Sunday, 18 January 2015

Jaffa Chocolate Pots

Is it just me or is there a disproportionally large number of telly programmes on at the moment about the lives of the very wealthy, their super cars, luxurious holidays, humongous mansions and considerably inflated bank accounts? 

Take the BBC's 'Inside Necker Island: A Billionaire's Paradise', on our screens the first week of January and possibly the cruelest bit of TV scheduling ever. Chilly, dark, impoverished January evenings are never, ever improved by watching an hour of rich people paying £30,000 per week to frolic in azure blue seas, sunbathe on long stretches of golden sand and sip piƱa coladas by the infinity pool. Or the uber-richskis on 'Super-Rich and Us' spending over £50,000 in all of five seconds in the back of a limo on diamond jewellery when the rest of us are counting our pennies until payday. 

The answer for us mere mortals? These Jaffa Chocolate Pots: an indulgent, glorious taste of paradise. And should you need another excuse to make them (really, you do?) lets celebrate chocolate in the week that Cadbury's rather outrageously revealed their Creme Eggs are no longer made from Daily Milk but a “standard cocoa mix chocolate”. I'm not sure what a 'standard cocoa mix chocolate' is either, but it certainly sounds unappealing vile*. 

*Sure, I haven't tasted the new version but really Cadbury's, really. 

Jaffa Chocolate Pots
(Makes 4 generous pots)

250g chocolate 
300g double cream
2 tbsp Cointrou Orange Liqour (optional)
4 clementines or satsumas
2 Cadbury's Flake (or similar)

1. Melt the chocolate in a small glass bowl suspended over a saucepan of gently simmering water, stirring regularly. Once melted, remove from the heat.
2. Whip the cream until just thickened and fold in the melted chocolate and liqour 
3. Divide between four glasses or ramekins and chill for at least two hours. Top with the clementine/satsuma segments and crushed Flake bars

Baker's notes...

  • I used Cadbury's Dairy Milk in homage to this week's events but darker chocolate would add a lovely, rich taste
  • These pots can also be left to chill overnight and are a rather fine make-ahead dessert

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Chicken, Bacon and Mushroom Winter Warmer Pie

Ahhhh January. Drab, dull and for many of my friends, colleagues and, it seems most of the nation, now dry. January arrives after the jolly festivities and frivolities of December like an unwanted guest arriving as the party is ending. 

Frankly, hedgehogs have it right. We all ought to hibernate throughout these thirty one days. I most definitely have enough 'fat reserves' from Christmas to keep me going until March. But, in the event you aren't a cute but prickly little creature, I have the answer: pie. 

Put aside the detox regimes and rice cakes*: this pie is both comforting for the long dark nights and the perfect foodie antidote to January-blues. 

Beko are promoting their unique Freezer Guard technology, which allows you to store your freezer in a garage or any other unheated room and your appliance will continue to work at temperatures as low as -15°C or 5°F. As part of this campaign they are asking bloggers for freezer-friendly recipes. Such as this glorious, January-busting pie packed full of cockles-of-your-heart-warming loveliness.

*A rice cake really, really isn't a cake. Ever.

Chicken, Bacon and Mushroom Winter Warmer Pie 

1 tbsp oil 
4 skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
8 rashers smoky bacon
1 onion, sliced
225g leeks, sliced
250g pack baby button mushrooms
2 tbsp cornflour, mixed with 2 tbsp water
400ml chicken stock
200ml milk (plus a tsp for brushing)
225g carrots, cut into thin slices 
1 heaped tbsp chopped flat-leaf or curly parsley
500g puff pastry

1. Heat the oil in a large, non-stick frying pan. 
2. Fry the chicken on a medium heat until golden brown, turning occasionally. Lift the chicken onto a plate and set aside. Tip the bacon into the pan. Fry for 5 mins until crisp. Add the onion, leeks mushrooms and fry on a high heat for another few minutes until the onions start to colour.
3. Add the flour mixture to the pan and cook, stirring, for 1 min. With the pan off the heat, gradually whisk in the stock, followed by the milk, then add the chicken back to the pan. Add in the carrots and parsley 
4. Place the pan back on the heat and bring to the boil, then simmer for 30 mins. 
5. Spoon the filling into your pie dish. Leave aside to cool while preparing the pastry
6. Heat the oven to 220C/fan 200C/gas mark 7
7. On a floured surface, roll the pastry to the thickness of two £1 coins. Lift the pastry over the pie, using the rolling pin to assist. Brush lightly with a tsp of milk and bake for thirty minutes or until the pastry is golden brown

Baker's notes...

