Salted Caramel Shortbread Slice aka Millionaire’s Shortbread

This is to die for. Literally. Scroll down the list of ingredients and you’ll see why. But don’t let that put you off. In the immortal words of Masterchef’s Greg Wallace it’s got the perfect buttery, biscuity base topped with oozing salted caramel and then a thick layer of slightly bitter chocolate. An orgasm on a plate if you will. What’s not to like… Adapted from Nigella’s Roxanne’s Millionaires Shortbread in Domestic Goddess.

For 24 pieces you need
225g plain flour
75g fairtrade caster sugar
375g unsalted butter
397g can sweetened condensed milk
4 tablespoons golden syrup
250g fairtrade plain chocolate
2 tsp salt, preferably something flaky like Maldon

Begin by making the shortbread. Place the flour, sugar and 175g of butter in a food processor and blitz till it turns into sandy rubble. If you don’t have a food processor you can do this by hand by rubbing the fat into the flour and sugar.

Tip the sandy mixture into a lined 23x23cm tin and press down. Bake in a 160 degree oven for 35-40 mins. You want a crisp, golden brown bottom so take care not to have the oven too hot or it will brown before it cooks through.

Meanwhile make the salted caramel by placing the remaining 200g butter into a pan with the condensed milk and golden syrup. I learnt previously when I made this that using a cheap pan separates the butter fat out and splits the caramel. This is NOT a good thing. I managed to resolve it by beating the caramel in the pan submerged in a washing up bowl of cold water but it’s tricky so I recommend using a pan with a deep a base as possible (a Le Creuset is brilliant but admittedly perhaps too middle class for this…). Anyways. Melt the butter into the condensed milk and syrup and then bring to the boil stirring constantly until it’s thickened and a light golden brown in colour. This will take about 20-25 minutes and can’t be rushed. To ensure you don’t let it catch you need to take it slow and steady, stirring all the time. Beat in 1 tsp of the salt and leave to cool.

The shortbread should be baked by now, and if it is, remove from the oven and leave to cool for 15-20 mins before pouring the likewise cooled caramel over the top. Tilt the tin to coat the base properly then sprinkle over the remaining 1 tsp of salt. Leave to cool while you melt the chocolate.

Melt the chocolate in a bain marie/bowl over a pan of water. I like to use 75% plain and 25% milk chocolate on mine, but do as you wish. Once the chocolate has melted, pour over the caramel, again ensuring it’s covered properly and leave until fully set. This means overnight unless you cheat like me and put it in the fridge.

Cut into squares and scoff. Yum. Yum. Yum.

Love Cake (Vanilla and Raspberry Heart Shaped Cake)

We only exchange cards in our household to mark commercialisation of love day, but we’d also run out of cake today so I decided to bake something yummy to welcome my man home after a busy week working away on t’other side of the Pennines… This went down a treat. The soft, sharp raspberries contrasted nicely with the sweeter vanilla scented cake. The boy also appreciated licking out the cake mix bowl after breakfast, win!

For a heart shaped cake that serves 8-10 and also makes 7 cupcakes you need:
For the cake
4 eggs
8oz self raising flour
8oz vitalite
8oz caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
A handful of frozen raspberries

For the icing/topping
1 pack red fondant icing
6oz icing sugar
3oz vitalite
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
Seedless raspberry jam

Begin by mixing the vitalite and sugar in a food mixer for 10 mins until light and fluffy.

Slow the speed of the mixer and add the eggs one at a time, alternating with a spoonful of the flour. Once all the eggs are added, incorporate the rest of the flour and the vanilla extract.

Pour into a greased heart shaped tin until it’s 2/3 filled. Poke about 8-10 raspberries into the batter, evenly spacing them out.

Meanwhile put the rest of the batter into cupcake cases in a tin and add one raspberry to each in the middle.

Bake in a 180 degree oven till done – the cupcakes will take 12-15 mins and the heart cake about 20-25.

Leave to cool and make the icing. Mix the vitalite slowly in with the icing sugar and vanilla paste until throughly mixed. Increase the speed and mix on high for about 10 mins. This gives a lovely light texture to the icing once it’s set. Roll out the fondant and cut/stamp into whatever shapes you want.

