It’s probably apparent to anyone who has read this blog more than a few times, that I have a weakness for anything with oats or nuts in the ingredient list or any dish that can fall into the breakfast/ brunch spectrum- so making a tray of granola bars for this blog was an inevitability. These are ridiculously good. Now these are decadent granola bars… I don’t suggest eating them every morning for breakfast as they do contain butter, brown sugar and honey. However, the taste and texture is pretty unparalleled.
I think these would be brilliant to make some weekend for breakfast, or if calling to a friends for brunch, or even brining to work some morning if you are looking for brownie points. Or you can make a batch like me on a Sunday evening and eat three in quick succession. The choice is yours, however I do urge you to make these- they’re delicious.
250g Jumbo Oats
50g Coconut Flakes
100g Dried Prunes (chopped)
200g chopped nuts (almonds and hazelnuts)
175g soft brown sugar
1. Melt the honey, sugar and butter in a large heavy bottomed pot until it’s liquid. Then stir in all other ingredients until totally combined and all the dry ingredients are coated.
2. Pour the mixture into a greased and lined brownie tin. Pop into an oven preheated to 180C for 40 minutes or until golden. Keep an eye on them throughout cooking and increase/decrease the temperature if necessary.
3. You must wait until totally cooled before slicing as otherwise the granola bars will crumble apart into crumbs. When cooled slice into rectangles and store in an airtight container for a few days.
In the spirit of stealing recipes from my parents (see previous post of Curried Cauliflower Soup courtesy of my Dad), these Lemon and Lime Drizzle Fingers are a twist on my Mum’s delicious Lemon Drizzle Loaf. I did her usual recipe but added a bit more lemon juice and also added lime juice and zest to mine for extra zingyness. I also cut mine into fingers as I think they look a little daintier on a plate than in a loaf tin, but feel free to use a loaf tin if you prefer- it will taste equally delicious.
This is very simple to make, and a great one to make when you’ve guests coming. My mum often makes it, and it’s always a hit. It’s great at tea time and also a nice refreshing cake at the end of dinner. In fact, it was so nice I ate it twice… In quick succession!
Lemon and Lime Sponge
200g self-raising flour
200g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp lemon juice
Zest of 2 lemons
Zest of 2 limes
Lemon and Lime Drizzle Syrup
Juice of 2 lemons
Juice of 2 limes
2 tbsp caster sugar
(If any remaining zest you can use as a garnish)
In a food processor (or a large bowl with a hand blender) mix in the butter and sugar. When combined add the eggs and then flour. Then finally add in the vanilla, lemon juice and zest.
Pour the batter into a lined and buttered square baking tray (about 9inch by 9inch), pop into an oven preheated to 160C and bake for 30-40 minutes (depending on oven etc), a skewer should come out clean when inserted and top is golden brown. Pop the baked cake onto a serving board.
Mix all the lemon lime drizzle syrup ingredients together and pour slowly and evenly oven the top of the cake, and leave to cool.
Slice the cake into 12 fingers (cut down the middle vertically, and then horizontally into six fingers).
I love Christmas… Who doesn’t? I think the best thing about Christmas is the snuggling up in front of the fire with a good book, cup of tea or hot chocolate and a nice festive treat. Mince pies are definitely top of the list of festive treats, along with Christmas pudding (or “plump pudding” as we like to call it in our house for obvious reasons). There’s something about all those festive spices, beautiful nuts, dried fruit and a splash of good booze that makes them exactly what our bodies crave in these cold dreary months. If you haven’t made your own mince pies from scratch before, why not let this be the year that you start and dazzle your friends and family as they wonder what kind of domestic God/Goddess stands before them with fresh baked trays of happiness!
