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Black Forest Yule Log

22 Dec

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Just in time for Christmas, this recipe is perfect for everyone who doesn’t like Christmas cake or Christmas pudding but still wants a deliciously festive sweet treat. The addition of the cherries makes this yule log seem extra decadent and luxurious, and tastes amazing. I will admit that I used a tin of cherries in this. If you really want to make your own filling, use a recipe such as this, but personally I think life is just too short and used this:

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This yule log went down a treat with my family, with the flourless cake meaning that it isn’t too rich and heavy to enjoy lots of it!

NB: although most of my recipes don’t require any specialist equipment, I wouldn’t attempt this recipe without an electric food mixer (I got one for £5 in Argos). This is because beating the egg whites takes a good ten minutes even with an electric mixer – without one, you’ll need muscles like Popeye!

Makes: obviously it depends how thick you cut your slices, but I got sixteen decent sized slices out of mine.

Cost per slice: again this obviously depends how many slices your yule log makes, but assuming you have sixteen it works out as £0.21 per slice (price based on Tesco Value ingredients).

Ingredients:

  • 6 eggs
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 100g dark chocolate
  • 125g icing sugar
  • 125g butter
  • 1 can (400g) cherry pie filling
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Method

1) Preheat the oven to 180C.

2) Separate your eggs, doing them one at a time over a small bowl before adding them to your mixing bowl so that if one goes wrong you won’t ruin all the other whites – you need to make sure not to get any yolk at all in the whites, or the egg whites won’t hold their shape when you beat them. To separate the eggs break them over a bowl, and tip the yolk back and forth between the two halves of the shell so that the white falls out and only the yolk remains in the shell.

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3) Beat the egg whites until they are thick and beginning to hold their peaks.

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4) Still whisking, add 50g of caster sugar and continue whisking until the eggs hold their peaks but are not dry.

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5) In a separate bowl beat together the egg yolks and the rest of the caster sugar, until they have a thick, mousse-like consistency.

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6) Add the vanilla extract to the egg yolk mixture, and sieve over the cocoa powder before folding both in.

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7) Fold the egg whites into the yolk mixture, about a quarter at a time. Fold carefully so that you don’t lose too much air from the mixture – you need it to keep the cake light and fluffy.

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8) Line a swiss roll tin (or deep baking tray) with greaseproof paper, folding it into the corners so that the cake stays rectangular, and pour in the mixture.

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9) Bake in the oven for 18-20 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean.

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10) Sprinkle icing sugar over a large piece of greaseproof paper, and when the cake is cool enough to touch turn it out onto this – the icing sugar should stop it sticking.

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11) Spread the cherries over the cake. Spread the syrup right to the edges but keep the cherries fairly central – this ensures that every slice will have cherries in it.

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12) Roll up the log, trying to keep the roll nice and tight. It’s easier to roll it with your hands on the outside of the greaseproof paper. Don’t worry if any of it cracks or breaks – you can cover this up with icing. Trim the edges to make it neat.

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13) Make the icing by melting the chocolate over a pan of simmering water.

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14) Set aside the melted chocolate to cool a little, and cream together the icing sugar and butter.

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15) Add the melted chocolate to the buttercream, and beat in.

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16) Spread over the yule log, as evenly as possible.

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17) If your yule log is too long to fit on the board or plate you’re serving it on then trim to the right length.

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18) Cut the offcuts diagonally, and use to make a branch for your yule log.

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19) Cover this with icing as well, and make sure to hide the join.

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20) Serve dusted with icing sugar, to look like fallen snow.

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Snowman Biscuits

19 Dec

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These biscuits are so easy to make, and undeniably cute and Christmassy. They’re great to make with little ones as they’re so simple, or if you want something lovely and Christmassy to serve up that everyone will love. They’re also really cheap so if you wanted to make them for a party or get-together you could make loads, and with minimal effort on your part – all you need is a reasonably steady hand to ice the faces!

Tip: this recipe does make quite a lot of biscuits (I got thirty), so if you only want a few then halve the recipe.

Makes: around thirty biscuits, as long as you roll them out quite thin (about a quarter of a centimetre).

Cost per biscuit: this depends on how many biscuits you make but if you made thirty it would work out as £0.10 per biscuit (price based on Tesco Value ingredients).

Ingredients:

  • 140g caster sugar
  • 250g butter
  • 300g plain flour
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 200g icing sugar
  • White marshmallows (I needed 2 bags of marshmallows to get enough white ones – you can eat all the pink ones whilst you decorate!)
  • Writing icing

Method:

1) Preheat the oven to 180C.

2) Cream together the butter and sugar.

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3) Beat in the egg and vanilla extract.

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4) Add the flour, and get your hands in to knead it into a dough.

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5) Sprinkle flour over a clean work surface, and roll out the dough to about a quarter of a centimetre thick.

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6) Use a round cookie cutter to cut circles out of the dough, and place them on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Roll out and repeat until all your dough is used up.

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7) Bake in the oven for around fifteen minutes, until golden.

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8) Leave on a wire rack until completely cool.

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9) Mix up the icing sugar with water, and ice the biscuits, sticking a white marshmallow onto each for the snowman’s heads.

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10) Use different colours of writing icing to ice faces, bow ties and buttons, and overload on Christmassy cuteness!

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Chocolate Dynamite

17 Dec

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The perfect Christmas gift for anyone with a sweet tooth, think Hotel Chocolat slab but on a student budget.

It isn’t the cheapest recipe in the world, but cut up into pieces and packaged nicely it would make lovely Christmas presents which would cost far less than anything equivalent from a shop! I haven’t done a cost or how many this serves because obviously the cost depends on which fillings you want to use, and in my family this would probably serve one! I would definitely recommend using Tesco Value chocolate for this though – it’s only 30p per 100g bar, and once you’ve melted it and covered it in fruit and nuts it tastes just as luxurious as a high-end chocolate bar.

For this recipe you can play around with the ingredients to your heart’s content and it will still taste amazing. Freeze dried raspberries, almonds, toasted pecans, and various other toppings can be used in this, either instead of, or as well as, the ingredients I’ve used. I used a mixture of dark and milk chocolate to stop it being too sweet but also good for people who don’t like dark chocolate, but obviously you can change that around with that as you wish. The white chocolate isn’t essential if you don’t like it, but it does give a lovely Christmassy touch.

Tip: if you don’t like, or are allergic to, nuts then obviously you’ll need to leave them out of this recipe, in which case I would recommend adding another fruit as well as the cranberries, such as freeze dried raspberries, and maybe adding an extra crunchie bar to give a little extra crunch.

Ingredients:

  • 600g milk/dark chocolate
  • 100g white chocolate
  • 4 crunchie bars
  • 25 pistachio nuts
  • 25g dried cranberries
  • 1 tsp popping candy

Method:

1) Break the milk/dark chocolate into pieces and melt in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water.

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2) Whilst the chocolate is melting cover a baking tray with clingfilm.

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3) Chop the crunchies into small pieces and add to the melted chocolate.

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4) Pour the chocolate mixture onto the baking tray, making sure to spread it reasonably evenly.

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5) Chop the pistachios and add evenly to the chocolate.

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6) Add the dried cranberries and sprinkle popping candy over the top. If you wanted to, you could also make several small slabs instead of making one big one and breaking it into pieces.

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7) Melt the white chocolate and drizzle over the top. On my second attempt at this recipe I realised that it would probably work best to pipe the white chocolate on – I did this by putting it in a sandwich bag and cutting off the corner to make a small hole.

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8) Put in the fridge to set. It should take a couple of hours to harden completely.

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9) If you’ve made a big slab chop into pieces and wrap up for presents in cellophane with ribbon, or just eat it!

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Double Chocolate and Marshmallow Cookies

18 Nov

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These are quite possibly the best cookies I’ve ever eaten. They’re rich, decadent and gooey, and we ate half of them straight out the tray before they even made it onto a plate (hence why there aren’t so many in the final pictures!)

This recipe makes quite a lot of cookies so you could cut it in half if you just wanted to make a few, although personally I’d make them all because they’re so good you won’t want to stop eating them.

You can use mini marshmallows instead of normal ones if you can’t be bothered to chop them up, although normal marshmallows are cheaper and I prefer them because you can use bigger pieces.

Tip: white chocolate would be great in these cookies, and would look pretty awesome too. You could also try them with dark chocolate, although that might make them too rich for some tastes.

Makes: around fifteen large cookies, or more if you made them smaller.

Cost per cookie: this depends on how many cookies you make but if you made fifteen cookies it would work out as £0.19 per cookie (price based on Tesco Value ingredients).

Ingredients:

  • 400g caster sugar
  • 280g butter
  • 250g plain flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 65g cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 200g milk chocolate
  • 100g marshmallows

Method

1) Preheat the oven to 180C.

2) Cream together the butter and sugar.

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3) Beat in the eggs and vanilla extract.

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4) Combine the flour, cocoa and bicarbonate of soda and fold into the mixture.

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5) Break the chocolate into pieces and cut the marshmallows up (I cut each marshmallow into around 5 pieces, but you can do them bigger or smaller if you want to).

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6) Stir the chocolate and marshmallows through the mixture, spreading them as evenly as you can.

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7) Spoon the mixture onto a baking tray, making sure the cookies are well spread out – mine weren’t spread out enough and turned into a giant cookie traybake. Use greaseproof paper if you had it as these are quite sticky and could be a little tricky to get off the tray otherwise!

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8) Bake in the oven for around 12-15 minutes, until the cookies are hard on top (the rest will harden up when they cool) and the marshmallow is starting to go golden. Try not to eat them all at once!

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Chocolate Cookies

1 Nov

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Everyone loves chocolate cookies, and these are great because instead of chocolate chips I’ve used big chunks of chocolate which makes them taste really luxurious. It’s only a little recipe so it’s great for when you really fancy a few homemade cookies and the gorgeous smell of them baking, but don’t want hundreds of them that end up going stale because you can’t eat them all.

Tip: you could try these with a mixture of white, milk and dark chocolate for a delicious twist. They would also be great with a few teaspoons of cocoa powder added with the flour to make them extra chocolatey!

Makes: eight or nine large cookies, or more if you made them smaller.

Cost per cookie: this depends on how many cookies you make but if you made nine cookies it would work out as £0.13 per cookie (price based on Tesco Value ingredients).

Ingredients:

  • 225g plain flour
  • 125g butter
  • 100g sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 200g chocolate

Method

1) Preheat the oven to 180C.

2) Cream the butter and sugar together.

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3) Beat in the egg.

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4) Sift in the flour, and fold into the mixture.

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5) Break the chocolate into chunks and add it to the mixture.

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6) Shape the cookies on a greased baking tray. Bake in the oven for around 15 minutes, until golden.

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7) Try not to eat them all at once!

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Chocolate Orange Cake

12 Oct

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This is such a gorgeous cake to make when you want something a bit more special than a Victoria or chocolate sponge. The orange means that it isn’t quite as sweet as regular chocolate cake, and it is absolutely delicious. Mixing the candied peel into the mixture gives a lovely zingy taste and a great texture. Although it is a bit more fiddly and uses a few more ingredients than a standard chocolate sponge, the extra effort is definitely worth it!

Tip: I’ve used milk chocolate to make the ganache icing, but if you want to make your cake a bit richer then use dark chocolate, or a mixture of dark and milk.

Cost per slice: obviously this depends on how big your slices are! You should be able to get around twelve slices out of this cake, in which case they would work out as costing just £0.16 per slice, much cheaper than a shop-bought cake and far tastier too! (Price based on Tesco Value ingredients).

Ingredients:

  • 140g self-raising flour
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 175g butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 40g cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 50g candied orange peel
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 150ml double cream
  • 150g milk chocolate
  • 2-3 tbsp apricot jam

Method

1) Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease two cake tins and if you have any line them with greaseproof paper.

2) Cream together the butter and sugar.

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3) Beat in the eggs, one at a time.

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4) Sieve in the flour, cocoa powder and baking power a bit at a time, and fold into the mixture.

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5) Cut the candied peel into as small pieces as you can.

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6) Fold the orange peel into the mixture, and add in the milk if needed.

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7) Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool completely before adding the icing.

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8) Make the ganache by putting the double cream and broken-up chocolate into a bowl over a simmering saucepan of water for around 10 minutes, until melted and smooth. Leave to cool and thicken up until it is a spreadable consistency.

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9) Whilst the ganache is cooling, spread the apricot jam over the top of both halves of the cake.

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10) Spread the ganache icing over the apricot jam and stick the two halves together. Decorate with a little more candied peel, if you wish, and try not to eat it all in one go!

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Strawberry Surprise Cupcakes

24 Aug

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I have a really sweet tooth so I thought these little cupcakes would be great. The strawberry jam gives a delicious addition to traditional fluffy sponge, and they’re so more-ish.

Tip: I’ve used strawberry jam as it’s my favourite, but pretty much any flavour of jam (although not marmalade!) would work well. I think blackcurrant or raspberry would be particularly good!

Makes: I made thirteen good sized cupcakes, but you could possibly get one more out of this recipe if you made them quite small.

Cost per cake: obviously this depends on how many cakes you make, but if you made thirteen cakes it would work out as £0.09 per cake (price based on Tesco Value ingredients).

Ingredients:

  • 150g butter
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 150g self raising flour
  • 75g strawberry jam

Method

1) Preheat the oven to 180C.

2) Cream together the butter and sugar, and then beat in the eggs and vanilla essence.

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3) Sift the flour into the mixture gradually, and fold in with a large metal spoon.

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4) Fill each of your cake cases around half full with mixture.

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5) Add around a teaspoon of jam to each cake case, taking care that the jam does not reach the sides – if it does, it will all ooze out of the side of the cake.

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6) Cover over the jam with a layer of mixture, ensuring it is all covered up.

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7) Bake in the oven for around 12-15 minutes, until golden.

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8) Try not to eat them all at once!

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