National Peanut Butter Day: No bake peanut butter and chocolate squares

No Bake Peanut Butter Squares are just like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

Today is National Peanut Butter Day! As I was getting all the ingredients out to make something peanut butter related to share with you, Mr S said I was making it up! I told him to go and look on the MyLegoman Mostly Foodie Days Of… Calendar and it was there for January 24th. So I was right!

I must admit I love peanut butter, but don’t like the cheap versions full of sugar you can get. I prefer the sugar free varieties and even better if it’s crunchy! I know it can be a love or hate thing and I know that the texture of it can put people off.

When thinking what I could make to celebrate Peanut Butter Day, I thought of the cakes and cookies I have made before. One of my favourites has to be the Nigella Lawson’s Peanut Butter Square recipe which is in her How To Be A Domestic Goddess recipe book. The Domestic Goddess book was the book which got me into baking big time back in 2004 when my youngest child started school.

Nigella says “I don’t know if you have ever eaten Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups but these are a homespun version of them,” They definitely capture the same flavours but as a double layered square, rather than a cup. I personally find Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups far too sweet and sickly but I love the flavour combination of peanuts and chocolate.

I can’t find the recipe link online but I have found a very similar version on Nigella’s website:

https://www.nigella.com/recipes/chocolate-peanut-butter-cups

What’s more, it doesn’t require any baking! You just line a 23cm/9″ square tin with baking parchment and press the peanut butter base into the bottom of the tin. This consists of brown sugar, icing sugar, butter and the peanut butter. Finally, you top with melted chocolate mixed with a little bit more butter. After letting it set, you cut into small squares!. What made me laugh was Nigella says it makes 48 squares! I cut it into 16 and they were quite small. So 48 squares would have been miniscule!

Before I had even cut the Peanut Butter Squares up, my kids were asking to try some. My daughter took some with her in a plastic box as she was going over to her mates’ house for the night. I sneaked a small piece and it was oh so sweet but tasted heavenly as well. I’m hiding the rest of them or I might find myself sleepwalking down to the kitchen and eating them in the middle of the night!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Apricot And Cranberry Granola Bars

I love Granola Bars even though they aren’t as healthy as they seem. All in moderation is my motto!

Friday 21st January was National Granola Bar Day according to MyLegoMan #MostlyFoodieDaysOf calendar. I love Granola Bars, even though they can be deceptively calorific. I try my hardest not to make or eat them too much, but occasionally the temptation is too much.

On Thursday afternoon I was asked to make some Granola Bars so I found a recipe I use in an old Good Food recipe book: Traybakes. It’s a handy book which I’ve had for a few years on my shelf. I must admit I think I’ve only made one or two recipes out of it, including the Granola Bars.

I adapt the recipe to personal preferences or whatever I have in the cupboard. Sometimes I include nuts and other times I don’t, depending on the recipient. In this version I used some dried apricots and some cranberries which needed using up. I left out the nuts and sesame seeds from the original recipe. The addition of cinnamon to the recipe gives it a little bit of extra flavour.

The original recipe can be found here: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/cinnamon-berry-granola-bars

I used extra dried fruit in place of the nuts and the sesame seeds. I guess you can play around with the ingredients and use whatever you have in your cupboard but keep to the same quantities.

As with many granola and flapjack type recipes, quite often you are fooled into thinking they are healthy because of the oat content. But you find they contain brown sugar, butter, or honey, golden syrup or maple syrup. All in moderation is my motto. I find if I deny myself any treats, then I see other people eating them and want them all the more!

When making granola bars, I often find the method is similar to that of making flapjacks. You melt the butter, sugar and syrup/ honey together in a pan and then combine with the other ingredients. When combined you press into a greased and lined tin and bake.

Pressed into the greased and lined tin, the granola bars are ready to be popped in the oven!

As with flapjacks I bake on a lower heat and bring it out of the oven before it sets. Or else, your granola bars will be like bricks and you end up worrying about breaking your teeth on them!

As with flapjacks, I let the granola bars cool in the tin for a little bit. After about 10 minutes, I cut them up and then let them cool completely before removing them from the tin. If not, I find they’ll fall apart. Or if I leave it until they’re cool before cutting, then I find they’re difficult to cut.
Looks like there’s a lot of pumpkin seeds in these Granola bars!
Ideal for breakfast, a lunchbox or for a treat with a mid morning or afternoon cuppa.

