Mango Madness

Forget the nightlife, the arts scene, the diverse culture and the huge number of networking opportunities for freelancers like me. One of the things I really missed during my six month absence from Berlin was the Turkish Market. This takes place every Tuesday and Friday on Maybachufer, beside the Landwehrkanal, and is basically the BEST place to buy fruit and veg.

Each week I come home with bags and bags of fresh herbs,cheap spices, and loads of ripe fruit and vegetables. Some weeks are better than others: a couple of weeks ago I picked up 4 kilos of limes for €3 (about £2.15). This week I grabbed 10 ripe and juicy mangoes for just €2 (£1.43): a steal, even when you take into account that they’re slightly beyond their best.

So what’s a girl to do with 10 mangoes that probably won’t last ’til tomorrow? Well, here’s what I did. All of these recipes are small batch, because only two of us live in this house and there’s only so much we can eat. Who needs 5 jars of chutney and a massive great cake? Not us. You can scale these recipes up if you fancy it.

Spicy Mango Chutney

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Makes one 400g jar

1 tbsp grated ginger
2 cloves of garlic
250ml vinegar
125g sugar
2 x ripe mangoes, chopped
1 x medium onion, diced
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp brown mustard seeds
1/2 tsp onion seeds

Put about an inch of water in the bottom of your pan. Add the sugar and the vinegar, and heat until the sugar is dissolved. Chuck everything else in and give it a good stir. Simmer for about 45 minutes. Keep an eye on it, stirring frequently. If it starts to dry out add another splash of water. You’ll know when it’s done, cos it will look like chutney! Spoon into a sterilised jar.

You can serve it with samosas, poppadoms, or on the side with your next roast chicken.

Mini Mango Loaf Cakes

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Makes 5 wee loafs

125g flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 tsp cinnamon
75g sugar
50ml oil
1x egg
1 tsp lime juice
1 x ripe mango
Half a handful of raisins (optional)
Half a handful of mixed nuts, chopped (optional)

Pre-heat the oven to 175C, and mix all of the dry ingredients together in a big bowl. Chop your mango and blast it through the food processor until it’s turned to pulp. Beat the eggs with the oil and add it to the dry mixture, along with the mango. Mix it into a batter: if it’s a bit dry, add a splash of water until you get a nice battery consistency. Throw in your nuts and raisins. Pour the mixture into your lined loaf tins. Bake them for about half an hour-forty minutes, until a wooden toothpick comes out clean.

These bad boys are moist and delicious. They’re also about 284 calories each, so save them for cheat day if you’re on a low cal diet. If not, fire them in your gob! 🙂

Mango Unchained!

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Makes about 1l of sauce

My boyfriend suggested the name for this mango and jalapeno hot sauce and I thought it was funny so I rolled with it. I’m not going to reinvent the wheel here: I adapted this recipe from Food For My Family. I just used jalapenos instead of habaneros because that’s what I had in the fridge: that’s basically the only substitution. I used the seeds from two of them, because I like to live dangerously. I also didn’t bother squeezing it through muslin cos I like my sauce a bit chunky: I just went through it with a hand blender. If you find the sauce is a bit thick at the end (mine was more like soup) just top your bottle up with boiling water and give it a good shake until you reach the consistency you desire.

This sauce is absolutely fantastic: it’s tangy, light, and basically tastes like summer in a bottle. I can’t wait to drizzle it over grilled meats, add it to burgers, and pep up my salsas with it.

As for the rest of them…

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You may have noticed that only accounts for six mangoes. As for the other four… one was just too far gone so had to go in the bin. The other three, I froze. I’ll probably blitz them up with a dash of pineapple juice or coconut water for a quick sorbet.

If you want to freeze chunks of mango (or any other fruit), lie them flat on a baking sheet making sure they’re not touching. Stick the whole shebang in the freezer. Once they’re frozen solid, you can take them off the sheet and move them to a freezer bag. This stops the juice on the cut-side of the fruit from freezing together, and means you have nice manageable chunks of fruit instead of a brick.

