These spooky eyeball chocolate chip cookies are great easy Halloween cookies! I bought a packet of these sugar eyeballs ages ago but never really found a need to use them until now! These cookies are a great Halloween treat and you can use the technique with your own favourite cookie recipe if you prefer, no need to follow this one (though it is great!) You simply press the eyes into the cookie when it comes straight out of the oven and then leave to cool.
Makes 18 cookies
200g melted unsalted butter 220g light muscovado sugar 100g caster sugar (If you like the grainyness of the M&S cookies feel free to use granulated, I don’t like it so I use caster) 1 tsp vanilla extract 1 egg 350g plain flour 1/2 tsp baking powder 1/2 tsp salt 200g chocolate chips (I use one bag of dark and one bag of milk for variety)
One pack sugar eyeballs
– Heat the oven to Gas mark 3/170C and prepare two baking trays. – Melt the butter, I put it in the microwave for 1 minute but microwaves vary so be careful! – In a large mixing bowl mix the melted butter with both sugars until smooth. – Beat in the vanilla and egg until smooth. – Sift in the flour, baking powder and salt and mix until it forms a dough. – Mix through the chocolate chips. – Divide the dough in to generous balls, slightly larger than a ping pong ball is best. Roll briefly in your hands to make a round ball and place 6 on a baking tray. Make sure they cookies are well spaced apart as they spread. – Bake one sheet at a time in the top of the oven for about 15-17 minutes. The cookies will still be soft but the edges should be a little brown. – As soon as they come out of the oven press the sugar eyeballs randomly into the cookies. Leave to cool on the tray for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely/eat. – Repeat with the remaining trays of cookies.
This is going to be an odd year for many. May be you’re going to be tackling a smaller Christmas Dinner for the first time. May be you’ve decided to go all out now you don’t have to trek round to Auntie Sue’s because it’s “what you always do”! May be you’ve never cooked more than a fried egg but think this is your time to shine!
Whatever your situation, I thought it may be timely to do a little example of how to do a low effort Christmas Dinner as guidance for those that need it. Remember, Christmas Dinner is just a roast dinner but with cranberry sauce and crackers! Don’t let the weight of expectations get you down, this can be as simple or as complicated a meal as you want to make it!
You can look at the Christmas tag for some older recipes and round ups that are more comprehensive but I wanted to highlight some really simple recipes here. Whether you’re on your own or just a smaller family gathering this should hit the spot!
We like to have nibbles to tide us over from noon to 3pm when we have our Dinner. If you want to keep it super simple just grab some party food from the freezer section. These days they almost all cook at 180°C for around 15 minutes. Any leftovers are also great for grazing at!
In my family the Prawn Cocktail is king. (Well, for me it is, mum does try to do fancy smoked salmon thingies!) This is not only traditional but super simple. Finely sliced iceberg lettuce, prawns, cocktail sauce (Iceland’s is my favourite!) and a twist of lemon on top to look fancy. Less than 5 minutes and you’re done!
Turkey is, of course, traditional and if you want to keep it super simple I recommend a frozen Turkey crown. They’re about £10 and you can pick one up in almost any supermarket.
However, a large roast chicken will also do very nicely! I love to do a one pot chicken dish where you simply get a Really Big Pot, put in new potatoes in the base, add your chicken (put some herbs, garlic and half a lemon in the cavity), and scatter with bacon lardons. Drizzle with a little olive oil and cook according to the time on the packet (or 25 minutes per lb + 20 minutes in 180°C oven) Add a cup of frozen peas 30 minutes before the end. This also works well in a slow cooker on high for 3 hours if you need the space in the oven or even if you don’t have an oven! You can find the more detailed recipe here.
A roast dinner is all about timing. If you figure out your timings then it’s plain sailing. You can prep all of your veg in advance, even the night before, so all you have to do on the day is put dishes in the oven on time or you can get the roast in and then do your veg prep. I have a post outlining some of the timings for veg here.
2 hours before: Roast In
45 minutes before: parsnips in (I like them crispy.)
30 minutes before: leeks in cream sauce, stuffing balls & pigs in blankets in
25 minutes before: Brussels sprouts and carrots in steamer on the hob. Check the sprouts after 15 minutes by poking with a sharp knife. They should be soft but not soggy.
Serving Time: Remove the chicken from the pot and place on a serving board. Use a slotted spoon to remove the potatoes and peas and bacon. You can make gravy with the juices. I explain how here.