I decided to make my mince pies early this year and made 5 pots of mince meat last weekend to do me through the festive season. I am still using this mincemeat recipe that I created last year, as I just think it’s so juicy, has great flavour and a nice texture with the nuts too. It really does make a difference making your own mincemeat and it’s not hard at all, the mincemeat makes 5 jars and lasts for a few months so you really will get a good few trays of mince pies out of it. I highly recommend going old school on it, and making them from scratch, it will allow you to put in your little twists with your favourite spices, fruits, nuts and maybe a little more booze than normal! I tend to follow Jamie Oliver’s shortcrust recipe as I think it’s foolproof, it hasn’t failed me yet, but I put in more spices and flavourings to mine. This recipe makes 12 mince pies, but the pastry quantity makes enough for 24 regular sized mince pies (2 batches), as I tend to freeze the extra pastry which makes whipping up an extra batch when you have guests coming over all the more stress free. However, if you intend on only making just one batch over Christmas, just half the pastry ingredients.
These mince pies are little beauties and disappeared within a few hours of being made which is always a good sign, definitely give this easy little mince pie recipe a go and let me know what you think. And if you have any unusual additions that you like to pop in your pies, then leave a comment and let me know, I’m always looking for a little inspiration!
Sieve the flour onto a clean work surface and then sieve the icing sugar on top of it, sprinkle in the cinnamon, nutmeg, orange and lemon zest. Rub in the cubes of butter with your hands until you get a breadcrumb consistency. It helps to run your hands under cold water first so you don’t melt the butter. Sometimes rubbing the mixture quickly between the two palms of your hands help to get that consistency quickly too.
When the crumb mixture is achieved crack in the eggs and add the splash of milk and work all the mixture together until you get your dough. Be careful not to overwork the dough or you will lose that nice short crumb to your pastry. When combined, cover in cling film and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Lightly butter a tin 12 hole cupcake or muffin tray (I don’t think the silicon trays work for pastry).
Roll out the dough (you only need half if using the full quantity above, pop the other half in the freezer for your next batch of mince pies) on a floured surface until your pastry is about 1/2 cm thick at most. Use two different glasses, one slightly wider than the other. Press out 12 of each discs (you will probably have to roll together the scrap cuts to get enough for 12 of each. Push the slightly larger discs in the cupcake moulds, then pop in a tablespoon of mincemeat, wash the edges of the pastry with a little of the beaten egg and then press on the smaller disc of pastry on top. Do this until all pies are done. Brush the tops of all the pies with a little egg wash.
Pop into an oven pre-heated to 180C for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown on top. Then pop the pies out of the tin and let cool on a wire rack.
To decorate, sieve a little icing sugar on top and grate over the zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange.
This recipe is as a result of tinkering around in the kitchen and trying to piece together some of my favourite things… Sometimes it works, sometimes it fails. Thankfully this worked out really well, as otherwise I wouldn’t have anything to put up this week! These lovely Chocolate Rum Raisin Squares are a lovely rich treat that are perfect for the holiday season with the nice warming kick from the boozy rum raisins. This is kind of like a cross between chocolate biscuit cake, millionaires shortbread and anything that contains rum raisin. I actually soaked my raisins for 5 days before using them but 2 or 3 days would probably do fine, the longer you leave them the more rum the raisins will absorb and so the plumper and juicier they will be!
This is are incredibly easy chocolate cake recipe to make, if you’re going to make these chocolate squares for a specific event then I suggest making them the night before so the melted chocolate has time to set. These would make a really nice gift for someone over Christmas… that is if you don’t eat them all first!
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup dark rum
175g soft dark brown sugar
280g plain / cream flour
200g dark chocolate (75% cocoa)
200g milk chocolate
Pop the raisins in a jar, pour in the rum and put on the lid. Let it soak for a few days so it the raisins absorb all the rum. You can give the jar a shake every now and then to ensure the rum is evenly distributed.
To make the base mix together the flour, sugar and butter with an electric mixer until you achieve a bread crumb consistency, mix in half of the raisins and then pat down the crumbs into a greased and lined brownie tin (around 8 x 12 inches).
