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Brandy Snaps – A Christmas Dessert

These brandy snaps actually do not contain any brandy but could made festive by adding brandy to the whipped cream filling! This is one of my favourite treats around the holidays because of the ginger in the recipe and you can’t go wrong with these at a Christmas party or just a treat for yourself!

Ingredients

100 grams salted butter

100 grams brown sugar

100 grams golden syrup or honey

100 grams all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp lemon juice

For decorating (optional)

100 grams chocolate, melted

100 grams chopped nuts like pistachios

For the filling

1 cup heavy whipping cream

4 tsp cold water

1 tsp unflavoured gelatin

1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Special Equipment

Silpat or other silicone mat that is oven-safe and food-grade silicone

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°F
  2. In a medium size saucepan combine the butter, sugar, and syrup over low heat until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved (this should take about 15 minutes, taking care not to let the mixture boil)
  3. Remove from the hear and let the mixture cool for a few minutes
  4. Sift the flour and ginger into the sugar mixture and add the lemon juice
  5. Mix well until all ingredients are fully incorporated and there are no lumps of flour
  6. Spoon rounded teaspoons of the mixture 4 inches apart onto the Silpat on a baking sheet
  7. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until the brandy snaps have a dark golden colour
  8. Allow the biscuits to sit out for a few minutes to firm up before shaping around the handle of a wooden spoon or form to get the classic brandy snap shape
  9. The brandy snaps only need a few seconds to cool on the wooden spoon handle before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely
  10. Dip the ends of the brandy snaps in melted chocolate and sprinkle with chopped nuts
  11. Fill the snaps with the whipped cream filling using a piping bag and a nozzle or a ziplock bag with the corner cut off and refrigerate until serving (the gelatin in the whipped cream will keep it from going runny so you could prepare these up to a day ahead)
For the filling
  1. In a small microwave safe bowl sprinkle the gelatin over the 4 tsp water and allow to sit for 2 minutes
  2. Microwave the mixture for about 15 seconds or until the gelatin is dissolved and is liquid
  3. Using an electric mixer whip the cream, vanilla, and confectioner’s sugar to soft peaks
  4. While the mixer is running on medium speed, slowly drizzle in the gelatin mixture and whip the cream until stiff peaks form

 

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Homemade Jaffa Cakes

These are one of my family’s favourite treats from back in England but unfortunately you can’t buy them here. Here’s my take on how to make these orange-chocolate jaffa cakes.

Ingredients for the jelly

3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp powdered orange gelatin (Jello)

1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp cup hot water

zest of 1 orange

Directions for the jelly

  1. In a small bowl, combine the gelatin, hot water, and orange zest, and stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved.
  2. Pour the mixture into a 20 x 30 cm non-stick rectangular pan (don’t grease the pan).
  3. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.

 

Ingredients for the cakes

2 large eggs

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

180 grams of dark chocolate, melted

 

Directions for the cakes

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. In a large bowl beat the eggs with the sugar with an electric mixer until they are pale and fluffy, about 5-7 minutes.
  3. Sift in the flour and gently fold it into the mixture
  4. Grease a mini muffin pan and fill each cup with about 1 tbsp mixture.
  5. Bake for 7-8 minutes or until a toothpick poked in the middle comes out clean.
  6. Allow to cool completely.

 

To assemble

  1. Turn out the jelly onto a piece of parchment paper by loosening the edges and then quickly flipping the pan over the non-stick paper
  2. Using a 1-inch cookie cutter cut out the jelly, the off cuttings can be melted and refrigerated again to cut out more jelly pieces.
  3. Place one jelly piece on one cake and coat the top in the melted dark chocolate.
  4. Allow the chocolate to set in the freezer, then serve.

 

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19TH STRAWBERRY & WHIPPED CREAM BIRTHDAY CAKE – step by step guide to making a birthday cake

This year I had a small birthday bbq for my 19th birthday. I’m still not 19, a few more weeks and I will have completed my 19th year of life, but I wanted to have some friends over early to celebrate and eat cake. It’s not often that everyone is around on my birthday, especially because it is exactly in the middle of summer when everyone goes on holiday so I guess I get 2 celebrations, one with friends and one with my family on my actual birthday.

I was so excited to make the same cake as I had for my brother’s wedding because I think it may have become my favourite type of cake. I did cheat and use box cake mix but its oh so worth it, plus it cuts down some of the time it takes to make the cake, especially since there are extra steps. I made a white chocolate cake with fresh whipped cream and fresh strawberries.

Tip: I like to make the cake decorations at least 2 days before assembling the cake and bake the cakes one day before assembling. That way the cakes will be 100% cooled and there will be no chance of the frosting melting!

Scroll down to see some pictures and to get the recipe for the cake and the frosting!

Ingredients for the cake (makes 4 layers)

1 stick of butter cut into slices about 1 tbsp each

6oz of white chocolate chips

1 box of white cake mix (the

1 cup whole milk

3 large eggs

 

Steps

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F convection bake.

2. Place the butter and white chocolate in a glass bowl over a pan of simmering water (bain-marie) and stir until both have melted. then set aside.

3. In a large bowl add the cake mix, the milk, the eggs, and then add the melted chocolate mixture.

4. With an electric mixer mix the cake batter on medium until smooth. It will have thickened and may have tiny lumps but that’s okay.

5. Divide the batter between 2 greased and lined cake pans and bake for 20-30 minutes or until the top is golden brown and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

6. Allow the cakes to cool in the pans for about 5 minutes and then turn them out to cool on a wire rack.

7. Trim the domes off the cake and wrap in clingfilm (saran wrap) before popping them into the freezer for at least 2 hours.

8. Cut each cake in half to make 2 layers of cake from each one (you will now have 4 layers total).

 

Ingredients for the stabilized whipped cream filling

2 tsp unflavoured gelatin

8 tsp cold water

2 cups heavy whipping cream

1 cup confectioner’s sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 packages of strawberries washed and cut into half (this is for the assembly)

 

Steps

1. In a small bowl sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water and set aside.

2. Whip the cream and the confectioner’s sugar until it begins to thicken.

3. Microwave the gelatin mixture for about 10 seconds or until liquidy.

4. While mixing on high, slowly drizzle the gelatin into the whipped cream.

5. Whip until stiff peaks and then store in the fridge in an airtight container.

Ingredients for the swiss meringue buttercream

6 egg large whites at room temperature

1 1/3 cups white sugar

4 sticks salted butter at room temperature

2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

 

Steps:

1. Over a bain-marie, combine the egg whites and sugar and mix until the mixture reaches 140°F (if you don’t have a thermometer this will be when the sugar is completely dissolved and it will be pretty hot to the touch, be very careful not to cook the egg whites).

2. Remove the egg white mixture from the bain-marie and with an electric mixer on high, whip until stiff peaks.

3. Once the egg whites and sugar have reached stiff peaks (the bowl should be able to be turned over and the meringue will not move or fall out).

4. With the mixture on medium, slowly add the butter 1 tbsp at a time. Whip for about a minute after adding the last piece of butter.

5. If the mixture looks like it has separated at the end of mixing, the butter may have been too cold, so to fix this, return the frosting to the bain-marie until it begins to look a little melted around the bowl. Remove from the heat and whip until stiff peaks.

Assembling the cake

1. On the cake stand put 1 layer of cake.

2. spread about a cup of the whipped cream all the way to the edges of the cake layer. The whipped cream filling should be about 1 cm thick.

3. Press the strawberry halves into the cream filling.

4. Repeat steps 1-3 for all the layers.

5. Place in the fridge for 10 minutes.

7. Frost the crumb coat (a very thin layer of frosting on the cake to stick all the crumbs to the cake).

8. Let the crumb coat set in the fridge for 10 minutes.

9. Apply the final layer of frosting (I tinted half of the remaining frosting a very very pale blue and the other half a slightly darker blue and put the darker blue on the bottom and turned the cake standing while holding my frosting knife still to blend the colours. I also piped a geometric design on the bottom of the cake using royal icing.)

