Hedgehog’s peanut butter and dark chocolate cookies
The Famale family has always been lucky enough to have a resident hedgehog. He’s lived in or around our suburban wildlife garden my whole life, and is left a piece of bread with peanut butter every night by Mamma Famale when it gets dark. In this age of uncertainty, it’s comforting to know that we have a hedgehog who returns to us night after night. He’s loyal, and he loves these cookies. So these are for him. I call him Simon, but apparently that is not an appropriate hedgehog name. I also freak out that there will be hedgehog spikes in the jar of peanut butter, but alas, there are not. The Famale kitchen is a quirky place at the best of times, but the back-story to these cookies really does take the biscuit. A quirky boy, a quirky girl, and a hedgehog called Simon.
4 oz light soft brown sugar
4 oz caster sugar
5 oz soft butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 oz crunchy peanut butter
2 oz very dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
6 oz plain flour
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
Preheat oven to 150 fan. Cream the sugars, butter and vanilla extract together. Add the egg. Then add the chopped-up chocolate and peanut butter. Mix and add the flour and bicarb. Roll mixture into little balls and flatten, on a lined baking tray. Bake at 150fan for about 15 mins. They should be light golden brown and slightly cracked. Leave to cool on the baking tray for 5 mins then transfer to a wire cooling tray. Enjoy!
Laura’s Mars Bar Krispy
Lawyer Laura absolutely loves Mars Bar Krispy. So much so that she melted down an unwanted Thornton’s Easter egg in desperation to make a Mars-less version just this week. I took her a little box of Krispy today to brighten up an otherwise long afternoon at the office. I’ve said that the 100s and 1000s are optional, but they really make it, and she definitely agrees.
5 Mars Bars
5 oz margarine
5 oz Rice Krispies
100s and 1000s (optional)
Measure out 5oz of margarine, slice up the 5 Mars Bars and add to the pan. Heat both together slowly until melted (it will look lumpy but that’s correct). Take the pan off the heat and stir in the 5 oz of Rice Krispies. Empty out the mixture into a foil tray or greased baking tray and press flat with a fork. Now sprinkle with 100s and 1000s and leave to set in the fridge for 30mins. Cut into large squares and enjoy! Keep stored in the fridge – if they last that long!
Bruce’s Chocolate Cake
This cake is fondly inspired by Bruce Bogtrotter from Roald Dahl’s Matilda. It is incredibly delicious and incredibly easy. You know I’m a butter girl but here, it’s the margarine that makes the cake so light (and cheap).
Ingredients – cake
6 oz margarine
6 oz caster sugar
5 oz self-raising flour
1 oz cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons milk
Method – cake
Preheat oven to 170fan. Cream the sugar and marg together in one bowl. In another, sift in the flour, baking powder and cocoa powder. Add half of this to the marg and sugar. Mix then add one egg. Mix then add the other half of the dry ingredients. Finally, add the other two eggs and mix well. Then add the milk and give a good beat. Divide between two small cake tins and bake for about 35 mins – check at 30. If a knife comes out clean, it’s ready. Leave to cool and get on with the icing.
Ingredients – icing
3 oz unsalted butter
1 oz cocoa powder
4 oz icing sugar
2 tablespoons milk
Method – icing
Cream butter and cocoa powder together. Sift in the icing sugar in stages, mixing until smooth, and then add the milk to get a lovely glossy icing. Ice the two cakes together and ice round the sides and the top of the cake. Sprinkle with a Flake for the true Bogtrotter touch. Enjoy!
A famale family favourite and doesn’t require any cooking but is a bit sticky, so once everything’s been chopped, the kids can tackle this one!
16 marshmallows, 16 glace cherries, 16 digestive biscuits, 3/4 tin condensed milk, 4 tablespoons dessicated coconut (optional)
1. Put the digestives into a freezer bag, tie and start bashing with the rolling pin until they’re all broken up and look like rubble. Put this into the mixing bowl.
2. Chop the cherries and marshmallows into halves and add to the bowl.
3. Add the condensed milk and mix everything together.
4. Lay out two sheets of tinfoil about A4 paper size.
5. Divide the mixture into 2 and place 1 lot on each sheet of tinfoil.
6. This is the sticky part! Form the mix into a rough sausage shape and then roll the tinfoil up like a parcel.
7. I like coconut around mine and if you do, this is when to add it. Unwrap the sausage shape and sprinkle it with 2 tablespoons of coconut, and roll back up.
8. Stash the 2 parcels in the fridge for an hour to firm (if you can’t wait, 20 minutes in the freezer should do the trick).
