Buckeyes

We all love peanut butter in my house, especially Reece’s peanut butter cups.  Not overly keen on the chocolate though, sorry!  These are very similar to a peanut butter cup, but homemade and – well, nicer chocolate too!

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I’ve seen buckeyes around on the internet for a few years now and they are traditional in Ohio as they resemble the buckeye tree nut – basically just like a conker.  They are traditionally served around Christmas time, so I thought I would have a go and bring buckeyes to the UK.

They are really easy to make and take no time at all to make a batch.  I have a double recipe here, which makes practically a whole tree full, but you can halve the recipe, or halve the dough, freeze it and make some another time.  They are really rich and indulgent, so you wouldn’t want to eat too many anyway, but great for a crowd.

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I have used a mixture of dark and milk chocolate, but you could go all dark to offset the sugar a little if you wish.

Ingredients:
500g smooth peanut butter – I used Skippy
120g softened butter
pinch of salt
1tsp vanilla extract
450g icing sugar – seived
200g dark 70% chocolate
100g milk chocolate

Method:
Beat the peanut butter, butter, salt and vanilla in bowl until smooth. I use my stand mixer with the paddle attachment, but this is easily done by hand.

On low speed (and with a towel wrapped around the mixer) beat in the sugar until combined. You are looking for a fairly stiff and mouldable mixture that you can easily roll into balls without getting in a mess. If it looks too sticky, add in a little more icing sugar. Similarly, if it is too dry and turns into crumbs, add another spoon of peanut butter. Its a very simple mixture, you can’t really go wrong.

Taking around a tablespoon of mixture for each one, roll into balls and place on a non stick liner, or waxed parchment. Skewer each one with a cocktail stick and chill, or freeze until firm.

Buckeyes

When you are ready to dip, break the chocolate into small pieces and melt in the microwave, stirring the last few lumps in the residual heat to completely melt.

I like to transfer to a smaller bowl at this point as you want to dunk the balls to coat them.

Buckeyes1

Dip each ball into the molten chocolate and let the excess run back into the bowl and place back onto the non stick liner. As the peanut butter balls are so cold, the chocolate will set immediately and leave you with a nice, thin, crisp shell.

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Finish coating all of the balls, tipping the bowl as the chocolate runs out and leave to set.

Pull out the cocktail sticks and leave the chocolate to completely set, before smoothing out the hole with a clean finger, or the back of a teaspoon.

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I prefer them kept refrigerated, but you can place them into little paper cases in a festive box and give them as gifts.

Bonfire Cupcakes

I have seen lots of people make a version of these on Pinterest and always wanted to have a go myself as they are really fun, but also delicious to eat.

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Keeping with the bonfire theme, I have used dark brown sugar in the moist chocolate cakes and a little cinnamon too, giving a toasty, warm flavour.

To make these extra decadent, I have used a rich cream cheese frosting which is really delicious with the chocolate cakes.  It will crust a little once piped onto the cakes, so they shouldn’t be too messy to eat!

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The firewood sticks are made from Mikado and the flames leaping into the air are melted boiled sweets.  To make these extra kitsch, I have added a toasted marshmallow on a stick too.

These were very popular with the children and very simple to make – a perfect Bonfire Night treat.

Ingredients:
160g unsalted butter, at room temperature
150g light brown sugar
110g dark brown sugar
2 extra large eggs
1tsp vanilla extract
1tsp coffee extract
375ml sour cream
250g plain/all-purpose flour
90g cocoa powder
2tsp cinnamon
1.5tsp baking soda
1/2tsp salt

Cream cheese frosting:
1 x 280g pack of room temperature cream cheese – I used Philadelphia
125g room temperature butter
2tsp vanilla extract
425g sieved icing sugar
red, orange and yellow food colouring – I used blossom dust

Flames, firewood and toasted marshmallows:
Red, orange and yellow boiled sweets – I used Fox’s Glacier Fruits
1 -2 70g boxes of Mikado biscuits – I used the ones with Daim
12 cocktail sticks and mini marshmallows
Autumn leaf sprinkles – optional

Bonfire Cupcakes

Method:
Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/356°F and line a 12 hole muffin tin with paper cases

In a large bowl, sieve together the flour, cocoa, cinnamon, salt and baking soda and set aside.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or using an electric whisk – cream the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy, stopping to scrape down the sides from time to time.

While still mixing, add the eggs one at a time, making sure they are fully incorporating before adding the next one.  Beat in the vanilla and coffee extracts.

With the mixer on low speed, add one third of the flour, followed by one third of the sour cream and so on until just combined.  If you add the sour cream all at once, the mixture will curdle.  It will come back when you add the flour, but you will lose some of the lightness.

Using an ice cream scoop to ensure all the cakes are the same size, plop the mixture into the cases and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a cocktail stick comes out clean.  Leave to cool completely.

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To make the frosting, beat the cream cheese, vanilla and sieved icing sugar together until smooth.  Split the frosting into three and add the food colouring to colour each third yellow, red and orange.  Just add a little at a time until you get the colour you want,  I used edible blossom dust, but the gel colours you can get work well too.

Pile the frosting into a piping bag, keeping the colours as separate as you can.  You are wanting a marbled effect, so a little mixing of the colours is fine.  You can use a special piping bag with chambers if you wish.  Leave the piping bag in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to firm up.

