Friday, November 20, 2015

Review: Hunny Bunny's Cake Factory cupcakes

A couple of months ago I was invited by Hunny Bunny's Cake Factory, a newly opened cake business in Dubai, to try out their homemade cupcakes. As a self-declared dessert connoisseur I always jump at the chance to try out locally based baking businesses, and can understand how much work and effort goes into creating a good cake or cupcake - the base, the right balance of icing to cake, and flavour intensity are all factors which are crucial. Not that it means these factors ever go right for me!

As well as cakes, Hunny Bunny's has an extensive list of cupcake flavours to choose from, whether the more traditional or creative, both in taste and presentation. I decided to opt for their more original creations, going for the Absolute Arabian, Crazy Caramel, Happy Hi-Hat and Bombastic Banana. It had actually been a while since I had eaten any cupcakes at all so I looked forward to tasting them with enthusiasm. The verdict? They definitely did not disappoint! 

Absolute Arabian

With a coconut cake base and orange blossom and rosewater buttercream topped with pistachio slivers, this combination makes for a very pretty cupcake. By now you already know that I'm a sucker for anything rose water, orange blossom and pistachio flavoured. I also really love coconut so I couldn't wait to try this flavour the most and boy was it good. I absolutely loved it! There's something so good about the nuttiness in a coconut cake and together with the floral frosting it lent an amazing combination both in texture and taste! 

Crazy Caramel

This one is for the salty-sweet fans - salted caramel cupcake with salted caramel frosting and a pretzel on top. I had never tried a caramel cupcake before this and was really pleased that it wasn't as super sweet as you might imagine with most caramel flavoured desserts. The cake and frosting both had a pleasant caramel flavour, and the added hint of salt imparted that lovely contrast which makes salted caramel so irresistible! 

Happy Hi-Hat

This is seemingly just a chocolate cupcake, but once bitten into the chocolate dome reveals a fluffy meringue frosting encased inside the crispy exterior shell. So cute, and the meringue frosting was a lovely alternative to buttercream - think marshmallow pillowy-ness on cake! I loved that it was a different way to enjoy a chocolate cupcake and the cake base itself was perfectly chocolatey.

Bombastic Banana

This cupcake is Hunny Bunny Cake Factory's take on a banana split with banana cake, strawberry buttercream,  chocolate ganache, whipped cream style frosting and a cherry on top. It not only looks party perfect but with all the classic layers of a banana split also tastes like a party! The banana cake didn't have any of the artificial banana flavour you often get with banana desserts, and considering the number of toppings added it was indulgent without being overly so. 

Although my favourite's were the Arabian and Crazy Caramel it was hard to find any fault with all of the flavours I tried. They equally tasted how they read and none of the ingredients were crazily overpowering or too jarring. This went for both the cake base and the frosting as well as the toppings. 

How often have you eaten a cupcake only for the buttercream frosting to be far too sweet making it difficult to enjoy more than one cupcake in a sitting? With these cupcakes this wasn't the case - the frosting had just the right amount of sweetness and in addition it didn't overpower the cake bases. Similarly the sweetness of the cake itself too was balanced, with the cake to frosting ratio just right. I easily enjoyed two to three cupcakes in one go (don't judge!). As for the texture and baking quality, the cake base's were all moist, fluffy and neither over nor under-done. I would have happily eaten them even without the added frosting!

I cannot recommend Hunny Bunny's Cake Factory enough - if you're looking for quality cupcakes in both traditional and unique flavours you can't go wrong in choosing them for your special occasion or just as a special treat.

Order straight from their website at or call/whatsapp on +971568460856
Follow them too - 
Instagram: @hunnybunnys_cake_factory
Facebook: @hunnybunnycf
Twitter: @hunnybunnyscake

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Rose & Saffron Cream Kunafa Nests

As soon as the countdown to Eid nears one of the first things we tend to think of in our household is what sweets to prepare. This is especially true when we know it's going to be a long day of welcoming guests and needing to make something that's quick yet still impressive to serve with that first post-Ramadan afternoon tea! And so the idea for these Rose and Saffron Cream Kunafa Nests was born.

One of my absolute favourite Arabic desserts is kunafa (otherwise spelt as knafeh) - typically a dessert made up of two crisp layers of vermicelli, stuffed with a light but sweet cheese, and then soaked or drizzled with a wonderful rose sugar syrup concoction. I love how it cleverly uses cheese for that sweet and savory combo, which personally makes it irresistible.
Hence the idea behind this dessert came from my love of kunafa, whilst being inspired by a mix of those ingredients which are commonly used in Middle-Eastern and Asian sweets - rose petals, pistachio and saffron. All have long been used in a very festive way in both Middle Eastern and Asian cultures. Here instead of the usual akawi cheese, I decided to combine my beloved mascarpone (see previous recipes) with kunafa dough strands to create a dessert that, like the tradtional kunafa, is crunchy, sweet, creamy and aromatic all at the same time. Not to mention, it also looks very pretty once put together.

Using a cupcake tin also has its advantage as it means easy individual sized portions which aren't too filling, yet still worthy of seconds. Both the kunafa nests and mascarpone cream mix can be made ahead, so as to be assembled before serving.

Rose & Saffron Cream Kunafa Nests
Makes 12 nests. Preparation time 45 minutes.

