Yelly Eats

Almond cookies!

I love baking traybake bakes because of the ease that they present.  You mix the batter and you spread them on a greased and prepared pans, pop them in the oven, wait for the appropriate time, et voila!  You have cake!

photo © @the_yukistar

However, that being said, I do love the care and attention that’s required when making cookies, or as the Brits call them, biscuits.  I love the drop cookies and the cookies that require a bit more care and precision and a cookie cutter.  It’s the care and attention that is involved in making each biscuit that counts.  Each piece is individual.

One of my favourite cookies to bake (and eat) are almond cookies.  These cookies are Chinese bakery staples and most of my Chinese friends have a happy childhood memory involving an almond cookie.  So when Alan found a recipe and we perfected the recipe and cookie production, it became a staple for us.

photo © @the_yukistar

Sure, it’s a little more complicated than mixing the batter and dolloping them on a cookie sheet, but it’s the process that makes it special.  Because every time you scoop the mixture, press the almond into the centre and brush egg wash on each cookie, you are putting a little piece of you in the cookie.  Too sentimental?  Okay, here’s the recipe instead!

Ingredients:

  • 125g unsalted butter
  • 170g caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 200g plain flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp almond extract
  • 150g ground almonds
  • 24 blanched almonds
  • 1 egg (beaten for brushing)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.  Cream together the butter, sugar and salt.  Then add the almond extract and egg, and mix well.  Slowly add the flour, the baking powder and ground almonds and make sure it is all combined.
  2. Line a couple of baking trays with baking paper and then divide the mixture into 24 equal sized balls.   I use a small ice cream scooper to the balls uniform.  Lay the balls out on the baking trays and use a round measuring spoon to press an indentation in the middle of the ball.  This will also flatten the ball into a cookie shape.  If you do not have a round measuring spoon, flatten the ball with your hand and indent with your thumb.  Place a blanched almond into the indentation of each cookie and then brush with egg.
  3. Place into the oven for 12-14 minutes or until the cookies are lightly golden.  Allow cookies to cool down for 10 minutes.  Reduce the oven to 150°C.
  4. Brush the cookies with more beaten egg.  Bake for 10-15 minutes or until they turn golden.  Allow to cool completely and store in an airtight container.
  5. This recipe makes approximately 24 cookies.  If you’re not making halal versions, you can also add about 1 generous tablespoon of Amaretto liqueur to make it even more almondy.  

Thank you to Yuki (she’s @the_yukistar on Instagram.  Have a look at her photos, they are blow-you-away amazing!) for the lovely photos of the almond cookies!  She made them look extra pretty!💖

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Yelly Eats

Blondies

I’ve always loved blondies but they’re not necessarily not something you see in most bakery stalls because it is more often overlookby it’s more popular cousin, the chocolate brownie.

This is my recipe for these gorgeous morsels.

Ingredients:

  • 225g good white chocolate, chopped
  • 125g butter, cubed
  • 4 large eggs
  • 300g caster sugar
  • 2 tsp vanila
  • 160g plain flour
  • 150g ground almonds
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 170ºC.
  2. In a heatproof bowl place the cubed butter, and the chopped white chocolate.  Place the bowl over slow boiling water, making sure that the water doesn’t touch the bottom of your bowl.  Allow the butter and chocolate to melt slowly, stirring it occasionally.  Once in a while, lift your bowl off the heat, rest on a towel and stir to help the chocolate to melt along with the butter.  This stops the butter-white chocolate mixture from getting too hot and the mixture won’t become grainy.  Once the white chocolate has completely melted, left the bowl from the heat and set aside to cool slightly.
  3. While the butter-white chocolate mixture is cooling, measure out the ground almonds and flour and mix with a balloon whisk to make sure they are well-combined.  Set aside.
  4. Beat the eggs and sugar until smooth, thick, moussey and a very pale yellow colour .  I use a free standing mixer and this usually takes about 10 minutes on medium speed.  It will take about 15-20 minutes if you’re doing this by hand (depending on your forearm muscle strength and endurance!).  Add the vanilla and mix for a few seconds to make sure the vanilla is completely incorporated.
  5. Add your almond-flour mixture in three parts, each time making sure everything is mixed thoroughly before adding more of the dry ingredients.
  6. Pour the batter into a tray bake tin foil or a rectangular pan (about 20×30 cm) that has been greased and lined with baking parchment. Bake for 35-40 minutes in the preheated oven (this varies because of how hot your oven can actually get), until the top becomes firm and shiny and when tested and a toothpick or skewer is inserted in the centre of the bake and comes out clean (sometimes with a few sticky crumbs sticking to it).  Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes (about 5 minutes during a cold winter!).  Once cool, gently lift from the pan and place on a cooling rack and allow the bake to get cold.
  7. Depending on how greedy you are, you can slice this into 18 to 24 squares.

Variations to flavours:

  • Raspberry and rose blondies – instead of the vanilla, add 3 tablespoons of rosewater to the eggs and sugar mixture (step 4). Wash your raspberries and dry thoroughly and roll them in flour.  The number of raspberries you add will be equal to how many blondie slices you want, i.e. for 24 slices, you add 24, etc.  Add 50g more of flour to your almond-flour mixture because the more fruit you want, the wetter the bake.  Bake for an extra 10 minutes, making sure you cover the top with foil when it browns too quickly.
  • Cardamom blondies – add 3 teaspoons of ground cardamom to the flour and almond mixture (step 3), instead of adding vanilla.

Let me know how you get on with the recipe or suggested variations and leave a comment please!

Yelly Eats

So I baked a cake!

I’ve always loved giving gifts.  I won’t usually settle for just a gift card (unless they ask for it specifically) because I like knowing that when the person rips open the wrapping paper and opens the box, the gift is something they know was made or purchased especially with them in mind.  I also love gift-wrapping presents.  I need to make the present look pretty, even if it’s just a present plonked into a gift bag – I have to have tissue wrapping in the gift bag!

Lately, I’ve taken to baking my gifts to friends.  I like to think my skill as a baker has moved forward and my bakes are delicious and decadent enough for people to feel special they received cake or pastry baked by me.

I baked a chocolate Guinness cake and cupcakes for a birthday celebration that we attended during the weekend.  It was a get-together we had planned with our Filipino friends ages ago to celebrate the July birthdays and the early August birthday.

I needed to test frosting colours to so I made extra cupcakes to try the colours out.  I was trying for a marbled effect but it didn’t quite work for the cupcakes so I’ll have to look at more YouTube videos and figure out a better technique for the particular effect I was going for.  It was a good thing my batch did 2 dozen cupcakes.  The leftover batter filled about 9 mini bundt pans but they stuck to the cake moulds so they stayed home.

Photo © Teddy Sardua

I iced 22 cupcakes (mostly because that was what fit in the box!).   With the disaster that were the rainbow marble cupcakes (they mostly looked very Rastafarian!) I tried for a fuschia-y pink shade but the first try turned out more lavender than pink (it kind of suited because some of the birthday celebrators went to Mayfield Lavender Fields on a day trip to take fabulous pictures).  I knew where I went wrong but daren’t add more food colouring because I didn’t want the frosting to taste too artificial!

Photo © Teddy Sardua

I was quite pleased with the way my large cake came out.  It was very detail-heavy because it had swirly roses, piping all around it and silver dragèe balls.  Once I finished icing the cake, I moved it to the box I was going to carry it in and OH MY GOODNESS!  It was quite a substantial weight.  I think I weighed over 2.5 kg!

Photo © @chic.wanders.in

I was pleased that my friends and Alan loved their cake.  They loved the flavours and the loved the cake enough to take photos and style the cake before they shot the photographs.   Thank you, thank you, thank you for posting your photos on Instagram.  I’m so…tickled pink (Sorry! It had to be said!)!

Photo © @chic.wanders.in

I might be on to a good thing!

*Thank you to @mutyyyaaa and @chic.wanders.in for letting me use their photos of the cakes on this blog post. Mucho appreciated guys! Love you!❤️

 

 

Yelly Eats

This cake happened today!

I bought a bowl of plums from the Friday Market for £1 last week with the intention of consuming them purely for my 5-a-day.  Usually the fruit that I get from that particular market stall is sweet and perfect (yes, really!) but surprisingly, these plums were very tart.  I tried eating the fruit but it was REALLY tart (bordering on acidic sourness).

Upside down plum cakeI have written a draft of the recipe for the plum cake.  But I need to work on it because the plums were still so tart even after laying them on a carpet of brown sugar.  I’ll have to tweak the recipe first and make it a few times to make sure it’s a recipe that works.  I promise to share it as soon as I’m satisfied.

Watch this space!

Yelly Eats

Chocolate crinkles

Over a week ago, I gave in to the urge to finally make chocolate crinkles.  It’s a popular cookie in the Philippines.  It’s rich, indulgent and fudgy.  It’s something that might just make you go mmmmm.  I approached the idea of making crinkles with a little trepidation.  I always worry that my memories of what things taste like in Manila is different from reality.  But I did manage to work up the courage to finally make crinkles!

Chocolate crinkleI’ve written a recipe that I’ve tweaked below and I know that it works.  I would love for y’all to make chocolate crinkles and let me know if the recipe works for you.

Ingredients:

  • 150g unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 280g caster sugar
  • 150ml vegetable oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 300g plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ salt
  • 150g icing sugar

Directions:

In a bowl, using a balloon whisk, mix the flour, salt and baking powder together and set aside. In a mixing bowl, combine the cocoa powder, sugar and oil.  To mix, I’ll use a free-standing mixer.

Chocolate mixtureWith a paddle attachment, on the lowest setting (just so that the cocoa powder doesn’t fly all over the place), start mixing the cocoa powder, sugar and oil for about 2 minutes.  Once the mixture forms a thick paste, increase the speed and mix for a further 2 minutes.  The mixture should turn shiny and smooth.  Add each egg individually and mix until the mixture is again shiny.  Once all the eggs are added, add the vanilla.

Chocolate and egg mixAdd the flour mixture and mix until well-incorporated and the mixture is smooth.

Chocolate and flour mixCover the mixture and chill in the fridge for at least 2½ hours (I initially only chilled it for 1½ hours and it seemed to be okay), the longer you chill it, the better.

Chocolate mixPreheat the oven to 175°C (350°F).  Line your baking sheets with parchment paper.  I like to use a small ice cream scoop or a 1 tablespoon measuring spoon.

Chocolate crinkle mixScoop a generous 1 tablespoon of the mixture and roll it into a ball.  Coat each ball with icing sugar and place on the lined sheet.

Crinkles in icing sugarBake for 10-12 minutes.  Once the cookies are baked, take them out of the oven and allow to cool on the sheets for about 5 minutes before transferring them onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Crinkles for bakingThe cookies have a recognisable cracked surface and that’s how you know it’s a chocolate crinkle!

Choccie crinkleThis recipe makes about 40 crinkles.

Yelly Eats

The power of the crinkle

I comfort eat.  Now I know psychologists and nutritionists and every healthcare professional reading this will be gasping and tutting and shaking their head right now.  Comfort eating is a terrible coping mechanism and will have far reaching consequences.  Ha!  How highfalluting and technical-sounding is that sentence, eh?  Mind you, I am very aware my comfort eating has allowed me to balloon and gain a whole child in terms of weight since I moved to the UK.

Apart from the comfort eating, I’ve been comfort cooking and comfort baking.  I’ve been trying to recreate in my kitchen the food that was readily available to me in the Philippines.  My favourite English proverb (which helps me justify my kitchen sessions) is: “Necessity  is the mother of invention.”  Mind you, the food that I produce in my kitchen aren’t necessarily my own inventions.  Sometimes it’s a result of me trawling the internet for tips on how to cook Filipino food.  Since Filipino food isn’t readily available to take away or to buy at the nearest convenience store, I’ve got to learn how to make things myself if I miss eating them.  I’m quite pleased that I’m able to make things that I would normally just go out and buy if I was in the Philippines.

I finally gave in to a long-standing baking to-do: making chocolate crinkles.  Chocolate crinkles will feature in most Filipinos’ top 10 list of their favourite cookies.  I’m not entirely certain whether it is a Filipino invention but it is certainly readily available in the Philippines, everywhere.  Say the phrase “chocolate crinkles” to a Filipino and you more often than not will hear them say “Awww chocolate crinkles!”

For those of you who don’t know, chocolate crinkles are soft, fudgy chocolate cookies that are slightly firm, almost crispy, on the outside and moist and cakey on the inside.  It’s covered with a generous coating of icing sugar outside and when you bite into the cookie, it’s rich and indulgent.

I’m going to share the recipe here once I’ve tried another test run, just to make sure that the recipe works properly.  Any taste testers available?

Chocolate crinkle

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Yelly Eats

Fruitcake oatmeal cookies

I was craving cookies.

I knew I had enough ingredients in the cupboard to whip up drop cookies.  I leafed through my cookbooks for inspiration and decided on oatmeal raisin cookies as the recipe from the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook was making my tummy growl in anticipation!  I started to get the ingredients together and found a bag with about with still a third of the mixed dried fruit and peel languishing in my baking supplies basket.  So instead of following the recipe in the cookbook, I improvised and put together what I call a cupboard cookie recipe – because you’re basically using ingredients you find in your cupboard!

Ingredients:

  • 135g unsalted butter, room temperature and softened
  • 80g soft brown sugar
  • 80g caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 190g plain flour
  • 80g oatmeal (I used wholegrain rolled oats, but quick cooking oats work too)
  • 1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
  • 110g of mixed dried fruit and peel
  • 70g ground almonds, optional

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C
  2. In a bowl, mix flour, oats, dried fruit, salt, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon and ground almonds (if using), until well-incorporated.
  3. Because my hands get tired really quickly, I now, more often than not use a mixer, but this can be done by hand (it’ll just take a lot of elbow power) first with a pastry blender (which I will always call a pastry cutter) and then with a balloon whisk.  Cream the butter and sugars until the mixture is smooth and a light brown colour.  Add the egg and the vanilla and mix until well-combined.
  4. Add the flour and dried fruit mixture to the sugar and butter mixture until combined and you can no longer see the flour.
  5. Drop batter, a heaping tablespoon at a time, onto a lined baking tray (Useful tip: if you’d like more uniform-sized cookies, use an ice-cream scooper.  I use a 45mm one.).  Make sure the cookies are evenly spaced.  I bake 6 cookies per tray.
  6. Bake in the preheated oven for 11-13 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to sit in the baking tray for about 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  7. Makes 24 cookies.

Fruitcake oatmeal cookies