Because A Friday Treat is the Perfect Way to End the Week!

Friday, 30 December 2011

White Chocolate and Raspberry Flapjacks

So this week, all has gone well and unlike last week I’ve actually managed to write a recipe! It’s been a busy week, obviously with all that eating and drinking and generally having a good time but I’ve pulled through.

I hope everyone has had a lovely Christmas, I for one had a great time. Christmas day itself involved getting up very early to open presents (I know. I’m 22 and still can’t sleep on Christmas morning . Ridiculous) and then giving over the next 24 hours to fun, family and food and wasn’t the amount of food ridiculous!? I know in our house we had Christmas pudding, trifle, Christmas cake and a cheese board for dessert alone (although we’re not really massive pigs, it’s just the one time of year when all tastes are catered for). Needless to say I still feel full!

One thing I have particularly overindulged in throughout the past week has been chocolate so I decided to avoid a chocolate-heavy recipe for this week’s Treat Friday. Don’t get me wrong, it still has chocolate in it (rude not to really) but as only a minor flavour in the overall recipe. I had thought of maybe coming up with some sort of light, healthy treat this week to counter balance previous indulgences but seeing as we haven’t reached New Year’s Eve yet there probably wasn’t much point!

White chocolate and raspberry flapjacks it is then. This recipe, like most of my others, is open to interpretation. If raspberries or white chocolate aren’t your thing, leave them out and substitute with your preference, sticking roughly to the quantity guidelines. One of my other favourites with these are blueberries but of course you can always leave any additions out and just have the plain flapjacks, they’re still delicious! This recipe is also great because it’s pretty much a one pot wonder – well two if you include the cake tin – and this is perfect for me as I really hate washing up. 

So have a go with this recipe and be creative with it. There aren’t many people who don’t like flapjacks so these will be perfect to serve to anyone who might be visiting you over the new year, I for one will be taking some with me as a gift when I head out later today to spend New Year’s Eve in North Yorkshire! At this point, it only remains for me to wish everyone a HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! I’ll be back this time next week – new year, new recipe!

Some final tips before you get started:
  • Well...these don’t really require and tips. They’re really straight forward! Have fun and enjoy!

White Chocolate and Raspberry Flapjacks
170g Butter
60g Light Brown Sugar
200g Golden Syrup
1tsp. Ground Cinnamon
300g Rolled Oats
100g Raspberries
75g White Chocolate, roughly chopped(plus 10g extra for decoration)

20cm Square Cake Tin

1)      Preheat oven to 180◦C, grease and line the base of a 20cm square cake tin.
2)      In one saucepan, melt the butter, sugar, syrup and cinnamon and heat until simmering. Leave to simmer for two minutes before removing from the heat.
3)      Stir in the oats until well combined before carefully folding in the raspberries. Finally stir in the white chocolate (it will melt a bit but this is completely fine).
4)      Pour and press gently into the prepared tin and bake for 25 minutes until golden.
5)      Once cool, melt the remaining 10g of white chocolate and drizzle over the flapjacks to decorate.  Leave to cool before slicing into small squares.

Makes 20 

Friday, 23 December 2011


This week I’ve been very naughty. I’ve basically spent nearly all my time in the kitchen with my nose in a recipe book, preparing for the big day. I’ve baked, I’ve cooked, I’ve shopped and finally things are starting to come together. Unfortunately though, I’ve been unable to pull my brain out of recipe books for long enough to write a new recipe of my own so there’ll be no new treats today!

Let’s be honest though, do we really need a Treat Friday when we all know we’ll be eating our weight in food this weekend?  I for one will be saving myself for a weekend of pure indulgence, adding Treat Friday onto that would just be greedy!

To prove that I have in fact been doing as I say, I’ve included some photos of what I’ve been up to and maybe they’ll even give you a little inspiration for your own Christmas treats!

To begin, we have the centrepiece of any Christmas baking – it’s the Christmas cake.

