It’s the most wonderful time of the year!!

Perhaps I am a little bit of a Scrooge, but I find Christmas time to be madness. It takes a lot of work not to get sucked into “The Madness”! Every year numerous media outlets tell us what a perfect Christmas should be or look like. So, many people buy into this commercialism and I’m not exempt from it! I put up a tree, shop for presents, and cook/bake like a mad person (hence “the madness”)! The trick, in my opinion, to making this the most wonderful time of year is not getting sucked in too far and having a Christmas within your means.

Now that I am off my pedestal I can share with you what I baked this week! :0)

Banana Espresso Chocolate Chip Muffins
Baked: New Frontiers in Baking by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito

Super moist and delicious. The Espresso isn't really noticeable, but it does add a different dimension then other banana muffins/loafs I've made!

Tiger Rolls
Bake! By Nick Malgieri

I've experimented a little bit with bread here and there, but this is the first time I’m really pleased with the outcome. Except for one little niggle the bread was a little pale, but they were perfectly done. Well, and the part that makes it a tiger roll probably could use a little work. So maybe not really pleased, but definitely a better result then some of my past experiences.

Apple Pie
sugar, sugar: every recipe has a story by Kimberly “Momma” Reiner & Jenna Sanz-Agero

Pies are new to me really. Making my first pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving and now my first apple!! I think the filling was a bit runny and the pie crust was a bit of a disaster, but both were faults of mine. I thought in all the madness that I would get my apple filling ready ahead of time. So, the apples sat in there sugar mixture and it was very liquidy. Then the crust I didn't want to add too much water and therefore added too little. The crust would not stay together! Wouldn't win a beauty contest, but it was yummy!

Macadamia and White Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-your-mouth cookies by Alice Medrich
I made these for my brother-in-law who happens to have his birthday on Christmas day. While he was here for Thanksgiving he mentioned that he liked the idea of macadamia nuts and white chocolate. There are tons of recipes floating a round, but I referred to my trusty cookie book by Alice Medich!! He was happy with them!

Hope everyone has had a great Christmas and an even better New Year!! 
Bring on 2013!!

Flatplanet Brownies!! {book re-review}

Thanksgiving was a big hit this year because of Leon: Family & Friends (book 4) by Kay Plunkett-Hogge & John Vincent; since I already raved about it in that post I will try to keep it to a minimum here!

Leon’s fourth book is a great addition to any cookbook collection, not only does it have great savory recipes (as seen on my Thanksgiving table), but plenty for those with a sweet tooth as well!

For Instance:
  • Miss Morton’s Lemon Cake
  • Susanna Mattana’s Amaretti Macaroons
  • Honey & Rose Baklava
  • Momma’s Apple Pie
  • Anna Hansen’s Pumpkin & Miso Cheesecake
  • Spiced Cranberry & Apple Crumble
  • Cheat’s Chocolate Trifle
  • And
  • Many more… including these brownies called Flatplanet Brownies.
These brownies come from John Vincent’s little café that focuses on the good stuff (food) called … wait for it … Flatplanet. At Flatplanet they make a lot of wheat and gluten free cakes and apparently these are very popular! I can see why. Super gooey and chocolaty - what more could you ask for in a brownie??

All you need is 450g butter, chopped; 450g chocolate, chopped (min 50%); 400g caster sugar; 6 eggs; 300g ground almonds.

To make pre-heat your oven to 120C/250F/gas ½ Carefully melt the butter in a large saucepan and when almost melted add the chocolate. Keep stirring until completely smooth and then take off the heat and stir in sugar. In another bowl beat the eggs lightly then beat into the chocolate mixture. Add the ground almonds and mix with the balloon whisk, until there are no large pockets of almonds left. Grease and line a brownie pan (26 x 36cm) and pour mixture into pan. Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes (70minutes) or until starting to crack on the surface. Allow them to cool for at least an hour. Mine needed longer. Then cut and enjoy!!