This Sh– is Bananas

B-A-N-A-N-A-S!


No? Ok.

Anyway, I’ve been on a wee bit of a health kick since January. Instead of following a fad diet like I usually do, this time I’ve decided to try something pretty darn revolutionary. I’m eating healthy food (aka more fruit and veg, less processed stuff) and I’ve cut out alcohol. I’ve also started running.

At first I thought I wouldn’t lose any weight on this regime. I thought if it was this simple, why would diets like Atkins exist? But after dropping 3 and a half kilos and 5cm off my waist and bust in a matter of weeks, I’m starting to think there might be something to this.

Over the past month or so I’ve realised that bananas are basically the best thing ever.Not only are they a tasty fruit you can munch on the go, they’re also perfect for days when you fancy eating something unhealthy. Ripe bananas are basically my best friends now. So if you’re eating clean and fancy some low calorie alternatives to high calorie food, look no further my friends!

Yep. This is a round up of my favourite one (or two) ingredient banana recipes.

Banana Ice Cream

Step one: Chop up a banana and freeze it.

Step two: Wait until it’s frozen

Step three: Blend it!

Step four: Enjoy your ice cream.

The best thing about this (apart from the fact that it’s totally vegan) is that you can customise it by adding other flavours. Blend in some frozen strawbs, or some peanut butter, or stir in some chocolate chips at the end. It’s so creamy and sweet, just like proper ice cream.

Full recipe: Tree Hugger

Banana Pancakes

Coimbra 014 (2)
Step one
: Mash up a banana

Step two: Whisk in an egg

Step three: Drop a tablespoon full of mixture into a greased pan. Make the pancakes small cos they’re a bitch to flip.

Step four: Enjoy a stack of pancakes like a true American!

These pancakes are rich, sweet, light and fluffy. If you can get the fact that you’re basically eating a banana omelette out of your head, they’re pretty much the perfect breakfast.

Full recipe:  Top with Cinnamon

Banana Cookies

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Step one: Pre-heat your oven to 180 C

Step two: Mash up a banana

Step three: Add 100g of porridge oats (and any extras like cinnamon, raisins, nuts, chocolate chips, etc)

Step three: Form into roughly 16 blob shapes, flattening them onto a greased baking tray.

Step four: Bake them for 15 minutes

Step five: burn your mouth because you’re too impatient to let them cool 🙁

These are so quick and easy to throw together, and so tasty. Usually I bake up a batch and James and I will just munch our way through a whole plate of them over a cup of coffee for him and a green tea for me. The texture is slightly different from a traditional cookie, but I think they’re lovely jubbly. It’s a shame they never seem to last… maybe I’ll double the quantities next time…

Full Recipe: The Burlap Bag

Banana Parfait

AKA lazy Jemma breakfast.

Step one: Chop up a banana and stick it in a big wine glass

Step two: Plop some Greek yoghurt on top

Step three: Slice a strawberry on top if you’re feeling decadent.

Seriously, this is such a good way to set yourself up for the day. It’s creamy and yummy enough to basically be comfort food, and it’s healthier than buying those Greek yoghurts that have jammy compote lurking around at the bottom. At least that’s what I like to tell myself.

RECIPE: Lisa Faulkner’s Boursin Encrusted Salmon

Celebrities these days. They win one series of Celebrity Masterchef and they think they can cook!

The thing is, Lisa Faulkner obviously can cook, and she has the recipe book to prove it. This spring she teamed up with one of my favourite ever spready cheese brands, Boursin, to throw together a few recipes involving their wonderful product.

When Boursin offered to send me a few sample packages of their delicious cheeses so that I could have a bash at Lisa’s recipes, of course I said yes. There were lots of tasty recipes to choose from: the salt and black pepper hot cakes caught my eye, as did the tomato, onion, chive and leek tart, but as soon as I laid eyes on the baked salmon recipe I knew I’d have to try it.