Once the cakes are cooled, pipe a swirl of icing onto the top of each cup cake and top with a heart stamped out of the red fondant. For the heart cake, slice in half and fill with jam and some of the buttercream. Use the red of the buttercream to decorate the top of the cake as you wish. Be as slushy or restrained as you like 😉 Happy Valentines 🙂

Norweigan Cinnamon Buns

I meant to blog this recipe over the weekend for a friend but was too tired, so apologies Diane for the delay!

These are really so simple to make. But they taste amazing and are very rewarding therefore to make and scoff. Be patient – the rising phase can take longer than you think if the dough is in a cold place, but it’s worth the wait.

This is a slight variation of Nigella’s cinnamon buns on p322 of her Domestic Goddess book.

For about 20-24 buns you need:
For the buns
700g plain flour
100g sugar
1/2 tsp salt
21g (3 sachets) of fast action dried yeast
100g butter
400ml milk
2 eggs

For the filling
150g soft butter
150g caster sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon

For the topping

1 egg, beaten
1-2 tbsp demerara sugar
1tsp ground cinnamon

Begin by making the dough. Mix together the flour, sugar, salt and yeast. I do all this in my food mixer with the dough hook but you can do it by hand just as easily. Meanwhile melt the butter and add to the eggs and milk. Mix thoroughly then mix into the flour mixture. This makes a VERY wet dough but don’t be tempted to add more flour or the buns will have a very dense and close texture and what you want is all the magic yeast to do it’s thang and make lots of air bubbles for light and airy dough. If you mix and knead by hand, oil your hand first!

Once combined, knead the dough for about 10 minutes until soft and elastic. Then cover the bowl (removing any dough hook if done by machine) with cling film and leave to rise for 25-60 mins until doubled in size.

Whilst the dough is rising, make the filling. Mix the soft butter with the sugar and cinnamon into a yummy smelling paste. Line a 33cm x 24cm baking tin with greaseproof paper.

When the dough has risen, tip it out on to a lightly floured surface and cut off 1/3. Pull into a rectangle the size of the tin and use this smaller piece of dough to line the bottom of the tin to form the base of the finished buns.

Pull the remaining dough into a rectangle again the same size as the tin. It’s easier to shape it by hand than roll because it’s such a wet sticky dough. Don’t worry if you get messy doing this bit!

Spread the cinnamon butter over the dough and then roll up like a swiss roll. Cut into 20-24 slices and place then in the tin onto the pre- dough lined base.

Brush the buns with beaten egg then sprinkle over the sugar and remaining cinnamon. Leave the buns to puff up a bit for 15 mins whilst you preheat the oven to 210 degrees.

Bake for 20-30 mins until the buns are risen and golden. Try not to let them catch too much, but a little colour is fine. Lift out of the tin and leave to cool slightly before tucking in with a lovely cup of real coffee. Utter decadence and deliciousness 🙂

Banana Chocolate Chip Shortbread Bars (v)

This recipe is adapted from Mary Berry’s Baking Bible. It’s dead simple, very yummy and makes cooked banana taste nice (I usually can’t stand it cooked in anything unless it’s well and truly mushed up). It’s a bit crumbly and liable to disintegrate round the edges but it’s perfect with a morning coffee and is a reasonably healthy energy boost.

For about 8 bars you need
75g wholemeal flour
11/4 tsp baking powder
75g demerara sugar
75g porridge oats
100g vegan spread or butter if you’re not vegan
1 banana, sliced into 5mm slices
25g plain chocolate chips

Blitz everything apart from the chocolate chips in a food processor until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Line a 2lb loaf tin and put half the shortbread mix in the bottom. Press down. Lay the banana slices on top and then cover with the remaining shortbread. Press down firmly and scatter over the chocolate. Bake in a 180 degree oven for about 25 mins. Leave to cool and then carefully slice and scoff.

Celebration Chocolate Cake

This cake has done the rounds on an internet forum I am a member of, and I book marked it as one to make to welcome Lex home after he’d spent the summer with his dad this year. It looks impressive but is actually a doddle to make and decorate, and any kid (or adult for that matter!!) that sees it can’t resist breaking out into a huge grin. You can put whatever you want round the sides and on the top. I was under strict orders from the boy with what I included but let your imagination run wild!

