Friday, 24 October 2014

Mini Double Chocolate Pecan Pear Crumbles

You all know I like to experiment. A lot. Most of the time Mum is supportive of my meddling though I can usually tell her level of apprehension from her facial expression. Knowing her favourite flavours helps though so I knew I was onto a pretty safe bet when I first mentioned Paul Hollywood's recipe for a Pear and Pecan Crumble. 
I've had it bookmarked from his How to Bake book since I first got it fresh off the press and I finally made it a couple of months ago as a homecoming pudding when my parents had been away in Dorset. Mum was looking forward to it the entire journey home. There was only I didn't tell her. I had added extra chocolate to the crumble topping. 
Extra chocolate cannot be a bad thing. Can you remember this chunky blackberry hazelnut crumble where I first roasted the fruit in wine? Well these mini pear crumbles were the precursor to that. I felt a bit naughty rummaging about in the alchohol cupboard to find the semi-forgotten bottle of wine that I needed but I don't really know why. Maybe it was because it was the middle of the morning so dabbling with booze felt wrong even though I wasn't going to be drinking any. 
At the same time the bit of mischief felt good. Like the mildy disobedient child who furtively carries out plans with the best of intentions but knowing they may have their parents scowling. That little bit of nughtiness carries over ito the eating of these individual pots of autumn too. Underneath the intense darkly rich chocolate hit of the cocoa is the grounded nuttiness from the roughly chopped pecans and flaked almonds. Their time in the oven allows them to roast to perfection, mingling with the heady scents of the melting chocolate that forms between the crumble-fruit interface. The wine soaked pears sit sweetly in their own sauce waiting tenderly for their soft nature to be enjoyed juxtaposed to their crunchy topping.
At this time of year these crumbles would be the perfect way to use up any windfall harvest. That is actually where I got the fruit from for these despite me making them in August and only writing this post in October. Hey, what can I say, this is England. the weather does as it pleases. One way to please yourself though - add chocolate to your next fruit crumble.

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Mini Double Chocolate Pecan Pear Crumbles
Individual autumn crumbles made extra special by roasting the pears in wine and using chocolate in the crumble mixture.
  • 4oz ripe pears, peeled, cored and diced
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1  rounded tsp cornflour
  • 150 ml wine, white or red
  • 50g plain flour
  • 50g oats
  • 25g demerara sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 50g butter, chilled
  • 50g pecans, roughly chopped
  • 25g flaked almonds
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder
  • 50g dark chocolate, chopped
1. Heat the oven to 180 /160 fan. Toss the pears with the maple syrup and cornflour, divide between four ramekins and pour over the wine. Cover with foil and roast for about 20 mins until soft.2. Meanwhile, combine the flour, oats, sugar and cinnamon then rub in the butter. Stir through the cocoa powder then the pecans and almonds.3. When the pears are ready, remove the foil and sprinkle over the chocolate chips. Divide the crumble topping between the ramekins and return to the oven for another 20 minutes.4. When the nuts have coloured so they look toasted, remove from the oven and serve with custard, cream, ice cream etc.

I'm sending these mini crumbles off to the trick or treat/autumn themed Treat Petite, this month hosted by Kat, the Baking Explorer, who alternates with Cakeyboi Stuart. Also, by using the ancient wine I was given for my 18th birthday to make sure it didnt get chucked I reckon they are suitable for the No Waste Food Challenge, this month hosted by Vohn from Vohn's Vittles on behalf of Elizabeth from Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary. I can't resist adding them to Lucy's CookBlogShare at Supergolden Bakes too and because I've had it bookmarked from Paul Hollywood's How to Bake for so long I'd like to share it with Bookmarked Recipes, this month hosted by Katie from Feeding Boys and a Firefighter on belhalf of Jac at Tinned Tomatoes.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Individual Gnocchi Topped Pie and Men's Pie Manual Review

