Sunday, 31 March 2013

Creme Egg Ice Cream

Happy Easter!

With Ice Cream Sunday this month falling on Easter Sunday, I felt that I should draw my inspiration for this month's ice cream flavour from the true meaning on the season: chocolate eggs! :-P

This ice cream tastes far too good, especially when you consider how easy it is to make. No machine, no raw egg; just 4 ingredients to make the creamiest ice cream I've made yet!

4 cadbury creme eggs 
150g dark chocolate
150ml sweetened condensed milk
500ml double cream

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 4-5 hours
Serves: 6 - 8
  1. Pop your Creme Eggs in the freezer. It will make them easier to handle later on!
  2. Break the chocolate into chunks and pop this into a large microwavable bowl with the condensed milk. Microwave for 30 seconds - 1 minute, then stir until the chocolate has melted and the ingredients come together to form a fudgey sauce. Pop this to one side.
  3. Take your creme eggs from the freezer, unwrap them, and chop them into chunks. Put this to one side.
  4. Whip you cream to stiff peaks. Mix half of the cream into the chocolate fudge until well combined, then stir in 3/4 of the creme egg pieces.
  5. Fold the remaining creme into the chocolate mixture very gently so as not to loose too much of the air - until the mixture combines to form a rich chocolaty mousse. Pour this into a freezer tub, level with the back of a spoon, then sprinkle the remaining creme egg pieces over the top. Place the lid on this and then freeze for 4-5 hours before serving.
  6. Marvel at the deliciousness of you creation, and debate with yourself on whether or not you should share.

Happy Thoughts

Friday, 29 March 2013

Mini-Egg Cookie Bars

So, today is Good Friday, and whilst I'm not a religious person, I could not pass up the opportunity to take advantage of all of the seasonal chocolate goodies currently available, so I decided to bake up something Eastery. This is a very quick and easy recipe, and I imagine that if you had children, they'd like to play along.

Cookie bars are what happens when you start making a cookie dough at 6:30am, before realising that you'll be late for work if you baked the dough in batches,so you improvise. It's a really tasty, gooey, chewy wonderful improvisation.

I also learnt in baking these cookie bars that Cadbury Mini Eggs are virtually indestructible. I tried bashing them with a rolling pin - it barely dented them. I then put the into the blender -I ended up with a few chipped eggs and a bit of sugar shell. Finally,I crushed each egg with the flat of a knife,which seemed to do the trick!

150g butter
300g golden caster sugar
2 tbsp vanilla extract
1 egg, plus 1 yolk
300g plain flour
1tsp baking powder
100g Cadbury Mini Eggs
50g dark chocolate chunks
50g white chocolate chunks

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 20-25 minutes
Makes 24 bars

  1. Preheat the oven to 170.gas mark 3, and line two square baking tins with greaseproof paper.
  2. Put the butter into a large microwavable bowl, and melt in the microwave.Stir in the sugar and vanilla,and set to one side to cool slightly. Beat in the egg and egg yolk.
  3. Sift half of the flour and all of the baking soda into the bowl and beat in.
  4. Crush your mini eggs into smaller pieces by any means possible, then tip the mini eggs and the chocolate chunks into your cookie dough and mix untill evenly distributed. 
  5. Sift in the remaining flour and stir until the mixture all comes together.
  6. Put half of the mixture in each baking tin, and flatten with the back of a spoon, being sure to push the dough into the corners. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown all over. If you press the cookie lightly with your finger, it should feel firm on top.
  7. Remove the cookies from the oven and allow them to cool in the tin for 5 minutes, before transferring to a chopping board. Cut each square cookie into 12, then leave to cool on a wire rack.
  8. Eat at least one whilst it's still warm. You can thank me later :-)

Happy Thoughts

Friday, 22 March 2013

Maple Bacon Cupcakes

Happy Bacon Week! What, you didn't know that it was Bacon Connoiseurs Week this week? That's OK. Clearly you just love bacon every week.

I originally made these cupcakes as a birthday gift for my friend Angel, because he loves bacon. The cupcakes themselves had quite an odd - but not unpleasant - taste. The frosting and candied bacon were amazing! Overall, bacon+ cupcakes=win

I found the original recipe here, and only made some very small amendments to it! Hope you like!


For the candied bacon:
4 rashers of streaky bacon
100g dark brown sugar

For the cupcakes:
4 rashers of bacon
75g magarine
80g brown sugar
60 g maple syrup
1 large egg
350g self raising flour
60ml milk

For the frosting:
150g butter
75ml maple syrup
400g icing sugar
Pinch of salt

Prep time: 40 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Makes 12 cupcakes

  1. Start off by making your candied bacon. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper, and preheat the oven to gas mark 5/190 degrees.
  2. Cut the uncooked bacon into bitesized chunks and lay on the greaseproof paper. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove from the oven. Flip the bacon pieces over, then cover in the sugar and bake for a further 5-10 minutes until the bacon is crispy and the sugar has caramelised. Leave the bacon to cool slightly on the tray before transfering to a wire wrack to cool completely.
  3. Put aside the 12 best looking bits of candied bacon to use as decorations for your cupcakes. Eat one or two bits to make sure they are OK (chef's duty!), and pop the rest to one side-we'll come back to those later.
  4. Now, onto the cupcakes - time for more bacon!! First, reduce your oven down to gas mark 4 / 180 degrees and line a cupcake tray with cases.
  5. Fry your remaining rashers of bacon until crispy. Put any fat/dripping into a bowl and into the fridge to solidify. One the bacon rashers are cool enough to handle, pop these into the blender with the reserved candied bacon and blitz into small chunks, (like tiny chocolate chips, but bacon.)
  6. Beat the margarine,solidified bacon fat, brown sugar and maple syrup until smooth and creamy. Add the egg, and beat until well combined.
  7. Fold half of the flour into the mixture, followed by all of the milk, then fold in the remaining flour. Finally, fold in your crispy bacon bits.
  8. Spoon the batter into your cupcake cases, filling each around 3/4 full, then bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown all over and firm to touch. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire wrack.
  9. Once your cupcakes are cool, time to make the frosting. Beat together the butter and maple syrup until combined, then add the icing sugar a little at a time until you have a thick, smooth frosting. Pop the frosting into a piping bag and pipe swirls onto each cupcake, then place one of the reserved chunks of candied bacon on top.
  10. Eat and marvel at the sweet and salty bacony goodness!

Happy Thoughts

Friday, 15 March 2013

Red Nose Cake Pops

It's Red Nose Day!

In order to get involved, spread awareness, and hopefully encourage a few extra donations, I decided to create something a bit special for today's post: Red Nose Cake Pops!

Red velvet cake pops covered in red candy melts make the tastiest red noses you'll ever try. I baked up a batch of Hummingbird Bakery Red Velvet Cupcakes, to use as the cakey-base for these, but you could use any sponge recipe you like!

12 red velvet cupcakes
75g cream cheese
200g icing sugar
200g red candy melts
1 tsp vegetable oil

Prep time: 40 minutes
Makes 15 cake pops

  1. I'm cheating this time, and using a batch of the Hummingbird Bakery cupcakes I made earlier. So, the first step is to whip up a batch of your favourite red velvet cupcakes, and leave them to cool!
  2. Whilst the cakes are cooling, prepare your frosting by beating together the cream cheese and icing sugar until it forms a smooth paste.
  3. Take the cooled cupcakes out of their wrappers and break them into a blender. Pulse the cakes on a high speed to break them into fine crumbs. Once the cake is sufficiently crumbed, pour the crumbs into a bowl, then mix in a tbsp of the butter cream. Add more butter cream a little at a time until you get a mixture that holds together well without crumbling, but isn't too sloppy. 
  4. Now its time to get your hands dirty! First of all, line a baking tray with greaseproof paper, and make some space for that tray in your fridge or freezer. Measure out 30g portions of the cake mixture, then shape it into a ball with you hands and place this on the baking tray. Once you've turned all of your mixture into balls put these into the freezer for 20 minutes to set.
  5. Melt your red candy melts, either in the microwave or in a bowl over a pan of hot water. Stir in the vegetable oil to "thin down" the candy to make it easier to dip your pops later. Don't worry - you won't be able to taste the oil! 
  6. Take your tray of cake balls out of the freezer and place on your work surface next to the melted candy. The cold cake will set the candy very quickly, so it's important to have everything you need to hand here as you will need to work fast!
  7. Dip a lollipop stick around 1cm into the candy and then push this into one of the cakey balls. The theory behind this is that the chocolate will help to stick the cake pop to the stick! Stick each cake pop with a lollipop stick in this way. By the time you've stuck all of the sticks, the first one you did should be set. 
  8. Dip each cake pop into the melted candy and give it a quick spin to coat evenly. Take the tap the cake pop on the side of the bowl to remove any excess chocolate, then put the cake pop, stick side first, into a polystyrene block. Repeat with all the pops and then leave to set. 
  9. Hey presto - your very own, very tasty, Red Noses!

