April 28, 2012

Vanilla Bean Cheesecake Cupcakes


I am a huge cupcake fan. I spent the last two summers in New York and they are absolutely obsessed with cupcakes there, similar to the doughnut obsession in California. When you walk around Manhattan and Brooklyn you don't get very far without seeing displays of cupcakes in bakery windows! That is  bakeries dedicated to just cupcakes!

I could get really deep and intense here talking about cupcakes...but I will resist. Essentially, a cupcake is a cake with frosting.  The cake and frosting have to be perfect. The cake needs to be sturdy enough to hold a mound of icing but still be light and fluffy. The frosting needs to be creamy and airy and the right consistency so that it can sit proudly,  swirled on top of the cake without sliding off.

Ok, so we got that?! Now- let's talk about these Vanilla Bean Cheesecake Cupcakes. Cheesecake Cupcakes I hear you say, I know, ridiculous right? Ridiculously Awesome more like! There are two elements that make these cupcakes-cheesecake cupcakes- a biscuit base and a cream cheese frosting speckled with vanilla beans. 

The crunchy biscuits base, the decadent chocolate cake and tangy sweet cream cheese frosting are a match made in heaven. Whoever you make these for, will be silently impressed. Silent because, they will be stuffing their faces!

Ok, I think you should go and make some....like now.


Holly x 

Broken up digestives and melted butter for the cheesecake part...yay,exciting!

1 Tablespoon of cheesecake base per case. 

I used a shot glass to even the cheesecake base out...but you could totally use your hands.

Butter, dark chocolate and cocoa- Part 1.

All dried ingredients sieved together...this recipe is super simple!

Vanilla sugar and eggs waiting to be made fluffy...

... fluffed!

Butter, dark chocolate and cocoa- Part 2.

Fluffed eggs and sugar, melted cocoa, butter, chocolate and sieved dried ingredients all getting to know each other!

When the dried ingredients are half mixed in add the 1/2 cup of sour cream.

Mix to a super smooth batter.

Use an ice cream scoop to evenly scoop out the batter.

All ready to be baked.

See the cheesecake base? Cool eh?

Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting...mmmmmmmmmmmmmm!

 Use a palette knife to swirl the frosting. 

Use a palette knife to swirl the frosting. Vanilla Bean Cheesecake Cupcakes. Now, that is a mouthful!

Creamy Cheesecake Frosting, Light Chocolate Cake, Crunchy Base.

Recipe, Makes 12 

Cheesecake Base

10 Digestive Biscuits
70g Unsalted Butter

Bash the biscuits in a bowl with a rolling pin until fine.
Add the melted butter and stir.
Add 1 tablespoon of the cheesecake base to each cupcake case.
Use the base of a shot glass to smooth and push down the base. 

Chocolate Cupcake

240g Unsalted Butter, chopped into cubes
60g Dark Chocolate, roughly chopped
60g Good Quality Cocoa
2 Large Eggs
180g Sugar
180g Plain Flour
1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 Teaspoon Baking Powder
Pinch Salt
1/2 Cup Sour Cream

Preheat oven to 175°C and line a 12 cupcake pan with paper cases.
Put chocolate, cocoa and butter into a pot. 
Melt and cool slightly.
Sieve together flour, baking powder, soda and salt.
Using a hand held electric whisk, whisk the eggs and sugar until pale, light and fluffy.
With the whisk on low speed, pour in the slightly cooled chocolate mixture until smooth.
Use a spatula to half mix in the flour before adding the sour cream and mixing fully to a smooth batter.  
Using an ice cream scoop, scoop the batter in evenly on top of the cheesecake bases.
Bake for 20 minutes in the preheated oven.
Remove from oven and allow to cool in the tins for 10 minutes before removing and allowing to cool completely before icing. 

Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting, Ices 16 Cupcakes

500g Icing Sugar
150g Full Fat Cream Cheese, room temperature
50g Unsalted Butter, room temperature
1 Vanilla Pod, beans scraped out

In the bowl of a food mixer fix with paddle cream together the cream cheese, butter, vanilla beans and 250g icing sugar.
Cream for 3 minutes on high speed.
Add the remaing icing sugar and cream until super smooth and airy.
Frost the cupcakes either with the frosting in a pipig bag or with a palette knife. 

This is a TOR...(Totally Original Recipe)

April 26, 2012

Poached Egg, Hummus and Spinach.

Ah the egg. A main ingredient in so many things: quiche, éclairs, pasta, cakes, babies. 

Every now and then I get these insane cravings for eggs-fried, poached, scrambled, boiled, mixed with mayo or in an omelette. It doesn't matter what way it's cooked, I WANT it! They are so versatile. Simply boiled and served with buttery soldiers for dipping or in an extravagant quiche with light flaky pastry. 

This poached egg, hummus and spinach recipe is a treat. I used two slices of brown bread for the ingredients to sit on top of, but you could totally  use white, sour dough or a bagel halved.   What ever you fancy, it's yo' breakfast child! 

The slightly garlicky hummus on the toasted bread kind of melts like butter and the spinach wilts beneath the heat of the poached eggs and the whole thing just begs to be eaten!

Take it slowly, savour it, have a cup of coffee and the magazine by your side. 

Give time to the breakfast!


Holly x

 Two slices of brown bread ready to be toasted...pretty intense work!

Toasted. I love the burnt crust.

Spread generously with hummus.

Lay on some spinach leaves.

The 'pièce de résistance'...two soft poached eggs.

Side view...looking good!

Eating in process....

...I don't want this breakfast to end!

Recipe, Serves 1

2 Slices Brown Bread
Hummus, approx 1 Tablespoon (for spreading)
2 Eggs
Handful Spinach Leaves
Salt and Fresh Cracked Black Pepper.

Place a small pot, just under half filled with water on the stove and bring to the boil.
Turn down the heat until it is barely simmering-you want very little movement in the water so that the eggs don't break up when poaching. 
Add some salt to the water.
With your hands hovering over the surface of the water, carefully crack the eggs in, one at a time. 
Do not move the egg for 45 seconds, then slowly push the white of the egg around the yolk-this will give the egg shape.
Cook for approx 3-4 minutes for a runny egg.
Toast the bread, spread with hummus and top with the spinach leaves.  
Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon, getting rid of any excess water and place on top of the spinach.
Season with salt and pepper.
Dig in!

April 23, 2012

Sky High Chocolate Cake

I am constantly on a mission to find and make the perfect chocolate cake! Each year for my brother's birthday he requests a chocolate cake and this year was no different. 

For me, making a chocolate cake is like a composer composing a beautiful piece of  music. It goes far beyond a simple sponge and some frosting. I look at the type of chocolate and cocoa powder being used, the depth and width of the tins, how high the cake is going to be after it is fully frosted, whether it is going to be even and balanced and how much frosting is going to be needed to lavishly frost the outside of the cake so that it looks big and generous.

I want my chocolate cake to be like a ''Southern Cake'', straight out of Alabama or South Carolina; tall, tiered and hand frosted with a palate knife sitting proudly on top of a cake stand. 

In this recipe I used two cake tins that are 3 inches in height and 10 inches in diameter. Somewhat like a tin you would bake a Christmas Cake in. The height of these tins means, that there is very little doming on the cakes as they bake. Which in turn means, you will have a tall cake because less will need to be trimmed so that the cake sits flat. 

If you are like me and obsessed with your cakes being big and tall invest in some high sided tins. We can totally obsess together!! 

Once I was finished icing the cake, it stood just under 6 inches in height. If you ask me, 6 inches of chocolatey beauty but maybe I'm biased! 

Also, there may be some frosting left over...but seriously who's going to complain about that?! 


Holly x

 Cubed butter at room temperature.

Sieved dry ingredients in the bowl of a food mixer.

Dry ingredients with softened butter and 125ml full fat milk.

Mixer on medium speed for 3-5 minutes until a crumbly texture is reached..(all butter incorporated)

Add one third of the egg/milk mixture and mix for one 1 minute...followed by another third...

..and the remaining third. Beat until silky smooth.

Divide into greased tins that are lined with parchment on the base.

Use a ladle and a spatula to evenly fill each lined tin.

Who gets to lick the bowl?!

Smooth the top of the batter with a spatula.

Allow to cool completely in the tins....See how little doming is on the cakes?

Make it look real pretty now, you hear?!

Recipe, 12-14 slices.

Adapted from Not So Humble Pie


2 1/4 Cups Plain Flour 

3/4 Cup Good Quality Cocoa Powder-Green & Blacks 

2 Cups Vanilla Caster Sugar/ Caster Sugar

1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
226g Unsalted Butter, room temperature
250ml Full Fat Milk
4 Large Eggs
2 Large Egg Whites 
1 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract/2 if not using Vanilla Sugar

Butter and  line the base of two 3 inch high x 10 inch diameter cake tins OR 4 x 8 inch regular cake tins.
Preheat oven to 170°C
Cut the butter into cubes and allow to come to room temperature.
Sieve together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt into the bowl of a food mixer, fit with a whisk.
In a separate bowl, beat together the whole eggs, egg whites, vanilla and 125ml of the full fat milk.

Add the cubed butter to the dry ingredients with the remaining 125ml of full fat milk.
Turn on to a medium speed and work for 4 minutes, scraping down the sides of the mixer so that all the butter gets worked in. 
Add one third of the egg/milk mixture and beat for a minute.
Scrap down the sides.
Repeat this process until the egg/milk mixture is gone. 
The batter should be silky and smooth with no lumps. 

Divide evenly into the two lined cake tins using a ladle to measure the batter out evenly.
Smooth the top and bake for 40 minutes in the preheated oven.