Served with tatties, aubergine, and a garden salad
Served with tatties, aubergine, and a garden salad

So the verdict? It was really good! The Boursin based sauce was creamy and tangy, and went extremely well with the salmon. I’d never tried the tomato, onion and chive Boursin before (despite eating more than my fair share of the garlic and herb one at various New Year and Christmas parties during my youth) and I really really liked it. Personally speaking I’d probably add a wee bit more cheese to the topping, but you know me and my cheese!

I tend to deviate from recipes a lot, so instead of putting fennel and tomatoes under the salmon to steam it, instead I sloshed in a half glass of that Pedro Jiminez white wine you can get in Lidl for about four quid a bottle. I’m a big fan of cooking with wine, dontchaknow. I grilled some aubergines and cherry toms, too, and served the whole mess up with some boiled potatoes.

The original recipe is only 379 calories (that’s without any sides, of course) so it would be a good dinner if you’re on the 5:2 diet.

Details of the recipe (and Lisa’s other fab creations) can be found over on Boursin’s website.

RECIPE: Quick, Easy, Vegan Chickpea Curry

I’ve got some pretty exciting news: James and I have officially moved in together!

It’s true that we have been unofficially living together as house sitters for a year or so, but as of Monday we’ve been renting our first flat together. It’s in the town of Alcala de Guadaira, 15km south of Seville. There’s not much information about the town online, so we’re enjoying the feeling of exploring a new place without the help of wikitravel or Time Out.

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Just after we moved in, I whipped up this chickpea curry as a light lunch. We were surprised at how good it tasted for minimal effort, considering how much of a pain in the bum it was to make a curry using the recipe in the Takeaway Secrets book.

You know what? I love this chickpea curry on a crusty bread roll. It reminds me of a really good veggie burger. As James pointed out, it’s vegan too.

That got me thinking that this is the perfect summer barbecue recipe to have on hand if you’ve invited a troupe of vegetarians or vegans to your backyard soiree. Or indeed, if you’re a veggie/vegan yourself and want something quick and hearty for tea. If you just want to cut down your meat intake. Or if you’re hungry and want something tasty to put in your face.

It takes less than 15 minutes to whip up, and it’s a lot tastier than a barbecued Quorn sausage. I say that as an ex vegetarian myself.

RECIPE: Quick, Easy, Vegan Chickpea Curry
Recipe Type: Lunch
Cuisine: Indian
Author: Jemma Porter
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 3
Quick easy vegan curry. Perfect for barbeque season, as it tastes great on a roll as a veggie burger alternative.
Ingredients
  • 3 x cloves of garlic
  • 1 x handful of diced green pepper
  • 1/2 a small white onion, diced
  • 1 x jar of chickpeas
  • 1 tsp medium curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
  • Enough passata to coat
  • 1 x sprinkle Maldon sea salt
Instructions
  1. Chop the garlic up finely and fry with the onions and peppers for a few minutes, until the pepper and onion soften
  2. Add the chickpeas and stir. Cook for another few minutes.
  3. Sprinkle in the chilli and curry powder, stir to coat everything evenly
  4. Squeeze in the passata. You want to make sure that everything is coated with tomato, but that there’s not too much spare sauce.
  5. Simmer and sprinkle in some Maldon salt before serving

I know it’s a bit of a cheat using curry powder, but life’s too short to go whipping out the ground coriander and turmeric. Especially when you could be outside soaking up the sunshine: god knows we Brits don’t get enough of it!

5:2 Diet Recipe :: Low Cal Garlic & Mushroom Chicken

Earlier this year I tried out the 5:2 diet for around  a month, and although it took me a while to find my feet, by week three I felt like I was ready to try my hand at coming up with my own low calorie 5:2 diet recipe.

Quick note: I cut the chicken breasts off the chicken myself, so they were quite small. Remember to weigh your breasts (heh heh heh) before cooking this to make sure the calorie count is accurate.

It’s really not the most photogenic of recipes, so I used a public domain pic. Thanks Jon Sullivan, whoever you may be

This 5:2 diet recipe is calculated to make enough to serve two hungry fasters, so don’t balk at the calorie count! Obviously if you’re just cooking for one you would halve the ingredients, or double it if you’re cooking for four people, etc. It should work out at around 248 cals per portion.

