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The Best Recipes of 2016

15 of the most popular recipes in 2016!  Delicious cakes, indulgent desserts, scrummy cookies, and amazing cocktails – Giraffes Can Bake had a very tasty year! Here are the 15 recipes you lovely readers loved the most!

Giraffes Can Bake's Best of 2016 - 15 of the most popular recipes in 2016! Delicious cakes, indulgent desserts, scrummy cookies, and amazing cocktails – Giraffes Can Bake had a very tasty year! Here are the 15 recipes you lovely readers loved the most!

2016! What a year! There’s been a lot of ups and downs, but overall it’s been a pretty good year for me. I experimented a lot more with my second love, mixology, and you guys loved it as much as I did – 6 of the most popular recipes this year were cocktails! There will definitely be more to come in 2017, I can’t wait to get mixing! I also learned to bake gluten free, which was a big, and often frustrating, challenge but I mastered it in the end – 5 of the top 15 recipes were gluten free, I’m glad you liked them as much as I did!  Let’s take a look at the 15 recipes you loved the most in 2016, in no particular order…

  1. Gluten Free Cookie Dough Salted Caramel Brownie Bombs

Gluten Free Cookie Dough Brownie Bombs with Salted Caramel - These Cookie Dough Brownie Bombs with Salted Caramel are indulgence on top of decadence! Eggless chocolate chip cookie dough is dipped in salted caramel, then enclosed in chocolate salted caramel brownies, and dipped in chocolate. They're gluten free, so easy to make and absolutely to die for!

These were the first of gluten free baking successes – and it definitely started my 2016 gluten free baking with a delicious bang! They’re egg free cookie dough, dipped in salted caramel, wrapped in brownie and covered in chocolate! Holy awesomeness batman! I mean you can’t go wrong with these little balls of heaven, especially since they’re so easy to make!

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Blackberry & Lemon Eton Mess

Delicious layers of fresh whipped lemon cream, meringue pieces, lemon curd and fresh blackberries make up this Eton Mess, a classic English dessert given an Autumnal makeover! Every layer is homemade but so easy, and if you make the meringue and curd in advance (or use store bought) this incredible dessert can be put together in minutes!

Blackberry & Lemon Eton Mess - Layers of fresh whipped lemon cream, meringue pieces, lemon curd and fresh blackberries, a traditional English dessert given an Fall makeover! Make the meringue and curd in advance and you can put this dessert together in minutes!

So, if you follow me on any kind of social media you may have realised that the Rugby World Cup is currently underway and I’m a big England supporter! Last weekend we had a crushing defeat against Wales (we only lost by three points, but losing to Wales is the worst thing that can happen to us!) so I’ve been kinda bummed all week! Tomorrow we play Australia, it’s really important that we win this one and score a lot of points, so I’m pulling out all the stops in my support – including creating a special dessert recipe in support of England Rugby. And so this incredible dessert was born –  Blackberry & Lemon Eton Mess!

Blackberry & Lemon Eton Mess - Layers of fresh whipped lemon cream, meringue pieces, lemon curd and fresh blackberries, a traditional English dessert given an Fall makeover! Make the meringue and curd in advance and you can put this dessert together in minutes!

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Orange Cinnamon and Lemon Cardamom Meringue Nests

Meringue Nests

Does this happen to anybody else ever? You have left over egg yolks so you make pudding, but then you end up needing more egg yolks than you had so you end up with left over egg whites. Now you’re just stuck in an endless cycle of using up leftover parts of eggs! It’s not necessarily a bad thing, it means you end up with super yummy meringue nests you wouldn’t have made otherwise! And aren’t unintended desserts the best kind? I’m sure they don’t have as many calories in either 😉 

Meringue Nests

When I have egg whites to use up my first thought is always meringue, it’s one of my all time favourite sweets. There’s just something about the way it crunches and melts in your mouth all at the same time that is just irresistible to me. I thought about making some meringue to crush up and put in an Eton Mess, but then I decided I should make the meringue a dessert all by itself, it deserves to be the star of the show after all! 

Meringue Nests

As a baker I always like to make sure I at least have lemons and cream in the fridge and a well stocked spice cupboard, there are few things you can’t spruce up with the right citrus and spice (plus lemons are insanely useful for so many things around the house) and cream makes everything better and more decadent. As luck would have it, I also had some oranges in the fridge. Orange and cinnamon are natural partners, their familiar dance on your tongue is traditional but still exciting as the first time. Lemon and cardamom may not be as familiar to some, but when they take to the dance floor it’s clear they were always meant to be. And that has to get an award for the weirdest metaphor I’ve written… this week anyway! So I’m no shakespeare, but I think I got my point across – these are flavour combinations made in heaven! 

