This delicious Turkish inspired Hazelnut Semolina Halva is a lovely sweet treat, perfect with coffee after a dinner party with friends and family. A little like a marzipan petit-four but made with hazelnuts and semolina, it's a wonderful alternative to your usual after-dinner treats!Read More
Perfect clouds of marshmallow fluffiness spiced with a hint of pumpkin to welcome the start of autumn!Read More
These delicious Chocolate Coconut Truffles are a fantastic homemade version of my very favourite Chocolate Bounty Bars. Small, bitesize truffles filled with white chocolate coconut ganache and covered with salted milk chocolate. And only 4 simple ingredients! Perfect for gifts, perfect to treat yourself :)Read More
5 more sleeps to Christmas!!! *squeal* Excitement levels are running high in our house right now and there's nothing better than little ones at this time of year to remind you about the magic of Christmas and the build-up to the day when the big man finally makes his appearance.
Christmas gifting often gets kind of crazy. The shops started their sales yesterday and I was feeling relieved that I was nowhere near them. Maybe some people will think I'm bah humbug but I like to steer well clear of the shops and order most of my presents online of late. London gets pretty frantic at this time of year.
Edible food gifts are kind of special. You can make the yummiest creations, tailor-made for everyone and you know exactly what's going in them. When I was little, my mum and I used to make marzipan petit-fours fruits for my great-grandma. We were reminded of them recently and I decided that I'd make some for my dad's birthday. They are so simple to make and as soon as you open a box of them, the scent instantly transports me back to my childhood Christmas days.
All you need is a pack of marzipan (home-made or shop bought), cloves and food colouring (colours dependent on the fruit you decide to make). I use gel colours as I have them available in my drawer from baking celebration cakes, but when I was little we used to use the little bottles of food colouring from the supermarket and they worked just as well. For these, I used green, red, yellow, brown and orange. Each fruit was around 15-20G but you can make them as small or large as you like.
When making them, here are a few tricks that help: to make the oranges use the raised side of a cheese grater to create the dimpled pattern by rolling the marzipan ball all over the surface, then adding a clove in the top; for the cherries, make two smaller balls and then I used some florist wire to create the stalks; the apples have a clove at the top and bottom - the bottom clove has the stem part pushed into the apple and then the top clove has the stem protruding like a little stalk; finally, the banana has some brown streaks painted on its skin and brown on either end. Pop them finished into mini cupcake cases and then present them in a box.
It's been a busy week of playdates and parties to keep me sane as the boys started their four week break from school. Apart from my final birthday cake of the year and a couple of Christmas cakes (more pics to follow next week), here are three more ideas that you might like for Christmas.
Hope you're all enjoying your festive seasons and are (almost) all ready for the big day!!! xoxo
Hot Chocolate Gift Jar
Inspired by Donna Hay, she's the queen of creating beautiful gifts in the festive season. Lovely edible treats like brownie, cookie and gingerbread men mixes all presented in glass jars are but a few. I'm not a fan of giving a gift where the recipient needs to then go shopping to get other ingredients to make their treat so this glass of hot chocolate mix really appealed - just add milk!
1/2 cup icing sugar, 1/2 cup cocoa, 1 tsp cinnamon & 3/4 malted powder
Adorned with whatever decorations you like! In this case, marshmallows and candy canes :)
These little cookies are wonderfully moreish, gluten free and make lovely gifts.
1 cup powdered pistachio (shelled pistachios blitzed in the blender), 3/4 cup icing sugar, 1 cup grated coconut and 1 egg white (40G liquid egg white)
Combine all the ingredients and then chill for 2 hours. Roll them into little balls and bake them at 170 degrees on a lined baking tray for 8-10 mins.
Seriously delicious, you need to package them up quickly before you eat them all!
Festive Chocolate Bars
I wanted to give some friends' children little chocolate bars but jazz them up. I had 2 bars of Green & Blacks chocolate (one white, one milk) and two tupperware containers a little smaller than the bar itself.
I lined the container with olive oil and a strip of greaseproof paper (so I could remove it easily when set). I melted each chocolate bar and poured it into the container. Whilst unset, add your toppings.
