Chocolate Caramel Poke Cake


This is no mean feat, especially for a chocolate and caramel lover. But that's exactly what I love about sheet cakes, the greater surface area allows for mass chocolate chip/drizzle combo topping. Its not the prettiest, nor the best executed. More like an excuse to make yourself a cake and load it up with all your favourite toppings.

There's no limit to poke cakes either. You could load it up with chocolate ganache, something boozy or anything else you fancy in place of the caramel. A poke cake literally means poke holes in it and pour over a sauce, it knocks the socks off a drizzle cake...unless it's the super boozy gin and tonic cake I made last week!


C H O C O L A T E   C A R A M E L   P O K E   C A K E
Serves 12

Chocolate cake

140g unsalted butter
350g plain flour
25g cocoa powder
2tbsp malted milk powder (like Horlicks)
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
2tsp baking powder
1/4tsp salt
300g soft light brown sugar
300ml milk
150ml vegetable oil
1tsp vanilla extract

Caramel

395g tin condensed milk
2tbsp golden syrup
60g unsalted butter

Chocolate caramel frosting

250g unsalted butter, softened
500g icing sugar
100g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids), melted and cooled
1-2tsp caramel extract

Chocolate chips and 50g white chocolate for finishing

  • Heat the oven to 180 degrees and grease and line a 23x33cm baking tray.
  • Melt the butter in a small pan over a low heat and leave to cool slightly.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, malted milk powder, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and salt to remove any lumps and add in the sugar.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, oil, vanilla and cooled butter before whisking into the dry ingredients. 
  • Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 25-30 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Leave to cool in the baking tray for 10 minutes before using the end of a wooden spoon to poke holes over the surface of the cake.
  • Whilst the cake is baking in the oven, make the caramel. Add all the ingredients into a medium sized pan on a medium heat and gently whisk until the mixture starts to steam, about 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and continue to whisk for a further minute.
  • Pour the caramel over the cake ensuring to cover every edge and poke hole. Cover and leave to chill for one hour in the fridge.
  • To make the chocolate frosting, whisk the butter and sifted icing sugar together, gently at first, until light and fluffy. Slowly add in the cooled melted dark chocolate whilst continuing to beat.
  • Spread the frosting evenly over the surface of the cooled cake. 

Top with whatever treats you want for finishing touches, I threw over a generous helping of chocolate chips and sprinkles and a drizzle of white chocolate.

The cake is quite oozy, so feel free to pop in the fridge to chill a little again in order to make neat slices for serving. Alternatively, eat straight from the tin with a fork and in great quantities. 






Super Boozy Gin and Tonic Cake


A drunken cake seeped in gin and plenty of sunny lemon makes for a great combination of my two loves: cake and gin. This cake can hold her booze, that's for sure, perhaps a little more than you can.


 S U P E R   B O O Z Y   G I N   A N D   T O N I C   C A K E
(Recipe adapted from Pudding Lane, makes one large 2lb loaf)


265g unsalted butter, softened
265g caster sugar
4 eggs
265g self raising flour
2 lemons
8 shots of gin
Dash of tonic water
150g caster sugar

  • Heat the oven to 180 degrees and line a 2lb loaf tin with baking paper. 
  • Cream together the butter and sugar until light and creamy. 
  • Beat in the eggs, gently one at a time, add in a few spoons of flour after each addition. 
  • Add the flour, lemon zest of both lemons and juice of 1 and half the gin and stir together. 
  • Pour into the prepared loaf tin and bake for 45 minutes until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. 
  • In the last few minutes of baking, prepare the drizzle. Whisk together the remaining gin, tonic, caster sugar and juice of the remaining lemon until well combined. 
  • Once the cake is cooked, remove from the oven and poke lots of holes into the surface. Pour over the drizzle and leave to cool fully before serving. 


Salted Caramel Stuffed Brownies


Since last month I've been attempting to get used to 9-5 commuting and a new job. Gone are the old days of baking at midnight after a late shift and having the whole next morning to take photos, read and drink coffee. Even though my days are now shorter it feels like there's not enough time in the day.

