Sunday, 24 February 2013

Raspberry Ripple Ice-Cream

Raspberry ripple is my favourite flavour ice-cream, so it was the first I wanted to try for an Ice Cream Sunday. (If you recall, January was healthy baking month so we had a healthy fruit sorbet rather than an actual ice-cream!)

This recipe uses the same base as the pistachio ice cream I made for Fun and Fancy Free all those many months ago. Due to the raw egg in this, please do not eat it if you are pregnant or poorly!

For the raspberry syrup:
30g fresh raspberries
3 tbsp caster sugar
1tbsp water

For the ice cream:
1 egg
30g caster
150ml double cream
1 tsp vanilla paste
heart sprinkles, to decorate (optional)

Prep time: 30 mins
Freeze time: Minimum 6 hours
Serves: 2 to share, or 1 for an indulgent evening in!
  1. Start by making your raspberry syrup, as you'll need to give this time to cool! Chop the raspberries into small chunks, then pop them into a saucepan with the sugar and the water. Bring to the boil, stirring occasionally, until the sugar and raspberries have dissolved and the mixture has a syrup like consistency. Remove from the heat and set to one side to cool.
  2. For the ice cream, separate the egg and place the yolk to one side. Whisk the egg white until stiff, then whisk in the sugar 1tbsp at a time, being sure to beat well between each addition to make sure the sugar dissolves. Continue to beat until the mixture is stiff and glossy.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat the double cream until thick and pillowy, but not too stiff.
  4. In a final bowl, beat together the egg yolk and the vanilla paste.
  5. Fold the whipped cream and the egg yolk into the egg white mixture, being careful not to loose too much of the air you've worked in to each. When the mixture has come together, pour in the raspberry sauce and swirl through with a spatula. Pour the ice cream mix into a plastic container, and top with sprinkles (if using). Place the lid on the container, and freeze for at least 6 hours before serving.
  6. Enjoy :-)

Happy Thoughts

Friday, 22 February 2013

Butter Biscuits

There are certain things that Sundays are made for: laying in bed late, taking walks in the sunshine, long baths, blogging, massive roast dinners, and not to forget tea and biscuits.

These butter biscuits are melt-in-the mouth delicious. The recipe below is just for the biscuits - which taste great on their own with a sprinkling of icing sugar. The taste equally delicious when sandwiched with a little jam and vanilla buttercream, as pictured above! I make these with a biscuit gun I received as a Christmas gift a few years ago, but the recipe works equally well if piped using a standard piping bag and nozzle.


175g slightly salted butter
50g icing sugar
175g plain flour
1 tsp vanilla essence

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 15 - 20 minutes
Makes between 30-40 biscuits, (or 15-20 sandwiched biscuits)

  1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 4 and line a baking tray (or two!) with greaseproof paper.
  2. Lightly cream the butter and sugar until smooth and fluffy, then beat in the vanilla essence.
  3. Sift the flour into the bowl and then beat into the mixture until you have a smooth, pipe-able dough.
  4. Put the dough into a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle - or into a biscuit gun if you have one! - and pipe shapes onto the lined baking sheet. 
  5. Bake for 15 - 20 minutes, or until golden brown all over, then take out of the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack.
  6. Taste one or two as soon as they are cool enough to handle, because that's chef's perks and it would be rude not to! To serve, eat as they are, dust with a light sprinkling of icing sugar, or sandwich together with your favourite jam and buttercream!
No real reason for this picture, I just like it. As an indicator to how many biscuits you get from the quantities used above, as well as the 27 biscuits pictured above there are another 12 in the oven!

Happy Thoughts

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Cake'n'Bake Wednesday: MBS&V Brownies

MBS&V = Mars Bar, Salt and Vinegar. Bear with me.

