Category: Dessert

Crisp autumn pie

I realise it’s been a while since I did something quite fancy, and while people seem to prefer to make the easy ones, there’s definitely some love for the posts with lots of steps too.

With the return of my favourite season (I’m really fair-skinned, so shoot me if I don’t adore summer like the rest of you) and a little dinner party this weekend, I figured the only way to round off my housemate’s uh-mazing main course was with a little homage to the apple.

Without further ado here’s a recipe for a rather yummy apple and frangipane tart.


You will need

For the pastry:

300g/10.5 oz plain flour

170g/6 oz unsalted butter

30g/1 oz golden caster sugar

50ml/1.75 fl oz milk

1 egg yolk

A pinch of salt

For the frangipane:

70g/2.5 oz ground almonds

60g/2 oz unsalted butter

50g/1.75 oz golden caster sugar

40g/1.5 oz plain flour

1 egg

1-2 tsp almond extract (optional, but apple will likely overpower the almond a bit)

For the apple filling:

3 bramley cooking apples

100g/3.5 oz golden caster sugar

10g/0.5 oz unsalted butter

50ml/1.75 oz water

2-3 tbsp clear honey

For the topping:

4-5 braeburn apples (probably any eating apples would work)

2-3 tbsp apricot jam (for the glaze)

(My dish was 25cm and for quiches/pies, but there would be enough pastry and filling to do a slightly larger, shallower tart, perhaps up to 29cm or so).


Step one

Start by making the sweet shortcrust pastry.

First cube the butter and pop that into the plain flour. Using your fingers, rub the butter and flour together to get a crumb-like texture.

The colder your butter the better and the smaller the crumbs you will be able to get. My house is waaaaaaarm, so as you can see, mine was a tad lumpy at this stage.

If you have a food processor I am led to believe you can do this bit in that very quickly and easily. But we can’t all be posh like you so (clean) fingers are just fine too.


Step two

Stir in the caster sugar.


Step three

Make a well in the middle for the milk and egg yolk. Fairly sure you can guess what’s next…put yolk and milk in said well.

Bring the mixture together with your hands. It may be a bit crumbly so you can tip it onto a worktop and knead it together slightly to combine, but be careful not to over work it.

Wrap it in clingfilm and put it in the fridge for at least an hour.


Step four

Frangipane making time. Using an electric whisk (or a wooden spoon and some strong arms) beat together the butter and sugar until smooth and fluffy.


Step five

Add the egg and beat again with the whisk.

Stir in the almonds, almond extract and the flour.

Voila. Set aside.


Step six

Prepare the stewed apple filling. Being by peeling and chopping the three bramley apples. If you have a bit of lemon juice handy a quick squeeze will keep the chopped ones pale while you see to the rest.


Step seven

Put the chopped apples in a saucepan with the butter, honey, water and sugar. Bring to a medium-low heat and stir occasionally until the apples are mostly broken down. You want a pulp really (an appetising thought, I know).


Step eight

Remove the pastry from the fridge (providing an hour has passed). Place onto a lightly floured surface (you don’t want to add much more flour to the mix if you can help it).

Roll the pastry out as evenly as you can, until your chosen dish can sit in the middle with an inch or two on all sides. You don’t really want your pastry to be thicker than 5mm.


Step nine

Transfer your pastry by rolling it at least half of it up onto your rolling pin and unrolling it over the top of your dish.

I then needed to lift the edges back up and place them back in to tease them better into the corners. Do this gently so as not to tear it. Having said that, I was a bit heavy handed and tears can be fixed quit easily by sticking a bit of excess pastry on top.


Step ten

Rip a bit of pastry off the overlap and use it to press the crust further into the crevices.

Use a fork to pierce the base of the pie, this will help the pastry stay flat in the oven.

Pop him back in the fridge for another 20-30 minutes.


Step eleven

While the pastry is chilling again, peel and slice the braeburns/eating apples. You need to do this carefully as it will be the making or breaking of how your pie looks (no pressure). Try to peel nice and evenly and cut the apples as thinly as you can.

Have a large tupperware filled with cold water nearby to put your cut slices into, which will stop them from browning, again, if you have any lemon juice a few drops wouldn’t go amiss but not essential.

Pre-heat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4/350F


Step eleven

Remove the pie from the fridge and trim some of the excess pastry off the sides but still leave an overlap.

