Gin Cookie Cupcakes?

My simple, easy and totally delicious Gin Cookie Cupcakes are such a treat you might not want to share them with anyone.

Gin Cookie Cupcakes are light, crumbly yet moist cookie cases filled with delicious sweet & sour cherries and white chocolate. You can eat them cold or hot, almost naked with just a sprinkle of icing sugar. Or you can go full on and top it off with a swirl of white chocolate and violet ganache decorated in edible flowers.

A little secret…

I’m going to tell you a little secret about me. In my previous life I’m a trained mixologist. At Christmas I put this talent to good use and one of my favourite cocktails is an Aviation.

For those of you who have never head of Aviation cocktail let me explain and you can see how this beauty of a drink inspired me.

The Aviation cocktail is a classic made with gin, maraschino liqueur, crème de violette, and lemon juice. All sounded like an a perfect match made in heaven. To make it more decadent I am adding white chocolate.

 

Gin Cookie Cupcakes are very easy and reasonably quick. Best way is to watch my Deadpool Christmas Special and you will see for yourself how simple Gin Cookie Cupcakes are.I am sure as soon you try it once you will love it for life!

What Gin Cookie Cupcakes taste like?

Delicate bitterness of gin, sweetness of the cherries and white chocolate and subtle freshness of lemon zest. Already a winner! Now to put it into the practice!

Today in my recipe I will be adding my favourite Aviation Gin (pun not intended it really is my favourite). However if you are feeling generous and decide to share these definitely adult only treat with the kids you can leave the gin out and add a splash of vanilla!

 

Method.

Turn on the oven to …. and set aside clean and dry cupcake tin

Put in your mixer bowl

  • 200g sugar
  • 225g butter, soft, room temperature

Cream the above together in the mixer until light and fluffy.

Add

  • 2 eggs

and continue until mixed well.

In the meantime prepare

  • 120g grounded almonds
  • 320g plain flour
  • Couple of shots of your favorite gin
  • 3/4 tsp lemon zest

Add it all to the mixing bowl and incorporate well. Tip it onto a baking paper and roll a long about 2″ thick sausage. Put the Gin Cookie Cupcakes dough in the fridge. Rest it for a while (you can leave it for an hour or two or even overnight) until nice and firm and easier to cut.

The white chocolate and cherry filling.

When dough is resting prepare:

  • white chocolate buttons and
  • a can of sour cherries in compote

To make perfect caramelised cherries for the filling is easy. Put the cherries in to a pan and bring them to boil. Cook it slowly on low heat until the compote is reduced and the cherries are sticky and shiny.

You can watch my recipe movie ‘Baking with Aggy’ – ‘Deadpool Christmas Special’ for the step by step instructions.

Preheat your oven to 175C fan.

When you dough is set slice it to 12 discs of 3/4″ (just under 2cm) thick and 12 1/2” (around 1cm) discs and fill all the 12 cupcake wells in your cupcake pan with the thicker pieces. You don’t need to grease it or use any cases as the dough is already full of butter and will pop out easily.

Press is gently making sure the dough is well distributed and make small indentations for the filling.

Put some cherries in each one and top it with some chocolate buttons. Then take the thinner slices and press firmly around to seal the Gin cookie Cupcakes so the filling doesn’t run out.

If the dough is still cool to touch you can bake it straight away otherwise put in the fridge for 10-15 min.

When ready put it in the oven and bake Gin Cookie Cupcakes for 15-17 minutes or until golden.

If you can’t wait to try (I can imagine how your kitchen smells like now) just sprinkle with icing sugar but if you want to save them for later top it off with some white chocolate ganache!

Voila!

Bon Appetite!

 

I know you will enjoy Gin Cookie Cupcakes as much as I do!

Happy baking and until next time!!

Love,

Aggy xxx

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Pancake Day is almost upon us. Today I have for you super delicious Apple pancakes!!

Don’t worry if you a vegan or dairy free as you can easily make Apple pancakes suitable for yourself.

Crazy about (Apple) pancakes?

In our house pancakes come as a regular thing… weekends, during the week, doesn’t matter. As soon we think about pancakes there is more likely one or a dozen going to magically appear on our table… Even Zara can whip up her own batch and guess what – her signature are chocolate ones obviously!

We eat them sweet or savory adding various fillings depending on mood, weather, season of the year you get the idea.

