Food Ramblings

Happy Christmas and thank you.

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I would love to say a big Happy Christmas to everyone who is liking, reading or following my blog.
It’s been nice to see an increase since last year and hope that my recipes and ramblings have been good for you.

Hope you all have a fab time celebrating however you chose and have a wonderful new year.

Cupcake, Sweet

Mincepie Christmas Cupcakes

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I love mincepies and I love cupcakes, so one day when I had a quiet few minutes I thought that it’d be a good idea to combine the two.
A family review of this recipe was “tastes just like a mincepie but without the mouthful of dry pastry”. I am taking that as a compliment and not a critique of my mincepie baking.

Its a very simple recipe to do and you can decorate them as Christmassy as you like!
Mincepie Christmas Cupcakes

This recipe made 11 huge cupcakes for me as I baked them in a muffin case.image

3oz Light Brown Sugar
3oz White sugar
6oz Margarine
6.5oz Self Raising Flour
3 Large Eggs
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Nutmeg
Mincemeat (I didn’t weigh this, it is half teaspoon in each cake)

For buttercream
2 tblsp Butter or Margarine
Lots of icing Sugar
1 tsp Christmas Pudding flavoured Essence (if you don’t have this then you could use Orange, rum, brandy or just vanilla with a little cinnamon is good)

Pre-heat the oven to Gas 4, 180c

In a large bowl beat the sugars and margarine together till they become lighter.
Mix the cinnamon and nutmeg together with the flour.
Add an egg and a third of the flour to the sugar and margarine and mix till just combined, do the same with the other eggs and flour.
Try not to overbeat your mixture as this will cause the cupcakes to have too much air and dome up when cooking.

Into each cake case add half a tablespoon of the mixture so it covers the bottom of the case then put half a teaspoon of mincemeat in the middle. Cover with another half tablespoon of cake mixture. If you are using small cases then change the amount so it fits, you want to have the cake cakes approx. 3/4 full.

Bake in the oven for at least 20 minutes, mine took 27 minutes to cook as they were large sized. You can test after 20 minutes by pressing gently on the top, if they spring back up then they are done.

Cool the cakes on a wire rack. You can use this time to either have a cuppa tea or start your buttercream.

In a large bowl add two big tablespoons of butter or margarine (butter is best but if you only have marg then it’ll still work).

Sift in at least 4 large tablespoons of icing sugar and a teaspoon of your chosen flavouring. Very, very slowly mix it all together. Once combined you can add more icing sugar. Add as much as you need till you reach the required taste and consistency.

Put your buttercream into a piping bag and pipe swirls onto the top, or just use a knife for the Hummingbird bakery style (if you’re not sure what it is, have a look online – mine never looks as good though)

Decorate with the most festive decorations you feel like! I used red, green and gold flakes and a small icing disc with a snowflake pattern.

Fudge, Sweet

The joys and pitfalls of making fudge

Fudge PartySince I am still at home waiting for HR to sort out everything for my new job I have been spending my time with my family and my stove, specifically I have been making fudge – a lot of it!

I have been really thinking about making it into a little business that I can do part time running the occasional stall here and there. Its really exciting and I’ve always fancied the idea of being my own little boss so now I am really looking it. I have contacted our local environmental health about my kitchen and whilst waiting for them I have been practicing.

Vanilla and Cranberry BrandyI have encountered a lot of issues and was kinda lulled into a false sense of security because my first few batches of fudge came out so well that I thought, “hey, this is easy!”. How wrong I have been. I am currently writing this as a failed batch of simple vanilla fudge has split and is cooling in the kitchen ready to make its way swiftly to the bin. For some reason this time it has split and I have no idea why! Still, I will get back on my fudge horse and try again.
I have learnt a lot though and every mistake tells me what I did wrong so that next time I can fix it. I’ve learnt you can re-cook over heated fudge, not to stir too early to stop crystal formation, the right pan to use, altering the temperature to suit your thermometer. It’s no wonder there is no one recipe that is fool proof.

I will get this and some of the fudge that has worked has been fantastic, my dad even said it was the best he’d ever tasted (my dad will eat anything though!) and my fudge party that I held so friends and family could help me eat some of the mountain was very well received. Now I just need to keep at it… practice, practice, practice and then one day I might be at a stall near you.Whisky and After 8 Fudge

Cupcake, Sweet

Sugar and Crumbs Black Cherry Chocolate Cupcakes

At the weekend I went to the brilliant Cake International show at the NEC. I didn’t plan to spend much money or really buy anything but I couldn’t help myself because of the amazing things to buy and ended up coming home with a lot lighter purse but a much heavier bag!

