My Chocolate, Rocky Road, Tiffin, Special Chocolate Fridge cake…cak

A combination of about 200 recipes that I read online – chocolate tiffin that will disappear within seconds! This is one of those great recipes where you can literally throw in anything you want! I chose a rocky road type theme as you most definitely cannot go wrong with chocolate, marshmallows and maltesers!

Ingredients

  • 200g milk chocolate
  • 200g dark chocolate
  • 4 tbsp golden syrup
  • 50g butter
  • Maltesers (as many as you want)
  • 100g white chocolate
  • Raisins and dried cranberrys
  • Mini marshmallows

1. Prepare your tin by lining it with greaseproof paper

2. Melt the chocolate and butter carefully over a pan of boiling water or in the microwave (don’t let it get too hot or the chocolate will curdle!). Once nice and smooth, add the golden syrup and all the other ingredients and pour into your prepared tin.

3. Put in the fridge to set…

Done! It’s that easy and THAT good!

Gingerbread Men

Ever since November hit and the evenings started getting darker I can’t stop thinking about all things Christmas! I love the smells of Christmas and the pretty lights everywhere and giving presents to people I love! I know it’s early, but this year I’ve decided to put together hampers for my family so I need to practice!

Last night, gingerbread men were on the menu! Now, I’ve never baked biscuits before so I will be having to try out all sorts of different recipes to get them right. I only made a small batch because I wanted to see how they turned out before using all my dough. They turned out great, but weren’t as I feel gingerbread men should be! I think gingerbread men should be quite hard and these are chewy – which is FINE but not as I had expected, so I will use the rest of my dough to make gingerbread stars and decorate them with lemon icing!

Ingredients

  • 350g plain flour
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2tsp ground ginger
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon
  • 125g butter
  • 175g light soft brown sugar
  • 1 free range egg
  • 4tbsp golden syrup

Method

  1. Sift together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger and cinnamon and pour into the bowl of a food processor. Add the butter and blend until the mix looks like fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar.
  2. Lightly beat the egg and golden syrup together, add to the food processor and pulse until the mixture clumps together. Tip the dough out, knead briefly until smooth, wrap in clingfim and leave to chill in the fridge for 15 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180C and line two baking trays with greaseproof paper.
  4. Roll the dough out to a 0.5cm/¼in thickness on a lightly floured surface. Using cutters, cut out the gingerbread men shapes and place on the baking tray, leaving a gap between them. If you want to use them as decorations, use a skewer to make a small hole.
  5. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until lightly golden-brown. Leave on the tray for 10 minutes and then move to a wire rack to finish cooling. Be careful because they can literally catch and burn within seconds, so check them after 10minutes.

Mini Pink Lazy Daisy

I loved the name of this recipe – is it wrong that this maybe 90% of the reason I decided to try it out?? The final result needs work, but it tastes really reeeally good. I made a mini cake because it was for my lovely grandparents – Tea for two!

Using a 5cm mini cake tin (Lakeland Pushpan!) I made a simple vanilla sponge and baked it until a skewer came out clean (approx 30minutes as it’s a deep pan).

My cake took about 30minutes, but the pan is quite deep, so after 20minutes check it regularly to make sure it doesn’t burn!
When the cake is baked, take it out of the oven and leave to cool. Then remove from the cake tin and allow to cool through completely before using a knife to seperate into 3 sections.
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Now, for the icing! This will cover a 22cm cake…
  • 375g cream cheese, softened.
  • 90g Icing sugar – but add to tase
  • 75g butter, softened
  • 140g roasted hazlenuts, roughly chopped
For the Glace Icing
  • 185g icing sugar
  • water
  • pink food colouring

To make the cream cheese frosting …

-*- beat the cream cheese and butter with electric beaters until smooth and creamy. Then gradually beat in the icing sugar and vanilla essence until it thickens. Set aside a cupful, and put both in the fridge until ready to use.

-*- When your cake is completely cooled, slice into sections horizontally 3-4 depending on the size of your cake (I did 3 for my mini cake).

-*- Put one bottom cake half on a serving plate and spread over a layer of your cream cheese frosting, then top with another layer of cake. Repeat the layering process, but don’t put any frosting on the very top.

-*- Spread the reserved icing around the sides of the cake (not the top) and press the hazlenuts firmly around the outside.

Glace Icing

-*- Sift your icing into a bowl and slowly add hot water until you get a thick consistancy with no lumps. Set a teaspoon or so aside and tint with some pink food colouring, now put this into a piping bag with a thin nozzle.

-*- Pour your white icing over the top of the cake, quickly spreading to the edges. Don’t worry about any pouring over the top, you can trim these off later.

-*- Moving fast, as this needs to be done when both icing are still wet, snip the end off your piping bag and pipe even rows of pink icing across the top of your cake. Gently drag a skewer across the pink lines, giving it a feathered effect.

-*- Leave to set.

Aaaand Voila …

I know – it’s a bit wonky and some hazlenuts got stuck in the glace icing! But it was a first attempt and it will be perfect next time :P  The hazlenut part is quite hard on a mini cake!

It’s been a while!

It’s been a while since I last posted – nearly a month, haven’t I got lazy! I haven’t been sat on my bum for the whole time though, I’ve been eating lots and baking occasionally.

I’ve attempted truffles, more cupcakes and lazy daisy’s! I was really pleased with my truffles. Now. I would love to say that they were reeeally difficult to make…but they’re not. They are incredibly easy, if a little time consuming. But the result is gorgeous and I think they will make lovely little Christmas presents!

I shall post my truffle recipes in due course. But in the mean time, some photos!

Birthday cupcakes :  dark chocolate and raspberry centres, with chocolate buttercream topped with half a raspberry.

 

Last minute pud

Sunday’s weather was absolutely gorgeous and I spent most of the day lying up the garden soaking up the sun, big smiles all round :) . I wish the rest of the summer had been like that!

It does worry me slightly that we’ve just had the hottest October day on record…it doesn’t seem right that we have 85degree weather in what should be winter?! My dad wasn’t to be fooled by the heat though – none of that salad stuff, his roast beef was still on the cards.

Gorgeous pink roast beef, with amazing roasted parsnips and potatoes, greens and gravy! Nom nom nom.

As dinner was being prepared, I suddenly realised we hadn’t got pudding sorted! We’d been so busy sunning ourselves silly that we hadn’t thought about it. Unforgivable.

We didn’t have much in the cupboards, but we did have some apples from the garden, some eggs and some sugar. What came to mind? Meringue of course!! Bit of a twist on the old lemon meringue pie classic, using the apples and a few blueberries. I’d forgotton quite how easy meringue is to make, whisk eggs whites and add a load of sugar! Easy!

Minus one egg....!?

It’s a better photo right? I’m getting used to my camera, finally! Although, this photo is missing an egg…I didn’t notice until I looked at the photos…it must have rolled off?!

Ingredients (for the meringue):

  • 4 egg whites: absolutely NO yolk or the meringue won’t work
  • 225g caster sugar

*I melted the dark chocolate at the last minute and drizzled it over the meringue to serve.
*Almonds are an optional addition to the meringue. Scatter over the top of the uncooked meringue before putting in the oven.

Method:

  • Put the egg whites into a large mixing bowl and using an electric whisk, whisk the whites until they form firm peaks. At this point…if you’ve whisked them enough and haven’t let any stray yolks into the mix…you should be able to hold the bowl over your head and the mixture will stay put. Go on. Try it! I dare you …
  • Then gradually add half the sugar and whisk until well combined. Be careful that you don’t over beat, the mixture should be firm, thick and glossy when ready.


  • Using a metal spoon, carefully fold in the rest of the sugar. Be careful to fold lots of air into the mixture, not knock it out. You want your meringue to be gaaaawjus and light!
  • At this point you can do what you want with the meringue! Dollop it on top of stewed apples, or lemon filling OR pipe it onto a lined baking tray for individual meringues OR even just slap the whole lot on a baking tray for one giant meringue!


  • The cooking part of the meringue is where you have to think about things a bit more. Do you want it to be chewy in the middle but crisp on top? Do you want it all to be crispy? Or do you want it to be slightly crisp on the top and gooey in the middle? Decisiiiions!
  • I like mine crisp on top and chewy in the middle. To achieve this, bake the meringue for approx.20-30minutes at 180degrees. Make sure to check it half way through, as the peaks can catch. When the top of the meringue is crisp and lightly browned, turn off the oven and leave the meringue in there for at least another hour, 2hours for best results. For maximum gooey-ness leave the meringue to sit out of the oven for another 30minutes before slicing.
  • If you dollop the meringue ontop of a filling, make sure it touches the edges slightly in order to anchor it to the filling. You don’t want it sliding around!


