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Salted Caramel, Pretzel Cookies

Are you a sweet or salted Popcorn kinda person? I personally don’t believe the two should mix…though I know many of you would disagree. A questionable combo I’ve tried to steer relatively clear of, I had a lot of leftover chocolate, pretzels etc from Christmas so decided to give it a go and throw them into my fool proof Cookie Dough.

It’s up to you whether you use a chocolate Cookie Dough or a plain/Vanilla dough – both work really well and balance beautifully with the sea salt flakes and salted pretzels. I chose to include Rolo’s as a secret centre because, well I spoil you! No really, the melted caramel just takes this cookie recipe to another level and again, it’s a perfect match with the sea salt and slightly salted pretzels.


If you haven’t guessed by now I’m a bit of a cookie fiend so follow the links below to find more cookie recipes and ENJOY!  

Recipe:

This recipe uses my ultimate cookie dough recipe here plus the addition of:

  • 126g pouch of Rolos (refrigerated)
  • 3 tbsps cocoa powder
  • sea salt, for sprinkling
  • salted pretzels, placed on each cookie

Quantity: The large dough will makes around 20 medium sized biscuits. You can always freeze/refrigerate any leftover cookie dough when rolled up into a long sausage shape to bake another time.

Tip: When frozen, bring back to room temperature before baking (can be kept in freezer for up to free months). When refrigerated, keep for up to two weeks, using before the dough dries up.

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C and line a baking tray with baking paper. Remove your bag of Rolos from the fridge and set aside as you begin to make your dough
  2. In a free stand mixer or by hand (I have done both) beat the butter and both sugars together until smooth (like you would when you cream together for a cake). Then simply whisk together the egg and Vanilla in a cup and add to the sugar/butter mixture until combined
  3. Next add the dry ingredients (chocolate chunks, flour, cocoa powder and baking powder) and mix with your wooden spoon – the liquid mixture will become thicker and stiff and you start to have a dough like texture
  4. Once the dough has formed, take small pieces and roll similar to a golf ball size.Flatten in your palmand place a Rolo in the middle of the flattened ball. Roll back up so the dough encases the Rolo and place on a lined baking tray – ensure each ball of dough is about 3cms apart
  5. Place in the oven and cook for about 8-12 mins. The cookies will appear soft when you touch them but this is FINE, they will harden as they cool.When soft, press a salted pretzel in the middle of each cookie and sprinkle with sea salt.Once cooled, you will be left with soft, gooey cookies with an amazing flavour! The cookies can be kept for five days when in an airtight container

Enjoy! Nic x

Crazy for cookie dough? Check out some of my other biscuit recipes such as S’mores Cookies, Oreo stuffed Cookies or Cookie Cheesecake.

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2017, the year of new beginnings and saying no to a January detox

First of all, WHAT THE HELL HAS HAPPENED? Why is my Christmas tree borderline dead and why do I feel like I should be shamed for enjoying a selection box of an evening? Christmas is over, everyone keeps hashtagging ‘New Year New Me’, and there’s no George Michael in the world. I don’t want to be here.

In a bid to welcome new beginnings (and to distract from my grief over Gorgeous George) I thought I would write my first ‘personal’ post if you like, full of good thoughts and goals for the year. I don’t believe in setting resolutions, mainly because I never EVER stick to them and why should you live your life set against some ‘rules’ which you made purely because it was expected of you? Nine times out of ten, they are never truly realistic, especially when you quite enjoy your unhealthy lifestyle which involves the weekly consumption of McDonald’s as you witness the Β£30 gym membership disappear from your bank account.

For me, I’m not bothered about celebrating the New Year, 2017 was welcomed with a cup of tea in bed as me and my boyfriend sat discussing the aftermath of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows part 2 (he had never seen it, the oddball). So whilst I sound like a boring, miserable maybe slightly bitter old lady, the next few paras might shock you as I reveal how content I am about starting the New Year. In 2016 I made some massive steps (such as quitting my job) and some smaller, easier ones like making more time for friends, my family and eating doughnuts. I eventually stopped caring about what I ‘should’ be doing and started living by the means of ‘everything happens for a reason’ and ‘life is too short’. Though I would never admit to it, 2016 has made me excited about starting 2017 and slayin it too:

My Best Friend is getting married (the first of many friend’s weddings to come):

Despite the  endless jokes about Ryan Gosling being our only true love (and a KitKat Chunky), my best friend from school has actually found the Noah to her Allie. More excitingly I am going to be a bridesmaid, the last time this happened I was six and I witnessed my cousin wet herself from nerves so I’m hoping for better things. Being a bridesmaid also means I’ll be involved in the Hen Party plans which pleases my game loving, super controlling, Monica-from-friends-with-a-walkie talkie-alter ego.

