Valentine’s Day Strawberry and Chocolate Heart Cakes

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If you’re looking for an extra special treat to make for your special someone this Valentine’s Day, then these cute heart shaped cakes may be just what you need to bake. Especially if they love both chocolate and strawberry.  I wanted to make a layered cake in these flavours for Valentine’s Day, and decided that it would be really fun and fitting for the occasion if I made the whole thing heart shaped. As I have a heart shaped biscuit cutter, the idea of making small separate heart shaped cakes was born. They consist of layers of chocolate sponge and strawberry flavored frosting, that has been encased in a shell of milk chocolate. I used a square 7 x 7 inch baking tin, and was able to make a total of 6 cakes from my recipe. These are actually something that came up with for Valentine’s Day last year, as some of you may have seen in pictures on my Instagram back then.

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Ingredients

For the Cake Sponge:

  • 150g Self Raising Flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • Small pinch of Salt
  • 125g Caster or Granulated Sugar
  • 7 tbsp Corn or Sunflower Oil
  • 2 tbsp Milk
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 tbsp Cocoa Powder
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Flavouring

For the Frosting:

  • 125g Unsalted Butter (softened to room temperature)
  • 300g Icing Sugar
  • 50g Cream Cheese
  • 1 – 2 tsp Strawberry Flavouring (adjust amount to suit taste)
  • Red Gel Food Colouring

For the Decoration:

  • 300g Milk Chocolate
  • 3 Fresh Strawberries

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Method

For the Cake Sponges:

1) Preheat the oven to 180°C or Gas Mark 4.

2) Sift the flour into a bowl and add to it the baking powder, salt, cocoa powder and sugar. Fold it together evenly.

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3) In a separate bowl, add the oil, milk, eggs and vanilla. Whisk everything together.

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4) Gradually add the dry mixture to the liquid mixture and beat together until everything is evenly mixed.

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5) Take your baking tin (I used a square 7 x 7 inch baking tin) and gently grease the bottom and sides with butter. Cut a strip of baking paper so that it is the same width as the tin, but a bit longer than it. This is so that you can fold it up and around 2 of the sides of the tin. This will help us when we come to remove the cake from the tin.

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6) Take your cake mixture and evenly spread just a layer of it over the bottom of the tin, making sure you get into the corners. The layer should be no thicker than about 1cm.

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7) Place the tin near the middle-top half of the oven for around 10 minutes. After, turn the tin around and leave it for a further 5 minutes.

8) Remove it from the oven and leave it to cool for a few minutes as the cake will be softer while it is hot. Use a pallet knife along the 2 sides of the tin where the baking paper does not cover the sides to gently make sure the cake is not stuck to the tin. Then using the excess sides of the baking paper as if they were handles, gently lift the cake out of the tin and leave it to cool fully on a wire rack.

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9) Repeat steps 5 – 8 at least 2 more times in order to make a total of 3 very thin square chocolate sponge cakes.

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10) When all the cake is fully cooled, take one of the cake squares and place it down flat on your work surface. Take a heart shaped biscuit/cookie cutter and use it to cut out 6 heart shapes. Gently peel the heart shapes from the baking paper and keep them to one side, but not stacked on top of each other. Any off-cuts of sponge can be put into a tub to enjoy with any left over frosting and melted chocolate that you may have left over at the end.

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11) Repeat step 10 with the other 2 squares of cake sponge. You should end up with a total of 18 heart shaped chocolate cake slices.

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For the Frosting:

1) Sift the icing sugar into a bowl. Add the cream cheese. Cut the butter into smaller pieces and add to the bowl as well.

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2) Cream everything together fully into a paste using a fork.

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3) Add some red gel colouring and the strawberry flavouring. Make sure you mix it in evenly. Repeat this if required until you get a nice deep pink colour that you like. You could also opt for making the frosting red if you prefer.

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4) Take 3 of your cake hearts. Gently spread a layer of the frosting onto just 2 of these so that the top of them are covered fully. Make it a similar thickness to that of the sponge. Then stack the 3 hearts on top of each other so that the one you did not spread frosting on to is at the top. Put this to one side.

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5) Repeat step 4 for the remaining cake hearts. You should be left with a total of 6 cakes made up of 3 layers of sponge and 2 layers of frosting.

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6) Next take one of the cakes and gently go around the sides where you can see the frosting, spreading it with more frosting. The aim is to fill in any gaps that there may be as we need a flat surface for the chocolate to cover. Then gently scrape around the sides of the cake with a palette knife in order to remove any excess and to smooth out the sides.

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7) Repeat step 6 with the remaining cakes. Your cakes are now ready to be coated and decorated.

 

For the Decoration:

1) Wash your strawberries and use a knife to cut a ‘V’ shape in the top at the sides of the stem. Pull on the stem to remove and discard it. You want to then cut the strawberries in half so that you can see the ‘V’ shape still in the top of each half of strawberry. This will make them look a little bit like heart shapes. Keep these to one side.

2) Next, break up the chocolate and put it in a mixing bowl, place the bowl over a saucepan of water on the hob. Make sure the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Turn on the heat and bring the water to a boil so that the chocolate starts to melt. Once it is boiling, bring it down to a simmer so that the chocolate does not burn. Stir the chocolate to help it melt. Once the chocolate is melted, remove it from the heat.

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3) Meanwhile, take a mixing bowl and rest a wire rack over the top of it. Place one of the cakes on top of the wire rack. Also take a tray big enough to hold all 6 cakes, and place a sheet of baking paper that is the same size on top of it.

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4) Carefully spoon the melted chocolate on top of the cake over the bowl and let it run over and drip down the sides until it is covered fully. You may want to use the back of the spoon to help spread it around.

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5) Place one half of a strawberry on top of the middle of cake so that the ‘V’ we cut is at the top. Let it have a couple of minutes to let any excess melted chocolate drip off into the bowl below.

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6) Then carefully move the cake over to the parchment paper on the tray we set up earlier. I found the easiest way to do this was by putting 2 forks underneath it at either end and lifting it that way. If you find some of the chocolate gets smeared off whilst moving it, you can patch this up by dipping the back of a spoon in the chocolate and smearing it across the problem areas.

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7) Now repeat steps 4 – 6 for the remaining 5 cakes. If the chocolate starts to become too thick, then simply pop it back onto the saucepan on the hob and heat it back up a little bit to melt it again.

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8) Once they have all been covered and decorated with a strawberry, you can move the tray over to the fridge to let the chocolate harden off. Leave them there until it is time to serve them. You may find some of the strawberry juice runs out and down the sides of the cake, but it will not affect the cakes. Due to the fresh fruit, you will want to eat them within a day or so of making them. I hope you enjoy them as much as we did!

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Wedding Favour Heart Biscuits Recipe

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A friend of mine asked me to make some biscuits to use as favours for her wedding, and these are what I made. I used white chocolate coloured in a mint shade to match her colour scheme. Sorry in advance for the bad lighting in some of the photographs. I was short on time so a lot of the work was done whilst it was dark outside. We don’t get much daylight here during the winter months when compared to the summer. So back when I made these it was dark outside when I left for work and dark outside when I come home from work.

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Ingredients

  • 200g unsalted butter allowed to reach room temperature
  • 150g granulated sugar
  • 300g self-raising flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence or other flavouring of your choice
  • Gel food colouring in colour of your choice
  • 200g white chocolate
  • Decorating glimmer sugar sprinkles or other decorating sprinkles of your choice

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Method

1. Start by weighing out your sugar and adding it to a bowl.

2. Then weigh out your butter. Cut it into cubes and add to the bowl.

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3. Add your vanilla essence and cream the butter and sugar together fully with a fork.

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4. Weigh out the flour and sieve it into the bowl.

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5. Add a pinch of salt and fold everything together into a dough using your hands.

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6. Put the dough into the fridge to chill for 30 mins.

7. Dust your work surface with flour and remove the dough from the fridge.

8. Start to preheat your oven on gas mark 5 and grease a baking tray with butter.

9. Roll out the dough to just under 1cm thick and use a heart shaped cutter to cut out the biscuit shapes.

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10. Remove the excess dough and put it to one side to reuse later.

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11. Carefully move the biscuits over to the baking tray, making sure that there is room for any expansion in between.

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12. I placed them in the over near the higher side of the middle of the oven for 10 mins.

13. After I turned the tray around and left them for a further 5 mins.

14. Once cooked, I removed them from the oven and carefully removed them from the tray and left to cool. Don’t worry if they seem a bit soft as they will harden as they cool.

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15. Repeat steps 9 – 15 in order to use up the remaining dough.

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16. Afterwards melt the chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water on the hob. Remove from the saucepan once melted.

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17. Immediately add a little of your gel food colouring to the melted chocolate and mix well. Use sparingly, but add more if required and mix fully.

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18.Using the back of a tea spoon, spread the melted chocolate onto one half of a diamond shaped biscuit.

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19. Then sprinkle your sprinkles over the chocolate half of the biscuit. Use a small plate to catch any excess and turn your biscuit upside down and give it a gentle shake to let the excess fall off.

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20. Repeat steps 18 – 19 for the remainder of your biscuits.

21. Gently move your biscuits into the fridge and leave them until the chocolate has set. Be careful not to let them touch each other while in the fridge. Afterwards you can transfer them into your favour wrapping/packaging. I used little clear cellophane bags with gold twist ties on top as shown below.

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Popping Valentine’s Heart Chocolates

This is the perfect idea for someone who wants to make their better half something personalised for Valentine’s Day, but who doesn’t really have much surplus time to spend.

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Supplies

  • 200g bar of milk chocolate
  • 200g bar of white chocolate
  • Small tub of edible gold food shimmer/glitter
  • Tub of popping candy
  • Small foil heart shaped chocolate cases
  • Silicone mould for making chocolates in heart shapes

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Instructions
1) Lay out your chocolate cases onto a tray and your silicone mould onto another. Having them on a tray makes them easier to transport before they are set.

2) Take the edible shimmer and a small clean brush. Use the brush to coat the inside of the silicone mould with the edible shimmer.

3) Take 2 saucepans of water with a heatproof bowl over the top of each. Make sure the water level is low enough to not touch the bottom of the bowl. Put them on full heat and break up the milk chocolate into one of the bowls and the white chocolate into the other. Stir them until melted fully, making sure not to burn the chocolate.

4) Remove them both from the heat and quickly stir in plenty of the popping candy into each. Try not to over stir it as you will loose some of the popping as you stir.

The rest of the instructions are pretty flexible, so I will just discuss what I did and then you can decide for yourself how you want to do things.

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5) Into the silicone moulds, I filled each heart shape only half way with milk chocolate. I then put this into the fridge straight away.

6) Meanwhile I filled half of the foil heart cases fully with milk chocolate and the other half with white chocolate. I put these into the fridge to set.

7) I removed the silicone mould from the fridge and topped up the remaining half of the mould with the white chocolate. I put this back into the fridge to set fully. This results in chocolates half white and half milk chocolate.

8) When the chocolates in the foil cases had set, I removed them from the fridge and used the brush to place some of the edible shimmer on the top of each one. When the chocolates in the silicone mould had set I carefully removed them from the mould.

If you feel a little more adventurous, you could experiment with adding other things to the chocolates, for example some finely chopped nuts. Think about what flavours your better half likes and experiment and have fun!

Valentine’s Morning Pancakes

This month is not only a leap year month, but we have both Pancake Day and Valentines Day coming up. I thought I would share with you all the pancake breakfast I did for me and my husband for last years Valentine’s Day morning.

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Equipment you will need:

  • Small frying pan
  • Mixing bowl
  • Whisk
  • Rubber heart shape pancake/egg mould (you can normally find these in supermarkets around valentines day).

