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

Lotus Biscoff Blondies: #100bakeschallenge

These Biscoff Blondies are absolutely lush and I make loads of these.

I wanted to scratch off another two recipes from my #100bakeschallenge this week. I’d already made some pizza dough on Monday for challenge number 5 which incidentally was also World Pizza Day! Saturday 22nd January was also Blond Brownie Day. I had to make some Lotus Biscoff Blondies so great: another challenge could be scratched off my #100bakeschallenge poster. I’m aiming for on average 2 challenges a week, although this might not go to plan if I have a busy week or if we’re away on holiday!

My #100bakeschallenge poster on the back of my office door. Six bakes now scratched off with another ninety four to do by the end of the year!
The Blondie square has now been scratched off. I was making Biscoff Blondies anyway!

My new go-to recipe for Lotus Biscoff Blondies is by Jane’s Patisserie. I’ve tried several recipes but this one always works for me. It provides, thick and chewy blondies studded with chunks of white chocolate and filled with Lotus Biscoff spread. It’s topped with crushed and broken up pieces of the Lotus Biscoff biscuits.

These brownies are huge and decadent but oh so good.

I sometimes find it difficult to get hold of some of the biscuits, to be honest. Recently I’ve only seen the circular sandwich ones in my local Morrisons or Tesco. Then another time I had to buy the “lunchbox friendly” packets which come packaged in pairs. These are so much more expensive. I’ve found some at my local wholesalers now, thankfully. I don’t have any problem sourcing the spread, although I think I have some greedy fairies who come and steal spoonfuls of it out of the pot. It’s the same fairies who like my Percy Pig and my M&Ms stash!

For the recipe, click on this link here:

https://www.janespatisserie.com/2020/01/04/biscoff-blondies/

This is another version of the Biscoff Blondies which I’ve made in the past. If I can’t get hold of the traditional Biscoff biscuits, then I’ve added twelve sandwich ones to the top of the blondies (one for each portion) I don’t think they look as nice, though.
I’ve also added extra melted and drizzled white chocolate to the top of my Biscoff Blondies in the past.

As with Brownies, I like adding in different flavours to Blondies. Last Easter I made a few Mini Egg blondies, which were very popular.

I love Mini Eggs! Now they’re in the shops again, I’m trying my hardest to not buy any until I need to bake for customers.

Have you enjoyed baking Blondies? If so, what flavours do you like to include in yours?

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

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

Amazing Cakes #6: Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Brownies

There are a couple of Brownie recipes in The Great British Bake Off Amazing Cakes which I’ve been really keen to try out. I have my own favourite regular Brownie recipe but I must admit I’ve never made a gluten free brownie before. The Amazing Cakes book has a whole chapter dedicated to Free From Cakes and one of the Gluten Free recipes is for some Chocolate Berry Brownies. I like fruit inside cakes but I didn’t want to use up my raspberries I usually have on my cereal at breakfast time. Instead, as I wanted a chocolatey hit, I put in the equivalent amount of milk chocolate chips.

The brownies are made gluten free by using ground almonds in place of the flour and baking powder. The original recipe also shows the Brownies topped with some flaked almonds. I didn’t have any left as they’d all gone in the Florentines I’d made!

The chocolate chips were part of a lovely, belated birthday present from my friend Amy. I have tried the Guittard plain chocolate chips before but never the milk ones. I used about two thirds of the packet. Hopefully there will be some left to make choc chip cookies with another time.

To make the brownies I had to melt dark chocolate and butter first. When this was melted, I added in some light brown muscovado sugar as well as some vanilla extract.

After that, I stirred in beaten eggs, followed by cocoa powder and ground almonds. Finally the chocolate chips were folded in.

I baked the brownies at 180oC in a 22cm square loose bottomed pan for 30 minutes or so.

The brownies came out with a slightly different look to them on the top but they honestly tasted fudgy and squidgy inside, just how I enjoy eating a brownie. I needed to wait until the brownies had cooled down before I could cut them up into squares. The chocolate chips gave it an extra edge of deliciousness and I was really impressed with them. No one could tell they were gluten free.

