Gin and Tonic Friands

When I purchased the black cherry flavoured icing sugar from The Vanilla Valley recently, I couldn’t resist adding some gin and tonic flavoured icing sugar to my order.  The obvious recipe of choice for me was friands as icing sugar is one of the main ingredients.

G&T Friands4

These are alcohol free, so would be good to take to work for a bake sale, but I did try adding real gin to the glaze with great results.

In reality, these friands are lemon friands and would be just as good with ordinary icing sugar. The tart lemon curd in the middle cuts through the sweetness and I couldn’t resist topping with a little candied lemon slice for a bit of kitsch.

G&T Friands6

I think it’s important to use a decent quality lemon curd here too, some of the very cheap versions taste like washing up liquid.  I chose Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference which wasn’t the most expensive one, but I did avoid the cheapest.  Of course home made is always best if you can get hold of some.

G&T Friands

Ingredients:
250ml egg whites – I use Two Chicks pasteurised egg whites
250g Sugar and Crumbs Gin and Tonic flavoured icing sugar
130g ground almonds
100g plain/all-purpose flour
Zest of one small lemon
165g butter – melted and cooled, plus extra for greasing the tin
1/2 jar of good quality lemon curd

To decorate:
1 cup of gin and tonic flavoured icing sugar, sieved
Water (or gin!)
Candied lemon slices

G&T Friands5

Method:
Pre heat the oven to 180°C/350°F and brush the friand pan with melted butter

Whisk the egg whites until broken down and frothy.

Fold in the almonds, flour and zest until just incorporated and stir in the cooled, melted butter.

Divide the mixture equally between the cups in the tin.

I used a piping bag to squeeze a little lemon curd into each cake, but you could easily do this with two teaspoons.  You only need a small amount – around a teaspoon.

Bake the friands for around 25-30 minutes.  They will rise up a little and become golden. Leave to cool in the tin for 10-15 minutes in order to firm up a little, before leaving to cool completely on a wire rack.

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To decorate, mix the icing sugar with a small amount of water (or gin if using) to make a fairly thick, but still runny, glaze. Drizzle over the little cakes and stud each one with a candied lemon slice.

G&T Friands2

Definitely an unusual alternative to afternoon tea, but a welcome one.

G&T Friands1

Stilton, Walnut and Apple Scones

These savoury scones are flavoured with blue cheese, walnuts, apples and sage. They are really quick to make and just the thing to bake on an Autumn Sunday afternoon.

Stilton Walnut Scones

The secret to these is toasting the walnuts, it really brings them to life and they go so well with the Stilton and apple.

Ingredients:
380g self-raising flour
85g cold butter, cut into dice
1tsp salt
100g walnut halves
180g stilton cheese, rind removed and crumbled
1 large, crisp apple – grated and squeezed to remove most of the juice
8 sage leaves, finely shredded and chopped
200ml cream
1 egg yolk and a little milk to make an egg wash

Stilton scone closeup

Method:
Toss the walnuts in a dry pan and toast them on a medium heat. Keep them on the move and don’t let them burn. You know when they are ready as they start to smell nutty and toasted and they will take on a more golden colour – around 5 minutes. Set aside to cool, before roughly breaking up or chopping them.

Place the flour and salt in a bowl and rub in the butter. Do this by hand, or in a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment. The butter should look like small peas and the mixture will be like rough breadcrumbs.

Add the sage, apple, walnuts and stir through the crumbled Stilton cheese.

Using a fork, or with the mixer on low speed, add the cream to create a rough dough. Do not overmix.

Turn out onto a floured board and wrap in plastic, forming a disc. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

When you are ready to bake, pre-heat the oven to 190°C/375°F and line a baking sheet with parchment or a non-stick liner.

Roll or flatten out the dough to a thickness of around 5cm and cut out your scones. If you use a 6cm cutter, you should get around 8 altogether.

Stilton scones1

Place the scones on the lined baking sheet and brush with the egg wash.

