Chocolate Yogurt Snack Cakes

Honey I am a maths nerd. I came to this conclusion a while ago when I realized I sort of enjoy doing maths homework. There is just something about numbers that I find quiet satisfying. I love that little moment of suspension when you press equals in your calculator and wait to see if the answer looks reasonable. Joy just sweeps over me when I get the correct answer. I know it’s kind of sad and you probably think I need to get out more but it makes me happy.  Recently when I was watching Take 2 I found a mathematical mistake in it. The supposedly ever so clever character played by Liam Neeson gets mixed up between his radii and circumferences when telling his daughter to draw a picture, a mistake only a maths nerd like me would notice. I often spend hours doing maths homework simply because I don’t want to start Irish or Spanish (Languages were never really my thing). But they have to be done so after I might treat myself to  one of these yummy snack cakes.

On the note of homework and study anybody struggling with any of the science subjects/maths/finance I couldn’t recommend The Kahn Academy more. It is brilliant !!!!

Chocolate Yogurt Snack Cakes
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen 

Mammy describes this as decadent but not heavy, chocolaty but not sickening perfect for every time of the day.

Makes 18 cupcake-sized snack cakes

200 grams bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
125 ml vegetable oil
125 ml plain, whole-milk yogurt
150g sugar
, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
200 grams flour ( I used 100g of spelt and 100g of plain flour)

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a 18-cups of a  muffin tin with paper cupcake liners or lightly butter the pan.
In a heatproof bowl set over simmering water, melt the chocolate with 1/4 cup of the oil. Once melted and smooth, remove from the heat. (Alternately, you can do this in the microwave on high for 30 seconds, then in 15 second increments, stirring well between each until smooth.)
In another bowl, mix the remaining 1/4 cup oil with yogurt, sugar, eggs and vanilla and almond extracts.
In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the yogurt mixture. Stir lightly a couple times, then add the melted chocolate and stir until just smooth.
Divide the batter among the muffin or springform cups and bake for 20 to 25 minutes  or until they feel barely set in the middle and a tester or toothpick comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack before serving with coffee and a nice dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream and any berries you can scrounge up in your fridge. Or, you know, as is.
Do ahead: These cakes can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for four days.


Berry Nice Granola

Sometimes when I am alone in the house I blare music ( I am scared the neighbours will come in sometime to stop the party and find me alone) .

Sometimes I lie for no reason at all it just come out of my mouth I can’t control it.

Sometimes I lie awake in bed and wonder what I will be like in ten years time.

Sometimes (if no one is looking) I drink straight out of cartons and put them back.

Sometimes when I am sweeping the floors I just sweep everything out of the room and in to another.

Sometimes I spend hours at a time browsing food blogs on the internet and then  next time forget which good blogs I found. Pinterest  as reduced this problem greatly

Sometimes I stink my hand in the Granola jar and pick out all the cranberries or almonds, to eat.

I just love granola its my one weakness,
I came upon this granola recipe when I was spending hours browsing food blogs. I printed it out and kept meaning to make it, but things just kept putting me off – lack of ingredients, lack of time and the really good shop bought granola from Lidl. Finally I decided to make it and am I glad I did. Mammy said it was the best granola yet (and we are a granola family, we have a granola jar).

Berry Nice Granola

  • 300g rolled oats
  • 50g whole or chopped almonds and hazelnuts
  • 120g sunflower seeds
  • 50g of pumpkin seeds
  • 50g sesame seeds
  • 20g wheat germ
  • 125ml unsweetened apple juice
  • 4 tablespoons sunflower oil
  • dried berries (preferably unsweetened or naturally sweetened with fruit juice)

Preheat oven to 160 C. Mix oats, seeds, wheatgerm, apple juice, sunflower oil in a bowl, then spread out evenly on a baking tray ( I like to add the dried fruit at this stage as they get chewy.)
Bake, turning and mixing often, for about 45 minutes
Remove from oven and leave until cool.
Serve with yogurt or milk. You can keep it in an airtight container for about two weeks (  or granola jar).

