Chocolate Traybake

Easy and simple chocolate traybake is a great cake for parties and all kinds of celebrations. Moist chocolate sponge cake is topped with a dark chocolate ganache icing and can be decorated with your favourite chocolate and sprinkles. 

Last month I shared my Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes and I’m back this time with a super easy and delicious chocolate traybake.

I just love chocolate cake and will always find one way or another to fulfil my chocolate fix!

This is an amazing cake recipe you want to have in your back pocket ready for celebrations. It’s the kind of cake that’ll go down a storm at birthday parties and a get-together with family and friends.

I guarantee you that this traybake will disappear instantly upon slicing!

I have lots of chocolate cakes and cupcakes on my blog already, but there’s certainly room for more. I baked and shared this Chocolate Fudge Cake all the way back in 2015 and that cake is completely different to this traybake as it’s super dense and fudge-like. Whereas this traybake has a light and airy texture.

It’s up to you on how you decorate your traybake and because it’s nearly Easter I chose to decorate mine with mini eggs, colourful sugar-coated chocolates and mini milk and white chocolate chips. It’s colourful and fun and this cake really does taste as impressive as it looks!

I’m excited to bake this traybake again as there is so many ways to decorate it and it can be adapted for any occasion!

(Serves 15-20)

Ingredients:

Chocolate Cake: 

75g cocoa powder

3/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

200ml boiling water

4 large free-range eggs, at room temperature

370g light brown sugar

180ml vegetable oil

200g self-raising flour, sifted

Chocolate Ganache: 

150g dark chocolate, broken into pieces – approx. 50% cocoa solids

2 tablespoons golden syrup

2 tablespoons double cream

Method:

  1. To make the cake: In a small bowl whisk together the cocoa powder, bicarbonate of soda and boiling water. Mix until combined and then set aside to cool for 20 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 180°C / 160°C Fan / 350°F / Gas Mark 4. Line a 23cm x 30cm baking tin that’s at least 4cm deep with baking parchment.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar and oil until thoroughly combined. Add the chocolate mixture to this and whisk again until incorporated. Finally, add flour and whisk until mixed fully.
  4. Pour the cake batter into the cake tin. Bake for 30-40 minutes (my cake took 30 minutes exactly) or until a cake tester when inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Once the cake is baked, leave it to cool in the cake tin completely.
  5. To make the ganache: Place the dark chocolate, golden syrup and double cream in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water. Continue to stir until you have a glossy ganache.
  6. Spread the ganache on top of the cake – it will be a thin layer and as the cake is very rich this amount is just right. Decorate the cake with chocolate and or sprinkles. Leave the cake to set at room temperature for a couple of hours before slicing into squares. The traybake will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Recipe from Annie Bell’s Baking Bible

More incredible chocolate recipes to bake next!

Chocolate Fudge Brownies

Triple Chocolate Cookies

Chocolate Hazelnut Cake (Torta alla Gianduia)

Enjoy!

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Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes

The perfect cupcake for any chocolate lover! These chocolate cupcakes are deliciously moist with a delicate crumb and decorated with a swirl of ultra decadent milk chocolate buttercream. 

 

This recipe was originally published on January 27th 2016. 

These chocolate cupcakes definitely live up to their name and as the title describes, they are ultimately good. I’ll never need to find a new chocolate cupcake recipe ever again and neither will you.

Made with a combination of dark chocolate and cocoa powder for intense chocolate flavour. I usually just add cocoa powder to my chocolate cupcakes, but this time I wanted to elevate the flavour by adding even more chocolate to the mix!

The cake itself has a perfect crumb texture. It’s rich, chocolatey and fluffy and will stay moist for days without becoming dry.

After you’ve baked the cupcakes, the next step is to make the milk chocolate buttercream. It wouldn’t be a cupcake without buttercream after all.

These cupcakes will pretty much suit any buttercream you could think of, but this time I went for a classic milk chocolate buttercream. My milk chocolate buttercream recipe is unbelievably delicious and super simple to prepare – it’s pretty much a standard vanilla buttercream recipe with the addition of melted milk chocolate.

