Gastronomically Terrific

January 28, 2016

Butterscotch Marshmallow Bars

Filed under: biscuits, Cake, Sweets — Tags: , , , — lawsonanna @ 1:39 pm

I don’t have a photo of this bake. Trust me, you don’t mind. It looked rubbish. I had seen this in one of my cookbooks and thought it looked really tempting.  It also helpfully used up the left-over double cream I had lying around in the fridge.

These bars start with you making a dough to put on the bottom of a baking tray, before making a butterscotch sauce which you pour over the dough and marshmallows, and them leave the whole thing to set in the fridge.

Somehow, I managed to mess up every stage of this recipe. It didn’t feel right to have a dough on the base anyway, and I really messed up making the butterscotch sauce (I know I over-boiled it). I know the final result was bad, because nobody was willing to eat it – not even my dad. And he eats anything. Whilst the awful end result was partly my fault, I have a suspicion it was also partly the recipes fault – this isn’t something I’m inspired to try again!

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: The Hummingbird Bakery Cake Days Recipes to Make Every Day Special, by Tarek Malouf and The Hummingbird Bakers, pg. 182-3


June 6, 2015

Mothering Sunday Sweets

Filed under: gift, Sweets — Tags: , , — lawsonanna @ 9:14 pm

Marzipan sweets CUOnce again, it’s not that I haven’t been baking recently – just that I haven’t got around to writing about all the things that I have been baking. I’ll try and catch up over the next week or so, so expect another plethora of blog posts from me in the next few days.

The first thing on the list is these Mothering Sunday Sweets. I actually made them for my mum’s birthday because Mothering Sunday itself was a bit busy (baby no. 2 was born about a week before Mothering Sunday – not a time when you get a lot of baking done…).

These sweets were quite fun and easy to make, especially as I took the cheats route and bought the marzipan instead of eating it. The only effort I really had to put in was melting some chocolate. The hardest part of the whole thing was finding a box to put the sweets in.

I made three different types of sweets in total – one was just marzipan balls with half glace cherries on top, one was strips of marzipan spread with melted chocolate and then rolled up (these looked great and tasted pretty good too), and the final sweet was marzipan, cherries, sultanas and brandy mixed together and rolled into a sausage. The sausage shape was then dipped in melted chocolate and the chocolate left to set before being cut into slices.

I would say I have no idea how these tasted because I made them as a present, but I may have made some extra sweets which I then, umm, tried? They were, on the whole, pretty tasty! The marzipan chocolate strips and marzipan mixed with cherries etc. sweets both looked and tasted really rather good.

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: Hallelujah! Easter, Wendy Dyer, Honor Harris, Judith Merrell, pg. 14-15

May 7, 2015

Candy cakes

Filed under: Cake, Sweets — Tags: , , , , — lawsonanna @ 10:19 am

Candy cakes allAnother incredibly simple recipe which I made with a newborn baby in the house. The main purpose of these cakes was to use up sweeties that we’d used to create a train cake we made for hubby’s birthday (and to keep our toddler amused when there was a lot of attention focused on the newborn).

The actual cakes are just plain vanilla fairy cakes. The topping was chocolate buttercream, and I then added colourful sweeties (Smarties and jellybeans, because that was what we had left over).

A really easy bake which took all of 30 minutes from start to finish, and doesn’t look too bad when finished!

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: Fairy Cakes, Joanna Farrow, pg. 46

December 25, 2014

Champagne truffles

Filed under: Christmas, Sweets — Tags: , , , , , , — lawsonanna @ 10:28 pm
Christmas decadence

Christmas decadence

For my last birthday (back in March), or possibly even Christmas last year, I was given a Sweet Shop Recipe Book (which I had asked for). It has recipes for a whole range of exciting sounding sweets, fudge, toffees and truffles – but of course I haven’t gotten around to making anything from it for the whole year.

Upon spotting that one of the recipes was for champagne truffles (incorporating two of my favourite things – champagne and glitter), I decided this Christmas was time to change all that. And I’m please to say that the result, even if I say so myself, does look pretty stunning).

Although we followed the recipe in terms of ingredients, we did change exactly how we carried out various stages, primarily due to previous truffle experiences. After tempering the chocolate we lined some ice cube cases with it, before adding the truffle mixture (which included both Cava and brandy- mmm…). We then covered the truffle mixture with more tempered chocolate before leaving the truffles to set.

