Cheesy Potato and Aspragus Puffs

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These are great for a party snack or for a side dish to accompany your lunch or breakfast. You can experiment with adding different things in place of the asparagus.

Cheesy Potato and Asparagus Puffs (makes 12)

500g potatoes, peeled and chopped into chunks
8 asparagus spears
2 medium free range eggs
50g grated cheddar cheese
25g butter
3 tbsp milk

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.

2. Grease a 12 hole muffin tin. Make sure you do it really well, these ones take a bit of manuoevering to get them out of the tin!

3. Bring the potatoes to the boil and simmer for around 15 minutes until soft.

4. Meanwhile cook the asparagus anyway you choose, I usually steam or cook it in a skillet on the hob. Cut the asparagus into 1 cm long pieces.

5. Seperate two eggs. Whip the whites until fluffy and set to one side.

6. When they are cooked, drain the potatoes well and mash thoroughly.

7. Mix the cheese, asparagus, milk, butter and egg yolks into the potato until thoroughly combined. Gently fold in the whisked egg whites.

8. Spoon the mixture into the muffin tins. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes.

9. On removing the tray from the oven, run a knife around the edge of each puff to ease it away from the tin, but wait until they have cooled before extracting them.

Baileys Popcorn

This is a grown up popcorn, ideal for a party or a film night with the girls.

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Baileys Caramel Popcorn

125g popcorn, unpopped
Frylight cooking spray
100g caster sugar
50g liquid glucose
100g butter
120ml Baileys
2 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda

1. Start by popping the popcorn. I store my unpopped corn in the freezer as I read somewhere that this makes the fluffiest popcorn. It also seems to help with making sure as many kernels pop as possible. I pop my popcorn in a lidded glass bowl in the microwave. I spray Frylight over the kernels, cover with the lid and set the microwave for 2 minutes. If the popping hasn’t slowed down by the time the microwave pings, I add another 30 seconds, and keep doing this until most of the kernels look to have popped.

2. Spread out the popcorn in a single on a large baking tray or trays. I use a silicone sheet instead of baking paper or foil here to line the baking tray, like the sort you can use to line the bottom of your oven. You can then start preparing the caramel coating. In a pan, gently heat the sugar, butter and liquid glucose, stirring until it combines and the butter is melted. Once the sugar has dissolved, turn the temperature up and heat for 2 minutes. The mixture will become a caramel colour. Keep an eye on it but don’t stir it.

3. Add the Baileys, watch out in case it spits when you tip it in. Mix thoroughly to combine, it may take awhile for the caramel and Baileys to combine to a smooth consisteny, and keep on the heat for 2 more minutes.

4. Remove from the heat. Add the Bicarbonate of Soda. The mixture will fizz up, give it a good stir to mix it thoroughly. Tip it over the popcorn and mix the popcorn around with a spoon to make sure it is all coated. This will take a few minutes to get an even coverage.

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5. Preheat the oven to 100°C. Bake the popcorn for 20 minutes until the caramel has just started to crisp up. It will take on a deeper brown colour on baking. Allow to cool before serving.

Chocolate thumbprint cookies

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100g Butter, at room temperature
100g Caster Sugar
3 heaped tablespoons Cocoa powder
Pinch of Salt
1 tsp Baking powder
½ tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
175g Plain flour
100g White chocolate

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.

2. Cream together the sugar and the butter. Then mix in the cocoa powder until well combined.

3. Add the salt, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and flour and mix briskly together.

4. Prepare 2 large baking sheets by covering them in baking paper.

5. Roll the mixture into walnut sized balls and place on the baking sheets, keeping them well spaced. Press your thumb into the middle to make a indent.

6. Bake in the oven for 7-9 minutes for a chewy texture. You can leave them in longer if you want a firmer texture.

7. When you take the biscuits out of the oven, press your thumb into them again to make sure the dent remains.

8. Allow the biscuits to cool.

9. Melt the white chocolate.  I do this in the microwave, but take care to melt the chocolate gently as it can easily burn. Use the chocolate to fill the indent. Allow the chocolate to set. (If, like me you are taking these biscuits to a Lego themed event you can top them with a Lego brick modelled from modelling icing.)

This recipe is based on a recipe from A Pinch of Yum.

