Tag Archives: cooking

Large Raspberry or Chocolate Meringues

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Large Raspberry or Chocolate Meringues

It’s bake-off time again at work, and I wanted to make something different to the usual cupcakes that most people roll out every year. It’s taken three attempts to get this meringue recipe right, but I think I’ve finally cracked it! My own recipe but based heavily on The Meringue Girls and Ottolenghi’s techniques. See here for the meringue girls website. And check out their videos in YouTube – they’re really helpful. They are my new girl crush. Both of them! And this article in the guardian is also full of great advice.

6 egg whites
Caster sugar (double the weight of your egg whites)
Dried raspberries
50g fresh raspberries for purée
100g fresh raspberries for decoration
Double cream for sandwiching together

– Preheat the oven to 200 degrees
– Separate the egg whites and weigh them
– Double this figure and weigh out that amount of caster sugar (in my case my eggs weighed 200g so I had 400g sugar)
– Put the egg whites in a food mixer with the whisk attachment and whisk until stuff peaks. I tried this with an electric hand whisk and it’s much harder work, and the results weren’t as light and fluffy. Using a food mixer makes all the difference in the world!
– Line a deep baking tray with grease proof paper and pour in the sugar, spreading evenly over the bottom. Put the tray in the oven.

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– Wait until the sugar is hot and the edges are beginning to caramelise.

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– Turn down the oven to 80 degrees (or lower If you can) and remove the sugar.
– Turn the food mixer back on and add the sugar a spoon at a time to the mixture, allowing each spoon to incorporate fully. The warm sugar will dissolve more quickly and create a lovely shiny mixture.
– Continue to mix until the meringue is shiny and thick and if you dip your finger in and rub it together with your thumb the mix should be warm and not grainy. It should hold its shape if you take a spoonful and not be runny (otherwise you will get flat meringues like these)

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– In the meantime, crush the dried raspberries with a spoon so they are little lumps (not powder), and blitz the 50g of fresh raspberries with a hand blender, then push through a sieve to make a smooth purée.

– Take the bowl off the mixer and gently fold in the dried raspberries.
Spoon generous helpings of the mix onto baking sheets lined with greaseproof paper. I used a serving spoon; choose a spoon that corresponds to the size of the meringues you want to make. I made 18 medium meringues with the intention of sandwiching them together.

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– Drizzle over a little purée onto each meringue.

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– Then swirl with a cocktail stick (I used a wooden kebab skewer) to mix in slightly. The purée will darken and thicken as it bakes.

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-Bake for around two hours. The idea is to slowly dry them. I then turned the oven off and left them in there to go completely cold. If you don’t like them sticky in the middle , bake for longer. When you turn them over they should be crisp on the bottom. No soggy bottoms here.
– Whisk the cream and use it to sandwich the meringues together, using the fresh raspberries as garnish.
– Eat quickly before everyone else gets their hands on them.

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– To make chocolate meringues, replace the dried raspberry with 50g of chopped dark chocolate ( and fold it in gently).

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– And instead of the raspberry purée, sift a small amount of cocoa over the bowl of meringue, but don’t fold it in.

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– Put spoonfuls of the meringue in a baking tray

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– and bake as above.
Delicious!

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I tried a new version of these chocolate ones today. I added in a tsp of orange essence, made the chocolate more chunky and barely folded it in. I also sifted the cocoa directly over the meringues instead of into the bowl.

The meringues are whiter because the chocolate hasn’t melted so much and mixed in the mixture.


Oh my god, they are amazing! The chocolate is still in chunks (it melted into the mix previously) and you can really taste the Orange. It’s like a Terry’s chocolate orange meringue! I’m going to eat them with the raspberry ice cream I made earlier this week (recipe here).

Spicy Pumpkin Chutney

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I had a large pumpkin kicking around from Halloween that didn’t get carved. Casting around for something to do with it (and not being a lover of pumpkin pie), I stumbled across this recipe. I think it’s based in a Nigella recipe.

