SmartCookieSam’s Christmas Baking.

I dream about baking and love any excuse to get in my kitchen.  But the week before Christmas I just couldn’t get into it. I knew I had lots to make but every time I thought “Right, let’s make that fudge,” something would happen and it would get pushed to the wayside.  I started off the week with a thumping fuzzy headache.  It was brought on by having to get everything I hadn’t done sorted out in three days flat because of all the work commitments leading up to the end of term. In the end I decided I would have to get up at 5.30am and get cracking on what was needed for foodie presents and for our own Christmas food.

It was a very long day and by the time I sat down at 10pm having cleaned the kitchen floor, I was ready for bed.  These photos showed what I made.

My Gingerbread House Bundt Cake baked as an alternative to Christmas cake.
Using a recipe from the Sugar and Crumbs website I made their simple fudge using Salted Caramel icing sugar, condensed milk and butter. So easy to make.
Brownies always go down well for foodie presents and I baked three different batches, starting with these Mint M&M ones.
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Brownies baked with Oreo Cookies inside, yum yum!
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Some baking for us: Mince Pies and homemade sausage rolls.
For those who don’t like mince pies I baked some peanut butter M&M cookies.  

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Gingerbread Cupcakes using the scrumptious and delicious smelling Sugar and Crumbs Gingerbread Icing sugar in the buttercream.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Baking With Reeses Peanut Butter Chips.

Here’s yet another blog post I’ve forgotten to write about over the past few weeks.  I had only been in my new job a couple of weeks and baking was the last thing on my mind.  Though I do like to bake a cake or a pudding on a Sunday to go with our lunch.  I don’t know how they’d managed to stay in my baking cupboard as my two teenage kids are always nicking things out of it!  I had found a large pack of Reese’s Peanut Butter Chips back in January and sneakily hid them behind a bag of flour hoping my kids wouldn’t look behind it!  I intended to do lots of baking with these little beauties!

My family adore brownies and they always go down well for pudding on a Sunday.  I put half the packet of peanut butter chips into my regular brownie batter. What’s more is that the chips did not melt but you got an instant hit of peanuts which contrasted beautifully with the dark chocolate in the brownies.  I insisted on putting the remaining brownies in the freezer or else we would have scoffed the whole lot there and then!

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Chewy and gooey Peanut Butter brownies baked with Reeses Peanut Butter chips into the batter.
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Chocolate and peanut butter heaven…. don’t mind if I do!

If that wasn’t enough peanut butter to be going on with, I had half the packet to finish off.  So a few days later I thought about what I could bake with the remaining pieces. I adore peanut butter cookies and could eat them all day long.  So I planned to bake some cookies to stick in the freezer.  But they didn’t quite get there.. well some of them did!  I adapted a recipe I had for peanut butter and chocolate cookies but was angry to find that the bar of dark chocolate I had in my baking cupboard had now turned from a 100g one to a 50g one! So I had to add something else to the chocolate, I ended up tipping in 50g of raisins instead.

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Gorgeously moreish peanut butter and raisin cookies.

I was very impressed with the cookies.  They tasted chewy and there was a good balance of the peanut flavour against the sweet chocolate and raisins.  I ate a couple with a cup of tea and although they tasted fab I regretted it thinking of all the calories in them.  So I saved some for my family and the rest got stuck in a box and put in the freezer before I demolished those as well!

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Only half the cookies made it to the freezer!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Peanut Butter Cookies- A Lighter Way To Bake (Cooking The Books January 2014.)

Peanut butter cookies are a serious addiction for me. Thank heavens I don’t make them often or I’d be the size of a killer whale!  Though keeping a whole jar of peanut butter aside for baking in our house is not an easy challenge.  Every time I buy a jar it miraculously disappears. Both my husband and daughter love peanut butter on toast for breakfast. So on the rare occasions where I have made peanut butter cookies, they just seem to vanish in our house.

Knowing that peanut butter cookies are naughty but nice, I was interested to see that Lorraine Pascale has a lighter version in her latest book “A Lighter Way To Bake” which I am currently using as my Cooking The Books Challenge for January.  Lorraine says in the recipe introduction that she has “worked hard to reduce the peanut butter, sugar and butter content in them as best as I can so that they still have that scrumbunctious flavour!”  To do this Lorraine uses no added sugar peanut butter which usually has palm oil in instead.  This is the peanut butter I usually buy anyway, like Whole Earth or Sainsbury’s Organic Crunchy Peanut Butter.

There isn’t any butter at all in the recipe, all the fat content comes from the peanut butter but there is a small amount of caster sugar.  It would be interesting to see how the peanut butter cookies tasted when compared with regular ones.

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The peanut butter and caster sugar were beaten together in a large bowl.
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Then I added in a beaten egg, some vanilla extract and a tablespoonful of water.
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Finally I added in some wholemeal flour and rolled oats.

The recipe made 12 cookies and I quickly split the dough into 12 equal balls ready to be put on the baking trays.  Usually I find I don’t have to squash them or press them flat as they spread out in the oven.  I didn’t read the recipe properly, Lorraine says to flatten them down with the palm of your hand. I didn’t do it, they went straight into the oven.

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Laid out on the baking trays well spaced apart and ready to go in the oven.

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The finished cookies on a plate. The photo isn’t that good as I took it on my phone camera in very poor light!

When the cookies came out of the oven about 10 minutes later they were cooked to the perfect golden brown colour they should have been but they didn’t look like the ones in the book.  I then read the recipe properly and realised my mistake.  This didn’t affect the taste of the cookies though.  I was impressed with them, not too sweet and you could taste the peanuts in them without the cookies being too rich! I will definitely be making these again.  I did only have one with a cup of tea, honest!

Looking at the nutritional analysis comparison chart, it says there are only about 8 calories different between the lighter and the regular one. The fat and saturated fat content has been reduced, only by about 1g but the main reduction was in the sugar content, a huge difference of about 3 grammes! I did think the cookies were very tasty though and I did have to hide them away in the cupboard so I wasn’t tempted to binge on them!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx