Skittles Cake

Oh you poor, poor neglected blog. I feel a bit rusty and clunky writing here again, but what better way to be rejuvenated than with a cake that looks like THIS.

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This cake started off as chicken scratches on a wee post it note while bored at work one night. I’d been trawling through the cake world on Instagram and felt inspired to try something totally out of my comfort zone, like I’d never attempted before.

I designed the outside and then, with that outrageousness in mind, tried to settle on a flavour. No way can you have a cake that’s so decadent and crazy on the outside with a boring old vanilla or chocolate cake inside. I contemplated a red velvet, a gin and tonic, a fruity flavour.. but settled on a Skittles cake.

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I used my basic vanilla cake recipe, which makes three 7″ layers. You can use any plain vanilla cake recipe you like and adapt it to make whatever size and as many layers as you like.

While your cakes are baking, it’s time to make the Skittle Syrup which will be poured all over the cooled cakes!

Skittles Syrup

1/4 cup of each colour – I used tropical flavoured skittles so had pink, orange, yellow, blue and green.

1/4 cup of water for each colour.

Put one colour of skittles and water in a small saucepan and heat over a medium heat until the skittles have dissolved, stir throughout with a spatula or spoon. It may look like it wont form a liquid but just keep stirring. Pour in to a small heatproof bowl to cool. I popped mine in the fridge to cool quicker cause I’m super impatient! Repeat for the rest! Once the syrup has cooled and you’re ready to use it, strain it through a sieve cause the coating of the skittles forms a kind of wax on top which you don’t want in your cake!

Once your cakes have cooled, place them on plates and poke with a chopstick or other larger pointy kitchen object (I used the end of my handheld beaters cause that’s all I could find!!). Make as many holes as you like and don’t be shy. The bigger the hole, the more syrup goes in to the cake!

With a spoon, gently pour the syrup in spots around the cake, making sure to cover the entire thing. I didn’t quite use all of my syrup so just use your judgement here as to how much you put on!

I wrapped my cakes in glad wrap and let them sit in the fridge for a day, to absorb all the skittley goodness!

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Now comes the most frustrating part of the entire cake, making the Skittle powder. Here’s something you may not know – Skittles are a pain in the ass to food process! EVERYTHING was covered a sticky blue powder buuuuut at least it tastes good enough to lick off ūüėČ

So you’re gonna want to grind up 3/4 of a cup of ONE colour of Skittle. Such a pain in the ass separating out all the colours but so worth it. If you wanted to just chuck ’em all in – go for it – but you might end up with a brown buttercream! Not that appetizing!!

Skittles Buttercream

3/4 cup skittles, ground

180 grams butter, softened

500 grams icing sugar

4-6 tablespoons milk

This is made just like a normal buttercream. Beat your butter for a good wee while until really pale and fluffy. Add skittles powder and half of the icing sugar. Beat beat beat. Add the rest of the icing sugar and two tablespoons of milk. Beat it again! You can now add more milk to adjust to your preference. I like my buttercream smooth but thick so I added another 2 tablespoons which gave me a nice consistency. At this point, it hadn’t achieved the colour I’d imagined so I added in some Wilton teal gel colour. You can do this too, just add a little bit at a time on the end of a skewer and mix real good until fully incorporated.

Pull your cakes out of the fridge and start to assemble! There’s lots of great videos on Youtube that show you how to stack, crumb coat and buttercream cakes so I’m not gonna waffle on about that.

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Next, I made a dark chocolate ganache with 200 grams of dark chocolate and 100 mls of cream, microwaved in three 30 second bursts. Let it cool, and then pour a little bit at a time on to the top of the cake, spread out with an offset spatula until it begins to drop over the edges.

And then the fun part! Decorating!!

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I used Kit Kats, the leftover skittles and crushed up clinkers but you could use whatever takes your fancy! Serve with a warning of diabetes and ENJOY.

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Hot Chocolate

Death is a funny old thing and so is the grieving process. Grief affects everyone differently. For some, grief means crying, it means wallowing and embracing the sadness. It means clocking out from life to celebrate and mourn for those who have passed. For others, grief causes anger and unresolved feelings to bubble to the surface. It’s a chance to reconcile deep seated issues and hopefully, begin again with a clean slate. For me, grief spurs me in to action and I create. I create new things, I finish old projects, I keep my mind and my hands busy.

