I picked up some dates on clearance at the supermarket. I wasn’t sure what I would do with them at the time, but at 25p a pack I snapped them up.
While looking on Pinterest for recipe ideas, this recipe caught my eye. I am a complete sucker for anything that purports to be salted caramel. While I was dubious about whether dates could ever aspire to the deliciousness of cream and sugar, I had some tahini in the fridge and decided to give it a go.
Tahini is one of those things that I find it hard to use up. I tend to buy a jar to make hummus, only to have the rest of it sitting in the fridge for the next five years, looking all separated and neglected. However, since I am attempting to reduce my plastic waste, maybe more homemade hummus is in my future, especially since I finally found a satisfactory recipe.
Anyway, here is the recipe for the bite things.
- 175g dates, pitted
- 80g tahini*
- 100g dark chocolate, at least 70%
- Sea salt
- Cocoa powder (optional)
*You can substitute any nut or seed butter of your choice for the tahini. For my second attempt at these bars, I only had 30g tahini left so I swapped out the rest for peanut butter.
Combine the tahini and stoned dates in a blender. If you are using a domestic machine, make sure to pulse for short periods of time so you don’t overload your motor! The mixture will come together into a ball. If it’s not coming together, add a little extra tahini.
Press into a container. I found this baking tray too big but I’d already oiled it so went ahead with it anyway.
Refrigerate overnight or freeze for 30minute, then chop the date mixture up into chunks of your desired size. I recommend not making them too big so that you get plenty of chocolate in every bite.
Melt the chocolate and coat each piece.
While the chocolate is still melted, sprinkle over sea salt.
I also coated some of my bites in cocoa powder because (I think because of my kitchen being hot) the chocolate had some bubbles on the surface that looked unappetising.
Store in the fridge in an airtight container.
I was sceptical about this recipe but these bites are delicious. The texture is much nicer than most dried-fruit nut bars, with a nice bite and chew. The dark chocolate adds an amazing bitter counterpoint to the sweetness of the dates and the brightness of the salt is the icing on the cake (so to speak).
I would love to learn to temper chocolate. Imagine how beautiful these bites would look if the chocolate was shiny!
There’s nothing that makes you feel warm towards your colleagues like going on holiday for an extended period! Since I’m about to go away, I decided to bake for the last team meeting of the year, and I’ve had these chocolate and cream cheese cupcakes pinned for a while. I believe the non-PC term for these is black bottom cakes, but I decided against mentioning that in the office.
The recipe is available here. I did enjoy these cupcakes, but I found the eggless chocolate sponge a little dry and uninspiring. I DID like how easy it was to have two contrasting flavours and textures- much easier than faffing around with frosting. The little pops from the chocolate chips were lovely too. If I made these again, I would probably swap out another recipe (maybe the ultimate chocolate cupcake?) for the bottom part. However, if you’re after a quick recipe using mostly things that will always be in the store cupboard, this is a good’un.
I had enough batter for 24 mini cupcakes and four or five full-sized ones.
I found the recipe for this cake ages ago on Pinterest, and decided to have it as my birthday cake this year. Honestly, this was the most stressful baking experience I’ve had in ages. So many things went wrong and the cake ended up looking a mess. Here is a picture I managed to snap before I mostly destroyed the cake trying to transfer it off the baking parchment. However, this experience was also a reminder of how rubbish it is to be a perfectionist. Everyone in the office loved the cake.
I rediscovered the awesome combination of caramel, chocolate and pecans, kicked up a notch by salting the caramel. Next time I bake, I will most likely make salty turtle cupcakes or brownies.
Once again this post will be various process pictures. Hopefully I’ll have a better baking experience soon.
- 2cups (280g) plain flour
- 1.5cups ( 340g) sugar
- 1/2cup (60g) cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup (140g) melted butter
- 1 cup (250g) buttermilk
- 1 egg
- 1tbsp baking soda
- 1tsp salt
- 1 cup fresh coffee
- 1 cup (220g) sugar
- 1 cup (250ml) whole milk
- 6 tbsp (90g) butter
- 12oz (350g) dark chocolate
- 1-2 tsp hot coffee (optional)
- 1 1/2 pecan halves
- 1 cup sugar
- 6 tablespoons butter, salted
- 1/2 cup double (heavy) cream
- Extra salt to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Butter bottom and sides of three 8- or 9-inch cake pans and line bottom of each pan with parchment paper. Butter the paper; dust pans with unsweetened cocoa powder and set pans aside.
In a small bowl, stir together egg, buttermilk and oil
In a large bowl, stir together flour, sugar, 1/2 cup cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.
Slowly add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture, beating until combined.
Gradually beat in coffee
Divide batter evenly between prepared pans; layers will appear shallow.