To make it, cream the butter until softened and then add the icing sugar. I get many questions from readers asking me to help with their buttercream dilemmas and the most common question is regarding the texture of buttercream and for example why it’s grainy and not smooth. My top tip is to sift your icing sugar for the best buttercream that’s free of any lumps – I’ve had countless buttercream disasters because of not sifting my icing sugar, so it’s definitely worth not skipping this step! 

Continue to mix the butter and icing sugar for about 2-3 minutes or until the buttercream is fluffy and has lightened in colour. Finally, add the vanilla extract, double cream and the melted milk chocolate and mix gently until all the ingredients are combined and the buttercream is smooth.

chocolate fudge cupcake WJBN

This buttercream has just the right balance of sweetness and isn’t too rich. I did in fact eat a few spoonfuls from the bowl before decorating the cupcakes. It’s a hard job being a food blogger sometimes…

I’m addicted to this buttercream and now these chocolate cupcakes. I cannot wait to bake my next batch!

(Makes 12)

Ingredients:

Chocolate Cupcakes:

85g dark chocolate, finely chopped

40g cocoa powder

1 teaspoon instant coffee granules or powder (optional)

180ml boiling water

105g strong white bread flour (can be substituted with plain flour)

150g caster sugar

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)

6 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 large free-range eggs, at room temperature

2 teaspoons white vinegar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Milk Chocolate Buttercream:

125g butter (salted or unsalted), softened

250g icing sugar, sifted

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3-4 tablespoons double cream

200g milk chocolate, melted and cooled

Method:

  1. To make the cupcakes: Place the chopped chocolate, cocoa powder and coffee granules/powder (if using) in a medium mixing bowl. Pour the boiling water over and whisk until smooth and all the chocolate has melted. Place in the fridge for 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 180°C / 160°C Fan / 350°F / Gas Mark 4. Line a 12-hole cupcake/muffin tin with paper cases. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt and bicarbonate of soda until thoroughly combined. Whisk the oil, eggs, vinegar and vanilla into the now cooled chocolate mixture. Finally, add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and whisk until you have a smooth batter.
  3. Divide the batter between the paper cases – I find using an ice cream scoop best for doing this as it makes less mess. Bake for 17-19 minutes or until the cupcakes are well risen and a cake tester comes out clean when inserted into the centre. Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes and then transport to a wire rack to finish cooling completely.
  4. To make the buttercream: Cream the butter for about a minute or two to soften. Now add the sifted icing in two batches and beat for another 2-3 minutes until the buttercream is light and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and double cream.
  5. Mix in the melted chocolate until just combined and decorate the cupcakes as desired. The cupcakes will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Recipe Notes:

  • Use the best quality chocolate you can afford.
  • If you’re not a fan of coffee you can substitute the coffee with water. You can’t really taste the coffee, but it intensifies the chocolate flavour so I highly recommend adding the coffee.
  • When making the buttercream, remember to sift your icing sugar and add the sugar in batches to ensure you create a smooth textured buttercream.
  • Feel free to decorate the cupcakes with a different frosting flavour like classic vanilla or something fruity like strawberry or raspberry.
  • I decorated these cupcakes with Cake Angels Chocoholics Sprinkles (using the Milk Chocolate Vermicelli and Milk Chocolate Drops).

Chocolate cupcake recipe from Cook’s Illustrated, milk chocolate buttercream recipe by What Jessica Baked Next

Enjoy!

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New York Cheesecake with Mixed Berry Coulis

Classic New York-style cheesecake served with a deliciously tangy mixed berry coulis. This is a restaurant quality dessert you can easily bake in your own kitchen! 

 

We’re nearly at the end of January, but I’m back and it’s time now to share my first recipe of 2019!

The New Year comes as a time of reflection and thinking about your goals for the next year. This blog has given me so many wonderful opportunities and I’ve achieved so much through being a food blogger, personally and professionally. This blogging journey has enabled me to work with prestigious companies and attend some wonderful events over the years – something I’d love to continue doing in the future. My blog is a fantastic and fun hobby and I get so much joy out of working on it, so I’m looking forward this next year where I’ll continue to share my favourite recipes.

Today, I’m serving you a virtual slice of cheesecake ready for you to bake and celebrate the weekend with.

You’re going to fall head over heels with this cheesecake. It’s creamy, incredibly light for a baked cheesecake and pairs wonderfully well with a drizzle of homemade mixed berry coulis.

