White Chocolate Pretzel Blondies

The other day I was in Leeds with my two children. Whenever we go into Trinity shopping centre I like to go into Gobstoppers, the American sweet shop as I look for things I can add to my baking. Usually I buy M&M flavours that aren’t widely available in the UK, such as the mint ones. Or I might try out something else that would look good on the top of a cupcake. This time, though I couldn’t find any different M&M flavours to ones I had already seen but I came out of the shop with a packet of Flipz. I’ve seen chocolate covered pretzels before but I found some white chocolate “birthday cake” one. I’ve found out that if sweets or cakes are labelled “birthday cake” it means they usually have sprinkles over them.

Last Sunday I wanted to bake something and to try the Flipz in a recipe. I have baked brownies with plain pretzels in before and that has worked. But this time I wanted to see what happened if I put the white Flipz in a blondie recipe. I love blondies, especially ones with peanut butter and big chunks of white chocolate in. I didn’t have any peanut butter so I had to look through my recipe books to find a blondie recipe without peanut butter in. As I had my copy of Annie Bell’s Baking Bible still out on the kitchen work top from baking muffins the other day, I looked through the book to see if there was a blondie recipe in the book. There was. Annie Bell’s version does not use peanut butter but the blondies’ sugar content comes from using a mixture of set honey and golden syrup. To the mixture I swirled in some whole and some broken Flipz as well as the remaining half a packet of white chocolate chips I had left over from some cookies in my baking stash.

The blondies were very sticky, no doubt due to the honey and syrup content but they tasted absolutely wonderful. We had one with a cup of tea on Sunday afternoon and then I put them in the rest of the freezer to keep me away from temptation.

Happy baking

Love Sam xx

Sticky Toffee Loaf Cake With Fudge Icing- from Delia’s Cakes

Gosh, is it really nearly three weeks since my last post?  Well over half term I was away on holiday up on the Isle of Mull, a beautiful part of the world and since I’ve been back I haven’t managed to get anywhere near my laptop.  So better late than never I suppose!

Last month I spent a very busy afternoon baking four different cakes to take down to the Village Hall at my local Open Gardens event.  Usually I have a stall at the Open Gardens where I sell all my handmade cookies, cupcakes and other treats but this year I had been far too busy as well as it being the day before I was due to go into hospital.  I also ended up being the judge at our village baking competition so a stall would have been a bit tricky to fit in.  Anyway, I found four different cakes I fancied trying out on visitors to our village and hoped that they would be fine.

First of all I chose to bake Delia Smith’s Sticky Toffee Fudge Loaf Cake which comes with a fudge icing.  Another recipe also to tick off my Cooking The Books Challenge for May.  I love Sticky Toffee Pudding and have made different variations of it in cake form.  But this version as a loaf cake looked absolutely delicious.  I didn’t have any dates in my baking cupboard, though so I ended up adding an equal amount of raisins to the mix instead.

Here’s how it was made:

No dates in this sticky toffee loaf cake but there were plenty of chopped pecan nuts!
No dates in this sticky toffee loaf cake but there were plenty of chopped pecan nuts! I chopped these first before getting on with the rest of the cake.
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Butter, black treacle and golden syrup went into a saucepan to be melted together on the hob.
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The treacle mixture melted down to look like this.

Once the mixture in the pan had been taken off the heat and cooled slightly I added two beaten eggs.  After this I weighed out the dry ingredients needed for the cake: plain flour, mixed spice, ground ginger and bicarbonate of soda.  These were sifted together then folded into the melted mixture.  Delia recommends Silverwood bakeware in her latest book.  I love Silverware cake tins and love my traybake tins but my loaf tin is equally fantastic, a Lakeland one.  As you might have gathered I swear by Lakeland’s loaf tin liners and can’t do without them whatever loaf cake I bake.  They worked perfectly with this one too!

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The spicy aroma filling my kitchen once the Sticky Toffee Loaf cake came out of the oven was just heavenly. It rose perfectly in the oven. Here it is just cooling down.
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As the cake cooled down on the work top I got on with making the fudge icing.

I used my brand new pan which my auntie bought me from John Lewis on my birthday.  My mum had bought me some new pans but my auntie treated me to the small one in the set.  So the pan was “christened” by having the fudge icing made in it.  It was a very rich icing: evaporated milk, butter and brown sugar which was melted and then simmered until it thickened up.

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The fudge icing as it melted.

My icing turned out a little bit runnier than the one shown on the picture in the book.  But it still looked presentable to take down to the Village Hall.  I hoped it would go down well as it was a very warm day and I usually associate sticky toffee pudding as a Winter comfort food!

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The finished cake! Ta-dah!
My mum tried a piece down at the Village Hall when we went there for tea and cake.  I didn't eat any as I'd already sampled lots of cake when I was judging the competitions earlier.
My mum tried a piece down at the Village Hall when we went there for tea and cake. I didn’t eat any as I’d already sampled lots of cake when I was judging the competitions earlier.

