Jack Daniels and Coke Cupcakes

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You guys don't half love a boozy bake.  Whenever I look at my blog stats one particular post always stands out in terms of popularity, my gin and tonic cupcakes.  I've seemed to shy away from cupcakes on my blog; probably because I bake them at work all day, every day, but that's enough of that.  What a way to reintroduce cupcakes than with these super kick-ass Jack Daniels and Coke blighters.  

Jack Daniels, Whiskey Chocolate Cupcakes





These delightfully squiffy babies consist of a cola sponge, hollowed out and filled with a Jack Daniels spiced chocolate ganache. They're then topped with a swirl of Jack Daniels butter cream, followed by more ganache and a jelly cola bottle.  I'd recommend these cupcakes for any adult occasion but I can't help but notice how perfect they'd be for Fathers Day, what a coincidence that it's coming up next week!

Jack Daniels, Whiskey Chocolate Cupcakes

I'm already planning a bit of a cuptail (that's a cocktail cupcake to you and me) series for my blog, combining my passion for cake and a good old booze.  What cocktail would you like to see magicked into a cupcake wrapper?

Jack Daniels and Coke Cupcakes
Makes 20 - 24 cupcakes

For the cupcakes:
250ml full fat Coke
250g unsalted butter
85g cocoa powder
220g plain flour
400g caster sugar
2tsp baking powder
2 large eggs
250ml soured cream

For the ganache:
600g plain chocolate
300ml double cream
4tsp Jack Daniels

For the Buttercream:
250g butter, softened
750g icing sugar
4tbsp Jack Daniels
4tbsp milk (more if needed)

Method:
Preheat your oven to 175C and line two cupcake trays with liners.  In a large saucepan bring the coke and butter to a simmer until melted together.  Sift in the cocoa powder followed by the sugar, whisk until combined.

In a large jug whisk together the eggs and soured cream until smooth, slowly add the egg mixture to the cola, whisking constantly.  Add the flour and baking powder, fold together till everything is smooth and silky.  Fill the cupcake cases 3/4 full and bake for twenty minutes.

While the cakes are baking prepare the ganache.  Break the chocolate into small pieces and place in a bowl, set aside.  In a small saucepan bring the double cream to a simmer, once small bubbles start to form pour the cream over the chocolate and leave for two minutes.  Stir till smooth and combined before stirring in the Jack Daniels.  Set aside to thicken slightly while you await your cupcakes.

Once your cupcakes are baked and cooled use an apple corer, or a sharp knife to hollow out the centre of each cake.  Fill each hollow with ganache and set aside while you make your butter cream.

For the butter cream place the butter and icing sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer, cover with a tea towel and mix on a medium speed.  Once combined add the Jack Daniels and the milk and mix, again on a medium speed.  If the frosting is still too thick to pipe add a splash of milk until you reach a good consistency.  Pipe a swirl on top of each cupcake before dolloping some more ganache on top followed by a jelly cola bottle.

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Homemade Chicken Gyoza

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My name is Katie and I'm a gyoza addict!  Barely a week goes by when I don't fill my greedy little face with these delicious dumplings.  Sadly going to Wagamama numerous times a week was getting a little expensive, what with the sides of noodles and katsu (that you simply must order with your gyoza) so I bought the book and set about making my own at home.

Homemade gyoza recipe

 The great thing about this recipe is it makes an absolute truckload, or thirty five if you prefer numbers, and they freeze perfectly so you always have access to dumplings.  Simply pop the finished dumplings on a tray in the freezer for an hour before portioning them up into little bags and stashing for later munchies. 



I do have a lazy girl hack when it comes to folding your gyoza, buy one of these.  Who has the time, or skill, to stand and hand crimp thirty plus dumplings, not me!  This little gadget saves so much time and ensures your dumplings all look beautifully uniform.  If you do want to try your hand at the authentic way here's a great link for perfecting your technique.

Homemade Chicken Gyoza

These babies are so tasty and so easy, if you're a gyoza addict like me I implore you to fill your freezer.  There is nothing more comforting than knowing you have frozen gyoza (and frozen cookies) at hand for any hangry emergencies.

Homemade Chicken Gyoza

Chicken Gyoza
(Adapted from Wagamama Cookbook)

Ingredients:
200g free range chicken breast, minced or chopped in a food processor
2 garlic cloves
1tbsp grated ginger
100g chinese leaf
100g white cabbage
100g water chestnuts
2tbsp soy sauce
1tbsp sesame oil
1tbsp fish sauce
1tsp sugar
2tbsp chopped chives
salt and pepper
gyoza skins (buy them frozen from your local chinese supermarket)

Method:
Blitz the ginger, garlic, chinese leaf, cabbage and water chestnuts in a food processor till finely chopped.  Mix with the remaining ingredients, except the gyoza skins, till everything is evenly distributed.

Place a teaspoon of the mixture in the middle of each gyoza skin, dampen the edge with a little water before folding and crimping either by hand or gadget until you've used all of your chicken mixture.  You should get around thirty five dumplings.  Now, either cook them up or you can freeze them in smaller portions for future use.

To cook, get a large heavy bottomed frying pan and heat 1tbsp oil over a high heat.  Place no more than five dumplings in the pan and fry for two minutes to get that delicious crispy bottom.  Pop three tablespoons of water into the pan and immediately cover the pan with a lid, turn the heat down to medium and allow to steam for two minutes.  Once the two minutes are up remove the pan from the heat and allow to steam for a further two minutes.  Your dumplings are now ready to eat, serve with a little soy sauce and chilli oil.




