Master homemade chocolate chip cookies with this simple recipe. You’ll love the crisp outside and chewy centre!
Finding the perfect chocolate chip cookie can be a difficult task for many bakers to master. But don’t fret, I have this easy chocolate chip cookie recipe ready to share with you just in time for the start of the festive season. Everyone has their idea of the perfect cookie, but if you’re a fan of crispy, yet soft and chewy textured cookies, then you’ve come to the right place.
You can never have enough chocolate chip cookie recipes in your life. I’ve already shared a basic CCC recipe with you and I wanted to share this new recipe I recently discovered and ended up thoroughly enjoying because of its ease and amazing taste.
As soon as these cookies leave the oven you’ll be reaching for one almost straight away! There is nothing more tempting than the aroma of a freshly baked cookie!
But hold on, before you go ahead and devour the cookies, for a pretty presentation that’s easy on the eyes as soon as the cookies have finished baking and are out of the oven I like to press a few extra chocolate chips on the tops. The reason for this is sometimes when you’re rolling the cookie dough you can’t choose how the chocolate chips are dispersed, so to guarantee every cookie has a generous helping of chocolate I decorate the top of each cookie with even more chocolate chips.
I also thought I’d share some of my tips for freezing and making the cookie dough in advance. Rolled cookie dough freezes well in a sealed sandwich/ziplock bag for up to 3 months. The perks of having cookie dough in the freezer is you can bake how ever many cookies you want ready for unexpected guests or for when a craving for cookies strikes! When you’re ready to bake the frozen cookies just take how ever many you want out, then once your oven has heated up all you’ll need to do is to bake the cookies for a couple of extra minutes more than the recipe states.
Lastly, if you have ever had any problems occur when baking cookies, below I’ve rounded up some of my top tips, which I hope you’ll find helpful.
Tips For Baking Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies:
Always use room temperature butter. I use room temperature butter in most recipes, having the butter nice and soft will make creaming it easier. I tend to leave my butter out at room temperature for one hour before using, however, in the summer months when it gets really hot it doesn’t take that long to soften up! To test your butter is soft enough and ready to bake with, it should still be cool to the touch, but when pressed using little pressure your finger will leave an indentation. Please don’t be tempted to microwave butter to soften it!
Use two different types of chocolate. I love all kinds of chocolate, so I like to use a mix of dark and milk chocolate in my cookies. You’ll love the rich, slightly bitter flavour of the dark chocolate in contrast to the creamy, sweet milk chocolate.
I’ve found since testing out several cookie recipes that chilling the cookie dough for a length of time isn’t always necessary. I don’t personally believe it changes the flavour too much, only the texture very slightly. Chilling will produce a slighter thicker cookie, but not much more than that. I like that this recipe only requires an optional 15 minutes chilling time, which is great over the busy holiday period! I’ve baked many cookie recipes which have suggested the dough should be chilled for a minimum of 24 hours, however, there’s never been any instruction on what you do when you need to roll the dough ready for baking, as after overnight chilling it’s usually rock hard and impossible to roll.
Try shaping the cookies by hand. I used to use an ice cream scoop, however, I now prefer to individually divide and then roll the dough into balls, shaping between my palms to get a nice round shape.
You’ll be able to tell the cookies are ready as they’ll brown slightly around the edges. Cookies often appear uncooked, however under baking is the secret to a soft centre.
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 chocolate chips (I use a mix of dark and milk chocolate chips and chunks), plus extra for decoration
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.
Add the egg and the vanilla extract and beat until completely incorporated.
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.
Now add the chocolate chips and fold them through until evenly distributed throughout the cookie dough.
Cover and chill the dough for 15 minutes (this is an optional step).
Divide the cookie dough into 24 equally sized pieces, roll into balls between your palms. Evenly spread on two to three large baking trays lined with parchment paper or silicone baking mats (leave a gap between each cookie to allow for spreading).
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.
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.
Crunchy granola with flaked almonds, dried cranberries and creamy white chocolate chips. A sweet breakfast or snack to pack up and take to work with you.
I’m constantly on the search for new granola recipes. Granola is something I often bake, not just for my blog, but I will try to make it almost weekly if I get the chance.
Lately I’ve been going back to older granola recipes I have shared on previous occasions and I’ve been updating a few of those recipes. I based this new granola on my favourite vanilla almond granola, which I add a whole tablespoon of vanilla extract. I’m fully aware that all of our taste buds are completely different from one another, so feel totally free to adjust the amount of vanilla in this recipe to your own taste.
