Missing in action…

Ok so I know I’ve been MIA for the past few weeks, but we’ve been busy, REALLY busy, my mum and dad are over, so we’ve been showing them the sights and sounds of Dubai. We’ve also had other relatives stopping over to say hi, needless to say I’ve had not time for blogging. So I thought I would keep it simple and show you guys the biscuits that our lovely neighbour gave us before they went away for the holidays…

They were ginger bread snowflakes, which I was quite unsure of at first, but there was something about them that was quite addictive, meaning you couldn’t just have one…

As you can see they are the most cutest of snowflakes, it’s obvious that a lot of love and attention has gone into them. In fact when my husband showed them to me a big smile spread across my face, I’ve never actually met them myself, my husband has spoken to them a few times, but the fact that they thought of us made me really grateful that we had them as our neighbours!

Old school treats

What do you do when there is an offer on Kellogg’s cornflakes?! Make chocolate crispy cakes of course! It has to be one of the most easiest, yet most more-ish snacks known to man, The person who invented these deserves a medal, in fact they deserve a lot more than a medal!

For those of you who don’t know pretty much every primary school in the UK makes loads of these at easter time. Shaped as a nest in a cupcake case and a few mini eggs placed on top. Not only did I make these as a child (several times!) I also had the pleasure (?) of supervising groups of children while they made them.  Last week I just made them to eat them! I think it’s the growing baby inside me but they were addictive!! I think I ate the whole batch myself!

There are only two ingredients, chocolate and cornflakes! There are of course variations, you can use shredded wheat for a more “nest” feel, or even rice krispies, personally I love the crunch that cornflakes give. Of course It’s the perfect way to get little hands helping out in the kitchen too!

There are no strict measurements, it’s upto you how chocolatey you want to make it. You want enough chocolate to hold it together, but at the same time you want there to be more cornflakes than chocolate. Simply melt the chocolate and mix it into the cornflakes! You could also try white or dark chocolate and add other bits to it if you like, such as dried fruit, mini marshmallows, smarties or other suitable sweets.

Here’s those little hands “helping out”, my daughter isn’t even two yet and she loved mixing it all together and she learnt about taking turns too!

To keep ours more…errm adult like, I just poured the mixture into a tin, let it set in the fridge and cut it into pieces. Either line the tin with greaseproof/baking paper or grease it very lightly with butter so it’s easy to take out.

Enjoy!

Rambles down the rocky road

I can’t even tell you how long overdue this post is…I think I made the rocky road way back in November. That’s how long overdue it is! I’ve wanted to try rocky road for quite a while, and it turned out great! It is one of those recipes that you can really just use whatever you have in the kitchen. No measuring really required just chuck everything in, mix and refrigerate, I’m not going to even insult you guys by doing a proper recipe, here’s a loosely thrown together “how to” if you will. Here’s the ingredients I used:

Dried cranberries (to add abit of sourness)

Broken digestives (for texture)

Pistachio nuts (for colour and crunch)

Mini marshmallows (because what’s a rocky road without marshmallows!?)

A few  chopped dried apricots,( because there was three of them in a jar feeling lonely)

Basically you want a nice balance of ingredients, some sourness, texture, crunch to break through the sweetness of it all. I just guessed the amount of chocolate needed. Also it depends on your own personal preference, do you want the ingredients to be barley held together by the chocolate? or do you want them to be encased in chocolate?

After chopping the ingredients (if needed), add the melted chocolate and mix well. Pour into a tin lined with greaseproof paper, It is vital you remember the greaseproof paper, it means the rocky road just slides out of the tin later on! Refrigerate till it’s set, then cut and eat to your hearts content! They would also make a great food gift, presented nicely in a tin and some tissue paper.

 

Trying something new

I really do like cooking/baking new things, the anticipation whilst your making it, wondering how it’s going to taste like, the triumphant satisfaction  when you get it just right. However I just don’t get chance to try as many new things as I would like…

The most recent new recipe I tried was a clementine curd, I was actually thinking of a dessert to make for a get together we were having for my grandma’s birthday. I wanted to try something different, I settled on clementine curd cheesecake. It was definitely a success! I used a well tested cheesecake recipe and I used Jamie olivers clementine curd recipe (here). I doubled the recipe, and added about a 100g less sugar than the original recipe. Once the cheesecake had set I added the layer of clementine curd on top and drizzled with some white chocolate. To balance the tanginess of the curd I used orange flavoured kitkat along with the digestive biscuits in the base.