This cheesecake starts with a buttery biscuit base. I like to use plain digestive biscuits as they’re not too flavourful and won’t distract or steal any glory from the cheesecake filling.

The cheesecake filling requires the usual cheesecake ingredients: softened cream cheese, caster sugar, sour cream, plain flour, vanilla extract and whole eggs and an egg yolk. I would always recommend that you use full-fat cream cheese and sour cream – using low or reduced fat varieties will not work and are likely to jeopardise the overall taste and texture.

The baked cheesecake tastes amazing alone, but I particularly enjoy cheesecake served with a coulis or a sauce. I couldn’t decide what flavour coulis I wanted to make to serve with this cheesecake. At first I thought I would prepare a strawberry sauce, but I worried it might be too sweet, next I thought about making a raspberry coulis but then I discovered the pack of frozen raspberries I thought I had in the freezer were actually mixed berries, so because I didn’t feel like rushing out to get some different fruit I decided to stick with using the mixed berries.

I also usually make my coulis/sauces with icing sugar, but again I used the last of that and forgot to replace it so I ended up using caster sugar, which works just as well and produced a deliciously tangy mixed berry coulis.

This New York cheesecake has stolen my heart. Many baked cheesecakes I have eaten have never impressed me, but this recipe changed my opinion completely! It was incredibly easy and simple to make and tasted and looked like a dessert you would be served at a restaurant.

(Serves 12)

Ingredients:

Biscuit Base: 

200g digestive biscuits

100g butter (salted or unsalted)

Cheesecake Filling: 

900g / 2lb full-fat cream cheese, at room temperature

200g caster sugar

200ml full-fat sour cream, at room temperature

3 tablespoons plain flour

3 large free-range eggs plus 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten and at room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Mixed Berry Coulis: 

500g mixed fresh or frozen berries (mine included blackberries, blackcurrants, redcurrants and strawberries)

4 tablespoons caster or icing sugar

2 tablespoons lemon juice or water

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C / 160°C Fan / 350°F / Gas Mark 4. Grease and line the base of a 23cm / 9-inch springform cake tin.
  2. To make the biscuit base: Crush the biscuits to fine crumbs. In a small saucepan, melt the butter and then add to the biscuit crumbs and stir to combine. Place the biscuit mixture into the cake tin and spread into an even layer pressing it down until firm using the back of a spoon or your fingers.
  3. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden. Once baked remove from the oven and leave to cool while you prepare the cheesecake filling.
  4. Reduce the oven temperature to 160°C / 140°C Fan / 320°F / Gas Mark 2.
  5. To make the cheesecake filling: In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar with a spatula or wooden spoon until smooth. Add the sour cream and flour and beat again until incorporated. Gradually add the beaten egg a bit at a time along with the vanilla extract – you want to beat the mixture and not whisk it as whisking will add too much air and may cause your cheesecake to crack.
  6. Pour the cheesecake filling on the biscuit base and then bake in the oven for 45 minutes or until the cheesecake is just set with a slight wobble. It should still be cream on top and a little golden around the edges. My cheesecake took an extra 10-15 minutes before I was confident that it was ready.
  7. Now turn off the oven, leave the door open slightly ajar and leave the cheesecake to cool completely in the oven – this prevents the top of the cheesecake from cracking, but if it does crack it’s not the end of the world! Once the cheesecake is cool, cover it and leave to set in the fridge for at least 8 hours or for best results leave it overnight.
  8. To make the mixed berry coulis: In a medium saucepan add the mixed berries, sugar and lemon juice/water. Gently heat and cook on a medium heat, crush the fruit with the back of a spoon until the fruit starts to break down and has started to reduce and the juices coat the back of the spoon. Strain through a sieve, then chill the sauce at the same time as the cheesecake – I find making mine the night before and leaving it to chill overnight produces the perfect consistency.
  9. To serve the cheesecake, take it out from the fridge and allow it to sit for about 5-10 minutes before removing from the cake tin. Slice and serve with the mixed berry coulis and more fruit.

