Cakes & Bakes: Gypsy Creams

Home-made gypsy creams | H is for Home

We needed some treats for our biscuit barrel so that was the subject for today’s Cakes & Bakes… but which kind of biscuit?

Butter, sugar and golden syrup in a saucepan | H is for Home Gypsy creams dough mixture | H is for Home

Justin started reminiscing about Gypsy Creams – and commenting on the fact that they seem to have disappeared from the shops. I have to admit that growing up in Trinidad, I’d never heard of Gypsy Creams – but they certainly sounded good enough to try.

Gypsy creams dough balls | H is for Home Gypsy creams dough balls flattened with the back of a fork | H is for Home

My numerous baking books didn’t offer a single recipe, but fortunately I found one available online.

They incorporate flour, butter, oats, golden syrup and most importantly chocolate. Two crisp biscuity layers sandwich a moist chocolate buttercream layer.

Gypsy creams biscuits cooling on a wire rack | H is for Home

Apparently coconut can be added to the recipe too. These are often called Romany Creams, but Justin thinks that the packet Gypsy Creams from his youth had something ‘coconutty’ about them.

Making chocolate buttercream | H is for Home

I have to say that they’re absolutely delicious – and are now a firm favourite of mine having missed out for nearly 50 years!

Home-made gypsy creams | H is for Home

Fig, almond and walnut loaf
Ingredients
  1. 100g/3½oz dried figs
  2. 100ml/3½ fl oz water
  3. 60g/2oz walnuts
  4. 175g/6oz ground almonds
  5. 3 large eggs
  6. 80g/3oz melted coconut oil or unsalted butter
  7. 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  8. 1tsp cider vinegar
  9. Pinch of saltHome-made fig almond walnut loaf ingredients
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Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 150°C/300ºF/Gas mark 2
  2. Line a 500g/1lb loaf tin with baking parchment
  3. Roughly chop the figs and add them with the water to a small saucepan over a medium heat. Simmer gently until most of the water is absorbed
  4. Blitz the figs in a food processor until they form a coarse paste
  5. Add the ground almonds and process again until damp crumbs form
  6. Add the walnuts and salt and process again briefly until they're coarsely chopped. Set aside.
  7. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, beat eggs and bicarbonate of soda with an electric hand whisk until frothy
  8. Whilst still beating, slowly drizzle in the coconut oil/butter in a thin stream and continue beating until the eggs are pale, thick and doubled in volume
  9. Sprinkle vinegar over the eggs and beat briefly to distribute evenly. Work quickly as the vinegar will activate the bicarbonate of soda
  10. Tip the nut mixture onto the eggs and fold in thoroughly with a metal spoon until the nuts are evenly distributed
  11. Scrape into the prepared tin and bake for 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes away clean. Give the loaf more time to bake and perhaps turn the temperature down if it browns too fast
  12. Cool on a wire rack before eating
Notes
  1. You can store the loaf in an air-tight container in a cool place for up to 3 days - or slice & freeze for up to 2 weeks
Print
Adapted from River Cottage
Adapted from River Cottage
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Cakes & Bakes: Brownie butter cake

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Slice of home made brownie butter cake | H is for Home

We have a very attractive offering for this week’s Cakes & Bakes post – isn’t this layered brownie butter cake pretty? The deep chocolate brown and the warm yellow are very pleasing to the eye. It’s a really good ‘tea & cake’ kind of cake which scores even more points.

Home-made brownie butter cake

It’s the perfect thing for the two of us here at H is for Home headquarters as Adelle loves chocolate brownie and Justin loves butter cake. And both of us think the combination works really well. Correction, make that the three of us here… Fudge loves the crumbs!

Sticky ginger loaf
For the cake
  1. 225g/8oz self-raising flour
  2. 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  3. 1tsp ground ginger
  4. 1tsp ground cinnamon
  5. 115g/4oz butter
  6. 115g/4oz demerara sugar
  7. 115g/4oz black treacle
  8. 115g/4oz golden syrup
  9. 250ml/9floz milk
  10. 85g/3oz stem ginger in syrup, finely chopped
  11. 1 egg
For the icing
  1. 80g/3oz icing sugar, sieved
  2. 2tbs stem ginger syrup
  3. 10g/⅓oz stem ginger, finely choppedSticky ginger loaf ingredients
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For the cake
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4
  2. Grease a 900g/2lb loaf tin
  3. Sieve the flour, bicarbonate of soda & ground spices into a large mixing bowl
  4. Melt the butter, demerara sugar, treacle and syrup over a low heat, until all the sugar has dissolved. Stir in the milk
  5. Add the finely chopped stem ginger to the flour mixture, pour in the melted ingredients, stir thoroughly
  6. Add the egg and combine before pouring the batter into the tin
  7. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes away clean
  8. Allow to cool completely before turning out onto a wire cooling rack
For the icing
  1. Mix the sugar with 2tbs of ginger syrup to form a runny icing (add a tsp of water if necessary)
  2. Drizzle over the top of the cake before sprinkling with the finely chopped stem ginger (or crystallized ginger if you have it)
Print
Adapted from Flora
Adapted from Flora
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Simply Divine!