I don’t think anyone ever can get bored of traditional lemon pancakes though and because we like variety I am saving it for Pancake Day next Tuesday.

 

Thick, chunky (apple) pancakes? Sounds intriguing?

Yesterday I have made some super tasty, super delicious Apple pancakes. 

Apple pancakes can be eaten topped or plain because the apples I have used are already sweet.

Well, I have to admit, yesterday I have made it extra naughty. I have topped it with agave syrup and cream brûlée ice cream. Because Apple pancakes contain fruit I counted it towards my 5 a day.

The apple slices inside were still warm and slightly crisp. I have used my all time favorite Gala apples as those are the ones that we always have in the house. However if you prefer it less sweet or have your own preference you can use pretty much any apple brand.

What do Apple pancake taste like?

Crunchy apples dipped in cinnamon sugar covered in delicious, melting in mouth batter.

The pancake mix keeps the apple rings from fully cooking and it gives Apple pancakes a tasty, warm bite. The apples are sweet and juicy and the soft warm pancakes literally melting in your mouth!!

An absolute must try if you ask me plus super simple.

Method.

Peel

  • 5 to 6 apples

Slice it into 3 to 4 rings each and core each ring. Drop the apple rings in cinnamon sugar. Set aside.

Prepare batter. Mix together gently:

  • 250ml milk (or coconut milk if making Apple pancakes VEGAN)
  • 150g plain flour
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar (optional)
  • dash vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda

Semi warm up a frying pan. I have use non stick pan with a tiny bit of coconut oil.  Depending on your pan and preferences you can as well use 1 calorie spray oil for super light Apple pancakes or fry it in a dash of sunflower or rapeseed oil.

Dip earlier prepared apple rings in batter and fry it for couple of minutes on each side or until golden brown.

Enjoy hot or cold.

Bon appétit!

 

Ps. What will you top your pancakes with this year?

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Yesterday we had our friend Nick over for lunch. As it was a last minute kind of thing, I quickly made some Cheese onion chutney soda bread to have with our lunch!

Cheese onion chutney soda bread

Cheese onion chutney soda bread

I haven’t made my Cheese onion chutney soda bread recipe for a little while. Mainly because I ran out of my organic home made onion chutney (its been so long, we nearly forgot how to make it!) , and secondly, I had almost forgotten how delicious it is. This time, I had to resort to a shop bought jar which comes in at a close second to my home made version – organic red onion chutney. We actually liked it so much, I have made another one today!

When I was little, I used to go through colds and flu more frequently than other kids. I always preferred home remedies, and often I was served onion syrup. One day, having bad cough as an adult and not able to shift it, I decided to try onion treatment from my childhood.

How Cheese onion chutney soda bread was made.

I had a lot of sugary onion left after a recipe I was using one day. As I don’t like wasting food, I thought I’d try making onion chutney. If it went wrong, it wouldn’t be a massive waste, as I had already extracted and used the syrup.

Playing around with the remaining onion, adding various seasoning and vinegar, I came up with a pretty tasty onion chutney (recipe to follow). I wasn’t sure why I hadn’t ever tried onion chutney in my baking – it was so tasty! At the time, we were making a lot of courgette soda bread. It is my favourite savoury bake, especially when these amazing vegetables are in season.

Soda bread, what is that?

I remember the day I tasted soda bread for the first time…

Years ago, when I first arrived in England, I was working in a pub, owned by an Irish chef, as a barmaid. New to the pub (and the country), the chef fed me all sorts of new stuff every day. One reason was to become familiar with the menu, and in case any of the customers asked. Another reason was to prove to me how good his cooking was! I was allowed to pick anything from the menu, and that day I had spotted a new dish, accompanied by soda bread! Being very curious what this type of bread was, I decided to try it immediately.

To my pleasant surprise, I fell in love with this new thing straight away and have never looked back. Now I make all sorts of flavours pretty often, besides it is a great side dish for any meal.

Cheese onion chutney soda bread is so simple to make that quite often Zara can make it herself. She still requires a bit of supervision when she is preparing the ingredients. However, even the least experienced baker will be able to make this, if you follow the instructions carefully. It literally takes five minutes to weigh, mix and put it in the oven.

Absolutely divine.

Cheese onion chutney soda bread tastes divine. If you never had this type of bread the texture will be hard to describe. So, I would wholeheartedly recommend you to make it and try it for yourself. Cheese onion chutney soda bread is a little sweet and savoury at the same time. Is moist inside and crunchy outside, and my favourite way to eat it is just plain covered in salty butter. Oh my I love my butter! Still solid, straight from the fridge so you can slice it like a cheese whilst the Cheese onion chutney soda bread is still hot!