If you know someone who needs to learn to cook then this book is for him or her! It’ll be a subtle hint if they find it under the tree! Or if you know someone who already loves to cook and they don’t own a single Leon cookbook what a great way to introduce them to the wonders of Leon! 

I have never been to Flatplanet so can’t compare brownies.
Amazon UK or available in local stores

Pizza Sugar Cookies!!

My daughter turned 5 on Friday! I can't believe how fast it's gone! I know all parents say that. When I was pregnant I used to get annoyed by all the people who would tell me that it would go fast. Now I'm saying it myself, because it's so true.

To celebrate we let her have her first party. With her birthday so close to Christmas we tended to only have small family parties. People are so busy this time of year I didn't want to add one more thing others lists! First I wanted to throw her a My Little Pony Party or a Winter Princess Party, but most of her friends are boys and we were having it in the house. We are limited to space, so 5 of her friends were invited for a Pizza Party!!

I had all sorts of fantastical ideas of it being the best party ever with the kids making their own pizzas and having hand made aprons to take home as their party gift... I'm glad I chucked those ideas right out of my head!! In the end I bought pizzas and made these delicious vanilla cookies for them to take home in their party bags.
to make: use your favorite sugar cookie recipe!! I used Shauna Sever's Big, Soft Frosted Vanilla Sugar Cookies from her book Pure Vanilla. I wanted them to look like mini pizzas so, I dyed 1/3 of the frosting red. Spread that on first for the 'tomato sauce', then the white on top of that for 'cheese' then used different sprinkles for the 'toppings'!
I asked the kids if they thought they looked like mini pizzas, all of them, but one polite little girl, said no! Ah well, they were still delicious!! Now I have about 7 weeks to decide what to make for the littlest ones birthday! They really do grow up fast!!

note to self: 4/5 year-old's aren't really all that interested in games they were way more happier just playing then when I was trying to coax them into Pizza Bingo or Pizza Darts and Hot Tomato. note to other parents: I hate party bags. They end up in the trash the second they leave your party. Pure Vanilla is available on Amazon UK or US. My views on the book and the Lemon Dream Bars I made from it.

Forever Nigella #21 - Christmas Rocky Road!!

I do love Nigella and have seen the Forever Nigella banner before, but never really looked into it. When Laura, from the blog Laura Loves Cakes, said she was hosting this months Forever Nigella I knew I was going to tag along! That and I always reach for my Nigella books this time of year. Her recipes are indulgent and comforting exactly what you need in the winter!

I choose Christmas Rocky Road off of Nigella’s website and it says it can also be found in Nigella Christmas. I made a few changes to suit what was already in my cupboard - I used 200g for both dark and milk chocolate where the original recipe it’s split 250 dark/150 milk. Also my glace cherries were not red, just plain. I do realize that by using plain glace cherries it kind of misses the point. You would choose red ones because red is one of the colors associated with Christmas and they would stand out once the bars were all cut up! I also choose to opt out of edible glitter, even though I have some. It’s not my favorite thing, edible glitter. I don’t really have a reason - I just don’t like it. 

I wrapped mine up in a festive holiday bag and gave it to our dentist office. :0) Might be a weird gift to people who make a living out of keeping teeth clean, but my eldest has a couple cavities (I know, I know!) and they have taken great care of her there. I just wanted them to know they are appreciated! That doesn't mean I didn't try the end pieces when cutting it up! It was gorgeous! I love the amaretti biscuits in there! Think I might need to make another batch sooner rather then later! And I'm not sure I will share!! Enjoy!! 

