Cinnamon Chai Brown Sugar Cookies Recipe

Cookies 1

Let me introduce you to a concept I like to call ‘Baking Friends’ (TM). For those unfamiliar with ‘baking friends’ it’s a pretty simple concept. You bake things. And you give them to people. And you try to make them be your friend. Let me clarify, it’s not a bribe. You don’t mention the motive behind the baked goods. It’s more like pavlov’s dog. You meet someone new. You’re chatting, and then suddenly, out of your bag, comes cookies.

“Who is this girl?! She’s so cool! She just like carries homemade cookies around in her bag. Like the best primary school teacher in the world. Or how everyone imagines Zooey Deschanel will be in real life.”

They eat the cookie. It’s really good, because you’re really good at baking. Now they’re thinking…

“Wow! This girl is so talented. If only I had a talent that wasn’t watching Netflix and peeling oranges so the skin comes off in one piece. Maybe if I hang out with this girl a bit more I’ll become more talented like her…”

As they reach for another one of your amazing cookies they’re brain starts to feel happy. Because that’s what cookies do. And they look up, see your face, and BOOM. Friendship made. Mission complete. Baking friends accomplished.

Okay fine, so maybe it doesn’t always work like that. But I do find baking is a good ice breaker. And it makes people remember you, even if it’s only as the creepy cookie lady. And if it doesn’t work, you have an amazing supply of emergency ‘everyone hates me brownies’ in your bag. So it’s kind of a win win situation.

Brownies are normally my go to baking friends recipe. Because I’m really good at making them and they’re really easy and pretty much everyone likes brownies. But recently these cookies have become my new favourite recipe for a number of different reasons.

1. They don’t require a mixer. Which I love. In London I have a pink kitchen aid which is my favourite thing in the world to look at and my least favourite thing in the world to listen to. 9 times out of 10 I bake to calm myself down (the other 1 time I’m baking to get pumped up before a party which as you can imagine doesn’t normally work) and the sound of a mixer always makes me stressed.

2. They’re very portable. The worst thing that can happen if you’re trying to bake friends is if you take your goods out of your bag only to find a smushed, sticky cupcake that no one’s gonna want to touch. You want something that you can slip into your bag and effortlessly reveal as if you’d basically forgotten you were a cookie bearing goddess.

3. They’re not too experimental. Another big baking friends mistake is making something that your potential friend might hate or be allergic too. There’s nothing worse than putting yourself out there, telling someone you’ve baked them something, and then watching the look on someone’s face when you’ve revealed you’ve made avocado and peppermint walnut chip streusel.

4. But they’re still interesting. The chai definitely adds an element of “Oooh, who is this girl? Chai! How exciting!.’ It makes you seem a little adventurous without being annoying. And it also tastes good. So good.

So what’s been the message of this blog post? Probably that I’m crazy. And need to try and use my words when making friends and not my kick ass cooking skills. But if you take one thing away from this please let it be that these cookies are really good. And you should make them regardless of whether they are a sad attempt at forcing unsuspecting teenagers to like you.

Have a great day,

Scarlett.

Cookies 2

Cinnamon Chai Brown Sugar Cookies Recipe.

Ingredients:

– 3/4 cup (170g) butter.

– 1 and a quarter cups (250g) dark brown soft sugar.

– 1 egg.

– 2 teaspoons vanilla extract.

– 2 cups (250g) flour.

– 1 teaspoon baking soda.

– 1 and a half teaspoon cornstarch (corn flour).

– 1 teaspoon cinnamon.

– a pinch of salt.

– 1 chai tea bag.

– 1/4 cup of granulated sugar + 1 tablespoon cinnamon for rolling.

Steps:

1. Melt the butter. Once it’s cooled, pour into a medium sized bowl and stir in the sugar, followed by the egg and the vanilla.

2. Once everything is mixed add the flour, baking soda, cornstarch, cinnamon and salt. Cut open the tea bag and pour the tea leaves into the mixture. Stir everything together until it forms a soft dough.

3. Leave the dough to chill in the fridge for at lest two hours. Mix the granulated sugar and the cinnamon together in a small bowl.

4. Preheat the oven to 325 F (160 C) and line a baking sheet with baking paper. Remove the dough from the fridge. Take a chunk of dough (let’s face it we all like different size cookies) and roll into a ball. Roll the ball in the cinnamon sugar and place on the baking tray.

