Beary-Cute Mini Cupcakes

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Do you have certain foods or snacks that you enjoy purely for the nostalgia factor?

I have a whole list. Most of them I rarely, if ever, consume today. It seems that as children, we were instinctively drawn to food that came in shiny, colourful plastic packets and was stuffed with sugar and fake flavours and colours… they were essentially staples of one’s diet.

As I grew up I turned away from these sugary, salty, colourful confections and instead snacked on things that came in more dull packaging that boasted words like “organic”, “gluten free” and “raw” because they make me feel like a proper adult.

But for the sake of nostalgia, and also to give me something to actually write about in this post, I’ve decided to scour the interwebs and share with you some of my favourite sugary snacks as a young lass.

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HavaHeart ice cream: I was honestly a little surprised that I only found one picture of these on the Internet… maybe they weren’t as popular as I thought. But these heart-shaped, chocolate-coated, vanilla ice-cream bundles of goodness on a stick were the Number 1 way to make a hot summer afternoon even better*. I think if they were shaped like regular ice-cream I probably couldn’t have cared less, but because they were shaped like hearts they were just downright amazing.

*Notice I said “even better” and not “bearable” like I usually would when talking about the hotter months of the year… yes, I actually liked summer when I was a child. Shocking, no?

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Cadbury Roses: Okay, so you were probably expecting more kiddie, colourful, sugary snacks on this list. I mean, Cadbury Roses? Aren’t those a little bit classy for a 5-year-old? Maybe. So I guess I was a rather classy 5-year-old, because I loved these. This bright blue box of chocolates would magically appear on most “grown-up” special occasions – parents’ birthdays, anniversaries, Mothers’ Day, and other such events. The shiny wrappers that clearly differentiated the chocolates were a bonus. Not only were they super pretty, but they allowed me to swiftly avoid the “disgusting” flavours which my 5-year-old self was not fond of, such as strawberry or mint.

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Tinny Teddies: Normal biscuits? Boring. Biscuits shaped like small bears with varying personalities? HECK YES. Tiny Teddies were the ultimate snack of my childhood. I used to pretend that they were going on little adventures into the “cave” (i.e. my mouth) where they would then proceed to scream in terror as they were chomped into a mush. Yes, that’s a bit creepy. Don’t worry, I don’t do that anymore.

Reminiscing about these beary-delicious snacks inspired me to whip up some cupcakes in their honour. Mini-cupcakes, so you can eat three times as much… I mean, because they’re small and cute.

Mini-cupcakes with pieces of dark chocolate in them, to balance out the childishness with a bit of classiness… everyone knows that classy adults love eating dark chocolate, right?

Mini-cupcakes with “Cookies ‘n’ Cream” icing made from crushed Oreos… because each Tiny Teddy might get a bit lonely by itself on each individual cupcake, and will need a friend… even if that friend is an Oreo that’s been crushed into tiny pieces and mixed with sweet buttercream icing to produce an unappetizing gray yet extremely delicious substance.

So the icing was a bit of an experiment, and could maybe do with oh-so-slightly less Oreo… hence why it’s that awkward grey colour. Everyone did seem to like the icing, but for aesthetic reasons you may want to cut back a little. It’s up to you; add as much as you’d like to suit your tastes. Maybe you could try out the choc-filled Oreos or one of the other flavours! That could be fun.

Here is the recipe – bake and enjoy!

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Beary-Cute Mini Cupcakes

½ cup caster sugar
80g butter, softened
1 egg
1 cup self raising flour
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup dark chocolate, chopped

ICING:
80g butter, softened
1 cup icing sugar, sifted
75g Oreos, crushed

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius. Line a 24-hole mini muffin tin with mini cupcake liners.

Beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and creamy. Add the egg, and stir well to combine. Sift in the flour and add the milk, vanilla extract and dark chocolate chunks. Stir well to combine.

