Chewy Chocolate Love Bites

They say the easiest and quickest way to a man’s heart, or anyone’s heart for that matter is through food. Cover that food in chocolate and for the man in my life I’ve pretty much won him over for life.

Truth be told I basically made these by accident using the remains of a puffed rice mould I was putting together for an anti-gravity cake. With a lot of mixture spare I couldn’t bear the thought of throwing it away so decided to roll the rest into balls. A plain puffed rice ball isn’t exactly something to sing and dance about, but coating them in silky dark chocolate and topping with exciting textures/flavours changes the game completely.

Within less than 30 minutes I had delicious and delightfully pretty bites and I only had to show Liam the tray before they were gone.


Makes | 12 bites

Preparation time | 20-30 minutes


200g puffed rice

200g marshmallows

50g unsalted butter

400g dark chocolate

Toppings to decorate (e.g. desiccated coconut, chopped nuts, sprinkles)

1 tbsp olive oil


In a pan melt the butter then add the marshmallows stirring together until the marshmallows have melted completely.

Once fully melted add the puffed rice and combine until fully coated. Tip out into a large mixing bowl and leave to cool for 10 minutes. Warning the mixture will be extremely sticky until it’s cooled.

While the mixture is cooling down chop your chocolate and melt in a medium mixing bowl over a pan of simmering water. Once melted leave to one side while you shape the bites.

Before dipping your hands in the marshmallow mixture, line a baking tray with parchment paper and rub the olive oil between your hands to avoid the mixture getting stuck to your hands.

Okay here goes this could get messy. Take a heaped tbsp. size of the mixture and roll it together in your palm of your hands. Place the ball onto the parchment paper and continue until you have gone through the entire bowl.

Now to get dipping. Set up your bowl of melted chocolate and toppings next to your baking tray of bites and one by one plunge the bites into the chocolate with a spoon coating them completely. Lift them out and pop back onto the baking tray.

Once all 12 bites have been coated pop into a freezer for 5 minutes to let them set a little, then bring them back out and dunk them for a second coat. This time sprinkle with your chosen toppings when back on the baking tray.

Freeze for another 5 minutes then serve.

Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Gingerbread Cottage Cupcakes

Two weeks today and I’ll be basting the turkey, criss-crossing the sprouts, and getting drunk on festive spirit at the first ever hosted Christmas in our new house. I’m giddy in anticipation but need to be escorted away from my credit card and every Christmas Homeware department pronto – I’m out of control. Technically it’s an investment as we’ll be using it all for years to come, but we all know I’ll be “refreshing” with new themes next year as “Nordic Hygge” is going to be so 2016.

Gingerbread houses have adorned my Instagram and Pinterest feed over these leading weeks and I’m completely obsessed, so instead of bringing wine and flowers to a recent party, I bought Gingerbread Cottages on cupcakes.

Now don’t judge me, but although I have made these cupcakes with the real homemade gingerbread, the images seen attached are made using Lakeland’s amazing Make Your Own Gingerbread Cottage kit. It’s a long story but I needed these cupcakes baked and out for the party pronto and completely ran out of time to cut out my own templates. With no printer or cardboard at home I turned to my hero of the hour Lakeland who completely saved my bacon.

I will disclaim however how easy making your own gingerbread is, so if you fancy giving the real deal a go then see my recipe below with details on where to find a super straight forward template.

There’s no shying from the ginger with these ones so you need to be fan, however even loathers of ginger can make these and get “almost” as big a kick from the beauty of their Bavarian Cupcake village….what? I said “almost”


Makes | 12 cupcakes

Preparation time | 3 hours

Baking time | 1 hour


For the cupcakes

200g self-raising flour

200g butter, softened

200g caster sugar

1 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp cinnamon

5 drops Foodie Flavours Ginger flavouring

3 eggs

1 tbsp milk

For the Gingerbread cottages

500g plain flour

200g golden syrup

120g caster sugar

120g butter, softened

1 egg

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg


Preheat the oven to 160 degrees and line a cupcake tray.

Cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy then add the eggs one at a time.

Drop in the ginger flavouring and in a separate bowl combine the flour, baking soda and spices.

Add the flour to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined, then add the milk and stir through.

Divide the batter between all cupcake cases and bake for 30 – 35 minutes, or until a cake tester (a tooth pick will also do) comes out clean.

