Friday, 11 July 2014

Savoury and Sweet Snacks

Spiced butternut squash whoopie pies with maple cream cheese filling

Makes about 16 small pies


For the sponges:

- 1 butternut squash (recipe requires 200ml squash purée)
- 120ml sunflower oil
- 200g soft dark brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 large egg (free-range please)
- 250g plain flour, sifted
- 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon salt

For the maple cream cheese filling:

- 60g unsalted butter
- 200g icing sugar
- 120g full-fat cream cheese (I used Philadelphia)
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence


Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Cut the butternut squash in half, scoop out the seeds and bake, flesh-side up, for 45 minutes to an hour, until soft. Tip: If a fork goes in easily, it’s good to go.

When the squash is cooked, set aside to cool and turn the oven down to 170°C. Line a baking tray with baking paper.

Roughly cut the squash into chunks and blend until you have a smooth purée. Tip: There is no need to peel the squash as the skin goes really soft and is full of goodness but you can if you don’t fancy it!

Using the beater attachment of your food mixer, beat together the oil, sugar, vanilla and maple syrup. Beat in the egg and then 200ml squash purée, scraping down the sides of the bowl to ensure all the ingredients are incorporated.

Fold in the flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, spices and salt and mix until any lumps have disappeared.

Drop blobs of the batter onto your baking tray (you’ll probably have enough for three batches), about 3cm apart. Tip: I used a heaped teaspoon per blob but you could go bigger and increase the cooking time.

Bake for about 12 minutes, until slightly springy when gently poked. Cool on a wire rack.

For the filling, beat together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in the cream cheese and maple syrup until you have a smooth mixture. Chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes (this will set it a bit).

To make the whoopie pies, sandwich spoonfuls of the maple cream cheese filling between pairs of sponge biscuits. Tip: Depending on how much filling you like in your pies, you may have some filling leftover – what can I say? There are worse leftovers!

Dust with icing sugar before serving.

Feta, courgette & chilli savoury muffins

Makes about 16 muffins


- 300g plain flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- seasoning
- 2 large eggs (free range please)
- 250ml milk
- 70g unsalted butter, melted
- 200g courgette, coarsely grated
- 1/2 – 1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes (do you want a hint or a kick?)
- 150g feta, crumbled
- 20g pine nuts
- generous bunch basil leaves, chopped


Preheat the oven to 190°C and pop your muffin cases into the tin. Tip: If you’re using a silicone muffin tray, you can do away with the paper cases if you like.

Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, a generous pinch of salt and a good few grinds of black pepper into a bowl.

Beat the eggs and milk together in a jug. Add to the dry mixture, a little at a time, whilst mixing all the ingredients together (I use the paddle attachment on my food mixer on a low setting).

Add the melted butter and mix until smooth (I increase the speed of my mixer here), scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula to make sure nothing escapes. Stir in the courgette, chilli flakes, 4/5th of the feta (that’s 120g if you’re retentive), pine nuts and basil and stir briefly to combine.

Spoon into the muffin cases and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. Tip: Only fill your cases to about 2/3 full otherwise you’ll end up with conjoined muffins…Bake for 25-30 minutes until the muffins are set and golden brown on top.

Cool on a wire rack and store in an airtight container.

Sticky lemon thyme cakes

Makes 8 mini 10cm cakes (or one large 18cm round cake / loaf)


For the sponge:

- zest 1 unwaxed lemon
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon thyme (or normal thyme) leaves
- 175g caster sugar
- 175g unsalted butter, softened and cubed
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
- 3 large eggs (free-range please)
- 175g self-raising flour, sifted

For the syrup:

- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon thyme (or thyme) leaves, plus extra sprigs to decorate
- 80g caster sugar
- 50ml water
- juice 1 lemon


Preheat the oven to 180°C and grease and line the base of your tins.

Bash the lemon zest, thyme leaves and a tablespoon of sugar about with a pestle and mortar to release the oils. Using a food processor with the paddle attachment (or mixing bowl and wooden spoon…), cream the butter, (rest of the) sugar and lemon and thyme mixture until pale and fluffy.

Whisk in the vanilla essence and eggs (one at a time), scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula to ensure everything is incorporated. Tip: If you’re worried about the mixture curdling, add a spoonful of flour with the addition of each egg.

Fold in the (rest of the) flour and divide the batter between the tins. Level the top and bake for about 20 minutes, or until light golden on top and a skewer comes out clean. Tip: If you’ve opted to make one large cake, it will take longer to bake – about 35 minutes.

To make the syrup, bash the thyme and a tablespoon of sugar about with a pestle and mortar. Add to the rest of the ingredients and stir over a medium heat, simmering gently until it has reduced by about half. Tip: If the syrup is getting too gloopy, add a splash of water or turn the heat down.

Discard the thyme (you can sieve the mixture and feel like Martha Stewart or fish the leaves out with a spoon / finger like me…), poke a few holes in the top of the warm cakes with a skewer and feed the cakes with the syrup.

Allow to cool fully in the tins and top with the remaining sprigs of thyme.

Recipes from Pip and Little Blue

1 comment:

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