10. Finish with the decorations and serve!

 

 

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MY BROTHER GOT MARRIED!

Photo credit to Dei Gratia Photo

Just last week my older brother and his fiancé got married! Congratulations!!! It was such a beautiful wedding filled with love & laughter, the best things to have at a wedding. I am so happy to say that I now have another sister! My brother and his (hehe) WIFE asked me about a year ago if I would bake their wedding cake, and my first reaction was to laugh. It probably wasn’t the best reaction, but I wasn’t a professional baker, I had yet to master making creme brulee. I had baked and decorated a couple of birthday cakes only for family members, which I think turned out pretty good. Each time I learned what not to do from the previous time.

Eventually, I convinced myself that I could do it. All I needed was a little faith and of course, the equipment and ingredients to bake and assemble the cake. Every now and then, my mum would ask me, “Charis? Are you sure you want to make the cake? We can get it made by the bakery and I’ll help to fund it.” But my brother and his fiance had asked ME to do it and I really wanted to make them proud.

I was never really nervous about the process until the day before the wedding. I wanted the cake to be as fresh as possible and so I had planned to bake the cake the day before and freeze them until assembly time. I had completely forgotten the time constraints for getting ready and attending the rehearsal and the dinner, leaving me with a few hours less than I thought. Later that night I baked the 2 last layers of the bottom tier of the cake, breaking one because I was too impatient to wait to turn it out of the pan. I had prepared all of the fondant flowers the week before so decoration wasn’t a huge issue but the interior structure of the cake seemed that it would be compromised by the broken cake layer.

The next day, Wedding Day, I got a few extra ingredients having second-guessed how much I really needed of each, and off we drove 40 mins away from the center of town. a trip that I knew if I ran out 0f ingredients no one would want to make, especially with the wedding in just about 7 hours. I mixed up fillings and syrups and I filled and stacked the different tiers of the cake and then my biggest worry, frosting. With the wedding being outdoors on what was supposed to be an 85-degree day, without research haha, Italian buttercream seemed like a good choice. Its base was meringue which would help to hold the butter up, and it tastes fantastic. But the only issue is that it’s very finicky. one wrong move and the frosting could be a soupy mess. To my horror, I hadn’t let the Italian meringue cool enough before adding a small amount of the butter. The meringue that I had beaten for ages to get the silky, hold-the-bowl-over-your-head meringue, was destroyed.

I didn’t have enough time or enough eggs to re-whip it so I had to wing it. I did a little research, the first result saying that this had happened to them and so they added all the butter in one go and it worked. That was a huge gamble being that it was all of the butter that I had brought. So I read other results saying it was gone, I had to start over, no one knows how to fix it. So I did it, I added ALL the butter in one go, in hopes that it would cool the mixture down fast enough that I could whip it in and then reincorporate air to get the frosting to that bright white.

In the end, it had worked! I couldn’t really tell if it was a super bright white frosting but I had been told by passers-by that it looked bright to them. The bride and groom were so relaxed that they said it’ll taste good anyways and they gave me confidence that no matter what it’d be okay. I frosted it together and stuck the cake in the fridge, I think the bottom 2 tiers must have weighed 30-40 pounds 😅 because my and my sister’s arms were shaking as we tried to keep the cake level on a wobbly stand, going into the fridge. After the ceremony, we recruited 2 of the groomsmen to help us carry it to the barn where the reception was and there my sister Emma and I topped it off with the last tier.

It was done. The cake was finally a cake, 3 tiers high, Tiramisu, White chocolate cake with strawberries and whipped cream, and lemon and whipped cream. Now it was up to the weather to not melt the icing off the cake. My sister and I rushed off to take pictures, icing on her bridesmaid dress 😆, but the bouquet could cover it. She thought it was funny as well so we laughed and enjoyed the wedding.