I definitely will be baking these brownies again and again as they were so simple to bake without having to buy special gluten free flour and baking powder in. I saved two brownies for Mr S and my daughter while the rest went off to work to share around with my workmates.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Amazing Cakes #2: White Chocolate Blondies


Hot on the heels of baking my successful Lemon Drizzle Traybake,  I wanted to try something slightly different to take along for my work mates to enjoy as an alternative to the lemon drizzle.  I’ve lost my baking confidence recently and have found recipes I’ve baked time and time again going wrong.  I have always managed to bake brownies, though and I thought that I would be fine with the second recipe I wanted to try from The Big Book Of Amazing Cakes.
I wanted to have a go at the White Chocolate and Hazelnut Blondies as I love blondies.  So moreish! But I didn’t have any hazelnuts so had to think of some substitutions.  I had also seen a recipe with Jammie Dodgers put in the blondies so I thought I’d add those in instead.

The Big Book Of Amazing Cakes is the latest book spin off from the last Great British Bake Off series. It came out in October 2019.

To make the Blondies,  I weighed out plain flour, some ground almonds (as I didn’t have any ground hazelnuts), some sea salt flakes and baking powder. I mixed them together in a large mixing bowl.  In another bowl I melted some butter in the microwave. To this, I added a mixture of caster sugar and dark brown muscovado sugar. 

When this was mixed in, I added beaten eggs, along with some vanilla extract and then folded this all into the flour mix.

At this stage I was also meant to add in some chopped hazelnuts which I didn’t have.  I just put in the white chocolate chips which the recipe suggested.  At this stage I didn’t read the recipe properly and noticed it asked for 2 tbsp of agave syrup or runny honey.  This was meant to be brushed onto the still warm but cooked blondies.  Instead I put two tablespoonfuls of honey in the mixture before cooking.


Finally, I used mini Jammy Dodgers to poke into the top of my blondies.  Each of these mini packs contains four mini Dodgers and I
used four of the packs to use sixteen biscuits in the blondies.  I was expecting them to sit nicely on top of them.  I couldn’t wait to taste the blondies.

But my excitement was shortlived.  I didn’t have the 22cm square tin as needed.  Mine is an 20cm square one and not loose bottomed.  The blondies were meant to be baked at 180oC for 25-30 minutes.  I had them in for the recommended time but the blondies were still looking raw and wet in the middle.  I also didn’t like how the edges had puffed up around, leaving the middle flat as a pancake.  


I put the blondies back in the oven for another ten minutes but they seemed to be even more runny and slimy than before.  I admitted defeat and took them out of the oven.  The recipe said to leave the blondies in the tin for 10 minutes to cool down.  This I did but they began to collapse. I was so frustrated as this doesn’t normally happen to me with brownies or blondies.  The temporary baking confidence I got from making the lemon drizzle traybake had taken a nose dive again!

Baking disaster: you can make out the slimy and uncooked batter despite my oven being at the correct temperature and the brownies being in the oven for ten minutes longer than the recipe stipulated.
This was the best piece out of the whole batch: one of the corners! The rest looked like road kill!


I would love to know where I went wrong with this recipe. Was it because I didn’t use hazelnuts or that I added the honey to the mixture before baking? I must admit I did not like the taste of the blondies and I was disappointed with how they came out.  I asked Mr S what he thought of them and he said he thought the ones around the edge looked ok but he tasted one. He said it tasted very sweet and jammy!

I will test this recipe again at some stage but I’ll try with hazelnuts and leave the Jammy Dodgers out instead!

Happy Baking!
Love Sam xx

Amazing Cakes #1: Lemon Drizzle Traybake


Recipe Challenge #1: Lemon Drizzle Traybake
Lemon Drizzle Traybake is a classic recipe and one I’ve made lots over the years.  Recently I have made Mary Berry’s version and this always goes down well.  I was keen to see how this version from The Big Book Of Amazing Cakes measured up to Mary’s version.  At first glance of the recipe I actually wondered if it was Mary’s recipe seeing as she used to judge on GBBO.  But any other recipes apart from the ones submitted by the baking contestants, Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith are created by Juliet Sear, Becca Watson and Mitzie Wilson.

