Pesto Twists

I know this looks like it’s a bit of a cheaters ‘bake’ but sometimes the easy options are the best.
As I had spent a full evening preparing the caramel squares for a work fuddle, I also wanted to make something savoury but it had to be fairly quick and easy. And let’s face it, who doesn’t love a bit of cheese and pesto. With 3 simple ingredients and 20 odd minutes, what could be better.

Ingredients

1 pack of puff pastry (500g)

1 jar of pesto

½ cup of grated parmesan


Method

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180oc

2. Roll out the puff pastry until it’s about the thickness of the a 50 pence. 

3. Spread the pesto over the pastry leaving about ½ an inch from the edge, sprinkle over the cheese, then fold the pastry in half bring together two of the edges that don’t have any pesto.

4. Cut into 12 strips and twist each strips 4-5 times.

5. Place onto a parchment lined baking tray and bake for roughly 10-15 minutes until the edges have started to go golden brown, then leave to cool. 

Nutritional Information

Serves 12

Calories: 243

Protein: 5.0g

Carbohydrates: 15.1g

Of which is Sugars: 0.5g

Fibre: 1.6g

Fat: 17.8g

Of which is Saturated: 6.9g

Caramel Shortbread

I always see loads of recipes for these called many different things e.g. Twix bars, caramel fingers etc. I’ve just always known these as caramel squares and they are one of the many things that my mum would always be asked to make for us and unlike some of the other recipes I’ve seen, I do insist on making my own caramel, which although adds a fair bit of time to the baking process I think that you cannot beat homemade caramel. 

I normally need a full evening or preferably afternoon to make these so just be warned as these a fair bit of cooling involved and I always make them the day before I want them so it can completely cooled and be cut up into equal squares.


Ingredients

For the base

125g Butter

50g Caster Sugar

175g Plain Flour

For the Caramel Filling

175g Butter

115g Golden Caster sugar

3 Tbsp. Golden Syrup

1 Tin Condensed Milk (400g)

For the Topping

100g Dark Chocolate

100g Milk Chocolate


Method

1. Prepared a large dish, I use a deep casserole dish but any dish roughly 20cm square will do, just grease with some butter, making sure that you do the sides as well. Pre-heat the oven to 180°c 

2. In a large bowl cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then add the sifted plain flour and mix until it begins to bind together. Knead the mixture until it becomes smooth then press it into the pre-prepared dish. With a fork, prick the mixture in numerous places and place in the oven for 20-25 minutes until it started to go golden brown.

3. Leave to cool ready for the topping.

4. When the base has been in the oven for roughly 10 minutes start to make the caramel. 

5. In a saucepan over a low/medium heat add the butter, sugar, condensed milk and sugar, stirring until the sugar dissolves.

6. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 5-8 minutes until it begins to thicken and darkens in colour. Keep stirring!

7. Pour over the cooled biscuit base and leave to cool.

8. Once the caramel has cooled, in a suitable bowl over some simmering water, melted the chocolate chunks until completely melted then pour over the caramel then place in the fridge to cool.

9. After a couple of hours once the chocolate has started to set but not completely, score through the chocolate where you want the pieces to be. This will mean that once the chocolate completely cooled, you will get nice neat squares.


Nutritional information

Serves 16

Calories:  343 

Protein:  3.8g

Carbohydrates: 39.6g 

Of which is sugars:  26.8g

Fibre: 0.4g 

Fat: 19.1g

Of which is saturated: 12.1g

Easter Rocky Road

As a little treat for one of the girls at work I decided to ‘bake’ a little  something for her. As I didn’t have too much time, I needed something that could be easy and quick to make but also super delicious. I thought rocky road would be an instant winner and not going to lie, it went down incredibly well with the work teamies.
One of the joys of rocky road is that there’s no real set recipe so it meant that I could add an all manner of delicious ingredients that caught my eye in the shop, such as mini eggs, hence the name.


Ingredients

450g Dark Chocolate (70% or more)

100g Mini Marshmallows

300g Chocolate Digestive Biscuits

2 Mini Meringues

100g Mini Eggs

3 Tbsp Golden Syrup

125g Softened Butter

Icing Sugar (For Dusting)


Method

1. Line a large dish with cling film, ready for the mixture to the poured straight into. This will make it easier to get the bars out of the dish once set.

2. In a large saucepan melt the butter, chocolate and golden syrup over a medium heat ensuring that the chocolate doesn’t burn, stirring regularly.

3. Place the chocolate biscuits into a food bag, and break them down so you have a selection of crumbs and larger biscuits bits.

4. Once all the chocolate is melted, turn down onto a very low heat, add the biscuits to the chocolate and mixed until well incorporated. 

5. Add in the mini eggs and crumble the meringues into the saucepan, mix together then add the mini marshmallows (if you add them earlier then they can start to melt quite a lot). 