Recipe slightly adapted from BBC Food

Recipe Notes:

  • Before starting to the prepare the cheesecake, you must make sure that all the ingredients for the filling are at room temperature. I always leave the cream cheese and sour cream out at room temperature for about an hour to soften.
  • Cheesecake will keep stored in the fridge for up to one week. You can freeze the cheesecake for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before serving.
  • You can switch the mixed berries for frozen raspberries to make a raspberry coulis or you can serve the cheesecake with caramel or chocolate sauce if you prefer.

Enjoy!

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Chocolate Hazelnut Cake (Torta alla Gianduia)

Flourless chocolate hazelnut cake – this Italian cake originates in Piedmont, a region in North-Western Italy known for its hazelnuts. This gluten-free cake is a chocolate lovers dream dessert

Christmas is now less than two weeks away and if you’re anything like me and want to be organised regarding food this cake will be perfect for an alternative pudding this Christmas Day.

As much as Christmas is one of my favourite times of the year, I’m not the greatest fan of traditional Christmas food. I don’t have the typical Christmas roast dinner as I’m vegetarian and because I’ve never enjoyed mince pies, Christmas cake or pudding that means Christmas Day dessert is usually a creation involving chocolate in some form or another.

Some years we have a yule log, however this year we fancied a change and decided on this classic Piedmontese cake, Torta alla Gianduia.

This torte is simply divine and it has an incredible soft, truffle cake texture that’s simply too hard to resist.

Because this cake is flourless that means it’s suitable for anyone following a gluten-free diet. I was a bit skeptical making this cake, it was one of the first times I’d baked a flourless cake but I was extremely happy with how it turned out! My sister who usually dislikes gluten-free bakes even said this was the only gluten-free cake she has ever liked.

The texture is mousse-like and beautifully light and fluffy – it really does melt-in-your-mouth. You’ll have the urge to eat slice after slice of this cake just like I did!

You know this cake is good because it rivals my favourite chocolate fudge cake. I used Nigella Lawson’s recipe from How To Be A Domestic Goddess, but I used the dark chocolate ganache recipe from SWEET by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh. The ganache is rich, glossy, silky and has all the qualities a good chocolate ganache should have.

torta gianduia recipe

This cake is made differently to the usual cake recipes I make and I love that I’ve discovered a brilliant gluten-free chocolate dessert. I know this cake will most definitely be appearing on our table on Christmas Day or Boxing Day, but I also know it’ll be a year-round favourite for parties and other celebrations.

Serve this showstopper cake with pouring/whipped cream or ice cream. I always serve chocolate bakes with fresh raspberries, but you can also eat it with different berries on the side. If you want you can garnish the top of the cake with extra hazelnuts, chopped or whole.

Torta alla Gianduia is a big hit with my taste testers and I’m sure it will be with yours too! If you adore the combination of chocolate and hazelnuts, then this is the cake recipe for you.

(Serves 10-12)

Ingredients:

Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut Cake:

6 large free-range eggs (whites and yolks separated), at room temperature

Small pinch of salt

125g butter (salted or unsalted)

400g chocolate hazelnut spread

1 tablespoon frangelico, rum or water

100g ground hazelnuts (can be substituted with ground almonds)

100g dark chocolate, melted and cooled slightly

Dark Chocolate Ganache:

200g dark chocolate, chopped into 2cm pieces

200ml double cream

1 tablespoon golden syrup

1 tablespoon butter (salted or unsalted)

Method:

  1. To make the cake: Preheat oven to 180°C / 160°C Fan / 350°F / Gas Mark 4. Line a 23cm / 9-inch springform cake tin with parchment paper and grease well with extra butter. Set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the egg whites and a pinch of salt until stiff but not dry. In another bowl, beat together the softened butter, chocolate hazelnut spread and the frangelico, rum or water (just a tablespoon of whatever one you’re using) – I used water for a non alcoholic version.
  3. Now mix in the ground hazelnuts and the egg yolks. Fold in the melted chocolate, then lighten the mixture with a large dollop of egg white – at this point you can beat the mixture as vigorously as you like. Gently fold in the remaining egg white a third at a time, continuing to fold until no egg white is visible in the cake mixture.
  4. Carefully transport the cake mixture into the cake tin, bake for 40 minutes or until the cake is beginning to come away from the sides and a cake tester when inserted into the centre of the cake comes out completely clean without any uncooked batter attached. Leave the cake to cool in the tin completely.
  5. To make the ganache: Place the chopped chocolate in a medium mixing bowl. Heat the cream and golden syrup in a small saucepan until bubbles just begin to appear on the surface and just before it starts to come up to the boil. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and stir with a spatula or wooden spoon until mostly melted. Now add the butter and continue to stir until smooth. Directly place a piece of clingfilm on the top of the ganache and leave it at room temperature for about two hours until spreadable.
  6. Decorate the cake by covering the top and sides with the ganache. Decorate the cake with chopped, toasted hazelnuts and serve. Keep the cake stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Enjoy!

