Sticky Toffee Pudding Cupcakes

A few years ago I had an idea to make cupcakes and to make them awesome, so I came up with the following idea:  Sticky Toffee Pudding Cupcakes. A traditionally British desert with a twist and well cupcakes are trendy and everyone loves them, right? I went to several sites and couldn’t find anything to fit what I wanted exactly, so I took a jumble of things and made my own. I’ve really impressed myself with this recipe. I hope that you enjoy them as much as I have!

Let me also warn you in advance that this recipe does take time and is a bit fiddly but completely worth it! This recipe makes 12 cupcakes but you will wish you had made more!

Sticky Toffee Pudding Cupcakes 

Makes: 12 medium-large cupcakes   Prep time: 45 mins Make time: 5 mins  Bake time: 22-25 mins Total time: 75 mins

Required Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (150g) Dates pitted, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup (115ml) Water boiling
  • 1 Tbsp Treacle/runny Molasses
  • 2/3 cup (150g) Unsalted Butter
  • 3/4 cup (150g) Light Brown Sugar – packed
  •  1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 2 Medium Eggs
  • 1 1/4cup (150g) Plain Flour
  • 2 teapsoons Baking Soda
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon (optional but life is better with cinnamon)

Frosting:

  • 2/3cups (150g) Unsalted Butter softened
  • 2.5 cups (250g) Icing Sugar
  • 1tsp vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon milk

Now to make these magical cupcakes that will leave you wanting more:

1. Put your chopped dates in a food processor and whizzed them down a bit more, to get the finely chopped element.  You dont have to do this but I just didn’t like the idea of big chunks of dates in my cupcakes.  I was going for the idea of amazing flavour without people chewing on the dates going, ‘whats that?’. I have also taken out this step and whilst the dates weren’t ‘crunchy’ they were more visible in the cupcake.

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2. In a sauce pan add the finely chopped dates and 1/2C boiling water , allow to boil for 5 minutes. Stir as needed. You will notice the mixture becoming more pulp like and the water evaporating, which is a good sign!  Remove from the heat.

3.  Remove from the heat, add 1 Tsp of Baking Soda to the mixture, as you can see it will grow in size quite like honeycomb and thats fine, you want that, continue to stir.  Effectively the chemicals are reacting with each other and its breaking down the dates further.  Stir in 1 TbspTreacle/runny Molasses.   Now set this to the side to cool to room temperature or there abouts, leave for approximately 20 minutes.  Its important to remember that you dont want to add anything hot to what will be your cake mixture, as it will melt your butter and scramble your eggs.

4. After 20 minutes preheat the oven to 190°C/350F.  Get out your cupcake pan and line with your chosen liners or you can grease and flour the moulds.

5. In a mixing bowl, beat the butter(2/3 cup) until fluffy, mix in the brown sugar(3/4 cup packed) until creamy in texture. Stir in Vanilla Extract(1tsp).

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6. Stir in the cold date mixture to the butter mixture.  I wont lie, the date mixture is not sexy in look at all and is almost off putting, ignore that for the moment!

With each step, please remember to scrap down the bowl!!!

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7. Whisk in the eggs(2).  Normally recipes say to whisk in one at a time but Im lazy, throw them all in at the same time, ultimately it makes no difference and as long as you ensure they are thoroughly incorporated, no problems (famous last words, Im sure!). (I did increase this recipe, hence 3 eggs in the picture)

8. Measure out all your dry ingredients, 1 1/4 c plain flour, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp baking soda.  The cinnamon is optional in reality but Im a cinnamon whore and basically put it in everything! To me its a small thing that adds a nice compliment.  You can sift this all in but again, I took the lazy persons approach and just chucked it in.  HOWEVER, at this stage you do NOT want to over mix.  I stirred in the flour mixture with my spatula until just combined.

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9.  You’ve now completed your cake mixture, well done! Youre more than half way there to eating these amazing cupcakes! I use a large ice cream scoop to put the mixture in my cupcake cases, I find that you get more even amounts in every case. If you dont have a ice cream scoop, fill 1/2 – 3/4 full.  However, this is a thick mixture, so take a spoon and smooth the tops over.

10. Bake in the oven for 22-25 minutes until risen and just firm to the touch.

Whilst your cupcakes are baking, make your frosting or you can wait whist they are out and cooling, ultimately you only want to frost the cupcakes once they are cool.

11. Place the butter(2/3c) in a bowl and beat!!!  The secret to an AWESOME buttercream is how long you beat it for.  I would say beat it for a minimum of 7-10 mins.  Stop every minute or so and scrape the bowl down.  I like to think that you’re beat the butter into submission. I have to say that this one of the areas where having a stand mixer literally makes all the difference.  You can do this with a hand mixer but you will need a lot of patience.