5:2 Diet Recipe :: Low Cal Garlic & Mushroom Chicken
Recipe Type: Main
Cuisine: Diet
Author: Jemma Porter
Serves: 2
Low calorie chicken recipe, perfect if you’re on 5:2 or weight watchers or just fancy a light dinner.
Ingredients
  • 200g chicken breast (308 calories)
  • 200g low fat cottage cheese (160 calories)
  • 100g mushrooms (13 calories)
  • 4 cloves garlic (16 calories)
Instructions
  1. Slice your mushrooms thinly, and toss them into a frying pan with two crushed cloves of garlic. Give them a stir and let them sweat a bit.
  2. Slice your chicken into strips or chunks, whatever you like.
  3. Once your mushrooms are cooked, take them out of the pan and pop them on a plate.
  4. Give the pan a quick wipe and stick your chicken in there. Fry for a few minutes until crisp, caramelised, and golden. Turn over and cook the other side.
  5. Give it a minute then throw the mushrooms back in, as well as the cottage cheese.
  6. Give it a stir. Add the other two cloves of garlic. Cook for a couple of minutes.
  7. Test to see if the chicken’s cooked through. If it is, stick it on a plate.

I decided to be daring and serve mine with a hearty 50 calorie portion of roast cauliflower. With the 123 calorie soup I had for lunch, I managed to keep hunger pangs at bay for only 421 calories all day.

What’s your favourite 5:2 diet recipe? 

RECIPE :: Prune & Rosemary Bread

When we first moved out to France and started working for ourselves properly, we went a bit mad. We decided to fly in the face of convention: why not take a day off midweek since everything’s closed on Sunday anyway? Why not get up at 10am and work ’til 6 instead of the yucky 9-5?

After a long 8 months of late nights, working weekends, and frantic catch ups, we decided that maybe there is something to be said about getting up first thing in the morning and finishing in the early evening. There’s something great about looking forward to Friday, and something fabulous about a relaxing Sunday.

The best part about it is taking a long walk in the country with the dog, and coming home for spot of baking. I love whipping up my own batches of bread, but I find the kneading part so tedious. That’s what boyfriends were made for though, eh? 😉

I had some prunes d’agen in the cupboard that needed using. I know what you’re thinking, “yuck prunes! That’s what old ladies eat!” but they’re actually quite the rage in France. You often find them chopped into salads or sprinkled into creamy sauces.

I decided to try putting them into my loaf of bread, along with some rosemary from the big bush in the garden. Obviously if you’re trying this at home you could use whatever dried fruit and herb combo you like- apricot and thyme could be quite nice. Or just use raisins instead. I’ve made this a few times now cos it’s super yummy; a nice, crisp, crust, and a light interior that’s springy and not even slightly doughy.

This bread is perfect for a Sunday afternoon snack, with a salty slice of blue cheese (I like Roquefort) and a drizzle of honey. It’s also lovely the next day, as the basis of a roast chicken sarnie.

RECIPE :: Prune & Rosemary Bread
Recipe Type: Bread
Cuisine: French
Author: Jemma Porter
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 6
This fruity loaf is the perfect accompaniment for cheeses, cold meats, or on its own with a cup of coffee.
Ingredients
  • 325g plain flour
  • 1 x pinch of Maldon sea salt
  • 1 sachet of dried yeast
  • 200ml of finger warm water
  • 3tbsp olive oil
  • 75g chopped prunes
  • 1 tsp chopped rosemary
Instructions
  1. Sift the flour into a big bowl. Put the salt on one side of the bowl and the yeast on the other.
  2. Pour in the water and oil, then mix with your hands to form a dough.
  3. Knead for 5 minutes on a lightly floured surface, until the dough is nice and smooth.
  4. Pop the dough in an oiled bowl and leave it to rise somewhere warm for an hour or so, until it doubles in size.
  5. Turn it back onto a work surface and knead in the prunes and rosemary until they’re well mixed.
  6. Oil a loaf tin and pop the dough in to rise for another 30 minutes
  7. Bake in an oven, preheated to 220C for around half an hour. It’s ready when it sounds hollow

 

My Favourite 5:2 Diet Recipes

When Euan was out here at New Year he told me about the 5:2 diet. Euan’s the sort of person who loves fad diets (he once lost a few stone on  the lemon detox) so I wasn’t paying much attention. But then after he left, I decided to Google it and see for myself.