Ordinarily, I make a Yule log as an alternative for those who don’t like Christmas Pudding (aka mad people) on Christmas day. This year however, I decided it was time to attempt a Christmas cake. So there I was at the beginning of November, spending a fortune on dry fruits and brandy and getting everyone in the house (potentially even the dog) drunk on the alcohol fumes as I cooked. Every week I unwrapped the fruity little bundle to feed with brandy and finally today I got to decorate it! I used the Nigella Christmas (the only book you'll need for Christmas) recipe and it seems to have turned out perfectly. has yet to be tasted but it looks great!

I had planned to decorate it with star shapes cut out of white icing. Unfortunately however I couldn’t find my cookie cutter and didn’t have the patience to leave it until I’d gone to the shops to purchase another. So I improvised, making a quilted pattern in the top and side with the back of a knife and a ruler, studding the edges with silver balls which have since rolled all over the kitchen. And of course, the Christmas tree cutter got involved as you can see.

It’s probable not traditional but I think it’s pretty!

I’ve also made red-velvet whoopie pies from the HummingbirdBakery Cake Days recipe book (which I LOVE). My mother has been pestering me to make these for weeks so I thought I’d treat her, seeing as its Christmas and all! From the same book came some white chocolate fudge cookies which I may adapt for another week’s Treat Friday as they were delicious!

Then I had to make something for my older sister, who was inconveniently born on the 22nd and therefore needed a birthday cake! I chose to again use the Hummingbird Bakery Cake Days book, combining the recipe for red velvet cupcakes with an icing from candy-cane cupcakes.

Getting this effect with the icing, I have to admit, was a pain. It involved dividing the icing into two, colouring one red and then squeezing both in side by side into the piping bag. It was messy work but I think the overall effect was worth it! And yes, that it glitter but I should point out it’s edible glitter from the cake shop – don’t go poisoning yourselves with the craft stuff!

So finally, I just want to wish everyone an amazing Christmas! I’ll be back next week with a brand new recipe, I promise. For the moment though eat , drink and fill yourselves with as many treats as you possibly can – that’s what I’ll be doing! 

(I just wanted to include this. My younger sister has been making it for the past three days and it has turned out fabulously – MERRY CHRISTMAS!!)

Friday, 16 December 2011

Rocky Road Chocolate Tart

Over the past two weeks, I’ve travelled a lot. I’ve travelled north to Durham and to York (twice) and today I’ll be heading to Bath for the morning and then to London this afternoon. Basically, I’ve been busy, so for this week’s recipe I’ve decided to develop an old favourite of mine for this perfectly comforting treat!

I started making this chocolate tart a couple of years ago when I went looking for a cheesecake-like recipe which didn’t contain any cheese (I have a sister who hates the stuff) and that didn’t involve the usual faff of tarts and cheesecakes with their blind-baking and water-bathing ways (and if you don’t understand what these things are then I think my point is clear!) A cheesecake-base and a non-bake filling seemed like the perfect combination for a simple, quick and easy dessert that everyone, and I mean everyone, would love. And love it they did.

The original recipe came from the BBC Good Food website and while this was excellent, over the past year or so I’ve altered it each time this tart has been made to suit my personal taste and to get what I think is the best result. For example, the original recipe called for all 200g of the chocolate to be 70% cocoa solids dark chocolate. While I know that the higher the cocoa percentage, the more fashionable it is to chocolate lovers, this just isn’t to my taste. I decided therefore, to try using only half this amount of dark chocolate and to pair it with 100g of milk chocolate instead. The result was heavenly – not too bitter, not too sweet.

So, as I’ve already said, I’ve made this tart numerous times and it has always been deemed a success. What then, was the next step for it? Well, while sitting on the train home from one of my long journeys north, I was musing upon this week’s recipe and called upon my long-suffering and often force-fed boyfriend for inspiration. He then proceeded to suggest some of my past creations, including a particular disaster which involved a lot of caramel and marshmallows stuck to the bottom of a cake tin. Knowing I had half a packet of marshmallows sitting in the cupboard at home, this got me thinking as did the mention of one of his particular favourites – the chocolate tart. Now correct me if I’m wrong but when it comes down to the word association of chocolate and marshallows, the next thing to spring to mind is surely rocky road? And didn’t a rocky road chocolate tart just sound amazing??

Now, having actually made this divine creation I have to tell you; it is a monster. Literally, it is a beast of a dessert and is not for the faint-hearted...or those with high cholesterol or a family history of heart conditions. It’s gooey, and sickly and definitely not pretty.

