Friday, September 26, 2014

Banana Walnut Cupcakes with Banana Icing and Candied Walnuts

Banana Walnut Cupcakes with Banana Icing and Candided Walnuts - recipe by Baking Makes Things Better

I made these cupcakes a while ago for an SPCA cupcake day fundraiser some of the students had organised at school.  I think these ones never made it to the fundraising table – another staff member purchased them before anyone else got a chance!  And, good on her – these cupcakes are divine.  The flavours of the cake, icing and candied walnuts (and the caramel drizzle – don’t forget that!) go together perfectly creating one sophisticatedly moreish cupcake.  The candied walnuts are really easy to make and are my new favourite thing.  I actually first made them to go in a broccoli and cranberry salad (so good), but here they add a delicious crunch to the sweet taste of the banana infused icing.

Banana Walnut Cupcakes with Banana Icing and Candided Walnuts by Baking Makes Things Better

Makes: 12 

Ingredients:
Cupcakes:
1 ½ cups self raising flour
⅓ cup caster sugar
60g butter
⅔ cup mashed banana
½ cup roughly chopped walnuts
1 egg
½ cup milk

Candied Walnuts:
⅔ cup chopped walnuts
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 ½ tablespoons honey
½ teaspoon sea salt

Banana Icing and Caramel drizzle:
¼ cup mashed bananas
½ teaspoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon vanilla essence
3 ¼ cups icing sugar
½ cup caramel sauce (I used Hershey’s Caramel Sauce)

Method:
Cupcakes:
Preheat the oven to 190°C.  Grease or line a 12 hole muffin pan with cupcake liners.
In a large bowl mix together flour, sugar and butter until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
Add in mashed banana, walnuts, egg and milk, and stir to combine.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared muffin pans and bake for 20 minutes.

Candied Walnuts:
To make the candied walnuts, place all the ingredients in a small saucepan over a medium heat.  Cook for 5 to 8 minutes, until the mixture is bubble and the walnuts have caramelized and turned a golden brown.
Line a dinner plate of baking tray with baking paper.  Place the walnuts on the baking paper and place in the refrigerator for at least 5 minutes.

To make the icing and to decorate:
Cream together the butter, banana, lemon juice and vanilla essence.  Slowly beat in icing sugar, adding more if needed to make a nice fluffy, spreadable icing.  If the mix is too thick, beat in a few drops of warm water at a time until the desired consistency is reached. 
Pipe the icing onto the cupcakes and decorate with the candied walnut pieces.  Drizzle caramel sauce over the top of each cupcake.

Banana Walnut Cupcakes with Banana Icing and Candided Walnuts recipe by Baking Makes Things Better

Monday, September 8, 2014

Chocolate and Chunky Banana Cupcakes with Banana Icing

Chocolate and Chunky Banana Cupcakes by Baking Makes Things Better
These Chocolate and Chunky Banana Cupcakes are a real treat.  The cupcake is a moist dark chocolate cake, with chocolate chips and chunks of banana mixed through.  The icing has the most delicious banana flavour (from real bananas!) and perfectly compliments the dark chocolate of the cake.  This is a great recipe to use up any bananas you have lying around.

Chocolate and Chunky Banana Cupcake - recipe by Baking Makes Things Better

Makes 12 – 18.

Ingredients:
Cupcakes:
2 cups flour
1 cup white sugar
¾ cup milk chocolate chips (I used Nestle Choc Drops)
½ cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 egg
1 cup plain yoghurt
½ cup milk
½ cup vegetable oil
2 medium sized ripe bananas, roughly mashed (you want chunks)

Icing:
¼ cup mashed bananas
½ teaspoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon vanilla essence
3 ¼ cups icing sugar
Banana candies for decoration (optional)

Method:
Preheat the oven to 200°C.  Grease or line a muffin tray with cupcakes liners.
In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, chocolate chips, cocoa powder, and baking soda. 
In a medium sized bowl, whisk the egg, yoghurt, milk and vegetable oil together until smooth.  Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and stir until combined.  Mix through the banana.
Fill the prepared muffin cups so they are ¾ full.  Bake for about 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of a cupcake comes out cleanly.  Cool in the pan for 5 minutes before moving to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the icing and to decorate:
Cream together the butter, banana, lemon juice and vanilla essence.  Slowly beat in icing sugar, adding more if needed to make a nice fluffy, spreadable icing.  If the mix is too thick, beat in a few drops of warm water at a time until the desired consistency is reached.  Pipe the icing onto the cupcakes and top with the banana candies.