Once the truffles were set, we prised them out of the ice cube cases and added edible gold glitter. We weren’t sure of the best way to add the glitter at first – brushing them seemed to work, but then I tried adding some glitter to a small sieve and shaking that over the truffles (just as you would with icing sugar). That worked well, and to get a really good shimmer we then brushed that glitter over the truffles. The end result is really decadent, and definitely one that impresses. Guests didn’t know whether the truffles were homemade or shop bought, which made me feel good!

Who made it: Dan and Anna (yes, this was definitely a joint effort)

Recipe: The Old-Fashioned Hand-made Sweet Shop Recipe Book, Claire Ptak, pg. 140-141

December 4, 2014

Rocky road

Filed under: biscuits, Sweets — Tags: , , , — lawsonanna @ 9:04 pm

Rocky roadThis was another tasty treat for us to eat during the run-up to Christmas. Well, I say us – I cruelly added marshmallows so that Dan couldn’t eat any. But I really like marshmallows, and my friends and I enjoyed them!

Rocky road isn’t actually that hard to make – there’s no baking, and the toughest part of the whole experience is probably bashing up the biscuits into the correct-sized chunks. Once you’ve done this, you melt together butter, plain chocolate and golden syrup (in a bowl over a pan of simmering water, not in the pan like I originally nearly ended up doing  – I should know better). Then add the bashed-up biscuits, some rum (’cause, well, it’s rum) and some raisins (’cause that makes it healthy), wait for the chocolate mixture to cool down, and add the marshmallows (if you add them too soon they melt).

Then stick the whole gooey mess in a tin and put it in the fridge to harden. Nice and speedy, and makes a lovely (if horribly unhealthy) treat.

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: Hallelujah! Easter, pg. 55

November 28, 2014

Grasshopper pie

Filed under: biscuits, Cake, Sweets, Uncategorized, vegetarian — Tags: , , , , — lawsonanna @ 7:45 pm

Another Halloween treat, I wanted to make this for an event so that Dan and I wouldn’t be the only ones eating it. This was because a significant element of this pie is marshmallow, which Dan won’t eat as a pretty strict vegetarian. As it turned out, I ended up using vegetarian marshmallows anyway (which really don’t taste all that different), so Dan did get to try it. I have no idea why, but at the end of October normal marshmallows (and more specifically plain white ones, which is what I was after) disappeared from the shelves everywhere. We hunted in a number of shops before giving in and using a health food shop to buy the veggie version.

Anyway, onto the pie – which, by the way, tasted amazing! I will definitely be making this again. You begin by making a chocolate biscuit base (just like a cheesecake base). You then melt down your marshmallows, add a little green food colouring and some peppermint essence, and top the base with this. Chill this in the fridge before whipping cream and adding this to the top of the pie. Finally, because this was Halloween I endeavoured to make some chocolate bats by melting some dark chocolate, then cutting out bat shapes. They didn’t look great, but definitely added to the lovely minty taste of the pie. The pie went down really well with everybody who had some.

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: Hummingbird Bakery Cake Days, pg. 45

August 13, 2014

Chocolate Christmas Log

Filed under: Cake, Christmas, Sweets — Tags: , , , , — lawsonanna @ 5:51 pm

Christmas chocolate logDon’t be fooled by the name, this chocolate log is good any time of the year. Although it does also work well at Christmas. This was the only proper ‘cake’ I made for the weekend my family was here, although I did do plenty of baking (see the gleaming maple cheesecake, savoury potato and cheese scones and scones of splendour).

I’ve made this before (or versions of it), with varying degrees of success. But when it works well, it works really, really well. And this time round, it worked well. The actual log isn’t chocolate, it’s vanilla with a cream, creme fraiche and morello cherry conserve filling. The topping, however, is a dark chocolate and double cream topping which is then covered with chopped-up Flakes. Finally, icing sugar is sifted over the top to give a snow-like effect.

It all tastes absolutely wonderful, and horribly unhealthy. But when things taste this good, I’m happy to die.

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: My own, but it’s a combination of the Buche de Noel recipe from Simply Cadbury’s Chocolate, pg. 116, the Black Forest Chocolate Roulade from an old (Winter 2009) Co-Op magazine, pg. 34  and The Legend of the Poinsettia from Baking, Making and Sharing, pg. 66

July 12, 2014

Star-topped mince pies with homemade mincemeat

Filed under: Christmas, Sweets — Tags: , , , , — lawsonanna @ 7:09 pm

Mince pie one standingAnother odd Christmas bake for June, there were two reasons I chose to make these. Firstly, we were going on holiday with my family for a few days, and I knew there would be, and had been, loads of cake for them to eat (my dad had just retired and there had been a lot of cake on offer). So I wanted to make something that I knew they wouldn’t have eaten much of recently. I figured mince pies were a pretty good bet for June!

Secondly, I did want to do a test run of these before Christmas because I would like to make my own mince pies (I don’t normally). And not just my own mince pies, but my own mince meat as well.

I’m pleased to say, these turned out really well. The mincemeat was really easy to make, and smelt amazing. I wasn’t able to buy cranberries (it was June, after all), but the recipe worked just as well with grated cooking apple. Although I would use cranberries if I could, just because I prefer them. The pastry for the pies took a while to make, but it was worth doing. The recipe suggests you make bite size mince pies, and this did seem to work really well. It does take longer because you have to cut out more pastry pieces, and you could probably easily make standard size mince pies, but I liked the appeal of mini mince pies that you could eat in one go.

The one thing I will say about the recipe is that, as often seems to be the case with Nigella recipes, the amounts are vastly off. I made one third of the mince meat mixture and it made enough (just) for 36 small mince pies – according to the recipe it should only have been enough for about 15-20. Equally, I made half the amount of pastry mixture and it also (luckily) made enough for 36 pies; the recipe states that the full amount of mixture should make 36 mince pies. I was lucky that the amounts matched up; at least I will know for next time!

Regardless of the terrible amount judgments, this is a great recipe and worked out really well. I’d definitely be making these again – probably actually for Christmas next time though!

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: Nigella Christmas, pgs. 186-189

January 30, 2014

Christmas Puddini Bonbons

Filed under: Cake, Christmas, Sweets — Tags: , , , , — lawsonanna @ 9:42 pm

I’m really sad that we don’t have a photo of these, because they looked amazing. I wanted to make them last Christmas as a gift, but never got around to it. This year I knew we had a few spare days between finishing work and seeing people for Christmas, so I made sure they got made – and them gave them away as a gift. Not before I’d made sure I’d tried one though!

These bonbons are basically little truffles made from (mostly) Christmas pudding and chocolate, which you then decorate to make look like miniature Christmas Puddings. You do this by melting some white chocolate over the truffle, then adding green and red glace cherries to get a holly and berry effect.

Now, I don’t care what my myriad of recipe books say (this isn’t the first time I’ve tried to get hold of them), but green glace cherries do not exist in most major supermarkets. Perhaps they do in specialist cook shops, but I’m yet to find any. So, to get the holly leaf effect I cut up tiny strips of marzipan which I then coloured green. Green royal icing probably would have worked here too, or green jelly sweets (which you can usually find, but for some reason had gone on a hiatus for Christmas 2013).

The truffles tasted OK, but to be honest they were mostly like very rich Christmas Pudding with some chocolate added. Which is exactly what they were. I was mostly proud of these because of the way they looked – which is why I’m sad there’s no photo!

Who made them: Anna and Dan

Recipe: Nigella Christmas, pg. 246-248

February 21, 2011

“Loving Truffles”

Filed under: Sweets — Tags: , , — thinkingdan @ 9:41 pm

This alternative recipe for truffles doesn’t need condensed milk, which makes it easier to gather ingredients for.  In fact you may have them already in the house.  The downside is that they lack the richness of their brethren, which we mitigated somewhat by lacing them with amaretto.  They do taste pretty great, and once I’d gotten over the fact that they weren’t my favourite truffles I found them pretty tasty (certainly nicer than the M&S ones we had in the house, which are themselves pretty tasty).

Obviously the quality of the chocolate is very important.


For the filling:

  • 150g plain chocolate
  • 3 tablespoons double cream
  • 2 tablespoons liquor (brandy, amaretto, Tia Maria, etc).

For the coating:

  • 250g milk chocolate

Our strategy is to melt half of the coating into soft ice cube trays, pop them into the freezer for 10 minutes, mix and melt the truffle mixture, pour in and return to the freezer.  Then when it sets, cover with the remaining chocolate and return to the freezer for a final 10 minutes.  They look exactly like our previous ones since they were made in the same way.

Next time we are going back to condensed milk, which is a little more hassle but oh so worth it.

Who made it: A joint effort between Anna and Dan.

Recipe: “Baking, making and sharing” by Susan Over, page 6.

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