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Advent Calendar Day 19: Chocolate Hazelnut Cupcakes

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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 her’s 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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6 more sleeps!!!

Melissa xx

Advent Calendar Day 18: Rocky Road

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I haven’t forgotten to post today, I’ve jusy been mad busy making Christmas goodies….

If you need a last minute gift for a teacher or friend them Nigella’s Christmas rocky road is perfect. It’s extremely quick, easy and adaptable. I’ve changed the original recipe from her book Nigella’s Christmas, adding in cranberries, Maltesers and digistives.

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Ingredients :
400 grams milk chocolate
175 grams soft butter
4 tablespoons golden syrup
200 grams amaretti biscuits/digestives
150 grams Maltesers
100 grams cranberries
200grams mini marshmallows
1 tablespoon icing sugar
edible glitter

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Chop the chocolate small and then put into a heavy-based pan to melt with the butter and syrup over a gentle heat.

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Break up all the biscuits and Maltesers; you want some pieces to crunch and some sandy rubble.

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Take the pan off the heat, and add the crushed biscuits, Maltesers, cranberries and mini-marshmallows. Turn carefully to coat everything with syrupy chocolate.

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Tip into a tray ( 9¼ x 12 inches), smoothing the top as best you can, although it will look bumpy. Refrigerate until firm enough to cut, which will take about 1½–2 hours.

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Melt the white chocolate and pour over the top, and refrigerate for several minutes. Finally sprinkle with glitter…

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Melissa xx

Advent Calendar Day 17: Oreo Pops

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Am I the only person that has never tasted an Oreo, that all American famous cookie-biscuit thing? Sharon Hearne-Smith uses Oreos in her easy peasy doughnut cake pops in her book #NoBakeBaking. I used the recipe to make another couple of edible festive gifts.

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Ingredients :
2x154g packs Oreo cookies
100g full fat cream cheese
100g white chocolate
Edible sprinkles

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Blend the Oreo cookies to fine crumbs in a food processor, add the cream cheese and blend again until the mixture becomes a shiny dough.

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At this stage Sharon made little doughnut shapes out of her mixture, whereas I left mine as balls. I lay them on a sheet of parchment paper and placed them in the fridge to firm up.

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Melt the white chocolate over a bowl of hot water. Place a stick into the ball and then cover the Oreo ball with white chocolate or dribble the chocolate back and forth.

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Cover with edible sprinkles and chill in the fridge until completely set. Finally, pop into gift bags.

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Melissa xx

Advent Calendar Day 16: Cookies and Biscuits

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Everyone in blog land seems to be baking cookies and biscuits. Here’s a round up of my favourite ideas to use for festive pressies. There’s something for everyone, healthy, sugary, chocolatey… Enjoy!

This is one of my recipes from last year…. My choc chip cookies.

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These gorgeous healthy banana oat cookies are from Feast Wisely.

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A Pug in the Kitchen has these moreish chocolate kiss thumbprints.

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Jess has got giant molasses cookies over at Cooking is my Sport.

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These beautiful gingerbread cookies can be found over at Butter Basil and Breadcrumbs.

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The Baking Beardy has cute peppermint kiss cookies.

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Finally, Sophies Foodie Files has vegan spelt double chocolate crunchy cookies

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Right, i’m off to make some of my own!

Melissa xx

Advent Calendar Day 15: No Bake Baking

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I’ve started making edible Christmas gifts and have used my ‘cookery book of the year’ to help. Sharon Hearne-Smith’s No Bake Baking is full of gift ideas. I started with her flash florentines and substituted some of the fruit and nuts with others, as she suggested.

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Ingredients:
50g unsalted butter
100g caster sugar
100g soft brown light sugar
50g creme fraiche
1 piece of stem ginger, finely chopped
150g nuts (I used almonds and hazelnuts)
100g cranberries
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
50g chocolate

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The fruit and nut mix

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I melted the butter in a medium pan over a low heat. I added the sugars and turned up the heat, stirring for 5 minutes until smooth and gooey.

Then I carefully stired in the creme fraiche, stirring over a high heat until the sugars dissolved and the mixture thickened.

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I removed the mixture from the heat and stired in the fruit, ginger, nuts, bicarb and vanilla.

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I dropped the mixture onto a lined baking sheet, flattening into discs and left them to cool in the fridge.

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Once the florentines were set, I melted the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of water. I allowed the chocolate to cool before spreading the back of each florentine with chocolate, popping it back on the tray and back in the fridge.

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I gifted the florentines in these cute Santa food grade boxes, seperating each florentine with parchment paper. Such an easy recipe and very tasty!

Melissa xx

Advent Calendar Day 13: It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas
Everywhere you go
Take a look in the Five and Ten
Glistening once again
With candy canes and silver lanes aglow

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas
Toys in every store
But the prettiest sight to see
Is the holly that will be
On your own front door

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A pair of Hop-a-long boots and a pistol that shoots
Is the wish of Bonny and Ben
Dolls that will talk and go for a walk
Is the hope of Janice and Jenn
And mom and dad can hardly wait
For school to start again

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas
Everywhere you go
There’s a tree in the Grand Hotel
One in the park as well
The sturdy kind that doesn’t mind the snow

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas
Soon the bells will start
And the thing that will make them ring
Is the Carol that you sing
Right within your heart

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I thought this little festive drink might warm you all up…

Melissa xx

Advent Calendar Day 12: Shimmery Cupcakes

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It’s 12th December and I’m half way through my Advent calendar…. I hope you are all enjoying it?

