Excessive Mince Pie Biscuits

You know how when you’re at the store and you buy something you think you don’t have, but then upon return it turns out there are like 5 of the something you thought you didn't have?


Well, it turns out I had plenty of mincemeat jars stashed away in my cupboard. Every year I think to myself that I will make homemade mince pies and every year I don’t.

It’s a bit like when Georgie stashes mince pies and Bucks Fizz all over her kitchen. I stash baking supplies!

Who is Georgie? She’s the heroine of the novels Cupcakes at Carrington’s and Christmas at Carrington’s by Alexandra Brown. I have read both for Kelly’s Book Club over on American Cupcake Life.

Christmas at Carrington’s pretty much starts where the last book left off. It’s a good reflection on how the beginnings of relationships have lots of ups and downs. Sometimes it is better to go with what you feel then what’s in laid out in front of you.

I don’t want to give too much away, but if Georgie hadn’t listened to others… well then we wouldn’t have had a book would we have!

It was a good Christmas read, but please don’t be put off the Christmas theme now that Christmas is over! Just like I want you to trust me and try these mince pie biscuits even though it’s out of season!

I was inspired by Georgie to make these Mince Pie Biscuits for her unnaturally habit to buy excessive amounts of things just because they are on offer!

Mince Pie Biscuits           

250g unsalted butter, softened
140g golden granulated sugar
1 egg yolk
grated zest of a clementine, or easy peel orange
300g plain flour
411g jar of mincemeat

Preheat the oven to 180C/gas4 and line a baking sheet(s) with greaseproof paper. Beat the butter and sugar together. If the butter isn’t soft enough stick it in the microwave for 5-10 second intervals to soften it up. Add the egg yolk and zest before beating until combined. Sift the flour in and mix until it forms dough. Fold in most of the mincemeat. It makes it very sticky. You may need to use your hands to get it to come together. I used an everyday tablespoon to scoop out the dough and place on the prepared baking sheets. If you want you can make a dent in the dough and place some of the remaining mincemeat on top. I didn’t and now I’m left with some leftover, but that’s my problem. Bake for 10-20 minutes. It really depends on how big you make them mine took 15 minutes. They will have turned a bit golden on top, but should still be a little soft in the middle. Leave to cool or serve warm with some cream!

They are very good and because it’s not in pie form, I really don’t relate it to Christmas! I hope you get a chance to read the book and keep an eye out for next month’s book on Kelly’s site!

notes: American Cupcake Life Cupcake Book Club hosted by Kelly; Christmas at Carrington’s by Alexandra Brown; my Cupcake at Carrington’sinspired treat; the recipe is adapted from Issue 24 Nov/Dec11 of Jamie’s Magazine

Chocolate Pretzel Fudge Bites aka Mouth-Fulls

Chocolate Pretzel Fudge Bites is a bit of a mouth full to say and mouths will be full when you make these… maybe I should have called them “Mouth-Fulls” or something just as silly?

The salty pretzel covered with the sweetness of chocolate is a classic combo that a lot of people love.

Including Mr. Knightley; they are his favorite! I made these with him in mind.

Well, it started because I bought him Caramel & Pretzel Chocolate clusters at Marks and Spencers. They were pretty damn good!

I should know I ate most of them. I figured I better make it up to him, so I had a look in my cupboard…

I had the chocolate, pretzels, and Sainsbury’s mini Cornish Fudge chunks in my cupboard. As I’m in the process of using up things in my cupboard I thought why not!

Fudge and caramel are not they same thing, but they come from the same family of sweets.

They are easy to throw together and make a tasty chocolate treat! You could also use these as an egg nest during the Easter season. Just top them with some chocolate eggs. You could also decorate with sprinkles or use candy melts for different colors. A pretty versatile treat, it’s up to you. Enjoy!