Christmas Rocky Road:

200g dark chocolate
200g milk chocolate
175g butter, soft
4 tbsp golden syrup
200g amaretti biscuits, smashed
200g brazil nuts, shelled and bashed
150g glace cherries, red
125g mini marshmallows, save the leftovers for hot chocolate
1 tbsp icing sugar
sprinkling of edible glitter, optional

  1. Break up both the dark and milk chocolate, then with the butter and golden syrup, melt in a heavy-based pan over a gentle heat. Once melted take off the heat.
  2. Add smashed amaretti biscuits, bashed brazil nuts, glace cherries (I used regular ones as that’s what was in my cupboard), and mini marshmallows to the melted chocolate and carefully coat.
  3. Pour the mixture into any tray or tin you have - It all depends on how fat or thin you want them. I used my 9x9 silicone pan and Nigella uses a 236mm x 296mm foil tin. On another note if you don’t use silicone or a foil tray line your tin with clingfilm or foil for easy release - Smooth as best you can.
  4. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 ½ to 2 hours.
  5. Remove the block of Rocky Road from the tin and sprinkle with the icing sugar and edible glitter if using.
  6. Cut into any size squares you want! Visit the link below to Nigella’s site for how to make about 24 even squares and for make-ahead tips! :0) 
I used a little more then 1 tbsp icing sugar....hahaha!
Thank you to Laura @lauralovescakes for hosting find her site here!
Thank you to Maison Cupcake founder of Forever Nigella blog hop!
Nigella’s official site 
Nigella Christmas: Amazon UK, other sources

Maltesers Chocolate Mini Donut!! [baked]

I adapted this recipe as best I could for a UK audience. It is still listed in cups, but really sets of measuring cups are easy to come by. I did change products where needed, ex: plain flour = all purpose flour, icing sugar = powdered sugar and so on.

Only last week I shared my first thoughts on this book and said how I wasn't sure what to make first! Well, these came first not because of choice but because I had everything already in my cupboard! It was an easy way to decide!

They were easy to make, but they do take time. My mini doughnut pan holds twenty. So, to fill them up, wait the 7-9 minutes, cool down enough to take out of the pan and repeat, then ice each donut by dipping. I don’t mean to put you off because if you have a rhythm you won’t notice the time! It would take more or less the same amount of time if using an electric donut maker. It usually holds 5-6 donuts, but only takes 3-4 minutes.

They were good and we all ate them up right away! Enjoy! 

Maltesers Malted Chocolate Mini Donut 
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • ¼ cup chocolate malted-milk powder (I just used Horlicks)
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder, sifted
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup whole milk
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp sour cream
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract (I used vanilla bean paste)
Pre-heat oven to 350F/180C and grease donut pan. Sift together flour, malted-milk, cocoa, and baking powder, and salt. Whisk together the egg and sugar. Then add in the milk, oil, sour cream, and vanilla until combined. Gently stir in the flour mixture, stirring so there are no lumps. Fill each donut indentation ¾ full. Bake for 7-9 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Transfer to rack and let cool. Place paper towels or parchment paper underneath for easy clean up.

for icing:
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp whole milk
  • 1 tbsp golden syrup
  • 55g bittersweet chocolate, chopped or buttons/chips
  • 1 cup icing sugar, sifted
Melt the butter in a saucepan then add milk, golden syrup, and chocolate stir slowly until completely melted. Take off the heat and whisk in sifted (it’ll be lumpy if you don’t sift it) icing sugar. Immediately dip the top of each donut into the icing and transfer back to the wire rack.
to finish:
  • 1 or 2 bag of Maltesers, crushed or cut in half
Sprinkle on top of iced donuts. Let set for 10 minutes before eating (if you can wait that long). Donuts can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days, but are best when eaten fresh!

This recipe, adapted for UK bakers, is from Mini Donuts: 100 Bite-Sized Donut Recipes to Sweeten Your “Hole” Day by Jessica Segarra Creator of The Novice Chef Blog (Maltesers are Whoppers; Whoppers are Maltesers)

My "review"; The Novice Chef; Amazon UK, Amazon US, I bought my mini doughnut pan from Lakeland's. You can easily use an electric donut maker just follow the manufacture’s instructions.

Figgy Pudding Cupcakes!!