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Vanilla Clotted Cream Fudge

Cornish clotted cream fudge that tastes like fudge from a sweet shop. This fudge has a divine caramelised flavour and an irresistibly creamy texture. 

I wanted to share this fudge recipe in time for the start of the festive season. I make fudge mostly over Christmastime and this clotted cream fudge is a recipe I’m repeatedly asked to make every Christmas.

It’s a delicious and thoughtful gift for family and friends – who wouldn’t love to receive an edible gift as a Christmas present?

This fudge recipe I’m sharing with you today is inspired by my love of Cornish fudge. Cornwall is an idyllic area in the South West of the UK, if you’ve ever visited Cornwall then you’ll know just how amazing the scenery is and how equally special the food is too. If you have sweet tooth then you’ll enjoy all that Cornwall has to offer in terms of cream teas, ice cream and endless fudge flavours to choose from!

It’s been far too long since I last shared a fudge recipe and I knew I had to do something about that. I made this chocolate fudge a while back and since then I’ve had suggestions to share a vanilla version.

You won’t need to use a sugar thermometer to make this fudge, just stir all the ingredients together in a saucepan, bring it up to the boil, then continue to boil the mixture for another 3-5 minutes. Stir it every now and then to make sure the mixture doesn’t burn on the bottom of the pan and pick up too much colour. Once the fudge has turned a light golden colour, this is now your cue to remove the pan from the heat. After the pan is off the heat, you’ll now need to beat the fudge mixture until it becomes matte and is thick (this can take anything from 5-10 minutes to achieve the correct consistency).

I’m not going to lie as this last step does need a fair bit of elbow grease, but it will be worth all the hard work, trust me on that!

I made this fudge again last week ready for Christmas gifts, I like to get organised with my Christmas preparation as I’m usually working up to and during the festive season. This fudge will last in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks and it can also be frozen for up to 3 months, I have now got a batch of fudge in the freezer, well maybe half a batch!

(Makes approx. 40 pieces)

Ingredients:

275g caster sugar

100g golden syrup

1 x 227g tub of clotted cream

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method:

  1. Line a 8 x 8 inch (20 x 20cm) square tin with parchment paper and set aside.
    Place all the ingredients in a large saucepan. Heat gently and stir until all the sugar has dissolved.
  2. Turn the heat up and the bring the mixture up to the boil – occasionally stir the fudge to stop it catching. Allow to boil for 3-5 minutes until it’s turned a light golden colour. Then take straight off the heat – you can check the fudge is ready by using a sugar thermometer. If it has reached 116°C / 240°F then it’s ready. But if you don’t have a thermometer you can drop a small amount of the mixture into a glass of cold water and if a soft ball forms, then the fudge is ready to take off the heat.
  3. Using a wooden spoon, continuously beat the fudge for 5-10 minutes until it is really thick and matte. Spread the fudge into the tin you prepared and lined earlier and then leave it for 30 minutes at room temperature.
  4. Place the fudge in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight until set. Once set, cut the fudge into pieces – this recipe makes approx. 40 pieces of fudge.
  5. The fudge will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for 2 weeks or you can freeze it for up to 3 months if you want to prepare this fudge ahead of time.

Recipe Notes:

  • Be careful as the fudge mixture can bubble quite ferociously and easily cause a painful burn if it comes in contact with skin.
  • I package my fudge pieces in clear gift bags which you can get from many online retailers and then tie a festive ribbon around the top or you could also use a small gift box lined with tissue paper to present your fudge.

Recipe from Rodda’s

Enjoy!

