Wild Blackberry Pie

Around this time of year is when you will find blackberries growing wild all over here in Britain. It’s not just in the more countryside type areas either. We’ve found plenty down alleyways and along roadsides nearby. The ones I used for this recipe however were picked from along the local canal side, as I felt they were less exposed to pollutants than those along the roadside.

For this recipe you can use either purchased blackberries or ones you have picked yourself its completely up to you. You can also swap blackberries for other types of berries if you prefer. WARNING: Never ever pick a berry to eat unless you know for certain that it is an edible type of berry.

This pie is very easy to make, even more so if you use a ready made roll of shortcrust pastry. However if you prefer to make your own pastry then don’t hesitate to do so. The amount of sugar used in the pie is also quite flexible. Feel free to adjust the amount depending on the tartness of the berries you use and your individual tastes.

If you are using wild blackberries then you want to make sure that you wash them really well to get out any dirt and creepy crawlies. I usually fill a bowl with room temperature water and add a bit of vinegar. I then add the berries, give them a good swish around and leave to soak for 5 mins or so. I then drain and repeat with just plain water. It is better to not wash your berries until you are ready to use them.

Ingredients

  • 500g Blackberries
  • 100g Granulated Sugar + an extra tsp for sprinkling on top
  • 70g Self Raising Flour
  • 1 Roll of Shortcrust Pastry (you can always make your own)
  • 1 tsp Milk

Method

1) Start by washing your berries well and leaving them to drain in a colander.

2) Pre heat your oven to Gas Mark 7 or 220 degrees Centigrade.

3) Grease a 9 inch pie dish (one that’s not too deep) with a little olive oil. I used the lid from a large glass casserole dish for mine.

4) Take your pastry from the fridge and unroll it. Fill the pie dish with a layer of the pastry and cut off the excess. If you like a bigger ‘crust’ around the edge of your pie than I do then feel free to leave enough pastry to allow this.

5) In a large mixing bowl, mix together the granulated sugar and self raising flour.

6) Make sure any excess water is drained from the bottom of the colander and then add the berries to the bowl and mix together. How well you mix everything together is completely up to you. I like to mix mine really well so that the mixture is almost starting to turn more like a paste rather than individual berries coated in flour and sugar.

7) Spoon the mixture into your pie base and spread out with the back of a spoon.

8) If you don’t have a big enough piece of rolled out pastry for the lid, then make the remaining dough into a ball and roll it out until large enough. Put the pastry on top of the pie and cut off the excess. Any left over pastry can be frozen.

9) Crimp the sides of the pie together with the prongs of a fork. You also want some ventilation holes so poke some in the top with the fork as well. I decided I wanted to make some bird feet shapes after I has already poked some holes hence the pattern on top of my pie.

10) Brush the top with the milk and then sprinkle over a little sugar.

11) Put your pie in the middle of the oven for 15 minutes. Then reduce the temperature to about Gas Mark 5 or 190 degrees Centigrade. Leave the pie for around another 20 – 30 mins. Your pie should be golden brown on top and cooked on the base when ready.

12) When the pie is done remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack for at least 30 mins. We like to eat ours while still a little warm with some vanilla ice cream.

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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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Christmas Gingerbread Men Biscuits Recipe

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This is my take on some festive little gingerbread men. I think dressing them in Santa’s boots makes them look so cute. The biscuit isn’t has hard to the bite as traditional gingerbread men are, and the flavour is a little less overpowering. I wanted to make them a bit more like normal biscuits in texture. I did cheat a bit with the decoration though. I purchased ready made writing icing in a tube in the colours I needed, but feel free to make you own icing to pipe onto them.

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Ingredients

  • 200g unsalted butter allowed to reach room temperature
  • 150g light brown sugar
  • 300g self-raising flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 teaspoons ground ginger.
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon.
  • 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg.
  • 3 tubes of writing/piping icing in red, black and white.

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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. Cream the butter and sugar together fully with a fork so that no lumps of butter remain.

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4. Weigh out the flour and sieve it into the bowl. Add a pinch of salt, the ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg.

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5. Then fold everything together into a dough using your hands. If you find your mixture is too dry, you can add a very small slither or 2 of butter and fold this into the dough.

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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 4 and grease a baking tray with butter.

9. Take a section of the dough and roll it out to just under 1cm thick and use a man 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.

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 oven 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 let them cool for a few minutes. Once the tray was cool enough to be touched, I carefully removed them from the tray and left them to cool fully. Don’t worry if they seem a bit soft as they will harden as they cool.

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15. Repeat steps 9 – 14 in order to use up the remaining dough.

