Ben’s Birthday Bake-a-thon

December 9, 2010

On Wednesday it was Ben’s birthday. He was working all day, and I had a busy work afternoon myself, but I was able to take advantage of the time I had free in the morning and get my bake on. I went a little bake-crazy, actually. I tend to get carried away at times 🙂

Muffins

My initial baking-specific plan for my man on his birthday involved getting up extra early and making fresh muffins for his birthday breakfast. What better way to show how much I love him than with a warm muffin, straight out of the oven?

I went with a flavour that I know Ben absolutely loves – berry and white chocolate. Whenever I ask what flavour muffin he wants me to make, this is what he always comes out with. I tend to health-i-fy my muffins a little (actually, a lot – see here), so any suggestion Ben makes tends to get lost somewhere beneath my chia and oat addiction. To tell you the truth, I initially opened the cupboard and picked up my packet of chia seeds. However on Ben’s birthday, I was determined to bake precisely what he wanted. So I dropped the packet and slowly backed away with my hands behind my head – “step away from the chia seeds, ma’am”.

I took the broken one, such a shame ;), as mine for breakfast. They were super moist. The tart berries cut through the sweetness of the muffin and chocolate. Absolutely delicious! Is there anything better than a fresh muffin in the morning?

I used Stephanie Alexander’s super easy Blueberry Muffin recipe, from her book, The Cook’s Companion. I actually made 6 giant muffins, as my muffin tin is gloriously big-boned, for Ben to take in and share with his work colleagues. Upon hearing my plan, Ben proposed, with a sly smile, that rather than share his muffins, he keep them all for himself and instead bring in something different to share. Ben’s work colleagues, take note – Ben is the reason you were muffin deprived on Wednesday morning. Punish him as you see fit.

Amused by his request, and happy that he loved his muffins so much, I got to planning. I knew I wanted to make something myself rather than buy a whole bunch of goodies for him to take to work. There are many people on his floor, so I thought that lots of little bites would be appropriate.

Cupcakes

When it comes to baking (without a health edge), my current favourite book is the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook. Such beautiful recipes, and oh so sweet. I attempted the Vanilla Cupcakes, but I was distracted by some work calls and so they didn’t quite turn out like they should have.

They were quite dense and very moist, almost like a brownie. I did take liberty with the recipe, and added white chocolate chips (wanting to use up the packet I opened for the muffins). While yummy, they were not amazing. And they weren’t quite cupcakes, rather pseudo-cupcakes.

I didn’t have time to frost them, so I instead sprinkled some icing sugar and called it a day. Or not quite. The recipe only yielded around 17 pseudo-cupcakes, so, in order to avoid any office punch-ups over who gets a treat, I needed more goodies.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I was keen to avoid a visit to the shops for ingredients, as whilst this was a morning bake-a-thon, I was simultaneously getting organised and taking calls for my busy work afternoon. Yet I only had one egg left… I did have chocolate though, white and dark. My mind turned to cookies, and I as googled I came across a recipe which sung perfectly to what I had on hand. Chocolate Chip Cookies from David Lebovitz’s Great Book of Chocolate. You can always trust David Lebovitz. My interpretation of his recipe made nearly 40 cookies – wowsa! There would have been a few more cookies but some of them mysteriously disappeared. I have no idea what happened there, honestly. I haven’t a clue where they got to…

It took a lot of batches to bake all of these cookies. Usually when I bake, I have a tendency to rush things towards the end and plot the mixture on the baking tray too close together. This leads to Siamese Twin cookies, and, whilst delicious and amusing, they are not pretty – not birthday cookie material. So this time I was more careful and liberal with my time, and they turned out wonderfully.

I now adore this recipe. I don’t think I have had a better chocolate chip cookie ever. The chocolate melted perfectly and was deliciously gooey, and the walnuts provided a welcome break from the overall sweetness. But they weren’t too sweet. My cookies didn’t turn out like the picture provided (why is that always the case when I bake?), they were far thinner. I actually liked the wafer-like proportions. It made it easy to eat three of them warm from the oven *cough*, I mean, I still don’t know where those few missing cookies went? Weird…loco…

Once all the baking was completed, I packed up the cookies and pseudo-cupcakes and took them into Ben’s work – I’m gunning for fiancé of the year. He was, of course, very appreciative and excited. I know that I will be making these cookies again. I absolutely loved them. Judging by the response from Ben’s work colleagues, I am not alone in my praise.

And thus concludes my bake-a-thon in celebration of Ben’s birthday. Happy birthday, gorgeous pie. Thanks for being you. The amount of fun we have together is ridiculous. Thank you, also, for taking advantage of the fact that you know I can’t say no to you when you request I cook/bake something. It led me to this beautiful cookie recipe, and for that I am very thankful.

Heidi xo

p.s.
In this bake-a-thon, I used my new Kenwood Chef Mixer for the first time. Actually it is not new, it is nearly 30 years old. It was my mum’s, and recently she handed it down to me after she got a bargain on a newer model at a garage sale. Snap! I have such fond memories of baking with this mixer as a child. I can’t believe that it is now mine. Each time I walk into the kitchen and see it on the bench, I squeal in delight!

