Salted caramel chocolate truffles; a seriously indulgent homemade treat. Amazing for homemade gifts and fab for special occasions. Everyone will go crazy for these delicious bites. Soft, caramel scented chocolate truffles coated in a gorgeous chocolate shell. Seriously show stopping treats. There are a few …
Cranberry pop tarts. These are such a fun and completely delicious treat, particularly in the winter when cranberries are in season. It’s a great recipe for when you’ve got leftover cranberry sauce that you don’t know what to do with. The tart and zingy cranberry …
White chocolate and cranberry cupcakes. This is such a beautiful festive bake. Great for anyone that wants an easy, stunning little showstopper. They’re even better for anyone that don’t like mincemeat.
White chocolate and cranberries are such a gorgeous combo. The tart brightness of the cranberries is just the best with the indulgently sweet white chocolate buttercream icing. These cupcakes use this combo in a beautiful way. The sweet vanilla sponges are filled with zingy cranberry sauce and topped with a generous swirl of white chocolate icing, before being adorned with bright red sugar cranberry jewels.
Cupcakes to me just feel less stressful to me than making one big cake. It’s easier to control the cooking time so you have beautiful soft cakes. They’re also quicker to cool and then decorate. This leaves you lots more time for everything else you might have on at this time of year.
Lately, I’ve also developed a big appreciation for filled cupcakes. It’s a fab way to get more flavour in, adding a little extra surprise, plus all the cake offcuts are cooks perk, so there is that too.
Give them a go and let me know what you think. The cranberry season is such a short one, I just get so excited to find as many ways to use them as possible.
113g self rising flour
113g caster sugar
113g softened unsalted butter
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp vanilla extract
Approx 9 tsp cranberry sauce (I used my sloe gin cranberry sauce recipe but you can use store bought too if you’re short on time)
For the white chocolate buttercream icing:
350g sifted icing sugar
175g softened unsalted butter
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp salt
100g white chocolate
Sugared cranberries as decoration (optional)
Makes 9 cupcakes
Method for white chocolate and cranberry cupcakes
Preheat the oven to 170°C, GM3.
Line a muffin tin with 9 cases and leave aside while you make the mixture.
Weigh out all of your ingredients.
In a separate bowl, sift the self rising flour, salt and baking powder.
Using a food mixer, or free standing whisk, combine the sugar and butter together until it forms a light, creamy consistency. This will only take a few minutes with a food mixer. Then gradually add one egg at a time, leaving plenty of time for the egg to incorporate into the mixture before adding the next and keep the mixer running at a fairly high speed while doing this; this will help the mixture from curdling. You can also add a tablespoon of flour after each egg at this stage to help prevent curdling too.
Once the eggs have been added, add in the dry ingredients and on a slow speed mix until they have only just combined. Then add the vanilla extract, folding it into the cake mixture.
Using a medium ice cream scoop or two spoons, portion the mixture out amongst the cake cases. Take care not to overfill the cases as the mixture will rise more as it bakes. Just over half fill each case with batter.
Let’s get baking
Bake in the middle shelf of the oven, turning the pan ¾ way through cooking time to help the cakes cook evenly. This should take about 15-18 minutes.
To test if the cakes are cooked, use a cake skewer and insert into the middle of one of the cakes and if it comes away clean then they are cooked. The cakes should also spring back when touched and be very lightly golden.
Transfer the cakes to a wire rack to cool completely before icing. Cupcakes cool down really quickly so this will take less than 30 minutes.
While you wait, you can prepare the icing.
To make the icing, add the butter to a food mixer and cream it for a few minutes to make sure everything is very smooth before gradually starting to add the icing sugar. Once the mixture is combined and everything is light and fluffy (the longer you mix, the fluffier the mixture will get) then add the vanilla extract, salt and melted white chocolate and mix for a final time. Add a few tbsp of milk to the icing if you think it needs to have a looser, more spreadable consistency.
Let’s get assembling
To bring the cakes together, cut out holes in the middle of each cupcake and fill with approx 1 tsp of cranberry sauce. You don’t want to overfill, as it makes it difficult to pipe the buttercream on top later.