Banana and Coconut Muffins

I had one of those days. You know the kind of days that you loose everything goes wrong. It all started with me skipping my dinner the night before, I then woke up in the middle of the night starving so at 2 am I went to and had a mini feast. I then was too full to sleep so I lay in bed for ages.  After much tossing and turning I decided to open the window. This made set off the house alarm waking the whole family and causing a lot of shouting generally in my direction. I then woke up with a slight sinus infection which meant I couldn’t put my contacts in so I spent the whole day going around blind, as I hate my glasses. None of  my formulas  would work out in physics class and I had to sit alone in English at the top of the class.  My head heart the whole day and  piano after school I just couldn’t concentrate. The loud banging of the notes only made my head hurt even more. At home I couldn’t wrap my head around Pascals Triangle  for maths homework. After 12 attempts I finally finished my physics question. I popped two Panadol and continued on. I began quoting Dido “wondering why got out of bed at all”. I noticed the black banana in the fruit bowl and my spirit began to perk up, coconut and banana muffins I thought. What I love about these is the mixture tastes just as good raw plus bananas contain tryptophan that the body converts into serotonin. Bananas can make you relax, feel happier and improve your mood and the potassium improves brain power and makes you more alert which I am going to need to be in class if I want to master Pascals Triangle.

Banana and Coconut Muffins adapted from Rachel Allens fruity muffins

  • 2 eggs
  • 100ml of milk
  • 100ml of natural yogurt
  • 75ml of sunflower oil
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 225g of plain flour
  • 3 tsp of baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp of baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 100g of wholemeal flour
  • 70g of brown sugar
  • 1 banana mashed
  • 50g of dessicated coconut

Preheat the oven to 180C. Line muffin tray with 12 cases.  Mix all the wet ingredients together including the banana. In another bowl sift the plain flour, baking powder and baking soda. Add the wholemeal flour, coconut and sugar. Fold into the wet ingredients. Be careful not to over mix. Divide the  mixture between the muffin cases. Cook for 20-25 minutes. The tops should spring back gently when cooked. Allow to stand in the tin for 102 minutes than transfer to a wire tray to cool. 

Nearly Sugar Free Cookies

I am officially back to school, no more lazy days or dossing I am into the full swing of 5th year work and study.  Home work has been a foreign word to me for over a year. Somebody described the transition from 4th year to 5th as “stepping out into bright light after spending the last year in a dark room. Last year I didn’t even have a pencil or pen in my pencil case but as I have been reminded by teachers and relatives I now begin a two year course that ends with the big LC- Leaving Certificate. I shudder at the thought. I have two years of left in my little school where teachers know my name and people look out for me then it is out into the big bad world. This time next year I will be filling out my CAO form and deciding what path to take, it all seems so scary.  I have no idea what I want to do or be, the options are limitless but yet I seem constrained in the choices can make. I can wait one more year before I really have to worry about all of that.

I am only two days into school and it seems just like I never left. My evening are now packed with homework but I still have tim e to make these cookies which are not really sugar free at all because as one of my teachers used to say “what do you call nearly right? …. wrong”, they contain maple syrup and chocolate chip, but you don’t have to litterly but sugar into them so I like to think they are that little bit healthier.


“Kinda” Sugar Free Cookies- adapted from Leon: Baking and Puddings

  • 280g plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 200g chocolate chips or chunks ( I used half dark and half milk)
  • 50ml honey
  • 200ml maple syrup
  • 75g unsalted butter, melted
  • 75ml of sunflower oil
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1. Heat the oven to 180°C. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
2. Mix together all the dry ingredients in a medium bowl (including the chocolate chips or chunks).
3. Mix together all the wet ingredients in a small bowl.
4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and stir until they are well combined, but do not over-mix.
5. Drop spoonfuls of the cookie dough on to the prepared baking tray.
6. Bake in the oven for only 11 minutes ( I tried 10 and they just need that extra one), and allow the biscuits to cool on the tray for 1 minute before transferring to a cooling rack.

Back to school lunch rolls

The end of August means one thing back to school. Back to school means new pens , teachers and homework but also with the start of school their is an attempt to make better lunches. This resolution, despite it’s best intention usually lasts about two months at most, before I return to sliced bread sandwiches. Yesterday after my first day of school I came up and made a brown/white/spelt roll for school lunch. I simply weighed out whatever flour I had in the press (left over from my summer bread making spree) added salt and yeast then mixed in some water, then added more yeast. I kneaded it for a little while – it allowed me to take my anger out on the starting of 5th year. I put in back in the bowl and forgot about it for about two hours. Then took it out cut it into squares, dipped in semolina and cooked for about 30 minutes. The result was a delicious roll/bap perfect holding all sort of fillings for a school lunch. Much better than a Sliced pan sandwich.

Suggestions for school lunch

Home made rolls filled with your choice salad, carrot and hummus

These lovely wraps mmmm….

