Baking with Vimto Mini Jelly Beans

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I was recently very lucky to receive a parcel full of Vimto goodies, including their new Mini Jelly Beans. Strawberry, Cherry and Original Vimto flavours all in one packet. They are dairy free and made with real fruit juice, and are suitable for vegetarians. These were absolutely scrumptious. We all love Vimto in my house so this was a wonderful parcel to receive!

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With the Great British Bake Off in full swing, the nation has gone in to baking frenzy. One of my favourite things to do is bake with my 9 year old son Luke. I’m a firm believer that baking with children is a vital activity. It gives them skills that will be so beneficial to them later in life and also is an unbelievably fantastic bonding pastime. When I was a child my Mum was too ill to bake, so I missed out on this. I was determined I would bake with Luke and he really enjoys it. I think too of a BBC film I saw that has really stuck in my head since watching it: Toast, which is a biography of the famous chef Nigel Slater. The scene that haunts me is when, as a child Nigel kept asking if he could bake mince pies for Christmas with his Mum but she kept saying no. Then a couple of weeks before she usually made them she took him into the kitchen and made some with him, as she knew she was dying and this would be her only chance. That memory has stayed strong with him, and the scene has stayed strong with me. I don’t mean this post to be sorrowful, I just want to express how something as simple as baking with family can have such a lasting impression on their lives.

One of the first things I ever made with Luke was good old rock cakes. These were the first thing I ever baked at school and were so easy but tasty. If you have never baked with your children before, these are the perfect place to start. Luke now makes them on his own (apart from the oven part) and loves them with either cherries or sultanas in. I decided to see what they would be like with Vimto Mini Jelly Beans in instead of fruit. I have to say I think I actually preferred them! The Jelly Beans went beautifully soft after they were baked and they tasted so good. Here is the recipe…

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VIMTO MINI JELLY BEAN ROCK CAKES

225g self raising flour, sifted

110g unsalted butter, chilled and cubed

75g caster sugar

110g Vimto Mini Jelly Beans

1 egg, beaten

2 dessertspoons milk

  • Preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan. Line 2 baking sheets/trays with baking paper.
  • Place the flour and butter into a bowl and rub together using your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
  • Add the caster sugar and Jelly Beans and stir it together.
  • Pour in the egg and milk and mix well together, making sure the Jelly Beans are evenly distributed. The mixture will be very stiff.
  • Use a spoon to place 10 heaped mounds on to the baking sheets, 5 on each. Place them well apart as they do spread out! Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown and nicely risen. Cool on a wire rack. Enjoy!

 

As you can see, they really are easy to make and your children will love them. They will also feel so proud that they created something so yummy. Most children love getting a bit messy, so their sticky hands from rubbing the flour and butter together will be so satisfying for them. And believe me, they’ll remember the experience a lot longer than you could imagine!

 

We also used the goodies to decorate a delicious cake. Use your favourite sponge cake recipe to make the cake of your choice (we made a vanilla cake) and mix Vimto cordial into stiff buttercream to taste. The Vimto will make it go lovely and fluffy. Fill your cake with it, smooth some round the side, and pipe a circle on the top edge. Pour some Mini Jelly Beans on to the top to cover. If you want you can mix icing sugar and a small amount of Vimto together until it coats the back of a spoon nicely. Put this into a disposable piping bag and snip off the very tip. Pipe a small blob of icing on to the top edge and let it run down the side. Repeat at regular intervals all around the cake. I have to say, Vimto buttercream is now a favourite in this house! Not too strong but enough to taste it. Perfect.

 

If you want to try Vimto Mini Jelly Beans for yourself (and I strongly recommend that you do as they are moreishly addictive) you can buy them in individual serving packs or in family sized packs,from Nisa, Poundland, Home Bargains, some Tesco stores, among other shops.

TOP TIP… Buy more than you need. It is impossible to not eat a whole packet one or two extra as you make the rock cakes.

Have fun!

 

DISCLAIMER: I received the Jelly Beans and Cordial for free to use in baking. All ideas and views are my own and I am always honest in my opinions. 