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Kick Ass Chocolate Chunk Cookies

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I, along with everyone else in the world, am constantly on the search for that one chocolate chip cookie recipe that just kicks the ass off every other cookie recipe.  I've tried countless varieties, and while none of them have been particularly bad, none of them have took my breath away either.  To be perfectly honest, it's not really a bad quest to be on.  Even a mediocre cookie is pretty damn tasty fresh from the oven.

The only chocolate chip cookie recipe you'll ever need.

So far, on my epic journey I've met a few contenders for the throne but these babies have usurped the lot.  Bend the knee and swear alliance to the new king of the North, the chocolate chunk cookie.  Yeah, I may have been watching a little too much Game of Thrones, say something!

The only chocolate chip cookie recipe you'll ever need.

The only thing I'd recommend doing with this recipe is doubling, even tripling the quantities and freezing cookie shaped portions.  Hot cookies, fresh from the oven on demand.  You're bloody welcome!   The frozen cookies should only need two minutes longer on the cooking time, but that might as well be an eternity when your tummies a-rumbling.

The only chocolate chip cookie recipe you'll ever need.

Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients
125g unsalted butter, softened
2tbsp caster sugar
2tbsp demerera sugar
170g light brown sugar
1 large egg
1tsp vanilla extract
1tsp baking powder
220g plain flour
200g plain chocolate chopped into chunks
sea salt to finish

Method
Preheat your oven to 170C and line three baking sheets with grease proof paper.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, or using a large bowl and hand held whisk, cream together the butter and sugars till light and fluffy.  Add the egg and vanilla, beating till incorporated.  Slowly add the flour and baking powder and mix to get a dry, slightly crumbly looking dough.  Stir through the chocolate chunks.

Take tablespoons of the cookie dough and shape into rounds, placing on the baking tray as you go making sure you leave enough room between cookies for spreading.  Sprinkle each cookie with a tiny pinch of sea salt before baking for 10 - 12 minutes.  Once baked allow to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling, that is if you can restrain yourself.

Pour yourself a cold glass of milk and dig in!





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Sweet Shop Tiffin

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Sometimes you create something so filthy, something so naughty you feel you have to hide it from the world.  This chocolatey wonder is like the bastard son of rocky road and tiffin, hidden away in the attic and fed on a bucket of fish heads once a week.  The attic is never a good prison, the undesirables always escape.  Boom, sweet shop tiffin!

A delicious tiffin packed with all of your sweet shop favorites

Sadly, I can't take credit for this awesome idea.  I was scrolling through Instagram a few weeks ago when I paused on a photo from Crumbs & Doilies showing a majestic square of goodness packed with sweet shop favorites.   Since I'm in Newcastle and they're in London the only thing I could do was make my own.  I headed straight off to the supermarket, filled my trolley with chocolate and sweeties and set about mashing it all together in an unholy union of deliciousness.

A delicious tiffin packed with all of your sweet shop favorites

These bars can be customised with whatever you enjoy to chomp upon. I filled mine with Double Deckers, Smarties, Toffee Crunches, Kit Kats, marshmallows and Rolos but next time I'm going to add fudge bars and maybe a few Crunchies.

A delicious tiffin packed with all of your sweet shop favorites

Sweet Shop Tiffin

Ingredients:
325g plain chocolate, chopped
225g milk chocolate, chopped
250g unsalted butter
100g golden syrup
10 bars of your favorite chocolate treats, chopped up
1 bag of mini marshmallows

Method:
Pop both of the chocolates, butter and the golden syrup in a large, heavy based saucepan and melt together over a low heat.

Jumble the chopped chocolate bars and marshmallows together in a large bowl and pour over 2/3 of the melted chocolate.  Mix together until everything is coated then pour into a 20x30 disposable tin, or use a greased and lined brownie tin. Smooth out the top before pouring on the remaining chocolate to fill any gaps and crevices.  

Refrigerate till firm then cut into 16 hunks.  Dust with icing sugar and enjoy your naughty treats.
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Hazelnut & Chocolate Banana Bread

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I saw my first fly today.  Flies bum me out; flies mean Winter has finally passed and given way to immanent Spring.  The moment the first bluebottle bumbles across my path, I instantly lament the Winter I've been whining about for the last two months and start looking forward to weeks of not knowing whether to wear a coat.  With warmth brings regret, regret brings salad masquerading as a meals. Salad masquerading as a meal makes Katie unhappy.  I'm going to hide indoors and cling onto the last fleeting days of Winter,  I'm going to bake banana bread!


Banana bread is like a hug in a cake.  It's warm and comforting without being cloyingly sweet.  If you're a a calorie rebel, like me, you can even turn a few slices of this son'bitch into french toast drizzled with Nutella.  Filthy, I know.
 


Hazelnut & Chocolate Banana Bread

Ingredients:
200g unsalted butter
200g light brown sugar
100g whole, skinless hazelnuts
2 large eggs
200g self raising flour
1tsp baking powder
3 medium, ripe bananas mashed with a fork
1/2tsp vanilla extract
200g plain chocolate chips


Method:
 Preheat the oven to 175C then grease and line a loaf tin with baking parchment.

Beat the sugar and flour together for five minutes until light and creamy, add the eggs one at a time mixing well between each addition.  Scoop in your mashed bananas and vanilla extract and mix.  While you beat your butter and sugar toast the hazelnuts in the oven for a few minutes.  Once toasted pop them into a food processor and pulse them until they're finely ground.

Add the hazelnuts, flour and baking powder to the butter and mix until combined. Stir through the chocolate chips with a wooden spoon before pouring the batter into the prepared tin and baking for 60 - 75 minutes, the cake should be golden brown and springs back if prodded with a finger.

Allow to cool in the tin before turning out and enjoying.

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