 

Mini Treacle Custard tarts

I work in a library and came across the idea for this recipe in a really old retro cookery book.  As soon as I saw it I was desperate to give it a try. I’ve adapted the original recipe and gone for mini tarts rather than a big one.  I cheated and used shop-bought pastry cases, but if you’re good at pastry feel free to make your own.

Mini treacle custard tarts

Mini treacle custard tarts (Makes 18)

One packet of mini sweet pastry cases
200g golden syrup
1/2 tsp lemon rind
1 tsp lemon juice
15g butter
30ml single cream
1 egg

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.

2. Heat the golden syrup and the lemon rind gently in a pan.  Add the butter and stir until melted.  Take off the heat and stir in the lemon juice.  Allow to cool.

3. Beat the cream and the egg together.  Whisk the cooled syrup into the cream and egg mixture until well combined.

4. Fill the pastry cases with the mixture.  Bake for 15 minutes until golden.

Mini treacle custard tart

These are lovely served fresh from the oven, but are also nice cold.

Girls’ Night In – Archers and Cranberry Granita

This is a bit of a cheat’s dessert, as it’s so easy.  It’s perfect for a girlie night in.

Archers and Cranberry Granita

Archers and Cranberry Granita

250ml pre-mixed Archers and Cranberry Juice in a can

Archers and Cranberry juice

1. If you’re going to serve your granita in a martini glass, then one can will serve two people.  If you have larger glasses or want to be more extravagent, use one can per person.

2. Pour the liquid into a freezer-proof container and freeze overnight.

3. When you are ready to serve, use a spoon to break up the mixture into small crystals.  The alcohol content of the mixture means the liquid won’t freeze fully and you’ll only need to break the mixture up once just before serving, rather than several times as you would with a traditional granita.

4. Serve in a cocktail glass.

Of course, you can try this with other premixed cans, or you could experiment with your own alchoholic mixtures.

Baileys and White Chocolate Bites

One of my friends had a birthday party this week and these delicious little morsels were the perfect present.

Baileys and white chocolate bites

Baileys and White Chocolate Bites (makes approximately 30)

300g white chocolate
60ml double cream
2 tbsp Baileys
1 tsp vanilla essence
25g dark chocolate

1. Break the white chocolate up into chunks and heat slowly with the cream in a bowl over a pan of boiling water until the mixture is smooth.

2. Stir in the Baileys and vanilla essence.  Allow the mixture to chill in the fridge for 2 hours.

3. Use a melon baller or teaspoon to scoop out evenly sized balls of chocolate.  Roll the balls in your hand and place on a sheet of baking paper.

4. Melt the dark chocolate and use to drizzle over the chocolates.  You can do this with a spoon, but if you’re not very neat like me you might want to use a piping bag to keep the chocolate under control.

5. When the dark chocolate is set place the chocolates into mini foil cases.

Whose afraid of the dark? Dark chocolate and orange cake bites

I seem to have developed a slight obsession with Cake pops, but they’re such a good way of using up cake crumbs. I didn’t have any lollipop stick to hand so these are cake bites rather than Cake pops, but the basic idea is the same.

Dark chocolate and orange cake bites (Makes 10)

Cake bites - choc orange

150g crumbled chocolate cake
50g marmalade
100g 85% cocoa solids chocolate
Dried orange peel to decorate
Mini bun cases

1. Mix together the marmalade with the cake crumbs.  It will still look crumbly, but don’t worry, just mix it in well.

2. Start rolling the mixture into balls, about 2.5cm across by pressing the mixture together firmly in your hand and then rolling it so it is as close to a sphere shape as possible (easier said than done, I’m afraid – mine often end up a bit wonky!).

3. When you’ve rolled all the mixture into balls, place them in a fridge and let them chill for at least 1 hour.

4. Melt the chocolate.  I use the microwave, but you have to be very careful and don’t let the chocolate burn.

5. Prepare a sheet of greaseproof paper to place your cake bites on.

6.  Coat the cake bites in chocolate one at a time.  Rescue the cake bite from the bowl of metled chocolate using a fork and let as much chocolate as possible drain off.  Place the cake bite onto the greaseproof paper.  Repeat with the remaining cake bites.

7. Use dried orange peel to decorate the cake bites.  Allow the chocolate to set.

8. Once the chocolate coating has dried place the cake bites into the mini bun cases to serve.

Choc orange cake bite