Meringue Nests

So with those strange metaphors swimming around my head, I added lemon zest to half of the meringue and orange zest to the other half. Baked them and filled the lemon ones with cardamom cream and the orange ones with cinnamon cream. The food colouring added the meringue is technically optional, but I really do think it’s what makes this dessert look so fun and inviting! So unless you have an allergy or an aversion to food colourings, I would definitely keep them in! 

Meringue Nests

 

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Brown Sugar & Pecan Caramel Bundt Cake

Oh my god you guys, Oh. My. God. It’s is Fiesta Friday #20 and I have brought something really special! This brown sugar & pecan caramel pound cake, it is amazing. You NEED to try it. It’s a pound cake but it’s so, so light and moist,  and the brown sugar combined with the toffee and caramel is to die for. I will be making this cake again, several times.

Brown Sugar and Pecan Caramel Bundt Cake - a moist and tender bundt cake stuffed full of pecans and toffee, smothered with thick caramel and topped with pecans!

Leah’s mum has been asking me to make her this cake for a while now after she saw a photo of one on Facebook and I finally got around to doing it for her. I wish I hadn’t waited so long, so many missed opportunities to enjoy this cake. Luckily for me I made enough batter for two bundt tins so I got to have one too!

Brown Sugar and Pecan Caramel Bundt Cake - a moist and tender bundt cake stuffed full of pecans and toffee, smothered with thick caramel and topped with pecans!

There is a lot of sugar in this cake, mostly brown sugar. And it has chopped pecans nestled inside and lots of yummy heath toffee bits! Then it’s topped with a very generous helping of caramel sauce. So much sweet, caramel flavour in this cake it’s like heaven… and definitely not for the health nuts! But everyone deserves a treat every now and then right?

 

Brown Sugar and Pecan Caramel Bundt Cake - a moist and tender bundt cake stuffed full of pecans and toffee, smothered with thick caramel and topped with pecans!

 

Father’s day is this weekend too, and if this isn’t a perfect father’s day cake I don’t know what is! Who needs hallmark when you have this much caramel to indulge in!

Brown Sugar and Pecan Caramel Bundt Cake - a moist and tender bundt cake stuffed full of pecans and toffee, smothered with thick caramel and topped with pecans!

 

And the best part? It’s so easy to make! You just beat the butter, cream it with the sugar, beat in the eggs and add the dry ingredients and the milk. Stir in your pecans and toffee and bake! Then the caramel sauce is just as easy to make, just heat the condensed milk with sugar, whisk in the butter and vanilla and you’re done. You want to pour on the caramel sauce while it’s still hot as it does harden a little as it cools.

Brown Sugar and Pecan Caramel Bundt Cake - a moist and tender bundt cake stuffed full of pecans and toffee, smothered with thick caramel and topped with pecans!

I’m not sure what else I can say about this cake that isn’t just me gushing about how much I love it! So instead I’ll let you guys try it out for yourselves. It is Fiesta Friday after all, this week’s is co-hosted by Fae and Suzanne so make sure you go check them out! And, of course, a big thanks to Angie for bringing us this wonderful party every week!

I recently updated this recipe with new photos and made it gluten free, make sure you check it out here!

Gluten Free Brown Sugar and Pecan Caramel Bundt Cake - This Gluten Free Brown Sugar and Pecan Caramel Bundt Cake is packed full of pecans and toffee bits, with a moist and tender crumb, smothered in thick, gooey caramel, topped with butter toasted pecans!

 

[recipe title=”Brown Sugar & Pecan Caramel Pound Cake”]
Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 1 1/2 cups butter, softened
  • 2 cups light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 5 large eggs, room temperature
  • 3 cups plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 bag heath toffee bits (8oz)
  • 1 cup pecans, roughly chopped

For the caramel sauce:

  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk (14oz)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Method

