Tag Archives: icing sugar

Peppermint Creams

A good old-fashioned staple this one.  We used to make these a lot as kids.  I’ve made these a little more complicated by dipping them in chocolate and decorating them to look like little Christmas Puddings.  They’re a little sticky but all sweets are and they’re great fun to make.  Better yet the basic peppermint creams are really quick to make. 

Makes ~30

300g icing sugar (plus up to 50g more)
2 tbsp double cream
1 egg white
peppermint essence

– Mix together all of the ingredients in a bowl.
– Dependent on how big an egg you’ve used you may need more icing sugar to get a thick enough paste.
– Once the mixture is not longer sticky but soft and mouldable dust your hands with icing sugar and pinch off small amounts of the mixture and roll it into balls. 
– Place on a tray or chopping board covered in cling film and if you’re making flat discs press down gently with the heel of your hand. 
– Continue until all of the mixture is used up.   
– Leave to dry overnight. 
– The next day if you want chocolate dipped ones melt down 100g of chocolate and allow to cool until just warm to the touch.  If it’s still hot it will melt the peppermint creams. 
– Then dip them in it.  If you want to cover the whole thing then gently drop the peppermint cream into the chocolate, fish out with a fork, making sure it’s totally coated, and then tap firmly on the side of the bowl to get rid of any drippy chocolate.  Replace the peppermint on the tray or chopping board to dry.

To make Peppermint Puddings keep the peppermint cream as a round ball and dip in melted chocolate.  Then once that’s dried put a small spoon of melted white chocolate on the top and then mix food colouring and white chocolate together.  This will make the chocolate go weird but you can pick it up with your fingers and carefully shape the leaves and berries.  Simply press on to the white chocolate while it’s still tacky.

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Filed under Easy, Sweets

Hot Chocolate On A Stick

I’ve bought these as gifts before but when I saw a recipe for making them myself I couldn’t resist!  So cheap, so easy, so fun!  Stuff on a stick is great, I love almost any food that comes on a stick.  Hot Chocolate, even better!  You will need an icecube tray and some sticks to make these.  I went out and bought sticks from a cookware shop but if I weren’t giving them as gifts I’d have just gone into Starbucks and nicked a handful of the stirry things.  As for icecube trays the world is your oyster.  Use whatever shape you like, the big rectangular ones are great because you get a perfect amount for a standard cup of chocolate. 

Makes 10

225g chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
100g icing sugar
50g cocoa powder
tiny pinch salt

– Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of boiling water.  Don’t let the water touch the bowl. 
– Remove from the pan when it’s still got a few chunks in it and stir until they melt. 
– Add the cocoa powder, icing sugar and salt and stir until combined.  It should be very thick.
– Then pipe into your icecube tray or spoon very very carefully. 
– Add the sticks and leave to cool. 
– Turn out and package as you like. 
– To use simply put in a mug of hot milk and stir!
– Will keep for a good 6 months or longer in an airtight container.

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Filed under Drinks, Easy

100th Recipe Celebration Cake

Yay!  This is my 100th recipe posted here!  To celebrate I made a cake.  Chocolate cakes and I have a tricky relationship.  I’m very demanding when it comes to chocolate cakes.  I am after perfection!  I’m not sure I’m quite there yet but this is the best chocolate cake I’ve made yet.  It’s moist and fudgey and squishy but not too rich.  It’s quite dense but stops just short of being called brownie-like.  The best thing about it is that it can be thrown together in a blender or mixer if you don’t want to do it by hand.  It was ridiculously easy.  All in all this cake was a success. 

I was going to do fantastic things icing this cake.  I made fondant icing from scratch, well, a box of fondant icing sugar.  But I had to get the Kenwood out to mix it and spent over an hour rolling it out.  Blood, sweat and tears went into this icing, literally.  Then I finally had it rolled out to the right size.  I went to pick it up to drape it over the cake and… DISASTER.  It stuck to the plastic sheets I’d been rolling it out between and then it stuck to itself and then it fell apart.  I honestly don’t know if it was too wet, sticky, or too dry, cracked into pieces.  But I cried. 

So I just stopped with the buttercream icing and decided that may be I should practice with ready rolled a bit first.  Learn to walk before I try running if you will.  As for the decorations… well, I have the artistic ability of a drunken ferret.  I love edible ball bearings and all baked goods should be blessed with them.   Strawberries or raspberries would look great on this but they’re out of season at the minute so I used raspberry jelly sweets instead.  A layer of fresh fruit inside would be nice too. 

Makes 1×8″ cake

For the cake:
225g granulated sugar
200g plain flour
100g cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg
120ml milk
60ml vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla essence
120 ml boiling water

For the buttercream*:
180g plain chocolate
225g unsalted butter, softened
240g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence

– Heat your oven to Gas Mark 4 and prepare two 8″ sandwich tins. 
– In a large bowl mix together the sugar, flour, cocoa**, baking powder and salt. 
– Add the egg, milk, oil and vanilla essence to the dry ingredients and mix well.  It make seem very dry but keep at it.  It will come together to form a dough.  Keep mixing until it is a smooth, even consistency. 
– Add the water and mix thoroughly. 
– Pour the batter into the two tins.  If you want completely equal layers you can weigh them but I usually do it by eye. 
– Smooth the batter out so it is even. 
– Bake for 25-30 minutes.  You will be able to see if the centre is uncooked and a skewer inserted will come out clean. 
– Make up the buttercream by melting the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of boiling water.  Allow to cool.   
– Cream together the butter and the icing sugar and then add the vanilla essence. 
– Mix well then add the melted chocolate and stir thoroughly until everything is combined. 
– Leave to cool in the tin for 15 minutes or so then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. 
– Once completely cool fill between the two cakes and ice all over with the buttercream using a palette knife to smooth it over the cake. 
– Decorate as you wish. 

* I only made 2/3 this amount and it needed more so expect better coverage than seen in the photo. 
**Sift this in or you will get lumps.

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Filed under Cakes, Easy

Black Forest Cupcakes

Guilty secret time.  I have been known to buy one of those 99p frozen supermarket Black Forest Gateaux and eat the entire thing in about 20 minutes.  I LOVE Black Forest Gateaux!  In times of stress I reach for one of those and a fork.  Today has been very stressful.  Suffice to say it involved calling 6 different helpline numbers who all told me I had to speak to a different number before eventually putting me through to the first number.  Joy.  I needed cake in a serious way. 

I’ve been thinking about making these for a while now.  Traditionally a Black Forest Gateaux would need to be made with whipped cream but we didn’t have space in the fridge to store them so I opted for buttercream instead.  If you were making these for a party though I would suggest topping them with whipped cream as the flavours all go together so well.  Also if making these for kids you don’t have to put the Kirsch in.  For those of you trying to be good in the run up to Christmas the I have it on good authority from my mother that they taste great topped with creme fraiche as a low-fat alternative and they look pretty good too!*

Makes 12

For the cakes:
200g unsalted butter, softened
200g golden caster sugar
4 eggs, beaten
1 tbsp Kirsch
200g self-raising flour
25g cocoa powder

For the toppings:
1 ~425g tin cherries
2 tbsp Kirsch
5 tbsp sugar
1 tsp arrowroot powder
80g unsalted butter, softened
180g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
1-2 tbsp milk
chocolate sprinkles
12 natural coloured glace cherries

– Heat the oven to gas mark 5 and line a 12 hole muffin tin with paper cases. 
– Cream together the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy. 
– Gradually add the eggs, beating well between additions.  Aim to do this in about 6 stages for best results. 
– Stir in the Kirsch. 
– Sift in the flour and cocoa powder and fold in. 
– Divide equally between the 12 cases. 
– Bake for 20-25 minutes, testing with a skewer or tooth pick to see if they’re done. 
– Place on a wire rack to cool completely. 

– Meanwhile separate the cherries from the juice they came in and place the juice and 5 tbsp sugar in a small pan.  Pour 1 tbsp of Kirsch over the cherries. 
– Gently heat the juice until the sugar has dissolved then boil rapidly for at least 5 minutes. 
– Remove from the heat.  In a small dish mix together the arrowroot powder and last tbsp of Kirsch.  Add this to the pan. 
– Return the pan to the heat, stirring constantly until the white colour has gone and bring to boiling point. 
– Remove the pan from the heat and keep stirring until the sauce has thickened.
– Add the cherries to the sauce and allow to cool a little. 

– Trim any domes from the cupcakes, leaving a flat surface. 
– In the centre of each cupcake use a paring knife to cut a circle and remove a core from the cake leaving a hole. 
– Add a spoonful of cherries and sauce to fill each hole.  My tin had enough for exactly 3 cherries per cake.  Allow to stand for a minute or two then add more of the sauce. 

– In a small bowl mix together the butter and 80g of icing sugar until smooth. 
– Add the rest of the icing sugar, the vanilla and 1 tbsp of milk. 
– Mix together until totally smooth adding more milk if necessary. 