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Ingredients you will need:

  • 250ml milk
  • 100g flour
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Olive oil
  • Nutella chocolate spread
  • Punnet of strawberries

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What to do:

  1. Wash the strawberries.
  2. Cut off the stems by making a rounded ‘v’ shape in the top of the strawberry.
  3. Then cut each strawberry into slices to make heart shaped slices. Keep to one side.
  4. Next, add the milk, flour, egg and salt to a mixing bowl and whisk together to make a batter.
  5. Leave the bowl in the fridge for 10 mins.
  6. Remove the bowl from the fridge and whisk again.
  7. Heat a little oil in the frying pan on a medium heat.
  8. Place the rubber mould in the pan and pour in the batter to fill the heart shape. Don’t go too fast with the batter as it will start to run out from under the mould. If this happens just push it down in the areas where it is leaking from. You want the pancakes to be around 5mm thick maximum.
  9. As soon as the batter is almost fully solid on top, you can remove the mould without it running everywhere.Be careful when touching the mould as it will be hot.
  10. Repeat steps 7 – 9 until all the batter has been used up.
  11. Spread each pancake with Nutella and place a slice of strawberry on top.

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You can use any left over strawberries to make a strawberry milk shake like I did. The pancake batter recipe I used just follows the standard British pancake recipe my parents have always used for pancake day. Enjoy!

Mint Chocolate Chip Cupcakes

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Ingredients

For the Cupcakes:

  • 300g Self Raising Flour
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 225g Caster or Granulated Sugar
  • 14 tbsp Corn or Sunflower Oil
  • 4 tbsp Milk
  • 4 Eggs
  • 4 tbsp Cocoa Powder
  • 100g Chocolate Chips
  • 1 – 2 tsp Mint Flavouring (adjust amount to suit taste)

For the Icing/Frosting:

  • 250g Unsalted Butter (softened to room temperature)
  • 600g Icing Sugar
  • 80g Cream Cheese
  • 1 – 2 tsp Mint Flavouring (adjust amount to suit taste)
  • 50g Chocolate Chips
  • Green Gel Food Colouring

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Method

For the Cupcakes:

1) Preheat the oven to 180°C or Gas Mark 4.

2) Sift the flour into a bowl and add to it the baking powder, salt, cocoa powder, chocolate chips and sugar. Fold it together evenly.

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3) In a separate bowl, add the oil, milk, eggs and mint. Whisk everything together.

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4) Gradually add the dry mixture to the liquid mixture and beat together until everything is evenly mixed.

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5) Place out your cupcake cases onto a baking tray. You want to fill the cases around 1/4 of the way with the mixture as it will rise a lot while cooking.

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6) Put them into the top/middle of the oven for around 20 – 25 minutes. Test that they are cooked using a toothpick. If it comes out clean then they are ready. Place them on a wire rack to cool once cooked.

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For the Icing/Frosting:

1) Sift the icing sugar into a bowl. Add the cream cheese. Cut the butter into smaller pieces and add to the bowl as well.

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2) Cream everything together fully into a paste using a fork.

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3) Add some green gel colouring and the mint flavouring. Make sure you mix it in evenly. Repeat this if required until you get a nice mint green colour.

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4) In a food processor add the chocolate chips and chop them into small crumbs. If you are doing normal sized cupcakes then you may prefer to skip this step if you want full sized chips for decorating.

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5) You are now ready to pipe your icing onto your cupcakes. Set up you nozzle in a piping bag. Fill your bag with some of the icing and get it ready for piping. You can use any nozzle and design that you wish. I picked a smaller one as these were mini cupcakes. I went in a simple spiral motion starting from the outside and working inwards.

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6) Next decorate the icing by sprinkling on top some of the chocolate crumbs you made earlier. I recommend decorating them straight after piping as the icing will be more sticky to hold onto the chocolate. Repeat steps 5 and 6 for your remaining cupcakes, refilling your piping bag as necessary.

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Chocolate Covered Grapes Recipe

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So today I have another chocolate covered frozen fruit treat that is so easy to make and you can mix and match the types of grapes and chocolate that you use to suit your tastes. The fact that the grapes are frozen gives them a kind of ice lolly texture so it’s like your eating small pieces of chocolate covered ice lolly (popsicle).