Basically the idea is that you eat normally for five days a week, then for two days you restrict yourself to 500 calories like some kind of monk or something.

Those of you who know me personally will know that I have no willpower whatsoever. I tried the four hour body diet once, with disastrous consequences. Who in their right mind wants to eat nothing but pulses, meat, and vegetables for six days a week?

The thought of calorie counting all the time makes me a sad panda, so I figured this way I could have my cake and eat it and not have to throw it up in order to fit into a pair of size 10 Baxters **

**eating disorders are no laughing matter, kids!

I decided to try the diet for four weeks and see what all the fuss is about. Because I’m too lazy to count calories and come up with my own 5:2 diet recipes, I decided to look online. I’ve written this blog post to catalogue the 5:2  diet recipes I’ve tried during the first four weeks of eating like a supermodel for two days a week.

It’s mostly just a resource for me to look back on, as well as giving some great recipes a wee bit of love.

Jac’s Spicy Tomato and Lentil Soup – 123 calories

Photo care of Tinned Tomatoes

I love Tinned Tomatoes! I’m not a big fan of soup, usually, so I only whipped up a batch because it’s 123 calories a portion, it looked easy, and James was nagging me to make him lunch. I made a couple of changes; I put two cloves of garlic in because we love it, I ommited the turmeric because we don’t have any, I used green lentils instead of red ones, and I used chicken instead of veggie stock cubes.

Verdict? 10/10! It’s quite a watery soup but I actually quite like that. It’s refreshing, warming, filling, and very easy to eat. I would even eat this on a ‘feast’ day 

Karen’s French Tarragon Chicken – 227 calories

Photo by Lavendar and Lovage

I don’t like chicken breast. This has resulted in some comedy moments, for example my best friend’s mum thinking I’m vegetarian and then looking very confused as I stuffed my face with bacon rolls.  Instead of buying a big pack of chicken breasts I just bought a normal chicken and took the breasts off it myself. This meant we had one breast each, and two legs and wings to marinade in piri piri sauce for the next day’s barbeque. Yummers.

Anyway, back to this recipe: I didn’t have fresh tarragon so I just used jar stuff, but it tasted fine. I also substituted cottage cheese for creme fraiche,  and forgot to put the lemon in (d’oh!). Served with a garden salad.

Verdict? 9/10! The chicken was tender and moist, the sauce was light and zingy. Only complaint would be that the portion is rather small but what do you expect for 227 calories?

BBC Good Food’s Healthy Egg ‘n’ Chips – 218 calories

Photo by BBC

See what I mean about having your cake and eating it? This lovely brekkie for dinner boasts 218 calories, and is packed full of flavour. I added some grilled tomatoes and roast garlic cloves, and James got an extra egg because he’s a fat toad I love him. And he’s allowed 100 more calories than me, the sod. I parboiled the potatoes for around 5 minutes first because I was a bit cynical about putting raw tatties in the oven and only cooking them for 30 mins.

Verdict? 9/10! Super yummy and filling for a rainy grim day

 Karen’s cheese & tomato omelette – 170 calories

Photo by Lavender and Lovage

I’m so chuffed that some of my favourite food bloggers are doing the 5:2 diet. Otherwise I might never have thought to put a sprinkling of parmesan on an omelette. Parmesan is so strong that for a wee 22 calorie sprinkling you get a big hit of cheesy flavour. Unfortunately we only had three eggs in the house, so ended up only having a 1.5 egg omelette each. I also added a sprinkle of oregano.

Verdict? 7/10. I’m not a big fan of ommelettes, but this was pretty tasty.