Our cake is a chocolate orange marble cake with chocolate orange buttercream icing and milk and orange chocolate kitkats. For other flavours, amend the recipes below to suit your tastes 🙂

For 8-12 slices you need
Orange cake batter
3 eggs
zest and juice of one orange
6oz self raising flour
6oz caster sugar
6oz vitalite

Chocolate orange cake batter
3 eggs
zest and juice of one orange
4oz self raising flour
2oz cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
6oz caster sugar
6oz vitalite

Chocolate Orange Buttercream Icing
225g vitalite
475g icing sugar
50g cocoa powder
zest of one orange

To Decorate
1 pack of 8 x 2 finger orange kitkats
1 pack of 8 x 2 finger milk chocolate kitkats
1 packet peanut M&Ms
1 packet yorkie chocolate drops
Jelly stars
Edible silver stars

You will also need
A ribbon to decorate
2 x 8 inch round cake tins, lined and greased
Cake stand or plate

Begin by making the cake batters. In separate bowls cream together the vitalite and sugar, beating for 10 mins until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, alternating with the flour or flour and cocoa mixture. Finally add the zest and juice and thoroughly incorporate.

Dollop spoonfuls of each mixture across both tins, and once all the batter is in, swirl to mix lightly for the marbled effect.

Bake at 170 degrees for about 25-30 mins until the cakes are well risen, starting to shrink away from the sides of the tin and fully cooked. Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes before turning out onto a cake rack to finish cooling completely.

Beat the icing ingredients together for 10 mins until light and fluffy. Use to sandwich the cakes together and then cover the outside of both cakes with a good layer of icing. Once you have done this, start to stick your kitkats (or chocolate finger biscuits or whatever else you have chosen!) to the outside.

Then add your decoration of choice. Some people like to just cover with maltesers or other sweets, but my cakes were very deep, and there wasn’t a lot of overspill room above the kitkats so I used giant chocolate buttons and then filled the inside with other sweets.

Finally, tie the ribbon around the outside of the cake (this helps to ensure the kitkats don’t fall off as well as giving an extra wow factor ;-)) and scoff. I recommend palming the children off on to grandparents once the sugar rush hits mwahahahaha!

Easter / Ishtar Chocolate Egg Nests (v)

Easter isn’t Ishtar without these nests. I prefer to use a base of butter, golden syrup and drinking chocolate/cocoa for the chocolate rather than melting chocolate as they remain softer and nicer to eat that way. This is a great recipe to get the kids to do, or to make to bring back memories of the last day of school!

For 10-12 nests you need
6 shredded wheat, crushed
100g butter or vegan spread
4 tbsp golden syrup
4 tbsp drinking chocolate or cocoa powder
Chocolate eggs to decorate
Paper muffin cases

Melt the butter, golden syrup and drinking chocolate in a pan gently. Mix into the crushed shredded wheat and then spoon into cases. Leave an indentation in the middle for the eggs to nestle in to. Top with eggs and leave for an hour or so to set. Yummy!

Cadbury’s Creme Egg Brownies



A brownie adorned with a cadbury’s creme egg showed up in my newsfeed on Facebook earlier in the week, so I decided to treat us to some for Easter. I’ve used mini creme eggs as the large ones would have made them too sickly (imho!). The brownie recipe I have used is my tried and tested adaptation of the Hummingbird Bakery’s plain chocolate brownie which is chewy and moist and delicious. Enjoy!

For 12 portions you need
200g good quality plain chocolate
125g butter
150g plain flour
325g caster sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

6 mini cadbury’s creme eggs

Melt the chocolate and butter. Once melted and cooled slightly, mix in the other ingredients. Pour the batter into a lined swiss roll tin and bake at 160 degrees for about 15 mins. 


Carefully cut the eggs in half, but don’t worry too much if they break a bit. After 15 mins, take the brownies out of the oven and push the halves of eggs into the semi cooked batter. Place them back in the oven for a further 15 mins to finish cooking. 

Leave to cool for 10 min before removing from the baking tin and slicing into generous squares. Happy Ishtar!


Black and White Chocolate Cookie Ice Cream Snadwiches

This pic got rather a lot of likes on instagr.am the other day, proper food porn! And utterly delicious to eat too, if a tad messy! Making the cookies with vitalite not only makes them easier as you don’t need to remember to leave the butter out or faff about softening it if you forget; but it also gives them a better texture. Contrasting the dark bitter chocolate with the white sweet chocolate works really well. I prefer the two flavours to adding in milk chocolate too for triple chocolate cookies. This recipe is adapted from Nigella Lawson’s totally chocolate chocolate chip cookies from Nigella Express.

