Thursday, 22 January 2015

Caramel Apple Cupcakes

Readers, I realised this week that I’d failed miserably with baking anything sweet of recent.  Blame the health kick, or the January blues, whatever…

Anyway, we were off to a housewarming last weekend.  Usually we’d take copious amounts of alcohol (sorry Mum) but this time, requests were made to take something baked along.

I discovered caramel apple in Florida last year.  These are not the healthiest (the apple might be, the sauce, not so much).  I fell in love with the sticky, sweet, gooey caramel sauce, teamed with crunchy apple.  So I’ve attempted to recreate it in a cupcake.

This recipe came about by chance. I found an unopened packet of Sugar and Crumbs Green Apple Icing sugar in the cupboard, had a half jar of salted caramel sauce in the fridge and boom… it came together.

The cakes were demolished by a group of cash starved, mortgage ridden 20-somethings and there’s been requests for more!
caramel apple cupcakes


Caramel Apple Cupcakes

Ingredients - makes 12 large cupcakes

175g self raising flour
175g butter
4 large eggs
150g caster sugar
Heaped teaspoon caramel sauce

Frosting
125g Sugar and Crumbs Green Apple Icing Sugar
200g icing sugar
125g unsalted butter
Caramel sauce to decorate

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 190c/170c fan/Gas 6
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together using an electric mixer.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time and add a teaspoon of flour to prevent curdling with each addition.  Mix each egg fully before adding the next.
  4. Once all eggs are added, mix in the flour.  Add the caramel sauce and mix with the electric mixer. 
    Batter will be a bit darker than usual
  5. Spoon into cupcake cases and fill to around ¾ full.
  6. Bake in the oven for around 17-18 minutes until baked.  Insert a skewer and check it’s clean on removal. If so, it’s ready.
  7. Cool on a wire rack.

Topping

  1. Soften the butter and mix up with an electric mixer until smooth and the colour lightens.
  2. Add the green apple icing sugar a bit at a time until mixed in and top up with the plain icing sugar, continue to mix until smooth.   If it’s too thick, add a spot of milk and mix through.
  3. Add a touch of green food colouring and mix through frosting, until it’s a pale green colour.
    Ready for the piping bag
  4. Transfer to a piping bag (top tip – place the bag and nozzle in a pint bag and fill it this way).
    Filling a piping bag the easy way!
  5. Pipe green swirls on the top of each cake.
  6. Add a heaped dessert spoon of caramel sauce to a cup and warm through in the microwave for 10 seconds, to loosen.
  7. Drizzle caramel sauce on top of each cake and serve.
    caramel apple cupcakes



Monday, 19 January 2015

Venison Haggis Empanadas for #DestinologyReimagine

Readers, this is an exciting one… I was approached by Destinology, the luxury holidays, hotels and travel site, to create a blog post of my take on a national dish, all in the name of a chance of winning a holiday.
…Travel you say?! COUNT ME IN.

This is what I’d call a South American/Scottish fusion dish… SCamerican perhaps?!

In 2011 I went to Argentina with Mr WhatClaire Baked.  It was a first time for both of in South America.  We had a great time at the Argentinian all you can eat meat restaurants, heck we even tried intestines.  But one thing we both enjoyed was an empanda.
Taken in Buenos Aires by moi!


Some say these are of Spanish decent, others Argentinian.  Basically they are the South American answer to a pasty.  A savoury filling encased in a shortcrust style pastry, baked on the oven, or baked by street vendors.  Our highlight was walking in downtown Buenos Aires, watching tango dancers grace the streets by night, lapping up the atmosphere and the street food.   But back to the SCamerian fusion idea.  Inspired by the wonderful meats available in Argentina, I swapped the contents for some wonderful meat found in Scotland.  Venison haggis.

I love haggis and used a premium haggis from Macsween for this recipe.  As it was venison based, I paired it with caramelised onions and redcurrant jelly for a delicious spicy, yet subtly sweet filling.   This recipe makes 4 empandas – enough for a lunchtime snack for you and friends.