BBC Good Food’s Squash and Chorizo stew – 264 calories

Image by the BBC

I used potimarron ( the seasonal squash here) but it’s a bit more like pumpkin than butternut. I also only had about 400 grams of squash, so I made up the other 100g with mushrooms after quickly googling a calorie counter to make sure mushrooms aren’t some kind of devil food.

For some reason I thought this would be nice, but I hate eating meals that don’t have any carbs in them. For that reason, I didn’t eat all of it and ended up only eating about 250 calories for the day in total, including my omellete. This made me go very quiet all night, and I had a bugger of a headache the next day, making it difficult to work. For some reason I didn’t think to take an ibuprofen until about 5pm.

Verdict? 1/10. Big fat NOPE.

Jemma’s Garlic & Mushroom Chicken  – 272 Calories 

I said I was too lazy to come up with my own recipe, and then I went and blindsided y’all with this low calorie chicken recipe! Oh yeah, I’m good.

This was inspired a bit by the aforementioned Lavender and Lovage  tarragon chicken recipe. Basically we had a whole chicken sitting in the fridge, and a pot of cottage cheese. I wondered if I could do something a bit different from the tarragon chicken and decided to use garlic instead and pad the dish out with mushrooms.

Verdict? 10/10 if I do say so myself! The chicken was moist and tender, there was plenty of sauce, and the garlicky mushrooms gave the dish a wee bit of oomph.

Mumsnet’s cumin and lemon roast cauliflower -51 calories

When I made my garlic mushroom chicken I’d had a big bowl of Jac’s 123 calorie tomato soup for lunch, meaning I could have a wee helping of cauliflower with my dinner. Because  cumin, pepper, and lemon juice basically have no calories, you can have a whopping 200g of this for only 51 calories.

Verdict? 9/10. Remember I said that I don’t like eating a meal without any carbs? Well, this tricked me into believing I was tucking into  a plate of roast potatoes. My only comment would be that I couldn’t really taste the cumin or lemon juice.

So does the diet work?

I did the 5:2 diet for four weeks and although I quite enjoyed the feeling of zen that I was getting on the fast days, and although I felt like my size 12 jeans were falling down a bit, the warm and fuzzies abruptly stopped when I jumped on the scales and saw that I hadn’t really lost any weight, half a kilo at most. I don’t know why I was expecting miracles, since on my feast days I was stuffing my face with baguettes and gooey cheese, but there you go.

Everyone else seems to be having awesome results, so don’t let me stand in your way! Go forth and eat low cal.

Diamond Jubilee Street Party Food Ideas

Image credit: Uproxx

I reckon the best thing about having a Royal Family is all the extra bank holidays we get. Last year it was the Royal Wedding (and a trip to Brussels for James and me) and this year it’s the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Although last year I was a little cynical about the whole Royal thing, this year I’m actually thinking it could be fun to have wee soiree in the street.

Nobody does street parties like Edinburgh. And it would be the ideal way to get to know my neighbours: the faceless people who hold doors open for me in the corridor, or who post a letters through saying things like “terribly sorry, but one of our socks has fallen off our balcony onto yours. Can we have it back?”

I’m not sure if my neighbours would agree with me. Tensions have been running high since a controversial parking scheme was introduced. I wouldn’t want to risk my trestle tables getting a ticket from an over enthusiastic parking warden! 😉

If I did live on a street that was taking part in the Big Jubilee Lunch, here’s what I’d bring to the table.

Continue reading “Diamond Jubilee Street Party Food Ideas”

Creme Egg Ravioli… What Was I Thinking?!

As I mentioned before, I’m now part of the Edinburgh foodie elite that is known as Total Food Geeks. Each month the Geeks riff on a theme, and this month it was all about experimenting.

I was pretty stumped at first, as I’m a rather conservative young lady in the kitchen. Over the weekend I freaked out because I was in a house with no measuring scales and I had no clue whether or not my Fabulous Baker Brothers soda bread would actually turn out.

it was perfect: apart from a little too much salt. You should all go make this. Now. Seriously, the internet will be much better when you have some hot, fresh out of the oven, soda bread with melty butter. Mmmmm!