6. Give the mixture a final stir to ensure everything is evenly distributed then pour it into the pre-prepared dish, smoothing it down with the spatula.

7. Place in the fridge to cool, after a couple of hours you can run a knife through the mixture where you want the bars to be to make it easier to cut once it’s completely cooled. 

8. Leave to completely set, preferably overnight, cut into bars and dust with icing sugar.


Nutritional Information

Serves 16

Calories:  354

Protein: 3.1g

Carbohydrates: 37.0g

Of which is sugars: 26.8g

Fibre: 0.8g

Fat: 21.2g

Of which is saturated: 12.6g

Mary Berry’s Homemade Custard

​Its been a little whole since I’ve done any baking and I’ve really missed it! So I decided last weekend it was time to make a proper winter pudding, spotted dick and homemade custard. Whilst the pudding wasn’t my favourite I couldn’t believe how easy it was to make custard. I found this recipe on the bbc good food website (which is always a go to when I need a bit of inspiration) and its from the queen of baking herself, Mary Berry, so it was going to be the only recipe I would trust for my first attempt.
Ingredients

4 Egg Yolks

30g Caster Sugar

2 Tbsp. Cornflour

1 Vanilla Pod

570ml Whole Milk

55ml Single Cream

Method

1. Add the milk and cream  to a saucepan, cut open the vanilla pod, scrape out most of the beans and add these and the pod to the mixture. Slowly bring them to a simmer over a low heat.

2. Remove the vanilla pod.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour until you get a smooth mixture.

4. Slowly pour in the hot milk mixture to the eggs, constantly whisking to avoid curdling.

5. Pour back into the saucepan and slowly heat until thickened, stirring regularly.

6. Once thickened, it’s ready to serve.

Nutritional Information

Serves 4

Calories: 217

Protein: 7.9g

Carbohydrates: 15.9g 

Of which is sugars: 14.7g

Fibre:  0.0g

Fat: 11.7g

Of which is saturated:  6.2g

Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cookies

​With everything going on more recently, it’s been ages since I did any baking to take into work.  But being as I’m changing jobs I thought it was about time I got my mid-week bake back on. I’m glad I did as I got spoilt rotten by the people at work and I’m not even moving that far away! 

I decided to  make a couple of different things as there are some people who prefer savoury over sweet and some people who are gluten free. 

I’ll share all the recipes but today I thought I’d start with my favourite which is a tweak to the hummingbird bakery recipe to make some gluten free peanut butter cookies. These went down a storm with both gluten full and gluten free folk and out of a batch of 28 that was made, I only came away with 2 bring home. Which I naturally polished off as I couldn’t have them sitting in the cupboard, that would have been nothing short of blasphemy. 
These are pretty straight forward to make, they just take awhile for me as I can only fit 1 baking  tray in my oven at one time, so it takes me a lifetime to bake them all, but they are worth it.

Ingredients

340g Gluten Free Flour

225g Salted Butter

240g Peanut Butter (this time used smooth but crunchy adds amazing texture)

80g Dark Chocolate (chopped)

200g Caster Sugar

200g Light Brown Sugar

2 Eggs

2 ½ Tsp Gluten Free Baking Powder

½ Xantham Gum

½ Tsp Salt

½ Tsp Vanilla Extract

Method

1. Preheat the oven to175°c. In an electric mixer, whisk together the butter with both sugars until light and fluffy.

2. Turn the mixer down slightly and add the eggs one at time.

3. Once fully incorporated add in the flour, gum, salt, baking powder and vanilla extract and mix together then add in the peanut butter and chocolate chunks and thoroughly mix again.

4. On some prepared baking trays put a good dollop of the mix, ensure there is enough space between them when they spread out on the tray, depending on which tray I use I can either fit 5 or 6 per tray.

5. Put in the oven for 10 minutes until they start to spread out and go slightly brown but they should still look a bit soft in the middle as this will keep them gooey and soft. Leave them on the tray to cool, if you transfer them to a wire rack as this point they will fall apart.

6. Once cooled and set, enjoy!

Nutritional Information

Calories: 201

Protein: 3.3g

Carbohydrates:  22.5g

Of which is sugars: 13.4g

Fibre:  0.7g

Fat: 10.7g

Of which is saturated: 4.8g

Peanut Butter Raworeos

With the weather now starting to warm up (if we ignore the dismal weather last weekend), I’ve  been trying to find some recipes that don’t involve me melting away in the kitchen for hours on end. So instead I spent a few hours flicking through pinterest for some inspiration when I came across ‘‘Fettle Vegan’  with an amazing recipe I just had to try of some raw, healthy oreos. I did tweak the recipe slightly, because what’s better than oreos? Peanut butter oreos, of course!  So here are my peanut butter raworeos. Now they did need a couple of hours prep, to allow the filling to set nicely but they’re definitely worth it. I’m not going to lie, I ate far too many and couldn’t even resist having them on a non treat day as well.
The calorie information does seem quite high but I didn’t make that many out of the mixture I had, I don’t think I rolled the base out thin enough so I ended up with 5 monster cookies! Well worth it, but obviously you can make them slightly smaller with a bit less filling in each to bring it down if you wish, but sometimes it’s nice to be a bit indulgent.