I had way more pumpkin than they state on the recipe, so I kind of adapted it.

– 2.3kg of pumpkin (after being peeled and seeds removed), chopped into 2cm square cubes
– 4 Bramley apples, peeled, cored and chopped
– 3 onions, chopped
– 3 red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
– 700g sugar (I used a mix of brown and white because I didn’t have enough brown)
– 100g sultanas (that’s all I had, could do with more)
– 70g fresh ginger, grated
– 2 tsp ground cinnamon
– 1 tsp chilli powder
– 1 tsp ground cloves (original recipe had more, but I’m not a fan of cloves)
900ml cider vinegar

It’s pretty simple to make. Chop everything up, chuck it all in a pan and simmer until it’s all mushy. This amount took about 90 minutes.

Pack it into sterilised jars (I wash mine in the dishwasher then dry them in the oven at 150 degrees). Push it down to get rid of air bubbles. This amount made nine 1/2lb jars.

As with all chutneys it’s best to leave it for a while to mature. I will try a jar at Christmas (1 month) and see how it’s getting on.

It should be fine kept for about a year unopened. And I keep my chutney in the fridge once it’s opened.

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Dutch Apple Pie

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Many moons ago my brother owned a cafe in The Lake District.

He’s a particularly friendly chap, and visitors would come in just to chat to him. One year a Dutch couple came in every day of their week long holiday. When they returned home they sent him a special pie tin and a recipe for Dutch apple pie. The pie was a massive hit in the cafe. It was about 3 inches deep and we served it hot with cream or ice cream.

In the mists of time the recipe has been lost, but I made it so many times I half remember how to do it.

My cutie as pie daughter and I picked a load of apples at RHS Wisley the other day, so I decided to have a go at making my own version of the famous pie.

The original pie was really deep amd made with a sweet pastry crust, but feeling a bit lazy, I just bought some jus roll frozen short crust pastry and made it a normal pie size. If you are feeling adventurous make some sweet pastry (pâté sucre?) and use a deep springform tin.

Peel, core and slice some cooking apples. I used about 5, and i wish i had done another one. Over estimate what you think you will need as there is nothing worse than a skinny pie. Chuck them in your chosen pie dish as you slice them if you want to know how many you need. Then add at least one more (they shrink!).

Mix together some sugar and cinnamon (as much or as little as you like). I guess I used a couple of tablespoons of sugar and a teaspoon of cinnamon.

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Put a layer of apples in a bowl and sprinkle over some of the sugar.

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Keep on layering like this until all of your apples are used up.

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Cover with clingfilm and leave to rest. A couple of hours or ideally overnight. The idea is to let the sugar infuse with the apple and to draw out a lot of the juice.

Get a handful of sultanas (as much or little as you like) and put in a bowl. Pour over some rum or other delicious alcohol. I used cherry brandy this time. Cover with clingfilm and leave overnight.

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The next day drain the apple and the sultanas. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.

Roll out your pastry and fill your pie dish.

Layer in the apples and sultanas. Then top with a pastry crust. On the original version we used thin strands of pasty twisted in a lattice over the top. But this time I just did a normal rolled out top.

Glaze with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. Cut two holes in the top for the steam to escape through. Cook at 200 degrees for about half an hour. Reduce to 180 if it looks like the top is catching but you don’t think it’s cooked. Poke a knife through one of the slits in the top to check the apple is cooked.

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Serve hot with ice cream or sweetened whipped cream. This will be one of the best apple pies you have ever tasted. I guarantee it. And no soggy bottoms.

Chocolate cupcakes with buttercream frosting

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A quick post to share the delicious cupcakes I just made to celebrate the 9th birthday of my nephew Gordon and 5th birthday of my Niece Farrah.

As they live up North we don’t get to see them that often, so I always try and coincide my visits close to somebody’s birthday. With 2 of my 3 siblings, 6 nieces and nephews and 2
parents all living close to each other, it’s not that difficult!

We’re off to a scarecrow festival at Wray in Lancashire tomorrow (see here), all 13 of us. We’re having a picnic,so I’ve made some cakes to celebrate the birthdays.