Bake for around 20 minutes, or until baked through and the tops are golden brown.

Stilton scone open

These are lovely, hot from the oven with salted butter and perhaps some chutney and a little more of the Stilton. They make a delicious afternoon treat on a rainy autumn day.

Baby chocolate Oreo tea cakes with marbled chocolate cheesecake frosting

This recipe makes a lot (at least 18), so would be perfect for a bake sale or fund raising coffee morning.

Oreo cakes

I used the Master Class, non-stick, 12 hole mini sandwich tin for this recipe. It makes perfect cakes with straight sides and has loose bases, so every single cake comes out with no effort.  I got mine from Amazon here.

I once had a delicious cupcake at Starbucks that had a mini Oreo cookie on the top. The girl serving us was enthusing how pleased she was that they had started using the mini cookies, rather than half a normal sized one. I thought it was really nice and wanted to make my own version at home.

The cake recipe includes instant espresso powder which (as Ina says) brings out the chocolate flavour even more. The cakes by themselves are very moist, but the frosting is the star here.

I have seen many recipes online for oreo cupcakes with a lot of them using ground up oreos in the frosting. I’m not so keen on the little bits in the frosting, so decided that I would make a smooth icing with mine.

I then thought how good a cheesecake type frosting would be and because I couldn’t decide whether to do a white or a dark chocolate version, I decided to use both! I don’t have any duel colour piping bags, so just divided the frosting and put melted white chocolate in one half, melted dark chocolate in the other half and made delicious marbled chocolate cheesecake buttercream frosting.  These are very rich and indulgent, but very good with coffee for an occasional treat or for afternoon tea.

…unless you are my eldest son and can easily eat 3 or 4 before feeling a bit sick!

Oreo Cake

Cake ingredients:
400g plain/all-purpose flour
50g cocoa
2tbs instant espresso powder
350g golden caster sugar
2tsp baking powder
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
½tsp salt
3 extra-large eggs
175g unsalted butter at room temperature
1tbs vanilla extract
150ml sour cream
130ml vegetable oil
300ml whole/full fat milk

Method:
Sift together the flour, cocoa, espresso powder, baking powder, soda and salt in a large bowl.

In a stand mixer with the paddle attached, whip the softened butter with the sugar until light and fluffy – around 5 minutes.

Beat the eggs with the oil and milk and with the mixer still running, add to the butter and sugar until fully incorporated.

Then with the mixer on low speed, add all the dry ingredients until just mixed in.

Using an ice cream scoop, distribute the cake batter into the waiting tin and bake for around 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Repeat with the rest of the cake batter until you have 18 cakes. Leave to cool completely.

Marbled Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting:
360g room temperature cream cheese
360g icing sugar – sieved
120g softened butter
1tsp vanilla extract
1tsp instant espresso powder
100g packet of good quality white chocolate – broken into smaller pieces
100g packet of good quality 70% cocoa solids chocolate – broken into smaller pieces

Method:
Melt the dark chocolate with the espresso powder in the microwave for 30 seconds and stir, then microwave again for 10 seconds, stirring and repeating until almost melted. The residual heat will continue to melt as you stir. Leave to cool and repeat with the white chocolate.

Beat the cream cheese with a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a hand mixer until light and fluffy. Add the butter and continue whipping. Add in the vanilla and then on low speed, the sieved icing sugar.

Halve the mixture and place one half in a separate bowl.

In the mixer, add the cooled white chocolate and beat until light and fluffy. Transfer to a bowl and repeat with the dark chocolate.

For icing, you can either use a dual colour piping bag which is made for such a job, or, as I have done, you can just use a normal piping bag, fitted with a star nozzle, or even just with the end cut off. Fill one side with the white chocolate and the other with the dark chocolate and squish to remove any air pockets. It doesn’t have to be exact as you are going for a marbled effect.

Oreo cake closeup

Cut the cakes in half and pipe a little of the frosting on one half. Sandwich together with the other half and pipe more onto the top and adorn with a mini Oreo cookie.