This yummy quinoa salad

These muffins are top of my must try for lunch 

Bread Rolls

500g of flour (200g of spelt, 150g of strong white flour and 150g of whole wheat flour)

7g of yeast

400ml of water

7g of salt

40ml of olive oil

semolina for dusting

Put the flour in a bowl add the salt to one side and the yeast to another.  Pour in the 4/4 of the  water and oil. Mix the dough together until it forms a rough dough.  Add the rest of the water if needed you might not need to add the rest of the water, the dough should be soft but not sloppy. Tip the dough out onto a oiled surface and knead for about 10 minutes ( hard work but you “knead” to do it) Oil a square container and put the dough back in. Cover with a tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place for about 2-3 hours. When the dough has more than doubled in size and is springy to touch tip it out again onto a surface dusted sithe semolina. Try to keep as much air in the dough as possible so work gently with it. Cut it into 8-10 equal amounts and shape into a square by tucking the dough in underneath.Place on tray dusted with semolina and leave for ten minutes. At this point you could brush the rolls with milk and top them with seeds of your choice. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 200C. Cook for 25-30 minutes. 

Coconut and Chocolate Oaties

The recipe for these cookies is from an old book Mammy got years ago as a Christmas Present – Maida Heatter’s (rhymes with eaters) Book of Great Cookies first published in 1977. I never paid much attention to the book or Maida herself but there was one recipe that got a lot of attention in our house – Chocolate Oatmeal Cripsies.  Mammy used to make these cookies so often, we all loved them. Not only because they tasted good when they were cooked but because the raw mixture was delicious we used to fight over who got to lick the spoons.  I had been to busy making new recipes from blogs or new cookbook I hadn’t made the cookies in ages. They are really easy and the best part is licking the bowl clean at the end ( I have been making a lot of bread recently where you don’t get to do this). As the cooked an amazing aroma of chocolate and coconut filled the house, a smell I will forever associate with Mammy. I love how smell can evoke memories of people. These cookies are so delicious on their own but twice as nice sandwiched with vanilla ice cream enjoy.

Coconut and Chocolaty Oaties

  • 170g of semi-sweet chocolate (I used ½ semisweet and ½ bittersweet), cut into pieces
  • 60g  sifted all-purpose flour
  • 60g of wholemeal flour
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • 150g of granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 90g old-fashioned or quick-cooking (not instant) oatmeal
  • 100g of dessicated coconut

Adjust two racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat to 170C. Line cookie sheets with parchment or silicone mats or dus with flour.

Melt the chocolate in the top of a small double boiler over hot water on moderate heat. Set aside to cool for a few minutes.

Meanwhile, sift together the plain flour, baking soda, and salt, add the wholemeal flour and set aside. In the small bowl of an electric mixer cream the butter. Add the vanilla and the almond extracts and the sugar, and beat until blended. Beat in the egg and the melted chocolate. On low speed gradually add the sifted dry ingredients, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula and beating only until incorporated. Mix in the oatmeal and the coconut.

To divide the dough evenly: On a long piece of wax paper, place the dough by rounded tablespoonfuls in 15- equal mounds. Roll each mound between your hands to form a ball and place the balls on the cookie sheets at least 2 to 2½ inches apart, no closer.

Press the tops of the cookies with the back of the tines of a fork to flatten them to ½-inch thickness. First press all in one direction, and then press in the opposite direction.

Bake for about 15 minutes, reversing the sheets top to bottom and front to back once to ensure even browning. When done, the cookies will feel crusty on the tops, but semisoft in the centers— they will harden as they cool.

With a wide metal spatula, transfer the cookies to racks to cool.

Raspberry and Pine Nut Muffins

As I have already told you Mammy has instilled in me the importance of being a good host. She also has taught us that it’s not enough to be a good host but also a good guest. “Don’t leave wet towels on the floor”,  she would warn us before we stayed in anybody else’s house. “Offer to help around the house” “Be polite and don’t fight with each other” she would warn my sisters and I . Whenever we were packed off to stay with Aunties or friends our behavior was impeccable. We obeyed Mammy’s rules as we knew the significance of being a good guest. One other rule that Mammy had was bring something to the hostess. I have learned that the best sort of gifts for this occasion are the edible ones and brownie points if its is homemade and if it is homemade and contains a combination of butter and sugar, well then your just sucking up. Recently I spent two nights at a friends house while my family went to enjoy the beautiful scenery of Kerry. I obeyed all of Mammy’s guest rules, no towels were left on floors and I brought a homemade loaf of bread and these yummy raspberry pine nut muffins (I replaced the butter with oil so I am not quiet sucking up).