Chocolate and Chunky Banana Cupcakes  - recipe by Baking Makes Things Better

Monday, September 1, 2014

Spring Inspiration from BMTB and Food TV

It's officially spring! I don't know how you guys feel but for us 2014 is flying by at record speed. Work seems to be keeping us busier than ever, Max is now 3.5 and when I'm not at work he finds plenty of ways to keep me occupied - including convincing me getting a puppy was a great idea! If you are a long time reader you'll know that Mel's wedding will be coming up in the new year, she's also taken on some post grad study – I have no idea where she is finding the time but she is and I’m super proud of her. I did plenty of baking over August for a range of events, including organising a bake sale for Cure Kids Red Nose Day at school, but, due to time constraints had to stick to tried and true recipes instead of experimenting with anything new. I am itching to put something new together to share with you all, I just have to figure out what. I'm sure that like me many of you are itching to get into the kitchen so I have some 'springsperation' from BMTB and our friends at Food TV.

Spring Baking Inspiration 1

Blueberry and Courgette Loaf, Raspberry and Lemon Cake, Mini Chocolate Courgette and Raspberry Bundt Cakes, Mini Berry Cheesecakes

Spring Baking Inspiration 2

No Bake Orange Cheesecake, Orange Cupcakes, Passionfruit Custard Pots, Lemon Coconut Cake

If inspiration still hasn't struck you can check out BMTB on Pinterest, Food TV also have a whole board dedicated to spring inspired recipes. If Pinterest isn't your thing there are always new series from some of our favourite faces:

How to Cook Like Heston: Mondays, 7.30pm, from 1 September
Heston Blumenthal takes off his chef whites and steps into a domestic kitchen to show us just how he works his culinary magic.
After years of passionately seeking culinary perfection, Heston Blumenthal demonstrates not just how to cook, but why certain things do or don’t work, as he dispels some of the myths inherited from our mother’s kitchen.

Britain's most visionary chef delivers meticulously tested tips and techniques to help viewers transform their dinners from bog standard to reliably brilliant without even breaking a sweat.

Each episode concentrates on one everyday ingredient - eggs, chicken, beef, chocolate, cheese and the humble potato - and features recipes for big favourites such as roast chicken, the perfect steak, and how to pull off the ultimate chocolate cake.
The series is packed with straightforward advice, while special cameras show what actually happens to food as it hits the pan or roasts in the oven.\

Donna Hay Fast, Fresh, Simple: Wednesdays, 8pm, from 3 September
Donna Hay is Australia's best-selling cookbook author and home cooking icon.
In Donna Hay fast, fresh, simple she shows us how to use some of her repertoire of short-cuts and tricks of the trade to achieve her signature style and easy to prepare meals that really do look as good as they taste.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

August on Food TV

August already! The last (official) month of winter. Have you been doing lots of comfort baking? Usually I would be but for some reason I have been almost as busy as I am over the summer months, even over the so called 'school holidays' I didn't really get the chance to bake. As my busy days come to a close I find my self gravitating towards the telly for the chance to put my feet up and tuning I'm into Food TV for my baking fix, lucky for me there are two new baking series starting this month.

Lyndey Milan at Wild Brumby Schnapps with Pink Lady apple and coconut cake

LYNDEY’S BAKING SECRETS: SUNDAY 2.30PM, 6.30PM, 10.30PM FROM 3 AUGUST
Join much-loved TV personality and Australian home cook hero, Lyndey Milan, as she shares all of her baking secrets. Lyndey will take the guess work and mystery out of baking and provide her personal tips and tricks along the way to create the best and most delicious home baked goodies. Sharing some of her favourite sweet recipes, Lyndey will show how to use baking staple ingredients and turn them into mouthwatering treats which are sure to include something for everyone!