My latest granola marries flaked/slivered almonds with dried cranberries and white chocolate chips. Another addition I like to add to my granola is ground cinnamon, I absolutely can’t get enough of the warming spice flavour especially during autumn or wintertime. Again, if you don’t enjoy spices you can omit the cinnamon and if you’re not a fan of dried cranberries you can swap those for a different dried fruit instead, you could also choose to leave them out entirely or add even more chocolate chips.
So you’re wondering, how is this granola made? It couldn’t be simpler, grab yourself a large mixing bowl and give the oats, almonds and ground cinnamon a good mix together. In a small saucepan, gently heat together honey or maple syrup with oil and vanilla. Add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until moistened. Transport the granola mixture to a large lined baking sheet/tray and leave your oven to do the rest of the hard work.
After allowing the granola to cool, the last step is adding the dried fruit and the chocolate chips. It’s important to remember to add the chocolate chips after the granola has finished baking and has cooled otherwise the chocolate will melt!
This granola is fantastic as it requires minimal effort and the result is divine, toasty deliciousness. I’m not sure why I ever bought pre-made granola in the first place as it’s pumped full of odd ingredients (most of which I can’t even pronounce), has more fat and sugar added than needed and doesn’t taste anywhere near as good as homemade does.
I love keeping a jar of this on the kitchen countertop, sprinkle your homemade granola on ice cream or Greek yoghurt and top with fruit or simply just serve it with milk of your choice. If you’re on the lookout for some edible Christmas gifts then I think this granola will make a tasty present for someone special at Christmas, pop the freshly baked granola into jars and tie with ribbon for a sweet gift.
200g (2 cups) old-fashioned/rolled oats
100g (1 cup) flaked or slivered almonds
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
75ml (5 tablespoons) honey or maple syrup
75ml (5 tablespoons) vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
80g (2/3 cup) dried cranberries
100g (1/2 cup) white chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 150°C / 130 Fan / 300°F / Gas Mark 2.
Weigh the oats out into a large mixing bowl along with the almonds and mix together with the cinnamon (if using).
In a small saucepan, gently heat together the honey/maple syrup, oil and vanilla until warmed. Don’t boil this mixture.
Stir together the honey/maple syrup mixture with the oats until moistened. Spread the granola out evenly on a large lined baking sheet/tray and bake for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, give it a stir and return the granola to the oven for a further 15 minutes. After the second lot of 15 minutes is up, again remove the granola from the oven and give it a stir. Pop the granola back in the oven for another 15 minutes more to finish baking. (Granola will have baked for a total of 45 minutes before it’s ready.)
Once the granola has finished baking, take it from the oven and leave it to cool. As it cools, it will get crisp, once cooled completely stir through the dried cranberries and white chocolate chips. This granola will store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
Use old-fashioned/rolled oats to make this granola, unfortunately porridge oats will not work as the consistency is too powdery.
This time I used vegetable oil to make the granola, however, I sometimes make this granola with rapeseed oil, but coconut oil can also be used in this recipe. Honey could be substituted with maple syrup.
If you prefer, you can swap the cranberries for more almonds or chocolate chips. The white chocolate chips could be switched for dark or milk chocolate chips instead.
The baked granola will store in an airtight container or a jar for up to a fortnight (2 weeks).
Crispy cereal treats made using Chocolate Flavour Marshmallow Mateys. This is sponsored content.
Chocolate crispy treats have been one of my favourite recipes to make since I was little and had first stepped into the kitchen. My mum would always allow my sister and I to make crispy treats as they’re easy and fun to make. These chocolaty treats are great to make with kids because the ingredients don’t cost too much and don’t require any need to switch on an oven. The latter of which is always convenient in summertime when it’s too hot and all you want to prepare is no-bake recipes.
I recently received a few Malt-O-Meal cereals to taste test and create a recipe with. Included were Marshmallow Mateys, Chocolate Marshmallow Mateys and Waffle Crisp. I’ve tasted all three cereals I was sent and they were all really wonderful in their own way. The Marshmallow Mateys and Chocolate Marshmallow Mateys consist of cereal puffs and have rainbow coloured marshmallows added. The Waffle Crisp cereal tasted exactly like crunchy mini waffles soaked in maple syrup.
