Red velvet and blueberry muffins

13 copy

Helllooooo :)! 

So many things happening at the moment! But of course I want to take a moment to bake something this week as well :)! This week I made red velvet and blueberry muffins. Red velvet muffins have been popping up more and more the recent years – so you might think ‘oh no – she did not get into this trend as well…’. However, for me there are lots of good memories and stories connected to red velvet cake or muffins.

1

Let me begin at the beginning (I feel a bit like Ted from How I Met Your Mother right now – if you have watched it haha), ‘it all started on shortly before my eighteenth birthday (which is almost 2 years ago…)’. Because turning 18 feels a bit more special than your average birthday, I wanted to celebrate it by having a ‘fancy’ dinner with cocktails and cake with my friends. I was very lucky – because in June an awesome friend from the USA had arrived in Amsterdam and was staying with us for a couple of months, while doing graphic design work for a company in Amsterdam (yes – he is doing what I would love to do after my degree – so he is a great source of inspiration). Let’s call him by his name haha, Seth. 18Seth was very excited to help me out with my birthday party and a brilliant source of enthusiasm for every single detail of the dinner. We created cocktails together, he designed my menu’s, we got things to decorate everything (within a colour scheme).And he introduced me to red velvet cake. I had never had red velvet cake before, and did not know what was so ‘special’ about it besides being bright red. Nevertheless, Seth convinced me to try Jamie Oliver‘s recipe for Red Velvet Cupcakes (making it into a cake instead of muffins) to have as my birthday cake (he had brought Jamie’s America with him as a gift). And this cake turned out to be divine – my friends loved it. The rest of my cocktail party was amazing as well – I could not have wished for a better way to celebrate my 18th birthday – so once again: Thank you, Seth!!19

I also made this cake when my family came over for my birthday
– and it was literally g
one within 5 minutes (due to my slow slicing of the cake haha). So a pretty good cake you would say. I am not finished with my red velvet muffin story though (sorry – you might just want to scroll down to today’s recipe haha).

A couple of weeks after my birthday, I went to Canada to be a nanny. And when I came back I only had two months before leaving to Sydney. One of the first things when I came back from Canada was the question from one of my friends when I would make red velvet cake again – and I had to promise I would make it before I headed off again. So fair enough, when I had a goodbye-dinner a couple of days before I left, it was very easy to decide what to have for dessert: red velvet cake (but in the shape of a koala this time!) 15 16 Even though, the celebrating had more of a sad nature this time – the cake was delicious, helped a lot and the dinner was very nice! (And yes – got a koala hat to keep me warm in Sydney hihi)

Done yet? No – sorry, almost though! In my first year in Sydney, I asked my new friends if they ever had had red velvet muffins. And they told me that they hadn’t and asked me what is so special about them. Hmm… I actually found it hard to answer this question. For me, they obviously have a lot of memories connected to them. But they themselves are really nice as well. So let me try to describe them. They are very light in texture (velvet-like haha) and have a subtle but strong enough chocolate flavour to them. They are just really good, just try them haha – too hard to explain. And the same I did for my new friends – I decided just to make them, so they could experience them for themselves. They really enjoyed them too and so did my housemates.

Later, they were also one of the first bakes I made when I got together with Nic – and he really enjoyed them as well. Every time I made the muffins in Sydney, I got jealous messages from my friends in Amsterdam – demanding that I would make them as soon as I was back (I did also give them a recipe – but apparently they were much better when I made them haha – no I am not bragging). So when I was back in Amsterdam in February, we had a dinner in the last weekend before I left for which everyone made something. And I made my red velvet muffins again. They turned out really good and were yummy with the icing I made as well. The few there who had not tried them before (some of which a bit sceptical maybe of the red colour), enjoyed them as well. 17

Now, this week. Why make them this week?
Well, you can obviously make them any week, since they are pretty divine.But this week is a good week to post them onto my blog since it is in the middle of the birthdays of two really good friends in Amsterdam, Inge and Marike (with whom I can be crazy at home and maybe a bit more civilized at the airport haha)20
Inge’s birthday was last Friday – she had a fancy dinner this time and I got to be the designer designing her menu this time 🙂 which was a fun experience. But unfortunately I could of course not attend her dinner. Marike’s birthday is this Saturday and clearly I cannot celebrate it physically with her either. So therefore I decided to devote this post to them – wishing them an amazing, wonderful and awesome birthday and promising to make them red velvet muffins as soon as possible.

8

I did tweak my recipe a bit this time – altering it a bit more from the Jamie Oliver recipe. I added blueberries. Why? Because I really like blueberries and especially in light-textured cakes they make an awesome addition to my opinion. I also thought the blueberry and chocolate combination would work well, and the colour contrast would be cool! And of course, I like to experiment with recipes. So here you go. They actually turned out even better than I expected. The blueberries are an amazing addition and lift the red velvet muffins to the next level (is there a level about divine? Maybe galaxy-like haha?). If you want to have the pure red velvet muffin experience first, just leave the blueberries out. I used frozen ones, but I am sure fresh blueberries would work as well.