Chocolate Pretzel Fudge Bites

200g milk chocolate
50g (more or less) pretzels, smashed
100g Sainsbury’s mini Cornish Fudge chunks
cupcake/muffin cases

Melt the chocolate using your preferred method. I melted them in a glass bowl over simmering water. Then add the smashed pretzels coating them completely before adding the fudge chunks. Mix thoroughly before spooning them into cupcake cases. I made 11 but it all depends on how you want to divide them up! Let them set before eating! 

notes: Mr Knightley is my husband, see the about me page to be disappointed that I don’t explain it further. I was shopping at M&S because I had a gift card. I bought Sainsbury's mini Cornish Fudge chunks prior to knowing I would use them in this recipe!

Dishes are the Worst Household Chore ... Ever!

For my birthday I asked for a new vacuum cleaner. The one I was using was completely useless and was so loud I used to get a headache from it. No one gave me a vacuum cleaner. I was actually disappointed.

I’m not against getting useful things as presents. I love useless, self-involved presents as well, but practical gifts are always appreciated! Anyway our dishwasher went kaput a few months ago. It leaked water everywhere and the floor needed to be replaced.  

I could not hand wash all the dishes a family of four produce, forever. Two or three meals a day times a family of four, plus the dishes added from my baking obsession equals a lot of dishes. They just take so much time and it’s never ending. Honestly dishes are the worst household chore ever.

I actually asked Santa for one, but just like my birthday and the vacuum cleaner one never appeared.

After the new tiles were laid and doing some research I started to think about what I wanted in a dishwasher, considering my husband refused to take the role, I finally decided on a Bosch dishwasher. I found mine at Argos online here.

It had everything I was after A+ energy rating, child locks (because kids of all ages love buttons), full size (which allows me to fit a days worth of dishes in), overflow protection (ahem), and it is affordable.

Now after a big baking/cooking session I can just throw (not literally) the dishes into the dishwasher and push a few buttons and they are done! Now this year for my birthday I am free to ask for useless self-involved presents! Or a new bed set?

notes: In association with Argos; for more information please see my contact/policy page. 

Pie, Pecan Pie

Originally this pie was intended to be made the same weekend that the Rum & Sultana fudge was. It was suppose to be the dessert for my Thanksgiving dinner that weekend. 

Anyway if you read my post on the fudge you’ll already know I didn't because I had tonsillitis. I had to cancel Thanksgiving. I had plans to host my American friend, who moved here early last year, and my friends who are half American.

I was feeling very sorry for myself that weekend. Not that anyone really wants to know, but my throat was so swollen I looked like I had no neck. It was awful!

Then I thought I would make it for Christmas dinner dessert, but because Christmas Eve was chaotic (long story) I didn't make it the day before and couldn't be bothered to make it the day of. A problem I had most of the holiday season. 

I had 200g of pecans sitting in my cupboard waiting to be used. There are numerous ways I could have used them up. However I thought I’d stick with the original plan.

So, as I finally get to the point, here is the Salted Pecan Fudge Pie I made for absolutely no other reason then because I could.

I’m not very good with pastry. I’m not terrible, but there is definite room for improvement. Needless to say I get a little anxious every time I make my own pastry. However I needn't have worried as it turned out well, as did the filling!

I do like pecans, they are probably my favorite nut. It's a wonder why I have never even tried a pecan pie nor made one before now. This particular version is super sweet and I don’t think I could manage more than a small slice. Overall though I was very pleased with my efforts! Enjoy!

Sweet Shortcrust Pastry

250g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
50g golden icing sugar
a pinch of salt
135g butter, straight from the fridge, cubed (small)
1 medium egg, beaten
2-3 tbsp milk

Sift the flour, sugar, and salt into a food processor. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs. Add the egg and milk (start with 2 tbsp and only add a third if needed) and pulse until the dough comes together. Lightly dust your worktop with flour and very quickly knead the dough into a ball. Handle as little as possible as not to melt the butter. Wrap in clingfilm and chill for at least 30 minutes before using.

Lightly dust your worktop with flour and roll out the pastry to about 3mm thick and line your tart tin with it. Make sure the edge of the pastry stands just a little bit above the rim. Trim the edges and prick the base with a fork. Chill in the fridge for another 30 minutes to help prevent shrinkage.

Preheat the oven to 200C/fan180C/gas6 and place a baking sheet in the oven to heat up. Take the tin from the fridge and line with baking paper and baking beans. Place on top of preheated baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Once the time has passed remove the paper and beans and bake for a further 5-10 minutes until the pastry is dry. Set aside.

Salted Pecan Fudge Pie

100g pecans, chopped plus 80-100g pecan halves
100g soft light brown sugar
125g butter
200ml double cream
1 tsp salt, flakes
2 medium eggs, beaten
3 tbsp apricot jam, warmed

Spread the chopped pecans evenly over a baking sheet and lightly toast, in the already heated oven, for 8-10 minutes. Watch them closely they can burn easily. Set aside.

Reduce the oven to 180C/160Cfan/gas4. Place the sugar, butter, and cream in a saucepan over a low heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Cool slightly before adding in the toasted pecans, salt, and eggs.

Pour into the pastry case and arrange the pecan halves on top in a circular pattern. Bake in the oven on the hot baking sheet for 25-30 minutes.

When the pie comes out of the oven gently heat the jam in a small saucepan and brush the top of the pie with the jam to give it a shiny glaze.

Serve with whipped cream or ice cream or eat on its own!

notes: Thanksgiving is always the last Thursday of November, however since being in the UK I tend to celebrate the following Saturday: mainly because I like a relaxed atmosphere and after work and school is never relaxing. This recipe is from The Higgidy Cookbook by Camilla Stephens. I bought it for myself from The Book People, right before Christmas they had a deal a day and I got it with some other cookbooks and books for the girls. 

Mickey Mouse Birthday Cake!! {guest post}

My next cake was for my youngest son's 2nd birthday.  I wanted to make a rainbow cake as I really wanted to surprise our guests by doing the big reveal as the cake was cut, but my husband said it was "a bit excessive" for a two year old (spoilsport!).  So it was back to the drawing board for me.  My son is a chocolate cake lover, so I thought I'd start with that. But I didn't have a clue how to decorate it.

For the cake, I returned to Jo Wheatley's A Passion for Baking as I have always found her recipes reliable. The Chocolate Birthday Cake recipe I have made several times, so knew it would be the perfect moist chocolate cake. Instead of the ganache, I filled and covered it with chocolate buttercream, as I felt this would be more suitable for the occasion. I then completely covered it in Sainsbury's soft chocolate flavour icing, which comes ready to roll (cheat, I know...but I'm still getting to grips with making icing from scratch!).

I was planning to finish the decoration by just cutting some star shapes from different coloured ready-to-roll icing, when my husband reminded me about the small Mickey Mouse cookie cutter I'd recently purchased and was yet to use. As Mickey Mouse is another of my sons favourites, this seemed like the perfect addition.  The stars and Mickey shapes were easily attached to the cake just by painting a little water on the back and gently pushing them on to the cake.

The end result was a simply but effectively decorated moist chocolate cake...and something I've already been asked to make for another birthday!

Before I end this chapter of my baking journey, I must admit to a slight mistake!  The decorated cake was actually the second one I made as I over-baked the first one!  To be fair, it would still have been delicious if it was just for tea, but I wanted the birthday cake to be perfect. It did not go to waste though!  Oh no, it became the most perfect Black Forest Trifle!

To make the trifle, I sliced each sponge in half horizontally and sandwiched them back together with a good quantity of Red Cherry Conserve (I used Sainsbury's Taste the Difference). I then cut each sandwich into large chunks and placed a layer of these into a trifle bowl. Next I drained a tin of cherries, reserving the syrup.  I mixed some of the syrup with a couple of tablespoons of brandy and drizzled half of this over the sponge in the bowl.  Next I added the cherries and then another layer of the sponge, finishing by drizzling the remaining brandy/syrup mix over.  This will sit quite happily in the fridge for a good few hours or overnight.