If I was to be asked what my favourite sweet thing to bake was, the answer would immediately be cakes. I LOVE cakes. If I was asked the same question for savoury the answer would be equally as fast: pies. Yes, I like all the healthy things. That is precisely the reason why I started jumping about in my chair when I got the chance to review Men's Pie Manual by Andrew Webb. 
Gnocchi Topped Chilli Pie from Men's Pie Manual by Andrew Webb book review
Normally I don't go in for the whole stereotyping thing. Sure, as a joke when one of my friends has been wound up by some bloke and needs a supportive 'Men!' but really I'm all for equality. For this book though, it works perfectly and yet I still didn't feel excluded. A bit like a Yorkie bar maybe (which I realllly like). Here's what I thought of the Pie Manual.
Gnocchi Topped Chilli Pie from Men's Pie Manual by Andrew Webb book review
 What I liked best
  • The styling and layout - The book is published by Haynes, the people who make manuals for just about every car model going. Although I've never had a car my dad has always bought their books so it is instantly recognisable. The layout is clear, the instructions simple and some of the photos are wonderfully homely and beautiful.
  • The fun - It's quite a chatty book, plus, by saying men need an instruction manual to bake pies, you know nothing inside the cover is going to take itself seriously. Plus, for those who really do need a manual to teach them how to bake pies, it really is informative so they can soon be wowing family, partners and friends in the kitchen.
Gnocchi Topped Chilli Pie from Men's Pie Manual by Andrew Webb book review
  • The recipes - Each recipe comes with a little bit of history and there is a good variety of recipes including meaty ones and vegetarian ones. Sweet pies are of course featured and there are sections for the basic types of pastry as well as pie accompaniments, as well as a chapter for 'things that are almost pies'. It is nice to see some traditional English pie recipes especially some harking back year . The World War Two classic recipe named after the head of the Ministry of Food, Lord Woolton pie is on my baking radar. I'll give you the recipe for another pie which really intrigued me (see photo) a bit later.
Gnocchi Topped Chilli Pie from Men's Pie Manual by Andrew Webb book review
There was very little which I thought could be improved so I had to be really picky. It seems strange to give instructions on how to make different types of pastry but then list shop bought in many of the recipes. Also, I'd like to have seen more potato topped pies. A potato topping can give equally delicious but quicker results if you are pushed for time. Finally, and this is just a difference of opinion with the author, tomato ketchup is NOT just for children and it deserves to go on every pie in the book. End of. If he can say it shouldn't go anywhere near a pie because it is his book, British Pie Awards judge or not, then I can say otherwise because it is my review!
Gnocchi Topped Chilli Pie from Men's Pie Manual by Andrew Webb book review
I struggled to pick a recipe to make from the Pie Manual but eventually settled on a gnocchi topped pie because I think it exemplifies to resourcefulness that pies are. The author says use any pie filling you want to top with potato so it is the perfect way to use up leftovers and save yourself a bit of money. I recently made this slow cooker apple pie chilli which is AMAZING and I wanted to have another portion of it. Hence why I ran out to buy some gnocchi (no time for making my own!), whacked it on top of the chilli in a cute dish and scattered over some cheese. A quick flash under the grill or bake it from cold and that's it. Comfort food heaven of a warming, spicy and savoury fruity chilli base hidden under a crown of lovely golden cheesy potato dumplings. Would I recommend buying the book? Absolutely. And what a stroke of luck, Christmas is on it's way soon.......
The Men's Pie Manual is out on 2nd October 2014 from priced £21.99. 

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Individual Gnocchi Topped Pie
 A wonderfully comforting pie which will provide comfort and sustenance through the autun and winter months. Choose whatever filling you wish, cover with gnocchi an load up with your favourite cheese.
  • Approx 200g leftover pie filling or enough for your chosen pie dish
  • 125g gnocchi
  • 1 tsp butter
  • A small handful grated cheese of your choice
1. Reheat your pie filling in the microwave until piping hot.2. Meanwhile, boil the gnocchi for a few mins until they float to the top of the pan. Alternatively cover with boiling water in a large bowl and microwave for a few mins until they stary to float. 3. Drain the gnocchi and toss with the butter so it melts. Place the pie filling in your pie dish. Cover the top with the buttery gnocchi either neatly by placing each one carefully or roughly. Cover with the grated cheese.4. Place under a hot grill until bubbling and golden or in a preheated oven at approximately 200 C/180 C for about 20 mins. Serve immediately. (With ketchup!)