Evenly distribute the batter amongst the cupcake cases, and bake for about 15 minutes, until cupcakes are well risen and spring back lightly when touched. Leave to cool fully before icing.

To make the icing, beat the butter and sifted icing sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in the crushed Oreos. Using a knife or a piping bag, ice the cooled Cupcakes. Top each with a Tiny Teddy or some other cute animal-shaped cookie. Maybe even Mini Oreos. That could look nice.

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Spelt Vanilla Coffee Cookies with Pistachios & White Choc Chips

CoffeeVanillaCookies1So I had this random dream not too long ago. In the dream, my friend and I were going to see a movie. We took our seats in the cinema, and I told her to wait right there while I bought some snacks. I went down to the snack bar and had a look at my choices.

There was a small packet of popcorn (I don’t know why it came in a packet) that cost $11. This made me angrier than it should have – I was absolutely infuriated with the injustice! Eleven freaking dollars for a tiny packet of popcorn that’s not even hot or buttered! There was also a packet of some generic-brand lollies that was the same size as the popcorn packet, but this was only $3. Even though they looked really gross and unappetizing I bought that one because it was cheaper. And then a whole bunch of other really random and nonsensical things took place because, well, you know how dreams are.

But anyway, the point I’m trying to make is, movie food is expensive! Even in my dreams I cannot escape from the totally outrageous prices. I think it’s because for some reason, most people can’t watch a movie without eating. For me it’s also commonly a case of, “If we eat dinner beforehand we’ll be late for the movie, therefore we will eat popcorn for dinner.” And then you see almost-full buckets of popcorn just left behind in the cinema. What a waste – of both money and popcorn!

Sure, you could just buy snacks at the grocery store beforehand (assuming you have time, you’re not lazy, and it’s still open) but here’s another option that lets you get creative and ensures that your house will smell delicious upon your return – bake a bunch of cookies at home and smuggle them into the cinema!

And that’s the story behind how these cookies came to be. It was one of those winter afternoons where I was longing to fill my house with the scent of freshly-baked cookies. Of course, I wanted to share them rather than have them sitting in my pantry and tempting me all weekend, so I toted them off to the cinema and saved approximately ten thousand dollars on movie snacks.

So now let’s talk about the cookies themselves! I wanted to use up a few little odds and ends in my pantry and make these cookies a bit “different” (in a good way, hopefully). The cookies themselves are flavoured with vanilla essence as well as some vanilla-infused instant coffee for a double hit of vanilla goodness. The sweetness of the vanilla balanced out the strong coffee flavor which was quite nice. Then it was time to think about mix-ins! I threw in a packet of white choc chips because normal choc-chip cookies are too mainstream (also because I didn’t have any milk/dark choc chips) and half a container of pistachios. Might as well get creative and put them to good use instead of letting them sit around and go to waste!

Also, because I’ve been really into Spelt flour lately, I used that in place of regular flour. I like to think that this made them a little bit healthier, and would justify the fact that a couple of those cookies, along with a handful of popcorn, was essentially my dinner that night. Not that I’d promote cookies as a healthy alternative to dinner on a regular basis. You’ve got to eat your vegetables, people!

Here’s the recipe. If you don’t have vanilla-flavoured instant coffee (I used Moccona brand) then just regular coffee will work just fine.

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Spelt Vanilla Coffee Cookies with Pistachios & White Choc Chips

90g butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon vanilla-infused instant coffee dissolved in 2 tbsp hot water
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 egg
½ cup self-raising flour
½ cup spelt flour
½ tsp of salt
¾ cup white choc chips
¼ cup pistachios

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Grease and line two baking trays.

Beat the butter, vanilla extract, dissolved coffee and sugars with an electric mixer until light and creamy. Sift in the flours and salt and stir in the choc-chips and pistachios.

Drop heaped teaspoons of the dough onto the prepared baking trays, leaving ample space between each cookie (about 2-3cm) so they can spread.