5. If you want the crinkly top bake them for 8-9 minutes then take them out and push down gently on the top with a fork or spoon. This will ‘break’ the top and mean you get that cool crinkly effect. Once you’ve done this put them back in for 2 minutes. If you want cookies with flat tops just leave them in for 10-12 minutes.

6. Remove them from the oven and let them cool on the baking tray before moving them to a cooling rack.

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Burger Cupcakes…

There’s not much I can write to accompany these pictures as I feel hamburgers made of cake are more of a visual art than a written one. However I will attempt to explain how the whole cake burger situation came about and how you can make some of these yourself.

Big-Burger-2

In case you are unfamiliar with it, there is a show in the UK called The Great British Bake Off. It is, essentially, the greatest TV show on earth, in fact it may be the greatest thing on earth. There is so much on TV and on the internet that’s about hatred, about pointing out all the horrible things in the world, but the GBBO is solely about joy. It actually makes you feel joyful. And happy. And like things are going to be okay. It’s a beautiful TV show and a beautiful thing to exist and when I think about reasons I’m proud to be British (and reasons I’m sad to be leaving England) The Great British Bake Off comes pretty high on my list.

Big-Burgers-1

In honour of the first episode of the new series last week I decided to try out a new recipe. But it needed to be something special. Something that would make Mary Berry smile and Paul Hollywood claim was focusing too much on ‘style over substance’. It was time to make some hamburger cupcakes. I’d seen things like this on the internet for a while but when I saw the recipe here I couldn’t resist.

Small-Burgers-2

When it comes to baking most things follow the rule that if it looks cool, it’s harder to make, but these were actually surprisingly easy. The recipe essentially breaks down into four stages.

1. Bake your favourite vanilla cupcakes.

2. Bake your favourite chocolate brownies.

3. Cut the cupcakes in half, cut the brownies into little circles, cut small squares out of yellow fondant or marzipan.

4. Glaze the top of the cupcakes with honey, sprinkle on some sesame seeds and then assemble.

I started off by making the big ones which looked amazing but also definitely made most people who looked at them want to vomit. While we were watching Bake Off my dad tried to eat one and judge me in the style of Mary and Paul but he ended up just eating the brownie as he deemed the cake ‘drier than a dried shriveled raisin’.

Small-Burgers-3

So my next attempt came in the form of mini hamburger cupcakes which looked (if possible) even cooler and were actually pretty nice and edible. My friend Anna (who has an amazing blog that you can read here) said next time I make them I should also make real mini hamburgers and then lay them all out on a tray mixed together. She is an evil genius. And I’m definitely doing this as soon as possible.

I hope you enjoy drooling (or gagging) over these as you prepare for episode 2 of the GBBO. I have yet to develop a favourite but I’m leaning towards the 17 year old girl (who is about as obsessive a baker as me) or the builder with the pencil behind his ear.

Hope you are having a good day,

Scarlett.

All Good Things Healthy Peanut Butter Banoffee Pie Recipe

Pie 6

To ‘healthy’ or not to ‘healthy’ seems to be a recurring question in my baking life these days. I started experimenting with healthy (ish) ingredients and raw ‘baking’ a few months ago and I have to admit it’s a lot of fun. Dates, almonds and coconut oil seem to take on a whole new meaning when you have a high speed blender at hand and I always feel like a God when revealing that yes, that thing you just tasted that was very yummy, it’s also good for your hair.

I compiled this banoffee pie recipe from a few different places. My awesome friend (and semi-relative, I think) Clem has an amazing blog called Clem Fresh which is basically an online guide to being a goddess and she is famous for her raw, no sugar, no butter, no anything but yummyness banoffee pie recipe. Then I found a recipe for peanut butter mousse on Minamalist Baker and the whole thing just kind of clicked into place.

So here it is, it’s very yummy, it contains no bad things, and it looks very pretty. If you decide to make it please tweet me a picture and I hope you have a great weekend binge watching Orange is the New Black.

Warning: This recipe requires chilling a can of coconut milk in the fridge for at least 5 hours (preferably over night). So make sure you do that…

Pie 1

Base: 1 cup almonds, 1 cup pecans, 2 cups dates, 1 tbsp coconut oil

1. Grease a pie dish with coconut oil.

2. In a strong blender or mixer, grind the nuts into a sandy texture. Add the dates and oil and keep blending until the mixture comes together and is nice and sticky.