By using leftover pie filling for this unusual recipe it makes it suitable for Credit Crunch Munch, this month hosted by Hannah from A New Addiction on behalf of Camilla at Fab Food 4 All and Helen from Fuss Free Flavours. For the same reason I'm also sending it off to Vohn at Vohn's Vittles who is hosting the No Waste Food Challenge for Elizabeth from Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary this month.
Disclaimer: I was sent a copy of Men's Pie Manual to review and my musings were not required to be positive. All images are my own. 

Sunday, 19 October 2014

The Bakehouse - Farnley Market Review

When life throws a gem in your path you drop what you are doing and pick it up. You know it will be worth it, worth having to load back up with what your were doing because the break will be sweet. That is exactly what happened when I was invited to go and have a chat with Steve and Simone from the newly opened Bakehouse at Farnley Market, champion of all things local.
The Bakehouse first caught my eye when I saw something about its opening event pop up on Facebook via the local paper and as much as I thought it was a brilliant concept, I did wonder if it would work. So many people have dreams of opening heir own bakery and selling locally produced goods but they haven't got the knowledge or plans to back them up. It took me all of thirty seconds of being on the premises to make me think I was wrong and perhaps another 15 seconds of talking to Steve to know I was wrong. I was impressed. Seriously impressed. 
secret recipe Valrhona brownie
I mean, come on, how could I not be when presented with a brownie like that. The range of products on display was only one of the things that got my attention though. First and foremost was the atmosphere. I'm not sure it could have been more perfect. The whole place felt alive with passion and dedication which filtered through from the busy kitchen to the comfort of the equally busy, yet perfectly relaxed, content and not at all packed cafe seating area. Even at 3pm people were still arriving for a drink and a cake, selecting their seat from just enough choice to show the popularity of the place without it being crowded or too close. Others were sauntering in for their choice of freshly baked bread - and I mean fresh, Steve had to keep running off to check on a batch of beer bread which one customer bought a loave of pretty much straight from the oven. If it wasn't bread it was one of the home made pastries or classic cakes or biscuits for afternoon tea.
Pain au raisin
The location only adds to the atmosphere. Nestled down a little country lane opposite the Golden Cock pub in Farnley Tyas, Huddersfield, the bakery is easy enough to access but out of the way enough for customers to be able to enjoy the peace that country surroundings bring. The view of fields out of the shop front window would help anyone to unwind - I should know, I left a stressful literature review write up to go for my visit and I didn't want to leave when the time came. The location really helps to force home the message that when you are eating is locally produced. Honey, preservesIn fact, the product with the furthest food miles besides the olives (I think we can make an exception for those due to the wonderful British weather) is probably the Yummy Yorkshire ice cream, made abour four miles away.
Flour for the bread comes from a local mill, eggs, honey, preserves and cheeses from local farms and the veg that goes into the daily soups comes from a patch half a mile away. If the veg isn't seasonal that you won't get it in your soup. Simple as. Steve was really adamant wbout that. Eating in season reduces food miles even further and teases out creativity to produce something wonderful with what is available. Steve has really done his research too, having trained at the Artisan School of Cookery in Wellbeck before setting up the venture and gathering together an army of local producers to fill the shelves with a gorgeous array of groceries.
Simone, Steve's wife and business partner who I'm a little sad I didn't get chance to talk to more, looks after the customers, events and running of the business, putting into practice Steve's entrepreneurial ideas and providing the steady support that all businesses need for them to grow. One of these ideas, which I'm pleased to say has proved (no joke intended I promise) to be a success last week is a new proving method for the pastries to get them ready and baked in time for the breakfast customers. I sat there in awe listening to Steve describe when he had built to make this work, a nod to his engineering background. I won't say anymore though - when you visit for yourself you can ask and I'm sure you'll be amazed at the ingenuity of it too. 
I have so much more to say about the Bakehouse, from their oh so chocolatey brownies to their blissful buttery pain aux raisin but that would take me all day, meaning less time for you to go and visit. Normally with a review I like to do a 'what I thought could be better' section too but in this instance I really can't think of anything. Errrr, make my Apple Almond Traybake recipe on of the daily cakes sometime maybe? Seriously though, if you are ever in the Huddersfiled area the Bakehouse is one of the places you need to visit. Go say hi over at their Facebook page or on Twitter where you can also keep up with their product news. Get there early to get your choice of loaf named after a local landmark or maybe a scone and a cup of tea. You won't regret it. Say hi to Simone and Steve for me. I wish them and their future expansion plans all the best of luck. I hope to be back soon.

