Tag Archives: nut

Sweet and Spice: Ginger Flapjacks with Salted Fudgey Icing

A few weeks ago a friend of mine called me up and asked if I fancied going to the Gallery of Modern Art here in Edinburgh. Now, anyone who knows me knows that this is code for ‘let’s go eat some cake!’. The National Galleries of Scotland do a mean scone, but on this occasion I had a ginger flapjack. It was immense (both in size and taste) and I decided that this was something worth recreating. However, the original was a bit hard, so I was after a slightly less chewy, possibly a bit more nutty, flapjack base, and a topping with a bit more of a kick to combat the sweetness of the golden syrup. Then last week a found a recipe for something that looked vaguely similar, and decided to recreate that amazing gingery-sticky-gooey moment of goodness. This is adapted from a GoodFood recipe.

The flapjack base: all the basic ingredients of a traditional flapjack, including enough butter to block all your arteries.

INGREDIENTS: 350g butter (sadly that is not a typo – quite literally not for the faint hearted), 200g light muscavado sugar, 5tbsp golden syrup, 250g rolled oats (porridge oats are fine), 140g plain flour, 50g pecans chopped into small pieces, 50g desiccated coconut, 1tsp of ground ginger.

  • Turn on the oven, set it to 180 (fan) and grease and line a tin. I used one that is about 25cm squared and the flapjacks are quite deep, so you could easily use a bigger tin and make smaller pieces.
  • The great thing about flapjacks is that they are the baking equivalent of one pot cooking! So start by putting the butter, sugar and golden syrup in a pan over a gentle heat. Don’t be tempted to turn up the heat to speed the process – you’ll just get a burnt mess.
  • Once the butter is melted give it another minute so that the sugar is totally dissolved, then add in the flour. At this point I make sure hob is on the lowest setting – you want the flour to mix in and cook a bit but you don’t want anything to burn or stick. Give it a couple of really big stirs.
  •  Mix in all the other ingredients. Turn off the heat and stir until everything is really thoroughly combined.
  • Pour the mixture into the prepared tin. Its quite runny for a flapjack mix but don’t worry – it’ll all sort itself out!
  • Pop into the oven for 35 mins. It’ll still be really wobbly when you take it out, but as it cools will set hard. Leave it in the tin.

You don’t need to wait for it to cool to ice it, so once you’ve removed the tin from the oven get going on the icing.

Fudgy-gingery-salty icing – yum!

INGREDIENTS FOR ICING: 175g butter (basically two packs of butter for the whole recipe), 200g icing sugar, 4tbsp golden syrup, ginger to taste (I used 4 heaped teaspoons but I like it quite strong), maldon salt flakes and whole pecans to decorate.

  • Put the icing sugar, butter, golden syrup and ginger in a pan and slowly melt over a low heat. If you aren’t sure how gingery you want it to be, put 3tsp of ginger in, stir it through and then taste before deciding whether or not to add more. 4tsp makes for quite a gingery kick.
  • Pour the icing over the flapjack (still in the tin) and let it all cool down together.
  • While it is still warm sprinkle over the salt flakes. Don’t overdo it but you want enough to balance out the sweetness of the icing.
  • Work out how many squares you are able to cut it into, and pop a pecan in the middle of each one. This is really sweet, so I suggest small portions. The pecans look pretty and make it easier to cut as they offer up a guide! I made 16 squares.

All iced and ready to cut into portions. The pecans are a good cutting guide for even sized pieces!

Once you have cut up your portions you can pop them in the fridge to harden up the icing, but make sure you take them out at least 15 mins before you want to eat them so that they aren’t as hard as rocks! You can also keep them in an airtight container out of the fridge and they will last quite happily for about 3-4 days.

All ready for eating! The icing will be thicker on the middle pieces as the centre of the flapjack will sink a bit as it cools. These pretty pieces will look the best presentation wise so its worth putting them at the top of the pile!

In the end, I think these were actually better than the ones in the gallery cafe as they were slightly less chewy and had a better depth of flavour. Anyone else like a bit of spice or salt with their sweet?