Bake for 12-15 minutes until slightly browned. Leave to set on the trays for 5-10 minutes or until firm, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Gingerbread Snowballs

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Christmas is approaching fast, guys; two more sleeps! YAAAY! And I’m really enjoying the holiday break. Like, it’s Monday today, and it’s the first Monday in just about forever that I didn’t have to wake up at 6 in the morning. Oh sleep, how I have missed you.

So, remember my post from the other day – the Pepparkakor? Yeah, well, I made a lot of that stuff… perhaps even a bit too much. Sure, I’ve given it away to friends and family and work colleagues, but there was still so much left! I decided that it might be fun to find a way to up-cycle some of the excess cookies into something new.

I kept it quite simple – I just took a bunch of cookies, crushed them up and mixed them with condensed milk. Then I added some desiccated coconut for a bit of extra flavor, and coated them in it so that the final product was a bit less sticky to handle.

These little guys are quite sweet and the gingerbread flavour is still very prominent. They taste almost like bits of cookie dough. I’m fairly happy with how they turned out, and I hope you will be too. Enjoy, and happy holidays!

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Gingerbread Snowballs

About 350g crumbled gingerbread cookies
395g can of condensed milk
¼ cup desiccated coconut, plus extra for coating

Combine the crushed cookies, condensed milk and ¼ cup of the desiccated coconut in a large mixing bowl and stir until combined and smooth. Roll tablespoons of the mixture into balls and roll them in some of the extra coconut. Place on a large tray lined with baking paper and store in the fridge for 3 hours or until firm.

Makes about 15 or so snowballs.

Pepparkakor – a Swedish Christmas Delight!

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So, life has been ridiculously hectic this Christmas season. Between college, my internship, and other commitments, I’ve barely had time to immerse myself in all manner of Christmas goodness. Well, I mean, I’ve had a little time. I somehow managed to finish all my Christmas shopping ages ago and even had a spare evening to go Christmas light spotting (which I really must do again quite soon!) And just the other day, I finally got around to baking up a storm. A festive, tasty, gingerbread-y storm.

So for those of you who follow Sneaky Pudding’s facebook page, you may have noticed that I posted a little sneak preview of a recipe I attempted from a Kikki.K catalog – “Pepparkakor”. I absolutely adore Kikki.K and was delighted to find a little recipe hidden amongst the catalog’s pages!

When I actually read over the recipe, I was a little skeptical at first. 8 cups of flour? Um, wow. That’s going to make a tonne of cookies. But I thought, hey, I need to bake up some gifts for people… so instead of just halving the recipe, I decided to attempt the entire thing.

Just a small word of warning to everyone though: when a recipe says to “chill in the fridge overnight”, it generally means overnight. Not “chill in the fridge for over 24 hours while you go to work and then get home super late”. The dough was pretty hard once I got it out of the fridge, although with a little kneading it softened quite nicely.

Then it was time to bake some cookies. It was 10.30 at night, but I was determined.

Two trays of pretty star/angel/gingerbread-man/tree shaped cookies made their merry way in and out of the oven that night. And there was still a mountain of dough left over. By that point, it was approaching midnight and I seriously needed some sleep, so I popped the rest of the dough back in the fridge and decided to call it a night. I baked the rest of the cookies the following evening (a lot earlier in the evening, by the way!) and I’m pretty sure by the end of it I ended up with over 100 cookies. The recipe said 60-70, but my cookie cutters are rather tiny so I ended up with more.

Let me just say that I love this recipe. It may make a ridiculous amount of cookies, but they taste sensational. It’s definitely all the spices – ginger, cloves, cinnamon… seriously, they just taste like Christmas. It’s like putting a slice of Christmas in your mouth. Oh, and they’re quite addictive. Be warned.

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If you want the recipe (of course you do!) click here and enjoy!

