It seems a bit strange to be writing this. Not least because the last few weeks were crazy and I got out of the habit of blogging, but mainly because the hen in question is now a WIFE.
What’s that? You wanna see? Oh ok then, here she is…
As you can see from the size of that smile, we all had a ball. It was an amazing day.
But let’s step back a month or three and finish off her favours. This was without a doubt the guests’ fave recipe so, ladies, all of you who asked me for it, sorry it took so long! Without further ado here is the recipe for white chocolate, lime and coconut popcorn.
Remember to downscale the below if you’re making for a smaller group/movie night.
You will need
450g/1lb plain popcorn kernels
600g/1lb 5oz white chocolate
2 limes (zest)
You’re going to want to get a biiiiiig pan (one with a lid unless you want to be finding popcorn in corners for years). You also need several bowls to decant the popcorn into and definitely don’t try to pop it all in one go, I think i did three or four batches.
So. Pop the pan on a med-low heat, and drop a tablespoon of coconut oil in the pan. Add three kernels or so and wait patiently for them to pop.
Don’t put all the kernels in straight away otherwise you will burn some.
Once the three test kernels have popped pour a load more in to cover the bottom of the pan and replace the lid.
As the kernels start to pop I generally shake the pan a intermittently and hover it above the heat. If the popping slows down, place it fully back on the heat for a few seconds.
When the pan is filling up and there’s a couple of seconds between pops remove it from the heat and pour the popcorn into a bowl.
Repeat repeat repeat until you’ve used alla that popping corn.
Zest the limes on the smallest ‘setting’ on your grater.
Melt the white chocolate in a heatproof bowl. As there’s quite a lot of it, it’s really probably better to do this over a pan of boiling water. Otherwise you risk leaving some foil in there, almost blowing up your microwave and burning 600g of chocolate. There might be a small rage blackout to follow.
While the chocolate is still warm stir in a heaped tablespoon of coconut oil.
This is the tricky bit, you sort of need to distribute the chocolate and lime evenly amongst your batches of popcorn.
Stir in the chocolate as well as you can and spread out on baking trays to set. The chocolate won’t fully harden because of the oil but it’s nice that way, I promise.
That’s all folks.
Final instalment next week – the bringing of everything together.
SO. I have been remiss. Friends, stalkers, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to leave you sans blog for two whole weeks. Finishing off my graphic design portfolio kind of consumed my health, social life, eating habits and ability to hold a conversation.
But that’s done now, and I’m back. Picking up where I left off with Vicky’s hen do favours. This week it’s raspberry and white chocolate, and chocolate caramel marshmallows. Not exactly the first time I have made marshmallows on this blog. I really want you to make marshmallows guys.
You will need
For the white chocolate and raspberry marshmallows:
9 gelatine sheets
350g/12 oz granulated sugar
2 egg whites
1 tbsp liquid glucose (you can find this in a squeezy toothpaste type tube in the baking section)
150g/5 oz raspberries
150g/5 oz white chocolate
Freeze dried raspberries (optional)
For the caramel and chocolate marshmallows:
9 gelatine sheets
300g/10.5 oz granulated sugar
2 egg whites
1 tbsp liquid glucose
2-3 tsp caramel extract (I got buttery caramel from natural professional flavours at Lakeland)
150g/5 oz milk chocolate
Cellophane card bags x 30
(makes enough for 30 favours, 150+ marshmallows)
I’ll go ahead and walk you through the process for the caramel ones then pop the changes for the raspberry below.
In a cereal bowl, soak the gelatine in 150ml/5 fl oz cold water. Set aside.
Combine the sugar, 150ml/5 fl oz water (different to the gelatine water) and the liquid glucose in a smallish saucepan.
Allow the sugar to dissolve on a low heat, and then turn it up to medium-high. Watch yourself buddy, you’re boiling sugar right now, don’t hurt it or yourself.
The temperature you want this to get to is 118 C. It will feel like it will never get there, but stay strong.
While the sugar is bubbling you can take a moment to dust your brownie tray with icing sugar. Add a small amount of olive oil first so it sticks.
When the sugar gets to somewhere around 112-115C whisk the egg whites into stiff peaks. Take care not to use a ceramic bowl else you will get grey marks like I did. Glass or metal though and you’ll be golden.
When the sugar reaches 118C take it off the heat.
Squeeze the gelatine out a bit and add it to the sugar mix. It will bubble right up so don’t panic. It should settle pretty quickly.
Pour the hot sugar into the eggs, but make sure you’re whisking continually to avoid a big lump of sugar at the bottom of the bowl.
