Marble Monogram Cookies

In need of some sugar and spice? Treat yo’self to these aromatic gingerbread-esque cookies. They’re quick and easy to make, and are great as homemade, personalised gifts this winter. Will you save these as late-night snacks with a cup of tea, or gift them to a friend with pumpkin spice withdrawal symptoms?

Ingredients (makes about 20 discs):IMG_0353.JPG

  • 175g plain flour (plus extra to roll)
  • 50g butter
  • 2 tsp ginger
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 85g light brown soft sugar
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup or honey
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 egg
  • 2 colours of fondant
  • icing sugar to roll
  • gold piping gel
  • glitter to decorate

Method:IMG_0352.JPG

  • Pre-heat oven to 180°C 
  • Combine all the dry ingredients (flour, ginger, cinnamon, bicarbonate of soda and sugar) in a large mixing bowl
  • Add the wet ingredients (golden syrup or honey, vanilla essence and egg) to the mixture and combine well
  • Soften the butter in the microwave and use your finger tips to rub the butter into the mixture as best as you can – you’re aiming for a squishy crumb-like consistency
  • Use your hands to gather the crumbs in the mixing bowl and pack together to form a dough
  • Dust a surface and rolling pin with flour, then roll the dough out to the thickness of a £1 coin
  • Use a round cutter to cut out discs of the dough and place on a lined baking tray
  • Bake for 10 minutes and check, but they’ll likely need an extra 2 minutes (they should be golden brown in colour and shouldn’t be rock hard – they’ll harden as they cool)
  • Warm up the fondant in your hands to soften it – use 2 shades of the same colour
  • Roll the two colours into sausage shapes and twist them together before rolling them out (on a surface lightly dusted with icing sugar) to create a marble effect
  • Use the same cutter to cut out discs of the marble fondant
  • Make a simple icing to glue the fondant discs to the cookie discs (add a drop of water to some icing sugar) when the cookies have cooled
  • Use gold piping gel to monogram your cookies – if you have a fine nib you can probably do 2 initials on each cookie, but I could only fit 1 letter on each
  • Dust your monogram cookies with glitter (obviously)

Drip & Drizzle Gingerbread

Jackson Pollock at work

Jackson Pollock at work

The artist Jackson Pollock was an influential figure in the abstract expressionist movement. He was born on 28th January 1912, and to honour him on his would-be birthday, I have designed ‘Drip & Drizzle Gingerbread’. The bold decorating colours and splattering I used for the glaze are imitations of his painting technique. This recipe is adapted from Dan and Phil’s ‘Pumpkin Spice Pumpkin Cookies’ Halloween Baking video tutorial. I know gingerbread and pumpkin spice are flavours typically associated with autumn and Halloween, but the rich taste and aroma of these cookies are enough to warm me up and put a smile on my face this winter!


Ingredients (makes about 200 small cookies!)

665g plain flour
1 tsp baking soda
¾ tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1½ tsp ground ginger
225g unsalted butter
395g granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence
115ml dark molasses (treacle)

To decorate: about 50g icing sugar, a few drops of water, coloured food dyes and coloured fondant

MethodIMG_9248

Part 1 – preparing the dough

  • Create a flour mixture by combining the following dry ingredients in a mixing bowl: flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger
  • Cream the butter and sugar in a separate bowl until light and fluffy 
  • Add the eggs, vanilla and molasses to the creamed mixture
  • Add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture until a dough is formed
  • Split the dough in half and form large discs with both sections
  • Wrap the discs in cling film and put in the fridge for at least 2 hours to chill

Part 2 – baking the cookies IMG_9246

  • Preheat the oven to 190°C
  • Take out the desired amount of dough – either keep the rest in the fridge (for up to 3 days) or in the freezer until your next baking adventure
  • Sprinkle a clean surface and large rolling pin with spare plain flour
  • Roll out the dough and cut 1/4 inch thick shapes with cookie cutters
  • Place the cookies on a baking sheet (leave enough space for them to spread out in the oven)
  • Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes (the cookies will set completely when taken out of the oven so do not wait for them to harden in the oven, otherwise they will be rock solid!)
  • Leave on a cooling rack whilst you prepare the decorations

