Tag: nibbles

Oh hey honey

October 31st. 19C in London, beautiful sunshine.

November 1st. Fog, cold, winter has arrived.

Don’t you just love the British weather?! Its unpredictability is a constant irritation to me but I do adore the seasons. I’m very glad I don’t live somewhere that’s variations on one temperature all year round.

It’s starting to feel a little festive this week at Fabrefaction HQ. It’s bonfire night on Thursday, and we are having a housewarming party this weekend to welcome the new housies. It would be rude not to provide our guests with some treats, and even ruder not to acknowledge the approach of Mr Frost.

So here we are, the perfect recipe to bridge autumn and winter, mini gingerbread and honey cupcakes. If you don’t fancy the hassle you could always make this as a traybake, perhaps doubling the recipe (I halved it).


You will need

For the cake:

250g/9 oz plain flour

100g/3.5 oz golden syrup

75g/2.5 oz light soft brown sugar

75g/2.5 oz lard (yes, lard)

40g/1.5 oz treacle

140ml/4.5 fl oz milk

1 egg

1 tsp ground ginger (feel free to add more)

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

For the icing:

300g/10.5 oz icing sugar

150g/5.25 oz unsalted butter

6 tbsp runny honey

For the sugar shards:

100g/3.5 oz caster sugar

(makes 35 mini cakes)


Step one

Melt the lard, golden syrup and treacle over a low heat.

Yes the lard will separate and create a glossy sheen on the surface, and yes you will think how unappetising it looks, but trust me on this one…it’s one of those recipes passed from generation to generation in my family, I’m just giving it a little facelift and daren’t replace the lard, just in case somehow Grandma is watching.


Step two

Combine the sugar, ginger, flour and bicarbonate of soda.

Make a well in the middle and start to whisk in the egg. Stop when you get to the consistency in the third picture down because otherwise you risk making lumps you won’t be able to get out.

Step three

Pop the milk in the microwave to heat for 30 seconds to a minute until warm. Add to the centre of the mixture and continue to whisk gently until the milk and the egg are combined, but again don’t try and mix in all the flour.


Step four

Pour in the melted treacle, golden syrup and lard mix and stir until it’s all mixed together.


Step five

Spoon the mixture into your cases. I got a bulk order of these paper condiment cups last year for the hot chocolate stirrers I made for Christmas. I will NEVER find a way to use them all up.

If you have normal mini cupcake/muffin cases the same rules apply, about a teaspoon and a half of mixture in each. You will probably need to put them in a muffin tin though. These little cases had enough of their own structure so I put them on a baking tray.

Bake for 15 minutes on 180C/gas mark 4/350F.


Step six

Whisk together the icing/frosting ingredients, make sure to cover your bowl with a tea towel; icing sugar will make your kitchen sticky for weeks otherwise.

Step seven

Confession time. I didn’t photograph this stage. Partly because I was a bit grumpy, partly because my camera was running out of battery and partly because my level of clumsiness, hot sugar and baking selfies are not a strong combination. Forgive me.

All you need to do to make the decorative caramel shards is gently heat the caster sugar in a saucepan until the vast majority has melted and turned caramel in colour. Don’t stir, don’t swish, just wait.

Remove from heat and lay out a sheet of greaseproof paper. With a fork trail the caramel back and forth across the paper. It will need to cool a little until it is stringy enough to do this, but it will get there. You don’t have to make individual cake toppers, just criss cross to make one massive one and break it up to get the shards.

It’s waaaaaay easier than you’d think and super effective looking.

(If you aren’t eating your cakes that day I recommend saving this step until the day of. I’m freeing most of mine bare and decorating them on party day)


Step eight

Ice your cakes however you please, I’m a diehard fan of the piping bag. I sprinkled a little bit of cinnamon on mine before adding the caramel shards.





Miniature carb loading

So. Guys. 2015 happened. Happy New Year to you all!

Probably the last thing all you resolution makers need is this blog post. Just know that deep down I support your diet, but if you ever want to fall off the wagon in a carb-tacular way, I’m here for you, holding mini filled potato skins.

These bitesize chaps were more of the nibbles I made for Matt and Vicky’s party and they disappeared pretty quickly, despite being a bit of a random addition to the table. I know Vicky’s brother has been waiting on tenterhooks for this blog post. Edward, apologies for the delay.


You will need

15 New potatoes

3 Rashers of smoked bacon (or a couple of spring onions if you’re a veggie)

300ml Sour cream

100g/5 oz Red Leicester/Double Gloucester/Cheddar cheese

Salt and pepper


Step one

Using the finest setting on your grater grate the cheese so you’re ready to go. The last thing you need is hold ups preventing you from eating these sooner.

Cook the bacon until crispy and trim into tiny tiny pieces. Scissors are key.

Step two

Put the new potatoes in a roasting tin with a blob of butter and cook on gas mark 6/200C/400F for 45 minutes. Keep an eye on them, but honestly, I’d like to meet a man who has managed to overcook a jacket potato.


Step three

Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle cut them in half and scoop out the potato inside. Get as much out as you can without ripping the skins. Place the empty skins back into the roasting tin in a somewhat orderly fashion.

Step four

Add 150-200ml of the sour cream to the potato and season. Mash until smooth/you loose the will to make filled potato skins at all. But seriously though, don’t give up, that’s the key to smooth mash.