Tis the season to be reading and baking! I love books and baking! Unfortunately I haven’t been able to keep up with Kelly (American Cupcake in London) and her Cupcake Book Blog as much as I would have liked, but since I loved Meet Me at The Cupcake Café I knew I would be reading this title. Might as well bake from it and join in! Right?

I’m always a bit weary with sequels and series, but I was definitely excited to find out what happened next with Issy and her café! 

Issy is our main character in the first book she follows her dreams and opens The Cupcake Café. In the second book we see her face a tough decision- a decision I myself once had to make.

I really enjoyed Christmas at the Cupcake Café and would recommend it to fellow readers and/or bakers! I only re-read books I really enjoyed or related too. I think with these (2) books it was a bit of both. Even though I have no desire to own a café, I do enjoy sharing the love I put into my baking with friends and family.I get a feeling that Jenny Colgan hasn't finished with these characters and if she decides to write another one I will be first in line to get a copy.

Figgy Pudding Cupcakes

100g unsalted butter
100g treacle
50g sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp cardamom
½ tsp ground cloves
250g all-purpose flour
25g unsweetened cocoa powder
½ tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
100ml milk
1 tsp brandy
1 tsp vanilla

Pre-heat oven to 170C/gas mark 3 and butter cupcake tin
Combine dry ingredients, sift, and set aside
Cream butter, treacle, and sugar until fluffy
Add eggs one at a time and beat until combined. Add vanilla and brandy.
Bake for 20-22 minutes. Ice if you want with brandy butter icing.
Or do what I did and just mix brandy with icing sugar for a nice kick!

from Christmas at the Cupcake Café by Jenny Colgan 
made for Cupcake Book Club hosted by American Cupcake in London

I have always wondered what “figgy pudding” was in We Wish You a Merry Christmas:

Now! bring us some figgy pudding (x3)
and bring some out here. (or, and bring it us here)
For we all like figgy pudding (x3)
so bring some out here.
And we won't go until we've got some (x3)
so bring some out here. 
After trying these cupcakes I would change the lyrics to “figgy pudding cupcakes”! Realizing that figgy pudding is basically a traditional Christmas Pudding, after a Google search, I wish I had decorated them a little different. Ah well! They were super yummy and the spices shout out warmth and comfort! I can’t wait to see what other inspired bakes come from other readers! 

Clotted Cream Fudge! What I made the first time I joined in with the Cupcake Book Club! 

Lemon-Vanilla Dream Bars!!

So, I've probably mentioned on here before that Mr. Knightley is allergic to citrus. I therefore don’t usually use lemon/orange/lime/grapefruit and so on in my baking. Like in Mary Berry’s Very Best Chocolate Orange Cake- it was just a chocolate cake. It was for Mr. Knightley's office and I couldn't have him going in there and not eating any of the cake I made!! They would have thought it poisoned or worse horrible tasting…

Anyhow a few of my girl-friends and I have nights in where we all provide something for the evening. I always volunteer for dessert. Did I even need to tell you that? I mean come on, but I also use this as an opportunity to make things Mr. Knightly can’t or won’t (he is a picky eater) eat.

I love vanilla and lemon bars/tarts and key lime pies etc… so when I came across this less messy version of a lemon bar in Pure Vanilla by Shauna Sever it had to be made!  Everyone loved it! A soft vanilla blondie type base with smooth lemon curd swirled through the top. Who could ask for more?

Lemon-Vanilla Dream Bars

10 ounces (280g) white chocolate
6 tbsp (about 84g), unsalted butter, cubed
¼ cup granulated sugar
½ tsp salt
2 large eggs, room temp
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp vanilla bean paste       
1 cup all-purpose (plain) flour, sifted
½ store-bought lemon curd

Pre-heat oven to 350F/180C, line 8 x 8 pan with parchment paper with some hanging over for easy removal Melt 8 oz (225g) and butter in your preferred method, once melted stir in sugar and salt. Whisk in eggs one at a time and then whisk in both vanillas. Gently fold in flour using a spatula; when a few streaks of flour are left fold in the rest of the chocolate (2 oz./55g) and scrape batter into prepared pan. In 5-6 equal portions place the lemon curd on top. With a butter knife swirl curd into batter with a figure 8 motion. Bake for 25-28 minutes until toothpick comes out clean not dry. Let them cool completely before removing from the tin. When they are cooled just grab the overhanging parchment paper and cut into 12 bars or you know 6 depending on who you're serving! 

