Firstly, apologies for our slacking of posting new exciting recipes. It has been quite hectic around here lately. With spring finally having arrived, spending time outside seems to have won priority over slaving away in the kitchen. But here is a recipe which is definitely a keeper. After having played around with multiple banana loaf recipes resulting in quite a few failures (somehow loaf cakes and myself are not friends, they either don’t rise, don’t have enough banana flavour, or I undercook them with the fear of having dry cake, subsequently breaking them upon removal from the tin), I finally managed to create a loaf which not only rose adequately but was also moist, perfectly bananaey and scrumptious :-). This one was also baked for the previously mentioned birthday festivities. It can be made up to a day in advance and turns out best if one uses overripe bananas for the ultimate banana flavour.
Following the previous post, I present you with cake number 2 of 5 baked for the birthday festivities. A true must for both chocolate and amaretti lovers. Amaretti are possibly my favourite biscuits, they should be yours too. And don’t get me started on Amaretto, the tastiest liquor ever created. Those sours are dangerous. Remind me again why I decided to give up alcohol for Lent? At least there are only 22 days left and Fortnum’s Easter sponge pudding (honey, amaretto & almond sponge pudding with a soft chocolate centre….nom) waiting at the end of it. Not to forget the amaretto butter topping, Easter dessert wouldn’t be half as good without it.
Enough about Amaretto. This cake, like the Linzer, is best after having rested in a cool place (e.g. cellar) for a day or two. Perfect if you have a lot of baking or cooking planned!
The best hazelnut chocolate spread strikes again. Yes, I am talking about Nutella. At last years Salon du Chocolat (an absolute must for chocolate lovers! Three whole days dedicated to the most innovative chocolate creations…. no wonder we felt slightly nauseous by the end of it), one chocolatier created a chocolate-hazelnut paste, which actually came out of a tube like face cream. It was deceptively advertised as tasting better than Nutella. Those are daringly big words carrying huge expectations! Honestly, why did they think they could create something superior to Nutella……? The paste was tasty, but definitely miles from the all time favorite.
Needless to say, it shouldn’t be a surprise to you that Nutella is the one item never missing from my kitchen. With an upcoming dinner invitation and a newly bought jar of chocolate goodness, I decided to attempt making a bring along gift instead of buying one. The result: tiny yet devilishly satisfying post-dinner delights:
Do you remember the episode of Friends in Season 7 where Monica bakes a ridiculous amount of chocolate chip cookies in an attempt to decipher Phoebe’s grandma’s lost recipe? Batch 17 was almost perfect, but the last cookie disappears before Monica could use it to work from……. after all those cookies and all that effort I would have gone mental! (Ok, actually before she decides to use cookie 17 for further creations, she finds out “grandma’s” recipe for the cookies they are all raving about was the exact one on each packet of Nestle Toll House Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels. She flipped out Monica style. But that’s irrelevant.)
Over the past months I have been through a similar, not quite as crazy, process with oat and raisin cookies: my “healthy”, satisfying comfort cookies. My already elevated cholesterol levels would certainly not have been happy had my cookie-craze been related to peanut butter and chocolate chips. Granted, oat and raisin cookies aren’t the healthiest out there, but doesn’t the name alone imply that there is some healthy aspect to them…? Health and all aside, occasional cravings have to be satisfied. Finally I managed to create near perfection, batch 17.5:
Admittedly a tad delayed, but still timely, here is a list of a few favorite things which help make Christmas the best season of the year.
1. A great excuse to hold a party or two. With lots and lots of booze.
2. Christmas lights all over cities
3. An excuse to put a giant tree in your living room and decorate it (the smell is just amazing!! Fake trees are not the way to go).
4. Mulled wine. Nom.
5. Turkey and stuffing and trimmings and pudding and brandy butter.
6. MORE FOOD (and almost all of it seems to contain alcohol in some way or another).
8. Gingerbread houses.
9. The spirit in the air: everyone is happy….. ok most people are happy.
10. Yet another reason to get presents (and of course buy some…not the season to be selfish)!
11. Christmas markets
12. Carol singing (definitely the only time of year I actually make it to church)
14. Lots and lots of family time…. probably not appreciated by everyone out there, in some cases 2 days a year are plenty.
17. Tasteless Christmas jumpers….. Primark seems to have been successful in this department
Why can’t it be Christmas all year round? We would possibly all be spoilt and overweight alcoholics by now if that were the case, but introducing a half Christmas in June doesn’t seem like such a bad idea:-).
In my last post I mentioned baking 72 cupcakes in an extremely hungover state, which is admittedly the second best cure to recover from intoxication. These cupcakes are truly a MUST for Nutella lovers. A Nutella filled center and Nutella based icing…. what more can a Nutella monster ask for?
A small bonus for all Nutella fans amongst you: check this out. It is even shaped like the jar!
After having lived in London for a couple of months, I decided to finally invite a few friends over for a cupcake and prosecco themed housewarming afternoon on a Saturday. My day turned out to be everything but how I’d planned it. Friday nights are unpredictable. Let me give you a quick summary of what not to do the night before you hold a party:
It started with dinner at the cosmopolitan time of 10.45 pm in Mayfair, including pre-dinner drinks and plenty of alcohol to accompany our meal. After having built up a base with chinese food, the night continued with bottles of prosecco in a place called Novikov for birthday nr.1. By this time it was already about 2am and we hadn’t even properly gotten started (truth is , my initial aim was to head home latest at 1.30, wake up at 9am and start baking my 72 cupcakes. Clearly I had missed the moment). One birthday doesn’t seem enough to celebrate on a night, so we crashed another one in some members club on Jermyn Street. As swanky and nice as this party was, the vibe wasn’t working for our group and no one seemed to be ready to head home. What is left at 3.30am on a Friday night? Raffles in Chelsea with lots and lots and lots of vodka. No more details needed.
By 5 or 5.30am, 4 hours after planned, I managed to stumble up my staircase (5 floors, no biggie when in heels and completely drunk), change into my pj’s and pass out on my bed. Sadly, I forgot to charge my dead iPhone before passing out. My alarm, which had been set for 9am, didn’t go off. When I opened my eyes for the first time the next day they were greeted with sunshine and the clearest blue sky. It was already 11:30am. Damnit. My drunken swiss discipline kicked in and within just over 3 hours I had baked and iced 72 cupcakes (3 different flavors). I have never drunken so much water in such a short period of time without having to pee once. Luckily my housewarming offered the perfect evidence-based cure for my hangover: alcohol 🙂
As for these cupcakes: I wanted to try something new and stumbled across Ferrero Rochers opposite the baking section in my supermarket. In my mind the combination with peanut butter seemed amazing, worth a try. I wasn’t sure if they’d survive the heat of the oven in one piece, but they did!