So it’s Fiesta Friday once again and I’m bringing another shimmery explosion to Angie’s place!

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I made some wonderfully colourful cupcakes for my Godson and his family. I knew he’d be excited about Christmas when I visited, so I wanted to bring him something special.

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.

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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

Topping:
1 can of chocolate icing
1 can gold shimmer spray
1 can 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.

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

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

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

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My Godson thanked me for the cupcakes by drawing me a beautiful picture. I hope Santa can bring me a tiara like the one in the drawing!

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Melissa xx

Advent Calendar Day 10: Christmas Cake part 1

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I love Christmas cake and over the years I’ve been brave enough to adapt other people’s recipes and this post describes what I’ve come up with.

I don’t see the point of using ingredients that I don’t enjoy eating. I use the dried fruits that I like, I hate mixed peel, so I leave it out. I prefer a spicy rum to brandy, so I use rum!

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Ingredients :
500g of dried fruit; raisins, dates, sultanas, cranberries etc
150ml rum
225g butter
200g sugar
4 eggs
Granted rind of 1 lemon and 1 orange
1tbsp black treacle
225g plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
100g nuts; walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds etc.

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I put all the fruit in a bowl, poured the spicy rum in and left to soak over night.

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The following day I preheated the oven to as low as it would go, about 110°C or gas mark 1/4. I lined the tin on the inside and then double lined the outside and tied with string.

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Then I creamed the butter and the sugar in a bowl until fluffy, I gradually  beat in the eggs and added in the treacle and grated citrus rind.

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I sifted the flour, salt, baking powder and spices into a seperate bowl, then folded in the egg mixture. Finally I folded in the soaked fruit, rum and nuts, then spooned the mixture into the prepared tin.

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I baked the mixture for about 3 hours. It was begining to brown too quickly, so I covered it with foil. Then I used the inserted skewer trick to check when the cake was cooked!

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I made this Christmas cake a few weeks ago and have been feeding it every week since with rum; I pierced the cake several times with a skewer and lightly drizzled rum over the cake.

To be continued…

Melissa xx

Advent Calendar Day 5: Festive Birthday Cake

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For those of you that don’t know, I’m blogging every day in the run up to Christmas! I’m calling my posts my Advent calendar, because instead of opening a door to a chocolate calendar I’m sharing a post with you.

I went a bit mad this week; I had a birthday cake to make and thought it deserved a festive sparkle! The cake was for a very special lady who loves baking too, so I needed to pull out all the stops. I decided to make my normal sponge with strawberries and cream, THEN make it gold and sparkly!

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

Butter Icing:
75g butter
125g icing sugar
1 tablespoon cocoa
1 teaspoon hot water

Decoration:
1 punnet of strawberries
Carton of double cream
Caramel sauce

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. It’s so quick and easy!

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So I made the chocolate sponge as normal and sandwiched the two halves together with whipped cream. Then I started to spray the whole thing gold!

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I used Dr Oetker’s shimmer spay in gold to spray fine layers over the cake to build up the colour. Then I sprayed parts of the strawberries, I wanted the natural red colour to shine through as well.

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I piped some chocolate butter icing around the edge and in the middle to attach the strawberries to the cake.

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I drizzled shop bought caramel sauce (the type you get for icecream) over the top.

It went down a treat, everyone enjoyed it, especially the crazy gold aspect. It was light with a freshness from the strawberries.

I’m bringing this cake to Angie’s place for Fiesta Friday! Enjoy!

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Melissa xx

Advent Calendar Day 3: Mince Pies

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So it’s the 3rd December and day number 3 of my 24 day Advent calendar. I think it’s time for a little, easy cheat recipe…

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I love mince pies and I have to admit it’s the only thing about Christmas goodies coming into the shops in October that I like. I love good quality shop bought mince pies with biscuity shortcrust pastry or flakey buttery puff pastry. I enjoy mincemeat that is sweet, fruity and a little spicy.

Last year I shared my recipe for Apple mincemeat, I had a couple of jars sealed and stashed away for this year.

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I’m using shop bought puff pastry to show you just how easy mince pies are to make. If you’re feeling adventurous, you could make my pate sucree, a sweet shortcrust pastry. Or if you have a couple of hours to turn and roll out pastry, you could try my rough puff pastry.

If not, lay out your shop bought ready rolled puff pastry. Use a pastry cutter or ramakin dish to shape and cut a circle out of the pastry and use a smaller cutter or egg up to shape the top smaller piece of pastry.

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Place the larger of the circles in the cake/cup cake tin. Spoon in a dollop of mincemeat in and then place the smaller pastry circle on top. Fork around the edges to seal the pies. Finally, poke a hole or small cut in the top to let the steam out.

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You can freeze the mince pies at this stage in the the tin and then transfer into a freezer bag or tub.

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I brushed my mince piese with beaten egg and sprinkled some caster sugar, before putting in at oven at gas mark 4 or 150 degrees. If your’s are frozen, drop the temperature a little and pop them straight in the oven.

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Serve with a snowy sprinkle of icing sugar and a dollop of whipped cream or some custard. Time to pop the kettle on…

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Melissa xx