Ingredients
¾ rolled oats (gluten free if necessary)
1 cup pitted dates
1 cup cashews (75g)
½ cup crunchy peanut butter
2 ½ tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons cacao powder
2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
1 teaspoons vanilla essence

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Method
1. In a food processor blitz together the oats and cacao powder until you have a rough flour. Then add the dates. As my processor isn’t the strongest one going, I have to gradually add them 2-3 at a time to stop it burning it. It does take a while but eventually it will  come together in a well mixed dough. Remove from the processor and place in a bowl and leave in the fridge to cool as it will be warm and sticky after mixing.
2. To make the filling, mix together all the ingredients with the exception of the peanut butter in the food processor until you get a smooth filling, then gradually stir in the peanut butter until it starts to thicken up and you get the desired amount of peanut buttery goodness. I know some people don’t like too thick a texture but I love it.
3. Leave to cool in the fridge for a couple of hours until it’s started to firm up and it able to  e spread.
4. About 10-15 minutes before you want to start building the cookies, remove the dough from the fridge so it starts to warm up slightly making it easier to roll out. Then roll out and cut out cookie shapes until you use all the dough (making sure it’s an even number) and place onto a parchment paper lined tray.
5. Remove  the filling from the fridge and spread/dollop the filling evenly over half of the cookies and build. Hey presto all made 🙂
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Nutritional information
Calories: 429
Protein: 10.4g
Carbohydrates: 49g
Of which is sugars: 25.7g
Fibre: 7.4g
Fat: 23.7g
Of which is saturated: 7.6g

Lemon Bars

Every so often I just fancy baking without being too fussed to eat the end result (I know, weird, but it does happen on the odd occasion) and this week I had one of these times. I was raking my brain trying to think about what to make that would still go down well at my house without then leading to being tempting treats in the house for me later in week when I’m being good. This is particularly important as most recently my willpower hasn’t been at its best so I’m better not having it in the house otherwise I’ll hit a midweek slump and a whole batch of baking will be gone in one. Not good.

So, light bulb moment of something lemony similar to the mini lemon loaves I made, which I promise I will post the recipe for I just want to tweak it a couple of times before I do, but I thought of lemon slices. Now I’ve never made my own lemon curd, and to be honest, I’m not a lemon fan. I can just about take it in some hot water every so often or a dash on pancakes with sugar on pancake but generally whenever my mum would make homemade lemon tarts (with homemade lemon curd) she would have to make me jam tarts instead as I wouldn’t eat them. However, my partner is partial to such desserts and does enjoy a good lemon meringue so I figured these Betty Crockers bars would be perfect.

Ingredients

1 Cup Plain Flour
½ Cup of Softened Butter (salted or unsalted it doesn’t really matter)
1 Cup Caster Sugar
¼ Cup Icing/Powdered Sugar
2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
2 Tablespoons Lemon Peel Grated
½  Teaspoon Baking Powder
¼ Teaspoon Salt
2 Eggs

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Method

1.       Preheat the oven to 150-180⁰c (my oven always runs hot so I have to go for a slightly lower temperature)

2.       In a large bowl, rub together the flour, icing sugar and butter. It may take a few minutes but it will eventually turn into a breadcrumb consistency then it should all of a sudden start coming together. Be careful how long you keep mixing it for as the butter warms it will before more difficult to keep its shape.

3.       Press the dough into a 8×8 tin, ensuring you do around 1-2cm sides to contain the lemon mixture, if it’s non-stick you can get away with not greasing the tin – trust me on this.

4.       Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until it’s starting to go slightly brown. As you will be re-baking you don’t want to overcook the bottom.

5.       Whilst that’s cooking, whisk together the remaining ingredients until it’s light and fluffy. This can take a few minutes, so just keep going with it. I used an electric whisk to help speed it up but it still took a fair few minutes.

6.       Once the base is done, take it out the oven and pour the lemon topping straight onto the base and put back in the oven for a further 20-30 minutes.

7.       Keep a check on this, I had to cover the top with tin foil at the 10-15 minute mark as the top started to brown a lot quicker than expected, but it’s done once the filling doesn’t wobble when moving it or leave an indentation when you press on it.

8.       Leave to cool, then remove from tin and cut into slices.

9.       Dust with icing sugar to finish.

wp-1462640111557.jpegNutritional Information – Serves 12

Calories: 202
Protein: 2.5g
Carbohydrates: 29g
Of which is sugars: 19.4g
Fibre: 0.5g
Fat: 8.7g
Of which is saturated: 5.1g