Chocolate Orange Yoghurt Muffins.

These Chocolate Orange Yoghurt Muffins were baked from an adapted Mary Berry recipe.

I get itchy hands when I haven’t baked for a few days.  It’s been a mad few days in SmartCookieSam land.  I had a really busy week doing a teaching assignment in a nursery, then that very weekend I went down with a chest infection. Before I started feeling really rough, I did manage to bake my son’s 16th birthday cake.  After that, it all went downhill.  I had three days in bed either coughing my guts up or dozing off to sleep.  I had to cancel two days pre-booked supply work in schools I go to regularly.  I only worked last Friday in the end and felt completely useless. Baking was the last thing on my mind, in fact it was even a struggle to muster up the energy to make myself a cup of tea!

By yesterday, though, apart from the odd coughing fit I have got back to my normal self.  I’m still feeling very tired and have been trying to take it easy but I really wanted to bake something quick and simple. To me, muffins fit the bill there, they take no time at all to make and don’t need much mixing. You just throw all the ingredients together and hey presto in about half an hour you have a gorgeous smell wafting out of your kitchen.

I chose to adapt a Mary Berry muffin recipe which is in her Cookery Course book.  Her original recipe is for Blueberry Muffins, which I love but I wanted to use chocolate chunks in mine.  I grated some orange zest and used a pot of natural yoghurt, as well as 5 tablespoonfuls of milk.  These muffins are also baked using melted butter, instead of oil. As for muffin cases, I used brown tulip shaped ones but it really doesn’t matter what you use.

This is how the muffins were made: first I beat two large eggs together, then added caster sugar, milk, natural yoghurt, vanilla extract and the grated orange zest to a large bowl.  All of these were stirred up gently so they were just combined, not beaten.  To this, I sifted in self raising flour and baking powder.  This needed to be folded into the wet mixture, and then finally in went a whole packet of dark chocolate chunks.  The batter was then divided equally among 12 muffin cases and put into a pre-heated oven.  The muffins came out well risen after about 25 minutes baking time with a wonderful aroma permeating the whole of the house.  I put them onto a wire rack and let them cool down.

It was gorgeous BBQ weather yesterday and not really the right time for eating warm muffins straight from the oven.  To be honest, it was the last thing I wanted to eat, even though I could eat cake all day and every day normally! The muffins ended up in a box and ready to go into the freezer for a day when cake would hit the spot.  I forgot to put them in the freezer and found hubby eating one when he came back in from work. He said they were lovely as they weren’t too overpoweringly sweet like you can find with some shop bought muffins.

Chocolate Muffins of any sort go down well with all my family.
I love using tulip muffin cases, these were an Ebay find I think.

Happy Baking.

Love Sam xx

Celebrating Mother’s Day with Sugar and Crumbs’ Natural Flavoured Cocoa Powders and Icing Sugars.

I’m always up for trying out new baking products, especially those which add an extra dimension or an extra special something to my bakes.

 Just recently I have discovered Sugar and Crumbs who make a range of natural cocoa powders and icing sugars to enhance your bakes and to turn them into something really special.  Not only this but they also sell a great range of crumbs and sprinkles to finish off the top of your cakes with a pretty touch.  Sugar and Crumbs sell their products online through their own website but they also have a really useful local stockist search facility on their website.  If you type in your postcode it comes up with who stocks the Sugar and Crumbs products nearby.  As I live in North Yorkshire I was pleased to see that Sugarcraft Supplies in Garforth sells them!  I know where I’ll be heading on my next day off from work!

I belong to to the Clandestine Cake Club and a few of my cakey friends had bought Sugar and Crumbs products to try out in their cakes from a stand at The Cake and Bake Show last year. They were absolutely delighted with them and I was intrigued to try the products out for myself.

From coconut to lime and from Black Forest to Cherry Bakewell there is a flavour to suit everyone’s taste buds.  I even noticed there is a chilli flavoured cocoa powder on the website which I would love to try out in the future! Though what I do wish to see is a mint flavour cocoa powder and icing sugar as that is my overall favourite and I would buy it by the shedload!