No-Bake Rose and Pistachio Cheesecake

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With Christmas already becoming a distant memory, thoughts turn to Valentine’s Day. Whether you’re single or in a relationship, you just can’t escape it. The lovely people at Monin UK asked me if I would like to come up with a recipe suitable for this romantic day, and I immediately knew what I would make. People often say that oysters are the food of love. Well they’re wrong. It’s cheesecake! Fluffy, creamy, indulgent cheesecake. Not the baked ones either. You just can’t beat a no-bake cheesecake. And if you’re going to make something so heavenly, you don’t want to settle for a thin, easily crumbled base and an inch of cheesecake topping, oh no! You need a thick base you can taste, and you need lashings of creamy topping. If this looks too much for you, you can just half the ingredients to make a more delicate version, but I’d recommend going the whole hog and trying it this way. Or you could just use a bigger tin than I used.

As you all know by now, rose is my absolute favourite flavour and perfect for Valentine’s day. Don’t give someone a single red rose. That’s too cliché! Make them a beautiful rose cheesecake instead. Decorate it with rose petals, and you’ve just won my heart 🙂 I didn’t just want rose on its own though. I wanted another delicate taste, and pistachio pairs beautifully with rose. I’ve included pistachio nuts in the base and the topping but you can leave them out if you want. The pistachio syrup flavour is gorgeous. I only added the actual nuts for a bit of yummy texture. You could make this cheesecake using different flavoured syrups if you prefer but be careful if you do… not all are suitable as some of the more sour ones (such as pomegranate and cranberry) can curdle the mixture. I was toying with the idea of delicately colouring the layers (green for the pistachio and pink for the rose) but decided that if you accidentally add too much you’ll be left with a very garish looking dessert. So I’ve kept it simple this time, but feel free to colour the layers gradually if you want.

NO-BAKE ROSE AND PISTACHIO CHEESECAKE

FOR THE BASE

250g digestive biscuits

110g unsalted butter

30g pistachio nuts

FOR THE TOPPING

2 x 280g tubs full-fat cream cheese (I used Philadelphia)

100g icing sugar, sifted

300ml double cream

50g pistachio nuts

3 tbsp Monin Pistachio Syrup

3 tbsp Monin Rose Syrup

Rose petals, to decorate

  • To Make the Base: line a 7 inch loose-bottomed deep cake tin or springform cake tin with foil, carefully making sure you press as many bumps out as possible. Gently melt the butter in a saucepan, making sure it doesn’t burn. Blitz the biscuits and pistachios in a food processor until they become crumbs. Alternatively, place them into a ziplock bag, and bash them with a rolling pin.
  • Pour the crumb mixture into the pan with the butter and mix until well combined. Tip this mixture into the cake tin, cover the bottom completely, and then use the back of a spoon to press the mixture down firmly. Place into the fridge for at least 1 hour to firm up.
  • To Make the Topping: Place the cream cheese into a large bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, and gently whisk it to loosen it up a bit. Add the sifted icing sugar and whisk until combined.
  • In another bowl, whip the double cream until it reaches soft peak stage. (When you lift the beater or whisk,  the cream will form a slight peak but the tip of it will fold back down).
  • Add the cream to the cream cheese mixture and fold in with a spatula until well combined. Place half of this mixture into another bowl (or back in the bowl you whipped the cream in to save dishes).
  • Place the pistachio nuts into a food processor and blitz until roughly chopped. Alternatively chop by hand with a sharp knife. Tip these into one of the bowls of cheesecake mixture, along with the pistachio syrup. Fold in well with a spatula until completely combined. You’ll notice it thickening as you fold it. Pour this on top of the cheesecake biscuit base, and smooth it down until level. Place into the fridge until the next part is ready to use.
  • Pour the rose syrup into the bowl with the remaining cheesecake mixture and fold in well with a spatula. Again, you’ll notice it thickening. Remove the cheesecake from the fridge and gently spoon this layer on top. Spread until it has covered the first layer and is smooth and level. Place back into the fridge for at least 5 hours to set (overnight would be perfect).
  • Remove from the fridge. Gently remove from the tin and peel off the foil very carefully. It should hold it’s shape easily by now. Place onto a serving plate and scatter rose petals around the top. Serve and enjoy!