11

So, one more thing to address before I give you the recipe. Easter. Happy Easter to you first of all. And secondly, these muffins will keep Nic and me company on our road trip to my family in Mildura – where we are going for easter. I am very excited to see them all (and the cats and the new dog Moca) and really like that Nic is coming with me. The road to them is long though – about 1000km. So let’s hope that these muffins will make the trip a bit more bearable haha.

 

 

14 6I love the red colour – just so bright and happy!
9 102Bright colours – happy days! 
3

Well, enough of my stories today. I hope you can make your own stories with these muffins and I would love to hear them! Enjoy!

5

Red velvet and blueberry muffins

Makes 15 muffins or one large cake

  • 90g butter
  • 240g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • pinch of salt
  • 4.5 tbsp red food colouring
  • 4 heaped tbsp good quality cocoa powder
  • 260g flour
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk (or make your own by combining 3/4 cup of milk (can by diary-free milk – I used soy milk today) with 3/4 tsp of white wine vinegar)
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 2 1/4 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 2 cups frozen blueberries
  1. Preheat the oven to 175°C. Line a muffin tin with muffin paper cups.
  2. Beat butter and the sugar by hand or with an electric mixer until light and fluffy and well mixed. Slowly add the egg and beat until everything is well incorporated. Add the salt and red food colour until you have a lovely bright red mixture.
  3. Slowly pour in half the butter milk and beat until well mixed. Fold in half the flour and mix everything well. Mix in the rest of the buttermilk and afterwards, fold the rest of the flour into the mixture. Beat until you have a smooth and even mixture.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine the baking soda and vinegar. Whisk it and it will fizz up. Add it to the batter and mix until well combined.
  5. Quickly rinse the frozen blueberries (do not thaw them before using them) and coat them lightly in flour. Add them to the batter and fold them in.
  6. Divide the batter over the muffin tins – bake for 30 – 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean (it can come out a bit red because of the food colouring and if you prick into a blueberry, your toothpick will be wet, obviously – so keep that in mind when checking).
  7. Leave the muffins in the tin for 5 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack to let them cool completely (although they are yummy warm as well).
  8. Optional: after they have completely cooled down, you can cover them in frosting – you can use any recipe (with cream cheese or just butter), all work well!

12 4

Advertisements

Flourless Chocolate and Pear Muffins

IMG_1552

Hi there! Firstly, sorry that it took me longer than I wanted to post up these muffins. I made them almost a week ago, but life was just too full to put them up. I hope the taste will make up for it ;). The weeks are getting busier and busier with university assessments and also my volunteering for the cookbook. All very exciting, but sometimes a bit intense. So that is one of the reasons why I really needed a weekend away. Last weekend, my lovely boyfriend, Nicolas, and I went camping in Coolendel. This is a campsite about 3 hours away from Sydney, but you have the feeling you are in the middle of nowhere – perfect for getting away from the rush of the city. I wanted to bring something baked to enjoy on our little trip. Something that was easy to bring, tasty, yummy and good. IMG_1542At the moment, pears are in season, so I decided to do something with pears, and (why not?!) chocolate. I looked at different recipes, scones, cakes, muffins. And decided in the end to use a BBC Good Food recipe as the base of my recipe. The recipe is a cake, but I figured muffins are easier to have ‘on-the-go’. I increased the chocolate a bit and used less butter – they turned out really good! They were a lot lighter than I had expected. Maybe my pear-bits were a little big, because the muffins did tend to fall apart a bit. They were nevertheless very tasty and a good camping treat :)! IMG_1546

 

Besides the tasty muffins, we had other treats at the campsite as well – wallabies, wombats and iguana’s! We got to pet one of the wombats, when we went for a late night walk. The first wombat we spotted ran away when we tried to approach it – so we let it be, since we didn’t want to stress it out. But the second one (our friend 🙂 ) stood still, a bit nervous-looking, but as soon as we started to pet its back, the wombat completely relaxed, dropped its shoulders and started eating grass. That was a very awesome and cute experience :)! We also went swimming in the river on the campsite, which was very cold. After a while, when I got used to the cold, it was a lot of fun! And the sun was shining enough to later dry you, if you were standing on a sunny spot. So all in all, it was a really good weekend – with an awesome campfire, cool wildlife and delicious muffins – hopefully we’ll get to do it again soon :)! But for now, this is the recipe for my flourless chocolate and  pear muffins! Let me know if you like them – and what you would take as a camping baked treat!

IMG_1551 copyFlourless chocolate and pear muffins

Makes 11 muffins

  • 85g hazelnuts, roasted and ground in a foodprocessor*
  • 60g butter
  • 85g brown caster sugar
  • 100g dark chocolate (I used 90%)
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 3 ripe pears, peeled and chopped into smaller cubes
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C. And line your muffin tin with muffin paper cups. IMG_1544 copy
  2. Melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl over a pan of hot water, remove from the heat, and leave to cool.
  3. Whisk the egg yolks with the sugar in a large bowl until pale and thick; fold into the chocolate with the hazelnuts
  4. In a separate bowl, with a clean whisk (I would use an electric whisk if you have one – I tried (okay, I have to admit that it was late at night and I was tired from kick boxing) to do it by hand, but decided to go for the electric whisk instead) , beat the whites until they reach a soft, but stiff peak. Stir a spoonful of the whites into the chocolate mix, then carefully fold in the rest of them in 2 additions.
  5. Fold in the pear pieces. Divide the batter over the prepared muffin cups. Bake for 30 minutes, until the pears are soft and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Make sure you check every now and then within the 30 minutes. Leave to cool in the tin slightly before transferring the muffins to a rack to cool completely. You can definitely eat them warm as well, but the pears will be very hot. And I liked them more when they were cold!