9. Unwrap the parcels and using a sharp knife, cut into fat circles.
100g caster sugar
4 tablespoons golden syrup
1.5 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
Put the sugar and syrup in a pan and mix. Then put pan on a moderate heat and let the mix melt and go golden. Don’t stir – only swirl in the pan. It should take about 9 mins for the mix to melt, bubble up to a boil and go deeply golden. Then take off the heat and whisk in the bicarb quickly. Then pile onto a sheet of baking paper. Leave to cool and set for 30 mins and then you can bash it up and you have puff candy/honeycomb/cinder toffee/hokey pokey!
There’s no actual recipe and the quantity is up to you – base this decision on how long you can be bothered melting and dipping for. Tiny fingers are actually better than adult fingers for this one so I suggest recruiting a Famale junior to help with the production line.
Melted Dairy Milk or other sickly sweet chocolate of your choice
Melt chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water or in the microwave (I don’t like microwaves so I do it old-school style). In the meantime, set up rows of paper cases. When chocolate is melted, dip the top of the marshmallows in it and put a Smartie on top of each one. Leave these to set in the fridge. Then pour some chocolate into each case and plop a marshmallow into each one. Then put fully-hatted hats in the fridge to set. See why you need a tiny helper?
These little bars look like flapjacks but are healthier and more breakfast-like, despite the quantity of condensed milk! Everyone in my family loves them, including one of my sisters (yes, that means you Claire) who would never normally go for dried fruit.
1 x 500g box of Aldi exotic muesli (oats, dates, seeds, candied fruit, coconut etc)
50g glacé cherries or sultanas
1x tin condensed milk
Preheat oven to 130fan. Gently heat the condensed milk. Add the milk to the dry ingredients and mix. Press firmly into a square pan or as I did, a throwaway foil tray and bake for 1 hour. After 10mins, cut into squares and leave to cool on a wire rack. These will keep all week in a tin or airtight tub.
3/4 tin of condensed milk
1.5 tablespoons of golden syrup
250g of oats
150g unsalted butter
150g soft brown sugar or caster if you don’t have brown
Melt the butter, syrup and sugar together.
Then add in the condensed milk and bring to a simmer.
Take off the heat and mix with the oats in a large bowl.
Put the mix into a lined, buttered square tin and bake at 160fan for about 15/20 minutes.
The top and edges should be light brown but take it out of the tray and onto a cooling tray immediately as it will continue to cook, and you want it really gooey. Leave to cool completely then cut into squares. Enjoy!
Elizabeth Taylor’s exotic cheesecake
This cheesecake contains no cheese, and is light as a feather.
Large chunk of unsalted butter
1 pack of ginger nut biscuits
300ml double cream
Medium pot of Greek/natural yogurt
Juice and zest of 2 lemons
Tin of condensed milk
Lots of exotic fruits eg. mango, passion fruit, pineapple etc.
Crunch up the biscuits to a fine rubble. Mix in the melted butter and press into a circular cake tin. Put in the fridge to set.
Take two bowls. In the first, whip up the double cream and stir in the yogurt.
In the other, add the lemon juice and zest to the condensed milk and stir until smooth. Combine the two bowls, with way round, gently. Pour this mix into the cake tin. Put it back into the fridge. After ten minnutes or so, pile on the fruit. Then enjoy. Will only last for two days.
Lindy’s chocolate chip cookies
4oz softened butter
4oz muscovado sugar
1 tablespoon golden syrup
6oz self-raising flour
30z chocolate chips/smarties
Roll mixture into balls. Bake at 160fan for 12 minutes. Then enjoy en masse!
Best ever scones
This one’s for Martin…
*If you want great big scones enough for eight people, double the quantity.
8oz/227g self-raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1oz/28g caster sugar
2oz/56g unsalted butter – softened
pinch of salt
150 ml of milk
Sieve the flour and baking powder into a large mixing bowl. Add in the caster sugar and salt. Then add the softened butter. Quickly turn into breadcumbs using your thumb and index finger, getting air into the flour. Add a little milk and mix with a knife, not your hands. This keeps the mixture cool. Do this a few times until all the milk is incorporate. Leave to stand for five minutes.
Roll out once onto a floured surface, keeping the dough nice and thick. Then cut six big fat circles (or more, depending on how many you want – you can cut them thinner) and put on parchment paper on a tray. I use the mouth of a glass which is wider than most cutters. Don’t twist as you cut – just tap it down firmly. Lightly flour the tops. Bake at 200fan (220 normal) for just 10-12 minutes. Delish.