  • Hannah December 10, 2010 at 9:48 am

    Aw, you're such a wonderful girlfriend! Three different baked goods? Now THAT'S worth of a SNAP! 😛

    Happy birthday to Ben!

  • Chanel11 December 10, 2010 at 11:21 am

    What a serendipitous turn of events to end up with a cookie recipe you love 🙂 And what lucky co-workers your partner has -very spoiled indeed!

  • Angela (the diet book junkie) December 10, 2010 at 11:34 am

    oh wow. you've got me drooling on my keyboard. (especially over those cookies.:))

    p.s. i miss Australian summer, Heidi!!! it's
    -25 over here, can you imagine??? :S

  • Taryn December 10, 2010 at 11:41 am

    Wow, those muffins look amazing! You can definitely be on my team for the next bake-a-thon!

  • Heidi December 10, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    Hannah – thanks! I was quite proud of myself 🙂 a lot of fun too.

    Chanel – It seems like they enjoyed them 🙂 & yes I know, I'm so happy I found this recipe!!

    Angela – oh my! Sooooo cold! Chilly right to the bone, I remember my European Christmas. & I'm sure Canada is far colder too! I hope you're having loads of pumpkin spice mattes 🙂

    Taryn – we should totally do a bake-a-thon!

    Heidi xo

  • Xiaolu @ 6 Bittersweets December 10, 2010 at 4:08 pm

    Everything looks glorious! Ben is very lucky :).

  • The InTolerant Chef December 10, 2010 at 9:13 pm

    Spoilt rotten fiance!

  • KittyCate December 10, 2010 at 9:22 pm

    Happy birthday to Ben! Love all the yummy treats you baked him – those muffins look fantastic! Well done on the self-restraint with the chia seeds xx

  • Anna Johnston December 10, 2010 at 9:30 pm

    OK. Its official. You've just taken out the Gold Star Award for the best girlfriend EVA…., (I either award you this prize or come to terms what a wretched & lazy girlfriend I am)…, so apart from having to lift my game…, serious clapping going on this end for all these fine efforts. Now…, if there's a crumb or two of the muffin hanging around, can you pass me one please…, thanks 🙂

  • laurak December 10, 2010 at 9:37 pm

    Aww, what a lovely way to celebrate Ben's bday, you two seem like such a happy couple!
    Haha, I love the description of Siamese Twin cookies, so true, I seem to do that whenever I bake any kind of cookie, so frustrating when you're making something for others!
    Happy bday to Ben!
    Laura 🙂

  • ClaireyH December 10, 2010 at 9:52 pm

    Lucky Ben and super lucky you, I love that mixer!

  • Julia @ Boredom Abounds December 10, 2010 at 9:58 pm

    Okay, I think I make have to bake some choc chip cookies after reading this post! It's been too long since I baked something completely indulgent.

  • Heidi - Apples Under My Bed December 11, 2010 at 8:42 am

    Xiaolu – thank you! I like to think so too, hehe.

    InTolerant Chef – just a bit 🙂

    Cate – thanks for the birthday wishes! and thanks for the support re the chia seeds restraint – v proud of myself.

    Anna – haha awe, I'll take that star!! hehe, no, it was very fun for me. You're not wretched or lazy. You're fabulous.

    Laurak – glad to know others struggle with the Siamese Twin effect 🙂 thanks for the birthday wishes too!

    Clairey – me too!! I am so in love with it.

    Julia – completely indulgent and completely fabulous 😉

    Heidi xo

  • Kath December 11, 2010 at 10:02 am

    My grandmother uses to make oat cookies that are flat like that. Very much reminds me! 😀

    Lovely baking! I hope you have a fine birthday birthday celebration!!

  • Emma @CakeMistress December 11, 2010 at 10:12 pm

    What lovely birthday treats! Keen on trying the berry and white choc muffins now that beautiful fresh fruit is in season.

    That's so awesome that you got Mum's Kenwood. My Mum has the exact same one and it's been going strong forever.

    Ha ha, Siamese Twin cookies! So true. Can't separate them, must eat them both 😉

  • Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella December 11, 2010 at 11:37 pm

    Ben's definitely a lucky man! I must give the Hummingbird Bakery book a try. I got it for my birthday this year and have yet to make anything from it!

  • Heidi December 12, 2010 at 8:56 am

    Kath – thank you! I love a flat cookie 🙂

    Emma – good old Kenwoods – they're wonderful! And yes, if you get a Siamese Twin cookie it means you can have two for one 🙂

    Lorraine – It is a great book, all the pies look fabulous too. I need to get my pie-bake on!

    Heidi xo

  • Agnes December 15, 2010 at 8:51 pm

    That is an incredible amount of baking for one morning! Definitely fiance of the year, I think. 🙂

  • Amy December 16, 2010 at 10:03 am

    Hey Heidi – To get a denser, less flat cookie I chill the dough in fridge for awhile. I think it does something to the butters in the dough mix to stop them spreading around so much. 🙂 Especially in summer!

    They all look so delicious! I've got two punnets of raspberries in my freezer (fresh from the canes!) that are asking to be baked in something… 🙂

    Amy