We have Haribo Minions and sprinkles. And then Malteser reindeer sprayed gold, Milky Way Magic Stars sprayed gold, Crunchy Rocks and Smarties.
But the best bit is choosing your own favourites :)
So here we are in December. Who'd have thought it would come around so quickly! It kind of snuck up on us this year. We're always one of the first to put up our Christmas tree and decorations although it seems like this year everyone's ahead of the game and had them up last weekend. But we always wait until December, so this weekend is going to be jam-packed with Christmas excitement, parties, movies and yummy festive treats :)
I have been holding on to Gingerbread Marshmallows for a good few months now. I love marshmallows, love making them and especially eating them. The home-made ones are always that extra bit squidgier inside, smoother and silkier. They are simply delicious.
I started off with a few different recipes and ended up being captivated by these yummy ones from Joy The Baker, slightly mesmerised by the chocolate and crushed gingerbread biscuits adorning them. I wasn't sure I was going to go that far (but I did) and wanted to try making little gingerbread men out of them (which I did); I then got completely carried away and decided to make little gingerbread s'mores out of them (definitely glad I did). So much fun and such a sticky mess!
So making them also gave me a fantastic workout as I ran out of glucose half-way through and then had to walk the entire local area looking for more, only to find out that all the local shops have stopped selling it. You can imagine my delight at this! But then I came home, determined to find some more in my cupboard (you know that feeling when you know something you've lost is just lurking that little bit farther into the cupboard) and lo and behold, I found one last tube. A bittersweet moment - but at least I smashed my step count for the day!
So marshmallows are super simple to make. The only downside to them is that when you make them yourself, you realise that they're not at all, even the tinsiest bit, healthy for you. But just close your eyes and will those thoughts out of your mind for the next 20 minutes!
It's important to prepare the baking tin. I use a 8 inch square tin and this makes quite thick marshmallows which are generally deeper than regular cutters - so if you want to cut them into shapes you might want to choose a bigger tin or split the marshmallows into two tins. Usually I line the tin and then lightly grease the lined paper before adding the marshmallow. Joy The Baker's recipe calls for coating the tin with oil and then a very generous layer of icing sugar, thickly applied so the sides and bottom look solid white. The marshmallow did come out fairly easily but I did have to pry the sides away which made them a little dented.
To make the marshmallow, you first put a half cup of water in a stand mixer and sprinkle the powdered gelatin on the top, leaving it for 10 minutes. When it's ready it will be a sort of yellowy sticky consistency. Meanwhile mix the caster sugar, glucose and salt in a saucepan and heat it on a medium heat until it melts. Give it a little stir. Then once the sugar is melted, turn up the heat to medium-high and leave without stirring until your thermometer reaches 240 degrees. Do keep a close eye on it and don't wander away from the stove! When the temperature is reached, turn the stand mixer onto low speed and then slowly add the sugar syrup in a long drizzle. You want to pour it in a stream somewhere between the side of the bowl and the whisk, more towards the side of the bowl if in any doubt as you must be careful the sugar doesn't hit the whisk and splatter over you - it's very hot! As you're pouring this in, gradually turn up the speed until all the sugar has been added and the mixer is working at full speed. Keep whisking for 10 minutes until the mixture has turned into a lovely white, billowy marshmallow. It looks like gooey clouds.This is the time to add your spices and vanilla. You can add whatever you like; I might be inclined to put a little less cloves in next time as that was a very prominent flavour in mine. Mix for another few minutes and then pour the marshmallow into the tin to set. If you need to smooth the surface, use a wet spatula.
After the marshmallow has set (ideally overnight) you can then decide how you want to present it. When you cut it up, either use a sharp knife that has been dipped in hot water and if you're using a cookie cutter, again pop this into hot water. Try not to get too much water all over your marshmallow as it will turn into a squidgy mess (although the upside of this is that you're compelled to eat all the messy bits then and there!)