I can’t wait to embarrassingly sob as she (well, we technically) walks down the aisle and joins the ‘you’re officially a grown up’ club.

I will continue eating cake as a hobby

Last year meant some exciting things for the blog – I got to partner with one of the most iconic baking brands and see a bunch of lovely people bake my own recipes. This year, my goal is to continue posting content (without putting any additional pressure on myself), stretch my creativity and keep telling jokes – sorry. There really is nothing more comforting and heartwarming than knowing that other people understand your shameful food puns and baking rambles.

One negative which comes with running your own blog is the feeling of underachievement when accidentally comparing yourself to others, mainly those who have started after you. I am going to write this here, now, so I can revisit this whenever I start to feel a little low. We should not define ourselves or others by how many followers they may have on social media and we certainly shouldn’t compare our own successes against others. Everyone is different, everyone has their own voice and you just have to believe in yours. If you don’t, why should anyone else?

I will continue to chase the career I want

When I started baking, it was a major stress relief from a career I was no longer enjoying. The job was office based, advertised as 9-5 hours but really you were expected to be switched on at 7am when the emails started flooding in on your mobile up until 7pm when you were eating dinner at your desk. I was also living in London (unbelievable when you considered my almost 3 hour round commute) and I was desperately missing home. After four years of a career which I stepped into straight out of University I took a massive leap of faith and quit my job, left my flat and moved back to the country.

I am now in childcare and whilst kids can cause a grown adult to cry in a dark room at times and most nights involve washing spaghetti, play dough or vomit out of my hair, I still have no regrets. I am now looking forward to the next stage of my life which involves the almighty and somewhat crumbling education system. Wish me luck pals!

Sign me up to a book club

A great passion of mine is reading and I lost this a bit last year amidst the piles of BBC Good Food issues and occasional Look magazines which kept me sane during the children’s nap times. As we move to a digital era, I have set a goal to pick up a paperback or two each month, rediscover some greats (hellooooo Mr Darcy) and enjoy some me time. I recently picked up a copy of Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber which I studied during my A-Level English literature days. It’s a book I loved at school though after reading it again, I should probably be worried. Some of the stories are a little….folk tale meets Fifty Shades. I can certainly understand why it appealed to the ever curious mind of a 17 year old.

I’m also in LOVE with the Clothbound Penguin Classic editions, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Sense and Sensibility and Dracula (to name a few) are too pretty for words.

Soooo, that’s me! In a small, 969 word nutshell. There are many other goals I have for the year, like travelling outside of Europe, take my god damn Theory Test, allow myself that coffee and a muffin treat on a Saturday, reduce monthly cushion buying etc. but the above are the motivators for a good year. I hope you’re looking forward to the next 12 months too!

Nic x

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Cherry Bakewell Bundt Cake

So yeah, I basically made this cake so I could use this obligatory food pun…


So minus the glorious food pun (which you should know by now, I am a BIG fan of) I made this cake because you just can’t beat the flavour of a Cherry Bakewell. A tea time classic, this little pud was slightly overlooked when I was younger – anything with those cherries on top was a no go – but if I could have it my way now, I wouldn’t be without one.

Almond flavouring is definitely up there with Vanilla, though you can’t use it as frequently I absolutely love adding it to my bakes as it is just as moreish and makes a beautiful tasting cake – the addition of ground almonds adds a great texture too. When making fruit cakes, you may have come across that sinking feeling at some point but follow the tip below from Mary Berry and you’ll have a fabulous cake with cherries evenly dispersed throughout the sponge.


Recipe (fills a 25cm flute Bundt tin and serves 10-12 ): 

For the sponge –

  • 250g Homepride self raising flour
  • 200g unsalted butter, at room temp
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 4 medium sized eggs
  • 1 tsp good quality Almond extract
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 150g glace cherries

For the icing & decoration –

  • 2-4 tbsp water
  • 200g icing sugar, sifted
  • dried raspberries
  • flaked almonds

Method:

