Monday, 19 August 2013

Nectarine, Onion and Chilli Chutney - Ideal for Christmas Hampers

Sorry for the rubbish photo - but it was just a snap taken on my phone. I had not really thought of putting this recipe on the blog.

Basically, it was making use of some beautiful nectarines that were partially frozen due to being stuck to the back of the fridge !

Nicola - since you asked.... here it is - just for you.

This is a simple, bung it all in a pot recipe and it made 3 jars. I think they were 12 oz size. This was so good, I need to make some more in preparation for Christmas hampers

If you taste this when it's hot, it's going to be quite firey - surprisingly so ! However, the heat from the chilli was quite mild by the time it cooled down and I think I'll add an extra chilli next time.


4 nectarines
1 onion
1 large red chilli (incl seeds)
150g white sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1.1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp of hot chilli powder
2 star anise
150mls cider vinegar
1/2 > 1 tsp of salt (to taste)

Basically, bung the lot in a pot. Cover and let bubble away until onions are translucent and fruit is soft and pulpy.

Remove lid and let it bubble some more until thickened. 

Decant whilst still hot into warm, sterilised jars.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Snowy Mountains (Recipe) - They Knock The Socks Off Rocky Road !

I've never been a fan of rocky road - it sounds too good to be true, but for me never really delivers.

I think it's the teeny weeny commercially produced marshmallows that most people add in which are rubbery and lack any form of flavour, coupled with too much chocolate.... it's just not worth the calories.

I also don't like the pink and white mallow things tossed in coconut and sandwiched between two cardboard tasting wafers. The concept is great but they are such a let down if you've ever actually eaten one.....

Snowy Mountains are my idea of a hybrid version of those pink and white mallow thingies and rocky road. 

I must say, I'm delighted how they actually turned out...... Pillowy white clouds of soft and divine marshmallow on top of a crunchy chocolate and biscuit base.

This recipe could be really versatile. Feel free to try your own flavours of marshmallow and perhaps even add a dollop of jam or chocolate ganache (nutella even) before popping the biscuit layer on the bottom. If you are still scared of making marshmallow at home, watch me make these on the tutorial video at the bottom of this page.

RECIPE - makes 24

500g white, granulated sugar
2 egg whites
2 sachets of gelatine granules (1 sachet sets 1 pint of liquid)
1 (or 2!) tsp vanilla extract
100g desiccated coconut
400g of chocolate
360g coconut cookies

Prepare 3 x 8 rectangular recessed silicone bakeware moulds by oiling or lightly spraying with cake release spray and rubbing in.

Put the sugar in a large pan with 250mls of water and bring to a boil. There is no need to stir.

Empty the two gelatine sachets into 125mls of cold water, stir and set aside for about 10 mins to bloom.

Put the two egg whites in a large bowl.

You will need a sugar thermometer. When the temperature on the sugar thermometer reads 110deg C, start whipping your whites with a hand held mixer to firm peaks.

When the sugar syrup reaches 122deg C, remove from the heat. Let it sitt for a few seconds until it stops bubbling, then stir in the gelatine.

Pour the syrup into the egg whites, whilst running the hand mixer on high. It will look really soupy at this stage. Keep whipping the living daylights out of it until the mixture is almost cool and clinging to the beaters - but still pourable.

Put the marshmallow mixture into an 18" disposable piping bag. Pipe the mallow into the cells of all the moulds, to within approx 5mm of the top.

Set aside for approx 1 hour to firm up.

Melt 500g of chocolate (in 30 second bursts) in the microwave. Crush 360g of coconut cookies and mix into the chocolate. Use a spoon or a fork to put this on top of the mallows and fill the remaining space in each cell of the mould.

Pop in the fridge for 10 > 20 mins.

When the chocolate has hardened, pop the mallows out of the moulds. Roll in desiccated coconut for a finishing touch,

Enjoy ! 