  • This recipe is inspired by BBC Good Food 
  • To freeze: simply make up the pie and freeze until ready to bake 
  • What foodie delights get you through January?
With thanks to Beko, who sent vouchers to cover the cost of ingredients for this pie

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Baking Trends 2015


Roll up, roll up, its time for the annual gaze into the foodie crystal ball to see exactly what 2015 has in store. Are marshmallows still going to have their moment? Will the Cronut still be king? And will we finally tire and say bye to the burger?*

Disclaimer: Please note in four years of Baking Trends, a grand total of ... erm... three two predictions have been correct.

Coconut Sugar

image:Real Food Store

Coconut water was soooo 2014. Coconut sugar is the new 'heathier' sweetener, sure to pop up in a good-for-you bake near you this year


Erm, our morning bowl of cereal has pretty much always been on-trend in our place, but apparently this year breakfast is going to be a 'bigger deal'.


Not the ciggie kind. Smoked food, such as Smoked butter. You can even buy smoking guns in high street cook shops. Smoked Victoria Sponge anyone?

Salted Bacon Chocolate

All excellent, excellent ingredients. Separately that is. I'm not convinced I'll be swapping my Dairy Milk for Salted Bacon Chocolate any time soon

Mini Desserts

Nooooo, I really object to this trend! Desserts should never, ever be described as 'small', 'mini' or 'tiny'. But apparently mini puds, such as small hot chocolates and chocolate chip cookies are soon to be seen on restaurant menus

image: huffingdon post

Nuts are the number one for 2015. Think almond rose shortbread and pumpkin praline fudge

Foodie mash-ups

Expect more foodie mash-ups over the next twelve months. If the Salted Bacon Chocolate counts, I'll skip this particular trend thank you very much

No Bake Cheesecake

I'm all for no-fuss recipes such as the no-bake cheesecake

In other breaking news and for those on a New Year health kick, cauliflower is the new kale. Suffice to say, I never, ever thought I'd be writing that on this sweet-toothed blog.

Anyway, a very, very Happy New Year to you all!

* As if. You'd be more likely to see this blog feature a year's worth of cauliflower recipes than the nation giving up its favourite gourmet fast food treat.

Monday, 22 December 2014

Happy Christmas!

With just three days to go until the Big Ho Ho Ho, we're heading off to a little cottage, aptly called "Christmas Cottage" (no, really) for a few days of festive fun.

Which just leaves me to wish you all a very, very Happy Christmas with my Christmas Cake offering, based, as always, on Delia's classic recipe.

A very Merry Christmas to you all!

Kate x

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Christmas Baking: Gingerbread Latte Cupcakes

There are approximately eleven days, fifteen hours, nine minutes and twenty eight seconds until Christmas Day.

That sentence will either fill you with a cold-sweated, panicked dread or result in a excitable yelp of 'Ding Dong!' followed by 'Merrily on High' possibly accompanied by a dance of pure, unadulterated child-like joy.

I'm firmly in the latter camp- as evidenced by my rather festive-fueled next seven days. This week I'm attending two work Christmas 'dos', two Carol services, one Christmas market, one Christmas lunch, one showing of 'It's a Wonderful Life', buying the very last of the presents, eating approximately twelve Mince Pies and fourteen satsumas, finishing off another seven days worth of advent calendar without sharing any with my husband and decorating one Christmas Cake (design yet to be confirmed; please suggest any answers on the back of a postcard Christmas Card).