I tried three ways: cut into regular blocks; cut into blocks and then dipped into melted chocolate and crumbled gingerbread biscuits (this was Joy The Baker's way of doing it); and then cut into little men and turned into Gingerbread Men S'mores. For the S'mores, I got a biscuit (I used a Graham's cracker but if you don't have access to these you could use, say, a gingernut biscuit istead) and heated it in the microwave for around 30 seconds - it turns soft and then working fast, you can cut it into your desired shape using a cookie cutter. So I cut my biscuit into a little man, spread him with a little dulce de leche, popped a marshmallow man on top, dipped him in chocolate and then covered him with sprinkles. Such fun! This is really your opportunity to be completely creative and make whatever you fancy.
Marshmallows are fun. Home-made ones are definitely the best. And the beauty is that there are so many different flavours with which you can experiment.
Enjoy discovering your own favourite :)
Gingerbread Marshmallows (from Joy The Baker's Bonkers Awesome Gingerbread Spiced Marshmallows)
- 1 CUP COLD WATER, SPLIT INTO 2 x 1/2 cups
- 14G POWDERED GELATIN
- 415G CASTER SUGAR
- 270G GLUCOSE
- 1/4 TSP SALT
- 2 TSP VANILLA EXTRACT
- 1/2 TSP GROUND CINNAMON
- 1/2 TSP GROUND GINGER
- 1/4 TSP GROUND NUTMEG
- PINCH OF GROUND CLOVES
- VEGETABLE OIL TO COAT YOUR TIN
- ICING SUGAR TO COAT YOUR TIN
- Prepare your tin by coating it with vegetable oil and then cover that with icing sugar - you're looking for a thick coating so that the icing sugar looks solid white (alternatively you could line your baking tin with some greaseproof paper, lightly oiled on the inside)
- Pour 1/2 cup of water into your stand mixer and then sprinkle the powdered gelatin over the top
- Leave to stand for 10 mins
- In a medium saucepan, heat the sugar, glucose, salt and other 1/2 cup of water and heat over a medium heat until it boils giving it a mix to make sure the ingredients are dissolved
- Then using a candy thermometer, heat the mixture to 240 degrees without stirring it
- When the sugar mixture reaches 240 degrees, turn the stand mixer onto a low speed and start to pour it in a slow, steady stream into the gelatin (you're starting on a low speed so the hot mixture doesn't spatter everywhere and burn you)
- Gradually increase the speed of the mixer as you're pouring in the sugar until you're at high speed and all the sugar has been added
- Continue beating at this speed for around 10 mins until the mixture has more than doubled in size and looks like fluffy white marshmallows
- Add the vanilla extract and the spices and mix for a further 3 minutes
- Gently pour the marshmallow mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the surface if required with a wet spatula
- Leave to set for at least 3 hours or overnight
- When you come to cut up the marshmallow, use a hot wet knife or use a hot wet cutter to cut it into shapes
- Decorate your marshmallows as you like (some ideas are above) or enjoy them naked, just as they are :)
We're just one day away from Bonfire Night and the anticipation is hanging in the air in our house. The boys are SO excited! We're having a mini fireworks party with friends and have our sparklers at the ready. And what could be more perfect to eat but Bonfire Toffee?
I have been hanging on to this recipe for a few months until the perfect time, which would be right about now. I adore Annie Rigg and her beautiful photography which makes me want to go and make everything in her books right now. So it was hard work hanging on for this long. Believe me. I've read up on a number of recipes for this lovely toffee but decided to stick 100% with Annie's recipe. I don't consider myself a sweetie maker and on several occasions have fallen prey to not getting my temperature quite right and coming out with a sticky goo concoction, so I wanted a trustworthy recipe for my first attempt at this.
If you'd like to attempt this at home - it's easy as long as you (1) own a sugar thermometer and (2) follow the instructions like your life depends on it. It's all about timing. And patience. After putting all your ingredients into a large saucepan, you bring them slowly to the boil (stirring a few times to make sure it's all well-mixed and the butter has melted) and then slowly boil it for 20 mins until it reaches 130 degrees ("hard ball" stage). Then after submerging the base of the pan in cold water and giving it a couple of stirs, pour it into a tin lined with greaseproof paper. And wait for it to cool. Then snap it into pieces or cut it up and store it in boxes between layers of greaseproof paper or in little individual sweetie papers.
The taste of this toffee is a lovely deep flavour, sort of smokey where the undertones of the treacle really shine through. I can see why it's called Bonfire Toffee. It's reminiscent of big smokey bonfires with strong flavours and a lovely chewy consistency.
