Coconut Macaroons

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Making these macaroons brings back bittersweet memories for me, mainly due to use of conny onny milk (condensed milk). Conny onny was one of my Nan’s favourite foods. She would eat it with a spoon straight out of the tin or have it on butties.

Unfortunately we lost my Nan just over a year ago. She had been poorly for quite a while with vascular dementia so in many ways we lost her a while ago. Dementia is such an insidious illness, not just for the sufferers but for family and friends too. My Nan was quite a character so to see her so diminished was very hard on us. I like to think wherever she is now that she is causing her usual mayhem!

I think of my Nan every day at 6 o’clock, our scheduled phone call time, whenever I use condensed milk or see a chocolate éclair. She once had me convinced that I was losing the plot. I thought I had repeatedly forgotten  to take my homemade chocolate eclairs out of the freezer. What I hadn’t realised is that Nan had been stealing them as soon as they defrosted!

She really was quite a woman!

Ingredients

45g Plain flour

Pinch of salt

225g desiccated coconut

170ml condensed milk

1tsp vanilla extract

rice paper

a little melted chocolate (optional)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C/ 160 C fan
  2. Line sheets with rice paper
  3. Mix all the remaining ingredients together to make a vey thick paste
  4. Using a dessert spoon or a small ice cream scoop place heaps of mixture onto the rice paper, leaving a little space between each.
  5. Bake for 15-20 minutes  or until golden brown.
  6. Allow to cool on the tray.
  7. Snap off the excess rice paper around each macaroon.
  8. Drizzle with melted chocolate. 
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Red Velvet and Cream Cheese Brownies

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I came across a version of this brownie many years ago and genuinely wasn’t sure what to make of it apart from the fact that I liked it. I’m not a lover of red velvet cakes as a rule but I do love cheesecake and am partial to the odd brownie. This recipe covers all of them. It always reminds me of a volcanic eruption to look at but it tastes divine!

Ingredients

6oz margarine

3oz dark chocolate, chopped

12oz caster sugar

3 free range eggs

1.5 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp red food colouring gel

10oz SR flour

05 tsp salt

12oz cream cheese (I got rid of any excess water but straining the cheese in a muslin cloth overnight)

4oz caster sugar

1 free range egg

1tsp vanilla extract.

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C /160C fan
  2. Line a traybake tin with baking parchment.
  3. Melt the butter and chocolate together then allow to cool slightly.
  4. Beat the eggs, sugar, food colouring and vanilla together
  5. Add the cooled chocolate
  6. Mix in the flour and salt. The mixture should be RED
  7. Pour into the prepared tin.
  8. Beat the cheese, egg, vanilla and sugar to form a custard.
  9. Pour over the brownie mixture then swirl together with a butter knife.
  10. Bake for 30-40 minutes.

 

 

Chocolate Hearts

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Ingredients

8 oz softened salted butter

5 oz caster sugar

1 egg yolk

2 tsp vanilla extract

9oz plain flour

1oz cocoa powder

4oz chocolate of your choice, melted

1.Preheat the oven to 180C / 160C fan

2.Beat the sugar, egg, vanilla and butter together until light and fluffy

3.Mix in the flour and cocoa to form a stiff paste

4. Wrap the dough in cling film or put in a freezer bag and chill for at least 30 minutes. It is better to split the dough into smaller batches to prevent you overworking the dough.

5.Roll the dough out to about 3mm or quarter of an inch thick. Cut out the cookies in your chosen shape. Work quickly to stop the dough warming up too much as this makes it difficult to work with.

6.Line a baking tray with parchment paper

7. Place the cookies on the baking tray. Make sure you leave enough space for the cookies to spread.

8. Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden brown.

9. Allow to cool on the tray for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

10. Coat the cookies in melted chocolate of your choice and decorate. I used freeze dried raspberries on mine.

Peanut butter and chocolate cupcakes

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It has been a long time since I’ve had a minute to write a new blog. It has been a tad chaotic here. I have gone into partnership with one of my friends, Leanne, who is also one of my sugarcraft students. We have opened our own Sugarcraft school! Everything happened really quickly! From making the decision, getting the funding and then literally building our kitchen and classroom from scratch!

It has been really hard work but I love it! I have space to work on my cakes and we can teach what we what, when we want!

This little recipe is a personal favourite of mine. As I’ve mentioned before I’m not a fan of cupcakes but this one I like. The peanut butter frosting is absolutely divine!

The combination of soft, rich chocolate sponge and the salty, sweet peanut buttercream is very reminiscent of Reese’s Peanut Buttercups. Naughty but nice!

Ingredients

  • Cupcakes
  • 110g butter
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs, free range
  • 150g self-raising flour
  • 75g plain flour
  • 50g good quality cocoa powder
  • 120ml milk
  • 1 tsp good quality vanilla extract
  • Peanut Butter Frosting
  • 150g icing sugar
  • 140g peanut butter (smooth is easier for piping)
  • 50g butter
  • 1 tsp good quality vanilla extract
  • a splash of milk
  1. Preheat oven to 180C/160C fan
  2. line a muffin tin with cupcake cases
  3. The cupcakes are made with the all in one method so shove everything in a bowl and mix together until you have a smooth batter.
  4. Use an ice-cream scoop to portion the mixture into the cupcake cakes
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
  6. Allow to cool completely before icing.
  7. To make the buttercream beat all the ingredients together and mix until lovely and smooth. You may need to add a touch more milk if the icing is a little on the stiff side.