Do you like Granola or Granola Bars? If you do, what dried fruit and nuts do you like in yours? I definitely love cranberries but I would love pecans if I was making them just for myself.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Homemade pizzas- WORLD Pizza Day

Homemade Pizzas for World Pizza Day (January 17th)

January 17th is World Pizza Day as I found out when looking at my #mostlyfoodiedaysof calendar from mylegoman.com. As if I need an excuse to eat Pizza? To be honest, I didn’t often eat pizza at home until a few months ago when I started a new job. On my way home from work I sometimes call in a local village shop (Tollerton Village Shop, just north of York) which sells the most amazing homemade pizzas. If Mr S is ever away overnight, or I fancy a night away from the cooking, I stop by and get some pizza. They are exactly how I love my pizza: thin and crispy dough with the perfect balance of ingredients. There are different toppings on the pizzas but I do love their ham and mushroom one.

I don’t often make my own pizzas, mainly because it’s time consuming making the dough and I don’t really like the ready made bases. But if I have a little more time, it’s great to make up some pizza dough. At the moment I really struggle with kneading as my hands get so hot (the menopause has a lot to answer for!) But it really is a fun activity if you have young kids who want to decorate their own pizzas. I cheat and buy the sauce ready made. My favourite is the Mutti one which you can get in Waitrose and other major supermarkets, as well as from Amazon. I prep the toppings first in little bowls and then everyone takes it in turns to come and decorate their pizzas before I stick them in the oven. I really wish I had an outdoor pizza oven but my indoor fan one will have to do.

We love homemade pizza in our house but we don’t make it that often. It ended up being something we did during lockdown as we had more time at home!

For my pizza dough recipe I have been using Annabel Karmel’s one for years and years. It always works for me. I double the quantity to make four large adult size pizzas to suit my family.

This is the recipe I use for my pizza dough.

I am not the most neatest at rolling out and shaping the pizza into the perfect circles. My pizzas tend to be the weirdest and most obsure shapes. I’d rather they tasted good than looked immaculate.

My son had to help me roll out the dough. It was just so fiddly.

I was out for most of the afternoon so I didn’t get chance to make up the pizza dough until I got in at 4pm. This was such a rush and at first I panicked as I couldn’t find any yeast in my cupboard. I was sure I had some but my daughter had used yeast at Christmas when baking bread. Luckily it was lurking behind a packet of cornflour. I was relieved as I had promised my family pizza and Domino’s doesn’t deliver out our way!

The dough was made up, kneaded for about 10 minutes, put in an oiled bowl and covered in cling film. I put it on the worktop in my laundry room as that gets quite warm in there. Then it was time to catch up on everything else before preparing the toppings.

I’m a bit lazy when it comes to cheese for pizza. I don’t mind grating cheese but it was handy to have grated mozzarella to chuck on the pizzas. My kids were convinced one packet wouldn’t be enough for four pizzas but it was. I also used some ham which I chopped up, half a punnet of mushrooms (much to my daughter’s disgust who thinks mushrooms are evil!), some ready chopped Chorizo pieces, some chopped red peppers and some green olives. These olives were bought at Christmas and were stuffed with chilli. I absolutely love them and olives always go down well on pizza for me.

At 6pm, I got the dough out of the bowl. It had doubled in size but was very difficult to roll out on my worktop at first. I oiled the worktop a little and it did the trick. I still struggle to get the perfect circle so we went for oblong pizzas instead.

I got my family to come and make their pizzas two at a time as it gets pretty crowded when all of us are in there trying to get at the work tops. My 21 year old son and Mr S went first and then theirs were put into the oven to bake while my daughter and I made ours. My daughter was upstairs dyeing her hair so I had to remind her it was teatime! She chose to put chorizo on hers whereas I had a bit of everything else, including the olives.

Mr S was reluctant to come in and make his pizza. He told me to put whatever on it. I guess he just wanted to sit in the lounge and watch the news!

I took photos of all of our pizzas, except for my daughter’s one as she said “she didn’t want her dinner on Facebook!” as she put it!

My pizza had everything on it except the chopped chorizo.
Mr S’ impressive pizza with a bit of everything on it including some crushed garlic which he added on himself!
My son chose to make a Margarita pizza but he added extra garlic oil to the top of his.

There was also another reason for making homemade pizzas: I could scratch off Pizza Dough as one of the challenges on my #100bakeschallenge poster! I’m hoping to make two of the challenges a week depending on commitments.

The pizza dough square has now been scratched off my #100bakeschallenge poster.

We loved our pizzas although we couldn’t eat them all as we were so full.

Do you enjoy making and/ or eating pizza? If so, did you celebrate World Pizza Day?

