Sunday, 17 June 2012

My super fast Fathers Day Florentines

It's always good, I think, to give something homemade for an occasion like Fathers Day. Fathers Day, like Mothers Day has become so over-hyped and commercialised that it's easy to forget the sentiment and lose the point of what the day is supposed to signify. A homemade gift shows that you've given a bit of thought and put a little effort in to whatever it is you've made and that, alone, is always greatly appreciated. My husband adores Florentines and these are a twist on the traditional version. They are really quick and easy to make, require no baking whatsoever and are great for the children to get involved with. Once made, package them up in a pretty box, or stack them in clear cellophane tied with some beautiful ribbon, and they will make a wonderful gift.

4oz of chocolate makes approximately 9 medium sized Florentines, so increase the quantities if you want to make more!


4oz chocolate (I used 4oz of good quality plain for one batch and 4oz of milk for the second batch)
a handful each of: chopped, roasted hazelnuts; pumpkin seeds; dried cranberries (you could use any dried fruit you like, apricots would work very well); and whole almonds (again, use any nuts you like...pistachio would look beautiful, pecans would be lovely, too)

 1. Line a baking tray with baking parchment.

2. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water.

3. When the chocolate has melted, spoon disc shapes onto the lined baking tray.

4. Sprinkle each disc with the nuts, dried fruit and seeds and then put into the fridge to set.

5. When the Florentines have set, peel them away from the paper and package them up as you like. Enjoy!

Monday, 11 June 2012

Coconut and pineapple cupcakes

Whilst the weather of late may have prevented me from sitting on my deck with a chilled glass of malibu and  pineapple, nothing was going to stop me from re-creating a tiny piece of Caribbean heaven in my kitchen! We all know that the seductive and citric aroma of the fabulous, summery pineapple is a perfect accompaniment to the sweet and mildly flavoured coconut, so if you want to to be temporarily transported to the Tropics, give these cupcakes a go!


For the cakes:

120g plain flour
140g caster sugar
1 and a half tsps baking powder
pinch of salt
40g unsalted butter, at room temperature
120ml coconut milk
half a tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
9 tinned pineapple rings, chopped into small pieces
desiccated coconut, to decorate

For the frosting:

250g icing sugar, sifted
80g unsalted butter, at room temperature
25ml coconut milk

a 12-hole cupcake tray, lined with paper cases

Makes 12

1. Preheat the oven to 170 degs C/Gas 3. 

2. Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) and beat on a slow speed until you get a sandy consistency and everything is combined.

3. Mix together the coconut milk and vanilla extract in a separate bowl, then beat into the flour mixture on a medium speed until well combined. Add the egg and beat well, scraping any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a spatula.

4. Divide the chopped pineapple between the paper cases.

Spoon the cupcake mixture on top until two-thirds full and bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until light golden. A skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean. Leave the cupcakes to cool slightly before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

5. To make the coconut frosting, beat the icing sugar and butter together in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment on a medium speed until the mixture comes together and is well mixed. Turn the mixer down to a slower speed and slowly pour in the coconut milk. Once all the milk has been incorporated, turn the mixer up to a high speed and continue beating until the frosting is light and fluffy.

6. Once the cupcakes are cold, spoon the coconut frosting on top and finish with a sprinkling of desiccated coconut. Enjoy!

This recipe comes from The Hummingbird Bakery cookbook