Then using a piping bag, swirl the white chocolate buttercream onto each cupcake (or if you don’t have a piping bag you can use a palette knife and smooth it over the cupcakes).
Top with sugared cranberries to finish the cakes. Alternatively you could add orange zest or festive sprinkles or simply some icing sugar for a snowy effect.
The cakes should keep well in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
For baking, make sure that all of your ingredients are at room temperature, including the eggs, it will help all of the ingredients combine together well.
An ice cream scoop is a great tool to help ensure that your cupcakes are the same size when they are baked.
Weigh out all of your ingredients in advance; yes this means more bowls and more washing up, but the positive is that you have everything ready before you start, so you only have to think about the process of making the cake, instead of rushing to find the next ingredient and weigh it out while the mixer is running.
The easiest way to fill a piping bag is to open the bag into a tall glass and bend the top over the sides of the glass, then fill with the icing.
Love cranberries? Why not try our Cranberry and apple curd – this is brilliant as a breakfast over porridge. Lovely as part of a festive cream tea too.
I just love a recipe that takes minutes to make but delivers big on flavour and indulgence. This gingerbread hot chocolate does exactly that. Such a treat. Full of warming spices and rich dark chocolate gorgeousness, you simply must make time for at least one …
For me, there is nothing more comforting on a cold, cold day, than to put my feet up and enjoy a nice bowl of soup with a chunk of bread or a toasted cheese sandwich and this soup is such a winner. Tomato, red pepper and lentil soup. Think, the best and most satisfying bolognese you’ve ever eaten and then you’re in the right ballpark for this delicious soup. So rich and full of flavour and bursting with tomatoes and basil. The lentils give the soup a really beautiful thick texture and the oregano, saffron and balsamic vinegar all add to that Italian feel.
Yeast extract is a bit of a secret weapon here. Alongside the stock cubes it gives the soup a real depth, which is brilliant, particularly with vegetarian recipes that obviously lack that intense meaty savouriness. Bicarbonate of soda might sound like an odd addition, and I’d only discovered it recently, but the science of it basically means it cuts the acidity of the tomatoes, and there are a lot in this recipe, so much like sugar, it balances the flavours nicely.
Now this soup, bursting with vegetables, serves a lot of people. I like that, because it means I can store it in the fridge and have snaffle batches away in the freezer too, but if you’d prefer to make a smaller quantity – this’ll easily feed 12 – you can reduce the amounts, not a problem. Leftovers make me feel organised and together and I’m always happy when I can pull something quick and delicious out of the freezer, so I definitely prefer making more, not less, but it’s entirely up to you.
2 large onions (red or white)
4 sticks celery
4 large carrots
1 480g jar of roasted red peppers
2 500g jars of tomato passata
3 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
250g red split lentils
2 tsp yeast extract (I always use Marmite, love the flavour)
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 cloves of garlic
1 vegetable stock cube
2 tsp ground black pepper
Salt to taste
1 bunch fresh basil
2 tbsp Marsala (optional)
30g butter (plus a little oil to cook the vegetables)
2 tsp fennel seeds
3 tsp dried oregano
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp caster sugar
⅛ tsp bicarbonate of soda
Makes enough for 12 people
Method for Tomato, red pepper and lentil soup
In a food processor (or by hand if you like) blitz the onions, celery, carrots alongside the basil stalks and pulse until very finely chopped.
Heat a large saucepan with a little oil and butter and then add the fennel seeds and oregano. When the oil is hot, add the onion and carrot mix and stir to combine. Add a little salt at this stage to help the vegetables cook gradually. The salt will release water from the vegetables, so it doesn’t burn but reduces down nicely.
After 5 minutes or so, add the tomato puree and stir. Cook for a few more minutes. Then add the garlic, vegetable stock cube and yeast extract and saffron.
When the vegetables are soft and cooked down add a splash of marsala. (This is entirely optional, so if you’d prefer not to add alcohol, then simply miss it out).
Then add the jarred red peppers, passata and tinned tomatoes and stir to combine. Add the bicarbonate of soda and stir. (The purpose of this is to decrease the acid in all the tomatoes, to balance the flavours a little).
Add the red split lentils and coat in the vegetable mixture. Then add about 2 litres of hot water from a recently boiled kettle and turn down the heat to let the soup cook. The lentils will absorb water while they cook, so keep adding water every so often to make sure it isn’t too thick.
Now to wait for the soup to cook
As this is such a large amount of soup, the lentils take a while to cook, so bring to the boil and blip away on the stove top for 45 minutes or so until the lentils are soft.
Once the lentils are cooked, add in a little more salt and pepper to taste. It’s best to add most of the seasoning at this stage, as too much salt can make lentils a little hard when cooking. Also add the balsamic vinegar and sugar too. Stir in the fresh basil leaves too.
Blitz the soup with a handheld mixer how you like, I’ve made the soup pretty smooth here but it still remains nicely thick and has a bit of texture.
Serve warm with a drizzle of oil, a few shavings of pecorino and some black pepper and a nice wodge of bread on the side.
This soup freezes really well, so keep a few portions in the fridge and then bag up the rest and store in the freezer which will stay good for a few months. Then when you want them, defrost, heat and enjoy.
Oh my, these are just the most deliciously indulgent easy peasy cheesy snacks out there. Think no fuss savoury doughnuts filled with mozzarella and you get the idea. Mozzarella dough bites are made with a handful of ingredients and don’t require yeast, so don’t need any time to prove which means you can get them made pretty quickly. They are deep fried, which does make them a treat, but trust me they are worth it.
Mustard scented pillowy dough balls filled with mozzarella and topped with parmesan and chives. Absolutely delicious and fab for party food. I’ve got a stash in the freezer waiting for people to come round, they are such a crowd pleaser, they’ll go in minutes. Serve them with soup as an alternative to a toasted cheese sandwich, or with a dipping sauce, and you’ve got a serious hit on your hands.
500g self rising flour
500g plain greek yoghurt
1 tsp baking powder
¾ tsp salt
2 tsp mustard powder
2 balls mozzarella
Parsley and chives to garnish
Pepper to taste
Vegetable or sunflower oil for deep fat frying
Makes 24 dough bites
Method for mozzarella dough bites
In a large bowl pour in the flour, salt, baking powder, pepper and mustard powder. Stir to combine.
Then add in the yoghurt and stir together until the mixture forms a soft ball of dough.
Cover with a damp tea towel while you prep the mozzarella.
Drain the mozzarella balls with a kitchen towel and divide evenly into 24 pieces. (12 pieces per ball).
Divide the dough into 24 pieces and roll into balls. You can either do this by eye, rolling the dough into a log shape and then dividing into sections or if you’d like you can weigh them out. It’ll be approximately 40g per bite.
Pop some flour onto your board and now we’re ready to start rolling and filling.
Take a ball, and flatten slightly, making a dip with your fingers, so that the sides and middle of the dough ball are slightly raised and there is a motte-like shape around the outside. (For all you history buffs out there, think motte and bailey castles) The reason for this is that it helps to keep the cheese from oozing out of the bites while they are cooking.
Tear a piece of cheese and add it to the middle of the ball. Then, as if you were making dumplings, bring together each side of dough and form it together so that there are no gaps and no cheese is showing.
Pop each ball onto a floured baking tray, seam side down, and then repeat.
Once all of the balls have been made, you can start to heat your oil.
In a large pan, pour in oil to begin heating. Don’t fill the saucepan about the half way line to keep everything nice and safe while you’re frying.
Let the oil heat to 160C. A thermometer is useful here to check to see when the oil is ready.
When it reaches the right temperature, safely drop in the balls one at a time, cooking in batches of 6. Carefully lower the dough into the oil, dropping it away from you and as close to the surface as possible to avoid it splashing up at you.
Cook the dough bites on each side for 2 minutes, 4 minute cooking time in total. As they are stuffed with cheese, some of the balls might start to flip over, with a slotted skimmer spoon, carefully nudging them back the right way, until they are all a light golden brown colour.
When they are down, pop them onto a paper towel, to drain the excess oil. Then scatter with parmesan and chives and serve hot so you can enjoy all that melty, gooey cheese.
If you want to eat later, make them earlier in the day and simply reheat in a 180C oven for about 10 minutes. Alternatively, you can freeze the mozzarella dough bites and eat them within a few months.