I’m entering this recipe into the #DestinologyReimagined competition over at their website, for a chance to win a 3 night break to Europe.

haggis empanadas

Venison Haggis Empanadas

Ingredients - makes 4 empandas

Pastry
150g plain flour
75g butter
1 egg
3 dessert spoons warm water
Pinch of salt
1 beaten egg to wash

Filling
1 onion (plus 1 teaspoon of sugar to caramelise)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon mixed herbs
1 teaspoon redcurrant jelly
220g venison haggis

Method

  1. Melt the butter in the microwave and set aside to cool slightly (around 30 seconds at 850 watts).
  2. Sift the flour into a bowl and add a pinch of salt.
    Start by making the pastry.
  3. Add the cooled butter and the egg.  Slowly add the water and mix until a dough is formed. If too wet, add a little more flour.
  4. Turn out to a floured board and knead until smooth and stretchy.  Set aside to rest whilst making the filling.
    Make sure the pastry is smooth before resting
  5. Chop the onion and soften in a pan over a medium heat.   When soft, add the sugar and slowly caramelise. Add the garlic to the pan.
    Caramelise the onions 
  6. Add the haggis and stir to break up.  Mix through the chopped onion.  Cook for around 5-8 minutes until the fat is released. Add the mixed herbs and redcurrant jelly.  Cook for another 5 minutes then remove from the heat.
    Set aside the filling once cooked
  7. Once the dough has rested for around 15 minutes, roll out onto a floured board until around 4mm thick.  Use a small saucer as a template to cut round.  Cut 4 rounds from your dough (you’ll need to re-roll probably).
  8. Preheat the oven to 200c/180c fan/Gas 6.
  9. Fill each emapanada with a dessert spoon of filling – pat flat if you need to.   Run around the inside edge of the dough with a wet finger.  Fold one side over the other and seal.  Use a fork to push down the edges.  Continue with the remaining three empanadas.
    Fork down the edges to seal 
  10. Transfer each to a lined baking tray and wash with the beaten egg.  Oven bake for 15-20 minutes until golden in colour.    Serve immediately.



Delicious!

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Raspberry Ripple Meringue Love Nests with Sugar and Crumbs


Readers, I faced my fears this week.  Never again will I be scared by a whipped egg white.  There.  Said it. 

Meringues have been my baking nemesis for a very long time.  So much so, I’ve avoided making them. However, when Sugar and Crumbs contacted me and asked me to become one of their regular bloggers, I knew I had to get over my meringue fear.  Challenge one… something love related for Valentines Day.

I have to confess, we aren’t huge Valentines fans in this house.  I’m still a hopeless old fashioned vintage girl with a love of all things looooove but I’m not big on spending a fortune in an overpriced restaurant.

Valentines should be about showing someone you care and not spending a fortune doing so.  Therefore, for Mr What Claire Baked, I’ve made valentines love nests.  It’s a meringue nest filled with salted caramel cream, topped with fresh raspberries and a drizzle of sauce.

As this is a post created for Sugar and Crumbs, I’d better mention I used their raspberry ripple flavoured icing sugar in this recipe.   I am a huge fan of raspberry with meringue – it reminds me of pavlova, which I can still remember trying for the first time aged 5 at my Dad’s cousins house. 
The raspberry ripple icing sugar does smell of fresh raspberries and when I opened the oven door, I had a waft of raspberry coming towards me.   Delicious.  I thoroughly enjoyed working with this variety from the Sugar and Crumbs range.

The meringue recipe came from Sugar and Crumbs and I came up with the filling ideas myself.

Enjoy!
Raspberry Ripple Salted Caramel Meringue Love Nest


Raspberry Meringue Love Nests

Ingredients  - makes 6 nests

4 large egg whites
115g caster sugar
115g Sugar and Crumbs Raspberry Ripple Flavoured Icing Sugar

Filling
300ml double cream
Punnet of fresh raspberries
Jar of quality caramel sauce