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White Chocolate Cookies

Soft and cake-like cookies filled with white chocolate chips. This is a sponsored post in partnership with Bacofoil®. All views and opinions are my own.

I’m sure everyone is enjoying the return of The Great British Bake Off this year. So far I’ve loved seeing all this years bakers show-stopping creations, however something I’ve noticed is how many baking disasters there have been as a result of bakes sticking to the baking tins and trays.

Although it makes good TV viewing, it’s not something I want to experience in my kitchen. I have had in the past my fair share of this common problem with standard baking papers, until I discovered Bacofoil® Non-Stick Baking Paper.

If you were thinking all baking paper is the same, then it’s time to think again!

Bacofoil® Non-Stick Baking Paper is different to other baking papers I have used, this is because it has an innovative and unique Non-Stick textured surface, with little dimples, which means there is less surface area in contact with the bake so the food bakes evenly and just slides off making cake mess and cookie disasters with the baking papers I normally use a thing of the past.

It is also non-stick on both sides. The baking paper can be used for several batches of the same recipe being baked on the same baking tray/s. Once you’re done with your recipe, all you need to do is throw away. In the past I have used silicone baking mats, however these are usually quite expensive and I find they’re hard to clean properly.

The baking paper is multifunctional too! Not only can it be used to line cake tins and baking trays for savoury or sweet recipes, it can also be used to make tulip muffin cases, to roll out pastry or sugar-paste icing and you can even make a piping bag out of it for drizzling chocolate or icing.

To test out Bacofoil® Non-Stick Baking Paper I baked my favourite bakery-style chocolate chip cookies using delicious white chocolate and vanilla to flavour them. Cookie dough is notorious for being sticky and this cookie dough I made today is no exception, so I felt this was the perfect recipe to test out this product.

When preparing my cookies, the first thing I noticed was I didn’t need any additional preparation to the baking trays other than lining them with the baking paper – as it’s non-stick no extra butter is needed for greasing as I do with standard baking paper.

I waited with anticipation as my cookies baked, but I needn’t have worried as they came out of the oven looking perfect. After allowing my cookies to have a few minutes to cool on the baking tray, I took a spatula and lifted them off the tray with ease. Nothing had stuck, so I declared it a cookie triumph!

When I had finished baking my batch of white chocolate cookies, I pressed a few extra chocolate chips onto the top of each cookie for decoration purpose and then I simply removed the Bacofoil® Non-Stick Baking Paper from my baking trays and discarded it and returned my still clean baking trays to my baking cupboard.

My baking trays were pristine with no greasy marks as the baking paper prevented any of my cookies sticking and me having to use force to attempt to remove them the baking tray and causing a tear in the paper, which could lead to grease or oil seeping onto the baking tray/s making them dirty.

I love the fact it was hassle free and saved me another less enjoyable chore of washing up!

All in all, Bacofoil® Non-Stick Baking Paper has really impressed me and the other bakers in my household, as it’s ideal for all kinds of baking jobs and is super convenient and easy to use. I’m looking forward to using it to create many more tasty recipes!

For more information about Bacofoil® and all of their products, check out their website www.bacofoil.co.uk

(Makes 18-20)

Ingredients:

150g butter (salted or unsalted), softened

80g light brown sugar

80g caster sugar

1 large free-range egg, at room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

225g plain flour

Pinch of salt (add 1/4 teaspoon if using unsalted butter)

1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

200g white chocolate chips, plus extra for decoration

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 190°C / 170°C Fan / 375°F / Gas Mark 5. Cream the butter, brown sugar and caster sugar together until pale and creamy.
  2. Add the egg and the vanilla extract and beat until completely incorporated.
  3. Sift the flour, salt and bicarbonate of soda together over the top of the mixture and gently fold in until a few specks of flour remains.
  4. Now add the chocolate chips and fold them through until evenly distributed throughout the cookie dough.
  5. Cover and chill the dough for 15 minutes (this is an optional step).
  6. Divide the cookie dough into 18-20 equally sized pieces (approx. 40g each), roll into balls between your palms. Evenly spread on two to three large baking trays lined with Bacofoil® Non-Stick Baking Paper (leave a gap between each cookie to allow for spreading).
  7. Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes until they’ve turned a light golden colour. When the cookies come out the oven they will appear under baked, however, as they cool they will firm up.
  8. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking trays for a few minutes. As the cookies cool you can press a few extra chocolate chips on the tops if desired, then gently transport the cookies to a wire rack to finish cooling completely. The cookies will store in an airtight container for up to one week, but they’re best eaten on the day of baking or the day after.

