Tag Archives: vanilla

No Churn Ice Cream

I saw this recipe last year in Good Food … actually, thinking about it it could even have been the year before.  Anyway, it was a very long time ago.  I duly bookmarked it, thought “Gosh, what a good idea!” and forgot about it.  What a mistake to make! All this time I could have been enjoying delicious, EASY, homemade ice cream!  Because we all know that food you’ve made yourself a) tastes better and b) has no calories, right? Right?

Just pretend you can see the ice cream for all the strawberries, yeah? I grew 3 of those babies! First helping of the year! Woohoo! (Helping is generous, yes, but my strawberry plants have not been happy this year so I’m ecstatic!) I can testify that this ice cream is delicious in many ways: on its own, with cherry sauce, with chocolate sauce and with strawberries.  I tested it well for you!

Makes 1.3 (ish) litres (a Mackie’s 1l tub and about a bowl full top of that) (The recipe said a large loaf tin)

600ml double cream
~200g condensed milk (1/2 a tin)
1 tsp vanilla extract
~1/3 of a vanilla pod

– Put the cream, condensed milk and vanilla extract in a large mixing bowl.
– Split the vanilla pod and use the back of a knife to scrape out the seeds and add these to the mixture.
– Use an electric whisk (or really epic elbow grease) beat the mixture until it reaches stiff peaks.  (Recipe said clotted cream consistency.)
– Scrape the mixture into your chosen receptacle(s) and freeze until solid.

 

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Filed under Desserts, Easy

Cheesecake Bars

When I lived in Tokyo I would usually pick up breakfast on my way to uni.  If there is one thing I miss the most about Japan it is the convenience stores, or conbini, they were just brilliant!  You want a kitkat, a bottle of mikan juice and a bowl of hot macaroni cheese at 3am?  Done!  Japanese food was just amazing in all ways, even the rubbish, but I digress.  Every morning for a good few months I would stop off at a particular store on my trip to uni and I would buy myself a carton of cafe latte and a cheesecake bar.  It was just a simple stick of baked cheesecake.  No biscuit, no flavouring, just cheesecake plain and simple. 

For Christmas I got a silicone baking mould that forms 12 bars.  I had asked for a 9 hole mini loaf tray but such a creature does not exist it would seem and the closest “Mother Christmas” could come was a 12 hole bar tray from France.  The first thing I thought of when I saw this tray was, “Well that’d make funny shaped loaves.”, the second thing I thought was, “But I could make cheesecake bars!”  And so last night, when I was in serious need of some baking therapy having just watched Doctor Who, I did. 

This cheesecake recipe is the simplest thing in the world only 5 ingredients!  I think I first saw this recipe in a supermarket magazine as a project for kids but it is now one of my emergency recipes as it takes so few ingredients.  I like to make it after dinner because then you can just leave it and forget about it while it cools in the oven overnight and it’s not taking any time away from other things.  Also you get to breakfast on cheesecake and what’s better than that?

Makes 12 bars.  If you don’t have a fancy mould like mine then you could probably just use a brownie or square cake tin and cut it up. 

2 large eggs
400g soft cheese
125g caster sugar
4 tbsp creme fraiche
1 tsp vanilla extract
the seeds from half a vanilla pod

Step 1: Assemble your ingredients.

[I changed my mind about the orange half way through and decided to keep it pure with the vanilla but you can easily substitute the vanillas for the zest and 3tbsp of juice from an orange, lemon or lime.  We keep our vanilla pods in the sugar jar, as you can just see, it gives a light hint of flavour to the sugar and stores the vanilla well.]

– Preheat the oven to gas mark 4 and grease your mould, tin or tray with melted butter. 
– In a medium sized mixing bowl beat the eggs. 
– Add the cream cheese and beat until smooth. 

It will look like this but keep beating...

...and it will look like this!

– Add the sugar, vanillas and creme fraiche and beat until well combined. 
– Pour into your chosen mould and  bake for 30 minutes. 
– Turn off the oven and leave overnight or until completely cool. 
– Turn out, and slice if necessary, and serve!

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Filed under Easy, Teatime Treats

Arancello

This is my new favourite drink.  I made up a batch of it to give as Christmas gifts and I had some left over for myself.  I will certainly be making this again and again all year round.  It’s absolutely delicious!  It’s theoretically related to Limocello the Italian lemon flavoured drink but with oranges instead. 