My body clock is taking some time to adjust so at 6am on Sunday morning I was up baking brownies. I figured that was the only way to make being awake so early on a Sunday more bearable.

Brownies are my go to thing. I'd make them each week if I trusted myself not to eat the whole batch. But I've never made them in this way, stuffed with salted caramel. Not the oozy kind, but the kind you make with condensed milk that sets really well once baked. And, most importantly, the kind that reminds me how much I love baking and how I really do need to make more time for it regardless of what hours I'm working!


S A L T E D   C A R A M E L   S T U F F E D   B R O W N I E S
(Recipe adapted from Recipe Tin Eats, makes 16 brownies)


200g unsalted butter
200g Lindt Excellence salted caramel dark chocolate
180g soft light brown sugar
3 eggs
1tsp vanilla extract
60g plain flour
30g cocoa powder

Salted caramel:

395g sweetened condensed milk
2tbsp golden syrup
60g unsalted butter
1tsp flaked sea salt

  • Place the butter and dark chocolate over a pan of barley simmering water and gently melt. Takeoff the heat and leave to cool for 5 minutes.
  • In a large bowl, add the sugar, eggs and vanilla and whisk until combined.
  • Pour the chocolate mix into the sugar mix and stir together until smooth and silky.
  • Fold in the flour and cocoa powder until just combined and set the brownie batter aside.
  • Line an 8x8" tin with baking paper and preheat the oven to 170 degrees.
  • To make the caramel, add all ingredients to a medium pan on a low - medium heat and stir together.
  • Whisk continually until the caramel starts to turn a little more golden and to steam. Remove from the heat and continue to whisk for a further minute.
  • Pour half the brownie batter into the prepared tin and top with the caramel mix. Smooth the remaining brownie batter over the top.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the top has a smooth crisp skin. The brownies once done will have a little wobble in the centre but will firm up as they cool out the oven.


Thanks again to Lindt for my stash of chocolate! This is not a sponsored post. I just love Lindt, a lot. 


Salted Chocolate, Bourbon and Spelt Cookies


You know when you spend forever baking something for someone, trying to get it just right, and it just goes wrong? Brownies for example. I made some when I went to Flick's for tea a little while ago and she sent me back home with them! Sounds cruel, but she was right, you really can tell when something's just not right.

In this instance, I'd melted down some leftover Easter eggs and the chocolate wasn't anywhere near my usual 70-80% cocoa choice. They didn't really taste of anything, such a shame that they didn't taste that great.

For baking, I love using dark chocolate. The darker the better. I'm forever double checking the back of packets just to check just how much percentage of cocoa they have. That's why I love Lindt's Excellence range, it says its 70% and it really is 70%. Especially as they have my 3 favourite flavours, salted chocolate, orange with almond and salted caramel. These are excellent in any baking.

Particularly these cookies. A little bit grown up with the addition of bourbon, super dark chocolate and flaky sea salt. I almost didn't feel guilty having two of these for breakfast this morning!

S A L T E D   C H O C O L A T E   B O U R B O N   &   S P E L T   C O O K I E S
(Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, makes a dozen cookies)

290g plain flour
70g spelt flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
190g unsalted butter, room temperature
75g dark brown sugar
75g caster sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp bourbon
200g Lindt Excellence salted dark chocolate, chopped into chunks
flaky sea salt for topping

  • Add the flour, bicarbonate and salt to a medium bowl and whisk to remove any lumps.
  • Beat together the butter and sugar in another bowl until light and fluffy, around 3-4 minutes. Add in the egg, vanilla and bourbon and continue to mix on a low speed until incorporated.
  • Add the flour mix a little at a time until incorporated again.
  • Gently fold in the chocolate chunks before scooping the dough into a large ball. Wrap in cling film and chill for a few hours until firm.
  • Heat the oven to 180 degrees. Line two cookie trays with baking paper. Divide the dough into 12 equal sized balls, I use an ice cream scoop for this. 
  • Flatten each cookie onto the tray, leaving space in between each. Bake for 14 minutes, until golden and leave to firm and cool before serving.