Place some baking paper in the pie and fill with baking beans. If you don’t have any then rice works too, and most dried lentils/pulses really.

Place on a baking tray and bake for 15 minutes.


Step twelve

Using a grater remove the excess pastry at this stage. Doing it this way helps to avoid your pastry shrinking in the oven.


Step thirteen


First spoon in the frangipane and spread out, followed by the stewed apple puree mixture.

Finally add your eating apples. Start with the outside and work inwards. Make sure your apples overlap each other quite a bit; the cooking process reduces the water so they will shrink and flatten out.

Bake for another hour on 180C/350F/gas mark 4. I advise checking in at regular intervals after 30 minutes as every oven is different.


Step fourteen

Pop a few tablespoons of apricot jam in the microwave for 10-20 seconds (keep your eye on it as it’s sugary and will heat up quickly). Brush over the surface of the tart, being careful not to move the apples around, spoiling your lovely design.




Step fifteen

Get a scoop of vanilla ice-cream on that guy.

You can reheat your pie in the oven or individual slices in the microwave if you aren’t eating it straight away.

Until next time. x

Flat as a pancake

Sorry, what’s that? IT’S PANCAKE DAY TOMORROW? Or maybe if you read this on a Tuesday it’s pancake day today. Or maybe if you’re reading this in a few months time pancake day is nowhere nearby, and if that’s the case there’s nothing stopping you from making pancakes anyway. Especially when they taste THIS good.

I don’t think there can ever be enough pancakes, so I bring you not one, not two, but three recipes this week. And with three recipes comes three gifs. I know, I spoil you.

My fellow Europeans will have to excuse me for edging towards the North American style of pancake (you can add more flavours this way, but I assure you I’m still a die hard fan of our traditional flat friends). Those of you across the pond will also have to excuse me for not adding sugar and melted butter and all that nonsense to the mix.

These are a hybrid, somewhere half way between. Maybe this is what happens in Iceland or Greenland, who knows?

Enough ramble. LET’S. GET. FLIPPING.

Who am I kidding? I’m far too anxious to flip them.


You will need

Apple, maple and bacon pancakes

1 cup Plain flour

1 cup Full fat milk

1 Apple

1 Egg

1 tsp Baking powder

Bacon and maple syrup to serve (adjust to your own preference)

White chocolate and raspberry pancakes

1 cup Plain flour

1 cup Full fat milk

1 cup Raspberries

1 Egg

1 tsp Baking powder

100g/3.5 oz White chocolate

50g/1.5 oz Dark chocolate to serve

Banana and blueberry buttermilk almond pancakes

1 cup Plain flour

1 tub Buttermilk (284ml)

1 Egg

1 tsp Baking powder

1/2 tsp Almond extract

2 Bananas

1/2 cup Blueberries

More blueberries, some natural yoghurt and honey to serve

NB: The process is the same for all three recipes, however, the banana ones use buttermilk instead of regular milk. This makes a much thicker, goopier mixture.

All the recipes make 6-8 pancakes depending on their size.


Apple, maple and bacon pancakes


Step one

Whisk together the flour and baking powder and make a well in the middle for the egg.

The way to make smooth pancakes is to whisk little circles to gradually include the flour. Slowly add the milk a third at a time and continue making circles until all the flour is mixed in.


Step two

Grate the apple until you get to the core and add to the pancake batter.


Step three

Using a tablespoon or so of vegetable oil, fry the pancakes until you start to see lots of little bubbles on the surface.


Step four

If you’re wanting bacon with this (and unless you’re a vegetarian, you are wanting bacon) then you’ll want to have that grilling or frying off at the same time.



Right. One down, two to go.


White chocolate and raspberry pancakes


Step one

Refer to step one of apple, maple and bacon recipe.


Step two

Chop the white chocolate into smallish chunks.

Step three

Stir the raspberries and chocolate into the batter. I squashed a few of them with the back of the spoon.


Step four

Cook em off.

You will find this mix a little runnier than the last one from a combo of the raspberry juice and the melting white chocolate.

Step five

Put the dark chocolate in a small bowl in the microwave and melt gradually, 20-30 seconds at a time.



Step six

Stack them, cover in dark chocolate, enjoy.


Banana and blueberry buttermilk almond pancakes

Step one

Repeat the usual step one, you’re a pro by now. This time the buttermilk rather than the milk will make a thicker texture. Don’t forget to include the almond extract.


Step two

Spoon a pancake into the pan and place slices of banana and some blueberries onto the surface. Push them down a little so they don’t fall out when you flip them.



Step three

Pour some honey and natural yoghurt on top.

Eat until you can’t move.

It’d be roulade not to…

I promise next week will be more diet friendly. Well, actually I don’t. I really like food, and the sweeter the better as far as I’m concerned.

Last week we had some buddies round for a sleepover and I couldn’t resist making a naughty pud. This salted caramel chocolate mousse filled roulade is the perfect edition to a girls’ night in, or a dinner party, or breakfast.

Buckle up, it’s not a speedy bake, but it’s worth it.


You will need

For the sponge:

130g/4.5 oz Caster sugar

100g/3.5 oz Plain flour

4 Eggs

35g/1.5 oz Cocoa powder

For the chocolate mousse:

200g/7 oz Dark chocolate

3 Eggs

40g/1.5 oz Caster sugar (golden if you have it)

90ml/3 fl oz Water

For the salted caramel frosting:

300g/10.5 oz Icing sugar

250g/9 oz Butter

80g/3 oz Soft brown sugar

100ml/3.5 fl oz Double cream

2 tbsp Golden syrup

2 tsp Salt


Step one

Sift together the cocoa powder and flour. Usually I’m not one of life’s sifters, but for this one you’ll want to; you don’t want to knock out all the air trying to get the lumps out of the flour.


Step two

Whisk the four eggs until they are pale and shiny and so that the tracks of the whisk stay for a few seconds before sinking back into the main mixture.

Step three

Gently fold the flour and cocoa powder mix in two halves. Do this with a metal spoon and imagine you are stirring a bowl of baby kittens. Softly.

Ideally I guess it should all be one colour, but mine was still a little marbled and it didn’t seem to impact the bake.


Step four

Slowly pour batter evenly across a lined tin. Mine’s not actually a swiss roll tin, it’s a bit bigger. Try not to knock any air out.


Step five

Tilt the tin to distribute the sponge mix as evenly as possible and get it right into the corners. You want to avoid spreading it with anything but you do need it to be as flat as possible on the surface. There’s no fat in this recipe to melt down and level everything off.

p.s. the GIF makes it look quicker than it is, be patient.

Step six

Bake in a preheated oven on 220C/ gas mark 7/ 450F for 10 minutes.


Step seven

While the sponge is in the oven, dust a sheet of greaseproof paper with icing sugar.

Step eight

As soon as it’s finished cooking turn the sponge out onto the paper.

Cut a small groove about 1cm in from the edge to start the roll. Place another sheet of greaseproof on top and roll the cake up. Leave it to one side to cool.



Step nine

Move onto the mousse. In fact, probably do the mousse first, it needs a while to chill.

Separate the three eggs into two bowls and finely chop the chocolate.


Step ten

Place the chocolate and 90ml water in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water until melted.

Allow to cool for 10 minutes and then stir in the egg yolks. The mixture will become thicker and should be glossy.


Step eleven

Whisk the egg whites into stiff peaks, add the caster sugar and whisk again until combined. You should be able to turn the bowl upside-down without it all falling out.


Step twelve

Place a spoonful of egg white into the chocolate and stir quickly to loosen the chocolate mix. Then add the rest and gently fold in with a metal spoon.

Put in the fridge for an hour or two, the longer the better really.


Step thirteen

Make the salted caramel for the buttercream by melting together 100g of the butter, the brown sugar, golden syrup and salt. Do this slowly and then bring the heat up to a simmer.

Simmer for 10 minutes. Stir regularly so that it doesn’t catch and burn. Leave to cool down for about half an hour or so.

If you think you’ve seen this before, you have, this is about the 5th time I’ve used this salted caramel recipe.


Step fourteen

Once the caramel has cooled down a bit, stir in the 100ml of cream. Set to one side and make the buttercream.

Step fifteen

With an electric whisk beat together the rest of the butter and the icing sugar. Cover with a tea towel to begin with, or you will wind up looking like a cloud.

Step sixteen

Add the salted caramel to the buttercream and whisk. Voila. Place in fridge for at least 15 minutes until cooled completely.


Step seventeen

Once the chocolate mousse is set get ready to assemble.

Unroll the sponge and spread a layer of caramel over the surface. I didn’t use all the buttercream so go with what feels right. I used the rest of it up on some cupcakes. Apparently I want my housemates to be obese.

If you’re wondering why mine looks darker than yours it’s because I used dark soft brown sugar and cooked it for too long.


Step eighteen

Spread the mousse over, try to keep air in it if you want, but you’ll abandon all hope fairly soon.


Step nineteen

Using the greaseproof paper roll the roulade up. Now. I probably didn’t get my first bit tight enough, but regardless, this bit ain’t pretty. Just do it, put it on a chopping board/tray put it back in the fridge and don’t think about it.

Seriously. The mousse will splurge a lot a bit. Pretend it never happened.

Step twenty

After about an hour or so in the fridge the mousse will have firmed up again. You can take it out, wipe away any excess filling and dust some more icing sugar over it.


Yeah. Enjoy that my friend.

A bit of bread and butter

Hi there. Welcome back.

This week a cheap and cheerful bake was on the cards for everyone out there cutting costs this January. The perfect pudding to blast away those winter blues. I apologise in advance for laughing in the face of all your 2015 diets, but if you’re going to break them, this is a great way to do so.

This recipe is ideal for people who doubt their skills in the kitchen, I’ll be seriously impressed if you managed to mess this one up. Send me photos if you do.


You will need

For the pudding:

500ml/17 fl oz Double cream

100ml/3.5 fl oz Condensed milk

2 Eggs

Vanilla pod/2 tsp Vanilla extract

100g/3.5 oz Dark/Milk chocolate

50g/2 oz Soft brown sugar

6 – 8 Slices white bread (let’s be honest, you will need to get a loaf anyway, and I wasn’t counting properly)

3 Bananas

Butter for spreading

Ramekins if you’re feeling a bit posh.

For the salted caramel:

100g/3.5 oz Salted butter

80g/3 oz Soft brown sugar

100ml/3.5 fl oz Double cream

2 tbsp Golden syrup

2 tsp Salt

(Makes 6)


Step one

Whisk together the cream, condensed milk, vanilla and eggs. Set aside, and try not to think about how much cream that was.


Step two

Butter the bread slices generously. I just used regular spreadable butter for this, but if you’re a purest you could buy unsalted.

Using a cutter that’s the same diameter as your ramekins, cut circles out of the bread. Chop the offcuts into small pieces and leave to one side.


Step three

Slice the banana into thin pieces and chop the chocolate into small chunks (as if I haven’t said it enough – a bread knife is the best way to do this).



Step four


Butter the ramekins and layer up the puddings. Bread, banana, chocolate, sugar, repeat. Finish the last layer with bread using the offcuts and sprinkle some caster sugar on top, this will make a lovely crisp topping.

Step five

Once all the ramekins are layered up, pour the custard mixture on top, try to fill them evenly.

Leave to sit for 20 minutes to let the custard soak into the bread.

Step six

Bake in a pre-heated oven for 35 minutes on 180C/350F/gas mark 4.


Step seven

While you are baking the puddings, place all the ingredients for the salted caramel into a saucepan (minus the cream).

Heat gently until melted and then bring to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes. Stir regularly so that it doesn’t catch and burn. Leave to cool for about half an hour.


Step eight

Once cooled, stir in the 100ml double cream.



Not the prettiest things but they aren’t too shabby to eat. Bon apetit!

Seeing red

Right. I need to precursor this post with the fact I did not copy the Great British Bake Off, I promise! It just so happened that the mini cakes I had planned for my little afternoon tea series fell on the same week as the Bake Off did them. If anything, the BBC stole my idea.