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I used a range of large and small petals but you can use whichever you prefer. Or you can use pistachios or even chocolate curls if you prefer. Although I made this with Valentine’s Day in mind, it is perfect for any occasion really.

I’d recommend buying Monin Syrups either from Udal Supplies Ltd or from Next Day Coffee. Just click on their names to go straight to their websites.

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

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Black Forest Hot Chocolate Bundt Cake

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I have 2 addictions in life… Nordic Ware bundt tins and the Costa Coffee Festive menu drinks, in particular the Black Forest Hot Chocolate. The Nordic Ware addiction is an all year long one, but sadly the Costa Coffee one is limited to one month a year when the Festive menu appears. Or at least it was! Tassimo coffee machines were selling ridiculously cheaply in the Black Friday sales online a few months ago so we bought one. As soon as my sister found out, she went online and bought me the exact syrups that Costa use in my favourite drink so I could make them at home too! (She bought me the rose one too as everyone knows I adore rose in all forms… flower, scent, and flavour). She even bought me the bottle pourer as well to make drizzling the cherry syrup easier!

Anyway I’m waffling. In case you’ve never tried one this is what the Black Forest Hot Chocolate looks like:

Picture courtesy of Costa

A delicious hot chocolate mixed with blackberry syrup, topped with slightly sweetened fresh cream, drizzled with a yummy cherry sauce and chocolate curls sprinkled on top to finish. Sheer indulgent heaven! I was making one at home and the idea came to me to make a cake version of it! I had the syrups so started planning. I decided to make it as a bundt and thought a flat-topped tin would be best so that I could pipe cream on top, so I made it in the Star shaped tin. Until now THIS has been my favourite bundt recipe that I have created, but I have to admit the Black Forest one has knocked it off top spot for me.

I was asked once why I use buttermilk in my bundts whereas other people use yoghurt. It is just personal preference. Both serve the same purpose but I always have buttermilk in the fridge. Buttermilk, like yoghurt, reacts with bicarbonate of soda, causing harmless carbon dioxide gas. This gas helps bakes to rise and makes them light and fluffy. I use it in scones all the time for that reason too. Enough science, here’s the recipe. It looks like a huge list of ingredients but most of it is store cupboard essentials.

BLACK FOREST HOT CHOCOLATE BUNDT CAKE

FOR THE CAKE:

250 g unsalted butter, at room temperature

190 g golden caster sugar

190 g soft light brown sugar

340 g plain flour

half level tsp bicarbonate of soda

half level tsp salt

1 level tsp baking powder

25 g cocoa powder

4 large eggs, beaten

200 ml buttermilk

200 g milk chocolate (or a combination of dark and milk chocolate), broken into pieces

8 tbsp (120 ml) Monin blackberry syrup

FOR THE DECORATION:

250 ml fresh double cream

1 level tbsp icing sugar

Monin Cherry syrup

extra chocolate

  • Grease a 10-12 cup bundt tin well with Cake Release, or melted butter and flour. (Or you could try this in normal cake tins). Preheat the oven to 170C.
  • In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugars until pale and fluffy.
  • Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water, and leave until almost completely melted, stirring once or twice. Remove from the heat and stir until totally smooth. Leave to cool slightly.
  • In another bowl, sieve together the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt, bicarbonate of soda and cocoa). I like to quickly mix with a spoon after sieving cocoa and flour together to make sure it is thoroughly combined and there are no white powders left.
  • In a large jug mix the wet ingredients together (beaten eggs, buttermilk, melted chocolate and blackberry syrup).
  • Add half of the wet ingredient mixture to the butter and sugar and beat well until combined. Add half of the dry ingredient mixture and gently fold in with a large spoon or spatula. Fold in the last half of the wet ingredients, followed by the remaining dry ingredient mixture until completely combined. (This was the perfect amount of blackberry syrup flavour for me and tasted the same as how Costa serve it. However, taste a bit of the mixture and if you like it stronger add an extra tbsp of syrup now).
  • Pour into your prepared tin until no higher than three quarters full, then place in the centre of the oven and bake for around 50 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean. (Don’t worry if the top has cracked, it will be on the bottom when served). Leave to cool in the tin for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
  • When it is completely cool, place on to a serving plate.Whisk together the cream and icing sugar until it forms very soft peaks. (When you pipe cream it thickens rapidly in the piping bag so don’t over-whisk it now). Spoon into a piping bag and pipe on to the top of your bundt however you prefer. I just did simple rosettes. Nothing fancy. Pipe more around the bottom as well. (If your bundt tin design allows, pipe extra cream around the sides too).
  • Drizzle Monin cherry syrup all over the cream letting it come down the sides too. Use a potato peeler to make curls of chocolate (just “peel” down the side of a row of chocolate) and sprinkle them on top to finish. Or you can crumble a Flake on top.