If you fancy having a go at making sweets, the only investment you need to make for simple sweets is a good sugar thermometer. Which also comes in handy if you like making macarons my way. Or jam. And if you do fancy having a go at sweets, do try this recipe (even if it's not Bonfire Night).
I promise you, it's gooooood!
Bonfire Toffee Makes around 50 squares (from Annie Rigg's Sweet Things)
- SUNFLOWER OIL (for greasing the tin)
- 20CM SQUARE BAKING TIN
- 125G UNSALTED BUTTER
- 200G CASTER SUGAR
- 150G BLACK TREACLE
- 125G GOLDEN SYRUP
- 50G CREME FRAICHE
- 1/4 TSP CREAM OF TARTAR
- 100ML WATER
- PINCH OF SEA SALT FLAKES
- Grease the baking tin with sunflower oil and then line it with greaseproof paper
- Place the butter, sugar, treacle, golden syrup, creme fraiche and cream of tartar into a large saucepan (2.5 litre capacity)
- Add the sea salt and water
- Set over a low heat until the butter is melted and sugar dissolved
- Stir mixture from time to time until it's smooth
- Then put the sugar thermometer into the pan and bring to the boil
- Cook steadily for around 20 minutes until the temperature reaches 130 degrees (I have an induction hob and I kept the temperature on 6 out of 9)
- Remove from the heat and plunge the base of the saucepan into a sink of cold water
- Stir the mixture a couple of times and then pour it into the prepared tin
- Either score the toffee whilst it's still warm if you want to finally have it in uniform squares or you can snap pieces off when it's cold
- Leave in a cool place to set
- Enjoy for up to 2 weeks :)
Lollipops are so much fun. I stumbled across a great blog recently called Dessert First and there was a very pretty picture of Rose Saffron Lollipops for National Lollipop Day. These were in Anita Chu's book Lollipop Love which I bought in a heartbeat, if only for the stunning photography!
I decided to give her simple lollipops a go today and make the Rainbow Swirl Lollipops. I plan to experiment further but I chose the simplest recipe to try as it needed very few ingredients - water, sugar, glucose, lemon flavouring and some food colouring - plus a candy thermometer. I already had the lollipop mold and some sticks (my lollipop mold has 7 x 4cm cavities).
The process moves at a fast pace and you want to have everything lined up ready to go. And it's not the kind of recipe you want to be working on with little children around your feet. The temperature of the sugar mixture needs to reach 149 degrees celcius so it's hot hot hot - and my little thermometer lit up red to show just how hot it really was. The biggest learning from making these was that the mold cavities need to be extremely well greased - I started off lightly as the recipe suggested but struggled to get my lollipops out and most of the first ones cracked.
At the point when it comes off the stove, I decided to flavour mine with lemon extract. When pouring the hot liquid into the mold, the recipe calls for a candy funnel or a jug with a spout (and I can see how a little funnel would really help here) but I just used my jug. I used a lollipop mold that has 7 cavities and the sugar solution does start to set before you get to the last cavity making it a little more tricky to fill. Then I also wanted to swirl colour through the lollies so you need to work super-fast. I used Sugarflair Spectral Paste to colour my lollipops which give a vibrant colour but I found when the lollipops set the gel colour would rub off on my fingers so I need to experiment a little more with these.
There's so much fun to be had with these. I've just dipped my toe into the Lollipop world today and it's sort of addictive. You can make them in a relatively short space in time, exercise a little creativity and create lovely unique lollipops that would make lovely gifts with cellophane and ribbon - or just bring a smile to a child's face.
Watch this space for more lollipop creations!