12.  Add in the vanilla (1tsp), allow to mix for another minute.

13. Just from adding the flavouring, you will notice a different consistency.  Slowly start to add in the icing sugar (2.5c).  Technically you should sift this in, again, Im lazy and chuck it in.  (if you’re using a hand mixer, you will need to sift it)  Add 1/4 of the icing sugar and taste. Is it enough, is it not enough? Add more to your taste.  Because the cupcake itself isn’t very sweet, having an overly sweet frosting is nice and works.  If you do find that your frosting is too thick, simply add in a teaspoon of milk at a time until it gets to your desired consistency.

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Finished product!  Its amazing!!! Within your tasters you will notice how truly light and fluffy it is.  You’ll fall in love more with the frosting than the cake (just about).

Transfer your cupcakes to a wire rack to cool. Wrap and store for 24 hours to allow the flavour and texture to develop.  This is a very nice idea, in reality I could only wait long enough for them to cool and then frost and promptly scoff.  Waiting a day does give a better flavour, I wont lie but you’re a much better person than I am if you can wait that long! 20171224_1517071.jpg

14. Once your cupcakes are completely cool, frost them anyway you like. Because I love cinnamon, I also sprinkled cinnamon over the top for sheer amazingness.

 

Notes: to make the icing extra special and kick it up a notice, make it a salted caramel frosting by leaving out the vanilla and adding 2 Tsp Caramel Flavouring and 1/2 Tsp Rock Salt sprinkled on top of the cupcakes. –

 

Remember to share with friends and enjoy! 🙂 

No Bake Granola Bars

I love a good granola bar but I really dont love having to pay around the €2 mark for one that looks unappealing and tastes like cardboard. I use to bulk buy them from Costco (being honest, I shipped over with me around 60 Protein Natures Valley bars but Im kind of over them) but I dont have the option to buy more once they are gone and theres a sense of accomplishment in being able to make your own. This is my go to recipe, that Ive made successfully (yah!) and not so successfully (damn you oven, burning my oats rather than roasting them – ok maybe I got carried away multi tasking and forgot them).

This recipes makes super thick bars, which are VERY yummy.  It also requires a lot of prep work but is well worth it and the best thing about this recipe? You can change it to suit your taste, as per the notes at the bottom. Take out ingredients that you dont like (or don’t have in the cupboard) and add in things that you do love (or have in your cupboard). You can take out of the chocolate (remember that life is SO much better with chocolate) or you can drizzle melted white and milk chocolate over the top (refer to previous statement). If you dont fancy feeding your neighbour, cut the recipe in half or if you want to feed your colleagues, local school and fellow passengers on your flight, double the recipe!

These are technically roasted no bake granola bars, all of which will become clear below.

No Bake Granola Bars 

Makes: 20+ bars (makes 9X13 pan)   Prep time: 15 mins Make time: 10 mins   Total time: 25 mins

Required Ingredients:

  • 4 cups (360g) old fashioned oats
  • 2 C (50g) rice crispy cereal
  • 1/2 C (50g) shredded coconut
  • 1/2 C (125g) butter
  • 1/2 C (170g) honey
  • 1 C (200g) brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 C (120g) dried cranberries
  • 1 C (150g) raisins
  • 1 C (190g) dried mango
  • 1 C (190g) dried apricots
  • 2 C (350g) semi sweet chocolate
  • Wax / Baking paper

Now to be converted to these home made granola bars!

1. Take your oats and roast them in the oven for roughly 15 mins at 180C/350F, turning them every 5 mins.  Simply pour them into a pan/cookie sheet (dont grease the pan) and let them do their roasting thing. (Instant oats is seriously not a thing in Europe and as is a specific no bake recipe, you really dont want crunchy oats – tried, tested and was NOT a win). After 5 mins, you will notice the edges starting to brown and the smell of oats.  Start to turn the oats, pulling them in from the edges and putting them to the middle. Remember to keep an eye on them and not to let them burn.

2. Whilst your oats are toasting, dice up your fruit and set to the side.

3. Once oats have cooled,  in a large mixing bowl, mix together the oats, cereal and coconut.

4. In a saucepan melt the honey, butter,  brown sugar, and salt together.  Stir together then leave it alone as it comes to a boil. Once the boil has reached all the way around the edges of the pan, begin timing.  Allow this mixture to boil for a minimum of 2 minutes and 15 seconds.  During this time, you will most likely need to turn the heat down, so it doesn’t overflow, but be sure it keeps boiling.  In short, let the mixture boil no less than 2 mins 15 seconds but its ok if you boil it longer, I normally do, try to avoid it boiling for longer than 5 mins.

