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Advent Calendar Day 7: Shimmering Cupcakes

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So I missed December 6th…. Having worked my day off and then driven half way across the country I was a little tired. Anyway, it’s Monday, it’s the 7th of December and it’s time for my favourite Christmas post from last year….

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The shimmery cupcake recipe is a perfect one to do with children, it’s very simple to do. It uses my fail safe chocolate muffin recipe with shop bought icing.

Chocolate cupcake Ingredients:
100g butter
150g brown sugar
2 eggs
200g plain flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoon cocoa powder
180ml milk

Topping:
1 can of Dr Oetker’s chocolate icing
1 can of Dr Oetker’s gold shimmer spray
1 can of Dr Oetker’s silver shimmer spray

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Line a cupcake tin with foil cases. Preheat the oven to 190°/ gas mark 5 or turn your Rayburn off! Cream the butter and sugar, then add in the eggs. Sift in all the dry ingredients and then add the milk. Spoon the mixture into the cases.

Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes, then leave to cool completely.

I used the cupcake icing to top each cake and left them to set.

I covered the table with newspaper and starting spraying! It was great fun building up the shimmering layers.

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Melissa xx

Happy Birthday Me!

I’m another year older and for the first time, I actually feel wiser! I’ve done so much over the last year, started and new job AND started researching for my dream of having my own teashop.  No doubt the next year of my life will be just as busy and exciting. Whatever happens, I can guarantee that there’ll be cake along the way!

So what better way to celebrate than by making my own birthday cake.

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Chocolate Celebration Cake

Ingredients:
200g good-quality plain chocolate, chopped
200g butter
100ml water
125g self-raising flour
125g plain four
25g cocoa powder
200g light muscovado sugar
200g golden caster sugar
3 free-range eggs
75ml/2½fl oz crème fraîche

For the vanilla buttercream icing:
100g unsalted butter, softened
200g icing sugar
vanilla
milk, to loosen

For the topping:
200g dark chocolate
100g butter
40ml tblsp water
1 punnet of strawberries

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Preheat the oven to 170C. Grease and line two 8in sandwich tins.

Melt the chocolate, butter and water together in a saucepan over a low heat, stirring occasionally, until smooth. Set aside to cool slightly. Meanwhile, sift the flours and cocoa powder into a bowl and mix in the muscovado and caster sugar.

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Beat the eggs and crème fraîche together in a separate bowl, then beat in the chocolate mixture. Fold in the flour mixture until smooth.

Divide the cake batter between the tins and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the top is firm to the touch.

Meanwhile, for the vanilla buttercream, beat the butter in a bowl until soft, then gradually beat in the icing sugar. Add the vanilla  and add a few drops of milk if the mixture is a little stiff.

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For the ganache I used the recipe on the back of the Dr Oetker Extra Dark Chocolate pack.

Put 200g chopped Dr. Oetker 90% Chocolate into a heatproof bowl with 100g unsalted butter and 40ml water. Put over saucepan of barely simmering water and stir until melted. Remove from the water and cool for about 20 minutes to thicken.

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Put a cake on a wire rack over a large plate. Spoon ganache over the top, letting it run down the sides. Tap the wire rack to smooth the surface.

Finally, I covered the top of the cake with a punnet of fresh strawberries.

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I’ve been spoilt rotten with cards, presents and flowers. I’m truly blessed.

Melissa xx

Cupcakes galore!

The last few weeks have been cupcake crazy, so this post is a look back at all the wonderful goodies that were produced!

Last weekend I made a gorgeous box of lemon meringue and strawberry purée cupcakes.  They were AMAZING! They were the nicest cupcakes I’ve ever had; nice and light with a not-to-sweet icing.

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Strawberry Purée Cupcakes
Based on Rachel Allen’s recipe from ‘Cake’

125 g butter, softened
200 g caster sugar
3 eggs
150 ml milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
300 g plain flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

For the icing
150 g fresh strawberries
1 tbsp lemon juice
175 g butter, softened
600 g icing sugar, sifted

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Preheat the oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 3. Line a 12-cup muffin tray with paper cases. I actually got 18 out of the mixture.

Cream the butter until soft in a large bowl or in an electric food mixer. Add the sugar and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy.

Whisk the eggs together in a small bowl for a few seconds just until mixed, then gradually add them to the creamed butter mixture, beating all the time.

Beat in the milk, followed by the vanilla extract, then sift in the flour, baking powder and salt and fold in gently to combine.

Divide the mixture between the muffin cases, filling each case about two-thirds full. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until well risen, lightly golden in colour and springy to the touch. Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then remove from the tin and place on a wire rack to cool completely.

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For the icing: Place the strawberries and lemon juice in a food processor and whiz for about a minute to purée them. Push through a sieve into a bowl, then set aside.