My mum enjoyed her piece of cake and I was glad by the time I saw the cake about half of it had gone.  That was a relief.  I would definitely bake it again.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Fruity No Bake Granola Flapjack Bars

Last week I felt really tired, exhausted and hormonal.  I just wanted to curl up in a ball and sleep for a week yet at night I really struggled with my sleep. It took  me ages to drop off, then I was waking up at 3am  and 5 am.  I couldn’t understand why.  When I feel like this I just want carbs and comfort food and to bake stuff like flapjacks. So I got in from school and after the dog had his walk and I made myself a cup of tea, I got out the scales and looked through the cupboards.

I came up with these Fruity Granola Flapjack Bars which are full of dried fruit, pumpkin seeds and dessicated coconut.  They aren’t very healthy as they have lots of butter, sugar and golden syrup in them but taste fab and ideal if you need a burst of energy when you have had a rough day.  I think they would make a quick grab as you go breakfast as well if you are in a rush.

Ingredients:

100g dried fruit (just chuck in anything you have up to this weight you have in your cupboards- currants, raisins, sultanas, apricots, cranberries, cherries, mixed peel) I used what was left of a bag of mixed dried fruit

100g porridge oats

50g Rice Krispies

85g dessicated coconut

50g pumpkin seeds (you could add in sunflower or sesame seeds if you want instead)

50g of chopped nuts (I used walnuts)

100g light brown soft sugar

125ml golden syrup

100g unsalted butter

001First you need to tip all the dried fruit, nuts, seeds, oats, coconut and Rice Krispies into a large bowl.

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Give everything a really good stir so that it is evenly mixed through. Then in a large saucepan melt the butter and add the sugar and golden syrup.  Heat through until dissolved and like a syrupy mixture. Tip this into the large bowl with all the dry ingredients in and mix together thoroughly, ensuring that everything is well coated.003

When this is done, grease a 20cm/ 8cm square tin.  Then spoon the mixture into it carefully, pressing it down into the corners. I use the back of a spoon or a potato masher to level it out evenly.004

This flapjack bar is a no bake one so it goes straight into the fridge for about 2 hours to set instead of being cooked. Once set, you can cut it up into 12 bars or 16 square pieces.

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Be warned, they are moreish!

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Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Lemon, Ginger and Coconut Flapjacks

A week last Saturday I took my son to take part in a fabulous Make Your Own Chocolate Bar Workshop at the York Cocoa House.  He had a fantastic time.  I treated myself to some flavoured chocolate buttons to use in my baking and came across these pretty pastel green coloured buttons delicately flavoured with lemon oil.  At first I thought they were mint flavoured but they were lemon, in fact.  I thought they would make a lovely topping to a cake and bought some to experiment with.

The day after I was at home and decided to look through my baking stash to see what flavours would go with lemon. After spending a while choosing I decided on coconut and ginger with lemon zest in a flapjack mixture which could then be topped with the chocolate buttons melted down.  My kids laughed at the colour of the chocolate buttons saying they looked like snot!

So, on went the oven at about 160oC, and I set to making the flapjacks. Here’s how they were created:

Delicate lemon flavoured chocolate buttons from York Cocoa House. They came in several other flavours. This was a 200g bag.
Delicate lemon flavoured chocolate buttons from York Cocoa House. They came in several other flavours. This was a 200g bag.
Butter, soft brown sugar and golden syrup were melted together gently in a saucepan.
Butter, soft brown sugar and golden syrup were melted together gently in a saucepan.
Desiccated coconut weighed out in a bowl ready to add to the melted ingredients.
Desiccated coconut  was weighed out in a bowl ready to add to the melted ingredients.
Porridge oats also added to the mixture.
Porridge oats were also added to the mixture.
I chopped up three balls of stem ginger into small chunks. These had been rinsed carefully previously so that all the syrup had come off.
I chopped up three balls of stem ginger into small chunks. These had been rinsed carefully previously so that all the syrup had come off.
I grated the zest of a large lemon to add to the mixture.
I grated the zest of a large lemon to add to the mixture.
The lemon, ginger and coconut was all mixed together in the bowl.
The lemon, ginger and coconut was all mixed together in the bowl.
Once all the wet and dry mixture was combined, it was spooned into a 20cm square, loose bottomed tin which was greased and lined.
Once all the wet and dry mixture was combined, it was spooned into a 20cm square, loose bottomed tin which was greased and lined.

The flapjacks baked well for roughly about 1/2 hour in the oven.  This was time for me to get the chocolate melted carefully.  As this bag of chocolate buttons was about £5 I did not want to waste them!

Once the flapjack was cooled and turned out of the tin I melted the whole bag of chocolate buttons and spread the chocolate mixture on the top of the flapjack.
Once the flapjack was cooled and turned out of the tin I melted the whole bag of chocolate buttons and spread the chocolate mixture on the top of the flapjack.
Ready to serve!
Ready to serve!

When the flapjacks had cooled, my children were asking me what was in them. When I said coconut and ginger, both of them said “Yuck, what did you have to put those in for?”  Well, how come when my back was turned, four of the flapjacks had disappeared off the plate!  I can’t blame the dog, he was asleep the whole time in his dog basket!  Wonder if I can hide broccoli or spinach in a cake?  By the following day all dozen pieces had gone. My hubby and I only had one each!

I’m already looking forward to my next trip to York Cocoa House to buy more of these delicious bags of chocolate buttons.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx