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Advent Calendar Day 22: Light Christmas Cake

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My Dad loves a good fruit cake, but not the heavy Christmas Cake kind. So at this time of year I make a lighter version for him; less fruit, less eggs, no raising agent and a smaller tin (because he’ll eat the whole thing himself)! This has got all the bits he likes, ginger, spices and loads of fruit.

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Ingredients :
zest and juice 1 orange
zest and juice 1 lemon
140g unsalted butter, softened
140g golden caster sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
175g plain flour
100g raisins
100g dried apricots, roughly chopped
100g cranberries
100g golden sultanas
100g brazil nuts, roughly chopped
50g crystalised ginger
150ml rum
1 tsp mixed spiced
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon

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Soak all the dried fruit in the rum (or tea or apple juice) over night.

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The next day add the brazil nuts and ginger.

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Grease and double-line the base and sides of a deep, 15cm cake tin. Wrap a double layer of greaseproof or brown paper around the outside of the tin, too, then secure with string (with a pretty bow).

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Heat oven to 160C

Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy and light. Beat in the eggs gradually. In a small bowl mix the zest and juice of the orange and lemon.

Fold the flour and spices, then dried fruit, nuts and ginger into the creamed mix, followed by the juice and zest mix.

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Spoon the mix into the prepared tin and bake for 30 mins, then turn oven down to 150C and bake for another 1 hr 45 mins until risen, golden and an inserted skewer comes out clean.

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Leave to cool for 15 mins before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

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The cake will keep well wrapped in a cool place for up to 1 month.

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Happy Christmas Daddy!

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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

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 14:

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My cousin charspillane.com posted a great blog yesterday, so simply put… I’ve nicked the idea and her questions!

Do you like to stay in your PJ’s, or dress up for Christmas Morning
Pj’s…. All day if I could!!

If you could only buy one person a present this year who would it be?
A random stranger, share a bit of love and happiness….

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Last year

Do you open your presents Christmas Eve or Christmas Morning?
Christmas Day at some stage… It tends to be after dinner now I’m a little older…

Have you ever built a Gingerbread house?
No actually…. Must find time to make one (not just buy one).

What do you like to do on your Christmas break?
Chill out and pig out!

Favorite Christmas meal or treat?
The main event itself! I love the whole turkey-ham-stuffing-cranberry-brusselsprout-pancetta-chesnut-roastpotato-carrots-parsnips-gravy-breadsauce meal!

What’s your favorite holiday movie?

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Candy Canes or Gingerbread Men?
Oooh, spicy gingerbread please! Has anyone got a good recipe??

Have you ever made a Snowman?
Yes, but not recently. I remember making them when I was younger in London.

Which do you like better, Christmas Eve or Christmas Day?
Christmas Eve is always too busy running around, so I like the relaxing aspect of Christmas Day.

White lights, or colored lights?
I have coloured in the pantry all year round, but white ones on the tree please.

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Mum and Dads

Have to loudly sing the chorus of Jingle Bells every time you walk into a room for a week or have to wear a Santa suit to school every day for a week.
What the heck, sing Jingle Bells!

Not celebrate Christmas this year or not celebrate your birthday this year
Hmmmmm, I prefer other peoples birthdays,  so I’ll leave mine and celebrate Christmas.

Have Frosty the Snowman for a friend or Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer for a friend
Rudolf would fit in really well at The Glen House!

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Have mistletoe hanging in your bedroom doorway or have a large decorated Christmas tree in your bedroom
Misletoe please ;););)xxxxxxxx

Write a five paragraph essay about the meaning of Christmas or solve a page of Christmas-themed math problem
BORING

Have a job wrapping presents at the mall or have a job taking pictures of children sitting on Santa’s lap at the mall
I love wrapping pressies, but I’d only do it if people were nice and polite!

See the Nut Cracker or dance in the Nut Cracker
Oh cricky, I was rubbish at ballet! I think I only lasted a term or something… So I’d rather go watch it.

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Be given €100 for Christmas to buy things for yourself or be given €1000 before Christmas to use to buy gifts for other people
Once again, give it away to others. If I’m REALLY honest, I’d give it to Childline, it’s struggling to stay open at night time in Ireland.

Have a nose that glows red like Rudolf’s or have pointy ears like an elf
Rudolf’s nose would be so cool!!

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