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!

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


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.