Disclaimer: I was invited to the Bakehouse to see their premises and I was not required to write a positive review. I was also too busy enjoying the bakery to take my own photos apart from the brownie and the pain aux raisin so all other images belong to the Bakehouse.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Slow Cooker Apple Pie Chilli

How many of of you have a slow cooker? I absolutely LOVE mine! I've used it three times in the three weeks that I've been back at uni and each time it has produced a meal which has been delicious. Even when I made chilli in it without any chilli powder in because I forgot to buy some.
Slow Cooker Apple Pie Chilli - apples instead of tomatoes make this warming spiced dish extra delicious
The meal forgave me when I quickly stirred in some newly bought chilli powder that I took a detour to get on my way to pick up a box of cereal. Yes, I know how that sounds but I won it over Twitter. Stranger things have happened. Like putting apples in a chilli recipe.
Slow Cooker Apple Pie Chilli - apples instead of tomatoes make this warming spiced dish extra delicious
I found the recipe over at The Cupcake Project and the idea of a spicy apple chilli instead of a tomato based one had me hooked. Except I couldn't be bothered with the individual steps so I decided to bung it all in the slow cooker and hope for the best. It was a dream. A dream I wanted to have a second portion of straight after my first. There is no burn your mouth out heat, simply a beautiful aromatic cocoon of sweet spices swirling around the meat which cooks to a seductive crumble which gives itself up at the slightest bite. The apples cook down to a state where they can melt in the mouth, combining with the soft, fluffiness of slow cooked pulses. I don't know what could be more comforting, besides maybe a square of almond apple cake with custard for afters.
Slow Cooker Apple Pie Chilli - apples instead of tomatoes make this warming spiced dish extra delicious
It may seem bizarre but just go with it. And I found are still questioning the combination let yourself be swayed by the thought of having it ready and waiting after a hard days work and a journey home in the tortuous cold.  Seriously, throw it all in the slow cooker, stir and go. You work hard enough to keep going through the discomfort of the autumn and winter months. Let your slow cooker take its turn.

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Slow Cooker Apple Pie Chilli
A slow cooker chilli containing plenty of warming aromatic spices and chunks of apples to give it a new dimension and alternative to tomatoes.
  • 2 slices bacon, trimmed of fat and chopped
  • 500g minced beef
  • 1 large onion peeled and finely chopped
  • A good squeeze garlic puree
  • 2 tsp chilli powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 0.5 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 0.5 tsp cumin
  • A squeeze tomato puree
  • Approx 500g apples. peeled, cored and chopped
  • 400ml cider (ajust according to how liquidy you like chilli), heated
  • 400g tin kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1. Place all in the ingredients into the bowl of a slow cooker and stir until evenly distributed. Make sure the cider is hot when you add it so the slow cooker doesn't have to work to heat it up first.2. Put on the slow cooker lid and leave on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours. If there is too much liquid for your liking towards the end of cooking time, turn to high and leave the lid off for a bit before serving. Alternatively, make a cornflour paste with some of the liquid, stir it back into the pot and leave on high with the lid off to thicken. 3. Serve with rice, pasta, nachos etc as you wish.