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Marzipan, cherry and almond Cake: National Marzipan Day

Celebrating National Marzipan Day with this Cherry, Marzipan and Almond Cake.

Today is National Marzipan Day! To be honest, although I love marzipan, I only bake with it at Christmas, Easter and for traditional fruit cakes. I never bother with it at other times of the year. I see it as something you use for special occasions. Even if it isn’t used as a layer for a fruit cake or Christmas cake or as one of the 13 balls on top of a Simnel Cake, I always see it as a special treat.

After baking with marzipan at Christmas I always have a bit left over and this year was no exception. I found three quarters of a packet wrapped up in my baking cupboard and thought about what I could bake with it. It had to be something quick and easy to make as I don’t have a lot of spare time during the week.

After looking on good old Google and through my recipe books, I came across a recipe I’m pretty sure I’ve baked before. It’s in one of the Great British Bake Off Recipe books, the one which accompanied the second series, aired in 2011. Called How To Bake, it had a whole cake recipe using fresh cranberries, marzipan and almonds. I think I did bake it using dried cranberries as I know fresh ones can be very hard to get hold of.

I chose to bake today’s version to celebrate National Marzipan Day with glace cherries instead of the cranberries. I think cherries work well with marzipan and almonds (think of Bakewell tarts!).

I can’t share the recipe with you, unfortunately as it is not my own recipe and I don’t want to infringe any copyright. But I can show you how I baked the cake.

It is a single layer cake which I baked in one of my loose bottomed sandwich tins. I used a 20cm (8″diameter) one. First, I had to grease and line the base of it with a baking parchment circle. I pre-heated my oven to 160oC (I have a fan oven) and then weighed out all the ingredients.

The glace cherries were washed, halved and dried before I mixed the cake up. I creamed butter and caster sugar together, then added the eggs to the mixture. After this, I used a large metal spoon to fold in small chunks of marzipan. I then folded in some ground almonds, flour and baking powder followed by the halved cherries. I only had 100g cherries left from my baking stash so I had to make do with that.

The mixture seemed a little firmer than other cake batters but it did look pretty with its chunks of yellow coming through from the marzipan and the bright red from the cherries. It took some spreading into the cake tin. The final touch was a sprinkling of flaked almonds to add to the topping before popping into the oven.

The cake baked for about 45 minutes in my fan oven. I did check it with a skewer after 35 minutes but one part of the cake was still not cooked whereas the rest looked done. It went back in the oven for a further 5 minutes, followed by another 5 minutes.

Pray, tell me why does having something in the oven always coincide with everything else happening at once? My Sainsbury’s online delivery arrived but that was about 15 minutes into the bake. So I was trying to put shopping away. Then I was trying to watch the dog who had decided he wanted to go outside in the garden. I heard the timer go off when I was outside in the garden with the dog. The cake went back in for its last 5 minutes just as Mr S came home from work and wanted a cup of tea- he had to wait!

After our dinner, I took the cake out of the tin and cut a piece. Although it’s been cut into, I’ve not actually eaten any of the cake. It was too late to eat any as I get indigestion when I eat anything sweet in the evening. I’ll have a taste of it tomorrow and give you the verdict.

What is your favourite recipe with marzipan in it? Or do you even like marzipan? Let me know!

Love Sam xx

MINT TOFFEE CHOC CRISPIE SQUARES #nationalenglishtoffeeday

My Mint Toffee Choc Crispies are so easy to make.

According to My Legoman’s Mostly Foodie Days Of 2022 calendar, yesterday (January 8th) was National English Toffee Day. It’s a day late as yesterday I was holed up in bed full of the shivers, fever, aches and pains after having my Covid Booster on Friday afternoon. Thankfully I feel a lot better now, although my FitBit decided to send me an alarm telling me my heart rate was too high for someone resting. At the time I felt a bit feverish but it did put the frighteners on me.

I love toffees and whenever we get a pack of mixed mints for long car journeys on holiday in the UK, I always grab the mint toffees first! I couldn’t think what to bake with toffee, apart from a recipe I have for Mint Toffee Choc Crispie Squares. And what’s more, it’s a no-bake recipe and so quick to make!

Mint! Do you love or hate it? I think opinions can be divided very much like Marmite!

If you don’t like mint, you could always substitute for plain toffees and use plain chocolate instead of mint chocolate. I know lots of people love mint (it’s my favourite flavour) but I know it’s not to everyone’s taste. My late Dad loved mint chocolates and I’m sure he would have loved one of these to try. The only thing is with the mint chocolate is you have to look out for the bars which contain little mint pieces and not fondant centres. Alternatively, you could always use dark chocolate and up the mint flavouring with some peppermint extract if you have that.

