Chocolate Bailey's Nanaimo Bars & OXO Good Grips Giveaway!

You know how one day you’re just living life and then something happens that changes your life forever? And it makes you wonder how you ever lived before?

That’s exactly how I felt after I tried my first Naniamo bar. How did I live before these bars came into my life? They are the best no-bake bars I have ever had.

If you don’t know what a Naniamo Bar is, it’s a bar that has a nutty, coconut, biscuit base topped with a creamy custard like filling and a layer of chocolate. They are named after a town in Canada. There is some debate about where they originated, but does it really matter after the first bite. All that matters is where and when you will get more!

When I went in search for a recipe most of the ones I found were in American cup measurements. It’s not a problem, but since I've been baking in the UK for some long I have just gotten used to using scales. For these no-bake bars cups just make sense as there is a lot of throw this or that together! 

OXO now have a 7 Piece Measuring Cup set available which is exciting to me because it includes a 1 and a ½ cup as well as a ¾ cup! They also have a matching 7 Piece Measuring Spoon set of measuring spoons. If you would like a chance to win a set of each including a Baking Spatula and a magic Baker’s Dusting Wand please follow the instructions in the widget below!

The best part of these bars is that the creamy custard middle can be adjusted in many ways. In this one I have added some Chocolate Baileys! They are one of the most addicting things I have ever made and here’s how I made them... 

Chocolate Bailey’s Nanaimo Bars

the base:

½ cup (114g) butter
¼ cup sugar
5 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 large egg, beaten
1 ½ cups rich tea biscuits, crushed
½ cup chopped mixed nuts
1 cup sweet and tender shredded coconut

Line an 8x8inch square pan with greaseproof paper. Make sure there is some over hang for easy removal. Melt the butter, sugar, and cocoa powder in a saucepan. Then add in the beaten egg and whisk quickly until it’s a thick glossy chocolate. Remove from the heat before adding in the crushed tea biscuits, chopped nuts, and coconut. Fold until combined and then press down into the prepared pan. Place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. About 15 minutes in start the middle layer.

middle layer:

½ cup (114g) butter, softened
2 tablespoons & 2 tsp Chocolate Bailey’s
2 tablespoons custard powder
2 cups icing sugar

Beat the butter for a few minutes in a freestanding mixer until soft. Then add the Chocolate Bailey’s, custard powder, and icing sugar and beat until lighter in color and fluffy. It can take around 5 minutes. Then spread over the base layer, try to get it as flat as possible. Then chill while you make the top layer.

top layer:

114g dark chocolate
1 ½ tablespoons butter

Melt the chocolate and butter together in a heatproof bowl over a simmering pot of water. Once it’s completely melted very gently spread it over the middle layer. Place in the fridge for about an hour before cutting into squares.

How to enter: 


notes: in association with OXO please see contact/policy page for more information. I bought the Bailey’s they are in no way promoting this post. Recipe adapted from Cakespy Presents Sweet Treats for a Sugar-Filled Life by Jessie Oleson.


Orange, Passion Fruit, & Champagne Jelly desserts {product review}

After being at home with my girls for the last 7 years, I have jumped back into the working world. At the moment I currently have 2 ½ jobs. It seems like I have found myself with a lot on my plate.

I am finding out what it really means to time manage. So, I was pretty proud of myself for making these jellies’s in the morning so they would be set for after dinner!

It’s pretty impressive if I even have dinner on the table on time these days!

Jelly is one of those things that everyone loves. It doesn't matter how old you are. As we get older our tastes buds change and sometimes our favorite childhood treats just don't taste the same. This Taste the Difference range of jellies from Sainsbury's is full of flavor and has fun flavor combinations! 

These jellies can be made according to the instructions and therefore will be suitable for the whole family, but making it with the suggestions I listed below make it a bit more adult.... then again maybe not?

I was sent Orange, Passion Fruit, and Champagne Jelly and Blackcurrant, Elderflower, and Cassis Jelly to try out.