To try and get my baking mojo and confidence back I thought it would be good to start with something simple that I couldn’t muck up.  Going back to basics and going through everything carefully would help me get it right. 



I first got all the ingredients out to hand.  I didn’t have whole milk, only semi skimmed so I had to use that instead.
All the ingredients were weighed out and put in my big mixing bowl ready to mix together using the all in one method. I also chose to use Stork instead of butter as the butter I had was in the fridge and not soft enough.

I was pleased this lemon drizzle recipe uses three large lemons. I grated the zest of three lemons into the sponge itself, reserving the juice for later.

I don’t tend to line my cake tins unless I am making a fruit cake. I do grease them though.  I want to know, does it make a difference to the taste and texture of the cake? It doesn’t stop it sticking to the pan for me.  The pan I use is a Mary Berry traybake one which I bought from Lakeland a couple of months back. I love it as it has the indentations on the side which can help you mark out the portion sizes.  This recipe is meant to be cut into 24 squares but I only did 16 squares!

Although the recipe stated to bake the cake at 150oC (in a fan oven) for 35-40 minutes, I felt that my cake was cooked after 25 minutes and was beginning to pull away from the sides of the tin. Our oven was definitely on at 150 degrees so whether it was down to the Stork or the tin itself. It was the smell of it cooking made me think was it burning and should I check it? Good job I did!

While the traybake was cooling, I made the drizzle which is a simple lemon juice and sugar syrup to pour over the cake.  I had to fish out several lemon pips though! I poked the traybake with holes from a cocktail stick so as the syrup was poured onto it, some would pour through the holes. To finish, I also sprinkled on some granulated sugar.


I felt happy with my latest attempt at a lemon drizzle traybake. A great start to the challenge and made me feel more confident.  I put 12 of the 16 slices into a box to take into work to leave for my work mates to enjoy.  My daughter ate one of the slices for pudding and said it was delicious. I would love to indulge but at the moment even looking at a cake makes me put on a stone!

Happy Baking!
Love Sam xx

Malteser Mint Button Crispie Slices

We’re now on week eight, I think since the “lockdown” started.  I have still been able to bake but where there have been shortages I have managed to adapt or turn things around using what I have.  I have been baking regularly for friends in my small village as well as neighbours. On a few occasions Mr S and I have set up a stall outside my gateway so that they can come and get a few treats while socially distancing.  People have been kind and have only taken the right amount for their own household.  I was worried that there might be a few passers by helping themselves to the lot but so far I haven’t had that pleasure.  I think I won’t be able to do this again as there are more people out on the road and will take advantage of my good nature.

I’ve found that crispie slices have really come into their own during the pandemic as flour can still be a struggle to get.  My local supermarket is back selling plain flour but I had to order some self raising on Amazon a couple of weeks ago.  It was a German brand and it came with baking powder to add to sponge cakes, etc.  It was very expensive and I can’t believe I bought it but I am using it sparingly.  Crispie slices not having flour or eggs are great as I am always running out of eggs!

Anyone who knows me well will know I love anything mint flavoured. When I was doing my weekly shop I spotted some Malteser Mint Buttons.  Maltesers are another of my favourites and I can hoover them up like that Hungry Hippo game. I just had to get a bag of these and put them into some baking.  To go with it I found some mint flavoured dark chocolate bars and the idea for the Mint Malteser Buttons Crispies came about.  I originally was going to put them on the top of chocolate layer on the slice but I needed something to lace through the actual crispies as well/MINT MALTESER BUTTON CRISPIE SLICES

Makes 16 squares* or smaller if preferred.

Ingredients:
75g butter
150g sugar (I used granulated as I cant find caster sugar at the moment)
1 tbsp golden syrup
400g can condensed milk
75g Rice Krispies or Coco Pops
50g porridge oats
100g bar dark chocolate with mint (not fondant centred, has to have flavour or bits in it)
One pouch sized bag of Mint Malteser Buttons

For the topping:
200g dark mint chocolate (as before)

Please note: this is very rich and I assure you it is hugely calorific.  You can always cut the slices into smaller pieces.  Or if you don’t like mint, you could make a plain chocolate version.