IMG_9250Part 3 – decorating the cookies

  • Sprinkle a clean surface and a small rolling pin with icing sugar and roll out coloured fondant of your choice
  • Cut out shapes using the same cookie cutters that you used for the cookies themselves (the fondant should be about the same thickness as a £1 coin)
  • Set the fondant shapes to one side and prepare the icing glaze (this dries out quickly so should be done last)
  • Put a few teaspoons of icing sugar into a small bowl and add a drop of water, then mix
  • If the paste is not fluid enough, add a couple more drops of water (you can keep adding water or icing sugar to thin out or thicken the glaze until it reaches your desired consistency)
  • Add coloured food dye to the glaze
  • Take a teaspoon and add a small dollop of glaze on top of each cookie (to act as glue) before placing a fondant shape directly on top
  • Use a spoon to drizzle the glaze on top of the fondant – I lined mine up on the counter and used large sweeping strokes to do this
  • If you have 2 different coloured fondants and food dyes, you can make 2 batches of fondant shapes and glazes and use the opposite coloured glaze on the fondant (this works best with opposite colours, i.e. blue/orange, yellow/purple, red/green)

Strawberry Milkshake Cupcakes

I made these delicious cupcakes to celebrate my birthday, and they went down a treat! The Nesquik powder and Party Rings make me feel so nostalgic and it’s so exciting to be able to combine them in a fun dessert. The best part is that they actually taste of a strawberry milkshake! Make sure to use colourful cupcake cases and a generous serving of frosting! Enjoy 🙂

Ingredients

IMG_9219

On another occasion, I used the left-over strawberry milkshake frosting to decorate vanilla cupcakes and dyed the frosting blue to match the cupcake cases.

For the batter:

430g plain flour

3 tsp baking powder

265g granulated sugar

375ml milk

125ml vegetable oil

125g butter

2 tbsp strawberry yoghurt

1 tsp vanilla essence

2 eggs

200g strawberry Nesquik powder

For the frosting:

200g butter

400g icing sugar

1 tsp vanilla essence

120g strawberry Nesquik powder

Extras:

1 pack of ‘Party Rings’ to decorate

Strawberry jam as a filling

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 160°C
  • Combine all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl
  • Cream the butter and sugar together, then add to the dry ingredients
  • Combine all the other wet ingredients in a separate mixing bowl, then add to the other mixture
  • Spoon the batter into cupcake cases
  • Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes
  • When the cupcakes have cooled, use a sharp knife to cut the core out of each cupcake and fill the hole with a spoonful of strawberry jam
  • To make the frosting, cream the butter, icing sugar, vanilla essence, food colouring and Nesquik
  • Pipe onto each cupcake and half-submerge a Party Ring biscuit inside the frosting before it has set

 

Gluten-Free Honey Cupcakes

IMG_8014On Rosh Hashanah, the
Jewish new year, it is customary to dip apple in honey and wish friends and family a ‘sweet’ new year. Honey cake is also
very popular at this time of year as it incorporates this symbolic ingredient. I decided to use a simple honey cake recipe for cupcakes to give as gifts to loved ones for the new year. I can safely say that they are absolutely delicious and will make sweet treats for Rosh Hashanah (the warm spices also give them an autumnal feel so will be perfect for the coming months).

Ingredients (makes 18)

For the cake batter:

2 eggs

150g caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla essence

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 cup boiling water

200g golden syrup

1/2 cup sunflower oil

300g Dove’s Farm gluten-free self raising flour

2 heaped tsp cinnamon

3 heaped tsp ginger

1 tsp mixed spice

For the frosting/decoration:

250g margarine

500g icing sugar

1 tsp vanilla essence

1 tbsp cinnamon

1 tsp ginger

1 tbsp mixed spices

2 tbsp water

1 Crunchie bar or any other chocolate-covered honeycomb

gold decorative sprinkles


How to make the cake batter:

  • IMG_0001Preheat the oven to 160°C
  • Beat the caster sugar and eggs in a large mixing bowl
  • Add the sunflower oil and vanilla essence
  • Sift the dry ingredients (flour, spices and bicarb) into a separate bowl
  • Add the boiling water to the syrup in a separate container and stir them until they have dissolved together (if you don’t have enough golden syrup, feel free to compensate with honey or a butterscotch syrup)
  • Add the flour mixture and syrup mixture alternately to the bowl with the other wet ingredients
  • Use an ice cream scoop to put the cake batter into cupcake cases as is a very sloppy mixture (2 scoops for regular cupcake cases or 3 scoops for larger cases – like the brown paper ones in my photos)
  • Put the cupcakes in the oven for 20 minutes and then check to see whether they need to stay in for a few extra minutes (they should be a golden brown colour, spongy and moist – do not over-bake!)


