Microwave mug brownie and cake

I’ve made microwave mug cake a fair number of times since my friend introduced me to it at uni last year – it’s dead easy and perfect student food for when you really can’t be bothered to wait for the oven (yep, I’m that lazy sometimes!). I’d never tried microwave brownie until last night, but it was sooooo goooood, easier than the cake and (whisper it) maybe even nicer… The brownie doesn’t look like much (and I don’t even have a photo of the cake), but that is no reflection on the taste!

Mug brownie (recipe adapted from here)

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This makes a decent-sized brownie for one, although it is half of the original recipe which must be massive! Cook it for less time if you like it gooey, more if you like it more cooked!

2 tbsp plain flour

2 tbsp sugar

1 scant tbsp cocoa

1 tbsp oil

1 tbsp water

– Mix ingredients in a mug.

– Microwave for approx. 45 seconds.

– That’s it! I put some ice-cream on top for extra yum!

 

Mug cake

This makes a cake big enough for two, but it’s tricky to halve because of the egg, so make it with a friend! You can adapt it in a million ways – the recipe here is for plain or chocolate, but we’ve also added mashed banana, or a spoonful of nutella, and everything seems to work!

6 tbsp flour (plain or self-raising) (or 5 tbsp flour and 1 tbsp cocoa, for chocolate cake)

4 tbsp sugar

1 egg

3 tbsp milk

3 tbsp oil

– Mix the dry ingredients in a reasonably large mug.

– Add the egg and mix, then add milk and oil and mix some more.

– Microwave for approx. 3 minutes

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Chocolate cupcakes with really easy chocolate ganache

My mum brought me supplies of cocoa and baking powder last weekend, yay! So yesterday I took the opportunity to use them in some chocolate cupcakes! The recipe is adapted from the Hummingbird bakery, one that my friend often uses so I knew it should be good, and best of all it doesn’t involve creaming (I haven’t got an electric whisk and and generally too lazy to cream by hand)! For the icing I made chocolate ganache (which I hadn’t ever tried before), but rather than using cream I used milk and butter, an idea I saw in one of the contributions to Nigella’s website (here), and this blog. I haven’t managed to find a muffin tray here, so I bought some silicon cupcake cases, which for some unknown reason were white, mustard yellow and moss green! I hadn’t ever used them before but they worked pretty well, I wasn’t sure whether I should grease them or not so I greased some, which made the cakes come out a bit more easily but the non-greased ones didn’t stick either.

Ingredients:

100g plain flour

140g sugar

20g cocoa powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

40g soft butter or margarine

120ml milk

1 egg

 

For the ganache:

100g dark chocolate

60ml milk

25g butter

– Preheat the oven to 170c.

-Mix the flour, sugar, cocoa and baking powder, and rub in the butter (or mix in a food processor).

– Mix the egg and milk in a jug. Add half to the dry ingredients and beat to mix and remove all the lumps.

– Add the remaining liquid and beat well; the batter is quite liquid.

– Divide between 12 cupcake cases and bake for 15-20 minutes.

– Make the ganache: place the butter and milk in a saucepan and heat until the butter has melted and the liquid has just boiled.

– Remove from the heat and add the chocolate, breaking it into small pieces. Wait a couple of minutes for it to melt, then beat together.

– Leave to cool and thicken for 10-15 minutes before icing the cakes.

 

 

Cappuccino cupcakes!

I must have made espresso cupcakes at least ten times, but because they’re so good, I’d never really considered the recipe on the opposite page, for cappuccino cupcakes. Until now, that is! And while I love how rich the espresso cupcakes are, with their dark chocolate in the cake and in the icing, these cappuccino cupcakes were certainly very good too: the sponge is quite a strong coffee sponge, and the icing is made with sweet white chocolate so they balance each other nicely. As usual when I make cupcakes, I did half the amount of icing suggested – is it just me who finds that most cupcake recipes make too much icing? If I had made the suggested amount, I am sure there would have been just too much sweet icing and they would have been rather sickly! As it was, the balance was pretty good. I think they look rather cute, too, with chocolate sprinkled over the top – just like real cappuccinos. Well, sort of! One day I would love to host a tea party with these, espresso cupcakes and earl grey cupcakes, and then serve lemonade out of teapots! (Too much?!). Like the espresso cupcakes, the recipe is originally from Nigella Lawson’s ‘How to be a domestic goddess’, one of my favourite ‘fancy’ baking books.

Ingredients (makes 12 cupcakes):

225g butter or margarine

225g self-raising flour

225g golden caster sugar

2 eggs

1 heaped tablespoon instant espresso powder

1 tsp baking powder

2-3 tablespoons milk

For the icing:

80g white chocolate (I used M&S ‘creme brulee’ chocolate as it was all I could find, which gave it a lovely caramel flavour)

30g butter

60g soured cream

130g icing sugar

A couple of teaspoons of cocoa powder or hot chocolate powder to sprinkle over

 

– Preheat the oven to 200c and line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper cases.

– Place all the cake ingredients apart from the milk in a blender, and pulse until combined.

– Gradually add the milk, while beating, until the batter is soft. I think I added a bit too much as it was quite runny, but it didn’t seem to matter!

– Divide between the cases and bake for around 20 minutes, then leave to cool completely before icing.

– For the icing, melt the chocolate and butter in the microwave, and leave to cool slightly before stirring in the soured cream.

– Gradually sift in the icing sugar while beating with an electric whisk.

– Spread a generous amount on each cupcake.

– If you like, sprinkle some cocoa powder or hot chocolate powder over the top to make them look like cappuccinos!

Banana loaf (with orange and lemon!)