Thank you to the lovely Elle and Mai at Lindt towers for sending me some samples for recipes!

Pretzel Cinnamon Rolls


I'm a sucker for cinnamon buns. But each time I make them they're never Pinterest perfect. I guess with a little practice I could master them, so on the weekend I was feeling a little adventurous and got some dough proving.

I always find that it takes much longer for my dough to double up on first prove than recipes suggest. My flat is warm so I don't know what I'm doing wrong? If you've got any bun tips then help a girl out!

I first spotted these on Pinterest and couldn't wait to try them out. A combination of my two loves, salty pretzels and sweet sticky cinnamon buns. 


Think of those pillowy soft cinnamon coated pretzels you get in shopping centres but swirled into a bun. Instead of quickly boiling the buns like you would with pretzels to give that chewy outside, these are brushed with a bicarbonate of soda solution to do the very same thing. Sprinkled with salt these will turn pretty dark once baked but I promise they'll be squidgey cinnamon pillows on the inside.


P R E T Z E L   C I N N A M O N   R O L L S
(Recipe adapted from The Kitchn, makes 12 rolls)


450g plain flour, plus more for kneading
7g dried packet yeast
4tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 large egg
100g dark brown sugar
3tbsp ground cinnamon
75g unsalted butter, softened
1tbsp bicarbonate of soda
salt for sprinkling 
  • Add the flour, yeast, sugar and salt to a large bowl. Make a well in the centre, add the egg and 175ml of warm water. Mix together with your hands to form a sticky lump and tip onto a floured surface. Knead for about 10 minutes until you have a smooth, slightly sticky ball.
  • Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave to rise for about 1 hour in a warm place.
  • Lightly grease a large ovenproof dish or tray.
  • Mix together the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.
  • Once the dough has doubled in size, tip out onto a floured surface and roll out to a 20 x 12 inch rectangle. 
  • Spread the butter over the dough, reaching all the edges. Sprinkle over the cinnamon sugar.
  • Tightly roll the dough into a log starting with the short edge. Cut evenlt into 12 pieces, each an inch thick. Arrange onto the oven dish, leaving space between each roll. Loosely cover with some greased cling film and leave to rise once again in a warm place for about 30 minutes,
  • Heat the oven to 180 degrees. 
  • Mix the bicarbonate of soda with 3tbsp of hot water and use a pastry brush to brush over the tops of each of the rolls. Immediately sprinkle with salt and bake for 35 minutes, until risen and darkly golden.

These rolls are best eaten on the day, but if by rare chance you've some left, gently warm them and you're good to go.


Almond Chai Muffins with Chocolate Chunks


I don't know if you can tell, but I have the ultimate sweet tooth. For elevenses and after lunch slumps I'm always raiding the biscuit jar, I just can't help myself. On weeks where I'm much more organised I like to whip up a batch of healthier treats to stash in my desk drawer at work. Anything from muffins, flapjacks to banana bread.

Most weeks I do ok, other weeks I need a little more encouragement. So when Blue Diamond got in touch to tell me about their new '30 Ways to Goodness' campaign I was excited to try a new recipe for my snack box. In collaboration with fitness guru and blogger Faya Nilsson from Fitness on Toast, the team are encouraging you to feel good about yourself with a few simple tips in food and fitness. Together with Faya they've launched a video series to get both your tastebuds and body moving.

Whilst I may not start doing burpees behind the desk, I've been enjoying the brighter days by taking myself on lunchtime walks to get myself moving a little bit more. I tend to graze on snacks throughout the day so instead of sitting around in the canteen, I've been trying exploring the local area in my 45 minutes. Along with being organised in taking in healthier homemade snacks I've also being enjoying almond milk in my coffee to sweeten it up in place of my regular spoon of sugar.


A L M O N D   C H A I   M U F F I N S   W I T H   C H O C O L A T E   C H U N K S
(Recipe adapted from Simply Nigella, makes 12 muffins)


Whilst these aren't super healthy muffins, anything homemade is better than raiding the biscuit jar. Everything in moderation, right? Replace the flour for spelt flour, oil for coconut oil and sugar for honey if you're feeling adventurous. The chocolate chunks are entirely optional, currants or cacao nibs would work equally well too.


225ml Blue Diamond Almond Breeze almond milk
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 chai tea bags
400g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
150g soft light brown sugar
75g whole almonds, roughly chopped
100g milk chocolate chunks (optional)
2 eggs
150ml sunflower oil
  • In a small pan, gently heat the milk, cinnamon and chai tea. Its easier to tear apart the tea bags and pour the tea into the pan. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
  • Meanwhile, heat the oven to 200 degrees and line a muffin tray with paper cases.
  • Pour the flour, baking powder and sugar into a large mixing bowl and roughly whisk to remove any lumps. Add the almonds, apart from a few spoons, and the chocolate chunks.
  • In the saucepan with the cooled milk, add the eggs and oil and whisk until combined.
  • Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and use a spatula or wooden spoon to fold together until just incorporated. Sprinkle the rest of the almonds on the muffin tops. 
  • Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean and the tops are golden. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 10 minutes before eating.


Find out more about the '30 Ways to Goodness' campaign videos here, or recipes here. Blue Diamond Almond Breeze and other products are available in your local Sainsbury's, Tescos, Asda, Morrisons, Waitrose and Ocado. 

This post was kindly sponsored by Blue Diamond, but all views and opinions are my own. 


Pork & Apple Burgers with Sticky Cider Onions


I'm just going to put it out there, its almost barbecue season. Not that I need any more excuse to eat burgers, but more of an excuse to try something a little different. Making burgers at home is super simple and quick but I tend to stick to my trusty tried and tested tricks. Tricks like maple bacon with some squidgy avocado or some fiery sriracha mayo. 

I was sent some of Aspall's new Waddlegoose cider to try and thought it would be the perfect match for pork, apple and sticky onions. These burgers can be made in under 30 minutes, sweet potatoes included. I didn't realise just how great pork burgers could be until now, I'm officially converted. And you don't even need a BBQ to make them


P O R K   &   A P P L E   B U R G E R S   W I T H   S T I C K Y   C I D E R   O N I O N S  
&   H O M E M A D E   S W E E T   P O T A T O   F R I E S
(Makes 4 regular burgers, or 2 epic burgers for the weekend)

SWEET POTATO FRIES

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chips
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp smoked paprika 

PORK & APPLE BURGERS

6-8 pork sausages or 500g pork mince
1 small apple, cored and grated
2 tbsp oil
2 onions, sliced into rings
1 tsp soft light brown sugar
150ml Waddlegoose Cyder

TO SERVE

4 burger buns (brioche or crispy white rolls are my favourite)
4 tbsp mayonnaise
handful of lambs lettuce, pea shoots or rocket

  • Heat the oven to 200 degrees. Throw the sweet potato fries into a sandwich bag with the oil, paprika and season. Seal and shake until well coated. Place the fries in a single layer on the baking tray and bake for 20-25 minutes until the edges turn golden and start to crisp.
  • For the burgers, squeeze out the sausage meat from your sausages into a bowl or pork mince. Add the grated apple, season and mix well. Divide the mixture into 4 and form into equally shaped patties. Set aside on a plate.
  • Heat the oil in a pan over a medium heat. Add the onions and a pinch of salt. Cook stirring occasionally until the onions soften and start to brown around the edges. Add the sugar and cider, mix together and turn up to a high heat. Leave for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the cider has evaporated.
  • Meanwhile, heat a griddle pan until smoking hot and add the burgers. Cook on each side for 3 minutes. Once cooked, leave to rest.
  • Gently toast the cut sides of the burger buns on the griddle pan before spreading some mayonnaise over the bases and add some leaves. Top each with a burger and generous helping of sticky onions. Serve with sweet potato fries. 

Now I'm well and truly in the mood for sunshine I can't wait to create some Waddlegoose cocktails too! Find out more on Waddlegoose and stockists, here.