How to make the frosting and decorate the cupcakes:

  • IMG_8008Soften the margarine and cream until smooth
  • Add the icing sugar and mix together until smooth
  • Add the vanilla essence and spices (you can change the quantity of spices depending on personal preference – I’d suggest tasting as you go along until you’re happy)
  • If the frosting is too stiff, add tablespoons of water and mix again until you have your desired consistency
  • Put the Crunchie (or honeycomb) into a ziplock bag and crush it with the end of a rolling pin – you want a range of different sized chunks and lots of crumbs, too
  • Pipe a swirl of frosting onto the cupcakes and sprinkle the honeycomb crumbs/chunks on top before the frosting sets
  • Alternatively, use gold coloured decorative sprinkles to complement the earthy toned honey cake and spiced frosting

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I have enjoyed baking these honey cupcakes! I shall definitely be serving them again next Rosh Hashanah 🙂 Shana Tova to all my Jewish blog followers!

Lemon Cupcakes

unnamed-5

There’s something delightful about mixing sweet and sour flavours to challenge the senses. My lemon cupcakes are light, fluffy and bittersweet – perfect for afternoon tea in the sunshine. Complete with streaky frosting swirls and a cute blueberry and fondant flower, they are sure to brighten up your day.

 

Ingredients (makes 10 cupcakes)

For the cupcake batter…

150g plain flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 pinch bicarbonate of soda

1 pinch salt

115g caster sugar

100g butter

2 eggs

1 1/3 tsp lemon zest

1 1/3 tsp lemon juice

70ml milk

For the cupcake frosting…

80g butter

265g icing sugar

2/3 tsp vanilla extract

2/3 tsp lemon zest

2/3 tsp lemon juice

3 tbsp milk

1 drop of blue and yellow food colouring

To decorate…

1/2 pack of fondant

10 blueberries

edible glitter

5 cocktail sticks (not to eat, don’t worry!)

unnamed-6

How to make the cupcakes…

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C. 
  • Sift the flour into a bowl and add the other dry ingredients (baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt).
  • Put the butter in a second bowl (this bowl needs to be large as it will be the main mixing bowl) and melt in the microwave so that it’s softer and ready for mixing.
  • Add the sugar to the butter and mix them together until creamy.
  • Crack the eggs into a third bowl and whisk gently to get a smooth consistency.
  • Add the remaining wet ingredients to the bowl with the eggs (milk, vanilla extract, lemon juice). Also grate lemon zest into this bowl. Stir everything.
  • Add half of the contents of the first bowl to the second bowl (with the butter and sugar). Fold in the dry ingredients carefully so that the batter will be light and fluffy.
  • Add half of the contents of the third bowl to the second bowl and continue to fold.
  • Repeat the previous two steps so that all the ingredients are now in the large mixing bowl and folded in.
  • Line a baking tray with cupcake cases (the mixture is a little bit greasy so foil cases will work better than paper ones).
  • Spoon the batter into the cases so that they are 2/3 full.
  • Put the tray in the over for 20-25 minutes. Test the cupcakes after 20 minutes with a cocktail stick (if it comes out clean, it’s ready).
  • Place the tray on a cooling rack for about 30 minutes before decorating. Whilst you’re waiting, do some washing up, clear your surface and make the frosting/decorations!

How to make the frosting…

  • Put the butter in a mixing bowl and melt in the microwave to soften it.
  • Sift in the icing sugar in small amounts, mixing it in well before adding the next bit.
  • Add the vanilla extract, lemon juice and lemon extract.
  • The milk is simply to make the frosting softer and easier to pipe. If the frosting is already smooth, the milk is not needed, but if it’s still sticky and powdery, keep adding the milk in tablespoons until the consistency is as you desire.

How to decorate the cupcakes…

  • Split the frosting mixture in half and put each half in a separate bowl. 
  • Get two piping bags ready with a star-shaped nozzle in each.
  • Pour a drop of yellow food colouring down the inside of the piping bag so that it makes a streak all the way down. Repeat this so that there are a few streaks running down all the way round the inside. This may be messy so hold the piping bag inside a tall glass to catch stray drops of food colouring if needed. Do the same with blue food colouring in the other piping bag. I chose yellow to represent the lemon flavour, and blue to complement the blueberry decoration.
  • Pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes, starting in the middle and spiralling outwards. 
  • Roll out your fondant on a suface lightly spinkled with spare icing sugar. 
  • Use flower shaped cutters to make fondant flowers, and gently press them onto the centre of the freshly frosted cupcakes.
  • Snap 5 cocktail sticks in half and push each half through the centre of each cupcake.
  • Attach a blueberry to the top of the cocktail stick, which will hold it in place.
  • Sprinkle edible glitter over the cupcakes to make them sparkle!