Saturday, 28 February 2015

Coconut Cake

I absolutely adore coconut, I once made a coconut cake for my nan's birthday and my cousin and I ate the cake in one day and my nan only had one slice. I quickly realised that if I want to bake a coconut cake, I would have to stick to loaf cakes or cupcakes as I can't be trusted to make a whole coconut cake and restrain any will power. That is until now. The lovely people at Baking Mad kindly offered me a selection of baking ingredients to make a recipe from their website. I'm quite familiar with Baking Mad's Twitter page, but having a nose on their website, I was pleasantly surprised that they also have a number of recipes which are diverse. The Baking Mad website have a range of recipes such as granola recipes (my fave is their gorgeous granola recipe) and their smoothie recipes (love their breakfast smoothie) which I plan on making and sharing the outcome on my social media sites.
Now back to the cake, this coconut cake is described as "deliciously moist coconut cake, perfect for an afternoon tea or a coffee morning". I'll have to add to that, it's also perfect for lazy weekend treats, after-work picks me up, even breakfast (with a strong cup of coffee), that's if it last that long of course.
 I was initially quite surprised of the length of time that the cake has suggested to be baked, an hour and a half for a coconut cake, I thought was very long. Not being the best with patience, I turned up the gas oven to gas mark 4 and was able to bake this cake 1.10 minutes. The cake was incredibly light, moist, flavoursome, rich and delicious. A flavour explosion in my mouth and one which, as expected did not last particularly long.
Here is how my Coconut cake turned out:
Coconut cake

Coconut cake

Coconut Cake in the making. 

Coconut Cake in the making. 

Coconut Cake pre bake.

Coconut Cake baked. 

Coconut Cake baked. 

Recipe for the Coconut Cake can be found by following the link.

Disclaimer: I received a selection of items from Baking Mad, I was not required to write a positive review, as always all opinions are my own.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

MSC Divina and Caribbean islands

I love reminiscing about holidays and all the memories that I have, good and bad. I recently went on a cruise, this was my second cruise but my first big cruise. Back in 2012 I went on a mini P & O cruise to Belgium and Guernsey. But this cruise,  by MSC, for those who want to know stands for (Mediterranean Shipping Country) I visited numerous Caribbean islands. I said adios to the West Midlands and Ola to the East and West Caribbean islands: Jamaica, Cayman Islands, Cozumel, Mexico, Bahamas, Miami, St Marten, Puerto Rico and Grand Turk. 
What I did not realise at the time of booking is that MSC cruises is an Italian cruise line, so there was lots of Italian food, which during week 1 is fabulous, not so great for week 2. There are seated allocation for the two main restaurants on board MSC Divina: The Black Crab and Le Muse. There were several other speciality restaurants including Eataly steakhouse and Ristourante Italia. These speciality restaurants came at a cost, the same as a normal a la carte restaurant so, in my opinion did not represent value for money.
As time is of the essence, I was in two minds on what to review on my blog, should I review every island and my experience there and bypass my experience on the cruise. Or should I share my experience on MSC cruise and limit the time given to the beautiful Caribbean islands. I've come up with a wonderful solution to this, which is share the food on the cruise ship, alongside food whilst visiting the islands. With the occasional beach snap just for good measure.
Here are some of my favourite dishes served on MSC Divina. These include: waffles, scrambled eggs and bacon for breakfast, spaghetti cabonara, chicken and ribs, smoked salmon and bagels.

Food MSC Divina

Food MSC Divina

Food MSC Divina

Of course, the whole idea of cruises is to visit different places during one holiday and on this cruise, wake up in a different place every day. I had to go traditional when in Jamaica and when I visited the popular fast food chain Island Grill ordered jerk chicken, rice and peas, fried festival and salad. A trip to the Grand Cayman, I decided to continue with somewhat of a traditional theme ordering jerk chicken wraps instead of the burgers that were on offer. 
Jerk chicken

Chicken wraps

Cayman coconuts
I've held a strong view of what Mexican food is like and what better way of trying traditional Mexican fare by ordering a Mexican platter in Mexico. My Mexican platter consisted of steak, chicken, fish, tortillas, guacamole and a spicy habernero sauce on the side.
Mexican platter

The Bahamas, Great Stirup Cay was a private island and the food served on this island was provided by the catering staff on the cruise ship. I do wish there was an opportunity to sample traditional Bahamian food, but unfortunately it was not to be.
The following day, I had a culinary delight in Miami. Visited a restaurant in Little Havana to have some cappuccino to keep up my strength, followed by a trip to Buba Gump shrimp company. Anyone who has watched Forest Grump will know the history of the link between Buba Gump shrimp company and the film.