notes: Mary Berry’s Very Best Chocolate Orange Cake, Mr Knightley (Jane Austen's Emma) is my husband (not really my husband as he's a fictional character, but what I call my husband on this blog. It's fitting trust me.), I used Lindt Excellence White Chocolate A Touch of Vanilla for added vanilla flavor and I used my brownie pan not an 8x8 (would have been better with a thicker base, but really not complaining), I am sleepy, my thoughts on the book, buy the book UK or US, check out Shauna Sever’s website, and Quality Street’s are hands down way better then Roses, Hero’s, or Celebrations…fact. 

Mini Donuts: 100 Bite-Sized Donut Recipes to Sweeten Your "Hole" Day by Jessica Segarra {bookreview}

I love donuts! I love them fried or bake, sugar or chocolate coated, sprinkled or glazed, I love them pretty much anyway. So, when I was lazily looking around Amazon the other day (the only place I can really get these fun American sweet cookbooks) and this title popped up I bought it without a second thought. I even bought it over any one of the titles on my long wish list. Sometimes you just gotta have it!!

I don’t have a donut maker, but I have a donut pan. The recipes give instructions for both. Some of the recipes do need to be fried, but that shouldn't be a problem either if you have a stove! After making Vanilla Bean Baby Doughnuts with my pan I have been meaning to make more, now that I have this book I have no excuse. Nor am I short of ideas!

Normally I would list all the recipes that are a must try and to be honest I don’t even know where I am going to start with these!! The chapters are: The Classics; Chocolate; Fruity; Donuts of the Stars; Bakery Specials; Candy-Aisle Donuts; Drinks to Donuts; For the Kid in You. This is an American cookbook so first its in cups, ounces, and sticks (of butter) and second there are a few ingredients that aren't easy to find locally. Even though they might not be sourced locally there are a lot of online American grocery stores to source from.

Jessica Segarra author and creator of The Novice Chef blog

Herby Sausage & Apple Stuffing! Thanksgiving and book review

Since we were able to have family over for Thanksgiving this year, because we had it on Saturday, I went all out!!

The menu:
Creamy Onion & Garlic Soup (New Covent Garden: All Seasons cookbook)
Roast Turkey with Scarborough Fair Butter
Herby Sausage & Apple Stuffing
Perfect Roast Potatoes
Sautéd Brussels Sprouts
Green Bean Casserole

Gravy and cranberry sauce
Super-Pumpkiny Pumpkin Pie (Flour by Joanne Chang)

Packed up Thanksgiving Dinner for my father-in-law.
4 out 8 of the recipes I used above I took from Leon book 4: Family & Friends! I've never been to a Leon restaurant, but I have book 2 and loved it so when I had this one land on my doorstep last week I couldn't wait to tuck in! Leon is all about food that tastes good and does you good. 
The book is divided into 3 sections: Today: what you make today; Tomorrow: what you’re planning on having tomorrow; Yesterday: food/meals of memory and events. In “Tomorrow” there is a whole section dedicated to Christmas & Boxing Day. Which is about the same stuff I eat for Thanksgiving! It was perfect! The book offers so much more, it is full of classic and adventurous recipes for all levels of cooks! Everything recipe I tried this weekend was exceptional and yummy!!  