Enjoy!

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Puglia, Italy

Every year, I love sharing a collection of my favourite snapshots from our family summer holiday and this year we headed to Puglia in Italy. This region in the south, usually referred to as the heel of Italy, is a popular destination for Italian holidaymakers but less known to the rest of the world. We only had two weeks to explore Puglia and because it’s a really big region I definitely would’ve liked more time to see everything. I would love to return to Puglia in the future because I had such a brilliant time on my recent trip.

Adriatic sea views in Polignano a Mare

As we do every time we go abroad we stayed in our own private accommodation. It’s worth it for total relaxation and a chance to completely switch off, I prefer it to staying in a hotel because I love the freedom of being able to buy local ingredients and being able to cook, it’s not only my profession, but also one of my main passions in life.

Instead of staying in a villa, this year we were extra adventurous and rented a traditional Puglian trullo in the middle of countryside for our fortnight stay. If you were wondering, trulli are whitewashed stone huts with conical roofs, something this region of Italy is famous for and one of the many reasons tourists want to come and visit Puglia.

Alberobello has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site because of the vast quantity of trulli. We all adored Alberobello, it really is one of the most magical places I’ve ever been to especially when it’s all lit up at nighttime. There are several trulli, some converted into enoteche (wine bars/shops), restaurants, gelaterias and shops selling local produce and souvenirs.

Trulli houses in Alberobello

Whenever I’m visiting a different country I love to embrace and delve into that country’s culture. Every region in Italy has its own cuisine, so it was fun to discover a few foods I hadn’t yet tasted before. The reason I keep coming back to Italy is because of the outstanding cuisine, I cook Italian food like homemade pasta and sauce, gnocchi and risotto on a regular basis so I always feel totally at home whenever I’m in Italy.

Taralli pizzaiola – authentic Puglian olive oil breadsticks flavoured with tomato, paprika and oregano

Our holiday rep, Donatello, provided an amazing welcome pack with an array of goodies including prosciutto crudo (Italian dry-cured ham), sweet and juicy cherry tomatoes, rustic crusty bread (perfect for dipping into olive oil), fresh fruit, coffee, biscuits (paste e latte/Italian milk biscuits – pictured below), Puglian rosé and best of all, fresh buffalo mozzarella which we ate on the day it was made. If you love mozzarella, then you’re in for a treat in Puglia because burrata (mozzarella with a delicious creamy interior) originates from this region.

There really is nothing quite like Italian hospitality, if you’re a foodie then there’s no better travel destination than Italy. Italians are passionate about their food and they want you to enjoy and experience the very best of their cuisine and produce. The fresh fruit and vegetables taste so good because they haven’t travelled far and have usually been grown locally, which makes a huge difference.

Puglian olive oil is recognised for its exceptional flavour, taste and quality. Puglia was one of the first places in Europe to produce totally organic olive oil. Fantastic olive oil means this region also harvests amazing olives and no apéritif is complete without a bowl of olives and taralli, which are crunchy ring-shaped breadsticks and available in various flavours. It’s safe to say I got addicted to these delicious snacks during my holiday. Every time we ventured to the supermarket to stock up on groceries, I picked up another pack and I even took several packets of these home, and I’m going to attempt baking some of my own homemade taralli.

Taralli caserecci are plain olive oil breadsticks – an enjoyable evening snack with marinated olives and a glass of wine

If you love seafood, then Puglia is the place for you because it has miles of coastline along the Adriatic sea. Our favourite pasta dish combines gamberi (prawns/shrimp) with garlic, lemon and fresh chilli/peperoncino. All you need to do is add a little butter and a drizzle of olive oil and serve that with cooked linguine or spaghetti. Simple flavours, but amazingly tasty.

