Coffee Loaf Cake with Mocha Fudge Frosting

I think you’re supposed to make simnel cake for Easter, but that’s always seemed terribly un-chocolatey for such a chocolate-filled occasion to me.

I am without an oven at the moment, owing to the ongoing kitchen renovation, but I thought it might be fun to post this cake from last year, which never made it onto the blog, in case you’re looking for a recipe full of chocolately goodness for this Easter weekend.

ND5_0661The recipe comes from Olive Magazine (here). Generally I thought the recipe was pretty good although the frosting was a little generous in quantity and perhaps a touch too sweet. I think you could probably reduce the quantity by 25% and it would still be delicious. The recipe also didn’t include the mini chocolate eggs, which are a must for Easter!

Coffee loafI’ve started using loaf tin liners from Poundland (£1 for 25) when my baking needs to be transported and they’re so much easier than faffing around with greaseproof paper.

Mocha frosting

Decadent and delicious… enjoy!

PS for previous Easter chocolate fun… see 2016, 2015 and 2014

Mince Pies – Advent 3/24

Day 3/24 – Mince pies

Mince pies are possibly my favourite Christmas food (sorry yule log, it was a close run thing).

Mince pies

To make mine more thrifty, I buy my mincemeat just after Christmas when it’s all reduced (as it usually has a long enough sell by date to get through to the following year). I like them to be classic, with shortcrust pastry, as per the recipe below, but go wild with puff pastry or even filo – this recipe looks delicious.

Ingredients:
225g cold butter, diced
350g plain flour
100g golden caster sugar
280g mincemeat
2 tbsp of milk
Icing sugar, to dust

Mince pies

1. To make the pastry, rub the butter into the flour, then mix in the sugar and a pinch of salt. Combine the pastry into a ball, adding a tablespoon of milk if necessary to bring the dough together, although it should remain firm. Knead briefly.

2. Preheat the oven the 200℃ (180℃ for fan ovens)/400℉/Gas Mark 6 and grease 18 holes of two shallow muffin trays.

3. Roll the dough out on a floured board to around half a centimetre in depth and, using a cookie cutter slightly larger than the muffin tin circles, cut out 18 bases and press them into the tins.

4. Fill each pastry base with a couple of teaspoons of mincemeat.

5. Gather up the remaining dough from the bases, roll out to the same depth as previously and this time use a cookie cutter around the size of the muffin tin holes to make the tops. Use stars for extra Christmas points

They can be frozen before baking, so you can make them in advance of the big day. Serve warm, preferably with lots of cream/brandy butter/other extravagant accompaniment.

Vegan Chocolate Cake

I was very sceptical about whether a chocolate cake with no eggs and no butter would work, but I love a challenge! I am pleased to say that not only did it rise beautifully, but it tasted deliciously moist too. This recipe is a keeper as the lack of butter and eggs make it super thrifty and it was really quick and easy to make.

Eggs and butter free choc cake

I mostly followed this recipe, although I used self-raising flour when I think the recipe intended plain and chocolate soya milk because that was what was on offer at the time ;). I’m loving the whole website, which is full of inspiring recipes and gives the measurements in grams as well as cups – hallelujah!

This cake would make a great plain base for a chocolate ganache or buttercream icing – if you need an extra chocolate dose – or I can vouch for its yumminess served warm with vanilla ice cream. Best of all, the half of this delicious cake that I managed not to eat right away is now sliced up and in my freezer, ready to defrost and enjoy when I have a chocolate craving!

Happy baking!

Chocolate Espresso Cupcakes

Chocolate Espresso Cupcakes

I’m willing to admit that this a slightly tenuous link to being thrifty, but we were given a box of delicious chocolate-coated coffee beans that have been just waiting in the cupboard for the right recipe to come along. As one of my 2016 goals is to use it or lose it, I decided it was high time to find a use for them and embarked on these Chocolate Espresso cupcakes from Nigella’s How to be a Domestic Goddess.

I love chocolate and I love coffee, so these were pretty much perfect for me and although they’re decadent, they’re also quite mini-sized to lessen the guilt. Please give them a go, you won’t regret it!

Nigella Chocolate Cupcakes

Happy Easter – Nutella Swirls

This morning is off to a chocolatey start with these brioche Nutella swirls:

Brioche Nutella Swirls

 

I found the recipe whilst fancifully browsing Nutella recipes here. I omitted the maple glaze (although I’m sure it would be delicious) preferring the simplicity of brioche and Nutella for Easter breakfast and they sure didn’t disappoint.

Nutella Swirls

 

This recipe requires a bit of patience whilst waiting for the dough to rise and then prove, but I think the end result is well worth the wait!

Happy Easter!

Blackberry & Apple Compote

The blackberries are out, so if you haven’t already, go get picking! Bonus point if you don’t buy the apples either.

I had this lovely idea of filling some jars with blackberry and apple compote, but then it was so good, we ending up eating it all instead… oops. I served mine with American style fluffy pancakes (NB I used to use this recipe here, but now use a fluffier and thriftier alternative here).

Compote

The compote recipe is based on one from River Cottage, but I stopped simmering before it had set completely as I prefer mine that way. I also went right back to basics, leaving out the more expensive/awkward ingredients; it probably won’t surprise you to learn that I don’t have cinnamon sticks or star anise to hand!

Ingredients

500g Cooking Apples – peeled, cored and sliced

250g Blackberries

250g Caster Sugar

550ml Water

Method

1. Place the water and sugar in a non-stick saucepan and heat gently until the sugar dissolves, then bring to the boil.

2. Reduce to a simmer and add the apples. Cook for 5 minutes.

3. Add the blackberries and cook until the compote reaches a smooth and thick consistency.

Blackberry Apple Compote

Strawberry Cake

It’s officially summer and for me, summer = strawberries. This cake is easy to throw together – no icing, no layers, no fuss. It’s based on a Martha Stewart recipe (converted into grams below). It’s not the prettiest cake to look at, but it sure tastes good.