Chocolate Chip Whoopie Pies

DSCF6069Like most Mums I think that the hardest thing that I have to deal with is seeing my son in pain. Ben is 16 now and suffers from Chronic Pain syndrome. He took the very brave decision to drop back an academic school year and repeat Year 10 due to the amount of time he missed from school last year.

I am so proud of my son because not only is he keeping up with his studies and doing his GCSE examination but he is managing to do this on a few hours sleep every night, very potent medication and varying levels of pain, from bearable to not being able to walk and screaming all night long! Most people don’t realise quite what Ben has to go through on a day-to-day basis.

We don’t have much spare money, I gave up a full-time teaching job to look after him and now make wedding and celebration cakes from home. Consequently if Ben wants a treat, a meal out or a new game for his X-box, he has to wait until I have sold a cake or two.

My way of treating Ben is to let him choose what baking he wants me to do. Usually it is chocolate chip cookies but this week he asked for whoopie pies. I can’t take credit for this recipe as I found it in the Hummingbird Bakery’s “Cake Days” recipe book. I did, however, switch their natural yoghurt and milk for buttermilk as I had some that needed using up.

Ingredients

  • 1 egg
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 150ml buttermilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 75g melted margarine
  • 275g plain flour
  • 0.75 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 0.25 tsp baking powder
  • 150g chocolate chips (I used a mixture of milk and dark)

Icing 

  • 170g butter
  • 2Tbs cocoa
  • 280g icing sugar
  • 220g vanilla marshmallow fluff

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 170C / 150C fan
  2. Line a baking tray with parchment paper
  3. Beat the egg and sugar together until pale and fluffy
  4. Slowly add the buttermilk, margarine and vanilla to the eggs
  5. Add the dry ingredients
  6. Stir in the chocolate chips
  7. Heap large spoonfuls of the mixture onto the baking tray, allowing plenty of room for the mixture to spread. (I used and ice cream scoop but I think it was too big as the pies were HUGE!)
  8. Bake for 10-13 min then cool on a rack.
  9. Beat the icing ingredients together then pop in the fridge to firm up a little.
  10. Use the icing to sandwich the pies together. I made 6 pies but I think 10 is a better number as mine really were massive!

Triple chocolate tiramisu

ImageMany, many years ago, whilst I was working for Liverpool University, I had the good fortune to work with a lovely lady called Mariana Catapano. Mariana was living in student accommodation whilst on sabbatical with us but unfortunately didn’t have a television in her room. As an avid football fan who never missed a match, this was a fate worse than death. Consequently she would often come to my house for her tea and to watch the footie. Her contribution to the meal was a homemade tiramisu.

Now. Mariana told me that this was her grandmother’s recipe and that truly authentic tiramisu does not contain alcohol. Hey, she is Italian so I’m not going to argue with her!

 

I have been making Mariana’s tiramisu for the past 20 years and have never had a complaint. Not everyone likes coffee flavoured desserts, however. I’m sure if I tried to give it to my sister she would think I was trying to poison her! As a consequence and because I have a friend coming for tea who is in need of a bit of cheering up (tiramisu actually means “pick you up”), I have had a play with the recipe and come up with this coffee free alternative.

Ingredients

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 egg whites, whisked to a stiff peak
  • 200 g caster sugar
  • 1 standard tub of mascarpone cheese
  • 300 ml hot chocolate or chocolate milkshake, warm
  • 1 pack of sponge fingers
  • 300g grated chocolate
  • 4 – 5 tbs cocoa

Method

  1. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until light and fluffy
  2. Beat in the mascarpone
  3. Fold the whisked egg whites into custard.
  4. Dip the sponge fingers into the hot chocolate and allow to soak up a little of the liquid then layer into a glass bowl.
  5. Pour over a layer of the custard
  6. Sift a little of the cocoa over the custard and then sprinkle over a layer of grated chocolate
  7. Repeat the layers until you have used up all the ingredients, making sure to finish on the cocoa and grated chocolate layer.
  8. Pop it in the fridge and chill for 3-4 hours or ideally overnight.

Obviously this recipe does contain raw eggs so should not be given to pregnant women, the elderly or infirm and the very young.

 

 

 

 

 

Rocky Road Cheesecake or Ben’s Good-Boy Pie

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Long time, no blog! Life, as usual, has taken over! This particular recipe is the result of having a particularly picky 15-year-old son. I don’t know if your kids are the same but Ben goes through phases of liking food then refusing to touch them! I get fed up of giving food away because Ben has gone off it. A whole chocolate orange fudge cake went to his best friend’s house last week! Needless to say, I am the best as far as Ben’s friends are concerned!

This recipe started life as simply rocky road but then I tinkered with it! I sort of deconstructed it and added cream cheese but shush, don’t tell Ben! If he thought it was cheesecake he wouldn’t eat it! Hence the name Ben’s Good-Boy pie! I told him I would only make it if he was a good little boy  (he is close to 6 foot and towers over me!) and didn’t give me any grief!

This is a very rich dessert but as a little treat after tea, I think it is fine!

Ingredients:

Method:

  1. Combine the crushed biscuits and melted butter then press tightly into an 8 inch loose bottomed Springform tin. Chill until firm.
  2. In a heavy bottomed saucepan melt the butter, chocolate and syrup together.
  3. Turn off the heat and stir in the cream cheese
  4. Pour over the prepared biscuit base.
  5. Top with mini marshmallows. I used a blowtorch to colour them slightly but it is equally nice without doing that.
  6. Place in the fridge and allow to set completely before removing from the tin and serving. Ideally leave the cake overnight.