I’m currently drinking it mixed with cranberry and raspberry juice over crushed ice, or snow as available, and with a sprinkle of edible gold glitter.  I think I’m calling it ‘The Northern Lights’ as the colours go deliciously swirly.  I may change the name when I get a newer carton of cranberry juice as this one’s kind of a funny colour but still delicious! 

Makes 2.5 litres

1 l vodka, doesn’t have to be good
peel of 4 oranges plus 1 orange for later
1 cinnamon stick
1 vanilla pod, split length ways
4 cardamon seeds
600g granulated sugar
500ml boiling water

– First you will need to find 2 large bottles or jars to take 2.5l liquid by the end of this process and give them a good clean.  I used 2 glass Italian milk bottles but obviously those are hard to come by. 
– Split the vodka between each bottle. 
– Peel the oranges using a vegetable peeler and be careful not to get any of the white pith along with the peel as it is very bitter. Cut into short strips and divide equally between the bottles. 
– Break the cinnamon stick in half and add that. 
– Put half the vanilla pod and 2 cardamon seeds in each bottle. 
– The bottles should now be about half full.  Put the lids on and keep them in a dark place, shaking every day. 
– After a week mix together the boiling water and sugar in a large jug and stir until the sugar is dissolved. 
– Divide this between the two bottles. 
– Put the lids back on and return to the cool dark place for another week, again shaking every day. 
– After this week is up decant into fancy bottles, straining out the bits and pieces.  Add a strip of peel from the remaining orange and a cinnamon stick to these bottles then either store and keep for yourself or give as gifts.  You can be sure the recipients will be very greatful! 

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Filed under Christmas, Drinks, Easy

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

Cupcakes 2

I received a cupcake cookbook I’d ordered today, Cupcakes by Susannah Blake, which was very inspirational.  It’s a lovely little book, it has a decent basic recipe and then lots of variations in both flavours and toppings.  Not only is there the simple recipe but lots of other recipes like gluten and dairy free or polenta based.  All in all a good book.  However, there is no way that I can see that her 115g recipe will make 12 muffin tin cupcakes unless the cases are very short.  My basic recipe uses 200g and usually makes 13, I like to ‘test’ the extra one to ensure quality control!  With a 12 hole muffin pan I usually put a muffin case in a ramekin dish et voila, an extra space!  May be I’m just using extra large paper cases but either way I ignored her recipe today and went with my own. 

The reason I was making cupcakes was because it was the dog’s first birthday.  Don’t worry, I’m not really that kind of person but it seemed a good excuse for cake!  He has a very sweet tooth so he got given the 13th cake with peanut butter as icing and chocolate dog treats to decorate.  Naturally he got a candle too but he wasn’t allowed to eat that!

Cupcakes

Makes 13

200g butter, softened
200g golden caster sugar
4 eggs, beaten
the seeds from 1/2 a vanilla pod*
200g flour
2 tbsp milk
150g icing sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice
natural pink food colouring
decorations

– Heat the oven to gas mark 5 and line a muffin tin with paper cases and a ramekin with one case. 
– Cream together the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy.  If your sugar is lumpy use the back of a spoon to break it up before adding the butter to make things easier for yourself. 
– In a separate jug beat the eggs and vanilla seeds. 
– Add the egg to the mixture a bit at a time beating thoroughly between each addition.  If it curdles then add a tbsp of the flour and carry on. 
– Add the flour and fold it in. 
– When thoroughly combined stir through the milk. 
– Divide the mixture evenly between the cases.  I use an ice cream scoop, one of the ones that you squeeze and a little metal bit runs round the inside, to measure out the mixture. 
– Bake for 18-20 minutes then remove and test with a skewer, the skewer should come out clean. 
– Place on a wire rack to cool completely before icing. 

Cooling Cupcakes

– To make the icing mix the icing sugar and lemon juice together.  It should be spoonable but not too runny.  If necessary add more lemon juice a few drops at a time, it’s better to add a little at a time as you can always add more but you can’t take it out! 
– Divide the icing into two and add a cap full of food colouring to one bowl, Mix well. 
– Place a heaped teaspoon of icing on each cake and use the back of the spoon to gently guide it.  Place your decoration of choice on top immediately. 

* To get the seeds out of the vanilla pod carefully split it lengthways and then use the back of the knife to scrape along gathering up the seeds as it goes.  #

The dog’s birthday cake:
Frodo's Birthday Cake

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Filed under Cupcakes and Muffins, Easy