See those daffodils, that’ll give you an idea of how long this post has been sat in my drafts folder. Why, you might ask, namely that I made these lovely caramel crispy squares, wrote down the recipe on a sticky-note and then promptly lost the note. I stumbled across the sticky-note again recently, so I’m posting this before I lose it again, and also because I might re-make them and it’s easier than trying to find my recipe book (which was the problem in the first place),
The story behind these goes that we put fruit and sweets out as snacks during our work-events and a bunch of the mini chocolate bars kept being left. I maintain this was because the labels all looked a bit similar and when you’re listening to someone talk, it might be a bit hard to root around and avoid the chocolate you don’t like. As they were starting to get a little battered about being moved from event to event, I took them home and decided to do something with them. Effectively this recipe uses Sainsburys’ own-brand versions of Mars Bars, but they’d work too, as I expect would other own-brand versions.
And to stick with the own-brand theme, I also used Sainsburys own-brand cornflakes, mainly because I don’t really eat cereal and I didn’t see the point of spending loads of money on flakes of corn that were going to be covered in buttery, caramel chocolate. I was planning on making them with Rice Crispies or something similar, but got swayed by the cornflakes.
Recipe: chocolate caramel cornflake bars (no bake)
A really simple no-bake dish to use up leftover chocolates.
Recipe type: Dessert
13 mini caramel and nougat chocolate bars (about 260g)
150g condensed milk
Melt down the chocolate bars slowly - you could do this in a microwave, but I prefer to rest a glass bowl over some gently boiling water and melt them more slowly
Once the bars have melted, add the condensed milk and butter and make sure everything is combined
Take the glass bowl off the saucepan - be careful, it'll be hot.
Add the cornflakes to the melted chocolate. You might want to do this in batches as it might be that you prefer your cornflakes squares to be stickier - alternatively you might want to add more if you think the melted chocolate can handle it.
Once the cornflakes are properly coated, transfer into a greaseproof-lined tray - I used a brownie tray, but a roasting tray would work too.
Spread the mixture out and pat everything down to make sure everything is nicely packed in.
Transfer to the fridge and leave to cool and set - I left mine overnight, but a few hours would probably do it.
Okay so I totally didn’t intend to post two recipes alongside each other, but when Jagermeister sent me a couple of bottles and challenged me to do something with them, I couldn’t help but agree. I totally thought about just blogging a recipe for Jagerbombs, because I thought it would be kind of funny for the two people in the world who have never had one. I mean, even my mum knows what a Jagerbomb is. Sure she had to ask her husband, but she knew. Frankly this just made me think I need to get my mum to try one of these next time we’re out, but I think she might write me out of the will (jokes, I’m pretty sure I managed that a while ago).
So then I went to a more sensible plan – actually I went with two; a cake and a cocktail. I’ve had a bit of a thing about baking with alcohol for a while and I’d been itching to try out the Jagermeister and honey bundt cake from The Boozy Baker cook book for a while. This recipe is vaguely inspired by this, but I think I’m actually incapable of following a recipe and I realised one of the bottles was for Jagermeister Spice, which is a remixed version of the same collection of herbs and spices as the traditional Jager. But it tastes sweeter to me, less medicinal than standard stuff and frankly if it wasn’t winter I’d have a go at making ice cream with it. So instead I went to my favourite thing to make; cake – rather a Half Cut Cake (because that’s what I like to call boozy baking). As the Jagermeister Spice has enhanced notes of cinnamon, vanilla and saffron, I wanted to create something comforting but a bit wintery, as a nod to its big sister’s usual ice cold serve. The two types of flour give it a little bit of a dense texture and the added ginger gives it a bit of a kick, but not too fiery.