First I made the Orange, Passion Fruit, and Champagne Jelly with half orange juice and half prosecco. I added in some canned mandarin’s for texture and topped with whipped cream and passion fruit seeds/juice.

Then I made the Blackcurrant one in champagne flutes to add a bit of festive fun and topped that one with some whipped cream as well.

There are so many ways to be creative with this range, such as:
  • Use prosecco in place of water, as suggested on the bottle
  • Use your favorite fizzy drink, lemonade or an orange soda
  • Different juices to match the flavors of the chosen jelly (ex: elderflower juice in the blackcurrent or orange juice in the orange etc…) if you do use half water half juice sometimes it is a little too soft when setting if you use just juice.
  • Add in matching fruits, canned usually works best because the fruit will be soft.
  • Make it a jelly terrine!
  • Make it in a flat baking tray and once it’s set use cookie cutters to cut out fun shapes
  • Make it in a trifle (my husband wanted me to do this and I just don’t like trifles that much…. I know I know we’ll talk about this later!)
  • Make it in fun shapes using jelly moulds
  • Top with whipped cream or meringues or ice cream
  • Drizzle with all sorts of fruit syrups

Jelly is fun for all ages and these Taste the Difference ones from Sainsbury’s were super easy to make and they make a great treat for any time of the day! Especially during the holiday season that is full of rich and heavy foods. Why not lighten the load a bit with a jelly dessert! My favorite part is that they are made in advance and takes some of the stress away from the big day! See my time management is already getting better! 

notes: in association with Sainsbury's they sent me the jelly to try all opinions are my own please see my contact/policy tab above. 


Belated Birthday Chocolate Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Frosting

It’s this time of year that I use momentum when it comes to my blog. If you look at past years December always has the least amount of posts. I am forcing myself right now to write this post because just like in the past I am finding it hard to motivate myself to blog. It’s not because I’m busy, but because my priorities change.

One of these priorities is the amount of baking I do for birthdays! This month is full of birthdays. The people I tend to bake for have favorites and so have already been blogged, but it leaves me little room for other baking aka new things to blog!

My father-in-law this year didn't have a preference so he left it up to me. I choose to make him chocolate cupcakes, as I know he has a love for chocolate cake!

These particular cupcakes are a very soft crumbly cake with a kick of coffee flavor that enhances the chocolate flavor. The frosting is also one of the best frosting's I have made in a while; even if I messed up the Salted Caramel.

It’s messed up because I didn't let the caramel caramelize enough. It starts looking a bit amber and I whipped it off the stove because I didn't want it to burn. I ended up with light lack luster caramel. It was still really tasty! The frosting had a nice vanilla/caramel taste that complimented the chocolate cake very well.

Chocolate Cupcakes

185g unsalted butter
185g dark chocolate
1 ½ tablespoon coffee granules
130ml of water
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
100ml buttermilk
110g self-rising flour
110g plain flour
45g cocoa powder
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
300g golden caster sugar

Heat the oven fan to 170C. Melt the butter, chocolate, coffee granules, and water in a saucepan. Stirring occasionally until completely melted then take it off the heat.
Mix the eggs, oil, and butter milk together in the bowl of a free standing mixer or large bowl.
Gradually add the chocolate mixture to the egg mixture.
Add both the flours, cocoa powder, bicarb, and sugar and beat until just combined.
Using an ice cream scoop fill 24 paper cases in a cupcake pan about ¾ full and bake in the heated oven for 20 minutes or until the skewer test comes out clean. Cool the cupcakes before frosting them….

Salted Caramel Frosting

300g unsalted butter, softened
500g icing sugar
½ tablespoon of fine sea salt
salted caramel (make it (below) or buy it)

Beat the butter until it’s soft, light, and fluffy. Then add in half of the icing sugar and the salt, beat until combined before adding the rest of the icing sugar. Lastly add in about half of the salted caramel sauce and beat until well combined. Fill a piping bag or just spread on top of each cupcake and enjoy! Or you could drizzle with some of the left over salted caramel or sprinkles or something.