In my house, only my dad and I like banana loaf, so I had never made it before. But we had two brown-looking bananas and I’d wanted to make it ever since I tasted my friend’s amazing version at uni, so I dug out the trusty Delia’s ‘Complete Cookery Course’ and got to work! Although the original recipe called for four bananas, it worked OK with two, and her addition of citrus zest was a nice touch, and made it different to any I’ve had before. It was a really easy recipe, too – practically an all-in-one! Because this is a fairly old recipe, the weights are in ounces first, with grams after, so I used the imperial weights but I’ve given both below.

Ingredients

3 oz (75g) butter or margarine

4 oz (110g) caster sugar

1 egg, beaten

8 oz (225g) plain flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

4 ripe bananas (but I only used 2 and it was fine)

Zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon

Optionally, 2 oz (50g) walnuts (but I left these out)

– Preheat the oven to 180c; grease a 1lb loaf tin (3.5 x 7.5 inch base / 9 x 19 cm) and line the base.

– Place the margarine, sugar and eggs in a mixing bowl, then sift over the flour and baking powder. Mix with an electric whisk until well-combined – the mixture was quite dry but it didn’t matter.

– In a separate bowl, mash the bananas with a fork.

– Add the mashed banana, orange and lemon zest and walnuts (if using) to the mixing bowl and whisk again thoroughly.

– Transfer the mixture to the loaf tin and bake for 50-55 minutes until it is golden and well risen.

– Slice and eat. My dad has it with butter but I just eat it plain!

Yummy spiced fudge-y blondies!

As you can tell from the title, I wasn’t quite sure what to call these. What I am sure about, though, is that they are one of the best – if not the best – thing we have ever baked, and really easy as well! They taste a bit of butterscotch, and the spices – especially the cardamom – really come through. Yummy! The recipe comes from Edd Kimber’s ‘The Boy Who Bakes’, and he calls them ‘Speculaas blondies’, but I hadn’t heard of speculaas, which are apparently a Belgian biscuit with the same spice combination. I’m not entirely sure what the difference is between brownies and blondies, either – I think it’s that blondies use lighter coloured sugar…? Anyway these were delicious: incredibly rich, almost like eating sweets, so we cut them into quite small squares (but they got eaten very quickly!) As you can see from the photos, it rose in the oven and then fell in the middle as it cooled which gave it a yummy chewy crust!

Ingredients:

225g butter

1 teaspoon ground ginger

A quarter teaspoon grated nutmeg

A quarter teaspoon ground cloves

An eighth of a teaspoon ground cardamom pods – I used the seeds of about 4 pods, crushed in a pestle and mortar

400g light brown sugar

2 eggs

250g plain flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

80g chocolate (dark or milk)

 

– Preheat the oven to 180c and grease and line a 23 x 33 cm baking tin (ours was actually more like 20 x 28 cm!). Make sure the greaseproof paper sticks up over the sides in case it rises too much, and to make it easier to remove.

– Melt the butter in a saucepan, then add the spices and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the butter and cook for five minutes, stirring all the time.

– Take the pan off the heat and leave it to cool for 5 minutes.

– Add the eggs – as the mixture is still hot they might start cooking straight away so we whisked them beforehand and then whisked the mixture quite quickly as we added them.

– Fold in the flour until just combined (don’t mix it too much) then stir in the chocolate. We added it at the same time as the flour by mistake, so it all melted into the mixture!

– Bake for around 30 minutes until the edges look just cooked.

– Leave to cool in the tin before cutting into squares – the original recipe says to leave it overnight but we just couldn’t wait that long so cut the first pieces when it was still a bit warm…!

Chocolate-dipped strawberries!

I made these as a treat last week, as two of my friends had almost finished their exams and another had just got her results, so they are simultaneously well-done and nearly-done strawberries! They seem really luxurious and summer-y, and my friends said they looked very professional (though probably they were just being nice…they were pretty though!).

They’re super-easy: for 400g strawberries, you need about 100g of good dark chocolate (or I suppose you could use milk…but it’s just not as luxurious to me) and a couple of squares of white chocolate, about 25g. Just melt the dark chocolate, dip take a spoonful and roll the strawberry in it, then put on greaseproof paper to dry. When dry (about 20 minutes) melt the white chocolate and use the wrong end of a spoon to flick it over the strawberries. As you can tell I had good fun doing this, and covered most of the greaseproof paper as well as the strawberries…Nom nom nom!

Lentil and sweet potato dahl

A couple of weeks ago I realised I had sweet potatoes and lentils to use up, and my friend had some slightly wilting spinach, so when we found a recipe based around those three ingredients of course we had to make it – it’s originally from the BBC Good Food website here. It turned out really well, so we made it again a couple of days ago; although, as usual, we had to adapt based on the ingredients we had!

Ingredients (serves 2):

100g red lentils, washed

1 onion, finely chopped

1 can (400ml) chopped tomatoes

350-400ml vegetable stock (the original recipe is 450ml and 2 fresh tomatoes)

Spices – we used about a tablespoon of Schwartz korma spices and a teaspoon of cumin seeds, which is quite a deviation from the recipe (a teaspoon of garam masala and half a teaspoon of turmeric)!

1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped into smallish cubes (sides 1-1.5cm)

A couple of handfuls of spinach

2 naan breads

 

– Fry the onion in a little oil until soft.

– Add all the other ingredients except the sweet potato, spinach and naans.

– Bring to the boil and simmer for around 5 minutes.

– Add the sweet potato and simmer for around 15 mins, until both the lentils and potato are cooked. Stir quite frequently otherwise the lentils will begin to stick! Preheat the oven to the temperature needed for the naans.

– Take the pan off the heat and add the spinach: just place it on top of the curry, replace the lid and leave it to wilt – this takes 2-3 minutes. Place the naans in the oven, as per the packet instructions (alternatively just toast them!).

– Serve the curry with the naans on the side.