Ingredients

  • A medium sized punnet of grapes of your choice. Red or green it’s up to you.
  • Around a 200g bar of chocolate of your choice (milk/dark/white)

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Method
1) First, break up the chocolate and put it in a mixing bowl, place the bowl over a saucepan of water on the hob. Make sure the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Turn on the heat and bring the water to a boil so that the chocolate starts to melt.

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2) Meanwhile, pull your grapes from their stalks, wash them thoroughly, and leave them to drain in a colander for a little while before using kitchen roll to dry them fully.

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3) Using a toothpick, push one grape onto the end of it.

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4) By this time your chocolate should hopefully be melted. Using a spoon, cover the grape with the melted chocolate, making sure it is covered fully. Note: Once the chocolate in the bowl has melted fully, make sure you remove the bowl from the heat to stop it burning.

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5) Remove the grape from the toothpick carefully using the spoon and place it onto some baking paper. Spread the back of the spoon over the hole left by the toothpick to cover it. Repeat this until all your chocolate is used up.

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6) Place the baking paper with the grapes on into the fridge just long enough so that the chocolate can become solid. Once this has happened, you can peel the grapes from the paper and then stack them up on top of each other into a container with a lid. Then place this in the freezer for several hours or overnight to allow the grapes to become frozen. They are then ready to enjoy!

Coconut and Almond Macaroons

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I love coconut macaroons, but I also love sweet treats containing nuts. I decided why not make coconut macaroons even better by adding some chopped almonds to the mix!

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Ingredients

  • Standard sized can of sweetened condensed milk (approx 400g)
  • 450g Dessicated Coconut
  • 1tsp Vanilla Essence
  • 150g Almonds
  • 150g Milk Chocolate

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Method

1) Preheat your oven to Gas mark 4.

2) Pour all of your can of sweetened condensed milk into a bowl.

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3) Then add all of the dessicated coconut to the bowl.

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4) On top of this put 1tsp of vanilla essence (optional).

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5) Add your almonds to a food processor to chop them up into smaller pieces.

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6) Add the chopped almonds to your bowl of other ingredients.

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7) Mix everything together so that all the ingredients are incorporated evenly.

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8) Line a baking tray with baking paper.

9) Take a heaped tablespoon full of the mixture and place it into the palm of your hand. Using the opposite hand press the mixture together to form a half sphere shape that is flat on the bottom. Place this onto the baking tray. Make sure you have pressed the mixture together enough, and have made the bottom flat enough so that it does not fall apart from gravity while it is sitting on the baking tray.

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10) Repeat step 9 until your baking tray is full. Make sure that none of the macaroons touch.

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11) Place the tray in the oven for 10 minutes near the top-middle of the oven. After turn the tray around and bake for a further 5 minutes, or until the macaroons are just golden brown on top.

12) Remove them from the oven and gently slide the baking tray from under the baking paper so that you can leave the macaroons on the baking paper on the counter top to cool.

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13) Repeat steps 8 – 12 until you have used up the entirety of your mixture.

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14) Either afterwards, or at the same time as your batches are baking, melt your chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of water on the hob.

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15) Once the chocolate is melted fully, gently lift a macaroon from the baking paper and dip the top of it into the chocolate. Let the excess drip off. You can use a small spoon to help spread the chocolate around if required.

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16) Place the macaroon back down on the baking paper and then repeat step 15 for the remaining macaroons.

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17) Afterwards, place your macaroons in the fridge until the chocolate on top has set well. Make sure that they do not touch each other.

18) You can then place them into a container on top of each other, or you can enjoy them straight away!

Gemstone Biscuits Recipe

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I wanted to bake some biscuits that were decorated with chocolate and sprinkles. These little diamond shaped treats are what I came up with, but you could use any shape biscuit cutter that you like.