I’m at my Mum’s so don’t have access to my massive collection of cookery books, therefore I googled and found some good recipes on the BBC website.

The cupcakes one is here

I used self raising instead of plain flour, omitted the baking powder and added orange zest.

For the frosting I used 280g butter, 500g icing sugar and the juice of one orange. I used some of it and them added a bit more juice about 100g more icing sugar and about 20g of cocoa.

It was great to try out my new icing set from Lakeland. The bag is quite small, but the nozzle I used was great. I’ve never iced cupcakes like this, but I reckon I did ok.

I made decorations by piping melted chocolate. The decorations represent the birthday kids names and ages.

They taste yummy, and I will definitely use this recipe again as the cake is lovely and moist.

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Oops one missin

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Rhubarb Jam

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It’s February! And that can mean only one thing. Yes. Early Rhubarb! That gorgeous, skinny, bright pink stuff that is grown in the dark in the Yorkshire rhubarb triangle between Wakefield, Leeds and Bradford.

Now I love rhubarb, I love the colour, the taste and even the funny stringy texture. And when I saw some in the lovely Priory Farm shop I bought it without knowing what I would do with it. Having just made a load of marmalade my preserving stuff was still hanging around, and I realised I had never made rhubarb jam, so why not give it a try?

Naturally I went straight to Pam Corbin’s River Cottage preserves book and used her recipe. It really is amazing, and I wholeheartedly recommend it as the only preserving book you will ever need.

And naturally I didn’t pay attention and made a bit of a hash of it. But it turned out ok in the end! In fact, I bought some more rhubarb when I saw it in Sainsbury’s, and it turned out perfectly second time around.

I used 500g of rhubarb, about 400g of preserving sugar, juice of 1 orange.
Well in reality I used 1 kg of sugar, but that’s because I’m a fool and thought there was 500g in the packet not 1kg!

It’s pretty simple to do. Just chop the rhubarb into chunks.

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And layer with the sugar in a preserving pan (layer of sugar on top and bottom).

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Note that this is where I added too much sugar, but I didn’t twig until later.

Pour over the orange juice and leave overnight.

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The next day I realised my sugar error and took out half of it and added a bit more juice. Of course being sensible, you don’t have to do this!

Slowly bring it to the boil and give a bit of a stir. Try not to break the rhubarb up too much.

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Then rolling boil for about 5 minutes until setting point is reached.

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Pop into warm sterilised jars (I put mine in the dishwasher and then in a 150 degree oven to sterilise them), and Bob’s your uncle.

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To quote Len from Strictly. Yum yum pigs bum.

I also made some honey preserved rhubarb and some delicious rice pudding this weekend, but more of that later.

Update: I also made some in May with regular rhubarb, and this is what it looks like. Not such a lovely colour, but still yummy.

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Cheats Chocolate and Orange Cookies

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I love baking, but sometimes even I like to cheat and make something with minimal effort and fuss. And that is where the lovely Iris at Baked By Me comes in. She sells a great range of cookie mixes and fantastic bakeware.

My last week in my current job starts tomorrow, so I thought I would take in some cookies as a treat for my colleagues. Of course I decided this at 8.30pm in Sunday night, so I needed something quick and easy.

I always keep a packet or two of Iris’ cookie mixes in the cupboard. I decided to use the Double Chocolate one, and pimp it up with some orange zest.

After mixing some soft butter and an eg together I tipped in the contents of the mix. The chocolate chips come separately from the rest of the mix, so I put half in the mix, an saved the rest for later. I also grated in the rind of an orange.

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A quick mix is all it needs, and then put walnut sized dollops on a baking tray. It’s quite sticky, but I don’t add extra flour as it makes lovely flat and slightly chewy cookies.

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Bake for 8-10mins at 180.

When they’re done whip them out and sprinkle with the remaining chocolate chips.

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Eat when cold. If you can wait that long!

A Tale of Two Marmalades

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Having stumbled across the Marmalade Awards website (here) which is hosted at Dalemain in my home county of Cumbria, I decided to see what all the fuss was about and to make my own marmalade. Having made jam for over 10 years I figured how hard can it be?

A quick trawl of the Internet and my cookery books showed me that there is not much variation in ingredients, but plenty of variation in methodology.

Thanks to the lovely people in Twitterland advising that farm shops were the best source of Seville oranges, I took a quick trip to Fannys Farm Shop in Merstham to pick up 2 kilos of oranges (and indulge in a delicious scone whilst I was there)!

I also found out that they do a marmalade competition. So now I have two competitions to enter!

The recipe I used was 1kg Seville oranges, 2kg sugar and juice of 1 large lemon. Simples no?

Marmalade Number 1 – Thick Cut

My favourite preserving book is River Cottage Preserves by Pam Corbin (try making the sweet pickled damsons – they look a bit odd, but taste amazing!). So I decided follow her method – principally because it didn’t involve fiddling with bits of muslin!

First I washed and cut the oranges in half (removing the green bit at the top) and squeezed them.

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I used a wooden fruit reamer and let the pips fall into a sieve.

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Then I chopped up the fruit – peel, pith and all. I guess this would be classed as thick peel.

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I added the peel to the juice with 2.5 litres of water and left it to soak overnight.

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The next day I boiled it for about an hour and a half until the peel was soft. Then added 2kg of Demerara sugar and the lemon juice, and slowly heated it until the sugar dissolved.

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Then heated it to a rolling boil until it reached setting point. This is supposed to be 105 degrees centigrade. Not that I would know as my jam thermometer is rubbish! I use the plate in the freezer approach, and occasional teaspoons of marmalade to test for set.

I filled half my jars and then added 25ml of Amaretto to the rest of the marmalade in the pan. Having tasted it, the amount of Amaretto was too small as the marmalade is very strong tasting so you can’t really taste the Amaretto.

So…..Ta da…. Here is the finished product. It tastes absolutely amazing. Bitter and sweet all at the same time.

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Marmalade Number 2 – Thin Cut

Having made some thick cut marmalade I wanted to have a go at competition standard thin cut. According to lots of recipes I could do the same as the thick cut but just shred it finer. But I thought It would be difficult to get the peel very fine so I found a different method, which I will outline below.

This time I peeled the oranges with a potato peeler, leaving as much pith on the orange as possible.

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Then I shredded the peel finely (it took forever – I did it in front of TV on Saturday night!).

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I then laid a piece of muslin (50cm square, though I would recommend larger) over a bowl and squeezed the oranges into it, dropping the pips and discarded outlets into the muslin.

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I put the shredded peel, squeezed juice and 2.5 litres of water into a bowl and added the pith and peel that I had knotted into the muslin.

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(That’s actually in the pan, but you get the gist).

I then put a plate over the top to push down the muslin (and keep it under the water), and weighed it down with tins and jars. I left this overnight to soak.

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The next day I boiled it for about 90 minutes to soften the peel, and then squeezed the muslin into the pan to get all of the pectin out. Then I added 2kg of white sugar and the lemon juice, heated gently until it was dissolved and then boiled it at a rolling boil.

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And this is where something went wrong. For some reason the marmalade never really set, and what I have ended up with is really delicious tasting marmalade syrup!

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I’m assuming it was something to do with not extracting enough pectin from the pith, but I’m not 100% sure. Some recipes treat the lemon the same as the oranges. Maybe that would boost the pectin levels. Advice would be most gratefully accepted.

I will let you know how I get in in the competitions. Obviously I will be entering the thick cut version!

Oh and see if you can spot the deliberate mistake on the labels!!

Fat Free Chicken Curry

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It’s the New Year, and it’s most definitely time to lose weight. So it’s back in the Slimming World diet (without actually re-joining the club – I have all the books now!).