Bake until a toothpick inserted near the centre comes out clean, about 22 to 25 minutes. Remove towire racks for 10 minutes. Loosen sides from pans, then invert cakes on racks. Remove cakes from pans. Peel off paper and cool completely.
I’ve made caramel twice recently and it has come out slightly greasy, but still tasty. I will look for a new recipe. I used the one from Sally’s Baking Addiction.
In a medium saucepan, combine sugar and milk. Add butter. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add chocolate pieces. Using a wire whisk, stir until smooth. If frosting is too thick or grainy, stir in 1 to 2 teaspoons freshly brewed coffee. If necessary, let frosting stand for several minutes before using.
I forgot to toast the pecans, which definitely makes a difference.
This post is reminding me that perfectionism spoils my enjoyment of my cooking as well as my making. This cake tastes fine. Just because it doesn’t look like something that costs £4 a slice shouldn’t diminish that.
I finally got the chance to do my first from-scratch bake of the year, and decided to make these brownies with a cherry cheesecake topping. I spent some time on Pinterest last year looking for recipes to use up the 400g glace cherries I inherited from my old housemate. This was the recipe I settled on.
I think these brownies were really tasty, though I think the balance is a little off. I would have preferred slightly less brownie and slightly more of the baked cream cheese topping. It’s so good. Maybe if I made these again I would try and do three quarters of the stated amounts for the brownies. It would probably be safe to freeze some of the batter for future midwinter sugar cravings. I liked how simple the brownie recipe was, though I do think other brownies I have made in the past were nicer.
I made no changes to the recipe as stated except improvising my own ‘cherry pie filling’
- 200g glace cherries* **
- Two tinned apricots, or dried apricots that you have soaked until soft
- Lemon juice (to taste)
- Red food colouring (optional)
*I think this would be nicer using tinned or frozen cherries, but I had glace cherries on hand so that’s what I used
**Eagle-eyed readers will notice that I had 400g cherries but specify only 200g here. I did use all 400g cherries but it made too much cherry sauce
Combine all ingredients in a food processor until you have a thick sauce consistency. Add the lemon juice to taste. If you do use tinned or frozen cherries, taste and add sugar if needed. The sauce should be sweet, but balanced. Add a teaspoon of water at a time if your ingredients are not mixing well.
Check out this brownie cheesecake GIF.
These spheroids of chocolatey goodness contain a cheeky salted caramel surprise… sorry, just had to pause to wipe the saliva from my keyboard.
I followed this recipe from Bakerella to the letter to make these delicious treats. Don’t judge me too harshly if you follow the link, hers look much nicer than mine.
Here’s a pic of the baked brownie circles. I matched them by size before filling them with frosting and caramel.
Here’s the homemade caramel I had left over after filling the cookies. You could easily halve Bakerella’s recipe and have plenty of caramel for this recipe.
Ready to pipe my frosting.
You simply pipe a barrier of frosting around each cookie, then fill generously with caramel. I think I was slightly too generous as I had a little caramel leakage. Mmm… caramel leakage.
I’ve had an awful lot of baking to do recently and so I’ve been focusing on recipes that are very quick and simple, such as this rich, light cake smothered with chocolate ganache. The cake is really quick to put together. It was out of the oven and cooling within an hour of my arriving at home after work. Please excuse how it looks, I foolishly rushed my ganache and it split, though it still tastes great.
Makes one 8″ square cake
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 6oz/ 2/3cup Greek yoghurt or sour cream- full fat
- 1/4cup light olive, coconut or nut oil
- 1 1/2tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2cup filter coffee, cooled, or water
- 1/2cup cocoa powder
- 1 cup plain flour
- 1/2tsp salt
- 1/2tsp baking powder
For the ganache
- 9oz/250g plain chocolate
- 3/4cup/170ml double cream
- 1tsp vanilla extract or other flavouring of your choice
- Preheat oven to 350° F/180C
- Put your coffee on to brew if it’s not already made
- Grease and/or line an 8×8 or 9×9 inch square baking pan
- In a large bowl combine egg, sugar, yogurt, oil, vanilla, and mix until smooth and combined.
- Add coffee, cocoa powder and stir vigorously until batter is smooth and free from lumps.
- Add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and mix vigorously until batter has just combined, about 1 minute. The coffee can be any temperature other than very hot so you don’t scramble the egg. I put a couple of ice cubes into the measuring cup and the poured the hot coffee over.
- Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 20-25mins, until the top is set and the cake passes the toothpick test.
- Leave to cool in the tin on a wire rack. The cake must be completely cool before topping with ganache.
- For the ganache, finely chop the chocolate and put into a heatproof bowl
- Put the cream into a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Pour over the chopped chocolate. Leave for 30s, then stir until smooth.
- Pour the ganache over the cold cake and leave to set before cutting.