Halloween Chocolate Apples

What is more satisfying than a crunchy fresh apple smothered in chocolate? I’m not great toffee maker and quite frankly I prefer chocolate apples to the classic toffee in any case.

There is not much dignified about making or eating a chocolate apple but they are a whole lot of fun aren’t they? We added some edible glitter and piped faces…. I made this grumpy faced one for my husband! I’ll be in trouble for this ha!

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Iced Gingerbread Cupcakes

I made these gingerbread cupcakes for Christmas Eve last year as a alternative for Santa. They are an old Nigella recipe from her Feast book I have been using for years which works really well and gives really moist christmassy cupcake. I just added the icing and drizzled chocolate as an extra treat for the big man.

Here’s the recipe:

 

Gingerbread Muffins (Feast by Nigella Lawson)

  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 6 tablespoons vegetable or corn oil
  • 4 tablespoons dark corn syrup
  • 4 tablespoons molasses

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Grease or line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper muffin cups. Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and spices in a large bowl. Whisk the egg in another bowl, then add the brown sugars, making sure to break up any lumps.

Add the milk and vinegar to the egg-brown sugar mixture then measure in the oil with a tablespoon. Use the same oily spoon to add the corn syrup and molasses so they don’t stick to it. Whisk the mixture to combine and add to the flour and spices.

Stir until mixed but still fairly lumpy-the mixture may be more runny than you expect for muffins- but you need the dense stickiness of gingerbread, rather than a cakey crumb. Spoon or pour the mixture into the muffin cups and bake for about 20 minutes until the tops are dry.

Once they have cooled, top them with gloopy water icing and drizzle with melted chocolate once the icing has fully set.

Makes 12 Muffins.

Mother & Daughter baking – Butterfly Jam Tarts

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More evening baking in our household for this Tuesdays pudding. The cupboards were a tad bare today so good old pastry made an appearance.

I’ve said it before but I don’t really use a recipe for standard shortcrust – it is now cemented in my brain so firm I don’t always even use scales. The original recipe I used when cooking with my mother was always from our flour and egg stained Be-Ro book and it goes a little something like this:

8oz plain flour
2oz butter
2oz lard
Enough cold water to combine the ingredients

Rub the fat into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs. Make a well and pour in the cold water a little at a time until it comes together in a firmish dough. Cool in the fridge for about 30 mins then roll out thinly.

So, back to the Tarts in hand. Pastry made and tins lined my daughter Kate & I next raid the fridge for jam to put in our tarts. Half a jar of apricot jam springs to our attention and next thing you know, we’ve filled the pastry cases and licked a couple too many spoons. We had some extra pastry left over so decided to top our tarts with some butterfly shapes using our favourite butterfly cutter set. 12 minutes in the oven and about 30 seconds to eat them all!

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Mini Vanilla Butter Biscuits

Sometimes after dinner, when I haven’t pre prepared any dessert, I find myself scrabbling around the cupboards for any sign of something sweet. A biscuit would do, to go with my evening twinings of course. Well the cupboard was bare so the only thing to do was to make some. Nothing too fancy, just a sweet buttery, almost shortbread like mini melt in the mouth treat. Perfect accompaniment to any saucer.

Pre heat oven to gas mark 4 or 180’C

225g or 8oz plain flour
150g or 5 1/2 oz butter
125g or 4 1/2 oz caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Rub the butter into the flour until it resembles bread crumbs. Stir in the caster sugar and vanilla extract and bring together until it makes a firm dough. Roll out to 1cm thick and use a 1″ cutter for mini biscuits or a 2″ cutter for greedier portions!

Place the biscuits on some baking parchment on a large oven tray and bake for 15 – 20 mins until they are just starting to colour. Leave to cool then sprinkle with a little more caster sugar.

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Chocolate Rudolph the Reindeer Cupcakes

Pure chocolate fun, these cupcake can make use of those leftover sweets you have lying around at this time year. Everyone gets given a box of matchmakers right?!

I used my basic chocolate cupcake mix, piped some chocolate butter cream for the frosting and topped with mint chocolate sticks for antlers, red jelly tots or red smarties for rudolph noses (the smarties worked best – the red jelly tots weren’t really bright enough) and some black sugar paste with white pearls for eyes.

Here’s the cupcake recipe:

150g Self raising flour

175g Castor sugar

30g Cocoa powder

175g Butter

3 large eggs

2 tbsp of milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients with a hand mixer or by hand. Bake at Gas Mark 3 or 170c for approx 20 mins.

Christmas Fayre Successes?

After visiting the Crafts for Christmas exhibition at the Birmingham NEC this year and stocking up with supplies, I was really excited to have a stall all of my own at a few Christmas Fayres on the run up to the festive season.  I’ve done two so far and have some pics below of my stall.

There are quite a few learns I took away with me after doing just these two but am really interested in your Christmas Fayre experiences, tips, pitfalls etc. I found that:

– Anything edible seems to go well – chocolate christmas pudding cupcakes sold out within about 20 mins

– People do not take huge amounts of money to Christmas Fayres (especially school ones) so have lots of cheaper items

– It is a good way to network and get possible future orders

– Make sure you have a good float with lots of change

– Oh and make sure you take sticky tape, blue tack, a pen, some bags for peoples purchases

– You can negotiate on stall prices (sometimes)

Would love to hear from others who have braved the Christmas Fayres this year and how you found it…… get in touch

 

Christmas Star Cookies (or Biscuits for us Brits!)

They’re biscuits really aren’t they?! I do quite like that we have adopted the American ‘cookie’. It’s makes our decorated biscuits sound a tad cuter no?

I knocked these up fondant iced vanilla cookies for a Christmas Fayre I had a stall at a couple of weeks back.  The kids loved them and they are so simple to make.

You will need:

140g icing sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla extrect

1 large egg

250g butter

375g plain flour

250g of red sugar paste & 250g white sugarpaste

white royal icing or writing icing to decorate

Makes about 24

Pre heat the oven to 180c or gas mark 4 and grease  or line 2 large baking sheets

mix together the icing sugar, egg, butter and vanilla extract in a bowl. Add the flour and combine into a firm dough. Place to dough ih the fridge for at least 30 mins.  This will make it easier to handle and you cookie will hold their shape well when baked.

Roll out the dough to approx 1/2 inch thick and cut out your stars.  Try not to re roll the dough more than once or it will become tough.

Bake for approx 12 mins or until golden.

Once the cookies are fully cooled, roll out your sugar paste to approx 1/4 inch thick and cut out your icing stars using the same cutter as the cookies so they fit perfectly. Stick them to your cookies with a smear of royal icing. Now just add some detail to your cookies with the rest of your royal icing or writing icing.

 

Classic Mince pies with drizzle icing

There are tonnes of mince pie recipes out there with different methods and variations on the pastry or homemade filling.  This one is the most simple shortcrust pastry and filling from a jar with a couple of added extras.  It may not win any prizes but it’s a great recipe for the kids to do with you or even if your a homemade mince pie virgin. I am always shocked at the amount of people who buy standard boxes of mince pies and most of them are pretty bad in my opinion compared to making your own.  So, if you’ve never made mince pies before try it today! This is quick and simple and, of course, they freeze amazingly so are perfect for when unexpected guests pop over in the holidays or as a last minute gift boxed with a bit of nice christmas ribbon. This makes about 18.

preheat oven to gas mark 6 or 200c/400F

Ingredients:

For the pastry:

8oz (225g) plain flour

2oz (50g) lard

2oz (50g) butter

2 tbsp cold water

For the filling

1 jar of Robinsons mincemeat

1 tsp brandy (optional)

Milk or egg to glaze

Icing sugar and a few drops of water to make the icing.

I have been using this shortcrust pastry recipe since I was 6 and it was from a Be-Ro book my mother still has. It can easily be adapted to a sweet pastry by adding 1oz (25g) of caster or icing sugar if you wish. Put the flour and fats into a bowl and rub until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the water and combine until it makes a firm dough. Try to handle the dough too much. Roll out thinly and cut 18 large circles and 18 medium circles for the lids.  You will need to re roll the pastry once to get the full quantities out of the mixture but try not to re roll any more than this or the dough will be come tough. Lay out the bottoms of the mince pies into shallow bun tins.

Empty 1/2 the contents of the jar of mincemeat into a bowl and add the brandy and mix well. Spoon a tsp of the mincemeat into each pie and top with a lid. Add two or three holes into the lids with a knife to allow to steam to come out. Glaze well with the milk or egg. Bake for approx 15 mins or until golden brown.

When cool make up a small amount of run out icing with some icing sugar and a few drops of water and drizzle over the top of the mice pies. Dust with icing sugar to finish.

 

 

Flapjack Pizza

How did I manage to lose my tray bake tin?? I can only imagine in my recent house move but disaster not! I’d already made up a batch of flapjack mix before realising this fatal error so I decided to bake the flapjacks in a shallow round cake tin instead.  As I squished it down it reminded me of a pizza base and so, the flapjack pizza was born! Ours is topped with raisins and chunks of chocolate finger biscuits but you can go with whatever you have in the cupboard; drizzled chocolate, yogurt or icing, any dried fruits, chocolate chips, smarties or other sweets – really go for it! Some toppings will need to go on before baking (mainly the raisins and other dried fruits, others once the flapjack pizza has cooled. Cut into pizza slice slabs and enjoy.

Another winner for lunch boxes I think!

Flapjack recipe:

250g oats

150g butter or marg

75g caster sugar

75g  golden syrup

combine all the ingredients together and press down in a greased round shallow tin – I used a 9″ and this mix fits perfectly. Bake in a preheated oven at gas mark 4 or 180c for approx 20-25 mins for a chewy flapjack, gas mark 5 or 190c for a crunchier texture. Allow to cool completely before cutting with a pizza cutter or it will crumble a bit like mine did (I couldn’t wait!).  Can be frozen.

Halloween Cupcakes & Cookies

I was asked to make these for my Hubby’s Halloween party at work (I say work, sounds like they do more eating than working!). So i made 12 vanilla cupcakes, 12 chocolate cupcakes and 24 cookies.


The Cupcakes were topped with a green vanilla frosting and sugarpaste pumpkin toppers.  These were made by cutting out 1.5″ circles of green sugar paste, adding a small amount of orange for the pumpkins by making a pea sized ball and pressing it into a pumpkin shape and then piping on the stork and face with a small amount of royal icing.

Half of the cookies were made into skeletons with piped royal icing and the other half turned into ghosts by piping an out line in the royal icing all the way around the cookie, then add some more water to the remainder of your royal icing to make a run out consistency  and fill in the outline.  Once set add spooky eyes and mouth.

I may try chocolate apples and lollipops later if I have time!

 

Happy Halloween!