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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Star Baker Cookies

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As I have mentioned before my sugarcraft ladies always have some form of edible delight waiting for them when they come to class. Heaven help me if I give them shop bought food! One of my ladies, Janice, has been with me for 4 years. She is the life and soul of the party, one of the kindest ladies I have ever met and the naughtiest laugh going! She is having a tough time of it at the moment so I thought I would make her my “Star Baker” tonight, complete with cookies!

Ingredients

8 oz softened butter

5 oz caster sugar

1 egg yolk

2 tsp vanilla extract

10oz plain flour

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 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. Dust with icing sugar or even cover with glace icing.

Chocolate Dense Cake

DSCF5256This may not be the prettiest of cakes but what it lacks in looks, it more than makes up for in taste. I’m not really a lover of chocolate cake, I much prefer lemon cake or carrot cake or better still a biscuit or 3! I make the exception, however, for this one. It is rich, sweet and deliciously dense! Yummy!

I made this cake to take to my sugarcraft class last night. I take them a cake or cookies every week to have with a cuppa whilst they work. Usually I have written the recipe up on this blog so when they ask for it I can simply say “Check out my blog”. I was in so much trouble last night when I confessed that I hadn’t actually written this up. So this one is for my sugarcraft ladies so that they can stop moaning at me!

It is not my recipe but one of Nigella Lawson‘s, the domestic goddess herself. Nigella is my inspiration when I’m after something scrummy and I have adapted and developed so many of her recipes over the years, I have lost count. This cake is simply divine. It is gorgeous cold or served warm straight from the oven with a dollop of ice-cream which is how my son had it last night. It is also really easy to double up so you can have one fresh and one for the freezer.

Ingredients:

225g butter

375g soft brown sugar (Nigella says muscavado but I find it a bit too treacle-like so used a mixture of that and soft brown)

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

100g dark chocolate melted

200g plain flour

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

250ml boiling water

 

Method:

  1. Grease and line a loaf tin.
  2. Preheat the oven to 190C/170C fan
  3. Cream the butter and sugar together until well mixed
  4. Beat in the eggs, chocolate and vanilla until mixed but not whisked.
  5. Fold in the flour and bicarbonate a spoonful at a time, alternating with the boiling water.
  6. This will result in a VERY wet batter
  7. Pour into the loaf tin
  8. Bake at 190C / 170C fan for 30 min.
  9. Reduce the temperature to 170C/ 150C fan and bake for a further 15 mins
  10. The cake will be squidgy in the middle when tested and will fall back in on itself on cooling. This what helps to make it so dense. It also gets better with time!

 

Heavenly Brownies

Now I’m not a religious person but, since it is Palm Sunday, I thought I would share with you my recipe for the most heavenly of brownies. They are crisp on the outside and gorgeously soft and chewy inside. Absolute chocolate heaven!

My son is an avid brownie fan and this is by far his favourite brownie recipe. Trust me, we have tried a LOT of them! I like this recipe because it is dead simple and very versatile. I often throw in cherries and walnuts but it is entirely up to you.

Ingredients:

190g butter

190g good quality dark chocolate

3 free range eggs, beaten

1.5 tsp vanilla extract

250g caster sugar

120g plain flour

0.5 tsp salt

(100g dried fruit or nuts if you fancy it)

Method:

  1. In a heatproof bowl melt together the chocolate and butter. I do this in my Kenwood Mixer metal bowl which means that nothing is lost on transfer and saves on washing up!
  2. Allow the mixture to cool a little then mix in the beaten eggs and vanilla extract. It is important that the chocolate mixture is not too hot before adding the eggs. You do not want to end up with a bowl of chocolate scrambled eggs! Yuck!
  3. Mix in the flour, sugar and salt until smooth. The salt is important as it stabilises the mixture and adds a depth of flavour to the chocolate. Stir in any fruit or nuts at this stage.
  4. Pour the mixture into a greased and lined 8 inch square tin. Bake in a preheated oven (180 degrees C) for 20-25 mins or until the top has dried out and is a speckled brown colour. Don’t bother doing the skewer test as the center will still be gooey.
  5. Allow to cool completely in the tin then cut into portions. I cut that cake into 9 pudding sized portions but you can easily get 16 snack sized pieces.

If you have a cake sale or a school fund-raiser, this recipe works really well when you double the mixture. For High School teachers it is a really quick and relatively cheap treat (bribe)  for Year 11 pupils.  I promised my class that I would make them brownies when everyone had handed their coursework in. You wouldn’t believe how quickly they completed their work!

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do!