Method

  1. Use a clean bowl (not plastic, a Mason Cash is great for this) and wipe round with a kitchen towel with a splash of lemon juice.  This ensures there is no grease in the bowl.
  2. Separate your egg whites and add to the bowl, using an electric mixer, whip the whites until fluffy and stiff peaks have formed.
  3. Weigh out your sugar and add in a bit at a time, whisking between additions to ensure it’s blended with the white.  Turn the mixer up to high speed for this part.  Once all sugar is added, your meringue should be thick and glossy.
    Looking glossy!
  4. Sift in 115g icing sugar and using a spatula gently fold in the icing sugar. Be careful not to knock out the air you have added to the mix.
    Carefully sift in the icing sugar
  5. Transfer the mix to a disposable piping bag fitted with a 1M/2D nozzle.
  6. Preheat the oven to 100c fan/Gas 1. Line a baking tray with non stick baking paper – not greaseproof.   Pipe a tight, flat swirl.  This will be the base of your nest, then pipe round and up to form the walls of the nest.   The meringue should hold its shape by itself and not collapse.
    Pipe into a nest shape
  7. Transfer to the oven and bake for around 1h 30 minutes until the meringue is hard and sounds hollow when tapped.  Keep an eye on the meringue to ensure it doesn’t burn.  Cool in the oven with the door closed for several hours if you can.
  8. Whilst meringues are cooling, make your filling.  Transfer double cream to a bowl and whisk up till almost fluffy, using an electric mixer.  Just before it gets to your desired consistency, add in a teaspoon of salted caramel sauce and continue to mix until combined.  Set aside.
    Add the salted caramel to the cream
  9. Once meringues are cooled, fill with a dessert spoon of cream and top with several fresh raspberries.   Drizzle a little salted caramel sauce over the top and serve. 
    Raspberry Ripple Salted Caramel Meringue Love Nest
    Raspberry Ripple Salted Caramel Meringue Love Nest

    Disclaimer: I received the items free from Sugar and Crumbs to bake with. Any opinions expressed are my own.

    I'm entering this recipe into Treat Petite, hosted this month by The Baking Explorer.



Thursday, 15 January 2015

Solo Suppers No1 – Thai Chicken Curry Parcel

Readers, for 2015 I am starting a new series called Solo Suppers.   Mr WhatClaireBaked has recently changed jobs, which for the moment, sees us spending weeknights apart.  Rather than moping around feeling sorry for myself, I’m turning my nights for one into a positive experience – making sure I commit to staying in the kitchen.

I hear so many people saying that because it’s only for one person, they really can’t be bothered going to the effort of cooking.  The push back I’d give is that yes it’s effort, but for the sake of your future health and well being, can you afford not to?

Cooking for one, as I’m discovering, doesn’t have to be difficult.  If you are buying raw ingredients, buy things you can use across a few dishes, portion up meat and freeze it so it doesn’t go to waste and if you do end up with more than you need, Tupperware and a freezer is your best mate… that way when you come in from work and really can’t be bothered (as most of us do, including me, once in a while) there’s something nutritious that can be defrosted, rather than ringing your local take out.

There are some ingredients leftover from my last make of this, but stored in airtight containers in the fridge they will keep for around 5 days, sometimes longer, allowing you to make the dish again the week after.

Stay tuned for more recipes in this series coming soon!


Solo Supper – Thai Chicken Curry Parcel

Adapted from BBC Good Food

Ingredients – serves 1

1 skinless, boneless chicken breast
1 red pepper
1 small baking potato
1 teaspoon fish sauce
2 dessert spoons thai green curry paste
¼ tin reduced fat coconut milk
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons chopped coriander and a lime wedge (to garnish)

  1. Method Preheat the oven to 200c/180c fan/Gas 6.
  2. Cut the pepper into chunks and do the same with the potato. Par boil the potato for around 8-10 minutes.  Drain and set aside.
  3. Make the sauce by adding the fish sauce to the curry paste, coconut milk and sugar until a pouring sauce is created (not too thin!)
  4. Tear a large piece of baking parchment and place onto a baking tray.
  5. Arrange the peppers and potatoes on the tray, leaving a space for the chicken breast.
  6. Put the chicken breast into the middle and pour over the sauce.
  7. Wrap the top of the parchment together, to seal like a parcel, then twist the ends together, like an old fashioned sweet.  All ingredients should then be safely tucked inside the parcel.
  8. Cook in the middle of the oven for around 35 minutes (shorter or longer depending on the thickness of the chicken breast).
  9. Remove from the oven, check chicken juices run clear and serve immediately in, a bowl,  with the food still inside the parchment. Top with chopped coriander and a lime wedge. 
I'm entering this recipe into #recipeoftheweek over at A Mummy Too
Link up your recipe of the week


Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Product Review: Mirabilia Olive Leaf Tea

Readers, we’re back to tea loving again. It’s freezing outside and no word of a lie, it’s snowing.  Nothing better than curling up with a cup of tea then?!   As I’m on a bit of health kick at the moment I’m left my milk and sugar behind in favour of olive leaf tea.  What’s that you ask?

We’re talking tea.  Healthy tea. That’s harvested from the leaves of olive trees.  Yes, you heard correctly.  Olive treas.  And I've been sent some to try from Mirabilia.

Olive leaf tea has been made in Italy for hundreds of years and I’ve only just heard about it!  It’s full of health enhancing properties including being high in antioxidants (more than green tea), can boost the immune system, which is ideal in winter and is antibiotic, antiviral and can even help with weight loss.


It’s ready in 6 minutes – just add a big pinch to a teapot or infuser.  I bought a handy travel tea infuser when I was in China – it’s suddenly come in very handy! The tea can be drunk hot, tepid, cold or iced.  So far, I’ve preferred it hot.  I drink a lot of herbal tea at work anyway, as I feel it’s better for me than mountains of caffeinated coffee or soft drinks, so for me this was a natural switch.

My thoughts…

Actually, it’s very tasty.  When I opened the bag, I got a big hit of a “tea smell”.  I know that probably sounds odd, but I was preparing for a big hit of olive.   I didn’t really get that.  I found it reassuring, as I feel like I’m drinking tea!

But back to taste, it’s got a lovely refreshing flavour.  I am notoriously bad for forgetting about a cup of tea halfway through, and giving up on it, but this one made me want to finish it whilst it’s hot.

I’ve got bad asthma in winter but the owners of Mirabilia have assured me that it’s also great for keeping asthma symptoms at bay.   The world and its wife appear to have the cold in the office, so I’m making the effort to have a cup of this every morning for the next week, to try and ward off these nasty bugs. (Will let you know how it goes!)

The leaves are also grown on an organic farm, which makes me feel good about drinking them! I’m visualising happy trees right now…

The olive leaf tea is available from some big name retailers including Booths, Whittards and Whole Foods, but is also available to buy directly from www.OleafT.com for £4.69 for 30g of premium loose leaf tea.


Disclaimer:  I received a free sample of Olive Leaf Tea to try.  Any opinions expressed are my own. 

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Healthy Flapjacks with Fruit and Seeds

Readers, like most of you I’ve approached 2015 with renewed vigour and a need to kickstart my healthy eating again.  I’ve realised it’s about everything in moderation.  There’s no point in starving yourself to look good if you are constantly miserable.   My whole thing is exercise.   Like the majority of the population, a demanding desk based job means I’m not active through the day and am struggling to fit it in around everything else going on.

I’m making a point though of cutting the alcohol, watching what I eat, enjoying treats in moderation and doing a bit more exercise.  I’ve managed the gym once and a hour’s swimming this weekend, so here’s hoping I keep it up.

As it’s the start of a health kick, I had a look into healthy bakes.  Turns out there’s loads of them over on Pinterest.   I wanted something I could make with cupboard ingredients, that wasn’t laden with fat and sugar and came across these oat flapjacks on DieticianUK.

I’ve amended this wonderful recipe slightly to suit what I had in the cupboard.  On first bite they were a shock to the system – we are used to flapjacks being syrupy and sugary.  These are much less sweet, but I suppose you could up the honey content slightly if you can’t quite kick the habit!  I at least feel these are filling – the oats are a source of slow energy release, so you shouldn’t crash and burn on them.   The dried fruit and nut filling is also a source of energy and protein, whilst the banana binding helps with those potassium levels.

