Saturday, 30 April 2011

Rocky Road Crunch Bars

Most years I go crazy and buy too many Easter Eggs but this year I limited myself to buying only a few and we enjoyed my bakes instead. I did however get given a very big Easter egg from my mother in law of which I only managed to eat some of the yummy choc truffles before I started my diet. So today I decided to put the left over chocolate egg and some mini eggs to good use and make this adapted version of Rocky Road. Don't worry I haven't fallen off the diet wagon, infact I'm doing very well and my clothes are starting to feel loose, tomorrow is weigh in day so we shall see. My son, his family and one of his friends are coming to stay today and these bars of sheer chocolate pleasure are for them. Unfortunately hubby is away in Madrid on business so none for him!

Rocky Road Crunch Bars

125g butter
350g left over Easter egg chocolate, broken into pieces
3 tbsp golden syrup
200g digestive biscuits
100g mini eggs
100g mini marshmallows, extra for decoration

Heat the butter, chocolate and golden syrup in a heavy-based saucepan over a gentle heat. Remove from the heat, scoop out about 125ml/4½fl oz of the melted mixture and set aside in a bowl.

Place the biscuits into a plastic freezer bag and crush them with a rolling pin until some have turned to crumbs but there are still pieces of biscuit remaining.

Fold the biscuit pieces and crumbs into the melted chocolate mixture in the saucepan, then add the marshmallows and mini eggs.

Tip the mixture into a 24cm/9in square baking tin and smooth the top with a wet spatula.Pour over the reserved 125ml/4½fl oz of the melted chocolate mixture and smooth the top with a wet spatula. Decorate with extra marshmallows.

Refrigerate for about two hours or overnight. To serve, cut into 24 fingers.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Easter Chocolate Guinness Cake

This Chocolate Guinness Cake is always a favourite in our home and I love any opportunity to bake it. I tend to make this cake for St Patricks Day but this is the second year I have made the decadent and luscious cake for Easter. I think it looks really pretty with the mini eggs dotted on top and I was lucky to find packs of teeney weeney mini eggs in my local supermarket which I thought would look cute. The cake delivered as usual, being a big hit with my family on Easter Sunday and my in-laws taking a big chunk of it home with them. I am entering my cake into Julia's 'Easter Cake Bake 2011' over at 'A Slice of Cherry Pie'.

This weekend will have been the last time I will get to sample such delights for some time. As I am getting serious about losing weight and Weight Watchers isn't doing it for me anymore. From yesterday I am embarking on the Neris and India's Idiot-Proof Diet, which is a high-protein low-carb diet. I have read great reviews about this diet and how much weight you can lose. I am excited and looking forward to seeing the results and being slim again! This does not mean I won't be baking for hubby but I also plan on blogging some of the recipes from the diet cookbook. Wish me luck!

Easter Chocolate Guinness Cake

For the cake
250ml Guinness
250g unsalted butter, cut into pieces
75g cocoa
400g caster sugar
142ml sour cream
2 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
275g plain flour
2 ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda

For the topping
300g Philadelphia cream cheese
150g icing sugar
125ml double or whipping cream
Mini eggs

Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/180˚C/fan oven 160˚C. Line a 23cm/9inch springform tin. Start by pouring the Guinness into a large, wide saucepan and add the butter; heat until the butter's melted, at which time you should whisk in the cocoa and sugar. Beat the sour cream with eggs and vanilla and then pour in the pan of brown, buttery, beer and finally whisk in the flour and bicarbonate of soda.

Pour the cake batter into the prepared cake tin and bake for 45 minutes to an hour. Leave to cool completely in the tin on a cooling rack, as it's quite a damp cake.

When the cake's cold sit it on a flat platter or cake stand and get on with the icing. Lightly whip the cream cheese until smooth, sieve over the icing sugar and then beat them both together. Add the cream and beat again until it makes a spreadable consistency.

Ice the top of the black cake so that it resembles the frothy top of the famous pint. Sprinkle with mini eggs.