I don't post savoury recipes anywhere near as often as sweet ones so I'm pretty lucky I've posted this right when Janice from Farmrsgirl Kitchen has set an open theme for her Slow Cooked Challenge. I'm also pretty lucky that I Shopped Local (ok, free) for the cider which went in this so I'm sending it to Elizabeth at Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary too. dad made the cider a couple of years ago from the apples off the big tree in our garden. The apples also mean there is an extra lot of fruit in each portion so it should be suitable for Extra Veg, this month hosted by Emily from A Mummy Too on behalf of Helen from Fuss Free Flavours and Michelle at Utterly Scrummy. It's also something a little different from my usual entries for Lucy's CookBlogShare at Supergolden Bakes.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Treacle Cobweb Cake with Speculoos Spread Icing

Hands up who has tried Speculoos spread. Cookie butter? Lotus spread? Biscoff spread? Since I discovered Pinterest I have collected no end of recipes raving about how amazing it was so was keen to try it but it isn't readily available here in the UK. I saw it in my local Sainsburys one day and I was tempted to buy some out of curiosity but still I held off. Then I saw it on special offer and I couldn't resist. Damn those bargains. It stayed in my wardrobe (I'd run out of kitchen cupboard space for baking goodies) for a while until I had the chance to make a recipe which really showed it off. This is that recipe. 
Treacle spice cake made topped with Speculoos spread and a chocolate cobweb
I've mentioned once or twice that I don't always bake to the seasons. I find it more fun to bake what I feel like so I can put more enthusiasm into what I do - and it means I relax more. With this cake though, the timing was perfect. I wanted to make something spiced and warming and comforting so when I stumbled across this recipe again which Joy the Baker posted some time ago I knew it was fate telling me to make it. Well, that's my excuse.
Treacle spice cake made topped with Speculoos spread and a chocolate cobweb
The cake is everything the ingredients promise it to be. The ginger leads the spice parade to create a cosy haze to wrap around yourself while the treacle gives a depth of flavour you can sink into. The slight traditional stickiness reminds up of more relaxed times and helps ease you into a looser state, perfectly helped along with a hot cup of tea. Then the topping. Velvety Biscoff spread spooned onto the cake while warm and left to melt and pool all over the surface and down the sides. A chocolate drizzle and feathered lines finish off this delight ready for the return of hard working trick or treaters or simply a reward for getting through a chilly autumn day.
Treacle spice cake made topped with Speculoos spread and a chocolate cobweb
True to form I've made a cake which is both quick to make and a joy to eat. No compromise, maximum results with the minimum of effort. Simply mix wet ingredients, mix dry then mix together. Bake, ice and serve. The beauty of this one is that the icing is done while the cake is cooling so you can grab the plates and a slice that bit quicker. Who wants to wait around when  there is is cake coming? Even better, what a day or two for your second helping and you will be rewarded with an even more moist and flavourful cake.
Treacle spice cake made topped with Speculoos spread and a chocolate cobweb
Thanks to Joy the Baker for the recipe. It's a keeper. Use the original molasses if you want the spices to come through more or go for my version using mixed spice for speed and treacle for a darker note. I was intrigued the first time I saw it and I'm glad I waited for just the right time. Plus, it finally gave me the chance to use the bargain Halloween props I have been hoarding since last year.

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Treacle Cobweb Cake with Speculoos Spread Icing
Full of dark treacle and warming spices, this cake is mae extra special by its simplicity and ease. Simply let the Biscoff spread melt on then spread all over. Adapt the spices to suit your tastes.
  • 140g plain flour
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 55g butter, melted
  • 75g granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 6 tbsp treacle (or molasses for a lighter flavour)
  • 6 tbsp hot water
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 100g Speculoos spread
  • 25g dark chocolate, melted
1. Set the oven to 180 C/160 C fan. Grease and line a 7" round cake tin with baking paper.2. Sift together the flour, spices and baking powder. In a separate bowl whisk together all the other ingredients except the Speculoos spread and chocolate.3. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry until just combined. Transfer to the tin and bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes until a cake tester inserted into the centre comes out clean.4. Cool in the tin for five minutes then remove and place on a wire rack over a tray or sheet of baking paper. Gently place blobs of the Speculoos spread on top of the cake, let melt slightly then spread out to cover the top and sides. Drizzle the chocolate over in what pattern you wish then gently draw a skewer through the ocing while it is still wet to create the feathered look.

