An OTT Birthday Cake (Chocolate and Cookie Dough Checkerboard Cake with Brownies)

Last week was my sister’s 18th birthday- so I went home to join in the celebrations. Because everyone else was to be out at work or school during the day, the responsibility of the cake baking fell to me (not that I minded!)

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I asked Lily what she wanted her cake to be, to which she replied:

Really gooey, with a layer of brownies and chunks of cookie dough in the actual cake. With Betty Crocker icing.

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So this was the result. I was absolutely not intended to blog this, but I cant seem to be around cake these days without having a huge urge to photograph it from every angle and these are just too fun pictures not to share!

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It was a chocolate and vanilla checkerboard cake with chunks of cookie dough in the vanilla stripes. With a large pile of brownies on top. Really indulgent- but hey, you are only 18 once!

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For the cake I used the Hummingbird recipe- it’s the lightest and most moist cake recipe I’ve come across in my time! It’s the exact same recipe I used here– just don’t add any of the spices, and add cocoa powder to the flour mixture to made it chocolate. A really delicious brownie recipe can be found here.

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For the cookie dough chunks:

55g butter

100g brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

60g flour

85g chocolate chips

Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in the vanilla extract. Stir in the flour, then gently mix in the chocolate chips.

Form the dough into a sausage shape, wrap in cling film and freeze for at least 30 minutes.

Once the dough is frozen, just cut off small chunks and stir into your cake batter.

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Making a checkerboard cake is deceptively easy, and looks so impressive when cut into!

All you have to do is bake two cakes of different colours (I did one chocolate and one cookie dough.)

When the cakes are cool, you are going to need to cut them into three concentric circles. Use a piece of greaseproof paper to make a template. Draw a circle that is the same diameter as your cake. About three inches from the edge (more or less depending on the size of your cake!) draw another circle. In the middle, draw a small circle, probably about three inches in diameter. Cut these out. Using the three templates, cut the cakes into circles.

Now its just a case of stacking. Put the largest chocolate cake circle on a plate. Put the middle cookie dough circle inside it, and then the smallest chocolate circle inside the cookie dough one. They should fit snugly and you might have to do a bit of gentle forcing.

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Put a thin layer of icing, to stick the top and bottom together- but not too thick or it will ruin the look.

Place the biggest cookies dough circle directly on top of the biggest chocolate one. Then put the middle chocolate one next, and finally the smallest cookie dough one in the middle.

This is a bit confusing without any illustrations- so here is a handy illustrated guide in case I’ve just not made any sense to you at all! 

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I iced it with Betty Crocker icing (as requested) but you could easily make your own!

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xxR

Rebecca Louise Law exhibition

Quick exhibition update on a fun little exhibition in London:

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Rebecca Louise Law at the Coningsby Gallery off Tottenham Court Road

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Rebecca started her career as a florist- and flowers take centre stage in her work. The exhibition includes photographs of flowers, flower and other natural curiosities, including butterflies, beetles, shells, in exhibition cabinets.

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The best piece is this one- hundred of live flowers cascading from the ceiling on wire. So beautiful and smells amazing too! The exhibition is only on this week- so be quick!

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xxR

Valentines Day Treat Chocolate Tarts with Salted Caramel Pretzel Praline

It’s nearly Valentines day. I’m not a great one for Valentines day. This is sort of because I don’t really see the fuss. Also, Valentines day also happens to be my boyfriend’s birthday, and, understandably, he is not a great one for Valentines day either.

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It’s hard to be a great one for Valentines day as just a one. It’s hard to get into the spirit when someone else is just wishing everyone would stop talking about Valentines day and they could just get on with celebrating their birth in peace.

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It’s fine, I totally get it.

To be honest, I’m sort of glad. I find the whole thing a bit much- and a lot of pressure!

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So to help all of you who might be freaking out about what to do for that special someone- be it what to cook, where to eat, should you wear sexy underwear, if so, how sexy is acceptable and how sexy is too far… Personally I avoid sexy underwear, because I can’t deal with these sort of big questions.

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These tarts are the sexy undies of the pastry world. Sexy but also fun, which is, you know, ideal.

Rich chocolate moussey filling in a crisp pastry case with pretzel praline on top.

Yes pretzels. And caramel. Salted caramel really is all the rage these days, in case you didn’t know. And its super delicious. And its kind of fun. So if you aren’t ready for the sexy knickers, these will go down just as well.

Chocolate Tarts with Salted Caramel Pretzel Praline

For the pastry:

100g plain flour

50g butter, cold

25g icing sugar

splash of cold water

Begin by rubbing the butter into the flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the icing sugar.

Add a splash of cold water to bring it together into a dough. Use just enough to allow it to form a ball- too much and it will turn into a sticky mess.

Wrap in cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for at least half an hour. While it is resting, make your praline.

For the praline:

100g caster sugar

about 1/2 a small bag of pretzels

Arrange the pretzels in a baking tray on a piece of baking paper.

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This looks so beautiful, don’t you think? Let’s see another picture…

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Put the caster sugar in a pan over a medium heat and melt. Once it is a golden brown colour, pour it over the pretzels. Be careful because it will be super super hot. Sprinkle with some sea salt if you want extra saltiness, but this is up to you!

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Leave it to set for at least an hour, or until it has hardened and set. Then you can break up chunks to decorate your tarts, or just eat it.

Once your dough has rested, you need to blind bake it. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees and carefully line a muffin tray.

Cut out circle of dough just big enough to fill the muffin cases. Fill with a piece of baking paper and some baking beans, or, if you don’t have any, dry rice or beans. Bake for 10-15 minutes.

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For the filling:

180ml double cream

120ml milk

300g chocolate

2 eggs, beaten

Bring the cream and milk to the boil, then add the chocolate. Stir until the chocolate has completely melted. Allow to cool slightly, then mix in the egg.

Pour the filling into the pastry cases and bake at 100 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

When they are cool, turn out and place  a pretzel praline piece on top.

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You know you love me!

xxR