So when Sugar and Crumbs set me a challenge to bake with a goodie bag of their cocoa powder and icing sugars I jumped at the chance.  Mother’s Day is coming up and what better occasion than to bake a cake or something delicious for your mum?  I’m a mum of two teenagers myself but I love baking cakes for my own mum. She came to visit me when it was half term so I thought it was a great excuse to get out the cake tins and come up with some treats to share for Mother’s Day.

Sugar and Crumbs offered me a choice of cocoa powders and icing sugars from their wide variety of flavours and extensive range.  I chose to go with the Chocolate Orange Natural Flavoured Cocoa Powder which was accompanied by two different icing sugars.  One was the Jaffa Twist Natural Flavoured Cocoa Icing Sugar and the other was the Orange Zest Natural Flavoured Icing Sugar which all came in the most gorgeous pink or white resealable pouches. So pretty, just made me want to open it straightaway and get baking!   I was very impressed with the packaging and I felt you got a lot in a packet,  especially with the cocoa powder as it would last for a couple or several bakes depending on what you were making.

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My pretty goodie bag which came from Sugar and Crumbs. All beautifully packaged in a pink parcel!
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The Sugar and Crumbs products I was sent to try out. From left to right: a packet of orange natural icing sugar, a bag of chocolate orange cocoa powder and last but not least, a bag of chocolate orange flavoured icing sugars. Designed to compliment one another. All packages are easily identifiable in their pink or white colour schemes with colour coded flavour stickers so you know instantly what flavour you have.

Those of you that read my SmartCookieSam blog regularly will know that I’m addicted to baking bundts and have started collecting Nordicware bundt pans.  So my Mother’s Day bake just HAD to include a bundt cake somewhere. I adapted the recipe from the latest Hummingbird Bakery recipe book which is just out called Life Is Sweet.  On page there is a recipe for the Tunnel of Fudge Bundt Cake which I turned into a Jaffa Orange Cake instead.  Not only this but I wanted to see what else I could create with my big bag of cocoa powder and hit upon the idea of baking some chocolate orange cookies at the same time.

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Instead of the plain cocoa powder needed in the recipe I subsituted the same amount of Sugar and Crumbs’ Natural Flavoured Jaffa Orange Cocoa powder. I also chopped up a large bar of orange infused plain chocolate bought in Marks and Spencer the day before to give the cake it’s huge chocolate orange hit.

The smell coming from my oven was just so enticing.  I chose to bake the cake in my Heritage Bundt pan which always produces excellent results so I thought I would try and see how the Sugar and Crumbs products worked when baked in a bundt!

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The cake batter also needed some icing sugar added to it to give it a delicious fudgy texture. Instead of plain icing sugar, the Sugar and Crumbs orange zest icing sugar went into the mix to give it an even better zesty flavour.
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The finished Jaffa Orange Bundt ready and waiting to be iced.
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The view from the top!

Meanwhile I attempted to bake some cookies using some more of the Jaffa Orange Cocoa Powder.  I adapted a recipe from a trusty cookie book I have had for a few years now, called The Genuine American Cookie and Muffin Book.  In this book there is a recipe for double chocolate cookies.  This gave me a great idea to adapt the recipe using the cocoa powder and also to sprinkle some Orange Zest natural icing sugar on top of the cookies for an extra orangey hit.  The batch baked two dozen mouthwatering cookies to complement the Jaffa Orange Bundt Cake.

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Not a very good photo of the Chocolate Orange cookies but I assure you they tasted divine!

Meanwhile I had to finish off the bundt.  This was done by creating a chocolate glace to adorn the top of the cake.  I used the chocolate orange icing sugar accompanied with some sugar and mixed it all together with a little bit of butter to form a paste.  This was then drizzled carefully in the grooves on the cake.  Before it had chance to set I sprinkled on cut up pieces of mini Jaffa Cakes and then some whole ones on top.  I used Marks and Spencers’ own ones which are retangular, not round.

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Sugar and Crumbs’ chocolate orange flavoured icing sugar ready to be turned into the glaze for the bundt cake.
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The chocolate orange glaze.
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Sneaky early Mother’s Day treats all round- some delicious Chocolate Orange cookies.
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The finished Jaffa Orange Bundt as seen from the top.
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The bundt as seen from the side. As with the cookies I put some of the natural orange flavoured icing sugar into my dredger and sprinkled some on top of the cake.