Method.

Turn on the oven to 200C, 180C fan.

You can prepare the whole Cheese onion chutney soda bread recipe in one bowl –  minimising the cleaning afterwards!

Prepare in a bowl:

  • 400g sieved self rising flour
  • 50 – 80g of chunky oats
  • 2 tsp. of bicarbonate soda
  • 3 – 4 tbsp of red onion chutney
  • 150g of grated cheddar or gruyere (or any other strong, hard cheese)
  • 4 rounded tsp of dry dill

Mix well with a wooden spoon (or with your hands). Personally, I prefer to use a spoon when I am making it myself, it’s quicker and less messy. However, when Zara is helping, she likes to use her hands.

Cheese onion chutney soda bread

Add:

  • 200g kefir or buttermilk
  • 100g natural Greek yoghurt

Stir well but not too long. Only a few minutes maximum, or will become stodgy!

To bake Cheese onion chutney soda bread, I use my pizza stone. Firstly covered in baking parchment to avoid the dough from sticking.

Make a ball out of the dough, place on the stone (if you haven’t got stone, an ordinary baking tin will work too) and cut a deep cross on the top. Open it gently and allow to spread so it can rise evenly.

Cheese onion chutney soda bread

Bake for around 40 minutes on the parchment, and for further 20 minutes without to crisp up the bottom of your Cheese onion chutney soda bread.

Remove from the oven and leave on a cooling rack.

Voilà!

Bon appétit. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I do!

Aggy x

 

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Woke up this morning to an amazing white scene outside and started craving a slice of Christmas mincemeat sponge.

Christmas mincemeat sponge

I love snow, probably as much as I love cake. Especially because it reminds me of cold, snowy, Christmassy mornings when I was a kid. Every time when we had fresh snow, and usually in Poland snow was quite deep, we would go sledging. I was one of those lucky kids living next to a hill. In summer we called it Green Hill but obviously in winter it metamorphose into the best sledging course. Thinking about it now it was actually quite scary and super fast course about 150 metres long. Playing with all the kids racing we would spend there almost a whole day coming back knackered and hungry.

As soon we came home we either would have dinner or in most cases hot chocolate and slice of cake!

And because is almost Chrimas this was a perfect excuse to bake Christmas mincemeat sponge.

Christmas mincemeat sponge

 

Some might ask what mincemeat is?

I have never heard of mincemeat before coming to England. Apart from that one time when Rachel from Friends wanted to make British Christmas trifle-pie. Everyone remember this episode, right?

In the UK everyone knows what mincemeat is and all the stores sells at least a few different types. Mincemeat despite the name is a sweet mix of dried fruit soaked in alcohol. Mainly used in Christmas bakes like Mince pies but this time I have used it in Christmas mincemeat sponge recipe.

 

This particular recipe is probably more than 30 years old and belonged to Zara’s great grandma… or possibly ever her great great grandma. I found it in her little recipe box and one day decided to give it a go.

We love great grandmas Christmas mincemeat sponge so much we make it during the year as well as for Christmas.

 

Christmas mincemeat sponge is a quick, easy and very tasty treat even for those who have a limited baking repertoire.

What does it taste like?

The Christmas mincemeat sponge is not too sweet, bit tangy with characteristic mincemeat flavour. Light and delicious. With little bursts of juicy fruit surrounded by rich and moist sponge. So unlike the traditional Christmas cake which can be quite heave and stogy with strong aftertaste.

 

You can eat it plain…

Christmas mincemeat sponge

…or filled with Mincemeat cream cheese frosting (recipe to follow) and drizzled with white chocolate sauce to make it more festive.

 

 

Method.

You will need greased and flour small round cake tin 7 – 8″ or a pretty bundt tin. Set your oven to 175C, fan 160C.

Place in a mixer bowl:Christmas mincemeat sponge

  • 170g of butter or vegetable oil spread
  • 2 eggs
  • 110g soft dark sugar

Beat until well combined.

Add:

  • 1 jar of mince meat (around 400-450g)

Mix on slow to medium speed for couple of minutes but be careful not to overmix. Sieve and carefully fold in:

  • 225g self raising flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp mixed spice
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Scoop the mixture into the tin and sprinkle with some extra soft brown sugar if you wish for a nice crusty finish.