When we decided that the theme for February 2013 would be "guilty pleasures", I knew exactly what mine would be based on: a delightfully disgusting habit I discovered as a young teenager. See I was a young teenager in the early 2000's, in the time before Jamie Oliver launched his attack on Turkey Twizzlers and before anyone even considered sending their kids to school with a healthy, nutritious packed-lunch. So my packed lunch usually consisted of a soggy sandwich, a packet of crisps (Salt and Vinegar, naturally) and a chocolate bar. I've never been overly fond of sandwiches, so that usually got binned, and I spent my later school years (without my mother's knowledge or consent, I should add!) lunching on mars bars and salt and vinegar crisps. But boy did I know how to make the most of it! I would break the mars bar up into chunks, and put these INSIDE the bag of salt and vinegar crisps. I would then take a chunk of mars bar out of the crisp bag, sandwich it between two crisps, and shove the whole lot in my mouth in one bite. I know, it sounds disgusting, but trust me, the combination of crispy, crunchy, salty crisps, with sweet, gooey mars bar is the tastiest contradiction ones tongue could ever know.

As I got older and wiser I started eating healthy lunches, but ever so often I'd treat myself to my tasty guilty pleasure... so that's why we ended up with Mars Bar and Salt & Vinegar brownies! I found it quite amusing actually, that the last time I made brownies I did my best to strip back the fat and the sugar to make them has healthy as possible, but this time I added three chocolate bars and two packets of crisps, making them possibly the least healthy thing you could eat!

Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 40 minutes
Makes 12 brownies

225g margarine
100g cocoa powder
3 mars bars
4 eggs
450g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
150g self raising flour
2 packets of salt and vinegar crisps

  1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 4 (180) and line a square cake tin with greaseproof paper.
  2. Melt the margarine in a saucepan over a low heat. Once completely melted, remove from the heat and stir in the cocoa powder until a thick, smooth mixture forms. Leave this to one side to cool.
  3. Whilst the chocolate mixture is cooling, chop your mars bars into bite-sized chunks.
  4. Tip the eggs, sugar and vanilla extract into a large mixing bowl and whisk at a high speed until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is thick, pale and creamy. Fold in the cooled chocolate mixture and the chunks of mars bar until the chocolate is all stirred through.
  5. Add the flour to the bowl and fold in until just combined, then transfer the mixture into the prepare baking tin.
  6. Crush the crisps into small chunks and sprinkle these over the top of the brownie mixture. Bake for 40 minutes, until firm to touch. Allow the brownie to cool in the tin before cutting into chunks.

Happy Thoughts

Friday, 15 February 2013

Lindt Lindor Cupcakes

These might be my favourite cupcakes ever. I know that's a lofty claim, but man alive, do these taste good! They are rich, decadent, and taste of the most amazing chocolate in the world. (Although they are a little messy to eat!)

I had a big box of Lindor leftover after Christmas, and the birthday of a friend coming up, so I decided to turn those gorgeous little truffles into gorgeous little cakes. My friend Dale described them as "an amazing little chocolate bomb" - I'd say he's not far off! I used a variety box of Lindor, so ended up with 4 different flavours of cupcake, but you could just as easily use the instructions below to make just one flavour :-)

65g Cocoa powder
100g plain flour
pinch of salt
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp baking powder
60 ml water
60ml milk
75g butter
150g granulated sugar
1 medium egg
24 Lindor truffles (I had 6 each of the Milk Chocolate, Dark Chocolate, White Chocolate and Hazelnut varieties)
150g unsalted butter
300g icing sugar

Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Makes 12 cupcakes (3 of each flavour)
  1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 5 and line a bun tray with cupcake cases.
  2. Sift the cocoa powder, flour, salt, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder together into a bowl and put to one side. In a second bowl or jug, mix together the water and milk.
  3. Beat together the butter and sugar until fluffy, then add the egg and beat until combined.
  4. Stir half of the dry ingredients mixture into the butter and sugar, then add the milk and water, followed by the remaining dry ingredients, beating until combined between each addition.
  5. Spoon 1tsp of the mixture into each cupcake case, then gently press in a truffle. Spoon another 2 tsp of the cake batter over the truffle to cover it completely, then bake for 15 minutes until firm around the edges (you'll notice the middle sinks slightly where the truffle has melted, don't worry, this will be filled with delicious buttercream!) Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan.
  6. Whilst the cakes are cooling, prepare the butter cream topping. You should have three of each flavour truffle leftover - melt these in the microwave in 10 second bursts, stirring between each stint in the microwave to ensure they don't burn, then put them to one side to cool.
  7. Beat the butter until smooth and creamy, then stir in the icing sugar a little at a time until combined. Divide the butter cream equally between your bowls of melted chocolate, and stir int quickly to combined.
  8. Once the cakes have cooled, spread the butter cream over them (if you're making different varieties like I did, make sure the flavour of the butter cream corresponds with the truffle inside the cake!)
  9. Stuff one in your mouth and try not to faint from the chocolaty goodness!

Happy Thoughts

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Cake'n'Bake Wednesday: Quick Sugar Roses

Here's another post from our Valentine's themed Cake'n'Bake meeting in February 2012. A few of the other members seemed keen to learn how to make the little roses that featured on some of my cake pops (posted last week), so I wrote this quick and (hopefully) easy tutorial.

If you want to make large, fantastically detailed realistic looking roses, there are loads of really good tutorials on youtube, (like this, for instance!) However, if you're short on time and equipment but want some small roses to go on top of cupcakes or cakepops, and aren't too fussed about them looking perfect, then this is for you!

You will need some ready to roll/fondant icing in a colour of your choice, plus some icing sugar to powder your hands and prevent the roses from becoming too sticky.

  1. Roll your fondant into a sausage shape around 75mm in thickness. 
  2. Cut your sausage into 6 pieces, 5 of which are around 1cm long and the other which is 1.5cm long. place any remaining fondant to one side and use this to make other roses.
  3. Roll your smaller pieces into balls, and then flatten each into a petal shape with you fingers, paying special attention to the edges, making sure these are as flat as possible. (It's probably best to put some icing sugar on your fingers for this to prevent the petals getting too sticky) The larger piece should also be flattened, but this is better as a long shape.
  4. Take your long flat petal and roll this back on itself to make a small spiral. (You can finish here is you just want a rosebud!)
  5. Take the smallest of your remaining petals, and press this onto your rosebud at the bottom and sides, but leave the top loose. You want to make sure that each petal overlaps, so place you petals in such a way that the "end" of the last petal you placed is in the centre of each new petal you place. 
  6. Use your fingers to roll back the top of each petal, then add the next and repeat the process until all 5 petals are used.
  7. You'll find that you have quite a large "handle" of icing where you've been adding/holding each petal. to remove this (and ensure your rose has a flat base so it's easier to stick to your cakes and pops) place a small sharp knife where you'd like to trim the base, then gently apply pressure whilst you turn the rose. You should be left with a pretty rose with a flat base perfect for adding to small cakes!
I hope you find that helpful...

Happy Thoughts

Friday, 8 February 2013

Mini Jammie Dodger Cheesecakes

I'm going to start by apologising about the photo here. I made this cheesecakes back in August 2012, and for some reason only have this one really bad photograph of them... ooops! I promise that they taste much better than they look!

Anyway, the story behind this recipe is that in July 2012 I went on a holiday park type holiday with my family. The 7 of us (plus pet dog) crammed ourselves into tiny caravan rooms for a week and had an absolute blast. We played bingo, and got to see Shane Ritchie Jr and Chico perform. I know, right!? Anyway, at the cafe on-site they had a big poster for Jammie Dodger Cheesecake, which, quite frankly, looked the bees knees. But it was constantly sold out, so we didn't get to try any. So, a few weeks later I had a free Sunday and decided to have a go at making my own, and here they are! These cheesecakes are very, very sweet, which is why they come in small portions :-)