  • Preheat oven to 160C/325F. Grease your bundt pan(s) well.
  • Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl and set aside
  • Beat the butter until pale and creamy. Beat in sugars until fluffy.
  • Beat in the eggs one at a time until combined.
  • Add the flour mixture and milk alternatively, starting and ending with the flour. Beat until just combined.
  • Stir in the toffee bits and pecans.
  • Spoon batter into pans and bake for approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes, until skewer comes out clean. After 50 minutes of baking, lightly cover with foil to stop it browning too much at top. Leave to cool in pan for 10 minutes then transfer to wire rack.
  • While cake is cooling make the caramel sauce. In a medium saucepan, combined condensed milk and brown sugar and bring to the boil over a medium high heat, whisking often. Reduce heat and simmer for 8 minutes, whisking often. Remove from heat and whisk in butter and vanilla. Leave to cool for 5 minutes
  • Pour the caramel sauce over the cooled cake, you want to do this while the sauce is still hot as it hardens slightly as it cools.
  • Garnish with more pecan halves, serve

Notes:

  • Make sure you grease your pan well as this is a very moist cake and it can be a bit of a pain to coax out without breaking! I use this home made pan release and it’s great.
  • This cake is great eaten right after you’ve added the sauce, when it’s all warm and gooey (be careful the sauce isn’t too hot, don’t want any burned tongues!)
  • This recipe will make one 12 cup bundt pan cake, or almost two 6 cup bundt pan cakes (I had one slightly smaller one)
  • Store in an airtight container for 3-5 days

[/recipe]

Brown Sugar and Pecan Caramel Bundt Cake - a moist and tender bundt cake stuffed full of pecans and toffee, smothered with thick caramel and topped with pecans!

 

Ferrero Rocher Cupcakes

The chocolatey, hazelnutty goodness of a Ferrero Rocher, all wrapped up into a yummy cupcake

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Chocolate and Hazelnut are a match made in heaven, it’s true, I read it in the bible; “and on the 6th day, God created chocolate and hazelnut in His own image, to spend eternity together. However some old dudes heard Him wrong and wrote it down as Adam and Eve”. That’s how it goes in my bible anyway!

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And that is why Ferrero Rocher’s are so yummy. And Nutella. And all things Chocolate Hazelnut. The only way to make them better is to put it in a cupcake. Like I said, heaven!

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I promised you guys these cupcakes when I shared my Valentine’s Day cakes, sorry it took me so long I’m the worst, I know! The recipe I used was my fave chocolate cake recipe, in this post I’ll give you the recipe for the chocolate hazelnut swiss meringue buttercream and chocolate hazelnut ganache.

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What you wanna do is make up a batch of chocolate cupcakes and let cool.  Make up the ganache, which is double cream, chocolate and Nutella and leave to cool for about 10 minutes, meanwhile cut circles out of the centre of each cupcake, saving the cut outs. Fill the cupcakes with about a teaspoon of the ganache and replace the centres, trimming them where necessary. Make up the swiss meringue buttercream, it takes a while to make but it’s so so worth it. Before you add the Nutella when making it, set about a quarter of it aside to decorate with. There’s a lot of butter in swiss meringue so make sure you’re working in a cool environment when decorating with it. Swirl the Nutella SMBC on top of the cupcakes and drizzle with some of the ganache. Put a swirl of the white vanilla SMBC on top and place half a Ferrero Rocher on top. Yum!

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[recipe title=”Chocolate Hazelnut Ganache”]
Ingredients

  • 115g Nutella (or other chocolate hazelnut butter)
  • 120ml double cream
  • 55g dark, good quality, chocolate, chopped

Method

    • In a medium saucepan, heat cream over medium low heat.
    • Stir in Nutella and stir until smooth and combined
    • Add chocolate and stir until melted
    • Leave to cool

[/recipe]
[recipe title=”Chocolate Hazelnut Swiss Meringue Buttercream”]
Ingredients

  • 5 large egg whites
  • 1.5 cup sugar
  • 2 cups unsalted butter, cut into cubes and softened
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup nutella

Method

  •  Whisk together the egg whites and sugar in your stand mixer bowl and place it over simmering water. Heat to about 160 degrees F (about 7 minutes), whisking occasionally
  • Transfer bowl to stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment and beat on medium high speed until mixture cools, doubles in size and forms stiff peaks. This takes about 10 minutes,
  • Switch to the paddle attachment and add butter one piece at a time, mixing to combine after each addition. The mixture may curdle but keep mixing and it’ll come back together don’t worry.
  • Add salt and vanilla and mix to combine. Set aside quarter of the frosting aside for the vanilla portion (if you want just Nutella SMBC obviously you don’t need to do this)
  • Add Nutella to remaining frosting and beat to combine. Use asap.

[/recipe]

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Happy Valentine’s Day