In a separate bowl, cream together the butter and icing sugar until combined, then gradually add the fruit purée, beating slowly.

Pipe the icing onto the cakes and decorate each cake with half a strawberry.

In mid August I made these scrumptious sparkling chocolate cupcakes for my Godson’s birthday. Find the basic sponge recipe here.

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Finally, I made these gorgeous girly strawberry-in-the-middle cupcakes using Dr Oetker Easy Swirl Pink Cupcake Icing and Heart Marshmallows!

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Right, I’m off to start planning cupcakes for my own birthday…. 6 days to go! Before I go, I’m bringing these goodies over to Fiesta Friday

Melissa xx

White Chocolate and Raspberry Cheesecake

It’s been a whole month since I last wrote or posted anything.

Life has been extremely busy.

The new job is taking up my time- far too much of my time, if I’m honest. Don’t get me wrong, I love it but I seem to have abandoned everything else. That’s not ok. So, sitting at the kitchen table, with a cuppa and a pile of books… I’m back!

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August was bonkers. We had lots of visitors, so in between work I managed to do a bit of baking. I wish I had time to bake more often. I find myself commuting to work dreaming of baking. Life is so hard!!!

One of the quick, easy recipes I used this summer was from the Cooks Academy in Dublin. Their White Chocolate and Raspberry Cheesecake has been a favourite recipe at the school for the last ten years. It’s the perfect dessert for entertaining and thanks to Tim, Vanessa and Darina I pulled it off!

White Chocolate and Raspberry Cheesecake

Ingredients:
180g ginger nut biscuits
50g butter, melted
400g cream cheese
60g caster sugar
½ lemon, zested, and juiced
300g good quality white chocolate, chopped
300ml fresh cream, stiffly whipped
250g fresh raspberries

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Method:
Crush the biscuits in a plastic bag with a rolling pin, until they resemble breadcrumbs.  Stir the melted butter thoroughly into the biscuits.  Press into the base of a greased 20cm tin and chill in the fridge for 10 mins until the base is slightly hardened. 

Using an electric whisk, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, lemon zest and juice, until smooth.  

Melt the white chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water.  Once melted, slowly pour the chocolate into the beaten ingredients, whisking as you do so.  Fold in the whipped cream. 

To assemble the cheesecake, scatter half the raspberries over the biscuit base and pour half the cream filling over.  Repeat with the remaining raspberries and filling and level the top with the back of a spoon.  Leave to chill in the fridge for 4 hours or overnight.

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If you fancy doing a short course at the Cooks Academy too, they are offering 20% off on their website until Friday 4th September.

Melissa xx

Tribute to Selma-Ambassador Cupcakes

This is the post from December last year that was inspired by Selma. She inspired and helped me a lot. When I first joined Twitter she gave me LOADS of advice with what to do and how to get notice. She was like a blogging Mummy. I’m going to miss her. I’m posting this, along with lots of others at the special addition of this weeks Fiesta Friday and to Selma’s blog .

Back in October, Selma made ambassador cupcakes using Ferrero Rocher chocolates for her son’s birthday. They looked so luxurious and elegant, that I tucked the idea away for Christmas….

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So fast forward two months and armed with Selma’s idea, two boxes of chocolates, some gold cupcake cases and some shimmer spray, I’m ready! I’m using my trusty chocolate cake mix instead of Selma’s, but I’ll use hers next time.

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Chocolate cupcake Ingredients:
100g butter
150g brown sugar
2 eggs
200g plain flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoon cocoa powder
180ml milk
1 box of Forrero Rocher

Topping:
1 can of chocolate icing
1 can gold shimmer spray
Toasted Hazelnuts
1 box of Forrero Rocher

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Line a cupcake tin with foil cases. Preheat the oven to 190°/ gas mark 5 or turn your Rayburn off! Cream the butter and sugar, then add in the eggs. Sift in all the dry ingredients and then add the milk.

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Spoon the mixture into the cases until half full. Pop a chocolate in the middle and spoon a small amount of mixture on top. Pop into the oven for 15 minutes.

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Once cooled, pipe chocolate icing on top of the cake. Then, depending on how high your icing is, place a whole chocolate on top (or a half like I did). Sprinkle with hazelnuts and spray with shimmer!!!!

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I’m bringing these delights to Angie’s for a festive fiesta friday!

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Melissa xx

Taste of Dublin

I went to Taste of Dublin in Iveagh Gardens yesterday. There were live bands playing as I wondered around from restaurant to food stall. There were also lots of live demonstrations and famous chefs!

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I started with cake, of course I did! Le Patissier had an amazing display of goodies. They had won both Gold and Silver at the Blas na hEireann Irish Food Awards in 2014.

I tried the chocolate indulgence which had a beautiful chocolate mousse inside with a raspberry coulis. I wish I’d gone back to try everything.