I will say up front that I didn't take a lot of pictures. It was a busy day and I was living in the moment. Something Leon is all about. Enjoying food with Friends & Family!! It was a great dinner shared with my little family and my brother-in-law and his girlfriend. She loved the Herby Sausage & Apple Stuffing so much I thought I would share it with you and her as she asked for the recipe! I added a few notes on what I changed or did slightly different!

all that was left!
Herby Sausage & Apple Stuffing:

1 tbsp olive oil
400g gluten-free sausage meat (I used Bramley Apple and Pork Sausages)
the turkey liver, chopped (optional)
1 onion, chopped
2 apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
125g cooked chestnuts, roughly chopped (I didn't use them because I don’t like chestnuts) 
125g gluten-free breadcrumbs (I used a bit more breadcrumbs as I left out the chestnuts)
8 small fresh sage leaves, chopped
8 sprigs of fresh thyme, leave picked
a pinch of ground allspice
125ml good cider
50ml water
salt and freshly ground black pepper

  1. Heat the olive oil in a pan and fry the sausage meat until cooked. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. If there is a lot of fat left in the pan, drain some off.
  2. If using, add the turkey liver to the pan and fry until cooked. (I soaked mine in milk while I was prepping other things) Remove and set aside. Add the onions and apple to the pan and fry until slightly soft.
  3. Put everything into a large bowl and mix together thoroughly, adding the cider and water. Drink the rest of the cider while greasing an ovenproof dish. Spoon the stuffing into the dish and pop into a preheated oven at 190C/375F/gas5 for 30-35 minutes, or until crispy on top.
The whole meal was a big hit and I can’t wait to make some of these recipes a part of my Thanksgiving in the UK tradition!

Leon: Family & Friends by Kay Plunkett-Hogge & John Vincent: Amazon UK, The Book People, Octopus Publishing

Super-Pumpkiny Pumpkin Pie

I moved my Thanksgiving dinner to Saturday (today) instead of Thursday, because in the past having a big meal that late at night was uncomfortable. It also means family and friends are more easily able to join us!

Surprisingly I have never made a pumpkin pie myself. I have eaten a lot of pumpkin pies in my years I have loved them since I was a kid and never understood why we didn't eat them all year long! When thinking of what recipe to use I didn't even look at another book, as I remembered there was a recipe in Joanne Chang’s Flour. I know a few other books in my crazy obsessive collection that probably have perfectly acceptable recipes, but this one stood out in my memory.

The pie is super-pumpkiny and tasted amazing. It was the perfect smooth and creamy constancy that made me forget about any other pumpkin pie from my past! Might become my go-to pumpkin pie recipe! Enjoy! And Happy (belated) Thanksgiving!!

Super-Pumpkiny Pumpkin Pie

Pie Dough:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, cut into cubes
2 egg yolks
3 tablespoons milk

Equipment: 9-inch pie pan

Make the Pie Dough: In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar, and salt and mix to combine. Add the butter and continue mixing until the mixture holds together when you clump it, and there are pecan-sized lumps of butter still visible.
Meanwhile, whisk together the yolks and milk in small bowl.
Add the yolk mixture to the flour mixture and mix until a dough forms. Transfer the dough to a sheet of plastic wrap, wrap well and store in the refrigerator for several hours. (The dough will keep for several days in the fridge and several weeks in the freezer.)

1 ½ cups canned pumpkin
½ cup brown sugar
2/3 cup heavy cream
7 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk
6 ½ tablespoons evaporated milk
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pinch ground clove
Pinch salt
2 eggs
1 egg yolk

On a lightly floured work surface, roll half of the dough into a 11 to 12-inch circle about 1/8 inch thick. Line the pan with the dough and crimp the edges. Chill the pie shell for about 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Line the pie shell with aluminum foil and fill with dried beans. Bake the shell until golden brown, about 45 minutes. Remove the foil and beans.
Meanwhile, make the Filling: Lower the oven to 325 degrees F. In a medium saucepan, mix together the pumpkin and sugar. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until reduced and thick, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the cream, milks, vanilla, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, salt, eggs, and yolk. Pour the filling into the pie shell and bake until set, about 45 to 55 minutes. Cool and serve

To Finish: I added  cinnamon and vanilla to whipping cream and whipped it up!! Topped our pumpkin pies! 