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16. Afterwards it is time to decorate your gingerbread men. Prepare your black icing with a small round nozzle. Use this in order to pipe 2 eyes and a mouth for the faces on each biscuit.

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17. Next get your red icing ready in the same way. Use this to cover all of the gingerbread men’s feet with red boots.

18. Lastly, do exactly the same with the white icing in order to add the fluffy white trim to the tops of each boot.

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19. Repeat steps 16 – 18 for the remainder of your biscuits. The decorating steps are optional however, or you could use your own ideas for decorating them.

20. Gently move your biscuits into the fridge and leave them until the icing has hardened off before serving.

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Coconut and Strawberry No Bake Cheesecake

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Today we have another ‘no bake’ cheesecake. I’m a bit addicted to these at the moment, and so is my family. This is the cheesecake my husband requested for his birthday. He really liked the coconut in the base of my coconut lime cheesecake so I decided to do that again. This time though I paired it with Strawberry as this is his favourite fruit at the moment.

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Ingredients

For the Coconut Biscuit Base:

  • 100g Digestive Biscuits
  • 50g Granulated Sugar
  • 50g Unsalted Butter
  • 75g Desiccated Coconut

For the Cheese and Strawberry Filling:

  • 500g Cream Cheese
  • 150g Icing Sugar
  • 5 tbsp Strawberry Juice (we will take this from the strawberries we use for the topping)
  • 200ml Double Cream

For the Coconut and Strawberry Sauce Topping:

  • 25g Desiccated Coconut
  • 300g Strawberries
  • 25g Granulated Sugar
  • 2 tbsp Cornflour
  • 50ml Water

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Method

For the Coconut Biscuit Base:

1) Start by greasing a 9 inch sandwich tin with butter.

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2) Remove the base of the tin and draw around it onto greaseproof paper. Cut this out and stick it to the buttered side of the base. Measure and cut out a strip of greaseproof paper long enough and wide enough to cover the inside edge of the tin as well before putting the base of the tin back inside.

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3) In a large mixing bowl, add the digestive biscuits. Using the end of a rolling pin, gently bash the biscuits until they have completely turned into evenly sized crumbs.

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4) Add the sugar and desiccated coconut to the crumbs and mix together.

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5) Put the butter into a small saucepan and melt on the hob over a medium heat. Pour this into the crumb mixture and stir in to mix it evenly between the crumbs.

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6) Put all of the biscuit mixture into the sandwich tin. Press it down firmly across the entire bottom of the tin with the back of a spoon making sure that the surface is smooth and even. Place the tin into the fridge.

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For the Cheese and Strawberry Filling:

1) In another large mixing bowl add the cream cheese and icing sugar. Cream the two together with a fork.

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2) Wash and cut the stems from your strawberries. Place them into a small saucepan and mash them roughly with a potato masher. It doesn’t matter if there are some lumps left, you can mash it to your preferences. This will form the base of the sauce for the topping.

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3) Take a tablespoon and dip it just into the surface of the strawberry mash. Wiggle it from side to side a bit to fill the spoon with the juice from the strawberries. Try to avoid any lumps as you just want liquid. Put about 5 tbsp of this into the cheese mixture and mix together.

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4) Then add the double cream to the cheese mixture. Whip this together with a fork for a couple of minutes or so. You will find that the mixture firms up.

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5) Remove the sandwich tin from the fridge and spoon the cheese mixture on top of the biscuit base. Spread the mixture out smoothly and evenly with the back of a spoon across the entire sandwich tin.

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For the Coconut and Strawberry Sauce Topping:

1) Evenly sprinkle the desiccated coconut over the top of the cheesecake making sure all areas right up the the edge are covered. Reserve a couple of tablespoons worth of the coconut for later. You could press this down gently into the surface of the cheese cake with a flat palm of your hand if you prefer. Then pop it back into the fridge.

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2) Add the sugar, cornflour and water to the saucepan with the strawberry mash in it. Put the saucepan on the hob over a medium heat. Keep stirring the mixture together for around 10 – 12 minutes. At first the mixture will have a strange colour to it but as it cooks you will find that it gets darker. The strawberries will soften and the mixture will thicken a little into a sauce. You may find you need to reduce the heat a little towards the end, and when you are happy with the consistency, remove the saucepan from the heat and allow it to cool down fully. The sauce will get thicker as it cools and sets so don’t keep it on the hob for too long.

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3)  Once cooled, remove the cheesecake from the fridge and spoon the strawberry sauce into the middle of it. Spread it out with the back of the spoon, but leave a gap of about 2cm from the edge so that you can see the cheesecake and coconut underneath.