 

Place in the oven and bake until brown, approximately 50 minutes to 1 hour.

When ready remove from the tin. You can eat it warm.

If you decide to layer your Christmas mincemeat sponge with cream first let it completely cool down.

Enjoy with freshly sliced fruit as a dessert or Christmas afternoon cup of tea.

Bon appetite,

Aggy x

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Simple Cinnamon sugar.

One of my favourite spices is Cinnamon. Cinnamon is very versatile and I have used it many time in sweet and savoury dishes. Today is a quick note on how to make Cinnamon sugar. 

I always keep a box of Cinnamon sugar in the cupboard as it can be used with almost anything. From cheeky coffee in the morning, home made custard or use it in a (Aggy’s) cake recipe.

Cinnamon is a spice which is ground from the inner barks of trees in the Cinnamomum genus. It comes in two forms, as a powder and rolled chunks of bark. It has a characteristic aromatic sweet flavour. Uniquely spicy in a woody type of way, with a strong, warm, pleasant aftertaste slightly similar to ginger.

How to make good Cinnamon sugar?

To make my Cinnamon sugar I use very fine sugar but you can use a coarser type.

The amounts are approximate and you can adjust to your personal taste.

You will need:

  • 200g fine sugar, preferably caster
  • 4 – 6 hipped tea spoons of powder cinnamon

Simply mix together. Store in a air tight box or a container. Use within a few months.

 

Perfect for rolling the Chimney cakes in.

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Pearfect turnover, lazy pear and cream cheese puff pastry wrap.

We have all been in the situation where you need to bake something quick and have no idea what to make. We were sat on the sofa having a rare lazy day when we had that freshly baked craving, but didn’t want anything to time consuming. Having this feeling I have thought of a solution the Pearfect turnover.

Looking through the kitchen I found ready made puff pastry and bag of pears so quickly created this tasty bake.

Pearfect turnover

Pearfect turnover is ideal, whether it is…

… for a last minute dinner party and you need a quick desert.

… friends or family are coming over and you need something for afternoon tea.

… or it’s one of those lazy Sundays when it’s raining and nothing you can find tempts you. Only something freshly baked and hot from the oven will do.

So that’s how the Pearfect turnover was born.

 

Pearfect turnover that I came up with is the simplest, tastiest sweet treat ideal for any occasion. When you bite into the Pearfect turnover immediately can taste the juicy pear with flaky puff pastry covered in cream cheese. It isn’t overly sweeet but natural and fresh pear flavour makes it perfectly balanced. The pear will become soft and juicy which will complement the crunch of the puff pastry.

Minimum effort, maximum taste.

This Pearfect turnover really is the minimum amount of effort with maximum taste. I think baking can be cheating sometimes. It doesn’t have to be hours of preparation or following complicated recipes. If that isn’t you try this simple recipe and you can see how much fun baking could be.

This is exactly what we made a beautiful juicy pear wrapped in puff pastry straight from the oven. Enjoyed with some fresh double cream, this really is as simple as baking can get.

Pearfect turnover. A pear and cheese puff pastry wrap, easy and quick to bake.

 

Method

1 pack of ready rolled puff pastry

3 Pears

200g of soft cheese like Mascarpone or similar

3 tbsp. of dark soft brown sugar

some spare large grain sugar for the top, I have used Demerara

 

Pre heat the oven to temperature marked on your pack of pastry.*

Put the soft cheese in a bowl, beat until smooth. Add in the soft brown sugar to taste and mix until combined.

Peel the pears and cut into half’s, remove the seeds. Unwrap and unroll the readymade pastry and cut into 6 equal squares.

Divide the cream cheese and put into the middle of each square of the pastry. Gently press the pear half diagonally on the pastry, sprinkle with brown sugar.

Fold up the corners and pinch at each end to make a boat shape. Fold the corners across the pear, gently press to stick together like so:

Place in the oven and bake as directed on the pack or until golden brown.*

When baked remove and place on a cooling rack You can eat it hot straight from the oven with some fresh cream or leave to cool and enjoy later. They keep very well and you can even freeze them for another day (if there is any leftover).

The sweetness from the cream cheese and baked pear go perfectly and the flakey puff pastry really makes this a tasty treat for any occasion.

If you have no pears you can swap them for apples, peaches, plums or any other ‘firm’ fruit.