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Divine Chocolate Fairtrade Fortnight competition | H is for Home

Fairtrade Fortnight logoThis month, we’re linking up with Divine Chocolate to commemorate Fairtrade Fortnight which began yesterday. It runs until 13 March and shines a spotlight on all the farmers around the world who are now thriving thanks to them receiving fair prices for their crops.

Divine is one of a growing number of companies who only use fairly traded ingredients in their products. Not only this, the company is 44% owned by the cocoa farmers so they receive a direct share of the profits.

If you like chocolate (and who doesn’t?) you can enter to win one of Divine’s tasting hampers – gift boxed & filled with 13 bars of delectable deliciousness! Even if you don’t like chocolate, you can still enter and, if you win, you can give it to a loved one as a present and score some (chocolate) brownie points!

Simply leave us a comment below telling us what is your favourite type of Divine Chocolate.

Divine Chocolate tasting hamper

Shared on: Superluckyme | The Prizefinder | Loquax | U Me and the Kids

Cakes & Bakes: Petit fours

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Plate of various petit fours with espresso | H is for Home

We have a few friends coming over for dinner this weekend.

Vegan date & nut petit fours | H is for Home

We must like them because they’re getting 3 courses!

Vegan date & nut petit fours in a vintage tin | H is for Home

We tend to split the cooking – which works out well as Justin prefers to do the savoury dishes and I prefer making the sweets. It looks like it’s going to be poached smoked salmon & asparagus to begin. And he’s just set about making some home-made pies for the main course. They look delicious – and hearty too. Celeriac mash and roasted root vegetables on the side. No one will go hungry, that’s for sure!

Chocolate petit fours with bowls of various toppings | H is for Home

So, after all that, something light to finish seems in order. I often make panna cotta or crème caramel when a big pudding isn’t required. But I thought I’d go even more delicate this time with a selection of three different petit fours. I’m sharing their preparation as this week’s Cakes & Bakes recipe.

Marzipan petit fours | H is for Home

Our guests can have one or ten each, depending on how much room they’ve got left.

Dipping marzipan petit fours into chocolate glaze | H is for Home

Serving them in pretty petit four paper cases really enhances their presentation. They’ll be delicious with an after dinner coffee, port or brandy… a lovely way to end the meal.

Vegan chocolate petit fours
Yields 25
Ingredients
  1. 300g/10½oz dark chocolate
  2. pinch sea salt
  3. 2tbs coconut oil
  4. 215ml/7½fl oz tinned coconut milk
  5. toasted desiccated coconut, chopped mixed nuts, icing sugar and/or cocoa powder to finish
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Instructions
  1. Break the chocolate up into small pieces and put it into a large heatproof bowl
  2. Add the coconut oil and the salt
  3. In a small saucepan, bring the coconut milk to the boil before pouring it over the chocolate. Stir until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth
  4. Allow to cool, cover the bowl with cling film and leave to set overnight in the fridge (or at least 4 hours).
  5. Put the toasted desiccated coconut chopped mixed nuts, icing sugar and/or cocoa powder into separate wide-bottomed bowls
  6. Using a measuring teaspoon, scoop out a portion of ganache before rolling between your palms to form a ball before putting it on a plate or baking sheet
  7. Repeat until all the ganache has been used
  8. Cover the balls in cling film and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes
  9. Toss in the balls equally between the chopped mixed nuts, icing sugar and or cocoa powder, rolling around the bowls making sure each ball is completely coated
  10. Carefully place the balls on to a plate lined with parchment paper, recover carefully with cling film and put them back into the fridge to firm up again
Notes
  1. These can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a week
Print
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/
Chocolate covered marzipan petit fours
Yields 45
For the marzipan
  1. 150g/5oz ground almonds
  2. 200g/7oz icing sugar
  3. 2tsp almond extract
  4. 1 egg white
For the chocolate coating
  1. 50ml/1¾fl oz whipping cream
  2. 7g/¼oz sugar
  3. 12ml/½fl oz water
  4. 45g/1½oz dark chocolate, chopped
Add ingredients to shopping list
If you don’t have Buy Me a Pie! app installed you’ll see the list with ingredients right after downloading it
For the marzipan
  1. Put the ground almonds, icing sugar, almond extract and egg white into a food processor and combine until it comes together into a thick ball (about a minute)
  2. Turn the marzipan out onto a work surface and knead it a couple of times
  3. Form it into a pack of butter shape, wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for about an hour
  4. Bring cream, sugar, and 60ml/2fl oz water to boil in heavy medium saucepan, stirring until sugar dissolves
  5. Add the chocolate and whisk until melted and the glaze is smooth
  6. Slice the slab of marzipan into equal sized cubes before rolling each between your palms to form balls
  7. Using a tooth pick, dip each ball into the chocolate sauce before placing it on a tray lined with parchment paper
  8. Cover the petit fours carefully with cling film and chill for half an hour
Notes
  1. Any unused marzipan will keep for up to a month in the fridge or 6 months in the freezer
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H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/
Date & nut petit fours
A delicious vegan after-dinner treat
Ingredients
  1. 125g cashews
  2. 40g desiccated coconut
  3. 125g pitted dates
  4. 2tbs coconut oil
  5. ½tsp sea salt
  6. ½tsp vanilla essence
  7. 1tbs water
Add ingredients to shopping list
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Instructions
  1. In a food processor, process blitz the cashews and desiccated coconut to fine crumbs
  2. Add the dates, coconut oil, vanilla and sea salt and process again until the mixture forms large, sticky lumps
  3. Scoop the dough using a measuring teaspoon before rolling between your palms to form balls. If the mixture is too crumbly add another tablespoon of water and blitz again for a few seconds
  4. Arrange on a baking sheet or plate lined with parchment paper
  5. Chill in the fridge for an hour before rolling in toasted desiccated coconut and/or cocoa powder to finish
Notes
  1. These can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for 6 months or more
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H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Cakes & Bakes: Chocolate caramel chestnut cake