Anyway, the point is that experimentation isn’t exactly my forte.

I have all my best ideas in the shower, and there I was getting all frothy with my shampoo when I remembered that I really wanted to try my hand at making chocolate pasta.  Hotel Chocolat sell this strange creation in penne form, and it’s absolutely gorgeous: but pricy. Lucky I have a pasta machine!

But that wouldn’t be experimental enough. You can buy it on the high street, for Pete’s sake.

So then my brain got to thinking…

How about taking the chocolateyness and going one step further? Dessert ravioli… filled with Creme Egg fondant.

You can read all about this madcap experiment of Frankenstein proportions over on Total Food Geeks.

Irish Cream Liqueur Topped Cakes

This afternoon I found myself with a free day: boyfriend off driving, flatmate at her niece’s christening: so I decided to have a browse through some cupcake recipes and see what I could knock up. One recipe that caught my eye was an Irish cream cupcake. What better way to use up that leftover Christmas Baileys?

It’s been a while since I last got into the kitchen: unless you count my disastrous attempt at making pitta breads last week. Why. Won’t. You. Puff. Up!?

Anyway, here’s the cast of characters.

It's a piece of cake to make a pretty cake, apparently

First things first: get your equipment organised. I bought this cool bowl set a few years ago when I first decided to get into baking, and I loves it to bits.

Pretty AND Practical

The first step is mixing the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, and chocolate chips. I weighed the flour first and seived it into the bowl. I couldn’t find dark chocolate chips in my local supermarket, so I made my own. Using a *ahem* good quality dark chocolate, cut it into pieces with a knife. That should do the trick.

Just chop it any old way

Next, add the wet ingredients. Creme Fraiche, oil and eggs. Sadly my measuring jug starts at 200ml (grrr) so I had to kind of guesstimate the oil (150 ml) and creme fraiche (100 ml). It worked out fine but really baking is an exact science so if you have the time/equipment you should be more precise.

Goopy Goop

Now beat it into submission! I got this far before I realised I’d not added the cocoa powder, oops!

Forgotten something?

Keep going until it looks nice and smooth and fudgey, like this:

Nice and smooth

Fill up the muffin cases to two thirds and pop in the oven for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes I conducted the toothpick test (insert a toothpick into the center: if it comes out clean then they’re ready to eat) and they weren’t done, so I put them in for an extra 5 minutes. While they’re cooking you could do something productive like dye your hair or hoover the living room.

Once you take them out, leave them to rest while you make the indulgent Irish Cream frosting.

Baked cakes

The recipe mentions 60g of softened butter, twice. In these circumstances I ask myself, what would Ree Drummond do? Why, she’d go for the 120g right? Right!

Now if you’re a smartypants like me, you’d measure out your butter and leave it to soften from the very start. Add a splash of Baileys (or supermarket own brand Irish Cream, whatevs) to proceedings: I used the hazelnut one because I’m fancy and it’s all we had in the flat.

Frosting

Then (silver) spoon in your icing sugar and beat it until it’s light and fluffy and delicious. Try not to coat your kitchen in icing sugar. After doing this I’m of the firm belief that we ladies wouldn’t need pilates, the gym, or Davina McCall workout DVDs if we just baked at home a little more. My arms, owwww!

If you’re a fancy pants with a piping bag, pipe a lovely design on top of your chocolatey cakes. If you’re me, just smoosh it on top any old way with a butter knife.

Who needs cake decorating classes? Me? Oh.

Take your first bite and say: “OMG that’s sweet!” I’d recommend cutting the sugar by half if you don’t have much of a sweet tooth. Although it’s a very handy preservative, as these were still good a few days later.

The recipe site I used suggested that these little beauties are “Best eaten watching a soppy chickflick!” But I can highly recommend them as a post karaoke  drunken treat for friends after a very memorable night out that you can’t remember the next day. I speak from experience here.