As luck would have it there are a number of challenges I reckon my treacle cake is suitable for. When I saw Dom's Random Recipes at Belleau Kitchen had to involve an internet search I went straight to Pinterest. I used Ness' Love Cake at JibberJabberUK choice of Dark as my search term and when this one came up I was so pleased because I've had it bookmarked for so long so I'm sending it off to Katie at Feeding Boys and a Firefighter who is hosting Bookmarkerd Recipes on behalf of Jacqueline at Tinned Tomatoes. Then when I saw Hannah from Honey and Dough who is hosting We Should Cocoa on behalf of Choclette from Chocolate Log Blog had chosen the theme of Halloween I decided to adapt the decoration to suit because sometimes baking things for special themes is fun.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

White Chocolate Chip Courgette Muffins

Yeah I know, it's the time of year when I'm supposed to be posting recipes full of pumpkin and apples. No really I do know that, I did provide a Christmas mincemeat drowned in whisky and grabbed the opportunity to republish this apple and almond traybake after all. I've had such fun, and so much success, making courgette recipes this summer though that I couldn't put them to rest until I posted at least one more that has the photos are waiting on my computer.
These were an adaptation of my greatest courgette/zucchini success - these muffins. I've decided now that I've found my perfect muffin recipe bases which I can now adapt to my hearts content. For lighter veg based muffins I'll go with the one I used for these chocolate pecan courgette muffins and for the more traditional bakery style muffins I'll use the one which I made these chocolate chip latte muffins from. Funny how they both come from Sally's Baking Addiction. Sally really does have some awesome recipes.
That bakery muffin base is good for savoury muffins too. I tested that out a couple of times this summer as well like with these cheddar, chive and ale muffins. So good for lunch or breakfast. Not heavy or dense in the slightest. I'll get round to posting the other couple of success stories one day soon hopefully.
For now though can I tempt you with a white chocolate variation? I'd had the idea pinned for a while before I got to make it and I'm so glad I got the chance. They were just as good as their older sister and still delightfully quick to mix and bake. The crumb is so tender it dissolves on your tongue, releasing all the moisture given by the courgettes instantly. A light spicing adds another dimension and brings the creamy pools of vanilla white chocolate to a new height. Finally, the exra drizzle of chocolate on top hints at what is to come as soon as you give up resistance and dive in. 
If you have gone over the autumnal side of apples and pumpkins after a summer of courgettes then you could still make these with any of the harvest excess you might have stored in the freeser. Frozen courgettes are notorious for going mushy but simply squeeze out the extra water and throw them into the mixture. It shouldn't be a problem. Whatever the courgette availability at this time of year, remember, courgettes + spice + white chocolate = delightful. 

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White Chocolate Chip Courgette Muffins
Super moist, light and tender, these lightly spiced muffins hold a multitude of posckets of creamy white chocolate chips amongst the wealth of courgette/zucchini.

  • 1 large egg
  • 80g soft dark brown sugar
  • 80g granulated sugar
  • 120ml oil, sunflower or olive
  • 1 cup grated courgette (approx 1 medium)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 190g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 0.5 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 0.5 tsp nutmeg
  • 100g white chocolate (chopped) + 50g (melted)
1. Set the oven to 220 C/200 C fan and line a 12 cup muffin tray with muffin cases.2. Mix together the egg, sugars, oil, courgette and vanilla in one bowl. In another sift together the dry ingredients then stir in the chopped chocolate. 3. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix together until only just combined - the mixture will be lumpy then divide between the cases.4. Bake in the preheated oven for 5 mins then lower the temperature to 180 C/160 C fan and bake for another 13-15 mins until a skewer inserted into one of the muffins comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 5 mins then remove the muffins from the tray and finish cooling. 5. Once completely cool, drizzle the melted chocolate over the muffins before serving.

Hopefully Karen from Lavender and Lovage won't be oo disappointed with me for posting a recipe using an out of season vegetable. When I saw the theme for Tea Time Treats (hosted alternatively by Jane from The Hedgecombers) was veg, I coulnd't resist posting this before next year. I've entered courgette recipes a few times into Lucy's CookBlogShare too over at Supergolden Bakes and she has noted my way of naughtyfying the healthy veg. 