This recipe is also great for special diets – it’s dairy free, egg free and if you used gluten free oats, could be gluten free as well.

I’m hoping to make more recipes from the site in future which I’ll share with you all.

Happy Healthy Living (for now)

Healthy Fruit and Seed Flapjacks

healthy flapjacks with fruit and nuts
Recipe adapted from DieticianUK

Ingredients (makes 12 pieces)

200g porridge oats
120g dried fruit of your choice
20g seeds of your choice (I used one of my Graze snack boxes) 
2 mashed bananas (ripe)
1 tablespoon clear honey (warmed)
3 dessert spoons sunflower oil

 Method


1.     Preheat the oven to 190c/170c fan.  Line a 20cm x 20cm silicone traybake tin.
2.     Add the porridge oats, dried fruit and seeds to a bowl. Mix to combine.


3.     Mash the banana well in a separate bowl.
4.     Add the sunflower oil, mashed banana and honey to the oat, fruit and seed mix until it all comes together.
5.     Press the mixture into your tin and flatten.
6.     Cook in the oven for 15 minutes.  After 15 minutes, remove and cover with a tin foil top to                 prevent burning. 
7.     Return to the oven for another 10-15 minutes, then remove from oven. Turn onto a cooling         
        rack.
8.     Slice when cool and store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
healthy flapjacks with fruit and nuts

I'm linking this recipe up to #recipeoftheweek over at A Mummy Too

Link up your recipe of the week

I'm also adding it to this month's #TreatPetite hosted by Cakey Boi with the theme of healthy baking.



Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Graze Box Product Review

Readers, I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas?  Be honest, how many boxes of chocolates have you scoffed so far?!  Today I’m off to catch up with some old friends in Glasgow and in a rush to get out the door this morning, realised I hadn’t made time for breakfast.

Rather than grabbing the box of Matchmakers staring at me on the counter, I found a little Graze snack pack living in the fruit bowl.   Anything under the name of Marvellous Macaroon excites me.

So back to the point of this piece, I spoke to the team at Graze a few months ago about writing a review of their product range.  A few friends and colleagues had spoken to me previously about Graze, but I’d never got round to ordering one for myself – considering it a bit of a marketing fad perhaps.  First box arrived courtesy of Amy at Graze.   Opinion changed.

The boxes are cute, the packaging is recycled, comes with a napkin for cake-face wiping and there are four little packs of excitement in every box.  I’ve been getting my box delivered on a Tuesday for the last few months and still get excited when I see it lying on the mat!



The website is genius – you create your account, pick products you like, would like to try and note what’s a definite no no.  It’s best to do this before box one arrives to make sure you actually like the contents.   You can theme your box if you like – I get a nibble box delivered for the sum of £3.99 – that includes postage.   At first I questioned the cost – but if you break it down – the postage is included, so lets knock £1 off for that – for around 75p per pack, you get 4 snacks delivered. 

The way I see it, those four snacks are Monday to Thursday covered off for my mid-morning snack at work.  How much would a packet of crisps or a cake cost?   Snacks range from peanut butter dippers, to dried fruit, flapjacks, cakes which come with a teabag (that’s a finished snack solution right there).
  Oh, if you happen to be going on holiday and have the fear about returning to eat 8 snacks in one sitting, fear not… you can switch your account to holiday mode and stop your packages for a couple of weeks until you return.  At no cost… bonus!

The boys and girls at Graze know how to have fun – in my Christmas box, I got a cardboard pop up Christmas Tree to decorate my desk.   The box came in limited edition oh-so-cute reindeer print as well.


Overall, if you are an office worker, looking for something to replace your daily Mars Bar/Crunchie/Dairy Milk* fix, I’d recommend switching to Graze.  Perhaps not quite as healthy as some fruit or carrot dippers, but we can’t be saints all the time surely?!
* delete as appropriate

As a thank you for my loyalty and to my fans for reading this article, I have a Graze Box friend code to share with you all.  This entitles you to your first, fifth and tenth Graze Box delivered for free. 
If you’d like to give it a go, just use the code below and hop on over to Graze.com to get started.




Happy Snacking!