Chocolate Flavour Marshmallow Mateys
When considering different recipes and ideas, I decided that I wanted the cereal to be the star of the show. Using the chocolate cereal to make crispy treats sprung straight to my mind. This is a great recipe to do with the kids before heading back to school and is a good idea for picnics or lunch boxes.
This recipe is so simple, so here goes:
Once you have the cereal in a large mixing bowl, melt the chocolate over a bain-marie (double boiler) or in the microwave in 20-second intervals. Be careful and make sure you keep a watchful eye on the chocolate until it has melted. I don’t tend to add any butter, golden syrup or marshmallows to my crispy treat mixture as I don’t really think you need to add them. I prefer my crispy treats to be crunchy and chocolaty and taste purely of chocolate. I’ve never had any problem with them being too hard by not adding any of the additional ingredients I mentioned above.
Once the chocolate is melted, add that to the cereal and stir until all the cereal is fully coated. Evenly distribute the chocolaty cereal mixture into 12 paper cupcake cases/liners – I picked pretty polka dot cases, anything patterned looks really nice when you’re presenting these crispy treats. You’ll find using the cupcake cases/liners makes removing the cakes far more easier too.
Before the chocolate sets, finish by decorating each cake with as many Marshmallow Mateys as you like. Set them in the fridge and then devour them!
200g dark or milk chocolate (or a combination of both)
150g Chocolate Flavour Marshmallow Mateys cereal, separated from the marshmallows
Marshmallow Mateys, for decoration
Line a 12-hole cupcake/muffin tin with 12 paper cases/liners. Break the chocolate into pieces and melt gently over a pan of gently simmering water (make sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water) or melt in the microwave in 20-second intervals, stirring until the chocolate is melted and smooth.
Mix the melted chocolate with the cereal until the cereal is completely coated in the chocolate.
Divide the mixture between the paper cases and decorate with the marshmallows. Chill in the fridge for an hour until set. Crispy treats will store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days, however they’re best eaten fresh.
I’ve just recently got back after spending a fortnight holidaying in the Mediterranean on the island of Cyprus. This wasn’t my first visit to this beautiful country, I’ve previously shared a blog post with pictures from our last visit two summers ago and before that I’d already visited Cyprus on two other occasions before starting this blog. Here I’ve put together a collection of my favourite snapshots from my time away. It was yet another fun and memorable trip to a destination that’s very close to my heart.
Panorama viewpoint looking down on Paphos
Our journey to Cyprus started early (wakeup call was 1:45am), I only managed a few hours sleep before we headed to the airport and I think this was due to excitement! Once we boarded our flight, four and half hours later we landed in Cyprus to be welcomed with predicted sunny and warm weather. After collecting our suitcases and sorting out our car hire and we departed the airport and drove to our villa.
We stayed in Argaka, a small village located near the town of Polis. This is my third visit to Argaka, the village is barely touched by tourism and that’s what appeals most to me. It’s a great place to get an experience of Cypriot life.
Before arriving at our villa we stopped off at Limni Pier where we ate lunch and took in some breathtaking views and the deep blue sea. Upon arrival at the villa we were totally blown away, we had our own private beach just outside the villa (the perks of not saying in a complex), a pool and even a tennis court – my sister and I both made good use of these to work off the ice cream we ate and the scrumptious galaktoboureko (Greek semolina custard pie with syrup) the villa owner, Savvas, brought round for us on the first night. The sweet pie was very delicious and successfully devoured in less than 24 hours!
For a food lover like myself having a bakery right next door to us was fantastic, but as you can guess there was always temptation from all the delicious Cypriot and Greek treats like cakes, loukoumades (fried pastry balls soaked with honey), sweet and savoury pies such as tiropittes (flaky pastry cheese pies) and spanakopittes (cheese and spinach pies) – imagine a mini bitesize version of spanakopita.
On this trip we travelled around a bit more and visited some of the attractions we didn’t get to see previously. Below I’ve added some snapshots of what we got up to and saw this time around!
Harbour at Agios Georgios
Agios Georgios is a village situated in the Paphos (Pafos) district of Cyprus. The church and stunning views are just a few reasons why this is one of the best places to stop off. There’s also a pottery stall which sells lovely hand-painted bowls and plates among many other things.
