Chocolate Chunk Cookies

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These amazingly soft but not too chewy cookies are based on the following bbc goodfood recipe:

http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/2459643/vintage-chocolate-chip-cookies

I’ve made them a few times now and everyone comments on how they resemble those from a well known cookie place.  I’ve adapted the recipe slightly to make them larger and more tasty!

Makes 18 jumbo cookies

Ingredients

150g softened butter

70 g soft light brown sugar

70g granulated sugar

Beans from 1 vanilla pod

1 egg

225g plain flour

1/4 tsp salt

100 g plain chocolate chunked!

100g milk chocolate  chuncked

I cut my own chunks into about 1 cm cubed pieces.  That way I can use the best chocolate and customize the size.  Plus it just looks better on the cookie!

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Method

1. Preheat the oven to 170C.  Line two trays with baking paper.

2. Cream the butter, vanilla and two types of sugar like you would for a cake.

3. In a separate bowl sieve the flour, salt and bicarbonate of soda.

4. Add the egg into the creamed butter-sugar batter and whisk until combined.

5.  With a wooden spoon, mix the flour into the batter until it forms a sticky cookie dough. Add most of the chocolate chunks and mix to distribute throughout the dough.

6.  Use an icecream scoop to scoop and plop about 18 cookies onto the baking sheets. Press the remaining chucks on top of each cookie. I used about 3 or 4 on each cookie.

7. Bake for 11-13 minutes and for a few minutes longer on a lower heat if you like them with a slightly roasted flavor which I do.  They will still be soft and flexible even if you cook them to a medium brown colour. It’s all about preference.

These are really easy to make and credit goes to the original chef on the above link.  I’ve been making chocolate cookies using famous recipes like the classic Hersheys cookie recipe and they turn out pretty good but I find this recipe is always consistant with with taste, softness and perfect chewiness and for now I don’t need to look anywhere else for the perfect chocolate chunk cookie recipe.

Go on and make your kitchen smell like it should!

Chocolate Wedges

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I’ve been making these delights for over 20 years. The original recipe was given to my mother by a neighbour.  They are a huge hit with my family and friends and I have had many requests for the recipe so here it is!

Ingredients   Makes 30 pieces

For the base:

500g / 17 oz digestive biscuits

210g / 7.5 oz butter

6 tsp cocoa powder

3 1/2 tbsp. golden syrup

For the icing topping:

150g / 5.3 oz milk chocolate

2 tbsp. evaporated milk

2 tbsp. icing sugar

To garnish:

Nuts

Method:

1) Thickly grease a suitable tray/cake pan or flat pyrex dish.  I used a 15 inch round tray.  You can use two smaller trays if you do not have a big one.

2) Crush the digestives  leaving few larger crumbs for texture.

3) In a saucepan, melt the butter.  Add the cocoa and golden syrup and stir until smooth.  Take off the heat.  Add the digestives and mix until combined

4) Tightly press the digestive mixture into the tray using a clean spoon. The base should be about 0.8 to 1cm thick. Place in the fridge while you prepare the icing.

5) For the icing, place the chocolate and evaporated milk into a bowl and microwave for 30 seconds. Stir until the chocolate has almost melted into the milk.  Add the icing sugar and mix until glossy.  Quickly spread this over the biscuit base.

6) While the chocolate is still wet, add chopped nuts to garnish. Set in fridge for one hour

7) Cut into wedges or rhombi. Then carefully remove from the pan with a suitable flat utensil.

Hints and Tips:

The wedges should be stored in the fridge

You can replace some of the butter with spread.  I generally don’t like using spreads but in this recipe I occasionally use a ratio of  5.5 oz of butter to 2 oz olive oil spread. Do not replace more than this as the wedges will become too soft.

For nut free versions, garnish with rice crispies, crushed cornflakes or leave plain.

For added crunch, replace 1/3 of the biscuits with finely crushed cornflakes.

If you want more intense chocolate flavor, add more cocoa powder to the base and replace half of the milk chocolate with plain/dark chocolate in the icing.

Enjoy!

Cake Toppers

Cakes have evolved over the last decade or two and with it so has the crown of the cake: the cake topper.

My first wedding cake had a traditional bride and groom topper.  It was something I bought although not cheaply! My first attempt to make one of these over a decade ago, left me with a not so slender bride model! The image of her will always remain in my mind with a cheeky smile on my face! This is the picture of my first ever wedding cake

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It actually was a beautiful cake and the topper suited it well. And it being my first one, I was well happy with it!

A few wedding cakes later, the bride/groom transformed into bouquets of flowers! Flowers look great on traditional designs as well as more contemporary cakes as they help to soften the overall look.

Fresh or Sugar paste flowers?

Sugar paste flowers are an art form.  They take many days to make. Hours of rolling, cutting, forming, sticking, drying to make a single bouquet.  And that’s after the hours of research into colours and types of flowers and how to make them so that they look as real as possible.  They are also incredibly delicate yet heavy.  These factors add more difficulty to the cake making task and hence the cost to the client can increase. The benefits of spending this time and the subsequent cost to the client are that they look fabulous, make your clients cake extra special because they will know and appreciate the effort that’s  been made to form these beauties especially for their cake on their big day. Sugar flowers also last for many years and so the bride can keep them as a keep sake.  If the couple choose to freeze the top tier for say their first wedding anniversary, they can place the original sugar paste bouquet on top.  What could be a nicer finishing touch :)

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Fresh flowers are unbeatable! Although they may not add as much artistic flare to the cake, they are the real thing so you can’t go wrong! Thus far, I have had the bouquets made by professional florists.  They can be very expensive! I usually do my research, print of an idea of what id like the bouquet to look like, coordinate with the florists on which flowers and the size of the bouquet.  This will involve at least two trips to the florist, one being a pick up on what can be a very busy delivery day.  Fresh flowers are only fresh the day they are cut but nothing can replicate natural flowers in beauty and fragrance.   Make sure if you do use fresh flowers that they have as little contact with the cake itself and that they are safe to be used as decoration on food items.

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Although I think flowers will remain the trend as a cake topper for a while yet, a new wave in popularity is the monogram topper. This is usually a motif made up of letters symbolic to the couple which is used to stamp their invitations and other wedding and personal items.  This unique monogram can be made into a cake topper using edible or inedible materials.  It adds elegance and edge to show stopping cake!

How we top our cakes is no longer something that comes second or as an end thought when we design cakes.  In some situations the cake is designed around the topper for example, around brides favourite flower or a very modern monogram.  The cake topper is often the most time consuming and expensive part of the cake but it also where most of the impact is.  It is the crown to your cake!