Christmas pudding is traditional, easily available from the supermarket, and I hate it. So I have a couple of other seasonal options that you can make the day before:
If you’re on your own do not let this stop you from having a full roast! The leftovers are the best bit! From this dinner I will be able to make sandwiches, soup, risotto and may be a few other dishes as takes my fancy! I basically won’t have to cook again for the next week, which is exactly how I like it!
A very quick post today as I know some people are eagerly awaiting this recipe for Salted Caramel Sauce. It’s simple once you know how and absolutely amazing! I have had to restrain myself from simply eating it from the jar!
Makes 1 jar
250ml double cream
1 cup granulated sugar
– Pour the cream into a small pan and heat to just short of boiling. Turn off the heat and set aside.
– Place the sugar in one flat layer in a large, heavy bottomed pan. You need it to be much bigger than you think as when you combine the ingredients it can bubble up and rise to nearly 10 times the height! Also, thin pans mean that the sugar may quickly burn as the heating is more intense. Heat your sugar on a LOW heat. It will take time (about 8 minutes to start to melt) but if you heat it too intensely then the sugar may burn and cause problems for you. Do Not Stir!
– Once about 8 minutes has gone by you should be able to see the sugar melting around the edges. At this point you can gently turn the sugar so the melted stuff on the bottom comes on top and the solid sugar on top gets to the bottom. Your sugar should be turning from white to golden caramel. Don’t rush, it will get there.
-Once your sugar is all melted with no lumpy bits take it off the heat.
– Pour half your hot cream into the sugar. It WILL bubble, spit and rise up. Stir vigorously the whole time.
– When it has died back down pour the remaining cream in, remembering to keep stirring. It will usually rise and spit again. It will look like a lumpy mess. This is normal.
– Return the pan to a low heat and keep stirring. The lumpy mess will slowly melt back in and you will get a smooth pale caramel sauce. This will probably take about 10 minutes. If you have any huge lumps it may take longer but they will eventually dissolve. You don’t want the mixture to boil so keep it on a nice low heat and it will get there!
– When you have a nice, smooth sauce sprinkle over the salt and give it a good mix then pour into a heat proof container.
– I store mine at room temperature but that’s because it doesn’t last long at all! If you plan to be more restrained in your consumption then you can keep it in the fridge but be aware that it will stiffen at a lower temperature.
The nights are drawing in, the mornings are full of mist. It’s definitely Autumn! So that definitely means pie in my book! This Blackberry and Apple Lattice Pie uses the copious quantities of British Apples and wild blackberries available to us at this time of year.
I am lucky in that I have an apple tree in my garden and a fantastic blackberry patch at the end of my road so there’s nothing to stop me whipping up one of these as the mood strikes!
The Lattice is a more fiddly option but firstly, it looks fantastic and secondly it allows the steam to escape more easily from the pie thus minimising the risk of a “soggy bottom”!
You can be very precise with the Lattice but I prefer a more rustic, cottagey pie. I just throw it together and am happy to enjoy the fruits of my labours without needing it to look like haute cuisine!
Makes 1 20cm pie
1/2 batch Shortcrust Pastry (Or make a whole batch and freeze half for impromptu pastry needs!)
3 apples, sliced (leave the skin on though, that’s where all the vitamins live!)
2 tbsp cornflour
5 tbsp sugar
~150g blackberries (Or whatever amount you pick!)
1 egg, beaten
1 tbsp demerera sugar
Heat the oven to gas mark 5 with a flat baking sheet on the middle shelf and prepare a 20cm loose bottomed tart tin.
Mix the apples, cornflour and sugar together in a mixing bowl.
Gently add the blackberries.
Roll out 2/3 of the pastry to a thickness of a £1 coin (~3mm) and large enough to completely cover the tin with a few cm extra (keep the remaining 1/3 to the side for a minute).
Gently pick up the pastry using the rolling pin and drape it into the tin.
Gently press the pastry into the edges of the tin making sure not to leave any air bubbles underneath.
Tip the apples and blackberry mixture into the pie.
Roll out the remaining pastry into a rectangle wider than your tin and cut even* strips about 1.5cm wide. (* Do as I say, not as I do!)
Form a lattice on top of the pie, leaving the strips hanging over the edge.
There are a few ways to do this: You can assemble the lattice on a piece of baking paper and then slide it on top of the pie or you can place the vertical strips on first and weave the horizontal strips over it one at a time.
Trim away the excess pastry from around the edge of the pie, erring more towards leaving a little extra overhand rather than cutting too neatly as it will shrink slightly.
Brush the egg over the top of the pastry and sprinkle with sugar.