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Chocolate Chip Iced Latte Crumble Muffins

Sometimes a particular bake is planned and time is set aside for it, designated specifically to satisfy that urge. Then other times an idea comes along and you have to bake it so urgently you fit it into any available spot of time you can find. Like when you get back from uni and have maybe half an hour at a squeeze before you have to get a move on to get ready for a Friday evening out.
Thank goodness it was muffins I was desperate to bake and not a whacking great layer cake. Though I shouldn't talk too heavily about those or else that will be next on my list and seeing as I now know what my final year project is going to be on I need to spend more time reading journal articles and procedures for organic syntheses rather than recipe books. Not that I'll ever stop that. Just cut down. From six hours a day to five and a half maybe?
I'd had the idea for coffee muffins at the back of my mind for a while. It was only when I realised the carton of iced coffee I'd been handed one day in town during a promotion was soon to be out of date that I started to take it seriously. Then that fateful Friday the whole time I was in the lab the idea grew and became more attached to my mind until I cut my usual gossip time short (trust me, a LOT of talking goes on in science offices) and whipped back to the house to get these in the oven post haste. 
That first bite warm from the oven and the subsequent half muffin I downed was worth the risk of having to rush to get ready to go back out. It was everything you look for in a good muffin. Cushiony soft and tender, obligingly moist from the homemade buttermilk and substantial enough to give you the satisfaction of a proper bite of cake each time without being stodgy or weighty. The hit of coffee floats around the whole muffin riding on the wave of creaminess initiated by the iced drink, ricocheting off each little chunk of chocolate and complemented by the crunch of the crumble topping. Add the milky coffee glaze to finish and let it slowly infuse the rest of the muffin or simply grab a bite before it cools and you'll have instant comfort.
I'll always be thankful to the day I came across Sally's Baking Addiction for it's her muffin recipe I've adapted for these. People search for ages to find their ideal muffin recipe and I found mine with Sally. The domed top is perfect and the way they stay moist unlike so many other muffin recipes is a dream. And to think, I don't even like coffee. Put it in a cake though and I'll want to eat the lot.

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Chocolate Chip Iced Latte Crumble Muffins
A bakery style soft and moist muffin studded with chocolate chips and packed with creamy coffee flavour. the crumble topping and coffee glaze is the perfect finisher.
For the crumble:
  • 40g dark soft brown sugar
  • 80g plain flour
  • 0.25 tsp cinnamon
  • 30g butter, melted
For the muffins:
  • 190g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 50g dark chocolate chips
  • 1 large egg
  • 40g granulated sugar
  • 40g soft dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 60 ml sunflower or olive oil
  • 120 ml iced milk coffee mixed with 1dsp vinegar (or milk with 1 dsp vinegar and 1 heaped tsp instant coffee granules)
For the glaze:
  • 60g icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 0.5-1 tbsp iced coffee, depending how thick you prefer
1. First make the crumble topping. Mix together the sugar, flour and cinnamon then stir in themelted butter until clumps form. Set aside.2. Set the oven to 220 C/200 C fan and line a muffin tray with 6 muffin cases. 3. Sift together the flour, cinnamon and baking powder then stir in the chocolate chips. In a separate bowl or jug, whisk together the egg, sugars, vanilla, buttermilk coffe and oil. Pour into the dry ingredients and quickly stir together until just combined but no further. The mixture will bea bit lumpy.4. Divide between the muffin cases and top with the crumble mixtures. Bake in the preheated oven for 5 mins then turn the temperature down to 180 C/160C fanand bake for another 13-15 mins until a cake tester inserted into the centre of a muffin comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.5. When completely cool, make the glaze. Sift the icing sugar then whisk in the vanilla and coffee milk until smooth. Drizzle over the muffins as much as you prefer.

I've set the theme for my Biscuit Barrel challenge as Comfort Food this month and because muffins give a quick result so quick, cosy satisfaction I'm, entering them there. Also, as luck would have it, the letter for this months AlphaBakes is I so because of the iced coffee I used to make these I'm sending them off to Caroline at Caroline Makes who is hosting this month, alternatively with Ros, The More Than Occasional Baker. I'm also sharing them with Helen and her Bake of the Week over at Casa Costello.