IMG_1550 copy*To roast the hazelnuts, place them for about 8 -10 minutes at 180C in the oven. Afterwards, let them cool down completely. Try to get rid some of the hazelnut skin. Place the nuts in a foodprocessor and process until you get a fine meal. My hazelnuts were still a little coarse, which gave a nice texture in my opinion, with the surprise of a bigger piece of hazelnut from time to time. But if you want a softer, smoother texture, I recommend processing them until they look more like flour than small breadcrumbs!

Poppy Seed and Nut Brownies

Hello there! How has your week been? 

Poppy seed and nut brownies

My week has been crazy – busy, stressful, difficult, challenging, but also exciting, fun and rewarding. Last week, my second year of my degree started. So I am in week two now, and already have an assessment due tomorrow!! They give me no time to get into studying again, haha, just straight away – full on! Which is good as well, since I am terrible at ‘doing nothing’. It makes me quite restless, so having lots to do is better for me. Except for the stressing factor, that I already have experienced a lot lately. Maybe not the best week to do another bake you may say? Well, I have to do something to clear mind as well, right?

So this week, I have decided to make brownies. I am sure I don’t have to give any reason to make brownies – I mean I have never met someone who did not enjoy them. But I do have a couple of reasons 🙂 (to make the brownies even better haha). Firstly, chocolate contains several good chemicals that make you happy (tryptophan and phenylethylalanine) and a stimulant (theobromine) to help you relax and wake up. So if you’re stressful and battered out, chocolate is your best friend :).IMG_1511 Another reason for the brownies this week, is that I think they are a good food to celebrate! And I have some things to celebrate! I finished my first assessment without last minute work (which feels a bit nerve wrecking and a bit good haha). But my other reason to celebrate is more exciting, and needs a bit of explanation. At my university, there is a student association. They do many different things, but one of them is that they make a cookbook each year, for the students, full of students’s own recipe. A lot of volunteers work together to make this cookbook. And this semester they were (amongst other positions) looking for a volunteer Graphic Designer. So I applied, since this would be an awesome opportunity to learn a lot and improve my skills! My interview was last week, and this Monday I got to know that I am the Graphic Designer for this year’s cookbook :)! So more work for me haha, but I am excited to dive into this project. I have lots more to learn, so bring it on! I’ll keep you posted on how the cookbook is going 🙂

Enough talking, more baking, more brownies.

For the brownies, I choose Delia Smith’s Four Nut Chocolate Brownie recipe. Her brownies are absolutely divine already (so you can also decide to stop reading here and just go for herrecipe haha). I adapted the recipe a bit – I used only three kinds of nuts and added poppy seeds. I love poppy seeds, but always seem to forget about them. So I figured, let’s try if they go well with chocolate! And of course, I added a bit of cinnamon, how could I resist that? They came out sweet, gooey, chocolatey, nutty – just yummy.

IMG_1485

I have to give you Delia’s advice before starting the brownies: ” You need to get into the brownie mood, and to do this stop thinking ‘cake’. Brownies are slightly crisp on the outside but soft, damp and squiggly within. ” So now you know this, bring on your brownie mood and enjoy!

Poppy Seed and Nut Brownies

Makes a lot of brownie – easily divided into 20 good squares.

  • 140 g nuts (can be any kind you like – I used walnuts, hazelnuts and almonds)
  • 80 g dark chocolate (preferably 75% cocoa solids or more)
  • 130 g butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 250 g brown sugar
  • 75 g flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup poppy seeds
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Line the tin you want to make your brownies in with baking paper (any shape will do, I had one cake loaf tin and one round one).
  2. Place the nuts on a baking sheet with baking paper. Roast them in the oven for 8 – 10 minutes. Keep an eye on them – you don’t want them to burn!! IMG_1487
  3. After the nuts are done, set them aside in a bowl to cool down.In the meanwhile, combine the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Make sure that the bowl does not touch the water. Allow the chocolate and butter to melt and then beat until smooth.IMG_1488
  4. Remove the chocolate mixture from the heat and into a large mixing bowl. Add the eggs and whisk until combined.
  5. Add flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon and stir with a wooden spoon until just combined.
  6. Chop up the nuts roughly (not too small) and fold them, together with the poppy seeds, into the brownie mixture. IMG_1495
  7. Spread the mixture evenly into the prepared tin. Bake the brownies for 20 – 25 minutes in the oven or until it is slightly springy in the centre.
  8. Leave the brownies in their tin for 10 minutes, before cutting them into squares and transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely (or before you pop these warm and gooey brownies in your mouth). I hope you like them!

IMG_1509 IMG_1510