  1. Start by following a very good tip from Bezza (Mary Berry) herself by chopping the glace cherries in half (and again if you want smaller chunks) and adding to a colander. Rinse with warm water until all the sugar syrup is removed from the fruit
  2. Dry thoroughly with some paper towel then place into a bowl with two tablespoons of the measured flour. Pre-heat the oven to 175 degrees C and grease your bundt cake tin thoroughly with butter, making sure you get within all the grooves/creases
  3. Set aside and beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Next add the eggs one by one, stirring continuously until well combined
  4. Follow by folding in the flour, ground almonds and almond extract before adding the cherries, folding into the batter a metal spoon until evenly distributed. Pour the batter into the Bundt tin, tapping the bottom of the tin on the surface lightly so all the cake batter seeps into the creases. Place in the oven for 30-35 minutes or until the cake is a light golden brown colour and a cake tester comes out clean
  5. Leave to completely cool before removing from the cake tin, setting aside on a wire rack. Make your icing by mixing some sifted icing sugar with a couple of spoonfuls of water – the icing should be quick, but easy to drizzle
  6. Pour the icing over the cake as you wish then scatter some freeze-dried raspberries, flaked almonds and any left over glace cherries (should you wish) just before serving. When stored in a cool dry place, the iced cake will keep for up to 5 days

Serve and enjoy, Nic x

Like this recipe? Why not try my Marble Malteser bundt or Strawberry Eton Mess bundt cake. 

Follow me on Instagram and Twitter too for more baking inspo.

After Eight Irish Cream

“You think they’ve thought of it all, you think ‘Where can they go with this next?’ and then they hit you with it. I mean mint Baileys! Whatever will they think of next!”

For those of you who don’t watch it, this is a quote from yet another Christmas classic, Gavin and Stacey because let’s face it, what is Christmas without a little tipple of Baileys. This homemade version is perfect for gifts and the added touch of some crushed After-Eights make it extra festive (not to mention, delish).


Easy to make, just blend all the ingredients (below) together and decanter into some glass jars/bottles.

Tip: As an extra special gift at Christmas, I like to give friends & family a little jar of home made Irish Cream along with a jar of hot chocolate. Boozy adult hot chocolate is always a good idea at Christmas, right? 

Ingredients (makes around 1 litre):

  • 300ml single cream
  • 370ml (or a 35cl bottle) Irish whiskey
  • 1x 397g can of condensed Milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp Camp coffee extract
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp Almond extract
  • 6 After Eight mints or equivalent
  • 3-4 tsp cocoa powder or chocolate sauce

Method: 

  1. Simply place all of the ingredients into a large blender (I recommend breaking up the chocolate mints) and place the blender on medium speed for around 45 seconds. Taste to see if any coffee extract, chocolate or cream is needed 
  2. Once right, decanter into sterilised bottles and store on the fridge until you’re ready to serve/give to friends and family 
  3. The Irish Cream will keep for up to two months, shake before use as the chocolate can separate 

‘Tis the season to be jolly! Nic x 

Chocolate Orange Trifles

Yet another twist on a classic dessert, all courtesy of that thing called Christmas!


Recently I posted a recipe for my Chocolate Orange Brownies and this dessert brings them into a whole new light. Topped with creamy chocolate orange custard, fresh whipped cream and chocolate brownie crumbs these little trifle pots are bursting with flavour and super easy to make (just THREE steps). Sitting pretty in glass jam jars, these trifles also also make perfect homemade Christmas gifts for friends and family – just store in the fridge and pop the lid on top.


Note: I used leftover chocolate orange brownies but if you don’t make homemade brownies, you can use shop bought (the Co-Operative in the UK sell chocolate orange brownies but otherwise, standard brownies will do).

Ingredients (makes four individual pots or one medium sized trifle):

For the custard

  • 100g dark chocolate
  • 500ml ready-made refrigerated custard ( I used Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Madagascan Vanilla)
  • 1 orange (zest only) or 1 tsp orange essence

For the bottom brownie layer

  • 4 medium sized chocolate orange brownies (homemade or regular shop bought)

For the topping

  • 300ml double cream, whipped
  • Brownie crumbs
  • Chocolate orange shavings or whole segments

Method:

  1. Firstly, break up the chocolate and add to a saucepan along with the custard and orange zest (unless you’re using orange essence). On a low heat, melt the chocolate into the custard then remove from the heat to cool. Cover the saucepan with clingfilm to prevent from curdling
  2. Crush the brownies into pieces and place into your sterilised jam jars, pressing down to form a level base. Once the custard is cool, you can pour it through a sieve to rid of the orange zest (this is optional – if you’re using orange essence, you can also ignore this step)
  3. Pour your prepared custard on top of the brownie layer then top with the whipped cream, leftover brownie crumbs and some chocolate orange segments. Store in the fridge until ready to serve. The trifles can keep up to two days

Enjoy, Nic x

This recipe was based on BBC Good Food’s Boozy Brownie Trifle. For other Christmas recipes check out my no bake Malteser Pie and Millionaire Pavlova.