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4) Finish the cheesecake off by garnishing it with the remaining dessicated coconut. Sprinkle it over the top of the strawberry sauce. Then put it back into the fridge for at least a few hours to set. You could also try freezing the cheesecake and removing it from the freezer about 30 mins before you want to serve it.

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When you are ready to eat it, carefully push the base of the tin upwards and out from the rest of the tin. Then carefully remove the greaseproof paper from around the sides before cutting into it. We stuck some candles into ours as it was instead of a traditional birthday cake for my husband. The whole family loved it. Enjoy!

Coconut and Lime No Bake Cheesecake

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Today we have another ‘no bake’ cheesecake which is more tropical than last time as it is coconut and lime flavoured. I added desiccated coconut to the biscuit base for this cheesecake which made it taste so good.

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Ingredients

For the Coconut Biscuit Base:

  • 100g Digestive Biscuits
  • 50g Granulated Sugar
  • 50g Unsalted Butter
  • 75g Desiccated Coconut

For the Cheese and Lime Filling:

  • 500g Cream Cheese
  • 150g Icing Sugar
  • Juice of 2 small Limes
  • 200ml Double Cream

For the Coconut and Lime Topping:

  • 25g Desiccated Coconut
  • Zest of 1 Lime

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Method

For the Coconut Biscuit Base:

1) Start by greasing a 9 inch sandwich tin with butter.

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2) Remove the base of the tin and draw around it onto greaseproof paper. Cut this out and stick it to the buttered side of the base. Measure and cut out a strip of greaseproof paper long enough and wide enough to cover the inside edge of the tin as well before putting the base of the tin back inside.

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3) In a large mixing bowl, add the digestive biscuits. Using the end of a rolling pin, gently bash the biscuits until they have completely turned into evenly sized crumbs.

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4) Add the sugar and desiccated coconut to the crumbs and mix together.

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5) Put the butter into a small saucepan and melt on the hob over a medium heat. Pour this into the crumb mixture and stir in to mix it evenly between the crumbs.

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6) Put all of the biscuit mixture into the sandwich tin. Press it down firmly across the entire bottom of the tin with the back of a spoon making sure that the surface is smooth and even. Place the tin into the fridge.

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For the Cheese and Lime Filling:

1) In another large mixing bowl add the cream cheese and icing sugar. Cream the two together with a fork.

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2) Zest one lime onto a plate. Cut the other lime in half. Then from each half cut a thin slice. Cut these slices in half and leave them aside with the zest on the plate.

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3) Squeeze the juice from the 2 remaining halves of the lime. Cut the zested lime in half and squeeze the juice from this as well. Add this juice to the bowl and stir into the cheese mixture.

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4) Then add the double cream to the cheese mixture. Whip this together with a fork for a couple of minutes or so. You will find that the mixture firms up.

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5) Remove the sandwich tin from the fridge and spoon the cheese mixture on top of the biscuit base. Spread the mixture out smoothly and evenly with the back of a spoon across the entire sandwich tin.

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For the Coconut Lime Topping:

1) Evenly sprinkle the desiccated coconut over the top of the cheesecake making sure all areas right up the the edge are covered. You could press this down gently into the surface of the cheese cake with a flat palm of your hand if you prefer.

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2) Then sprinkle the zest you kept aside over the top of the cheesecake.

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3) Finish the cheesecake off by garnishing with with the 4 small slices of lime that we put aside earlier. Then put it back into the fridge for at least a few hours to set. You could also try freezing the cheesecake and removing it from the freezer about 30 mins before you want to serve it.

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When you are ready to eat it, carefully push the base of the tin upwards and out from the rest of the tin. Then carefully remove the greaseproof paper from around the sides before cutting into it. This makes a great dessert for after a family Sunday Dinner. Enjoy!

Lemon and Blueberry No Bake Cheesecake

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Cheesecake is one of mine and my mom’s most favourite desserts, but I have always been put off from making my own from scratch. This is because recipes I have seen in cooks books and such in the past have always looked a little on the long winded and complicated side. However recently I have discovered the ‘no bake’ cheesecake which is very simple to make. My favourite cheesecake flavour is definatley lemon, but I really love the taste of blueberries as well. So when putting together this recipe I decided that I just had to try combining these two flavours.

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Ingredients

For the Biscuit Base:

  • 100g Digestive Biscuits
  • 50g Granulated Sugar
  • 50g Unsalted Butter

For the Cheese and Lemon Filling:

  • 500g Cream Cheese
  • 150g Icing Sugar
  • Juice of 1 medium Lemon
  • 200ml Double Cream

For the Blueberry Sauce Topping:

  • 300g Blueberries (I used frozen blueberries)
  • 25g Granulated Sugar
  • 2 tbsp Cornflour
  • 50ml Water

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Method

For the Biscuit Base:

1) Start by greasing a 9 inch sandwich tin with butter.

