Last minute Halloween biscuit pops

For some reason, Halloween always seems to creep up on me and it’s a mad rush to make something edible. If you’re the same and need a last minute quick and easy ‘bake’ (there’s actually no baking involved!), give these biscuit pops a go. These are ideal for children to make.

Halloween biscuit pops

Halloween biscuit pops

1. Take each biscuit from a packet of Oreos (or any similar sandwich-style biscuit you like) and carefully lift off one of the biscuit halves.

Split each Oreo in half.

Split each Oreo in half.

2. Melt a few squares of white chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water.

Melt the white chocolate.

Melt the white chocolate.

3. Dip the end of a lollipop stick into the white chocolate. Then place this on the biscuit half with the filling on it.

Dip the lollipop stick in chocolate and place on the biscuit.

Dip the lollipop stick in chocolate and place on the biscuit.

4. Put a bit of melted chocolate on the other half of the biscuit then stick the biscuit back together and press down slightly.

Put melted chocolate on the biscuit.

Put melted chocolate on the biscuit.

Stick the biscuit back together.

Stick the biscuit back together.

5. Put each biscuit onto a lined baking tray then place the tray in the freezer. Leave to set for an hour or so.

Place on a tray and freeze.

Place on a tray and freeze.

6. Whilst the biscuits are in the freezer, melt half a bag of orange candy melts in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Alternatively, you can use white chocolate and add some orange food colouring gel.

7. Take one of the biscuit pops and, using a spoon to help you, cover it in the melted orange chocolate.

Dip the biscuits in the orange candy melts.

Dip the biscuits in the orange candy melts.

Cover the biscuit with melted chocolate.

Cover the biscuit with melted chocolate.

8. Add any sprinkles or sweeties you like. We didn’t have any specific Halloween sprinkles so used orange sugar sand, purple and orange sprinkles and some Halloween Haribo sweets. You could also use some writing icing (the sort in tubes that you can get in the baking section of the supermarket) or some black royal icing to add scary faces etc.

Decorate with sprinkles or sweeties.

Decorate with sprinkles or sweeties.

9. Place the covered and decorated biscuit pops on the lined baking tray. Leave at room temperature or place in the fridge until the chocolate has set.

Place on a lined baking tray.

Place on a lined baking tray.

Enjoy your yummy Halloween cake pops!! Great for giving to trick or treat visitors!

Halloween biscuit pops.

Halloween biscuit pops.

You can easily adapt these biscuit pops to suit other occasions. For Christmas, you could cover in white chocolate and decorate to look like snowmen.

Happy baking!

Chocolate truffles

Here’s a lovely easy recipe that is perfect for kids to make, especially as it involves getting a bit messy!! My daughter and I had great fun making these one rainy afternoon during the summer holidays. They would be a perfect gift for children to make for someone special.

Ingredients:

For approximately 24 truffles you will need the following ingredients.

  • 150ml double cream.
  • 15g unsalted butter.
  • 300g chocolate – you can use white, milk or dark chocolate or even try a flavoured one, such as orange. Make sure you use good quality chocolate not cake topping or one with a low cocoa content.
  • Decorations of your choice. We used sifted cocoa powder, crumbled flake bars and sugar sprinkles. You could also use chocolate vermicelli, grated chocolate, chopped nuts, desiccated coconut or anything you fancy.
  • Some sifted icing sugar to dust your hands with.

Equipment:

  • A baking sheet.
  • Greaseproof paper.
  • A heat proof bowl to make your mixture in.
  • A small saucepan.
  • A wooden spoon or spatula.
  • A teaspoon.
  • Some small bowls or saucers to put your decorations on.
  • Paper sweet cases or mini muffin cases.

Making the truffles:

Here’s my daughter, Emily, showing you how to make these delicious chocolate truffles.

1) Line the baking sheet with the greaseproof paper.

2) Break your chosen chocolate into pieces in the heat proof bowl. Try not to eat any pieces, even though its very yummy!

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3) Measure your cream into the small saucepan and add the butter. Ask a grown up to bring the cream and butter slowly to the boil, stirring often. If you are very careful, you might be able to help with this. When the cream has come to the boil, a grown up can pour it onto the chocolate for you – it is very hot!

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4) Start stirring the cream and chocolate together. It will look quite funny to begin with so keep going until it is all mixed in. Emily has shown you what it will look like when you’re mixing it.

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5) Well done – your truffle mixture is done!! Now you will need to let it set. Leave it at room temperature for 15 minutes, then cover the bowl with clingfilm and put it in the fridge for about 2 hours, or until the mixture is firm. While you’re waiting, you can do some clearing up…….

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6) Now you can assemble the truffles. Be warned, this is a very messy (but fun) job!! Make sure you have your lined baking tray close by as you will need to put your truffles on it.

7) Take your bowl out of the fridge and, using the teaspoon, scoop out a bite sized piece of chocolate mixture. Dust your hands with icing sugar. Being as quick as you can, roll the scoop of chocolate into a ball shape in your hands and place it onto the baking tray. Repeat this until you have used up all of the mixture.

Rolling the chocolate truffles.

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You might want to wash your hands now!!

8) Next, get your bowls or saucers with the decorations you are using. Take each truffle and roll it in one of your toppings. Then put the truffle into a paper case.

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You’ve now made your yummy chocolate truffles – well done!! You can keep them in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 10 days. If you’d like to give them as a gift, you can put them in a pretty box and tie it with some ribbon. But make sure you keep some for yourself because they are delicious!

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Emily and I hope you have lots of fun making these chocolates. What were your favourite toppings? What sort of chocolate did you use? Post us a photo of what you’ve made.

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Happy baking!

P.S grown ups – you can add a little bit of alcohol (such as vodka, champagne, sherry etc) to the mixture before letting it cool for extra special adult-only truffles.

Gluten free banana and blueberry cake

Banana and blueberry cake

Banana and blueberry cake

Even on holiday, I can’t help myself and still end up baking! I don’t like seeng food go to waste and had some fruit which was becoming over-ripe so I decided to put it to good use. This is best made with those bananas which are going brown at the bottom of your fruit bowl. I also had a large punnet of blueberries that needed eating so decided to throw some of those into the mix aswell. You could easily use other fruit that you have, such as raspberries or chopped up nuts.

I made this cake with gluten free flour as I’m going to leave it in the freezer here for when my sister comes next week. Her youngest son has Coeliac disease so, as this cake is gluten free, they can all enjoy it. If you don’t need a GF cake, simply use standard plain flour and omit the milk (I only add this as GF flour is quite dry).

I didn’t have any of my usual baking ingredients with me but this cake is so simple it didn’t matter. I even baked it in a roasting tin!

Ingredients:

  • 8oz gluten free plain flour (I use Dove’s Farm which is easily available in supermarkets)
  • Half a teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 4oz soft margarine or butter
  • 7oz granulated sugar
  • 4 very ripe bananas, mashed up
  • 6oz blueberries (this is an approximate amount, more or less is fine)
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 3 tablespoons milk

You’ll also need an 8 inch square tin, or similar, greased and lined with greaseproof paper.

What you need to do:

Pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees C (fan oven).

Sieve the flour and bicarbonate of soda into a large bowl. Add the margarine/butter and cut into pieces with a table knife. Then rub the butter into the flour using the tips of your fingers, until it resembles breadcrumbs.

Stir in the sugar then add the banana and gently fold them into the dry ingredients.

Make a well in the centre of the mix and add the eggs along with the milk. Also tip in the blueberries (or fruit of your choice). Gently stir the eggs, milk and fruit into the other ingredients. Don’t over mix but make sure there are no pockets of flour left.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin.

Cook for 1 hour then turn the oven down to 150 degrees and bake for a further 30 minutes. If the top starts to brown too much, loosely cover with foil – I forgot to do this so mine came out quite brown on top! I don’t think it matters though as it just adds a lovely crunch to this soft and fruity cake. The cake is cooked when a skewer (or fork) comes out clean.

Leave to cool completely in the tin before turning out then peel off the greaseproof paper.