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Ingredients

  • 200g unsalted butter allowed to reach room temperature
  • 150g granulated sugar
  • 300g self-raising flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence or other flavouring of your choice
  • Gel food colouring in colour of your choice
  • 200g chocolate
  • Sprinkles/Hundreds and Thousands

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Method

1. Start by weighing out your sugar and adding it to a bowl.

2. Then weigh out your butter. Cut it into cubes and add to the bowl.

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3. Add your vanilla essence and cream the butter and sugar together fully with a fork.

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4. Weigh out the flour and sieve it into the bowl.

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5. Add a pinch of salt and fold everything together into a dough using your hands.

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6. Make an indent in the dough and add a little of your food colouring to this.

7. Manipulate the dough until the colouring is fully incorporated. Add more colouring if required and repeat.

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8. Put the dough into the fridge to chill for 30 mins.

9. Dust your work surface with flour and remove the dough from the fridge.

10. Start to preheat your oven on gas mark 5 and grease a baking tray with butter.

11. Roll out the dough to just under 1cm thick and use a diamond shaped cutter to cut out the biscuit shapes.

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12. Remove the excess dough and put it to one side to reuse later.

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13. Carefully move the biscuits over to the baking tray, making sure that there is room for any expansion in between.

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14. I placed them in the over near the higher side of the middle of the oven for 10 mins.

15. After I turned the tray around and left them for a further 5 mins.

16. Once cooked, I removed them from the oven and carefully removed them from the tray and left to cool. Don’t worry if they seem a bit soft as they will harden as they cool.

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17. Repeat steps 11 – 16 in order to use up the remaining dough.

18. Afterwards melt the chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water on the hob. Remove from the saucepan once melted.

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19. Using the back of a tea spoon, spread the melted chocolate onto one half of a diamond shaped biscuit.

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20. Then sprinkle your sprinkles over the chocolate half of the biscuit. Use a small plate to catch any excess and turn your biscuit upside down and give it a gentle shake to let the excess fall off.

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21) Repeat steps 19 – 20 for the remainder of your biscuits.

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22) Gently move your biscuits into the fridge and leave them until the chocolate has set before serving. Be careful not to let them touch each other while in the fridge.

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Banana Chocolate Coins

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Bananas are a very versatile fruit. I think it’s their texture that helps with this. They are also very yummy and sweet. Today I will show you a yummy snack, that is even better if you store them overnight in the freezer.

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Ingredients

  • About 3 medium – large bananas
  • About 200g of chocolate of your choice (milk/dark/white)

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Method
1) First, break up the chocolate and put it in a mixing bowl, place the bowl over a saucepan of water on the hob. Make sure the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Turn on the heat and bring the water to a boil so that the chocolate starts to melt.

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2) Meanwhile, peel your bananas and slice them into thick coin shapes of about 1 – 2cm thick.

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3) Using a kebab skewer, push one slice of the banana onto the end of it.

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4) By this time your chocolate should be at least part melted. Using a spoon, cover the banana with the melted chocolate, making sure it is covered fully. Note: Once the chocolate in the bowl has melted fully, make sure you remove the bowl from the heat to stop it burning.

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5) Remove the banana slice from the skewer using the spoon and place it onto some baking paper. Spread the back of the spoon over the top of the slice in order to cover the hole left by the skewer. Repeat this until all your ingredients are used up.

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6) Place the baking paper with the banana slices on into the fridge just long enough so that the chocolate can become solid. Once this has happened, you can peel the slices from the paper and then stack them up on top of each other into a container with a lid. Then place this in the freezer for several hours or overnight to allow the banana to become frozen. They are then ready to enjoy!

Daim Bar Milkshake

This one is so bad for you, but tastes oh so good. My husband couldn’t get enough of it.

  • All you need is 3 Daim bars crushed up and added to you smoothie maker cup.
  • Then add a little bit of milk so that the Daim bar is covered. You only want enough to help blend up the Daim bars fully.
  • Then let it blend until you can get it as fine as possible.
  • Then all you need to do is fill the rest of the smoothie maker with vanilla ice cream.
  • Give it another little blend just so that everything is mixed together, and then you can serve.

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