What I made last year: Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake
Joanna Chang’s Flour: Amazon US, Amazon UK, my first thoughts, my cousin’s book signing experience,
Note: Sorry the pictures aren't that good. It’s hard this time of year to get pictures in natural daylight. First it isn't light for long and second I live in England most of the time this time of year it’s cloudy! I have one slice of pie left that I am coveting until the morning to try to get a better picture! At least that’s what I've told everyone! ;0) 

Oatmeal Scotchies (butterscotch)

As I mentioned in my last post, winter is upon us. What that means for us residing in England is cold rain and gray cloudy skies. The only difference between winter and the other seasons is the “cold” part. Which doesn't improve it at all!!

Feeling the need to make the house warm and cozy I thought I’d make some cookies. I had some butterscotch Nestle Toll House morsels/chips hanging out in the cupboard. I thought, even though I know there are about a million dozen recipes online and in my books that could make good use out of these chips, that I’d just use the recipe on the back of the package.

Having Goggled “Oatmeal Scotchies” (after I made the cookies may I add) so many bloggers added clever things like coconut and stuff. Ah well, maybe next time. They were good just as is! Enjoy!
Oatmeal Scotchies
1 ¼ cups all purpose flour (plain flour)
1 tsp baking soda (baking powder)
½ tsp salt
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup (2 sticks (228/230g) unsalted butter or margarine, softened
¾ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups quick or old-fashioned oats (rolled oats)
1 2/3 cups (11oz. pkg) Nestle Toll House Butterscotch flavored morsels

Pre-heat oven to 375F/190C
Combine flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Beat butter, both sugars, eggs, and vanilla in a large mixer bowl. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in oats and morsels. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto ungreased baking sheets.
Bake for about 7-8 minutes for chewy cookies or 9-10 minutes for crisp cookies. Cool on baking sheets for 1-2 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

I wasn't lying above where I said they were good. Because they are good, but…

…I don’t know if it’s just me or not, but they are not as addictive as a good ol chocolate chip cookie. I think it was because the morsels/chips are butterscotch flavored, not actual butterscotch. In the UK there are so many rules about additives in food I think that after 7 ½ years I can really tell the difference.

Thanksgiving is tomorrow. I will be celebrating on Saturday with my little family and in-laws. I can’t wait to share with you what I make! I am not one of those bloggers who bakes/cooks a head of time to have posts up before the actual holiday or event. I do apologize for this if you find that annoying. ;0)

Last year I made Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake for dessert! It was good. This year I am going for a traditional pumpkin pie! Hope all my American friends, family, and followers have a great day of food, family, friends, and laughter! 

Bramble and Chocolate Bread!!

Winter is here! It makes me want to stay in a bake 24/7, if only I had the time! Skimming through my cookbooks looking for some good comfort food, I stumbled upon this recipe in Sue Lawrence’s A Cook’s Tour of Scotland.

It seemed interesting and having all the ingredients, except for the brambles (blackberries), it was decided! After a walk to the store I was all set! The house wasn't so warm so it took a little longer to rise then stated. The brambles burst in the oven and it oozed out of the top of the loaf. It was beautiful.

Bramble and Chocolate Bread

500g/1lb 2oz unbleached strong white flour, sifted
7g sachet of fast-action/easy-blend dried yeast
25g/1oz golden caster sugar
1 level tsp salt
2 tbsp sunflower oil
150g/5 ½ oz quality milk and/or dark chocolate, chopped
250g/9oz brambles (blackberries)