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It’s been a week of deaths and so the past couple of days have been a flurry of starting my re-upholstery project, finishing my 2nd ever quilt and my ultimate comfort activity, baking. Anything to fill the time and to keep my mind off the emotions which must inevitably be dealt with.

One of the best things to come from this week, is these cupcakes.

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I was skeptic from the start. Melting the butter, huh? Making a cocoa paste, what the? Sour cream, in a cupcake? But with raving reviews from a friend, I had to give them a go. I was happily surprised, these actually do taste like a hot chocolate in cupcake form!

Hot Chocolate Cupcakes

adapted from here

makes 24 generous cupcakes

heaped 1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup plus 1 T hot water
2 1/2 cups flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. baking powder
230 grams butter
1 2/3 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 T vanilla extract
250 grams sour cream

Preheat oven to 180 degrees.  Line cupcake pan with paper liners.
In a small bowl whisk together flour, baking soda and baking powder; set aside.
In a small jug, combine cocoa powder and hot water and whisk until smooth.
Combine the butter and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is smooth and butter is completely melted.  Transfer the mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium-low speed until the mixture is cool, about 4-5 minutes.
Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Blend in the vanilla and then cocoa mixture until smooth.  With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in three additions alternating with the sour cream.

Using a cookie scoop fill liners with batter, using one scoop per cupcake.  Bake about 18-20 minutes.  Let cool in pan about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

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Then comes the actual best part of the cupcake, the frosting…

Hot Chocolate Frosting:

225 grams butter, at room temperature
3 cups icing sugar
hot chocolate powder (I can’t give you an exact measurement cause I just kept tipping it in until it was chocolatey enough for me… I’d estimate maybe about 125 grams maybe? I used the Avalanche sugar free hot choc mix as that was all I had but any hot chocolate powder would work, probably not milo though!)
1-2 T milk
In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter and icing sugar  for 2-3 minutes on med-high speed.  Lower the speed and add the hot choc powder and milk. Beat for another 3-5 minutes until light and fluffy. Frost cooled cupcakes.

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Failure

If baking has taught me anything, it’s to rejoice as much in the failures as I do in the successes… There’s nothing else you can really do. There’s no point in moping, or crying over spilled milk (literally). May as well laugh about it and move on to the next conquest! At least you’ve tried, and if you’re wise, you’ve learnt a lesson for next time. And there will always be a next time.

I try to apply this same philosophy to life and although, at times, it’s harder, I like to think I have a pretty positive outlook on things!

Today was one of those days where I lived up to the name of my blog, Procrastibaking. I had a gooooooood four hour stretch of nothing but study planned. Alas, I ran in to one roadblock and oops off we go on the procrastination train. Hence me being woefully unprepared for this recipe and making a god awful mess of EVERYTHING in the kitchen this morning!!

I’ve been hanging out to try making donuts recently and I found this recipe a couple of days ago that spoke to me – it looks easy, delicious and quick to whip up! And it would be, if you did it right.

But enough rambling… On to photos…

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So they kind of don’t look too bad but these are actually awful… They’re burnt on the outside, uncooked on the inside, taste a little funny and the pastry cream is lumpy and bland tasting. Also, I’m literally cracking up to myself while writing this post because I can’t believe just how terrible I made these!!

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Doesn’t that just look so appetizing!!!!

I’m going to try these again soon – with a little more time, a little more patience and a little more preparation and then, maybe then, I’ll share the recipe with you!

Chocolate Chips

I love me a good scone, I reckon it’s my English heritage.. So often though scones are disappointingly dry and flavourless :(. This here though, this is a good scone. It’s the most basic recipe but sometimes, simpler is better… Today though, I decided to fancy it up! With the addition of mini chocolate chips and a brown sugar crust, these scones go from Afternoon Tea to Special Treat.

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Biting through the crunchy crust, in to one of these scones is akin to biting in to a fluffy, melty, chocolatey dream…

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Brown sugar crusted chocolate chip scones

based on the basic scone recipe from here

Makes 8 – 10 depending how you cut them!

2 cups flour

3 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

110 grams FROZEN butter (this part is super important – this is what makes the scones super scrumptious)

1 cup of cream

1 teaspoon vanilla

a pile of chocolate chips

1/3 cup brown sugar (for crust)

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In a food processer, process the frozen butter, flour, baking powder and brown sugar until combined and breadcrumb-y.. You want the butter to be almost fully combined but not quite..

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Transfer to a big bowl and add the cream and vanilla, mix until just combined and then turn out on to a floured surface. Knead until fully incorporated.