You might need to add a little more sour cream, but save some for dipping.

Step five

Stir in the bacon.

Step six

Avoid the urge to just eat mix with a spoon. Or does everyone else not love mashed potato as much as me?


Step seven

Refill the potato skins and sprinkle the cheese on top.

Step eight

Put back into the oven until they are fully reheated and the cheese has melted.


Step nine

Eat all thirty before anyone else arrives.


A while back I started a small ‘series’ courtesy of Matt and Vicky’s engagement party. I didn’t get very far, because Christmas. Sorry about that. In case you haven’t seen it, the first post is here.

So, in honour of NYE and the parties you’ll all be throwing and in need of nibbles for, here’s a couple of quick and easy last minute bites for the table: some sausage wheels and cheese puff pastry bites.

There’s a lot of cheating in this recipe. I’m not one for making my own puff pastry. Apparently I’m not even one for seasoning my own food now either.


You will need

500g packet of puff pastry

400g/ 14oz of sausage meat (I bought packet of pre-seasoned/flavoured stuff from Waitrose. Zero regrets)

75g/ 2.5oz grated parmesan

1 egg

A generous pinch of salt


Step one

Divide pastry into halves.


Step two

Roll out one of the halves until it’s about a centimetre thick.


Step three

Sprinkle half the parmesan onto the pastry. Fold it into thirds and roll out a little. Fold into thirds again in the opposite direction and roll again until square.

Be careful not to over work it.


Step four

Cut into small rectangles and twist to make little bow tie looking shapes. If my ailing memory serves me correctly I believe this made around 25-30.


Step five

Place on a baking tray and sprinkle with more parmesan and some salt.

Bake on 180C/ gas mark 4/ 350F for about 45 minutes. You need to keep an eye on them as they can look done on the outside and not be cooked the whole way through.


Step six

Roll out the second half of the pastry until it’s about 5mm thick.

Step seven

Spread the sausage meat out across the surface of the pastry. Leave a gap of 1-2cm on the long edge.

Step eight

Whisk the egg in a small bowl with a fork. Using a pastry brush (or your clean fingers) spread the egg along the gap you left in step seven.

Step nine

Roll the pastry up, the egg should help the edge to seal.


Step ten

Cut slices of the sausage about 1.5cm thick.


Step eleven

Place on a greased baking tray and cook with the cheese bites.


Step twelve

Serve fresh from the oven and try not to eat them all before the guests arrive.

Drip drop

A couple of months ago my lovely housemate got engaged. A couple of weeks ago we celebrated that fact.

I decided I wanted to make some party food. Given that we’re fast approaching Christmas (I mean, it’s the 17th November already, what?) this little series of posts should furnish your party season with delightful nibbles and may double as last minute Christmas present/hostess gifts.

This one falls into the second category, so get online and buy yourself some cellophane bags and a roll of ribbon, your colleagues and your milk man will never have been happier. Well, I hope their lives are better than that, but either way, there won’t be any disappointment, and that’s all anyone’s looking for at Christmas.


Things you need

200g/7 oz White chocolate

200g/7 oz Milk chocolate

200g/7 oz Dark chocolate

Decorations (I used freeze dried raspberries, fudge pieces and pecans)

Cocktail sticks

Piping bags or strong sandwich bags.

Cellophane (from a florist or a craft shop, or you can use greaseproof but the bottoms won’t be shiny)

Food thermometer (ideally)


Step 0.5

Prepare your toppings if they need preparing. I wanted my drops to be quite small so I chopped up my fudge and pecans.


Step one

Now. This is the first time I have actually tempered chocolate. It was easier than I expected and well worth it for the shiny finish. I encourage it. I also encourage the purchase of a thermospatula. I’m not being paid to say that, it’s changed my life (in a small but significant way).

If you’re joining me on the tempering train you need to split the chocolate into a third/two thirds split. Ignore the photo above and just chop it all into big chunks.  I learned as I went with this one.


Step two

Place a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water; make sure the water isn’t touching the pan.

Add two thirds of the chocolate and allow to melt slowly. Stir occasionally. Mainly so you can feel like you’re doing something productive.

Bring to 45 degrees C and remove from the heat.


Step three

Add the rest of the chocolate and stir until its melted in. Keep stirring until the whole lot has cooled to 28 degrees C.

Step four

Place back on the heat and bring to 32 degree C.

Step five

Take back off the heat and dry the bottom of the bowl with a tea towel. Trust me, you don’t want water in your chocolate.

Step six

Pour into a piping bag.

Don’t trim the end yet. In fact, once you have twisted the opening to close it you should push any chocolate in the tip end back towards the rest, otherwise it will cool and solidify there while you’re tempering the rest.

Step seven

Repeat with the rest of the chocolate.


Step eight

Lay down the cellophane and start piping.

You want to hold the piping bag at a 90 degree angle to the table and squeeze. The chocolate will flood into a lovely little pool.

Add a small blob of another colour on top and swirl about with a cocktail stick to create a marbled effect.


Step nine

Sprinkle your decorations on top.

Some cranberries would go down well for christmas drops, but I was explicitly instructed not to buy any. These freeze dried raspberries looked rather pretty and tasted good too. See children? Compromise isn’t always bad.


Step ten

Keep going until you run out of chocolate/the will to live. But look…so shiny. You did well to temper it, it was worth it after all.


Step eleven

Go forth and make someone’s day.