Salted Caramel

250ml double cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
230g caster sugar
6 tbsp water
1-2 tsp sea salt flakes

In a small saucepan heat the cream and vanilla together, don’t boil. While that is warming, place the sugar and water into a larger saucepan. Bring to a boil, once it’s started to boil give it at least 5 minutes or until it will be a deep amber color. It can burn quite quickly so keep an eye on it. (This is where I always seem to mess up, I always seem to take it off the heat too soon.) Once it’s ready take it off the heat and carefully add some of the vanilla cream. Whisk it quickly and keep adding the cream little by little until all combined. If it gets lumpy just whisk as fast as you can and if that fails place it back on a low heat whisking all the time. Once it’s cooled down add the salt.
Save any leftovers in a clean/sterilized jar for up to 2 weeks in the fridge. It would be great on top of ice cream!

1. Am I the only one who is nervous about burning caramel? 
2. What do you like for your birthday treat? 

I'd love to hear your answers below in the comment section! 

notes: The recipe is adapted from Jamie Oliver’s Food Tube The Cake Book by Cupcake Jemma. Next I will be making some birthday brownies for a co-worker so stay tuned!


Teavivre Tea For Life (review)

Tea has been around for hundreds of years and probably one of the most popular drinks around the world. I love trying new and/or different teas then the usual English Tea. Teavivre make a variety of different flavors that they ship around the world.

This is the second time they have sent me tea to review and I was just as impressed this time, as I was last time.

Superfine Taiwan Moderately-Roasted Dong Ding Oolong Tea is a very rich tea with lots of flavor. It too has a subtle sweet taste that is great for a morning cuppa!

Superfine Taiwan Qing Xiang Dong Ding Oolong Tea this tea is similar to the above, the obvious difference as the above is roasted. It is a popular tea, most likely due to the sweet mellow taste.

Taiwan High Mountain Oolong Tea is a great tea for first time drinkers of Taiwan oolong tea. It has a flowery fragrant, but a very sweet taste.

Taiwan Monkey Picked - Ma Liu Mie - Tie Guan Yin Oolong Tea has a smooth fruity flavor with a hint of honey. It is called “monkey picked” because a legend says that the cliff where oolong tea leaves grows can be too abrupt and so a monkey is trained to climb the cliff and pick the precious leaves. A soft fire bakes the leaves in about 6 minutes; it is what gives this tea its distinct flavor.

Anxi Monkey King – Tie Guan Yin Oolong Tea is low in caffeine so a great evening or bedtime tea. This tea smells amazing! It is also a very smooth tea, with a sweet aftertaste.

notes: For more information and other tea flavors check out the Teavivre website! Check out my first post! The tea was provided for the review no other compensation was given. Please see my contact/policy page for more information! 


Apple Cinnamon Bundt

A is for Apple.

B is for Bundt

C is for Cinnamon        

This cake is as easy as A-B-C 1-2-3! The batter for this cake is a bit more like a muffin batter, because you have all the wet ingredients mixed together and the dry mixed together and then you just combine them.

I like the easy things in life especially in the chaos of everyday life. Plus a good slice of cake makes life just a little bit better too.

This cake fits both criteria.

It’s easy to make and since it’s in a bundt pan there is no need to decorate, as it’s gorgeous as is! It isn't a big secret that I don't do a lot of fancy decorating when it comes to my cakes. Probably because I have been tricked by too many pretty cakes that had no flavor!

Trust is an easy thing to lose yet, very hard to gain back. So, while I am still building up a trust in gorgeous looking cakes, I will stick to the simple and wow looking ones like these!  

It’s also a good cake, with a soft spongy texture and cinnamon apples spread through out, exactly what you need when life is being a little complicated. 