100g shortbread biscuits
50g butter, melted
100g creme fraiche
100g cream cheese
25g caster sugar
1 egg
1tsp vanilla essence
50g strawberry jam
6 mini Jammie Dodgers

Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 40-45 minutes
Makes 6 Cheesecakes
  1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 4 and lightly grease a 6-hole muffin pan. I use a frylight spray as you get a nice, thin and even coverage :-)
  2. Turn the biscuits into biscuit crumbs, either by whizzing in a blender, or by sticking them in a food bag and bashing them with a rolling pin. Once the biscuits are sufficiently crumbed, stir in the melted butter. Share this mixture evenly between the 6 holes of the muffin pan, and press down with the back of a spoon. Pop this in the fridge to set whilst you prepare your filling.
  3. Tip the creme fraiche, cream cheese, caster sugar, egg and vanilla essence into a large bowl and whisk on a high speed until the combine to form a thick, creamy mixture.
  4. Take the cheesecake bases from the fridge, and place a teaspoon of strawberry jam into the centre of each one. Spoon the cheesecake filling over the top of the jam and the biscuit base, filling each hole of the muffin try almost to the top. 
  5. Gently place one of your mini-jammie dodgers on top of each cheesecake, then bake for 40-45 minutes until the filling is firm to touch but still jiggly and starting to brown.
  6. Remove from the oven and allow the cheesecakes to cool in the pan before placing back in the fridge until ready to serve.
Happy Thoughts

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Cake'n'Bake Wednesday: Valentine's Cake Pops

Valentines was the theme for our February 2012 meeting, but I had already decided what I wanted to bake. My Mum got me this wonderful Cake Pop recipe book for Christmas, and since then I really wanted to try them. However, I'd had my heart set on making Macaroons in January, so the Cake Pops got pushed back a month and ended up being my Valentines themed bake instead. (Stick hearts and flowers on anything and it's automatically Valentines themed ;-P) I was also lucky enough to have this recipe feature in Macmillan Cancer Care's Little Book of Treats 2012 - the Cake'n'Bake Club voted for this as their favourite recipe for a "luxury treat" and so this was the recipe we submitted. Proud doesn't even cover how I felt when I was able to buy a copy in M&S!

Cake Pops are, in theory, really simple to make. In practise; well it was a little bit of trial and error, and the recipe in the book (in my opinion) used way too much icing which made the mixture difficult to handle. What I would say is if you want to give Cake Pops a go then just do it! They are great fun to make and even when decorated simply they look fantastic! I've amended the original recipe and directions below to add in some of the hints and tips I learnt in the process. I used chocolate cake with vanilla icing, white chocolate and pink candy melts, however you could use pretty much any flavour (or combination of flavours of) cake, icing, chocolate, candy melts, you name it! One idea I toyed with, but didn't try this time was melting some fondant to coat the cake balls and having fondant fancy inspired pops... Just a thought!

Prep time: Around 2 hours
Make 20 Cake Pops

125g margarine
125g caster sugar
2 medium eggs
125g self raising flour
2 tbsp cocoa powder
50g cream cheese
100g icing sugar
150g white chocolate buttons or white candy melts
300g pink chocolate buttons or pink candy melts
3-4 tsps vegetable oil, as required
love heart shaped sprinkles
8 fondant roses

You will also need some lollipop sticks, and a block of polystyrene to stand you cake pops in as they set!