Pre-heat the oven to 180c, grease a baking tin or two
Cream in the butter and sugar
Add the eggs and Jagermeister and give it a good stir
Add the ginger and sieve in the two types of flour
Make sure everything is well mixed and then pour into your baking tin/s
Cook for around 50mins if in one tin, or about 20mins in two tins - you can tell they're done if they look golden brown and you insert a cocktail stick or fork and it comes out clean
Leave the cake to cool
Once the cake is cooled mix together the icing ingredients (minus the sprinkles)
If you're sensible (unlike me) and cooked two cakes rather than one, use about two - three heaped tablespoons and spread evenly on one cake and use the other to create a sandwich. If not, slice the cake in half and do the same sort of thing.
Add the rest of the icing on the top, smooth down and use lots of sprinkles to decorate.
If I were more witty I’d have given the cake a clever pun name, but instead I left that to the boys of Island Bar when I challenged them to come up with a simple cocktail to make at home; enter the Jager-Mega-Drive. The grenadine and sugar rim gives the red button colour and the rest of the ingredients give it a sort of faded black. If you enjoy this sort of geekery, I’d highly recommend checking out Island’s monthly Geek Quiz, or just heading down on a weekday for some cocktails and video games. Thanks to Simon for coming up with this recipe.
40ml Jagermeister Spice
20ml black Sambuca
25ml fresh lemon juice
lemonade to top up
small amount of grenadine and sugar for the garnish
To make: Pour the grenadine onto a flat surface or a plate and coat the rim of the glass you’re serving the drink in it, then dip it in sugar and leave to set whilst you make the drink. Muddle the blackberries in a glass (squish them, use a rolling pin if you don’t have a muddler), add the Jagermeister, sambuca, lemon juice and a bunch of ice and give it a good shake (use a jam jar if you don’t have a cocktail shaker), strain into a glass with fresh ice and top up with lemonade. And there you have it…the Jager-Mega-drive.
Disclosure: Jagermeister sent me a couple of bottles as part of a blogger challenge and asked me to have a go at doing something a bit different – hence no jagerbombs. I wasn’t obliged to say anything nice blah blah blah…
If the local press are to be believed there was supposed to be a dusting of snow this morning, although sadly I didn’t see any. Any which way, I thought it was a good excuse to show off this mincemeat, pear and honey tart, because the icing sugar dust is probably as close as I’ll get to snow today.
The recipe is actually Brian Turner’s Mincemeat, Pear & Honey Tart, although I made a few modifications. Firstly, due to the lack of sensible sized baking tray and not being very good at cutting things out (I blame being left handed but really I’m just not very good at making pretty things), I made mine rectangular instead of circular. I also didn’t bother with the egg and egg yolk wash on the borders and just went for the one egg, which I don’t think made much difference, personally.
I really liked this recipe for a couple of reasons; firstly it was really tasty and secondly it meant I could use up mincemeat. And by use up I mean find a legitimate way of eating mincemeat post-Christmas because the supplies of mince pies seem to dry up and this is a winter recipe…look I even added wintery decorations to make it so! Although I’m also thinking it could be time to break out Wizzard to Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day by having a go at making individual versions because I think it would be fun and then I won’t feel so bad if I eat a couple, rather than half the tart.
You can find the recipe over on the Stoves website, and for once I’ve not modified it enough to warrant re-posting my version here. Happy New Year mincemeat eating folks!
Disclosure: Stoves gave me a supermarket voucher to buy my ingredients to recreate this recipe, but I wasn’t obliged to say anything nice. I may have bought a couple of jars of mincemeat ‘just in case’.
When I started playing around with the idea of doing recipes I was determined that it wasn’t just going to be full of cake photos. No offence to all those bloggers whose sites are populated by cake, but most of the time I’m pretty incapable of making my cakes look as good as they taste. However, it’s National Cupcake Week so I wanted to share a cake recipe…mainly because the photos turned out alright, but also because it’s simple and kinda classy – in that it’s inspired by a cocktail.