Whisk until the mixture holds its shape well and is quite thick. This can take up to ten minutes.
Somewhere during the whisking (probably when you need to give your arm a rest) add the flavouring. I used buttery caramel (as mentioned in the ingredients) but they will take basically anything you fancy.
Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth out as much as possible.
Dust with icing sugar and leave to set for about an hour.
For the raspberry and white chocolate marshmallows
Before starting the marshmallow mix make a puree by adding the raspberries, 50g of the granulated sugar and half a tablespoon of water to a small saucepan.
Heat on a low heat until bubbling away happily. Stir while the mixture reduces (looses water) for about 5 minutes.
Strain though a sieve to remove the pips. It may need a little stirring for encouragement. Don’t forget to scrape the excess off from the underside of the sieve before throwing away the pips.
Follow the same steps at the caramel recipe, but instead of adding the extract, stir in the puree. I saved this to near the end to keep a bit of a ripple effect.
Pour into a second dusted brownie tray and leave to set.
Once the marshmallows have set (at least an hour, preferably more) turn them out onto a surface dusted with icing sugar.
Cut them into cubes, and dust all the sides. Don’t worry if they are a little sticky, they will dry out a bit more.
Try not to eat them all just yet.
Lay the caramel marshmallows out in rows on greaseproof paper or cellophane and melt the milk chocolate. I used a piping bag to drizzle the chocolate over the marshmallows, you could use a sandwich bag and snip the corner.
Repeat with the raspberry and white chocolate marshmallows.
Once the chocolate has set place 5 in each bag, 2 of one flavour, 3 of the other, alternating as you go so you don’t run out of one.
As I mentioned last post I’ll be doing a wrap up post with all the finishing touches, so stay tuned for that. For now, here’s our lovely hen chowing down:
Hi there. First off, apologies are in order. I missed my Monday night slot this week. I am deeply entrenched in finishing my portfolio and got really, really, involved in designing a book cover, more on that another time.
ANYWAY. My lovely housemate Vicky had her Hen Party a few weekends ago. Sadly I had something I had booked up a year in advance to go to so I couldn’t make it. Sad face. Instead I thought I would leave Vicky a little surprise on the dining table so she’d know I was thinking of her while she partied on down with her hens.
This is a little four part series, showing you how to make three different little hen/bachelorette party favours at home; the final post will detail all the finishing touches. You might prefer to use them as wedding favours or for childrens’ parties instead.
Heads up: I made 30 of each recipe, so if you’re looking to make a sweet treat for an evening in, divide, divide, divide the quantities of the recipe, don’t send me the bill for your fillings.
We’re kicking off this week with a recipe for orange sherbet. I just need to clarify for the sake of my US (and possibly Canadian?) readership, we mean something different when we say sherbet. You mean sorbet. We mean sherbet.
You will need
300g/10.5 oz Icing sugar
300g/10.5 oz Granulated sugar
175g/6 oz Caster sugar
125g/4.5 oz Orange jelly powder (again, America, you mean jelly when you say jello)
1-2 tsp Yellow food colouring
1 tsp Orange extract
60 small, or 30 regular sized lollipops
Cellophane DL card bags
Mix together the granulated and caster sugars with the orange extract and colouring. If you want it to be a really bright colour, go for 2 tsp, I wanted a more subtle yellowy-orange so went for one.
Just in case you think I’ve lost it…the colour dilutes when you add the other ingredients.
Add the jelly powder and stir again until fully combined. Give it a little taste at this point. For a stronger flavour add more jelly or more flavouring, but for the record, I think you’ll be set.
Add the icing sugar and mix again thoroughly. See, now you you know what I mean about the colour? Nice and subtle isn’t it?
Weigh 30g portions and pour into the card bags.
That’s where I’m leaving you for today I’m afraid folks, the finishing off will be in my round up post in a few weeks. The suspense is killing you I know.
In the meantime, just when you thought you weren’t even getting a gif this week. Here’s a tinker in her dungarees:
A couple of weeks ago one of my favourite colleagues had a special birthday, so for a special birthday we needed a special cake.
I had only attempted one two tier cake before and had never made the chocolate collar you’ll see below. Sure this cake was a bit more effort than your average victoria sponge, but if you’ve got a few hours and a bit of patience and determination this is very much possible.
I present to you a full step-by-step recipe for a two tiered chocolate fudge cake with salted caramel buttercream, decorated with a dark chocolate collar and chocolate dipped berries. I just wanted to say that out loud. Look away if you don’t like chocolate. This won’t please you.
Happy birthday Jane!
You will need
For the cake:
380g/13.5 oz caster sugar
380g/13.5 oz unsalted butter or margarine (I use stork)
325g/11.5 oz self raising flour
55g/2 oz cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
For the salted caramel buttercream:
400g/14 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
For the chocolate fudge icing:
225g/8 oz unsalted butter
200g/7 oz plain chocolate
100g/3.5 oz milk chocolate
2 tbsp golden syrup
200ml/6.5 fl oz double cream
For the decorations:
1 packet strawberries (sorry I didn’t look at weight)
2 packets of raspberries (about 500g)
200g/7 oz plain chocolate
200g/7 oz milk chocolate
100g/3.5 oz white chocolate
(for the chocolate amounts are the best approximates I can make, I bought a LOT of chocolate. I strongly recommend Sainbury’s Belgian cooking chocolate if you are in the UK, definitely do not buy that scot block stuff)
Cake tin bottom tier – 1 x 7 inch (3.5 inches deep)
Cake tin top tier – 2 x 5 inch (1.5 inches deep)
Cake boards – 1 x 8 inch, 1 x 5 inch
Sticks/straws for support. I used cake pop sticks, but wooden dowling or special cake making supports would be fine. Make sure they are at least 4 inches so you can cut them to size.
Sugar thermometer (not 100% essential but I recommend tempering the chocolate)
Grease and line the tins.
Note how I created a bit of a collar on the larger tin from greaseproof. This is to help stop the sides of the cake catching while the inside bakes as it’s essentially double the thickness.
Whisk together the butter and sugar with an electric whisk, or a wooden spoon and some elbow grease, until smooth.
I used a block of stork for this, but I prefer the softer version you can get in a tub, you don’t have to wait for it to come to room temperature first that way. Margarine works just fine for cakes, I think it makes them fluffier.
You might want to use a tea towel over the bowl to avoid everything getting covered in sugar and butter.
Add all the eggs and whisk until combined.
In go the flour, bicarbonate of soda and cocoa powder.
Stir gently to start mixing the dry ingredients in first before turning the whisk on, you don’t want to choke on flour, that’s not a good way to go. It also means you will never get to eat this cake.
Divide into the tins.
Bake in the oven on 180C/350F/gas mark 4. This is where it’s a little tricky as the little cakes need a lot less time but you don’t want to open the oven much or your big cake will sink.
I say give the big cake about 30 minutes on its own, and then opening the door as little as possible add the smaller ones for the next 20 minutes. You will then need to test the cakes by sticking a sharp knife, or a cake tester if you have one. If this comes out clean (or with the odd crumb) you’re all good. If not give them another 5-10 minutes.
While the cakes are in the oven make the icing as both, but particularly the chocolate, need time to cool.
Place a heatproof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water. Add the butter (real butter this time), chocolate and golden syrup. Melt until smooth.
Remove from heat and stir in the cream quickly. Take the bowl off the pan and place somewhere cool and dry.
I don’t really suggest the fridge because you might forget it (like I did) and then you have to wait for it to warm up enough to spread. But that being said, the fridge is a viable option, just keep an eye on it.
For the salted caramel buttercream melt 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.
Stir in the 100ml cream and leave to cool further.
Whisk the icing sugar and 150g of butter together with the salt. Definitely cover the bowl with the tea towel this time. I find if my butter is not quite soft enough it helps to rub it in a bit with clean hands first. There is NOwhere icing sugar won’t go when you use an electric whisk.
Add the caramel and whisk again until smooth. Don’t worry if the caramel is still a little warm, just leave your buttercream to cool in the fridge for a bit. But again, don’t forget about it or it won’t be spreadable.
When your cakes have completely cooled prepare them for icing. You need to lop the top off the large one until it’s as flat as possible on top. So much of this cake is covered in decoration that you can get away with a little bit of wonky though so don’t panic if it’s not prefect. Having said that the flatter the better so the top tier sits straight. NO PRESSURE.
Cut the cake in the middle. Try to do this evenly by scoring it the whole way round first. Just keep going round in circles, getting further in each time until you’re all the way through.
Level out the tops of the small cakes. I would be lying if I said I didn’t spread some icing on the offcuts and eat them.
Using a palette knife ice the cakes.
First place a bit of buttercream on the cake base to stick the cake to it. Start with the caramel buttercream and ice the middle and the top. Don’t worry if bits splurge out the sides.
Smooth these out around the sides with the palette knife, gradually adding buttercream here and there to create the sharpest sides you can. Some parts will have a thicker coating than others, this layer is made to contain all the crumbs (hence the name crumb layer) and to even out the shape a bit. It’s not going to be pretty.
Place in the fridge for about an hour before starting the chocolate.
