top, which I don’t think it how it’s supposed to work.

The icing I can’t fault, but Hummingbird’s cream cheese frosting is my all-time favourite, and has never let me down.

I am very willing to accept that the reason these didn’t work out as well as I’d hoped could be baker error rather than a fault with the recipe, so I may have to try it again – but in all likelihood, I’ll probably just wait until the next time I’m in London and buy one instead…

I won’t write up the recipe as I didn’t change a thing, and they obviously didn’t go as well as I’d hoped, but if you want to have a go you can either buy the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook or check it out on the Delicious Magazine website.

Biscoff chocolate chip cookie showdown

Biscoff chocolate chip cookie showdown

I’m just going to come right out and say it – I have an addiction.

Normally, my will power is pretty good. A cake can be sat under a dome, and I can walk right by. A bar of chocolate can be open, I’ll eat 4 squares and leave it at that.

When it comes to Biscoff though (or Lotus caramelised biscuit spread to be precise), I go weak. I buy a jar, use half in a recipe, then within a few days the rest has been eaten by the spoonful.

Because of this, I decided that from now on whenever I open a jar for a recipe, I need to use it all at once. And that seemed like as good a reason as any to carry out a biscoff chocolate chip cookie comparison – a test of two very different recipes, to see which would turn out the best.

First up was one I bookmarked a white ago from Averie Cooks, for Softbatch Cookie Butter Brown Sugar Cookies. These didn’t have chocolate chips, but looked thick, puffy and delicious – surely the addition of chocolate could only make things better…

This recipe doesn’t use any butter, and only brown sugar, which naturally resulted in a darker cookie with a more toffee-like taste. It also adds extra cinnamon, which boosts the flavour of the Biscoff and is definitely a worthwhile addition.

My biggest issue with these was that the dough was very oily and not the easiest to work with, but the oiliness does disappear once they’re baked.

The first batch I baked were a little overdone, and ended up slightly on the crisp side, but they actually softened over the next couple of days, and the second batch cooked for a minute less were perfect.

The second recipe was this one, from Buttercream Fanatic. It uses a mix of butter and Biscoff, and combines light brown sugar with caster sugar. I didn’t bother rolling them in sugar, and couldn’t get cinnamon chips so used all chocolate (although I can only imagine how awesome they’d be with extra cinnamon).

This version baked a lot softer an chewier, and are much lighter in colour as you can see. I’m still a bit undecided on which look the best – the chocolate chips stand out more in these, but the darkness of the first ones reminds me of gingernuts, which I love…

Both of these cookies have their merits, and I liked them both. My dad preferred Buttercream Fanatic’s, my uncle liked Averie’s, and both batches that I took into work disappeared pretty swiftly!

I think my ideal Biscoff cookie might actually be a combination of both, using Buttercream Fanatic’s base recipe, but with all brown sugar and added cinnamon. I also think a combination of white and dark chocolate would work better than milk – which sounds like a pretty good excuse to make them again!

Biscoff chocolate chip cookie 1 (adapted from Averie Cooks)

  • 260g smooth caramelised biscuit spread
  • 1 medium egg
  • 1 tbsp vanilla bean paste
  • 150g light brown sugar
  • 100g plain flour
  • 10g cornflour
  • 1.5 tsp cinnamon
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • pinch salt
  • 100g milk chocolate, chopped

Beat the Biscoff, egg, vanilla paste and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes (apparently over-beating can cause oiliness, so maybe that’s where I went wrong). Sift together the flour, cinnamon, bicarb and salt and then fold into the mixture. Finally, mix in the chopped chocolate and then roll into balls – I got 18 out of this batch, and weighed them so they were all the same. Flatten the balls down a little, and then chill in the fridge for at least 3 hours.

Place spaced out on a baking sheet and bake at 180 degrees (160 fan) for 8-9 minutes, or until the tops are just beginning to set – DON”T OVERBAKE! Leave to cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Biscoff chocolate chip cookie 2 (adapted from Buttercream Fanatic)

  • 55g butter
  • 100g smooth caramelised biscuit spread
  • 25g caster sugar
  • 75g light brown sugar
  • 1 small egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 100g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • Pinch salt
  • 75g milk chocolate, chopped

Beat together the butter and Biscoff, then add in both sugars and continue to beat until well mixed. Add the egg and vanilla and beat again, then sift together the flour, bicarb, baking powder and salt and fold into the batter. Stir in the chopped chocolate, then either roll into balls if you can, or chill in the fridge first to firm it up a little, which is what I had to do. I got 12 cookies out of this batch.

The recipe says you don’t have to chill these, but I did to be on the safe side. Once chilled, place spaced out on a baking sheet, flatten down a little, and then bake at 180 degrees (160 fan) for approximately 10 minutes – they take longer than the first recipe, but you still don’t want to overcook them. Leave to cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.