Remove from oven.
Allow to cool completely in the tins before turning out. 
Using a serrated knife, cut and even out the tops of each cake so that they are flat.
*Because the cake tins are 3 inches in height, very little evening out will need to be done* 

Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

200g Milk Chocolate
250g Dark Chocolate
6 Tablespoons Good Quality Cocoa Powder-Green & Blacks 
8 tablespoons boiling water
150g Unsalted Butter, room temperature 
500g Full Fat Cream Cheese, room temperature
1-2 Cups Icing Sugar
Salt, pinch 

Break the chocolate into squares and melt over a low heat in a glass bowl set over a pot of water (make sure the water doesn't touch the bottom of the bowl).
Allow to cool and come to room temperature for 25-30 minutes, so that the butter doesn't melt in the frosting.
Combine the hot water and cocoa powder, stirring out any lumps. Set aside.
In the bowl of a food mixer, fit with a whisk, whisk the butter, salt and 1 cup of icing sugar together until smooth, light and fluffy. 
Add the cream cheese to the cocoa powder/water mixture. 
With the mixer on low, add the room temperature chocolate to the icing sugar mix and turn to medium.
Whisk for 3 minutes or until all ingredients are well incorporated. 
Scrape down the sides and mix for another minute.
Add the cream cheese mixture and whisk for another 2 minutes.
Add some more icing sugar if it is not stiff enough or not sweet enough.
If it is too stiff, add some water.
The frosting should be well combined, smooth with no lumps.


Place one cake into the centre of a cake stand, cut side facing up.
Add one third of the frosting and spread evenlying out to the sides. 
Place the other cake on top, with the bottom of the cake facing upwards. 
Frost the cake all over with the remaining frosting even as possible! 

April 22, 2012

Pineapple Granita

I had a pineapple sitting out on the worktop for over a week. Normally it would have been eaten within a day but I was staying with my sister for the week and had no time to use it. When I got to it, it was kind on its way out-sad times! So, I cut it into chunks and decided to make granita out of it. 

Granita comes from Sicily, Italy and is eaten in some parts of the country in the morning with coffee and freshly baked Brioche. It can be seen on restaurant menus as a substitute to sorbet as a palate cleanser or part of a dessert. 

Granita is super easy to make and I'm using it as a dessert. Granita is semi frozen and made with only three ingredients- sugar, water and a flavouring. Here, puréed pineapple is the flavour component. 

This pineapple granita would be lovely and refreshing as part of a spring/summer lunch, dinner or BBQ served in its own or with some fresh berries and yoghurt. 

It can be made well ahead and keeps incredible well in the freezer. 


Holly x

 Chopped pineapple, so summery!

Blending pineapple, blending with syrup, blending complete.

The straining process...

...is complete.

Liquid, foamy pineapple juice.

 Ready to be frozen!


3 Tablespoons Caster Sugar
6 Tablespoons Water
Pinch of Salt
1 Pineapple, skin  and core removed and chopped

Make a sugar syrup by combining sugar, salt and water and dissolving the sugar over a low heat.
Allow to cool.
Place chopped pineapple in a blender and blend.
Once blended, keep the motor running and pour in the cooled sugar syrup.
Blend until smooth. 
Pour into a sieve set over a bowl and strain off the liquid by forcing with a spatula.
Once strained, pour into a 9x13cm tin and place in the freezer.
Every 20 minutes for three hours break up the ice crystals in the granita, racking through with a fork.
Serve and enjoy!

April 19, 2012

OTT Flavour Loaded Bread

I made homemade garlic bread the other day to go with pasta. It was a nice change from the frozen one you just bung in the oven for 20 minutes. I added some fresh chives from the garden for a gently onion flavour!

I was asked to make it again the following week but I turned the flavour notch up a little! I kept one side garlic and chive (who doesn't love garlic bread anyway?!) BUT, the other side was loaded with pesto, mozzarella and sundried tomatoes. 

Doing this to a shop bought loaf of bread is a super easy way of jazzing up any meal. It would go awesome with soup, salad, pasta, a BBQ. 

I'd totally eat it on it's own.

It's totally versatile as well. Make up some of your own flavour combos...no matter what, it's going to be super tasty!

Just two modest pieces of bread waiting to be 'extreme make over-ed'

Flavour me up...

 Flavour town!

 Crispy, cheesy, melty bread is just the best. Look at how crispy that garlic bread is!

Very precise cutting...

...and presentation!

Holly x


1 large Bloomer Loaf/Baguette

Garlic Bread

1/2 Bunch Chives, chopped
Tablespoon Garlic Paste
3 Tablespoons Butter, softened
Salt and Pepper

Pesto, Mozzarella and Sundried Tomato

8 Sundried Tomatoes, chopped
3 Tablespoons Fresh Basil Pesto or Jarred
200g Mozzarella

Preheat oven to 200°C.
Slice the bread in half lengthways and lay out flat.
For the garlic bread: with a spoon, cream the softened butter with the garlic paste, season and fold in the chopped chives. 
Smear over one half of the bread. 
On the other half,spread on the basil pesto.
Sprinkle over the chopped sundried tomatoes followed by the torn mozzarella. 
Place on a baking tray and 'bake' for 15 minutes in the preheated oven.
After 15 minutes switch to the grill for 2 minutes or until the bread is nicely crisped and the cheese is just browning but still stringy and melty.