Bake in an oven preheated to 180C for 20-25 minutes.
Break the chocolate into little pieces and melt over a very low heat in a heavy bottomed pot, stirring until smooth, then take off the heat.
Sprinkle the remaining raisins over the biscuit base, and then pour the chocolate oven the raisins. Make sure the whole surface is evenly coated in chocolate and then pop into the fridge for a few hours until the chocolate it set. Then cut into squares and enjoy!
Who doesn’t love chocolate?! I love chocolate and it’s rare that a day passes without me having at least one or two squares of the really dark, bitter stuff. Strangely enough I don’t usually buy or order chocolate cakes when I’m out unless they’re the flour-less, oozy, gooey kind as I have a special dislike for chocolate sponge cake. My problem with it is that it’s often a bit dry, not chocolatey enough and covered in an icky, sweet, non-descript icing. If I want to eat something chocolatey, it better actually taste of beautiful rich chocolate!
These chocolate chip muffins have changed my mind towards chocolate cakes though, as these double chocolate muffins are so moist and rich. Made with lots of buttermilk, butter, eggs, chocolate and cocoa these muffins will not disappoint you. I tinkered around with this recipe a few times until I got the right consistency. They’re so deliciously soft and moist that they feel really delicate when you first take them out of the oven, don’t worry though they won’t crumble or fall apart, just give them 5-10 minutes to cool slightly… if you can!
I love really dark chocolate so I used 75% chocolate chips in mine, but if you’re not a dark chocolate fanatic just use milk chocolate chips as this batter uses a lot of cocoa so they’ll still be rich enough anyway if you decide to use milk chocolate chips. Just go with your personal preference. Enjoy these chocolate chip beauties, and watch your popularity rise if you decided to share them with friends!
Ingredients (makes 12 muffins):
250g plain flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
150g soft light brown sugar
120g butter (softened to room temperature)
200g chocolate chopped into chunks (or chocolate chips)
Preheat an oven to 180C and pop some paper muffin cases into a muffin tray.
Using a mixer (or spoon/whisk if you don’t have an electric mixer) mix together the butter and sugar until well combined. Beat in the eggs. Mix in the baking powder and half the flour, then mix in half the butter milk. Mix in the remaining flour and buttermilk. Finally mix in the cocoa.
With a spatula mix in just over half the chocolate chips/chunks. Then spoon the mixture into the 12 muffin cases.
Sprinkle the remaining chocolate chunks over the tops of the muffin batter and push slightly into the batter.
Pop into the oven and let bake for about 18 to 20 minutes (depending on your oven). These will be very soft at first when they come out of the oven, so don’t mistake this for them being underdone, it’s just because they are so moist. The usual trick of putting a skewer in the muffin to see if it’s done doesn’t really work here as they’re so packed with chocolate chips you’ll no doubt hit a melted chocolate chip spot, so don’t mistake this for uncooked batter. Muffins are meant to be super moist so don’t be tempted to keep them in the oven for an extra few minutes.
Let them cool for about 5 minutes before eating. Once totally cooled they will firm up a lot more.
Before the chocolate chip muffin and the buttercream icing cupcake, before red velvet cake and the “cronut”, and indeed before macaroon and “cake pop” epidemics swept the world, there was the humble “bun”. It seems there is a new craze every month with some other cakey notion that is sweeping kitchens everywhere, but before Great British Bake Off and Masterchef made us feel the need to up our game in the kitchen, we were all pretty happy with a sponge bun or little cupcake.
My mum used to make little cupcakes most weeks with a little lemon icing (no not the 2 inch high butter-cream sort, but the really runny, simple glaze) or maybe a chocolate button squished on top and we were delighted. When she had people coming over or had a party she would make these easy little “fairy cake” buns which are essentially just buns with a little jam and cream in them. I think they are amazing, but all the old fashioned plain cakes seem to be falling out of favour as we try and one up each other with saffron infused sponges (what?) and chiffon cakes (I still don’t know what they are, but they sound complicated). Anyway, here I am trying back to bring back the tasty little sponge bun for those of us who are just not bothered spending the whole day slaving over one cake, when you can spend 30 minutes whipping these impressive looking little beauties up with the easiest fairy cake recipe ever, and they taste amazing!