Before serving, whisk some double cream until thick and layer this over the sponge base.  Finish with a generous grating of dark chocolate.  The perfect way to salvage a chocolate cake.

Sadly, I didn't get a picture of the trifle. But I hope you like the cake!

~ Sharon 

notes: You've seen Sharon's cakes on here before! Check them out here & here

Rum & Sultana Fudge

We all know this is suppose to be Rum & Raisin fudge, but in my attempt to use up stuff in my overflowing baking cupboard I thought I would use month-out-of-date sultanas.

At the end of November I posted a review of The Vintage Sweets book by Angel Adoree. In that review I wrote that I intended to make the Rum & Raisin fudge for my girls school Christmas fete.

Then over night I developed tonsillitis and the fudge never materialized. It wasn't the only thing that I had planned to make that didn't get made last month. 

I have a lot of catching up to do. Plus, as I already mentioned, I need to clear out my baking cupboard.

I let the sultana’s soak over night, because they aren't as soft as raisins. They are however smaller and didn't need to be chopped.

The first time I ever attempted fudge I gave myself, what looked like a third degree burn. It was pretty bad, so please be careful when working with hot sugar!

I didn't burn myself this time, which was a bonus. That and it turned out smooth and melt-in-your-mouth delicious! So, here is the recipe so you can try it out yourself!

Rum & Raisin Sultana Fudge

50ml dark rum
100g raisins, chopped or sultanas
100g butter
397g can sweetened condensed milk
125ml milk
450g demerara sugar

Soak the raisins/sultanas in the rum and set aside. Then line a square 20cm (8in) cake tin with nonstick baking paper.

Combine the rest of the ingredients in a large nonstick saucepan and dissolve the sugar over a medium heat. Remove any sugar crystals by placing a lid on the saucepan for 3 minutes. The condensation should run down the sides of the pan taking the sugar crystals with it, if there are any stubborn crystals use a pastry and warm water to wipe them away.

The mixture should be boiling, bring it down to a simmer. Attach your sugar thermometer to the side of the pan. Stir the mixture constantly until it reaches the softball stage, 116C/240F.

Take the pan off the heat and let it cool down to 110C/230F. Then beat it with a wooden spoon for 10 minutes until the mixture is very thick and resembles smooth peanut butter. Angel tells us that this step is vital to make the fudge thick.

It does get quite thick and tough to mix at that point mix in the raisins and any rum that wasn’t soaked up. My sultanas soaked up a lot of rum because I left it overnight, you’ll have more the less you soak it.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth it down with a spatula and leave to sit for at least 3 hours before cutting into squares.

If you like this recipe in my next post I will be giving away a copy of the book! So, stay tuned!

notes: The Vintage Sweets book by Angel Adoree was provided for the review

Chocolate Beetroot Cake for Clandestine Cake Club!

This is the first cake I have made in over a month! For real.

I don’t know what’s wrong with me? I still have lists of things I’d like to try to make and bake. I just don’t know where I used to find the time!

I have wanted to try a chocolate and beetroot cake or brownies for a long while now. 

Then the theme for this month’s Clandestine Cake Club was “Healthy Start” I thought why not give it a go.

I had several recipes to choose from in various books, but I thought I would try Marian Keyes version in Saved by Cakes as it used already cooked beetroot. 

Which I have no idea what the difference is, I have never tried either raw or cooked beetroot cake before.

Just because a cake has vegetables in it doesn't make it healthy so I lowered the amount of sugar as well.

The cake was very chocolatey and I didn't notice any strong beetroot flavor. It was crumby, but not dry. Again I don’t know if that is normal?