Monday, 25 April 2011

Lemon Meringue Cheesecake

I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter Sunday, we certainly did. My son, his family and my in laws came over for the day and we had a lovely day. We spent the majority of the day in the garden enjoying the abnormally hot weather we are having this Easter. Hubby prepared the leg of lamb for our roast dinner in our favourite way, using a lemon, rosemary and garlic paste that is smeared all over. I made this Lemon Meringue Cheesecake for dessert to follow. It was my first time making this cheesecake and although I cheated and used a good quality shop bought lemon curd it was an absolute hit.

The huge variety of flavours from the custard cream biscuit base, lemony & white chocolate cheesy middle and finished with a lemon curd and sweet meringue topping, came together to compliment each other perfectly. Delivering a surprisingly light and refreshing dessert to finish the meal with a stream of compliments. My in-laws loved it so much they took home a wedge for the next day!

Lemon Meringue Cheesecake

Serves 6

For the meringue:
3 egg whites
150g caster sugar
2-3 splashes vanilla extract

For the biscuit base and cheesecake filling:
400g packet biscuits, (custard creams)
100g butter, melted
50ml water
1 lemon, finely grated zest only
25g caster sugar, plus 1 tsp caster sugar
250g mascarpone
175ml double cream, lightly whipped
175g white chocolate, melted

For the lemon curd:
80ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
60g butter
3 egg yolks
2 whole eggs, lightly beaten
75g caster sugar

For the meringue: preheat the oven to 110C/gas 1/4. Line 1 baking tray with non-stick baking parchment and draw a 9inch circle on the baking parchment and set aside. Whisk the egg whites in a large, clean bowl until stiff but not dry, then gradually whisk in the sugar and vanilla extract to make a stiff meringue mixture. Add the meringue into onto the circle on the baking parchment, creating peaks with a fork and bake in the oven for about 2-3 hours or until crisp and dry. Remove from the oven, leave to cool, then remove from the paper.

Meanwhile, for the biscuit base and cheesecake filling: put the custard creams and melted butter in a blender or food processor and blend together until well mixed. Add the crumb mixture to the cake tin pressing down to level the surface. Set aside. Put the water, lemon zest and 1 teaspoon of sugar in a small pan and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool. In a bowl, mix together the mascarpone cheese and remaining 25g of sugar, then fold in the whipped cream. Fold half of this mixture into the melted chocolate, then fold the chocolate mixture into the remaining mascarpone mixture, together with the cooled lemon mixture, stirring well. Spoon the lemon mixture over the biscuit base, and spreading it evenly. Chill in the fridge for several hours or until set.

For the lemon curd: put the lemon juice and butter in a heavy-based pan and heat gently until the butter is melted. Whisk in the egg yolks, whole eggs and sugar and bring gently to the boil then simmer for 4-5 minutes until thickened, whisking continuously. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool. To serve, unmould the cheesecake and place on a serving plate. Smear the top of the cheesecake with the lemon curd, then arrange the meringue on top.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Pastel Blossom Cupcakes

Happy Easter to everyone, I hope you are all enjoying the wonderful hot weather we are having in the UK, makes a lovely change to other years when it normally rains over Easter. I baked these cupcakes yesterday but didn't get to decorate them until today as I didn't realise I'd run out of icing sugar. I've baked these vanilla cupcakes before and they are quite possibly the most light and fluffy cupcakes I've ever baked. I decided to name them Pastel Blossom Cupcakes after the sprinkles I've used, plus spring has definitely arrived with all the flora in full bloom!

Pastel Blossom Cupcakes

Makes 12
175g (6 oz) self-raising flour
1½ level tsp baking powder
175g (6 oz) butter, softened
175g (6 oz) caster (superfine) sugar
3 large eggs
2 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Buttercream Icing
150g (5oz) butter, softened
300g (11 oz) icing (confectioners) sugar, sifted
1 tbsp milk
¼ tsp vanilla extract
Edible food colouring(s) of choice, optional
Sprinkle(s) for decoration of choice

You will also require 12 holed muffin tin lined with 12 paper muffin cases

Preheat the oven to 180°C/Fan oven 160°C/350°F/Gas mark 4.