Still gorgeous though. If you love chocolate, rocky road and sickly sweet desserts then this is the one for you! It also struck me as a great recipe for this time of year when we all know we’re going to receive more boxes of biscuits and chocolates than can ever be eaten by a normal human. I’ve given some suggestions for the ‘rubble’ but feel free to substitute this for whatever you’ve got to hand. Bash it up and chuck it in this recipe, it doesn’t matter what you use. As long as it has texture and is delicious then it’ll work perfectly.

Some final tips before you get started:
  • If you don’t mind the extra washing up, use a blender to make the crumbs for your base and to chop up the rocky road.
  • On the other hand, if you’ve had a really bad day and need to take it out on something, take a rolling pin and just get smashing those ingredients.
  • Use an electric whisk to beat the cream if possible, it’ll save you both time and effort.
  • If you can’t get hold of butter biscuits for the base, just use digestives. Can’t go wrong.
Rocky Road Chocolate Tart

Ingredients (Chocolate Tart)
250g Butter Biscuits
75g Butter
1 tbsp. Golden Syrup
100g Dark Chocolate
100g Milk Chocolate
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
2 tbsp. Icing Sugar
200ml Whipping Cream

For the Rocky Road
50g Chocolate Covered Honeycomb
75g White Chocolate Buttons
50g Malteasers
100g Chocolate Caramel Biscuits
50g Marshmallows

20cm Square Cake Tin or Equivalent

1)      Place the butter biscuits into a blender and blend until they look like breadcrumbs. Melt the butter and golden syrup together over a low heat and mix with crushed biscuits. Press crumb mixture into the base of the tin and place in the fridge to chill.
2)      Break the chocolate into small pieces and melt in a bowl over a bowl of simmering water. When completely melted, stir in the vanilla extract and icing sugar. Leave to cool slightly.
3)      In a separate bowl, whisk the whipping cream until it holds its shape. Fold in the chocolate mixture gently until smooth and combined.
4)      Place your rocky road rubble ingredients into the blender and pulse briefly until roughly chopped.
5)      Gently stir the rubble into the combined chocolate and cream until evenly distributed. Pour this mixture onto the chilled base and chill again for at least 1 hour.
6)      When firmly set, slice into bars to serve.

Serves 9

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Ginger and Dark Chocolate Muffins

This week I’m tackling one of those everyday baked goods that have always given me trouble when it comes to making my own – the humble muffin. I think the problem is that when I think of muffins, I think of those you buy in supermarkets or coffee shops; light airy and uniform in their mushroom like shape. When you make them at home however they never, I repeat never, turn out this way! And I’ve made enough muffins, using many different recipes over the years to know. They actually turn out a lot more dense than those you purchase, sometimes sweeter or sometimes more savoury. It all depends on the recipe you use, of which there are hundreds as I learnt when researching for my own recipe, and they all vary.

Now just comparing basic muffin recipes in only three books, I found that some use vegetable oil, some use buttermilk, some use milk and some use both. There are also those that call for less than 100 grams of sugar and those that call for nearly 200, some that use vanilla extract and those that say it isn’t necessary – the variations are both endless and incredibly confusing!

What then, is the best muffin recipe to use? Who knows? I certainly don’t! What I do know however, is that this recipe makes great muffins – so use it! Substitute the ginger (both the spice and the crystallized ginger) and chocolate for whatever you like. I decided to use ginger in this recipe because it’s one of those delicious, warm spices that are necessary both for Christmas and when it gets freezing cold outside, and because I’ve been waiting for the opportunity to play with crystallized ginger and this seemed like a great time. I love the combination of ginger and dark chocolate, something I came across when I made a key lime pie with a ginger biscuit base and dark chocolate drizzled over the top. I’d also never seen this combination in a muffin before and figured it was worth a go.

The general consensus among those who tried this recipe was that it’s a winner. There was of course my father, for whom no baked good is perfect unless it’s made by Mr. Kipling, and he described them as “not what I was expecting”. I have no idea what this means and am therefore voiding his opinion – after all, ginger and dark chocolate muffins is a fairly self-explanatory title, no? He loves to give these little criticisms about my baking, potentially because he just enjoys annoying me. I notice that it doesn’t stop him from eating the vast majority of the things I make though.