MINT TOFFEE CHOC CRISPIE SQUARES
Serves 16

Line a 23cm/9″ tin with baking parchment.

INGREDIENTS:

First, put the butter and the toffees into a pan on a gentle heat until melted.

Meanwhile, melt your chocolate. I melt my chocolate in the microwave as I find this much easier for me.

When the chocolate is melted, combine with the rice crispies until all the crispies have been covered with chocolate.

Spoon into the prepared tin and flatten with the back of a spoon or a potato masher.

If you would like a topping for your crispie squares, then melt the other 200g of mint chocolate. Spread this carefully onto the top of your crispie mixture,

Put it into the fridge to set. After about half an hour, cut the crispies up into pieces. I have chosen to make 16 squares but you can have them bigger if you want.

Leave to set completely, then remove from the tin.

Let me know if you do have a try at this recipe or if you have adapted it in any way. I love orange chocolate as well, maybe I might test out a chocolate orange one in the future.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Cranberry and White Chocolate Shortbread #100bakeschallenge/ National Shortbread day

My latest try out flavour for shortbread- Cranberry and White Chocolate!

January 6th 2022

Did you know that January 6th is #NationalShortbreadDay? I didn’t until I got a My Legoman Mostly Foodie Days of Calendar for my kitchen wall. Or rather, its framed but still on the floor in my office until I can move pictures around in my kitchen and have the space to put it up!

My Mostly Foodie Days of Calendar which is still propped up against the bookshelf in my office. Excuse the Instagram link all over the photo.

I also noticed that Shortbread was one of the bakes on the #100bakeschallenge so this was bake number two scratched off the poster. If you’re wondering what I am on about, I got a Christmas present from my friend which is a fabulous poster made by Crumbs by Collette linked to a baking challenge. You post your results on social media using the hashtag #100bakeschallenge. I have seen that some people are giving themselves a year to do it in. I think that is achievable but quite a lot of my bakes are repetitive depending on my customer’s needs, my own time and my family’s personal preferences.

My #100bakeschallenge poster. It’s pinned up on the door of my office as there’s nowhere else to put it.

Shortbread has always been one of my favourite bakes to make as well as to eat! I love how you can turn four basic ingredients into something just utterly sublime. Then if you don’t like it plain, you can add extras to make it even more delicious. I bake lots of shortbread to send to customers and also for friends. It’s a shame that this day falls in January in a way, as shortbread does get made a lot in my kitchen for Christmas. It’s ideal for presents and for bringing out when you have visitors if they don’t like mince pies.

I also had a couple of batches of chocolate chip shortbread to bake earlier in the week. For that, I use the same basic shortbread recipe then substitute 75g of plain chocolate chips and 75g of dark chocolate chips. I always use Callebaut chocolate chips.

I absolutely love the cranberry and white chocolate combination and you name it, I have used it in other bakes where I can. It’s my brother’s favourite cookie flavour and he gets a vegan version every time I see him. I had to test it out in shortbread and oh my it looked lovely. I made extra to take to work as well.

The shortbread picture was scratched off my #100bakeschallenge poster. Two challenges completed, ninety eight to go!

CRANBERRY AND WHITE CHOCOLATE SHORTBREAD

Serves 12-16 depending on how big you like your pieces.

INGREDIENTS

  • 250g unsalted butter (at room temperature)
  • 125g caster sugar (plus extra for sprinkling)
  • 250g plain flour
  • 125g cornflour
  • 50g white chocolate chips (I use Callebaut)
  • 100g dried cranberries

Grease and line a 23cm/ 9″ square baking tin while you make the shortbread dough.

I make my shortbread dough in my KitchenAid as it stops me from handling the dough so much.

Cream the butter and sugar together in the mixer until it becomes light and fluffy.

Add the plain flour and cornflour to the mixture and bring it all together to form a ball of dough. Then fold through the white chocolate chips and cranberries.

Press the shortbread dough into the prepared tin ensuring that it is evenly spread and into all four corners of the tin. Prick the dough with a fork.

Bake in the oven for around 40 minutes. The shortbread should be lightly golden. After about 10 minutes, cut the shortbread up into however many pieces you would like and let it cool down on a wire rack. When completely cool, remove from the tin and sprinkle with extra caster sugar. Although I forgot to do this on this occasion as I was trying to do about ten things at once, this is what I usually do!

If you bake this recipe, do let me know how you get on with it. Do you use other ingredients in your shortbread or add extra flavours?

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx