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Santa Hat Cupcakes

Dec 07, 2022

By now the house will be strewn with tinsel and glittering baubles.  It is the perfect time to indulge in a bit of festive baking alongside a playlist of holiday tunes. These red velvet cupcakes are show stoppers! The cocoa powder in the sponge gives them a mild chocolate flavour and rich colour. For the fabulous red icing I use cream cheese which lends a contrasting tangy taste to these sweet cupcakes.

Red velvet bakes have an intriguing trompe l’oeil effect signalling to the brain ‘red fruit’, whilst the flavour of the cake is actually chocolate, due to the addition of cocoa powder.  Commercial bakers achieve a vibrant deep red sponge purely by adding artificial red food colouring as it maintains a stable colour after baking which doesn’t fade.  However the manufacturer’s labelling indicates it should be used sparingly (so it’s wise to ask mum to supervise the amount used).  In this recipe, I have kept the red colouring to a...

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Festive Canap├ęs

Nov 21, 2022

There's no better time to settle into some creative cooking than in the run up to the party season. It's no secret that I adore this time of year and one of my favourite culinary hobbies is dreaming up little morsels of heaven to delight guests with.  By now I have a few signature recipes which many of my family and friends look forward to when they come for drinks.  Canapés don’t have to be difficult but they do give you an opportunity to showcase your culinary talents and impress your friends. Best of all, tasty bites are a great way to set any occasion off on a fabulous note! 

Try these 3 signature canapés that are true crowd pleasers. Remember, preparation is the key, but there is still lots of scope for creativity. You can store canape bases and fillings in an airtight container until ready to use.  Always buy plenty of extra fresh herbs for freshness.  Contrast and colourful garnishes make finger food look so appetising. Once you...

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Chocolate Yule Log

Dec 20, 2021
 

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A chocolate roulade makes an elaborate centrepiece at this time of year, so why not give your family a fabulous festive treat with this chocolate roulade. My flourless chocolate roulade is deliciously light and gluten free. Combining cherries, orange and a rich chocolate mousse like filling, it is the perfect prepare ahead dessert as it tastes even better when made the day before. Flavours such as brandy, cointreau, coffee, sweetened chestnut purée and even ginger can be added to the chocolate sponge or filling. 

Decorate into a Yule log for an elaborate, luxurious seasonal centrepiece. 

Sponge
200g dark chocolate (max 55% cocoa solids), coarsely chopped
25g butter
5 eggs, room temperature, separated into yolks and whites
150g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Chocolate Filling
125g dark chocolate, broken into squares
250g butter, softened
40g icing sugar, sieved
2 tbsp milk

Grease and...

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Smoked Salmon Terrines

Dec 15, 2021
 

A terrine with smoked salmon is something you can prepare ahead for Christmas. 
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Ingredients:
10 slices of smoked salmon
2-3 tbsp of freshly squeezed lemon juice
200g crème fraîche
200g cream cheese
1 tbsp of freshly chopped dill
salt and pepper
For the Cucumber:
1 cucumber
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp dill
1 tsp salt
pinch freshly ground black pepper

Method:

  1. Peel, deseed and finely slice the cucumber and place in a bowl.  Sprinkle over the salt, mix and allow to marinate for 30 minutes.
  2. Line 4 ramekins with a double layer of cling film.  Cut away any waxy edges from the smoked salmon (reserve these smoked salmon trimmings) then place 2 overlapping slices of smoked salmon over the clingfilm.
  3. Chop up the smoked salmon trimmings and put in a bowl together with the crème fraîche and cream cheese, lemon juice and dill.  Mix...
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Mince Pies

Dec 06, 2021

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Mince Pies play such a big part in a typical Christmas.  My grandma made them every year and while she always made her pastry by hand, she only ever used a jar of mincemeat.  I start to bake mince pies at home from the first week in December.  While my kids love the taste of them, they love making them even more with this easy recipe.  They make gorgeous presents wrapped up in florist cello-wrap and tied up with a festive ribbon.

Since I bake alot, I find my muffin tins have the perfect size hollows for filling deep mince pies.  If you have a shallower tins, be careful not to fill them to the brim as the mincemeat filling will expand while being baked.  Make them in advance and leave in the freezer uncooked and bake them when you need them.

There are lots of ways you can add your own signature to mincemeat. You can add some extra crunch with toasted chopped hazelnuts or bitter...

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