– Pipe the buttercream on top of the cupcake, sprinkle with chocolate and add a glace cherry. 

*Here is the low-fat(ish) version:

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Filed under Cupcakes and Muffins, Moderately easy

Madeleines

Tonight I finally made madeleines!  I have been desperate to make madeleines for weeks now but my main problem was that I didn’t own a madeleine tin.  I did a lot of research and visited every cookware store in the area but couldn’t find what I was after. Madeleine tins are elusive!  The one tin I could find had poorly defined edges and I thought that at that price it should be perfect.  Eventually I managed to find one on ebay for £8.50, only a 9 hole silicon one but it had nice crisp looking edges so I bought it.  Even better, when it arrived it was not evil orange as in the picture but a lovely red colour.  It arrived earlier this week and I would have made them before this evening but I was dead of cold, hence my lack of posts recently.  I had taken to my bed and stayed there!  Tonight, after over 12 hours sleep, I finally felt relatively well again and I couldn’t wait to get in the kitchen.  The time for madeleines had come! 

Madeleine

I chose this madeleine recipe from the dozens and dozens I’ve looked at because it didn’t use baking powder.  I was always told that if you use baking powder in a recipe you should cook it as soon as possible as it activates as soon as it is mixed with liquid.  Since madeleine recipes generally call for a period of rest before cooking I couldn’t quite see the logic in adding it.  I also liked it because it didn’t make dozens and dozens as most recipes seem to.  The end result is a beautiful light little cake, a perfect addition to afternoon tea I would say, although they were equally good as dessert.  I made them with orange flower water this time but next time may try for a lemon or vanilla flavour.  In an interesting discovery my mother can’t seem to taste orange flower water when I cook with it.  It’s more of an aroma than a solid taste but I love the delicate nature of it, to my mother it just doesn’t seem to register. 

Vanilla Madeleines

Makes 12 (Doubles easily to make ~21)

50g unsalted butter
1 large egg
40g caster sugar
pinch of salt
45g plain flour
1 tbsp orange flower water/1 tsp vanilla essence/zest of half a lemon
icing sugar for dusting

– First melt the butter and allow to cool.  (I usually microwave for 1 minute if straight from  the fridge but even so it sometimes explodes so cover it!)
– Beat together the sugar, egg and salt for 5 minutes using an electric mixer on high.  It should become thick and pale, or as the recipe said “as thick as mayonnaise”. 
– Sift in the flour (don’t just put it in you want to keep as much air as possible in the mixture). 
– Lightly fold in the flour then add the butter and orange flower water/vanilla/lemon.  Mix well but not too much as you are trying to keep it light and airy. 
– Leave to rest in the fridge for 1 hour. 
– Remove from the fridge and allow to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. 
– Heat the oven to gas mark 7 and grease the moulds with a little melted butter. 
– Put one spoonful of mixture in each scallop, don’t fill the scallop, it will spread out when it goes in the oven. 
– Bake for 12 minutes.  (If you only have a 9 hole tin like I do then do it in two batches.)
– Turn out onto a rack to cool* and then dust with icing sugar before serving warm or cold. 

*I’ve never cooked with silicone before, except for the odd bun case, I was very impressed with how easy it was and how well they came out of the mould, I just tipped it upside down et voila, out they came!  I did stand it on a baking tray to cook though as I was worried that the wire racks in the oven wouldn’t keep it straight.

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Filed under Easy, Teatime Treats

Butter Cut Out Biscuits

I finally got around to trying out a recipe from Nigella Lawson’s How To Be A Domestic Goddess but as always I changed a few things round and the method is my own words.  I have been looking for, and been disappointed by, recipes for cut out biscuits for years now and with this one I may have just about cracked it!  My previous attempts have always been to crunch, too soft or plain just didn’t taste any good!  This biscuit comes out beautifully, neither crunchy nor squishy it is just a simple, flakey butter biscuit.  The point, of course, of cut out biscuits is to have something to decorate.  They really are just a vehicle for pretty icing.  These certainly fulfil all of their obligations.  My icing isn’t any good yet but that will come with practice and until then I get to eat lots of biscuits! 

The other excellent thing I found with this recipe is that it’s designed to make double what you’ll need (unless feeding a very large party) and you then freeze the second lot until later when you just defrost and off you go.  I love to cook but I managed to give myself a blister from too much creaming butter and sugar by hand when I made these (I was on a bit of a baking bender!) so I’m very happy to think that all the hard work has been done and there’s a fresh batch of biscuits just sitting there waiting for me in the freezer. 

