Thursday, 13 March 2014

Banoffee blondies

This was a post pancake day bake but it turned out WONDERFUL.

Basically I have a friend who has a major love of banoffee. So when I had a pancake day gathering we grabbed bananas, toffee and cream. Lots of cream. But come the week after, I'm sitting around with some leftover bananas ripening nicely and half a can of caramel. So I went searching online :)

Now this recipe came from the NY Times which I linked here.

I made some adjustments to use up the leftover ingredients I had, in particular cutting the sugar content and...well I didn't have enough butter so I did use spread to make up the difference in the crust and the blondie batter and I don't think it suffered significantly even if it was super light Flora (not recommended for baking!) Anyway, I list my adjusted recipe below:

280g unsalted butter
200g Oreos (56p on deal, but any biscuit would be pretty good)
2 bananas
2 large eggs
350g dark brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla (I'd try the rum but we have non-alcohol consumers in the office - think extract is like mouthwash... doesn't really count)
130g plain flour
80g toasted mixed nuts chopped roughly
Extras - fudge, caramel, chocolate bits...

1. Preheat at 375 F/190C and line a roasting tin (9x13 inches) with parchment paper (no butter needed).
2. Crush the Oreos with a can/rolling pin/food processor and pour over 113g of butter which has been melted. Sprinkle in a pinch of salt and squash into the tin as a base like cheesecake. Now maybe my roasting tin was a little big or maybe because I had cream filled oreos, mine just looked like liquid sludge rather than the cheesecake crumbly base. Spread it around anyway and don't worry too much if you can't get it perfectly even.
3. Bake for about ten minutes till firm. Be careful as it's dark and can burn. But when it comes out, it's surprisingly like a reformed flat biscuit. Put it on the side for a bit.
4. Whilst it is baking, get the blondie mix going. Mash up the bananas and add the eggs, sugar and extract. Melt the rest of the butter till brown and whisk it in. Fold in the flour and salt and pour the mix over the crust.
5. Put on the extras :) In this case it was the half a can of caramel just dropped in splodges and marbled through, a handful of milk chocolate chunks and a good sprinkle of the salt. (Salted caramel?? Yum!!)
6. Knock the temperature of the oven down to 350F/175C and put the pan back in for about 45-60 minutes. It will be crusty topped like a brownie and cooked but still fudgy in the middle. Cut into squares (24 was actually about right). Enjoy. Warm. Oozy. *Mmmm*

Chocolate cage cake

I've made chocolate cage cakes before, but never brilliantly. In fairness, this isn't brilliant but it did get a lot of attention.

The whole process is very, very simple and is very handy for covering up the less than brilliant buttercream smoothing I do on the sides. Did I mention I hate buttercream? Gets sugar everywhere, dries hard and is far, far too sweet. I did  try a cooked flour frosting the week before but my friend complained it wasn't sweet enough. Anyway, let's talk chocolate cage.

You have a cake which you've covered with some kind of frosting. Assuming your oven doesn't suck as badly as my current one which messed up even the simple victoria sponge inside this cake, you'll have a cake. By itself, that's fine.

To the cage - measure around the cake - and do it AFTER you've frosted it. I did this based on the cake pan and ended up about an inch short. (FYI not an issue, just squiggle some chocolate on a spare bit and patch it in the gap. But anyway, to measure it, grab some parchment paper with a straight edge at the bottom and wrap around the cake lightly. You can find another way but this works fine.

Either scrape whatever buttercream stuck to the parchment paper off or flip over and use the other side.

Take some melted chocolate (microwave/bain marie or just badly melted on a hob at your own risk) and put it in a piping bag or sandwich bag with a small hole cut in it. Now you can make a paper piping bag but I tend to get chocolate leak out of the top more. The sandwich bag route seems to waste more chocolate and the piping bag... well they're expensive. 

Note - I use dark chocolate usually but white and milk have worked before. The knack to this I've found is don't pipe it when the chocolate has just melted. If you use it whilst it's super hot it tends to be very loose and hard to pipe accurately because the oils are just all over the place and liable to separate. If you get it a couple of minutes after it's melted (and not scalding) it's quite good. 

So to piping it, either go randomly like I did in the picture or follow a pattern (you can draw on some paper and trace it through the parchment paper). Decide if you want to have the collar come at the same level as the cake or above the collar, it's really up to you.

Anyway, once you've piped it, wait. Just wait. You want the chocolate to lose the shine a bit and not look like it will drip when you lift the paper. If it sets too hard it cracks just warm it slightly in a low oven.  Once you think it's the right moment, lift it up and wrap it around the cake. It's a lot easier to do from one edge of the paper and then wrap the rest round but go slow as you cannot re-wrap it. It will smudge if you do that.

Anyway, once it's on, either shove it in the fridge for a bit or just leave it out to set. Five to fifteen minutes works well, depends on the weather. Peel the paper off and then you're done! Stand back, bask in the glory and a bunch of people going "WOW HOW DID YOU DO THAT??!!" Well.. google :)