James Martin

JAMES MARTIN’S UNITED CAKES OF AMERICA: SATURDAY 1.00PM, 5.00PM, 9.00PM FROM 2 AUGUST
Celebrity chef, James Martin, travels the east coast of the US in a classic car learning cooking secrets from home chefs and professional bakers before demonstrating his own take on American recipes. Martin will also debunk myths about classics such as chocolate brownies and apple pie, and discover lesser-known treats including pumpple cake and shoofly pie.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

BREAD by Dean Brettschnieder

Bread by Dean Brettschnieder 
There is nothing quite like the taste and aroma of warm, fresh-out-of-the-oven bread baked in your own kitchen. Bread is the latest book from New Zealand celebrity chef Dean Brettschnieder.  When I met Dean at the launch of his first book (Pie: 80+ Pies and Pastry Delights), he said he thought it would be awesome to release a series of books each focussing on a certain food.  The arrival of Bread sees Dean on the path to achieving this dream. In this irresistible collection of bread recipes, you'll find breads to match any occasion – from savoury to sweet, healthy to festive. Whether you fancy a bagel or a baguette, sourdough or sticky buns, these delectable and easy-to-follow recipes are sure to become firm favourites.

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The book has over 60 recipes (you can check out the one for NYC Sticky Pecan Buns on the Penguin Books website) which have been gorgeously photographed by Aaron McLean.  Dean also shares his expert knowledge of how to make exceptional breads with detailed step-by-step instructions on artisan techniques, plus information on essential ingredients and equipment.

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I think the book would make a great gift, especially for those guys out there who like baking, because let’s face it, baking bread seems a bit manlier than making pretty little cupcakes.  You will be amazed at the quality, lightness, volume, flavour, crust and crumb of your bread after following Dean's recipes, tips and know how.  The book is out in stores now (RRP $45), so keep an eye out for it and grab yourself a copy.

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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Sandwiched Salted Caramel Brownie Cookies

Salted Caramel Brownie 1

I saw a delicious looking picture (similar to mine) pop up in my Facebook newsfeed recently so I followed the link to the Donna Hay website and had to get into the kitchen to give them a go, making a few tweaks along the way. They were better than I imagined, actually I think they are one of the best things I have ever baked!

Ingredients:
350g dark chocolate, chopped
40g unsalted butter
2 eggs
⅓ cup caster sugar
⅓ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
⅓ cup plain flour, sifted
¼ teaspoon baking powder, sifted

Salted caramel frosting
¾ cup caster sugar
¼ cup water
½ cup cream
150g unsalted butter, chopped
sea salt flakes, for sprinkling

Salted Caramel Brownie 2

Method:
Preheat oven to 180°C.
Place 200g of the chocolate and the butter in a small saucepan over low heat and cook, stirring frequently, until melted and smooth.
Set aside. Place the eggs, sugar and vanilla in an electric mixer and whisk for 12-15 minutes or until pale and creamy.
Stir through the flour, baking powder, chocolate mixture and remaining chocolate and allow to stand for 10 minutes.
Drop tablespoonfuls of the mixture onto baking trays lined with non-stick baking paper, allowing room to spread.
Bake for 8–10 minutes or until puffed and cracked. Allow to cool completely on trays.

To make the salted caramel icing, place the sugar and water in a medium saucepan over low heat and stir with a metal spoon until the sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to medium and bring to the boil. Cook, without stirring, for 8–9 minutes or until golden.
Remove from the heat and carefully add the cream and butter. Return the saucepan to the heat and stir until the mixture is smooth.
Refrigerate until completely cool.
Using a hand-held electric whisk, whisk mixture until soft peaks form.
Spread half the cookies with the icing, sprinkle with the salt and sandwich with the remaining cookies.

Salted Caramel Brownie 3

I do urge you to give them a go! They are simply amazing. Although before I sign off, a couple of tips - make sure you do let the mixture stand, it will thicken and reduce spreading. If your brownie cookies do spread unevenly use a circular cutter to cut down/shape the biscuits while they are still hot out of the oven, you do need them to be a uniform size to sandwich. Also, I made my caramel frosting first as by the time I had made my cookies and let them cool completely I was ready to sandwich.