I made these in the recent Halloween Extravaganza so spooky shapes they were.  I’m sure eating this much black icing is bad for me but I’m pretty certain that these biscuits are getting better as the days go by.  Obviously I’ll be doing this again at Christmas!  One word of warning though, make sure the icing is totally dry before boxing them and if you have anything like the cats here with narrow extremities then be very, very careful as they will snap quite easily.  I have a box full of deformed cats now! 

Butter Cut Out Biscuits

Makes 2 large baking trays worth (the number depends on how big, or small, your cutters are)

175g butter
200g golden caster sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
400g plain flour (you will probably need more, I needed another few good spoonfuls)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
300g icing sugar
a few tbsp lemon juice
food colouring

– Cream together the butter and the sugar until pale and fluffy. 
– Beat together the eggs and vanilla and gradually add to the creamed butter and sugar, mixing thoroughly between each addition. 
– Add the flour, baking powder and salt and mix well until it forms a soft dough.  You will probably need to add more flour to get it to the point where the dough stops sticking enough to roll it out.  It will be chilled so don’t add too much flour, just enough to make it more of a dough
– Halve the dough, form each half into flatish discs and wrap each half in cling film. 
– Chill for at least 1 hour.  If not using freeze one half. 
– Meanwhile heat the oven to gas mark 4 and prepare two large baking trays. 
– Lightly flour a surface and rolling-pin and roll out one batch of the dough to a thickness of about 5mm.
– Cut out your chosen shapes and place on the prepared baking trays leaving a little space between each. 
– Bake for about 12 minutes until the edges are just turning golden brown.
– Take out and leave to cool completely on a rack. 
– To make the icing mix the icing sugar with a little lemon juice until a soft paste forms.  Divide up into whatever colours you want. 
– For more accurate icing it may be best to first pipe an outline round the biscuit with slightly more viscous icing then flood the inside with more liquid icing guiding it slightly with a toothpick to fill out to the edges.*  Alternatively you can just  carefully spoon icing over let any excess drip off to be cleaned up later or even use icing bags for the entire thing if more intricate patterns are required.  If doing this with kids I suggest buying a few tubes of writing icing and just letting rip, it’s much easier than trying to control errant icing bags.  After you’ve iced your biscuit add any other decorations you like before the icing sets. 
– Leave to set and then keep in an airtight container until needed. 

*This is what I did although I’ll certainly be considering ‘cheating’ and buying writing icing next time!

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Filed under Cookies and Biscuits, Easy

Christmas Muffins

It may seem a little early to be starting on Christmas baking but there is a very good reason for this.  My nextdoor neighbour and I were talking and she mentionned that she needed a baking project for her class to do for the Christmas fair to raise funds but that there were a number of criteria that needed to be met, no boring fairy cakes, for example!  I thought I’d seen a recipe somewhere about that would work but it proved to be a figment of my imagination.  So I decided to invent something that would, hopefully, work.  These are the delightful result!

They have all the tastes of Christmas but not in an overwhelming way.  I have to confess I don’t usually like Christmassy flavoured things, I eat Christmas pudding after Christmas dinner because it’s traditional not because I like it.  However, I really liked these muffins.  They had all of the flavours but lacked the heavy, stodgy feeling I usually associate with Christmas foods.  All in all a great experiment and come Christmas I shall certainly be making these again. 

Christmas Muffins

Makes 6

150g mixed dried fruits
zest and juice of 1 orange
50g dark muscoavdo sugar
125ml milk
1 egg
2 tbsp sunflower oil
150g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp mixed spice
pinch of salt
100g icing sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
Holly berry and leaf decorations (I made leaves out of white icing and green colouring and berries out of glace cherry bits)

– Heat the oven to gas mark 6 and prepare 6 holes of a muffin tin. 
– Combine the fruit and orange zest and juice in a microwavable dish and microwave for 2 minutes.  Alternately leave them to soak for an hour. 
– Beat together the sugar, milk, egg and oil.   
– Sift the flour, baking podwer, nutmeg, mixed spice and salt into the mixture.
– Fold in gently. 
– Add the mixed fruits and stir in. 
– Divide the mixture evenly between the six cases. 
– Bake for 20-25 minutes. (Mine took 25)
– Remove from the oven and leave to cool a little in the tin then place on a wire rack to cool completely. 
– Mix together the icing sugar and the lemon juice until smooth. 
– Once the muffins have cooled spoon a little of the icing over each muffin. 
– Add the holly decorations and leave to set.

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Filed under Christmas, Cupcakes and Muffins, Easy