Regardless of whether or not you believe me you should definitely try your hand at these little guys. We have a lot to thank North America for when it comes to the invention of red velvet. That is, provided you look the other way when adding the food colouring. There’s a whole lot of that…


You will need

For the cake:

150g/5 oz Butter (I use Stork margarine, and I don’t even feel guilty)

230g/8 oz Plain flour

230g/8 oz Caster sugar

170ml/5.5 fl oz Buttermilk

2 eggs

25g/1 oz Cocoa powder

1 bottle (38ml) Red food colouring (yup. that’s right. all of it)

1/2 tbsp Cider vinegar

1 tsp Bicarbonate of soda

For the icing:

100g/3.5 oz Butter (at room temperature)

150g/5.5 oz Cream cheese

200g/7 oz Icing sugar

1 or 2 tsp Vanilla extract

(Makes 15)

red-velvet-mini-cake-2Step one

Combine the buttermilk, cocoa powder and the bottle *covers eyes* of red colouring in a bowl and set to one side.

red-velvet-mini-cake-3Step two

Beat together the butter and sugar. As I said in the ingredients list, and probably will say countless more times, I use Stork marge in all my cakes. As well as being cheaper, you don’t have to wait for it to come to room temperature, and it’s easy to use straight from the fridge. I’m convinced it makes fluffier lovelier cakes too!

red-velvet-mini-cake-4Step two

Add the eggs, vinegar and bicarbonate of soda and beat again until well combined. I always advise an electric whisk for this, as it keeps the air in the cake.

red-velvet-mini-cake-5Step three

Add the buttermilk mixture and the flour in stages (halves or thirds) until you have a bowl full of red batter.

red-velvet-mini-cake-6Step four

Preheat the oven to gas mark 3/170C/325F.

Spread mixture evenly into two greased and lined tray bake tins.

Place on the middle shelf of the oven and cook for 30-40 minutes. The mixture should spring back a bit when touched.

red-velvet-mini-cake-7Step five

Whisk together the icing sugar, butter, cream cheese and vanilla extract. You’d do well to cover the bowl with a tea towel if using an electric whisk…otherwise prepare for a cloud of sweet dust and a coughing fit. Not hygenic.

red-velvet-mini-cake-8Step six

Once the cake has cooled completely use a round cutter to cut as many circles as you can. I used a 1 and 3/4″ cutter and made 30 discs, so those of you with a basic maths ability will know that’s 15 mini cakes.

Although the buttercream keeps these cakes nice and moist, it’s still best not to cut them out days in advance, and be sure to keep them in an airtight tub.

red-velvet-mini-cake-9Step six

Using a piping bag and a round nozzle fill and ice the little cakes. Point the bag straight down and squeeze, the icing will spread out from the middle. I used left over crumbs to decorate as I just love the ‘redness’ of it all, but feel free to use your imagination!

I made a GIF!

Except you have to click on it to make it work. I don’t know why. I’m too proud of myself to find out.



red-velvet-mini-cake-10Step seven

Add proudly to your afternoon tea repertoire.

p.s. why not turn your off cuts and any left over icing into cake pops? I know. I’m a genius.

(This one is for you Bonny, in your pursuit of the reddest velvets).

Rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb

Summer for many a gardener means plucking berries from their carefully loved and tended to allotments. Now, in recent years Ma has joined the grow-your-own trend with considerable zeal. To be quite honest this surprised us all immensely, as besides the single hardiest house plant you have ever known (surviving some very aggressive re-potting exercises), everything green that has entered the house since I can remember has wilted before our eyes. It’s a curse. There are no green fingers under this roof.

Fortunately, along with Mother’s rather optimistic plan to convert a section of the garden into a fruit and veg patch, came Ed; one of her colleagues complete with an allotment and a willingness to provide some plants he had given the best possible start in life.

Against all the odds (and I honestly cannot overstate said odds), fruit and vegetables began to grow! This year I decided to combine my love of baking and Mum’s little crop to give you a delicious rhubarb and honey cake recipe.

Don’t turn your nose up until you’ve tried it; I’m a chocolate girl through and through but even I have been back to the kitchen for a second slice of this chap.

First though, I think it’s only fair to offer a little round of applause to the grower for these beauties. Well done Mum, I wish I could say I always believed in you, A*.



You will need

For the cake

250g/9 oz Caster sugar

250g/9oz Self raising flour

200ml Buttermilk

50g/2 oz Butter

2 Large eggs

1tsp Baking powder

350g/12 oz Rhubarb

For the icing

350g/12 oz Icing sugar

150g/5 oz Softened butter

150g/5 oz Honey

50ml Buttermilk

1-2tsp Vanilla Extract


Step one

Combine the buttermilk, eggs and butter.