As you can see there is a slight imperfection in the meringue. You can see the gooey centre, because SOMEONE started nibbling before I could take the photo! Tut tut. It did taste good though …

The Marvellous Mrs Beeton

“A place for everything and everything in its place”

Banana bread in hand, I visited my grandparents this week after work. Over a nice cup of tea, the chat turned to cooking (ofcourse!) and my Nana dragged out some of her old cookery books – one of which was Mrs Beetons Household Management. How had I never heard of this person before?! The legendary Mrs Beeton was THE original celebrity cook, outselling Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations when her book was first released.

Printed in 1923, our copy has been handed down from my great grandma. The book attempts to cover all aspects of running a home, from recipes to providing a template for being the perfect housewife. Most of the content is completely irrelevant to us now, but it definitely proves for an amusing read!!

Some interesting quotes:

“FRIENDSHIPS SHOULD NOT BE HASTILY FORMED, nor the heart given, at once, to every new-comer”
From the chapter: The Mistress

“LET all the kitchen utensils used in the preparation of invalids’ cookery be delicately and ‘scrupulously clean;’ if this is not the case, a disagreeable flavour may be imparted to the preparation, which flavour may disgust, and prevent the patient from partaking of the refreshment when brought to him or her.”
From the chapter: Invalid Cookery

“I have always thought that there is no more fruitful source of family discontent than a housewife’s badly-cooked dinners and untidy ways”
From the preface.

The book was published in 1861 by the young Mrs Beetons husband, Sam, who was a publisher (and it turned out a bit of a cad!)  from London. She covered everything that a woman would need to know including being the perfect mistress, management of children (!!!), cookery, INVALID cookery and the hiring and firing of servants.

Mrs Beeton is now a household name and her book became a bible for housewives in managing their day to day lives. Her own life wasn’t quite so perfect though, however tidy and organised she was, Isabella Beeton ened up dying, aged 28…worn out by miscarriages, over-work and her husband – who may have given her syphilis….hmm. Definitely food for thought.

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As a normal person…I find some of the recipes in the book really weird,  including sheeps tongue braised or fried…I mean, I physically shuddered at the thought of this being put infront of me?!!

My grandpa, an ex-butcher/rugger bugger is happy to eat any part of an animal and I have heard stories of how my Nana would curl an Ox tongue into a dish to bake for their supper … I can’t imagine that happening in many kitchens in England now!

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It’s definitely going to prove an insightful read …

The Marvellous Mrs Beeton showed on BBC2 last night presented by Sophie Dahl – worth trying to catch up on.

Sushi : Second Attempt

My craving didn’t disappear after my first sushi making sesh! In actual fact, it grew. Who’d have thought it possible?

I found a photo on my phone today of my second attempt at sushi making, this time without the sensible thinking and steady hand of my sushi-making buddy, Elle.

I used crispy chicken as a filling, with some fresh baby spinach and teriyaki sauce.

If I had to give some advice about sushi making though. Don’t eat as you go along. I pick and pick at the bits of chicken until when it comes to actually eating the finished product – i’m full! Rubbish.

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Again, what a terrible picture! I promise to get better. You can tell by the photo why I need Elle to help with the cutting of the sushi – it’s not exactly straight …

Banana Bread

I bought some bananas at the weekend and ended up not eating any of them … waste of money? NO! I used the old, mushy, brown bananas to make BANANA BREAD! Perfect with a cup of tea, slathered with lots (and lots) of butter! I made 2 loaves: the first one turned out great … but the second one caught on the top a little bit –  I won’t show you what that one looked like …

Ingredients (makes 2 loaves):

  • 6 very ripe bananas (i’m talking brown and mushy!)
  • 125ml vegetable oil
  • 115g butter (softened)
  • 335g caster sugar
  • 4 free range eggs
  • 450g plain flour
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • 1tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1tsp ground cloves (optional)
  • 1/2tsp salt
  • 225g raisins
  • 225g pecans (optional – I did not use because I really hate pecans!)

Method:

  • Preheat your oven to 200deg.C. Grease and line 2 medium loaf tins
  • Mash the bananas with the vegetable oil in a bowl and set aside. I used a potato masher for this stage. It does seem like a lot of oil, but don’t worry keep mixing and it’ll come together eventually. It does make the cake lovely and moist, promise!
  • In a seperate, large mixing bowl, cream the butter and the sugar together until pale and fluffy. If you’re used to making cakes, don’t worry it will cream eventually, it just takes a bit longer because there is less butter!
  • Beat the eggs into the butter/sugar mix, one at a time. Use a wooden spoon for this stage.
  • Now stir the banana mixture until everything is well combined. It will not look appetising at this stage so don’t worry!