Strawberry Pie Dish

Strawberry Cake (approx 8 servings)

Ingredients

6 tbsp unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing180g plain flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
200g caster sugar
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 large egg
125ml semi-skimmed milk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 punnet (500g) strawberries, hulled and halved

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180℃/350℉/Gas Mark 4. Grease a pie dish and set aside.

2. Sift flour, baking powder and sugar into a bowl and set aside.

3. In a separate bowl, mix together the butter and caster sugar using an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy. Reduce speed to medium low and mix in the egg, milk and vanilla extract.

3. Reduce the speed to low and gradually mix in the flour mixture.

4. Pour the batter into the pie plate and push the strawberries (cut side down) into the batter. NB I pushed my strawberries too far and they all ended up at the bottom, but it still tasted delicious!

5. Sprinkle the granulated sugar over the top and then put in the centre of the pre-heated oven for 10 minutes.

6. After 10 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 170℃/325℉/Gas Mark 3 and bake until golden brown and firm to the touch.

7. Serve once cooled, preferably with cream or vanilla ice cream.

Strawberry cake slice

Strawberry Cake

PS I have my eye on this very indulgent strawberry recipe – yum!

 

Easy Peasy Chocolate Chip Muffins

Muffins are great when you need something sweet and you need it quick! No whisking, no icing, no fuss and a great way to use up the chocolate chips found in the reduced aisle of the supermarket (but chop up a bar of chocolate as a thriftier alternative).

Easy Chocolate Muffins

Ingredients (makes 12 muffins)

225g Plain Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
135g Caster Sugar
125g Chocolate Chips
160ml Semi-skimmed Milk
115g Melted Butter
2 Eggs, beaten
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract

Choc Chip Muffins

Method

1. Pre-heat the oven to 200℃/400℉/Gas Mark 6 and line a muffin tin with 12 cake cases

2. In a large bowl, mix together all of the dry ingredients

3. In a separate bowl, mix the milk, eggs, melted butter and vanilla extract

4. Add the wet ingredients to the original bowl and mix together

5. Scoop into the cases until 2/3 full

6. Bake in the centre of the pre-heated oven for 15-20 minutes until golden

Chocolate Chip Muffins Easy Recipe

What a lovely weekend treat and all for just £1.10 for a batch of 12. This was the first recipe I’ve made since I tried out shopping at Aldi – more on that to come, but there’s definitely a noticeable difference in the cost of milk, butter and eggs, which is helping to make baking thriftier!

PS More muffin recipes

What is Better (and Thriftier) Than an Easter Egg?

What is Better (and Thriftier) Than an Easter Egg? Easter Egg Brownies, of course!

Lindt Brownie

Instead of buying loved ones an Easter egg this year, why not whip up a large batch of these delicious brownies to share out? These work out at around £1.25 for 6 brownies* (which is far more cost effective than most Easter Eggs) and are my favourite kind – rich, dense and fudgy. The addition of mini Easter eggs makes them more seasonal, but they’d be delicious on their own too!

Recipe (makes 12)

Ingredients:

90g Unsalted Butter
30g Dark Chocolate
150g Caster Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
2 Large Eggs
40g Plain Flour
12 Lindt Lindor Eggs (or whatever chocolate you may have on hand!)

Method:

1. Pre-heat oven to 180℃/350℉/Gas Mark 4

2. Line a baking tray (mine is 25cm x 20cm, which worked nicely) with greaseproof paper

3. In a non-stick saucepan, melt the butter and then add the chocolate, stirring over a low heat until melted

4. Remove the pan from the heat and, using a wooden spoon, stir in the sugar and vanilla extract until combined

5. Add the eggs one at a time and beat until smooth

6. Stir in the flour

7. Transfer the batter into the prepared tin and smooth the top. Unwrap and add the eggs, evenly spaced

8. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the top is slightly firm. Allow to cool for 30 minutes before cutting

9. Taste test one brownie (preferably with ice cream) for quality assurance purposes, before wrapping the remainder as Easter gifts

Easter Egg Brownie

Easter Brownies Lindt Eggs

* Prices based on: Tesco Value Unsalted Butter 250g, Tesco Value Dark Chocolate 100g, Silver Spoon Caster Sugar 2kg, Tesco Free Range Mixed Weight Eggs x 15, Tesco Value Plain Flour 1.5kg, Lindt Lindor Assorted Mini Eggs 100g

Nigella’s Molten Chocolate Babycakes

Nigella Chocolate Babycakes

There’s no way these little beauties are thrifty in terms of cost per serving (if you want thrifty chocolate baking, try these instead) but if you need a really impressive, delicious desert that’s cheaper than anything store-bought for a special occasion, then look no further.

From Nigella’s How to be a Domestic Goddess

Ingredients for 6 chocolate pots

50g softened, unsalted butter
350g good quality dark chocolate
150g caster sugar
4 large eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
50g plain flour

1. Pre-heat the oven to 200℃/Gas Mark 6 and pop a baking sheet in the oven to heat. Grease or line 6 ramekins

2. Melt the chocolate (either in the microwave or in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water) and set aside to cool slightly

3. Cream the butter and sugar together and then gradually beat in the eggs, then the vanilla

4. Mix the flour in and, once combined, add the cooled chocolate and mix until smooth

5. Divide the batter between the ramekins

6. Take the hot baking sheet from the oven and quickly transfer the ramekins on to it

7. Bake in the centre of the oven for 10 minutes and then serve immediately (preferably with cream or ice cream!)