Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cake

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cake

I mentioned in my last post that I had some tins of pumpkin puree that I used to make my Easy Pumpkin Pie (This post also explains where you can buy the puree in the UK). I wanted to make something else with it too. I have made some really nice pumpkin cupcakes with chocolate icing before,  so I thought perhaps a full-sized layer cake might work, with similar flavours.

This Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cake is made of two layers of moist pumpkin sponge dotted with dark chocolate chips and a very indulgent caramel filling. It is one of the most delicious cakes I have ever made, if I do say so myself! It would be perfect for Thanksgiving dessert, a Halloween party, or as an alternative Christmas treat.

The caramel icing between the pumpkin cake layers is quite sweet, which goes down well with my husband, but you could swap it for a plain buttercream or perhaps some whipped cream. That will tone down the sweetness if you don't have a sweet tooth.

If you're a bit scared of eating pumpkin, or you think you won't like it, I dare you to try this recipe. I will be amazed if anyone could say that they didn't like it, after trying a slice!

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cake

Easy Pumpkin Pie

I've been AWOL for the last 2 weeks, as it's been half-term and before that work was VERY busy! I have barely done any cooking or baking during this time because we have been out and about and staying with family. The only exception was making a fruit crumble with my niece, who became fixated with the idea of blackberry crumble after seeing it in a children's tv programme. A bit awkward when blackberries are going oput of season, but the freezer section saved the day!

Once we got back, I had itchy fingers to make something, anything food-related! My husband requested pumpkin pie- very seasonal with Halloween around the corner and Thanksgiving on the way.  Luckily, I had some tins of pumpkin puree handy as my mum had brought some back from America thanks to our family friends from Texas. 

I am a big  fan of pumpkin pie myself. The first time I ate it was in Norway, where we were living at the time, were at a Thanksgiving party throw by some American neighbours. I vividly remember eating it and wanting some more. It was the texture and the spices that made it so delicious I think.

The tricky part about making pumpkin pie in the UK is that you would normally have to use fresh pumpkin, chop it up, boil it down, cool it, puree it and so on. However, the tinned pumpkin puree that the Americans take for granted is becoming more available here. It's usually freely available at Waitrose and Ocado, although quite pricey at around £2 a tin. You can also buy it on Amazon but it tends to be even more expensive there. If you can get hold of some, then you can save yourself a lot of time!

For this easy pumpkin pie recipe,  I used shop-bought shortcrust pastry to cut the time down even more, but if you would like to make it from scratch, go ahead. I prefer to use an unsweetened pastry because I think there is enough sweetness in the pumpkin filling already, but if you have a sweet tooth, you could use a dessert pastry.

This recipe makes a massive amount of pie, just to warn you! It's mainly so that you can use up a full tin of the pumpkin puree, rather than having half leftover. You could make two full pies, or, as I did today, one full pie and around 20 mini pies or even 40 mini pies. They freeze well, so you don't need to eat them all in one go!

Pumpkin pie  is often served with whipped cream, but I went with ice cream today. Both are delicious!

Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Marshmallow Icing

Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Marshmallow Icing

I made these chocolate chip cupcakes with marshmallow icing last weekend. The original plan was to try and use the marshmallow icing to create a ghost shape and then use black icing or chocolate chips for the eyes, ready for Halloween. It would have worked beautifully, if I had used the biggest circle icing nozzle but I used the next size down which didn't make large enough swirls. Oh well, they weren't ghosts but they were pretty delicious!

Marshmallow icing, if you have never had it, is essentially a buttercream with melted marshmallow added to it. When it is set, it's soft and pliable. You need quite a good grip to pipe it, but it holds the shape that you pipe, beautifully. Biting into it is like eating a marshmallow but with a thicker texture. It tastes delicious! I can imagine it would be beautiful on top of dark chocolate cakes too.

The cupcakes in their accidental form would be great for kids parties. Chocolate chip cake is always a crowd pleaser and it's very simple to make. You can also decorate the marshamllow icing with anything that you can push into it. Sprinkles will just fall off, but you can push chcolate chips, sugar crystals etc into it enough that they will stay.

Hope you enjoy!

Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Marshmallow Icing Pinable image

Slow Cooker Chicken and Butternut Squash Curry

Slow Cooker Chicken and Butternut Squash Curry with rice

Our shopping delivery had the most enormous butternut squash in it this week. I could have made an enormous batch of Curried Butternut Squash Soup but it really would have been an enormous batch! So, instead, I decided to use half of it to make soup and half to make a Slow Cooker Chicken and Butternut Squash Curry. Good timing as it's National Curry Week from 10-16th October.

The curry I decided on was a Slow Cooker Rogan Josh style one with a tomato base. The butternut squash and the addition of red pepper add a lovely touch of sweetness to the flavour. I made the chicken curry at a medium-hot chilli heat, but you can adjust the heat to suit your own palate by using a milder or hotter curry paste and/or a milder or hotter chilli powder if you don't like too much spice. I didn't make my own curry paste, although that's something I would like to try in the future. Companies like Patak's do an amazing array of pastes, including for specific curries like Rogan Josh. If you can't find a Rogan Josh one, the Madras ones are widely available and are a good substitute.

I would recommend using chicken thighs ideally but, if you don't have those to hand, chicken breasts will also work. I used them myself this time and they worked very well. If you do use chicken breasts, make sure they lie on the top so that they don't get too soft and start shredding due to the slow cooking. 

Serve it up with some naan bread and some rice and away you go! A delicious home-made curry that takes virtually no effort, is much cheaper than take-away and definitely much lower in calories.

This recipe is Slimming World Friendly at 1 syn per portion (for the curry paste). If you are following My Fitness Pal, it's around 200 calories per portion with chicken breasts and 220 per portion with chicken thighs (rice not included).

Slow Cooker Chicken and Butternut Squash Curry- pinnable image

Cinnamon Swirl Yoghurt Loaf

Cinnamon Swirl Yoghurt Loaf

On Sunday, I was in the mood to bake and I really fancied something with lots of cinnamon. Cinnamon is such an autumnal flavour, I find it really comforting. It makes me think of apples, fruit crumble with custard, leaves on the turn and splashing through puddles! The very start of Autumn is one one of my favourite times of year because it's still warm enough to venture out without a coat, but the cosy nights are starting to draw in.

To feed my cinnamon cravings, I usually make a batch of Cheat's Cinnamon Swirls, but this time I wanted to try something different. I decided to make a Cinnamon Swirl Yoghurt Cake. It's a cake with a thick golden crust, a moist sponge and cinnamon syrup swirled though it. It's not overtly sweet, so you can easily eat a nice, thick slice without feeling too indulgent.

The cinnamon syrup is made with brown sugar, cinnamon and butter. You don't need to swirl too carefully; it really doesn't matter, as long as you get it distributed fairly well through the cake batter.

Cinnamon Swirl Yoghurt Loaf