  1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 4, and grease and line a baking tin.
  2. Beat the margarine and sugar together until creamy, then add one of the eggs and beat til fluffy. Fold in half of the flour and the cocoa. Beat in the second egg, and then fold in the remaining flour. 
  3. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake for 25-30 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Remove the cake from the tin and leave to cool on a wire rack.
  4. Whilst your cake is cooling, it's a good idea to make your sugar roses, and clear some space in your freezer! You can also get the cream cheese icing ready, by beating together the cream cheese and icing sugar until creamy.
  5. Once the cake is completely cool, break it into pieces. You want to turn your cake into crumbs and the easiest way to do this is to stick the pieces in a blender and give them a quick whizz, however if you don't have a blender you could always use a cheese grater and crumb you cake by hand, but this takes much longer. 
  6. Once your cake is sufficiently crumbed, mix in half of the cream cheese icing. Add more icing as needed to bind the crumbs together, but be careful not to add to much or it may make your mixture too sloppy to work with. 
  7. Measure 30g blobs of the cake pop mixture, and roll these into balls. Place the balls onto a lined baking tray and into the freezer for at least 20 minutes. (Gives you a chance to wash up some of those dishes... this recipe uses a lot of dishes!)
  8. Once the cake balls are solid, melt your chocolate/candy melts, either in the microwave or over a pan of hot water. A few tips here - as I was only making a few cake pops, but still needed the chocolate/candy melts to be deep enough for dipping, I found it helpful to melt mine in a mug. It was wide enough for me to dip my pops into, but not so wide that the chocolate lacked the depth required. Secondly, it helps to add a tsp of vegetable oil to your mug of melted chocolate/candy melts. Yes, I know it seems weird to do so, but this thins down the chocolate/candy melts just enough to make them much more suitable for dipping!
  9. I started with the white chocolate... to begin with, dip each lollipop stick around 1cm into your melted chocolate, and then push that end into a cake ball. (apparently this helps the stick the cake to the lollipop stick!) Once that chocolate has set (which won't take long since you cake balls are very cold!) Dip 8 of your cake pops, one at a time, into the white chocolate. Gently tap the cake pops on the side of the mug to discard the excess chocolate, then stick the pop upright into your polystyrene block to set. Repeat the process using the melted pink candy melts for the remaining 12 cakes pops. However, this time sprinkle a few of your heart shaped sprinkles over each cake pop as the candy begins to set. 
  10. Place any leftover pink candy into a piping bag fitted with a very fine nozzle. Go back to you white cake pops, and pipe vertical stripes onto each. Use some melted candy to secure a sugar rose on the top of each of these cake pops.
  11. Hey presto, you're all done! The cake pops are best stored wrapped in cellophane bags in the fridge, and will keep for up to a week (if they last that long!!)

Happy Thoughts

Friday, 1 February 2013

Quick-Fix Treacle Pudding

Brrr, it's a bit chilly out, isn't it? What an excellent excuse to whip up another "quick-fix" microwaveable pudding. This time I had some leftover treacle I wanted to use up... the results is an incredibly sweet but satisfying pudding, best served with lashings of custard!

As this one is cooked in the microwave, cooking times may vary and I'm afraid the only way you'll find out is trial and error! In my microwave, this take 2 minutes 30 seconds on a medium-high heat setting, but you'll know the sponge is done as it will be set but still sticky on the top. Finally – you will need a microwaveable bowl for this one.

2tbsp treacle (or golden syrup, if you prefer)
50g margarine
50g caster sugar
1 medium egg
50g self-raising flour

Custard, to serve

Prep time: less than 5 minutes
Cook time: less than 3 minutes
Serves 2-4 (depending how hungry/greedy you're feeling!)

  1. Lightly grease a microwavable bowl (I used a frylight spray to give a light coating of oil) then pour your treacle into the bottom of it.
  2. Put all of the other ingredients (except the custard) into a mixing bowl and beat until a smooth batter has formed.
  3. Pour the batter into the microwavable bowl, being sure to cover all of the treacle, then microwave on a medium-high heat for two-and-a-half minutes, until the pudding is set and spongy, but still a little sticky on top. Carefully remove the bowl from the microwave (careful, it will be hot!) and place on the side to rest for 2-3 minutes, uncovered. (You could use this time to heat up your custard!)
  4. Place a serving plate upside-down on top of the microwavable bowl, and carefully (it's still hot!) flip this upside down to turn your pudding out. Let the treacle drizzle down the sides for another minute or so, then serve immediately.
Happy Thoughts