Thursday 29 March 2012

Alphabakes roundup for March 2012: M

Welcome to the second monthly round-up for the Alphabakes blogging challenge, and the first one to be hosted on my site!
Our letter for March, selected by a random letter generator, was M. A wealth of ingredients and bakes immediately sprang to mind, but some of the entries this month were things that would never have occurred to me! I’m really pleased by the number of entries we’ve had - 39, so even more than last month - and how well everyone’s bakes have turned out.

So with no further ado, here are the M entries for March, in the order in which they were received.
First off the mark this month was my own mother, who I think is enjoying Alphabakes as much as I am! Jacqueline sent us this marmalade and walnut cake, which looks like it would be lovely with a nice cup of tea. And my mum makes a good cup of tea J

Next came these meringues from Dima of Dima’sKitchen. Read her full post for some very informative and useful tips on making meringues- I certainly learnt a few things I didn’t know!

 Laura from Laura Loves Cakes sent us a marmalade loaf cake – very fitting as it was national marmalade week. It looks very more-ish!

Rachel from Blissfully Scrumptious blog entered a Morello Cherry and Chocolate Marble Loaf . I love the marble effect and anything with chocolate always looks good to me! Morello cherry is also an ingredient I hadn’t thought of when I brainstormed the letter M!


Helen from Fuss Free Flavours was another person inspired by the letter M to make a meringue – in this case, she made a green pavlova with elderflower cream and topped with kiwi. It made me green with envy! (groan)

Maple syrup is one of my favourite ingredients so I definitely liked the look of these maple syrup flapjacks, sent in by Laura of Credit Munched. They look lovely and chewy!

 I was very impressed by these mango and chocolate muffins by Mel from Sharky Oven Gloves, as she’d just moved from Edinburgh to New Zealand and hadn’t even finished unpacking when she made these! Mango and chocolate isn’t a combination I’ve ever had before, but I think these muffins look really good.

Marmalade was obviously a popular choice this month – Dom from Belleau Kitchen sent in this marmalade cake he made for Mothers’ Day. The frosting on top looks especially yummy!

Have you ever made marshmallows before? Me neither! I love eating them though, so was very pleased to receive this entry from Corina from Searching for Spice: she made marshmallows with strawberries. Perfect to go alongside a glass of Pimm’s… or is that just me?!

Speaking of cocktails…. Olivia from Liv a Little Bakery sent us these Mint mojito cupcakes. The icing looks so perfect I’m a little jealous… and needless to say a great flavour combination too! Check out the little lime decoration on the cake at the back – too cute!

The next entry was my own – and continues the cocktail theme! I made a mimosa (a champagne and orange cocktail) Mother’s Day cake and used a silicon mould in the shape of the letters ‘mum’.

Janice from FarmersGirlKitchen made one of my childhood favourites: a lemon meringue pie. It looks really delicious!

 I may be a little biased when I say this but I think my sister Clare’s entry is brilliant! She recently went to Finland, home of the Moomins, and bought this Moomin cookie cutter. She made gingerbread and is calling them Ginger Moomins. She made them for Mother’s Day so I can confirm that they tasted great!

The next entry was a really unusual one – at least, it was something I’d never heard of before. Gill from Tales of Pigling Bland sent in these Japanese Mochi. She says they are glutinous rice cakes (mochi) with a sweet filling – a little like  an adventurous marshmallow. I’d love to try one!

My co-host for Alphabakes, Ros from The More Than Occasional Baker, has gone all out this month – well, she’s not called Baking Addict for nothing! First she sent in these pistachio and chocolate macarons. We both took a macaron-making class recently and wanted to try our hand at making them ourselves afterwards. I think Ros’s macarons have turned out really well, don’t you agree?

She also made some madeleines –pistachio and rose flavour. Apparently simple to make, and they look really yummy – I doubt I could stop at one!

Ros’s mum also entered Alphabakes again this month, with a flourless mandarin cake. Flourless cakes are usually really moist so I bet this one was lovely!

Jacqueline from Cakeboule is a self-confessed Starbucks addict and decided to make a cake inspired by one of her favourite drinks. This Macchiato Layer Cake would go down a treat with a cup of coffee – and I think the decoration is beautiful.

St. Patrick’s Day fell in March and was the inspiration for several of our entries this month, including these mint chocolate macarons from Kate from What Kate Baked. I find macarons really hard so am very impressed by Kate’s, even though personally I don’t like mint! I’m sure they tasted great to everyone else J

Kit from i-lostinausten – a wonderful Jane Austen-inspired baking blog – sent in this mango cheesecake. It looks like it turned out perfectly and I’d love to dig in with a spoon!

Lucas @ CoverVersions.TV made a fab video showing how he made what he calls a Botched Macadamia Honey Pear Thing – though apart from breaking slightly when it came out of the tin, I don’t think it was botched at all, and it looks really yummy!

More meringues – and this time by Sue from A Little Bit of Heaven on a Plate. Her entry is Molten Mint Meringues – they’re crisp on the outside and a beautiful gooey green on the inside!

Javelin Warrior from CookinWLuv sent us these molasses cupcakes, and apparently wasn’t thrilled with how they turned out, but they look good enough to eat to me!

I’m a total chocaholic so was pleased to see this mocha traybake from Suelle from Mainly Baking. I could devour a big chunk of this!

Helen from Fuss Free Flavours sent us a second entry for March, which was great – there is no limit to how many times you can enter! This time she sent in some vegan chocolate, hazelnut and matcha muffins. I’ve never tried cooking with matcha before and I will definitely have to bookmark this recipe as one of my close friends is vegan. So thanks, Helen!

Caroline from Cake, Crumbs and Cooking made these Madeleines de Commercy  and passed on a useful tip about the nipples. I didn’t realise madeleines had nipples, but apparently they do! They look wonderfully light and springy.

It’s almost Easter, so Gem from Cupcake Crazy Gem made these Malteser Bunny Cupcakes – they look so cute and delicious! I’m actually surprised that it took until entry number 27 for anyone to send in something using maltesers – they were actually the first thing I thought of!

Some more madeleines, this time baked by Angela  from Garden Tea Cakes and Me. They look very spongy and springy – I might have to get myself a madeleine pan!

The unstoppable Ros from The More Than Occasional Baker also sent in these Mint Oreo Fudge Brownies – she’s recently returned from a trip to the U.S. where she purchased some mint oreos, amongst (several) other things. You’d get a wonderful surprise when biting into these!

She also made this tropical cake using an exotic fruit tin she bought in America – and this cake uses a whole range of delicious fruit. It’s a mango, pineapple, coconut and banana cake, and would definitely put a smile on anyone’s face.

Anuja from Simple Baking made these molten marshmallow cupcakes – they look absolutely fantastic and totally melting in the middle. Can I have one please?!

 Denise from Magnolia Verandah sent us these coconut macaroons, which look lovely and chewy. Don’t forget that you don’t have to make something using an ingredient beginning with the magic letter – it can also be the name of the recipe or the type of bake. Sorry if that wasn’t clear and I’m glad Denise decided to send these in anyway!

The talented Choclette from Chocolate Log Blog always bakes with chocolate, so she’s sent us a chocolate and marzipan cheesecake – a recipe chosen at random. I think it looks lovely though I have never seen marzipan in a cheesecake before!

 I wasn’t intending to enter twice, but I wanted to bake an edible gift for someone’s birthday and decided on millionaire’s shortbread. I didn’t choose it because it began with the letter M – well, that wasn’t the only reason! It looked a bit bashed around once I’d cut it into pieces but tasted glorious.

This is definitely the most unusual entry we’ve had: Mike from Mike’s Baking made these Meatloaf cupcakes with roasted beetrootmash. I don’t know whether I’d be brave enough to try one, but he said they tasted good so I’ll have to take his word for it! I am impressed at the creativity that has gone into this bake!

Sarah from Sarah Bakes sent in a mascarpone, ricotta and cream cheese baked cheesecake. It looks scrumptious – and reminds me of one of my favourite jokes… which cheese do you use to hide a horse? Mascarpone! (Groan)

Dawn from Wild About Baking also used mascarpone as her ingredient for the letter ‘m’ and sent in this walnut truffle cake. She calls it a “gloriously chocolately mess” – I might have to try making this myself!

She followed that up with a savoury bake – which is perfectly acceptable under the Alphabakes rules, in case anyone else is wondering! These Marmite and red onion scones are probably a ‘love them or hate them’ bake – but they look good to me!

And last but not least, we have a Norwegian  Bløtkake from Nom from The Nom Bakery. 
This is a Norwegian cake whose name translates as 'moist cake' and it contains marzipan. It looks great, and it's really nice to end on an 'international' entry!
Stop the presses…. Fleur from Homemade by Fleur has just sent in these marbled chocolate and hazelnut meringues, and I think they were definitely worth waiting for, don’t you?

And one more late entry, living up to her name Baking Addict has sent in something else - she just couldn't resist! She's very proud to have  got the hang of macarons and I am just a little bit jealous as these raspberry and cream macarons look great!

That brings the total entries for March to 41 Let’s see if we can do even better in April….. J

Don't forget to visit on 1st April to find out what the mystery letter is for next month! I can't wait!

Sunday 25 March 2012

Millionaire's Shortbread

I wanted to make an edible gift for a family friend of my boyfriend's and decided on millionaire's shortbread, as it's easier to give as a gift than a whole cake, and I wasn't sure how much the make recipient would like cupcakes. So I was thinking about some sort of biscuit or tray bake and remembered it had been a while since I had made millionaire's shortbread - and handily for this month's Alphabakes challenge, it also begins with the letter M!

I found a generic recipe on the internet, so essentially it went like this:

Mix 250g plain flour, 75g caster sugar and 175g softened butter in a bowl to make breadcrumbs.
Press down into a lined square cake tin and cook in the oven at about 190 degrees for 10 minutes or so until it turns golden brown.

For the caramel, I heated a small tin of light condensed milk, 55g butter and 55g brown sugar until just boiling, then removed from the heat and allowed to thicken. When the base was cooked and cooled, I poured over the caramel, and put that in the fridge to set.

I then melted 200g of dark chocolate and poured that over the top, and put it back in the fridge to set.

The shortbread was a bit crumbly and the chocolate was quite thick, so some pieces broke a little when I tried to cut it into squares, but my boyfriend was more than happy to eat the offcuts!

I rooted around in the cupboard until I found a pretty box to pacakage it up in. It looks quite homemade but I think that is one of the nice things about it!

I am entering my millionaire's shortbread into this month's Alphabakes - just a few hours ahead of the deadline! Speaking of which, I can't wait to see which random letter Baking Addict comes up with for April - based on the bakes I am already planning, I'm hoping it's C, S or P.... but it truly is random!