Thursday 18 July 2013

Yeo Valley Blueberry Yogurt Cake

Quite often I do something I think is fairly sensible but then doesn't really work out... what am I talking about I hear you thinking. Well, I buy fresh berries with all good intentions of eating them and then when I realise that I'm not going to manage it I freeze the berries. All well and good, but they then stay in suspended animation in the freezer for a very long time. Too long. 

I need to clear the freezer(s) out in a reasonably short time frame (I'm not going to manage it, but I'm going to try) and since a large amount of fruit is currently resident in the freezer it seems sensible to try and use some of it up. Whilst browsing the internet recently I came across a recipe for Raspberry, Lemon and Yogurt Tealoaf on the Telegraph food and drink website. The recipe is by Sarah Mayor and has been published in the recent cookery book from Yeo Valley - well known for making yogurts. 

As it happens I currently have a fridge full of yogurt too (another of those healthy things I buy but don't always get round to eating!) and so this seemed like the perfect recipe to use up some ingredients. I didn't want a loaf though, as I wanted the cake to cook more quickly and I also didn't bother with the lemon, and substituted blueberries for raspberries. 

You can find the original recipe here. I defrosted the blueberries in the fridge overnight, and they were only just defrosted which probably helped because the cake batter was incredibly stiff, really, really thick and I didn't think I'd actually get the blueberries to mix through, but managed eventually. I ended up using Total 0% fat greek yogurt rather than the specified wholemilk yogurt and used 1tsp vanilla instead of the lemon. I used 25g extra flour instead of the almonds for allergy reasons and didn't do the topping, but aside from all these changes (!) followed the recipe!!!

My cake took about 70 minutes to bake in an 8" round tin and although I had been concerned that it might be a little dry as the batter was so stiff I was pleased to find it was soft and moist with lovely blueberry hits throughout the cake. The stiff mixture prevented the berries all sinking to the bottom, giving a good distribution through the cake. Next time I think I'd take the time to add the lemon because I think the cake would definitely benefit from that added flavour lift. I finished with a dusting of icing sugar (the cake hadn't quite cooled by the time I needed to take it to work so I didn't want a fancy topping). A very successful cake and one I'd make again.

This month's No Waste Food Challenge, started by Kate at Turquoise Lemons is being hosted by Elizabeth of Elizabeth's Kitchen and is titled 'Freezer Stash'. This cake made great use of some of my many blueberries and is my submission.

Thursday 4 July 2013

Chocolate Cashew Cookies

Chocolate Cashew Cookies

I was recently contacted and asked if I would like to take part in the Aero Perfect Pairing challenge. With the offer of Niki Segnet's book 'The Flavour Thesaurus - Pairings, recipes and ideas for the creative cook' I was definitely in. The book arrived along with a big bag of Aero's Chocolate Orange bubbles (which I didn't manage to get a picture of) and a bar of Aero mint chocolate. 

I made some chocolate orange cupcakes using Nigella's Storecupboard Chocolate Orange cake recipe (one of my standby recipes) and topped them with some chocolate frosting and the chocolate  orange balls. Unfortunately, making cakes in the morning before work isn't really conducive to having enough time to allow them to cool, so they were still warm when I put the chocolate frosting (which was itself still warm and runny) on them and the chocolate orange bubbles kind of melted. Sorry, no pictures!

I have to confess that I wasn't quite sure which flavour combination to go for - I wanted something I thought would work, but which isn't too widespread and well known. The brief stated that the recipe didn't have to include either Aero or chocolate but being a bit of a chocoholic, I decided that I would include dark chocolate in my recipe. 

A cookie recipe that I'd bookmarked ages and ages ago from the Hungry Hinny sprang to mind as being an interesting one in which to incorporate different flavours. The recipe is for cream cheese cookies and doesn't use egg at all. I increased the amount of flour slightly and hope that the Hungry Hinny doesn't mind me reproducing my attempt at these cookies. Very unusually for me, I made these by hand - only a bowl and spoon required - no need to make washing up and use the stand mixer!

Creamed butter and cream cheese

Chocolate Cashew Cookies
85g cream cheese (I used full fat Philadelphia)
85g butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 tsp vanilla extract
105g light muscovado sugar
150g plain flour
1/2tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2tsp salt
30g cashews, roughly broken/chopped
50g dark chocolate, in small chunks

- Preheat the oven to 160C. Line two baking trays with parchment paper.
- Beat the cream cheese until softened, then add the melted butter and vanilla. Keep beating - it will turn from curdled looking lumpy mess into a beautifully smooth batter (I had serious doubts when I saw the initial mixture but it all turned out fine). 
- Beat in the sugar and then the flour, bicarbonate and salt until a dough forms.
- Fold in the cashews and dark chocolate. 
- At this point I ignored the instructions to leave for 30 minutes to chill and just dolloped small blobs onto the lined baking tray, spread well apart. (For my mixture putting it in the fridge didn't really seem to make much difference - I put the rest of it in the fridge while the first batch of cookies were baking, but actually preferred that first batch slightly - the second batch appeared 'grainy' - no idea why)
- Bake for 15 minutes until very light brown. Allow to sit for around 10 minutes once removed from the oven to make it possible to transfer them to a wire rack (they'll be very soft once they come out of the oven).
I made 22 cookies from the mixture.

Soft cookie dough

Verdict? Actually, personally I wasn't all that keen on this cashew chocolate combo - I couldn't really taste the cashews and think I should have toasted them before adding them which would have enhanced their flavour and made them crunchier - cashews are quite a soft nut really. Otherwise successful and colleagues liked them more than me. The actual cookie dough part was very soft and far more cakey than I was expecting. I'd like to try the recipe again though. I'm wondering about using some golden syrup sugar from Tate and Lyle I bought recently and using dried fruit like cranberries along with the chocolate. An interesting recipe to play with.

And my colleagues finished up all of the Aero chocolate orange balls quite happily!

Cakey cookies

Disclaimer: I received a copy of 'The Flavour Thesaurus' and some Aero products. All views expressed are my own. Thank you Sophie.


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