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Now, when it comes to chocolate, I’m of the more is more persuasion so I just tipped a big pile on to the dough – feel free to add more or less depending on your taste. Knead in the chocolate chips and shape the dough into a circle.

I chucked the dough in the freezer for 5 – 10 minutes just to firm up a bit but depending on how fast you’ve worked you could skip this step. You just want to make sure that the butter is still pretty cold cause this is what helps achieve the flakey airy texture of a good scone!


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Once you’re ready to bake, pat the brown sugar over the top of the dough and then cut in to triangles.

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Bake at 210 degrees Celsius for 11-12 minutes or until the crust starts to brown.

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Maltesers

I have a thing for Maltesers. An all consuming, can’t stop thinking about them, kind of thing. I think I love them more than I’d love my first born. In our house, a bag of Maltesers in one of those things that, once it’s open, you ain’t stopping until it’s empty – so I thought… what better way to combine two of my favourite things (baking and Maltesers) than Malteser Cupcakes!! At least this way I feel sliiiiightly less guilty every time I see the empty bag in the rubbish bin…

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I adapted my favourite vanilla cupcake recipe by substituting some of the flour for some malted milk powder (to get that Malteser insides taste) which means the cupcakes do sink a wee bit in the oven but let’s be honest – it’s not reeeeaally about how they look is it!

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Malteser Cupcakes

adapt from here

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup malted milk powder

3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

pinch of salt

45 grams butter, softened

1/2 cup whole milk

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup maltesers, roughly chopped

Directions

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Put the flour, malted milk powder, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and butter into your mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat on slow speed until the mixture is a sandy consistency and everything is combined.  Gradually pour in half of the milk and beat until the milk is just incorporated.

Whisk the egg, vanilla and remaining milk together in a separate bowl for a few seconds, then pour into the flour mixture and continue beating until just incorporated. ¬†Scrape any unmixed ingredients from the side or the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. ¬†Continue mixing until the batter is smooth. ¬†Just a few minutes. ¬†Do not overmix. Add the Maltesers and stir through so they’re evenly distributed

Spoon the batter into paper lined muffin tins, dividing between the 12 cups.  Bake for 15-20 minutes or until light golden and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let the cupcakes cool slightly in the pan, then turn them out onto a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

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Malteser Buttercream

50 grams butter softened

2 cups icing sugar

1/4 cup malted milk powder

6 tbsp whole milk

Beat the butter until fluffy, add the icing sugar and malted milk powder, mix until combined. Add the milk and beat on a high speed until lightened in colour and smooth.

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These cupcakes went out to a lucky competition winner on my Facebook page! Click here and like it!

Coconut

I’ll be honest, I’m a pretty flaky person… I tend to get really excited about projects in the beginning but eventually my motivation and enthusiasm fizzles out. I’ve got so many half arsed¬†projects strewn around the place, from embroidery to woodwork to half sewn quilts.

This year I decided to set myself a personal challenge to commit to something and to see it through to the end, hence the birth of the 52 weeks of baking challenge! Each week of the year there’s been a theme, flavour, ingredient or type of baking, adapated from here. We’re half way through the challenge¬†now and so far there’s only been two weeks that I’ve missed – one of which was croissants (I’m saving this for my holidays!), so I’m feeling pretty proud of my commitment thus far.

My inspiration for this weeks baking comes courtesy of a family friend who dropped off a bag of juicy lemons! The theme for this week is coconut so I mashed the two together to come up with these lemon curd filled coconut cupcakes.

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Lemon curd

made using Ina Garten’s¬†recipe

3 lemons

1 1/2 cups sugar

120 grams butter, room temperature

4 extra-large eggs

1/2 cup lemon juice (3 to 4 lemons)

pinch of salt

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Zest the 3 lemons, being careful to avoid the white pith. Put the zest in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add the sugar and pulse until the zest is very finely minced into the sugar.

Cream the butter and beat in the sugar and lemon mixture. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and then add the lemon juice and salt. Mix until combined.

Pour the mixture into a saucepan and cook over low heat until thickened, stirring occasionally¬†until thickened. Remove from the heat and cool or refrigerate. You can make this in advance – as long as it’s kept refrigerated it keeps for ages

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Coconut Cupcakes

adapted from here

120 grams butter, at room temperature

¬ĺ cup ¬†granulated sugar

1 egg, at room temperature

1 egg white, at room temperature

2 teaspoon coconut essence

1 cup plain flour

1¬ľ teaspoons baking powder

¬ľ teaspoon salt

‚Öď cup dessicated¬†coconut

¬Ĺ cup coconut milk

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Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Line your muffin trays with cupcake liners.

Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy, add the egg, egg white and coconut extract and beat until combined. If your coconut is a bit chunky, whiz it in a food processor so you don’t have stringy bit through your cupcakes!

Slowly add the dry ingredients (including dessicated coconut) in three batches, alternating with coconut milk, beating until fully combined.

Evenly divide the batter amongst your lined cups. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 18 to 20 mins. Remove from oven and let cool for 10-15 mins before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Makes between 12-14 cupcakes.

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Lemon-Coconut Buttercream

adapted from here

225 grams butter

450 grams powdered sugar, sifted

2 teaspoon coconut essence

2 tablespoon milk

1 lemon, zested

1/2 lemon, juiced

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer using the paddle attachment, cream the butter until smooth. Gradually add the powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Beat in the essence, milk, lemon juice and lemon zest and beat until light and fluffy. The mixture may separate due to the lemon juice and milk mixing but just continue to beat it and it will come back together.

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Topping

1/3 cup dessicated coconut

While cupcakes are baking, spread the shredded coconut over a baking tray and toast and until light brown, watch it carefully!

And here they are all packaged up and ready to go out to some friends of mine

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Snickers

I’m a feeder.¬†Not in a fetish way! In a loving way! If I bring you food, you know it means I appreciate you. So when my friend Moana posted on Facebook about this thing called a Snickers Pie, I knew I had to make it for her.

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This may possibly be the most disgustingly decadent thing I have ever made. A base of double chocolate fudge cookie crumbs covered with a layer of caramel sauce and chopped up Snickers bars..

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The next layer is a beautiful airy mixture of cream cheese, caster sugar, smooth peanut butter and whipped cream, lovingly folded together and smoothed over the top.

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You’d think that would be enough right?! But no…last but not least is a topping of 72% cocoa chocolate ganache, sprinkled with peanuts and MORE snickers bar!

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Snickers Pie

adapted from here

Makes 1 x 23 cm pie

For the crust

75g butter, melted

250g chocolate cookies (I used double chocolate fudge cookies because it needed more calories!!)

For the filling

250g cream cheese softened (take it out of the fridge an hour or two before you use it, or if you’re forgetful like me, you can microwave it in quick bursts until it softens a little

375 mls cream

1/2 cup white sugar

2/3 cup smooth peanut butter (preferably the 100% nuts kind of ones – this has already got enough sugar in it!)

1 can Carnation caramel

4.5 Snickers bars, chopped up (the other .5 will be used for the top!)

For the topping

200g chocolate (I used Whittakers 72% dark ghana to add another layer of flavour – you could use whatever you wanted, milk or dark or a mixture)

1/3 cup cream

To decorate

1/2 cup of unsalted roasted peanuts and the .5 of the Snickers bar from above

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Directions

Line/grease your tin or pie plate. I made mine in a springform cake pan so I just lined the bottom with baking paper and greased the sides.

In a food processor, process the cookie crumbs until very fine and then add melted butter. Press this mixture into the pie plate or cake tin. Chuck it in the fridge to harden.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a balloon whisk, whip the cream until it becomes firm peaks. Whip it past what you feel is right and get it to that stage where it almost separates. You want as much air in it as possible. Set aside in a large bowl.

Switch the head on the mixer to the beater head and then using the same mixer bowl beat the cream cheese, sugar and peanut butter until it becomes smooth and there are no lumps. Fold the cream and the peanut butter and cream cheese mixture together gently making sure not to deflate the mix.

Empty the caramel in to a bowl and give it a really good stir with a fork to break it up and make it smooth. Remove the base from the fridge and spread it with the caramel. Place the Snickers pieces on top of the layer of caramel and then top this with the whipped cream cheese and peanut butter filling. Place in the freezer to firm up.

Meanwhile make the ganache by chopping the chocolate in to fine pieces and microwaving in 45 second intervals, stirring in between until smooth. Warm up the cream either in the microwave in 30 sec intervals or in a small pot over a medium heat. Add the cream to the melted chocolate. It will probably separate and will look ruined but just keep stirring and it should come together in to a heavenly chocolatey ganache.

Remove the pie from the freezer and spread the ganache all over, smoothing to the edges with a spatula. Top with the peanuts and remainder of the snickers bar.

Keep in the fridge until ready to serve!

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