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Sweets For My Sweet

So for Sarah’s birthday, I tried to think of what to give her as a present. Actually, she had already had her present from me, Amy and Sarah (aka Team MASH) which was her birthday crown, but I wanted to give her a little something extra for inviting me, and letting me stay at her house. I know she’s a huge fan of salted caramel anything so I thought I would attempt to make some for her, and thought I would share the recipe here – it was much easier than I thought! (Please forgive the photos – I made this after work and took the photos as an afterthought on my little point and shoot)

So, to make salted caramel sauce, you will need:

  • 75g unsalted butter
  • 50g soft light brown sugar
  • 50g golden caster sugar
  • 50g golden syrup
  • 125ml double cream
  • 1tsp salt crystals (not table salt, but more like the stuff you put in a salt mill)

Melt the butter, sugars and golden syrup in a small pan, and let it simmer for a few minutes, giving it a stir every so often.

Add in the cream and stir together, adding in the salt as you stir.

Done! I sprinkled a bit more salt on top which made that extra salty, but it was still good!

One jar didn’t seem like enough, so I thought I’d make my favourite ice cream sauce. I didn’t realise that I’d made this before, but dulce de leche is one of the yummiest and easiest things to make.

Take a can of condensed milk, take the label off (if you can!) and stab two holes opposite each other on the top.

Put the can in a small pan, with water coming up to about halfway up the can. (Any further, and it could go in the can). I put a cloth in the pan to stop it rattling about (because from previous experience, its REALLY annoying to have the can rattling about in a metal pan) Put the pan on a medium heat to bring the water to a simmer, then turn down the heat to keep it simmering. Keep the water topped up, as the can needs to be in the pan simmering for at least 3 hours. (I kept this on the heat for about 3 and a half hours. I think it could have done with a bit longer actually)

After the can has cooled down, open the can. It looks…crap.

But then give it a bit of a stir…

NOM.

So I tipped it into a bowl…

Gave it a bit of a whisk…

And done!

The jars were just £1 from Ikea, and double quantities of both of these recipes filled them. The dulce de leche can also be used to make things like banoffee pies – just pour it into a pastry case lined with banana slices and pop more banana on top.

Fat Friday

It’s my colleague Louise’s birthday next Thursday, but we are going out tonight for dinner at Aqua. To start the celebrations, I decided to make a cheesecake – but one with a brownie base. I used the brownies recipe that I posted previously (a big favourite in the office, and one of my favourite things to bake because its seriously easy. I cheat a bit, and use a big metal mixing bowl on the hob (low low low heat) to melt the butter and chocolate, then just chuck everything else in on top.) then this Nigella recipe for no bake cheesecake. We’ve not cut into the cheesecake yet (I’ll update the post at the bottom when I do) but I’m quite worried that it hasn’t set properly. Argh. Stupid American recipes. WHY WOULD YOU MEASURE THINGS IN CUPS? (S’alright. I’ve complained at the Americans in the office. It did give me a good chance to use my fab Joseph Joseph set* as well – this 6 item set is £12, but the 8 item set* with the additional items being things that aren’t really that useful is about £35. Crazy.)

The items in the above photos though, well, those are mini fairy cakes. I KNOW THEY ARE AMAZING. This recipe from Nigella’s How to Eat* book is seriously easy. Here’s my version of the method:

Ingredients

125g self-raising flour
125g unsalted butter, soft
125g caster sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking powder
milk

Method
Throw all the ingredients in a food processor except the milk. Leave to blend for a few mins until its all mixed together, then drip in a few teaspoons of milk, so it becomes more of a cake batter consistency. Put into cases, bake at 200°C for about 10/15 mins (until they look nicely brown, and a skewer comes out clean)

For the mini cakes though, I had a few packs of petit four cases* (new bad habit when I go shopping – picking up cake cases because they’re pretty. I have about a thousand cake cases now) and bought this cake tin* which the cases fitted into perfectly. I put my cake mix into my icing bag to put into the cases which was a great idea! I picked up some writing icing this morning on the way to work, because I didn’t have enough butter to do buttercream, and wrote the message on with frozen hands when I first got in! Everyone has been decorating their own cakes before they eat them – a good activity for a Friday!

I may be caked out already, and we’ve not even had the cheesecake…help!

edit The cheesecake was a bit sloppy, but lush – creamy and rich but the brownie balanced it well :)

Mmm…Brownies

I’ve seen mentions of the “Fairy Hobmother” from Appliances Online before, but hadn’t really paid attention until I recieved an email after commenting on Becs blog post about stroopwafels. She was sent a voucher for Amazon and bought a stroopwafel maker. Stroopwafel. Strooooooooopwafel. Its a satisfying word to say, and a very satisfying thing to eat. There is a Welsh company called Tregroes that makes them in the UK, I ate SO many when I was at uni, but now I live the other side of the border, they’re not so easy to find (although Waitrose sells the individual ones. YAY WAITROSE I LOVE YOU)

Ahem. Waffle tangents. With my voucher, I thought it would be a good idea to build up my baking collection – I don’t seem to have much to bake with, only to make fairy cakes. I can’t remember where this recipe came from, but its pretty bloody good.

  • 115g butter (plus a bit more to grease the pan)
  • 115g chocolate (broken up)
  • 300g caster sugar
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 140g plain flour
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 100g chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 180ºC / 350ºF / Gas Mark 4. Grease and line a 7 inch square cake tin.

Place butter and chocolate in a saucepan and stir over a low heat until melted. Think about how wrong it would be to taste this butter/chocolate goo. Manage to resist.

Remove from the heat, then stir until smooth and leave to cool slightly.
Stir in the sugar, salt and vanilla extract. The sugar (unsurprisingly!) really starts to thicken this up.
Add the eggs, one at a time, and stir until blended.

Sift the flour and cocoa powder into the mixture and heat until smooth. There is no good way to take a photo of sifting flour.

Stir in the chocolate chips. Mmmmmm. I put some white chocolate, lumps of Dairy Milk and some of those Caramel Nibble things in.

Oooooooooh. Wipe the dribble off your keyboard.

Pour into the tin. Clean up by licking the bowl and spoon.

Bake in the preheated oven for 35 – 40 mins until a cocktail stick inserted into the centre comes out almost clean. Leave to cool slightly (or until you can’t resist any more)

Nom.

I’d love to hear what your favourite recipes are…perhaps the Fairy Hobmother is listening in…

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