The French Martini sounds fancier than it is, in reality it’s a pretty simple drink; three ingredients, shaken with ice and strained into a martini glass. It was designed in the 1980s, during the revival of cocktail culture – I highly recommend watching the gloriously trashy movie Cocktail starring Tom Cruise for some historical background. Be warned there’s a hell of a lot of flaring bottles and other such nonsense, but don’t let that put you off.
Anyway French Martini cupcakes. A while ago, I went through a phase of baking a load of alcohol-inspired cakes…because everyone needs a hobby right? The French Martini’s three ingredients of vodka, raspberry liqueur and pineapple juice were pretty simple to recreate into a cake because you get rid of one of the ingredients straight away. Light spirits are tricky to bake with and tend to be overtaken by other flavours, so basic sponge cake takes its place. Pineapple jam filling is best; pineapple sponge would be too much and lets try and keep our cake balanced, okay team? Finally raspberry liqueur is added to the buttercream icing to give it a pinkish colour, like the drink. And sprinkles, because this drink was created during the glitzy 80s. And there you have it, French Martini cupcakes.
Inspired by the 1980s cocktail, this is the recipe for a batch of French Martini cupcakes
Recipe type: Dessert
110g butter or margarine
110g caster sugar
2 eggs, free-range
1 tsp vanilla extract
110g self-raising flour
1-2 tbsp milk
140g butter, softened
280g icing sugar
Sprinkles to decorate
Pre-heat the oven to to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and line a muffin tin with pink paper cases
Cream together the butter/margarine and sugar in a large bowl.
Lightly beat the eggs together in a smaller bowl and then mix into the butter and sugar mixture until it's all combined.
Add in the vanilla extract and milk.
Sieve the flour and fold into the batter.
Divide into the cupcake cakes and bake in the oven until the tops are springy and you can insert a fork and it comes out clean.
Leave to cool.
Once the cakes are cool,cut a small hole about the size of a 5p piece in the centre of the top of the cake - be careful not to go through the entire cake, and keep the top layer of the hole so you can reseal the cake (so it works like a lid).
Spoon in a small amount of pineapple jam into the hole and add the cake-lid back on.
Make the icing by combining the butter and icing sugar and slowly adding a little raspberry liqueur. Be careful not to add too much as you don't want it getting sticky or not being able to stay in shape.
Fill an icing bag and pipe the icing onto the cupcakes or spoon on.
So Travelodge were like hey, we want you to help us tempt people to Birmingham for a cheeky visit by telling them about the food. And as part of their #TravelodgeFoodies they came up with this list of five Birmingham delicacies. Sure balti, or curry in general, is definitely a Birmingham delicacy, but I was pretty miffed that chocolate had been missed off the list – being we’re the home of Cadbury and all (which I guess is more of an ingredient than a dish, but still).
The whole plan was to tell people about the food by showing them an amazing recipe of something classically Birmingham. But one of my favourite things about Birmingham is the people – we’re a pretty unconventional bunch. With massive celebrations for St Patrick’s Day, Eid, Jamaican Independence and enough festivals in winter that one year the council created the ill-fated Winterval (they didn’t cancel Christmas, calm down), it’s a city where anything goes – as long as you’re good humoured about it. So rather than cook up something sensible like a balti or a chocolate brownie, I thought what the hell I’ll make something interesting (like the architecture in the city centre).
And so I bring you chocolate curry cake. I know, this sounds a bit weird…but I’ve tested it out on some friends (one of which I bumped into on Colmore Row and demanded he eat cake – sorry George). Ginger and cinnamon are fairly typical flavours in cake and they come across in this recipe, but the extra curry spices give it an extra depth to the flavour. I used a supermarket medium curry powder because faffing around with minimal amounts of cinnamon, garam masala and the like would’ve been a nightmare; medium had a good flavour without there being any heat (a bit like our current summer). To be honest I was tempted to leave these without icing, but thought a slight citrus would really bring it all together, so added a drizzle of glacé icing made with lime juice, which definitely worked. I thought about a buttercream icing (which is why they’re a bit flatter in the photo) but I think this would’ve overpowered the flavour.
