Cake, Sweet

Happy Birthday Sis: Frozen Raspberry and White Chocolate Cheesecake.

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Today is my ‘little’ sisters birthday. Obviously she isn’t really little anymore in any way – she’s a 26 year old law teacher who is taller than me! But she’ll always be my little sister.

This year I wanted to make her a different birthday cake to usual, something a bit fun but also a bit more grown up. Then luckily my September edition of the good food magazine dropped through the door and staring at me from the front cover was the recipe for a frozen raspberry cheesecake. Perfect.

It was pretty simple to make and was interesting being frozen.

Frozen raspberry and white chocolate cheesecake

Biscuit, Sweet

A gingerbread house alternative – 3 generations bake

Last year my parents bought me a gingerbread house mould as a present but unfortunately it was too near to Christmas for me to have the time to make one so this year my dad phoned me up and asked if I wanted to come round with the littlest happy baker and we’d bake the gingerbread house together.

My dad said he doesn’t like gingerbread, and i’m not particularly keen so we decided to make a gingerbread house out of non-gingerbread!  As my husband calls it a …house.

My dad suggested we try using shortbread but I thought this might be brittle so I decided we would just use a gingerbread recipe and instead of the ginger we would substitute it for cinnamon and I would make the roof out of shortbread to see if it is ok to use.  I am glad that in the end we went for a majority gingerbread mix because the shortbread was very heavy and brittle, like I thought.

My dad did get a little bored at one point and took the littlest baker out for a drive whilst I finished off baking the roof.

I left the decorating and building of the house to my dad, who was armed with white chocolate buttons and a bag of Harribo.  I think in my dads head he was going to make a really cool looking house with puffing smoke and windows – just like he had seen on the fabulous baker brothers christmas special program – what he actually made was this:

Alternative Gingerbread House

Well, the decorating is a little wonky but we had a good laugh making it and the good news is that today when we eat it, it should taste lovely.

We will definitely have to try again next year as it was lots of fun to do and not too difficult to make and the littlest baker likes the look of it (she’s wearing her Italy football shirt)

Alice admiring house


Alternative Gingerbread House

I used Rachel Allens’ recipe which can be found here for the walls – Gingerbread House and substituted the ground ginger for two tsp cinnamon and 1tsp Nutmeg

I used my 3,2,1 shortbread recipe for the roof

Muffin, Sweet

Cherry and white chocolate muffins

A few days ago me and my husband were shopping in TK Maxx and they often have quite a few bits of really good baking stuff there. This time they had these muffin cases with little snowmen on them. I do have a love of cupcake and muffin cases and the prettier the better – so I had to buy them.

Since I bought them home I had an idea that I wanted to make white chocolate muffins and as I had left over cherries from my Christmas cake I thought these would go nice in them.

I don’t often need an excuse to bake but as me and my husband were going out with my sister and brother-in-law, my brother in laws mom very kindly offered to babysit the smallest little baker. I decided this would be a good occasion to bake some of these muffins as I could make them as a present to say thank you.

If you make this recipe you have to remember that muffins aren’t like cupcakes where they are very light, these make quite a dense cake which is perfect with a nice hot cuppa tea or coffee.


Cherry and white chocolate muffins

This recipe makes 6 gigantic, 8 big, 10 good size or 12 small muffins – I actually made 15 this time!

300g (10.5oz) plain flourWhite Chocolate Cherry muffins
75g (3oz) caster sugar
4 tsp baking powder
2 medium size eggs
225ml (8fl.oz) milk
110g (4oz) butter or margarine
1 tsp Vanilla Extract 75g
100g white cooking chocolate
3/4 pot of Glace Cherries

Preheat oven to 200C, Gas Mark 6

In a bowl put all of your dry ingredients, these are flour, sugar and baking powder. Mix your butter/margarine into the dry ingredients till all of the butter is blended in.

In a separate bowl measure your milk and vanilla then beat into the milk the two eggs.

Mix the wet ingredients into the dry and stir till they just come together to make a sticky mix then stir in the chopped chocolate and cherries.  Remember at this stage not to overwork the mix.

Separate your mix into however many muffins cases you like, making sure you fill them about 2/3rds of the way up the cases.

Bake in the oven till a skewer comes out clean. The time needed to cook them will depend on the size, use this as a guide and always bake for 20 minutes before opening the oven door: Small (12) – 20 – 25 Minutes Good size (10) – 25 – 30 Minutes Big (8) 35-40 Minutes Gigantic (6) 40 – 45 Minutes

Let them cool on a wire rack, the bottoms will feel a little soft when hot but they will set when cooled.