You will also need a square cake tin with a loose bottom.  I used an 8″ (20cm) square one.  I line the base and sides of the tin with cling film before putting the mixture in so that it doesn’t stick to the sides. This makes it easier to get out of the tin after it is set.

How to make the crispie slices:

  • Weigh out your butter, sugar, golden syrup and condensed milk into a thick based pan.  Heat this gently until the sugar has dissolved and the butter has melted. 
  • Meanwhile, melt the 100g mint chocolate in your preferred way.  Break it up into chunks and either melt it in a glass bowl over a pan of simmering water or do it in the microwave.  I prefer to do this in the microwave.  I put the chocolate on high for one minute, take it out, give it a stir and return it to the microwave for a further 10 seconds. Repeat again.  Usually after 1 minute, 20 seconds is fine and it naturally melts the rest of the chocolate from the heat of the bowl. Add the chocolate to the condensed milk mixture.
  • Weigh out your cereal.  I used a mixture of Rice Krispies and porridge oats but you can use any cereal you want so long as it adds up to 125g.  Cheerios would work. Put all the cereal into a large mixing bowl and then pour in the chocolate mixture.  Mix it so it is well coated.
  • Mix in the Malteser Mint Buttons ensuring they are evenly spread.
  • Put the mixture into your prepared tin. Use the back of a spoon or a potato masher to level it out.
  • Melt the remaining 200g of mint chocolate in the same way as before.  Pour this melted chocolate on top of the crispie layer.
  • Put in the fridge to set. 
  • When set, cut the crispie into the number of slices you want.


  • If you have a go at these slices, please let me know how you get on with them. 

    Here they are all bagged up in packets of two for my neighbours to help themselves to.  I also tried to include them in #TwitterBakeAlong which I keep forgetting to join in with.  But silly me, I missed the deadline this week completely forgetting it was Bank Holiday Monday and I usually do my baking for a Sunday morning. Never mind!

    Happy Baking
    Love Sam xx

    Chocolate Paradise Slice

    This has got to be one of the best bakes….EVER! I can’t get enough of these. I remember my mum baking some when I was about 6 or 7 when I had a birthday tea party. The recipe came from an old Ladybird cookbook. I still have it somewhere. There’s nothing quite like the combination of melted plain chocolate, dessicated coconut and glace cherries! So retro. I since found out that there is another version of Paradise Slice where the coconut and cherries or other dried fruit are baked on a shortcrust pastry base, not a chocolate one. To me chocolate is paradise but I will try out the pastry version another time.

    Yesterday was a quiet chilled out Sunday at home. Mr S had gone shopping with his sister who was visiting at the weekend and I was at home with the dogs. We had troughed our way through the cheesecake I had made at my class and I had cherries, chocolate and dessicated coconut. What’s not to like?

    First, I lined my traybake tin with some foil and poured melted dark chocolate into the base. This went into the fridge to set for about half an hour.

    Meanwhile, I washed and halved a tub of glace cherries. I do hate all the sticky syrup they come in but needs must. Ive found that even after you chop them, there’s more syrup inside and you end up having to rewash them! The cherries were put on to the top of the set chocolate and then ready for the mixture to top it.

    The topping for the paradise slice is made by whisking eggs and caster sugar together until light and fluffy. When this is ready, you then fold in the dessicated coconut and put it on top of the cherries and chocolate. The whole concoction is baked in the oven until turning lightly golden for about 20-25 minutes.

    I left the Paradise Slice to cool down on the work top for half an hour or so but the tin was still very hot. I gave it another 10 minutes by which time it was ready for me to cut it up. You can’t leave it until the chocolate goes hard or it’s impossible to cut up. Once it was cut up, I then turned each piece out upside down (so the chocolate was on top) and put them onto plates in the fridge so that the chocolate would harden. Half an hour later and hey presto, they were ready!

    Did I forget that I was doing Weightwatchers and eat one? Yes, I blinking well did! I enjoyed every mouthful of it until I decided to work out the SmartPoints for it! It was a whopping 23 Smartpoints and I was so shocked! My sister in law took one home with her this morning. I was so tempted to have one only an hour ago with a cuppa but had an apple instead.

    Happy Baking!

    Love Sam xx