Thursday 19 May 2011


Just a quick note to say that there will be a short break from posting here as I'm about to take my finals (3 years of hard work comes down to 75% of my degree mark in 7 days of exams... eek). I was hoping to schedule enough posts to take me through but I ran out of time to finish them. I should be back and free from the Oxford shackles in a few weeks :)

(For an explanation of my odd exam attire above, see sub fusc. Carnations are bought by your friends - white for your first exam, pink for the middle ones and red for the final. Folklore goes that this symbolises the blood (sweat and tears) shed during the exams.)

Also, a little recipe titbit - I've made a few batches of brownies recently using my Snickers Brownies recipe and substituting the snickers for 110g of either toasted pecans (with 40g white chocolate chunks) or pistachios (with 40g dark chocolate chunks). I keep them in the freezer for quick sweet snacks...

Saturday 14 May 2011

Sesame Wafers

In the Easter vac, Mum and I developed a bit of a thing for sesame seeds (and Cary Grant, but that's another story).

For breakfast, I'd spoon some greek yogurt into a bowl and sprinkle a chopped pear over the top. Then I'd pour a healthy dose of sesame seeds into our little frying toasting pan with some pecans and heat them till they started jumping out of the pan. Just before the seeds are ready you drizzle acacia honey over the pears. Then when you tip the hot seeds over the bowl they melt the honey and crisp into this delicious coating for the pears. 

Due to this little toasty seed obsession, I decided I had to find something to bake them into. A quick spin round Google led me to She Wears Many Hats's recipe for 'Benne Wafers'. They're an American thing, apparently local to the low country of South Carolina. 

I decided to make these one night when we were watching Dances with Wolves (as well as sesame seeds and Cary Grant, mum has a thing for Kevin Costner). Halfway through we stopped and I made them. Tray after tray came out before we started again - it's a big mix and you use so little each time.  

These little lacy wafers have a strong toasted sesame seed flavour and crunch in your mouth. They keep really well so we munched on the big batch for weeks. 

Sesame 'Benne' Wafers
(adapted from She Wears Many Hats)

6 tbsp sesame seeds (approx 55g)
160g light brown sugar
90g butter, room temp
1 egg, beaten
60g flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 190C/375F. Prepare two baking sheets with parchment. Spread the sesame seeds out in a dry frying pan. Toast over a medium-high heat until golden and starting to jump. Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in the egg. Sift the flour, salt and baking powder into the bowl and mix well till smooth. Add the vanilla and toasted seeds and stir in until consistent. Drop teaspoons of the mixture onto the parchment, leaving room for lots of spreading. Bake for 12-13 minutes until browned. Leave to cool for 2 minutes then remove to a wire rack. Repeat for the rest of the mixture. They keep really well in an airtight tin. 

(Makes about 50)

Saturday 7 May 2011

Self Frosting Cupcakes

We all know how comforting Nutella is. It's the perfect hard-at-work sweet sustenance. These cupcakes are a great way to dress up the teaspoon of Nutella that usually comes from the jar on a spoon or on toast. 

The first time I made these cupcakes I made them in my special gold foil cases. Nutella deserves special cases. Then I baked them and realised that in fact the beautiful buttery yellow of these cupcakes clashed with the gold. Fail.

The original recipe from Donna Hay calls for peanut butter to be swirled into the recipe so the next time I made them I tried mini versions with either Nutella, PB or a mixture. I think the best combination is  Nutella and a bigger size. 

I found these originally on a few different blogs (haven't got the exact links as I didn't use the recipes) and they had significantly reduced the butter - please don't do this, the butter is what makes the cake part delicious. 

Self-frosting Nutella Cupcakes
(adapted from Donna Hay's Modern Classics: Book 2)

135g plain flour
1/8 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
120g unsalted butter
75g caster sugar
2 eggs
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
8 tsp Nutella (or peanut butter)

Preheat your oven to 170C/325F. Line a muffin tin with 8 liners. Sift the flour, baking power and salt together into a bowl. Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add an egg and beat well, then repeat with the other egg, adding a little flour from the bowl if needed. Beat in the vanilla, then the flour mix. Divide the  mixture between the cases. Add a tsp of Nutella to each case then use a toothpick to swirl it into the batter. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean (from a non-Nutella patch). Leave to cool on a wire rack. 

(Makes 8)