3. Put in the fridge to harden for about an hour.

Pie 2

Caramel: ¼ cup peanut butter, ¼ cup agave, 1 tbsp almond milk to thin it out, 3 bananas

1. Mix together the peanut butter and agave in a small cup and add the almond milk if you’d like a thinner more caramel-y texture.

2. Spread mixture on top of base.

3. Slice bananas into coins and lay out over caramel.

Pie 3

Cream: 1 can coconut milk (chilled for at least 5 hours in the fridge) , 3 tbsp peanut butter, 3 tbsp agave

1. Take chilled coconut milk out of the fridge and without shaking remove the lid.

2. Scoop the cream out of the can, leaving the liquid at the bottom, and put it into a mixing bowl with the peanut butter and agave.

3. Using an electric whisk, whisk the mixture until it comes together and is nice and creamy.

4. Spoon on top of bananas and add some nuts or some more bananas for a little bit of decoration.

Keep the pie in the fridge until serving time and then tuck in enjoy and try to convince everyone it actually is kind of healthy.

Pie 4

Are Cake Pops Really Worth It?

Cake Pops 1

Everyone has those few unanswerable questions, the one’s that keep you up at night going over and over the same information but still the answer eludes you. What is the meaning of life? Why can I never bring myself to finish Mansfield Park? What exactly did happen at the end of Lost? But for me the question I’ve asked myself most often is ‘Are cake pops really worth it?’

First lets look at the pros. They look amazing, with all the cuteness of a lollipop, the portability of a Kit Kat and the elegance of a cupcake they truly are the Megan Fox of the confectionary world. And they taste even better. Like heaven and cake and icing and angels all rolled into one.

Cake Pops 2

But oh the cons… For a girl for whom baking is my happy, calm place cake pops can be hella stressful.  There are a lot of steps involved, and a lot of waiting time between the steps. And there are a lot of places where everything can go wrong. So wrong that you end up on the kitchen floor, cake pop mixture going crusty in your hair looking up the sky and asking why. Why did I choose to make cake pops? Isn’t banana bread good enough any more?

After many failed attempts cake pops and I have reached a pretty good place. They’re not something I’d make every day. And they’re definitely not the easiest. But they’re definitely not as stressful as they used to be. And they do look pretty cute.

Cake-Pops-3

My Cake Pop Method:

  1. Bake a cake. If you’re prone to getting stressed out/in a rush I’d highly recommend using cake mix for this. But if you scorn cake mix with a hatred that would burn a hole through a Betty Crocker box – Bakerella has lots of nice and easy cake recipes.
  2. Break your cake up into crumbs either by hand or in a blender and then mix a big dollop (technical terms) of icing (either store bought or homemade) into the cake crumbs. Keep adding icing and mixing until the mixture is almost dough like and you can form balls with it.
  3. Roll your cakey icing mixture into balls and freeze them for at least an hour.
  4.  Melt some chocolate or candy melts (colored chocolate, you can buy it here) and while it’s melting try to find your cake pop sticks and stand. If you don’t have a stand here’s a list of things I’ve used in the past – some wood with holes drilled in, a watermelon, some modeling clay, another cake, all my brothers (holding four cake pops each).
  5. Take your cake balls out of the freezer. Dip the end of a cake pop stick into the chocolate then insert it into the ball. Once you’ve done this put them back in the freezer for a few minutes.
  6. Now here’s my number one tip. Mix a little bit of sunflower oil into your chocolate before dipping the cake pops in. It will thin the chocolate and make it about 200 times easier to coat your cake pops.
  7. One by one dip your cake pops into the chocolate. I like to completely submerge my cake pop and then tap the stick against the edge of the bowl to let any excess run off. Then quickly put the cake pop into the stand.
  8. If you have any energy left add some decorations but if not just enjoy your awesome creations, and make sure to take a lot of pictures. Because cake pops are seriously impressive.

Flower Pot Chocolate Cake

Pots 1 - 2

As any even vaguely experienced baker will know there’s an art in finding the balance between making your cake look nice and not getting crazy stressed out while decorating it. More than once I’ve baked an entire vat of cupcakes only to discover that I don’t have the right icing/can’t quite be asked to ice them. So when I saw this recipe for mini chocolate cakes baked into flower pots I assumed it was doomed to be perpetually Pinterested and never actually baked.

But actually. It was super easy.