Mix together the flour, yeast, sugar, and salt; make a well in the center and slowly pour in the oil and enough tepid water (about 300ml/10fl oz/ ½ pint) to make a softish dough. (To have tepid water, mix two-thirds boiling water and one-third cold water.)
Using floured hands, bring the dough together and turn out on to a floured board then knead for 8-10 minutes, or until smooth. Keep the board lightly floured. The dough should be soft and shiny-looking but not too sticky. Place in an oiled bowl and cover with oiled clingfilm. Leave somewhere warm for 1-2 hours.
Lightly oil a baking sheet. Punch down the dough and roll out to a rectangle about 38 x 28cm/15 x 11 in. About the size of a baking sheet.
Scatter the chocolate and brambles over the long half then roll up along the long side to make a roly-poly about 38cm/15 in long.
Place this on the prepared baking sheet and cover loosely with oiled clingfilm then place somewhere warm. Leave to rise for about 45 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 230C/450F/gas8. Remove the clingfilm, slash the top of the loaf five to six times and bake in the oven for about 20-25 minutes. Remove to a wire rack to cool until just warm before eating. Don’t want to burn yourself with hot melted chocolate!

Bipartisan Cake {apple crumb cake}

Hello. Last night I baked Bipartisan Cake (Apple Crumb Cake) from Baked in American by the David’s owners of Outsider Tart (London). Having already baked a several things from the book I won’t be sharing the recipe with you, but it’s yummy to look at!

I didn't just choose the Bipartisan Cake (pg 126) because of the apples (of course I did). I choose it because the David’s conceived the cake the week Barack Obama first took office 4 years ago. Obama has a thing for caramel apple cake apparently? It also evolved from an Alaskan recipe, where Sarah Palin is from. Hence why the cake is called Bipartisan (Bipartisanship involves trying to find common ground) Cake. Now that Obama has just had another victory I thought I’d make it and share it with friends, but unfortunately not with you…. unless you have the book. Sorry, I am mean like that. 
The cake is has a caramel apple filling mixed in a cinnamony cake batter, topped with lots of crumbs mixed with pecans (or walnuts your choice). I like this cake, it’s perfect with a cup of coffee or tea which ever your preference is! It also works as a dessert cake: top it with ice cream or cream (again depending on taste or culture preference), caramel drizzle or a simple glaze.

More from Baked in America:

Blackout Cake (recipe)
Are you convinced you need to own this book?? visit Amazon UK and Amazon USA

American History: Obama, Palin, bipartisan

Guy "Forks" Marshmallow Brownies!!

A few days ago I shared with you my thoughts of The Vintage Tea Party Year by Angel Adoree where I said I would be letting you know how I got on with the book.

If my first attempt says anything I know this book is going to be a great addition to my collection. There were a few things that made me decide on this particular recipe. 1. it was Guy Fawkes Night (aka bonfire night)  and 2. Brownies.

I mean really do I need to say more?? After reading the recipe I was very interested by the cinnamon. I love cinnamon. (I love a lot of things please bear with me!) Why have I never thought to add cinnamon to brownies?? I knew I couldn’t waste any time in trying these out.

I think I will be adding cinnamon to all my brownies from now on (not really). Seriously though they were very yummy. More of a ‘cakey’ brownie then a proper brownie, but I’m really not all that picky. Enjoy!!

Guy "Forks" Marshmallow Brownies 

200g (7oz) dark chocolate
250g (9oz) butter, cubed
250g (9oz) dark muscovado sugar
4 eggs
185g (6 ½ oz) plain flour, sifted
35g cocoa powder, sifted
¼ tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
150g (5 ½ oz) marshmallows, mini or chopped

Preheat oven 160C/fan140C/gas3. Line a 20cm (8in) square tin or brownie pan with baking paper.
Melt the chocolate (break it up) and butter together in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Allow to cool slightly.
Place the sugar, eggs, flour, cocoa powder, and cinnamon in a bowl. Add the chocolate mixture and mix until just combined. Fold in the marshmallows.
Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 50-60 minutes until skewer comes out clean.
Allow to cool before cutting

Angel Adoree’s serving suggestion: Cut into 16 bite-sized pieces. Pierce a cocktail fork into the top of half of the bites and arrange in a checkerboard fashion.

I hope everyone has had a fun and safe bonfire night!! 

notes: My thoughts on The Vintage Tea Party Year! Brownie Quest: Definitely would make again!