Stone built church of Agios Georgios in the village of Pegeia
You might already know this, but Cyprus is known as the island of love. Aphrodite was the Greek goddess of love and Cyprus was her place of birth. Aphrodite’s Rock is also known as Petra tou Romiou (“Rock of the Roman”). Located between Paphos and Limassol, it’s well worth a visit and popular with tourists visiting Cyprus. A swim around the rock is definitely something you might like to tick off your bucket list, but a warning, the water is very cold!
Views at the Kourion Archaeological Site
Kourion (Curium) is an archaeological site located on the west coast of Limassol in the town of Episkopi. Here you can see an expansive collection of mosaics and monuments that date back to the Roman period and the remains of the ancient city of Kourion. Just make sure you plan a visit here before the midday heat and sun arrive and come prepared for the walk around with a hat, lots of water and sun cream!
The Troodos mountains are the largest mountain range in Cyprus. As you drive through you can see lots of different wildlife like snakes slithering across the road and you can even visit a mouffalon enclosure. Mouffalon are wild sheep native to Cyprus and other Middle-Eastern countries. The first time we went we weren’t lucky and didn’t manage to spot any mouffalon, however this time luck was on our side and I captured this picture above!
Next I’m moving onto one of the best parts of travelling to a different country, the food. Cypriot and Greek are two of my favourite cuisines. Both cuisines are similar, but they do have some differences. Cyprus is famous for halloumi, a cheese that’s made from either goat’s or ewe’s milk. It’s eaten raw or cooked in Cyprus, but I prefer it either grilled or fried and garnished with oregano and fresh lemon juice.
Cyprus is also home to several yummy treats, kattimeri is a sweet crêpe-style pancake that’s traditionally filled with sugar or honey and cinnamon. We bought these almost daily when we visited the supermarket to stock up on groceries. The pancake is quite big so we’d cut it into quarters and topped with Greek yoghurt and fresh sliced peach – I don’t think that’s how Cypriots serve the pancake, but the flavours worked well together and we turned it into a great dessert. I love these pancakes so much that I even packed one to eat on the plane journey home!
Naturally coloured and flavoured strawberry buttercream made with freeze-dried strawberries. Your summer isn’t complete without a taste of these cupcakes!
Recipe originally shared July 2015, updated June 2017.
Fruit based buttercream is a summer favourite of mine and the yummy addition of freeze-dried strawberries creates the beautiful pink colour in this buttercream recipe I’m sharing with you. I’m personally not really into unnaturally coloured foods so often when I want to make a buttercream that’s coloured, I’d rather look for alternative ways of naturally colouring mine.
This recipe is based on a classic buttercream recipe except freeze-dried strawberries are ground to fine powder in a food processor and then the strawberry powder is incorporated into the buttercream. Incorporating freeze-dried strawberries into buttercream adds amazing natural strawberry flavour and it also tints the buttercream a faint pink colour.
To allow this strawberry buttercream to be the star of show I sat it atop a basic vanilla cupcake. Strawberry and vanilla happen to be my two favourite flavours, so combing the two had to happen sometime! My vanilla cupcake recipe is easy to make as it doesn’t require any out of the ordinary ingredients such as buttermilk or yoghurt, which are ingredients you might not happen to have in your kitchen. This vanilla cupcake recipe however uses your everyday baking store cupboard essentials such as butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla and flour.
You might be wondering about why I choose to use freeze-dried opposed to fresh strawberries? Fresh fruit is great to use in some buttercream recipes, but strawberries in particular have a high water content so using fresh could produce a runny buttercream that’s impossible to pipe. The fruit and moisture levels are more concentrated in freeze-dried fruit compared to fresh, so when following this recipe you won’t have to be concerned that your buttercream will curdle or won’t be able to be piped.
What better way to celebrate summer and the strawberry season than with these cupcakes! They’ll be a hit at summer picnics, parties or barbecues or even served as part of an al fresco afternoon tea.
150g (2/3 cup) butter, softened
150g (3/4 cup) caster or granulated sugar
3 medium or large free range eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
150g (1 and 1/4 cups) self-raising flour, sifted – you can sub with 150g plain flour plus 2 teaspoons baking powder
170g (3/4 cup) butter, at room temperature
12g (1 cup) freeze-dried strawberries
2 tablespoons double cream (heavy cream), chilled
230g (2 cups) icing sugar, sifted
Preheat oven to 160 degrees C Fan / 180°C / 350°F / Gas Mark 4. Line a cupcake tin with 12 paper cupcake liners and set aside.