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Luxury Dried Fruit & Nut Biscotti - The Christmas Hamper Bakeoff

What makes you think more of Christmas than the smell of mixed spices in the air, hot chocolate, mulled wine and cookies. 

Yes, COOKIES. There is little better than Christmas cookies !

Biscotti have to be one of my favourites. Crispy, crunchy, nutty, fruity. Chocolatey too if you want them to be. They store well, are gratefully received and are great for dunking. Pair them up with some homemade marshmallows and a chocolate spoon or two for a match made in heaven.

I love them with the addition of cinnamon (2tsp) - but they are equally good without. The Frangelico can be subsituted with Amaretto, Cointreau or even a bit more beaten egg.

RECIPE - makes approx 75 pieces

425g flour
375g caster sugar
400g luxury mix of dried fruit and nuts
2 beaten eggs
2tsp baking powder
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tablespoon Frangelico

extra flour for rolling

Pre-heat oven to 150deg C Fan

Prepare two baking trays by lining with silicone baking tray liners or baking parchment.

Sift flour, sugar and baking powder, then mix together.

Beat the eggs, vanilla and frangelico and combine with the dry ingredients.

Bring together until a dough forms. If too wet, you can add some more flour. It should be a bit sticky.

Now add in the dried fruit and nuts. The mix I use includes half walnuts, whole hazelnuts, almonds and peanuts. Also dried cranberries, rasins, apricots and cherries.

Separate the dough into 6 equal pieces.

Roll each piece into a long sausage, approx 1.1/2" / 4cm in diameter.

Place 3 sausages on each tray - spaced well apart.

Bake for approx 20 mins until pale but just starting to take on a hint of golden colour.

Remove from oven and allow to cool on the tray for 5 > 10 mins before slicing each log on the diagonal into 1.5cm / 5/8" thick slices.

Place the slices face down on a baking tray and bake for another 8 mins (approx), then turn and repeat on the other side.

Allow to cool on a wire rack.

Once cool, your biscotti can be drizzled with some chocolate or left plain.

Keep in an airtight container or package in cello bags as gifts.

Sarah-Jane Nash, - August 2013

Monday, 5 August 2013

Sweeney Todd Halloween Cakes with Chocolate Fingers - Gruesome !

Yes - this IS just cake, fondant, chocolate and some piping gel with food colouring...

The cake has been made to look like a meat pie. 

I've had this idea of making Sweeney Todd cakes for Halloween for some time, so created a new silicone bakeware mould to make chocolate or cookie FINGERS  that really do look like fingers !

This mould is a unique registered design belonging to , and is being released today for the first time at £4.50 per mould.

Our 6 cell Spooky Fingers chocolate mould makes six life-size cookie or chocolate fingers. It is suitable for use in the freezer down to -40deg C or in the oven up to +260deg C. Do always use on a baking tray for support.

 The fingers you see in these pictures (other than mine) are made from white chocolate with a tiny bit of Wilton red Candy colour added to give it a fleshy colour.

Note that if colouring chocolate, you cannot use gel paste colourings for fondant / icing. They MUST be oil based - hence why you need to use the candy colours.

You could make spooky witches finger cookies for halloween and place a nut on the nail bed with some icing..... or green chocolate zombie fingers and fill them with red coloured fondant centres.

These are bound to be a hit for all ages - though a few may take a step back in horror !

You could also use coloured sugarpaste or modeling chocolate if you want to be able to bend the fingers at the knuckles.

If there is enough local interest, I'd also be happy to put on a 3 hour evening class in October at our new Cookery School in Attleborough, Norfolk for those that want to make Sweeney Todd cakes. Please email us or call 01953 457699 to register interest.

I'd love to see what you do with our latest release mold. 

Happy Baking !

Sarah-Jane Nash, August 2013

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Brilliant Banana Brownies - A Little Cake Tester's Idea !

Me : "Would you like to go to the beach today ?"