Leave to cool and start on your vanilla buttercream.

Mix your butter and icing sugar together with the vanilla and mix until soft and fluffy.

Pour the buttercream into a piping bag with a swirl nozzle then pipe buttercream mounds onto each cupcake.


To make the cottages:

Begin by mixing the flour with the baking soda and leave to one side.

Heat the golden syrup, sugar and spices until melted, then add the butter and let it melt slowly into the hot mixture.

Create a well in the centre of the flour mix and pour in the warm mixture, combining it all together with your hands.

Knead the dough together to create a smooth dough then shape into a ball and wrap into cling film. Cool in the fridge for 30 minutes.

While your dough is chilling draw and cut out your templates. I found an amazing template from Sainsburys which you may also find useful.

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees and take your chilled dough and roll out onto a floured surface until 5mm thick.

For each cottage you need 2x Front panels, 2x side and 2 x roof. Cut round your template and lay them out onto a lined baking tray.

Bake for 10 – 15 minutes or until slightly browned at the edges, then use a palette knife to lift from the baking tray and onto the cooling rack.

Once cooled assemble your houses with royal icing and decorate as you wish.

Leave to one side for the icing to set then place a cottage on top of each cupcake with a dusting of icing sugar for good measure.

Christmas Pudding Cookies with Foodie Flavours

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So here we are, it’s 35 days till Christmas and I’ve been waiting patiently for over a week to get these out to you. The start of November may seem like a little early to be Christmas baking and while photographing these in my Kitchen liam did quite literally say “bit early for this isn’t it”, but each year Christmas literally creeps up on before I’ve had chance to pack away the decorations from the year previous so I had to give myself a head start this year.

If I had any more patience I may have been able to wait another week before publishing these, but the Cocacola advert is officially on air and well if they can start Christmas now then so can I.

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Christmas pudding is historically prepared at least 6 weeks before the big day but half my family hate it so I haven’t seen much point in making the effort even though I absolutely love it. However, when Foodie Flavours natural food flavouring sent me a box of their flavour drops including an Xmas Pudding one I couldn’t resist making my own mini Christmas Puddings in cookie form.

Now the idea was that I’d have my own batch little puddings to enjoy, but obviously Liam had a taste and decided he must actually LIKE Christmas pudding now *eye rolls* so I reluctantly shared!

Further feedback has indicated these taste better than Christmas pudding so I think I’ll claim these a triumph! Thanks Foodie Flavours!!

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Makes | 16 cookies

Preparation time | 20 minutes

Baking time | 10 minutes


100g butter

100g dark brown sugar

2 tbsp Golden syrup

1 tbsp milk

175g plain flour

2 tbsp cacao powder

2 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 1/2 tsp bicarbonate soda

1 1/2 baking powder

5 drops Foodie Flavours Xmas Pudding flavouring

200g White chocolate

100g green fondant

Red cake sprinkles


Preheat the oven to 180C/160C and prepare 2 trays lined with baking paper or silicone.

In a large bowl combine the flour, cacao powder,  spices, baking powder and bicarbonate soda. Add the butter and rub in with your fingertips until you get breadcrumb texture. Then stir in the sugar.

Mix golden syrup with the milk until it has dissolved then add your Xmas Pudding flavouring. Add this to your flour mix and combine together with your hands to create a dough.

Break off small pieces about 7g in weight and roll into a ball. Then space them out on the trays leaving enough room for them to expand.

Bake for 10 minutes, keeping a close eye on them as they can burn quick.

Leave them on a wire rack to cool before getting on with the decoration.

For the pudding effect melt your white chocolate in a microwave or over a pan of simmering water. Let the chocolate cool a little then begin dipping half your cooled biscuits into the bowl. Tip them upside down and let the chocolate drip down slightly to create the melting effect. Leave them to one side to set.

In the meantime roll out your green fondant and using a mini leaf cutter or holly cutter if you have one cut out two leaves per cookie. If you have no cutter you can cut out triangles for a similar effect.

Stick the leaves to the top of the cookies and add a final finishing touch with two red sprinkles as the berries.

leave them all to set in the fridge or a cool room before eating.


Storage

These will store in a biscuit tin or air tight container for up to 1 week. Alternatively you can make the dough and freeze the balls then bake for 15/20 minutes.