To make the cupcakes: Cream the butter and sugar together until smooth and fluffy. Add the eggs one by one along with the vanilla and mix to combine. Using a spatula or large metal spoon, gently fold in the flour and mix until just combined and no lumps of flour remain. Be gentle and try to not over mix the batter.
Now evenly distribute the cupcake batter among the cupcake liners. Bake for 20 minutes until the cupcakes are a light golden colour and firm to the touch. Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes, then remove from the tin and transport the cupcakes to a wire rack to finish cooling completely.
To make the buttercream: In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter on a medium-high speed for 3 minutes. Stop the mixer and using a spatula scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, continue to mix the butter for a further 3 minutes until it’s creamy and pale. In a food processor pulverise the freeze-dried strawberries until finely ground (wait for a moment to allow the air in the powder to settle). Add the strawberry powder to the creamed butter and stir through until combined. Now add the cream along with the icing sugar and again mix until incorporated. Whip the buttercream on medium speed for an additional 2 minutes, then stop the mixer and scrap down the sides and bottom of the bowl and continue to mix for another 2 minutes.
Fit a large disposable piping bag with a piping tip. Fill the piping bag with the buttercream and decorate the cupcakes as desired.
Butter will need to be at room temperature for both the cupcake and buttercream recipes. Take butter out from the fridge and allow it to sit at room temperature for an hour. You’ll know your butter is ready to start baking with if when you press your finger gently into the butter it leaves an indentation. Either salted or unsalted butter can be used, typically I always use unsalted, but this time I used salted and it worked just as well.
Please note humidity can affect the outcome of your buttercream. The best way of avoiding your buttercream curdling is making sure your butter isn’t too soft (follow my tip above when softening butter).
Freeze-dried fruit can usually be located down the baking aisle of most supermarkets or sometimes, they can also be found in some specialist bakeware shops, but if you’ve had no luck looking in store you can order over the internet.
If you don’t own a food processor you can crush the freeze-dried strawberries in a resealable bag using a rolling pin until they’ve reached a fine powdery consistency.
Cupcakes will store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. If it’s humid where you live I’d recommend storing these cupcakes in the fridge and when ready to serve take the number of desired cupcakes out and allow them to sit a room temperature for a few minutes.
Four ingredients and just half an hour of your time is all that’s required to make this creamy and tangy homemade lemon curd.
Making my own curd and jam has been on my list for a long time. A few summers back I got my very own private jam-making session with my grandma, we spent the day preparing homemade plum jam and I came home with a several jars of jam to enjoy. As a food blogger a few of the recipes I test unfortunately don’t make it onto my blog. Some recipes are just a plain fail, whereas with some of the recipes I will write down and change things to do better the next time round.
Lemon curd is something I failed at miserably when I made it for the first time a couple of years ago. It was so terrible that it put me off making lemon curd until now. I used a recipe from another source and it never thickened. After standing for over an hour stirring the pot I was left with a bowl of runny lemon slop, not the creamy and thick lemon curd I’d hoped to make.
I learnt from the mistakes I have previously made when making lemon curd and now I am happy to finally have found a lemon curd recipe that works and produces beautifully tangy curd that you could eat by the spoonful.
This is a recipe is one my mum handed down to me, my grandma gave my mum a cookbook and this lemon curd was from that book. The cookbook I got this recipe from is called “The Dairy Book of Home Cookery”. My mum has had this cookbook for nearly thirty years and it she’s told me this is the first cookbook she ever owned. It’s the kind of book you go to for reliable recipes that actually work and come out well.
Once opened this lemon curd with last for only about two weeks and that’s good because the recipe only fills one large jar – about 550ml worth of curd in total. It’s so addictive that you’re probably going to want to keep the entire jar just to yourself and not tell a single other person about it!
Lemon curd is fantastic served as it is, you can drizzle it over cheesecake, swap the classic raspberry/strawberry jam filling in a Victoria sponge and spread a generous layer of lemon curd instead and you could even dollop it on top of a toasted crumpet, English muffin or a stack of pancakes.
Before I forget to mention it’s also absolutely divine swirled through plain yoghurt and topped with fresh fruit. One of my go-to desserts, but truth be told all I need is a jar of this lemon curd and a spoon!
(Yields enough to fill 1 large jar – approx. 550ml)
100g (4 ounces) butter, cut into small cubes
225g (8 ounces) caster or granulated sugar
3 free-range eggs plus 1 yolk, beaten
Grated zest and juice of 3 lemons
Melt the butter in a medium sized heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water (bain-marie/double boiler). Make sure the base of the bowl is not touching the water.