Chocolate Beetroot Cake:

250g cooked beetroot
100g dark chocolate
125g unsalted butter
125g dark muscovado sugar
100g light muscovado sugar
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
225g self-rising flour
30g cocoa powder

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas4 prepare a 23cm circle or square cake tin.
Grate the beetroot and leave to the side. Melt the chocolate carefully in the microwave in 10sec bursts, stirring until completely melted. Leave to the side and beat the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Slowly add the eggs, until completely incorporated. Sift in the flour and cocoa together and add to the butter mixture. Fold in the grated beetroot and melted chocolate.

Pour into the prepared tin, it is thick so get a spatula and scrape the sides. Spread the batter as evenly as possible. Bake for 35-45 minutes until a skewer comes out clean when inserted in the middle. Cool in the tin until you can touch it, remove the cake and cool completely.

to finish:

100g golden icing sugar
2-3 tbsp milk
Red food coloring paste

Gently whisk the icing sugar and milk together. Add 2 tbsp and if it’s too thick add the third, but be wary you don’t want it too runny. Add a toothpick point of red food coloring paste and mix well. If you want it darker add a little bit more. Then pour over the cooled cake and sprinkle with whatever sprinkles you want!

Enjoy! Here are the rest of the cakes: 

Louise our group organizer made an Apple Spice Cake that was full of apples and reminded me of an apple pie.

Clare made a Pecan and Butternut Squash Cake that had no sugar in it. It was very sweet and soft I couldn't believe it didn't have any sugar!

Joanna made a Low Sugar Carrot & Pecan Cake. I love a good carrot cake and once again the lower amount of sugar was unnoticeable.

Jen, fellow blogger at Blue Kitchen Bakes, made a delicious Courgette & Chamomile loaf cake! The tea flavor was definitely noticeable, but not overwhelming.

Charlotte made us a Banana & Strawberry Tea Loaf that was a bit different, but in a good way!

It was an unusually quiet night. It’s a limited space group so usually there are at least half of us “regulars” and always a few new people. I always have a good night when I go and I always look forward to the next meet up! Especially this month as it has gotten me back into baking again. Something I desperately needed after the last month I had!

notes: Clandestine Cake Club; recipe adapted from Saved by Cake by Marian Keyes; make sure your cooked beetroot is in natural juices; melting chocolate in a microwave can be the tricky as it will easily seize up if over heated so stick to 10 sec bursts or use your preferred method; have a read of Jen’s blog here

Excuses vs Reasons: We all have them!


I have no real valid excuse for not updating my blog before now. I just sort of stopped.

Not that I had anything to update. I hardly baked or made anything. I had, still have, a long list of things I want to make.

It wasn't like I was even all that “busy.”

I have decided I am going to stop using that as an excuse for anything.

For instance when I was late responding to a text or email I would always start out by saying “I’m so sorry I've just been so busy…”

The thing is everyone is busy. We all have stuff that happens in life and sometimes it just takes over.

One of the ways I was busy is that my sister came to visit for the month of December.

Another way was I had the girls off of school.

That’s about it really.

Another “real” excuse reason for not updating is that I have had to tighten up our food budget.

I have a cupboard full of baking stuff that needs to be used up. So, stay tuned for updates using up what I already have!

Another reason is I am looking to make the jump to Wordpress and I’m still learning the new platform, as it’s slightly different then blogger. Plus I want it to look exactly how I want it before I import the blog over and show it off!

I have a couple book reviews, a guest post from my friend, and a few easy things to make to get posted so hopefully it won’t be so long in-between posts this time!

I hope everyone has had a great holiday break and they are looking forward to the New Year!!

notes: Excuse: 1a: to make apology for 1b: to try to remove blame from. I need to have a catch up on everyone else’s blogs, so don't be surprised if I leave comments on your posts I missed over the holidays! Picture collages were made with Pic Collage app on my iPad and are the things I have made over the year! The app is free, but it was decision to download it!