Don’t worry if it’s a bit ‘curdy’ at this stage, if the butter isn’t super soft that will happen, but it’s not an issue, honest!


Step two

Mix together the sugar, baking powder and flour in a separate bowl. Form a well in the middle.

Step three

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir until smooth. This cake mix is a little more batter-like than your average because of the buttermilk, so if you’re used to something a bit less sloppy, don’t worry.


Step four

Chop up the rhubarb into slices approx 1cm thick. Get rid of any leaves and the weird husk type bits on the bottom if it’s home grown; I also got rid of a few stringy bits, but you don’t need to peel it.

Whether or not your rhubarb is forced (grown out of season) or main crop like Ma’s you don’t need to boil it or add any extra sugar when baking it into a cake like this. The sweetness of the honey and the rest of the sugar in the sponge off-sets the sharper rhubarb taste really well.


Step five

Grease and line two cake tins. Stir rhubarb into the batter and divide between the tins.

Bake on gas mark 4/ 180 C/ 350 F for 30-40 minutes until golden on top and it springs back when you touch the top.


Step six

Beat together the honey, softened butter, icing sugar, buttermilk and vanilla extract to make the buttercream icing.

It’s worth popping this in the fridge for about 30 mins before using.


Step seven

Once the cake has cooled completely, use a palette knife or the back of a spoon to spread half the icing onto the bottom cake. Don’t go right to the edge of the sponge, as the weight of the top cake will push it out a bit further and you don’t want it dribbling down the sides.


Step eight

Cover the top in icing too.

I’ll be honest, I had a little left over, but I kind of made the recipe up as I went along so I’m not sure how to adjust so you have the perfect amount of icing, so you’ll just have to use the rest on some ice-cream or something.


Step nine

Eat until you can’t move.

Lots of little kisses

Recently I have been partying down with some of the lovely hens (bachelorettes for those of you across the pond) in my life who are getting married this summer. My friends are definitely going wedding crazy at the moment, and with hen parties springing up every other weekend I thought I would put together a yummy recipe for any keen party planners, or any of you who fancied a new afternoon tea recipe.

Introducing these lovely little meringue kisses. Although any of the wedding party who are on diets might want to look away now…


You will need

2 egg whites

110g/4 oz caster sugar

100g/3.5 oz dark chocolate

150ml double cream

75g/2.5 oz raspberries

Makes 20


Step one

Separate eggs whites into a glass or metal mixing bowl (plastic tends to hold a bit of grease, gross I know, but this will stop your egg whites fluffing like they should).

Use an electronic whisk (or a really strong arm) to whip the whites until they double in size and start to stiffen up.

Once they look kind of like the third photo start adding in the sugar as you whisk.


Step one and a half

Keep whisking until you have what’s known in the biz as stiff peaks. If you’re a bit unsure, turn your bowl upside down, if your mix doesn’t fall out then you’re good to go, if it does then I’m sorry.


Step two

Cover two baking trays in greaseproof paper or baking parchment. Don’t whatever you do grease this, use a dab of meringue in each corner to secure it to the tray.

Fill a piping bag with the meringue mix and pipe lots of little blobs. Hold the piping bag about 2cm away from the tray at a 90 degree angle and squeeze down, once your meringue has reached the desired spread (say 4cm wide?) pull away quickly.

Remember to pipe in pairs, no odd numbers, and leave a little space for these to expand.


Step three


Gas Mark 1/2, 130 degrees C or 250 degree F for 40 minutes to an hour. I know, that’s really unhelpful, but I sort of went jogging, and my oven is a law unto itself.

Once you can see they’ve grown and have developed shells, turn the oven off and wait for it to cool before removing them. If you need to take a peek by opening the oven door, try not to throw it wide, or your meringues will crack.


Step four

Melt the dark chocolate in a small bowl/ramekin. Do this gradually in the microwave so you don’t burn the chocolate.

Dip each meringue so that the bottom an a little bit of the side is covered. Sit on greaseproof paper and leave to set.


Step five

Whisk the double cream until it has doubled in size and is beginning to hod it’s shape.

Add the raspberries and whisk some more. This is pretty satisfying for some reason.


Step six

Pipe the raspberry cream onto a shell and squish another one on top. Repeat until finished.