Something I bought was a complete impulse purchase and not what I would usually go for – flavoured icing sugar and cocoa powder. The problem was that the ladies at the Sugar and Crumbs stall were so nice to talk to and gave you so many free samples that I was completely hooked, but I can tell you that it is one purchase I definitely don’t regret buying after using their product to make some Black cherry & Chocolate cupcakes.

I bought and used the Black Cherry Cocoa powder as you don’t usually see cherry extract in the shops; although it is more expensive than your usual cocoa powder the flavour is fantastic and you only need to use a very small amount to make a lovely tasting cake that does actually taste of cherry. I often find with some flavoured products that the taste is very artificial, this one isn’t.

Now I am not being paid (I wish!) or been given anything else to endorse this product, I am doing so simply because it tastes fab and I would like more people to enjoy baking with it. Next up, I cant wait to try the Christmas Punch flavoured icing sugar I bought… now what to make with it?


Black Cherry Chocolate Cupcakes

This recipe is stupidly simple to make but the taste will make you smile.

Don't be fooled by the skull and crossbones icing!
Don’t be fooled by the skull and crossbones icing!

4oz Sugar
4oz Margarine
2 eggs
3.5oz Self Raising Flour
1 large tablespoon Black Cherry Chocolate Cocoa Powder from Sugar and Crumbs
1 tablespoon whole milk

Pre-heat the oven to 180c Gas 4

In a bowl cream the sugar and margarine till it becomes pale.
Combine the Cocoa and flour together in a separate bowl.
Add one egg and half of the flour/cocoa, try not to overwork this.
Add the second egg and rest of the flour/cocoa.
Stir in the milk.

Divide the mixture into your cake cases and bake in the oven till the tops of the cake spring back after a gentle poke. This should take 18-20 minutes.
Once cooked, cool on a wire rack.

Decorate with your choice of topping if you like: buttercream, fondant icing, chocolate ganache or just leave plain.

Cupcake, Sweet

Halloween Strawberry Brain Cupcakes

I had really intended to post this on Halloween but as usual the time has completely ran away from me and before I realised it is over a week into November. 

It might be a bit late but I was really happy with the way these came out and they were so easy to do that I wanted to share the recipe so that everyone can make them.

No one can say that baking doesn’t make you clever, after making these you’ll feel very brainy! Hehe.


Strawberry Brain Cupcakes

This recipe will make 12 average size cupcakes or 9 larger muffin ones (larger will need longer cooking).
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4oz Sugar
2oz Margarine
2oz Butter
4.5oz Self Raising Flour
2 eggs
1-2tbls Whole Milk
1-2tsp Strawberry Essence
Red or Pink Gel food colouring (if using liquid colour then do not add the milk) I used claret gel colour.

Pink buttercream:
2 – 3 large tablespoons of butter or margarine
Icing sugar
Red or pink food colouring

Pre-heat oven to 180c Gas 4

In a bowl cream the butter, sugar and margarine till it becomes pale.
Mix in the food colouring till completely combined.
Add one egg and half of the flour, try not to overwork this.
Add the second egg and rest of the flour.
Stir in the milk (if using gel colour) and the strawberry essence.

You should now have a lovely very vibrant colour. The colour should be brighter than you think it needs to be as it will lose some colour once baked.

Divide the mixture into your cake cases and bake in the oven till the tops of the cake spring back after a gentle poke. This should take 18-20 minutes.

Once cooked, cool on a wire rack.

Whilst the cakes are cooling make the buttercream.
The best way to make the buttercream is by taste. Add 2-3 large tablespoons of butter or margarine in a bowl and stir in 3-5 tablespoons of icing sugar and a enough food colouring to give it a very bright pink colour. If you think it needs a little more icing sugar then add more to taste. You’ll be surprised how much icing sugar you can add to a buttercream.

Once the cakes have cooled fully, fill a piping bag with a small star nozzle.

To decorate – pipe 2 lines down the centre of the cake the either side pipe tight zigzags. This will give you a lovely brain look!

Experiment with colours and zombie brains, I’d love to see any pictures if you make some.