Happy baking my fellow bandits,

BB x

Pedal Power!!: Flapjacks on the Move

Good evening my fellow bakers! Autumn has more definitely arrived here in Edinburgh, although we’ve been lucky enough to have some glorious autumn sun the last few days – long may it last! At least autumn heralds the return of comfort food – and baking!

While I’ve pottered about the house the last two days, Mr. Bandit has been pedalling around the north of England. Before he went on his merry way, I made some flapjacks for all the boys taking part, to keep them going as they cycled along. These are utterly delicious sweet treats for any time, but have the added bonus of the slow-release energy of the oats, dried fruit and nuts, and are quite robust – a good thing in a cycling jacket pocket! This recipe has been modified from the BBC Goodfood website:

You will need: 140g unsalted butter, 120g soft brown sugar, 3tbsp of golden syrup (or honey if you prefer), 175g porridge oats, 75g pistachios (shelled and unsalted), 140g dried apricots chopped into little pieces, packet of white chocolate drops (from the baking section of the supermarket – you can use buttons or half a bar of white chocolate if that’s easier).

  • Start by melting the butter, sugar and golden syrup in a pan. Keep the heat low and make sure that the sugar is totally disolved. Don’t let it start bubbling or you’ll end up with a very sticky pan!
  • While that’s going on, chop up the nuts and mix with all the other ingredients in a heatproof bowl. It looks lovely even like this!

Doesn’t it look healthy and pretty?! This is before all the butter and sugar….

  • Once the mixture in the pan is completely melted, let is cool a little, then pour into the bowl with the dry ingredients. It’ll be very stiff, but make sure it’s all mixed in properly.
  • Then spoon into a lined 20x20cm tin, and flatten with the back of a spoon. Pop in the oven at 140/160 degrees for 35 minutes.
  • When you take it out the oven it will be runny, so don’t try and take it out the tin. Leave it to cool completely, then remove from the tin and cut into pieces. I went for nine good-sized portions.

Make sure its cold before removing from the tin, or you’ll have a very sloppy mess! It hardens quite quickly. Line the tin well so that you’re not scrubbing burnt sugar off your pans – who wants to be doing that?!

These are quite sweet, and would be just as nice without the white chocolate if you prefer something less tooth-decay inducing! If you leave out the chocolate, up the sugar a little bit to 140g.

I also made some bourbon biscuits (so much better than shop bought!) which would be equally good for an energy boosting snack on the move. Don’t they look scrummy?

Chocolate buttercream filled bourbon biscuits. Delicious!

My next baking experiment will be a biggy – its my grandma’s 80th birthday and I’m making the birthday cake! I feel I better do a test run, so I’m going to use it as an excuse to make a scaled-down version of the lemon wedding cake I want to use. Two birds…one stone… you get the idea! So cross your spoons and wish me luck!

BB x

Holiday Inspiration: triple nut and chocolate cupcakes

Hello lovely blog readers and welcome back! Well, I should be welcoming myself back really after a little holiday related hiatus. Folowing a couple of crazy weeks of work, Mr Bandit and I spent a fabulous week on holiday in France. There was cheese, wine, sun, swimming and a LOT of eating. You see we went on holiday with my WHOLE family (well, a fair portion of them anyway), and everyone enjoys cooking, but mostly we all enjoy eating :). I wish I’d had the wherewithal to take pictures of the amazing French tarts (only bad innuendo I promise) and the scrumptious al fresco meals we enjoyed together as a family. But I didn’t, because I was too busy stuffing my face! I even found time to bake, although I forgot to take a picture of that too. I made a strawberry cheesecake pie. Perhaps I’ll make it again at some point or just post the recipe, it was a real crowd pleaser.