Rainbow Swirl Lollipops Makes 7 x 4cm lollipops (from Anita Chu's Lollipop Love)
- 100G SUGAR
- 60ML WATER
- 30ML LIGHT CORN SYRUP (GLUCOSE)
- 1 TSP LEMON EXTRACT
- FOOD COLOURING (I used Sugarflair Spectral Colour Paste)
- Ensure that the lollipop cavities are well greased with non-stick cooking spray and pop the sticks into the mold
- Combine the sugar, water and glucose in a saucepan and bring to the boil over a medium-high heat
- Continue cooking until the temperature reaches 149 degrees celcius on a candy thermometer and immediately remove from the heat
- Stir through your chosen flavouring
- Put the mixture into a heatproof jug with a spout and moving quickly before it sets, fill each of the cavities
- Again working fast, mix a little food colouring into each lollipop, swirling the colour with a toothpick
- Allow the lollipops to cool and harden for 15 minutes and then remove from the molds
- Store them wrapped in cellophane bags in a cool place for up to a month
Chocolate covered oreos. I've been seeing them all over Instagram for some time - mostly American or Canadian bakeries, but they're a trend that appeals to me. I mean chocolate + oreos = how can you go wrong? Mostly, the chocolate covered oreos across the internet are pretty and delicate, but mine are more for fun. I knew they were a success when my eldest son pottered over to me in the kitchen, asked me what I was making and then looked me in the eye saying, "Mummy, remember that I am your official taste tester forever. I'd like that one there with the sprinkles."Read More
I mean, yum! Three of my favourite things all bundled up into a little square of squishy delight that makes you feel like a kid and a grown-up at the same time. I've made marshmallows once before but have been intrigued by the hip and happening Marshmallowists and their very grown-up flavours, so this time I wanted to make us a little treat for a special birthday weekend. The whole marshmallow process is very therapeutic, from the sweet aroma of raspberries wafting around the kitchen to watching the marshmallow mix billow up into complete fluffiness.
There are all sorts of interesting flavours to experiment with: Blackcurrant & Mint, Coconut, Passionfruit & Ginger, Blueberry & Gin - and these are just a few of the Marshmallowist flavours but you could come up with your own dream blend. Then it's so easy to cut them into fun shapes. These marshmallows have a sort of soufflé texture and are very light. I thought the Raspberry & Champagne flavour might put the boys off (fingers crossed) but they absolutely loved them too!
The process is very straightforward...the hardest part is waiting so long to eat them! And they would make a wonderful home-made Valentine's present for a loved one :)
Raspberry & Champagne Marshmallows (recipe from The Marshmallowists)
- 15 LEAVES OF DR OETKER GELATINE
- 300G RASPBERRIES
- VEGETABLE OIL
- 300G WHITE GRANULATED SUGAR
- 240G LIQUID GLUCOSE SYRUP
- 2TBSP CHAMPAGNE (I USED PROSECCO IN PLACE OF THIS)
- 75G CORNFLOUR
- 75G ICING SUGAR
- Measure 200ML cold water into a shallow, microwaveable bowl and then add the gelatine leaves one by one ensuring that each leaf is fully covered with water. Leave them to soak for 10 minutes. Next make the raspberry purée by blitzing the raspberries in the food processor and then sieving them to remove the pips - you will need 175G raspberry purée. Line a square tin (I used a square 24CM x 24CM tin but a square or rectangular one of a similar size will work) with clingfilm trying to get it as smooth as possible and then lightly grease it with a little vegetable oil.
- Heat the soaked gelatine and water in the microwave for 1 minute until it's fully dissolved.
- Put the sugar, 120G of the glucose syrup and 100G raspberry purée into a medium pan and bring to the boil. Keep heating until it reaches 112°C on a sugar thermometer (this should take around 5 mins) and then pour it into a mixer. Add the remaining 80G raspberry purée and the remaining glucose and mix on low speed.
- Whisking all the time, add the melted gelatine and its liquid and then increase the speed to medium. You need to wait for it to thicken so that it doesn't splash out of the mixer as it's scalding hot. Then increase the mixer to maximum for a further 12 minutes until you can lift the whisk out and the mixture holds its shape. It should have quadrupled in size.
- Reduce the mixer to low and add the Champagne (or Prosecco) and continue mixing for a further minute. Then tip the marshmallow mixture into the prepared tin, level it and leave it to set at room temperature for 4-6 hours (or overnight).
- Sift the cornflour and icing sugar into a bowl. Cut the set marshmallows with a hot, wet knife and dust with the icing sugar mixture. If you prefer to cut them into shapes, like the hearts above, dip your cutters into hot water and then cut your shapes out of the marshmallow.