Most regions in Italy have their own pasta and in Puglia, Orecchiette is the signature pasta of the area – it’s the ear-shaped pasta slightly heavier in texture. If you visit the old town in Bari you might see people perched on stalls sitting outside in the streets rolling and shaping this pasta.

focaccia al pomodoro

Focaccia Barese – focaccia al pomodoro / tomato focaccia

Focaccia Barese is a traditional focaccia from this region. I didn’t know this before, but foccacia dough in Bari is made with mashed potato and semolina. Every single piece of focaccia I tasted during my trip was exquisite. Perfectly chewy and crisp around the edges and the tomato topping was gorgeously sweet and lightly flavoured with herbs. If you’re tempted by this, try my recipe for Tomato Parmesan Focaccia!

There were a few foods I didn’t get to try during my trip, but would’ve loved to. Since getting back from Puglia, I was reminded of a traditional Puglian pastry, Pasticciotto, which is a pastry filled with custard. I cannot believe I didn’t get an opportunity to try these as they sound and look like something I would really enjoy. However, I will definitely endeavour to try these on my next visit!

To end this foodie section, I thought I would talk about the incredible gelato. Anywhere you go in Italy you’re guaranteed to taste the best gelato. I particularly enjoyed the fresh and fruity flavours to cool down with during the daytime. During the evening I usually went for something richer like pistachio and nocciola (hazelnut) – this is one of my favourite combinations! The gelato pictured here is from Gelateria Gentile in Alberobello, I highly recommend this shop, the service was wonderful and there’s a fantastic selection of gelato.

The hardest part is deciding which flavour/s you’ll pick!

Strawberry and mango ice cream from Gelateria Gentile in Alberobello

Beach views at Polignano a Mare

Pictured above is Polignano a Mare, which is a town on the coast of Valle d’Itria. The crystal clear blue waters are very inviting and everyone is having fun jumping off the cliffs all day long. Along with Alberobello, this was possibly one of the most “touristy” areas we visited during our trip, but it was still a lovely place to explore and snap some brilliant pictures of the beach.

Flowers on a seaside balcony in Monopoli

Harbour in Monopoli

Monopoli is a highlight from our visit. It was nice to walk around the streets and also to sit back and enjoy a refreshing drink along the seafront in one of the many bars and restaurants.

The harbour is a nice area to stroll around and also the old town streets were perfect to get lost in.

Pretty flowers in Locorotondo

Countryside panoramic views from Locorotondo

Beautiful Bari

For me, Puglia is a region that has the perfect mix of everything, a beautiful coastline, picturesque countryside, lots of history and quaint towns to have a leisurely stroll through. Puglia might just be the your next travel destination if these are all the characteristics you look for in a holiday!

Rundown of my top places to visit during a trip to Puglia:

  • Alberobello – UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996 (the year I was born!), visit Alberobello and experience the famous and unique trulli houses. An absolute must see in Puglia! 
  • Locorotondo – This picturesque town is known for its wine production. The town itself is the main sight, so you might find it pleasant just taking a walk around the streets, capturing some photographs, looking in the shops or even relaxing in one of the cafés and restaurants. There’s also a few churches to look around too. Locorotondo certainly deserves its title ‘Borghi più belli d’Italia‘, one of the most beautiful villages in Italy. Also, as it’s situated on a hill, Locorotondo is a wonderful place to see the stunning panoramic views of the countryside.
  • Monopoli – One of the places we visited on more than a couple of occasions, we enjoyed wandering around the streets and sitting along the seafront. Sit back, relax whilst sipping on an Aperol spritz or a nice chilled glass of wine taking in the stunning sea views
  • Taranto – This is a commercial port and the main Italian naval base. We had just a quick visit here, but if you have more time you can take a look at Castello Aragonese, where parts of the castle date back to 900’s when the Byzantines rule this region of Italy. Also, the National Archaeological Museum of Taranto and Taranto Cathedral are both worth a look around.
  • Ostuni – I thought I would save one of my favourite places in Puglia until last. This is a lovely town to walk around the cobbled streets, known as the “White City” for its white washed walls and is more reminiscent of neighbouring Greece but still showcases pure Italian charm. We purchased a lot of pottery and locally made ceramics here. I have some new beautiful bowls, plates and a utensils jug for my kitchen. Buying ceramics during my travels is one of my favourite things to do as it’s always unique to the area you visit.

trulli in alberobello

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading!

jess

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