Coconut Mocha Cookies

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Do you ever look in the pantry or fridge and just feel a bit guilty for having a whole bunch of cooking or baking ingredients that you never use? Or that you bought for one particular recipe, but only needed a little bit, so there’s a whole box/sack/packet left over? And you really don’t want it to go to waste?

Because that totally happened to me this weekend. Actually, it happens to me quite often, especially with cooking chocolate. Sometimes a recipe only calls for half of one of those big blocks of cooking chocolate, and the rest gets wrapped up and stowed away in the fridge for “next time” you decide to make a chocolatey treat. Of course, when “next time” rolls around, the recipe needs more than that bit you have left in the fridge so you end up just opening a new block.

Well, this recipe is a great way to use up that neglected block of chocolate (as long as it hasn’t been neglected for like, twelve years or something… you might want to have a quick peek at the expiration date, actually) since there’s no set amount of chocolate you have to use – just melt some down and use as much as you desire. It’s fairly quick and easy too, so it’s great for when you get the sudden urge to bestow delicious cookies upon your friends and family… an urge that tends to hit me quite often.

So before I delve into the story of these cookies, it’ time for a fun fact: I suffer from – no, rather, I enjoy – a coffee addiction! Coffee actually has numerous health benefits, and it makes me way easier to deal with during the early hours of the morning. Without my morning (caffeine) fix, I’d probably look and feel like Grumpy Cat for the first six or seven hours of my day.

The other cool thing about liking coffee so much is that I’m always inspired to add a bit of it to otherwise non-caffeinated recipes, giving them an extra flavor kick! That’s exactly what happened with these cookies. I also dipped half of them in some melted dark chocolate (oh look, another addiction of mine) so I could use the word “mocha” in the recipe title (and because I decided it would taste nice, too). The cookies are soft and chewy, with the coffee and coconut flavour coming through nicely – they’re still alright on their own even without dark chocolate. The dark chocolate makes it very rich and indulgent. Ever had a  coconut mocha Frappuccino at Starbucks? It’s a little like that, in cookie form.

And to finish off on a totally random note before sharing the recipe, wow, autocorrect recognises the word Frappuccino! Good job, autocorrect! :D

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Coconut Mocha Cookies

100g unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup caster sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules, dissolved in about 1 tablespoon hot water
½ teaspoon vanilla essence
1 cup plain flour
1 cup desiccated coconut
About 150g of dark cooking chocolate (you may need less or more, depending on how much chocolate you want to coat each cookie in and whether or not you want to leave some plain)

Preheat oven to 160 degrees Celsius. Grease and line two baking trays.

Combine butter, sugar, vanilla and coffee in a large mixing bowl and stir until smooth and well-combined (you may want to use an electric mixer for this). Beat in egg until just combined. Sift in flour and add desiccated coconut, and stir until combined.

Roll tablespoonfuls of the mixture into balls (it will probably be quite sticky – it helps to dampen hands with water when doing this) and place on trays, flattening slightly, making sure to leave plenty of room to spread.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until slightly golden and cooked through. Leave on trays to cool.

When cookies have cooled, melt at least 150g of dark chocolate following packet instructions. Dip half of each cookie in the dark chocolate, using a knife to smoothen. Spread dipped cookies out on several plates and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes for chocolate to set and harden.

Choc Chip Nutella Cookies

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Nutella. Who doesn’t love Nutella? It’s chocolatey, smooth and sweet. Use it for dipping strawberries, spreading on toast… or baking cookies!

I made these a while back, when I had a massive jar of Nutella sitting in my cupboard that wanted to be used up. I generally use Nutella only for baking (and occasionally to take on picnics to dip fruit in… try it! Great picnic dessert) as it’s not really an “everyday” food for me. It’s a little too sweet to spread on toast for breakfast, in my opinion. But it does make some absolutely delectable brownies, cakes and cookies.

When I made these Nutella cookies, it was a fairly cold Sunday afternoon and I was at home working on assignments, but I had a little spare time and I decided I wanted to bake – I didn’t want to spend the entire afternoon doing so, though! Just a quick baking-break to fill the house with the delicious smell of fresh cookies was all I needed. So I decided to whip up some super easy Nutella cookies that use only a few ingredients.

The cookies are absolutely amazing, sweet but not too sweet since no extra sugar is added, only that which is already in the Nutella. Obviously they taste best when enjoyed fresh from the oven, while still warm and soft, but I found that even after being kept in the fridge for a couple of days they were just as good. If you’re a fan of Nutella (of course you are! I shouldn’t have to say “if”)  then get yourself to the kitchen, pull out that giant jar of Nutella you’ve been hiding (don’t lie, I know you have one, stashed away in a secret spot just for you, so you can indulge in a spoonful or two whenever you feel lonely) and get baking!

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Nutella Choc-Chip Cookies

1 cup Nutella
½ cup plain flour
1 egg
1/3 cup milk choc chips
1 tsp vanilla essence
a pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 176 degrees Celsius. Lightly grease a large baking tray.
Place Nutella, egg, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Sift in flour and salt, and stir until combined. Stir in the choc chips.
Roll tablespoonfuls of the dough into balls and place on the prepared tray, flattening slightly. Bake for about 10-12 minutes.
When taken out of the oven they should look fairly cooked / slightly cracked; they will still be soft, so let them cool on the tray until set, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely (if you don’t eat them all while still warm, that is!)

Salted Mocha and White Choc Chip Cookies

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I can’t believe it’s July! We’re already halfway through the year. It always seems like the first couple of months go slowly – the warm summer days drag on and I long for the cold, frosty bliss of winter. Then it’s winter, which I typically spend shivering in the cold dreaming of the warm sunny days that I was wishing away earlier in the year.

The year has flown by so quickly, and I’m currently in an ever-increasing state of excitement (and slight panic) because pretty soon I too will be doing some flying. Yes, next Thursday I shall be prancing off to South America to take part in World Youth Day! It’s my first time overseas, and I’m looking forward to it immensely!

I don’t know whether or not this will be my last post before I head off (although knowing my laziness, it probably will be) so I’d like to share these delicious Salted Mocha and White Choc Chip cookies with you all. I baked these the other night (and managed to beat the temptation to consume an entire tray while they were still warm from the oven! Go me!) – they’re based on a recipe from the Cadbury Kitchen website. Ever since the success of the cake I made for my Mum’s birthday, I’ve come to like that site and many of those recipes have made their way onto my to-bake list.

Originally, I was going to do Salted Caramel Mocha cookies (inspired by the Salted Caramel Mocha from Starbucks which was available for a limited time last year) using caramel chips instead of choc chips, but the caramel chips were past their best-before date by a few months, so I opted for white choc chips instead; they’re still pretty sweet, balancing out the sea salt and the strong cocoa/coffee flavor of the cookies. Enjoy!

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Salted Mocha and White Choc Chip Cookies
Adapted from Cadbury Kitchen

125g unsalted butter
½ cup brown sugar
⅓ cup caster sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules, dissolved in 2 tablespoons hot water
1½ cups of self raising flour
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup cocoa powder
½ cup of white choc chips
Sea salt, for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celcius. Lightly grease two large baking trays.

Whist the butter and sugars together until pale and creamy. Add egg, vanilla essence and coffee, and whisk until smooth. Sift in flour, cocoa powder and cinnamon, and stir with a wooden spoon until well combined, then stir in the white choc chips.

Drop tablespoons of the dough onto the baking trays, spaced well apart, and flatten slightly. Sprinkle a little
sea salt on the top of each cookie. Bake each tray for 15 minutes or until the biscuits appear cooked. Cool on the tray for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Or, you know, you could just eat them all while they’re still warm, ’cause that’s way more awesome than sharing them. Mmmmm.