5. Whilst your honey butter mixture is boiling, melt your chocolate, I blast it in the microwave 30 secs a go, stirring in between blasts until you can stir is smooth. Take your pan, put a layer of wax paper in it (or baking paper as its called in the UK), then put the melted chocolate in the bottom of the pan.  You dont have to use chocolate in this recipe at all, however, I find it a good ‘glue’ to help hold the bars together.  Smooth over the chocolate to an even layer in the pan.

6. Remove your honey butter mixture from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Pour the mixture over the oats, using a rubber spatula to get all the sugar mixture out of the pan.  Mix the ingredients together until the oats are completely coated.  Add in the chopped fruit and mix well, to ensure honey butter mixture coats all.

7. Pour the mixture and press very firmly into your pan.

8. Now for my stoke of genius (doesn’t happen often but this was a good one!).  Cover the top of the bars with another layer of wax paper and use a can/tin of something (I used beans) and press down the mixture. I went over the pan about 5 or 6 times, ensuring to go over the entire size of the pan.  This gives the pressure required to ensure that the bars dont fall apart when you go to eat them. You’ll need to press down the edges of the pan with your fingers, as the roundness of the can/tin means that it doesn’t go right up to the corners. You will visibly be able to see the the mixtures has been presses down more than just with your hands.

9. Place them in the fridge for 2 hours then cut to size.  I tend to leave mine in the fridge for a couple of hours, because I have other things going on and like the idea of leaving things and dealing with them later.  If you dont use chocolate on the bottom, leave them in the fridge 30 mins instead, as the chocolate will not need to set up.

 

*Notes: you can mix and match this recipe and the ‘add ons’ as much as you like, you will always need the honey butter mixture (not to be altered) but you here are a few things you can add in or change out to make this recipe EVEN better: 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ginger or nutmeg, peanut butter chips, chocolate chips, 1 cup of American peanut butter to the honey butter mixture, 1 cup diced maraschino cherry, or candied peel.

* For a extra touch toast off your coconut for added flavour!

*Should your granola bars fall apart (this has happened to me), dont throw it away but use it as cereal instead, a yummy breakfast treat.

Remember to share with friends and enjoy! 🙂 

4 Ingredient protein pancakes from scratch

Last year I had a personal trainer and was on a high protein low carb diet, my my how times have changed! I still enjoy some of the recipes I used at the time but no longer log all my meals (snacks or anything else that goes in my mouth) with MyFitnessPal. Some days I miss my PT and others I realise that life really is easier when you’re not counting every single calorie, carb, protein and fat that goes in (I still do enjoy the occasional protein shake)! I never got the post fitness high either, when your endorphins are pumping and you love life, the gym and being healthy… er no, I always just wanted to nap, like seriously take a nap. Seriously all the hard work and never any of the good feeling, I think Im broken 🙂

Being an American means I love fluffy pancakes, HOORAY for fluffy pancakes, being on a diet (or nutritional eating plan, as I was asked to call it) means no unhealthy fluffy pancakes, BOOOOooo. So I found a recipe that I could actually fit into my high protein diet, HOORAY and still use it now, double HOORAY. Its not entirely carb free but its still a massive step in the right direction.

Sundays are for being lazy and I mean staying in your pyjamas until at least 2pm and eating comforting food. These pancakes are absolute go to for Sunday breakfast. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

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4 Ingredient Protein Pancakes 

Makes: 4-5 large pancakes – serves 2   Prep time: 5 mins Cook time: 4 mins approx each   Total time: 25 mins

Required Ingredients:

  • 300g Skyr Greek Protein Yogurt or Total Fage Greek yogurt – (plain or fruit is fine, I used blueberry for this tutorial)
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 cup (128g) plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda

Now how to make this healthy breakfast:

1. Crack the eggs open and whisk them until beaten. Add your yogurt to the beaten eggs and stir until combined. (I used blueberry yogurt that had blueberry bits in it, hence the blue purple colour)

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2. Add the flour and baking soda to the egg and yogurt mixture. Stir until just combined, you do not want to over stir it. The batter will be extremely thick (think America biscuit dough).

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3. Spoon the batter onto a sprayed pan ( I use Fry-Light) heated to medium-high. I use a ladle to put the mixture in and then scrape it out with a spatula. I then flatten the mixture in the pan with the spatula (second picture), otherwise they are so thick that they will not cook all the way through.

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4. Flip the pancake when it starts to bubble a bit on the surface in the middle, this should take approximately 3 minutes. You should see that the outter edges are cooked too.

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5. Cook until golden brown on both sides and serve with butter (real or fake or without for low carb) and syrup.

Old habits die hard and I still use my zero cal syrups from Bulk Powders (their maple syrup really is great for zero carb and calorie), however, I did recently come across some American style syrups in Lidls and naturally bought 2 of each! One set of pancakes was served with blueberry syrup and the other was with my zero cal butterscotch syrup.