There was live music, dancing, and a mac ‘n cheese bar. Later that night I got to drive them away in the getaway car, the night was so peaceful driving through the countryside with the stars twinkling above and the bride and groom sitting up on the back of the convertible, the wind in their hair, and such love beaming from them.

It was an absolutely wonderful day, congratulations I & N! I love you guys so much! Xx

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SHORT CRUST PASTRY RECIPE

This Is A very basic recipe and my favourite! I use this pastry for everything and have never gone to a different recipe.

I got this recipe from my Great British Bake Off Book, of course! Instead of using unsalted butter, if I’m in a rush, for example if I’m making Cornish Pasties, a family favourite, then I do break the rules and use salted butter. Either way the pastry turns out delicious.

Ingredients
600 grams all-purpose (plain) flour
pinch of salt
300 grams cold unsalted butter, cubed
3-6 tablespoons icy water

 

DIRECTIONS

1. In a large bowl, rub the flour and butter together until it resembles bread crumb

2. Add about 3 tablespoons of the water and mix well

3. Continue adding water, one tablespoon at a time until the dough comes together, the dough shouldn’t be sticky or crumbly

4. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap (cling film) and refrigerate the dough for at least 20 minutes

5. Its ready to use!

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20TH BIRTHDAY CAKE!

I love baking cakes, and usually plan to bake the cake before the day it is being served and decorating on the day.

My sister just turned 20! She loves to do make up, so I thought – why not make a birthday cake with a Sephora makeup theme – her favorite! It wasn’t a total surprise for her as she came back from college much sooner than I thought. Thankfully I hadn’t put on the decorations yet and it was just a cake covered in marshmallow fondant that I thought looked really ugly. I ended up tearing off the fondant, and giving it a new coat of chocolate buttercream frosting. The second round look was much better!

Sephora cake

Serves 15 inch-thick slices
INGREDIENTS
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon instant coffee granules
2 large eggs at room temperature
2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup of boiling water
To make the decorations:

Make black marshmallow fondant by following a marshmallow fondant recipe. When the marshmallows are melted add cocoa powder, 1/4 cup at a time, until it is a dark brown colour, then add black food colouring, and begin adding the powdered sugar, then continue to follow the recipe.

To bake the cake:
Tip: START 1 DAY AHEAD

1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF convection bake

2. Grease and flour 4, 9-inch cake pans with a removable base (you can use one cake pan like I did, but you just have to wait for each cake to bake, then remove from the oven, cool slightly, and then re-grease and flour the pan)

3. In a large bowl mix together the cocoa powder, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and instant coffee granules

4. Add the eggs, vanilla and vegetable oil and mix until the batter is smooth

5. While mixing, slowly add in the boiling water, about 1/8th cup (2 tablespoons) at a time

6. Divide the batter into 4 and pour each portion into the prepared pans

7. Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake, comes out clean

8. Allow the cakes to cool, then level them and brush a simple syrup (1/2 cup water + 1/2 cup sugar brought to a boil) over each of the layers on the cut side

9. Wrap the cakes in clingfilm (plastic wrap) and freeze over night

To assemble the cake:

1. Put 1 tablespoon of the chocolate buttercream onto the cake board and put the first layer of cake on it (this is to hold the cake in place)

2. Spread a 1 cm thick layer of buttercream then put another layer of cake on it, repeat with the rest of the layers

3. Spread the buttercream over the whole cake

4. Add the decorations

5. Enjoy!

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MAKING A CAKE FOR MY MUM!

Occasion: 50th birthday
The most amazing 50th-birthday-cake Cake original design by: Charis Summers

This cake was made for me by my daughter, isn’t it amazing?

This cake is not easy to make, you have to be very patient and need to practice your sculpturing fingers. Give yourself plenty of time, maybe the entire day!

NB. There's no recipe for this post but there are references to videos to show you how to make certain components of the cake.

For the base, you can use any type of sponge cake, yellow cake or white cake recipe.