Everybody loved it! unfortunately I don’t get to take a picture of the cheesecakes because life gets a bit hectic like that sometimes. You simply have too many things to do in a impossibly short period of time, meaning that unfortunately, taking photos of a dessert is way down on your list of priorities… *sigh*

Experimenting

Last week I stayed at my mums for a few days. My sister and I decided to do some experimenting in the kitchen. First up was something I have always wanted to try, Salted caramel. Seeing as my sister has a sugar thermometer and we actually had all the ingredients at home (when does that ever happen?!) we thought we’d give it a go. However our first hurdle was that the thermometer only reached upto 140c as opposed to the 350c we needed for the caramel. Never mind we thought, quite a few recipes show you what to look for when the sugar is right, so we can judge it by eye. So on the first attempt we actually burnt the sugar, now you should know that there is a very fine line between burnt and ready, simply getting the cream ready to pour in meant that our sugar burnt. Second attempt turned out a whole better, however we realised we didn’t have enough sea salt so instead of salted caramel it was just caramel… woohoo it was a relative success and it tasted pretty good. We had decided the night before that we would make millionaires shortbread with the caramel so we needed another batch to have enough. Third attempt? Don’t even go there…we ended up with a big clump of God knows what!

Nonethless we had some caramel, thus make some millionaires shortbread we did. For the top we tried out the feathering technique which turned out really well, considering how easy it was! (If you follow me on instagram you would have seen the video (@creating_individuality). However I think the caramel was way to runny for a millionaires shortbread, and I wasn’t really a 100% happy with the shortbread recipe . However the overall taste was good and we got some really good photos..which I guess is what it’s all about right ;-)…

We also tried making honeycomb, again we crossed the ever so fine line between just right and burnt sugar, however it was really simple to make so will give it another go.

I used Ed Kimbers salted caramel recipe found here

Moral of the story: Sugar is a fickle thing

Some biscuits

I don’t really make biscuits that often. Maybe it’s because I’ve had a few bad experiences, or perhaps because I’m not into decorating biscuits, and I do like me some decorating. I’m getting more into it as time goes, If you follow me on facebook you will have seen my attempt at making Viennese whirls/melting moments (which we’re a crowd pleaser!). Also I can always rely on my trusty Rock bun recipe if we need biscuits in a hurry.

However my younger sister in law has fallen head over heels in love with baking biscuits and a couple of months ago we were having homemade biscuits for a good few weeks on the trot. I helped her with the decorating and I have to admit I rather enjoyed it…Here’s some photos!

She found the recipe online so I don’t know where it was from, but it was a fairly straight forward recipe, that you could find on a number of sites.

To decorate we “dipped” half the biscuits in chocolate and added some colourful sprinkles on. P.S. when I say ” dipped, I don’t actually mean dipped, (i’m too anal for that) I actually got some melted chocolate in the spoon and carefully poured it onto the biscuit, neatening it up as I went along (told you I was anal!). Make sure you place the dipped biscuits on some greaseproof paper/baking parchment so they come off easily when the chocolate has set. You could also cover the top completely in chocolate as we also did…

You can totally customise these biscuits to your hearts content. We’ve also used white chocolate, as well as a whole variety of sprinkles. It’s also a good way of using up the little bits of sprinkles you have left which aren’t really enough for any thing else.

Eid ideas #5

Today I’m going to delve into the archives and post some pictures of stuff I’ve already shown you but would make lovely edible Eid presents or even Iftar gifts. I’d love to see your pictures if you try them out so do send them in or post them on the facebook wall!

Chocolate covered dates, everyone has an abundance of dates in Ramadan so why not make use of them?

Because Ramadaan has fallen in the midst of summer, it’s a great time to utilise all the fresh fruit available in the form of jams (or lemon curd)

A cute vintage tin is a lovely way to present a cake, and the recipient can keep the tin too! Also you know the cake won’t get damaged!

Just made a batch of biscuits? Present them in a nice box and give some to your neighbours.

Cupcakes always go down well, we’ve got loads of great ideas in the cupcake chronicles section.

How about a cake in a jar? Great for giving to a loved one

Some homemade butter, packaged with some wax paper and tied with string, would make a lovely addition to an Eid hamper.

Some plum chutney would also go well in an Eid hamper.

Edible Eid gifts

A major part of Eid is visiting family and friends and taking lots of gifts for them. This year I thought I would have a go at giving some homemade goodies. I bought some cute heart shaped baskets to present them in, made some handmade gift tags, and got together some cellophane, ribbons, and cupcake boxes to pretty everything up!

The contents of the mini hamper included:rock buns (made by my brother in law using none other than the Sahrish recipe of course!), chocolate dates (peanut butter and almond) and plain biscuits topped with white chocolate and sprinkles (courtesy of my sister in law). We wrapped the biscuits and the rock buns in cellophane and tied them with ribbon.

I placed the dates in a single cupcake box (with the cupcake insert taken out of it). I did three layers of dates each one separated by a sheet of coloured tissue paper, in the end it looked rather like a box of chocolates.

Ramadan ideas #2

Chocolate covered dates. Yup. I’ve wanted to try these for a while, and seeing as in Ramadan dates are a plenty (it is traditional to open ones fast with a date), I thought it would be the perfect time to give it a go. Also they would make a perfect Iftaar party gift. I thought I would try several different fillings/toppings/coating combinations to see what goes right with dates, seeing as they are already sweet you don’t want to add to much sweetness.  We made these ones using Tunisian dates which aren’t as sweet and caramel-y as their Saudi counterparts, so in a way they went well with the sweetness of the chocolate, however they are longer so we couldn’t fit them in our mini cupcake cases properly. Here’s a mini how to: (the hand photos are courtesy of my sister)

Prepare all your ingredients before hand, there ends up being quite a few! so make sure you have everything at hand.

You will need a

  • Baking tray lined with greaseproof paper
  • Small pair of tongues (there’s no licking chocolate off your hands when your fasting!)
  • A few bowls to melt the chocolate in
  • Your own combination of toppings/coatings/fillings (more on this below)

Make sure you remove the stones from the dates first, a tedious job but one that has to be done, noone wants to bite into a stone after fasting all day!

After the dates have been pitted you can fill them with your fillings. We used whipped cream (for the dark chocolate ones), peanut butter (to balance out the sweetness of the milk chocolate.), almonds  (also for the milk chocolate ones) and walnuts (again to balance out the sweetness of the white chocolate). Other filling ideas could be clotted cream, chocolate spread, any type of nut and even dried fruit.

To go with the dark chocolate we paired whipped double cream, these turned out quite nice however the cream does have a tendency to melt if the chocolate is too hot. As the chocolate was dark, we thought a sweet topping would be best so we used white chocolate stars (very seasonal!)

To go with the milk chocolate/ peanut butter ones we used desiccated coconut, again the topping possibilities are endless, basically whatever you would decorate cupcakes with you could use. we wanted to keep them quite  neutral and simple but you could use any colour sprinkles you like!

For the other toppings we used mixed chopped nuts and chocolate crispy balls (normally found in the baking section of superstores). Once your done place the tray in the fridge to allow the chocolate to set (will take a few hours to set properly) you will know they are set properly as they will just lift off the greaseproof paper easily.

We served ours in the tiny cupcake cases that you can buy from anywhere, If you are giving these as a gift then an extra touch is to present them in a nice dish/box/container. Here’s a few ideas…

My favourite one was the milk chocolate/peanut butter ones, I loved the contrast in flavours. Will definitely be making these again…Hope you’ve been inspired!

Ramadan ideas #1

The meal that we eat when we break our fast is called Iftaar, this is eaten at sunset. The pre dawn meal is also recommended and is called the Suhoor. Its pretty common to invite friends and family around for the Iftaar meal, it just makes it all the more merrier when your eating food with friends and family! When one is invited to an Iftaar party it’s courtesy to take a gift for the host, it’s usually dates or something edible, usually sweet!

A really cute idea is to take a cake in a tin, keep the decoration simple, it is ramadan after al! nobody wants to bite into lots of frosting! So for this cake I just used a quick stencil cut out of paper, place it on the cake and dust some icing sugar over it. Line a cute vintage tin with some tissue paper and voila, the perfect Iftaar party gift!