Oliver : "No - I'm going with Emma next week Mummy. I want to ride my new gocart a long long way and then you can make me some brilliant banana brownies...... That is an alliteration I can eat you know !"

That did make me laugh as he'd obviously been thinking that one up. Oliver is due to start school in a few weeks and really is ready to go. He does love to make up alliterations with big bad burps probably being one of his all-time favourites.

Well - I haven't actually baked in ages and there were some very ripe spotty bananas in the kitchen. 

Can't remember last time we had cake in the house. Given Steve and Michael were off out today and given Oliver wanted to stay home - gocarting and brownies it was.

I've made the BBC Best Ever Brownies recipe a few times before, and very good it is too. I decided to use it as a starting point on this occasion and work around what I thought may work best and what we had in the cupboards.

185g salted butter
185g milk chocolate
3 large eggs
250g white sugar
85g plain flour
75g cocoa powder
130g mashed ripe bananas
65g milk chocolate (chopped)
65g white chocolate (chopped)
2tsp vanilla extract

Melt the salted butter and milk chocolate together in the microwave (takes approx 1min) and then set aside.

Beat the 3eggs and sugar plus vanilla together with an electric mixer for about 6 or 7 mins until really thick and fluffy.

Fold the melted butter / chocolate mix into the whipped eggs and sugar to combine..

Sieve in the plain flour and cocoa powder, then fold in until just combined. 

Now fold in the banana and chopped chocolate.

Put into an 8" square silicone baking pan. For brownies, I like to prep this with a big strip of baking parchment covering the base and up two sides - it just makes it really easy to lift out later.

Bake in a fan over at 160deg C for approx 30mins. The top will be set, but the brownie will still be a tiny bit wobbly in the middle. A tooth pick will come out sticky from the centre.

Allow to cool, then transfer to the fridge for an hour or so before cutting. It should be a bit squidgy in the middle.

Serve as it is with a cup of coffee or glass of milk - or warm and serve with vanilla ice cream.

Sarah-Jane Nash, August 2013 -

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Strawberries with Rosewater Marshmallows - A Summer Treat !

Sorry the blog has been so quiet for a while - but truth is that a low carb, low fat diet has had a drastic affect on my frequency of baking......

The good thing about marshmallows is that they are 0% fat - but unfortunately do contain copious amounts of sugar.

Oh well - just one piece and some strawberries for me !

Just as well I've discovered that fresh, homemade mashmallows freeze like a dream. What's more, they come out of the freezer still soft and fluffy (not hard) and ready to eat immediately. Now, that was a surprise.....

NOTE - you DO need a hand held electric mixer (or a stand mixer) to make these

500g caster sugar
250mls water
9 leaves of gelatine
2 egg whites
1 > 2 tsp of rosewater
a few drops of red food colouring (optional)

Separate the egg whites and put them into a large mixing bowl and set aside.

Put the gelatine leaves into some water to soften.

Add the 500g of sugar and 250ml of water to a large pan and bring to the boil. 

When the sugar syrup gets to 110deg C, whip up the egg whites to firm peaks.

Keep boiling until temperature reaches 122deg C. You will need a sugar thermometer like this.

Take the sugar syrup off the heat. Wait for a couple of minutes, then stir in the gelatine sheets. NOTE - it will bubble up quite a bit !

Now, with the mixer running on high, pour the hot syrup into the egg whites whilst whipping continuously. It may look a bit soupy to start with - but whip until cool and thickening. You can now whip in the rosewater and a little colouring if required

Pour into an oiled silicone bakeware mould.

For the swirly look, put a few random drops of food colouring on the surface and drag a cocktail stick through the mallow.

Set aside at room temperature and allow to set for 2 or 3 hours.

It will be very sticky - but will remove easily. Cut with a well oiled knife and toss in an equal mix of seived cornflour and icing (powdered) sugar.

Stores for a few days in an airtight container, or freeze.

Oliver and I, August 2013 x