I love this recipe, although I’m never really sure what to call them; white chocolate brownies sounds a bit silly, but blondies seem to require explanation. Either way if you’re a fan of white chocolate these are delicious. Below is the basic recipe for the blondies, but feel free to experiment; I’ve made this recipe adding 100g of cranberries or with a delicious Spanish liqueur, Licor 43.
300g quality white chocolate, chopped
3 medium eggs
150g caster sugar
½ tsp pure vanilla extract
200g plain flour, sifted
Heat the oven to 180°C or equivalent. Line a baking tin (18x28cm size is recommended) with greaseproof paper – trust me, this is a lot less messy than greasing a tin and trying to get the baked goods out later.
Boil some water and then allow it to simmer. In a bowl over the pan of simmering water, melt butter with 150g of the chocolate. Once it’s all melted leave it to cool (trust me) and then give it a good, quick stir to combine it.
In a bowl, beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla until combined and the mixture looks pale.
Beat in the melted white chocolate mixture, making sure everything comes together.
Chop the remaining 150g into chunks (I tend to attack mine with a rolling pin) and sprinkle the chunks into the mixture. If you’re adding fruit (cranberries work well), add this now.
Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the top is firm but the insiders are still a bit soft.
I recently(ish) managed to wander along to a Ladies Who Code event and being a woman who doesn’t really code but wants to learn I didn’t want to turn up empty handed. So I made cake. Jessica, the organiser, was on the lookout for gluten-free cakes for the event so I thought I’d have a go at making a flourless chocolate cake, mainly because I understand how much of a nightmare it is to have a food intolerance.
I checked out a couple of recipes and in the end did what I always do, make up my own. I find some chocolate cake a little cloying, particularly when very dark chocolate is used so I wanted to add another flavour. I’m a big fan of adding alcohol to cake, and chocolate-orange is such a classic flavour that gluten-free Cointreau seemed like a perfect choice!
Chocolate and Cointreau Cake
150g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids are ideal)
150g butter or margarine
6 eggs, separated
250g caster sugar
120g ground almonds
4tsp cocoa powder
Using a bowl of water which sits over a saucepan of boiling water, melt the butter and chocolate together.
Whilst the butter and chocolate are melting, separate the eggs yolks from the whites – you’ll need both, but keep them apart.
To the egg yolks add the Cointreau and sugar, and mix. It’ll look a little lumpy at this point but it’ll be fine. Add the ground almonds and cocoa together and then add in with the rest of the dry ingredients and mix together.
Once the butter and chocolate have melted and combined together, add them to the yolk/sugar/almond mixture and beat well so everything is nice and combined.
In a separate bowl beat the egg whites until they triple in volume and are nice and aerated – use an electric whisk. This will prevent your cakes from getting too dense, and your arms from hurting too much.
Carefully fold in the egg whites to the rest of the mixture, careful not to lose too much of the air you’ve just introduced.
Add to your individual cake or muffins tray. I made muffins with mine as they were for an event. Fill up to about 3/4 of the tray which is more than usual, but they’ll puff up and then sink a little, so this ends up making a good size. The recipes roughly suggested this would make 12 but they made way more, so be prepared for that.
Cook until you can poke them with a toothpick and it comes out clean. About 40-45mins for a big cake or 15-20mins for muffins (although to be honest I use the toothpick test more than time).
Once cooked either serve warm with berries and ice cream or leave to cool and enjoy at room temperature.
Considering how little a fan of chocolate cake I am, these were really nice – and the people at the event seemed to think so too! As with the perks of being a cook, I tried them when they were still warm and I think this recipe would be just as good as an warm dessert with fresh berries and cream, although they were still delicious as muffins.
Definitely a recipe to go in the folder for a repeat!