Rasberry and Pine Nut Muffins adapted from the BBC Good Food 
100ml of canola oil
25g lightly toasted pine nuts
1 tbsp milk
400g self-raising flour
175g golden caster sugar
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 large eggs
284ml carton buttermilk
225g fresh or frozen raspberries

Preheat the oven to 180C

Line a 12 whole muffin tin with muffin cases. Mix the flour, toasted pine nuts, sugar and bicarbonate of soda in a large bowl. In another bowl, beat the eggs, then mix in the buttermilk and oil. Stir this into the flour mixture until almost combined – it will need only a few stirs and the mix will feel light and airy. Tip in the raspberries, give a few more stirs to finish the mixing, but don’t overbeat or the mix will toughen. Spoon the mix into the muffin tins using an ice cream scoop – they will be very full.bake for about 25 mins until risen and golden. Let them cool in the tin a few minutes, then move to a cooling rack best eaten on the day buat within 2 days.


I have being going through a bread making phase lately. I recently bought Paul Hollywood’s “How to Bake” and have been making a different bread everyday. No low carb diets in my house anyway. Before I had always found that when I made yeast bread it never turned out right so I decided to start at the very beginning and make  a plain white Cobb, I followed the recipe and steps exactly – the result a delicious white loaf of bread. Next day I advanced on to brown bread. Again the result was  good well texture wise anyway, it was a little salty to taste but that’s easily corrected. I now felt I was ready to advance to a seed bread which contained a combination of rye, wholewheat and strong white flour. This time my loaf was not a success it was heavy and stodgy. I reviewed what I did wrong and I think I came up with my problem, you NEED to knead. For the previous two breads I had kneaded them for 5-10 minutes for the third loaf I had become more relaxed an kneaded for about 3 minutes. So it was back to basics I made the white Cobb again just to prove I still had my bread making mojo. Then I advanced to a spelt bread which was really tasty despite sticking to the parchment case used to line the tin. Then today I stepped a little outside my comfort zone and made baguettes. I was a little nervous about this their is something daunting about the long thin loaf. I was wrong though the hardest part making these was not eating all 6 as soon as they came out of the oven they smell so good. 

This recipe for the classic french loaf coincides with the 100th birthday of the women who made French cooking famous outside France, Julia Child

Baguette Recipe adapted from Paul Hollywoods How to Bake 

This dough is a lot wetter than most other dough so don’t be tempted to add more flour

500g of strong bread flour

7g of salt

7g sachet of instant yeast

370ml of water

olive oil for kneading

Lightly oil a rectangle or square container. (The shape of the tub is important as it plays a role in shaping the baguettes.)

Put the flour in a bowl. Put the yeast to one side and the salt to another side of the bowl (the salt can kill the yeast if it comes in direct contact with it). Add three quarters of the water to begin with and using a wooden spoon mix it vigorously ad the dough comes together add the rest of the water. Now using your hand shaped in a claw position combine all the flour and water. Keeping it in the bowl knead it, pull and mix it. I oiled my hands with the olive oil to prevent to much sticking. Work with the dough for about seven minutes. It is a little tedious but keep at it. Tip the dough into the square container and cover with a tea towel. Leave to rise for about 1 hour or until double in size.

Coat the work top with oil and tip the dough out on it. Handle it carefully you want to keep as much air as possible in it.

Divide the dough into 5-6 pieces.  (Shape each into an oblong by flattening the dough out slightly and and folding the sides into the middle. Then roll each into a sausage – the top should be smooth with a joint running along the bottom. Now beginning in the middle roll each sausage out with your hands. Don’t force it out by pressing heavly. Concentrate on a backwards forward movement and gently use the weight of your hands to roll out the dough to the length of the tray. ) I couldn’t do this instead I dipped each piece of dough into flour and gently rolled it out to a baguette shape.

Lightly flour two baking trays  Place 2-3 baguettes on tray. Place each tray inside a clean plastic bag tucking the edges under the tray. Leave for about one hour until the the dough has doubled in size and springs back when likely prodded. Meanwhile heat your oven to 220C and put a roasting tray in the bottom to heat up.

When your baguettes have risen and are light dust them with a little flour adn slash them with a very sharp knife. Fill the roasting tray in the oven with water to achieve a steamy oven that creates a crispy crust (essential) bake for 25 minutes or until the baguettes are golden brown. Cool on a wire rack and try not to eat straight away. 