The lovely icing that covers the whole of the cake is made with ruffled effect fondant.
Kb-youtube
Watch on Youtube – How to make the ombre colored fondant by Cake Trend
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The flower decorations can be made with homemade modelling chocolate.

Kb-youtubeWatch on Youtube how to make modelling chocolate

This cake takes inspiration from a bunch of beautiful fresh flowers – a combination of lillies, roses, yellow daisies and a burst of tiny purple flowers. For an extra nice finishing touch, the cake is laced with glazed cherries and fresh raspberries.

Birthday Flowers

50th birthday cake

50th-birthday-cake

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Vanilla Birthday Cake

 

vanilla sponge

I really like the fluffiness of this cake and also I made it with my favorite Madagascar vanilla extract.

In my opinion, I think Madagascar vanilla tastes the best. However, you can use any type of vanilla – I don’t think it matters too much. I ended up making a birthday cake to send 1000 miles away to Nashville, TN, to my older sister in college. We needed something to put the cake in so we combed the supermarket aisle for a plastic tub but all the tubs we found were either too big or too small. Also, the way the flat rate postage system works, if we went for the larger container it meant we would have to pay around $45 to mail the little cake  – which I admit was far too expensive. So, the only option left was to get a smaller tub and sadly I had to re-bake the cake! In the end, the postage came up to only $16 and there was even room to fit a small packet of chocolate chip cookies!

I guess the moral of the story is – don’t put the cart before the horse!

Anyway, in the end my sister got the cake in the mail. It took two days to arrive and she said it tasted great. I’m glad it didn’t go stale as I had no idea what room temperature or condition the cake was stored during shipment. 

Makes 24 cupcakes, 36 mini cupcakes or a large 16 inch tin cake
Ingredients
1 1/2 cups (2 sticks) butter, softened
3 cups granulated sugar
5 eggs, room temperature
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup whole milk
½ cup buttermilk (1/2 whole milk plus 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice, stirred and set aside)
2 teaspoons Madagascar vanilla extract
To make the cake:

1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF convection bake

2. In a large bowl cream the butter whilst gradually adding the sugar

3. Add the eggs in one at a time and mix thoroughly before adding the next egg

4. In a separate bowl combine the dry ingredients

5. In another bowl combine the milks and vanilla extract

6. Add 1/3 of the milk mixture to the butter, sugar and egg mixture and mix well

7. Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients and mix well

8. Add the next 1/3 of the milk and mix well, occasionally scraping down the side of the bowl

9. Add the next 1/3 of the dry ingredients and mix well

10. Mix in the last 1/3 of the milk mixture

11. Mix in the last 1/3 of the dry ingredients

12. Pour into a greased pan about 11×9 inch pan

13. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes

Decorating The Birthday Cake

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I baked the cake in a rectangular tin

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Then cut equal size round cakes with a sharp knife and paper templates I made

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I then stacked the cake rounds with chocolate buttercream to stick the layers together

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I used my favourite chocolate buttercream for the icing but you can use Nutella chocolate for that

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I covered the cake with a thin layer of chocolate frosting

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I made white modelling chocolate but you can buy ready made modelling chocolate

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I wrapped the entire cake with white modelling chocolate

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Decorating the cake was really fun! I didn’t plan anything on paper but it did have an idea of what I wanted it to look like!

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Ready for shipping
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Blackforest Cupcakes

Blackforest Cupcakes
ORIGINALLY a Cake, I decided to change it up a bit and make cupcakes!
Blackforest Cupcakes

Blackforest cake was traditionally a dessert for the holidays but I couldn’t resist having this beautiful cake in the summer. It’s time to satisfy my longing.

Makes 24 cupcakes and 36 mini cupcakes
Ingredients
For the cupcakes:
1 cup of water
1 tablespoon instant coffee granules
1/3 cup of milk
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted or salted butter, softened at room temperature
2 cups of granulated sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
2-1/4 cups of all – purpose flour
3/4 of a cup of Cocoa Powder
1 tsp of salt
1 teaspoon of baking powder
2 teaspoon of baking soda
For the cherry syrup:
2 -3 tablespoons of the juice from a jar of maraschino (glacé) cherries
1-1/2 teaspoons sugar (optional if cherry juice is not sweet enough)

For the frosting:

2-1/2 cups whipping cream
optional, 1-3 tablespoons confectioners (powdered) sugar
To make the cupcakes

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F convection bake

2. Bring the instant coffee, milk and water to a simmer and then take off the heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes
3. In a large bowl cream the softened butter and the sugar with an electric mixer

4. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat in

5. Combine the dry ingredients

6. Add half of the coffee, milk and water mixture to the egg mixture, it might look separated or curdled but that’s okay, mix

7. Mix in half of the dry ingredients, then scrape the sides of the bowl

8. Mix in the remaining coffee mixture and scrape the sides of the bowl

9. Add in the remaining dry ingredients and mix well, scraping down the sides of the bowl

10. In a lined muffin pan fill each cupcake case about 2/3 full

11. Bake the cupcakes on the middle oven rack for 12-15 minutes

12. Let the cupcakes cool

13. Whip the whipping cream and powdered sugar

14. Brush some cherry juice onto the top of each cupcake

15. Using a piping bag and decorating mall round decorating tip, fill each cupcake with a small amount of whipped cream

16. Make a swirl of whipped cream on the top

17. Finish each cupcake with any decorations you like such as the maraschino (glacé) cherries and chocolate decorations

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Peanut Butter Blossoms

Mmmm… peanut butter is very tasty and what a great idea to put it in a chewy cookie!

chocolTEPEANUTBUTTERBLOSSOMSDPP0001 copyI first learnt of this recipe from a very nice lady when we were looking at a house to buy, she left some amazing cookies on the kitchen counter top for us to sample. It filled the whole kitchen up with the lovely smell of baking. So I got this recipe from her. This recipe does make a tonne and they are very rich and sweet so feel free to reduce the ingredients in half.

Makes 5 – 7 dozen
Ingredients
For the biscuit mix (makes 6 cups):
5 cups all – purpose flour
1/4 cup baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter or margerine, chilled and cubed
For the peanut butter blossoms:
1, 14 oz can Condensed milk (sweetened)
3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
2 cups biscuit mix (see recipe below)
1 teaspoon vanilla extractgranulated sugar (for rolling the cookies in)
5 to 7 dozen hershey kisses (to put in each cookie after baking)
To make the biscuit mix

1. Put all of the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl or food processor

2. Add the cubed butter and mix (or pulse if using a food processor) until like fine bread crumbs

 

To make the peanut butter blossoms

1. In a large bowl mix the peanut butter and sweetened condensed milk

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2. Add biscuit mix and vanilla; mix well

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3. Preheat the oven to 375°F convection bake

4. Roll the dough into 1 inch balls and then roll in the granulated sugar

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5. Place 2 inches apart on parchment paper – lined baking trays

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6. Bake for 6-8 minutes or until lightly browned (they are not supposed to flatten out so don’t worry)

7. Press a hershey kiss into the center of each cookie immediately after baking

8. Let the hershey kisses melt a little and then eat them!

 

 

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Chocolate Dipped Pretzels

pretzels dipped in chocolate sprinkles
A fun rainy day project. Great for lunch boxes too!

pretzels dipped in chocolate sprinkles

Ingredients
Prezels
Milk chocolate chips (Nestle, Hersheys or Toll House)
Method

1. Melt chocolate 1/2 cup chip in the microwave for 30 secs and then additional 10 seconds if chocolate chips are not completely melted.

2. Dip pretzels in the cup and let excess chocolate run off.

3. Do 5 pretzels at a time and work on a large sheet of greece proof paper.

4. Pour sprinkles over top and let the chocolate harden.

5. Can be stored in the freezer for up to two weeks but I promise they will get eaten in no time!

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RASPBERRY CUSTARD BITES

raspberry custard pudding
perfect individual portions

raspberry custard pudding

I lied about how easy this recipe is. Pastry making is an adventure. You need tools and skills, maps and a compass. You’d also need a good vacuum cleaner at the end of the day! But you don’t have to go through the rigmarole of making the dough yourself. If you’re like me,  you can always cheat: just buy ready to fill pastry cups or shells by Pillsbury or Pepperidge Farm. If you live in England, frozen ready rolled shortcrust pastry from Tesco or Sainsbury will do nicely!

 

Make the pastry baskets

1. Roll out the pastry into 1/16 in thick.

2. Cut out short lengths of 3 inches long and 1/4 inch width strips.

3. Weave the strips into roughly a square shape and trim the edges off as show below.

4. You might not get so many segments in as the diagram shows but that’s ok. Just get the right amount that suits you.

weave thin strips of pastry into a square

Diagram 1: weave thin strips of pastry

 

 

Prepare the muffin tin with parchment paper

1. Referring to the diagram below, use a muffin tin.

2. Cut out strips of parchment paper and place them across the holes.

3. Cut out circles of parchment paper to put on top of the strips.

4. This method (created by Charis) enables the lifting of the baskets out of the muffin tins easily when they are baked.

 

Diagram B: Prepare the muffin tin with parchment paper

Bake the baskets

1. Now, carefully lift up the squares of pastry and gently place them into the muffin tin.

2. Press the pastry gently into the muffin cups.

3. Then follow the instructions on the pastry packet to bake the little baskets.

4. When the baking is completed, gently lift the corners of the strips of paper to lift up the pastry cases and place them on a plate ready for the next step.

Fill the basket with custard cream

1. For the custard cream filling, buy the custard powder from the supermarket or even make it yourself with recipes from the internet.

2. And after the baskets are baked and cooled down, just pour in the custard cream and then decorate with raspberries, chocolate sticks and icing sugar.

3. For a special touch, sprinkle fine icing sugar dust all over the plate with a sieve. This dessert is definitely ideal for a small dinner party.

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ZEBRA COOKIES (CHOCOLATE & VANILLA)

Chocolate Vanilla Zebra Cookies
I made these with two different kinds of stripes
File_000Chocolate Vanilla Zebra Cookies from The Great British Bake Off RecipeStripy chocolate and vanilla zebra cookies

A big advantage of being a child in the kitchen is everything seems like a playground. These cookies are a real endurance test which I wouldn’t pass. My daughter spent a good three to four hours on her feet before coming out triumphant from the kitchen. The original recipe taken from The Great British Bake Off cookbook, is very challenging but well worth the effort if you want to stretch your baking skills. These cookies resemble butter shortcakes and they melt in your mouth instantly.
Most people when they look at the steps below wouldn’t want to try this recipe out but we documented this to show you how tough it is to make these zebras.

zebra cookies for bakingzebra cookies for baking

 

zebra-cookie-loaf

Zebra chocolate vanilla cookie dough in a block ready to be sliced and baked

 

Inspired recipe from The Great British Bake Off Cookbook by Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood.

Recipe
45g Dark chocolate
125g Unsalted butter (softened to room temperature)
100g Castor sugar
1 Large free range egg
1/2 tsp Vanilla extract
250g Plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
Materials
Parchment paper

Method

1. Melt the dark chocolate. Put the dark chocolate in a heatproof dish set on a pan of steaming water (not boiling). Set aside.

2. In a mixing bowl, put the butter and sugar in. Mix with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.

3. Crack the egg into a separate bowl and put the vanilla extract in. Beat the egg with a fork until the vanilla is combined which won’t take long.

4. Now, back to the mixing bowl, gradually beat the egg into the butter mixture with the electric mixer until ingredients are combined.

5. Now, sift the flour, salt and baking powder into a bowl.

6. With a wooden spoon, gradually mix the butter mixture into the flour and work into a dough.

7. Divide the dough into half. One half is left aside. The other half, work the melted dark chocolate into the dough.

8. Now the process will get quite complicated to make the dough into stripy layers and you need to be patient.

9. Shape each of the dough into a rectangular block with your hands. Set aside seperately.

make zebra cookies

10. For each of the blocks of dough, place a piece of cling film underneath with a foot of excess all round. Roll the dough into 1/8 inch thickness into a rectangle of 20cm x 15cm

  • video coming soon!

 

making zebra cookie

Top View

11. Now, the technical challenge is to place one sheet of rolled out dough on top of the other. You can use a flat chop board to give a little aid in the process.

 

 

how to make zebra cookies

Side view

12. Once you have successfully built up the first two layers, you can cut the layers in 3 segments and build up the multi-layers.

making zebra cookies

Side view

13. Once you have built up enough layers and used up the dough, you can trim all the sides and end up with a block again.

Making zebra cookies

SIDE VIEW

14. Freeze for at least half an hour.

15. Take the dough out of the freezer and let it soften just a little so you can cut 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick cookies.

16. Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F) and 8 to 10 minutes, be very careful not to burn them if they are cut very thin.

17. When done, cool the cookies on a rack and then store them in an air-tight container. They remain good for about a week.

 

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Life’s a Beach Cupcakes

beach theme cupcakes
Little gems of the ocean (or should i say the oven)
beach theme cupcakeThe world is your oyster

 

star-fish-on-sand-cupcakeStarfish on a sandy beach

 

The world is your oysterthe world is your oyster

 

Octopus cupcakeA jellyfish cupcake

 

beach theme cupcakesLife’s a beach with marshmallow fondant
Original cupcake designs by Charis

 

Sorry, no recipes here. I just wanted to show off these amazing cupcakes. When my daughter said she wanted to make some cupcakes, I thought it was going to be just some cupcakes. But these… every bite sends you on a guilt trip! Not because I worry about the calories, I simply don’t want to destroy her beautiful creation.

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Lemon drizzle cake

moist-looking-lemon-drizzle
ADD A drizzle of sweetness to your life

-lemon-drizzle-cake

I don’t know what came over us but this lemon cake was twice the lemon cake you’d expect because it’s not only made with lemon zest, it also has lemon syrup poured all over for the glazing. Be prepared to develop dimples. This was originally a Raymond Blanc recipe (he’s one of UK’s most respected chefs) but we slightly modified it. We increased the ingredients from 5 lemons to 8 and twice the amount of rum (ahem). The resultant cake was very moist and very full of flavor. The recipe actually suggested using apricot jam and icing sugar for the glazing but for convenience we just made lemon syrup instead.

 

how to make lemon drizzle cake

 

Recipe
5 Eggs
300 grams (11 ounces) Caster sugar
140 ml (5 fluid ounces) Thick cream or double cream
8 Lemons
¾ Cup sugar for the lemon syrup
1 ½ Tablespoons dark rum
1 Pinch Salt
80 grams (3 ounces) Unsalted butted, melted
240 grams (8 ½ ounces) Plain flour
½ teaspoon Baking power

 

moist-looking-lemon-drizzle

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Lightly grease a baking tin. (9x9x2 in or 22.9 x 22.9 x 5.08 cm)

3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, cream, lemon zest, rum, salt and butter.

4. Mix the sifted flour and baking powder into a separate bowl then whisk it into the egg mixture until you have a smooth batter.

5. Pour the batter into the baking tin and bake in the oven for 50-60 minutes. The cake is cooked when a knife blade inserted into the middle comes out clean.

6. Remove the cake from the tin and allow to cool for 10 minutes.

 

how to finish the cake

1. Meanwhile, squeeze the lemons and with the juice add ¾ cup of sugar and warm up slightly in the microwave or a pan so the sugar would dissolve.

2. Make some holes in the cake with a cocktail stick.

3. Pour the lemon syrup over the cake.

4. You’re ready to eat in 5 minutes!