Bake for 30-45 minutes on the preheated baking sheet until the pastry is golden brown and crisp on top. You want to cook this for as long as possible but remove it from the oven before the top starts to catch. Golden brown is good, blackened is bad! THe filling should be bubbly and quite liquid but it will set as it cools.
Allow the pie to cool for a 20 minutes (don’t be hasty, you’ll burn your tongue!) and then serve with cold cream or ice cream!
This one is a great Friday bake! It’s the end of the week and we’re all a bit tired. Chocolate will help. Specifically a No Bake Chocolate Truffle Torte! All of the flavour, none of the faff!
It’s a biscuit based crust with a smooth and silky chocolate ganache centre. Yum!
Look at those frills! This makes an excellent centrepiece dessert, or even an afternoon tea… I may have had it for lunch at one point too… shh!!
It’s quick, it’s simple, its packed full of chocolate. You should definitely make this!
Makes 1 8″ torte
300g chocolate biscuits (I actually used some of my Easy Chocolate Biscuits but you could use store bought too)
150g plain dark chocolate
150ml double cream
350g plain dark chocolate, broken into chunks
50g white chocolate to decorate
Crush the biscuits into crumbs. You can leave some chunks if you like but I prefer crumbs.
Melt the first 150g chocolate and mix with the biscuits.
Press evenly into a fluted ring (the one I use doesn’t have a base, it rests on a baking sheet and lifts off). Use the back of a spoon for a smooth surface.
Heat the double cream in a small pan until at a full rolling boil.
Put the 350g chocolate and butter in a mixing bowl.
Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and butter.
Leave it for a minute or two, then mix to form a smooth ganache with no lumps. The cream should be hot enough to melt all of the chocolate if you squish it against the side of the bowl.
Pour the ganache into the biscuit shell.
Melt the white chocolate and drizzle or pipe over the top of the ganache to decorate.
I hope everyone had a good Christmas! In the spirit of Boxing Day, here is a recipe for Mini Sticky Sponge Puddings to complete your food coma. It’s a little different than Christmas Pudding and still heartily good comfort food!
In my opinion there is nothing quite like a syrup sponge pudding. Previously I’ve always made big ones, because bigger is better, yes? However, I have to revise my opinion here. With these mini puddings you get the perfect amount of sticky syrup sauce to sponge ratio and the sponge is deliciously soft and sweet.
It doesn’t look like much mixture when you divide it up, but trust me, this will make the perfect little pud and a wonderful finish to any winter meal!
Makes 4 Puddings
65g butter, melted
65g golden caster sugar
1 tbsp golden syrup
4-8 tbsp golden syrup
– Heat the oven to gas mark 4/180C.
– Thoroughly butter 4 ramekin dishes.
– In a large jug melt the butter, then add the sugar and mix well.
– Beat in the egg (make sure the butter isn’t still hot!) and the golden syrup.
– Fold in the flour.
– Put 1-2 tbsp of golden syrup in the base of each pudding. If you want more syrup sauce put in more, if you just want a sticky sponge add less. Here I went for less but sometimes I want more goo!
– Bake for 25 minutes until set in the centre and deep golden brown.
– Immediately run a knife around the edge of the ramekin and CAREFULLY* turn out onto your serving plate. If you allow it to cool the syrup solidifies and your pudding will not come out. (You can microwave them for ~45 seconds to get them to release if you have leftovers.)
– Serve with cream or ice cream as you like!
* BOILING SUGAR. Do not stick your finger in it, even accidentally. Remember, I make these mistakes so you don’t have to, kids!
I have a new obsession. I don’t know what came over me. All of a sudden I woke up one day and out of nowhere I NEEDED to have cinnamon rolls! I couldn’t think about eating anything else. I just wanted cinnamon rolls. Soft, spicy, pillowy cinnamon rolls.
Now, for some people I understand that this is quite a normal state of affairs… but I don’t like cinnamon!!! Yeah, well that’s a thing of the past! I love cinnamon now! For about a week, I kid you not, I pretty much existed on a diet of cinnamon rolls. Nothing else. I couldn’t stop thinking about them and craving them, and I had to get the recipe exactly right. I had to pursue this cinnamon roll nirvana!
Happily, I think I succeeded in my quest. These cinnamon rolls are everything I dreamed of. They are soft, sweet, squishy, delicious, moreish… I’ll stop now, shall I?
Having attained my perfect cinnamon roll I am pleased to say that I have moved on to new experiments but luckily even excessive consumption hasn’t put me off these… in fact, I might just make up another pan tonight, it would be a shame not to!
– Weight out your flour into a large mixing bowl.
– Put the yeast on one side of the bowl and the salt on the other.
– Mix gently with your hand to combine everything.