Caramel tart from the heart
First of all, you need to put a tin of condensed milk in a large pan of water and boil for 2.5 – 3 hours. It won’t burst, I promise! This turns the milk into the most perfect caramel imaginable – just keep topping up the water. In the meantime, get on with the pastry…
60z plain flour
3 0z butter
1 0z vegetable fat/lard
1 dessertspoon of caster sugar dissolved in 6 teaspoons of cold water
Get a big bowl and sift in the flour. Chop up the cold butter into cubes and put in the bowl, along with the lard.
Rub the fats into the flour, until they look like breadcrumbs.
Add in the sugary water, and mix together – by hand or machine. In a minute or so it will come together and become a ball of pastry.
Kneed a wee bit on a floured surface, form a ball again and wrap in clingfilm.
Put it in the fridge for half an hour and then you can roll it out on a floured surface, and pop into any smallish greased tin you like.
Line with some baking paper and weight down with baking beans or something like lentils, to ensure the case stays flat.
Bake at 160 (fan) for about 20 minutes, until the edges and light brown.
Take out of the oven, remove the beans and paper and leave to cool.
When the caramel is ready, take it out of the pan and leave to cool.
Fill the pastry case with the lovely caramel and grate on some dark chocolate.
Common custard tarts
I’ve adapted this recipe a bit from the original to make it less scary.
3 egg yolks
5oz caster sugar
1 vanilla pod
6fl oz full-fat milk
8fl oz double cream
300g ready-made puff pastry
Plus… some plain flour and icing sugar to dust
Get the oven going at 170 (fan). Then grease a 12-hole muffin/bun tray with butter.
Put the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour in a pan on a low heat, and whisk for a good five minutes until everything is combined and the mixture is thick.
Then add the vanilla seeds from the pod and watch as the mixture gets all a-speckled.
Put the cream and milk in a jug and gradually whisk this in. If at any time the mixture looks like it could curdle, don’t worry – the cornflour ensures that you can whisk it back to lump-free loveliness.
Keep whicking until you have a nice creamy custard, then take it off the heat.
Cover it with clingfilm to stop a skin forming. Now, LEAVE TO COOL!
When I made these, I was too impatient and although they still worked, it’s better to put cool custard into the pastry cases.
For the pastry – flour roll out onto a surface lightly dusted with flour and icing sugar – keeps it sweet. Roll out thinly and cut out fourteen circles. I find the best size is the mouth of a small tumbler glass.
Press a pastry disc into each of the holes in the tray and plop in the custard mixture, dividing equally. If you can’t be bothered doing two extra tarts, stick to just twelve circles – but I personally prefer the pastry a bit thinner. Bake for about 18/20 minutes or until the pastry has gone a nice golden brown colour. Check halfway through the cooking time just to make sure.
Cool in the tin, then dust with some icing sugar, and dig in, Porto-style!
Fabulous fatless jam sponge
The idea of making a fatless sponge was quite terrifying, and the thought of making it into a swiss roll without a crackathon almost sent me over the edge. All because I fancied something with sponge and jam of a cold Scottish night. However, I was watching the lovely Lorraine Pascale’s ‘Baking Made Easy’ and stole her recipe, which turned out to be completely foolproof – visit http://www.lorrainepascale.com/
30z caster sugar
30z plain flour
1 vanilla pod or two teaspoons of vanilla extract
1 tablespoon of warm water
Whisk up the eggs, sugar and seeds from the vanilla pod or extract for five minutes, until pale and light and fluffy.
Then carefully add the flour to the side of the bowl and fold in gently.
Add the warm water to the mixture, and carefully pour onto a lined swiss roll/rectangular baking tray.
Bake for about 10-15 minutes (just check to see) in the oven until the cake is golden and has come away from the sides of the tin a bit.
Leave to cool for five minues, then turn out onto another piece of baking paper, this time sprinkled with caster sugar. Leave to cool.
Lorraine made a posh version by using marscapone and srawberries soaked in marsala wine. However, all I had to hand was the means to make some delicious vanilla buttercream and some raspberry jam, which did the trick.
Spread a generous helping of jam over the sponge, and then the buttercream.
Use the paper to fold over the sponge, making it as tight as possible, and then just roll away, and it honestly doesn’t crack. Genius!