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2) Remove the base of the tin and draw around it onto greaseproof paper. Cut this out and stick it to the buttered side of the base. Measure and cut out a strip of greaseproof paper long enough and wide enough to cover the inside edge of the tin as well before putting the base of the tin back inside.

3) In a large mixing bowl, add the digestive biscuits. Using the end of a rolling pin, gently bash the biscuits until they have completely turned into evenly sized crumbs.

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4) Add the sugar to the crumbs and mix together.

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5) Put the butter into a small saucepan and melt on the hob over a medium heat. Pour this into the crumb mixture and stir in to mix it evenly between the crumbs. Keep the saucepan aside to use later on for the blueberry sauce.

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6) Put all of the biscuit mixture into the sandwich tin. Press it down firmly across the entire bottom of the tin with the back of a spoon making sure that the surface is smooth and even. Place the tin into the fridge.

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For the Cheese and Lemon Filling:

1) In another large mixing bowl add the cream cheese and icing sugar. Cream the two together with a fork.

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2) Cut the lemon in half. Then from one half cut a thin slice. Cut this slice in half and leave them aside.

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3) Squeeze the juice from the 2 remaining halves of the lemon. Add this to the bowl and stir into the cheese mixture.

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4) Then add the double cream to the cheese mixture. Whip this together with a fork for a couple of minutes or so. You will find that the mixture firms up.

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5) Remove the sandwich tin from the fridge. Spoon the cheese mixture on top of the biscuit base.

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6) Spread the mixture out smoothly and evenly with the back of a spoon across the entire sandwich tin. Then place it back into the fridge to set. During this time you can make the blueberry topping.

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For the Blueberry Sauce Topping:

1) Add the blueberries, sugar, cornflour and water to the saucepan.

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2) Put the saucepan on the hob over a medium heat. Keep stirring the mixture together for around 6 – 9 minutes. The blueberries will soften and the mixture will thicken a little into a sauce. You may find you need to reduce the heat a little towards the end, and when you are happy with the consistency, remove the saucepan from the heat and allow it to cool down fully.

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3) Once cooled, remove the cheesecake from the fridge and spoon the blueberry sauce into the middle of it. Spread it out with the back of the spoon, but leave a gap of about 2cm from the edge so that you can see the cheesecake underneath (Any leftover sauce goes great spread onto digestive biscuits).

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4) Finish the cheesecake off by garnishing with with the 2 small slices of lemon that we put aside earlier. Then put it back into the fridge for at least a few hours to set. You could also try freezing the cheesecake and removing it from the freezer about 30 mins before you want to serve it.

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When you are ready to eat it, carefully push the base of the tin upwards and out from the rest of the tin. Then carefully remove the greaseproof paper from around the sides before cutting into it. My whole family really enjoyed this cheesecake, so I hope you all enjoy it just as much. My husband said he even wants me to make the same for his birthday instead of getting him a birthday cake.

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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Valentine Heart Biscuits Recipe

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These biscuits were what me and my husband made together for fun for Valentine’s Day last year. I wasn’t really planning on making a blog post out of them at the time and so I didn’t really take many good quality photos of the decorating stages. Plus we decorated them at night which meant the lighting was bad in any photographs I took of the finished biscuits. However as Valentines Day is coming up again I decided to share them with you to help give people some inspiration. You can decorate these biscuits in any way you like, and the possibilities are endless. For ours we used rolled out icing in different colours, added some writing icing and a few random cake decorating sprinkles.

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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 colours of your choice. We used lilac, green and a small amount of red to make pink
  • Medium sized packet of white roll out icing (a 500g packet should be more than enough)
  • Various coloured tubes of writing icing. We used some glitter writing icing tubes from our local supermarket
  • Various baking decorations and other decorating sprinkles of your choice
  • Icing sugar (for dusting only)

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Method

For the Biscuits:

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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For the Decoration:

1. We started by taking sections of the roll out icing and kneading it to get it pliable. Then we used a little gel food colouring and kneaded this into the icing fully to colour it to the colours of our choice. This was repeated with the other colours so we was left with different sized balls of different coloured icing.

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2. Next dust your work surface with some icing sugar and roll out one of your balls of icing into a layer that is a few mm thick. Use the same heart cutter you used for the biscuits to cut out heart shapes. Repeat this with the other colours until you have one heart of icing per biscuit. My husband made a few multicolored icing hearts by placing a few blobs of different coloured icing next to each other and then rolling them out. He also made a marbled effect for some by kneading a few colours together very briefly so that they were mixed together, but not enough for the colours to blend together.

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3. Place the icing hearts onto your biscuits. You might need to use a tiny bit of water on the back of the icing to get it to stick to the biscuit. Alternatively you could use some of your writing icing as if it were glue. As the biscuits expand in the oven, there will be a nice border of biscuit showing around the icing. For some biscuits we did not cover them with an entire heart of icing. Instead we cut the icing hearts in different ways to cover only certain parts of the biscuits.

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4. All that is left to do now is to decorate on top of the icing on your biscuits in any which way you like. The possibilities are endless so just have fun! The below list is a few ideas of different things that we did to ours.

  • We used writing icing to draw lines and patterns on our biscuits.
  • We used writing icing like glue to stick many different sugar decorations onto our biscuits.
  • We used the roll out icing in different colours to make and mold different shapes such as flowers and leaves.
  • We used a table knife to make indent lines in the icing to make a quilted like effect.

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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!

Blueberry Cupcakes

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I’ve been wanting to try blueberry cupcakes for a while. I wanted ones that had both blueberries inside and a blueberry flavoured icing. However I’ve never seen blueberry flavouring before in the shops. From my research online it seemed people either didn’t make the icing blueberry flavoured, or they used some sort of freeze dried blueberry powder. But that seemed a bit expensive and hard to get a hold of for what it was. I knew I couldn’t use fresh blueberries, as that would add too much liquid to my icing. However I noticed that my local supermarket sold dried blueberries. So I decided to give that a go, and I can say that it was quite successful providing you blend the dried blueberries into tiny pieces. Don’t make the mistakes I made the first time around by having big lumps of blueberry get jammed in the end of my piping nozzle lol.

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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
  • 1/2 tsp Vanilla Essence
  • 200g Frozen or Fresh Blueberries

For the Icing/Frosting:

  • 250g Unsalted Butter (softened to room temperature)
  • 600g Icing Sugar
  • 80g Cream Cheese
  • 1/2 tsp Vanilla Essence
  • 100g Dried Blueberries
  • Lilac and Baby Blue 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 and sugar.

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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) Add the blueberries to the mixture and fold in gently with a spoon in order to avoid damaging them too much.

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6) Line a muffin tin with cupcake cases and spoon between 2 – 3 tsp into each case making sure you get some blueberries into each. You want the cases to be around 1/3 to 1/2 of the way full as the mixture will rise while cooking.

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7) Put them into the top/middle of the oven for around 25 – 30 minutes. Test that they are cooked using a toothpick. If it comes out clean then they are ready. Afterwards remove them from the muffin tin and leave them on a wire rack to cool. I found the easiest way to remove them whilst still hot was to poke a toothpick down the side in between 2 folds in the cases, and then use it to pry the cupcake onto its side to that I could grip it and lift it out.

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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 your dried blueberries to a food processor/blender and process very well so that no large lumps of blueberry remain as this will clog up your piping nozzle. This step is highly important if you are planning to pipe pretty rose shaped onto your cupcakes. I found the easiest way to blend it up was to add a few tablespoons of the icing mixture to the food processor. This seemed to stop the blades from just pushing the blueberries around rather than chopping them up.

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4) Add the resulting blueberry paste to the bowl with the rest of the icing mixture and cream together well until everything is evenly mixed.

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5) I wasn’t quite happy with the resulting colour of this icing so I added a little lilac and baby blue gel food colouring. This step is completely optional. But if you do use the colouring make sure you mix it in evenly.

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6) You are now ready to pipe your roses onto your cupcakes. To do this you need a specific piping tip. The one I used is called a ‘Wilton 2D Tip’. You can find these easily online (I got mine on Ebay for a couple of quid).

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7) Set up you nozzle in a piping bag. Fill your bag with some of this icing and get it ready for piping.

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8) It is actually quite simple to pipe the roses. Hold the piping nozzle upright above your cupcake. Start in the centre and then work your way outwards in a spiral until the entire cupcake is covered. Move your arm rather than your wrist while doing this as you do not want the angle of the nozzle to change. You can find plenty of videos on the internet that demonstrates this.

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9) Repeat this for your remaining cupcakes, refilling your piping bag as necessary. Don’t worry if you mess any cupcakes up. You can gently scrape the icing off with a table knife and reuse it to try again. If you do happen to get your nozzle clogged up with some blueberry pieces, you can use the prong of a fork to try and pull it through. Just be careful to not bend your nozzle out of shape.

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I love all things blueberry flavoured, and these cupcakes are easily one of my favourite. I hope you enjoy making and eating them as much as I did.

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