I dusted these with icing sugar afterwards… walking in a winter wonderland.

Chocolates/Truffles, Sweet

White chocolate and Strawberry truffles

My second foray into chocolate making has appeared to have been quite successful. This time I wanted to make some truffles for my sister using a couple of her favourite flavours – white chocolate and strawberry.

Unfortunately I have had to use everyone else’s response to the taste of the truffles to work out if they are nice or not as I don’t like the taste of strawberry! It is one of the few flavours (along with banana, liquorice and honey) that I really don’t like but strangely, I like actual strawberries.

The white chocolate is a lot harder to work with than dark chocolate as it is has lot slimier feeling when you are trying to roll them into balls and does melt a lot quicker but it does have it’s advantages to.

Firstly – you can colour the white chocolate into any colour you like using usual food colourings. For me, I always use gel colours and never the liquids because they completely change the consistency of what you are working with and are less vibrant. The gel colours only need a very small amount to make something look quite interesting.

Secondly – white chocolate doesn’t have too much of its own taste so you need to add less flavourings.

I wasn’t sure whether I had put too much of the strawberry essence in as it was far too sickly for me, but according to my sister it was just right.

I have to say that it is really nice making your own chocolates, especially when people look quite impressed, and the next step is to make the boxes to put them in so I can give them away as gifts so they look very pretty.

Luckily as I have a graphic designer for a husband and my cousin is very good at free hand drawing, I’m sure my labels will be better than my boxes!


White chocolate and Strawberry truffles

I made these into 18 truffles

150g (5.3oz) white chocolate
60g (2.2 oz) butter
3 tbls double cream
½ – 1 tsp strawberry flavouring
Little bit of red or pink gel food colouring – optional but I thought they looked pretty
Icing sugar to coat

In a bain marie (a bowl over boiling water making sure the water doesnt touch the bottom of the bowl) gently melt the chocolate, butter and double cream till it is all combined.  You can also do this in the microwave.

Take off the heat and stir in the stawberry flavouring and food colouring till it is all combined.  Don’t worry if it looks a little greasy at this stage.

Put it in the fridge for a couple of hours or overnight.  It will set quite hard and loose its greasy look when ready.

Take out of the fridge about an hour – 2 hours before you plan on rolling the truffles as this will give it time to soften up.  Using a teaspoon measure out a small amount and drop into the icing sugar on a plate.

Using the icing sugar to stop it sticking or melting, roll it into balls and put into small paper cases (I use petite four cases or tiny cupcake ones)

The truffles will keep in the fridge for up to a week… and if you have friends and family who enjoy them then they’ll last about 30 minutes.

Food Ramblings

Bank Holiday Baking

It was a lovely long bank holiday just gone, made longer because it was the Queens jubilee.

Although we didn’t really celebrate it in our house, it did give me chance to use my Union Jack (flag – if you want to be technically correct as we’re not at sea) muffin cases; so made some chocolate muffins with white chocolate topping and chocolate sprinkles. As my sister, her fiancé and her friends were down to visit I thought these would be a nice snack for them whist they watched England play football – which we were celebrating.

I just used this recipe I have posted here and then made a very simple white chocolate topping by melting white chocolate and mixing in a couple of teaspoons of icing sugar till it became slightly thicker.
When set, it meant it wasn’t too hard to eat, like it does when you just put just melted chocolate on the top of a cake.

I had a little experiment because I didn’t have any double cream in the fridge so I tried out a couple of things to make the chocolate stay soft-ish.
All of them were a disaster except for the icing sugar.

I tried mixing butter and a small drop of orange essence into the white chocolate but this split the mixture, making a very nasty looking mix of butter with white bits floating in it.
Then I tried adding a little light corn syrup. Nope, this didn’t work either, it set solid instantly! Although it did have the effect (which I had forgotten I had originally imported it from America in the first place) of making chocolate paste – but that is for a different post when I get time to play around and perfect it.

Finally I thought I would add the icing sugar and that worked a treat. I would recommend it if you need a very quick and easy to make topping for your cake which sets quickly and smoothly.
Note that if you do want to put sprinkles onto it or other decorations, it does set pretty quickly so put the chocolate on followed straight away by the decorations then move onto the next cake. The chocolate stays warmer in the bowl it was melted in but you do need to work reasonably quick so get everything ready before you start.

Did anyone else get round to doing some Jubilee or bank holiday baking?