  • Sieve the flour, baking powder, ground spices and salt into another bowl and gently fold into the banana mixture. Make sure you get right to the bottom, combining all the flour to the wet mix.
  • Finally, fold in the raisins and any other dry ingredients you want to add. I’m going to try dark chocolate next!
  • Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tins and transfer to the preheated oven. Now, the recipe I used said to bake for 1.5 hours. BUT my oven is fan assisted so it baked in just over an hour! Make sure you do check the loaves as the top can catch quite easily as it’s rising. If it looks like it’s colouring too much, cover it loosely with tin foil.
  • To check if it’s ready, insert a knife or skewer into the thickest part of the loaf. If it comes out clean it’s ready!
  • Leave your loaves to cool before removing.


I love banana bread, spread thickly with butter and with a cup of tea :) perfect. My colleagues clearly agree as this picture was taken moments after I got it out of the tin.

A cooks greatest compliment? An empty plate!

Brownies!

I wandered past a bakery yesterday and saw brownies in the window. Yes, I carried on walking…

When I got home, I couldn’t help looking up a recipe and decided to get baking! The recipe is really simple and takes less than 30minutes. “Melt and mix” is the basis of the brownie – see? Easy!

I think mine taste better than they look in my photo … I’m certainly not going to end up with a career in food photography!

There is a huge amount of sugar in these though – not one  for those who are watching their waistlines…

*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-**-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*

Ingredients:

  • 275g Plain Chocolate
  • 275g Butter
  • 85g Milk Chocolate (broken up into small pieces)
  • 85g White Chocolate (broken up into small pieces)
  • 175g Plain Flour
  • 1tsp Baking Powder
  • 4 Large Eggs (lightly beaten with a whisk)
  • 1tsp Vanilla Essence
  • 325g Caster Sugar
Yes you’re not mistaken, that does say 325g of sugar. Lots and lots of lovely calories :)
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Method:
  1. Preheat your oven to 170c
  2. Line a fairly shallow tin with lightly buttered greaseproof paper. (Grease underneath and on top so there are no issues getting the cooked brownies out! You want the tin to be quite shallow because the brownies are very rich so you only want small ones)
  3. Break up the plain chocolate into squares and melt. You can do this by placing the chocolate in a bowl and sitting this over a pan of simmering (not boiling) water. Be careful that the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water as this can cause the chocolate to burn.
  4. Stir the chocolate until it melts and then add all the butter, stirring until it’s all melted and well combined.
  5. Sieve the flour and baking powder into a bowl and set aside
  6. Remove the melted chocolate from the heat and stir in all that lovely sugar. Make sure it’s all well combined and that there are no lumps of sugar anywhere.
  7. Add the beaten eggs and vanilla essence and stir thoroughly until well mixed.
  8. Now fold in the flour and baking powder mixture along with the chocolate chips.
  9. Pour the chocolate mixture into the prepared cake tin, spreading it around evenly before baking in the oven for between 20-25minutes. Do check it because this can catch and burn really quickly. It should be firm-ish on top and a bit crispy, but soft and gooey in the middle.
  10. Allow to cool in a tin completely before trying to remove.
  11. Transfer to a plate and cut into small squares.
Enjoy with a nice cup of tea :)

Nigella Dips

I’m partial to a good cookery programme and I think Nigella Bites is one of the best. She cooks such delicious and indulgent food that’s easy to re-create.

A recent episode showed us lots of different dishes to serve for a friends. They were all really easy and simple dishes, but put them together and they create a great sharing menu.

One of the mini dishes she created was a hummus dip. It looked so scrummy that it actually made me go out and buy some; I’d never eaten hummus before!

Basically, she mixed some hummus with a bit of natural yoghurt to make it nice and smooth, scattered over some toasted pine nuts and a drizzle of olive oil. If they’re in season, sprinkle over some pomegranate seeds to top it all off! Serve with some pitta bread and it takes an ordinary dip to another level and it looks pretty too!

Personally I’m not a fan of ordinary hummus but I love the roasted tomato version (from Waitrose), served with some toasted pitta bread and it’s perfect as a light lunch.

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