Add the sugar, eggs and egg yolk and lemon zest and juice.
Cook gently without boiling until the curd thickens sufficiently to coat the back of a spoon. Be careful not to overheat the mixture otherwise it may curdle and separate. This recipe takes about 30 minutes to reach the correct consistency.
Sieve the curd if you want and then pour the curd into sterilised jars that are still warm and cover as you would do for jam.
Store the curd in a cool place, I usually leave mine in the fridge. The curd will store for up to 2 weeks.
This one-pot rice pilaf is bursting with Mediterranean flavours! Baked and then garnished with herbs and lemon just before serving – you’ll want to eat this tasty rice straight from the pot!
I love that in food there are memories. Tasting a certain food can transport you back and allow you to reminisce about somewhere you travelled to or a time you really enjoyed and have fond memories of.
That’s exactly what this recipe does for me.
I first had a taste of rice very similar to this a number of years ago on holiday on one of my first visits to the glorious Mediterranean island of Cyprus. My family and I would visit this one restaurant a couple of times during our trip, the restaurant specialised in souvlaki which consists of various meats and vegetables grilled on a barbecue. Each diner received a massive plate that included a jacket potato, souvlaki meat of your choice such as beef, chicken or pork, a corn on the cob and a small portion of rice. The rice wasn’t just boring plain boiled rice it was incredibly buttery and rich in sensational flavours.
Greek is one of the many cuisines I really enjoy. A few of my personal Greek food favourites include spanakopita, tzatziki and tiropitakia – we used to buy these from bakeries on the way to the beach and would sit eating these amazing cheesy pastries whilst feeling the gentle sea breeze and sun on us. Just thinking of that I’d desperately like to be transported back there right now!
Wave goodbye to the winter blues by making this rice, it’s sure to bring a touch sunshine to your day!
30g/2 tablespoons butter
Drizzle of olive oil
1 medium white onion, diced
2-3 large cloves of garlic, finely minced
1-2 dried or fresh bay leaves, torn – tearing the leaves releases the flavour
450g (2 cups) long grain rice
940ml (4 cups) chicken or vegetable rice
Zest from half a large lemon and a squeeze of the juice
1 tablespoon dried oregano
Few sprigs each of fresh thyme and rosemary, finely chopped
Small handful of fresh parsley (approx. 2-3 tablespoons), finely chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 180 degrees Fan / 200°C / 400°F / Gas Mark 6. In a large ovenproof saucepan over a medium heat melt one tablespoon of the butter and the oil.
Add the onion, garlic, bay leaves and a touch of salt and pepper and sauté for 5 minutes until soft and translucent – you don’t want this to colour too much.
Now add the rice and stir until all the grains of rice are moistened by the butter. Then add the stock, cover the saucepan with a lid and allow it to come up to the boil.
Once boiling take off the heat and place in the oven to braise for 15-20 minutes until all the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is completely cooked through.
Add the chopped herbs, lemon zest and a generous squeeze of the juice and season with extra salt and pepper to taste.
Leave the rice with the lid on and allow the flavours to develop for about 5-10 minutes prior to serving. Garnish the rice with extra chopped parsley if desired.
Rice is best served straight away or at room temperature. Don’t reheat rice more than once. If you’re reheating it check temperature has reached at least 75°C before consuming.
If your saucepan lid is not ovenproof then you can cook this rice in a dish covered with tin/aluminium foil.
If you’re planning to make this rice dairy-free you can substitute the butter for a dairy-free alternative or just use oil.
I’ve tested this recipe out a few times and I’ve found adding the zest from half a large lemon adds more than enough lemon flavour without being overpowering. If you want you can add the zest of the whole lemon if you’re a lemon lover!
This rice doesn’t have to the braised in the oven you can cook it by boiling it the stove top instead if you’d prefer to do that. I baked it as this is how I was taught how to cook the best rice at culinary school. Just check how long your rice needs to cook, each brand can cook differently. There’s nothing nice about overcooked rice and you won’t want this rice to be the texture of rice pudding!
Rice can be eaten on its own but it’s also great served with chicken or fish such as salmon or prawns/shrimp.
This recipe will typically serve 4-6 people generously but it can serve up to 8 smaller portions.
Moist carrot cupcakes topped with a luscious and tangy cream cheese frosting.
I first shared these cupcakes a few years ago on my blog back in 2014, it will be nearly three years since the recipe was first published and I still enjoy these just as much as I did the first time round. The older recipe deserved an update and I’ve decided to share it again with brand new photographs. Carrot cake is one of my favourite cakes and if I had to I would definitely pick carrot cake over a slice of chocolate cake any day!
Easter is nearing closer so these cupcakes I am revisiting today will be the ideal recipe to celebrate the occasion with.
The addition of spices in carrot cake is an absolute must and I can’t even contemplate a carrot cake/cupcake without cinnamon added. Along with a teaspoon of ground cinnamon I also like to add a full teaspoon of mixed spice as well. Mixed spice is another spice popular in many Easter bakes, it’s the British equivalent to pumpkin pie spice and it’s frequently used in many of our traditional recipes such as hot cross buns and teacakes.
I wish I could tell you that these carrot cupcakes are healthy because they contain vegetables but unfortunately they’re not! Carrots and other vegetables such as courgette/zucchini are a popular addition in many savoury and sweet recipes. They add moistness and I like to put quite a lot of grated carrot into my cupcakes, this is so I can ensure that there’s carrot in each and every bite. There’s nothing more disappointing than taking a bite from a carrot cake/cupcake and not being able to taste any carrot!
To decorate I decided to top the cupcakes with a classic cream cheese frosting. I’ve trialled several different cream cheese frosting recipes and I’ve found this one to be the best as it holds its shape when piped and really compliments the flavour of the cupcakes.
175g light brown sugar
200g self-raising flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon mixed spice
Zest from 1 large orange
2 large free-range eggs, at room temperature
150ml sunflower or vegetable oil
200g (approx. 2 large) carrots, peeled and grated – weigh to ensure this is correct
65g chopped walnuts, plus extra for decoration
Cream Cheese Frosting:
60g unsalted butter, softened
200g icing sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
400g full fat cream cheese, softened – I leave mine out at room temperature for an hour to soften
1. To make the cupcakes: Preheat your oven 160 degrees Fan / 180°C / 350°F / Gas Mark 4 and line a 12-hole cupcake or muffin tin with paper cases. In a large mixing bowl stir together the sugar, flour, bicarbonate of soda, spices and the orange zest.
2. In another smaller bowl or jug whisk together the eggs and oil until incorporated. Add the wet ingredients to the dry along with the grated carrot and walnuts and stir until completely combined. Evenly divide the batter between the paper cases. Bake for 20-25 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean without any uncooked batter remaining – mine took the full amount of time to bake. Leave the cupcakes to cool in the tin for a few minutes then transport them to a wire rack and allow to cool to room temperature.
3. To make the frosting:Cream the softened butter in a stand mixer on medium speed for about 2 minutes to soften. Now add the sifted icing sugar and vanilla and starting on a low speed mix to combine. Continue to cream for 5 minutes or until really pale in colour – stop the mixer halfway through to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
4. Once creamed add the softened cream cheese. Turn the mixer up and beat on high speed for approximately 2-3 minutes or until the frosting is creamy, thick and smooth.
5. Decorate the cupcakes as desired by piping or spreading the frosting onto each cupcake. Further decoration is optional, I chose to top each cupcake with extra chopped walnuts and a carrot made from royal icing. The carrot decorations can be purchased from most major supermarkets or online. Cupcakes will keep stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
To adapt the recipe into cup measurements please see my conversion tables page for help.
You can adjust the amount of spice or play around by adding different spices to these cupcakes. If you can’t find mixed spice where you live you can substitute it with pumpkin pie spice or alternatively use a different combination of spices.
Adding walnuts to the batter is optional. If you want you can leave them out entirely or swap them for pecans, raisins or desiccated/shredded coconut.
Leave the cream cheese out at room temperature for an hour prior to making the frosting. The cream cheese needs to be soft to ensure the frosting is smooth and all the ingredients incorporate completely.
Don’t add any additional icing sugar to the frosting as this will make your cream cheese frosting too runny and you won’t be able to pipe it. To get perfect cream cheese frosting my best tip is to measure your ingredients accurately using the metric system for the perfect results every time.
The way you choose to decorate these cupcakes is totally up to you. When I shared the recipe the first time round instead of decorating the cupcakes with chopped walnuts as I did this time I sprinkled the tops with coconut and dusted a few of the cupcakes with cinnamon.