To make the flames, put the oven on at around 200°C/400°F

Place the different coloured sweets into plastic bags and bash them into crumbs with a mallet or rolling pin.  Place little piles of them onto a lined baking sheet – red at the bottom, then orange and yellow at the top – see below:

Candy flames

Place in a hot oven for around 5 minutes, or until the pieces melt – just keep an eye on them.  When they have melted, take them out and using a cocktail stick, swirl the colours up to create flames.  Work quickly as they cool down in minutes.

To assemble, pipe a swirl of the orange, red and yellow frosting onto each cake, break up the Mikado sticks for firewood and stud each cake with flames, breaking them for different heights.

Bonfire Cupcake

Finally, skewer cocktail sticks with one or two mini marshmallows and using a firelighter or lighted match, scorch the marshmallows to toast them, before placing onto each cake.  I also added a few autumn leaf sprinkles too.

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Just the thing for a bonfire party.

Acorn Cakelets

I LOVE Nordic Ware cake pans! They are so well made and come in a multitude of different designs. My favourites are the Fall Harvest collection as they are designed for people who love Autumn!

Acorn cakelet pan

I’ve found them in Homesense and of course, on Amazon and I’ve collected a few of them over the years. The only trouble I have, (perfectionist that I am), is the little holes you get when you bake the cakes, spoiling the detail. I have experimented with various recipes, starting with the one that comes with the pan, meticulously brushing all the little nooks with butter, banging tins before they go into the oven but still seeing those annoying little holes!

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As far as preparing the tin goes, I have buttered, buttered and floured and used cake release spray and can honestly say the best result came from using none of them! I really do think you have to have faith in the non-stick. I definitely have less holes when I don’t use anything. I think the butter can gather in the little crevices and then when the cakes bake, the butter creates steam and you can get little holes.

I also pipe the mixture in, that way you can really make sure the batter fills the little details from the bottom up.

As you will see from these photos, there are still some troublesome holes present, but mostly, they have come out smooth. I am still working on the perfect, hole-free recipe!

Acorn Cakelet collection

Below are three different flavours, all based on the same original recipe and each one is enough to fill the pan twice. Chocolate, Maple Spice and Spiced Pumpkin. My family liked the chocolate ones the best.

They are the perfect little snack and can be decorated with a glaze, sprinkles, or sandwiched together with a spiced buttercream.

Acorn Cakelets

Chocolate Acorn Cakelets

Ingredients:
125g plain/all-purpose flour
65g cocoa
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1.5tsp cinnamon
0.5tsp ground cloves
0.5tsp ground ginger
120ml whole milk
85g pure maple syrup
1tsp vanilla extract
1tsp coffee extract
115g butter at room temperature
75g caster sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten

Method:
Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F

Sieve the flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt and spices together in a bowl.

Combine the milk, maple syrup, vanilla and coffee extract in a small bowl and stir together.

Beat the butter and brown sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy. I use my stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment.

Beat in the eggs a little at a time and then with the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients and alternate with the liquid mixture until everything is combined.

If you add the milk mixture straight to the eggs, it will curdle horribly. However, it will come back when you add the flour, so don’t worry. Mix on low speed until the mixture is smooth, but don’t over-mix as the cakelets will become tough.

Pile the batter into a piping bag. I use disposable ones and just cut a little hole in the bottom. Pipe around a tablespoon of mixture into each hole so that it is around ¾ full. Pipe the batter so the holes are filled from the bottom up to try and avoid holes in your little acorns.

Give the pan a rap on the worktop – I don’t know if this really helps expel air but every little helps!

Bake for around 12 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Let cakes cool for 10 minutes or until you can see them springing back from the cavities. Turn out onto a cooling rack to fully cool if you are decorating, or you can serve them warm with coffee.

Chocolate acorn cakelet

Maple Spice Acorn Cakelets

Ingredients:
190g plain/all-purpose flour
0.5tsp baking powder
0.5tsp salt
2tsp cinnamon
0.5tsp ground cloves
0.5tsp ground ginger
120ml whole milk
85g pure maple syrup
1tsp vanilla extract
1tsp maple extract
115g butter at room temperature
50g soft brown sugar
20g dark brown sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten

Method:
Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F

Sieve the flour, baking powder, salt and spices together in a bowl.

Combine the milk, maple syrup, vanilla and maple extract in a small bowl and stir together.

Beat the butter and sugars together in a large bowl until light and fluffy.

Beat in the eggs a little at a time and then with the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients and alternate with the liquid mixture until everything is combined.

Pile the batter into a piping bag and just cut a little hole in the bottom. Pipe around a tablespoon of mixture into each hole so that it is around ¾ full and bang the pan to level the batter and expel any air.

Bake for around 12 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Let cakes cool for 10 minutes or until you can see them springing back from the cavities. Turn out onto a cooling rack.

Maple acorn cakelet

Spiced Pumpkin Acorn Cakelets

Ingredients:
200g plain/all-purpose flour
200g pumpkin puree
0.5tsp baking powder
0.5tsp salt
2tsp cinnamon
0.5tsp ground cloves
0.5tsp ground ginger
0.25tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1tsp vanilla extract
115g butter at room temperature
80g soft brown sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten

Method:
Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F

Sieve the flour, baking powder, salt and spices together in a bowl.

Beat the butter and brown sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy.

Beat in the eggs a little at a time and then beat in the pumpkin.

With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients until everything is combined.

Pipe around a tablespoon of mixture into each hole so that it is around ¾ full and bang the pan to level the batter and expel any air.

Bake for around 12-15 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. I found the pumpkin ones took a little longer than the others to be fully baked.

Let cakes cool for 10 minutes or until you can see them springing back from the cavities. Turn out onto a cooling rack.

Pumpkin acorn cakelet