Lemon Bars

I always wanted to be in the Olympics. During the Olympics the Cul de Sac where I live became a mini Olympic village as I would have mini Olympics with the neighbours. We had everything from high jump (three bamboo sticks made into a H shape using clothes pegs to support the horizontal bar, it would get higher as the competition went on) to soccer. The lack of essential  equipment, such as horses for dressage, never bothered us. We compromised instead or synchronized swimming we had synchronized swinging and I would challenge  anybody who doubted the competitiveness our mini Olympics. At the  end of each day medals wore awarded to those who deserved them this often resulted in great upset from other competitors.  For the Sydney Olympics I watched and re-watched Sonia take silver, shouting “Go on Sonia, Go on…..”at the re-runs. As I was only five it never dawned on me that it was the same race. I dreamed and still do of being in the Olympics only problem is I am only a month younger than Missy Franklin and I show little talent in any Olympic discipline. So I will have to put my dreams of being the next Katie Taylor (and who doesn’t want to be Katie Taylor) to bed. The main, and all important, reason being I don’t  box.  I can make really good lemon bars though, bet you the four time world champion, oylmpic gold medalist and former International soccer player can’t make a tea time treat as good as these.

I cut them when they were still hot so they crumbled, they still tasted good

Lemon Bars adapted from Leon Baking & Puddings

285g of plain flour plus 35g

80g of icing sugar

t teaspoon of salt

225g of unsalted butter

2 tablespoon of water

4 eggs

300g of sugar

120ml of lemon juice

1/2 tsp of lemon zest

1 teaspoon of baking powder

Heat the oven to 16oC


First make the shortbread base. Put the 280g of flour icing sugar and cold butter in the food processer and mix until crumbly. You could do this with the back of the fork or pastry cutter (or so the Leon book tells me) Mix until it forms a ball. Add the water if necessary. Press the dough into a 30×20 cm baking tin.  Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes or until lightly golden and set but it will still be soft as it hardens while it cools. Meanwhile beat the eggs add the sugar lemon juice and zest. Sift in the flour and baking powder. Spread on the cool shortbread and return to the oven for 20-25 minutes or until it is just set. Cool completely in the tin before cutting into squares. Take them out of the tin to serve. When taking them out the first one will usually fall apart as it is hard to get to I just use this one as the testing one and eat it.

“I’ll go tomorrow” Porridge

How do you start your mornings? In Spain I started my morning with this, a big bowl of cherries from the fruit shop next door to the apartment, and a crusty roll from the bakery two doors down. Then I went for a dip in the Sea in 20C water. I think it wold be a lot easier to get up everyday if I lived in Spain.

Back home in Ireland I usually start my day with a bowl of cereal or toast and whatever fruit is left in the bowl never very exciting.

Sometimes I go for a run ( only sometimes)

Other days I role over in bed and come up with some excuse and not even these will work. On the ” I’ll go for a long run tomorrow” mornings, I make myself this porridge so I feel good about myself. I find porridge is so wholesome it almost compensates for the run, or lack of it.

Porridge My Way 

I make porridge with pinhead oatmeal a.k.a  steel-cut oats a.k.a Irish oats. They take longer to cut but I prefer the texture. You could over course use rolled oats just follow the instructions on the packet. I cook it with all water but again thats just a preference use all milk or half and half for a creamier porridge. I make a big batch of pinhead oatmeal refrigerate it and then heat it up through out the week with a little water. 


One cup of steel cut oats

Four cups of water

Put the oats and water in a saucepan over the heat. Bring to the boil then simmer on a lower heat for 20-25 minutes. When the oats are creamy and tender, remove from heat . Serve immediately or allow to cool before transferring into air tight containers in the fridge. In the morning, add a splash of milk or water and reheat in the microwave or on the stove-top.


For a little variety I like to serve my porrige with toppings here are some suggestions.

Nuts for Bananas porridge

1/2 a banana sliced.

4-5 almonds and hazelnuts (toasted)

3 tablespoons of toasted dessicated coconut

drizzle of maple syrup.

Arrange the slices of bananas on the porridge. Scatter over the nuts and coconut. Then drizzle with the syrup.

Blueberry Bliss porridge

1/2 cup of blueberries (frozen is okay)

1/2 cup of flaked almonds (toatsted)

drizzle of honey

Gently heat the blueberries over a low heat or microwave them for about 45-60 seconds. They should be soft but still hold their shape. Place on top of the porridge and scater over the flaked almonds. Drizzle with honey for sweetness.

Peach Melba Porridge

One peach sliced into wedges.

3-4 tablespoons of natural yogurt

4-5 raspberries

drizzle of honey

Place the yogurt in the center of the porridge. Then top with peaches and raspberries. Drizzle with honey

Apple Crumble Porridge

One apple chopped up

2-3 tablespoons of coconut

2 tablespoons of flaked almonds

1 table spoon of sunflower seeds

Fry the apple slices over a low heat with a little butter or oil to soften them. Toast the coconut, almonds and seeds until just golden. Arrange the softened apple on top of the porridge and scatter with nut topping.