Step seven



Last Monday night I found myself in Sainsbury’s lending a hand with the food shopping. Whilst queuing behind five of the most ridiculous locals in the bakery line, I happened to spot a something in the display case. Now, I don’t know whether I was more amused or horrified to see these little things. There was no way to describe them, so I bought some to show you. See below.


Now, I wouldn’t blame you for wondering what on earth they are. That, my dear friends is one of the ways Sainsbury’s is ringing in the Easter season this year. They’re chicks! I know right? Wow.

So in my slightly obsessive way I hit the chocolate aisle with plans to improve on Sainsbury’s rather bizarre little contribution to Spring.


You will need

A half batch of the fudge from last week’s post. See step one for more info.

(You may prefer to use a favourite truffle or cake pop recipe instead, I just really like fudge)

300g White chocolate

White chocolate buttons

200-300g Candy coating

(optional – substitute with more white chocolate if you prefer/don’t want to buy)

A tub of chocolate beans

(mine were from Dr Oetker)

A couple of squares of dark chocolate


Step one

Make up the fudge as seen in last week’s post. You don’t want to heat it to quite the same temperature though, or you won’t be able to roll it. Go with around 112 degrees C. The white stuff you can see on the board is icing sugar – the fudge was a touch sticky.

Apologies both for skipping the ‘making of’ in this post, and for using the same recipe twice in two weeks. This is just a suggestion, you can use any kind of filling as long as you can roll it into balls.


Step two

Cut buttons into halves for the little wings, and sort your beans out so you’ve just got the yellow and orange ones for their little beaks.

Step three

Now, this stage was all a bit too much to try and document all on my own, even with the help of self timer, so excuse the jump in photos.

You want to melt the candy coating and white chocolate in the microwave in heat-proof bowls (do one colour in full first then the other).

After my first and bad experience with candy coating I wasn’t thrilled with the idea of take two, but I really wanted yellow chicks and had plenty left over. So I did a little google, only to discover that Wilton’s Candy Coating (the one I have) is pretty much universally hated by all home bakers. Wish I’d known before I forked out £3…still, never mind.

The forum mums and bloggers informed me that this cement mix can be thinned out with some melted shortening (Trex is the best UK substitute), or oil. I didn’t want a whole tub of Trex with no other plans for it on the horizon, so I just used veg oil. It worked fairly well, and at least made the candy dipp-able. I will probably try to source an alternative next time though.

Anyway, you should check out my dipping technique, documented in this post if you’re not sure where to start. You need to dip your fudge, place on greaseproof paper, and straight away stick on the little beak and wings. Feel free to experiment with different positions for the wings and beak so that all your tiny chickens are unique.

Leave to dry.

NB: I also added little swirls and lines for hair with a cocktail stick to give my chicks a bit of extra character, not that they needed any…they’re a little bit bumpy and odd as it is but it all adds to the charm eh?!


Step four

Use a small sharp knife to trim off any chocolate that has pooled to form a base on the greaseproof around the bottom of your chicks. I wish I’d been a little more careful about this, so take your time. If you do it while the chocolate is still a little soft you will get a cleaner cut.

Step five

Melt a couple of squares of dark chocolate and use a cocktail stick to dot on eyes. I made a number of mine sleep with little semi circles and the wonkiest looking one was given glasses…mainly for my sister’s benefit as I knew she would find him endearing.

Step six

Put them on a plate and serve them up to your Easter guests!

They are a bit too cute to eat though. Even if they aren’t quite the polished product I had in mind when I turned my nose up at the Sainsbury’s ones, I hope they bring a little smile to your face.

Happy making!




Sweeties for my sweetie

Valentine’s Day is the marmite of all the celebrations; people seem to either love it or hate it (I’m actually fairly in the middle on the whole thing, much like my relationship to marmite). The US tends to go mad for Valentine’s*…but let’s be fair, they’re a lot more chipper about everything than the rest of the world anyway. We Brits stay true to form, far more cynical, but with the inherent sense of obligation that both forces us to celebrate something, and then resent the enjoyment we get from it.

Chocolates are a typical Val Day gift, but they tend to lack the personal touch that well, let’s face it, is the fault of the whole shebang. I figure if you’re going to do it, do it right, make your own.

Whatever continent you live on, and whatever occasion you’re celebrating this February, here’s another recipe fresh from my kitchen. Great for gifting or gorging on, I present milk chocolate truffles with a hint of salty maple goodness.

* source: Pinterest…which is a completely accurate representation of American life.


You will need:

500g Milk chocolate

75ml Evaporated milk

50ml Double cream

1 to 1 and a half tbsp Maple syrup

2 tsp Salted butter

Pinch of table salt

Rock salt to decorate

Makes 20-30 truffles


Step one

Chop 250g of the chocolate finely, and place in a bowl. The more you chop the easier the cream will melt it. Use a bread/serrated knife for this…you can thank me later…I just changed your life.


Step two

Put the cream, evaporated milk, maple syrup, a pinch of salt, and the 2 tsp of butter in a small pan.

Don’t put more than a tablespoon and a half of maple syrup in your truffle filling – whilst tasting delicious it won’t set up, ergo it won’t be easy to cover in chocolate (yes, I did find out the hard way, but I’m kind enough to give you recipe 2.0).

Place on a low heat and bring to the boil, stir regularly. Leave that heat on low, I mean it! Patience is the way to go with cream, it’s the hormonal teenager of the baking world (volatile and breaks down easily).


Step three

Once the cream starts to bubble, take off the heat and pour it over the chocolate. Stir quickly with a hand whisk until all the chocolate is melted and it’s thick and glossy.

Step four



Step five

Once your truffle mix is holding its shape (pull the whisk out and dribble it around, if it’s not merging back into one clump then it’s good to go) put into a piping bag/good quality sandwich bag. If you’re impatient then stick it in the fridge or freezer to help it along (but don’t forget about it – you don’t want it to be un pipe-able)

Snip off the corner and pipe into evenly sized blobs. Don’t worry if they are a bit misshapen, this is just to ensure evenly sized truffles more than anything. My mix wasn’t quite solid enough when I did it above (this is partly because it was the too-much-maple batch) so wait a while longer than that.

Leave for another 15-20 minutes.


Step six

Roll truffles into balls. You will need cold hands for this, I found washing them in cold water a few times throughout helped. You might need to give them a little squash first so that they roll (you’ll understand when you get there).


Step seven

Melt the remaining chocolate (keep about 50g back for a moment). You want to put it in a fairly small bowl so it’s nice and deep for dunking.

Do this in a microwave, but watch it closely, it turns in seconds. Pop it in for 30 seconds to start it off and then 10 second intervals, stirring in between.

Once it’s fully melted put the remaining 50g in and allow the heat from the rest of the chocolate to melt that too. This will help to temper it making the texture and shine better in the end product.


Step eight

Find something to dip with. You can buy fancy tools for this but I happened to have a metal kebab skewer with a whirly bit  on the end. If you don’t, then snap the middle two prongs off a plastic fork.


Step nine


I’ve tried to show the stages above, but essentially: 1. Tilt bowl and put truffle on dipper 2. Drop into melted chocolate 3. Lift out using dipper 4. Flip over and drop back in to coat the other side 5. Lift out and allow excess chocolate to drip off.

Don’t tap dipper on the side of the bowl, or your truffle will get stuck onto it. If you are overwhelmed by the urge to tap, then sort of thwack it on the melted chocolate, sounds counter productive but it does work.


Step ten

Dip all the truffles and rest on greaseproof paper in rows, leave to set for 10 minutes or so before decorating.


Step eleven

Put excess melted chocolate into a piping/sandwich bag and snip a small opening in the bottom. Allow the chocolate to start pouring from the bag and move your hand back and forth over the rows of chocolate. This creates the stripey bits on the top. There’s no need to squeeze really, it will pour out of the bag at the right speed.

Don’t worry about the bits that fall down the middle, you can put them on top of your ice cream. Nothing wasted when it comes to chocolate.


Step twelve

Put a little bit of rock salt on the top of each truffle. Don’t overdo this or it will be unpleasant, but a little salt is actually really nice with sweet or caramelly things like maple syrup and chocolate.


Step thirteen

Leave them to set. Have a little taste. Go on. You’ve got a few to spare. They’ll never know. Unless of course you write a blog about it, and then never actually produce any of the chocolates (sorry boyfriend).

Oh, and I made a little baggy…


Step fourteen

Stay tuned to fabrefaction for the making of the bag, and the using up of the left over dipping chocolate.

Until next time friends!