I am slightly obsessed with Flynn’s Kitchen, a company in Cork making the most amazing jams and dressings. On other blog posts you have probably heard me harp on about their basil oil (which makes everything taste better), but their jams are incredible and bursting with flavour. Their plain raspberry jam is my favourite, but today I decided to go wild and use their Mixed Berry, Black Pepper and Kirsh Jam… incredible. If you live in Cork you should try seek them out, you won’t look back.
150g self raising flour
115g caster sugar
115g butter (at room temperature)
2 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
Good quality jam (enough for 12 tsps)
150ml cream approx (enough for 12 tsp) whipped until thick
Any assortment of berries.
1. Mix together all bun ingredients with a mixer and spoon into 12 cupcake cases (preferably in a cupcake tin so they hold their shape). Pop into an oven preheated to 180C and let bake for about 15 minutes until golden on top. Then let them cool on a wire rack.
2. When cooled cut off the top of the cake, this is best done by getting a sharp knife and cutting the top off with the knife pointed inwards so that the piece you are removing is cone shaped. My personal favorite knives come from SharpenedKnife.com, I have had them for a while now and I swear by them completely.
3. Into the section you have hollowed out, spoon in a teaspoon of jam, and then a teaspoon of cream, squish in a raspberry or a few blueberries for good measure and then pop the top of the cake back on. Sprinkle with a little icing sugar and serve with a nice big hot pot of tea.
My recent trip to France was, I’m not going to lie to you, a big food-fest. Every day was filled with pastries, fruits, salads, breads, cheeses, eclairs, seafood, veal, rabbit, and of course… creme brûlée. My holiday was also spent visiting a lot of little towns around France, and one not so little town, Monaco. Well how does one describe Monaco? Hmmm…. the old town, where the royal palace is located, is really cute and filled with beautiful old buildings, it’s quite touristy but really nice to visit all the same. The new town however is a different kettle of fish. Filled with super yachts, cars more expensive than most people’s mortgages, designer shops and groomed men and women dressed in the finest French couture. It leaves you going away feeling a little poor, a little scruffy and a little unglamorous and also leaves you pondering the question… Why can’t I have one of those?!
Alas, after returning back to reality from a day in crazy Monaco, I decided to get the closest I could to something smooth and rich… A creme brûlée. Okay it may not be a Ferrari, but I’m more than happy to settle for one of these! Creme brûlée is one of my favourite desserts. I absolutely love ordering it when I’m out for dinner, I had it twice when I was on holidays and came back craving a little more.
I decided to give it a go last weekend, having never made it before. Had I known creme brûlée was so easy to make, I wouldn’t have waiting so long to try it! This is really easy to make, you essentially make an easy custard, cook it in the oven then sprinkle sugar on top and grill it. I add some freshly grated nutmeg to mine, which I think is a delicious addition. This would be the perfect dessert to make for guests as you can make the custard the night before and leave it in the fridge, and just cook it up the next day.
4 egg yolks
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
4 tsp soft brown sugar (for topping)
Bring cream to the boil with the vanilla and nutmeg. Set aside for a few minutes.
Stir the white sugar into the egg yolks and slowly stir in the cream to form a nice custard. Pour into four little ramekins.
Pop the ramekins in the fridge overnight if using the next day. Otherwise fill a roasting dish halfway with hot water and place the ramekins in the dish, pop into an over pre-heated to 180C and cook for 40 minutes.
Take out of the oven let them cool for about an hour (you can pop them in the fridge). Then sprinkle each ramekin with a tsp of brown sugar and pop under the grill until caramelised (keep a close eye on these as they can burn quickly). Serve immediately.