Sift the self-raising flour and baking powder into a large bowl, and then add the butter, caster sugar, eggs, milk and vanilla extract. Beat together until well mixes, trying not to over mix the mixture.

Spoon the mixture equally into the prepared paper cases and bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes or until the tops spring back when lightly pressed. Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes then turn out to completely cool on a wire rack.

To make the buttercream, beat the butter until soft. Add the icing sugar and stir until it’s just mixed in, then add the milk and vanilla and beat until light and fluffy. Divide into as many bowls as you want different colour(s) and add edible food colouring (you only require a few drops). This is purely optional should you wish to leave out the edible food colouring(s) and keep the buttercream natural.

Spread the icing on thickly with a palette knife on top of each cupcake or put the icing into a piping back and make a large swirl on top of each cupcake. Decorate each cupcake with your chosen sprinkle(s).

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Mini Egg Tiffin

Last year a few fellow bloggers made this Mini Egg Tiffin and my plan was to make it too. Unfortunately for some reason I never got round to making it. I had forgotten about the recipe and this week while browsing for Easter ideas I stumbled upon it once again and couldn't wait to make it. This is very similar to the Malteser Traybake, only difference is it doesn't have melted chocolate which is exchanged for cocoa powder in this version. This is super easy and quick to assemble, an ideal Easter recipe for kids to make. I have a feeling this won't last until the weekend, not with hubby working from home all this week! I'm already planing on making another one for when my son and his family come over to celebrate Easter Sunday with us.

Mini Egg Tiffin

Fills 1 x 1lb tin

85g butter
2 tbsp golden syrup
2 tbsp cocoa
170g digestives, crushed (I blitz them in a food processor)
170g mini eggs, lightly crushed
30g mini eggs, left whole

Gently melt butter and golden syrup in large pan. Stir in cocoa, digestives and crushed mini eggs.

Line a 1lb loaf tin with cling film. Press mixture into tin then press the whole mini eggs into the top. Refrigerate until set.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Easter Biscuits

Today I've started my Easter baking festivities with these Easter Biscuits which I made a couple of years ago and never got round to baking them last year. These spicy fruited biscuits are a traditional English gift, given to guests on Easter Sunday and originates from the west country. These moreish biscuits are quick and easy to whip up and provide a refreshing accompaniment to a cup of afternoon tea!

Easter Biscuits

Makes 10-15
100g butter
80g caster sugar
1 egg yolk
150g plain flour
½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp mixed spice
100g currants
1 extra tbsp caster sugar

To make the biscuits, heat the oven to 170C/Gas 3.
With an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolk.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and mixed spice.Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, mixing well with a knife. Mix in the currants, squishing the dough together and kneading briefly until smooth, allowing the warmth of your hands to soften it.

Roll out finely on a lightly floured bench (best done under a sheet of clingfilm) and cut into 6cm or 8cm rounds with a plain or fluted biscuit-cutter.

Place on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper, and sprinkle with caster sugar. Bake for 12 to 15 min until just cooked, but not browned.

Carefully transfer to a wire rack — the biscuits should still be a little soft but will become crisp as they cool.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Cookies and Cream Fudge Brownies

It’s been another busy weekend of spring cleaning and de-cluttering, it may be hard work but it always feels so good once it’s all done. Whilst hubby was moving his office up into the loft room I made good use of my time to bake these brownies I keep hearing so much about in the blog world. Anything that involves a combination of chocolate and Oreo cookies gets my vote, who else is in agreement? If there was only one word I was allowed to use to describe these brownies it would be have to be WOW! These brownies are incredibly delicious and would be wonderful served warm with some good quality vanilla ice cream. If you dare to make these you will without doubt want to bake them again.