Ice the chocolate on in the same way, neatening as you go. For the most part it will be covered up, so it really doesn’t need to be too smooth.
Cover the small cake in the same way.
Place both in the fridge while you prepare the decorations.
Using the tins as a guide cut a strip of the cellophane for both the top and bottom layer. You want these to be quite close to the size of the chocolate collar, so tall enough that you will have about 5cm/two inches taller than the cake, and wide enough to match the circumference. You can quickly check this against the cake to ensure it will fit.
Don’t forget to cut one for the top tier and one for the bottom, bearing in mind your top tier cake is twice as tall as the tin.
Temper 200g dark chocolate. Don’t look at me like that…you are really going to want to do this so you have shiny chocolate on the collar.
First melt 125g of the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Let it get to 55C/131F before removing from the heat.
Chop the remaining chocolate and stir into the melted mix to aid the cool down process. Stir continually until it cools to 28C/82F. I found a good way to speed this up a bit. Put cold water in a large saucepan and the bowl on top. You’re welcome.
Place the bowl back on the heat and bring it to 31C/88F. Your chocolate is tempered.
Be warned – if you’re doing a different type of chocolate the temperatures are different:
Milk – 45C/113F original melt, 27C/81F cool down, 29C/84F
White – 45C/113F original melt, 26C/79F cool down, 28C/82F
Place chocolate in a piping bag and using circular motions cover the cellophane with swirls. Go over the bottom edge onto the work surface but ensure the top stays on the cellophane so it’s ‘whirly’.
When it has started to dry pull the cellophane away so the bottom is clear of the extra overlap bits.
Melt (preferably temper) the milk chocolate. Dip the strawberries in half way and leave to set on some more cellophane.
Melt the white chocolate (no real need to temper this) and place in a piping bag. swing the bag back and forth to drizzle the white chocolate over the top.
Step twenty one
Drizzle the raspberries with white and milk chocolate. You can dip them if you want to, but, really? I know this is taking a while, but do you have that kind of time??
Step twenty two
Get the cakes out of the fridge to assemble.
Cut the sticks to size and push through the bottom layer where the top tier will sit.
Place it on top.
I then secured this a bit further with the remaining dark chocolate I had. It will be covered up so no big deal if it’s messy.
Step twenty three
When the collars become touch dry, (meaning if you gently touch the surface you shouldn’t get chocolate on your finger, but what’s underneath is still not set) wrap them around the cake.
LEAVE THE CELLOPHANE ON. Sorry for shouting. But please. Walk away and don’t touch it for a while. Maybe leave a window open if it’s a cool day to help the process along.
Step twenty four
When you’re feeling brave slowly peel off the cellophane to reveal your beautiful shiny chocolate collar. I was pretty excited at this point I must confess.
Step twenty five
Fill with the fruit and make someone’s occasion that bit happier.
Oh hi. Thanks for stopping by. This week I’ve been putting together a little DIY project for all you people getting married this summer. Or basically anyone who likes candles. I can’t tell you just how ridiculously easy this is and it takes no time at all, so no excuses, unless you are scared of fire.
You will need
All the jam jars and glass pots you can find (a great excuse to go to France and gorge on those chocolate puddings, and a perfectly reasonable level of dedication to your craft)
Tea lights/small candles
White tissue paper
Some kind of nice rustic string or ribbon (mine was from hobby craft)
Cut the lacy bit of the doily off so you have a long strip. I found these rectangular ones in a bits and bobs shop which are ideal for wrapping round in a straight line.
Measure the circumference of your jam jar and cut the doily strip to size. Pro tip: when you cut it go with the natural curve of the pattern, rather than a straight line, as even if you have some overlap the join will be far less obvious.
Use the jar as a measure to cut a strip of tissue paper (one sheet thick) to match the height and circumference. You don’t need to be too exact as the tissue molds easily with the glue.
Using a mixture of PVA glue and water (about two thirds PVA to one third water) stick the doily around the bottom of the jar as shown. I put the doily onto the jar dry and then just painted over the top which worked perfectly. Pro tip #2: I know, I know, I’m spoiling you today…once you’re about half way round the doily will hold to the jar by itself so you can put your non paintbrushing hand inside it to hold steady and avoid getting glue all over yourself.
Repeat with the tissue paper, pushing it into the contours of the jar as you go. Don’t worry if it looks really scruffy at this point; it will be alright on the night.
Leave upside down to dry (or on whichever is the least gluey end!)
Once dry, tie some lovely little bows around the necks of your candle holders. If you made a mess of the necks in the gluing phase you can use this opportunity to wrap the string around several times and pretend it’s all part of the design.