For about 20 cookies, depending on size, you need

125g dark chocolate
150g plain flour
30g cocoa powder
1tsp bicarb
½ tsp salt
125g vitalite
75g soft light brown sugar
50g white sugar
1tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
350g white chocolate chunks or chocolate cut into chunks

Ice cream of your choice to serve.

Melt the dark chocolate in a bain marie and leave to cool slightly.

Beat the sugars and vitalite in a free standing mixer until light and fluffy. Then add everything else, mixing thoroughly.

Place teaspoon sized blobs onto a lined baking tray. You should be able to get 9-12 cookies on a normal sized tray and they don’t spread that much whilst cooking. 

Cook in a moderate (170 degree) oven for 10 mins until cooked but not browned. Leave to cool on the tray for a few mins. If you try and move them too soon they will break but they will harden upon cooling. 

Sandwich your favourite ice cream in the middle and scoff. Nomtastic!

Festive Flapjacks

So called because the festive season calls for an added layer of luxury in terms of ingredients, and I CBA to melt two different types of chocolate to decorate them at any other time of the year 😉 Beware, these flapjacks are addictive and FULL OF CALORIES! But that’s why they taste so good 😉

For 12-16 bars you need
(sorry can only remember this recipe in imperial measurements!)
6oz butter
6oz sugar
2 tbsp golden syrup
10oz rolled oats (not cheap ones, proper scottish decent ones but not jumbo ones)
1/4 cup sultanas
1/4 glace cherries
100g each milk and white chocolate, melted

Begin by placing everything apart from the oats and chocolate in a large pan and letting the butter melt. Meanwhile, line a swiss roll tin with baking paper. Once the butter et al is melted, add the oats and mix well. Press into the lined tin and bake in a moderate (180 degree) oven for 15-20 mins until bubbling and golden brown. Take care not to overbake or the edges and sides will become brittle and too crunchy when it’s cooled.

Remove from the oven once cooked and leave to cool for 30 mins or so before sliding out of the tin. Leave on the baking paper to cool totally. Drizzle/spread over the melted chocolate in any pattern you like and then cut into bars once the chocolate has set. Deeeelishous!!!

Baklava

This is not a dish for the faint hearted, cos when you see how much butter it uses you would be forgiven for having a heart attack there and then… But, you’re supposed to eat in teeny tiny slices so it’s all OK really. Promise. This has been made for the forthcoming Shipley Slump taking place on the 23rd Sept. Good job I’m on a diet or I’d be scoffing it all now and having to make another it smells SOOOOOOOOOOOO divine!!!!!

For about 40 pieces you need
Baklava:
1 packet of filo or feuille de brick pastry
250g butter, melted
2.5 cups mixed nuts (I used walnuts, pistachios and hazlenuts)
1/3 cup caster sugar
3 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves

Syrup:
1.5 cups caster sugar
1.5 cups water
3 tbsp rose water
3 tbsp orange flower water
3 whole cloves
1 small cinnamon stick
2 tsp lemon juice
1/4 cup runny honey

Begin by brushing the sides and base of a swiss roll tin with butter. Lay 9 sheets of pastry into the tin, taking care to brush thoroughly and evenly with melted butter.

Take the nuts, sugar and spices (I can’t resist adding a picture here they looked so pretty!) and sprinkle half the mixture over the butter pastry.

Place another two sheets of pastry on top, again brushing each carefully with butter, and top with the remaining nut mixture. Place the remaining sheets of pastry on the top, buttering each layer. Trim the edges and brush the top with the last bit of butter. Cut into small pieces using a sharp knife.

Bake in a moderate (140 degree) oven for 30 mins. Check, rotate the tin to ensure even cooking, and turn up to 150 degrees. Cook for a further 30 mins until the pastry is light golden brown, crisp and fully cooked.

Whilst the baklava is cooking, make the syrup. Place the water, sugar, honey, cloves and cinnamon in a pan and slowly melt. Once all the sugar is dissolved, bring to the boil and boil fast for 15 mins until the syrup is reduced, thickened and gorgeous. Carefully add the lemon juice, rose and orange flower waters (it will hiss and spit when you do this) and leave to cool for a bit.

When the baklava is cooked, remove from the oven and pour over the strained, fragrant syrup. Leave well alone for at least 48 hours, preferably longer, to let the syrup steep into the nuts and pastry. Serve with very strong coffee and forget about the calories…