On a side note this week I had the best surprise from my hubby when after years of lusting after a DSLR camera he bought me the Canon EOS 500D + 18-55mm + 75-300mm Twin Lens Kit!! I am such a lucky girl/wife and love my new camera. Although it's gonna take me some time to really learn how to use it to full advantage. The pics of the brownies are taken with my new camera and I can immediately see the difference in quality compared to anything before. I'm really looking forward to taking more pics of my baking and cooking with my new toy :)

Cookies and Cream Fudge Brownies

165g/5½oz butter, plus extra for greasing
200g/7oz dark chocolate, grated or finely chopped
3 free-range eggs
2 free-range egg yolks 1 vanilla pod, seeds only (or alternatively 2 tsp vanilla extract)
165g/5½ oz soft light brown sugar
2 tbsp plain flour
1 tbsp cocoa powder
pinch salt
154g/5½oz pack chocolate biscuits, such as Oreos, broken into quarters
icing sugar, for dusting (optional)

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Grease a 20cm/8in square baking tin with butter, then line with baking paper with the paper overlapping the sides a little.

Melt the butter in a pan over a medium heat. When the butter has melted, remove the pan from the heat and add the grated (or chopped) chocolate. Leave to stand for a few minutes, or until the chocolate melts, and then stir together. Alternatively, you can put the chocolate and butter in a bowl and melt in the microwave in 25-second blasts, stirring well each time.

Whisk the eggs, egg yolks and vanilla together in a large bowl until the eggs begin to get light and fluffy. Add the sugar in two additions, whisking between each. Pour it around the side of the egg mix so as not to knock out the air that has been whisked in. Keep whisking until the mixture becomes stiffer. Once the egg mixture is ready, pour the chocolate into it - again around the sides so as not to knock the air out.

Add the flour, cocoa powder, salt and a third of the biscuits and stir until fully combined, then pour the mixture into the prepared tin. Scatter the remaining biscuits over the top, pressing them in slightly. Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 25–30 minutes. The middle should be very so slightly gooey.

Leave the brownies to cool in the tin - the top will sink and crack a little. Pull the brownies out using the overlapping paper and cut into squares. Dust with icing sugar.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Mushroom and Sausage Pasta

I seriously love pasta and would happily live on it most days would it not be for the need to keep an eye on my weight (which is a constant battle)! I do have my regular pasta recipes that are firm favourites in my home but at the same time I am always on the look-out for new recipes to try. This recipe comes from May's edition of Good Food magazine and screamed out "must try"! I adapted it slightly and used lean sausages and bacon to cut down on calories, it did not deter at all from the flavour. This hearty dish absolutely fulfilled my expectations with all the wonderful flavours it delivered. I've made this twice now and urge you to try it too.

Mushroom and Sausage Pasta

Serves 4


4 sausages, skins removed and meat squeezed out
4 bacon rashers, diced
200g mushrooms, chopped
350g pasta shapes
50g parmesan, grated, plus extra shavings to serve
2 egg yolks
Small bunch parsley, finely chopped
2 tbsp half-fat crème fraîche

Dry-fry the sausage meat in a non-stick pan for 8-10 mins until browned, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, then remove and set aside. Fry bacon and mushrooms for 5-8 mins until golden, return the sausage meat and keep warm.

Cook the pasta following pack instructions. Make the sauce by beating together the parmesan, egg yolks, most of the parsley and the crème fraîche. When the pasta is cooked, drain, reserving a ladle of the cooking water.

Combine the pasta and meat mixture over a low heat and add the sauce. Season and quickly mix, adding a splash of cooking water if it’s a little thick. Spoon into bowls and eat with the extra parmesan shavings and remaining parsley on top.

Monday, 11 April 2011


I hope everyone had a great weekend and made the most of the weather. We had a lovely time on Sunday when our son came over and of course we love spending time with our grandson Ollie, whose now nearly 6 months. He is such a happy baby, always smiling and making cute baby gurgles and giggles. His mum and I took him into town and I did my nannie duties and spoiled him with some gorgeous summer clothes! Below are some pics I took of him yesterday, isn't he so cuddly? OK I had better stop cos I could go on about him all day! Today I made these flapjacks from one of my new cookbooks that I had not used until now, Baking Made Easy by Lorraine Pascale. I haven't baked flapjacks for such a long time and the addition of lemon zest and ginger gave these a different angle. They turned out to be just as I'd hoped, typically chewy but with a refreshing burst of flavour! Next on my list to bake from this cookbook will be the Cookies and Cream Fudge Brownies, how amazing do they sound??