– Add the butter, cut into chunks, and rub it into the flour until all chunks have disappeared.
– Make a wekk in the centre and add the egg and almost all of the milk. Hold back a little milk in reserve. You probably will need it, but you may not.
– Start mixing everything together using your hand. ( I like to keep one hand clean for holding the bowl and just use the other to get all sticky!)
– It should come together into a smooth dough, if it is still floury add the remaining milk. You want a soft, smooth dough, not too sticky, not too dry.
– Turn it out on to a lightly floured worksurface and knead it for 10 minutes until soft and elastic.
– Place in a buttered bowl and leave covered in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
– Turn out the dough on a lightly floured worksurface and roll out into a large rectangle, about 30cmx40cm.
– Brush the dough all over with melted butter.
– Sprinkle the surface evenly with sugar and cinnamon. (I’ve left how heavy to go with the cinnamon up to you, I go for less at 1tsp and find that a comfortable amount.)
– Starting from the long edge furthest away from you, tightly roll the dough towards you into a tight spiral.
– Press the edge of the dough gently to seal it together.
– Slice into 9 equal sections. (About 4-5cm each.)
– Place in a large, high baking dish cut side up.
– Leave to rise for 30 minutes.
– Bake in the oven for 25 minutes at gas mark 6 / 200C. The centres should be springy and the dough lightly browned.
– For the frosting mix together your cream cheese and icing sugar until smooth. Try to work it as little as possible. Place it in the fridge to refirm it as it will be quite runny to start with.
– If you are not eating the cinnamon rolls straight from the oven simply microwave each one for 30 seconds before icing and eating! There is little in this world more pleasurable than unrolling a warm cinnamon roll as you consume it!
NUTELLA! Is there anything finer? Nutella smothered over sweet bread? Got you covered here! Nutella is one of the finer things in life and I thought it deserved something fun so this Nutella Braided Ring was born! Just look at it! (I kinda want to lick the screen!)
This recipe uses about half a jar of Nutella. You may want to push the envelope further and use a whole jar, but don’t! Bad things will happen! (Oozing and burning things!)
It’s a tricky, sticky thing to get right but it tastes amazing, with each fold of bread hugging a ribbon of Nutella to it. It is the perfect breakfast/afternoon snack type bread, just sweet enough but still nice and filling!
250g strong bread flour
1 tsp salt
7g instant yeast
50g unsalted butter
135ml warm milk
1/2 jar Nutella (or own brand, who can really tell these days?)
– Take a large mixing bowl and add the flour, then add the salt to one side of the bowl and the yeast to the other.
– Mix it all together.
– Chop your butter up into little bits and add this along with the milk and egg.
– Get in there with one hand and mix everything together.
– Keep mixing by hand in the bowl. It will be sticky but keep going and after not too long it will start to come together into a cohesive dough.
– Once you have almost everything as one ball of dough you can turn it out onto a floured worksurface and really start kneading! (There will still be some sticky bits, you can take a small bit of dough and clean round the bowl to mop up stragglers.)
– Keep working it, the trick with a wetter dough is time!
– After about 10 minutes you should have a smooth, elastic dough.
– Place in a clean, oiled bowl, cover and place somewhere sheltered to rise for 1-2 hours until doubled in size. I found 2 hours about perfect.
– Prepare your apples.
– Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured worksurface. Do NOT knock it down.
– Simply start to roll it out with a rolling pin. You want it to be about 25cm deep and 45cm long. Try to keep it rectangular.
– Spread the Nutella in a thin layer across the dough, leaving a strip nearest you to seal it together at the end.
– Carefully roll the long end of the dough towards you, keeping the roll quite tight.
– When you have a long roll gently press to seal the dough back to itself.
– Starting about 1″ in from the end cut straight through the dough all the way along to the other end.
– Now for the messy bit! Twist each half around the other, one over the top, followed by the next, arranging the cut side so it faces uppermost.
– Gently manoeuver onto a baking tray covered in baking parchment and bring each end round to form a circle. Press the ends together gently to secure.
– Place in a plastic bag (bin bags work well here) and leave in a sheltered spot to rise for another hour.
– Heat the oven to gas mark 6/200C.
– Bake for 25 minutes.
– Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire cooling rack.
Hi, I'm Anna and this is what's going on in my kitchen and growing in my garden.
Everything you see here is how it looked as I cooked and ate it. I don't like to make things too fussy. I want you to know that if you try one of my recipes what you see is what you'll get.
Don't forget to leave a comment, I love to know what you're thinking and if you do try out a recipe then let me know how it worked for you. Happy cooking!