And definitely tucking into one or two of these festive little cupcakes, inspired by a favourite warming drink available in most high street coffee shops this time of year:

Gingerbread Latte Cupcakes

For the Cupcakes:
175g unsalted butter
175g soft brown sugar
3 large eggs
175g self-raising flour
2 tsps ground ginger
0.5tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp of milk, if needed

For the frosting:

150g icing sugar
75g softened butter
2 tsp instant coffee granules mixed with 1 tbsp boiling water
Edible glitter and crystallised ginger to decorate

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/Gas Mark 4. Prepare the baking tray with twelve cupcake cases
2. To make the cupcakes: cream together the butter and sugar for several minutes until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs, adding a tbsp of flour if the mixture begins to curdle.
3. Sift in the flour and spices and fold together. Add the milk if needed to ensure a 'dropping' consistency'
4. Spoon into the cupcake cases and bake for 15-20 minutes until golden and risen. Set aside on a cooling rack to cool
5. To make the icing: Sift the icing sugar into a large bowl and beat in the butter and coffee. Pipe over the cooled cupcakes and decorate with a little golden shimmer and crystallised ginger

Baker's notes...

  • I added a little extra Christmasssy sparkle to the top of the cupcakes with some gold shimmer from Waitrose
  • Yep, you read it right, there is 2 tsps of ground ginger in the recipe- to ensure the flavour is really enjoyed
  • The BBC have a lovely recipe for a salted caramel icing to add to their gingerbread cupcake recipe

    Tuesday, 9 December 2014

    Save The Children Christmas Jumper Day: Gingerbread Jumper Biscuits

    At this time of year, 95% of the time you'll find me (greedily) indulging in my eighth mince pie of the day, warming up another (enormous) vat of mulled wine and singing along (badly) to 'Good King Wencesles'. All the while dressed in a Christmas jumper, my uniform every December.

    And this year there's an even better excuse to wear your favourite Christmas Jumper: Save the Children are calling on everyone to 'Make the World Better With a Sweater'. This Friday, 12th December 2014, don your snazziest,  festive jumper and spread the jumper joy. 

    Save the Children’s Christmas Jumper Day is now in its third year and, thanks to fantastic supporters popping on their pullovers up and down the nation, they've raised more than £1.6 million to date. They're asking grown-ups for a suggested donation of £2 and schools and children for £1. The money raised will help save lives; just £2 could pay for potentially life-saving antibiotics to treat three babies with infections.

    Jumper in the wash? Get creative: Save The Children asked if I'd donate a jumper recipe and you'll find the Gingerbread Biscuit Jumper recipe right here. Other great ideas include knitting mini Christmas jumper bunting and crafting Christmas jumper cards


    Please do wear a woolly or bake a jumper biscuit and spread the jumper joy this December, all the while raising vital funds for a very important charity. Happy baking!

    Many thanks,

    Kate x

    Thursday, 4 December 2014

    Christmas Baking: Festive Almond, Orange and Pistachio Biscotti

    A couple of weeks back I was invited by Argos to film a few fun, family friendly and fabulously tasty Christmas recipes. 

    The third and final in the series are these Festive Almond, Orange and Pistachio Biscotti. The perfect festive foodie gift for all those who share my sweet tooth!

    Festive Almond, Orange and Pistachio Biscotti

    200g plain flour
    50g ground almonds
    2 level tsp baking powder
    2 tsp mixed spice
    150g caster sugar 
    Zest of 1 orange
    2 eggs, beaten
    50g flaked almonds
    50g shelled pistachios
    50g candied orange peel

    1. Heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/Gas Mark 4. Grease and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. 
    2. Put the flour, ground almonds, baking powder, spice and sugar in a large bowl and mix together. Stir in the zest and beaten eggs and, using your hands, bring the dough together. Knead the dough until well combined- it will initially appear very dry but will soon combine together. Work in the almonds, pistachios and peel.
    3. Divide the dough into two and roll each ball into a long sausage shape. Place on the baking sheets and bake for 25-30 minutes until risen and firm to touch. Remove from the oven and, after a few minutes, once cool enough to handle, cut the dough into 1 cm biscuits, on the diagonal. 
    4. Turn the oven down to 140C/120Cfan/Gas Mark 1. Lay the biscuits flat and bake for a further fifteen minutes. Remove from the oven and turn the biscuits over and bake for another 15 minutes. The biscuits will be golden and dry. 
    5. Once cooled completely, store in an airtight box for up to a month

    These videos were produced in association with Argos. Many of the equipment used on-set can be found at Argos, including a range of electric cookers, including integrated appliances, the Dualit toaster and even the cheery apron.

    This post is in collaboration with Argos.