Better Than A Terry’s Chocolate Orange.

I flaked on going out with a friend the other week and promised I’d make it up to him. He decided it that I could make it up by baking something with chocolate and orange. This was when a little light bulb turned on in my head and I remembered a recipe in the Hummingbird Bakery book for Chocolate Orange cupcakes.

The surprising thing about this recipe, however, was that it also used vanilla essence … hmm. I have to admit I was a bit sceptical while making the cupcakes, I thought there would be too many different flavours going on.  But, as always, I put my trust in the Hummingbird Bakery and powered through.

The cupcakes were made in the standard Hummingbird way, mixing all the ‘wet’ ingredients e.g. butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla essence etc. with all the ‘dry’ ones.  Once everything was incorporated and the batter was smooth. I used smaller, UK sized cupcake cases and managed to get 24 cupcakes out of the batter.

 

After twenty minutes in the oven, out came some great smelling, and perfectly flat cupcakes.  I was so happy! It’s been ages since they’ve come out looking so nice.

I let them cool and made up the icing, which consisted of icing sugar, butter, cream cheese, orange zest and cocoa powder.  Now I’ve finally learnt that you can’t pipe icing with any bits in it, no matter how well you mix it. So I went for the typical Hummingbird Bakery swirl and put a few chocolate stars on each to decorate.

 

A box of these cupcakes went to work with me the next day, as I seriously doubted my friend could work his way through 24 of them.  I got to work at 9am with the intention not to try one, but I caved by 11am and had a cupcake with my tea, for taste testing reasons, of course.

Now I’ve never actually had a Terry’s Chocolate Orange, but the cupcakes taste exactly how I imagine them to be.  A colleague actually said they tasted better, and another described the cupcakes as ‘heaven’.  Well, you can’t get a compliment better than that!

Personally I really liked the taste and was pleasantly surprised that all the different flavours worked so well.  The vanilla essence actually helped to develop the orangey flavour.  The icing is beautifully smooth and unbelievably tasty.  Definitely one to bake again!

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What’s Better Than a Hot Chocolate on a Cold Winter’s Day?

I have three loves in life: music, books, and baking.  Today I got to mix two of them together.

We had a meeting at work today to discuss the amazingness of a book called ‘Pear Shaped’ that will be released in January.  Yes I used the word amazingness people, it’s that good – I started reading it last night and I had to ask my mother to hide the book from me while I write this blog.  And what is it about??? A pudding taster!

So how did this meeting connect to two of my loves?  Well, we had a great book to discuss and what better way to discuss it than over a nice afternoon tea – each person contributed and baked a cake for the meeting.

I actually had a bit of trouble choosing which cake to bake; I’m still new there so I couldn’t make anything too flashy that screamed ‘show-off’, but didn’t want to make something boring either. After spending way too much time looking at pictures in the books, I finally chose the Hot Chocolate Cupcakes.

These sound a lot more difficult to bake than they actually are; the hardest part of the recipe is heating the milk and stirring in the cocoa powder! Otherwise the recipe pretty much follows the same pattern.  Mix up the butter, sugar, flour, baking powder and salt while the chocolate milk dries; then hand whisk the eggs into the chocolate milk and pour into the ‘dry ingredients’ and whisk.

The batter was a bit runnier than what I’m used to, so you’d think pouring it into the cupcake cases wouldn’t be hard… Wrong.  I somehow managed to drop the bowl onto a few packages of empty cupcake cases, which caused a knock on effect and essentially ended up in right mess.  I had to pour some batter back into the bowl from squished cases, replace them and start again.

I finally managed to get everything wiped down and clean again; the cupcakes went into the oven for 20minutes and came out smelling like the most amazing hot chocolate.  I got told off yet again for making the house smell too yummy by family members and had to give them warm cupcakes to compensate.

Once the cupcakes cooled I moved onto the icing.  It was now around midnight and I realised that I only had half the amount of icing sugar needed. Typical.  I made do and whisked up the icing.  The lack of icing meant that any fancy ideas for piping went out the window – I resorted to the trusty ‘Hummingbird Bakery Swirl’ with some chocolate sprinkles.

I treated myself to a ‘Yay, I’ve finished’ cupcake and some milk before I collapsed into bed.  I was worried that the cake would taste like a standard chocolate cupcake and that the recipe was just a fancy name.  Thankfully I was wrong; the cake was beautifully moist and didn’t have the richness of a chocolate cupcake – it actually tasted like hot chocolate.

The cupcakes went down a treat at the afternoon tea; in fact all the cakes at the tea party were beautiful. After some strenuous taste testing, I can say that they were all lovely!   There was so much that we also managed to hold an impromptu cake sale for a charity as well. Go team!

So what, you may ask, is better than a hot chocolate on a cold winter’s day?  It’s a hot chocolate cupcake with a cuppa’ and a bloody good book on a cold winter’s night!

A Taste of Heaven

It was my brother’s birthday this week and family has a tradition where I decorate the house to surprise them (not so much of a surprise after 23 years!).  However recently, I’ve added baking a cake of their choice to the tradition.  This year my brother ordered a cheesecake, so I decided on the Butterscotch and Pecan cheesecake.

This cake has to be made in three parts: the base, the cheesy bit, and the butterscotch topping.  This time the base was made from digestives biscuits and butter.  Normal people might blend the biscuits quickly and easily but me? I thought it was much more fun to put the biscuits in a bag and bash them with a rolling pin.  It’s very good anger therapy and actually quite fun! The base got squished into the cake tin and left to cool for 30 minutes.

Then came the cheesy part.  I whisked up the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla essence.  I had two mini problems when doing this bit: I had run out of pecans from the apple cake last week and my brother apparently doesn’t like nuts. Grr. So I made an executive decision and left out the pecans.  The cheese topping went onto the biscuit base and into the oven for 40 minutes.  Once again, I was too scared to actually put the tin in the water bath, so I put it in the level below.

The cheesecake came out of the oven looking amazingly tasty.  There was one small crack on the side but otherwise was perfect.  After cooling on the wire rack and in the fridge for a good few hours I started on the butterscotch top.

I’ve never made butterscotch before and generally love the taste so this was the most exciting part for me.  Once the butter and sugar has melted, the pan was taken off the hob to mix in the rest.  It was quite hard to actually mix in everything and making sure there were no lumps or bumps.  The butterscotch then went on top of the cheesecake and back in the fridge overnight.

The cake got whipped out the next day with a  candle balanced on top to sing happy birthday.  I was a bit disappointed with the butterscotch as it wasn’t as hard or as smooth as it looks in the recipe’s picture, even though it had been in the fridge overnight.


So not my prettiest cake but the taste, oh the taste definitely made up for it.  There are actually no words to describe the taste of this cheesecake.  This is officially my favourite recipe from the Hummingbird Bakery books.  Even without the pecans… oh my! According to my brother this was the best cheesecake he’s ever tasted.

Just goes to show, looks aren’t always everything; as long as it tastes amazing, no one cares what it looked like.  To be honest no one will even remember what it looked like.  They will however, remember the taste.