Saturday, 22 December 2012

Cranberry and Walnut Divinity

Candies so good, they're Devine :)  Another seasonal favorite in the Okanay household.  But be warned, these little candies are sweet! You can make them without the nuts or try different fillings if you like.  I personally like the combination of walnuts and cranberries the best as I think it compliments the candy and also helps to cut the sweetness.


600g granulated sugar
5 fl oz light golden syrup or light corn syrup
4 fl oz water
2 egg whites
1 tsp vanilla
50g chopped walnuts
25g dried cranberries

Cook sugar, golden syrup and water in a saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly, until sugar is dissolved.  Continue cooking without stirring to 130 degrees C on a candy thermometer or until a small amount of the mixture dropped into very cold water forms a hard ball that holds its shape but is pliable. As a guide mine generally takes about 12 -15 minutes to reach this stage.

Meanwhile in the bowl of an electric mixer beat the egg whites until stiff peaks from.  Continue beating while pouring the hot syrup into the egg whites in a thin stream.  Add vanilla.  Beat until the mixture  holds its shape and becomes slightly dull, about 10 minutes.  Fold in the Walnuts and Cranberries.

Drop the mixture from a spoon onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  Let stand until firm, turning the candies occasionally, about 12 hours.  Store in an airtight container.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Spiced Hot Chocolate on a Stick

I was looking for some Christmas gift ideas when I came across this post from Sprinkle Bakes.  She really does have some lovely recipes and I thought these little Hot Chocolates on a stick would be perfect for my daughter to give her teachers.  I've rewritten the recipe in grams instead of cups to make it a bit easier to follow.  I also have changed the recipe to use a bit more chocolate as when I followed the Sprinkle Bakes recipe it seemed much to thick and dry.  Adding that bit of extra chocolate made mine smoother and easier to spoon into the cups.

What you will need:

10 small paper or plastic cups
10 wooden spoon or lollipop sticks
300 grams good quality milk chocolate
25 grams cocoa powder
80 grams icing sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon plus more for decoration
cinnamon sticks and/or whole star anise

In a bowl mix together the cocoa powder, icing sugar, cloves, ginger and cinnamon and set aside.

Place chocolate in a heat proof bowl and set bowl over a pan of simmering water.  Stir chocolate until melted.  Once melted remove from heat.  Stir in the spice mixture.  Stir until smooth.  Mixture will be very thick.

Divide mixture equally amongst 10 small paper or plastic cups.  Tap the cup on the counter to release any air bubbles and smooth the mixture.  Stand a wooden spoon or lollipop stick in the mixture.  Garnish with a cinnamon stick or whole star anise and an extra sprinkle of cinnamon.

Place in the refrigerator until the chocolate is set.  Then cut the cup and peel away.
I sprinkled mine with a dash of edible gold lustre and wrapped with some marshmallows in cling film.  If your giving as a gift don't forget to add a note to dissolve in 200ml hot milk.


Of course I had to try it out before I gave them away.  Absolutely delicious :)  




Friday, 14 December 2012

Peppermint Hearts

I'm glad to see Candy Canes are catching on here in England.  A few years back they where hard to find.  This year I spotted them on the Christmas aisle in Sainsburys and grabbed a few boxes.  I've got a couple of peppermint recipes brewing in my brain for this year.  This first one is a very quick and easy but delicious treat.  Hearts made of White Chocolate and Peppermint.

To make these you'll need for each heart:

2 peppermint candy canes
1 oz of fine quality white chocolate
and some parchment paper

Unwrap your 2 candy canes and break off a bit at the end to shorten them so that they will form a nice heart shape.

 Arrange your candy canes onto the parchment paper into a heart shape.
 Take the bits you broke off and place them in a bowl.  Crush them into small pieces with the bottom of a glass.

 Melt 1oz of white chocolate and spoon into the centre of the heart shape.
 Top with the crushed bits of candy.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Christmas Tree Cookies

It's taken me a while to get in the Christmas baking spirit this year.  But it is time and I thought I would start off with a family favorite.  These delicious festive Sugar Cookies have been a tradition in our house for many years now and are a great project to do with the kids.

Cookie Dough

170g / 6oz sugar
170g / 6oz butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
400g / 14oz plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Coloured Cookie Dough for Decoration

55g / 2oz butter
55g / 2oz icing sugar
170g / 6oz plain flour
6 tblspoons milk
green, red and yellow food colouring


In a large bowl, combine sugar, butter vanilla and egg; beat until light and fluffy.  Add flour, baking powder and salt; mix until well blended.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

While the Cookie Dough is in the refrigerator, in a small bowl, combine icing sugar and butter and mix well.  Add flour and milk and mix until blended.  Dough will need to be thin enough to be piped with a decorators bag so if it is too thick add a bit more milk.  Seperate dough and colour 1/2 of the dough green, 1/4 of the dough red and 1/4 of the dough yellow.  Spoon coloured dough into decorators bags fitted with a round piping nozzle.  I've used tip number 3 for mine.  If you don't have decorators bags you can use a resealable sandwhich bag and just snip a small hole in the tip to pipe the dough.

Heat oven to 175C /350F / Gas Mark 4

Roll dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/8" thick.  Cut with Tree Cookie Cutters.  Decorate with Coloured Cookie Dough.  Bake until Cookies start to turn lightly Golden.  I was using a large cookie cutter and this took about 10 - 12 minutes for mine.  For smaller cookies  it may take less time.  I would suggest you start to check them after 7 minutes.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Oreo Cupcakes

I've found a new love.  I actually can't believe with a sweettooth like mine I had never tried it before. 
But with the invention of the Smore's Cupcake I had tested Marshmallow Fluff instead of using icing and well now I find
it in my cupboard again just waiting to be used.  I thought this time I would try out my Smores cake made with a different cookie crumb. 
Oreo's :)  

Oreo Cupcakes


115g (1 1/2 cups) Oreo Cookies crushed into a fine crumb
57g (3/4 cups) all purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
125g (1 /2 cup) butter
200g (3/4 cup) sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
175 ml (3/4 cup) whole milk

Top with Icing of your choice.  I've used Marshmallow Fluff and an Oreo Cookie.  They would taste lovely with Buttercream icing as well.


Preheat Oven to 175C / 350F / Gas Mark 4

In a bowl, whisk together oreo crumbs, flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine butter and sugar and beat on high speed until very light and fluffy.  The mixture should look almost like whipped cream.  I have a stand mixer and this takes approx 5 minutes with my mixer.

In a cup, combine the eggs and vanilla and whisk together.  Reduce the speed to low and add the egg mixture slowly just a bit at a time.

By hand, stir in flour and milk.  Start with 1/3 of the flour, then 1/2 milk, then 1/3 flour, etc.  Stiring each time just until combined.  You want to keep the mixture light and airy.

Spoon into your baking cases and bake for 20 minutes.

Cool completely before decorating.