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I visited the Glenisk stand and got a scrummy Glenisk Banana with Milk Chocolate and Caramel Yogurt Cup!

Ingredients:
4 tbsp Glenisk Organic Greek Style Natural Yogurt
½ banana, sliced
1 tbsp caramel or Dulce de Leche
1 tbsp milk chocolate, chopped

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I had a great chicken dish at Saba, how do they do their rice?

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Harvey Nichols’ restaurant Rock Lobster served up fish and chips… Shame some of the chips were hard!

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The Dumpling Pot Sticker from Soder and Ko was amazing. I’ve never been to the restaurant, but I definitely will be! They serve a creative blend of Scandinavian and Asian inspired food and drink. They partnered with Hop House 13, the latest beer from The Brewers Project at St James Gate.

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Dr Dr Doolittle really enjoyed Crean’s beer AND their little make shift pub!

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I bought a couple of packs of One-der blend by Patels 1941. It’s a versatile spice blend that can create 10 different currys. What a fantastic idea. I also love the fact that Ramen Patel Jr’s background is similar to mine; born in Ireland with an Irish Mother, and Indian Father who was born in Africia.

The company had won a competition to have a stall at the event and it seemed to be very busy. I’m so excited for them, and wish them every success!

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I bought a bottle of truffle oil from Pukara Estate…. fancy!!!

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I met The Cupcake Bloke! He gave me a garland (and a huge scone), and I bought these six stunning cupcakes. I’ll update you all on my Facebook and Twitter page as I eat them….

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I had a great time but I spent a lot; it wasn’t cheap when you consider the ticket price, the food and drink prices and then any bits and pieces you might buy, but it was fun!

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Thanks Cupcake Bloke!

Melissa xx

Chocolate Skillery

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Last night I attended a Chocolate Skillery evening hosted by Food and Wine Magazine in Dublin. They were showcasing the fantastic Dr Oetker chocolate products with the help of Irish chef Andrew Rudd. His establishment, Medley, was buzzing with 40 guests eager to learn more about chocolate.

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Creme Anglaise

He cooked up some fabulous chocolate treats using Dr Oetker’s chocolate which has been designed specifically for the home baker. Creamy creme patissiere with Tia Maria and silky creme anglaise both using the excellent 72% chocolate.

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Creme Pat

There are loads of fantastic recipes on the Dr Oetker website including the Dark Chocolate and Pistachio Bark and the Caramel Kiss Chocolate Brownies that I tasted last night. Andrew explained that you can add chilli pepper or sea salt to the caramel in the brownies too. You can also seperate the egg whites from the yolks when mixing into the batter to give the brownies a couple of extra days shelf life!

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Brownies

I was fascinated by the light, crunchie chocolate covered honeycomb that he made and am sharing the recipe here….

Ingredients
For the Honeycomb:
Dr. Oetker Cake Release Spray
150g Granulated Sugar
30ml Dr. Oetker Liquid Glucose
30ml Honey
Dr. Oetker Bicarbonate of Soda Sachets x 2 (2 tsp)
100g Dr. Oetker Fine Cooks’ Milk Chocolate

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Spray a deep 18cm (7inch) square cake tin with Cake Release Spray to grease. Place the sugar in a large saucepan with the Liquid Glucose, honey and 30ml (2 tbsp) of water. Heat and stir gently, until the sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil and cook, without stirring, for about 3 minutes until the mixture turns a deep, golden caramel.

Remove from the heat and quickly stir in the Bicarbonate of Soda thoroughly – the mixture will immediately foam in the saucepan. Quickly pour into the prepared tin whilst still foaming. Leave to cool and set and carefully remove from the tin. Put upside down on a board lined with baking parchment.

Break the chocolate into small pieces and place into a large heatproof bowl. Stand over a bowl of barely simmering water until melted. Remove from the water and cool for 10 minutes.

Pour the chocolate on top of the honeycomb. Tap the board gently so that the chocolate runs down the sides smoothly and evenly. Stand in a cool place to set – only refrigerate if the air temperature is warm and chill for 30 minutes maximum.

When the chocolate has set, cut the honeycomb into chunks using a large bladed knife. Store the honeycomb in an airtight container between layers of greaseproof paper.

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The tasting plate we were served included chocolate and pistachio bark, chocolate curls and a chocolate and caramel brownie, but my favourite by miles was the chocolate covered honeycomb!

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I had a great evening and came away with a lovely Dr Oetker chocolate goodie bag, it’ll be a very happy Easter indeed!

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Melissa xx

Guinness Chocolate cake

It’s nearly St Patrick’s Day and every foodie in the land seems to be posting an alcoholic cake of some sort, (not helping the Irish stereotype of course), so I thought I would too! I’ve only ever used alcohol in Christmas cakes, never in a normal cake, so this was an interesting challenge. It would have bee easy to have used Donal Skehan’s recipe, or Nigella’s but I decided I’d amend one of my own.