Cake pop tips:
Use a tall, thin receptacle for melting your chocolate, such as a mug or small bowl. If you use a wide bowl your chocolate will be too shallow for dipping!

When dipping, it's best to get your cake pop in and out of the warm chocolate as quickly as possible, as the temperature of the chocolate and the bowl/mug will melt your cake pop and make it fall off of it's stick. Don't worry too much about doing it, just go for it and it will work.

Line a baking tray with clingfilm, then pour any leftover chocolate onto it and put it in the fridge. Once set, you can break the chocolate into chunks and store in a food bag until next time. Note - this doesn't work so well if you drop cake in the chocolate or keep dipping your fingers/a spoon in!

Finally: Practise makes perfect!

Like this post? get involved in the Red Nose fun by making a donation to Comic Relief:

Happy Thoughts

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Cake'n'Bake Wednesday: Sweet Red Onion Relish

This is the recipe for the Sweet Red Onion Relish I served with my Flowerpot Bread at the March 2012 Cake'n'Bake Club meeting. I know this isn't a baking recipe, nor does it have anything to do with flowers (which was the theme for March 2012) but I really wanted to have a go at baking bread that month, and didn't relish the thought of serving plain bread. I'd also decided that I'd quite like to have a go at jam-making/preserving in 2012, so the most sensible solution seemed to be to make some sort of savoury jam to serve with my Flowerpot Bread.

I scoured the net and read various recipes, and then decided to attempt my own sticky-sweet onion relish, based on the knowledge gained in my research. One thing that did stick out was that most of the recipes I found said to leave the relish sealed in a cool dark place for 1 month to mature before serving. I only had 10 days to allow mine to mature... but it tasted yummy all the same. (To be honest, I'd have happily started eating it as soon as it was ready!)

Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 75-90 minutes
Makes around 650g relish (3 and a bit medium jars)

You will also need 4 medium sized jars

1kg red onions
3tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Pinch of salt
Pick of black pepper
75g golden brown granulated Sugar
75g soft light brown Sugar
186ml red wine (one of the mini/one person bottles available in supermarkets)
30ml balsamic vinegar
30ml red wine vinegar

  1. Peel, halve and finely chop the onions. Place them in a large saucepan with the onions over a low heat. It's important to keep the temperature low so that the onions go soft and gooey, rather than brown and crispy. Heat the onions for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent them from burning.
  2. After 15 minutes, add the salt, pepper and both kinds of sugar to the pan and stir until all the sugar has melted. Cook for another 15 minutes, maintaining the low heat.
  3. Once the onions are soft, translucent and sticky, stir in the red wine and both vinegars. Increase the heat slightly and simmer the mixture, stirring occasionally for 45-60 minutes until the liquid has reduced.
  4. Whilst the relish is simmering, sterilise your jars. Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 1, and place a wire rack on the middle shelf. Wash the jars and lids in warm soapy water, then rinse under the hot tap. Place upside down (lids too!) on the wire wrack in the oven to dry whilst your relish cooks. 
  5. Once your relish is ready, remove the jars from the oven being careful not to touch the inside of the jar/lid. Carefully spoon the relish into the jars and place some greaseproof paper over the top. Place the lid on whilst still hot and make sure to seal the jar tightly. Once cooled, leave the relish to mature in a cool dry place until you need it.
  6. Serve with Flower-pot bread and lots of cheese! Yum yum yum!

Happy Thoughts

Friday, 8 March 2013

Quick Fix Pineapple Upside-Down Pudding

This is the third "quick-fix" pudding I'm posting, and it's likely not to be the last! I had a bit of pineapple that needed using up, and a big craving for some pudding, so decided to experiment with the Quick Fix Chocolate Pudding recipe to make a different variation.

Not the most photogenic pud, but extremely tasty!

The findings of this experiment - that it's incredibly dangerous to know how to make something so tasty in less than 10 minutes!! I think I actually prefer this one to the chocolate version.

A note on cooking times: I'm afraid that as this is a microwave pud, and as all microwaves are different you may find that puddings take a little more or a little less time to cook in your microwave. You'll know it ready because it will come away from the sides of the bowl slights and will be set but still sticky to touch.

Butter, for greasing.
3 tbsp runny honey (even better if it's in a squeezy bottle!)
8 - 10 chunks of pineapple
50g margarine
50g soft light brown sugar
1 medium egg
50g self-raising flour
2tbsp milk
1tsp vanilla extract

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 3 minutes
Serves: 4

  1. Grease a microwavable pyrex bowl, then drizzle the honey around the sides and the bottom. Cut the pineapple into bite-sized pieces, then place these into the bottom of the bowl.
  2. In another bowl, add the margarine, sugar, egg, flour and milk and vanilla extract and beat together until combined into a smooth, slightly runny batter.
  3. Carefully pour the pudding batter over the pineapple and honey, then put in the microwave on a medium heat for 3 minutes. Allow to rest for at least a minute until turning out onto a serving plate.
  4. Best served when still warm, with a little vanilla ice-cream! Hope you like it :-)

Happy Thoughts

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Cake'n'Bake Wednesday: Flowerpot Bread

Cake'n'Bake Club had a theme of "Baking in Bloom" in March 2012, the rule of these theme was that whatever you baked had to have something to do with flowers! Around this time I had been thinking about the types of things I baked, and one of the main reasons I had started the Cake'n'Bake Club was to branch out and try new things. I had never really tried baking bread before, so I wanted to take the opportunity to do so in March, and that's how I ended up baking bread in clay flowerpots.

It was great fun - although if it's the first time you're using the clay pots they need to be "seasoned" - and that can take a fair amount of time! I did mine whilst my dough was proving, but in hindsight I'd probably do them the day before. For that reason, I'm going to start by telling you how to season your clay pots.

You will need:
5 11cm clay flowerpots
a pastry brush
a LOT of vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to gas mark 3. Brush each clay pot with oil, inside and out, (and paying special care not to miss the rim!) then place your pot in the oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the oil has baked dry. Carefully remove the pots from the oven and leave until cool enough to handle, then repeat the process 5 or 6 times to create a smooth, non-stick surface.
Once you've used the pots, if they are rinsed with warm water (rather than washed with soapy water) they will retain the "non-stick" layer and can be re-used without seasoning again.

As I was quite new to bread-baking, I turned to Mary Berry's Baking Bible for assistance. The recipe below is based on The White Cottage Loaf recipe on page 285 - I chose this one because it seemed nice and simple, and Mary Berry said it was good.

Prep time: 10 minutes
Proving time: 2-3 hours
Bake time: 20-25 minutes
Makes 5 flowerpot loaves


650g strong white bread flour
10g yeast
1.5 tsp salt
60g melted butter or margarine
450ml warm water
1 large egg (to glaze)
50g poppy seeds
Vegetable oil (to grease the bakeware)

  1. Measure all of the ingredients into a large mixing bowl, and beat until combined to a sticky-ish dough.
  2. Tip the dough out onto a well floured surface, and knead for 10-12 minutes until the dough is soft, pliable and still a little sticky. Place the dough in a large oiled bowl and cover tightly with cling film. Leave the dough to rise in a warm place for 1 to 1.5 hours, or until the dough has doubled in size.
  3. Tip the dough back out onto a well floured surface, and knock it back by hand. Once the dough is smooth split it into 5 equal portions. Tuck the ends of the dough underneath itself and drop each piece into a greased flowerpot.
  4. Place each flower pot inside a large plastic food bag and seal the end. Put the flowerpots in their bags back into the warm place to rise for around 45 minutes, again until it has doubled in size.
  5. Preheat the oven to gas mark 7. Beat the egg, and brush a little of this over the top of each loaf, then sprinkle with poppy seeds. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown on top and baked through.
  6. Serve with lots of cheese and red onion marmalade! 

Happy Thoughts

Friday, 1 March 2013

Banana and Peanut Butter Flapjacks

Here's another great use for bananas that have started to turn - although these are no way near as healthy as you'd think they might be! This recipe is quick, simple and very tasty.

Time Taken: 30 mins
Makes: 15 flapjacks
Storage: Store in an airtight container in a cool dry place for 2-3 days. Alternatively, they can be frozen for up to 2 months!

40g margarine
60g soft light brown sugar
2tbsp golden syrup
50g crunchy peanut butter
2 over-ripe bananas
250g porridge oats
100g milk chocolate

  1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 6 and grease and line a baking tray.
  2. Melt the butter in a saucepan over a low heat. Stir in the sugar and golden syrup until they have completely dissolved, then remove from the heat. Add the peanut butter to the pan and stir until it has completely melted.
  3. Break the bananas into a large bowl and mash with a fork, ensuring there are no large lumps remaining. Stir in the melted peanut butter mixture, then add the porridge oats and stir until evenly coated.
  4. Tip the mixture into the baking tine, and spread evenly. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until completely golden all oven. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool.
  5. Melt the chocolate, either in the microwave, or in a pan over boiling water, then drizzle over the cooked flapjacks. Leave to cool completely, then cut into 20 pieces and serve. :-)
Happy Thoughts