Lindy’s crumbling mess
I seem to be drawn towards assembly jobs which require a lot of dolloping and less precision. This is the perfect example of a dollopy recipe and you can even cheat by buying the condensed milk caramel ready-made. I am, as you know, a condensed milk expert and can say that the ready-made stuff is not as good as when you boil the tin yourself. Yes it takes two-and-a-half hours, but really, that’s just two episodes of Lewis, or a really, really long bath. But for this recipe, as Lindy proved, the caramel isn’t the main attraction, so a short-cut is okay. But it’s not good enough for famale generally, so take note.
Anyway…for a crumble that serves six, this is what you need…
8 apples – cooking apples makes it less sugary
1 tin of condensed milk caramel
50g plain flour
50g cold butter
Get the oven going at 160 fan. Peel and core the apples and make them into segments or slices rather than chunks, which always put me off.
Cook them in a tiny bit of water on high for about five minutes. Then stir in half of the caramel (you can use less but you might as well use the whole tin in this recipe). Plop this mix into a greased dish.
Then make the crumble by mixing the butter, flour and oats together until rubbly.
Spinkle over the fruit and spoon on the caramel in splodges all over and in between the crumble mix.
Bake for about 20 minutes until golden brown. We ate it with M+S extra thick double cream but it would be equally delicious with any of the cream family.
Sinful cinnamon swirls
Trust me – these are easy and will help lock away your yeasty fears forever.
Thanks to fellow blogger Sydney’s Kitchen for the inspiration. Her cinnamon buns look absolutely delicious, but as her recipe used American measurements and I can’t count, let alone convert anything, I adapted the recipe for old Ecosse.
For the yeasty part:
1 shachet of fast action dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon of caster sugar
125 ml of warm water from the tap
For the dough:
14oz strong white flour
2oz caster sugar
1 and 1/2 oz of soft butter
1/2 teaspoon of salt
125 ml of warm milk
1/2 a beaten egg
For the filling:
2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
The seeds from 5 cardamom pods
1/2 oz of melted butter
2oz brown sugar
Put the warm water, sugar and yeast in a bowl and mix. Leave it for about 15 minutes. It will then have puffed up and look like the head of a pint. When it looks like this and smells like a brewery, you’re off to a good start.
In the meantime, flour your worksurface. In a big bowl, mix all the dough ingredients with a wooden spoon. If it’s too dry, add a little water, or if it’s too wet, a little flour. I originally used 13oz of flour but it was too wet, so I upped the amount to 14oz here.
Once it comes together, get it out onto the surface and give it a good pummeling for ten minutes. It should be smooth and form a nice ball. Put the ball of dough onto a greased baking tray. Cover with greased clingfilm – snug but not tight so the dough has room to rise.
Now leave it well alone for a few hours or ideally, overnight. It WILL double in size, I promise.
Now, put the dough back onto the surface and get the oven going at 200 fan. Knead the dough a little, which knocks the air out. Divide into two and roll out two long oblongish or rectangular shapes.
Cover the dough with the melted butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and cardamom. Roll each up like a swiss roll and chop into about six little swirls. Place them right next to each other on the baking tray. If you have time, cover with cling again and leave to puff up a bit. However, I put them straight into the oven and the worked perfectly.
Check after about 15 minutes, when you can then sprinkle over more sugar and drizzle with a little more butter. Bake for another few minutes, and bring them out.
Now you can leave them as they are, or if you share Famale’s sweet teeth, artlessly drizzle over bog-standard white water icing, and there you have it. The best breakfast ever. As certified by Famale’s youngest tester, our cinnamon girl.
(By they way – you can obviously double everything, but this makes enough for six people’s breakfast, and I think 28oz of flour sounds far too scary).
Bakewell hearts – or be damned!
The only thing that’s fiddly about this recipe is the jam and filling stage. Otherwise – it’s a cakewalk!
One lot of pastry, as per ‘Caramel tart from the heart’
20z caster sugar
4oz ground almonds
20z self-raising flour
The juice of half a lemon
Raspberry jam – seedless for preference
1 teaspoon of almond extract – if you have it (it’s only about a pound or so)
Make up the pastry and put in the fridge while you make the almond-y filling.
Cream the sugar and butter together.
Mix in the egg, lemon juice and almond extract.
Then fold in the flour and ground almonds.
Get the pastry out of the fridge and cut into circles – or in my cases, hearts.
Line a bun tray with the circles or hearts and plop in a teaspoon of raspberry jam.
Then top with a splodge of the filling but leave a little room at the top because they do rise a little.
Done! Pop in the oven at 180 fan for about 15 minutes – just check to make sure the pastry is golden, and don’t leave in too long.
Leave the cases to cool and then top with some thick water icing and half a glace cherry. De-licious.