Apple Cinnamon Bundt                                      

 2-3 tart apples
3 tbsp sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
350g sugar
250ml sunflower oil
4 eggs
60ml apple juice
2 tsp vanilla extract
500g plain flour
1 tablespoon of baking powder
½ tsp salt

Grease and flour a 10 or 12 cup bundt pan, leave aside. Peel and chop the apples into little cubes. Sprinkle the sugar and cinnamon over the apples and mix. Leave aside.
Heat the oven to
Whisk the sugar and oil together in a bowl until combined and a bit sloppy looking. Add the eggs one at a time and mix until just combined. Then add the apple juice and vanilla extract. In a separate bowl mix the flour, baking powder, and salt together before sifting into the wet ingredients. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet until just combined.
Spoon a third of the batter into the bundt pan, then spread half of the apples over the batter before topping it with half of the remaining batter. The apples might be a bit watery try to leave the liquid behind. Then spread the rest of the apples and top with the remaining batter before placing in the oven to bake for an hour/60 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Beware that the apples may make it look greasy when doing the skewer test, but just check in a few different places.
Leave to cool for at least 10 minutes before turning it over and taking it out of the pan.
Slice and enjoy! 

notes: This bundt was actually made for National Bundt Day, that day is November 15th. I am clearly not on top of my posting at the moment. So, here it is finally! 


Baking Book Gift Guide

It is the day after Thanksgiving. 

Sometimes it's also known as Black Friday. In the states after Thanksgiving people start getting ready for Christmas. A lot of families will be putting up trees and other decorations this weekend, along with starting their Christmas shopping.

It makes a bit of sense really, if the stores know that people are going to be shopping over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend then why not entice them in more with some great savings? 

It suits both retailers and shoppers. One makes a lot of money while the other gets some great savings. I don't like the chaos and you will never find me going out on Black Friday, but I don't hate it either.

So, because a lot of people will be starting their shopping this weekend I though I would write up a quick "gift guide" based on baking and cook books that I own. Then at the end of the post I have included my book "wish list" for books I wold love to read!

I have chosen these books because I think they would make great gifts for bakers with particular tastes! Some are just because they are a good read! 

To me it's not just about the recipes, it's about what they have to say as well! I like a cookbook that I can read and get into too! 

Cake by Rachel Allen
This literally has every and any cake you’d ever want to make in it! A great book for cake lovers!

Cake Days and Home Sweet Home by Hummingbird Bakery
Cake Days is the book that really started my baking and blogging life. I can’t recommend it enough. It has amazing recipes perfect for every season. 
Home Sweet Home is just as good! Perfect for a new or experienced baker! 

Chocolat by Eric Lanlard
~ For the chocolate lover in your life! 

Crumb by Ruby Tandoh
It is one of the most informed baking books I have ever read. Perfect for a new baker! 

Fat Witch Brownies by Patricia Helding
I think this has some of the best bars and brownies I have ever come across! Perfect for brownie lovers!

Jamie Magazine
Not a book, but I love this monthly addition to my recipe collecting habit. I should probably get a subscription!

Kitchen by Nigella Lawson
 I find myself engrossed in this book whenever I read it. Perfect for any cookbook lover!

Leon: Family & Friends (book 4) by John Vincent & Kay Plunkett-Hogge
Great book for anyone who likes to cook for their friends and family! 

Naughtiest Vegan Cakes in Town! by Ms. Cupcake
Not just for Vegans, but a must this Christmas for the Vegan in your life!

Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz
Perfect gift for ice cream lovers! Make sure they have an ice cream maker!

Robicelli’s A Love Story with Cupcakes by Allison & Matt Robicelli
The funniest and most real cookbook I have ever read. For cupcakes biggest fan! 

Sprinklebakes by Heather Baird
 Need an artistic twist to your baking, then this is the book for you!

Sweet Treats for a Sugar Filled Life, Presented by Cakespy by Jessie Oleson-Moore
 This book is your guide to taking dessert above and beyond your wildest dreams!

The Vintage Sweets book, The Vintage Tea Party Book, The Vintage Tea Party Year by Angel Adoree
If you know someone who loves vintage, afternoon, tea, sweets, parties and more then this is the book for them! 

Warm Bread & Honey Cake by Gaitri Pagrach-Chandra
Great read and recipes in this book! Great for someone who loves to learn about food from all over the world. 

Now for the books I wouldn't mind appearing under my Christmas Tree this year!

Bake to Baking: 200 Timeless Recipes to Bake, Share, and Enjoy by Anna Olsen
My Paris Kitchen: Recipes & Stories by David Lebovitz
Sweet by Valerie Gordon
Paris Sweets by Dorie Greenspan
Baked Elements: The Importance of Being Baked in 10 Favorite Ingredients
& Baked Occasions by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito
Sugar Rush: Master Tips, Techniques, and Recipes for Sweet Baking by Johnny Iuzzini & Wes Martin
Huckleberry: Stories, Secrets, and Recipes from our Kitchen by Zoe Nathan
Marshmallow Madness!: Dozens of Puffalicious Recipes by Shauna Sever

What is your favorite baking and/or cookbook that you think would make a great gift? Any book that you think everyone you know should own? Just leave a comment below because I am always looking for new cookbooks!!

notes: To see my full list of baking books and a handful of my cookbooks check out the tab above! I really need to update it! All opinions and suggestions are my own I have in no way been compensated for this post by any of the publishers or authors. Please see my contact/policy page for further information. The black box on the top is intentionally a black box. 


Pumpkin Cake for pumpkin pie haters

When I was a child I hated Thanksgiving dinners, everything except the mash potatoes. Dry turkey with weird jelly sauce and cooked carrots, I abhorred cooked carrots! I could eat them raw, but never cooked.

Then there was the desserts pumpkin pie, pecan pie, and so on. I disliked those too. They were too weird and too nutty.

It’s amazing how our tastes change as we grow up. I can tolerate roasted carrots, if I have too. I have learned to enjoy homemade cranberry sauce, still do not like the caned or jarred stuff.

However I didn't have to wait until I was all “grown up” to fall in love with pumpkin pie. 

When I was about 10 we were at a family friend’s Thanksgiving feast and it was there that I was persuaded to try pumpkin pie again.

I am glad that I did because who knows how long it would have taken me to learn that I love pumpkin pie.

Now this post isn't for pumpkin pie, but for a delicious pumpkin cake for those at your Thanksgiving dinner who, like a younger me, hated pumpkin pie.

It has a nice spongy texture with a comforting spicy flavor. The whipped cream and caramel drizzle I added on top complemented nicely! 

Pumpkin Cake

425g pumpkin puree, canned or fresh
200g soft unsalted butter
300g light muscovado sugar
4 eggs
300g self-rising flour
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp salt
150g currants

Heat the oven to 180C and line a 8x11 inch (20x28cm) tin with grease proof paper, allow a bit of an over hang so you can get the cake out of the tin.
Cream the butter and sugar together until lighter in color and a bit fluffy. Add the pumpkin puree and beat until combined. It doesn't look pretty; add the eggs one at a time. It still doesn't look pretty all curdled like, but keep beating. Mix the flour and spices together and sift into the weird curdled mixture. Beat until just combined. Then fold in the currants. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 1 hour (60minutes) or until a skewer poked in the middle comes out clean. Leave to cool for at least 10 minutes before taking out of the tin and cutting into squares. Serve with whipped cream and a caramel drizzle! Tastes best when warm out of the oven!
You could add some cinnamon to the whipped cream or instead serve with a scoop of cinnamon ice cream or vanilla if you prefer or even caramel ice cream.... I am getting a bit carried away. I will stop now. Enjoy!

notes: recipe was adapted from Rachel Allen’s book Cake, if your pumpkin pie haters hate pumpkin pie because of the spices then chances are they will hate this cake too, but if it's because of the texture then it's a safe bet they'll love it! For homemade cranberry sauce check out my previous post here


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