Anyway, as you’ll have realised by now, I have rather a sweet tooth, as does my mum, and one of our favorite things to eat when in France is sweetened chestnut puree. You can get it in the UK, but the really good stuff comes from France. It was on this holiday that we can across one of the best things ever, the credit for which needs to go to my gran. She found sweet chestnut puree in a TUBE! It was like a drug – a little sugary hit you could squeeze onto the end of your finger whenever you needed a hit. Amazing. Sadly I didn’t spot it anywhere, so had to settle for bringing home a big jar of the stuff (what a shame!).

Marron puree – joy in a jar

So then the big question was, what to do with it? And the answer seemed to be – bake! Now I’d come across a few recipes that use chestnut puree, but none of them sounded quite right, so this was a bit experimental. I’m not normally a huge lover of cupcakes – they have too much icing and tend to be style over substance. However, I decided that as these were rather rich, making them in small portions would be best. I’ve used almonds and walnuts instead of flour, and so the triple nut (quadruple if you count the ‘nut’ in nutella) cupcake was born! In the end, the chestnut puree gives a lovely subtle flavour that could be strengthened by increasing the quantity of puree or adding chopped chestnuts instead of walnuts.

So here’s what to do….

INGREDIENTS! Don’t panic – these cupcakes are supposed to be flourless.

  • Heat the oven to 160 (fan) or 180 (conventional) and line a muffin tin with cases.
  • Crack the six eggs into a mixing bowl and pour in the sugar. Using an electric whisk, beat until fluffy and pale. You want it really beaten – don’t skimp this stage because there are a lot of eggs and they will make the cakes light and lovely.
  • In another bowl, poor out the chestnut puree. I had a runny one, but if its a thicker mix, use a fork to whisk it a bit until its smooth.
  • Add half the egg mixture to the chestnut puree and mix carefully – don’t beat the air out of the eggs. It looks a little grim at this stage but have faith…
  • Add the almonds, walnuts and baking powder to the chestnut mix and combine. Then add the rest of the egg mix and fold in. You’ll be left with a runny mess that looks like this:

It looks sloppy but worry not – it’ll all come good in the end!

  • Use a ladle to fill the cases – its much easier! I found about half a ladle worked, but I guess it depends on the size of your ladle! Fill the cases about 2/3 full. I made 17 cupcakes, which was a bit of a random number.
  • For an extra hit of naughty, I plopped half a teaspoon of nutella into the top of each cupcake. I was hoping it would sink, but it didn’t. If you want the nutella in the middle of the cupcake, I suggest using the spoon to push it down into the mix at this stage. Then you’ll have this:

All ready for the oven!

Just pop them in the oven for 30 minutes and hey presto!

I wish blogging allowed you to transmit smells – these made the house smell wonderful!

 

Last but not least was the icing. I decided that a chocolate buttercream would be too rich/sweet, but it would work fine if that’s your preference. I decided to go for a decadent, dark ganache.

Ganache is even easier than icing – only three ingredients!

  • Put all the ingredients in a pan and let it all melt. Leave it on a low heat until everything is completely melted, but keep stirring or it’ll stick and burn. I decided at the last minute to add 3 tbsp of icing sugar, because I used very dark chocolate, but use a 60% cocoa solid chocolate and you won’t need to – unless you want to of course! Just make sure you sieve the sugar or you’ll get lumpy icing. PLEASE NOTE! This made a very generous amount of icing and I have leftovers in the fridge, so if you only like a thin layer, make half.
  • Once everything is melted, pour it into a bowl and leave it to cool. You can pop it in the fridge for a bit to thicken up, but don’t leave it too long or you won’t be able to get it out the bowl – it’ll set hard!
  • Once the cakes are cool and the icing thickening, spoon onto the cakes. You’ll have something like this:

The finished article!

 

These will need to be kept in the fridge, but take them out about 20 minutes before you want to eat them, because they’re better at room temperature. Any spares will keep in the fridge for a few days – if they last that long!

These were not only delicious, but have helped stem the post holiday blues a little. I suppose they aren’t French in the slightest, but they’re very yummy! Besides, I bet you’re glad I didn’t choose the pate we also brought back with us as my inspirational baking ingredient!

Happy Baking!

BBx