I did this last year and lost 1 1/2 stones, so I know it works for me, and one of my favourite things to eat was a fat free curry. By my reckoning it’s ‘syn free’ in Slimming World speak, which basically means on the ‘extra easy’ plan you can eat as much as you like. Yes really!!

So I thought I would share my recipe with you. I make a big pot and freeze portions for days when I can’t be bothered to cook, or sometimes I take it into work for lunch.

There are not really precise amounts or particular ingredients that I use, just what’s in the fridge and cupboard, but do try and get a good mix of veg, as that makes it stretch further.

Fry light cooking spray
1 large onion, diced
1 red pepper diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 chicken breasts, skin and any visible fat removed (I use free range), chopped into bite sized chunks
Curry powder (not paste)
1 large carrot, chopped
Green beans, halved
Handful of new potatoes, halved
Handful of mushrooms (I like chestnut mushrooms)
Can of chickpeas, drained
2 tins of chopped tomatoes
1 chicken stock cube
Bunch of coriander, chopped
Bag of fresh spinach

Spray your pan with Fry Light (this is essential -don’t use oil as this is what makes it fat free!) and add the onions. Put a lid on and sweat the onions over a low heat for about 10 minutes. If they start to brown too much add a little water to stop them sticking. You want them to be soft and translucent.

Add the peppers and let them soften, then add the garlic and cook for a couple of minutes.

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Turn up the heat and add the chicken allowing it to brown slightly. Then chuck in the curry powder using the amount recommended on the pack. It doesn’t really matter which curry powder you use. I like Sharwoods, but use whatever you have. Do not use curry paste as this usually has oil added. Mix to coat the contents of the pan then cook for a couple of minutes.

Add the rest of the veg (not the spinach or chickpeas) and stir. If you are using cauliflower or broccoli add it later as it cooks quicker than the other veg and can go mushy if you overcook it.

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Add the canned tomatoes, stock cube and enough water to make a slightly runny sauce (fill one of the cans about half way- that should be enough). Don’t worry if its too runny, you can boil it off later.

Add 2/3rds of the coriander and the can of chickpeas. Stir and put the lid on.

Cook until the chicken and veg are all cooked through. If the sauce is a bit thin take off the lid and cook for a while to allow some of the liquid to boil off.

Add the spinach and remainder of the coriander. Put the lid back on and allow it to wilt, then stir it in.

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It should look like this…

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And I like to serve it with rice and a huge dollop of fat free Greek yoghurt.

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The recipe would work equally well with prawns instead of chicken, just add them at the end of the cooking time.

What do you think? I would love to hear your thoughts and syn free recipes.

Baking Disaster! – rosemary and sea salt caramel millionaires shortbread

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I had family visiting for bonfire night so I decided to make Gizzi Erskine’s Rosemary and Sea Salt Caramel Millionaires Shortbread after seeing someone eulogise about it on Twitter. The recipe is online and can be found here.

I had the recipe on my iPhone and let’s just say, I was guilty of not reading it properly. Several times!

First of all I didn’t let the butter get to room temperature first so ended up putting half mixed butter, sugar and flour in the microwave part way through mixing as it wasn’t combining well. Surprisingly that worked.

I also added all of the butter listed in the recipe to the flour. I thought it was a lot at the time, but ploughed on regardless. I even put it in the tin and the oven but after 5 minutes decided it looked all wrong and pulled it out.

Of course when I re-read the recipe, a portion of the butter is for the caramel – oops! So I added a load more flour to rebalance it (yes to the warm dough!). Didn’t add any more sugar though and I must say I liked it not too sweet.

This is what it looked like after the extra flour was added (pre-cooking).

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Naturally this being a day of disaster I then overcompensated on the cooking time (as it was much thicker than it should have been) and slightly overcooked it. So once it was cut into pieces I chopped off the overcooked bottom on each piece. Which had the double benefit of reducing the thickness of the shortbread and getting rid of the overcooked bits!

Then I managed to ‘catch’ the toffee on the bottom of the pan so it got dark brown bits in it. They weren’t burnt, just a bit overcooked so I carried on, remembering to stir all the time from them on. Doesn’t look too bad does it?

