Carrot cake blondies

Chewy blondies flavoured with warming spices, grated carrot and chopped walnuts, finished with a cream cheese swirl.

A delicious modern take on a classic bake, this recipe is perfect for Easter, spring and autumn.

Ingredients (makes 12 blondies)

For the blondies:

170g self-raising flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (optional)
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (optional)
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves (optional)
170g unsalted butter
225g light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 medium eggs, at room temperature
100g chopped walnuts
1 large carrot (approximately 150g), grated

For the cream cheese swirl:

1 teaspoon vanilla
1 medium egg yolk
50g caster sugar
120g cream cheese, at room temperature

Method

Preheat oven to 180°C and line a 23cm square baking tray with greaseproof paper.

Start by making your blondie mixture.

First combine the flour and spices together in a bowl. Set aside. In a separate bowl melt the butter until it turns to liquid. Add the light brown sugar and mix until combined. Add the eggs and vanilla extract and mix. Add the flour and fold everything together. Now add the grated carrots and chopped walnuts and fold together until combined.

Now make your cheesecake mixture.

Place the vanilla, egg yolk, sugar and cream cheese in a bowl and mix until smooth and creamy. If you have an electric whisk i’d recommend using it.

Transfer half of the carrot cake mixture into the baking tin. Drop spoonfuls of 1/2 of the cheesecake mixture over the top. Don’t swirl just yet! Drop spoonfuls of the rest of the carrot cake mixture on top of this and then follow with the remaining cheesecake batter. Using the tip of a knife swirl the two mixtures together.

Bake for 25 minutes. The edges will be brown and the centre should be set. Cool completely in the baking tin before removing and slicing.

White chocolate Easter Cheesecake

A crumbly biscuit base, topped with creamy white chocolate cheesecake and decorated with a chocolate nest filled with chocolate eggs. A showstopper desert to roundoff your Easter lunch celebrations.

For the biscuit base you will need…

300g Digestive biscuits
150g Unsalted Butter

For the cheesecake filling…

2 x 180g tubs of Philadelphia cream cheese
75g icing sugar
300ml double cream
200g white chocolate

For the decoration…

8 x Flake chocolate bars
3 x packets of chocolate eggs (I used Mini-eggs, Galaxy golden eggs and Smartie eggs)
A couple of fluffy Easter chicks

Let’s get baking

Line the bottom of a 23cm/8inch round lose-bottomed tin with grease proof paper.

Start with the base. Crush the biscuits to fine crumbs (I used a blender to speed this part up) and transfer to a bowl.

Melt the butter in the microwave in 10 second blasts until liquid and pour over the crushed biscuits. Mix through until the crumbs are fully coated.

Tip the mixture into the prepared tin and press firmly down into the base to create an even layer. Chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to set firmly.

Once set, move onto the cheesecake. Break the white chocolate up into a microwaveable bowl and melt in 10 second blasts until smooth. Leave to cool.

Add the cream cheese and icing sugar to a bowl and use an handheld or electric whisk to beat until smooth. Add the double cream and beat again until thick and creamy. Pour in the cooled white chocolate and mix through until fully combined.

Spoon the mixture on top of the biscuit base and spread out into an ever layer. Chill in the fridge for at least four hours or overnight for best results.

To decorate. Chop the Flake bars into thirds and stack them in a circle leaving the middle empty. Sprinkle the crumbs around the outside of the nest. Fill the middle of the nest with your different eggs and finish by perching a fluffy chick on top!

Malteser Bunny Cupcakes

Malteser brownie cupcakes, topped with white chocolate grass, edible flowers, and an irresistible Malteser bunny. These cupcakes have a wow factor look and taste, and will give you a chance to test your piping skills.

Ingredients (makes 12 cupcakes)

80g self-raising flour
65g cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
100g light brown sugar
100g caster sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
80ml sunflower oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
120ml buttermilk
2 x Teasers chocolate bar, chopped into small chunks

For the decoration:

125g unsalted butter (soft, at room temp.)
250g icing sugar
100g white chocolate
Green gel food colouring
3 packets of Mini-Malteser Bunnies
12 edible flower decorations – I used these ones from Sainsbury’s, most supermarkets will have some in their baking section
Piping bag fitted with a grass nozzle

Let’s get baking…

Preheat your oven to 180°C and line a 12 hole cupcake baking tray with your favourite liners.

Sift the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder into a bowl. Stir until combined.

In a separate bowl, mix together the eggs, two sugars, oil and vanilla extract until smooth.

Now pour half of the dry ingredients into the wet, followed by half of the buttermilk. Mix together until combined. Repeat this step until all the ingredients are fully incorporated.

Throw in the chopped Teasers bars and mix through. Fill each cupcake case with the mixture about 3/4 of the way, leaving a little gap at the top to allow them to rise.

Bake in the oven for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of one comes out clean. Leave to cool.

Now for the icing and decorating…

Beat the butter until pale in colour and fluffy. Sift in half the icing sugar and add 1/2 tbsp of milk, beat until no lumps remain.