 

Keep an eye out for more quick and tasty treats to enjoy.

 

*I haven’t been specific with temperature and baking time as the pastry will vary slightly from brand to brand.

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Very berry cookie dough cake

Very berry cookie dough cake

Last summer we spend an amazing few weeks in Poland. The weather was outstanding, almost every day over 30C and the gorgeous weather meant there was plenty of juicy and delicious fruits to be picked.

Originally Very berry cookie dough cake was my mums recipe that she made over and over again for us when we visited. She made it with apples and cherries but we adapted it slightly and came up with this Very berry cookie dough cake version.

Very berry cookie dough cake

The Very berry cookie dough cake is a fresh, quick and easy reminder of those long hot summery days. It taste perfect when eaten warm with ice cream or cold even on its own!

The base.

For the Very berry cookie dough cake base you will need:

  • 400g plain flour
  • 4 organic egg yolks
  • 200g sugar
  • 250g cold, unsalted butter
  • dash of vanilla
  • 2 tsp baking powder

Sieve the flour. Chop the butter in to small cubes and place all the of the ingredients in a food processor. If you haven’t got a food processor you can ‘rub’ it with your fingers. It suppose to make a loose crumble like texture. Put a side.

Meringue.

In the meantime prepare:

  • 4 egg whites
  • pinch of salt
  • 100g brown sugar

Whisk the egg whites with salt until stiff. Slowly add sugar and set aside.

Fruit mix.

Very berry cookie dough cake

You will need :

  • 1200g – 1500g fresh or frozen mix berries*
  • 4-5 tbls of corn flour depending on type of fruit you use
  • couple of spoons of sugar to your taste*

*I have used frozen mix of summer berries (red currants, black currants, strawberries and raspberries) with some extra frozen strawberries which allowed me to skip the sugar. We prefer our fruit to be slightly sour in taste especially when the cake and meringue are quite sweet. I have also added two crunchy apples, chopped to small pieces for the texture but again you can leave it out.

Mix the fruit with corn flour (and sugar) so it is coated evenly.

Very berry cookie dough cake

Warm the oven to 180C or 160C fan.

TOP TIP. First line a 10″ baking tin with tin foil making sure it overhangs the tin (this is to help to remove the cake later). Then using one, large piece of baking paper place it on top and press it into the corners again making sure it overhangs slightly.

Assembling the layers for Very berry cookie dough cake.

Depending if you are using fresh or frozen fruit please follow step 1 or step 2!

  1. Fresh fruit baking.

Sprinkle evenly 3/4 of the crumble mix in the baking tin. Gently cover with the fruit and then spread the meringue. Crumble the remaining mix on the top.

Bake for 45-50 minutes till golden brown.

  1. Frozen fruit baking.

Sprinkle evenly 3/4 of the crumble mix in the baking tin. Gently cover with the fruit and place it in the oven. Bake it for 25 minutes. Take it out and quickly top it up with the meringue and crumble the remaining mix on the top.

Bake it for 50-60 minutes till golden brown.

Very berry cookie dough cake

 

You can enjoy a slice or two straight from the oven but cool completely before removing from the tin.

I hope you like it as much as we do!!

Aggy, Andy & Zara

xxx

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Lemon, almond and poppy seeds roulade

Lemon almond and poppy seed roulade recipe

So who watched the ‘Great British Bake Off’ last week? I think we will be trying our hands at the show stopper as it looked amazing!

Lemon almond and poppy seed roulade Here at Cotswolds Finest Cakes HQ not only do we have a passion for outstanding sculpted, gravity defying and wedding cakes; we also love baking breads, preparing desserts making the ultimate sweet treats. In our new blog we would like to share our favorite recipes with you all so you too can make and bake the most delicious desserts for you and you friends and family.Lemon almond and poppy seed roulade and our litte modelAll the recipes will be varying in skill level but with good planning and attention to detail there should be no recipe that is too difficult for the home baker!

Lemon almond and poppy seed roulade recipe

All the ingredients we use are things that are either found at home already or are easily available from your local store.

So, get your aprons on, the oven fired up, zero the scales and let’s get baking.

First recipe we would like you to try is our amazing Lemon, almond and poppy seed roulade with delicious cream cheese filling. This really is a very moreish dessert which all the family can get involved in making and certainly enjoy eating! The only down side to this dessert is that it’s so easy to make and so delicious – you may find yourself making it over and over again!

(more…)

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