Makes 12
175g butter
175g golden syrup
175g muscovado sugar
350g porridge oats
finely grated zest of ½ lemon
pinch of ground ginger

Preheat the oven to 150oC/fan oven 130oC/Gas mark 2. Line a 20cm/8in square baking tin with baking paper.

Melt the butter in a medium pan over a low heat. Dip a brush in the butter and brush the baking tin with a little bit of it. Add the golden syrup and sugar to the butter and heat gently. Once the sugar is dissolved and the butter is melted remove the pan from the heat and stir in the porridge oats, lemon zest and ginger.

Pack the mixture into the baking tin and squash down. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes.

Once cooked, remove from the oven, leave to cool for 15 minutes, then turn out on to a chopping board and cut into squares.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Traditional Choc Chip Cookies

I can't believe what wonderful weather we have been having in the UK this week and I hope it lasts but somehow I doubt it (probably rain for the next month now)! To make the most of the sun we decided it was time to tackle the garden, which had not been touched all winter. After a number of back breaking hours and 3 trips to the local tip to dispose of the mountain of garden waste produced I decided to spend my afternoon baking these cookies. My son and his family are coming over tomorrow for the day and I enjoy spoiling him when he comes and these super yummy traditional choc chip cookies will do just that! Although I am having to guard the cookie tin until tomorrow from hubby's greedy little mits!

Traditional Choc Chip Cookies

Makes 14 (I ended up with 20)
Baking time: 12-15 minutes

150g plain chocolate chips
150g white chocolate chips
140g butter
150g caster sugar
1 egg
½ tsp vanilla extract
200g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder

Preheat the oven to 180oC/fan oven 160oC/Gas Mark 4. Lightly grease two baking sheets or line them with baking paper.

Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Beat in the egg and the vanilla extract. Sift in the flour and baking powder together and beat into the mixture. Add the chocolate chips and stir until well combined.

Drop 5-6 rounded tablespoons of the dough on to each baking sheet, spacing well apart, as the cookies will almost double in size.

Bake until golden, 12-15 minutes. Cool on the baking sheet for 2-3 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to five days.

Recipe from: Cookies Galore by Jacqueline Bellefontaine

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Elderflower & Lemon Drizzle Cake

Spring has arrived in the UK and we have been having some glorious weather, which was perfect as it came just in time for a long weekend break in Devon with my hubby. It feels like ages since I last baked and blogged but I’ve not been into my blog as of late and yesterday decided to resume normal service. I saw this cake recipe in one of my foodie magazines and thought it to be a perfect way to kick off Spring! We all love the classic Lemon Drizzle Cake and the addition of Elderflower gives it an extra delicious twist!

Elderflower & Lemon Drizzle Cake

225g/8oz butter, softened
225g/8oz caster sugar
4 large eggs
225g/8oz self raising flour, sifted
zest and juice 1 lemon
2tbsp hot water
100ml elderflower cordial
2 tbsp granulated sugar

Preheat the oven to 180C/ Fan 160C/Gas Mark 4. Grease a (20cm) round, deep loose-based tin and base line with baking parchment.

Place the butter, caster sugar and lemon zest in a large bowl and beat until pale and fluffy. Gradually add the eggs, whisking well between additions. When you whisk in the last egg, add 2 tbsp of the flour as well, this will prevent curdling.

Sift in the remaining flour, then gently fold it in with a metal spoon along with 2 tbsp hot water. Spoon into the prepared tin, level the surface and bake for 45-50mins or until it is shrinking away from the sides of the tin. A fine skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean. Cool in the tin for 5 mins.

Squeeze the lemon juice, then sieve to remove the bits, stir in the cordial. Use the fine skewer to prick the cake all over, pour over the syrup then sprinkle over the sugar - it should sink in but leave a crunchy crust. Leave to cool completely, before removing the cake from the tin. Serve in wedges.