And there you have the cake version of the famous drink. Obviously it is EXTREMELY calorific so probably best just to make it for special occasions!!! My Other Half ate 2 slices straight after each other, and said it tastes just like the drink. My son polished off a slice in record time too and said it was delicious. I put a picture of it on Twitter and have to admit I was overwhelmed by the response to it, so I hope you like it as much as we do.

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Obviously as there is fresh cream on top, this cake needs to be stored in the fridge. Remove it for a while before serving so the cream isn’t too cold. It is best eaten on the same day as cakes in fridges tend to go hard quickly. Or you could make the cake and only put the cream and decorations on individual slices when you serve them. That way you can keep the cake in an airtight container.

The best place to buy Monin syrups is from Udal Supplies. You can find the blackberry syrup HERE and the cherry one HERE. If you want the bottle pourer for easier drizzling of the cherry one on top, that can be found HERE.

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I have contacted Costa and asked if they would mind me making cake versions of more of their best-loved drinks. Let me know in the comments what your favourites ones are 🙂

Mincemeat and Custard Tarts…. An Alternative to Mince Pies

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I know it’s a bit late to be posting a recipe you would normally associate with Christmas but I’m going to be making these all year round so I thought I’d share the recipe. I’m not a huge fan of traditional mince pies unless they are completely drowning in custard, so I decided to try and make a pie which had the custard inside ready. I had a few very messy attempts before realising it just doesn’t work as a pie. You can’t fill them deep enough with oozing custard. And then they leak and look a mess. Not good enough. I found THIS RECIPE but didn’t fancy using puff pastry. I figured a shortcrust pastry would hold the filling better and then decided to try my favourite sweet pastry instead. I baked them in a muffin tin rather than a bun tray as it needs the deeper sides to hold it all together. This recipe makes about 18 tarts. I take no credit for the filling as it was originally thought up by the previous recipe writer. My son doesn’t like mincemeat but wanted some custard tarts too. I substituted the mincemeat for jam and they came out beautifully. He ate 2 of his jam and custard tarts as soon as they were cool enough and has asked if I will make these all the time!

MINCEMEAT AND CUSTARD TARTS

225 g plain flour

115 g butter, cubed and chilled

85 g caster sugar

1 large egg, beaten

300 ml ready made custard

4 rounded tbsps ground almonds

Mincemeat (1 tsp per tart)

Toasted flaked almonds, to sprinkle on top

Icing sugar, to dust

  • Rub the butter into the flour until it resembles bread crumbs. Stir in the sugar. Pour in the beaten egg and use a round bladed metal knife to mix it in as best as you can. Use your hand to press any dry bits into the pastry mixture. Press it all together until it is a smooth ball. It will feel very slightly sticky. Wrap it in foil or clingfilm and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  • While the pastry is chilling, preheat the oven to 180C. Very lightly grease a muffin tin with butter.
  • Mix the custard and the ground almonds together.
  • Remove the pastry from the fridge and gently knead it to soften it to a rollable consistency. Dust your work surface with flour and roll the pastry to your preferred thickness. Mine was about 4mm. Use a large round cutter to cut out circles.
  • Gently press the pastry circles into the muffin tin holes. Add 1 heaped teaspoon of custard mixture to each tart, and then add 1 teaspoon of mincemeat in the middle. Sprinkle over a few flaked almonds and then bake in the centre of the oven for around 15-20 minutes until the pastry is lightly golden.
  • Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes, then gently remove using a small spatula or knife. Dust with icing sugar and serve warm or cold.

As you can see from my picture below, my largest pastry cutter only cut circles big enough to go halfway up the sides of the tin. If yours goes higher you can add more filling.

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I’m going to substitute the mincemeat for a cherry in the Summer as that would go so well with the almond custard. Let me know if you come up with any variations too 🙂

 

 

Chocolate Cream Truffles

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Happy New Year!!!!!! I’m typing this up at the start of January knowing a lot of people will have made a New Year’s Resolution to eat healthier. These truffles are far from healthy so why am I trying to tempt you into making them? Well I know a lot of people who have also made a Resolution to make more gifts themselves to really add that loving personal touch for the lucky recipient. These are perfect for gifts. They are wickedly indulgent and very rich, and they are easy enough for children to make with you.

I made these at Christmas, just like I do every year. This tradition started when I was a teenager. I didn’t come from a rich family. As those of you who know me will know, my Mum died when I was 12 and my Dad had a lifetime of illness which meant he was unable to work. This meant money was extremely tight in our household. I had wanted to give my favourite teachers Christmas presents but there wasn’t enough money for me to buy them anything nice. I decided to try and make some beautiful confectionary instead and found a recipe for chocolate cream truffles. The recipe I found didn’t quite work so I came up with my own. Happily, the teachers were delighted with their little boxes of truffles, and my Dad loved them so much I made them for him every year until his health problems decided he could only eat the blandest of food. I make them now each Christmas to remind me of him, and every time I do I remember how happy he was eating them 🙂

Anyway enough of all that, here is the recipe:

CHOCOLATE CREAM TRUFFLES

115 g plain chocolate, broken into pieces

115 ml double cream

2 tsp vanilla extract

450 g icing sugar, sifted

Chocolate vermicelli

  • Put the chocolate into a heatproof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Leave until the chocolate has melted, stirring occasionally.
  • Add the vanilla and the cream and mix well. Gradually stir in the icing sugar.
  • Mix well until all completely combined. The mixture will be very stiff. Use your hands to knead it all together. The heat from your hands will help to soften the mixture. Press it all together until smooth.
  • Using slightly wet hands, roll portions of the mixture into balls , and then roll around in the chocolate vermicelli until completely covered. Place into sweet cases and leave to set.

I have made these using orange flavoured chocolate as well as just plain and they are equally yummy. You could also use flavoured icing sugars to make many different types of truffle. If you haven’t come across these before, I can highly recommend Sugar and Crumbs who make so many flavours you’ll be spoilt for choice!

Let me know if you try any different flavours. I’d love to hear which are the most delicious. And if your resolutions fall by the wayside, make these to cheer yourself up. Happy New Year everyone ❤

Cream of Tomato Soup Recipe using Passata

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As part of October’s Degustabox I received two tomato products from Cirio, a can of chopped tomatoes and a bottle of passata. As soon as I saw them I could hear a tomato soup begging to be made. It was a particularly miserable day weather-wise and so what better way to feel warm and cosy than to tuck into a bowl of freshly homemade soup.

Because this recipe uses passata and canned tomatoes rather than fresh, it is a quick and easy meal. Most of the ingredients are things you would have in your kitchen anyway so it is a really convenient recipe to use. You don’t need to do the swirl of cream on the top, that was just me trying to be fancy 😉 You know the type of plastic lidded containers that some takeaways come in? This recipe made enough to fill 3 of those to the brim, with a little bit left over. I hope you enjoy it!

CREAM OF TOMATO SOUP

1 large onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 tbsp olive oil

400g can Cirio chopped tomatoes

540g bottle Cirio passata

200ml chicken or vegetable stock

1.5 tbsp sugar

Half teaspoon celery seeds

Half teaspoon dried basil

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

100ml double cream

  • Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat, then add the onion and garlic and cook until the onion is softened but not brown.
  • Add all of the other ingredients except the cream, and stir well. Cover, turn the heat down to low, and simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat and using a hand blender, blend until smooth.
  • Care is needed for this step… if you add the cream straight into the soup, chances are it will split or curdle. The way I’m describing here will prevent that from happening. Put the cream in a jug and add 2 tbsp of the soup to the cream in the jug. Mix well. Add another 2 tbsp of soup and again mix well. This stabilises it and it now won’t split when you add it to the soup. Slowly add the cream mixture to the soup in the pan, mixing well as you add it.
  • Place the pan back over a low heat to warm through again but do not let it boil. Season to taste with black pepper, and enjoy.

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Peanut Butter and Jelly Thumbprint Cookies Recipe – Zombie Jelly Babies

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I seemed to enjoy PB&J treats this month! First the no bake cheesecake, and now these cookies. I was sent these Bassetts Jelly Babies in the September Degustabox (review for that coming later) and thought they would be perfect in a cookie. My first attempt went terribly wrong. I discovered that Jelly Babies have a knack of disappearing when you cook them, leaving a jelly stained hole where they had been. I refused to be beaten by a Jelly Baby though so I finally have the recipe for you. If you cook them whole, Jelly Babies vanish. Cut them into pieces and they just melt. Perfect! I wasn’t going to put a Jelly Baby in the melted jelly but my son Luke said it would look as if they were either melting or forming out of the jelly, so we decided we would call these Zombie cookies. As you can see by the picture though, the black ones had mostly already been gobbled up by this point so we only managed one black jelly zombie. Oops! Anyway, these are very quick and simple and great fun to make with children, and would be a perfect treat for Halloween. Here is the recipe:

PB&J THUMBPRINT COOKIES – ZOMBIE JELLY BABIES

70g unsalted butter, softened

70g golden caster sugar

1 large egg, beaten

200g plain flour, sifted, plus a bit extra to help roll the cookies

2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter

20 Jelly Babies

  • Preheat the oven to 180C. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
  • Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Add the egg and mix well. Add the flour and peanut butter and mix well until thoroughly combined. The cookie dough will be a bit sticky but stiff.
  • Knead the dough together briefly then divide into 8 portions. Dust your hands with a bit of extra plain flour, then roll each portion into a ball. Place on to the baking tray and lightly flatten each ball. Dip your thumb (hence the name) into water, then press into the middle of each flattened ball. You want a nice round hollow, but make sure you don’t go through the bottom of the cookie.
  • Cut 12 Jelly Babies into quarters, then place 6 quarters into each thumbprint hole. Place on the middle shelf of your oven and bake for 12-15 minutes, until lightly golden.
  • Remove from the oven and place one whole Jelly Baby carefully into the melted jelly of each cookie. Leave on the baking tray for 10 minutes, then cool completely on a wire rack.

If you do make these with children, please just remember that melted jelly is extremely hot and sticks to skin, so make sure little fingers are careful when placing the whole Jelly Babies into the baked cookies.

Happy Halloween!

No Bake Peanut Butter and Jelly Cheesecake Recipe with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

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I was lucky enough to receive another yummy Degustabox in September and one of the scrumptious food items was Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. (We’re still getting through the other items but my box review will be up when we’ve tried it all).

I was lucky enough to receive 2 packets of these peanut butter cups, and each packet contained 3 cups. I must admit, I had never tasted them before so was excited to try them. Chocolate covered peanut butter… heaven! Well, I liked them so much I had to buy more for this recipe!

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I was wondering what I could make with them and decided that as Reese’s is an American company, I wanted to try the favourite American combination of peanut butter and jelly. I had to spend some time Googling this… should it be jelly like we eat in trifles, or jelly as in jam? What flavour should it be? I discovered that it is jamlike, and traditionally grape flavoured. However I couldn’t find grape jelly/jam anywhere here so I used strawberry. I think any berry jam would work just as well. In this recipe I used 8 peanut butter cups and the peanut butter taste was strong but delicious. If you want a more subtle taste I would use 5 or 6. You can always add more if you want it stronger. Also, I like quite a deep cheesecake as it’s a really indulgent creamy dessert, but if you like a thinner one, just use half of the ingredients. I made this in an 8 inch deep cake tin. Anyway, enough waffling, here’s the recipe:

NO BAKE PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY CHEESECAKE

250g digestive biscuits

80g unsalted butter

1 tbsp caster sugar

560g cream cheese

250ml double cream

80g icing sugar

5 to 8 Reese’s peanut butter cups, depending on how strong you want the flavour

3 tbsp strawberry jam

  • Line a deep cake tin with foil, getting rid of any big creases by pressing them down. Blitz the digestive biscuits in a food processor, or crush in a sandwich bag until there are no big chunks left. Mix in the caster sugar.
  • Melt the butter and then pour on to the biscuit crumbs. Mix well and then transfer to the foil lined tin. Spread it all over the base and press down firmly with the back of a metal spoon. Place in fridge for 30 minutes to harden.
  • Place the Reese’s peanut butter cups in a heatproof bowl and either melt over a pan of barely simmering water making sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water, or heat in the microwave checking every few seconds so they don’t burn. Stir the chocolate and peanut butter mixture well until it is all combined and is one colour.
  • In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the icing sugar and continue to beat. Add the melted Reese’s cups and beat well until it is all combined. Add the cream and beat until the mixture thickens. Alternatively you can beat the cream in a separate bowl until soft peak stage, then fold it into the peanut butter cheesecake mixture.
  • Pour the mixture on top of the biscuit base and spread evenly.
  • Very gently heat the jam until it just starts to go liquidy, then sieve to remove any lumps of fruit. (You just want the “jelly”). Use a teaspoon to drop little blobs of the jam on top of the cheesecake, then use a cocktail stick or skewer to make a swirly pattern. Place in fridge and chill for at least 4 hours until set.
  • To remove, gently lift the foil out of the tin, peel away from cheesecake and serve.

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Fat-Free Tea Loaf using Williamson Ginger Grove Tea

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I was lucky enough to be sent some Williamson Ginger Grove Tea as part of August’s delicious Degustabox (see last blog post for my review). As soon as I tried a cup of it I knew it would be perfect for using in a tea loaf recipe. This is a fat-free recipe and you can also choose whether you want it sugar-free or almost sugar-free. I have a very sweet tooth so included a sprinkling of sugar on the top of mine. This gives it a lovely crunch as well as a little extra sweetness. The fruit provides the main sweetness.

You can use whichever dried fruit you prefer. I used a mix of sultanas, raisins and glacé cherries, but you can add apricots, currants, cranberries… anything that takes your fancy.The key is to let the fruit soak in the tea for a very long time, preferably overnight. This makes the fruit swell up and makes the loaf lovely and moist with very juicy fruit in each bite. It is a very simple recipe to make, so I hope you enjoy it.

FAT FREE TEA LOAF

300ml black tea, made using 2 teabags (leave teabags in)

270g dried fruit of your choice

320g self raising flour

1 large egg, beaten

demerara sugar to sprinkle on top, optional

  • Allow the tea to brew for 10 minutes so the ginger flavour really comes through. Keeping the teabags in the tea, pour over the dried fruit. Mix briefly, then leave until cool. When the tea is cold, cover the bowl with clingfilm or a plate. Leave for at least 10 hours, but preferably overnight.
  • After this time, preheat the oven to 170C. Lightly grease and line your loaf tin. Remove the teabags from the fruit mix.
  • Sieve the flour into a bowl and then pour the fruit and tea mixture on top. Mix until just combined, then add the beaten egg. Mix again, then pour into the prepared loaf tin.
  • Sprinkle the top with a spoon or two of demerara sugar if desired.
  • Bake in the centre of the oven for 50 minutes, or until risen, golden, and cooked through. Leave in the tin for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a wire cooling rack.

This is delicious warm with butter spread on it. You can eat that guilt-free as there’s no butter in the bake! Bonus! It is also scrumptious cold on its own, or with butter, or with jam. Enjoy!