Fried chicken, mash potato and corn on the cob.

Next up St Marteen the half French and half Dutch island. I visited Big Woodside Grill, beachfront restaurant. The restaurant menu consisted lots of lobster specials which as much as I love, felt was a bit too indulgent for lunch so I chose the more familiar BBQ chicken with rice and salad.

BBQ chicken with rice
The penultimate island stop was Puerto Rico. Due to a delay in the excursion times, there was insufficient time to visit a restaurant for lunch. I did manage to quickly buy the most amazing chicken empanada for 2 dollars.

Grand Turk Coconut

Grand Turk

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Rocky Road cake

Am very pleased to share that my Rocky Road Cake was voted third in a chocolate competition by Gourmadize. Here is the link As it is one of my favourite cakes, thought i'd re-post the blog for you all to enjoy :-)

It was recently my birthday and I am another year older. I'm all for celebrating birthdays, especially my own with a delicious, over the top chocolate cake. I decided on making a three layered rocky road chocolate cake and each layer to be topped with chocolate ganache and the cake to be decorated by various chocolate and sweets. I  was in an extravagant mood so decided to add dessicated coconuts for extra texture and flavour, although this did not come through as the chocolate flavour took over.
Here is how my birthday cake turned out:
Inside my Rocky Road cake

I topped the cake with mini eggs, marshmellows, coconut and Jamaican rum truffles, the perfect chocoholic treat.

My cake complete

Slice of my cake.
The marshmellows expanded and melted during the bake which left a lovely brown coloured tint within each layer.
Cake with coconut topping.

Ingredients for cake

Mixture for Rocky Road cake
Mixture for Rocky Road cake stirred

For the Cake

240g butter
240g sugar
240g self raising flour
5 eggs
110 mascaporne
55g coco
1tsp baking powder
85g digestive biscuits
75g chocolate honeycomb balls
2 bounty bars
75g marshmellows

For the decoration
30g marshmellows
a packet of mini chocolate eggs
a packet of rum truffles
3 packets of chocolate fingers


Preheat the oven to 180c, Gas Mark 4. Oil the base of the tins with a little oil and line with grease proof paper or baking parchment.

Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until pale and fluffy. Add the mascarpone and stir through a little, then add half the flour and beat well for a couple of minutes until well combined. Fold in the marshmallows, maltesers, crushed biscuits and chocolate chips. If the mixture looks a little stiff, add the milk or water and mix together.

Divide the cake mixture between the tins and bake in the oven for about 25-30 minutes, or until the cakes are cooked and spongy to the touch when pressed lightly with a finger.

Meanwhile, make the icing. Put the butter in a large bowl and beat very well, then add the icing sugar and milk and mix well. Gradually add the melted chocolate, stirring all the time, then fold in the creme fraiche until well combined. Set aside.

Once the cakes are ready, take the tins out the oven and leave to cool. When completely cool, take them out of the tins. Put a blob of the icing onto a serving plate and place the cake on top of the icing. Now spread some icing over the cake and place the other sponge on top. Spread the rest of the icing over the whole cake to cover. Scatter the extra marshmallows, malted chocolate balls and chocolate chips over the top and sides of the cake and serve.

I am sharing this fabulous cake to a number of challenges in April 2015. The first is Tea Time Treats hosted by Karen from Lavendar and Lovage and Janie from The Hedge Combers. This months theme is chocolate and as you can see my cake certainly qualifies.

Dom from Belleau Kitchen is hosting a new blogging challenge Simply Eggcellent, this is the second month of the challenge and this months theme is chocolate. My rocky road cake is a chocolicious treat for anyone.

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