250g kunafa dough, defrosted
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup caster sugar
2 & half tsp rose water
1 tsp orange blossom water
5-6 strands of saffron
250g tub of mascarpone
40g icing sugar
Pistachio slivers, for decorating
Dried rose petals, for decorating
Persian fairy floss, for decorating

1. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C, and using a cupcake tray shape and roll the kunafa strands into each mould of the tray. Bake in the oven for about ten minutes, keeping an eye out until they are golden in colour. Remove and leave to cool.
2. Meanwhile make the sugar syrup by boiling the water and sugar together for about three minutes, until the sugar has melted. Leave to cool slightly and then add one teaspoon each of the rose and orange blossom water. Add the saffron strands and mix to get a yellow tint.
3. To make the cream topping, combine together the mascarpone, icing sugar and remaining one and a half teaspoons of rose water.
4. To assemble, drizzle one teaspoon of the sugar syrup over each of the kunafa nests, and leave to soak for five minutes. Now using a teaspoon, dollop the mascarpone cream mix over each nest, and drizzle a little more sugar syrup over. Decorate with Persian fairy floss, pistachio slivers and rose petals before serving.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Healthy Chocolate Peanut Butter Breakfast Smoothie

When it comes to breakfast there are really only one of two things I like to make every morning - a generous yogurt, fruit and granola parfait, or a filling milk-based smoothie loaded with enough ingredients to take me through the till lunch time.

This smoothie right here has pretty much become my go-to smoothie on most mornings. Its so easy to throw together I could probably make it with both my eyes closed, and I love that there are days when I wake up craving it. Oh and if you love the combination of peanut butter and chocolate, the salty with the sweet, then you'll forever want to make this on most mornings like I do. It's exactly like drinking a sort-of-dessert for breakfast, yet with no added sugar and just the right amount of sweetness.

The best part? It really is 'healthy'.

Healthy Chocolate Peanut Butter Breakfast Smoothie
Serves 1

1 cup of milk of choice (I use Coconut Dream Unsweetened drinking coconut milk)
1 medium banana
1 tbsp peanut butter (I use Whole Earth Crunchy Organic)
1 tsp raw cacao powder (I use Superfoods Organic Raw Peruvian Cacao Powder)
1 tsp ground flax seed
Pinch of cinnamon powder
A few drops of pure coconut oil (optional)

Put all the ingredients together in a blender and blend till smooth. Adjust consistency with more milk if preferred. Pour into a tall glass and enjoy immediately!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Beela Bakes: Guide to Borough Market, London

Continuing on from my London Food Diary series, I knew I had to dedicate a post of its own to wondrous Borough Market. In all my twenty-three years living in the city, plus frequent trips back and forth since moving to Dubai, I had never visited the market before, and it ended up proving to be the most memorable food experience on this particular visit. Be prepared to queue and eat to your hearts content, but if there is at least one place you visit for food in London, I implore you to make it this.

Having done my research, I visited with my best friend on a Saturday afternoon which was deemed the best day to go, as although the market was pretty crowded we found stalls and stalls of food, with everything you can imagine to eat and such great choice. Whether you're looking to have lunch or dessert, Egyptian or Thai, or even artisanal products to take home, you'll be more than spoilt, and whats great is that the majority of stalls happily give out samples to try.

Our first stop was Koshari Street. I was first introduced to koshari, the popular Egyptian street dish through ones of Antony Bourdain's shows and had subsequently heard lots about the London eatery opened by Middle Eastern cookery writer Anissa Helou, so I was super eager to try it. And WOW. What an absolute must try! Completely vegetarian, it consists of a mix of lentils, rice, pasta and vermicelli, topped with a spicy tomato sauce, chickpeas and caramelised onions. As random as it sounds it was totally out of this world. If you can't visit them at the market, Koshari Street has their main branch in Covent Garden.

Fresh, hot, batter-fried calamari served with chopped red chilies and sweet chili sauce on the side was a definite highlight. My mind escapes me as to whether this was from a Spanish or Thai food stall (I'm thinking the latter) but nevertheless it was seriously good and still has me dreaming about my next trip to the market.

I dare you to leave Borough Market without trying a sugary treat from at least one of the numerous confectionary and bakery stands. As brownie addicts, my friend bought a brownie from Comptoir Gourmand whilst I tried one from Artisan Foods. In the end we both decided the former had the best one. In addition we bought artisanal doughnuts from Bread Ahead Bakery. If you are sweet-toothed I highly encourage you to try these, but much more on doughnuts in a follow-up post!

Hydration was found in the form of a smoothie from the Natural Smoothie Co. My forest green High Kick was a super blend of kiwi, pineapple, strawberry, banana, spirulina, linseed, apple and orange juice, and although I am weary of too many combinations in one smoothie, this one was faultless. 

To take back home with me I bought granola from Mini Magoo which does 100% organic cereal and granola mixes. Having tried some samples to taste, I settled on a pack each of their Funstuff! Ginger Seeds and Nuts mix, which was gluten, oat and wheat free, and their lovely Christmas granola with white chocolate pieces, cranberries orange peel and dates. They've been a great addition to my morning yogurt parfaits!

If you missed it, see my London Food Diary part 1 and part 2 for more on where to eat and dine when in the capital.