2015-03-13-09-30-23_decoI didn’t take any photographs while I was making the cake as I was making dinner at the time, but the recipe is easy!

Ingredients:

100g butter
150g brown sugar
2 eggs
200g plain flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoon cocoa powder
100 ml Guinness
80ml milk

2015-03-13-09-34-06_decoButter Icing:
75g butter
125g icing sugar
50ml Irish Cream Liqueur

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and line a 10inch cake pan. Cream the butter and sugar together and then beat in the eggs one by one.  Sift in the dry ingredients and fold together with a metal spoon. Pour in the milk and Guinness and mix. Place in the oven for about 34-40 minutes.

2015-03-13-09-32-06_decoRemove the cake from the oven and leave to cool completely. Meanwhile, sift the icing sugar into a bowl and mix with the butter. Slowly add in the liqueur and then leave mixture to firm up slightly. Finally, spread the icing over the cooled chocolate cake and serve!

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The cake turned out lovely and moist! So I’m taking what is left of it to Angie’s place. Happy Fiesta Friday….. AND HAPPY ST PATRICK’S DAY TOO!!!

Melissa xx

P.S. I received a lovely gift from a local company today, so watch out for a second St. Patrick’s Day post next week!

Kookee cookies

Several weeks ago a local company sent me six samples of their produce, asking for honest feedback. I was that impressed that I decided to write a full post about them!

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6 mixes

Kookee is a family run Artisan business that started in County Louth in 2009. They specialise in “high quality” cookies. Their products range from freshly baked cookies, frozen uncooked dough for restaurants and deli counters and an easy make dry mix so you can create your own cookies at home. Their ingredients are locally sourced, and are of the highest quality, several of their cookie mixes are also Gluten free. Kookee’s website explains the heart warming story behind the brand, explaining that the inspiration for Kookee came from spending Saturday mornings baking.

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Add 1 egg and 100g butter

I decided to start with the Triple Chocolate Chip cookie mix (no surprise there); I was impressed to read that it contained ‘normal ingredients’, ingredients that I would use when baking, such as brown sugar and baking powder not unheard of replacements.

I emptied the mix into a bowl and followed the instructions. I set the oven to 180 degrees and insured my butter was at room temperature. After that it was easy, stir in the butter and one egg into the mix!

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making cookies

I stirred the mix until a dough was formed (really easy to do), they I made 16 little balls and placed them on a baking sheet. Finally, I flattened the balls out and placed the baking sheet into the preheated oven.

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fresh cookies

After about 15 minutes I had these wonderful fresh cookies! I left them to cool for a minute on the baking tray before transferring them onto a wire rack.

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fresh cookies

I was really impressed that the large white, dark and milk chocolate chips had stayed intact, giving the cookie that fantastic chocolate flavour.

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Just how I like my cookies

Next, I tried the Gluten free Coconut and Cranberry mix. THE SMELL!!!!!!!! As soon as I opened the packet I was hit buy a delicious fresh coconut smell and I could see large dried cranberries. Just like the chocolate chips, I was impressed by the quality ingredients that had been used. These cookies would be great for someone that isn’t a chocolate fan, but who likes a treat with a cuppa.

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Milk and cookies

The Kookee website also gave me another idea; when is a cookie not a cookie???? Er, when you can adapt the mix to use for other things! Their blog was full of great ideas, so I thought I’d give one of them a bash with the third packet…

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Great idea!

I used the Gluten free Oatmeal and Chocolate mix to make a crumble topping to go with some soft pears from the fruit bowl. All I had to do was rub 100g of butter into the mixture and pop it on top of the fruit. I should point out that I sprinkled some cinnamon onto of the pears before I added the crumble…

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crumble mix

I popped the crumble into a preheated oven (180 degrees) for about 40 minutes. I let it cool for a couple of minutes before serving it up. It was crunchy and biscuit-y which matched the soft juicy fruit perfectly. A really clever idea!

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fresh apple and pear crumble

So, my verdict…. What great products! I’d highly recommend them if you want a quick child friendly bake for the children or if you need something sweet to serve up with a pot of coffee.

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Kookee crumble and Kookee cookies!

Melissa xx

Advent Calendar Day 20: Edible goodie round up

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It’s the weekend before Christmas, so I thought I’d bring you a collection of all the edible pressies I’ve made just on case you need a last minute gift!

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Delicious mince pie with homemade mincemeat in flakey puff pastry.

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Fabulous no-bake festive florentines with cranberries and nuts.

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Special chocolate shimmer cakes.

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Crazy oreo pops with an assortment of sprinkles.

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Cranberry, Malteser and marshmallow rocky road.

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Stunning Forrero Rocher cupcakes for very special people!

Melissa xx