The extra flavour that the Sugar and Crumbs cocoa powder and icing sugars added to my bakes was phenomenal.  My whole family, including my mum said you could definitely taste the orange in the cake and the cookies.  We had a small slice of cake and a cookie each. They tasted absolutely delicious.  If there is cake around in my house it always disappears like lightning so I chose to take the rest into one of the schools I teach at to share out with the staff.  I hope they liked their treats!

After my Mother’s Day baking session I was pleased I still had most of one of the icing sugars left to use up and also a small amount of Jaffa Orange cocoa powder.  I ran out of time to bake more last Sunday but have earmarked  a couple of the recipes featured on the Sugar and Crumbs website.  There are numerous useful recipes including a mouthwatering sounding brownie recipe.  I am definitely going to try that one out.  There are also other recipes for fudge and for meringues amongst lots of others though I know that my mum would love a box of homemade fudge!

Here is a link to the Recipe section of the website:

http://www.sugarandcrumbs.co.uk/recipes/

So can I recommend the Sugar and Crumbs products to other bakers?  Yes I can and I can’t wait to try out the other varieties as and when my busy day job allows!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Chocolate Orange Biscuits From Delia’s Cakes.

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Even though the title of Delia Smith’s book is called Delia’s Cakes, it also includes recipes for lots of different biscuits and cookies.  I love baking biscuits (and stuffing them down my gob as fast as I bake them too!).  So I had loads of recipes I wanted to choose from to bake for, for the Biscuits chapter as part of my monthly Cooking The Books Challenge.

But, the Chocolate Orange biscuits stood out for me in the end.  It was the recipe introduction that did it for me.  Delia says “If you like chocolate and orange as a combination, then forget Jaffa Cakes. These are in a completely different class,”  How could you forget Jaffa Cakes?  All my family love them, especially my fourteen year old son.  I love Terry’s Chocolate Oranges too, so it’s a win win combination.  I just had to bake these even though they weren’t going to be eaten by us, they were off down to the neighbouring village’s Spring Festival to be served in the cafe with the coffee and teas in the school!  I hoped temptation wouldn’t get the better of me!

A week last  Saturday, the afternoon was beautiful and sunny.  My children had gone off into Leeds with friends and my mum had just arrived for the weekend as it was also my son’s birthday.  My mum offered to help me in the kitchen.  We set to with our baking and enjoyed our relaxing afternoon.

First I had to chop up a 100g bar of plain chocolate into small chunks.  Delia says to use chopped dark chocolate but I suppose chocolate chips would be fine.  After that I grated the zest of two oranges into a small bowl and squeezed one half of one of the oranges as I needed a tablespoonful of orange juice to add to the mixture.

After that I started on the actual biscuits themselves.  I beat spreadable butter and caster sugar together until it became light and creamy, followed by flour and some baking powder.  The mixture didn’t need an egg to combine it together as the fluid came from the orange juice. This gave it a nice smell and I was tempted to stick my finger in the mix and lick some dough.  I had to restrain myself though.

Once the dough had come together it had to be rolled out.  I find this difficult with mixtures containing fruit and chocolate as the cutter edge always seems to be where there’s a giant sultana or chocolate piece that won’t cut.  You end up with jagged lumps.  After managing to get 2 dozen cookies out of the dough I was pleased and they were put on the baking trays ready to be baked.

After the cookies came out the oven they went onto my cooling rack once I’d given them 5 minutes resting time on the oven tray.  The heavenly aroma was just far too tempting.  But I knew they weren’t for us!

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The chocolate orange cookies all ready and packed in a plastic box to take down to the Spring Festival.

Once they were cooled down, my mum put the cookies into a spare box for me.  We left them overnight ready for the Spring Festival the following day.  Unfortunately, my greedy son stole two cookies from the box.  He asked if he could have one on the Sunday morning.  I said no as they were for the Spring Festival but he helped himself anyway when I went upstairs.  He thinks I can’t count and I wouldn’t miss them.  I went ballistic!  Thank heavens they hadn’t been for a special order or anything.

I’m not sure how well the cookies sold at the cafe in the Spring Festival.  When my mum and I popped in for a cup of tea and cake in the afternoon there were still loads of cakes and biscuits left.  I didn’t taste one but they did look fine to me.  I will definitely bake them again.

Happy baking!

Love Sam xx