The hardest part about this recipe is finding the flower pots. For about a week I could only find eco flower pots made of soil which was not exactly what I  was looking for; but I ended up with two terracotta plant pots. And no. I didn’t check if they were heat proof. I just put them in the oven. But it worked.

The make up of the cake is as follows:

– Chocolate cake baked straight into the pot.

– A drizzle of m&s salted caramel on top.

– Chocolate ganache on top of that.

– Crumbled up Oreo’s to act as dirt.

– And all topped off with toffee chunks, store bought flowers and some homemade fondant tortoises.

Pots 3

I’m not going to write out the whole recipe because I literally just followed the Sweetapolita one (except for making my own salted caramel, no body got time for that). But I did think I would leave you with a list of my top 5 recipe blogs.

I feel like some people find it hard to know in what context to read blogs, I use bloglovin where you can literally ‘follow’ all your favourite blogs, then when you go to your bloglovin page you get updates every time a blog you follow has updated. However there’s also a joy in forgetting about a blog you love and then going back to it and having dozens of lovely new posts to catch up on. You can follow me here on bloglovin, and here are my top 5 food-y blogs.

1. Sally’s Baking Addiction – 80% of things I bake come from here.

2. A Beautiful Mess – The holy grail of craft, food and general beautifulness.

3. Deliciously Ella – My all time favourite healthy eating blog.

4. Sweetapolita – The most beautiful cakes you will ever see in your whole life ever.

5. Minimalist Baker – Another healthy eating blog with beautiful pictures and very funny words.

Okay, there you have it, my favourite cake I’ve baked to date and some more beautiful blogs to keep you occupied this bank holiday.

Have a lovely day.

Scarlett.

Pots 4

Very Healthy Homemade Reese’s Peanut Buttercup Recipe

Buttercup Cooler

Baking is one of my happy places. Whenever I feel like my thoughts are too loud and the whole world is spinning out of control, the simplicity of a few ingredients, a step by step recipe and a yummy end result is the only thing that can really calm me down.

So much about depression and anxiety doesn’t make sense. You do something that should make you happy and you end up crying or something that someone else wouldn’t blink an eye at gives you a full on panic attack. That’s why finding things that do make sense is so important. And, to me, baking always makes sense. It’s almost like a ritual, or watching a movie, there’s a beginning, middle and an end and if you can just follow the recipe you know that everything will work out in the end.  And if it doesn’t it’s only baking, so who really cares.

Healthy baking is pretty new to me and I’ve always shied away from it because normally there are too many confusing ingredients involved. This recipe is one of my favourites for a few reasons:

  1. It only takes about 15 minutes.
  2. There are only 5 ingredients.
  3. The end result looks very cute (another reason I normally don’t go for healthy recipes is that they end up looking like guinea pig food. And I’m all about the aesthetics.)
  4. The end result is also so delicious you would never believe it was good for you.
  5. But it is.

The title of this recipe says it’s for peanut buttercups but in reality they’re almond buttercups. Just because I prefer almonds. And I only had almond butter in the fridge. But if you’re a true peanut lover feel free to replace the almonds with peanuts and the peanut butter with almond butter.

Very Healthy Homemade Reese’s Peanut (or almond) Buttercup Recipe:

Makes about 24 buttercups.

Takes about 15 minutes + 1 hour to harden.

Ingredients:

– 1 cup almonds

– 1 cup pitted dates

– 2 tbsp almond butter

– 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon coconut oil

– 200g dark chocolate

Method:

1. Grind the almonds and dates together in a food processor or strong blender until they are finely ground and have a sandy texture. Add the almond butter and 1/4 cup coconut oil and mix again until it comes together.

2. Put some mini cupcake liners in a mini cupcake tin and half fill them with the almond mixture. Try to flatten the tops as much as you can with a teaspoon and push the mixture down so it’s condensed. Then put them in the fridge until hardened.

3. Melt the dark chocolate in the microwave or a double boiler and mix in 1 tablespoon of coconut oil. Carefully pour a layer of dark chocolate over your almond buttercups and then put them back in the fridge until the chocolate has set.

4. Enjoy your delicious healthy snack and if you want to you can share them with others. You can store them either in the fridge or out of the fridge depending on how hard you like them as they will soften considerably when out of the fridge. Happy Baking!!

If you decide to make some of these please tweet or instagram me a picture and before you go here is a picture of Catsby and the buttercups. He decided baking time was actually cuddle time and thus this picture was born.

Buttercup Catsby