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The green bits are the rosemary. I have to say adding rosemary to caramel is a revelation. It’s gorgeous and reduces the sweetness.

I sieved the caramel before putting it into the shortbread, and to be honest you couldn’t see (or taste) the overcooked bits.

The final part (the chocolate) I managed to do without getting anything wrong, and decided on a firework theme. I was aiming for catherine wheels. What do you think?

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It tasted amazing and nobody guessed that I had almost ruined it at least three times!

Great British Bake Off Teacakes

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I love a Tunnocks Teacake. Probably too much. So when I saw the episode of Great British Bake Off where they were making teacakes I couldn’t wait to have a go myself. And when my favourite baking supply site Baked By Me started stocking the moulds I did a little dance then ordered some straight away.

Now for the uninitiated this ain’t no dried fruit laden bread roll – of toasted teacake fame. This is a gorgeous mix of digestive biscuit, marshmallow and chocolate. If you are from over the pond I think it’s like a s’mores but the chocolate is on the outside.

I got the recipe from the BBC website, see here and after a quick dash round Tesco to get the ingredients, I was ready to rock ‘n’ roll.

I followed the recipe quantities closely, and the first thing I will say is that the measures for the biscuit and marshmallow make twice as much as the recipe is supposed to (6 teacakes), so I advise buying more chocolate! I intended to double the recipe, so bought dark and milk chocolate and doubled the quantities of the entire recipe, but I ended up going out and buying more chocolate and making four times the quantity because there was so much biscuit and marshmallow.

The recipe starts with melting the chocolate, but if I did it again I would make the biscuits first as they need time to cool before you cover them in chocolate.

It says to melt the chocolate over hot water, but I use the microwave. As long as you are careful and do it in short blasts its fine. I also kept some of the chocolate back and chopped it up then added it after I had melted the rest this cools and thickens it more quickly than just leaving it to cool.

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Once the chocolate has thickened you can line the moulds. It takes about a dessert spoon of chocolate for each mould. Take care to cover all of the inside of the moulds. I found leaving them for a few minutes once I had done it them going back and pushing it up the sides helped.

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It says to not put them in the fridge, but sod that, I did, and they were fine.

If you haven’t already made the biscuits do it now. I found I needed quite a bit more milk than the recipe.

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This is double the recipe and I got 24 biscuits out of it. I have a natty little set of biscuit cutters which meant I had the perfect size cutter for the job.

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They’re quite pale when baked.

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At first I just covers both sides in chocolate, but after my first half dozen I realised the edges need covering in chocolate too.

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They can take a while to set, which is why I recommend making them before melting the chocolate.

Making the marshmallow is fun. It’s basically an Italian meringue with golden syrup and vanilla added. I used vanilla bean paste as I didn’t have any vanilla pods, and it tastes amazing! Make sure you have a big enough bowl as it doubles in size. From this…

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To this…

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Make sure it’s really firm.

Pipe the cooled meringue into the set cases.

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In the recipe it says to fill them but I found 3/4 full was best, leaving room for the biscuit.

Then melt some more chocolate, or re-heat any you have that is spare (yes you can do that in the microwave!) and pipe round the top edge of each mould. I made my own greaseproof paper icing bags, but that’s because I’m a show-off and a cheap-skate.

Pop in a biscuit and pipe round again to seal the edges.

Stick the whole lot back in the fridge and wait till its properly set. Then carefully turn out. Look at these beauties!

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Update: I made baby ones!!! Mould from the same place as the big ones. These are bite size and went down a storm at work today.

A bit more fiddly than making the big ones, but for the same amount of ingredients you get loads more.

Make lots of cases (press them out of the mould and keep them in the fridge) until you’ve made the biscuits and filling.

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Crazy Jam Lady

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I always look forward to July as to me it’s the beginning of the jam making season (rock ‘n’ roll!). My friends and family are possibly more excited than I am as I usually turn up proudly clutching jars of my carefully made produce. Or at least they pretend to be excited, maybe they are just polite!