Thanks to Aspall and Waddlegoose for sending me a box of cider to give me the barbecue feeling! I was not paid for this post, my love for burgers is my own. 



Sundried Tomato and Paprika Houmous


Recently I've been a houmous fiend. I've been dunking everything in it and smearing it over my salads and pittas. My favourites being the smokey piri piri ones or something with large chickpea chunks and pine nuts. My work lunches have got a little more Mediterranean each time the sun makes an appearance. Plenty of olives and feta too. 


After a recent Pinterest binge I had the full realisation of just how versatile houmous can be. THIS pin shows a whole heap of different beans and toppings you can use from black beans to edamame and beetroot. And not only that, you don't really need a recipe or measurements. So with some sundried-ish tomatoes and paprika lurking around I set to work...for all of two minutes!


Simply drain a can of chickpeas and chuck in a blender. I added around 80-90g of sundried tomatoes, 2 tbsp olive oil, 2 tbsp lemon juice and a few spoons of paprika to taste. In my case, lashings.

To mix things up, you could use cannellini beans instead, roasted peppers or even avocado.


Besides the simplicity and speed, I'm a full homemade houmous convert now. I'll be chucking in everything I can find at the start of the week and snacking away al desko from now on!



Chocolate Tiffin


Lets all start by pretending that we've maintained giving up chocolate for lent.

If you have, you're a braver person than I. And, if you haven't then yes my friend, this recipe is for you. Another one of those simple ones, no baking and very versatile. I unashamedly LOVE Costa's tiffins, so much so I've always meant to recreate them myself at home.

Its taken until now to make them...whilst I'm still off chocolate until the end of the week *ahem*. But now its been ticked off my recipe list, these tiffins will be a regular feature in my week. I'm so excited to throw everything in my cupboard at them next time.


C H O C O L A T E   T I F F I N
(Recipe from Mcvitie's, serves 12)

250g chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids)
200g unsalted butter
2tbsp golden syrup
150g roasted shelled hazelnuts, chopped
200g Mcvitie's Digestives, roughly chopped
150g sultanas
75g white chocolate

  • Grease and line a 20cm square tin with baking paper or cling film.
  • In a bowl over a pan of barley simmering water, melt the chocolate, golden syrup and butter. Stir to combine.
  • Remove the bowl from the heat and add the hazelnuts, digestives and sultanas and fold together.
  • Pour into the prepared tin and press down firmly into each corner.
  • Melt the white chocolate in the same way as the dark chocolate. Drizzle or swirl over the tiffin to finish. Leave to set in the fridge before serving.

Thanks to the fabulous McVities for sending me the ingredients to cheer up my week! 

Hot Cross Bun Muffins


Spring has officially sprung, hopefully at least. To celebrate I cracked out the first hot cross bun of the year and proceeded to get it stuck in my brand new toaster. As much as I love them, they do require reasonable effort. No kneading or double proving this week, just 45 minutes and two bowls for these hot cross bun muffins.


H O T   C R O S S   B U N   M U F F I N S
(Recipe adapted from Delicious, makes 12-16 muffins)

285g dried fruit (currants, sultanas and cranberries)
375g self raising flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
165ml sunflower oil
250ml buttermilk
2 eggs
200g caster sugar
80g icing sugar
1tsp lemon juice
  • Heat the oven to 200 degrees and fill a muffin tray with paper muffin cases.
  • In a small bowl, soak the dried fruit in boiling water for 10 minutes. Drain well.
  • Add the flour, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon and nutmeg to a large bowl and whisk to remove any lumps.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the oil, buttermilk, eggs and sugar until fluffy. 
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Gently fold in the fruit.
  • Divide between the muffin cases until two thirds full and bake in the centre of the oven for 20-25 minutes. The tops will be lightly browned and a skewer inserted into the centre will come out clean. 
  • For the icing, sift the icing sugar into a small bowl. Add the lemon juice, a few drops of hot water and mix to a smooth paste. 
  • Once the muffins are cool, use a piping bag to drizzle a cross onto each muffin.