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 Look at the fluffyness! FLUFFYNESS!
The best part about these pancakes? They are actually semi healthy! I used MyFitnesspal to work out the FACTS (again, old habits) and each serving is as below, I think fluffy pancakes at under 400 calories for breakfast is AWESOME with 27 grams of protein!
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 Notes:
*You want a high protein Greek yogurt for this recipe, such as Skyr or Total Fage, I buy Skyr in Lidls, I buy the 150g pot at  €0.49 cent each but you can also get a large 350g pot for €0.89 cent.
*For even healthier pancakes use an egg white instead of the whole egg, which reduces the calories and fat.
*You can use just unflavoured Greek yogurt in this recipe, which will also take the carbs down slightly more, if you are carb conscious. To add sweetness add a teaspoon of cinnamon to them and half a teaspoon of nutmeg.

*I have a super sweet tooth, so I add cinnamon and sweetner to my pancakes (think Can­de­rel or Splenda), this does add a few more carbs but less than actual sugar.

Remember to share with friends and enjoy! 🙂 

 

 

 

DIY Galaxy Melt and Pour Soap

Ive been on the search for a good galaxy tutorial using melt and pour soap and haven’t really come across anything, so thought Id make my own. I also learnt a few lessons along the way, ie not to make more than 4 at a time, or even 3.

Soap making requirements:

  • 1/2 Kilo of Melt And Pour Soap Base Clear SLS FREE
  • 20 drops essential oil of your choice – I actually used coconut fragrance oil
  • 2 tablespoons Castor oil – gives a better bubble and lather
  • 5 dark mica colours, I used purple, blue, green, raspberry and black
  • Cosmetic grade glitter (optional)
  • Plastic jug (to melt your soap in)
  • Plastic cups (to mix your colours in)
  • Wood spoon (to mix your soap)
  • Plastic cups (to mix your micas in)
  • Moulds (any shape will work)
  • Rubbing alcohol

 

Galaxy

Now to make this out of this world soap:

To melt the soap, chop it up soap into smallish bits, the small the better, as it melts quicker.  Put it a microwaveable safe bowl and cover with clingfilm (this is VERY important). Melt it in 30 second intervals and stir between bursts. You dont want it to melt all the way down to boiling point. Ideally you want to have a few ‘chunks’ left and then stir until it is all fully dissolved. Once the soap is melted, castor oil and essential oil (or fragrance oil).

Whilst your soap is melting, put the different micas in their own individual cup and add a few drops of rubbing alcohol to make it a pasty liquid, you honestly do not need to add much rubbing alcohol at all. I also added in some cosmetic grade glitter to 3 of the colors. Once your soap is melted, divide it between your cups and colors. Left side picture is the mica with rubbing alcohol. Right side picture is the soap base added in with the mica.

Now is the fun part where you also have to work very quickly. This is also where I learnt that its easier to make 3 soaps rather than 6 or 8, as I ran out of melted soap and it was a bit of a disaster. Focus on making 1 to 3 really great soaps and then fo from there. The idea is that you pour in a little bit of every color as you go and because you’re doing it quickly, it doesn’t set and you get the galaxy effect. Just add in colors, pick what you like and add in different amounts, it doesn’t need to be perfect. I also realised that I had a lot of black left, so poured it on the bottom of 3 of the soaps, this didn’t give the effect that I wanted but rather just a black bottom. You dont have to use black, you can use just bright colours but I think the darkness gives it more of a realistic look.

This was my second batch, when I mixed all the colours properly and had a galaxy effect with all the colors that run all the way through, rather than just a black bottom. You can also see the specs of the glitter and the difference it makes having it. The flash didn’t catch very well and the soaps weren’t that dark. 20171120_120230

These were the finished products, Im wondering if adding in small amounts of white melt and pour will give the white specs you’d see in the galaxy? Something to consider for next time.

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The top left picture I had a black, blue and clear back and just used those colors and it still came out quite nice, different from the other bright colors but still good.

What I also realised? My plastic cups are so cheap that they melt in the microwave. I had a little bit of soap that went hard, so I wanted to melt it down and when I went to check on it 20 seconds later, it was pretty well melted completely flat. Be warned should your soap go hard and you’re using plastic cups.

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Just a side note, I do honestly prefer essential oils and they seem to be more body friendly with less possible reactions to them. I just happen to have two fragrance oils, coconut being one of them. If you do know someone who has sensitive skin, I would also avoid FO and use essential oils only.

I package my soap in cellophane and attach a small label that explains what the soap is, it adds that something special.  These are great for yourself or as gifts for friends.

Remember to share with friends! 🙂