The recipe itself is very simple. The one thing that all muffin recipes have in common is that they basically involve putting all of the dry ingredients into one bowl and all the wet ingredients into another and mixing them together until just combined. That’s exactly what this recipe does; do this, stir in the chocolate and chopped crystallized ginger, put into muffin tins and bake. Simple. 

Some final tips before you get started:
  •   Melt your butter before you do anything else to give it time to cool. I just weigh it in a small ramekin and blast it in the microwave for about 30 seconds, saving me from the hassle of having to wash a saucepan.
  •   Use less crystallized ginger if you prefer, I’ve made mine fairly strong because I love it but I realised that not everyone else (i.e. Dad) does.
  • Sieve your flour. Few muffin recipes call for this but I think it makes them rise better and also makes them lighter in texture.
  •   Don’t be shy when it comes to filling your muffin cases. This isn’t one of those recipes that will overflow and go mental in the oven while you’re baking them, they just look better and even get that slight mushroom shaped top.
  • Most supermarkets sell buttermilk, it’s usually with the cream. If you can’t get hold of it though, just use natural yogurt.
  • The end mixture is supposed to be fairly wet and runny, so don’t panic if you think there’s too much liquid!

  • Dark Chocolate and Ginger Muffins
    70g Unsalted Butter (melted and cooled)
    270ml Buttermilk
    200ml Milk
    1 Egg
    ½ tsp. Vanilla Extract
    350g Plain Flour
    Pinch of Salt
    2 tsp. Baking Powder
    ½ tsp. Bicarbonate of Soda
    2 tsp. Ground Ginger
    160g Caster Sugar
    75g Crystallized Ginger (finely chopped)
    150g Dark Chocolate (roughly chopped)

    12-Hole Muffin Tin Lined with Muffin Cases

    1)      Preheat oven to 170◦CIn a large bowl, sieve together the flour, salt, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, ginger and caster sugar. Mix briefly.
    2)      In a large jug, mix together the melted butter, the buttermilk, milk, egg and vanilla extract. Whisk together until all ingredients are well mixed.
    3)      Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Stir in the finely chopped crystallized ginger and dark chocolate.
    4)      Divide the mixture evenly into the muffin tins and bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown. Try and cool before eating, but don’t feel too bad if a warm one falls into your mouth.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Chocolate Fudge with Honey-Roasted Cashews

New blog, new recipe!

From an attempt to eat more healthily throughout the week, Treat Friday emerged as the one day on which indulgences were not only allowed but encouraged. For me, this indulgence more often than not results in baking or cooking an incredibly unhealthy treat which likely counteracts any efforts made towards healthy eating throughout the week. All completely acceptable.

Having baked for what seems like forever, I’ve reached the stage where I’m starting to go rogue, adapting and writing new recipes that deviate, albeit sometimes only slightly,  from the vast collection of recipe books that seem to be taking over my kitchen. I’ve decided to start sharing these Treat Friday recipes, ultimately as a new way of forcing my baked goods on other people which brings me nicely to this week’s recipe!
As I said, I will literally force these treats on unsuspecting family and friends at any and every available opportunity, and what better opportunity to do so than at Christmas? Yes, I realise that today is only the 2nd and that premature Christmas preparation is really annoying BUT let me share something I’ve learnt over many years of baking disasters – it’s best to practice new recipes, especially those you’re going to give as gifts.

For example, let’s talk about the peanut brittle I made for my parents last year. It looked great, golden, crunchy and gorgeous wrapped up in my special Christmas sweet bags, tied with obnoxiously festive green and red ribbons. When however it then got transferred to my parents’ sweet dish, a beautiful, elegant thing that had been handed  through the family, and melted onto it with the adhesive powers of concrete, this recipe attempt was deemed unsuccessful. Literally, you’d had to have eaten the dish to get anywhere near eating the peanut brittle. Basically this happened because at the time, I was really afraid of anything that involved boiling sugar (that stuff is molten hot!) and burning it to my pans. The temperature of the caramel in my brittle therefore didn’t get anywhere near hot enough to create the right consistency, the one that makes you worry that you’re going to crack your teeth but in a really enjoyable way. Rather, mine was more likely to stick to your teeth so forcefully that dental surgery was probably the only way to deal with it.