Sift in the rest of the icing sugar, 1/2 tbsp milk and vanilla extract and beat together for approx. 3-5 mins until the buttercream is soft, smooth and fluffy.

Melt the white chocolate in the microwave in 10 second blasts. Pour into the buttercream and mix through.

Add a couple of drops of green food colouring and mix through until the desired colour is reached. Transfer the icing to your piping bag fitted with a grass shaped nozzle.

Pipe the buttercream in short upward movements…

Place a edible flower on each one, followed by a bunny sitting upright.

Chocolate Fudge Cake with Milk Chocolate Buttercream

Have a look at this….

SONY DSC

…these are the hundreds of left over chocolate eggs after our Easter Egg hunt last weekend! And, this was after we had overloaded as many as possible to family/friends/friends of friends/friends of friends of friends! So I was sat staring at the bowl thinking ‘I can’t possibly eat any more chocolate’ and began daydreaming of chocolate recipes.

And so I present to you two layers of rich, moist chocolate fudge cake sandwiched together with creamy milk chocolate frosting (tastes like Milkyway!) and decorated with chocolate shards. For me the chocolate sponge is the star of the show, it’s super indulgent, rich and moist.

SONY DSC

Ingredients (makes 1 large cake)

For the cake:
250g self-raising flour
400g caster sugar
88g unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon espresso powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
250ml semi-skimmed milk
250ml boiling water
2 large eggs
110ml sunflower oil

For the milk chocolate buttercream:
170g milk chocolate, chopped into chunks
85g dark chocolate, chopped into chunks
340g unsalted butter, at room temperature
312g icing sugar
2 tablespoons semi-skimmed milk, to loosen

For the decoration:
Milk/dark/white chocolate (I used left-over Easter eggs!)

Method

Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Prepare two 8-inch cake pans by first spraying with baking spray or brushing with butter and then lining with greaseproof paper (see below for instructions).

Start by making the cake.

Add the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder and espresso powder to a large bowl. Use a whisk to mix the ingredients until they are well combined.

Now add the milk, sunflower oil, eggs and vanilla extract to the bowl and use an electric whisk set to a medium speed to mix all ingredients together until well combined.

Reduce the speed and carefully add the boiling water bit by bit. Don’t worry if the mixture looks very runny, once baked the cake will be super fudgy and moist. Finally, beat on a high speed for 1 minute to add air to the mixture (little bubbles should start to form on top!).

Distribute the cake mixture evenly between the two prepared cake pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave to completely cool.

Once the cakes are cool remove them from the tins and begin making your buttercream.

Melt the dark and milk chocolate together in the microwave, 20 seconds at at time stirring in between blasts, until smooth.

In a separate bowl beat together the butter and icing sugar with a wooden spoon/electric whisk until fluffy and smooth. Now fold in the melted chocolate until fully incorporated. If the buttercream is starting to feel a little stiff, add a tablespoon of milk at a time and mix into the buttercream to loosen it.

Take one layer of your cake and place it on a serving plate. Spread a thick even layer of buttercream on top and then place the second cake layer on top upside down. Now spread a thin layer of buttercream all over the top and sides of the cake and place in the fridge for 30min-1hour to set*.

Once set, spread the remaining buttercream across the top and sides of the cake and use an icing palette or blunt knife edge to give a smooth finish. Finally, break up the decoration chocolate into shards and decorate the top of the cake by pushing them into the icing.

*This is called a crumb coat and is meant to be messy, so don’t worry about being too perfect as it will just act as a smooth base for the next layer of buttercream. 

Cadbury’s Mini Egg and White Chocolate Cookies

Soft baked cookies filled with crushed Mini Eggs and chunks of white chocolate.

SONY DSC

Ingredients (makes 12 large cookies)

100g unsalted butter, soft at room temperature
50g granulated sugar
75g light brown sugar
1 medium egg + 1 egg yolk, cold from the fridge
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
150g self-raising flour
2 bags of Cadbury Mini-Eggs (180g), crushed into pieces (I used a wooden spoon to bash them)
100g white chocolate, chopped into chunks

Method

Preheat oven to 180°C. Line two baking trays with greaseproof paper.

In a medium bowl cream the butter and two sugars together until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract, crack in the eggs and mix together (don’t worry if the mixture has split, this is normal!).

Add the flour, chopped white chocolate & 100g of the crushed Mini Eggs and fold everything together until all ingredients are combined and a sticky dough has formed. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and place in the fridge for at least an hour/up to 3 days (the longer the better as your cookies will become super soft and chewy).

Once chilled, take approx. 1 tablespoon of cookie dough, roll it into a ball and place it onto the baking tray (do not flatten it out as the cookies will expand in the oven). Repeat this for all 12 cookies, leaving roughly 2 inches between each one. Press the remaining Mini Egg pieces into the tops of each cookie balls.

Bake in the oven for 11 minutes until the edges are a light golden brown but the middle still looks pale and underdone. Remove from the oven and leave to completely cool (the cookies will continue to cook as they cool so it’s important not to overbake them in the oven).