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Home-made chocolate caramel chestnut cake | H is for Home

When we did our Christmas shop, we picked up a bag of chestnuts – something you’d only really see in the shops around that time of year.

stack of orange cake tins and handful of chestnuts

We had thoughts of a lovely Christmas lunch, followed by a walk in the snowy countryside and then coming home to roast the chestnuts in our wood-burner. Chance would be a fine thing! Three weeks on, the bag of chestnuts was still in our vegetable rack waiting for its big day.

making caramel sauce

I had a look through my cookbooks and online and came across a recipe for a chocolate caramel chestnut cake. The original recipe has a brandy syrup which I substituted with rum. It also calls for edible gold dust to brush on the chestnut garnish – not something I had to hand! It looks so pretty that I’d definitely plan ahead and order some if I was making the cake for Christmas or another special occasion.

brushing rum syrup on a layer of chocolate caramel chestnut cake

This recipe looks like a big, time-consuming job but as its author, Dorie Greenspan, says:

Because every element of the cake can be made ahead, you can work on it in stages. The filled and glazed cake can be kept in the refrigerator for a day, but add the chestnut garnish right before serving.”

The ganache is best if refrigerated overnight. The glaze needs a 4-hour rest and the cake, if it’s been seriously chilled, needs some serious time on the counter to come to room temperature – serve it cold, and you won’t get the full measure of pleasure from the ganache so plan ahead.”

Pouring chocolate glaze on to the chocolate caramel chestnut cake

To roast the chestnuts (in an oven, if you don’t have the quintessential ‘open fire’), preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/gas mark 6. Mark a small cross on the flat side of each using a small sharp kitchen knife making sure you pierce the skin but not cut the nut inside. You could also pierce a few times with the fork. Put the nuts on a baking sheet, cut side up, and cook for about 10-20 minutes, turning a couple of times until the skins open. Peel while still warm.

Home-made chocolate caramel chestnut cake, sliced | H is for Home

The completed cake looks very impressive with it’s height, multiple layers and glossy finish. Tasty too – well worth the time and effort!

Easy pizza base
Yields 3
Ingredients
  1. 2 tbsp fast acting yeast
  2. 1 tsp sugar
  3. 1 tbsp olive oil
  4. 300ml lukewarm water
  5. 500g strong flour
  6. ½ tsp sea saltEasy pizza base ingredients
Add ingredients to shopping list
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Instructions
  1. In a measuring jug mix the oil, lukewarm water, sugar and fast acting yeast
  2. Leave in a warm place for 10 minutes for the yeast to begin foaming
  3. In a large mixing bowl combine the flour and salt and make a well in the middle
  4. Add the yeast mixture and combine to a smooth, firm dough
  5. On a floured work surface, knead the dough for 5 minutes and form into a ball
  6. Put the ball into the large mixing bowl, cover with cling film and leave in a warm place to prove until it doubles in size - about an hour
  7. Tip the dough back out on to the floured work surface, divide into 3 equal parts and flatten each into 1cm circles
  8. Leave to rest for 15 minutes before adding toppings and cooking
Print
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Gimme Five! Advent calendars

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Selection of 5 advent calendars

Advent starts on Sunday so you only have a couple of days left to get your hands on your advent calendars! They’ve been around since the 19th century and are traditionally used to celebrate the run up to, and prepare for, Christmas Day.

It wasn’t always about scoffing a chocolate a day – although I wholeheartedly agree with that undertaking – the 24 compartments once held a different bible verse, prayer or poem. How about filling them with something different and unique – handmade sweets, a daily artwork, ‘activity’ coupons or individual figures to slowly make up a nativity set? I like the idea of filling each of mine with an advent candle – or little scented tea lights like these from IKEA.

  1. Reusable fabric advent calendar – Christmas tree: £40.76, Etsy
  2. The Advent Calendar – Truffles for Two: £26, Hotel Chocolat
  3. Wooden LED lit advent calendar by The Forest & Co: £29.50, Notonthehighstreet
  4. Wooden Houses advent calendar: £40, John Lewis
  5. Susanne Kaufmann 2015 advent calendar – £99, Liberty