Gluten free banana and blueberry cake

This would also be delicious with some lemon icing. Simply sift some icing sugar into a bowl, add some lemon juice and mix until you have a pourable icing. Drizzle over the cold cake. Yummy!

Quick and easy fruit pie

This recipe really is so easy. I know this because my 5 year old has made it several times! I made tonight as a quick pudding for dinner because I had some fruit which needed using up. You can fill your pie with pretty much any fruit you like. The original recipe was just for cherries but tonight I mixed cherries with some nectarines which were getting over-ripe. You could use peaches and raspberries or blackberries and pears.

I made the pastry from scratch for this pie but that’s just because I enjoy doing this. For speed and to make this even more simple, just use shop bought shortcrust pastry. You can even buy it ready rolled to save even more time!

If you want to make your own pastry, sieve 8oz plain flour into a bowl. Add in 4oz cold butter or margarine. Cut the fat into pieces in the flour using a table knife. Using the tips of your fingers, rub the fat into the flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Make a well in the centre and pour in a tablespoon or so of cold water. With your knife, start stirring the crumbs into the water. Continue until the mixture starts to form large lumps – you may need to add a little extra water but do this in very small amounts or you will end up with wet pastry. Now use your hands to bring the pastry together into a ball. Don’t knead the pastry or it will become tough. Wrap in clingflim and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

What you will need for your pie:

  • Fruit of your choice.
  • Pastry (either home-made or shop bought – see above).
  • 4 tablespoons of demerara sugar (or normal caster sugar).
  • A handful of porridge oats.
  • 1 beaten egg or a little milk to glaze your pie.

Pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees centigrade.

Prepare the fruit filling. For my pie, I sliced 2 nectarines and de-stoned a small punnet of cherries. Place your fruit into a bowl and sprinkle over a couple of tablespoons of the demerara sugar (if you don’t have this, just use normal sugar). Set the fruit and sugar aside while you get the pastry ready.

To make the pie base, roll out your pastry into a rough circle on a floured work surface. It should be a few millimetres thick. If you are using pre-rolled pastry, cut out a rough circle. Grease a baking tray or oven-proof dish. Place your pastry circle onto the tray or dish. Sprinkle the porridge oats over the centre of the pastry, leaving space around the edges.

Sprinkle the oats over the pastry.

Sprinkle the oats over the pastry.

Now tip the fruit you prepared earlier on top of the oats. Again, leave space around the edge of the pastry circle.

Place the fruit over the oats.

Place the fruit over the oats.

Brush the edge of the pastry circle with some of the beaten egg or milk. This will act as your glue for the next stage.

Start gathering the pastry into pleats over the edge of the fruit. It really doesn’t matter how neat this is as it’s meant to look rustic (that’s my excuse anyway!). You will be left with an open top to the middle of the pie – it is meant to be like this!

Start gathering the pastry in pleats.

Start gathering the pastry in pleats.

Your pie will have an open top in the middle.

Your pie will have an open top in the middle.

Brush the pleated pastry with some more of the beaten egg or milk. Sprinkle the remaining demerara sugar over the top of the pastry and fruit. This will give a nice crunchy texture to your cooked pie.

Brush with egg and sprinkle with sugar.

Brush with egg and sprinkle with sugar.

Put your pie in the oven and cook for 20-25 minutes until the pastry is golden and the fruit is cooked. Leave to cool slightly before cutting into wedges and serving with cream, custard, fruit sauce or some ice-cream.

Cook until golden brown.

Cook until golden brown.

Sourdough bread class

I had such a lovely time at York Cookery School this afternoon on a sourdough bread making class. I’ve only every attempted to make bread by hand on a few occasions and never had any real success with it. Bread making has always seemed to me to be a mysterious area of cookery that involves a lot of alchemy and time. However, our tutor, Keith, was brilliant and made us feel like the process was actually quite simple. I had lots of fun getting stuck into mixing, kneading and baking and, before long, the room was filled with the enticing smell of fresh, warm bread.

I came home with a huge tray full of loaves and bread which we started to tuck into and taste. It was all really delicious and has inspired me to give the world of bread making a second chance. I now also have a new baby to look after, feed and water…. Before you get any ideas, I’m referring here to my brand new sourdough starter!!

Bread making heaven!

Bread making heaven!

Piles of pancakes!

My daughter LOVES pancakes. She really loves them. I think, given half a chance, she would eat pancakes for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day! Thin, crepe like ones, fluffy thick American style ones, savoury ones, sweet ones, she’s not fussy. Yesterday, I got a request for “thin rolling up ones that I can have for pudding and then for breakfast in the morning”. So after school, we quickly whipped up a batch of batter then let it rest in the kitchen whilst we watched a storm rolling in (there seem to be a lot of those this week!).

The thing about pancakes is they are so easy to make. Yes, the fluffy sort take a bit more effort but the thin ones only have 3 ingredients and anyone can make them. Here’s the recipe we use – thanks to my old and faithful Good Housekeeping cookery book.

Pancake recipe (makes about 20 dinner plate sized pancakes):

  • 8oz (250g) plain flour
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1 pint (600ml) milk

You will also need a little bit of oil, a frying pan (preferably non-stick), a mixing bowl, a sieve, a whisk and a spatula/palette knife or fish slice. I do have a special crepe pan but only because they were selling them for £2.50 in BHS on Shrove Tuesday!

Making the pancake batter:

  1. Sift the flour into the mixing bowl.
  2. Make a well in the centre of the flour and crack in the two eggs.
  3. Whisk the eggs, bringing in a bit of the flour aswell. It will look like it’s all gone wrong but don’t panic!
  4. Add in a little bit of the milk and mix in a bit more of the flour.
  5. Keep gradually adding the milk and bringing in the flour. Your mixture will eventually get looser and, by the time you have whisked in all the milk, you will have a runny batter. Don’t worry about any little lumps, they really don’t matter and won’t make any difference to your pancakes.

That’s it, your pancake batter is ready! I would recommend you leave it to stand for 20 minutes but you can use it straight away if you want. I also tend to transfer the batter to a jug as this makes it much easier when it comes to frying the pancakes.

Pancake batter

To cook the pancakes:

  1. Heat a few drops of oil in your frying pan on a medium/high heat.
  2. Pour in enough batter to coat the bottom of the frying pan.
  3. Cook the pancake on one side for a minute or so until golden brown. Then, using a palette knife or fish slice, turn it over. Or flip it if you’re feeling brave!
  4. Cook on the second side for another minute or so.
  5. Transfer to a plate and keep warm while you cook the rest of the pancakes. Soon you will have a pile of yummy pancakes.

A pile of pancakes.

Now, in our house, we tend not to favour a perfectly round pancake. It’s just not our style! Instead we make crazy shapes and let the batter go where it likes. Then we challenge each other to work out what the pancake resembles – a bit like cloud watching!

Pancake

Apparently this one was “an alien”! That is what most of the ones which don’t really look like anything become!

How you serve them is entirely up to you. Shown below are two of our daughter’s favourites – strawberry with fruit sauce and blueberry with lemon and sugar. They really are yummy! Other combinations we like are chocolate spread with raspberries, ham, cheese and tomato, streaky bacon with maple syrup and simple lemon and sugar. The sky’s the limit so experiment and see what you like best.

Fruity pancakes

Cover any left over pancakes with clingfilm and store in the fridge. You can heat them up with a quick blast in the microwave. True to form, we had pancakes for breakfast this morning and pudding tonight!

Next time – a tutorial on chocolate chip cookies. See you soon!

Chocolate lollies

Did you have some candy melts or chocolate left over from my cake pops recipe? Here’s a simple idea to use up any left overs.

Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.

Place spoonfuls of the melted chocolate or candy melts onto the paper and swirl into a circle (or any shape you fancy!). Add a lolly stick and make sure the end of it is fully covered by the chocolate. The stick should go about half way up the chocolate circle. Cover with sprinkles or mini sweets.

Place in the fridge or a cool place and allow to set. Remove from the paper and the lollies are ready to eat!

These are so simple to make that they are perfect for kids to do. They would be perfect for your child to make for a Fathers Day gift.

Chocolate lollies