So the wonderful Tulleys Farm near me opened its pick your own fields last weekend, and I was down there as quick as I could to get the first crop of strawberries. I like to think of myself as an efficient strawberry picker, and half an hour later I left clasping my precious cargo.

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I know I’m in danger of coming across as a crazy lady – but here are my top tips for picking strawberries:

1. Walk to the furthest part of the field (people are lazy and will typically avoid walking, so you get the least picked over section if you bother to walk a bit).

2. Work your way up a single row (don’t jump about between rows just because
you spot a beauty!), and use both hands to pull the leaves apart so that you can find the hidden gems.

3. Pick both ripe and slightly under-ripe fruit as there is more pectin in under-ripe fruit.

Once you’ve got your beauties home, get to work quickly or pop them in the fridge as they can quickly spoil.

I like my jam chunky, so I don’t chop or mash my strawberries. I just chop off the stalks and halve any really large ones. Then a quick wash and it’s weigh in time.

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Commercially prepared jams are often much less than 50% fruit, but I like to make mine 60% fruit and 40% sugar. This batch was about 2.6kg fruit, 1.8kg sugar. I never add pectin as I find I don’t need it, though I probably boil my jam for longer than people who add pectin to ensure it sets (particularly strawberry which is low in pectin).

You don’t need a jam pan, any large heavy bottomed pan will do, but I love the size of my pan – it can take about 3kg of fruit and let’s you get a good rolling boil without spilling over. Another handy piece of equipment is a jam funnel. It’s shallower and wider than a regular funnel, and let’s you fill your jars quickly and relatively drip free.

Before you begin pop a couple of saucers in the freezer (trust me on this one), and put your jars, lids and a ladle in the dishwasher (or give them a really hot wash by hand). Also put the oven on a low heat – when your jars come out of the dishwasher put them on a baking tray and put them in the oven to dry and stay sterile.

Then chuck your strawberries in the pan and add the sugar. Some recipes say to warm the sugar but I never bother.

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Turn the heat under the pan on low and give your strawberries and sugar a good stir so they are well mixed.

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Keep the heat fairly low until the sugar is dissolved, then you can whack it up and get it boiling. I like to give it a helping hand and squish the strawberries against the side with my wooden spoon. But that’s probably more for my amusement than anything else. This is what it looks like early on when it’s boiling.

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Some folk like to use a thermometer, and apparently the setting temperature is 105 degrees centigrade. I prefer the old fashioned method of cold plates. Largely because I get to taste the jam as it cooks.

When it starts to look jammy in texture – like this

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take one of your plates from the freezer and put a teaspoonful of jam on it. Pop it in the fridge to cool and then slide your finger in it like this:

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You are wanting it to crinkle away from you and leave a clear space where your finger was. In this photo it’s too soon, so keep on boiling until you get this kind of result:

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It’s not rocket science – it will look like jam not purée!
Then it’s time to skim off the scum (nice!) and get ready to fill your jars. Some people recommend adding a knob of butter to get rid of the scum.

Pull your jars and lids out of the oven and put them. Lose to the jam pan. The closer you get everything, the less mess you’ll make.

Using a ladle, spoon the jam into the jars, preferably using a jam funnel. Fill the jars to the top. The less air the less likely it is to go mouldy. Or so I like to tell myself. Immediately place the lids on, you can tighten them as everything cools.

Clean the jars up with a hot cloth when they are still warm and put nice labels in them. I found these Kilner labels in Cargo which does stock quite a few jam making things, including Kilner jam pans and jars. My personal favourite jars are from Lakeland and not just because I was brought up down the road from their Head Office. They come in 1lb and 1/2lb sizes in boxes of 12.

I experimented this time and added some Marc de Champagne (the stuff champagne truffles are made with) to the last two jars (added it to the pan before filling the last two jars) to make some tipsy jam. Looking forward to trying it out.

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Check out the finished product.

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And the real final product…

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It’s delicious!

Care to share your top jamming tips?