Anyway, lesson learned. Practice new recipes to avoid ruining family heirlooms and creating the risk of premature dentures (for the record, no-one ultimately required surgery and the sweet dish escaped unharmed with lots of scraping and gallons of boiling water). So this week, I’m practicing a recipe that will make a great Christmas gift nearer the time; Chocolate Fudge with Honey-Roasted Cashews.

It might cost you a very small amount to buy the ingredients for this recipe but it honestly makes enough, once cut up into small squares, to make gift bags for at least three people. Way cheaper than buying three boxes of chocolates from the supermarket.

I’ve made fudge before, messing around with glucose syrup and sugar thermometers (once I’d overcome my fear of molten sugar!) and ultimately the result has not been worth the effort. The glucose syrup I bought to make fudge before continues to sit unused in my kitchen cupboard, and while my sugar thermometer is occasionally used it is done so for recipes which create much nicer treats than the fudge I’ve previously made.
This recipe though, is so much easier and only uses ingredients that are not only cheap but that you’re also likely to use again. Instead of glucose syrup, this recipe uses melted marshmallows to create the right consistency for the fudge, and rather than having to mess around with sugar thermometers, you simply simmer the evaporated milk for six minutes exactly. This isn’t the only place where I use this weirdly exact time with evaporated milk, I also do so with a chocolate fudge frosting I make for topping my brownies (the recipe for which may never appear on here, people have been trying to get this recipe out of me for years, all unsuccessfully so far!! )

Ultimately, this recipe takes around 15 minutes to make and two hours to set, not too long a time to wait for this delicious home-made fudge. I use honey-roasted cashews in mine because I love that extra honey-sweet salty taste that they give to the chocolate, but this is one of those great recipes that is infinitely adaptable; add nuts, sweets, dried fruits, even biscuits if you want a rocky-road fudge! Tailor it therefore to your own personal tastes or to those of the lucky recipient of this gift, and also get creative with the decoration. Unfortunately with the batch I made, the rest of the packet of honey-roasted cashews didn’t make it to the decoration stage. In my defence, it was a small bag!

Some final tips before you get started:
  •  Line your tin with tin foil to save on the washing up! The tin foil peels easily away from the fudge when it
  • has set!
  • Try not to stir your evaporated milk too much when it’s boiling, but the occasional stir to make sure it doesn’t stick to the base of the pan and burn is fine.
  • I’ve used 70% dark chocolate in my recipe. I’ve tried it with half milk chocolate and half dark chocolate, my usual chocolate combination but it just wasn’t chocolatey enough for me. It’s completely up to your personal taste though!
  • Use a timer with the evaporated milk, don’t be tempted to just guess. Those six minutes are key!!
  • Finally, be aware that if this is a practice run and the fudge is not going to be given away as a gift, Treat Friday will probably turn into Treat Saturday AND Treat Sunday, especially if you’re confined to the sofa with a broken foot as I have been for the past three weeks!
Chocolate Fudge With Honey-Roasted Cashews
25g Unsalted Butter
275g Caster Sugar
150ml Evaporated Milk
½ tsp. Vanilla Extract
75g Mini Marshmallows
200g Dark Chocolate (chopped)
75g Honey Roasted Chocolate (substitute with your personal preference!)

20cm Square Cake Tin or Equivalent

1)      Line the base and sides of your cake tin with baking foil, no need to grease!
2)      Add butter, caster sugar, evaporated milk, vanilla extract and a pinch of salt to a sauce pan. Stir until the sugar dissolve (that gritty feeling will go) and bring to the boil. Bring to the boil and simmer for six minutes exactly!
3)      Taking your pan off the heat, add the chopped chocolate and marshmallows to the saucepan and stir until completely melted. Add the honey-roasted cashews or your own substitution.
4)      Pour mixture into you tin and roughly level the surface. Leave to set at room temperature for two hours before cutting into small squares. Enjoy!!
            Makes approx. 20 pieces.